Monthly Archives: July 2006

A Game

From Scout:

Here’s a little magic game for the evening.

Can someone explain to me how this gopher does it?

The Monster We Built

Kevin Sites in Lebanon:

I ask Abbas Kassab who he blames for the bombing and death in Qana, and the answer I receive is similar to what I have heard elsewhere on the streets of Lebanon:

“America,” he says. “Only America.”


“America gave the green light for Israel to do this. Israel can’t shoot one bullet without America’s permission. America is responsible. There are not resistance fighters here. Only kids playing. Even if there were, why would they kill civilians? Let them fight in Bint Jbail where the resistance is. Let Israel go to Bint Jbail and see what they can do.”

Meanwhile, five hours of digging has turned up no new bodies and both the Lebanese Army and the U.N. contingent know they’re running out of time. There’s only an hour of daylight left to dig.

Memo to the halfbright. When I read this stuff, I don’t think, “Oh, how right they are to blame America. I blame America, too.”

I do think this: “How predictable.” Because, of course they blame America. Of course they do. The same way we blame states and all occupants thereof (for all their canting about the poor oppressed Iraqi people, the Freepers turned on the “hadjis” pretty fast once the Iraqis were shown to be, in the Freepers’ eyes, insufficiently grateful for our benevolent bombing) for the actions of residents or natives of that state elsewhere, regardless of agreement or disagreement, or knowledge aforethought, or simple and unfortunate sharing of a last name or a racial characteristic. It’s not like we don’t know how this works, how collective guilt applies, is traced backward, from the bullet that killed a family member to the miners of the lead.

Throughout the president’s “war on terror,” I’ve said this: that it’s not that we wouldn’t enjoy using any number of draconian tactics against our enemies. That’s not the test, whether you think some form of wrath will be effective when applied to those you loathe and despise. The test is whether, in a year or two years or (counting, now, almost exactly five years) you’re comfortable seeing those tactics being used against you and yours, and being unable to protest with any sincere ignorance of how on earth and why do they hate us anyway?

We Americans, in Iraq, Afghanistan, perhaps soon in Iran, we do not differentiate between those who paid for the bombs and those who set the timers. We do not differentiate between those who exhorted hatred and violence and those who did their bidding. We do not differentiate between small children in a nation-state and the leader of that state who declares his enmity for something we value.

These are the rules we invented. I find it hard to believe we didn’t consider that others would play by them. We sit here and at the UN and in Washington and we talk about right and wrong, but I’m talking about inevitability. It doesn’t take a genius to see this is how it goes. This is how it’s always gone.

So how does the devil look, now that he’s turned round on us?


You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide From Running

From Holden:

Via The Mucks, Poor, poor Tom DeLay.

A federal appeals panel indicated today that the ability of Republicans to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Delay on the ballot rests on whether there was “conclusive” evidence that he had moved to Virginia.

The three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals did not indicate when it would rule. But questions from the panel seemed to favor the Democrats’ position that Republican officials could not declare DeLay ineligible for office based on residency prior to election day.

Republican lawyer James Bopp Jr. told the panel that DeLay had given Texas Republican Chairwoman Tina Benkiser enough evidence that she could make a “reasonable prediction” that DeLay would not be a resident of Texas on election day. That evidence included a change of driver’s license and voter registration, plus a letter stating he had moved to Virginia.

Bopp said that gave her the power to declare DeLay ineligible to serve if elected and opened the door for replacing him on the ballot.

But Judges Pete Benavides and Edith Clement noted that a candidate like DeLay could move back to Texas by election day and be eligible for office. They said the U.S. Constitution would prohibit a state party official from throwing a candidate off the ballot in such circumstances.

“How can it be conclusive if you can always change your voter registration,” Clement asked.


At one point, Benavides also quipped: “I lost a campaign for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals when my opponent was in Europe, but he was still a resident of Texas.”

What’s Worse?

