The Sideshow

Archive for February 2004

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Sunday, 29 February 2004

In Saturday's Washington Post

Yes, I broke down and looked at it. I found one article worth noting:

Ken Light never expected that one of his own photographs would become the focus of the course on photojournalism, ethics, and the Internet that he teaches - until right-wingers photoshopped his picture of John F. Kerry speaking in 1971.

I was also fascinated by a letter from Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, in response to an article I had not seen by Phyllis Chesler and Donna M. Hughes in which they claimed that feminists have been blind to Islamist extremists' attitude toward women. Obviously, Burk isn't going to agree with this blatant disregard of history. (I think I wrote my first article expressing alarm about Islamist misogyny back in, oh, 1976.) You expect those idiots in the RNC to try to re-write history like this, but Phyllis Chesler?

It seems to me that I have a vague memory of seeing another article in the recent past by Phyllis Chesler that seemed to be saying something similarly at odds with reality, but I must have decided that either I was misinterpreting what she was saying or it's got to be a different Phyllis Chesler. I admit, I haven't been keeping track. Can someone tell me when Chesler drank the Kool-Aid? What else could explain this?

It is ironic that Chesler and Hughes want feminists to condemn Islamic fundamentalism but embrace Christian fundamentalists (who are also a threat to the global progress of women). The fact that a few faith-based groups work against sex trafficking does not buy them a pass for also working against reproductive freedom, against family planning in countries with AIDS epidemics, against economic independence for women, against equal educational opportunities, and against equal participation in the leadership of society's institutions.
It's considerably worse than merely ironic. Christianist extremism is every bit as ugly as the Islamist variety, and its ascendant influence on American policy threatens both American society and international peace and progress. It's interesting that these two groups seem to be locked into a duet in which they simultaneously work together to promote repression while using each other as bogeymen to intensify global fear, hatred, and the drumbeat of war.
08:22 GMT


Links from the front page of

Cheney Duck Hunting Trip Wasn't the First Time Scalia Scooped up Favors Prior to Deciding a Case refers to a piece in The Boston Globe that says: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the guest of a Kansas law school two years ago and went pheasant hunting on a trip arranged by the school's dean, all within weeks of hearing two cases in which the dean was a lead attorney.

"Accusation that US is Funding Haitian Rebels Is Probably True After all - Powell Calls for Aristide to Leave": It appears that the Haitian crisis will ultimately be proven to be yet another CIA- engineered coup aimed at seizing full control over the nation's assets (resort beaches, cheap labor, proximity to Cuba as Bush gears up for an invasion, should he, God forbid, be re-selected). Aristide, widely demonized in the corporate media, had actually been locking horns with corporate interests in recent years, notably over the failure of US corporations to pay Haitian workers the minimum wage the Aristide government had established. Now Colin Powell is suggesting Aristide just step down and make it easy for the Bush and the Military-Industrial Complex. For more on history of US/CIA in Haiti see [Operation Restore Democracy] and [Washington Times story].

Philip Bowring says in the IHT, America's dangerous deficit: Meanwhile confidence in U.S. political will to sustain a system based on a sound dollar and free trade principles may be eroding. The persistence of unemployment despite economic growth, the emergence of outsourcing as an issue and the impact of John Edwards' job-focused campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination suggest there are doubts in America about a system which has promoted U.S. consumption but raised debt levels to unprecedented levels and, arguably, failed to deliver jobs.

And, At last - Photographic Evidence of Bush's Service in Alabama!
00:36 GMT

Election fraud?

The Smirking Chimp has posted an article from the Columbus Free Press on Diebold, electronic voting and the vast right-wing conspiracy by senior editor Bob Fitrakis, summing up what we know so far about the suspicious activities associated with voting machines.

Wherever Diebold and ES&S go, irregularities and historic Republican upsets follow. Alastair Thompson, writing for of New Zealand, explored whether or not the 2002 U.S. mid-term elections were "fixed by electronic voting machines supplied by Republican-affiliated companies." The scoop investigation concluded that: "The state where the biggest upset occurred, Georgia, is also the state that ran its election with the most electronic voting machines." Those machines were supplied by Diebold.
Former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell writes that one of the favorite tactics of the CIA during the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s was to control countries by manipulating the election process. "CIA apologists leap up and say, 'Well, most of these things are not so bloody.' And that's true. You're giving politicians some money so he'll throw his party in this direction or that one, or make false speeches on your behalf, or something like that. It may be non-violent, but it's still illegal intervention in other country's affairs, raising the question of whether or not we're going to have a world in which laws, rules of behavior are respected," Stockwell wrote. Documents illustrate that the Reagan and Bush administration supported computer manipulation in both Noriega's rise to power in Panama and in Marcos' attempt to retain power in the Philippines. Many of the Reagan administration's staunchest supporters were members of the Council on National Policy.
There are simply too many good reasons not to trust these systems. Don't forget to write to your legislators and voice your objections to paperless machines. Send it by fax - e-mail doesn't impress them, and - on The Hill, at least - they don't seem to be seeing their ordinary snail-mail at all these days.

On another front, Kurt Nimmo wonders whether Bush/Rove will engineer another October Surprise. Given their history and willingness to do anything to win elections, I'm getting the feeling this is just about a dead cert.
00:01 GMT

Saturday, 28 February 2004

A cry for help?

from Bartcop

When the kid is acting-out and throwing tantrums, it's time to send him to the Quiet Room.

Bush Five-Year Budget Plan Would Slash Veterans and Family Nutrition Programs, Among Others, To Pay For Tax Cuts.

Feeling a draft? Gee, just when my nephews are both about to turn 18, too.

I Got Your Vietnam Syndrome for You, Right Here says Jim Henley, discussing what it really means to privatize military functions.

Via the Smirking Chimp, Todd Gitlin: 'Bush gets fundamental' - a look at Bush's attempt to make the culture wars work for his campaign.

And Walter Cronkite wrote a good piece about the issues raised by the Foolish Marriage Amendment: Besides wishing to criminalize individual behavior, the more radical members of the Christian right would like their proposed federal law to dictate what individual churches could do in regard to recognizing or performing same-sex marriages. This is another abomination. Shouldn't that decision be made by the individual church or denomination? What possible excuse is there for government intervention in this decision except an unreasonable, unchristian intolerance for freedom of worship?

I want legislators who fact-check the bastards. Go, MB!
15:15 GMT

Friday, 27 February 2004

American studies

Drug War Rant doesn't exactly congratulate the Drug Czar on having found another neat way to fake surveys that make current War On Some Drugs policies appear to have been working (but not so much that they don't need continued power and funding!). Meanwhile, in Nevada, a new tactic to legalize (not just decriminalize) marijuana for recreational use.

Speaking of faked results, Body and Soul watches Frank Luntz fake it right before our eyes - getting his results from "focus groups" dominated by Bush-supporters. Er, that's not representative, folks! But absolutely do read this article in which Jeanne reveals that she spent several years of her childhood without needed glasses because her mother left her husband after he punched her teeth out. As previously discussed, if you don't have the money for dentistry, you can't get hired or promoted to the better jobs where you deal with the public. The part that made me cry: It wasn't just the money, as important as that was. It was also about what it does to the spirit of a thirty-six-year-old woman to be told that she's too ugly to be seen by anyone.

Busy Busy Busy reduces George Bush to a haiku - without stinting on the now-traditional Shorter Charles Krauthammer and Shorter Tom Friedman.

SHOCK HORROR! Skippy AWOL when he fails to read to the bottom of this page. However, he's back on form when explaining the difference between Christians and Jesus freaks, and why he won't be going to see Mel Gibson's movie.

At Pandagon, Jesse Taylor thinks gay marriage is doing more for the economy than Bush's tax cuts, compares the gay agenda to the "Christian" Right's agenda, and goes to abstinence-only driving school. Ezra explains why the anti-gay marriage amendment is bad policy on Biblical grounds, and finds out which Democratic candidate the press is pushing. Oh, yeah, and we're anti-semites again. (I suppose it would be redundant to point out how morally indefensible George Will and others are for pressing this canard.)

The lighter side: Variation on an old joke. (Well, old in Internet time....)
18:04 GMT

You need to know

No better than kidnappers: Pentagon officials have confirmed that Guantanamo detainees may still be kept in detention, even if they are found not guilty by a military tribunal.

Dave Johnson on Greenspan's idea for cutting Social Security: He is saying that the SAME money is better for the economy when given to rich people than when used to meet the needs of regular citizens.

Lis Riba notes that, "First of all, it definitely appears that has stopped providing direct links to its press briefings in the last two days" - probably a response to the fact that the White House press corps suddenly seems to be doing its job - but she figured out where to find them anyway and provides the transcript to yesterday's attempt by the press to get any indication from the White House that there is anything more than lip-service behind the officially stated position that Bush wants an extension to the 9/11 commission - which would require him to press Hastert to let it happen. Hastert, for his part, has publicly stated that his concerns are purely partisan: that the extension will drive the conclusion of the commission's work too close to the election - with barely a nod to the idea that there is something more important at stake. Lis also concludes a fine series of posts about the gay marriage amendment by pronouncing it DOA thanks to sufficient opposition in the Senate. (Josh Marshall lists eight Republicans who oppose such an amendment, and says the usually-Bush-supportive right-wing Democrat John Breaux (D-LA) is opposing it, as well.)
15:27 GMT

Thursday, 26 February 2004

What really matters

Josh Marshall is analyzing the gay marriage issue from the perspective of Beltway baseball, and thinks Bush's desperate ploy might drive even more people away. "I'm just not sure swing voters will fall for the president's opportunism, " he says, and that the whole thing puts him in mind of Pat Buchanan's advice to Nixon all those years ago:

At the end of this confidential strategy memo laying out various ideas about how to create social unrest over racial issues and confrontations with the judiciary, Buchanan wrote (and you can find this passage on p. 185 of Jonathan Schell's wonderful Time of Illusion): "In conclusion, this is a potential throw of the dice that could bring the media on our heads, and cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half."

