The Sideshow

Archive for June 2005

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Thursday, 30 June 2005

Running government like a business

As previously discussed, privatization is a way to make things more expensive, less efficient, and generally more of a rip-off. Today's example tells us how post-9/11 "security" went haywire once the administration decided to let the private sector handle it:

The money was spent in the name of improving security at the nation's airports:

$526.95 for one phone call from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago to Iowa City.

$1,180 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee -- $3.69 a cup -- at the Santa Clara Marriott in California.

$1,540 to rent 14 extension cords at $5 each per day for three weeks at the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo.

$8,100 for elevator operators at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.

$5.4 million claimed for nine months' salary for the chief executive of an "event logistics" firm that received a contract before it was incorporated and went out of business after the contract ended.

The company, which was already set up to do what it was hired to do, decided it needed to create an entire parallel set of centers to do the job. And to work out of the priciest of hotels. Well, gosh, that sort of thing does run up the bills, doesn't it?

17:10 BST

Labor Department hides report

I know we're getting used to this, but of course they really are supposed to tell us this stuff.

The U.S. Labor Department worked for more than a year to maintain secrecy for studies that were critical of working conditions in Central America, the region the Bush administration wants in a new trade pact. The contractor hired by the department in 2002 to conduct the studies has become a major opponent of the administration's proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.

The government-paid studies concluded that countries proposed for free-trade status have poor working environments and fail to protect workers' rights. The department dismissed the conclusions as inaccurate and biased, according to government and contractor documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

The Senate Finance Committee, which approved the agreement by a voice vote Wednesday, sent it to the full Senate for consideration this week or after the Independence Day recess.

The contractor is the International Labor Rights Fund.

In a summary of its findings, the organization wrote, "In practice, labor laws on the books in Central America are not sufficient to deter employers from violations, as actual sanctions for violations of the law are weak or nonexistent."

The conclusions contrast with the administration's arguments that Central American countries have made enough progress on such issues to warrant the free-trade deal.
One lawmaker said he was shocked that a federal agency charged with protecting the rights of Americans workers would go to such lengths to block the public from seeing its own contractor's concerns before Congress votes on the agreement.

"You would think if any agency in our government would care about this, it would be the Labor Department," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said.
Shortly after that incident, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., began a yearlong effort to pry the studies from the department through a Freedom of Information Act request. The department rejected his request until two months ago, when Levin received - and released - early drafts of the reports.

So now you know.

15:41 BST

Uno Mundo

What a coincidence. The Knight Ridder reporter who was killed Friday in Baghdad was killed by a bullet that "appears to have been fired by a U.S. military sniper." I don't think anyone is actually saying it out loud but you know what I'm thinking: There have been an unusually high number of reporters killed in this war and I'm tired of pretending it seems like a coincidence. Via Will Bunch.

I guess Bush was setting the scene, or maybe it's just that the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism is too far out of the loop to know what's going on (and wouldn't that just be typical?), but NC Congressman Robin Hayes insisted on the air that "Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11." David Sirota reckons this is just another desperate lie to try to shore up support.

Tony Blair must figure that if lying outright works for Bush, he might as well keep to the plan. Only trouble is that at this point even Americans have noticed that Bush is lying, and most don't seem to like it. Blair is still trying to pretend that the Downing Street documents don't say what they say and mean what they mean; I hope the Labour Party is paying attention and plans to get rid of him really quick.

The General Synod of the United Church of Christ will start meeting this Friday in Atlanta. Chuck Currie will be blogging it at their official weblog.

Alice Marshall (of GOTV) sent me a link to this little nugget: The Internal Revenue Service has awarded ChoicePoint Government Services a contract worth as much as $20 million to serve as the agency's public records provider for batch processing projects, according to the company. Yes, you remember ChoicePoint, the company that provided Katherine Harris with those lists of people who were convicted in 2007 and therefore weren't eligible to vote in Florida in 2000. [Update: Dan Holzman in comments adds: That's also the ChoicePoint that recently sold the consumer information it collects on 145,000 people to fraudulent businesses it hadn't exercised due care in vetting. That's also the ChoicePoint with the CISO who said, "Look, I'm the chief information security officer. Fraud doesn't relate to me." (I'm actually considering filing an ethics complaint to see if his CISSP should be revoked over that.)]

Ted Kennedy has a guest post up at Light Up The Darkness in response to Bush's speech, saying we must hold this administration accountable, and he asks for your help.

Helga tells me that the whole abortion thing is happening in Australia, too.

11:48 BST

Things you should know

Bill Scher has done The Annotated Speech, but read down to the bottom of that post for the Quick Hit that asks you to Stand Up for The Minneapolis Star Tribune, a rare newspaper that has kept looking for the truth when others have cowered from it. "And it is under attack from the Right for just that reason," says Bill. He suggests writing to them to show your support, and also subscribing, if you can afford to.

I'm not entirely sure why Bob Somerby is sounding so snarky about whether Kevin Drum will have anything to say about Chris Matthews' performance in his fake town hall meeting, but read on for his lesson on where spin comes from, such that the firm exit polling that showed Clinton winning in '92 even without Ross Perot has been forgotten (even by Tapped's Garance Franke-Ruta), resulting in the widely-held belief that Perot cost GHWB the election. As some of you will recall, it is exactly this belief that fuelled a number of conservatives' fire and made them insist that Clinton won illegitimately and therefore justified attacks on him that would not otherwise have been deemed acceptable. Or so they say.

Leftward Christian Soldiers in The American Prospect by Rob Garver: Deep in the heart of the reddest county in a red state, a new grass-roots movement is taking shape that means to break the religious right's hold on the rhetoric of Christianity by developing a network of activists on the "Christian left" that can be mobilized to support progressive causes.

Kos makes an addition to Katherine Harris' wardrobe: I fixed the election for Bush, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

Via Maru, a Raw Story post I missed last week on yet another defector, Republican candidate calls Bush Admin 'Nazis,' quits party: Cary, NC - A candidate for North Carolina Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court has announced on her campaign's blog that she is leaving the Republican Party and denounced the Bush administration's policy on troop withdrawal from Iraq. Rachel Lea Hunter, a Republican and a candidate for Chief Justice, likens Bush's administration to the "Nazis" and says that all who disagree with the administration are being branded as "traitors".

Business news: Trish Wilson tells you where to get your investment advice.

10:30 BST

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Here's some links

Anne Zook, Hate Lives On: Demagogy is a good word.

Via The Agitator, DEA Raid on Billings Doctor Brings Pain Wars to Montana: The uproar began on April 20, when DEA agents arrived at Nelson's West End office and seized his medical records and prescribing certificate. He hasn't been arrested or charged, he is not accused of inappropriate prescriptions, but he can't treat his pain patients without that certificate. And no one knows what the DEA may do to him next.

Digby smells the odor of the past - the recent past for the DLC, and - hey, did Bush just give Nixon's speech? Hmmm. And, on CNN, it appears Joe Biden and Paul Begala are being very helpful to Bush.

Charlie is pissed off with the UK's government. (Oops, he seems to have messed up the permalink. Go to his page and scroll to "Stupid, stupid".) (Further update: Thanks to Steve Glover for the right link.)

Mike the Corpuscle finds an interesting blogger.

Max on The Other War Party.

Nathan Newman on why the Democrats absolutely cannot agree to any Social Security bill.

Southerndemnut discovers the difference between Republicans and Democrats.

Can't argue with that.

Dig the colors, man. (via)

16:50 BST

Just in case it's news

Shorter George Bush: "Stay the curse; 9/11; support the troops because I sure won't. To me they're just toys and props." If there is one thing you can say about Bush, he's got gall. Think Progress has heard it all before. I agree with Jeralyn, as usual, but she has some good links. Aravosis notes that even the applause was fake. NYT analysis says Bush acknowledged there were problems in Iraq but said nothing new, critics were unimpressed, Bush still thinks he's right. I really think the networks should refuse to show these stump speeches.

Rachel's page has two related stories: Kerry and Byrd's VA Bill Passes as VA Faces Huge Funding Shortfall. The Administration Claims Their Low Numbers Were Due to an Unexpectedly High Number of Casualties. Unexpected Casualties in War? The Best Part is, Republicans Actually Opposed It Until They Realized Bush Was Going to Be Giving a Speech on Iraq Later That Day. Unbelievable. Also, Release of 144 Abu Ghraib Images Delayed, - they've asked for a release date on a Friday instead.

Rachel also links to an NYT story saying that the real culprits at Abu Ghraib are being promoted. Hey, "Watch what we do."

Republicans think Democrats shouldn't be allowed to own baseball teams. 20 years ago I remember a Republican meme that baseball was a wimp's game and the hot sport was football. Hmph.

Radley Balko says the SC's eminent domain decision has opened the floodgates.

Note to Deborah: Not again.

11:10 BST

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Things I saw today

Will Time Inc. Hand Over Documents that Keep Cooper Out of Jail? While New York Times officials have maintained that Miller will not reveal the source who leaked to her the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, a source close to Time Inc. told E&P that the company is considering handing over documents that would reveal the source.

Charlie Quimby is just beginning to get an inkling of a little problem we've alluded to before - that certain types of people have a lot in common.

Billmon has a good response to Bill Keller's suicide note.

TBogg is covering the mysterious loss of liberals at dinner parties.

Another Republican leaves the fold: My problem is this: I believe in principles and ideals which my party has systematically discarded in the last 10 years. Cookie Jill liked it so much she says she wants to see it printed in every paper.

From Rachel's blog: Obama Gives a Speech About Abraham Lincoln. Now Take That News Story, Put it in a Right Wing Blender, and What You Get is a Crazy Drudge Goo That is Supposed to Make You Think Sen. Obama Was "Taking a Swipe at Lincoln." Another One Torn Straight From The Right Wing Hand Book. Apparently, Drudge found a way to twist the speech into an attack on Lincoln. (Unfortunately, the only link she has is to Drudge's front page, and it's no longer up there.) No, I don't know why all the words are capitalized, either.) She also has a link to the NYT story on the bizarre Supreme Court decision that police aren't required to protect the public. Er, what else are they for?

And, yet another reason why my love affair with Arthur Silber's writing continues.

22:45 BST

In the beginning

It started like this - David Neiwert sees bumper stickers and other things that have a certain disturbing familiarity.

And I don't want to let this (commenting on this post) languish in the comments where it will die:

The Republican construct of "patriotism" is a rigid adherence to their partisan ideology, not to a diversity of political views.

Republicans conveniently confuse allegiance to their party goals as allegiance to the United States.

So Dick Durbin telling the truth is "unpatriotic" in their view, because it exposes the difference.

The Republicans have wanted a "flag protection" law for a long time, for the same reason - to coerce by force of law allegiance to their idea of patriotism."

Which is literally what the Nazis did.

RGB 1-I, 548, Statutory Criminal Law of Germany:

"Whoever publicly profanes the Reich or one of the states incorporated into it, its constitution, colors or flag or the German armed forces, or maliciously and with premeditation exposes them to contempt, shall be punished by imprisonment"

On December 19, 1932, immediately after the Nazis achieved their electoral triumph in the Reichstag and while Hitler orchestrated his appointment as Chancellor a couple weeks later, the government of the Third Reich passed its first flag protection statute, and became one of only a couple governments in all of world history to federally criminalize displays of contempt for a nation's flag. It was considered so important, it was one of the very first pieces of legislation the Nazis passed.

The statute was broadened on June 28, 1935, to "protect" the German National Socialist Labor Party and its symbols (ie, the swastika). And so now the Republicans are trying to diminish the Stars and Stripes to mean nothing better to the world than a swastika.

In the same way that saunas are inherently Swedish, and Sushi is intrinsically Japanese - because they were invented in those places, born of the culture that created them and made them a prominent feature of their daily lives - legislation that was invented by the legal minds which crafted the Third Reich, legislation and legal operations that were idiosyncratic to fascist Germany, display an inherently fascist character.

Nazi Germany featured traffic laws too, but those statutes weren't exclusive to Germany, the way "Flag protection" law is.

The only other government in world history to institute a federal "flag protection" law, so far as I am aware, is the Republic of China, not exactly a bastion of free political dissent. There, a flag protection statute was passed in 1973, with language that also imposed criminal punishment for "dishonoring" the portrait of iconic political personage Sun Yat-sen - in other words, criminal punishment for drawing political cartoons.

That is the Republican ideal of patriotism. Marching in goose-step to their political agenda.
bz | 06.20.05 - 10:54 pm

18:11 BST

The pointless new child porn law

Mark Kernes says pretty much what I would be saying to anyone who asks:

First, experience has shown that - surprise, surprise! - people who make actual child pornography don't keep records, they don't get model releases, they don't give a shit about age verification (except perhaps to make sure that their performers look prepubescent), and they rarely if ever label their product to show who the custodian of those (non-existent) records is and where that person and those (non-existent) records can be located. So as far as actual child pornography is concerned, 2257 isn't going to go a long way toward "ensuring that only those who are at least 18 years of age perform in such sexually explicit depictions." In fact, it isn't going to go any way at all toward ensuring that. Further, with or without 2257 records, and with or without 18 U.S.C. 2257 itself, making child pornography - hell, even just possessing it - is a crime punishable by many years in federal prison and massive fines.

The adult industry, on the other hand, does not, as a rule, make child pornography. It has long made an effort, even well before the first record-keeping law was passed in 1988, to avoid using minors in its productions, whether or not it kept records of that fact. Moreover, in the 20 years since the first underage performer scandal hit the industry - the one involving Traci Lords - there have been, including Traci, exactly four (4) underage performers who have managed to sneak into the business. The others were Alexandria Quinn, Jeff Browning and Precious, and each was discovered, not by police officers or federal inspectors, but by adult industry producers themselves - who promptly announced to the adult world that the minors had been uncovered, and had all product in which those performers appeared pulled from store and warehouse shelves.

Now, let's be clear: No one in the adult industry went out and found these underage performers, arranged for them to obtain fake IDs and dragged them naked in front of a video camera to perform sex. No one, not even the pro-censorship groups, has ever made that claim. On the contrary, each of these individuals sought out the industry on his or her own, obtained their own fraudulent IDs and passed them - and themselves - off as legitimate adult performers of legal age.

Which they could do because they did not look like children, and therefore were completely uninteresting to anyone who was looking to make or look at child porn.

Mark's attitude toward people like Traci Lords is more punitive than mine - I think if a teenager wants to go through that much trouble to appear in pornography, that makes it a consensual contract. As long as it's so dangerously illegal to produce pornography involving a minor, I can understand Mark's view that it's the teenager who set out to break the law with deliberation and defraud the pornographer, and that therefore it's the teenager, if anyone, who should be regarded as the criminal.

But I sure as hell don't want to see those kids put in jail.

(Mark has more here.)

11:01 BST

On the Infobahn

Now that Biden has announced his intention to run for the 2008 nomination, David Podvin has a pretty scathing indictment of Clueless Joe.

I agree with Arthur that, "It takes an enormous amount of courage to change one's mind in the manner Representative Jones has, in the full glare of the media spotlight," but it still amazes me that there are people - adults - who can root for war without understanding that they are rooting for death. I'm glad Jones was human enough to be touched, finally, by the deaths, but I'd hope a grown man would already have seen this coming. Unfortunately for us all, most of those who still root for this war will never have their pristine vision of military glory stained by having to look the results in the eye.

State Guard forms anti-terrorism intelligence unit: Three decades after aggressive military spying on Americans created a national furor, California's National Guard has quietly set up a special intelligence unit that has been given ''broad authority'' to monitor, analyze and distribute information on potential terrorist threats, the Mercury News has learned. Does this sound a bit scary to you?

Joss Whedon has been taking a pre-release cut of Serenity on tour. The show in Portland is reviewed. And here's a neat cast painting, at the author's weblog.

01:13 BST

Monday, 27 June 2005

Stuff I saw

The Spectacularly Obtuse Blog has some news from next week that I somehow missed: While they were discussing how to punish people for genital mutilation, the Georgia House went on a little side-trip and banned genital piercing for women.

A whole page full of Republicans with traditional values. Also, remember this guy?

For another of our periodic warnings that the British media is not so perfect, one from Saturday's Grauniad: How media whipped up a racist witch-hunt.

If Bill Keller really wanted to improve the NYT, he'd get rid of Judith Miller. Maybe if she's thrown in the slammer it will provide some relief for readers.

Media Matters has the complete transcript of the interview of Ed Klein, author of the Hillary-trashing book, by Al Franken, Katherine Lanpher, and Joe Conason. It's fairly amazing that he agreed to go on the show, but he got what was coming to him.

Alterman reviews a new poll from Pew and learns that nobody likes Bush much and for that matter even Americans say things about him that don't sound very nice. In fact, much as people dislike the press, they seem to like Bush even less.

A double standard is no standard at all... and the Bush regime still refuses to allow human rights inspectors into Guantanamo. Doesn't it sound like something they'd have used as an excuse to invade Iraq? Of course. Via Freiheit und Wissen.

Steve Perry observes: A year and a half ago, when candidate Dean headed to Iowa with a big lead in the polls and a formidable grassroots fundraising system, the Democratic Party's avatars banded together to attack him with a verve and single-mindedness they never came close to matching in the general campaign against George W. Bush.. (Also: Anthony Pignataro took a look at Monsanto. And David Pollard went to see Robert Kennedy, Jr. speak, and ended up musing on whether Americans are politically ignorant, apathetic, or both.) Via Pacific Views.

Tilde~ has a poster that reflects my current view of things, I'm afraid.

22:58 BST

Everybody's talkin'

The Supremes sent the file-sharing case back to the lower court, saying that if the creators of file-sharing tech market their product in a way that appears to encourage downloading files illegally, they are responsible and can be sued. Barry L. Ritholtz says this will be meaningless for actual file-sharers, but is a bad decision for the development of tech.

