“How dare you subject the rest of the world to your loathsome view of humanity”

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low

(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush’s approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they’re opposed to the agreement.

CBS News senior White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that now it turns out the Coast Guard had concerns about the ports deal, a disclosure that is no doubt troubling to a president who assured Americans there was no security risk from the deal.

The good news is not that Bush’s poll numbers are at an historic low. The good news and to some extent the bad news is the reasons for those numbers. They don’t like the port deal, the public doesn’t think Bush cares about them ( while Katrina was the match that lit the fire, it showed in dozens of other ways that the majority of Americans previously gave Bush a pass on, Bush’s Fiscal Meltdown, The Bush Scorecard. Its understandable that progressive minded Americans would find Bush’s record disgusting, but if we’re to believe the last fourty years of conservative spin, other then irresponsible tax cuts, its difficult to see how a true conservative could still support him.

Via The Democratic Party, From Cash to Yachts, Convicted Congressman Set Bribery Rates

Prosecutors call it a corruption case with no parallel in the long history of the U.S. Congress. And it keeps getting worse. Convicted Rep. Randall “Duke” Cunningham actually priced the illegal services he provided.

Prices came in the form of a “bribe menu” that detailed how much it would cost contractors to essentially order multimillion-dollar government contracts, according to documents submitted by federal prosecutors for Cunningham’s sentencing hearing this Friday. […]

The sentencing memorandum includes the California Republican’s “bribery menu” on one of his congressional note cards, “starkly framed” under the seal of the United States Congress.

The card shows an escalating scale for bribes, starting at $140,000 and a luxury yacht for a $16 million Defense Department contract. Each additional $1 million in contract value required a $50,000 bribe.

Just two headlines from right-wing sites without comment, “Democracy Angst — What’s the alternative to promoting freedom in the Middle East?” and “Give Civil War a Chance“.

Feingold clicks with blog fans

“What it means is he rings the bells of people who represent the true believers in the Democratic Party,” said Andrew Kohut, a non-partisan pollster for the Pew Research Center. “The question is, what is the breadth of his appeal to other Democratic constituencies whose opinions are not as tightly stitched together?”

At a time when the practice of politics online is growing, Feingold clearly sees the “netroots” as integral to the sort of long-shot campaign he may be waging against more established Democrats.

In an interview last fall, Feingold political aide George Aldrich said the Internet “has a huge impact in terms of leveling the playing field for the candidates that don’t have huge financial networks, but can develop one pretty quickly if the netroots community gets behind them.”

To cultivate such support, Feingold has an Internet coordinator on his political staff, consults with a team of Internet advisers, has held conference calls with Democratic-leaning bloggers, offers downloadable video podcasts, and allows supporters to vote online for which congressional candidates should receive contributions from Feingold’s political committee.

I know that Senator Feingold’s presence on the net has had an effect on at least one person, me. I like Wes Clarke, but after reading Feingold’s posts at Talking Points Memo and Kos, and seeing a couple of speeches on C-Span the senator has moved up to tie Wes in my own poll.

I understand the sentiment, but impeaching Bush would be a mistake, via King of Zembla The Case for Impeachment, Why we can no longer afford George W. Bush.
Impeaching Bush would just make him a martyr. If you think unsupportable virtues are assigned to him now, just watch what happens during the impeachment hearings. In the course of fight to impeach Bush, the Bush side will get a bloody nose and a busted lip, the progressive side and moderate conservatives who join in will get a broken leg on which they will hobble through the next two election cycles. Censure Bush, but don’t create an impeachment martyr.

Why are some conservatives so vindictive ? here and here.

This goes against my own conventional wisdom, I study major purchasing decisions and note all the pros and cons, but I don’t tend to agonize over them too much. Get the facts make a choice. Though there’s much to be said for gathering up a lot of information, then putting it aside and allowing your intuition to take over. ‘Follow your gut,’ study advises on big decisions

I thought it was you.
It’s me.
I’m glad to meet you because I wanted to
tell you that I’ve seen The Gong Show and
I think you are the most insidious and
despicable force in entertainment today.
Well —
How dare you subject the rest of the
world to your loathsome view of humanity.
I don’t think it’s that loathsome.
What is it then? To mock some poor,
lonely people who just crave a little
attention in their lives. To destroy
them. So everybody’s not brilliantly
talented. They’re still people. They
deserve respect and compassion. I mean,
who the hell are you? What the fuck have
you ever done that elevates you above the
pathetic masses? Oh, I forgot, you
created The Dating Game. Wow, right up
there with the Sistine Chapel. I guess
that’s what gives you the right to…
from the screenplay CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND by Charlie Kaufman based on
CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND an unauthorized biography by
Chuck Barris


