People have been wondering where I've been. All over the place, actually, but my most recent absence has been caused in part because I was in Washington, D.C. chasing down a contribution to Bill Scher's great LiberalOasis Radio Show. He's gone to a new format where he combines his usual top-notch political commentary and interviews with segments from contributors. It's like This American Life on steroids (or participating in Major League baseball).
This week's show includes a podcast I hunted down from Congressman Roy Canunkabunk, the only Blue Dog Democrat in Massachussetts. He's acquired many accolades and been called many things while in Washington, the most recent of which is "a real piece of work." Check it out.
Also on this week's show: Sierra Club's Josh Dorner speaking about a real energy bill that's going to come out of the House, Tom Pappalardo with a very funny and nostalgic piece about 1980s computers, Dianne Bilyak with an interesting take on "Facebook" lists and WHMP's Glenn Johnson reporting from Northampton's Gay Pride day.
The show is broadcast on WHMP every Saturday at 10 a.m., and you can listen, download, or horde it at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
I, like many other Americans, I suppose, just got the text.
Barack has chosen Senator Joseph Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3pm ET on www.BarackObama.com Spread the word!
I was in bed, when I heard the familiar trill of my iPhone announcing the arrival of a text message. It actually woke me up. I was a little angry. Who the hell is texting me at 3:30 in the morning? I get up, which wakes up my wife. What the hell is going on? It's Barack Obama, I tell her. Go back to sleep.
We both like the pick. Say what you want about the choice, it's certainly going to be interesting.
I'm a little late mentioning it, but my good friend Gilbert King just came out with a fascinating book about a poor young man who has the unfortunate distinction of being the only man in American history who was executed twice.
The Execution of Willie Francis, the true story of an African American youth accused of killing a white businessman in a small town in Louisiana, circa 1946, is a riveting, disturbing, and ultimately moving account that says as much about race relations and the American system of justice today as it does about the America in the 40's. Can't recommend it highly enough -- get a copy and read it.
I'm not used to posting real news here -- but everything I post here is at least metaphorically true, so this is really no different, right?
I was just part of a conference call where Joe Wilson announced his endorsement of Hilary Clinton for President. He explained that he has known her for a decade, and that, in his mind, she has an appropriately sophisticated and comprehensively thought-out approach to Iraq that makes him think she has what it takes to resolve that mess. Listening to him, he clearly thinks that she brings more experience, intelligence and toughness to the table on foreign affairs than the other candidates. I'll post links as they become available.
By the way, I asked Ambassador Wilson if he would be interested in serving in some post in the next adminstration -- because so many have admired his stance on Iraq and his outspokenness on the issue -- and he said he was planning on staying to Santa Fe. (He also said that if called on, he would find it hard to say no.)
Updates as they become available.
Update: Some have asked me, "So what?" Short answer: This is a big endorsement in that it is designed (and is likely) to shore up support for Hillary amongst the netroots.
It's worth beating conservatives in fights, because even though conservatives won't know that you've won the fight -- they are poorly acquainted with reality -- other liberals will enjoy your victory and admire you for it.
My chief tactic is sarcasm (are you surprised?), but my friend, Dan Kurtzman, has written an entire book on the subject. Funny and clever, give it a look.
I might suspect Dan plays both sides of the fence, since he has also authored How to Win A Fight With A Liberal, but Dan told me that he loaded this with false information to "throw the conservatives off." I believe him, because when we spoke about it, Dan was wearing a tie-dyed shirt, a "Vote McGovern" button, and had a "Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home" bumpersticker on his leg.
He told me his bag of "Go Reagan!" bumperstickers, and "I Love Rush!" and "Let's Get Rid of Taxes!" buttons is for when he goes undercover.
"Liberalism properly understood is not just consistent with the American idea. Liberalism properly understood is the American idea." -- Mario Cuomo
Most Americans absolutely support liberal values and would like to see them advanced. How then is it that Democrats don't strongly rebut Republican rhetoric and trumpet -- and practice -- liberal values? How did America get steered so far to the right and how can we move it back to where it should be? Bill Scher of LiberalOasis.com has the answers. He's written nothing less than a do-it-yourself guide to saving American democracy.
"Wait! Don't Move to Canada! -- Ten Steps to a Liberal America", released today, is what I believe is the most important book on liberal politics currently in print. With amazing clarity, it details the precise strategy the Democrats need to win back America and save it from years of disastrous Republican policies. Don't let the title fool you -- this a serious and wise book that everyone should read.