From Holden:

What’s worse, the fact that the president doesn’t know when hurricane season ends or the fact that FEMA Director David Paulison thinks that the month of November has 31 days?

Q Can you explain then why the President didn’t seem to know today when the hurricane season was?

DIRECTOR PAULISON: I didn’t get that. I’m sure he knows it’s from June to December.

Q He said it ends in September when we were at the hurricane center, and he had to be corrected that it goes until mid-October, they said.

DIRECTOR PAULISON: I think you may not have heard the whole conversation. What Max Mayfield was showing is that between this particular date and the end of September is when we have 80 percent of our hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 until November 31st (sic). But last year, remember, we had hurricanes all the way into January. So, although hurricane season is six months, 80 percent of our hurricanes come within that three-month block between now and probably the middle of October, I guess, if I saw that chart right. Yes, that’s what Max was trying to show him, that it’s been pretty slow this year so far, but this is the very beginning of our busy season traditionally with hurricanes. And I’m born and raised in Miami so I’m kind of used to that, when we start ducking.

One Answer

From Holden:

To anyone who says lefty bloggers are avoiding discussion of Israel’s war against Lebanon, I say read Froomkin.

And to any left blogger who says that he or she does not have the time to blog Israel’s war on Lebanon because the Iraq war is a bigger issue, and anyway they have far more influence over the conduct of the US in Iraq then they do the conduct of the US’s proxy in Lebanon, I say read Froomkin.

Hagel To The Left of Lieberman

From Holden:

Via Kos, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel knows a quagmire when he sees it.

Calling conditions in Iraq “an absolute replay of Vietnam,” Sen. Chuck Hagel said Friday that the Pentagon is making a mistake by beefing up American forces in Iraq.

U.S. soldiers have become “easy targets” in a country that has descended into “absolute anarchy,” the Nebraska Republican and Vietnam combat veteran said in an interview with The World-Herald.

He said that in the previous 48 hours, he had received three telephone calls from four-star generals who were “beside themselves” over the Pentagon’s reversal of plans to bring tens of thousands of soldiers home this fall.


“That isn’t going to do any good. It’s going to have a worse effect,” Hagel said. “They’re destroying the United States Army.”

Your President Speaks!

From Holden:

It’s hard work resolving the crisis in the Middle Eat:

Last night Jeb and I had some crabs with members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, Dan Marino and his really dynamic wife; TV stars — Andy Garcia, a movie star. We had a fantastic experience.

Dubai Ports World much?

One, it’s clear that the money we’ve been spending to help secure our ports is working. In other words, new technologies — there’s new ways to investigate cargo that gets here. Obviously, there’s more work to be done, but one of the most innovative projects we’ve done, by the way, is to have a — is to use ports of — the disembarkation to inspect cargo, so that the cargo has been inspected before it arrives here.

Your Monday Afternoon Republican Juggernaut Update

From Holden:

Oh, my. The AP somehow* got their mitts on a letter sent to Rep. Kathering Harris way back in May by the Florida Republican Party begging Harris to give up her Senate race and stating that the party will not support her campaing.

The state Republican Party bluntly told Rep. Katherine Harris (news, bio, voting record) that she couldn’t win this fall’s Senate election and that the party wouldn’t support her campaign, a letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press shows.

Party Chairman Carole Jean Jordan made a last-ditch attempt in the confidential May 7 letter to force Harris out of the race for the nomination to challenge Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson (news, bio, voting record). But the next day, Harris turned in paperwork to get her name on the Sept. 5 Republican primary ballot.

The letter came as Gov. Jeb Bush was trying to get state House Speaker Allan Bense into the race. Bense announced later that week that he would not enter the race.


The letter was also signed by national committeewoman Sharon Day and national committeeman Paul Senft.

“Katherine, though it causes us much anguish, we have determined that your campaign faces irreparable damage,” the letter said. “We feel that we have no other choice but to revoke our support.”

