July 14, 2007

Glenn Greenwald finds that the low approval numbers from Congress come from a very surprising source: liberal Democrats who feel the body has been too passive in going after the President.

July 13, 2007

Sorry, Mr. Nyhan, but after all the stonewalling, lies, and claims of "executive privilege," the burden of proof over any accusation is on George Bush, not Josh Marshall. There are things the President can do and say in this instance that would indicate he was never involved in the leaking of a covert CIA agent's name, and that, in both word and deed, he opposed the actions of that cabal of executive office staffers who conspired to out Valerie Plame. He has not done so. Do the math.

As sentient human beings, we are not obligated to adhere to the same standards of proof on this issue that a juror would. We don't need proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Just a hunch will do, and when our gut has told us in the past that the Bushies were up to no good, it was almost always correct.

July 12, 2007

I think you'll agree; this is gassy:

The Return of the Fisher King: D-Fish is back with the Lakers.

July 11, 2007

One of the most unbelievable comebacks in rock history is at hand: Roky Erickson (of 13th Floor Elevators fame) is touring again, and will play his hometown of Austin this Friday, which is his 60th birthday. He earlier played the Coachella Festival last February. Here's a vintage clip of the man who "invented" acid rock:

But Are They Real? The paper of record in the City of Angels botches another big one.
Obstruction of Justice? Harriet Miers' likely non-appearance before Congress tomorrow, at the behest of the White House, may provide both the legal rationale and the political motivation to begin impeachment proceedings against the President and Vice President. The public already backs removing Cheney from office, and it wouldn't be hard to convince a third of the GOP contingent in the Senate to abandon him; I wonder if this open defiance of a subpoena will break the damn concerning Bush as well.

July 10, 2007

Indiginous People of Peace: A lot of people are having fun with this ridiculous Michael Fumento post, complaining about how Hollywood doesn't scare up enough wartime bigotry they way it did in the 40's. In particular, his observation that in the recent Die Hard sequel, the FBI ally of John McLane "looks decidedly Arabic," is generating quite a bit of scorn from those whose anti-Islamafascism is decidedly on the muted side.

In fact, the character he is referring to, "Bowman," is played by Cliff Curtis, a thirty-nine year old actor from New Zealand. Curtis has done several major American films, but is best known for his work in movies like Whale Rider, The Piano, and Once Were Warriors. That's right: Curtis is from that hotbed of revolutionary jihad, the noble defenders of the Caliphate, the Maoris. Never mind the chador or the burqa, maybe we should outlaw the haka. Lomu Akbar !!!

UPDATE: Fumento's response is even lamer. He's no racist, he claims, because:
1. How my saying he looked Arabic has anything to do with racism is unexplained.
2. Arabs are Caucasian. That's my race.
3. The actor is an aborigine descendant, hence his dark skin. He actually PLAYED an Arab in the movie Three Kings.
If Arabs are white like him and I, and the actor in question is a dark-skinned Maori, how does that make the character look "decidedly Arabic"?

July 09, 2007

Three of the smarter lights of the blogosphere, Susie Madrak, James Joyner, and Marc Danziger, debate the best way to make blogging something more than a rich man's hobby. Danziger, I think, has the better of the argument; until we figure out a way to allow the individual blogger to get a piece of the action the Queen Beez of the blogosphere are getting, regardless of ideology, it is fruitless expecting assistance to come from ideologically sympathetic cohorts.

I suspect this is going to be a recurring issue, what with three major bloggers (Cathy Seipp, Steve Gilliard and now Jim Capozzola) dying in the past three months of natural causes, all before reaching their fiftieth birthday. Most successful bloggers are able to devote the time and hours necessary to pimping their site and reaching a large audience without having to worry about the mundane folly of "making a living." That is because most bloggers fall into one of a few categories, which I list in order of their non-precariousness: wealthy people with a lot of free time on their hands; lawyers; people whose job it is to be near a computer terminal all day; college professors and students; people who get paid to write for a living; and, most precarious of all, political activists, both actual and wannabe.

When political blogging first started to make headway in our culture, the major players were disproportionately from the world of journalism, academia and computers. Blogging supplemented their real world jobs, and if financial insecurity began to rear its ugly head, their on-line hobby complemented what they did for a living. Eventually, when the ease of creating your own website combined with the narcissistic pleasure of having your opinions thrust on the world became apparent to more and more, the blogosphere began to include greater numbers of people, like myself, who loved to write and had either the free time or the inclination to devote several hours a day to their blog. Some of us had the money to subsidize this hobby, but many did not.

Increasingly, perhaps inspired by the success of Daily Kos and MyDD, we are seeing more and more bloggers emerge from the latter category of would-be political activists. Madrak's complaint, as I see it, is that people who work their asses off getting Democrats elected to office should reap some of the material benefits of that success, and that blog readers should be less passive when it comes to helping the scribes who toil away for hours fighting for the better tomorrow. To those bloggers, their website isn't a hobby, it's their calling, and it is difficult to appreciate the amount of time that goes into creating a high-traffic blog.

