Thursday, June 28, 2007

Irony Lives

Who says we're living in the post-ironic era? Irony is alive and well and enjoys a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. We're living in "a new constitutional era," the post-Supremes era. Sadly, the Sub-premes won't be one hit wonders.

What to say about this week's Court decisions? Luckily, Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan said it all today for The American Constitution Society, commenting on the Roberts Court:
[T]his term we saw the Court announce the first amendment applies to corporations, in the Wisconsin Right to Life case, but not to students, in the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case. We saw the court announce that we should be deferential to state trial judges in criminal cases but not to democratically-elected local school boards in the schools cases. So if this is the birth of a new constitutional era, all I say is what an ugly baby.
Johnny, you're doing a heck of a job.

[h/t Crooks and Liars]

Monday, June 25, 2007

Harper's magazine "Bunny Burgers" K-Street

Ken Silverstein of Harper's goes undercover to demonstrate just how whorish K-Street can be. Would lobbyists, say, agree to give Turkmenistan a PR makeover? Sure, they're known for boiling prisoners. That just makes it more challenging. Silverstein goes all Borat on K-Street and has firms bidding for the business.

Can you say Bunny Burgers?

Worse still, Digby points to a June 21 New York Times piece about the real Turkmenistan:
Mr. Berdymukhammedov assumed office this year in a choreographed vote after the death of the previous president, Saparmurat Niyazov, the megalomaniac who had ruled the country since it reluctantly gained independence after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

A former Communist Party official who ultimately had the compliant Parliament appoint him president for life, Mr. Niyazov had combined the country’s hydrocarbon wealth and a boundless ego to generate a bizarre and extensive personality cult.

He gave himself the name Turkmenbashi, the Father of All Turkmens, commissioned golden statues in his likeness, renamed April after his mother and January after himself, and presided over a construction spree of massive white-marbled buildings that rise from the steppe over an impoverished population of five million people.
It's right out of Woody Allen:
From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!

—Espositio, dictator of San Marcos, in Woody Allen's 1971 film Bananas.
Give our boys who are not entities in the executive branch a little more time and they'll be there too.

[h/t Digby]

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gotta love Thom Hartmann

From Orcinus:
Politicians, Hartmann told us, don't initiate change. Invariably, they wait for a parade to form, and then get out in front of it and claim it as their own. "If enough of us create the parade -- I 100% guarantee it, because it's always happened this way -- some politician will run out in front of it, hoist up his flag, and say "This is my parade!"So, concludes Hartmann: Like every generation of Americans before us, it's our turn to get out there and be the parade. The fate of the comfortable American middle class -- and the democratic government it supports -- hangs in the balance.

On hearts and minds

Glenn Greenwald's new book, "A Tragic Legacy" will be hitting the shelves soon and the discussion has already begun.

Paul Curtis at Alien and Sedition has traded posts with Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque on whether Greenwald's thesis that Bush's Good vs. Evil thinking has laid low the American experiment.

From Chris Floyd on the assumption:
that we can somehow eradicate the inherent irrationality and imperfection of the human mind through "foundational work" and disseminating new "meta-frames" amongst the populace, then again, I'm not sure how far we'll get with that.
I have to agree. Such faith in reason reinforces the "liberal elite" stereotype that George Lakoff has criticized, that we believe somehow the truth will set men free. The GOP does not believe that. For Republican P.R. shops, truth and lies are morally equivalent and equally useful for advancing the agenda. They have been rather successful in promoting their brand by using propaganda and advertising techniques that target the non-rational mind. (See: Frank Luntz.) They appeal first to people's guts, not their heads.

As I recall, in "The Closing of the American Mind" Allan Bloom lamented how Americans tend to believe they came up with their ideas and feelings about the world themselves, oblivious to the political and philosophical (often foreign and centuries-old) debates that undergird "their" thinking. But we face a problem of practical politics today. The spinmeisters have used that lack of historical reference and their media access to retrain minds: make them think your way and make them think it's their idea. Explaining Manicheanism to voters or debating whether it was present even during the Cold War is beside the point. It matters more that people think and feel what they do than how they arrived there.

