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Liberal Outrage

What's going on here?

I am bored.

Sure i have plenty of work to do, but my post-acquisition company is all falling to bits, gloriously, and i'm not particularly motivated to do anything. More importantly, due to reasons outside of my control, my copy of Civil War #7 has not been delivered to me, and therefore i can't go to any of the comic book sites where i would normally waste a quarter of my day. I'm also sick to death of reading about how congress is screwing around with ending the Iraq invasion (also here, if you like torturing yourself).

That leaves me with nothing to do but post doctored pictures of people holding giant bunches of celery. Love ya!

Next up: cute animal pictures!

By fnord12 | February 28, 2007, 12:49 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage & My stupid life | Comments (7)| Link

Never mind, it was just gas

Dow plunges 500 then gains some back

The U.S. joined a global market plunge sparked by growing concerns that the U.S. and Chinese economies are cooling and that equities prices have become overinflated.
Investors' dwindling confidence was knocked down further by data showing that the economy may be decelerating more than anticipated. A Commerce Department report that orders for durable goods in January dropped by the largest amount in three months exacerbated jitters about the direction of the U.S. economy, just a day after former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the United States may be headed for a recession.
The housing market, which the Street had been hoping had bottomed out, also looked far from recovery after a Standard & Poor's index indicated that single-family home prices across the nation were flat in December. A later report from the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales climbed in January by the largest amount in two years, but the data didn't erase housing-related concerns, as median home prices fell for a sixth straight month.

By fnord12 | February 27, 2007, 3:49 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Generals Threaten Revolt

First it was their stance against Rumsfeld (never mind that it took 6 years and 3,000 dead soldiers for them to find the cajones to take such a stance). Now there are signs that a few of the top generals will resign if the Bush administration tries to go forward with attacking Iran.

The Sunday Times just comes out and says it with a quote.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

"There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran," a source with close ties to British intelligence said. "There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible."

Then there's the interpretation of certain actions by military officials.

General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was "zero chance" of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive.
Hillary Mann, the National Security Council's main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace's repudiation of the administration's claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top.

"He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier," she said. "It is extraordinary for him to have made these comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious problems between the White House, the National Security Council and the Pentagon."

And from Crimes and Corruption:

Generals as experienced as Pace do not contradict their political masters by accident. The White House got the message, and retreated a bit. "What we don't know is whether the headquarters in Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did," said President Bush on Feb. 14. But he didn't really back down: "I intend to do something about it ... we're going to protect our troops."

So, if Pace's actions are being interpreted correctly and if indeed these 4 or 5 generals aren't just blowing smoke, the White House could have a real problem. Then again, the wingnut spin machine is so good that even if you are a general (or decorated veteran), they can get the crowd to turn on you in an instant. What will Congress do? They find it hard to have a backbone when it's not their own particular neck on the line as it is. Will they find the nerve to stand up to the foaming, ravening masses and take this once in a lifetime opportunity that's practically being handed to them on a silver platter?

I can see them now, fidgeting in their leather chairs, nervously mopping off the sweat from their brows as they blubber about the pressures of politcal life.

By min | February 27, 2007, 1:52 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

A different type of deep throat

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 10:12 AM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Link

The remedy to liberal reality.

Found on Kos:

Because reality has that nasty progressive bias, conservatives have again created their own, more comforting version, led by none other than Andrew, House of Schlafly. In response to that bastion of overly tolerant, anti-Americanism called the Wikipedia, we present the Conservapedia, dedicated to insuring that wingnuts young and old maintain their grip on ignorance. Let's look at a few of the evolving definitions, how about, say, global warming?
The theory is widely accepted within the scientific community despite a lack of any conclusive evidence. ...It should be noted that these scientists are largely motivated by a need for grant money in their fields. Therefore, their work can not be considered unbiased. Also, these scientists are mostly liberal athiests, untroubled by the hubris that man can destroy the Earth which God gave him.

A wiki is a sort of encyclopedia/dictionary which can be edited by users at will. This makes for some rather dizzying changes and deletions on the conservative incarnation. Here for example was the reported entire entry on Stalin, at least until it was removed out of either shame or embarrassment:

Josef Stalin was an atheist communist Russian dictator during World War II. He was defeated by Adolph Hitler, despite Hitler also being an atheist.