Meanwhile, the Court split over the Ten Commandments. According to AP, they "upheld the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on government land, but drew the line on displays inside courthouses, saying they violated the doctrine of separation of church and state." Breyer is apparently the guy who went against the Kentucky courthouse display but supported the monument at the Texas capitol grounds, citing specifics of the case that put it on what he considered a fine line. More at the LAT (via).

The Supremes also sent Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller's case back to the federal district court, meaning they might actually go to jail for refusing to name their sources in the Plame leak case. Maybe this is why the NYT wants to suck up to the conservative movement more. It won't work, though.

New York Times committing suicide. E&P reports that Bill Keller has decided the way to sell more papers in one of the most liberal markets in America is to make the NYT more conservative. Soon he can have the sales figures of The Washington Times! Oh, wait, the WT loses money. Echidne has it covered, and Michael at Reading A1 has more.

Paul Krugman thinks China's attempts to buy "chunks of corporate America" is a lot more worrying than back in the day when the buyer was Japan. So do I. It won't take much more for China to emerge not merely as our competitor, but our superior in the superpower game.

And now for something to take your mind off all these things: streaming music videos from Maroon 5.

19:48 BST

There should be a place for this Pulitzer

Michael Smith, the reporter for The Times who broke the Downing Street Memo story, had a piece in The Sunday Times telling the story of How the leaked documents questioning war emerged from 'Britain's Deep Throat'. He talks about how he got them in the first place, but for our purposes, perhaps this is more interesting:

When I reported these documents I was surprised to find that there was no real interest in them in America. The story swiftly died away.

Then eight months later, in the run-up to Britain's general election, with the focus on the attorney-general's advice to Blair on the legality of war, somebody else gave me further, even more startling documents. They concerned a meeting in Downing Street on July 23, 2002, eight months before the invasion, when Blair was insisting to the public that all options on Iraq were still open.

Most people are unaware that this story was eight months old at the time that Deerlove's minutes turned up. But with Straw's memo already in the open, the US media's excuse that there was no corroboration for the Deerlove document sounds even more hollow. Fortunately, someone else was on the case:
After reporting these secret memos, which revealed the dubious manoeuvrings of government, I expected the US press to react. Surely there would be a storm of anger over the way in which the American public had been deceived into going to war? But still there was no interest. Then slowly something astonishing happened. People power took over.

The Sunday Times website was inundated with ordinary US citizens wanting to read the minutes of the July meeting. Bloggers set to work passing the word.

Six ordinary, patriotic citizens with no political axe to grind were so outraged to discover the truth about the path to war that they set up their own website, naming it after the minutes, which had become known as the Downing Street memo.

Another website called AfterDowningStreet followed. People got together to lobby their local newspapers and radio and television stations to demand to know why they weren't being told about the memo. There were even T-shirts made with the slogan: "Have you read the memo?" With anger over the war growing, Washington politicians finally acted. More than 120 congressmen wrote to Bush, demanding to know whether the memo was true. They held their own hearings to try to draw attention to it. The issue was forced into the mainstream media.

The focus turned to what may ultimately be the most important part of the memo: the point where Hoon said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime".

What Do I Know? expresses a wish:
When they pass out the Pulitzers next year, I hope Shakespeare's Sister (who organized the 500+ Big Brass Alliance) and the folks at are on hand to accept their prizes.

I can't wait to see the members of the media-the "newsroom" staff from the NY Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and all the rest-stand up to applaud the bloggers who take home the awards for Outstanding Journalism.

It would only be appropriate. Unfortunately, the Pulitzer guidelines (.pdf) don't seem to have room for that sort of journalism. But perhaps someone could write to the committee and make a case for this entry.

15:25 BST


From a whole page of neat night shots, via Sore Eyes.

One of our favorites, Vermont's Independent Congressman, Bernie Sanders, is posting at TPM Cafe: I have no doubt that there may be compassionate conservatives in the world, but they're not in the White House and they are not in the Republican Congressional leadership. (Start at the beginning, it's great stuff.) Via Paige's Page.

Three Things About Iraq, in the NYT, briefly digested by Faithful Progressive: 1.) The war has nothing to do with Sept. 11. 2.) The war has not made the world, or this nation, safer from terrorism. 3.) If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan.

Shayera recommends HBO's The Girl In the Cafe.

Don's Blog has a news round-up that contains this interesting quote from an article about a drug seizure: More than 9,300 marijuana plants were seized in raids... Besides taking the marijuana plants, agents seized three firearms, 50 tabs of ecstasy, two Rottweilers and a plethora of sweets -- candy bars, brownies and cookies -- all laced with marijuana and packaged for commercial sale. I'm still trying to figure out how you lace Rottweilers with marijuana.

Guest-posting at Body and Soul, Don Johnson has a good take-down of another egregious David Brooks article.

Why Tiger Red is embarrassed by liberals on Fox.

12:03 BST


Five Pointers for a Left Media, from Robert Parry at Consortium News: For those who see U.S. news as tilted to the Right, the good news is that wealthy Left funders are beginning to earmark more money for media. The bad news is that little of the money is going into the kind of media infrastructure that could restore a balance.

Atrios links to this weblog, a great idea - vets and current enlisted, some in Iraq even as we blog, responding to Karl Rove's disgusting hate speech. I particularly liked this post.

Further translations from the Krugmanomicon.

Tony Blair's firstborn: Euan Blair, the prime minister's eldest son, is to work in Washington DC as an intern for Republican politicians.

01:08 BST

Sunday, 26 June 2005

Assorted links

I don't know why my page keeps blinking in and out, it just is.

From Forbes, Naked Censorship? and from The Register, US rules all porn is child porn on Gonzales' new rules: All pornography in the US is now effectively classified as child pornography, unless providers can prove the ages of everyone taking part. Thanks to Dominic (of Epicycle, via which we also get more dodgy stats on P2P) and Chris Tame for the pointers.

But have they shown remorse? GENEVA (AFP) - Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said. (via)

Paperwight doesn't seem terribly impressed with John Kerry's belated response to the Downing Street memo.

Julie Saltman has some Thoughts on Kelo, but says Publius makes the best case for the opposing view. (I gotta agree with Publius.)

Click here to listen to the rather odd House vote in which the ayes definitely have it, but it's called for the nos - presented by Ms. Randi Rhodes.

19:04 BST


Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Your Sunday morning sermon: Blessed.

Christian Alliance for Progress Launch - Faithful Progressive says it's causing a splash.

I suppose it's something that Michelle Malkin acknowledges that the administration is being slow in dealing with armoring our soldiers, but it doesn't look like she's got the message yet. A Silent Cacophony thinks it's the outrage of the week.

Disinterested Party isn't impressed with how Karl Rove's conservatives prepared for war.

Ahistoricality doesn't like the reaction he's seeing to calling a spade a spade.

Joshua Holland at The Gadflyer finds a very interesting poll question at The Washington Times.

I actually disagree with something Jeralyn said: Crooks and Liars reports that a few liberal bloggers are screaming about Susan Estrich's column defending her position as a liberal commentator for Fox News. I'm firmly with Susan on this one. It's not her defense of FOX that was so repugnant, it was her spraying of RNC talking points.

The Left Coaster says the real inflation rate is higher than we've been told.

Scoobie Davis has a reminder that Lucienne Goldberg's history as a literary agent is not exactly pristine.

What is the problem with Technorati, lately? (And, for that matter, how come it's getting harder to ping

Ted Rall (via)

13:28 BST

Saturday, 25 June 2005

American snapshot

I actually think it's stupid to demand an apology every time a Republican says something outrageous. Instead, we should acknowledge up front that they don't have the decency to apologize. If they did, they wouldn't ever say such things in the first place. So, instead, I'd like to see every Democrat standing up and saying, "See? This is what they really are. They are deliberately divisive, dishonest, and hateful. They make a mess of things and think they can pretend it's all our fault that they screwed up. And they want to distract us from what they are doing by creating political sideshows while they slip another disaster into the mix." Now go read Arthur Silber on how we got here.

Kung Fu Monkey is all out of reasonable when some people use the T-Word: So you know what? Go ahead. Call me a traitor. Call me a traitor, for never taking "just because" as an answer, for never trusting any government, even my own (just like Jefferson warned us). Call me a traitor for actually being idiotic enough to think that the life of some other family's son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother is worth asking questions of men in comfortable suits in air conditioned offices.

Todd Gitlin posts at TPM Cafe: This is the true face of the Bush crowd: extremism in pursuit of vice. It has to be said again and again. It should certainly be a 2006 theme. Opposing thuggery is a policy--it's called decency. And I suspect some elemental sense of fair play is not dead in the land.

22:18 BST

The morning papers

Breast of the week: Ashcroft always pretended he had nothing to do with the cover-up of Spirit of Justice, but no one ever believed him, and it's no coincidence that the drapes that hid her and the Majesty of Law have been removed now that Gonzales has taken over the job of Attorney General.

Corrections: A headline on a June 24 analysis of a Social Security proposal by House Republicans incorrectly said that a bill by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) does not address the system's solvency. The plan unveiled by House leaders this week does not pertain to solvency, but Thomas said he plans to address the issue in a bill that will be part of a larger retirement-security package. Ahem.

E. J. Dionne, "Keeping Faith With Religious Freedom": Let's be clear: The academy's brass are not in trouble because they allowed evangelical Christian cadets to speak of their faith to other cadets. That is their right. The issue is whether officers higher in the chain of command used their positions of authority to promote their faith. That is coercion, and it is neither right nor just. ... Thus did Obey offer an amendment to the military appropriations bill calling on the secretary of the Air Force to "develop a plan to ensure that the Air Force Academy maintains a climate free from coercive intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing."

Letters: Maybe Dana Milbank should take John Conyers - and a Constitutional crisis - a bit more seriously.

You know you've lost the world's respect when... An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 officers and operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency on charges that they seized an Egyptian cleric on a Milan street two years ago and flew him to Egypt for questioning, Italian prosecutors and investigators said Friday.

The decline and fall: IT looked for a while as if the United States was firmly entrenched as the world's leader in Internet innovation. ... No longer. The Bush administration's policies, or lack thereof, have since allowed Asia - Japan in particular - to not only catch up in the development and expansion of broadband and mobile phone technology, but to roundly pound us into the dirt.

A ray of sunshine in the House: The House of Representatives on Friday voted to block United Airlines, which is trying to reorganize in bankruptcy court, from defaulting on its pension plans and shifting them to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency that guarantees benefits. The Senate still has to pass it.

12:46 BST

Friday, 24 June 2005

News & Stuff

News analysis: Nathan Newman explains why progressives needn't be upset about the Supreme Court's decision on eminent domain.

Paul Krugman discusses The War President, and the need for accountability.

Krauthammer the Krackpot castigates the Dems for being A Party Without Ideas, unlike the RNC , with their really forward-looking innovations, such as war, poverty, slave wages, male supremacism and racism.

Poll: For years I've been listening to conservatives blame liberals (liberals!) for conscription in the past, but a recent poll shows Republicans far more likely to support the reintroduction of a draft.

Movies: A review of The War of the Worlds

Music: The Funny Farm goes into MadKane territory with "Next Plane to Gitmo", and Maddy herself provides "Cheney's Last Throes".

23:11 BST

Heavy Weather

Arthur Silber continues his look at our Barbarian nation: In principle, we are now headed directly for the bottom. It appears that our political leaders have no desire to stop our course, or alter our direction. And their most rabid supporters only want more of the same, and in even more extreme versions. Godwin's Law does not apply.

Lots of good links from Atrios and Crooks and Liars on the whole Karl Rove thing. Kos points out that Democrats are the troops, and Billmon says that Rove is showing weakness - but he's not out yet. And Kicking Ass has a good answer to the White House.

Brian Dolber suggests that liberals should stop being fooled into equation the AFL-CIO with big business special interests.

Jerome Doolittle has another reminder of why they'll never tell us why we invaded Iraq. The only trouble I have with this is that they already had a war - in Afghanistan. Perhaps they had become so fixated on Iraq that they forgot what they wanted it for.

Toast was pushed too far. Norbizness reckons the Democrats have a short-term memory problem.

And now, just read everything Mahabarb and Digby have to say.

Pictures of spectacular storms in the south of England this morning. Lots of Big Lightning. (Hasn't reached us here, yet, but the sky is starting to cloud over, looks like.)

16:37 BST

Check your source

We knew that the right-wing was getting its people into programs to train pharmacists so they could deny drugs to people, and that we were seeing the spread of pharmacists - sometimes the only one in an area - refusing to fill birth control prescriptions. But it's bigger than that:

Now, however, many pharmacists have extended their objections to include painkillers and psychotropic drugs. In some situations pharmacists are also refusing to return the prescriptions thereby preventing patients from turning to other pharmacists.
The AMA is pushing for ways to deal with this issue, including ethical guidelines that would require such pharmacists to refer patients to another pharmacy where they can get their prescriptions filled, and also allowing doctors to dispense medications to patients if there is no willing pharmacist within a 30-mile radius.

10:15 BST

Firestorm of the day

You spend the day at the eye hospital, you have a nice dinner, you go to the pub, and you come home to discover that you've been Roved:

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.
If I didn't know better, I'd say Karl Rove had a mighty poor memory. But we all know Karl by now, don't we? John Aravosis notes that this was a clearly part of a planned, coordinated attack. The White House is backing Rove up. Kos takes it apart. Peter Daou devotes a substantial part of The Daou Report to a good round-up of quotes and even a few words of his own. There's lots more.

03:49 BST

Thursday, 23 June 2005

In The Washington Post

The Mothers back by the Joshua Lightshow
Music to Your Eyes

House Passes Constitutional Amendment to Ban Flag Burning by Mike Allen. This thing shows every sign of actually passing this time, sadly. It will mean, of course, that people in other countries will have rights that Americans don't have, because they will still be able to burn the flag. Only, unlike American protesters who once burned the flag as a ritual to say that it had been so soiled by the actions of our government that it had to be burned and replaced with a clean flag, they'll be free to burn the flag as an effigy. (This is a point I have real trouble getting across to right-wingers: American flag-burning protests were not burning the flag to burn the nation in effigy.) It is, of course, a thoroughly anti-American amendment and directly overturns our First Amendment right to criticize our government. And, having started there, what does the rest of the First Amendment mean? Not much, I think, since they already think that objecting to establishing a Christianist government should be illegal, too. These people hate America, folks.

Democrats Say 2004 Election System Failed in Ohio. This is by Dan Balz, and I wish he'd written it to explain what really happened rather than looking for a way to say that there was no evidence of fraud. "Party Concedes No Evidence of Fraud; Republican Decries 'Political Fiction'" is the subhead, but in fact there are more Democrats saying there is evidence of fraud than there are Democrats saying there is "no evidence" of such.

House GOP Offers Plan For Social Security - still contains private accounts, though on a "smaller scale", we're told. To be funded by the SS surplus. Got that? The surplus is still on the books, so they plan to "save" Social Security by giving that surplus away!

Intolerance Found at Air Force Academy, but they're going to pretend that top-down harassment "is not overtly discriminatory". So much for that.

Evangelicals Building a Base in Iraq - they're not converting any Muslims, but "seducing Christians from other churches."

One Committee's Three Hours of Inquiry, in Surreal Time - Dana Milbank on the hearings about Jack Abramoff. It's kind of a mirror image of his article on the Conyers forum.

10:55 BST

Open windows

New Gene Lyons up, Liberal media at work, and a Bill Moyers article, A Moral Transaction

Last week, Gary Farber found some good comedy when Leahy questioned an admiral.

Daryl McCullough funds the fire department by playing Poker.

Riverbend's family has mundane problems, like how to do the laundry when there's no water.

John Dean on judicial activism and on the revelation of Deep Throat. (via)

E-voting, paper trails, and dopey Christopher Dodd.

Anthony Lewis returned to the pages of the NYT for an op-ed on Guantanamo's Long Shadow and the elephant in the room. Via Heart, Soul & Humor.

Digby agrees with Andrew Sullivan that the anti-gay thing is about some other things. But don't miss his post on the the Big Liar.

I said this earlier, and so did the reporter responsible for breaking the DSM story, but "fixed" means just what it sounds like, on both sides of the Atlantic. If you don't believe me, there's also Cernig, a true Brit - but it seems Hitchens is so far into his cups that he's forgotten that little thing.

TBogg explains the people who are attacking Durbin.

You know, I've been having this same thought.

00:43 BST

Wednesday, 22 June 2005

Maybe it's something in the water

Moe Blues writes a Dear Democrats letter: And you wonder why Americans don't trust Democrats on national defense? You pathetic ninnies cannot and will not defend yourselves. And Attaturk says: That is how it works, because Dick Durbin (and others) cave and allow it.

Medium Lobster to Dick Durbin - The Torturers Accept Your Apology: Because they aren't torturing for Nazis or communists or some third world hellhole. Those boys are torturing for the stars and stripes, senator - and don't you forget it.

Thomas Leavitt at Seeing the Forest provides a heads-up that Democracy for America has a "snazzy little Flash presentation" about the DSM and a petition to demand full hearings in Congress. He also briefly reviews The Education of Shelby Knox and encourages you to watch when it is re-shown.

Are Republicans sending signals that they've given up on killing Social Security through the front door and might be willing to consider a Trojan horse so that they can get a bill to re-write in committee or amend after the vote has been taken (or both), like they do with everything else they couldn't get anyone to vote for? Very possibly. Only the headline is wrong and the article by Nedra Pickler is a litany of RNC talking points. Jesse Taylor reminds us of why Nedra is such a special child, but neglects to call the gimmick under discussion "cat-food accounts".

10 Big Myths about copyright explained by Brad Templeton, via Epicycle. And thanks to Dominic for the heads-up on Ian Eginton & D'Israeli's The War of the Worlds e-comic - only the first 12 pages are up so far, but it's definitely worth watching.

As an old Nazz fan, I am sorry to report that Todd Rundgren has what is possibly the all-time worst site by a musical act that I have ever seen. Via The Infinite Stitch.

14:05 BST

Way too early in the morning

To answer a question in comments, the oral surgery at an inopportune date was nothing to do with the NHS, but a result of the fact that my very good, very expensive, private dentist is extremely popular. And I'm up at this hour because the codeine finally kicked in with a vengeance and knocked me right out way early.

