Interviews, Articles, Etc.
T-shirts & Swag
My Wish List (read this first)
Body and Soul
The Talent Show
Support this site:
if you buy anything at all from Powell's through this link...
...or from Amazon through this one...
...I get a small kickback.
The Bitter Shack of Resentment
Mikhaela Blake Reid
Talking Points Memo
A Tiny Revolution
News and commentary
Center for American Progress
Daily War News
Soldiers for the Truth
Working For Change
August 23, 2003
Trust us, we're experts
So as it turns out, breathing in the particulate residue of the World Trade Center buildings might not have been as healthy as the EPA led us all to believe. Who'd'a figured?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog says White House officials pressured the agency to prematurely assure the public that the air was safe to breathe a week after the World Trade Center collapse.
As someone who spent a few weeks breathing this crap, I am unimpressed. But hey, it's not like Bush was going to get my vote anyway, so what does he care?
(Does anyone have a copy of that satellite photo which shows the plume of smoke heading straight from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn? I meant to save it but didn't, and now I can't find it anywhere.)
Update: got the image, thanks.
My book's Amazon numbers have been a bit of a roller coaster ride--up to #13 at one point, down to 400 or 500--but lately it seems to be holding steady just below the hundreds (#121 as I write this).
Given that I am substantially further down the food chain than Al Franken or even Joe Conason, this is a pretty damned respectable showing.
By the way, started Conason’s book last night, and it looks like something to get a liberal's blood boiling--and I'm all for that. Wherever you fall on the liberal/left spectrum, one thing seems clear to me: we need angry Democrats right now. We don't need mushmouth DLC Democrats afraid of criticizing tax cuts for the wealthy or the tragic quagmire in Iraq. We don't need Democrats who are afraid of being called liberals; as Conason points out pretty persuasively in the first chapter (excerpted here), the basic values of this country are liberal values.
The most basic liberal values are political equality and economic opportunity. Liberals uphold democracy as the only form of government that derives legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and they regard the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights as essential to the expression of popular consent. Their commitment to an expanding democracy is what drives liberal advocacy on behalf of women, minorities, gays, immigrants, and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.
He’s absolutely right, of course. Anyone who doesn’t understand that all of these things happened because people organized and fought for them, against great odds and conservative opposition—well, it’s almost like arguing about whether the earth is flat or round. I mean, it’s cute to watch conservatives try to claim the mantle of Martin Luther King Jr., thirty-odd years after the fact, but the absurdity of it should be apparent to anyone with the vaguest understanding of American history.
On a related topic, I just finished Weapons of Mass Deception by my friends John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton (and yes, full disclosure, I did the cover for the book, but I’ve already been paid for that, so I have nothing to gain or lose financially from their book sales). It ties together a lot of things which have been discussed on this blog over the course of the past year, and puts them into perspective—the authors know a lot about the PR industry and its machinations. Highly recommended.
August 22, 2003
The Administration writ small
A cute little girl who wants to be a reporter gets a chance to ask Donald Rumsfeld a question. Isn't that sweet!
Except wait--she's the niece of one of Paul Wolfowitz's speechwriters, and her aunt the speechwriter told her what question to ask.
There's more here.
Fox reaction to Franken verdict: pretend it's not happening
(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)
How's this for "fair and balanced?"
To answer Tom's question, I flipped on Fox News. Nothing in the last 10 minutes, including the crawl across the bottom of the screen, which is harping Bush's complete bullshit about increasing the salmon, the ELF attack on a bunch of Hummers, and other assorted GOP spinnables.
Out of curiosity, I went to CNN.com. Story's there. OK, they're rivals. So then I went to Yahoo news. Prominent on the front page. Google News. Front page with a picture. Google News search... literally hundreds of news outlets are running the story.
And on the Fox front page... nothing. Looked all over. Wow.
So then I went to the Fox news search page (4:46 pm PDT -- two hours after the news first broke) and entered the term "Al Franken."
