The Sideshow

Archive for August 2004

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Tuesday, 31 August 2004


Ted Barlow has more on the ACLU case and a PSA, and also reminds us about Gorenfeld's page explaining the difference between George Soros and Sun Myung Moon.

Digby tries to figure out swing voters: You can see why they need to hear more from him on where he stands. They've only had four years and he's done a relatively good job except for the jobs, gas prices, health care, social security, running up the deficit and Iraq. He just needs to lay out his agenda so they know what to expect.

GOPcon watch: Effete liberal academic Michael BTrubT finally recognizes the manly manliness of the manly RNC.

I realize the Electoral Vote Predictor tends to give more points to Bush, but this is depressing.
22:55 BST

In the mags

In The Nation
Damaged Goods: William Greider wonders how far the GOP will go to hold power.
State of the Union, 2004 by Gore Vidal
Bush Bashers & the Bashers Who Bash Them by Katha Pollitt
Less Than La Guardia; Less Than Lindsay by John Nichols.

In The American Prospect, Battle of Little Big Vote by Tara McKelvey: Welcome to South Dakota, where Republicans tried to impose a poll tax to suppress the Indian vote.

From Harper's, Negative Capability - from the horse's ass mouth.
12:32 BST


I watched Thirteen Days last night, which means I spent the whole time thinking, "If that had been Bush, we'd all be dead." Anyway, it ends with a voice-over of John F. Kennedy saying this, which is probably way over Bush's head.

When Atrios and Digby bemoan the worthlessness of the press, Moe Blues thinks they understate the case, and delivers a little history lesson.

It's the same play, but move the theater and it's transformed. Slacktivist looks at the difference, and Hell House.

An editor is aghast when obvious lies show up in his newspaper. (via)

From TNR's RNC blog, Ryan Lizza on evolution in the anti-Bush rhetoric: I think I know what explains the shift. In the last four years, opponents of the president have gone from believing he is an idiot to believing he is a threat to civilization. Calling him "shrub," which was popular in 2000, no longer does the trick. Now, most Bush-haters think he's a ... well you know. (Jerome liked the slogans, anyway.)
01:38 BST

Monday, 30 August 2004

Mo' Blog

"And here I thought that 'GOP' stood for "Global Outsourcing Plan," says dataguy in a comment responding to this post by Any Sullivan. But Kevin Drum is back, and he has some sharp words for Dennis Hastert's suggestion that George Soros made his money from drugs. And he also says (so I don't have to say it again), For the record, I'd like to note that Hastert is not an overweight filmmaker or an anonymous blogger. He's the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the third highest ranking Republican official in the country. This is what the leadership of the Republican party has become.

Nathan Newman says the administration is at it again at the Department of Labor: Why should anyone take this administration seriously when they say they will take care of workers displaced by trade or outsourcing?

At Seeing The Forest, Dave Johnson traces the smear structure.

Oh, look, Patrick has a new photo at the top of page.
22:03 BST

On the blog

Lean Left keeps finding more stuff on Swiftvet Sleaze and also notes that Hesiod couldn't stand it anymore and has one last post he couldn't hold back.

Gail Online has a couple of amusing and timely photos on her page. And a couple of good links, of course.

David Neiwert wants to know why a pipe-bomb explosion at a stem cell lab is not being recognized as an act of terrorism.

Epicycle: So, Conservative leader Michael Howard has been banned from visiting the White House following criticism of Tony Blair and his policies on the Iraq war. Back in February, Howard gave a speech in the House Of Commons calling for Blair to resign, and this appears to have personally offended Bush's puppet master, Karl Rove - his message to Howard sounded like a sulky child: "You can forget about meeting the President, full stop. Don't bother coming, you are not meeting him". Given how long ago this actually happened, though, it seems likely that the news has now been deliberately leaked to coincide with the imminent Republican National Convention in New York, just one of a series of bizarre stories that have hit the media in the last few days. And a link to a really bad translation in an ad.
17:18 BST

The weapon

As some of you may recall, I have a thing about the Charter Arms .38 Undercover.

I'm not one of these people who thinks every death caused by gun-shot is a reason to ban guns. I can't help but notice that some countries have far more liberal gun laws than the US does and yet do not have America's high murder rate. But there was a media event that made me notice this particular gun. I looked for a link but, unfortunately, I couldn't remember enough of the details to come up with good key words. (I don't know what it is, I've just never been good at that.) Or maybe it's not on the net, I don't know.

Anyway, a reporter was killed with one of these guns, and the media, which in those days actually used to really care when reporters got killed, went a bit nuts about it. It was a big story, and in that big story the weapon was referred to as "a cheap hand-gun". "Cheap hand-gun" was just starting to gain currency around that time as an epithet suggesting that it was too easy for criminals and teenagers to get their hands on not-very-good guns (that frequently exploded in the users hand) at low cost that should be banned because they had "no sporting purpose." Even the NRA supported this position back then.

It wasn't so much the death of the reporter that turned it into a bona fide media event, but rather the response by Charter Arms, who felt compelled to make a public statement defending what they said was not a "cheap hand-gun" at all, but in fact an expensive instrument. At that time it cost $80.00.

So I noticed the existence of the gun. Not a big deal in itself, but after a while I also noticed that this gun seemed to be involved in a few other significant events.

The gun cost Mark Chapman $197.00 when he used one to kill John Lennon in 1980 in front of the Dakota in New York.

I don't know what Mumia Abu Jamal paid for his.

I was told (by a reporter I've since lost contact with) that Arthur Bremer's .38 was also the same gun (although, again, I failed the Google test here). Since I regard the shooting of George Wallace as a significant event for American politics (I still believe it made the difference in Nixon's election), and John Lennon's death had a major impact on me, that stuck with me.

I've never understood why John Hinckley used a .22.
15:22 BST

Top stories

George Bush has declared Iraq a "catastrophic success", and blames our military for the invasion's failures. John Edwards responds.

Greg Palast on how Theresa LePore is making sure she gets to count the ballots in her own re-election campaign:

This time, Theresa's in a hurry to get to the counting. She began tallying absentee ballots on Friday in her own re-election race. Not to worry: the law requires the Supervisor of Elections in each county to certify poll-watchers to observe the count. But Theresa has a better idea. She refused to certify a single poll-watcher from opponents' organizations despite the legal requirement she do so by last week. She'll count her own votes herself, thank you very much!

And so far, she's doing quite well. Although 37,000 citizens have requested absentee ballots, she says she'd only received 22,000 when she began the count. Where are the others? Don't ask: though she posts the names of requesters, she won't release the list of those who have voted, an eyebrow-raising deviation from standard procedure.

And she has no intention of counting all the ballots received. She has reserved for herself the right to determine which ballots have acceptable signatures. Her opponent, Democrat Art Anderson, had asked Theresa to use certified hand-writing experts, instead of her hand-picked hacks, to check the signatures.

Unfortunately, while Federal law requires Theresa to allow a voter to correct a signature rejection when registering, the Feds don't require her to permit challenges to absentee ballot rejections.

I know what you're thinking. How could Madame Butterfly know how people are voting? Well, she's printed PARTY AFFILIATION on the OUTSIDE of each return envelope. That certainly makes it easier to figure out which ballot is valid, don't it?

And dear Reader, please take note of the implications of this story for the big vote in November. Millions have sought refuge in absentee ballots as a method to avoid the dangers of the digitizing of democracy. Florida and other states are reporting 400%-plus increases in absentee ballot requests due to fear of the new computer voting machinery. Some refuge. LePore is giving us an early taste of how the Bush Leaguers intend to care for your absentee ballot.

In other news, Dick Cheney's Alive!
13:16 BST

Krauthammer addendum

I nearly missed another article about Francis Fukuyama breaking with the other neocons on the war. What makes this one particularly fun for me is this:

In the clubby world of neoconservative intellectuals, many of whom are longtime friends and allies, Mr. Fukuyama's repudiation of the case for war, which appeared in The National Interest, was all the more startling because he presented it as an attack on a recent speech by his friend, the columnist Charles Krauthammer of The Washington Post.

Mr. Fukuyama faces stiff resistance. In an interview on Friday, Mr. Krauthammer says he is publishing a rebuttal in the next issue of The National Interest portraying Mr. Fukuyama's critique as "breathtakingly incoherent."
In an interview last week, Mr. Fukuyama said that he had harbored private doubts about the war at the time, although he kept quiet about them then. "I figured it was going to happen anyway, and there wasn't anything I could do about it," he said. "I believed it was a big roll of the dice, and I didn't believe it was a wise bet. But on the other hand, it was a roll of the dice, and for all I knew, it might have worked."

He added, "It turned out to be even worse than I anticipated."

But as he was listening to his friend Mr. Krauthammer deliver a recent speech on the theme of the United States as a unipolar power, Mr. Fukuyama said, he grew increasingly agitated.

Mr. Krauthammer's speech "is strangely disconnected from reality," Mr. Fukuyama said in his article.

"One gets the impression that the Iraq war," Mr. Fukuyama continued, "has been an unqualified success, with all of the assumptions and expectations on which the war had been based vindicated."

See? Even his friends think he's nuts.

Via Stand Down.
02:48 BST

Good stuff

Arthur Silber: As I have previously said -- and the inevitable conclusion which most defenders of our foreign policy simply will not allow themselves even to consider: when you proceed from faulty premises, and when you take action based on a set of beliefs which contains massive contradictions, all you can or will accomplish is destruction.

Via Oliver Willis, Michael Crowley on the myth of Zell Miller, and "A miscalculation".

Mac Thomason on Bayou politics: Instead of intimidating black voters because of their race, goons poll-watchers in Bayou La Batre intimidated Asians because of their race! Alabama sure has come a long way! Some 50 Asian voters there had their right to cast ballots challenged on the grounds that they allegedly weren't American citizens. Plus they talk funny.

David Yaseen has some fun with David Brooks' interesting description of the bright new non-ideological Republican Party.

Uggabugga has produced a graph of the Pentagon spy story.

At The American Street, Diana Moon makes a few observations while preparing to blog the Republican convention, Barbara O'Brien has a modest proposal, Skippy locates a real republican, and Neil Shah discovers that right-wing economics ignores arithmetic.

Jeralyn Merritt has a post up about convention blogging, including a link to her op-ed in the Denver Post about convention blogging.

The no-fly list is a terrorist plot!

Dyke attacks Blair. I apologize. I'm constantly seeing this or similar headlines and I finally broke down.
01:10 BST

Sunday, 29 August 2004

Magwatch: The Washington Monthly

If you can't be bothered to read Bill Clinton's book, let me recommend Bill of Right, Matthew Cooper's review, which skips over the stuff the media rattled on about and gets to the meat.

Patent Absurdity: How extended copyrights choke the economy by Gordon Silverstein looks at Larry Lessig's book about how he screwed up his big chance to get rid of the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act.

Elayne Riggs says, The best thing so far about this must-read article by Josh Marshall, Laura Rozen and Paul Glastris is the way they take back the word "shadowy" right there, in the first sentence of the second paragraph, to point the finger at the people in power who actually are shadowy (as in, clandestine and secretive and back-channel and probably law-breaking) rather than the people whom the administration is trying to attack using that word (who are fairly above-board for the mots part). Looks like the real Reagan legacy is alive and well...

A boatload of guests are sitting in at Political Animal while Kevin Drum is on holiday. From Amy Sullivan, some thoughts on Republican religious hypocrisy - especially from the right-wing Catholic League; some poll results on associated religious issues, and a pointer to God is not a Republican, a Flash animation that looks to be by Fiore and shows us the Heavenly Convention.
17:42 BST

Krauthammer's Syndrome

Just think, I might have overlooked this delightful piece of whimsy from the amazing Dr. Krauthammer if it hadn't been for Roger Ailes, who refers to him as "Charles Quackhammer", an apt re-naming given the silly hack's propensity for such very bad analysis of other people's psychology. This can't be helped, since he starts off, as always, with the proposition that Democrats are (a) cracked and (b) just as contemptuous of the American populace as the current Republican leadership so clearly is. Of course, since the lumber in Krauthammer's eye is now of sufficient size to build a nice four-poster bed and matching dresser out of, he doesn't acknowledge the comparison.

Historians will have a field day trying to fathom the depths of detestation that the Democrats are carrying into this campaign. Vanity is only part of it. What else is at play? First, and most obviously, revenge. Democrats have convinced themselves that Bush stole the last election. They cannot bear suffering not just a bad presidency but an illegitimate one.
What someone like Krauthammer cannot afford to see is that if Bush had turned out to be a good president, even his illegal appointment could have been overlooked. Unfortunately, the means by which he achieved power turned out to be emblematic of the kind of administration he would run.

Beginning with the contempt for the electorate that was evident when attempts to re-count were met with a campaign of dissembling in which we were told that everything we had always known was wrong - why, even counting the ballots is not only irrelevant to an election but a blatant corruption of democracy. Team Bush was complaining about "recounting and recounting" even when no recounts were as yet underway. They were also complaining about resort to the courts even though it was they who were using the courts to prevent the normal, legally-mandated recounts from taking place. So we start with a campaign of lies and illegality, and then it continues.

Everything you know is wrong. Counting ballots is undemocratic, war is good, neglect is security, and so on. The administration was warned about an imminent terrorist attack, and did nothing - and so 3,000 people were killed in a single morning on our home ground. The administration invaded Afghanistan and then walked away in the middle of it all to pursue a side agenda in Iraq - and didn't even properly equip our troops. And, having done so, they put pirates in charge of the rebuilding, thus guaranteeing that we would make enemies even of people who had personally been victims of Saddam. Not to mention emptying our treasury, violating every significant clause of our Constitution, alienating our allies, and launching the most divisive political campaign of our lifetimes.

No, none of that should have made us want to get rid of such a dishonest and irresponsible administration.

It's not as if Republicans in general don't show a snotty superiority toward the hoi palloi in other ways, either. What else did it mean when they demanded to know, "Where's the outrage?" over Bill Clinton's minor indiscretion? (And it was minor - so minor than when his Republican predecessors had affairs while in office, no one even bothered to report it.) Republicans, ever-contemptuous of the public's far more liberal beliefs and attitudes, are usually smart enough not to tip their hands, but having made the mistake of letting America know too many of the facts in their bizarre campaign against the Clintons, they found the country turning away from them in revulsion. So this time around they went back to their usual program of simply lying about their goals, their intentions. Bush lied about his "compassion" and his education program and his desire to safeguard Social Security and return "your money" to "you" and to improve the economy and to protect us from terrorism because if he told the truth he could not possibly get more than 29% of the vote. They know perfectly well they are playing the public for suckers - and they think we deserve it.

But look at how Krauthammer re-casts this:

Moreover, against all expectations, it turned out to be a consequential presidency. Bush was not the mild-mannered, Gerald Ford-like Republican he was expected to be -- transitional and minor. He turned out to be quite the revolutionary, most especially in his radical reordering of American foreign policy. A usurper is merely offensive; a consequential usurper is intolerable.
He says "consequential" as if it means something good. Yes, Bush has been "consequential" - the consequences of his administration have been disaster. There are certainly consequences to profound irresponsibility, astonishing wrong-headedness, massive destructiveness. Are we supposed to care about those consequences merely because they make a mark on history, and not because of the misery they entail? Being "consequential" doesn't necessarily mean you have the foresight of Winston Churchill or FDR - sometimes you are consequential because you do terrible things; it's not as if Hitler and Stalin have ever been regarded as "inconsequential". (Personally, I've always liked Ford's presidency, because he didn't do anything consequentially horrible.)

Why, even Republicans are starting to notice, and they're getting mad themselves. Jim Jeffords was an early signal, but even the military brass is chewing its collective liver over the damage Bush has done. No one in their right mind wants to see more of this, but Krauthammer thinks all of that anger is just some weird Democratic insanity.

A lot has been said about people who do long-distance psychology, and mostly it comes in the form of, "You can't psychoanalyze people from a distance. You have to interview them, you have to do tests." Actually, this is rubbish. If Krauthammer wasn't deep in the arms of his own psychosis, there's no reason he shouldn't be able to use his training to analyze people he sees in the public eye all the time. The reason you do tests and interviews with psych patients is because you don't have the opportunity to observe them in action, you can't see how they perform in their natural environment, so you have to take short-cuts. But in Bush's case the whole nation can actually watch him do his thing, and his thing is obviously way out of whack.

And Krauthammer has revealed an awful lot of himself as well. The advantage your shrink has is that, assuming you are a voluntary patient, you will probably reveal things you wouldn't tell your best friend, and we don't know for sure as outside observers how much of what Bush and Krauthammer say and do is delivered consciously and cynically, and how much is simply their own deluded thinking. Maybe Krauthammer doesn't believe a word he writes, and sits down to type these screeds thinking, "How can I make the perfectly sane statements of Democrats sound crazy?" But if that's not the case, then it doesn't take a highly-trained specialist and a battery of tests to see that his work represents a massive tower of projection and denial. If you give him credit for integrity, you have to conclude that he's nuts. If he's not nuts, he's committing deliberate libel against everyone who disagrees with his stated views. And either way, he doesn't deserve a column in one of the most influential newspapers in the country.

Of course, we have the same problem with Bush. Any attentive observer can see that Bush says things that are not true. Maybe he's knowingly lying (and on several occasions it's been obvious that he is), or maybe his thinking is so warped that he believes what he is saying (and sometimes this also seems to be the case), but clearly he cannot be trusted and his actions lead to disaster. Whatever he is, he is not a reliable defender of the US Constitution and the American Dream. Democrats and Republicans alike have been noticing this ever since the Selection, and more and more have realized it as time has gone by. The more people know, the less they trust him. This is proof that, while many Americans may still be ignorant, most of them are not so stupid after all.
13:26 BST

What the papers say

I have been totally annoyed all week by this Howard Kurtz thing in which he absolves the press of the blame for failing to subject Bush's arguments for invasion to any scrutiny. Look, the point was that Bush needed to make a case for war, and he didn't. The Iraq resolution's requirements were on the record, and he didn't meet them. What he did was illegal, and you chose not to mention it. Hell, yes, it would have made a difference. The members of this administration can get away with not doing their jobs because you don't either. This needs to stop.

I read it in the IHT but couldn't find their version online, so I googled it and found it on Yahoo News - Richard Reeves on the real issue: Whether you agree or disagree with the words pouring from the podium over Americans who see reflections of themselves in George W. Bush, the real issue of this election will not be mentioned. The core issue is this: Our president is incompetent. He is not a good president. Reeves gives ten reasons why.

