Friday, February 29, 2008

"Don't You Care About Your Family, Mr. Cadman? Don't You Want Them to Be Happy and Secure?"

The story of Chuck Cadman is one of the damnedest stories in politics. Having lost his 16-year-old son to a vicious random stabbing, a former rock musician wins a seat representing BC in the conservative Reform party on a law 'n order platform. He wins twice, handily. Cheated out of re-nomination in 2004, he still turns around and wins the election as an independent, despite having been diagnosed with cancer, due to his incredible popularity in the riding. After his victory an understandably angry Cadman consistently refuses to rejoin their party in their opposition to Martin's minority government. This despite continued--and increasingly desperate--entreaties from his former partisan friends.

Then, only weeks before he succumbed in his battle against cancer, he casts the deciding vote that keeps Paul Martin's government going in 2005, allowing Martin to continue governing until 2006 and ending in one of the nastiest political streetfights of the recent Liberal regime.

(Plus, he was the only legislator I've ever heard of with a ponytail.)

And now there's this. Apparently the conservatives were a bit too desperate to bring him on board:
Stephen Harper knew Conservative party officials were making a financial offer to independent MP Chuck Cadman in exchange for his vote to topple the minority Liberal government in May 2005, a new book charges.

Harper was Opposition leader when two party operatives offered Cadman, who had terminal cancer, a million-dollar life insurance policy, according to the book.

In an audio tape released to the Star by the publisher of Like A Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, it is clear that Harper knew of the offer when he was interviewed by author Tom Zytaruk in September 2005.

When Zytaruk asked Harper whether he knew of the offer, Harper said: "I don't know the details. I knew that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?"

Zytaruk told Harper that the interview was "not for the newspaper. This is for the book."

Whoops. So now there's a giant firestorm erupting over this; this sort of bribery-for-votes is a wee bit, er, illegal. Harper's in deep trouble; it's going to be very, very hard to get away with that "financial considerations" line, especially with his predecessor Mulroney taking a lot of flak for HIS "indiscretions".

But that isn't even what fascinates (read: horrifies) me about this story. What grabs me is the nature of the bribe. It wasn't straight-up money, or stock options, or anything like that. It was a million dollar insurance policy. He wasn't going to see any of the money. That's cold. And that's also why I immediately thought of the exchange in the title: you just know that they leaned on him hard, using that sort of argument. "Why are you being so unreasonable, Mr. Cadman? Cancer medicines are expensive, aren't they Mr. Cadman? Don't you care about your family, Mr. Cadman?" And so forth.

The CBC quoted his widow as saying "her husband was offended by the offers". I can just imagine.

This is pretty much a worst case scenario for Mr. Harper. He's run on integrity and accountability and whatnot, and now he's been caught out trying to buy a vote from a dying man. He's got a problem with being seen as a cold, calculating type, and now he's been been caught out trying to buy a vote from a dying man. Gets him coming and going, and that's assuming that he doesn't get in really serious trouble for aiding and abetting a crime.

"Allegedly", of course.

(A footnote to this story. Go to any prominent progressive blog and you'll see a full-court-press of conservative trolls ineffectively trying everything and anything to bury this thing. I particularly recommend the ones on Garth Turner's blog. Maybe it's because he's a former conservative himself, but the amateurish spinning is hilarious. It's not going to help, but it does show just how lockstep these guys are.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Complaints Via Harmony

I give you, complaints choirs!

The complaints Choir is the brainchild of Helsinki residents Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen. The idea has since spread to cities around the world.

"In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression "Valituskuoro". It means "Complaints Choir" and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen thought: 'Wouldn't it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real Complaints Choir!'" Via Jess Wundrun.
I'm currently enjoying the Birmingham one.

These harmonic whingings are brought to you courtesy of some damned dirty ape that I'll probably put on my blogroll once I actually expand the damned thing for the long-past amnesty drive.)

"There Are No Boys on the Internet"

Yeah, you probably heard it the other way around, and it used to be a good (if cheeky) rule of thumb.

I ran across an entry on Furdlog that linked to a NYTimes article that implied otherwise, though:

Research shows that among the youngest Internet users, the primary creators of Web content (blogs, graphics, photographs, Web sites) are not misfits resembling the Lone Gunmen of “The X Files.” On the contrary, the cyberpioneers of the moment are digitally effusive teenage girls.

“Most guys don’t have patience for this kind of thing,” said Nicole Dominguez, 13, of Miramar, Fla., whose hobbies include designing free icons, layouts and “glitters” (shimmering animations) for the Web and MySpace pages of other teenagers. “It’s really hard.”

Nicole posts her graphics, as well as her own HTML and CSS computer coding pointers (she is self-taught), on the pink and violet, a domain her mother bought for her in October.

“If you did a poll I think you’d find that boys rarely have sites,” she said. “It’s mostly girls.”

You need to be a bit careful here: it's still probably mostly males playing various online games and whatnot. What interests me here is that the Internet content creation is so ridiculously mainstream that it's become the province of teenage girls.

Sure, they're well known as THE key demo for media consumption, but this is a bit different. What we're seeing is the promise of the Internet finally coming to pass: the simplicity and low (read: nonexistent) cost of creativity is affecting an entire generation of kids. Yes, it may only be sparklies spelling out "princess", but it's still an act of creation, and the idea of a society where creativity is as mainstream as consumption is a very exciting one. At least for me.

(Yes, yes, they still aren't getting into science and technology enough, as the article points out. That is a problem, but I don't think learning HTML is going to damage their interest in programming any. Heck, they might even start learning Javascript, Java, or even Perl or Python.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bill Buckley Dead at 82

The Arch-Conservative died this morning.

Aside from everything else, you have to admit that he's had an enormous impact on American politics.

Joining Us in the Year 2003

Now whatzisname has comments, too. Good for him.

(Hey, if I can rag on someone for something, I can certainly give them credit for stopping.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Colbert Transcription:

There once was a man named McCain
Who had the whole White House to gain;
But he was a hobbyist
Of boning his lobbyist
And lost the whole oh-eight campaign!

(Source: Anonymous man from nantucket)

Oh, how I missed The Word.

Rule of Thumb About Spin

If someone says "let me just say something", they're about to spin you, and you can safely tune them out.

(Yes, I caught Albright on TDS. She was a decent guest, but she couldn't have been more obviously spinning for Clinton on that touchy "first ladies don't make foreign policy" issue.)

Edit: I wonder if that's in Whatzisname's book?

Rating System

Not sure if I'll keep that little star system below the posts, but we'll see.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Shorter Bill Kristol:

"Real patriots shut up and shoot whoever they're told to shoot."

(Longer Response at Hullabaloo c/o Tristero. But that's about the gist of it.)

Oh, and once again, slipping bullshit unsupported claims under the radar like this one:

Now in almost every empirical respect, American lives have in fact gotten better over the last quarter-century.
Isn't going to fly in 2008, buddy. Your fellow columnist wrote a rather good book going into exhaustive detail about why you're unbelievably full of shit on that one.

He'd probably tell you so, if you weren't so obviously a sop to the most ridiculous form of tokenism in the Union and thus not worth his time.

First Annual Do-As-You-Feel festival

Hadn't really paid much attention to that Texas sex toy case (the one that about overturning that ridiculous Texan law that says that you can't buy "dildos", but can buy "personal massagers" and "educational tools"), but the fact that the law was overturned has a huge, huge impact on American society I hadn't considered:

The Texas sex toy case makes it clear that the Lawrence v. Texas ruling established a constitutional right to sexual privacy in the United States.