The results? The first story listed: "Comedian Al Franken Apologizes to Ashcroft." Swear to God. It's over two days old. I clicked through a series of results pages -- couldn't find the verdict. I've got the screengrabs to prove it, if the issue ever comes up.
But Fox can't say they don't know... according to a Google News search, one of the very first outlets to post the Reuters wire piece... Fox News, here.
So even Fox's search engine is as rigged as the news itself.
Hold on... just double-checked the Fox front page... it's now a tiny bit at the very, very bottom.
Whoopee. Verrrrrry fair and balanced. Trumpet and holler for weeks, then duck and run when you lose. Contemptible.
PS -- O'Reilly just came on. No mention of the Franken verdict whatsoever in the tease.
What a shock.
Judge calls lawsuit "wholly without merit, both factually and legally."
Dammit I wish my cable were working. I'd love to watch the reaction on Fox.
Your fun fact for the day
The father of White House press secretary Scott McClellan says that LBJ killed JFK.
...you should be reading Kos (pronounced as if it were the second syllable of the name "Markos," which in fact it is--not "daily cause" or "daily chaos," though each would be somehow apt).
The mess in Iraq was easily predictable as early as last year, when war talk first sprung up. PNAC arguments that a friendly Iraq would reshape the entire region were laughably absurd (an Israel-friendly Iraqi government wouldn't survive a week). And it's been clear for a long time that neither Israel nor the Palestinians are genuinely interested in peace, addicted as they are to the cycle of tit-for-that violence.
In other words, more ju jitsu. Let's hope there's a Democrat running who's not afraid to try it.
Screw it, who needs cable anyway?
So much to read and watch, so little time. Saw my pal Jim Hightower at his New York book party earlier in the week, where he gave me a copy of his latest. Also met Greg Palast's assistant there, and she was kind enough to give me a copy of the updated edition of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. And Joe Conason's book just showed up in the mail today, as did a copy of the Roger and Me DVD.
And of course, don't forget this modest offering.
It's Flood the Zone Friday
Time for a little internet ju-jitsu. The kids at Not Genuises are leading the charge to use the GOP spam machine against itself. In short, everyone writes their own letter to the editor on a chosen topic each Friday (today it's "fiscal irresponsibility), then uses the tools so kindly provided by Karl Rove to disseminate the information as widely as possible. Go, now, participate.
I despise Time Warner Cable...
...with a passion so deep and all-consuming, it cannot be adequately conveyed.
Those ads they run, about how satellite service is unreliable but you can always count on Time Warner Cable service?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
In short, I'm on backup dialup again, with no cable tv. Given what I do for a living, this gets old real fast.
Arnold's groping: the footage exists
(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)
Following up on this piece re Arnold literally pressing the flesh with several unwilling British female interviewers in December of 2000...
The good news: footage of at least one of the groping incidents apparently still exists. I tracked down the archivist at Carlton TV, the production company behind one of the relevant shows, and she confirmed that the tape is tucked away, still intact.
The bad news: Carlton might not release the footage. Apparently, there are legal issues -- if I understood the Nottingham accent properly, Arnold only granted the interview on conditions that severely limit any future rebroadcast.
Whuh? Did I understand that right? Hmm. The archivist wasn't completely certain about all the legal details, so I have another call in to another Carlton office that deals with international requests, which supposedly will clarify things re this particular footage. I'll keep you posted.
As to the other two reported incidents: one is said to have occurred after the cameras stopped rolling -- cross that one off, then -- and I've got messages in to the folks who seem to control any footage of the third incident, of which this vidcap (courtesy WeLoveArnold.com) is the only visual I've seen so far:
Now that Arnold's TV ads are airing here -- looking remarkably like a deranged robot attempting to seize power -- the video revelation of this former would-be Sperminator blithely groping an outraged female or two would do .
Incidentally, you're welcome to forward these posts to any mainstream newspeople you think might be interested in pushing for release of the footage, or at least writing about its existence and the fact that it's not yet part of the debate. They can contact me at this dedicated email address and I'll happily share all the information I've gathered.
