The 10 Hottest Liberal Women


Earlier today I noted that Playboy had a really vile article on line on conservative women. At Right Wing News John Hawkins has responded with his list of the 10 Hottest Liberal Women, avoiding the factors which made the earlier Playboy piece so disgusting.

While the list avoided being offensive as Playboywas, Hawkins did once again demonstrate what we know about the conservative movement. If you criticize their most extremist views, no matter how otherwise conservative you are, they will call you a liberal. Therefore Meghan McCain made the list at number five. I’ve noted the conflict between McCain and other conservatives in posts including here.

Apparently someone forgot to tell Meghan McCain that she’s now a liberal before she decided to pick a fight with Steve Benen. Actually I think that Meghan misunderstood what Steve was saying, but you can check out the link if interested in finding out more about this little blog war.

Cheney Backs Away From Torture Claims

Dick Cheney had claimed that some classified CIA documents supported his contention that torture provided information which prevented a terrorist attack, contradicting a report from the CIA’s inspector general. A few days ago Senator Carl Levin reviewed the documents and stated that Cheney’s claims about the classified documents were untrue. Greg Sargent has reviewed an interview Cheney gave with Fox last night, finding that Cheney has backed away from his claims:

There’s a very revealing moment buried in an interview that Dick Cheney gave to Fox News last night that really gives away his game plan on torture.

Specifically: Cheney seemed to edge away from the claim that the documents he’s asking the CIA to declassify will prove unequivocally that torture worked.

The key moment came when his interviewer said: “You want some documents declassified having to do with waterboarding.” Cheney replied:

“Yes, but the way I would describe them is they have to do with the detainee program, the interrogation program. It’s not just waterboarding. It’s the interrogation program that we used for high-value detainees. There were two reports done that summarize what we learned from that program, and I think they provide a balanced view.”

Bear with me here, because this is crucial. Cheney is carefully saying that the documents summarize what we learned from the overall interrogation program. Torture, of course, was only a component of that program. So he’s clearly saying that the docs summarize what was learned from a program that included non-torture techniques, too.

Here’s why this is important. It dovetails precisely with what Senator Carl Levin, who has also seen these docs, says about them. Levin claims the docs don’t do anything to “connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of the abusive techniques.”

My bet is Cheney is planning to cite the valuable intel in the docs and say that the program — of which torture was only a part — was responsible for producing it. He’ll fudge the question of whether the torture itself was actually responsible for generating that information. Cheney is as experienced as any Washington hand at using precise language to obfsucate, and this is the game plan.

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What Dave Was Doing While Conan Was Running To LA


Normally I’d be far more likely to watch The Late Show With David Letterman, but I couldn’t pass up seeing what Conan O’Brian was going to do his first night on The Tonight Show. It turns out that he had to run across the country to make it to his new show.  It seems like just yesterday that he took over Dave’s old show, and now he is competing head to head with him. For others like me who skipped watching Dave last night, above is a video of what Dave had to say.

Obama Gets Second Chance With Nancy Reagan


Yesterday I noted how Barack Obama missed a good public relations opportunity when he did not invite Nancy Reagan to attend the ceremony where he announced the reversal of George Bush’s ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Nancy Reagan had said she would have liked to attend, and Obama soon got another chance to appear with her. Washington Wire reports:

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan has made a rare trip to Washington, D.C., this week for events to honor her late husband, President Ronald Reagan, and meet with the Obama family.

Reagan appeared alongside President Barack Obama today as he signed legislation creating the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission, tasked with planning and carrying out activities to mark the 100th birthday of the former president in 2011.

On Wednesday, the former first lady will also attend a bipartisan ceremony in the U.S. Capitol’s Rotunda to unveil a seven foot statue of the late president. She is also scheduled to have lunch with First Lady Michelle Obama. The two women have spoken before, when Obama called her after the election on advice for living in the White House…

Obama made a point of mentioning stem cell research as he stood with the former first lady today. “There are few who are not moved by the love that Mrs. Reagan felt for her husband — and fewer still who are not inspired by how this love led her to take up the twin causes of stem cell research and Alzheimer’s research,” he said. “In saying a long goodbye, Nancy Reagan became a voice on behalf of millions of families experiencing the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Obama and The S-Word

Despite all the influence of the Chicago School on Barack Obama, with some even labeling Obama a left-libertarian, some on the right have been erroneously referring to Obama as a socialist. This is primarily because segments of the right are heavily into name-calling regardless of the facts, but with the government now owning General Motors some believe this claim has some credibility.