And that, people, is HUGE.

Before the Texas sex toy case, we didn’t have that. You might have had it in the particular state you lived in — we’ve had it in California since 1975, when the consenting adults law got passed — but United States citizens did not have any constitutionally guaranteed right to sexual privacy until February 12, 2008.

And we have it now. Yes, the Federal courts have now said that you have a constitutional right to use a vibrator or a dildo. But so much more than that: the Federal courts have now said . . . well, let me quote briefly from the decision.

Just as in Lawrence, the State here wants to use its laws to enforce a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct. The case is not about public sex. It is not about controlling commerce in sex. It is about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the State is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct. This is an insufficient justification for the statute after Lawrence. (Emphasis mine.)

The Lawrence case didn’t just say that gay sex couldn’t be criminalized. It said that people — all people — have the right to engage in any consensual intimate conduct in their home, free from government intrusion. It said that people’s sex lives are not their neighbors’ business, not society’s business, and most emphatically not the government’s business. It said that the fact that the State doesn’t happen to like a particular kind of sex doesn’t mean they have a right to ban it, or indeed to have any say in it at all.

This case says, “Yup. That’s what Lawrence meant, all right.”

And that has enormous implications. (Assuming it gets upheld, of course; the decision could be appealed to the Supreme Court, and I haven’t read anything yet saying whether or not it will be.)

It has implications for sadomasochists. Fetishists. Swingers. Any other sexual minority you can think of. If you’re any of those things . . . you now have a legal right to it, anywhere in the country. And that’s pretty darned important for all those custody rights and housing rights and employment rights and whatnot that we were talking about. It may wind up having implications for porn laws; if we our right to sexual privacy means we can have vibrators, it should mean we have a right to dirty movies as well. (It should have implications for the legalization of sex work, too; but alas, the rulings in both Lawrence and this case made a point of saying that the rulings don’t apply to prostitution. Mistakenly, in my opinion.)

So here’s the lesson for today. Apart from just, “Hooray for sex toys!” and “Hooray for the right to sexual privacy!”

The lesson for today: Gay rights are human rights.

Bolding's mine. Comments are from Greta Christina's entry at "The Blowfish Blog", which may be considered NWS if there's excessive prudishness at the helm of your webfilter. Not much I can add to the bolded bit, except to say that this may have a big impact on American politics that goes far beyond being able to sell vibrators in Texas that actually look like male members.

See, if Lawrence really does mean that most sexually-motivated legislating is off the table, a lot of conservative tactics are as well. Yes, they can rail against the "activist judges", but they can't put any policy forward that supports this point of view, which means they can't run on said policy. Even running on the "activist judges" thing wouldn't necessarily help, because it's just going to get lumped into the whole big anti-abortion anti-sexual rights omnibus, which will drastically limit it's appeal among--as one example-- the vast majority of women.

It makes it much harder to run on "culture war" stuff, which means that Republicans are going to have to run on governance and economics. And let's face it: they're terrible at those. Without gay-baiting, they're looking at an electoral massacre.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"It's the Lying"....and the Narrative.

As dday pointed out (and how can I not throw to digby's blog, considering the traffic it sent along yesterday?), Howard Dean wrote what could be the best take on the scandal:

Dean: I have no idea whether the affair story is true or not, and I don't care. What I do care about is John McCain -- and this has been well-documented -- is talking all the time about being a reformer and a maverick, and in fact, he has taken thousands of dollars from corporations, ridden on their corporate jets, and then turned around and tried to do favors for them and get projects approved. He has tons of lobbyists on his staff. This is a guy who is very close to the lobbyist community, a guy who has been documented again and again by taking contributions and then doing favors for it. This is not a guy who is a reformer. This is a guy who has been in Washington for 25 years and wants to give us four more years of the same, and I don't think we need that.
As I said yesterday in what was, apparently, your favorite SotH post in ages... the problem isn't so much that Iseman is an attractive blonde that isn't Cindy McCain, it's that she's an attractive blonde that doubled as a lobbyist for an industry that McCain was responsible for overseeing, and one that McCain went to bat for on several occasions.

It's all about narratives. It's always about narratives. Political careers live and die by narratives, and each presidential candidate has their own. Hillary has her fightin' Dem machine, Obama has his cult of personality, and McCain has always played himself up as "the maverick old war hero that speaks his own mind, no matter who it offends". Huckabee has his aw-shucks geniality, Edwards (famously) had the "Son of the Mill Worker", and Giuliani's is too obvious to discuss.

The problem is that they can't be entirely invented: each of these has to be based on something real, and if it ends, so does the candidate. The breakdown of the "Hillary Machine" is what ultimately doomed her, for example, because her narrative was all about the power of that machine. That's what the whole inevitability thing was really about- it was built on an invincible Hillary Machine that simply could not be stopped. Well, it stopped. No machine, no narrative, no candidate.

This story of McCain being someone else's catspaw? That's what dooms him. He isn't a "maverick" anymore. He doesn't "speak his mind". He's been revealed to be just another politician, sitting in the front pocket of whichever corporate lobbyist will have him. Whether he likes it or not, that's his new narrative, mixed in with a bit of the old "war hero" line.

Dean does an excellent job of laying out that new unflattering narrative, and he won't be the last. It's going to dog him all the way to November, assuming that he makes it that far.

(That said, it also reveals Obama's vulnerability, which is very similar. If Obama can be successfully labeled as "just another politician", he'll also be in trouble. That's what BoBo is trying to do: expect a whole lot more of the same. I doubt it'll be successful, though. Even if they score some hits, their candidate is already done for.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Michael Geist - EFF Pioneer Award

Congratulations to Prof. Michael Geist, who won an award from the EFF for his brilliant and compelling work on fighting corporate copyright-holders' attempts to eliminate fair dealing and consumers' rights. He's one of the best bloggers out there; a credit to his University and his country. It's highly deserved, and I hope he keeps it up.

TNR on the Times Story

The New Republic just put up their piece on the controversy within the New York Times over the Iseman story. I'm not a big fan of TNR these days, but I'll grant that it's a hell of a read.

The situation is still very strange, though. The article itself, which some are crediting for forcing the Times' hand, doesn't itself come to any kind of conclusion about why the piece was released. I'm still not convinced there isn't more to this story than what we've heard.


It looks like Iseman is tied to the Swiftboaters.

This just gets better and better.

Specifically, as Marcy Wheeler reveals, she's tied to Paxson and Sinclair Broadcasting, two media companies that were trying to run an anti-Kerry Swiftboater hitpiece days before the 2004 election, before they were overrun by bloggers.

In both cases, Marcy raises pointed questions about intercessions that McCain may have made on their (and, thus, Iseman's) behalf. Paxson was the beneficiary of a forceful letter from McCain to the FCC on their behalf. Sinclair, on the other hand, owns the private jet that Iseman and McCain liked flying around on so much, and were caught running a shell company in order to dominate media markets through false "competition."

Both would logically be lobbying the hell out of the FCC, right? They were shooting for consolidation, and in both cases (after the slaps on the wrist) were relatively successful. Yeah, you'd think so, except...

Sinclair itself did less than $20,000 of lobbying in 1999, 2000, and 2001 (the years during which its two-station shell gimmick was under investigation); another lobbying firm did less than $10,000 of lobbying in 1999 and 2000. Shaw Pittman (which has a retired partner serving on Sinclair's board) was also registered as a Sinclair lobbyist at the time, though it reported no activity. Which suggests the better part of the lobbying done in this period was done by Iseman and her colleagues (listed as $80,000 a year)--and done primarily through Congress, without contacting the FCC directly.

