Archive for the ‘Politics’ Tag

Judge Him by His Laws

People who complain that Barack Obama lacks experience must be unaware of his legislative achievements. One reason these accomplishments are unfamiliar is that the media have not devoted enough attention to Obama’s bills and the effort required to pass them, ignoring impressive, hard evidence of his character and ability.

Since most of Obama’s legislation was enacted in Illinois, most of the evidence is found there — and it has been largely ignored by the media in a kind of Washington snobbery that assumes state legislatures are not to be taken seriously. (Another factor is reporters’ fascination with the horse race at the expense of substance that they assume is boring, a fascination that despite being ridiculed for years continues to dominate political journalism.)

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Kerry: Limbaugh’s ‘tampering’ gave Clinton Indiana victory


After Hillary Clinton’s squeaker victory in Indiana Tuesday night, opponent Barack Obama’s advisers and surrogates are saying the only reason she won at all is because of meddling by conservative Hoosiers following the orders of talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

“If it hadn’t been for Republicans taking Democratic ballots, he likely would have won in Indiana,” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said Wednesday on a conference call hosted by the Obama campaign. “Rush Limbaugh was tampering with the primary and the GOP has clearly declared they want Clinton as a candidate.”

Kerry’s statements regarding Limbaugh’s meddling follow several e-mails from Obama’s campaign to journalists and supporters pointing to the effects of his “Operation Chaos.” The right-wing host began encouraging listeners to vote for Clinton, with the goal of at least prolonging the Democratic primary campaign and perhaps making her the nominee.

David Axelrod, Obama’s top strategist, also attributed Clinton’s two point lead in Indiana to Limbaugh’s scheme, speaking to reporters Tuesday night , according to the Wall Street Journal.

“If we come up short, they ought to call a press conference tomorrow and thank Rush Limbaugh for the victory,” he said. “Because there’s no doubt if they do win it’ll be by a margin so narrow that the Limbaugh project will have given them the margin.”

Indiana exit polls showed that four in ten Democrats who said they would vote for McCain over Clinton in a general election nonetheless voted for Clinton on Tuesday; however, just twelve percent who would vote for McCain over Obama voted for the Illinois senator.

Citing this figure, the Obama campaign sent an e-mail to reporters Tuesday night arguing that 7 percent of the Indiana electorate could be attributed to the “Limbaugh effect” — 41 percent of the 17 percent who said they’d vote for McCain over Clinton but still supported Clinton.

Axelrod also told reporters that Obama would no longer focus solely on primary states during his campaign trips. He said that he’d compete in the six remaining Democratic contests, but added that the campaign would focus on the general election “because likely Republican nominee John McCain had ‘basically run free for some time now because we’ve been consumed with this.’ He added: ‘I don’t think we’re going to spend time solely in primary states.””

“Pressed by reporters whether that meant the campaign would make stops in general election states over the next month, Axelrod said: ‘You could infer that from what I said,'” Timiraos added.

Axelrod wouldn’t say whether he thought Clinton was out of the race.

“The fact that she lost… a large important state by a landslide and she’s struggling to hold in one where she was favored where this whole issue of white working class voters was front and center I think is pretty sobering,” he said.

Gore: It Is ‘Obscene’ That Bush Has Dismissed ‘George Washington’s 200-Plus Year Prohibition On Torture’


On April 9, ABC News reported that in 2002, President Bush’s most senior advisers approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics. Days later, Bush confirmed to ABC he “approved” of the tactics. Since the ABC report, the media have largely ignored the story. Morever, it took 14 days for a reporter to raise the issue in a White House press briefing.

During an interview this morning on NPR, former Vice President Al Gore criticized Bush for approving the techniques, calling it “obscene,” adding that his use of signing statements is “a raw assertion of authority outside the boundaries of the law”:

GORE: Ultimately the guarantor of our freedoms are the people. And these kinds of outrages, a president saying that he has the right turn George Washington’s 200-plus year prohibition against torture and torture anyone he wants with his assistants gathering in the basement of the White House — according to recent revelations — personally reviewing the kinds of torture techniques being used prisoner by prisoner, its obscene.

Highlighting Bush’s “arrogation of authority,” Gore also noted that the Bush administration has “refused to comply with the Supreme Court decision” requiring it to regulate “global warming pollution” under the Clean Air Act.

