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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Kick Off Your Shoes and Sit a Spell

Normally at Late Nite we humbly gather together to use our keyboards to battle the forces of darkness and banish the downright stupid, but seeing as how today was devoted to putting Strip Search Sammy in the unemployment line I thought it would be nice to discuss a bit of lighter fare. Sort of a palate cleanser before we resume again tomorrow.

My friends Paul Cullum and Jerry Stahl both have pieces in the LA Weekly that are worthy of note. Paul's story concerns the cautionary Hollywood tale of filmmaker Eric Red, and -- well, you really just sort of have to read it to believe it. And Jerry says everything I hope I would say about the James Frey brouhaha if I was a much better writer and had actually read the book. Plus he is wickedly funny.

OT -- MAN people are pissed at the White House pool boy. I emailed his article yesterday to a bunch of people because I thought it was pretty amusing and despite the fact that it was totally wrong headed and utterly missed the point, he had a glimmer of a clue about what was going on. I suppose I just read a lot more of VandeHei's stuff than most people do so I was pleasantly suprised that it was relatively free of his normal slavish fabrications and rabid shrine-to-Tom-Delay fellatio. This was more of a gentle GOP foot massage.

Oh well, all I can tell you is that people are spitting blood. If anything happens at least I'll be able to say that this one didn't start with me.

Update: You can see Amato visiting live with the Young Turks. He's a star, that one.

Update II: Gilliard schools pool boy about oh so many things. Go witness the carnage.


Young Turks

The Young Turks are having a live, on-air "filibuster" until the Democrats get the 41 votes they need to support it. Brad Friedman of Brad Blog will be hosting from 5pm-8pm PT, and I'll be a guest at 7:00 PT. You can listen online here.

Update: John Amato of Crooks & Liars will be on the Young Turks at 9:30.


And Away We Go....

Just got off a conference call with Ted Kennedy and others, and we got a better idea where the Dems are on all of this.

Some notes:

Maria Cantwell is reportedly quite wobbly, and might be succeptible to pressure. If Cantwell falls, Murray will potentially fall too.

Levin, Harkin, Bayh, Lautenberg, Lincoln, Pryor and Lieberman (who has not in fact committed) all need pressure. As do Baucus and Menendez.

Kennedy says the press have been able to convince people that the Dems are obstructionist; they have been successful in spreading the perception that Daschle was an obstructionist, and look what happened to him. This is something the Democrats have seemed to internalize. They believe that voting their conscience on this matter is "obstructionist," and they think they will pay a fearsome price back home if they are perceived thusly, so PLEASE let them know that just the opposite is true.

Georgia10 at Kos is holding a great war room on the filibuster. She provides a really helpful list of fax numbers:
AR: Lincoln(D) (202) 228-1371
AR: Pryor(D) (202) 228-0908
CA: Boxer(D) (202) 226-6701
CA: Feinstein(D) (202) 228-3954
CO: Salazar(D) (202) 228-5036
CT: Dodd(D) (202) 224-1083
CT: Lieberman(D) (202) 224-9750
DE: Biden(D) (202) 224-0139
DE: Carper(D) (202) 228-2190
FL: Nelson(D) (202) 228-2183
HI: Akaka(D) (202) 224-2126
HI: Inouye(D) (202) 224-6747
IA: Harkin(D) (202) 224-9369
(319) 365-4683
(515) 284-4937
(563) 582-2342
(712) 252-1638
IL: Durbin(D) (202) 228-0400
IL: Obama(D) (202) 228-4260
IN: Bayh(D) 202-228-1377
LA: Landrieu(D) (202) 224-9735
MA: Kennedy(D) (202) 224-2417
MA: Kerry(D) (202) 224-8525
MD: Mikulski(D) (202) 224-8858
MD: Sarbanes(D) (202) 224-1651
MI: Levin(D) (202) 224-1388
MI: Stabenow(D) (202) 228-0325
MN: Dayton(D) (202) 228-2186
Local (612) 727-5223
MT: Baucus(D) (202) 224-0515
ND: Conrad(D) (202) 224-7776
ND: Dorgan(D) (202) 224-1193
NE: Nelson(D) (202) 228-0012
NJ: Corzine(D) (202) 228-2197
NJ: Lautenberg(D) (202) 224-9707
and (202) 228-4054
NM: Bingaman(D) (202) 224-2852
NV: Reid(D) (202) 224-7327
NY: Clinton(D) (202) 228-0282
NY: Schumer(D) (202) 228-3027
OR: Wyden(D) (202) 228-2717
RI: Reed(D) (202) 224-4680
SD: Johnson(D) (202) 228-0368
VT: Leahy(D) (202) 224-3595
VT: Jeffords(I) No FAX listed
WA: Cantwell(D) (202) 228-0514
WA: Murray(D) (202) 224-0238
WI: Feingold(D) (202) 224-2725
WI: Kohl(D) (202) 224-9787
WV: Rockefeller(D) (202) 224-7665
WV: Byrd(D) (202) 228-0002
Vulnerable Republicans:
Lincoln Chafee Fax: (202) 228-2853 / (401) 453-5085
Susan Collins: Fax: (202) 224-2693 / (207) 990-4604
Olympia Snowe: Fax: (202) 224-1946 / (207) 874-7631
Ted Stevens: Fax: (202) 224-2354
You can send a free fax here.

Make some noise...

Update: mcjoan has more on the Kennedy conference call and is keeping the pressure on at DKos.

Update: I am going to leave this post up for a while but I will be updating the list. If you find any more functional fax numbers please leave them in the comments below and I will keep putting them up.


The Filibuster Fight is Go

The last two days have been amazing.

Early Thursday afternoon, we broke the news that Senator John Kerry would lead a filibuster against Judge Sam Alito if he could get 41 Senators to sustain the filibuster. Three hours later, CNN confirmed our story.

Naturally, the White House freaked out and told Senator Bill Frist to schedule a cloture vote as quickly as possible - Monday at 4:30 p.m. - to prevent Democrats from uniting behind Kerry.

Then the White House called its media whores at the NY Times (David Kirkpatrick), AP (Jesse Holland), Pentagon Post (Charles Babington), CNN (Miles O'Brien), and MSNBC (Chris Matthews) and told them to trash John Kerry for daring to challenge the will of Emperor Bush, and to repeat over and over that Democrats did not have enough votes to stop Alito.

But even as Karl Rove was doing his dirty work, progressive activists like you were calling your Senators urging them to support John Kerry's filibuster.

And one by one, Democratic Senators began to turn around.
And from Sean-Paul Kelly:
Just got off the phone with someone highly placed in the filibuster fight: this is doable. It is an uphill battle, no doubt, but that person's words were: the momentum is shifting and has shifted perceptibly since Thursday. Senators are responding to the fact that this is the right thing to do, for the good of the country. This stuff is real. But they are also responding to Atrios' storyline:
The Democrats shocked Washington today by holding together, dropping a mighty turd in the punchbowl of the Bush administration, dealing a deadly blow to his nomination of Alito. The president won't be too happy tonight as he gives the 2006 state of the union speech.
The pressure, the phone calls, the emails and the blogposts are working....

We can, my contact said, pull this miracle off.
Sean-Paul Barbara Mikulski is one of the most vulnerable. Here is her contact information (thanks Prof):
Senator Barbara A Mikulski [MD] DEMOCRAT SWING VOTE
Washington, 202-224-4654 (phone), 202-224-8858 (fax)
Salisbury, 410-546-7711 (phone), 410-546-9324 (fax)
Greenbelt, 301-345-5517 (phone), 301-345-7573 (fax)
Annapolis, 410-263-1805 (phone), 410-263-5949 (fax)
Hagerstown, 301-797-2826 (phone), 301-797-2241 (fax)
Baltimore, 410-962-4510 (phone), 410-962-4760 (fax)
If you have any trouble getting through anywhere, leave the info in the comments because I'll be actively adjusting the contact info as I hear about this kind of stuff. (I've heard some Senate members may be turning off their toll-free numbers and their mailboxes are full.) It looks like the filibuster Dems want to reach out to us on this one, we'll be on a conference call with them soon. I will have more, much more as quickly as I know anything. In the mean time, I'm BEGGING you to take part in this. There is nothing more important you will do this weekend, or the next, to affect quite possibly the next 30 years in this country.

