Sunday, December 30, 2007

Past Efforts

Oscar season approaches, whether or not it ends up televised or truncated due to the WGA strike. If you're a film fan who typically gets their hopes up only to have them dashed, this should be an informative reminder of how Best Picture is really Most Picture, and sometimes, What Were They Thinking? Picture.

Black Power

Sorry for the very late post due from yesterday, but I was busy falling in love and awe with this guy.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Closing Argument

Nice speech. Andrew Sullivan has the transcript. Favorite passage:

We can’t afford the same politics of fear that tells Democrats that the only way to look tough on national security is to talk, act, and vote like George Bush Republicans; that invokes 9/11 as a way to scare up votes instead of a challenge that should unite all Americans to defeat our real enemies.

We can’t afford to be so worried about losing the next election that we lose the battles we owe to the next generation.

The real gamble in this election is playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expecting a different result. And that’s a risk we can’t take. Not this year. Not when the stakes are this high.

In this election, it is time to turn the page. In seven days, it is time to stand for change.

Am I mistaken, or is it getting harder and harder not to root for the guy?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Very Bad News

Nothing to joke about in Pakistan with the horrific assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The country is now officially on the brink of massive upheaval or violent repression. If you want to the get best overall view that I've read so far, Prof. Juan Cole once again makes it understandable, especially the background for what's just come home to roost:
Pakistan is important to US security. It is a nuclear power. Its military fostered, then partially turned on the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which have bases in the lawless tribal areas of the northern part of the country. And Pakistan is key to the future of its neighbor, Afghanistan. Pakistan is also a key transit route for any energy pipelines built between Iran or Central Asia and India, and so central to the energy security of the United States.

The military government of Pervez Musharraf was shaken by two big crises in 2007, one urban and one rural. The urban crisis was his interference in the rule of law and his dismissal of the supreme court chief justice...Last June 50,000 protesters came out to defend the supreme court, even though the military had banned rallies.

The rural crisis was the attempt of a Neo-Deobandi cult made up of Pushtuns and Baluch from the north to establish themselves in the heart of the capital, Islamabad, at the Red Mosque seminary. They then attempted to impose rural, puritan values on the cosmopolitan city dwellers. When they kidnapped Chinese acupuncturists, accusing them of prostitution, they went too far....Musharraf ham-fistedly had the military mount a frontal assault on the Red Mosque and its seminary, leaving many dead and his legitimacy in shreds.

U.S.-Pakistan diplomacy now in shambles?

Will President Dick make us invade?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Alberto, We Hardly Knew Ye...

While the official independently judged results of Talking Points Memo's 1st Annual Golden Duke Awards (the "Dukie" is named after keynote resigned, disgraced, and jailed GOP Congressional bribe-taker Randy "Duke Cunningham) will not be announced on the site until December 31st, site founder Josh Marshall weighs in with his hilarious, hilarious choices -- don't miss it.

The video is also Exhibit A on how the leading edge of bloggers are now not only ready for Prime Time, they're the new Prime Time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Xmas from Iraq

Here's the holiday we (us, yes, USA) have wrought upon Iraq for the fifth year running. Surging ahead with the first 25+ killed on this holy day:
At least 25 people were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his truck into a line of Iraqis waiting for cooking gas near a checkpoint outside the Baiji oil refinery in northern Iraq, the police said Tuesday.

Estimates of the death toll varied. The police in Baiji and the Interior Ministry in Baghdad said 25 were killed and 80 wounded, while Col. Dara Ghafour, an Iraqi Army spokesman based in Kirkuk, put the death toll at 29.

Among the dead were children, civilians, members of Iraqi security forces and members of the American-financed armed groups known as the Awakening Council, who were in charge of the nearby checkpoint beside the huge state-owned refinery, Iraqi security officials said.

Then the next 10 or so killed:

In the province of Diyala north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives struck a funeral in the city of Baquba, killing 10 people and wounding five, the U.S. military said. Iraqi police said the blast wounded 21 people and said all casualties were members of the neighborhood patrols.

Police said the funeral was for a father and a son who had worked as armed volunteers with the U.S. military. They had been killed hours earlier in a shootout with U.S. forces. The U.S. military said its troops had killed two "armed individuals," one a patrol member, but was not certain whether that incident was linked to the funeral...

...The blast left a 2-1/2 meter-deep crater in the road, destroyed a guardhouse near the complex and smashed the windows and fronts of nearby apartment buildings. People were digging through the rubble looking for bodies, the photographer said.

Yep, as UPI reported today, it's harder and harder to be a living Christian in post-U.S. invasion Iraq:
Some Iraqi priests estimate as many as two-thirds of the country's Christians -- about 1 million people -- have fled since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The homes and businesses of Christians have been frequent targets of insurgent attacks.

Sacred Heart church in Baghdad attracted 120 people for Christmas Eve Mass Monday, down from 400 in 2005.

"Last year it was full," said parishioner Yusef Hanna. "So many people have left -- gone up north, or out of the country."

I'm just guessing it's a safer choice than staying.

And then there's the front out invasion has opened between Turkey, which CheneyCo could not convince to allow the U.S. to send our military through prior to the 2003 (yes, closing in on six years as of March 19th) U.S. invasion., and northern Iraq a.k.a. Kurdistan:
Turkish planes bombed an area of Iraq near the border with Turkey on Tuesday to attack Kurdish separatists and the army said it had killed at least 150 guerrillas in its air offensive earlier this month.

A Turkish military source said warplanes launched the limited strike on Tuesday after spotting Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas during a reconnaissance flight. He said the strike was smaller than others in recent weeks.

Colonel Hussein Tamar, director of Iraq's border guard command in the northern Kurdish province of Dahuk, said villages near the border were hit but nobody was hurt.

The area was depopulated because residents had fled earlier attacks, he said.

Fleeing away from the border deeper into Iraq, kind of counterintuitive you'd think, but actually makes sense when you think about it. Becomes a mosaic of movement, of fleeing. These peoples here, those peoples there, to-and-fro fleeing.

Ultimately reorganizing -- not only getting rid of Saddam's long rule, but reconfiguring Iraqi society and parts of the surrounding countries based on desperation, violence, slaughter.

Let's hope next year there's a better attempt at Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to All.

We, as a species, have surely done worse, but I'd label this year as naughty, all the wrong kinds of naughty at that.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Just in case anyone missed it, New Hampshire's Concord Monitor has issued a most unusual anti-endorsement, rather than the usual newspaper endorsement, this one against former Massachusetts Governor Willard "Mitt" Romney for the Republican Presidential nomination. The lovely title: "Romney should not be the next president".