And there you have it. Tear the country apart. And once it's broken, our chunk will be bigger.

It's an indefensible strategy, but Marshall isn't so sure that will work.
I have no doubt that a substantial majority of the population is against allowing marriage rights for gays. But opposing gay marriage isn't the same as wanting to tear the country apart by trying to put this into the constitution -- where I think even many opponents of gay marriage don't think it belongs.
No matter how queasy the idea of gay marriage may make people, they don't want to have a culture war over it.

What Marshall doesn't say is that opposition to gay marriage is not exactly a solid block, either. Something called "civil unions" doesn't seem to set off as many alarm bells with people, which means that, in reality, a lot of people who say they oppose gay marriage really don't, they just think they do. Most people vaguely understand that the "civil unions" they support really confer the same legal rights on gay partners that marriage does; they just don't want to call it "marriage".

Once you leave out the terminology of ritual and overtones of religion, folks generally do think that the person you've lived with and loved for a decade or three should have the same next-of-kin status as a spouse, and the same rights of inheritance if one of you dies. Americans generally don't like discrimination and they aren't all that happy with the idea of a major structural change - a Constitutional amendment! - just to sneer at gays.

But Josh isn't unmindful of what's really going on, and points to the photograph of Del and Phyllis accompanying this article by (Reagan's daughter) Patti Davis:

Whenever I hear about the furor over gay marriage, and whenever I step back and look at how tentative and wary we are about love (I'm including myself in that one) I wonder the same thing: What is it about love that frightens us so much? In the personal arena, the easy answer is, I suppose, loss. We wonder if we can survive the deep bruises to our hearts if our partner gets ill, or dies, or leaves. Solitude might be safer. Yet we see people surviving loss so we know it's possible; the heart is a sturdy little muscle.

The harder question is: What is frightening about a same-sex couple standing forth in front of the world and making their commitment to one another public? Is the happiness of others really so threatening? Maybe the bravery is what's threatening. I don't know if I could stand up to society's wrath in the name of love. I hope I could, but as a straight woman, I'll never be tested on that one.

A woman I know sat at the bedside of a man dying from AIDS. He told her he didn't think he'd accomplished much in his young life, and now he was dying. She said, "Did you love?" And he replied, "Oh, yes. I have loved deeply with all my heart."

"Then you accomplished everything," she said.

And she's so right.

Charles Perez at The Fulcrum has taken the issue seriously and has some important advice: has a search function allowing you to get the addresses and phone numbers of everyone in the federal government you might want to contact. Go there now. Tell them all that you want to protect and enhance rights and freedom for all citizens, NOT to restrict them.

(Anyway, Blame It On Jefferson.)
15:19 GMT


George Soros interview at Buzzflash: This is why I consider the forthcoming election so important, because if we endorse the Bush Doctrine, then we have to accept the consequences, i.e. hostility and resentment toward the United States throughout the world. If we reject the Bush Doctrine in November, then we can write it off as a temporary aberration.

AWOL hunt: On Monday, Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau offered a $10,000 reward in his syndicated newspaper comic strip for anyone who "personally witnessed" Bush reporting for drills at Dannelly Air National Guard base in Alabama between May and November 1972.

Howard Stern is back from vacation, and he is not a happy man.

Via Bartcop, Bush Plays Bait-and-Switch With 9/11 Panel.
14:00 GMT

Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Ralph's support base

Uggabugga finds out what right-wing nuts at Free Republic think of Ralph Nader's announcement, and lists comments from several of their posts:

  • Go Nader!! We love you.
  • Run, Ralph, run!
  • God Speed Ralph Nader!
  • Since he's running as an independent, he may gain more of that vote. FREEPERS who live in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, and West Virginia must get him on the ballot.
  • Oh Yeah! GO RALPH GO!
  • YAHOO!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Is it possible that Nader is a closet Republican? LOL
  • What a LOSER ! But, THANKS, Ralphie !!
And thus we see the breadth and depth of Nader's constituency.

And while we're taking a walk on the wild side, David Neiwert has a look at The theocrats' stealth attack on the courts - and on the Constitution itself. A starring villain of the piece: Zell Miller.
21:18 GMT

It's a raid!

Fortunately, Bartcop IRC has two servers on unrelated hosts, but the main BC-chat server disappeared last week. Here's the story:

If FBI agents showed up at your data center bearing a warrant, would you be able to provide them prompt access to customer data? How long would it take?

That's an important question in the wake of an FBI raid of Columbus, Ohio hosting company CIT Hosting last Saturday. Federal agents wound up shutting down the entire operation, seizing all the company's web servers and all customer data as part of its investigation of a hacking incident.
"The FBI executed a search warrant issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio regarding the IRC network that we host," the company said in its statement.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a live chat system that allows users to create private discussion rooms. While IRC has a lengthy history of legitimate use, it is also a medium for discreet communication between hackers. CIT said the FBI was "investigating whether someone hosted on our network hacked and attacked someone else."

"After several hours of attempting to track down, inspect and audit the terabytes of data that we host, the FBI determined that it was more efficient (from their point of view) to remove all of our servers and transport them to the FBI local laboratories for inspection," the statement continued. "The FBI has assured us that as soon as the data has been safely copied and inspected, the equipment will be promptly returned. Unfortunately, the FBI has not been able to tell us when they will be completed with their inspection."

The seizure isn't standard procedure, and there's no way to know exactly what prompted it. CIT's account suggests the FBI may have lost patience with the process. The IRC-focused nature of CIT's business may also have been a factor.

Rumor has it that the cause was an attempted denial of service attack on VISA by another of FooNet's users, and though there have been jokes about the Bartcop channel being the "real" reason for the seizure, I don't think anyone's too worried. (Yet.)
15:01 GMT

Tap tap tap

(Is this thing on? I think the homepages service is back to normal....)

I had my dates confused yesterday, but tonight really is the last night of the Mike Malloy show as i.e.america gets ready to fold up its tent. No one seems to want to hire him, but this guy could beat Limbaugh's ratings in a walk if the sponsors and the owners of radio networks were willing to brave the irate calls from Freepers that crop up whenever they hear anything that doesn't support their crackpot views. (Remember, Ed Schultz and others are proving that there's plenty of market for liberal radio to exploit.)

Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue looks at Republicans Who Support 'Anybody But Bush': "I've had it with George W. Bush's lies and his fat cat buddies," says Sandra Waterson, a banking executive in St. Louis. "He's a disgrace to the Presidency and the Republican Party."

Is it just a rumor? Or is it true that Texas Governor Rick Perry is about to fall victim to the dead girl or a live boy effect?
12:13 GMT

Tuesday, 24 February 2004

Raised by terrorists

Amy Sullivan and Teresa Nielsen Hayden discovered an interesting thing: their parents are terrorists.

Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday.
Why? Well, Amy explains:
Secretary Paige is in a bad mood because a whole heck of a lot of people don't like the No Child Left Behind law (an "accomplishment" Bush/Cheney, Inc. was hoping to push to the fore of the campaign) and he blames the NEA for stirring people up against it. If memory serves, though, the rebellion against the law in Virginia was led by Republicans. And representatives of the administration who are traveling the country holding pep rallies on the law in an attempt to drum up some support are facing hostile crowds in places like Utah, where I kinda doubt the citizens are swayed much by what the folks at NEA headquarters have to say.

The administration is having a hard (nay, impossible) time dealing with the fact that opposition to the No Child Left Behind law might be due to the substance of the policy, not various public relations efforts surrounding it. I'm guessing people are angry because their schools are being declared failures and their kids' teachers are overburdened -- not because of any NEA press release.

Nah, that could never happen - the only reason anyone ever objects to administration policy is because they are Bush-hating Democrats. As Teresa notes:
Democrats have said Bush has failed to fully fund the law, giving the states greater burdens but not the resources to handle them.
Not just Democrats. Teachers and educational organizations of all stripes have been saying the same thing. "No Child Left Behind" supports education like the U.S. has supported the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Ah, but they don't count - they're not in Congress.

(Also, check out Teresa's post about a profile of Ashcroft, which contains the quote, "It makes me sick to think I prayed with him." Yes, I can see why.)
23:29 GMT

Tech troubles

The Sideshow's provider has been upgrading their servers, which has been interfering with FTP for the likes of me. I discovered this when I tried to upload a post early Monday morning. I tried again in the afternoon. Those are the posts below. Later items are here. If you see this, I guess they got it fixed.
20:08 GMT

Monday, 23 February 2004

Honor & Dignity

Greg Greene applies the laugh test to a statement from the White House:

The president has always said it's important to treat all people with dignity and respect. But this is an issue of principle. This is an issue that he feels very strongly about.
Greg can think of a few examples of that:
Giving Bush credit for a record of treating people with dignity and respect makes no more sense than looking for a role model on chastity and settling on a staff member at the Mustang Ranch. He means to tell us that Bush, who

  • blocked thousands of Americans from leaving the National Guard, but made a flip comment about quitting the service himself when he "was going to Harvard Business School and worked it out with the military";
  • who promised to leave no child behind, then shortchanged his education plan by $7 billion;
  • who picked the anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard to celebrate Marriage Protection Week, and picked the week of Martin Luther King's birthday to announce a legal assault on efforts to ensure a degree of fairness in college admissions;

treats all people with dignity and respect?

Greg says he's had enough, and in honor of the occasion he has started to make a plan. Maybe you can help out.
13:52 GMT

Reading room

My latest DailyNewsOnline article, on Bush the deserter, is up now.

Must-read Digby article on the undiscussed but always obvious disaster Bush has created by exposing our intelligence and military weaknesses for all the world to see. (See? Saddam understood this.)

Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, lifelong conservative, quit her job at the Department of Defense so she could give interviews like this: You know, I spent 20 years working for something that - at least under this administration - turned out to be something I wasn't working for. I mean, these people have total disrespect for the Constitution. We swear an oath, military officers and NCOs alike swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. These people have no respect for the Constitution. The Congress was misled, it was lied to. At a very minimum that is a subversion of the Constitution. A pre-emptive war based on what we knew was not a pressing need is not what this country stands for. (Via Pacific Views.)

At Through the Looking Glass, Charles Dodgson finds out why programmers' salaries in India are so much lower: because everything is cheaper there. And then he wonders how it can be that they pay so much less for their high standard of living, and if this means something is seriously out of whack. There's also more on Norquist's belief that the Democrats are like Nazis because they believe in top marginal rate taxes.

Right-wing Waco-nuts call for boycott of Girl Scout cookies; sales rise as a result. And if you think you don't really need another box of Thin Mints, just remember that they aren't available over here.

Bush meets with "ordinary people".

An ignorance alert from The Poor Man
03:05 GMT

Sunday, 22 February 2004

In the UK

This is, as you know, not a gun-nut's paradise. People still find ways to kill each other, but they have fewer reasons to than they do in the USA. But in the usual way of things, every now and then there is a need to make a big deal out of something that will deflect the public's attention from the stupidity of those in power, and then they have to pick a topic to View With Alarm, leading to calls for new and better Draconian laws to fortify the old Draconian laws.

The present topics in need of distraction are well known - the spurious 45-minute claim that seems to have misled many people into believing we needed to invade Iraq, for example, or the increasing sense of mystery over the death of Dr. Kelly. Although what has actually been published in the papers has been muted, it's becoming clear that journalists and medical professionals are really pretty skeptical about the official suicide verdict, and some pathologists and trauma specialists are starting to be heard:

We believe the verdict given is in contradiction to medical teaching; is at variance with documented cases of wrist-slash suicides; and does not align itself with the evidence presented at the inquiry. We call for the reopening of the inquest by the coroner, where a jury may be called and evidence taken on oath.
Well, obviously, The Powers That Be don't want too much attention focused in that direction, which I suppose explains why, for example, I'm suddenly getting phone calls again from people who think pornography is the hot issue of the day. And why we now urgently need a ban on replica guns. The anti-toy gun argument sounds much like all other arguments for eliminating civil liberties, and if you missed them before, they look something like this:
End The Menace Of Gloves!

Millions of pairs of gloves are in circulation on the streets of England right now - many of them in the possession of children! The continuing manufacture, importation and sale of gloves threatens lives and lifestyles!

Gloves hide fingerprints - only criminals wish to conceal their identity! If you have nothing to hide, why would you need to wear gloves? Gloves aid crime - reduce crime at a single stroke and Ban Gloves Now! There is no good, legal reason for possessing these tools of evil!

And while I'm grabbing stuff from Epicycle, I see a link to more bad news, in the form of the EU Directive on IP enforcement slated for Monday, which is being described as a DMCA on steroids.

On the bright side, the police have been fined heavily for interfering with protesters, which is an improvement on the situation in the US where the best we can hope for is that charges get dropped if there is enough publicity and angry response.

Perhaps the best news, though not from the UK, is that people are counter-suing the RIAA and, my favorite, a woman in New Jersey who is using the racketeering laws to go after them.

(Also, I got seven out of ten on the test to see if you can tell a programming geek from a serial killer, but one of them is both, so don't blame me!)
13:16 GMT

Heroes and villains

George McGovern sees parallels between '72 and today

He was a World War II hero who flew 35 missions as a B-24 bomber pilot over Europe in the effort to defeat Nazi Germany.

But when he ran for president in 1972, George McGovern refused to use his military service to buttress his campaign against President Richard Nixon, whose stewardship included tens of thousands of dead soldiers in Vietnam.

Instead, McGovern ran against the war, and was tainted as an anti-war candidate, too weak to lead the world's most powerful military. He was defeated in a landslide. Nixon later was driven from the White House in 1974 because of Watergate.

Now, McGovern, 81, sees some parallels between 1972 and today, with a self-described "war president" going against a war hero. But this time, the war hero, U.S. Sen. John Kerry, is touting his military service and drawing attention to questions about President Bush's service in the National Guard.

McGovern, who preferred Clark but now supports Kerry, also has criticisms of Bush's pre-9/11 inaction to protect the country from terrorist attack, and questions about why none of this has been properly investigated.
12:22 GMT

Gay tidings

Just about everyone is ringing in the changes - Jim Henley says his first thought was "Berlin Wall," and Patrick has pictures. So here's a little something from Simon Hoggart this weekend:

Brian Souter, of course, gave a large chunk of his profits to fighting against gay rights in Scotland. Curiously enough, the opposite process is happening in Texas, once without doubt the most aggressively anti-gay state in the US. This comes from Leland Beatty, who used to work for the Texas rural economic development commission. One of his jobs was to go round dusty one-horse towns and tell them how to get a bit of money into the place.

Word had got round that if gay people moved to a town, they would restore an old picture house, turn some ramshackle building into a fine Victorian bar, open shops selling something other than horsefeed, and generally make the place attractive to visitors, who would drive for miles to spend money.

Consequently a startled Mr Beatty would find himself addressing ruddy-faced neckless men in broad-brimmed hats, who would ask him: "How kin we git some of those thar' ho-mo-sex-yulls in hyah?" - though probably in a more convincing Texas accent than I have conveyed.

Meanwhile, I'm right touched to see that Del & Phyllis have tied the knot after all these years.
01:43 GMT

Saturday, 21 February 2004

Contrast and compare

Kevin Drum has a post up at CalPundit in which he wonders about the distinction between two words he saw used together by Conrad Black in the phrase "a bounder and a cad". Naturally, this occasion was used by some commenters to make comments about Black and about his FDR biography, among other things. In the "other things" category, I liked this one by "Harry Lime":

Black says on page 274 that FDR held 998 press conferences---which can be broken down as 337 in his first term; 374 in his second; 279, his third; and eight in his fourth, which lasted only little more than a month. Compare that to Bush---and his 7? 8?

But he's superior to Roosevelt in malaprops, 437 to none; he also does better in exaggerated boasting and instructing his press office to use briefings as occasions for public relations. Imagine Stephen Early, after the 1942 Doolittle Toyko raid, saying of Roosevelt, as McClellan says of Bush almost every day, "This is a president not afraid to make decisions." The reporters would have laughed him out of the room; who knows completely why that pusillanimous group now there doesn't roar, too, considering all the other claims that McClellan feels compelled to make---"This is a war president," "This is a president willing to act," "This is a president who's committed to homeland security." All this will punctuate history's verdict that Bush, who also has read only three books in three years, just might be the very worst president the country's ever had.

Yet, in a land where yahoos flourish and are unashamed to make it known, he has his apologists, as did Pierce, as did Fillmore, Buchanan, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, even Nixon. What a list. And just about all Republican.

I'm not all that thrilled by the fall of Conrad Black, by the way. Even though I disagree with much of it politically, it has to be said that his newspaper is probably the best one in Britain, and there are certainly editors and publishers I'd rather see fall (from a great height). You can guess who I mean, I'm sure.

Oh, yes, and I'm pretty sure Bernard Yomtov has the right of it on the question of "bounder" versus "cad". Dictionaries can say what they want, but people say what they will - and that, I'm afraid, makes all the difference. (See: "prevaricate", "disinterested", "hopefully". I refuse to give in on "infer", though.)

Kevin also has a post about the contributions of Dean and Clark to the campaign. The short version is that people can be proud of supporting them even though they dropped out of the race, because the fact that they had that support long enough to make an impact on the discourse was very important: Dean showed 'em that it's worth fighting, and Clark showed 'em that Bush has no lock on the national security issue.

Also: a neat analogy.

You did know that CalPundit is where to go for interesting AWOL updates, right? (Also: Can Edwards win? It's just possible.)
19:59 GMT

Read this

Sidney Blumenthal on Why Kerry Should Sue the Sun : One question remains unanswered about the politically inspired lie that Senator John Kerry had had an affair with an "intern". Which interested source planted it with the rightwing internet hooligan Matt Drudge and with the conservative British newspapers that put it into wide public play? Its timing was fortuitous. Immediately after George Bush went into a tailspin, falling behind the Democratic presidential frontrunner, John Kerry, in the polls, Kerry became the subject of smears filled with remembrance of things past.

Josh Marshall on the digital Watergate: But the big change came last Thursday at an open hearing of the Judiciary Committee. Faced with the new evidence, pretty much every Republican on the committee gave up on offering any justifications or excuses for what had happened. And even those who had been most aggressive in fighting off Democratic attacks conceded that what had happened was quite possibly criminal and should be pursued by law enforcement authorities.

Leftware on Bush and blasphemy: The most offensive thing that Mr. Bush raised in his State of the Union address — and this is saying something — was his proposal for a Constitutional amendment to protect the "Sanctity of Marriage." Why did this bother me so much? I turned to Brother Noah (Webster) for guidance. To sanctify is to make holy; purify; free from sin; to render legitimate; to entitle to reverence. (Via Sisters Talk.)

Kevin Healey on Bush and the Media: New Threats to the Public Interest: This problem is well illustrated in remarks made by Michael Powell, FCC chairman under George W. Bush, when he was asked in a press conference what he thought the term "public interest" meant. "I have no idea," he said. "The public interest at its core is the same thing as my oath of office: a commitment to making sure the American consumer is benefited... I try to make the best judgment I can in ways I think will benefit consumers. Beyond that I don't know."6 Such statements are remarkable in light of the fact that, according to FCC commissioner Michael Copps, "the phrase 'serving the public interest and necessity' appears 112 times, my staff counted, in the statute."7 In response to Powell's comments, the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (hereafter FAIR) reminded its readers that "guarding and protecting the public interest is supposed to be central to the FCC's mission." Obviously Powell has other priorities.
14:19 GMT


Jim Henley didn't think much of it when Pat Buchanan characterized Bush as a good man who has been "captured" by neocon maniacs, and says:

I am none too fond of neoconservative foreign policy, nor neoconservative domestic policy neither. But, um, if the President decides to take all his advice from one set of Republican Party insiders and not another, whose fault is that? It's not as if the Lugars and Hagels and Bakers and, far more important, all the people who have staffed their offices over the years weren't around and willing to tell the President what they thought. Yes, the National Greatness Conservatives are the Sugar Industry Group of interventionist foreign policy - your highly-motivated lobby with all the political advantages political theory leads us to expect.