I'm checking my mail and I see a heads-up from Helga about an appalling article in the CSM called A liberal's defense of Fox News by Susan Estrich. My god, this woman is a menace. She was a menace to the campaigns she worked for and she is a menace every time she calls herself a liberal. Her defense of Fox is just a pile of RNC talking points jammed together. Just how brainless do you have to be to defend the fact that Neil Cavuto thought it made sense, in an interview with "a war president", to ask about Michael Bloody Jackson? Ah, but no, her condemnation is for Howard Dean "engaging in class and religious warfare." Yeah, right, it's Dean that's doing that. Media Girl has even more intimate disgust with Ms. Ostrich than I do. Go read.

I don't know why Durbin backed down. Senate Democrats are such wimps these days. Arthur Silber has a good story about what it means to stand up - and why it makes good political sense, too.

And why should any Democrat have to apologize for anything the GOP claims to find offensive when Republicans feel free to stand on the floor of the Senate and say things like: "Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians." (via). I'm still waiting to see an article called Entire Republican Party Apologizes for Torture, Treason, and Religious War Against Americans.

No, I won't hold my breath. Here, have something pretty to cheer you up: The Cygnus Wall of Star Formation.

07:17 BST

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Meet the family

I've been celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary with an exciting bout of oral surgery. I'll spare you the details. In the meantime, check out some pages from our commenters and newly-discovered linkers.

Radio Active

The Low Road

Fuming Mucker



One Long Argument

Liberal and Progressive Politics & Perspectives

And Peace Tree Farm, who we haven't linked for a while.

18:54 BST

Happy Solstice!

Good piece by Thom Hartmann over at Buzzflash: They Died So Republicans Could Take the Senate. So, it wasn't even just about oil and greed - those were just happy side-effects.

At Crooks and Liars, Penn & Teller: The Patriot Act is Bullshit. (You might want to give C&L a few bucks to help defray their download costs, too.)

Eli wonders if an NYT story contains a bit of black propaganda.

Did Time interviewer Timothy Burger have to force himself not to ask Porter Goss that question?

The Coming World Realignment.

A good leader from the Torygraph on the proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred law - being introduced by the government as a sop to Muslims who are quite rightly disturbed by little things like being held indefinitely without trail and such.

Via Langford's Runcible Ansible, a Guardian article by Margaret Atwood, 'Aliens have taken the place of angels', in which she not only doesn't deny that she has written science fiction, but says we need sf.

Crucified nun dies in 'exorcism': A Romanian nun has died after being bound to a cross, gagged and left alone for three days in a cold room in a convent, Romanian police have said.

Operation Yellow Elephant - how to support the war.

A revelation from Smythe's World: Did you know it's easier for both men and women to have orgasms when they're wearing socks? Explains everything....

Roger Ailes explains what the "liberal" media is reading.

Rainstorm has an update on the Fall-Out from Wal-Mart Nazi Bookburning Ad - and a familiar P.F. Stone lyric.

10:50 BST

Monday, 20 June 2005

Hey, look at this

Rio half-cup

Bra of the Week

Susan at An Age Like This finds Grover Norquist offering a novel definition of what it means to "govern". I wonder if he actually believes it.

Majikthise alerts us to J. M. Tyree's rumination on Christopher Hitchens at 3quarksdaily, suggesting that Hitchens' resistance to the current debate has something to do with his own strange alliance with the modern Kissingers. (Also: Yes, feds quiz librarians.)

Maru found the perfect Father's Day gift - the Lock 'n' Load Jesus Mouse Pad.

How stupid are right-wingers? Stupid enough to confuse Fred Phelps with the left wing.

I've never quite gotten over the shock of learning that part of the intake package for enlistees was information on how to get food stamps. And now they need to scare up $600 worth of armor so that maybe they can survive in Iraq.

Shakespeare's Sister found a piece about the DSM might have looked ordinary on our average liberal weblog, but it was actually a newspaper editorial.

I'm only linking this post so Skippy will owe me one. I might have linked it anyway, but for some reason I can't get it to work. I can't even get the main page to work. Maybe you'll have better luck by the time you read this. (And how come all these people have more hits than I have? I was here first!)

APOD: Noctilucent Clouds (More here, but with an unfortunate copyright symbol in the middle. But spectacular enough to look at anyway.)

Fine Kampf

New Flash movie from American Stranger at TBTM, Let Them Eat War, with new music by Bad Religion.

23:30 BST

On bloody roads

My thanks to John Cole (of Balloon Juice) for bringing Russell Shorto's What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part) to my attention. (Single-page link)

But, of course, the Christian activists aren't vague in their opposition. For them, the issue isn't one of civil rights, because the term implies something inherent in the individual -- being black, say, or a woman -- and they deny that homosexuality is inherent. It can't be, because that would mean God had created some people who are damned from birth, morally blackened. This really is the inescapable root of the whole issue, the key to understanding those working against gay marriage as well as the engine driving their vehicle in the larger culture war: the commitment, on the part of a growing number of people, to a variety of religious belief that is so thoroughgoing it permeates every facet of life and thought, that rejects the secular, pluralistic grounding of society and that answers all questions internally.
One thing John and I can agree on is that the anti-gay campaign is from the anti-black playbook with which some of us are so familiar. The arguments are the same, the attitudes are the same, and the willingness to spread hate is the same.

Something we don't agree on is that,

...any allusion to Nazi's is offensive, stupid, and counter-productive, regardless of the point you are trying to make. Let's keep the Nazi references for, say, Nazi's.
Like Kevin Drum and Brad Plumer, I have no problem with any apt comparison - any warning - that reminds us of the landmarks on the path to Nazism. You may remember I referred a few years ago to my reasons for taking such references for granted:
When I was a kid, my many Jewish elders had a short-hand phrase they'd use to explain their objections whenever some suggested legislation (censorship, for example) or discrimination against blacks or gays left them gasping in horror: "The Nazis did that." (Or sometimes just: "The Nazis....") These were people who remembered how it took place, with not too much disruption of everyday life, at first, and most people going unmolested and therefore not making much of it. Nothing to see here, just a few commies and Jews and a couple of queers, not any of us Normal people.... These were, you understand, people who would have been crushed if their son turned out to be gay or their daughter married "a Negro", but by god they knew better than to give an inch on these things. They didn't have to like pornography to know it shouldn't be illegal - they knew what censorship was about. They understood, with crystal clarity, that there are no good excuses for dismissing people's civil liberties.
The idea that there is something wrong with making Nazi comparisons doesn't come from some natural revulsion that we - gentiles or Jews - have always felt. Oh, I'm sure there are some who think that the rise of the Third Reich was itself something unique, but that's foolish; the fact that they wasted lives with industrial efficiency is only an artifact. What they did is something that humans have always done, even if they had to use rocks to do it.

The horror of Nazi Germany isn't that they killed six million Jews. It's not the numbers and it's not who the victims were, except for one thing: that a nation singled-out specified groups of their own people and declared them bereft of their citizenship and their rights. It would not matter if they had only killed a couple thousands Jews and a handful of gays and political objectors. The point is that these were German citizens who suddenly found themselves without the protections of German law, the personhood that had previously been presumed - and thus, it became acceptable to do things to them that no civilized society subjects people to. And that the threat of this happening to you, to me, to us, is always there, because it always has been; no one is safe, immune.

To be "civilized" is a delicate thing. In Nudes, Prudes and Attitudes, I wrote:

In each of us, there is a little fascist who fervently wishes to suppress any expression by others of beliefs we find threatening to our values.
It's not a German thing. It's not an antisemitic thing. It's certainly not a Christian thing, or a Muslim thing. It's a human thing, and it can get out of the box on pretty small provocation.

So you have to be on the lookout for that sort of thing, and that's the point of noticing when the tactics of the Third Reich are starting to smell up the place. Just as all those old Jews I knew used to do. That's what "Never Again" really means.

Inapt comparisons, on the other hand, are a completely different matter. Rush Limbaugh using the term "feminazis" is certainly over the top, but Rick Santorum's recent equation of Democrats in Congress with Hitler in Paris wasn't just over the top, it made no sense. The Democrats, to begin with, did not invade the Senate and impose the filibuster on it.

Was Robert Byrd out of line when he compared the Republicans' tendency to behave as if the law was not the law to Hitler's similar mushing up of German law? No, of course not. While it is not accurate to say that Hitler never broke the law and that everything his government did was legal, it is similarly not accurate to say that Bush never breaks the law and that everything his administration does is legal.

For example, Germany passed a law in 1875 that is still on the books today banning hate speech against any identifiable group. You'd think that would have protected the Jews, wouldn't you? But the Nazis merely decided Jews and gays and a few others were exceptions, and then all bets were off.

The parallels, of course, are obvious - and in some respects even more unsettling. Our founders made clear that they believed the rights they outlined in both their writings and the Constitution and Bill of Rights they fashioned were inherent for all humans - inalienable - regardless of their origins and nationality, and thus the United States is always obliged to give the protections of the law to everyone we deal with. We are required to offer alien nationals in our country the same rights to due process that citizens have. And yes, the glaring exceptions are obvious, but they have also been a matter of shame for us - and one that we have tried to put right.

But now we hear that it's okay to treat non-citizens differently, to deprive them, under numerous circumstances, of due process. And to do things to them that we have already sworn we would never do.

And we've even seen legislation drawn up and put before Congress that would deprive Americans of their citizenship! Think about that for a minute. How good are your rights as a citizen if the government can simply declare you a non-citizen and then subject you to violations of those rights?

And none of this is legal under our Constitution, which says treaties we've signed have the force of law, and thus the Geneva Conventions - which do not allow torture under any circumstances - apply to all.

You know how it feels to think of yourself as a citizen and resident of a free country. You know that you read about torture and abuse in other countries, about freedoms that do not exist there, about outrages against the citizenry, and a little voice in your head says, "I'm glad I'm not there. I'm safe here. I'm an American." As I've said before, that is a feeling, a reaction, an instinct, I was privileged to feel for my entire life. And for my entire life, I was able to read of such abuses and know that I was absolutely not reading about the United States.

Until now. And that's what Dick Durbin was saying. And if anyone does not feel that loss, I wonder what special thing you must think America has that is worth defending.

Update: Both Patrick and Teresa covered this territory before I noticed (and there's a great comment thread). So did Gail and Nathan.

16:50 BST


Make It Blue Washington House Improvement 2006 poster Posters and t-shirts from the Make It Blue line, via Cider Press Hill.

Marie at The Left Coaster has a good post up reviewing Air America Radio. She's getting Ed Schultz and apparently hasn't heard Mike Malloy. I'm a big fan of Malloy's ranting, m'self.

At Editor's Cut, Katrina vanden Heuvel notes that Norman Solomon actually went to Iran to cover the elections, and has an article up at Common Dreams.

Ophelia Payne reminds us that while people are talking about Deep Throat, we're not hearing much about COINTELPRO.

Julie Saltman has the basics on the Heritage Foundation's fake study on the success of abstinence pledges.

Daai Tou Lam has the right phrase for 'em - Radical Right Bloggers As Torture Apologists.

Dwight Meredith celebrates the 19th anniversary of Rehnquist's nomination to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with a look at his past.

Alternative Hippopotamus has a few words about the media and the DSM and a good cartoon.

Scorpio has a good suggestion for the Democrats.

Neil the Ethical Werewolf, blogging at Ezra's digs, notices an own goal by the right-wingers, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh - a t-shirt that reminds you that things "happen" at Guantanamo Bay.

Turtle blogging

13:00 BST

Sunday, 19 June 2005

The evening news

A few days ago it was chilly enough that I was wearing a sweater in the house. Today, even I was hot, which doesn't happen all that often around here. It's cooled down a bit but the house is still stuffy, so I'm sitting out in the back garden under the stars. It feels like luxury.

No2ID is holding a meeting Wednesday, the 29th, in Westminster. Scheduled speakers include Tony Benn, George Galloway, and Shami Chakrabarti of "Liberty".

Arthur Silber says we've got a real tipping point in Iraq, at last.

LiberalOasis says the Dems appear to be working on Another Bad Compromise. He also answered Friedman, noting that it's ridiculous to accuse liberals of not wanting to talk about Iraq when we've been demanding attention to the Downing Street minutes for weeks, only to be ignored. In fact, we've tried to talk about Iraq all along, but any suggestion that Bush isn't going about it the right way is just met with charges of treason. That rather derails the debate, don't you think?

I don't get it. The British government has conceded the authenticity of The Downing Street minutes and other supporting documents. The fact that the reporter says that what he has allowed people to see was retyped doesn't change that. So why are certain people suddenly "wondering" if they are fake?

General Wesley Clark, believe it or not, is now part of the "Fox family". Which is okay with me, because he's pretty good at grabbing the focus, it seems. News Hounds caught him on Hannity and Colmes, where he refused to condemn Durbin and insisted on talking about a policy issue we need to address. Crooks and Liars has the video.

I'd completely missed the fact that Brian Aldiss made the Queen's Honours List last week.

22:45 BST

Reading the weekend Post

I don't seem to be able to get away from father's day this year, and it's a bummer. Even after five years, I can't think about him for long without getting all teary. So I don't want to think about it. The only "seasonal" article I looked at could have been written at any time of year. Where's Daddy? by Richard Morin: Psychologists Linda M. Fleming and David J. Tobin can't tell you where to look for today's fathers. But they do know where not to look: on the pages of modern books on child-rearing. Because those books rarely mention Dad at all, and when they do, it's your basic, stereotypical "parenthetical parent".

Because the Democratic candidate for Maryland's governor ran a stupid campaign in which she entertained the fantasy that she could win without bothering to show respect to black voters, the Republican machine has managed to place one of its own in control of a largely Democratic state. And he's been working hard to cement that control, firing record numbers of civil servants and replacing them with his own minions. The response to such accusations is simply to lie, claiming his predecessor was worse. That's simply not true. I hope Maryland Democrats are paying attention and plan to do something about it. It's certainly taken them a long time to start investigating the firings.

White House sources allege that Bush is still considering Alberto "Torture-boy" Gonzales to replace William Rehnquist on the Supreme Court: While most Senate Democrats opposed Gonzales's confirmation as attorney general because of his involvement in setting guidelines for interrogations of detainees, he did get 60 votes, just enough to beat a filibuster. And the adviser said the White House senses that Democrats would not wage an all-out fight against his elevation to the court. "They've had their say on that," the adviser said. Don't you just love it when Republicans speak for the Democrats? Someone ought to ask the Dem leadership if they're happy to have the Bush cabal mapping out their roll-over-and-die strategy for them.

Robert Byrd's autobiography got a front-page review, apparently because in the book the Senator "confronts" his history in the KKK: "It has emerged throughout my life to haunt and embarrass me and has taught me in a very graphic way what one major mistake can do to one's life, career, and reputation," Byrd wrote in a new memoir -- "Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields" -- that will be published tomorrow by West Virginia University Press.

Bush's Social Security tour has been such a rousing success that now he is embarked on a tour to shill for his prescription drug benefit plan. But I bet he's not telling his supporters this: Insurers will be able to alter benefit packages even after a senior has signed up. One of the administration's strongest critics, Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), said that provision is "the real trap" and "then they're stuck in a plan that doesn't have the drugs they hoped they would get." Let's hope the media asks Pete Stark for his opinion wherever Bush goes.

Colbert King has a useful column on the history of the filibuster explaining why progressives have not historically loved it, but why it is useful right now, in what we hope will be the interim between this period where Democrats are just starting to realize they haven't kept a good structure in place to prevent situations like this one, and that hoped-for future in which they've managed to get their act together. If that day ever comes, you can be sure conservatives will be very happy to embrace the filibuster once again, for all nominees.

Have They Got a Deal For You by Joseph Turow discusses the assumption that you can always get a better deal online. I'll tell you for free right now that I can always get a better deal on airline tickets by calling my travel agent than I can by using the Internet. Especially in emergency situations, which websites don't account for but your travel agent, and even the live humans at the airlines, will be able to recognize. There are things the airlines never advertise and that aren't part of the official package, so they won't be listed on the net - they only happen when you deal with a real person.

12:55 BST

Saturday, 18 June 2005

Lots to read

No sooner do I post all those links at Consortium News than Robert Parry comes up with another one: Mocking the Downing Street Memo: Those of us who have covered Washington for years have seen the pattern before. A group without sufficient inside-the-Beltway clout tries to draw attention to a scandal that the Post and other prestigious news arbiters have missed or gotten wrong. After ignoring the grievances for a while - and sensing that the complainers have no real muscle - the news arbiters start heaping on the abuse.

But there is one important organ that has finally covered the Downing Street minutes: Stars and Stripes.

Posted at The Smirking Chimp, Peter Fredson's attempt to determine whether the phrase vast, right-wing conspiracy is an accurate assessment of the vast, right-wing conspiracy.

Rachel Maddow recommends we catch up with Mark Benjamin: He's now at Salon -- formerly at UPI. Doing incredible work on the war -- he's the reason we know about the night flights of Iraq wounded, about soldiers having to pay for their meals at Walter Reed, about the fact that more than a million US troops have deployed since 9/11, about the Walter Reed psych ward. He was reporting on US wounded in November of '03, well ahead of the (still under-realized) curve. His latest piece is on body counts -- the US military deciding, he says, for the first time since Vietnam, to regularly report the number of enemy killed in the war zone [...] Connecting some important dots...

Down in the comments to Rachel's post someone supplies a link to a story of yet another strange cause for Fred Phelps - protesting at soldiers' funerals: Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, says God killed Idaho National Guard Corporal Carrie French with an improvised explosive device. Phelps says God is retaliating against America for a bombing of his church six years ago.

Mike the Corpuscle has a few thoughts on Zach, and on activism, and wants us to join him in watching The Education of Shelby Knox.

Anne Zook isn't merely peevish, she is feeling a little outrage.

