Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Whoopi and the way it is!

No comment is necessary!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Digby Revealed: In Case You Missed it!

In case you were unable to see the video of Digby’s speech at “Take Back America’s Award’s Gala” here is her inspirational speech.

She defines the liberal and progressive tradition that Wellstone stood for. How she defines us is after all pretty mainstream and not all that “Fringe” whatever that means.

What Digby, who reveals herself, reveals is that those of us in the netroots are patriots who believe in the U. S. Constitution, the United States of America and all it stands for and should stand for.

And if these beliefs are not Mainstream then the U. S. Constitution stands for nothing and our Democracy is doomed!

You Go Girl! You can't say this enough!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Justice Thomas’s Court?

Back in the day, that would be Worcester, Massachusetts in the late 60’s and early 70’s, there was this guy at Holy Cross: his name was Clarence Thomas. Also back in the day, many of us, who where local townies, referred to Holy Cross as “Holy Crotch.” I know, how rude and crude! But it seemed so right then. I also have to admit that one of my favorite guys went there as well, and he was, like the infamous Ted Wells (of Scooter Libby fame), a member of the class of ‘72. And it seemed to me at the time that our potential SCOTUS Junior Justice followed him, my favorite guy, not Ted, around like a puppy. I thought at the time that was because my favorite guy, who shall remain nameless, was a really smart, and politically connected and committed activist in those wonderful days. I, also, thought that at the time our potential Junior Justice was a lackluster opportunist.

You know how you have first impressions and sometimes the individual in question never does anything to change that feeling: that was our potential Junior Justice. Now I am not saying that I knew him on anything other than a truly superficial level, as that seemed to me to be his level, not to mention the level of my interest. I could have been wrong as he did end up marrying one of Mr. Ambush’s lovely and beautiful daughters (though that marriage didn’t last.) So, there had to be some there, there. I just never saw it. So, he drifted out of my mind.

Fast forward some 20 years: during the confirmation hearings I was glued to the tube. I remember talking to a “townie sister” of mine from the old town during the hearings as we both watched with rapt attention. I said to her that there was something so oddly familiar about this nominee. She, who has a steel trap for a mind unlike me, set me straight with the comment that he was “the C***p from the Crotch.” WOAH! I had completely forgotten that some folks had actually called him that. But I knew immediately who she was talking about as his presence drifted back into my mind after all those years.

That said, I am not shocked at all at his jurisprudence’s evolution, or lack there of, on the highest court in the land. Once a wannabe opportunist, always a wannabe opportunist! Chock this up to first impressions that were never assuaged. The question has always been what does he “wannabe?”

Here is a taste of Adam Cohen’s piece on the Junior Justice:

In the last 100 Supreme Court arguments, Clarence Thomas has not uttered a word. Court watchers have suggested a variety of explanations. Among the least flattering: he is afraid that if he speaks he will reveal his ignorance about the case; he is so ideologically driven that he invariably comes with his mind made up; or he has contempt for the process.

In their provocative new book, “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas,” two Washington Post journalists, Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, ponder Justice Thomas’s extraordinary silence, and many other puzzles. They offer a wealth of insight, but they have no answer to the central enigma he poses: why the justice who has faced the greatest hardships regularly rules for the powerful over the weak, and has a legal philosophy notable for its indifference to suffering.

It is a particularly timely question. For 15 years, Justice Thomas was a marginal figure, rarely assigned to write major opinions because his views were so far right that he would have had trouble attracting five votes. But Justice Thomas is a lot less marginal with the recent changes in the court — particularly the replacement of Sandra Day O’Connor, a moderate conservative, with Samuel Alito, a more extreme one. He appears poised in the next few weeks to achieve his longstanding goal: dismantling the integrationist vision of his predecessor Thurgood Marshall.

Justice Thomas’s early years were not as hardscrabble as his image-makers suggested during his confirmation; he left tiny Pin Point, Ga., young, and was raised in a middle-class home. But he grew up in the Jim Crow South, with an absent father and an often-absent mother. He spent much of his childhood, the authors say, being “angry and hurt.”

In college and law school, he identified strongly with his fellow blacks, and was liberal, even radical, on racial issues. But as he accepted jobs from Republicans eager to hire a conservative black lawyer, he shifted rightward. As chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, his phlegmatic advocacy for victims of discrimination disappointed civil rights activists, while impressing conservatives looking for a replacement for Justice Marshall.

His confirmation hearings, at which Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment, put an even sharper edge on his ideology. He redirected his anger, much of which had been aimed at whites, at liberals and civil rights organizations. Justice Thomas is now beloved on the far right, with friends like Rush Limbaugh, whose wedding he performed.

Justice Thomas wasted no time unveiling his harsh jurisprudence. In his first year on the court, he dissented from a decision holding that the ban on cruel and unusual punishment may have been violated when guards kicked a prisoner and punched him in the stomach, eye, and mouth. The prisoner had a split lip, bruises and loosened teeth, but Justice Thomas insisted that the Constitution did not prohibit such “insignificant harm.” He dissented from a ruling in favor of a prisoner who was handcuffed to a hitching post in the hot sun for seven hours while a guard taunted him about his thirst.

Clarence, what happened from your time at the Cross and your liberal wannabe aspirations to put you so far right that you no longer understand “cruel and unusual punishment?” Does the Right-Wing reward their folks with better perks?