And at least according to what other lobbyists have to say about Iseman, her big asset in her lobbying portfolio was her access to John McCain.

Three telecom lobbyists and a former McCain aide, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Iseman spoke up regularly at meetings of telecom lobbyists in Washington, extolling her connections to McCain and his office. She would regularly volunteer at those meetings to be the point person for the telecom industry in dealing with McCain's office.

It sure makes you wonder how much that access contributed to Sinclair getting off so lightly for using a shell corporation to evade restrictions on media ownership, doesn't it? And it sure makes McCain's complaints about media consolidation--particularly as it relates to consolidation his friend Iseman helped push through--rather hypocritical.

Wheeler does note that the companies in question benefited Bush far more than they did McCain, and the questions that raises: why did McCain go to bat for them, and why is McCain so tied to these Bush-backing corps?

What did Iseman bring to the table to get McCain on board with these companies? Marcy doubts it was sexual in nature, and though I'm not so charitable, I'll grant that that was unlikely to be the principal motivating factor. But then if it wasn't that, what was it?

Unofficial Rule

There's an unofficial rule online, one that you probably know about but have never put to words:

"Whenever anybody discusses somebody else's grammar or spelling, they will themselves make a spelling or grammar mistake."

It's funny, it's true, and it looks like it's spilling offline. Witness this correction in the New York Times; it is probably the funniest thing I've read today that wasn't McCain saying "I don't listen to lobbyists."
An article in some editions on Monday about a New York City Transit employee’s deft use of the semicolon in a public service placard was less deft in its punctuation of the title of a book by Lynne Truss, who called the placard a “lovely example” of proper punctuation. The title of the book is “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” — not “Eats Shoots & Leaves.” (The subtitle of Ms. Truss’s book is “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”)
They screwed up the punctuation of the title of a book in a story about punctuation! In a book about punctuation mistakes, no less!

I'm amazed they got the correction right.

Meanwhile, in Hillaryland

The wheels, they are coming off.

Even now, after a string of defeats, her advisers are divided over how to proceed as they head toward what could be her last stands, in Ohio and Texas on March 4.

Some — led by Mark Penn, her chief strategist — have been pushing Mrs. Clinton to draw sharper and deeper contrasts with Mr. Obama, arguing that she has no other option, campaign officials said.

Others, particularly Mandy Grunwald, her media adviser, have pushed for a less aggressive approach, arguing that attacks would not help Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in an environment in which she is increasingly appearing to struggle, aides said.

This latest division within the campaign reflects intense frustration among Mrs. Clinton’s advisers as they look for ways to turn around their campaign against Mr. Obama, an opponent whose appeal and skills as a candidate caught them by surprise. So far, her own positive message has been outshone by his, and every line of attack on him has fallen short, fizzled or backfired.

This thing is pretty much done. The only way that you could beat someone like Obama, as I said a little while back, is to have the focused power of an electoral machine at your back. That's the narrative of the Democratic primary: social movement vs. party machine, with the strengths and weaknesses of both hotly discussed and debated.

In order for either to work, they have to remain focused on their strengths. Obama needs to keep up the inspirational oratory and that already legendary charisma. By and large he has, carping by Republicans aside. Clinton, by contrast, needs to keep the mechanisms and gears of her Democratic machine tightly wound and moving smoothly. That will convince primary voters that when that machine is aimed at the Republicans, they won't stand a chance.

It can work, and it has worked. Up until Super Tuesday, the machine was running well, Iowa aside. Penn and co. may have disagreed, but that tension was precisely what kept the machine running. Now it's slipped a cog, and we're watching it break down. Bits and pieces are flying hither and yon as the machine hurtles to nowhere. It hasn't been completely destroyed yet, but it's only a matter of time: that formerly useful tension is inexorably tearing it apart.

It's almost sad. The Dems really do need to learn to work as a machine, and there always was something to be said for Hillary's approach. Obama has problems of his own, and they'll need to be worked out as well, lest his own movement turns in on itself.

But the fact remains that if you're running on your ability to marshall a political machine, and that machine falls apart, you don't have much else to recommend you. You're done.


So all of a sudden I have a big ol' comments thread again. Nice. Makes me feel nostalgic for the "you're an idiot, Den Beste" days.

Just to be clear: this might not have anything to do with the other campaigns. What struck me is that the timing is so beneficial to Huckabee, and that there had to be something new here for the Times to buck the legal assault and publish the story. The real question is what that new information is, who has it, and where it came from.

Several people have pointed out that Romney just "suspended" his campaign, so maybe it's him. Well, yes, but I think he thought he was done, and was just holding on to those to extract whatever concessions he could at the convention, or to get his face back into the news cycle by supporting McCain when it's maximally convenient for him.

(Much like Edwards.)

If he were behind this, he would have stayed in the race, because Huckabee is a massive competitor for conservative votes, and any potential benefit from McCain dropping out would be accrued by Huckabee, the last man standing. But he's out, and poorly positioned to take advantage of the situation. Giuliani suspended his campaign too, but I really think that doesn't have anything to do with this.

Others are saying "it would have been earlier if it were a hit. He's already the presumptive nominee, and this won't get traction in the main." If you were talking about anybody else, I'd agree with you, but this isn't a bad time for Huckabee because McCain is the presumptive nominee. The fundraising for everybody else is over, the party is already settling into a traditional B.S. convention, and everybody's focused on the Hillary/Barack fight.

By dropping this now, he creates the possibility that McCain will have to drop out after everybody else (including Romney) had already given up. Again, that leaves him last man standing. It puts the Republicans in a very nasty position: how do they spurn the candidate of the social conservatives without driving the SoCons away from the party? Even if they don't nominate him, he must be named Vice-Presidental nominee, or else all those dark mutterings about third party candidates are going to get a lot louder.

The Republican party as a whole doesn't benefit from any of this, even if they do hate McCain. Even the Dems don't, because it'll remind people of Pres. Clinton's issues, and that hurts the image of Dems as a whole too. The only person who out-and-out benefits from this, with no caveats whatsoever, is Mike Huckabee. Something like this is his only path to the nomination.

Even if he isn't behind it--and it's very possible he isn't--this is his "miracle" to a T. It's just too convenient to ignore.

"I Do Not Recall"

That was what McCain said in 2002 about Iseman:

ABC News has learned that McCain in 2002 was asked during a deposition about whether he remembered ever flying on a corporate jet with Alcade & Fay lobbyist Vicki Iseman, the woman in question, and he said he did not recall.

In retrospect that seems at least a curious claim. Indubitably other past comments by McCain about Iseman and her clients will receive greater scrutiny in the coming days.

McCain's aides, realizing that this could scuttle his presidential chances, are hitting back hard on this. They're denying anything and everything, but how could they not? This could ruin their chances of getting into the White House; it's not like they're going to start giggling and go "yeah, you got us, he was shtupping her?"

That's probably also why they're bleating about "partisanship" and "smear campaigns" and the like. They know what a real smear campaign is, and they know this doesn't even come close. But they'll do anything and everything to try to save their futures.)

The real story, though, is still the timing. Why now? What new bit of information fell into the hands of the Times (or someone else) that forced the Times' hand on this one? Nothing in the Times story itself was really that novel, from what I understand, so the new info must be something that isn't out yet.

And for that matter, where did it come from?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yippee-Kay-Yay, GOP

Republicans and Democrats have been asking themselves "why, Huck?" Why is Mike Huckabee doggedly staying in the race, when he has absolutely no hope of victory? He'd need a miracle to win!