Everywhere you look, Republicans are lying, even when it comes to PBS. Or, for that matter, Napalm. Not to mention the people who fight for us.

Thanks to David Weis for alerting me to World O'Crap's post I [heart] Gitmo. And that brings us to James Lileks latest screed. It's about how "the hard left" shouldn't be allowed to endanger the war by talking about Gitmo any more. In it, Lileks provides a way to reach consensus with these traitors, whiners, and big stupid babies. And then there's Rush and "Club G'itmo, the Muslim resort". All the writers are getting in on the act.

21:00 BST

In case you missed it

Catching up on Consortium News:
Robert Parry says the case against Bush is a slam-dunk:

The latest piece of the puzzle was reported by Charles J. Hanley of the Associated Press in an article on June 4 describing how Bush's Undersecretary of State John Bolton orchestrated the ouster of global arms control official Jose Bustani in early 2002 because Bustani's Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] was making progress toward getting arms inspectors back into Iraq.
There were a lot of knowledgeable Washington insiders at the time saying that Bush was trying to set Saddam up for war, but somehow the entire Washington Press Corps either couldn't hear it or didn't think it was important to tell us. What's up with that? Someone ask Michael Kinsley.
Observing the behavior of the national news media over the past three years has been like watching incompetent players in the mystery game "Clue" as they visit all the rooms and ask about all the suspects and weapons, but still insist on guessing at combinations that are transparently incorrect.
Parry also notes that Bush's SEC Choice Hyped 'Chinagate'. That's Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA):
George W. Bush's nominee to oversee Wall Street produced a congressional report in 1999 that laid the principal blame for China's alleged theft of nuclear secrets on the Clinton administration when the primary rupture of secrets actually could be traced to the Reagan-Bush administration of the 1980s.

I agree with the content of Pour on the Media! - but I do have a criticism.

As George W. Bush's poll numbers sink to his personal lows and the mainstream news media finally reports on the Downing Street Memo, what political factors should get the credit for these changes? And what are the lessons for the future?
He talks about Air America Radio and the Internet, but I actually felt that at this point he owed it to us to name a few of those net sources - sources that the AAR hosts and researchers obviously read voraciously every day in order to be up to date on not just the news but the background and analysis. There's not a question in my mind that Team Franken, Rachel Maddow's bunch, and Janeane and Sam are checking out Eschaton, LiberalOasis, and Daily Kos at the very least with more than daily regularity. (And I'm pretty sure someone who reads this page is passing things on to Janeane - she's repeated too many Sideshow-originated terms and memes for me to think they all got there from some other original source.) That's why they always have plenty to say and are so quick off the mark to spit back at any right-wing meme that's come around in the course of the latest news cycle. Credit where it's due, guys.

And putting those subjects all together, LMSM, the 'Lying Mainstream Media' looks at the strange excuses that have been appearing in The Washington Post for why they didn't cover the Downing Street Minutes because they "add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002." Says Parry:

Oh, really?

While it may be true that some people were alleging what the secret British memos now confirm, those people were vocal opponents of invading Iraq and were treated by the Post and other pro-war news outlets as fringe characters fit only to be ignored.

In other news:

Josh Marshall wonders how well Kerry would do if an election between him and Bush were held today. The latest NYT poll suggests Bush might not do too well in that situation.

"And People Wondered..." says Atrios, "...why I blogged anonymously when I was an academic," linking to this post from Majikthise: Think about what happened: A CUNY sociologist was tried in the media for an unsigned polemic he wrote as a private citizen and posted to an obscure independent website. There were no complaints about Tim Shortell's scholarship, his service to his department, his teaching, or his rapport with the CUNY community.

By the way, Atrios has really been cookin' since he came back from his wanderings, and if you haven't been paying attention over the last week especially, I recommend that you catch up now.

The Stakeholder has photos of that wild hippie-lefty rabble that Dana Milbank seemed to be describing at the Conyers-led hearing on the Downing Street Minutes.

I sure hope John Aravosis is right about the future.

Matt Taibbi is turning out to be a real firecracker, with some of the strongest writing around. Check out his piece on Deep Throat in The New York Press, Throat Job.

The Official God FAQ (via Biomes Blog).

15:12 BST

Open windows

TalkLeft and others call for Bill-the-Cat-killer Frist to apologize to Senator Durbin for their attacks.

The Rude Pundit, of course, pulls no punches in his defense of Durbin. (And he's pretty convincing in his argument that the media has reached the tipping point, too.)

David Podvin: The game of American politics is played by inverting reality. Dean knows it, as do the millions of fringe people who support him, so the chairman and his fans have decided that the sick little game is over. In its place is a different game called "Ready Or Not Here Comes The Truth". The introduction of this exciting new contest has dismayed conservatives and corporate journalists and establishment liberals alike. Right wingers and their sycophants despise being confronted with truth, which is understandable given that it reflects so negatively upon them.

Former Bush Admin Economist Says Official Story of WTC Collapse 'Bogus': Former chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds comments that the official story about the collapse of the WTC is "bogus" and that it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden learns the answer to a question that has troubled her since she was a little kid: "Why is the tone of so much magazine and newspaper writing as unnatural as silicone breast implants on a snake?"

Alterman on PBS: Re-working the refs: The point is that conservatives do not want liberal viewpoints spoken to the public anywhere. That's why they are attacking the media, academia, and the Democrats' ability to hold hearings. (See below.) CPB officials are demanding that PBS should provide balancing comments in all programs containing editorial viewpoints and opinions. This is quite obviously silly.

Christy at Think Progress, Minimum Wage: By The Numbers: 4.3 million: Number of Americans who have fallen into poverty since President Bush took office

Tild ~ and Menstruating She-Devils!

03:37 BST

Friday, 17 June 2005

A very dark road

MahaBarb says everything I was going to say, and with all the links I would have used. So go read it right now.

Do you feel safer now that you've been protected from this 16-year-old girl? (Via Faith and Justice, via The Daou Report.)

And, according to this, there are far more Americans dead in Iraq than we have been told. Via Blah3

23:19 BST

Mystery dance

Bless you, John Danforth, for your op-ed in today's NYT, Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers:

IT would be an oversimplification to say that America's culture wars are now between people of faith and nonbelievers. People of faith are not of one mind, whether on specific issues like stem cell research and government intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, or the more general issue of how religion relates to politics. In recent years, conservative Christians have presented themselves as representing the one authentic Christian perspective on politics. With due respect for our conservative friends, equally devout Christians come to very different conclusions.
This is the second time the former Senator (R-Mo) has addressed the problem of mixing far-right Christianism with politics. As an Episcopalian minister respected by his own party, his words on this subject carry some weight - most importantly, with the press.

Skimble doesn't want anyone to forget the role of Jeb Bush in the Shiavo case.

ABC kills all interviews, on different shows, with Robert Kennedy. Jr., reports Crooks and Liars.

Lis Riba has an unsettling women's health warning.

Well, what do you know, not only are they not gulags, they're four-star hotels.

WaPo's Dana Milbank on the Downing Street hearing: As Conyers and his hearty band of playmates know, subpoena power and other perks of a real committee are but a fantasy unless Democrats can regain the majority in the House. Well, yeah, but maybe this is the way to get there. [Update: Conyers responds.]

In comments to the post below, Screwy Hoolie (of Scrutiny Hooligans) alerts us that Dem Bloggers have provided some excellent citizen journalism by doing original video interviews with Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative John Conyers (with more to come).

Neal Stephenson has an op-ed in the NYT that's about Star Wars - sort of: In sum, very little of the new film makes sense, taken as a freestanding narrative. What's interesting about this is how little it matters. Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don't understand. What gives?

18:12 BST

In one eye

Another pic from Maru, who has a nice take on the news.

Crooks and Liars has a video up of highlights from the Downing Street memo hearing. Er, "forum". Whatever.

Greg Palast couldn't go to Washington for the hearings, so he submitted his testimony in writing.

Conason: How foolish and how sad that all these distinguished journalists prefer to transform this scandal into a debate about their own underachieving performance, rather than redeem mainstream journalism by advancing an important story that they should have pursued from the beginning. This is a moment when the mainstream press could again demonstrate to a skeptical public why we need journalists. Instead they are proving once more that their first priority is to cover their own behinds.

Congratulations to Jay Rosen at Pressthink for winning the Freedom blog award from Reporters Without Borders for best American blog defending freedom of expression.

Reading A1 in praise of the netroots and Howard Dean, changing the media discourse.

David Horsey: Mr. Fix-It!

13:54 BST

Thursday, 16 June 2005

News, views, stuff

Alert: The Conyers hearing has been grudgingly permitted to take place at 2:30 PM in a basement room at the Capitol that only has room for 20 people, and will be carried live on C-SPAN3.

The complaints about e-mail campaigns generated by advocacy groups to the press have only really started in the wake of liberal bloggers. The first such public complaint about this I saw was aimed at Media Whores Online. But I guess it's real news when Howard Kurtz admits what we've been saying all along:

For the past 15 years, conservatives have used their outlets -- in talk radio, right-leaning news operations, editorial pages and, more recently, blogs -- to pressure mainstream journalists into covering stories that might otherwise be ignored. And they have had striking success, from allegations about President Bill Clinton's personal life to CBS's questionable documents on President Bush's National Guard service to the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks on Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in last year's presidential campaign. Now the left can claim a similar success.
Yes, exactly. It wasn't until the right-wing brought Dan Rather and Eason Jordan down that the media started to get an inkling that the people they'd been treating relatively respectfully posed the real danger to them. The left has asked them to show a little more respect for the truth, to higher journalism standards, but we haven't been trying to undermine them in the same way. When we really go on a serious campaign, it's about politicians - and the press has, strangely, started paying attention.

In other news:

Scrutiny Hooligans: Iran goes to the polls on Khordad 17, 1384 (June 17th, 2005) to elect their next President. What? You didn't know that? I thought that with freedom on the march and all, we'd be interested in a bunch of terror-lovin' bomb magnets acting all democratic.

Lance Mannion says We can have our fear or we can have our lives: Here he is, four years later, driving a bus full of kids to the museum he loves best in the City, having a grand time, pointing out the sights, and joking with this other dad who happens to be a firefighter himself. The other side, apparently, has chosen fear.

The Axis of Evil now apparently includes the Red Cross: Senate Republicans are calling on the Bush administration to reassess U.S. financial support for the International Committee of the Red Cross, charging that the group is using American funds to lobby against U.S. interests. That's right, because facts are the enemy of the United States. Via Amygdala.

Fred Clark now discusses what he says is some of the worst writing in Left Behind.

Echnidne brings us A Note From the Paranoid Left. (Meanwhile, in Pakistan...)

That Colored Fella on Selective Intelligent Design

17:14 BST

For what it's worth

In news that I was too sleepy to post last night, the House actually voted to limit the use of the Patriot Act to spy on your library book-borrowing and bookstore purchases. It's not much, but it's something. Bush has threatened to veto, of course. But this is really pretty minor in the context of the greater horror that is the network of laws and assumptions that are the Patriot Act and the war of terror. (Via TalkLeft, which also has the info on the House vote against a one-year moratorium on medical marijuana raids).

That's the good news.

Nastiest news of the night comes from a Reuters story in which Deputy Associate Attorney General J. Michael Wiggins responded to a demand from Senators that "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay be legally defined with this:

It's our position that, legally, they can be held in perpetuity."
I think the "concentration camp" analogy holds. I see that even Patrick Nielsen Hayden has commented on it. It's just so depressing to think that the United States can do something like this. And that people will even defend it. But those parallels are hard to escape, as noted by a commenter at TalkLeft:
The United States is now emulating the Third Reich during World War II, who designated Greek civilians on the island of Crete as nonuniformed combatants after German paratroopers were slaughtered by Greek civilians when they invaded the island. If you're at war with people who can't afford uniforms or insignias, it's convenient to designate them as nonmilitary enemies of the state who are not covered by the Geneva Convention. Though everyone knows there was a war in Afghanistan.

Instead of referring to them as gulags (the camps around the globe where detainees are being held), I think these facilities can more rightly be called concentration camps. Because the people who are placed in them have no representation, no recourse and no expectation of ever being released. If the United States is so sure that these people are terrorists, and a continuing threat to the safety of our country, why not just execute them.

Perhaps that will be the next step, especially if the war on terrorism widens to other countries, and terrorist attacks start taking thousands of lives within the United States again. We can capture people, keep their identities secret, and execute them after a quick military tribunal where they have no lawyer or interpreter and are not allowed to speak. And we can do it all under the cloak of protecting freedom... yeah that's freedom all right.

It has already been an open position of our government that even American citizens can be declared "enemy combatants" and given this treatment, remember. And that definition gets wider and wider and includes people who contribute no money to any terrorist cause, do not act in secret, do not try to topple our government, and have no interest in taking up arms of any kind against our people. People who are, in fact, traditional American Christians with traditional American Christian values.

For example, there's the administration's war on peace protesters:

The U.S. federal government is prosecuting four Catholic peace activists from Ithaca, N.Y., after a state court jury refused to convict them last year for their antiwar protest at a local U.S. military recruiting station. The federal charges made against the activists include "conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States," a crime punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

"The federal government is clearly trying to make an example of these people and to intimidate future nonviolent protestors by charging these folks with conspiracy," said Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University, New Orleans, and an advising attorney for the activists.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't make me feel safe. It makes me feel more endangered than ever. (via)

14:28 BST

He said what?

I've been out. Before I went out, I was being aggravated by this annoying article from none other than Tom Friedman, who started off saying:

Ever since Iraq's remarkable election, the country has been descending deeper and deeper into violence. But no one in Washington wants to talk about it. Conservatives don't want to talk about it because, with a few exceptions, they think their job is just to applaud whatever the Bush team does. Liberals don't want to talk about Iraq because, with a few exceptions, they thought the war was wrong and deep down don't want the Bush team to succeed.
This is so, so wrong. Deep down inside, we want the Bush team to pay for every foul-up they've been responsible for, but that doesn't mean we wanted them to make those foul-ups. It was obvious from the outset that if the invasion of Iraq could have a positive outcome, the Bush administration was determined to do none of the things that could make that happen.

God knows we wanted things to go right in Iraq in spite of everything. But how could they? At every juncture, they made the wrong move. They seemed so determined to do exactly the wrong things that some people wonder whether they intended it to be a disaster.

Of course, Friedman then goes on to point out several of the problems with Iraq that liberals and the brass have been pointing out for a very long time, and seems to think he is the first person to break the great silence to say these things. We have seen this before.

Arthur Silber feels Friedman's pain after reading between the lines.

03:10 BST

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Alert: Tell C-SPAN to show Conyers' forums, wherever they are.*

Make our voices heard

The link above is to the C-SPAN contact page - use it. Bradblog has the details of what has happened and why we should push for this.

And Something Rotten in Ohio by Gore Vidal in The Nation tells you a little more about why you want C-SPAN to show it: Although news of foreign countries seldom appears in our tightly censored media (and good news, never), those of us who are addicted to C-SPAN and find it the one truly, if unconsciously, subversive media outlet in these United States are able to observe British politics in full cry. I say "subversive" not only because C-SPAN is apt to take interesting books seriously but also because its live coverage of the Senate and the House of Representatives is the only look we are ever allowed at the mouthpieces of our masters up close and is, at times, most reflective of a government more and more remote from us, unaccountable and repressive. (Via Isebrand.)

Just in case you need more reasons why, read this: US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has acknowledged that security in Iraq has not improved statistically since Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003.

16:42 BST

Might makes right

Subject: The Right Conversation for America, Fred Hiatt, 13 June 2005


Fred Hiatt wonders why there is more interest in criticizing brutal and illegal activities by agents of the US government than in criticizing the terrorists.

Calling people "terrorists" is already a criticism; it really isn't necessary to elaborate by saying that terrorists are engaging in activities that terrorize people.

The term "United States of America", however, is supposed to mean something else. If Mr. Hiatt prefers that we make direct comparisons between the two, we will have to start saying things like, "America's terrorists are not as bad as the Muslim terrorists." Then we can sit around and parse each terroristic act to see who is worse.

As an American, I find it rather shocking that the comparison is even being suggested - especially in The Washington Post.

Elton Beard at Busy, Busy, Busy explains.

Update: It has been pointed out in comments that perhaps I have been hasty.

14:23 BST

Things I saw last night

I can hardly believe it. Did Greenspan actually acknowledge that the expanding gap between the rich and the rest of us "may destabilize the economy"? Faithful Progressive finds it in The Christian Science Monitor: The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself. Wow.

Here's a great idea. If UN Ambassador Bolton doesn't want to recognize international law, then international law should not recognize him, either. For example, there's no reason they should deliver his mail. (via)

Mary reviews Start Making Sense.

Rumsfeld Can't Recall Whether He Approved Crooked Boeing Contract.

Chris Floyd has a post up at Empire Burlesque called The Waltz Goes On at the Murderer's Ball that begins: Once again, wise man William Blum peels back a rancid layer of historical hypocrisy to show the maggoty truth of militarism underneath.

Disinterested Party discusses legalizing drugs.

E.J. Dionne suggests a possible winning strategy for the Bushistas in an unholy pairing of John McCain with Jeb Bush. Here's What's Left finds this scary, but isn't so sure it would work.

Matt Singer at Left in the West has lost all patience with attacks on Dean.

Australia is not so different from us - they're having the same problem we are having of a rising religious right. (Thanks to Helga for the tip.)

Jesse Kornbluth says that if the real estate bubble bursts, the God bubble will go with it.

Melanie wants some good beef, but the USDA isn't helping.

Kidnapped Dalek found on Glastonbury Tor.

11:22 BST

Political stuff

John Aravosis has the explanation for what went on in the Senate vote to apologize for not having passed a federal law against lynching. The short version is:There were only six Senators present for the vote, which was a small chorus of Ayes - which is what they mean by "passed unanimously; the real way to show support for the bill was to sign on as a co-sponsor, which could also have been done after the vote. All but 15 Senators have done so - 15 Republicans. (John also has that list, compiled before the last Democrat had signed.)

