You can't believe everything you see on TV

Not when the Pentagon weild's its Hidden Hand.

Time is running out for an interesting house, and a very bad idea. How does a girl become popular these days? Handing out money, that's how. Matt Taibbi's on the case: The Queen of Pork. To end, repeat after me, "E Pluribus Nixon".
More on class. The Hodge-man does it again.

Class isn't something we talk much about in the US. It should be, especially with the disparity in incomes between the low-income workers and the rich corporate barons. From Lewis Lapham's film The American Ruling Class here's Nickel & Dimed:

National Idiom Shortage - Disaster looms. "Nation's Presidential Assassins Still Undecided". Let's not talk about it, and say we did.
General Richard Myers claims he was "hoodwinked" by top Bush aides that pushed for the use of torture at Guantanamo. Yeh, uh-huh... sure. Also, how much faith should we put in a DOJ internal investigation?

On the front page of The Oregonian this morning I read that a new Federal policy would make it a standard procedure to gather DNA information from suspects who have been arrested, not just convicted criminals. That's a rather sweeping change of Federal policy, as far as I know. Here's a link to the story from the Washington Post, US to expand collection of crime suspects' DNA. It took me a while searching the LA Times and Washington Post websites to find the story so I could post it here. These days, a lot of important news gets buried.

I couldn't help but wonder that perhaps our paranoia in a post-9/11 world is letting the government get away with ignoring the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not that they don't do that anyway, but still. Without much effort, I can imagine scenarios in which this new policy could be misused or abused.

I emailed Scott Horton this morning about this issue, and I hope he responds or posts something on Harper's. If he does, I'll be sure to note it here.

Allow me to introduce a borderline personality.

"it's me or the Thatcherite". Ken Livingstone makes his case to continue on as Mayor of London.

Friday Night Groovin'

Tonight, I'm starting what I hope will become a tradition at the Home Office - Friday Night Groovin' - where I'll embed some YouTube vids of live music, etc. As I was digging around YouTube looking for something good, I hit the jackpot - an entire concert recorded in Italy of one of my favorite groups, Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood. I saw these guys last Fall here in Portland, and it was an amazing show. If you get the chance to see these guys, don't pass it up. Below is the first of eleven vids. The other ten are linked below. Enjoy the concert! (Especially you, Richard!)

Part 01, Part 02, Part 03, Part 04, Part 05, Part 06, Part 07, Part 08, Part 09, Part 10, Part 11. [bonus track]
As President George Bush said yesterday when asked how he measures success in Iraq, the only way to measure success is through "victory... and success." Not everyone agrees with the rosy assessments of the White House. A report from the National Defense University sees things differently.

Victory isn't just eluding Bush. Hillary's got her own problems, too. Our favorite Goldwater Girl is slamming Democratic activists such as So much for her '68 street cred.

Dahlia Lithwick on the Supreme Court and capital punishment. Seems the Court is moving in a dangerous direction. I hope no torture related cases make it to the Star Chamber...

The American Duopoly: Red? Blue? False dichotomies make things worse.

Is the CIA a "Good Shepherd"? Um... not likely. Ken Silverstein at Harper's has a post up about a new book "Our Man in Mexico", by Jefferson Morley. Worth a look.
That's the cover story from The Economist this week, which looks at the global food shortage that seems to have caught people by surprise.

How not to prepare for peak oil.

According to some, the war in Iraq is a major debacle. Gee, who knew? Certainly not our press corps, which wallows in crap, despite David Brooks' defense.

What did they know, and when did they know it? Torture and the law.

"She's not as bad as you think."

Oh, yes she is.

I wanted to watch the debate last night, but it wasn't broadcast locally. Thank goodness! Instead, I watched the last regular season basketball games, where the refs weren't Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. From what I've read and seen today, the debate was more of the same absurd crap that we've witnessed for the last 30 years.

One has to wonder what Stephanopoulos was up to. Sure, it's been more than 10 years since he was the voice of the Clinton Administration, but when I saw clips today of the debate, I couldn't help but wonder if Hillary was calling in a debt owed, getting the debate to center on ad hominem attacks and "gotcha" politics instead of something substantive. But maybe I'm just becoming as cynical as our Washington elites.

Stephanopoulos is just like all the media figures in Washington; cynical, hubristic and mostly stupid. Maybe the only "fix" required was the idea that if someone like Obama were to get elected, people like Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous - echoplexes of the common wisdom of Washington - might end up on the bread line. Hey! I can dream!

In any event, watch the video above. Obama gets Washington. Don't you want to help him change it? I do.