Bush: 21st Century Gunzel

In the classic film-noir The Maltese Falcon based on the hard boiled crime novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett, Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade refers to the character Wilmer ( Elisha Cook Jr.) as a gunzel. An early definition of the word was defined as a convicted criminal that had a fondness beyond regular friendship for another inmate, but later, like slang has a habit of doing, expanded to include gangsters who were not all that tough when you took their gun away and still retained at least a hint of implying that the gangster in question was less then manly. Bush gives new meaning to the word gunzel. Until 9-11 Bush disregarded the warnings of the Clinton Administration about making Osama Bin Laden a priority and instead moved fighting gun control,stopping the threat of medical marijuana usage, and punishing hookers and their clients to the top of the gunzel to do list. A punk’s list of priorities if their ever was one. For those that were paying attention, 9-11 striped away the facade of the fake cowboy’s toughness, after reading a children’s’s book and flying around in circles he shows up in New York to wrap himself in the new gunzel’s protective gear, the American flag. The new gunzel is clever, ya see if you criticize the gunzel wrapped in the flag, it looks like you are critical of the flag too. 9-11 was a horrible day and even the most cynical critics of the administration put aside their honest differences for national unity. What was important is that we as a nation get justice for this grossly criminal act. It turns out even as plans were being made to go after Bin Laden, gangsterish schemes were under way to wage war against a secularized Islamic state rather then the very tedious job of ferreting out the blood thirsty jihadists that concealed themselves within dozens of nation-states. Gunzels are notoriously lazy minded, they reject thinking about things that are complex, that require thinking outside the box. Gunzels hiding behind bluster, think they can point a gun at something, snarl and the threat real or not will shrink up and disappear. You can judge a gunzel by lack of results, ‘Significant attacks’ at 21-year high, revised data show

The administrations’s approach to Iraq was the same as a punk’s approach to robbing a bank, they thought they had all the angles covered, but of course punks never do. They sent too few troops to do a job they themselves would never be brave enough to do, they sent them without the proper body armor and with no real plan for the occupation. Since the flag draping worked to deflect any criticism of Bush they draped Iraq in the flag too. They tried and somewhat succeed in convincing people that Bin Laden and Saddam were the same thing. Yet no WMD, no collaboration with al-Queda ; these marginal threats were used rather then having a clear picture of real threats and a real strategy of defeating the terrorists and stemming the spread of terrorism. The 21st century gunzel must always be at war or people might notice how useless they are.
Katrina versus the gunzel, and Katrina wins. One sure sign of a gunzel, our modern day tough guy wannabe is the claim to being the great protector. Yet when faced with a catastrophic event Bush could not muster all the power at his disposal to help the victims. No, presidents cannot prevent hurricanes, but they can respond to them. With a series of debacles under his belt, 9-11, Iraq, Afghanistan’s reemergence as an opium center, he asks that America trust him to break FISA laws that every president since 1978 has adhered to. With the Bush record of one miserable failure after another, maybe its out of pity that some members of Congress are trying to make Bush’s violation of the constitution and the public trust retroactively legal. The gunzels as usual have taken the tact of misdirecting the debate, with the egregious accusation that Democrats don’t want the president to spy on terrorists. If we lived in a sane world, Bush and any member of his administration that expressed those sentiments would be censured for suggesting such a thing. The issue a month ago, the issue today, and the issue tomorrow will be spying on American citizens without a FISA warrant.

A gunzel of the 40’s and 50’s could be found pistol whipping his opponents even after they had been subdued. Gunzel Bush tortures people after they’ve been caught and imprisoned, not because torture works, not because it saves us from some hypothetical ticking bomb, but because gunzels then and now take pleasure in sadism, especially at the idea of having such control over another human being. One of the defining characteristics of modern conservatives are the desire to control even the most personal aspects of human behavior.

The modern gunzel poses different dangers; Bush gunzelism endangers any true small government conservatism, it pushes moderate Muslims to the fringe, it punishes Muslim states instead of Muslim terrorists, it demoralizes and weakens our military, it undermines our sense of community as a nation, it rewards incompetence and cowardice,it tramples on the law and the public trust, and Bush gunzelism tarnishes America’s reputation as a country of honor.

Stripe away Wilmer’s gun, stripe away Bush’s false bravado, “bring it on” and all you have is a tough talking incompetent coward. Like his entire cuddled life, Bush will manage to get through his presidency without taking responsibility for anything, letting others carry the burden of his gross ineptitude. Bush, a gunzel for the new century.

Bill Kristol is a gunzel too, Commandante Kristol Unholsters His Cap Pistol (updated)

and the light of his soul flickered with shame

Thoughts from Kansas, FISA gutted to protect the President?

Balkinization asks “Mother of Mercy, Is This the End of FISA?!,” as Senator Specter proposes a law that, rather than addressing the legality of the current system, would simply let FISA warrants be issued for anyone at all:

the bill would permit domestic electronic surveillance targeted at U.S. persons merely upon a showing of “probable cause” that the surveillance program as a whole — not even the particular targeted surveillance — will intercept communications of anyone who has “had communication” with a foreign power or agent of a foreign power, as long as the government is seeking to monitor or detect that foreign power (or agent)!

