Sunday, June 30, 2013


I really don't believe the public is going to fall for this -- at least not directly. However, I think it's possible that the mainstream press will fall for it, repeat it endlessly, and make it seem plausible to the public:
Stuart Stevens, the top strategist for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, declared to an audience of reporters at a breakfast last month that electing Hillary Rodham Clinton would be like going back in time. "She's been around since the '70s," he said.

At a conservative conference earlier in the year, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, ridiculed the 2016 Democratic field as “a rerun of 'The Golden Girls,'" referring to Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 70.

And Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, seizing on the Fleetwood Mac song that became a Clinton family anthem, quipped to an audience in Washington, "If you want to keep thinking about tomorrow, maybe it’s time to put somebody new in."

The 2016 election may be far off, but one theme is becoming clear: Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton's age. The former secretary of state will be 69 by the next presidential election, a generation removed from most of the possible Republican candidates.

Despite her enduring popularity, a formidable fund-raising network and near unanimous support from her party, Mrs. Clinton, Republican leaders believe, is vulnerable to appearing a has-been....
That's from Jonathan Martin, who left Politico last month and is doing at The New York Times what everyone at Politico has done for years: listen to right-wingers' claims that their talking points are conventional wisdom and objective truth, then regurgitate those talking points as if they are conventional wisdom and objective truth.

When enough mainstream journalists do this, GOP talking points become the C.W. and the truth, as far as the political world is concerned. And then the stories get written with the talking point as a given. See, e.g., 2000, when we were all told we thought Al Gore was an annoying dweeb and George W. Bush was America's Big Man on Campus. The repetition of such talking points is what can sway voters.

But in the absence of that, I don't think the public is inclined to reject Hillary for her age. For one thing, the population is aging, with the biggest cohort being the baby boom -- particularly my age group, people born in the late 1950s. Does Hillary seem old? She's not much older than we are.

Beyond that, as Martin acknowledges, older candidates can win young people's votes. Ronald Reagan did extremely well with the young in 1984. (And Martin doesn't mention this, but the last non-Democrat to find favor with a significant segment of The Kidz is Crazy Uncle Liberty himself, Ron Paul, who's more than a decade older than Hillary.)

If Hillary is going to be the candidate in 2016, she's almost certainly going to be up against a guy who opposes abortion and gay marriage and denies that climate change is caused by humans. More to the point, unless Bobby Jindal runs every likely opponent is a pale male whose candidacy stands for a restoration, a return to the rule of white males. And no, I don't care how many Tupac lyrics Rubio recites -- bond traders know their Tupac, too.

But the press will fall for this. (Did I mention sexism? That's one big reason.) I can even imagine middle-aged male journos telling us that Hillary belongs to yesterday because Chris Christie is a big fan of that oh-so-hip Bruce Springsteen -- never mind the fact that Bruce is only two years younger than Hillary. The press might abandon this meme if the charisma-challenged Scott Walker gets the nomination -- even a press that reflexively parrots GOP spin would have tough time selling that guy as a rock star. Otherwise, we're going to hear it. And I hope we utterly reject it.


Tom Friedman interrupts what seems to be a not-terrible column about unrest in Turkey, Egypt, and Brazil to mention recent American protest movements, and decides that getting the facts straight is not as important as writing a sentence with clever-sounding symmetry:
In America, the Tea Party began as a protest against Republicans for being soft on deficits, and Occupy Wall Street as a protest against Democrats for being soft on bankers.
No, Tom. A thousand times no.

Even the second part of that is mind-bogglingly ignorant -- Occupy Wall Street wasn't a protest against Democrats, it was a protest against the whole damn system. But it's the first part that's preposterous -- yes, Tom, all those pictures at tea party rallies of Obama as Hitler, as a sociopathic (and socialist) Joker, as the political heir of Lenin and Mao, were waved because teabaggers were angry at Republicans.

Friedman actually starts the column by looking at an issue worth examining: why is there so much unrest right now in democratic nations? He concludes that Turkey, Brazil, and Egypt have "majoritarian" governments that don't do enough for groups that are the part of the electoral minority, and that modern capitalism makes it harder to attain and retain middle-class status.

So, perhaps naively, I though he'd ask why we don't have a million people streets in America, when the government seems not to be responsive to ordinary people's needs and the middle class is shrinking. Nahhh. His theory about other nations is that the victors aren't interested in the welfare of the losers, but his view of America is that Both Sides Do It, so I guess that's all you need to know.

After that, it's off to Friedmanland, as in: Isn't the Internet amazing!
Finally, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook and blogging, aggrieved individuals now have much more power to engage in, and require their leaders to engage in, two-way conversations -- and they have much greater ability to link up with others who share their views to hold flash protests. As Leon Aron, the Russian historian at the American Enterprise Institute, put it, "the turnaround time" between sense of grievance and action in today's world is lightning fast and getting faster.
Oh, right, the Internet! Almost forget about that! Now I understand the world, Tom! Thanks for clearing everything up!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


AP reporter Ian Phillips traveled from London to Ukraine with a 21-hour layover in Moscow and no visa to enter Russia, just to see if he could find Edward Snowden. He didn't:
After a nearly two-hour wait inside the terminal, a bus picks me up -- only me -- from the transit area. We drive slowly across the tarmac, through a barrier, past electronic gates covered in barbed wire and security cameras.

The main part of the Novotel is out of bounds. My allotted wing feels like a lockup: You are obliged to stay in your room, except for brief walks along the corridor. Three cameras track your movements along the hallway and beam the images back to a multiscreen monitor. It's comforting to see a sign instructing me that, in case of an emergency, the locks on heavily fortified doors leading to the elevators will open.

When I try to leave my room, the guard outside springs to his feet. I ask him why room service isn't responding and if there's any other way to get food. He growls: "Extension 70!" I rile him by asking about the Wi-Fi, which isn't working: "Extension 75!" he snarls....

Now it's midnight, and I'm getting edgy. I feel trapped inside my airless room, whose double windows are tightly sealed....

("Can't I just wait in the lobby after midday?" I asked the receptionist at check-in. "Of course not," she retorted. "You have no visa. You will stay until you are picked up.")...
If this is really the only option for anyone who lands at the Moscow airport and has no Russian visa, then Snowden is in the same grim limbo (which is also an expensive one -- a mozzarella-and-pesto appetizer from room service costs about twenty bucks, a ribeye about fifty). Phillips couldn't locate Snowden:
I've called all the 37 rooms on my floor in hopes of reaching Snowden. No reply except for when I get my security guard.

The floor above? A similarly futile attempt.

I only reach a handful of tired and irritated Russians who growl "Da? Da? Da?"
Is he even there? Is it possible he's been spirited out of the country -- or into the country?

We know from The New York Times that the Russian government is cheering him on:
While Edward J. Snowden has remained mysteriously hidden from sight during his visit to Russia this week, Russian television has been making him a hero.

On programs that were hastily arranged and broadcast on the two largest federal channels, he was compared to the dissident Andrei Sakharov, to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and to Max Otto von Stirlitz, a dashing fictional double agent from Soviet television. He was described as "the man who declared war on Big Brother and got stuck in the transit zone," and as "a soldier in the information war, who fights, of course, on the side of Russia, or maybe the side of China."

