Monthly Archives: January 2007

Sparling Spitting

I haven’t written about this for the same reason I don’t write about a lot of things: everybody else is. Digby‘s been all over this, for one (here and here and here and here, and most recently, here, among other posts). I’m not going to write about it now, either, but I did want to point you to an eyewitness account that confirms much of what Digby has been observing/guessing and makes it even harder – almost impossible, in fact – to believe Sparling’s story is true.

Writing at Norwegianity, guest poster MNObserver’s daughter was present at the march and provides “I was there” information about the physical set-up. MNO concludes:

So we have a suspicious claim of spitting – told in increasingly inconsistent stories as time goes on – from a man who feels it’s just fine to hang those who oppose his viewpoints in effigy as traitors given all manner of credence. And our “liberal media” continues to do it, day in and day out.

(Post corrected due to unexplainable stupidity of author who apparently no longer knows how to read.)

Equity Firms: Taking the Country Private

Although that dread word “anti-trust” has not yet been spoken aloud, in public, the feeding frenzy of mergers and acquisitions since 2001 that has resulted in fewer and fewer corporations owning more and more of the economy, along with the recent return to power of Democrats and the rage building up around CEO salaries, has made it all but inevitable that at some point it will raise its insidious little head. This will not, of course, come from the Bush Administration, where their attitude is and has been right along: “Go to it, boys. Our heads are turned.” (Will Rogers on the Hoover Administration)

Just to take a single example, our entire media apparatus, which was in the hands of fewer than 20 giant corporations when Bush came to office – bad enough, you’d think – is now in the hands of a mere half-dozen thanks to Michael Powell’s obedient, not to say obsequious, FCC.

But uttered or not, the specter of potential regulation and/or legal proceedings designed to weaken or even break up these near-monopolies a la AT&T or Microsoft in Europe sends shivers of fear down the spines of corporate owners everywhere. Even worse, Barney Frank is – or soon will be – holding hearings to look at whether investors should have more say over the pay packages Boards offer their major executives. Maybe even give them veto power.

Yes, things could get ugly on The Street in a few years, and even uglier in the executive suites next door.

Suddenly, riding to their rescue like the Lone Ranger with a calculator and a heavy list of Washington friends in his pocket, come the equity firms. Continue reading

Bloomberg Solves the Energy Crisis

The sometimes staggering greed of corporate America is matched only by its affection for simple solutions to complex problems. offers a perspective on energy policy that you may have missed.

President George W. Bush used his State of the Union address to lay out an ambitious energy policy that significantly expands a number of existing programs. The centerpiece of his plan will increase our reliance on biofuels by a factor of five. In other words, he announced a policy that makes no sense whatsoever.

Of all of the embarrassing corners of government policy, our approach to energy may be the most shamefully indefensible. And now the indefensible is going to get bigger.

Sounds OK so far, but where are they going with this? Continue reading

Why the Left “Hates” Kerry and What It Means for ’08

Diane at the Mass blog ToughEnough isn’t. She’s taking John Kerry’s recent withdrawl from the 2008 campaign pretty hard. She says she’s “in mourning” and that it was “a painful day”. Coming from a hard-core Kerry partisan, such feelings are certainly understandable, but frankly, the rest of us are heaving long sighs of relief. Diane doesn’t get it.

The venom that’s poured out of the left and the right towards Kerry in the past few days have convinced me that he made the right decision. It’s been staggering, the amount of bile still held in reserve for him. Only imagine if he’d announced he was running. Someday I hope to nail down for myself the source of all the fury this one man evokes.

Maybe I can help clear up some of your confusion, Diane. I don’t suppose the hatred of Kerry by the Right is what’s bothering you – the answers to that are obvious enough – so I’ll concentrate on the left. Continue reading

The PubSpeak Dictionary 1: Introduction

A recent post at Paperwight’s Fair Shot reminded me that I’ve been noticing there are a lot of folks in Left Blogtopia who continue to be surprised upon discovering that conservative Republicans seem to define some words quite differently from the way we define them. After quoting Rod Dreher’s recent confession –

I had a heretical thought for a conservative – that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word – that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot – that they have to question authority.

– Paperwight has some difficulty trying to figure out just which conservative “philosophy” Rod’s brand would have fit into. He finally concludes:

The only form of conservatism that allows one to actually have that belief is authoritarianism, whether it’s royalist, theocratic, fascist, or otherwise dictatorial. Authoritarianism lets you just turn off your brain when your leaders speak, because your leaders can’t do bad things. And that in a nutshell is one of the central features of and problems with American conservatism.

Well…YES. And it has been since Nixon’s resident PR assassin, Roger Ailes, found that he could blunt criticism by simply changing the words Nixon used, particularly about Viet Nam. The invasion and bombing campaign in Cambodia became an incursion, cover-ups became protecting executive privilege, and an illegal domestic black bag operation ordered directly by Tricky Dick became a rogue operation Nixon didn’t know about because of something called plausible deniability.

