Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Once" Stars Fell In Love

And they're charming and so is the movie and so is their music. My first movie recommend on this blog. Others would be "Away From Her" and "The Savages."

FISA: Big Picture

There is a long discussion today at Glenn Greenwald's site at Salon about the administration's fighting back publicly over the House's refusal to approve telecom immunity. Greenwald is where in my opinion the smartest people in the progressive blogoshere hang out.
I've summarized the FISA issue before, but it's important to reflect on where this single issue rests in the whole scheme of things political.
I could never summarize it as well as commenter ondelette, so I'm just going to cut and paste his/her reminiscence on the totality of the Shrubya years. And at the end, there's another cool video. Guess not, I liked the one I already posted better.

This is why I said the corpies are calling in their chips on this. The administration has built a huge illegal house of cards, and everyone who has participated in it -- corporations on the NSA spying, the CIA on torture and rendition, the military on Guantanamo, foreign governments on a variety of things, even news media on keeping a lid on everything -- wants to know whether they can deliver on the promises that no one will get hurt. This showdown is all about showing the dark side that they can deliver on getting immunity through a congress controlled by the enemy. It isn't about this particular immunity, except to a handfull of telecom companies, it's about all the future immunities they need to promise to provide. They got important immunities rammed through before the Democrats took control -- the Military Commissions Act contains an retroactive clause similar to the one in the FISA bill making procedures at Guantanamo legal that had previously been violations of Geneva.

This is literally about the investors threatening to pull the plug unless the blanket immunity part of the overall project, of which FISA is just one piece, rolls out on schedule and according to plan. It's plain old corporate restructuring as they see the Republicans about to lose the governing power which constituted the sum total of their employable assets.

What else is there to learn? On FISA, the full extent of the spying. On torture and rendition, the legal opinions and the full extent of the program. On Guantanamo, the rigging of the military commissions. On the OLC and the U.S. Attorneys, the racketeering going on for the White House in the Justice department, and whether or not there have been clandestine election rigging moves. On intelligence and diplomacy, whether or not we have had an accurate picture of the world through the government for a long time.

It is also probably a very, very bad idea to believe there aren't programs violating either U.S. or international law, about which we currently still know nothing, and also a bad idea to assume that the press knows nothing about any of them. One thing I'm intrigued with [Warning: conspiracy theory alert] is the character of the vote rigging in Pakistan by PML-Q and MQM. It seemed to be designed to prevent a working majority, not to win an election. Odd for a dictator who doesn't care what people think when he suspends the Constitution. The result was an election in which everyone knew there was vote rigging but decided to accept it. That kind of subtlety looks very Rovian. Either Musharraf is a good student of Rove or he had help. We know he had an American campaign advisor...

As Taobhan and others point out well, the press is a large factor in this. With the current torture debate, for instance, the press is largely guilty of facilitating Stephen Bradbury's contention that if the interrogation method doesn't involve prolonged severe pain and suffering it isn't torture, as a legitimate side in an even debate. The Torture Act's definition of prolonged severe pain and suffering doesn't apply to the process of interrogation at all. It applies to the damage it causes. And it would include totally painless interrogation methods that cause painful psychological problems or damage later (spec. "procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality"). Look it up. (Title 18 U.S.C. 2340).

FISA: Now I Get It

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oscar Prep: Cleavage Buffing, Underarm Botox...

Diamond Studded Mink Eyelashes
Stiletto Foot Surgery
It's all here.

McCain About to Go Down? w/Petition

If this lobbyist scandal gets worse, and there's plenty of reason today to believe that it will — and the Federal Election Commission's decision works to keep him committed to public financing and prohibited from much campaign spending until the fall — who should the Republicans choose as their candidate that would be best for Democrats? Mittens? Huck? Newt? Jeb?
Sign a petition here.

