The Sideshow

Archive for October 2003

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Friday, 31 October 2003

Dopes, loons, & creeps

Well, I almost didn't realize it was Protection from Porn Week until Feoreg (who is also a member of Feminists Against Censorship) tipped me off. Pornography can have debilitating effects on communities, marriages, families, and children. During Protection From Pornography Week, we commit to take steps to confront the dangers of pornography. There go the right-wingers, again, doing their best to promote the very things they purport to be solving. Anti-porn ideology is a pretty consistent theme in the backgrounds of serial-rapists and child-molesters, but they're gonna make it all better by giving us more of the same. In case you needed a reminder of what we really need protection from.

When I had jury duty, I have to admit I was vaguely astonished to discover that I seemed to be the only person on the jury who remembered the judge's instructions, which resulted in a request to actually hear the recording of it again (it's so nice when you get to be proven to be the only person in the room who knows what's going on), and there were indeed a couple of jerks who had to be reminded of little things like the fact that the defendant's father was not on trial, but in the end it wasn't anywhere near as bad as the bad time this guy had.

Via Tapped, this op-ad about yet another tax cut for corporations that is being pushed in Washington. I'm sure all those soldiers and vets who have lost benefits, pay raises, and even free food while hospitalized with war wounds, will be delighted to know that their sacrifice is doing so much for the rich. Also at Tapped - oh, this just makes me spit:

As The Hill reported Wednesday, $1 billion of the subcommittee's appropriations bill has been earmarked for special projects in lawmakers' districts -- a substantial amount of pork for this particular legislation (and these lean times). While this $1 billion would ordinarily go to districts on both sides of the aisle, Regula has decided that earmarks will only go to his 229 fellow Republicans. To punish Democrats for unanimously declining to support the bill, Regula has proposed, with the backing of the House Republican leadership, that no Democratic districts receive earmarks.
Rightly infuriated by this step, Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wisc.), the ranking Democrat on the appropriations committee, penned a terrific three-page letter to Regula today. He wrote, in part:
The appropriation bill that you took to the floor in July provided $8 billion less in funding for the No Child Left Behind Act than the amounts authorized for that program only two years ago, and $11.2 billion less than the amount needed to cover 40% of the cost of educating all disabled students, a goal widely espoused by Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Incredibly, the bill was $1.2 billion below the amount promised for disabled education in the Budget Resolution pushed through the House by your leadership only three weeks before this bill was reported from subcommittee. The appropriation bill that you took to the floor also forced an actual reduction in research to conquer a number of dreaded diseases and it provides fewer funds for the "Meals on Wheels" program than are needed to maintain the current number of meals being served.
. . .
I think you know our reasons [for opposing the appropriations bill] and I think you know that they were heartfelt matters of conscience that gave us no alternative but to vote against the funding levels that you were forced to put forward.
. . .
What this proposal really translates into is not simply the diversion of money needed to more adequately fund critical national priorities such as reading improvement, but the use of those funds for the creation of a slush fund to intimidate members into voting against adequate funds for programs that they believe are important for the American people. The clear message is that if you support the Republican cuts in education, health research and assistance to seniors, you will get projects to help with your reelection. If you vote your conscience and support more funding for education and health you will get stiffed. This is nothing more than systematic bribery with public funds to enforce the "Robin Hood in reverse" policies of your party.
Is there any limit to the depths to which the Republicans will go? Is there nothing that is beneath them?
15:58 GMT


Eric Alterman received a letter from an an Army Reservist on active duty that's worth a read:

First, I would like to comment on the Homeland Security Threat Level. I talked to a Psy-Ops Officer a few months ago and he indirectly pointed me in this direction. Basically he summed it up this way. President Bush crying "wolf" about Saddam would not have been believed by the American public if they (we) were feeling secure about our safety. That caused me to think about what happened before the war in regards to the threat level. Remember how many times it was raised and lowered before the war and the reasons for it? Nothing specific was given, just increased "chatter" and "intelligence" reports suggesting a probable attack. Remember when Homeland Security suggested that Americans should purchase tape and plastic to cover the windows of their homes (which would do no good in reality). This was part of the "plan" to go to war. Get the American public wanting to go to war with Saddam. It wasn’t just hyped intelligence the administration used.

After the war, I read in an article that a memo was sent by the Administration that the threat level will not be moved higher so as to not cause alarm and create insecurity. It tends to be bad for the economy. ... It makes sense, so why was it so liberally used before the war?

And here's a quote from Eric that made me grin:
The New York Post loses $40 million a year. The New York Sun loses who knows how much. No wonder right-wing journalists love "free-markets" so much. They’ve never seen one.
And while I'm here, let me wish you all a happy Hallowe'en.
00:18 GMT

Thursday, 30 October 2003

He reads really fast

Farber is doing a lot of posting lately at Amygdala, and it's still worth checking out even if I still can't understand how he can continue to think the invasion of Iraq was a good thing. It all seems pretty simple to me: It was unjustifiable to invade without even letting the weapons inspections be completed. And it was stupid to destabilize the only secular country in that group. Everything that's happened is pretty much what I expected to happen given the lack of commitment this administration was showing. Wanting to win a war is not a good enough reason to start one, and that was clearly their biggest reason for doing it, along with some greed and a little bit of personal pique, which are just more lousy reasons. A guy who brags about how he is not into "nation building" and then claims he's going to do it anyway is obviously a guy who doesn't understand what it's for or what it is or how to go about it. And every step of the way, this administration has demonstrated that. They were ill-prepared in Afghanistan and already creating a diplomatic nightmare worldwide, and people trusted them over Iraq? Why?

But then he writes stuff like this, and I think, god, he's so close. It's like watching Tom Friedman in action, the recognition that everything is going wrong, even that things were set up to go wrong a long time ago, and yet....

Where is it coming from? I don't get it. It reminds me of those stories about the guy who uncorks the jinni and you know whatever the guy wishes for is going to be delivered in such a way that it's the last thing he wants, but he wishes for it anyway. Like Godfrey Cambridge saying, "I wanna make 'em laugh," and instead of turning into a great comedian it's just that people laugh no matter what he says or does. So then he wants to be a serious actor and says, "I wanna make 'em cry," and he dies in a traffic accident and they all cry. What you want is for Iraq to be a free democracy, and you say, "I wanna invade Iraq and get rid of Saddam." And you don't get the democracy or the freedom or any of that, you just get the invasion and Saddam out of power because that's all you wished for. So now you wish for - what? For the Democrats to all fall in line and give George Bush whatever money he wants that he claims will go to the restoration of Iraq? Come on, you know you can't just write this guy blank checks. If you're not prepared to nail down those wishes in unmistakable terms so that what you want to happen will actually happen, maybe you just better stop making wishes.

And then there are our friends, the Russians. I never trusted Yeltsin and I never trusted Putin and the fact that George W. Bush pronounced Putin "a good man" is enough all by itself to set alarm bells off, so I share Gary's horror about this from The Washington Post, which should really come as no surprise, but it is just so, so depressing.

Unfortunately, the implications of Khodorkovsky's arrest go beyond the suppression of democratic voices and the return of official anti-Semitism. This arrest must be seen in the context of increasingly aggressive, military and extrajudicial actions in Ukraine, Moldova, the South Caucasus and Chechnya. In the past month, Putin has demanded that Ukraine sign a concessionary economic treaty; Russian intelligence services have been detected behind election irregularities in Azerbaijan and Georgia and in influence-peddling in Moldova and Abkhazia; and Russian gunboats have confronted the Ukrainian Coast Guard in an illegal attempt to seize a valuable commercial waterway.
And just in case you weren't depressed enough, Gary says:
IF IT'S ONLY ONE QUARTER AS BAD as this in the Iraqi bribery, corruption, and inefficiency, situation, it's not just bad, it's sickening. And be clear: we're talking about American corruption, not Iraqi corruption.
Speaking of which, check out the Welfare Queens.

There were, of course, real reasons to want to kick George Galloway out of the Labour Party, but it's funny that they didn't actually talk about those.

On the lighter side, a couple of things about SNL: a New Yorker profile of Tina Fey and what looks to be a fascinating article about the original SNL cast. Gary has quoted a section that discusses the way innovation usually comes out of some sort of group interaction, which is enough to make me want to read the rest later when I go online again.

On an even lighter note, a neat picture, and Wil Wheaton goes to LASFS and proves he is not Wesley Crusher.

(I dunno what you're complaining about, Gary - I've never done better than about 94.)
17:24 GMT

The Big Dog speaks

You have to buy the magazines to see the whole thing, but The American Prospect does have a teaser online for Michael Tomasky's interview with Bill Clinton. Here's a little of it:

Now what we should say is that they, not we, have brought class warfare back to America. You know, every time I complain about these tax cuts some conservative says I'm practicing class warfare. I am not. I pay these taxes. And I live in New York state and Westchester County, so I think I probably pay as high [of] rates as anybody in America. And I should. Nobody makes me live in this country. America has been good to me. And I think for somebody to give me a tax cut and then turn around and say, "We've gotta have $87 billion spent in Iraq, but we're gonna kick 300,000 kids out of after-school programs, 84,000 kids out of student loans . . . 25,000 uniformed police off the street? We're gonna kick a coupla thousand police off the street in New York City who put their lives on the line on September the 11th, and they're gonna give me a tax cut?" That's class warfare! And I think we ought to say that!

And the other thing I think is, we can smile when we say that. I don't want our side ever to treat the Republicans with the sort of personal animosity and contempt with which Hillary and I and Al were treated. I don't like that, I don't believe that, I don't think that's necessary. But we got to argue. And we got to fight hard. Otherwise they'll run right over us like they did in 2002.

And he has a few words about the press, too.
14:02 GMT


Clark Lays Responsibility for 9/11 at Bush's Feet. It's gratifying to read.

Digby observes that when the subject of Iraq comes up, Bush acts like it's all about him.

Everything you ever thought about Zell Miller confirmed (via Oliver Willis).

Two via Bartcop:Left embraces Franken's jabs at right talks about his book and the prospective radio show, and a few other things:

Asked about Rush Limbaugh and his alleged purchase of illegal drugs, Franken didn't waste any sympathy. "When my friend Jerry Garcia died, Rush called him 'just another dead doper' and a dirt bag."

Considering that Limbaugh has editorialized against drug offenders, saying they should be prosecuted and put away, Franken said, "I'm assuming that when he gets out of rehab he'll be turning himself in and he'll ask to be given the maximum sentence and ask for the most dangerous prison."

Potomac Watch: McDermott still blasting out his message: Bush lied:
McDermott, the Democrat from Seattle, got into hot water last year when he said from Baghdad in September 2002 that Bush "misled the American people" to build support for military action in Iraq. Pelted by criticism, McDermott admitted that he might have "overstated my case."

Upon further review, however, McDermott seems to believe he was right all along.

At Eschaton - ah, I don't think I'd better say anything, but you can read it here. Not to mention all the places listed here.

TBogg says Jonah Goldberg's mom, Lucy the Bat, is The antidote for Viagra.

I was wondering what Mr. Happy would have to say about the ouster of IDS, but instead he is on about his discovery of an entire website dedicated to Dr. Who's scarf. (Well, the Doctor's scarf still has more gravitas than George Bush, and more experience, too.

And here's that exciting farting toy dog security alert story I mentioned earlier.
12:36 GMT

Wednesday, 29 October 2003

IDS out

Tory leader ousted: Mr Duncan Smith, party leader for just over two years, was backed by 75 MPs but opposed by 90.

Reaction to Tory leader's ousting: Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrat chairman, said: "Whoever leads the Tories, after this shambles no one will ever want to vote Tory again.

Which brings us to: Profile: Michael Howard:

Michael Howard is now the overwhelming favourite to replace Iain Duncan Smith. If he does become the next Tory leader it will mark the culmination of a remarkable political rebirth.
He did stand for the leadership in 1997 after John Major stepped down.

That bid was unsuccessful, in part, it was suggested, by the words of his former ministerial colleague, Ann Widdecombe, who said he had "something of the night about him".

Mr Howard was born into a Jewish family in south Wales in 1941.

Howard is the right-winger we all loathed so much that we never thought we could forget our hatred. Oh, oh, how things have changed! His New Labour replacement, Jack Straw, made us nostalgic for the days when Michael Howard was the Home Secretary, and David Blunkett is the kind of guy who makes you want to wash your hands just because you heard him utter a few words on TV.

Now, there are those - and I guess I'm one of them - who gained a new respect for Howard when he made his stunning speech repudiating the death penalty in the wake of the exonerations of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. They'd spent a decade and a half in prison, and Howard, who like virtually all Home Secretaries had been a DP supporter, stood in the commons and expressed his gratitude that there'd been no death penalty, for though all that time in prison was itself tragic, it was far superior to "the cold comfort of a posthumous pardon."

Nevertheless, he is a right-wing Tory, and I think that's the last thing we need right now. The LibDems could, if they put some muscle into it, reap the benefits of this moment - providing Labour voters see some sense. But Howard has a profile and gravitas, and it wouldn't surprise me if he was strong enough with the Tories, standing against an increasingly week and distrusted Tony Blair, to return us to the kind of vote-splitting that kept Thatcher in power for so long. Maybe.

Meanwhile in the UK, the Guardian has a look at Transatlantic Drift:

Why the deep transatlantic divide? Eileen Claussen, director of the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change in Washington, who headed the US team negotiating international climate change policy in the Clinton era, suggests three reasons.

First, the public in Europe demands that politicians respond to environmental concerns; more so than the American public. Bush "never had an environmental constituency going into his presidency and neither did many Congressional leaders."

Second, she says, "rightwing lobbies, such as industry associations and ideological thinktanks, play a very significant role in influencing policy, probably greater than they do in Europe."

Third, and most disconcertingly for Europeans, Claussen says: "This US administration is different from any other in the extent to which it has downgraded transatlantic relationships and European concerns."

But the "drift" isn't just between the two sides of the Atlantic, it's also between words and actions:
The so-called Healthy Forests initiative is Bush-speak for a new rule allowing timber companies to log in previously protected forests. Parts of Alaska's Tongass, one of the world's largest remaining temperate forests, are earmarked for the bulldozers.
There's a lot of that going around.
21:53 GMT

The Eschaton headlines

We go to Atrios to find out what's really going on:

In a move to break the hearts of right-wing nuts, Tim Robbins will host a Johnny Cash tribute concert. (Atrios also reviews a Johnny Cash album.)

Major operations: As you'll recall, Bush is trying to pretend he never said the war was over, and the White House has been claiming he just said that "major operations" were completed. Ah, but didn't he say: "I am happy to see you, and so are the long-suffering people of Iraq. America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished," to troops in Qatar?

Meanwhile, says Atrios:

So, now the new rumor is that the Bushies are planning to start withdrawing from Iraq in March. This jibes with Bush's rumored "no more fatalities after March" demand.

I have no doubt that right now the strategy is to find some way to at least appear as if they're withdrawing, though how they'd pull that off I have no idea.

But then again, there's Trent Lott's strategy:
"Honestly, it's a little tougher than I thought it was going to be," Lott said. In a sign of frustration, he offered an unorthodox military solution: "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You're dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out."
Reminds me a little of Barry Goldwater's whimsical wish that we could just drop a little bomb of the nuclear variety on Vietnam. Speaking of which, Atrios calls our attention to this post by the excellent "Charles Dodgson":
A lot of people get attached to romantic notions that just don't comport with the real world. Some people, for instance, want to believe that the whole traumatic Vietnam conflict would have been avoided if John F. Kennedy had stayed in office. For years, this notion has been denounced as being completely at variance with the well-studied historical record. Even Noam Chomsky has mocked its adherents as hopeless romantics. But some people just won't let go.

And now, we have tapes, made in the oval office in October of 1963, containing the voice of JFK ordering a complete and unconditional withdrawal from Vietnam within two years, "victory" or no. And he is backed up by the strong urging of, of all people, Bob "Body Count" McNamara, who had already concluded that prospects for victory were doubtful at best.

All this flies in the face of a historical record which has been consistently read to assert an essential continuity between Kennedy's Vietnam policy, and what Lyndon Johnson did afterwards. In fact, the most astounding part of James (son of John K.) Galbraith's account of the controversy is his discussion of just how much had to be buried to create that impression.