As important as it is, in a sound bite culture progressive "foundational work" will include efforts much less lofty than a colloquy on Manicheanism and the future of the republic. It will be much grittier, and done with an eye to how little reason really has to do with how people choose leaders and their political philosophies. We have to learn to communicate in words and pictures. We have to change how voters think by first understanding and changing how they feel.

Like it or not, it's the way things are. In many ways, we have to get out of our heads and out of our own way. We have to take our meta-frames (that should be in ironic double, double quotes) to the streets and to the people. They won't come to us here in cyberspace in the numbers we need to win.

Many of us - like Greenwald - use our blogs to help reason out the best strategies for doing that and for countering the conservative agenda. We are in some sense the think tanks. We may or may not be the ones who do that grunt work (I do both), but it must be done and we must enable, support and encourage those who do.

While we yearn for new visionary Jeffersons and Madisons, it took the Washingtons to till the soil with blood before democracy could be harvested. That's a more dramatic description than today's situation, but the principle is the same. We need to have boots on the ground in our towns and neighborhoods winning hearts, not minds. Win people's hearts and their minds will follow.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Blue in print this a.m.

Be careful what you ask for.

Desperate White House flails for an Iraq strategy - Asheville Citizen-Times

Cheney's lock box

The big boys report this morning on the vice president's efforts to keep his reords out of the public record. The WaPo for one:
Vice President Cheney's office has refused to comply with an executive order governing the handling of classified information for the past four years and recently tried to abolish the office that sought to enforce those rules, according to documents released by a congressional committee yesterday.

Since 2003, the vice president's staff has not cooperated with an office at the National Archives and Records Administration charged with making sure the executive branch protects classified information. Cheney aides have not filed reports on their possession of classified data and at one point blocked an inspection of their office. After the Archives office pressed the matter, the documents say, Cheney's staff this year proposed eliminating it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

There'll be no one to stop us this time

Dick Cheney tells Congress to go f*** itself. Who says the Vice President isn't an ENTITY within the executive branch?

From The Gavel:
Vice President Exempts His Office from the Requirements for Protecting Classified Information

Washington, D.C. — The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an “entity within the executive branch.”

As described in a letter from Chairman Waxman to the Vice President, the National Archives protested the Vice President’s position in letters written in June 2006 and August 2006. When these letters were ignored, the National Archives wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in January 2007 to seek a resolution of the impasse. The Vice President’s staff responded by seeking to abolish the agency within the Archives that is responsible for implementing the President’s executive order.

In his letter to the Vice President, Chairman Waxman writes: “I question both the legality and wisdom of your actions. … [I]t would appear particularly irresponsible to give an office with your history of security breaches an exemption from the safeguards that apply to all other executive branch officials.”
Cheney told Waxman (essentially), "Your powers are weak, old man. When I started, I was but a Nixon intern; now I am the master."

Only a master of evil, Dick.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Best (and worst) quotes of the week

Mark Danner addressing the graduates of the Department of Rhetoric at Zellerbach Hall, University of California, Berkeley, on May 10, 2007 quoted "Bush's Brain," the White House aide saying non-Bushies are part of the "reality based community," i.e., "We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…. and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." Danner says:
I must admit to you that I love that quotation; indeed, with your permission, I would like hereby to nominate it for inscription over the door of the Rhetoric Department, akin to Dante’s welcome above the gates of Hell, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

Both admonitions have an admirable bluntness. These words from “Bush’s Brain” — for the unnamed official speaking to Suskind seems to have been none other than the selfsame architect of the aircraft-carrier moment, Karl Rove, who bears that pungent nickname — these words sketch out with breathtaking frankness a radical view in which power frankly determines reality, and rhetoric, the science of flounces and folderols, follows meekly and subserviently in its train. Those in the “reality-based community” — those such as we — are figures a mite pathetic, for we have failed to realize the singular new principle of the new age: Power has made reality its bitch.
And from my favorite Supreme Court judge, via the Globe and Mail, on torture and terrorism law:
The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so."
Too bad Scooter didn't have his own show on Fox.

