Sunday, April 30, 2006

from your mouth to god’s ear

There is something wonderful in seeing a wrong-headed majority assailed by truth.

Those are the words of John Kenneth Galbraith, who passed yesterday at the age of 97.

JKG was one heck of thinker and one heck of a writer. His ideas were so insightful they now seem cliché. Take, for example, his 1958 book The Affluent Society, as summarized in the New York Times obit:

In it, he depicted a consumer culture gone wild, rich in goods, but poor in the social services that make for community. He argued that America had become so obsessed with overproducing consumer goods that it had increased the perils of both inflation and recession by creating an artificial demand for frivolous or useless products, by encouraging overextension of consumer credit and by emphasizing the private sector at the expense of the public sector.

To me, Galbraith is like the Oscar Wilde of economics—but with better teeth. He was witty, maybe a little arrogant, but never without principle. . . and he probably took hits for all three. At the risk of making this eulogyblog, I have more to say over at capitoilette.

Friday, April 28, 2006

finally, a blowjob

The San Diego Union-Tribune, which just won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Randy “Duke” Cunningham scandal, ain’t resting on its laurels.

The U-Trib, WSJ, Ken Silverstein, TPM Muckraker, georgia10, and kos all report today on a lobbyist-sponsored Capitol Hill prostitution ring operating out of the Watergate Hotel (among others), using a limo service that was subsequently given a huge DHS contract, involving multiple Republican members of Congress (including Duke Cunningham and, possibly, Porter Goss, now head of the CIA), and lasting for, maybe, fifteen years.

And, Silverstein reports, there are pictures!

I’m usually not the biggest fan of schadenfreude, but excuse me while I do a little dance.

little boxes

“Now is not the time to really look at moving organizational boxes." So said Frances F. Townsend, President Bush's domestic security advisor. . . and I can’t believe I agree with him. . . well, sort of.

Townsend is talking about the Federal Emergency Management Agency—specifically, the plan to dismantle, rebuild, and rename FEMA offered up this week by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (D-in-name-CT). Funny enough, Collins said, “Just tweaking the organizational chart will not solve the problem,” which is kind of the same thing that Townsend said, but Townsend was disagreeing with Collins when said his piece.

Funnier still is that I think I disagree with the senators more than I disagree with the White House.

What the hell am I talking about?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

the freedom tower is going to lay there like a lox

Leave it to Governor George Pataki to make Larry Silverstein look good. Silverstein, who New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger called “the tar-baby of developers,” managed to out-play and outlast (yes, it is like a season of Survivor) the inept and feckless New York Governor, and just plain out-frustrate NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg. As a result, Ol’ Greedy Larry has made the “concession” of turning over the development, management, and leasing out of the “Freedom Tower” to the Port Authority and the states of New York and New Jersey—who will now be saddled with the impossible task of making money off of a tower no one wants to look at, let alone inhabit.

Goldberger and New York Review of Books critic Martin Filler had a great discussion on Wednesday with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. In it, they evaluate the crime that Pataki and Silverstein are about to perpetrate on downtown Manhattan, along with the Ratner/Atlantic Yards development/debacle, with an eye toward the ideas of recently deceased urbanist and social philosopher Jane Jacobs (whom I wrote about yesterday, here and here).

Give the radio piece a listen—it’s about half an hour, and it’s pretty right on.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

so now he’s the decisioner?

G-dub introducing Foxy Tony Snow as his new Press Secretary:

My job is to make decisions and his job is to help explain those decisions to the press corps and the American people

Because, clearly, Bush is incapable of explaining them himself.


Sorry I’m just catching this—y’all know I’m not big on the Sunday morning shows. This is Bob Schieffer from Face the Nation:

At my age, nothing much surprises me, but my jaw dropped when I read the FBI has been trying to go through the files of dead columnist Jack Anderson to see if he had any classified documents.

Mind you, Anderson was 83 when he died and did virtually no work for 15 years because of Parkinson's, but the FBI has been pressing his family to get at those files. The family said no.

Dare I state the obvious: that with Osama Bin Laden still on the loose, maybe there are more important things for the FBI to do.

And it happened the same week the CIA fired an agent for hanging out with Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who just won a Pulitzer Prize for revealing the CIA is operating a secret prison system. The Justice Department will decide whether to bring charges.

Almost every day now brings news of another leak investigation, but it's not the leakers, it's what they're leaking that scares me.

