Around The ‘Sphere Oct. 22, 2006

Our buffet of links from sites of varying viewpoints 4 U:

More Predictions That President George Bush Will Have To Change The Course On Iraq: Steve Clemmons is a MUST READ on the likely changes ahead. Clemmons points out that the bipartisan Baker Commission headed by former Secretary of State Jim Baker may not be enough:

I spoke with someone close to Senator John Warner last night who confirmed that the Senator has not been misunderstood by the media. He is determined to compel the White House to change course in Iraq if the Oval Office doesn’t do it on its own.

The problem with the Baker-Hamilton Report is that it doesn’t solve the internal policy management and implementation problems inside the White House. Baker becomes just another voice of other contending voices — and even if elevated to be the President’s Special Envoy for the Middle East, it’s not clear that the deep dysfunction that exists now and which paralyzes the inter-agency process will be fixed.

Cheney’s team must be neutralized and set to the side of the policy process — clearly demoted and moved out of the way for any Baker type plan to succeed in shaping an alternative direction.

Read it all. Note that on many of this administration’s most controversial, polarizing and denounced policies it has been Cheney who has been the behind-the-scenes advocate. Of course, Cheney doesn’t seem to care much about public opinion, or Congressional opinion or polls or consensus. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?


A GREAT NEW FILM WEBSITE
has been born. Its creator: Dan Schneider, a commenter on this site and a Guest Voice reviewer from time to time (a great two part review from him will come up later this week). CHECK IT OUT. We’re adding it to OTHER VOICES later today on our blogroll.

A NEW INVESTIGATIVE TOOL:
Oh, this will prove to be fun. Jay Rosen:

“It takes less than five minutes to investigate whether a given member of Congress has a wife or husband on the payroll. This is because the relevant data bases have been combined and adapted to make it extremely simple to check for spouses as payees in campaign expenditures.”

Don’t miss Sunlight’s latest adventure in networked journalism: “a new distributed research and reporting project that will enable citizen journalists to find out how many members of the House of Representatives have their spouses on the payroll.� The campaign payroll, that is.

The practice is not illegal. It is questionable, but it can’t be questioned unless the public knows about it. “Members who hire spouses to work on their campaigns pay them from the campaign contributions they raise from special interests— in effect, allowing their political fundraising to add to their personal income,� said the press release from Sunlight.

Read it all (and try it out).

Was Star Trek “Fascist?” Ed Morrissey looks at this issue. (That the issue has come up at all is enough to make William Shatner flip his wig.)

Stem Cell Research Is Still A Huge Issue and if you don’t believe us, LOOK AT THIS.

A Great Blogger Has Monster Medical Bills
and he can use your help (even if it’s a little bit).

So How Did Each Party Fail? What was the low point for each party in the 109th Congress? The discussion starts here…

The Controversy Over CNN’s Sniper Video: Rep. Duncan Hunter (who is in hot water here in San Diego over a financial scandal and is blasting my former employer The San Diego Union-Tribune for its stories) wants CNN reporters embedded with U.S. troops removed. Wizbang’s Kim Priestrap has some thoughts HERE and supports the idea.

Our thoughts: When now jailed Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham got into big trouble due to scandal stories published in the UT he made a huge splash nationally by noisily pressing for a constitutional amendment opposing flag burning. Perhaps it is a coincidence (and it is definitely possible) that Hunter is noisily pressing this issue at a time when he’s also a target of damaging stories published by the UT. But, that aside (and how you view his motivation really depends on which party you are plugging for since partisanship trumps everything this time of year) the fact is this:

The government needs embedded reporters. They have been more of a plus for the Pentagon than a minus. Hunter’s move will please voters in his conservative constituency and will help (whether this is the intent or not) his battle with the UT. But it would be surprising if the Defense Department went on the warpath against CNN because in the end embedding reporters has generally meant more favorable coverage and greater control over what reporters report. Remember: a reporter can only report X amount of things at one time. If he/she is embedded that’s a key part of the reporter’s assignment. If he/she isn’t, the reporter is freed up to do other military-related stories where they’re not given as much guidance and direct sourcing.

Rush Rants Rejected By Right Thinking: One of TMV’s favorite conservative blogs (which he needs to link to much more often) is Right Thinking From The Left Coast. It’s written by a highly independent conservative thinker. Two items as examples.

On Rush Limbaugh:

I tuned in this morning to see what he had to say about the upcoming election, and he was in mid-rant. I listened for about thirty seconds and couldn’t take any more so I switched it off. Why? He was railing about how there really is no mass discontentment with the GOP among the voters, and that this was nothing more than a coordinated conspiracy by that durn librul media to “suppress the conservative vote.� Limbaugh’s a smart guy. I just wish more of his listeners were.

And, on the war, he notes Bush’s highly publicized powwow with Generals to look at war tactics, strategy, etc — and he has concluded Bush isn’t really going to change many things:

Of course he doesn’t think it’s necessary. If he did, he would have done it by now. Bush knows that his Iraq plan is the right one for two reasons: his “gut feeling� about it, and the fact that God spoke to him and told him that invading Iraq without a clue how to occupy the country was a super spiffy idea.

I would give anything, anything to be able to go back to 2000 and vote Libertarian. Allow me to put into blunt terms how strongly I feel about this. If I had a time machine and could either go back to 2000 and keep Bush out of office, or I could go back three years to when my father was alive and see him one more time, I’d choose to get rid of Bush. THAT is how badly he is f—— up our country.

Perhaps this is TMV’s personal bias. They say blogs are like talk radio. TMV doesn’t listen to the “rip and read” talking points talk show hosts of the left and right (not for too long, at least). He makes no bones about the fact that he enjoys listening to the more unpredictable types, regardless of ideology: Ed Schultz (progressive talker but not Air America), Michael Savage (conservative talker), John and Ken on KFI 640 (right leaning independents) in Los Angeles and the screechingly funny progressive talker (but not Air America) Stephanie Miller.

There ARE blogs that are also less predictable — even if you don’t agree with them. Right Thinking is one of them. And — believe it or not — there are quite a few on the left, center and right. If you just look.