Romney's main business experience is as a management consultant, a field in which smart, fast-moving specialists often advise corporations on how to reinvent themselves. His memoir is called Turnaround - the story of his successful rescue of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City - but the most stunning turnaround he has engineered is his own political career.

If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats. If you followed only his campaign for president, you'd swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you're left to wonder if there's anything at all at his core.

The editorial goes on to list Romney's most alarming flip-flops, with the devastating critique:
People can change, and intransigence is not necessarily a virtue. But Romney has yet to explain this particular set of turnarounds in a way that convinces voters they are based on anything other than his own ambition.

As my father occasionally reminded me, you have to be at least a little bit crazy to want to be President. That comes down to unbridled egoism and ambition. Maybe that goes with the territory, but if that's all you've got, then as the editors conclude:

When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state's first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions and see through the baloney. If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it.

Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no.

Regular readers of Nettertainment may recall that we've given our own tongue-in-cheek endorsements to both Mitt and Rudy, as early identified "fatally flawed" candidates (to use Karl Rove's term as he applies it to Hillary). You won't see endorsements for Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee or even John McCain herein, as each is a particular threat should they be nominated. And I've already forgotten that Fred Thompson is in the race. Haven't you?

But as Mitt is the anointed one, who's horrible Mormon explanation speech was attended by both George Bush Sr. and fiendish wife Barbara, and all I can ask the GOP gods is please, please, please nominate Mitt to run against Hillary, Obama, or John next November.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


A valued reader emailed the following to me, which I'm delighted to have permission to reprint in full:

I love Huckabee! He's throwing down the gaunlet to the republiscum bigtime. LordyLordyLordy, FINALLY!!!!!

"They were more than happy for us to come to the rallies and stand in lines for hours to cheer on the candidates, appreciated us putting up the yard signs, going out and putting out the cards on peoples doors and making phone calls to the phone banks and — really appreciated all of our votes. But when they got elected, behind closed doors, they would laugh at us and speak with scorn and derision that we were, as one article I think once said "the easily led." So there's been almost this sort of, it's okay if you guys get a seat on the bus, but don't ever think about telling us where the bus is going to go."

Finally, the complete horseshit that is the Republican party is going to face the music. Dimwit evangelicals finally realize that 28 yrs of votes has gotten them nothing, and dimwit libertarians finally realize that 28 years of votes have gotten them bigger gov't, more gov't intrustion, and criminalization of just about everything.

This is shaping up as a perfect storm for the republican corporate crime syndicate -- there's a real possibility that they might split into three pieces in the next 12 months. (The only one who can reunite them, alas, is Hillary.)

As the old saying goes, "Amen to all that."


Here comes contagion -- courtesy of global warming:
Panic was spreading this August through this tidy village of 2,000 as one person after another fell ill with weeks of high fever, exhaustion and excruciating bone pain, just as most of Italy was enjoying Ferragosto, its most important summer holiday...

...People blamed pollution in the river. They denounced the government. But most of all they blamed recent immigrants from tropical Africa for bringing the pestilence to their sleepy settlement of pastel stucco homes...

...Oddly, the villagers were both right and wrong. After a month of investigation, Italian public health officials discovered that the people of Castiglione di Cervia were, in fact, suffering from a tropical disease, chikungunya, a relative of dengue fever normally found in the Indian Ocean region. But the immigrants spreading the disease were not humans but insects: tiger mosquitoes, who can thrive in a warming Europe.

Aided by global warming and globalization, Castiglione di Cervia has the dubious distinction of playing host to the first outbreak in modern Europe of a disease that had previously been seen only in the tropics.

Think it'll be the last?

Thursday, December 20, 2007


When a Democratic candidate will say anything to get elected it's called a character issue. What about when a Republican lies?
Romney: …And I’m not going to distance myself in any way from my faith. But you can see what I believed and what my family believed by looking at, at our lives. My dad marched with Martin Luther King.

By which he actually meant:

A defensive Romney was peppered with questions today on exactly what he meant when he said -- most recently on Meet the Press -- that he "saw" his father march with Martin Luther King Jr. Recent articles have indicated that his father, the late Michigan Gov. George Romney, didn't march with the civil-rights leader.

Admitting that he didn't see the march with his own eyes, he said, "I 'saw' him in the figurative sense."

"The reference of seeing my father lead in civil rights," he said, "and seeing my father march with Martin Luther King is in the sense of this figurative awareness of and recognition of his leadership."

"I've tried to be as accurate as I can be," he continued, smiling firmly. "If you look at the literature or look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of -- in the sense I've described."

You might have to do this in order to understand that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Not much to say about this, not much good, except that I don't blame the Democratic Party as a whole, I blame Republican intransigents and those Democratic enablers that need to lose primaries to progressive Democratic candidates. The wave has begun, but it would be naive to expect it to take only one election. We need to close the door on the past with lots of progressives in the next one, and a Democratic President, any of them. Then we'll start to see real change.

By the way, here's who didn't cave.

Meanwhile, the White House at the center of all the obstruction is clearly in the mix on the CIA torture tape erasure -- this generation's Watergate Tapes.

We need Dems who can take down such blatantly guilty criminals.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wild Times

There's suddenly a flurry of action at the end of 2008. I can't hope to cover or even tie together on short notice all that's happening in our political America just this week -- two days.

The FISA vote -- Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) has been staunch and articulate on protecting the U.S. Constitution, threatening to filibuster and forcing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to pull the bill from the floor. Dodd has been a total hero, and while I don't know if it will significantly improve his Presidential bid, it makes him the #1 pick for a new, progressive Majority Leader.

Dodd made Orrin Hatch break down into sad nonsense. The bottom line as Ted Kennedy said:
The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retroactive immunity. No immunity, no FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he's willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.

Not so fun to remember that they are still President, even if the Primary Season sometimes makes us forget.

But the really huge decision affecting us all, the one designed by Rupert Murdoch et al with this Republican Administration to control all of the news we receive by television, radio and print all in one market. And if the market, like most, has only one newspaper, guess who's going to control the agenda?

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin cast the deciding vote to allow monopolistic territorial media control by major corporations:

Free Press: FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is ignoring the public will and defying the U.S. Senate. His decision to gut longstanding ownership rules shows once again how the largest media companies — with their campaign contributions and high-powered lobbyists — are corrupting the policymaking process at the expense of local news coverage and independent voices.

“Martin’s FCC relied on slanted research and a rigged process to reach today’s preordained outcome — local media wrapped in a bow for Tribune, News Corp., Gannett and all the rest.

