Friday, January 19, 2007

Surging and Purging

Paul Krugman

There’s something happening here, and what it is seems completely clear: the Bush administration is trying to protect itself by purging independent-minded prosecutors.

Last month, Bud Cummins, the U.S. attorney (federal prosecutor) for the Eastern District of Arkansas, received a call on his cellphone while hiking in the woods with his son. He was informed that he had just been replaced by J. Timothy Griffin, a Republican political operative who has spent the last few years working as an opposition researcher for Karl Rove.

Mr. Cummins’s case isn’t unique. Since the middle of last month, the Bush administration has pushed out at least four U.S. attorneys, and possibly as many as seven, without explanation. The list includes Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney for San Diego, who successfully prosecuted Duke Cunningham, a Republican congressman, on major corruption charges. The top F.B.I. official in San Diego told The San Diego Union-Tribune that Ms. Lam’s dismissal would undermine multiple continuing investigations.

In Senate testimony yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to say how many other attorneys have been asked to resign, calling it a “personnel matter.”

In case you’re wondering, such a wholesale firing of prosecutors midway through an administration isn’t normal. U.S. attorneys, The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, “typically are appointed at the beginning of a new president’s term, and serve throughout that term.” Why, then, are prosecutors that the Bush administration itself appointed suddenly being pushed out?

The likely answer is that for the first time the administration is really worried about where corruption investigations might lead.

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

friday random ten

James McMurtry - Live in Aught-Three
1. "Saint Mary of the Woods" - James McMurtry and the Heartless Bastards [Live In Aught-Three]

Catherine Wheel - Ferment
2. "Black Metallic" - Catherine Wheel [Ferment]

K. McCarty - Dead Dog's Eyeball: Songs of Daniel Johnston
3. "Rocket Ship" - Kathy McCarty [Dead Dog's Eyeball - Songs of Daniel Johnston]

Lime Spiders - 25th Hour
4. "25th Hour" - Lime Spiders [25th Hour EP]

Beulah - When Your Heartstrings Break
5. "Emma Blowgun's Last Stand" - Beulah [When Your Heartstrings Break]

Cabaret Voltaire - 2x45
6. "Wait and Shuffle" - Cabaret Voltaire [2x45]

Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
7. "Elsewhere" - Sarah McLachlan [Fumbling Towards Ecstasy]

Various Artists - Magazines - NME - NME C86
8. "Buffalo" - Stump [NME C86]

The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
9. "Sister Morphine" - Rolling Stones [Sticky Fingers]

The Oohlas - Best Stop Pop
10. "The Rapid" - The Oohlas [Best Stop Pop]


Bonus #11: elfgirl mix

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Murder by


"This is the moment freedom begins"

Bill Moyers:
(Broadcast - 01/16/07 -Democracy Now! )

What does today's media system mean for the notion of an informed public cherished by democratic theory? Quite literally, it means that virtually everything the average person sees or hears outside of her own personal communications, is determined by the interests of private, unaccountable executives and investors whose primary goal is increasing profits and raising the country's share price. More insidiously, this small group of elites determine what ordinary people do not see or hear. In-depth coverage of anything, let alone the problems real people face day to day, is as scarce as sex, violence, and voyeurism are pervasive.

Successful business model or not, by democratic standards, this is censorship of knowledge by monopolization of the means of information. In its current form, which Barry Diller happily describes as “oligopoly,” media growth has one clear consequence. There is more information and easier access to it, but it's more narrow and homogenous in content and perspective, so that what we see from the couch is overwhelmingly a view from the top. The pioneering communications scholar, Mary Edelman, wrote that opinions about public policy do not spring immaculately or automatically into people's minds. They are always placed there by the interpretations of those who most consistently get their claims and manufactured cues publicized widely.

For years, the media marketplace for opinions about public policy has been dominated by a highly disciplined, thoroughly networked, ideological noise machine, to use David Brock’s term. Permeated with slogans concocted by big corporations, their lobbyists, and their think tank subsidiaries, public discourse has effectively changed the meaning of American values. Day after day, the ideals of fairness and liberty and mutual responsibility have been stripped of their essential dignity and meaning in people's lives. Day after day, the egalitarian creed of our Declaration of Independence is trampled underfoot by hired experts and sloganeers, who speak of the “death tax,” “the ownership society,” “the culture of life,” “the liberal assault on God and family,” “compassionate conservatism,” “weak on terrorism,” “the end of history,” “the clash of civilizations,” “no child left behind.” They have even managed to turn the escalation of a failed war into a “surge,” as if it were a current of electricity through a wire, instead of blood spurting from the ruptured vein of a soldier.

The Orwellian filigree of a public sphere in which language conceals reality, and the pursuit of personal gain and partisan power is wrapped in rhetoric that turns truth to lies, and lies to truth, so it is that limited government has little to do with the Constitution or local economy anymore. Now it means corporate domination and the shifting of risk from government and business to struggling families and workers. Family values now mean imposing a sectarian definition of the family on everyone else. Religious freedom now means majoritarianism and public benefits for organized religion without any public burdens. And patriotism has come to mean blind support for failed leaders.

Libby Trial Jury Selection: Day One Recap of Libby's Dilemma

Libby has a war problem, and though this case is narrowly about felony charges of obstruction of justice and perjury, wherein the case for war in Iraq provides only the setting, the unavoidable drama and context of this case is the case made for war in Iraq and the credibility of this administration, and in particular, the Office of the Vice President.

The national polls are what they are. The president is wildly unpopular and growing more so with his every subsequent utterance; Dick Cheney is even less popular than President Bush. The public overwhelmingly is rejecting the administration's policies and reluctantly coming to the conclusion that, at best, the administration innocently provided bad information to the country, but is intransigent in the face of developing reality. And through all this, to attempt to get a fair trial, Team Libby must scratch to find jurors without strong opinions or preconceptions on these matters, in Washington, DC, of all places (more than one potential juror, when asked if they had heard or read of any controversy alleging the administration had provided the country with bad information in making its case for war, replied, "In this town? Are you kidding?").

The Libby team's jury selection strategy seems rather clear: if they can find at least one, and preferably two, people who are among that 12% of the population in support of the administration's "surge" strategy to escalate the war in the Middle East, that would be golden. Two such people, or at least one, could possibly hold out against what otherwise might be a consensus to convict, possibly even nullifying the jury, if it came to that. Generally, the demographics that hurt the administration hurt the defense team: women (especially single women), minorities, working people or union members, liberal professionals, etc. The problem for team Libby is, their best jurors live in Salt Lake City, not Washington, DC.
Pachacutec:The Huffington Post