Friday, May 12, 2006

 

Media Sl*t Heads-up

The host of Ragged Thots will be filling in for Cal Thomas this weekend on "Fox Newswatch," Fox News Channel's media analysis show. Barring breaking news, it runs at 6:30 P.M. Saturday and 2:30 A.M. Sunday morning on the East Coast.

Check local listings for the time in your area!


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Thursday, May 11, 2006

 

Gen. Hayden...

...you gotta lotta 'splainin' to do:


USA Today said that calls originating and terminating within the United States have not escaped the NSA's attention.

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," the paper quoted one source as saying. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within U.S. borders, it said the source added.

The NSA has "access to records of billions of domestic calls," USA Today said. Although customers' names and addresses are not being handed over, "the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information," it said.

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA from 1999 to 2005 and was nominated by Bush on Monday as director of the CIA, would have overseen the
call-tracking program, the paper said.

Hayden, as well as NSA and White House officials, declined to discuss the program, USA Today said.
Um, just a guess, but I think his odds of becoming CIA director just dropped precipitously.

This also explains former NSA director Bobby Inman's rather
interesting -- and somewhat cryptic -- comments the other day.

So, in essence, the Total Information Awareness program that caused bipartisan alarm when it was revealed a few years ago -- partly because of the involvement of old Reagan hand John Poindexter -- survived in a slightly different form. Or maybe it was a parallel operation.

Either way, I have a feeling that this rather surprising post by La Shawn Barber may only be one of the first of several blogs on the right where the I-word starts getting bandied about.

And please read that as an observation, not an exhortation.


UPDATE: The full article -- with updates.

The president's response:
First, our international activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates. Al Qaeda is our enemy, and we want to know their plans. Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval. Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat. Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.

We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates. So far we've been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil.

As a general matter, every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy. Our most important job is to protect the American people from another attack, and we will do so within the laws of our country.

This person would, apparently, not be considered an "appropriate" member of Congress:

"I don't know enough about the details except that I am willing to find out because I'm not sure why it would be necessary to keep and have that kind of information," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 

A Shorter SCOTUS Short List

Luttig...OUT!

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Phrase Of The Day...

...is "strange bedfellows".

Here.

And here.

And, on a slightly different vein,
here too, as well.

All noted WITHOUT comment.

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Fear of A Black Planet

Well, a black Republican one, perhaps.

In order of likelihood of election:

1) Michael Steele, U.S. Senate, Maryland
2) Ken Blackwell, governor, Ohio
3) Lynn Swann, governor, Pennsylvania

I think Blackwell is the strongest all-around candidate, with, arguably the best organization. However, the major problems -- corruption and otherwise -- of the Ohio state party may prove insurmountable for the secretary of state.


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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

The Big BS Hits Albany

Since Ben Smith decided to record my weekend Albany activities at Albany's Legislative Correspondents Association dinner, it is only appropriate that I return the favor! Here are a couple of pics of two of New York magazine's "most influentials" (Daily News columnist Bill Hammond, pretty influential himself, lurks in the background)!

The third picture is David Paterson, New York Senate Democratic Leader (and Eliot Spitzer's running mate for lieutenant governor) , chatting with Spitzer and State Comptroller Alan Hevesi.




















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Monday, May 08, 2006

 

Speaking in Blaine English

OK, maybe this just being nitpicky, but isn't there something wrong with very title of this latest stunt by magician/illusionist/nothing-better-to-do David Blaine? It's called "Drowned Alive". Isn't that just the most absurd oxymoron you can imagine? "Drowned Alive" -- as opposed to what?

"Drowned Dead"?

His earlier stunt, "
Buried Alive," made sense. He was covered under six feet of Plexiglas tank filled with 4000 pounds of water and had to survive for seven days. He did it.

But, the fact is that the presumption is that the only people who are buried are, generally, dead -- thus, the fact that he is willingly burying himself, while still alive, the wonder of the stunt is obvious.

However, someone who drowns is, well, by definition "alive" until they are dead. A corpse can't drown because it's already dead. The point of this stunt is whether Blaine can hold his breath for nine minutes -- or risk drowning. I'm not saying that this is a wonderful test of endurance, but if he drowns, he drowns.

He will have been alive -- and then he'll die from lack of oxygen.

He'll be dead.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Wasting ridiculous amounts of time on a guy looking to make attention for himself.

But, still, these grammatical things really annoy me!