While Gore called Bush’s abuses of power “outrages,” the media does not seem to be as concerned. However, the House Judiciary Committee provided a bright spot today, voting to subpoena David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, to compel him to testify about the administration’s interrogation programs.


TERRY GROSS: So say John McCain was elected president. What would his options be in terms of dealing with President Bush’s signing statement?

GORE: the reason you’re having trouble with it is that it’s contrary to the American system. In my view, not only would that signing statement not bind the next president, it is not legal as a statement of law where the current president is concerned. It is a raw assertion of authority outside the boundaries of the law.

GROSS: But who would decide if it’s officially legal or illegal? Nobody’s officially thrown it out saying “this is illegal.”

GORE: Well that’s correct, and in our system the ultimate arbiter of what is constitutional, since Marbury versus Madison in the first decades of our republic, has been the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court does not take all cases, and has been often timid where this president’s arrogation of authority to himself is concerned.

But even where they have not been timid, where for example they ruled that the Clean Air Act requires President Bush and his EPA administrator to regulate global warming pollution as pollution under the Clean Air Act. And the executive branch has nonetheless refused to comply with the Supreme Court decision. And ultimately the guarantor of our freedoms are the people.

And these kinds of outrages — a president saying that he has the right to overturn George Washington’s 200-plus year prohibition against torture and torture anyone he wants, with his assistants gathered in the basement of the White House, according to recent revelations, personally reviewing the kinds of torture techniques being used prisoner by prisoner — it’s obscene!

FBI Targets Internet Archive With Secret ‘National Security Letter’, Loses


The Internet Archive, a project to create a digital library of the web for posterity, successfully fought a secret government Patriot Act order for records about one of its patrons and won the right to make the order public, civil liberties groups announced Wednesday morning.

On November 26, 2007, the FBI served a controversial National Security Letter (.pdf) on the Internet Archive‘s founder Brewster Kahle, asking for records about one of the library’s registered users, asking for the user’s name, address and activity on the site.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Archive’s lawyers, fought the NSL, challenging its constitutionality in a December 14 complaint (.pdf) to a federal court in San Francisco. The FBI agreed on April 21 to withdraw the letter and unseal the court case, making some of the documents available to the public.

The Patriot Act greatly expanded the reach of NSLs, which are subpoenas for documents such as billing records and telephone records that the FBI can issue in terrorism investigations without a judge’s approval. Nearly all NSLs come with gag orders forbidding the recipient from ever speaking of the subpoena, except to a lawyer.

Brewster Kahle called the gag order “horrendous,” saying he couldn’t talk about the case with his board members, wife or staff, but said that his stand was part of a time-honored tradition of librarians protecting the rights of their patrons.

“This is an unqualified success that will help other recipients understand that you can push back on these,” Kahle said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.

Though FBI guidelines on using NSLs warned of overusing them, two Congressionally ordered audits revealed that the FBI had issued hundreds of illegal requests for student health records, telephone records and credit reports. The reports also found that the FBI had issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs since 2001, but failed to track their use. In a letter to Congress last week, the FBI admitted it can only estimate how many NSLs it has issued.

The Internet Archive’s case is only the third known court challenge to an NSL, all of which ended with the FBI rescinding the NSL, according to the ACLU’s Melissa Goodman.

“That makes you wonder about the the hundreds of thousands of NSLs that haven’t been challenged,” Goodman said, suggesting that the FBI had collected sensitive information on innocent Americans.

The EFF, joined by the ACLU, initially used the letter to challenge the constitutionality of NSLs generally, saying the gag order violates the First Amendment. They also argued that the specific NSL used was illegal since the Internet Archive is a library, not a communications provider.

The settlement with the government (.pdf) puts an end to that challenge and still keeps Kahle and his lawyers from discussing — even in the most general terms — what the FBI was after and what public information the Internet Archive turned over to the FBI. For instance, the lawyers declined to say what kind of information the target was looking at or uploading — such as animal rights information or Muslim literature.

The ACLU has successfully quashed two other NSLs, including one request to a library system asking for web surfing histories of patrons and another to a small New York hosting provider asking for data about a website it hosted. The Internet Archive case is only the second time the courts allowed the recipient of a Patriot Act National Security Letter to reveal his or her identity.