Read all of Cohen’s piece it is so troubling.

But then, many of us were troubled in 1991. I know, the Dirty Rotten Hippies! And I admit it!

PS If anyone out there remembers this differently please give me a call. I am always up to corrections as my mind is so “Swiss Cheese.” Though, I have to tell you that everyone that I have checked with so far confirms my version. Just Saying!

A Very Rare Occurrence: A Prosecutor’s Prosecution!

In his Slate article, David Feige, formerly of the fabulous Bronx Defenders, points out what is obvious to most Public Defenders. Prosecutorial misconduct is rarely ever prosecuted.

Now that justice has prevailed in the Duke rape case, with the nice innocent boys exonerated and the prosecutor who hounded them disbarred, it is tempting to chalk the whole incident up to an unusual and terrible mistake—a zany allegation taken too seriously by a run-amok prosecutor. It would be pretty to think that Nifong's humbling suggests that our system of justice works well, harshly punishing the few rogue prosecutors who subvert the legal process. But this is simply not true.

Prosecutors almost never face public censure or disbarment for their actions. In fact, it took a perfect storm of powerful defendants, a rapt public, and demonstrable factual innocence to produce the outcome that ended Mr. Nifong's career. And because only a handful of prosecutors will ever face the sort of adversaries Nifong did or come close to the sort of scrutiny the former DA endured, the Duke fiasco will make little difference in how criminal law is practiced in courthouses around the country. Regardless of Nifong's sanction, the drama leaves prosecutorial misconduct commonplace, unseen, uncorrected, and unpunished.

As Angela Davis explains in her book Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor, young prosecutors too often see their goal as winning rather than doing justice. The culture of their offices and the adversarial nature of the criminal justice system push them in this direction. Over time, they move further toward, and eventually across, the line separating fair play from systemic manipulation. How often this actually happens is hard to say. Because more than 90 percent of the criminal cases result in pleas, most instances of prosecutorial misconduct never even come to light. Nonetheless, in the rollicking back and forth of a normal state trial, it is a rare case in which problems involving the withholding of potentially exculpatory evidence (as Nifong was accused of doing) don't arise. In most of these instances, a judge deals with late disclosure by adjourning the trial to give the defense more time to respond, or by issuing an ineffectual reprimand. This isn't exactly remedying the problem.

There are, of course, a few particularly egregious cases that leave visible traces in appellate records. A 2003 study by the Center for Public Integrity found nearly 11,500 such cases. Of them, four out of five were shrugged off as harmless errors. And as previously noted in Slate, of the 2,012 cases since 1970 in which appeals judges actually threw out an indictment, conviction, or sentence because of prosecutorial malfeasance, in only 44 did prosecutors even appear before state ethics boards to answer for their actions. Another indicator: A Chicago Tribune investigation found 381 Illinois murder convictions that were reversed because prosecutors withheld evidence or prompted witnesses to lie. The number of those prosecutors publicly sanctioned or disbarred as a result? Zero.

That this particular “Rogue Prosecutor” was seriously sanctioned will make nary a dent in the practice of prosecutors stepping over the line and the courts allowing them to get away with a “virtual” slap on the wrist.

Please read the whole piece and be rightly appalled. It isn’t just AGAG and his minions who are running amok.

Listen to Wolcott!

Mr. Wolcott reports:

Apocalypse Now in 3-D

William S. Lind read the news today, oh boy:

Looking idly at the front page of last Wednesday's Washington Post Express as I rode the Metro to work, I received a shock. It showed a railroad station in Iraq, recently destroyed by an American air strike. So now we are bombing the railroad stations in a country we occupy? What comes next, bombing Iraq's power plants and oil refineries? How about the Green Zone? If the Iraqi parliament doesn't pass the legislation we want it to, we can always lay a couple of JDAMs on it.

It turns out the bombed railroad station was no fluke. An AP story by Charles J. Hanley, dated June 5, reported that

"U.S. warplanes have again stepped up attacks in Iraq, dropping bombs at more than twice the rate of a year ago. … And it appears to be accomplished by a rise in Iraqi civilian casualties.

"In the first 4 1/2 months of 2007, American aircraft dropped 237 bombs and missiles in support of ground forces in Iraq, already surpassing the 229 expended in all of 2006, according to Air Force figures obtained by The Associated Press."

Nothing could testify more powerfully to the failure of U.S. efforts on the ground in Iraq than a ramp-up in airstrikes. Calling in air is the last, desperate, and usually futile action of an army that is losing. If anyone still wonders whether the "surge" is working, the increase in air strikes offers a definitive answer: it isn't.

Worse, the growing number of air strikes shows that, despite what the Marines have accomplished in Anbar province and Gen. Petraeus' best efforts, our high command remains as incapable as ever of grasping Fourth Generation war. To put it bluntly, there is no surer or faster way to lose in 4GW than by calling in airstrikes. It is a disaster on every level. Physically, it inevitably kills far more civilians than enemies, enraging the population against us and driving them into the arms of our opponents. Mentally, it tells the insurgents we are cowards who only dare fight them from 20,000 feet in the air. Morally, it turns us into Goliath, a monster every real man has to fight. So negative are the results of air strikes in this kind of war that there is only one possible good number of them: zero...