Wow! But you've got to read the rest, which has some very scary bones to chew on.

Atrios wants to be "a celebrity judge" in the contest Moby is organizing to create a spot ad for the Democrats, called "Bush in 30 seconds."

And an excellent cartoon by Toles.
20:59 GMT

Hate: It's the new Greed

First the Republicans, with the inadvertent help of Oliver Stone, made greed into a good thing, and it was Michael Douglas who played the hero on Wall Street (much to the surprise of the people who actually made the movie, who thought they'd depicted a real scumbag lizard). God loves the rich and doesn't much care what happens to the rest of us, and if we're not happy to wait for our reward in Heaven, we must be Bad People. So it's okay to hate us (and our little dog, too!). We've even reached the point where some leading right-wing preachers are openly leading prayers for the deaths of liberals in Congress, and the same people who were just appalled that Susan Sontag could question US foreign policies are strangely silent about this, uh, minor breach of etiquette.

Jesse's on hatewatch, and discovers that hate is a family value these days.

MWO learns that it's even a fit activity for the kiddies to join in with:

Lying liar Bill O'Reilly's stock in trade is of course hate - hating liberals, the principle ideology of the modern right. You may recall that earlier we listened to his astonishing performance on NPR where the whining crybaby cut off an interview because he was being offered the chance to respond to his critics. Even more astonishing, the NPR Ombudsman now says that the interviewer was too hard on poor little Bill. Old Fashioned Patriot thinks maybe said ombud has been getting into Rush Limbaugh's drugs.

And on the lighter side of hate, Skippy (who tipped us off about Old Fashioned Patriot), wonders if God is a movie critic, what with having struck two members of hater Mel Gibson's production crew with lightning, including the guy who plays Jesus in The Passion. God did the same to Orel Roberts' tower when he was holed-up in it claiming that The Lord was holding him hostage for a few million dollars. The same happened to that radio station that held a bonfire of Beatles records to protest John Lennon. Hm....
15:40 GMT

The holiday season

I'm one of those people who just loves Xmas, and I want to keep the X in Xmas, too. I love the tree, I love the lights, I love the scent of pine and the party atmosphere and mess of brightly-colored wrapping paper strewn across the floor. I even love the Coca-Cola commercials.

A few years ago I went home for the last Xmas I shared with my family before my father's death, and it was snowing when I came in on Xmas Eve. As I walked out of the airport I was shocked by cold I hadn't felt in more than a decade, having forgotten what zero degrees Fahrenheit was like. I hastily unsnapped my coat and used the zipper I usually ignore to shield myself, pulling my scarf high over my chin, tightening the hood close to my cheeks. I hate cold. It was worth it, though - as the car turned into our street I warmed up considerably at the sight of that winter wonderland I never get to see in London, the sheets of bright white with bright lights reflecting off of it from houses festooned with bulbs in an array of designs. God, I miss that.

We have lights in my neighborhood, but it's a different thing. As my high street has taken on an official recognition of its stature as Little India, the Dawali lanterns have become a permenant feature, hung by the council every so-many feet, made of metal, lighted all year long - well, new bulbs replace dead ones in time for the season, but enough of them stay lit all year to pretty-up the scene. But what really makes it the holidays here is the noise - the weeks on end of night after night of fireworks going off starting halfheartedly in the afternoon but intensifying as the sky darkens, sometimes a constant distraction well past midnight. Usually.

It's been a bit subdued this year, though. Maybe it's the fact that it's become so much colder, so much earlier than we're used to. I hope that's all it is.

It's been an odd autumn. Normally it's a bit grey and makes me miss Washington like mad. Not that I don't miss it the rest of the time. Last year Jim Henley and I were corresponding about when would I be able to get back home for a visit so we could get together, and I wrote:

You know, it's always such an agonizing choice every year - come for cherry blossom time? Wait 'til October for the Armenian church bazaar (and all that great food)? Thanksgiving? Xmas? (No! Too cold!)

(You should go down for lunch during the church bazaar sometime, it's worth it.)

Then something always messes it up and I end up coming for something that's at none of those times instead, like an sf convention, or a political conference, or my father dying. Or something.
Last September when we came, I did manage to arrange a memorial dinner in honor of my father at his and my favorite restaurant - O'Donnell's in Bethesda - the very last night before it closed. He loved the turtle soup and backfin crabcakes, and so did I. So I dragged all these sf fans there and made them try this stuff, and they loved it, of course. One last toast to the weird old man. Everyone loved him. It's amazing how many of them cried when they learned he was gone.

Food is probably my most important cultural and lifestyle marker. Right now I'm wishing I didn't have to miss the DC-area autumn - the trees and weather are usually pretty glorious around Hallowe'en - but by spring I'll be thinking about that porch swing and aching to be there. Well, actually, I'll be thinking about it as soon as winter really kicks in.

I tend to get a little maudlin around this time of year - there is just something about autumn. I used to find excuses to drive down Spout Run just to look at all the colors. I remember one night I stayed in Georgetown for a Hallowe'en party there and the next morning I was sitting on a step just looking up at the leaves strung like jewels across that bright blue sky, the air fresh but warm, enjoying a perfect moment. You don't get that here, and sometimes it hurts.

Wistfully yours,

But I still haven't been home. All the usual reasons - short of cash, too much going on during the periods where there's the best window for cheap flights home, etc. The whole eye surgery thing didn't help, of course. And so on....

Anyway, this year an immediate neighbor planted something new that crept over my fence and actually changed colors before going brown. Suddenly I could look out my back window and tell it was autumn. And the sky was actually clear, there was sunlight - it felt like, well, fall. So I was feeling kinda happy about that. But, as I say, it's been unusually cold, and it's actually reached zero way earlier than usual (it rarely reaches zero - and I'm talking C, not F - at all, and then only a couple-few times in the dead of winter). All of this presaged by a string of hotter-than-usual summers, naturally. But October? Weird.

So I'm already thinking about Xmas, even though we're still in the midst of Dawali season and haven't even reached Bonfire Night.

And like I was saying, I love Xmas - or Solstice, really, the point being that it's cold and dark and I love the pretty lights and mulled wine and all the other things people do to brighten it up, and at least the cold doesn't make people listless. I have to admit, there is something about stepping out into the cold in my cozy warm coat that makes me grin. Is it just me? I don't want to be out in it too long but for a little while I even catch myself laughing.

Some people don't appreciate anything about Xmas. They think the birth of Jesus is supposed to be solemn and dour and they don't like anything to do with the acknowledgment that it's bloody cold and dark and grim and we need something to make it pretty and fun.

So here's the irony: While I am an ardent defender of the spirit of the season, there are Christians who want to take Xmas out of our lives, even while other "Christians" are complaining that the nasty old Secular Humanists are trying to destroy Christmas and all that jazz. And Jeanne says The herald angels aren't singing this year.
14:00 GMT

Tuesday, 28 October 2003

Talking the talk

Atrios says that George Lakoff gets it. He's right:

Here's another example of how powerful framing is. In Arnold Schwarzenegger's acceptance speech, he said, "When the people win, politics as usual loses." What's that about? Well, he knows that he's going to face a Democratic legislature, so what he has done is frame himself and also Republican politicians as the people, while framing Democratic politicians as politics as usual — in advance. The Democratic legislators won't know what hit them. They're automatically framed as enemies of the people.
They misappropriate words and phrases ("interest groups", "degrading to women") to turn them against themselves, they market-test terminology until they find something that is sufficiently misleading that it makes people think they are getting what they want when they are getting the reverse, and so on, and so on, but Democrats have just sort of stood on the tracks and watched the train coming at them instead of doing something about it. It's nice to know someone is finally going to do something about it.
22:30 GMT

At Planet Swank

Nice wallpaper.

Go read Gregory Harris' Bush administration dishonesty watch.
13:03 GMT

Reading matters

This is Russell Baker's laudatory review of Paul Krugman's The Great Unraveling. And this is Bob Somerby's response, howling once again about the fact that no one ever speaks up about what's really going on in the press corps.

The Buzzflash interview with Gene Lyons: Let's just look at the situation like this: How much of a partisan do you have to be to look at George W. Bush and Wesley Clark standing side by side and say to yourself, "I'd pick George W. Bush to lead this country." How partisan do you have to be to decide that Bush is more qualified in a national emergency -- a guy who can scarcely speak in complete sentences -- to handle a crisis over a decorated war hero, a Rhodes Scholar, a retired four star general, and the former Supreme Commander of NATO?

Steven Hill & Rob Richie: 'Tom DeLay ambushes Texas - and America': With Republicans at a state level having controlled redistricting in such big states as Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and now Texas, GOP leaders have encouraged attempts to draw districts that not only get rid of white Democrats, but also moderate Republicans.

The Left Behind Series - it doesn't just fail as Christianity, it fails as fiction. Brought to you by Slacktivist, where it's being dissected.

Talk Left says, CIA Leak May Violate Patriot Act: [Sam] Dash says the leak constitutes an act of domestic terrorism as defined in the legislation. The idea of some of our least favorite administration members being held indefinitely at Ashcroft's private jail has a certain charm, but I don't think we'll see it. Also, After Exoneration, Hunt for True Killer Rare: The report finds that after a wrongful conviction is exposed, police and prosecutors cling to their original theories and seldom pursue new leads and suspects.

Atrios has the transcription of Cher's call to C-SPAN talking about her visit to the soldiers at Walter Reed - and asking why Bush, Cheney, et al. never seem to come and visit them.

A Brief History of Computerized Election Fraud in America by Victoria Collier: One Machine to Rule Them All.

Emma asks why her father hates welfare...and finds out he is a wild-eyed radical.

Greg Beato with the price of freedom: But clearly Lockheed is hoping to make civil disobedience as costly as possible, so it can keep arming the world, not to mention overcharging the Air Force, without fear of protest.

Teresa is worried when she finds out that the administration now wants to ID your snail mail.

Skimble has a good article up about a Wall Street Journal piece on CEO malfeasance. I had to look twice at this sentence from the WSJ: While the Bush administration is working to distance itself from shadowy corporate practices, he says, Democratic presidential candidates aren't doing a well enough job in taking the Republicans to task over the issue. A "well enough job"? Jeez.

Don't forget to Rock the Vote.
12:39 GMT

Monday, 27 October 2003

Yellow Doggerel

Link via Yellow Doggerel Democrat

(If anyone sees any good images of the aurora from the current activity, let me know, please!)

Steve Bates has several items worth having a look at over on his Yellow Doggerel Democrat weblog, including this one on the latest chapter from Bev Harris' Black Box Voting. The "blockbuster" item in that chapter, he says, is this:

CBS and other networks called the 2000 election for Bush... and Gore prepared to make a concession speech... BASED IN PART ON CORRUPTED DATA FROM A DIEBOLD VOTING MACHINE IN VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA... DATA THAT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED DELIBERATELY, using an extra memory card that has since disappeared.
Of course, the mistake was "corrected" in the sense that the negative 16,022 Gore votes... i.e., votes taken from Gore... were later restored (though it appears there may have been additional anomalies). But the correction did not result in the various networks' making a third call on Florida, a withdrawal of the call for Bush, until well into the next morning. The rest of us went to bed thinking Bush had won. And the public impression that Bush had won was by that time firmly embedded in the American consciousness.
And he preaches a sermon:
Sunday evening secular sermon -- Well, maybe that's a contradiction in terms; I don't know. Call this post PATRIOT Shames if you wish. But I'm inspired by the day's events to do a bit of "preaching," not on a religious subject, but in part on our very religious freedom itself. The so-called PATRIOT Act is two years old today, and I need to rant a bit. Here's the seed of my screed:
In 1920, when the ACLU was founded by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver and others, civil liberties were in a sorry state. Activists were languishing in jail for distributing anti-war literature. Foreign-born people suspected of political radicalism were subject to summary deportation. Racial segregation was the law of the land and state sanctioned violence against African Americans was routine. Constitutional rights for lesbians and gay men, the poor and many other groups were virtually unthinkable. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court had yet to uphold a single free speech claim under the First Amendment.
Are we returning to those days? God, I hope not. But we have Trent Lott and Haley Barbour and the infamous John Ashcroft known for their infamous racist pasts... I'm not sure in the case of Lott and Barbour that their sordid beliefs are really in the past. We have Rove and Dub and Rummy (until perhaps this week; it's hard to tell about the motivation for that clearly orchestrated leak) and Wolfowitz (will he have a change of heart, having nearly lost his... well, another body part?), all damning, and in some cases attempting to jail, individuals and whole organizations who oppose their policies, and Ashcroft (there's that name again) asserting the FBI's intent to send agents secretly into houses of worship (Islamic, mostly? who knows! it's secret!) to spy on supposedly pernicious activities. We have a whole movement dedicated to denying rights to lesbians and gays. And just as we have begun to institute protections for many people who for two centuries enjoyed none, we get the wretchedly misnamed PATRIOT Act, and its even more Orwellian proposed successor, the Domestic Security Enhancement Act. The latter, much criticized in leaked draft versions, is more draconian even than the PATRIOT Act. Oh, and don't forget TIPS and TIA (with the world's spookiest logo)... did you think they were gone? Dream on.
Back when Mike Dukakis was being accused of being a "card-carrying member of the ACLU" (because the Republicans don't believe in being able to defend your Constitutional rights in court), the national American Civil Liberties Union didn't issue cards, but so many people were asking for them as a result that they started giving them out. You know, this would be a real good time to get one, if you haven't already.
20:43 GMT

Once, they were patriots

Over at Common Dreams, Thom Hartmann says, Republicans - Please Take Back Your Party:

Today's so-called Republicans have established a mind-numbing record at polluting the environment; bloating government; appointing crony partisans; pushing the nation into debt to fund tax cuts for the rich; legislatively catering to the world's largest corporations; opposing women's rights; kneecapping states, local communities, and schools; eviscerating constitutional protections of liberty at home; and devastating our nation's reputation abroad.

They try to re-write history - the biography of Thomas Jefferson on the website has been re-written to turn him into a man who had "assumed leadership of the Republicans," while the reality was that Jefferson's party was the Democratic-Republicans and still exists today, called the Democratic Party. (The Republican Party is much more recent, having come into national existence in 1856.)

Corporate shills like former Enron lobbyist and current GOP chairman Ed Gillespie would have us think the Republican party was born in service to corporations. But Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, was also the first president to actively use the power of government in support of striking workers.

In Lincoln's era, the idea of strikes was so novel the word "strike" was put in quotation marks in newspapers, but Lincoln was often on their side. "Labor," Lincoln wrote, "is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

Republicans would do well to revisit the Republican Party's campaign platform of 1872, before the era of corporate personhood, as it may hold the seeds of their redemption.

They bloody should! That platform reads as an instruction to do exactly the opposite of what they are doing right now. I mean, look at some of this stuff:
  • "We are opposed to further grants of public land to corporations and monopolies, and demand that the national domain be set apart for free homes for the people."
  • "The [nation's] annual revenue, after paying current expenditures, pensions, and the interest on the public debt, should furnish a moderate balance for the reduction of the principal [of the national debt]; and that revenue should be raised by duties upon importations, the details of which [duties] should be so adjusted as to aid in securing remunerative wages to labor, and promote the industries, prosperity, and growth of the whole country."
  • "The Republican party is mindful of its obligations to the loyal women of America for their noble devotion to the cause of freedom. Their admission to wider fields of usefulness is viewed with satisfaction; and the honest demand of any class of citizens for additional rights should be treated with respectful consideration."
  • "The Republican party proposes to respect the rights reserved by the people to themselves as carefully as the powers delegated by them to the States and the Federal government. It disapproves of the resort to unconstitutional laws for the purpose of removing evils, by interference with rights not surrendered by the people to either the State or National government."
That was a party that loathed patronage and respected the people who actually do the work - "Labor". It was a party that supported tariffs not because they hindered the importation of foreign products, but because they discouraged American businesses from moving offshore (where they would be subject to those tariffs), taking American jobs with them as well as revenues. Most of all, it was a party that valued the protection of the nation's welfare above all else, and especially above the interests of a few rich and powerful individuals.

