Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blog Power

by Glenn Greenwald

This achievement by Crooks & Liars is both extremely significant and well-deserved:

A small cluster of power bloggers — focused on politics, blogging and humor — were responsible for the top 100 blog posts for 2006, according to word-of-mouth measurement firm Nielsen BuzzMetrics. . . .

Crooks and Liars' posts on Stephen Colbert's monologue at the White House, and Keith Olbermann commentary on Rumsfeld, were the number 2 and 3 posts, respectively.

Beyond those two posts, posts from C&L also occupied the number 5 position (Olbermann's remarks on President Bush) and the 7 position (Al Gore's SNL would-be "presidential address"). That means that of the 10 most linked-to posts for all of 2006, 4 of them — 40% — came from one blog: C&L. Only one post from a top Bush-loving blog made the list (a Michelle Malkin rant on the Mohammed cartoons).

There are literally millions of blogs now. For one single blog, on its own, to generate 40% of the ten most linked-to posts for the year is a truly remarkable achievement. It is a testament to the uniquely valuable role C&L plays in the blogosphere — not only in providing invaluable video content but, more importantly, in helping to shape the dialogue and agenda for the liberal blogosphere as a whole.

By definition, any blogger who blogs regularly works very hard. But few, if any, work as hard as John Amato does. Maintaining this site is incredibly labor-intensive, and a person would do this only if they were driven by genuine passion to develop a meaningful alternative to our broken national media and rotting Beltway political institutions. The power of the blogosphere — particularly the liberal/anti-Bush blogosphere — is growing inexorably, and C&L (which includes everyone who helps to maintain it) is playing a central role in that development.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Scarborough Fair

Crooks & Liars

[MSNBC's Joe] Scarborough has made a definite turn-around on Bush over the past year, but it hasn't been as evident as it was on Wednesday's Scarborough Country. Joe appears to be totally fed up with the non-stop spin and ignorance coming from the White House and Bush's press conference apparently put the final nail in that coffin. While discussing Bush's possible plan of increasing troop levels, regardless of what the generals say, Scarborough even mentioned how there would be impeachment talk if Clinton was President and saying he would ignore our top military commanders.

Video - WMV Video - QT

"There's something almost kind of alarming about it."
--panelist Michael Crowley (The New Republic)

Colbert on Time's POY


Saturday, December 16, 2006 Person of the Year: You -- Dec. 25, 2006 -- Page 1

"Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?
The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It's a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who's out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you're not just a little bit curious.

Friday, December 08, 2006

At least it's not perfidy ... [UPDATED]

talkingpointsmemo / TPM Muckracker

The times, they are a-changin'. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), in a speech on the Iraq War last night:

"I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal."

Read the whole thing here.

You can see video of the speech here.

More excerpts:

"When we came to the vote on Iraq, it was an issue of great moment for me. No issue is more difficult to vote on than war and peace, because it involves the lives of our soldiers, our young men and women. It involves the expenditure of our treasure, putting on the line the prestige of our country. It is not a vote taken lightly. I have tried to be a good soldier in this Chamber. I have tried to support our President, believing at the time of the vote on the war in Iraq that we had been given good intelligence and knowing that Saddam Hussein was a menace to the world, a brutal dictator, a tyrant by any standard, and one who threatened our country in many different ways, through the financing and fomenting of terrorism. For those reasons and believing that we would find weapons of mass destruction, I voted aye.

"I have been rather silent on this question ever since. I have been rather quiet because, when I was visiting Oregon troops in Kirkuk in the Kurdish area, the soldiers said to me: Senator, don't tell me you support the troops and not our mission. That gave me pause. But since that time, there have been 2,899 American casualties. There have been over 22,000 American men and women wounded. There has been an expenditure of $290 billion a figure that approaches the expenditure we have every year on an issue as important as Medicare. We have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation by my estimation.

"Now, as I witness the slow undoing of our efforts there, I rise to speak from my heart. I was greatly disturbed recently to read a comment by a man I admire in history, one Winston Churchill, who after the British mandate extended to the peoples of Iraq for 5 years, wrote to David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England: 'At present we are paying 8 millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano.'"

"When I read that, I thought, not much has changed. We have to learn the lessons of history and sometimes they are painful because we have made mistakes."

* * * *

"Many things have been attributed to George Bush. I have heard him on this floor blamed for every ill, even the weather. But I do not believe him to be a liar. I do not believe him to be a traitor, nor do I believe all the bravado and the statements and the accusations made against him. I believe him to be a very idealistic man. I believe him to have a stubborn backbone. He is not guilty of perfidy, but I do believe he is guilty of believing bad intelligence and giving us the same."

* * * *

"I welcome the Iraq Study Group's report, but if we are ultimately going to retreat, I would rather do it sooner than later. I am looking for answers, but the current course is unacceptable to this Senator. I suppose if the President is guilty of one other thing, I find it also in the words of Winston Churchill. He said:

After the First World War, let us learn our lessons. Never, never believe that any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on this strange voyage can measure the tides and the hurricanes. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.