PS -- Found out today that Jeopardy! is going to rebroadcast their Million-Dollar Masters Tournament, which I was honored to participate in at Radio City Music Hall in May of last year. I'll be on this coming Monday (unless you live in certain west coast cities, where the show is delayed until Tuesday because of Monday Night Football), if you're curious.
It was a hell of a thrill. Onstage at Radio City, a packed house (including our host Tom here, which was neat), facing a Tournament of Champions winner and the show's all-time champ, who both scared the holy crap out of me, honest... the curtain goes up... The rest you'll have to see for yourself.
August 21, 2003
A couple of months ago I blogged about being dropped from Columbus Alive due to "page count and budgetary limitations."
Well, for some reason I’m still on their mailing list, and as I was going through the daily stack of mail I noticed that page count and budgetary limitations didn’t keep them from adding some new cartoons.
So if you live in Columbus, be sure to let them know whether or not you prefer the replacements. And if you have any contacts at any other Columbus papers, tell them to drop me a line.
Joe Scarborough admits the truth
"Conason said-quote-”I just want people to pay attention and ask questions and not accept what I call conventional idiocy on TV and radio." Conventional idiocy? So why is it that more people listen to Rush Limbaugh than anybody else in radio history? All I’ve got to say is, there are a lot of idiots out there."
Great minds think alike and alike and alike
Because of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, our schools are already receiving additional resources and historic levels of federal funding to ensure that students succeed, and more positive changes are on the way. Recently, the President announced that every state had put in a place an accountability plan to ensure that all schools makes progress.
Google hits on same:
West Sound Sun, signed by Arney A. Rodal, Bainbridge Island
Portsmouth Herald, signed by Christopher M. Daignault, Hampton
Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier, signed by Kevin Slinger, Waverly
Hattiesburg American, signed by William Stogner, Kokomo
1590 Broadcaster Online, signed by Andrew M. Zuba, Nashua
Hernando Today, signed by Michael E. Guthrie, Brooksville
Boulder Weekly, signed by Larry D. Fuller, Aurora
Honolulu Advertiser, signed by Fidel Montalvan
Times News, signed by Kevin Perneta
From yesterday's print edition of the Wall Street Journal:
Schoolchildren are used to getting grades in math, science and English. Now, Arkansas state officials want to grade them on their weight.
Viruses and things
Judging from the number of returned emails this morning, it looks like that virus is now spoofing my address as a point of origin (along with many others, of course). This should go without saying, but I'm not going to be sending you any email about a "wicked screensaver" or a "movie," instructing you to "see attachment for details."
Bill Janklow must resign, now
SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Aug. 20 — U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow was driving between 70 and 75 mph when he ran a stop sign and collided with a motorcycle, killing the biker, according to an accident report released by the South Dakota Highway Patrol. The speed limit on the road is 55 mph.
I rode a motorcycle for a number of years (an old BMW R75/5, for those of you who care about these things), and I can assure you that reckless morons like Bill Janklow are every motorcyclist's nightmare.
August 20, 2003
Arnold: "Nothing Will Haunt Me"... unless certain videotapes become TV ads
(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)
Howdy all, sorry I'm not around as much. I'll start my own blog one of these days. Go buy Tom's book. OK, that out of the way:
Today's L.A. Times notes that Arnold has been telling an untrue story about why he became a Republican for years:
... Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to become a Republican after listening to "the debates of Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon when they were debating for the presidential race," or so he told television talk show host Bill O'Reilly in May 2001. "Hubert Humphrey spoke about things I heard in Austria under socialism."
The only problem: there was no such presidential debate in 1968.
Humphrey challenged, Nixon said no. What Arnold claims to have watched as his formative American political experience -- the kind of epiphany you generally remember pretty well (unlike, say, brunching with Ken Lay) -- simply never occurred.