There's a good letter in Saturday's Washington Post that usefully explains that social spending helps the economy. It's one of those things that conservatives don't want you to know.

Meanwhile, in the Observer, David Aaronovitch visits a red state and finds it not quite what he expected, and back at home Will Hutton decides political correctness is actually okay.
02:43 BST

Saturday, 28 August 2004

Stuff to check out

Jeanne left us a post full of links at Body and Soul, and I like the way she phrases this one: George Bush apparently believes "The poor you will always have with you" is one of the Ten Commandments. She also reminds us of Sirota and Baskin's Follow the Money: How John Kerry busted the terrorists' favorite bank. Like she says, this is something we should be making more of - especially when you remember who all the players were.

Brian Hunter at CommonPrejudice discusses the way someone appears to be trying to hype the public and the police into believing that "anarchists" are planning violence in New York. Steve Gilliard reacts strongly.

Where is John Edwards? And how much does media have to do with the impact of advertising?

The People's Republic of Seabrook: Perhaps it's just that George W. Bush recognizes that he couldn't carry John Kerry's jock when it comes to debating the issues that are important to this country today. Of course, if you can frighten people into thinking that the absolute WORST thing that they can do is change horses in the middle of the race, why would you have to worry about debating issues? And this David Horsey cartoon.

This is a couple of months old, but read I Am Going To Burn from Harper's anyway.

Just go read everything at Drug War Rant, there's a lot of good stuff.
15:07 BST

Politics and policy

New Battleground Poll from George Washington University. NewDonkey analyzes the spin.

MPs plan to impeach Blair over Iraq war record: MPs are planning to impeach Tony Blair for "high crimes and misdemeanours" in taking Britain to war against Iraq, reviving an ancient practice last used against Lord Palmerston more than 150 years ago. A bunch of Celts, mostly. And Boris, of course.

Ampersand explains what "judicial activism" really means.

Why free trade agreements are bad for your health. (And thanks to K Marx The Spot for not letting this one slip my mind.)
13:23 BST

Getting the picture

The New Democratic Network has two new ads, Two Jobs and Faces (QuickTime).

Buzzflash has an .mp3 (here) of the video of former Texas Lt. Governor Barnes confessing on video that he fixed National Guard posts to get the sons of rich people out of the Vietnam draft - and says he's really sorry. (Is there streaming video somewhere?)

Comedy Central has posted Jon Stewart's interview with John Kerry, in two parts.'s new ad campaign is online - go here.

Crayola Rejects

Update: Just print out this Tom Tommorow cartoon and distribute it everywhere you can think of.
02:19 BST

Friday, 27 August 2004

I saw this stuff

The Poor Man discovers that Bush has flip-flopped free speech for "independent" groups. And also joins the chorus of those who have suggestions for Kerry about answering Bush.

Moving Ideas has an update on the progress of the Class Action Bill - which, of course, exists to limit your ability to bring class action suits.

Something I found via the Electrolite sidebar is this Fourth Amendment tote bag. Makes a great gift!

David Sirota says: AP says a recent Bush executive order is "in keeping with Bush's goal of having the government defer as much as possible to local interests." While that may be the White House's rhetoric, it is not its record, and then provides some examples from that record. He also examines the New York-bashing by the Republicans.

Skippy says the DA who lied about Kerry as one of the Swift Boat Liars has been busted for lying - but for something else.

Stupid dope dealers
23:32 BST


Bruce Schneier has a bunch of op-ed articles appearing this week that address some of our favorite recurring themes (which, come to think of it, is usually the case with Bruce).

I've talked before about how the terror alerts do nothing to make us any safer. In The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Bruce asks, How Long Can the Country Stay Scared?:

A terrorist alert that instills a vague feeling of dread or panic, without giving people anything to do in response, is ineffective. Even worse, it echoes the very tactics of the terrorists. There are two basic ways to terrorize people. The first is to do something spectacularly horrible, like flying airplanes into skyscrapers and killing thousands of people. The second is to keep people living in fear. Decades ago, that was one of the IRA's major aims. Inadvertently, the DHS is achieving the same thing.
We have, of course, visited the point before, and this is where we look at the landscape and say, "Well, if what the terrorists are up to - and it is - is to try to terrorize Americans, then thanks to the Bush administration, the terrorists really have won."

Which brings me back to another point. Three years ago when people in Europe pointed out that terrorism wasn't really a surprise - and that going to extremes was not necessarily the way to handle it - the response from the newly-aware was to demand, "Why have you put up with it?" Like, why they didn't just go and, I dunno, declare a war on terrorism and attack the countries that "supported" the terrorists, I guess.

Well, one reason is that a major country that was supporting the terrorists was the United States, and it actually would have been mighty difficult to just, you know, invade America and, hey, maybe have some, uh, regime change. I don't actually think it was crazy for European countries to pass on that idea.

But the real answer is that Europeans didn't just "put up with it" - they treated terrorists like the criminals they were and didn't allow them to completely disrupt their way of living. They did not suddenly get behind an excited drive to gut their treasuries and impoverish their countries and their people by setting off half-cocked on some stupid permanent state of war that would wipe out the very civil liberties and trust in law that made their nations worth living in to begin with.

So, yes, it is no longer Al Qaeda that is terrorizing the United States, it's the Bush administration. And, thanks to them, the authoritarians in certain other countries (e.g. the UK) have jumped at the chance to shred civil liberties and issue ID cards and other creepy stuff they've wanted to do all along. Thanks a lot, you "freedom-loving" monkeys!

At Newsday, Bruce looks at another stupid element in terrorizing the citizenry in U.S. 'No-Fly' List Curtails Liberties:

Imagine a list of suspected terrorists so dangerous that we can't ever let them fly, yet so innocent that we can't arrest them - even under the draconian provisions of the Patriot Act.
Really! If these people are terrorists, why don't they just arrest them? What is the no-fly list for? It seems pretty obvious that it's not there to catch terrorists, but to make life difficult for the rest of us. Bruce provides details on just what a mistake this is.

Bruce looks at another side of the airport security problem in An Easy Path for Terrorists at The Boston Globe:

If you fly out of Logan Airport and don't want to take off your shoes for the security screeners and get your bags opened up, pay attention. The US government is testing its "Trusted Traveler" program, and Logan is the fourth test airport. Currently, only American Airlines frequent fliers are eligible, but if all goes well the program will be opened up to more people and more airports.

Participants provide their name, address, phone number, and birth date, a set of fingerprints, and a retinal scan. That information is matched against law enforcement and intelligence databases. If the applicant is not on any terrorist watch list and is otherwise an upstanding citizen, he gets a card that allows him access to a special security lane. The lane doesn't bypass the metal detector or X-ray machine for carry-on bags, but it bypasses more intensive secondary screening unless there's an alarm of some kind.

Unfortunately, this program won't make us more secure. Some terrorists will be able to get Trusted Traveler cards, and they'll know in advance that they'll be subjected to less stringent security.
Moreover, there's no need for the program. Frequent fliers and first-class travelers already have access to special lanes that bypass long lines at security checkpoints, and the computers never seem to flag them for special screening. And even the long lines aren't very long. I've flown out of Logan repeatedly, and I've never had to wait more than 10 minutes at security. The people who could use the card don't need one, and infrequent travelers are unlikely to take the trouble or pay the fee to get one.

And in Olympic Security in The Sydney Morning Herald, he points out that you can install lots and lots of high-tech security that intrudes overwhelmingly on our privacy, but none of it is likely to stop anyone who is determined to create a disaster.

So, basically, you kiss your civil liberties good-bye, you take on whole new levels of hassles when you go anywhere, and you get nothing for it except - that's right - a false sense of security. [Note: Bruce provided both the links to the articles as they appear on the websites in question and also the permanent links on his own site. I decided to use both in case anyone ever wants to use those articles for document reference, but Bruce's own links are friendlier.)
18:40 BST

Is it really that close?

Zogby says It Ain't A Tie:

Despite virtually universal media insistence that the presidential popular vote remains too close to call, Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry has held significant leads in the crucial electoral vote total since late May - briefly interrupted by the mid-June media circus over Ronald Reagan's death, but firmly re-established since early July (after Fahrenheit 9/11 began screening and Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate).

The latest state polls, as of Aug. 24, put Kerry ahead of Bush by 108 electoral votes (with Colorado's nine votes tied). Currently, Kerry leads in former Bush states Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, Nevada and New Hampshire. (And at one time or another during the past five weeks, Kerry has also led in former Bush states Arkansas, Ohio, Arizona and West Virginia.)

Why is Kerry leading handily in electoral votes while the popular vote remains close? Because there has been a major shift in about 15 states, with seven former "battlegrounds" moving to Kerry and eight former Bush states becoming freshly competitive. Although many pollsters and pundits have been focusing much of their attention on Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire and New Mexico, those states have moved firmly toward Kerry. At the same time, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and even South Carolina are now in play.

Yesterday, however, The Los Angeles Times released another poll that gives Bush the edge; Paul Glastris, sitting in for Kevin Drum at Political Animal, says:
I don't know quite what to make of the new LA Times poll that seems to show a perceptible move towards Bush since last month on an array of fronts. Alas Ruy Teixeira is on the road, so we may have to wait for his always-interesting analysis.
That doesn't stop him from speculating that the Swift Boat Liar ads have done some damage, but it looks to me like the spin cycle moved to another phase yesterday and we'll have to see how that works out. Or, as Bill Scher says at Liberal Oasis:
Consider the following:

1. Snapshot Of A Fluid Situation

The poll ran from Saturday to Tuesday. Kerry's counteroffensive began two days prior to the start of the poll, and its still going.

In turn, the results don't reflect some the counteroffensive's recent successes: the resignation of a top Bush lawyer, the spreading news of John O'Neill's Cambodia lie or Max Cleland's (almost) hand-delivered letter.

2. Bush's Numbers Still Bad

Bush's approval rating in the poll was 52%, an insignificant increase of 1 pt from July. (And much higher than most polls.)

Furthermore, a majority disapproves of Bush's handling of the economy (51%), and Iraq (50%). A plurality (49%) says Iraq was not "worth going to war over."

Most damning, on the question, "do you think the country is better off because of...Bush's policies...or do you think the country...needs to move in a new direction," Bush loses big (43%-54%).

3. The Swift Boat Phase Will End, But Bush's Bad Record Won't

Perhaps less than the specifics of the Swift Boat Liars charges, some people were negatively influenced simply by witnessing Kerry on the defensive.

Not the posture an unsure voter wants to see a candidate in.

But that's fixable, by going on the offensive more often.

Bush's record is not fixable. It's a losing record, and he's stuck with it.

Now we're hearing that Bush is going to announce some cool new policy initiatives at the convention. Gosh, I wonder what he can do to top the trip to Mars and the war on steroids.

Oh, wait, I know! Tax cuts!

Seriously, we can only hope he doesn't claim he's going to do something we approve of, because we already know how that goes.
12:38 BST

On the Interweb thing

Mark Thatcher 'planned to relocate to Texas': MARK Thatcher was arrested by a crack South African police unit in connection with an African coup attempt because he was planning to quit his luxury Cape Town home and relocate to the United States next week, a senior detective said yesterday.

You know they're making it up about "anarchists" and even - one can hardly credit it - Weathermen planning to cause violence in NYC, right? Somebody is planning something, it sounds like, but it sure am ain't the dam' Weather Underground. Watch out for fake "protesters" out there, folks.

Did John Kerry appear on The Daily Show? (It's worth waiting for this thing to load.)
04:58 BST

Defend Johnny Cash

His daughter once said that she thought the invasion of Iraq was one of the things that took the fight out of her father at the end - the worry that we were getting into another Vietnam.

But now the Republicans are trying to appropriate his legacy for themselves:

And, as John Nichols wrote in his Nation weblog after Cash's death last year, "Though he was not known as an expressly political artist, Cash waded into the controversies of his times with a passion. Like the US troops in Vietnam who idolized him, he questioned the wisdom of that war. And in the mid-1960s, at the height of his success, he released an album that challenged his country's treatment of Native Americans."

But it was his songs which really marked him as a man of the people. He took sides in his songs, and he preferred the side of those imprisoned by the law--and by poverty and hard luck.

Yet, this Tuesday the GOP and the American Gas Association, a network of 154 utility multinationals, are shamelessly trying to appropriate the singer-songwriter's legacy by hosting an exclusive "celebration" of Cash for the Republican delegation from Tennessee inside the elite corridors of Sotheby's auction house.

In response, an ad-hoc group of activists have created a website to honor Cash's memory ([link]) and to express what is safe to say would be Cash's outrage over the Bush Administration's malign neglect of the poor in this country. Do you think Cash would be supporting the President's economic policies? How about the Iraq war? If you think the answer is "no," then come join other Johnny Cash defenders at 4:00pm (dressed in black if you'd like) on Tuesday, August 31st, at Sotheby's at 1334 York Avenue in Manhattan.

Stand up for the Man in Black if you're going to be in New York Tuesday.

(I'm not sure where I first saw this story, but here's one post that has a few of the links in it.)
02:21 BST

Story time

I've been meaning to pass on this little tale Sandi Toksvig told on her LBC radio show a few weeks back (as quoted to me by Rob):

George W. Bush, Donald Trump, the Pope, and a small boy are onboard an airplane when the engines fail. The plane is going to crash, and there are only three parachutes.

Grabbing one and strapping it on, Donald Trump announces: "I'm really rich, so of course I have to live."

So saying, he leaps out of the plane.

Then George Bush says, "I'm the leaderer of the free world, so of naturatily I have to live." Whereupon, he leaps out of the plane.

The Pope then turns to the boy and says: "I'm an old man and I've lived a full life, so you should take the remaining parachute."

"Oh, don't worry," says the boy, "there's still a parachute for each of us. George Bush just jumped out with my rucksack."

I have to admit that when I heard this joke, I actually spent a beat wondering what I would have had to have in my knapsack that would have been valuable enough for me to stop him - but then, I'm going to Hell.

Skippy has another one.
01:15 BST

Thursday, 26 August 2004

I hear the voices...of AM radio ads

Listening to an American radio station again after all this time is pretty surreal. I still haven't forgotten how annoying the ads can be, but after a break of nearly 20 years, it does seem to be a bit of an alien language. Of course, the fact that I'm only hearing one station's ads means it's difficult to get context, but you usually work the patterns out after a while.

Still, even knowing how disastrous American medicine has become didn't prepare me for hearing an ad for a cold medicine advertised in terms of it having the lowest co-pay of any preparation of its type.

That's the kind of thing that makes you wonder how many of your associations are too far out of context. Am I the only person who hears "Super-8 Hotels" and immediately visualizes something extra seedy? Or are Super-8 hotels in fact an especially seedy chain in the first place that everyone makes jokes about anyway? Did anyone else hear the ad for the Phaser with stuff like, "has even been made illegal in some states!" and, "guaranteed or your speeding ticket is paid!" and think at first that it must be a gag rather than a real paid spot?

I find the ads for loans especially jarring - they seem to be offering so much and demanding so little that it's hard to imagine they aren't loan sharks. And then there are the baldness cures, the diets, the dating services - this stuff I think of as being stuck in the print ads in a comic book, right by the Charles Atlas and X-Ray Specs stuff. I'm sure this isn't the kind of advertising I remember coming out of my dashboard back in the old days.

But this week they started running an advert for....yes, a vanity publisher!
14:03 BST

All the news in bits

From Cursor: Revisiting a WABC report on NYPD's 24-hours-a-day surveillance, with one supervisor and six cops assigned to each of "56 primary anarchists," WSWS warns of "the danger of violent confrontations sparked by agents provocateurs" at the GOP convention.

For those of you who can't get up early enough to hear the Morning Sedition version of the Swift Boat ad, Bill Scher has been kind enough to post it at LiberalOasis, where he also discusses the impact of the original ad and Kerry's recent smackdown of Bush.

Bill Frist and Hillary Clinton have a joint article on healthcare in The Washington Post. Now, ask yourself, what could it possibly say?

From race to religion: the next deterrent law? A lively openDemocracy exchange between philosopher Julian Baggini and journalist Nick Cohen exposed deep disagreements over the British government's proposal to introduce a law banning religious hate-speech. Now, lawyer Geoffrey Bindman adjudicates the argument. Via Also not found in nature.

An old soul... tells you where you can take the No Child's Behind Left survey, and also has some questions about funding of PEN.

A "bubble-shaped" nebula, a "strange ring galaxy", and the Lagoon Nebula.
03:26 BST

I can't spell it

And I don't know what it means, either, but Tsuredzuregusa seems to be a newish weblog which, among other things, has a post about female bloggers that lists a few you may not know about yet and could check out. There's also a poster that does the numbers. And she'd like comments.
00:54 BST

Wednesday, 25 August 2004

In other news

ACLU executive Director Anthony D. Romero is blogging the Guantanamo hearings.

Pete Sessions has his own little group of attack dogs in his fight against Democrat Martin Frost in Texas.

TalkLeft posts a letter from a Long Beach cop reporting that a woman with marijuana plants in her yard was left alone because she had proper documentation of her status as a registered medical marijuana user.

A change in the laws in Virginia has allowed an innocent man to go free: ARTHUR LEE WHITFIELD has been locked up for 23 years for two rapes committed in 1981. [...] This week he was freed, the state having concluded based on DNA evidence that he is innocent.

Okay, just this one: Jon Stewart, take it away!
23:22 BST

It's Topic A

David Neiwert discovers another shadowy group, AWOL Guardsmen for the Truth: Editor's note: Someone slipped this under the Orcinus newsroom door the other day, if ya know what I mean. Sounds kinda hinky, but hey. If this kind of fact-gathering is good enough for Matt Drudge, it's good enough for me.

Atrios continues his excellent coverage of the Swift Boat Liars at Eschaton, with a bit of Newsnight transcript and a lot of other things. Oh, and this item from The Daily Show, which is apparently the only news show to get right to the point. Nobody said you couldn't be funny and right at the same time - like somebody said once, "The more you know, the more jokes you get."
15:37 BST

At Seeing the Forest

John Emerson notes that, "The Bush team has very deftly redefined the debate over his discredited Swift Boat Liars as a debate about soft money and 527s," and that the villain of the piece is supposed to be George Soros, because he is a rich guy who donates money to liberal groups. For some reason, we're supposed to find this more sinister than Richard Mellon Scaife's deliberate dissemination of lies. Especially since, you know, Soros is a Jew!