Our reporter of truth then goes on to quote other reporters of truth. Read the whole post. In this replay and updated version of Apocalypse Now, from which after thirty-some years we appear to have learned nothing, who exactly is Kurtz, Marlon Brando’s insane character: Bush or Cheney, McCain or Lieberman, or all of them? I am not expecting any conversions here folks.

When will it be 1975? It's time already!

Digby Speaks!

Digby accepts the award from “Take Back America” on behalf of the Progressive Netroots Blogosphere.

Watch and listen Up!

As one of those Dirty Rotten Hippies I have to say, “Thank you Digby!”

Via Firedoglake.

In the Dark and Happy that Way!

Richard Cohen is an inside the beltway kind of guy. And apparently, he likes being a mushroom. In his online discussion on the WAPO today, while being grilled, he actually said:

Look, the public has a right to know and a right to honest public officials, but we recognize there has to be some area of gray, and you shouldn't permit prosecutors to prosecute everything that is technically or actually a crime. When, as I keep going back to over and over again, you ask yourself if Scooter Libby was lying -- about what? About not much.

Well, I guess you have to give it to him for actually going online with the discussion after the trashing he deservedly experienced for his “Free Scooter” column. And maybe he recognizes that there “… has to be some area of gray” and that prosecutors shouldn’t prosecute “… everything that is technically or actually a crime.” But he shouldn’t use the royal we when he talks about the public’s “right to know and right to honest public officials.” And does he really have to “… keep going back to over and over again, [to ask himself] if Scooter Libby was lying – about what?” If this is true, Richard Cohen’s “Hack Pundit License” should be pulled tout de suite as he is too dense and dumb to be allowed to hold and wield a sharpened pencil in public.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Read Redd on Cohen's "Free Libby!"

She got it so right, along with Glenn, on this absurd Cohen column. Richard Cohen should be so embarrassed about this column though I am quite sure that Fred Hiatt is ever so thankful that a “liberal” wrote it and the editorial board of the WAPO didn’t have to.

Here is a taste of what Redd has to say:

Hello again, Richard:

It’s been a while since we’ve corresponded, but I feel the need to, yet again, point out the obvious. As I wrote to you all the way back in October of 2005:

If you don’t know any actual prosecuting attorneys, let me help you out. For people who uphold the law as their vocation — and there are an awful lot of them in this country who take their jobs very seriously — putting people in jail for breaking the law, and seeking justice, is their job.

Sure, they are mean to the jerks who break the law. (btw, these people are called criminals.) These criminals may be poor, uneducated and even mentally unstable — and sometimes they are wealthy, highly educated and people you seem to want to continue to hang out with at cocktail parties.

Here’s a clue: the laws apply to EVERYONE, across the board, whether they are rich and powerful or poor and powerless. (You might want to read up on what Martha Stewart has been doing for the last year or so. Might be illuminating on this point.)

This goes for ALL the jerks who break ALL the laws, not just the laws you happen to have thought were important at the time you turned in your column….

Oh, and in case you were wondering how Judy Miller got caught up in all of this mess, we prosecutors like to call it “accessory” — as in potentially prosecutable along with all the other folks involved if she was aiding and abetting the conspiracy to commit a crime. Poor Judy, carried water for people breaking the law and got caught. How dare a prosecutor want to see her treated like every other living, breathing citizen in this country?!? (Okay, I’m not really outraged, but I was trying to appear empathetic to you here. How am I doing?)

Perhaps you journalists (if I can be so bold as to count you among them) ought to reconsider being human shields for people who use you to commit odious crimes, and then leave you to rot in jail because they are too craven to accept responsibility for what they have done.

Unfortunately the realization that the laws ought to apply to everyone, regardless of social standing, job description and the number of mutual friends inside the Beltway that you may have with a particular multiple-federal-felony-convicted former Vice Presidential minion, didn’t quite sink into your thick noggin, because today you wrote this:

With the sentencing of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Fitzgerald has apparently finished his work, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, to make a mountain out of a molehill. At the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times), he was appointed to look into a run-of-the-mill leak and wound up prosecuting not the leaker — Richard Armitage of the State Department — but Libby, convicted in the end of lying. This is not an entirely trivial matter since government officials should not lie to grand juries, but neither should they be called to account for practicing the dark art of politics. As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off….

Accountability is one thing. By all means, let Congress investigate and conduct oversight hearings with relish and abandon. But a prosecution is a different matter. It entails the government at its most coercive — a power so immense and sometimes so secretive that it poses much more of a threat to civil liberties, including freedom of the press, than anything in the interstices of the scary Patriot Act. The mere arrival of a form letter from the IRS will give any sane person a touch of angina.

I don’t expect George Bush to appreciate this. He is the privileged son of a privileged son, and he fears nothing except, probably, doubt. But the rest of us ought to consider what Fitzgerald has wrought and whether we are better off for his efforts. I have come to hate the war and I cannot approve of lying under oath — not by Scooter, not by Bill Clinton, not by anybody. But the underlying crime is absent, the sentence is excessive and the investigation should not have been conducted in the first place. This is a mess. Should Libby be pardoned? Maybe. Should his sentence be commuted? Definitely. (emphasis mine)

I want to be certain that I understand what you are saying here: lying under oath is a crime and should be punished. But Scooter Libby shouldn’t be punished for his lying under oath because he was just playing politics, and thus should be excused from any and all crimes committed under some sort of “lights out political shield.” Is that about right?