UPDATE: And, of course, Blaine can't quite pull it off. He neither manages to hold his breath for the record, escape his confinement without assistance -- nor even drown (alive or dead)! Geez, it's enough to make one lose faith in humanity! Hmmm...does his failure mean that Blaine is now, um, all "washed up"? Hope he plans on fully coming clean with the details of this stunt. Of course, it's no skin off my nose, if he doesn't. Hey, folks -- whatever floats your boat!

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On the Eighth Day of May...

...President Bush named a military general to run the Central Intelligence Agency -- despite the rather harsh instant judgment delivered by the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, that Michael Hayden is the "wrong person, the wrong place, at the wrong time. We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time.” Strong words coming from a House chairman for a key selection of his own party's president.

Hoekstra will use Hayden's nomination to focus on the military having a dominant role in the sifting of the various intelligence streams that will be coming into John Negroponte's office. Meanwhile, on the Senate side, Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter will look spotlight Hayden's role running the NSA's wiretapping program.

Interestingly enough (given yesterday's date), regular THOTS reader/contributor ERA reminds us that in the 1960s political thriller, Seven Days In May, America's military industrial complex
attempts a coup:
The plot itself, called ECOMCON (for "Emergency Communications Control"), entails the seizure of the nation's telephone, radio, and television network infrastructure by the JCS led by Air Force General James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster). Once this is done, General Scott and his co-conspirators will control the nation's communications assets; then, from their headquarters within a vast underground nuclear shelter called "Mount Thunder" (based on the actual Alternate Seat of Government maintained by the U.S. at Mount Weather in Berryville Virginia), the conspirators will use the power of the media and the military to prevent the implementation of a nuclear disarment treaty with the USSR.
The script was co-written by Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone -- and directed by John Frankenheimer who helmed another famous Cold War paranoia classic, The Manchurian Candidate.

No conspiracy theories here, but damn if these "life-moving-to-imitate-art" coincidences aren't a bit unnerving!


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Sunday, May 07, 2006

 

Sen. Clinton Hangs out

...at the New York State Legislative Correspondents Dinner, Albany, NY, May 6, 2006. Hillary demonstrated that she has a pretty good sense of humor -- both with her pre-written lines, as well as improvising by riffing off of Bill Weld's earlier parody of Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line."


1) Addressing the audience.















2) Having a laugh with New York Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue.














3) With New York Attorney General (and Democratic gubernatorial front-runner) Eliot Spitzer.















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Kos v. Clinton

The leader of the Democratic Party "netroots" goes after the '08 frontrunner:

The Democratic Party atrophied during [Bill Clinton's] two terms, partly because of his fealty to his 'third way' of politics, which neglected key parts of the progressive movement and reserved its outreach efforts for corporate and moneyed interests.

While Republicans spent the past four decades building a vast network of small-dollar donors to fund their operations, Democrats tossed aside their base and fed off million-dollar-plus donations. The disconnect was stark, and ultimately destructive. Clinton's third way failed miserably. It killed off the Jesse Jackson wing of the Democratic Party and, despite its undivided control of the party apparatus, delivered nothing. Nothing, that is, except the loss of Congress, the perpetuation of the muddled Democratic 'message,' a demoralized and moribund party base, and electoral defeats in 2000, 2002 and 2004.
Moulitas is quite correct when he says that Democrats have come to depend on big-dollar donors more than the Republicans. However, that well predated Bill Clinton. Indeed, the GOP's creation of "Team 100" (and later, the Regents and Bush's "Pioneers" were actually responses to the Democrats creation of a big-dollar club in 1988.

However, on the ideological point, Moulitas completely ignores that the major reason for the Democratic loss in 1994 was Clinton's focus on progressive causes such as gays-in-the-military and a cumbersome health-care program that was the very epitome of the liberal big-government approach Kos complains Clinton abandoned. Indeed, it has been argued that if Clinton had signed welfare reform first -- and then tackled health-care after a possibly successful '94, the history of the Democrats in the '90s might have been far different. Ironically, Hillary's popularity plummeted because she was seen as the left-wing architect of the health-care debacle.

Thus, it is rather ironic that the leader of the Democratic Party insurgent Kossacks rejects Hillary Clinton -- the one-time left-wing bete noir of the right -- because she has adopted her husband's "third way" approach.

Meanwhile, Hillary turns out to be quite the comedic hit at
Albany's Legislative Correspondents Association dinner -- the poor man's White House Correspondents Dinner.

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