... Since Mr. Snowden landed in Moscow on Sunday, the likelihood that he will remain in Russia has steadily crept up....
I think he's out of the airport, but is somewhere in Russia or elsewhere in the former Soviet bloc. (He'd be blabbing to the press if he were anywhere he felt free.) It's ironic if he refused to return to the U.S. because he didn't want to face Bradley Manning's fate and is now effectively a prisoner somewhere in Putin's sphere of interest.

Tweets from Eric Bolling of Fox News:

The tweets refer to Cashin' In, Bolling's weekend show on Fox, which is apparently going to report on a "Paula Deen comeback" despite the fact that that's not exactly what she seems to be going through right now:
... In a brief statement Friday, Ballantine Books announced it had canceled publication of "Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up." The book was scheduled for release in October...

Deen has lost many of her business relationships following revelations that she used racial slurs in the past. Sears Holdings Corp and J.C. Penney Co. Friday that they're cutting ties with Deen, following similar announcements from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Home Depot.

Last week, the Food Network said that it would not renew her contract. She was also dropped by Smithfield Foods, Caesars Entertainment stripped her name from restaurants and drug company Novo Nordisk said it was suspending its work with her.
But, yeah, Amazon has her last book at #1 and the canceled book at #2. So a lot of fans are still with her.

The comments at the Amazon page for the last book include some people who seem as if they might be well-meaning, if perhaps inclined to hit you over the head with their well-meaning-ness:
I don't normally buy items for a policical statement but this time I have. Paula has freedom of speech and I have the power of the buck. Today I bought this book AND a box of cheerios (in support of their ad that contains a mixed race marriage). Time for American to grow up beyond the age of ten years old, get over the polical correctness crap and get on with life.
Others, not so much:
Since there seems to be a double-standard for the use of the "N" word, maybe we need a rule book on its use: e.g., whites can't use it because they have to be politically correct at all times, blacks can use it among themselves, wealthy film producers can use it and make lots of money (they get a free pass). What? No rule book? That's silly? Well then, why don't we just nix the word and be a little kinder to one another!
Although that's not nearly as bad as this Facebook post, found by The Atlantic's Alexander Abad-Santos at a Tumblr called White People Mad at the Food Network:

Are you picking up a common thread in the defenses of Deen? Referring to Deen's critics, The Atlantic's Abad-Santos says,
... people are more upset that Deen's deposition has roots in an employment discrimination lawsuit with a slew of ugly allegations, the most serious of which is that Deen enabled a hostile and racist work environment.
He notes, in particular, the detail that galled me the most: that she "fantasiz[ed] about an antebellum-themed wedding, complete with slaves."

But that's not what this is being reduced to, in the eyes of Deen's defenders. To them, she's being crucified for one decades-old use of the N-word -- and that's it.

Generally speaking, that's Fox's comfort zone: creating and/or exploiting angry white people's perceptions of what's going on, rather than what's actually going on. So, as Abad-Santos points out, we get this from Fox's Todd Starnes:
The liberal anti-South media is trying to crucify Paula Deen. They accuse her of using a derogatory word to describe a black person.

Paula admitted she used the word -- back in the 1980s - when a black guy walked into the bank, stuck a gun in her face and ordered her to hand over the cash.

The national media failed to mention that part of the story....
So, to sum up: loyal fan base, story that can be distorted to make liberals into the villains, and two Foxsters (Starnes and Bolling) already in her corner.

I expect Deen to be a regular on Fox & Friends by Labor Day.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Jonathan Chait is prematurely declaring victory, in a post titled "Remember the Obama Scandals? That Used to Be a Thing":
Do you remember how all-consuming the "Obama scandals" once were? This was a turn of events so dramatic it defined Obama's entire second term -- he was "waylaid by controversies," or at least "seriously off track," "beset by scandals," enduring a "second-term curse," the prospect of "endless scandals," Republicans "beginning to write his legislative obituary," and Washington had "turned on Obama." A ritualistic media grilling of Jay Carney, featuring the ritualistic comparisons of him to Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler, sanctified the impression of guilt.

It has come and gone, having left barely a trace. To be sure, the Obama scandals live on in the conservative world, where the evidence of deep corruption and venality grows stronger and stronger. But that is merely the confirmation of suspicions of "Chicago politics," ACORN and so on, that predate recent events and don't require any particular facts to survive.
The scandals have "left barely a trace"? Really?

I agree that the acute phase of this period of scandal -- or at least of the pre-Snowden scandals -- is over. But there are lingering effects, and Obama may not completely recover. And the NSA story continues to evolve.

Now, I agree that there doesn't seem to be much juice left in the Benghazi story. Benghazi never meant much outside the community of Obama-haters; non-haters couldn't figure out what the hell they were supposed to hate Obama for doing with regard to Benghazi, so they never linked Obama to it at all.

But the NSA story is just the opposite. I think people are having trouble grasping the details of it, but they're resolving their confusion in favor of thinking that Obama's behavior has been more blameworthy than it actually is. So you have Mick Jagger getting laughs in concert by saying,
"I don't think President Obama is here tonight, but I'm sure he's listening in."
You have this circulating online -- possibly the first Net-based anti-Obama joke that's actually funny (click to enlarge):

Yeah, these are just jokes -- but the notion that Obama's an evil snooper, personally listening in on calls and reading e-mails, is getting to be embedded in America's subconscious. Even if people don't believe that literally, it's seriously damaging.

The IRS story (and, to a much lesser extent, the AP/Fox story) were table-setters for that, of course. The IRS story is supposed to be over -- but the right doesn't think so. I yield to no one in my willingness to mock Peggy Noonan, but I don't know how to rebut what she writes today:
A breathlessly exonerative narrative swept the news media this week: that liberal groups had been singled out and, by implication, abused by the IRS, just as conservative groups had been. Therefore, the scandal wasn't a scandal but a mere bungle -- a nonpolitical series of unhelpful but innocent mistakes.

The problem with this story is that liberals were not caught in the IRS dragnet. Progressive groups were not targeted....

According to a House Ways and Means Committee source, only seven of the 298 cases flagged by the IRS for extra scrutiny appeared to represent progressive causes. Not one of the seven was subject to harassment or abuse. Of the seven, only two were even sent follow-up questionnaires after their applications for tax-exempt status were received. Neither of those two was asked inappropriate or invasive questions. And all seven saw their applications approved.
Maybe there's fatigue surrounding this story, and maybe everyone outside the right -- for good reason -- thinks Obama has nothing to do with what happened at the IRS anyway. Maybe most people, being apolitical, don't give a crap what happens to political activists of any kind. But I'm not sure we can completely wash our hands of this if the extra scrutiny was so disproportional.

And Benghazi may be dead, but there's a chance it may become undead next year:
Benghazi security team nails $3M book deal

... Twelve Books, which announced this week it signed a deal with four members of the elite security team from the annex of the US Embassy in the Mideast town, is paying a $3 million advance....

The book by the authors -- whose names were not released -- is scheduled to be released in 2014....
Twelve is not part of the wingnut media. Twelve is an imprint of Hachette's publishing division, which includes the likes of Little, Brown. Twelve's books are mostly apolitical; among political types, it's published Ted Kennedy's memoir and a book by Henry Waxman, and its righties don't get much further right than Christopher Buckley and Christopher Hitchens. (Twelve's most successful book is probably Hitchens's defense of atheism, God Is Not Great.)

So, yeah, this probably won't be a right-wing hit job. Or maybe this is a case of a non-wingnut publisher looking for a little of that sweet, sweet wingnut cash. (Action-filled military memoirs are big sellers these days as well.)

