« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »

October 28, 2005

Roll Over Rover

So ... What are the odds on Patrick Fitzgerald getting Karl Rove to roll over on Dick Cheney?

That is how U.S. attorneys work, you know. It's S.O.P. And it explains why Fitzgerald spent so much time talking with Rove's top lawyer on Wednesday. Rove’s nice liberal democrat lawyer.

I've never been able to figure out just how loyalty works in the Texas Mafia. It isn't like the more traditional Mafias, where omerta gave way to cover-your-ass. It isn't like the Russian Mafia, where silence equals cover-your-ass. The Texas Mafia seems to define loyalty as some sort of high-risk annuity: you can count on it, but only up to a point.

If there was enough to nail an indictment onto Li’l Lewie, it shouldn't be hard to nail Rove on the same trivial charges (trivial according to Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, she of short memory) of obstruction of justice and perjury using the same evidence. So either Fitz is holding out for something better to put on Rove, or he's looking to flip Rove.

And, according to published reports, George W. Bush finally figured out he wasn’t running the government. Boy, was he pissed!

Ahh, the fun is merely beginning.

Posted by Mike Gold at 04:07 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 23, 2005

Good Night and Good Grief

George Clooney’s biopic Good Night and Good Luck is every bit as good as it’s cracked up to be. It’s good enough to make Ann Coulter, perhaps the last living defender of J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, and the utterly despicable Roy Cohn, bulimic. Much has been made of the parallels between the Right’s response to the anti-McCarthy forces a half century ago and the Right’s response to the anti-Iraq War forces today. That’s appropriate; the similarities in technique and mannerism are staggering. But that’s only part of the story.

Good Night and Good Luck serves as a damning indictment of today’s press, one rarely seen or heard from the modern American liberal. And it’s damn well about time.

Edward R. Morrow was a man of courage. Anybody who heard his “This Is London” broadcasts from the roof of the BBC studios during the Nazi blitzkrieg understands this. He risked his career and that of his willing staff in order to report the truth about McCarthy and Cohn. He broke many stories that brought heat to his employers and sponsors; ultimately, his exposé of the tobacco industry led (as one of the last straws) to his separation from CBS News – which, by the way, had the guts to air the documentary. It’s hard to imagine the present CBS News airing a similar documentary about, say, the pharmaceutical business that pours so much money in their corporate till.

Whereas Morrow might have been the first to do this in a big way, he was by no means alone in his courage and professionalism. I could cite many others, but of course the most outstanding was Walter Cronkite, who brought down the vile presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson and did much to turn the tide of public opinion against the Vietnam war.

In those days the television network news divisions were expected to be loss leaders. They weren’t supposed to operate in the black for the simple reason that the network news would never generate ratings as high as the sitcoms and game shows and celebrity news programs that are up against them.

In the 1970s after the networks were sold to the conglomerates – Loews and then Viacom, GE and Capital City and then Disney – the ground shifted and the news divisions were told they, too, had to be profit centers. The argument had been that the news provided the major part of the broadcasters’ fulfillment of their FCC-required commitment to the public in exchange for their use of the public airwaves. These requirements were largely eliminated as the Nixonites wanted revenge upon the media and the Reaganites promoted their profit uber alles philosophy.

Just as Edward R. Morrow warned, the television industry whored itself to the great god dollar. Thoughtful, diligent reportage gave way to mindless pieces about shark attacks and inevitably routine local violence. It has become so overwhelming that most people today actually believe we live in a more dangerous, a more violent society than we ever did before. This flies in the face of the plummeting crime figures.

Stung by criticism that they were too liberal, the news media eviscerated Bill Clinton for his oval office blowjob and gave George Bush’s naked warmongering a pass.

And the news shows still come in behind the sitcoms and game shows and celebrity news programs.

Good Night and Good Luck made me feel nostalgic not for the 1950s, which was by and large an era that was dangerously unAmerican. No, I miss the time when newspeople were allowed to do their jobs with courage, with conviction, and with class.