Remarkably easy to read, Scher's book methodically lays out the values that liberals embrace and that the Democratic Party has been mysteriously running away from for years. It is the perfect companion to "Crashing the Gate," Markos Moultitsas Zuniga's book on the mechanics of transforming top-down Democratic Party politics into a more democratic and broad-based entity infused and enlivened by the grassroots values. Markos purposefully avoids describing in that book is what those values are. Don't Move to Canada describes those liberal grassroots values and how they can best be articulated.
If the Democratic Party adopted the platform Scher outlines in his book, they would have a chance to remake America as a country that embodies the ideals on which it was founded and which we have come to identify as making America great.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It's very reasonably priced ($8!) so you can buy a bunch of copies and give them out on the street.
Yes, I've been nominated for Most Humorous Blog -- and I'm begging you to go there, scroll down to the bottom, and leave a comment voting for me -- but there's a new kid on the block who will certainly be nominated next year that you should check out. Don Davis, who wrote the wonderful collection of satirical poems, One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State, has started a blog. the Satirical Political Report and it's well worth reading if you need a laugh.
Also, in honor of March Madness, Liberal-Bias hosts its own March Madness competition -- with a bracket that has notorious conservatives and media folk pitted against each other for the championship. This is one tough competition -- but I'm betting Dick Cheney will just shoot anyone who stands between him and the crown.
Dave Johnson, who as creator of the political blog Seeing the Forest has brilliantly chronicled how money, power and media have kept the right ascendant, has now started a coffee (and chocolate) blog. It's called Smelling the Coffee. I can only conclude that he needs to stay awake so that he can do more political blogging.
I'm a little backed up with other writing: but there will be fresh blogging here, soon. In the meantime:
Great 24/7 blogging of the Alito hearing over at Liberal Oasis this week.
Think Progress is, per usual, doing a fine job of fact checking everyone and everything.
Avedon Carol over at The Sideshow reminds us about the little known result of the '"election" in 2000. I don't know how Avedon does it, but she manages to keep up with everything worth knowing in the blogosphere and the news; read her daily.
I've also been reading Doghouse Riley, who does a great recap of Roger Ailes's takedown of Captain Ed and throws in some additional punches.
Speaking of which, you can't go wrong reading all of Roger Ailes.
Update: On the Alito hearing, I should also mention ReddHedd's often funny and always informative blogging at Firedoglake. Her summary of Biden's questioning was dead on.
Further update: Avedon Carol is not just a great blogger, she's a woman. (I knew that.) Post corrected to accurately reflect gender.
I know, I know: weekly, biweekly, I could never figure it all out.
So, on the day after two bills passed -- one bad energy bill the dems successfully sank last session -- and CAFTA -- a bill the Dems should have been able to sink like a submarine with the Titanic in its sights, here we go:
The Poor Man and Digby have something to say about the Democrats' incredible commitment and never-ending resolve to pull out all the stops in fighting for what they believe is right. (It involves a possible lack of testosterone -- or estrogen -- whichever you prefer.)
Jesse Lee over at The Stakeholder tells about how one representative who wanted to vote against CAFTA, but his voting card allegedly didn't work -- and how another who claimed to want to vote against it was at a Boy Scouts meeting. I'll repeat that: a meeting of the Boy Scouts. (The vote was 217-215.) Look at the comments, there, too: I would like to know the names of the 15 democrats who voted for the bill.
Dave Johnson of Seeing The Forest, a liberal who knows more about the history of the Republican Party than many Republicans, is helping Joe Trippi and MSNBC keep their hands on the pulse of the blogosphere during the coming election. Dave is blogging at MSNBC's Hardblogger and will be posting his insights and other bloggers' pearls of wisdom over there throughout their Election Day coverage. I've added Hardblogger to the blogroll so we can keep up with him.
After George W. Bush suffered a nervous breakdown during tonight's debate against John Kerry, television commentators unanimously agreed that Bush had won the debate:
Laying his head upon the podium, Bush began to speak in a soft, high-pitched voice. His microphone was able to pick up questions apparently aimed at his father, former President George H.W. Bush, rather than his opponent. "Daddy. Daddy. Daddy, why don't you love me? " Bush whimpered.
Cokie Roberts, in a post debate roundtable on ABC, stated that such actions "clearly presented a softer, sensitive side" of Bush, "that every man in America will identify with."
Matt Drudge should start packing his bags. (Although -- can there ever be too much GOP propaganda masquerading as "news"?)
Far too long a time has passed since I discovered The Raw Story without talking about it. The Raw Story is a glossy web-based antidote to the poison Drudge spews daily. You can get real news at The Raw Story, and the site is none too hard on the eyes, either.