John Kerry's talking about freezing FCC funding in retaliation, not sure how much that will do with the horse already over the gate.

It's clear to me that the only candidate who's just all out declaring themselves the people's warrior to beat back our almost medieval global corporations, get our Constitutional rights and help America save itself. There's things I like about the others, but Edwards is starting to do in Iowa what he's known for doing best: making the strongest closing argument.

Think about it, three lawyers. Can Obama or Hillary do what Edwards did in courtrooms for huge verdicts?

Meanwhile, Blackwater, no joke, shot to death the The New York Times' dog in Iraq, and Ron Paul reveals exquisite literary taste when he calls a spade a spade.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Crocodile Mitt

Having previous made a disgrace of himself and his family by equating his five able-bodied sons working to get him elected President to selfless young American soldiers dying in a war he fervently supports, Mitt Romney has once again open that can of bullshit.

Mitt's been getting misty-eyed in Iowa recalling a run-in with the coffin of a dead soldier in Boston's Logan Airport:
"The soldiers that I was with stood at attention and saluted," Romney told employees at Insight Technology Inc., a company that makes infrared optical equipment for U.S. troops. "And I put my hand on my heart, and tears begin to well in your eyes, as you can imagine in a circumstance like that. I have five boys of my own. I imagined what it would be like to lose a son in a situation like that."

But you won't. In fact, Mitt, the really telling part of your little emotimoment is when you say, "This is a nation which is united."

No, Mitt, not when the rich aren't vested in the very war their class seeks to profit from with the lives of other fellow citizens, without any risk of their own. This is John Edwards' Two Americas. Because only a fool or a liar doesn't recognize exactly how un-united we Americans are these days, save those of us united against the current leadership and it's enabling followers.

So with Giuliani sidelining himself with his infidelity and avarice, that leaves Mitt as the resident liar. The GOP Presidential race appears to be coming down to Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Ron Paul.

Huckabee has the smooth screen presence of a practiced pastor, starting to feel a little snake oily, like here in his confident, Christianist commercial for...Christmas. With emphasis on the Christ.

I give Mike credit for taking the old school, religious, non-materialistic position on Christmas, the one the wingers and their pundits claim we need re-instilled but please don't stop the shopping. On the other hand, this is a seriously chilling signal that Huckabee cannot for a second be trusted to keep church out of state. Is that the message he really wanted to send? And will any more perceptive Christians turn against him for using Christmas as a political tool?

Then there's the old folks club, today featuring John McCain and his latest endorsee, Sen. Joe Lieberdouche. The odious Joe, it turns out, just wanted to be relevant. See, it turns out he didn't endorse a Democratic candidate for President because none of them wanted him.

That leave Ron Paul, who's at about 6% in the national polls, but has a base so fired up by his combination of anti-War Constitutionalism and outright Libertarianism, that he's raising the most impressive stack of money amongst the GOP field. This isn't like Romney propping up his campaign with his own or his family's money. This isn't buying the nomination.

But expect that with such a war chest and such committed supporters, Ron can trail in the early states and still play through to the end.

I was on the Santa Monica Promenade yesterday when a parade of Ron Paul supporters, led by Revolution-drag fife & drum, walked right up the middle, passing out literature, the otherwise normal looking individuals both making me proud to live in a democracy, and scaring me with their with their focus and organization.

It was a signal, once again, that the Ron Paul candidacy could turn out to be the big story of the GOP campaign.

And even if not now, the network going into place will have four more years to position themselves to win it all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


One of Nettertainment's valued readers sent in this link to a funny satire on U.S. currency, after El Presidente Bush declares martial law. All denominations in gallons...

It you're hungry for more Bush battlin' Internet video, enjoy this version of John Lennon's "Merry Xmas War is Over" as sung by, yep, El Presidente himself.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Sandman Cometh

I'm running a little late on this one as Hanukkah ended last Tuesday night, but having been inspired by hearing his 3rd version on the way to work Thursday I can only ask, has there ever been a more Jew-positive anthem than Adam Sandler's "The Hanukkah Song"?

How heartwarming to know that both Kirk and Spock celebrate with my people.

Here's a fan montage of the 1st version, with the great Harrison Ford line. No doubt due to fan-crazed interest, Sandler followed up with this 2nd version ("O.J.Simpson...still not a Jew!"), and this new 3rd version with an, um, climactic line about half-Jewess Jennifer Connolly.

And perhaps he can be forgiven for rhyming "Hanukkah" with the names of both stars of Mister Magorium's Wonder Emporium over the course to two different renditions.

Natalie Portman-ukkah, indeed.

Friday, December 14, 2007


There's an old joke where you ask somebody, "What's the secret to great comedy?" As the person being asked starts to speak, the joke-teller interrupts the answer at just the right (funniest) moment to say, "Timing!"

Lately Sen. Hillary Clinton's has been lousy. She's got front-runneritis, and while it's far too early to count her out, especially with her strong base of blue collar female voter support, that means folks are enjoying seeing her well-polled lead chipping away, especially after her campaign operative's Obama smear. God bless Sen. Clinton for firing that operative by the end of the week, but the incident really came to hurt her in Thursday Democratic debate, the "make-or-break" final one before Caucus Day.

The interviewer fired an unexpected question at Sen. Barak Obama: If he's touting himself as the Agent of Change candidate, how does he justify it with so many ex-Clinton advisors working in his campaign?

You can see the moment he looks like he just might stumble in the clip here. Then comes Hillary's now-famous laughter, and she blurts out, "I'm looking forward to hearing that!"

But it gave Obama exactly what he needed -- a target -- and with a pro's sense of timing he replied:
"Hillary, I'm looking forward to you advising me as well."

She laughs good-naturedly afterwards, but it's hard not to watch the clip without reading in her smart-smart understanding of the moment and its significance. Her laughter is almost like a respectable kudo to the man for shooting it off and so deftly flipping the moment. There's a little bit of crow, and maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I'm thinking we can see that she knows the jig could be up, that this is the next domino in the sequence.

And then the question will become whether she wants it enough. Whether she wants it as much as Obama.

You could understand her wanting it more than Romney or Giuliani or Huckabee on principle. Maybe even measuring herself up against Sen. Joe Biden or Gov. Bill Richardson. Maybe even John Edwards, since she's the corporation-friendly version of his Two Americas position.

But I'm just wondering if she sees the sense in his candidacy, our national need to cleanse our palate and he obvious fitness for that role, especially as he proves his judgment-over-experience position in golden moments like these. Young, smart, charismatic ad-libs like we haven't had since JFK.