Go and read the rest, as naturally, she takes him apart. He is so not armed for this fight!

Do you think that the average voter thinks that the Government’s Illegal behavior is: “As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off?” Because you know us folks can’t handle the truth of how our Government is screwing us! Oh, and I guess we would rather not know!

The Beltway Pundit Class, liberal or otherwise, apparently doesn’t care if they have any credibility at all. Exhibit A would be: Richard Cohen of WAPO!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mr. Rich and the Various Mobs.

Many, many years ago I gave up the idea that there was a mob of an elite intellectual class in the dialogue that constitutes what we call public political discourse. There are still opinion pundits that I follow to see where the dialogue is going, but I often find the discourse juvenile and totally lacking a factual grounding. I first discovered this during the debate, such it was, on the Vietnam War. The elite seemed always to be covering their backsides and positions. Because, it seemed to me, that facts on the ground weren’t quite as important as their status in the pundit community.

So now we have Mr. Rich who weighs in on the situation from behind the wall:

June 17, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Scooter’s Sopranos Go to the Mattresses


AS a weary nation awaited the fade-out of "The Sopranos" last Sunday, the widow of the actual Mafia don John Gotti visited his tomb in Queens to observe the fifth anniversary of his death. Victoria Gotti was not pleased to find reporters lying in wait.

"It's disgusting that people are still obsessed with Gotti and the mob," she told The Daily News. "They should be obsessed with that mob in Washington. They have 3,000 deaths on their hands." She demanded to know if the president and vice president have relatives on the front lines. "Every time I watch the news and I hear of another death," she said, "it sickens me."

Far be it from me to cross any member of the Gotti family, but there's nothing wrong with being obsessed with both mobs. Now that the approval rating for the entire Washington franchise, the president and Congress alike, has plummeted into the 20s, we need any distraction we can get; the Mafia is a welcome nostalgic escape from a gridlocked government at home and epic violence abroad.

But unlikely moral arbiter that Mrs. Gotti may be, she does have a point. As the Iraq war careens toward a denouement as black, unresolved and terrifying as David Chase's inspired "Sopranos" finale, the mob in the capital deserves at least equal attention. John Gotti, the last don, is dead. Mr. Chase's series is over. But the deaths on the nightly news are coming as fast as ever.

True, the Washington mob isn't as sexy as the Gotti or Soprano clans, but there is now a gripping nonfiction dramatization of its machinations available gratis on the Internet, no HBO subscription required. For this we can thank U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who presided over the Scooter Libby trial. Judge Walton's greatest move was not the 30-month sentence he gave Mr. Libby, a fall guy for higher-ups (and certain to be pardoned to protect their secrets). It was instead the judge's decision to make public the testimonials written to the court by members of the Washington establishment pleading that a criminal convicted on four felony counts be set free.

Mr. Libby's lawyers argued that these letters should remain locked away on the hilarious grounds that they might be "discussed, even mocked, by bloggers." And apparently many of the correspondents assumed that their missives would remain private, just like all other documents pertaining to Mr. Libby's former boss, Dick Cheney. The result is very little self-censorship among the authors and an epistolary gold mine for readers.

Among those contributing to the 373 pages of what thesmokinggun.com calls "Scooter Libby Love Letters" are self-identified liberals and Democrats, a few journalists (including a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine) and a goodly sample of those who presided over the Iraq catastrophe or cheered it on. This is a documentary snapshot of the elite Washington mob of our time.

Like the scripts for "The Sopranos," the letters are not without mordant laughs. Henry Kissinger writes a perfunctory two paragraphs, of which the one about Mr. Libby rather than himself seems an afterthought. James Carville co-signs a letter by Mary Matalin tediously detailing Mr. Libby's devotion to organizing trick-or-treat festivities for administration children spending a post-9/11 Halloween at an "undisclosed location." One correspondent writes in astonishment that Mr. Libby once helped "a neighbor who is a staunch Democrat" dig his car out of the snow, and another is in awe that Mr. Libby would "personally buy his son a gift rather than passing the task on to his wife." Many praise Mr. Libby's novel, "The Apprentice," apparently on the principle that an overwritten slab of published fiction might legitimize the short stories he fabricated freelance for a grand jury.

But what makes these letters rise above inanity is the portrait they provide of a wartime capital cut adrift from moral bearings. As the political historian Rick Perlstein has written, one of the recurrent themes of these pleas for mercy is that Mr. Libby perjured himself "only because he was so busy protecting us from Armageddon." Has there ever been a government leader convicted of a crime — and I don't mean only Americans — who didn't see himself as saving the world from the enemy?

The Libby supporters never acknowledge the undisputed fact that their hero, a lawyer by profession, leaked classified information about a covert C.I.A. officer. And that he did so not accidentally but to try to silence an administration critic who called attention to the White House's prewar lies about W.M.D. intelligence. And that he compounded the original lies by lying repeatedly to investigators pursuing an inquiry that without his interference might have nailed others now known to have also leaked Valerie Wilson's identity (Richard Armitage, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer).