But if you're the President, you're the boss. And who you listen to is your responsibility.

Absolutely right. What is this thing with trying to pretend that Bush has no responsibility for the things his administration does? Remember when some of his more libertarian supporters were railing against Ashcroft while acting like Bush had nothing to do with the fact that he was Attorney General? It's just weird. You can't believe that his cabinet and his policies are just sort of random facts of nature that simply happened to him - and yet, they appear to, don't they?

(And while I'm referring to Jim, a comics note: I just wanna say that the current run of Birds of Prey is interestingly hairy.)
05:20 GMT

Friday, 20 February 2004

Really bad sex ed

At Tapped, Nick Confessore is talking about how reporters cover policy issues and why that means that any old garbage can be treated as if it is credible. The particular piece of garbage in this case is abstinance-only sex education, which for some reason someone at AP actually took seriously enough to discuss this way:

The Bush administration is proposing to double spending on sexual abstinence programs that bar any discussion of birth control or condoms to prevent pregnancy or AIDS despite a lack of evidence that such programs work.
In Minnesota, a study found that sexual activity doubled among junior high school students taking part in an abstinence-only program. The independent study, commissioned by the state's health department, recommended broadening the program to include more information about contraception.

Independent researchers who are studying abstinence-only programs for the federal government said in their first report two years ago that no reliable evidence exists whether the programs work. They are expected to issue an update soon.

Of course, it doesn't take a genius to work this out. We had little more than an instruction to be abstinent in the '50s, and as you know this resulted in, well, no one having any sex in the '60s.
18:47 GMT

Things I've read

PNH on a revolution led by mayors.

More Conservatives Bailing On Iraq.

"This Machine Kills Fascists."

We do stupid things - like privatizing support services for the military.

The good thing about my DailyNewsOnline articles is that there are comments. And, speaking of DNO: Georgia gets into the redistricting act.

I knew that ricin story was bollocks.

Skippy has a new theme - he is not AWOL all the time.

Karl Rove, the editorial cartoon.

Gary Farber checks out Al Franken's USO stint. Also, my Bond Girl Name appears to be Amber de Beauvoir (is that femme or what?), and more on the cancellation of Angel.

Marc Perkel has upgraded - This new server is especially designed to GET RID OF BUSH! Its part of my "No Anti-Bush site left behind" policy. If you know of any anti-bush sites that are having trouble paying their hosting costs, send them my way and I'll make sure they stay online. - and wants to sell his old server to someone in the Bay Area. He also says he's developed killer spam-free e-mail hosting and is champing at the bit to put it to the test.
14:56 GMT

Thursday, 19 February 2004

Lookin' around

Way overpriced, but the catalog is fun to look at.

Last Laugh: Ten years later, a tribute to Bill Hicks. I wish it had been better written and edited, though. (Have I mentioned lately that I miss Bill Hicks?)

Paul Krugman read last week's Economic Report of the President and was somewhat horrified at how little interest the health of Americans seemed to elicit. Krugman takes it apart and advises Democrats to take aim at this one - an issue Americans really do care about and that this administration won't be able to address. Well, at least not honestly.

Seriously, go read this post from Atrios about Larry Flynt. Aside from the potentially image-busting story Flynt has on Bush, there's Atrios' own point that the Stepford Press , though they sneer at Flynt, are actually not up to his level of class.

Eric Alterman has a new book out (with Mark Green) - The Book On Bush - and Bill Scher at Liberal Oasis interviewed him about it. (Back at his regular gig in The Nation, Alterman finally falls in love with the man who should be president.)

I see from PNH that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a blog (with a real blogroll, too).

Jesse's got your locker-room economics.

Ralph Nader is an idiot. (And Ralph, if you didn't want people to tell you not to run, why did you put up a webpage asking people whether you should run?)

I'm not generally into holiday snaps but this is a neat picture.
04:46 GMT

Sometimes it's true

There's an interesting post at Body and Soul on the question of Bush's, um, Vietnam experience:

In 1996, Bob Dole suggested that someone like Bill Clinton, who had no military experience, no personal experience with war, might be more likely to take the country into an unnecessary war. For whatever reason, the charge didn't stick. Maybe because it's not easy to apply hippie peacenik and warmonger labels to the same man. And, in general, the idea that avoiding war makes you love it is rather stupid.

Except when it isn't. George Bush is the guy Bob Dole described, the one who never learned that war isn't a game. He floated above the war of his generation, and then led us into a war that wasn't just unnecessary, it was a fraud from beginning to end.

Rather like he is.
03:15 GMT

Wednesday, 18 February 2004

Cause for alarm

At The Great Divide, Claudia Long reads an article in the NYT and wonders what's going on:

...because what are we saying here? The NYPD is giving 'chemical and biological' training to 10,000 officers --for the Republican National Convention? Does that mean training them to RESPOND to chemical and biological attacks, or to USE them?
Either way, this is weird. Are a bunch of middle-aged Democrats likely to be using chemical and biological weapons? Nope. Are they likely to require chemical and biological crowd control methods? No, but it does seem to be a wet-dream of an awful lot of Bush partisans, who don't appear to believe it would be wrong for Bush to "gas his own people".
23:19 GMT

Fox, chicken-coop, etc.

Busy Busy Busy has this headline: Uggabugga scoops embarrasses major media.

Seems Bush very quietly appointed Henry S. Rowen to the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction last Thursday, and for the most part the media didn't consider it worth mentioning.

But Uggabugga noted that one article in the The San Francisco Chronicle tells us a little more about this guy:

He is a member of the Defense Department's Policy Board, a 28-member panel that urged action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein before the war.
In fact, he's a 1997 signer of the Project for a New American Century's grand plan to invade Iraq. Gee, do you think he's a disinterested party?
15:09 GMT

Yesterday's top stories

"Dinesh D'Souza can bite me," says Atrios, pointing to something that looks an awful lot like racism, despite the announcement that racism is over.

Congratulations to all the Koufax Award winners - yes, even you, South Knox Bubba. (No, really, he does deserve wider recognition. But then, so do we all. However, no way is Tacitus as good as Silber and Henley. And The Talking Dog is a fine weblog, but I'm not sure it qualifies in the "non-liberal" category.)

Mitch Wagner says the porn industry is taking a "nuanced" approach to net piracy.

MWO exposes Kerry's past - as a respected officer in Vietnam. (Details on the phony Drudge exposé can be found at DailyNewsOnline.) But down at the bottom of the page there is an announcement that MWO is taking a break until further notice.

Josh Marshall says the Republicans are having trouble kicking the habit of exposing vulnerable confidential intelligence sources (a la Plame) as a means of payback - and an Assistant US Attorney from Detroit is suing Ashcroft for it. Also, on Bush's claims about the danger Democrats pose to the nation's fiscal health: This is the arsonist in your house telling you that stranger outside with the hose can't be trusted.

What people listen to Sean Hannity for.
14:14 GMT

Tuesday, 17 February 2004

Crime report

Over the weekend Atrios was off on holiday and Tena bravely sat in for him at Eschaton. Among her accomplishments was this citation of an article in The New York Times detailing the latest in the Great Bush Cover-up (Section One: Intelligence Failures), in which once again we see the White House wanting to hide the details of its appointees. But we don't need to know any more about Laurence H. Silberman than what is already on the record. (Just go ahead and knock yourself out on Google.) This is a guy with a long history of having a hand in some of the very worst things the Republicans have to offer. And, wouldn't you know, Judge Silberman has a record of covering them up, too. He already belongs in jail. So I guess he's just the man for the job!

Back on the case, Atrios notes that Bush has already done a whole lot worse than Clinton when it comes to pardons:

Bush just pardoned an S&L fraudster.

I don't want to hear any crap about "compassion for a dying man." Our jails are filled with dying men who were much less harm to society than this scumbag.

Not to mention all those guys on death row who Bush didn't pardon. And then there's the fact that when heads of government release people like this from prison on "compassionate" grounds, they have an amazingly high recovery rate.

The Good Fight

Having already demonstrated that she is alert and smarter than the average legislator, Mary Beth of Wampum is taking the next step and standing for state office in Maine. Regular readers of her weblog will already know that she has demonstrated her ability to delegate, having brought in some able commentators to keep the page up to date. This could be the start of bigger things - like filling some of those seats in Washington that are currently occupied by the Excess of Evil. If you live in Maine, or have time to spare, you might want to help out. Wherever you are, you can Donate, too.
16:49 GMT

Why we call them "maniacs"

Wouldn't it be nice if a recovered neocon were available to explain the serious derangement that sometimes calls itself "neoconservatism" and sometimes accuses all the rest of us of anti-semitism or conspiracy theory for acknowledging the existence of neoconservatives?

