Monday, January 29, 2007

Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation - New York Times

Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation - New York Times:

"WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 — President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities. "

Fleischer Tags Libby and Confesses Leaking [Updated]

David Corn
The Nation

Taking the witness stand in the Scooter Libby trial on Monday, Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's former press secretary, could not rely on his old friends, spin and deny. Instead, he shared an account that harmed Libby's defense, that spared the White House a new embarrassment, and that created a riddle.

Testifying as a prosecution witness, Fleischer--who cooperated with special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald only after pleading the Fifth Amendment and obtaining immunity--told the jurors of a lunch he had with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on July 7, 2003. This was one day after former Ambassador Joseph Wilson published an op-ed piece asserting he had inside information showing the White House had twisted the prewar intelligence and a week before the leak outing his wife as a CIA officer appeared in rightwing journalist Robert Novak's column. At the lunch, Libby, according to Fleischer, passed along what Fleischer considered an intriguing "nugget" of information: that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and had sent her husband on the fact-finding trip to Niger during which Wilson concluded that the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium there was highly dubious. Libby was even specific about where Wilson's wife worked within the CIA: the Counterproliferation Division, a unit in the agency's clandestine operations directorate. Fleischer said that Libby mentioned the name of Wilson's wife and told him, "This is hush-hush, this is on the QT, not very many people know about this." Fleischer had not heard anything previously about Valerie Wilson.

The conversation was "odd," Fleischer testified. He noted that this was the first time he ever had lunch with Libby and that the vice president's chief of staff was not someone whom Fleischer considered a "source"--that is, a fellow White House official who would regularly tell Fleischer what was happening within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Usually when Fleischer asked Libby questions about White House policies or actions, the "typical response," he said, was that Libby would tell him to check with Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser. ... [s]ee the book I co-wrote with Michael Isikoff: HUBRIS: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War.)


Fleischer testified confidently, as a fellow accustomed to fielding tough questions could be expected to do. He also admitted that he, too, had leaked information about Valerie Wilson to reporters.

This is what happened, Fleischer said: A day or so after his lunch with Libby, he was on Air Force One in a staff cabin. The president was touring Africa, and the Wilson controversy was raging, as reporters continued to hurl questions at the White House about Bush's use of the Niger charge in his prewar State of the Union. Fleischer was reading a classified CIA account of Wilson's trip that had been handed to him to by Rice. (He and other White House officials thought this document contained information that undermined Joe Wilson's criticism of the administration.) Sitting nearby was White House communications director Dan Bartlett (now counselor to the president). Bartlett was reading another document on the Wilson matter--probably a version of the State Department memo mentioned above. Bartlett, Fleischer said, exclaimed, "I can't believe he or they are saying the vice president sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger....His wife sent him. She works at the CIA." Bartlett wasn't speaking specifically to Fleischer, according to Fleischer; he was just "venting." Fleischer said nothing to Bartlett and kept on reading his own document. But he now had two sources--Libby and Bartlett--on Valerie Wilson's CIA connection.

Then on July 11, when Bush was in Uganda and visiting with children with AIDS, Fleischer sidled up to two reporters traveling with the president: David Gregory of NBC News and John Dickerson, then of Time, now of Slate. The night before, CBS News had reported that the White House had known the uranium-in-Africa charge was false at the time it was placed in Bush's speech, and Fleischer was looking to rebut this damaging charge. He told Gregory and Dickerson about Wilson's wife, hoping this would reinforce the White House claim that it had known nothing about the origins of the Wilson trip or Wilson's findings. But, according to Fleischer, the two reporters didn't react. They didn't take out their notebooks. They didn't ask follow-up questions. "Like a lot of things I said to the press," Fleischer testified. "It had no impact....This said to me that nobody really cares who sent Ambassador Wilson." Neither Gregory nor Dickerson (who was in the courtroom as Fleischer testified) broke the news about Valerie Wilson.

Full Article


John Dickerson in Slate:

I wanted to raise my hand and ask, "Your Honor, may I approach the bench?"

I was at the Scooter Libby trial to cover it, and all of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of the case. In his testimony today, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told the courtroom—which included me—that when I was a White House correspondent for Time magazine, he had told me that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

He did?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Biden, Levin on Fox

Fox News 1.21.2007
Crooks & Liars

We the Media

Updated 1/23/07: upload instructions

click image to enlarge

or see

cf. Dan Gillmor, We the Media

Friday, January 19, 2007

Growth of the Political Internet

Pew: 14 Million Online Political Activists in U.S. Today

Micah L. Sifry,
Personal Democracy Forum

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is releasing another of its ongoing reports tracking Americans' use of the internet today (and someone leaked us an advance copy), and this report contains some really important news:

* More than 60 million people (31% of all Americans online) say they were online during the 2006 campaign to get information about candidates and/or exchange views via email. They call this growing group "campaign internet users." This group trends young (duh); wealthy; well-educated; and somewhat more white than of color (33% of white Americans vs 23% of blacks and Hispanics).

* People with broadband connections at home (now 45% of the overall adult population, compared to 3% in 2000) are far more likely to use the net for political news. In particular, people under 36 are twice as likely to cite the net as their main source of political news, compared to newspapers.

* By far the most interesting discovery from their survey: 23% of campaign internet users has either posted their own political commentary to the web via a blog, site or newsgroup (8%); forwarded or posted someone else's commentary (13%); created political audio or video (1%); forwarded someone else's audio or video (8%). "That translates into about 14 million people who were using the 'read-write Web' to contribute to political discussion and activity," the study's authors Lee Rainie and John Horrigan write.

* This group, which Pew labels "online political activists," is disproportionately liberal. "Some 15% of internet users who describe themselves as liberals are such online activists, compared with 9% of online conservatives," Rainie and Horrigan note.

* Big news portals like Google News and major TV network sites like are by far the most popular destinations for campaign internet users, beating blogs by 3-1 (60% to 20%). And satirical sites like the Onion or the Daily Show are as popular as official candidate sites (19% to 20%).

* Asked about their news consumption on the day prior to the survey, nearly one in ten Americans said they watched TV news on something other than a TV. Nearly one in six said they read a newspaper online, rather than in print.

* The most common use of the net is to find out candidate positions on issues or voting records, followed by efforts to check the accuracy of claims made by them or about them.

* While campaign internet users and the more intensely engaged subgroup of online political activists tend to go often to sites that share their point of view, that behavior is by no means dominant. Between a fifth and a quarter of those groups say they also use sites that "challenge my point of view."

