Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Because he challenged me not to do it...


This time, it looks like he's attempting to take shots at multiple liberal candidates. I'd permalink, but since that isn't possible, here's the quote for posterity:

Pithy, linkless declarations of belief about democracy:

The Senate should be abolished. It is an anachronism in a modern democracy.
The Canadian Senate is indeed an odd beast, consisting as it does of appointees by Canadian prime ministers. It doesn't appear to have an especially negative effect, though, and is actually somewhat of a progressive institution; the push for decriminalization of marijuana that briefly made Canada "cool" stemmed from that seemingly conservative body.

Odd, but it somewhat makes sense, in that the war on drugs is almost entirely a function of electoral considerations about being "tough on crime" and the common perceived connection between the drug trade and the same marginalized minorities that many conservative voters are already somewhat antagonistic towards.

Still, the problem is... what to replace it with, if you DO want a body of "sober second thought"? Simple elections would just replicate the house, and having a fixed number per province would increase the already-redlined level of provincialism in Canada. It'd also be another push hurtling Canada in the direction of Americanization and, eventually, being absorbed into the United States.

(What, you think that that isn't what this is about? If you turn Canada into the United States in all but name, the name will change soon enough as well. I haven't seen a single reason why Canadian conservatives, particularly the western variant, wouldn't make for ecstactically happy Republicans. They just don't want to leave the oilpatch.)

So the problem is, what DO you do with it?

Fixed election dates are great for political consultants like me, but not so great for democratic governance. Ask an American.
No argument here. That's the odd thing about this guy- as I mentioned below, were it not for his wholesale abandonment of liberals outside Ontario and his parroting of AIPAC talking points and fury at those who don't, he wouldn't be anywhere near as tempting to break down.

(Far more interesting than, say, Canadian conservatives, who are even more on-message and slavishly devoted than their American counterparts. Not surprising, as I think that were Harper not Prime Minister he'd probably be an especially loud and tendentious blogger.)

(Speaking of being on message...)

In any democracy, voters are indeed preoccupied with which special interests are paying which politician. Liberals who shrug about revelations concerning suspicious donations are making a big, big mistake.

Bloggers and the like demanded respect and more of a voice in our democracy, and they got it. As a consequence, they owe democracy a duty - such as disclosing which of them is being quietly paid by which corporation or leadership candidate. They'd demand no less of the mainstream media.
The former piece is a direct jab at Liberal candidate Joe Volpe, who (it was revealed) received rather a lot of money from Apotex, a generic pharmaceutical firm. Not exactly a big deal in the US (and, personally, I'll take generic manufacturers over patent jockeys anyday), but the specific means by which he did it goes against the spirit, if not the letter, of the campaign financing law that Jean Chretien enacted back in 2004.

(I won't get into the specifics; it honestly doesn't matter, except that it involves executives' families donating to a candidate in a sort of "bundling" scheme.)

Because it isn't against the letter of the law, the Liberals aren't investigating Volpe over it. Well, that and the simple fact that pretty much all of the candidates are almost certainly going to be using these sorts of tactics to get funding, as they do not enjoy the kind of grassroots financial support that Democrats (or, indeed, Canadian Conservatives) are focusing on. It's almost certain that Harper played the same kinds of games with his campaign financing, too, but (in typical Harper fashion) was closemouthed about it and trusted in the generally favorable media coverage he got.

Thus, this isn't really about Joe Volpe being exceptionally corrupt when compared to either Liberals or Conservatives; he just had the bad luck of being caught first and being a target of those candidates who are afraid of his--if several blog comments I've read are true--exceptionally strong on-the-ground campaign. Chief among them being Ignatieff supporters...

...which gets to Warren's other comment. I'd mentioned in a past entry that Ignatieff's supporters online are both numerous and slavishly on-message. If Warren's saying what I think he is, this isn't because they're devoted, it's because it's very lucrative to do so. That sucks, because it lessens the legitimacy and value of the online discussion and debate that should be at the core of the modern liberal movement. As Calgary Grit and his commentators note in this post, Ignatieff's foreign policy positions should be the spark of policy discussion, but it's not happening, primarily because Iggy's supporters appear constitutionally unable to even think about the idea that he was completely wrong on both Iraq and the torture issue.

For those arguing that their positions are legitimate: I could buy that if I ever saw some diversity in the positions. I haven't. There should be people who say "I don't like those things, but I like other things that he's about and that's enough for me to support him", but by and large that isn't happening. It's ALWAYS "no, see, you're taking his comments out of context, go read his book" (when the critic has done nothing of the sort) or "Iraq was a good idea because of the Kurds, which he started supporting when..." (tell that to the families of those people killed in Haditha, or the Arabs forcibly relocated by those selfsame Kurds) or some babbling variation on "coercion isn't torture and should be used when ticking time bomb terrorists 9/11 realism"...which, honestly, even Thomas Friedman is probably none too inclined towards these days.

These are almost certainly people who would have never argued anything of the kind a year ago, but now are parroting talking points. And they're doing it as bloggers. So on that, Warren's right.

The problem, though, is the same as with his attacks on pseudonymity (which, of course, this numbers among)... there are too many good reasons for people to be able to speak their mind pseudonymously for "disclosure" laws to make much sense. If it's fraud, it's fraud, but let's be honest- anonymous and pseudonymous commenting isn't going anywhere, and the best thing you can do is look at the poster and judge for yourself whether he's a shill or not.

(In the case of Iggy's crew, it really isn't hard.)

By the way, speaking of online support and Volpe, I am curious about one thing... why is it that there seems to be not a soul online who's defending the man? No matter the candidate, you always got some defenders in the American primaries of 2004, and I'm sure he has supporters or he wouldn't be worth "outing" in the first place. Are his supporters under a gag order or something?

(If they are, I have one suggestion for his campaign organizers: release that gag order. Your guy is getting ripped up badly on the Internet, and the Internet will almost certainly be the source of the small donations that must fuel any future electoral campaign. Even were Volpe to continue after this mini-scandal and win the leadership with that fabled on-the-ground organization, he still would have the general to think about.)

In any case, one final thought: still not a word from Warren on the National Post's Iran debacle. How much do you folks want to bet that there's a gag order there, too?

Funny thing about Kinsella

As you can see from his recent stories, he and I share a dislike for Ignatieff. In many respects, we're probably similar in our political position.

I guess it's just a pity that his views on middle-east politics seem to come from AIPAC blastfaxes.

