The Sideshow

Archive for April 2004

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Friday, 30 April 2004


Video clip: Bill Maher on Hardball, socking it to Tweety. (Or so I'm told. Haven't had time to watch it, yet.)

Mark Fiore: On Message
12:19 BST


Center for American Progress has launched Claim vs Fact; check it out.

People Valuing Death Less, Reaper Overworked

If we're so good, how can we explain this? No. The good guys don't do this.

Virginia isn't for lovers.

Another theory about allegedly rising obesity: It's the fructose. (via)

Non Sequitur
04:34 BST

Thursday, 29 April 2004

In Blogtopia
Yes! Skippy etc.!

For those who missed it in all the other news, TalkLeft: The Justice Department has withdrawn the subpoena that it issued to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for the records of women who received abortions.

Tim Francis-Wright, Listing to Port-au-Prince, with some background on US policy for Haiti and the criminals who brought it to you. On to Iraq!

Jeanne did a great post in honor of the March for Women's Lives. Good comment thread, too.

Morals in South Park
17:24 BST

Standing up for Jools

Aside from being a real fine piano-player, Jools Holland does a great music show. There's a feature on him in the 1-7 May Radio Times that ends with this paragraph:

Perhaps Jools's world is best summed up by a story about a Beatles song. In 1998, his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra played at the G8 summit in Birmingham. Jacques Chirac recognized the opening bars of All You Need Is Love as the French national anthem and stood up. Fearing an embarrassing incident, Tony Blair, Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton felt they had to get up, too. As Jools got on with the song and went into full Beatles mode, the confused leaders joined hands and began to dance.
Well, I just love the image.
12:42 BST

The Late DailyNewsOnline

As far as I can tell, Tom Ball, who is the real founder of DNO, tried to do too much too fast and burned out. Since he's taken the site down, I've decided to re-post my DNO articles over at Avedon's Other Weblog, starting with LatinAmericazation of the USA. I'll get around to the others when I'm in the mood.
02:20 BST


Why am I not surprised this is happening in Florida? Via Atrios:

Land seized for private use possible

Florida's constitution allows governments to take your land for a public purpose, such as a road or school, as long as you receive a fair price.

But legislation - which could be approved this week - would allow a city or county to take an individual's land, with fair compensation, and sell it to a private developer for a shopping center or office building.

Opponents of the proposed law say it's little more than a government-sponsored land grab for developers.

"This bill is a shocking grant of wholesale power to counties to condemn very large amounts of property just to assemble it for private development," said Dana Berliner, senior attorney at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm.

Also via Atrios:
Miller: Legislatures Should Pick Senators

WASHINGTON - Zell Miller, Georgia's maverick Democratic senator, says the nation ought to return to having senators appointed by legislatures rather than elected by voters.

Zell Miller, the anti-democratic Senator.
00:48 BST

Wednesday, 28 April 2004

He's back!

"Newsarama has learned that tomorrow's Wizard #152 will send Hal Jordan fans into fits of glee. The issue contains an article outlining how, in the October-debuting Green Lantern: Rebirth, a five issue miniseries by Geoff Johns and Ethan VanSciver, Hal Jordan will return to the DCU in a costumed form, and with a ring."

That link is from here, where I also found:

This post quoting Michael Chabon saying:

In this light the Bill of Rights can be read as a classic expression of the teenage spirit: a powerful imagination reacting to a history of overwhelming institutional repression, hypocrisy, chicanery and weakness. It is a document written by men who, like teenagers, knew their enemy intimately, and saw in themselves all the potential they possessed to one day become him. We tend to view idealism and cynicism as opposites, when in fact neither possesses any merit or power unless tempered by, fused with, the other. The Bill of Rights is the fruit of that kind of fusion; so is the teenage imagination.
And: Randall Terry and the morality of convenience.

A link to this NYT article about a rather scary prosecution under the Patriot Act.

The never-filmed script that was originally slated to be the second episode of Angel (from this post).

An item noting that Joe Haldeman is involved in the project to get returning veterans to write about their war experiences. (I just finished reading Joe's Forever Free, which I liked a lot - but I was startled by the ending.)

Personal background on another story Gary has: I was chatting the other night with a friend of mine who said, "I see my former boss is in the papers again." I'd actually worked for my pal when she was working for Desmond, and we had a good laugh over it - he's always been like that.

Gary says this is a good idea, and he's right.

[Links are fixed now. Sorry about that. I blame Gary, of course.]
21:40 BST


Here and here, LiberalOasis looks at how the spin is working on Bush v. Kerry, including Kerry's willingness to tell Bush to put up or shut up over their respective Vietnam war records. Bill once again notes that some "unnamed" Beltway Dems are giving unsourced negative statements to the press about Kerry's campaign, and tells them it's time to shut up. I don't think this is going to happen, since at this juncture it seems pretty likely that "unnamed" Beltway Dems are actually named Zell Miller.

Arthur Silber has been reading The Daily Howler and is disgusted with wimpy excuses from the servile press for being so...servile. Even Ayn Rand was against that. (Also: Stoopid.)

Robert Reich says it can only get worse if there's four more years.
17:13 BST

I gotta see this

I do my Laura Petrie impression a lot around here ("Aw, Rob..."), so I'm naturally interested in this press release reported by Mark Evanier:

Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Reiner and Rose Marie reunite for The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, a new television special to be broadcast Tuesday, May 11 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Other original series cast members Larry Mathews (Richie Petrie), Ann Morgan Guilbert (Millie Helper) and guest stars Jerry Van Dyke (Stacey Petrie) and Bill Idelson (Herman Glimcher) also return for a new episode of the series set in 2004. The special catches up with Rob and Laura Petrie, in the present day, 40 years after the series was originally broadcast. Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) hosts the 159th episode. In the new episode, writers Rob and Sally each receive a phone call from Alan Brady with a strange request: Alan, who admires the eulogies that the pair wrote for Buddy and Millie's late husband's funerals, wants them to write his eulogy before he dies. He rationalizes the request by telling them that he wants to know what they will say about him and he also wants the chance to do a rewrite. To induce them, he offers to pay a very large fee for the dubious job. Rob and Sally are uncertain that they can actually complete the assignment given their real feelings about Alan, but they reluctantly agree to try...for the money! Classic clips from the original series will also be seen.
I'm curious about a dynamic that does not include Buddy and Mel (the interplay between them was often the funniest thing on the show), but Alan's appearances were always pretty funny, too.

It's odd, the whole time I was looking at that article, I didn't once think about what the actors had done since that show went off the air - it was as if none of that had ever happened, and I was frozen back in time. (And back in those days I wasn't even aware of what I now think of as the funniest thing about the show, which is the conceit that everyone was writing for the Carl Reiner character, when in reality it was Reiner writing for everyone else.) I have a long affection for those characters....
13:19 BST

Briefly noted

Pictures of the march - I'm on her side!

Eric Schlosser tackles the War on Some Drugs in the NYT.

Micah Holmquist thinks these things are funny. I gotta have coffee with this guy.
12:40 BST

Sights, sounds, words, & stuff

Thomas Oliphant: 'I watched Kerry throw his war decorations'

A To Do list for Ariel Sharon

Rittenhouse Review: It's a rare event when an article in Foreign Policy causes my jaw to drop, but the cover story in the magazine's March/April issue was a startling, almost unbelievable, essay by Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington entitled "The Hispanic Challenge." (Jim also recommends the Veep-O-Matic.)

Did someone get carried away?

Musical comment

Photography by Alison O'Connell Barbara Nitke, Jody Wheat, and Tommy Edwards. (Not entirely work-safe.)
02:38 BST

Tuesday, 27 April 2004

Hostile to religion, Part 2

Roger Ailes ("No, not that one!"):

It's always instructive to watch the wingnuts lie.

Last week, Boston talk show host Jay Severin, a G.O.P. stalwart and veteran of several Republican political campaigns, said "I think we should kill them" while referring to Muslims.

Matthew Mills, the general manager of the station that employs Severin raised the purported defense that Severin would only kill all non-American Muslims, given the chance. According to Rabiah Ahmed: "[Mills] said that [Severin] wasn't talking about American Muslims, he was talking about Muslims outside the US."

Because, I guess, it's okay to commit genocide against foreigners.

Oh, but was he talking about foreigners? The Boston Globe says:

As part of his response [to a caller], Severin said, "I believe that Muslims in this country are a fifth column. . . . The vast majority of Muslims in this country are very obviously loyal, not to the United States, but to their religion. And I'm worried that when the time comes for them to stand up and be counted, the reason they are here is to take over our culture and eventually take over our country."

He said: "My suspicion is that the majority of Muslims in the United States, who regard themselves as Muslims first and not as Americans really at all, see an American map one day where this is the United States of Islam, not the United States of America. I think it pays to harbor those suspicions."

I was particularly entertained to learn from the comments that this guy actually pretends to be a libertarian. Yeah, right.
21:24 BST

More reasons to be angry


NEW YORK, April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- An unofficial study analyzing the casualty figures in Iraq suggests that many U.S. deaths and wounds simply did not need to occur, Newsweek reports in the current issue.
Josh Marshall says ABC finally used the L-word - but not about Bush. (And read this, too.)
12:48 BST

For your consideration


This is incorrect, but if they do the right thing for the wrong reasons, we'll take what we can get.

Gail online doesn't seem to be using permalinks these days, but check out the quote from The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos, Paul Ernsberger.

What if the Iraqis want to say "under God"?

Now here's a terrorist.

Can Bush be prosecuted under the Patriot Act?

The anti-drug (Quicktime)
12:17 BST

Monday, 26 April 2004

Just say no

That's the advice from Drug WarRant on any threatened formation of a drug task force in your community. The article begins with this story:

DENVER -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado today filed a lawsuit against the Denver North Metro Drug Task Force on behalf of a local woman who was forced to strip naked in the parking lot of her condominium in full view of her neighbors while male law enforcement officers conducted an unjustified, humiliating, and degrading "decontamination" ritual that had no legitimate purpose. ...

The ACLU's client was forced to stand naked in the pool, apply the cold water to her body and then dunk her head into the water. At least two male firefighters standing inside the small "enclosure" monitored the entire process while holding a hose and a brush. A third male law enforcement officer, watching through a gap in the tarps, issued orders directing each separate step of the "decontamination" ritual. Numerous additional male officers stood in the parking lot nearby where they could observe the woman naked as she shook and shivered from cold, fear, and humiliation.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Denver, seeks a declaration that the SWAT team violated the woman's Fourth Amendment rights by forcibly breaking into her home and carrying out the search as a "no-knock" raid without legal justification. The lawsuit also contends that the authorities violated the Fourth Amendment by inviting a private videographer with no law enforcement function to accompany them into woman's home to film the events

Interestingly, this is the same task force that decided that people don't have the right to privacy in what they read. In 2000, they went after the Tattered Cover Book Store to find out what books its customers were reading -- they thought if they could prove that an individual was reading about methamphetamine, then they could tie them to an alleged meth lab. Fortunately the book store won.

This is a drug task force that is completely out of control. They seem to believe that they are a law unto themselves, answerable only to themselves.

And that is the problem with drug task forces in general (which usually include a combination of local, state, and DEA officers). There is a breakdown in accountability -- they often defy local or state rules and procedures, and with current federal drug policy goading them toward excess and financially rewarding them for numbers of arrests, abuse is almost guaranteed. Additionally, they are trained to use military-style techniques against U.S. citizens, not as a last resort, but as standard operation. This dehumanizes targets and makes all of us potential "enemies" (while we're actually their employers).

Many experienced law-enforcement officials have themselves complained that the entire "War on Drugs" ethos transforms the police from officers of the peace to soldiers acting against the citizenry, and that this is entirely counterproductive to what is supposed to be their primary purpose. (And if people can't learn from this tragic error at home, it was never likely they would be able to apply that lesson to Iraq, was it?)
14:00 BST

Wake-up call for Thomas Friedman

Trembling on the edge of noticing what's going on, Friedman suspects we might be Losing Our Edge:

I was just out in Silicon Valley, checking in with high-tech entrepreneurs about the state of their business. I wouldn't say they were universally gloomy, but I did detect something I hadn't detected before: a real undertow of concern that America is losing its competitive edge vis-a-vis China, India, Japan and other Asian tigers, and that the Bush team is deaf, dumb and blind to this situation.

