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Wednesday, 31 March 2004

Liberal Radio

I'm listening to Air America on their first day of broadcast (on the Internet feed). Some guy phoned in and said:

The DLC drifted off and away from me.
Yes, it was President Al Gore, on the O'Franken Factor. (Other future guests - for tomorrow - include Senator Clinton and Richard Clarke.) And he said he would be a studio guest in the future. Oh, yeah, the current guest appears to be Michael Moore, who couldn't quite bring himself to apologize but promised his support this time.

Randi Rhodes is next.
20:53 GMT


Discourse

I've been reading this post and the comment thread over at Making Light, where Teresa listed the implications of Clarke's testimony and then summed up:

Is there anything about the current hearings that does interest the administration? From the evidence so far, they're interested in controlling what you and I find out about what happened, and what the administration did and didn't do about it. But they're only concerned about that because we vote, and because Dubya's perennially sensitive about the lustre of his reputation. Our actual safety doesn't enter into the calculation.
There are many good and interesting posts about the negligent and calculating nature of the administration that deserve your attention, as well as a wider-ranging examination of the system and the culture, and it's worth reading the whole thread, but here are some bits that particularly caught my eye.

From Adam Rice

One aspect of the entire Clarke affair that only struck me after it had time to sink in was when Leslie Stahl made a comment about how he was bringing down a smear campaign upon himself. Well, of course. We all know that, but the thing is, we've gotten desensitized to something we need to remain aware of. Isn't it an odd thing that it's a foregone conclusion now? I'm not sure when the turning point was, but I think it was in '96, when the GOP took the House, that we could pretty much count on anything that would outrage the Republican machine generating this kind of smear campaign.
I think "outrage" is the wrong word. I think it's anything that would potentially hurt the Republican machine, or anything that might benefit Democrats, that generates the smears - and if they can't find anything to get upset about, they invent something.

(Take, for example, the pardon of Marc Rich. This didn't really outrage Republicans, but it was as if they had a checklist of everything Republicans had done to outrage Democrats in the past and, as if it was equivalent to George H.W. Bush's pardons of those who might otherwise be able to testify against him, they used the Rich pardon to show that Democratic pardons - especially by Bill Clinton, who as we know is married to Satan - are at least as evil. They didn't bother to mention that leading Republicans had been working to achieve that pardon for Rich.)

Graydon wants to spell out the danger these people present; Patrick says we've been here before and we just have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but it's do-able. Here he says:

Remember, the point isn't to build the new Jerusalem, crusade for utopia, or establish a libertarian paradise. The point is to get rid of these bastards and re-establish normal American politics, with all the usual compromises, dissemblings, backroom deals, and other moral misdemeanors that implies. All of which is one hell of an improvement on the rule of unfettered Might Makes Right, which is what we're on our way to right now.
Terry Karney usefully explains why armed revolt is no answer. My favorite on the weird-o-meter is this post from an anarchocapitalist who recognizes the dangers of the Bush administration and agrees with Graydon's critique of capitalism, but still ends up saying, "I blame regulation, not capitalism."

Jeremy Leader with a reminder that there is never a time for complacency:

The trouble with military metaphors is that this is a life-long campaign; it's not just a matter of standing in the "shield wall" for a few hours, days, or even a few years of battle; we have to keep opposing the enemies of our democratic system for the rest of our lives.
There's even people who never thought they'd ever even consider voting for a Democrat before.

Carry on, folks.
16:52 GMT


Politics, media, chocolate

I didn't know, either. From Notes on the Atrocities: All right, enough fun and games with this Clarke business. Turns out there's actually an election on. The other guy, it further turns out, unveiled his economic plan on Friday. Who knew? Really, you'd think Kerry and his people would know better.

I'm set in my ways, and in my taste in chocolate, but reading a story like this makes me willing to try something new just because.

Widows and Orphans First... is Eric Alterman's Nation article about right-wing media attacks on a group of families of those who died on 9/11. And here is Michael Tomasky's piece from The American Prospect on RNC attacks on Clarke.
01:48 GMT


Tuesday, 30 March 2004

News & Views

Alistair Cooke dead at 95

"Throughout 58 years I have had much enjoyment in doing these talks and hope that some of it has passed over to the listeners, to all of whom I now say thank you for your loyalty and goodbye." (And more.)

Garry Wills on The Passion of the Christ - God in the Hands of Angry Sinners: In Gibson's film the union of the divine and human in Jesus is not explored or explicated. He is just a sponge for punishment. Which makes one wonder why so many call their viewing of the film a conversion experience. From what, or to what, are they being converted? From Christianity to philoflagellationism?

Deborama has been running a series on The Death of Christendom.

Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud, has given an interview to Bill Scher of LiberalOasis: It's unique. Never before in history has a president of the United States -- and I'm really referring to both President Bushes -- had such a close relationship with another foreign power. Never have they had personal and financial relationships and their public policies so deeply tied to another foreign power. [...] That raises the question of: if you're in bed with the Saudis, how can you fight a real war on terrorism? And then there's the $1.4 billion question.

David Yaseen has personal reasons for feeling a need to give consideration to the meaning of Yassin and Hamas.

He doesn't appear to have permalinks, but Bob the Angry Flower has a few words to say about how much fun it is to watch Clarke punch holes in Bush's phony record on national security.
21:05 GMT


Around the web

Sidney Blumenthal on Bush's war -- against Richard Clarke. (And the free day pass ad gives you a chance to listen to a new track from Bob Weir.)

Liberal Oasis does the weekly Sunday Talkshow Breakdown and says the media still hasn't caught up with what Clarke is actually saying: That Clinton prevented terrorism, and Bush hasn't.

Jack at RuminateThis has learned that NPR is kicking his favorite morning radio guy.

At DailyNewsOnline, Kevin Raybould explains Why Scalia is Both Wrong and Dangerous. (And I have a new article up, too.)

Question Mark #34: What's So Funny?
14:17 GMT


Life as science fiction

Have I mentioned this before?

Many long years ago, I was sprawled across my bed reading when the LNS news came on the radio with a story about how the DOD had mislaid cannisters of a wheat-destroying fungus they'd developed for military use. They said they had the location narrowed down to "somewhere in the midwest."

The next morning I picked The Washington Post off the doorstep and saw a picture spread across three or four columns showing, according to the caption, farmers in Kansas fighting a strange, wheat-destroying fungus of unknown origins. There was no story attached.

What makes this event particularly memorable for me is that when I finished the book I'd been reading at the time, I felt like I'd been reading the same story.

Scorpio also has a fondness for that author, and especially that book, The Sheep Look Up, and finds it even more relevant today.
13:01 GMT


Monday, 29 March 2004

Facts & theories

At Bad Attitudes, Jerome Doolittle seems downright depressed by the results of a Newsweek poll, and provides a couple of useful links to:

  • a theory about the source of Condoleezza Rice's current travails which is so devious that only a Xymphora could have dreamed it up - or a Dick Cheney.*
  • Built to Fail, showing a few more ways in which No Child Left Behind is meant to leave no public school standing.*

Fred Clark at Slacktivist has learned:

And here's what Jimmy Breslin has to say about Clarke, and about Condi. (Via Blah3)
23:37 GMT

Working to death

Confined Space is observing its first anniversary, and has some grim news:

This is an amazing and extremely distrubing article from the East Bay Express about AXT Inc., a Fremont, CA, semiconductor company which exposed its employees to airborne arsenic at levels four times the legal limit in 2000 and was issued "Willful" citations and penalties of $313,000 by Cal/OSHA, the California workplace health and safety agency.

Company employees were almost entirely recent Chinese immigrants who spoke no English. As a result of the Cal/OSHA inspections and fines, American Xtal Technology (AXT) moved its production operations operations to Beijing, China, where it now has a 1,000-worker factory doing the work that health and safety regulators in California would not allow.

This is a large part of what people like Tom Friedman are celebrating when we send jobs abroad without the worker protections that corporations are trying to evade by moving them to other countries.

Is it really worth the price?
19:25 GMT


What's goin' on

David Neiwert has a grotesque story about some right-wing creeps who objected to a bit of photoshopping by a gay artist and they drove all the way to Georgia from Fred Phelps country in Topeka, Kansas just to brutalize him.

Greg Greene has an ugly tale of Georgia Democrats doing the GOP's work for them.

Charles Kuffner says that some Texas Republicans are irritated that Governor Goodhair has run off to the Bahamas.

Tapped says Noam Chomsky has a weblog, and he says this: We have several choices to make. The first is whether we want to pay attention to the real world, or prefer to keep to abstract discussions suitable to some seminar. Suppose we adopt the first alternative. Then there is another choice: electing Bush or seeking to prevent his election. [...] It's a matter of judgment, of course, but mine is that those who favor electing Bush are making a very serious error.
14:56 GMT


The Awakening

A few more reactions to the Clarke revelations, well worth reading.

Charles Dodgson at Through the Looking Glass:

It is, at this point, well within the realm of possibility that had Al Gore been elected, and retained Clinton's national security priorities, strategy, and tactics, we might have gotten a few headlines about oddball arrests in late August, 2001, and September 11th would have been just a glorious sunny day in New York. And Republicans like John Ashcroft, if not Ashcroft himself (who, remember, lost his Senate seat to the dead guy), would even now be painting Gore administration anti-terrorist plans and priorities as a sinister plot to undermine the rights of citizens -- just like Ashcroft himself did incessantly while Democrats were nominally in charge of federal law enforcement.
And Digby has this, and then says:
And, deep down, the American people are not surprised. With more than three years to go and a national security crisis on their hands they closed their eyes and held on for dear life, hoping against hope that he would rise to the occasion. He didn't, despite all the phony media hooplah that insisted he was Churchill in ermine and epaulets. We are now only eight months away from our first chance to replace him with someone more capable. People are starting to let go of their desperate need to believe.
Last night someone observed that Tim Russert looked like he was going to cry at the end of his interview. Tim Russert, who can more than most be held to blame for the disaster of the 2000 election - because it was Tim Russert who, knowing full well that Gore had probably won Florida, caved-in to his boss and called the election for Bush. And by doing so set in motion the horrific course we have been on since that day. Is it possible that Russert knows at last how much blood is on his own hands?
14:03 GMT

Seen at Bartcop

It's on Bartcop's front page right now, from a reader called Oracle Jones. Bartcop doesn't have individual links for items, but when the page rotates off the front page it will get its own URL.

Who is sabotaging Bush's campaign?

First President Bush attempts to appoint Anthony Raimondo, CEO of a manufacturing company in Nebraska, (proof that the president was serious about keeping jobs here at home) to be Manufacturing Czar at the Commerce Department. That didn't go over so well when it was revealed that Mr. Raimondo had laid off 65 of his own workers while building a $3 million factory in China that would employ 165 Chinese people.

Next, the Bush/Cheney is offering a beautiful red jacket on their reelection web site. Close inspection of the label inside the jacket reveals that it was made in Burma, a country banned from selling products in the United States for its well documented use of slave labor in clothing manufacture and other industries. Lastly, the White House is now complaining about the release of a new book by Richard Clarke. Clarke, the top anti-terrorism official under every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan, has written "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror" that excoriates the Bush administration for ignoring terrorism.

The White House immediately turned on the former long time public servant (and registered Republican, I might add) with its usual mixture of characterization assassination, disinformation and outright lies. One fact that particularly outraged the Bushies was the timing of the release of the book, in the middle of the Presidential race.

"Who," the White House ranted, "would release such a book at this particular time other than a partisan closet Democrat."

Yep, you guessed it. The White House!

Quoting Mr. Clarke, "I wanted the book to come out much earlier but the White House has a policy of reviewing the text of all books written former White House personnel-to review them for security reasons. And they actually took a very long time to do that. This book could have come out much earlier. It's the White House that decided that decided when it would be published, not me."

So I ask the question again. Who is sabotaging the Bush/Cheney campaign?

You've got to admit, they couldn't look any worse if they'd planned it.
13:13 GMT

Sunday, 28 March 2004

Web crawl

Feorag has two questions about why the gore in The Passion of the Christ is more acceptable for general public consumption than erotica is. Maybe you can supply the answers. Meanwhile, it's time to play paper dolls! Nice set of fridge magnets, too.

Atrios says it's time to revoke the Catholic Church's tax-exempt status now that they seem to have turned into part of the Bush campaign organization.

Jack Balkin says about the Pledge case: Rather Newdow will lose because no matter what the existing doctrine says the Supreme Court is not going to hold that government officials' use of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Establishment Clause. The doctrine will simply be parsed or altered in such a way as to avoid this result. He also discusses the revised federal marriage amendment.

The Official Babes Against Bush Regime Change Countdown Calendar

Which New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Are You? As usual, I hated this poll, which asked me which guy was gonna play me in the movie, and I didn't know who some of them were and I knew the rest of them were definitely not going to play me in the movie. (We all know that Cher is going to play me in the movie - now that Walter Matthau is no longer available - right?) (via)

Well, damn, I hadn't noticed that The Other Change of Hobbit is closing.

Ken MacLeod has found an inspiring quote from a guy who definitely doesn't sound like a Stalinist. Also, a pointer to Trots in Space. (By the way, Ken had an article on Space in last week's Sunday Herald.)
21:59 GMT


Smear report

One of the more exciting moments of the last few days has been Bill Frist's fantasy moment, covered ably as usual by Josh Marshall:

Earlier this afternoon I wrote a lengthy post [...] on the shameless and I suspect (for himself) eventually quite damaging speech Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist gave on the Senate floor this afternoon, accusing Dick Clarke of being a perjuror and a profiteer on the blood of 9/11.
[...]
I never cease to be amazed at these guys' ability to outpace my ability to impute bad faith to them.

A few hours after accusing Clarke of perjury, he admits that he has no idea -- not just no idea whether he perjured himself, which is a fairly technical question, but no idea whether there were any inconsistencies at all.

John Kerry must have seen the humor in it, too, because as Suburban Guerilla tells me, he is right on it:
"My challenge to the Bush administration would be, if (Clarke) is not believable and they have reason to show it, then prosecute him for perjury because he is under oath, Kerry told CBS's MarketWatch.

"They have a perfect right to do that," said Kerry.

Republicans in Congress want to declassify testimony Clarke gave before Congress in 2002 that they claim is at odds with accounts critical of the administration in the aide's recently published book.

Understand: If they go after Clarke, pre-trial discovery allows Clarke access to EVERYTHING.
This administration thrives on keeping the public in the dark - so they are not gonna let that happen.
16:58 GMT

Told ya

From The Seattle Times:

Nader draws donations from Bush's supporters

AUSTIN, Texas - Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is receiving a little help from his friends - and from George W. Bush's friends.

Nearly 10 percent of contributors who have given Nader at least $250 have a history of supporting the Republican president, national GOP candidates or the party, according to computer-assisted review of financial records.

Among the new crop of Nader donors: actor and former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein, Florida frozen-food magnate Jeno Paulucci and Pennsylvania oil-company executive Terrence Jacobs. All have strong ties to the GOP.

These are all people who are still supporting Bush, you understand, and not disappointed Republicans who just can't bear to throw their support to the criminal administration. And I love their "principled" reasons:
"Did I give $1,000 to Ralph Nader because I hope and believe he will be president? No," California business executive Charles Ashman said. "I don't believe that any more than Ralph Nader does. But I was offended to see this campaign to squelch him from being a candidate."
Sure you were, just like you were furious at the way Rev. Jesse Jackson was frozen out back in the days when he was actually the front-runner. Remember all those Republicans who were so eager to promote Jackson's candidacy and gave him money?

You don't? Gee, I wonder why that is....

(Via Drudge Retort)
16:02 GMT


Saturday, 27 March 2004

Notes

I just love how sheer this thing is.

Just wanted to brighten things up a bit, and preferred this picture to the thumbnail of the bra. (I've been disappointed with their presentation, lately.) Alternatively....

Once upon a time, it would have been the biggest news of the week. But last night the only place I saw it was at War Liberal:

Researchers find possible chink in HIV's armor
Maybe, just maybe, researchers at UAB have found something that will help in the fight against AIDS. It appears that the virus, in its early stages of infection, might be more vulnerable to antibodies. (This might explain why infection rates for HIV are relatively low, and why it tends to attack those with already compromised immune systems. My speculation there.)
Bob Somerby says the NYT is now so bad, thanks to the likes of Katharine Seelye, that even The Washington Times sometimes has it beat for straight political reporting. Bob also provides a link to a good Michael Kinsley debunking of Bush's latest campaign spin.