Meanwhile, Dave Johnson reminds you of the important thing to remember about everything they say:

O'Neill in Cambodia. This is the guy who has been saying that Kerry is a liar for saying he was in Cambodia and that if Kerry WAS there he should have been courtmarshalled.

So, of course, now they found a tape of O'Neill, from before all of this Kerry smear stuff, saying he was in Cambodia.

But I'm not passing this along to refute the Swift Boat liars. I'm passing this along to remind you of the bigger picture: THEY JUST LIE!

And by "they" he doesn't just mean the Smear Boat Liars. He means all of them.
13:39 BST

Bits and pieces

Photos of Walden Pond

Charles Kuffner takes a closer look at Texas polling figures and, while it's still very solidly red, it's not quite as solidly red as it used to be. Maybe.

If Wishes Were Fishes, I'd Have Fishbones Stuck In My Throat (via)

Skimble has a first-person report on yet another dangerous terrorist who we are lucky enough to have been protected from.

Media groupthink by Robert C. Koehler: Still, this is unprecedented. The war's enthusiasts are losing heart. In May, the Times publicly pulled down its "mission accomplished" banner, owning up to the fact that it had been suckered by Ahmad Chalabi and other Iraqi expatriates with a self-serving war agenda. And Watergate icon Bob Woodward agonized last week, on page 1 of the Post, "I think I was part of the groupthink."

Plants fight back. (via)

Interface Hall of Shame, via Epicycle.

How to become a cartoon, via Amygdala.

The Window Treatment
04:23 BST

Tuesday, 24 August 2004

Stuff to check out

Josh Marshall finds the word: The current debate about these two men's military service has put the spotlight on physical courage. But that really is a side issue in this campaign, if we're talking substance. The real issue isn't physical bravery but moral cowardice. President Bush is an examplar of that quality in spades. And it cuts directly to his failures as president. Forget about thirty years ago, just think about the last three years.

As always, you want to check out Through the Looking Glass, for things like a little explanation of economics in Iraq and what wingnuts forgot about Vietnam.

Greg Greene brings us a story of Zig Zag Zell.

A lot of the musicians I know pay attention to politics, read the papers, and so on. Alice Cooper explains why musicians like him support Bush: Because we're morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal. (via)

Neat photos by Joe Cunningham (via blah3)
22:54 BST


TBogg gets serious:
Stuff that never happened - except that it did.

By their silence more soldiers died: We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped away their memories of us. - VVAW's John F. Kerry

Jerry Bowles at Best of the Blogs:

Behind the sheer political expediency of the Swift Boat veterans campaign lies the genuine and long-simmering rage of a small group of men who have never accepted the unspoken truce of 1975--the foundation of which is nobody's wrong if everybody's right. We all agree that both those who served and those who protested, even those who sought refuge from the draft in Canada, acted honorably and in accordance with the dictates of their consciences.

Men like John O'Neil and Admiral Roy Hoffman and their 47 Ronin not only want to discredit John Kerry and the hundreds of other veterans who served and later turned against an immoral and unwinnable war, they also want to re-write history to "prove" that they were right and all those who opposed the Viet Nam disaster were wrong.

Do we have to go over this again? The war was wrong - it was a stupid idea in every dimension. We shouldn't have been there. We couldn't win. And our government used a stupid rotation policy in the field and then treated our troops like dirt once they returned. Don't try to hang this on the protesters; we've heard the lies about how protesters supposedly "spit at soldiers" who came back from 'Nam, but it never happened. It was the same people who supported the war who chose to turn their backs on our vets when they came home.

This White House is even worse, sending them into the field without sufficient food or protection and stripping them of their benefits even as they do so. They still haven't ditched the lousy rotation policy and now they even charge them plane fare. The open contempt with which this administration treats all past and present members of the military is reason enough to throw the bums out.

John Kerry's voice, once upon a time, was an important one in ending a war that we'd already lost. Whether he'll be a hero again this time we can't yet know, but what we do know is that if today's soldiers are to have a hero, it won't be George Bush.
15:59 BST

The campaign trail

Theresa LePore is designing weird ballots again. (Via I Voted for George)

Bob Herbert's latest on weird goings-on in Florida is meat for Jean at Body and Soul, who says it's not as clear as all that.

Nader back on Virginia ballot: The attorney general's office said today the State Board of Elections must accept petitions submitted by Ralph Nader's presidential campaign. [...] Kilgore is a Republican, and head of the Bush-Cheney re-election team in Virginia.

Kos is hearing rumors about the Plame investigation, and Keyes' poll figures in Illinois are a joke. And, oh, yes, a reminder.

Matt Stoller finds us a little blast from the past (video clip).

David Crosby & Graham Nash campaign for joint presidency.
14:23 BST

Monday, 23 August 2004

Today's historical question

When pictures like this were appearing in the newspapers, how did the Republican Party (and the Dixiecrats who switched over to the GOP around this time) support the Panthers' right to bear arms?
23:12 BST

Ads and liars

Atrios is still doing some important stuff about Bush's bizarre response to the Swift Boat Liars in which he condemns all independent political advertising. Of course, it's not so bizarre if you pay attention to the fact that the only independent organizations that are purveying outright lies of this nature are the ones that support Bush.

But it's also not so bizarre if you remember that Bush and his buddies don't need independent groups as long as they can continue to manipulate the media into being pretty much their own private advertising firm - but one which is not controlled by campaign finance law.

Randi Rhodes has been pointing out today that the Swift Boat Liars had a mere $200K ad-buy - something that got them into very few markets over a short period of time. But the free, extended advertising the news shows have given them is worth millions. Take away the right of independent groups to advertise and all the networks need to do is treat the Swifties as "authors" of their disgusting book and just keep interviewing them on the air - and independent groups are in no position to respond.

Meanwhile, the Bushistas get to keep pretending that there is no distinction between the libelous claims of the SBV's and the non-libelous advertising done by
21:47 BST

In the neighborhood

We gave a party the other night, and I had wondered what would happen when two of my friends and colleagues who hadn't been on good terms for a while ran into each other here. One of them was spurred by the occasion to write a long post integrating a remarkable amount of history and some infuriating current events into her recall of that event.

John McCrory noticed an interesting thing in an NYT article - it says that George Bush "declared war on Iraq." Does anyone remember that?

At Altercation, Eric dispenses with the straw-man version of point about chickenhawks again before going on to the mysterious fact that Republicans are having to support a candidate that they don't like or agree with. Charles Pierce then contributes his own commentary on why the Swift Boat Liars still seem to be in the news despite being thoroughly debunked and discredited. (I will add, however, that Fortunate Son had far more going for it than the Swifties - and the content of that book has never been debunked.)

From The Washington Post, U.S. Uses Secret Evidence In Secrecy Fight With ACLU: The Justice Department is using secret evidence in its ongoing legal battles over secrecy with the American Civil Liberties Union, submitting material to two federal judges that cannot be seen by the public or even the plaintiffs, according to documents released yesterday.

Go read the excellent Suburban Guerilla, especially her letter to the media, and consider throwing a bit of change her way if you've got it - she really needs it right now. (Oh, yeah, and aWol is busted again!)

Also via SG, How to become a libertarian: Step One: Pretend that social costs do not exist.
19:52 BST

That blog contest

I wasn't going to mention this, but seeing as how I misunderstood what GOTV was linking because Alice forgot to put in the link (since fixed), I suppose I ought to clarify: The Washington Post is having a contest.

It's not that I object to being nominated or anything like that, it's more that I don't really care. It's from their marketing department anyway, so you just decide for yourself if you want anything to do with it. And if you do, I'm not going to tell you who to nominate, either. Use your judgment.
18:08 BST

Media watch

No pretty pictures at Gail Online today, but a number of interesting links, like Andy Oram's article on piracy, and Bruce Schneier on Phishing. (Gail also reminds me that Arizona is an important battleground state; if you have the resources, perhaps you'd like to help turn Arizona blue.)

Atrios tells you Who cares: Not the liberal media, that's for sure. A bunch of people are about to take a serious hit to their paychecks, and it's apparently more important to focus on the number of ounces of blood that dripped from Senator Kerry's leg when the shrapnel, which is still making its home there, came to pay him a visit. He also asks for More Like This: A newspaper editor takes the time to fact-check an op-ed published in the paper. Better it was done beforehand, but at least it was done.

Here's an action alert to save PBS: Let PBS know that you're watching its slide from the principles of journalistic integrity that are meant to guide its programming and tell the network that it'll lose you as a supporter if this new conservative slant isn't reversed.

Sam Parry at Consortium News examines the reasons behind the media's inability to behave professionally in Bush-Style Politics, Again (via GOTV).
15:50 BST

Political swirl

Get involved in poll-watching - it's important.

Simbaud's comment on the Swift Boat Liars even rhymes, and he finds an interview with that famous left-wing commie, Lou Dobbs. Plus! You can take a quiz to find out if you are about to lose your overtime pay!

Chris Bowers at MyDD says Free Media Is Far More Influential Than Paid Media, saying the impact of the Swift Boat Liars ad owes its reach to the broadcast media who have provided it all the free attention. He suggests that ads that go to Bush's "personal drama" might get the same kind of free legs.

Lambert asks if your hair is on fire yet, in Election 2004: Datapoints for the coming trainwreck.

Light up the Sky.
12:44 BST

Fairly unbalanced media and other stories

I really ought to check out Maru's WTF Is It Now? more often but I tend to get Information Superhighway Hypnosis, and you know how that can go....

Anyway, there's a buncha links there that I was too busy to blog myself this weekend, so you can check them out there. I was also interested in the news that the Republicans are really disappointed in Chris Matthews for failing to roll over for their latest round of absurdities. There was also the Tony Blair trying to avoid looking like even more of a poodle story that I didn't get round to.

Republican morality appears to have made a real impression at DEDspace.

The Slacktivist is disturbed that Bush has (he claims) been reading the same thin devotional book for three years, and recommends progressing to some meatier stuff.

Nifty light illusions. Via Elayne Riggs.

At Pacific Views Natasha has two posts on the fabulousness of the modern media, and it's not just WorldNetDaily that has flakey ideas. And, of course, Michelle Malkin is taking advantage of the worst of them.

A drug I could use. (Thanks to D. Potter for the tip.)
00:49 BST

Sunday, 22 August 2004

The inevitable crawl

I've been kinda busy this weekend, but I've been checking in briefly here and there to see what's going on, and Atrios has been pretty hot. His posts on the culpability of liberal hawks on the issue of the war should be read and digested thoroughly. Like he says, this is still going on. He's also absolutely right that it is outrageous for the media, the Republicans, and members of the Democratic leadership to pretend that there is any equivalence between the Swift-Boat Liars and

Josh Marshall examines two Kerry campaign ads that respond to the Swift Boat Liar's smears (with links to the ads so you can see them for yourself).

Here's What's Left has some colliding RNC talking points.

At The Left Coaster, there is a sighting of "the foil fedora" in GI, Robot, where bringing troops home is read in the worst possible paranoid light.

I'm too lazy to go through my pages looking for old posts about jobs, unions, and other means to create a culture of shared interest in rebuilding Iraq for Iraqis (that would have forestalled the building of a community of interest in just getting rid of Americans), but Steve Clemons visited that same subject recently and you may find therein a few other insights, besides.

At Long Story, Short Pier, an inspired journey into The Virgin Ben's Reading List for an understanding of where the gentlemen went.

And Via LS, SP, this little thing.

And via Ampersand - gosh, I had no idea how many electoral vote prediction maps there were out there. But they all seem to be pointing to Kerry. I particularly like this one.
22:13 BST

Saturday, 21 August 2004

Around the block

'Just so you know, we don't much like dick, either.

Last night before I went to bed I was happy to see that Atrios said the Bush campaign had been busted over the Swift Boat Liars - they can claim all they want to that the campaign has nothing to do with them, but it's clear that they do. Boy, are they busted. And here's more debunking by David Corn at The Nation. (Note to Josh Marshall: The word you are looking for is "coward".)

New stuff for the cops to use against demonstrators: 150-decibel device allows N.Y. police to be heard loud and clear.

Alice seems to be having a contest: Nominate your favorite blog for Best blogs on politics and elections.

Tom Hayden says Dissent must come alive in New York. Protest, even more than property, is a sacred resource of American society.

Ralph Nader responds to criticism in this morning's Washington Past. Also in the letters, a reader wonders whether the election results will be credible.

Swift Buck Apostles
15:41 BST

Friday, 20 August 2004

The campaign trail

Monkey Media Report returns to the subject of our favorite endorsement of a presidential candidate. Here's a quote I liked:

It's reasonable to expect that anything working to ratchet down the medieval "Christian vs. Muslim" rhetoric will also serve to ratchet down the number of Al Qaeda recruits, which (it's again reasonable to expect) will keep the USA safer. Therefore, it couldn't be more obvious that another Bush term is high on Osama's list of priorities. Our aggressive neocon White House crew - who, remember, preemptively invaded a country without making any serious post-war plans - have just handed Islamist terrorists yet another failed state in which to set up shop. Why on earth would terrorists now prefer Kerry when Cheney and his pals have been so good to them?
As you'll recall, we concur.
23:19 BST

The freak flood

As some of you may be aware, a flash storm in the West Country town of Boscastle has devastated a town that has stood for hundreds of years without any such disaster ever affecting it before. (This page has an aerial photograph. And here is a photopage.)

That was Monday, but what I didn't know until it was mentioned to me last night is that Boscastle is the home of the country's only Museum of Witchcraft, and it's also rather a mess right now. Although only one internal wall has fallen, the contents are pretty much what you'd expect and restoration prospects are unknown. There are photographs on their front page with updates.

And while I was looking for a link for the original story, I found that someone else had already said all this on her blog, and so, of course, had Feorag, which I should have known already. (Sorry, it's been a busy week.)
20:30 BST

So much for free speech

After John McCain called on Bush to condemn the Swift Vote Liar ad, the White House looked for a way to change the subject. Atrios quoted Scott McClellan:

We've called on Senator Kerry to join us and call for an end to all of this unregulated soft money activity.
Then this morning Atrios said:
Elizabeth Dole just told us once again that this is Bush's position. Can some reporter please get to the bottom of this? Does Bush want them to be illegal? Has he embraced a new campaign finance law position?
Now, all this sounds pretty sperm-of-the-moment, like something they'll just say until the issue goes away, until you read this morning's Washington Post and find Thomas Edsall reporting this:
FEC Votes to Curb Nonparty Donations
Stricter Rules Will Go Into Effect in January

The Federal Election Commission yesterday adopted new regulations that will make it significantly more difficult for independent political groups to continue to raise and spend millions of dollars in contributions after the 2004 election.

The new rules become effective Jan. 1 and will not limit this year's explosion of spending by nonparty groups such as America Coming Together and the Media Fund, which are closely aligned with the Democrats, and Progress for America on the Republican side.
If these rules had been in effect for the current election cycle, they probably would have crippled such groups as ACT and the Media Fund, both of which got off the ground with multimillion-dollar donations from wealthy liberals determined to defeat Bush.

We've talked about this before, kiddies. Those ads are pretty much all there is for Democrats and liberals, because the broadcast media is owned by Republicans and leans increasingly to the right, PBS is increasingly becoming right-wing, and while there are right-wing cable networks like Fox and now it's imitator CNN, there are no equivalent liberal networks to speak of. Air America is making inroads on AM radio but still has nothing like the saturation of right-wing talk radio. A president can control the news cycle to a certain extent, but if the press is out to get you (which they seem remarkably more prone to when the president is a Democrat), that just gives them more excuses to promote the RNC's spin against that president.

In other words, most of these rules are being tweaked, it seems, to try to keep the advantage with those in power and out of the hands of the rest of us.
16:43 BST

Enemies list

In case you missed this one yesterday...

Senator? Terrorist? A Watch List Stops Kennedy at Airport

The meeting had all the hallmarks of an ordinary Congressional hearing. There was Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, discussing the problems faced by ordinary citizens mistakenly placed on terrorist watch lists. Then, to the astonishment of the crowd attending a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Mr. Kennedy offered himself up as Exhibit A.

Between March 1 and April 6, airline agents tried to block Mr. Kennedy from boarding airplanes on five occasions because his name resembled an alias used by a suspected terrorist who had been barred from flying on airlines in the United States, his aides and government officials said.

Instead of acknowledging the craggy-faced, silver-haired septuagenarian as the Congressional leader whose face has flashed across the nation's television sets for decades, the airline agents acted as if they had stumbled across a fanatic who might blow up an American airplane. Mr. Kennedy said they refused to give him his ticket.

"He said, 'We can't give it to you'," Mr. Kennedy said, describing an encounter with an airline agent to the rapt audience. " 'You can't buy a ticket to go on the airline to Boston.' I said, 'Well, why not?' He said, 'We can't tell you.' "

"Tried to get on a plane back to Washington," Mr. Kennedy continued. "'You can't get on the plane.' I went up to the desk and said, 'I've been getting on this plane, you know, for 42 years. Why can't I get on the plane?'"

The hearing room erupted in laughter.
In Mr. Kennedy's case, airline supervisors ultimately overruled the ticket agents in each instance and allowed him to board the plane. But it took several weeks for the Department of Homeland Security to clear the matter up altogether, the senator's aides said.

That's for one of the best known men in the US Senate - and he could go directly to Tom Ridge.

Meanwhile, I'll be interested to learn all about the terrorist named Edward Kennedy for whom the Senator was "mistaken", if he in fact actually exists. We've already noted previous cases of this nature with lesser-known victims who were not mistaken for anyone else, but in fact had been placed on the no-fly list because they had engaged in such terrorist activities as organizing peace campaigns or having once worked for Ralph Nader. It's the sort of thing that makes you wonder if any of this is actually happening by accident.
15:35 BST

Cooking the vote

At A Brooklyn Bride, Glen refers us to the perfection of voting machines as detailed by Bruce Garrett.