How many people are there who have no probable chance of ever talking to someone who has talked to someone who might have called another country or had communication with some bad person. (Foreign agent and foreign power are defined in FISA, and Congress already broadened those definitions after 9/11).

And even if such a person existed, what is there to prevent the President from using this new law as toilet paper once he’s done with the FISA that already exists?

If you were thinking that the changes would lower the standards for FISA or twist FISA and the 4th Amendment to the point of being comical, The Anonymous Liberal beat you to the punch, Specter’s Trojan Horse

So instead of having to demonstrate that probable cause exists on a warrant by warrant basis, the government would only have to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe the program as a whole will intercept at least one communication involving a foreign power or agent of a foreign power or someone who has communicated with such a person. That’s a comically weak standard, so weak that I doubt any conceivable surveillance program would fail to meet it, including dragnet-style data-mining programs.

from People for the American Way,

Demand a Special Prosecutor Investigate the White House for Illegal Spying

Millions of Americans are outraged by the White House’s warrantless domestic surveillance and its disdain for constitutional checks and balances. Join us in a call for a thorough, independent investigation of these practices. Calling for a Special Prosecutor is an important first step in a People For the American Way campaign to encourage public vigilance in pursuit of government transparency, accountability and oversight.

Sign the petition and pass on the good word!

As in stop complaining and do something.

Bush Team Squeezes Farmers, Stifles Dissent

McGavin, ‘A Christmas Story’ father, dies at 83

The husky, tough-talking performer went on to become one of the busiest actors in television and film, starring in five TV series, including “Mike Hammer,” and endearing holiday audiences with his role as the grouchy dad in the 1983 comedy classic “A Christmas Story.”

….He also starred alongside Don Knotts, who died Friday night, in the 1976 family comedy “No Deposit, No Return.”

I thought McGavin was great. He was great at playing gruff or tough guy with a heart of gold. He even admitted that he played some parts a little tonque and cheek, not being sure that he should take the character as seriously as written.

Doesn’t seem like a week can go by without the neocons weakening the nation in one way or another, some governors of both parties have noticed, Bush Policies Are Weakening National Guard, Governors Say

Tens of thousands of National Guard members have been sent to Iraq, along with much of the equipment needed to deal with natural disasters and terrorist threats in the United States, the governors said here at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

The National Guard, which traces its roots to the colonial militia, has a dual federal-state role. Governors normally command the Guard in their states, but Guard members deployed overseas in support of a federal mission are under the control of the president.

The governors said they would present their concerns to President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday. In a preview of their message, all 50 governors signed a letter to the president opposing any cuts in the size of the National Guard.

German Intelligence Gave U.S. Iraqi Defense Plan, Report Says

In providing the Iraqi document, German intelligence officials offered more significant assistance to the United States than their government has publicly acknowledged. The plan gave the American military an extraordinary window into Iraq’s top-level deliberations, including where and how Mr. Hussein planned to deploy his most loyal troops.

The German role is not the only instance in which nations that publicly cautioned against the war privately facilitated it. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for example, provided more help than they have disclosed. Egypt gave access for refueling planes, while Saudi Arabia allowed American special operations forces to initiate attacks from its territory, United States military officials say.

My first thought was that this would explain , in addition to very well trained troops why the initial invasion wave was so successful. It would also highlight how miserably the administration did after that initial success in evaluating the resistance of the insurgency where there was no inside information.

He saw that he was good. He recalled with a thrill of joy the respectful comments of his fellows upon his conduct.

Nevertheless, the ghost of his flight from the first engagement appeared to him and danced. There were small shoutings in his brain about these matters. For a moment he blushed, and the light of his soul flickered with shame.

A specter of reproach came to him. There loomed the dogging memory of the tattered soldier–he who, gored by bullets and faint of blood, had fretted concerning an imagined wound in another; he who had loaned his last of strength and intellect for the tall soldier; he who, blind with weariness and pain, had been deserted in the field.

from The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

If you can’t be counted on, you can’t be counted in

Socially responsible investing, link to pdf file. Be aware that it is an advertisement. There is a small problem with “socially conscious investment.” it leaves corporations that are generally following the law otherwise able to continue business practices that are not guided by respect for workers or the environment. To change the practices of those corporation means resorting to legislation. Or often going to the judicial system to seek enforcement of regulations or to seek compensations for individuals or localities that have been harmed by wrong doing. Obviously it would be easier if the corporation was run by individuals who believed in a socially responsible corporate culture in the first place. No need for regulation or lawsuits if businesses would operate in an ethical manner. That is where shareholders come in. Shareholders have the power to move companies to make decisions informed by social responsibility. Frankly if a company claims that it cannot make a profit by treating its workers well and respecting the environment, then two things are distinctly possible; one possibility is that the company doesn’t have a good business model and the other is that they do not possess the moral values that should be part of the guiding force of that business. That said, mutual funds whose portfloio includes companies that are doing alternative energy research, have a good balance on using domestic and foreign labor, invest in their communities, etc are great, but purchasing some interests in a non-socially conscious corporation with the goal of actively participating in those companies and instituting reforms is at least something to be considered by way of working for change from the roots up.