We could use a party like that.

Meanwhile, Barbara Ehrenreich upgrades university coursework with Class Struggle 101.
16:39 GMT

It ain't paranoia

At Electrolite, Patrick posted a quote from this article:

Jefferson County Republicans intend to place Election Day challengers at 59 voting precincts in predominantly black neighborhoods, a move that NAACP leaders yesterday called blatant intimidation.

The GOP election workers, most of whom live outside the targeted precincts in western and central Louisville, Portland and Newburg, will be on hand to challenge voters who they suspect aren't eligible.

Teresa added this to the ensuing comment thread:
When an organized group of out-of-state rioters in the pay of the Republican Party, some of whom were regular Congressional staffers or otherwise full-time employees --

Attacked a federal office building for the express purpose of stopping a ballot count that might well have shown that their candidate hadn't won the election --

(Pause here for a moment to count the number of offenses for which they could have been charged -- )

And it quickly became clear that the Republican organization hadn't particularly bothered to cover up the money trail running from those rioters well up into its central organization --

It then became obvious that these people don't think they're ever going to fall out of power.

I don't mean they're stupid or deluded. I mean that powerful, successful members of their faction believe they have a reasonable expectation of never falling out of power. That was clear at the time. I've been scared ever since.

There are only two ways to guarantee you're not going to lose an election. One is to not have an election. The other is to rig the elections. It's just a question of mechanisms.

If people don't start making noise now, not just reporting and deploring, it's going to work.

Take those words to heart.

I was wondering what people are doing about poll-watching and exit polls - which are absolutely vital for free and fair elections (especially given paperless voting machines). I asked a few people if they'd heard anything, and Bill Scher (of LiberalOasis) sent me a couple of links regarding the California recall election:

The answer appears to be Edison/Mitofsky, though I think the LA Times did it's own poll.

Here's a Google cache of an AP story describing the Edison methodology: [link]

Here's a LA Times story from before the election which said:

"In this election, both the Los Angeles Times and Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International plan to conduct exit polling. More than a dozen news organizations, including CNN and The New York Times, have signed up for exit polling data and projections from Edison/Mitofsky, said pollster Warren Mitofsky."
But that's all I have so far (and I've never previously heard of Edison/Mitofsky). And I'd like to know that a lot more than this is being done to make sure people will be there to keep an eye on things if when the Republicans get up to their tricks again in 2004. So, what have you heard?
13:04 GMT

Sunday, 26 October 2003

Look at that!

Thought I'd see what they had in plunge bras, and was mostly horrified, but this one is okay and of course fits in with the color scheme.

The Unofficial Paul Krugman Archive says PK's Book TV appearance is currently archived at C-SPAN after they said yes and then no because they were worried about appearing "unbalanced" - but they are unsure about a more permanent host. (Watch here.) You can also catch his (audio) interview on the BBC World Service if you click here before it gets rotated off.

The NYT is appalled by another divisive Bush nominee to the courts, Janice Rogers Brown.

Michael Tomasky interviewed Bill Clinton in The American Prospect. The right-wing Washington Times put some heavy spin on it, to which he has responded with an article making the spin clear. And he says: But somehow I doubt that. Lambro's a smart guy. Positioning Clinton's remarks as an attack on Dean, when they in fact were not, may mean that the Republicans are suddenly worried about Dean. That's speculation. I'm on safer ground in asserting that the Times has a vested interest in throwing gasoline on the fire of internal Democratic divisions -- divisions that Clinton, in this interview, sought to quell -- and keeping that story line alive above all else. And maybe that means that the person the Republicans are really worried about is Bush.

Liberal Desert makes another contribution to The Supply Side Gospels, and also brings us a modern fairy tale, as reported by our reigning pundits.

White Rose Society hosts .mp3 archives for left-wing radio shows that get limited broadcast distribution - a very fine and useful service for those who don't believe the hype about how only conservatives are interesting on the air. But it's costing money, so right now they are having a bit of a fund-raiser. Pop by the site and see if you can scrape up a few bucks for 'em.

Army Times currently has a presidential poll up that has Clark (at 40%) running well head of Bush.
23:40 GMT

Proof-texter of the week

Bruce Bartlett is the latest fake Christian to carry this fruity little bit of right-wing spin:

However, the most emphatic repudiation of wealth redistribution appears in Luke 12:13, in which Jesus acknowledges the value of wealthy people to society as a whole: "The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully."
As usual, we're looking at an extremely selective use of Biblical quotation to "prove" that Jesus was a champion of the rich - in this case, an opponent of inheritance taxes. Brad DeLong is, unsurprisingly, baffled that such spin can be placed on Jesus' teachings:
Let's look at the whole passage: Luke 12:13-21:
And one out of the multitude said to him, "Master, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me." And Jesus said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?" And then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness; for the life of any man does not consist in the abundance of those things which he possesseth." And Jesus spoke a parable to them, saying, "The field of a certain rich man yielded an abundant produce. And the rich man thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do? for I have no place in which I can collect my fruits.' And the rich man said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and will build larger ones, and there I will collect all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, thou hast many goods laid up for many, years: take thine ease, eat, drink, and enjoy thyself."' But God said to the rich man, 'Fool, this night they shall demand thy soul from thee; and as to the things which thou hast provided, to whom shall they go?' So is he that layeth up for himself: and is not rich toward God."
It's called "The Parable of the Rich Fool" for a reason, after all. The message of Luke 12:13-21 is not: "I, Jesus Christ, hate the estate tax, and wealthy people are extraordinarily valuable to society as a whole." The message of Luke 12:13-21 is: "Fools! You need treasure in heaven, not treasure on earth. So sell all you have, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow me."
Allen Brill of The Right Christians isn't merely baffled by Bartlett:
His misuse of the verses from the Hebrew Bible is even more outrageous. Armed with his or someone else's concordance, Bartlett has apparently done nothing more than look up the word "inheritance."
(Actually, I'd be surprised to know Bartlett made that much effort; he probably went someplace like this to do a search on the word online.)
It is not enough to say that he didn't bother to read the surrounding verses for context. More than that, he actually shaves parts of the same verse off if they do not support his point.

The full verse from Numbers actually reads:

Every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the Israelites shall marry one from the clan of her father's tribe, so that all Israelites may continue to possess their ancestral inheritance. (NRSV)
It's part of the case of Zelophedad and his daughters. The question involved what would happen to Zelophedad's God-given allotment of land since he had only daughters. First, it was determined that his daughters could inherit. Second, YHWH commanded that they could not marry outside their tribal clan. Otherwise, the land would pass from tribe to tribe and disturb the equal distribution that YHWH had established.

What is ironic is that the verse Bartlett cites comes from a section that refers to the Year of Jubilee. Leviticus 25 lays out the relationship between the Israelites and the land they "own." In reality, YHWH owned the land and the Israelites lived on it as aliens and tenants. Having initially distributed it among the tribes so that each family would share the land more or less equally, the Year of Jubilee is instituted to remedy the inequalities likely to arise in human communities. Over the course of 50 years, it was assumed that some families would fare better than others. There would be those who would be forced to sell their land to others in order to survive. It would even sometimes be necessary to sell one's children or one's self into slavery in order to eat. While some would be left in abject poverty, others would acquire land and slaves and become wealthy. Every 50 years, this process was undone. All the slaves were freed. All the land returned to its original owning families. There was no such thing as long term inheritance.

I've previously mentioned my disgust with this process, in which right-wingers pretend fealty to Biblical teachings while in fact twisting every bit of it to support utter blasphemy. But, you know, they have to, because it's the only way to counteract the effect of a more straightforward reading of the Gospels that created the ideology they so despise from the 1960s - the one preached by Martin Luther King, among others.
12:45 GMT

Saturday, 25 October 2003

Places to be

Max speaks:

A hundred years ago, the radical Randolph Bourne opined, "war is the health of the state." Imperialism requires domestic tranquility, and that costs money. In U.S. history, every great military venture was accompanied by expansion of the welfare state, strengthening of the tax system, and measures to forge cross-class national unity. A cross-dressing Maggie Thatcher could never pass for Bismarck. Bush probably doesn't know who Bismarck was. He's not up to the job of empire-building, and he's too stupid to back down. It seems more and more likely that elites -- by whom I do not mean Barbara Streisand and Alec Baldwin -- will do their best to bring down this incompetent Administration.
And he provides many links, such as a piece by Radley Balko called Has Ashcroft Abandoned Federalism for Federal Power? and elsewhere E-voting machine maker's copyright claims rejected and Bush's 'spirit' cursed, tossed into Thai river. And other good stuff.

A few interesting healthcare-related links briefly noted by Mark Evanier include Universal Coverage Is Within Reach, If the Pain Is Shared Equitably by Ronald Brownstein, and two interesting items on late-term abortion, one by William Saletan and another by Warren M. Hern, a physician who is uncertain about the outcome of the ban and who also said:

No physician expert on late abortion has ever testified in person before a congressional committee. No peer-reviewed articles or case reports have ever been published describing anything such as "partial-birth" abortion, "Intact D&E" (for "dilation and extraction"), or any of its synonyms. There have been no descriptions of its complication rates and no published studies comparing its complication rates with those of any other method of late abortion.
Oh, and congratulations to Mark on his award from the Writers Guild (which was presented to him by Gary Owens).

Eric Alterman has a new column of sorts at Center for American Progress' site. The first one skewers the media on how it's covering the demurrals in Congress (by Democrats, of course) over that $87bn, and also says:

Ever wonder why even in the most liberal elements of the SCLM conservatives rule the roost when it comes to economic issues? NPR and PBS, to say nothing of the networks, are brimming with shows like "Moneyline" and "Market Place." Don't recall any shows called "Laborline" or "Workers Place."
Good stuff on the California grocery store strike and the media coverage of it.

I can't remember where I got this link about how television viewing-figures seem to be sinking.

Important news from The Australian (via Fortean Times): Dog lovers in Japan will soon be able to receive mobile phone text messages from their pets. (I had some other exciting dog-related news off Ceefax, but I can't find the story about the security alert at Norfolk Airport yet on the web. Big to-do, turns out to have been set off by a novelty toy dog that farts.)

Mr. Sideshow just walked in and announced that his computer appears to have died ("and it's been weeks since I did a back-up"). Wow, that really puts a downer on things.
13:38 BST

Real good stuff

I really should mention Body and Soul more often, and more thoughtfully, but it suffers with me from the fact that sometimes it is just too good. But there I was, dissatisfied with my own previous piece, at least partly because, while it was in my mind, I never got around to writing about this aspect of the whole money-for-Iraq issue, which is to a great extent more serious than what I did write.

And Jeanne has a great piece up about Bush's moral agenda that really seems to sum up the essential George Bush:

It occurred to me that while none of Bush's policies have hurt me in the direct way they have Kinsley, the things that most anger me about him come from the same kind of issues that bring out MK's hostility -- moral posturing so twisted that to call it hypocritical seems a vast understatement. Bush doesn't just say one thing and do another. He does evil, and calls it good.
And then there's this eerie warning about Walmart's agenda and what it can mean for all of us. And on those really stupid defenses of Arnold Schwarzenegger, she gives us a look at some real moral clarity. Gosh, liberals are so weird, we actually think there is a difference between assault and a caress, between making love and rape. Where do we get our fruity ideas?

The divided nature of the Republican Party is another good piece that would have appeared in the editorial pages of The Washington Post if they were actually serious. But they're not, so go read Body and Soul instead.
02:02 BST

Friday, 24 October 2003

Partisanship and its other

I can tell it's non-partisan to deplore Bush policies because some of the most ardent supporters of the Republican Party are doing it. Jim Jeffords left the party over it before it even got this bad, Chafee and Snow, limp-wristed as they may be about it, have been protesting Bush policies and have even taken to voting against it. Even the likes of Bob Barr and Dick Armey have been known to do it, not to mention former president Bush.

In early 2000, my sister forwarded that anti-Taliban e-mail to me - you know the one, it became spam after a while? The woman who had originally written it no longer even had that e-mail address. Anyway, I was well tired of seeing it by then, and pissed off with the tendency of denizens of the net to think they can create the equivalent of chain letters as a substitute for lobbying their own representatives. Everybody hated the Taliban, but it was going to take a lot of political will to solve that problem. And I didn't think just bombing them was likely to do the job.

I had no problem with the idea that a Republican president and legislature might be able to move the necessary political mountains; a Republican who was committed to doing the job might very well have an easier time of it than a Democrat, as a matter of fact. The trouble is, by 9/11 of 2000, I'd seen enough of Bush to know that he didn't have what it takes. His idea of playing footsie with Pakistan didn't thrill me, either. He sure hasn't done anything to allay my doubts, and his decision to invade Iraq rather than finish what he started with Al Qaeda was the capper.

But when Democrats in Congress came up with the idea that part of that $87bn George W. Bush wants for Iraq should be paid as a loan, my reaction was that it didn't sound like a very good idea to me. I still haven't figured out why it's supposed to be a good idea. In fact, it sounds like a bloody lousy idea. It doesn't make sense. I'm not so partisan that I can support it just because Democrats came up with it. (On the other hand, I'm not stupid enough to treat it as a reason not to vote for the Democrats, unlike some people. The Republicans are not offering a superior alternative.)

And then I remembered how politics works. If you can't prevent a bill from passing with too much garbage or not enough sweeteners in it, you can always attach some piece of nonsense that will turn the other side against it. It's a time-honored strategy (although not a particularly nice one). This is the only excuse I can think of for the loan requirement, and while I may not like it, I think forcing Bush to veto the damn thing could be justified if it means slowing down the process until more sense can be injected into it. It's not impossible that this is precisely what it was there for. God, I hope so.

But let's be utterly serious about this. Throughout the '90s, plenty of corporate entities did business with Saddam, including US companies (some of which are not unaffiliated with that guy who pretended not to live in Texas so that he could have a shot at being the official resident of the Naval Observatory and disappear off to an undisclosed location). Much of Iraq's existing debt (and Saddam's arrogance and murderousness of the past) is owed to those very people. But those deals were made on behalf of Iraq by Saddam Hussein's government - a government which the current US administration has now told us was not a "legitimate" one, and which government no longer exists. I don't see how we can deny the sovereignty of Saddam while at the same time insisting on enforcing his contracts on the Iraqi people, and I don't see why companies that, by this administration's own definitions, did business with the enemy, should be reimbursed for their efforts.

Nor do I see why the American taxpayer should pay premium sums to the profiteers who are charging luxury rates on uncompetitively-awarded contracts for what could be delivered a lot more cheaply locally.

By my reckoning, Iraq doesn't owe us anything, and it certainly doesn't owe a dime to Brown & Root, and neither do American taxpayers. George Bush and Tony Blair owe Iraq a lot, since they were willing to invade a nation on the back of passel of lies. They destroyed infrastructure and homes, they killed thousands of people, and they put our soldiers in harms way - for reasons they still won't own up to. General Electric and Tim Russert and The Washington Post and Fox and all the other bits of rubbish in the news media who purported to be bringing us information but refused to place any scrutiny on Bush's claims before the invasion, and who actually pushed Bush's message (including the parts about how disagreeing with Bush was tantamount to supporting the enemy), owe Iraq. And the bigots who just wanted to bomb some Arabs, they owe Iraq. But the rest of us don't.

Let those people who voted for and continued to support Bush because they would be reaping the benefits to the tune of as much as several billion dollars pay for fixing Iraq. They're the ones who helped break it. They can afford to give up those upper-bracket tax cuts along with their war profits, and that should be the proviso that the Democrats unite behind.
15:18 BST

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Galloway expelled by Labour:

George Galloway has been expelled from the Labour Party in the wake of his outspoken comments on the Iraq war.

The MP for Glasgow Kelvin immediately denounced the decision as "politically motivated" and he pledged Labour would rue the day it decided to throw him out.
The accusations were judged to break a rule which bans "bringing the Labour Party into disrepute by behaviour that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party".

There is no right of appeal against the ruling, although it is possible that it could be challenged in the courts.

Mr Galloway said: "This was a politically motivated kangaroo court whose verdict had been written in advance in the best tradition of political show trials."