Iggy's Divorce

No, not with his wife. If anything, this divorce is far more damaging, because it was between Ignatieff and his human rights community colleagues. I had previously noted the Toronto Star rebuttal by human rights expert Casper Melville to Ignatieff's cowardly pseudo-defense of torture. What I hadn't known was that there was an excellent piece on the issue in the New Humanist last year, prior to the Canadian Liberal leadership race, about much the same thing. An excerpt:

Even before the publication of The Lesser Evil, Ignatieff had attracted some powerful, if predictable, enemies. His justifications for the Iraq war had incensed many radicals. Michael Neumann, Professor of Philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, described the imperialist thesis as developed in Ignatieff’s Empire Lite (2003) as “a web of foolishness, error and confusion”. The argument that America was still the world’s best hope for the spread of liberal democratic ideas was “built on sand” and his proposals for nation–building when stripped of “claptrap” were deeply flawed. They amounted, Neumann wrote, to this: “The US should, having first consulted its own interest, occupy ‘failed states’ and suppress disorder. Then, over what Ignatieff repeatedly emphasises is a long period of time, Americans are to teach these little folks abut judicial procedure, democracy and human rights. Then Americans will help their apt pupils to create sustainably democratic institutions.”

But with the publication of The Lesser Evil in 2004, and a series of articles which expanded on aspects of the book’s arguments in the New York Times, he also began to incur the wrath of liberals and, perhaps more significantly, former colleagues in the human rights movement. The critics began to line up. In a 2005 article called ‘Exporting Democracy, Revising Torture: The Complex Missions of Michael Ignatieff’, published on the website openDemocracy, Mariano Aguirre concentrated particularly upon the seven pages in The Lesser Evil which dealt with the question of torture.

In this brief section, Ignatieff turns to the so–called ‘ticking–bomb cases’ where torture might be the only way to extract information from terrorists which could save human lives. He cites Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who had contended that “whatever we might think about torture in the abstract, the pressure to use it in cases of urgent necessity might be overwhelming. The issue then becomes not whether torture can be prevented but whether it can be regulated.”

Ignatieff rejects this argument — “as an exercise in the lesser evil it seems likely to lead to the greater” — along with other justifications for the use of torture by democratic societies. Nonetheless — and this is critical to the argument that was to develop — he does go so far as to suggest forms of duress that might be permissible. These include “forms of sleep deprivation that do not result in harm to mental or physical health, and disinformation that causes stress.”

Aguirre describes this style of argument as ‘and yet and yet’. Ignatieff is “absolutely in favour of the principles and the defence of human rights, and yet, and yet, if a terrorist has valuable information about a biological weapon that is going to explode in New York, then maybe the security forces could use some level of force on him. Thus, the director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University becomes a sort of Bruce Willis figure.”

This ‘and yet and yet’ approach, suggests Aguirre, is just what the US government needs as a justification for its current breaches of human rights. “Ignatieff considers himself a liberal, so sometimes he criticises the Bush administration. And he is an intellectual, so he has doubts about almost everything and airs them with the liberal readers of the New York Times. But in the end he shares the US government’s vision of the violent and compulsory promotion of democracy, the war against terrorism and the use of instruments, for example torture, which are apparently in need of revisionist treatment.” In these ways, “he has established a sort of rational framework for democratisation by force and also for the revision of our understanding of human rights.”
This is precisely the problem with Ignatieff, and I wish I'd known about that "and yet, and yet" description, as it perfectly describes the issues that Ignatieff's sleazy redefinition of "torture" represents. Not that this is going to turn away Ignatieff's supporters- at this point, they seem reduced to reciting talking points and taking foreign policy positions that, a year ago, they'd see as abhorrent.

(They think he's going to win, and they want to back a winner, so...)

But it should give the rest of us pause, both those who live in Canada and those who don't. I've said before that I think that the Canadian Liberal party has a good shot of being the heart of North American liberalism, because it can BE liberal without having to run away from it, like the Democrats do. It would be a shame if that heart was corrupted by these mealy-mouthed apologias for the inexcusable, but that's what seems to be in the offing if Ignatieff became Liberal leader.

That's not to say he'd be a worse Prime Minister than Stephen Harper, of course. Stephen Harper is a zealous market fundamentalist; a neoconservative exploiting a base of social conservatives to gain the kind of autocratic power that only a Canadian Prime Minister at the head of a majority government can enjoy. We've already seen that he wants to control the government from his own desk, and the only check on his ambitions is the reality that he only controls a minority government. That's why every single thing he's done since the end of January has been turned towards winning that majority; from budgetmaking, to speechmaking, to muzzling his ministers, all of it is aimed at gaining power. Nobody knows what Harper would do with that power, but I imagine it would be to do his damnedest to remake Canada in the image of Howard's Australia and Thatcher's England. Needless to say, anybody would prefer Ignatieff to THAT.

I'd just rather that Canadians, and liberals, didn't have to make that choice.

Hat tip: Politique Canadienne.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bored? Conservative? Somewhat Dim?

You need to get to "decrypting" Muslims. It's the biggest thing around, and now Akram's Razor has a handy tool for doing so.

A sample:

Rule 4: Deep down, Muslims are always thinking about (and yearning for) violence.
Muslims are by nature warlike and inclined to violence, so physically harming other people is never absent from their minds, regardless of the topic under discussion. In cases where they endeavor to conceal this fact, you just need to dig deeper. Strap 'em down and break out the lie detector.

Thus, if a Muslim American student activist talks about his personal interpretation of jihad (literally, "struggle [in God's way]") as striving to integrate Islam's values of justice and service to ones neighbors into his daily life as a patriotic American, you can be sure that he is in reality trying to slip in a plug for terrorists who behead and kill plane loads of those same neighbors. Similarly, if some graduating students who are Muslim decide to add to their gowns green stoles that read in Arabic Rabbi ziddini ilm ("Oh Lord, grant me knowledge", a prayer from the Quran) on one side and the Islamic profession of faith or Shahada on the other, these provocateurs are obviously trying to turn the ceremony into a tribute to the Hamas suicide bombers (who are known for wearing black armbands emblazoned with the Shahada). Don't let the fact that Muslims use those prayers in the most mundane of situations--even before going to bed--throw you off the scent.
There you go. Already, you can start writing breathless posts about horrible Muslim university jihadists. If you're breathless and irrational enough, this guy will probably link to you, a bunch of lGF (or "lie gushin' fools") posters will follow, and soon you'll enjoy fame, fortune, and probably your own AM talk show!