HT to Progressive Prof, ‘Who’s counting Bush’s mistakes?’

The Corruption Net Spreads

In this post, TalkLeft wondered who else might be taken down with Randall “Duke” Cunningham. Mitchell Wade, former president of MZM Inc., a firm that does intelligence work for the military, admitted yesterday that he bribed Cunningham and unnamed Defense Department officials. His confession widened the scope of the corruption investigation.

The new admissions, including details that identify Reps. Virgil H. Goode Jr. (R-Va.) and Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) as recipients of illegal campaign contributions, are contained in Wade’s agreement to plead guilty to four criminal charges stemming from his role in the Cunningham probe.

Whenever I hear anyone embrace the philosophy of free speech-free press I’m delighted. In fact I’m damned delighted. It’s not an easy philosophy to embrace, you’re not just fighting for your right to say or print what you think, but also those that you are 180 degrees in disagreement with. Oriana Fallaci’s has a right to speak her mind, to rant against Muslims, or even to be somewhat of an anarchist. I strongly suspect that Catherine Seipp’s defense of Fallici is not about being noble or about intellectual freedom, but more likely expedient false outrage combined with Islamophopia.

But the truth is, by now we understand the Muslim world all too well. For those who manage to remain perplexed, there are many helpful news photos of placards (“Behead Those Who Disrespect Islam,” “Get Ready for the Real Holocaust”), often carried by religiously shrouded women, that can clear up their puzzlement.

Back to City Lights, which indeed has no plans to sell any books by the “fascist” free-speech defender Fallaci. The store’s website proudly declares that the place is “known for our commitment to freedom of expression,” in which case you might assume such commitment includes supporting those whose free expression puts them in real danger.

There are many ways to define racisim, one is to assigns attributes to all based on the attributes of some or a few. Could M’s Seipp tell us what percent of the world’s Muslims killed someone during the last round of cartoon riots and compare that to the numbers of people killed by, oh let’s say southern white males in the last four months or maybe she could compare the Muslim domestic violence to Christian domestic violence. Anyway should City Lights bookstore in San Francisco carry Dallici’s book; I think they should. Some questions remain for Siepp and the right to answer in their new age crusade; since City Light’s is privately owned and since conservatives typically claim to believe that private ownership entitles the owner to practice business as they see fit, has the right done a complete turn around on this issue. Lastly will M’s Seipp be joining me then to try and force the dozen local fundamentalists Christian book stores to carry Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design . And after failing to get these fundamentalist Christian bookstores to carry Dawkins’ book will she be calling them fascists, I know I won’t. As to the possible argument that Siepp meant radical Muslims, as an experienced columnist if she choose not to use such qualifiers when it would have taken only a few more key strokes we all know why.

It’s official, when Bill Buckley speaks he has no influence in the conservative community. Bill is a dinosaur speaking from a cave, that echo you hear is meaningless. How sad to grow old, see your grand conservative vision starting the slow descent into the abyss.

That’s the way it is down here. If you can’t be counted on, you can’t be counted in.

“Here’s all she could tell me on the phone,” Pepper said. “Some man was shot, more than once. He’s in a coma, and they don’t expect him to live.”

“So what connects Wolfe–?”

“He named her,” Pepper interrupted. “He told the police she was the one who shot him.”

“When was this supposed to have gone down?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything more about it, not even the man’s name. All I know is they’re holding her at the precinct, and they expect to arraign her tonight.”

“She’s got an alibi,” I said, holding Pepper’s eyes.

“She’s got plenty of those,” Pepper snapped back, telling me I was standing at the end of a long line. And those ahead of me would come across a lot better in court than a two-time felony loser who had been declared dead years ago. “That’s not what she needs, right this minute. She needs to–“

excerpt from DOWN HERE, a novel by Andrew Vachss

DOWN THE RABBIT-HOLE 21st Century Edition

Polls are like a casino dealer, fidelity is usually short lived and partly based on illusion. We love then as long as the cards are falling our way, so with that in mind, Just 17% Favor Dubai Ports Deal

From a political perspective, President Bush’s national security credentials have clearly been tarnished due to the outcry over this issue. For the first time ever, Americans have a slight preference for Democrats in Congress over the President on national security issues. Forty-three percent (43%) say they trust the Democrats more on this issue today while 41% prefer the President.

Which brings us to this great post at Mahablog, The Snapping Point II . I extend my personal appreciation for dealing with the soft spoken insanity of Charles Krauthammer, who by suggesting that if the UAE were still under the British Empire control we wouldn’t be having this problem. While the right continues to deny that its ideological roots resemble Franco more then James Madison a shining star of right-wing intellectual punditry swears the world’s problems are due to a lack of imperialism.