A Tragedy of Errors is former neoconservative Michael Lind's review in The Nation of An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, by David Frum and Richard Perle. It's fascinating and devastating:

If Frum and Perle are to be believed, a great number of US invasions and US-supported revolutions will be necessary to bring democracy to countries that now lack it: "Kofi Annan complained in July 2003 that democracy cannot be imposed by force. Really?" Annan is a better historian than Perle and Frum. The record is clear--most of the democratic transitions that have taken place in the world in the past two centuries have had nothing to do with foreign military intervention or military pressure, while most US military interventions abroad have left dictatorship, not democracy, in their wake. The two cases that neocons constantly return to, Germany and Japan, are among the few cases where democracy has been restored (not created ex nihilo) as the result of a US invasion. The Soviet bloc democratized itself from within in the 1990s, even though the United States did not bomb Moscow, impose a martial-law governor on the Poles or imprison former Hungarian Communist officials without charges in barbed-wire camps. In Latin America, Mexico became a multiparty democracy instead of a one-party dictatorship without US Marines posing for photos in the presidential mansion in Mexico City, and it was not necessary for American soldiers to kill tens of thousands of Argentines, Chileans and Brazilians for democracy to take root in those countries.

One must hope that American soldiers leave behind a functioning democracy in Iraq--rather than the dysfunctional autocracies and kleptocracies that were the legacy of US military occupations in the Philippines, Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Mexico. But it is likely that, if and when liberal democracy comes to the Muslim world in general and to the Arab world in particular, the gradual, largely bloodless transition will resemble those in Soviet Europe and Latin America and will not be the result of US military action or intimidation. The neocons--and the humanitarian hawks on the left--are simply wrong about how best to spread democracy.
A related contradiction is the ever-deepening alliance of the neocons with the Likud's major supporters in the American electorate, the Protestant ayatollahs of the Bible Belt, which inspired Irving Kristol, William Kristol and Norman Podhoretz to open their magazines to religious-right tirades against abortion rights, gay rights, gun control and--my personal favorite--"Darwinism." This apertura to Southern Christian fundamentalism--the opposite of everything that neoconservatism defined as "paleoliberalism" once stood for--led to my departure and that of several other former neoconservatives. We thought we had joined an antitotalitarian liberal movement, not an alliance of American Likudniks and born-again Baptist creationists brought together to support the colonization of "Samaria" and "Judea" by right-wing Jewish settlers.

Was it Max who said a while back that these guys had screwed up every time? Lind comes to much the same conclusion.

(Via Ken MacLeod.)

Update: Patrick has also linked to this piece.
13:49 GMT

On the web

The Raitt Stuff sees the knives are out for Teresa Heinz Kerry.

David Yaseen wonders why any journalist would care about having access to White House sources, since they are such lousy sources.

Carpe Datum on the AWOL story: What Bush did so long ago really doesn't matter to me. I don't need to know what he was like back then to know that he is an abysmal president now.

"Get this — Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is already complaining that the Democrats are running a dirty campaign."

APOD: Spiral of Dust and Stars
12:12 GMT

Monday, 16 February 2004

In Blogtopia
(Yes! Skippy etc.)

The new, improved Tbogg finds more dumb Lileks - on White House sex.

All you need to know about the "Hanoi John" Smear: I have no problem with Conservatives engaging John Kerry on the issues. That, after all, is what a political campaign should be all about. Unfortunately, rabidly partisan Conservatives like the goons behind NewsMax seem quite willing to engage in any conduct, no matter how slanderous or untruthful, in order to get George W. Bush "re-elected". I can only hope that the American electorate has the wherewithal to recognize that the current occupant of the White House is a dishonest, manipulative prevaricator primarily concerned with his own political power. We deserve better. Also: Why men have thick skulls.

David Neiwert at Orcinus found Grover Norquist pretty much admitting that the threat the rest of us face from Republicans is so severe that, "Anything short of placing snipers on the rooftops of D.C. would be an underreaction by the Left." David asks where the so-called "decent, respectable" conservatives are when their fellow-travellers openly make clear their desire, even their intention, to eliminate any possible oppositional voices, any power for anyone but themselves - possibly even any life for members of the Democratic Party. (Yes, really.) Also: a strange case in Memphis that recalls the Richard Jewell affair.

I was going to write a tear-down of Nicholas Kristof's bizarre theory that the answer to outsourcing jobs to foreign countries is improving education in the US, but Charles Dodgson is short and sweet on the subject.

Can you believe Joe Biden had the temerity to blame Paul Wellstone for the disaster in Iraq? Well.

No More Mister Nice Blog has a neat little contrast-and-compare set of quotes about how different the RNC's campaign against Kerry will be from their campaign against Dukakis back in '88. Also, this week's Friday Afternoon Secret Announcement, delay on a decision by the FDA on approval of over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill, in the wake of pressure from the religious right.

Hutton on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
21:15 GMT

Comrade Snowball's Advice

You know, I really meant to address this when I wrote about that Lileks article earlier, but somehow it slipped my mind. Brian Broadus takes me to task in e-mail:

I think that Bartcop and you and whoever is reading the ever-more-shrill Lileks are making a mistake by the doing. The circle of his dementia draws ever smaller. Stand too close and you might be caught inside.

His accusations of Bush-hatred are aimed at dismissing challenges to his core assertion: "Bush is serious about the war." Don't launch into the AWOL and 11 September issues and leave the weight of this succulent fruit dragging its bough down low.

The very reason that Bush must be defeated is that he's not serious about the war--either of his several wars, although Lileks prefers to conflate them all. A serious leader would do many things Bush hasn't. He hasn't included in his Federal budget the additional $50 million it will take to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond September of this year, probably because doing so would make the budget look more dismal than it already does. He wouldn't be watching as the Taliban reasserts its influence and reorganizes while the Afghan countryside devolves into quiet poppy-enriched warlordism. He wouldn't have waited until 20 January of last year to select the American executive department to run the occupation of Iraq, and he would have picked the one that had a substantial plan for it, the State Department, and not the Defense Department, which wouldn't convene its first comprehensive occupation planning meeting for another month. (He didn't do that because certain ideologues--Richard Cheney is implied to be the most prominent one--regarded careful occupation planning as likely to reveal the duration, scope, and cost of the enterprise as likely to cool the nation's ardor for the enterprise: the definition of un-seriousness.) Bush's Defense Undersecretary would not have been permitted to rebuke a uniformed general officer who dared, prewar, assert to the US Senate that the occupation of Iraq would require far greater numbers of soldiers than would toppling Saddam's government--a central determination of studies by the State Department, the Army War College, and the Central Intelligence Agency, and the projection of humanitarian NGOs, too. He would have put forward only unshakeable arguments for war against Iraq, and not assertions of threat that required Hussein to act against his own interests, knowing that only those would persuade Americans that the much greater sacrifices necessary to win the peace would be worthwhile. He would have proposed the shape of victory--how to tell that the war had actually been won, and the United States better for winning it. And, he would have laid out to America the certainty that, in spite of the war and whatever good will we brought for Iraq's future--a goodwill he would later betray with the miserable fashion in which he ended the heavy fighting, delivering Iraq from the Saddam frying pan into the fire of social and economic chaos--it might all be for naught. Some leaders of the Iraqi nations might have a different future for Iraq than Bush does, and they're far from powerless, and we might ultimately lose.

If Bush were serious about the war, he would treat it seriously. His dismissal of it, his assertions that he has made the United States safer without any specific arguments as to how he has, indicates he's infatuated with war's glory, less fond of making sure that it's not a waste of blood and treasure.

In Bush's "autobiography," Karen Hughes writes of Bush's senior year at Yale:

"My inclination was to support the [United States] government and the [Vietnam] war until proven wrong, and that only came later, as I realized we could not explain the mission, had no exit strategy, and did not seem to be fighting to win."

Different war, but now he's got his chance to do some of that 'splaining. If he's serious.

Brian Broadus

PS: More lingerie shots. Please.

I'm trying! But the catalog companies are not cooperating. For example, I liked the look of this bra, but was displeased with the way it was photographed. They gotta make the picture work for me and they're not doing their job.
14:03 GMT

Seen and heard

God damn it, they cancelled Angel. (Via Amygdala.)

This radio show (streaming, dynamic link) has some American politics, a lovely bit of Gershwin, and at the end Scots author Christopher Brookmyer quotes me. Which was kinda cool to listen to.

Joe Trippi has a blog of his own. (Via Josh Marshall, who also has the amazing transcript of the White House press gaggle in which Helen Thomas tries and tries and tries to get one straight answer out of Scottie the Dancing Pressclone.)

The Horse reports that die-hard Republican Venomous Kate has doubts about Bush, and while I was reading her reasons I noticed a link to this exciting video celebrating the media's hot topic of the moment. (Not work safe.)
13:22 GMT

Sunday, 15 February 2004

Lunatics and other stuff

moon phases

Via Deborama

More than evolution being deleted from Georgia's textbooks.

Today's article about bras

My article about the privatization scam

Every sentence is a life sentence.

Sun Myung Moon and your precious bodily fluids
23:27 GMT

Questions keep on coming

Bartcop has a loopy quote from Lileks up and it looks like this:

"Why not stand up and give vent to all the poisons hatching in the muck? Why not tell America that Bush lied about everything, that he took the country to war for reasons he knew would be discredited, just so Halliburton could make another buck or two? It's what they seem to believe, after all. The delusions of their fringe have become articles of faith for the mainstream. Bush was AWOL! Bush knew! Bush lied! Bush never flosses! Skull and Bones! Plastic turkey! At least we'll have a clear choice in November. Bush is serious about the war. The Democrats are serious about the war against Bush."
Is there anyone left who thinks Lileks has anything to say on these issues anymore? Just how seriously in denial do you have to be to write off "theories" that Bush was AWOL, that Bush has lied every-which-way about Iraq and the invasion, that the White House had ample warnings leading up to 9/11 and for some reason did nothing, that there is something extremely corrupt about the role Halliburton/Brown & Root is playing in Iraq? Bush is serious about the war? Where is the evidence for that?

I've got news for you, James Lileks: The reason the Republicans don't want those questions aired is that they can't answer them, and if people start thinking about them, if the media actually covers those issues honestly, even you will know it.