Order now.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Simpler Robert Spencer

"Muslims are all murderous bastards, and that's why we need to slaughter them down to the last man, unless they change the Koran. Which they won't, of course."

(Honestly, you can only read so many right-wing anti-Muslim sites before you realize that that's the core argument behind pretty much all of them. Not that they'll admit it, but if you argue "a" leads to "b", and "b" leads to "c", then you can't get away with screaming loudly that you never said that "a" leads to "c".)

Thursday, May 25, 2006


The National Post finally wrote a retraction of the Iran story. It's behind a subscriber wall, but if you hit Born With a Tail, you'll find it quoted in full.

I'm glad that they finally relented, and put away the "some claim it might be mistaken" BS and owned up. Derek at BWaT believes that the reporter didn't think it "passed the smell test" in the first place, and likely got pressured into playing it up by the Aspers. Considering past practices, that seems very much possible.

So, Warren... when are you going to leave aside the ludicrous twaddle that you've been distracting yourself with about the UAE, and own up to the fact that Zerb was right?

Steven, some originality, please

More Canadian hijinks:

Stephen Harper says that the media hate him, decides to "convince people directly". So, yeah, apparently the Canadian press and the Canadian government are now at war.

Honestly, if you're going to rip off Dubya, at least be a little less obvious about it, huh?

In any case, considering how embattled the Republicans are right now, why follow their lead? You'd think that if one compared polling numbers, Hastert 'n Co. would be sending people up to go follow Harper around.

Ah well. As Calgarygrit notes, this isn't exactly a new thing, and at this point I'm becoming increasingly blase about the (seemingly bizarre) prospect of the United States soon having a much less conservative government than Canada.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Now this is getting silly..

Kinsella, still apparently smarting from the Iran debacle, is reduced to comparing traffic stats:

Pierre and I don't want to make, er, some corporate bloggers feel badly about themselves, or anything. We merely pass this along for her, um, your edification.
By "her", of course, he means Zerb, who has written a string of decent pieces on the debacle (look here, here and here), in addition to the original piece that apparently caught Kinsella's ire for daring to criticize the Mothership. All and sundry are, at least to my eye, excellent blogging: they're a good mix of citation, original commentary, and enough links to satisfy anybody. More to the point, not one mentions Warren Kinsella by name, thus providing no possible reason for Kinsella's absurd overreaction.

Forget the numbers. On this subject, at least, Zerb has proven herself a far, far better blogger than Kinsella, whose lustre is being more and more tarnished by the minute. Honestly, if his Daisy compatriots are smart, they'll either reign the guy in or at least get him to link to a plausible reason why he's engaged in this fruitless offensive.

(While they're at it, they could maybe get him to scrounge up a plausible reason for people to still believe that he gives a rat's ass about liberalism, considering the fawning postings he continues to write about Stephen Harper and what a Harper majority would mean to Canadian liberalism. The "Calgary Communist" seems to have more of Calgary in him than Communist these days.)

Edit: Ok, fair's fair, it's almost certainly a reaction to this entry about a "google smackdown" showing that Zerb's name has got more searches in google lately.

However, compare Warren's language above to Zerb's. She treated it like a joke, which makes sense; the number of google searches for your name isn't a useful metric of popularity. He's acting like it's at all meaningful that he gets more links in a reverse search on Google.

Sorry, Warren, but by that logic, I'm way more important than you are.

Bow down.

Huffington on Gore

Nice piece by Arianna Huffington about Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and how it highlights the difference between the overly controlled and processed Gore of the 2000 election and the human being we see today.

(She also describes how the same process has happened to Hilary Clinton, and how it's largely robbed her of those traits that made her human and interesting.)

I'm looking forward to An Inconvenient Truth, and I'll probably see it tomorrow; but I was expecting a straight-up documentary about global warming, not on Gore himself. Considering how close the country came to having him as president, and the damage that the victor of that contest caused, I'm actually more interested than I was before.

That said, I do have one issue: Gore was never as "stiff" as Huffington asserts. She has her own reputation to keep, and so I'm not surprised that she doesn't want to contradict a position that she had had at the time, but the Gore slams of 2000 were transparent attempts to build a narrative of "cold DC wonk vs. friendly (if none too bright) southerner". There's no need to perpetuate that crap in 2006.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I intended to blog on something else

...but Warren, oh Warren, you just keep pulling me back.

The newest bit of comedy? Antonia Zerbisia's link on Warren's site is now called "Bilious Anti-Warren Harridan".

No, seriously. The guy's turning into Andrew Sullivan, except straight. (And, well, balder.)

(On the off chance you followed through Antonia Zerbisias' recent screencap on Twitter, I have a bit of a followup thing here. -Demosthenes, 2012.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Post Editors Cry "Quick, Give Me Cover!"

Warren Kinsella is happy to oblige, as he ignores the beam in his newspaper's eye to point out the mote in the Toronto Star's.

He attacks the Toronto Star for this article, which is complimentary to Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory, as being a betrayal of the Star's liberal principles.

He then goes on:

Sitting here in church, waiting for Mass to begin, I observe, by way of conclusion, merely this: I, a Calgary communist, love writing for the conservative National Post. They are conservatives, and they are honest about it, even when they are on the losing side (and they ask me to write for them, notwithstanding that they know my own views on things like Iraq or or Bush or tax cuts). But the so-called Atkinson Principles? It is to laugh.

With Post, at least, they walk the talk, you know?
Indeed they do! When they let people make up stories about Iran, they make a point of ensuring that little things like facts and plausibility doesn't stand in the way of The Truth. Never mind that their token liberal inveighed against the use of Nazi comparisons by the paper's critics- when it's the Mothership that's threatened, he'll pull out all the stops.

(Like that "wiped off the face of the earth" bit, which Juan Cole ripped the heart out of ages ago. There's no such phrase in Persian, and the real one it's translated from ("removed from the pages of history") is much milder and was a restatement of an old Khomeini quote to boot.)

So now we have Warren Colmes (or, if you'd prefer, Alan Kinsella) desperately attacking the Star for supposedly betraying it's liberal values, in order to distract from his own employer betraying its journalistic ones. Guess this is payback for Zerb cleaning their clock, and this (convieniently ignored) story about how the Post wouldn't even return the Star's phone calls.

Oh well. The token "Calgary Communist" has to feed his family somehow. I just hope he finds honest work someday.