Krauthammer’s denial of reality is so vast it’s almost majestic. I can hear the ghost of Rudyard Kipling whispering “The White Man’s Burden.” Somebody send ol’ Charles a monocle and a pith helmet, quick.

A paleo-neo-con architect gives us a shallow echo of Howard Dean, It Didn’t Work

“I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes — it is America.” The New York Times reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. “Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America.”

One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that “The bombing has completely demolished” what was being attempted — to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.

Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans.

One right-wing blogger and an ardent Bush cultists calls Buckley a ” unreconstructed racist”, while a commenter at another right-wing site says,” maybe the right has moved past Buckley”. At least the right is using the cw word, civil war. Unfortunately for over 2000 dead Americans the Bush loyalists are behind on the curve, retired Gen. William E. Odom, the head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration from 03 August 2005, What’s wrong with cutting and running?

On civil war. Iraqis are already fighting Iraqis. Insurgents have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. That’s civil war. We created the civil war when we invaded; we can’t prevent a civil war by staying.

For those who really worry about destabilizing the region, the sensible policy is not to stay the course in Iraq. It is rapid withdrawal, re-establishing strong relations with our allies in Europe, showing confidence in the UN Security Council, and trying to knit together a large coalition including the major states of Europe, Japan, South Korea, China, and India to back a strategy for stabilizing the area from the eastern Mediterranean to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Until the United States withdraws from Iraq and admits its strategic error, no such coalition can be formed.

Thus those who fear leaving a mess are actually helping make things worse while preventing a new strategic approach with some promise of success.

Gen. Odom made some clarifications in a follow up article 11 November, 2005, Odom: Want stability in the Middle East? Get out of Iraq!

Iraq is the worst place to fight a battle for regional stability. Whose interests were best served by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the first place? It turns out that Iran and al Qaeda benefited the most, and that continues to be true every day U.S. forces remain there. A serious review of our regional interests is required. Until that is accomplished and new and compelling aims for managing the region are clarified, continuing the campaign in Iraq makes no sense.

I wouldn’t and I don’t think General Odom means a complete withdrawal from the region, but a John Murtha type of redeployment because of the possible intervention of Iran if nothing else. Obviously the new sectarian violence in Iraq ratched the simmering civil war up a notch, but someone needs to tell David Ansman and Fox that its not a good thing. Sistani threatens to turn to Militia, Sadr Calls for Calm

The shoe seems to be on the other foot now, with Muqtada al-Sadr attempting to cool Iraq’s Shiites down and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani threatening to create a paramilitary to protect Shiites.

Not everything is being blamed on America and Israel,

On the other hand, the thousands of protester in Bahrain blamed Sunni “excommunicators” instead.

Juan also points to this article that talks about the signifcance of shrines, Attack deepens Iraq’s divide

Though the shrine dates back 1,000 years, it has been rebuilt numerous times. Its current dome was built in 1905. There are no records of previous attacks on the building or its predecessors.

Why not buck the trend, Cosmopolitanism: How To Be a Citizen of the World

Sure. The word comes from a Greek phrase, which means “citizen of the world.” The first person we know to have used the word about himself was Diogenes the Cynic in the 4th Century BC. It was a metaphor then and still is. It’s been attacked from both the left and the right. From the right, as you know, it was used as a term of anti-Semitic abuse, and their point was that people who had a sense of responsibility to the human community as a whole were going to be bad nationalists, bad patriots. The other direction of attack, from the left, was that cosmopolitanism was something very elitist. It came to mean a kind of free-floating attitude of the rich person who can afford to travel all over the world tasting a little bit of this culture and that one and not being very responsible about any of it.

I don’t think that cosmopolitanism has to be either elitist or unpatriotic; I think it’s perfectly possible to combine a sense of real responsibility for other human beings as human beings with a deeper sense of commitment to a political community.

Audio blog aggregator, The Hype Machine

ALICE was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, `without pictures or conversations?’

So she was considering, in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself `Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!’ (when she thought it over afterwards it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but, when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

from Alice in Wonderland , DOWN THE RABBIT-HOLE, by Lewis Carroll

some bicarbonate of soda, quick – double strength. I know those news mongrels will upset me.

I thought this article was interesting, not so much for the the way it addresses Portgate, but the whole idea of port management being outsourced and how the administration’s stand derails the Bush-Rove fear train,The Boy Who Cried Wolf

So why is the fearmonger-in-chief being so casual about this Dubai business?

Because at some level of consciousness even George Bush knows the inflated fears are bogus. So do a lot of the politicians merrily throwing spears at him. He taught them how to play this game, invented the tactics and reorganized political competition as a demagogic dance of hysterical absurdities, endless opportunities to waste public money. Very few dare to challenge the mindset. Thousands have died for it.