[h/t Digby, Crooks and Liars]

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We asked for a new direction in Iraq

We forgot just who it was we were asking. From the Guardian on Tuesday:
The US military has embarked on a new and risky strategy in Iraq by arming Sunni insurgents in the hope that they will tackle the extremist al-Qaida in Iraq.

The US high command this month gave permission to its officers on the ground to negotiate arms deals with local leaders. Arms, ammunition, body armour and other equipment, as well as cash, pick-up trucks and fuel, have already been handed over in return for promises to turn on al-Qaida and not attack US troops.
Arming people who hate our guts is a proud GOP tradition going back to Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair. But this makes you wonder if the White House hasn't been talking to Guinness about slipping an entire Republican chapter into a special edition.

The WaPo reported on this story last week:
But aligning Americans with fighters whose long-term agenda remains unclear -- with regard to either Americans or the Shiite-led government -- is also a strategy born of desperation. It contradicts repeated declarations by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that no groups besides the Iraqi and American security forces are allowed to bear arms. And some American soldiers worry that standing up a Sunni militia could have dire consequences if the group turns on its U.S. partners.

"We have made a deal with the devil," said an intelligence officer in the battalion.
It would be funny if it didn't mean more of our boys will come home in boxes. Please, no more hysterics from Bush administration enablers about war critics being the ones endangering American troops.

For God's sake, the least the Darwin Award nominees in the White House could do is go before cameras in Baghdad to demonstrate their new strategy in person, first yelling, "Hey watch this!"

[h/t Crooks and Liars]

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shut up, suck it up and do your time.

As DC courtiers rise to Scooter Libby's defense, Digby puts them into perspective. (Funny, but they look much smaller up close.) As folks say down South, they just ain't right.
The entire "village" is beside themselves over this, in much the same way they worked themselves into a frenzy over Clinton's hallway trysts. It's that same phony, operatic fervor that leaves the rest of the country wondering what in the hell these people are smoking. Libby may be a friend, but these bilious paeans to his "goodness" and excusing his behavior from everyone from Joe Klein to Condi Rice is verging on bizarre.

[. . .]

My advice for Scooter is to tell all these crybabies to back off and take a lesson from Martha Stewart, who showed twice the class and three times the grit he has. Shut up, suck it up and do your time. It won't be the end of the world --- he'll have a lifetime of wingnut welfare waiting for him when he gets out and the GOP mafia will take care of his family while he's in the joint.
Distracted as we've been this week by Paris Hilton's sob scene over her six-week jail sentence, winger hysteria over the Libby sentencing has been eating at me in that just-below-conscious way. Digby has nailed it. They believe rules are for the little people, and THEY are not little people. Little people are common, and easily intimidated by threats. Here's one from ├╝ber-winger Michael Horowitz in a letter to the court:

Disposition of the Libby case will have much to do with whether the country will further and gravely descend into "us v. them" feelings of bitterness and contention. As the Bork case led inexorably to the Clinton impeachment, so can the case before the Court profoundly criminalize and poison the country's political process with calls for retribution on the part of many who will never believe--never--that Scooter merits criminal punishment or, God forbid, incarceration. It is an irony that Scooter would be the last to support such an embittering development, but the esteem in which he is held is such that any but the most Solomon-like disposition of his case could easily ensure this occurrence.
Horowitz, for those who don't know, is one of the wingers who put out the "contract" on Bill Clinton that led -- after five years of dogged pursuit -- to an impeachment on charges related to a stained dress.

[h/t The Next Hurrah]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Will they even need passports

... once Bush administration top dogs are out of office? International travel could become risky. And not because of al Qaeda.