UnfairWitness has an item on the former FBI wiretap translator who has publicly called Condi Rice a liar for her claim that they had no "specific" information warning them about 9/11. Check it out and have a look at the accompanying photograph.

In a post below that I wrote hastily while hurrying away to work, I inadvertently identified the NYT article I was quoting as being from The Washington Post (now fixed). The Post article, which I meant to link at the time in the same piece, is this utterly damning item that details the complete contradictions in some of Condi Rice's statements.
18:43 GMT


Slumming

I was just following a referrer link and found a dark pocket on The Other Side. The referral came from here where one right-blogger interviews another:

What are your favourite blogs?

> The girlies, mostly (they're on my blogroll). I even enjoy Avedon Carol.

Who are your intellectual heroes?

> Roger Scruton; The Pope.

He even enjoys Avedon Carol, despite the fact Avedon Carol horrifies Roger Scruton and also laughs in his face. (Really - face to face on the BBC!)

So I wandered over and looked at this guy's weblog, and found that neither of us is particularly fond of Polly Toynbee, but also found this:

Terrible news is revealed today by Maeve Kennedy, in the Guardian:
"Increasing numbers of middle-aged, middle-class, white people are visiting Britain's archives to research their family histories. Attracting young users, particularly young black users, however, remains an elusive aspiration".
Shocking. Maybe they should give away free crack cocaine to every entrant.
Uh, right.

But while I was there I followed a link to Diana Moon's Letter from Gotham for a look at where the sea-change has brought her, and it's brought her into the grip of sanity:

ON HANGING UP THE OLD NEOCON FLAG. One of the nicest condolence letters I received was from Dave Trowbridge, whose political trajectory since 9/11 roughly parallels my own. Hearing Dave's story made me feel a little less isolated. Since becoming an opponent of the war I lost all most of my friends on the other side. In fact, not one of them so much as acknowledged the recent loss, a fact I cannot attribute to ignorance, as news travels quickly in the blogosphere, even from a no-longer-widely-read blog such as mine.

I didn't mean to go off on that. What I meant to write about was Dave's take on James Lileks. I was never a huge fan of Lileks* but I can understand what people saw in him. It's depressing in a way to realize that someone you once liked a lot has become repugnant to you. That's exactly what happened with me. Every morning I'd line up my hitlist: Frontpagemag, NatRev, Sullivan, Instapundit...(I could never stomach Den Beste--the moment I read his prediction that Netanyahu was certainly going to be the next PM of Israel I realized I was dealing with a phony)...reading them provided a sense of psychic security. It was, I now realize, a fake camaraderie, which compensated for an insecurity about my own convictions, which pathology I believe grips all neocons.

Perhaps there should be a new entry in the DSM: neoconitis, denoting reflexive belligerance, a tendency to blame others for one's own problems, an irresistible tendency to fabricate non-existent threats while minimizing real ones, an obsessive need to crush dissent, and an equally obsessive need to force other societies into unsuitable cultural templates by means of ill-advised military adventures paid for with other generations' money.

(And other people's blood, she forgot to say.)

Perhaps Charles Krauthammer should be alerted.

[Deepest sympathy on the loss of your mother, Diana.]
16:19 GMT


Friday, 26 March 2004

How come?

From The New York Times, Rice Is Agreeable to Return for More of 9/11 Panel's Queries:

The White House announced late Thursday that Ms. Rice was willing to appear before the panel again, but only in private and not under oath.
Only in private and not under oath.

Only in private and not under oath.

Only in private and not under oath.
19:04 GMT


Thieves

The Chicago Trib has a story answering the question of who the "reporter" was in the Medicaid commercial put out by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHH).

Patrick Nielsen Hayden did a post about the abysmal Medicaid "reform" the other day and pointed to this helpful summary of the plan, along with this clip from The Daily Show in which Jon Stewart helpfully points out that the commercial, contrary to DHH claims, is entirely uninformative and is in essence just another campaign talking point from the RNC paid for with your tax dollars.This isn't the first time the administration has charged you so that it could toot its own horn about doing something for you that it hasn't really done for you. Their record of corruption - and make no mistake, this is corruption - is incredible, and should not be left off of the list of things we need to keep going after them for.

But give special attention to this kind of thing, because the administration can keep using your money right up to the election to campaign for itself under cover of ordinary news or "educating the public", but thanks to the Campaign Finance legislation, ordinary citizen groups cannot buy advertising to counter any of these lies.
18:31 GMT


Grand passions

"Oh, thank God," reads a headline at Long story, short pier, referring to the announcement that The Life of Brian is being re-released in honor of Mel Gibson's movie.

But that's not the real grand passion - that would be Cerberus, and Astoria, and the long tale of a love gone cold.

Meanwhile, some To do lists, and Ashcroft's general war on icky female stuff. Oh, and The Onion probably should have had that Pulitzer.
18:00 GMT


All-American news

Political Wire says: The latest Rasmussen Tracking Poll shows Sen. John Kerry at 47%, President Bush at 44%, and "some other candidate" at 4%.

At the DNC blog, Kicking Ass: The White House has finally stepped over the line. After doing everything in its power to obstruct the work of the 9/11 commission, the Bush administration is now manipulating the proceedings by feeding questions to the Republican commissioners.

Kevin Drum wonders if Tom DeLay will be leaving his leadership post now that he's been caught, you know, being totally corrupt - but even if he does, will it make any difference? (Honestly, these guys would have to be in a top-security jail, probably in isolation, before they'd stop doing what they're doing.)

Elton Beard caught someone playing the race card: Robert Novak: Congressman, do you believe, you're a sophisticated guy, do you believe, watching these hearings, do you believe that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman, Condoleezza Rice?

Josh Marshall: Rice truly has the best of all worlds. She hangs back at the White House shooting spit balls at Clarke and the rest of them. But she doesn't have to back anything up because she doesn't have to testify under oath or get questioned. (Josh has lots more on the campaign to destroy Clarke, too.)

Paul Krugman figures the only reason Clarke would risk the wrath of the most vindictive administration in history is because it's true, "the Bush administration is a complete fraud, especially when it comes to the war on terror."

Is the press getting serious? Sisyphus Shrugged looks at what the papers say.

TBogg has made a diagnosis: Kaus Kerry Derangement.

A teacher copies a letter to Jesse Taylor.

Huey has the campaign commercials for the Almost President: here and and here.
15:20 GMT


Thursday, 25 March 2004

Clarke: True Class

Read this post at Electrolite, and then go into the comments to read this one from Michael, who as you may recall had arrived at work in the World Trade Center just before the second plane hit:

And so I watched Clarke's testimony on CNN today. Taped it in fact because I had a feeling that it would have all the makings of a Historical Document.

Anybody who has been paying attention to these hearings will know that all of the witnesses have started their testimony with a lengthy statement explaining this or that about their role in the lead up to 9/ll, much of it self-justifying, much of it saying, well, you know, we were busy with other stuff. So on and so forth.

Mr. Clarke did otherwise. His statement was brief and to the point.

He made a heart-felt apology to the American people for failing to stop 9/ll. He said he did his best. He said a lot of people did their best. But in the end, it didn't matter because they had failed the American people, most especially the victims, and the families of the victims who died on 9/11.

The members victim's families who were in the room broke into applause.

I stared at the screen shocked.

And then I, yep, I will admit it here: I started crying.

And that's what it's all about.
17:30 GMT

Interim report

Jeralyn Merritt reports at Talk Left that a federal judge in California is allowing medical marijuana to be used as a defense against a cultivation charge. And in Canada, marijuana is to be sold in pharmacies. Wow.

Jeralyn also introduces us to a weblog on religion, The Revealer, which has some great posts up, including this one on freestyle evangelicals - including Jimmy Carter and many others like him for whom religion is important and that's why they are not supporting Bush.

David Neiwert directs us to his just-completed three-part series on his experiences at the 2001 Seattle Mardi Gras Riots.

Gail Sheehy in The New York Observer, Four 9/11 Moms Watch Rumsfeld And Grumble: It is still incredible to the moms that their Secretary of Defense continued to sit in his private dining room at the Pentagon while their husbands were being incinerated in the towers of the World Trade Center.
17:12 GMT


War Zones

The Old Bloody Shirt

Billmon observes that Republicans' snarky remarks about Kerry's war service reveal "the degree to which the Republicans no longer feel it necessary to pander to (or even show much respect for) those who served in Vietnam." (via)

King of Zembla was watching CNN and heard the million dollar Clarke quote: "By invading Iraq, the President of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism." And check out Unfortunately, There Seems to Be a Brief Nine-Month Gap in the Tape, which asks a very good question. (Also a heads-up on a new weblog called The Panda's Thumb that responds to right-wing attacks on evolution.)

Liberal Oasis observes that the folklore about Bush's response to terrorism has been chipped away by Clarke and the commission, but says the lambasting Clinton's administration is taking isn't fair. The difference between Bush and Clinton is that Clinton was doing something and stopped several attacks from taking place. Bill Scher also takes a look inside Air America Radio, and by the way has an article in The Star Tribune called "What Europe is Truly Doing" - and what they're doing is trying to disentangle themselves from Bush's disastrous "anti-terror" plan. We should do the same.

Alan Bisbort explains that Bush is Too bad to be true: Because the vast majority of Americans agree that a clean environment is a desirable thing, any loudly partisan attacks on Bush in this regard, no matter how justified they are -- and no American president has ever been as bad on the environment as Bush -- have a tendency to backfire. This is simply because people can't believe anyone, or any government, could be that bad.

America's most popular professional journalist rebuts White House anti-Clarke spin. Good news and bad news: It's Jon Stewart.
14:14 GMT


As seen on TV

Newsnight had Salam Pax on doing his video diary of a religious festival in Baghdad that's been illegal as long as Saddam was in power. They had to import a couple million folks from Iran to show them how to do it. They had these chain flails they were smacking their own backs with. It had something to do with the death and suffering of Imam Hussein, I think. It seemed a bit idolatrous to me but what do I know?

Anyway, he was a dumpy guy with a disappearing hairline, just so you know.
03:25 GMT


Media media

Timothy Noah reports in Slate that a reporter has been fired for doing his job:

Nick Smith's allegation that a member of the House leadership tried to bribe him into supporting the Medicare drug bill. According to Roll Call, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the matter, too. But a Kalamazoo talk-radio host whose scoop made it impossible to sweep Smith's allegations under the rug is out of a job.

Kevin Vandenbroek, formerly of WKZO radio, should have gotten a raise for his contribution to the Smith story, which was picked up by Slate and subsequently by just about every other national publication covering the Medicare bribe. Instead, Vandenbroek was fired last month, apparently for political reasons.

Hesiod, recommending a storm of angry letters, has contact details for WKZO and the local broadcasters and papers. He's right - this kind of thing keeps happening because only right-wingers make their displeasure known.

I found this quote from an article about making books free online at Modulator, who thinks the RIAA needs to pay attention to this:

What happened was precisely the reverse of what the publisher expected. Instead of lost sales, the sales of the book shot up. In the few weeks since the text went online, more copies of this book left our warehouse than during the whole of the last decade.
Readers of The Sideshow will, of course, be unsurprised.

Pacifica Radio Reborn - Pacifica has been with us since 1950. But a funny thing happened not so long ago that is part of the growing takeover of media by the right:

At midnight December 23, 2000 on Instructions from Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash, all the locks at WBAI were changed, and security guards hired by Ms. Wash began barring entrance to the station. One of those people barred was Amy Goodman the host of the award winning show "Democracy Now." She was told by newly appointed interim general manager Ultrice Leid that she could not go in. Ultrice Leid was a programmer at WBAI recently passed over for a Program Director's position by long time General Manager Valerie van Isler. Ms. van Isler found herself subsequently fired as well, Program Director Bernard White - co-host of the morning drive show - was also fired.
Fortunately, this was turned around, but like I say, there is never a time to be complacent.

Buzzflash's Maureen Farrell on The Clear Channel Controversy, One Year On (Why Howard Stern's Woes Are Your Woes, Too):

Though plenty of journalists have pooh-poohed Stern's concerns, anyone who's been paying attention knows how accurate his assessments are. When Clear Channel president John Hogan appeared before members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, he openly admitted that though Stern had not committed any fresh sins, the company decided to drop him anyway.
The more I hear about this, the more I think Howard may be right about it. Though this snowball started rolling at least 20 years ago, these things have been happening more and more often over the last three years.

And it wouldn't be a bad idea to let your representatives know how you feel about the whole indecency campaign:

Unless Sen. Byron Dorgan's (D-ND) controversial provision throws an anti-consolidation wrench in the anti-indecency works, [The Nation] the Senate will likely pass this indecency legislation (how many Senators will vote against "decency?") and the effect on free speech will be immediate.

"The very notion (of the legislation) runs counter to everything prescribed in the First Amendment," Marvin Johnson, an ACLU legislative counsel, said. "The vagueness of the language will lead broadcasters and individuals to stifle their remarks and remain silent rather than run the risk of facing an FCC fine. Not only will our First Amendment rights suffer, but so will the national dialogue."

"This is going to be a very dark day in our history," Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y) said. "We're going down the slippery slope of eroding our Constitution."

Meanwhile, Pissed Off American has a look at pseudo-journalism used to sell the budget-busting prescription drug plan shoe-horned through Congress last session.
02:33 GMT

Wednesday, 24 March 2004

It depends what the meaning of "lie" is

Let's look again at this quote from Monday:

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'
Did anyone read or hear that and think that the report actually had an accompanying note saying, "Wrong answer. ...Do it again"? I sure didn't. I assumed this was a paraphrase or summing up of something that conveyed the same message in more formal - and probably more oblique - terms.

It turns out that the notation on the returned document, from Steven Hadley, was,

Please update and resubmit.
John Cole of Balloon Juice thinks that makes Clarke a liar. He considers Hadley's note to be no more than a responsible request for follow-up.

I don't think so. Clarke was short-handing the description of an entire process in which the administration repeatedly refused to accept what was already demonstrably true: that Al Qaeda was responsible for 9/11 and Iraq was not. There was never any reason to think Iraq had anything to do with it. The report in question was not even necessary, and was only done because the administration wanted Clarke to come up with the non-existent goods on Iraq.

The term "resubmit" means the submission has not been accepted. If Clarke thinks his conclusions were rejected, it's because they were. It's pretty clear, in the context of what had been going on, that "Please update and resubmit" means precisely the same thing as "Wrong answer. ...Do it again." We already know what the right answer is, because - as we may recall from Barton Gellman's story in The Washington Post - Clarke had already given the same conclusion to George W. Bush himself on September 12th:

"Go back over everything, everything," Bush said, according to Clarke's account. "See if Saddam did this."

"But Mr. President, al Qaeda did this," Clarke replied.

"I know, I know, but . . . see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred."

Reminded that the CIA, FBI and White House staffs had sought and found no such link before, Clarke said, Bush spoke "testily." As he left the room, Bush said a third time, "Look into Iraq, Saddam."

So, in essence, Bush is telling him to "resubmit" every time he doesn't like Clarke's answer.

I understand the process of making submissions to government, having been asked for a few myself, and no one expects you to resubmit the same document in light of new evidence. I'm sure Clarke knows that, too. If our intelligence services had unearthed new information that contradicted their earlier findings, that would be the substance of a new report, not an addendum to an old one. I sincerely doubt that anyone would have had to tell Clarke that if the situation changed he should inform the administration. That was, after all, his job.

Cole's "evidence" for further alleged lying by Clarke appears to be based on the WashPost series from 2001 that painted Bush as some kind of a decisive leader in the aftermath of 9/11. But we all know that the authors of that piece were not present in the White House to view the events described -

This series, by Post reporters Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, is based on interviews with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other key officials. Interviews were supplemented by notes of National Security Council meetings made available, along with notes taken by several participants.
- rather, they were working stenography for an administration that produced heroic fiction about a president we do not have. (You don't really think that Bush and his coterie would have given interviews admitting that they'd screwed-up royally, lied about where Bush was and why he was flying around the midwest, and tried to figure out ways to ignore Al Qaeda so they could chase Saddam instead, do you?) While Bush's supporters have been sleeping in their cocoons, they seem unaware that the series in question was the beginning of the end for Bob Woodward's credibility; most of its "factual" details have been "updated" continually since it was originally published, and as each story changes when new information about what really went on in the White House comes to light.