68% of voters think medical marijuana should be legal. 63% of Republicans, 73% of Democrats, and 68% of independents don't think patients who use marijuana should be arrested.

At Daily Kos, Fink reports that, according to The Hill, those forums John Conyers has been holding are having to move, because, "In a sign of how far relationships on the committee have soured, majority staff recently announced a new policy to deny any request from a committee Democrat for the use of a committee hearing room."

The Rude Pundit watches in amazement as a CNN analyst speaks truth.

00:08 BST

Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Check these out

The rightward Tech Central Station has an interesting interview with FEC Commissioner Brad Smith about the attempts to legislate political speech on the Internet that spells out the odious and repressive nature of the changes some are attempting to impose on the citizen press. Kos has comments. So does Winds of Change.

Via Mark Evanier the stunning news that you can catch a new Tom Lehrer performance here.

Guess which states are raising the minimum wage.

22:52 BST

Document jam

A couple days ago the NYT published a clueless article by David Sanger about another document (which the NewsHog calls the Downing Street Briefing and provides a bit of useful background for those who are deaf to the local British overtones) from Tony Blair's cabinet. This briefing paper discussed the fact that the means by which the invasion of Iraq would be packaged and sold ("political decisions") had not really been mapped out yet. Oddly, the title of this piece is "Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made".

Well, it's true that quite a few decisions hadn't been made, but whether to invade was not one of them, as Natasha points out. But the wingers are taking this article as proof that Bush was actually telling the truth when he claimed that he had made no decision to invade. A few examples (via):

Just One Minute: Does this latest NY Times story (buried in Section A) quash the hopes of our friends on the left, who hold out hopes that the Downing Street minutes will blow the lid off the Bush cover-up and reveal the sordid truth about his reckless, shameless march to war? You're kidding, right? The dream will never die!

The QandO Blog calls their post on the subject For the Downing Street Memo crowd: memo wars, and says: Now, if no one finds the memo reproducable in MS Word, we should all be able to put this Downing Street Memo business behind us. Well, except for the wing-nuts, that is.

Captain's Quarters is calling this "The Emily Litella Memo" ("Never mind!"), saying that Sanger's article "completely undermines the central argument of the Downing Street Memo."

This is absurd, of course, given that the newly-revealed document contains this passage:

"The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it."
Which would explain why the astute Brad DeLong quite rightly covers the article in one of his "Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?" posts.

Juan Cole, in an article discussing the role bloggers have played in giving the DSM story legs, quotes an e-mail from Jean-Phlippe Marcotte:

You may by now have seen the NYT's deeply buried take on the new DSM, written by David Sanger, "Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made", which turns on a tendentious reading of the phrase "no political decisions". In the context of the memo, it seems clear that these decisions concern the strategy by which the conditions or framework for military action [are created]; but Sanger interprets it to mean what the article title says, and misses completely the bit about using the UN process to justify, not avoid, the war. The tone is strikingly defensive, effectively claiming that the Times reported on this memo two weeks before it was even written.

The contrast with the London Sunday Times reading, and yours, is stark.

Riggsveda at Corrente and Nico Pitney at Think Progress have more. (I think it's a bit sad that John Cole is still willing to buy into the right-blogosphere's reinterpretation of this thing. It's as if the word "political" in the document is invisible to them, or is a synonym for "military".)

14:32 BST

On the landscape

Julia responded in mail to my question about Zell Miller as follows:

he's a Democrat for the same reason that Dr. Rice is a Republican - because they promised their parents they'd never change parties, to keep fresh in memory that the Dixiecrats wouldn't let Dr. Rice's dad vote.

I wish I were making that up. I've always wanted to be a creative genius.

How important is abortion, really? - Majikthise answers a lot of bad arguments for selling Democratic ideals short.

Signorile explains book-banning fervor on the right: She believes we have simply become "too open-minded" which has caused "our brains to fall out." It may sound like she's the one whose brain was lost somewhere, but people like Kern are now making laws in communities across the country.

Disinterested Party reports on the success of the new Pope's meddling in Italy's politics.

A couple of weeks ago I linked to a post about a "Biblical Marriage" amendment, which credited Robert Anton Wilson as the source. But Wilson didn't credit his source. That was Alex Frantz at Public Nuisance. And, speaking of Alex, he has a good post up now taking issue with Kevin Drum (and others) on the idea that the press didn't report on the Downing Street minutes because it was old news that "everyone" already knew. But then Michael Kinsley wrote something that changed Kevin's mind. Think Progress, by the way, has the new documents supporting the DSM on their site.

10:13 BST

Monday, 13 June 2005


One year ago, Al Gore gave this speech and lots of right-wingers called him crazy. It's downright eerie looking at it again now.

Grayson Harper learns what Christianity is about at the gun show.

Zell Miller. Yes. Er, what's his excuse for calling himself a Democrat, again? (via)

Uggabugga has a timeline up for the decision to invade Iraq.

Lightning applies an sf theme I wouldn't have thought of to our political parties.

Guess who we're being told are leading progressive Senate voices. No, c'mon, guess.

In America, they are "important" people. In Brazil, they are just citizens.

The Astronomy Picture of the Day is straight out of The Wizard of Oz. Mind, yesterday's was pretty cool, too. And this one.

23:21 BST

News and analysis

American Stranger at Blah3 says Howard Dean is on to something: I'm sure the Rightards and not-so-liberal media will go into another attack of righteous indignation for another few days over this. but I'm starting to see just what Dean is doing. He is single-handedly re-defining the landscape, and he's voicing obvious truths with just enough hyperbole to guarantee media coverage. Brilliant is what it is.

So what is it that Dean said? "The chairman of the Republican Party as you know has made a big deal about attracting African-American voters," Dean said to conference attendees. "And this is a litmus test. If you aren't going to support the extension of the Voting Rights Act, I don't know what right you have to go to a black church and show your face." Too right!

Personally, I think it's hilarious that raving crackpot barbarian Dick Cheney thinks he is in any position to criticize Dean. Left in the West has a good take on that, too.

Time magazine has a big piece looking "Inside the Wire at Gitmo." The right-blogosphere is having a big yawn over it, but Juan Cole looks at it a bit differently, along with numerous other stories under the heading, Top Ten Things You Wouldn't expect to Happen if You Listened to Bush and Cheney.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall notes a mysteriously bad real estate investment and sudden economic turnaround. Funny about that....

12:24 BST

The corporate media strikes again

I don't even understand how a piece called "In Overhaul of Social Security, Age Is the Elephant in the Room" could appear in The New York Times at this late date. Honestly, that's really what the article is about - the idea that no one is talking about age in the debate. Of course, age is the entire basis of the debate to begin with - it is precisely the projection that the big demographic cohort of baby-boomers will live to collect benefits, possibly for longer than our parent generation, that has allowed Social Security Deform to be on the table at all. Yet this article pretends that this is a new idea, something that no one has noticed except a few smart Republicans, although, sadly, the obstructionist Democrats just won't face up to reality.

Jonathan Weiler at The Gadflyer has a good post on this:

Incredibly, in an article which is entirely devoted to the impact of life expectancy increases on social security's finances, the authors do not, one single time, mention the fact that the Social Security Trustees (and the Congressional Budget Office) factor life expectancy increases into their assessment of the program's long-term well-being.
Toner and Rosenbaum also make clear what they think of the Democrats' apparent obstructionism concerning their Woodward-and-Bernstein-esque discovery. They quote Trent Lott on the age issue, as saying "we've got to deal with reality." And then they pen this line, a dead ringer for an RNC talking point: "But the politics are treacherous, all the more so because Republicans are dealing with it alone. Democrats have refused to engage in discussions over Social Security's finances until President Bush withdraws his proposal to create private investment accounts in the program."

While it's true that Democrats have insisted that private accounts come off the negotiating table, it does not follow from that fact that only Republicans are willing to face reality. Toner and Rosenbaum could, of course, have noted that Republican insistence on private accounts has itself constituted a total break from reality, if reality is understood to mean dealing with social security's finances over seventy five years. This is because, as has finally become too clear for even Republicans to dispute, private accounts do nothing to improve the program's finances. But, you'd never know that from this article, whose only point is that life expectancy is increasing, so all the doom and gloom about social security is correct, and only the Republicans are willing to do the hard work of defying politics to deal with the so-called problem.
Of course, the very premise of the article - that the age demographics are the central peril facing the program - is itself garbage. If Congress raises the cap on income subject to social security taxes to $140,000, it will substantially reduce the projected 75-year actuarial shortfall. And, if it removes the cap altogether and makes the tax a flat one, as opposed to the perversely regressive tax it now is, then there's no 75 year shortfall at all. Furthermore, if health actually continues improving at the rate that Toner and Rosenbaum assume, this will have differential, not wholly negative, effects on the program. Better health care means people live longer, which increases the program's liabilities. But, it also means more healthful working years, which means more taxes paid into the system. It also means lower infant and child mortality, which means a better ratio of workers to retirees - during the critical years when the boomers retire leading up to mid-century - than the actuaries now assume.
This is about as bad a piece of news reporting as I have seen in the Times in a long time. At least since it was reporting how menacing Saddam's arsenal looked.

So, what is this piece doing in the NYT? Maybe we should ask.

Via Gail Davis.

10:34 BST

A bunch of links

Dean Tells Dems: 'People Want Us to Fight': Howard Dean said Saturday that positive responses from supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough despite suggestions from some congressional Democrats that the party chairman should tone down his rhetoric. Yes! (And, as usual, Donna Brazile says lame stuff. Someone should explain the facts of life to her.)

There's a reason Kos has unkind things to say about mercenaries

Things Every Progressive Should Know About Abortion and Why Abortion Improves Society, both via another link-rich post at Pacific Views.

Huh. I never knew that Roger Ebert was fannish. (I knew about the Tucker hotel, though.)

Shorter Left Behind books.

Elaine has been doing a lot of photoblogging lately. I thought this one was neat.

And Vaara has been travelling in Europe with camera in hand, with some impressive results.

Mike Luckovich on Deep Throat (via)

02:17 BST

Sunday, 12 June 2005

The art of blogging

Exercise your visceral responses: Crooks and Liars has many good videos up, as always. First see Representative James Sensenbrenner shut down the Patriot Act hearing, after which the people who were not given a chance to speak for the record speak anyway. Then watch the infuriating news story about a Brainwashing Camp for Gay Kids (one of whom is writing a blog). After that, you'll probably need some relief with the appearance of Al Franken on David Letterman. And, just for you, Alun, the ad for The Real Gilligan's Island.

Wouldn't you know, the RNC has a habit of coingate-style theft, Dave Johnson tells us: In Texas, Governor George Bush was accused of turning over $9 billion of University of Texas assets to campaign donors. ... In Florida the accusation is that Governor Jeb Bush tried to shore up Enron's plummeting stock with millions from the state's pension system.

Firedoglake has the scariest post I read this week, quoting 'Never Been Wrong' Robertson's predictions for our future: Insana then asks, "Where does it end?" And he said, "Utter global collapse." Not simply economic collapse; complete disintegration of all infrastructure and of all public structures of governments. Utter, utter collapse. That the end is collapse of simply epic proportion. In 10 years time, he said, whoever is still alive on the planet will be effectively starting again."

Mobjectivist notices that there is a serious difference between the approach of right-wing blogs on the one hand and centrist or liberal blogs on the other, on the subject of energy depletion.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden has an update on the subject of astroturfing - a practice that is older than you think.

Skimble advises us on the competence tax - only it's not just money they want from you.

Jim Henley has been emitting a series of posts at Unqualified Offerings on the virtues of Piss Christ as a work of art. We Have Grown Used to Beauty Without Horror is the start, but the reason for it all is that the right-wingers think it compares with the insults to the Koran by our agents in our camps detention centers. Not a surprise that they can't tell the difference. Of course, one look at Piss Christ tells you it is the work of a Christian. It ain't Muslims who are accused of peeing on the Koran. (Of course, some would say it ain't Christians, either.)

16:39 BST

Saturday, 11 June 2005

Creeps I have known

As I've mentioned on previous occasions, I was once on the executive committee of the National Council for Civil Liberties, and it was run by Labour hacks who were trying to get a leg up.This was one of them:

Human rights activists 'childish'

Human rights campaigners in Britain have been branded childish by a former general secretary of Liberty.

Andrew Puddephat said they attacked government attempts to deal with crime without considering members of the public who the laws are trying to help.

He likened them to a three-year-old child who refuses all offers of food without saying what it wants.

Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty's director, said some people wanted the group to "pipe down", which she would not allow.

Good for her. I don't know much about this woman, except that I noticed her previously taking issue (on national IDs) with another one of the successful party climbers who'd been on the executive committee when I was, but it's certainly refreshing to see the place is run by someone who speaks up now and then. But I would have thought even Andrew would have been ashamed to complain in public about a civil liberties organization objecting to government excess.
Ms Chakrabarti said the current erosion of "precious, precious human rights" meant there was a danger campaigns alienated some people.

She said: "Sometimes we do get pushed into that because we are reacting to these terrible broadsides on things like the presumption of innocence."

Ms Chakrabarti said criticism often came because people wanted the organisation to "dilute the message", she said. "Yes human rights are universal. Yes they are not just about the defendant but they are about the defendant too.

"And I think some people at the moment want Liberty, frankly, just to pipe down and that may happen one day but I'm afraid not on my watch."

"Some people." Some people who used to try to pretend they were civil libertarians get trotted out by the Labour Party to explain why we don't need civil liberties anymore. Oh, Andrew, you always did make me want to smack you.

Of course, the laws in question are unlikely to help anyone at all. They protect no one. They just give the authorities outrageous powers to abuse the privacy and freedoms of the people, and then politicians can posture and pretend they are "doing something" for the public. No civil libertarian in their right mind wouldn't complain.

23:44 BST

Stops on the Infobahn

Let me heartily recommend that if you haven't heard it already, you listen to the .mp3 of Friday's Rachel Maddow Show. Or at least read the relevant blog post. Aside from the usual interesting take on news that is or should be on the front page (the House subcommittee vote to eliminate funding for children's programming on public broadcasting and all public funding for public broadcasting within two years; Jesse Helms' book, and more), Rachel announced that she will be starting a regular gig as a panelist on the new MSBBC show, The Situation with Tucker Carlson. There's a certain irony here, since the show Rachel used to do an hour later on AAR with Chuck D and Lizz Winstead was called Unfiltered - which name was stolen for another Tucker Carlson show.

And via Rachel's blog, check out Raw Story on John Conyers and the Downing Street memo. And Steve Soto, in Critical Issues For Conyers To Explore At Next Week's DSM Hearing, says there are three witnesses Conyers should call to make the administration squirm.

Chris Floyd is a good, smart journalist (for The Moscow Times - that's the Moscow in Russia). What does a good, smart journalist do when he gets it wrong? He admits it.

And via Chris, this article, by Muriel Grey, of all people, on a curious phenomenon: But what if that isn't true? What if poverty in some of the worst affected areas of the globe is not simply the result of mismanagement, incompetence, corruption, and indifference? What if it's the result of deliberate economic engineering?

Jonathan Alter made fun of Fox. Fox head honcho Roger Ailes hit back with phony smears. Via Ezra Klein, who congratulates Alter for standing up to 'em.

I was interested to hear that Howl's Moving Castle was being made into a movie. Gregory Harris (of Planet Swank) did a brief interview with Pete Doctor, who worked on the movie.

Via GailOnline, I learned that it's fun to use Google to translate The Sideshow into Japanese. And I also found this tutorial on Social Security.

21:18 BST

Watching the defectives

One of the big stories this week has been the release of a smelly new book that seeks to frighten us about Iran the same way some of us were frightened into invading Iraq, "based entirely on the Pennsylvania Republican's freelance communications with a secret source he code-named 'Ali,'" according to Laura Rozen in The American Prospect.

Just to get some perspective on what kind of sense of proportion the wingers are capable of, one of them presents us with an article entitled "Barbara Boxer, Bully" - confirming once again that the wingers find it totally unacceptable that anyone stand up for any position they don't agree with. Note here that what Ernst is complaining about is not so much Boxer's positions per se as the fact that she makes some attempt to give them an airing - and that makes her a "bully"! At Memeorandum, we see that the right-blogosphere is nodding with approval at the article, which is rife with the predictable inaccuracies. (Or are they just lies?)

In case you missed them, check out Max Blumenthal's "Hannity's Soul-Mate of Hate" in The Nation and Marc J. Ambinder's "Inside the Council for National Policy" for a look at how closely the farthest far-rightists are tied to the "respectable" face of the RNC and the people who really run the world.

14:23 BST

Media media

Bill Scher says Amnesty Is Winning - and maybe that "gulag" remark wasn't so dumb after all. The crazy reaction by the RNC - and the willingness of the press to treat it as a serious criticism - kept it in the public eye for far longer than usually occurs with Amnesty reports, didn't it?

All week I've been seeing stories that depict DNC fundraising under Howard Dean as "lagging" behind that of his predecessor (and here), but Media Matters says it's not true: Media Matters for America documented that, as DNC chairman, Dean raised $14.8 million between February and April 2005 -- roughly a 74 percent increase from the same period in 2003, the previous non-election year. Additionally, over that same three-month period, the DNC has raised more money in 2005 in comparison to the Republican National Committee than it did in 2003.

I hadn't noticed before that Fishbowl has a category page called sic, full of errors and corrections from Big Media sources. Some of them are pretty funny (like misidentifying DeLay as Speaker of the House). The latest: "The Washington Times yesterday inadvertently published a photograph of DC City Administrator Robert C. Bobb (left) misidentified as the late soul singer Marvin Gaye (right)"

Daniel Okrent still clueless.

13:06 BST

Econ 101

Josh Marshall is talking here specifically about Social Security, but this could be applied to the whole way Republicans balk at spending money on programs that exist to make our nation as a whole healthier and more secure:

If I run a business and I'm not bringing in enough money to pay expenses, solvency can easily be restored by just closing down my office and ceasing to sell anything. Then my inflows and outflows will be equal because I'll be out of business. Similarly, if I'm not making enough to send my children to the best schools or give them the best medical care, I can solve that problem by pulling them out of school and just giving them aspirin. Then the shortfall is solved.
(Grover Norquist would just shoot the kid.)