But what I find most striking is the advance. Three million bucks is a huge advance in the book biz. That's what publishers pay when they're certain they have a blockbuster.

So what the hell is in this book -- which is coming out in 2014, the year of the next midterms?

(Chait via Memeorandum.)


UPDATE: Charlie Pierce fisks the Noonan column. But it's not just her throwing around those numbers, so I think the meme is still alive.

This is getting a lot of attention, some of it a bit overheated:
The Army admitted Thursday to ... restricting access to The Guardian news website ... Armywide.

Presidio employees said the site had been blocked since The Guardian broke stories on data collection by the National Security Agency.

Gordon Van Vleet, an Arizona-based spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, said in an email the Army is filtering "some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks."

He wrote it is routine for the Department of Defense to take preventative "network hygiene" measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information....
A couple of responses:

I don't approve of this, but Wa little perspective, please: When they start blocking civilian access to Web sites in America, then we have a Chinese-style Internet policy. People in the military always lose some freedoms the rest of us have -- that's the nature of the military -- and rightly or wrongly, restrictions on media access have often been part of the deal.

In 2010, the Air Force blocked access to sites publishing information from Wikileaks. That's an obvious parallel to what's going on now. But military censorship of the Web has even extended to a military-wide blockage of Olympics sites in 2008. (It's not clear why, but it's possible that it was because the feeds were coming from China and the military feared hacking.)

And, of course, the military blocked access to YouTube,, and similar sites for many years, and blocked sites self-identified as blogs. The military stopped blocking social media sites as of 2010, but continued to "deny access to prohibited content sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, hate-crime related activities)," according to the Department of Defense. Earlier this year, right-wingers freaked out when reports surfaced that the Southern Baptist Convention's site was being blocked, although the DoD said that that was in response to a temporary malware problem on the SBC site, not in response to content on the site.

But content-based censorship in the miltary has a history that predates the Internet, as Jeff Sharlet notes:

Well, I get the feeling that Vietnam GI was, um, rather provocative:

Sharlet's uncle was also named Jeff Sharlet. Read about his career (which ranged from the U.S. Army Security Agency to SDS) and about Vietnam GI at Wikipedia.

My point in bringing all this up is that it may be wrong, but we haven't entered into a new, unprecedented era of fascism. It's nothing new.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Well, great: the Senate voted for comprehensive immigration reform. Now it's on to the House, where the plan is to throw out the Senate bill, presumably cook up a bill so hard-assed it doesn't count as reform at all, and maybe not even pass that. So forgive me if I'm not breaking out the champagne.

Yeah, on one issue Republicans -- by which I mean some Republicans in one House of Congress (and a minority of those Republicans at that) -- are sufficiently concerned about their party's extremism that they're willing to see reason. But that's not going to prevent the Beltway from using this as yet another opportunity to slip into denial mode about the irreversible dysfunction of our political system, thanks to the GOP.

So we have this:
But senators see this year's immigration debate as a welcome return to some semblance of ordinary legislating.....

"It has been a step in the right direction with eight senators putting the bill forward. The committee markup was robust," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La....

Landrieu said that final passage of the immigration bill shows that major legislation can indeed sprout through the muck of partisan squabbles. "I'm trying to be one of those green shoots," she said a few hours before the Senate's vote.

... basic cordiality among senators was on display throughout the process. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who voted against the bill, congratulated Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on the Senate floor for the fair and transparent way he shepherded the bill through his committee.
Stop. Just stop. This is not "a welcome return to" anything, if by "welcome return" you mean "Thank God we're back to normal." This is an anomalous situation -- one issue, and as far as I know the only issue, on which some Republicans think there are ideas worth considering (if only to preserve their political survival) that would never be heard on Fox News. After this, it's back to business as usual. And any idiot insider who tells you otherwise -- and a lot of them will -- is delusional.

Can we all get along? No, we can't. Not until the Fox-ification of the GOP is a distant memory.

Josh Marhall looks at reactions to the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Act decision from a couple of GOP congressmen -- James Sensenbrenner ("my colleagues and I will work in a bipartisan fashion to update Section 4 to ensure Section 5 can be properly implemented") and Eric Cantor ("I'm hopeful Congress will put politics aside ... and find a responsible path forward") -- and concludes that the VRA really might not be dead:
... I think we can infer a few things pretty clearly. The most important of which is that Cantor does not want the GOP to own this decision....

Let's walk through this.

Seven years ago the VRA passed the Senate with 98 votes. As we've seen from the immigration debate Senate Republicans are a good deal more open-minded shall we say on these issues and much more attuned to the party's need to get out of under the label of "party of white people." Remember, senators don't get to gerrymander their seats. I think there's a very decent chance Democrats could get a reasonably good bill out of the Senate.... is Mitch McConnell going to whip a filibuster on this issue? I doubt it....

So now we have "the Voting Rights Bill" passed out of the Senate and lands over at the House. Does Boehner invoke the Hastert Rule and refuse to bring it to a vote because a majority of his caucus doesn't support it? Quite possible. But again, toxic politics.

I strongly suspect that you'd have a lot of GOP elites ... really not liking that outcome....

... I’m not saying this or the next Congress will be able to resurrect section 4 of the VRA. On balance, I figure it doesn't happen. But if the attempt is made, every step along the way is going to be acutely painful for the GOP.
Would it be? Really? It seems to me that if you forced this onto the national agenda, you'd get pretty much what you've got with the politics of immigration, without the perceived incentive for the GOP of possibly winning over some minority voters: Republican members of the House and Senate with deep-red constituencies would have no problem saying "Hell no," while many Republicans in less-red states and districts would hem and haw and say, "Yes, I suppose we should pass a bill, but I have serious problems with this bill."

And that would be true no matter what was in the bill.

If the bill subjected the entire nation to strict scrutiny on election issues, Republicans would rail that liberal Democrats want to declare every city and town in America guilty of racism until proven innocent, and want to subject everyone to the massive, and inevitably expanding, decision-making bureaucracy of Evil Eric Holder.

If the bill restored the status quo ante, Republicans would solemnly proclaim that this was just the antiquated formula that the Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, threw out. And if you drew up new maps based on recent patterns of problems with minority registration and voting, Republicans would probably play the Black Panther/True the Vote/James O'Keefe/ACORN card and start saying the real problem is manipulation of our elections by black people.

Only they wouldn't say it quite that way. They wouldn't say "black," or at least not all that much. They'd say "Voter fraud." They'd say "Democratic voter fraud" (or, more likely, "Democrat voter fraud"). They'd bring out Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote ("a nice woman, a citizen, an American" --Peggy Noonan). And she'd talk about how she and her group just wanted to remove dead people from the voter rolls and prevent illegal voting -- who could object to that? And for that (cue Noonan whining) she was harassed by the Obama regime! She, a mere housewife and patriot! But now that that's come to light, if we're going to revisit voting rights, shouldn't strict scrutiny be focused primarily on urban Democratic states and districts? Oh, and voter ID -- should there be strict voter ID nationwide?

And low-info voters would think some of what they were hearing sure seemed to make sense. (Remember, huge majorities of Americans back voter ID laws, presumably because they have no idea how difficult it is for poor, elderly, and disabled people, especially those born decades ago, possibly at home with a midwife in an impoverished community, to obtain the documents necessary to vote.)

