On the Iowa caucus, and the inescapable fates of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani, and with them the Republican party at large, Josh Marshall saidbest:

The truth is that the Republican party tonight is in complete disarray. The best financed candidate just fell on his face. Their big winner of the evening is opposed by almost the entire establishment of his party. The frontrunner of recent months is lost down in Florida shakily repeating ’9/11′ under his breath like a hobo who needs a stiff drink.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of guys.

I wanted to share a few of the more powerful words and images created in the light of Al Gore’s incredible achievement, and humbly add a thought or two of my own.

First, Josh Marshall:

There are several layers of irony and poetic justice wrapped into this honor. The first is that the greatest step for world peace would simply have been for Gore not to have had the presidency stolen from him in November 2000. By every just measure, Gore won the presidency in 2000 only to have George W. Bush steal it from him with the critical assistance of the US Supreme Court. It’s worth taking a few moments today to consider where the country and world would be without that original sin of this corrupt presidency.

And yet this is a fitting bookend, with Gore receiving this accolade while the sitting president grows daily an object of greater disapproval, disapprobation and collective shame. And let’s not discount another benefit: watching the rump of the American right detail the liberal bias of the Nobel Committee and at this point I guess the entire world. Fox News vs. the world.

And not to forget what this award is about even more than Gore. If half of what we think we know about global warming is true, people will look back fifty years from now on the claims that “War on Terror” was the defining challenge of this century and see it as a very sick, sad joke — which rather sums up the Bush presidency.

In spite of what the Republican right wants us to believe, this herculean effort was never about personal glory for Al Gore. It is a selfless act, born of a deep commitment to the truth, and a dedication to the health and well-being of all on Earth. But since they cannot fight the facts, which as Stephen Colbert once said “have a well-known liberal bias,” they must counter with outright slander and the most personal of smears…

Speaking of which, along with the great Media Bloodhound, I too was appalled to see the New York Times give prominent placement to such worthless garbage. Contrast that with the simple and understated treatment on the Apple website:

Al has put his heart and soul, and much of life during the past several years, into alerting and educating us all on the climate crisis. We are bursting with pride for Al and this historic recognition of his global contributions.

Yes, Gore is a member of the Apple Board of Directors (he’s on Google’s Board as well), but he’s also an American icon now recognized for his efforts by the global community, and that feat alone is worthy of acknowledgment. But we can’t give him too much glory, or else some people (even make-believe ones like Fake Steve Jobs) will look to Al for even more…

Now it is time. You must run. Not because you want to run, but precisely because you don’t want to run. That, Al, is your strongest point. You don’t want it. You don’t need it. You dare now to be yourself. No artificiality, no stiffness, no falseness. You are who you are. And we need you. We, your fellow Americans. We need you. Now more than ever. Our nation’s soul, hurt by this foolish war, cries out to you. We’ve been wounded by an administration so obsessed with so-called “terrorists” that they don’t notice the earth’s temperature rising at an alarming rate — nearly a tenth of a degree in just the last ten years. So blinded by fear of Iran that they don’t see the snowcap receding on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and icebergs melting and breaking apart in Antarctica. For nearly eight years we have suffered under this madness. This must end.

I don’t often admit it, but I voted for Bush in 2000. I was warned repeatedly by a close friend, but the overwhelming media bias against Gore (especially at the local level in Ohio — the Columbus Dispatch was ruthlessly brutal) had me so thoroughly snowed that I pulled the lever for Bush instead. I still recall a distinct sorrow and shame for my decision at that very moment, knowing in my heart that I was making a grave mistake (obviously that regret remains with me to this day, and even voting against him in 2004 brought little relief). Luckily, there is a silver lining, as Andrew Sloat so eloquently reminds us of the beauty in the 22nd Amendment…

Clearly, these two men and their causes will forever be linked, and their fortunes intertwined. We know now the many differences and the immense gulf between them. Look no further than these two images for confirmation…

Here is Al Gore. He is consumed with his life’s work, immersed in his passion, actively at play in his mind, and truly unencumbered by his modest office:

Al Gore

On the other hand, here is George W. Bush. He is an empty suit in an empty office, seen here casually bullshitting with Nouri al-Maliki on the phone, obviously fidgeting as his imagined power to wish away an inconvenient truth proves ineffective yet again. It always seems that he is consciously trying to look the part of President, all the while mistaking ceremony for reality:

George W. Bush

Clearly one man is a leader, the other is a farce. History will not be kind to Bush, nor should it be, but that is the least of our worries now. And no, this is not about the election in 2000, it is about the future of America and the fate of the world. We must find a way to move forward, together, and only one person can do it.

So please, Al, run. Run for President of the United States in 2008. And don’t take any shit from anyone when you do. Stand tall. Stand proud. You were right then and you are right now.

On the subject of George W. Bush’s recent speech comparing the Vietnam war with his war in Iraq, and suggesting in vain (yes, both meanings apply here) that leaving too soon was the error in the first just as it would be in the second, Josh Marshall saidbest:

We can debate the ways to fix things. But let’s not deny that Bush’s folly was an unforced error, a foreign policy catastrophe of truly unique proportions in the annals of American history.