Right. Tony Blair lies his little hiney off in order to get Britain into a war it didn't want and shouldn't have supported - getting a lot of people killed, by the way, not to mention making the world a more dangerous place for us all - and it's Galloway who has brought the Labour Party into disrepute. Yeah, right.
01:55 BST

Stuff to read

Mary at Pacific Views talks about how the Dean campaign is bringing patriotism back to America.

This is a PBS feature about the impact of polls on the news, and says, among other things, that, "The Gallup organization has begun releasing information directly to the public, because it says, the media were not reporting its results with any depth." I guess they mean they are putting it on the web - without it, I don't really see how they could do that. ( Via The Bunker.)

CalPundit made some good points about the need for unions to place workers on an equal footing with employers in terms of negotiating and enforcing contracts. Charles Dodgson does not disagree, but sees other problems looming that unions, as they are currently constituted, can't really help with.

Matt Yglesias says at Tapped: Conservative pundits have spent a lot of time since 9-11 bemoaning the lack of European enthusiasm for various aspects of the war on terror, but they've spent very little time asking what could actually be done to improve the situation.

The Religious Right scares Sasha. They scare me, too, but they infuriate me even more. The campaign to ban late-term abortion is a pretty good indication that what they really want is to harm women. (More compassionate conservatism, too.)

Talk Left says: Musician John Mellencamp and his wife Elaine have published An Open Letter to America: It's Time to Take Back Our Country.

Donna the Vampire Slayer (via Woolgathering).
12:12 BST

Thursday, 23 October 2003

Feet of Clay

I'm really busy today and just have a moment to post, but you might want to read The Negro President by Garry Wills:

I have admired Jefferson all my life, and still do. His labors to guarantee freedom of religion would in themselves be enough to insure his place in my private pantheon. But there is much else I revere in him. A quarter of a century ago, I published a book praising him as an Enlightenment philosopher. A year ago, I published a book praising him as an artist. Along the way I have written articles that looked at different aspects of his life. But I have only now devoted an entire book to one deadly part of his legacy —the protection and extension of slavery through the three-fifths clause in the Constitution.

Via Amygdala
17:15 BST

Wednesday, 22 October 2003

Seen all over

Get Your War On.

A year later, Senate is a different place without Wellstone: "There are particular times when we really need people of principle who are willing to say what they think, without being concerned about whether it's terribly popular among a broad cross-section of senators or the American people," Joyce said. "I think this happens to be one of those times."

Really, there is no more important domestic political story than the growing voting-machine scandal. And we need to start acting like it, instead of just insta-clucking as if it’s just one enormity among many. - PNH

The Daily Mis-Lead on how George Bush supports our troops.

George Galloway, MP, is still pissed off.

Fareed Zakaria: President Bush’s commission on public diplomacy recently noted that in nine Muslim and Arab nations only 12 percent of respondents surveyed believed that "Americans respect Arab/Islamic values." Such attitudes, the commission argued, create a toxic atmosphere of anti-Americanism that cripples U.S. foreign policy and helps terrorists. To address the problem the commission suggested amajor reorganization of the American government, hundreds of millions of dollars of funding and the creation of a new cabinet position. I have a simpler, more urgent suggestion: fire William Boykin.

Via Altercation, Seymour Hersh, THE STOVEPIPE: How conflicts between the Bush Administration and the intelligence community marred the reporting on Iraq’s weapons.

Via Bartcop:

Disgusting. How did your representatives vote?
Tom Tomorrow on those poor, beleaguered conservatives.
Poster: GOPocalypse Now.
23:52 BST

Family Values

My parents were old enough to be my grandparents, and they had some pretty old-fashioned values, so they worked on a fairly traditional model: Mother knows. Mothers know, Mother is always right, and if the kids don't do what Mother wants, it's "Wait 'til your father gets home." Father's job, of course, was to swat the kids around and tell them to do what Mother says.

In my own family, it must be said, this model didn't work out too well, owing largely to the fact that my mother was pretty short on parental instincts and my father had them but assumed he must be wrong since, of course, Mother knows. So he was utterly confused and demonstrated some pretty, um, counterproductive behavior. I was 19 before he finally figured out that maybe Mother could be wrong, and he was a lot easier to get along with after that. But my dad was solid as a rock when it came to the other things fathers are supposed to do, and he wasn't just following a model, he believed in his responsibilities to his family right down to his core.

In the White House, however, the same model seems to be working even worse, since Mother may or may not have the instincts, but the teenagers have taken over the house and the swatting part seems to be the only parental responsibility they are even aware of. Worse, they all think they are Father, but they aren't doing the breadwinning part or the bill-paying part or the supporting-the-family part or even the mowing-the-lawn part. They never even wash the car. Each one of them seems to think they just get to give orders and someone else will clean up the mess. God only knows who they think is going to take out the trash. And no one is doing the Mom stuff - the calling the doctor and getting along with the neighbors and doing the dishes stuff.

When I had my tonsils out, my parents were both at my bedside. But George W. Bush was playing golf in another state when his daughter was hospitalized. So I guess it's no surprise that Mr. Commander-in-Chief has no time for the people he has sent to risk life and limb for him. He is never at their bedside, and he can't even be bothered to go to their funerals. It's no wonder they've started to run away from home.
15:23 BST

In Blogtopia
Yes! Skippy invented that phrase!

The Carpetbagger Report looks at a potential nominee for the Republican 2008 presidential nomination.

"The worst movie realization of a comic-book costume since Joel "Nipple Fixation" Schumacher's rubber fetish gear in Batman & Robin."

Ayn Clouter says: Canonize Bush!

TJ offers a definition of integrity and some advice to Joe Lieberman. Also, via Dagwood, the Michael Moore interview by Amy Goodman.

Aaron finds the Republicans saying Gephardt will be hard to beat. But Nick Confessore reckons they might just be gaming us.

Demagogue shows you what Ann Coulter really thinks.

Thomas Pynchon to appear on The Simpsons - with a paper bag over his head. (Via Electrolite Sidelights.)

Billmon sings Billie Holiday discussing "The political price of inequality" and the middle-class squeeze: Even at today's prices, $93,000 will buy you a pretty decent selection of Rolexes. You really ought to read this - and the comments.
12:40 BST

Tuesday, 21 October 2003

What's out there

The Daily Howler is astonished at Larry McMurtry's stupid review of a stupid book on the Clintons. It's all true - reading the review reminded me of that shot in Cat Ballou of Kid Shaline on his horse, both drunk, leaning against a wall.

Great News! Dwight Meredith will now be posting at Wampum.

The Tom Tomorrow interview at Buzzflash.

Bush/Cheney Reelection Campaign Dirt Digging - Bob Beckel watches Republicans root through other people's rubbish bins.

The Fresno Bee says Voters miss the mark, hit 'fringe' in the recall election, citing our good friend as their inspiration: An anti-establishment Internet Web site is asserting possible voting irregularities in Tulare County because three fringe candidates for governor received huge chunks of their statewide totals here. [...] The "" Web site alleges that Tulare County's computer voting system might have been hacked to "skim Bustamante votes to 'fringe' candidates." But it's easily possible that ballot-design may be the real culprit.

American foreign-policy scholars from left and right form group to address Bush policies. "Now there's been a shift in the country that has taken place," he said. "The fact that we're all together here speaks volumes about the degree to which our foreign policy is off course. We're finally getting our act together," said Christopher Preble, a Cato analyst who played a key role in convening the group.

"Perhaps I was too generous," says Josh Marshall, having previously accepted "security" as an excuse for hiring only subcontractors from outside of Iraq.

Sydney H. Schanberg's Village Voice article on The Widening Crusade (Bush's War Plan Is Scarier Than He's Saying.)

BBC reports 'No health benefit' from prayer - that is, from having others pray for you. I love it that someone actually did a study on this. I guess it probably means there are no political benefits from having Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson pray for your party, either.

Jim is having a bad time and it's making it hard to blog at Rittenhouse Review. Atrios suggests you click to make things better, here:

16:34 BST

Tramp Lamps

Happy, Elayne?

05:14 BST

Comic section

20 years ago, Mark Slackmeyer said: "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" He's right again.

Mark Evanier reports that Dilbert will be drawn by guest cartoonists this week, and you can see the strip here each day and click on it to find out who drew it. Mark also provides a link to Dick DeBartolo's site where you can learn much about tech-toys.

[Note to Mark: What Al Gore said was that he'd read in a newspaper article that Eric Segal had based the lead characters in Love Story on Tipper and Al. That is, in fact, what the newspaper article said. However, Segal said that the article was only partly correct, and that the character Oliver in LS was based on Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones, his pals from college. But journalists and talk show hosts made fun of him for "pretending" Oliver was based on him when, in fact, Oliver was based on him.]

Fiore: The Incredible Roadshow.
04:24 BST

Monday, 20 October 2003

Living with the law

Bush War on Dissent Continues, says Nathan Newman, discussing a recent case against Greenpeace:

What was not typical was the government's response. As normal, the protesters were individually arrested for trespass and sentenced. But then, fifteen months after the incident, federal prosecutors are seeking to indict the whole organization under an obscure 19th century law banning early boarding of a ship before docking.

The organizational indictment of a non-profit is a clear attempt, following the pattern of the Patriot Act, to revive conspiracy-like charges to suppress dissent.
Oh, and despite the fact that even a minor organizational conviction could profoundly affect the non-profit's tax status and in other ways, the prosecutors are asking the judge to deny Greenpeace the right to a jury trial.

No free speech, no right to a jury.

Welcome to John Ashcroft's world.

And, on a similar theme, David Neiwert's Republican Newspeak Zones takes off from this article in Salon on "Keeping dissent invisible" - that is, this administration's use of what it calls "First Amendment Zones" to corral people into if they want to express their disagreement with George W. Bush. David says:
What is remarkable about these "zones," however, is that -- in contravention of their name -- they are actually about suppressing citizens' free-speech rights. While most Americans believe the entire country is a "First Amendment zone", the Bush White House is herding its opponents into fenced-off areas well away from anywhere the president might see or hear them, which means there is no interaction between them and Bush for the media to record. Some of them are set up as far as two miles away.
It is clear, in fact, that suppression of dissent in this fashion is purely a Republican motif. The Secret Service did not conduct itself in this fashion during Bill Clinton's tenure.
No, in fact Clinton was actually known to engage hecklers on occasion, as well. But then, he wasn't a coward. Or a member of the modern Republican leadership:
When did "First Amendment zones" first appear? The earliest form of them, unsurprisingly, was at George W. Bush's inauguration.

Though they went largely ignored by media, there were thousands of protesters in Washington that day, making it (fittingly) the largest Inaugural protest since 1973. Indeed, of the 300,000 estimated to be present, well over two-thirds of them were there to protest Bush's illegitimate ascension to the presidency.

My friend Maia Cowan was present, and she recalls that "the protest groups were split among different venues; they weren't allowed to have one big protest in one big place. (My guess was that the president-to-be didn't want anybody seeing how many protesters were there.) There were attempts to keep the protestors away from the parade route, including penning people up so that they couldn't even go back the way they came when they were blocked from going forward toward the parade."

Maia has collected a bunch of links at her Web site, Failure is Impossible, related to the First Amendment zones.
Because they are purely a Republican enterprise, the use of these zones should become an issue in the 2004 election, if Democrats are smart about it.

I'm presuming that Democrats will not ask the Secret Service to set up "First Amendment zones" for their appearances or in any way try to separate protesters from supporters. (If they do, they'll deserve to lose.) It is likewise nearly certain that Bush and Cheney will use them.

And every Democratic candidate should point that out at every opportunity they get.

And they might just do that if you start writing those letters right now, to the nine Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination, to any sitting Democratic representatives in your voting district, and so on, and so on. Why, there are even a few Republicans who claim to care about the Constitution who should probably be getting a letter, too.

Meanwhile, there is the Patriot Act, along with other bizarre manifestations of the Ashcroft "Justice" department. Talk Left, of course, is where I look first for news on that subject, and there's actually more good news:

Attorney General John Ashcroft is coming under increasing fire as critics and those in Congress move forward with legislative proposals to scale back the Patriot Act.
State and local authorities have in some cases acted more quickly than Congress, and some have already passed legislation prohibiting enforcement of the unpatriotic legislation Ashcroft produced after 9/11 that Congress sleepily passed. Here is the latest example:
Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, and the Attorney General for California, issued free-speech guidelines to the states' law enforcement officers this week. They aren't exactly in sync with those of the FBI:
California law enforcement officers should not spy on citizens exercising their constitutional rights of speech, religion and association unless they have reason to think a crime has been or will be committed -- no matter what John Ashcroft says.

That's the gist of one of a series of legal guidelines that state Attorney General Bill Lockyer sent to every police chief and sheriff in the state this week in the form of a book titled, "Criminal Intelligence Systems: A California Perspective."

Talk Left also reports on the strange investigation of Philadelphia's Mayor, John Street, saying, "It does seem like a dirty leaks campaign is going on. Who but law enforcement would know about the subpoena and leak it?" Hmm, yes, it does....
20:26 BST

Morning web crawl

Senator Robert Byrd says the emperor has no clothes, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman says he will not make the mistake of relying on the word of the administration again.

Nick Confessore has a useful post up at TAPPED about Clinton-hating on the "lefty-left".

Help put this new DNC ad on the air and demand accountability from the White House.

Georgie Anne Geyer talks about the rift between former President Bush and his son, made clear at last in this little message to the boy king: But the news from College Station, Texas, this week -- that the First Father, former President George H.W. Bush, has given his own most treasured award to Senator Edward Kennedy -- is nearly as astonishing. [...] In the Bush Library announcement of the award to Teddy Kennedy, the spokesman praised the liberal senator as a man who "consistently and courageously fought for his principles," and as an "inspiration to all Americans."

Liberal Oasis has a good post up analyzing what is revealed about Bush's management style in a recent article from which many have quoted a single amusing sentence but few have commented on the rest.
12:38 BST

Sunday, 19 October 2003

More stuff

Digby thinks Wesley Clark may be the guy: Clark being a "Manchurian Republican" is primary campaign hype. His narrative "journey" to the Democratic Party is a powerful invitation to many who have been brainwashed by the dittohead crapola but are feeling the cognitive dissonance of Republican triumphalism/failure. Combined with the natural affinity of the cavalier culture with a successful military man, Clark is the best positioned to edge out Bush in a few critical southern swing states. [...] And, as an extra added bonus, he can actually do the job.

Todd is back at Monkey Media Report after celebrating his 40th birthday (happy birthday, Todd!) and gives his analysis of the California recall, which is much the same as his analysis of the previous election cycle in which Gray Davis only barely scraped out a victory over a dreadful Republican candidate: The center-right Democrats who controlled Gray Davis were completely out of touch with the voters who call themselves Democrats. All the rest is icing. Too right.

Cowboy Kahlil seemed to be saying a while back that he wouldn't be posting at his own page anymore so I hadn't been paying attention, but it seems while I wasn't looking he has started up again, and nobody told me! In any case, there are some good posts up at ReachM High Cowboy Network Noose that are well worth checking out, such as this one that features quotes from an interview with an NCO returning from Iraq who is not happy with the way American service personnel had their benefits ripped out from under them while they were fighting for their country, and these questions for the administration that Democrats should be hammering them with. Also: Conservative dating services at World O'Crap.

But here's some bad news: Jeff Cooper's kid turns out to have some problems, and Jeff's decided that means he has to shift his priorities away from his weblog.

Bertram Online has a story I somehow managed to miss that horrifies me: Vatican: condoms don't stop Aids. This is indefensible, since while condoms don't absolutely guarantee to stop AIDS, they can sure slow it down. The Vatican has for years now been proving that it thinks not using condoms is more important than human life. (Meanwhile, I want the English translation for this post following up this post.)

At Fanatical Apathy, Adam Felber reports on Supreme Court deliberations on medical marijuana.

If George Bush was put in the White House by God...

Huh. It apparently was suicide. Weird. (Thanks to Rick Keir.)

Absentee ballot.
11:28 BST

Things that baffle me

In a world full of guys who long to get women out of their underwear and think they are better at mechanical stuff than we are, how come so few of them figure out how simple it is to undo the hooks in back on a woman's bra?

