The Sideshow

Archive for June 2004

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Wednesday, 30 June 2004

Lizz's Scream

Lizz Winstead is one of the hosts of Air America's nine-to-noon show, Unfiltered. I heard her do a breathless rant on the show this morning and I enjoyed it so much I asked for a copy of the text:

I don't know if you've noticed, but it seems that lately more and more Americans are stopping to smell the roses on the freshly dug graves, and after taking a measured, reasoned look at our President, more and more of them are concluding, "Wow, he's a big, lying sack of crap, isn't he?" But this hasn't stopped the Karl Rove spin machine from getting more and more ridiculous. They've already been trying to convince us that a fast-food gig is now a manufacturing job. So what's next? Are they going to try to get us to wear safety goggles when we eat Big Macs? And remember when Bush called himself the Education President? Well, nobody is going to believe that anymore, so what's his next scheme? Issue an Amber Alert every time he leaves a child behind? And what about his Clean Air Initiative? Who knew that he meant that gasoline prices would get so high that nobody could afford to drive? It looks like when it comes to spinning their lies, the Bushies have hit a wall; well, we're going to need a wall to list the names of all who have died because of his corrupt policies. Bush's neo-con job just won't work anymore. The Professor Harold Hill routine is wearing thin. The American public is finally starting to realize that the marching band uniforms are never going to arrive.
Oh, we got trouble, right here in River City.
23:06 BST

Different drummers

Atrios is recommending this Shorter Tom Friedman from Busy, Busy, Busy, but the actual column is really strange to read.

Alan Bostick asks: "Is it tech support? Is it phone sex? Is it both?" It's Ask The Tech Girl.
21:16 BST

More good stuff to read

You have my deepest apologies for having failed to bring to your attention this wonderfully snarky post by the fabulous Michael Bérubé, who has done it again.

Ken McLeod: The trouble with liberals [...] is that they often mistake a fight for an argument, and the right never does.

Bush's rural support softening, and Kerry leading among Catholics: At the risk of stating the obvious, Karl Rove doesn't look like such a genius anymore, does he?

Jim Hightower on The Ethics of "The Hammer" - Tom Delay.

An amusing action alert from John Emerson. (Go to DemocracyNet and punch in your zipcode and find out about your local candidates.)
20:08 BST

Recommended reading

Mirage in the Desert, by Michael Ignatieff in The New York Times:

To deflect their own accountability, American leaders confidently proclaim that the guilty ones are just a few rotten apples in an otherwise sweet American bushel basket. We are told that the abusers do not represent America. The reality, as always, is more painful. Go out and ask Americans what they think about Abu Ghraib. An ABC News/Washington Post poll recently found that 46 percent of Americans believed that physical abuse short of torture is sometimes acceptable, while 35 percent thought that outright torture is acceptable in some cases.

Again, you will say: Let's not exaggerate. Let's not lose our nerve here. But no other democracy is so exposed by these painful moral juxtapositions, because no other nation has made a civil religion of its self-belief. The abolition of cruel and unusual punishment was a founding premise of that civil religion. This was how the fledgling republic distinguished itself from the cruel tyrannies of Europe. From this sense of exceptionalism grew an exceptional sense of mission. President Reagan's funeral was a high Mass of rededication to that eternal mission. The question is whether these reaffirmations still inspire Americans to be better than they actually are, or whether the nation's rhetoric has degenerated into a ritual concealment of what the country has actually become.

Via Amygdala.
18:36 BST

Liberal agenda

More Honesty Please says Matthew Yglesias:

Andrew Sullivan and Gene Healy both denounce Hillary Clinton's insidious plan to "take things away from you [a group of wealth people] on behalf of the common good." And I'm glad they did it. If I may plug my column again this is a debate that liberals will win every day of the week. And it's the debate we should be having -- this is the real ideological divide in the country.
And here's the nut graf from that article:
Put this way, we can see what the real debate in America is all about. There's one party that wants the government to do more to clean the environment, to protect workers' rights, and to raise the funds necessary to spend more on health care and education while narrowing the deficit, and there's another party that's ideologically committed to doing none of these things.
I think Matthew somewhat over-values the current improvement in the economy, such as it is, and underrates the impact a president's policies can have on the economy, both short- and long-term, but I don't think he's wrong about this other stuff.

What worries me quite a bit is that the kind of "improvement" we have now can be manipulated and can easily mislead people into thinking things are not so bad.
16:27 BST

Things I saw

Some idiot at NRO thinks he has proven that same-sex marriage hurts the institution of marriage overall. At Alas, a blog, Lucia picks it apart.

Nathan Newman says the decision in the Barbie case represents a more important victory than some people realize: Not because the court declared that the artist-defendant, who had created photographs condemning consumerism using images of Barbie, could not be sued for copyright violations, since his work was protected under fair use. [...] Corporate use of copyright and trademark laws are destroying the First Amendment every day, as courts threaten to bury defendants in mountains of legal bills. Hell, yes! It's great to see a judge criticize litigants for bringing forward a lousy case because they knew they could out-spend their victim.

Kevin Drum: So is Fahrenheit 9/11 unfair, full of innuendo and cheap shots, and guilty of specious arguments? Sure. But that just makes it the perfect complement to the arguments of many in the pro-war crowd itself. Perhaps the reason they're so mad is that they see more than a little of themselves in it.

Infinity continues to back Howard Stern

How the press has flip-flopped on Kerry (via)
13:00 BST

Tuesday, 29 June 2004


It's Ring, you Moron

I hate to be pedantic, but this "let freedom reign" thing bugs the hell out of me.

The common phrase is "let freedom ring" not "let freedom reign."

A Google search turns up 2,090 references to "let freedom reign" one of the top links coming from a white supremacy web site called "Panzerfaust Records" that features a bunch of racist lyrics. "My Country Tis of Thee" is not amongst them, as you might imagine.

-- Digby

23:42 BST


More reasons to shop at Costco

Michelangelo Signorile: Wag the Fag: Will Washington's gay-marriage cannonball hit its target in Boston?

Krugman: Who Lost Iraq? What the figures don't describe is the toxic mix of ideological obsession and cronyism that lie behind that dismal performance.

Michael Connery: 'We don't need Bush to fix our culture'

Oh, no, it's Dick Morris!

The end of sentencing guidelines

Ellen Goodman on The dots that don't connect (via)
19:19 BST

Max speaking

Doesn't he look distinguished?

Anyway, you can actually hear him talk about privatization a little bit, and you can also read about how Reagan had to deal with the crazy wing of his party, or participate in Max's latest contest.
17:20 BST


I'm waiting for my doc's office to open. Here's some stuff to read.

Anthony Lewis on Making Torture Legal (via)

And Jeralyn and everyone else are linking to Scotusblog for the big news of the day, which is that the Supreme Court decided Bush was not king after all.

I haven't seen Fahrenheit 9/11 yet but I'm already sick of pompous oafs who entirely misunderstand the process of trying to fill in the gaps. Moore presents the footage you should have been seeing on your screens all along. This in itself is a good thing. (Via Diana Moon, who had a little brain-fart and consistently refers to the film as "Fahrenheit 411", and whose permalinks seem to be useless. Can't disagree with her about Brooks, either.)

Of course, F9/11 isn't about cinema, it's about something that should be a bit more important to us. Everyone is going to see what significance they want, I suppose; The Atlantic thinks it's what Bush's behavior on that fateful morning says about his lack of sand.

Bob Herbert on the mire of American healthcare.

CrazySoph sent a few of us a heads-up on the latest efforts of Bush & friends to keep everyone ignorant about safer sex. I've been a bit preoccupied but Jeanne has it covered. Watch out for that "condoms don't work" meme, folks. They certainly don't work if you don't use 'em.

Fred Kaplan says Bush bargains badly: Kim Jong-il outwits W. on nukes. It's a bit late to finally adopt the Clinton plan.
08:24 BST

Monday, 28 June 2004

Republicans try to get it right, fail

Hey, remember that ad from the GWB site that looked like it was comparing Democrats to Hitler? Well, they've edited it a bit to make their point more clear, but it's still lousy.
17:39 BST

Buncha links

Today's cynicism alert from Air America's Morning Sedition: Did the administration decide to hold the phony Iraq handover two days early in order to knock down the top headline that Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was breaking records?

Emperor photographed in no clothes. Bush photos censored.

Years ago, Isaac Asimov analyzed "the Reagan Doctrine", and came to the conclusion that it was full of contradictions. Rantivation has the whole thing, and says: a quarter-century almost now. Amazing. In all that time we've only fallen farther into the morass..

Your time is up, George - Will Hutton in The Observer says neoconservatism has eroded universalist principles in the west, thus dooming our foreign policies: It is no accident, for example, that the election of Ronald Reagan launched a fivefold increase in the numbers held in American prisons or that the profound growth of inequality also began with him. Whether it's criminal justice or tax policy, Britain and the industrialised West have been profoundly affected by the retreat of American liberalism. (via)

Frank Rich wonders: Is John Ashcroft The Best Goebbels of All?
13:36 BST

Doing it right

Jim Hightower on A corporation that breaks the greed mold:

Do big time CEOs - no matter how compassionate and cuddly they might be personally - have to be SOBs on the job?

Yes, says the conventional wisdom of greater CorporateWorld. The bottom-line dictates that wages and benefits be slashed and that offshoring be pursued with a vengeance. It's not personal, just business. "Look Ye to Wal-mart," boom the Market Gods, directing CEOs to follow the anti-labor, low-wage, no benefit, move-it-all-to-China ethic of this giant. The gods decree that no one can out-compete Wal-Mart, so best to imitate the beast.

Apparently, Jim Sinegal has been going to the wrong church. He's CEO of Costco, the profitable warehouse club retailer that's fast growing across the country. He takes a shockingly heretical view of his job, boasting of his company's fair treatment of employees: "We pay much better than Wal-Mart," Sinegal says. "That's not altruism. It's good business."

Indeed, Costco's pay is much, much, much better - a full-time Costco clerk or warehouse worker earns more than $41,000 a year, plus getting terrific health-care coverage. Wal-Mart workers get barely a third of that pay, plus a lousy health-care plan. Costco even has unions!

Yet, Costco's labor costs are only about half of Wal-Mart's. How's that possible? One reason is that Costco workers feel valued, which adds enormously to their productivity, and they don't leave - employee turnover is a tiny fraction of Wal-Mart's rapidly revolving door.

I'm so old, that sounds normal to me.
02:04 BST

Sunday, 27 June 2004


I had been completely unaware of Bubba Ho-Tep until now, but the DVD came out last month and some of the reviews I'm seeing make it sound like a lot of fun - and anyway, I always did like Bruce Campbell in Xena.

Media Matters catches two lying liars at once, as Bill O'Reilly gives new life to former Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey's claim that he was prevented from speaking at the 1992 Democratic convention because he was anti-choice, when in fact other anti-choice people did speak at the convention, and Casey was really omitted because he refused to endorse the ticket.

Skippy is enjoying the fact that Disney won't be benefitting from Fahrenheit 9/11's record-breaking success.

The NYT says 'Hunting' Hits Its Target: EVERY STORY needs a villain, and the story spun in "The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill Clinton" is no exception. In Harry Thomason and Nickolas Perry's fascinating documentary on what Hillary Rodham Clinton once called the "vast right-wing conspiracy" to discredit her husband, the bad guy is one Ken Starr, the former chief independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation. Scoobie Davis liked it a lot and says see the film, bring a friend, and recommend it to others.

"On the Senate floor, Dick Cheney flipped out and told Senator Pat Leahy to go f-himself. Can you believe that? Aren't these the same guys trying to fine Howard Stern for bad language?" - Jay Leno (via)
18:54 BST

In the press

Robin Cook thinks Downing Street has White House disease: Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has accused senior Downing Street staff of suffering from the "rather dangerous delusion" that they do not need Foreign Office advice. [...] He added that "in fairness, a whole range of advice was given by Britain to the United States which was ignored by the President".

John Gorenfeld links two excellent articles on Sun Myun Moon's coronation and his empire and how it has insinuated itself into national politics. He says that the article from Black Entertainment Television is, "one of the best articles on Moon written since the 1980s," and that Dennis Roddy's column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is "outstanding."

David Corn (of The Nation) has written to The Washington Post to give them a well-deserved spanking: Your paper tries to have it both ways. After chastising Bush critics, it acknowledges that Cheney has overstated "rather tentative ties" between bin Laden and Hussein. But if your paper believes the links were "rather tentative," how can it endorse Cheney's use of the term "long-established ties"?

The Chicago Tribune has a feature on Sy Hersh, The Muckraker: "We're living in dark times," he says, gently rubbing his gray-thatched temples.
17:23 BST

Your Sunday morning sermon

I was going to link to this letter by a Paul Kokoski in Friday's IHT, but they seem to have printed Thursday's lettercolumn twice instead, so I only have the paper version. It refers to an article I linked earlier, and is a prime example of the kind of nuttiness you can expect from the sort of person who can't stand the idea of going through an hour of life without some gross display of false piety:

In questioning the Bush administration's "political theory of personal good and evil" and at the same time suggesting that the Bible and the U.S. Constitution are not compatible, Robert O. Keohane and Anne-Marie Slaughter ("Bush's mistaken view of U.S. democracy," Views, June 23) take unfair aim at religion in American Democracy.
Of course, the article doesn't say that the Constitution and the Bible are incompatible. (Unfortunately, it doesn't point out that Bush's view is incompatible with the Gospels, either.)
In coining the phrase "separation of church and state in 1801, Thomas Jefferson never intended that social and political issues be divorced from codes of morality. He merely meant that the U.S. government be prevented from establishing one or another church as the official religion.
No one said anything about divorcing social and political issues from codes of morality, either. Some people would say that someone who has no problem with torturing people is the one who is divorced from morality, though.
The article represents a growing trend in the world to banish religious principles from public debate; to discount and marginalize persons with religious faith. But history has shown that a democracy without religion sooner or later turns into anarchy.
Yes, well we remember all those atheist democracies that have fallen to anarchy in the past. Why, there must be dozens of them. I just can't seem to think of one at the moment.

But wait - where is this "growing trend in the world to banish religious principles from public debate"? Religious posturing, sure - it is offensive to many believers as well as unbelievers to see politicians pretending that their public invocations of the deity and holy books are a reasonable substitute for morality. A real dedication to morality would surely place higher priority on walking the walk than on talking the talk.

The idea that going a few hours or days without some public demonstration of piety represents the eradication of religion is just plain whacky. America is packed with religious references jumping out of your TV screen constantly, and it's a sad commentary on the spiritual life of the country that so many believers appear to go into a panic if they aren't surrounded by them. Insecure or what?

Meanwhile, I understand Amy Sullivan's desire to see the Kerry campaign become a force for good in the effort to remind the public that the Bushistas don't own Christianity, but it seems to me that she's showing signs herself of Not Enough Religion Syndrome. Kerry's church attendance and quotes from the Bible are still in the news, and there really isn't much need to hammer people with it all the time.

(I'm not sure whose side to take over this, though. If you're worried about the Kerry campaign "screwing up", I'd think you'd want to avoid screwing them up by offering the righties more phoney ammunition. I don't like the way the campaign reacted - does seem a bit Bushian - but still....)
11:07 BST


I've always thought it was interesting that the mass murder of September 11 was allegedly committed by a multi-millionaire. We always say it was committed by a "terrorist" or by an Islamic fundamentalist or an "Arab," but we never define Osama by his rightful title: multi-millionaire. Why have we never read a headline saying, "3,000 Killed by Multi-Millionaire"? It would be a correct headline, would it not? No part of it is untrue - Osama bin Laden has assets totalling at least $30 million; he is a multi-millionaire. So why isn't that the way we see this person, as a rich fuck who kills people? Why didn't that become the reason for profiling potential terrorists? Instead of rounding up suspicious Arabs, why don't we say, "Oh my God, a multi-millionaire killed 3,000 people! Round up the multi-millionaires! Throw them all in jail! No charges! No trials! Deport the millionaires!"
-- Michael Moore, Dude, Where's My Country? (Penguin edition, p116)

01:19 BST

Saturday, 26 June 2004

A great American statesman

It would really be worth your time to watch Al Gore's speech on Freedom and Security. It's over an hour long, but it's not boring, and it always adds a great deal - even if you've already read it - to see him deliver it. He gives a pretty detailed accounting of how the administration has abused our Constitution and our rights, and also walks you through the means by which ordinary investigation would have made it possible to round up the entire 9/11 hijack team before they made it to the planes, had they considered it worth their while to exercise due diligence.

And he also makes clear that though the administration's intrusions on our liberties do more harm than good to the fight against terrorism, their plan clearly shows the intention to make suspension of the Constitution permanent.

And he calls for the Patriot Act to be repealed.

Oh, yeah, he also quotes my very favorite line from the Bible.
18:26 BST


She grew up under communist rule, and yet...

She puts on her jacket. Unlike the advertisement-strewn clothes of many players, it has just one sticker: "Beat Bush."

"I'm mortified by the fact that he may win the presidency again. We have a regime every bit as oppressive as communism. It's very depressing. We're force-fed propaganda and lies, and it's astonishing people don't question it. The government only tells you what they decide you should know, and it may not be exactly the truth because they don't think we can handle it. B-S! If you're loyal to Bush, you're golden. If you're not, your career is dead in the water. I've been called unpatriotic [one TV interviewer suggested she return to Czechoslovakia], which is going back to McCarthy days. I thought democracy meant you can say what you think.

-- Martina Navratilova, Radio Times, 26 June-2 July

(That's your web exclusive, by the way, since the Radio Times doesn't post articles on the web.)
16:44 BST

The kids are alright

The Convention Will be Televised: A melding of live performance, film, panel discussions, and rallies brought some 3000 delegates and participants to Newark, NJ last week for the National Hip Hop Political Convention. The group, which represented an impressive cross section of the hip hop generation, came together from urban areas around the nation to educate and inspire one another's activism and grassroots involvement.

Rolling Stone gives five stars to Beastie Boys' new album, To the 5 Boroughs, a love song to New York and heavy Bush-bashing album. More than anything, To the 5 Boroughs is the Beasties' valentine to the city where they, and rap, were born. It is a brash, passionate toast to what we lost on 9/11 (in the cover illustration, the Twin Towers are still standing) and what survives: in memory, on the ground.
15:13 BST

Kinder and gentler than what?

During Reagan Week, Bartcop said something that's worth remembering:

When Bush the Smarter assumed the presidency from Reagan, he declared that his administration would be a "kinder, gentler" administration.

Why did he do that?

Because Reagan was such a mean, harsh and heartless bastard and Bush wanted it on the record that America was tired of that kind of "leadership."

Kids watching today's funeral political rally might come away with the idea that Reagan was a decent, caring man, but that would be a false assumption.

Bush lauded Reagan's "legacy of patriotism and optimism" as if no other leader had ever been patriotic or optimistic, which is, let's face it, kind of weird, as if Kennedy had not made us feel we could do anything, as if Clinton had not told us to keep thinking about the future. But perhaps not as weird as Bush's own kind of "patriotism and optimism" in which he seems to believe that no matter what sort of mess he makes it's all coming up roses. The big news over the last couple of days was Bush's utterly unwelcome visit to Dublin, where even the Irish people are stunned to find themselves feeling less than enthusiastic over the presence of an American president in Eire. Conservatives may like to kid themselves that contempt for Bush has something to do with contempt for America, but the Irish just love us, they still regard Clinton as a hero, and they'd still come out to cheer him if he went there today.

It's easy to see why. You only have to watch Carole Coleman's interview with Bush to see why this childish, obtuse man turns people off the world over. The fantasy on the right is that a media that does not trouble to put a pretty face on Bush's ugly performance is somehow hostile to our country, but for everyone else it's just a question of why American conservatives are so unwilling to see through the pro-Bush propaganda they get from Fox News.

Bush's childish performance fits all too neatly with his childish view of the world, one in which he never has to make moral choices at all because he simply takes for granted that if he does it, it's right, no matter whose life is made miserable, no matter how many die. Even Bush's idea of Christianity seems weird, as if he alone among men is incapable of error, and "We're all sinners" is, y'know, just an expression where he's concerned. But he only gets away with it because so many enablers are prepared to make excuses for him.

Update: Via Atrios, who finds this:

THE White House has lodged a complaint with the Irish Embassy in Washington over RTE journalist Carole Coleman's interview with US President George Bush.

And it is believed the President's staff have now withdrawn from an exclusive interview which was to have been given to RTE this morning by First Lady Laura Bush.

It is understood that both RTE and the Department of Foreign Affairs were aware of the exclusive arrangement, scheduled for 11am today. However, when RTE put Ms Coleman's name forward as interviewer, they were told Mrs Bush would no longer be available.