But the capper was the concept of the imperial presidency – the so-called “unitary executive” – developed by Ailes and John Mitchell, who “interpreted” the Constitution by throwing out the separation of powers clause and assuming for the president the power to do anything. As the late Howard Hunt, boss of the Watergate break-in, put it:

“I had always assumed, working for the CIA for so many years, that anything the White House wanted done was the law of the land,” he told People magazine back in 1974.

Later on, the late, great Lee Atwater expanded Ailes’ original contribution by inventing “spin” and, more significantly, “reverse spin” – the art of convincing the press that a war-like statement was really about peace and a peaceful statement was really advocating war, that racism was merely a response to runaway affirmative action and affirmative action was really racist, and so on. The definitions Atwater came up with for his legendary reverse spin sessions were so attractive to radical conservatives that over the next quarter-century they first absorbed, then processed, then began to actually believe in the invented black-is-white, day-is-night definitions as if they were the real ones.

Of course, that explains only about half of the terms conservatives use. The rest come from deep disconnections inherent in conservative Republican dogma between what they wish were true and what actually is true. In fact, the essence of conservatism is, as Paperwight finally noticed, anti-democratic, authoritarian, demagogic, anti-Constitutional, and anti-American to an alarming degree. Which means that conservative Republicanism attracts demagogues, imperialists, monarchists, and would-be dictators like a dogpile attracts flies.

So I thought it might help if someone compiled a dictionary of Conservative RepublicanSpeak one could refer to if one was unsure how a Republican was defining a particular word or phrase s/he’d just used. Which is all a long-winded way of introducing (apologies to Ambrose Bierce) the first installment of:

The PubSpeak Dictionary: Translating Conservative-RepublicanSpeak into English Continue reading

Southern Justice: Travesty Squared in Georgia

You’ve probably heard about this case but it’s new to me.

Genarlow Wilson is standing on a threshold all right, at the end of the last hall of Burruss Correctional Training Center, an hour and a half south of Atlanta. He’s just a few feet from the mechanical door that closes with a goosebump-raising whurr and clang. Three and a half years after he received that letter, he’s wearing a blue jacket with big, white block letters. They read: STATE PRISONER.

He’s 20 now. Just two years into a 10-year sentence without possibility of parole, he peers through the thick glass and bars, trying to catch a glimpse of freedom. Outside, guard towers and rolls of coiled barbed wire remind him of who he is.

Once, he was the homecoming king at Douglas County High. Now he’s Georgia inmate No. 1187055, convicted of aggravated child molestation.

When he was a senior in high school, he received oral sex from a 10th grader. He was 17. She was 15. Everyone, including the girl and the prosecution, agreed she initiated the act. But because of an archaic Georgia law, it was a misdemeanor for teenagers less than three years apart to have sexual intercourse, but a felony for the same kids to have oral sex.

Afterward, the state legislature changed the law to include an oral sex clause, but that doesn’t help Wilson. In yet another baffling twist, the law was written to not apply to cases retroactively, though another legislative solution might be in the works. The case has drawn national condemnation, from the “Free Genarlow Wilson Now” editorial in The New York Times to a feature on Mark Cuban’s HDNet.

“It’s disgusting,” Cuban wrote to ESPN in an e-mail. “I can not see any way, shape or form that the interests of the state of Georgia are served by throwing away Genarlow’s youth and opportunity to become a vibrant contributor to the state. All his situation does is reinforce some unfortunate stereotypes that the state is backward and misgoverned. No one with a conscience can look at this case and conclude that justice has been served.”

It’s not the stereotype that’s unfortunate, Mr Cuban, it’s the accuracy of it. Continue reading

Bush, Iran, and Armageddon

As of today, it’s no longer debatable. Bush wants to provoke a war with Iraq. (Via Eric Martin)

The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran’s influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort. Continue reading

Bush’s Folly: The Presidential Library & Neoconservative Boot Camp/Bordello

Many of the students and faculty at Mrs President’s alma mater apparently aren’t too thrilled with the idea of having Hubby’s presidential library on campus. A small tempest has arisen, somewhat larger than a teapot but smaller than a breadbox, during which certain views were expressed and swirls of dust raised. I’ve read a couple of short articles (AP and Reuters), heard one radio report (PBS), and seen one tv segment (ABC) dealing with the alleged controversy, and they were all what you might call circumspect – short on detail and as gentle as a llama’s kiss.

The president, who I don’t have to tell you, THINKS BIG when it comes to himself and if money is involved, has raised – I can hardly bear to write the numbers – $$$500 Million $$$, the most money ever spent on a presidential library, to build it and – andyet another neoconservative think tank. In all the news reports, the reason for the discomfort expressed by the dissenters was something along the lines of a fear that the school would be “overshadowed” by the Bush “policy institute”.

Putting aside for the moment the hilariously ironic concept of building a library in honor of a man who not only doesn’t read books but actively scorns their usefulness and announces it publicly, why would the faculty at Southern Methodist University take umbrage at having a Kennedy School of Government-like “policy intitute” on their front door step? Wouldn’t it be a boon? Wouldn’t it attract attention and students and prestige to a school that could use all three? What could there be to object to? Continue reading

Can’t You Just Smell the Mendacity?