In case you haven't met him, Bruce designs and codes software for the Space Telescope Science Institute. The STSI manages Hubble for NASA. Yet he advocates a full return to paper ballots:
Let's hear it for paper trails. No...wait...let's hear it for paper ballots. I'm serious. A couple years ago a good friend of mine who is a lawyer and I were discussing all the various ways our respective trades can fail the people they are supposed to be helping. He observed at one point in the discussion that we were both good examples of how the closer you are to a system, the more afraid you are of it. I earn my living designing and coding software. I have earned my living doing this for two decades now. Listen to me: there should never be software anywhere in the path between the person who casts a vote and the people who tally all the votes. Anywhere. Anywhere. Did you get that? Anywhere. [Emphasis in the original.]
In comments, Bryan writes:
I can write the software in an afternoon that will record choices made by touchscreen, add them to a database, and print out a ballot. That part is easy, because the task is simply a matter of assembling bits I have already written over the years.

The problem is protecting that system from tampering. The same system that makes it easy to create the code, also makes it easy to mess with the code. Look at the history of the Windows operating system and Internet attacks.

If the concern is helping the disabled vote, write a program that prints out a ballot for them, but count the ballot, not the invisible database in the computer.

And Scorpio (of Eccentricity) seconds Bruce's evaluation. You all know this is what I have been saying all along: Use the machines to print the ballots, not to count them.

And in this morning's NYT, Bob Herbert has more on voter intimidation in Florida.
13:55 BST

Pacific Views

Southern Lights

Conveniently, I decided to check Pacific Views first tonight and found out Mary is about to be on Majority Report on Air America. While I wait, I find a huge raft of links to all sorts of stuff, like those neat orbital aurora event pictures.
00:20 BST

Thursday, 19 August 2004

Chain links

Sometimes I just start by following one link I found in the referrers and then wandering from there to another page and another following links on each page. During my little adventure this afternoon, I found:

More Bushisms: "As you know, we don't have relationships with Iran," Bush said. "I mean, that's -- ever since the late '70s, we have no contacts with them, and we've totally sanctioned them. In other words, there's no sanctions -- you can't -- we're out of sanctions."

Good stuff at Rox Populi, and check out this analysis of how your tax dollars are being used to make sure our military only gets their news from Fox.

The General is being monitored - are you??

A bumper sticker
17:30 BST

Where did they come from?

This is a map of the home locations of those Americans who have died in Iraq.
17:04 BST

The UK's biggest hypocrite

I suspect that someone in the Labour Party must have outed David Blunkett in an effort to get rid of him, but I always feel there is justice when a public prig is hoist on his own petard. If you're going to be telling the rest of us to be chaste, you'd bloody well better be chaste yourself.

Anyway, there's a rather good article in the Edinburgh Evening News:

Hypocrisy makes this public's affair

HOW refreshing to see someone take a stand and decide not to tell the whole world about the new love of their life. Despite no shortage of offers, Home Secretary David Blunkett has taken the principled decision that, for once, privacy should come first.

After his relationship with a married woman was revealed, he told reporters: "After my divorce, I decided not to talk again about my subsequent private life. I have stuck to that principle over the years . . . and defended all politicians' right to a degree of privacy."

Can this really be the same David Blunkett who wants compulsory ID cards, government access to our phone and computer records, and our cars electronically tagged?

His principled stance may come as a surprise to the campaign group Privacy International, which was formed to resist the growing interference by governments and big companies in our lives.

Just last month, in its annual "Big Brother" awards to recognise the worst offenders, Privacy International announced it had renamed one category the David Blunkett Lifetime Menace award, in recognition of the number of times he has been nominated.

So, why doesn't he think the rest of us deserve any privacy?
16:36 BST

Choose life

From David Eliot at Abolish the Death Penalty: Ryan Matthews became the 115th person to be released from death row due to actual innocence this week. He is from Louisiana. Interestingly, while researching his case for a press release, I found that he is the THIRD African American juvenile to be wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. Think about that. Of the 115 people we now know to be innocent, three of them were put on trial when they were 16 or 17 years old by Louisiana prosecutors. And all three were black. You think they've got a problem down there?

David also has some remarks on the so-called "closure" that victims' families are supposed to get from seeing the culprit executed.

Carrie at The Lonely Abolitionist has a story on the cost of a single death penalty prosecution: The State has spent approximately $1.5 million on Mateo's death sentence.

Carrie also reports on re-evaluation of possible sentences in Texas: This fall, the legislature will consider altering the criminal justice system in Texas to give juries the option of life without possibility of parole along with the option of death in capital cases. Right now, juries can choose death or life with possibility of parole in 40 years. Most people who support the death penalty say they would prefer life without parole if it were an option - which may have made a significant difference in this case, where the jury received instructions that misled them into believing that parole was available when it was not.
15:41 BST


Jeralyn at TalkLeft on an angry man: Michael McAllister walks out of prison in Virginia Wednesday after serving 18 years for an attempted rape that the detective and prosecutor in his case later said he probably didn't commit.

MadKane will be part of the NY blogger bunch for the GOPcon (or maybe we should just call it ConCon), and has written a song for the occasion.

The Electoral Vote Predictor is now showing Colorado as tied, 47-47.

Book review by Al Gore: 'Boiling Point': Who's to Blame for Global Warming? (Via Amygdala.)

Ken MacLeod and People talking politics in a bar: It's recently struck me that the moderate, liberal, democratic and humane response to the build-up to the Iraq war should have been to argue for the West to arm Iraq. It's not merely the case that invading Iraq was a distraction from fighting Al-Qaeda: it was objectively fighting on the same side as Al-Qaeda. If you're serious about fighting Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, the last thing you'd want to do, on the face of it, is overthrow - or even weaken - one of the few regimes in the region that was capable of and interested in crushing them within its borders. But that's what the US and UK did. The conclusion must be that they have other priorities that come higher than fighting Al-Qaeda.

Hugo Chavez playing card (Via Damfacrats.)

Photo: Sunset lightning.
12:54 BST

Wednesday, 18 August 2004

Bush's Brain

Bush's Brain, the movie based on James C. Moore and Wayne Slater's book Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, won't really surprise most political junkies, but nevertheless fills in a lot of interesting detail, and gives you a larger sense of Rove's pattern of dishonesty in aid of winning.

I hadn't realized that pattern went all the way back to his college days, when he ran for the head of the College Republicans. That appears to be his first use of the tactics he used in 2000 to make sure the apparent winner never got to take office.

So even fellow Republicans aren't necessarily crazy about Rove and his nasty habits, and several of them turn up as talking heads in this film.

The movie goes to theaters on the 27th, but the DVD is on sale now from their website - makes a great gift!

And while I'm on the subject, Nick Confessore suggests at Tapped that maybe Rove's game plan isn't working out so well this time around. Why, it's almost like people have started to notice....
17:23 BST

Your political world

Well, here's a surprise: When Sequoia Voting Systems demonstrated its new paper-trail electronic voting system for state Senate staffers in California last week, the company representative got a surprise when the paper trail failed to record votes that testers cast on the machine. Oh, wait, that's not a surprise; I've been harping on this all year.

Travis at Rainstorm has a round-up of recent articles on the polls that point to a possible Kerry Landslide.

FAIR on Covering the "Caged Hamster": Media's picture of Kerry based on RNC distortions. (Via Boiled Meat.)

Your guide to terror alert color codes.
14:35 BST

Essential knowledge

The legendary Philip Agre says we need to answer two simple questions: What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? When Agre writes one of these long, thoughtful articles, you just have to read them; this is high-level truth-speaking.

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:
Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves "conservatives" have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States.
Conservatism promotes (and so does liberalism, misguidedly) the idea that liberalism is about activist government where conservatism is not. This is absurd. It is unrelated to the history of conservative government. Conservatism promotes activist government that acts in the interests of the aristocracy. This has been true for thousands of years. What is distinctive about liberalism is not that it promotes activist government but that it promotes government that acts in the interests of the majority. Democratic government, however, is not simply majoritarian. It is, rather, one institutional expression of a democratic type of culture that is still very much in the process of being invented.

Conservative social orders have often described themselves as civilized, and so one reads in the Wall Street Journal that "the enemies of civilization hate bow ties". But what conservatism calls civilization is little but the domination of an aristocracy. Every aspect of social life is subordinated to this goal. That is not civilization.

The reality is quite the opposite. To impose its order on society, conservatism must destroy civilization. In particular conservatism must destroy conscience, democracy, reason, and language.

Liberalism is a movement of conscience. Liberals speak endlessly of conscience. Yet conservative rhetors have taken to acting as if they owned the language of conscience. They even routinely assert that liberals disparage conscience. The magnitude of the falsehood here is so great that decent people have been set back on their heels.
Another example of conservative twisting of the language of conscience is the argument, in the context of the attacks of 9/11 and the war in Iraq, that holding our side to things like the Geneva Convention implies an equivalence between ourselves and our enemies. This is a logical fallacy. The fallacy is something like: they kill so they are bad, but we are good so it is okay for us to kill. The argument that everything we do is okay so long as it is not as bad as the most extreme evil in the world is a rejection of nearly all of civilization. It is precisely the destruction of conscience.

Or take the notion of "political correctness". It is true that movements of conscience have piled demands onto people faster than the culture can absorb them. That is an unfortunate side-effect of social progress. Conservatism, however, twists language to make the inconvenience of conscience sound like a kind of oppression. The campaign against political correctness is thus a search-and-destroy campaign against all vestiges of conscience in society. The flamboyant nastiness of rhetors such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter represents the destruction of conscience as a type of liberation. They are like cultists, continually egging on their audiences to destroy their own minds by punching through one layer after another of their consciences.

Conservatism continually twists the language of conscience into its opposite. It has no choice: conservatism is unjust, and cannot survive except by pretending to be the opposite of what it is.
Many of these messages have become institutions. Whole organizations exist to provide a pipeline of "facts" that underwrite the message of "liberal media bias". These "facts" fall into numerous categories and exemplify a wide range of fallacies. Some are just factually untrue, e.g., claims that the New York Times has failed to cover an event that it actually covered in detail. Other claimed examples of bias are non sequiturs, e.g., quotations from liberal columns that appear on the opinion pages, or quotations from liberals in news articles that also provided balancing quotes from conservatives. Others are illogical, e.g., media that report news events that represent bad news for the president. The methods of identifying "bias" are thus highly elastic. In practice, everything in the media on political topics that diverges from conservative public relations messages is contended to be an example of "liberal bias". The goal, clearly, is to purge the media of everything except conservatism.

The word "inaccurate" has become something of a technical term in the political use of public relations. It means "differs from our message".
Conservative strategists construct their messages in a variety of more or less stereotyped ways. One of the most important patterns of conservative message-making is projection. Projection is a psychological notion; it roughly means attacking someone by falsely claiming that they are attacking you. Conservative strategists engage in projection constantly. An commonplace example would be taking something from someone by claiming that they are in fact taking it from you. Or, having heard a careful and detailed refutation of something he has said, the projector might snap, "you should not dismiss what I have said so quickly!". It is a false claim -- what he said was not dismissed -- that is an example of itself -- he is dismissing what his opponent has said.

Projection was an important part of the Florida election controversy, for example when Republicans tried to get illegal ballots counted and prevent legal ballots from being counted, while claiming that Democrats were trying to steal the election.
A simple example of turning language into a weapon might be the word "predictable", which has become a synonym for "liberal". There is no rational argument in this usage. Every such use of "predictable" can be refuted simply by substituting the word "consistent". It is simply invective.

More importantly, conservative rhetors have been systematically mapping the language that has historically been used to describe the aristocracy and the traditional authorities that serve it, and have twisted those words into terms for liberals. This tactic has the dual advantage of both attacking the aristocracies' opponents and depriving them of the words that they have used to attack aristocracy.

A simple example is the term "race-baiting". In the Nexis database, uses of "race-baiting" undergo a sudden switch in the early 1990's. Before then, "race-baiting" referred to racists. Afterward, it referred in twisted way to people who oppose racism. What happened is simple: conservative rhetors, tired of the political advantage that liberals had been getting from their use of that word, took it away from them.
A recent example is the word "hate". The civil rights movement had used the word "hate" to refer to terrorism and stereotyping against black people, and during the 1990's some in the press had identified as "Clinton-haters" people who had made vast numbers of bizarre claims that the Clintons had participated in murder and drug-dealing. Beginning around 2003, conservative rhetors took control of this word as well by labeling a variety of perfectly ordinary types of democratic opposition to George Bush as "hate". In addition, they have constructed a large number of messages of the form "liberals hate X" (e.g., X=America) and established within their media apparatus a sophistical pipeline of "facts" to support each one. This is also an example of the systematic breaking of associations.

The word "partisan" entered into its current political circulation in the early 1990's when some liberals identified people like Newt Gingrich as "partisan" for doing things like the memo on language that I mentioned earlier. To the conservative way of politics, there is nothing either true or false about the liberal claim. It is simply that liberals had taken control of some rhetorical territory: the word "partisan". Conservative rhetors then set about taking control of the word themselves. They did this in a way that has become mechanical. They first claimed, falsely, that liberals were identifying as "partisan" any views other than their own. They thus inflated the word while projecting this inflation onto the liberals and disconnecting the word from the particular facts that the liberals had associated with it. Next, they started using the word "partisan" in the inflated, dishonest way that they had ascribed to their opponents. This is, very importantly, a way of attacking people simply for having a different opinion. In twisting language this way, conservatives tell themselves that they are simply turning liberal unfairness back against the liberals. This too is projection.
It is often claimed in the media that snooty elitists on the coasts refer to states in the middle of the country as "flyover country". Yet I, who have lived in liberal areas of the coasts for most of my life, have never once heard this usage. In fact, as far as I can tell, the Nexis database does not contain a single example of anyone using the phrase "flyover country" to disparage the non-coastal areas of the United States. Instead, it contains hundreds of examples of people disparaging residents of the coasts by claiming that they use the phrase to describe the interior. The phrase is a special favorite of newspapers in Minneapolis and Denver. This is projection. Likewise, I have never heard the phrase "political correctness" used except to disparage the people who supposedly use it.
Conservative remapping of the language of aristocracy and democracy has been incredibly thorough. Consider, for example, the terms "entitlement" and "dependency". The term "entitlement" originally referred to aristocrats. Aristocrats had titles, and they thought that they were thereby entitled to various things, particularly the deference of the common people. Everyone else, by contrast, was dependent on the aristocrats. This is conservatism. Yet in the 1990's, conservative rhetors decided that the people who actually claim entitlement are people on welfare. They furthermore created an empirically false association between welfare and dependency. But, as I have mentioned, welfare is precisely a way of eliminating dependency on the aristocracy and the cultural authorities that serve it. I do not recall anyone ever noting this inversion of meaning.

Just for the record, I've had an article on just this subject percolating at the back of my mind for the last few weeks. I'm not sure when, exactly, I first heard the word "entitlement" used in association with welfare and Social Security, but I do remember being startled by the usage. Throughout my life, I had heard the word used only to refer to those who appeared to believe they were better than the rest of us, usually wealthy people who were said to have "a sense of entitlement". This was always derogatory, and clearly indicated people who expected, but clearly were not entitled to, more than the rest of us. George W. Bush is precisely the sort of person to whom this word would traditionally have been applied.

It is aggravating to see it applied instead not merely to welfare but even to SS, a program to which recipients are entitled for the simple reason that they have paid for it throughout their working lives. As the example of Enron has showed us, the sense that the deals you have made by paying for them do not "entitle" you to anything has extended even to your privately agreed pensions. Increasingly, this is even true of obedience by your employer to labor laws (including payment of your hourly wage for the hours you've actually worked at their behest), to the obligations of your medical insurer to approve medical treatment in a timely fashion, and an ever-widening array of things you would not have agreed or contributed to had you known that your return would not be provided when it came time to collect.

Conversely, conservatives appear to believe that they are still entitled to your work, even if they do not recompense you, and that they are still entitled to your money, even if they don't give you anything for it. Much in the same way that they insist they are entitled to your respect and deference even when they have fallen well short of earning them from you.

I've only pulled some quotes out of the first half of this article, but for goodness sake read the rest.

(Via Electrolite Sidelights.)
12:12 BST

Changing places

Ordinarily it's David Neiwert who writes the long pieces about hate, but this time it's Gary Farber. On the other hand....

About once a week I say to someone that I miss MWO. David Neiwert feels the same way, and tries to fill in after some classic media whoring by Anne Kornblut of The Boston Globe about the Swift Boat Liars.
01:12 BST

Tuesday, 17 August 2004

At Altercation

Eric Alterman has decided that a subscription-only article in The Nation by Todd Gitlin and John Passacantando should be read by all of us, so he has posted No Bush, No Chicago '68 at Altercation. I have to admit, I'm worried about another Chicago, too. Some people say it's different because that was a Democratic convention and this is the RNC, but I don't think so; the perception will be that the same people are the "trouble-makers".

Eric also recommends this E.J. Dionne article purporting to advise Kerry to fight back with simple language, but I actually don't think Dionne's version makes it that simple, either. Kerry gave a fairly short and simple (20-word) answer to the question of whether he was against the way Bush had run the war, and the Bushistas cut up both the question and the answer so that Kerry appeared to be answering the question, "Are you an anti-war candidate?" with "Yes, I am."

Eric's new "Think Again" column is called The Narrative vs. The Truth, about, "the media's misplaying of the military strength argument, of course, to the benefit of conservative Republicans."

I thought I'd already linked the Safety Second ad from its source, but Eric has the link to the NYT page. It charts the far better ways the cost of the Iraq war could have been spent to protect America. (And now I can't find the source link.)

Go read the letter from Brian Thomas to find out what Ursula LeGuin said when he asked her, "Do you want George Bush out of the White House?"

Eric also made some nice points in Monday's post about the poisonous nature of the attacks on ACT and Soros, and on the market value of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.
22:30 BST

Some New York Times stuff

It occurs to me that there still seem to be some people who don't know about the NYT Link Generator. This is a nifty thing that supplies a permanent archive link that will always take you to the full article, even after it has expired. So, if, for example, you want to link the latest Paul Krugman article, Saving the Vote, but you want to make sure that even people who only read your page once every couple of months will be able to get straight to it, you go to the link generator and get the blog-friendly link to the same page. (Of course, since this is Paul Krugman, you could do your readers who are still on dial-up a favor by going to the unofficial Paul Krugman archive's Columns list, find the article, and use the nice clean low-bandwidth link.)

Your readers will, of course, want to read this article, in which Krugman goes over some of the reasons why the results of the coming election may be suspect, and what safeguards we still have time to implement.