Hitler, the ever-clever Nazi atheist, not only fooled everyone by couching his perverse ideology in the context of religion again and again, he defeated Stalin in World War II by ingeniously committing suicide while Soviet troops mopped up the last crumbling remnants of the Third Reich in 1945 Berlin.

It's a laugh a minute on the Conservapedia as the base of the GOP discovers how ungainly a resource can be, when the goal is to mislead readers with lies and deception on a venue which can be updated with actual facts and references by anyone who reads it. So go on over, check it out, help make it a success, and enjoy.

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 9:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Get him the fuck out of the party.


Back on Sunday, I noted the discordance among Senate Democrats when it has come to finding a single plan the caucus can get behind to stop the Iraq war. Listing all of the Senators who has made different proposals to end the war, I complained about the following:
We need a Democratic Party that is willing to work together to end the war, instead of a Democratic Party whose most visible leaders are more willing to one-up each other in an ongoing attempt to burnish their anti-war credentials to the primary electorate. Unfortunately, right now we have the latter, instead of the former.(...)

At some point, if we are ever going to get anywhere on ending the war in the Senate, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry and Obama--all of whom have introduced different types of binding legislation to end the war--should sit down and fashion a combined bill legislative plan of some sort.

Now I realize that there is a problem to Democratic Senators sitting down and fashioning a joint plan to stop the war. That problem has a name, Joe Lieberman (emphasis mine):

So far, Lieberman is using his clout mostly in ways that discomfit his fellow Democrats, while his relationship with Republicans has involved more collaboration than coercion. When Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Bush's State of the Union proposal for a bipartisan terrorism panel was redundant, Lieberman, who supported the idea, privately sent Reid a letter saying he was "upset." Within days, Reid backed down and negotiated the panel's makeup with the White House. And last month, after Lieberman told Reid he had stopped attending the weekly Democratic lunch because he didn't feel comfortable discussing Iraq there, Reid offered to hold those discussions at another time. Lieberman has started attending again.

So, discussion of Iraq has now been banned from Senate Democratic caucus meetings. No wonder we have nothing resembling a unified plan to stop the war in the Senate. No wonder a dozen different Democratic Senators are offering up their own legislation to stop the war. Because of Joe Lieberman, Senate Democrats are not even discussing what the nation considers to be by far the most pressing issue facing American today: Iraq.

He's threatening to switch parties. Let's help him along with a swift boot to the ass.

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 9:07 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Just sayin'


As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive.

It's not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that's the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that's more than the emissions caused by transportation.

The latter two gases are particularly troubling – even though they represent far smaller concentrations in atmosphere than CO2, which remains the main global warming culprit. But methane has 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Methane could become a greater problem if the permafrost in northern latitudes thaws with increasing temperatures, releasing the gas now trapped below decaying vegetation. What's more certain is that emissions of these gases can spike as humans consume more livestock products.

As prosperity increased around the world in recent decades, the number of people eating meat (and the amount one eats every year) has risen steadily. Between 1970 and 2002, annual per capita meat consumption in developing countries rose from 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) to 29 kilograms (64 lbs.), according to the FAO. (In developed countries, the comparable figures were 65 kilos and 80 kilos.) As population increased, total meat consumption in the developing world grew nearly five-fold over that period.

Beyond that, annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons at the beginning of the decade to 465 million tons in 2050. This makes livestock the fastest growing sector of global agriculture.

Animal-rights activists and those advocating vegetarianism have been quick to pick up on the implications of the FAO report.

"Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products," writes Noam Mohr in a report for EarthSave International.

Changing one's diet can lower greenhouse gas emissions quicker than shifts away from fossil fuel burning technologies, Mr. Mohr writes, because the turnover rate for farm animals is shorter than that for cars and power plants.

"Even if cheap, zero-emission fuel sources were available today, they would take many years to build and slowly replace the massive infrastructure our economy depends upon today," he writes. "Similarly, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions quickly translate to cooling of the earth."

Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet - including all food processing steps - results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year.

"It doesn't have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan," says Dr. Eshel, whose family raised beef cattle in Israel. "If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you've already made a substantial difference."

