December 2007 Archives


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To bloggers who made a difference in 2007.

Thanks to each one of you who took your passion and did something with it.

Such a way with words

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Atrios nailed it on the Unity08 effort:

Democracy, Villager Style

Shorter bipartisan reacharound fetish crowd:

We're a dozen or so old, white, mostly male people who for the most part don't hold elected office. Unless the presidential candidates do what we tell them to do, we're going to encourage our short divorced pal from New York City to spend a billion bucks of his personal fortune to fuck around with the election because that's what the people need.

What he said.

An Introduction to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

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Time magazine has a profile of Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, a 19-year old student at Oxford who along with his father, Asif Ali Zardari, will now lead the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). The profile provides more details of how the turnover was orchestrated.

Per one of his friends at Oxford, his Facebook status on the day his mother was killed read:

"Well behaved women rarely make history."

I know a few women who would agree with that. He later posted this:

"You can imprison a man but not an idea. You can exile a man but not an idea. You can kill a man but not an idea. -- Benazir Bhutto."

Good luck, Bilawal.

And on a related note, Rawstory did a summary of a BBC 4 newscast about how Benazir was actually killed and included video from BBC 4. It's worth watching and listening to the entire newstory. It seems very likely that she was killed by the gunman, contrary to the government's protestations which appear to be motivated by a desire to cover up their security failure.

The RIAA -- Failing to evolve

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In a word: Unbelievable

The short version: The RIAA is arguing that it's illegal for you to make a copy of a cd that you bought to download onto your mp3 player via your computer.

...the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.


But lawyers for consumers point to a series of court rulings over the last few decades that found no violation of copyright law in the use of VCRs and other devices to time-shift TV programs; that is, to make personal copies for the purpose of making portable a legally obtained recording.

As technologies evolve, old media companies tend not to be the source of the innovation that allows them to survive. Even so, new technologies don't usually kill off old media: That's the good news for the recording industry, as for the TV, movie, newspaper and magazine businesses. But for those old media to survive, they must adapt, finding new business models and new, compelling content to offer.

The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed.


Another JAG officer takes a stand on torture

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"It was with sadness that I signed my name this grey morning to a letter resigning my commission in the U.S. Navy," wrote Gig Harbor, Wash., resident and attorney-at-law Andrew Williams in a letter to The Peninsula Gateway last week. "There was a time when I served with pride ... Sadly, no more." [...]

It was in the much-publicized interview two weeks ago between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, who is the chief legal adviser at the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions, that led Williams to resign.

In the interview, Graham asked Hartmann how the uniformed legal community should respond if the Iranian government used waterboarding to torture a U.S. solider into disclosing when the next U.S. military operation would occur.

Hartmann responded: "I am not prepared to answer that question." [...]

Williams, 43, felt that Hartmann was admitting torture is now an acceptable interrogation technique in the United States -- an admission that did not sit well with him.

"There was this saying in the Marines: 'We don't lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate people who do,' " Williams said. "And that sort of echoed through the Navy."

I'm glad to see that there are officers like Andrew Williams and Ian Fishback who will stand up and say, 'This is not right. This is not what our military stands for.' I hope more join them.

Mr. Williams' complete letter is available here.

If you've not read Captain Fishback's letter to Senator McCain which he shared with the Washington Post, it is a must read item which I encourage you to read and book mark. It is so hard to choose an excerpt but this, I think, strikes at the heart of what he said.

A Paris Tradition Snuffed Out

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To me Paris is epitomized by cigarette smoke wherever one goes. Guess it won't be quite the same now.

Per the NY Times, "on Jan. 1, France will extend its smoking ban to bars, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and cafes."

C'est la vie.

One sidenote: Fumer tue = Smoking kills. Think they wrote it big enough?

Nicely Done Matt

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I've just finished admonishing the NY Times oped editor and Matt Bai of the NY Times turns around and writes one of the most thoughtful eulogies about a blogger that so many of us admired. H/T to kos.

Steve Gilliard was born into this Harlem 30gilliard-190and took it all in, but he wouldn't find his voice on the corners. He was quiet, bookish, overweight. He won entrance to an elite high school, where he passed his time reading obscure military histories, then studied history and journalism at New York University. He found his true calling, though, on the Internet. In 1998, when he was 34, Gilliard joined a new site called, whose blogger-reporters chronicled the misadventures of the new high-tech work force, and there he discovered his own kind of incendiary oration. It was by the dim light of a computer screen, rather than on the sunlit corners of Harlem, that Gilliard took to expertly excoriating the moneyed establishment.

Do go read the whole thing. Steve's old gang at The Newsblog celebrate the article and Steve's impact and as good bloggers do, "gently correct" a few errors.
- - - - -

Photo courtesy of the Gilliard family per NYT credit

Items of Interest

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-- TPMmuckraker has an interesting background piece on the State Department's initial response to Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

State Dept Pakistan Chief: Ask Me Later About Bhutto

Really. They really said that.

Just more Bush administration mediocrity in appointing non-experts to positions for which they're unqualified.

The Irresponsible New York Times

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In a perfect example of the Appeal to Authority fallacy, the NY Times published this.

Not up on your fallacy definitions? Casey Morris defined it in a DCP post about another egregious example (which is worth a read all on its own).

This is a fallacy called "Appeal to Authority" for those of you that didn't have to sit through argumentation class in college. It means that just because someone is an expert in one area, doesn't mean that he is an expert in anything but that one area.

In other words, expertise in one area does not confer automatic expertise in another area. Which is why it is so puzzling that the NY Times would provide Fred Kagan a platform on which to broadcast his non-expert opinions on Pakistan.