Well, to paraphrase Hans Gruber:

You wanted a miracle, gentlemen? I give you the New...York...Times.

Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

"Redemption". Redemption from what? From McCain's membership in the Keating 5, a bunch of corrupt Senators synonymous--in the public mind--with government bending over for corporate influence. McCain may be a "maverick" warrior against special interest groups now, but nobody's lost sight of the fact that he has to be. That scandal was nasty enough that he needs to remain unimpeachable these days.

This scandal couldn't be worse. It's not that it raises the question of Gary Hart-style philandering, though it certainly does. It's that he was philandering with a lobbyist, a telco lobbyist no less. He's not just receptive to corporate lobbyists, he's intimate with them. It destroys that "Maverick" image and makes him worse than other Republicans. It puts him right back into the mold of the Keating 5. It's not going to go away, either; Republicans won't cut him enough slack, and Democrats will gleefully feast on what remains of his reputation. If there's anything to this, it could destroy his candidacy. There's no way he can win.

So he'll deny it, right?

Yeah, except that you can read the "denial" on Huffpo:

"It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."

Notice something? This isn't a denial. There's nothing here denying the relationship, or its intimacy. All the bleating about "gutter politics" doesn't change that simple fact, and that line about "never done favors" can be spun forever on the definition of "favor". His people, amazingly, aren't denying the relationship. Either they can't, or won't, deny a relationship that could well scuttle his chances. The only way this makes sense is if lying just wouldn't work.

Back to Huckabee, who looks cannier by the minute. Let's say McCain drops out. That leaves Mike Huckabee as the frontrunner by default. In fact, it goes further than that, because Huckabee's staying in the race is what has maintained it as a race. All that CNN/MSNBC/Fox primary coverage has been predicated on Huckabee continuing to provide a challenger. If McCain had dropped out with everybody else out, it would have simply progressed to a brokered convention and someone like Romney would have probably taken it. If there were no race, so there would be no objections.

Instead, the presumption is going to be that Huckabee will have "won" the race. Yes, the Republican powers that be could try to nominate someone else, but then they'd have to go up against the social conservatives (egged on by the Huckster) yelling that Huckabee won fair and square, and should get the nomination. The Republicans will be between a rock and a hard place: either nominate Huck, or those small cracks in the Republican coalition are blasted wide open.

So we come back to that central question: did Huckabee know about this "miracle"? Hell, I'll do you one better: did Huckabee have something to do with it?

You have to ask yourself: why this, and why now? The Huffpo said that there was something in the Washington Post about this a little while ago, but it's quite likely that a story this explosive wouldn't have seen print unless there was some sort of new source that made it bulletproof.

We don't know who this source was, and we don't know if that source has anything to do with the Huckster. We do know, though, that Huckabee's bizarre decision to remain in the race at all costs has somehow managed to end up placing him in the perfect position to take advantage of nothing less than Divine Providence.

Nobody's asked that question yet: of what Huckabee knew, and when he knew it, and what he did about it.

So I'm asking it now:

Did we just watch John McCain get ratfucked by Huckabee?

Josh Micah Marshall thinks that the Times story got eviscerated by lawyers, which would explain why it doesn't go into any deeper detail than what I quoted. Possible, but I get the impression this won't remain under the radar for long. Since the lawyering goes back to December, it also still raises the question of why the NYT went with it now. Scuttlebutt suggests a rival publication was going to jump all over the story, but then where did their info come from?

I don't necessarily think it had much to do with Huckabee, not necessarily. The important question to be asked is how someone managed to put themselves in such a ridiculously good position to take advantage of the situation. Of course, McCain is hardly guaranteed to be done, but the odds of Huckabee managing to become the nominee absolutely skyrocketed tonight.

Edit 2: Oh, this is even better. From Radar, linked from JMM:
This evening the New York Times posted a 3,000 word takedown of Senator John McCain's ethics—and a possibly inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist—after rival publications became aware of the details of the story, which the newspaper had been holding back.
Now isn't that interesting wording in that bit I bolded? How, exactly, did they become aware? Radar doesn't say, and I'd love to know.

Edit 3: Welcome to the club, Kos diarist BuckeyeStateBlog:
And now, Mike Huckabee's persistent insistence to stay in the battle for the Republican nomination, despite seemingly insurmountable odds (only a few hours ago) becomes crystal clear. Huck knew. Huck had to have known. Stories like this are whispered about before they break, and often they're shopped to political campaigns ahead of time. Undoubtedly Huck had the heads up.

And merely a few hours after John McCain alienated the moral majority, Mike Huckabee sent an email out to his list to remind everyone they still have a choice.

Remember, no affairs with that Mike Huckabee!

Bolding mine.

It wasn't even hours... according to the diary, it was 96 minutes. Turnaround time like that for a story this big? I'd say it's possible he did more than just find out.

One of the commentators there said that people knew earlier that there was the legal battle going on, and that might be why Huck stuck around... but then again, why didn't Romney or Giuliani? If Romney knew this was coming and still "suspended his campaign", he's a bigger idiot than anybody had ever thought. And that's saying something.

Edit 4: Welcome to digby readers. I'm not sure this is a ratfuck, but doesn't it make Huckabee make so very much sense?

Edit 5: Followups! My first was about the various comments made about this piece, and may I just say that they're all great comments and testaments to why comments threads are important. (I do try to respond to most comments I get.)

The second is about Marcy Wheeler's incredible work breaking down exactly who Iseman was working for, and what they were about.

The third, and most recent, is about McCain's crumbling narrative.Because, yes, I'm one of those bloggers who's all about the narratives.

(What can I say? It's how I roll.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Castro's Out

Yep, Fidel's finally hanging up his hat. Cue the cheering in Miami, right?

Well, maybe not. According to VoA, because Castro's brother is taking over, it looks like the US embargo isn't going anywhere. The U.S. government doesn't like the idea of any Castro running the show, even if it isn't one named Fidel.

If the embargo stays up, a thaw in any other respect between the two countries is pretty unlikely; and as long as Castro (whichever one it is) has the support of Chavez and the other "screw America" types in South and Central America, he'll be able to muddle on with the embargo intact.

(Force is impossible. Even if the US had the spare troops, half of Latin America would lose its collective mind.)

So it appear to be a somewhat less beardy status quo.


Yes, I do plan to get to the reading/adding of the blogs posted on the amnesty comment thing. And, yes, barring content that makes me throw up in my mouth a little, I'll probably link.

But procrastination, as ever, is a seductive thing. (Especially when you haven't got a blogrolling thing to do it for you. I should probably get around to THAT, too.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nicholas Kristoff... absolutely useless.

I realize that the memo has probably come down that you need to pander to St. McCain, but at least try not to be so obvious about it.

(Memo to Lee Siegel: bloggers aren't replacing real reporters. We're replacing useless wastes of good oxygen like these.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sometimes I'm Still Trying to Accept It...

John McCain is the Republican nominee? Really? Really and truly? This isn't some kind of silly joke and they'll pull out the real guy next month, it's actually HIM?

Even More "Shorter!"

Shorter Paul Wells:

"I have absolutely no idea what income inequality is. None whatsoever. When I hear the word 'gini', I think of Robin Williams.

"That's why I unironically make statements based on per-capita GDP that would leave Paul Krugman rolling on the floor laughing, were he not still recovering from the spectacle of Andrew Coyne discovering his inner Randroid."