Several executives explained to me that they were opening new plants in Asia - not because of cheaper labor. Labor is a small component now in an automated high-tech manufacturing plant. It is because governments in these countries are so eager for employment and the transfer of technology to their young populations that they are offering huge tax holidays for U.S. manufacturers who will set up shop. Because most of these countries also offer some form of national health insurance, U.S. companies shed that huge open liability as well.

And that's just part of it. I wonder what the chances are of Friedman coming to the obvious conclusions about how you fix this stuff. But nothing in the article gave me the feeling he was really on that path.
13:33 BST

Somebody's angry

Maureen Dowd said it like this:

It's their reality. We just live and die in it.

In Bushworld, our troops go to war and get killed, but you never see the bodies coming home.

In Bushworld, flag-draped remains of the fallen are important to revere and show the nation, but only in political ads hawking the president's leadership against terror.

And in what must be their most bitter Flash movie yet, Take Back the Media said it in Murder by Numbers.

I'm angry, too.
06:15 BST

Sunday, 25 April 2004


Hey, I have five minutes to spare, so let's tackle the hot topic of liberal hostility to Christianity!

No, wait, let's not. Instead, let's tackle the media's hostility to any kind of Christian who is even a little bit liberal. Let's ask The New York Times why they mostly print articles that create a strict divide between "liberals" and "Christians" as if it was George Bush's base on one side and the rest of us on the other.

On the contrary, many Christians believe that this entire argument was created by right-wingers who have no faith in anything but money and the RNC. There is ample evidence for that belief.
18:53 BST

Saturday, 24 April 2004

Lookin' around

"The Hubble Space Telescope has seen a brilliant circle of bright blue stars in a rare example of a 'ring galaxy' - the result of a galactic collision."

Afghan women: The infinite folly that fundamentalism brings

More disagreeing with Naomi Wolf about porn

Proof that the administration is planning to re-start the draft.

One big fat conspiracy theory that launched a war - courtesy of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. (And read this, too.)

GOTV: Who is Senator Chuck Hagel?

Health food of the year (via)
21:09 BST

Through the Looking Glass

Charles Dodgson is, as usual, a cornucopia. Check out, for instance, his musings about Bob Woodward and the reaction to his latest book. And do follow the link to this little aside:

Most startling, though, were Hougan's findings about one of the heroes in that Great American Melodrama: Bob Woodward, the crack investigative journalist who teamed up with his Washington Post colleague Carl Bernstein to blow the lid off the festering scandal. Hougan discovered that before joining the Fourth Estate, Woodward enjoyed a successful career as a Naval Intelligence briefer and liaison to the White House.
*blink*. I did not know that. I did know that Woodward was always a conservative, but I didn't know that.

Here is something about Falluja that you need to know if you've previously missed it. And however Richard Clarke may disagree, we need the Fourth Amendment more than we need the Patriot Act. (More evidence at Pacific Views.) And what about that hoax hand-over Bush has planned for 30 June? (And check out Digby on the same subject - and The Great Liberal Myth.)

Charles also says that the story about why the USDA won't let Creekstone test all of its animals for Mad Cow Disease reveals more outreach to Bush's conservative base. Cute, Charlie.
14:39 BST

Just a thought

I was reading Charles Kuffner on yet another example of the Texas Governor's typically Republican lack of consistency, and it reminded me of a question that's bothered me since 2000: What about this thing we heard so much of - whenever anyone pointed out that Texas was not the best administered state in the union - where the Governor of Texas doesn't really have any power and it's really the Lt. Gov. who runs the state? I've always wanted to know just how much relationship to the truth that claim had.
13:13 BST

More on elites and intellectuals

Some of you folks really liked my post about elitism. Hipster notes that there's a dove-tail with Bruce Bartlett on the other side of the aisle, Jeanne wants to know how she is supposed to be more "elite" than Bush, and Susan says:

Unfortunately, Bush (or Karl Rove) realizes that Amerika has a long, nasty history of anti-intellectualism, and it works to Dubya's favor to appear to be a "man of the people," drinking beer (at least before he dried himself up), choking on pretzels, and watching stock car racing. So far it's worked, and John Kerry probably won't be able to make hay with it at all unless he wants to risk an anti-intellectual backlash of the sort that worked against Al Gore. Instead you'll see a lot of John Kerry, a very intelligent, well-educated, well-read man, trying to look like a man of the people; drinking beer, choking on pretzels, and showing up at stock car races. God help us.
Ah, but ordinary people would actually like to get some information about the issues. They do want the facts. It's what they are talking about while they have a beer. But they've been misinformed. The trick is to respond to charges of being "elites" and "intellectuals" by asking, "Do you think Americans are too stupid to understand things that even a politician can understand?
02:53 BST

John Kerry is a...

Patrick just AIMed me with a link:

John Kerry is a douchebag, but I'm voting for him anyway. Well, not really. That is to say, he's not actually a douchebag, or not nearly as much of one as what the media, George W., and even perhaps John Kerry himself have made him out to be. It seemed that every time I saw, heard, or read something about Kerry, his doucheness factor increased. It wasn't until I did just a little research on my own that it became clear that all of these occurrences could be explained as lies, deception, media excess, or simply poor campaigning strategy. It is beyond vital that we all overlook these minor blemishes and unpleasantries, and unite in electing John Kerry to be the next president of the United States of America.
You know it makes sense.
02:43 BST

Friday, 23 April 2004

Notes from all over

The origin story of AL-Jazeera. It was heart-breaking for Ian Richardson, but maybe he created what he dreamed of after all. (Thanks to Cedric Knight for finding me the link.)

Gene Lyons says the whole red state/blue state thing is a myth (you just can't trust David Brooks to see past his nose). (That's the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette link - via Mark Evanier - but I'm not sure how long they are leaving them up these days. The dynamic link at Moose & Squirrel should be good until Wednesday if the AD-G link doesn't still work.)

I meant to make note of that article in The Globe and Mail about Canada getting Fox, but I lost my place. But Mary Kay says the article generated some fallout, which you can find out about here. And Patrick is having a good laugh over O'Reilly's characterization of the G&M as "the far-left Toronto Globe and Mail".

Cop shop: A MUM who bought a computer for her young sons from a police auction was horrified to find it full of child porn. (Thanks to Sandra Bond for the tip.)
13:42 BST


TBogg has been busy, so he lets Morford be his voice.

Anne Zook says I'm taking on the wrong fight when talking about the distinction between intellectuals and elites. Maybe she's right. I have previously noted that when people are given the facts, they tend to get it right. Politicians aren't actually any smarter than ordinary people - far from it. Reporters used to know more, but even that no longer seems to be true.

Here and here, two good posts about the people and culture of Iraq, and the fantasyland of Richard Perle.

What is the name of the Republican who is responsible for this? Elections officials said they allowed people to use the paper ballots because they wanted to ensure that everyone who wanted to cast a ballot did so. However, state regulations barred them from counting those votes, the officials said. (Via Body and Soul)

What if Scott McClellan's mom asked him what he wants for dinner?

Who do you trust your medical decisions to - hospitals, or politicians?

Now here's a story I'd like to see.
01:26 BST

Thursday, 22 April 2004

We are all elites, now

Bartcop drew my attention to this Woodward quote:

How deep a man is President George W. Bush? "He's not an intellectual. He is not what I guess would be called a deep thinker," says Woodward. "He chastised me at one point because I said people were concerned about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. And he said, 'Well you travel in elite circles.' I think he feels there is an intellectual world and he's indicated he's not a part of it ... the fancy pants intellectual world. What he calls the elite."
People who are concerned that the claimed WMD never materialized are "fancy pants intellectuals". That's now about - what? - two-thirds of the country?

It seems to me that a reasonably astute politician could make some hay out of a statement that dismisses most of the country as airy-fairy intellectuals because they have questions - concerns - about the fact that our leadership (our intelligence?) on something as big as this turned out to be completely wrong.

Woodward certainly travels in elite circles - elite enough to include conversations with the man who occupies the office of the President of the United States. But those aren't intellectual circles, especially in this day and age. I can't help but cringe when I think about the intellectual performance of his elite colleagues. Here's a favorite of mine from a three-year old Media Beat column by Norman Solomon:

Last Sunday, the ABC television program "This Week" deigned to air a discussion with a real-live progressive activist, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. Journalist Cokie Roberts voiced befuddlement: "It's gotten to the point where any time there are global meetings, world leaders meeting, we have a sense that the protesters are going to be there, and there's not much sense of exactly what you're protesting." The interview only lasted a couple of minutes.
Cokie Roberts had no idea what the protesters were protesting because neither she nor any other high-profile journalist had ever taken the time to ask, but it was obviously the fault of the protesters. As I remarked to Norman at the time, we need to invent a new kind of profession where people go out and find out facts and then report them to the public so we will be able to know what the protesters are protesting, and other stuff. I wondered what we'd call something like that.

Looks to me like there's rather a long distance between the "intellectuals" and the "elites".

The issue of global trade is at least fairly complicated, but what the administration was wrong about was whether it was a good idea to invade a country that supposedly had WMD, insisting that they absolutely had them and that "we" knew where they were, and that this called for an entirely new approach to war.

And these are things that are not that easy to be wrong about. These guys - the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the president and vice president of the United States - were telling the whole world that Saddam had nuclear capability, and it's pretty much not possible to be in the dark about this, because you can't have delivery systems and test nuclear bombs without anyone knowing it. How could they possibly have been so wrong?

Your leaders have told you something is a very important fact, important enough to completely change the way you approach war, peace, international politics, even economics, and it turns out not to be true. And some people wonder about that, the same way they would wonder about any number of more mundane things that might happen in everyday life - and which they would have to be smart enough (intellectual enough) to wonder about in order to just get through an ordinary day. This is not, amazingly enough, rocket science, or even modern art. This is plain-as-the-nose-on-my-face stuff. The administration insisted - in the face of quite a bit of knowledgeable opposition - that something was true when it has turned out not to be true, and people are "concerned".

So. People who can think at all are not "real Americans", apparently. Real Americans are people who are too stupid ever to wonder why a thing doesn't appear to make sense, and to therefore be "concerned".

Tell me, please. Is it that Bush is a brilliantly cynical man who knows how to adroitly evade even the most obvious questions by dismissing them as airy-fairy intellectualism, or is it that he's just so thick that he doesn't realize these are obvious questions of the sort that ordinary, not-terribly-intellectual types of people might have?
15:50 BST

Wednesday, 21 April 2004

Bits and bobs

The other day I quoted John Emerson as saying, "Bush's war has been a complete failure unless its whole purpose was to get the U.S. involved in a longer and wider war." Scorpio (of Eccentricity) reminds me that some people were arguing for exactly that wider war. Of course, when we say this, we're accused of being conspiracy theorists....

Hal Davis sent me a link for a story about a priest who used a novel defense in an abuse case.

More reasons to hate Clear Channel.

Via Skippy, Diebold knew of legal risks. It looks like deliberate attempts to evade the law. (And it also sure looks like Diebold's purpose is to make sure voting doesn't really work, rather than merely to make and save money. Since their basic machine design started off with a built-in paper trail, it's not just laziness or oversight, either.) Gee, it's hard to escape the feeling that they want to fix the vote, you know?.

The art of misdirection.

There Was A Security Tape of the Oklahoma Bombing.

The bad old days ("Faggot!" Jerry shouted at him over and over. "Do you have to walk like a faggot? Can't you move like a man, you faggot?") David Ehrenstein on the cultural journey from the closet. (Via A Brooklyn Bridge)

MadKane sings for Kos. (This one works really well, too.)

The Spoils of War (I think I got this link via Atrios but it all goes by too fast for me.)