Now touting herself as the candidate who will never surprise you (not kidding -- and maybe we actually looking for a pleasant surprise rather than mechanical campaigning or governing.

The desperation, the desperate need to somehow flip any kind of momentum back her way, seems on full display in this moment from an unusual press conference today, wherein she reveals her personal apology to Barak Obama over the smear:
"I wonder if you would take the opportunity to say that a candidate's indiscretions as a teenager should not be an issue on which voters should make there decision?"

Clinton replied, "Well I apologized to Senator Obama yesterday. It's certainly not an issue in my campaign. And I said that to Senator Obama."

Just from the text it appears she isn't agreeing with the questioners, not that she has to, but she clearly has the decency to go woman-to-man with Sen. Obama, and it feels like the right and decent move to me. And watching it you can see she deals with the question in a firm and businesslike way.

What feels weird about the resolution isn't so much what it says about Sen. Clinton's personal prejudice -- she doesn't seem to be -- but what it says about her campaign. Has it gotten out of her control? Is her chief strategist, the union-busting Mark Penn, behind this whole smear, as he perhaps inadvertently seems on this train-wreck of an appearance on Hardball? Will he be gone the day after she loses in Iowa? New Hampshire? South Carolina? Next Wednesday?

In the video from her press conference, she looks rattled. I'm sure internal polling happened continuously from when this story broke, I'm sure she knows this is hemorrhaging her vaunted African-American support, and it feels like we're watching a press conference from deep into an Administration, hers, year two or three, if it goes at all like the last few, i.e. contentious and wearing. Not what we're looking for right now And while I give her props for putting herself out there and taking her licks, she looks worn (imagine the past 24 sleepless hours) and, much worse, for the first time I can remember, she looks scared.

It must be tough after convincing yourself of your inevitability, surrounded by so many people making the same bet on you, to get that first fatalistic glimmer that it might not happen.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Unlike "Clinton Derangement Syndrome" suffered by rightwingers, aversion to, dislike or outright hatred of George W. Bush Jr. is actually rational, because that man actually hates humanity. Why else would he:

- Veto a child health bill.

- Threaten to veto a bill outlawing torture by our American government.

- Be the sole impediment to progress in combating global ecological cataclysm.

How to beat back the bastards Presidents Cheney and Bush?

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) has a simple, effective, logical solution.

By the way, here's where you send the world a message.

Here's our fantasy President, bringing the house down.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has been forthright in his autobiography about his mid-teen drug use and his regrets over that abuse. It's not a story in his run for the Democratic Presidential nomination...unless his leading rival for that nomination, or her highly placed advocates, decide to resurrect the story for flagrant and desperate use against him:

A co-chairman of Mrs. Clinton’s national and New Hampshire campaigns, William Shaheen, raised the question in an interview with The Washington Post. He said voters should study Mr. Obama’s background as they chose a candidate, warning that Republicans would scour for new details about a period of Mr. Obama’s life more than 20 years ago when he admitted using marijuana and cocaine.

According to The Post’s Web site, Mr. Shaheen said, “It’ll be: ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’ There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It’s hard to overcome.”

This is not some slightly connected wannabe. This is her national campaign co-chairman! So while the Clinton campaign has disavowed the remarks (while not condemning them) and Shaheen himself has apologized, it's cold comfort. Per BarbinMD on DailyKos, it looks like the sign of a deep problem -- and not in the Obama campaign:
So, the comments were not authorized or condoned, but then again, they weren't condemned, were they? And will Billy Shaheen, who is no political innocent, pay any price for his comments? Or was this a directed hit from a floundering campaign?

What's going on with the much-vaunted Clinton Presidential election machine? Is it rot at the top?:
On the eve of the final Iowa debate before the Jan. 3 caucuses, Clinton campaign insiders are increasingly questioning the cautious, poll-driven approach taken by Mark Penn, Hillary Rodham Clinton's top political aide, sources familiar with the situation say.

With Clinton barely holding her own against Barack Obama and John Edwards in Iowa, dissatisfaction is growing with Penn, who some say has mistakenly run Clinton as a de facto incumbent.

"There are two people who have come up with this strategy -- one Hillary Clinton and one Mark Penn," said a top Clinton ally, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Mark wanted to run her, basically, for re-election, and we are seeing what happened."

If she does not come in first in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, expect a campaign shake-up.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign responds in a rather devastating fashion:
“Hillary Clinton said attacking other Democrats is the ‘fun part’ of this campaign, and now she’s moved from Barack Obama’s kindergarten years to his teenage years in an increasingly desperate effort to slow her slide in the polls. Senator Clinton’s campaign is recycling old news that Barack Obama has been candid about in a book he wrote years ago, and he’s talked about the lessons he’s learned from these mistakes with young people all across the country. He plans on winning this campaign by focusing on the issues that actually matter to the American people."

I'm not saying I'm for one or the other, and at this point am still most in agreement with former Sen. John Edwards. However, for those arguing that Obama most represents change, this is great fodder.

Shaheen and, if involved, any other leadership from the Clinton campaign behind him, have taken a page from the Karl Rove playbook, albeit clumsy in execution. Americans, and Democrats above all, are starving for change.

Based on the series of attacks by her campaign this past week or so, it's hard to see how Clinton brings it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


More outrageous horrors of the Cheney/Bush-style Iraq War, from a subsidiary of Cheney's Halliburton as visited upon a very courageous Jamie Leigh Jones:

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.

The part of me that is not surprised is the part that believes a private "war services" firm like KBR is going to attract brutal men because those are the only ones who will go into a war zone and risk their lives (whereas the actual U.S. Armed Forces attracts young people looking to better themselves or selflessly serve their country).

The part of me that is shocked wants to see legal and political vengeance against KBR, Halliburton, former Halliburton CEO Richard Bruce Cheney, the perpetrators, enablers and cover-up management.

But what's likely to happen?

Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.

Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

"It's very troubling," said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. "The way the law presently stands, I would say that they don't have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity for justice."

Congressman Poe says neither the departments of State nor Justice will give him answers on the status of the Jones investigation.

That leaves the civil courts, where the victim has sued. But:
Jones' former employer doesn't want this case to see the inside of a civil courtroom.

KBR has moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.

In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a judge and jury.

Her employment contract. Did it cover rape by fellow employees and imprisonment by management?

Lawless bastards, bottom to top. As MissLaura says on DailyKos in her appropriately incensed diary:

It takes a special something, it seems to me, to say "we don't want to be held accountable for the gang-rape of this woman we employ. Hey, let's lock her up under armed guard without food and water." What was the end game there? Was the intent to let her out once they'd broken her and she wasn't going to report it? Did they even have a plan? And this, mind you, wasn't a matter of the rapists themselves trying to cover up their actions. This was a decision made by someone high up enough in the company to assign guards to a damn storage container.