A few observations. One, I just want to commend Pew for modifying its survey to take into account the changing reality of net-politics. They no longer define campaign internet users solely on the basis of news consumption online; they also include people who send or receive emails about campaigns in that group. This shows they understand, finally, that the net is a two-way, peer-to-peer medium, not just another channel for campaigns to broadcast messages at voters.

Second, I must say that I am not surprised by the size of the "online political activist" pool. Seasoned web organizers like Zack Exley have tried to estimate the size of the Democratic-left online base using cumulative email list totals from various sources and come up with numbers like eight to ten million, if memory serves. I'd say the Republican online base is probably as big on paper, but given the GOP's tendency to append email addresses to its lists, rather than grow them organically, the active online rightwing is probably not as big as the left. Fourteen million adults seems like a reasonable estimate.

Third, I'm sorry that Pew doesn't survey people under the age of 18, since their online habits are the most intriguing and many of these kids will soon be voters. But this survey confirms what we already know; the young are already living in a future where the net is THE main source of news AND a place to participate in making or commenting on that news.

Fourth, Pew's findings again suggest that the much-feared "Daily Me" balkanization and creation of self-reinforcing echo-chambers doesn't appear to really be a problem. Folks online are probably exposed to as much, or more, information that challenges their point of view as anyone else.

Finally, and this is just speculation, but this report suggests to me that the online political universe, and blogging in particular, may be reaching a plateau. While it's true that far more people went to the net for political news and participation in 2006 than in the previous midterm election cycle of 2002, that is both a reflection of the expansion of broadband penetration and of the fact that the prospect of political change made this election pretty engaging. What the survey doesn't show is a concomitant expansion in blog usage over 2004, if I'm not mistaken. So perhaps there are limits to the number of people who are attracted to political blogs? Or maybe the form needs some refreshing?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

YouTube - Keith Olbermann & Jonathan Turley - 1/17/07

YouTube - Keith Olbermann & Jonathan Turley - 1/17/07:

"Keith Olbermann & Jonathan Turley - 1/17/07"

Senator Hagel on CNN with Wolf Blitzer

Senator Chuck Hagel Interview
Aired January 17, 2007 - 16:00 ET

WOLF BLITZER: Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is proving once again today that he's one of the Bush administration's toughest critics when it comes to the war in Iraq. The Nebraskan's decision to team up with Democrats on the resolution opposing a troop build-up is a new slap at the president. The Vietnam War veteran hasn't ruled out a run for the White House in 2008, a race that's already being defined by the war in Iraq. Joining us now, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. He's a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: You've said that this is the worst foreign policy disaster for the United States, the war in Iraq, since the Vietnam War. Who do you blame?

HAGEL: Well, I think we could assign blame all around, Wolf. But the real issue is how do we move forward? How do we get out of this? We don't walk away and leave a mess, which we already have. We've got to think it through. That's going to require the American people being behind the president with a policy that can be sustained. That means a bipartisan consensus in the Congress. That's what Senators Biden and Levin and I introduced today. I think you're seeing a number of senators and congressmen over the last few days start to express themselves rather directly about what the president proposed Wednesday night. I don't believe that the best interests of our country, for the long-term and short-term, is served by escalating our military involvement in Iraq. Wolf, we've been there almost four years, thousands of American casualties, tens of thousands wounded, almost a half a trillion dollars spent. This is a tribal, sectarian civil war that has now embroiled Iraq. Yes, the territorial integrity of Iraq is critical for the Iraqis to have any opportunity to sort this out themselves, and we can help preserve that. We can't just pull out, nor should we, nor will we. But we've got to be wiser in how we use our people. To feed more young men and women into a civil war that we cannot stop or change is wrong. And it is devastating our military. It's devastating our standing in the Middle East. It's hurting our budget. It's destroying our military. So we need a new course of action. And only a sustained, bipartisan position that the American people will support will -- will be required to finish this over the next few years. And that's what we were talking about today.

BLITZER: A few years, Senator? You think this is going to go on a few more years?

HAGEL: Oh, of course it's going to go on a few more years. And the real question that we have to ask ourselves, Wolf, is what America's role is going to be in that -- that next step that the Iraqis are going to have to take. They are going to be the ones that will determine the fate of their country. We can't do that. We can help them. A number of the Baker-Hamilton Commission recommendations put forward, I thought, was representative of a good, new bipartisan foundation the president could have seized upon, using diplomacy, using our military force, using our influence to bring together a new framework, a new frame of reference for the future. How this all plays out in Iraq, I don't know. But I think what some of us are saying here, we're no longer going to just quietly stand by, as we have done, literally, for four years, and let more of our young Americans be thrown into this battle when they cannot change the outcome. This is an internal issue and the Iraqis themselves are going to have to sort this out. They must want their own freedom, their own future, more than we want it for them.

BLITZER: All right, senator, the White House has already said today that the resolution that you and Senator Levin and Senator Biden want to put forward is not going to affect the president's policies. They're going to go forward with their surge, as they call it, the increase of the U.S. troops. What else should be done if they ignore this symbolic, non- binding resolution?

HAGEL: Well, let's start with the fact that we have a form of government, Wolf, that represents co-equal branches of government. Article 1 of the constitution is not the presidency, it's the Congress. We have separation of powers, as it should be. But we have a co-equal branch of government. We need to be part of any resolution in foreign policy or any policy for our country. We have essentially walked away from that the last four years. So when the president talks about or his administration spokesmen say that regardless of what the Senate does or the Congress does in any resolution, we're not going to pay heed to that, I think they'll want to review that, because here is the way a democracy works, if people have forgotten. November 7th, the people of this country changed the management in Congress. It was over one issue more than any other, and it was Iraq. Seventy-three percent that I've seen in the last poll, and I believe it was your poll, last week, 73 percent of the people of America said that they disapproved of this administration's handling of Iraq. That should tell everyone something. There's accountability in leadership. There should be. There is accountability in politics.


HAGEL: Now, this is just the beginning, Wolf. This thing is going to play out over the next few months, with appropriations, more resolutions. You saw Senator Clinton's introduction of a bill today. This is just the beginning.

BLITZER: Well, she says there should be a cap, a ceiling, how many U.S. troops should be allowed to serve in Iraq. Do you support that?