Last weekend, I changed my political affiliation. Since 1980, the first year I could vote, I've been a proud independent. I wore my independence like a badge of honor - I wasn't going to be drawn into stupid, partisan debates and I paid a price for it; I couldn't vote in primaries. I believed I could rise above partisanship, and focus on wonkish policy issues. For years and years I watched people wring their hands about this and that, while I read White Papers and quietly voted my conscience. Sometimes I voted for Republicans and independents (I voted for Dubya's dad, which I regret), but mostly I voted Democratic. But the last seven years have changed all that.

I don't love the Democratic Party. It's current leadership is weak and ineffectual. But I despise the Republicans and what they have become. That is not to say that I find conservatism horrid; on the contrary, some true conservative notions are excellent - balanced budgets and a smaller federal government come to mind. The problem with the current body of the Republicans is that the true conservatives have been marginalized by neocons, political opportunists and the Fundamentalist nut-jobs whose literalist reading of the Bible makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. So, I've rolled up my sleeves and started working for the Obama campaign. I'm a Democrat, and it feels great. The soft revolution continues, undaunted.

The Intersection of Hard Work and Good Deeds

Not your typical basketball story - Dave D'Alessandro's got a great article posted about DeSagana Diop, the back-up center for the New Jersey Nets. A good read. Don't miss it.
Hillary says "screw 'em."
It's been a question for quite a while now, but here's a new photo gallery from The Guardian on the subject. Hey, I figure if Salon can post BS, so can I.
The news ain't what it used to be. More specifically, we are fed "news" that isn't news at all, perhaps to distract us from what really is news. This is a common complaint nowadays, but it's nothing new, and it is not only the large media corporations that are responsible for this. Even "new media" outlets such as Salon feel compelled to take up space with stuff no one really cares about. To whit, "Martha Stewart's dog Paw Paw dies of renal failure". Now, before you get your underwear all in a bunch, know that I'm a dog lover, a dog owner, and a generally congenial guy. But honestly - who gives a shit about Martha's dog? Dogs, people, cats, salamanders and hippos die everyday. If my dog died today, I would be crestfallen, sure. If my neighbor's dog died today, I'd be sad as well because he/she is a familiar bark in the neighborhood. But what difference does it make to you or me if Martha's dog passes away? Why is this reported? Why is this news? Are we expected to project our feelings of sadness across the ether to console Martha because she is an eminent media figure?

I'll belabor the point no further. Suffice it say that we live in stupid times.
Why is the Bush Administration allowed to pretend that there isn't a recession happening? We should have no confidence in their rosy assessments. The new housing numbers are only part of the story. The bond markets are turning bearish, and as Robert Reich points out, things are going to get worse before they get better... people might even become bitter, but don't you dare use that word, or else. According to Ted Rall, The Cavalry Isn't Coming, so we all better dig in for the long haul.

Many thanks to TPM Media for the above video. Found a new site yesterday that's worth a look - Dickipedia, a wiki of dicks. Mr. Feith should be listed.

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows...

Slim Pickens here... Been away from the stove for a while, but we're gonna cook up sumpin good fer y'all right now! Politics is weird, know what I'm sayin'? Things go up, and then they go down. People you never thought would be able to agree on anything end up pullin' together to destroy common enemies. Weirder still, the media thinks it can decide who is gonna be the next Bush... I mean president. Heck, I didn't know that they sent ballots to corporations, but I guess I missed that episode. So, anyways, like I was sayin', the media - the Fourth Estate, that is - thinks it can pick the next prez for us. Lately, they all been bashing Obama pretty fierce, putting words in his mouth, spinnin' around like whirlin' dervishes or sumpin'. None other than William Kristol himself has stepped up to the plate to decry Obama's remarks of April 6th in an op-ed piece for the NY Times entitled "The Mask Slips". Kristol- that clever boy - thinks that under Obama's mask of centrist democrat is the living soul of Karl Marx. Ain't that sumpin? We still got commies in our midst. That McCarthy feller must be spinnin' in his grave. And ya know who agrees with Mr. Kristol-ball? McNasty's buddy Joe, that's who. Just think - if'n Gore had gotten elected all those years ago, that turncoat Joe woulda been VP, and maybe president. And look at him now - he's wrangling to be McNasty's running mate now, but we know Condi's got the inside track on that. She represents continuity. She'll smooth over the transition from one incompetent administration to the next incompetent administration. Be a shame if McNasty couldn't out-Bush Bush, if ya know what I mean.

Anyway, speaking of McNasty, Arianna says McNasty should go on a holiday, cuz Billary's been doin' his job for him. Ain't that the truth! That tag team is gettin' hot! Y'know, deep down Hillary's still a Goldwater Girl at heart. Just what this country needs, if'n we can't elect McNasty.