9/11, their whole excuse for everything, and the Republicans just don't seem to be even a little bit curious about why Bush has fought hard against a thorough investigation. $70m to investigate the Clintons for non-existent crimes, a whole bloody impeachment circus over a goddamn blow-job, $12m to put Tommy Chong in jail, but god forbid we should get to the bottom of all the myriad things that went wrong on 9/11, eh? We wouldn't want to do anything about that, would we?

As Gail Sheehy notes, each detail raises new questions:

The timeline that is most disturbing belongs to the last of the four suicide missions—United Airlines Flight 93, later presumed destined for the U.S. Capitol, if not the White House. Huge discrepancies persist in basic facts, such as when it crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside near Shanksville. The official impact time according to NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command, is 10:03 a.m. Later, U.S. Army seismograph data gave the impact time as 10:06:05. The F.A.A. gives a crash time of 10:07 a.m. And The New York Times, drawing on flight controllers in more than one F.A.A. facility, put the time at 10:10 a.m.

Up to a seven-minute discrepancy? In terms of an air disaster, seven minutes is close to an eternity. The way our nation has historically treated any airline tragedy is to pair up recordings from the cockpit and air-traffic control and parse the timeline down to the hundredths of a second. But as Mary Schiavo points out, "We don't have an NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation here, and they ordinarily dissect the timeline to the thousandth of a second."

Even more curious: The F.A.A. states that it established an open phone line with NORAD to discuss both American Airlines Flight 77 (headed for the Pentagon) and United's Flight 93. If true, NORAD had as many as 50 minutes to order fighter jets to intercept Flight 93 in its path toward Washington, D.C. But NORAD's official timeline claims that F.A.A. notification to NORAD on United Airlines Flight 93 is "not available." Why isn't it available?

If you presume both competence and integrity on the part of the administration, 9/11 is simply inexplicable, and so is their reluctance to investigate the numerous failures that allowed the Towers to fall.

And just how do you explain the fact that Bush keeps saying that we had to invade Iraq because Saddam refused to allow UN weapons inspectors into the country? Has he really forgotten Hans Blix so soon? I'm not exactly famous for my terrific memory but even I can recall that the weapons inspectors were already in Iraq when they were obliged to leave not by Saddam but by Bush's unwillingness to tolerate further delays in starting his war.

Bush was AWOL. Bush did lie, and continues to lie. And Bush knew. It's all on the record. What will it take to remove the scales from your eyes?
12:17 GMT

Saturday, 14 February 2004

Technical difficulties

Below are the posts for Wednesday I tried to upload and then discovered that both of the phone lines for our house were dead. This can only mean one thing: Workmen in the street had cut through the lines. Navigating BT's annoying automated system on my cell phone was a lengthy and frustrating process....

"Wait - do I understand you're saying you can't get anyone to fix it until Monday?"

"Our engineers have been very busy because of the weather."

The weather?

Well, blimey, it looks like we had the wrong kind of winter.

So I went down to the local cybercafe and posted a note on my other weblog, but you didn't think to look there to find out what was going on, right? *sigh*.

Anyway, some guy just came around and restored the lines. God, that's a relief. (And Mr. Sideshow and Alun are watching the Scotland-Wales match, so I can ignore them and play with my computer again! Yay!)

Oh, yes, happy Valentine's Day.
16:19 GMT

Wednesday, 11 February 2004

Exciting news

Talk Left says: "Victory in Des Moines! The Government has withdrawn its subpoenas," against the peace activists at Drake University.

This is the transcript from Tuesday's press conference in which the press actually pressed Scott McClellan for answers to the mysterious non-service of George Bush in the Air National Guard (and makes hilarious reading). One of my favorite bits:

Q Okay. Then on the general issue, Senator Kerry has said that the National Guard was one way for people to avoid service in Vietnam. The President and the White House have taken umbrage at that, saying that's denigrating the National Guard. In 1994, the President told the Houston Chronicle, in relation to his joining the National Guard, "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment, nor was I willing to go to Canada, so I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes." It sounds like the President, himself, acknowledged that he went into the National Guard because he didn't want to go to Vietnam.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President -- again, Terry, this issue has been addressed fully. Now we're trying to change into different issues here. The President was proud of his service in the National Guard. He fulfilled his duties; he was honorably discharged. I think there are some that we're now seeing are not interested in the facts. What they are interested in is trying to twist the facts for partisan political advantage in an election year. And that's unfortunate.

And this is Richard Cohen saying that he, too, served just as unenthusiastically in the National Guard, and that, like Bush, he joined to avoid service in Vietnam - but, unlike Bush, he isn't lying about it.

Meanwhile, at DailyNewsOnline, a new project I am participating in, here's a headline I didn't see anywhere else: John Ashcroft to Subpoena Medical Records of Abortions Patients
12:13 GMT

A candidate for Andrew Sullivan

Howard endorses gay partnerships

Tory leader softens hardline image with vision of inclusive society

Michael Howard yesterday took a significant step towards ending his image as a hardline former home secretary when he endorsed same-sex partnerships.

Boy, talk about your flip-flops!
11:11 GMT

Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Bush betrayed us

In Al Gore's Nashville speech the other day he said he had a partisan speech planned before 9/11 but on that day he had an emotional reaction and put it aside. I wish we'd heard that speech, and I'd still like to see what it said, but Gore is making strong statements today:

Former Vice President Al Gore, in an impassioned speech to his fellow Tennessee Democrats on Sunday, blasted President Bush, comparing his White House tenure to the "politics of fear" associated with former President Richard Nixon's administration.

"Nixon was no more committed to principle than the man on the moon," Gore said. "He cared as little about what it means to be conservative as George Bush does about imposing ... budget deficits.

"It has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with his efforts to get re-elected."
Gore echoed recent statements by Bush's former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill that from the earliest days of the president's new administration, Bush was planning on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

"I tried to warn our nation that this proposed war in Iraq was being put forward on false premises and was a terrible mistake and would create extreme difficulties for our nation," he said.

Taking attendees back to just after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the former vice president talked of when he says he threw aside a highly partisan speech he'd planned in Iowa to support Bush when national unity was necessary.

"I had feelings welling up deep inside me that our nation had been attacked and, by golly, we were going to stand behind our president and be unified," he said. "I stood before the Iowa Democrats and said 'George Bush is my commander in chief.'

"I think there were millions just like me who genuinely, in spite of the partisanship they felt, wanted George Bush to lead us in America."

Instead, Gore shouted to a screaming crowd, Bush "betrayed us."

"He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure, dangerous to our troops, that was preordained and planned before 9/11," he said.

A report on the speech by Katharine Q. Seelye (R-NYT) quotes Gore as this way:
In a withering critique of the Bush administration, former Vice President Al Gore on Sunday accused the president of betraying the country by using the Sept. 11 attacks as a justification for the invasion of Iraq.

"He betrayed this country!" Mr. Gore shouted into the microphone at a rally of Tennessee Democrats here in a stuffy hotel ballroom. "He played on our fears. He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place."

The speech had several hundred Democrats roaring their approval for Mr. Gore, the party's 2000 standard-bearer.

See video clip of the speech here.

You know, I think it would be cool if lots of people wrote to The New York Times and The Washington Post and told them it was time to apologize to Al Gore, who was so right when they were so, so wrong.

(I haven't looked at this, but if you scroll to the bottom of the page, there's a video of "Standing Up": Al Gore's speech to the 2002 Florida State Democratic Party conference. Or maybe this link might be more helpful - I didn't check it while I was online.)
13:40 GMT

Monday, 09 February 2004

Campaign notes

Pundit Pap: Rambling. Banal. Ersatz. Dishonest. Those are the words that come to mind after witnessing former Texas governor George W. Bush's miserable failure today. At the request of his media handlers, he hijacked NBC's Meet the Press in a desperate effort to put the brakes on his plummeting poll numbers.

Greg Greene has reservations about Kerry.

Joel Rogers at The Nation says Progressives Should Vote Edwards: Better still, Edwards is relentlessly upbeat about America's ability to solve these problems. He's not another Clintonesque "I hear your pain, now let me tell you why I can't do anything about it" sort of guy. He has a real program of democratic renewal. And it is largely ours.

Will Kerry make use of The Book Karl Rove Fears?
18:35 GMT

Stuff to check out

Mark Evanier's good-bye to Julius Schwartz

The Slacktivist finds another Iraq hawk has figured out that he missed the obvious signs, and is blogging about it at TNR.

Charles Dodgson has a good question about Al Sharpton's media prominence, and points out an interesting new tax cut that, wow, must have a huge grass-roots movement behind it. Meanwhile, in liberated Iraq: "When Saddam raided," said one, "he took only the person he was after. Now the whole family is taken, even when the soldiers know they have the wrong house."

Mary at Pacific Views muses on why poor "fundamentalists" would want to team up with corporatists.

At Off the Kuff, jobs are created in Texas by wishful thinking.

Opinions You Should Have

Via Epicycle, learn how homing pigeons really do their thing. Also, Eno & Gabriel launch a direct-to-audience music publishing service. And get your very own customized signature sign.
14:39 GMT

Sunday, 08 February 2004

Oldies but goodies

23:45 GMT

Bush Doctrine v6.0

From MWO:

The Bush Doctrine: Preemptive invasion of nuclear-armed armed unarmed third world countries that will could "would love to" attack the US immediately soon, with nuclear weapons with bio or chem WMD if only they were armed.
Yep, that's it, all right.
23:06 GMT

Stupid conservative tricks

Here (via PNH) is a shining example of the kind of off-the-wall analyses that come from the right:

Huge increases in spending on education and other domestic programs that are not even within the federal government's constitutional purview; a new prescription drug entitlement for the elderly; Wilsonian rhetoric and actions in foreign policy; Kennedyesque manned space mission boondoggles; clumsy protectionism; in its appointments to high-level positions, the most affirmative-action conscious administration in American history; a proposal to legalize the status of illegal aliens; and now, a huge proposed increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Remind me again of why liberals are so hostile to George Bush? Give him a phony Haavaad accent instead of phony Texas twang, a wonky college life, a less religious persona, and an attorney general other than John Ashcroft, and George Bush, in theory, would be a dream president for many liberals, judging by their ex ante policy preferences. But the dirty little secret of American politics, as explained so well by Michael Barone, is that cultural cues are more important than policy and ideology. W just represents lots of things that coastal liberals dislike, and they will continue to dislike him regardless of how he governs policy-wise. But I find it amusing when they dress up their cultural prejudices in rhetoric along the lines of claiming that Bush is running a "right-wing" or "ultraconservative" administration that wants to roll back not just the Great Society, but also the New Deal.
Ah, where to begin?