Well, finally, here is a bra to make everyone happy, so easy to open that even a man can do it. (Read the description, dummy!) (More here.)
09:56 BST

Saturday, 18 October 2003


Thom Hartmann notices something unsettling:

In the last Democratic debate, one of the questioners pointed out that fewer Americans identify themselves as either liberals or Democrats than at any time since before Roosevelt's New Deal. The implicit question was, "What's so bad about you guys that Americans have decided 'liberal' is a curse word and people are embarrassed to call themselves Democrats?"

Richard Gephardt tried to bluster his way through an answer, pointing to a few Democratic victories, but the overall response left the impression that all the candidates (and most other Democrats) are clueless about what has happened in America over the past 20 years, why it happened, or how.

And people like Richard Gephardt aren't helping things by talking about "Democratic victories" instead of talking about what being a liberal is, either.

Do these guys really believe this spin that Al Gore merely ran a wimpy campaign, or something? Do they not see what happened? If that's the case, they are just sitting ducks.
14:09 BST

On the web

Mark Kleiman on Defending Nepotism: "Nepotism" originally referred to the need to find cushy jobs in the church for papal bastards, euphemistically called his "nephews": nepoti. Today's advocates of nepotism have acknowledged fathers, but they're still a bunch of bastards in my book.

Fewer Jobs for Editorial Cartoonists, via Mark Evanier. Also, David Frost's Nixon anecdote.

Jerome Doolittle says: Putin probably can't believe his good fortune in having President Bush on the world scene. Look at this Black Commentator analysis to see how we all might pay for Bush calling him "Pooty-Poot." And it's kinda scary: The previously unthinkable is now on the table. Russia, the world's second largest oil exporter, is giving serious consideration to trading its black gold in euros, a switch that would surely set dominos in motion among other oil producing nations and, ultimately, knock the dollar off its global throne.

Skippy tells us how Chris Matthews learned to use the Force.

Oh god oh god oh god I hate this!

Kieran Healy finds an interesting call for papers - about "Philosophy and The Onion" and "The Undead and Philosophy".

And then my computer crashed so I no longer remember where Excerpts from the New Messiahs came from, but it's definitely a scary story: Although the plan to take over the government of the United States was announced publicly on Pat Robertson's 700 Club, it was at a time when only the faithful viewed the show, and only the faithful unquestioningly accepted the possibilities: "We have enough votes to run the country," Robertson said, "and when the people say, ‘we've had enough,' we're going to take over the country." But it was Tim LaHaye, (often called the founder of the religious right), who laid out a specific plan to Pat Robertson's audience. He said it simple and straight and quick. And they did it.
13:22 BST

So near and yet so far

Elton Beard put it like this:

Shorter Thomas L. Friedman:
On Listening

I trusted Bush to remodel my world and all I got was this lousy perpetual war.

Oh, but reading the article itself, it is so much sadder than that.
There was a headline that grabbed me in The Times on Saturday. It said, "Cheney Lashes Out at Critics of Policy on Iraq."

"Wow," I thought, "that must have been an interesting encounter." Then I read the fine print. Mr. Cheney was speaking to 200 invited guests at the conservative Heritage Foundation — and even they were not allowed to ask any questions. Great. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein issue messages from their caves through Al Jazeera, and Mr. Cheney issues messages from his bunker through Fox. America is pushing democracy in Iraq, but our own leaders won't hold a real town hall meeting or a regular press conference.

Out of fairness, my newspaper feels obligated to run such stories. But I wish we had said to the V.P.: If you're going to give a major speech on Iraq to an audience limited to your own supporters and not allow any questions, that's not news — that's an advertisement, and you should buy an ad on the Op-Ed page.

Such an approach would serve both journalism and the nation, because it might actually force this administration to listen to someone other than itself. And learning to listen may be the only way the Bush team is going to muster and sustain the support it needs to succeed in Iraq.

To begin with, listening might actually force the Bush team to frame its vision of U.S. foreign policy and its rationale for the Iraq war on our hopes for the world, not just our fears of it. Every other word out of this administration's mouth now is "terror" or "terrorism." We have stopped exporting hope, the most important commodity America has. We now export only fear, so we end up importing everyone else's fears right back.

Yes, America faces real threats, and this administration, to its credit, has been serious about confronting them. But America also has many more friends, actual and potential, and nurturing them is also part of our national security. We cannot spend so much time talking about our enemies that we forget to listen to our friends, because without them, ultimately, we cannot win either a war of terrorism or a war of ideas.

See what I mean? He's almost there. (And about these friends: is this the same Tom Friedman who so recently was declaring France our enemy?)

But then:

Thankfully, there is one group of people the Bush team is listening to: Iraq's silent majority. Ironically, Iraq is the one place in the world where the Bush team has chosen not to become obsessed with terrorists, not to focus exclusively on them and their noise, but to just keep on building a better Iraq for Iraqis — the only way to counter terrorism in the long run — despite the bombs bursting in air.
Listening to Iraq's silent majority? Er, how, exactly? And yet:
Unfortunately, in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza — where some really sick terrorists claimed three U.S. lives yesterday — the Bush team has decided to fall in behind Ariel Sharon's failed strategy of only listening to the terrorists and postponing any initiatives until they are all defeated. So the only voice we hear there is that of the terrorists. No alternative reality is being built to smother or counter them, and that's just what the terrorists want.
He gets it right, and gets it right, and then gets it wrong again, and then gets it really right. Now, if only he could get around that one big blind spot. He's edging toward it, but he's not quite there yet, and it's painful to watch.
12:12 BST

Friday, 17 October 2003

You heard it here last

I bought this, I couldn't resist.

Yellow Doggerel Democrat notes that some bloggers doubt the story of the of U.S. soldiers bulldozing Iraqi fruit trees is true - because the reporter's name is Cockburn. But YDD finds corroboration for the story elsewhere. (And there's a lot of other good stuff up on his page you should check out.)

Charles Kuffner is off in France for a breather, but before he left he did a number of interesting posts on things like military absentee voting (for the record, I find that all it requires is to make a note to write in for the ballot on the right day, so it's always marked on my calendar), and of course more weird Texas politics, especially the whole shameful redistricting story and Delay's confusion about which legislature he is supposed to be serving in. Also a reminder to check out the Talking Dog interview with Dick Morris.

And, speaking of Texas politics, here's an interview with Molly Ivins.

Mary at Pacific Views wants to spread the word about Lt. Col. Samuel Gardiner, a real hero, because he has enough credibility and visibility to know he will be targeted by the Rove/Bush vengence machine. The Bushies have gained so much of their power by their ability to make their enemies pay (Gray Davis certainly is a casualty in their war) that it takes real courage to ask them to be accountable. As with Joseph Wilson, only strong and public support for Sam Gardiner will protect him from their vengence machine. I think we can help most by publicizing his report far and wide and by asking the media to pay attention to it.

Charles Dodgson finds more evidence that it is possible to be too rich.

Blah3 discovers that Bush really did sacrifice for the troops.

What if MadKane interviewed Rumsfeld? (Which reminds me, I can't believe how many of you couldn't recognize instantly the meter to "Colonel Bogey" aka "The Bridge Over the River Kwai".)
16:13 BST

You tell 'em, Ted!

Like it is:

"Our men and women in uniform fought bravely and brilliantly, but the president's war has been revealed as mindless, needless, senseless, and reckless," Kennedy says, according to the text of his speech. "We should never have gone to war in Iraq when we did, in the way we did, for the false reasons we were given."
"Nearly six months have elapsed since President Bush flew out to the aircraft carrier and declared `Mission Accomplished' in Iraq," Kennedy says. "Today, we all know all too well that the war is not over; the war goes on; the mission is not accomplished. An unnecessary war, based on unreliable and inaccurate intelligence, has not brought an end to danger. Instead, it has brought new dangers, imposed new costs, and taken more and more American lives each week. We all agree that Saddam Hussein was a murderous tyrant, and his brutal regime was an affront to basic human decency. But Iraq was not a breeding ground for terrorism. Our invasion has made it one."

He continues: "All the administration's rationalizations as we prepared to go to war now stand revealed as double-talk. The American people were told Saddam Hussein was building nuclear weapons. He was not. We were told he had stockpiles of other weapons of mass destruction. He did not. We were told he was involved in 9/11. He was not. We were told Iraq was attracting terrorists from Al Qaeda. It was not. We were told our soldiers would be viewed as liberators. They are not. We were told Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction. It cannot. We were told the war would make America safer. It has not."

Can't argue with that.

That link came from The Note, which had these as well:

David Johnston and Eric Lichtblau in the NYT: Several senior criminal prosecutors at the Justice Department and top F.B.I. officials have privately criticized Attorney General John Ashcroft for failing to recuse himself or appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leak of a C.I.A. operative's identity.

And Amy Goldstein in The Washington Post says 'Means Test' Deal Near On Medicare. Policymakers have regarded it as one of the most effective steps they could take to improve the system's fragile financial health. But liberal Democrats and others say it would undermine a central principle on which the 38-year-old program was founded: universal health insurance for all people 65 and older.
14:14 BST


Gary Farber interprets Bush:

Mr. Bush said that he wanted the truth and that he had instructed his staff to cooperate fully. But he suggested that one impediment to the inquiry would be the unwillingness of journalists to disclose their sources.

"I mean, everything we know, the investigators will find out," he said, speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting at the White House. "I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers."

Yes, to be sure. I have no power to actually make inquiries of my senior staff, and I cannot trust them to respond honestly. They will lie to me! Only if you, journalists -- with all due respect -- give them up, will I find out what they say. They are more loyal to you, reporters, than to me! I have no command over them, no say, no power, no control, no threat! I throw myself on your mercy! They work for you, not for me! Help me, Obi-Wan Journalist, you are my only hope!

This is a terrific indictment by Bush of his staff, which will, of course, be taken, as it is intended, as the signal to turn the blame, perversely, upon journalists, rather than political employees who betray state secrets for political gain.

Simple and obvious, but I don't think I've seen it spelled out so clearly before.

[PS. Gary, I always know who these things are aimed at, but you have it completely wrong, as is so often the case when you jump on your high horse to lecture your friends. We don't think Friedman is on "the other side", we just think he's completely in denial.]
00:19 BST

Thursday, 16 October 2003

Two sides of Reason

Julian Sanchez on Attack of the Dean-Leaners makes a case for libertarians supporting a Democrat in 2004. Personally, I don't see how real libertarians can have any other position, but then I'm so ancient I can actually remember why the Republican Party started pretending to be the party of "small government". The current Republican leadership isn't about fiscal responsibility or Constitutional freedom; these people are perfectly happy to spend lots and lots of your tax money on themselves, and they aren't the least uncomfortable with the idea of a police state theocracy as long as they get to be in charge. Let's not forget that Jeff Gerth got all his fun stories about "murky" Arkansas politics from old-line segregationists who hated Clinton because he wasn't one of them.

Cathy Young has a fairly dishonest piece called Bipartistan Coulterism ("Who's meaner, conservatives or liberals?") that tries to pretend the left has any equivalent of Ann Coulter. Of course, she finds equivalence, which works if you really think that Michael Moore's outrage about dead kids in highschools is the same as Coulter advocating killing liberals and expressing disappointment that McVeigh failed to bomb The New York Times. And here's Young's idea of a "mainstream liberal" going over the top:

The rhetoric gets especially noxious on racial issues. Some years ago, Al Gore said this about critics of affirmative action: "I've heard those who say we have a colorblind society. They use their color blind the way duck hunters use a duck blind -- they hide behind it and hope the ducks won't notice."
Sorry, but if Young thinks this is sticking the knife in, she's got a really thin skin. The fact is that there are two kinds of people who think racism is dead in America: those who have had the luxury of not having to see it and racists who don't regard the racism they see as wrong. But plenty of racists know they are racists and recite this silly racism-is-dead incantation in the hope that it will fool people (and it sometimes does). Gore's mild comment was right on the money about those people.

Another seething liberal sack of bile who Young apparently thinks is the equivalent of Rush and Coulter surprised even me:

In a recent, cautious critique of Coulter, conservative writer David Horowitz declared that he enjoyed her attacks on liberals because he felt they were well-deserved: "No one wields the verbal knife more ruthlessly than so-called liberal pundits like Joe Conason, to cite but one example....If people Joe Conason admired were the objects of acid Coulterisms, so much the better." A 2002 Wall Street Journal piece lauded Coulter as the right's answer to Lenny Bruce, Louis Farrakhan, and Angela Davis. Meanwhile, liberals talk about the need to develop programming to counter invective-filled right-wing talk radio.
Let's leave aside the equation of Lenny Bruce with any of those others for the moment, and pretend we don't know that while Bruce mused over ideas, he rarely went after individuals or even for parties. (Even when Bruce was complaining about the statements he heard in the courtroom, I never heard him mention anyone by name, let alone try to equate them with a party or even an ideology. It was always, "the judge said" or similar.)

But Joe Conason? Mild-mannered, cross-every-T and dot-every-I Joe Consaon? Joe Consason, who not half as many people are as familiar as they are with Ann Coulter's face and voice and name? Are these people serious?

Oh, yes, they are, because how Joe Conason sticks the knife in is not by hyperbolic, grossly generalized calls to kill people, not by making up libellous claims about people in poorly-researched books full of footnotes that don't match up with the claims, but by simply telling you what actually happened and placing it in its legitimate context. Conason does exactly what Young says "we" should be doing, and that's the worst thing that can happen to the modern "conservative" movement:

This endless shouting match -- "You're mean!" "No, you're mean! And since you're being mean we'll be even meaner!" -- can be entertaining at times. But it drowns out serious arguments.
And there it is. When someone like Joe Conason makes the arguments, it's liberals being "mean", it's the "shouting match". Because right now, the arguments aren't so much about the issues that concern voters as they are about the corruption of our discourse - and, indeed, of our government itself - by conservatives.

Conservatives have promoted one overwhelming Big Lie that contains all the others, and that is that liberals are too far left for the mainstream, thus obscuring the fact that liberals, by and large, are the mainstream. Theocrats complain that liberals are immoral while deriding what is largely a manifestation of mainstream Christian morality as "political correctness". Robber baron-style grafters pretend that universal health care is some kind of communist plot despite the fact that most Americans actually support such a program.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter. Liberals aren't trying to be "meaner" than conservatives. For conservatives, obscuring the arguments has been the point of all this meanness. What liberals are trying to do is to bring us back to the truth.
14:01 BST

I'm too sleepy to understand

Michael Kinsley's Why Bush Angers Liberals starts off simply enough, responding to the likes of O'Reilly, Brooks, and Krauthammer and their silly whines about how, oh, gosh, liberals don't like Bush and our public discourse is so uncivil, with an appropriate quick jab of pot-kettle-black and then this:

So why are liberals so angry? Here is a view from inside the beast: it's Bush as a person and his policies as well. To start, we do think he stole the election. Yes, yes, we're told to "get over it," and we've been pretty damned gracious. But we can't help it: this still rankles. What rankles especially is Bush's almost total lack of grace about the extraordinary way he took office. Theft aside, he indisputably got fewer votes than the other guy, our guy. We expected some soothing bipartisan balm. There was none, even after 9/11. (Would it have been that hard to appoint a Democrat as head of Homeland Security, in a "bring us together" spirit?)

We also thought that Bush's apparent affability, and his lack of knowledge or strong views or even great interest in policy issues, would make him temperate on the ideological thermometer. (Psst! We also thought, and still think, he's pretty dumb — though you're not supposed to say it and we usually don't. And we thought that this too would make him easier to swallow.) It turns out, though, that Bush's, um, unreflectiveness shores up his ideological backbone. An adviser who persuades Bush to adopt Policy X does not have to be worried that our President will keep turning it over in his mind, monitoring its progress, reading and thinking about the complaints of its critics, perhaps even re-examining it on the basis of subsequent developments, and announce one day that he prefers Policy Y. This does not happen. He knows what he thinks, and he has to be told it only once.