HT to Bad Attitudes. Despite playing the fear card for four years , Bush says that there really isn’t all that much to worry about. My first instinct is not so much to be against UAE, but to ask why this is the only solution. I realize these same ports were or still are managed by a British company; why isn’t there an American company that can manage the ports for the next few years. Its shouldn’t be an argument so much about the UAE managing the ports as much about American control and jobs. The WSJ editorial page always a dependable source of Bush ass coverage has said that the whole deal was fully “vetted”. Their OpEd page is entitled to its opinion, it is not entitled to make up its own facts. Treasury’s Snow says staff handled Dubai ports deal

update:Bush Connections to UAE deal and Money and Connections,

3) Bush’s brother, Neil Bush has reportedly “received funding for his educational software company from the UAE investors.”

4) Treasury Secretary John Snow was the former CEO of CSX rail corporation. After Snow left CSX for the White House, CSX sold their international port operations to Dubai Ports World for “more than a billion dollars.”

update 2: Answering to some degree my own question about why an American company couldn’t manage the ports in question: A Ship Already Sailed

American companies began withdrawing decades ago from the unglamorous business of stevedoring, ceding the now-booming industry to enterprises in Asia and the the Middle East.

So it is no accident that American companies are not in the top ranks of global terminal operators, who have ridden the coattails of the explosion in world trade. That shift has transferred growing financial clout to a handful of seafaring centers in Hong Kong, Singapore and now the emirate of Dubai.

and at least some of these companies have the benefit of their government’s deep pockets.

The biggest players in the global port and terminal management industry are a mixed group. Some are state-owned, some are publicly traded, some have shipping operations, and many are still run by wealthy families or their founders.

Regardless of which side one is on in the ports controversy politically or the motivations behind one’s point of view, it might be a done deal.

“God knows how you’d reverse it,” said one London-based executive involved in the sale, who did not want to be identified because of client confidentiality agreements. British regulators have approved the deal, and shareholders have already voted for it, he said.

“The Arabs own it, what are you going to do? Force them to sell it? Revoke their licenses for United States ports?” he asked.

Either of those measures might spark some sort of retaliation from Dubai in the form of legal action, he said, or even something as extreme as some sort of a restrictions on American-bound shipments passing through the port of Dubai.

I thought Pierce Brosnan was a great Bond. He resusitated the Bond franchise from the insipid Roger Moore years. That said Daniel Craig seems perfectly capable of both handling the role and giving the Bond film series a creative jolt. Maybe because I had seen Layer Cake before the annoucement, I didn’t have too much trouble imagining Graig as Bond. The people that are dead set against Graig aren’t likely to be swayed, but for those that are wavering might want to rent the Layer Cake DVD. During the last few minutes of the film Daniel is James Bond replete with attitude, tailored suit and beautiful companion.

Did the Bush administration “authorize” the leak of classified information to Bob Woodward?

The vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) made exactly that charge tonight in a letter to John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence. What prompted Rockefeller to write Negroponte was a recent op-ed in the New York Times by CIA director Porter Goss complaining that leaks of classified information were the fault of “misguided whistleblowers.”

Rockefeller charged in his letter that the most “damaging revelations of intelligence sources and methods are generated primarily by Executive Branch officials pushing a particular policy, and not by the rank-and-file employees of intelligence agencies.”

Libby himself admitted leaking classified information, he also claims that it was Ok or at least not his fault because his boss, Vice President Cheney told him too. While that may make some eyes roll, old Scooter is claiming that Fitzgerald’s investigation of said administration leaks are unconstitutional. This points up a trend on the right to always try to use an Orwellian wedge on the narrative of truth. Secrets are secrets when the right says they are, but carefully crafted administration leaks to sway public opinion are lies perpetrated for our own good. America should live in fear when when the right tells them to, but put the breaks on that fear when there’s deal in the pipeline benefits friends of the administration. Bush followers masquerade as free press advocates while attacking freedom of the press

…. concerted and escalating attacks launched by the Bush Administration and its followers on the press’ ability to report on the Administration’s conduct. That is why it is so astounding and so grating to see William Bennett parading around as a brave crusader for a free press in his Washington Post Op-Ed today, where he (futilely) drags along Alan Dershowitz with him for cover and credibility.

According to the Op-Ed, “the press has betrayed not only its duties but its responsibilities” by not publishing the Mohammed cartoons. We are then subjected to one of the most nakedly hypocritical statements one will ever encounter:

[O]ur general agreement and understanding of the First Amendment and a free press is informed by the fact — not opinion but fact — that without broad freedom, without responsibility for the right to know carried out by courageous writers, editors, political cartoonists and publishers, our democracy would be weaker, if not nonexistent. There should be no group or mob veto of a story that is in the public interest.

As I’ve said before, I believe the press ought to publish those cartoons as a means of defending their right to publish ideas free of intimidation and attack. But the very last people from whom we ought to be hearing sermons about the importance of free expression and a free press — and about the accompanying duty of the press to publish even those ideas which provoke controversy, outrage and offense — are Bush supporters, who are plainly engaged in a serious crusade to punish any journalists who express ideas which they dislike or which they believe produce undesirable consequences.