Republican "fiscal responsibility" would be penny-wise and pound-foolish if economic security for the nation was what they were actually after, but it's not.

01:00 BST

Friday, 10 June 2005

WaPo off the reservation?

What's really astonishing about the article Building Iraq's Army: Mission Improbable is not the depressing story it tells. What's astonishing is that it's on the front page of The Washington Post. What a shame it wasn't there a year ago.

Mark Leibovich tells you everything you need to know about why newspaper sales are down in Dean's Appearance Has Media in a Sweat: Reid replied that there isn't anyone who hasn't "misspoken" and recited an on-message litany of "important issues" that Democrats are committed to addressing, including the escalating costs of gasoline, health care and college tuition. "We're here today to talk about the American people," he said. But practically everyone else in the room wanted to talk about Howard Dean. And why is that? Why didn't they want to talk about the pressing needs of the American people?

E. J. Dionne, who has been off the reservation for a long time already, now goes after the conventional wisdom - or rather, the conventional excuse - for why Kerry isn't in the White House, and says not to get Kerried Away: This habit is dangerous because dissing Kerry is an easy way for Democrats to evade discussion of what the party needs to do to right itself. By focusing on the past, the Kerry alibi allows Democrats to avoid engaging the future. In 2008, the Democrats could nominate a candidate who combines Harry Truman's toughness, JFK's charm and FDR's gifts of leadership -- and still face many of the problems Kerry confronted. Blaming everything on Kerry as a supposedly elitist, stiff and indecisive Massachusetts liberal is the Democrats' version of cheap grace. You tell 'em, E.J.

13:44 BST

Quick links

Finland, October 14-15 2003, by Pekka Parviainen Photo from this page of 2003 auroras

Must read: It's Frightening To Die Cheated by Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution.

Arthur Silber on ignorant bigots.

The Rude Pundit on why we need Howard Dean.

Senator Sam Brownback (R-Arkham) is faithless to the up-or-down vote.

A blog to check out: Dissident Voice

Avery Ant applies for a job.

Dalek held hostage.

12:19 BST


I keep meaning to mention, because folks still keep wondering about it, that "fixed" means the same thing on both sides of the Atlantic. If you doubt it, just look at Tony Blair's own statement:

No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all.
That denial is recognition that he had not been accused of anything benign.

Action alert: Bill Scher knows we have to back Dean up. So does Atrios. They have links up to donate to the DNC - let the DC establishment know that we don't need no steenking corporate donors.

Good article by Randall Robinson about what we did to Aristide and Haiti, and why Latin America doesn't want what we're selling.

Rorschach makes a brief defense of socialism.

02:38 BST

Thursday, 09 June 2005

Life and politics

From Rachel Maddow's weblog: A report by the Inspector General's office found that Bush agreed to pay a politically well connected family in Florida more than 3 times what their Everglades property was worth so they wouldn't drill for oil and gas. Sounds OK, right? Well, turns out the government already owned the land

Michael Zoldak says: People aren't cogs in a machine.

Political Strategy says it's a good thing Dean's not getting a lot of corporate dosh - it means our support is coming from real people, and that means it's real people who will have the clout. Via Gail Davis.

Democratic leaders stand up for Dean: A round of criticism from fellow Democrats and major donors about Howard Dean's four-month tenure as Democratic National Committee chairman has prompted Senate leaders to rise to his defense at a public event planned for today.

17:28 BST

Buncha links

Check out this post at the Morning Sedition weblog from Jonathan Larsen on the craven media. He has a piece of advice: They've shown us what to do. Time to do it.

Salon has a round-table on impeachment. Mark Tushnet says the idea just has no legs, although he doesn't disagree that it might have been appropriate. Jack Rakove wonders whether impeachment should even be in the Constitution. Michael J. Gerhardt says there's no case. Cass Sunstein says, "Having helped to elect President George W. Bush in 2000, Ralph Nader now seems to be calling for his impeachment. It would be funny, except that it's not funny." But he also thinks impeachment is a non-starter.

At first glance the whole rare coin thing seemed like it was maybe just some bizarre embezzlement, but it's a lot more serious than that.It seems the workers' comp fund was being money-laundered so it could be funnelled into the Republican machine. Think about that.

Anyone who thought the fabled fourteen deal-makers were going to vote against Janice Rogers Brown as part of that deal to make an end-run around the nuclear option can come back to reality, now. Personally, I'm thinking the deal was, at best, a Trojan horse so that the GOP could get these unthinkable judges without having to really piss the public off by breaking Senate rules. The Democrats should probably have made them do it - it's not like there's really anything stopping them.

I don't think Mark's sympathies lie with us, but at least he has a sense of humor - although I think that bit at the end is unintentional. On the other hand, no surprise if the wingers end up crowing about this story.

Uggabugga answers its critics.

Seven reasons why Mark Felt isn't Deep Throat.


13:45 BST

In Blogtopia

Yes, Skippy invented that word. And Cookie Jill, posting in Skippyland, takes note of how the administration continues to support the troops.

"Good riddance to the Republican Party. There is no more Right Wing or Left Wing, but only the Jew-Wing of Amerikwa."

Gene Lyons: One virtue of American-style capitalism is the way it has sustained democracy by transforming the lust for power into the quest for cash. You don't need to know much about the biographies of 19th century robber barons like John D. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie, for example, to be glad they stuck to commerce instead of politics. Not that the two are ever completely separate, but we're better off with the control freaks in the counting house instead of the White House. This shouldn't be read as a slap at the inheritors of great fortunes, like Arkansas Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller, nor the universities, libraries, museums and hospitals founded in their names. But it's worthwhile asking whether the truce between wealth and democracy in America isn't breaking down as the tycoon class commands an ever greater share of the nation's wealth and uses it to tilt the political system even further in its favor.

Media Matters finds bad info from your government: lies about the effectiveness of condoms from DHHS, and lies about high drug prices from the Surgeon General.

Howard Zinn: What makes our nation immune from the normal standards of human decency?

CNN decides to broadcast an hour of real news - news junkies shocked! (via)

Bush is Not Exactly Like Stalin, Which Is Good Enough By His Standards

Is there growing news coverage of horror and the supernatural? And if so, could it be cultural necrophilia?

Creationists and dinosaurs (But California seems OK so far.)

Space aliens on Tamiami Trail (Via The Anomalist.)

01:44 BST

Wednesday, 08 June 2005



A network of forced labor camps in the former Soviet Union.
A forced labor camp or prison, especially for political dissidents.
A place or situation of great suffering and hardship, likened to the atmosphere in a prison system or a forced labor camp.
You know, I'm having trouble figuring out why this word was such outrageous hyperbole from Amnesty International. And I think Anne Applebaum is talking smack when she charges them with anti-Americanism. Criticizing a genuinely horrifying Bush administration policy is not anti-Americanism.

Ted Barlow:

On one hand, we had an organization with a 40-year history of standing up for human rights regardless of borders and ideology, criticizing the United States for holding prisoners without due process and torturing them. Only a fool would deny that this is, in fact, happening. On the other hand, we have an Administration accusing Amnesty International of poor word choice.
And, of course, The Poor Man, not being very funny this time.

23:00 BST

Stuff I saw

The NYT story on how a White House official "edited" climate change reports has a nifty picture of edited text for your reading pleasure.

Geoffrey R. Stone on Why YOU Need the American Constitution Society: Do you remember when it was O.K. to be a "liberal"? Do you remember when you could be proud to be a "liberal" and when "conservative" was an epithet? Today, "liberals" masquerade as "progressives." Why is that?

Crooks and Liars has a video of Rosie versus Sean Hannity, and then this one about what I like to call "anti-whistleblower terrorism".

If I hadn't lived through the last five years, I would probably be stunned by the unbelievable bollocks some people will try to feed each other - or swallow - in order to pretend that George W. Bush is not a lying bastard who invaded a country for no morally defensible reason. Of course Bush dismisses the credibility of the Downing Street memo; that's not a reason to believe him. Think Progress has more.

Don't miss this post. (I liked the comment from filkertom: That is not liberal which can eternal lie, And with strange pundits even truth may die. In the Sunken New York Times, Kthrugman waits a-truthing.)

21:43 BST

Corporate media and their shills

This is from the Associated Press:

BEDFORD, N.H. - Howard Dean is not the Democratic Party's spokesman, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the latest party leader to distance himself from the outspoken chairman, said Tuesday.

"I believe Governor Dean is a good chairman. He's doing a good job," Richardson, the head of the Democratic Governors' Association, told reporters at the start of a two-day visit to New Hampshire. "He's not the spokesman for the party. It's governors, it's senators, it's party leaders."

Last weekend, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards criticized Dean for his recent remarks.

Dean told a group of progressives that Republicans "never made an honest living in their lives," a comment he was forced to explain a day later. The one-time presidential candidate also said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who has not been accused of any crime, ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence.

Now, I believe I've already pointed out what Biden et al. are doing is out of line and unproductive (and John Aravosis may have said it even better), but this is about AP. Here's a more accurate report on the same statement from Dean:
Thus, by definition, Democratic chairman Howard Dean has slipped up - even if, as he claims, his comment last week that a lot of Republicans "have never made an honest living in their lives" was misinterpreted. For former Governor Dean, another fact of political life working against him is that more media than ever are tracking his every public word - and waiting to pounce if he goes off-message. For days after, the implications of said gaffe are hashed and rehashed, as other news comes and goes.
Some versions reporting it, however, have him saying that all Republicans have never made an honest living in their lives. And it doesn't appear that the straight quote is what Edwards, at least, was presented with.

Notice that the CSM has Dean talking about "a lot of" Republicans, not Republicans in general. Dean wasn't talking about the Republican grass roots, he was talking about legislators.

But even that is beside the point. This is the way these questions are asked - with the spin already stuck to them. Any competent Democrat should be prepared to respond to such a question by refusing to accept it on the grounds that they did not hear it themselves and haven't had a chance to verify the exact wording. They should instead take the opportunity to either point out that questions like this are usually not accurate representations, or, better still, they should go straight to the meat of it and say that it's true that the Republican leadership is a moneyed elite with no respect for ordinary working Americans. And then they can enumerate the ways in which the supposedly outrageous statement is in fact correct. (Of course, this may be harder for someone like Biden, who supported the bankruptcy bill and might be called to answer for it.)

And someone needs to take these guys aside and tell them that Dean isn't the one who needs a muzzle.

Meanwhile, you can write to AP and ask them why they misrepresented Dean's statement.

19:41 BST

From the real liberal media

Action Alert: Like it says at Drug WarRant, it's time to write to your reps about the recent Supremes' decision on marijuana, particularly the part that says the ball is in Congress' court - and thank them if they've been voting right, or ask why if they've been voting wrong. (And I see USA Today had a good editorial on the subject.)

I have never understood where some people got the idea that the US were the good guys in Southeast Asia because we were against Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. You have to really re-write history to come to that conclusion. Michael Tomasky recognizes people who don't want to face the truth.

Elton Beard has been posting! Nice one on Richard Cohen, and a curious "progressive". (Bob Somerby also has a few words for Cohen.)

One Good Move has the This American Life segment of Julia Sweeney talking about her crisis of faith, and a statement from her responding to the e-mails it generated.

I just love it that Bill O'Reilly's Love Boat sank.

15:38 BST

Tuesday, 07 June 2005


Posting at Think Progress, David Sirota points out that it was courageous of Hillary Clinton to criticize the press as she did yesterday. She gave the Republicans a good smack, too, but it was certainly refreshing to hear a leading Democrat talk about what a waste of space so many reporters are lately.

Also at Think Progress, How Janice Rogers Brown Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Great Depression, and more on Tom DeLay's worker's paradise.

Slacktivist on the Explicit Content in the Left Behind series: I've previously joked about how the Left Behind series is "Pretrib Porno" because of its fetishistic appeal for followers of that kinky eschatology, And we've frequently noted how the characters' names -- Buck, Steele, Dirk -- seem drawn from the adult section of the local video store. But there's another sense, joking aside, in which these books truly are pornographic: they contain spiritually explicit scenes of graphic religious conversion.

The freepers and other wingers whined a lot during the campaign about how Kerry hadn't released all of his military records. Well, now he has, and they look far better than anyone expected. Steve Soto says the Swiftboat Liars have egg on their faces, but Kerry was a jerk not to release them during the campaign and undercut the Swifties.

Popular president: Six in ten respondents said Bush and GOP leaders are not making good progress on the nation's problems; of those, 67 percent blamed the president and Republicans while 13 percent blamed congressional Democrats. For the first time, a majority, 55 percent, also said Bush has done more to divide the country than to unite it. 52% disapproval rating - let's see who in the press wants to keep calling him "popular".

Oh, gross.

Brad DeLong says upper income folks are starting to get angry now that it turns out that they, too, are paying higher taxes in order to make the top 0.1% richer. Gosh, didn't they know? Did they really think that making a mere $300,000 a year put you up there with the filthy rich? Fools.

Nice pic. (via)

Why does female orgasm exist?

23:47 BST

And that's just one little thing

From The Webster-Kirkwood Times, St. Louis, Ben Garrett's political activism had FBI agents knocking at his door:

Danny Harmann, stepfather to Garrett, was surprised to find the FBI knocking on his Webster Groves door last year. Questions asked revolved around Garrett's political activism and intentions to protest at the 2004 presidential nominating conventions.
"Ben has some strong political beliefs, but he totally believes in non-violence," added Skyler Harmann. "It's too bad that our Patriot Act gives authorities license to harass people with political views that differ with the administration.
"I hope the ACLU finds out exactly how our tax money is being misused for this kind of harassment, instead of being used to protect the American public from real terrorism," said Ben's mother, a longtime local school teacher.
The story of the FBI's monitoring of Garrett first broke in the national media last summer. Garrett was put under surveillance, along with two other friends in their 20's, Chris Scheets and Daniel Coate, all residing in Kirksville at the time of the federal scrutiny.

Agents visited parents as well as the three men, and asked questions about plans to demonstrate at the national conventions. After the three arrived in St. Louis to prepare to travel to the Democratic Convention in Boston, they found themselves under continued surveillance.

The three men were subsequently subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury on July 29, the same day that they had planned to be in Boston to demonstrate at the Democratic Convention.
"We aren't interested in impeding the government's ability to fight terrorism," added Lieberman. "We do want to know if tax money is being used to intimidate innocent people or to effectively fight terrorism.

"But it is more than just that," said Lieberman. "A lot of people are going to say: 'If you don't have anything to hide, why should you care if the FBI comes to ask a few questions?' But the point is: This is a country where you are not supposed to receive a knock on the door because of your political beliefs."

If the FBI arranges to subpoena you to testify before a grand jury on the very day when they know you have plans to be elsewhere, it's already more than "a few questions", it's a major inconvenience. And if your plans to be elsewhere involve voicing your dissent, well then, it's a great deal more than that. (via)

14:49 BST


Enterprise Ethics Weblog has a URL that makes me want to scream, "Get a domain name!" But never mind that, they also have this post about Schwarzenegger's plan to demonize all those public servants (and their unions) that have been criticizing him.

Heart, Soul & Humor on Bush's political religion: Everything is political for the Bush Administration, and everything is first viewed through the political prism. How can this work to our political advantage? How can we exploit this politically? How can we use this to further our political goals? Nothing is sacred. Political is first. Religion must become political to serve our purpose, and religion that does not serve our political purposes will be denigrated.

Digby: Those liberal activist judges are at it again. They really are. A majority, made up of the moderates on the court, just ruled that the federal laws against medical marijuana are constitutional (as opposed to federal laws against guns near schools or violence against women.) If this were a case about, say, a federal law that overrode state laws against gay marriage, I suspect you'd be seeing a slightly different reaction from the wingnuts and probably on the court. The moderates (there are no liberals) upheld federal power over states' rights which is consistent with their position. Mark Evanier has a somewhat different take, but some good advice.

"It's as if he sat at the typewriter and the piece just trickled down his leg." Wolcott explains what's wrong with Daniel Okrent, and what The New York Times really thinks of Paul Krugman, and why.

The myth of big bad John McCain: McCain wants to be president. No surprise there. What is surprising is the number of otherwise sensible people who have been taken in by McCain's shtick. By some accounts, McCain is the most popular politician in America, a man whose appeal cuts across party lines. For the life of me, I can't understand why. McCain is a typical, early 21st century Republican politician. He's not a maverick, and he's not worthy of all of this adulation. Via Julie Saltman.

Check out this video in which our guy Bill Scher defends Deep Throat, along with former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), against two wingnuts and a thinly-disguised RNC talking-pointer who imagine that Felt should have reported his misgivings to John Mitchell! It's nice to see a Democrat actually standing up; shame he's not still in the Senate. (For more fun, watch Richard Ben-Veniste sock it to G. Gordon Liddy.)

12:37 BST

News, views, and chews

Court Rules Against Pot for Sick People. I'm kind of speechless about this. On the one hand, we know who's running things. On the other, it's painful to think we have a government that would actually go to court to defend this position. Dan Gillmor: This is a cruel decision. People who are ill have found marijuana to be a valuable part of their recoveries, or at least coping with disease. Now, a federal government that increasingly insists on the right to intervene in our most private affairs insists on adding grievous insult to crippling injury. (I'll be watching this space for more.)

Read and/or watch Bill Moyers' speech at the Take Back America conference.

Madeline Janis-Aparicio on The Impact of the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance on Workers and Businesses - which did not destroy business in LA.

ACLU movie: The New Face of America?

Is Fox news edging away from the edge?

TalkLeft says to go help Rock the Vote, which is under attack by the wingers.

Jonathan Dresner has more on the ex-king who blogs.

Pope plays politics. But it might not work this time.