So far, so good. Well, pretty much all the way through, it's just a bit of harmless musing on that sort of thing - you know, the amusing fact that George Bush lies and changes position without seeming to notice and has an irony-free mind, all dropped almost soundlessly into the pond, making hardly a ripple. Kinsley is not an incendiary kinda guy. But I had a little trouble with this final paragraph:
Krauthammer is wrong, though, to suppose that anger is driving liberals to self-defeating ideological extremes. The mood is not suicidal. It is comically pragmatic. The comment you hear most often about the Democratic primary race is, "All I care about is sparing the country four more years of that &*!!@#$%!" It's sweet when liberals try to be cynical and hard-headed. If I were a conservative, I wouldn't be too worried.
It's that last sentence. Because I suppose it's fine and dandy if he means, gosh, liberals aren't really doing that much harm to the civil discourse. But that's not really what conservatives are worried about in the first place. What they're worried about is the possibility that actual criticism of the administration will penetrate the public's consciousness and then they will lose. And whether that happens has little to do with what liberals think or say, but rather what the media says.

Of course, if my side owned most of the media and voting machines, I guess I wouldn't be worried, either.
10:02 BST

Wednesday, 15 October 2003

The morning's reading

David Neiwert is talking about Spreading extremism, and makes me think about the difference between "religion" and politics. You know, there's no place in the Bible that says Christians are obliged to promote theocracy - that's politics, not religion. In fact, as I was saying just yesterday, this whole idea of promoting theocracy and pounding your chest about how other people aren't religious enough is another example of a "Christianity" that sounds pretty much the opposite of what old JC said. Pray in the closet, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and then go out and love thy neighbor. Sheesh, it's not hard to work out.

Tbogg finds a nice little list of Life Lessons I've learned from Republicans that includes: Destroy everything. Nothing matters. Win. There are some lessons from Democrats, too.

Barney Frank on what we should do about Bush's request for $87 billion, and, both via Mark Evanier.
15:05 BST

Places to go

The awesome Lisa English gives you a quick course in gerrymandering.

Hesiod has been covering the military astroturf letters - identical letters supporting George Bush going to papers all over the US. Now Josh Marshall has been picking up the story.

Eli at Left I on the News picks up the thread of how when George W. Bush talks about Saddam Hussein, he always gives good descriptions of himself.

Why are the police wondering whether this was a suicide? Investigators in Monterey County, Calif., are trying to determine if a suicide pact or a homicide caused the deaths of two women, who were found on Friday in an oceanside cabin with snug plastic bags around their heads. Abigail Tapia, 27, and Jacqueline Toves, 26, were discovered lying on a bed with their hands bound in duct tape. One of the women had a grinning Halloween mask over her plastic bag, and another mask was nearby, the Associated Press reported.

Phish posts in honor of Defense of Marriage week.

Bill Moyers says that Tom DeLay is preventing the vote to overturn the new FCC rules: The effort to reverse the FCC is dead in the water, sinking the democratic process with it.

Two from the Smirking Chimp on voting machines: Trouble in Georgia for Diebold: Did e-vote firm patch election? and Fears of more US electoral chaos after flaws are discovered in ballot computers. And Ernest Partridge writes To a Republican friend: Is this the country that you want?

In the mail: My name is Thierry Robin. I'm a freelance reporter and a member of the ABIR association. I will go on a trip to Iraq from 8th to 22nd of October and I will blog from Baghdad about women's rights (in French and in English). I thought you could be interested in this initiative and that's why I'm contacting you. Theirry blogs in both French and English at Centifolia.

Twilight Cafe finds an original gift for your Xmas list.
01:06 BST

Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Like Heaven on a Saturday night

So Roz rings up and says she's really getting ticked off with all the anti-homosexual stuff that's supposedly supported by the Bible, and feels a rant coming on. And we start talking about the many things about "Christian fundamentalism" that feel slimy and false and in some cases downright blasphemous.

It's a funny thing, you grow up in a religion and you study it and you sing in the choir and you teach Sunday school and you understand its essence and maybe after a while you think the paranormal bits are flaky or maybe you're just not sure you can believe it or maybe on most days you think it's complete rubbish, but it's still where a lot of your values come from, and by god you may only wish you could believe in an afterlife but you sure as hell know what being a Christian is supposed to mean in the material world, how you are supposed to treat your fellow human being, and if that's what the deity wants from you, well, that's okay whether you believe in the occult parts of it or not.

And then along come some fruitcakes who claim to be Christians and who insist on promoting a version of "Christianity" that places hating a few sex acts and their practitioners above every bloody thing that Christ said. Charity, sharing, love? Those things are for wimps and scoundrels, apparently. Forgiveness, redemption? Only for me and my best friends, but not for anyone else. The only thing that's really important is that you hate fags.

Does that sound much like the religion most of us were raised in? Are those the values that America was founded on? I don't think so, and what is coming from the "Christian" right today, especially with its current deification of George W. Bush (not to mention Sunny Moon), seems to me about as blasphemous as you could get. And it offends me.

In the comment thread I cited earlier at CalPundit, a conservative kept referring to "traditional religion", something conservatives supposedly value and liberals supposedly do not. But as someone who has actually read the Gospels several times, and who really did teach Sunday school, I seem to remember Jesus saying a whole lot more about loving your neighbor and having charity (of both heart and wallet) than about killing fags. I remember the story of the Good Samaritan, the Loaves and Fishes, and the Widow's Mite, but I don't actually remember the story of The Good Rich Polluter Who Destroyed the Unions and Prevented Universal Healthcare. And I remember that the one person in the Bible to whom Jesus promised paradise was not a king, not a president, and not an attorney general or a Supreme Court Justice, but a man who had been sentenced to the death penalty.

The "traditional" religious nuts are lost in an orgy of greed and self-righteousness and public piety - all things Jesus preached against - and calling the rest of us bad Christians. Yes, it offends me.

Meanwhile, there is Roz, who thinks the whole gay-bashing Because The Bible Says So thing is somewhat ahistorical as well. She has a good look at what we know about Rome and Greece and Judea and thinks an awful lot is being willfully ignored in order to come to some skewed conclusions about homosexuality. And, anyway:

In the middle of all this, out in the province of Judaea, Jesus appears, preaches and is killed, and manages never to say a word on the subject. With one possible exception.

There was a centurion whose servant was sick and he came to Jesus and asked that his servant be cured. Jesus said, well, bring him, and the centurion said, I am used to having authority and know what it is to say come and he cometh and go and they go, and you can do this here and now. Jesus praises his faith and heals the servant.

Does the average RSM go and see a local miracle-worker in a turbulent border society just for a useful slave? Or is it a last resort taken over someone who is actually important to him? The story in the Gospels is not inconsistent with Jesus cheerfully healing a Roman soldier's catamite.

Just saying.

I can think of other reasons why someone might be sufficiently fond of a slave to go well out of his way to save the slave's life, but it's always a possibility. Meanwhile, I don't remember the parable of The Good Fag-basher, either.
So, fast forward to now, and what we have is an alliance of people who want to kill queers for Jesus, people who want to reinstate the idolatrous idea of the Bible as an unerrant compendium of literal truth dictated by God - a bad case of Koran envy - and people who just want a battle they can win. They've mostly lost on Darwin; they've mostly lost on women clergy; they lost on slavery - and some of them really mind that; people are voting with um, not exactly their feet on abortion, contraception, fornication and adultery. And, as I point out above, they have absolutely let themselves forget about usury.

This is not about saving souls, or saving bodies from disease, war and poverty. It is certainly not about living holy lives. It is about regaining the power.
I have not been a Christian for several decades because I lost my capacity to believe in God about the same time that I wanted to rescue the preachings of that good and holy man Jesus from the thugs, bullies and bigots who claim to act in his name. I do not believe in the divinity of any great spiritual leaders, but Jesus seems to me less flawed than most - I prefer him to that self-hating windbag Gautama or to Mohammed, a poet who found a way to make everyone listen to his verses. But I remember how it felt to believe and I think if I still believed I would be saying strong biblical things about generations of vipers and people that need to be driven from temples.

Losing my faith stopped me breaking my heart.

I know just what she means.

Update: Roz has a further post here.
13:46 BST

Looking around

Mathematics of morality at Crooked Timber.

John Podesta says Bush Had Better Take This Leak Seriously.

Eric Alterman has more on Novak's curious history.

Patrick notes another appalling violation of the Geneva Convention. *hisssssss* (Also, in Sidelights, how religion affects voting patterns.)

And, at the other end of the spectrum, I saw Britney without her panties at Oliver Willis' page.
12:12 BST

Monday, 13 October 2003

Things to see

Mitch Wagner reports the curious case of a German woman who came to America, presumably to see her American fiancee, but who was detained in Atlanta when she arrived, interrogated, booked, and put in a cell, left without food for 20 hours or more, and then sent home. She was never accused of or charged with any crime. She was told that she was not suspected of any crime. The punchline? Her fiance works for the Homeland Security Department.

Movie: Do androids dream of electronic sheep?

Atrios with the Shorter Gregg Easterbrook: I don't like Tarantino, and I blame the Jews. Also, one really good Tom Tomorrow cartoon. And a link found in a comment thread points to this article on Dinesh D'Souza at the Rogue's Gallery.
21:24 BST


CalPundit revisits the subject of the extremists in the Republican leadership from Texas:

Every party has extremist elements. I can live with that, especially since most extremist elements have little actual power. But some political movements are so odious that decent people need to take active measures to shun them. In the same way that Democrats purged their party of communists in the 40s and Jim Crow racists in the 60s, and the Republicans purged their party of the Buchananites in the 90s, Republicans need to purge the Texas strain of messianic intolerance currently growing on their right wing. It is not harmless, it is not small, and it is not a joke.

Consider this. Suppose that very serious, very miltant communists took over the New York State Democratic party and wrote a platform advocating, say, nationalization of key industries and confiscatory taxation of all income over $50,000. And suppose that one of these New York Democrats had enough support in the party to become House majority leader. And then, finally, suppose that as communist influence spread throughout New England and beyond, Democrats pretended that nothing was amiss. A few communists here and there are harmless. Most of them don't really believe that stuff anyway, and we're just compromising with them on a few minor issues. Honest.

And then suppose they nominated one of our most extreme communists as the presidential candidate - and won. Ah, but the Republican right thinks that's exactly what happened in 1992, which shows just how extreme they really are.

The comment section, if you have time to read it, is very instructive. It's hard to believe that anyone can watch this administration in action and still think that the Republicans bring us "small government", for example. I shake my head in wonder.
20:02 BST

Sunday, 12 October 2003

Two things

In last week's International Herald Tribune there were letters complaining about their use of the famous disappeared photograph of "The Falling Man". I actually find it baffling that people would be offended by it; to me, there is a truth in that picture, that single soul stark against the Tower walls, that is never contained in phrases like "3,000 dead" or any of the others that are used to recall this enormity.

But the only certainty we have is the certainty we had at the start: At fifteen seconds after 9:41 a.m., on September 11, 2001, a photographer named Richard Drew took a picture of a man falling through the sky—falling through time as well as through space. The picture went all around the world, and then disappeared, as if we willed it away. One of the most famous photographs in human history became an unmarked grave, and the man buried inside its frame—the Falling Man—became the Unknown Soldier in a war whose end we have not yet seen. Richard Drew's photograph is all we know of him, and yet all we know of him becomes a measure of what we know of ourselves. The picture is his cenotaph, and like the monuments dedicated to the memory of unknown soldiers everywhere, it asks that we look at it, and make one simple acknowledgment.

That we have known who the Falling Man is all along.

I found that link at Agenda Bender, where I also found a link to this profile of Theodore Sturgeon by Paul Williams, which contains some startling information about his family background:
Theodore Sturgeon was born February 26th, 1918, on Staten Island in New York City. His name at birth was Edward Hamilton Waldo. "I was born a Waldo," Sturgeon told science fiction scholar David Hartwell in an unpublished 1972 interview, "and had kind of an interesting family. Peter Waldo was a dissident priest in the 12th century who got ahold of the dumb idea that perhaps the Pope at Rome ought to go back to the vows of poverty and obedience, get rid of the Swiss Guards and the jewel-encrusted cross, and put on a monk's habit and go out amongst the people. The Pope took a very dim view of that indeed, and they persecuted the Waldenses all across Europe for 200 years."

"That was the Waldensian Heresy, that you should go back to Apostolic Christianity. Nobody wanted to go and do a thing like that. And they settled in Flanders, and in England, and in 1640 two ships of them decided to go to the New World. They got separated by a storm, and one of them went to Connecticut; there are still Waldos in Connecticut to this day. The other ship went far south, and it wound up in, of all places, Haiti. Well, Haiti in 1640 was already a refuge for runaway slaves; and when they found they had a shipload of dissident priests, they welcomed them with open arms. Waldo became corrupted to Vaudois, which became Voodoo, which is the etymology of the word 'voodoo'... . There's been a whole line of gurus in my family: Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of them."

And also reminds me again of just how much I always did love Sturgeon's stories.
Our heroes have to have feet of clay, not so we can bring them down to our level but so we can rise to theirs. We have to become our own heroes; and if it's true that these stories, "Bright Segment" and More than Human and "The Comedian's Children" and all the rest of them, were written by a human being, then I think there's hope for all of us.
I could never pick my favorite Sturgeon story, but I always knew he was another bringer of the Gift.
18:27 BST

Style section

I thought long and hard about whether to use this picture, but hey, it's for charity and all, and anyway, the colors are so perfect.

Advice for those who wish to Cross-dress for less. (Thanks to Jeff Schalles for this one.)

Leah has a good post up at Corrente comparing two remarkably different fashions in administration scandals.

Rent-a-Negro - I bet she's really articulate, too!

Bob Somerby congratulates the media for being fashionably late in JUST IN TIME! Two days after California’s election, the Post takes apart its state budget. He also recommends (seriously) Michael Winerip's NYT article on just how much of a rip-off "No Child Left Behind" really is, How a Good School Can Fail on Paper.

"Shrilliant" - the word coined by one of the commenters at Eschaton in response to Paul Krugman's latest, taking on the conservative babble about how it's time to be civil in Washington (but only toward Republicans). Atrios offers the Shorter Paul Krugman: David Brooks is my little bitch. Another entry in the comment thread: "Since Krugman is Jewish, I'd just like to point out that anyone that disagrees with him is antisemitic."
02:13 BST

Saturday, 11 October 2003

The habits of a lifetime

Dana Milbank is having more deja vu:

Let's review: Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak gets a leak of classified information from foreign-policy hardliners. The column he writes causes a huge embarrassment for the Republican White House and moderates throughout the administration. Capitol Hill erupts with protests about the leak.

Sound familiar? Actually, this occurred in December 1975. Novak, with his late partner Rowland Evans, got the classified leak -- that President Gerald R. Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were ready to make concessions to the Soviet Union to save the SALT II treaty. Donald H. Rumsfeld, then, as now, the secretary of defense, intervened to block Kissinger.

The main leak suspect: Richard Perle, then an influential aide to Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-Wash.) and now a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and a confidant of neoconservatives in the Bush administration. The account was described in a 1977 article in The Washington Post, noting Perle's "special access" to Evans and Novak.

Evans and Novak, the National Journal wrote in 1979, were among the three "chief recipients" of classified leaks from Perle. "Several sources in Congress and the executive branch who regard Perle as an opponent said that he and his allies make masterful use of the Evans and Novak column," The Post reported 26 years ago. "One congressional aide who tries to counter Perle's and Jackson's influence on arms issues said the Evans and Novak 'connection' helps Perle create a 'murky, threatening atmosphere' in his dealings with others."

So, Richard Perle makes a habit of leaking classified material to Robert Novak, eh? And they still thought it would be a good idea to put him back in government? I guess he feels right at home with all those other criminals they've got in the administration.

It's kind of amazing, when you think of it, that the Bush White House contains so many likely suspects for this kind of crime.

Update: Josh Marshall investigated Bob Novak's claim that he frequenly misuses the term "operative" to mean "analyst" and found that, no, Novak's previous uses of those terms have always been accurate.