Much has been said about the hypocrisy of those on the right, champions both of Bill Clinton's impeachment and of unflinching immigration enforcement, who call for legal amnesty in Mr. Libby's case. To thicken their exquisite bind, these selective sticklers for strict justice have been foiled in their usual drill of attacking the judge in the case as "liberal." Judge Walton was initially appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan and was elevated to his present job by the current President Bush; he was assigned as well to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by the Bush-appointed chief justice, John Roberts. Such credentials notwithstanding, Judge Walton told the court on Thursday that he was alarmed by new correspondence and phone calls from the Libby mob since the sentencing "wishing bad things" on him and his family.

In Washington, however, hypocrisy is a perennial crime in both parties; if all the city's hypocrites were put in jail, there would be no one left to run the government. What is more striking about the Libby love letters is how nearly all of them ignore the reality that the crime of lying under oath is at the heart of the case. That issue simply isn't on these letter writers' radar screen; the criminal act of perjury isn't addressed (unless it's ascribed to memory loss because Mr. Libby was so darn busy saving the world). Given that Mr. Libby expressed no contrition in court after being convicted, you'd think some of his defenders might step into that moral vacuum to speak for him. But there's been so much lying surrounding this war from the start that everyone is inured to it by now. In Washington, lying no longer registers as an offense against the rule of law.

Instead the letter writers repeat tirelessly that Mr. Libby is a victim, suffering "permanent damage" to his reputation, family and career in the typical judgment of Kenneth Adelman, the foreign-policy thinker who predicted a "cakewalk" for America in Iraq. There's a whole lot of projection going on, because to judge from these letters, those who drummed up this war think of themselves as victims too. In his letter, the disgraced Paul Wolfowitz sees his friend's case as an excuse to deflect his own culpability for the fiasco. He writes that "during the spring and summer of 2003, when some others were envisioning a prolonged American occupation," Mr. Libby "was a strong advocate for a more rapid build-up of the Iraqi Army and a more rapid transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, points on which history will prove him to have been prescient."

History will prove no such thing; a "rapid" buildup of the Iraqi Army was and is a mirage, and the neocons' chosen leader for an instant sovereign Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi, had no political following. But Mr. Wolfowitz's real point is to pin his own catastrophic blundering on L. Paul Bremer, the neocons' chosen scapegoat for a policy that was doomed with or without Mr. Bremer's incompetent execution of the American occupation.

Of all the Libby worshipers, the one most mocked in the blogosphere and beyond is Fouad Ajami, the Lebanese-American academic and war proponent who fantasized that a liberated Iraq would have a (positive) "contagion effect" on the region and that Americans would be greeted "in Baghdad and Basra with kites and boom boxes." (I guess it all depends on your definition of "boom boxes.") In an open letter to President Bush for The Wall Street Journal op-ed page on June 8, he embroidered his initial letter to Judge Walton, likening Mr. Libby to a "fallen soldier" in the Iraq war. In Mr. Ajami's view, Tim Russert (whose testimony contradicted Mr. Libby's) and the American system of justice are untrustworthy, and "the 'covertness' of Mrs. Wilson was never convincingly and fully established." (The C.I.A. confirmed her covert status in court documents filed in May.)

Mr. Ajami notes, accurately, that the trial was "about the Iraq war and its legitimacy" — an argument that could also be mustered by defenders of Alger Hiss who felt his perjury trial was about the cold war. But it's even more revealing that the only "casualty of a war" Mr. Ajami's conscience prompts him to mention is Mr. Libby, a figurative casualty rather than a literal one.

No wonder Victoria Gotti denigrated "that mob in Washington." When the godfathers of this war speak of never leaving "a fallen comrade" on the battlefield in Iraq, as Mr. Ajami writes of Mr. Libby, they are speaking first and foremost of one another. The soldiers still making the ultimate sacrifice for this gang's hubristic folly will just have to fend for themselves.

We in the Public Defender cohort have always known that there are different sets of justice for different sets of defendants. The Republicans have now made it clear where they stand and how they view the judicial system.

What is horrifying is that the Beltway Pundit Class also seems to believe that there is the “Rule of Law” and then the “Not-Rule of Law” for those they deem admirable and part of the club. How can anyone believe anything these pundits and experts say after their support for a felon and a total lack of support for the law and the supporting facts of the case?

It makes Abu’s continuing leadership at the DOJ all the more clear. The Rule of Law is not a Republican priority or standard. In fact, it appears that the opposite is the rule.

So I guess it is time for the party of “Law and Order” to call on Fred Thompson to save the party with a little TV non-reality!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The Right-Wing Dodge!

In an effort to distance themselves from the debacle that is the Bush Administration the Right-Wing is accusing the administration of gross incompetence. I believe the accusation of incompetence against this administration is just a dodge. You hear it all the time that this administration is incompetent. You know they screwed up Iraq, they screwed up Katrina, they handled the U.S. Attorney situation poorly, etc., etc. The problem with this dodge is that this administration has been very successful in making their theory of government actually successful. Americans no longer trust the Federal Government to do the right thing competently. That is quite a success for the Grover Norquists of the policy world.

If you put people in charge, by say some kind of elections, who do not believe in government and then they do not govern, it is a tautology. If you do not believe in government why would you believe in governing competently? It seems to me that incompetence is the obvious result. And the empirical evidence is rampant.


