Thursday, June 28, 2007

Distractions abound . . . . .

but I'll be back with regularity soon . . . . .

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Well, If You Don't Have Anything Good to Say . . . .

The May 25 Quarterly Report on news coverage by the Project for Excellence in Journalism ("PEJ") reveals that Fox Noise viewers received less information about the Iraq War than did viewers of any other cable news program. (We already knew that Fox Noise viewers were the least informed overall.)

Now, we learn that, according a PEJ study of over 17,000 stories aired or published in the media during the first quarter of the year, Fox Noise viewers received about half the information on Iraq that viewers of CNN or MSNBC received.

The study tells us that, among the three cable news television outlets, coverage of Iraq accounted for about 28% of the news aired on CNN and MSNBC. Over at Fox Noise, their under-informed devotees got about half that -- 15%. But, the Noise channel had to fill that information gap with something. So, the Noise viewers will likely be pleased to know that they received more coverage of Anna Nicole Smith than anyone else in the cable universe. (In fact, Fox Noise gave its fans exactly twice as much coverage of the dead celebrity than the average of CNN and MSNBC.)

More interesting than the gross figures, is the breakdown of the nature of the Iraq coverage. PEJ coded the Iraq news as reports on the policy debate, on events on the ground in Iraq, and homefront coverage.

Overall, the policy debate over the Iraq war accounted for about 12% of the 17,000+ stories reviewed from all media sources (including newspapers, radio, network and cable news). This was more than the combined coverage given to events on the ground and homefront impacts of the war.

Considering that the policy debate on Iraq is just about the most important national debate we have had in at least a decade, covering it seems appropriate regardless where one's seat on the political spectrum may be. On cable news, Fox's coverage of the policy debate was exactly half that provided by the other cable news outlets. One-Half!

This is what happens when a news outlet abandons any semblance of impartiality and invests itself in the outcome of the events that it covers (we examined this from a local perspective last fall in "Trashing the First Amendment"). The Noise ownership and staff were cheerleaders for war and, now that things have gone even worse than most expected, they are eager to fill their time with non-news such as the Anna Nicole Smith nonsense.

Fox Noise defends itself by claiming that they publish a more balanced perspective -- producing more so-called "positive" stories on Iraq than negative. I'm not sure in what universe 3500 dead American kids, tens of thousands maimed American boys and girls, hundreds of thousands dead and maimed Iraqi civilians, and millions of Iraqi forced to leave their homes, produce many positive stories, but so be it.

That doesn't answer why the tiny comparative coverage of the policy debate. The Noise Channel gave about the same amount of time to events on the ground in Iraq as its competition -- it is in the coverage of the policy debate that Noise viewers are the least informed.

After pimping the war and promising rose petals at the feet of Americans, when the shit storm happened, Fox Noise simply retreated, pretending it was all okay.

Calling this travesty a news organization fouls the water.

Monday, June 11, 2007


While I blow off the rest of this gorgeous day, recommended by my friend, comedian Liam McEneaney, a video vignette from his friend, comedian Andres du Bouchet:

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Scooter Doesn't Meet the Criteria

There are well-established criteria for the consideration of executive clemency, and Scooter Libby doesn't meet them. (But then again, there were well-established standards for the use of force against a foreign sovereign, and Iraq didn't meet those.) The established rules appear to take Scooter out of the running for various reasons.

One of the first things which the guidelines say to take into consideration are the opinions of the United States Attorney who prosecuted the case, and the judge who sentenced the applicant. The rules say thatthose opinions should be weighted heavily. From the Department of Justice guidelines for the consideration of clemency petitions:

"The Pardon Attorney routinely requests the United States Attorney in the district of conviction to provide comments and recommendations on clemency cases . . . .The views of the United States Attorney are given considerable weight in determining what recommendations the Department should make to the President. . . . The Pardon Attorney also routinely requests the United States Attorney to solicit the views and recommendation of the sentencing judge."

Since the sentencing judge followed the recommendation of the prosecuting attorney on the sentence, I'm guessing that neither of them will make a favorable recommendation on any clemency petition.

The rules generally do not anticipate that clemency would be granted immediately after conviction. Instead, they favor waiting to see evidence of rehabilitation, among other things.

Again, from the DOJ guidelines: "In general, a pardon is granted on the basis of the petitioner's demonstrated good conduct for a substantial period of time after conviction and service of sentence. . . . The Department's regulations require a petitioner to wait a period of at least five years after conviction or release from confinement (whichever is later) before filing a pardon application (28 C.F.R. § 1.2)."