“The polls tell us that no matter how you run this race, you will not be successful in beating Bill Nelson, who would otherwise be a vulnerable incumbent if forced to face a stronger candidate,” it said.


The state Republican Party confirmed the letter’s contents Monday. In a statement, Jordan said she was “disappointed” that the private letter had been made public but added that “our concerns about the race and Congresswoman Harris’ campaign still exist.”

*Betcha a pony that one of Harris’ many former campaign operatives gave that letter to the AP.

War Crime

From Holden:

I’d say this makes it official, wouldn’t you?

In a statement released in Beirut Sunday, Human Rights Watch said Sunday’s air strike in the village of Qana was a product of an indiscriminate bombing campaign amounting to a war crime.

The statement calls on the U.N. secretary-general to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law during the conflict.

Terrorist State

From Holden:

Via Juan Cole we learn more about the Israeli terror bombing of Qana.

Even as the rescue team toiled to recover the dead, Israeli jets continued to roar overhead and the thump of air strikes and exploding artillery shells reverberated around the steep valley.

Scratch A Republican…

From Holden:

Follwoing in the hallowed footsteps of Pony Blow, Massachusets Governor Mitt Romney Klans-up the joint.

Governor Mitt Romney yesterday apologized for using the expression “tar baby” — a phrase some consider a racial epithet — among comments he made at a political gathering in Iowa over the weekend.

“The governor was describing a sticky situation,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, the governor’s spokesman. “He was unaware that some people find the term objectionable, and he’s sorry if anyone was offended.”

In his first major political trip out of the state since a ceiling collapse in a Big Dig tunnel killed a Boston woman on July 10, Romney told 200 people at a Republican lunch Saturday about the political risks of his efforts to oversee the project.

“The best thing for me to do politically is stay away from the Big Dig — just get as far away from that tar baby as I possibly can,” he said in answer to a question from the audience.

Still a Miserable Failure

From Holden:

Chimpy remains mired at a 36% approval job in the latest Pew poll, unchanged from June’s rating.

Dead Lebanese Children In My Newspaper

From Holden:

This is a first. I don’t recall ever seeing dead Iraqi children on the front page of my local rag, but the front page of the print edition of today’s Austin American-Statesman features a large color photograph (it takes up the entire area of the page abaove the fold) of a dead Lebanese todler pulled from the wreckage created by Israel’s latest terror-bombing of Qana, Beruit.

Israel now says it will put it’s collective punishment campaign on hold for a while, but check this out:

Israel last night bowed to international pressure and agreed to a 48-hour suspension of aerial activity over southern Lebanon after more than 50 civilians – half of them children – were killed in the deadliest Israeli airstrike so far.

The suspension was announced by US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, who said Israel reserved the right to attack targets if it learns that attacks are being prepared against them.

Mr Ereli also said Israel would co-ordinate with the United Nations to allow a 24-hour period of safe passage for people living in south Lebanon who wanted to leave the region.

That’s right folks, it was an American official who announced Israel’s plans to temporarily stop incinerating Lebanese children. Why is a US State Department official making this announcement and not an Israeli official? Because this is an American war, fought with American planes and American bombs. Those are your tax dollars at work in Southern Lebanon.

Bush faux pas speaks volumes

From Scout:

From Al Kamen at WaPo…..

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), at the White House this spring for a meeting with other senators to discuss immigration with President Bush, was surprised when Bush approached him as the meeting broke up and observed: “Senator Martinez, you’ve been very quiet.”

“That’s Martinez,” Menendez said, pointing to Mel Martinez — Florida’s junior senator and Bush’s former secretary of housing and urban development.

“I’m Menendez.”

Bush turned bright red, we’re told. Seor Mayor?

The White House could not confirm the comment.

Partisan Politics

Off this, from Atrios:

Basically there are people who imagine that there is a supermajority political consensus in this country which is shattered by nasty partisanship from politicians. There’s a belief that fundamental disagreements about how this country should be run come not from voters but from politicians.