In the case of a NSL sent to a small ISP in New York, a judge ruled that the entire NSL statute is unconstitutional because of the gag order, but that ruling is under appeal. Though the FBI withdrew the request for information on one of the websites the ISP hosted, the target of that letter is still bound by a gag order, though he did write an op-ed for the Washington Post about the experience.

Though Kahle wouldn’t say what the feds were after, he stressed that the Internet Archive stores very little non-public information — only an unverified email address for those who choose to provide it — and does not log IP addresses.

Hillary is 404

Senator to ISPs: “Think twice” about ‘Net neutrality… or else


Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) stepped in front of a group of tech executives in Washington this morning to deliver a caffeinated and surprisingly sharp defense of network neutrality. Pledging to use “every ounce of my energy to protect network neutrality,” Wyden had a message for ISPs who might be pondering new charges for various forms of access: “think twice.” If ISPs start down that road, they might soon find that they lose key legal protections including “safe harbors” and tax freedom.

Wyden delivered his ultimatum at a Computer & Communications Industry Association conference in DC, where he cast the entire network neutrality debate in terms of a legislative compromise. Years ago, Congress began protecting ISPs from the twin threats of regulation and taxation; in return, ISPs were expected to deliver an unimpeded connection to the Internet. A move away from a neutral ‘Net would undermine the “very philosophical underpinnings of what we fought for for the last 15 years,” according to Wyden. If that happens, he sees no reason for Congress to continue sheltering ISPs.

Ron Wyden

The two specific pieces of legislation encompassed by this threat are the Communications Decency Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act. While much of the CDA was tossed out by a federal judge on the grounds that it unconstitutionally limited free speech, section 230 of the act survived. 230 provided a safe harbor to ISPs and web sites, exempting them from liability for content posted to or through them, a provision that benefits Ars and every other website that allows user-generated content and comments. The law saved ISPs “vast sums,” according to Wyden.

The Internet Tax Freedom Act has also kept most taxes from being applied to Internet connections, even though states have repeatedly shown interest in taxing these links.

In return for helping out ISPs, what did Congress get in return? “Monopolies,” according to Wyden, or, in other cases, duopolies where one or two main gatekeepers controlled access to the ‘Net for most US citizens. Wyden’s rhetoric grew downright militant as he contemplated the various ways that these ISPs might start hitting consumers with fees. “The sword cuts both ways,” he said, implying that the ISPs might find themselves having to collect more taxes and pay for more litigation if they continue to agitate Congress by pondering or implementing non-neutral fees.

Part of the reason that the issue gets so much traction is because network neutrality has become one of those wonky crossover issues that stirs up passions even among normal ‘Net users. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), speaking at the same event, issued a reminder of how much popular traction the idea has gained: when she goes into high school classrooms, the kids “ask me about ‘Net neutrality,” she said.

With Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) holding an important network neutrality hearing this morning in the House, Eshoo expressed her confidence that Markey’s bill would be taken up by Congress but that it would face a serious challenge on the House floor. Should it fail there, “I think the Capitol would fall down around members’ ears if the opposition were successful,” she said.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) agreed with Eshoo and noted that the two sides are separated by what now seems to be “almost a religious difference.” Doyle chalks up some of the antagonism to a generational divide, as the only people of his generation who grew up using the Internet were the people who invented it. ‘Net neutrality isn’t a “wild plan to destroy the Internet,” Doyle continued, arguing that a younger generation brought up using the Internet understands exactly what’s at stake.

Or, as FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein put it later in the day, “Anyone who messes with the open Internet does so at their peril.”

Swords, peril, wild plans, and a crumbling Capitol; all we need are wild animals in the streets and possibly a rider on a pale horse for the network neutrality debate to officially complete its ascendancy from a network management issue to a millenarian apocalyptic battle cry. Despite the rhetoric on this issue, it looks unlikely that Congress will actually take any action this year.

McGovern, former Clinton backer, urges her to drop out


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Former Sen. George McGovern, an early supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton, urged her to drop out of the Democratic presidential race and endorsed her rival, Barack Obama.

After watching the returns from the North Carolina and Indiana primaries Tuesday night, McGovern said Wednesday it’s virtually impossible for Clinton to win the nomination. The 1972 Democratic presidential nominee said he had a call in to former President Clinton to tell him of the decision, adding that he remains close friends with the Clintons.
“I will hold them in affection and admiration all of my days,” he said of the Clintons.