Perhaps the best thing about the Story is that they report the news that the so-called liberal media doesn't tell you -- like how well Fahrenheit 911 is doing in Texas theaters (North Texas loves it).
They update twice a day, and they're not just links -- they do some of their own reporting. Add it to your bookmarks, your blogroll, and your RSS readers and check it daily.
The American Street is having a hard time of late, from temporaily losing its domain name to a present technical glitch which leaves the entire page bereft of posts. Techies are swarming over the site to correct the problems, but they've been going on for days. In terms of traffic, it's one of the top 100 blogs in the blogosphere, so readers must be frustrated. I contribute something every Saturday over there for "Saturday Stickball," a week's end comedy round-up -- which is pretty good, including material from Ayn Clouter, the ever-excellent Jesus' General, and others. With luck and sweat, the site will be back to normal shortly.
A guy calling himself Victor Littlebear spent a year (!) "translating" into English "The Bushiad and the Idyossey." It is astonishingly good. From the chapter called "Mission Accomplished," a poetic rendition of the reaction of the Bush boys to the fall of Baghdad:
“Good job, boys!” Resolute George exalts,
“That was outstanding!” Huddled
In the war room with his coterie of
Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rove
His cherished chums. “I’d drink
A toast to victory, but as you know I can’t.”
“I’d say the mission is accomplished,”
Hard-Hearted Cheney offers, “Now
To get that Iraqi oil to the market.”
“Hear, hear,” adds Rummy, "Onward to
Halliburton!” and the gang all laughs,
Except for Karl Rove.
* * *
Weeks later on May 1st the carrier
Abe Lincoln idles near San Diego.
Kept offshore for hours to improve
The camera view, the deck canted
To port for the same reason,
The crew awaits a special landing.
INSULT-UPON-INJURY, New York (AP)-- Conservative commentators have induced a "satire crisis" for liberal and progressive bloggers in recent days, producing a stream of remarks so bizarre and unhinged that the blogosphere's sharpest wits are at a loss to respond, according to a statement released today by the newly-formed Association of Flabbergasted Liberals. . . .
The strain has been felt most severely at Tom Burka's site. . .
Boy, does he ever nail it. I'm still gasping like a fish out of water after viewing Rumsfeld's testimony. I was thinking of writing something like this, entitled "Abu Ghraib Scandal Part Of Bizarre PlanTo Make Democrats' Heads Blow Off," but Michael beat me to it.
Mr. Bérubé -- whose name cannot be rendered accurately on the web without some stunning HTML code -- provides some prescient and wholly accurate quotes from an interview with me. Check out the whole thing. It's a must-read.
A Vet was outside Condi's door this morning and heard this:
Rice: Ok, I must have 15 drafts of this stupid speech, where's the latest one?
Speechwriter: Um, here it is..
Rice: "First of all, I'd like to apologize...." No, no, this is NOT my speech.He's got the whole conversation. Check it out. (It's blogspot, so I haven't included a permalink. If this post is not at the top of the page, scroll down to April 7.)
Bush Administration Learns From Its Mistakes (Or Would, If It Made Any)
I'm tired of all this sickening questioning of the Bush Administration's motives and credibility. The people in the White House are simply infallible. Accept it and move on.
When Vice President Dick told Tim Russert yesterday that there were links between al Qaeda and in the planning of 9/11, and that there was some possibility that Mohammed Atta had met with a senior i official, well, people should listen up, or shut up. Thoroughly discredited? Not by anyone we know or care about, thank you.
Colin Powell once again told those nasty know-nothing Frenchmen to go take a hike, especially when they questioned the wisdom of sending their own men to to die and pledging their own hard-won francs (Euros? What are they using over there? Cheese?) to American leadership. I think we can all agree that it's American leadership that got us here today and it's American know-how that's put us in the catbird seat over in . And those French folks should put up, or put up and shut up. Either way, I don't care.
And what about these naysayers who claim we're spending our way into an economic hole? And that financial "disaster" is coming? I'll believe a disaster is on its way when Tom Ridge tells me it is and not before, buckos, and anyone else who wants to pipe up should pipe down.
And so what about that report by David Kay about Saddam's attempts to try to develop programs that could make WMD's? So what if it's not going to come out? It doesn't matter. WMD's had nothing to do with our invading in the first place. Can you people just move on, already?
If you can't get with the program, then just hold your tongues, and let the program drag you along to peace, prosperity, and everlasting happiness. I understand that if we let Bush and finish with their master plan, 23 virgins will wait upon us hand and foot in heaven.