I ask you this. And I’m sincerely asking. If you give me numbers I’ll post them. But is there a substantial amount of polling data that actually SAYS Americans are “tired of partisan politics” or “tired of bickering among politicians?” And following up on that, is there any data that says in the last 10 years, the politician perceived as “most biparisan” automatically wins in a landslide? Because otherwise, why are we autowittering on about this bullshit all the time?

Even if there is a poll that shows that, I’m gonna wanna see the questions that were asked, because partisanship is one of those things, like negative campaigning and American Idol, that you say you don’t like in order to make yourself sound like a more high-minded individual. Ask somebody “do you want politicians to cooperate more” and everybody’s gonna say yes. But ask a Republican, “Do you like it when your preferred candidate makes Democrats out to be assraping ax-murderers who eat Christian babies for breakfast while dancing around a virgin sacrifice in a ritual designed to humiliate our troops and give Bin Laden a woody?” and they’re gonna say yes to that, too, and have no idea that there’s a contradiction there. Everybody deplores negative campaigning, says it turns ’em off politics, etc, but then they keep electing the fuckers who fling the most poo during any given balloting period, so fuck Marshall Wittman anyway, with his self-important attempts to rise above it all.

That’s really what it’s about for these “bipartisan” types anyway. They don’t actually want compromise as much as they want to go on the Sunday shows and give interviews about how motherfuckin’ smokin’ fine they are and how all the girlies want them because they can rise above the profession in which they sought employment. I mean, dude. I’ve never understood this attitude. It takes a seriously massive set of cojones to say, “I entered politics to elevate it with my divine presence,” but that’s what we hear all the time, from people like Wittman and Obama and Lieberman and Biden, the “bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake” crowd, the gang of 14. As though they’re being better than politics. As though the job for which they fought like rabid dogs is suddenly so distasteful to them that they can barely choke it down.

I do not elect people because I want them to play nicely with one another. I do not elect people hoping they’ll all have a lovely tea party together and kiss and braid each other’s hair. I elect people to watch out for my interests and if that means they have to say rude things about Bill Frist, that cat-killing wax dummy of himself, guess what? I really don’t fucking care. I wouldn’t have even cared so much about Cheney telling Leahy to go fuck himself if Cheney’s only other notable public statement hadn’t been about how it’s dirty to say “lesbian” in public. We have got to get away from this idea that governing isn’t a job anymore, and that these people’s roles, like those of three-year-olds in day care, are to get along with one another and to feel good about themselves.

If you don’t want to be in politics you should get the fuck out and make room for somebody who does.


Update: Agave in comments provides links to two polls with information about people’s feelings on “bipartisanship.”


Hey Barack

Here’s another idea for a topic next time you want to mouth off about how Democrats need to respect people with moral values:

The program was designed to give all participants a certain level of insurance and to protect elderly and disabled recipients with chronic or catastrophic illnesses from huge prescription expenses. To afford those two goals, Part D’s designers built in an annual period during which individuals have to pay for medicines themselves.

Under a standard plan this first year, Medicare handles 75 percent of drug costs after a deductible until the bill reaches $2,250. It does not kick in again until those costs total $5,100.

It’s been a while since I hauled out my Bible, but I remember there being a lot of stuff in there about caring for widows and orphans, honoring your father and mother, and such. Maybe, instead of giving a strategy dissertation next time, you could talk about the Christian values of a society that charges the elderly penurious prices for their drugs, promises to pay for them, and then leaves them hanging after they thought they were gonna be taken care of. Because personally? I have more respect for somebody who robs a liquor store than I do for people who rip off grandparents.


Rebound Show

So for seven years, The West Wing was my one true TV love, where I’d get excited starting Monday night because it’d be on soon, where I found myself saying to friends, “I’ve never felt this way about TV before,” where we had parties just to watch it so we didn’t waste the next two days of work talking it over.