Shorter Whatzisname

"I got a nasty email, and thus have somehow proven that America is one nasty talk radio host away from carving each other up with machetes."

("Also, I really don't want to hear anything about Kansas' complete rejection of Fred Phelps, as it would brutally undermine what remains of my argument. I additionally really don't want to hear anything about Jonah Goldburg, because I'm about the only human being alive that might make his ridiculous thesis sound theoretically true.")

Much, Much Shorter Lee Siegel:

"Bloggers are Stalinists because they made fun of my sockpuppet."

("Also, I don't know what a URL redirect is.")

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Finnish Censorship

I don't generally read Digg much, but one story did jump out at me today: A censorship critic in Finland has been, well, censored by the Finnish police's child-porn censorship barrier.

There isn't anything remotely like child porn ON the site, naturally, but it's being blocked anyway because it promulgates positions that the Finnish equivalent of the FBI, apparently, is none too fond of.

There's a good breakdown (oddly enough) on Wikinews:

The Finnish police have added Finnish hacker Matti Nikki's website criticizing Internet censorship to Finland’s new national child porn filter. The blacklisting was noticed when Finland's second largest Internet service provider Elisa started blocking the page today. More of the ISP's are expected to join the filtering when their blacklists are updated from the police's master list.

The banned site has been a harsh critic of Internet censorship over the last three years. It contains information and news about how censorship has been discussed and developing in Finland. Although the site's provocative name is ("") there is no child porn on the site - the content is mainly text.

Tekniikka & Talous magazine asked Commissioner Lars Henriksson of Finland's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) why the page was censored. His answer was that he cannot discuss individual sites, but said that sites which are linking to child porn pages are also within the scope of the law. This interpretation, however, seems to conflict with the actual laws, the scope of which was supposed to be only sites with illegal pictures in foreign countries.

On Wednesday, NBI confirmed that site was censored because it published and maintained an incomplete version of the Finnish child porn blacklist. Nikki's list contained roughly two-thirds of the 1500 blacklist entries, and it was created by scanning a large amount of sites and logging the censored pages.

The scan also found that the top three results of a Google search for "gay porn" are blacklisted, and that most of the blocked sites are actually physically located in the United States or the European Union.

Leena Romppainen of Electronic Frontier Finland commented that "The local authorities have taken no action on these sites. Therefore, either the sites do not contain child pornography or the NBI has not informed the local authorities. Both of the alternatives are equally scary."

Matti Nikki's opinion is that the majority of the censored sites are legal adult sites and that the police are not doing that much research when they are deciding which sites to block.

Internet censorship has been a hot topic in Finland as of late. There have been proposals of extending Internet filtering to Internet gambling sites, sites related to terrorism and violence, and torrent-tracker The Pirate Bay.
None of this is novel, even if it is noteworthy. Just as those who chatter about "responsible speech" are always complaining about how they're being called fascists and political censors and whatnot, freedom of speech advocates have been constantly associated with whatever's most odious in the society they live in: child porn, holocaust denial, atheism, heresy, perversities and taboos of all kinds.

(You'd hope that official bodies wouldn't be responsible for it, but it's a faint hope at best. Guilt-by-association is too handy a tool, so there will always be handy tools trying to employ it.)

This guy's situation confirms the fears of free speech advocates, though. He isn't just being argued against or censured, he's being quite literally censored by the government- under the most despicable of false pretenses. Judging by the wiki story, he's unlikely to be alone in this, either, as everybody from torrent users to poker players get conveniently lumped in with the pedophiles.

And why not? Why not associate everything inconvenient with societal taboos? It's so much easier! You don't need to debate anything, don't need to advocate anything, don't have to worry about possibly losing face... you can absolutely, 100% guarantee that anything these guys say will be ignored. After all, they're on the pedophile list! Might as well lock 'em up, because if they weren't kiddy-diddlers, why would they be on the list, right?

(I can't wait to see who's next. Labor organizers? Radical environmentalists? Minority activists? Who else is going to end up on the Finnish diddler's list?)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama Sweeps Potomac States

By big margins, too. Clinton's rapidly getting boxed in. If she doesn't pull out HUGE margins of her own in the Mar. 4 states, this might be all over.

A Suggestion for Paul Krugman...

Hey, Paul?

If you want to get away from the whole Clintbama thing, how's about tearing Andrew Coyne a new structurally superfluous orifice for saying that Everybody knows that Keynes was wrong and that economic stimulus never works?

I mean, seriously. A Canadian laissez-faire advocate? That's just silly. He ain't opposition, Perfesser, he's practice!

So go rough him up, Christian-Bale-At-The-Beginning-of-Batman style.

It'll be fun!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Exceptions, Eh?

I've been ragging on Canadian Liberal bloggers recently. Here is an exception. His name is Garth Turner, and he's become absolutely notorious for his sometimes over-the-top tendency to blog pretty much everything that goes on in his party. (Also for being a bit of a loudmouth in general.)

While that tendency got him kicked out of the Conservatives, it DOES have its upsides, and one of them is an excellent comparison of the tendencies of Liberal and Conservative leadership:

Doubtlessly, they would not understand. Had my former Conservative colleagues been able to get past the security guards and pry open the two sets of doors to the Liberal national caucus meeting room Monday night, they’d be dumbfounded.

While I cannot tell you what was said, who said it, or what the consensus was, I can tell you this: for two hours Stephane Dion and his lieutenants sat and listened to MPs. The topic, as you know, was Afghanistan. The range of opinions was extreme. The number of speakers was numbing. Reaction included wild applause and uneasy silences. There was eloquence and frustration. The leader was showered with advice. And everyone who wanted to stand before one of those black floor microphones got to do so.

I watched and listened closely. Yes, I spoke too. Some of what I heard was profound. Some of it was politically naïve. Some very moving. Some dangerous.

At the end of it all, I knew what the leader’s actions would be, a conclusion I’d suspected earlier in the day during our strategic planning group meeting. It’s a strategy quintessentially Liberal and, most would say, essentially Canadian. It seeks compromise and middle ground. And it’s just what Conservatives will not understand, and likely pounce upon.

Will it work?

Beats me. That depends on Stephen Harper, whether his objective is to actually help the people in Afghanistan, and move the country forward in a non-partisan manner, or use the war as a political weapon, and destroy Dion. Like I don’t know the answer to that one. But I guess there’s hope.

Tuesday will start that process. I now have no idea where it will end.

But, this I do know. Every voice was heard spontaneously within this national Liberal caucus. To speak, one needed only raise a hand. In the Conservative caucus, advance permission to rise must be granted in advance by a subordinate caucus group. In this caucus, the leader is among the first to enter and the last to leave. In the Conservative caucus, Stephen Harper makes an entrance and MPs must stand. In this caucus, policy is formulated, changed, vetted by the representatives of the people. In the Harper caucus, elected people are told, often by PMO staff, what they will do, say, support and believe.

Finally, I know the MPs I spent Monday night with had, that day, received your words. I wish I could tell you more about the conversation. You’d be proud.

This is the flipside of that "strong leader" stuff that Harper has been pushing more and more recently. It seems like Harper has taken things a bit too far, and has been (rather unsuccessfully) trying to build a cult of personality around himself. Like most people without either the charisma or strength of will to attract these things on their own, however, it's become a mite comical, like with that silly "stand when he enters!" convention that mistakes a servant of the Crown with the monarch herself.

(Or, more likely, with the presidency that he devoutly wishes he possessed.)