The Howling Wilderness of Pseudoconservatism: A good friend and long-time Republican put it this way: "Your average enthusiastic movement conservative is basically so adolescent and emotionally fragile that he does not see political activity as a contest of principles. He needs a white knight who comes riding in on a horse in order to redeem America." (I may have found this one at Amygdala, not sure. Maybe I have it on the brain after hearing Janeane Garofalo say the word about 12 times last night.)

What the War on Terror needs is Jake and Elmo.

15:10 BST

Tuesday, 20 April 2004

Sun Myung Moon's greatest hits

The publisher of The Washington Times is an appropriate mentor for this administration and its allies. If you don't already read Gorenfeld, you're missing a treat. This Moon speech is one of John's favorites, for obvious reasons - I mean, who could resist that bit about the pliers?

And if you missed it before, please marvel in wonder at the holy coronation that occurred in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, with members of Congress in attendance. Aren't you glad that your tax dollars are being used to honor this man?
23:47 BST

Voices in your head

Although a number of others had already discussed Rush Limbaugh's little fantasy about how Hillary Clinton plans to blackmail her way onto the Kerry ticket and then have him assassinated, Glen Reynolds linked Gary Farber's post on the subject, with the result that Instapundit readers have left a long comment thread there. It's interesting - once in a great while - to watch the way Rush apologists fail to get the point. It's also interesting to see what they regard as "liberal lies." Boy, oh boy.

Elsewhere at Amygdala, some links that looked interesting but I'll have to check out later:

HOW OUR GOVERNMENT LIED TO THE SUPREME COURT: Intolerable abuses [Update: Yes, do read that.]

THE FAILURE REVIEW BOARD: Matt Welch has typically sensible observations on the value of the September 11th Commission, and the Bush Administration's endless attempts to prevent it, delay it, deny it, and through surrogates, smear it.
14:31 BST


I'm listening to Majority Report on Air America and first they had Helen Caldicott on scaring the hell out of me, and then they had Lynn Landes on scaring me about e-voting, and then they had Kos, and now they have Daniel Ellsberg. Man, I hope lots of people are listening to this stuff.
03:13 BST

At Seeing the Forest

John Emerson points to a question:

My irascible friend Diana Moon (no link, scroll to "Sunday Morning") has asked the question: "Do you think that we would have been better off leaving Saddam in power?"

This is not actually an outrageous question. What it amounts to asking is whether George Bush the First was right to leave Saddam ("a force for stability") in power after the First Iraq War. But the very fact that it can be asked at all speaks very poorly of the younger Bush's Second Iraq War. Coming up with something better than Saddam Hussein shouldn't have been that hard.

From the American point of view, we have confirmed (at a very high cost) that Iraq never had any WMD. As for the terrorist threat, it has certainly become worse: more Islamic militants have been created, whereas nothing at all has been done to reduce terrorism (and resources have even been diverted from the real war on terror.) The war has severely stressed most of America's diplomatic relationships and has also been costly both economically and in terms of casualties.

Quibble: Although Iraq has never been a nuclear power, it did at one time have other weapons that have been called "WMD". The point is not that Saddam never had such weapons, but that he did not have them at the time this administration was touting them as an excuse to invade Iraq last year.
Are the Iraqis themselves better off? At this point no one in the world has any idea who will be governing Iraq in a year's time. (As far as that goes, no one in the world knows who will be governing Iraq two months from now). But the most likely possibilities are a militant Shiite theocracy, a long civil war, and an extended American occupation. None of these are necessarily better than Saddam's rule.

We're frequently told that we've liberated the Iraqi women, but that's just because you always have to talk about the ill-treatment of women when you talk about Islam. Iraqi women, per se, were better off under Saddam than they are now under the mullahs, just as they were better off in Afghanistan under Communism than they have been since the Communists were overthrown. (No, this doesn't justify either Saddam or Communism, but the secular governments were much better about educating women and letting them work).

And democracy now looks like the longest of long shots, with a real risk of getting an anti-American, anti-Israeli democracy.

I'm still really angry about the invasion hawks who tried to sell this as a war to liberate the women of Iraq. It was always obvious that it was going to make things worse for Iraqi women. Not that they ever really cared about that, of course - they actually thought that people like me were going to be stupid enough to be blinded by the alleged concerns of a bunch of anti-feminists for women's freedoms. Really.
Bush's war has been a complete failure unless its whole purpose was to get the U.S. involved in a longer and wider war.
That about sums it up.

But of course, people who dissented from the hawkish view weren't really allowed to say so.
01:33 BST

Monday, 19 April 2004

I saw this

Pandagon on blog-power

Helen Thomas on Bush's lack of mistakes

New Reports on U.S. Planting WMDs in Iraq

Taxes on Wealthy Help Employment
22:54 BST

News and views

Tom Delay offers another raw deal - and calls it a "Fair Tax". Republican policy proposals are just one great herd of Trojan horses.

A call for action from Magpie at Pacific Views: You wouldn't think that the nomination of a new Archivist of the United States would be a big political issue, would you? But then everything Dubya's administration does is based on political calculation.

Jack gets all the important news.

Roger Ebert would rather listen to Howard Stern than Rush Limbaugh. (via)

Karl Rove acknowledges an error. (Via Blah3 - and check this, too.)

Male moron law
00:43 BST

Sunday, 18 April 2004

It's always worse than you think

Thought for the day: What kind of ordinary, everyday, plain-spoken guy says things like "put food on your family"? Nobody says that! From now on, when you read somewhere that people allegedly like Bush because he "talks like them," write in and remind them that he sounds like no one else on earth.

Digby is right, and it's not funny. (There's a certain horrible truth in that quote from Billmon, too: It strikes me that bin Laden has been going about this all wrong. If he'd just started his own PAC, and spread enough money around, he probably could have gotten Congress to vote to blow up the World Trade Center.)

If You're Going to Use Photoshop to Distort Someone's History, You Might as Well Make It Nice

Channel One: Your public school system, teaching your kids consumerism early.

Must Read: Dwight Meredith on how "conservatives" really feel about small businesses and competition: Republican administrations, including the current edition, profess to love free markets. I believe them. This administration does indeed love free markets. The only problem is that it loves a lot of things. It is when free market principles collide with other interests that we can see whether its affection is a school girl crush or real love.

Charles Dodgson tries on some tin-foil hats. And a couple of nice fedoras.

Andy Young, quisling in a box: it appears that Andrew Young - a leading Georgia Democrat talked of as recently as 2003 as a candidate for the Senate - contributed $2,000 this year to President Bush. Yes, that President Bush. All while Young held the co-chairmanship of the Wesley Clark campaign. (And Greg Greene's boss is running for Congress - and has a decent chance to win.)

And It just keeps smelling like Watergate.

What dead people are reading: PAILIN, Cambodia As they once believed in an ultra-Maoist revolution that was "pure and hard," one imagines present realities would grate on the surviving geriatric leaders of the Khmer Rouge. But people adjust and, unlike their victims, they are alive. [...] Khieu Samphan, the 72-year-old former head of state of Democratic Kampuchea, has just published a memoir that, surprisingly, is a best seller among his former victims.

March for Women's Lives details. I see the tee-shirt color-coordinates nicely with the decor here at the Sideshow....
13:30 BST

Saturday, 17 April 2004

Alert status

Monkeyfister's Draft Code Table
Print out the chart and distribute it on your local college campus.

Read Krugman and then Do The Math.

Norman Solomon explains How the "NewsHour" Changed History: But Lehrer's comment -- ostensibly setting the record straight -- was at odds with the available factual record about Sadr's newspaper. In sync with other news accounts, the New York Times had reported two days earlier that "the paper did not print any calls for attacks."

Watch the PBS presentation on John O'Neill, The Man Who Knew that an attack by Al Qaeda was coming but hit too many roadblocks from his superiors at the FBI. In frustration, O'Neill left and started a new job at the World Trade Center. One week later, he died there. (Via BeatBushBlog)

Bush says, "Freedom is a a gift from God," but what freedom does he mean?

TBogg locates Rush Limbaugh's mission statement. (Also, TBogg says to read this.)

Kevin Drum has an ear for partisan perceptions.
19:12 BST

What you need to know about modern GOP "conservatism"

Throughout my lifetime, white racists in America have seen Roosevelt's New Deal and then Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the War on Poverty as enemies to be fought at every turn. These policies, which gave hope and opportunity to enormous numbers of Americans (and most of them whites), offended them precisely because poverty especially affected blacks and thus any programs that alleviated poverty were seen as helping to equalize blacks with whites. The fact that most beneficiaries were white was irrelevant; if it helped blacks rise with them, it was wrong.

In Denial like a river, David Neiwert puts racists' increasingly successful efforts to replace New Deal with Raw Deal policies in context. He quotes Joseph Aistrup's The Southern Strategy Revisited: Republican Top-Down Advancement in the South:

... In tandem with the Southern Strategy issue orientation, a number of Republicans attempted to use subtle segregationist suggestions to win elections. Southern Republicans developed a set of policy positions that reinforced their racially conservative policy orientations. Republicans opposed forced busing, employment quotas, affirmative action and welfare programs; at the same time, they favored local control and tax exemptions for segregated private schools (Lamis 1988, 24). Segregationist policies became more abstract, a Reagan official explained: "You're getting abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes ... [these policies] are totally economic things and a by-product of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it" (Lamis 1988, 26).
Some people who identify as Republicans or conservatives honestly believe that racism is dead in America and that it has nothing to do with the modern Republican Party, but, as David shows, this is far from the case:
Indeed, it seems fairly clear that the GOP has largely followed the core ideas of Aistrup's thesis since the book was published in the mid-1990s -- with varying degrees of success. "Compassionate conservatism" represents a cosmetic attempt to appear to shed the old racism, even though the reality is that, in both the South and elsewhere, those old impulses are not so easily shed.
As Atrios noted earlier this week, the current administration's shallow approach to "compassion" is exactly what David describes - Bush poses for photos with members of minorities and that is supposed to prove the case. But it proves another case entirely.

Meanwhile, it is ludicrous to pretend that racism doesn't have a place in the party when its most powerful members - indeed, some of the most powerful people in government, right up to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court - are people whose careers have been thoroughly integrated with opposition to both the voting rights of blacks and the programs that aid in the economic advancement of black and poor people.

Sean Wilentz discussed the neo-Confederate presence in the modern GOP a couple of years ago in detail at The American Prospect:
Neo-Confederate influence in the Bush White House is not, meanwhile, confined to Hines. Bush's first act as president was to nominate Ashcroft as attorney general. Ashcroft had just lost a Senate race in Missouri after deciding not to run against Bush in the 2000 Republican presidential primaries. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has observed, Ashcroft -- as attorney general, governor of Missouri and a U.S. Senator -- "built a career out of opposing school desegregation in St. Louis and opposing African-Americans for public office." During the St. Louis integration crisis and after, Ashcroft maintained intimate links to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Councils, which has its headquarters in St. Louis. Ashcroft even intervened at the behest of CCC leader Gordon Baum in a strange case involving a prominent CCC member accused of plotting the murder of an FBI agent. In his Southern Partisan interview, arranged by Hines, Ashcroft commended the magazine for helping to "set the record straight" and for "defending Southern patriots like [Robert E.] Lee, [Thomas "Stonewall"] Jackson, and [Jefferson] Davis." As George W. Bush's attorney general, Ashcroft has used the Department of Justice to support Republican efforts at voter suppression, many of them aimed at black voters.
The Republican analysis of progressive programs is that they failed - and by their lights, the did "fail", precisely because they succeeded. Many people rose out of poverty and secured their futures to the vast benefit of America as a whole. These supposedly "too expensive" programs brought America its most productive and prosperous period, and not incidentally kept our treasury healthy.

With the introduction and mainstreaming of the kind of ideas found in The Bell Curve and similar "science" from the right, the GOP has promoted a vision in which Americans have become the stupidest people in the industrialized world, because their programs impoverish people, and poverty is equated by them with stupidity - and we have more and more of it every day.
14:54 BST

Some stuff

Cheney's Wife Grilled by Third Graders Over U.S. Vice President's Military History (Nice headline, thin story.)