Perhaps a word about terminology is here appropriate. "Executive Clemency" refers to the President's power to, among other things, commute a sentence or to pardon (and thus restore all legal privileges) someone for a crime for which they have already been punished. Until Scooter actually finishes serving his sentence, he would be looking for commutation, not a pardon. The language in the immediately prior paragraph about waiting five years comes from the section of the guidelines dealing with pardons.

In that section (on pardons), Scooter's application would be fried -- pardons are not granted unless there is an acceptance of guilt (that was Gerald Ford's argument on the Nixon pardon, remember?): "The extent to which a petitioner has accepted responsibility for his or her criminal conduct and made restitution to its victims are important considerations. A petitioner should be genuinely desirous of forgiveness rather than vindication."

Similar considerations are at play in considering requests for commutation. Indeed, the guidelines strongly discourage even accepting applications from people who dispute their conviction or who are appealing their case: "Requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence. Nor are commutation requests generally accepted from persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences through appeal or other court proceeding."

Commutation is very rare, and the guidelines recognize that: "Generally, commutation of sentence is an extraordinary remedy that is rarely granted."

The Department of Justice guidelines point out that the rationale for granting a commutation of a sentence is usually pretty limited, and the only one arguably applicable to Scooter would appear to be "undue severity" of the sentence. But, under the guidelines, one doesn't even reach that point until Scooter admits, shows remorse, and has served a portion of the sentence.

The guidelines, keep in mind, are just that -- they are, in effect, a collection of the well established principles followed over much of the last couple of hundred years. Having more force are the regulations governing the submission of clemency petitions.

And they provide, among other things, that before Scooter could even make application and thus put the White House in the position of having to decide, he'd have to drop all of his appeals: "No petition for commutation of sentence, including remission of fine, should be filed if other forms of judicial or administrative relief are available, except upon a showing of exceptional circumstances."

But, as I suggested above, this is a White House which has acted from the start as if the rules don't apply to them . . . . indeed, they acted that way before the start (Florida) . . . . and it is entirely consistent with the assumed privilege and lack of accountability which characterize everything this cabal of criminals has done since stealing the office, that they will exit on a similarly ungraceful note, once again shoving their privilege up the ass of law, propriety, and civil expectation.

Carney on the Defensive

The day that Republican Democratic freshman Representative Chris Carney defeated long-time Congressman Don "sumtimes ya just wanna strangle the bitch" Sherwood, the Repugs began drawing up plans to regain the seat lost as a result of Sherwood's family values.

The pretend reporter from the pretend newspaper, penned a remarkably uninformative think piece on the subject a couple of weeks ago, which Gort took up.

Now, Wilkesberry's me-too wannabeanewspaper has taken up the story.

Unfortunately, what happens when you get pretend reporters, working for pretend newspapers, is columns of comments by people like (the appropriately-named) Harold Flack, spouting absurdly false Repug talking points without challenge.

Flack and other two-bit self-designated pundits, are endlessly quoted in the Wilkesberry Time Sleezer tying Carney to Pelosi and liberal Democratic politics. As Gort pointed out, Carney is no friend of liberals and even a pretend reporter should have been able to at least ask these Repugs hacks a few questions to force them to back up their comments with something that real reporters call "facts".

As Down With Tyranny points out, Carney lied -- outright lied -- about his support for extending hate crimes legislation to violence based on sexual orientation. Those lies included one from Carney's hyphenated spokesmouth to yours truly during the campaign. Asked directly about Carney's position on gay rights, Drew Eldredge-Martin gave me this Carney quote: "I believe in equal rights for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We should be working with and supporting all who have loving, healthy relationships, not pulling them apart." Then, on taking office, he promptly voted against the very legislation he said that he would support.

Don Sherwood's character was clearly defective and he deserved the boot. But, what does it say about one's character when one outright lies to gain support? We never expected Carney to vote for traditional Democratic principles -- we knew he was a Dem in name only -- but we did expect him to support those things that he said he would support. When he didn't, his true character was revealed.

It would be nice to keep the seat Dem. But Carney will have to do it without my help.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Here we go . . . .

This was presaged the other day.

Reports out of the private Turkish news agency Cihan are that 50,000 Turkish troops invaded Iraq today, targeting Kurdish rebel forces in 11 provinces in Northern Iraq. Meanwhile, a Belgian news agency reportedly "confirmed" that Turkey was bombing Kurd guerilla strongholds in Northern Iraq.