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 2:39 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Here you go: Mixtapes

Just happened to come across this. Here's an example of why copyright enforcement for music is a problem outside the entertainment world: Police resources were wasted doing work like this:

Late in the afternoon of Jan. 16, a SWAT team from the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, backed up by officers from the Clayton County Sheriff's Office and the local police department, along with a few drug-sniffing dogs, burst into a unmarked recording studio on a short, quiet street in an industrial neighborhood near the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The officers entered with their guns drawn; the local police chief said later that they were "prepared for the worst." They had come to serve a warrant for the arrest of the studio's owners on the grounds that they had violated the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, or RICO, a charge often used to lock up people who make a business of selling drugs or breaking people's arms to extort money. The officers confiscated recording equipment, cars, computers and bank statements along with more than 25,000 music CDs. Two of the three owners of the studio, Tyree Simmons, who is 28, and Donald Cannon, who is 27, were arrested and held overnight in the Fulton County jail. Eight employees, mostly interns from local colleges, were briefly detained as well.

Later that night, a reporter for the local Fox TV station, Stacey Elgin, delivered a report on the raid from the darkened street in front of the studio. She announced that the owners of the studio, known professionally as DJ Drama and DJ Don Cannon, were arrested for making "illegal CDs." The report cut to an interview with Matthew Kilgo, an official with the Recording Industry Association of America, who was involved in the raid. The R.I.A.A., a trade and lobbying group that represents the major American record labels, works closely with the Department of Justice and local police departments to crack down on illegal downloading and music piracy, which most record-company executives see as a dire threat to their business.

Kilgo works in the R.I.A.A.'s Atlanta office, and in the weeks before the raid, the local police chief said, R.I.A.A. investigators helped the police collect evidence and conduct surveillance at the studio. Kilgo consulted with the R.I.A.A.'s national headquarters in advance of the raid, and after the raid, a team of men wearing R.I.A.A. jackets was responsible for boxing the CDs and carting them to a warehouse for examination.

Of course, even within the world of entertainment copyright enforcement is a problem. Albums that are now considered masterpieces like Paul's Boutique could never be made today because of how expensive it would be to get permission to use all the samples. That's what these people were essentially doing and they were busted and put in jail because of it:

The CDs made in the Aphilliates' studio are called mixtapes - album-length compilations of 20 or so songs, often connected by a theme; they are produced and mixed by a D.J. and usually "hosted" by a rapper, well known or up-and-coming, who peppers the disc with short boasts, shout-outs or promotions for an upcoming album. Some mixtapes are part of an ongoing series - in the last few years, the Aphilliates have produced 16 numbered installments of "Gangsta Grillz," an award-winning series that focuses on Southern hip-hop; others represent a one-time deal, a quick way for a rapper to respond to an insult or to remind fans he exists between album releases. The CDs are packaged in thin plastic jewel cases with low-quality covers and are sold at flea markets and independent record stores and through online clearinghouses like mixtapekingz.com. A mixtape can consist of remixes of hit songs - for instance, the Aphilliates offered a CD of classic Michael Jackson songs doctored by a Detroit D.J. Or it can feature a rapper "freestyling," or improvising raps, over the beat from another artist's song; so, on one mixtape, LL Cool J's "Love You Better" became 50 Cent's "After My Cheddar." In most cases, the D.J. modifies the original song without acquiring the rights to it, and if he wants to throw in a sample of Ray Charles singing or a line from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, he doesn't worry about copyright. The language on mixtapes is raw and uncensored; rappers sometimes devote a whole CD to insulting another rapper by name. Mixtapes also feature unreleased songs, often "leaked" to the D.J. by a record label that wants to test an artist's popularity or build hype for a coming album release. Record labels regularly hire mixtape D.J.'s to produce CDs featuring a specific artist. In many cases, these arrangements are conducted with a wink and a nod rather than with a contract; the label doesn't officially grant the D.J. the right to distribute the artist's songs or formally allow the artist to record work outside of his contract.

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 2:12 PM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Comments (1)| Link

Housing Bubble

Dean Baker again:

Economic analysts are now acknowledging the shake-up in the sub-prime mortgage market. Lenders had used ridiculously lax standards, and a high percentage of recent loans are now at some point in the foreclosure prcoess. However, the conventional wisdom assures us that this will only affect the sub-prime market, not the larger mortgage and housing market. I remain a skeptic.

Consider that nearly 20 percent of the mortgages issued in the last two years fell in the sub-prime category. This is a large segment of the market. Now suppose that many of these borrowers can no longer afford to buy homes or at least must pay much lower prices. The homes that sub-prme borrowers would have otherwise bought are the homes that other potential buyers would be selling. Without the sub-prime buyers, many homeowners looking to move up will be getting far less money for their current home. This will affect what they can pay for their move-up home.