“Sicko,” See It!

Michael Moore is once again in the fore-front of the debate. The health care system in the United States is broken. Everyone knows it and yet no one on the Federal level is doing anything about it. This is not a state by state situation folks, this is a Universal Problem which needs a Universal Solution. Once again Moore has taken up the call and produced a documentary documenting the problem and offering solutions.

Moore did an interview on Real Time with Bill Maher in which we discover that Fox News called the film “Sicko” “Brilliant and Uplifting. That’s right, Fox News called it “Brilliant and Uplifting.”

Here is the trailer:

Here is Michael in Seattle:

We can make a change that is necessary:

As a Canadian and U.S. Citizen in New York I have seen the care afforded family members who are on both sides of the Northern Border (you know, the one that no one is demanding a fence on). And I have to tell you that what I have experienced first hand and what I hear from the Southern side of the non-fence border is propaganda. The disinformation spread around is good for the insurance and pharmaceutical interests and bad for the American taxpayer’s interest.

Once again the American People are way ahead of the Political and Beltway Class.

I know that there are so many stories out there. Let’s hope that they get told.

Time to speak up! This is a no brainer folks!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Irony Borked

From Roger Ailes, the good one:

How The Righty Have Fallen

Is it poor form to ridicule a 79 year-old man who falls and allegedly hits his head on a heat register? I say, not if the geezer in question is the hero of twits who have long ridiculed a 79 year-old woman suffered severe injuries when she was scalding-hot coffee.

As is well known by now, the ambulance chasers at Ted Olson's hack shop have filed suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of Bob Bork, the Nation's most famous failed jurist.

Seems Bork showed up at The Yale Club to collect some wingnut welfare from The New Criterion, tripped while trying to "mount the dias" and brushed his bonce against a radiator. Bork claims he also bruised his leg, a blood vessel burst and hi-larious complications and litigations ensued.

Interestingly, various sources report that Bork dusted himself off and gave his speech without difficulty. Yet the complaint alleges that Bork "suffered excruciating pain as the result of this injury and was largely immobile during the months in which he received physical therapy, preventing him from working his typical schedule before the injury." Since Bork is claiming a loss of income and ongoing injuries, discovery concerning his pre-injury revenue will be warranted, as well as surveillance of the purportedly crippled geezer. Hopefully that information will find its way into the public venue.

The alleged defect in The Yale Club premises in fact no defect at all. Bork claims there was no handrail to assist him in mounting the dias. Yet surely that was obvious to even someone of Bork's limited intellect, and none of the other men (we can safely assume) who mounted the dias have filed suit against the Club. If the dias was dangerous, Bork shouldn't have attempted to mount it.

As Benjamin Cardozo once said, "The bearded git may stay at home."

Bonus Comedy: AEI tool Ted Frank and unlucky sperm club member Robert H. Bork, Jr. (who seems to believe proof of causation will not be required) duke it out over Bork Daddy.

I guess that Judge Tort Reform has a different take on litigation when the dias is on the other foot?

The irony and hypocrisy on the Right is so deep!

Scooter, the Right-Wing Spin Machine and the Law!

Ah, the hypocrisy that is the Right-Wing of the GOP and the inherent irony of their positions! Where should one begin?

How about starting with the “Free Scooter the Convicted Felon Movement” and the “No Amnesty for Illegal Aliens Movement? That would be of course because the GOP is the party of “Law and Order” and there is no hypocrisy or irony there, eh?

That GOP Conservatives would think a convicted felon who obstructed the investigation into a National Security Scandal that resulted in the outing of a CIA Covert Agent and Covert Company who worked on WMD Proliferation (the very reason we were given to believe was the casus belli for the War in Iraq) should be pardoned is outrageous! You would think that wouldn’t you? But you would be wrong.

Many of those same GOP Conservative “Law and Order” types who think that one of theirs should get a slap on the wrist for felonious behavior in a National Security Scandal are screaming that a path to legal residency for undocumented immigrants is tantamount to “amnesty for lawbreakers” and is the end of America as we know it and likewise threatens our National Security and the Rule of Law!

Call me confused.

Well actually, I am not all that confused as hypocrisy is part and parcel of the GOP Right-wing spin machine and always has been. Their take “Personal Responsibility” policy has been a self-serving mantra for decades (look-up Ronald Reagan, Iran-Contra and “Mistakes were Made,” and no personal responsibility there). It is a reverse “Golden Rule”: Don’t do unto me as I would do unto you!

And nowhere is this more evident than in the “Free Scooter” and “Lock up the Brown Hoard” screeds coming from the Right-wing Spin Machine. This rhetoric serves to divide and conquer and it appears to work well. It mitigates the “We are all in this together” philosophy (WITT) and entrenches us in the “You are on your own” philosophy (YOYO). Their argument’s dissonance also makes it difficult for many to connect the dots.

And the spin machine Wurlitzer is in overdrive. The Washington Post today reports on the “5 Myths of Scooter and the Slammer”. The Wall Street Journal reports on Conservatives and a Pardon. Then there is McClatchy reporting on the horrors of “Amnesty” as the Right-wing sees it.

So read between the lines folks. And let us not forget the biggest irony of all. Scooter was tried and convicted before Judge Reggie Walton. Judge Walton was appointed by this President, George W. Bush, because he is “tough” on criminals. I guess the thought was that he wouldn’t be tough GOP criminals, just, you know, those “other” criminals.