* * * *

"We were not prepared to win the peace by clearing, holding, and building. You don't do that fast and you don't do it with too few troops. I believe now that we must either determine to do that , or we must redeploy in a way that allows us to continue to prosecute the larger war on terror. It will not be pretty. We will pay a price in world opinion. But I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run, or cut and walk, or let us fight the war on terror more intelligently than we have, because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way.

"Those are my feelings. I regret them. I would have never voted for this conflict had I reason to believe that the intelligence we had was not accurate. It was not accurate, but that is history. Now we must find a way to make the best of a terrible situation, at a minimum of loss of life for our brave fighting men and women. So I will be looking for every opportunity to clear, build, hold, and win or how to bring our troops home."


editorial comment

The inaccuracy of the pre-war intelligence on WMD is indeed "history," but as Senator Smith said a little earlier in his speech, "We have to learn the lessons of history and sometimes they are painful because we have made mistakes."

To learn the lessons of this important bit of recent history, it is necessary to focus intesely on how it came to pass that Senator Smith and all of his similarly situated congressional colleagues came to believe this flawed intelligence. It is true that we must now "find a way to make the best of a terrible situation"; but this goal is not inconsistent with actually learning history's painful lessons. If we want to avoid policy disasters like the Iraq War in the future, how does it help us to gloss over the reality of how we got into the Iraq War?

Senator Smith does not lay a foundation for his stated beliefs about the president's veracity and culpability. He is not willing, as so many seem not (yet) willing, to turn his gaze the last little inch and face the sun directly, i.e., to deal head-on with the awful implications of the accumulating historical record.

Not perfidy? Maybe not. But why not? Because he says so? Because of some taboo? Because it would be too disruptive to our system of government to insist on actual accountability, all the way up to the oval office? What? I don't get it. Is it unmentionable? A secret? What excuses him from addressing the merits presented by the prima facie historical record? (By which I mean to suggest a direct analogy to the truth-seeking mechanism of our justice system, and specifically the burden-shifting effect of a sufficient prima facie showing by a party seeking to avoid a summary judgment.)

UPDATE 12/11/06:

from crooks & liars

Senator Smith joined Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room today and explained his new stance on Iraq.

Video-WMP :: Video-QT

(rough transcript)

Sen. Smith: I simply hit the end of the rope if you will. I felt I had to speak up because if these sacrifices are being made in pursuit of policy that cannot succeed then we need to admit it and readjust in a way that the American people and our soldiers find worth the sacrifice and this is not.—I find examples like the British generals day after day in the first world war would send thousands of their men running into machine guns and not make adjustments. I find that criminal.

And when we send our young folks out in vehicles that cannot take out, er, er accept these kind of blasts to them without taking their lives I don;t find that smart. I find that derelict in duty…
Blitzer: Who should be held accountable–I'll just use a word "fiasco" or disaster or some word along those lines?

Sen. Smith: Well, I think all of us with positions of responsibility are accountable. but clearly I can't be quiet any more.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You're not and you don't.

David Corn

The [Iraq Study Group] report is both a political and policy document. By declaring that Bush's current approach is misguided, the Baker-Hamilton commission creates greater space for a debate over alternatives. Its report undermines Bush's recent claims that 'we're winning' in Iraq and that he has 'a strategy for victory.' You're not and you don't, the report retorts (between the lines). This slap from Baker and the other Republican members (former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Senator Alan Simpson, and former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger) is significant. When has such a group of Washington influentials offered a stinging indictment--even if gently--of the defining mission of a president from their own party? This report comes close to being a vote of no confidence from the Republican elite.

UPDATE 12/7/06:

David Corn

Below is another take I did on the Iraq Study Group report, this one for the "Comment Is Free" group blog of The Guardian. But before you get to that, let me point you toward the best piece on Iraq I've read in years. It's by Bill Edmonds, a major in the US Army Special Forces who has served in Iraq, and the article appears on the website of The Nation magazine, my home base. Regular readers know that I don't often heap praise, and I am unfamiliar with the author. I will not spoil the reading experience by summarizing Edmonds' article. Just take my word and click here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Andrew Sullivan 12/2/06

There is a mood on the right at this moment that is not entirely rational. They are lashing out at the people who can rescue them from the folly of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld policy in Iraq. They are viciously attacking those who have had the temerity to expain why they lost the last election. And they are throwing the vilest of epithets at James Baker. Please. This is not 1991. They are as graceless in defeat now as they were hubristic in premature victory three years ago. Or to put it more precisely, they are exactly what National Review accuses the Baker-Hamilton Commission of being: "driven by their own internal dynamics rather than by any connection to the real world."

It's over, guys. Your beloved Bush administration botched this so badly it's irrecoverable. You enabled them. You never fully took them on when it would have counted - and you trashed those of us who did. You knew this before the 2004 election and still cynically played the anti-Kerry card for all it was worth, telling yourselves you could sway Rummy after the election. Well, you couldn't and you didn't. Your policy was sabotaged by a defense secretary who never believed in it and by a president too weak and out-of-it to rein him in. Get over yourselves and recognize that this dream has died. And we have to fight the nightmare we now face rather than pretend your dream is still even on life-support. That's the patriotic responsibility at this point. And no, I'm not impugning your patriotism. I'm asking you to place it before your shattered dreams.