Good night and good luck, indeed.

Posted by Mike Gold at 06:15 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

October 20, 2005

Law and Odor

We are being told – with a straight face, no less – that things are progressing in Iraq. It’ll take time, but the Iraqis are taking control of their country, bit by bit. Look at the Saddam Hussein trial, we are told.

Well, let’s look at it. In particular, let’s look at a Reuters dispatch from Thursday, October 20, around 4:00 EDT.

(Reuters) - A lawyer for one of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants was kidnapped from his home on Thursday, a day after he sat in the dock next to the former president on the opening day of their trial for crimes against humanity.

His client is former judge Jawad al-Bander, a senior legal source involved in the trial told Reuters.

"Saadoun Janabi was kidnapped this evening around 8.30 p.m. (1730 GMT) from his office, which is also his home, in the Shaab district by eight armed men," the source said.

Police and Interior Ministry sources confirmed the kidnapping. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Meanwhile, Condi “I Ain’t A-Runnin’” Rice says well, yes, we might be in Iraq another ten years.

Yep. Things’re going great!

Posted by Mike Gold at 05:07 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

October 19, 2005

A Bird In The Hand

It’s really amusing to listen to the liberal community rationalize Bush’s appointment of Harriet Miers. “Well, she just said she was anti-abortion in order to win a local election way back in 1989,” they say. “Right. You bet,” I say.

Think what you will of George W. Bush – he’s stupid, he’s a puppet, he’s uncontrollable, he has his own agenda and nobody can stop him now. I agree with all of that. But George didn’t get to be the great patsy he is by being that stupid. The one thing I do not doubt about the man is his commitment to taking away the right (and yes, for the past three decades it has been a right) to a safe, legal abortion.

It’s clear Bush knows how to read a calendar – or, at least, the countdown clock on so many blogs, including this one. He’s going to push as much of his agenda through as he can. He’s willing to sacrifice the public presence of Puppetmaster Dick Chaney – if Dick’s indicted, he’s history as far as his paid position is concerned. Bush was willing to ignore the advice of his handlers when he appointed Miers in the first place. He’s the man with the plan, and if that plan seems like a flow chart designed by M.C. Escher, well, that’s not his problem.

And by “our,” I mean the radical left, the neo-cons, the religious right, the liberal left, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Left-Libertarians, Greens, pinkos, and overripe pod-people like Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly.

The man’s uncontrollable. He’s a danger to his own party – the prospect of the Democrats picking up either the House and/or the Senate now seems as likely as the Yankees’ chances of winning the Pennent looked about a month ago.

Of course, the Yankees blew it, and they are better organized than the Democrats. But, at least, Howard Dean knows that.

Let’s see if the Dems are smart enough to pay attention.

Posted by Mike Gold at 12:16 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

October 11, 2005

Naked Humans, Equal Rights, and Bill Maher

I’m looking at a photograph from the Associated Press of an Australian woman holding a sign behind her back – and above her behind – that says “Australia: Stop Torturing Sheep.” She’s fully clothed, except for her butt, which is pained faux blood-drippy red.

Of course, it’s a PeTA demonstration. Lately PeTA has been using a great deal of nudity and body paint to draw attention to their cause. They’ve done this in demonstrations all over the world, with the exception of the United States of America. C’mon, PeTA; I know we’re a bunch of prudes here, but political proselytizing does require both commitment and courage. C’mon, show a li’l tit for the cause.

My web browser shows me the most viewed photographs of the moment, and whenever Reuters or the AP covers one of these demi-nekked rallies, those pix always makes the top five list. And I’m always struck by two thoughts.

Taken as a group, PeTA-people aren’t as ugly as I would have guessed. Well, at least the non-USA members. Oh, don’t get pissy on me, Lovely PeTA, PeTA-people. If you didn’t want to be seen as a sex object, you wouldn’t have gone naked in public.