Simultaneously, Turkey's foreign minister defended Turkey's right to act militarily against the Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

This afternoon, the AP reported the incursion, while regular Kurdish spokemen, as well as Iraqi and Turkish officials, were denying the reports.

But if it didn't happen today -- it will and, when it does, ka-boom. (More knowledgeable commentators have suggested that, if the invasion was only rumor, it could be the result of conflicts between the Turkish military and civilian leadership.)

Rudy the Monger

Not only did Rudy Giuliani say that, even with everything we know now, it was still a good idea to invade Iraq, but also that he wants to re-tool the American military to become a nation-building force.

Let those thoughts sink in a moment.

With everything we know today, Rudy would still conduct a war of aggression against Iraq.

And what do we know today?

We know that there was no connection between Saddam and 9-11.

We know that Iraq's army was a paper tiger and that his pretense of weaponry was his last line of defense against neighbors none-too happy to have him on the block.

We know that there were no storehouses of chemical or biological weapons.

We know that the mobile weapons factories were a lie.

We know that Saddam was about 1,000 years from nuclear weaponry.

We know that nearly 3500 American kids are dead, tens of thousands grievously wounded, hundreds of thousands innocent Iraq civilians dead, millions of Iraqis are refugees, and one million of Iraq's brightest, most successful citizens have fled the country.

We know that the invasion ignited the sectarian violence and civil war just busting to get loosed.

We know that American influence and reputation has taken a serious blow that could take generations to heal.

We know that we have served up the recruiting posters for every two-bit terrorist cell in every oppressed and disadvantaged area in the world.

We know that we are less safe today than when this madness began.

Yet, Rudy thinks it was all a swell idea.

And I haven't even had the stomach to address the nation-building part of Rudy's absurd world view.

(Image Credit: Blue Tide Rising)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Oh, I Hope He Does

Bush is just stupid and arrogant enough to throw Scooter a pardon . . . . and if he does he'll suffer a shit storm that will make the Abu Gonzales debacle look like a slam dunk. Kind of neat how the sentence will end at about the same time that BushCo is relegated to the trash heap, ain't it?

Oh, When You Put it THAT Way

. . . . it's still bullshit.

When a politician says something incredibly stupid, offensive and just plain ugly, they have three choices. They can deny saying it, they can claim it was taken out of context, or they can apologize, profusely. Two of those three alternatives assure that their absurd comment will continue to live on and that their reputation for candor will take a hit.

Arkansas Republican chief Dennis Milligan doesn't get it. The other day he said that, to reverse GOP fortunes, "what we need" is another 9/11 attack. We asked him about it and, well, he didn't take door number three.

We contacted the Arkansas Republican Party and asked about their new leader's comment:

"I [ABFS] am wondering if Mr. Milligan's statement, that 'we need some attacks on American soil like we had on [9/11', is something that the Arkansas GOP would like to reject or if they are endorsing their new leader's 'strategy' for a return to GOP dominance?"

Bill Smith, editor of the official Arkansas Republican Party Blog, was kind enough to talk to Mr. Milligan and get back to us with the official Arkansas Repug position:

"Dear Big Flat Slob (what a pseudonym and blog photo){yeah, we get that a lot}, We talked with Mr. Milligan. It appears the referenced comment was taken out of context by the writer of the article. Milligan was trying to express his support both for the President, as commander-in-chief, and for the support for the troops. He made the remark trying to highlight this support for the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform fighting overseas in response to our government (including Congress) decision to do so!"

It was taken out of context? In what possible context could "all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001]" be okay?

Mr. Milligan, what you said was stupid and offensive. Instead of blaming the reporter, take responsibility. Oh, I know that George Bush has never taken responsibility for any of the stupid things he's said, or, worse, done, but modeling yourself after a politician who has lost the support of every sane person in America is not a prescription for success.

(We have invited the reporter who wrote the article to respond to Mr. Milligan's claim that the report was misleading.)

(By the way, we are still waiting for the Huckabee campaign to respond to our similar request for comment on Mr. Milligan's desire for another attack.)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Row, Jimmy, Row

Last February, Jimmy Carter took body blows from the right-wing media (I know, it's redundant), for saying that there never was an exit plan for Iraq because the neocon game plan called for a permanent occupation in Iraq serving as our base of power in the middle east.

The bases we are building there are the largest we would have anywhere in the world. Airstrips a mile long to accommodate the largest military craft. The largest embassy compound of any nation any where.