Of course, mortgage lenders across the board are also likely to apply tighter standards, since the secondary market for poor quality loans is contracting now that investors realize that you don't make money on defaulting mortgages (see Gretchen Morgenson's fine piece). So, the bubble will continue to unwind. It remains to be seen how far and how fast, but the sub-prime market market will not collapse and leave everything else standing.

Also click on this link to see a group of charts illustrating the state of the housing market in answer to Greenspan (is he still allowed to talk?) saying "The housing slump was all but over."

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 10:02 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Imagine no copyright?

Dean Baker:

The NYT editorial page can always be counted on to harshly condemn protection for agriculture or manufactured goods, but when it comes to much larger economic distortions that are generated by copyright and patent protection, the NYT tells its reporters to look the other way.

Today's article on the development of new software that can detect the presence of copyrighted material on the web provides yet another example of the NYT's selective protectionism. The article includes no discussion whatsoever of the economic losses that result from imposing copyright protection. Think of the enormous gains to the economy and society if all books and articles, music and video were available to everyone in the world at zero cost over the web. These gains would dwarf any potential gains from eliminating trade barriers in manufactured goods or agricultural products.

In addition, think of how much we would gain by eliminating all the rent-seeking behavior associated with copyright protection. For example, we could have software developers doing productive work, instead of trying to develop software that tracks copyrighted work. We also wouldn't need legions of copyright lawyers (okay, maybe these lawyers couldn't do anything productive anyhow).

Also, imagine that creative workers didn't have to feel boxed in by copyright restrictions. Suppose we gave creative workers the right to write their own version of Harry Potter or Star Wars or any other work they choose. (Actually, I thought the constitution did give them this right [freedom of speech], but the copyright protectionists argue otherwise.)

Creative workers need to be compensated for their work, but copyright is an inefficient and antiquated system. Unfortunately, the NYT and most media outlets (which depend on copyright protection) do not even let the inefficiencies of copyright protection be discussed. This makes the process of promoting alternatives more difficult.

I dunno. I mean, i think i only want Marvel writing Marvel comics characters. I am definitely interested in looking at alternatives to copyright, but Baker's proposals (see links to pdfs) seem... a little too pat, a little too simple. Still, his larger point stands, that until we acknowledge that the current system is a form of protectionism that isn't in society's best interest, we won't even begin to really discuss and debate alternatives.

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 9:53 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (9)| Link

I hope you've learned to love the bomb

Report: Russia May Exit 1987 Arms Treaty

On the grounds that they were the Soviet Union, not Russia, when they signed the treaty. This is not without precedent, of course.

The US's actions (specifically around pursuing a "Star Wars" program, and especially around putting components of that program in central Europe, but also more generally) are pushing Russia, China, and India closer together (also check out the comments on that article to see how your fellow americans are representing you).

By fnord12 | February 16, 2007, 1:10 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Once again: facts are liberal


Yesterday over at Election Central we reported that GOP Reps. John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra had sent out a letter containing a set of talking points for GOP Congressmen to use in the debate in the House this week over escalation. As we noted yesterday, the letter was pretty interesting, particularly in that it urged GOP members not to talk about escalation and instead to change the subject to the wider war on "terror."

But there's another part of the letter that I'd missed yesterday -- and it may be even more revealing in a perverse sort of way. Look at what these two leading Republicans told their GOP troops about the media:

Thanks to the liberal mainstream media, Americans fully understand the consequences of continuing our efforts in Iraq -- both in American lives and dollars. The American people do not understand the consequences of abandoning that effort or the extreme views, goals, and intentions of the radical Islamist movement that is fueling the war in Iraq and the attacks on westerners and unbelievers throughout the world.

I think that's as clearly revealing as one could want. The problem with the liberal media, according to these two top Republicans, is that it's enabling Americans to understand the consequences of the war. But the media's bias is preventing it from reporting the "consequences" of not doing what the President wants.

This is really, really interesting when you unpack it. The media is being faulted for emphasizing the factual -- that is, for reporting on the factually observable things associated with the war that are happening right now, i.e., mounting deaths and skyrocketing costs.