After all, why should a democracy be operating secret prisons anyway? If the government hadn't told us they exist, can we ever be sure who might wind up inside them?

Isn't finding out stuff like that what reporters are supposed to do?

. . . .

Can you imagine Katie Couric saying this?

(t.o.t.h. to Bill in Portland Maine)

the death and life of irony

Remember when many proclaimed that 9/11 was the death of irony? Well, let’s just say that I found it ironic that on the same day New York, New Jersey, The Port Authority, and Ol’ Greedy Bastard Larry Silverstein reached a deal on the development of the former World Trade Center site, we were confronted with the passing of Jane Jacobs.

Jacobs, a philosopher/activist/urbanist credited with helping save the West Village, hated the WTC—and, though it is now somewhat sacrilegious to say, she did so with good reason. The egos behind the original World Trade Center arrogantly plowed through the grid and uprooted a mixed-use neighborhood, replacing it with an oversized, underused complex of office spaces with a dreary underground mall and an above-ground plaza that was one of the most unpleasant public spaces in the city.

The WTC was anti-urban, and the new plan for the site seems to share that trait. Instead of true mixed use, we get millions of square feet of office space, some luxury high-rise living, and another shopping center; instead of a welcoming grid of buildings of varying size, we get another “super-block” of office towers, one larger than the next, capped off by the “Freedom Tower” with its stockade-like, pedestrian-hating base. Instead of the organic urban ecosystem, evolved to serve and inspire its residents—a system championed by Jacobs—we are delivered collection of cockamamie compromises and aesthetic affronts, developed to service the bottom line of Silverstein and the laughable presidential aspirations of New York Governor George Pataki.

Add that David “America’s worst living architect” Childs's design for the “Freedom Tower” looks like nothing so much as great big middle finger to the world, and you just know that Jacobs would have been as offended by this building as she was by the Twin Towers. . . one might even say she would have found it ironic.

But Jacobs’s life was about much more than that one development, and I talk about some of that over at capitoilette.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

perhaps the most pathetic thing I’ve ever read about republicans

This is real and not some late April Fools joke—I repeat, this is not parody.

Starting this week, hundreds of young Capitol Hill aides will indulge in an annual rite of spring here by changing out of their business suits and heading over to the National Mall to play in the Congressional Softball League.

Amid all the partisan rancor of congressional politics, the softball league has for 37 years been a rare case of bipartisan civility, an opportunity for Democratic and Republican aides to sneak out of work a bit early and take the field in the name of the lawmaker, committee or federal agency they work for.

This year, the league will be missing something: a lot of the Republicans.

During the off-season, a group of Republican teams seceded from the league after accusing its Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, of running a socialist year-end playoff system that gives below-average teams an unfair chance to win the championship.

The league "is all about Softball Welfare -- aiding the weak by punishing the strong," the pitcher of one Republican team told Mr. Caruso in an email. "The commissioner has a long-standing policy of punishing success and rewarding failure. He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?" read another email, from Gary Mahmoud, the coach of BoehnerLand, a team from the office of Republican Majority Leader John Boehner.

The softball coup is a "reflection of how partisan and Republican this town has really become since Republicans took control," responds Mr. Caruso, a longtime Democratic aide who worked for congressmen in the 1980s and '90s. "Republicans come here and want to bash your head in. And if they don't get their way, they pick up the ball and go home."

As with everything else in life, Baseball serves as the perfect metaphor. (t.o.t.h. to mcjoan and jesselee)

Monday, April 24, 2006

you won’t have Scotty Mac to kick around anymore

My favorite joke about the departure of Scott McClellan came from Bob Garfield on this weekend’s On the Media. Garfield said that McClellan was stepping down from his post as White House Press Secretary in order “to spend more time with the truth.”

What seems to be missing from almost every account of McClellan’s exit is the fact that his mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, is running for Governor of Texas as an Independent against incumbent Republican Governor and Bush lackey Rick Perry. Scotty’s conflict of interest came up in a White House press briefing back in January, but seems to have almost completely disappeared from the national news since.

I’m not saying that the nerve of McClellan’s mother to challenge the Bushian order of things—and Scott’s announced support of his mom—had anything to do with his resignation/ouster/mutual understanding, but let’s just say that McClellan, who currently makes his home in Virginia, now has time to re-establish residency in Texas.

Hey, from what I read, Strayhorn is going to need every vote she can get.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

you just can’t get good help these days

Remember when we used to talk about how the Bush Administration ran such a tight ship and it was virtually impossible to get anyone to talk to anyone off the record or anything like that? Remember?