The breakup was hard, and I’m still not over it completely, there’s still something about sweet Sam Seaborn that twists my heart every time I see him in re-runs. So it’s too soon, and I’m not on board the Matthew Perry love train, but this new show’s catching my eye, and I think it might be the key to finally getting over the one that’s left me:

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC, Mondays, 10 p.m.). Okay, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about this show, Aaron Sorkin’s much ballyhooed return to network television, revolving around a behind-the-scenes look at a “Saturday Night Live”-type show. In fact, this show had so much hype built up around it earlier this year that by the time it showed up at the network upfronts in May, I can’t say that I’m surprised that the critics only received it with lukewarm malaise. But fuck the critics. This pilot isn’t a homerun and, actually, it wasn’t even as compelling as the pilot for “The Nine.” But of the three dramas discussed so far, it’s the one I have the least doubts about.

For example, I have no doubts about the cast. Bradley Whitford, Matthew Perry and Timothy Busfield (whom I’m really excited about) have already steadfastly proven that they can handle Sorkin material fantastically. Sarah Paulson was able to handle “Deadwood,” so I’m pretty sure she can take whatever Sorkin throws at her. And Nate Corddry and D.L. Hughley look like they’ll be solid, although they were relegated to relatively minor parts in the pilot, so one can’t say for sure. The only possible question mark here is Amanda Peet as president of the show’s parent network. I’ve always enjoyed Peet, although that’s largely been for the pure sexist reason that she’s “attainable hot.” She was good in the pilot, but I’m not sure that she necessarily sells “president of a network.” But I probably would’ve had similar concerns about some of the folks on “The West Wing” after that pilot, and they all worked out just fine, so this is a benefit of the doubt situation for me.

As for the substance of the show, it’s pretty much exactly what you would expect, feeling rather like an amalgamation of the weight of “West Wing” and the humor of “Sports Night” (in fact, the similarities to “Sports Night” are made rather vividly obvious early on, since the show’s set necessarily features a studio control room, which was where much of “Sports Night’s” action took place). The timing and pacing of the pilot felt a little off, but I hear there were similar problems with the original “West Wing” pilot, and it’s understandable, as folks are trying to get their grips on things (plus, there’s no doubt that editing plays a big part in making Sorkin’s material work).

The only real problem with the pilot, and a wrinkle which I’m not so sure will get ironed out in the final editing, is the heady seriousness of it all. Sorkin has carried over the weight and seriousness of “The West Wing” even though the substance of this show is considerably lighter. As a result, it feels a little melodramatic and downright preachy at times. I’ll take a little preach, but if the show’s not careful, it’ll implode as a result of its own weight. But “Studio 60” is rife with potential, and if Sorkin and company can find the happy medium here, it could be a real winner. And based on his prior two outings, Sorkin’s given us every reason to believe that he will get the tone and timing right. Even if this show doesn’t soar to “West Wing” heights, I expect it’ll be a worthy successor.

Official site.


Saturday with the Republican Juggernaut

From Holden:

Rep. Katherine Harris’ fourth campaign manager sounds like a peach.

As Ms. Harris is an ardent supporter of Chimpy’s Vanity War I wonder why he isn’t fighting in Iraq?

Katherine Harris’ new campaign manager is an energetic young conservative best known for an anti-gay marriage initiative in Massachusetts and for bringing actor and National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston to speak at his liberal college.

Bryan Rudnick, a member of the Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee, was named her fourth campaign manager on Thursday.

In a statement, Harris said she was “delighted” to have Rudnick on her team, saying he “has over 10 years of experience in Florida politics.”

That seemed to be a bit of a stretch, since Rudnick was a senior at Brandeis University in the spring of 2000. Soon afterward he helped found Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage, a citizen group that attempted to pass a gay marriage ban in the state. He is the president of Alliance Strategies Group in Boca Raton, which describes itself as a political consulting firm.