The Irish Independent learned last night that the White House told Ms Coleman that she interrupted the president unnecessarily and was disrespectful.

She also received a call from the White House in which she was admonished for her tone.

So imperious that he shows respect to almost no one, he demands it from others when he has not earned it. You know, "childish" just doesn't begin to cover it.

(And it occurs to me that it's just possible the reason he was so nice to Clinton, and actually looked natural doing it, was that he realized he was in the presence of a real president.)

Further update: From Atrios: "The policy of the White House is that you submit your questions in advance, so they had my questions for about three days." -Carol Coleman, RTE. Watch it here.
13:53 BST

What the papers say

The Washington Post thinks the Supremes are showing double-standards with regard to the deference owed to the executive, which apparently is different for someone who is not named Clinton. Also in the Post, Thomas J. Healey says Social Security might be healthy enough to take care of the boomers after all, right-wing fruit-bat Charles Krauthammer rewrites Clinton's history, and E.J. Dionne explains why you should like Barack Obama (this article was published before his opponent dropped out of the race).

In The New York Times, Bob Herbert notices a discrepancy between reality and AMA claims of a "crisis" caused by "frivolous" law suits (The newspaper reported that an analysis of the data showed that malpractice payments in New Jersey had declined by 21 percent from 2001 to 2003. But malpractice insurance premiums surged over the same period); Paul Krugman says that whether the administration's phony numbers that obscured the rise in terrorism are due to incompetence or dishonesty (the latter possibility being entirely in character for them), it's just no excuse; William Fisher wisely says it is stupid for the music industry to hinder new media; and Kembrew McLeod says - also wisely - that the industry is making a mistake in blaming file-sharing for its problems.

In The Los Angeles Times, Max Boot makes so many errors in his understanding of either Clinton's behavior or Bush's programs (only a nitwit thinks No Child's Behind Left or the so-called "drug benefit" are even remotely the sort of thing liberals would like to see) that I could hardly begin to enumerate them (Shorter Max Boot here - but don't miss this while you're there), and Mike Farrell says that Limbaugh Has No Place on the Front Line - or at least opposing views should be available to our troops in Iraq on radio provided by tax-payers' dollars.
02:50 BST

Friday, 25 June 2004


Air America's Morning Sedition pointed out a funny thing that happened this week. The news media made a big deal of the fact that John Kerry took a day off of campaigning to vote to preserve veterans' benefits - and that the Republicans deliberately delayed the vote so that Kerry would be forced to take an extra day off - but they didn't seem sufficiently interested in the subject to tell us what happened to the bill. Nancy Pelosi explains how Republicans support our troops:

"In the House yesterday, Congressman Dave Obey proposed a bill that would have provided $2.3 billion to maintain quality health care for veterans and would have improved the quality of life for military personnel and their families. Republicans roundly rejected it.

"In the Senate, Senator Tom Daschle proposed an amendment to establish mandatory funding for veterans' health care, which I support. Republicans roundly rejected it.

Michael Moore fights back against RNC censorship efforts: The Federal Election Commission (FEC), an independent bipartisan body responsible for enforcing U.S. election laws, is considering the question of whether political documentary film-makers should be allowed to have radio or television ads within 30 days of a political primary or within 60 days of a general election.

The New Republic blog, &c., points to this interesting flier:

Hi, this is _______ with Citizens for a Sound Economy...

I am calling because we have a chance to stop John Kerry from Winning in Oregon.

As you have probably heard, Ralph Nader is trying to make the ballot in Oregon for the November Election. He is going to be in town this weekend to host a nominating party on Saturday night at Benson High School.

Ralph Nader needs 1,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, and we need to ensure he gets them...

Citizens for a Sound Economy, I learn from Kevin Drum, is led by right-wing fruit-bat Dick Armey. (Rittenhouse Review has more on the nature of Ralph's candidacy. And, sorry, folks, but third parties are not really that good a thing. How do you think Margaret Thatcher stayed in office despite the fact that 60% of the electorate voted against her?)

Kevin is also one of many people to comment on the other Dick's unfriendly language toward Senator Patrick Leahy. I guess the RNC decided Cheney hadn't provided a good encore to his "big-time" remark and was overdue.
23:28 BST

Things I saw

In case you were wondering: PNH has put up a post at Electrolite explaining why he hasn't posted lately. Wish I could see the new place....

Right-wingers know things are going swimmingly in Iraq.

Brad DeLong discovers Clinton's secret - arithmetic - and despairs that George Bush is unfamiliar with it. And Richard Cohen makes Brad groan by forgetting history he lived through.

Larry King interviewed Bill Clinton, and there are a lot of great quotes from President Bill, but I enjoyed this: KING: We're back. This is the president's first live interview since the publication of the book. And it's an honor to have him with us. He's discussed a lot of things already, so we're going to try to skirt other areas. I like to hear the phrase "the president" used to refer to someone who was actually elected to the office.

A message from Kim Jong-Il (Thanks to Debbie Notkin for the tip.)
16:19 BST

A lucky country

When we Americans first began, our biggest danger was clearly in view: we knew from the bitter experience with King George III that the most serious threat to democracy is usually the accumulation of too much power in the hands of an executive, whether he be a king or a president. Our ingrained American distrust of concentrated power has very little to do with the character or persona of the individual who wields that power. It is the power itself that must be constrained, checked, dispersed and carefully balanced, in order to ensure the survival of freedom. In addition, our founders taught us that public fear is the most dangerous enemy of democracy because under the right circumstances it can trigger the temptation of those who govern themselves to surrender that power to someone who promises strength and offers safety, security and freedom from fear.
Having painstakingly created the intricate design of America, our founders knew intimately both its strengths and weaknesses, and during their debates they not only identified the accumulation of power in the hands of the executive as the long-term threat which they considered to be the most serious, but they also worried aloud about one specific scenario in which this threat might become particularly potent -- that is, when war transformed America's president into our commander in chief, they worried that his suddenly increased power might somehow spill over its normal constitutional boundaries and upset the delicate checks and balances they deemed so crucial to the maintenance of liberty.
Thus, for all these reasons, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have decided to fight to the rhetorical death over whether or not there's a meaningful connection between Iraq and al-Qaida. They think that if they lose that argument and people see the truth, then they'll not only lose support for the controversial decision to go to war, but also lose some of the new power they've picked up from the Congress and the courts, and face harsh political consequences at the hands of the American people. As a result, President Bush is now intentionally misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

If he is not lying, if they genuinely believe that, that makes them unfit in battle with al-Qaida. If they believe these flimsy scraps, then who would want them in charge? Are they too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick.

-- Al Gore, 24 June 2004

13:12 BST

Thursday, 24 June 2004

So Nazi comparisons are bad, eh?

But not so bad that the GOP isn't allowed to compare Gephardt, Gore, Dean, and Moore to Hitler. These people scream when bloggers joke about it, but, just go to the GWB website and watch their little film. (Heard it on the Randi Rhodes show, apparently via Don of Take Back the Media.)
23:59 BST

Even more things to read

Thanks, I needed someone to explain Mitt Romney to me. (The Fineman/Imus thing was entertaining, too.)

Wendy McElroy: Is Ralph Nader the Y2K of the upcoming election? That's the latest wisdom on how the much-ballyhooed Nader will effect the November elections: namely, not at all. So many people are abandoning him that there is now a Repentant Nader Voter site. (Also: Have it your way.)

The Long Now Foundation provides free downloads of speeches by Bruce Sterling, Brian Eno, and others - the Sterling speech ("The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole") is new; Bill Humphries saw it live last week. (Also: Is this how to raise people who hate free speech?)

Is McCain a Fraud? by J. Russell Tyldesley. The answer is, "Yes," of course, but on learning that this commentary was supplied to The Baltimore Chronicle by "an insurance executive from Catonsville, Md.," I couldn't help but think, "Boy, Bush is in real trouble if he's even losing insurance executives." (via)
22:39 BST

Things to read

I don't really think there's much point in signing an open letter to Bush, but it does include this reminder of another one of Bush's phony moments of "compassion": In your 2000 campaign, you promised that if you became President, "people will be able to take their HMO insurance company to court." Yet your administration sided with the HMOs instead of the American people when the issue was recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rev. Moon's Crowning on Capitol Hill Brings Disclaimers: NPR's Melissa Block talks with John Gorenfeld, a freelance writer for and writer of the blog "Where in Washington, D.C., Is Sun Myung Moon?," about a peculiar ceremony held at the Dirksen Senate Office Building this past March. In the course of the event, Moon declared himself the Messiah. Most congressmen who attended the event are now distancing themselves from Moon and his claims. (There is an audio stream if you want to listen.)

Bill Clinton was interviewed on Charlie Rose's show; the archive isn't up yet but check here if you want to hear it. Meanwhile, via Poynter, I see that the NYT must have been pretty embarrassed by the dismal review they printed the other day of Clinton's book by a Clinton-hater, because there's another review up by Larry McMurtry, who praises it as "the richest American presidential autobiography" and says Clinton is a much better writer than his predecessors. I gather this one wasn't supposed to be released for another couple of weeks, but they took a hammering over the earlier one. I like this quote: During the silly time when Clinton was pilloried for wanting to debate the meaning of "is," I often wondered why no one pointed out that he was educated by Jesuits, for whom the meaning of "is" is a matter not lightly resolved.

Moore's Magic: 9/11 Electrifies, by Rex Reed: The movie begins with the awesome night in 2000 when the U. S. Supreme Court decided the election, not the American voters, then unveils footage that was never reported on TV of the Bush inauguration limousine being pelted with raw eggs. Instead of the traditional walk to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he was so afraid to leave the car that he became the first President in history who was forced to sneak into the White House through a back door.

Lis Riba looks at what children mean in the gay marriage argument. Meanwhile, on The Daily Show...

Cass Sunstein posts at Balkanization about a curious clause in Iraq's interim constitution that gives the Iraqis something most Americans would dearly love to have - and may have identified its source.
16:46 BST

Saving a nation

Partly it's that we've gone straight past "Unamerican" to "Un-constitutional monarchy." So much for the notion of "benevolent hegemony" as conducing to national virtue, says Jim Henley. He identifies the Republican party as The Enemy and declares that there can no longer be any reason for preferring them to Democrats.

Dave Trowbridge concurs, saying that voting for the Libertarian Party is also a diversion that libertarians can no longer afford; we all need to send the unsubtle message that, "this kind of systematic corruption of American values will not be tolerated."

Later, Jim says it's not so much neocons as "national greatness" cons who are the real problem: They are not to be trusted with the nation's defense because they are not trying to defend it. They're trying to purge the place.
13:18 BST

The wisdom of blogs

We have a press corps that, by and large, acts as if they are covering Hollywood and not Washington.

Nothing more frightening

This is what occupation looks like.

Mission implausible

Can one believe in doing what God wants and believe in the Gipper at the same time?

Depression bites.
00:29 BST

Wednesday, 23 June 2004

Your political world

Clarence Thomas' Take on the Law Rooted in 18th Century

Conservatives pretend they don't hate America. Look, if you're criticizing the values of the majority of Americans all the time, you hate America. Jesse Taylor is wise to these guys.

A number of people have observed that Democrats have a chance to make some headway in Texas. Charles Kuffner contributes to the brainstorming.

The politics of power - David Neiwert looks at the big picture in light of the Enron tapes.
20:43 BST

More in the media

Rob Humenik was listening to a Pacifica segment with special guest Chris Bell, who has filed an ethics complaint against his colleague Tom DeLay. About five minutes into the show, after Rep. Bell briefly laid out the substance of his complaint, Gerry started to take calls, and who should call in by Rep John Culberson, a Republican and backer of Tom DeLay. Hilarity ensued.

Simbaud at King of Zembla is pleased to see a film that brings up something that has been bugging him for a long time: Donald Rumsfeld "sat on the board of a company that sold nuclear reactors to North Korea."

Todd Gitlin says It Was a Very Bad Year for the media.

Shorter William Safire and a round-up of a few other people who also noticed that he is a crackpot.

More on Fahrenheit 9/11:
Michael Moore tried to give Bradbury the apology that Bradbury did not deserve, but there wasn't exactly a gracious acceptance.
And, via Atrios, we see that Spikey Isikoff is lying again, and Michael Moore and Craig Unger are calling him (and Newsweek) on it.
18:44 BST

What's the temperature at which film burns?

In Salon, Michael Moore terrorizes the Bushies! - John Gorenfeld (our favorite Moon-watcher) says the right-wing is trying hard to keep people from seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, but it's not working.

But maybe that's why we probably can't expect to see the film this summer at one of the world's largest cinema chains, which is being purchased by The Carlyle Group, a part of the Bush Family Empire.
15:51 BST

Al's Flag Day speech

President Gore was speaking in New Hampshire:

"Now in so many places in the world so many people holding out the American flag of freedom will be met with catcalls and cynicism," Gore said.
Another article picks up on different quotes:
"They have taken this country down a dead-end road," he said. "They have broken promises, and they have demonstrated contempt for some of the trademarks of democracy. . . . This is truly an administration that has broken the mold."
"What this threatens is the very spirit of America," Gore practically shouted. "What we stand for. . . . This changes, for many people in the world, the meaning of America. That's what this election is about . Is this the United States of America or not?"
I've noticed a couple people lately saying that Al Gore is currently fulfilling the role of a vice presidential candidate, making the hard attacks so that the presidential candidate can stay "above the fray" and stick to more positive campaigning. Whether this is intentional or not, he's doing a pretty good job of it, drawing the fire while Kerry takes his time. Kerry has a rep as a guy who hangs back until coming in for the kill. We shall see.
14:40 BST

Thoughts while reading Matt's weblog

A lot of people think child abuse is just about sex, but there is much more physical violence against children, by their own parents, and it leads to fatalities more often than you might think. Jeff Jarvis bears watching.

Note that I never produced a single sentence associating Jarvis with child abuse. But if Bush apologists want to play this game, perhaps they deserve a taste of it themselves. Anyway, Matt points out that (a) whatever they said, people sure did get the impression that Iraq had something to do with 9/11, and (b) Cheney said it. But do read the comments, from which I filched the idea that was illustrated at the top of this post. Here's mine:

You know, it's funny: If you mention the October Surprise, right-wingers will shrug it off as a "conspiracy theory", and yet it has far more substance than any of the arguments that were used tie Iraq to Al Qaeda.

In any case, I'll wait for the picture of Atta shaking hands with a member of Saddam's government; in the meantime, we have this. So now we know who to drop bombs on, right?

Meanwhile, I thought this was obvious three years ago, and it's a shame we had to prove it before people caught on.

My condolences to Matt on the death of his mother, who was only 53. I'm glad you got to be there at the end, Matt, and that you knew she was proud of you.
13:25 BST

A bunch of stuff

If spam was real

You could see, right there, the environment in which paradigm-shattering concepts like Cherry Garcia were conceived.

Pinocchio As Senate Majority Leader

Susan at An Age Like This says, "Boy, and Howard Dean got in trouble for his "I have a scream" speech. Check out the maniacal picture of Dubya Mark Kleiman prints here. Yikes!" And Mark says: "Either someone at AP really and truly hates the President, or GWB has really and truly started to lose it."

Roger Ebert discusses the history and rocky path of The Chicago Sun-Times, and says it's a good paper and it'll make it through.

The "waterboarding" story is all over the place and available from Atrios, of course, but this post at Corrente seems to have gathered it up nicely. And Lambert finds a Republican with a little bit of sense.

Scrooge & Marley, Inc. -- The True Conservative Agenda by Thom Hartmann.

Abolish the Death Penalty, a new blog about...well, guess.

Jim Holt says Happy people are nasty. I guess that depends what they're happy about, and how they got that way. (via)
02:54 BST

In the world

I just watched the BBC interview with Bill Clinton and I really enjoyed seeing President Elvis tell David Dimbleby, "One of the reasons he [Kenneth Starr] got away with it is because people like you only ask me the questions. You gave him a complete free ride. Any abuse they wanted to do. They indicted all these little people from Arkansas, what did you care about them, they're not famous, who cares that their life was trampled. Who cares that their children are humiliated."

Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, with Plan B: In July, 2003, two months after President Bush declared victory in Iraq, the war, far from winding down, reached a critical point. Israel, which had been among the war's most enthusiastic supporters, began warning the Administration that the American-led occupation would face a heightened insurgency-a campaign of bombings and assassinations-later that summer. The border stayed open, however.
01:43 BST

Tuesday, 22 June 2004

Music news

I just heard a song on the Randi Rhodes Show that quotes George Bush saying, "I hope we're not going to war in Eye-rack," among other things, by the George W. Bush Singers, and it cracked me right up. You gotta hear this.
20:50 BST

Why we fight

Shameless Agitator measures the distance between Edward R. Murrow's vision of democracy and what we have now, providing examples like these:

"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good."
-- Randall Terry, the New Republic, 8/1/1994

"We're going to keep on building the party [the Texas GOP] until we're hunting Democrats with dogs."

-- Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, Mother Jones, August 1995
SA also calls our attention to this post at Daily Kos, which asks:
We know there's evidence that Bush is being less than forthright. We know Cheney is full of it. So why do Republicans refuse to be enlightened?
This question worries me, I admit. Some of the people who seem to be standing by this administration are not entirely stupid and have nothing to gain from supporting them, and yet they do refuse to be enlightened. What could cause this?

Jeanne wants some moral clarity:

There's something I don't get. How come the same administration that believes we will be tainted by any association with abortion, no matter how much good can be accomplished, also works with and financially supports brutal governments on the grounds that some greater, long term good will come from it? In other words, why is it anathema to have a three times removed connection to a doctor in Africa telling a woman whose body can't take any more pregnancies how to get an abortion, but it isn't wrong to directly finance a government that boils people alive?
David Neiwert acknowledges the temptation to quit blogging, but says it's still important to keep doing it.
It's vital, at this point, to keep fighting, and to be prepared to fight for another decade or more. For the foreseeable future, that's what I hope to achieve at my little blog.
There are days when I ask myself whether a little weblog like this can make a difference, but my experience tells me that, yes, it can. In the same way that I have people come up to me and tell me that reading my books really made them think, or even made them change their mind. We don't sell huge numbers of our books, but a lot of people seem to find them somewhere, maybe in a library or on a friend's bookshelf, and they think about what they read. In the same way that I once convinced a kid that the newspaper he was selling (White Power) was a load of ignorant crap; just one person, but all minds are changed only one at a time. And one person tells another, or remembers something they read at just the right moment in a conversation, and you just never know where the seeds are going to take root. So yes, the effort matters. However you make it.
19:23 BST


For the first time in a long time, Jeff Cooper has a post up. His son is starting to talk. It's been a long wait.

More insanity: The latest legislative gem from Hatch is the Induce Act to be introduced next week. Induce allegedly stands for "Inducement Devolves into Unlawful Child Exploitation Act," and it furthers Hatch's exploitation of children-centered concerns in his quest to appease deep-pocketed entertainment companies. In short, the act seeks to hold liable anything and everything that could be used to infringe copyrights. Burn the VCR, burn the photocopiers, folks. For the children, of course. (via)

Insight into Mickey Kaus' mental organization

Perfectly clear

Colliding galaxies
12:27 BST

Odds and ends

Poll Shows Bush Losing Ground on Anti-terror Policy: For the first time in ABC News/Washington Post polls, more than half of Americans, 52 percent, say the Iraq war was not worth fighting. Seven in 10 call U.S. casualties there "unacceptable," a new high. And there's been a steady slide in belief that the war has enhanced long-term U.S. security; 51 percent now say so, down 11 points this year.

Read The Daily Howler on Jodi Wilgoren's latest offense against journalism, and then tell the NYT's "public editor", Daniel Okrent, how slimy you find it. Or maybe even write a letter to the editor.

David Podvin says Al Gore is crazy like a statesman. (You can download an audio .mp3 of Gore's Iraq speech by clicking here.)

Buzzflash is promoting the DVD of Orwell Rolls in His Grave, and has a trailer.

Terry Jones doesn't do torture.

Ha ha ha.
01:08 BST

Monday, 21 June 2004

From the mail bag

A reader informs me that his job requires drug tests, and the company that does the tests is none other than ChoicePoint. Boy, they have their fingers in everything, don't they?

Bruce Schneier wrote to point to his article on the CLEAR Act, which is yet another more-hindrance-than-help set of laws purportedly meant to make us safer but, of course, does not; makes life harder for a lot of us, though.

And here's something Steve Smith tipped me to earlier.
22:40 BST

What's "the economy"?

Statistics are not reality says Nathan Newman, noting that while the establishment professes to be baffled that the public has not responded to the "improved" economy, the reasons are actually pretty obvious. Things like "GDP" and "productivity" are in practical terms mere abstracts for most of us, and what really matters to us is whether we see improved opportunities for ourselves economically.