The fight is on. Let's not get outflanked on this one by Bill Frist, and let's prove we know how to show up.

Update: Phone mailboxes seem to be full. You can send a free fax here and here.

Update: As Colleen military mom pointed out in the comments, when sending a fax use an address with a city and zip code from that office. You can find zip codes for any city here.


Guardians of the Press

Wow. And more wow. That guy Elmendorf must be feeling it today.

I guess the lesson here is -- watch what you say to the Washington Post. You could print most anything short of Bush/Abramoff b&d photos on the front page of the NYT and it would not get the scrutiny from the netroots community that the tiniest line buried in the back of the Style section of the WaPo now gets. Within minutes after an article appears online my inbox is stuffed with people disecting every shill-tinged word.

If you put a hundred people in a room and hired them to do nothing but sit there and pick the Washington Post apart day after day, line by line, looking for bs with blood in their eyes it would not be more effective.

Thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to do so.

Update: Scott Sheilds at MyDD has more on the Pool Boy's article.


Hmmmm...Now Wouldn't This Be Amusing?

Will Bunch has an intriguing idea. One of those sorts of ideas that make you go, "Hmmmm. That could work."
Nobody asked us, but if Harry Reid had a true flare for politics -- and for the dramatic -- he would try to convince his 43 other members, in the name of party unity, to filibuster Alito...for exactly one day. Why? Because Tuesday night will be the one night in the first half of 2006 when regular folks may actually watch a political event on television.

How dramatic would it be for the big anchors to start their broadcasts at 9 p.m. with the news that Democrats had banded together -- for 24 hours, in the spirit of Jefferson Smith -- to tell America what they really think of Alito, that he will tip the scales on the High Court for big business and big government against the little guy.

It it will deny Bush his magic moment.
What do you think? Worth the effort -- or political theater of the absurd? I'm not certain where I am on this -- but it certainly would be an attention grabber, and might be worth it just to torque the Preznit, who doesn't like to be thwarted from getting his way on his own timetable.


Friday, January 27, 2006

FDL Late Nite: I'm Keeping The Mouth

Digby has one of those must-read Digby posts that pulls together so many things that everyone is feeling but nobody else knows how to express:
The right has mau-maued the press by going aggressively in their face with everything they've got every time they write a word that can cause them trouble. And back in the day, they carefully fed the press the kind of tabloid scandal stories that made good copy and caused ratings to rise. They work this stuff from all angles.

We can be nice liberals and continue that highly successful strategy (for them) or we, the great unwashed blogosphere, can mau-mau the media into being accountable for what they write. It isn't pretty --- they are calling us nasty names and everything. But for the first time in memory we actually have a vehicle for pushing back from the other side and we literally represent millions of people who are willing to take the time to join the fight. That's powerful juju.

Over time, they will see that we are actually giving them an excuse to lean the other way. When Karl calls up Len, he can say that liberals are on the rampage --- what does he want him to do, ignore his own readers? We liberal bloggers and readers can produce some ballast on the other side so that the press has a way to resist the wingnuts.

This is a huge change and everyone involved is going to resist. Tonight they were talking about the "angry left on both coasts" on Lehrer, as if we aren't real Americans again. That's nonsense, as we know. My traffic comes from all over the country, much of it deep in the heart of Red America. They don't know what they are dealing with.
Every time I look at my Technorati links these days there are a lot more wingnuts than there used to be. You're never quite sure what they're saying since it's always misspelled but you're pretty sure it's supposed to be insulting, in that sort of ham-fisted, remedial, back-of-the-class monobrow humor that finds its apex in the word "booger." Anyway, these are the people who are usually castigating me for my awful language and doing their part to spread the meme "sandpaper snatch" such that Kate O'Beirne will most assuredly never walk into a room wearing taffeta again.

But something is happening, I'm not sure what but things are changing rather quickly and I really don't know why. Witness this article in the WaPo, where the Pool Boy almost gets it. Except I couldn't get anyone interested in the "draft Murtha" thing, I think 49 people showed up and commented at the DU board, nobody was into it. When I woke up the next morning I found out they'd chosen Kaine for the SOTU rebuttal before I made my way over to Kos and saw he'd linked to it, and I half figured the Democratic leadership had seen it there and it had forced their hand. But there was no way to be sure. How that rated an article in the WaPo is a bit of a mystery.

And then there is this galloping dose of bullshit:
"The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."
I'm going to let James field this one (from the comments):
If your name is accompanied by the words "Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign," then you deserve a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up.

It's like quoting Axl Rose for tips on keeping the band together.
Until their bid to turn us all into cash machines and vault Joe Biden into the Democratic candidacy actually succeeds (at which point I will give up and open a vein) we'll be here every night doing our FDL Late Nite action thing.

Tonight those fine folks at the Chris Matthews blog want you to contact your local Toyota dealer and tell them about the feeling Chris is giving you. I got emails from people who said Intuit called them personally after last night's action, and we hear Verizon has hired someone to watch the traffic on the Matthews blog so give 'em a few hits too.

You can also contact:

- Don Esmond, Senior VP
tel. 310-468-5212
fax 310-468-7846

- Dennis Cuneo, Senior VP
tel. 212-223-0303
fax 212-750-3564

- Ms Pat Pineda, VP Ext. Affairs

- Main #: 800-331-4331
Comment form
I feel like I should end it all with "fuck something" just so nobody in wingnutia is disappointed. It makes them all so happy.


Don't Fuck With The Tech Guy

Matt Stoller and John Aravosis had a Deborah Howell encounter yesterday at the Washington Press Club. The Hotline Blogometer recounts the affair where after an hour and a half of listening to Howell and others describe her experience like she was the sole survivor of the Bismark, Matt Stoller grabbed the microphone and said "The antagonism here is coming from you guys....Nothing happened to you!" Aravosis says Stoller went on for a bit more -- "You're's not like you were hit by a're sitting here, eating a nice meal" or words to that effect.

Once all the shrieking hysteria passes and they look back and see all the unnecessary PMSing they did over a few trolls, they're all going to wish jukeboxgrad never existed. When Brady first started peddling his story about "hundreds and hundreds" of comments filled with hate speech, I'm sure he never counted on some tech whiz to show up and resurrect archives and run the kind of sophisticated analysis that allowed him to reconstruct what really happened. He's put together an amazing diary over at Kos that recounts exactly what went on, an incredible bit of detective work that is really stunning in its scope. Please go have a look, thank him for all the effort he's put into documenting the whole thing and hit that "recommend" button. It deserves to be seen by everyone, an insurance policy to guarantee that the story gets told correctly one day after O'Reilly and his fulminations about Soros-funded terrorists are long forgotten.

Gilliard has more: "We're going to have a reasonable discussion. But we're prepared for it to be unreasonable."

Atrios: "Boo hoo. People were mean. Welcome to my world."


You Don't Know Jack

A new, non-partisan study has confirmed what Bloomberg has long been asserting -- donations by Casino Jack's victims, the Indian Tribes, to Democrats suggest he was not, in fact, "directing" money their way:
The analysis shows that when Abramoff took on his tribal clients, the majority of them dramatically ratcheted up donations to Republicans. Meanwhile, donations to Democrats from the same clients either dropped, remained largely static or, in two cases, rose by a far smaller percentage than the ones to Republicans did. This pattern suggests that whatever money went to Democrats, rather than having been steered by Abramoff, may have largely been money the tribes would have given anyway. (my emphasis)
Someone should tell Tim Russert, who went on the Today Show this morning and did a Deborah Howell-style non-correction of Katie Couric's gaff yesterday with Howard Dean saying that "Democrats get raging mad when you suggest this is a bipartisan scandal."