HAGEL: Well, I haven't looked at it yet. But my point is this. There is going to be more than one resolution introduced. There's going to be more than one bill introduced. This is the biggest issue facing our country since Vietnam. It is dividing our nation, Wolf. It is dangerous for our country. It's dangerous for the world. The Congress needs to be part of this. The American people must come to some consensus, with some confidence, that somebody is mature up here, somebody is looking out for the interests of this country in the longer-term and the Congress needs to be part of that.

There must be a national debate on this issue, Wolf, and we haven't had one. There now will be and if the administration thinks that they can disregard whatever actions the Congress may take -- I can't predict what will happen -- I think they'll want to reevaluate this. This is not a monarchy, Wolf. We tried that once. It didn't work.

BLITZER: We're out of time, senator. A very quick question. Are you getting closer to a final decision whether or not to run for president?

HAGEL: I'll let you know, Wolf. I've got to make a decision soon and I will make that decision.

BLITZER: All right, we'll stand by for that, senator. Thanks very much. HAGEL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska joining us. And let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's got The Cafferty File in New York -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: How tough is that? You've got a Republican senator standing there saying this is not a monarchy? I mean that's pretty heavy artillery...

BLITZER: And he's a very...

CAFFERTY: ... coming from a member...

BLITZER: He's a very blunt guy. He's very outspoken, very smart.

CAFFERTY: Yes, he is.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Associated Press, Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:14 PM ET
via Huff Po & Yahoo! News & CNN

WASHINGTON - Comedian Al Franken has reached out to Democratic lawmakers from Minnesota in recent days, seeking advice on a possible Senate run against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman next year.

Franken, a veteran of "Saturday Night Live" and radio show host, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he's called all of the Democrats in the delegation.

"I didn't call Coleman," he deadpanned. "I want to mainly touch base and get advice and counsel on certain issues."

Franken said he's also been reaching out to campaign veterans, pollsters and others to get their advice. While people have been encouraging, Franken said, they've also warned about possible pitfalls.

One in particular, Franken relayed: "It's unknown how people will respond to a comedian running for the Senate. I need to figure out a way to let people know I'm extremely serious about Minnesotans and their lives."

Franken said he hopes to make a decision in the next few weeks. Last year, he moved his radio show from New York City to Minneapolis.

Rep. Collin Peterson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said that when he picked up the phone, the first thing Franken said was, "I need you to explain countercyclical payments to me."

Right on schedule. As Franken wrote in his 2005 book, The Truth (with jokes), the last chapter of which is a prospectively retrospective look at the 8 years of George W. Bush's administration in the form of a 2015 letter from Franken to his future grandkids:

. . .. ... .. . .

flash forward 6.30.2009

flash forward: September 2009, on the job at the Minnesota State Fair ...

see also Frankentone

MTV to buy | CNET

MTV to buy CNET

"MTV Networks, a division of Viacom, announced Wednesday that it has agreed to acquire The company says the acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of March 2007. The site, which allows college students to share information on the performance of college professors, has more than 6.6 million ratings on more than 900,000 college professors and is visited by more than 10 million college students, according to MTV Networks. will become a part of MTV Network's, an online channel of job listings, philanthropy projects, campus news, music and videos for college students, as well as a campus television production company. The deal represents the company's goal to grows its college student market 'on-air, online and on campus,' the company said in a statement. In August 2006, MTV Networks bought Y2M: Youth Media & Market Networks, the parent company of College Publisher, an online college newspaper network. Since then, College Publisher has grown to include 500 online college newspapers." - Professor Reviews and Ratings - K-12 Teacher Ratings by Students and Parents

Daily Kos: Gonzales Then, Gonzales Now

Daily Kos: Gonzales Then, Gonzales Now

Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 10:28:08 AM PST

Following up on Kagro's post, Big Tent Dem at TalkLeft discusses Gonzales's evolving views of the Constitutional responsibilities of the judiciary and executive branches, and makes the case for Gonzales's impeachment.

During his confirmation hearings, Gonzales was asked his views on the power of the executive as Commander-in-Chief:

SEN. DURBIN: But you believe he has that authority; he could ignore a law passed by this Congress, signed by this president or another one, and decide that it is unconstitutional and refuse to comply with that law?

MR. GONZALES: Senator, again, you're asking me where the -- hypothetically, does that authority exist? And I guess I would have to say that hypothetically that authority may exist. But let me also just say that we certainly understand and recognize the role of the courts in our system of government. We have to deal with some very difficult issues here, very, very complicated. Sometimes the answers are not so clear. The president's position on this is that ultimately the judges, the courts will make the decision as to whether or not we've drawn the right balance here. And in certain circumstance the courts have agreed with the administration positions; in certain circumstances, the courts have disagreed. And we will respect those decisions.

SEN. DURBIN:...I'm troubled that you would think, as our incoming attorney general, that a president can pick or choose the laws that he thinks are unconstitutional and ultimately wait for that test in court to decide whether or not he's going to comply with the law.

MR. GONZALES: Senator, you asked me whether or not it was theoretically possible that the Congress could pass a law that we would view as unconstitutional. My response was -- is that obviously we would take that very, very seriously, look at that very carefully. But I suppose it is theoretically possible that that would happen. Let me just add one final point. We in the executive branch, of course, understand that there are limits upon presidential power; very, very mindful of Justice O'Connor's statement in the Hamdi decision that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president of the United States" with respect the rights of American citizens. I understand that, and I agree with that.

That understanding and agreement with Justice O'Connor's Hamdi statement, and any pretense of the Bush administration actually complying with it, has apparently flown right out the window. With this statement today, Gonzales says the judiciary should just ignore its Constitutional responsibility when Bush says so:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says federal judges are unqualified to make rulings affecting national security policy, ramping up his criticism of how they handle terrorism cases. In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who "apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences."

Given this repudiation of the Constitution, coming from the Attorney General of the United States, Big Tent Dem is right:

Alberto Gonzales should never have been confirmed as Attorney General. His conduct in office confirms our judgment at the time. His speech today makes clear that he must be removed from office. He will not respect the Constitution and the laws of the United States. These views are simply unacceptable in the Nation's chief law enforcement officer. He must go.

It's time to take John Dean's advice: impeachment should start with the Cabinet, Alberto Gonzales first.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rich Content: Daily Kos - The Case of the Dissappearing U.S. Attorneys

This post from Daily Kos gets you up to speed on the Bush Admistration's unprecedented firing of at least 7 U.S. attorneys from around the country. It does so in a way that is so much richer than the evening news could ever hope for.