In other NYT news, the Unfiltered "Talking Point" of the day:

Government rules say a contractor can't get the last 15 percent of its payments until it accounts for its costs. In the case of Halliburton, though, the rules apparently don't apply! Buried on page ten of the New York Times today is the news that Halliburton has received not one, not two, but THREE extensions from the Army, which is giving them all the time they need to explain how they're spending eight billion dollars of US taxpayer money in Iraq.
I couldn't find the story linked on the front page but a search found it here.
17:16 BST

News and views

Diane at Nobody Knows Anything suspects that the interesting idea that the Bush administration has been free of scandals is suddenly appearing (in more than one place) because it's one of those RNC talking points.

At Body and Soul, Jeanne wants Kerry to stop kowtowing to right-wing Catholic groups and spend more time addressing the real moral issue.

On Sunday, Atrios created his own "nuclear ad" for the Kerry campaign. So Digby has joined in with an ad of his own. I love them; both of these would blow the Swift Vote Liars back into pre-history.

In The American Prospect, Matthew Yglesias says: Three years of watching Bush makes the point: Intelligence matters more than "character." I agree, but I would also like to say that character matters more than "character".

Mrs. Atrios recommends Liberal, Liberal, Liberal by Paul Waldman at the Gadflyer, looking at Kerry's so-called "most liberal Senator" ranking and what it's supposed to mean.

More reasons to hate the War on Terra: NHS patients will need three cards.

A neat cloud picture, and another one, and some patriotic soft porn.
13:36 BST

Osama's campaign notes

Here's a story that will make you blanch, at the very least: Inside Al-Qaeda's Hard Drive. Alan Cullison's computer was destroyed while he was in Afghanistan covering the war for The Wall Street Journal in autumn of 2001. So he made arrangements to get his hands on some used hardware, and found himself the owner of a bunch of Al Qaeda data:

Perhaps one of the most important insights to emerge from the computer is that 9/11 sprang not so much from al-Qaeda's strengths as from its weaknesses. The computer did not reveal any links to Iraq or any other deep-pocketed government; amid the group's penury the members fell to bitter infighting. The blow against the United States was meant to put an end to the internal rivalries, which are manifest in vitriolic memos between Kabul and cells abroad. Al-Qaeda's leaders worried about a military response from the United States, but in such a response they spied opportunity: they had fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and they fondly remembered that war as a galvanizing experience, an event that roused the indifferent of the Arab world to fight and win against a technologically superior Western infidel. The jihadis expected the United States, like the Soviet Union, to be a clumsy opponent. Afghanistan would again become a slowly filling graveyard for the imperial ambitions of a superpower.

Like the early Russian anarchists who wrote some of the most persuasive tracts on the uses of terror, al-Qaeda understood that its attacks would not lead to a quick collapse of the great powers. Rather, its aim was to tempt the powers to strike back in a way that would create sympathy for the terrorists. Al-Qaeda has so far gained little from the ground war in Afghanistan; the conflict in Iraq, closer to the center of the Arab world, is potentially more fruitful. As Arab resentment against the United States spreads, al-Qaeda may look less like a tightly knit terror group and more like a mass movement. And as the group develops synergy in working with other groups branded by the United States as enemies (in Iraq, the Israeli-occupied territories, Kashmir, the Mindanao Peninsula, and Chechnya, to name a few places), one wonders if the United States is indeed playing the role written for it on the computer.

They must think George Bush is a gift to them from Allah.
01:33 BST

In the eye

No relation

I'm having a photo-mood. So here's a picture of the other Avedon, and here is a picture of water.
00:36 BST

Monday, 16 August 2004

More interesting stuff

Check out MyDD and recent posts by Chris Bowers. In addition to reporting that Chevez beat the recall in Venezuela, he also asks, "What Decade Are We Living In? citing two articles from the NYT.

The first, by Bob Herbert, says African-American Voting Activists Intimidated in the South:

State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.(...)

Not surprisingly, many of the elderly black voters who found themselves face to face with state police officers in Orlando are members of the Orlando League of Voters, which has been very successful in mobilizing the city's black vote.

The president of the Orlando League of Voters is Ezzie Thomas, who is 73 years old. With his demonstrated ability to deliver the black vote in Orlando, Mr. Thomas is a tempting target for supporters of George W. Bush in a state in which the black vote may well spell the difference between victory and defeat.

And the second, F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers, says:
F.B.I. officials are urging agents to canvass their communities for information about planned disruptions aimed at the convention and other coming political events, and they say they have developed a list of people who they think may have information about possible violence. They say the inquiries, which began last month before the Democratic convention in Boston, are focused solely on possible crimes, not on dissent, at major political events.
For those of us who've been here before, it's pretty scary stuff.

At The Washington Note, Steve Clemons is talking about root causes - as in "how and why a group of highly educated, middle class mostly Saudis would be willing to sacrifice their lives and inflict such horrific damage on America" - in Who are the real Neocons?

And Kos compares the scheduled speakers at the Republican convention with those who spoke to the DNC.
20:58 BST

Recommended reading

Via Mapleberry Blog

The Narcosphere is tracking the Venezuelan election.

News Hounds watched a Fox discussion panel on outsourcing and healthcare that actually had someone on it (Bob Beckel) who isn't to the right of center. Everyone else pretty much took for granted that outsourcing is here to stay and nothing can or should be done about healthcare.

Mark Evanier's political rant for last Wednesday was about the Swift Boat Veterans and, specifically, what sort of position it puts John McCain in. Mark says, "He always seemed like a Republican that Democrats could support. I am now less inclined to believe that and I'll bet I'm not the only person who feels that way." Mark is probably right about his feeling, but when it comes to looking at the man as a candidate, I think it's time people thought a little more clearly about the distinction between respecting the fact that he's not a maniac or a thief (like the rest of GOP leadership) and remembering that Democrats have a tendency to look at candidate's position on the issues. And on the issues, there really isn't all that much reason to support McCain. He is better than anyone else the Republicans might nominate, but he's not better than anyone the Democrats are going to nominate. (Sure, he's better than Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman, but we're not going to nominate them.)

The Mighty Reason Man has written a letter to Kerry's campaign staff and a follow-up post regarding the fact that they don't seem to have good surrogates out there countering the RNC spin. And he's really, really right about that. There's only one way to deal with this: every lie, distortion, and false charge needs to be crushed, immediately and irrefutably, to the point where journalists will be mocked for repeating them.

James at The Left End of the Dial has Slaughterhouse Five in hand and provides us with a little Bokononist sermon on the way to recommending Steve Gilliard's Attack of the Chickenhawks.
12:13 BST

Sunday, 15 August 2004

Evening catch

In The Village Voice, The Church of Bush looks at the people who still love him, because they believe many strange things. "It's like a scene from a John Waters movie."

Melanie of Just a Bump in the Beltway has another appalling story of the Department of Homeland Security wasting time making life miserable for people who have nothing to do with terrorism.

Another weblog I found in my referrers: Stumax

A cool picture of Mt. Fuji

I noticed recently someone asking about where to find the splitscreen footage from 9/11, so I dug up Symbolman's 9/11 Flash movie, which provides both the timeline and the splitscreen clips, for anyone who was looking for it.
21:28 BST


Some good stuff at Scrutiny Hooligans, like this little bit of history on the drug war. As I've said before, there is a relationship between the criminalization of pot and the disenfranchisement of "undesired" groups, and it's not an accident. (I've added a bit of additional history in the comments, just for fun.)

SH also points to a post at Living in Latin America called The Left in Puerto Rican Politics that goes like this:

A national health plan, massive public works, and increased welfare and food-stamp benefits. It sounds like the platform of the infamous Latin American leftist party, right? The platform belongs to the Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) which, believe it or not, is the most conservative of Puerto Rico's three main political parties. Puerto Rico is a rightist's worst nightmare; not one single center-right wing candidate is running for Governor.
Michael reminds us that the new line of MoveOn ads is up, featuring people who voted for Bush last time but absolutely not this time. The winner is a marine talking about how looking for non-existent WMD was a waste of his time, but I think I like a few of the others at least as much. Check them all out - and make a donation if you can, to get them on the air.

Jeralyn at TalkLeft says that John Walker Lindh is asking for a sentence review, and she says his lawyers are right: His sentence should be revisited. It was imposed at a time when emotional reaction to 9/11 were at a peak. Cooler heads should prevail now, and determine a sentence that reflects Lindh's actual criminal conduct, his ability to be rehabilitated, and the need to deter others. 20 years is excessive. (I agree, unsurprisingly.) Also, she finds an infuriating article on our prison policy and the Born-Again Drug War of George W. Bush. Jeralyn will be blogging the RNC, by the way. This is likely to be a different experience from the DNC for our bloggers, so I expect they will need extra support.
17:54 BST

What the papers say

I was looking at the letters in the paper yesterday and I saw references to an article I'd missed: Ire to the Chief by Gary Alan Fine. Well, I had to read that. Clinton had been in office for less than a year when the "everyone hates Clinton" articles started. This guy seems to think it's all personal, though:

My argument was that presidential hatred developed not from actions the president took while in office but from images of the president as a young adult. The president represented critical cultural divisions of a previous generation, divisions that were never fully healed. I suggested that Richard Nixon was hated not because of Watergate but because of his role on the House Un-American Activities Committee in the conviction of Alger Hiss in the late 1940s. Many liberals never forgave Nixon for what they perceived as his witch-hunting and McCarthyism. For Bill Clinton, it was his "radical, hippie" past that produced ire, long before Monica Lewinsky reached public attention. He represented for traditional Americans everything that was wrong with the '60s: How could a draft-dodging, drug-smoking, war-protesting, free-loving radical be commander in chief?

It was not political ideology. Nixon opened the doors to Red China, started Head Start, and increased the size and scope of the federal government. Clinton reformed welfare, created a balanced budget and oversaw Treasury policies friendly to corporate growth.

The author of this piece seems to think Nixon's policies were atomized, not part of a pattern in a long career. HUAC would have been a good enough reason to hate Nixon, not to mention his long history of slandering his opponents, but he also stepped up the War on (Some) Drugs while in office, had an Enemies List, froze the assets of Democratic contributors, used government agencies to interfere with investigations of his administration, and a lot of other things. He projected contempt of those who disagreed with him, too - he invited hatred. (And, really, does he actually imagine that Head Start was the brainchild of Richard Nixon? Signing a bill doesn't make you its creator.)

Republicans always "increase the size and scope of the federal government," but it's not whether you use money and hire people that makes the difference, it's how. And Republicans have always tended to do it in ways that cost more money and intrude more personally on individuals. That's not the sort of thing that liberals actually support. We regarded Nixon as a scoundrel and an abuser of power because he was.

But Fine seems to be living in another reality:

Bush's administration is free of scandals. He has not eliminated federal programs, not even the National Endowment for the Arts. The retreats have been strategic and slight. Not to say that Democrats should agree with "W" -- but hate him?
Free of scandals? What on earth can he mean by "scandals"? Do these people not understand that invading other countries without a good reason is itself a scandal of profound proportions? Don't they realize that the very fact of the way Bush got into the White House is a scandal? Burning intelligence sources isn't a scandal?
Once again emotional juice bubbles from the springs of the past. This loathing derives from Bush's seeming life of ease. If Bill Clinton was a Zelig, present at every influential moment, George W. Bush is Forrest Gump. He has led a charmed life, in which mediocrity, error and failure have had no consequences other than to produce success. An indifferent student, Bush attended both Yale and Harvard, escaped service in Vietnam, escaped disgrace despite drunken driving, failed as an oil magnate only to be promoted to head the Texas Rangers baseball team and, lacking political experience, became governor of Texas. His family and mentors paved the way for this untalented scion of privilege. Bush was the frat boy who never grew up.
Bush could have overcome that easily if he had shown any sign of having risen above his extended youth. But his career in Texas government had not recommended him, and he continued his pattern of abuse of power even after he took up residency in the White House. Even to those of us who had been aware of the corruption of the Nixon and GHWB administrations were stunned by the malfeasance and contempt for the electorate of this administration - even before 9/11. And then, on a day when I doubt even Gerald Ford could have failed to shine, George W. Bush went AWOL. Imagine a "president" so bereft of quality that he could be upstaged by Rudy Giuliani!
Most Americans, even most Democrats, do not abhor George W. Bush. We should be grateful for this. Yet, once again we see political animus tied to issues that are removed from policy. Judging a president's deeds and misdeeds, governing successes and blunders should provide enough ammunition for a lively debate. Why must bitterness toward the follies of youth so determine our politics?
Not tied to policy? He is doing everything he can to undermine every valuable domestic program that once made American life superior to that of any other country in the world. He has virtually eliminated the entire Bill of Rights. He is turning American upward-mobility into no more than a historical legend. He has started a war and simultaneously reduced military benefits. He emptied the treasury! How much more do you need?

Look, we don't care if he used to be a wastrel, we care that he persists in being one. There is just no way to distinguish his past follies from his current pattern of behavior. We saw what his real values were on 9/11 when he thought a photo-op was more important than an attack on our country. He's a coward and a thief who is wrecking our country at every level. Even his alleged epiphany does not point to a love of country: He believes it is his job to lead us to Armageddon, not American progress. What's not to hate?

I'm obviously not the only person who thinks so. The letters on this piece were headed Reasons To Hate Bush. Stephen Clark explained:

I imagine that different people have different reasons for their animosity toward Bush. An African American may be outraged by what seem like continual assaults on hard-won voting rights in Florida. A gay voter may resent Bush's attempt to write bigotry into the Constitution. A humanitarian may abhor the needless war deaths induced by incompetence or lies. An abortion rights advocate may loathe the use of breast-cancer disinformation to scare women about abortion. A civil libertarian may despise the denial of counsel to hundreds of people secretly locked up for months but never charged with any crime. Or a fair-minded American may be disgusted by a seeming personality trait -- utter shamelessness -- that links all these things.

In the nearly three years since Sept. 11, Americans have experienced a dizzying swing from unparalleled though bittersweet social harmony to simply bitter division. Some may blame the destruction of that unity on Bush, who exploited that goodwill to push a brazen right-wing agenda.

A brazen right-wing agenda that is anathema to most Americans, by the way.

Elsewhere in the Post letters: More Moon damage control - Just how did that coronation take place in a government building with members of Congress in attendance?

In other news:

From The Miami Herald, State ceases felon voting purge: In an effort to clean up one of its most notable and damaging messes, the state asked election supervisors Friday to abandon efforts to purge many potential felons from the voting rolls. Dawn Roberts, director of the Division of Elections, sent a letter to all 67 counties telling them to deny voters the right to cast ballots "only if you have independently confirmed that the person is a felon who has not had their civil rights restored."

From The Straits Times, US prison inmates pay for room and board. An earlier story in The Christian Science Monitor asks, Is it fair and legal for inmates to foot their room and board? (Well, no, it's an outrage. It doesn't save any money, either. If prisons are too crowded, get rid of stupid drug laws and they'll empty out pretty quick.)

From the Guardian:
Pollutants cause huge rise in brain diseases: Scientists alarmed as number of cases triples in 20 years

Tory U-turn to give teens control of sex lives: Teenagers would be targeted by a major expansion of sex education enabling them to 'take control' of their intimate lives under startling new Tory plans to combat the increase in sexual diseases. The move marks a departure from years of right-wingers demanding that children be taught to abstain. This is frankly astonishing.

American dreamer - interview with Robert Redford.
11:53 BST

Worse than it looks

Bush blew it the morning of 9/11 by Bill Maher:

The fact that Bush wasted 27 minutes that day - not only the seven minutes reading to kids but 20 more at a photo op afterward - was, in my view, the most outrageous thing a President has done since Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court.
Actually, he wasted more than 27 minutes; it had to occur to anyone who'd been told terrorism was a threat that something might be wrong when the first plane hit.
00:57 BST

Saturday, 14 August 2004

Reading matter

I was thinking I'd enjoy the sunshine while it's here. So here are my picks for some things you can occupy yourselves with:

Atrios has two substantive posts today, one about how the right lied about Lani Guinier, and the other about what the Kerry campaign is doing right, improving his metaphor from an earlier post that addresses a serious weakness in their strategy.

Fred Clark at Slacktivist discusses how one bad journo at the Associated Press caused many of the nation's newspapers to "explain" Social Security in ways that any adult should know have nothing to do with reality, in Nedra's Christmas Club.

Last One Speaks with lots of interesting pot news, including what Walter Cronkite has to say about the drug war, stoned scientists (why am I not surprised to learn that Feynman took acid?), and how reefer protects you from nerve gas.

Everything at Pandagon (of course), especially advice from our favorite terrorist. Digby says that even George W. Bush isn't as stupid as those people - but that doesn't mean he's cutting aWol any slack.

Damfacrats has more stuff.
16:41 BST

At Peevish

Anne has one of those posts up that's packed with interesting links, such as:

Via Sebastian Holsclaw, I got to A Handful Of Sand and the story of a soldier whose war-experience blog was discovered by his battalion commander, whom (one presumes) is high up enough on the food chain to cause him some serious problems. But it didn't happen that way. The soldier's blog is here. (I haven't read it. The black background with gray type is just a blur on this monitor.)
I found it was hard on the eyes, too (antidote: Ctrl-A), but still worth reading, and you can learn all about a typical day at FOB Marez.

There's also a link to The Poor Man's post about Keith Olbermann's article about those huge crowds coming out to meet and greet John Kerry on the stump, and how it's not just the ABB crowd anymore - they really like him! - and, um, gee, the media isn't making much mention of that, is it? (Oh, yeah, great comment thread there, too.)
02:20 BST

Friday, 13 August 2004

Via Atrios

If you're not clicking through much from Eschaton, two links I recommend are:

  • Sadly, No! on how Bush is misrepresenting Kerry's economic plan, and you should read the comments, where a helpful troll has said just the right stupid things to get an informative and clarifying thread going. And
  • Rumsfeld and Bush Failed Us on Sept. 11 by Gail Sheehy, once again examining the question of why both Bush and Rumsfeld were MIA when leadership was needed. Scary. One thing seems clear: The failures on 9/11 weren't of the system, they were of the people whose responsibility it was to deal with it.