Joe Lieberman's Screwed

Go check Eschaton:

Lieberman 1004 66.5%
Lamont 505 33.5%
1509 voted.

Lamont's on the ballot. Quite an amazing feat. Tears in Liebermanland tonight.
Lieberman should be unsinkable, considering his stature and generally liberal policies.

Guess there really are repercussions for acting like Bush's toady on foreign policy, huh?

Zerbisias on the Possible anti-Iran hoax (Edit: With New Kinsella Hijinks!)

(On the off chance you followed through Antonia Zerbisias' recent screencap on Twitter, I have a bit of a followup thing here. -Demosthenes, 2012.)

Although I'd enjoyed her blog before, I wasn't expecting the Toronto Star's Antonia Zerbisias to have the best summary I've read on the recent flap of an erroneous story in the National Post that suggested that Christians, Zoroastrians, and Jews would be required by the Iranian government to wear identifying markers. The story, which made the obvious Nazi comparisons, was not only false, but quite possibly a deliberate hoax by a winger PR firm. (She links to this DailyKos story.)

Makes sense, though, considering the paper that is at the centre of this mess (and, it is quite possible, a knowing co-conspirator in this hoax) is the Star's ideological nemesis: the National Post.

(I'd link to the original story, but as Zerbisias points out, it was quietly removed and altered when the truth came to light.)

That the National Post would be ground zero for this is unsurprising; although a centre-right paper in many respects, it skews roughly to the right of the Jerusalem Post when it comes to the Middle East, and can be counted on to be a loyal ally to Israel through thick and thin.

(Of course, at this point, I'd imagine the Post is an ally that Israel would probably rather not acknowledge, considering how likely it is that this will be spun by the usual suspects as Mossad black propaganda.)

In any case, when looking up Canadian news, I'm probably going to continue to read the Globe and Mail instead. At least it isn't, apparently, a pack of moonies away from being the Washington Times. Sorry, Warren.

Edit: Ok, maybe I'm not that sorry. Warren's reaction, incredibly, is this:

Sigh. Anti-Post screecher Zerb - you know, the gal whose paper previously achieved journalistic distinction for declaring the Blue Jays "racist" - has popped a head valve over the Chris Wattie Iran story in this week's Post. Qu'elle suprise.

Unlike Zerb, whose every waking hour seems to spent in Asper (and sometimes Israel) bashing, I will wait for all the facts to be in on this one. But permit me to say that her comparative silence on Iran's declared intention to "wipe Israel off the face of the Earth," a little while ago, was noteworthy. (And when Iran says something like that, is requiring Jews to wear identifying bits of cloth such a stretch?)

All I will note, instead, is that one of Zerb's researchers for her post on the Post is that piece of human garbage named McClelland - you know: the guy who writes "fuck the Jews" on his web site. And who Zerb quotes approvingly all the time.

I'd ask "who should be ashamed now," but there's no point, is there?
At this point, Mr. Kinsella, I'd say the answer should be you. Sorry, but Zerbisias handed your paper its ass on a platter. You chose to sit at that table, so don't complain about the food.

And, might I add, does this guy have any arguments he can bring to the table except useless ad hominems? Zerb gets that lame "waking hour" bit, and Robert McClelland gets called "human garbage" for a comment that Kinsella doesn't bother to substantiate and is utterly immaterial to the issue at hand.

No wonder he took a shot at me for being pseudonymous! Apparently having no other decent ad hominem to bring to bear, he had to pull out that lame excuse!

(Of course, considering that he didn't even acknowledge that his paper has quietly backed away from its own inflammatory reporting, I think the term "lame excuse" just about sums up the situation, doesn't it?)

Really, though, it makes sense. Only someone who's trading on his connections and past notoriety could possibly get away with that half-assed an argument. Pseudonymity is about building a reputation based on the quality of your arguments, but when you can't bring quality arguments to bear, it makes a hell of a lot of sense that that concept would be threatening, wouldn't it?

Ah well. In any case, this is one situation where "Asper-bashing" is entirely warranted.

Further Edit: Go read the comments to Zerb's piece- Kinsella gets savaged. Also, for a little comedy, go read this piece by Kinsella over the horror that is the use of the word "Nazi" by graffiti artists who write "Nazi Post" on National Post newspaper boxes. I loved this little gem:

We could go on, but the point should already be made. Analogies to the crime of the Holocaust -- and to its perpetrators, the Nazis -- are more than an inappropriate use of language. They are a gross, vile insult to the actual suffering of millions who perished at the hands of the Nazis: Jews and non-Jews, rabbis and priests, communists, gays, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies, trade unionists, non-whites, dissidents and disabled persons.
I'm not sure: do newspapers with (possibly deliberately) poorly researched articles charging a state with behavior directly analoguous with Nazi behavior--that feature pictures of Hungarian Jews on the front page, no less--qualify as "inappropriate", Warren?

Just curious.

Friday, May 19, 2006

And in Iraq?

Horror, pure and simple, as a group of marines, apparently, kill a family at prayer in cold blood:

A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.
From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children . . .

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right . . .

Murtha, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, said at a news conference Wednesday that sources within the military have told him that an internal investigation will show that "there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

“This one is ugly," one official told NBC News.


Ugly? That doesn't even begin to cover it. Dick Cheney is ugly. The Pentagon is ugly. An Abrams tank is ugly. Executing helpless women and children while they're huddled on the floor, praying to their God, is a war crime committed by terrorists. It's Lidice and Rwanda and Srebrenica and, of course, My Lai. The men who committed this crime aren't really human any more -- they shed their humanity like a snake sheds its skin when they walked into those houses and started shooting. All that's left of them is a dark pit at the center of their reptilian brain stems, a place that knows no pity or remorse or even self-awareness. They're lost souls -- lost to the world and to themselves.

I don't know if it's better or worse that this atrocity seems to have been committed by a military unit completely out of control, instead of one that was following orders, as was clearly the case at Abu Ghraib. One one hand, you can argue that it's simply a reminder that Americans are as capable of being beasts as anyone else: Germans, Japanese, Russians, Serbs, Arabs, Afghans, Israelis, Somalians, Afrikaaners, Salvadorans -- the list goes on and on. There's nothing exceptional about us, even in our war crimes.

On the other hand, the fact that U.S. Marines -- the few, the proud, etc. -- were capable of such bestiality says something ominous about the psychological state of the American military after three years of being stretched to the limit. These weren't draftees or Guardsmen or pathetic losers like Calley. These were professionals, supposedly the best of the best, and yet they threw away their training, their code and their honor, and drenched themselves and their flag in the blood of innocents. They simply snapped, in other words, and it makes me wonder how many more like them are out there -- one IED or ambush away from going beserk.

There is a whiff of genocide in the air, and not just in Iraq. While the keyboard warriors still talk in slightly coded terms about waging war with the "ferocity" required to win, some of the real warriors aren't bothering to conceal what those terms really mean. A few days ago I came across a diary at Daily Kos (can't find it now) in which the diarist relayed the gist of his recent conversation with a Marine Corporal -- an MP, of all things, currently stationed at Quantico -- who was eager to get to Iraq so he could "kill some sand niggers."
There are good soldiers out there, ones who are horrified by this sort of violation. There are good American conservatives out there, too, who sincerely believe that the US military can make the world a better place.

What we should never forget, though, is that there are others out there- those that don't truly believe that the enemy is human and deserving of any rights and respect whatsoever. Some of them are America's enemies, but some of them are America's friends.

And some, to the United States' sorrow, are Americans themselves.

One other Billmon quote:

As for the excuse making, well, it's just Abu Ghraib, not to mention My Lai, all over again. There's something about war atrocities (ours as well as the other side's) that brings out the absolute worst in the keyboard commandos. If they could only hear themselves, they might realize they sound just like a bunch of Serbian paramilitary groupies, arguing that their boys couldn't have raped and murdered their way through Bosnia because Serbian fighters are men of honor, that everybody knows the foreign media made those stories up, and that the "Turks" just got what was coming to them -- all at the same time.
That's the problem, really. American exceptionalism isn't an incontrovertible fact, but a national myth. Like all myths, it can inspire Americans to actually strive to live up to the myth. Like all myths, however, it just serve as a feeble excuse for inhuman acts.

It certainly has today.

And Now for Something Completely Different (read: not about Warren)

A ways back I had mentioned how much I liked the Dean Gray "American Edit" song mashup. I'm also a big fan of trailer mashups; some of them are utterly brilliant.

Because I haven't tried video embedding yet, and because this really is a great trailer mashup, I give you Titanic 2: Jack's back. It's about a month old, but heck with it, it's quality stuff anyway.

Iggy's in trouble...

I hadn't taken a close look at the numbers for last night's narrow vote in the Canadian Parliament on extending their mission in Afghanistan, so I hadn't realized that only 24 Liberals had voted in favor of the mission. I did know that Ignatieff's group of 11 had played a decisive role, but I hadn't realized that they made up almost half of the supporters. That puts Ignatieff in a bad position.

And now, Stephen Harper is twisting the knife:

After narrowly winning the vote to prolong the risky Afghanistan mission, a triumphant Stephen Harper crossed the floor of the Commons and threaded his way to the back of the Liberal benches to shake hands with Michael Ignatieff.

The prime minister's gesture may well turn out to be the political equivalent of the kiss of death for Ignatieff's bid to lead the Liberal party.

Ostensibly, Harper was simply thanking the rookie Toronto MP and acclaimed scholar for being one of only 24 Liberals to support the Conservative government's motion to extend the Afghanistan military deployment for two years.

But some Liberals suspect more partisan motives. They think Harper wanted to underscore the divisions the Afghanistan issue has created in Liberal ranks, particularly among the 11 leadership contenders.
The decision by Liberal leader Bill Graham to make the vote an open one was a good(if somewhat misunderstood) idea; there are divisions in the Liberal party, and were Graham to require a straight vote, he would have had to direct the party to vote "no" or face a caucus revolt. He clearly didn't want to do that to the mission's unquestioning supporters, despite the utterly bankrupt tactic that Harper's vote represented.

That said, it did put Ignatieff in an awkward position, and Harper (with admitted skill) read that and did what he could do to exact the most damage. Ignatieff got Liebermanned, in a political system that is about as inclined towards bipartisanship as your typical Texas Republican.

The media is painting this as a Harper victory; fine, that's their right, although I don't agree. To a great extent, though, Ignatieff is the reason for that victory. Because of that, and because Harper took such trouble to recognize him for it, Ignatieff is now going to be battling this for the rest of the leadership race.

Wanted: liberal comment writers

Please apply within.

Once again, the conservative tide among Canadian blog comment writers is incredible; even when they aren't large "C" Conservatives, the talking points are so relentlessly pro-Harper that it astounds.

Where the hell are all the liberals in a comments thread responding to one of the more small "l" liberal candidates for Liberal party leadership?

Do they all just hang out at DailyKos?

Edit: guess they're here, where Red Tory hosts a discussion of the Afghanistan mission that actually seems to feature, well, liberals.

More Warren (This time it's actually relatively complimentary)

One of the reasons I was surprised by the weakness of Warren Kinsella's post on Afghanistan is that generally Warren can make a good argument, and he makes a good one here.
(This national post piece is linked from his own blog. I'd give you a permalink, but he, bizarrely, doesn't have them.)

He points out the growing importance of blogs and bloggers in Canadian politics as a source of news and commentary, and how blogs almost certainly played a role in the Conservatives' win in 2006. I'm sure I agree, and it's one of the reasons I became interested in the nascent Canadian political blogging scene in the first place. He quotes Paul Wells as saying that the Conservatives' increased "blog awareness" had a role in their success.

Perhaps. But as he says elsewhere in the piece, bloggers are primarily white males earning over $60,000 a year. This is almost by definition going to be a conservative crowd. Even when they're not, the Internet doesn't really reward moderation: because of the self-selection involved, a slow migration to polarized extremism is--as Cass Sunstein theorized ages ago--practically inevitable. As I'd said in an earlier piece, what distinguishes the Canadian "blogosphere" is how utterly dominated by conservatives it is- the communities of liberals and leftists that tend to spring up in the comments threads of popular liberal blogs are nowhere to be found, and carping Cons abound everywhere.

This is something Warren may want to take seriously, though. He has, apparently, abandoned the Liberal Party at the federal level. I can only assume he's fine with the idea of subjecting Canada to the tender mercies of a market fundamentalist zealot masquerading as a "hockey dad". I can also only assume he's doing it because he wants to help the Liberal Party of Ontario and let the rest of the country hang.

(It's a bizarre move that I can't recall people even considering in the United States, but anyway...)

What bloggers did in the last federal election, they can do in the next provincial one. Even if Warren is fine with Harper, he's surely not fine with John Tory, and Tory will be able to count on a torrent of online support from both inside and outside the province. It's easy to take shots at the Liberals when it's the party you've abandoned, but will it be so easy when Dalton McGuinty be the next to fall?

In any case, it's a good column, and Kinsella's work in the Post is refreshingly free of the WSJ-like conservative boosterism that infests the rest of that paper's opinion journalism.

Of all the possible responses the post below, the last thing I was expecting out of Warren Kinsella was a pseudonymity slam.

I guess when you're trading on your fame, someone who wants to ensure that debate doesn't devolve into personal attacks and appeals to personal authority is anathema, huh.

Yes, it does open up the possibility of pseudonymous slander... but honestly, what good does pseudonymous slander serve? If you're engaged in real debate and discussion of ideas it isn't slander, by definition. If you are attempting to slander, you can't possibly bring anything credible to the table, because you can't assert personal knowledge without revealing your identity.

The Publius identity was important in American history because of the federalist papers, not because it was used to accuse Ben Franklin of being a closet fag. That's not what pseudonyms are for, and, honestly, they just don't work that way. The point is that the author of an argument simply isn't the long run, it's the argument itself that matters.

And in the case of that post, the argument sucked.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Memo to Warren Kinsella

While I can understand your position, this kind of crap won't stand:

I know some of them truly, truly agonized over this. But as I said to one MP, hours before the vote: "Forget about the strategy crap, like how it will look politically that we send the troops over there, and now we are changing our minds. Forget about that. Think about the fact that we are there because it is the right thing to do, and that we are there alongside the rest of the world. That's what counts." I didn't bother to ask him how he would feel about a vote to withdraw, on the day that is inexorably coming - on the day when a bomb detonates in a Canadian city's subway system. None of this will seem very distant and abstract, then.
Most of this argument is fine. The bolded part, however, is the kind of ridiculously manipulative twaddle that poisoned the debate over Iraq in the United States, and Canadians (Liberals, no less!) should have no part in.

Scare tactics about possible bombs in the Toronto subway system, aside from necessarily being based on a complete misinterpretation of Al Qaeda's current organizational structure, are no way of winning an argument.

Warren asserts that a loss in the vote would have "condemned the Liberal Party to the moral wilderness for years to come. God's Truth". Sorry, Warren, but considering what that sort of argument has engendered in the past few years, I'd say that this post places you more firmly in the wilderness than this vote could ever have.

God's Truth.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Harper's next misstep?

It looks like the Canadian PM is in danger of losing a parliamentary vote on Canada's mission in Afghanistan:

The fate of a surprise Conservative motion to extend Canada's mission in Afghanistan was up in the air Wednesday after the Bloc Québécois said it will not support the measure and the Liberals suggested that MPs will be allowed to vote their own minds on the issue.

The NDP has already said its 29 members will not back the motion, which calls for the extension of Canada's commitment in the war-torn country by two years.

Separately, reports also emerged Wednesday afternoon that another Canadian soldier had been killed Afghanistan, bringing the total number of members of the Canadian military killed in the country since 2002 to 16. A Canadian diplomat has also been killed in the country.

A spokeswoman for National Defence in Ottawa couldn't confirm the reports.

After a meeting of the Liberal caucus Wednesday morning, interim Liberal leader Bill Graham told reporters that the caucus is “totally and utterly united” in support to the mission.

He said, however, that MPs also feel they have had a “gun put to [their] heads” by the Conservatives' time frame on the debate and vote.

“We find this process abusive,” he said. “We find the process strange.

“Our caucus is completely linked together supporting our troops and in support of our mission in Afghanistan, which was the decision of our Liberal government, because we wanted to bring peace and prosperity and a chance for a better life for the Afghan people.”

As a result, he said, members of the party will listen to the arguments in the House and form their own decisions.
Of course, the mission will still probably happen; this maneuver by Harper's opposition strikes me as a way of distancing themselves from him, rather than actually trying to kill the effort.

Still, I hadn't noticed this before: Apparently Canada isn't the peacekeeper it used to be:

In the report, the Polaris Institute also said Afghan and related operations account for more than two-thirds – 68 per cent – of the $6-billion spent on international missions during that time frame.

Over that period, the group said, Canada devoted $214-million, about 3 per cent of international-mission spending, on United Nations missions.

“It's clear that we have virtually abandoned UN peacekeeping today,” Steven Staples, analyst with the institute, told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.

The institute also said Canada now has only 59 military personnel devoted to UN missions, compared with about 2,300 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Canada – once ranked among the top 10 contributors to UN missions in terms of military personnel – now ranks 50th out of 95 countries.

The group based its total-spending estimates on figures reported in annual editions of the Defence Department Report on Plans and Priorities. It also argues that broader parliamentary hearings are needed before any decision is made on extending the mission.
I hadn't realized Canada's position had changed so dramatically. I imagine the public doesn't either.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Shorter Lee Seigel

"I have" absolutely no idea what critical satire is, and will defend the American media to my last ignorant breath".

"Oh, and I can't grasp the idea that conservatives could be lying about the media and liberals be calling it as it is."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

To Richard Cohen:

Republicans like calling liberals traitors. No small number think they should be locked up and/or shot. At least one said that they wished that Al Qaeda would destroy the New York Times.

No, angry emails don't compare.

People aren't ticked because you said that Colbert wasn't funny. That's subjective, although professional comedians apparently disagree. People are ticked because you whined about Colbert being "a bully" to the most powerful man in the world, and are being ungentlemanly about it because genteel "agree to disagree" nonsense by self-proclaimed "liberals" who should know better is half the reason the Union is in such a mess.

Just so you know.

Monday, May 08, 2006

So, Yeah, Blair's in Trouble

Clarke is fired in Cabinet purge according to the beeb, but it hasn't helped much:

Charles Clarke has been sacked as home secretary in the biggest Cabinet reshuffle of Tony Blair's career.
The prime minister is trying to regain momentum after one of the worst local election results in Labour's history.

Mr Clarke will be replaced by Defence Secretary John Reid. Margaret Beckett is the new foreign secretary, with Jack Straw becoming Commons leader.

John Prescott will stay as deputy prime minister but lose his department. Trade Secretary Alan Johnson gets education.

Labour came third in the overall share of the vote in local elections in England, losing control of 18 local authorities. The Tories were the biggest winners, gaining 316 extra councillors and 40% of the vote.

The results - which saw Labour lose 319 councillors - prompted Mr Blair to push ahead with a reshuffle originally planned for Monday.