It's an excellent entry, contrasting the consultative, deliberative style of the Liberal leader with the domineering prime minister. It highlights Harper's biggest weakness--that he doesn't listen to anybody, including the voters--and turns the "DION=WEAK!" meme around into a strength. You can tell it scores points just by looking at the comments threads: the conservatives keep on trying to haul out various shibboleths, but they shortly collapse under their own weight.

It's strong enough, in fact, that it's worthy of widespread linking by various Liberal bloggers. Certainly were it southern-focused it'd get some attention, even if it were just reprinting by Kos diarists.

But what gets attention from, say, Cherniak? The guy who runs Liblogs, the big ol' list of Liberal bloggers?

A stupid prank on Warren Kinsella by some idiot conservative blogger.

Indeed, a quick google blogsearch check turns up not a single link to the story. This will be the first.

(Then again, maybe you should just go read about the Archbishop's wild Sharia comments instead. Good roundup here.)

Oh, and Assume Your Phone is Bugged

It's just safer that way. Telcos are almost certainly going to get complete immunity, which means they're going to assume complete immunity for everything else the government asks them to do. This being the U.S. government, expect them to ask for everything they can get away with... and clearly, they expect to be able to get away with everything.

I'd invest in encryption software for your email, too, if you don't want somebody from AT&T reading it to his buddies.

Progressive Cred

According to Daily Kos, Obama voted in favor of the various "no, telcos DON'T get carte blanche" amendments to the FISA bill. Clinton didn't show. (Or voted "absent", seems a bit unclear.)

The Kossacks aren't happy. Me, I'm a little surprised. If she's trying to score with progressives, why the hell wouldn't she back a motherhood issue among them like stripping immunity? And if she isn't trying to score with progressives, what the hell is she trying to do? It's not like she's going to pull the independents away from Obama. The only people that would approve of this are the very Republican partisans that will almost certainly take the time to vote against her.

That's what really bugs me about Clinton, something that has nothing to do with ovaries. I can take calculated triangulation. I don't like it, but I can understand it. This is just dumb. CNN Senior Analyst dumb. Yes, her entire campaign has been dumb triangulation by people who can't admit that she has the exact opposite of crossover appeal and would have been far better off as the progressive candidate, but how do you not understand the situation at this point?

This would have been cheap progressive cred when she desperately, desperately needs it. And she didn't bother. Ugh.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Case in Point on Obama...

I hadn't actually watched the "Yes We Can" video. It's a video by the frontman of the Black Eyed Peas, a musical accompaniment to Obama's New Hampshire speech, and upon viewing it it's hard to argue that Clinton has the momentum here.

There's a quote from the creator, "" on the ABC News website:

A week ago the musical artist from The Black Eyed Peas put together a music video called Yes We Can.

Taking some of Sen. Barack Obama's speech following the New Hampshire primary, he set the words to music and got a number of celebrity friends -- including Scarlet Johansson, John Legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Herbie Hancock -- to be in it.

The Associated Press just moved a story noting that one copy of the video has been viewed nearly 1.9 million times. The wire service should have looked a little deeper -- another copy has also been watched about that many times. And if you add in the many other copies that have been posted, Yes We Can is easily up over 3.7 million views and is the most-watched YouTube video of the past week.

Its creator says he wasn't asked by the Obama campaign to do it. He made it, told the AP, because when he saw Obama give the speech "it was as if he was talking to me."

See what I mean? 3.7 million views, didn't cost the Obama campaign a penny, wasn't even commissioned or anticipated by the campaign, and it's the hottest thing going right now. I don't think Paul quite gets how far this is beyond normal primary politics. This is not a normal race at all.

Frank Rich points to the coming "Civil War" within the Democratic party when discussing this, and he's right. The only way that someone could match Clinton's incredible machine support is through something akin to a social movement, which is what Obama has built; but the only thing that could stop Obama's exploding social movement is the cold, hard, gimlet-eyed masters of the Democratic party machine.

They definitely want to.

But I don't know that they can.

And I'm not sure what that means.

For the Most Part, I'm Down With Obama...

...but that doesn't mean Paul doesn't have a point.

I think almost everybody in the progressive blogosphere that isn't directly backing Obama--and some people that are--do want the Obama people to calm down, at least a little bit. I do agree with those who say that he's sort of mischaracterizing the Clintons' tactics, and probably should substantiate his comments a bit more. But this IS Paul Krugman we're talking about- I shudder to think at the volume of invective he's probably received in his mailbox recently.

(I don't know about you folks, but the variation between the inclusionist tone of Obama's campaign and the DISSENT WILL BE CRUSHED UNDER OUR TREADS OF OUR MIGHTY HOBNAILED BOOTS! ALL HAIL OBAMA, KING OF KINGS!! attitude of a lot of the online followers is, well, a little disturbing to me. Even if you DO support the guy.)

Here's the problem: Clinton didn't bring this on herself and doesn't deserve it, but I do think there's something that Krugman's missing: the inevitability factor. A year ago, when Obama was seen as a longshot at best, the party machine was quite busily telling all and sundry that "if you don't support Clinton with all your heart, you will certainly be out in the cold when she gets the presidency". Even though she had surrounded herself with some of the sketchiest elements of the Democratic party, and she was about as progressive as Joe Lieberman, she was GOING to win so you had best support her.

(What were you going to do, become a Republican? Support Nader? Hah!)

What Obama's drawing on is people's disdain--if not disgust--for that whole thing. A vote for him isn't a vote for someone more progressive that Hillary, though it's quite likely that he would govern more progressively than her, even if he's no Edwards. It's a vote against all the forces that propelled Hillary Clinton in the first place: the forces of the machine, of unthinking partisan support, of name recognition, of near-royalist elitism, of meaningless primaries, of voting for your identity, and of everything else that turns people away from Democratic politics and from politics entirely.

(For those who cry "identity? But Obama's black!" Yes, yes he is. And if he's ever really run on that to the extent that Hillary has run on her possession of ovaries, I certainly can't recall it.)

People wanted a change, and Obama really does represent that. Even if the change they want isn't quite him, even if they think that he'll get frustrated by the obstructionism of the Republican party, they want something different. For better or worse, a vote for Clinton is a vote for the same old Democratic party, and I don't think people want that anymore.

And now they appear to be winning. Despite all the odds, despite all the "inevitability", despite the "Clinton News Network" amazingly living up to that ridiculous name, they're winning. It really feels like something different is in the air, and for those that are sick to death of the same-old same-old, nurturing that difference is worth anything. It's more important than health care mandates, more important than identity, more important than electability, and (in their minds) far more important than even the brilliant fight against the Forces of Darkness that Krugman has waged these past 6 years or so.

They're desperately jonesing for that change. And if he gets in their way, well... hobnailed boots.

"Epic Lulz"

It would appear, judging by the numbers I'm seeing on the "Anonymous" website, that the protests yesterday were a big success, and that the Scientologists really aren't quite sure how to deal with these guys. They're too amorphous and disorganized for a beheading strike of whatever kind (legal, I'd imagine), but without that, how do you try to get rid of it without attracting a massive blowback?

This really strikes me as much bigger than this individual conflict between peeved Internet users and a famously litigious religious organization, but I'm not quite sure what it means yet.


Huh. So Whatzisname finally ditched the notoriously right-wing National Post. Which I'd credit as a good thing, if I didn't suspect that the reason he did it is because one of their writers absolutely eviscerated him.