Just think what kinds of awful stuff might happen if Obama gets elected. Black folks would be visiting the White House on a regular basis. Ice Cube would become ambassador to France. Why, Obama might even investigate BushCo., and we can't have none o' that! Heck, that'd ruin everythin'! Sure would make Pelosi and Reid unhappy, since they've got a gentleman's agreement not to do anything to BushCo., or Karl Rove will-a be doin' sumpin' to 'em - you ever see that movie "Deliverance"? Tell you what... you start investigatin' things and Lord knows what might turn up. Heck, you might find out that the whole Iraq WMD thing was bogus, or that Saddam had nothin' ter do with 9/11, or that J. Edgar Hoover was a queer. I don't think the American people, good and wholesome as they are, are ready fer anythin' like that, no sir. So, y'all go out there and vote for McCain or Hillary; they'll keep things nice and quiet and we can all go about our business, like usual.

C'mon, 'fess up. You know Obama can't win, even if former Friends of Bill like Richardson or Reich start siding with Obama. This thing was over before it started.

The Bitter End

What did Obama say, when did he say it, and how was that reported? That the major news outlets will mess this up is to be expected, but watching the Clinton Machine spin the hell out of nothing is amazing to witness. What separates the Clinton Machine from the tactics of Fox News? Nothing.
Salon's War Room has an interesting little post regarding Bush's admission regarding what a group of "principals" discussed regarding the torture of detainees.
We begin with a very good question...

Ooh, la-la! Stephen Hadley's Freudian slip is showing! [G'head! Watch it! It's only about 2.5 minutes long]

Ahem! Yeh, that Stephen Hadley, the National security Advisor to the President of the United States of America. When asked by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week program about the controversy surrounding the coming Summer Olympics in China, instead of referring to the Tibetan situation and the protests in the West this week, Hadley repeatedly said Nepal when he meant Tibet, and - weirdly - Stepanopoulos didn't bother to correct him. You have to see the video to get how weird this is. A senior administration official who just so happens to be the White House's top guy on national security goes on national TV and appears to be unable to distinguish between two different, albeit, contiguous countries (and we should remember that Tibet was annexed by China in 1959). Real confidence-builder, that.

So, how does this happen? Was it just a case of a simple gaffe, a fumbling attempt to cover a lack of knowledge on behalf of one the most influential people in the White House (heaven forbid!)?

Not at all.

You may not have heard, but Nepal went to the polls Sunday, and it looks like they've voted into power the same Maoist rebels who were formerly locked in a decade-long civil war with the Nepalese government. This election will likely bring to an end the 239 year old monarchy, replacing it with a legitimized Maoist leadership and thus establishing a Chinese ally in another Himalayan state. Perhaps these events were foremost on Mr. Hadley's mind, and he just couldn't contain his anxious feelings about another success for the Chinese, while the US fumbles around in the dark. And this turn of events cannot make India very happy, either. The Himalayas are the buffer zone between the world's two most populous countries, and you may remember that things haven't always been rosy between China and India. After ignoring the situation in Tibet for years (and this doesn't fall solely on Bush's shoulders), our government has now ignored the situation in Nepal (which does fall squarely on Bush's shoulders) which will only make things worse for Tibet, India (our newish ally), and probably the Nepalese as well. And all this occurred, we will be assured, without having anything to do with our resources being stretched too thinly across the globe in our futile War on Terror.

So, today the National Security Adviser went on national TV and slipped up, revealing his - and one assumes the Adminstration's - anxiety about events in the Himalayas and growing tensions with China - a huge trade partner, and a country which holds a great deal of our debt at a time when we are highly indebted - and his entire performance is nothing short of an embarrassment for himself and his boss. But y'know what? Good for him - Hadley inadvertantly put Nepal into the consciousness of American Viewers and Consumers, which is more than the mass media would do for you.

Doesn't sound very good, does it? But don't fret... there's always hope.

We're gonna have a funky good time! (Many thanks to Fake Steve Jobs).

Kevin Phillips has a new book out entitled Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism. Here's a taste of it, and also a review.

Siegelman turns the tables on the DOJ.

According to Sidney Blumenthal, most recently an advisor to Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney never grew up.

Bill Moyers looked at the the Farm Bill, that devastatingly stupid legislation which wastes so much money for the purchase of political capital.

A mythical debate.

Oh, no. Not him again!?

Watch out, Wachovia.

James Carroll, whipping boy. That's beyond the pale.

Is there hope amidst all the gloom? Yes, because the Sun still shines, and Obama is Right.


The beautiful game.

I noticed a story on Neatorama yesterday morning about kilts, which gave a chuckle. Little did I know it would foreshadow an actual kilt encounter. I was shopping with my family in a Japanese market yesterday evening, and in walked a big, strapping fellow wearing a kilt. So, here goes - Real Men Wear Kilts.

Sunday Brunch

The employment numbers are getting very disappointing. Paging Mr. Malthus, paging Mr. Malthus... your salmon is ready. Gaffe-a-minute. Who you jivin' with that cosmic debris?

Finally, for your Sunday viewing pleasure, here is irrefutable proof of the existence of "intelligent design".