Someone should tell Li'l Debbie herself, who in a highly unusual move for an ombudsman sent an email to her fans which said "The Post stands by its reporting that Jack Abramoff directed campaign money to some Democrats."

And here I thought ombudsmaning meant representing readers at the paper rather than hawking the party line.

Maybe that's the source of all my confusion. I'm not fluent in any Scandinavian languages. Who knew the word ombudsman was Swedish for "snake oil salesman?"

(You can leave comments for Li'l Debbie at the Open Letter to the Washington Post Blog)


Can Someone Get These People a Dictionary?

Jim VandeHei does his bit in the WaPo today to keep the heat up on the Democrats:
"There's no doubt in my mind it is legal," Bush said. Democrats have accused Bush of breaking the law by authorizing the spying program without approval from Congress or the courts. The debate is expected to dominate hearings, scheduled to begin Feb. 6, on the highly classified NSA program.
It's nice how easily Bob Barr and other concerned Republicans are left out of the picture so as not to hinder a sweeping and damning generalization.

Just so we're clear: Casino Jack is a bipartisan scandal because Abramoff's victims gave money to Democrats even though there's no evidence that any of them did anything wrong. The NSA wiretap scandal is just so much partisan bickering, a Democrats-only brouhaha and nobody has bothered to clue in poor befuddled Bob Barr.

Steve Soto has more on what you probably won't find in the White House Pool Boy's next article.


Feinstein To Vote No on Cloture

From her website:
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced that she will vote no on cloture regarding the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

“Based on a very long and thoughtful analysis of the record and transcript, which I tried to indicate in my floor statement yesterday, I’ve decided that I will vote no on cloture.”
If DiFi can change her mind, so can anyone else.

Denver Metro Region
2300 15th Street, Suite 450
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: (303) 455-7600
Fax: (303) 455-8851

Washington, D.C.
U.S. Senator Ken Salazar
702 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-5852 main
(202) 228-5036 fax

Pikes Peak Region
(719) 328-1100

High Plains Region
(970) 542-9446

Arkansas River Region
(719) 542-7550

Four Corners Region
(970) 259-1710

Western Slope/I 70 West Region
(970) 241-6631

North Central Region
(970) 224-2200

(719) 587-0096
To the phones. Make it happen.


Ann Coulter: Dangerous Moron

Dear Ann Coulter:

STFU. Oh, and threatening Justice Stevens by saying someone should "put rat poisoning in his creme brulee," even as a joke, is asking for his protection detail to haul your skinny ass in for questioning. I'm just saying.

Law and order conservatives had better stand up and denounce this. Shameful, wrong and assanine doesn't begin to decribe the crap that comes out of your mouth half the time, but this one is so far over the line, I can't even begin to understand what you were thinking in saying it. Consider the source, I suppose, but that is no excuse. Threatening violence or attempting to incite it against a public official because you disagree with how he does his job is a felony in a lot of states. As a lawyer, you ought to know that, Ann.

Speaking of which, making threatening statements about a Supreme Court Justice, even in jest, ought to raise some questions about your bar license. Do you even have one somewhere? Maybe Justice Stevens' security detail ought to look into that as well.

You are a disgrace to the legal profession. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. And you owe Justice Stevens a public apology. Whether you disagree with someone's philosophy or not, making statements about someone killing them with poison is not funny. Period.


PS -- Timmeh had better be asking every Republican on his show on Sunday about this quote. If Obama and Colin Powell are the prime candidates for "ask the black man about Belafonte," then all Republicans are fair game about Coulter. Hang her idiocy around the neck of every Rethug and make them either denounce this statement or pay the penalty. Equal opportunity runs both ways -- and its about time the people benefitting from Coulter's excesses had to pay a penalty for it.



Matt Stoller at MyDD has a preview of the SOTU up...seems he found a "training video" at the local Starbucks. I always thought Denny Hastert looked like a cheesy popcorn kinda guy.

(NOTE: Not for those with beverages in their mouth. Do not drink liquids while watching. You have been warned.)

(Hat tip to reader Alvord.)


Mystery of the Disappearing Pictures

It seems the Bush White House has something to hide. Several somethings. And their friends and cronies have gone to great lengths to help them in the cover up.

Josh Marshall has a great piece at TPM regarding the destruction of photographs that existed in the data files of a Republican photographer who did a lot of press and event photos for the White House. And who has apparently deleted pictures that the company had of the Preznit with his good buddy Jack Abramoff.

Josh has done some serious digging on this issue since day one, and ought to be commended for his hard work -- but this find is a true gem. And it smacks of cover up.

At a time when a majority of Americans -- 76% according to the latest ABC/WaPo poll -- believe the White House ought to come clean on its dealings with dirty lobbyists, including Abramoff, the WH spin machine and cover-up team is in high gear, trying to find all photographs of the Preznit with Abramoff and pals.

Bushie's response to all of this has been to stall and deny and flat out claim memory problems.
"I had my picture taken with him, evidently," Bush said at a White House news conference. "I've had my picture taken with a lot of people. Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that I'm a friend with them or know them very well."

"It's part of the job of the president to shake hands ... with people and smile," he said....

Asked if he meets with lobbyists, Bush said, "I try not to." He said that lobbyists sometimes come to the White House, and he has met and thanked them for their help in pushing his agenda.
Wow, how nice. It has nothing to do with these lobbyists being part of the greater Republican political machine, I'm sure. And of course they wouldn't be meeting with Karl Rove or anything while at the WH -- I'm sure the Preznit wouldn't mind releasing those meeting records or anything. Oh, wait, he's already refused to do so. Silly me.

The Preznit has his spokesman, Scott McClellan dodge and weave as well, even though promises were made to reporters that information would be fully provided quite some time ago.

The attempt to spin this as a media fishing expedition isn't working for the WH -- whose veracity has repeatedly come under fire because...erm...they keep saying things that aren't true. (Nukeular weapons in Iraq? Nope. Osama, dead or alive? Well, he's still alive, but we sure as hell don't have him. Uniter not a divider? hahahahaha. Okay, I've made my point.)

According to a report from ABC news, a clear majority of Americans are now seriously questioning the ethics of this Administration. (Maybe the news division should let The Note in on that little secret? They could use a clue or two.) According to ABC:
As things stand, the ethics situation in Washington is not working to Bush's advantage. In advance of his 2006 State of the Union address, 56 percent now disapprove of the way the president is handling ethics in government, up from 49 percent in mid-December.

Beyond disapproval of Bush on ethics, there's been some weakening for the Republicans more broadly. Asked which party they trust more to stand up to lobbyists and special interest groups, just 27 percent of Americans picked the Republicans, down from 34 percent last month. More, 46 percent, preferred the Democrats.
Bush's response to all of this thus far has been to say "he doesn't know Jack." (And the line of the day award goes to Thomas DeFrank and Michael McAuliff of the NYDaily News. You guys made me spew my coffee.)
The better damage-control strategy, these sources argue, is to release the photographs all at once and be done with it. Otherwise, they may surface at an inopportune moment for Bush - like a few days after Tuesday's State of the Union speech, stepping on his message.

"You know they're coming out," said a GOP consultant with close ties to the White House. "The longer we wait, the longer it looks like there's something we don't want anyone to know."