Daily Kos: The Case of the Disappearing U.S. Attorneys

(I've copied their HTML)

by mcjoan

Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 06:58:51 PM PST

TPMmuckraker has been following the administration's mass firing of U.S. attorneys around the country. Seven, possibly eight, prosecutors have left office in the past five weeks, some being forced out by the administration all for unknown reasons. According to Senator Feinstein, the White House has informed her that they will be replacing as many as 10 attorneys with interim appointees.

These interim appointees can be appointed to office without going through the usual process of Senate hearings under an apparently unexamined bit of the PATRIOT Act:

Section 502 of the PATRIOT Act reauthorization, which was first drafted in July of 2005 and finally signed in March of 2006, changed the law regarding the appointment of U.S. Attorneys. Whereas before the relevant federal district court would have appointed a replacement within 120 days after the Attorney General picked one, now that pick stood without challenge.

These interim appointees would stay in office for the duration of the administration. It is still unclear what the White House is up to in replacing these prosecutors, most of whom (if not all) were Bush appointees. The Senate Judiciary Committee is going to attempt to find out in an oversight hearing on Thursday. Senators Feinstein and Pryor have also demanded that the power to appoint these positions be taken away from Gonzales and given to federal district judges.
Here's Sen. Feinstein's floor statement on the issue today.

See homeland observer's diary for ongoing discussion of the issue.

"What's An Appropriate Way To Dissent"?

TPM Cafe
By Greg Sargent (bio)

In today's press briefing, David Gregory pointed out that Dems opposing this or that aspect of President Bush's war policies have long been painted by the White House as friends of the enemy. He then asks the key follow-up question: "What's an appropriate way to dissent?" It's a good question, and Snow has a fair amount of trouble coming up with an answer to it -- at first he appears to start denying that this charge has ever been lodged at Dems before cutting himself off.


rare editorial comment:

Tony Snow does momentarily demur to Mr. Gregory's suggestion that Mr. Snow meant to say (in earlier remarks that we don't get to hear) that the ramifications of the expression of political opposition to the troop increase are to send a bad signal to the enemy and to the troops. Mr. Gregory suggests that this is just more of the same rhetoric as the pre-election blatant accusations by the Administration that political supporters of troop withdrawal were supporting terrorists.

Mr. Snow protests that all he was saying was that opponents of the troop increase need to consider the ramifications of expressing political opposition; that they ought to think it through; that they have a calculation to make.

In other words, Mr. Snow is trying to say that his previous remarks were neutral. He said that Mr. Gregory could go back and look at the transcript, but there was no direct ... ah ...
Mr. Gregory: But aren't you suggesting that there's a negative ramification?
Mr. Snow: I'm suggesting that they need to think it through.

So: I'm suggesting that Mr. Snow needs to think it through. What he seems to want to do instead is to think it up to a certain point and then stop short. Then wave back at the transcript which nobody would ever actually look at ... ah ...


Q So when do you think General Petraeus will be on the ground in Iraq?

MR. SNOW: Well, we'll find out. As you know, that's -- the President is not in a position to dictate the calendar to Capitol Hill. But we hope that Capitol Hill -- and I think we feel confident that the Senate is going to look at this pretty quickly; they understand how important it is.

Q Okay. The sense in the Senate, this non-binding resolution, perhaps, that's going to move forward this week -- can you give a White House take on what that means, if the votes are there, that --

MR. SNOW: Well, look, they're claiming the votes are there. Again, the question you have to ask yourself is, do you understand what possible ramifications are? In an age of instant and global communication, what message does it send to the people who are fighting democracy in Iraq? And, also, what message does it send to the troops?

But, you know, the House and Senate are going to do whatever they do. What the President is determined to do is continue moving forward in a way that creates conditions for success in Iraq, which means an Iraq where the Iraqis are going to be able to keep the peace themselves, they're going to have a functioning and effective democratic government that provides political protections for all, economic opportunities for all, and a reason for Iraqis to pull together.


Q Can I just follow on that, because in the run-up to the campaign in the fall, if you were a Democrat who supported troop withdrawal, then you were branded -- from this podium and by the President -- as basically supporting terrorists; that if you made that statement, then "the terrorists would win and the U.S. would lose." That's a direct quote from the President.

Then there's an election where the American people, the President acknowledges, speak out against the war. Democrats get power, they're making a move to send a political statement that says we're opposed to this troop increase. And you're saying now the ramifications of that are is that it sends a bad signal to the enemy and to our troops.

So what is an appropriate way to dissent?

MR. SNOW: No, I said, you just take a look at what ramifications they may have. That's all I'm saying. I said that they have to make a calculation. I don't -- you can go back and look at the transcript, but there's no direct -- there's --

Q But aren't you suggesting that there's a negative ramification?

MR. SNOW: I'm suggesting that they need to think it through. And it is certainly appropriate for people to dissent. There's going to be a lot of dissent, we have acknowledged that all along. And, as a matter of fact, it's important to debate this and also to debate the proposition if, as most Democrats who have visited the President and most we've heard from, want to succeed in Iraq, if you think there's an alternative way to do it, you can really help your country by putting it forward. Because the President has invited all points of view, and we understand that in the process of winning in Iraq you have to have public support, it is helpful to have political unity and it is essential to have a full and informed public debate.

Q Just to be clear, do you believe that a non-binding resolution that opposes a troop increase, does that provide comfort to the enemy?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. I think -- the question again is, does this send a signal that the United States is divided on the key element of success in Iraq. And I will let members of Congress express themselves, because I'm sure they're going to say, no, we're committed to success, and then they can elucidate on that point.

Q Doesn't the President acknowledge that the country is divided and --

MR. SNOW: The President of course -- yes, absolutely.

Q One final one on this. What role do 2008 politics play in the maneuverings on both sides in this debate?

MR. SNOW: You know, that's probably better to ask people who may have aspirations for 2008. I think --

Q You're a seasoned --

MR. SNOW: Yes, I know, I'm a seasoned wise man. (Laughter.) I actually think it's a little early for 2008 to figure large in this. I think some people are sort of making statements within their caucuses. But, for instance, when you're talking about this debate about a resolution, I think that happens in absence of a 2008 debate. This is something that a lot of Democrats feel strongly about, including -- and the people who have been in the forefront of this are not people who are running for President.