McGovern’s announcement comes a day before Clinton was scheduled to travel to South Dakota to campaign. The state holds its primary June 3 with 15 pledged delegates at stake.

McGovern said he had no regrets about endorsing Hillary Clinton months ago, even before the Iowa caucuses.

“She has run a valiant campaign. And she will remain an influential voice in the American future,” he said.

But Obama has won the nomination “by any practical test” and is very close to a majority of the pledged delegates, said McGovern, who is 85. Obama moved within 200 delegates of clinching the nomination with his split decision on Tuesday of a win in North Carolina and a narrow loss in Indiana.

It’s time to unite the Democratic Party, he said.

“Hillary, of course, will make the decision as to if and when she ends her campaign. But I hope that she reaches that decision soon so that we can concentrate on a unified party capable of winning the White House next November,” he said.

McGovern is not a superdelegate, one of the prominent Democrats who has a vote at the national convention.

Superdelegate suggests Clinton camp tried to ‘buy’ her vote

While voters in Indiana and North Carolina cast their votes, several Hoosier and Tar Heel superdelegates still sitting on the fence shared personal stories with RAW STORY about the pressures and issues that will help them finally decide: Hillary or Barack.

North Carolina superdelegate Dr. Jeannette Council, currently a member of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, said her decision will be based on the voters in her district as well as her own conscience.

“I’ve been in politics for 30 years and I’ve paid my own way to the convention since ‘72,” Council said. “I’ll announce my decision tomorrow because I don’t want to influence anyone’s vote. The ‘Wright’ thing has probably cost Obama a few points here though I think he’ll win. What is most important to me is education, health care, and inspiring the kids and that’s what Obama has done. All of my children are for him.”

Dr. Council said that she had been contacted numerous times by both campaigns, though she said the Clinton campaign has been more aggressive. She seemed upset about calls from the campaign.

“They asked me what it would take to get my vote and I said, ‘I don’t think I heard you right,'” Dr. Council told RAW STORY Tuesday. “‘I know I didn’t hear you imply that my vote was for sale.’ ‘Oh no,’ [they said], ‘that wasn’t what I intended to say at all.’ … ‘Then what the hell do you mean?'”

Sounding frustrated by the bitterness of the campaign, Dr. Council said she felt that Obama had been unfairly treated by the press and Senator Clinton’s campaign. She has not participated in any presidential candidate events or met with the candidates swarming around her state for the last four weeks.

Economy is focus of second superdelegate

Another North Carolina superdelegate, David Parker, says he spends time with both candidates and they constantly ask for his vote, but he’s holding out.

“Hillary Clinton told me last night that the ‘elected’ delegates could switch their vote at the convention and I told her that she was talking like a lawyer,” Parker said Tuesday. “Sure, they can change, but the chances are zero that they’re going to change – at least, not on the first ballot.”

Asked if Clinton’s thinking gave him a good idea whether she was planning to stay in the race until the convention, Parker said, “Probably.”

“She’s come up in the polls and the timing has been bad for Obama with the Rev. Wright revelations, but I still think it’s a good thing because he needs to be bloodied up before he goes into the general election,” he added.

Parker also said that he wouldn’t vote until it became clear there was a winner and he wasn’t concerned if the battle went all the way to the Democratic Convention in Denver this August.

“What matters most to me is how the candidates respond to the economy. Everything points to a troubling fall. Whichever candidate can convince the voters they can come up with quick results will win the election,” said Parker.

Asked if he’d be voting for Hillary Clinton because of her gas tax roll-back, Parked laughed and then turned serious.

“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “Remember, there are a lot of guys like me down here – over-educated white males trying to purge the spot of generations of racial inequality – and that will definitely play a part in my decision.”

Three Indiana superdelegates still undecided

In the Hoosier state, only three superdelegates remain uncommitted. One is Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN), whose endorsement is highly coveted by both camps.

His First District includes the far northwest corner of that state, which borders the south side of Chicago. The area is largely urban and one of the strongest African-Americans voting blocks in Indiana.

Jacob Ritvo, Communications Director for Congressman Visclosky, told RAW STORY: “The most important issues to determine who will get his superdelegate vote; jobs, jobs, jobs, the economy, the war in Iraq, gas prices, and access to healthcare.”