Boy, were they wrong. Okay that’s just one of the many things in an endless list this administration has been wrong about. But it’s one of the things they were wrong about which they are taking personally and that has really come back to bite one of them on their collective ass. Does this mean that Judge Walton isn’t a “Loyal Bushie?”

Ironic, No?

Update: I was going to ignore this but I decided it is too obvious an example of the Washington Wurlitzer to leave out. It seems the Dean of Washington Punditry is ambivalent. I guess he is trying to be very “bipartisan.” Yet notice how he still manages to incorporate the GOP Talking Points into his argument in order to put the reality of Scooter’s alleged criminal behavior into “context.” Pathetic! Where do we get these folks from?

Just asking!

Awesome: A “Rags to Riches” Story

Oh okay so that is a little misleading as Mr. Tabor, et. al., and Todd Pletcher are not in anyway shape or form the lesser in this racing game. But a filly winning a Triple Crown Race is in and of its self a type of “Rags to Riches” story. And this was history. And we cried and high 5’d all around, the girls that is.

Now we all went to the Belmont Stakes Saturday knowing that there would be no “Triple Crown Winner” this year. But we go because it is the biggest race of the year in our minds. The Belmont Stakes is a mile and one-half race for three year olds and the last leg of the Triple Crown. The entrants are all baby three year old which have never run a mile and one-half race and are, if not some of, the finest horses in the country if not the world. So to racing aficionados it is one of the greatest and most exciting races ever. And to New Yorkers who love racing it is the biggest, and badest race and a must see not to mention the opportunity to sing “New York, New York” and no one laughs at you.

This year though there was no chance of a Triple Crown there was a chance that history would be made. Rags to Riches was a filly running in the race with a real chance to win and break the streak of the last 102 years. And seeing her in the Paddock cemented that for me and my girl friends, not to mention the crowd. She was clearly the favorite of the crowd and each time she passed the crowd in the paddock a cheer went up. Of course the fact that she was so impressive and awesome looking didn’t hurt. As we went back to our seats we sang the theme from “Rocky.” We knew that we had a winner.

Here is the race with the fabulous Tom Durkin with the call:

Before the race I had said that I thought it would be ironic if Mr. Pletcher, lead trainer, wins his first Triple Crown race with a filly and at his home track!

So, the pundits were wrong, where have we seen that before? Some of us, in light of this historical turnabout, have begun to think that maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t the train.

Hope springs eternal and we are all looking for a sign. Rags to Riches is hopefully not as good as it gets! But it is a start!

What a gal!

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Really Big Race!

Tomorrow we are on to the Belmont Stakes. As you all know I rarely celebrate holidays, other than Thanksgiving (which is a two day extravaganza at my household), that said Belmont Stakes is the other big day for us.

Now everyone knows about the Kentucky Derby, and some even know about the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness, but the really big race for the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes at a mile and one-half.

This race is the test for three year old thoroughbreds as none of them have raced a mile and one-half. This race is why it has been so long since there was a Triple Crown. Now Curlin, and Hard Spun have the guts to show up and run off of a grueling two week, then three week layoff (if that can even be called a layoff), against fresher horses. It is always exciting and a great day of racing with fabulous horses at Beautiful Belmont Park. In the third race on the card, one of my favorite horses, Evening Attire, at the grand old age of 9, is racing for a $100,000 purse at a distance of One and One-eighth miles. I hope the old guy acquits himself.

So, we are off to a wonderful day of great company, wonderful food, great racing and the excitement of who can run a mile and one-half at the Big Sandy.

And once again we will be right there with fabulous seats right on the finish line.

Everyone should come home safe!

It’s a Tradition around here!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Steve Gilliard


1966 – 2007

Update: Here is Gilly’s Archive. His coverage of the MTA strike was the best and most informative and insightful of any MSM and I have always considered him to be a necessary read and therefore part of my Mainstream Press. Like so many, I am bereft.

Condolences to Jen, his family and friends.

Update: Many of us pushed for this and the New York Times actually did the right thing:

June 6, 2007

Steven Gilliard Jr., 42, Dies; Founder of Liberal Political Blog


Steven Gilliard Jr., a political journalist who found his calling as a combative and influential blogger on the left, died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 42.

He died after having been hospitalized at Lenox Hill Hospital since February because of heart and kidney failure, said his cousin Francine Smith, a spokeswoman for the family.

From his perch at The News Blog, whose advertisements and donations paid for his modest living expenses, Mr. Gilliard offered his powerful readership a blunt and passionate take on the events of the day. He was one of fewer than a dozen liberal political bloggers to make a living from his blog, said Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, the founder of the Daily Kos Web site, to which Mr. Gilliard had been an early contributor.

Mr. Gilliard was born in Harlem and attended Hunter College Elementary School and Hunter College High School before graduating with a degree in journalism from New York University.

After working in print journalism, Mr. Gilliard migrated online, working for a Web site, Net Slaves, that chronicled the lot of the tech worker during the dot-com boom. His involvement in online political writing received a critical boost when Mr. Moulitsas chose Mr. Gilliard to help create material for the Daily Kos site at a time when it had 4,000 visitors a day; it now has 500,000 a day.