Others worried about the legality of our adventures in Mesopotamia prior to the Iraq invasion.
"I spent a good deal of time recently in the Balkans making sure Milosevic was put behind bars," said Sir Mike. "I have no intention of ending up in the next cell to him in the Hague."
From The Guardian that's Gen. Mike Jackson, head of the British army from prior to the invasion. The Guardian also reported in 2005 that "in her letter of resignation in protest against the war, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy legal adviser at the Foreign Office, described the planned invasion of Iraq as a 'crime of aggression'."

The occasion for this retrospective is today's article commenting on the Bush administration's handling of its prisoners.
MIAMI (Reuters) - The U.S. war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo have betrayed the principles of fairness that made the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg a judicial landmark, one of the U.S. Nuremberg prosecutors said on Monday.

"I think Robert Jackson, who's the architect of Nuremberg, would turn over in his grave if he knew what was going on at Guantanamo," Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King Jr. told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"It violates the Nuremberg principles, what they're doing, as well as the spirit of the Geneva Conventions of 1949."

[. . .]

"To torture people and then you can bring evidence you obtained into court? Hearsay evidence is allowed? Some evidence is available to the prosecution and not to the defendants? This is a type of 'justice' that Jackson didn't dream of," King said.
Pre-9/11 thinking, clearly.

Crooks and Liars brings us up to date:
With each passing day, the Bush Administration becomes further isolated from our courts, Constitution, the American people and the world. What’s so sad is that the GOP Presidential candidates appear determined to put party over country and do the exact same thing.
No presidential pardon protects administration officials from international criminal charges, so international travel could become iffy in the future.

Then again, Albania might be accomodating. The president might even be able to get his watch back.

No disappearance by government fiat, panel says

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rules against the Bush administration on invoking "enemy combatant" status. The case involves Qatari citizen al-Marri being held in Charelston, SC.

“To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians,” Judge Motz wrote, “even if the president calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country.”

“We refuse to recognize a claim to power,” Judge Motz added, “that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our republic.”

Those foundations are due for some badly needed repair. The Bush administration has done for them what Katrina did for the Gulf Coast.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A twinge of conscience

A twinge of conscience from any shill for the GOP is refreshing. Andy McCarthy at National Review shames his colleagues:
Not that Scooter Libby has asked for my advice, but I also must say that that the ardor of his supporters — including, I believe, NR — has hurt him, and hurt the conservative movement, in very fundamental ways. As to him personally, all this passionate rhetoric about his heroic service to the United States, how the investigation should never have happened, and how he got unfairly singled out and screwed (all of which I agree with) would be fine if it weren't obscuring something fairly important: Lying to the FBI and a grand jury is a very bad thing, even if we all think it was an unworthy investigation.

The blather about the foibles of memory is just an excuse for people who don't want to confront that inconvenient fact. Foibles of memory come up in every trial — they were particularly highlighted in the Libby trial because the defense hoped to score points with them given the nature of the charges, but they were not materially different from what happens in every trial. That's why we have juries.

Witnesses have varying recollections, and juries sort it out. The evidence that Libby lied, rather than that he was confused, was compelling. And the jury was diligent: the post-verdict commentary showed that they liked and felt sorry for him, several thought there should have been no case, some openly hoped for a pardon, and on the one count where the evidence was considerably weaker than the others, they acquitted him. They convicted him on the other four charges, reluctantly, because they had no choice if they were going to honor their oaths. And I respectfully think it's very presumptuous of people who were not there and did not spend nearly the time and attention the jurors did on Libby's case, to continue saying that the jury got it wrong and this was just a case of faulty memory.
But don't expect an epidemic of conscience. Because then there are the Fouad Ajamis over at the Wall Street Journal:
In "The Soldier's Creed," there is a particularly compelling principle: "I will never leave a fallen comrade." This is a cherished belief, and it has been so since soldiers and chroniclers and philosophers thought about wars and great, common endeavors. Across time and space, cultures, each in its own way, have given voice to this most basic of beliefs. They have done it, we know, to give heart to those who embark on a common mission, to give them confidence that they will not be given up under duress. A process that yields up Scooter Libby to a zealous prosecutor is justice gone awry.

[. . .]

