Tuesday, November 28, 2006

United States v. George W. Bush et. al.

It's going to be a very busy week; Random Flickr Blogging later, if at all. It looks like this week's must-read is going to be Elizabeth de la Vega over at the invaluable TomDispatch. A former federal prosecutor (who's written some great essays for TomDispatch since her retirement), de la Vega has a new book which imagines indicting Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Condi, and Colin Powell for fraud and conspiracy:
If the indictment and grand jury are hypothetical, the evidence is not. I've prepared for this case, just as I would have done for any other case in my years as a prosecutor, by reviewing all of the available relevant information. In this case, such information consists of witness accounts, the defendants' speeches, public remarks, White House press briefings, interviews, congressional testimony, official documents, all public intelligence reports, and various summaries of intelligence, such as in the reports of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the 9/11 Commission. I've discarded any evidence, however compelling, that is uncorroborated.

Then, using a sophisticated system of documents piled on every surface in my dining room, I've organized and analyzed the reliable information chronologically, by topic, and by defendant. I've compared what the President and his advisers have said publicly to what they knew and said behind the scenes. Finally, I've presented the case through testimony that will, I hope, make sense and keep everybody awake.

After analyzing this evidence in light of the applicable law, I've determined that we already have more than enough information to allow a reasonable person to conclude that the President conducted a wide-ranging effort to deceive the American people and Congress into supporting a war against Iraq. In other words, in legal terms, there is probable cause to believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Powell violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States. Probable cause is the standard of proof required for a grand jury to return an indictment. Consequently, we have more than sufficient evidence to warrant indictment of the President and his advisers.

That's from de la Vega's introduction; TomDispatch will be posting her indictment on Wednesday and her first day of imagined grand jury testimony on Thursday. Read and savor—'cause it's probably as close to justice as these people are ever going to get, at least in this life.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Random Flickr Blogging #1635; or, Biggest, Awfulest Shopping Day of the Year Flickr Blogging

Sorry, I wound up being offline yesterday, so instead of Random Turkey Day Flickr Blogging we'll have Random Biggest, Baddest, Most Insanely Nightmarish Shopping Day of the Year Flickr Blogging (with help from The Method).

We took our Random Flickr Blogophone out into the great mall called America and asked: What did you get today?

"I got an assortment of unspeakably vile luncheon meats. And the new Clay Aiken CD."
"I picked up a new espresso machine for my cat."
"I got my sister some germicidal hand lotion so she'll be better prepared the next time she's up front at a Bothersome Crotch show. Ewwww."
"I got my brother some Angst for Men. Angst: When Your Own Potential is Terrifying."
"I got my aunt a ladies' night out at Jimmy Changa's Eat-and-Drinkery and Funtime Mexiporium."
"Hi! I'm the entertainment at Jimmy Changa's Eat-and-Drinkery and Funtime Mexiporium."
"I got my uncle...well, something he's always wanted but never had the courage to ask for."
"I got a great deal on this sublime view, which thrills my soul by confronting the smallness and insignificance of man with the awesome size and majesty of nature. And these cargo shorts."

In other news, while there's not a lot to like about Slate, there is David Haglund—who this week has a head's up on a long-overdue collection of films from the underappreciated Preston Sturges. My friend jules turned me on to Sturges—though I still have only seen Hail the Conquering Hero and Sullivan's Travels (and of the latter I mainly remember the lovely, haunted Veronica Lake). I have got to see The Lady Eve:

While Sturges' men have less power than one might expect, his women have more. After making low-budget hits out of McGinty and Christmas in July, Sturges got enough studio money to write a script for Barbara Stanwyck, and he created a role inspired, in part, by his own mother—who began life as the poor, Irish-Catholic Mary Dempsey, then married three times, had Preston, divorced again, sailed to Europe, changed her last name to Desti (insinuating a connection to Italian nobility), and became the boon companion of the trailblazing modernist dancer Isadora Duncan. This example simply couldn't be ignored, and Sturges filled his movies with decisive, adventuresome women—none greater than Stanwyck's Jean Harrington in The Lady Eve.

Jean works with her father as a con artist finding dupes on transatlantic cruises. (There are few "traditional" families in Sturges' films.) They find the ultimate sucker in Charles Pike, played by Henry Fonda, son of a beer magnate and devoted ophiologist (he studies snakes)—with whom, of course, Jean falls in love. Sturges milks this scenario for all its Biblical and Freudian worth: Jean's first act is to drop an apple on Pike's head, shortly after which we see him reading a book titled Are Snakes Necessary? The movie is an exemplary comedy of remarriage, depicting the triumph of Jean's wordliness over Pike's outdated prudery: "You don't know much about girls," Jean tells Pike at one point. "The best ones aren't as good as you think they are and the bad ones aren't as bad. Not nearly as bad."