Believe me, Republicans can demagogue this endlessly, leaving much of the wet work to Republicans in the safest seats while the rest of them tut-tut and say they deeply regret the fact that Democrats keep making proposals that are unreasonable.

So, no, this would never be "acutely painful" for the GOP. It wouldn't be painful at all.

Even though it won't be published until October, Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up is#1 at Amazon:

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. Maybe America is a decent enough country that a poll would show more people disapproving of Paula Deen than approving of her, but bestseller lists survey the yeas and not the nays. The people rallying around Deen are really inclined to rally around her now, because "political correctness," and because she represents heartland culinary values, as opposed to the values of those evil elitists in big Northeast cities (even though this book is apparently about ratcheting down the unhealthiness a wee bit). Or it may be the Michael Jackson syndrome: people derive so much pleasure from her that they can't bear to quit her no matter what we find out about her. Disheartening.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I'm not exactly in the running for the presidency of the Glenn Greenwald Fan Club, but the smear attempts he describes deserve to backfire:
I was not particularly surprised when I received an email last night from a reporter at the New York Daily News informing me that he had been "reviewing some old lawsuits" in which I was involved -- "old" as in: more than a decade ago....

Upon calling him, I learned that he had somehow discovered two events from my past. The first was my 2002-04 participation in a multi-member LLC that had an interest in numerous businesses, including the distribution of adult videos. I was bought out of that company by my partners roughly nine years ago.

The lawsuit he referenced was one where the LLC had sued a video producer in (I believe) 2002 after the producer reneged on a profit-sharing contract. In response, that producer fabricated abusive and ugly emails he claimed were from me -- they were not -- in order to support his allegation that I had bullied him into entering into that contract and he should therefore be relieved from adhering to it. Once our company threatened to retain a forensic expert to prove that the emails were forgeries, the producer quickly settled the case....

The second item the reporter had somehow obtained was one showing an unpaid liability to the IRS stemming, it appears, from some of the last years of my law practice. I've always filed all of my tax returns and there's no issue of tax evasion or fraud. It's just back taxes for which my lawyers have been working to reach a payment agreement with the IRS.

Just today, a New York Times reporter emailed me to ask about the IRS back payments. And the reporter from the Daily News sent another email asking about a student loan judgment which was in default over a decade ago and is now covered by a payment plan agreement.
Working back from the last one: Jesus Christ, you're trying to smear him with late student loan payments? In this economy? Basically, if that's an unforgivable character flaw, then just about everyone I've known in my adult life has bad character. It's certainly not going to make him look bad with the current Jobless Generation. Nor should it.

The porn? OK, there's this from John Cook of Gawker:

Would I? It would certainly reveal, um, a side of him I'd never quite imagined (or maybe never wanted to), but it says nothing to me about anything germane to his life's work as an inside-the-Beltway courtier posing as a journalist. It's not germane to anything Greenwald does, either. It's so far removed from the issues he covers that I have no reason to care about it.

As for the IRS stuff, well, I don't think this is crazy:

Is this all from the NSA (or elsewhere in the government? Is just the IRS material from the government? If it's somehow all discoverable without government-aided snooping, then the journalism is just sleazy. If the government is involved, that actually is Nixonian.

And it's also pathetic. How stupid do you have to be not to realize that most people reading about this, from a journalist or from Greenwald himself, are going to think "Smear"? It's just not going to harm him.

And in fact, it's made him more self-righteous than he already was -- something I didn't think was possible.

Congratulations, whoever's responsible. You attacked Greenwald clumsily and wound up buttressing his arguments.


UPDATE: The Daily News piece is here, a, plusnd it's a hit piece, with devastating revelations like this:
In a 2003 lawsuit, he and his then partner, Werner Achetz, were sued by their West Side condo for having a dog that was bigger than building by-laws allowed.

The couple countered that they and their dog Uli were being singled out because they were gay, a charge the building denied. The case eventually settled.

“The co-op board said the dog could stay,” he said.
An excessively large dog? HANG HIM! Seriously, who the hell cares?

Meanwhile, BuzzFeed has an evenhanded profile that covers some of the same ground as the Daily News story, plus more. In it, Greenwald comes off as a human being. He's still not a human being I think I'd like, but the BuzzFeed story doesn't try to force him into a villain template based on the conduct of his life years before he wrote about politics. I don't really care about those aspects of his life.

Today the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and paved the way for California to resume conducting same-sex marriages. That's great news. But it leaves me wondering why we're moving forward on gay equality, and possibly on the cause of undocumented immigrants, while poor people, unemployed people, people who've fought with banks over their mortgages, non-whites who want to vote, union workers, abortion rights supporters, and a host of other worthy groups are regularly being kicked in the teeth, sometimes (see: yesterday) by the very same Supreme Court that ruled today.

When I consider the possibility that the difference is that powerful economic interests don't lose anything from gay equality, I think: but why does there seem to be progress on immigration? Well, the party the powerful like best, the GOP, allegedly can't win the White House without Hispanic votes. But, then, why are abortion rights under attack in just about every state where Republicans are in charge? Why do Republicans still think a hard-line stance on abortion has no political downside? And why don't they seem to feel that way anymore about gay rights? How did gay rights get decoupled from abortion as part of the traditional-values wedge-issue package that always kept Middle American whites voting for the party most unabashed in its defense of the pluticracy?

Somehow, gay people have been successful at persuading heartlanders -- and some of the Wall Streeters who finance political campaigns -- to wish them well in their fight. They've fought hard, as have immigrants' rights groups. But a lot of groups fight hard. When I compare these groups to groups that have been less successful in recent years, I wonder: Is support for abortion rights and the rights of African-Americans just subject to fatigue, after America has spent so many decades talking about these issues? Are these issues too associated with the hated '60s and '70s? Does the same apply to the poor and unemployed and the unionized, even when the people we're talking about are people who are newly unemployed or impoverished, people who are often heartlanders themselves? Do the causes of gay people and immigrants seem somehow new to Middle America, which is sick of hearing about all that other stuff?

I don't know. I'm just throwing these questions out. I just wish we could bottle and sell whatever the gay-rights movement is doing right these days.

Sorry if I'm not enjoying this:
The nation watched on Tuesday -- and into Wednesday -- as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of impassioned reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation....

"I am overwhelmed, honestly," Davis said after standing for nearly 13 hours to filibuster Senate Bill 5, the abortion legislation....

Republican senators made a last-ditch effort to approve SB 5, voting 19-10, but by then the clock had ticked past midnight. Under the terms of the state Constitution, the special session had ended, and the bill could not be signed, enrolled or sent to the governor....
It's not just that the GOP is ultimately going to win:
Republicans, who control both the state Senate and House, will likely have a second chance at the bill. The governor, who called the special session and put the abortion bill on the agenda, may now call a second special session and once again tell lawmakers to consider the bill, known as Senate Bill 5. Political analysts said the bill will likely pass if a second special session is called, not only because of the large number of Republicans supporting it, but because the increased time will limit the delaying tactics that can be tried by Democrats.
It's that Davis herself almost certainly became a lame duck as of yesterday:

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis ... likely would have lost her seat in 2012 to redistricting if not for the Voting Rights Act that was gutted Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

MSNBC's Zachary Roth reported earlier this month that Republican leaders in Texas tried to slice up Davis' Fort Worth district in 2011 and move thousands of black and Hispanic voters into neighboring districts. But Davis challenged the move in federal court under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act....