Kagan's scholarship focused "on the 19th century Russian military"; a focus unrelated to Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan in either historical or current day context. Brandon Friedman aka The Angry Rakkasan dismantled Kagan's supposed expertise almost a year ago. He examined Kagan's CV, his peer-reviewed papers (only 4 - none on Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iraq). His review of Kagan's career established that in no way is Kagan qualified to offer an 'expert' opinion on world affairs other than the development and evolution of Russia into the Soviet Union and back into Russia.

Our media should scrutinize and shine a bright light on the credentials of the "experts"; not provide a platform for so-called experts who have no more qualifications than I have to blurt out their latest non sequiturs.

I'd like to see the NY Times do a thorough examination of Fred Kagan's scholarly background. Something like Brandon Friedman did almost a year ago at Daily Kos, one of those blogs that media types like to discount. The ideal would be an investigative article, thoroughly researched and well-substantiated, not a he-said, she-said variety.

Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch summed it up well:  "this type of 'village' idiocy, which reads like post-adolescent masturbatory drivel (sorry...), does need to be kept to a minimum in coming weeks, lest our policy-making class get carried away again towards other epic blunders."

Giving someone as unqualified as Kagan the platform of the New York Times op-ed page from which to make ridiculous recommendations, such as let's send our special forces into Pakistan to take over all their nuclear facilities and weapons, is a completely irresponsible action by the NYT.

And finally, a message to the NY Times op-ed editor:

You should know better.

Benazir Bhutto

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My daughter and I both went, "Oh no" when we read the title of the top diary on the rec list at Daily Kos, " Pakistan-ready to explode?, Bhutto assassinated".

Then we went scrambling for CNN. Confirmed.
It's a sad, sad day for the people of Pakistan. I hope they can hold it together.

This article and the accompanying video from the Washington Post and MSNBC offer some good detail in case you missed the initial report.

Benazir, you were a wonderful role model for what women could achieve. Rest in peace. I hope your sacrifice for your nation bears positive results.

So it really was stolen

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Amy Goodman interviewed Harvey Wasserman about the release of a report from the Ohio Secretary of State's investigation into the 2004 election and the management of elections and the voting process in Ohio.

Pretty interesting stuff for those who care about whether or not they can vote and that the vote actually gets counted correctly.

Check the interview out here and then sigh a big sigh.

More Christmas Cheer

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And they can sing! Really sing - not just noodle around a melody. Delightful and funny.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Happy Christmas

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Items of Interest

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-- Take the time to read the LA Times' article on "Unintended victims of Gates Foundation generosity"

-- Smintheus is a new front-pager at daily kos. Bill in Portland Maine posted an interview with him in Cheers & Jeers the other day which included the following question and answer.

What are your favorite blogs besides Daily Kos?

Chiz, this could be fatal. Here are the ones I visit nearly every day: Unbossed, Harper's, Balkinization, Newshoggers, Never in our Names, Abu Aardvark, Desert Beacon, Secrecy News, TomDispatch, Whatever it is I'm against it.

It didn't include hyperlinks to the blogs he listed so I looked them up and thought I'd post them here.

It's an interesting assembly of blogs.

Playing with Scissors

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We all used those scissors with the rounded points to cut construction paper in our early years. Here's what the art of paper looks like when it grows up.


Check out more of Jen's art. H/T to Sully

The Hue and Cry over Huckabee

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Now that Huckabee has surged ahead in the Iowa and South Carolina polls on the Republican nomination race, conservative bloggers and pundits have some interesting things to say about him and the race.

John Cole at Balloon Juice has some interesting selections. Good for a chuckle:

Can schadenfreude be fatal?

Andrew Sullivan has also weighed in at The Daily Dish.

It's amazing to me to watch Rich Lowry and Charles Krauthammer begin to panic at the signs of Christianism taking over the Republican party. Where, one wonders, have they been for the past decade? They have long pooh-poohed those of us who have been warning about this for a long time, while cozying up to Christianists for cynical or instrumental reasons. But now they want to draw the line. Alas, it's too late, I think...

Radar Online on Joe Klein's Folly

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John Cook at Radar Online has written about Joe Klein's errors and missteps with his inaccurate piece on the FISA bill which has brought Joe much opprobrium in Left Blogistan. There are so many delicious lines, I hardly know where to begin but here's a sample.

Klein's reactions on Swampland to his FISA critics are precious goldmines of self-aggrandizing pretense that must be savored at length to appreciate their rich subtleties and overtones. His first response acknowledged--in an insufferably cloying way--that although partisan murk clouded the issue, he "may" have made a mistake, before going on to claim that if he indeed had made a mistake, "we are talking about relatively obscure and unimportant technical details." In other words, Klein sat down to write a column about obscure and unimportant technical details.

Klein's next weigh-in on the blog, two days later, was headlined "FISA: More Than You Want to Know," as though his responsibility to assess the veracity or lack thereof of the claims he made in his columns involved some kind of burdensome slog through legislative thickets beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. Why are you making me do this? This is hard!

His post artfully shifted the issue from whether the bill says what he said it says to whether his Republican sources or Democratic sources were correct in their interpretations (who knows? This law stuff is complicated) before actually committing to pixels the following words, which will live on as one of the finest specimens of sheer journalistic hubris ever issued from one of the genre's most accomplished practitioners:

"I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right." I don't have time find out if what I write is true, people! I'm too busy claiming that other things are true. And even if I did have time, I'm not qualified to say whether the things I write are true anyway!

If you missed Glen Greenwald's updates on this, do check out this post.

Larry Johnson on the Iran NIE & the NeoCon reaction

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Here's an interesting post from Larry Johnson on the validity of the NIE on Iran and nuclear weapons.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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