Congressman Visclosky has received lots of mail urging him to support Obama or Clinton and he’s been wooed and pursued by both, Ritvo said.

“The Congressman doesn’t have any self-imposed timetable,” Ritvo said. “He’ll wait until after our primary and may choose then…or not until this summer.”

Another uncommmitted delegate, first-term Congressman Joe Donnelly from Indiana’s Second District told the Kokomo Tribune, “I’ll vote for the candidate who can do the most to improve health care for Americans and help working families.”

Like most uncommitted superdelegates still hanging out on the sidelines, Donnelly said he didn’t want his decision to influence any voters.

Grand Theft . . . Angel?


Turn on the TV and you have every chance of seeing some pundit attacking Grand Theft Auto IV. With the game being released a week ago, the usual moral crusaders are up in arms about the bad values it teaches and the terrible things players are “encouraged” to do in the game.

I will never hold GTA up as a franchise steeped in morality, because it’s not. The game portrays, just like its tagline, how “good things happen to bad people.” You spend your time working for scumbags and criminals, doing terrible things for money. It’s NOT a game that celebrates the good side of life — nor does it have to.

That said, however, playing Grand Theft Auto IV has been an interesting experience for me. Since I made a career out of writing about games, I’ve been far more aware of GTA‘s so-called depravity, and have spent a lot of time in Liberty City thinking about what developer Rockstar is trying to say, breaking down some of the seedier aspects of the game and deciphering what the player is expected to feel as he plays.

I think of the game’s less savory features — murder, female degradation, drunk driving — and I have to wonder, does indulging in these elements of GTA IV really say a lot about the game, or the player? Just how much sin does Rockstar actively encourage, and how often does it actually dissuade you from being a bad boy?

Hit the jump to find out how Grand Theft Auto IV can be just as much Angel as Devil.

Nobody’s saying there isn’t a lot of murder in the game. Killing isn’t a mere choice — it’s a necessity for most of the in-game missions. If you want to progress in the game, you’re going to get blood on your hands. That said, however, senseless killing isn’t all that encouraged. Gone are the days where you could pick up a “rampage” token and mow down innocent civilians. The people you have to kill are mostly people who deserve it — lowlifes and drug pushers and fellow killers. That’s not saying it makes murder better, but Niko is not a character intended to wipe out half the population of Liberty City on a whim.

Rockstar was incredibly clever with the character of Niko, creating a likable and sympathetic individual who, to anybody mindful of storytelling and the artistic side of games, should not be going on a murderous rampage. It’s simply out-of-character for Niko to become a mass murderer, and as such, killing sprees do not feel right. Previous characters were far more two-dimensional, and as such it was easier to disassociate and go out for a rampage. With Niko, if you care enough about the character, you shouldn’t want to kill everyone in sight.

Even if you do want to drop out of character and turn psychopath, however, Rockstar has implemented far more forceful ways of discouraging you. For one, the Liberty City Police Department is everywhere. It can actually get pretty annoying, as the streets are crawling with cop cars, and if you accidentally hit the buggers, you’ll get chased down. The LCPD is a constant threatening presence in Grand Theft Auto IV, roaming the streets, sounding off warning sirens at you if they see you speeding or running a red light. They consistently remind you that you are being watched, and that if you cross the line, they will be there.

And they will — you cannot rampage unchecked for long in Liberty City anymore. Even killing one person can alert the cops, and if you make a stand, that Wanted Level will climb with worrying speed. It’s not long before Liberty City’s N.O.O.S.E task force is dispatched, and you’ll be cut down in seconds. Put simply — Liberty City will fight you if you try to fight Liberty City.

One interesting thing to note is that even among the enemies you do have to kill, you don’t always have to finish them off definitively. Take a look next time you drop someone who isn’t scripted to die. You will often see them breathing, or writhing. Some of them even get back up and start limping away, clutching their wounds. If you kill only the people who absolutely, positively have to die to advance the story, you’ll find that GTA IV‘s death toll is minimal, at least no greater than any other third person action game.

Niko Bellic is not proud of his actions, or standing in life. Through his in-game conversations with cousin Roman, you will hear his commentary on the state of things in Liberty City. He constantly complains about his lot, having to kill for money, and jacking cars. I admit this is at odds with the sometimes casual way in which he accepts blood money, but it’s certainly more than most games throw into their exposition. As Niko takes his girlfriend out for a date, he uncomfortably diverts the conversation away from his job, trying not to tell her he’s a hired gun. You actually get to experience that kind of horrible double-life situation, and think about how Niko must feel, knowing that a girl who likes him is looking into the eyes of a killer.