Time and again, people leave the administration when it becomes clear that the level of irresponsibility and dissembling this White House requires is more than they can bear to go along with - or to provide. Time and again, when they give their reasons, they are followed by a campaign of smears in an attempt to dismiss what they have to say. How many times does this have to happen before people wake up and wonder why that is, and whether they should really be carrying water for these people?
23:40 GMT


Quick notes

My latest DNO piece is called "It's About Power."

DHinMI at Daily Kos writes a letter to Joseph Lieberman. And Mike Finley writes to Maureen Dowd.

Do you think the Clarke revelations have been ruining Andrew Sullivan's vacation?

Seth at Infothought doesn't trust Declan McCullagh's journalism. And who can blame him?

Bush Allows Gays to Be Fired for Being Gay.

Steve Bell on Bush & gay marriage (via Black Box Recorder).
13:02 GMT


Blogospheric

Bill Scher has a couple of observations about the reaction to Clarke's revelations. The first is a memo to the press: Fierce Damage Control Means Something To Hide. But the second is this: Liberals Not Hysterical Enough, Who Knew? Well, it's like I've been saying since Watergate: No matter how cynical I am, I'm still not cynical enough.

Perhaps in the same vein, Scorpio tries on a tin-foil hat.

Skippy returns to the subject of the disappearing middle-class and makes an astute observation about how moving companies abroad to make production less expensive doesn't necessarily translate to cheap prices at home. He's right; savings for the company are far less often passed on to the consumer than is being claimed. The truth is that the money goes to the guys at the top and their investors. You know that when their costs go up, those costs are passed on to you in rising prices. How often have you seen the price go down as a result of savings in production costs?

Gregory Harris at Planet Swank briefly notes that the press got a little weird, with The Wall Street Journal putting a "devastating compilation of the lies inconsistencies in Administration statements about 9/11" on the front page, while The Washington Post "devotes op-ed space to Condi Rice for a "rebuttal" on the very day she refuses to make the same claims under oath before the 9/11 Commission."

I like the way John McCrory phrased it (and not just because he linked me): But it isn't just the freakish and bizarre theories of this crowd that are dismaying. It's that their perspective was stuck in an outdated Cold War worldview. When challenged by a new form of warfare - stateless terrorism - that commenced with America's second Pearl Harbor, these folks responded as though nothing had changed; Rather than fight this new form of war and fight the people who attacked us, they chose to fight a conventional war against people who didn't.

At Notes on the Atrocities, Jeff notices the disturbing appearance of cheers and applause in White House transcripts of Bush's stump speeches. Creepy.

Strata Lucida notices A Telling Slip in Bush's speech celebrating the anniversary of the invasion.

Suburban Guerilla dances on Powell's head. Oh, I forgot, I promised myself I'd try to remember always to refer to him as Colin "My Lai" Powell.
00:48 GMT


Tuesday, 23 March 2004

In other news...

At Balkinization, Hate Speech Codes For Broadcasting? on the FCC's recent decision that Bono's use of the word "fucking" (as in "fucking brilliant") during the Golden Globes violated federal laws against broadcast indecency.

At Orcinus, intolerance is bad for business, and is this the shape of things to come?

Wonkette interprets Bush, and explains the Joke Deficit.

Feorag passed me a link for this story in the Edinburgh News: Huge rise in vice girl attacks since city tolerance zone axed. ATTACKS on prostitutes have increased tenfold since the city's unofficial tolerance zone was scrapped, new figures revealed today. Of course, they were warned. Of course, they won't learn from it. (Have I mentioned lately that liberal policies reduce crime?)

Human Descent
13:20 GMT


Iraq story update

Atrios offers you the chance to watch Arlen Specter lie to America, and advises we support Specter's opponent in the coming race.

Remember Yuval Rubinstein's prediction when the man to smear was Paul O'Neill? Well, he was right. (Also, this is worth a read: Having said that, it is important to remember that Republicans have not won a presidential election outright since 1988. What's disturbing is their utter inability to accept this.)

Lambert has the quote from Condi Rice laying the decisions of the Bush administration at Clinton's feet. (And Tresy reports on Al Qaeda's endorsement of Bush in the election.)

The Road to Surfdom looks at a previous book on the Bush administration's response to terrorism, The Age of Sacred Terror, by former National Security Council directors Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, in posts called They were gambling nothing would happen, America's leaders may not yet have taken al-Qaeda's full measure, and Administration "opposed crackdowns" on al Qaeda money laundering that show concurrence with Clarke's view - which he also addresses (here and here, and here and here) in a series of posts called, "Reading Richard Clarke's new book."

Liberal Oasis notes an interesting sidelight to the Clarke revelations, in that Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is pretty openly not disagreeing with Clarke's evaluation (in addition to which he never attacks John Kerry). On the other hand, there's Joseph Lieberman....(And Richard Lugar may also have his doubts about the Bush plan for the future of Iraq, according to Matt Yglesias at Tapped.)
12:12 GMT


Monday, 22 March 2004

What the Papers say

The New York Times, I'm told, put the Clarke story deep inside the front section on page 18 or so. If this is truly the case, a letter-writing campaign is certainly in order - a deluge. Write to the NYT and tell them that an important story like this belongs on the front page.

Weirdly, Judith Miller's piece, Former Terrorism Official Criticizes White House on 9/11, isn't too bad.

In a new book, Richard A. Clarke, who was counterterrorism coordinator for President Bill Clinton and President Bush, asserts that while neither president did enough to prevent the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration has undermined American national security by using the 9/11 attacks for political advantage and ignoring the threat of Al Qaeda in order to invade Iraq.

Mr. Clarke, who has spent more than 30 years as a civil servant in Republican and Democratic administrations, issues a highly critical assessment of the Bush White House in "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror," which is being released on Monday.

Here's the top graf in Carl Hulse's story, Debate Grows Over Bush's Handling of Terror Threat:
The accusations by Richard A. Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism specialist, that the Bush administration failed to take the threat of Al Qaeda seriously before Sept. 11 overtook other campaign developments on Sunday and promised to reverberate this week when the Sept. 11 commission conducts a public hearing.
Note that the story does not begin with the damning information that the White House actually tried to avoid going after Al Qaeda and instead exploit the situation to attack Iraq. The following paragraph goes immediately to:
The White House moved quickly to respond to the harsh criticism by Mr. Clarke and his account of how top White House advisers were fixated on Iraq. It issued a detailed rebuttal that said Mr. Bush had "specifically recognized the threat posed by Al Qaeda."
The Washington Post site has two items, both by Barton Gellman, one of which says it appears on page A1, and in contrast to the NYT articles, they concentrate on the response to 9/11 at the top rather than the pre-9/11 negligence. I didn't like the title, though - Memoir Criticizes Bush 9/11 Response, which suggests this is just a book review rather than the word of the man who was actually in charge of terrorism for the United States government. However, the top grafs do spell out the problem with Iraq:
On the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, according to a newly published memoir, President Bush wandered alone around the Situation Room in a White House emptied by the previous day's calamitous events.

Spotting Richard A. Clarke, his counterterrorism coordinator, Bush pulled him and a small group of aides into the dark paneled room.

"Go back over everything, everything," Bush said, according to Clarke's account. "See if Saddam did this."

"But Mr. President, al Qaeda did this," Clarke replied.

"I know, I know, but . . . see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred."

Reminded that the CIA, FBI and White House staffs had sought and found no such link before, Clarke said, Bush spoke "testily." As he left the room, Bush said a third time, "Look into Iraq, Saddam."

"Any shred."

(White House rebuttal.)

The other page is a transcript of an online discussion between washingtonpost.com, Gellman, and readers about the reaction in Washington to Clarke's charges. Here's a little bit of it:

Washington, D.C.: Are there any allegations in Mr. Clarke's book that have been specifically refuted? We are hearing plenty of vague, blanket dismissals of his claims, and suggestions of his political motives, but nothing on the substance of his argument.

Barton Gellman: Not clear if you mean refute or rebut. For the latter, the White House says, for instance, that Clarke is wrong to say Bush delayed use of the armed Predator drone to go after bin Laden. Administration says the drone just wasn't ready until at lease August or early September, so they didn't lose much time before 9/11. My reporting a long time ago (my producer, I think, will post the links) found that it could have flown by early spring, and that Clarke among others pushed hard for that. The administration hadn't decided its terror policy yet, and didn't force resolution to a Pentagon v. CIA dispute on who would be responsible for using and paying for the drone. (Not what you may think -- neither one wanted it.)

Arlington, Va.: Everyone blew off Paul O'Neill's book as the ravings of an old man. Do you think people will take another look at what he had to say in light of Clarke's book which sounds like it corroborates much of what O'Neill said.

Barton Gellman: I don't know about "everyone." His book got the sharply partisan responses that have become usual in American politics in recent years. O'Neill is generally seen as a fairly serious guy, who speaks his mind, and people agreed or disagreed mainly from their own political values and judgments. Where he and Clarke overlap is in asserting that the Bush team had made up its mind to invade Iraq long before 9/11. Clarke offers more documentation, because he was in more of those meetings.

I'm glad he picked up that distinction between "refute" and "rebut". I've noticed a lot of articles and public statements where (partisan or just lame) hacks treat any old responses by the White House as refutations when, in fact, no charges are ever properly answered at all, and when they seem to be getting direct answers, those answers turn out to be lies. There hasn't been a single refutation yet, to this or any other charges. A denial is not a refutation. And neither is a non-denial denial.
23:49 GMT

Maniacs & Lying Liars - again and again

The big news, of course, is Richard Clarke's book tour, which has involved a number of fascinating interviews, including on 60 Minutes last night. Atrios and Josh Marshall have both been covering this, and at the moment it all seems so devastating that the only question some people have is whether the other side will manage to smear Clarke effectively or just crash his plane.

The blow-out revelation is that the administration was told on the day that Al Qaeda was responsible and Iraq had nothing to do with it, and yet they refused to accept this information and kept demanding further investigation to find an Iraq connection.

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'
So it's absolutely clear: Our intelligence experts were all correct in their assessment, and the White House itself refused to accept their judgment.

Atrios finds a neat summing-up from Steve Gilliard:

If Richard Clarke is right, and there is every reason to think he is, the US was days, if not hours, away from letting Osama Bin Laden get away with murder.
[...]
Perle and Wolfwowitz, despite all available evidence, would have let Osama sit in Afghanistan untouched just to get Saddam. The fact that no state would have ever launched a 9/11 attack and not expect a B-2 response was beyond them.
[My emphasis.]

Let's keep this in mind, and it's really simple: the Bush response to 9/11 would have let Osama get away with murder, killing thousands of innocent people. Only the professionals of the CIA and FBI prevented this insanity. When Bush was told that "you'll lose the whole world", was he prevented from attacking Iraq.

Temporarily. But, ultimately, they thought they could lie their way past that, too. And when it didn't work, it was everyone else's fault, of course - the French are "our enemy", "Old Europe" is out of touch, etc. Josh Marshall on the Clarke interview:
One chilling note in this passage is that Paul Wolfowitz, the prime architect and idea man of the second Iraq war, spent the early months of the Bush administration focused on "Iraqi terrorism against the United States", something that demonstrably did not even exist. A rather bad sign.
[...]
That screw up is a reality -- their inability to come clean about it is, I suspect, is at the root of all the covering up and stonewalling of the 9/11 commission. And Democrats are both right and within their rights to call the White House on it. But screw-ups happen; mistakes happen. What is inexcusable is the inability, indeed the refusal, to learn from them.

Rather than adjust to this different reality, on September 12th, the Bush war cabinet set about using 9/11 -- exploiting it, really -- to advance an agenda which had, in fact, been largely discredited by 9/11. They shoe-horned everything they'd been trying to do before the attacks into the new boots of 9/11. And the fit was so bad they had to deceive the public and themselves to do it.

As the international relations expert John Ikenberry noted aptly in a recent essay, the Bush hardliners "fancy themselves tough-minded thinkers. But they didn't have the courage of their convictions to level with the American people on what this geopolitical adventure in Iraq was really about and what it would cost."

An RNC talking-point is that Clarke has spilled the beans on the White House because of sour grapes after being demoted. The Stepford Press, naturally, is carrying water for them, as usual, as Atrios notes:
Stahl thinks the important issue is that Clarke's demotion may have caused him to throw a hissy fit. I think the important issue is the fact that when the Bush administration came into power, they decided that the position of National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism wasn't important enough to be a Cabinet level position.
One of the most scandalous actions of the administration, which I have referred to on several occasions, was that they pulled the FBI off of Al Qaeda as soon as they got into office. The press scandal is that this has not been treated as headline news, as it should have been immediately, certainly after 9/11. Atrios briefly notes what he calls Operation Ignore:
Newsweek has learned that in the months before 9/11, the U.S. Justice Department curtailed a highly classified program called "Catcher's Mitt" to monitor Al Qaeda suspects in the United States, after a federal judge severely chastised the FBI for improperly seeking permission to wiretap terrorists. During the Bush administration's first few months in office, Attorney General John Ashcroft downgraded terrorism as a priority, choosing to place more emphasis on drug trafficking and gun violence, report Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff and Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas in the March 29 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, March 22).
It's nice that Newsweek has finally learned something I've been talking about for more than two years. And remember, this was all going on at a time of heightened awareness of an impending attack by Al Qaeda. They had been warned by the Clinton administration, bin Laden had gone on radio with threats, allied intel was sending alerts, and John Ashcroft was switching to chartered flights rather than flying commercially. (Oh, and Bush went on a month-long vacation.)

And then the towers fell, and then they apparently went into paralysis because they couldn't get our intelligence people to support the fantasy that Iraq was responsible. And then, having bombed Afghanistan even though they really wanted to bomb Iraq, they decided not to let it go, and started making up lies to get us in, and then lies to cover their lies. Guess who's the latest defender of the regency:

PHILADELPHIA, PA: On CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on Sunday, Sen. Arlen Specter told America that the Bush Administration NEVER CLAIMED a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
It has always baffled me that Arlen Specter once had a reputation (and still has it among some people) for some kind of hard-nosed integrity. On almost every opportunity that I've had to observe this man in action, he's demonstrated something considerably lower than those qualities.

But never mind, this is just one bit-player in the grand play before us at the moment. The administration changes its story every ten minutes and they've always got the chorus coming in behind them to "straighten it out". The truth, as Atrios shows, is that the administration based a considerable portion of its case for invasion on a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda and Iraqi participation in 9/11 - a connection that many soldiers currently serving in the Gulf still believe is why they are there.

Now, it would be too much to expect some individuals to ever admit that they have had the wool pulled over their eyes by maniacs and liars, but I'm still kind of ticked off at the people who once supported the invasion but now, having realized they fell for a sucker-play, think the reason folks like me could put 1+1 together to get 2 were able to do so - when they couldn't - only because we "hate Bush" and therefore wouldn't have believed him even if what he was saying had been obviously true and as plain as the nose on my face.

That is, if Bush had been saying, "1+1=2," we would all have instantly turned around and said that, no, it equals six, or seven, or something else.

Yes, I've beefed about this a couple of times before, but I'm not done with it, yet. It irritates me that these people who think they are being "moderate" and "reasonable" still think they can dismiss the clarity of others who were sharper than they were as some kind of insanity.

Let's get this straight, oh Moderate Matt and Cool-headed Kevin, you guys were the ones who suffered temporary insanity. And we weren't. Even as the towers were falling, we never forgot that one plus one still equals two.

Richard Clarke has only provided the details of what we already knew - what has always been known.

  • It has always been known that bin Laden hated Saddam and that there was no common cause between them.
  • It has always been known that Iraq had absolutely no reason to launch a 9/11 and had many, many good reasons to want nothing to do with any such thing.
  • It has always been known that the Bush administration are liars. They were lying from at least the moment Bush received the Republican nomination, on the record and in front of God and everyone.

If someone has been lying to me consistently, why should I believe them when they are now telling me something that is obviously not true?

The attack on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 changed none of these things. It did not mean "everything had changed." It did not suddenly mean Saddam had inexplicably become suicidal. It did not make George W. Bush into the brave man of integrity he had never been in his life and had certainly proven on 9/11 he was still not, as he hid on Airforce One and scuttled away at a time when he should have been leading his nation.