Water that isn't wet (via)

Bush's poll-driven denial that his decisions are poll-driven

Jim Jeffords holding EPA nominees hostage!

Working wounded.

Confessore: The press isn't being quite as worshipful as they were toward Bush, and Peggy Noonan doesn't like it, because it's just mean to expect anything from Bush.
03:44 BST

Friday, 16 April 2004

Things to do

I was reading this post by Josh Marshall, and I had these thoughts:

It seems to me that two things are clear:

  • The United States can't continue to "own" Iraq.
  • The United States can't simply cut its losses in Iraq and run away from the whole mess.

We definitely need to stop doing what we've been doing, and at the very least try doing things that have worked in the past, instead. It wasn't all roses in Germany, either, but we were lucky enough in those days to have a president who could learn from his mistakes.

Right now we have a credibility problem we won't be able to shake without getting rid of the man the world loves to hate. We could replace him and his team with almost anyone and be in better shape. There is absolutely no question about this: Bush has to go or the world won't trust us - and who can blame them? It doesn't matter if tomorrow morning he becomes the most honest and decent and compassionate and competent man in the world, because no one will believe it. He simply has to go.

The idea that all of this is a US project has to go. Let the UN take leadership and we can acknowledge our responsibility for backing them up. No one is going to trust us if we aren't prepared to demonstrate that we are breaking with the last three years of astonishing arrogance and irresponsibility.

Brown & Root also have to go. Everything they're doing there is stuff that can be handled better by others. No more out-sourcing of US military functions that were always more efficiently handled by the US government itself - like feeding the troops; no more municipal work done by American foreigners at American prices when locals can do it just fine and anyway they need the work. (My god, if you don't want violence, you don't want young men to be sitting around angry with time on their hands, so the last thing you want to do is take away their work!)

Give them work, give them good pay, and facilitate the formation of unions. Give them common cause to rebuild their society instead of just common cause to hate America. Let their pride in being Iraqis be their pride in restoring their country rather than just a negative measure against the invader.

I keep hearing a lot of rubbish about how these people are "different from us", how they "don't want the things we want" because their culture is different from ours. Well, honestly, that's crap, because when you get down to the cheese, they want exactly what we want - they want to do honest work for honest pay, they want to feed their families, they want to be secure in their homes. Give them what we would want, instead of taking it away from them.
17:38 BST

How Democrats lose

Among the numerous interesting things you should read at Liberal Oasis is a piece on How To Talk Terror which contains these paragraphs:

But if Iraq continues to degrade and Bush continues to be stubborn, having a collection of bipartisan figures echoing Kerry's vision will help Kerry make the case that there is a better way.

However, it would help Kerry more if Dems got a little coordinated and regularly cited Kerry's "plan" or "vision" when discussing their Iraq views.

Biden is a particularly egregious case.

At least twice -- on the 3/21 This Week and to the 4/7 Wall Street Journal -- he has publicly called on Kerry to be more specific about his Iraq strategy.

Yet Biden's main idea - internationalize it - is the same as Kerry's.

And instead of going on TV to say Kerry has it right on Iraq, Biden goes on to say he's right about Iraq, never mentioning Kerry's name once.

Though it's not just Biden who is being unhelpful.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), a veep wannabe no less, failed to work Kerry's name in while discussing Iraq on CNN's Late Edition.

And even Kerry's own aide Rand Beers didn't say "Kerry" once on This Week, as he sounded more like a pundit than a surrogate.

Kerry is being dinged for, as that WSJ piece said, not having "laid out a comprehensive plan for tackling Iraq."

Which is silly, because he has offered as much as one could for one who is out of power and for such a highly fluid situation.

But Kerry can't beat back the criticism if his allies, especially those with strong foreign policy cred, don't carry some water for him.

This stuff made me crazy four years ago. I really hope they're not going to do it again. A note to the floppy Dems mentioned above might be helpful.
13:10 BST

Stuff to check out Fixing The Election

Digby, with all you need to know about Ashcroft's performance before the 9/11 Commission.

More Republicans for Kerry

Students do not support Bush.

Unwelcome Education, and more.

Anti-Barbie becomes Russian icon: An unglamorous schoolgirl has become a feminist icon in Russia after she was entered for an online beauty pageant by a friend as a prank.
12:48 BST

Thursday, 15 April 2004

Double standard

Nick Confessore is channeling me on standards of evidence:

We now know that, in fact, our intelligence agencies had a pretty good sense that something wicked this way was coming during the spring and summer of 2001.
As is now widely-noted, Bush's reaction to all of this was to go on one of the longest presidential vacations in history. As the Washington Post reports, there is little evidence to indicate that, as the White House claims, the administration went to "battle stations" over this intelligence.

The president defends his inaction by saying, as the Washington Post reports:

I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America -- at a time and a place, an attack," Bush told reporters after Easter services in Fort Hood, Tex. "Of course we knew that America was hated by Osama bin Laden. That was obvious. The question was, who was going to attack us, when and where and with what?"
I find it interesting that Bush was applying such a high threshold of exactitude to al Qaeda-related intelligence, especially in light of events since 9/11. I want everyone reading this to perform a little thought experiment. In the intelligence report quotes above -- and in every such report you see quoted in the press from here on out -- replace "Osama bin Laden" with "Saddam Hussein" and "al Qaeda" with "Iraq."

Now imagine what would have happened during the spring and summer of 2001 if the Bush administration had reliable intelligence that Saddam's forces were preparing a terrorist attack on U.S. soil or to hijack a plane. Imagine if the administration had been given reliable intelligence that Saddam had a network of agents who had resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and that this network maintained a support structure that could aid attacks. Can anyone possibly believe that the president would have waited to know exactly "who was going to attack us, when and where and with what" before taking action?

Bush and Rice have repeatedly complained that it's too much to have expected them to anticipate a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda in 2001 since their intelligence didn't give them the exact date, time, and flight numbers in advance. Bush himself baldly stated - in reference to Iraq, of course - that terrorists don't announce their intentions in advance, neatly forgetting that Osama bin Laden had announced their intentions in advance on the radio.

Britons might recall that IRA terrorists routinely warn the police in advance of bombings; the tragic deaths in Birmingham (the same event that led to the wrongful incarceration of the Birmingham Six) resulted from the fact that the phone box from which such a call had been planned on the night turned out to be broken when it came time to phone-in the threat warning. (It's highly possible that without all that unplanned carnage, the police might have been a little less eager to abuse innocent men to force confessions from them.) While Al Qaeda isn't as explicit as the IRA - and certainly does intend to kill as many people as possible - it's entirely false to claim that there are never advance warnings of terrorism.

In the real world, Osama had given us everything short of an engraved announcement of the detailed plan. Aside from his public address, there were internationally known members of his network openly entering, travelling, and living in the US - with their real names in the phone book! - and they were identified by allied intelligence. The FBI was aware of, and trying to warn their superiors of, oddities among flight-school students. And, of course, we knew exactly what target they had put at the top of their list. As Clarke and others have already said, "chatter" had reached crescendo and the CIA director's hair was "on fire". Gosh, do you think something was up?

This is pretty much what Arlen Specter said in the famous disappearing quote of nearly two years ago. Let's see it again:

I don't believe any longer that it's a matter of connecting the dots. I think they had a veritable blueprint and we want to know why they didn't act on it.
But they continue making excuses for not having acted on it, as if that all makes perfect sense, even after having made the argument that acting precipitously in the case of Iraq - an argument they still adhere to - was the only sensible course. So, in the "9/11 changed nothing" box, we should not forget to include this axiom:
No evidence is good enough to suspect Al Qaeda; no evidence is too thin to convict Iraq.
George Bush was offered the opportunity at his press conference to acknowledge that he had made mistakes in the last three years. Amazingly, he couldn't think of any.
15:18 BST


Gary Farber points out that he didn't actually complain that I wasn't noticing things on his weblog; he merely observed that he had posts on his weblog he had thought I might have been more interested in. The Sideshow regrets the error.
14:00 BST


Atrios has been referring to the right-wing crackpot women's auxiliary as "Ladies Against Women", and it occurred to me that some people might not know that there's really a group called Ladies Against Women that's been around for a long time.

What's a White House for? - at Altercation, Eric Alterman's postmortem on Condi's appearance: Here's the bottom line: Rice said something in passing that rather sums up the situation: "There are plans and plans and plans. And the problem is, unless those plans are engaged by the civilian leadership... those plans simply sit." So: Why didn't the civilian leadership, AKA the White House, engage?

Some interesting Salon letters that I can't remember where I got the pointer - either Eric or Atrios, I guess.

Right-wing owners of radio stations can't be expected not to violate their contracts with openly liberal networks, and Air America is having trouble with the owner of their LA and Chicago outlets; Matt Drudge got the story wrong; Air America responds.

I forget where I got this crime story link, but it's not just fiction.

Note to self: Check out the new Take Back the Media Flash commentary.
13:42 BST

Wednesday, 14 April 2004


I was unable to get a decent stream off of C-Span last night (on dial-up, the "watch" link provided me with a still picture of a blurry man in a grey tie, although the moire-effect had many people seeing him in a psychedelic tie; the "listen" links just gave me an endless series of drop-outs), but I'm told the transcripts edit out all the stammering and flubbing, not to mention the sweating and reddening face.

Atrios has posted this much-talked about excerpt from last night's so-called press conference:

Q Mr. President, why are you and the Vice President insisting on appearing together before the 9/11 Commission? And, Mr. President, who will you be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?

[BUSH]: We will find that out soon. That's what Mr. Brahimi is doing; he's figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over. And, secondly, because the 9/11 Commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.

I suppose were used to getting this kind of "answer" from Bush by now - completely non-responsive babble that seldom rises above the level of tautology at it's most coherent. Of course, he can't explain why he and Cheney are appearing together because there is no answer that wouldn't thoroughly embarrass him. It takes days for his handlers to train him to make a simple statement, and he's a scared bunny who can't be allowed out in public to give off-the-cuff answers to unscripted questions - god knows what he might say to the Commission if he has to ad-lib.

There are days when I wonder what's really going on in the White House. We're already in a situation where Bush's own apologists think it's an excuse that when their man says things that are manifestly untrue, we can't call them "lies" because we don't know for certain that Bush knew what he was saying was untrue - even though everyone else in the world already knows it. Is it really credible, for example, that someone who is supposed to be the President of the United States cannot remember that the UN inspectors were not only in Iraq but were saying that Saddam was cooperating with them? I mean, it was in all the papers - on the front page! RNC goons spent weeks attacking Hans Blix, and now their president doesn't remember the guy ever existed?

So just how dumb can this guy be? Does he know he's lying? Is the country - and the world - really being run by a guy whose IQ is about 70?

We know things are going on that make no sense. Some people insist that, "Bush isn't stupid." Others maintain that it is not Bush, but his coterie, who orchestrate what the administration does - and that, therefore, it's "not Bush's fault" that these maniacs are wrecking the country. By that theory, the madness of Ashcroft, the incompetence of Rice, and the consistent screw-ups of Cheney are their own fault, and the president of the United States is just some kind of innocent bystander in the errors of his own administration.

I don't know. If we assume Bush has at least average intelligence - and there are some on-the-record statements (like his analysis of himself as a media-creation), that show more intelligence than can credibly be attributed to a retarded child - it's unreasonable to accept that he doesn't know he is making false statements.

So the question then becomes whether he minds making false statements. It's common wisdom that he pretty much says what Rove and Cheney tell him to say, and that may be true, but he's still responsible for the fact that he says them. That's the picture of the gang of guys with shared (lack of) values who all have the same goals but Rove and Cheney are the guys with the expertise and Bush is the guy with the (comparative) looks and the name so they make him the front man. Kind of like a rock band where you've got a genius composer and a genius guitar-player but any old singer will do and you happen to have a pal who loves your music and can sort-of carry a tune - and whose father has an empty garage for practice space and a lot of money to help his kid's band with.

(Or kind of like Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew - which makes our team Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles. Unfortunately, I don't think John Kerry is Buffy. I just hope he's not Cordelia.)