The Schadenfreude of your political detractors over the Libby verdict lays bare the essence of this case: an indictment of the Iraq war itself. The critics of the war shall grant you no reprieve if you let Scooter Libby do prison time. They will see his imprisonment as additional proof that this has been a war of folly from the outset. [Emphasis mine.]
Weakness, Mr. President, Ajami thinks. Your enemies will see weakness. And what do we do when we perceive weakness?

And then there are the Bill Kristols, who not so long ago thought the rule of law a foundational principle to be defended. Now they think Libby should be pardoned:
Bush doesn't seem to have much sympathy for Libby himself--he was just hired help, and hired help sometimes gets thrown overboard. Normally, though, staff who get thrown overboard simply lose their government job. They don't go to jail. Nor, incidentally, has the president said that he feels terrible for what the Wall Street Journal correctly called "the cowardice and incompetence of his administration"--an administration whose CIA leaked its referral of the Plame matter, and whose Justice Department panicked and appointed a special prosecutor, all of which has finally brought us to the present pass.

In any case, it's not about Bush's feelings. The Constitution says nothing about the president's feelings. It does, however, in Article II, Section Two, give the president the power to pardon. To govern is to choose. Not to pardon is, now--given the verdict, and the likelihood of a prison term--itself a choice. Not to pardon would be a foolish and unjust choice for the president to make. But more important, not to pardon--or, at the very least, not to commute the sentence by eliminating the jail sentence--would be a dishonorable choice.
Is Kristol really arguing that Bush and an administration midwifed in "cowardice and incompetence" by Kristol and the Weekly Standard ("The Official Bathroom Reading of the Official Bathroom"®) should do the honorable thing by following more wisdom from Kristol and the Weekly Standard?

It's beyond further comment. Besides, Cheney's probably leading "strategery" sessions on the pardon already.

[h/t Firedoglake]

Local Color

Just minutes ago. The guy standing in front of the storefront held a large black and white sign and aimed it at passing cars:


Asheville, NC. Gotta love it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Security upgrade

From a clip Ed Schultz played this afternoon. From Sen. Byron Dorgan, December 13, 2005:
I want to mention that there is one building that is a five-story building in the Cayman Islands located on Church Street. I have brought a photo of it to the Senate floor previously, and I should do that again at some point. That building is the official residence and address for 12,748 corporations.

Now, one might ask, how is it 12,748 corporations can share a residence or an address in a 5-story white building in the Cayman Islands? Simple. It is nothing more than an address.

What is the purpose of having an address in a 5-story white building in the Cayman Islands? So that one does not have to pay taxes to this country. Money can be moved through a tax haven and avoid paying U.S. taxes. So one is a U.S. company, they are chartered probably in Delaware, have all the advantages of being an American, but now the new economics tell them they should produce in China, sell in this marketplace and set up an address in a 5-story white building mailbox in the Cayman Islands, so that they can have all the opportunities that come with being an American, except the responsibilities to hire American workers or to pay American taxes. That is what is happening.

People say, well, that is just an anticorporate rant. It is not. I think there are some wonderful corporations in this country, some terrific corporations with inventive people, creative people, who have advanced this country, have produced wonderful, breathtaking products, but I think there is a culture in this country, with respect to trade and corporate responsibility, that has gone off the track. ... We are selling this country piece by piece.
And rewarding those involved in doing it. I wrote this in a column published in February 2005:
I'm lucky; things are beginning to improve. But it's been tough watching our manufacturing base bleed away, watching one factory after another close. And why? Last year, 290 employees at Cooper Bussman in Black Mountain heard they would lose their jobs. Days earlier, Houston-based Cooper Industries reported solid fourth-quarter growth. After Cooper Industries announced it would reincorporate in Bermuda to avoid paying U.S. taxes, John Ong, Cooper board member and Bush Pioneer, went to Norway as U.S. ambassador. Workers in Black Mountain didn't even get a lousy T-shirt.
Stunningly, Cooper was quite matter-of-fact about why it was reincorporating offshore:
“We are excited about the opportunities presented by a Bermuda reincorporation and are confident that it is in the best interests of our shareholders and other constituencies,” said H. John Riley, Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer. “This change will enhance Cooper’s strategic flexibility and our reduced global tax position will significantly increase cash flow -- enabling us to further strengthen our balance sheet and better position us to pursue worldwide growth opportunities.