One is tempted to wonder if the hallmark of conservatism hasn't become superficiality. Gosh, if George Bush only had a northeastern accent, shut up about religion, and wore blue-jeans in the White House, we'd just love his policies. Why? Because he spends enormous amounts of money and claims to be spending it on liberal programs.

Except that the huge amounts of money Bush is spending are not aimed at funding anything like a liberal program. He talks about education, but presents bills that restrict effective teaching and evaluation - and doesn't even bother to fund them. The prescription drug bill actually limits patients' rights, limits Medicare's ability to negotiate lower rates, still leaves significant portions of patients' bills uncovered, and - like the "new" funding for AIDS - funnels astonishing amounts of money into the pharmaceutical industry. It's probably at least five times more expensive than any liberal program would have been, and probably not half as useful, either.

And note the way that paragraph down-plays two significant anti-liberal aspects of Bush's administration: "Give him ... a less religious persona, and an attorney general other than John Ashcroft..." and you'd have someone who at least held out the potential not to be a right-wing crackpot. Because this is a man who would actually appoint a proven hard-right fruitcake like Ashcroft in the first place, something that tells you quite a bit about what kind of an administration he's running. You don't appoint a theofacist who hates the Constitution to be your AG if you are a liberal or have even a rudimentary understanding of liberal principles.

Here's something I saw at Eschaton this morning:

Oh well. Another one down:
DES MOINES, Iowa -- In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.

In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said.

Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas.

In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum.

Gee, I wonder where "federal prosecutors" got the idea that such a blatant violation of the First Amendment would pass muster with the current administration. Could it be that they've noticed they are not liberal?

Not that we can't also take offense at the suggestion that it is "a religious persona" per se that offends us about Bush. There have been a number of religious people who have provoked no distaste from liberals, at least in part because, overall, Jesus' teachings were actually pretty liberal. Liberals have even supported, and voted for, legislators who were Catholic priests. And then there's the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It's not Bush being a Christian we mind, it's having a creepy form of blasphemy shoved down our throats in clear violation of the Constitution.

And speaking of the Constitution, what are these "domestic programs that are not even within the federal government's constitutional purview"? Education? Medical care? Social security? They're not consistent with this?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Liberal programs - the real kind, the kind that are actually trying to educate our children and confer the blessings of liberty on all of us, are there to fulfil the promise of that preamble. There's no place in the Constitution that defines our purpose as to protect the right of corporations to suck us dry, which is what the Bush administration is up to. There's no place in it for depriving Americans of their citizenship, locking people up without due process, holding them without a speedy trial and the right to confront their accusers - all rights George Bush has taken to himself, with Ashcroft as his chief henchman.

In fact, Bush appears to be in the business of enacting the most conservative program of all: absolute monarchy.

I don't think you'll find many liberals have historically liked that sort of thing.
17:06 GMT

Saturday, 07 February 2004

The third rail
Think about it. For the events of 9/11 to have occurred, 116 governmental agencies and failsafe systems would have had to fail on that day. The odds of that happening are one in four million - Attorney Phil Berg on Scarborough Country
Last month reposted William Rivers Pitt's Two Loud Words, in which he notes that discussing the administration's failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks has become a political third rail.

But third rails aren't what they used to be. For example, the Republicans are riding a third rail by simply not admitting that their plan to dismantle Social Security does exactly that - even though everyone knows that's what it does.

And it was only a couple of weeks ago that you just couldn't say in public that George W. Bush had been AWOL from his Air National Guard post for somewhere between (depending on who you ask) seven and eighteen months. Until Michael Moore said it and the media joined the RNC pile-on demanding that Wesley Clark repudiate Moore and his statement, and Clark didn't back away from Moore or the statement, and then Terry McAuliffe himself asserted on television that Bush had indeed failed his duty to the ANG.

So is it possible that the Democrats can finally nerve up to address Bush's rather significant dereliction of duty in 2001?

George W. Bush is going to run in 2004 on the idea that his administration is the only one capable of protecting us from another attack like the ones which took place on 9/11. Yet the record to date is clear. Not only did they fail in spectacular fashion to deal with those first threats, not only has their reaction caused us to be less safe, not only have they failed to sufficiently bolster our defenses, but they used the aftermath of the attacks to ram through policies they couldn't have dreamed of achieving on September 10. It is one of the most remarkable turnabouts in American political history: Never before has an administration used so grisly a personal failure to such excellent effect.

Never mind the final insult: They received all these warnings and went on vacation for a month down in Texas. The August 6 briefing might as well have happened in a vacuum. September 11 could have and should have been prevented. Why? Because Bush knew.

This administration must not be allowed to ride their criminal negligence into a second term. Someone needs to say those two words. Loudly. After all, Bush has proven with Social Security and with 9/11 that third rails can be danced across. All it takes is a little boldness.

When leading Democratic candidates and other spokespeople manage to make use of the spotlight to attack Bush's credibility, it leaks into the public consciousness. The unthinkable truth actually becomes speakable. So isn't it time Democrats began to hammer the point where it can be heard? You know it. I know it. Everyone should know it: Bush knew.
17:06 GMT

Republican Dirty Tricks

This is from So Far, So Left:


How sick are they that Republican intimidation tactics have become so common and so effective that Democrats employ campaign workers to fight them?

Voter registration and identification weren't the only mobilization programs that occupied the Republicans in 2003, however. They were involved in a major voter-intimidation program as well. The battleground on which they tested their latest tactics was the Philadelphia mayor's race, where the campaign of the Republican challenger, Sam Katz, grew extremely nervous at the success the Democrats had had at registering minority voters. The Republican response was an attempt to scare black and Hispanic voters away from the polls -- not a new trick in the Republican playbook by any means, but one that the DNC had better be studying and preparing to confront this November.

To begin, according to Democratic consultant Tom Lindenfeld, who ran the counter-intimidation program for the campaign of Democrat John Street, the Republicans assembled a fleet of 300 cars driven by men with clipboards bearing insignias or decals resembling those of such federal agencies as Drug Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Thus arrayed, says Lindenfeld, these pseudo-cops spent election day cruising Philadelphia's African American neighborhoods and asking prospective voters to show them some identification -- an age-old method of voter intimidation. "What occurred in Philadelphia was much more expansive and expensive than anything I'd seen before, and I'd seen a lot," says Lindenfeld, who ran similar programs for the campaigns of Harvey Gantt in North Carolina and other prominent Democrats. In a post-election poll of 1,000 black voters, 7 percent of them said they had encountered these efforts (this being Philadelphia, there were allegations of violence and intimidation against Street supporters as well). Lindenfeld employed 800 people to confront the GOP's faux-agents at polling places.

Lindenfeld's operatives found Republican volunteers from as far away as Missouri, and attorneys from the District of Columbia were discouraging Philadelphia voters from exercising their franchise. That doesn't make the effort an official activity of the RNC, of course. But it does mean that a broad network of Republicans are still honing their techniques for manipulating an election.

First of all, I want to remind people not to be disheartened when you hear about these shenanigans; the trick is to be ready to put your own elbow into watching out for this stuff and being ready to help counteract it. No, we can't be everywhere, but this kind of thing has always gone on and there has always been a necessity for being on guard against it. Even in the best of times, there is never a moment when it is safe to be complacent.

And, secondly, I want to congratulate Drew on having all that tasteful white space. I'd still like to see the blogroll in a bar on the right, but I love the simplicity and cleanness of the page. And, as someone still suffering on dial-up, I do appreciate that it loads faster than most Blogspot sites do.
16:33 GMT

Friday, 06 February 2004

A bunch of links

Brad DeLong is bitter. (I heartily recommend you read the comments.)

Nick Confessore: Nickle-and-diming you to death.

Nick Confessore: Remember, the First Amendment doesn't protect you from being fired for your political beliefs.

Liquid List: More liberal media than you can shake a stick at.

Nobody Knows Anything: Diane renounces the tin-foil hat.

Bush-a-nomics not working, and neither are you.

Cartoon: Evolution
14:43 GMT

Thursday, 05 February 2004

Have I got a bra for you!


(Via Boing Boing, with an assist from MadKane.)
17:23 GMT

Deserter Storm

Michael Moore:

When the press heard me use that word "deserter," though, the bells and whistles went off, for this was one of those stories they knew they had ignored -- and now it was rearing its ugly, truthful head on a very public stage. Without a single other word from me other than the d-word, they immediately got so defensive that it looked to many viewers like they—the press—maybe had something to hide. After all, when I called Bush a deserter, how did they know I wasn't referring to how he has deserted the 43 million Americans who have no health coverage? Why didn't they assume I was talking about how Bush is a deserter because he has deserted the working people of this country (who have lost 3 million jobs since he's taken office)? Why wasn't it obvious to them that I was pointing out how Bush had deserted our constitution and Bill of Rights as he tries to limit freedom of speech and privacy rights for law-abiding citizens?

Instead, they have created the brouhaha over Bush's military record, often without telling their audience what the exact charges are. It seems all they want to do is to get Clark or me -- or you -- to shut up. "We have never investigated this and so we want you to apologize for bringing it up!" Ha ha ha.