What changed for you on 9/11? Did you learn that terrorism existed?

It was something I already knew. I have said this before and I will say it again: I have sat in my home and felt my house shake from the force of a bomb in the Docklands area. I have mourned the destruction of the atmospheric warrens of Camden Town, a favorite wandering-place for me. I've thanked my luck when I just missed being in a department store that was bombed at a time when I had originally planned to be shopping there.

And I've watched the over-reaction of a government that seemed to think it could eliminate terrorism with restrictions on civil liberties that only provoked further terrorism. (And which, not incidentally, gave the police opportunities to abuse favorite targets who had nothing to do with terrorism. Or, as one taxi driver remarked ironically to me, "Did you ever know there were so many black people in the IRA?")

On 9/11 I watched the buildings fall over and over on my screen and could feel my nightmare unfold before me. Not everything had changed, not yet - but it was about to. And you let it.

Meanwhile... Bush called for unity over Iraq. Got your unity right here.
16:47 GMT


Sunday, 21 March 2004

Blogarithm

Housekeeping note: Elayne Riggs wrote to let me know that the RSS feed from Blogmatrix no longer seems to be working. I haven't got the replacement together yet, but I'm seeking advice.

Josh Marshall has a smart post up about some campaign missteps by Kerry. Someone needs to tell him that he can't be on vacation at all between now and November. And right now he needs to be playing hard to make sure the Republicans don't get a chance to define him. This is what fighting is all about, and this is what Democrats were furious at the Gore team for not doing. Kerry and his surrogates have to be in there all the time to make sure there is a response to every slur. And there's plenty to respond with. As Josh says: The winning campaign against the president is equally clear. He doesn't tell the truth. Almost nothing he has told the American people has turned out to be true (from budgets to jobs, from wmds to his personal past). In many cases, that's because he's lied to them. In others, it's because he's promised things he had no reason to believe were true. In some instances, he just failed to deliver. And Josh rightly points out that the "credibility" issue in the Bush campaign amounts to: "Vote Bush: When Dangers Threaten, You Know He'll Go Berserk!"

Watch the video of Eric Alterman's segment on the Dennis Miller show. For those unfamiliar with Miller's reputation, such unprofessional behavior may be surprising. Best thing, though, is that Alterman responds exactly the way he should: "Is that the best you can do?"

Oliver Willis says The Culture War Is Over.

Mark Fiore: School Daze

Register to be included in Zogby polling.

Work-safe porn (Via Epicycle.)
18:55 GMT


Doing the work

This post is from the Bartcop Forum, posted by Jody B:

I Want To Talk About Platform & No Child Left Behind

Today I attended a district platform committee meeting in Iowa's southeast district. I volunteered to work on the Education Sub-Committee. There was a college administrator in attendance, a kindergarten teacher, a school librarian and me. I said that our convention had voted for a repeal of the No Child Left Behind Act. The administrator said, "Let's be realistic. That's not going to happen." Well when we had sifted through the platforms from thirteen of the counties represented, seven of them had a Plank about the Repeal of the No Child Left Behind Act. I let the committee bat the subject around until the librarian finally asked me what I thought about the subject.

I said, if you guys so choose, there are three of you and one of me, but I came here to represent my constituents for voting for a repeal of the No Child Left Behind Act. In my hometown of 23,000, we have our one and only high school and one of our elementary schools on the at-risk list. If we lose our high school funding, we would be looking for area schools to transfer over a thousand high school students to. Since we are the largest town in Wapello Co., that means we would be trying to divide those students between the five school districts closest to us, and those communities are a third to half the size of ours. I'm standing behind my convention's decision to endorse a plank for a repeal of the No Child Left Behind Act."

Well, to my utter amazement, the debate stopped, and the rest of my committee members agreed to support the 'Repeal' plank as I had written it.

I am hoping that there are others of you out there who will take an aggressive stand on this subject as well. Eventually, Congress is going to have to hear us, folks. Just keep talking to them. Don't let up, and stand by your convictions.

To me, trying to fix it is like trying to fix a house that was built on sinking sand. No matter how much we attempt to shore it up, it's never going to be a solid, reliable house to live in. We need Congress to go back to the drawing board and come up with something realistic that can actually be implemented, something professional educators have had input on, and something with a fair evaluation process.

Facing these issues head-on is the only way to deal with them - this is a program that cannot work to do what it purports to do, and there is no point in pretending otherwise. This is a fine example of someone who is in a position to work for change and simply getting down and doing the business.

And this post in the same thread provides some needed background for what the program does and why it can't work - not least because it is not designed to work, but to destroy public education.
11:40 GMT


Saturday, 20 March 2004

Headlines from the news sites

The age of the universe
Why Hubble was killed

A few items from Democrats.com:

Condi Caught in Lie to Cover White House Failure to Remove bin Laden before 9/11
In an interview with Lisa Myers of NBC this week, Condi Rice went on record with an easily provable lie. She claims one reason Osama Bin Laden wasn't taken out in the summer or early autumn of 2001 before the 9/11 disaster is because the armed Predator surveillance craft - which had had OBL in its sights - was not operational. But according to several sources, this is a lie. The "Washington Post" reported: "On September 15, 2001, CIA Director Tenet tells Bush, 'The unmanned Predator surveillance aircraft that was now armed with Hellfire missiles had been operating for more than a year out of Uzbekistan to provide real-time video of Afghanistan.'"
[See also link and link]

Condi Rice Continues to Slither Out of Testifying to 9/11 Panel to Avoid Lying to Protect Bush
"The federal panel reviewing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks disclosed its witness list yesterday for its two-day hearing on counterterrorism next week. But the list omits one invited official: national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. She has repeatedly declined on the advice of the White House, citing separation of power concerns. Commission officials haven't ruled out a possible subpoena." There is only one possible reason that Rice insists on slithering out of testifying: She is hiding the explosive truth and would be forced, by testifying to either lie and open herself up to a huge perjury charge, or tell the truth and bring down the White House.
[link]

The headline of the original of this story is self-explanitory: US tried to plant WMDs, failed: whistleblower

Some low-bandwidth links from The Smirking Chimp:

Bush Medicare reform bill become a nightmare for GOP, from The Miami Herald.

Jeff Softley: 'Sean Hannity has a small....' is really an article intended to "illustrate the manner in which the Republicans use strategic, repetitive rhetoric - which often bears zero relation to the truth - to shape public perception."
20:36 GMT


I saw this

This is the weirdest-looking photo from a lingerie catalogue I've ever seen. Never mind that it's not lingerie, but it looks like that woman has a science fictional disease.

Kevin Hayden sent me links for two personal weblogs by a woman who also does it in pinks. She doesn't give her name. I've looked at one of them, Prose and Cons. She takes pictures as well as posting other images she likes. This amusing item is one she found elsewhere, but don't miss her photo of breaking waves. She's not a bad writer, either.
20:21 GMT


Friday, 19 March 2004

A site to play at

I was just cruising around at Biomesblog and found this picture and zillions of neat links. Here are just a few:

Tasteful white frog

The world's most fannish house

The Barcode Clock

VCR Clock

Google in Klingon

A new presidential candidate

The Democratic Candidates and their Cartoon Equivalents

Go there and find more.
19:16 GMT


Affirmative action

Atrios has the skinny on the bust of a USA Today reporter busted for making stuff up. There are some eerie parallels - in fact - with what was said about the Jayson Blair case. The difference is that people trusted this guy because he was an evangelical Christian.
18:51 GMT


Boy, is irony ever NOT DEAD

Patrick has found a humdinger about how - get this - liberals love conspiracy theories, and says:

You can understand why this particular writer is interested in cutting off talk about "foul play and dirty tricks," seeing as he's Oliver North.
At Electrolite.
18:34 GMT

Scoundrels

Jack is spot-on here:

Imagine, if you will, the Labour party introducing a resolution in the House of Commons saluting the Iraqi people and brave British Troops and declaring the world to now be a safer place because of the stalwart effort of Tony Blair and his party and passing it within a hundred hours of a terrorist attack in...oh, say, Boston...that left 1200 dead and over 6000 injured. That is the equivalent hypothetical comparison to what the House Republicans did yesterday. It was a simple partisan exercise designed to give neither comfort to the Iraqi people nor actual tangible support to the troops (you know, things like sufficient body armor or humvee armor or - in some instances - decent garrison facilities to make their one-year deployment somewhat more bearable), but instead geared to fostering Republican electoral prospects.
Read the rest at RuminateThis
18:25 GMT

Seen in Blogtopia
(Yes! I know who created that word!)

Kevin Drum is now getting paid to blog by The Washington Monthly, so he's doing all his political posting there, now. He did not approve of Tom Friedman accusing the Spanish of appeasement. Many comments ensued.

But before he started his new gig, he did this post at CalPundit in which he mentions Donald Rumsfeld repeating the claim that the UN inspectors were not in Iraq. This seems to be a current administration talking point, weirdly. And I think it's something that should be pounded - why does the administration keep claiming that Saddam never allowed the inspectors into Iraq? Are we really supposed to have mass amnesia on this? Did Hans Blix actually exist? Write to your favorite member of the White House press corps and tell them to ask this question. At least it'll be another opportunity to make Scottie dance.

Max remembers when the terrorists supported Reagan. (Much more in the October Surprise files.) Also, on outsourcing: The bottom line: criticism of unregulated capitalism is not an obstacle to Progress. It is progress. And how to fix it. Plus: economics and the Spanish election result explained for InstaIdiots.

Scalia claims he practically wasn't there at all!

Thom Hartmann says There is no such thing as a "free market". He also says that, The "middle class" is the creation of government intervention in the marketplace, and won't exist without it (as millions of Americans and Europeans are discovering). A good article explaining why liberals are right.

Drug War Rant, a good article from The Denver Post on the drug war quagmire.

Hey, look, a blog from Kentucky!

Scoobie Davis on Limbaugh's Hate Speech Against Kerry and the Democrats and The Crooked, Lying Group: A Case Study.

Watch the ads from Media Fund that explain what Bush has done for jobs and for the American Dream.
18:10 GMT


World of wars

Kathryn Cramer has been all over that plane full of mercenaries that was detained in Zimbabwe, tracking it's history and owners. Hmmm.

If you didn't read Kerry's speech, "Protecting Our Military Families in Times of War" when Atrios posted the link, have a look now. We all know how Bush has been abusing our troops, but there are things mentioned in that speech that even I hadn't heard about. I read stuff like this and I get outraged all over again. (But not enough that I don't wish he'd let me edit it first.)

Nat Parry, Bush's Iraq Getaway: The key now for George W. Bush is to manage a political escape from his mugging of a fundamental precept of democracy - an informed electorate - and still win a second term. To achieve that, Bush has employed some tried-and-true tactics, like hand-picking a presidential commission that will report on his use of intelligence after the November elections. But most importantly, he is still trusting that the U.S. news media is incapable of sustaining much scrutiny. Among other things, a quick refresher course in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq as it began in January of 2001, with plenty of background on the much longer history of Republican deceit and betrayal.
00:55 GMT


Thursday, 18 March 2004

Holy warriors

Atrios has excerpted an excellent James Pinkerton article that considers a more realistic approach to terrorism, but here's something he didn't quote:

To be sure, the PP said it went to Iraq to help promote peace, but Spain's intervention had "war of civilizations" written all over it. Many Spanish troops serving in Iraq, for example, wore an arm patch depicting the Cross of St. James of Compostela. That insignia commemorates the Battle of Clavijo in 844. According to legend, the Apostle St. James the Elder came down from the sky and killed every Moor - as Muslims were then called - in his path. Ever since, St. James has been called "Santiago Matamoros," St. James the Moor Killer.

In July, the Madrid newspaper El Mundo warned: "To put the Cross of St. James of Compostela on the uniforms of Spanish soldiers demonstrates an absolute ignorance of the psychology of the society in which they will have to carry out their mission."

Boy, is that ever understating the case. Because you don't need to know much about "the psychology of the society" in question, you just have to think about walking into any society with soldiers wearing symbols that specifically spit on their beliefs. Soldiers? Hell, imagine sending even disaster-relief workers into some flooded town in America if they're all wearing armbands with inverted crosses and Satanic mottos emblazoned on them and ask whether that would leave a nasty taste on the palates of the local populace. And that's just assuming that all those Satanists did was straight-up disaster-relief. Let a few of them point guns at the locals and man are you asking for it!

The really alien psychology here isn't that of Muslims who remember St. James the Moor-killer too well, it's that of leaders - in Spain and in America - who deliberately use provocative language and symbols to alert the Muslims we are ostensibly "liberating" to the fact that our ruling parties are hostile to them and we hate their religion. No, more than that - that, while we say we are coming to liberate you, we are actually making war on your entire culture.

What else can explain the Cross of St. James? Who thought it would be a good idea for Bush to say we were embarking on a "crusade"? What earthly good can such a show of contempt ever do?

One of the most clever impediments the Republicans have set up for their opponents to deal with is the continuing conundrum of whether their leadership is clueless or just ... well, deliberately embarked on a program of evil criminality. Reagan was visibly suffering from Alzheimer's, of course, but was his whole administration? No one really believes that George H.W. Bush was "out of the loop", but as long as you can't prove otherwise (because he pardoned everyone before they had to testify), nothing is ever on the record.

But this administration has got to be the most spectacular example of arrested development I've ever seen in an entire group of supposedly functional adults - and I'm saying this as someone who worked with rock musicians in the '60s. Whatever it means to be "the grown-ups", this definitely is not it. (And at least those guys in the '60s had the excuse of being teenagers or very young adults who were on drugs, you know?)

They're brash, they're rash, and frankly even if they are embarked on a program of deliberate criminality, it's hard to avoid the feeling that they don't know what the hell they're doing. But you don't have to be that smart, or that "mature", to know that all this "culture wars" and "war of civilizations" stuff is just plain crazy.
17:12 GMT


Media Bias

Media Concentration--The Silent Killer of Democracy is particularly interesting because it is a blog post on Alex Alben's campaign blog, and there aren't too many people running for Congress who are talking about this issue. (Via Atrios.)

Audiences for US journalists decline: Only 5% of stories on cable news contain new information, the report found. Most were simply rehashes of the same facts. There was also less fact checking than in the past and less policing of journalistic standards.

From FAIR, One Year Later, Sunday Shows Short on Iraq Critics. FAIR provides e-mail addresses for ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and Fox News Sunday and advises you to write.

Lead Balloons at Bad Attitudes says that ABC's The Note has been exhibiting a lack of fairness: Having played a leading and egregious role in the media tear-down of Big Howard Dean, ABC News's The Note has decided that what America needs most right now is for ABC News to tear down John the Warrior by highlighting the president's criticisms of Kerry without providing equal time to the responses of Kerry's defenders.
10:33 GMT


Early morning media

The Farmer has an interesting post up at Corrente considering a bit of back-and-forth between Pat Buchanan and Chris Matthews on Kerry's statements about atrocities in Vietnam. Lambert thinks outsourcing hasn't gone far enough. And are the Republican spinmeisters laying the groundwork to cancel the election?

Getting Tough with the Press.

Bartcop recently mentioned something called Maroon Bells and said it was one of the most photographed things in the world. I did a quick Google and found some of those photos.

Jon Stewart with the bottom line on gay marriage. (Worth the wait to load.)
01:17 GMT


Wednesday, 17 March 2004

Calling them out

Molly Ivins: How much fun can one administration have? More dead GIs. New record trade deficit. Stock market plunge. Defeated ally in Spain. New Spanish prime minister says the occupation in Iraq is a "continuing disaster" and he's pulling his troops out. Still no jobs. And then the guy who was supposed to be the new jobs czar turns out to have laid off 75 of his own workers while building a $3 million factory in China to employ 165 Chinese people.

You can have it both ways, says Josh Marshall, responding to Andrew Sullivan's claim that the Spanish election result was a victory for bin Laden: Just because you've inflamed or emboldened your enemies doesn't mean you've used the most effective means of attacking them. Indeed, quite the opposite can be true. Also, some polling results, from Iraq and the US.

The Pinocchio presidency by former ambassador Joe Wilson, who says Bushista lies are due for some hammering.