Well, it is turning out that George & friends has assembled the leakiest administration ever.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in the same manner that landed a lower-level Pentagon official a 12-year prison sentence, the lobbyist's lawyer said Friday.

Prosecutors disputed the claim.

The allegations against Rice came as a federal judge granted a defense request to issue subpoenas sought by the defense for Rice and three other government officials in the trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. The two are former lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who are charged with receiving and disclosing national defense information.

. . . .

The indictment against Rosen and Weissman alleges that three government officials leaked sensitive and sometimes classified national defense information to the two, who subsequently revealed what they learned to the press and to an Israeli government official.

. . . .

[Rosen’s Attorney Abbe] Lowell said it is impossible for Rosen and Weissman to determine what is sensitive national defense information when they are receiving the information from government officials who presumably understand national security law and therefore would not improperly disclose national defense information.

Oh my. How ever is Rice going to fight having to testify under oath? Well, I guess the case could be thrown out of court—as is being considered by US District Judge T.S. Ellis III because the government's entire case is based on a World War I era law that “may be unconstitutionally vague and broad and infringe on freedom of speech.”

But then, what to do about former Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin, who has already
been thrown into jail for leaking to Rosen and Weissman. . . .

All this on a day when the CIA fired a senior career officer, Mary O. McCarthy, for helping expose the agency’s secret overseas gulags. (The leak helped Dana Priest win a Pulitzer for The Washington Post just this week.) My favorite line from the New York Times reporting of this:

The dismissal of Ms. McCarthy provided fresh evidence of the Bush administration's determined efforts to stanch leaks of classified information.

Um, yeah. . . . Hypocrisy, much?

Friday, April 21, 2006

round up the usual suspects

The Bush administration set a single-day record for workplace-enforcement arrests earlier this week, hauling in close to 1,200 immigrant workers. This, of course, made all the evening newscasts, and made the administration look, if only for a moment, like they were the team to beat in the “who is toughest on illegal immigration” bowl.

But something just didn’t seem right. Was this part of an ongoing administration effort to make it tough on illegal workers and the companies that hire them, or was this, as Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) called it, "A photo-op crackdown by [the Bush administration's Homeland Security Department] to prove a political point?"

Gee, I wonder. . . .

I did some checking, and, sure enough, about a month ago, I had read this:

The Bush administration has a dismal record on employer enforcement. In 2003, it made just 443 worksite arrests of the estimated 6 million undocumented workers in the U.S. at that time. Even worse, the administration in 2004 issued only three notices of intent to fine employers for hiring undocumented workers, a drop from 417 in 1999, according to a Government Accountability Report. "Even when employers were caught hiring undocumented workers, the penalties typically have been minor," in part because Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) "often lowers the amount of a fine in negotiations with employers." Richard Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at the GAO, testified last year that worksite enforcement "continues to be a low priority for ICE."

So, surprise to no one, the PR Presidency strikes again, and, while the cameras roll and a thousand or more poor workers are presumed guilty and shipped south, no real leadership will be shown on immigration. And, I’m betting, IFCO Systems, the company that hired this week’s unfortunate immigrants, will continue to function pretty much as it did before the raids (the country needs shipping pallets, after all), and any fines levied will likely be negotiated down—way down—sometime after the November elections.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

what’s best for who (or is it whom)?

President Bush on Rummy and his handling of the Iraq war:

I hear the voices and I read the front page and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

I’m the decider, and I decide what’s best.

‘nuf said.

without Bush, would we even have Pulitzers?

Take a look at who won the Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism this year—and take a look at what they won them for:

  • The staff of The New Orleans Times-Picayune for its coverage of the Katrina disaster and its aftermath.
  • Dana Priest of The Washington Post for her reports on “black site” prisons and other “controversial features” of the government’s counterterrorism program.
  • James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times for their revelations about warrantless domestic spying.
  • Jim Sheeler of the Rocky Mountain News for his story about a Marine major who helps the families of comrades killed in Iraq.
  • Nicholas Kristoff of The New York Times for his commentaries about the genocide in Darfur (and the lack of any real attempt by the administration to put an end to it).
  • Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for his cartoons (like this one; full gallery here).
  • The staff of The Dallas Morning Herald for its “vivid photographs depicting the chaos and pain after Hurricane Katrina engulfed New Orleans.”
  • Todd Heisler of the Rocky Mountain News for his feature photography of Marines who return from Iraq in caskets.