This really doesn’t have a lot to do with your point. Fake blood on real butts and breasts. We get it. You think there’s no difference between animals and grandma. Fine. After a while, it’s just performance art.

Whereas I agree with some of PeTA’s agenda – for example, I don’t like testing cosmetics on bunny rabbits, and I also believe Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo shouldn’t be allowed to own elephants until Marlon Perkins comes back to work. But we differ on many critical issues.

In theory, I don’t have the same problem with animal testing of medicines as I do with testing cosmetics. If it’s necessary, you can chop up every bunny rabbit in Washington State if it’ll save grandma. PeTA says it’s not necessary and that there are alternatives involving computers and science and stuff.

The problem is, PeTA’s facts often tend to be a little fuzzy. They keep on saying a lot of stuff that reputable scientists say ain’t so. That doesn’t mean everything they say is bullshit, but it’s hard to tell. This isn’t a global warming thing where you can point to the melting ice caps and the changing conditions in Barrow, Alaska to support your thesis. Personally, I feel a whole lot better if the super-soldier serum my doctor’s hit me up with has been shot into a couple of monkeys first.

PeTA strongly gives the impression that they think that people and animals should enjoy the same basic rights. Sorry; that’s wacky to me. I eat animal meat. I don’t eat human meat. Admittedly, I haven’t been under conditions that might provoke that choice, but I don’t think the animal rights people are advocating cannibalism as an equal rights position.

I actually heard a PeTA spokesperson respond to the question “If you were driving down the road and you couldn’t stop in time and you had to chose between hitting a deer or a baby, which would you hit?” She responded “The baby.” The interviewer, who I thought was an asshole until that very moment, said “Look. I’m going to repeat the question. I don’t want anybody to think this was a trick.” She giggled a bit and said “Yeah, I know, you’re being straight and so am I. I would hit the baby.” The interviewer said “Ummm… One more time…” The response didn’t change.

That's simply wrong.

But then there’s Bill Maher. I respect Maher’s craft, I share a great many of his opinions – particularly when it comes to organized religion – and I absolutely love his show. He’s a member of PeTA’s board of directors, even though he eats meat. That seems like a conflict to me. But I kid Bill Maher. Then again, Maher is one of the nation’s most visible advocates for the legalization of marijuana, which he courageously admits to smoking frequently. I don’t get it.

This doesn’t have anything to do with his PeTA directorship, but, hey, any segue in a storm. I’ve got to ask this question.

How can a guy who does that much weed be so fucking skinny? Damn!

Posted by Mike Gold at 05:08 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 05, 2005

Lest Ye Be Judged

People should stop carping about Harriet Miers’ lack of judicial experience. Nearly 40% of all Supreme Court justices (and there’s an obnoxious title for you) were never judges prior to their appointment, and there’s no clear trend to indicate whether that’s good or bad. Better we should get us a few appointments of folks who were never lawyers. This judge thing is a red herring.

Here’s another.

The so-called conservatives are fond of saying “we want justices who will not legislate from the bench.” This is a complete and utter lie. What they want are justices who will not legislate from the bench against their point of view. They’d want to push their agenda through wherever they can, and the Supreme Court (I even hate typing that phrase in initial caps) does have the air of finality to it.

Until, of course, they change their minds. This doesn’t happen all that often, but the every people who detest judges legislating from the bench want exactly that to happen when it comes to civil rights. The Constitution does not speak to whether life begins before birth – although it does talk about not making any laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The Constitution does not speak to whether same-sex marriage should be okay-dokey, in fact, the Constitution does not talk about marriage at all. But it does talk about not making any laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it; the government should not be in the business of regulating marriage – let alone taxing it.

The Constitution also talks about securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves.” In fact, it starts right off with that little bit. Let’s see if the strict constructionists start off with that as well.

Posted by Mike Gold at 02:31 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack