28 June 2006

Rush to Judgment

Quote of the week, provided by Digby:

The main thing is that we shouldn't condemn
Rush for his hypocrisy. We should extend an
understanding hand and help him come to terms
with his problems. He's just another flawed,
dysfunctional, rich, celebrity Republican drug
addict with a taste for kinky sex
. Doesn't he
deserve our compassion?

26 June 2006

More of the Same

Josh Marshall wrote a must-read post last week that
really gets to the heart of Bush’s incoherent Iraq policy.

The president wants to stay in Iraq for at least
three more years. It's not that he won't set a
date to withdraw. He doesn't even have a plan
that gets to the point where the US could end
the occupation. In practice he wants to stay in
Iraq forever. What Republicans are voting for
is More of the Same, More of the Same failed

A failed policy that is just as unpopular within the Iraqi
government as it is among the American people.

Erza Klein adds in today’s Tapped:

The Bush administration is actively working
against the wishes of the elected Iraqi
government and the expressed preferences of
the American public to pursue an indefinite
occupation of Iraq. This is a perpetual
deployment on behalf of no stated goals, no
wish-list of accomplishments, and no obvious
purpose. I can't say whether we want the
military bases, the oil, the regional foothold, or
anything else; but invading a country,
overthrowing their government, and then
remaining against the wishes of the elected
successors is the very definition of an
occupying power, and in any international
context, the neocons would be quick to define
it as a hostile occupying power. Folks
sometimes wonder why we don't have an exit
strategy. The answer, now obvious, is because
we don't want one.

So, Americans will continue to die in Iraq until President
Bush finally leaves the Oval Office and lets someone else
end the violent nightmare he started.

More from Josh:

He's like an owner of a business that's slowly
going under. He doesn't know how to save the
situation. So he won't get more money or
resources to fix the business. That's throwing
good money after bad. And he won't just
liquidate and save what he can, because then
he'd have to come to grips with the fact that
he's failed. So his policy is denial and slow
failure. Here of course the analogy to
President Bush is rather precise since he only
has to hold out until 2009 when he can give
the problem to someone else, just as he did in
his past life with other businesses he drove
into the ground.

But for the country that's not acceptable. We
don't have a policy except for slow burn and
denial. And the president's ego isn't enough to
ask men and women to die for. We need an
actual plan. And the president doesn't have

But will Democrats (besides Murtha) ever get the
message -- and the guts -- to start hammering away at
the Republicans’ More of the Same strategy?

Senator Feingold showed everyone how it's done on
yesterday’s Meet the Press.

It appears to me that the American people
understand that it's time for a timeline to
withdraw the troops from Iraq. The Iraqi
people and the Iraqi government understand
it. It seems like it's only here in Washington
that people don't understand that it's time to
end this mistake. To end our military
involvement there and the votes in
Washington don't show it but the people of
this country and the people of Iraq want us to
stop it.

19 June 2006

Pardon Me?

Newsday (6/17/06):

WASHINGTON -- Now that top White House
aide Karl Rove is off the hook in the CIA leak
probe, President George W. Bush must weigh
whether to pardon former vice presidential
aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the only one
indicted in the three-year investigation.

Speculation about a pardon began in late
October, soon after Special Counsel Patrick
Fitzgerald unsealed the perjury indictment of
Libby, and it continued last week after
Fitzgerald chose not to charge Rove.

"I think ultimately, of course, there are going
to be pardons," said Joseph diGenova, a
former prosecutor and an old Washington
hand who shares that view with many pundits.

And why not? From the war to the economy to Katrina
disaster relief no one in the Bush Administration has
ever been held responsible for their actions (legal or
otherwise). So why start now?

Of course, the real story is that Turd Blossom is no
longer in Fitzgerald crosshairs. And as Arianna rightly
notes in this post, he has Viveca Novak to thank.

For those of you who don't remember this blip
on the Plamegate radar, Novak was the Time
magazine reporter who, over drinks with her
old pal attorney Robert Luskin in the summer
or early fall of 2004 at Washington's Café
Deluxe, let it slip that his client Rove had been
one of the sources who'd leaked the lowdown
on Valerie Plame to Matt Cooper.

By the time Novak spilled the beans to Luskin,
Rove had already appeared before the grand
jury once and had told federal investigators
he had no recollection of talking to Cooper.
Novak's unconscionable blabbing about a
colleague's source led Luskin to thank her and
to do an email search which turned up a
noting that Cooper and Rove had
indeed spoken...


After loosening her lips to Luskin, Novak
zipped them shut, saying nothing to her
editors at Time
while continuing to cover the
Plamegate story. Making matters worse, in
the fall of 2005 she appeared before
Fitzgerald and still did not tell her editors at
Time and still continued to cover the case.
Eventually she acknowledged to her editors
and Time's readers that she had played a key
role in Rove's defense. Earlier this year, she
quietly took a buyout at Time and now works
for the Annenberg Center assessing, of all
things, the honesty of campaign ads.

The sad truth is that Novak's perfidy did more
to stymie the indictment of Karl Rove than
anything else, and while it would be nice to
believe that Rove may yet face criminal
justice for his actions, it's unlikely that he

16 June 2006

The Empire Strikes Back

Darth Doofus makes a surprise visit to Iraq.

Nuri al-Maliki: “Lord Doofus, this is an unexpected
pleasure. We are honored by your presence--”

Darth Doofus: “You may dispense with the pleasantries,
Prime Minister. I’m here to put you back on schedule.”

There’s nothing like a super-secret photo-op to get the
ol’ swagger back. And now that Bush is home and fully
recovered from his 8-minute helicopter ride in searing
, the commander-in-chief is ready to kick ass and
take names -- starting with that shady-looking guy in
the front row.

Eric Boehlert writes:

If you've only read about Bush's foot-in-the-mouth
moment, do yourself a favor and go watch the clip.
Because it's the only way to really appreciate the
extraordinary, can-you-believe-this-guy contempt
Bush flashed for Peter Wallsten, as the President
of the United States took extended moments from
a press conference to break the balls of a legally
blind reporter for wearing shades. (Bush was
clueless about the eye condition at the time.)
Thanks to recent giddy press coverage, Bush thinks
he's riding high at 38 percent in the polls -- a
plateau any other modern day president would be
ashamed to claim -- which explains the return of
The Swagger.

08 June 2006

"A network of networks."

Good news from the Washington Post.

BAGHDAD, June 8 --Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the
mastermind behind hundreds of bombings,
kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq, was killed
early Wednesday by an airstrike --north of
Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday.

Not so good news from Juan Cole.

There is no evidence of operational links
between his Salafi Jihadis in Iraq and the real
al-Qaeda; it was just a sort of branding that
suited everyone, including the US. Official US
spokesmen have all along over-estimated his
importance. Leaders are significant and not
always easily replaced. But Zarqawi has in my
view has been less important than local Iraqi
leaders and groups. I don't expect the guerrilla
war to subside any time soon.

A helpful reminder from Eric Alterman.

It’s nice that they got Zarqawi.  Too bad they
didn’t try harder before the invasion, when they
lied about his membership in Al-Qaeda to create
their phony link between bin Laden and Saddam
Hussein.  Remember, in arguing for war,  Bush
referred to a "very senior al-Qaeda leader who
received medical treatment in Baghdad this
year."  But the administration has given no
indication that Abu Musab Zarqawi collaborated
with senior Iraqi officials.

A not-so-helpful reminder from Donald Rumsfeld.

Given the nature of the terrorist networks,
really a network of networks, the death of
Zarqawi, while enormously important, will not
mean the end of all violence in that country.

07 June 2006

"I Got Happy."


"Billy was a fantastic and gifted musician ... a
superb singer in both recording sessions and
onstage," Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger
said in a statement. "He was great fun to be
with ... and I will miss him a lot."

Fellow Rolling Stone Keith Richards described
Preston as "a genius with all the baggage."

Added Elton John, "He was one of my true
inspirations, one of the greatest keyboard
players of all time and not too shabby a vocalist

Preston began the transformation from sideman
to a star in his own right when he joined forces
with the Beatles in 1969, temporarily helping to
soothe tensions as the band was on the verge of
breaking up.