On the subject of girls, the degradation of women is a large bone of contention for many. Again, I cannot claim it isn’t there — there are indeed strip clubs where you can go and ogle digital breasts, but then, there are strip clubs in real life, so it’s not like Rockstar invented the idea. That’s not what this is about, however — this is about how Rockstar might be discouraging you from objectifying women, and that’s through dating.

Yes, as with real-life dating for most males, the objective in GTA is to get Niko some pussy. You take a woman out, work out what she likes, and spend time with her, with the goal of getting laid in mind. However, once again, Rockstar crafted some likable characters out of Niko’s dating pool. You get taught that these women have tastes and personalities. It’s not exactly deep, but it’s deeper than you’d expect, and if you think the dating is over when you’ve finally gotten what you were after — think again.

You end up not just screwing these people, but getting into a relationship with them. It’s like you are intended to feel guilty if you just ditch them after taking what you came for. I scored with Michelle long before I stopped taking her out (for reasons beyond my control). If I forgot her for a while, she called me and I felt bad. Unless you as a person enjoy being an asshole, you’ll realize that these women are not there as objects, but as friendships that need to be maintained. It all goes towards humanizing a game that one could so easily see as nothing but monstrous.

Speaking of monstrous, the infamous argument that GTA allows you to hire a prostitute, kill her and take back your money has also been colored with dissuasion from the developers. As is tradition, I spent my time looking for a prostitute to hire (don’t judge me!). First off, it’s pretty hard to even find them, but once you have done so, you can begin the ghastly business at hand — and the best thing is that Rockstar has actually made it ghastly!

As you pick up the prostitute and find somewhere quiet to go, Niko will comment about how pathetic he is, and how desperate he has to be to resort to such a low act. The increased gratuity of the act itself (she gets on top of Niko and mimes wriggling around on his penis) does little to make the act more erotic or glamorous — in fact, it only serves to make the whole sequence feel uncomfortable and nasty. The woman performs the act mostly in silence while Niko tries — and fails — to enjoy it. When it’s all over and she leaves the car, Niko will comment again about how horrible it was, and you are left feeling anything but horny. It’s cold and it’s sleazy, and you feel like a shithead for doing it.

Hell, when I ran the prostitute over to see if the money appeared, it didn’t. While I can’t speak for everyone, I have to say that no monetary reward was yielded to me when I killed the woman.

That Rockstar took one of its most controversial aspects and turned it into an actual piece of effective social commentary, doing nothing but mocking the use of prostitutes, is commendable in my book. Again, if you feel great after using them in GTA IV, it speaks of the player, not of the game itself.

Reckless driving is also shown as a less-than-glamorous activity. Thanks to Rockstar’s frustratingly loose handling of the cars, speeding and mowing everyone down is far less satisfying. The most important aspect though, is the drunk driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and members of the police force like to think that drunk driving has been turned into a “joke” by Rockstar, and I will concede that at least walking around drunk, falling over objects in Euphoria Engine-powered stupidity, is pretty hilarious. Trying to operate a car, however, is another matter entirely.

It is simply not fun to drunk drive in GTA IV. It’s infuriating and disorienting, and the police are on your ass in an instant. This game does not make drunk driving look cool or enjoyable at all. As soon as you get behind the wheel after Niko’s been to the bar, you’re in for nothing but trouble and pain.

I said at the beginning of this article that Grand Theft Auto IV is not a pillar of morality, and it isn’t. It is violent and it has plenty of sexual content, if you consider sex immoral. However, GTA IV does not glamorize or applaud violence even half as much as people think it does. You do not kill without consequence, and Niko is not made to appear awesome for his murders. Death is not glorified, and you are not expected to feel like a God for the amount of death you dish out. Niko Bellic is not John McClane, and that’s not what he’s there for.

Okay, so it’s not Grand Theft Angel by a long shot. But it’s not The Devil, either. Nowhere near.