Meanwhile, Dana Stevens has a nice obit for the late, great Robert Altman and Garry Trudeau is in the midst of an interesting story arc wherein the pacifist Reverend Sloan and the three-time war volunteer B.D. team up to confront a classful of clueless brats who love wars—as long as the lower classes have to fight them.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend!

(Oops, almost forgot: Random Flickr Blogging explained here; photos from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What Goes Around Comes Around

Amy Goodman's new column opens with a humdinger:
Frederick Douglass, the renowned abolitionist, began life as a slave on Maryland's Eastern Shore. When his owner had trouble with the young, unruly slave, Douglass was sent to Edward Covey, a notorious "slave breaker." Covey's plantation, where physical and psychological torture were standard, was called Mount Misery. Douglass eventually fought back, escaped to the North and went on to change the world. Today Mount Misery is owned by Donald Rumsfeld, the outgoing secretary of defense.
I can see it now: when Rummy gets hauled before a human rights tribunal, he pleads demonic possession. "The disembodied spirit of Edward Covey made me do it."

Busy today; be back tomorrow with some Random Flickr Blogging, hopefully. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This Is How You Talk to Think-tank Sophists

On yesterday's Democracy Now!, Dennis Kucinich and George McGovern mixed it up with Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute:
JOSHUA MURAVCHIK: Senator McGovern, your powers of logic are failing you. I think it's perfectly appropriate for me, you or anyone else to criticize the policies of the US government or the execution of policies, which is what I was criticizing. But it's an entirely different thing to do what Congressman Kucinich did, which is to criticize and defame the motives of the United States in going into Iraq or anything else, to say that we had evil and sordid motives, that we wanted to kill all these Iraqis in order to steal their oil. That’s what --

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Who defames the United States? We went into a war based on lies!

JOSHUA MURAVCHIK: That is what Congressman Kucinich said --

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: We went into a war based on lies. Where's the defamation there? You defame the United States when you stand by a policy that says that we should stay in a war that’s based on lies.

JOSHUA MURAVCHIK: Congressman Kucinich, you said --

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: You’re sending the people to death based on lies. It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth.

JOSHUA MURAVCHIK: Congressman Kucinich, will you get off the stump speech and this sort of loaded politician --

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: The American people want the truth! Tell the truth, if you’re capable of it!

Read or listen to the whole thing if you dare. Muravchik trots out every tired cliché and smear in the warmonger book, and then has the gall to accuse McGovern of "failing" logic. Note to newly-empowered Democrats: let's have more elected representatives telling off think-tank sophists in public, please.

Elsewhere, Amy Goodman pauses to remember a terror anniversary that they won't be talking about on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc., and Rolf Potts pauses to remember the 40th anniversary of Ginsberg's magnificent "Wichita Vortex Sutra" (PDF).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Still Not the News

Seven months after releasing a scathing study of TV "news" programs' reliance on misleading Video News Releases (VNRs), the invaluable Center for Media and Democracy is back with a follow-up study which reveals, among other things, that some of the same stations singled out back in April for running corporate propaganda without fact-checking or proper attribution are still running misleading VNRs.

Message: they don't care. And why should they? These are businesses, after all, and "news" to them is really just filler around advertisements. News costs money; advertisements make money. Small wonder that such outfits don't much care if the one morphs into the other. This is true of local broadcast stations, and it's true of big national cable networks. You can pretend that Tucker Carlson and Wolf Blitzer and Kyra Phillips and Tim Russert and Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly and the like are "journalists" or even "commentators" if you want, but let's face it: their primary job is to fill space around advertisements.

Anyone wondering why television news does such a piss-poor job of keeping us informed about the things that we actually need to know to function as free, informed, autonomous citizens of a democracy would be well advised to keep this harsh fact of life in mind.

Update: freepress.net has an action page for those interested in telling the FCC that they ought to take this violation of the public interest at least as seriously as they took a split-second glimpse of one of Janet Jackson's breasts. For those who think regulation of this kind of lying isn't the FCC's business, read this.

How Much Would You Pay?

...to watch Nancy Pelosi castrate Chris Matthews?