Hm, come to think of it, you should also read Alterman's PBS Adds Insult to Injury, with it's justified anger at The Wall Street Journal editorial crackpots getting their own show on public money

Given the right's domination of television talk shows and its already strong representation on public broadcasting, the only imaginable explanation for the decision to put PBS resources in the hands of well-financed, well-distributed, unabashedly partisan and journalistically challenged ideologues can be naked political pressure. As we have seen over the past three decades, the relentless conservative campaign to "work the refs" works. If liberals are to retain their voice in the public discourse, they had better find a way to let the pooh-bahs of PBS know exactly what they think of decisions like this one.
This really is an outrage, and he's right, they need to be deluged with expressions of disgust.
23:30 BST

Hey, kids!

A comic you'll want to give to all of your friends and family - Tex! George Bush and the Fine Art of Character Assassination:

As Dysart describes the book in a mailer: "TEX! is a product that we're all mighty proud of. A 24-page comic book about George Bush as a super hero. Using the language of conservatism to attack the neocons, it's our little bundle of political satire, as well as a quick and thorough education on the Bush administration's acts of criminal politics (with an exhaustively researched five page appendix which graces the back). It is not just an attack, but a primer on the History of the Walker-Bush money and their ties to rogue banks and arms deals over the last four generations, the Florida election and the treasonous Supreme Court decision, 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other hits from our favorite dumb asses."
In 2002, no one wanted to publish this book, but then they all started to get mad....
19:23 BST

Things I have learned

As some of you know, I am a great admirer of good food. Unlike many people, I was actually raised on good food, and one of the darkest days in history was when my mother decided she was too old and tired to cook anymore. I wish I had a photo of some good food that I could post here in honor of the legendary Julia Child - it's always a bad day when you lose a good cook.

Ross at The Bloviator thinks Kerry can grab some swing states by banging hard on Bush's anti-drug importation policy.

More on sovereignty: Dominic (of Epicycle) informs me that Jesse Jackson had a little fun with this one himself: The President explained. You just didn't understand. Sovereignty is sovereignty. You understand? It's like in sovereignity. If you are on a reservation, you have been soverized.

LiberalOasis has a new interview with Paul Krugman and also talks about The Bush-Cheney Doctrine Of Sensitive War.

At the Agora, Doug is appalled by astonishing antisemitism on Clear Channel, and shares this quote with us: George Soros is the Anti-Christ.

The Angry Liberal reports that: Kenneth Baer, former speechwriter for Al Gore, is up on The New Republic Online urging Kerry to sue the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT).

At Crooked Timber, Ted Barlow imagines a better choice to direct the CIA than Porter Goss, and Daniel Davies explains how trickle down economics buys you a cup of coffee.
18:21 BST

In Blogtopia
(Yes! Skippy etc.!)

Charles Dodgson: A devotee of role-playing games tried to ride a ferry to New York -- to find that, in preparation for the RNC, it is now infested with high school hall monitors who are searching bags not only for weapons, their official remit, but are apparently also trying to confiscate books they deem "inappropriate."

Mary Beth (of Pacific Views) has done an interview with Paul Krugman, posted at The Left Coaster. Back at Pacific Views, Norman is trying to engage his Republican friends in reasoned debate.

Kos says Pennsylvania is looking pretty solidly blue at this point though Ohio looks tight. But MyDD says Ohio Looking Good and perhaps even better in Florida. There are still three "Gore states" where it's very close, but there are also "Bush states" that look like they have a good chance of slipping into the blue.

I'm a bit late learning this, but I'm kind of touched: The Empire State Building dimmed it's lights in honor of Fay Wray.
04:23 BST

Thursday, 12 August 2004

Bloggin' it up

Saw it at

I saw a letter at from Pat S that said: Did you catch Kerry on C-SPAN at a recent yard party? He was heckled. But you know what he did and I LOVE this! He called the heckler up to the front, asked the heckler why he was heckling and gave the heckler the microphone. The heckler stammered, blushed, gave Kerry the microphone back and left. Of course, the media ignored this.

And I also see that John Kerry & The Electras have their own website, now. You can even hear clips!

Remember that crazy idea about eliminating the IRS that the Republicans were floating? Well, even conservatives don't like it much. Via Max.

Scoobie Davis says the last hold-out of the Troopergate Troopers has recently pled guilty to a felony ("in an unrelated federal civil-rights case," according to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette).

Rittenhouse Review found a very fine Quote of the Week last week.

Mark Hall of Biomes Blog got an e-mail list of alleged quotes from John Kerry, supposedly showing that he is just as lame as George Bush. The only trouble is that the only quote in it that wasn't originally from Dan Quayle is by - oh, I bet you guessed: "The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
17:31 BST

Things you could read

Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline has a little list of CDs he finds unacceptable. He doesn't much care for Lou Reed or Alice in Chains, it seems.

Bill Scher says Laura Bush Is Still A Liar.

Daniel at Crooked Timber has a story from the other planet - you know the one I mean. Yes, I do believe it's possible that the CIA is that nuts. Or maybe just crazy like a fox.

Citizens For Honest Fighter Pilots Call On Bush To Explain His Military Record.

Scaramouche has found a video of Bush on sovereignty, and has also learned Denny Hastert's excuse for how Alan Keyes got to be the nominee: "I was out of town when that happened."
12:46 BST

About those poll numbers...

What Really Happened has a link to a story I can't seem to get to, with this quote:

Bush job rating falls to new low

Californians' appraisal of President Bush's job performance has hit a record low, largely because voters' view of his handling of terrorist threats has deteriorated, according to a new statewide Field Poll.

At a recent social event I met someone who actually works for a polling company, which one I decline to say for reason which will become apparent. This person took me into their confidence and after swearing me to anonymity confirmed what I had long suspected. The actual raw polling data shows zero support for Bush and his wars, and barring Diebold, shows Kerry winning by a major landslide. But the upper management of the polling organization "corrects" the data to support the agenda of the client. - M. R

But you already guessed that, right?
02:57 BST

On the road to the Raw Deal

Kevin Drum reads the signposts:

So why does the economy feel so much worse to so many people? Hacker believes that one of the big reasons is that life has become so much more risky. People are a lot closer to the edge, closer to a single catastrophe that can wipe them out, than they were three decades ago.

This has a chilling effect even if nothing ever happens to you. Almost everyone who's not already well off these days knows someone who's been ruined by a personal catastrophe, and this personal knowledge rubs off. You're worried that you could get laid off at any time - and not be able to find a job for months or years. You're worred that a sudden healthcare crisis could devastate you. You're worried that your pension fund or your 401(k) might not be there when you retire because you made bad investment choices.

FDR dedicated the New Deal to "freedom from fear." He believed that government's role was not to provide handouts to the poor, but to provide a certain minimum level of security against the everyday catastrophes that ruin people's lives.

It is this minimum level of economic security that George Bush and modern movement conservatives want to abolish. In fact, it's the point of Bush's "ownership society": if everyone owns their own Social Security account, owns their own healthcare account, and owns their own college accounts, then the government no longer provides security against disaster. If you make a mistake, or if the market makes a mistake, you're screwed.

This is likely to be the eventual downfall of modern conservatism. Human beings have a deep desire for a certain minimum level of stability and security in their lives, and eventually they'll rebel against a party that refuses to acknowledge this. Life today is so much better than it was in the 30s that people have forgotten the basic New Deal ethos that made it that way. But if conservatives have their way, it won't be much longer before they start remembering.

The frogs are feeling the heat.
01:21 BST

Wednesday, 11 August 2004

Noted with interest

Digby says Kerry just can't win with some people: Lord Saletan runs a regular series condemning Kerry for his "caveats and curliques" and then turns around and blasts him for not explaining stem cell research in scientific detail when he's on the stump. You see, Kerry is much too verbose when he isn't and much too simplistic when he is and it's all just so very unseemly.

James Pinkerton engages in the delightful fantasy that Diebold couldn't possibly want to fix the election because it would upset their shareholders. Pinkerton doesn't answer the question of how the shareholders would be able to tell whether Diebold did this or not, since no one can check their work. (Via Body and Soul.)

At Pandagon, Ezra tells you where to shop, and Jesse wonders where some journos get their sources.

From Wampum: I'm concerned that there may be agency in these acts. Agency beyond incompetence, the normal signature of this administration. Agency beyond managing the news cycle, the normal responsive media ploys of many administrations. Agency beyond institutional friction, a normal problem even without the "Homeland Security" re-org [1].

Ken MacLeod explains who Mark Ames actually is, and maybe why he is so, um, perceptive about The Spite Vote.

Okay, I think I understand, now. I keep forgetting that the Senate resolution didn't authorize unilateral invasion; it didn't even authorize use of force, except as a last resort after a a whole slew of conditions had been fulfilled - including weapons inspections, and only to disarm Iraq. Bush never fulfilled those conditions. By me, that means Bush's invasion of Iraq was illegal, since Congress never voted for this.
23:27 BST

Tasty tidbits

I just had to share this little .gif, from Barry's Temple of Godzilla, a name I couldn't resist when I saw it in a Kathryn Cramer post.

Kurt Vonnegut loves librarians, and reminds me of a recurrent thought I've been having: Isn't it odd that we've reached a point where people have to rely on books and movies for information we used to expect to get daily from newspapers and television news? The weirdest thing about this is that we are told the reason there is so much inaccurate rubbish in the papers is because they are hustling for scoops and therefore rush things to press without fact-checking - and yet, the result is that they are constantly being scooped by the "slow" media. Yes, the stuff is on the Internet - the medium the others claim they are now forced to compete with - but most people don't see it until it comes time for the book and movie reviews, many months later.

Believing the Shepherd by William Raspberry, underscoring the point that the terror alerts make no sense in terms of protecting us and seem more like part of some kind of psy-war against us.

The Toronto Star has a feature contrasting the US mainstream media with Jon Stewart that asks, Stewart gets serious, why won't reporters? And if you want to see those interviews referred to in the article with Blitzer and Bonilla, they're linked along the right on this page.
17:04 BST

Things to read

In parts of Maryland that are solidly Republican, something very interesting is happening. Democratic activists are saying, they've never seen anything like this before. "I went to the Berkeley County Youth Fair," Day was saying yesterday. "Four years ago, the county went heavily for George W. Bush. The whole day, we've got people one- and two-deep at the table registering to vote, wanting to volunteer. Amazing crowds. These are people who raise farm animals, who have always voted Republican."

Orcinus vs. Instahack

John Kerry talks to The Nation about media: Where Bush says he does not read newspapers, Kerry says he cannot get enough of them. And that distinction, Kerry suggested when he sat down with this reporter for a rare extended interview on media issues this week, sums up a radically different vision of how a president should gather and process information they must use to make fundamental decisions about the direction of the nation and the world. Kerry also talks about the media itself and media concentration. (Uh oh - they'll kill him, now.)

Dave Johnson goes easier on Kerry than I would have. I find his position incomprehensible. Maybe he imagines it all would have come out right if we'd had the UN behind us (and assumes they would have been there if only Bush had been polite), but what the hell were we doing there in the first place?

Safety Second

Kerry Unveils One-Point Plan For Better America, from the Onion. (via)

Aljazeera: Iraqi south threatens secession Basra Deputy Governor Salam Uda al-Maliki has said he is to announce the separation of some Iraqi southern governorates from the central Baghdad government.

Dear Ralph postcards
14:06 BST

Tuesday, 10 August 2004

Stuff to check out

Charles Kuffner on The man who bought the Texas Republican Party.

Howard Dean - the Green Mountain Scare Machine

Gene Lyons writes one of very few good articles by paid journalists about bloggers.

International team to monitor presidential election. Nice, but how do you monitor those voting machines?

George Bush's rock video (via)
22:51 BST

The Hate Factor

I notice I'm getting a number of hits off of Google searches for the little contretemps between Paul Krugman and Bill O'Reilly (because those names appear often on this page), so here is the Media Matters page about it, and some commentary from An Age Like This and from Orcinus, where you can find transcripts of the particular exchange.

I, of course, did not see O'Reilly compare a website that merely documents bizarre right-wing nuttiness with the KKK, but I've heard the clip on Air America and I can't honestly say it surprises me. This is rather typical of him: He flatly denies statements he actually made on the air, and when documentation (usually in the form of the clip itself) is provided, he changes the subject - in this case, pretending that his own words are irrelevant to the debate because the source of the quote is not sufficiently authoritative for his tastes. He is not above deliberately promulgating false perceptions of the sources in question, such as characterizing and Media Matters as "hate groups". As David Neiwert reminds us, the term "hate group" isn't generally used to refer to groups that just document political and media content.

The interesting thing is that O'Reilly is challenged on his statements time and again, always denies making them, and no matter how often the proof is put right under his nose, he thinks he has won these arguments and demonstrated once again that he does not make inflammatory statements and never utters falsehoods. Something is wrong with that guy.
15:44 BST

More voices

Church Folks for a Better America

I just checked out Church Folks for a Better America, a group who are advertising on TalkLeft. (The Sideshow, of course, does not take paid advertising, but when we see interesting stuff we're happy to mention it anyway.) The group is multidenominational and says:

We grieve that our nation is not standing for "liberty and justice for all," nor treating Iraqis as we would be treated. We believe that accountability begins at home, that wise leaders know their mistakes, and that honest leaders admit them. Fear and resentment will never guide us to a just and lasting peace. Any nation that hopes to be "under God" must live for a positive vision of world community, not a blind response to terrorism that tragically makes others see us as if we were terrorists ourselves.
Sounds right to me.
14:13 BST

Buncha links

If you didn't hear this one yet, listen to the (short) .mp3 (via Kos via Atrios). Are you sure this man isn't an idiot? I mean, this is like being asked what 1+1 is and saying, "Well, it's what you get when you put one and one together."

Tim Russert avoids jail after judge says there's no journalistic privilege, but Matthew Cooper gets charged with contempt when he still refuses to talk about whether he knows who spilled the Plame beans. Novak ain't sayin' whether he's been asked or not.

Bob Herbert looks at the real economy and says it's time to Admit We Have a Problem.

Letter to the editor: As the founder of the Washington State Citizens' Morality Patrol, I spend a lot of time in clubs watching exotic dancers. I know the hold they can put over a man's mind.

George Bush hears a sermon.

This makes me think of the first Ira Levin novel I ever read, This Perfect Day.

Mark Evanier has some thoughts on Ralph Nader that I just can't argue with.
03:16 BST

Monday, 09 August 2004

On the net

Skimble has been keeping up with the Enron prosecutions and is steamed to learn that someone who helped to steal $45 billion dollars gets less time in jail than the average drug offender.

The Village Voice on the militarization of America: Operation Garden Plot: No problem, George. The U.S. military already has something fittingly named Operation Garden Plot: detailed instructions on how to curb protests and other civil disorder within what the Department of Defense always so charmingly calls "CONUS" (the continental United States).

From The Washington Note: WALTER F. ROCHE JR. HAS AN ILLUMINATING PIECE TODAY in the Los Angeles Times on the clan Woolsey -- exposing some of the Iraq contract connections of Suzanne Woolsey, the former CIA Director's wife. In January 2004, she became a director of Fluor Corporation, which has $1.6 billion in Iraq related contracts. She also serves as a director of the Institute for Defense Analyses which also has war interests, and received modest compensation for that role according to the article.

Lightning says Lock Up the Silverware! He's talking, of course, about Alan Keyes, a right-wing crackpot who is now running against Barack Obama. I think the Republicans must have promised to pay off his copious debts back in Maryland in order to get him to do this.

And speaking of money (and Lightning, for that matter), check out TalkLeft's fine example of what happens when you let private companies run your prisons. Well, one thing that happens is that it's only by the good grace of the inmates that the guards survive. Jeralyn has the story on the Hero of the Week - a prison librarian who was the sole private employee not to freak out and run off when prisoners had had enough of being treated like animals by privatized prison guards in Colorado. As Lightning says in the comments: If the prison was really run by a "private contractor", they would have their operating contract yanked. Now. Won't happen. "Privatization" really means "privatization of profit with socialization of risk".

And getting back to Alan Keyes, the lovely Michael Bérubé has, um, some thoughts on that subject, too, and also explains why he is glad he's not Catholic anymore.

George Bush's English Lessons
20:12 BST

On Obama and race

From TNR's &c.

Is Obama a model for future black politicians? Not really. As I say in my profile, there just aren't many former Harvard Law Review presidents with African-sounding names. In this sense, there's a real undercurrent of pessimism running through my piece. (At one point I describe how a focus group composed of white moderates soured on Obama when they saw him getting endorsed by a more conventional black politician.) Which is why it's important not to kid ourselves: African American politicians face real stereotypes, and overcoming them is not as simple as pointing out that they're not true.
I enjoyed it when number of people responded to Obama's speech by saying things like, "I've just seen our first black president," but I don't believe it. The fact is, we've had plenty of black men in public life who were smart, eloquent, well-educated, and had nice, tame middle-class accents in which they delivered speeches that lacked any identifiable "black" code-words, and it didn't matter. They didn't even have particularly black-sounding names. But they were black, and they were liberal, and that was enough to keep them low on the radar.

I think it's cool that someone like Obama is black, but what's really neat about Obama is the same sort of thing that makes Edwards attractive: He's articulating a clear liberal message in language that is very direct and can reach everyone, and people are hungry for that.
18:11 BST

Polls: Movin' on up

From MyDD:

Who knows, maybe John Kerry's convention speech, which the CW has declared had no bounce, was specifically tailored toward bouncing in battleground states. August SUSA polling is showing Kerry atop Bush by 52-41 in Michigan, 53-41 in Pennsylvania, and 51-43 in Washington. ARG polling done in August shows Kerry up 50-43 in Florida, and 49-42 in New Hampshire. Outside the battleground states, Kerry leads Bush by 20% in New Jersey in an August poll done by Rutgers. Bush leads Kerry by 2% in Tennessee in a SUSA poll.
Last month the specific swing-state polls had Bush leading there, but that seems to be changing.
16:18 BST

The voice of spleen

Mark Ames may be that lefty I've been hearing so much about. Maybe that's why he's the best analyst of his subject, The Spite Vote; he feels some of those instincts himself. And he's observed it from the inside in at least two different countries:

At the other end of the economic spectrum, non-millionaires who vote Republican, the so-called "Reagan Democrats," know that the country is not theirs. They are mere wage-slave fodder, so their only hope is to vote for someone who makes the very happiest people's lives a little less happy. If I'm an obese 40-something white male living in Ohio or Nevada, locked into a permanent struggle with foreclosure, child support payments and outsourcing threats, then I'm going to vote for the guy who delivers a big greasy portion of misery to the Sarandon-Robbins dining room table, then brags about it on FoxNews. Even if it means hurting myself in the process.
George W. Bush and Milosevic have a lot in common. Before Milosevic, the Serbs were loved by everyone in the West. But as their third-way socialist economy crumbled and they perceived a threat from local Muslim populations, Milosevic pandered to the people's darkest fears. He dragged them into what we call "wars of choice" and turned the international community against them, to the point where Serbia was the most reviled nation in Europe. He attacked the U.N. and the West as anti-Serb, and kept the country in a permanent state of war and fear and isolation. Like Bush, Milosevic destroyed his little empire almost as quickly as he assumed control of it. It took a decade and massive covert and overt Western efforts to finally get Milosevic out of power and into the dock. For many a spiteful Serb male, those years of decline, hatred and isolation were glorious years indeed.
Ames doesn't mention the Nader voter here. On the other hand, and despite his acid response to the Democratic leadership, he sees promise in the fact that for all his wealth and power, Kerry doesn't look very happy; it makes it easier for the spite voter to transfer his hatred of happy, frat-boy rich guys to Bush.