Obama is responding to a crisis by doing things which are contrary to the economic views he would be following if not for a time of crisis, which is far different from running for office on a platform of nationalizing businesses. More significantly, the goal here is to help a company survive which might not survive without massive government involvement. The goal here is to ultimately have a viable private company–which is quite different from the goal of a true socialist.

It’s fair to call the General Motors deal or the AIG takeover examples of socialist policy; government is directly intervening in a private concern. But it’s not fair to say that the Obama administration is socialist per se because socialism is an -ism, a system, a guiding philosophy, and it’s clear that putting the government in charge of private production is not the Obama administration’s guiding philosophy. When some conservatives try to insist otherwise, that’s when they look over the top. Maybe there’s a point when these socialist policies add up to actual socialism (or in the banking system, lemon socialism) but we are far, far from it.

If the Obama administration had come into office without an economic emergency, they wouldn’t be involved in these firms — don’t forget that the first big government takeovers came under George W. Bush and that the management and directors of the auto companies asked for government help. The current administration has made clear they don’t intend to be in the auto making (or banking) business for very long, and voluntarily laid out various guidelines to keep politics out of business decisions. Obviously, lines will be fudged and there are plenty of opportunities for conflict, but this is clearly not an administration whose every answer is “seize the means of production” — see, for instance, this graph, or the administration’s deep reluctance to take over insolvent banks despite a fairly large constituency for such an action. Ultimately, then, I’m not sure it’s productive for conservatives to call the administration’s response to the auto makers “socialism” — although, hey, maybe some political points in that — but rather to harp on the fact that the government has made a pretty unfortunate investment because it thought the collapse of the industry presented a systemic risk to the economy.

More broadly, though, as Henke recognizes, one of the reasons the “s-word” has become somewhat meaningless is that it is used by some conservatives to describe things that just aren’t socialism at all, like regulations or the income tax, rather than recognizing our hybrid economic system and debating within its framework. We can argue over whether more or less regulation is a good thing and what the appropriate income tax rates ought to be, but neither one represents a socialist policy. Another reason that this socialism debate hasn’t taken off is that liberals aren’t really in the business of defending socialism, so my response, at least, to the socialism debate is generally, “yup, that’s not a normatively good idea, but strategy demands it.” I would really have preferred to avoid a government takeover General Motors, but the consequences of not doing so seem catastrophic.

John Henke responds at The Next Right:

…the real question is one of degree.  Obama is not socialist.  But he is more comfortable with centralizing economic power.  As that centralization proceeds, the focus of public interest will shift from “how do we fix the immediate economic problems?” to “how do we fix the problems we created when we tried to fix that temporary problem?”  That is when the pendulum can swing back towards decentralization and individual empowerment.

Celebrating A 20th Anniversary


China has found a strangely appropriate way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which is two days away–by clamping down on the internet.

Two days before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, China’s censors moved today to limit the access of the country’s increasingly tech-savvy population to vast swathes of the internet.

The first victims were the rising population of tweeters, who use the micro-blogging service Twitter as a platform for humour — often scatological — and political comment.

Then the popular photo-posting service Flickr disappeared, as did the Hotmail e-mail service and Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing. The blocks did not stop there, however: MSN Spaces also disappeared

The timing is scarcely a coincidence. Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of the entry of the People’s Liberation Army into Beijing on June 4 1989 to crush seven weeks of student-led demonstrations centred in Tiananmen Square.

For those too young to recall the events, while intellectually we probably realized it wouldn’t last, emotionally we had hope after weeks of demonstrations in Tiananmen Square that China  was actually becoming more tolerant with regards to dissent and demands for democracy. Then the tanks came in.

The Playboy Guide To Raping Conservative Women

Right wing bloggers are  making a lot of noise about an item on conservative women which had been on Playboy’s web site written by Guy Cimbalo. Sometimes when the conservative blogosphere makes a lot of noise their complaints are nonsense. While Playboy took down the material, The Activist Conservative has posted screen captures. Just a quick glance of them was enough to convince me that the conservative bloggers are entirely correct in objecting to this vile material.

If we are going to object to Bill O’Reilly saying things which can be taken to incite extremists to murder an abortion doctor, we should also object to this article which virtually advocates the rape of conservative women. While conservative sites are often guilty of hyperbole in their attacks, I note that Hot Air was actually somewhat restrained in writing “A “hate f**k” sounds like something perhaps just short of rape, but degrading enough to entertain the perverted twerps at Playboy.”  At least Playboy’s terminology does make it clear that this form of rape is a crime of hatred, whether they are advocating rape or something “just short of rape.” Right Wing News also shows similar restraint in writing, “Still, I’d have to say Guy Cimbalo is probably not endorsing rape — probably.” He sure comes damn close to it.