I ask you.

Why Do People Go to Hear Live Music?

Why, so they can hear exactly what they hear on their albums, of course.
Led Zeppelin "IV" Classic Albums Live!



Hear classic rock albums performed LIVE on the King Center stage, note for note, from beginning to end by studio musicians and vocalists using the instrumentation used on the original recording. It will blow you away!

I believe the expression is, WTF?

Monday, November 13, 2006

More Good News

John Nichols:
What will be the largest of the ideological caucuses in the new House Democratic majority?

Why, of course, it must be the "centrists" affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council's "New Democrat Coalition." Yes, that's got to be the case because all the commentators at the Wall Street Journal keep saying that centrists were the big winners on Tuesday.

Er, no.

Well, then, it must be the more conservative Democrats who identify themselves as "Blue Dogs." Surely, that's the answer because all the folks on Fox News keeping talking about them.


The largest ideological caucus in the new House Democratic majority will be the Congressional Progressive Caucus, with a membership that includes New York's Charles Rangel, Michigan's John Conyers, Massachusetts' Barney Frank and at least half the incoming chairs of House standing committees.

Not that Nice Polite Radio will ever notice.

I Couldn't Agree More

I was too wrapped up in other stuff to blog about Matt Taibbi's well-circulated look at "the Worst Congress Ever"—a must-read if you haven't—but at least I get to give a nod to his election night memoirs:
Our national political press is narrowly focused, schooled in inch-deep analysis, and completely results-obsessed. It's a huge and expensive mechanism bedecked with every conceivable bell and whistle (did anyone else catch the giant cyber-globe display frantically spinning behind Anderson Cooper's head? I thought I was going to have an aneurysm) and designed to roam the intellectual range of a chimpanzee. It also has no sense of humor. When the Daily Show spoofed the networks with its "Midterm Midtacular," dragging the venerable Dan Rather out and coaxing a scripted piece of instant "homespun" analysis out of him (he said Hillary Clinton ran away with her race like "a hobo with a sweet potato pie"), the real journalists freaked out. Joe Scarborough led a panel of experts who denounced the show as not that funny; one guest compared Rather's bit to Muhammad Ali's crudely scripted appearances on Diff'rent Strokes, saying it was "awkward."

The reality is that Stewart's array of grotesquely pointless special effects and intentionally buffoonish commentary is an improvement on the real thing, and the real thing is an accurate reflection of our actual politics. Which means, basically, that we're fucked, stuck in an endless cycle of retarded lottery coverage -- 300 million people watching a bunch of half-bright millionaires in ties guess the next number to come out of the chute. I hope we're all insane. Otherwise, what's our excuse?

I actually caught some of that lame Scarborough discussion thanks to Crooks and Liars. It is a damn shame that you can learn more of critical value from watching a couple of damn comedy shows than you can from watching countless hours of CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc., I agree; in a sane culture, however, this would be grounds for a searching reappraisal of how the corporate media does business rather than for pointless tsk-tsking about whether comics are straying off their reservation. Of course, I won't be holding my breath waiting for such a searching reappraisal from Scarborough and his ilk anytime soon.

Random Flickr Blogging #6842: or, Return of the Son of Random Flickr Blogging

It's been a rough few weeks for me, though the election results last week were pleasantly reinvigorating. It seems like ages since I've done any Random Flickr Blogging; this is pleasantly reinvigorating, too. For today's fodder, I stuck to pages 6, 8, 4, and 2.

It may be cool to be the cat's meow, but it sucks having to watch the cat's TV.
Grandpa's pre-toast rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was wrong on so many levels.
But my favorite part of any putt-putt course anywhere in the world is at the one in Athens where you have to hit the ball up a slight incline, off an embankment, past an assortment of obstacles, and through the holes in Socrates's logic.
Some of the Jehovah's Witnesses were unsure about their new witnessing garb.
"The city spent $400,000 on public art to commemorate Hurricane Frances and all we get is THIS?!? Get that Rauschenberg jerk on the phone, NOW."
Lemme tell ya, nothing spices up the ol' marriage like when you come home after a long day at work and the wife meets you at the door wearing nothing but a trawl net, five pounds of feathers, a fish eagle mask, and a few strategically placed starfish. And there's a pot roast in the oven. No sirree, you won't be watching Leno's monologue that night, my friend *wink wink*.
The day after was not pretty at Little Green Footballs.

Random Flickr Blogging explained here; photos from here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


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