So what happens to someone who loses a good job, goes for months without any job at all. and finally gets a job at half their previous salary with no benefits, no room for advancement, and no room for discretionary spending? What about people who, though they still have their old jobs, see their neighbors and co-workers being laid off and having to sell their homes for something cheaper because they can no longer support a middle-class lifestyle? What if your kid graduates from college and has to get a job at Wal-Mart and get on some sort of state program just to cover health care or other basics?

If you grew up in the American middle-class any time between 1950 and 1990, even the working-class people you knew didn't have to live like that. People started off with crummy jobs but could expect that a good job record would lead to promotion, higher income, and economic comfort in time for them to retire in a house that they owned outright. Those were the days of upward mobility - and they seem to be gone.
21:16 BST

Eschaton digest

Atrios, who says, "They really just think that rules don't apply to them," finds this:

Thomas B. Griffith, President Bush's nominee for the federal appeals court in Washington, has been practicing law in Utah without a state law license for the past four years, according to Utah state officials.
And the following links come from comment threads at Eschaton:

The Kerry/McCain stuff is obvious rubbish, and McCain has been sticking close to Bush, despite their differences. But here's something to worry about: Colin Powell is preparing to retire, and Bush is gonna have to replace him with someone. Why worry? Because it will make Bush look good without actually improving anything, anymore than Powell managed to improve anything.

The Thorn Papers on Darth Cheney and his mysterious 9/11 activities from the bunker.

A really rude post by Rude Pundit - but that doesn't mean he's wrong.

Attaturk is on the same page with me about comparisons between Moore and Coulter, but this post is still unfair to Marilyn Manson.
18:18 BST

What Rapture?

Roz called me up a little while ago and asked me if I can recall anyone talking about the Rapture "before". It's such an obvious question that I'm surprised I didn't think of it myself.

Okay, the first time I remember hearing about it was in about '68 or '69 when these people started coming around saying that we'd all been raised to believe in a "Santa Clause" god and that we were wrong. (Got that? Being raised to believe in the just-and-loving god was wrong.) And that's when we first started hearing about people disappearing and all that.

Which came as rather a shock to a lot of us, since we'd mostly been raised as Christians, had to hear Bible stories in public school, went to church and studied the Bible there, too - I mean, it's not like the Bible was that much of a secret to us.

Now, when something like that happens and it's the '60s, you just figure that this is another one of those religious groups that you haven't heard much about because it's not mainstream, and you're getting used to hearing about religions you'd never heard of as a kid - y'know, Buddhists and Muslims and Jains and whatever.

But, now that Roz mentions it, I've never noticed a single poem, or painting, or even legend relating to the Rapture that pre-dates the '60s. Jesus didn't talk about it, Michaelangelo didn't paint it, there is no room full of Rapture paintings at the National Museum.

And then I click on my blogroll link for Slacktivist and notice I've had it messed up all this time and it goes back to this old post, which contains this paragraph:

The problem with all of this is that Jerry Falwell spouts his theories of "the end of days as laid out in the New Testament" and Horowitz simply passes this on, uncritically, as the literal gospel truth. He accepts -- without a hint of skepticism -- that LaHaye's sensational brand of 19th-century Darbyism is "in the Bible" just because LaHaye claims it is.
Well, I've fixed the link, anyway. But I'm still wondering what our other favorite commentators on religious matters have to say about the "eternal truth" of this heresy. Roz thinks religious leaders like, oh, say, the Pope, should perhaps be saying something about this.

[Update: Ooops, I left out Amy Sullivan, who has recently written about a related subject.]
16:46 BST

Liberal media

Guest-blogging at Talking Points Memo, Spencer Ackerman of TNR discusses the latest new book to critique Bush policy, Imperial Hubris: How the West is Losing the War on Terror, by an anonymous intelligence professional. Does the book exhibit contempt for the administration's policies? Certainly. It also takes a dim view of the White House's conception of what motivates al-Qaeda and how to fight it. But in the book and in an interview, Anonymous doesn't traffic in Bush-bashing. He has much harsher words to say about the leadership of the intelligence community, whom he faults for bending too far to the predispositions of the policymakers they serve.

Media Matters learns from Rush that it is part of the vast, left-wing conspiracy and it's all about Hillary.

The White Rose Society is continuing to host archives of various radio shows, including some of the old Mike Malloy shows from I.E.America. I've posted this before, but if you haven't heard it yet, you really ought to listen to George W Bush and 1984: You decide.
12:49 BST

Happy Solstice

High Summer's Day, 19 years ago, it was chilly and rainy and we got married. Unlike family values mouthpieces Rush and Newt, we are still married. So nyaa, nyaa, nyaa.

Anyway, here's some stuff:

TChris at Talk Left: While grand juries in most jurisdictions are easily led to indict by the prosecutors who control them, the experience in New York may point the way to welcome reform of the grand jury system. The target of a grand jury investigation in New York has the right to testify. By telling their side of the story and explaining away circumstantial evidence, many targets have been able to avoid indictment. [...] That means grand juries in New York are doing their jobs -- saving the innocent from needless prosecutions -- when given a chance.

Tim Porter has some important things to say about the way that some bloggers are now doing a superior job of practicing journalism, compared with the people who are getting paid to do it. (There are also some interesting posts on the issue of anonymous sourcing.)

Greg Palast says One million black votes didn't count in the 2000 presidential election and it's happening again. It's not too hard to get your vote lost -- if some politicians want it to be lost.

Charles Dodgson takes a good whack at conservative logic, which appears to be based on the theory that when "liberals" cite things that were front-page news at the time, this constitutes some sort of conspiracy theory. For example, the "theory" that Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union. There's just one loose end which he neglects to tie up. What exactly does he think Reagan and Gorbachev were doing at Reykjavik? And then there's that Iraq-Qaeda connection thing, among others.

NPR has updated their Ray Charles page to include an audio stream for the memorial service.
00:52 BST

Sunday, 20 June 2004

She scribbles from Gotham

Diana Moon (still grumpy about losing all her links from warbloggers since she turned against the war) is, like me, not to thrilled with the idea of a Kerry/McCain ticket, and for much the same reasons. I'm not quite sure how to describe this post about Israel but go read it and see what you think. (And yes, Diana, the article from Capitol Hill Blue about how Bush is losing it has been making the rounds in the blogosphere. We all enjoyed it but we're not quite sure what to make of it.)
21:52 BST


Ayn Clouter reveals much truth through numerology in her review of the latest Clinton White House Event, and answers a recent question of mine with these ominous words: And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

But never forget, the left really doesn't have anyone like Ann Coulter.

Jim Henley dug up an article that explains the real reasons why you should support a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Iraqis: Treat them like people and they act just like people.

Skimble is pissed off about junk faxes (and I'm glad I don't have to be). Also, some of America's most unpatriotic companies.

Gail Davis' current page is rich with posts to get you good and pissed off, including several on just how bad the Republican Drug Card really is.
17:45 BST

In The Washington Post

Ombudsman Michael Getler, Looking Back Before the War, compares his paper's pre-war performance with that of The New York Times and concludes that while the Post wasn't as bad as Judith Miller, it buried too much of the other side of the story inside the paper instead of putting it on the front page where it belonged. He glosses over the fact that there was more data available than the Post could be bothered to print at all, making the excuse that the administration itself was ungenerous with information, as if the numerous other experts elsewhere who dissented from administration spin were somehow not providing the facts far more reliably.

TNR's Jonathan Chait visits the Post op-ed page with Why This Election Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be, in which he says: This year, with an election that, on the economic front, really does amount to little more than irrelevant and tiresome quibbling, everyone is convinced that we're facing an unusually momentous election. Sorry, everybody. You're four years too late. While it is certainly true that securing the White House in 2000 would have prevented a considerable amount of damage, Chait is ultimately wrong. If Bush is allowed to remain in office, it will tell the world that we accept recklessness and lawlessness at the top and are therefore unreliable partners.

Kathleen Clark and Julie Mertus, in Torturing the Law, explain just how wrong the legal advice Bush received on torture was, and just how wrong Justice's Office Of Legal Counsel was to provide it. And there is worse: How could Bybee have written such a scandalous opinion? Lawyers who tell their clients what they want to hear -- rather than the advice they need -- are sometimes rewarded with career advancement. Last year, Jay Bybee was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

08:59 BST

Saturday, 19 June 2004

Red, white, and blue

The Ice Cube Project
First known incidence of someone painting an iceberg

[Update: We have now been informed that this isn't the first such incidence by a long-shot, although as far as we can tell it's the first time it's been done merely to produce art.]

23:10 BST

More media stuff

David Neiwert was interested to see Tucker Carlson claiming that "hate" is emanating from to the same extent that it is coming from the right. In The hate these days, he investigate's MoveOn "hate" and sees if it stacks up against what right-wing sources. I hope someone will send a copy of it to Tucker.

In a letter to Altercation, Charles Pierce responds with a bit of history to Aaron Brown and others in the "liberal" media calling for "civility" from Democrats, and concludes:

All this concern erupted when the left started hitting back a little, and developing institutions and vehicles through which to do it. Well, for the moment, f**k civility. The center cannot be allowed to remain where it is. It has to be shoved back and shoved back hard. And if that means calling out ABC for criticizing Michael Moore's methodology while continuing to employ --nay, PROMOTE -- a corporate fabulist like John Stossel up through its news division, or if it means striking back at the people who go on television with their perpetual wounded victimhood and call people "Nazis," well, I'm sorry, Aaron, that's just the way politics is going to have to be for a while. Take a pill and go sit in a dark room until the vapors pass.
At the top of the same post, Eric himself looks at the 9/11 commission report and points out that even without being Sy Hersh, he "was able to piece together what happened through openly available sources that appeared in corners of the media but were never picked up by the SCLM or deemed worthy of discussion by the Sunday morning poohbahs or Cable TV scream fests." And he said it last year.

Eric also has a new piece in The Nation on how The Soros Slander Campaign Continues with extraordinary charges that George Soros is a far-left loony who is trying to engineer a coup against Bush by helping Democrats (and all the other sane people in the country) campaign for Kerry. I find it particularly interesting that the idea of ordinary funding and activism for one's candidate in order to help them win an election by actually getting more votes is being referred to as a "coup".
19:34 BST

Buncha links

I had this open and went, "Oh, my god!" and I was going to blog it eventually but my computer crashed and afterwards I couldn't remember where I'd seen it. It finally occurred to me to check Blogpulse and see if I could track it back. So, thanks to Jak, who also explains why it sent chills up my spine to learn that, "The IRS contracts out to a firm called ChoicePoint to obtain personal information on individuals. Besides residential addresses, this includes financial information." Not that I think this should be contracted out at all, but bloody ChoicePoint! Jeez!

And, on a related subject, Fla. Voting Machines Have Recount Flaw, and League of Women Voters drops support for e-vote machines.

CBS working really hard to get rid of that "liberal media" label - will right-wingers notice?

Bruce Schneier has tried to answer some questions: Ahmed Chalabi is accused of informing the Iranians that the U.S. had broken its intelligence codes. What exactly did the U.S. break? How could the Iranians verify Chalabi's claim, and what might they do about it?

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

You know, I can remember hearing a lot about how Clinton and Gore didn't exactly look trim - lots of stuff about cheeseburgers and cookies. How come no one ever mentions that this guy hasn't managed to run it off?
13:17 BST

Friday, 18 June 2004


The Freeway Blogger
Via Seeing the Forest

Max explains the estate tax and the top marginal rate, how to pretend you're cutting taxes when you're raising taxes, and a contagious disease. Also: Why we fight, and a cartoon explaining that conservatives are lying about Social Security.

Kevin Drum is wrong! Cherry Cheesecake cigarettes? Kevin, they're not aimed at kids, they're aimed at me! Cherry Cheesecake without the calories! Whee! On the other hand: Liberal media my eye, as someone would say.

Seeing the Forest says What people don't get about this case: it isn't about Enron alone. The Enron Tapes and the Snohomish vs. Enron hearing aren't just about a few potty mouthed "bad apples" at Enron engaging in opportunistic exploitation of regulatory loopholes (as Enron's PR people would like you to believe). They highlight a fundamental problem of our system of governance: the balance of power between corporations and the average human citizen is way out of whack. This is a point that those of us on our side of the issue would be well served to bring to the fore. [Also: a really stupid cartoon is in the newspapers.]

Rittenhouse Review explains it to Maureen Dowd: Vice President Cheney repeats the transparently false Iraq-Al Qaeda lies not because he can't help himself, but because it's part of the program, it's a core element of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign.
22:27 BST

A real president would fire him

And Atrios says that this alone would be enough reason. From Gail Sheehy in The New York Observer:

What's more, the decades-old procedure for a quick response by the nation's air defense had been changed in June of 2001. Now, instead of NORAD's military commanders being able to issue the command to launch fighter jets, approval had to be sought from the civilian Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. This change is extremely significant, because Mr. Rumsfeld claims to have been "out of the loop" nearly the entire morning of 9/11. He isn't on the record as having given any orders that morning. In fact, he didn't even go to the White House situation room; he had to walk to the window of his office in the Pentagon to see that the country's military headquarters was in flames.

Mr. Rumsfeld claimed at a previous commission hearing that protection against attack inside the homeland was not his responsibility. It was, he said, "a law-enforcement issue."

Why, in that case, did he take onto himself the responsibility of approving NORAD's deployment of fighter planes?

And why is Gail Sheehy the only one who's really looking into the questions that the rest of the press has been running from for years?
None of these people do their jobs, or indeed seem to know what the hell their jobs are. Please please please we have to get rid of them.
19:48 BST


House Passes Major Tax Cut for Businesses. This is pretty offensive stuff. Well, actually, I am speechless with outrage.

Bob Herbert catches Bush lying about Not So Frivolous lawsuits.

Everything we know about traffic-calming is wrong.

Wil Wheaton is promoting a good "support our troops" idea of passing on your GMail invites to the troops. (He also talks a bit about what Wesley Crusher means to him.)
18:39 BST

The Hunting of the President

It's worth getting the free day pass at Salon for Joe Conason's warning that they're at it again:

Whatever doubts I might have felt about the current relevance of "The Hunting of the President" -- the new documentary based on the book of the same name by Gene Lyons and me -- were abruptly dispelled last Tuesday evening, after the movie's premiere screening in Little Rock, Ark.

As I was leaving the auditorium, an older gentleman approached to shake my hand and offer his generous compliments.

"I'm a Vietnam veteran," he said. "I served with John Kerry. I'm supporting him for president, I've campaigned for him -- and I want to tell you, they're trying to do the same thing to him that they did to Bill Clinton." He explained that in recent weeks, a private investigator has contacted many of the vets who served on the Navy's swift boats with Kerry. According to him, the investigator asks insinuating and sometimes outlandish questions about the former lieutenant's wounds, decorations and military operations. Exactly who hired the Kerry-bashing detective is not yet clear, but his queries echo accusations promoted by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a Republican-backed band of Kerry-bashing veterans.

Salon also has a sneak preview of the film that's worth looking at, which features David Brock saying:
I don't think that they necessarily learned anything from the '90s, except that they almost won.
Susan MacDougal, Paul Begala, and Joe Conason are also featured in the clips. (This may be a local phenomenon, but I found the Quicktime version ran much more smoothly than the RealPlayer version.)

The American Prospect has an interview with Joe Conason and Gene Lyons about the film. They talk a lot about how much of the story there just wasn't room for in the movie:

Lyons: Let me say this about the local aspect of the story: For the people who were caught up in the Starr investigation in one sense or another, living in Arkansas in the '90s was not like living in America. Because Starr wasn't investigating crimes, he was investigating people. He would get dirt on someone by subpoenaing every piece of paperwork he could find -- often going back to college, as was the case with Gov. Jim Guy Tucker. Starr would cobble together some kind of alleged crime and then squeeze. He treated the people of Arkansas who had tangential relationships with Clinton as if they were members of the mob. By the end of this, everyone in this small place knew someone they trusted who had been ground up and spit out, and they didn't believe Starr's people.
But they also say that there are things in the movie that couldn't be shown in the book, and that the movie helps make the book a bit easier to follow because you get a better picture of some of the characters.
One episode that makes me laugh is an interview we did with Claudia Riley, the 76-year-old wife of former Lt. Gov. Bob Riley and friend to Susan McDougal. With great dignity, she told us how Starr's people investigated her sex life to the point where they asked her if she had slept with Bill Clinton. She drew herself up proudly and said, "He never asked."
Here's something I'm still waiting for an acknowledgment of from the NYT:
Lyons: This is a bit of an exaggeration, but The New York Times' relationship to Ahmed Chalabi was very much like the Times' relationship to David Hale and the other Whitewater entrepreneurs. They hitched their star to people like Hale and Starr -- con-men! -- who led them by the nose into a morass. And in the case of Whitewater, the Times never will admit it.

And we're talking about a lot of the same editors. For instance: When Joe Lelyveld reviewed Sidney Blumenthal's book [The Clinton Wars], he was still trying to justify the Times' coverage of Whitewater. He attacked Blumenthal, and us, for having the temerity to point out that The New York Times didn't have any pants on, so to speak. And he got the facts wrong, again! And we had to correct him all over again. The response that I got, when I started to point out inaccuracies in his coverage of the story, was something akin to: "We're The New York Times, and you're not. We don't have to answer to you."

There's a lot more there about how badly the media behaved back then and continues to behave, and about why the conservatives hated Clinton so much. But they also address the disappointment many of his supporters felt over Monica Lewinsky - which is apparently in the movie; it's not a paean to Bill Clinton.

[Speaking of Salon, I found a Salon weblog called What Would Dick Think? (WWDT). Among other things, it explains why Bush's optimism isn't spreading.]
16:59 BST

Ship of fools

Poll Suggests Bush Support Has Grown: President Bush got a boost from the public's recent focus on the funeral of Ronald Reagan and support for his Iraq policy spiked over the last month as the United States prepared to hand power over to Iraqis, according to a poll released Thursday.

A nude model, five bodies and the Mormon assassination plot attempt: This week, a jury in Martinez, a small town outside San Francisco, will retire to consider the bizarre, brutally violent cult surrounding one Glenn Taylor Helzer, a lapsed Mormon accused of bludgeoning and dismembering five people in an elaborate extortion racket intended to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Bush Disputes al Qaida-Saddam Conclusion: "There was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida," Bush insisted following a meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.
14:52 BST

Media notes

Norman Solomon compares NPR and The New York Times with margarine. Well, he's actually talking about the mea culpa in the Times about their banging the drum for the White House, and about this study by FAIR showing that NPR not only isn't liberal-leaning, it's not even balanced.

Hannity took offense when John Podesta suggested that Hannity is a bit divorced from reality. So he demanded evidence of "one example where I -- where I said something that was so false." The Center for American Progress provides a little list in The Document Sean Hannity Doesn't Want You To Read.
13:23 BST

Assorted links

Salon has a review article about three new books on George Bush's character, psychology, and faith, that contains this little nugget:

...the death of his younger sister Robin, from leukemia, when he was 7 and she was 3.

Bush's parents dealt with Robin's death by squelching any expression of grief; there was no funeral and they played golf the day after she died.

Sounds like he learned a lot from them. (Barbara Bush sounds pretty creepy elsewhere in the article, too.)

King of Zembla recommends a good speech by Bill Moyers on class war: Nothing seems to embarrass the political class in Washington today.

Cakewalk to Baghdad with Country Joe; read the lyrics or click on Richard Perle to hear it streamed. (Scroll down past the band info - hey, I recognize those names!) (via)

01:30 BST

Thursday, 17 June 2004

Three-Card Monte

I heard Mark Riley on Air America's Morning Sedition say this administration reminds him of the guy he used to see rooking people with card tricks. (I usually refer to their bait-and-switch tactics, but this is a good characterization of some of their other strategy.)

Natasha has a couple of recent posts at Pacific Views that shine a light on the games the right is playing. She did her own little bit of investigative reporting:

After all the discussion of the organization that's agitating to keep Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 out of theatres, I thought I'd try to talk to the people at Russo Marsh + Rogers. So I call them up and ask to speak with their media representative to ask a couple questions about the firm, and I was told to leave my information and expect a callback.

Then I called the phone number for Move America Forward, and a polite young man comes on who instantly recognized my voice as I started to talk. It's the same person who answered the phone when I called the RM+R number. For a minute I thought I'd dialed wrong, apologized for calling back again, and said goodbye. But I hadn't dialed wrong.