Paul Krugman says George Bush is in no position to call anyone else Weak on Terror. The truth is that Mr. Bush, while eager to invoke 9/11 on behalf of an unrelated war, has shown consistent reluctance to focus on the terrorists who actually attacked America, or their backers in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. That's the issue that's bugged me since the idea of bombing Kabul first came up. Not that I didn't like the idea of bringing down the Taliban, but the madrasses are in Pakistan, and the moneyed promoters of Wahabism are the leaders of Saudi Arabia. Iraq was such an obvious irrelevancy that I was frankly astonished that anyone ever took it seriously.
14:17 GMT


Creeps

John at Sore Eyes is understandably speechless after reading yet another example of the creepiness of Home Secretary David Blunkett, quoting this article:

On Tuesday, Blunkett will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than £3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldn't have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets.
And then there's this post with a sample of responses to the question: "What is the most insane thing your boss has ever said to you?" I think my favorite is: "Please try not to read too much into the fact that your job is being advertised in the paper this week."

Stepford Whistle-blower: Hesiod reports that: Now the fuckers are saying that John kerry ignored a warning about lax security at Logan airport in 2001, which directly led to (ta! da!) the 9/11 attacks! But in an update, Hesiod finds an interview with the author of the piece from September 16, 2001, in which he credited Kerry with having done the right thing. Hmmm.

Ginger says: The sort of thing mentioned in this Chronk editorial is why I laughed my ass off at the idea that Chuck Rosenthal botched his anti-sodomy argument in front of the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas because he's secretly gay-sympathetic. It's not that I think his continued refusal to treat an innocent man like an innocent man associates him with anti-gay bigotry, it's that his pedantic insistence that the accuser must be made to feel good leaves me thinking that he has no idea that justice is law tempered by mercy.
03:00 GMT


A PSA from Atrios

Important enough to quote a significant part of this one:

But, having said that the situation in Illinois provides a wonderful lesson about why the Democratic party organizations, and not just the candidates themselves, need money. The presumed Democratic candidate flamed out spectacularly after some nasty information about his past came to light. Fortunately, this happened before the primary. These kinds of things can happen at any time in the election cycle. Something can happen, a candidate can stumble - either ours or theirs - and only the party organizations are in a position to capitalize on the shifting campaign fortunes by placing money strategically. Only they can really make a sudden money drop into a race when it might matter.

It's this flexibility and ability to look at the entire campaign picture which makes them an essential part of the process. Every Democrat is trying to get elected, but only the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC are focused entirely on the bigger picture goal of winning majorities in the House and Senate.

I try to limit the fundraising begging here as much as possible. But, our side needs money. Feed them turkee, and they will grow stronger. With strength comes confidence, and with confidence victory. I'm tired of reading news reports about how poor the Democrats are, and how behind they are in fundraising.

So, if the mood strikes - throw some nickles to:

The DNC

The DSCC

The DCCC

And, if you're not in the mood to donate you can just go and read their weblogs. Kicking Ass is the DNC's, From the Roots is the DSCC's, and The Stakeholder is the DCCC's.

Do what he said.
00:35 GMT

Tuesday, 16 March 2004

Chewy bits

John Kerry's call for monthly debates with Bush is lovely, underlining the fact that, of course, Bush couldn't possibly do it. Condi Rice says Bush is too busy - and it's true, he can hardly find time to memorize his campaign talking points well enough to make them fly with his hand-picked pro-Bush audiences. (Well, except for the ones who don't speak English.) Every time he does anything public these days he embarrasses himself, and this time the press isn't quite as willing to cover for him as they once were. If even Russert - and it's not just Russert - is starting to press the administration on their numerous lies and inconsistencies, Bush is in very big trouble indeed. I'd love to see Kerry hammer the point at least thrice weekly that George Bush doesn't dare debate his lousy policies before the public. Refusing to debate didn't do his father much good, I seem to recall.

Just let the GOP try and replace Cheney on the ticket with Giuliani and watch the fur fly. Rudy's credentials as the hero of 9/11 won't look so good once people are reminded of how he was responsible for the communications breakdown for first-responders on the day - negligence that cost many people their lives. (Here's Breslin's original article.)

All your questions answered, about the Holy Underwear, the Secret Handshakes, and - oh, Moroni's Homepage. (Plus! Sing along with Moroni.)

Drunken Polish nuns on tractors (via August J. Pollak )
23:33 GMT


If/then

From Tarek at The Liquid List, a look at the shape of things:

I've been saying for so long now that with so many of our actions in the United States, we've been handing victories to our presumptive enemies in this war on terrorism. We've been cowed into a shaky state of constant fear, not by the terrorists who attacked us one day, but by the klaxon fearmongering of our leaders day after day, whose true leadership doesn't appear to have anything to do with the safety of the American public at all. When one citizen lost his rights, and then another, it became beyond ironic to say, "then the terrorists will have won," because I began to believe it. I still do, but at least something marginally sane is beginning to take shape, and these citizens will have something like a day in court. (No free access to counsel or due process of law yet, but at least their lawyers can tell them, on DoD videotape, that their cases are going to the Supreme Court.)
Tarek is right: If we allow minorities of our country's residents and citizens to lose their Constitutional rights, if we allow our lives to be ruled by fear, then the terrorists have accomplished exactly what they set out to do. That's why they call it "terrorism", you know - the point is to terrorize. 9/11 gave us horror, but it is the Bush administration itself that has created the climate of fear. When our own government colludes by encouraging us to feel fearful while actually giving dissenters and some ethnic and religious minorities something to fear from them, the populace has indeed been terrorized.

We are fortunate in that some of the apparatus of civil libertarian activism still exists in the US despite 30 years of clever and well-funded attacks on liberalism from the right. Though we are weakened by those attacks and by divisions into "libertarian", "liberal", and "leftist" camps, some progress has been made in fighting back against fear-mongering and hysterical legislation that has been falling on our heads since September of 2001.

Every generation seems to have its watershed events, or movements, when we believe we can permanently change history, when the sins of the past will never trouble us again. And then the next, when we learn, finally, that no such thing can ever happen, and that complacency is forever unacceptable. It's why Dale Spender made an entire book out of the insight that there had always been a women's liberation movement throughout the 20th century, telling readers that each iteration of the WLM started off thinking they were the first to recognize and fight women's inequality, to then learn that they had had predecessors, and to believe that this time things were different and that there would be no need for a later movement. And then, to make the same mistakes, to face the same failures. (The term "feminazi" should come as no surprise to those who remember Shulamith Firestone's chapter on "the 50-year ridicule" of the suffrage movement.)

World War II and the discovery of the camps and the final solution were also a watershed event, and we all believed we would "never forget", that we would watch for the signs of encroaching fascism and stop them before they spread. "Never again," we said, and we believed it. And for many years the survivors of Nazi Germany themselves were indeed vigilant, fighting for civil liberties even for people they despised, demanding that the promise of the Bill of Rights be kept. But look how easy it has suddenly become to forget, to allow the mine to be strewn with dead canaries.

It's why I keep repeating that tired old phrase that takes so long for people to genuinely absorb, that the price of liberty is for-goddamn-sure eternal vigilance, and it's not just "the government" or "the corporations" or "the powerful" you have to watch out for; it's also your neighbors, and yourself. Complacency, arrogance, and fear can and will co-opt the living hell out of you.

This is an important moment in history. It won't be the end of history, even if we win. It won't be the day we can at last breathe a sigh of relief and decide we never have to worry about this stuff again. But it's a moment when we can make the choice to fight to keep America, and maybe retain the ability to keep fighting for it - or lose this wonderful experiment.

(While you're at TLL, you might want to see how Oliver is doing with his experiment of immersing himself in right-wing newsmedia. And don't miss the Public Service Announcement that explains how George W. Bush is too liberal for America.)

[A shorter version of this article has been posted to DailyNewsOnline - which, remember, has comments.]
04:34 GMT


So much to read...

From Talk Left: Lethal injection is not humane, tough sentencing policies don't reduce crime, making life miserable for prison inmates doesn't reduce crime, a drug law under attack - from its author, and an example of everything that's wrong with the system.

Matt Yglesias doesn't know what "socialism" means. We used to put tax money into most of the things he's talking about, and no one called it "socialism" in those days. And it wouldn't be "socialism" to use taxes to pay for universal healthcare. It would just be facing reality.

Billmon's readers respond to a push-poll with poll questions of their own.

Via Atrios, would you believe H. R. 3920: To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court.

The hot gay scene in Saudi Arabia (Via Silt)

Max takes on the libertarians over Social Security: The rights you recognize determine the side you're on. And democracy works - somewhere, at least.

A Clever Sheep received a forward from an aunt (we all know how that is), with an interesting response by a Rabbi to the question of whether he would recommend seeing Mel Gibson's movie.
03:38 GMT


Monday, 15 March 2004

Things to read

GOTV says eVoting, the menace spreads, and quotes an article warning that electronic voting is being introduced in the European Union elections - and, of course, there is already at least one group fighting to alert people to the danger.

Consortium News asks, Which Way on Election 2004? George W. Bush's argument for a second term boils down to "trust me, I know what I'm doing." John Kerry is faced with trickier message: does he play it safe and go for a narrow majority or will he raise the stakes and bid for a breakthrough Democratic victory.

Atrios has been doing a lot of great writing on a variety of issues lately, not just the unexplained links. And he's right, The New York Times has no excuse for their sloppy and way too administration-friendly response to events with regard to Spain.

Who laundered Bush's military records? That seems to be the question, since there are papers that should have been with his records that simply aren't there. Removal of those records is a serious crime. So somebody has a lot of questions to answer - questions the press seems unwilling to ask, unfortunately. David Neiwert has the goods at Orcinus.
20:18 GMT


Media Notes

Take Back The Media

On-demand truth radio from TBTM

Stern Partially Silenced, Defended by Congressman:

Howard Stern was partially silenced today - by himself. The King of All Media signed on this morning with a montage of radio station promos and soundbites from Talk shows and government officials speaking about the raging debate over indecency. The dramatic audio collage was laced with snippets fom protest songs, like Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," Bob Marley & The Wailers' "Get Up, Stand Up," Thunderclap Newman's "Something In The Air" and Stern's own remix of KoRn's "Y'All Want A Single."
[...]
The opening marathon montage included audio from a speech by NY Congressman Josť E. Serrano from yesterday's debate prior to the House vote. "The big question on this bill is 'Why now?' There are enough laws in place and regulations to deal with this issue," Serrano said. "I feel that some of the good, well-intentioned members have been caught up in this desire to all of a sudden clear up the airwaves. I believe it is a distraction. It is a weapon of mass distraction to keep us away from the real issues at hand. The fact is, that this part of my opinion of the continuing thinking of the Patriot Act, the philosophy of the Patriot Act, that says we will read your e-mails, we will find out what you take out from the library. We will hold you in detention without charges or a lawyer and we will then tell you what you can listen to on the radio. Now, let's understand something, the target here is coming from the political and religious right and it is directed only at that which they think is bad, anti-American, or indecent. Right-wing radio which demonizes liberals, minorities, environmentalists, pro-choice and animal rights activists, they are fine, they will not be touched. And let me for the record say, I support their right to say whatever they want about me and other liberals.

"The main target these days is Howard Stern," Serrano continued. "What does Howard Stern have to do with this issue and the political agenda? For years, he supported the administration on the war. He supported the administration on capital punishment. He supported the administration on just about everything. The last couple of months he has had a change of heart and started opposing the war, opposing the opposition to [stem cell] research, opposing the opposition to pro-choice and all of a sudden, he's in deeper trouble than he has ever been in before. How else can we explain that the day before his bosses, Clear Channel, were to face a congressional committee, they fired him from six markets throughout this country? The FCC has been complaining about his locker humor jokes for years. Some people have suggested that he was not in good taste for years. But now the big bang to get him off the air? Was he okay when he was supporting the administration? How did Clear Channel decide to knock out its number one money maker one day before facing Congress? I wish I was the telephone company and could have heard those phone calls coming in with the political pressure. My friends, this is a dangerous time. This bill should be defeated. If for no other reason to send a message that there is something larger here at work than simply something you don't like. What I don't like, may be something you like and vice versa. The best protection we have is not this bill. Just turn the channel, switch the station."

Stern also said this morning that ABC put in a request for FCC Chairman Michael Powell to be a guest on his first interview show. The reply was a curt: "We thank you for your invitation. We regretfully decline your interview request at this time."

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a massive letter-writing campaign to Powell and to Clear Channel from people saying that Howard Stern is not what is indecent about Clear Channel?
16:32 GMT

Culture clash

Free Howard Stern (and don't miss the fabulous "Free Stern Anthem").

The Elitism Myth: That's the mystery of the United States, circa 2004. Thanks to the rightward political shift of the past 30 years, wealth is today concentrated in fewer hands than it has been since the 1920s; workers have less power over the conditions under which they toil than ever before in our lifetimes; and the corporation has become the most powerful actor in our world. Yet that rightward shift-still going strong to this day-sells itself as a war against elites, a righteous uprising of the little guy against an obnoxious upper class.

Reasons not to like John McCain: He's terrible on social security privatization, and most importantly, foreign policy -- he's a full-fledged neocon, closely associated with Project for the New American Century's Bill Kristol. Not to mention the fact that he's said that Bush deserves to be re-elected.

Macadamia has been checking out the OED appeals. Would you believe they can't source the term "gaffer tape" earlier than 1988? (Hm, maybe they should look for "gaffer's tape", which is how I always heard it used. But, of course, that was way back in the '60s.)

Lord of the Ring: The Musical

Frequently Asked Questions
04:04 GMT


Dammit

Moshe phoned to tell me that Jon White died early Friday morning. It was a shock, as it always is, even though he had been sickly for as long as I've known him and in truth it's a surprise that he lasted this long. There's not much online about him but he published Riverside Quarterly and he was a really sweet guy and I'm sorry I'm never going to see him again. He was 57.
02:00 GMT


Blogosphere

The Rude Pundit pulls no punches with an absolutely scathing indictment of Shifty George, prez of a country he can't even pronounce the name of.

StoutDem says: KILL IT BEFORE IT GROWS: "Politicians who spark a culture war for the sake of their own power are playing with fire, and journalists who exploit a culture war for the sake of its unleashed furies are throwing gasoline on the flames.

The Spanish have demonstrated that they are serious about terrorism, and Jim Henley has a question.

Here it says: The City of Miami has been relieved of its authority to decline to issue permits for public demonstrations until such time as they can demonstrate to a Federal Court that they've finally grasped the First Amendment. If Miami would like not to issue a permit, they must now ask the court's permission to do so, documenting their justification for such an act. And some citizen action on that pesky little problem of partisan campaigning on tax-payer-funded .gov websites.

Why Bush thinks his failures are successes

Bad Attitudes: ...America today (this blog included) greeted the butchering of 200 Spaniards and the wounding of 1,500 more basically with a yawn. [...] Terrorists are not stupid: they will see now, if they didn't before, that nothing short of mass slaughter on American soil will get America to look up from our fried foods. [...] America's total apathy to anything but a nuclear fireworks show with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background makes getting rid of Shifty George all the more important, because he sucks at fighting terrorism.

One for our team: Another ad: Reframing September 11th (Via Ezra Klein)
01:42 GMT


Sunday, 14 March 2004

Simon Hoggart's diary

I missed this last week, but this tells you what kind of guy the Home Secretary really is:

The other day David Blunkett came in for some mockery in the Indian papers, because he said he'd always wanted to see the Taj Mahal. And I've noticed that in the Commons sometimes he'll say something like, "I see the hon. member is very agitated." I sought an explanation from one of his friends, who said "David doesn't actually realise he is blind." Which is why, as a youth, he complained to the BBC about naked bodies on television.
He complained about naked bodies on television? Jeez.

Meanwhile, go read the rest of the column, and discover the context for this:

It was one of those moments when you expect to wake up and suddenly shout to your wife: "My god, I've just had the weirdest dream! I was having bacon and eggs with David Frost and John Major and Joan Bakewell and Moira Stuart and suddenly David Frost said ..." But it wasn't a dream.
But I have no trouble imagining this, actually. David Frost says a lot of weird things, and honestly, this is by no means the weirdest.
16:30 GMT

Some stuff

I was reading Jesus as Box-Office Superhero by A. O. Scott, in which he talks about the unpleasant reaction his review of Mel Gibson's movie drew, and at the end he says: My last word on the subject is a sentence that, in normal circumstances, should be anathema to a film critic but that here seems both urgent and true: it's only a movie. But then I thought, "So was Birth of a Nation." I sure hope he's right.