I actually thought seriously about posting a picture of myself in sexy underwear, but I don't have any good ones (just forget about new ones) and then I thought it might be more creative just to have a big cat-fight with these damned bitches. Although, truthfully, I can't think of anything catty to say about them. Via Lance, who is stirring things up.

Uh oh. (Also: good catch.)

Robert Parry ruminates on The Real Lessons of Watergate, leading Alice at GOTV to further discussion of Our failure to confront extremists. And another good catch:

00:40 BST

Monday, 06 June 2005

Let's get this over with

As close as I get to the book meme: I don't know how many books I have - a few hundred, I guess. I don't remember what the last book I personally purchased was; I don't buy books that often, I just borrow them or get Mr. Sideshow to purchase them or else make Patrick send them to me. The last book I finished reading was Nightmare Blue by Gardner Dozois & George Alec Effinger. (I'm currently reading Charlie's Singularity Sky. Since I pretty much only read books when I'm on the tube, and I'm not on the tube that often, this may take a while.) Books that mean a lot to me include first and foremost, as always, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, followed by Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Elleander Morning by the late Jerry Yulsman (I just fell in love with her), Unicorn Mountain by Michael Bishop (because despair is a sin), and Take Back Plenty by Colin Greenland because I had a helluva lot of fun reading it. Oh, and just about anything by Charles L. Harness. And several Kurt Vonnegut books. Because I hate having to pick "my favorite" anything. If anyone else wants to do this, they can volunteer.

Wait, didn't I do this already?

23:47 BST

From the notebook

Governor Christine Gregoire. Finally. Unsurprisingly, Rossi had nothing to make his case. That's the answer to the GOP strategy of trying to make their spin overturn elections: Keep pushing back. Victory party here.

Via Rachel Maddow's weblog, Conservatives see liberal bias in class - and mobilize: Concerned that public schools are becoming sites of liberal indoctrination, activists have generated a wave of efforts to limit what teachers may discuss and to bring more conservative views into the classroom. Hey, you can vote for whether public schools are becoming sites of liberal indoctrination! Do it now!

Daily Howler is having fun with Okrent's attack on Krugman and other examples of illiberalism in the "liberal" press - including Salon.

Chris Lehmann at The Boston Phoenix wasn't at all impressed with the NYT's series on class: All classed up and nowhere to go - The New York Times goes slumming: How the paper's allegiance to the ruling elite distorts its look at class in America

Lex Alexander tells us where we can move to when the Bush administration starts trying to send us off on ice floes.

Batman Villains Unlikely To Turn Up In A Movie, via Amygdala.

22:38 BST

Barbarian nation

Dominic at Epicycle thinks maybe the whole Koran-toilet story is just another way to keep us all off the point: the fact that more than five hundred Moslems are being held illegally in a foreign prison camp without charge, without legal advice, without trial, and without the protection of the Geneva Convention.

But Digby notes that back in the USSA, they don't have to incarcerate you to torture you, the ordinary American citizen.

And look who's posting at Crooks and Liars about the mendacious Ms. Malkin - our beloved Arthur Silber, who says: First, one crucial foundational point: nowhere does Malkin even raise, let alone address, why the Bush administration sought to establish a detention center at Guantanamo where they hoped it would forever remain beyond the reach of United States law and of U.S. courts, or how the Bush administration seeks to exercise the identical omnipotent powers over all of us here at home. This is the single most significant aspect of the Guantanamo story, and the one that Bush's defenders are therefore determined never to let anyone understand. Their silence on this issue is an intellectual crime deserving of the most severe condemnation. Compared to these concerns, which I addressed in detail here, the Newsweek controversy is of no importance whatsoever.

19:45 BST

It's goin' around

You know, I really wish that Joe Biden would realize that what he really wants is to be in showbiz. He likes to get on TV, so he says things he really shouldn't say: Dean "doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats," Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." Putz. After watching Gillespie and Mehlman, how can anyone find Dean's rhetoric particularly strong? Seems to me it's a good idea to have the party led by someone who will stand up and call a parasite a parasite. (I see at Memeorandum that Ezra Klein disagrees with me, but his commenters don't, and neither does David Sirota.)

The transcript is now up for that disgusting performance of Mehlman on Meet the Press. Arianna comments on Tim Russert's amazing ability to give the RNC spokescreature a free pass on lies; Chris Mooney points out just how misleading Mehlman is being on Bush's "unprecedented" support for stem cell research.

Who can resist an article called Nixon's henchmen lecture us on ethics by Martin Schram in Newsday? Not me. Richard Nixon's ex-convicts - who did jail time for their crimes against democracy and then profited from their crimes by writing books and becoming celebrities - had returned to work one more con. Nixon's former senior White House assistant, Charles Colson, and the Nixon team's burglar-in-chief, G. Gordon Liddy, worked the cable news circuit, expressing moral indignation that the FBI's former deputy director, W. Mark Felt, was Deep Throat.

And speaking of old Mr. Throat, go here to see Jon Stewart explain the difference between "dissemble" and "disassemble", and then click on "That '70s Source". And don't miss the one about Tom DeLay, for that matter.

Big Media Matt tells you everything you need to know about the weekend's op-ed columns in one quick post.

16:21 BST

Stuff you need to know

Fixing the vote: Magpie at Pacific views looks at A disturbing ballot security story, and Lambert at Corrente follows the money and connects the dots in (Democracy left for) Dead in Ohio. Via Singularity.

Facts every war supporter should have known BEFORE the US invaded Iraq: Who killed the most Kurds? The Kurds. ... When doctors sent by France, the United Nations and the Red Cross examined gassed Kurdish refugees in Turkey, what symptoms did the doctors say were exhibited? Non-lethal tear gas. ... What nation won Humanitarian Awards for its literacy programs? Iraq. Under Hussein's government. ... Who "mass-graved" thousands of Iraqis by bulldozing over them? US forces in 1991. ... What nation defended this atrocity by saying a gap in international law allowed for burying Iraqis alive? The USA. (Thanks to Helga.)

13:40 BST


Dentelle de Nymphe

Bra of the Week

Jim Henley: As I've said before, I don't go for Nazi analogies when trying to describe what "benevolent hegemony" is turning America into. My preferred comparison is more Brezhnevite. But here's a security poster from our local commuter rail line whose design harkens back to an earlier, purer Soviet vision.

In the middle ages, people painted flattering portraits of their patrons. Today, there is the White House press corps.

Scorpio says that Newsweek should apologize for the apology. Good idea. You know what to do.

The media doesn't seem interested, but Jim Capozzola says we should care that Roy Hallums is still missing.

You know what Franklin Roosevelt did 8 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

Armando at Daily Kos wonders why there's been an "uptick" in Saddam coverage lately. Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest notes that it includes a statement from the "impartial" judge that virtually declares the defendant guilty.

Arthur Silber has Strange Dreams.

Sex Advice From Accordion Players, via Alphabitch, via Majikthise.

Believe It ... or Not, MahaBarb actually found this stuff in the media.

I am just so totally intimidated by this post that I had to link to it. Via Empire Of The Senseless.

Bolton got a UN arms inspector fired. Lean Left notes that this is further support for the Downing Street memo.

If you want to see something really infuriating, check out this clip from Press the Meat at Crooks and Liars, where RNC chief Ken Mehlman lies his hiney off. Amazingly, Russert actually brought up the Downing Street memo, and also amazingly, Mehlman claims it's been discredited. Russert didn't appear to buy it, to his credit.

Fiore: Democracy Lite (via)

01:36 BST

Sunday, 05 June 2005

The #1 reason why there is no crisis

I've alluded to this before over the last few years, but lacking a new story to hang it on I kind of left it alone. Now we have this AP story in The Chicago Tribune acknowledging it, Schools marking new Baby Boom:

More than 30 years after becoming the largest group of schoolchildren in U.S. history, Baby Boomers have finally lost their record--to their kids.

A total of 49.6 million children attended public and private schools in 2003, beating the previous high mark of 48.7 million, set in 1970 when much of the Baby Boom generation was in school.

The growth is largely due to all the children who were born in the late 1940s to early 1960s and have since become parents themselves, the U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday. Rising immigration played a part, too, in pushing enrollment past the 1970 record.

"You could have predicted this back in 1970 when we had all those kids," said Mark Mather, a demographer for the Population Reference Bureau, which assesses population trends.

"We knew they were going to have kids of their own. We have this classic echo effect going on."

The entire alleged "Social Security crisis" panic rests on the belief that this hasn't happened.

22:59 BST

Sociology 101

What is Michael Kinsley trying to say? First he talks about all the "national myths" we have about equality, and then he notes that upward mobility is declining, but then he acts like upward mobility never existed. And then he says:

As we learn more about the human mind, even qualities such as self-discipline seem to be a matter of luck, not grit. The problem, in short, may not be that reality is receding from the national myth. The problem may be the myth.
Sounds to me like he's being too short, because that paragraph could mean many things. It could mean that the idea of opportunity was always myth. It could mean that people have failed to realize that the American story is being taken away from us because we have convinced ourselves that it cannot be. Or it could just mean that luck has a lot to do with how well you do.

And if that's what he means, well, that's kind of irrelevant, because we already know that - but we also know that part of that luck is to be in the right place - and "place" includes not just parentage, but nation, laws, society. Some countries, at certain times in their history, have had higher suicide rates than others, higher rates of executions, higher rates of incarceration, higher rates of poverty - and most of those things are determined not just by the weather but by how the society as a whole deals with misfortune, crime, the distribution of resources and the accumulation of wealth.

In other words, how you order your society determines how well people in that society will do, and that means, yes, we can create exceptionally egalitarian societies, nations. In fact, we were in the process of building just such a nation when we were so rudely interrupted.

There does seem to be a real psychosis going on with the whole "American exceptionalism" thing. America certainly was exceptional, in that we had an opportunity to start from scratch and our founders grabbed their chance to do something daring and new. What made us special was a Constitution that put equality under the law first, that dismissed the idea that there should be a class of people for whom ordinary rules and law did not apply. Wealth was not meant to make one "noble", and our founders and our greatest statesmen agreed that no one should be able to accumulate enough wealth that they could exempt themselves from responsibility.

Conservatives always disagreed, but America usually managed to contain them enough that the dream of equality could be kept alive. There really was remarkable opportunity for upward mobility in the US for most of its history. While we still repeated many of the sins humanity has been riddled with always, we tried to be better, and as a nation, we tended to put our foot down when inequality became too blatant and we had its ugliness shoved in our faces.

Well, now we seem to have a leadership that absolutely glories in that ugliness. They have an entire theology based around the idea that the rich and powerful deserve to be rich and powerful and lord it over the rest of us. And they've rapidly been changing our laws, our structure, to eliminate all of those things that made America exceptional. Which is pretty ironic, when you think about it. It means we're not exceptional because of anything we actually do, but rather merely because, I dunno, we're on that particular piece of land. So we could have exactly the same laws and structures as Pakistan, or the Third Reich, or Stalinist Russia, and we'd still be "exceptional".

The rich and powerful don't like the idea of having any restraints on their self-indulgence, but at the same time they don't like having to feel guilty about being anti-social, murderous creeps. They don't like it when the rest of us spoil their fun. They call themselves "the grown-ups" but they're really tearing things up like doped-up rock stars in a hotel room - the environment, the Constitution, the safety net, the hope for further progress, the fragile peace we had been slowly working toward - it all goes out the window from the top floor.

And I find it just a little worrying that Kinsley seems to be hinting that this is just the way things are and there's nothing to be done about it.

13:29 BST

Think lovely thoughts

Crooks and Liars has a truly appalling video of Drudge on Insanity & Colmes where they're making fun of Bill Moyers and then they start talking about the urine-on-the-Koran story and blaming "the left" for hating the military.

TBogg has his own blame-the-left story up, predicting that when we have the Vietnam-style pull-out, it'll be all our fault because we didn't support the invasion and occupation hard enough. Atrios posted a related link, and in comments Hecate said:

And, you know, I just have this image of Mustafa, wild-eyed radical Moslem, sitting in his little bombed-out house, staring at his destroyed crops. Mustafa says to himself, "Well, I'd sure like to get the mofos who did this to me. I'll starve to death this winter. What do I have to live for? Should I become a suicide bomber? Hmmmm, let me go on the internet and see if the liberal blogs show an insufficient amount of support for George Bush. If they do, that's it, I'm strapping on the dynamite."
What always gets me about this idea that dissent from the left makes failure inevitable is that, since there were huge anti-invasion demonstrations going on all over the country, surely they knew we weren't going to support the war and they should have factored that into their evaluation of the prospects for victory. Knowing the US could not possibly win if the left was failing to support the invasion, they should have realized it was already doomed to failure and therefore they shouldn't do it. Stands to reason....

(I rather liked this one, too: "There was a difference between Richard Nixon and George W Bush. Bush had a plan for getting out of VietNam that worked.")

03:08 BST

Saturday, 04 June 2005

Send in the clowns

I'm not the only one who was disgusted with Friedman's latest column. Toast suggests that Friedman might change his tune if he had to spend 40 hours a week in a cubicle hustling for a paycheck (I'd put him on a factory floor, m'self), and David Yaseen reckons (quite rightly) that Americans would be envious of the European lifestyle if they saw what we had. And another thing: History tells us that the populace gets pretty ticked off once they get miserable enough, and that day is being brought closer all the time.

Doris Colmes at the Smirking Chimp: "Papers, please": I smell the long-forgotten rot of fascism: Those were the magic words of the time: "Papiere, Bitte." (Translation: "Papers, Please.") Hearing those words, even now, causes dull echoes of sounds akin to bodies hitting dirt, or bullets penetrating flesh to thud into my mind. Because, if those papers weren't correctly in order, or, if you were a Jew sneakily present in any place (including the grocery store) which displayed the usual "NO JEWS OR DOGS ALLOWED" sign, you were dead meat--literally. And, yes, of course I'm talking about my childhood as a little Jewish kid in Nazi Germany. Via Empire Burlesque.

MahaBarb joins us all in addressing Matt Yglesias: There are, certainly, some military actions that are hard to judge. I was conflicted about Somalia and Bosnia, for example. But Iraq had DISASTER written all over it, from the start. So, to those who couldn't see what I could see--what's wrong with you?

Barbara also directs us to this Juan Cole post which provides the answer to that boring little question about whether we think Iraq isn't better off now that we've removed Saddam: In other words, Bayan Jabr's figures suggest that in US-dominated Iraq, people are dying so far at about the same rate as they did under Baath rule. (If he is underestimating the civilian casualties, then it is possible that many more are dying per year than under Saddam!) In any case, Saddam's killing sprees were largely over with by the late 1990s, so the rate of death in Iraq now is enormously greater than it was in, say, 2001.

Digby is responding to a different point from Big Media Matt when he says: I suspect that what people really want from liberals is not patriotism, but chauvinism, one important facet of which is characterized in this context by the belief that your national culture and interests are superior to any other. (Our vaunted "exceptionalism" is not made up of a whole lot more than that simple definition.) And, yes, some liberals do not sign on to that, for good reason. Because it's bullshit. But don't forget to read What's Good For The Goose Is Only Good For The Goose, about how the administration has argued that it should not release evidence that it has violated the Geneva Conventions because it would violate the Geneva Conventions.

23:14 BST

It's news

In their continuing series of ways to keep America uneducated, the enemies of our country present The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program, which "pays anthropology students, whose names are not disclosed, up to $50,000 (£27,500) a year" as trainee spies. Anthro students are now going to have to claim to be studying engineering if they are studying abroad and wish not to be mistrusted. (via)

Swastikas Burned Into San Jose Lawns, TChris tells us at TalkLeft. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, both blacks and Jews were hit.

The Times reported last night that an American guard had urinated on a copy of the Koran at Guantanamo. Another version of this story says, "a guard's urine came through an air vent and splashed on a detainee and his Quran" - a likely story, eh? Reuters has, "American jailers at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects splashed a Koran with urine, kicked and stepped on the Islamic holy book and soaked it with water, the U.S. military said on Friday." And in the WaPo, "The U.S. military released new details yesterday about five confirmed cases of U.S. personnel mishandling the Koran at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, acknowledging that soldiers and interrogators kicked the Muslim holy book, got copies wet, stood on a Koran during an interrogation and inadvertently sprayed urine on another copy." Inadvertently. Rachel Maddow notes that at least three major news sources took note of the fact that this was Friday dump-news: NYT: The military released the findings of the investigation about 7:15 p.m., Eastern time, well after the broadcasts of the network television evening news programs. A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, denied that the military was trying to bury bad news late on a Friday night, a tactic often used by government agencies. "It was completed and we try not to hold these things after their reviews are completed," Mr. Whitman said in a telephone interview. Newsday: ...a news release containing the new details, given out after normal business hours Friday. AP: The findings, released after normal business hours Friday evening and after the major TV networks had aired their evening news programs...

Name-calling contest: Cheney called Kim Jong Il irresponsible, so Kim Jong Il called said Cheney is "the most cruel monster and bloodthirsty beast."

Kingsley Langenberg read a post at Body and Soul about "extraordinary rendition" and wrote to Barack Obama about it. He got a disappointing reply from the Senator and sent it to Jeanne, who makes the full exchange, available to us.

18:47 BST

Brave new world delayed

Someday I'm sure Thomas Friedman will explain why "progress" means working "a 35-hour day". Because according to Friedman, it's just plain backward-looking to want to work a 35-hour week. So, you see, the French just don't know what they're doing because they want to have a real life instead of giving it all up to compete with people who live in mud huts.* This is the lesson he has taken from the "No" votes on the European constitution:

Voters in "old Europe" - France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy - seem to be saying to their leaders: stop the world, we want to get off; while voters in India have been telling their leaders: stop the world and build us a stepstool, we want to get on. I feel sorry for Western European blue collar workers. A world of benefits they have known for 50 years is coming apart, and their governments don't seem to have a strategy for coping.
What the right-wingers and "globalizers" seem to be missing is that a unified Europe isn't really a necessity for making a country run. Yes, it's true that some of what has fueled the anti-EC vote is a mixture of xenophobia and out-and-out racism, but that's by no means all there is to it. In fact, a lot of people have yet to be convinced that they should share the corporate-driven urgency to jump on this bandwagon. Or, as Greg Palast put it:
But Thomas Friedman earns plaudits and Pulitzers for his column which today announces that East Indians are taking jobs the French are too lazy to do ["A Race to the Top," New York Times, June 3]. His fit of racial profiling was motivated by his pique over France's rejection of the globalizers' charter for corporate dominance known as the European Constitution.