The reshuffle comes amid reports a letter is circulating among Labour MPs calling for Mr Blair to name a date for his handover of power to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The PM said he was "sorry" to lose Mr Clarke, who has been under intense pressure over the deportation of foreign prisoners - one of a series of scandals to have rocked the government in recent weeks.

But he added: "I felt that it was very difficult, given the level of genuine public concern, for Charles to continue in this post."
Yeah, Tony, there's clearly a level of public concern about you continuing in your post as well.

The Tories seem happy:

Giving his reaction to the moves, Conservative leader David Cameron said: "It will take far more than a reshuffle. What we need in this country is a replacement."

He said the Conservatives were "showing there is a broad-based alternative that is building while the government is collapsing".
While the LibDems not so much:

The Liberal Democrats failed to make predicted advances, gaining less than 20 councillors, but Sir Menzies Campbell insisted it was not a test of his leadership.

He said Mr Blair should have sacked Mr Clarke "before now", saying the prime minister was "trying to shuffle a pretty battered pack of cards".
I think the Liberal Democrats are still pretty well placed, though. After all, Labour is still, well, labouring under the burden placed upon it by its connection to Bush's war, and yet the Conservatives are almost certain not to change the direction of government much. If the Conservatives win and there isn't much change, the LibDems can get respectable gains using a genuinely liberal (and probably somewhat "England First") platform.

Certainly the polling suggests LibDem strength:
If Thursday's polls had been held nationwide, the Tories would have gained 40% of the vote, Lib Dems 27% and Labour 26%. Turnout is estimated at 36% - down three points from 2004.

Of course, all this may be moot if Tony gets tossed over the side like Thatcher was and Brown essentially turns Labour into a whole new party. Which, honestly, seems more likely by the day.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Is it just me, or does anybody else find it disturbing that a purported psychiatrist is seriously trying to argument that disliking the president is proof of dangerous mental illness?

I've heard this "Bush Derangement Syndrome" twaddle before, but I didn't think I'd ever hear it from a purported practicing psychiatrist. Never mind the professional prescriptions against diagnosis-at-a-distance that this ignores, but to describe her ideological opponents as sick, deranged, barbaric and possessed by pathological displacement--when the motivating factor is almost certainly a different interpretation of policy and a deep difference in basic epistemological assumptions--is nothing short of dangerous.

It raises the spectre of totalitarianism far more effectively than anything the NSA is doing.

(Edit: This came from an entry where she claimed that those who enjoyed Colbert's satire were mentally ill. Yes, I'm serious. Yes, I find that as wrong as you probably do.)

(Further Edit: Fixed the gender. So much for gender stereotypes.)

You know how Colbert is always talking about people "getting it"? Richard Cohen doesn't (Edit: Now with someone that does)

Richard Cohen doesn't:

Colbert made jokes about Bush's approval rating. He made jokes about Bush's intelligence, mockingly comparing it to his own. 'We're not some brainiacs on nerd patrol,' he said. Boy, that's funny.
Either Cohen has absolutely no idea about the Colbert persona, or he's got the single worst sense of humor I've ever seen.

He referred to the recent White House staff changes, chiding the press for supposedly repeating the cliché "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" when he would have put it differently: "This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg."

A mixed metaphor and lame as can be.
Ok, it's both. He doesn't get the joke, and doesn't get that a principal part of Colbert's persona is his satire of wingnuts' desperate desire to spin in Bush's favor.

Too bad. Cohen can be insightful sometimes, but when you say stuff like this:

Mockery that is insulting is not. This is why Colbert was more than rude. He was a bully
... about someone who is criticizing George W. Bush, you betray that not only do you not get the joke, you've forgotten what your job is supposed to be- to serve as a check on power, instead of its apologist.

Edit: John Rogers, however, does, and he's a comic:

In various circumstances as a road comic, I have seen every comic you can imagine, at some point or another, suck it. Hard. Seinfeld, Leno, Belzer, Ellen*, Ray Romano, pick 'em. Sometimes you just don't gel with an audience, but at that point you've been doing it long enough not to suddenly think the five years of good shows were somehow flukes.

But I have seen plenty of people "bomb" who left me breathless with the genius of their writing. Larry David, who a fair number of even the conservative culture mavens love, was notorious for his spellbinding nightclub routines that comics standing in the back of the room marvelled at but audiences hated. Garry Shandling famously worked open-mike nights for something like SEVEN YEARS before he was able to meld his brilliant writing with something audiences could relate to.

If Colbert "bombed", it was because the audience didn't like him. And you know what -- they WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO. We have been treated to toothless feel-good comedy for so long, we have forgotten what the court jester's job was: he was the only guy who could mock the King. And, seeing as we now have a President who acts like a King, it's only fitting that Colbert revive the tradition in its truest form. If I remember correctly, the toady court followers were also fair game for the Jester, and we could hardly call the modern media anything less these days, can we?
Ok, maybe John Rogers needs to be sent to a Re-Neducation camp for WrongThink, but meanwhile, I think he knows comedy better than Cohen.

Edit: Oh hell, I just read the best analogy I've seen yet for the Colbert performance. From Warren Benedetto's comment in the thread of that post:

Watching Colbert, I suddenly felt that same rush I felt hearing some of those groundbreaking comics for the first time. Not because the material was so shocking or original (though I do think it was one of the most brilliant pieces of comedy writing I've heard in ages), but because of how brazen Colbert was in his choice of audiences. He didn't say anything that hasn't been said on The Daily Show every day for the last 5 years, but WHO he said it to ... wow.

That wasn't an audience not laughing. That was an audience left speechless. They were made uncomfortable in the same way audiences were when Richard Pryor stood up and shoved their subconscious racism in their faces. That just doesn't happen anymore, and it was a delight to witness.
Richard Pryor, like Bill Hicks (whose performances Colbert reminded me of) and Lenny Bruce was one of those comics that didn't always make you laugh, but only because your brain was reeling in shock that "somebody is actually saying that. Now. Here. To THIS AUDIENCE. I love Pryor's material, but even now much of it is truly is shocking to listen to... you laugh, but it's difficult, because the anger and frustration and alienation comes through like a beacon in the dark.

(I still can't get over Pryor's "Bicentennial Nigger" routine. Listen to a live performance of it sometime. People don't laugh, because it's almost painful...but it's also absolutely brilliant, and necessary, and we're better for having had him say it.)