Oh Look, A Contest

And I didn't have to invent it. Otherwise, I got nothin.' But New York is full of 'em. What would yours be? Mine? "But wait, I'm not done yet."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

FISA: A Snuggle Bear Explains It

Update below
I've posted a lot about the surveillance bill that senators and House members are currently wrangling over during the Congressional recess, trying to come to some compromise that will give the government reasonable access to potential threats while preventing the administration, Republicans and even some super-compromised Democrats from granting the telecom companies who cooperated with previous illegal wiretapping from getting legal immunity from the 40 or so lawsuits pending against them.
The discovery process in these lawsuits is the only remaining way we have of learning exactly what happened and which administration officials also violated the law by spying on Americans without warrants.
Now there is a new Republican sponsored ad out warning us that terrorists are hiding under our beds and will grab out ankles when we get up to pee unless they get everything they want.
I won't link to the ad, it's a laughable pandering "24"-style piece to stir up the base.
I will link to the ACLU's plea for donations to help it get a big ad about this issue into USA Today next week when Congress reconvenes.
And here's a brief YouTube piece that sort of summarizes the whole thing. A little wonky, but it's got a cute bear to entertain the kids with.
Update: Apparently the Republicans have decided they'll just go with the scare tactics since Democratic leaders announced today that the R's have instructed their staff and representatives to boycott the negotiation meetings.

US Attorney Scandal Coming on 60 Minutes

I have been sunk in the sea of despond — meaning reading everything everybody is saying about the McCain lobbyist story except the original New York Times story itself, what can I say, I'm a journalism junkie — and so just learned that 60 Minutes will run its piece on the US Attorney scandal on Sunday.
Trouble is, it's on opposite the Oscars. Gonna be tough for me to forego Jon Stewart who is hosting the awards show and shots of multiple stars and their really boring speeches, but I haven't ever missed the Oscars.
And I don't have Tivo. What to do, what to do?
But I know someone who does have Tivo. Problem solved.
Must-see TV.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

National Defense and You

It's not really one of my pressing interests, but it made me laugh out loud, so maybe you will get a chuckle.
From Scout Finch at Daily Kos today:
The US Navy announced that due to bad weather, it will postpone the attempt to shoot down the impaired satellite until tomorrow at the earliest. Our zillion dollar "star wars" technology is clearly capable of stopping incoming missiles so long as: they come one at a time, are the size of a school bus, travel in orbits that have been calculated for months, don't deploy any decoys, and the weather is clear.


So in Wisconsin he gets 58%, in Hawaii 77 % and in Washington...wait for it...wait for it...
50%. That was the primary total, the caucus total was 67%. What does this mean?
Did women vote differently in the primary because they knew it didn't count? Did more independents and Republicans vote in the primary than attended the caucuses? And what about all those people who forgot or declined to pick a party on the primary ballot, which everyone seems to hate because we're in transition and just don't get it now that there's a real primary contest and our state actually mattered and most of us never bothered to caucus before and never really got that primaries have never mattered for Democratic voters anyway?
I don't know, and in the big scheme of things, doubt that it matters a whit except we Washington voters seem to be incredibly confused, or confusing or something.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Action Alert, FISA Again and The Stork*

I Am Always the Last to Know
Except for you, of course, which is the whole premise of this blog. I read it so you don't have to, right? Cuz you don't have time. And if it's cool, I pass it along. I try to keep it short and linky, the sort of thing you can check daily or weekly or monthly and not feel as if you've missed much, because when it's not politics, it's timeless.
So far, I've mostly done politics, but Congress is in "controlled recess," my term meaning Nancy and Harry are sort of keeping it open to prevent Shrubya from pulling a fast one and becoming the first president since 1948 to call Congress back into session for an emergency, their thinking being that he sees the failure of the telecom immunity he wanted as an emergency.
No, I didn't know they could do that or he could do that either. Civics lesson of the week, I guess.
Anyway, if you want to chip in a few bucks to help the ACLU keep the pressure on when Congress returns, you can do so here.