Via The Liquid List.
17:04 GMT

Things to wait for

God only knows if this link will survive continuous revamping at Drastic Verge, but:

The reviews are in: I'm busy indulging in one of my housekeeping hobbies, a little pastime I like to call "blowing up my PC" boom baby boom 'cause I'm the Evil Midnight Bomber what bombs at midnight, er, restoring the factory image and repartitioning the hard disk to reinstall drivers and applications, but I can't resist saying that I can't wait to see the Democratic campaign commercials quoting all the articles about Bush's budget:

  • "A masterpiece of disingenuous blame-shifting, dishonest budgeting, and irresponsible governing!"—Washington Post
  • "Dazzlingly deceitful!"—Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times
  • "Lies, Damned Lies, and Bush's Budget!"—Business Week

Etc. Or maybe there could be a contest, where people vote on the sleaziest, most dishonest, or most wrongheaded part of this pre-busted budget

DV also says that it's now George Bush who has Joementum.
15:08 GMT

Read it

Liberal Oasis interviews Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity:

LiberalOasis: Is there anything specific that you can point to that President Bush’s donors have received for their investment?

Charles Lewis: How much time do you have?

Fortunately, the interview isn't that long.
03:56 GMT

The political

Atrios, celebrating an interesting method of spreading rumors by anonymous letter, now on display at the premier American conservative magazine's website, has printed one of his own - but Jerry Doolittle says it passes The Pubic Hair Test.

Matt Yglesias is wondering if we can say Bush is stupid. I thought we were supposed to say "incurious" now, but Matt wonders whether even this is true. But Cheney, Rove, and friends seem to be running this show, and they're not stupid; they're crazy as bats with rabies.

Mark has found out the truth about Saturday Night Lieberman. (And I'm so sorry I missed this party.)

"A novel attack on Kerry"

Gary Farber wonders whether some people will admit they were wrong about Hans Blix and Ambassador Wilson.

Joe Conason tells you who is behind Al Sharpton's presidential run. Oh, you're probably not going to be surprised. I mean, who is it who just loves having Sharpton in the limelight?

This looks like a new blog: War in Iraq.
03:03 GMT

Wednesday, 04 February 2004


This completely amazes me.

A guy loans a friend a few kinky videos and the Crown Prosecution Service prosecutes them. As far as I can tell, no law has been broken. Apparently, they are claiming the videos are in violation of the law because they were not certificated by the BBFC, but the last time I looked that requirement only applied to material that was being distributed "for gain". The Obscene Publications Acts even specify "trade or gain".

But, somehow, the guy has been sentenced to nine months in prison.

So, was the law changed while I wasn't looking? It's not impossible, since I have been heavily preoccupied with something else (the illegal takeover of my country's government by a bunch of pirates), but, gee, I would have thought someone would have told me. When did this happen?
16:19 GMT


Teething problems continue, but here are a few things to keep you busy:

Max says:

I'm staring at a block of paper, roughly 9 x 12 x 4 inches thick that is the Budget of the U.S. Government for Fiscal Year 2005. I do not claim to have mastered its deceptions, which culminate in the claim to cut the deficit in half by 2009, but some of the egregious crimes of accounting are visible on the surface.

This is not a serious or honest budget. In fact, it is not a budget at all. It's a political infomercial dedicated to George Bush's reelection.

Josh Marshall has been "mulling over" Bush's recent decline in the polls:
I've gotten a number of emails over the last few days from Republicans asking, with a genuine disbelief and incomprehension, how it is that the questions about President Bush's military service record are coming up now after they were 'dealt with' in 2000.
Of course, we all know the answer to that one. Read this, too. And then congratulate Josh for noticing this. Finally.

Via Bartcop:
Molly Ivins says Ain't democracy grand?
The Deck of Bush
15:33 GMT

Tuesday, 03 February 2004

A few hits

Lisa English has been a bit busy, but she has minions. Click on the pretty picture and see a whole bunch of stuff they've been putting on the page lately.

TBogg explains why, "If anyone thinks that Bush and his cabinet were duped by bad intelligence (other than the genetic kind), you're kidding yourself." (Also.)

Atrios has the dope on nearly everything, but he has failed to pay attention to the fact that Feminists Against Censorship really has accomplished something over the last 13 years. We changed the debate - we actually put serious anti-censorship arguments back into the public discourse in Britain, and repeatedly pointed out that there was no evidence for the purported harm of pornography. And I repeatedly implored pornographers to challenge British Board of Film Classification rulings in court, with the result that someone finally did just that and in 1997 the High Court ruled that the BBFC had not been able to back up its claim that it was protecting the public from harm. And then the BBFC held public hearings on the subject, where I appeared as an expert witness. So the BBFC's guidelines were changed to allow real pornography that showed erections and penetration, and Roger Scruton himself looked me in the eye and blamed "people like you" for this appalling decline in standards. And he was more right than he knew. (PS. The Boob story was the last item here on the news, the "Dead Donkey", as it were. It didn't eat up the news, in other words.)
18:48 GMT


Jam Today on the Hutton report.

Balkinization on Bush's latest budget. (You call that a "budget"?)

Toles may be warning of a draft.
16:36 GMT

It's about possibilities

Amy Sullivan went to church:


Columbia, S.C. -- That was just one of my favorite lines from the sermon I heard yesterday morning while sitting in church with John Edwards. And, okay, with a couple thousand other people. We were at the Bible Way Church outside of Columbia, an almost exclusively black church that just happens to hold voter registration drives after each service and that is led by a senior pastor who supports Edwards.
The theme of the sermon was possibilities, about being so close to a goal and yet so far away, and my politics-obsessed brain managed to make several leaps from the original intent of the sermon to the current political situation. And then the pastor lept along with me. (You're going to have to just imagine for yourself the electric organ music in the background and the call and response from the congregation -- "Oh yeah! Amen! Preach it, Pastor!")

"You can do anything...with the help of God. You can be anything...through Him who makes all things possible. You can be born the son of a millworker in smalltown South Carolina...and you can grow up to run for president. People may tell you that you don't have the experience...but you can do anything. You've been set up... to be blessed. God didn't bring us this far...just to leave us behind. So don't get lost...don't wander like the Israelites. I did not leave Egypt...just to die in the wilderness. Turn to your neighbor and say, 'I did NOT leave Egypt...just to die in the wilderness.'"
The candidate gave a shortened version of his stump speech, adding a quote from JFK about God at the beginning, but missed a golden opportunity to practice talking about religion in front of a receptive audience of Democrats. He riffed off of the sermon at one point -- acknowledging criticism that he lacks the experience to be president. "Has anyone ever told you that you can't do something? That you don't have want it takes?" he asked. "I believe this campaign is about possibilities. We can do anything."

The more I listen to Edwards, the more I appreciate the fact that he talks about poverty, no matter who he's addressing. The best part of his brief speech was when he said, "Political types and pundits keep debating the question of where we should talk about equality and poverty. We need to talk about it everywhere." And he's absolutely right. You don't just pick up the issue in the South or in urban areas. Regardless of what you think of Edwards as a candidate, you have to admire him for sticking with an issue that's not popular and doesn't win you many votes.

Edwards is far from being my ideal candidate, it's true - he's just plain too conservative for my tastes. But time and again, he has shown that he is a good candidate, and he says and does a lot of the right things that a candidate ought to be doing and saying.

In fact, Edwards, Kerry, Clark, Dean, and even Kucinich are all good candidates, and if the media were in its right mind, they wouldn't be talking about who is electable, but rather how to choose between five guys who all show so many good qualities. Do they have bad qualities? Sure - every candidate, in every time and place, has 'em. But even I am not old enough to remember the last time the Republicans fielded candidates this good.

Amy says Edwards missed his chance here to talk about religion, but it's worth remembering that there's more than one reason why Democrats are talking in churches. Yes, it's the best place to talk to groups of black people. But they're not just black people. They are people who take their Christianity seriously, and they know which party is most consistent with that religious message. That's a point that the media seems unwilling to recognize. It would be good to write to them and ask why they don't.
15:13 GMT

Once around the block

Dragon update: More here and here. (Via)

Get some serious angry liberal stuff at Uppity Negro.

Evelyn Keyes at Best of the Blogs has an Urgent Memo to Hollywood and the Rap Community.

The Joe Trippi story

Apple makes their fans really, really mad.

Right-wing radio creep Michael Savage attacks Bush - for being a "liberal".

Josh Marshall continues on the Learning Curve.

"I never met Al Franken before. He is now my new hero."

Teething problems continue in the fabulous Sideshow offices, but we will prevail!
02:32 GMT

Monday, 02 February 2004

The invisible third party

Owen Boswarva says in mail that Charles Kennedy hasn't been quite as invisible as I implied:

I recall seeing Charles Kennedy interviewed on BBC News 24 during their Wednesday evening coverage of the Hutton Report, but his comments were so innocuous that the details have escaped me. However, the BBC website has an article from the same day:

'Kennedy calls for fresh inquiry'

Kennedy also addressed this issue in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon. The Hansard transcript is here.

And they seem to have a lot more to say on their own website, too, but I still don't think the media has been giving them enough attention.
14:36 GMT

Sunday, 01 February 2004

Teething pains

I'm trying to get used to some new kit around here so I haven't had much time for web crawling. However, here are a few things to entertain you while I try to get my act together. (And don't you hate it when you upgrade an application and discover the new version has lost something you really liked about it?)

Awhile back I quoted Ray at Bellona Times as saying: What we needed to resist was rebranding the estate tax as a "death tax," instead of a "lazy parasite tax" or a "crazy-assed worthless motherfucker tax." But Anne Zook said she wasn't very happy with that. (Actually, she said, "That attitude drives me nuts.") So now Ray has responded with his own description of his American Dream. (Who says I need comments, Anne - this thread is much more interesting!)

Fun with the immigration service.

Rolling Stone reveals top 500 albums ever, in case you missed it. I think Let It Bleed is better than Exile On Main Street, but I guess that's just me.
17:52 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, February 2004

January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page

And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.