And let us not forget the news “perpetrated” by some of Bush’s comrades in arms. . . .

  • A group of Washington Post reporters for covering the Abramoff scandal, and the staffs of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Copley News Service for their disclosure of the bribes that sent Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham to jail.

And people say the President isn’t generous with the media. . . .

Sunday, April 16, 2006

lucky number seven

Well, it took about 24 hours to go from six to seven retired generals calling for the head of Don Rumsfeld. Of course, considering the size and breed of dog former NATO commander Wesley Clark has in the hunt, it’s kind of a wonder he waited this long.

I believe secretary Rumsfeld hasn't done an adequate job. He should go.

Um, Wes, when you are not the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth guy in the pile on, I really think you’ve gotta come with something a little bigger than “hasn’t done and adequate job.”

But, never you mind, the Pentagon has something to say to you and your band of bothersome brothers. As reported in today’s New York Times, the DoD has spent the time/energy/staff on drafting/issuing/distributing/leaking talking points for our recently retired generals. The memo starts:

U.S. senior military leaders are involved to an unprecedented degree in every decision-making process in the Department of Defense.

Of course, it doesn’t say if that “unprecedented degree” is unprecedented because it is large or small, but I guess we’re supposed to think whatever it is, it’s good.

The fact sheet was sent out to provide people with the facts. We would be doing a disservice to the analysts and the American public if we didn't provide exactly what the facts are.

That was Defense Department spokesman Eric Ruff, and he’s right, how would we know the facts about Iraq if the Bush Administration didn’t leak them?

That said, this ”politically motivated” “charm offensive,” as one general called it (and not in a nice way), is, itself, apparently rather unprecedented:

It is not uncommon for the Pentagon to send such memorandums to this group of officers, whom they consider to be influential in shaping public opinion. But it is unusual for the Pentagon to issue guidance that can be used by retired generals to rebut the arguments of other retired generals.

What’s not unusual (during the last five years) is that a part of our taxpayer-financed government is exhausting resources on public relations rather than policy. Maybe it’s me, but I think Iraq is an all hands on deck situation right now—somebody (Donald) should be a bit more concerned with the record rate of US casualties in the last two weeks. . . .

Wait, this just in, Don of the Dead wants us to think that he does care about what the generals think—and he’s summoned all of them to a photo-op, um, meeting this Tuesday to express their ideas about Iraq. I’m sure that will be as productive a gathering as the January coffee klatch Bush engineered with former Secretaries of State and Defense.

There’s just no substitute for experience. . . assuming you learn from it.

screen grab courtesy of Al Rodgers

Friday, April 14, 2006

subtle little things

Josh Marshall caught Scotty Mac spiking the administration’s official BS about declassification re: Plame-gate during his attempt to justify the administration’s official BS re: the “mobile WMD labs.”

Oh, and, Bush might have lied to the American People about those labs, er, honey wagons, for days or weeks, but he lied to Congress for months or years. . . and then there’s always Dick Cheney. . . .

Harry Reid got in a nice zinger yesterday; Republicans practice how to lie in Spanish.

Five, no, six (hell, by the time you read this, maybe seven) generals have now called for Don of the Dead to step down.

And, ViaTom strikes again. . . or something like that. South Park, make that Peabody Award-winning South Park, was censored again by Comedy Central, this time because SP creators Parker and Stone wanted to depict Mohammed in cartoon form (yeah, that’s a touchy one). Matt and Trey’s response to the censorship: depicting Jesus taking a shit on President Bush and the American flag.

Like Billy Wilder once said, “Make your subtleties obvious.”

scav (or how to waste one whole heck of a lot of time)

Though I’m told that bloggers don’t apologize for light posting, I’m apologizing for light posting. There’s a lot going on (and coming down) around here, and it’s all messin’ with my schedule.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t blown countless hours participating in the Platial scav hunt that I mentioned last week. I found the whole digital photo scavenger hunt part lots of fun. Going around your neighborhood with a long list of mostly absurd items really makes you look at your city in fresh way—hell, it just makes you look, period, and I highly recommend it. The uploading photos and creating map points part was a whole lot less fun (and it wasn’t helped by a site redesign launched hours before the scav hunt’s deadline). . . I guess that says something about me.

Anyway, I still think Platial has great potential for hella cool time-wasting. . . and maybe something more. If you feel like screwing off, yourself, take a look at my Big Apple Scav.