So a little while later, Siobhan Guiney from MAF calls me back. (From her MAF bio: "She has worked as a legislative advocate fighting for the people against liberal corruption.") She says that RM+R did register the site for them, but that they hadn't paid for it or consulted on the name. Paid staff at MAF did the design work, and she said that she paid for service when they rolled the phones over to the same receptionist, and that the two groups only shared a building.
Regarding Fahrenheit 9/11, she said that "his movie is a piece of propaganda" that "...shouldn't be advertised as a documentary." As an example of a specific error, she offered the assertion in the film that President Bush gave the order to move the Bin Laden family out of the country.
Guiney had also said that the original purpose of the organization was to support the troops in America's war on terror. She said that Moore was attacking the troops and their morale, and when asked to cite examples, one thing she mentioned was his stated goal of helping to defeat George W. Bush. In response to the obvious question of why that was synonymous with attacking the troops, she said, "He's our Commander in Chief. It's his policies in place [and we] have to support those policies."

She said several times that they didn't oppose his right to make the movie or say what he wanted. There was even the standard, "Thank God he lives in a country where...," bit. And of course, she was equally thankful that MAF lived in a country where they could give their opinion of his work. I said that in calling for a boycott, weren't they doing more than just disagreeing? She said that they were just informing theaters that a number of people wouldn't show up to see the movie. She didn't really have anything else to say on why it wouldn't be enough to just not show up.

She seemed to be really ready with other well-known RNC talking points, as well - like trying very hard to conflate the Taliban's policies on education for girls with those of Saddam.

Natasha also notes a recent example of Bush's compassion:

Bush addressed the Southern Baptist Convention today via satellite, and among all the usual 'yay, fetus' jargon, was this:
We will also continue our support for crisis pregnancy centers...
Crisis pregnancy centers are fundamentalist church group fronts that sometimes advertise as though they were abortion providers or groups that acted as quality watchdogs for abortion services.
What we're talking about here is blatant deception, and it puts people's lives at risk. It's not new, either; back in the '70s I had a young woman nearly bleed to death all over me because she'd gone to one of these places and they had lied to her about the result of her pregnancy test. These were the days of another scandal called the Dalkon Shield, an IUD that was promoted as being safe for women who had never previously been pregnant (not true; none of them are). By that time people like me who were working in women's health clinics knew that the Shield posed a special danger and should immediately be removed; among other things, they presented a significant risk of fatality in the event of a pregnancy. These people had been told that she had a Shield in place, and if they'd been responsible they would have realized that by claiming she wasn't pregnant they were putting her life in danger. In the end, this teenaged college student ended up requiring a hysterectomy. In the name of "pro-life" they had come very close to committing murder.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney again repeated the false claim that there were ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda. The White House has also continued to weasel about applications of the Geneva Conventions. The press actually tried to get something straight out of them; Josh Marshall has a transcript that shows Scott McClellan ducking and diving all over the place. It seems pretty obvious that these people are lying, and they know they're lying.

Perhaps sleaziest of all, Josh highlights the very clear attempt by Team Bush to corrupt Catholicism in aid of Bush's campaign efforts. He quotes from an article in The Washington Post:

Karl Maurer, vice president of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, a conservative grass-roots group, said he would add sodomy and gay marriage to that list. Some liberal grass-roots groups have said they believe the church's teachings against war and the death penalty are worthy of equal treatment. "Once you open this door, what's going to come rolling through it?" asked Deal W. Hudson, editor of the magazine Crisis and a key Catholic ally of the Bush administration. "Pretty soon, no one would be taking Communion."

Hudson said he believes the denial of Communion should begin, and end, with Kerry. Even better, he said, would be if priests would read letters from the pulpit denouncing the senator from Massachusetts "whenever and wherever he campaigns as a Catholic."

Hudson's and Rove's agenda here seems rather clear.
Oh, yeah.

I think most Catholics get that this kind of thing is a move by a government to control and corrupt their church. The only religious group that doesn't object to this thing seems to be the right-wing non-Catholic fundamentalists who want to impose a theocracy based on their own beliefs.

But I'm confused about one thing. Could the end-timers who seem to worship him really be unclear on the obvious similarities between Bush and The Beast? Or do they recognize those similarities and want to join forces with The Beast himself in a deliberate attempt to bring on Armageddon?
14:17 BST

Stuff to read

Zogby says: If the election for president of the United States were held today, Democratic challenger John Kerry would win easily, approaching the sort of lopsided electoral college victories reminiscent of the Clinton 90s and the Reagan 80s.

If you haven't yet read Justin Raimondo's The Essential Dishonesty of Christopher Hitchens: Liar, hypocrite, coward, drunk - have I left anything out?, do it now. He gets Andrew Sullivan and the other chickenhawks, too, and it's full of great lines.

Charles Dodgson has a post that really made me wince; goes in the category of Bill of Rights? What's that? *sigh* (Also: More evidence that being conservative means never having to admit that maybe liberals aren't the worst thing in the world.)

LiberalOasis: And if people don't like religious leaders telling pols what to do, you can bet they really don't like pols telling religious leaders to tell pols what to do.

Republican politicos are, not unpredictably, trying to organize a boycott by movie houses of Fahrenheit 9/11; Political Strategy is providing resources for those who would like to push back.

World O'Crap reads the runes and makes a prediction. (Also: Laugh your hiney off at some reviews of right-wing nuts; the Virgin Ben Shapiro one is lovely.)
00:43 BST

Wednesday, 16 June 2004

What kind of country

Another necessary series, at Enemy of the People, Refuting the Stupid Arguments of Your Wingnut Friends, Part IV:

Yes, it's time for another episode. Adam from Muncie, Indiana writes today:
"Goldstein, don't you think you're overplaying this whole Abu Ghraib thing? I mean really, so what if some Iraqis were made to stand or march around, or didn't get to bed on time? I'm sure it wasn't pleasant but come on, it's not torture!"
Thanks for writing Adam. I've received similar messages from many patriotic Americans, and I'd like to respond.
Ken MacLeod, who also loved the ideals that were America:
The American Revolution is over.

When the President claims for himself powers outlawed in every country issuing from the English Revolution, and last exercised when James the II & VII personally supervised the splitting of Presbyterian shins, I guess we have to admit that in the long run the English Revolution failed.

Oh well. Freedom can always choose another people.

I liked it better when we were the good guys.
16:30 BST

In The Washington Post

An editorial complains that once again the administration is Muzzling Abortion:

Abortion will always be an agonizing issue, and the right balance between abstinence and contraception is a fair subject for debate. But the attempt to deny conference platforms to groups that oppose the administration's view is inimical both to free speech and to scientific inquiry. To attack a conference of public health specialists, canceling grants that would have been used to allow delegates from developing countries to attend, is to drag the battles over abortion and conservative values into forums where they have no place.
Anne Applebaum connects some dots in So Torture Is Legal?:
To understand the magnitude of what may have gone on in America's secret prisons, you don't need special security clearance or inside information. Anyone who wants to connect the dots can do it. To see what I mean, review the content of a few items now easily found on the Internet.
But articles, television reports and blogs are useful only insofar as they move the public.

For in the end, it is public opinion that matters, and it is on public opinion that the fate of any further investigations now depends. Voters have some items of information available to them, as listed above. Voters -- ultimately the most important source of pressure on democratic politicians -- can petition their congressmen, their senators and their president for more. If they don't, the elections will be held, the subject will change. Without a real national debate, without congressional approval, without much discussion of what torture actually means and why it has so long been illegal at home and abroad, a few secret committees will have changed the character of this country.

Indeed, if the voters can't move the politicians, and the politicians aren't courageous enough to act alone, we may wake up one morning and discover that torture has always been legal after all.

No More Roundups by David Cole deplores the post-9/11 hysteria:
Once again the government pursued "the course of least resistance," rounding up thousands of foreigners, not for terrorist activity but for technical immigration violations. Many were arrested in secret, held without charges, denied access to lawyers, presumed guilty until proven innocent, tried in secret, and kept locked up long after their cases were fully resolved. In the name of "preventing terrorism," the government has locked up more than 5,000 foreigners who had nothing to do with terrorism.

For 2 1/2 years, little has been done to rectify this situation. But today several senators and representatives plan to introduce the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004, a bill that seeks to ensure that the next time we suffer a terrorist attack, we will hold fast to basic principles of fairness, due process and human rights, especially in our treatment of foreign nationals.

The depressing thing about the CLRA is that it "assures" rights that, three years ago, everyone understood to apply to everyone in the United States. I forget who it was (Brandeis?) who said that no law can protect our rights if the public's belief in those rights is weak, and no law is necessary to protect them if the public truly supports those rights.
15:07 BST

Front-page news

At The Agora:

Two and half years after overthrowing the Taliban, Afghanistan is in serious danger of falling to drug lords.

How is this not a front page news story? How is this in any way not a massive failure on the part of the administration?

At War and Piece:
Time magazine's review of James Bamford's new A Pretext for War has a pretty explosive allegation here:
Douglas Feith, a senior Pentagon official, set up several secret offices in the Pentagon that received data from Israel's own intelligence teams and coordinated its findings with them, partly as a way to get around CIA caution in the region. Bamford reveals that the original source of the spurious allegation that Saddam harbored "mobile biological-weapons labs" did not come from the brother of a top aide to Ahmad Chalabi whose code name was Curveball, but from an Israeli tip going back to 1994. Bamford quotes anonymous CIA agents who say that they suspected that much of the hard-liners' intelligence on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was bogus but there was pressure from within and without to shut up about it.
It comes in the context of describing Bamford's analysis of the role the neocons played in the pre-war intelligence.
Tom Tomorrow reviews Fahrenheit 9/11 and notes that this review is on the Fox News website:
As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, "F9/11" - as we saw last night - is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty, and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice.
Fox says this is, "a film that members of all political parties should see without fail."

The march that didn't happen.
12:24 BST


Via Nathan Newman

Pandagon: What Democrats are fighting against isn't the ability to get rich, it's the inability to get there.

Blah3 finds a Newsweek article that makes Bush2 sound just like Bush1 - disengaged enough from people's concerns that people are starting to know it.

Brad DeLong and Matt Yglesias in a duet on the state of Social Security.

Ethel the Blog: So you thought the PATRIOT II legislation had been slapped down, eh? Kim Zetter tells how it's being snuck through one piece at a time.

Arthur Silber: I give you an utterly compelling reason for rejecting the "Reagan legacy," and I do it in two words: Ann Coulter.

More truth from PhotoShop
01:32 BST

Tuesday, 15 June 2004

More Ray Charles

Rolling Stone has posted the 1973 interview with Ray Charles on their site.

And while I was there, I found this:

A free Iraq is essential to our respective securities.
Actual George W. Bush quote, Washington, D.C., June, 2004
And I thought, "Securities. Ah - "our respective securities" isn't the same as "the security of all Americans," is it?

Also, they seem to have a blog of sorts.

Update: You can hear Ray Charles singing "America the Beautiful" here. Peacetree Farm also has a bit of in memorium.

Further update: Hear Ray's greatest hits at the NPR obit page for him. (Yeah, I've been having a little Ray Charles festival in my room.)
20:27 BST

Media notes

The Daily Howler looks at the way the Stepford Scribes didn't seem to find it significant that the administration tried to con us with a terrorism report that only covered a ten-month year. No, readers-no one in the State Department is really that brainless or stupid. No one thinks you can file an "annual report" if you stop counting after October. To all appearances, this is the latest sign that the Bush Admin no longer bothers trying to spin you. They don't even try to hide their deceptions. They believe they can hand the media complete, total crap-and the media will swallow it whole. And where the TV faces were concerned, they were right. (The Sideshow would like to note that we have been calling them "The Stepford Press" since the beginning. Steal from the best, Bob!) Also: Kerry continues to be "troubling" because he plays guitar.

Atrios reports that Jon Bon Jovi is getting hate mail because he has been speaking up for Kerry (and raising lots of bucks for him, too). "And I think that they question my patriotism because I decided to stand up and have a voice. And I stood up to have a voice because I think that's the most American thing that you can do." (The Bon Jovi website opens with a short musical flash clip; the new album, advertised as "Greatest Hits... With a Twist", is called This Left Feels Right. Hm. I don't know enough about their output to know if that means anything.)

If The Boston Globe were like baseball, half their op-ed line-up would be benched.

Oh, good, it's not just me.
17:30 BST

Blogger's notebook

TBogg has found Dick Morris providing more useful advice for the Democrats: Some observers feel that Clinton ought to have postponed publication until next year to avoid stealing the limelight from Kerry. Right, because it would be real bad for the Dems if a high-profile Democat were running around getting a lot of attention from the press. Mysteriously, it is always bad when liberals or Democrats get the attention of the press. It's always either bad for the Democrats, or just bad the Ann Coulter way. One way or the other, conservatives always seem to have a reason why Democrats and liberals should never be in a position to be paid attention to.

At Tapped, Matthew Yglesias recommends an article in the WaPo about Ralph Nader's dubious finances. Hey, if you're gonna be Ralph Nader, having murky financial relationships has gotta be a no-no.

Also from Tapped, this recommendation: On September 4, 2001, Gary Hart predicted that "for the first time since 1812, Americans will lose their lives in large number on American soil" -- and that in the course of the American response, "[w]e will be spied on, our privacy will be gone; that will have a huge impact on our society." TAP interviews the former Senator and presidential candidate, who talks about the next attack and our need for a grand strategy.

In Travesty of Justice, Paul Krugman says: No question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.
14:48 BST

Instant solution

Thoughtcrimes presents: The Allen Plan:

There has been a lot of discussion of late about the fact that the troops deployed for the Iraqi occupation are stretched way too thin and are in dire need of re-enforcement.
Whether you are for or against the draft, one issue is inescapable: Even if the draft were started tomorrow, we would be unable to deploy any new troops in Iraq for 18-24 months.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could deploy 35-50,000 trained soldiers to Iraq in say, three to six months? Ideally, these would be folks who want to be in Iraq and are already familiar with and acclimated to the environment. Even better, these folks would already have their own weapons and gear and actually be close to the "theatre of operation" as the folks in the military like to say.

A pipe dream you say? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you all the civilian contractors currently in Iraq.

One special act of congress and we could immediately draft the Halliburton, Blackwater, CACI, Tital, et al, employees. And what a bargain it would be. We are currently paying over a $1,000 A DAY for some of these people, and we could have them doing the same jobs for about $1,500 A MONTH!

(Via August J. Pollak.)
13:30 BST

Exciting revelations

LiberalOasis watched the Sunday talk shows, as usual, and found some interesting hypocrisy from Bill Kristol on the subject of politicizing funerals.

Nick Confessore says that even Jay Leno gets it. Leno said: According to The New York Times, last year White House lawyers concluded that President Bush could legally order interrogators to torture and even kill people in the interest of national security -- so if that's legal, what the hell are we charging Saddam Hussein with? And Nick said he thought that was funny until he was ashamed that we could even make the comparison.

Winning Argument ("You know you're right - now prove it") is a great idea for a weblog - arguments on issues spelled out neatly in a simple, straightforward format. Current arguments: The new Medicare prescription drug cards hurt seniors, Wal-Mart is bad for America, Cheney still has financial ties to Halliburton, Top administration officials sanctioned torture, Congress should not renew the PATRIOT Act, and The Bush administration has undermined No Child Left Behind.

Reversal of stereotypes, or more reasons why Dinesh D'Souza gets no respect from anyone with brains.

Air America Hires Less Nessman as News Director: Nessman has worked for Southern Ohios' WKRP for over twenty-five years. He began as news director of the FM station in 1977, and has won five 'Golden Buckeye News Hawk" awards, and two AG journalism related honors, the 'Silver Sow' and the 'Silver Soybean'.
04:54 BST

The other religion story

Josh Marshall and Amy Sullivan both cover the story of George Bush leaning on the Vatican to join his political campaign by pressing more bishops to be "with" him on cultural issues. Amy says:

What he is asking them to do is to endorse a strategy -- the denial of communion as a coercive political tool -- about which many of them feel a great bit of discomfort. Bush is inserting himself into an internal church debate and asking bishops on one side to change their minds because that would help him politically.
And Nick Confessore says:
It's telling, too, the words Bush chose. "Not all the American bishops are with me." As if it is the Catholic Church's duty to be "with" Bush. Who does he think he is? It is so crass and offensive on so many different levels, least of them the fact that Bush's policies are in most respects offensive to Catholic teachings regarding public policy. No wonder Sodano didn't say anything. To respond at all would have diminished the Pope.
Man, it really is all about him, isn't it?

And I guess this isn't really a different story from the one about the bill allowing churches to retain their tax-exempt status even if they are obviously operating as an arm of the RNC.
03:38 BST

If he can't make points off of Reagan....

....I guess he'll just have to make points off of Clinton. I was laughing my hiney off at this story:

With old political grudges left unmentioned, former President Clinton returned to the White House for the first time Monday and listened with delight as President Bush praised him for his knowledge, compassion and "the forward-looking spirit that Americans like in a president."
"He's just like me, see?" Ha ha ha.
The occasion was the unveiling of the official portraits of Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Hundreds of former Clinton administration officials, from Cabinet secretaries to low-ranking aides, filled the East Room and applauded Bush's warm testimonials. His remarks were a sharp contrast with his promise four years ago "to restore honor and dignity" to the White House after Clinton and the sex scandal that led to his impeachment.

Facing re-election and trying to reach across party lines for support, Bush went out of his way to be gracious to both the former president and his wife, a favorite target of conservatives who fear she will run for president. Bush even offered a plug for Clinton's biography, being published next week. Pausing in his description of Clinton, Bush said, "I can tell you more of the story, but it's coming out in fine bookstores all over America."

Terry McAuliffe, the highly partisan chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told reporters, "Today is a bipartisan day here at the White House. Everyone loves everyone equally here today."

The "highly-partisan" chairman? That's his job, isn't it? Since when are party chairmen called "highly-partisan" for acting like, you know, chairs of their party? (And why wasn't the chair of Bush's Florida campaign in 2000 called "highly-partisan" when she was being highly-partisan inappropriately as the person who was overseeing the election itself?)
Bush's remarks "proved once again that in the end, we are held together by this grand system of ours that permits us to debate and struggle and fight for what we believe is right," Clinton said.

Clinton did not speak about Bush's presidency. He said most politicians "were good people, honest people and they did what they thought was right. And I hope that I'll live long enough to see American politics return to vigorous debates where we argue who's right and wrong, not who's good and bad."

Clinton did not speak about Bush's presidency, except for that little dig, eh? Really cookin' with gas at the Associated Press these days, aren't they?
01:21 BST

Yes, they are.

This is how it begins. One little step at a time.

A death threat here. A fistfight there. An act of vandalism here. An assault there.

Keep adding them up, and pretty soon something takes root. Something dark and hateful.

David Neiwert has been away on holiday, but he's back with more dead canary watching.
00:10 BST

Monday, 14 June 2004

An idle four-minute fume

I was just sitting here thinking about Negroponte and Otto Reich and Poindexter and the whole lot of them and thinking, "Clinton may have pardoned Marc Rich, but at least he didn't put him in his administration," and I was about to get all worked up about that and then I realized I'd pretty much said it all two years ago in Taking the Pledge and probably don't need to say it again.

Anyway, I guess you already know this, but:

The Supreme Court has ruled that for now, the words "one nation under God" will remain in the Pledge of Allegiance. The decision was based on the father's lack of standing to assert the rights of his daughter because he didn't have custody of her and therefore was not her legal representative[.]"
Which is kind of a cop-out, but also kind of a relief, since they decided against the plaintiff's standing rather than against his point.
22:54 BST

A few things

Corporate Lessons and Signal Orange, via Sunset Expresso.

Busy Busy Busy. Busy.

Torture State: a Redundancy

I hadn't realized that that Doonesbury strip ran in different versions. (Make your life easy: click on the second link and read both short posts.)
20:46 BST

Quote Garden

A quote that says everything: I would ask "What did the pResident know, and when did he know it?" but I suspect, unfortunately, that the question is closer to "Does Bush know anything about the actual situation in Iraq, and when will he know it?" - Vicki Rosenzweig (scroll to 8 May)

The Poor Man is feeling the love: It's like our grandpas used to tell us all, as they bounced us in unison on their knees: "life don't need no Viagra, son - it's hard as hell already." And then they would laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Our grandpas were revolting.
He also considers some foolish questions: Now, we want to make it absolutely clear that we are not saying such things are likely to actually happen, nor that this current President, nor any future President that the People or the Court or the President decide, in their infinite wisdom, to put in such a supralegal position, would ever consider doing so. It's foolish to even consider these questions. Which begs the question: is there any legal, moral, or ethical reason which renders it foolish to consider these questions? Or is it just foolish because because?

"Worse than zero." Seth Glickenhaus, Part 2 (quoted from Skimble):
Q: Would you like to enumerate the pluses and minuses?
A: The political picture has never been as negative as it is today.
Q: Does that matter to the market?
A: It matters tremendously. If Kerry is elected, the doctrinaire Republicans will sell stocks for a day or two, but then the market will go up considerably.
Q: Because?
A: Because Bush has been worse than zero as a president.