An alternative analysis of Bush is the strong-willed leader who believes he is Chosen by God to lead the Righteous against The Forces of Evil. In other words, an insane lunatic who won't listen to reason. Rove, Rice, and Cheney in this scenario are Apostles, but it's hard to see Powell as anything other than someone who hitched his tail to Bush's wagon and now doesn't have any way to get unhitched. Kind of like Judas' dilemma, wasn't it?

A theory I have sometimes entertained, ever since Bush showed up on camera with the face of a man who'd lost a punch-up, explained away with a silly story about how he choked on a pretzel, puts Bush instead in the role of an abused child - a captive of his handlers who is caught between life-long respect for them and basic physical fear of them. I realize this is a bit fantastic but it's amusing to imagine the tell-all book at the end of it all - perhaps he could go on tour with Linda Lovelace and they could both talk about their ordeals together. Might not be quite as good as Tim Leary and G. Gordon Liddy, but it has possibilities.

In the end, though, it doesn't matter whether any of these scenarios is true. What matters is that this is a terrible president and a terrible administration who have done our country no good and much harm. Maybe they belong in jail, maybe they belong in Hell, or maybe they just belong in a rubber room somewhere, but the one thing we know for certain is that they do not belong in the White House.

[Update: Maybe Bush is Harmony.]
16:13 BST

That's entertainment!

Ashcroft: perjurer.

Transcript: The most pathetic presidential press conference in history.

The New Yorker profile of Aaron McGruder (Thanks to Owen Boswarva.)

The end of Angel - watch out for spoilers. (Via)
13:39 BST

Tuesday, 13 April 2004

Banksie sighting

I can never find anything at the Metro site, but I saw this in the paper version:

700 on warpath for peace

MORE than 700 protesters went on the warpath for peace yesterday, staging Britain's biggest anti-nuclear demonstration since the 1980s. More than 500 people marched from London to join 200 more at a nuclear weapons site in Aldermaston, Berkshire. In Scotland, politicians took part in a CND rally outside a nuclear submarine base. Author Iain M Banks sent a message of support, which read: 'Memo to Tony Blair: instead of starting illegal wars over weapons of mass destruction that don't exist in the deserts of Iraq, why not dispose of the ones that do in the lochs and glens of Scotland?'

Nice to see him keeping his hand in.
23:35 BST

Out of the closet

Karen Hughes on Meet the Press:

And actually, the United States military, the men and women of our military, performed their duties in an extraordinary way, very successfully. And that's what the president was celebrating. I hired the person who worked with the crew on that shop in developing that banner, and I worked with the White House speech writers on the text of that speech.
So why were we told that the banner was some sort of spontaneous expression by military crew on that ship?
21:38 BST

We have all been here before

I just took a walk that went on a little too long. While I was walking - this is toward the end, where I was really starting to flag and get spacey - I came up with this idea that the last Harry Potter book was actually about the impeachment of Clinton, the negligence of the current administration, and 9/11. Or something like that.

Anyway, my mind just naturally wandered back to a couple of pieces I'd already linked. Like that Al Franken chapter certain individuals I know did not click on:

No one understood better the importance of taking a break to spend a little special time with the wife and dog than President George W. Bush. Bush spent 42 percent of his first seven months in office either at Camp David, at the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, or at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. As he told a $1,000-a-plate crowd at a fund-raiser in June, Washington, D.C., is a great place to work, but Texas is a great place to relax." That's why on August 3, after signing off on a plan to cut funding for programs guarding unsecured or "loose" nukes in the former Soviet Union, he bade farewell to the Washington grind and headed to Crawford for the longest presidential vacation in thirty-two years.

On its 172nd day, Operation Ignore suffered a major blow. Already, the operation was becoming more and more difficult to sustain as the intensity of terror warnings crescendoed. Now, on August 6, CIA Director Tenet delivered a report to President Bush entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." The report warned that al Qaeda might be planning to hijack airplanes. But the President was resolute: Operation Ignore must proceed as planned. He did nothing to follow up on the memo.

Actually, that's not entirely fair. The President did follow up, a little bit. Sitting in his golf cart the next day, Bush told some reporters, "I'm working on a lot of issues, national security matters." Then, Bush rode off to hit the links, before dealing with a stubborn landscaping issue by clearing some brush on his property. The next day, he followed up again, telling the press, I've got a lot of national security concerns that we're working on Iraq, Macedonia, very worrisome right now."

But Iraq and Macedonia weren't the only things on Bush's mind. "One of the interesting things to do is drink coffee and watch Barney chase armadillos," he told reporters on a tour of the ranch later in his vacation. "The armadillos are out, and they love to root in our flower bed. It's good that Barney routs them out of their rooting."

On August 16, the INS arrested Zacharias Moussaoui, a flight school student who seemed to have little interest in learning to take off or land a plane. The arresting agent wrote that Moussaoui seemed like "the type of person who could fly something into the World Trade Center." Trying to pique the interest of FBI Headquarters in Washington, a Minneapolis FBI agent wrote that a 747 loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon. If this information had been shared and analyzed, for example by a newly founded Homeland Security Agency, it might have sparked memories of the Clinton-thwarted 1996 al Qaeda plot to hijack an American commercial plane and crash it into CIA Headquarters.

On August 25, still on the ranch, Bush discussed with reporters the differences between his two dogs. "Spot's a good runner. You know, Barney-terriers are bred to go into holes and pull out varmint. And Spotty chases birds. Spotty's a great water dog. I'll go fly-fishing this afternoon on my lake." And you know something? He did just that.

Among those left to swelter in the D.C. heat that August was one Thomas J. Pickard. No fly-fishing for him. In his role as acting FBI director, Pickard had been privy to a top-secret, comprehensive review of counterterrorism programs in the FBI. The assessment called for a dramatic increase in funding. Alarmed by the report and by the mounting terrorist threat, Pickard met with Attorney General John Ashcroft to request $58 million from the Justice Department to hire hundreds of new field agents, translators, and intelligence analysts to improve the Bureau's capacity to detect foreign terror threats. On September 10, he received the final Operation Ignore communique: an official letter from Ashcroft turning him down flat. (To give Pickard credit for adopting a professional attitude, he did not call Ashcroft the next day to say, "I told you so.")

Oh, god, it's all so familiar, isn't it? Why did we have to wait for Clarke to tell us this stuff? We already know that while these people should have had their heads together to stop the thing from happening, Bush was talking to the cows.

Did I remember to link William Saletan's All the President's Suckers? I can't recall at the moment, but he neatly ties-up the issue of why it seems so easy to call so many of Bush's critics "flip-floppers":

What's with all the weak backbones? Is it a Democratic establishment disease? No, that can't be it. John DiIulio has the same problem. He's the guy the White House recruited to run the "faith-based and community initiatives" Bush promised in 2000. DiIulio quit in August 2001. A year later, he faulted the administration for caring more about politics than policy. "In eight months, I heard many, many staff discussions, but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions," he recalled. The result was "a virtual absence as yet of any policy accomplishments that might, to a fair-minded nonpartisan, count as the flesh on the bones of so-called compassionate conservatism." In short, DiIulio felt conned. How did the White House respond? According to Newsweek, "Officials cast aspersions on . DiIulio's truthfulness." DiIulio had a credibility problem: He had helped the administration but now criticized it. He was a flip-flopper.

Then came Paul O'Neill. He was fired as Bush's Treasury secretary in 2002 after opposing the administration's third package of budget-busting tax cuts. In Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty, O'Neill described his dismay as an administration he had expected to practice sound economics indulged instead in political protectionism and runaway deficits. He felt conned. How did the White House respond? Bush noted that O'Neill had "worked together" with him for two years on economic policy. Meanwhile, Bush's spokesman shrugged that the disgruntled ex-secretary was retroactively "trying to justify personal views." O'Neill had a credibility problem: He had helped the administration but now criticized it. He was a flip-flopper.

Now comes Richard Clarke. He decided to leave his post as U.S. counterterrorism coordinator three months before 9/11 because the White House, despite assurances to the contrary, wasn't treating al-Qaida as an urgent threat. In a book and in public testimony last week, he said so. He felt conned. How did the White House respond? It outed Clarke for having defended Bush's counterterrorism policies, as instructed, in a 2002 briefing that the White House had declared off the record at the time. Bush's national security adviser asked reporters "which of [Clarke's] stories is he going to stand by," since "he's got a record of having said something very different." Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., noting that Clarke had praised Bush in congressional testimony when he still worked for the administration, charged that Clarke had "told two entirely different stories under oath." In the words of Bush's spokesman, Clarke had a "credibility problem." He had helped the administration but now criticized it. He was a flip-flopper.

What do all these flip-floppers have in common? Not subject matter: DiIulio worked on social policy, O'Neill on economics, Clarke on national security. Not party: Kerry, Edwards, and Gephardt are Democrats; O'Neill is a Republican; Clarke worked for President Reagan and both Bushes as well as for President Clinton. The only thing they have in common is that they all cooperated with this administration before deciding they'd been conned. Flip-flopping, it turns out, is the final stage of trusting George W. Bush.

That's the really neat thing about abusing people's trust - when they realize they've been burned, you can attack their integrity!

But this has been Bush's party trick all along, like back in the 2000 campaign when he immunized himself from having his phony policies analyzed by simply painting the man who would be most likely to critique them - Al Gore - as a liar. Of course, there's a potential cure for that, which would be an honest and diligent press corps, but we didn't have one of those.

So, here's the thing: When Bush says that we "misunderestimate" him, what he is referring to is that we underestimate his willingness to blatantly, boldly, and outrageously lie. Just look at all the people who still don't believe it.
19:52 BST

Our man at the front

Atrios has been doing a lot of neat little essays at Eschaton over the last couple of days. Here is another one you should check out, about how we blew our image of invincibility by invading Iraq. (Yes, we had the apparatus to do otherwise, but that requires smart leadership, and we didn't have that.)

Atrios also quotes Howard Fineman as saying, in regard to the Plame-leak investigation:

Who leaked that name? That's getting big behind the scenes, and I think it's going to be a bigger story than we know, because the question now is not just who leaked it but who lied to investigators about the leak.
I have to say this kind of talk bugs me, just as it does every time someone suggests that, "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up." I feel like I'm being set-up for the day when it becomes abundantly clear that the administration has committed a zillion serious crimes but since they never actually lied under oath about most of them they all end up getting swept away, as if the original crimes themselves don't matter and the only thing they could ever have been hung for was perjury - and if they do get charged with, or convicted of, perjury, everyone will pretend they should not be sentenced any more harshly than Clinton was (as if Clinton had been lying about the commission of a crime).

But that's not normal treatment for criminal activity - or else no one who confesses to a crime would ever go to jail, and wouldn't that be an interesting way to run a criminal justice system? But the press is talking as if that is exactly the standard of justice that is to be applied to this administration - it's not the criminal activity and disastrous policies that are the problem, but whether they lied under oath.

Well, no, the lies just compound the problem. (And anyway, it's not as if the State of the Union address doesn't qualify as a sworn statement, let's not forget.)

I think the bigger problem here is the one we saw from the press in regard to Clinton, which is that jilted-lover way they respond to someone lying to them as the worst thing in the world. If they ever do genuinely turn on Bush, it won't be because he's wrecking the country - which he quite obviously is - but because he made them feel like fools.
14:34 BST

Assorted items

Doug Thompson: 'The day freedom of speech died in America'. Choice words.

In another universe, 9/11 really did change George Bush. (Via)

Allen Brill has decided to broaden The Right Christians out and has changed the name to The Village Gate in order to form an umbrella site for bloggers of different faiths, each with their own page (I think). Nice idea, but I really loved the name and the idea behind his own page and I think he should return to that for it. Anyroad, he's done what is probably about the 249th version of Country Joe's "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag".

13:51 BST

View from the middle

Mark Evanier is not convinced that Condi Rice's testimony proved much of anything.