Further update: CalPundit reads Marshall and says: I'm always amused when some Washington player who's been around for decades claims that some embarrassing statement or other was, in retrospect, just an off-the-cuff lapse. It always sounds so plausible — we all make mistakes, don't we? — but it's usually completely bogus. After all, if you had spent your entire life writing about American literature, do you think that one day you would just absentmindedly refer to Mark Twain as a playwright?
14:33 BST

Friday, 10 October 2003

What's up

Via Hoggs Online

Congratulations to Mark Kleiman for getting off Blogspot.

Global Warning: web movie narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, based on "The Last Hours Of Ancient Sunlight" by i.e. America host Thom Hartmann.

CalPundit explains what the Republican leadership really wants - and why it should scare you to death. You really, really should read this post.

Via Atrios: An unpleasant board game proves that you don't need computers to upset people, and Margaret Cho really really really doesn't think much of Ann Coulter. Also, Mike Isikoff is making stuff up again to defend the administration.

I missed my big chance to break this story in the blogosphere, but now the NYT has done an article about London's very own costumed super-hero and Teresa is on it. There are many good posts up at Making Light since she got back, btw - check it out.
14:38 BST

It bugs me

I don't have any links for this because it's one of those things I keep seeing in stories but it's not "the story" so I haven't made a note of it, but I started seeing it back during the flap over Trent Lott's remarks about how we wouldn't have all "these problems" if Strom Thurmond had won the presidency, and I've noticed it cropping up again during the latest thing about Rush Limbaugh's stupid remarks about McNabb.

It's like this: People keep saying things like, "It was a foolish thing to say, but I don't believe that Trent Lott/Rush Limbaugh/whoever is a racist."

Just what is that statement supposed to mean? That Rush has never personally burned a cross on anyone's lawn? That Lott doesn't actually wear a sheet and is unlikely to be taking part in lynchings? I mean, what do they mean by "racist"?

I'm sorry, but if you're constantly saying racist things and promoting racist ideas and policies, you're a racist. And they bloody well are.
14:15 BST

You'll believe what you want....

The trick is not to recognize that there's more to something than just the word. If you don't like the word, you just don't call it that when it's something you are doing. Here's Liberal Oasis

Mr. Bush, a senior administration official said, made it clear that he wanted "all the powers of the government" turned toward making the reconstruction work in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The president is impatient with bureaucracy," the official said.

So what's the Petulant One's solution? More bureaucracy, and that's the second mistake.

The nut of the shake-up is a new White House organization, the Iraq Stabilization Group (even the name sounds desperate) run by Condi Rice to coordinate reconstruction efforts.

Oh, those small-government conservatives....

LO also draws our attention to an interesting US News cover story on Cheney that's chock full of quotes.
13:37 BST

Thursday, 09 October 2003

A few good blogs

Responding to reports that troops stationed in Iraq are expressing an unusually high interest in knowing what the penalties are for going AWOL, Skippy blogs, reminding us that the most notorious penalty has been to become "president" of the United States. Skippy is also not as sure as Mother Jones that the press will heed the wake-up call.

Jesse speaks: I'm going to do something I rarely do here, and put on my Negro hat. Somehow, I think it's the only way Jennifer Graham will respect me in the morning. A very nice take-down of both Ms. Graham's patronizing codswallop and of Rush's idiotic swipe at affirmative action in the NFL. (And speaking of take-downs, our man borders on cruelty to The Professor. And another one here. None too kind to Donald Luskin, either.) And here is Jesse's reaction to an exchange between Chris Matthews and Jesse Ventura.

Elton Beard proves that a picture and some words is worth...well, a buncha words. Tells you all you need to know about how vigorously we can expect the White House to find out who burned Valerie Plame. And don't miss the latest Shorter George Will!
16:13 BST

The bully-boy

Fox lying liar Bill O'Reilly has been whining about how cruelly he was treated in an interview on NPR's Fresh Air. You can click the link to hear the whole story. Short version: The interviewer gave O'Reilly the opportunity to respond to his critics. After mostly misrepresenting them (without contradiction, even of his libelous mischaracterization of Jeremy Glick, the son of a casualty of the 9/11 attacks), he suddenly made a big show of being outraged that he was being fed what he perceived to be tougher questions than she probably had given Al Franken when he was interviewed, and cut off the interview. He pretends to have stood up to abusive treatment by the "liberal media"; I maintain that it was either a deliberately staged confrontation in which he distorted what was happening so that he could play victim or just what it sounded like - a cowardly refusal to respond to criticism.

I gotta tell ya, as an author, I would love to have such an opportunity to respond on national radio to my (and Feminists Against Censorship's) critics. But then, our critics are lying.
15:30 BST

You are Ahmed Chalabi!

So Patrick comes online, throws me a URL, and disappears again before I have time to load the page. Ah, but what an informative and lovely piece of writing it is!

You are Ahmed Chalabi! You left Iraq when you were 12 years old, but history doesn't matter. You are the future of Iraq, and the very breath of its liberation.

So go, you Armani-clad warrior, to arms, and ride with the wind.
And so war comes, and thousands die. You return by night, unannounced, airlifted into a cloistered compound. You take your place on the council, and show your disrespectful feet to the legions of the conquered. You are Ahmed Chalabi. Thousands more die, and again, and again. Beneath your feet, the oozing trillions. There is no end in sight.
You are Ahmed Chalabi! The government flies you to Manhattan, and you take Iraq's seat at the U.N. the very night President Bush pleads to the Assembly, echoing Warren Zevon's great song of plans gone awry: "Send lawyers, guns and money. It has hit the fan."

And you aren't surprised to learn that Zevon died that night with a smirk on his lips, because that is the way the world works. And you are Ahmed Chalabi.

Not surprisingly, the author of this piece, says the by-line, is not a professional journalist, but a software developer.
06:02 BST

New things I learned

What some people look like: Doc Searls has a couple of photos of well-known bloggers up along with his reporting on BloggerCon, plus some stuff on file-sharing.

Who knows where the money goes? The Daily Outrage gives you the itemization on that $87 billion.

Ah, now I understand: I somehow had missed the fact that it was how the late Sally Baron had referred to George Bush, and I'd been wondering why I'd seen so many people on the 'net calling him "Whistle-ass" lately.
03:58 BST

Wednesday, 08 October 2003

Read these

Billmon is willing to give the WH the benefit of the doubt over reviewing the documents and phone logs before turning them over to the Justice Department: Not everything this White House does is part of a criminal conspiracy. Although the odds sometimes seem to favor it. But he's not feeling so reserved about things in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then there's the Vulcan mind meld at TNR....

Brian Weatherson at Crooked Timber links to RIAA Radar, which lists Amazon's 100 top-selling non-RIAA albums (which, as Electrolite notes, ranks Warren Zevon's The Wind at number 1). In the comments, Robert Nagle mentions his Share the Music Day page, where he explains why music-sharing is a good thing - and more legal than you might think. Like me, Robert believes that .mp3s aren't replacing music purchasing, but rather radio - the free-to-the-listener promotion of music and performers that we used to take for granted before the days of Clear Channel.

At The Smirking Chimp, Ellis Henican says (in Newsday): 'Hunt for leaker is right up there with hunt for Osama'. Hmm, that's right - Bush is in the habit of telling us that finding people and things - Osama, Saddam, WMD - is his number one priority, and then as soon as he has the chance to do it he loses all interest. And Guy Reel says: You need not be a liberal to oppose Bush's vision of America. You don't even have to be a moderate. You can be a conservative and find reason for alarm in reckless budgeting, abuses of civil rights and go-it-alone warfare. It is not that Bush is too conservative to lead America - in fact, his policies are contrary to conservative ideals. Simply put, Bush has taken an extremist course of government while deliberately and coldly ignoring those who want nothing more than to make sure America remains as great as it is.

Talk Left reports increasing criticism of the secret state-sanctioned torture in America; there are just too many reasons to believe that the "mercy" of the needle may be even worse than the chair.
22:43 BST


I had to run over to Broadcasting House to record a radio interview today - er, yesterday afternoon, I mean, but it's still "today" to me. Man, the sky was beautiful, although it was mighty windy out. I love it when that happens.

"Bush, the Nazis and America": Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, now available at Orcinus.

UK Event: The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) announce Scrambling for Safety 7 this month at LSE:

The London School of Economics will host a public meeting on Wednesday 22 October to assess proposed government legislation to retain and snoop on information about the phone and Internet activity of everyone in the UK.

A series of Statutory Instruments currently under consideration by Parliament are intended to create a legal basis for comprehensive surveillance of communications. The LSE meeting, bringing together industry, rights advocates and a range of government agencies, will test the fairness and legality of the proposals. It will also comprehensively assess the implications of the legislation.

TBogg notes that the administration is planning to rearrange some deck chairs:
The White House has ordered a major reorganization of American efforts to quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed the reconstruction of both countries, according to senior administration officials.

The new effort includes the creation of an "Iraq Stabilization Group," which will be run by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. The decision to create the new group, five months after Mr. Bush declared the end of active combat in Iraq, appears part of an effort to assert more direct White House control over how Washington coordinates its efforts to fight terrorism, develop political structures and encourage economic development in the two countries.

And Tom says:
I want to see if I have this right. The same people who got us into this mess are going to get us out of this mess by starting a new "group" with a new name. I mean, were they not taking this thing seriously previously?
And he also finds a journalist who has located Negroes!

And finally, I must apologize for having erroneously used the phrase "Right-wing anti-government crackpot Jim Henley" in an earlier post. The correct terminology, coined by PNH, is, I believe, "Our favorite right-wing antigovernment crank, Jim Henley." Which is why he is linked over there on the blogroll.
00:01 BST

Tuesday, 07 October 2003

Deja-voodoo all over again

It's me!

Joe Vecchio writes to the NYT:

Let's see: the independent counsel was created because of Republican abuse of power, it was disbanded because the Republicans abused it when they had the chance to use it themselves, and it is being resurrected because Republicans are once more abusing power. Does anyone see a pattern here?
Meanwhile, Digby has a great piece up that makes a convincing case that the White House leaker who exposed the fact that two officials had burned Valerie Plame to at least six journalists may have been Andy Card:
Many assume that it's Tenet for a variety of reasons, many of which are very compelling.

But, I think it's somebody else. Somebody who has voiced concerns in the past about the political operation of the White House. Somebody who expressed alarm in Ron Sisskind's seminal Esquire article that Karl Rove would have unfettered power with George W. Bush after the resignation of Karen Hughes[.]

And Josh Marshall, unimpressed with spinning by the White House and Safire, says once again:
The president's lieutenants did this. Rather than trying to punish them, he's trying to protect them. The only thing the White House has been aggressive about is attacking the victims of its own bad-acts: Wilson and Plame.

These simple --- and I think indisputable --- facts tell you all you need to know about what's happening here.

And Lisa English (is back!) editing the increasingly irrelevant NYT's wonky coverage.
05:35 BST

Monday, 06 October 2003

In one eye

This one's for you, Unablogger!

Thom Hartman finds in Rush's predicament a lesson on public and private morality.

Atrios thinks he sees a bait & switch: Right before Dr. Strangefeld shows up to visit with some troops, they're told they'll be going home soon. After he leaves, that is no longer operational. Meanwhile... Dammit. They're using the Chewbacca defense.

Right-wing anti-government crackpot Jim Henley explains why he sounds like a liberal these days - but he really needs to read this. (Do we need to say it again? If you support the current Republican leadership, you're not a libertarian!)

From Seeing the Forest: I have just learned that the DNC - Democratic National Committee - has passed, unanimously, a resolution asking for voter-verified paper audit trails on all electronic voting machines before the 2004 election. This is a big victory! They also asked for full funding of HAVA, the law that helps pay for new voting equipment, passed by COngress after the Florida vote was stolen. The national Democratic Party is now on record on this issue. Will the Republicans support this or try to block it? If they try to block it - why?

Ampersand is up to part 7 of his series on the pay gap between men and women and the myths about why that gap has nothing to do with sexism. This time he looks at a study that is used to promote this myth that compared only the wages of those between 27 and 33, and shows that the gap increases among older workers even when other factors are taken into account - and tells you why.
12:41 BST

Sunday, 05 October 2003

More things to read

Congratulations to Chris Bertram on the publication of his book.

Thanks to Randolph Fritz for notifying me of this little bit of censorship detailed in Willamette Week:

The top two editors at The Business Journal have resigned after a dispute with the paper's publisher.

Dan Cook, who has edited the paper since 1997, left on Sept. 22, and managing editor Sharon DeBusk followed him out the door three days later. Neither would elaborate on the reasons for their departure. "There were philosophical differences over the paper's direction. That's all I will say," Cook told WW.

But sources familiar with the situation at the weekly paper say that tensions boiled over following Business Journal Publisher Craig Wessel's decision on Sept 10 to kill a story that had been written, edited and sent to the printer.

The story in question was an interview with David Greenberg, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/ Willamette, scheduled to run in the paper's Sept 12 edition. (Portland's Business Journal is one of more than 40 business journals around the country owned by the Newhouse family's Advance Publications. Advance also owns The Oregonian.)
Nancy Bennett, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, says the article was pegged to the organization's local expansion at a time when other nonprofits are struggling. She learned the story had been killed on Sept 11, and she says called reporter Robin Moody, who conducted the Greenberg interview, and was told that Wessel had killed the story because the paper "doesn't cover extremist groups."

Bennett adds that when she pressed Moody for more information, she was told that Wessel was unhappy that story was positioned the same page as an ad for an important Business Journal advertiser, Key Bank. (Moody declined to comment to WW.)

The publisher says he killed the story because it "wasn't news." The transcript of the interview with David Greenberg is provided at the end of the WW article.

And thanks to Steve Smith for recommending this very good summary of the outing of Valerie Plame by Matt Welch in the National Post:

But even the most generous possible interpretation of events -- minimizing Plame's covertness, maximizing Wilson's partisan motives and assuming the leakers acted alone -- still provides more evidence of the Bush administration's most alarming pathologies. These are people who all too frequently confuse themselves with the U.S. government, see their enormous power as a tempting means to an end, and treat their critics like enemies of the state.
And Atrios emphasizes the importance of David Corn's article in the Nation about the fact that, regardless of who the "leakers" were, the White House certainly did its best to play up the story in order to smear Wilson.
22:31 BST

What the papers say

Colin Brown, political editor at the Telegraph, says that Robin Cook says in his memoir that 'Blair admitted to me that Saddam had no usable WMD': Two weeks later, on March 5, Mr Cook discussed the Scarlett briefing with Mr Blair. Mr Cook told Mr Blair he doubted Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that could strike strategic cities, but he might have battlefield weapons which could be used against British and US troops. "[Blair replied]: 'Yes, but all the effort he has had to put into concealment makes it difficult for him to assemble them quickly for use.'"

The Guardian lists the issues from the Labour conference, and says that burning Plame's cover has "cracked the illusion that the Bush administration is invincible."

In The New York Times, Frank Rich says artists have mostly fallen down on the job of creating dramatic interpretations of 9/11 - with the exception of the Bush administration, who have authored "fiction on so epic a scale that were it published as a novel it would be a candidate for a Laura Bush literary salon."

And in The Washington Post:

An editorial praises the judge in the Zacarias Moussaoui case: The government insists that national security precludes any deposition of these witnesses, whose testimony is expected to be crucial to Mr. Moussaoui's defense against charges of involvement in the 9/11 conspiracy. Ms. Brinkema, however, defied expectations and refused to dismiss the case. Instead she produced a clever ruling designed to facilitate Mr. Moussaoui's trial while protecting his rights. She requires that the government give up two things as sanction: It cannot seek the death penalty and it cannot present evidence -- which appears thin, in any event -- linking Mr. Moussaoui to the 9/11 plot.

Ombudsman Michael Getler says reporters fell down on the job of exposing the story about government officials blowing the cover of a clandestine CIA operative, but accepts that: If reporters agree to protect the identity of a source they must do so, even if they don't use the information or if it turns out to be wrong. The press is not an arm of government, Downie said, and an agreement with a source is an obligation that is central to surfacing all kinds of wrongdoing.

David Broder notices a Fiscal Doomsday in the Offing.

Jeff Howe of Wired looks at two sides of the file-sharing issue, but leaves out the small matter of who gets the royalties.