But as Bush made clear, that view hasn't prevailed. "We're not going to throw gas on a politically charged story," one official said.
Maybe Bush operatives should have thought a little harder about what sort of incendiary story would arise from photographs being destroyed. In Washington, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up. This Administration ought to have learned that by now, considering the blunder on WMD information and the resulting attempt to cover it up by sliming Valerie Wilson (THAT isn't working out so well in the PR department for Bushie, now is it?). So many examples, so little time.

So who is going to be the first reporter to jump on Josh's discovery? He's already written a great question for the next presser -- no work involved, just throw a little fuel on the fire and watch Scotty run for an extinguisher.

Members of the press need to stand up and call this ridiculous dodge for what it is: patently absurd on its face, considering the President appointed Abramoff to be on his transition team for the Department of the Interior in 2000. The President is being dishonest -- again -- and the WH should not be allowed to continually lie its way around the truth. Josh has done the heavy lifting -- he's got people on the record, names and everything. Just ask the questions that need asking because you've got the access. And it's your job.

If the press doesn't jump on it, maybe the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew are free. At least they did follow-up until the entire mystery was solved. Of course, for those kids, the cocktail weenie addiction hadn't yet set in, had it?


Ethics? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Ethics!

Arianna Huffington's relentless efforts to slog through the tedious hours of pompous beltway bloviating and the ridiculous kabukis played out on Press the Meat from week to week have finally paid off. Tim Russert whips around this morning and snaps like a toy poodle who's just been peed on by a Great Dane. What happened to the benign Sunday morning patriarch we look to for wisdom and thruthiness?

He appears to be in a bit of a snit.

It's hard to imagine, but I don't think Father Tim thought twice about accepting a gig for which he normally charges $50,000 to $60,000 to give a speech on ethics in the media. We can assume his supporting cast has grown accustomed over the years to stifling their guffaws at his disproportional self-image and didn't tip him off to the absurdity factor. So he was no doubt surprised when Arianna pointed out the obvious: that the man who has done more than anyone to normalize wingnut eliminationist rhetoric in mainstream political discourse, who equipped himself with an inviolable set of principles when it meant covering for pedophilia fantasist Scooter Libby but whipped them off quicker than a pair of whore's panties when it came to Richard Clarke and who still has not explained his extremely dubious role in the whole CIA leak case but feels free to limbo around this awkward fact as he covers the story from week to week, might be a bit challenged giving a lecture on the ethics of anything but most especially the media.

It probably never occurred to him that the little wink-wink, nudge-nudge action with fellow bloviator James Carville last week over Carville's new XM radio sports show was inappropriate due to the fact that Timmeh's son is Carville's co-host and Russert was using precious NBC moments more aptly devoted to, say, the NSA leak case to push his kid's show without bothering to clue the audience in.

But it sure as hell jostled his gated community gravitas when someone pointed it out for him.

Big white bwana man went whimpering to Lloyd Grove at the New York Daily News this morning, resurrecting his rather phantasmagorical 1996 claim that Arianna hired a private detective to follow his wife around. An assertion for which he has no proof other than something he read in an Ed Rollins book (more reliable recitations can be found scratched into the walls of bus station bathrooms), but as a regular practitioner of fact-free journalism this is not a problem for Father Tim.

This ethics conference should be a real hoot: Peggy Noonan will talk about the secret communiques of Vatican II as revealed to her by Flipper, Fred Barnes' chin will be dusted for George Bush's ball prints and Tim will serve up $50,000 worth of pontification on his favorite theme -- "It's news if I say it is."

This is a man whose limber set of "ethics" was openly and officially mocked by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. Whoever booked this rodeo clown show must be a fan of the theater of the absurd.

Feel free to leave your paeans to the righteousness of Father Tim at the Tim Russert blog. He'll see it.

Update: The guy who ghost wrote Rollins' book says it was all aa crock of shit.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

FDL Late Nite: Tweety TurboTax Time

Seriously, if you haven't seen the clip of Matthews interviewing Antonio Villaraigosa, you must. It's high camp even by Tweety standards. He tells the mayor of Los Angeles that Mexicans are the hardest working people in the world, "natural Republicans" who want to open up flower shops and bodegas. I don't think John put the part up where Tweety asks him if he likes to speak in Spanish because it's more "up-beat," and Villaraigossa look at him like he's a mental patient and says he was born in the United States and English is his first language.

I think Tweety is losing his grip, the boycott must really be bothering him. Which is an excellent reason to keep the pressure up because watching him come unglued will if nothing else provide entertaining Crooks & Liars fodder.

Tonight we're targeting the fine folks at Intuit who bring you Quicken and TurboTax. Since it's tax season and they probably do a good part of their business at this time of year your thoughtful communiques will be doubly effective. Intuit is located in the Bay Area, so there are likely to be lots of folks working there who will be sympathetic to us lefties who don't want to be compared to Osama bin Laden. It would be oh so helpful to let them know that these and other quite outrageous things are being said on a nighly basis on a show they sponsor.


Steve Bennett, Pres.
tel. 650-944-6000
fax 650-944-5295

Scott Gulbransen, Comm.

And stop by the Open Letter to Chris Matthews blog and say hi to John and Matt, they've been putting in a ton of work and we most likely have them to thank for orchestrating the extra bevy of bats in Tweety's belfry.

Update: Digby's right, we need to support John Kerry for doing what we've wanted him to do all along. So please freep this stupid poll while you're at it. No guts, no glory.


Libby Defense Team Tries Some Fishing

Scooter Libby's defense team filed a discovery fishing motion today, requesting every piece of evidence that Patrick Fitzgerald might have about anything that any journalist involved might have known about Valerie Plame Wilson. They've filed this because Fitz told them he was only giving them discovery regarding the fact that Libby was a perjurer, a liar, and a false swearer.

Looks like the Libby defense is on a serious deep sea expedition.
The lawyers for the former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., said in their motion that the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, had refused to turn over to the defense documents that would shed light on whether any reporter knew about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, before her name was first disclosed in a newspaper column on July 14, 2003.

Mr. Libby's lawyers said in their motion that "the prosecution invoked an extraordinarily narrow conception of its disclosure obligations." The prosecutor turned over, the defense said, only documents related to Mr. Libby's contacts with reporters, refusing to turn over documents about what these and other reporters had learned about Ms. Wilson from other sources.

The defense team said that such documents were highly relevant as Mr. Libby's lawyers sought to find out "the identity of all reporters who knew that Ms. Wilson worked for the C.I.A., and to discover when they learned such information, from whom they learned it and whether they disclosed it further after learning it."
Too bad they are really trying to hook a shark. Fitz drew that indictment very narrowly -- it dealt only with Libby's statements, Libby's actions and Libby's knowledge. You can review the Libby indictment here (PDF).

Libby appears to be fishing for some reasonable doubt. If he can find some way to spread the blame around to journalists, then he stands a chance of making a juror or two ask some questions -- or at least so he thinks. We all know that with sterling characters such as Judy Miller and Bob Woodward, though, it's going to be tough to find chinks in the credibility armor. (*cough* Ouch, that was difficult to even type.)

Libby's legal team is arguing for a pretty broad swath, according to reports, without having a lot to hang the request on other than maybe other people knew and we'd like to perhaps know as well, whether or not Mr. Libby even knew about it.
Libby would have the right to produce testimony that tended to show many reporters knew about Ms. Wilson's CIA employment and that Russert did make the statement Libby allegedly attributed to him, but that Russert had forgotten about it, the court filing stated.

In addition, the defense could argue that Libby's statement to investigators that "all reporters knew" about Ms. Wilson's CIA connection is a factually correct statement that was made to Libby and that it shows Libby "is simply confused about whether Mr. Russert is the source of the statement," the papers added.