Canadian Quirk

Those readers who aren't coming in from a mixed up Google search will probably know by now that I've developed an interest in Canadian politics; specifically the Liberal leadership battle. I've already said why, so there's no need to repeat myself.

What's struck me, however, is the extent to which conservatives have infiltrated, and even dominated, commentary on the process in the blogosphere. The kinds of outsider trolls that would be roundly shouted down on, say, Atrios' blog or Digby's blog are not only tolerated, but seem to have a fairly dominant position on sites like Calgary Grit or Cherniak on Politics. These sites are central to the Liberal leadership debate.

I wonder whether it's a function of the commenting system, though; by and large Canadian blogs use the provided Blogger comment system, which (unfortunately) tends to either be flooded with anonymous comments or restricted to commentators with Blogger accounts. I'd like to see Cherniak and CalGrit switch to something like Haloscan, but they might be reluctant to jettison the comments they already have.

In any case, this raises the question: is it like this in other non-American english-language blogging scenes, or is this restricted to the Canadian variant? Do Australians and Brits have this problem? I'm honestly not sure, and I'd be interested in finding out, because I had seen the growing ideological online division in the United States as fulfilment of Cass Sunstein's predictions of exclusive communities that, by and large, keep away from each other, but that clearly isn't happening in Canada.

In the meantime, however, it's somewhat unfortunate, as Canadian conservatives seem to have little place in a discussion about the future of the Liberal party and (as I believe) the future shape of North American liberalism. they don't share the assumptions, they don't share the goals, and they have every reason to disrupt and corrupt the process. While exclusionism seems to be against the basic tenets of liberalism, let's be honest here- when it's those basic tenets that are in question, one can be forgiven for wanting to know that the discussants actually have the prosperity of the philosophy and the movement in mind.

Colbert as Meme

I think it's safe to say that the attempt to marginalize Stephen Colbert's speech has failed. It's now a full-on Internet-fueled viral meme.

Plus, it's also raised the profile of the increasingly ubiquitous television hosting sites like Youtube and Google Video; although YouTube's decision to take down the content is somewhat disappointing, the damage was done.

Actually, that raises an interesting point. The revisions to copyright law in the United States are making the laws against breaking DRM schemes so vicious that it would actually be preferable to simply steal a DVD/CD instead of copying it. Fine, but what does this do to the Internet's ability to break down the "gatekeeper" role of the media? There's no question that there has been a push to bury Colbert's speech, and the Internet has essentially kept it alive.

Considering that there are clear public policy reasons to keep the speech available, and dubious justification for removing it, are we seeing a case where DRM doesn't just hurt the creative process, but the democratic process as well?

I'm not the biggest fan of draconian IP laws already, but this is making me wonder whether or not the interests of American democracy will, ironically, push people to open up offshore servers.

Edit: Looks like that's not necessary just yet. IFilm has the speech here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wolcott "gets it" about Stephen Colbert

James Wolcott has the best take I've seen so far on Stephen Colbert's blistering satire at the White House Correspondant's Dinner:

A note about the Stephen Colbert monologue at the Correspondents' Dinner that Elisabeth Bumiller seems to have slept through face-down in her entree. No question the stint played better on TV than it did in the room with C-SPAN cutting to gowned lovelies in the audience with glaceed expressions and tuxedo'd men making with the nervous eyes, but to say he "bombed" or "stunk up the place" (Jonah Goldberg's usual elegance) is wishful thinking on behalf of the wishful thinkers on the right, who have nothing but wishful thinking to prop them up during the day....

..... Instead, Colbert was cool, methodical, and mercilessly ironic, not getting rattled when the audience quieted with discomfort (and resorting to self-deprecating "savers," as most comedians do), but closing in on the kill, as unsparing of the press as he was of the president. I mean no disrespect to Jon Stewart to say that in the same circumstances, he would have resorted to shtick; Colbert didn't. Apart from flubbing the water-half-empty joke about Bush's poll ratings, he was in full command of his tone, comic inflection, and line of attack. The we-are-not-amused smile Laura Bush gave him when he left the podium was a priceless tribute to the displeasure he incurred. To me, Colbert looked very relaxed after the Bushes left the room and he greeted audience members, signed autographs. And why wouldn't he be? He achieved exactly what he wanted to achieve, delivered the message he intended to deliver. Mission accomplished.
Not much else to say, really. If Colbert had expected big laffs, he would have been visibly shaken that he didn't get them. Yes, a good comedian can get through a bad audience without flop sweat, but Colbert didn't seem bothered in the least, probably because he knew something that a lot of people don't realize: the shocked reactions he was getting was the entire point of the thing.

Stephen Colbert didn't need to make those people laugh. He has nothing to prove as a comedian, or as a satirist. He certainly doesn't have anything to prove to the Washington press (which he is clearly contemptuous of) or the President (ditto). He didn't need to, and he didn't try.

Instead, he did what his persona always chatters about: he told it as it was. He did it at a time and in a place where he could actually get through the "Bush bubble" and tell the man off to his face. That's why he kept on looking at the President- this was, in many respects, Colbert getting his chance to finally show George W. Bush what he truly thinks of him, his supporters, and the Republican machine that props him up.

As Wolcott said: "Mission accomplished".

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Could it be? Has Fitzmas Really Come at Last?

Fitzgerald to Seek Indictment of Rove:

Despite vehement denials by his attorney, who said this week that Karl Rove is neither a "target" nor in danger of being indicted in the CIA leak case, the special counsel leading the investigation has already written up charges against Rove, and a grand jury is expected to vote on whether to indict the Deputy White House Chief of Staff sometime next week, sources knowledgeable about the probe said Friday afternoon.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was in Chicago Friday and did not meet with the grand jury.

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, was informed via a target letter that Fitzgerald is prepared to charge Rove for perjury and lying to investigators during Rove’s appearances before the grand jury in 2004 and in interviews with investigators in 2003 when he was asked how and when he discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA, and whether he shared that information with the media.

If the grand jury returns an indictment Rove would become the second White House official - and one of the most powerful political operatives in the country - charged in the case since the leak investigation began in the fall of 2003.

In the event that an indictment is handed up by the grand jury it would be filed under seal. A press release would then be issued by Fitzgerald’s press office indicating that the special prosecutor will hold a news conference, likely on a Friday afternoon, sources close to the case said. The media would be given more than 24 hours notice of a press conference, sources added.

Luskin was at his office when called for comment but his assistant said he would not take the call or comment on this story.
Of course, he's getting nailed for lying instead of leaking, but if it worked on Bubba...