Via UFO Breakfast Recipients.
15:15 BST

It was 30 years ago today

My father, who raised us to hate Nixon, was understandably horrified when he won the presidency. So he grew his hair in protest, refusing to get a haircut until Nixon was out of office.

Word got around and everyone knew why my father was starting to look like some kind of beatnik. After a while he had a long, grey ponytail.

People just started to appear that morning, friends from all over the area. There wasn't any arrangement, they just wanted to be there to see what he'd do. And then, just a minute or three before the scheduled announcement, my father walked into the living room, turned on the television and sat down on a footstool he'd just placed in the middle of the room in front of the TV - not his accustomed spot for watching the box. Almost as if it had been choreographed, our guests were standing, lining the walls of the room.

So Nixon resigned. My father stood up, snapped his fingers at my sister and commanded, "Cut my hair." And we all watched solemnly as she did it. The ponytail was saved and displayed proudly on a wall for decades.

(Nixon's letter of resignation)
12:35 BST

When silence is golden

Juan Cole is, of course, the guy to go to on the story about the terror alert and how the administration burned an intelligence source just to cover their backsides. But I have a problem with this:

So one scenario goes like this. Bush gets the reports that Eisa al-Hindi had been casing the financial institutions, and there was an update as recently as January 2004 in the al-Qaeda file. So this could be a live operation. If Bush doesn't announce it, and al-Qaeda did strike the institutions, then the fact that he knew of the plot beforehand would sink him if it came out (and it would) before the election. So he has to announce the plot. But if he announces it, people are going to suspect that he is wagging the dog and trying to shore up his popularity by playing the terrorism card. So he has to be able to give a credible account of how he got the information. So when the press is skeptical and critical, he decides to give up Khan so as to strengthen his case. In this scenario, he or someone in his immediate circle decides that a mere double agent inside al-Qaeda can be sacrificed if it helps Bush get reelected in the short term.

On the other hand, sheer stupidity cannot be underestimated as an explanatory device in Washington politics.

See, my problem is that the sheer stupidity starts with announcing anything rather than quietly investigating. We don't need the government to tell us there might be terrorists plotting terror; we need them to shut up and stop the terrorists. They can't do that if they are giving press conferences about it - it can only hamper their efforts.

If, indeed, they are making any such efforts, which is questionable. These terror alerts have no purpose other than to keep generating fear. They don't protect us. They're just smoke. They exist to help George Bush's campaign.

I don't understand why this isn't obvious to people. We didn't have terror alerts throwing everyone into a panic back when the Clinton administration knew there was a Millennium plot. They just very quietly made sure it didn't happen. They were able to do that because they kept their mouths shut.

And this is why Kevin Drum is wrong when he says this:

What in God's green earth is going on here? I have a whole stew of reactions swirling around in my head about this. I'm beside myself that Bush administration officials are so spineless that they'd kill an undercover operation just to remove some political heat from themselves. But: I'm also angry that the reaction to Sunday's terror warning from Bush critics was so hysterical that the Bushies got panicked into doing this. And yet: I'm furious that Bush and his cronies have so corrupted our intelligence services that deep skepticism was hardly an unfair reaction.
I didn't notice any "hysteria" (and I have to agree with Lambert about that sentence), but "deep skepticism" is too faint a response. The only intelligent response to these terror alerts is absolute certainty that they are there for political reasons, because if a competent administration recognizes a real threat, they don't say anything, they just find out what's going on and make sure it doesn't happen.

Don't you guys get it yet? Why do you think that the most secretive government in our lifetime is constantly announcing to the media the one thing that everyone has always agreed government should be secretive about? The color codes, the showy Homeland Security apparatus, the whole bunch of it is just a charade - they are doing it instead of doing their jobs. It's all political. Good security is not showy; it happens where nobody sees, and nobody knows until the threat is over.
00:58 BST

Sunday, 08 August 2004

Cruisin' the Blogosphere

Take your political pulse (via)

Flunking Electoral College from Emphasis added.

Gotta get that tax-cut money from somewhere.... Max Blumenthal with Bush's Program for Vets: Social Darwinism.

Jim Friendly reviews events.

Giblets is a member of Swift Boat Veterans for Trooth.

Mark Fiore explains nukes
16:35 BST

Why we fight

I'd vaguely heard the man's name before, but let's face it, it's such a silly-sounding name that it never for a moment suggested the story I'd never heard about him. But Suburban Guerrilla tipped me off to "An American Coup d'Ètat?"

How different is America from nations where political power comes quite directly "from the barrel of a gun"? A curious footnote to American history suggests that, except for the personal integrity of a remarkable American general, a coup d'état intended to remove President Franklin D. Roosevelt from office in 1934 might have plunged America into civil war.

This remarkable man was Smedley Darlington Butler, retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General. Butler is the sort of person for whom the word "colorful" is woefully inadequate. Butler won America's highest military award for bravery (the Congressional Medal of Honor) twice. His style of warfare was unusual not only for his personal courage, but for the energy he put into avoiding bloodshed when it was possible to achieve his aims in other ways. Not surprisingly, this engendered a remarkable loyalty among the men who served under him - and that loyalty was why certain men asked Butler to lead a military attack on Washington, D.C., with the goal of capturing President Roosevelt.

Whoa! And here you thought they only did stuff like that in South America!

But even way back then, the familiar pattern was already in play:

An apparently serious effort to overthrow the government, perhaps with the support of some of America's wealthiest men, largely substantiated by a Congressional committee, was mostly ignored. Why? Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, wrote a book in 1939 about the concentration of American journalism. He claimed that, "In 1934, 82 per cent of all dailies had a complete monopoly in their communities." Newspaper chains, in Ickes' view, "control a dangerously large share of the national daily circulation and in many cities have no competition."

Ickes' book was largely devoted to proving that the major newspapers of the United States were intentionally distorting the news, and in some cases, directly lying. Ickes argued that newspaper editors did so in the interests of both their advertisers and in defense of the capitalist class. Ickes mentioned the Liberty League as one of the "propaganda outfits" who were allied with the major newspapers. Indeed,the New York Times, one of the papers that had downplayed the Committee's report, had editorialized in favor of the Liberty League's formation.

It's not getting any better.
12:37 BST

Happy birthday

Eli recently celebrated his first blogiversary. I think I want to take issue with what he regards as "left". Voting for Nader might be seen as "left" if you think the impoverishment of most Americans and the destruction of the Constitution will somehow lead to a socialist utopia, I guess, but if what you're really hoping for is some form of enlightened liberal democracy, I don't think the election of George W. Bush is the way to go.

Anyway, what's so good about Nader? No, really. He's supposed to be anti-corporatist, but has he managed to bring a deep understanding of that argument to the broader public? What do most people associate him with? Isn't it something about holding corporations to a higher standard when they build cars? Is that the same thing? And wasn't he more productive as an ordinary activist than he's been as a political candidate? And why is he chumming around with people like Grover Norquist and the RNC? (I don't know why the Greens chose him, since he certainly has never been green. The green candidate in 2000 was Al Gore.)

Voting for Nader is about what you think is the best method for creating desired change rather than an ideology or the ultimate goal. Some Nader voters may be socialists or anarchists, but I think a lot of them are just very naive and inexperienced liberals who haven't worked out yet that Ralph is not gonna take them where they want to go. Not so much "left", then, as simply impatient.
02:32 BST

Saturday, 07 August 2004

More Eschaton graduates

Athenae, Holden, Tena and Pie, who sat in for Atrios while he was off at the DemoCon, have followed the Corrente tradition and started their own weblog together, unfortunately called First Draft. This is a matter of some annoyance to me, since I already have Tim Porter's First Draft in a prominent place on my blogroll. I'm not quite sure what to do about this - I really don't want to list two First Drafts over there.

However, it looks good, and has some new poll numbers for Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio, and notes that the Iraqi interim government has done something that even Saddam never dared to do: shut down Aljazeera in Baghdad.
17:32 BST

Make sure your name is there

You live in a Democratic-leaning district in a swing state and go to your local polling place and discover someone's changed your address, so in order to vote you end up having to take the day off to talk to the elections commission director, and this is what you learn:

Apparently there are groups out there who buy copies of the voter registration rolls, then send in new registrations for registered voters giving them a new address. It's really a more sophisticated version of the whole thing with the felony lists in Florida in the last election - however, people aren't being REMOVED from the voting rolls, and hence there's no red flag being raised. After all, people DO move and send in change of address, so there's no reason for them to suspect voter fraud. And there's really no way to trace this, so there's really no way to detect this. But in effect what it means is voters are removed from the rolls - after all, if you're unknowingly registered in another precinct, how can you vote at yours? I was lucky...I have the job flexibility and transportation to go down to the election board and find out the problems, but I'm betting a lot of the other people with the same problems don't. And there are a lot - at my precinct, during the period we were at the polls, which was pretty slow, there were only about five or six people in and out, including us. And of those, me and one other guy found ourselves off the rolls, and one woman said she'd had the same thing happen to her during the 2000 presidential election and had to spend the entire day down at the election board.
So that's one more thing you should check before election day comes around.

Via Digby.
14:00 BST

Depends how you look at it

"This should be Michael Moore's theme song," says Lee at Right Thinking from the Left Coast. I don't know anything about Hatebreed, but the lyrics to me look more appropriate as the theme song for all those warbloggers who are happy to dispatch other people's lives in Iraq while turning a blind eye to the way this administration sent our military personnel in without proper planning and resources, simultaneously gutting GI Bill benefits at home - and who now think it's big fun to dismiss both the demands of the 9/11 families and the bravery and sacrifice of John Kerry and Max Cleland, and actually support the Swift Boat Liars. Obviously, some people see it differently.
12:29 BST


Right, they burned another spy just to give us that stupid terror alert:

U.S. officials providing justification for anti-terrorism alerts revealed details about a Pakistani secret agent, and confirmed his name while he was working under cover in a sting operation, Pakistani sources said on Friday.
Via Kos.
03:54 BST


I think this one is my favorite from Bush's Friday Q&A:

We actually misnamed the war on terror, it ought to be the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world.
Let's see, that would be the SAIEWDNBIFSWHTUTAAWTTTSTCOTFW. Bit unweildy. Perhaps we should have a contest to see how the acronym should be pronounced. I vote for "Fanshaw".
00:18 BST

Friday, 06 August 2004

Nice one

Lead Balloons says:

Building on my last two posts, I propose that Kerry and all us Americans working for him emphasize this central truth: George Bush is scared of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. And, John Kerry is not.

Shifty George thinks al Qaeda is capable of destroying America; John the Warrior understands that America is capable of destroying al Qaeda.

At Bad Attitudes
22:01 BST

Blog notes

Nathan Newman says a marine who appeared in the movie Control Room has been harassed out of the military as a result.

As always, Simbaud has lots of good stuff posted at King of Zembla, and don't miss the Norman Mailer interview. Mailer warns - and Simbaud and I agree - that riots in New York could work to Bush's advantage. I think people planning to go there to protest should dress up really nice and straight and not make a lot of noise. I'm hoping Bloomberg isn't planning a police riot. Also: 152*, where forensic evidence is under a cloud in Texas: "We know already that they couldn't do DNA testing properly," [Defense Attorney Barry] Scheck said. "Now we have a scandal that calls into question many thousands more cases. And this jurisdiction has produced more executions than any other county in America."

Will The Oil Men Be Done In By Oil? Bill Scher on how Bush has completely blown oil politics. (And while I was reading it, I had an instant nightmare about a world without petroleum products. Urk!)
19:49 BST

Shouting that we're good

I was just reading Arthur Silber's article about Angels in America and came to this bit:

One of the other central relationships in Angels is that between Joe Pitt and his wife, Harper. Joe is a young, Republican, Mormon, who clerks for a judge (and writes most of his opinions) and is also close friends with Roy Cohn, who has become Joe's surrogate father. In one of the first scenes between Joe and Harper, Joe is explaining why the Reagan Revolution means so much to him, and he talks about how America has now resumed its "sacred place among nations," and that people "aren't ashamed of it the way they used to be." It's one of a number of moments that carry an eerie foreshadowing of what has happened since 9/11 in many ways, and it also introduces yet another of Kushner's thematic concerns.
That quote highlights for me an elemental difference between people like me, for whom the '60s and '70s were a period of acknowledging our weaknesses and reaffirming our dedication to the ideals of America - a process of becoming better and stronger - and people like the conservatives who love George Bush's propensity for saying we're good rather than actually embarking on the project of being good. Reagan told us we were standing tall in the world even while the rest of the world was looking at us like we were all morons to have elected - and re-elected by a landslide - this obvious mental defective. Bush is internationally famous for lying about his intentions and, well, murdering thousands of Iraqis; but he says he's good, so he must be.

I admit it, I don't understand these people who believe Americans "don't have to be ashamed" because Reagan says so, or who believe Bush is good because he claims he is. But it does seem to be the case that they do believe, in spite of all the evidence. They only hear what their guys say, and don't watch what is actually going on.

(None of which really has anything to do with Angels in America, except where it does.)
17:36 BST

Hush-hush "democracy"

Josh Marshall says Steve Clemons' has started a blog, The Washington Note, and "Steve is one of the most connected guys in DC and knows the inside line on just about everything." Let's see what Steve says:

THE FLORIDA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION DELEGATION members are being kept secret. A UPI newstrack story reports that Florida Republicans have refused to release the names of the state's delegates to the national convention in New York.

According the story, Florida party spokesman Joseph Agostini reported to the Miami Herald that "some delegates are not comfortable speaking and don't want their information given out, and we've honored their requests. Our priority is putting the interests and welfare of our delegates first."

Florida Republicans seem to be having real troubles getting the democracy thing worked out. The state delegation to the Democratic National Convention did provide reporters and editors a roster of delegates with contact information -- but the issue here is not that the Democrats in Florida believe in transparency and civil society and the Republicans not. What seems to be unfolding in Florida since the last election is that the leadership of the Florida Republican party is rapidly undermining the legitimacy of that state's democratic operation.

Not that this is only happening in Florida, mind you.
16:21 BST

Hot stuff

Dwight Meredith examines Tom Ridge's statement that, "We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security." I love the way Dwight makes a point.

Henry Louis Gates muses on Obama's speech and Cosby's recent controversial remarks. Dedrick Muhammad has a different take on the same subject.

MyDD says the Fox Poll looks good for Kerry.

They Knew... If you haven't seen this article by David Sirota and Christy Harvey yet, go there now. It explains pretty thoroughly that: They knew Iraq posed no nuclear threat, They knew the aluminum tubes were not for nuclear weapons, They knew the Iraq-uranium claims were not supported, They knew there was no hard evidence of chemical or biological weapons, They knew Saddam and bin Laden were not collaborating, They knew there was no Prague meeting, Conclusion: They knew they were misleading America. Updates here.

Another electoral vote map, from The Los Angeles Times.
02:16 BST

Thursday, 05 August 2004

Today's news

Remarks today of George W. Bush

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
Free Speech Zoned: A senior official of the Central Intelligence Agency who has written a best-selling book critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war on terror has been ordered to sharply curtail his interviews with news organizations in connection with the book, his publisher said on Wednesday. (Via Boiled Meat.)

Only Democrats commit crimes: Atrios notes that it was wall-to-wall coverage when Sandy Berger put his notes in his pocket, but when Republicans announce sensitive, classified, national security secrets to the world, nobody really cares.

Also from Atrios, his regular word on new jobless and new jobs, and a good question for the press to ask: "Mr. Preznit, in February of 2004, your Council of Economic Advisers predicted that if your tax plan passed, that 3,672,000 new jobs would be created. What went wrong?"

McCain deplores anti-Kerry ad: Republican Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, called an ad criticizing John Kerry's military service "dishonest and dishonorable" and urged the White House on Thursday to condemn it as well. "It was the same kind of deal that was pulled on me," McCain said in an interview with The Associated Press, referring to his bitter Republican primary fight with President Bush. The anti-Kerry ads were created by the same people who smeared McCain in 2000.
17:32 BST

Republicans actually trust this woman's word

Interestingly, the story Claimed terror plot 'didn't happen' in The Herald Tribune appears in the Sports section online. Anyone know where it was in the paper version?

Anyway, the story says:

The director of the Indiana Counter-Terrorism and Security Council said Wednesday that there is no evidence to back up a claim by U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris that a man of Middle Eastern heritage had plotted to blow up the Midwest power grid in a suburb of Indianapolis.
Not a big surprise, is it? The location alone is a giveaway. I just heard on the news that Harris has "apologized" for saying it.

I didn't believe her in 2000, either.
15:14 BST

Big stuff in the blogosphere

Bruce Springsteen writes in The New York Times about why this year the stakes are too high to stay out of politics. Get your tickets to the Vote for Change tour with Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Dave Matthews Band, Jurassic 5, Dixie Chicks, Death Cab for Cutie, James Taylor, Ben Harper, My Morning Jacket, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty, Keb' Mo', Bright Eyes, John Mellencamp, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, ...and more.

The American Journalism Review praises the one news organization - Knight-Ridder - that questioned the invasion of Iraq when everyone else was cheerleading it. Going It Alone on why and how they got the story right.

I laughed 'til I cried when I heard that Laura Bush told Bill O'Reilly that journalists are contributing to the polarization of the country and that the media sensationalizes things that are unimportant, filling the news with more opinion than fact. Jesse says: The sad thing is, she's absolutely right, yet telling it to a guy who's at the forefront of the movement she's deriding.