The future of Davis' Senate district is unclear now that the Supreme Court has removed the legislature's biggest obstacle to redistricting.

"With today's decision, the state's voter ID law will take effect immediately," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement on Tuesday. "Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government."
In Red America, the SOBs always win.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


From a press release issued yesterday, I learned that Gun Owners of America -- a group that's to the right of the NRA -- thinks the immigration bill is anti-gun:
... only 67 Senators -- three short of Chuck Schumer's 70-vote target -- voted to shut off debate on the anti-gun Hoeven-Corker-Leahy amnesty amendment....

The Chuck Schumers of the world did everything in their power to get the 70-vote threshold which they had predicted -- and which became a floor for the number of votes necessary in order for anti-gunners to avoid embarrassment....

By falling short of their 70-vote goal, Schumer & Co. in effect admitted that the bill would limp out of the Senate without any momentum going into the House. Coupled with our successful efforts to revitalize the Hastert Rule in the House, anti-gun immigration reform is on track to being dead for the year because House Speaker Boehner has said he will not pass it with largely Democratic support....
So, um, why is the immigration bill anti-gun?

An earlier Gun Owners of America press release explains:
... if that bill were to be signed into law, it would add 8.4 million anti-gun voters to the rolls, and make gun registration, bans, and confiscation inevitable within 20 years....
That's right: According to GOA, these people shouldn't have a path to citizenship because they'll support gun control. Citizenship is only for people who agree with what right-wingers want. So kill the bill!

I haven't seen this argument going mainstream yet on the right, but it may not have to -- it's in the mix. Getting a chunk of the gun-crazy community angry about the bill because of likely anti-gun consequences that only gunners can detect might increase the resistance of House Republicans that much more.

I wonder how the Gun Owners of America folks feel about the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act. They're probably pretty psyched.

Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek thinks the GOP may regret its big Voting Rights Act win at the Supreme Court:
On its face, this looks like a big victory for Republicans. Is it really? I suspect it will turn out to be a poisoned chalice. Many of the GOP's current problems stem from the fact that it is overly beholden to its white, Southern base at a time when the country is rapidly becoming more racially diverse. In order to expand its base of power beyond the House of Representatives, the GOP needs to expand its appeal to minority voters. As the ongoing battle over immigration reform demonstrates, that process is going poorly and looks like it will be very difficult.

The Supreme Court's decision to strike down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act will make it easier for Republicans to hold and expand their power in those mainly Southern states. That will, in turn, make it easier for them to hold the House. It will also intensify the Southern captivity of the GOP, thereby making it harder for Republicans to broaden their appeal and win back the White House.
As far as I'm concerned, the GOP has only one current problem: it can't seem to win the White House. Republicans have a lock on the House; Republicans can deny Democrats effective control of the Senate as long as they have 41 seats: and Republicans can apparently win a governor's race in nearly every state in the union, including blue states like Massachusetts (not that long ago) and New Jersey, while also having the ability to take over state legislatures in blue states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. "Current problems"? You could have fooled me.

The Republican Party as a whole is ambivalent about immigration reform, minority outreach, and base-broadening because there's plenty of evidence that non-Republican voters can be gulled into voting Republican no matter how extreme and Southern and antediluvian the party seems. That could even be true at the presidential level in 2016 if Hillary Clinton doesn't run -- have you seen a single poll showing any other Democrat beating a Republican contender? -- or if Hillary's star fades somewhat by then. And if Republicans overcome their current distaste and nominate faux-centrist dreamboat Chris Christie, all bets are off. Democrats and independents love the anti-abortion, climate-change-skeptical, union-bashing Koch lackey.

The disappointing performance of a Democratic president on economic inequality, jobs, mortgage relief, etc., also makes it difficult to paint Republicans as extreme. I say that even though I know that the economic plan of the next GOP president will be brutal and merciless to ordinary Americans -- voters don't know that, and you can't blame them for looking at the past five years and not being sure whether they got the better deal by electing Obama.

So don't be too concerned for the Republicans in the wake of this ruling -- they'll be just fine.

The New York Times gets the libertarian take on today's odious Votiong Rights Act decision:
Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor in chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. He filed an amicus brief supporting Shelby County's challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Q. How would you summarize the decision in a single sentence?

A. The Supreme Court restored a measure of constitutional order by recognizing that the exceptional conditions that justified the extra-constitutional federal oversight of state election laws no longer exist, thankfully.

... Q. How will the ruling affect elections and voting? How will it affect minority turnout and representation?

A. It won't affect elections much other than that the time and money previously spent by local, state and federal officials on Section 5 compliance will now be freed up for constructive purposes....

Q. What's next for the Voting Rights Act?

A. Resources will be shifted to enforcing Section 2, which covers individual instances of racial discrimination in voting.
More from Ilya Shapiro at theCato at Liberty blog:
Of course, the Court really should've gone further, as Justice Thomas pointed out in a concurring opinion. The Court's explanation of Section 4's anachronism applies equally to Section 5. In practice, however, Congress will be hard-pressed to enact any new coverage formula because the pervasive, systemic discrimination in voting that justified such an exceptional intrusion into the normal constitutional order is now gone.

And that's a good thing. Today's ruling underlines, belatedly, that Jim Crow is dead.
So, to sum up the libertarian position: there's no racism anymore, eviscerating the VRA "restored a measure of constitutional order," no one is going to lose any voting rights, enforcement of the VRA cost too darn much, and now all that money will be spent rooting out real voting injustices, -- which, it should be noted, don't actually exist, or, y'know, not really. Oh, and yay Clarence Thomas.

Hemp! Hemp! Hemp!

I've been looking at the Snowden situation and asking what seems to be an obvious question: What's going to happen as a result of Snowden's actions? The conclusion I've come to is that there's too much support for the national security state in both parties (and in the general public) to expect any real change to the surveillance regime, so Snowden isn't going to accomplish much (if anything) of what he wants to accomplish. On the other hand, the entire affair can be shoehorned into the GOP's Obama-is-evil narrative -- or, actually, into a couple of such narratives. First, the right told us that Obama the NSA snooper was the same evil Big Brother who used the IRS as his Stasi. Now, with Snowden fleeing, Obama is the feckless guy who won't defend America.

Watch how today's Washington Post reaches for Drudge and Fox Nation links by shaping a Snowden story around the latter right-wing narrative:
Obama's hands-off approach to extraditing Snowden draws criticism

It was bright and sunny in Washington on Saturday as President Obama stepped out of the White House in flip-flops and khaki shorts to hit the golf course with his buddies.

At the same time, officials throughout his administration were scrambling to keep one of America's most-wanted fugitives from evading extradition in Hong Kong.

The juxtaposition illustrates the hands-off approach Obama has taken -- in public, at least -- to the government's efforts to bring Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old former contractor who exposed classified details of U.S. surveillance programs, back to the United States to face charges of revealing government secrets.

Conservatives say Obama's posture in the case provides further evidence of a commander in chief whose credibility abroad has declined and who shrinks from presidential leadership at moments of international crisis, including in response to last fall's attacks in Benghazi, Libya....
Oh, perfect: the Post sends opiates straight into the right's favorite vein. Google "where was obama the night of benghazi attack" and you get hits with that title from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin; you get The Washington Times crowing that "Obama made no phone calls on night of Benghazi attack, White House says"; you get posts about the night-of-Benghazi speculations of John Boehner and Charles Krauthammer; and you even get deranged PUMA blogger Kevin DuJan of HillBuzz writing "Barack Obama Was High on Cocaine During 'The Missing Hours' of the Benghazi Attack Last September." And that's just Page 1 of the Google search results.