(Oddly enough, I actually sympathize a bit more with ol' W; not because I've all of a sudden become a "proud censor", but simply because saying that there are a handful of fascists in ANY given country strikes me as touchingly naive when it isn't disingenuous. I just don't think the way to deal with them is to cover them up, but air them out. The paranoid little trolls HATE daylight.)

But anyway, yeah, football taken home and all that. Wonder how long the guy's going to be any kind of an ur-blogger without a media outlet to prop him up, though?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Good Readin'

I have to admit that I'm warming up to Maclean's a bit. I had dismissed it as being as worthless as, say, Time Magazine or the part of Newsweek that isn't N'Gai Croal, but that there's some damned fine reading about Whatzisname.

(Whose credibility seems to be dwindling by the day. How else can one describe a dude who is, colloquially, losing his shit over the prospect of a bunch of bloggers pooling their legal and political resources to protect themselves against nonsense suits? Sure, I STILL think Ezra Levant is a big bag o' crap, but anything that is so reminiscent of something as laudible as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund deserves some notice.

Official Business

So, I received a response in a blurb about Stephen Harper's weird self-obsession from Jennifer Smith of RuneSmith. She said...

...well, I'll just quote:

I was doing my daily obsessive wade through my Site Meter stats today, and apparently your mention of my post on this story inspired a visit from the Privy Council Office to my blog this morning.

Seriously, I would love it if they asked me to take the pictures down. I really would. They have no idea what kind of holy hell I would raise.
Huh. This means that someone at the Canadian PCO reads this blog. I've had a few from some .mil sources in the past, but as far as I know the PCO is a much smaller outfit, roughly equivalent to the White Houses' non-appointee staff.

So, whoever you are, hope you enjoy the site, and be careful Stevie doesn't catch you reading. I get the impression he doesn't take criticism--or its consumption--lightly.

Huckabama Sweep

So sez Daily Kos, and it's usual flood of entries on the subject. Huckabee won every state he was running in, and so did Obama. Absent superdelegates that puts Obama in the lead, and closes the game WITH them... and while Huckabee is still far behind McCain, noises are starting to arise about Romney maybe, possibly, throwing his support to Huckabee.

Yes, you read that right. There is, now, an outside possibility that Mike Huckabee might get the Republican nomination. Which would be hilarious, were it not horrifying.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I Shouldn't Even Have to Say This:

Saying shit like this to digby:

"Yeah, give the c*** some smelling salts and tell her to make you a sandwich."


You want to bag on her policy positions, her support of candidates, maybe even her choice of coke vs. pepsi or tea vs. coffee, that's fine. Same goes with me. I've never erased a legitimate comment from my comments threads, and probably never will. Hell, I have a standing policy of trying to answer all comments, so come on down, you heathen tea and pepsi lovers.

But trying to intimidate digby because you found out about her gender and decided to act the Big Swinging Dick is not only beyond the pale, it's fucking it up for everybody else. It makes whatever side you're on look like a bunch of assholes, and will probably get the comments closed for the Best Damned Blog on the Internet, as well as validating that unique brand of asshole who thinks that he shouldn't even have to deal with relevant public feedback, even when he's spouting an ever-growing torrent of nonsense.

(And no, I don't care if you just really don't like Hillary Clinton. There's lots of good reasons to like or dislike her: the fact that she has ovaries shouldn't enter into it.)

Oh, and for those who think that this is a freedom of speech issue: the question of "who owns the press" looms large in freedom of expression discussions, but there's no doubt whatsoever that a blogger has the right to remove (or disemvowel) stupid or abusing comments. You don't like it, start your own. That's a totally different issue than, say, the government coming down on you for saying mean things about Scientology.


Ok, let me get this straight. Did PM Stephen Harper really have all the pictures of former prime ministers removed in the government lobby of the Canadian House of Commons so he could put up dozens of pictures of himself?

And then (pardon my language) lose his shit when somebody found out and threatened to a fellow MP that he'd have the security guys fired if said MP didn't take those pictures of his site?

How damaged IS this guy?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Blogroll Amnesty!

Except it's the good kind. Skippy's posting up loadsablogs for your viewing pleasure. That link is to the ur-post, which links to many, many others about the same thing.

Me, I'm just going to say what I usually say: post your blog in the comments, I'll give it a gander, and I'll link it up.

Welp, Looks Like the Dems Tied

At least according to MSNBC. Clinton is projected to "win" Cali. but the proportions of delegates is difficult to predict, and enough other big states went for Obama that it appears to all kind of tie up.

Not sure what to think of it. Obama's probably happy because these were primarily Clinton states, but California's a big prize and Clinton grabbed it. What concerns me is that all this makes it that much more likely that Michigan/Florida will be big enough that they'd decide the winner, and if that decides it...

...well, let's just say that John McCain is praying for that. With all his heart.

McCain/Huckabee in 2008

With the Southern Huckaboom tonight, and conservatives' intense hatred of McCain, I can't think of a way that McCain can avoid having Huckabee at his side.

Besides, with the vote-flipping that's already happened tonight, I think it's safe to say that the fix is in already. Romney's out in the cold, on this chilliest of McHuckanights.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Well, This is Amusing

I appear to have, however accidently, goaded Jason Cherniak into stating that there have been no Civil Rights struggles in Canada.

Now, maybe I'm not as good at Canadian history as he is, but I think this means that women either were able to vote at Confederation, or not until the 1982 Constitution Act was passed.

Wow. You learn something new every day, I suppose.

And Now, a Promotional Message from Dr. Grordbort

Are you tired of moon-men gatecrashing your cocktail parties?

(Of course, we all are. The blackguards!)

Well, help is here, with Dr. Grordbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators. These fantastic "ray-guns", technology stolen from the distant 21st century, will ensure your guests' comfort and security while you repel those invaders back to the cheese-fueled hellscape that they stem from. Unlike those cheap imitations advocated by charlatans and ruffians, the Doctor's Ray-Guns are guaranteed not to explode, implode, or tear irreparable holes into the fiery Aether.

And what more could you ask for, my good sirs?

(Ed: Well, I have to cover my steam bills SOMEHOW. How else to get to my Venusian ranch holdings?)

Also Neat!

Eidolon A.I. TLP is a site where a putative "AI", the first harbinger of the SFnal "singularity", answers viewer's questions about Life, the Universe and Everything.

Got a link to it though some anonymous vs. CoS site, but it's good watchin' nontheless.

It's Super Tuesday!

Vote Early, Vote Often.

I have no doubt there's lots more on the subject on, well, every single DailyKos diary. So go read them, and maybe click on an ad or two. Markos needs another sportscar.

No Matter Your Belief Or Creed...

I think we can all safely say that this keyboard is ridiculously awesome.

There's a reason why everybody who's anybody likes a) typewriters and b) clicky PC keyboards.

Monday, February 04, 2008


In the end, I think that's what this argument over HRCs between Canadian conservatives and liberals is really about. It's about supporting your team, your faction... your tribe.

Conservatives enjoy baiting minorities. (No, don't deny it, Mark Steyn exists and has a loud voice in Canada.) Especially in the United States, they've also have had rather a long and storied history of attracting votes by appealing to certain voters' latent racism. That was the point of the Southern Strategy, and how (pace Krugman) the Republican machine gained its form.

Let's remember how the whole controversy began; Ezra Levant reprinted some half-assed cartoons that weren't especially funny or insightful, but just courted controversy by deliberately flaunting that rule in Islam that says that you can't create images of Mohammed. Commissioning and printing those cartoons was the knowing equivalent of pelting Haredim with cheeseburgers; it served much the same purpose as that would have. Ezra's part of the conservative tribe, though, so he gets backed for "freedom of speech".