Skippy reports that Judge Roy Moore thinks - can you believe it? - that there's just not enough God in the Constitution.

From Peevish: What happens to Democratic representatives who vote with Republicans? Heh. Heh. Also, Anne's thoughts on Homophobia.

From Ones and Zeros: I've come to the conclusion that we got an administration being run by Calvin. It all fits: the grades, the ADD symptoms, the adventures of Spaceman Spiff on the desert-planet Iraq II, his imaginary friends in their undisclosed locations, his uncanny ability to rationalize how doing what he wants will really be good for everyone and, of course, the quote in the image.

Happy 50th birthday to Cyndi Lauper, even though I'm late. (Via Outside the Beltway.)

Neat APOD pix: The Witch's Broom Nebula, N49's Cosmic Blast, and Moon and Venus over Corona Del Mar Beach
14:22 GMT


Saturday, 13 March 2004

Media notes

Ted Rall says the real reason the NYT axed his cartoons is that they fell for right-wing e-mail campaigns. It's not hard to believe:

"Here's the feedback form for Yahoo!'s opinion syndicate," a blog called "The Agitator" suggests. "Write and tell them it's time to drop Ted Rall's column." "No paper should ever run Rall again," howls Andrew Sullivan, a Time magazine columnist who also writes the country's most prominent extreme-right blog. "I urge all of our readers to write to the NY Times," urges another hate site. "Here is their Contact page. I wrote to the publisher this morning."
[...]
Unlike Congressional staffers accustomed to the phenomenon of mass letter-writing campaigns, aging editors at old-school print outlets like the Times don't comprehend that they're being fooled and manipulated by fringe interest groups--most of whose members don't even buy their newspaper--into believing these orchestrated correspondence campaigns reflect genuine reader outrage. And so the bullies get their way.
And it works because there is no balancing deluge of support from the other side. A useful antidote might be someone like Atrios acting as a clearing-house for reports of such efforts by right-wing bloggers and columnists, and committed troops who will counter such calls from the right with advice to the target publication or show that this is a right-wing letter-writing campaign and that they should steel themselves against it.

Meanwhile, Bill Maher demonstrates why he was too dangerous to keep on TV:

Hearing President Bush these days constantly complain about "the politicians" and John Kerry being part of a "Washington mind-set," and saying things like "I got news for the Washington crowd" is like hearing Courtney Love bitch about junkies.

"Washington insider" is by definition a function of one's proximity to the president. That's you, Mr. Bush.

(Via Suburban Guerilla, who also reports that Bush has spent more than a quarter of his term on vacation.)
17:29 GMT

Local activism

This is from a Yahoo Groups post that Sasha forwarded to me:

Hello. My name is Michele and I am new to this group. I live in California and I'm a lifelong registered Democrat.

I've been following the political arena for three decades and I've never lived to see such a poor excuse of a President than President Bush.

I've been passing out a flier that points out Bush's actions that have harmed our schools, environment; abused our seniors and minority communities (i.e., racially, nationally and sexually oriented). It's geared for those who voted for Bush in 2000, but are unsure they want to vote for him again. If you would like a copy just email me.

So far, I've distributed approximately 5,000 in my community. It's now been distributed in 491 cities in the US and 6 foreign countries with American voters (including military bases). I work 60 hours a week, but felt compelled to do more than just vote. That seemed too passive for an election as important as this one.

Thank you for listening.

We Have the Power Now

For a long time I've been advocating just this kind of thing. If you have access to a decent word processor and a printer, you are in effect a print shop. If you don't like Michelle's flier, devise your own - workshop it with like-minded souls, keep it as simple as possible (don't get wordy, absolutely no more than two different fonts max, and not too many colors), and distribute it to your neighbors, leave some at local gathering places (eateries, churches, bookshops, libraries, etc.), and so on. If you feel like you're all alone and you need a second pair of eyes, try asking your local librarian for help. Do the legwork; November is closer than you think.
16:06 GMT

Friday, 12 March 2004

Stuff I saw

Loquacious Fool appears to be someone who has decided to celebrate retirement by starting a weblog. Not being loquacious about it, when I looked, but does provide a link to a page of salaries of the White House staff. Scott McClellan sure earns that $125K.

As we like to point out from time to time, the degree to which this administration supports our troops is a huge vulnerability for Bush. The way they've slashed both veteran's benefits and actual support for soldiers in the field is a scandal. Democrats should absolutely not drop the ball on this one, because it really matters, for all the right reasons, and for the politics of it as well. Most Americans understand what we owe our troops, and they need to know why they aren't getting it.

There's no overstating the grotesqueness of watching George "Don't Investigate Al Qaeda!" Bush exploiting 9/11, but even I have to wonder why Mr. Bunnypants can't even soil his little feet at a fer-godssakes ground-breaking ceremony.

There's always a Dick in it somewhere.
18:33 GMT


Calling a spade a spade

The new Pentagon papers by Karen Kwiatkowski is up at Salon and doesn't require you to watch an ad, apparently thanks to MoveOn.

In the spring of 2002, I was a cynical but willing staff officer, almost two years into my three-year tour at the office of the secretary of defense, undersecretary for policy, sub-Saharan Africa. In April, a call for volunteers went out for the Near East South Asia directorate (NESA). None materialized. By May, the call transmogrified into a posthaste demand for any staff officer, and I was "volunteered" to enter what would be a well-appointed den of iniquity.

The education I would receive there was like an M. Night Shyamalan movie -- intense, fascinating and frightening. While the people were very much alive, I saw a dead philosophy -- Cold War anti-communism and neo-imperialism -- walking the corridors of the Pentagon. It wore the clothing of counterterrorism and spoke the language of a holy war between good and evil. The evil was recognized by the leadership to be resident mainly in the Middle East and articulated by Islamic clerics and radicals. But there were other enemies within, anyone who dared voice any skepticism about their grand plans, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and Gen. Anthony Zinni.
[...]
At the time, I didn't realize that the expertise on Middle East policy was not only being removed, but was also being exchanged for that from various agenda-bearing think tanks, including the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Interestingly, the office director billet stayed vacant the whole time I was there. That vacancy and the long-term absence of real regional understanding to inform defense policymakers in the Pentagon explains a great deal about the neoconservative approach on the Middle East and the disastrous mistakes made in Washington and in Iraq in the past two years.

Josh Marshall finds electioneering where it should not be: This is a taxpayer-funded website -- one for a House committee. This seems hands-down inappropriate, if not a breach of House rules. ("Inappropriate" is a good word; "corrupt" is another one.)

Tom DeLay's Greatest Hits

The NYT and The Chicago Tribune stories quoting Kerry: These are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen, it's scary.
16:13 GMT


Thursday, 11 March 2004

Promise you won't really investigate

More on the development of the One-Party State, from The Hill, in a story about McCain's attempts to get the commission some real power to investigate intelligence:

McCain has appeared more active than Robb, the top-ranking Democrat, in seeking wide authority. In a conversation with Bush prior to his appointment, Robb assured the president he would not support examining the administration's use of intelligence, said a Senate source familiar with the meeting.

"Robb bent over backward [to say] he did not support looking at the users," said the source.

Bush has made it clear to Robb that he must keep his distance from Senate Democrats. Robb learned that he was to be appointed co-chairmen only a few hours before Bush made a public announcement.

And Robb was warned that if he consulted with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) before the announcement, he would be stripped of his appointment, Senate sources said.

This is supposed to be an "independent" commission. So where is the independence if the White House can strip Robb of the appointment if he gets too close to actually investigating the subject at hand? If you ever needed any evidence that it's all a PR exercise with the administration, I certainly hope this helps.

(Via Bartcop.)
17:30 GMT


Looking around

History of a dying star

Hubble Wallpaper
Don't miss The PNH Galaxy.

Talk Left refers us to an article warning that the Patriot Act isn't the most dangerous thing Bush is doing to take away our rights. Jeralyn is also talking about one of my own hobby-horses, voting rights for convicted felons, and notes the odd fact that Diana Ross has been told she has to virtually re-serve her sentence for DUI.

Report from the Daily Mislead: Why Bush Supports Outsourcing.

Liberal Oasis says Kerry once again has a staff problem with people who babble too much to the press. Everyone should fax this article to Kerry's campaign. (LO has a lot of Kerry links up on the sidebar, now - under "Get Kerry", of course.)

[Your Logo Here] reports that Auntie Beeb has this: "Young Americans who pledge to remain virgins until they marry have the same rates of sexually transmitted diseases as those who do not, a new study says." Well, it stands to reason that those who are not prepared for sex aren't going to take precautions, doesn't it? You can almost write the Joe Bob Briggs column yourself. (I see James is referring to the White House spokesbeing as "Scott McMuffin". I can't help it, I'm amused.)

Atrios has been otherwise occupied but Tena is sitting in at Eschaton and reports that the Log Cabin Republicans are really pissed off with Bush and "spending a lot of money to run ads that are, "according to the story, the most critical of a Republican president ever done." What took them so long? But don't miss this earlier post from Atrios on the economy. Scary stuff.

From Bloomberg: U.S. Senate Approves Barrier to Making Bush Tax Cuts Permanent. Four Republicans voted with the Democrats, and "one Democrat" did not. Gee, I wonder who that could be. No, I don't. I haven't looked, but do the words "Zell Miller" come to mind? I also haven't checked out the bill itself, yet, but on the surface this certainly looks like good news.

Finally, you can simulate bovine rectal palpation.
15:54 GMT


We want the music!

Ungodly Politics has a post up discussing the decline of local radio - something that I regard as a serious danger to society - and reckons it hurts music sales.

The only trouble with that, as regular readers of The Sideshow already know, is that there is no real decline in sales of music recordings - in fact, there has been a decline in the release of product, by about 25%, so the decline in sales of 15% is a relative gain.

But we've all felt that decline in product release, haven't we? And I certainly agree that Clear Channel and the like have had a deleterious effect on the production of, and our access to, creative new music.

Which is my opportunity to remind readers that those links for free music down on the sidebar are worth some attention. I know you've already heard of some of these people, but bear in mind that I list them not because they are particular favorites of mine, but because they are making their music available for free, and I want to encourage that. Here they are again:

Beck, Country Joe, Daniel Cainer (last time I was at Cainer's site, he was revamping, but do listen to "London Cries" if it's up again), Dana Lyons, Flaming Lips, Kelley Hunt, Jason Mraz, Janis Ian, Lojo Russo, Sara Messenger, Barry Thomas Goldberg.

And if you have other suggestions for the list, don't forget to send them along.
14:20 GMT


Wednesday, 10 March 2004

War zones

Monkey Media Report really runs with my brief statement that the whole ricin scare was bollocks, and also takes a good look at the abysmal condition of modern biblical scholarship.

Space Waitress is back from her hiatus, and appears to be examining the subject of happiness.

Mapleberry Blog thinks we should be going after real terrorist threats instead of setting up sting operations to create bogus ones.

Geov Parrish says Liberals, bare your teeth: This is a war. It's being fought like one, whether or not we participate, and we are all targets. We'd better start acting like our asses are on the firing line. They are.

Micah Holmquist on Winning the Love of Warbloggers in 11 Easy Steps.

Josh Marshall has a another transcript from another marvellous press gaggle in which the same question is asked over and over and over and Scottie doesn't actually answer it. But he does say: "I mean, it's important to point out the unprecedented cooperation we have provided to this legislative body." I guess he must think it's really, really important, because he says it many times. Of course, it's only unprecedented for Bush to cooperate.

Kerri at The-Goddess says, "The biggest mistake the Feminist movement made was its failure to differentiate between Sexism and Sexuality." Don't miss the last paragraph of this essay.
18:15 GMT


It's your money

William Burton contributes to the continued lambasting of Greenspan's warning that we've got to cut Social Security benefits to protect Bush's tax cuts. (Oh, Greenspan didn't actually say that's what it was for? Well, did he have to?)

For a while now I've been privately speculating that the Republicans might change their fortunes by having all their corporate friends suddenly hire a whole lot of people just before the election so Bush can honestly (for a change) claim that employment is up - and then lay everyone off again after the election. Looks like Mark Evanier has been thinking along the same lines.

At Pandagon, Ezra says Charlie Cook's newsletter is "an important read": The bottom line is that this week's job report is different from the other ones; the other's have shown growth not reaching the expected levels or barely surpassing them, this week's says that the necessary growth actually isn't happening. (Ezra also provides a good response to Lileks, and then an embarrassing blunder when he fails to note the existence of weblogs by female bloggers who not only rank in the Blogstreet Top 100, but are linked on Pandagon's own blogroll.)
14:10 GMT


Tuesday, 09 March 2004

I wuz here

Oh, well...

My latest article at DailyNewsOnline is called It's the Christianity, Stupid. Make sure you send copies to your favorite annoying newspeople, and especially to Nicholas Kristof.

Also from DNO, Drew Vogel on Real Foreign Policy, and the news headlines include: Ashcroft Funds Under Scrutiny and Report finds U.S. is big loser in tourism. It always did sound to me like Bush was saying "war on tourism", so I guess it worked.

Routine reminder:
Thank you for not using Outlook Express.

The Lord of the Right Wing (via MKK.)
23:35 GMT


Ouch!

Blah3 recommends this amazingly acid response to RNC demands for "civility" from Democrats, by Tony Hendra - and so do I:

We confess. It's all true. Everything you say. We trafficked in hate. We did it in anger. Just as you said, Mr. Kristol, Mr. Krauthammer, Mr. Brooks: We poisoned the airwaves and befouled the sheets of our nation's most august publications. We attacked a sitting president, impugned his integrity, smeared his family, invaded his privacy, tried desperately to drag him down to our own filthy, rock-bottom, sewer-dwelling level.

There is no parallel between your measured criticism of Bill Clinton and our vile attacks on George W. Bush. Bill Clinton deserved everything thrown at him because a corrupt and evil man who gains the White House by underhanded means should be attacked with every weapon at the disposal of a free press. And yes, it's true, just as your more sagacious radio hosts have maintained: Hillary Clinton does owe her success to the practice of witchcraft. And no, it's not true that ridiculing Chelsea at the most vulnerable stage in her development was the media equivalent of child molestation. Chelsea Clinton was fair game because she is the spawn of Satan. Scurrilous of us to suggest that the tirelessly moderate and civil proponent of these and so many other truths, Robert Bartley, now resides in the circle of hell reserved for hate-mongers and bigots! Mr. Bartley dwells in the bosom of his Republican creator. We see that now.

George W. Bush cannot be, as we've screamed till we're blue in the face, the cretinous finger puppet of an incalculably cynical and malevolent cabal and a ruthless neo-Confederate, bent on creating a plutocratic ruling class at home and a rapacious corporate imperium abroad. He's one or the other. We cannot have it both ways. We see that now.
[...]
The First Amendment does not give us the right to screech that young Americans are dying in Iraq so that George W. Bush can get himself legitimately elected president. It's a bald-faced lie that his bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction cost them their lives.
[...]
It's time for us to ... surrender. We're tearing down the Berlin Wall of rage and malice we've erected between you and us. We do this before it is too late, before you reach the point where you will be forced -- however reluctantly -- to investigate us, confiscate our property, search our houses, seize our personal records, detain us sine die, suspend habeas corpus, take reprisals against our loved ones, hold show trials, send us to re-education camps -- whatever you in your impeccable judgment deem necessary to preserve the homeland from, well, the likes of us.

American Stranger says it sets "a new high-water mark for concentrated sarcasm" - too right! And I just made D. Potter read it and she said, "If I put that on my face, it would certainly tighten my pores." You really, really should read the whole thing.
13:23 GMT

Beliefs

Ungodly Politics: I'm trying to figure out how this is not censorship. The party that controls all three branches of government is warning the media not to air ads that attack it? In the words of Homer Simpson, did we lose a war? Yes, in the Supreme Court. There was a time not so long ago when I would have been shocked, but that was before the Evil Five shattered our faith.

Via The Right Christians:

  • Jesus answers a prayer about being gay: The words that came to her were simple: "What I heard was Jesus saying, 'You can call me 'sister,'" Westbrook said. "What that said to me was gender is inconsequential." She added: "God cares about our souls, our spirits and how closely we are able to live a life of love."
  • A possible answer to a few Democrats' prayers, as well: He sought to advise a packed house how to rescue the biblical Jesus from the religious right, elements of which have transformed Christ into a vengeful, flag-waving, nationalistic deity. With irony and wit, he ridiculed the notion that the Jesus who blessed the poor, the merciful and the peacemakers has been turned into the champion of prosperity theology, capital punishment and war in the Middle East.