Some who knew Rudnick’s work in Massachusetts questioned how effective he was there.

“I do not think of him as a particularly skilled organizer,” said Josh Friedes, a longtime board member of the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, which worked against Rudnick’s ballot initiative in 2001 and 2002.

Friedes, who recently relocated to Washington state, described Rudnick as a zealot who appears to think gays and lesbians are inferior, despite Rudnick’s protestations during the petition drive that his motives were pro-family, not anti-gay.

“Actually, I think Bryan Rudnick was one of the best things that ever happened to the civil rights movement in Massachusetts,” Friedes said. “He was so ardent and strident I think what a lot of people saw when they interacted with Bryan and his organization was, they came face to face with hate and bigotry.”

Fruad And Corruption at Condi’s State Department

From Holden:

Yesterday saw the return of the Friday Night Follies, as the Bush Assministration released poltically devastating information on a Friday Eevening.

Somebody will have to go to jail for the fraud and corruption at the Department of State described in today’s New York Times. Democrats need to pick up and campaign on the corruption and mismanagement in Iraq as well as war-profiteering by major US corporations. And this story has all of the ingredients — a sweet deal for Bechtel gets even sweeter when the demand nearly double their contracted payment. State agrees and hides the true cost from Congress. Then when Bechtel falls way behind schedule – inspite of the extra millions – State covers that up as well.

The State Department agency in charge of $1.4 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide ballooning cost overruns on its projects there and knowingly withheld information on schedule delays from Congress, a federal audit released late Friday has found.

The agency hid construction overruns by listing them as overhead or administrative costs, according to the audit, written by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent office that reports to Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department.

Called the United States Agency for International Development, or A.I.D., the agency administers foreign aid projects around the world. It has been working in Iraq on reconstruction since shortly after the 2003 invasion.

Can it get any sweeter? The one of the projects involved was Laura’s pet!

The findings appeared in an audit of a children’s hospital in Basra, but they referred to the wider reconstruction activities of the development agency in Iraq. American and Iraqi officials reported this week that the State Department planned to drop Bechtel, its contractor on that project, as signs of budget and scheduling problems began to surface.


The hospital’s construction budget was $50 million. By April of this year, Bechtel had told the aid agency that because of escalating costs for security and other problems, the project would actually cost $98 million to complete. But in an official report to Congress that month, the agency “was reporting the hospital project cost as $50 million,” the inspector general wrote in his report.

The rest was reclassified as overhead, or “indirect costs.” According to a contracting officer at the agency who was cited in the report, the agency “did not report these costs so it could stay within the $50 million authorization.”

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Mel Has A Problem

From Holden:

The man needs help. HuffPo is where I first saw this account of his DUI arrest and official efforts to cover-up his bizarre behavior once he had been pulled over.

The actor began swearing uncontrollably. Gibson repeatedly said, “My life is f****d.” Law enforcement sources say the deputy, worried that Gibson might become violent, told the actor that he was supposed to cuff him but would not, as long as Gibson cooperated. As the two stood next to the hood of the patrol car, the deputy asked Gibson to get inside. Deputy Mee then walked over to the passenger door and opened it. The report says Gibson then said, “I’m not going to get in your car,” and bolted to his car. The deputy quickly subdued Gibson, cuffed him and put him inside the patrol car.


Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, “You mother f****r. I’m going to f*** you.” The report also says “Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he ‘owns Malibu’ and will spend all of his money to ‘get even’ with me.”

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: “F*****g Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson then asked the deputy, “Are you a Jew?”

The deputy became alarmed as Gibson’s tirade escalated, and called ahead for a sergeant to meet them when they arrived at the station. When they arrived, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?”

A law enforcement source says Gibson then noticed another female sergeant and yelled, “What do you think you’re looking at, sugar tits?”

Continues, Read More…

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