Mr. Gilliard eventually left Daily Kos to create The News Blog.

Mr. Gilliard’s survivors include his parents, Steven Gilliard Sr. and Evelyn Lillian Gilliard of Manhattan, and two sisters, Valerie Gilliard and Roberta Smalls, both of Massachusetts.

In what is a now-familiar story among Internet collaborators, many of the thousands who posted online reactions to Mr. Gilliard’s death wrote that they had known little about him, even the fact that he was black. Others, though, mourned the loss of an African-American voice in the liberal blogging world. Those closest to him offline similarly knew next to nothing about his life as blogger.

“Most of the family didn’t know what he was doing on the Web site,” said his cousin, Ms. Smith, who said his parents did not own computers.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Yes, the Beatles are Classic!

I remember the first time I heard the Beatles. I was in Montreal staying with my Grandmama. The song was “Love Me Do” and it just stuck with me. It was 1962 and I was such a neophyte. When I came back to the States no one knew what I was talking about when I tried to get the DJ’s at dances to play the Beatles. American DJ’s were clueless. But, the tune just really resonated with me. Its construction and movement really worked for me. You know the old “It has a good beat and I can dance to it” thing. Now I am a fan of many classical musicians. So, this column in the WaPo really resonated with me.

Yes, it's been 40 years exactly since Sgt. Pepper, having labored the previous 20 years teaching his band to play, arranged for its debut in full psychedelic regalia. He leveraged a little help from his friends, notably the vocalist Billy Shears and a riverboat owner named Lucy who had apparently made her fortune in the diamond business. Pepper realized that good music-making requires the expanding of horizons. A recent "trip" inspired him to incorporate tabla and sitar into the music. The band exhorted us to sit back and let the evening go so that they could turn us on, musically, lyrically, and blow our minds for the next several decades.

It has been 45 years since Mitch Miller, head of A&R (artists and repertory) at Columbia Records, dismissed the Beatles as "the hula hoops of music." Will Beatles songs still be loved when baby boomers are 64? Will they inspire future generations? Or will their music die with those who became intoxicated by their wit and charisma during the mind-expanding '60s?

A hundred years from now, musicologists say, Beatles songs will be so well known that every child will learn them as nursery rhymes, and most people won't know who wrote them. They will have become sufficiently entrenched in popular culture that it will seem as if they've always existed, like "Oh! Susanna," "This Land Is Your Land" and "Frère Jacques."

Great songs seem as though they've always existed, that they weren't written by anyone. Figuring out why some songs and not others stick in our heads, and why we can enjoy certain songs across a lifetime, is the work not just of composers but also of psychologists and neuroscientists. Every culture has its own music, every music its own set of rules. Great songs activate deep-rooted neural networks in our brains that encode the rules and syntax of our culture's music. Through a lifetime of listening, we learn what is essentially a complex calculation of statistical probabilities (instantiated as neural firings) of what chord is likely to follow what chord and how melodies are formed.

Skillful composers play with these expectations, alternately meeting and violating them in interesting ways. In my laboratory, we've found that listening to a familiar song that you like activates the same parts of the brain as eating chocolate, having sex or taking opiates. There really is a sex, drugs and rock-and-roll part of the brain: a network of neural structures including the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. But no one song does this for everyone, and musical taste is both variable and subjective.

Today the Beatles catalogue is loved cross-culturally -- the product of a six-year burst of creativity unparalleled in modern music. The Beatles incorporated classical elements into rock so seamlessly that it is easy to forget that string quartets and Bach-like countermelodies and bass lines (not to mention plagal cadences) did not always populate pop. Music changed more between 1963 and 1969 than it has in the 37 years since, with the Beatles among the architects of that change.

Paul McCartney may be the closest thing our generation has produced to Franz Schubert -- a master of melody, writing tunes anyone can sing, songs that seem to have been there all along. Most people don't realize that "Ave Maria" and "Serenade" were written by Schubert (or that his "Moment Musical in F" so resembles "Martha My Dear"). McCartney writes with similar universality. His "Yesterday" has been recorded by more musicians than any other song in history. Its stepwise melody is deceptively complex, drawing from outside the diatonic scale so smoothly that anyone can sing it, yet few theorists can agree on exactly what it is that McCartney has done.

The timelessness of such melodies was brought home to me by Les Boréades, a Quebec group that has recorded Beatles music on baroque instruments. The instruments give the sense that you're hearing Bach or Vivaldi, and for moments it's possible to forget that you're listening to Beatles songs. We're so used to hearing Beatles songs that for many of us they no longer hold any surprises. But when they're stripped of their '60s production and the personal and social associations we have with them, you can hear the intricate and beautiful interplay of rhythm, harmony and melody.

Here are some of the historical examples of the Beatles contribution to Musicology World Wide.









The Beatles and the Sixties really did change the discourse of the world from both a political and musicology perspective.

So no matter what you think of the Dirty Rotten Hippies ( and I stand J’accuse) and their political legacy you have to give us this!

And it was 45 years ago! It seems like yesterday and yet a lifetime.

And the beat goes on!

Update: How could I have forgotten this:


Hey Jude has so many very serious memories and implications for my life that I am shamed that I didn’t post it with this collection. Shame on me and you all know who I am talking to.