This is what the government of our country has bought and paid for.

God help this all lead to the end of the GOP practice of contracting out those duties our official armed forces have traditionally handled in order to make shareholders happy and damned be any morality that gets in the way.

As for Ms. Jones, she's acting like a true brave American, having started a foundation to help women like her abused in military or private military situations, and speaking out:
"There needs to be a voice out there that really pushed for change," she said. "I'd like to be that voice."

May she take all the bad guys down.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two Candidates

Here's a fascinating contrast between two candidates on the Republican side of the Presidential nomination ledger. One is Rudy Giuliani, possible frontrunner, the other Ron Paul, bane of their existence.

Ex-Mayor Rudy spent the last week being mauled by his history of using NYC cops to protect his mistress. He went on Meet the Press ostensibly for damage control, but appears to have only dug his hole deeper. Maybe the most damning aspect of the interview was his propensity to giggle in response to Tim Russert's toughest questions, as if channeling Hillary Clinton's round of Sunday talk shows earlier this season. Check out the incredibly odd TPM compilation here.

On the other hand, Rep. Ron Paul gave a rather illuminating ABC News interview where he candidly responded to a range of morality-based questioning with a firm, even rational libertarian (small "l") philosophy. As Paul has said, while he is certainly flawed, the philosophy isn't, and will have its day.

Hard to disbelieve him watching this.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Religiously yours

I'm starting to think America is in the midst of more than just a religious battle. The massive contradictions of mass religious belief has led America to a full-blown nervous breakdown.

Witness Colorado over this past weekend:
Three people were shot to death and six were wounded in Colorado on Sunday in two church-related shootings in the U.S. Christian heartland...

The second one has 7,000 people in the megachurch when the shooting happened. A security guild finished off the gunman. The first shooting happened at a Christian missionary training center seventy miles away, with the gunman escaping, so it's reasonable to bet that the incidents might be related and rather chilling to suspect they might not.

It seemed about time for the violence to reach the megachurches, situated as they are in the heartland where gun control is weakest. So many people in one place. Centers of community, therefore natural gravitation points.

Oddly enough, the first incident was sparked by the refusal to house a stranger, which some might consider an un-Christian act:

In the Arvada shooting, a young man came to the door of the Youth With a Mission dormitory asking for a place to stay, the group said in a statement.

When he was told he could not be accommodated there, he pulled out a handgun and opened fire. Two youth staffers were killed and two were wounded. They had been up late cleaning up after a Christmas party.

The mission is an international and interdenominational Christian organization that trains young people to work as missionaries.

As to the site of the second attack:
The New Life Church was founded 20 years ago by pastor Ted Haggard who resigned in disgrace a year ago after admitting to sexually immoral conduct following a friendship with a male prostitute.

Now, I don't want to imply that the churches brought these terrors upon themselves. Maybe a more pious person might believe that those very infractions, the inhospitality and the homosexuality, marked these organizations for God's wrath or Satan's messenger. Joseph and Mary didn't open up on all those innkeepers who told them sorry, all rooms already booked. It just seems that religion is on the front burner, poised to boil over.

The early Presidential race, particularly the GOP preach-off, has put it there. You've got Mitt Romney asking to be included among like-thinking Jesus worshippers, and Mike Huckabee acting like his God is finally giving him props.

Romney's speech prompted lefty Dem Lawrence O'Donnell to go nuclear on the Mormon religion -- something he helps portray on HBO's Big Love -- this morning on the McLaughlin Group:
This was the worst political speech of my lifetime. Because this man stood there and said to you "this is the faith of my fathers." And you, and none of these commentators who liked this speech realized that the faith of his fathers is a racist faith. As of 1978 it was an officially racist faith, and for political convenience in 1978 it switched. And it said "OK, black people can be in this church." He believes, if he believes the faith of his fathers, that black people are black because in heaven they turned away from God, in this demented, Scientology-like notion of what was going on in heaven before the creation of the earth.

Whether or not you agree with O'Donnell or his own righteous fervor, it's a wild clip, as each other other commentators (Buchanan, Crowley, Clift, John himself) descend into anarchic contention, professional pundits suddenly made incredibly uncomfortable and not having the time to settle back into their usual bullshit. O'Donnell's the bomb thrower and everyone allows themselves to get blown up, over and over until saved by sponsor.

And whether or not you agree with O'Donnell, the big issue he's igniting is whether recent religions are actually synthetic monsters, not worthy of being spoken of in the same breath as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, uh, Islam. Is Scientology a religion, or a collection of extremely misguided believers in kooky myths built by con men? Is Mormonism the same, just with a century and a half headstart?

Do any of their faithful have a place in the highest seat of American political power?

Is that even safe?

Even Conservative pundit George F. Will has a problem with Mike Huckabee, per this generally derogatory bunch on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. (Cokie Roberts: "You're getting back to the same problem, the Republicans don't have a candidate, that's your problem!") And Huckabee is looking a little less lovable after revelations of the past week, a rapist/murderer released for political reasons, and sticking to his 1992 position on quarantining AIDS sufferers.

The Catholic Church, which had it's breakdown over the past decade, is still recovering, awkwardly.

If you take O'Donnell's assault on the founding and beliefs of relatively recently minted religions to their natural philosophical conclusion, all religions are built on unprovable supernatural beliefs, hence all strict believers are too nuts to be President.

This is why the Romneys, Huckabees and, yes, Bushes of the world should be embracing the separation of church & state. Imagine that a Mormon hater gets in, uses Cheney-era precedents to wiretap Romney, rendition his sorry ass, and torture him with impunity. It's good to be king, but nobody gets to be king forever.

And if you take the questions O'Donnell sparks all the way down the line, one might ask, is religion itself the Root of All Evil?

Or, as George Carlin so hilariously reveals, religion is...well...why is God so bad with money?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Xmas at Billy's

We came with the crusaders
To save the Holy Land
It's Christmas in Fallujah
And no one gives a damn

I'll be damned if the Piano Man hasn't written the best mass market antiwar song of the Iraq generation. And I mean that in a good way. Per the above lyric from Billy Joel's brand new song, "Christmas in Fallujah," he not taking a very intellectual view of the proceedings, just a street smart one with just enough sense of history. And Joel had the remarkable good sense to assign the singing to a young troubadour, fellow Long Islander Cass Dillon, 21 years old, i.e. soldier age:

At 58, Joel felt he was too old to sing the song, which was inspired by letters the Piano Man received from soldiers in Iraq. So he gave it to Cass Dillon, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Long Island.