Oh, and golf! While Snowden was fleeing, Obama went out to play golf! The right loves that meme.

Roger Ailes is seeing starbursts.

Quoted most prominently in the Post story is Eliot Cohen -- Romney adviser, founding member of the Project for a New American Century and member of George W. Bush's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee (a position he got on the recommendation of Richard Perle). Snowden/Greenwald fans, am I getting across to you the fact that the people making hay of all this aren't exactly your allies on the subject of civil liberties and foreign policy?

It's as if Snowden and Greenwald went into the town square, pointed at Obama, said "Hey, that guy's evil! Let's go get him!" -- and now we learn to our horror that the people most eager to grab a truncheon and join the mob are folks who don't have a deep and abiding commitment to civil liberties and human rights. Nobody could have predicted!

And on the subject of Snowden's flight: Look, I don't know why the administration was so trusting of the governments of Hong Kong and China. But it seems to me that an America bankrupted by Reagan and Bush tax cuts, Bush wars, and a near-depression brought on by deregulation doesn't have much leverage with its bankers. The blame goes way back.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Oh, good grief: Richard Clarke thinks the car of Michael Hastings might have been hacked:
... Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is "consistent with a car cyber attack."

Clarke said, "There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers" -- including the United States -- know how to remotely seize control of a car.

"What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, to launch an air bag," Clarke told The Huffington Post. "You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard."

"So if there were a cyber attack on the car -- and I'm not saying there was," Clarke added, "I think whoever did it would probably get away with it."
You will certainly not be astonished to learn that Fox Nation has eagerly seized on this story.

Look, I don't know. I'm sure the righties (and Snowdenites) have elaborate theories as to why the Obama administration would not only kill Hastings, but kill him in a way straight out of a cheap novel. I don't believe there was foul play -- but if I did think he might have been killed, my supicions would fall less on the hite House than on the very famous individuals he investigated:
Hastings practiced a brand of no-holds-barred journalism that tended to anger powerful people. His 2010 profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, published in Rolling Stone, was so damaging that it ostensibly prompted President Barack Obama to fire the general....

In the days before his death, Hastings was reportedly working on a story about a lawsuit filed by Jill Kelley, who was involved in the scandal that brought down Gen. David Petraeus, according to the LA Times.
McChrystal? Petraeus? Kelley? You want to conspiratorialize, try conspiratorializing about one of them.

Me yesterday:
Pretty much everyone on the right, including Fox and talk radio, is going to take the McCain/Graham line henceforth: no more talk about excessive surveillance, and a lot of talk about how weak Obama has been as Snowden has jetted around the world, with the aid of America's enemies.... if Snowden isn't extradited -- I assume he won't be -- Obama's failure to get him back will be deemed by the right as effectively canceling out the killing of bin Laden.
Fox Nation today:

This is from a thread that excerpts a Reuters story:
Since his first day in office, President Barack Obama's foreign policy has rested on outreach: resetting ties with Russia, building a partnership with China and offering a fresh start with antagonistic leaders from Iran to Venezuela.

But the global travels on Sunday of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden highlight the limits of that approach. Leaders Obama has wooed - and met recently - were willing to snub the American president.

The cocky defiance by so-called "non-state actors" - Snowden himself and the anti-secrecy group, WikiLeaks, completes the picture of a world less willing than ever to bend to U.S. prescriptions of right and wrong....
Also see Peter King:
As Edward Snowden continues to avoid arrest on U.S. espionage charges, one Republican lawmaker is wondering why President Barack Obama isn't more forceful in his pursuit of the admitted leaker of national security secrets.

Rep. Peter King, the outspoken New York congressman who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, also said on CNN's "New Day" it was time to hear directly from Obama on the growing diplomatic nightmare.

"I hate to be in the middle of the crisis second guessing the president, but where is he?" King asked. "Where is the president? Why is he not speaking to the American people? Why is he not more forceful in dealing with foreign leaders?" ....
If you're a Snowden fan, I'm sure you see "a world less willing than ever to bend to U.S. prescriptions of right and wrong" as a well-deserved comeuppance -- and probably you don't care that the people who are going to yell about this the loudest are Republicans who have no problem whatsoever with a massive national security apparatus, apart from their discontent with the man currently in charge of that apparatus. The people who are going to seize on the government's failure to stop Snowden or gain custody of him are people who sneeringly use the phrase "leading from behind" every time Obama doesn't instantly smack down anyone who looks at America crosswise.

They've been waiting years for America to demand a Republican Daddy who'll smack around a few uppity foreigners and dirty hippie traitors. This may be when their message will start resonating again.


UPDATE: I think this Weekly Standard blog post by Daniel Halper is relevant here as well:
Immigration Bill Gives Hong Kong Access to the Visa Waiver Program

Speaking about Hong Kong's decision to let NSA leaker Edward Snowden leave, without handing him over to American authorities, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that "we find their decision particularly troubling." Carney added that their decision "unquestionably has a negative impact" on U.S.-Hong Kong relations, and called it a "setback."

Which is all very relevant to the immigration bill, which Congress is currently debating and which will be voted on later today in the Senate. That's because on pages 1020-1021, there's a special provision giving Hong Kong access to the Visa Waiver Program....
For right-wingers, a hard-line position in immigration complements foreign policy muscularity -- both concern evil furriners who threaten our Purity Of Essence. I don't know what Halper wants us to do -- get in a shooting war with the Chinese? -- but the message here is that liberalism = consorting with the enemy.


UPDATE: Yup, it's a meme:

I'm not sure whether I've said it here, but my disappointment with Occupy Wall Street stems from the fact that it very quickly became a movement that wasn't about Wall Street so much as it was about Occupy Wall Street. What I mean is that the message of outrage at our economic order eventually got lot because the people of Occupy became obsessed with their right to occupy. The message "We're not leaving this encampment" became more important to Occupy than anything the occupiers were saying about the plutocracy.

Something similar is happening again with Edward Snowden -- with the help of Glenn Greenwald, Wikileaks, and the governments of China, Russia, and who knows what other countries, he's made this all about him. Specifically, as with Occupy, it's all about his apparent belief that he's entitled to evade the laws he's flouting. To me, the whole point of civil disobedience is to take whatever punishment the authorities you're defying choose to dole out, as a way of focusing public attention what those authorities do.

And yes, we know from Bradley Manning that Snowden would be badly mistreated in prison even before he saw a courtroom. I can't blame Snowden for not wanting to face that. But by now Manning looks like a much more principled leaker.

In a way, this is happening on the right as well -- tea party groups whining about the difficulties they had getting special tax treatment from the IRS seem to feel they're entitled to a government declaration of apolitical status while engaging in politics.

It's kind of the White People Problems version of civil disobedience -- The Man shouldn't get to retaliate after I spit in his eye. Yes, The Man's retaliation would probably be disproportionate, but having the world see that is the point, isn't it?

Sunday, June 23, 2013


To say the least:
I met him once. He was the kind of dumb you are when you don’t know the language. But he knew the language.


Another socialist bites the dust.

I feel a slight spring in my step


Genocide starts 5 minutes after he checks out.


Old communists never die, they just fade away.


The world communist media can build any POS to a "world leader" to the adoring dumb masses....