But she also helped Bush in that she pointed up some of what is to me an essential absurdity -- the contention that we can look back and affix blame for 9/11 to specific actions or inactions. I'm afraid I don't buy all this hindsight and attempt to assign guilt to anyone who wasn't part of Al-Qaida.
I think Mark is what the real non-partisan middle sounds like (rather than the crackpots who make excuses for the White House no matter what they do and say), but I also think he's missed something, here. Not too many people are claiming that the White House masterminded the 9/11 attacks; the issue is whether they upheld their responsibilities, and the evidence is pretty clear that they did not.

The issue was never that there was a "silver bullet" the administration failed to use, it was that they were doing nothing to try to prevent an attack they had been warned was very likely to occur. Consider the following:

  • Having been explicitly told by their predecessors that they were going to have to keep their eye out for Al Qaeda terrorism, the administration specifically told our intelligence services they could not investigate Al Qaeda, and set up new protocols that prevented the flow of information between those agencies.
  • As the chatter increased to the point that an attack was expected, they went on vacation.
  • In her testimony before the commission, National Security Advisor Condi Rice bemoaned the absence of a mechanism for coordinating and collating between the various security agencies. There is, in fact, such a mechanism: the National Security Advisor.

We have those election thingies every four years in order to try to choose people who are competent to handle these responsibilities, and this administration, for whatever reasons, has proven not to fit the bill. There is no proof that someone else would have prevented 9/11, but there is more than enough evidence that someone else might have. It is certain that almost anyone else would have tried. This administration did not.
13:38 BST

Monday, 12 April 2004

Why would anyone hate our freedoms?

Just in case you were wondering, Talk Left reminds us of how that "freedom" thing is working for us:

People who do bad things: They have to be punished:

A Sheriff's deputy in Pasco County, Florida arrested a nine year old girl after he found a rabbit in her home that she took from a neighbor. Presumably concerned about "officer safety," the deputy handcuffed the girl, then transported her in his squad car to the police department for questioning.
Believe it or not, there was a time when in a situation like this the cop would have what was known as a "stern talk" with a kid who did that sort of thing, rather than wasting time processing them through the system. But I guess, now that crime is over, the cops and courts have nothing better to do.

And now that racism is over:

Federal oversight of internal investigations of misconduct by the New Jersey state police, implemented in 1999 after the state admitted that troopers engaged in racial profiling to make traffic stops, will end in response to a joint request made by the U.S. Justice Department and the state attorney general's office. Those agencies say that an internal affairs unit is doing an admirable job of handling complaints against officers and no longer needs oversight. Monitoring of other functions of the state police would continue under the judge's order.
Here's an article on the episode where US Marshals interfered with reporters covering a speech by Scalia, and one took and erased a tape a reporter was making. Over the last three years, we've been seeing an awful lot of this thing where people who in theory work for "the people" to protect officials seem to act as if they are instead the personal minions of those officials and lawfully able to violate the law on their behalf.

Action request on the loathsome Victims' Rights Amendment, which is scheduled for Senate consideration on the 23rd. Read the post, and then contact your reps.

And so it goes....
19:14 BST

Okay, okay

Famous nudge Gary Farber is complaining again that I'm not noticing things on his weblog, so let's have a look.

Okay, there's actually some interesting stuff, like this post tweaking "absurd, ahistoric, kooky, 'analysis'". And this one, comparing a statement by Rumsfeld with a much more sensible disagreement from Phil Carter's blog.

Ouch, check this out - Muslim clerics wanting to waive their own censorship laws against blasphemously portraying holy figures because Mel Gibson's movie presents, "a good opportunity to reveal the crimes committed by Jews against the Christ and many other (religious) prophets."

The Pledge goes to court, and Gary found a good quote from someone who has been watching the arguments:

I had come to witness a disputation between religion's enemies and religion's friends. What I saw instead, with the exception of a single comment by Justice Souter, was a disputation between religion's enemies, liberal and conservative. And this confirmed me in my conviction that the surest way to steal the meaning, and therefore the power, from religion is to deliver it to politics, to enslave it to public life.

Some of the individuals to whom I am attributing a hostility to religion would resent the allegation deeply. They regard themselves as religion's finest friends. But what kind of friendship for religion is it that insists that the words "under God" have no religious connotation?

Here is a good response to Safire's slime of Ted Kennedy, in which the nattering nabob attributed to Kennedy things he did not say.

What Powell said, and what's in the silences.

This post lists a few articles on the historical workings of the Presidential Daily Brief, with mention of the legendary CIA man previously known as "her husband".

And Kathryn Cramer is not Atrios or Kos, but ... Hmph.

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
16:00 BST

Sunday, 11 April 2004

Jim Henley is having a bad day

I'm a lesbian first lady. Woo
Which Famous Homosexual are you?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

An earlier post of his provided the quiz link, but the more serious item I saw at the top of his weblog is enough to make me cry.

And I saw it coming - really, I did - and I begged people not to go through with it and, like I said, here we are.
We saw it coming. And it's here.
23:59 BST

The weekend Pravda

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't give a damn if Daniel Pearl's widow is having an affair with some media executive. Mr. Reliable Sources didn't agree, and provided the usual unsourced gossip in the Style section. Like me, a lot of readers were disgusted and said so. Ombudsman Getler provides the paper's excuse: They apprarently think they've exposed some sort of conflict of interest involving two public figures. I think it's a load of crap, and I also think that if The Washington Post thinks it's news, they should have someone write up the interesting little conflicts of interest that Mr. Reliable Sources himself has going all over the place.

Krauthammer proves once again that the essence of modern conservatism is a staunch refusal to understand how money works, claiming that free trade can stamp out all poverty, and therefore honest liberals should support it. Yeah, right.

David Broder seems to have missed a lot in Condi's testimony, but does say this: John Kennedy was famous in his time for picking up the phone and asking desk officers deep in the State Department or smart congressional staffers what they knew about something of interest to him. Kennedy was a journalist at heart, not, like Bush, a Harvard Business School grad. That kind of curiosity is as important to the presidency as the most well-organized staff system.

Readers' letters show some members of the public understood all too well what Condi was saying, and what she was leaving out.

Dear Brethren of the GOP... features an old-fashioned Republican from Virginia explaining where the GOP has been getting it wrong.

Editorial - More Corporate Welfare : ON SOCIAL SECURITY, as almost everybody knows, Congress is averting its eyes from future deficits. On corporate pensions, meanwhile, Congress has stared the monster in the face -- and then made it more monstrous.
13:10 BST

Protecting the children


Teen who posted own photo charged with child porn

State police have charged a 15-year-old Latrobe girl with child pornography for taking photos of herself and posting them on the Internet.

Police said the girl, whose identity they withheld, photographed herself in various states of undress and performing a variety of sexual acts. She then sent the photos to people she met in chat rooms.

A police report did not say how police learned about the girl. They found dozens of pictures of her on her computer.

She has been charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography.

She took pictures of herself. She had pictures of herself on her computer. And they are going to "protect" her by charging her with a bunch of serious crimes and wrecking her life. What a bunch of heroes!

[Thanks to Scorpio (of Eccentricity) for the tip.]
10:15 BST

Situation normal

Newsweek: "If Bush gets what he wants, the income tax will become a misnomer - it will really be a salary tax." Nathan Newman: This is class war-- by Bush on behalf of the rich investment class on those who earn their money hour-to-hour through wages.

"We need to find something that works." (Also: what George Bush thinks "compassion" is.)

Quote of the Year

Keeping score on anti-gay bigots

Problem-solving in Florida: Bill would exempt electronic votes from manual recount.

Gary Hart has a question: I co-chaired a national security panel that warned the Bush administration the terrorists were coming. Why hasn't the 9/11 commission called any of us to testify?

FYI: IN HONOR OF PASSOVER WE'LL LET YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS: An enterprising Rabbi is offering circumcisions via the Internet. The service is to be called "E-MOIL."

Just your typical GOP cross-dresser.

Even him? So Dick Morris is on Hannity and the other guy tonight... Morris shrugged and said, well, Sean, if you want to be the war president, you sort of have to win the war.

The Sideshow wishes to apologize for the recent lack of lingerie; the spring catalog was a bit of a disappointment.
09:32 BST

Saturday, 10 April 2004

Saturday quick-view

a spiny bristleworm

"The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) presents the FIRST EVER scientifically accurate toys based on the half-billion-year-old fossils of the Burgess Shale of British Columbia." (via)

Noel never much liked Howard Stern, but one day he took a long drive and came to the conclusion that Stern is the descendant of Lenny Bruce.

Hm, I wonder what happened to the action figure Elayne linked to.

Al Franken has put his chapter on Operation Ignore on the web because he believes it is the crucial section of his book that everyone should read. You get your choice of formats, too. (via)

Gene Lyons sings Johnny Paycheck.

It's not just Richard Clarke, you know.

Hear all 9/11 Hearings free at

Benedict has an interesting piece up called The Perfect Alibi which shows, among other things, how the administration itself created the intelligence failure it now blames on the agencies by deliberately interrupting intelligence-sharing between them. And how they botched the war in Afghanistan.

Administration wages war on pornography. Because it's the really important thing.

Not a pretty picture
20:55 BST

Friday, 09 April 2004

More to read

Fred Clark (who is still doing his Left Behind analysis, too) is the guy to go to today for analysis of what's been going on, Check him out on the White House's insistence that Condi's planned 9/11 speech be classified, and on Rice's testimony, where he demonstrates pretty conclusively that Condi Rice appears not to know what her job is. He also thinks about why Bob Kerrey is so angry. (This is really good, go read it.)

Back on religion, I rather liked the final paragraph from this piece on the place of the phrase "under God" in our society: I suppose the only people perverse enough to take offense at these three trivial syllables would be fervent atheists like Michael Newdow or fervent believers like myself.
19:06 BST

And you supported the invasion because....?

Josh Marshall:

Ages and ages ago we told you how Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith ran the office charged with doling out Iraqi reconstruction contracts. And we told you how Feith's law partner, Marc Zell -- amazingly contravening the law of averages -- had happened to set up a special lobbying shop to lobby for companies looking for sweet Iraq contracts.

And then, because we didn't want to leave out any details, we noted that Zell had opened that new operation with Salem Chalabi. And, yes, Salem is Ahmed's nephew.

Now it turns out that in addition to his entrepreneurial activities, Salem is also in charge of setting up the Iraqi war crimes tribunals, which will eventually try Saddam Hussein.

All of which should reassure you that as messy as things may be at the moment, we're at least freeing this sad land from corrupt dynasticism and clan rule.

Is there really anyone who thought it could be otherwise under Bush? Anyone? Then I have some words for you: Boy, were you dumb!

Ah, I see Atrios has some words for people who supported the war, too:

If things are not going swimmingly in Iraq, it is not the fault of domestic critics. It is the fault of the people who sent in too few troops and failed to plan for the aftermath of the war.

One should not have to have been "pro-war" to be a critic of what's going on. I'm tired of people prefacing their criticisms with phrases like "as someone who supported this war..." Well, you were wrong. Why should we listen to you now? There were plenty of reasons to be against the war, but the only one which was necessary was the fact that the people in charge were utterly incompetent - that people opposed to "nation building" had no real desire to carry it out. Once their incompetence was clear, no other reasons were necessary. Even Tom Friedman recognized this was a risky venture, but he failed to understand that you do not support risky ventures run by inept lunatics.

"You were wrong. Why should we listen to you now?" I like that so much, I'm tempted to recommend it as a replacement for those "Fair and Balanced" headers.
18:15 BST

Grilled Rice

Newsweek is acting like the scales are falling from the eyes. And I don't just mean here - I also mean Howard Fineman! (Good stuff on this thing all over the blogosphere, but this fact-check is probably what you want for the whole skinny.)
15:02 BST

Click here

"There's no tax on any of the operations of News Corp," its chief financial officer, David DeVoe, told a conference call.

Anne Zook asks: "Could we spare some energy to care about the war most of us did support?" (And she also found another link for that cash-only doctors story.)

"The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity" by Martin Luther King (via Diana Moon)

Toward a libertarian left? (And The Port Huron Statement, in case you were wondering.)

Riverbend with a little story of liberated Iraq.