But I want to sweeten this public service announcement, make the vegetables go down a little easier.
Introducing Nina Paley, the most famous person I never heard of, this week at least.
A few years ago, she got really pissed off about overpopulation and made this really cool animated short.


I would write this blog if I had her talent and her wit, not to mention her anger, but I just don't.
Fuck it.

Outsource Your Life

I Need Staff
That used to be my little personal joke, a way of admitting I had no time to do all the things I needed to do.
Now I have plenty of time to do it all, and I still don't do it.
I was charmed when I heard an NPR reporter's story about how he'd hired a service in India to do all sorts of things for him, including reading stories to his son over the telephone.
He was so pleased with the service that he decided to retain a partial version of it after the story was over and his employer stopped paying the bill.
So, do you need staff?

Wherefore Humorlessness? Cheese

The ineffable Steve Clifford at Crosscuts explains.
"The transition from Hip to Humorless in the early 30s appears a distinctly American phenomenon.I think this is due to diet, specifically cheese..."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bottom of Barrel Dept.

Hillary said something and then Barack said something and McCain had something to say, too, and Bush blah-blah, and then Hillary...
Bottom line: I'm bored silly with the news today and so probably is everyone else on the blogs I read and look to for inspiration and links, because I remain uninspired and linkless.
Maybe it's post-Potomac/Super Tuesday letdown, brain hormones that had kicked into high gear for more than a month suddenly out of whack and no new excitement in sight.
So, I punted over the weekend. Explored the non-political and found, judging from the comments, some gems.
I've been trying for a couple hours to repeat that lucky streak, but came up dry.
Friend sent me two stories from the New York Times, but the piece on the kind of people on The Nation's egghead cruise to Alaska was too long and the best quote was about the unlikeliness of finding Ralph Nader in the hot tub on the top deck.
The other one was by a progressive Democratic woman who married a Republican and how sincerely happy she was when he voted for Obama. Emphasis on sincerely.
Not even a dribble of snark.
I decided not to even try Wonkette today. Maybe that was a mistake but I'm done.
Fear not, however, I've been holding stuff in reserve for just this situation.
Okay, it's derivative, and there's no link to anything better, but it's mildly amusing.
Otherwise, I got nothin.'
If it's this bad tomorrow, maybe I'll make up a contest. Any suggestions?


I have toyed with the idea of putting together a list of favorite signature lines from progressive commenters at Daily Kos, but in the meantime, here are some from Bill in Portland, ME, who beat me to it. But then, he's getting paid to do this sort of thing.

"'Politics' is made up of two words. 'Poli,' which is Greek for 'many,' and 'tics,' which are bloodsucking insects." Gore Vidal (Kairos)

If we Americans analyzed our social problems as much as we analyze pro football, there would be no more AIDS, homeless people, or pregnant teens... (Wry Twinger)

"In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." ~H.L.Mencken (PoliSigh)

I don't mind straight people as long as they act gay in public. (International Jock)

"If you're going through hell - keep going!" -- Winston Churchill (newbie Keith Olbermann)

What you see is what you get, but what you don't see is what ends up getting you. (Existentialist)

There are 10 types of people in the world--those who know binary and those who don't. (DoLooper)

"Whenever someone says he's going to save your soul, keep a tight grip on your wallet." (bergerc84)

"Success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives." --George W Bush, May 2, 2007 (Mspicata)
"Never raise your hands to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected." - Red Buttons (Man in the Middle)

Bill's sig line is "Judge me by the strength of my character, not the underwear on my head."

My line, if I had one, would be, "We're all here because we're not all there." Unofficial city motto, Port Townsend, WA

Sunday, February 17, 2008

White as State of Mind

Do you like expensive sandwiches, Mos Def and co-ed sports? Of course you do, you're white.
I love Mos Def, just look at him. What's not to love?

Anyway, too bad the writer's strike is over. I have a feeling the people who put together the sly little blog Stuff White People Like will be posting less often.