Obama is probably trying to get Mandela's death scheduled to coincide with his big Africa trip next week (June 26-July 3). He never misses an opportunity to grandstand, especially about racial matters.


If anyone can do it - The Obamessiah can. Remember when his Hawaain grandmother died in '08? Bammie managed to cremate the old Typical White Person and toss her ashes off a cliff between campaign speeches.


Another pos Marxist about to be a good Marxist


Time to start sharpening the machetes and assigning the rape crews to the neighborhoods.


just watch the slaughter and riots now


Yup. And my classmates thought I was a racist for saying this commie bastard was overrated.


Hasta la vista, @$$hole.


That's pretty interesting. Maybe we now know who Ubama's father is..


Obama will weep like a little girl dumped by her 1st boyfriend.


F that commie POS. South Africa used to be the shining jewel of Africa.

Then the world's leftards made a hero of Mandela and handed the country of South Africa over to tribes of "guest workers" who weren't even in that territory when white Europeans civilized it. One of history's great injustices.


sounds like our situation here in the good ol' US of A.


I wish I believed in hell so he could burn in it.


Hell's gate is opening wide to greet this POS, hope his pain meds do not work.


Yup, Mandela was a murderer, torturer, all round good guy who should have been put to death by the same means that he used to kill many South Africans. His "hero status" reminds me of the occupant of our white hut.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Republican base.

This is wild -- and I think it's bad news if you're hoping that Edward Snowden's NSA revelations will lead to serious changes in American surveillance policy:
The Hong Kong government announced on Sunday afternoon that it had allowed the departure from its territory of Edward J. Snowden....

A Moscow-based reservations agent at Aeroflot, Russia's national airline, said that Mr. Snowden was aboard flight SU213 to Moscow, traveling on a one-way ticket to Moscow....

Russia's Interfax news service ... reported that Mr. Snowden would remain in transit at an airport in Moscow for "several hours" pending an onward flight to Cuba, and would therefore not formally cross the Russian border or be subject to detention. Someone close to Mr. Snowden later told Interfax that he planned to continue on to Caracas, Venezuela....

WikiLeaks ... said in a statement on its Twitter feed that it had "assisted Mr. Snowden's political asylum in a democratic country, travel papers" and safe exit from Hong Kong, and said in a follow-up Twitter posting that, "Mr. Snowden is currently over Russian airspace accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisers." ...
If you had any hope that a coalition of lefties and libertarians, including right-leaning Paulite libertarians, might ultimately pressure the U.S. government to dial down NSA surveillance, and if you were taking comfort in the fact that even non-Paulites on the right have been accusing President Obama of using the NSA as Big Brother, well, forget it, because that's over: Snowden is consorting with four entities the mainstream right deeply distrusts -- China, Cuba, Venezuela, and Wikileaks -- and that fact is going to drive right-wing reactions to Snowden from now on.

Pretty much everyone on the right, including Fox and talk radio, is going to take the McCain/Graham line henceforth: no more talk about excessive surveillance, and a lot of talk about how weak Obama has been as Snowden has jetted around the world, with the aid of America's enemies. I know Chavez is gone, but his party is still in power in Venezuela, and if Snowden isn't extradited -- I assume he won't be -- Obama's failure to get him back will be deemed by the right as effectively canceling out the killing of bin Laden.

The right is always more comfortable arguing that Democrats are weak on defense, and the mainstream press is usually very eager to accommodate of this point of view. Post-Iraq syndrome has helped Obama, as has his willingness to continue many Bush-era policies apart from fighting the Iraq War endlessly, but I imagine the Beltway Establishment will enjoy the opportunity to revert to the old stereotypes: GOP as patriotic war daddies, Democrats as feckless weaklings. So here it comes again.


Now, why Venezuela? I wonder if Snowden actually read this 2012 Business Insider post, titled "If You Had to Disappear, Where Would You Go?," written by Simon Black of the Web site Sovereign Man:

Black wrote while Chavez was still alive, but if what he wrote was accurate at the time, I imagine some of it still is:
... Venezuelans have a rich ethnic mix– African, European, indigenous, etc. Almost any westerner can pass as Venezuelan, so white or black, you don't necessarily stick out.

Further, Hugo Chavez's brand of National Socialism has created a largely cash society in Venezuela. There are few financial records from which anyone could be tracked, unlike in developed countries up north where constantly using your MasterCard pinpoints your exact location to any government agency paying attention.

Then there's the bit about the extradition treaty....

There is a US-Venezuela extradition treaty dating back to 1922. However it's riddled with ambiguities and contains an extremely limited list of extraditable offenses (e.g. bigamy...seriously?) Even when the treaty does apply, Hugo Chavez rarely cooperates....
So maybe we'll never get Snowden back. Won't that turn Obama into Jimmy Carter as far as U.S. politics is concerned?


UPDATE: Wow, that was fast:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the few public officials sympathetic toward Edward Snowden, warned the national security leaker on Sunday not to cut deals or cozy up to any [hostile] government at the risk of losing credibility.

"I do think, for Mr. Snowden, if he cozies up to the Russian government, it will be nothing but bad for his name in history," said Paul on CNN's "State of the Union." "If he goes to an independent third country like Iceland and if he refuses to talk to any sort of formal government about this, I think there's a chance that he'll be seen as an advocate of privacy. If he cozies up to either the Russian government, the Chinese government, or any of these governments that are perceived still as enemies of ours, I think that will be a real problem for him in history."
Translation: I'm trying to run for president with a lite version of my dad's national security views while still hoping to get traditional Republicans' votes, and YOU'RE SCREWING IT UP FOR ME, SNOWDEN!

(Via commenter tonycpsu at Metafilter.)

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Gosh, I wonder what it is about this man that's making right-wingers suspend their usual Second Amendment principles. Hmmm, let me think....

The tattoo on his face says, "Kill Whitey" in block letters, and cops say the gun he carried was loaded and unlicensed.

But that didn't stop Maruse Heath -- head of the Philadelphia chapter of the New Black Panther Party -- from claiming that he's really all about charity and outreach as he was arraigned on a gun-possession charge in Manhattan last night....

Heath, aka "King Salim Shabazz," was arrested on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard as he left a meeting of New Black Panther Party members....

Heath was unjustly "jumped" by cops as he left the meeting and walked near Seventh Avenue, said his lawyer, Brad Foster....
Funny, I would have expected the right to say that the gun was unlicensed under the terms of Mike Bloomberg's fascist laws, and so what if it was loaded? What's wrong with open carry, which should be permitted everywhere? (Especially given the fact that, for all his angry rhetoric, he seems to be all talk and no action, and seems not to be up on any other criminal charges.)

But gosh, that's not what I'm seeing at the right-wing blogs -- there's triumphal snickering at Weasel Zippers and Jammie Wearing Fools and other right-wing blogs ("Things That Make You Smile"). You guys! Where are your principles?

Back in 2011, gun charges were leveled in New York against Mark Meckler, founder of the Tea Party Patriots and also somewhat of a race-baiter (he once coauthored a Politico op-ed that said the NAACP "has long history of liberalism and racism" and asserted that if you disagree with the NAACP "You will be subjected to public humiliation and racist commentary from NAACP leadership"). Meckler's crime was somewhat different -- he tried to declare an unloaded, lawful firearm at La Guardia Airport -- but the incident led rightbloggers to declare virtually all gun control in New York to be a violation of the fundamental rights of man. Under the headline "Tea Party Leader's Gun Arrest Highlights Tyranny of Law," PJ Media told us this:
The role of legislators in a free society is not to make law, but to discover it. The "laws of Nature and Nature's God" are not crafted by men, and ought to both supersede and underlie our civil decrees. Indeed, that is the root of the Declaration of Independence. Men have rights, and their government ought to proceed from those rights and secure them.