Schwarzenegger previously recounted his version of history during an interview at the 2000 Republican National Convention. "When I came to this country, I was sitting in front of the television set, and I watched a debate between Humphrey and Nixon, and I didn't even understand half of it because my English wasn't good enough then. I had a friend of [mine] translating." Much the same account reappeared in a recent Newsweek magazine article about him. Schwarzenegger "was a Republican before he was a citizen," Newsweek wrote, "having watched a 1968 presidential debate for which a friend provided the translation."
The campaign is spinning that he didn't actually see a debate, just Humphrey and Nixon talking on TV. With, apparently, a friend providing an ongoing, blow-by-blow translation, because that's how weightlifters watch any random newscast. Obviously.
The Times, incidentally, still gives Arnold a large pass, headlining the story The Curious Nixon-Humphrey Debate -- as opposed, for instance, to Arnold's Questionable Story, which would put the subject of the article in the headline, suddenly a daring and controversial news practice -- which means if you're just scanning the paper, you'll miss it entirely. But turn the page, you'll find -- in typeface twice as big and in boldface -- Bustamante Would Raise Taxes To Balance Budget. Just in case we had any doubt what we're supposed to think.
I still wish somebody in the mainstream would spend a little time on Arnie's actual past. Like the December 11, 2000, edition of the UK TV show Big Breakfast, broadcast throughout Britain, when Arnold reportedly groped interviewer Denise Van Outen. The Sun printed a complete sequence of stills the next day (which seem to be nowhere online or in their archive, but you can still see a vidcap of the exchange here if you scroll down). Here are the key bits:
Arnie Is At It Again
Good telly, indeed. Wouldn't that footage -- probably still in Channel 4's archives, incidentally -- make a spectacular campaign ad? What about combined with the footage from the two reported ITV gropings? You wouldn't even need a narration. Just the damn footage, followed by a quote from Arnold himself, speaking directly to the question of his personal behavior: "Nothing Will Haunt Me."
The news media would run the ad itself for free a hundred times, debating its merits but mostly enjoying the lurid celebrity sex appeal. It might even end Arnold's candidacy, since Republicans would look insanely hypocritical (even more so than normal) to back this guy while shouting "family values" et al.
I've called the anti-recall people here in California and tried to alert them to this, but they don't seem terribly organized. If I have to, I'll try to get the tapes from Channel 4 and ITV and march them into Grey Davis' office myself... and if they don't want them, I'll give them to Arianna, and if she doesn't, then Gary Coleman...
The law of unintended consequences, cont'd
From this morning's New York Times:
Of course, we should be glad that the Iraq war was swifter than even its proponents had expected, and that a vicious tyrant was removed from power. But the aftermath has been another story. America has created — not through malevolence but through negligence — precisely the situation the Bush administration has described as a breeding ground for terrorists: a state unable to control its borders or provide for its citizens' rudimentary needs.
So maybe there really is a "flypaper strategy," or at least an unintended "flypaper byproduct"-- if by "flypaper" you mean "creating even more terrorists and sending them in to kill our own troops and civilians."
Carnage=victory. Great plan, guys.
Or as Maureen Dowd puts it:
The Bush team has now created the very monster that it conjured up to alarm Americans into backing a war on Iraq.
Meanwhile, of course, the Bush Administration continues to support the troops in its own inimitable fashion.
August 19, 2003
Event went well, thanks to all who attended. More later, I'm beat.
(Whole lot of attempted-virus spam in the mailbox, is this just me or is everyone getting it?)
Update (Wed): Well, yes. Not much more to add, really, except to reiterate my sincere thanks to all who attended and especially to those who bought books. Someday I'll write about all the behind the scenes stuff going on, but for now, suffice it to say that your overwhelming show of support was exactly what the doctor ordered, and it is appreciated. And my apologies to those of you in the back, for the tiny monitor--it wasn't exactly the setup I had asked for, but I think everything worked out pretty well anyway.
And about that virus, apparently, no, it is not just me.