14:55 BST

History corner

Reagan, Hoover, and the UC Red Scare

Jimmy Breslin with Reagan should be on a $3 bill

The real Peter Pan (via)

The genius hits the road O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life

12:54 BST


Reagan is dead and buried. Let's remember where we were when we were so rudely interrupted:

Obstruction of Justice

With the incessant talk this week about the week-long funeral services for the recently-deceased Ronald Reagan, many newsworthy stories have been completely off the radar. Ironically, this is one of the most important weeks in a while-not because Reagan died, or because of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, or even the opening of the new Harry Potter movie, but because the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which was previously pooh-poohed by Bush administration soothsayers and brought forth (again) unjustified charges of liberal media bias (what is it called when you don't scrutinize leadership again?) has now been revealed to have roots in administration policy. In fact, it was not a handful of bad apples over in the military police brigade operating in and out of Abu Ghraib; it was not a frat party where people were having a good time, but rather a systematic process originating in the highest tiers of the Department of Defense, the Justice Department, and the White House (as well as its executive agencies like the NSC and the CIA). The truth is, the bad apples are scattered throughout this administration, probably producing the worst crop harvest in history, as rotten quinces will spoil the two-plus centuries of laws that have governed this country.

Believe it or not, Gore was right.

David Kolodney at Edgewise is reading the Financial Times (so you don't have to subscribe), and provides us with a vocabulary check:
Bush sidesteps questions over prisoners' torture, The Financial Times, 6/11/04 (article)
...when asked whether he had authorised the use of aggressive interrogation techniques to fight the war on terrorism, Mr Bush resorted repeatedly to a legalistic formulation: "The authorisation I issued was that anything we did would conform to US laws and would be consistent with international treaty obligations."....
Mr Bush was given several opportunities on Thursday to state his opposition to torture, but instead said that his administration was instructed to stay within the letter of the law....

The phrase consistent with has indeed stood out in a wide range of recent Administration and military statements. That and the phrase treat humanely have been insisted upon repeatedly.

It is sometimes possible to guess the silent rationalizations that are embedded in such angular terminology. Here are my guesses.

Consistent with. Suppose you claim the Geneva Conventions forbid the torture of POWs and of ordinary civilian detainees, but don't really cover terrorists and enemy combatants. And suppose you go ahead and torture the latter two categories. You wouldn't want to say you were following the Geneva Conventions. After all, you were not required to torture them. Still, your torture would be consistent with the Conventions.

Treat humanely. On this one, I can almost hear the Senator rise: "If you allow innocent women and children to die in a terror attack, just because you were a bit too finicky to put pressure on a terrorist, do you call that humane!?"

(One thing I want to reply is: And how many of these hundreds of cases have truly been of that kind? Another is: Well, if it is right, defend it!)

At Salon, Mark Follman discusses a book that looks at the problem in "A temporary coup":
Author Thomas Powers says the White House's corruption of intelligence has caused the greatest foreign policy catastrophe in modern U.S. history -- and sparked a civil war with the nation's intel agencies.
Powers, the author of "Intelligence Wars: American Secret History From Hitler to Al Qaeda," charges that the Bush administration is responsible for what is perhaps the greatest disaster in the history of U.S. intelligence. From failing to anticipate 9/11 to pressuring the CIA to produce bogus justifications for war, from abusing Iraqi prisoners to misrepresenting the nature of Iraqi insurgents, the Bush White House, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies they corrupted, coerced or ignored have made extraordinarily grave errors which could threaten our national security for years. By manipulating intelligence and punishing dissent while pursuing an extreme foreign-policy agenda, Bush leaders have set spy against U.S. spy and deeply damaged America's intelligence capabilities.

"It's a catastrophe beyond belief. Going into Afghanistan was inevitable, and in my opinion the right thing to do. But everything since then has been a horrible mistake," Powers says. "The CIA is politicized to an extreme. It's under the control of the White House. Tenet is leaving in the middle of an unresolved political crisis -- what really amounts to a constitutional crisis."
Let's start with the problems inside Iraq itself. We know there was a dearth of intelligence assets on the ground for years before the war. What's your assessment of the situation now?

This is one of the most closely guarded secrets of the agency, and I don't know anybody outside of it who really has a sense of the assets they had inside the country then, or what they have there now. But I don't think that was the biggest problem.

The biggest problem has to do with the decision at very high levels to look at things in a certain way. There was no shortage of warnings in the U.S. government from various branches and offices that the postwar period was going to be complicated and difficult. In that respect there was no failure of intelligence. But for institutional reasons -- political reasons -- the White House and the Defense Department didn't want to hear it. The Defense Department was very explicit that they weren't going to pay attention to those studies, that they wouldn't seriously consider increasing their estimate of how much money and troops would be required -- because once that went down on a piece of paper Congress would want to see it.

Meanwhile, Gornfeld has continued investigating the bizarre secrets of the Moonie connection to Congress, complete with this:
You'll recall that, when I wrote my Gadflyer article, Rep. Curt Weldon's office claimed that he didn't speak at the coronation of Sun Myung Moon. First his secretary said, "I'm telling you, he didn't go." So I sent her some links. She then said Weldon planned to attend this awards show, but couldn't make it due to his schedule. Then I sent her a photo of Weldon at the event. It showed him surrounded by Moonists. His involvement, she now said, was "limited to his attendance," as if he'd just been on his way to a nearby committee meeting and poked his head through a curtain.

But here's a new picture of Weldon giving a speech at the event! What's that he's pinning on Kadhafy? Did Kadhafy score one of Moon's Ambassadors for Peace Awards while Weldon was leading a delegation to Libya to talk WMDs? If so, that would be pretty awesome, placing Khadafy in the same A.F.P. winners circle as neo-Nazi William Baker.

He's even got a little Moonie movie you can watch. Man, that's stagecraft!

And speaking of religion, an action alert from The National Council of Churches:

Despite overwhelming opposition from nearly two dozen religious denominations, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom Delay have ordered a version of Rep. Walter Jones's "Houses of Worship" Political Speech Restoration Act to be included on page 379 of a 398 page tax bill (H.R. 4520, American Jobs Creation Act of 2004).

Entitled the "Safe Harbor for Churches" bill, the legislation would radically change the nation's historic tradition of separation of church and state and "raise moral questions about the actions of religious leaders and their congregations and disrupt the political process itself," said Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches. A statement from Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance said: "The bill encourages willful ignorance of the law by houses of worship, amending the tax code to permit churches, and only churches, to engage in political campaigns while maintaining their status as tax-exempt organizations."

Under the legislation, Gaddy noted, houses of worship would be allowed to "accidentally" endorse political candidates up to three times in an election cycle without losing their coveted tax-exempt status. While the bill purports to draw a distinction between intentional and unintentional violations of political activity, it is silent on what constitutes an "unintentional" violation, leaving religious leaders and institutions free to claim ignorance of the law as reasoning for an "unintentional" breach.

And let's not forget how good the right-wing has become at having "unintentional" violations, "accidental" breaches of protocol and law. (via)

Back in the land of campaign politics, the conservative New York Times has found some more Unnamed Democrats to say stupid things to the press about Bill Clinton potential to harm the Kerry campaign. Take it away, Digby:

Yes, it would be terrible to remind people of a time when the country was so peaceful and prosperous that we could afford to let a bunch of flaccid, hypocritical phonies gin up a bogus impeachment for fun and profit. And, needless to say, it's always a mistake to have interesting, charismatic popular people supporting you publicly and making the case for your candidacy all over the country. Silly Kerry.

I don't know what it's going to take to get these anonymous "Democratic strategists" to recognize that Clinton was a very popular Democrat who has a remarkable ability to charm even people who hate him. It's only when they let the Republicans caricature him that Clinton hating gets any traction. I would bet money that he'll bring about a national wave of nostalgia for a time when watching him dodge the slings and arrows of Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich was the only war we saw on America's news channels every night. Jesus, if the GOP were such nervous nellies as this they'd have dropped Reagan's body off the Santa Monica pier at midnight and said the family wanted a private service.

Oh, and Republicans really should be careful about talking about "sex" and scandals in this campaign. They really should. The pictures of the Bush approved "frat boy hijinks" they are trying so hard to sweep under the rug are a lot fresher than Bill and Monica in that rope line.

And the Times should think very carefully about why it prints articles like this and what their likely effect will be. It's true that Howell Raines was a problem for the NYT during his tenure. But Bill Keller, the man who currently holds the reigns, allegedly to clean things up, was also a problem then. That hasn't changed. And we have to assume that that little thing comes from over his head.
11:23 BST

Sunday, 13 June 2004

What the papers say

Frank Rich in The New York Times, with First Reagan, Now His Stunt Double:

The orgiastic celebration of Reagan's presidency over the past week, an upbeat Hollywood epic that has glided past Iran-contra, Bitburg and the retreat from Lebanon with impressive ease, has brought into clear focus the size of the gap between the two men. To say that difference in stature is merely a function of an actor's practiced skill at performance is both to understate the character of Ronald Reagan and to impugn the art of acting.
But whether one likes either president or not, the difference between them remains far greater than any similarities, and that difference has more ramifications during a hot war than a cold one. Reagan may have been an actor, but in Garry Wills's famous phrase, he played "the heartwarming role of himself." Though he never studied with Lee Strasberg, he practiced the method; his performance was based, however loosely, on the emotional memory of a difficult youth as the son of an itinerant, sometimes unemployed alcoholic.
Mr. Bush's aw-shucks persona, by contrast, has been manufactured from scratch. He has rarely, if ever, ventured out of the cocoon of privilege.
The problem is not merely that Mr. Bush lacks Reagan's lilting vocal delivery. As any professional actor can tell you, no performance, however sonorous, can be credible if it doesn't contain at least a kernel of emotional truth.
William Pfaff in the International Herald Tribune with When laws get in the way of torture:
The Bush administration's civilians had been complaining about how law, international treaties and conventions, and military norms and inhibitions, were interfering with their determination to seize and hold anyone they pleased in secret prisons, declare them without legal rights even when they were American citizens, torture them whenever they wanted and keep them forever, if they liked (a totalitarian ambition, obviously). They wanted these obstructions removed.

Their complaints sounded like the complaints of Adolf Eichmann, when he described during his trial in Israel the irksome bureaucratic and legal obstacles he ran into in wartime Germany in carrying out his genocidal responsibilities.
This has been futile and irrational, as well as evil. The nearly universal uselessness of torture is well-known in intelligence and special warfare circles. Even if you have a key figure who does possess useful information, and you eventually get him (or her) to tell you what you want, what actual good is it?
All of this is a ghastly scandal, one of the worst in American history. It is evident cause for impeachment of this president, if Congress has the courage to do it, and for prosecution of cabinet figures and certain commanders. However in view of the partisan alignment in Congress, quite possibly nothing will happen before the November election.

What then? It also is quite possible that George W. Bush will be elected to a second term. In that case, the American electorate will have made these practices its own. Now that is something for our children to think about.

In The Washington Post:

Ombudsman Michael Getler says he agrees with readers though the editors "strongly disagree" that they - well, what it amounts to is that they should have been more professional, but editors really don't seem concerned with that sort of thing these days.

Sylvester J. and Vicki A. Schieber say Justice Not Served by the death penalty:

Our daughter was attacked and killed while alone in her Philadelphia apartment on May 7, 1998. Almost four years later, Troy Graves was arrested in Fort Collins, Colo., on unrelated sexual assault charges. DNA evidence linked him to a series of sexual assaults in Philadelphia and to Shannon's murder. The Philadelphia prosecutor immediately announced her intention to seek the death penalty, even though we publicly opposed it.

The death penalty is often cited as a deterrent to crime, but in our case, most of the assaults and perhaps even our daughter's murder could have been prevented if the Philadelphia police had only done their job.

Comic Section:
Ben Sargent
Non Sequitur reviews Hannity's book.
23:31 BST

Stuff from around

Hm, Bush seems to have received intelligence reports from Iraq from a guy who was already dead.

Time to Bury Reagan's Legacy for Women: The 40th president was indeed a clear-eyed visionary. He envisioned a world where women would never be granted equality in the U.S. Constitution, where abortion was illegal and equal employment laws a thing of the past. (via)

Chef thinks the torture story has "its own legs". Rainstorm follows the torture shuffle - "Ashcroft's DOJ is saying that Guantanamo is within U.S. jurisdiction for the purpose of torturing detainees, but not within U.S. jurisdiction if those same detainees try to sue for damages that resulted from torture. - from BeatBushBlog, which spells it out that it is a serious felony for any U.S. national to torture anyone anywhere in the world.

Republican Jesus

Hear the Romones' "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" and other punk tributes to Ronald Reagan in this little blog "concert" at Disinfotainment.
20:03 BST

Stern on your side

Steven Thomma says Howard Stern's opposition to Bush is making a big dent in shifting support away from Bush in a key demographic.

However, Thomma seems to be confused about how this happened.

His anti-Bush crusade stems from the Federal Communications Commission's efforts to combat indecency on the public airwaves.
This is wrong: Stern directly attributed his change of mind on Bush to his having read Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. It was only after the airing of that show - the next day, as I recall - that Clear Channel went after Stern. While the FCC's charges against Stern may have come first, that doesn't seem to be what set him off. He does believe, however, that Clear Channel's sudden decision no longer to stand behind him has as much to do with his anti-Bush rant as it does for the threat of heavy fines from the commission.

Digby is also pleased to see the effect Stern is having.
16:32 BST

What's Tony Blair's excuse?

One thing even the Mirror managed to get right is that the drubbing Labour took in the local elections was a huge embarrassment for Blair and direct fallout from his misguided support for Bush's invasion of Iraq.

The Sideshow has looked before at the possible reasons Blair may have had for hitching his wagon to Bush. (We had a lot of it, with the help of 56K, back in July of last year.) Some of the possible reasons we have explored include:

  • Blair really believed every word he was saying.
  • Blair believed his support for Bush could be used to influence whether Bush went off half-cocked, or how he ran any invasion he eventually undertook.
  • Blair actually shared Bush's desire to turn the world into a giant plantation run by a junta of wealthy oligarchs, including himself.
  • Blair was being blackmailed by Bush with serious threats against Britain (economic or otherwise) into puppet-like obedience.
  • Blair wanted the oil.
"War for oil" has, with a few exceptions, so far been treated by the left as a serious condemnation and by the right as an outrageous libel. The exceptions (mostly invasion-supporters on the right) have pointed out, however, that oil is actually a major concern for industrialized nations whose economies (and whose citizens' lifestyles) could be devastated by any significant dry-outs.

Britain, with native sources about to run out, can't just shrug off such a potential disaster. And if George Bush was obviously planning to take control of Iraq and the second-largest source of oil in the world, Blair would understandably be worried about being locked out of that bargain by getting a place on Bush's personal Enemies List.

While many of us did not believe Bush could accomplish what he claimed were his goals in Iraq, I don't remember anyone, including me, predicting that he would do this bad a job of it. While we realized that invading Iraq while the more important work in Afghanistan was incomplete showed a misunderstanding of the requirements of the job and would also overstretch our resources, I suppose we had hoped that the military would at least be funded and supplied at normal levels. Who could have predicted that Bush would send troops into the field without even proper armor and food?

People like me who have been watching Bush from early on in his campaign and who are aware of his combined incompetence and chicanery were not fooled, but it would be understandable if Blair, who had his mind on other things, had not developed quite the well of distrust for Bush that we have. Blair might really have believed that Bush could deliver stability in Iraq and any promised access to Iraqi oil. He may even have believed that - with Britain's participation, at least - there was real potential for creating a less oppressive regime in Iraq. But he must certainly have believed any threats from Bush that those who opposed him would not be rewarded.

So while it would be fair to say that any faith in Bush's ability to succeed in Iraq was naive, it might also be fair to say that the idea of being deprived of any hope of getting oil out of Iraq was both realistic and deeply to be feared. If those were Blair's reasons for his actions, I think they can be defended on moral grounds, although they show an appalling lack of understanding of the true costs of war.

What? Defend the murder of thousands in war? How can you do that? Well, you can do it if you believe that betraying the interests of your own country - which might also result in the deaths of thousands, and maybe millions - has to be given significant weight against the interests of those in other countries. If you think in terms of letting your own nation come apart while allowing the Iraqi people to continue to suffer in the hands of a brutal dictator, or saving your nation and getting rid of an evil dictator in the bargain, you just might be able to rationalize the choice to invade Iraq. Obviously, many people have. I think this kind of thinking leaves too many factors out of the equation, but I can see how someone might focus on these two factors to the exclusion of all others and make Blair's mistake.

But, as I've said before, the question of a national leader's fitness to serve in that capacity is not merely a moral one, but also one of results - and, anyway, it's not our job as human beings to judge another's immortal soul. I don't know whether coming clean with exactly this justification for what he did would help Tony Blair, but it may be his best chance. If he uses it, he might regain a certain amount of the trust he has squandered.

But that doesn't mean it's good enough, because the bottom line is that his judgment was poor - he may have intended to protect his country, but he doesn't appear to have done a very good job of it. It's very possible that he could have prevented the invasion if he had stood up in time, and thereby prevent Bush's takeover of Iraq's oil. It's certain that the stated goal of going into Iraq at this time - to aid in the "War on Terror" - was more of a hindrance than a help, and has made Britain even more of a target for Islamist terrorists.

Still, I think confessing to the country that he was trying to protect Britain not from Saddam, but from Bush, is the best chance Blair has. Because, right now, he is looking more and more like toast.
11:54 BST

At Nathan Newman

For those who still need to go over the record, Nathan Newman has several posts on Reagan, starting with Reagan: Enemy of Working People, and following with Reagan- Irresponsible Debt. Then he finds some criticism of Reagan from a "fundamentalist pro-capitalist" organization in Failures of Reagan- From the Right, and goes on with In Memoriam: Reagan's Victims, about the brutal foreign policies of his presidency.

Nathan takes issue with Atrios in Reagan Did Control Congress; watch out for the conflation of the words "Democrats" and "liberals", a common tactic of GOP spinsters who like to pretend that majorities of the former were also majorities of the latter. They weren't - and in my lifetime, liberals have never controlled Congress. As Nathan says:

Technically, the GOP only controlled the Senate and the White House after the 1980 election, but de facto, they had an alliance with the Boll Weevil House Democrats, led by then-Democrat Phil Gramm, who rammed through tax and spending cuts in alliance with the GOP. Only with the 1982 election did real Democrats gain enough seats to regain operational control of the House. In response to that loss of control by the GOP-Boll Weevil alliance, Phil Gramm resigned from Congress in 1983 and became a Republican, running for Congress, then the Senate.

The reason this is important is that it highlights that Bush and the GOP are not at some high point of Republican strength today. All that has happened is that the old Boll Weevils are now properly labelled Republicans and regained the majority they gained and lost under Reagan.

Nathan reacts to news of yet another Limbaugh divorce by pointing out that the Bible condemns this kind of behavior often and explicitly - in a way it never does with homosexuality.

Closer to his regular beat, he has more on Wal-Mart: Welfare King, a brewing attack on your right to organize, and Welfare for Private Medicare Corps. Read all three of these for a better idea of what conservatives really mean when they condemn hand-outs and claim to believe in your Constitutional freedoms.

And, on a more positive note, he begins his discussion of the Americans Coming Together (ACT) voter mobilization organization with a post about something from the ACT for Victory Blog and how to rebuild progressive politics.
09:26 BST

At Pandagon

There's always tons of stuff to read, there, but a few of particular note:

Ezra looks at a Washington Post article on the religious left and related voting tendencies - and what we should do to make the party more inviting to people of faith (without alienating everyone else).

Ralph Nader told Salon: "I think I'm going to take more votes away from Republicans than from Democrats," which I think establishes that he's not operating in the same frame that the rest of us are. Certainly all those polls that show a percentage of Kerry's vote going over to Nader if he is introduced into the hypothetical race suggest that Nader has not been paying attention. And his supporters... Well, Jesse Taylor has a few words about them, too.

Jesse also crystalizes the conservative view of liberals and Reagan's "vision" pretty neatly, as well.
00:37 BST

Saturday, 12 June 2004

These kids today

I come from a place where heartache is my mother, sorrow is my father, unhappiness is my sister and eventually death is my brother.

I come from a place where poverty is overflowing but luckily where I come from has nothing to do with where I'm going.

Colbert King met with a group of teenagers from Northwest DC: Young Voices of Heartbreak and Hope.
18:46 BST

Stop it!