Meanwhile, the thing that these two Republicans are criticizing the media for not doing is interpreting the war as being "fueled" by a single "radical Islamist movement." It's not doing enough reporting on what might happen if we pull out of Iraq. The idea here seems to be that the media's "liberalism" is preventing it from interpreting the war and speculating about the future in the way conservative war supporters want the media to.

By fnord12 | February 15, 2007, 5:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Meaningless but Catastrophic Resolution

Dana Milbank:

As head of the House Republican Conference, the 32-year-old redhead is leading his caucus into a public-opinion meat grinder: supporting President Bush's increase of U.S. troops in Iraq, against the wishes of more than 60 percent of Americans. Worse, he is leading them with a pair of somewhat contradictory arguments: (a) that the Democrats' resolution opposing Bush's Iraq buildup is a meaningless gesture, and (b) that the Democrats' resolution will cause the end of civilization as we know it.

By fnord12 | February 15, 2007, 12:12 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Clash of the Titans

AP Headline on Yahoo News:

God, Darwin clash again in Kansas

I'm rooting for Darwin, but we all know God's gonna kick his ass.

By fnord12 | February 13, 2007, 2:35 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Snappy Answers to Stupid Comments

From dailyKos:

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard blasted Senator Obama's policy on the Iraq war and said al-Qaeda would "be praying as many times as possible for a victory for not only Obama but also for the Democrats".
Obama : "If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home," [Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs] said. "It's easy to talk tough when it's not your country or your troops making the sacrifices."

By fnord12 | February 12, 2007, 4:49 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Civil War

Paul O'Brien:

By the way, my favourite Marvel feature of the week is the house ad for Civil War, which proudly proclaims "Civil War is intriguing because of its pointed, albeit allegorical exploration of a question that faces us in the present era of surveillance, detention and the Patriot Act." That's a quote taken from the Miami Herald, no doubt reviewing the series before the berserker cyborg clone of the Norse god Thor showed up. Perhaps he symbolises Bill O'Reilly.

Disclaimer: I like Civil War.

By fnord12 | February 12, 2007, 4:07 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Link

Death Report

Found on Atrios:

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Is Anna Nicole Smith still dead, Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, we're going to -- updating our viewers coming up shortly on...

CAFFERTY: I can't wait for that.

BLITZER: ... the mysterious circumstances surrounding that, Jack. Thank you.

By fnord12 | February 9, 2007, 2:18 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4)| Link

Public Directed Financing

This seems a little bit round-a-bout to me, but i like the fact that this plan avoids the criticism that "I don't like my tax money going to a candidate whose views i oppose. (to which my response has been "tough. i don't like my tax money going to fund wars." but this is probably more palatable):

Under the new plan, anyone who registered to vote would receive $10 to donate to House candidates, $15 to Senate candidates and $25 to presidential candidates. They could make their pledges essentially any way they chose. They could fund long shots or front-runners, spend their wads in the primary or the general election, in their home state or across the nation. They could split their allotments among dozens of contenders or just choose one Senate candidate, one House candidate and one presidential candidate. They could not cheat and spend the money on dinner. The $50 would be issued as a kind of electronic voucher that would expire on Election Day, and Ackerman and Ayres suggest that people could register their donations using the Web, ATM machines or even their electronic food stamp cards. At fifty dollars per 2004 voter, that would be $6 billion in public financing available for candidates. In comparison, all federal candidates -- House, the Senate and POTUS -- spent a combined $4 billion in 2004.

Step two, and this is the beauty of the plan, is that they want to decouple the act of giving to politicians from the identity of the giver, and make political contributions anonymous:

You could still make additional private contributions. Indeed, the professors call for raising significantly the current contribution limit of $2,300 per donor per candidate. ...

Imagine that you are a politically connected Hollywood producer, and Hillary Clinton calls you up and asks you for $50,000. What do you do? In truth, you'd rather give to Barack Obama, whom you consider more electable, but you don't want Clinton to know that. After all, what if she wins? Then you'll never see the inside of the Lincoln Bedroom. So you tell Clinton that you're definitely on her side. Fortunately, under the Ackerman-Ayres plan, you'll make your check out to the Federal Election Commission, not Clinton. The FEC will wait five days before adding your money to Clinton's account. In those five days, you could contact the FEC and redirect the money to Obama if you chose. And regardless of which candidate ultimately gets the money, its origin will be masked. The FEC will distribute the cash to the candidate's account anonymously, in pieces, over several days, using a secret algorithm to vary the pattern by which it deposits the money. So even though you promised the New York senator your support, she'll have no way of knowing whether you really went through with it. You could send your money to Obama and Clinton would have no way of knowing whose side you were actually on.