The defense says it also has a right to show whether other reporters knew about Ms. Wilson's CIA employment and were discussing that fact with government officials, "some of whom in turn may have shared such information with Mr. Libby," his lawyers said.
Well, that's partially correct. If Libby can show that someone with whom he discussed Valerie Wilson found out the information from a reporter and then told Libby about it, then that could be of interest only in terms of the possibility for the "everybody knew about it" defense. (Which I still personally think is a long shot.) But, well...couldn't Libby just ask all the folks with whom he spoke about Valerie Wilson how they found out about her? I mean, they all used to work together and all, wouldn't you think they'd tell him.

Unless, of course, they all learned it from Scooter or Dick Cheney or something, in which case Scooter doesn't want to ask all of them, and his legal team is just hoping to find some half-assed unrelated statement made by some egomaniacal journalist who contemplates turning aspens or something -- to use it to their advantage, whether or not it's even relevent to Libby's case.

And that doesn't even get to the fat that Libby made a number of false statements that had nothing whatsoever to do with this particular line of discovery requests -- including statements under oath to the grand jury that look a whole helluva lot like he's covering for someone else. ("Dick Cheney hotline? Yes, I need some camo. Could you lend out Scooter for a coupla hours?")

Look, a defendant is entitled to full disclosure of evidence, including anything that might perhaps be exculpatory in any fashion. Courts generally bend over backward to make sure there is very full discovery disclosure by prosecutors, because you don't want that to come back to haunt you on appeal. (Just drags things out even longer, and judges don't like that. Plus, it could get you overturned and that's not good for the ego.)

But defendants are not entitled to everything a prosecutor could possibly have in a complex case when that information is not material to the charges in their indictment or to that portion of the case in which the defendant is currently involved.

We've said all along (and so has reader rwcole, FYI) that the indictment was very narrowly drawn for a reason. Re-reading the indictment in light of this voluminous, fishing expedition discovery request makes it even more clear how carefully crafted the indictment is -- and how all of the charges rely on Libby's own statements and assertions, and of assertions made or testimony given by members of the Administration and a few, select members of the press.

And, smart boy that he is, you'll note that no charge rests on the testimony of our gal Judy. How desperate would Scooter have to be to play the Judy defense card? I mean, really?


Junk Science

Honoring that great conservative tradition of "what, you think I do this for free?" it turns out science columnist Steven Milloy has been on the payroll of Philip Morris since 2000, curiously the same time he started his job:
On March 9, 2001, he wrote a column for the website headlined "secondhand smokescreen." The piece attacked a study by researcher Stephen Hecht, who found that women living with smokers had higher levels of chemicals associated with risk of lung cancer. "If spin were science, Hecht would win a Nobel Prize," Milloy wrote. For good measure, he heaped scorn on a 1993 Environmental Protection Agency report that also linked health risks and secondhand smoke. Later that spring, he authored another smoking-related piece for In that one, he cast aside two decades of research on the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke and concluded, "Secondhand smoke is annoying to many nonsmokers. That is the essence of the controversy and where the debate should lie--the rights of smokers to smoke in public places versus the rights of nonsmokers to be free of tobacco smoke." You might chalk it up to Milloy's contrarian nature. Or to his libertarian tendencies. Except, all the while, he was on the payroll of big tobacco. According to Lisa Gonzalez, manager of external communications for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, Milloy was under contract there through the end of last year. "In 2000 and 2001, some of the work he did was to monitor studies, and then we would distribute this information within to our different companies," Gonzalez said. Although she couldn't comment on fees paid to Milloy, a January 2001 Philip Morris budget report lists Milloy as a consultant and shows that he was budgeted for $92,500 in fees and expenses in both 2000 and 2001.
I wonder why they suspected him. It never would've occurred to me there was anything weird about a science expert whose health advise is "smoke 'em if you've got 'em."


Some Of His Best Friends Are Supreme Court Justices

Ken Salazar has himself a Tim Russert moment:
There are members of the U.S. Supreme Court that I very much disagree with. Clarence Thomas, for example, I think is an abomination when you contrast him to the leadership and principles of someone like Thurgood Marshall. I've been in front of the court and I know the justices.
The comparison is quite natural. They knew each other, after all, during their stints in Harry Belafonte's band.

Meanwhile, Salazar has said he will vote against filibuster, and says that if Democrats try to block the vote he will call a meeting of the Gang of 14.

(via Talk Left)


Zombies Ate My Brain, Pt. 726 -- Katie Couric Lite Version

Why are GOP cartoons so ubiquitously unfunny?

Filibuster Update:: From
Three Democrats (Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson and Robert Byrd) support Alito. So right now, without the support of any Republicans, we still have 42 possible votes for a filibuster.

There are 4 moderate Republicans who should be targeted (Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Ted Stevens).

Three Democrats (Mary Landrieu, Ken Salazar, and Dianne Feinstein) oppose Alito but also said they oppose a filibuster. So we must persuade them that a vote against Alito is meaningless if they don't support a filibuster.
If any of these are your senators, you know what to do.

Filibuster Update II: CNN confirms Kennedy joins Kerry in calling for filibuster. White House concern trolls say they have enough votes to overturn a filibuster and that "the move makes the Democrats look bad." Remind me -- isn't that what Bill Frist thought when he found himself standing on the Senate floor with the wind whistling up his shorts on the Bolton cloture vote?


There Goes My Invite to the NRO Cruise 2006

They don't seem to like me very much over at the NRO. Offhand I can't think of a prouder moment in my life.

In other news, Crooks and Liars has video where you can watch Katie Couric school Howard Dean about the fact that Democrats received $1.5 million in donations from Jack Abramoff. Because the Center for Responsive Politics told her so. Except they didn't.

Let's see if NBC has a functional ombudsman. His name is David McCornick:

Meanwhile, reports are circulating that John Kerry will lead a filibuster of Alito -- reader LHM writes to say this has been confirmed with Kerry's office.

Sounds like this feisty thing might be contagious, huh??

Update: Kerry's office says they are working on the 41 Senators needed for a filibuster and they want people to call their Senators and tell them to support it. The main Senate number is 888-355-3588.

If there was ever a moment worthy of working yourself into a good case of carpal tunnel syndrome, this would be it.

Update II: Sean-Paul Kelley reports that Lieberman will vote yes on filibuster and Byrd will vote no.

Update III: DeWine is citing the Washington Post editorial in favor of confirming Alito. The New York Times this morning supports filibuster.


The Love Boat Strategery

Bob Geiger is a man with a plan. If the media only wants to cover missing honeymooners, cruise ship passengers and couples with issues, so be it. Bob has devised a "Love Boat" strategery that gets news coverage, and makes it possible to slip in some fact-based information about the Administration and Republicans in Congress in a format that a whole lot of Americans seem to be watching.

You have to be crafty to get a fact in edgewise these days. Just ask Howard Dean -- after Katie Couric's Republican talking points interview on the Today Show this morning, Dean and every Dem in town ought to be livid. Um...hello...they are called facts and legal issues. Read up on them instead of reading from the Mehlman morning fax. (Crooks and Liars will have video up in a bit of the interview -- I'll link it when it goes up. Take your blood pressure meds before me.)

Okay, sure, I have to pretend to run off with Bob for a while for his strategery to work, but it's for a good cause, right? I can already sense Rita Cosby warming up her mic...but Bob, you have to promise that I get to talk to Nancy Grace subbing for Larry King -- I promise to wear my runny mascara and work on my Appalachian accent. Wouldn't want to dissapoint the ratings maestroes, now would I?


Representative #1 Running for Re-Election

Bob Ney will be filing his petitions to run for re-election today, according to aides who talked with the NYTimes. Looks like Representative #1 is hoping for another term in the sweet seat.

Well, who doesn't like a nice gift now and then...and then and then...
Years before Ney came to Washington, however, he began accepting honorariums, in the form of personal checks, and travel from lobbyists and business interests when he served in the Ohio legislature in the 1980s and '90s.