Ken MacLeod: My long-held, and downright wrong, position on Stalinism was based not on what I'd learned from the left, but on what I'd failed to learn.
01:14 GMT


Monday, 08 March 2004

Bad dreams are made of this

Atrios has lots of good stuff up, as always, but if you read nothing else over there do read his post on variable-rate mortgages. Over here in Britain it became very difficult to get a fixed-rate mortgage during the late '80s and early '90s, and when you bought a house the banks did everything they could to make it sound like there was no other option. So most people who bought during that period ended up with variable-rate mortgages. By the time people started to realize it was another scam, it was too late for some of them. Pay attention, and spread the word.

Confessore at Tapped has a nice take-down of a stupid column by John Podhoretz in which Podhoretz - wait for it! - whines about how the entire media has been in lockstep opposition to Bush on every significant issue. Nick also says McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform screwed the Democrats.

Some library news. Or maybe it's comics news. Well. Also: 12 Reasons Same-Sex Marriage Will Ruin Society.

Good stuff at Benedict@Large, and you've absolutely got to listen to this clip of Howard Stern taking the piss out of Bush's campaign commercial, proof that this power can be used for good. (Go here if you want a more serious review of the ads from Slate's Will & Jake at NPR.) And there's also a good run-down on the Democratic one-two punch by Ted Kennedy (scathing) and Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA) (velvet glove) over Bush's abysmal record on national security, along with some more on Diebold and voting machines.

Have you ever seen The Front? I have, and thought it was a good movie. So did Mark Evanier, who, as usual, knows a lot more background than I do. Somehow it seems timely again....

Toles nails it again in this cartoon.

I would like to remind some people that I already knew George Soros was Jewish (after all, it was only a few weeks ago that the "conservatives" were spreading blood libel about him). Look, my sense of humor just gets a bit arcane sometimes. Sorry about that.
20:02 GMT


In The Washington Post
(Yeah, I've been slumming again.)

Really, it's too rich. Leonard Downie Jr. himself making up excuses for the bizarre Bush non-interview while claiming Pravda on the Potomac is beefing up their editorial vigilance:

So we have updated and expanded our guidelines to help us publish stories that are accurate and complete.
I have no idea what caused them to conclude that accuracy is a news value, but are they going to continue with the unattributed rumor-mongering the White House puts out? And look at this:
Just last week, President Bush spent 80 minutes speaking to five White House correspondents from the major television networks on "deep background" in the Oval Office. The correspondents agreed that they could not quote what he said, attribute any of the information to him, or even acknowledge that they had talked to him. Later that day, NBC White House reporter David Gregory said on the "Nightly News": "The president has told people he believes tonight's Super Tuesday results mark the real beginning of the general election. Feeling that his conservative base is secure, Mr. Bush is now studying [Democratic presidential candidate John] Kerry's positions and preparing to target the senator's record."

Our White House reporter, Mike Allen, was not invited to the session. He was able to write the next day that "word of the meeting got around before it was over. Several people provided accounts of it . . . but spoke only on the condition of anonymity because, in the view of the White House, and by the agreement of the networks, the conversation never officially occurred." According to Allen's reporting, the conversation with the president apparently covered domestic politics and foreign policy, subjects about which voters likely would want to know the president's unscripted views, in his own words.

Then why not make it a headline that Bush is afraid to put in an appearance at a real press conference? The very fact that the White House pulls stunts like this should be front-page news - and should be treated as the scandal it really is.
If Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had been required to name all their sources in their Watergate stories, for example, they would not have been able to report much of that scandal.
Sorry, but an interview with the alleged President of the United States doesn't qualify as a whistle-blowing exercise in the same way that Deep Throat's reports to Woodward and Bernstein did. And smears of Democrats by RNC operatives shouldn't be appearing in the papers unless they have been fully sourced and attributed.

But Downie, executive editor of the P on P, is to be congratulated for at least acknowledging the problem. You can, and should, make note of the final paragraphs of this article:

Letters to the editor can be sent to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. The e-mail address is letters@washpost.com.

Our ombudsman, Michael Getler, can be reached at 202-334-7582 or by e-mail at ombudsman@washpost.com.

And comments about the policies I have discussed here can be sent to me at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or to editors@washpost.com.

In a horrible bit of irony, Ombudsman Michael Getler recounts a case in which the Post got the story of a supposed centenarian's age wrong over and over again, finally posting an ill-timed correction stating that he was only 92 - while his loved ones were burying him.

Elsewhere in the Post, Marjorie Williams does the "I'm in the ABB camp but gosh Kerry is unlikable and flip-flops a lot and ummmm," thing. Oh, leave it out, Marj, we've been there, and look what it got us!

Here's a couple of more sane articles, by David Broder saying someone needs to be more responsible about tax cuts and spending, and by Jodie Allen, who looked at the economy and says we're headed for Snow Crash, only not quite as good.

That's as far as I got before I fell asleep, but fortunately I'd opened Cursor first, where I found a whole raft of things (as usual), including:

The Washington Post reports that the main source for the Bush administration's claim that Iraq had mobile bioweapons labs has never been interviewed by U.S. intelligence. The source is said to be a relative of a senior member of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
So...who did vet this data?

When you write to Downie, don't forget to ask him where the hell his paper was while the White House was scamming the nation with all these lies so we could invade a country for no reason.
14:29 GMT

In The Washington Post
(Yeah, I've been slumming again.)

Really, it's too rich. Leonard Downie Jr. himself making up excuses for the bizarre Bush non-interview while claiming Pravda on the Potomac is beefing up their editorial vigilance:

So we have updated and expanded our guidelines to help us publish stories that are accurate and complete.
I have no idea what caused them to conclude that accuracy is a news value, but are they going to continue with the unattributed rumor-mongering the White House puts out? And look at this:
Just last week, President Bush spent 80 minutes speaking to five White House correspondents from the major television networks on "deep background" in the Oval Office. The correspondents agreed that they could not quote what he said, attribute any of the information to him, or even acknowledge that they had talked to him. Later that day, NBC White House reporter David Gregory said on the "Nightly News": "The president has told people he believes tonight's Super Tuesday results mark the real beginning of the general election. Feeling that his conservative base is secure, Mr. Bush is now studying [Democratic presidential candidate John] Kerry's positions and preparing to target the senator's record."

Our White House reporter, Mike Allen, was not invited to the session. He was able to write the next day that "word of the meeting got around before it was over. Several people provided accounts of it . . . but spoke only on the condition of anonymity because, in the view of the White House, and by the agreement of the networks, the conversation never officially occurred." According to Allen's reporting, the conversation with the president apparently covered domestic politics and foreign policy, subjects about which voters likely would want to know the president's unscripted views, in his own words.

Then why not make it a headline that Bush is afraid to put in an appearance at a real press conference? The very fact that the White House pulls stunts like this should be front-page news - and should be treated as the scandal it really is.
If Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had been required to name all their sources in their Watergate stories, for example, they would not have been able to report much of that scandal.
Sorry, but an interview with the alleged President of the United States doesn't qualify as a whistle-blowing exercise in the same way that Deep Throat's reports to Woodward and Bernstein did. And smears of Democrats by RNC operatives shouldn't be appearing in the papers unless they have been fully sourced and attributed.

But Downie, executive editor of the P on P, is to be congratulated for at least acknowledging the problem. You can, and should, make note of the final paragraphs of this article:

Letters to the editor can be sent to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. The e-mail address is letters@washpost.com.

Our ombudsman, Michael Getler, can be reached at 202-334-7582 or by e-mail at ombudsman@washpost.com.

And comments about the policies I have discussed here can be sent to me at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or to editors@washpost.com.

In a horrible bit of irony, Ombudsman Michael Getler recounts a case in which the Post got the story of a supposed centenarian's age wrong over and over again, finally posting an ill-timed correction stating that he was only 92 - while his loved ones were burying him.

Elsewhere in the Post, Marjorie Williams does the "I'm in the ABB camp but gosh Kerry is unlikable and flip-flops a lot and ummmm," thing. Oh, leave it out, Marj, we've been there, and look what it got us!

Here's a couple of more sane articles, by David Broder saying someone needs to be more responsible about tax cuts and spending, and by Jodie Allen, who looked at the economy and says we're headed for Snow Crash, only not quite as good.

That's as far as I got before I fell asleep, but fortunately I'd opened Cursor first, where I found a whole raft of things (as usual), including:

The Washington Post reports that the main source for the Bush administration's claim that Iraq had mobile bioweapons labs has never been interviewed by U.S. intelligence. The source is said to be a relative of a senior member of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
So...who did vet this data?

When you write to Downie, don't forget to ask him where the hell his paper was while the White House was scamming the nation with all these lies so we could invade a country for no reason.
14:29 GMT


Sunday, 07 March 2004

The sphere

Another cool Hubble image, of a supergiant. Click on the image above to go to the article and then click on their picture for a bigger, even cooler-looking, picture.

At Orcinus, David Neiwert says: It's starting to become clear that, to the Bush administration -- and their corporate and media cohorts -- the definition of a "terrorist" is "someone we don't like." Which is why a teacher's union can be called "terrorists" because they don't like an administration policy, lawyers who oppose tort reform are "terrorists, and peacenicks can get put on the no-fly list - but the thugs terrorizing citizens in Haiti are not "terrorists" but "political opponents", and: But in the meantime, a mail bomber in Arizona can set off an explosion in a government office -- one aimed at promoting racial diversity -- and hardly anyone hears a peep about it. Certainly, no one has begun referring to the attack as terrorism, even though that is quite clearly what it is.

Uggabugga posted, and then removed at readers' request, disturbing images of 9/11 jumpers. Go read the apology. Also note: Seriously though, a quick review of message posts (on Yahoo associated with this story) showed something we haven't seen in a long time - vocal support for Bush. For most of 2004, posts had been uniformly hostile to Bush (economy, WMD, etc.). But invoking 9/11 appears to help the president - at least in the short term and with a subset of the electorate. Looks like 2004 will be a really dirty campaign.

TBogg is not really impressed by Matt Drudge's fake quotes to "prove" that Rush Limbaugh is being victimized, and is reduced to providing the Shorter Peggy Noonan - which, as near as I can tell, sums up the basis for all of her political positions.

Lisa English says that even those Princeton graduates whose working lives have been fairly successful are worrying about their futures in George Bush's America - and she hopes they know who to blame.

Amy Sullivan says David Brooks is all wrong about whether Americans have a propensity for voting the congenitally wealthy into office, but makes the usual mistakes when it comes to Al Gore. Spot the error in her piece. (Also: She picks Edwards as her VP choice.)

As an aside in e-mail, a friend of mine predicted that Sam Nunn is going to be the VP choice. He didn't say for which party. Liquid List has a suggestion on that score for the Democratic ticket, and also joins the discussion of a Kerry shadow cabinet. I rather like that idea, myself. And, in media news, Oliver examines the strange use of the term "analyst" as a stand-in for "hack" at Fox.
12:29 GMT


The Tube

I was just checking the Underground travel notices to see when the connecting tunnel at Monument for Bank will be restored (it says it won't be "until March 2004" - thanks a heap), and I saw this:

EMBANKMENT STATION: No fixed staircase available to the Victoria Line until further notice.
Actually, I don't think anybody was expecting one. Boy, that'd be some staircase.
10:15 GMT

Linkage

Yes, I was a bit AWOL Saturday. Just too many distractions, what can I say? So here is some lazy blogging:

At DNO, Kevin Raybould says It is Time For Universal Health Care, and Oliver Willis says in The Cynical Campaign of George W. Bush that Bush is soft on terrorism and his title should be "Jobs Evaporator".

Loads of links up at Electrolite in the Sidelights bar: A weblog entry at Jogin.com on the obnoxiousness of RealPlayer (which also posts a reply from RealNetworks to the original post); Top Ten Reasons to Not Shop Online; A paean to Hollywood values; and George Bush's Amendment.

Jimmy Breslin says that Bush's campaign commercial molests the dead.

Looks like Bush is playing politics in Israel, too.

At Pacific Views, Natasha checks out Warren Buffet's economics lessons and concludes that having money doesn't have to "put you out of touch with reality." She also notes with alarm a bill that could lead to the end of blogging as we know it. And Mary provides a pointer (and commentary) to an article by Tom Hayden which she says is, "an eloquent and convincing piece that disputes the lies told about his ex-wife and definitively shows why she is NOT a traitor to this country."
01:50 GMT


Friday, 05 March 2004

Two for the road

Bob Devney writes in e-mail: And so the smears against Mr. Kerry begin in earnest. An old friend who's gone over to the dark side sent me the below link tonight; count on this making the freeper rounds extensively starting now. Gee, at first glance looks like a farrago of hearsay from an admiral conveniently long dead plus a fixup of lotsa other RNC talking points ... Setting Straight Kerry's War Record

From Bad Attitudes: The laziest "president" in history thinks people are poor because they are lazy. This is slightly wrong, of course. People are poor because George Bush is lazy.
19:24 GMT


Indigestion

Our heating is still messed up, and I'm cold.

Atrios helps Brad DeLong explain that the Social Security privatization scam is even worse than you thought: not only do you get to take all the risk, but you don't get the returns on your investment. That's right, if your account actually makes any money, the government takes it all! So much for, "It's your money." When it comes to modern Republicans, what's yours is theirs.

Eric Boehlert takes another look at the relationship between Howard Stern and Clear Channel. Stern now thinks his opposition to Bush is the real reason he was kicked off of Clear Channel, but Boehlert still thinks it's about something else. Still, he doesn't mean to say that Clear Channel doesn't penalize people for their politics, as their treatment of Roxanne Walker and Randi Rhodes demonstrates.

Josh Marshall went to the horse's mouth for clarification of comments by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) saying that, "if George Bush loses the election, Osama bin Laden wins the election." I don't think he gets an acquittal on this. More importantly, this certainly seems to suggest that Bush puts his personal and political goals way ahead of going after Al Qaeda's most dangerous terrorists. So it sounds like a vote for Bush is a vote for Al Qaeda.

Bartcop recently asked his readers who voted for Nader in 2000 to write in and say why, and tell him if they plan to vote for him again this time. A page full of responses is here.

Take Back the Media did a little movie take-off of the Bush campaign ad, but I couldn't get it to load, so you'll have to tell me if it's good.
13:44 GMT


Thursday, 04 March 2004

Can I get a witness?

Greg Palast explains what the drive against Chavez in Venezuela is all about: It's about the wealthy, powerful, white 20% of the population trying to overrule the democratic voices of everybody else.

Nick Confessore at Tapped explains that Leon Kass is faking it when he pretends that getting rid of two pro-stem cell research voices on the bioethics committee, and replacing them with three from the opposing side, had nothing to do with playing politics with science.

Bill Scher at LiberalOasis lists the Four Key Questions the White House dodged on Haiti, and ties it all together with Venezuela and Uzbekistan. Bill also reminds you that Howard Dean's "$100 Revolution" is still a great idea: Every grassroots dollar devalues the power of a special interest dollar. That reduces special interest influence, and increases the chance for legislation that benefits the people and not the powerful.

Atrios has the exchange of letters between Larry Kramer, Act-Up founder, and The New York Times, about the dismissal of stringer Jay Blotcher for supposed ethical conflicts because he is a former Act-Up member. The NYT doesn't have a good excuse; they have many staff reporters who write from scandalous biases, but Blotcher wasn't even covering gay-related issues. So why is it that only someone with a gay activist past gets the chop? This is just like the Jayson Blair case, where high-profile white fabricators get to stay on staff, but the black kid gets fired when it turns out his articles veer from the truth. The only difference being that Blotcher wasn't doing anything wrong.

Josh Marshall: If you look at the TV ads the president just unveiled today, you quickly see a main -- probably the main -- theme of his reelection campaign: it's not my fault.