In other words, if this works, politicians will never know who wrote the big checks.

You'll want to read the whole article to see how independent expenditures become a factor, among other complexities, but I think it's an intriguing read. One question I've had with this plan is what this does to fundraising events -- if wealthy contributors can no longer buy access to wine and cheese functions with large checks (since you can't verify that they were given), then what can campaigns offer as inducement to write the large checks, other than "this candidate believes the right things"? If this means fewer fundraising events, will candidates spend more time with ordinary voters? I'm sure you'll have your own questions.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2007, 12:50 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

All this fuss

Over a bill that doesn't actually do anything.

Oh, and the Republicans are obstructionists.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2007, 12:35 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Our Arrogance Never Wavers

So, not only did the U.S. military's pilots open fire on allies and kill a British soldier, they covered up having a tape of the occurrence. And now that it's come out, they're saying it's the British government's fault they didn't get the tape sooner - they just didn't ask the right people.

The transcript reveals as many as six errors immediately before the attack near Basra in southern Iraq on March 28, 2003. On several occasions the pilots, a Major and a Lieutenant Colonel of the 190th Fighter Squadron, the Idaho Air National Guard, say they can see orange panels used to identify coalition forces, but convince themselves that they are enemy rocket launchers. The pilots were not sure what red smoke released on the ground to show them they had hit friendly forces meant, and had switched off communications with the ground so they did not hear instructions to stop firing.

At least, that's the Yorkshire Post's version. The story you get from the U.S. government is that the soldiers followed procedures and made no errors and it helps the terrorists when you let the dead soldier's family know that he got killed by friendly fire.

The soldier's widow, Susan Hull, said the video was the "one and only chance" to hear how and why her husband was killed. On it, one of the US pilots is heard saying: "We're in jail dude," after realising the mistake. "God dammit," said the other pilot, who opened fire. Mrs Hull said she "felt sick" when she finally watched the video and heard the American pilots apparently joking about hitting the convoy. She said L/Cpl Hull's life had been wiped out by "people who don't seem to know what they were doing or seem to care". After realising they had made a terrible mistake, the pilots were "more concerned for themselves than their victims", she added. Mrs Hull told the Sun: "I always knew there was a cover-up -- and this proves it. All I ever wanted was the truth about what happened to Matty, but no one was prepared to be honest with me. "I've waited four long years to see this footage. Finally here I am seeing my husband die at the hands of two imbeciles."

They were prolly hepped up on amphetamines. The pilots take them because they can be expected to stay up for 48 hours on long flights. In 2002, U.S. pilots bombed Canadian infantry in Afghanistan, once again, thinking they were the enemy. The combination of lack of sleep and drugs caused them to pretty much hallucinate and think what they were seeing really was the enemy instead of allies. So strange that these two incidents are so similar...

By min | February 7, 2007, 11:27 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I'm in

First presidential candidate to say "get them out". Between that and universal health care, he's now my candidate*.

Here we go. Barack Obama is introducing binding legislation mandating the phased removal of combat brigades from Iraq to start in a few months, with the goal of getting "all" -- we repeat, "all" -- removed by March 2008. From a release just sent out by his campaign:
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today introduced binding and comprehensive legislation that not only reverses the President's dangerous and ill-conceived escalation of the Iraq war, but also sets a new course for U.S. policy that can bring a responsible end to the war and bring our troops home.

"Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war," Obama said. "That's why I have introduced a plan to not only stop the escalation of this war, but begin a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and reduce the violence."

The Obama plan offers a responsible yet effective alternative to the President's failed policy of escalation. Realizing there can be no military solution in Iraq, it focuses instead on reaching a political solution in Iraq, protecting our interests in the region, and bringing this war to a responsible end. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date that is consistent with the expectation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

This is a very big gamble by Obama, and it's clearly designed to put some heavy pressure on the other Dems in the primary to come up with something similar.

*That's not good news for him. I've never supported a presidential candidate that won.

By fnord12 | February 2, 2007, 4:41 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3)| Link


Believe it or not, that's called a Democracy. Everybody gets a voice, not just the people you approve of.