On Capitol Hill, Ney has been tied to a string of favors from Abramoff, including the Scotland golf trip. He also traveled to England as the guest of a convicted swindler and businessman seeking government trade concessions, reported winning $34,000 at a London casino he visited with the ex-con's business partner, and made a personal deal with another Washington lobbyist to buy her family houseboat.

At the same time, financial questions have swirled around Ney. He paid down more than $30,000 in credit card debt in the same year he reported his casino winnings. He has paid his wife and son more than $125,000 out of his campaign funds.

And as was the case in his Ohio state legislator days, Ney allowed his House office to become a steppingstone for future lobbyists, who in turn helped fill his campaign coffers. One of those lobbyists went to work for Abramoff and is accused in the plea agreement of participating in Abramoff's schemes.
You may remember Representative #1 from such recent hits as the Scanlon Plea, the Abramoff Plea and the Kidan Plea. Or from his being asked to step down from his committee chairmanship by Denny Hastert because he was making the party look bad. (Quite a feat, considering he serves in Congress with Tom DeLay and so many others with ethics and legal problems these days, eh?)

Oh yeah, what a guy. That's your new, improved Republican party at work, enriching themselves at the expense of the American public.

Do you have a favorite Republican up for re-election with a, shall we say, spotty history that you'd like to highlight? Let us know who, why and what district/state in the comments and we'll try to follow-up on as many as possible between now and November. If you have specific links to information, please provide them and we'll try to track down all the facts. And let the sun shine in -- all the way to a Democratically controlled Congress.

(Graphic via Mahalanobis.)


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

FDL Late Nite: Hello, Verizon!

Sorry for the image, which has absolutely nothing to do with the post at hand, or the fucking up of Fred Barnes' book, which I might add I played no part in. I just couldn't resist.

No, tonight we send love letters on behalf of Chris Matthews. To show how much we appreciate when Chris claimed on his show tonight that poor Tom Delay is being unfairly tarred by those nasty Democrats in an unscrupulous ad about Casino Jack, and Anne Kornblut of the NYT actually used the term "Swift Boated." Yes I know the ironies abound.

Anyway, one of Chris's advertisers is Verizon. A lovely company I'm sure who have done absolutely nothing wrong and should be treated with the greatest respect. So great is our respect for Verizon that we have to wonder, ever so nicely, if they agree with Chris that you or me (people of the liberal persuasion) should be compared to a known terrorist and mass murderer like Osama bin Laden. Chris has now repeated this several times.

I'm sure the folks at Verizon will only appreciate your sincere concern for the organizations they are associating their products with, so look at it this way. You are doing them a big favor. Not in a Victor Davis Hanson climbing up on the rooftop with a rifle and scope and thinning out the neighborhood kind of way, but one they will most assuredly appreciate nonetheless.

Here is how you contact the fine folks at Verizon:
- Ivan Seidenberg, Chmn & CEO, Verizon Corp. Branding

- Judy Verses, Sr. VP Natl. Mktg.

- Jerri DeVard, Sr. VP Mktg.

- John Bonomo, PR

- Sharon Cohen-Hagar, PR
Please join us tomorrow night when we shower all the love we feel for the IRS on those helpful folks at TurboTax..

(graphic via Jesus' General)


Brick by Brick

Bully for Glenn Greenwald:
Knight Ridder -- WASHINGTON - A July 2002 Justice Department statement to a Senate committee appears to contradict several key arguments that the Bush administration is making to defend its eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law governing such operations, was working well, the department said in 2002. A "significant review" would be needed to determine whether FISA's legal requirements for obtaining warrants should be loosened because they hampered counterterrorism efforts, the department said then.

President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other top officials now argue that warrantless eavesdropping is necessary in part because complying with the FISA law is too burdensome and impedes the government's ability to rapidly track communications between suspected terrorists.

In its 2002 statement, the Justice Department said it opposed a legislative proposal to change FISA to make it easier to obtain warrants that would allow the super-secret National Security Agency to listen in on communications involving non-U.S. citizens inside the United States.

Today, senior U.S. officials complain that FISA prevents them from doing that.


Glenn Greenwald, an Internet blogger, first connected the earlier Justice Department statement to the Bush administration's current arguments on his Web log, called Unclaimed Territory.
While we don't have billions or a warmongering diapered class who piddle themselves every time George Bush screams "orange alert," we sure do have a corner on the smart kids.



As I said on the online chat this morning, prior to the fall of 2005 nobody would have suggested that Jack Abramoff was anything other than a self described "right-wing ideologue" and a GOP operative, a man who once famously said "it is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently."

Suddenly the GOP and the president himself began calling Abramoff an "equal money dispenser" and there is every appearance that management of the Washington Post have gone along with a decision to deceive the public by painting the scandals currently threatening the Republican party as "bipartisan."

Witness Chris Cillizza's blog, where he recently mentioned that despite his decision to only deal with scandals plaguing current governors and members of Congress, an editor stepped in and added to his list Rep. Frank Ballance, a Democrat who had resigned in June, 2004. Even Cillizza himself said that "Ballance was unnecessarily included for, frankly, balance."

While I'm perfectly willing to believe Deborah Howell is too much of a dingaling to do anything other than mindlessly repeat what she has heard from others, it is impossible to divorce her repetition of an Abramoff GOP talking point from this context. Both Jim Brady's and the Washington Post's decision to characterize the response of their online readers as a problem of "uncivility" is an attempt to slap a cheap coat of whitewash over an insidious, festering problem that continues to plague their management and the reporters who continue to suck it up to earn front-page status for their articles.

Since Jim Brady keeps dismissing this criticism anytime somebody puts a microphone near him (you can witness the latest on The News Hour, but it's really no different than Air America or Hugh Hewitt or whenever he opens his mouth) and keeps referring to some "hate speech" that had to be removed from the blog, I'll ask one more time -- please define "hate speech."

Here are three comments that appeared on the before the comments were taken down. They were three of ten that were never restored. I am obviously lacking in some sort of acumen, so if anybody could tell me how they qualify as "hate speech" I'd be really grateful:
Willis wrote: "But contrary to what some commenters have said here, Abramoff did direct donations to Democratic candidates and committees. Our reporters have documents showing this to be the case, and I have asked that we post at least some of them so that readers can see for themselves."

That was two hours ago. Now, it takes me about ten minutes to scan a document, and upload it to my own website, and post a URL -- and that's because I'm not very good at all this "internets" stuff.

Willis claims that there are documents in which Jack Abramoff directs his clients to give to Democrats. One assumes that these include signed letters or memos from Abramoff to his clients, or emails directly from Abramoff to his clients --- and one assumes that if such documents actually existed, the Post would have written about them as part of what Deborah Howell described as Susan Schmidt's "explosive" investigative work on the Abramoff scandal.....

But to date, all the Post (and Willis) have ever come up with are these facts

1. Native Americans tribes give money to both parties

2. Some Native American tribes were represented by a firm that Abramoff worked for

3. Some of these tribes gave money to some Democrats -- but since Abramoff has been around, they aren't giving Democrats as much

So, Willis, where are your "documents"? Its been two hours plus -- ten times as long as it would take for you to scan and post the "Abramoff memo" you need to show us that you aren't lying through your teeth....

Posted by: paul lukasiak | Jan 17, 2006 10:31:19 AM | Permalink

well, its now three hours and counting since Willis claimed that "Abramoff did direct donations to Democratic candidates and committees. Our reporters have documents showing this to be the case" and also claimed that he was going to get those documents posted...

but instead of posting these "explosive" documents, the Post deletes Willis's claim....