Last night it seemed hard to get away from this story about how Kerry had asked McCain to be his running-mate and McCain turned him down. There's been background chatter of this nature around for a while, but yesterday's story claimed to be directly sourced to Democrats, people close to Kerry, and even someone at the top of Kerry's campaign staff, although in most stories this person was not named:

Kerry, the Massachusetts senator, made his first direct overtures to McCain about three weeks after locking up the Democratic nomination in March, and approached him again, in person or by telephone, as many as seven times, as recently as last week, according to one person who has discussed the issue with both.

"It was always artfully phrased, but he asked him on several occasions to serve as his running mate," the individual said. "He'd say, 'I don't want to formally ask, because I don't want to be formally rejected, but having said that, would you do it?' or 'I need you to do it,' or 'I want you to do it."'

"It was always phrased in such a way as to give both men plausible deniability," the individual added.

Did some idiot at the Kerry campaign really say that to the press? Are they out of their minds? "Hey, let's give the media a hot story that can easily be spun to make us look totally cynical!" Sweet.

This morning I couldn't seem to find the stories I saw last night, nearly all of which started with paragraphs stating the overtures from Kerry and rejection from McCain as fact, but then followed with insistence from the McCain camp that no such overtures had ever occurred. "So," I wondered to myself, "how did this get to be a story at all?"

And I just love this:

A recent CBS News poll showed a Kerry-McCain ticket registering a 14-point advantage over Bush-Cheney among registered voters, 53 percent to 39 percent. Without McCain, Kerry's number dropped.

Some Democrats also have discussed Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., an independent-minded conservative who sometimes clashes with Bush, as a possible Kerry running mate.

Hagel recently told The Washington Post that several Democrats have approached him about running with Kerry, and that he ruled it out unequivocally.

Hagel! What, are they figuring the only way to beat the voting machines is to get their most likely beneficiary on our side?

Look, Kerry has trouble enough with his base for having voted for the Iraq resolution; the last thing he should want is someone on the ticket who actually supported the invasion all along. And disagreeing with Bush is now so widespread in both parties that it's stupid to try to turn anyone who does so into a Democrat, let alone adopting them into the Democratic leadership. It's stupid for two reasons: The first is that it's a good thing to be able to point to all this evidence that disagreeing with Bush is not partisan. The other is that the Dem leadership is already top-heavy with people who are more conservative than the rest of the party and we really don't need more alienating people up there.

The fact that these Republicans disagree with Bush doesn't mean they have much agreement with us. Most of them are still to the right of the country as a whole, and while a lot of people who don't know much about McCain may think he's a great guy, his policy positions are really kind of creepy an awful lot of the time - just not as creepy as Bush's.

"Still not as creepy as Bush" is not actually a good campaign selling-point.
11:42 BST

Interesting things

From Newsarama: In 1988 Alan Moore wrote an epic poem about the history of gay culture entitled The Mirror of Love. Now, 16 years later, Top Shelf has just released a version of the poem lavishly illustrated with photos by Jose Villarubia. It's a moving, epic, literate, intellectual response to an argument currently going on in the United States - not a defense by any means, but an acceptance and a celebration of same sex love through the ages.

The Daily Howler says if you're curious about what Reagan was really like, you should read Lou Cannon's book. And then has a good laugh at O'Reilly, who complained that the left was politicizing Reagan's death, and then continued to politicize it.

Dinesh D'Souza is taking some well-deserved hits from the blogosphere this week after getting a job at CNN. Body and Soul takes him apart, as does Michael Bérubé. Personally, I really enjoy this sort of thing. This guy is right up there with David Icke in my book. (And speaking of Michael, his Azkaban Blogging is keeping them entertained over at the Nielsen Hayden household. And speaking of Making Light, Teresa has some questions that are really, really important to think about. And read the comments.)

The evolution of Lis Riba
00:18 BST

Friday, 11 June 2004

In Blogtopia
(Yes! Skippy etc.!)

It cannot be true that Hesiod has stopped.

Gary Farber quotes an article from Slate about the marine who found two WTC survivors in the wreckage, and also refers us to an excellent post by Jack Balkan on Arguments That Make You Ashamed to be a Lawyer: I've been spending some time thinking about the legal claims made in the Pentagon's "torture memo." They sound like legal arguments, to be sure. But they are so mindlessly wrong-headed that you wonder how people can argue themselves into these conclusions. (You might also want to read his earlier post on the subject.)

Ayn Clouter explains the importance of redistribution of wealth.

TBogg found something useful at The Corner: Jonah's suggestion that the national landmark to name after the old boy is the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site.

The first comment on this thread on the blog for Franken's radio show mentions a device that looks interesting, although I'm not quite sure I understand it. I am streaming on the internet from the Chicago area. I would like to go elsewhere in the house now and again and still listen to the broadcast but of course I can't carry the computer with me. There is a little remote unit that I bought for my MP3 player last year at Radio Shack called an iRoc. It is used to plug into the player and then broadcasts to a nearby stereo. [Update: I am now informed by the alpha geek that this is illegal over here, but remote headphones and speakers can be used instead.]

I almost didn't notice that the Supremes appear to have told the Colorado Republicans that their gerrymander won't fly. (Also: What he said.)
20:43 BST

More things to read

Eric Boehlert on Reagan porn: The "liberal media's" unprecedented 24/7 gushing over a controversial and divisive president caps a quarter-century of fawning. (And I do wish people would remember that the reason Kennedy's death was such a big deal was because he was a young man assassinated while in office, not an old man who had long been out of office and had been dying of an unpleasant disease for a long time. The reason they're making such a big deal out of this is not because he was supremely popular or a great president (he was neither of those things), but because the RNC and the media think it is to their benefit to do so.)

Paul Krugman debunks more myth-making about Reagan's alleged economic miracle: The secret of the long climb after 1982 was the economic plunge that preceded it. By the end of 1982 the U.S. economy was deeply depressed, with the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression. So there was plenty of room to grow before the economy returned to anything like full employment.

It's not exactly "The Manchester Papers" in The Realist, but Tony Hendra in The American Prospect has The Monica Pages from Bill Clinton's book.

Oh, look, I scooped Confessore. (It was here.)
17:35 BST


LiberalOasis consider's Bush's Reaganesque defense (the famous Memory Loss Syndrome) and Ashcroft's exchange with Kennedy and Biden; Everything isn't under control has the clip of John Stewart's excellent coverage of the event. (And it's nice to know Joe Biden is good for something, isn't it?)

If you've missed the disgusting Vernon Robinson ads, lucky you. But if you need your daily dose of outrage, Ginger's got 'em.
13:50 BST

Good stuff

David Sirota: So, in an effort to cut through the din this year, here are five congressional votes that everyone in America should know about. They come straight from the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up file, and capture how soundbite politics hide the troubling reality behind conservatives' bumper-sticker slogans. (Via TalkLeft)

Ron Reagan, Jr.: "And they told us, 'Don't worry about W. not knowing anything, good old Dick Cheney will be his minder.' Dick Cheney? And this was going to be compassionate conservatism? Dick Cheney is to the right of Genghis Khan, he wants to drill in your backyard, he wants to deny black people their rights --it was all there in his voting record for us to see. What were we, rubes?"

Timshel: And in what must be the quote of the century for anti-death penalty advocates, the bill's sponsor had this to say: "Why can't we mandate this?" she asked. "We take every right from these people. We take their freedom. That's what this country is all about."

Kevin Drum says these are hard times for neocons.

Flash movies:
Sloganator Memorial
Fiore: Reaganesque
11:47 BST

Aw, hell.

Remember Flip Wilson's Geraldine? I always remember Geraldine's routine about Columbus, where she says, "And Isabella says, 'Chris gonna discover America! Chris gonna find Ray Charles!'".

And ever since, I've never been able to hear his name without remembering that.

And it's true, because discovering Ray Charles is, kinda, discovering America.

And such great songs! Everybody just got up and clapped and bopped and sang along whenever "Hit the Road, Jack" came on the radio. (And without him, how could Al Kooper have done that wonderful slowed-down version of "I Got A Woman"?)

He's gonna live forever, 'cause we just can't forget that music. Thanks, man.


TBogg: Tomorrow, when they ring the bells at 1:15, let's just pretend it's for Ray Charles. You wanna put someone new on the ten dollar bill? He's your man...

Jim Henley: Consoling Thought of the Week - Ray Charles on our money. ALL our money.

Charles Kuffner: As far as I'm concerned, if we replaced the "Star Spangled Banner" and any lingering seventh-inning-stretch versions of "God Bless America" at all sporting events with Ray Charles' version of "America the Beautiful", the world would be a better place. Rest in peace, Ray Charles.

MaxSpeak (Wait for it.)

Skippy has his own round-up, and ends with: we will miss ray's distinctive, melodious growl, and his gentle way with coaxing love out of a piano. god bless you, mr. charles. and thank you for all your music.
03:38 BST


Reality up close

News from death row

What is it about Republicans and their distrust of the mainstream media? David Corn looks at a survey from the Pew Research Center.

Charles Pierce says he was inspired to write this by Peggy Noonan.

Beatles catalog headed for digital distribution?

Hear the original version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (via The Biomes Blog).
03:10 BST

Thursday, 10 June 2004

The farewell tour

In the midst of the extended funeral procession, we should perhaps be grateful for the opportunity presented for a cathartic venting of all the pent-up criticism that wasn't allowed voice at the time - 12 years of abuse and criminality that the press was too cowardly to address and Congress ultimately hid from. So as long as the Republicans and the press are playing along with the constant eulogizing, the blogosphere, Air America Radio, and the little bits of genuinely liberal media that break through the surface are full of...well, the story that should have been told a long time ago. Ted Rall* had some grief to get off his chest:

For a few weeks, it became routine. I heard them dragging luggage down the hall. They paused in a little lounge near the dormitory elevator to bid farewell to people they'd met during their single semester. Those I knew knocked on my door. "What are you going to do?" I asked. "Where are you going to go?" A shrug. They were eighteen years old and their bright futures had evaporated. They had worked hard in junior and senior high school, harder than most, but none of that mattered now. President Reagan, explained the form letters from the Office of Financial Aid, had slashed the federal education budget. Which is why the same grim tableau of shattered hopes and dreams was playing itself out across the country. Colleges and universities were evicting their best and brightest, straight A students, stripping them of scholarships. Some transferred to less-expensive community colleges; others dropped into the low-wage workforce. Now, nearly a quarter century later, they are still less financially secure and less educated than they should have been. Our nation is poorer for having denied them their potential.

They were by no means the hardest-hit victims of Reaganism.

Rall has a higher profile than most of those dissenters who were not silenced by 9/11, so right-wingers like to hammer him when he speaks out. Sean Hannity got him on his show and argued the facts:
HANNITY: Act as altruistic as you like. You are mean. You are cruel. You are thoughtless, and you are a hateful human being. You don't have a soul. And you don't care about anybody but yourself.

And you do this for shock value so that your name could be noticed. You're a slob. You're an absolutely -- you're a hateful human being to do this to families that are suffering.

There's no excuse for it. There's no rationale for what you're doing. You're mean, cruel and thoughtless.

RALL: Well, there you go again, Sean.

Randi Rhodes has been having fun with that one on her show.

Robert Parry says there is a lot of unfinished business:

Yet absent from the media commentary was the one fundamental debate that must be held before any reasonable assessment can be made of Ronald Reagan and his Presidency: How, why and when was the Cold War "won"? If, for instance, the United States was already on the verge of victory over a foundering Soviet Union in the early-to-mid-1970s, as some analysts believe, then Reagan's true historic role may not have been "winning" the Cold War, but helping to extend it.

If the Soviet Union was already in rapid decline, rather than in the ascendancy that Reagan believed, then the massive U.S. military build-up in the 1980s was not decisive; it was excessive. The terrible bloodshed in Central America and Africa, including death squad activities by U.S. clients, was not some necessary evil; it was a war crime aided and abetted by the Reagan administration.

Sidney Blumenthal remembers the reaction to Iran-Contra a little differently than the eulogizers do:
"Let Reagan be Reagan," had long been the cry of conservatives. Now they screamed that Reagan was either being held prisoner or had sold out.
And then there was what has become his most talked-about legacy:
Reagan did not bring about the downfall of the Soviet Union. But he lent support to the liberalising reform that hastened the end. In reaching out to Gorbachev, Reagan blithely discarded the rightwing faith that totalitarian communism was unchangeable and that only rollback, not containment and negotiation, would lead to its demise.
Not really the mantle Bush is trying to fit into, then. But then, the Bushes were never all that cosy with the Reagan bunch; Poppy had, after all, originally accused Reagan of touting "voodoo economics" - indeed, the senior Bush was probably among the first to publicly imply that Reagan was intellectually, well, not really on the money.

Arianna says that Bush is no Reagan:

The memorial pomp and circumstance and remembrance of GOP triumphs past surrounding Reagan's death have already given Bush's sagging approval ratings a bounce. But in the end, the president's vision is an irrevocably dark one, with fear at its heart. While Reagan rarely missed an opportunity to invoke America's greatness, Bush rarely misses a chance to scare and divide us.
That "bounce" is itself in dispute, though:
Ruy Teixeira over at Donkey Rising is as skeptical as I am that the Bush campaign will get any meaningful bounce out of the week-long Reagan marathon now playing on a cable news network near you.

He notes that part of the survey work for the most recent Gallup Poll, which shows Bush still narrowly trailing Kerry, was completed after Reagan's death. What's more, yesterday's Rasmussen tracking poll (not the most reliable source, but the only daily tracking poll I have access to) showed Bush losing two points over the past three days.

The background chatter is that the Bush campaign is making a big mistake - that trying to dress him up as Reagan's heir makes him look even more ridiculous than the flight-suit did. As LiberalOasis suggests:
Perhaps when watching TV on Sunday, you saw clips of Bush being interviewed by Tom Brokaw, delivering his speech commemorating the D-Day anniversary, or giving his statement on Reagan's passing.

And perhaps it occurred to you that Bush's tentative and/or defensive appearances didn't look all that good when juxtaposed with all the clips of an assured, quick-witted Reagan.

After all the times when the media raved about Dubya's plain-spoken style when he actually sounded idiotic, you could be excused for thinking the punditocracy would never make such a comparison, especially at such a sensitive time.

But some of them did.

Apparently, even Republicans don't like having their Big Daddy put up where people can see how small Bush looks beside him.

*Yes, sometimes Rall is a jerk. So is everyone. So are you. But sometimes Rall is right, even when no one else has the nerve to be.

17:28 BST

Facts and figuring

Mike Finley has a conversation with a young conservative about why liberals and conservatives aren't on the same page.

Gene Lyons on Reagan, and Molly Ivins on how Bush "supports" the troops (both via Bartcop).

Cover the Uninsured Week

Boing Boing says you can download .mp3s of Supreme Court arguments and hear some famous old cases.

Anthropology by bagel

Paranoia Report? On why there was no NORAD response on 9/11.
14:44 BST

They really liked it

Bruce Springsteen liked that Al Gore speech: A few weeks ago at N.Y.U. Al Gore gave one of the most important speeches I've heard in a long time. The issues it raises need to be considered by every American concerned with the direction our country is headed in. It's my pleasure to reprint it here for my fans.

Reuters: Film Industry Gives Controversial Iraq Film Ovation - they dug Michael Moore's flick. [Update: Who they were, and what Moore said about Reagan's death.]

Neil Gaiman has posted his intro to Omaha in tribute to Kate Worley. (via)
12:07 BST

The Emperor

Bush to the US Constitution: Drop Dead. He has violated our laws one after another because he thinks he is above the law. Early in his term I noted that by breaking our treaties he was breaking our laws, so this isn't new, just more. But still, we are surprised. Even though it was right in front of us.

Demosthenes with food for thought:

As I've mentioned in the past, there is a fundamental danger in an American presidential republic, which is that the head of government and the head of state are the same person. This invests the head of government with a lot of power; the symbolic power of the head of state can be used by the president to influence (or even dominate) domestic politics. This power waxes and wanes, of course, but in situations of perceived crisis it can be overwhelming, thanks to the natural need of nations and societies to have some person to rally around. This is why the Royals in England were so important in keeping spirits up during the Blitz, and why American presidents tend to enjoy so much latitude.
Maybe we should have a separate election for Queen to keep the two roles distinct. Or maybe we should have an office for going out and looking genial called "Drinking Buddy", since that seemed to be why the press was telling us Bush was a better choice than Gore. We could let the Republicans elect their favorite drinking buddy just as long as the rest of us get to elect someone who can take responsibility for national affairs - because it has become clear that the Republicans simply can't handle democracy.
01:12 BST

Wednesday, 09 June 2004

Interesting stuff

Amanda discovers that sex is not a right. Oh, but she's politically incorrect. (Me too!)

What Bush says when we're not listening.

The Gipper for beginners.

Stepford Wives Ad Controversy: Apparently some folks are bent out of shape over a trailer for The Stepford Wives which features pictures of Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice being morphed into a baking housewife and a topless centerfold. (With photos!)


Excellent Josh Marshall response to a rebuttal in The Wall Street Journal of his earlier post discussing the way Republicans talk about black and Amerind voters as if they weren't "real" voters.

Matt Yglesias makes a nice contribution to the "explain [your] reasons for wishing that Saddam Hussein should still be in power in Baghdad" argument. And, um, yeah, you're gettin' it, now, Matthew.

Howard Dean says health care is a problem we must not ignore.

Recall Gray Davis? (Well, don't say I didn't warn you.)

State ACLU membership surges; group credits Patriot Act's backlash. Membership at an all-time high.
21:37 BST


I'm sensing a theme at The Left Coaster today. Here's Mary:

Last Friday the media fell all over itself to pity John Kerry as they compared him unfavorably to Bill Clinton. As Dwight Meredith wrote, there was much wringing of the hands of those that questioned how was Kerry to stand against the brilliance and sheer intelligence that was characteristic of Clinton. And, of course, the right wingers ran with this meme: poor John, who will never inspire the American public in the way Clinton did.

So, it seemed almost like a karmic reversal this week, that the politician who was most overshadowed and shone coming up wanting was George W. Bush when compared to the Republican master pol, Ronald Reagan.

And though some may want to pretend that Bush is some sort of, well, The Next Roosevelt or even The Next Reagan, pessimist thinks he sees him headed for another title: The Next Jerry Ford.
18:33 BST

Took the words right out of...

Over on, Victor posted that story about Ray Bradbury slamming Michael Moore for "stealing" his title. This is followed by comments noting that it ain't theft - it's allusion, homage. And, anyway, the author of such titles as "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "I Sing the Body Electric!" is no one to talk. Bradbury may say his objection to Moore's reference to his title has nothing to be with politics, but, like "ggrihn" says, it sure looks like it's about politics.
15:34 BST

Media notes

On, Monday, Eric Alterman wrote a less than laudatory retrospective on Ronald Reagan. On Tuesday, along with more on that same subject, he printed some letters he received in response:

May God strike you down, sir. Hell hath no fury like thy scorn. You desecrate the dead on a level comparable to Al Queda. Pray for forgiveness.
Cyber News Service says TV News People 'Thank God' for Conservative-Bashing Author - that author, of course, being David Brock. I was particularly entertained by the last sentence of this paragraph:
"In the past few weeks -- as I have been on some of these TV shows, either talking about my book or about [my website] -- I have been -- off air -- been told by network talent: 'Thank God you are doing this because we can't do it -- because James Dobson can send an e-mail and turn NBC upside down,'" Brock said. Dobson is the conservative Christian leader of Focus on the Family.
He said Dobson "is the conservative Christian leader of Focus on the Family"? Don't they know? Is there any doubt about that? Gee whiz.

At The Poor Man: Tom Brokstraw sits in when Tom Brokaw's questions are too hard.

Turns out Reed Waller has a weblog. His Farewell to Kate - and discussion of how the new Omaha work will be completed - is here. (via)
14:17 BST


King of Zembla has a contribution to the paranoia report files with news from The Boston Globe that what was burned in the library at Baghdad was Saddam's government documents, and it doesn't look like it was done by random looters.

I see the Unablogger has been dedicating his cheesecake again. That's where you should go when you get really disappointed that I haven't posted a bra of the week lately. (On the other hand, visit Skippy, because I said so, and he's trying to hit the half-million mark.)

I was reading this post at Change for America and I thought to myself, "Christ, pretending I don't have to be accountable just because it's a 'time of war' would be a good reason to start a war all by itself if I was into totalitarianism." And you know, they are. (Also: Julian Bond for President.)

At Body and Soul, Jeanne slaps Christopher Hitchens for attacking Reagan personally while ignoring so many much more serious things. She's got him dead to rights.

The cheesiest generation
01:25 BST

Tuesday, 08 June 2004

The gamut

Paul Krugman spells out the reasons why even though he wasn't a good president, Reagan was better than Bush.

Metaphor of the week

Shorter Thomas Oliphant in praise of Reagan.

