Archive for July 3rd, 2006

Kudos to the Billings Gazette for speaking out against the right-wing New York Times witch hunt in a recent editorial, “Free press provides check on executive power.”

Some highlights:

In the Bush administration, reporting what the administration doesn’t want reported has been routinely labeled “helping the enemy” or “undermining efforts to thwart terrorists.” The executive branch led by President Bush basically says: “Trust us; we will tell you what you need to know.”But that line of thinking is distinctly un-American.

The editorial reiterates concern that the Bush administration is operating without oversight in its sifting of SWIFT transaction records and suggests the reports do not damage security. (“It strains credibility to imagine that terror financiers never suspected that their international transactions would be the target of U.S. investigators.”)

American journalists also have a duty to hold government accountable — not because government wants to share information, but because democracy demands an informed electorate.Shall we never write, read or speak about what the government wants kept secret? Shall we trust the federal government to know what’s best? Sure, the press can make mistakes. Government can make mistakes. But democracy can’t survive in an information vacuum.

Government reporting isn’t a crime, it’s a patriotic duty.

Pretty strong words from the Gazette. Good for the editorial staff on taking a stand and announcing to the public that it, too, intends not to be cowed by right-wing rhetoric linking free speech to treason.

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France 1, Brazil 0

Just saw the tape of Brazil – France last night. Thoughts:

So my theory about hair and WC success was all wrong – Portugal’s ‘dos edged out the close-cropped England crew. The France – Brazil match was harder to predict; plus, I didn’t know Ronaldhino would opt for a ridiculous ear-warmer to keep his locks in check.

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t like Brazil’s style of play this World Cup. Too much like Argentina in the past, relying on quick counter-strikes while sitting back and playing defense by fouling and bunching up their men in the back. Well, this style bit them in the *ss.

Their play was good enough to get them out of their group and win their first game…but let’s be honest for a moment, shall we? They didn’t exactly face any world-beaters. Croatia, Australia, Japan, and Ghana. Maybe the easiest four games in all the tournament. (Italy’s close: U.S., Czech Republic, Ghana, and Ukraine.) Brazil did not beat a single quality team. When they met France, they were totally unprepared.

That said, I place the blame for Brazil’s failure on two sets of shoulders: Ronaldhino and Brazil coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira. (And, of course, on France’s shoulders – what spectacular play!)

This was supposed to be Ronaldhino’s team. He didn’t step up. Period. When things began to disintegrate, why didn’t he call for the ball? Why did he let Cafu and Roberto Carlos try to take over the game? Why did he let Kaka try to repeatedly bang up – solo – against the French defense?

A good leader is selfish and demanding. Look at Zidane – always calling for the ball, taking it away from teammates. Whenever a French player got the ball, the first thing he did was look for Zidane, and then after passing it to him scamper to an open space for a pass. That’s as it should have been: Zidane set the tempo of the game, he created the game’s only goal and most of France’s chances. The others accepted their roles he gave them.

Parreira, though, really ensured Brazil’s loss. The team lacked cohesion. If Ronaldhino couldn’t set the pace on the field, it was Parreira’s job to find someone who would lead Brazil. But worse still was Parreira’s selection of the starting eleven, especially in his obdurate decision to start Ronaldo over Robinho.

Ronaldo is toast. He’s done. He’s no longer a world-class soccer star. Oh, sure, maybe after a rigorous training regimen he could slim down, but can all the training in the world regain a lost step? Ronaldo was too slow. There were a number of excellent chances for Ronaldo in the first twenty minutes of play that he just couldn’t catch up with, that the 2002 Ronaldo would have gotten a boot on, if not put in the net. He can still handle the ball, sure, he still has a strong shot, but the quickness is gone. He’ll do fine in the MLS if he signs with the Red Bulls, but he can’t score against the best. He was never a danger in this game.

You could blame Ronaldo himself for his fitness. It’s obvious the guy has enjoyed his celebrity and his fat paychecks. (Not quite as much as Maradonna…but Ronaldo is still young.) Ultimately that’s his own problem. If he’s not up to playing, then his coach should have put him on the bench and played Robinho instead – who was sizzlin’.

But the big story is, of course, the return of Zidane. France really was clicking against Brazil. They had a delicious fluidity, their play like a current or wave. And Zidane is the reason. He’s back.

Links…

The NSA wanted to tap domestic phone calls before 9/11?? WTF?? Any questions, people?

Pogie: Burns’ claims he’s leading the fight against meth by cutting funds for local and state anti-drug efforts.

Ed Kemmick destroys Bill O’Reilly. Now if only we could convince his peers not to legitimize lunatics like Coulter…

Speaking of Coulter, she may be done. Not because she’s a fringe extremist and hate monger, but because she’s a plagiarist. What test did she copy? Mein Kampf?

Sen. Ted Stevens’, er, eloquent defense of his stance against Net Neutrality. You don’t think telecomm money has bought his vote, do you? (Via Intelligent Discontent.)

Zarqawi’s widow claims al Qaeda sold out her husband in exchange for the US easing up their search for bin Laden. Okay, it’s a sketchy source, but intriguing – and it seems to confirm the rumors circulating the assassination.

Report: “People in Britain view the United States as a vulgar, crime-ridden society obsessed with money and led by an incompetent president whose Iraq policy is failing…” And these are our closest allies.

Hope you don’t have kids who want to attend college. Thanks, President Bush! Thanks, Republican Party!

Let’s see…which candidate represents regular folks, and which the interests of big companies and DC insiders?

SF mayor proposes to give city’s residents universal health care! Holy smokes!

Flag-lover Feinstein reveals that the Bush administration did not brief Congress on the SWIFT program. Oops!

Orcinus on the administration’s attack on the NYTimes as part of right-wing “eliminationism,” the campaign to destroy any non-conservative public dialog.

Speaking of eliminationism…do you wonder why people post anonymously?

Great Independence Day read: Andrew Bard Schmooker’s email interview with former Reagan official Bruce Fein on executive lawlessness and the duty of Americans to uphold the Constitution, even over party politics.

The TPMCafe’s MJ Rosenberg ponders the silence of liberals over the Gaza crisis.

Talking Points Memo guest blogger, “DK,” did post about the Gaza crisis, calling it a disproportionate response. He got responses from both extremes.




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