Monday, April 10, 2006


The latest AP/Ipsos poll numbers are in, and here’s what GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio has to say about it:

These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had. The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one.

President Bush’s approval rating has plummeted to 36%, and that’s (theoretically) very good news for the Democrats. For more numbers and more about what I (versus Mr. Fabrizio) think is the good and bad news here, hop on over to capitoilette.

Friday, April 07, 2006

damn, this looks like fun

Platial, a google mash-up that allows you to make a google map of anything, yup anything, is sponsoring a global scavenger hunt. Find it, photograph it, place it on a map. The deadline is 5:30 PDT on April 11th.

Here are some of the things to find and map:

  • A real rabbit
  • A donut
  • Shoes on a wire
  • An outdoor fire (not a match or lighter)
  • Double gap [I have no idea what this is]
  • A stranger’s tattoo
  • A gargoyle
  • Something from the 1980’s
  • Where you were on 9/11/01
  • Calamari

The list goes on (and on).

If I had any kind of active readership here, I’d say let’s start the guy2k Scav team. . . who’s with me?

Yeah, I thought so.

Update: Well, even if you're not with me, I'm doing this!

sung to the tune of “too much to dream”

I had too much to blog last night. . . too much to blog. . . .

I just have to say, censure is sounding so Easy Bake Oven right now. Kids’ stuff, really. A no-brainer (if Democrats weren’t all so worried about that scalding hot 100 watt light bulb!),

Thursday brought us about a half-dozen slam-dunk reasons to impeach President Bush. Let me just link to a few:

  • Of course, there was the revelation that Scooter testified that he was told to leak by the President.
  • Then there is this related item—specifically that, when George Bush was interviewed by the special prosecutor investigating Plame-gate, etc., he expressly denied any knowledge of any leaks or any plan to discredit Joe Wilson, and now Fitzgerald is in possession of e-mails that show Bush was kept up to date on the campaign to smear Ambassador Wilson. That is obstruction of justice, Mr. President. Even though Bush was not under oath when he denied any knowledge, he still misled federal investigators. He obstructed justice.
  • And, then, there is the content of Libby’s leak to Judy Miller and how it was sliced and diced. Libby put the yellowcake story front and center (it was buried in the real NIE) while neglecting to reveal the predominance of contradictory information. It seems plausible that, not only did Bush tell Libby (through Cheney) to leak portions of the NIE, he told him to misrepresent them. (So twisted, I don’t think we have the laws to call this “impeachable,” but we sure can call it “unethical.”)
  • And, Attorney General Abu Gonzales was on Capitol Hill answering questions about his refusal to answer questions about illegal warrantless surveillance. Not only did he restate the administration’s admission that it ignored the FISA statute, broke the law, and spied on American citizens inside the United States—an impeachable offense all by itself—Gonzo also let drop that a) the President reserves the right to spy on wholly domestic conversations without FISA approval, and b) that stories we’ve heard about disputes inside Justice were not actually disputes about the illegal NSA program we know about, but about some other program that Gonzales then refused to discuss further.
(Even perennial Bush defender James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said “How can we discharge our responsibilities if every time we ask a question we are told the answer is classified?”)

God, that’s not even all of it, but I have to go get my two hours of beauty sleep. . . .

just a coincidence?

Thursday’s Nightline started with a fairly competent piece by Jake Tapper on the revelation that Scooter Libby is fingering Cheney and Bush as the source of selective leaks from a classified NIE. It gave background, placed Bush in the center of the storm, gave time to ideas as to why this might not affect much of anything, but kept coming back to the idea that Bush authorized a leak and then spent years going “Golly gosh, who can those leakers be?” I even think I heard Cynthia McFadden tease the piece with the term “leaker-in-chief.”

Of course, Nightline only spent one segment on an issue that would have once caused Ted Koppel to alert the affiliates that tonight’s episode would run a little over. . . . Never mind—that will never happen again.

Anyway, after the first commercial break, Cynthia came back with a piece on Judas—yeah, that Judas. It was a Reader’s Digest-style re-edit of a likely interesting long-form documentary that will air later this week on the National Geographic channel (our voices over another network’s material—“only on Nightline.”). Interesting—not breaking news, not the top story of the day, but interesting.

Anyway, is the juxtaposition lost on anyone? Here, I’ll spell it out again: Tonight, on Nightline, Scooter Libby; Judas.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

who let the terrorist sympathizer in here?