I think presidential politics obviously is going to grow larger, in terms of its influence on the debate, both with Iraq and domestic policy as we get toward the end of the year and as we really get toward the primary season. But at this point, I don't think it's a huge factor.


Q To what extent does the President stand before Congress next Tuesday, a week from tonight, and say to them, you haven't thought this through, a resolution on Iraq would not be helpful? And what portion of the State of the Union does he have to address to Iraq?

MR. SNOW: I'll let the President -- you'll hear the State of the Union in a week. Iraq, certainly, is going to figure into it.

But, look, we are very serious about trying to work with both Houses of Congress. And so I think the message is, let's figure out how to work together around the common goal of success. And to say, you know, we are working here not merely because, you know, Americans certainly want to succeed, but the costs of failure in Iraq are enormous, they would haunt not only this, but future generations, they would extract enormous costs, not only in terms of blood and treasure, but also our possible economic security in the future. And it is important to acknowledge and figure out how best to deal with this threat now, before it metastasizes into something far worse.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Glenn Greenwald on Rod Dreher: "Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation this"?

Rod Dreher is as conservative as it gets -- a contributor to National Review and the Corner, a current columnist for The Dallas Morning News, a self-described "practicing Christian and political conservative."

Today, Dreher has an extraordinary (oral) essay at NPR in which he recounts how the conduct of President Bush (for whom he voted twice) in the Iraq War (which he supported) is causing him to question, really to abandon, the core political beliefs he has held since childhood.

Dreher, 40, recounts that his "first real political memory" was the 1979 failed rescue effort of the U.S. hostages in Iran. He says he "hated" Jimmy Carter for "shaming America before our enemies with weakness and incompetence." When Reagan was elected, he believed "America was saved." Reagan was "strong and confident." Democrats were "weak and depressed."

In particular, Dreher recounts how much, during the 1980s, he "disliked hippies - the blame America first liberals who were so hung up on Vietnam, who surrendered to Communists back then just like they want to do now." In short, Republicans were "winners." Democrats were "defeatists."

On 9/11, Dreher's first thought was : "Thank God we have a Republican in the White House." The rest of his essay:
As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.

But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.

In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.

The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.

It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.

I turn 40 next month -- middle aged at last -- a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully.

I did not expect Vietnam.

As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.

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.

On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?

Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day what powerful men, whom their father once believed in, did to this country? Heavy thoughts for someone who is still a conservative despite it all. It was a long drive home.
Dreher's essay is extreme and intense but also increasingly commonplace and illustrative. The disaster of unparalleled magnitude that President Bush and his integrity-free and bloodthirsty administration and followers wrought on this country will have a profound impact not only on American strength and credibility for a long, long time to come, but also on the views of Americans towards their political leaders and, almost certainly, towards the Republican Party.

One of the very few potential benefits of the Iraq tragedy is that it may raise the level of doubt and cynicism with which Americans evaluate the claims of the Government when it tries -- as Dreher put it -- "to send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot."

(h/t to a distraught, disoriented Jonah Goldberg, struggling lamely to dismiss and belittle the insights of his fellow Cornerite)

UPDATE: Barbara O'Brien has some interesting observations about Dreher's confessional, as well as some thoughts about the process by which Dreher was molded by his childhood perceptions into a modern-day "conservative."

Andrew Sullivan on Dreher's confessional.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Polls and the Surge

Andrew Sullivan

Mark Blumenthal notes a wide discrepancy in the polls about support for a surge - but all of them are anemic. Below is Charles Franklin's helpful graph on public attitudes to the war over the last four years. The last time more than 50 percent of the American public believed the Iraq war was "worth it" was in early 2004. Here's Franklin's analysis.

the constitution vs. the president's grandiosity


Paul Kiel's got more of our run-down here on the war-financing issues related to President Bush's claim to be a king. But it occurs to me that this 'debate' is really only a debate if you see this not as wrestling over policy between the president and the Congress but as President Bush as an epochal figure, a man of destiny in a grand historical struggle who has powers to answer to grander than Congress or the constitution. I know that may seem like hyperbole saying that. But if you listen to this conversation, I really think that's the subtext. Sure, Congress has the power of the purse, the thinking seems to go. But this is bigger than Congress. Bigger than the niceties of the constitution. This is his rendezvous with destiny in Iraq, the key battle in World War IV or IX (I don't remember which we're up to.)

At a certain level this isn't that complicated. The president and the Congress have a set of intentionally countervailing powers. And it is within that framework that we, as a nation, hash out our direction on great matters of the day like this one. But what I'm hearing is that what President Bush is up to in Iraq is bigger than all that.

And that leaves us in the dangerous position of the constitution vs. the president's grandiosity.

--Josh Marshall

Generation Next

Andrew Sullivan

The Pew Research Center has just done their latest survey (PDF) of attitudes among the young. They are markedly less religious than their elders - and previous generations. The percentage claiming they are agnostic or atheist has doubled in twenty years to one in five today; they regard heavy drinking as worse than smoking pot; they have become much less Republican than they once were. George W. Bush has persuaded most of the younger generation to vote Democratic, reversing Reagan's gains among the young. They are much more pro-immigrant than their elders and 74 percent favor some privatizing of social security (yay!); but they're dovish on the use of military force. They are divided equally on gay marriage (47 - 46 in favor, compared to 64 - 30 against among those over 25) but overwhelmingly support gay adoption. I find myself sympathetic to most of their views. Maybe my views are getting younger as my beard gets grayer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Surge of Constitutionalism

Gary Hart
Huffington Post

The endless Iraq war is decreasingly about Iraq and increasingly about the U.S. Constitution.

President Bush's decision to escalate the war, and to further Americanize it, is based on his flawed and dangerous theory of the "unitary presidency," a theory under which, once war is declared, the president as commander in chief can ignore constitutional checks and balances, disregard the bill of rights, suspend accountability, and concentrate dictatorial power in his own hands.

History has already judged the invasion and occupation of Iraq as an American disaster of epic proportions. But an even more important judgment remains to be made. What damage has been done to the U.S. Constitution and our form of government in the name of the "war on terrorism" as cover for a secret neo-conservative agenda in the Middle East?

In rendering this judgment in years to come, constitutional scholars will take into account Congress's appalling suspension of habeas corpus, its approval of torture and rendition, and its abdication of its constitutional oversight responsibilities. These congressional failures, however, will not be seen as cover or justification for an executive branch run totally amok.