[. . .]

Under the plan to change its place of incorporation from Ohio to Bermuda, previously announced on June 11, 2001, Cooper Industries, Ltd., a newly-formed Bermuda corporation, will become the parent holding company of Cooper Industries, Inc. The reincorporation offers strategic advantages not available under the Company’s current corporate structure. Cooper’s effective tax rate post-reincorporation will be reduced to a range of 20 to 25 percent from approximately 32 percent, creating immediate value for Cooper shareholders. The improved global tax position is expected to generate additional cash flow of approximately $55 million annually, and add approximately $.58 per share to earnings.
Translation? Screw you, Uncle Sam.

Curmudgeon-in-Residence, Ralph Nader, weighs in today at Tom Paine:
Uncle Sam has bent over to give Big Business what it has demanded in the past 25 years. Huge tax reductions, compared to the prosperous 1960s. Massive deregulation, or the abandonment of law and order against criminal, negligent or defrauding corporations. Your tax dollars were transferred in the form of subsidies, handouts, giveaways and bailouts to demanding, mismanaged or corrupt large businesses.

Still, it was not enough coddling to keep these giant companies from casting aside what allegiance they had to our country, its communities and people. The companies’ standard is to control them or quit them as these CEOs see fit.

When BusinessWeek magazine answered a resounding “yes” to its cover story in 2000, "Too Much Corporate Power?," the editors were not kidding. They even wrote an editorial saying that “corporations should get out of politics.” I guess they meant that since corporations do not vote, and are not human beings, that they should not be honing in on what should be the exclusive domain of real people.
Because they are not real people. As I wrote in a column in July 2005:
. . . there’s nothing natural about the corporation. It’s an artificial life form engineered to relentlessly pursue profit. As actor Michael Biehn said of “The Terminator,” that’s what it does. That’s all it does.
The corporation is a very clever invention that has grown beyond the ability of its creators to control it. We have difficulty seeing that because the corporation has become such a part of the warp and woof of our culture. And because popular fiction depicts inventions gone awry as being biological or technological. This out-of-control invention is legal.

The flaw is not in capitalism or business. Capitalism and business existed for centuries before the appearance of corporations. The corporation is but one model for organizing a business. A very successful model, to be sure, but by no means the only one. The problem is that the corporation was badly designed ... by us. Its design flaws are becoming manifest as corporations increasingly supplant citizens as the principal clients of government. It is a technology badly in need of a security upgrade.
“The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being. There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.”

— Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fragrance of the month

From Roger Simon in the Reagan estate-connected Politico, on Tuesday's GOP debate:
Here are the winners and losers of Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, accurate to three decimal places.

FIRST PLACE: Mitt Romney

Analysis: Strong, clear, gives good soundbite and has shoulders you could land a 737 on. Not only knows how to answer a question, but how to duck one. Asked why he was so late in deciding to oppose abortion, Romney smoothly replied: “I'm not going to apologize for the fact that I became pro-life.”
Ooh, those shoulders. 7-3-7. "Makes you want to go out and buy a slide rule, doesn't it?"

Here's more from the Politico and Simon regarding Romney from 2/13/07 (just in time for Valentine's Day):
Romney has chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest. On the morning that he announced for president, I bumped into him in the lounge of the Marriott and up close he is almost overpowering. He radiates vigor.
And MSNBC's Chris Matthews from January:
MATTHEWS: What do you think of him as an opponent? We're looking at him right now. He has the perfect chin, the perfect hair, he looks right. He looks like a Mountie. He looks like from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Can that guy capture the hearts of the American people...?
Maybe the GOP has been pushing its manliness fetish a bit too hard. Next, their boys will have to have their own fragrances.
Radiate vigor
Capture hearts
the new fragrance from Max-achusetts
[h/t Digby]