It is an unfortunate reality that the very power of the blogosphere, that it includes so many different and disparate voices, is the one thing that will keep the Susie Madraks of the world impoverished, at least for the time being. None of us, not Kos nor Prof. Black nor Ms. Madrak nor Digby, nor, especially, myself, is irreplaceable. We may each have a unique voice, but the blogosphere as a whole generates hundreds of new "unique voices" each day, and any political entity, whether it be the Democratic Party or Move On, can always find a different Unique Voice to raise funds or encourage activism online. Since we are fungible commodities, we aren't marketable to them. Our supply greatly exceeds their demand.

So the only solution is not ideological, but structural. Until bloggers can find a way to profit from the Long Tail (and until a "Long Tail" actually emerges from the wake of the Queen Beez at the top, like Kos and Instapundit), blogging will remain an activity for hobbyists with lots of time on their hands, and for those would-be activists with not a second to spare.
More good stuff from The Terrorist's Dictionary:
commute - verb
To correct the misapplication of sentencing guidelines to the ruling class.
And from earlier this month:
oppo research - noun
Abbr. "Opposition research." Training for civil service.

July 08, 2007

Peace, love and...your video of the week:

The Story the past few days in Los Angeles has been the revelation that our mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has been carrying on an affair out of wedlock with a local TV reporter, Mirthala Salinas. California being a state in which being a marital miscreant is not only not a barrier to high elected office, but practically a necessary credential (ie., Reagan, Unruh, Feinstein, Schwarzenegger, and the last two mayors of San Francisco, just to name a few), it doesn’t appear likely that this will hinder Villaraigosa’s long-term political ambitions.

But a more telling question is whether “sex scandals” have ever been as crippling to a politician as has been assumed. We needn’t look at recent examples involving Gov. Schwarzenegger and President Clinton to indicate the public’s tolerance for a potential leader’s betrayal of his marital vows; even in the 19th Century, the public was willing to set aside rumor and conjecture in electing men to the highest office. Thomas Jefferson’s alleged relationship with a slave, Sally Hemings, was not something dug up by recent scholars: it was first aired publicly in 1802, and although Jefferson never publicly denied the charge, he easily won reelection two years later. Andrew Jackson won two terms as President, even though he was involved in a bigamous relationship with his wife, a fact the voters were well aware of (as well as the fact that he had killed a man in a dual over that fact) when he ran for office. Most famously, Grover Cleveland twice won election to the Presidency after it had become known that he had fathered a child out of wedlock.

For a time, it was thought that divorce would prove to be debilitating to a politician’s career, after Adlai Stevenson and Nelson Rockefeller fell short in their bids to be President. But considering that Stevenson’s best region in his two defeats to Eisenhower was the Bible Belt, and that Rockefeller’s defeats in 1964 and 1968 had more to do with his being unwilling (and unable) to court his party’s base on a host of other issues, that factor was overstated even then. It is safe to say that Ronald Reagan’s divorce and subsequent remarriage clearly didn’t upset his party’s base, and even as the Rove Machine was throwing every bit of garbage at John Kerry last time, the fact that he had been divorced did not play a perceptible role in the last election.

Nor is there any evidence to suggest, as the LA Times editorial page did last week, that Democrats tend to be judged more harshly by the voters than Republicans. Besides Bill Clinton, who won terms as President in spite of almost continuous frenzied speculation concerning whom he was sleeping with, and whose approval ratings went up every time a new allegation was made, other Democrats, including Barney Franks and the late Gerry Studds, have also been able to weather the media storm even when the allegations concern homosexuality. By itself, sexual indiscretions by male politicians have never been anything but background noise, important only to those people who didn’t like the politician in the first place.

Even the examples the Times raised only prove the rule. Gary Hart’s popularity went through the roof after it was revealed that a reporter tailed him while investigating his private life; had he stayed in the race, he would probably have been the Democratic nominee in 1988. Henry Cisneros survived the initial revelation of his affair with a staffer in 1989, and was strong enough politically to get confirmed as Clinton’s first Secretary of H.U.D.. His troubles happened not because of an affair, but because he lied to FBI agents years later about the amount of hush money he had paid the former mistress. And Gary Condit’s troubles stemmed not from the fact that he had an affair with Chandra Levy, but from the fact that he many had suspected him of being her killer.

More to the point, it can well be argued that far from hurting political careers, the perception that a male politician is getting some on the side may well be beneficial, particularly for liberal Democrats, as long as the proper pieties are spoken and the acts of contrition seem genuine. Nothing reinforces the perception of the Alpha Male more than the belief that the dude in question is a Sex Machine, and when a political leader whose public principles include compassion for the underclass and support for women’s rights is also perceived as being a ruthless Don Juan to the ladies, any undercurrents that he might not be “man” enough for the job dissipate. And should the media see fit to expose that aspect of his character, the public will invariably rally around the politician, defending his right to privacy, while subconsciously cheering him on. For a liberal Democrat, it's a no-lose situation, a fact that the Mayor probably knew when he preemptively announced his adulterous relationship this week.

When Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy at a 1962 fundraiser, there probably wasn’t a person in the room who didn’t have some idea that the two were an item, and the later revelations about JFK’s betrayal of his marital vows do not seem to have appreciably damaged his public standing, where he remains one of our most popular Presidents in history. If Villaraigosa goes down in flames, it won’t be because he’s been sleeping with beautiful TV reporters, but because some other scandal gets him first.