George W. Bush will be held accountable in the court of history for manipulation of intelligence to serve his neo-conservative political agenda, his erosion of national security by the unnecessary exhaustion of our standing and reserve forces, his pathetic failure to respond to natural disasters, his unhinging of the national budget in the service of accumulated wealth, and his almost demented insistence that the U.S. military could put the lid back on a 1300 year old Islamic struggle that he himself had ignorantly removed.

In his adopted role as Captain Ahab, Mr. Bush will extend the tours of four combat brigades and add another to the Iraqi meat-grinder, all in the name of pacifying the capital city where, even today, F-18 aircraft are bombing neighborhoods to rout out insurgents. Thirty-five years ago in Vietnam this was called "pacification." "Secure and hold" will fail equally for a simple reason: patience. It requires no MBA from Harvard to know that occupations, unless they intend themselves to be permanent, will be defeated by insurgents waiting for the occupiers to leave. Those meant to "hold" after we "secure" are all part of a sectarian blood feud that was there long before we came and that will be there long after we leave.

All this will have to be tidied up on the watch of the unfortunate next president who must assume, on top of many other duties left unfinished, the job of restoring the health, integrity, and capability of the armed forces of the United States now so eroded by a war they should never have been called upon to wage.

* * * *

Needed now is not a surge of military forces. Needed now is a surge of citizen commitment to restore the Constitution of the United States of America.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Andrew Sullivan and Robert Wright on on the future of humanity


I enjoyed your discussion with Robert Wright on BloggingheadsTV. I also enjoy your blog.

For what it is worth, I disagree with your comments about human evolution. Here is a ding-a-link to the (as you would say) money quote:

"The pace of human technological advance is so [much] greater than the pace of human evolutionary advance."

True, but might your perspective on this whole issue change if you considered technology as an extension of human evolution? Isn't that what it is? And isn't it evolving at an accelerating rate?

Another relevant thought relates to the impact the internet is having on human society. The accelerating interconnectedness of humanity is riding that same technological curve and is also not dependent on the old fashioned pace of human biological evolution.

There is certainly more of a linked-up, global community of thought leaders today because of the internet than there was ten years ago or 100 or 1000...isn't there? Doesn't that (and its likely continuing growth on top of new technologies) impact your perspective on this issue? It sure gives me some optimism.

As Ray Kurzweil continually points out, we humans have a tendency to view technological change, e.g., as if it is happening on a linear scale because that is how we perceive it. He argues that this perspective against the reality of accelerating technological advancement (as computers, e.g., build better computers) leads to underestimating the impact of these advances.

Just wanted to share my perspective.


Disney vs Spocko

from Daily Kos: State of the Nation via Slashdot

first watch the video for the intro:

(from Mike Stark on Daily Kos)

When I started CallingAllWingnuts, one of the hundreds of bloggers that came by to introduce themselves was Spocko of Spockosbrain (now defunct, for reasons soon to become revealed). Spocko was doing some work related to my own in his own market in California's Bay Area. His target? KSFO, home of Melanie Morgan, Lee Rogers, Brian Sussman and other poisonous 2nd rate talk show wingers.

Since this is Spocko's gig, I'm gonna pretty much use his words to explain what's gone down. Before the flip, to give you something to chew on as you click to the full story, I can tell you this much: you're gonna love what you read. Spocko has actually cost Disney money - he chased away advertisers and forced them to pay a law firm to intimidate his ISP. The story isn't all good though - Spocko's broke and can't afford to wage the legal battle, so he's shut down. That said, maybe we can use this space to buck up his spirits a little bit and see if there are any lawyers that want to file a Rule 11 motion against Disney's unscrupulous lawyers...

To: Wendy Clark, VP-advertising, AT&T

Dear Ms. Clark:

Thanks to radio hosts from KSFO your brand is being associated with torturing and killing people. Would your marketing people be happy to hear your commercial ran after Lee Rogers said this about a black man in Lincoln, Nebraska?

"Now you start with the Sear's Diehard the battery cables connected to his testi*les and you entertain him with that for awhile and then you blow his bleeping head off. " (Audio link)

You should know the person calling for the execution and torture of the black man in that clip READS THE AT&T commercials on the air. Right now on KSFO Lee Rogers is THE VOICE of AT&T to the SF Bay area. (Audio Link)

Sadly, calling for the death and torture of individuals and groups of people is a regular occurrence on KSFO 560 AM, owned by ABC Radio Disney.

Another example: immediately after the 6 am ABC Radio news on October 27th:

Lee Rogers: I say they catch the person, tie 'em to a post and burn 'em. Set 'em on fire.

Officer Vic: Yeah.

Lee Rogers: Let 'em know what it feels like.

Melanie Morgan: Hog tie 'em first. That would be good.

Next, Lee Rogers talks about a protester at a Cindy Sheehan event:

"Whoever did that should have been stomped to death right there. Just stomp their bleeping guts out." (Audio link).

Within three minutes they called for someone to be burned alive and a protester to be stomped to death. If you dismissed the first clip as a "joke", note that in this clip they were clearly not joking:

Melanie Morgan famously called for Bill Keller of the New York Times (and nine editors from other papers) to be hanged. (Audio link)

On Nov. 14th Melanie Morgan said this about Nancy Pelosi:

"We've got a bulls-eye painted on her big laughing eyes."

(Audio link)

Also note that Morgan reads the Cingular Wireless commercials on KSFO.

Of course political speech is protected, but I believe the FBI and the FCC frown on targeting elected officials for death or inciting violence toward leaders of any political party.

Because of how ads are purchased, your ad placement agency probably didn't know that Tom Brenner (the "comic relief" called Officer Vic) regularly mocks advertiser's products. Listen as he:

  • calls Chevrolet's product "shi**y"
  • (audio link)
  • suggests an anti-virus product is part of a protection racket (audio link)

  • pretends a cold pill is really a suppository (audio link)

The odds are your product will be mocked. If they don't respect a big client like Chevrolet, will they respect your brand?

And it's not simply calls for killing specific people or mocking products, the radio hosts at KSFO proudly talk about their anti-Muslim views. Based on my research, your business has rules about discrimination against people of other religions, so what message are you sending when your employees or customers hear your advertisements right after Brian Sussman demands of a caller:

"Say Allah is a Wh*re!" (audio link)

Or when Lee Rogers says,

"Indonesia is really just another enemy Muslim nation. ... You keep screwing around with stuff like this we are going to kill a bunch of you. Millions of you. " (audio link)

Maybe you haven't heard any complaints. Would KSFO management let you know about complaints? Doubtful. Morgan's husband, Jack Swanson, is KSFO's operations manager. The president of KSFO, Mickey Luckoff, started the station format and has a history of defending hosts like Michael Savage until he was forced to fire him.