The JFK errorists (no typo)

As I wrote elsewhere:
Been reading the official complaint on the WaPo site. Glad they caught these guys. With any luck, most of our terror plotters will be no more knowledgeable than these. Just because they had delusions of planning something bigger than 9/11 doesn’t make it so. They expected to blow up “the whole of Kennedy” and explode part of Queens by bombing a couple of fuel tanks and a jet fuel pipeline behind a gas station at the entrance to Kennedy? Please.
“Individual A opined that the tanks appeared to be made of titanium, and recommended utilizing a chemical that would penetrate the metal.”
Speaking as someone who’s spent some time designing and climbing around carbon steel tanks and pipelines filled with flammables: Whata buncha maroons.

And liquid (un-aerosoled) jet fuel ain’t that explosive, by the way. It will burn nicely, though.

Economic disruption, yes. Nice fireworks display, yes. Mass casualties, no.
Newsday follows up:
When U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf described the alleged terror plot to blow up Kennedy Airport as "one of the most chilling plots imaginable," which might have caused "unthinkable" devastation, one law enforcement official said he cringed.

The plot, he knew, was never operational. The public had never been at risk. And the notion of blowing up the airport, let alone the borough of Queens, by exploding a fuel tank was in all likelihood a technical impossibility.
Makes one all nostalgic for the color code alert system, doesn't it?

Mayor Bloomberg weighs in too:
"There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life," he said.

[. . .]

"You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist," he added.

Friday, June 01, 2007

US Attorney Tim Griffin resigns

Por quoi?

Well it seems those e-mailed caging lists from the GOP's 2004 vote suppression efforts -- the ones that fell into Greg Palast's hands via an e-mail error by Griffin -- have now been delivered into into the hands of the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Palast has been all but alone in pursuing this story for some time now. Griffin was a senior assistant to Karl Rove during the 2004 campaign. Griffin replaced fired US Attorney H.E. “Bud” Cummins in Little Rock.

Caging is a felony.

And these emails, at least, are no longer missing.

Palast has details on his site:
Tim Griffin, formerly right hand man to Karl Rove, resigned Thursday as US Attorney for Arkansas hours after BBC Television ‘Newsnight’ reported that Congressman John Conyers requested the network’s evidence on Griffin’s involvement in ‘caging voters.’ Greg Palast, reporting for BBC Newsnight, obtained a series of confidential emails from the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. In these emails, Griffin, then the GOP Deputy Communications Director, transmitted so-called ‘caging lists’ of voters to state party leaders.
Palast thoughtfully provided an annotated photo of one of the e-mails. And more:
Experts have concluded the caging lists were designed for a mass challenge of voters’ right to cast ballots. The caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.

[. . .]

Conyers indicated to the BBC that he thought it unlikely that Griffin could carry out this massive ‘caging’ operation without the knowledge of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rove.
How does "caging" work? Dahlia Lithwick at Slate explains:

Vote caging is an illegal trick to suppress minority voters (who tend to vote Democrat) by getting them knocked off the voter rolls if they fail to answer registered mail sent to homes they aren't living at (because they are, say, at college or at war). The Republican National Committee reportedly stopped the practice following a consent decree in a 1986 case. Google the term and you'll quickly arrive at the Wizard of Oz of caging, Greg Palast, investigative reporter and author of the wickedly funny Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans—Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Palast started reporting allegations of Republican vote caging for the BBC's Newsnight in 2004. He's been almost alone on the story since then. Palast contends, both in Armed Madhouse and widely through the liberal blogosphere, that vote caging, an illegal voter-suppression scheme, happened in Florida in 2004 this way:

The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked "Do not forward" to voters' homes. Letters returned ("caged") were used as evidence to block these voters' right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and—you got to love this—American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.

Why weren't these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation—and the soldiers were overseas.

. . . risking their lives to provide democracy to Iraqis while their Commander-In-Chief's deputies were stealing it from them at home.