Josh Marshall asks who said: "They have concluded he was so surrounded by sycophants he had no real idea of what was happening in [Iraq]." - and I guessed wrong both times.

The two thousand-year battle between marshmallow products and Christianity

Nobody Here (Thanks to Susan Palermo.)
13:44 BST

Thursday, 08 April 2004

Briefly noted

Owen Boswarva rides to the rescue again, and finds me that link to the originating article on cash-only doctors that Density-land referred to.

Condi Rice: Not much of an expert on the Soviet Union, either.

Where's the Outrage?

Fire the FCC.

Farewell: Tony Smythe 1938-2004. Here's an old quote from him that I didn't see in his obits: "Censorship is more degrading and corrupting than pornography can ever be."
16:50 BST

At Bad Attitudes

Here's a recommendation from Double Trouble:

Don't miss Barbara Ehrenreich's piece in The Progressive. In it we learn that "the Army now includes applications for food stamps in its orientation packet for new recruits." Also, charities have begun delivering food to impoverished military families at army bases. And veterans' health care costs have gone up, resulting in many vets losing coverage.
Does anyone besides me find this unacceptable? What's the excuse for this?

Meanwhile, Lead Balloons has more on how the GOP bites at fighting terrorism. (He didn't say "bites". I said "bites". He said "sucks", but that one never made sense to me. Don't guys actually like that? If it feels good, why use it as an insult?)
15:02 BST


The right-blogosphere continues to spin in a whirlwind of self-righteous apoplexy over Kos' (relatively minor) faux pas, pretending that they are guardians of decent and civil discourse. Teresa had made a brief post on the subject of Kos' remark, and sure enough, the Moral Monitors turned up there with the same line of bull. I rather liked Patrick's response there:

And I'm sure that the right-wing bloggers and pundits who have been piling on to Kos will of course repudiate eliminationist rhetoric whenever it emits from one of their own, like for instance Bill O'Reilly's recent call for a "final solution" in Fallujah.

Or all those lovely remarks from the Reverend Moon recently, delivered to adoring audiences of right-wing lobbyists and congressmen, about how we'll be "solving" the "problem" of homosexuality shortly, just as soon as the Reverend achieves his God-given destiny as overseer of the nations of the earth. I trust the weblogs of the Right will be all over this.

I'm certainly sure that highly placed officials in the Bush Administration would never appear on radio shows hosted by people with years-long records of race-baiting and bigotry. Indeed, I'm quite sure that Republicans, conservative webloggers, and the White House will be very careful never to associate with, or link to, people who talk freely and enthusiastically about killing overseas civilians, or blowing up the New York Times, or forcibly converting other countries to Christianity. Or people who put up a picture of a thirteen-year-old girl and compare her jokingly to a dog.

Because of course the political Right in this country is so very, very careful to police itself and dissociate itself from extremist or violent sentiments. So naturally it's incumbent on every single liberal in America, certainly including every weblogger and political campaign, to get out there and grovel if one single prominent person says one single dumb thing.

Oh wait. No, I don't think that at all.

Hey, come to think of it, neither do you.

Nice try, though.

Over on his own weblog, though, he's recommending Rivka's remarks on the subject, and also pointing to the attack on Nathan Newman up next from one of the more odious creatures in the blogosphere (not someone who can claim any moral authority) - who is such an utter weenie that he's set up a bounce to a 404 message for any attempts to reach his page from links at Nathan's site. This is a whole new level of chickenhawkery - he'll bravely send others to take bullets for him, but is scared of lefties coming to his weblog!
13:22 BST

Wednesday, 07 April 2004

Webbed world

My provider had another upgrade, so naturally I had a bit of trouble posting over the last couple of days. I had enough to say - after writing Tribes, below, and not being able to post it, I found the thought was still with me and went on to ruminate a bit more for my DNO article, Watching the Fabric Rip. But now I find that in the wake of today's big news , I'm feeling kind of inarticulate.

So, to get on with it:

In The New York Observer, Joe Conason says Bush's Attack Dog Needs a New Leash - Bill Frist making false charges against Clarke on the Senate floor is unacceptable; he should apologize to everyone and then resign.

Oh, this is good - the White House forbade more than three commissioners to attend when Condi Rice testified earlier in private - and then: White House spokesman Scott McClellan complained last month that when she testified in private, "only five members showed up" to hear what she had to say. (Via)

Via An Old Soul, I see there's an article in The Washington Post reminding us of yet another broken promise from Bush: On Oct. 17, 2000, in a presidential debate against Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Gov. George W. Bush of Texas promised a patients' bill of rights like the one in his state, including a right to sue managed-care companies for wrongfully refusing to cover needed treatment. This was, of course, the bill George Bush tried hard to kill as Governor of Texas, and he's still trying to kill it now.

Steve Smith alertly noticed the return of Neal Pollack.

This one's for you, Elayne: bzzzzzzzzzz. (Thanks to Robert Lichtman.)
23:59 BST

Tuesday, 06 April 2004


Travis at Rain Storm has a nice little summing-up of what's been going on in Iraq. I read about this stuff, which was all inevitable, and I wonder if anyone understands that this is what we meant more than a year ago when we warned of destabilizing Iraq. In case no one's noticed, this isn't exactly the way most of us define "creating democracy". (And neither is this.)

This is on the side-bar of Rain Storm

Rain Storm is offered as a means to apply historical perspective and military experience to the political and military adventures of the current U.S. administration.

It is written from the perspective of one who was once a soldier, who studied war, and who believes that those who would send American troops to shed blood on foreign soil should also know something about war themselves, and not just be think-tank weenies playing international power games.

This is what the administration looked like to me from the very beginning. It seemed pretty obvious to me that they just had no idea - no idea why we try to avoid war, no idea why diplomacy is a really good idea that should be in the hands of diplomats. No idea what --

What? I've never been in a war zone, so why is it so obvious to me? I've never been a soldier, but I understand something of the idea of things like wounds, death, chaos.

Is there more to it than the simple fact of never having been a soldier? Is it something special about knowing that it is never going to be you? It's never going to be you knowing that you're going to have to kill someone or die. It's never going to be you waiting for letters from some alien land outside of "The World". It's never going to be you tracing the lines of white scars on the flesh of your lover. Because you and your friends live in rarified heights where you just never have to worry about these things, and you know the wars will always be fought by strangers.

I have the feeling that's a very real part of the way these people think. They are the players; everyone else is just chess pieces. The people of Iraq aren't supposed to react to having their country invaded, to being treated like trespassers on their own lands; they're just supposed to concede when their king is toppled. Nor can they have their own local tensions, tribes, politics.

And since none of that matters, neither does it matter that this same kind of fragmentation is also being actively promoted at home, divisions intensified, one nation hacked into Our Side and Their Side.

They really have no idea what's at stake, do they?
17:48 BST

Blog notes

David Neiwert, in an uncharacteristically short post, notes a bright new GOP idea that, "any person who disrespects the 'Office of the Presidency' by making false accusations and spreading deliberate rumors about the president, should be charged with a felony or at the very least a high misdemeanor." (Boy, they really don't expect ever to be out of power again, do they?) More typically long and thorough pieces detail the convergence of American far-right terrorists with other world terrorists and some creepy background on Condi Rice's (now inoperative) insistence that she couldn't testify. (And David picks up the point that "separation of powers" can't be applied to the case, since the commission is not a creature of Congress, but appointed by the executive.)

At BlueGrassRoots, Ben crows Skippy-ishly about having invented the term "Right-winglish" to describe righty rhetoric. Meanwhile, Adam tells the Occupant what he really thinks.

I really wish there was a link to the article this post on cash-only doctors apparently refers to. In any case, it is an interesting trend to watch and see if it grows.
17:06 BST

Monday, 05 April 2004

More stuff to read

Why it's better to work for McDonald's: Red Wheelbarrow recommending a piece in the NYT about how and why managers arrange to cheat workers out of pay for hours worked - a good post about a worthwhile article.

Sympathetic Eye for the Extreme Guy - 60 Minutes pretended to cover the issue of judicial appointments, without bothering to notice that Democrats opposed Pickering because he is a bad judge with extremist views.

Lynn M. Paltrow at in Policing Pregnancy says the new fetal rights bill is scarier than you think - for women who actually don't want an abortion. In fact, this bill could be a good reason to terminate a pregnancy as early as possible to avoid ending up charged as a criminal if things don't go well.

Tom Tomorrow pokes a nice hole in a certain way of thinking about the November election.
23:36 BST

Things I read

Busy Busy Busy catches another RNC mis-lead: One Republican talking point currently making the rounds has the farsighted Bush people, even prior to 9/11, so dedicated to fighting terrorism that they actually increased the CIA's anti-al Qaeda budget five-fold - the implication being that they did everything they could to prevent the attack, but even their greatly enhanced effort proved to no avail. (Also, the latest Shorter David Brooks is a marvel of double-edging.)

Bill Scher at LiberalOasis: As of late, Bushies have tried to argue that Democrats didn't take terrorism seriously enough before 9/11. The fact is Dems couldn't shut up about terrorism in the days and weeks before 9/11, as they tried to stop Bush's missile defense plans by showing Bush was ignoring the most pressing threat.

A really creepy story from Talk Left: Suffolk County homicide detective James McCready bragged about the way he tricked 17 year old Martin Tankleff into confessing to the murder of Tankleff's parents. And don't miss this item about the disaster in the public defense system (and a description of one hell of a bad lawyer).

Is it hate-speech when...?

Eric Alterman wasn't nearly as slack as usual Friday, and discussed a catalog of Bushista weaseling.

Jack Newfield at The Nation in Bush To City: Drop Dead, says: The Bush Administration has treated New York City like a battered wife who still gets displayed for photo-ops and state dinners. George Bush and the Republicans who control both houses of Congress have starved New York for three years with fiscal policies that alternate between abuse and neglect. But now Bush will stage his renomination convention in the city he has used and abused--sticking his finger in our eye and exploiting our bereavement. This August, Karl Rove, the kitschy guru of political theater, will try to convert the crematorium of Ground Zero into a re-election billboard.
14:48 BST

Via Bartcop

I don't care how lousy his typing is, he posts some entertaining stuff.

From Make Them Accountable, A familiar foreign policy: The Soviets sacked smaller nations and killed their people and stole their resources in the name of the proletariat. Bush sacks smaller nations and kills their people and steals their resources in the name of peace. The commissars marketed their butchery as "promoting international socialism" while Bush stains the ground red in the name of "democratizing the world". For all the self-serving verbiage, the foreign policy of the USSR ultimately existed to serve the interests of the oligarchy that ran the country for its own benefit, and the same is true of the Bush foreign policy.

In 2000, counties with paperless voting machines had some rather extraordinary upsets - all for Republicans. And that's just one little thing. Even if it's not true that Republicans are Trying to Fix the 2004 Election, it looks too much like they are to ignore this thing.

Get Your Global War On
13:14 BST


The right-wing has discovered liberal weblogs and has to destroy them. So an influential (and effective) blogger - who is usually pretty even-tempered - makes one intemperate comment and InstaHack strikes, and the Kerry campaign goes all wobbly over it. Idiots all. MyDD's comment:

That's what this is about. Just as in the past, when many in the Democratic establishment routinely would dis Jesse Jackson, Sista Soulja or some other African American leader, to gain favor with the right; now we have a Democratic leader dissing the blogosphere for bringing up a legitimate issue (the use of mercenaries in US combat), because Kos used unfortunate language in framing the debate with a blog comment, and the rightwing attacks. Fine, let Kos address the offhand comment again, and then let's talk about the issue of whether the US should be using mercenaries in Iraq.
Max has no respect for Instapundit:
Put simply, Reynolds is the leading purveyor of modern McCarthyism on the Internet. He is a daily source of cheap shots, pot-kettle criticisms, and two-cent sanctimony. I confess he is one reason I started blogging. I guess everybody can be a star at something. Moral stature? What a joke.
The best post to read for a fuller explanation of the issue is this one from The Blogging of the President 2004, which has a lot to say about the context in which these things are happening, too.