Posted by: paul lukasiak | Jan 17, 2006 11:29:24 AM | Permalink

Howard Kurtz has a hilarious water carrying defense of Schmidt and Howell, with the pertinent excerpt posted after at Romenesko:

Fort Washington, Md.: Reporter Sue Schmidt and ombudsman Deborah Howell have both asserted repeatedly that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats as well as Republicans. The FEC shows no record of any Democrat getting any money from Abramoff, period. Some Indian tribes who were among Abramoff's victims contributed funds to some Democrats, but suggesting that that somehow is a donation from Abramoff defies logic. How does the Post justify passing on what appears to be nothing but GOP spin as fact?

Howard Kurtz: Howell's column Sunday said that a number of Democrats "have gotten Abramoff campaign money." That was inartfully worded. I believe what she was trying to say, and I have not discussed this with her, is that some Democrats have received campaign cash from Abramoff clients, and that this may have been orchestrated by the convicted lobbyist. That's why you have a number of Democrats (as well as many Republicans, now including Denny Hastert) giving back the tainted dough or donating it to charity. Even National Review Editor Rich Lowry says this is basically a Republican scandal -- we are talking about a Bush fundraiser and Tom DeLay pal -- but where the tangled web has extended to Democrats, we need to mention that too.
Posted at 12:50:56 PM

So, the bullsh-t continues. Here's Kurtz saying, Democrats received money from tribes through Abramoff, which "may have been orchestrated by the convicted lobbyist." Note, Kurtz completely glosses over the inconvenient fact that these same tribes were among Abramoff's victims. After all, it is critical, as Howard was advised in the White House talking points e-mail not to "get off message". By the end of the remark, he concludes, "but where the tangled web has extended to Democrats, we need to mention that too."

So, in the absence of any proof that Abramoff was channeling tribal funds to Democrats, "the tangled web has been extended to Democrats"???

Good work, Howard. Have your received Karl's appreciative e-mail yet?

As for Howell, reliable sources in the newsroom state that she will be reporting that WMDs have, in fact, been discovered in Iraq, and that Iran successfully conducted a nuclear weapons test over the Christmas holiday.

Posted by: Richard Estes | Jan 17, 2006 1:43:58 PM | Permalink
When Brady spoke with Jay Rosen, he said:
If you want to take issue with articles in The Post or on, go right ahead. If you want to complain that you think we're biased to the left or right -- and, believe me, we get it from both sides -- have at it. But if you want to viciously attack and insult Post or staffers or other blog commenters, then go somewhere else to do it. That'’s the deal we'’ve had with a large majority of our loyal readers for years, and we've decided that'’s going to be our policy going forward.
I just don't understand how the removal of these three comments jibes with the policy Brady outlined, or how they qualify as "hate speech" in any way.

And the larger problem remains. There is a serious institutional bias toward the right that the Post is apparently pursuing at its own peril. According to the Washingtonian:
"The Web site simply has to come through, ours and that of other newspapers, for us to be successful, [Washington Post chairman Don] Graham told investment analysts Wednesday in New York.
Would anyone like to explain how the recent actions of Howell, Brady, John Harris, Sue Schmidt, Richard Morin and the Washington Post management don't serve to completely defeat this objective?

Their stock is in freefall. Their credibility is in shreds. They have spared no effort to make enemies of the "fever swamp," better known as their online readership.

Hugging the GOP is sucking the life out of them like corporate cancer. No wonder they're cranky.

Update: The estimable Lambert also weighs in.


Brady Speaks

jegusa, from the comments:
When I was monitoring the panel, I was quite miffed at the personal swipe Jim Brady took at Jane. But when those following two questions trashing Jane showed up, I picked up the phone and called and punched in Jim Brady's extension. I wanted to leave a message letting him know that it was inappropriate to ask Jane to be on a panel and then use it to attack her when she asks questions he doesn't want to answer. I knew he was involved with the forum and so he was not at his desk. But instead of getting voicemail, Jim Brady picked up.

I spent the next couple of minutes arguing with Jim on the phone. It was not acrimonious and he actually spent time listening to what I had to say, but he was definitely not agreeing with me. Effectively, I told him that 1) he was out of line with his personal attack on Jane 2) he, as representing has not sufficiently come clean about the erroneous data and taken responsibility 3) the following nasty questions regarding Jane's abilities and behaviour was again, out of line and just petty and finally 4) that we are merely asking for honesty and transparency from WashPo during a time when our leaders only stonewall.

As for point no. 1, he said that he went to Firedoglake blog and read up on what Jane had to say about him and remarked that she called him names like moron, etc...and do I disagree that that has happened? I replied that it was her blog and she can express herself as she likes, but to invite her to a panel and then attack her was just mean-spirited and ironic considering he has complained that was personally attacked by us. I said she wouldn't invite you to her blog and then use it to trash you. He did not agree with that.

Secondly, he said that Jane was not the only one attacked in the forum and I disagreed with him and pointed out that noone else had acrimonious questions posted about them or attacks by him, only Jane. He claimed that another panelist was getting criticism about their lack of posts for his blog. I said, puh-leeze, that is not the same thing.

Finally, I tried to appeal to this reasoning: "this is not about you, it's about the bigger picture" and told him that we are aching for transparency and honesty. He listened but came up with what I felt, was a lame response, "That's why I'm holding these forums, etc..." I did thank him for holding these and gave him my appreciation, but told him that WashPo can do more.

At any rate, he did need to go as the panel was wrapping up. I was sufficiently amazed he spent the time talking with me. So on one hand, I have to give him kudos for that time with a random caller, on the other hand, he was just as defensive as he has been on the blogs and had justified his actions. I hope my disagreement with him gave him some food for thought.

I do think, after my interaction with Jim Brady, that he has inadvertantly wrapped his ego in this overall conflict and the stubbornness and defensiveness we see is the ego, and not the more reasonable man he probably is. He feels attacked and cannot separate himself from the bigger picture. In a separate email, I urged him to work on separating this and restoring the trust he keeps vis a vis the WashPo.

I would recommend to others who want to contact him, to try and stop attacking him personally and assuming he is a partisan hack...he just won't respond to that. Try and let him know that you understand his defensiveness, but that it really isn't about him, and your beef is about accountability and responsibility for WashPo, not Jim Brady. But also, his childish behaviour on the panel should not be omitted and he should be admonished about that as well. Give him reason and understanding...he's not completely clueless...just a man...with a big DC...with an erupting big ego responds, not brain.
For the record -- I'd never invite someone to participate in something on FDL and then trash them. Both classless and unnecessary.

If Brady wants the firestorm to stop, he needs to stop running around trashing the people who expressed quite legitimate concerns and give them a bit of dignity. Enough with all the pearl-clutching.

And for the record, what I said was "Anyone who sets up a public board like this in a highly partisan world with really active readers and doesn't make plans for troll management in their system architecture is a full-on, four-flushing idiot."

I guess Brady is saying the shoe fits.


We're On a Roll, Let's Make Some Noise

It's great sport these days to watch traditional media types squirm because the left has finally had it and is calling them on their total bolloxing of political news coverage. The momentum is definitely on our side. Go over to the Open Letter to Chris Matthews blog, contact some the Hardball advertisers and let them know it's not okay to compare us to Osama bin Laden. They've got emails, addresses, fax numbers, the works to help you orchestrate some major pushback.

Let's make Tweety sweat. Until he apologizes. Publicly.

Oh and remember to be civil. We wouldn't want to be characerized as unruly, now would we?

Update: Magorn over at DKos has a good post up about all us lil' "barbarians."


Froomkin Joins the Rabble

For what it's worth, I think's comment cutoff was a mistake. It's a big paradigm shift for people used to controlling every word that appears in their newspapers -- but online, a little loss of control pays off big time.

We should glory in the passion of our readers. We should listen to what they have to say, respond to their concerns, and if necessary correct their misimpressions. In short, we should empower the reader, not shut the reader up -- even temporarily.