That quote from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the title of a post at A Violently Executed Blog that you really shouldn’t miss. Adam pretty much eviscerates Liz Cheney’s recent WaPo Op-Ed like he was shredding hog guts.

Dem Candidates1: Hillary and Barack

eRobin started something in the Comments to my criticism of SNL’s recent parody of her:

Here’s the bottom line on Hillary Clinton: We on the left are all supposed to get over how much we hate her politics b/c we want a Dem to get elected. Where is the outcry to have her give up her presidential aspirations and accept the fact that she is nothing but a distraction and an easy target? Where is her committment to getting a Dem elected?

When I said she had real vulnerabilities the SNL skit ignored in favor of going after made-up ones, that’s the sort of thing I was thinking about. She’s ambitious, not all that competent, rigid, and her public personna is real like the animatronic Abe Lincoln at Disneyworld is the one who wrote the Gettysburg Address. The real problem, though, is that she isn’t a liberal or even a Democrat. She’s a moderate conservative with mild liberal tendencies she usually manages to ignore. She would have been right at home in the GOP of Bob Michel and Howard Baker. And she’s got her head so far up the DLC’s ass that she spits corporate donor cards.

hillaryobama.jpgFrom what you say, I take it the DLC is already pushing their “we have to nominate somebody electable” meme and she’s trying to position herself to fit in. That’s how we got Kerry, and it was Terry MacAuliffe and company whose “advice” killed Al Gore’s campaign before it even got started. The election would never have been close enough to steal if it hadn’t been for the DLC.

Frankly, I’m having the same difficulty with Obama. Continue reading

Confined Space Closes Down

Jordan Barab is shutting down his landmark blog. It’s a loss we can’t even measure. He was the only one doing it, and what he was doing – unlike most of what the rest of us do: screw around – was important. He was part of the inspiration for Trenches, and I owe him for that as well as for educating me and everyone else about the parlous state of workplace safety since Bush was elected and promptly turned the Labor Department over to ace anti-union corporate lawyer Elaine Chao, cut OSHA’s funding in half, fired its inspectors, and put in place his idiotic “voluntary” system of compliance (“voluntary” meaning companies could ignore the health and safety of their workers and never hear a peep from the Bush Administration).

It was a bad time and Jordan was that rare sane voice you hear – if you’re lucky – when the wind is just right as you’re stumbling around, lost, trying to find your way home. In the midst of madness and fear, there he was. Quiet, compelling, and righteously pissed off.

He was – is – one of a kind, and so was his blog. My obit here. Better yet, click the link above and go say good-bye.

The SOTUTU2: Webb’s Response

For about twenty years, I have been consistently underwhelmed by the Democratic Response to the SOTU’s of Republican presidents. Under Reagan, they were lame and even subservient. Under Poppy Bush, they tended to be smug and/or weakass lists of potential policy initiatives. In the first 5 years of our Junior Emperor’s Regnum, they’ve ranged from whiny to supportive to outright toadying just before the invasion. They have been, iow, responses less to Junior’s SOTU than to the polls.

Last night, Virginia’s new Senator, James Webb, may have been looking at the polls as well, but even if he has been, what he saw wasn’t the excuse for yet another shopping list of policies but an opening to present Democrats as they used to be: tough-minded champions of the unrich. He took full advantage of the opportunity, and kudos (major) to Pelosi for choosing him. It was a gutsy call that was widely criticized (Webb is said to be a bad campaigner and worse orator, about which more later), but she was absolutely right on: this was the best speech, content-wise, of any Democratic SOTU response in the last quarter century. (Full text here.)

These things often start with a nod to bipartisanship, a “hoping we can work with the president on issues common to both sides” kind of thing, and Webb’s was no different except for the tone of it. Instead of an emphasis on the “we would hope to be able to work with you” stuff, Webb turned it around and very firmly put the emphasis on “we hope you’ll work with us”. It was subtle but the message was pretty clear: “Playtime is over. The grown-ups are in charge. Get with the program or we’ll do it without you.”

To say that was refreshing is an understatement. Continue reading


I didn’t watch the SOTU tonight. I fell asleep (a medication thing). I caught the last 5 minutes when he was doing the “Introducing Heroes” Segment and then signing autographs (!!! WTF?). It was inspiring that there are still people, some of them Congressmen, who want his signature on a piece of paper that isn’t his resignation.

But fortunately – or not, depending on your viewpoint – his speech is already in text form all over the internet, so even though I won’t be able to offer any feedback on his affect (he seemed pretty up when he was signing his name), I will be able to comment on the substance of his speech.

Lucky you. Continue reading


CEO Pay 3: The Gap Closes on Pressler, Flood Fizzles

While it doesn’t quite come up to the Nardelli Standard, still a $$$14.5Mil$$$ severance package for another fired CEO who took his company into the dumper is nothing to sneeze at. Continue reading