I understand you can't listen to all the shows you advertise on - no one can. You rely on the accurate representation of the sales reps and the show description. But you don't need to take my word, listen to the programs. You probably won't have to listen long to hear something that offends or disgusts you. If you wish to hear the complete context on any clip or the audio during a date your ad ran contact me I have an educational archive of audio clips, I've listed a few below.

I want to emphasize that if you withdrawal your ads you aren't limiting their free speech, just removing your paid support of it. Some other company without the values you describe on the AT&T website can support them. You can choose to advertise elsewhere. This is really about YOU. Do YOU want to be associated with these comments? Do you want your company and brand to be associated with these comments?

I urge you to discontinue advertising on KSFO during the shows hosted by Melanie Morgan, Lee Rogers, Tom Brenner and Brian Sussman.

If you want to contact KSFO here is a link to their website. If you wish to express your displeasure to their parent company contact Zenia Mucha, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company PHONE: (818) 560-5300 CA, (212) 456-7255 NY or email Heather Rim, Vice President, Communications, ABC, Inc.


P.S. I would appreciate hearing your final determination in this matter.

Heh. Heh. This has got to be one of the best constructed letter to any advertiser I've ever read. He hits every point of weakness.

So what happened?

Again, here's Spocko:

ABC Radio Lawyer tells Spocko to Shut Up

Two days before Christmas I got a Cease and Desist letter from ABC regarding my use of audio clips from KSFO radio hosts Melanie Morgan and Lee Rogers on my blog, Spocko's Brain (see attached PDF).

KSFO is a Disney affiliate whose radio hosts broadcast violent rhetoric directed toward journalists, liberals, Democrats, Arabs and Muslims all over the SF Bay Area and to the world via the Internet. I commented about the content of these host's broadcasts on my blog and informed KSFO's advertisers about what they were supporting by letting them listen to the exact audio quotes from the hosts.

Why the C&L Letter Now?

In mid-December I got confirmation that a major national advertiser, VISA, pulled their ads from the Melanie Morgan and Lee Rogers show, based on listening to audio clips I provided them. I also think that FedEx, AT&T and Kaiser are considering pulling their ads. Visa isn't the first advertiser who has left KSFO, multiple advertisers have left the station, especially from the Brian Sussman show. In July of this year when KSFO lost MasterCard as an advertiser someone from KSFO "outed" me on a counter-blog (which I won't link to). This same person has also threatened me with local and federal criminal action for using the audio (which I clearly used under the fair use portion of copyright law). And because they have suggested violence toward me (in addition to talking about suing me "for everything I have") I have chosen to remain anonymous.

As Thers has said, 95 percent of blog fights don't mean anything, but I think this one does since KSFO is using the full weight and force of an ABC/Disney lawyer and copyright law against a private citizen blogger. I dared to use the audio content in question for nonprofit educational purposes (I don't even have ads on my blog!), and thus under the protection of the Fair Use Doctrine set forth in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C.§107.

It's about Money not Ideology

Talk Radio is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is also a regulated industry because the public gave the broadcast airwaves to radio stations. There are rules. First there are FCC rules with fines of $325,000 for obscene and indecent speech, thanks to the Christian Right. Interestingly, the radio union, (which KSFO hosts hate so much) worked very hard to stop those fines from being directed to individual radio hosts. So the corporation will bear the burden of any fines. Next, there are guidelines at the local station level, the network level and the parent company level. So even if the inciting of violence and hate speech is ignored by the FCC, the continued violent rhetoric has been, and continues to be, approved at the station level (KSFO) the group level (KGO-KSFO) the company level (ABC Radio) and the parent company level (Disney). They are ALL aware of this speech, and because they have not acted in a meaningful way, they all are giving approval for it to continue.

No Management Action

When Keith Olbermann and Media Matters ran Melanie Morgan's comments about "putting the bull's-eye on" Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, management did nothing. Morgan did a jokey non-apology where she never even mentioned she used the term bull's-eye.

I'm guessing Lee Rogers may have gotten a memo telling him to stop talking about burning people alive, torturing them and blowing their brains out, because on November 30th, he defiantly said to management and advertisers, "Nobody is gonna tell me what to talk about or not talk about or in what fashion on this radio program. It ain't gonna happen!"

ABC/Disney acted only when they lost revenue. Then they went after ME with a cease and desist letter.

Why me? I'm not the one saying journalists should be hanged, thieves should be tortured and killed, people should be burned alive, stomped to death or have their testicles cut off. I'm not the one saying that millions of Muslims should be killed on the presumption that they are extremists or just because they live in Indonesia. I'm not the one who says that lying is as natural as breathing to Egyptians and Arabs or demanding that a caller "Say Allah is a Whore" to prove he is not an Islamist. I'm simply documenting this speech and providing it to the people who are paying KSFO hosts on commercially supported broadcast radio.

They have Lawyers, Guns and Money. I've got a 5th tier blog and no money

Because I and some other listeners hit right-wing talk radio in the pocket book, they are acting like wounded animals and brought out the big guns, Corporate Lawyers. Am I scared? Hell yes. They can easily squish me like a bug and tie me up in legal battles for the rest of my natural life (and Vulcans live a long time), not to mention that unlike KSFO radio hosts, I'm not getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and generating millions of revenue for a multibillion-dollar parent company. If I pursue this further I expect the next step is a "CyberSLAPP" suit.

I don't want to consider the possibility of Morgan's good friend Michelle Malkin deciding to publish my address and real name so that her minions can send me death threats or "white powder" in the mail. Chad Castagana, was charged with mailing more than a dozen threatening letters containing white powder to liberals. He got the idea from someone that journalists, liberals and democrats were the enemy and deserved to die.

Brian Sussman proudly poses with his handgun in KSFO publicity shots and says that he thinks that everyone should have the right to have a machine gun. Maybe I'm over reacting, why would they attack me? I'm not famous, I'm not an elected official, I tried very hard to be accurate about what THEY said BY USING THEIR OWN WORDS.