This man is a farce and a disgrace. Need (more) proof? He willfully continues to destroy the entire country of Iraq, and both morally and financially bankrupts his own in the process, all in an embarrassingly futile attempt to deny these simple truths: the war is lost, his policies have backfired in the worst possible way, and perhaps more importantly to him, his legacy is now in shambles.

On the growing need for the right to shift attention and accountability from the Iraq debacle in particular and the George W. Bush presidency in general, Josh Marshall saidbest:

As the war for faux-democracy looks more and more like a debacle, the lure of authoritarianism at home becomes greater and greater for the war’s dead-end defenders. And as redeployment looks more and more likely, they have to keep raising the stakes on the consequences of doing so. Apparently our whole future, our honor, destiny, certainly our safety from the Iraqi insurgents who will restart the insurgency in the US — all of this is in the balance. The stakes must keep rising because that is, paradoxically, the only way for them to avoid taking responsibility for their failures. And cowardice that militant, in a faction within the body politic, is dangerous for the rest of us.

We clearly desperately need to come up with a response to this.

On the subject of the Democratic CNN/YouTube debate and the fact that Republicans are making a hasty retreat from doing one of their own, Josh Marshall saidbest:

I’m not sure whether the resistance is rooted is the profound feebleness of the current GOP field or the fact that the current Bush Republican party is so beholden to a worldview based on denial and suppression of evidence that exposure to unpredictable questions presents too great a danger. But if they can’t face Youtube how can they defeat the terrorists?

Oh the irony, Papa Bear Bill O’Reilly said the very same thing on his program tonight.

Brilliant. Well played, Josh.

So says Ask a Ninja in this hysterical, and incredibly important, riff on net neutrality. Don’t miss it:

Though admittedly late to the game on this one, I am now convinced that net neutrality is without a doubt the single most pressing issue of the moment. And yes, I believe it is even more fundamental than stopping the War in Iraq. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but please allow me to explain…

Duncan Black, as he so often does, perfectly frames the problem (my emphasis in bold):

I’d say that roughly speaking there are 4 kinds of people in this country when it comes to politics and current events (of course these are broad brush categories). There are the people who really don’t pay any attention at all, and whose only real knowledge comes from passive absorption of random things that they happen to hear. There are the people who get all of their information from Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative media. There are the people who imagine that they’re paying attention, and think that by listening to NPR and reading gullible idiots like Joe Klein they’re “very informed.” And then there are the readers of this blog who know what’s really going on (joke).

It’s the third category of people I worry most about how to reach. They’re the ones who absorb and regurgitate Maureen Dowd’s latest bon mot, or the latest bit of Washington “conventional wisdom,” and think they’re really on top of things. They aren’t necessarily stupid people, they just haven’t come to terms with the fact that the mainstream media is something to be treated with great skepticism.

Need proof? Compare the New York Times’ “Gonzales Denies Improper Pressure on Ashcroft” headline with Josh Marshall’s “Gonzales to Schumer: Blow Me” version. Watch the video at the end of Josh’s post, then read the NYT article. Not convinced? See this New York Times’ jewel “President Links Qaeda of Iraq to Qaeda of 9/11″ versus Dan Froomkin’s Bush Can’t Make the Sale. In both cases the NYT version is complete and utter bullshit, but you would never think so if you didn’t know where else to look.

Like it or not, America is still governed by the court of public opinion, and until very recently the ability to shape this narrative rested solely in the hands of the rich and powerful. We have only begun to challenge the status quo and the media machine that enforces it, but the difference is clear: they seek power, we seek the truth. We can only gain power by exposing more people to the truth, which is why Duncan’s third category is so critical to our cause.

The mass media triumvirate of television, newspapers, and magazines is dying, and what will replace it is a hybrid of all three and more, something that can only exist on the internet. In that regard, we are clearly a threat: we understand this brave new world better than they can, both today or tomorrow. By necessity, their game plan is to ignore, omit, and silence any viewpoint that does not match its own, but that plan works only when there is no other compelling venue in the market.

Net neutrality ensures that all of us have a voice in our nation’s destiny, and creates a marketplace where the best idea, and best expression of it, wins. It creates a productive discussion, a natural balance, a healthy tension. It yields a place where honesty and integrity matter, where lies have consequences, where injustices can be made right.

We can even end a corrupt and craven presidency, and along with it the war in Iraq, but before we project our voice we must first protect it. Come to think of it, they’re one in the same.

More soon.

Josh Marshall, as usual, nails it:

Setting aside whether Scooter Libby should spend 0 days in jail for what most people spend from 1 to 3 years in jail, the key here is that it’s inappropriate for the president to pardon or commute a sentence in a case in which he (i.e., the president) is a party to the same underlying crime. Because it amounts to obstruction of justice.

Is that really so hard to understand? Is there anything he can say to counter it?