Aside from Ann Coulter's attempt to rehabilitate Joe McCarthy, the popular revisionist theory of the day is that internment of the Japanese during World War II was a perfectly reasonable security move. They have to say this to justify our current treatment of Muslims. David Neiwert looks at the thesis and says: And the problem is that it's simply, demonstrably false. Also, reviews have been coming in for David's book, Death on the Fourth of July.

13:26 BST

Things to see

Arthur Silber on That loony conservative "logic" ... again: This particular approach -- a sort of mental double reverse judo flip, where the premises underlying the opposing view are turned inside out (or invented), thus leading to utter incoherence -- seems to be catching on among conservatives.

Are you checking the Electoral Vote Predictor regularly? I am, and it's fascinating watching those battleground states shifting back and forth. Maybe even dizzying.

This page at GailOnline has photos of a spectacular hunk of rock and some good quotes and links as well.

A desert sunset at The Coyote's Bark, via NewMexKen. Also, a world map that some fools imagine - NewMexKen says: "The longer you look, the better it gets."
12:04 BST

I saw these at Shameless Agitator

A poll from Andrea's local newspaper
Who poses the biggest threat to the institution of marriage?

And two photos:

A gorgeous sunset bouncing off the clouds

A very red sunset shot
00:20 BST

Wednesday, 04 August 2004


Anybody know who this is?

I'm pretending I am not actually posting this.

Hippie links
18:53 BST

It just keeps pissing me off

You know, what really gets to me about that three-year-old threat warning that the administration felt an urgent need to tell us about just at the peak of the Democratic convention isn't just that it was obviously an attempt to bury the convention news, or even that the press is pretending Dean was wrong to be openly cynical about it, but this: They had this warning - three years ago, dammit! - that Al Qaeda was planning an attack on major financial institutions. And they're telling us this now, when they've been trying to tell us all year that they had no idea what Al Qaeda had in mind.

Think about that. They are telling us they knew, because they are that desperate to keep anything positive about Kerry off the front page, and not only are the press going along with it, but they are behaving as if they haven't just had what practically amounts to a confession from the administration. They bloody knew!

[Update: John Bogan tells me there's no need to be retroactively angry on this score, since apparently the old information wasn't actually in their hands three years ago; it's only that they just found out that the World Trade Center might be a target of Al Qaeda. Well, gosh, there's something we needed to be alerted to immediately! Hell, this information isn't just three years old, it's only something we've known for 11 years. I guess it's supposed to be reassuring to know that the administration has finally figured it out.]
11:17 BST

Cruisin' speed

A conservative is worried: "What if Bill Clinton is serious?" I have never understood why ordinary conservatives actually joined so eagerly in the Clinton-bashing, and why they are willing to give George Bush a pass. Clinton, let's face it, was a much better conservative than Bush is. Via Nathan Newman, who also discusses the Bush Depression.

Teresa trounces corporate trivia mills: Following Tuesday night's session of the Democratic National Convention, it was ludicrous to hear Heinz Kerry called "wonky" because she gave a speech of some substance, rather than tell cute tales about the private John Kerry to make him look less "French" or something.

Here's what John Kerry needs to say.

DEDspace: I am so tired of hearing the news media go on and on about Sibel Edmonds. Oh, wait...that's my imagination, isn't it? They don't talk about her much at all.

Ampersand has found a worthy post at Freespace called Hatch and mobocracy dissecting ol' Orrin's bizarre argument, in favor of an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Constitution, that legalization of gay marriage "should not be imposed by judges upon people who would not choose it for themselves."

01:58 BST

Tuesday, 03 August 2004

Notes from the zone

Reading the Script: Paul Krugman continues his critique of campaign coverage, turning his attention to the right-wing spin on the Democratic Convention itself. Simbaud has a few words about this. (And Simbaud also has the letter from Sibel D. Edmonds, which is pretty, um, interesting.)

A good question from The Angry Liberal: Why is it GW's Homeland Security Dept. can publicly warn that they're considering postponing the November election, and yet we don't hear such similar dire warnings about possibly postponing the Republican convention....?.

Radio Left has a project called Flush Rush aimed at debunking the right-wing spin. Some interesting stuff there, but I really am getting creeped out at the degree to which the right-wing terminology in which "Democrat" is always used in adjective position is being adopted by left-leaning or Democratic-leaning writers and speakers.

"We must not allow anyone to forget this."
22:19 BST

Various things

It was good to hear Mike Malloy again on his new Air America show last night (and I'm astonished to learn that he and Kathy have named their brand-new baby Molly). If you don't know why I like this guy, you could check out the archives of his old show on I.E.America, and especially my favorite bit, George W. Bush and 1984, the five steps program.

Josh Marshall talks about Karl Rove's big plan to beat Kerry with derision. (Air America's Marc Maron hears this stuff and says, "They got nothin'!" By which he means that they have no arguments to go after Kerry with, so they have to go low. But we knew that.) Josh warns that mockery can be an effective weapon, and Democrats should be ready to counter it.

Kathryn Cramer says that Rudy Rucker is guest-blogging at Boing Boing and I say will someone please put a stake in Peter Mandelson's heart?

Priest is having trouble sleeping.
19:44 BST

I'm so glad he's back

Atrios has loads of good stuff up at Eschaton right now. I was interested that this article on the Washington Post/ABC poll tries hard to make it sound like Kerry hasn't gained much from the convention, but given the tightness of the race and the unusually small percentage of Undecideds, it seems to me that this is a pretty good showing:

The Massachusetts senator gained five to eight points among registered voters on issues and attributes alike, while Bush lost about as many. And after a convention that focused heavily on his military experience in Vietnam, Kerry leads Bush as "better qualified to be commander-in-chief," by 52 percent to 44 percent.
The pundits are trying to compare Kerry's eight-point overall shift to an average that includes the 30-point bump a relatively unknown governor of Arkansas got from the Democratic Convention back in the '92 race. But Kerry was much more famous a year ago than Bill Clinton was before the convention that nominated him.

Meanwhile, Howard Dean was right - again - but, unsurprisingly, the Stepford Press that was happy to claim Wag the Dog back in 1998 just thinks it's awful of Dean to suggest that's what is going on here when it's only as plain as the nose on my face. And The Washington Post is tut-tutting at Dean's temerity even though, well, uh, they think maybe it would be nice if the White House didn't, um, make it so damned obvious.

And ballot-fixer Katherine Harris is back in the news, this time trying to make Little George's regime sound competent with the claim that they'd stopped at least 100 attacks, apparently based on the fact that they've arrested one guy somewhere.
17:54 BST

Hey, look, I made The Times!

The paper's Vatican correspondent called me from Rome yesterday after seeing the BBC article, and wrote Jesuit choice of woman to lead school is hailed as 'revolution' , which includes this:

Avedon Carol, a founding member of Feminists against Censorship, who had attacked the Vatican as "distant from the reality of our lives", welcomed the appointment of Signora Tona, saying that it was "very important to have a woman in a top position who understands the stresses on mothers who work outside the home. Maybe the Pope is serious about the problems faced by women after all."

Ms Carol said that the Vatican document emphasised the "economic and social value" of women who worked at home, "but did not acknowledge that many feminists have been making the same point for decades".

At least he got my lack of a title right, unlike the BBC, who even had it in writing. (And of course I specified women who work both inside and outside of the home, not just those who have outside jobs. *sigh*)
14:23 BST

Hey, kids!

Will Farrell plays some guy in Texas who gives you some straight talk on why you shouldn't vote, in White House West (QuickTime or Windows Media).

Huey is watchin' TV news again.

Kaleidoscopic cursor toy.
13:13 BST

For your viewing pleasure

You wouldn't believe pictures of flies could qualify as pretty pictures, but it can happen. And I'm not sure what this is, but it's neat. Via Sore Eyes, where I also found this wonderful raindrop and this great picture of the aurora.
04:40 BST

Just one link

I just watched six straight hours of Angels in America so I haven't been reading much. (I have a major buzz on - that thing is awesome. I'm glad I deliberately tried not to read or hear anything about it first so I could see it cold. Wow.) I did find one link during a commercial break, so here it is:

Fisk: For just as, before the war, our governments warned us of threats that did not exist, now they hide from us the threats that do exist.
03:40 BST

Monday, 02 August 2004

Things I saw

Enemy of the People: I was going down for the third time when I first heard Howard, utterly astonished that this nation could so rapidly descend into a Kafkaesque nightmare in which truth was banished and speakers of the truth hysterically condemned as heretics. I cannot fully convey the sense of relief I felt when Howard Dean forthrightly proclaimed that we had been deceived into war by the President, a deception so antithetical to democracy and monstrous in its implications for the future of this society that the silence of our leaders in the face of this lie was frightening and eerie, a deception so horrible that, like the macabre secret in a Sam Shepard play, it seemed to exert a truth warp that transmogrified every rhetorical attempt to navigate around it.

This kind of thing just gives me the willies.

Blogging about the new Bill Maher show, onegoodmove with a QuickTime clip.

Mike Malloy's first show on Air America is tonight. It'll be good to hear him rant again.
23:57 BST


Notes on the Atrocities gives you good reason to believe that the Bushies are really running scared: Although the Republicans are desperately trying to appear calm, cool, and collected, it's clear that Kerry's speech had a 9/11 effect on the political landscape: everything's changed. Let's run through the evidence.

LiberalOasis covered a lot more of the convention than just about anyone else did, and he actually wrote down several good interviews. Here's a rather scary line from his interview with David Brock: When I was down in Radio Alley at 7 AM this morning, so many of the radio show hosts I saw, the homepage was the Drudge Report. So that's where they were getting their morning news and talking points first thing - from an RNC shill. Bill also checked out the meeting of the black caucus and interviewed delegates. He also interviewed Tammy Baldwin, and announced his choices for Best of The Convention Bloggers.

The Road to Surfdom has fun with another right-wing crackpot "analyzing" the evils of liberalism. (You know, conservatives really do hate America.)

Michael also had lots of fun with right-wing crackpots trying to write coverage of the Democrats. Get out that blue pencil!

Act Blue

Charles Kuffner remembers Thurman Munson, and I learned something neat from his post about Atrios' new campaign focus - he's looking for good local candidates to support, and one candidate actually made a comment to that thread at Eschaton. That's Richard Morrison, the man who wants to send Tom DeLay back to private life. He needs money; send it if you got it.

Digby: One of the perverse advantages of tagging the media in general as liberal, when they are actually easily duped by right wing spin, is that people consequently lose more respect for liberals than conservatives when that right wing spin is exposed. People expect politicians to be slimy. Journalism is supposed to expose it and when it doesn't people feel betrayed by the institution that let them down --- the media. Which they subconsciously associate with the word "liberal."
16:57 BST

Things that amused me

Team America, the new movie by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame, seems to have upset Republicans, who think it doesn't take terrorism seriously enough. I am sorry to say that, judging from the trailer, this film does not use the same sophisticated techniques that we are used to from Matt & Trey. I mean: no paperdolls. (This link takes you to a page that offers you a choice of how you watch the trailer.)

Michael was worried at first, though he eventually warmed to Kerry's speech: However: it was not a home run. Nor was it a touchdown, a three-pointer, a shorthanded goal, a try, or a perfect 10. Kerry did not get a hole in one, he did not google a six, and he did not do that thing in curling where someone does something good in curling. In fact, the speech wasn't anything like a sporting event, so I don't know what all these other commentators are talking about. I think they should get out more and see some actual sports.

One of many subjects that the libertarian right gets conned by the GOP over is that the Democrats are supposedly worse than the Republicans when it comes to repressive anti-drug laws. [pause] Got your breath back, yet? Okay, they're actually trying this one on with Kerry. As always, it's rubbish. Jeralyn has the scoop at TalkLeft.

Why do all these GOPers hang out with terrorists? (Via Max.)

I got such a kick out of the Simple Fears song "Get Out of Iraq" that I am blogging it twice. (Stream or download.)
12:52 BST

Sunday, 01 August 2004

The Beeb and the Pope and me

Auntie Beeb called me and asked me to write a response (in about three hours) to the new Vatican document as described in this article. So I started writing one and at about 500 fairly economical words it occurred to me that the guy had never given me a word-count. So I called back and he said 150 words. What? I told him I'd send him the cut-down version but I'd also send the original and see which he wanted. He mixed a bunch of sentences and paragraphs around in a way I can't honestly say I like (such as the repetitious inclusion of the same thing from the two different pieces, but the exclusion of all the stuff about economics), and here's what it looks like.

In other news about people I'm particularly fond of, Patrick just told me about this story in the NYT about the wonderful Susanna Clarke, and it even talks about Colin and Neil and Patrick himself.
23:38 BST

For your reading pleasure

Scorpio gets it, and I don't understand why more people don't. You can not outsource the whole bloody country without paying a steep price. Oh, but that's right, the people who actually pay the price aren't the ones who are doing the outsourcing, are they? Plenty of people are already paying that price, and a lot of them are voting Republican because too damned many Democrats fail to stand up to it. Stop doing that.

Jeanne has posted about the upcoming Florida voting problems, but check out the post in the comment thread from tilda with the transcript excerpt from Capital Gang in which Bob Novak says: I think there are plans under way by the Democrats to try to steal this election...

I hate it when I want to link a post and I can't get the permalink to work so I'm afraid to use it. It's at Emphasis Added and it's called On Message: I really appreciate the tremendous job that President Bush has done. He has succeeded where Reagan and his father, not to mention Bill Clinton, had failed, and achieved the ultimate political accomplishment of our time. That's right, he has brought the Democratic Party together and caused it to articulate, for the first time in two generations, a triumphant and affirmative liberal vision for America that sounds like America.

Next time you see someone saying that Kerry hasn't told us enough about his policies or shown a real difference between himself and Bush, point them to this article at Mother Jones that explains it in simple terms even members of the press corps could understand. Kevin Drum recommends it.
22:22 BST

Sgt. Joel Gomez awakes

A solider's new life, by Stacy St. Clair in The Daily Herald:

He lies there frozen on his bed as his parents and doctors explain why he has been in the hospital for the past three weeks. The information comes quickly, and parts of it confuse him after a long coma. There had been an accident in Iraq. His tank rolled into a river near Bayji, and he had been under water for 10 minutes. His spine is broken in two places, and some internal organs have been severely damaged. He will not walk again. If he gains enough arm mobility to brush his teeth, it will be a major accomplishment. In the ensuing weeks, Joel Gomez will become a nameless number in military records and media reports. History will now refer to him as one of the 308 U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq during the month of March.
Quoted from Today in Iraq. Every time I look at that damned site it breaks my heart. (However, there is an amusing picture.)
21:10 BST

Reverend Al

I was hoping by now I could post a link for the video of Al Sharpton's speech, but I never found it on C-Span (what's that about?) and I haven't seen anyone else posting one. You can read it here (via), but if anyone knows where there's a stream for it, it'd be mighty thoughty of ya (as Festus would say) to send the link my way.

Oh, and in case anyone still can't work this out, the Rev. did not "bash Bush." (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Update: Mark Evanier writes:

Were you really unable to find the video of Sharpton's speech at the Democratic Convention or did I misunderstand? Because I found it with no problem at the C-Span website. Just go to the "video search" window, enter "Sharpton" and scroll down a bit.

This direct link might work, depending on what kind of browser you have: [Link]

Yes, Mark, I really am that lame.

And Scorpio has a different one:


Al Sharpton is the last entry on this page. All speeches can be accessed via the tabs at the top, so now you have Obama, Clinton -- everyone.

Thanks, guys!

(I haven't checked them out yet so I can't tell you if one is better than the other. Further Update: I got a nice clear stream from the Dems2004 site.)
16:31 BST

The illiberal media

I'm trying to find this Brian Knowlton article from the front page of Friday's International Herald Tribune on the Friday index and it's not there. Which is a funny thing, I think, since this is a five-column head at the top of the page over a three-column color photo. I mean, that's kind of a prominent position. So finally I google the first sentence, which is what got me going in the first place, and I find the IHT page for it exists, it just isn't indexed. And for about the eighth time since opening Friday's paper I am thinking to myself, When are these people going to hire some copy-editors?

Anyway, here it is:

Kerry taking his case to a still-skeptical nation

BOSTON After four days in which Democratic militants here have worked to build a crescendo of partisan support for Senator John Kerry, the candidate himself was taking the stage Thursday to make the case for his election to a broader, more skeptical national audience.

You know, a lot of people are pretty skeptical about George Bush, but I don't think I've seen any headlines using that word about him. But it was the phrase "Democratic militants" that really got me. Democratic militants?

Explain this to me: The Republicans have literally said they are at war with us, that this is a "culture war"; they use extreme language in which they overtly talk about "crushing" Democrats, even use rape metaphors mixed into their eliminationist rhetoric, and in all this time - and we are talking a good decade or more, now - I've never seen the RNC described as "militant".

Look, we're talking about ordinary Democratic activists here, not the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers - who, by the way, are the sort of people the word "militant" was once reserved for, before we started to see "militant feminists" applied to the likes of Susan Brownmiller. It made sense when referring to people who where literally walking around showily-armed, like the Panthers, or actually building bombs, like the Weathermen, but it was already getting pretty over-the-top when applied to feminists who merely used words. But since when is it "militant" to be going to conventions, nominating party candidates, and trying to win elections? Isn't that what both parties routinely do?

"Militant" seems to be a term that is reserved for the leftward side of the spectrum, even though most of the people with guns and bombs - especially those who actually use them - are on the right. The people declaring war are on the right. The people who are shamelessly and publicly trying to overturn the Constitution are on the right. The people who actually have armies in training camps, overtly aimed at attacks on what they regard as a liberal disease, are on the right. The people who shoot doctors and other clinic workers are on the right. Whoever sent anthrax to Congress in an attempt to assassinate members of the Democratic leadership obviously comes from the right.

So shouldn't we be asking the IHT why it is acceptable to refer to ordinary Democratic activists as "militants", rather than referring to the RNC this way?

Meanwhile, you can go watch what Glen and Jodi had to say about the campaign on NYT TV. Nothing really new there but you get lots of photos and one big panoramic shot from the convention.
11:50 BST

The horror show

Bloodsuckers of public broadcasting and Novakula.

Bonus Pants on Fire Quiz

Those positive, unifying, Republican messages.

Worthless promises
01:41 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, August 2004

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Is the media in denial?
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And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.