The good news is that my understanding is that comments will be back soon. I think Jim Brady understands better than most that when you're lucky enough to matter so much to people that they want to engage with you, let them!

On the specific underlying issue, it's worth pointing out that the flashpoint for all this was a flatly inaccurate statement by the ombudsman -- that was then left uncorrected and unaddresed for several days. That was a big mistake. The Web offers great newspapers the opportunity to correct their mistakes quickly and effectively. When we don't, I'm actually quite happy to see people getting angry.

Furthermore, the fact is that the over-the-top abusive comments were in a tiny minority. From what I can tell, the vast majority of posts were passionate, articulate, reasoned, interesting.

In fact, the quality of the discourse in blog comments and Live Onlines (and in my e-mails) is extraordinary. It enriches our site enormously.
I guess it's not just us, eh?

Update: Digby has more on the galloping hypocricy of Mr. Reynolds.


Combat Chat

Well that was an interesting experiment. I want to thank all the amazing people who were conferenced in and helping me during chat -- Peter Daou, Atrios, John Amato, Digby and jukeboxgrad from DailyKos (who would not let Jim Brady slide on his nebulous explanations, much to Brady's irritation) -- not to mention Markos and Brad DeLong who offered their input yesterday, Matt Stoller who was patrolling comments over at the Open Letter to the Washington Post blog (as well as Taylor who has been moderating), and Redd who was holding down the fort here. All I can say is that the answers that were given were the result of lots of people thinking together, including all the emails and commenters, and I can't tell you all how much I appreciated the collaborative effort.

And I want to thank the for the opportunity to speak, it's more than anyone else covering the Howell story has offered to anyone who was actively participating in it. That having been said, Brady had the keys to the system and he used them. There were dozens of questions on a screen that was quite complex which any of the participants could respond to at any time. They chose what questions got through and when each thread was closed down and published. Brady gave himself the last word many times, goaded me for a response and then closing it before I could answer, despite the fact that I was asking in the accompanying "chat" box for a chance to do so. Neither would he give substandial, meaningful answers to questions I posed to him.

If nobody responded to a question, it didn't appear online. In addition to tut-tutting about unruly commenters, Glenn Reynolds' job was to give one of those content-loaded "hey-indeedy" answers to questions that were hostile to me just to make sure they made it online. And you know what? That's fine. I'm a big girl, I get worse than that every day in the comments here and I knew what I was setting myself up for when I agreed to engage in this particular dialogue. The chance that we all got to give voice to our criticisms was well worth it.

But the fact remains that the real debate is between me and Brady; Rosen and Jarvis were filler and Reynolds was just there as a junkyard dog. And because of all the filler, Brady was able to avoid getting pressed on a story that he has had a great deal of success fobbing off to the media which has innumerable holes if anybody with any technical sophistication were to really press him. As one reader commented, "Listen to Brady try to defend himself, basically sounding like a 15 year old telling his parents the smell on his breath isn't marijuana, and the case is there that Howell deserved all she got and ten times worse."

Since I've shown my willingness to play by Brady's rules, I challenge him to engage in a dialogue in a neutral playing field. One-on-one, back and forth, no "background noise," no place to hide. We can do it in an email exchange, we can do it in a live chat, we do it over at the Huffington Post or any mutually agreeable place where the ground rules are equitable to both parties.

I've done my part. Let's see exactly how brave and committed to "transparency" he really is.

(thanks to Berkeley for the image)


WaPo Chat Thread, Part III

The WaPo chat can be found here. Yet another open thread for discussion.

(Graphics love to One Good Move.)

NOTE: Big thank you to reader Shez for cut-and-pasting the WaPo chat text into the comments for me, so I could concentrate on monitoring the blog comments. Most helpful for me and all of our readers -- thanks heaps!


WaPo Chat Thread, Part II

The WaPo chat can be found here. Consider this a fresh thread for discussion.


WaPo Chat Thread

The WaPo Chat has begun. Jane, Glenn, Jeff, Jay and James.

You can check-in to the WaPo here. Ongoing comments below.


WaPo to Readers: Screw You, Ragamuffins

Rather than thank appreciate the 99% of its readership who expressed their thoughts about the Deborah Howell affair quite civilly, Jim Brady and the Post seems to be on a quite aggressive campaign to disparage them all.

Witness their eagerness to prove this fact to Vaughn Ververs of CBS Eye, who is shown only 12 screenshots of the worst comments the Post can point to. This morning over at Kos we find from jukeboxgrad that the Post is now selectively deleting those comments again. Were they put up only temporarily to underscore a point and take the focus off the quite valid criticism of the other 99% of the comments?


Broken Promises

With the State of the Union speech fast approaching, it's time to do a little review of the trail of broken promises from this Administration. ThinkProgress has put together a video of past SOTU speech excerpts and how little follow-through there has been on these issues by this Administration. The video is great, and well worth a watch. Kudos.

And about that medical savings reform that the Preznit will be talking about on the 31st during the SOTU? Well, his cronies in Congress have already given the health insurance industry their $22 billion dollar reward a little early. Oh yeah, backdoor dealing is a thing of the past in the new, improved, anti-corruption GOP...except when it isn't.
That change was made in mid-December during private negotiations involving House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and the staffs of those committees as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee. House and Senate Democrats were excluded from the meeting. The Senate gave final approval to the budget-cutting measure on Dec. 21, but the House must give it final consideration early next month.
Whew, all that public talk about cleaning things up in Washington amounts to a big pile of nothing, doesn't it? Good thing those health insurance folks can make more money to pay the big time KStreet lobbyists to get them more money from the Republican Congress.

See how that works? It's a sweet deal if you can afford it. Too bad the little guy gets left out of the loop and, instead, will be paying higher premiums to finance more lobbying of the GOP. Suckers.

If you think that this was a one time only thing, think again. This is how business is done in the GOP controlled Congress. Dead of night conferences, lobbyist-influenced inserts by bought and paid for Congressmen, with Democrats and public interest watchdog groups shut out of the process altogether. No sunshine, no oversight, no ethics. You wonder why there is a corruption scandal in the GOP right now, look no further. For shame.

Bringing ethics and moral uprightness back to Washington, my ass -- this time its the American public getting screwed, not an intern, and the "religious right" isn't spouting any moral outrage because they are in on the take with their publicly funded outreach programs. It's a sweet bribe if you can get it, I suppose.

Oh, and just so we're clear, the WH can stop pretending that Abramoff and the Preznit never met. Just this once, try being honest.

How bad are things with the WH when they lose Joe Lieberman? Seems the whole "we're fully cooperating" lie finally got to be too much for Joementum. The Administration has been thwarting investigation into their Katgrina incompetence -- how dare Congress want to do some actual oversight, silly elected officials. I mean, it's not like people died they could have seen it coming they had done advance drills for just this sort of catastrophic situation they cut levee maintenance funding the Preznit and his cronies ought to be held responsible for their miserable failure or anything. Geeesh.

And this isn't even a comprehensive list. Iraq, Afghanistan, foreign policy failures, budget cuts for programs that help people on the's endless. The only area in which this Preznit has kept his word is the promises he made to the people who gave him campaign contributions and political support: those folks are being well taken care of by this Administration. Very well, indeed.

Oh yeah, I'm feeling oh so united now, baby. United with the rest of the little guys out there who got divided out of any consideration by a GOP which is more interested in enriching its friends and family and KStreet buddies. Shameful. Just plain shameful.

Harold Meyerson calls the Preznit incompetent today. I think he was just being nice -- he left out corrupt, lacking compassion, power-hungry, craven and liar. But maybe that's just me.

UPDATE: Outrage doesn't even begin to describe my feelings at the moment. From Kevin Drum, via TBogg. Accountability, responsibility, and full cooperation, my ass.

Shorter Bush Administration: We run the country into the ground because we can.