Comedy with Peggy Noonan! Also, 6 out o 10 americans say keep your nose out of my salvation: and, in a result that only shows the nerve, hutzbah, gall, or whatever negative adjective you choose to describe the self-righteous move to judge everyone else, it turns out that the group that has the highest percentage (41%) for denying communion to politicians who support choice is found, not among catholics, but evengelical christians

Jesse proves Republicans wrong.

A private enterprise war

Windows music (via)

Watching paint dry
20:36 BST


Lambert at Corrente closes the case for Bush's impeachment.

David Richey at The News-Press: President Bush should not seek re-election.

Dave at Seeing the Forest received some Astroturf and decided to respond.

Ampersand has a useful post on the different ways the term "partial-birth abortion" is used.

I'm a bit late mentioning this but MadKane got damn-near serious on the subject of No child's behind left - but it still rhymes.
11:57 BST


Let's see what Charlie is up to. Yikes! He is also a bit relieved that Reagan's death brings an ugly chapter to a close, because he reckons Reagan nearly got him killed.

Yes, Prime Minister.

Bill Scher of LiberalOasis recommends you go to C-Span and listen to the interview with John Kerry. It's pretty good, and he talks about what they are doing to ensure the integrity of the ballot box. And while you're there, click on the link for Hillary Clinton (who also talks about paper ballots), George Soros, and Howard Dean. It starts off with that liberal Reverend we've been needing to hear from.

The poor are just stupid and lazy.

The Poison Kitchen has found the perfect illustration to go with a post about Chalabi.

Greg Palast really didn't think highly of Ronald Reagan. I hear the righties are mail-bombing him about it.
02:40 BST

Monday, 07 June 2004

RIP: Kate Worley

Omaha the Cat Dancer was FAC's favorite comic book. Her Majesty's Customs & Excise made us work hard to get copies into the country, and we missed a few (donations welcome). But we revere the names of Reed Waller and Kate Worley around here.

I understand that new Omaha material is forthcoming, but Kate and her husband have been having trouble making ends meet while Kate fought cancer. She's lost that fight, and will be missed.

Update: Mark Evanier has a few words, too.
22:30 BST


It's probably time now to do some of my periodic announcements about how my first name is first and my last name is last, I hate your HTML mail, and, um, you should really get rid of Outlook Express altogether. In other non-news:

I just got promo e-mail from The American Prospect saying, "The American Prospect builds stable of online writers." I don't have much use for an announcement like this - I mean, it's not as if I don't link them frequently anyway. But it does remind me that I am still irritated that Glenn Reynolds is still on their blogroll. You know, you look at that and you can't help thinking, "They don't even have me there, and you can hardly say I'm more of a crackpot than he is." It just rankles, y'dig? (They don't have enough women on their blogroll anyway.) But really, Reynolds has just been increasingly offensive for so long now that there's no excuse.

Hal Davis sent me this error message. Thanks for the thought, Hal!
21:52 BST

More things to read

At Center for American Progress, Eric Alterman takes a good look at that study of journalists that right-wingers have been misrepresenting. In The Nation, he says John Kerry needs to come clean about being fooled by Bush: Like so much of the country--and its elite media--he made a terrible mistake in trusting George W. Bush. He underestimated both the fanaticism and incompetence of the President and his advisers and their willingness to mislead the country into war. He thought George Tenet's CIA reports were on the level. He imagined Colin Powell was more than just window-dressing.

At Tapped, Matt Yglesias catches Dick Morris floating the "Al Qaeda supports Kerry" line, with some suitably warped logic. Matt picks it apart and surmises that from Morris' logic, a Kerry win will mean the guy the terrorists are mad at will be out of the White House so they will leave us alone. And that would be a fine campaign slogan for Bush!

Also at Tapped, Nick Confessore says some useful things about the difference between journalistic "objectivity" and neutrality, and how they work.

A friendly reminder about Hubbert's Peak - what about when the oil runs out?

Dan Solomon: I haven't blogged for a long time, but this dragged me back. Long-time NY Times educational reporter wrote an opinion piece on failing charter schools in Texas so Edison Schools President hit back in a letter that inadvertently does a better job of exposing the dangers of this whole brand of school reform than I ever could. [Go to his main page if the permalink doesn't work.]
20:25 BST

Actual News

U.S. to Withdraw 12,500 Troops from Korea by Dec. 2005:

The United States officially informed the Korean government that the U.S. will pull 12,500 soldiers out of Korea by late December 2005, including the 3,600 soldiers scheduled to be sent to Iraq, according to Kim Sook, head of the foreign ministry's North American affairs bureau.
That's a third of our troops there. Hmmm.
17:09 BST


Amy Sullivan is not entirely sympathetic to poor Marc Racicot.

Kevin Drum on the Texas Republican platform: The problem with stories like this is that they actually make the Texas GOP sound better than it really is.

Enemy of the People didn't like Reagan much but found a silver lining, I guess.

At TalkLeft, a reminder that another part of the Reagan legacy is stepping up the war on drugs, with mandatory sentencing. In other stories, the anatomy of a wrongful conviction, the question of why Ashcroft picked someone with a terrible record to run US prisons in Iraq, and more voter disenfranchisement in Florida.

TalkLeft also alerts us that The Agonist is moving to this address at Scoop. We found a pointer to this William Grieder piece from The Nation about how Bush has effectively made the "War on Terror" into the new cold war there.

Uggabugga explained it all a year ago.
16:46 BST

Child abuse

I think I linked something earlier (that I'm too lazy to hunt for now) that connected George Bush's childhood with his attitudes now. It's not really a secret that badly-treated children can turn into fairly unpleasant adults if they haven't the facility for self-reflection.

You do have to wonder what experience informs the attitudes of the neocons, who seem to share a somewhat punitive and un-loving view of the world.

And Arthur Silber says:

I previously analyzed Kristol's reverence for a government that will "command" and "give orders," and his view that "[p]eople need that." I have not referred to the neoconservatives as neofascists for no reason; in fact, as my earlier post indicated, I had many reasons for the designation -- and these comments of Kristol's clearly reveal what some of them are.
The more you look at what neocons believe, the scarier these guys are. The nation can only be great if a whole lot of us (read: not them) are deprived of personal happiness. Or something like that. They think authoritarianism is a good thing. They are fundamentally anti-American, in the truest sense. They do not like our mission to create a nation of prosperous and free people.
14:32 BST


Gallimaufry found something to frighten Anya.

TBTM: How to Spot a Liar

Don't miss Jon Stewart explaining the real stories on Tenet's resignation and Chalabi's position, among other things. BeatBushBlog says so.
12:35 BST

Seen on the fabulous interweb

You Have Rights -- if Bush Says You Do

Recording Industry in Australia works to conceal record-breaking sales, and Sony is doing (I love this) illegal advertising in London.

Ever wonder what happened to that guy whose research paper British intel plagiarized to create support for the invasion? Richard Reeves says he's still writing about Iraq.

NYT's Apologies Miss the Point, says Robert Parry, who recognizes their behavior as part of a larger pattern of right-leaning journalism throughout the press corps. He ought to know.

Modern anti-semitism and the difference between George Soros and Sun Myung Moon.

Astroturf, UK style.

Digby helps David Brooks with his amnesia and praises Al Gore.

Very fine summary of Reagan's true legacy, from Juan Cole, another from Steve Gilliard, and another list of memories from GOTV.
01:43 BST

Sunday, 06 June 2004

Remembered as he should be

Epicycle has a little list, and you should read it if you've forgotten that, no, he really wasn't a great statesman or any of that stuff.
17:49 BST

Good stuff

The excellent Susan at the excellent Suburban Guerilla reminds us of "the other great documentary of the summer" and points to the trailer for The Hunting of the President. I'm dying to see this flick. (Is anyone handing out review DVDs?)

Susan also has a post up about this:

SACRAMENTO - California power grid managers accused of manipulating the energy market during the state's power crisis were cleared Friday in an internal report that swept aside earlier criticism of the agency.

The governing board of the California Independent System Operator found that employees had been untruthful with a Senate committee investigating the allegations two years ago, but said they would not be punished.
The report said the managers attempted to line up power purchases days before major power lines were shut down for maintenance. During phone calls in November 2001 managers spoke of scheduling a "fictitious load" of power.
A member of the now-disbanded committee, Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, said the ISO should have issued the original report and then disputed any charges it felt were inaccurate.

"To say the report lacks credibility would be an understatement," Bowen said in a written statement. "The original report done was highly critical of the ISO and charged the ISO with lying to the committee, but it got shelved by the board and was replaced by this 34-page piece of milquetoast."

And she's found a good article on Burger King moms
Most Americans believe that if you work hard and full time, you should not be poor. But the truth is that many working families are, and many low-income breadwinners must hold down multiple jobs just to survive. With stagnant wages in an economy that is growing for some but clearly not for others, more and more people and their children are simply being left out and left behind. What is at risk is the reality of a genuine opportunity society and the ethic of work when work no longer is enough to support a family.
And more.
16:47 BST

Reagan: He passed the largest tax-hike in history

I quoted a longer passage from Joe Conason's section on Republicans and economics in Big Lies last year, but I thought this was worth remembering:

The truth about history's largest tax increase was widely available to anyone who could read and use a calculator. In October 1994 the Wall Street Journal explained: "Contrary to Republican claims, the 1993 package is not 'the largest tax increase in history.' The 1982 deficit reduction package of President Reagan and Sen. Robert Dole in a GOP-controlled Senate was a bigger tax bill, both in 1993-adjusted dollars and as a percentage of overall economy." The New York Times and the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation reached the same conclusion, which required no formula more difficult than translating 1982 dollars into their 1993 equivalent. In other words, a year after passing his tax cuts, Reagan signed the largest tax increase in history. The Gipper still holds that record today.
When someone dies as the result of a long illness, those close to them usually feel a certain relief, and I hope his family is able to feel that now without too much guilt. I've had more than one friend watch the deterioration of someone they loved from Alzheimer's and have seen how crushing this can be, so in that sense - and in that sense only - I can see Reagan's death as a blessing. (Even I don't like seeing an ex-president in that condition. Although, now that I think of it, I didn't like seeing him in that condition while he was still president.) I did not, at this late date, feel any enmity toward him, nor any threat from him, and there is not even a tiny bit of gloating in my heart. But I am grateful that those who loved him have been released from watching him degenerate.

But I will certainly not remember him as a great president. He pretended that he could harmlessly give away the treasury to the rich and then dunned those who actually have to work for that money with the largest tax increase in history, and his admirers will not admit it. The only good thing I can say about him is that he wasn't George W. Bush.
14:37 BST

Easy pickin's

I see our little friend on the right has allegedly de-fisked my de-fisking of his fisking of Al Gore, and followed up with a new set of rules for "credible" argument. Dig this:

1. If you claim that President Bush called Saddam Hussein an "imminent threat," you lose approximately 50% of your total credibility. That means you can do it twice before you lose the argument.
The Center for American Progress is one of many sites to dispense with this, noting that the evasion appears to be finding the specific phrase "imminent threat" among Bush's own statements. But, as CAP shows, the administration did use these words and though they don't appear to have a direct quote from Bush himself using exactly that phrase, he certainly used other phrases that meant exactly the same thing. It's a bit of a game to refute the charge by saying that Bush did not use those exact words - he and his agents did their very best to project the view that Saddam represented an immediate threat to the United States.
2. If you claim that President Bush blamed Saddam Hussein for the September 11 terrorist attacks, you lose the argument.
I don't think I've ever seen a direct quote in which Bush explicitly and literally did so (although Cheney did so long after even the Washington press corps had tumbled to this trick, forcing Bush to deny it), but he sure worked hard to imply it. If a substantial percentage of Americans inferred it - and, apparently, they did - that just demonstrates that Bush communicated it effectively without ever explicitly stating it. Even the conservative Washington Post noticed this.
3. If you make a reference to President Bush's many lies, and then when asked to give an example, you say something like "There are too many, so I don't even know where to start," I will assume that you can't come up with one.
Because it's easier to come up with dozens than it is to settle on just one or two, and this is just a weblog, not a research paper. But, as I said, there are whole websites dedicated to the subject.

Of course, you can go right back to the 2000 presidential debates and find Bush denying his own policies. My personal favorite all-time blatant lie in the debate has been discussed here before: His claim that Gore had raised twice as much for the campaign as Bush had. This was intended to refute the notion that Bush was heavily funded by big corporations to an extent that Gore was not. It was an astonishing statement. For the entire first half of Bush's campaign, his biggest talking point had been that he'd managed to accrue record-breaking funds. There were endless exuberant articles in the Newspapers of Record about how much money he had raised. By the time of the debates, Bush had raised twice as much money as Gore had, and everyone knew it. This is not something one could easily overlook; Bush certainly must have known that he had twice as much money as Gore. This was not a matter of lying by omission or lying by implication: It was a bald false statement that was meant to libel Gore as a tool of corporate interests.

Which is why I particularly like that example. In most other cases, Bush's lies are dismissed as mere folly, as if he couldn't be expected to know the facts, or it is somehow excusable that he ignored inconvenient facts and (allegedly) allowed himself to believe things that were not true because they fit more comfortably into what he wanted to believe. But it is simply inconceivable that Bush did not know he had raised more money than Gore - and even if it were, it would make no real difference, because if we have a leader who is so consistently wrong, and who so consistently makes statements that are not true, the bottom line is that he is wrong, and we don't need a leader who is so manifestly wrong. He misstates his policies and their effects because he doesn't know what they are? How does that exonerate him from being a bad leader? He may be either incompetent or dishonest, but neither quality is appropriate in a man in his position. If he is not a liar - if his misstatements and missteps are not deliberate - then he is certainly incompetent. Which is precisely what Gore said.
12:55 BST


In the 5 June issue of The Week I found this:

A teacher from Brooklyn, New York, has been suspended after hanging a five-year-old from a coat-rack in the staffroom. Jason Schoenberger, 24, said he wanted to surprise a fellow teacher.
I found some more serious versions of the story elsewhere but on a cursory scan of a few of them didn't see his excuse in those articles.

On the other hand, the story of this guy was just as weird when I found what I presume to be the originating article:

MOVE over, Kim Jong Il, Dear Leader of North Korea. Make way for Turkmenbashi the Great, Father of the Turkmen. Long your rival for the title of champion megalomaniac, Saparmyrat Niyazov's latest stroke of genius confirms his superior mastery of the politics of the madhouse. As of tomorrow, the President-for-Life of Turkmenistan has declared non-Turkmen qualifications 'incompatible' with the nation's great strides into 'the golden century of Turkmenbashi ' and ordered the dismissal of every doctor, lawyer, teacher and public sector worker in the land who made the mistake of going abroad to study. Thousands have received the bald official notification: 'Your diploma is considered invalid. For this reason, you are notified that starting from June 1, you are dismissed from work.'

That, in Turkmenistan, means just about everyone with a decent education. Throughout the former Soviet Union, the best brains went to places such as Moscow or Leningrad all now classified as 'foreign'. This was particularly true of Turkmenistan, a reach of inhospitable desert about the size of California containing only 5 million people, that lies east of the Caspian Sea next to Iran and Afghanistan.

But it was much funnier in The Week:
The president has also banned ballet, renamed January after himself and ordered the construction of the world's largest shoe.
Maybe he just wanted to surprise another national leader.
10:39 BST


Countdown on transit of Venus - just watch this page so you know when to put on your special shades and look out the window this Tuesday. NPR did a program about it you can listen to. Here's a NASA piece about it. And here's some advice on observing it.

Watch the trailer for Fahrenheit 9/11.

Hear the music of the First Viennese Vegetable Orchestra played on...well, I bet you guessed.
00:07 BST

Saturday, 05 June 2004


Gore blisters Bush on war, 'moral cesspool' at Iraqi prison

Gore's 50-minute speech frequently brought the audience to its feet, whooping and shouting.

Gore said he initially supported Bush's decision to invade Afghanistan, but now realizes that the administration was already secretly agitating to find some way to launch a war in Iraq.

"They decided to take advantage of 9-11 and exploit the fears and exploit the anger and redirect it away from the people who attacked us" and attack Iraq, he said.

Bush has "looted" the economy and turned projected multitrillion-dollar surpluses into deep deficits, Gore said.

"In the last three and a half years, this administration has tragically and recklessly squandered our legacy, while the special interest people were advising him behind closed doors," Gore declared.

The Bush administration's "single objective is to help the wealthy and powerful," he said, adding that the president likes to act tough but "whenever he is in the presence of a wealthy contributor, he is a moral coward."

18:32 BST

Things I've read

Max Blumenthal has the dope on the man who will replace George Tenet at CIA: Because of Goss's fierce loyalty to the agency, he has come under fire from everyone from Nancy Pelosi to fellow Republican Richard Shelby, who said of him, "I don't think we should be too close to anybody we have oversight of, because you can't do your job." Also, Political Art Is Dangerous Again.

John Dean on the serious implications of Bush engaging a lawyer: Why might the grand jury wish to hear Bush's testimony? Most of the possible answers are not favorable for Bush.

Paul McCartney on drugs: He said the song Got To Get You Into My Life was "about pot - although everyone missed it at the time", and Day Tripper was "about acid". (via)

Firestarter: 20 years of Born in the USA
One score years ago, Bruce Springsteen brought forth on this continent a little record called Born in the U.S.A. (And we do mean record, not CD.)
I got that from Altercation, where the same post also has a ten-point list of the circumstantial evidence that Bush is an Al Qaida plant (with a link for every point).
17:23 BST

Do they think we're cheating?

We've heard a lot from the right about how liberals and Democrats (or anyone to the left of whatever the current RNC position of the moment is) is not quite a real American. Josh Marshall:

Here at TPM we've repeatedly noted the tendency for Republicans (and also non-Republicans) to argue that non-white voters somehow aren't quite real voters. The point is often framed as noting how up-the-creek Democrats would be without black voters.
We heard a lot of this during Tim Johnson's successful reelection campaign back in 2002 in South Dakota. And now it's being proffered as an excuse to explain Stephanie Herseth's narrow victory in the state earlier this week.

As Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), former head of the Republican House campaign committee (NRCC), told The Hill, "If you take out the Indian reservation, we would have won."

As I said when we last discussed this, I don't like making too much of this. I think the people who say such things haven't quite thought the point out. But their underlying assumption pretty clearly seems to be that blacks or Indians or whoever aren't quite real voters, and that Democrats who can't quite get the job done with ordinary white voters have to resort to them as a sort of electoral padding.

Not quite real Americans, and not quite real voters, either. So that would explain why it's okay to do things like, oh, just casually remove millions of them from the voting rolls, as they have in Florida and elsewhere. The continual use of the kind of rhetoric Josh is talking about is certainly meant to suggest to the public that Democrats gain elective office by use of illegitimate votes:
  • They're blacks.
  • They're redskins. And of course,
  • They're criminals.
As Josh points out, it seems like it wouldn't need saying that if a segment of a party's constituency were removed from the picture, it would reduce their turn-out and thus their representation. But why belabor this point? Are we supposed to respond by asking whether Republicans could win office if white racists and corporate criminals were eliminated from the picture? Isn't that the obvious inference?

But I don't think that's where they're going. The right takes for granted that it is racism rather than blackness that is properly "American".

Anyone who doubts this need only look at how the voter-purges worked. Although it was claimed that the purges were aimed at some vast number of ex-cons who illegally try to vote, it is actually quite well known that it's very, very rare for this to happen; these are people who might risk prison for money, sex, or drugs, but not just to vote. It simply isn't worth it.

But whose names were actually offered to officials to be purged from the rolls? Most of them weren't felons at all, as Greg Palast has ably demonstrated. But here's a point you don't hear much about: Taxpayers' money was used this way in states that by law do not disenfranchise ex-cons. Which means that the very fact of having a felon-purge was itself a criminal enterprise.

But that's okay, since it was just a crime against blacks, Democrats, liberals - not against "Americans".
14:42 BST


Found in the 29 May issue of The Week:

An American Christian group is lobbying to have the whale reclassified as a fish, because that is how the animal is described in the story of Jonah. "the Bible is God's own words," says a spokesman for Concerned Christians for Education Reform. "If the Lord says the whale is a 'great fish', it's a fish. Period."
Content from The Week isn't online, as far as I can tell, so no link. Couldn't seem to find an originating article, either.
01:26 BST

Friday, 04 June 2004

Things I saw

I saw the Harry Potter movie and I liked it. Then I wandered around Little India for a while with a pal. Haven't spent much time looking at the 'net today, don't know what the news is, etc. Here's something we prepared earlier:

Is Tenet Bush's Designated John Dean? As Richard Nixon began sustaining the first injurious fallout from the Watergate Scandal, the repercussions of which would ultimately topple him from power, his strategy was to present White House Counsel John Dean as designated administration sacrificial lamb. (via)

The Colorful Clouds of Rho Ophiuchi
21:34 BST


Thousands of people die because the White House was occupied by pirates who were busy robbing our treasury and didn't care about protecting our national security, and who then launched an invasion of another country for no intelligent reason, and Ray Bradbury is suddenly really angry. And what is he angry at?