Change versus normalcy
17:29 GMT


Media watch

The Daily Howler examines Cal Thomas' complaint that gay marriage can't be moral because only Scripture can be a source of "objective morality":Several thoughts can be derived from Thomas' revealing column. First, we can see how deeply weird Thomas is on matters of ethics and morals. Imagine! Imagine a man who says he wouldn't know that murder was wrong unless he could look it up in the Bible! Thomas seems to have no experience of moral judgment aside from what he reads in the Book. And Thomas picks and chooses the parts of the Book he likes, too - as with his willingness to violate the Commandment against bearing false witness.

Like me, Eric Alterman wishes the primary race hadn't been settled quite so quickly, and also wonders what the reporter said in response to Cheney's bizarre statement that, "If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years, the kind of tax increases that both Kerry and Edwards have talked about, we would not have had the kind of job growth that we've had." I guess we can be sure that the reporter did not respond by noting that (a) they wouldn't be tax increases, they'd be taxes staying the same as they had been all along, and that (b), "the kind of job growth that we've had" is millions of lost jobs, and yes, the administration can certainly take credit for that.

Evelyn Keyes notes a common press criticism of Kerry and says The opposite of "wishy-washy" is "nuts". Because you have to be nuts to keep following the same policies long after they have been proven not to work. And if you keep those same policies long after it's obvious that they don't accomplish what you say they will, as Bush does, it is reasonable to suspect that you are either crazy or that you are lying about your goals. Or maybe those are the same thing.
16:01 GMT


A wrong Christian

Allen Brill would like to see A "Golden Rule Club" for Corporate CEOs:

As recently as 1999, Worldcom CEO Bernie Ebbers was affirmation that the American dream still becomes reality for those who are bold, lucky and determined enough to make it come true. All the elements of the myth were there: humble beginnings, a business plan sketched on a napkin and fabulous success. Ebbers' WorldCom had grown to a stock market value in excess of $100 billion and the corporation owned 20 percent of America's Internet "backbone." Ebbers himself was the most spectacular beneficiary of WorldCom's success and he spent lavishly on a 500,000 acre ranch in Canada, a hockey team and a huge yacht called the "Aqua-sition" in reference to the aggressive acquisitions that had made him rich.

All the time, Ebbers pointed to his Christian faith as the driving force in his life. "With hard work, dedication, a commitment to principles, and a commitment to Jesus Christ, life can be worthwhile," Ebbers told a Jackson, Mississippi newspaper where WorldCom is headquartered. He was a deacon in Easthaven Baptist church, taught a Bible class and was a reliable source for donations for his congregation and his alma mater, Mississippi College. He seemed indifferent to any conflict between being a Christian and his lavish lifestyle--a lifestyle that included divorcing his wife of nearly 30 years and marrying a 30-ish WorldCom employee.

And he's not the only one. These are the people who watched Wall Street and thought Gordon Gecko was the hero - and many of them actually claim to be Christians.

You know, I don't remember hearing George Soros or the senior Bill Gates beating their chests about what terrific Christians they are. I wonder what causes that....

(At the other end of the spectrum, Thom Hartman is a progressive Christian radio talk-show host - and now he's being heard on Clear Channel. Can Thom Hartman reclaim the airways for America's radical middle?)
13:13 GMT


The world through this flatscreen window

Just a Bump in the Beltway has had a facelift, and Melanie is looking forward to those books by Joe Wilson and Richard Clarke that talk about what's really been happening. And she's found a letter to Mel Gibson from Jesus.

An important message from Patrick Nielsen Hayden: Unseating Bush is important; so is taking back Congress. The latter is certainly more of an uphill fight, but even reducing the Republican margin would count as progress. Remember, having Tom DeLay and Bill Frist in charge of the House and Senate significantly expands the scope of no-goodness up to which the nincompoops in the White House and Pentagon can get. And having Exterminator and Death-to-Kittens running Congress for the first couple of years of a Kerry administration would seriously limit how much could be done to repair the damage done over the previous several years. So to heck with the virtues of divided government. It all matters. Read it twice.

At Tapped, Matt Yglesias discovers just how serious the administration really is about national security

Digby's position on gay marriage: As all 6 of my readers know, I have not only written against gay marriage, but have also been a proponent of changing marriage back to its traditional meaning --- abduction of a woman and seizure of her family's property.

In The Nation, Eric Alterman says Novak's No Patriot (or Journalist).

Body and Soul details a sad, sad case of mediawhoredom: five journalists agreed not to quote Bush if he let them come and, um, I dunno, not interview him?

Bush Helped Rebels Oust Aristide; Haiti Rebel Says He Is in Charge, and Political Confusion Deepens.

Beautiful Horizons has been keeping up on Haiti, and notes that Aristide's private security guys, hired from a US firm, claim their client was not kidnapped - they were with him the whole time. But, strangely, there's this quote from The Miami Herald: U.S. officials also forced a small group of extra bodyguards from the San Francisco-based Steele Foundation to delay their flight from the United States to Haiti from Sunday to today -- too late to help Aristide, said the sources, who are close to Aristide. Hmmm.

A recent case here, in which someone committed a crime after having seen cannibalism and necrophilia sites on the Internet, has generated the usual predictable calls for censorship. David Alexander is blogging about it at Cut.

HegeMoney is even more obsessed with Alan Greenspan's pronouncement than I am.
01:02 GMT


Wednesday, 03 March 2004

Stuff to check out

Costs way too much.

Bra of the week

A whole lotta links to articles about gay marriage from Ampersand.

Digby says the real reason Howard Stern was dropped from Clear Channel is because he suddenly came out in the Anybody But Bush camp.

Billmon finds an unlikely opponent of the gay marriage amendment - in Judge Roy Moore.

Kevin Hayden says: The Merchants of the Temple are Selling Sadomaso-catechisms.

Good news and bad news on the War on Some Drugs at Talk Left: DEA Approves Use of Ecstasy in Trauma Study, and Bush Admin. to Crack Down on Painkiller Abuse.

Jesse Jackson: Bush Coup Sends a Chilling Message -- Bush Protects Corporations, Not Democracies.

Planned Parenthood Refuses To Hand Over Medical Records to Ashcroft.

Atrios says that our chances of taking back Congress aren't as unrealistic as some would have you believe - if a real effort is made. Trouble is, too many people are writing those chances off.

I've got a buncha more Bill Hicks stuff to listen to. In honor of the occasion, here's an old Salon article about him. Here is their even older obituary. And here's the BBC's ten-years-after article, with comments from readers.

Karma Queen's winter photos - lots of snow and a couple of great sunsets.

Patrick says it's time:


12:07 GMT

Thief-watch

Last night someone I know was entertaining the theory that the real reason Alan Greenspan made his interesting speech about cutting Social Security was to signal to The People that this was what the Republicans have really been planning all along - to wake people up to the fact that to (maybe) receive the chintzy "tax cut" they got of maybe $600, maybe $300, maybe even $100 or less, if anything, they traded away the Social Security retirement account they'd been contributing to for their entire working lives - with most of the benefits going to the very rich. I mean, how long did he expect it to take for Paul Krugman and a lot of other people to scream bloody murder? Hell, maybe my friend is right.

Or not. Greenspan may really be dumb enough that he learned nothing from the failure of the experiment on the former Soviet Union. And if he's that dumb.... Well. Since it was Greenspan who raised the payroll tax in order to save Social Security (which it did), he must know that there is no need to "save" Social Security by slashing benefits. He surely knows that the money Bush is spending elsewhere is Social Security money, and that that is where the real threat comes from.

Krugman, sounding a strong warning against the intentions of the radical steal-and-spend Republicans, is not listening to any excuses for Greenspan:

The Bush White House has made it clear that it will destroy the careers of scientists, budget experts, intelligence operatives and even military officers who don't toe the line. But Mr. Greenspan should have been immune to such pressures, and he should have understood that the peculiarity of his position - as an unelected official who wields immense power - carries with it an obligation to stand above the fray. By using his office to promote a partisan agenda, he has betrayed his institution, and the nation.
At Eccentricity, there are dreams of something finer:
/ begin fantasy/ There *is* a remedy. Let's go back to the tax structure of that fine Republican President, Dwight David Eisenhower. 90% tax on everything over one million dollars. Tax on dividends. Even the old "luxury tax" on makeup, furs, jewels, and high end vehicles.

I wonder how soon there would be adequate funding for Social Security, the military's veterans benefits and medical benefits, the schools, and other things that have been marginalized by the current administration. /end fantasy/

The best we can possibly get in the immediate future is a Democrat in the White House and a coalition of Democrats and *real* conservatives in Congress who have the guts to go through and undo the Bush Disaster -- roll back his tax cuts, reinstitute capital gains and estate taxes, put Head Start back in place ... anyone with a search engine could figure out the drill.

Hey, I'm there.

(You might also want to check out this post about blogging, which suggests that what weblogs supply is the conscience that's been missing from the mass media lately.)
01:15 GMT


Tuesday, 02 March 2004

While I was away....

Let me get the kvetching out of the way, first.

Yes, it was the perfect day for a trip to the seaside - bitterly cold, vague snow warnings, and the Underground in a mess besides. Okay, I wasn't going for the scenery and the weather, and my increasing paranoia about the trains ultimately stood me in good stead. I'd left early (I was freezing at home anyway, so why not? The heating guy came and found no more than a loose wire, but it would take hours for warmth and hot water to be restored). All bundled up in thigh-high socks, my heavy scarf/shawl, a warm sweater, a warm suit-jacket, and my giant coat, I wasn't any worse off than I'd been at home. The Underground trains, at least, were heated. I was armed with a bunch of old NYT crossword puzzles and a good novel (by my partner in crime, Ken MacLeod - and while I'm on the subject, check out the umbrella project post). The train to Brighton leaves from Victoria, and that's convenient for me, which is always a help. I was good.

So, of course, there were delays on the tube and I arrived at the station just in time to miss my train. Okay, I can live with that, I'd anticipated that, too, and had chosen to take an earlier-than-necessary train. The next one would be along in reasonable time and meanwhile I'd been meaning to pick up one of those big cozy wraps I'd been told you could get from Tie Rack at a decent price. They had one in black, they're lightweight, so I hooked the bag to my shoulder strap and seemed to be in Brighton in no time.

The debate was lively and interesting, and a woman who reminded me so much of Debbie Notkin that her British accent actually seemed jarring said lots of interesting things from the back of the room, and later came up to me and told me how much she admired my work. Gosh. It kinda made up for the fact that the room was chilly enough that I was sorry I'd taken off my coat. I left it on in the union bar, the conversation was good enough that I skipped catching the next train, but I was at the station early enough and for this journey the trains were all on time.

But the trip back to London was unheated. After a little while I noticed that my knee - which, remember, is already protected by two layers of heavy cloths - was actually painfully cold. I stood up and readjusted my coat so that it covered my legs better. Then after a while I pulled the wrap out of the bag and put it over my coat. Then a few minutes later I put my gloves on. Under the heavy socks and sturdy boots, my toes are cold. It hurts. The last time I was that cold it was January 20th of 1969 standing in mud on the Mall watching Paul Krassner tell stories having to do with his alleged meeting with Eldridge Cleaver, previously mentioned on a TV show somewhere, followed by questions from the FBI to which he had answered, "It's not illegal to lie on national television." (It had seemed funny at the time. But that was then. My boots had been thinner, too, and I was only wearing a short coat.)

So what did I miss? I get the impression that more people are actually talking about Haiti than I had expected. Jeffrey Sachs says Don't fall for Washington's spin on Haiti right in the Financial Times. Amy Goodman interviewed Aristide's friend, TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, who says, It's a coup. I sure hope lots of people are going to be talking up what it means that twice under Bush's reign the US has actively promoted the overthrow of democratically elected governments. (Will any of the Iraq hawks who keep talking about how the invasion was about democracy finally allow the scales to fall from their eyes? I'm not holding my breath.)

I had to write my new DNO post in a hurry, and I didn't have much time for catch-up before girls with A.I.M. instant-messaged me and wanted to talk about, y'know, boys. (At least I learned some old gossip I'd missed while it was happening.) But I see Patrick is at home with some sort of plague and this appears to have given him time to do a little posting. He's recommending some weblog that looks interesting though I didn't have a chance to check it out, and he's quoted a post called PRESIDENT PROPOSES MARRIAGE AMENDMENT TO SATISFY AL-QAEDA ("We are not infidels," says a somber Bush. "We agree with you on so many issues.")

And Alice Marshall's finally got her own weblog: GOTV.
16:00 GMT


Monday, 01 March 2004

A number of things

Calpundit has a lot of interesting posts up, but neat skies have a lot to recommend them. (Check out this one, too.)

It's one thing after another around here. The weather has turned bitterly cold and of course when we discovered that our heating had cut out on us we couldn't get anyone to come out on a Sunday. Argh!

From Pseudopodium: How sleazy am I? How many compromises am I prepared to make in the dirty world of politics? OK. Here goes. In a Bush-Kerry contest, if I thought the Bush administration would push tax rates and intellectual property laws back to 1950s levels, well-I might vote for Bush.

Bush promised me two cows but all I got was a couple of mice in the cupboard.

Note to Jim Henley: We did want to talk about that stuff in the '90s, but no one seemed to be interested. I mean, what with the murder of Vince Foster, and the blow-jobs, and all the really important stuff they had to talk about, yeah?

Is Lou Dobbs coming over from the Dark Side?

Two from the Liberal Oasis "best of" links:
The Village Voice has a blog. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have permalinks (yet), so click the link and scroll (or search) for It's Confirmed: Protesters Are Terrorists. Just in case you had any doubts that Bush's war isn't against terrorism, it's against democracy.
At In These Times, Who Owns the Sky? Reviving the Commons, on privatization and the rising groundswell of opposition.

Police Brutality

I'm a bit late on this one, but Charlie has two words for EMI's legal department. He also may have found an interesting parallel between the Major government in the '90s and the Republicans of today. And, he suspects that this may be the beginning of the end for Tony Blair.

Haiti: Well, I'm kinda speechless, actually. But Melanie isn't, so go read what she said. It all has the stink of Otto Reich.

Today's Top Stories (don't I wish).
04:16 GMT


Thoroughly corrupt shills

Regular readers of The Sideshow already know how I have come to detest the shameless lack of ethics of the current incarnation of The Washington Post, also known as Pravda of the Potomac. We have previously noted one reason for the weirdly slanted coverage the Post has given to politics in the last couple of decades, but David Podvin reminds us of another:

When the Washington Post Company announced its earnings on October 31, Dow Jones Newswires reported the following: "Revenue rose 10% to $706.1 million from $640.3 million, helped by 40% revenue growth at Kaplan division. Newspaper-publishing revenue grew 4.4% to $211.4 million, but revenue declined in both the television and magazine-publishing divisions."

Absent the huge increase in revenue from its Kaplan, Inc. educational materials subsidiary, the Washington Post Company would have been a money-losing organization, the kind of corporation where executives conduct layoffs prior to being fired themselves. The explosive growth at Kaplan was due to the largesse of George W. Bush, the politician whom the company's flagship newspaper treats with tender loving care. It is the Bush program mandating the testing of schoolchildren across America - tests for which Kaplan supplies materials - that makes the federal government a lucrative source of revenue for the Post's cash cow.

Al Gore opposed such massive uniform standardized testing, arguing that children should be striving to learn useful knowledge and skills, as opposed to just memorizing the curriculum for the purpose of performing well on tests. Gore's stance cost him dearly, because it provided the Post with an overwhelming financial incentive to help Bush. Although the Post ultimately gave Gore a meaningless, half-hearted endorsement on its editorial page, it is the paper's news section that sets the daily tone echoed by media outlets across the country. On the all-important front page, Post readers were constantly presented with fabricated stories about the vice president's nonexistent serial deceit. Meanwhile, his mendacious and corrupt Republican opponent was spared critical examination. During the decisive Florida recount, the paper openly sided with Bush.

And even the Post's grotesque Whitewater coverage was eclipsed by the spectacle of the leading newspaper of our nation's capitol decrying a candidate's attempt to get the votes counted in an election. It's all been downhill since then, and of course you won't find much in The Washington Post about the damaging effects of Bush's so-called education policy and the disaster it is wreaking on our schools.

There have been signs in the last couple of weeks that even the Post is starting to wonder if this is entirely the way to go. Recent editorials in the paper do question Bush behavior that the public is beginning to see through. But Podvin's month-old warning should not be forgotten: "With so much money on the line, and so little honor in the newsrooms of Corporate America, you ain't seen nothin' yet."
02:33 GMT


Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, March 2004


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