Select Bloggers To Enter Gubernatorial Race In California
Most Also Outed By Senior White House Officials As Covert Operatives of CIA
Nathan of Brain Fertilizer has taken the loss of his CIA cover poorly -- just look at his desperate punning. I really don't know which is more entertaining -- his puns about coffee or his reference to opponent Swarzennegger as "The Running Man."
Bohemian Mama has the woman's vote sewn up. She recently let us know more about how things are falling apart in .
Eric Tam of Antidotal is taking time out from his ridiculously arduous graduate work at Yale (not to mention blogging) to run -- and he might be a shoo-in, given his inside scoop on George Tenet's communications with Dubya.
One of the pleasures of becoming a blogger (besides it's eating up every last scrap of free time) has been getting the chance to know people who are so dedicated to sharing ideas. Fellow bloggers have been incredibly supportive, positive, and welcoming, and the folks above have been among those who have taken me into their community with warmth and comradeship. Thanks.
(BTW: Billmon hasn't discovered me yet, but there's always hope.)
Boy, That Eric Alterman Sure Knows How to Cheer a Guy Up
On March 25, a Eric Alterman wrote (accurately):
The invading force turns out to have been too small.
Homeland security is a joke, and starved for resources.
Oil prices are going sky high and the market had its worse day in six months, during which time it had a lot of bad days.
The first $75 billion is just a downpayment. Expect to pay hundreds of billions in the short-term, trillions in the long run. Expect it to come out of your schools, your police forces, your highways, your future and your childrenÂ’s future
Oh, and then thereÂ’s the rest of the world. Arthur Schlesinger lays it out in NewsweekÂ” and the Los Angeles Times :
Â“Today it is we Americans who live in infamy.Â”
Wil Wheaton has a very funny entry in his weblog. Allegedly written by John Cleese, but certainly written by someone else (Cleese would never use the phrase "wickedly cool") -- I'm told it from Satirewire, which I have to check out -- it is a funny news story I wish I had written myself. It starts:
Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil," Libya, China, and Syria today announced they had formed the "Axis of Just as Evil," which they said would be more evil than that stupid Iran--North Korea axis President Bush warned of in his State of the Union address.
This is entirely seperate from the issue that Wil Wheaton has one of the most popular weblogs in America. Perhaps the world. You have to be a complete Star Trek sci fi geek to know who Wil Wheaton is, by the way. He is perhaps best known as the actor who played young Wesley Crusher on Start Trek:TNG. He claims that he started writing his weblog when a Hooters waitress asked him, "Didn't you used to be an actor?"
Your Attorney Will Now be Required to Turn You In. You'll Be Billed Later.
IsThatLegal?, a weblog that comments on a variety of things -- mostly the American Internment of Japanese during WW II, but really, other stuff too -- that the Patriot Act requires lawyers at real estate closings to
first check a federal database to ascertain whether either seller or buyer is a "Specially Designated National"--that is, a person or entity on a "terrorist list" compiled by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department. And here's the kicker: if seller or buyer is on the list, then the lawyer must (a) report the fact to the federal government, (b) delay the closing, and (c) not tell the client(s) that the lawyer has done (a) and (b).
He goes on to note that:
Two things jump out at me here. First, this is a spot where the reach of the USA PATRIOT Act is just enormous. It affects every single real estate transaction in the nation. From an administration that purports to be concerned about protecting state and local power from the reach of the federal government, this is an extraordinary foray into what has always been understood to be a core matter of state and local concern--transactions in real property.
What else is hiding in the Patriot Act? Who put this in? Was there a lobby (the Background Check Association of America maybe?) that got this slipped in?
Yes, yes. You, too, can be a star. All you have to do is expose the most blatantly stupid and useless security arrangements at the places that need security most and you could win the Stupid Security Competition sponsored by Privacy International. I don't really know what Privacy International does, but if they're for pointing out blatant stupidity that harms us I'm all for them. As they say:
The sensitive and sensible folk at Privacy International have endured enough of this treatment. So until March 15th 2003 we are running an international competition to discover the world's most pointless, intrusive, stupid and self-serving security measures.
See, putting a nameplate on a door or a building that says "Dept. of Homeland Security" doesn't actually make the "homeland" more secure. Most places I go that require security merely have guards stationed at the entrance glancing at bags and asking people to show them photo i.d.'s. Someone should tell somebody that it's not so hard to get a little card with a name and your photo on it these days. Have any of these security guys seen Adobe Photoshop? Adobe Photoshop Lite? Adobe Photoshop Lite for Terrorists (APLT)?