Speaking at a choreographed PR event at the World Affairs Council of Charlotte (nice to know Charlotte is concerned about World Affairs), Bush opened the pre-screened floor to questions. Oops.

A man who identified himself as Harry Taylor rose at a forum here to tell Bush that he's never felt more ashamed of the leadership of his country. He said Bush has asserted his right to tap phone calls without a warrant, to arrest people and hold them without charges and to revoke a woman's right to an abortion, among other things.

. . .

"I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration," Taylor said, standing in a balcony seat and looking down at Bush on stage. "And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself."

Well, one thing is for certain, Harry Taylor is not a member of the establishment media.

my pet scapegoat bites hand that feeds him

Who told Scooter Libby to leak “relevant portions” of the NIE justifying war in Iraq to Judy Miller back in July ’03? Why, according to last night’s filing by Patrick Fitzgerald, it was President George W. Bush.

That’s right, President George “There’s just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is” Bush.

I know, shocked. . . shocked. . . but here it is in black and white. (More from Think Progress, firedoglake, and Murray Waas.)

Of course, the White House (if they dare) will argue that the President has the right to declassify a National Intelligence Estimate if he wants. . . but that didn’t happen till a week or two later. . . this was Libby, at Bush’s direction, selectively leaking parts of the estimate that supported the Administration’s position (there were parts that most certainly did not) to a confederate in the media in order to counter accusations made by Joseph Wilson a few days earlier.

Of course, you’d think the rest of the media would want to know more about this development. You’d think they would want to ask Scott McClellan about this revelation at the morning briefing. You’d think.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

searching for the proper metaphor

He who is without guilt. . . naw!

The fault lies not in the stars. . . nuh-uh.

Déjà vu all over again?

Fox guarding the henhouse?

It takes one to know one?

I know there’s the South Park episode where the parents send all the kids away and build a Great Wall to protect their children from themselves, but I feel like there’s a movie that serves as an even a better metaphor. . . .

More child sex troubles at DHS.

Frank Figueroa, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security’s program to stop child predators (Operation Predator), today pleaded no contest to charges he exposed himself to a 16-year-old girl. According to the victim, “Figueroa pulled up a leg of his shorts, exposed himself and masturbated for about 10 minutes” in front of her.

Or maybe this is the metaphor for just about any staffing decision made by the Bush Administration.

send more Chuck Berry

No accounting for taste, I guess.

Man held as terrorism suspect over punk song

LONDON (Reuters) - British anti-terrorism detectives escorted a man from a plane after a taxi driver had earlier become suspicious when he started singing along to a track by punk band The Clash, police said Wednesday.

Apparently, some taxis over there are now fitted with a place plug in your iPod. (!) The report says the cabbie didn’t care for the Led Zeppelin, either.

(t.o.t.h. to SusanG)

(PS The guy was singing London Calling. I gotta think there are more threatening Clash songs with which to terrorize—London’s Burning? I’m So Bored With the USA?—anybody else wanna weigh in?)

oh, now I get it. . .

Many were confused by the priorities of the Justice Department when it diverted scarce staff and resources to go after internet porn and on-line sex crime. Couldn’t those resources, some thought, be put to better use protecting homeland security?

Well, it seems that spending time and money on internet porn is protecting homeland security—the Department of Homeland Security:

(CBS/AP) Authorities say a deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been arrested on charges of using the Internet to seduce a person he thought was a teenage girl.

Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested at his residence in Maryland on charges of use of a computer to seduce a child and transmission of harmful material to a minor. The charges were issued out of Polk County, Fla.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

John McCain is a condescending asshole

Senator Pander tried to peddle his hokum to organized labor today, but labor wasn’t buying. As Greg Saunders encapsulates the AP story:

Sen. John McCain threatened on Tuesday to cut short a speech to union leaders who booed his immigration views and later challenged his statements on organized labor and the Iraq war.

“If you like, I will leave,” McCain told the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, pivoting briefly from the lectern. He returned to the microphone after the crowd quieted.
. . .

Later, the senator outlined his position on the Senate immigration debate, saying tougher border enforcement must be accompanied by guest-worker provisions that give illegal immigrants a legal path toward citizenship.

Murmurs from the crowd turned to booing. “Pay a decent wage!” one audience member shouted.

“I’ve heard that statement before,” McCain said before threatening to leave.
. . .

But he took more questions, including a pointed one on his immigration plan.

McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain’s job offer.

“I’ll take it!” one man shouted.

McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. “You can’t do it, my friends.”

Some in the crowd said they didn’t appreciate McCain questioning their work ethic.

“I was impressed with his comedy routine and ability to tap dance without music. But I was impressed with nothing else about him,” said John Wasniewski of Milwaukee. “He’s supposed to be Mr. Straight Talk?”

I, like Saunders, have been astounded by how Republicans have embraced the “jobs Americans won’t do” line this time around, but McCain kicks it up a notch by actually putting a dollar figure to the claim. And how out of touch is Senator Just-One-of-the-Guys anyway? For fifty bucks an hour you couldn’t grow enough lettuce to handle the hordes of eager pickers. . . hell, I bet we could say that at fifteen bucks and hour.

(FYI: I got curious, so I did a little googling, and, as best I can figure, at the time of the last government survey in 1998, farm workers earned about $6.18/hour—that’s less than half the average wage for private, non-farm work. If anyone has more recent numbers, or numbers specifically for hand-harvesting lettuce, please let me know.)

photograph by Robert Gumpert

cub forced to grin and bear it

Chicago Cubs skipper Dusty Baker got POTUS’d at yesterday’s season opener in Cincinnati. As described by Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post (via Think Progress), George “I like to pretend I ran a baseball team” Bush made his way into the Cub’s clubhouse, got snarky about the long-suffering Cubbies (“This is the year, right?”), and then grabbed Baker’s hand and held tight while photographers snapped away.

“Dusty Baker, good to know you,” POTUS continued, turning to the cameras. He held the grip and grinned as the cameras snapped away. “Smile,” POTUS encouraged, and Baker complied, saying: “I’ll do what I got to do.

(I was going to add more, but I think Dusty said it all.)

(You know what, I will add one more thing: black pants with a navy jacket? With decision-making like that, no wonder this country is going down the tubes.)

justice DeLay-ed

This just in. . . seriously. Rep. Tom DeLay will resign his House seat rather than face a reelection fight that “appears increasingly unwinnable.”

Since his former Deputy Chief of Staff plead guilty to conspiracy and corruption a few days ago, and put Jack Abramoff squarely in DeLay’s lap, Tom the Bug Man decided to turn tail and run. . . straight for K Street, I’m thinkin’. (Update: Yeah, K Street, that sounds about right.)

Problem is—for the Republican’s, that is—under Texas law, having already won his primary, DeLay can’t be removed from the November ballot unless he is convicted of a felony, moves out of his district, or dies. . . .

I’m starting an office pool on which will come first. . . I just need an office.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Brooks still not gettin' enough

In today’s Tapped, Ezra Klein takes a rip at David Brooks’s weekend New York Times Op-Ed column (it’s “select,” so you know I’m not linking to it!). It’s a piece where Brooks takes some advance team prep documents for the likes of Cheney and Kerry and tortures out a metaphor about how the successful pols have sacrificed the finer, funner things in life in order to pursue their ambitions.

As Klein sums up:

It's all very gracefully written and the column is, in places, piercingly funny. The only problem is the premise: It's simply not true. . . .

In this way, the story is classic Brooks. The thesis is flawed from the start, but the column built upon that cracked foundation is so gracefully constructed, so wonderfully compatible with our own internal biases, that you hardly notice the basement crashing in. The intellectual set that Brooks writes for is, deep down, certain that they could do Kerry or Cheney's job better, and not at all certain why they didn't rise to the same elevated position as the soporific senator or sneering grand vizier. So Brooks gives them a reason: They live too good, love too much, eat too well. Their erogenous zones are bigger than a pea. But even such fully developed pleasure centers are dwarfed by the vast territories devoted to schadenfreude, and this is the territory that David Brooks seeks to conquer.

Oh, so true. Klein’s take backs up an opinion I have had of DB for a long time: he didn’t get invited to the right parties in the ‘60’s (you know, the ones with all that fabled “free love”), and he’s still pissed about it. Every time Brooks opens his mouth or sets pen to paper, the bitterness, insecurity, and defensive rationalizations just come spilling out. It’s so obvious, it’s almost sad.

I say “almost,” because, alas, Brooks has, in his oh-so-BoBo way, gotten his revenge. He gets to dine on his whining practically every day.


At approximately 4pm EDT, the Los Angeles Dodgers begin what has got to be a better season than last year when they take on the Atlanta Braves. About five hours later, UCLA will take on the University of Florida for the NCAA Division I basketball championship.