If you're in the area, please come by. Some various bigwigs are going to be watching this one and as I mentioned below, it would be extraordinarily helpful to have them see a large and enthusiastic crowd. The publishing industry is the damndest thing--I know of no other industry which puts so much work into producing a product, and then so little work into selling it. There are many battles being fought behind the scenes right now, and a successful event tonight will tilt the odds a bit more in my favor. And anyway, much wacky fun will be had.
Afterthought: I owe a great debt to those of you who purchased the book in advance, and if you bring your copies tonight, I will definitely sign them. Not sure what the store's policy is on that, but in any case, don't let them scare you off.
You can't expect him to keep track of every detail
President Bush once again demonstrates his keen grasp of the situation:
"We've got about 10,000 troops there, which is down from, obviously, major combat operations," he said. "And they're there to provide security and they're there to provide reconstruction help. But both those functions are being gradually replaced by other troops. Germany, for example, is now providing the troops for ISAF [International Security Assistance Force], which is the security force for Afghanistan, under NATO control. In other words, more and more coalition forces and friends are beginning to carry a lot of the burden in Afghanistan."
Happy Overthrow Day!
Fifty years ago today, the CIA helped overthrow Mossadegh in Iran, installing the Shah in his place, setting into motion a chain of events which would eventually lead to the revolution in 1979 and the rise of militant Islamic fundamentalism in the region--and therefore arguably, at least in part, to the events of September 11, 2001.
It's called the Law of Unintended Consequences, and as any small town sherriff will be happy to tell you, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
(A good book on the subject is All the Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer.)
I would still very much like to be a guest on the Daily Show
August 18, 2003
Latest report is five thousand dead in France from the heat wave.
Can't wait to see what fun the yuksters at the Washington Post editorial page have with that.
Of course they do
From the news section (as distinct from the increasingly insane editorial page) of the Washington Post:
The Bush administration intends to side with a Senate Republican attempt to freeze a disputed regulatory proposal meant to strengthen the nation's aging power transmission system, which was blamed in last week's massive blackout, a senior administration official said yesterday.
Why do I have this feeling that last week's events were a precursor of the shape of things to come?
While I was out
Went out for a couple of hours last night, and when I got home, I discovered to my complete astonishment that my cable tv and cable modem problems had miraculously vanished, and I was once again an active participant in the information grid. I suppose it is possible that Time Warner actually did something right for a change, but Occam's Razor probably applies here--divine intervention is a far more likely possibility.
One of the things I missed during the incredible hardship of my weekend on dialup was this extraordinary Washington Post editorial which has great fun with those whining Europeans and their so-called "heat wave":
TO LISTEN TO THE FUSS Europeans are making about their weather, anyone would think that it was actually hot over there. In Paris, shops have experienced a run on electric fans. In Sweden, a male bus driver showed up for work in a skirt after his company informed him that he was not allowed to wear shorts. In Amsterdam, zookeepers are giving iced fruit to their chimpanzees to cool them off.
You've particularly got to enjoy the last line of this editorial--which was published the morning before a massive swath of North America lost power:
Not all Europeans may want to go this far -- but maybe they will now at least stop turning up their noses at those American summer inventions they've long loved to mock: The office window that doesn't open, the air conditioner that produces sub-arctic temperatures and the tall glass of water, served in a restaurant, filled to the brim.
Yeah, those sub-arctic temperatures and windows that don't open, baby. We know how to do it right--hey, where'd the lights go?
And about those whining Europeans for whom the Post has such mirthful contempt--well, there's this:
PARIS - Gravediggers were called back to work on a national holiday Friday to deal with the grim aftermath of a heat wave that left up to 3,000 dead in France.
Ha, ha! Foolish French people, and their silly complaints!
(Links via Uggabugga.)
Movable Type 2.63
Dykes to Watch Out For
Get Your War On
Jack Chick Publications
Mikhaela Blake Reid
Tom the Dancing Bug
Too Much Coffee Man
Zippy the Pinhead
Other Friends of TMW