It's not the implicit racism of Friedman's statement which is most irksome, it's his ghastly glee that "a world of benefits they [Western Europeans] have known for 50 years is coming apart," because the French and other Europeans "are trying to preserve a 35 hour work week in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day."

He forgot to add, "and where Indian families are ready to sell their children into sexual slavery to survive." Now, THERE'S a standard to reach for.

In his endless series of pukey paeans to globalization, Friedman promises that free trade, an end of regulation, slashing government welfare and privatization of industry will lead to an economic nirvana.

Yet, all he and his globalization clique can point to as the free market's accomplishment is the murderous competition between workers across borders to cut their wages for the chance to work in the new digital sweatshops.

Exactly. We keep being told we have to give up our comfortable little welfare-state provisions in order to join the cut-throat new world the corporate globalizers want to give us, but they never tell us what we're going to win for it other than an endless life of struggle for what we used to have.

See, people aren't stupid. They know there's no grass-roots push for this, so they've waited patiently for leaders to explain what we need it for. Leaders have used words like "modernize" and tried to exploit the fact that right-wing racists oppose it, but this increasingly sounds like a lot of smoke to obscure the fact that they know telling us what they want it for will tell us exactly why we don't want it.
*Update: Patrick Nielsen Hayden suggests in mail that "mud huts" may be inappropriate terminology, as the Indians Friedman is talking about don't in fact live in mud huts. This is true. However, whatever Friedman may think, it won't stop there. And if his wonderful program of globalization succeeds, all but the privileged few will be forced to a subsistence living, wherever they are.

16:18 BST

Frog & Peach

Comments to the FEC on proposed controls on Internet activism, by Duncan Black (Atrios), Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, and Matt Stoller.

George Ochenski in The Missoula Independent, American democracy: Death by deception: While President Bush blunders about the world invading countries, bombing civilians and forcing "regime change" in sovereign nations, our democracy here at home is dying. It is dying not because it is under attack from foreign forces, it is dying because the Bush government has changed America forever through its policies of secrecy, deception and lies. No democracy can survive when its own citizens no longer trust what their government tells them-tragically, that time has come for our nation.

How Homeland Security is keeping you safe.

Hunter at Daily Kos: One of the things that pushes every button I have is to have the hawks itching for this war, celebrating this war, practically dancing in the streets at this war suddenly discover -- like it's a freakin' revelation from The Lord God On High -- that this-or-that incredibly offensive or illegal aspect of it that they previously bear-hugged in the name of freedom is, oopsie, causing a whole hell of a lot of damage to the United States by leaving us in worse danger, in a larger global war, and generally with far more enemies than ever before. Ya think?

Judge Gives Offenders Option of Church: A Kentucky judge has been offering some drug and alcohol offenders the option of attending worship services instead of going to jail or rehab _ a practice some say violates the separation of church and state.

Annoy fundies: give them what they want


13:42 BST

Some more links

Scoobie Davis always enjoys a good nutcase, and Joseph Farah meets the demand.

Billmon says what I've been thinking. At a time when we've had a good half-dozen Deep Throats and their stories played in the media, nothing is happening, because we need something else as well, but: That's a much taller order than asking the Gods to send us another Deep Throat -- or even a Luke Skywalker. It's also not an easy thing for liberals, with their old-fashioned faith in democracy, to face: That the Evil Emperor might have a majority (a narrow one, but still a majority) on his side. But a truth isn't any less true for being politically unpalatable.

The Popcorn Fork, via Biomes Blog, which also alerts me that Crooks and Liars have a clip from Left of the Dial - with a segment that includes Randi Rhodes' famous shouting match with Ralph Nader.

Kash at Angry Bear examines the question: Is the Labor Market Strong or Weak?

Apocalypse, Now - But First, A Word From Our Sponsor.

Transcript of Larry King Live with Dan Rather.

Psycho Bondage Bunnies and Freakshow in my pocket, both via Elayne Riggs.

00:04 BST

Friday, 03 June 2005

A hard place

Atrios is saying that, "Iraq is going to continue to be a big problem for this country, and that is something the Democrats had better figure out how to confront very quickly." I'm not sure what he means. Iraq is turning into Vietnam, and it's probably too late for a Marshall Plan. With the right-wing controlling broadcast media, I don't know how the Democrats can create any kind of a discourse on the subject, and talking about a pull-out will just be cast in the media as some sort of cowardice. What do we do?

Meanwhile, the NYT says one reason for poor recruitment figures for the armed services is that parents are not encouraging their kids to go out and get killed for nothing on behalf of an administration that really doesn't give a damn whether they live or die. I've been feeling a draft, and Jeralyn is feeling it, too. And now it looks like even my niece is going to have to register. Gawd.

17:20 BST

News and views

Will Bunch noticed something truly significant in all the Deep Throat revelations: "Deep Throat's" last big scoop -- Richard Nixon's suspicious handling of the George Wallace shooting. I believe I've mentioned before that I considered the shooting of George Wallace to be what saved Nixon's campaign.

The Rude Pundit bravely watched Larry King two nights in a row, having already suffered through the earlier appearance of the Devil Himself. Hot news: If you're in New York in August, you could actually see the Rude One Live at the NY Fringe. The All Spin Zone says: "Think 'Bill Hicks'."

The Mahablog has addressed the Cabbage problem: Of course, in Bobo's World, whenever a tree falls in the forest it discredits large swaths of American liberalism, whether anyone hears it or not. So I am less concerned about what an animated cabbage thinks of American liberalism than I am about what the rejection of the EU constitution actually signifies. (I'm not sure anyone has been clear on what it really signifies. To me, it signifies that people are ticked off when their leaders just sit down and make huge decisions without any real dialog with the electorate.)

Was it a rogue cop or something worse? Thomas Nephew wrote a letter to the Chief of Police to find out why there was Suppression of protest at Ehrlich veto ceremony.

Hugo says you can get Comic Book Legal Defense Fund T-shirts to show your support. In other T-shirt news, I recommend wearing this one every chance you get. Hell, I even want one, even though it's white.

Seelye admitted that Ken Starr was illegally leaking during the Whitewater investigation in her article yesterday about Deep Throat - but it disappeared from the online version. (Scan of print version.)

If you enjoyed the pix from South Knox Bubba's Pacific Coast road trip (via), you should dig these, too.

12:30 BST

Interesting reads

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Takes Action in GA Case: Counsel for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have submitted four motions to dismiss the charges against retailer Gordon Lee, owner of Legends in Rome, GA. Last February, the Fund initiated Lee's defense against charges resulting from accidentally distributing Alternative Comics #2, a Free Comic Book Day book from 2004, to a minor. The anthology includes the story "The Salon" by Nick Bertozzi, which contains a segment depicting Picasso in the nude. The Fund has already spent in excess of $20,000 defending this case.

Faithful Progressive on Death By a Thousand Cuts: Framing the Estate Tax Debate: Though FP admires George Lakoff, we're not completely sold on him as the next big Democratic consultant guru.

Greg Palast, Deep Throat Cover Blown, Washington Post Still Sucks: Think about it. It's been 33 years since cub reporters Woodward and Bernstein pulled down the pants of the Nixon operation and exposed its tie-in to the Watergate burglary. That marks a third of a century since the Washington Post has broken a major investigative story. I got a hint why there's been such a dry spell after I met Mark Hosenball, investigative reporter for the Washington Post's magazine, Newsweek.

War Made Easy - Norman Solomon's new book examines "perception management" to lead us to war.

Mel Seesholtz: 'Originalists, federalism, and Scott J. Bloch': The battle over Bush's judicial nominees, Bill Frist's threatened "nuclear option" and the eleventh hour "bipartisan compromise" have occupied the news recently, and with good reason. Many of the Bush nominees - including those now headed for lifetime seats on the federal bench - are "originalists."

Monkey Business by Matt Taibbi: Everybody always talks about religious conservatives, but nobody ever does anything about them.

William S. Lind, Wreck it and run: Among the many unhappy developments in American industry in recent decades has been the advent of "wreck it and run" management. A small coterie of senior managers takes over a company and makes a brilliant show of short-term profits while actually driving the business into the ground. They bail out just before it crashes, cashing in their stock options as they go, and leave the employees, ordinary stockholders and customers holding an empty bag. It is increasingly clear that under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. armed forces have also been taken over by "wreck it and run" management. When Rumsfeld leaves office, what will his successor inherit?

02:14 BST

Thursday, 02 June 2005

Liberal media

You may remember this David Horsey cartoon I linked the other day. A lot of Seattle Post-Intelligencer readers seem to have missed the point. Horsey's response is spot on:

Horsey responded: "I am not making this stuff up. The mainstream press is not making this stuff up. It is real and is of great concern to our military. I should think it would be of concern to anyone who cares about the image of America in the world. It is unfathomable to me that folks who claim to believe in American values get upset about a poorly sourced item in Newsweek or a cartoon that is almost a literal interpretation of the facts, yet seem to be unconcerned about torture being perpetrated in their name."

The cartoonist added that "a true patriot is one who loves his country enough to call to account those who shame the flag by despicable actions that in no way reflect the guiding principles of this republic. This is not a liberal idea, a radical idea, or a treasonous idea. It is, in fact, a rather traditional, all-American idea. Making excuses for torture is common practice in banana republics and authoritarian regimes, but it is alien and antithetical to our constitutional democracy."

Via Peevish, where you can see more things that hurt America.

Crooks and Liars looks forward to The Al Sharpton & Rush Limbaugh Show. Fortunately, they also let us enjoy Jon Stewart doing Deep Throat. Although that kicker at the end kinda stings.

Judd Legum at Think Progress has more on that creep Cox who is the likely nominee to head the SEC.

Dreams: The Terry Gilliam Fanzine (via)

16:46 BST

Cabbage logic

The conservative movement is fighting to eliminate all the positive changes of at least the last 60 years, and their argument is that we need change. They've hijacked the language of progress in order to support their program of regress. And this morning we have an example of this from David Brooks, who says:

Western Europeans seem to be suffering a crisis of confidence. Election results, whether in North Rhine-Westphalia or across France and the Netherlands, reveal electorates who have lost faith in their leaders, who are anxious about declining quality of life, who feel extraordinarily vulnerable to foreign competition - from the Chinese, the Americans, the Turks, even the Polish plumbers.

Anybody who has lived in Europe knows how delicious European life can be. But it is not the absolute standard of living that determines a people's morale, but the momentum. It is happier to live in a poor country that is moving forward - where expectations are high - than it is to live in an affluent country that is looking back.

The wingers have been having fun all week talking about the vote for the European constitution that failed in France and seems to be going nowhere whenever it comes up for referendum. They have different explanations (and different reasons) for this, but I think it's just that they desperately need to believe that Europe is a failure, and they'll take any "evidence" of this that they can get.

I'm sure it is better for David Brooks to be living in a country where a lot of people who are not op-ed columnists for The New York Times are seeing their futures being frittered away by a parasitic leadership that thinks only the rich have a right to accumulate wealth. But I doubt you'd find many people here in Welfare-state-land who'd trade their peaceful existence for the "forward momentum" of Iraq. And, frankly, fewer and fewer Europeans are looking at America as the land of opportunity these days, either.

BenP at MyDD has written a letter to the NYT to take issue with the disingenuous Mr. Brooks in more detail. But I'll tell you for free that it's actually pretty nice living in a country where what Americans think of as "poverty" doesn't really exist.

13:44 BST

Scarier than you think

The trouble with waking up in time for Rachel Maddow's show is that I actually have to think about this stuff before I've had time to erect my emotional barricades. Stuff like this:

The complete elimination of laws that affect corporate pirates proceeds apace, but when you can't change the law, you just get rid of the enforcement.

Donaldson Announces Resignation as S.E.C. Chairman:

William H. Donaldson, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, abruptly announced his resignation today, following repeated criticism from the two other Republican members of the agency and from some business groups and administration officials that his enforcement and policy decisions had been too aggressive.

His decision gives the White House a major opportunity to sharply alter the direction of the agency and cede controlling power to the deregulatory-minded two remaining Republicans on the five-person commission.

In so doing, the agency could become more responsive to some of the administration's most important supporters in the business community, including the Business Roundtable, an organization of chief executives from the nation's largest companies, and the United States Chamber of Commerce. They have complained that the agency, blowing with the political winds of the times, overreacted to the wave of corporate frauds by imposing rules that have been more burdensome than beneficial.

At a time of corporate fraud and abuse unprecedented in my lifetime, that was no overreaction. Despite being a Republican and a friend of the Bush family, Donaldson has actually been trying to do his job. Obviously, this must be stopped. But not everyone is happy that he's leaving.
But they have also been opposed by investor groups such as the Council of Institutional Investors and the Consumer Federation of America, which often found an unusual ally in Mr. Donaldson and which have raised concerns about a retrenchment at the agency.
The SEC was a sensible reaction to the Great Depression. It worked. The Republicans haven't liked that, and have been gradually stripping the SEC rules for the last twenty years. Bush is expected to appoint Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) to replace Donaldson. Cox is definitely not expected to enforce strict rules on business.

Meanwhile, the permanent campaign is in full swing, of course. Rachel's weblog says:

We're sharpening our sticks of metaphor for today's particularly fatuous Underbelly. Patriot Pastors are religious leaders willing to defy law, tradition, good will and God in order to preach from the pulpit. Right Wingers are those willing to take them up on the offer. Ohio Restoration Project is how they are doing it. In the Great-Rewriting-of-2004, an election lost on 9/11 became an election lost on morality, so don't think this is a "religion story." It's not. It's a political story, one about organization and building communities of strict conservatives. It's about coddling your base in hushed tones. It's about taking a swing state and making sure 3 years out you are already working on 2008.
Rounding out our A1, a woman who thinks women should not have been granted suffrage is running for Secretary of State in Kansas... You know, so she can be in charge of elections.
Kay O'Connor, of course, thinks women should stay home and take care of their families. I bet you can guess what party she'll be working for.

In other news, Amnesty responds to the attack on them from the Bushistas and notes the irony of having the same Saddam apologists who dismissed their complaints about Iraq 20 years ago now dismissing their complaints about Iraq and Gitmo.

Meanwhile, we continue to win in Iraq, with three suicide bombers taking 17 lives so far today. I need more coffee.

11:20 BST

Good stuff

How Bush spreads freedom in South America - no, really.

Grocers to Face Union Busting Antitrust Suit - You remember that whole grocery strike thing in California where the big grocers ganged up to screw the employees? Well, they were bad.

Standing tall in the face of Phelps

Joe Vecchio has posted a transcript of Thom Hartmann's interview with George Galloway.

Sort of the 800 pound gorilla in the room, and no redemption for Chuck Colson.

After this, the 10 Most Harmful TV Shows of all time.

Photo Matt goes to Florence.

Going Jesus: The Passion of the Tchotchke (featuring The Last Supper with mermaids). Thanks to Val (of Nthposition).

Wood and stones

Dissolving the boundaries (via Epicycle)

01:40 BST

Wednesday, 01 June 2005

Things to learn

Right, the comments seem to work, and all thanks to the wonderful Steve Bates of the wonderful Yellow Doggerel Democrat. Like me, Steve hand-codes his own page (with TextPad) rather than using blogging software, but he's a lot better at it than I am.

I've talked before about how we are hurting ourselves in competitive terms by making America a difficult place to come to from other countries. We've also done a number of things to make ourselves less than admirable in the eyes of the world. There are some big ones Friedman doesn't mention in this article, but I can't really disagree with him - for a change.

Alt Hippo goes back to Sy Hersh and figures out why the White House reacted so strongly to Joe Wilson's article, What I Didn't Find in Africa.

And GreatScat! asks the wingnuts to explain this.

And Ahistoricality learns that the government's own argument in a desertion case was that the war was illegal. And the judge agreed.

Ralph Nader and Kevin Zeese on The 'I' Word: Impeachment: The impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, should be part of mainstream political discourse. (Via Scrutiny Hooligans.)

The horror, the horror.... (Via Cold Ground.)

20:14 BST

Play Captions with...


Bernstein: "Hey, Bob, check it out: the Ouija Board says that thirty years from now, you'll write a hacktackular leg-humping fluff-piece of a book on a President so bad he makes Nixon look like a goddamn saint."

Woodward: "No way. If I ever sell out like that, just shoot me and put me out of my misery."

17:48 BST

Assorted links

Okay, I'm experimenting with comments. Say hi so we can see if it works.

I'm not sure I trust anything called Third Way, but Garance Franke-Ruta says they've released a report that says the Democrats' perception of themselves as the party of the middle-class is "self-deception".

A Good Ride Spoiled - by having to hear Bush on the radio.

Chris Floyd on Cheney's lies.

Steve Soto has a lot of questions about what is being hidden from us in the Bolton investigation. Also, Democracy is on the march in Iraq. Or maybe not.

Think Progress points out that Clarence Thomas' opinion in the case of prisoners who want to practice religions which are not "mainstream" may seem like a good thing on the surface, until you read it and learn that it has some pretty radical stuff in it that would overturn the New Deal and a lot of what we think of as "progress".

Gary Farber notes some points from Our Leader's public statements that no one else seems to be picking up.

The Star Tribune addressed the Downing Street Memo in its Memorial Day editorial.

16:39 BST

Sight & sound

More here (via)

Take Back the Media Radio Show #44 is up!

The Unauthorized Biography Of Dick Cheney

Crooks and Liars: Another word added to Bush's dictionary.

David Horsey on Newsweek

Stuckism seems to have tripped Tripod's urge to censor....
03:45 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, June 2005

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