"I thought it should be somebody young, about a soldier's age," Joel said in a statement on his Web site. "I wanted to help somebody else's career. I've had plenty of hits. I've had plenty of airplay. I've had my time in the sun. I think it's time for somebody else, maybe, to benefit from my own experience."

The clips of seen of their December 1st world premiere performance of the new number onstage in Chicago are both great, this one with the better angle and lyrics printing across the screen for maximum comprehension and sing-a-long, this other one with Joel's terrific introduction and better sound. I've even seen a fan version which I won't inflict upon you, dear valued reader. But even with the rather ingratiating synth hook repeating too much for my taste and the corny soldier chorus line, I'm on my fifth listen.

Why so gratifying? I guess it feels like when you've lost Billy Joel, you've lost America. He's made a conscious decision to put himself up against the GOP-rightwing media attack machine. Can you wait to see the clips from Fox News commentators? What are they going to do, say he doesn't really get letters from soldier?

The audience in Chicago goes nuts because Joel isn't saying anything that isn't true. Simple truths that everybody knows by now:
They say Osama's in the mountains
Deep in a cave near Pakistan
But there's a sea of blood in Baghdad
A sea of oil in the sand

Between the Tigris and Euphrates
Another day comes to an end
It’s Christmas In Fallujah
Peace on earth goodwill to men

The last line of that verse is as sardonic as it gets. It's over for these criminals, in the eyes of the public. Just start indicting them.

With any luck, their Party won't survive into the next decade.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Last Man Standing

When I first arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1990's I went to one of those first-lesson-free nights of a stand-up comedy workshop. The coach was a funny enough woman, mid-40's, who asked all the new prospects to write down the name of their favorite comedian.

At first I found the question incredibly difficult. I've loved everyone from Richard Pryor to the Smothers Brothers to Jackie Gleason and George Carlin, even Totie Fields (anyone?). As a kid I enjoyed Alan King and Robert Klein as well, later Steve Martin, Mort Sahl, Dick Gregory...the list was broad, but no one who first came to mind seemed like "the one."

Then I remembered Rickles.

Having watched the John Landis-directed HBO special, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project earlier this week, I've been scouring YouTube for both classic and recent clips. As said in the show, at 81 years old, Don Rickles is the last man standing from the Rat Pack era, the age of mob-controlled Vegas (and they were the better bosses, according to some of the interviewees), the time of a particular showbiz firmament that all seemed to revolve around the twin poles of Frank Sinatra and Johnny Carson. But of all the comedians of that era, Rickles was the one who was so obviously the least canned.

That made him special. Fueled by his coiled body of energy and brilliant playing with the line between funny insult and plainly offensive, he was known for his adlib abilities above all. He wasn't so much a stand-up act as maybe a stand-up act stripped of all jokes, save those directed at hecklers. It was as if Rickles decided not to wait for your heckles -- he just started laying into you pre-emptively.

By "you" I mean anyone in the audience lucky enough to be selected by him and highlighted for their ethnicity, physical appearance, or reaction to him. Or celebrity, which as the special explains became a right of passage; you hadn't really made it in Hollywood unless you were insulted by Rickles at one of his shows.

The special also reminded me how great a character actor Don was, with standout performances especially in armed forces roles, from Run Silent Run Deep (with Gable and Lancaster) to Kelly's Heroes (with Eastwood and Savalas, and where he met then-young gofer Landis). And there's a (typically) great interview with Toy Story director John Lasseter all about Don turning into Mr. Potatohead in their very first meeting. With the clip of him-as-toy saying, "What're you lookin' at, you hockey puck?" to what is revealed as an actual hockey puck. The ultimate tribute to his act.

But the best thing about the Landis doc is Don's act, shot back in March in Las Vegas. Sure, his body's spread out and he walks with a touch of that old guy stoop, he still has the ability to send an audience, and me on the couch, into paroxysms of laughter. Making fun of a Japanese American guy ("I spent three years in the jungle looking for your father.") or a heavy guy or just a guy who doesn't move his chair fast enough as Rickles nimbly navigates the audience, you can't imagine it'll really be funny, but there you are. Instead of being insultingly racist it comes off as satire of some prevalent attitude or stereotype that you realize Rickles in no way shares. It's the precursor to Borat, to Sarah Silverman, to the Andy Kaufman wrestling period, what back in it's day was the only comparable high-wire act at that level of show business success. And until the act gets to the more sentimental stuff about his life, towards the very end, Rickles never seems as old as he is. His secret really is his spontaneity -- and his speed. He's still as fast as a younger audience. We're still waiting for him to drop his next bombshell of insensitive irreverence.

When I revealed my choice to the comedy instructor, she greeted it with a sort of put-down, "you can't really mean that" reaction. As if, "Oh, really, you would name that man as your...favorite?" That was, of course, when she lost me as a student. My favorite comedian growing up, the only one who consistently lit up all of my bumpers, spinners and rollovers, was too transgressive for her.

There have been meaner comedians since then and maybe that's what different times call for, but as Rickles spells it out, he's never really mean because he doesn't mean a word of it. It's a neat trick of rhetoric -- there's the safety net of knowing Rickles offstage really is Mr. Warmth, but it's still biting enough to be funny.

It's Rickles exposing our prejudices to light baldly but stripped of preaching. As anyone knows who has ever tried to relate one of Rickles' bits to someone who didn't see it, maybe by trying to imitate Don's delivery, it's a fool's quest. You end up sounding like the hockey puck all alone in the room. It works because its him.

Here's to the last man standing. Buy his book, go see him on tour. As you realize when he goes over who's died on the photo wall in his study, it's shocking the guy is still alive. But he's never really lost his connection with the contemporary audience, never went out of style, he's not even in the kind of sea-change career comeback that George Burns had in his later years, after having been invisible for over a decade.

Rickles is still the real deal.

Most of all, Rickles is still funny.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Smells Like

Smells like...fascism:
The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.

They fucking documented their perverse shit. Imagine the evil of being in the moment, pumped up on absolute physical power over another human being, one you had dehumanized, on a righteousness I.V. The psychology of the torturer and the torturers' boss and bosses above them all the way up, and now imagine the cameraman. Was it a boss, another torturer, an analyst, a vidtech who could be trusted?

What's the level of immorality on the videographer(s) of American's Least Constitutional Home Tortures?

Other strands of odor in that evil scent include a President who feels not only does he never has to tell the truth, he never has to acknowledge it. All that matters is his power. Screw all of you:

It was interesting watching George Bush's NIE press conference all the way through...