The Kinsella/Cherniak vein of Liberals are right about one thing in regards to that: the hypocrisy. If it weren't some ridiculous gesture of conservative tribalism, nobody would have come to Ezra's defense. Where they fail is in their own tribalism.

See, like them or hate them, HRC's are a Liberal creation. They embody a particular interpretation of liberalism, one associated with some of the most important figures in the modern Canadian Liberal Party. It's been around for a while, and is tied into other (quite worthy) concepts like multiculturalism, human and civil rights, and tolerance for other creeds. It is, however, one that isn't too comfortable with the idea of freedom of speech for those with odious opinions. It is the (paradoxical) liberalism of the censor.

This isn't the only interpretation. The ACLU would react to the Kinsella/Cherniak sort of arguments with little more than helpless laughter at their utterly ridiculousness. Warren's incessant repetitions of "NAZIS LIKE IT, SO YOU MUST BE A NAZI" is the sort of charge that has been leveled at the ACLU for generations. Their response to Warren is the same as it would be to anybody else: you are free to respond as well, and it is that freedom that is worth defending. It's the beating heart of liberalism in their minds. It certainly isn't "naive", as Warren seems to believe. Far from it, and I'd love to see him debate with an ACLU lawyer on that.

He doesn't. He wouldn't. This, of course, isn't about debate at all.

As I said, "Liberal creation". Since it's a liberal creation, like it or not, it must be defended. It is associated with the tribe. It is the property of the tribe. Its success is that of the tribe. Its failure would be that of the tribe. The tribe cannot fail, so the creation cannot fail. Even if it's a bad idea, even if it's based on a flawed interpretation of liberalism, even if it's provably naive in an age where anonymous internet hackers make fools of wealthy churches and racist neanderthals are regularly beaten down in any and all public internet forums where they do not themselves control access, it is of the tribe and must be defended. That's what this is all about.

If these specific restrictions on speech were a conservative creation, and the cartoons in question were created by a liberal, things would be the exact opposite. In fact, that happens all the time, and things are the opposite. Where one demonstrates the courage of one's convictions is in standing up for your principles even if they don't necessarily support the interests of your tribe.

That's why I'm so disappointed with so many of these putatively liberal bloggers. It's becoming clearer and clearer that it isn't about principles, or beliefs, or thought. Honestly, if it were, the justification would be better: it wouldn't be a miasma of ad hominems, fallacies of the undifferentiated middle, guilt by association and every other kind of weak argument that would be torn apart by a high-school freshman debate team.

(Not that the conservatives are any better; I just EXPECT that sort of thing from them. It's not like Jonah's crap was surprising.)

No, it's just tribalism. It's just lazily signifying that "I am a member of your group"- throwing up rhetorical gangsigns in a way that lets the others nod, smile, and know one of their own.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Real Way to Fight Racism/Fascism

I've long suspected that it isn't hate speech, nor is it even really Neiwert's work, as incredible as it is.

No, I suspect that it's one thing: prison reform.

The most vicious, virulent, and fastest-growing prison gang in the United States is the Aryan Brotherhood, and it's (no surprise) also the source of the most virulent and violent racists in the country. Yet, because of the realities of prison and the thing that America has with locking up every young black male in sight, the growth of the group makes a lot of sense; whites on "the inside" are going to band together for mutual support like any other group, and the nature of prison life is going to create a lot of angry, hateful men.

And once they get out, of course, they're perfectly poised to turn young minds with their tales of the "savagery" of the various minorities they met in prison. (It's prison. They won't have to elaborate much.) And they're also able to build up a large support network of various whites who have required their protection in the past, or have had friends and family members who need protection currently.

(That said "protection" is usually a scam doesn't enter into things. It's not like these guys can join MS-13 or the Crips. There generally aren't too many options.)

Change the prisons, gut the Brotherhood. Gut the Brotherhood, rip away one of the best recruitment tools that the fascists have.

But, of course, that would require some political courage. Far easier to just let the hate fester underground and in the cells, by squashing it from above with speech codes.

Friday, February 01, 2008

America is in Recession

At least, if you believe job numbers are a good indicator.

(So sez the Kossacks)

Cherniak Weighs In

Also unfortunate. Jason appears to think that you can, and should, lock someone up for thinking Muslims are terrorists.

I hate to make slippery slope arguments, but you MUST be joking.

Edit: Jason Responds! Wasn't even sure he visited this darkened little corner.

Jason sez:

Not for thinking it! For communicating it in any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons is Muslim.

So you're allowed to think it.

You're just not allowed to SAY it, ever, even theoretically, because any utterance along those lines could be interpreted as "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons is Muslim".

Indeed, you've just nuked theological debate there. How is a Christian supposed to claim that "Jesus is the Way and the Light" (or whatever) without getting locked up for "exposing a person to contempt by reason of the fact that that person is [say] Buddhist"?

And what the hell is DAWKINS supposed to do? He's openly contemptuous of all religions and actively encourages others to be the same! It's not only possible that what he says is "likely to expose persons to contempt by reason of the fact that they're religious", that's what he's counting on! Is The God Delusion available on Canadian bookshelves or what?

(I mean, I knew customs agents blocking GBLT materials at the border for "obscenity" was one thing, albeit Warren-Approved, but I didn't think Richard Dawkins was Verboten!)

Yes, yes, I'm aware that the other sections (as far as I know) say that theological divisions or "matters of public interest that the accusers believe are true" are defenses under other sections of the law. But then you run into an even more serious problem, because almost every ridiculous anti-semitic accusation out there can be justified using that position. All that "they killed Jeebus!" nonsense is a matter of theology, and most of the other more conspiratorial accusations would be, as they would be serious issues in the public interest were they remotely true.

(They're not, naturally, being the products of cultural fear and fevered minds. But the question is BELIEF, and a fevered mind believes even more strongly for it.)

And if the "Muslims are sympathetic to terrorism" line? Again, nonsense, but were it true, it would be an issue of enormous public interest, just like the accusations that the Church of Scientology is a big ol' cult. Whether or not they're true is irrelevant... if they are believed to be true, and would be in the public interest WERE they true, then they're defensible, right?

Sorry, Jason, you don't get it both ways. Either the worst kind of vile anti-semitic nonsense is legal, and the hate laws (at least in regards to speech) are utterly irrelevant for almost anything involving faith. The stuff in the law about allowing people spaces and times to pray would still be fine, but that isn't what's up for debate here. What's up for debate is whether or not Richard Dawkins should be arrested were he to step foot in Canada, and whether there's a good enough reason.

So far, I haven't heard one.

(Edit. But then, there ISN'T a debate, is there? Certainly whatzisname isn't interested in one. He's too busy agreeing with Jonah Goldburg about being Socrates!

(Yep, that's right!

The same game of tarring by association that he's playing to try to "win" is also supporting the claims of a guy who calls him, personally, a liberal fascist! In ways that will, no doubt, be used to try to keep the White House for the Republicans this year, and ways in which dangerously minimize the impact and effect of North American fascist groups!

I know that he's perfectly happy having a reactionary conservative in 24 Sussex, but I thought he actually WANTED a Democrat in the White House. Welp, I guess not. He's too busy playing his little games, while the real anti-fascists do their real anti-fascist work, beating down that class of asshole that try to make the word meaningless.

Then again, he probably doesn't even know who Jonah Goldburg is. After all, if he knew anything about movement conservatives, he wouldn't be buddying up with their bestest friend in Canada, now, would he?)