There's a page of letters about Rush Limbaugh (sometimes those links don't work, so you may have to go to the editorial listings to get them). I liked one from someone called Ralph Stewart, who said: Here's my question about media bias: Why would a national sports network hire someone for its premier pre-game football show who had no experience in sports broadcasting and had never played or coached the game? Could it be that ESPN wanted a white conservative to hype ratings and hoped the experiment would work regardless of whether the white conservative was qualified to intelligently discuss football? If that was the case, the experiment failed. But, as Mr. Limbaugh might say, that's affirmative action for you.
17:39 BST

Stuff to read

John Dean says that the Bushies are More vicious than Tricky Dick - and he oughta know: I thought I had seen political dirty tricks as foul as they could get, but I was wrong. In blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame to take political revenge on her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for telling the truth, Bush's people have out-Nixoned Nixon's people. And my former colleagues were not amateurs by any means.

Molly Ivins: Among the more amusing cluckings from the right lately is their appalled discovery that quite a few Americans actually think George W. Bush is a terrible president.

William Saletan on abortion politics: Feldt concludes that the movement's big mistake has been to divide its agenda, focusing on the easy issues and ducking the hard ones. She regrets that advocates of birth control separated that issue from abortion in order to keep birth control relatively uncontroversial. The price, she points out, is that abortion, left to stand on its own, became more controversial. Likewise, she regrets that activists concerned about the legal right to abortion didn't fight harder for Medicaid coverage of the procedure. To rectify these separations, Feldt proposes to unite all issues of "reproductive rights" in a comprehensive agenda. "My right to choose abortion is equal to your right to use birth control is equal to your neighbor's right to have a child," she argues.

Gary Farber has a pretty good take on the spin about Joe Wilson being either (a) a tea-drinking partisan flake or (b) a heroic non-partisan professional who showed courage in the face of Saddam's threats.

Also on that issue, Paul Krugman, who said: The hypocrisy here is breathtaking. Republicans have repeatedly impugned their opponents' patriotism. Last year Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, said Democrats "don't want to protect the American people. . . . They will do anything, spend all the time and resources they can, to avoid confronting evil." But the true test of patriotism isn't whether you are willing to wave the flag, or agree with whatever the president says. It's whether you are willing to take risks and make sacrifices, including political sacrifices, for the sake of your country. This episode is a test for Mr. Bush and his inner circle: a true patriot wouldn't hesitate about doing the right thing in the Plame affair, whatever the political costs. Mr. Bush is failing that test.

Atrios recommends what he says is The Definitive Rush/McNabb Column.

Michael Kinsley says: One of the absurd conventions of American politics is the notion that there is something suspect or illegitimate about a hypothetical question. By labeling a question as "hypothetical," politicians and government officials feel they are entitled to duck it without looking like they have something to hide. They even seem to want credit for maintaining high standards by keeping this virus from corrupting the political discussion.

Reconsidering Said: Edward Said's moral courage and mortal mistakes, by Lee Smith in The American Prospect.

Roger Ailes (the good one) notes that Wesley Clark's new blog is called Generally Speaking and advises us to, "Keep an eye out for the new Bush '04 blog, Just Deserters."

Eric Boehlert on why he thinks Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, is the real culprit behind the exposure of a deep-cover operative's identity: And later, McClellan dismissed as "ridiculous" any suggestions that Rove may have played a role, adding, "There is simply no truth to that suggestion. And I have spoken with Karl about it." But when a reporter asked about Libby, McClellan cut him off with a non-response.
12:26 BST

Saturday, 04 October 2003

In the blogosphere

(Via Elayne Riggs - and give this woman a job!)

A look at an innovative way of voting in Canada from Xymphora: The boring Canadian province of Ontario had an election yesterday, and the voters finally managed to kick out the right-wing American-influenced tax cutters, replacing them with a party whose main promise was that it would not cut taxes so that it would have enough money to pay for things considered inessential by the previous government, such as health care, education, public security and safety, and the electricity supply. A little sanity in an insane world. The interesting thing is the mechanics of the voting procedure. The election used paper ballots which were counted by hand at each polling station, with the results telephoned in to the Returning Officers, who communicated the results to the media. Ontario is a huge place, with over 11 million people on 415,000 square miles or over one million square kilometers (at the longest points, 1,000 miles high and 1,000 miles wide), and yet this old-fashioned system produced election results in about an hour, with the winner giving his victory speech less than two hours after the polls closed. Since paper ballots were used, and absolutely no computers were involved in the balloting process, the ballots can be recounted at any time should there be any dispute, and the ballots themselves serve as decisive evidence of the validity of the results. When I look at computer voting, I see a system which is in every possible way inferior to the paper ballot system...

CalPundit reviews the Traitorgate coverage by the four major conservative print organs: So: the Washington Times and Weekly Standard each receive kudos, while National Review and the Wall Street Journal each receive special "Partisanship Über Alles" awards for disgracing themselves by pretending that betrayal of national security is OK as long as Republicans are doing it. And a very special oak leaf cluster to the WSJ for conduct above and beyond the call of duty by arguing not just that outing a CIA agent is OK, but that it's actually part of the "public's right to know." Congratulations, guys! (Also: the complete run-down on just exactly what kind of deep undercover operative Valerie Plame is.)

Some people (you know who they are) think it's unseemly for liberals to be gleeful at the prospect of the Bushistas getting their comeuppance, but there's no reason to be embarrassed about welcoming justice. In fact, Max is glad.

Scoobie Davis considers different things we can call It. Personally, I rather like Intimigate and Plamewar, but I prefer Traitorgate because that sums it up better. It's not about Plame, it's about bloody treason. (But read the rest of the page, too - Scoobie is having such fun with Rush this week! I especially love the Rush quote suggesting that if Wesley Clark doesn't "watch out", he will share the Fate of Vince Foster at the hands of the Evil Clintons.)

In The Rittenhouse Review: You know, if I wrote a 2,100-word essay extolling the virtues of a predominantly blue-collar gay subculture, including a paean of praise to hairy backs, beer guts, and televised sports -- along with the obligatory quotes from Philadelphia’s very own village idiot, Camille Paglia -- and soon thereafter saw an article in the New York Times addressing the sudden appreciation of hipster-wannabes for low-down white trash culture, I might be pretty embarrassed too.
15:09 BST

Friday, 03 October 2003

Our Hero

DesertJo was forced to buy this book.

18:39 BST

Dept. of Tell Us What You Really Think

I can't seem to find proper permalinks at Steve Gilliard's News Blog, but you oughta see this guy's wonderful rants if you haven't been there before.

The idea that traitor Karl Rove is some kind of boy genius is humorous now. It's been clear for a while that the traitor Rove is out of league in Presidential politics. I don't think he ever saw Washington as any more than a supersized Austin. He thought he could play the Congress like he did the Leg and it worked for a while because Bush had unprecedented party loyalty. The war needed cooperation and the traitor Rove, who could care less about empire, but liked being on the winning team.

But unlike Lee Atwater, his mentor, the traitor Rove has no sense of proportion. As long as his guy wins, anything is fair game. Anyone gets in his way, they get steamrolled.

Except Joe Wilson is not a man to steamroll easily

There's a lot more, go read.
18:08 BST

Check it out


The best movie you never got to see

Todd Gitlin and Jay Rosen say Ashcroft Is Unprintable, and Glad of It: Television journalists are a competitive bunch, and they are loath to show solidarity with peers who have been stranded beyond the ropes. But it is wrong to go on with business as usual in this instance. Instead of enabling this highhanded behavior, they should solicit questions from print colleagues and use them, or ask Ashcroft on the air why he wants to reach local viewers but not local readers. (Don't they need to know about the Patriot Act?) Surely it behooves favored television reporters to note for their listeners that the administration plays favorites. That's news.

DonBoy didn't think he believed this, and yet: As the Plame affairs continues to snowball, I caught myself with the following thought: The Bushies are cooked, because, as the increasing level of this scandal shows, the CIA has figured out that this guy is a disaster, and they're going to bring him down, just like they did Nixon. He also finds a bad example from Michael Barone.

Useful lists: "Remember: It's Not a Lie If You're Still Miserably Stupid Enough to Believe It," and a point-by-point on Traitorgate, making catch-up easy.

Jack Cluth is giving out Dumass Awards, the latest being for: DALLAS (Reuters) - The Paris, Texas, school district apologized Tuesday for a performance by one of its marching bands which played an Adolf Hitler anthem and waved a Nazi flag during a football halftime show. His Daily Mis-Lead yesterday said, "The President's Promises on Homeland Security are Long on Talk, Short on Money."

Ezra Klein at Not Geniuses explains Bad Memes: This Slate piece on [former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Hugh Shelton does a really good job of showing exactly how negative press works. [...] Read the article and how quickly the talking points get disseminated, and particularly notice that the issue of character and integrity is raised but there is never any elaboration as to why Clark is weak on those fronts. As the meme spreads, it gets worse and worse, starting as issues and morphing into the reason that Clark was fired. On the bright side, the legitimate media isn't biting, no matter how loudly the right screams. The downside is that if Clark missteps, it will be all too easy to plug events into this waiting formula -- Clark has a character deficiency, which explains his recent action. Much like that "liar" Al Gore.

Nitpicker says: Even George Will -- the only man who can tie a perfect bow tie without removing his head from his ass -- gets it: This administration's integrity problems are damaging our national security.

Democratic Veteran Jo Fish is really disgusted with Tom DeLay's hack partisanship.

ThoughtCrimes has more on those thousands of missing votes in Volusia County

Josh Marshall looks at Gonzales' memo to the WH staff instructing them to preserve data and notices something curious.
14:25 BST

Thursday, 02 October 2003

On the web

News from Mark: You'll need Adobe Reader to read it, but you might want to read this. It's a two-page chart prepared by Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL). For those who don't have Adobe Reader, here's the concept: Page one is a list of proposed spending in the effort to rebuild Iraq. Page two is a list of cuts that are being made in America spending on itself. For instance, we're cutting $1,500,000,000 in housing for American military personnel while spending the same amount to repair "electricity transmission" in Iraq. There are even more egregious examples but basically, that's what it's all about.

Thousand Yard Glare reports that Al Gore & associates are "close" to buying a cable channel. According to AP, Gore and a group of investors are in talks to buy Newsworld International, a cable news channel owned by Vivendi Universal, for $70 million, the source said.

Gene Lyons: Shortly before 9/11, a worldly-wise philosopher on the seacoast of Maine made me a prediction. "Remember where you heard it," he said. "George W. Bush will never run for a second term. He'll resign the presidency. It's his life story: his father's friends get him a job he doesn't deserve, he screws it up, somebody else takes the blame, he quits, then father's friends buy him a bigger job he doesn't deserve and he does it all over again." Lyons points out that there is no bigger job his father can buy for him, but he's forgetting that Bush already appears to think he's the Messiah - and anyway, he seems to be following the Antichrist's script. Some might say he finally has a job he bought his own way into, when he sold his soul.

Ted Barlow clears up Novak's explanation: Nobody at Domino’s called me to sell me Cinnamon Sticks.

Tresy on healthy Bush-hating.

Ethel the Blog on tax cuts.

Take Jesus into your... - no, I shouldn't even be blogging this, I am ashamed.
12:44 BST

Wednesday, 01 October 2003

Lego Corner

Rodin's Thinker

From Drastic Verge I learn of the short film version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail - in Lego.
22:47 BST

Reading room

Uggabugga has been watching the right-wing media's reaction to Traitorgate and has transcribed some bits from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Arianna withdraws from recall race.

Ungodly Politics says: From The Village Voice comes an article about Wes Clark's new book, Winning Modern Wars. This may be what the Bush people are afraid he's going to speaking about on the hustings: "'As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan.' Clark adds, 'I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned.'"


I like the story so much I'm linking it again, this time to the view from Tapped, who said: True to form, this stunner came out late on Friday, making it into the Saturday papers. The study contradicts an entire corpus of industry-funded, conservative and libertarian propaganda about the overwhelming and burdensome costs of environmental and workplace regulation. Worse, it came out under the most conservative administration in decades. Indeed, the report contradicts the Bush administration's own theology regarding regulation. No surprise, then, they released it when they did.
22:02 BST

Doctor Whom

Tom Baker was just on TV claiming that the next Doctor Who is going to be Eddie Izzard.
18:59 BST

Open Source Politics

Just click on the picture for Open Source Politics, or go directly to the latest Plame update, The President Knows! or to Susie Madrak's piece explaining how the Plame story fits right into Bush's MO, or Jack Cluth worrying about anti-telemarketing laws, or Allen Brill wondering if Jesus is weeping yet.
13:08 BST

Murder by the state

Last night there was an update, but first let's look at this post from Friday in Talk Left:

Florida has a two year statute of limitations on inmates requesting DNA testing to prove their innocence -- the shortest of any major state. And it's running out . With a prison population of 78,000, Florida ranks fourth among the states in the total number of inmates.

Florida's restrictive law was passed in 2001, sponsored by Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami. It provides that anyone convicted of a crime has two years after a sentence becomes final to ask a judge to review DNA testing of physical evidence. Those convicted before the Villalobos law went into effect have until Oct. 1 to file their petitions.

Lawyers in Florida have asked the Courts for a one year emergency stay of the deadline, but as of now, there has been no ruling. Villalobos has no problem with granting a stay for a specified period. But Florida Governor Jeb Bush does object.

In the federal system, since 1996 and the passage of AEDPA (the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act) there has been a one year statute of limitations on all claims, including those based on new evidence showing factual innocence.

Why is the deadline so short? How harmful is the deadline?

In June, 2002, Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck tackled the time limit question head-on in his testimony before Congress on the Innocence Protection Act:

Based on close to ten years of experience assessing and litigating more post-conviction DNA applications than any other office in the country, the Innocence Project has found that it takes an average of between three to five years to evaluate and perfect a post-conviction application from the time an inmate's letter arrives in our office until the time an adequately documented motion can be filed. The difficulties are legion: The inmates are indigent. They have no lawyers and their lawyers from trial or appeal have often been disbarred, died, or disappeared. They do not have complete copies of their transcripts and neither does anyone else. Important police and laboratory reports relating to key items of biological evidence cannot be found. And most importantly, no one can find the evidence. It might be in the court house as an exhibit, at the crime laboratory, in the prosecutor's safe, with the court reporter, at a hospital or medical examiner's office, or different items could be at a variety of these locations. Since the cases are very old, inventory records are lost, and long-term storage facilities for each institution change.
The very idea that there are conditions in which we can deliberately and knowingly take the life of someone who may be innocent shouldn't even be a consideration, yet we actually have laws that are clearly designed to prevent freeing the innocent. Legislators and prosecutors can rationalize all they want to, but they cannot justify the taking of innocent life; it's murder, plain and simple. And if it's okay for them to do it, why bother to prosecute murderers in the first place? It's precisely to prevent the killing of the innocent that murder laws exist; if they can do it, why can't we?

Look, every killer thinks they have a good reason at the time. Usually it's an outbreak of self-righteous anger, and frankly I don't see how indignation that a guilty person might go free is any better than indignation that some girl dumped you or some guy took your parking space - except that at least in the latter cases, it's personal and relatively immediate. All of us have felt killing fury at some time in our lives, but most of us know that actually doing the deed is just not on. The sort of law described above is a license to dismiss the concerns that prevent most of us from killing; they encourage the belief that taking life is okay.

The good news is that, as Talk Left reported last night, there has been a stay:

We knew there was justice somewhere in Florida....
The Florida Supreme Court set aside a Wednesday deadline for inmates to request DNA testing of evidence that could prove their innocence. By a 4-3 vote today, the justices said they were putting aside the deadline so they can take more time to consider the inmates' appeal challenging the deadline's constitutionality. They said they will hear oral arguments Nov. 7.
But the bad news is that we even have to talk about this at all.

Elsewhere at Talk Left, coverage of Traitorgate and a look at the law regarding Robert Novak's legal position as the man who exposed Plame's name to the public, more on the death penalty, an apology to Hatfill from the FBI, a judge who ordered the jailing of a rape victim, and a plea to Stop Ashcroft's Patriot Act Tour.
12:18 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, October 2003

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

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