...The more significant and interesting aspect is when Bush has no choice but to attend to the question. In a face-the-music type of session like this one, we can not only observe the customary squinting, grimacing and laughing, but during the more blunt and direct challenges, we can also witness the less usual swaying; the facial tics (typically consisting of snorting, sniffing and tight pursed lips pulling to one side of the face); and even beyond that, the brief, otherwise nonsensical, somewhat crazed, staring-slightly-into-space looking glance...

...I have no idea how many shots AFP photographer Mandel Ngan had to take to isolate the one above, but it captures Bush exactly in one of those "can't tolerate reality -- especially when it's in my face" kind of moments.

In episodes like these, in spite of his insistence about feeling untroubled, you can see Bush's shield actually gives way for an instant, and there is trouble all over the place.

Trouble all over the place.

Smells like kingly fascism when someone experience good fortune in the political realm, someone pretending to the ultimate political throne -- over the past day Rev. and Former Gov. Mike Huckabee -- confuses it with some sort of Almighty throne:

On the one hand, one could claim that he is pandering to the audience (i.e., Evangelical college students at Liberty University). On the other, the claim essentially amounts to: “God wants me to be President” or it is a manifestation of a political “name it and claim it” theology wherein God is somehow required to answer affirmatively if prayer is sufficiently earnest...

...Huckabee is talking very much like a Southern Baptist minister in this clip, as there is a basic belief in the church that whatever happens, happens because it is God’s will–or, at a minimum, that God directly intervenes in these matters, especially when prayerful consideration is applied...

Back in Medieval Times and almost anywhere that a king has ruled by decree, there's been a fascism blessing by the church or even the king taking over, becoming head of the church (Henry). The underpinning always was that the domination of other humans was, at the top of the power pyramid, ordained personally by God.

It's a traditional kind of might makes religious right. Or today, Religious Right.

Witness Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a practicing Mormon and former bishop and stake president in his church who just made a speech that his partisans (no doubt encouraged by his campaign) are comparing to John F. Kennedy's landmark speech regarding his Catholicism to Houston Baptist ministers in the 1960 election.

Only problem is, JFK's speech was a massive advocacy for America's once staunch and rigid separation of church and state. Romney's speech is a blatant call for religious control of the Presidency, only he's desperately trying to get himself and his church lumped in with mainstream U.S. Christianity. So all those goddamned GOP religious conservatives will vote for him -- and damn the U.S. Constitution:

Mr. Romney tried to cloak himself in the memory of John F. Kennedy, who had to defend his Catholicism in the 1960 campaign. But Mr. Kennedy had the moral courage to do so in front of an audience of Southern Baptist leaders and to declare: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

Mr. Romney did not even come close to that in his speech, at the George Bush Presidential Library in Texas, before a carefully selected crowd. And in his speech, he courted the most religiously intolerant sector of American political life by buying into the myths at the heart of the “cultural war,” so eagerly embraced by the extreme right.

Mr. Romney filled his speech with the first myth — that the nation’s founders, rather than seeking to protect all faiths, sought to imbue the United States with Christian orthodoxy...

...The founders were indeed religious men, as Mr. Romney said. But they understood the difference between celebrating religious faith as a virtue, and imposing a particular doctrine, or even religion in general, on everyone. As Mr. Meacham put it, they knew that “many if not most believed, yet none must.”...

...That is why they wrote in Article VI that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

And yet, religious testing has gained strength in the last few elections. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, has made it the cornerstone of his campaign. John McCain, another Republican who struggles to win over the religious right, calls America “a Christian nation.”

CNN, shockingly, required the candidates at the recent Republican debate to answer a videotaped question from a voter holding a Christian edition of the Bible, who said: “How you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book? Specifically, this book that I am holding in my hand, do you believe this book?”

Compare the two Presidential candidates, separated, it's so horrible to see for yourself, by so much more than 48 years.

Romneyvideo, per Crooks and Liars:
...It was a hodgepodge of religious dogma that told the American people nothing about his religion except—you can’t have freedom without religion—or something like that…

As Scarce noted in an email:

The real killer line (and ominous) is his

It’s as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

Christian Conservative red meat.

And Kennedy's landmark, turning point speech, video via Andrew Sullivan and transcript from the JFK Presidential Library and Museum:
"But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured--perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again--not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me--but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him."

I'm guessing Rep. Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate who might actually say in a speech that no church or church school should be "granted any public funds." That's the cornerstone of the Party and Administration's mob boss strategy.

Oh, that and telling your parishioners how to vote.

Yep, the front-line of the political war in America today isn't between Liberal and Conservative. It's between a traditionally secular or currently Christianist Presidency, one which since January 20, 2001 has smelled like you-know-what.

Because so far all a Christianist Presidency has given us disaster.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Looks like there's a bit of a tizz in the legendary New York Public Library regarding some Photoshopped prints being displayed:
Each black-and-white digital print is a mug shot-style diptych in which a member of the Bush administration appears in profile and face forward, holding a police identification sign and the date on which he or she made a statement of questionable veracity relating to Iraq.

A video accompanying the prints allows you to hear an actual recording through headphones as you view each speaker’s fake mug shot reproduced on screen. President Bush announces the discovery of Saddam Hussein’s effort to purchase uranium in Africa. Dick Cheney says, “Nobody has produced a single shred of evidence that there’s anything wrong or inappropriate here,” presumably a reference to Halliburton.

Sometimes we forget that they are criminals. But then there are reminders like this by civic-minded artists. In fact, the criminality is on the new daily. Like what TPM calls our Bamboozeler-in-Chief, pretending that the NIE report revealing that Iran is not a nuclear threat does not matter. That nothing has changed. Or his henchmen illegally deleting over 10 million incriminating emails. Or his closest aides in Contempt of Congress.

What about the new crop of GOP pretenders to da throne? They have problems with illegal immigrant workers as well as setting other criminals free for political reasons, allowing them to kill again:

While on the campaign trail, Huckabee has claimed that he supported the 1999 release of Wayne Dumond because, at the time, he had no good reason to believe that the man represented a further threat to the public. Thanks to Huckabee's intervention, conducted in concert with a right-wing tabloid campaign on Dumond's behalf, Dumond was let out of prison 25 years before his sentence would have ended.

"There's nothing any of us could ever do," Huckabee said Sunday on CNN when asked to reflect on the horrific outcome caused by the prisoner's release. "None of us could've predicted what [Dumond] could've done when he got out."

But the confidential files obtained by the Huffington Post show that Huckabee was provided letters from several women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond and who indeed predicted that he would rape again - and perhaps murder - if released.