The libertarian take on Bennet’s deep deep dive into hypocrisy, Just Asking, Did Lucky Bill Bennett Push For Papers To Show Pics of Piss Christ?

Years ago, Republican party chair Rich Bond explained that conservatives’ frequent denunciations of “liberal bias” in the media were part of “a strategy” (Washington Post, 8/20/92). Comparing journalists to referees in a sports match, Bond explained: “If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs.’ Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack next time.”

Another subpoena has been issued in the Abramoff investigation

The investigators want to know more about Jack Abramoff and his work for his Russian clients. He represented two top Naftasib executives, Alexander Koulakovsky and Marina Nevskaya. Naftasib is a Russian energy giant, and a major supplier to the Russian military.

But wait! There’s more: investigators also want to know more about Tom DeLay’s work for the Russians. This is the second subpoena to name DeLay. So no bones about it – he is under investigation.

Yet I read another pretentious conservative OpEd today that gives Democrats advice on how to run their party, i.e. become more like conservatives. Since the general modus operandi of conservatism has been to operate like the Mafia on steroids they should be the last ones offering advice; unless they’re not being sincere. Conservatives wouldn’t be insincere now would they.

I think we’re all aware of the grave threat posed by gay vegetarian British pop stars, thank goodness the FBI and British Intell are on the case, MORRISSEY QUIZZED BY FBI

Morrissey explains, “The FBI and the Special Branch have investigated me and I’ve been interviewed and taped and so forth.

“They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England. But it didn’t take them very long to realise that I’m not.

“I don’t belong to any political groups, I don’t really say anything unless I’m asked directly and I don’t even demonstrate in public. I always assume that so-called authoritarian figures just assume that pop/rock music is slightly insane and an untouchable platform for the working classes to stand up and say something noticeable.

“My view is that neither England or America are democratic societies. You can’t really speak your mind and if you do you’re investigated.”

Maybe we’re living in a crowded house and we’re all getting on each other’s nerves, The planet’s population is projected to reach 6.5 billion at 7:16 p.m. EST Saturday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and its World Population Clock.

(stopping him)
What is it, Smythe?

Pardon me, madam – but what am I
to say to the newspapermen?

Mrs. Schuyler and Grayson. She rises and speaks imperiously:

Dexter, go out and tell those
ruffians I have nothing to say.

Grayson faces her placatingly.

You can’t do that. Leave it to me.
I know how to handle reporters.

(with a shudder)
All right, then – get it over with.

Grayson turns officiously toward the waiting butler.

We’ve decided to see the reporters.
Send in the man from the Tribune

Very good, sir.

Oh, Smythe, some bicarbonate of
soda, quick – double strength. I
know those news mongrels will
upset me.

I’ve anticipated it, madame. The
bicarbonate is ready.

from the screenplay PLATINUM BLONDE (1931), story by Harry E. Chandlee and Douglas W. Churchill, Adaptation by Jo Swerling, Dialogue by Robert Riskin

He had seen outside of his life, not learned it within

Hatch puts spin on ‘brainless’ comment

Sen. Orrin Hatch backpedaled Tuesday from a recent claim he made asserting that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was supporting al-Qaida, and that “Nobody with brains” would deny the connec- tion.
The assertion was striking not so much for its audacious tone, but because it contradicted the findings of multiple intelligence reviews, including the 9-11 Commission’s report and a review by the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which Hatch sits.
Appearing before a group of Iron County, Utah, business leaders Saturday, Hatch said: “And, more importantly, we’ve stopped a mass murderer in Saddam Hussein. Nobody denies that he was supporting al-Qaida,” he said, according to The Spectrum newspaper in St. George. “Well, I shouldn’t say nobody. Nobody with brains.”
Said John Pike, director of the national security think tank GlobalSecurity.org: “I guess I don’t have a brain, then.
“There’s no doubt that [Iraq] had contact with [al-Qaida]. OK. But I think that it would be something of a stretch to suggest they provided material assistance to them.”
Michael O’Hanlon, a terrorism expert at The Brookings Institution, said there were indeed meetings, but, “I think Senator Hatch went way too far and indeed the body of evidence was that there was no substantiated link.”

Hatch’s original assertion was both batty and irresponsible, especially from a U.S. Senator on the Intelligence Committee. That he’s hedging his correction reminds me of a child in some playground transgression and being forced to apologize, only while doing so he garbles the apology while kicking dirt.

While we’re on the subject of Iraq myths; a myth that I’ve only noticed in the last year so far as gaining any traction is that the Russian intelligence service helped Saddam more his supposed WMD to Syria. Bill O’Reilly and Fox News analyst Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney are doing their part to keep the myth alive. These guys are old enough to know better, the Billster has been written off as a shrill nutcase long ago, but there’s no excuse for McInerney…Arms Move to Syria ‘Unlikely,’ Report Says,

Mr. Duelfer reported that his group, the Iraq Survey Group, believed “it was unlikely that an official transfer of W.M.D. material from Iraq to Syria took place. However, I.S.G. was unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited W.M.D.-related materials.”