Author Ray Bradbury has ripped into filmmaker Michael Moore for using the title "Fahrenheit 9/11" for his new Bush-bashing movie, an obvious takeoff on the 84-year-old's science-fiction classic "Fahrenheit 451."
"Michael Moore is a screwed a--hole, that is what I think about that case," Bradbury said according to an English translation of the story. "He stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission."

Continued the author: "[Moore] is a horrible human being - horrible human!"

This famous science fiction writer also displayed his predictive powers:
Bradbury dismissed any chance of the title being changed at this point:

"Who cares? Nobody will see his movie. It is almost dead already. Never mind, nobody cares."

Via Cory Doctorow, who expresses his disappointment. (I gotta be honest, I never liked Bradbury all that much, anyway. I mean, it's not like he was Theodore Sturgeon or something.)
13:50 BST


The other day I did a brief round-up of the reactions to Gore's speech, and one blogger on the right seems to have taken exception to my suggestion that their side had nothing new to say:

It links to part 3 of my fisking with the word "crazy." Heh heh. Nothing to say, huh? I guess that's why I spent several hours researching and dissecting the entire thing.

Nice dodge.

So, let's see if there was indeed anything new:
George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.
If you liberal idiots really cared about our international reputation, you wouldn't be bending over backwards to make it look like the Abu Ghraib abuses represent our entire military.
Of course, no one said any such thing. Gore said that it was the result of a policy - one that quite a few members of our military have been expressing disgust with, by the way.

Leaving that aside, we liberals don't have to say a single word to wreck America's international reputation, since George Bush has already accomplished that all by himself. What we liberals are trying to do is remind the world that many Americans are disgusted by what happened at Abu Ghraib and want that policy stopped immediately.

Again, this "point" is nothing new: It's a standard RNC talking point that it's not the administration's disastrous policies that make us look bad, but people who observe that those policies are disastrous that make us look bad. Right-wingers are apparently unaware that the rest of the world was disgusted without any help from us liberals.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.
"Bush lied! Bush lied!" Even the former vice president is parroting this pathetic smear now. I love how they can NEVER PROVIDE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES. We just have to trust them, since everyone knows that Republicans are liars. After all, if they were honest, they wouldn't agree with the eeeeeeevil right wing agenda.
It is hard to know what to say to someone who claims we "never provide specific examples." The examples are so abundant at this point that I hardly know where to start. There are entire websites dedicated just to detailing the rather wide distinction between what Bush says and what he does, what Bush says and what is true. Any regular reader of Eschaton can probably think of a half dozen off the top of their head. Seeing the Forest regularly reminds us not to count on what they say, but to watch what they do.

You have to laugh at this particular criticism, even though, of course, we have heard this one before, as well. People whose memories go back as far as 2000 remember that one criticism of Gore was that he provided too many details, seemed to have too good a grasp of them and did not hesitate to discuss them. But then the same critics turned around and complained that a single speech is not presented as if it were a research paper. Nothing new.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention.
Yeah, because he ordered those poor, innocent guards to stack prisoners naked and take photos. And by the way, THE GENEVA CONVENTION ONLY APPLIES TO SOLDIERS IN UNIFORM! Terrorists disguised as civilians have no rights.
This is another RNC talking point, and of course it is false. First of all, the Geneva Conventions say that if an individual's status is in doubt, a tribunal must be held to determine that status before such an exception can be made; until that time, they must be treated as if they were covered by the protections of the Geneva Conventions. No such tribunals have ever been held with regard to the people in Guantanamo, let alone Iraq. Moreover, it is now well known that many - indeed, most - of those detained are entirely innocent; they weren't wearing uniforms because they were not, in fact, combatants, spies, or anything else - they were just residents and had no reason to be wearing uniforms. (The exception our hero is referring to applies only if we are talking about an army that has uniforms, in any event. We haven't even established whether uniforms are required by combatant Iraqis or Afghanistan's soldiers.)

More importantly, the Geneva Conventions make no exceptions for torture at all. There are no circumstances where they allow for the torture of anyone, ever, no matter what. That's some research you did, sugar.

Note also that our hero is unable to distinguished between Iraqis and Al Qaeda. You will recall, even if CD does not, that there is no known connection between Iraq and 9/11, but the illustrious CD presumes that every single person who happened to be around where US military personnel were picking up apparently random personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq were terrorists.

Ah, here's a good one:

He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq.
Could've fooled me.
Clearly, someone did. I mean, it's only been all over the news.
How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.
The horror! The horror!!! How about the horror that we felt in witnessing the 9/11 attacks? Do you really believe that those poor, mistreated prisoners wouldn't have flown those planes themselves if given the chance? We treated them better than they deserve.
Again, it has also been all over the news that most of the people detained in Iraq are innocent. And if you think merely by virtue of being Iraqis that they were pleased to see 9/11, let alone that they would have been willing participants, you really need to see a proctologist about the position of your head.

But of course, this has been the real Number One Talking Point of Bush with regard to Iraq: that it was not Osama, not Saudi Arabians, not insane religious fanatics, who were responsible for 9/11, but the secular government of Iraq. (This is one of those lies we were talking about earlier, CD.)

To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II.
From its earliest days in power? What the f**k were they doing before 9/11 that was so horrible for us?
Yep, that was terrific research you did. Do the words "South Korea" ring a bell? Bush was wrecking our foreign policy very early in his term. 9/11 just stepped it up a few notches.

Part 1 goes on pretty much in that vein. Part 2 begins:

This next section is a bit beyond my area of expertise, so it's not going to be brilliant, but I have to get through it so I can return to the good stuff. Let's begin...
At which point I thought to myself, "Let's not." Having seen his "expertise" in Part 1, I'd had plenty. Part 3 is a projection of the terrible threat Kerry presents to us. Nothing new, nothing new, nothing new. But pig-ignorant, f'sure.

The astonishing thing is that this so-called "fisking" is presented as some sort of refutation of Gore's speech. Not a single word of it has been refuted, of course; this isn't even a half-decent example of a rebuttal, let alone a refutation. But, amazingly, this guy just throws out a bunch of tired old RNC talking points and a load of snide statements and thinks he has presented something new.

[Update here.]
03:27 BST


Well, I am chagrined, Kevin drum did a post about female bloggers, including me, and I've been getting all these visitors and I haven't written much of anything all week, just posted a passel of links and quotes. Most readers of The Sideshow will probably be familiar with most of the weblogs he mentions, but do check out the others he listed as well as those added in the comments by his readers.
01:29 BST

Thursday, 03 June 2004

Recommended reading

I learned at Get Donkey that Howard Dean has a weekly newspaper column. I think the first one is Electronic voting - not ready for prime time: In December 2000, five Supreme Court justices concluded that a recount in the state of Florida's presidential election was unwarranted. This, despite the desire of the Florida Supreme Court to order a statewide recount in an election that was decided by only 537 votes. In the face of well-documented voting irregularities throughout the state, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision created enormous cynicism about whether the votes of every American would actually be counted. Although we cannot change what happened in Florida, we have a responsibility to our democracy to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

I think I've seen this cited elsewhere in the blogosphere, but if you haven't seen Dana Milbank's Tuesday piece in The Washington Post, Making Hay Out of Straw Men, check it out: It is an ancient debating technique: Caricature your opponent's argument, then knock down the straw man you created. In the 2004 campaign, Bush has been knocking down such phantoms on subjects from Iraq to free trade.

Two articles from Matt Welch in Reason:

  • On the climate of suppression of free speech and the abandonment of First Amendment principles by journalists, in Fair-Weather Friends: Similarly, when Cumulus banished the Dixie Chicks from its airwaves after lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience she was "ashamed" to hail from the same state as President Bush, many self-described civil libertarians made the point that, after all, Cumulus is a private company and is free to air whomever it likes. That is true, of course. But defending freedom of speech is more than just respecting private property. It's expressing support for the climate of free-wheeling expression.
  • On the idea that the American press is a fifth column bent on losing the war, in Flaming the Messenger: "But for the most part," Michael Barone wrote in a column earlier this week, "[Franklin] Roosevelt did not have to deal with one problem Bush faces today. And that is that today's press works to put the worst possible face on the war." Instead of being greeted with the howls of mockery it richly deserved, this hyperbolic rant was greeted as Important Media Criticism all over the pro-war blogosphere.

Meanwhile, Matt Yglesias, having struggled with the contradictions of the "Two Presidents Theory" (one president - Karl Rove - running a cynical domestic policy at home while the other - Dick Cheney - creates a debacle in Iraq because his theories are just stupidly naive), finds this unsatisfying and comes up with a unified theory: Now, at last, with the revelation that Ahmad Chalabi has been passing intelligence information to the regime in Iran, the opportunity presents itself to construct just such a unified theory. The truth, hard as it is to accept, is that Bush is an Iranian agent. The light-hearted tone should not be mistaken for light-weight analysis; there's a serious point, here.

And Tom Tomorrow explains whose fault it is if the war goes badly because it was ill-considered, poorly planned, and badly managed.
14:31 BST


What the Times Did was Bad; What It Didn't Do was Worse

One problem with this referendum is that the case against George Bush is much too strong. Just to spell it out is to sound like a bitter partisan. Via Progressive Gold.

The last ditch chance of someone in the wrong

America the Gulag Nation (via)

Money Is Bad.

The #1 nominee for the Dumb@$$ Hall of Fame.

Best health news of the week.

I kept noticing these Diebold posters over at Bartcop and wondering where he got them. (via)
02:14 BST

Wednesday, 02 June 2004

Art Section

Mark Bode completes his dad's work.
You remember him, right?

Wouldn't it be cool if you could send your friends animated Japanese postcards? (I quite liked this one.) (via)

Really smart businessmen.

The worst disaster film ever, from Seriously Though.
23:17 BST

Rugby hero

I missed the big sports story over the weekend, which was the Bingham Cup. Doesn't matter to me who played or who won, but I didn't know any of this and I think it's kinda cool:

Then there was his rugby. As a 6ft 4in, 220lb powerhouse No8, his colleagues on the University of California XV which twice won the national title always looked to Bingham when the going got tough.

"He was a man you wanted on your team, always willing to take charge if things weren't working right," said Eberhart. "He played with a smile but would hit like a freight train!"

Then, as Americans celebrated the heroes of flight 93 as the first true US symbols of resistance in their war against terrorism, they discovered another thing about Mark Bingham. He was gay.

To his friends, this was irrelevant. He wasn't a gay hero; he was just a hero. Others, though, felt he should be held up as a role model, a shining example of a gay man who became a hero.
The sheer size of one of the world's biggest single-site rugby festivals - it will feature 27 teams and 650-plus players from around the world, watched by crowds of up to 3,000 - is testament to the explosion of interest in the sport in the gay community which has been largely inspired by Bingham's name. The Rugby Football Union support it, United Airlines have provided financial backing and mum Alice has flown in to present the trophy on Sunday.
One Fog team-mate, pondering what must have happened on Flight 93, had this recurring image of Bingham on the rugby field. "We'd kicked the ball, and there were 15 people between Mark and the guy who caught it. Mark would duck down his head and go through the crowd fearlessly and then tackle that guy."

It will be a weekend to remember a good rugby player and a good man.

Astonishingly, this tribute was given a full page in London's Evening Standard, hardly a liberal paper. But you no longer have to be liberal - in this city, at least - to know that how tall you stand is not a matter of sexual preference. And though no one really knows what happened in that plane on that day, people know that Mark Bingham was someone to look up to.
20:29 BST


A reminder: You can't trust machines to count your votes.

Vets upset to find Bush's name on WWII memorial (via)

Enron's heist: It's all on the tapes.

An excerpt from The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos (via)

Skippy found another joke.
13:34 BST

Words and pictures

I'm not entirely sure, but I think this guy is saying that liberals made things so nice for his generation that they thought it was safe to support Republicans. Or something like that.

" of the richest and bleakest pieces from Israel I've seen."

David Broder sorta notices that the Republicans are scamming us.

The Smirking Chimp has Lawrence Freedman's article from the Financial Times, America's battle to regain respect.

Rock the Vote asks if you are ready to serve. And they have a poll.

In Photoshop veritas

The Supergalactic Wind from Starburst Galaxy M82 - Wow!
01:34 BST

Tuesday, 01 June 2004

Lying liars: torture division

I really wish Cursor used permalinks for each day's entries, but it doesn't. In any case, catch today's stuff about the Newsweek article and other coverage of Abu Ghraib and everything else:

Newsweek reports on signs of a cover-up in the Abu Ghraib scandal and the Chicago Tribune quotes's John Pike on the limitations of the Army's probe headed by Maj. Gen. George Fay: "Is this guy going to get to the bottom of Gen. Boykin's operation, or is this guy going to unwrap what Steve Cambone knew and when he [knew] it, or who authorized all this over at the White House? Of course not. Or figure out what CIA's role was in all of this? No way."

The Newsweek article mentions attorney Scott Horton, who said on "Now" that "the Pentagon's script" is to "keep the camera on these lurid photographs," to "just talk about six or seven rotten apples" and to "portray the Geneva convention as a web of hopelessly complicated legal technicalities that no one could be expected really to understand and even the lawyers disagree about them."

As the AP reports that "Several U.S. guards say they witnessed military intelligence operatives encouraging the abuse of Iraqi inmates at four prisons other than Abu Ghraib," the Washington Post editorializes that "President Bush's persistence in describing the abuse of foreign prisoners as an isolated problem at one Iraqi prison is blatantly at odds with the facts seeping out from his administration."

The Post's Fred Hiatt accuses Bush of giving aid and comfort to the enemy by opting to address the Iraq prison scandal with "a Nixonian strategy of damage containment, and a summer of piecemeal disclosure," and Billmon writes that "it's as if in the summer of 1974, Richard Nixon was still trying to blame everything on Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, even as the Ervin Committee was exposing his own taped self incriminations."

Nicely put.
20:26 BST

Lying liars: economics division

Josh Marshall notes that today's column by David Brooks is floating a brand-new excuse for the first round of Bush tax-cuts: that, in the advent of the bubble bursting and the recession, businesses were calling the White House begging for a policy shift to improve the economy. As Marshall says, it's pretty hard to buy that one given that the tax-cut proposal was part of his 2000 campaign and was sold on the basis that the economy was buoyant at the time. The proposal never came off the table, even when we went into recession in March of 2001. A new rationalization for the policy - to help the recovery - was introduced as the economy started to drag. Says Josh:

This new argument -- that the White House pushed through big tax cuts because of the economic slow-down of early 2001 -- is simply an effort to retrospectively exonerate reckless and dishonest behavior which was demonstrably reckless and dishonest at the time. Columnists should challenge that sort of mendacity, not abet it.
Josh does not make note of the fact that the recession hadn't actually started at the time they took office, either, and this lie is also meant to incorporate and buttress another RNC lie: that the recession began not in March of 2001, but during the Clinton presidency.
18:27 BST

Not gonna happen

Carl Bernstein had an article in USA Today recently that said History lesson: GOP must stop Bush:

"You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror," Bush told Rumsfeld in a Wizard-of-Oz moment May 10, as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and senior generals looked on. "You are a strong secretary of Defense, and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude." The scene recalled another Oz moment: Nixon praising his enablers, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, as "two of the finest public servants I've ever known."
It was Barry Goldwater, the revered conservative, who convinced Nixon that he must resign or face certain conviction by the Senate - and perhaps jail. Goldwater delivered his message in person, at the White House, accompanied by Republican congressional leaders.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee likewise put principle above party to cast votes for articles of impeachment. On the eve of his mission, Goldwater told his wife that it might cost him his Senate seat on Election Day. Instead, the courage of Republicans willing to dissociate their party from Nixon helped Ronald Reagan win the presidency six years later, unencumbered by Watergate.
Today, the United States is confronted by another ill-considered war, conceived in ideological zeal and pursued with contempt for truth, disregard of history and an arrogant assertion of American power that has stunned and alienated much of the world, including traditional allies. At a juncture in history when the United States needed a president to intelligently and forcefully lead a real international campaign against terrorism and its causes, Bush decided instead to unilaterally declare war on a totalitarian state that never represented a terrorist threat; to claim exemption from international law regarding the treatment of prisoners; to suspend constitutional guarantees even to non-combatants at home and abroad; and to ignore sound military advice from the only member of his Cabinet - Powell - with the most requisite experience. Instead of using America's moral authority to lead a great global cause, Bush squandered it.

In Republican cloakrooms, as in the Oval Office, response to catastrophe these days is more concerned with politics and PR than principle. Said Tom DeLay, House majority leader: "A full-fledged congressional investigation - that's like saying we need an investigation every time there's police brutality on the street."
What did George W. Bush know and when did he know it? Another wartime president, Harry Truman, observed that the buck stops at the president's desk, not the Pentagon.

But among Republicans today, there seems to be scant interest in asking tough questions - or honoring the example of courageous leaders of Congress who, not long ago, stepped forward, setting principle before party, to hold accountable presidents who put their country in peril.

(I'm pretty sure Nixon's son-in-law was instrumental in convincing him to resign, as well.)

Bernstein was also on Countdown with Keith Olbermann later, and pointed out that George F. Will was among the first conservatives to start criticizing Nixon. Now he seems to have been repeating that history. It would be nice to think it's the beginning of another ground-swell.
17:20 BST

Things to read

Arthur Silber: Many of today's hawks speak as if the dangers we now face are unique in some indefinable way, and that they represent a particularly dangerous and lethal threat to us. But nothing about what is now occurring is new. Also read Arthur on Bush and the Responsibility Era - and what it means.

I've been dismayed for years about the appalling silence on major civil liberties issues, and on the invasion, of British musicians whose position is unassailable enough that they could speak out with impunity. I guess it's very nice that McCartney finally said something but what took him so long, and where are the rest of 'em?

From Outlook India via The Smirking Chimp, Omar Barghouti: 'Whatever you ask, please do not ask why we 'hate' you'
13:36 BST

In tribute

If you don't remember who Sam Dash and Archibald Cox were, here are a few useful links:

Kieran at Crooked Timber talks about The Saturday Night Massacre (and Bork's reasons for wielding the knife on Nixon's behalf: "Cox had done nothing wrong, but the President can't be faced down in public by a subordinate official").

TalkLeft on Cox here, and on Dash here and here with reminiscence and round-ups.
02:10 BST

Feeling a chill?

Our own member of the working UK press says in e-mail:

i've checked it out, and these bills DO exist. i figure it'll take at least 5 million soldiers to 'protect' the saudi oilfields for the christian right!
He enclosed a copy of (but not a link to) the story in The Guardian that's been floating around the web already:
Last Wednesday, the American public was officially instructed to panic. Attorney general John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller - brows furrowed, faces grim - took over primetime TV to deliver a spine-chilling message to their fellow citizens: "Al-qaida attack imminent." When, where, and what form the outrage will take, is unknown. But something very, very awful is going to happen very, very soon.

Cynics will be sceptical. Was this another attempt by the administration, like those "orange alerts" last year, to divert attention from Iraq, the soaring price of gasoline, and Abu Ghraib?

On the same day that Ashcroft was terrifying his countrymen, I was emailed by an American student friend. He too is terrified. "The US legislature," he wrote, "is trying to bring back the draft asap. Check it out at For some reason no major news networks or printed media in this country are carrying this story. If these bills go through, the only thing between me and military service is my asthma."

He's right. There is pending legislation in the American House of Representatives and Senate in the form of twin bills - S89 and HR163. These measures (currently approved and sitting in the committee for armed services) project legislation for spring 2005, with the draft to become operational as early as June 15.

Draft-dodging will be harder than in the 1960s. In December 2001, Canada and the US signed a "smart border declaration", which, among other things, will prevent conscientious objectors (and cowards) from finding sanctuary across the northern border. There will be no deferment on higher-education grounds. Mexico does not appeal.

All this has been pushed ahead with an amazing lack of publicity. One can guess why. American newspapers are in a state of meltdown, distracted by war-reporting scandals at USA Today and the New York Times. There is an awareness in the press at large that the "embedding" system was just that - getting into bed with the military and reporting their pillow talk as "news from the frontline". The fourth estate has failed the American public and continues not to do its job.

I'm morally opposed to forcing people to kill others and risk injury or death for something they don't believe in. I've felt that way as long as I can remember. And now I've got two nephews who will soon be draft-age. And neither of them has asthma.
02:06 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, June 2004

May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
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January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
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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.