(from Hullabaloo):

But if [we had public financing of elections], black helicopter conspiracy theorists off their meds, the dysfunctionally unemployed, irresponsible young men and women who have multiple babies out-of-wedlock, repeat felons and various other burdens to society without means might have as much to say about our nation's political leadership and direction as folks who soberly get up every morning, lovingly raise their children, productively hold jobs, responsibly pay taxes, and occasionally write checks, huge or otherwise, to the political campaigns of their choosing.

By fnord12 | February 2, 2007, 4:34 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Full-Pipe Recording

More creepy surveillance by the gestapo we call the U.S. Government.

Courtesy of the King of Zembla:

You are certainly aware of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's recent, rather disingenuous announcement that President Bush's illegal wiretapping program would henceforth be conducted under the supervision of the FISA court, as the law of the land dictates. You may be unaware, however, that the government has simultaneously undertaken a program of "full-pipe surveillance" -- that is to say, warrantless recording of internet traffic, from web browsing to e-mail -- on an unimaginably vast scale. The legal justification? Federal law says that snoopers must "minimize the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception," which means that even if you have a warrant to bug a criminal suspect, you must take pains not to eavesdrop on innocent people. There is, however, an exemption for intercepted communications "in a code or foreign language" -- and one DoJ functionary, quoted in the story below, claims that since all digital communications amount to a foreign language or code, it should be perfectly obvious that "federal agents are legally permitted to record everything and sort through it later"

Since we've got the Mooninite up there in our banner today, i suppose we'll be put into the "to be monitored" pile. Also, we do tend to use the terms "terrorist" and "fascist" and "iraq" and "bush is a moron" quite frequently. And, we're big proponents of the Constitution and all. Oh, oh. We're part of the Reality-Based community. Not lookin' good for us at all...

Gee, what with all this freedom and democracy going on, it's hard to imagine anyone not wanting to get in on this.

By min | February 2, 2007, 2:40 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Endless war

Robert Parry at Consortiumnews:

Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as mid-to-late February. The sources offer some differences of opinion over whether Bush might cite a provocation from Iran or whether Israel will take the lead in launching air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

But there is growing alarm among military and intelligence experts that Bush already has decided to attack and simply is waiting for a second aircraft carrier strike force to arrive in the region -- and for a propaganda blitz [See Dick Morris below] to stir up some pro-war sentiment at home.

One well-informed U.S. military source called me in a fury after consulting with Pentagon associates and discovering how far along the war preparations are. He said the plans call for extensive aerial attacks on Iran, including use of powerful bunker-busting ordnance.

Another source with a pipeline into Israeli thinking said the Iran war plan has expanded over the past several weeks. Earlier thinking had been that Israeli warplanes would hit Iranian nuclear targets with U.S. forces in reserve in case of Iranian retaliation, but now the strategy anticipates a major U.S. military follow-up to an Israeli attack, the source said.

Both sources used the same word "crazy" in describing the plan to expand the war to Iran. The two sources, like others I have interviewed, said that attacking Iran could touch off a regional - and possibly global -conflagration.

"It will be like the TV show '24'," the American military source said, citing the likelihood of Islamic retaliation reaching directly into the United States.

Though Bush insists that no decision has been made on attacking Iran, he offered similar assurances of his commitment to peace in the months before invading Iraq in 2003. Yet leaked documents from London made clear that he had set a course for war nine months to a year before the Iraq invasion.

In other words, Bush's statements that he has no plans to "invade" Iran and that he's still committed to settle differences with Iran over its nuclear program diplomatically should be taken with a grain of salt.

Meanwhile, here is Dick Morris stirring up support:

But there is a risk that our struggle against Iran will come to be seen by the American people as a subset of the war in Iraq, a bit like Cambodia was a subset of the War in Vietnam. If challenging Iran comes to symbolize an escalation of the war in Iraq, it will soon lose public support and become tainted with the tar which smears our work in Iraq.

By fnord12 | February 1, 2007, 12:16 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Awaken... the Doooooooomsday Man!!!!!

Why is it that when i hear Putin pledging a "highly effective" response to the US installing an "anti"-missle program in Central Europe, i think of some giant killer robot that was smuggled into the country during the Cold War suddenly activating and going on a rampage through Kansas?

Look at this guy. He will destroy you. Dick Cheney has got nothing on him. Their super-villain can kick our super-villain's ass.

By fnord12 | February 1, 2007, 8:51 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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