In the addendum, he also comes to largely the same conclusion that international weapons inspectors and some European nations argued before the war: that Mr. Hussein’s weapons ambitions were defeated by inspections.

RoboScam: Not Your Father’s Push Poll

The plot thickens. The automated calls we noted Friday received in the New York Congressional District of Republican Congressman John Sweeney (as reported by the Glen Falls, NY Post Star and the Albany Times Union) do not appear to be an isolated incident. Very similar calls have been received in Iowa and at least three other congressional districts held by Democrats that match the pattern of a classic “push poll” dirty trick. Why such calls were also made about a Republican remain unclear, but the answer may be a new high tech development in the inglorious history of political dirty tricks.

[ ]….You want to spread the rumor or exploit the issue without leaving fingerprints. So you hire a telemarketer to make phone calls that pretend to be a political poll. You “ask” only a question or two aimed at spreading the rumor (example: “would you be more or less likely to support John McCain if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black?”). You want to make as many calls as quickly as possible, so you do not bother with the time consuming tasks performed by most real pollsters, such as asking a lot of questions or asking to speak to a specific or random individual within the household.

new trailer for A Scanner Darkly based on the book by Philip K. Dick, Quicktime

Minifig Famous People # 17: Dick Cheney’s hunting accident constructed in Legos

Anna Leader photography, I liked the landscapes, but there are other subjects too. Even though there’s a Flash interface it loads fairly quick.

Arab Co., White House Had Secret Agreement

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

Continuing the last posts theme that Democrats are not allowed to criticize Bush, but conservatives are. Slate’s John Dickerson on “Bush critics you can trust”

“Bush is no conservative … He’s a bad CEO … He was hellbent on war.”

Now, one or two or three of those items may sound familiar to readers of this and other liberal blogs, or any daily newspaper, weekly magazine, monthly or quarterly journal, or pretty much anything other than the children’s menu at a fast food restaurant. That’s because Bush is and has been manifestly radical, incompetent and messianically intent on invading Iraq, and despite the best efforts of reporters and commentators to conform to the Bush as hyper-competent, judicious manly man, it shows. He spends like a drunken sailor, he places cronies in critical management slots, and a mountain of circumstantial and documentary evidence, from O’Neill’s comments to a slew of British memos to Andy Card’s comment about the administration’s marketing effort on the invasion to the embrace of absurdities such as the Niger uranium and the aluminum tubes to, most recently, former CIA official Paul Pillar’s broadside against the administration in Foreign Affairs magazine, that Bush was determined to invade Iraq no matter what.

In Dickerson’s world, though, the attention liberals have paid to those issues has been the product of Bush hating and not observation or analysis. We’re right, you see, but it’s accidental.

I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with the meme that Bush is not really a conservative. To some degree it lets conservatism off the hook and makes Bush’s incompetence, arrogance, and cronyism completely personal. The roots of Bush conservatism surely didn’t grow out of the democratic or libertarian school of governance. As the post at BTC notes, “As more Republicans join the chorus, most of them insiders who have participated in the madness for five years and are now acting purely from an instinct for self preservation…” Whether it was Bush, Rove, or Cheney there was an acknowledgement that the social safety net, largely Medicare and Social Security could not be privatized completely or done away with per conservative doctrine, so they did the next best thing. They made Medicare a windfall for private corporations, and they’ve tried to make Social Security, at least in part a slush fund for Wall Street. Bush has had ample opportunity to rein in ear marks and spending, but what economic up turns we’ve seen in large part have been driven by government spending, with corporate America being one of the biggest recipients. Bush-Rove didn’t turn their backs on conservatism completely, they just bastardized it in a way that at least gave the appearance to some voters that they were compassionate conservatives to win enough votes to eak out election victories..

Something–and this reached him with a pang–that he, John Marcher, hadn’t; the proof of which was precisely John Marcher’s arid end. No passion had ever touched him, for this was what passion meant; he had survived and maundered and pined, but where had been his deep ravage? The extraordinary thing we speak of was the sudden rush of the result of this question. The sight that had just met his eyes named to him, as in letters of quick flame, something he had utterly, insanely missed, and what he had missed made these things a train of fire, made them mark themselves in an anguish of inward throbs. He had seen outside of his life, not learned it within, the way a woman was mourned when she had been loved for herself; such was the force of his conviction of the meaning of the stranger’s face, which still flared for him as a smoky torch. It hadn’t come to him, the knowledge, on the wings of experience; it had brushed him, jostled him, upset him, with the disrespect of chance, the insolence of accident. Now that the illumination had begun, however, it blazed to the zenith, and what he presently stood there gazing at was the sounded void of his life. He gazed, he drew breath, in pain; he turned in his dismay, and, turning, he had before him in sharper incision than ever the open page of his story.

excerpt from The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James