Not that I want to jinx anything, but I think today is going to be a lot of fun.

if you have something to say, best say it out loud. . . I guess

John Green, executive producer of ABC’s weekend Good Morning America, was suspended for a month without pay after two private e-mails were made public.

In one, a blackberry missive leaked to the Drudge Report, Green thumbed during the first Bush/Kerry debate in 2004, "Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke."

In the other, which appeared Thursday in the New York Post, Green complained that he didn’t want to book former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright because she had “Jew shame.” (Even taking into account Albright’s revealed history, I still gotta say, “huh?”)

Well, on its face, the second seems worse than the first, but in both cases, these were private communications. Has no one else at ABC News, or at any other news outfit, for that matter, ever issued a snarky aside on current events?

Even more perplexing, though, is that Green was punished for expressing an opinion in private, whereas the likes of Terry Moran and Brian Ross (more here) are allowed to mimic RNC talking points on an almost daily basis, in public, during ABC’s “fair and balanced and down the middle“ news programming, as ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider put it.

OK, it’s not that perplexing. Wrong, but not perplexing.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

a million little pieces. . . .

I’m sorry, but hearing Condi Rice essentially brush off the debacle that she and her soul-mate have brought us in Iraq with the admission that “Yes, I know we have made tactical errors, thousands of them,” reminds me so much of James Frey’s empty backpedaling about his memoir actually being a memoir.

Frey’s book lacked credibility, and his apologies lacked sincerity. We can say the same about Condi’s war. The errors were way beyond tactical; the entire strategy was made up out of whole cloth. Like Frey’s "memoir," the Iraq war plan was not reality-based.

As georgia10 points out, the mini-wave of admissions by Bushers that “mistakes were made” here or there are part of a refocused PR strategy, not the product of any deep soul-searching:

It is not enough for the members of the Bush administration to say "whoops!" as if they spilled a glass of milk instead of spilling the blood of heroes in an unnecessary and mismanaged war. It is not enough for the President to have declared "I am responsible" for pre-war intelligence failures, and have the debate end there. Americans have paid for the consequences of those "thousands" of errors, they've paid the price in blood and billions.

Yet for this administration, mistakes have no consequences. Profound errors in judgment are rewarded with medals and lofty appointments, whereas those who sought to prevent those errors are muzzled and relentlessly attacked. And that is why Rice, Rumsfeld, and Bush are so comfortable publicly admitting their failures: there are no political or legal ramifications to their confessions.

Aided by a rubber-stamp Republican Congress that has obliterated any semblance of accountability, this administration has free rein to make mistake after mistake after mistake. They are unfettered by law or by conscience. They are, though, hell-bent on staying this chaotic course and leaving a wake of flag-draped coffins and unbounded deficits behind them. It's easy, you see, to plow forward in failure, when you never have to look back.

Those who bought and read A Million Little Pieces are only out $22.95 and a few days of their lives. Those who bought into the Bush Administration’s war have cost all of us so much more. Over 2,300 have paid with their lives. Frey only had to endure the wrath of Oprah. What will be the punishment for the architects of this bigger charade?

Update: Oh look, Rice doesn’t even have the fortitude and conviction to bullshit with sincerity. Sadly, this is typical administration behavior, too: get the big headline, then “clarify” (AKA take it all back).

Rush and Clarence, sittin’ in a tree. . . .

Thank god there are guys like Jonathan Miller over at Blogoland to listen to Rush Limbaugh so I don’t have to (he also does yeoman’s work on Hugh Hewitt). I say this without a hint of sarcasm. Without Blogoland, I never would have gotten the lowdown on this party:

Yesterday I [Limbaugh] flew the "24" contingent that was at the party down here to Palm Beach. We had a blowout dinner party last night at my house, it ended at three a.m. At 1:30 this morning a bunch of us are out by the pool, and Surnow comes in, “I want some bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches.” We just finished eating at ten o'clock. So we hustled up some bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. Listen to the guest list. I had Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginny, last night...

I know I should be outraged and aghast by Clarence Thomas’s appearance at Rush’s blow-out, but I’ve grown to expect cut-rate inappropriate hobnobbing from this cut-rate Scalia. No, I’m a little more upset by the great fealty felt by 24 creator/producer Joel Surnow to the Ditto Master. Though I stopped watching the show years ago, I’m now embarrassed I ever liked it.