Beautiful Photos of Anonymous at Hollywood & Courthouse


While a worldwide Anonymous protest is scheduled for Saturday, May 10, a small group of hardcore Anonymous protestors took to the streets Monday both in Hollywood at the Church of Scientology Office of Special Affairs and then Downtown at the United States District Court, Roybal Federal Building. Downtown, Anonymous lawyer Graham Berry was the subject to a deposition by Scientology lawyers. According to Anonymous members via e-mail, Graham Berry successfully represented Anonymous member Sean Carasov (read his story here), who was subject to a false police report (and subsequent charge) issued by the Church for Criminal Threats.

Barack Obama’s North Carolina victory speech

Russert: Clinton cancels morning show appearances (UPDATED)


Tim Russert, a colleague reports, just said that Hillary Clinton canceled her scheduled appearances on the morning shows tomorrow.

It’s a sign of weakness she can ill afford at a moment when questions about whether she can continue are mounting.

UPDATE:Clinton spokesman Phil Singer denies Russert’s claim: “She was never booked on am shows. This item is wrong. Russert got it wrong.”

Paul Campaign Never Ended, Spokesman Says


As the Democratic presidential candidates held pre-primary rallies yesterday in Indiana and North Carolina, and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain spoke to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, another major-party presidential candidate continued his own quest for nomination, headlining a “Freedom Rally” on a Fort Wayne, Ind., university campus.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) told supporters in early March, through a Web video, that he knew he was no longer in the running for the presidency, and aides said his campaign would be “winding down.” But it turns out Paul never stopped running for president.

“He put out a video in which he said victory in the conventional sense was not available to us, but there was still much the campaign could try to accomplish,” Ron Paul 2008 spokesman Jesse Benton said yesterday. “People in the press reported that as him dropping out when he was not dropping out.”

Paul’s campaign has shrunk from a high of more than 150 staffers before Super Tuesday on Feb. 5 to around 15, according to Benton, and his record-breaking Internet fundraising operation has turned off its online ticker. But with more than $4 million in cash on hand, his campaign says there is no good reason to stop.

He is still racking up votes, for one thing, having garnered 16 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania’s Republican primary on April 22. And his supporters are still active at the grass-roots level: GOP officials abruptly canceled the Nevada state convention when it became clear that Paul’s backers outnumbered those for McCain and stood ready to take control of the delegate process.

Paul’s campaign hopes to turn such support into upward of 50 delegates for the party’s national convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul in September, where he is gunning for a speaking slot.

There’s also the matter of Paul’s book. “The Revolution: A Manifesto” hit stores on April 30. His campaign is prohibited from selling it, but a continued presence on the speaking circuit is sure to stoke sales. (The book debuted at No. 1 on‘s “Hot New Releases in Books.”)

The former Libertarian Party nominee has “no plans and no intentions” to switch to any other party when the time comes to end his bid, Benton said.

“If it was just for the presidency, it would have ended a long time ago,” says supporter Tom Martin, 50, a database administrator from State College, Pa. “The idea was to reinvigorate the Republican Party back to its principles and, more than that, to reinvigorate the American people back to its principles.”

MSNBC’s Russert: ‘We Now Know Who the Nominee Will Be’

Bolton: Striking Iran ‘Is Really The Most Prudent Thing To Do


Yesterday morning, Fox News interviewed former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton to discuss whether America is close to striking Iranian targets, as new reports indicate the Bush administration is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike.” Bolton said that while there are “obviously risks associated” with a strike on Iran, the risks of not doing something are “far higher” at this point.

Fox anchor Jaime Colby asserted, “The Brits think we overestimate the threat of Iran in this particular case. Are they right or wrong?” Bolton — who has previously claimed that the “mullahs in Iran” want a Democratic president in 2008 — responded:

I think they’re dead wrong on this. I think this is a case where the use of military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we’re not going to tolerate this is really the most prudent thing to do. Then the ball would be in Iran’s court to draw the appropriate lesson to stop harming our troops.

Fox anchor Colby reacted to Bolton’s war cries by concluding — without sarcasm — “That’s a good message to end on. Thank you.” Watch it:

Bolton has asserted that preventive war against Iraq “did work” and “achieved our strategic objective.” Moreover, he has openly stated that the U.S. should have no interest in the well-being of Iraqis.

Bolton’s unquenchable appetite for a military conflict with Iran is easy to understand, given that he cares so little about the disastrous consequences that follow from war.