He performed on both sides of the "Get
Back"/"Don't Let Me Down" single, which was
credited to "The Beatles with Billy Preston" --
the first time the band had shared the spotlight
with a sideman. He accompanied them during
their last concert that year, the famous rooftop
gig in London.

In the early 1970s, he topped the charts as a
solo act with the Grammy-winning instrumental
"Outa Space," "Will It Go Round in Circles" and
"Nothing From Nothing." He also wrote Joe
Cocker's 1974 hit "You Are So Beautiful."

. . .

Born William Everett Preston on September 9,
1946, he moved with his family to Los Angeles
when he was 2. He appeared in the 1958 film
"St. Louis Blues," which starred Nat King Cole
as bluesman W.C. Handy. Preston played Handy
as a child. Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson was
also in the film, and he would go on to play
organ on some of her best-known recordings,
including "In the Upper Room."

In 1962, Little Richard hired Preston to join his
backing band for a European tour. He met the
Beatles during their residency at the Star Club
in Hamburg, Germany, and also Sam Cooke,
who signed him to his SAR label. Cooke was
killed two years later, and Preston signed with
Vee Jay records, one-time American home of
the Beatles, through which he released an
instrumental gospel record.

After a stint playing in the house band for the TV
show "Shindig," he joined Ray Charles' band.
Beatles guitarist George Harrison renewed their
friendship and brought him into the tense Apple
Studios in January 1969 where the Fab Four
were barely speaking to each other while
working on the "Let It Be" film and recording

Preston's organ handiwork can also be heard on
such Beatle songs as "Let It Be," "I Want You
(She's So Heavy)" and "Something."

"What set him apart from other virtuosos was,
quite simply, soul," said Ernie Rideout, editor in
chief at Keyboard Magazine. "He could play the
simplest blues lick on a Wurlitzer electric piano,
and it would have as much emotion as a Paul
McCartney vocal ... Everything he played was
the perfect thing, at the perfect time. That was
his art."

Billy Preston gave a tremendous performance only four
years ago at the Concert for George. He nearly stole the
show from the rock royalty who headlined that gloriously
bittersweet tribute -- just as he had decades earlier with
several of the same musicians at the Concert for Bangladesh.

“By the second show, we all kind of relaxed a
little bit. On my number man, I just -- I got
happy. I just jumped up and ran across the
. Phil Spector was in the truck. He said
where did he go, where did he go?”

-- Billy Preston

But he never truly stole the show. Instead, his exuberance
made everyone around him better players, even The Beatles.

06 June 2006

It's all happening at the zoo.

Kids, don't try this in Kiev.

04 June 2006

Wild Pitch

Can Jesus really help you hit a curveball?
The Rockies seem to think so.

Dave Zirin writes:
In Colorado, there stands a holy shrine called
Coors Field. On this site, named for the holiest
of beers, a team plays that has been chosen by
Jesus Christ himself to play .500 baseball in
the National League West. And if you don't
believe me, just ask the manager, the general
manager and the team's owner.

In a remarkable article from Wednesday's
USA Today, the Colorado Rockies went public
with the news that the organization has been
explicitly looking for players with "character."
And according to the Tribe of Coors,
"character" means accepting Jesus Christ as
your personal lord and savior. "We're nervous,
to be honest with you," Rockies general
manager Dan O'Dowd said. "It's the first time
we ever talked about these issues publicly. The
last thing we want to do is offend anyone
because of our beliefs." When people are
nervous that they will offend you with their
beliefs, it's usually because their beliefs are

01 June 2006

Intelligence Test

Here’s a helpful quiz brought to you by the smart guys
at the Department of Homeland Security.

Which of the following is a “national monument or icon”?
(Choose only one.)

A. Empire State Building - New York, NY

B. United Nations Building - New York, NY

C. Statue of Liberty - New York, NY

D. Alltel Stadium - Jacksonville, FL

Choose carefully. Show all work.
And check your answer here.