I tried to help companies protect their brands from being tainted with the violent rhetoric and anti-any-religion-but-right-wing-christianism speech. I wanted to help the VPs of marketing avoid being associated with Lee Roger's "testicle talk" or Sussman talking about cutting off a finger and a penis of an Iraqi in his imaginary torture sessions.

It's about Brands: All the Blessings, None of the Taint

I have found out that KSFO is sold to advertisers as "a Disney affiliate" with all the associated family-friendly connotations. So KSFO is getting all the benefit of the Disney name as well as the massive infrastructure of ad sales at the national level. Clearly ABC Radio doesn't want KSFO hosts' horrific comments to actually reach advertisers. Advertisers are kept in the dark so KSFO can benefit from the Disney brand glow (ABC Radio News creditability glow?).

Advertisers should be able to decide if they want to keep supporting this show based on complete information. We already know that management at ABC and Disney support these hosts, which means that the ABC/Disney Radio brand now apparently includes support for violent hate speech toward Muslims, democrats and liberals.

But instead of directing the hosts to refrain from violent rhetoric and hate speech, they go after the weakest person with the fewest resources. It's cheaper and easier.

Bottom line: ABC/Disney is supporting and profiting from this violent speech, they should at least also accept any negative connotations or financial impact it might have to their image.

Researchers Use Wikipedia To Improve Search

Researchers Use Wikipedia To Make Computers Smarter:

"Most Web search and e-mail filter programs appear smart by calculating how often certain words appear in two texts, Markovitch explained. “But what is common to all these applications is that the programs that actually do this kind of thing don’t understand text. They treat text as a collection of words, but they don’t understand the meaning of words.”

This shallow understanding is what makes an e-mail spam filter block all messages containing the word “vitamin,” but fail to block messages containing the word “B12.” “If the program never saw “B12” before, it’s just a word without any meaning. But you would know it’s a vitamin,” Markovitch said.

“With our methodology, however, the computer will use its Wikipedia-based knowledge base to infer that "B12" is strongly associated with the concept of vitamins, and will correctly identify the message as spam," he added.

Or, computers could look at a chunk of text about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction and know that it is conceptually related to topics such as the Iraq war and U.S. Senate debates on intelligence—even if those terms do not appear anywhere in the original text.

The method also helps computers figure out ambiguous terms—deciding, for instance, whether the word “mouse” refers to the computer device or the fuzzy animal. This can be especially important in translated documents, Markovitch said.

In the near future, the Technion researchers hope to improve their method by adding information from the Web page links inside Wikipedia articles. They are already pursuing a patent on their work, which they say will be of interest to the intelligence community and Web search engine companies, among others.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"WikiLeaks is developing an uncensorable version of WikiPedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary targets are highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia, central eurasia, the middle east and sub-saharan Africa, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.1 million documents so far. We plan to numerically eclipse the content the english wikipedia with leaked documents.

Open government is strongly correlated to quality of life. Open government answers injustice rather than causing it (plans which cause injustice are revealed and opposed before implementation). Open government exposes, and so corrects, corruption. Historically, the most resilient form of open government is one where leaking and publication is easy. Public leaking, being an act of ethical defection to the majority, is by its nature a democratising force.

Hence a system enables everyone to leak safely to a ready audience is the most cost effective means of promoting good government -- in health and medicine, in food supply, in human rights, in arms controls and democratic institutions.

The world has enough food. It has enough medicine. It has enough scientific research and invention. We know how to prevent malaria --- we've known for over 50 years. We know how to halt HIV. We know how to put down our guns. It can be peaceful, just and healthy; all it needs is good governance. Politicians are not capable of it. We have to engineer it."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Neocon Wrength

Unclaimed Territory
(Glenn Greenwald's Blog)

On March 17, 2003, on the eve of our invasion of Iraq, Bill Kristol wrote the following:
We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam's regime. It will produce whatever effects it will produce on neighboring countries and on the broader war on terror. We would note now that even the threat of war against Saddam seems to be encouraging stirrings toward political reform in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a measure of cooperation in the war against al Qaeda from other governments in the region. It turns out it really is better to be respected and feared than to be thought to share, with exquisite sensitivity, other people's pain. History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.
Well, it's been almost four years since Kristol penned those smug, taunting words, and I think it's fair to say that history and reality have indeed weighed in. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Our invasion has destabilized the entire region (and not in a positive way) and has actually exacerbated the overall terrorist threat our country faces. We are no longer feared or respected, at least nowhere near the degree we were before the invasion. Over 3000 American soldiers have lost their lives (with many thousands more badly injured). Tens of thousands of Iraqis (perhaps hundreds of thousands) have been killed and millions more displaced. We've squandered billions of dollars, as well as our national credibility and mystique. And our armed forces are currently bogged down and stretched to the limit as they undertake the thankless task of policing an escalating civil war.

Now, you would think that being so incredibly wrong about such an important subject might hurt your career prospects, and that would probably be true in any other field. But in the world of Washington punditry, being consistently and catastrophically wrong about everything is apparently not an obstacle to advancement. As David Corn reports, TIME Magazine has invited Kristol to become one the magazine's new "star" columnists.

I can see why TIME wanted Kristol so badly. His track record over the last few years is rather remarkable. Here's a sampling of some of Kristol's most impressive contributions to our political discourse over the last few years: [link].

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Slashdot | Starbucks Responds In Kind To Oxfam YouTube Video

Slashdot Starbucks Responds In Kind To Oxfam YouTube Video

Kligmond writes

"Last week, Starbucks placed a video on YouTube responding to a video posted by the Oxfam Charity. The Oxfam video was launched in conjunction with 'Starbucks Day of Action,' held December 16th, when activists visited Starbucks locations across the world in protest of the coffee retailer's alleged mistreatment of Ethiopian farmers.

The Starbucks video calmly addresses the Oxfam allegations, citing an impasse over Ethiopian trademark legalities. Starbucks claims the refusal to sign a trademark agreement with Ethiopia is a stumbling block they hope to resolve on behalf of the farmers. The coffee chain's representative goes on to refute the contention that Starbucks refuses to pay a fair price for its coffee reserves and, in fact, routinely pays well above commodity price, and above fair trade price.

Unlike many recent ineffectual corporate reactions to social journalism and networking eruptions, Starbucks' response is unique in that the corporation managed Oxfam's unconventional assault in a very unconventional way, via YouTube.

Regardless of the outcome of this particular incident, the move on Starbucks' part comes off as unmistakably in touch with today's communication modes and methods."