Links are via Atrios, who has been given great pause by it all.
12:33 BST

Sunday, 04 April 2004


Frank Rich: 'A Bush comedy routine to die for'

The movie Hollywood is afraid to make

The Computer Ate My Vote and Mad Cow Trade Association

George Soros: If the administration cannot recognize and admit its mistakes, it cannot correct its policies. (Via Benedict@Large)

Register for the Zogby polls.
23:47 BST

Reading The Washington Post

I'm pretty sure it's the Doubleclick ads that keep crashing CrazyBrowser, so I hate the Post now for reasons completely unrelated to content.

Okay, let's see what we've got:

Editorial: In the Heat of the Campaign - the Republican National Committee's sudden interest in having a Federal Election Commission that actually enforces the law would be nice if it weren't really a dishonest ploy to prevent people who disagree with them from being able to make use of the public airwaves to voice their own concerns. When Ed Gillespie, chair of the RNC, calls groups like, "an unprecedented criminal enterprise designed to impermissibly affect a presidential election," it's gotta make you choke.

This Time, Bush Could Get the Gore Treatment - Thomas F. Schaller revives the old "Gosh, wouldn't it be awful if Bush won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College?" thing. Sorry, but my alarm bells go off when I see this stuff. And Bush is not going to get "the Gore treatment", because it was the Gore treatment - it wasn't designed to negatively effect Republicans.

A letter-writer says what the paper itself fails to confront:

Peter J. Solomon's March 28 op-ed column, "A Lesson From Wal-Mart," turned my stomach. To him, the Wal-Martization of the world is good, corporate greed should be rewarded, communities should die and those who don't own Wal-Marts can just tighten their belts and learn to live in packing boxes.

Solomon says that "Wal-Mart's pricing practices have had a positive influence on the economy": Inflationary pressures have been dampened, and our standard of living has been improved by lowering prices and forcing suppliers to do the same. He writes with the arrogance that only a person with a secure, well-paying job can.

If our economy is so good, where is the evidence, other than the monstrous salaries of those at the top? Wal-Mart employees can't even afford to shop there. Millions of Americans need two or more jobs just to afford a semblance of shelter and food -- forget medical care. Communities that used to provide jobs with living wages have seen their centers wither and die, their inhabitants impoverished.

The fact that Solomon's thoughts are considered acceptable enough to be printed in a major newspaper shows just how far this country has fallen in the past 30 years. [John Fay]

Another notes that the paper publishes a terrorism-supporter's work:
Robert D. Novak writes [op-ed, March 25] that Haiti's new prime minister, Gerard Latortue, has designated the rebels who overthrew president Jean-Bertrand Aristide as "freedom fighters." Novak concurs with Latortue's declaration that "they are not thugs." [More - if the link works.]
And so it goes.
11:40 BST

Saturday, 03 April 2004

The Lyin' King - and the enablers

Aside from David Letterman, it would be hard to find much in the media that acknowledges the fountain of mendacity pouring out of the house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Letterman himself used the L-word when CNN passed-on a White House claim that Letterman had falsified a clip of some kid yawning during a Bush speech. When Letterman insisted that was a lie, CNN backtracked, claiming it was their own error and the White House had not contacted them. (Sure, I think an anchor at CNN imagined being contacted by the White House. Yep yep yep.)

To add to the hilarity, CNN (and then The Washington Post) continued to try to introduce cover for the White House, as a result of which they then became news themselves - and refused to respond to calls for comment.

I bet Paul Krugman reads Atrios:

In short, CNN passed along a smear that it attributed to the White House. When the smear backfired, it declared its previous statements inoperative and said the White House wasn't responsible. Sound familiar?
Krugman goes on to detail Wolf Blitzer's dissembling about what he "really" meant when he hinted that there was something suspicious about Richard Clarke's personal life - and what the source was. Blitzer tried to pretend he hadn't referred to an unnamed source (he had) and tried to deflect criticism with a reference to a different slander that had come from National Security Council spokesman Jim Wilkinson.
Look, I understand why major news organizations must act respectfully toward government officials. But officials shouldn't be sure - as Mr. Wilkinson obviously was - that they can make wild accusations without any fear that they will be challenged on the spot or held accountable later.

And administration officials shouldn't be able to spread stories without making themselves accountable. If an administration official is willing to say something on the record, that's a story, because he pays a price if his claims are false. But if unnamed "administration officials" spread rumors about administration critics, reporters have an obligation to check the facts before giving those rumors national exposure. And there's no excuse for disseminating unchecked rumors because they come from "the White House," then denying the White House connection when the rumors prove false. That's simply giving the administration a license to smear with impunity.

Krugman had written earlier about the White House smear campaigns - and their enablers, including Blitzer.

At Consortium News, Nat Parry looks more deeply into Bush & the L-Word:

Over the past four years, one of the most powerful U.S. media taboos has been against calling George W. Bush's pattern of false statements lies. Among Washington journalists, the l-word is casually applied to people who have gotten in the way of the Bush Dynasty - from Bill Clinton and Al Gore to more recently John Kerry and now Richard Clarke - but almost never to Bush.
He notes a crack in the facade in the recent story on the front page of The Wall Street Journal detailing administration deceptions, and giving examples like this one:
--Did Bush activate the government's emergency response plans as he claimed in his nationally televised speech on the night of Sept. 11?

Federal officials, interviewed by the Journal, said the emergency plans were implemented by lower-level officials, not by Bush. FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the so-called "Conplan" was activated without any input from Bush or the White House. A former White House official told the Journal that Bush was not involved until he signed a disaster declaration on Sept. 14.

But even this story, he says, never uses the big L. And:
As the war against Clarke has escalated, Bush even pitted his personal credibility against Clarke's by disputing Clarke's account of meeting Bush in the White House Situation Room on Sept. 12, 2001, a day after the terrorist attacks. Clarke said he was told by Bush to seek a link between the Sept. 11 attacks and Iraq. "See if Saddam did this," Bush said, according to Clarke. "See if he's linked in any way." Clarke said he told Bush that the evidence was clear that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks, not Iraq.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan sought to poke a hole in Clarke's credibility by telling reporters that Bush didn't recall the conversation and that no records show Bush was in the Situation Room at that time. However, Clarke's former deputy, Roger Cressey, corroborated that the conversation between Bush and Clarke had occurred. [New York Times, March 23, 2004.]

The White House subsequently acknowledged that the Bush-Clarke meeting in the Situation Room did occur, but the Washington press corps did not cite this reversal as evidence of a Bush lie. The taboo remains in place.

When reporting on Bush's attempts to discredit or destroy whistleblowers, the Washington press corps typically lets Bush, his aides and conservative pundits gang up on one individual in a kind of they-said-he-said dispute, much as Russert did to Clarke on "Meet the Press." There's never any counter-balancing context of Bush's now long record of distortion and deception. It's like every day is a new day for Bush's credibility.

Parry notes the similarity of attacks on John Kerry to those that were used against Al Gore in the 2000 campaign (many of which were not merely carried, but sometimes even created by the press), and contrasts them with the kid-glove treatment Bush continues to receive.
The Republican allegations about Kerry's supposed lie that world leaders favored Bush's defeat dominated the TV pundit shows for a week. But the larger absurdity of the controversy was that Kerry's comment about many leaders privately wishing for Bush's defeat was certainly true.
Certainly true, because many of them have expressed open displeasure with Bush's policies, not to mention the fact that his word is no good.

Back to Krugman:

Where will it end? In his new book, "Worse Than Watergate," John Dean, of Watergate fame, says, "I've been watching all the elements fall into place for two possible political catastrophes, one that will take the air out of the Bush-Cheney balloon and the other, far more disquieting, that will take the air out of democracy."
We have to start asking the press which of those outcomes worries them more.
21:06 BST

Friday, 02 April 2004

Last night's headlines

Blogging has been light due to...well, I'm not sure why. Preoccupied. Listening to Air America. Messing around.

Anyway, the big news is all about Condi Rice, who absolutely couldn't testify and now can because George Bush is a poll-following flip-flopper. I dunno, now that even The Washington Post says her credibility is shot, maybe they've decided to throw her to the wolves.

And also it turns out that Condi's scheduled 11 September 2001 speech was cancelled by events, and the content is now kind of embarrassing. As Josh Marshall explains:

[...] Condi Rice was scheduled to deliver a major foreign policy address on missile defense as the centerpiece of a new strategy to combat "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday."

Then reality intruded.

As the Post explains, the speech contained little real discussion of terrorism. The only mentions were swipes at the Clinton administration's supposed over-emphasis on transnational terrorism at the expense of more important priorities like missile defense.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but let's say it: It was as obvious four years ago as it is today that the most potent threats to America are asymmetric threats, particularly forms of attack that cannot easily be tied back to particular states which we can punish with our conventional military superiority.

In plainer speech, the biggest threats we face today are ones that don't come with a return address.

I'd like to beat this one into the ground for a moment: While Journalistan was roaming around the dictionary after 9/11 declaring that "everything has changed," the administration, more than anyone, was acting like nothing had - nothing had changed even since 1987.

But Journalistan, too, was letting the Bushistas get away with this refusal to understand that terrorism is terrorism. "Everything has changed," apparently meant, "We don't have to make sense anymore." 9/11 didn't mean we could no longer make ICBMs our principal (and maybe only) fear, or that terrorism was independent of individual states, or that 9/11 could happen - oh, no. "Everything has changed" was never meant to apply to the means of warfare that might be used against us or what we understood about the way the world sees us. It didn't apply to anything outside of the purest partisan politics. It only meant that our attitudes toward George W. Bush were supposed to have changed - that suddenly we were supposed to believe he was a great president.

And so nothing had changed for Bush, for Rice, for Rumsfeld. It was still about enemy states, and it was still about making Bush look good (in spite of everything). And a lot of people fell for it, and some are still falling.

Josh is the go-to guy right now for strange junk coming out the weasels (but you knew that). He's pretty curious about the fact that Bush can't testify without his keeper. Maybe this is what Scott McClellen means when he keeps calling their so-called cooperation "unprecedented". Yes, I don't think I can recall any example, ever, of two witnesses appearing on the stand together. Normally, you're not even allowed to be in the same room when other witnesses are testifying, until after you've been discharged and won't be giving any further testimony yourself.

Marshall seems to be losing respect for some of his colleagues, if this is any indicator. He knows them better than I do; is it really true that their abysmal performance over the last ten years is because they are simply too dumb to recognize news unless it is spelled out for them? *sigh*

(Elsewhere on the page, a little example of why some people might have the impression that Republicans are racists.)
18:12 BST

Thursday, 01 April 2004

The Light Stuff

Fresh metaphors: I've lightly followed here the saga of Captain Yee, the Guantanamo chaplain originally charged with High Treason and a vast conspiracy to smuggle intelligence out of there and back to his nefarious masters, as it slowly collapsed, like a slow-motion souffle of whipped lawyers, into a degenerate farce, wrapped in a clown show, hidden inside a carnival of onions.

It's not a surprise that the fetal dragon turned out to be a hoax, but it's rather a disappointment that it just turned out to be a PR stunt.

Why are you so short?

Those whacky scientists

What type of cheese are you? (via)
15:20 BST

Spooky cops

Drug War Rant has found a weird story:

CARLSBAD, Calif. - When police noticed Dina Dagy's family was spending $250 to $300 a month on electricity, they suspected a marijuana farm was flourishing under high-intensity lights inside their suburban home.

What they found when they showed up with a drug-sniffing dog and a search warrant was a wife and mother who does several loads of laundry a day, keeps a dishwashing machine going, has three electricity-guzzling computers and three kids who can't remember to turn the lights out when they leave a room.

DWR wants to know how, exactly, did they "notice" their electricity bill? This isn't exactly something one becomes aware of because of a casual glance while one is minding one's own business.

It gets better:

They also noticed the family had put its trash out that morning, something police say drug growers often do to hide the evidence. In the Dagys' case, however, it was trash day.
Just how much are the cops reaching when things like this are considered suspicious behavior? I bet some drug dealers also buy soft drinks and have...refrigerators!
02:22 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, April 2004

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

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