What Jimmy Carter was saying was that every time President Bush said that American troops would be in Iraq as long as it took to get the job done and not a moment longer, Bush was lying.

Bush lied?

Imagine that.

On May 26, the New York Times reported that Bush was looking to the Korean example as a way to keep a military presence in Iraq for a moment or too longer than it takes to get the job done: "[T]he proposals being developed envision a far smaller but long-term American presence, centering on three or four large bases around Iraq. Mr. Bush has told recent visitors to the White House that he was seeking a model similar to the American presence in South Korea."

A few days ago, more of the truth began to dribble out. Tony Snow, answering Helen Thomas's inquiry at the gaggle, confirmed that the cabal was planning on a continuing American military presence in Iraq on the so-called "Korean Model".

A few days later, on June 1, General Gates confirmed that President Bush favored a "Korean Model" for the future of Iraq -- one in which the American military will "have a long and enduring presence" in Iraq.

One might recall here the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group on this topic:

RECOMMENDATION 22: The President should state that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. If the Iraqi government were to request a temporary base or bases, then the U.S. government could consider that request as it would in the case of any other government.

The establishment of a permanent US presence in Iraq is not something that just happened to occur to these neocon incompetents over the last couple of weeks. It is a policy long in the planning. It is a policy which can do no good to our already decomposing reputation in the region and in the sane world. It is a plan long and stealthily carried on, obscured by the incessant promises to stand down when they stand up.

And, despite that I always knew better, I still get annoyed, disappointed, and mad as hell each time it is confirmed that the President has been lying to me all along.

That's the way it's been in town ever since they tore the juke box down . . . . Seems a common way to go . . . .

So, Jimmy was right -- he didn't lie to us.

If you think things are bad now

Just you wait.

GOP Leader Hoping for More 9/11-Type Attacks

This is the perverse mindset encouraged by this current cabal of criminals.

The new head of the Republican Party in Arkansas is Dennis Milligan. Unanimously selected at the end of May, Milligan appears to be one hell of a strategist. His big idea for a return to Republican dominance in national affairs?

Hope for another 9/11.

Milligan sat down for an interview with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, where he shared his strategy: "At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001 ], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country."

As stunningly vapid as that comment was, what struck your agape correspondent at least as much was that the reporter and editors saw nothing remarkable about Milligan's hope for another massacre on American soil -- they stuck his prescription for GOP success at the end of the article.

Imagine, just guess, what the reaction would be if, in response to Blitzer's insipid question at the Dem debate last night -- doesn't Bush get credit for us not having another 9/11 -- someone said something, anything, even remotely similar to the GOP's Arkansas Chair . . . .

We've asked former Arkansas Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee to comment on Milligan's desire to see thousands more Americans dead for the sake of a GOP victory. But we're not holding our breath for the reply.....

(h/t to Phillybits)

Conservative Maven: Military Lacks Confidence in Bush Adminstration

Although we disagree on much, I sometimes find myself nodding to Media Lizzy's words. Crooning over her latest fantasy lover's decision to enter the fray, M.L. lets drop this little nugget: "it is the Knights (our military) whose judgment and confidence we must restore."

"Restore" -- bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish: to restore order; bring back to a former, original, or normal condition, as a building, statue, or painting; bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor.

Restore being the perfectly apt word because the confidence of the military in their civilian command is neither healthy nor sound. Nor should it be after all that this administration has put the military through for their own perverse goals.

From the start of this regime's tenure, Rumsfeld and Wolfy began a piecemeal destruction of the military. The wrongheaded, fantasy-inspired creation of a "lean, mean" fighting force meant nothing less, and nothing more, than serious cutbacks in the expense of the modern army.

Sending a too-small and too-stripped down force into two fronts (does anyone pay attention to Afghanistan anymore?), created the the maelstrom which our fighting men and commanders will still be struggling to navigate even after this cadre of incompetents are relegated to History's trash heap.

So it is hardly surprising that today's Knights question the Administration's judgment and lack confidence in the Commander-in-Chief. It still surprises me, however, each time a bona fide conservative pundit like M.L. blurts it out.

But, Lizzy has this much right -- one of the tasks facing the next administration will be to restore the military and to restore the confidence of the military in civilian command. Which is why is is so vital to put someone in the White House who refuses to be an apologist for the failures and blunders of this cabal of criminals; someone who thinks that the failed policies of the Bush boyz needs to be jettisoned -- not fixed.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Gone Fishin'

Thanks to everyone who checked in. I'll be back soon.

(Image Credit Fallen Leaf House)