The political reason for the release: rabid Arkansas GOP hatred of Bill Clinton:

The case for Dumond's innocence was championed in Arkansas by Jay Cole, a Baptist minister and radio host who was a close friend of the Huckabee family. It also became a cause for New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy, who repeatedly argued for Dumond's release, calling his conviction "a travesty of justice." On Sept. 21, 1999, Dunleavy wrote a column headlined "Clinton's Biggest Crime - Left Innocent Man In Jail For 14 Years":

"Dumond, now 52, was given conditional parole yesterday in Arkansas after having being sentenced to 50 years in jail for the rape of Clinton's cousin," Dunleavy wrote. "That rape never happened."

A subsequent Dunleavy column quoted Huckabee saying: "There is grave doubt to the circumstances of this reported crime."

The result:

After Dumond's release from prison in September 1999, he moved to Smithville, Missouri, where he raped and suffocated to death a 39-year-old woman named Carol Sue Shields. Dumond was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for that rape and murder.

But Dumond's arrest for those crimes in June 2001 came too late for 23-year-old Sara Andrasek of Platte County, Missouri. Dumond allegedly raped and murdered her just one day before his arrest for raping and murdering Shields. Prior to the attack, Andrasek and her husband had learned that she was pregnant with their first child.

Bye-bye, Rev. Mike?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Get a Life

Or, more properly, get a sense of humor:
The creators of the hit film "Borat" were sued again on Tuesday, this time by a driving instructor seen in the comedy admonishing the fake Kazakh reporter for yelling insults at other drivers...

...Psenicska said he was paid $500 in cash to give Borat a driving lesson. He described the experience as "surreal," saying Cohen drove erratically down residential streets, drank alcohol and yelled to a female pedestrian he would pay her $10 for "sexy time."

The lawsuit seeks $400,000 in actual damages and additional punitive damages for misleading Psenicska and for emotional harm he continues to suffer. Psenicska said if he had known the true nature of the film, he never would have participated.

The only way to comprehend Psenicska's sour grapes lawsuit is that he wants to be compensated at something higher than a SAG dayplayer rate, and $500 is clearly way too low. Maybe he thinks he should get points on the picture, which has grossed something like $330 million in theatrical and DVD sales. Maybe it's not enough for him that he's got a great-to-tell-the-grandchildren role in an iconic cultural movie. Maybe he's just hoping for some out of court settlement dough, bigger presents for the family at Xmas.

I'm not sure if any of the other Borat lawsuits have paid off at all, and at least one was thrown out of court. There's the society Alabamans embarrassed at the racism Sacha Baron Cohen revealed with his highwire act. There's the two drunken fratboys who also revealed their, yep, racism. There's the nation of Kazakhstan.

Bonafide pranksters are only successful when their prank reveals something otherwise hidden or let pass unquestioned by society. Alan Abel is the demigod of this, with a lifetime of socially revealing pranks on his resume. But he never had a simple performance as extended as Cohen's -- or, for that matter, Stephen Colbert's. With Colbert, by now, everyone knows it's a put on, but his genius is doing it night-after-night, to the point where you're double-thinking his performance in the interviews.

Cohen's blatant success is surely the reason why he's getting the record number of lawsuits.

But to everyone trying to get paid or even clear this self-sullied names, the comedian took his final bow, the curtain has closed and the audience has left the theater.

Get a life.

Monday, December 03, 2007


This was always Bush's fatal flaw, the whole Administration's.

They lie. It's how they're built. Every time George W. Bush moves his lips, a lie slips out.
A new assessment by American intelligence agencies released Monday concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting a judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.

And they keep circulating the liars back through, even the foolish ones.
Nearly three years after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as deputy Defense secretary and six months after his stormy departure as president of the World Bank—amid allegations that he improperly awarded a raise to his girlfriend—he's in line to return to public service. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters.

It's all on video here with MSN's Countdown, including Bush three months ago escalating rhetoric to WWIII. When he must have known of this report.

What is left of Bush/Cheney's previously shattered credibility? Not even the shards? It'll come clear that they've known this for at least a year. Maybe Cheney or John Bolton will try to start the war anyway, just fire something into Iran. Are these suckers whipped, or instead ready to push the button if only to justify their position. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm guessing that this came out because of Poppy's mole, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. So if the Democratic sweep in 2006 did anything, it got rid of Donald Rumsfeld and maybe saved the Republican.

As Josh Marshall so correctly summarizes:
But it shows us once again, for anyone who needed showing, that everything this administration says on national security matters should be considered presumptively not only false, but actually the opposite of what is in fact true, until clear evidence to the contrary becomes available. They're big liars. And actually being serious about the country's security means doing everything possible to limit the amount of damage they can do over the next fourteen months while they still control the US military and the rest of the nation's foreign policy apparatus.

If only the bigger the lie, the bigger the damnation.

But come January 20, 2008, watch Junior skate.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More Fun

Treat yourself to various striking genre writers imagining different solutions for the strike based on their particular practices.

In a similar vein, and I mean that literally, are the horror writers with their "exorcism" held on line last week. The "Out, demons, out!" chant is the highlight.

On another front, there's this fake campaign commercial for how Rudy Giuliani can turn a negative into a positive: it's all about security. Nice coda.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Good Fun

Frank Rich asks "Who's Afraid of Barack Obama?":

The Washington wisdom about Mr. Obama has often been just as wrong as that about Mrs. Clinton. We kept being told he was making rookie mistakes and offering voters wispy idealistic sentiments rather than the real beef of policy. But what the Beltway mistook for gaffes often was the policy.

Mr. Obama’s much-derided readiness to talk promptly and directly to the leaders of Iran and Syria, for instance, was a clear alternative, agree with it or not, to Mrs. Clinton’s same-old Foggy Bottom platitudes on the subject. His supposedly reckless pledge to chase down Osama bin Laden and his gang in Pakistan, without Pakistani permission if necessary, was a pointed rebuke of both Mrs. Clinton’s and President Bush’s misplaced fealty to our terrorist-enabling “ally,” Pervez Musharraf. Like Mr. Obama’s prescient Iraq speech of 2002, his open acknowledgment of the Pakistan president’s slipperiness turned out to be ahead of the curve.

Then there's Jackie and Dunlap's pretty funny redneck take on this week's GOP debate. Favorite line:
"And Romney got a question on black on black crime, his area of expertise..."

Oh, and the Cheney/Bush Administration wants to slash anti-terror grant programs to major cities, like NYC, in half.

Ha, ha, terrorist threat.