Such lofty notions are frequently lost in our modern political discourse, where the craft of law has become social engineering, saving us from ourselves. In such an environment, it is inevitable that we should arrive at a tyranny of law, where the web of bureaucracy and regulation is so intricate, tangled, and sticky that every man becomes a criminal in one way or another regardless of his character or conduct.
After Meckler pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge and paid a $250 fine (and surrendered his gun), Bob Owens -- the Artist Fomerly Known as Confederate Yankee -- wrote:
It's absurd that Meckler – and for that matter, any other citizen- has to abide by a hodgepodge of thousands of arbitrary state and local laws that are enforced by whim and prosecuted merely for political convenience. This case is a perfect examples of a careful, concerned and respectful citizen attempting to respect the law is persecuted in jurisdictions where the God-given right to self defense is not respected by petty tyrants.
So it's not just that Meckler tried to follow the law by checking his gun (even though he didn't try to follow the law in the locale to which he was traveling). It's that there's a "God-given right to self defense" -- or as PJ Media puts it, gun ownership is part of the "laws of Nature and Nature's God."

Apparently Nature's God is not Maruse Heath's God.

But Nature's God is Mark Meckler's God. Gosh, what's different about Mark Meckler? Oh yeah, he looks like this:


I'm bored with the Edward Snowden story. He's been indicted now on Espionage Act charges, but it sure looks as if the governments of Hong Kong and China can either refuse his extradition or stall it for a considerable length of time:
Simon Young, a professor at Hong Kong University's faculty of law, suggested it was unclear whether Snowden would win or lose any attempt to fight extradition.

He said theft was listed in the U.S.-Hong Kong extradition treaty. "There is an offence listed in the treaty of unlawful handling of property, but this raises the question as to whether information is property and the answer is not clear," he said in an email.

... he added that "for legal arguments which I will not go into now, I am doubtful that offenses not specifically mentioned in either the treaty or FOO [Hong Kong's Fugitives Offenders Ordinance] will be the subject of surrender."

Young said that elements of the three alleged offenses "exist in neutral terms and cannot necessarily be said to be of a political character."

"But more important for this exception will be all the surrounding circumstances including the motivation for the prosecution, the unfairness of his trial at home and his likely treatment in custody," he added....
He'll probably never be extradited, and we'll probably never change the NSA program. And there the matter will stand.

I'm getting restless. I want this to turn into a summer blockbuster.

In my version, money from the Chinese government and from radical Icelandic billionaires has enabled Snowden to retreat to an armed compound, like the one Marlon Brando had in Apocalypse Now, where he practices martial arts and speaks in Zen koans.

One night, President Obama sends in SEAL Team Six for an exfil operation. Snowden is taken alive -- he is white, after all -- and is returned to the U.S. to face charges.

He's convicted on all counts and is sent to a highly secure supermax. After nine months in the slammer, he engineers the first successful prison break in American supermax history, after he discovers that the private prison firm running the supermax secures all its electronics using the password "abc123."

Unbeknownst to the authorities, he holes up in the wilderness near Lincoln, Montana, where he writes and self-publishes an e-book memoir that becomes an overnight publishing phenomenon. The memoir, bearing rave reviews from Glenn Greenwald and Glenn Beck, shoots to the top of the New York Times e-book bestseller list; it makes Snowden a rich man, despite -- or perhaps because of -- the stipulation that all purchasers pay for the book using untraceable bitcoins.

Cynically pardoned by President Scott Walker on January 21, 2017, Snowden quietly leaves the U.S. He lives out his days in Arthur C. Clarke's old residence in Sri Lanka, where he is protected from harm by a phalanx of Buddhist warriors from Myanmar and surrounded by concubines and alt-pole dancers.

NSA surveillance is never curtailed.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Here's an interesting revelation, if true:
Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst who in 2005 blew the whistle on what he alleged was massive unconstitutional domestic spying across multiple agencies, claimed Wednesday that the NSA had ordered wiretaps on phones connected to then-Senate candidate Barack Obama in 2004.

Speaking on "The Boiling Frogs Show," Tice claimed the intelligence community had ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats.

"Here's the big one ... this was in summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois," he said. "You wouldn't happen to know where that guy lives right now would you? It's a big white house in Washington, D.C. That's who they went after, and that's the president of the United States now."
The folks at Fox & Friends are deeply concerned:
On Friday, Fox & Friends tackled the recent report about Bush-era whistleblower Russell Tice -- who came forward with information about warrantless wiretapping -- and his claim that the NSA wiretapped President Obama back in 2004. The report demonstrates why all Americans should care about this issue, they asserted, criticizing an intelligence community that appears to be "out of control."

... Alisyn Camerota characterized it as a "dragnet that basically administration officials were investigating anybody that they thought might be, I guess, guilty of something or suspicious or on the other side of them politically."

Noting that all this likely predates the Bush administration, Steve Doocy said the concern is that "the intel apparatus in this country has so much stuff on all of us, and our leaders as well, they’re just out of control. That’s what this guy kind of suggests."

"This is why going after journalists like James Rosen is not just a story Fox News cares about," Camerota argued. "All Americans should care about it. ... Journalists can't be afraid to do their job."

Fox had a somewhat different reaction when Tice began talking about this during the Bush years:
Former intelligence analyst Russell Tice was one of the the sources for the December 2005 New York Times expose of warrantless National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapping that was taking place under the Bush administration....

When Tice wouldn’t appear on The O’Reilly Factor, O'Reilly had a producer [Jesse Watters] track Tice down. When the whistleblower refused to comment, O'Reilly called him "disgraceful."

O’Reilly’s animus toward Tice was matched by Fox host Sean Hannity, who called Democrats weak on defense for opposing NSA surveillance, which he now opposes under President Obama....

Partial transcript:
O'REILLY: ... "The Factor" wanted to know what evidence Mr. Tice has. Who exactly ordered what? NBC News didn't push him for any specific proof. No surprise there. So we respectfully called Tice, inviting him on the program. He said no. We found that strange. If you're trying to stop a wrongdoing you get the word out, right? So we sent "Factor" producer Jesse Watters to visit Russell Tice.


JESSE WATTERS, "FACTOR" PRODUCER: Hey, Russell, how are you? We're with FOX News. We want to ask you a few questions. You're claiming the Bush administration spied on the media? Who exactly was spied on?

RUSSELL TICE, FORMER NSA ANALYST: I have no comment for you guys. I've already spoken. That's enough.

WATTERS: I mean, you're going on national television and saying this. You've got to say who it is.

TICE: I've said what I'm going to say. That's it. That's enough. You guys are done.

... WATTERS: Who told you this? What evidence do you have of these kind of things? We're just worried about "The Factor" getting wiretapped.


O'REILLY: Well, the bottom line on this is that Tice made some very serious accusations. He went on NBC News, and he can't back them up. Now, if we're wrong, he can join us at any time. But if he can't back them up, he is disgraceful, and so is NBC News.
Fox seems much more trusting now, don't you think?