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Archive for March 2005

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Thursday, 31 March 2005

Money

Go read this post at Eschaton explaining why we need to keep pointing out that the Republicans' theories about taxes really don't work.
17:36 BST


Blogissimo

Living Wills: One from An Age Like This, and a bitterly smart one from Robert Friedman at The St. Petersburg Times (via).

They're pretty sure they have now identified the plane used to kidnap Maher Arar so he could be taken to Syria and tortured for no good reason. Jeanne D'Arc has a few things to say about this subject.

MadKane gives us the Ode To DeLay.

Fred Clark examines the Colorado decision on what the Bible has to do with a death penalty decision.

Jean-Paul at Everythingisruined thinks the Democrats have frightened the GOP by finally showing a spine. Keep up the good work!

Faithful Progressive has come back from holiday with Lessons from the Deep South: Civil Rights History Inspires, Challenges.

Kash at Angry Bear bravely stakes out a position of indecision on how hard the economy will hit us.

That Colored Fella demands reparations for one-quarter of himself (although we still haven't figured out which quarter, since "Jewish" does not equal "Caucasian"). I like his list of demands, though. (Via BeatBushBlog.)

A New York Times article about a blog post that's actually about something is about TNH and the Flatiron Building. And here is the blog post about having an article about it in the NYT.
15:54 BST


A brief political junky's tour

I see Bush is making his own reality again:

President Bush insisted Wednesday that public opinion is leaning his way on his proposal for a Social Security overhaul and hinted at political problems for lawmakers who oppose him.
I think this is supposed to be the new talking point - just keep saying everyone agrees with him, even though they don't. After a while, Tim Russert will start saying it, too. Of course, it's always possible that he actually believes it.

One of the most talked about articles in the blogosphere is an NYT op-ed by former Republican Senator and current Reverend John Danforth in which he decries the takeover of his party by religious extremists: The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement. I say: What took him so long? Billmon has an excellent take on this story.

Susie Bright explains Jeff Gannon.

Quotes from the American Taliban.

Lying Action Figure Doll
04:12 BST


A word from the wise

Matthew Yglesias: Assuming that liberals don't just want to build an infrastructure so that Democrats can govern in corrupt, power-for-power's-sake, GOP style there are real limits to how much you want to imitate their methods. The past 30 years of right-wing infrastructure have served the financial interests of their financiers very, very, very well but they've achieved remarkably little in terms of advancing core ideological principles.

Bill Scher: Dems need to be prepared for both scenarios. They need to keep the heat on DeLay, with an eye towards making him the focus on 2006. But they also need to realize that if their political pressure helps end DeLay's career early, it will not be a time for champagne popping. It will be a time to find a way to keep the pressure on, keep the GOP on the defensive, and continue making the case to the '06 voters why a Dem Congress is so necessary.

And, via LiberalOasis, Scott Ritter: The NeoCons believe in what they think is a noble truth, power of the few, the select few. These are godless people who want power, nothing more. They do not have a country or an allegiance, they have an agenda. These people might hold American passports, but they are not Americans because they do not believe in the Constitution. They believe in the power of the few, not a government for or by the people. They are a few and their agenda is global.

Ice cream wisdom: Ben Cohen explains the Ten billion dollar Oreo.
01:58 BST


Wednesday, 30 March 2005

The secret "MSM" blogger

If you ever doubted that the mainstream media is just the slow version of the right-wing media, you could read Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post and see yesterday's right-wing talking points today. Take, for example, Tuesday's SHOCK HORROR story from Howie, College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds:

College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.

As we already know, this has been a principal focus of assault from the right for some time now, the endless whine of people who can't cut it in academe and claim it's because of liberal bias rather than the low-grade quality of right-wing thought.

These are people who claim to have "new ideas" and then present us with the novel goal of getting rid of Social Security, which as you know is something no society has ever before gone without. Another bright idea is allowing churches to be responsible for charity, because no one's ever tried that, either. Is it any surprise that these aren't the leading lights of history departments?

And then there are the folks who think America can continue to compete internationally even though it doesn't make anything and outsources both jobs and expertise to other countries. People who believed Bush when he said he could give the treasury away to the rich without it costing us anything. They are people who don't think there's anything wrong with giving no-bid contracts to Dick Cheney's (nominally ex-) employer that require no standards to be met and apparently no accounting for where the money goes. Would you put them in charge of your economics department? They can't even do simple arithmetic, so forget about math.

Howard Kurtz apparently thinks this is surprising. He doesn't belong on a university's faculty, either.

And today we have Doubts Raised On Schiavo Memo:

Bloggers are swarming around a new target: the Terri Schiavo "talking points."

Fresh from declaring victory over CBS News and its discredited National Guard memos about President Bush, some of the same bloggers are raising questions about a strategy memo, first reported by ABC News and The Washington Post, that cast the Schiavo right-to-die case as a partisan opportunity for Republicans to stick it to Democrats.

"Fake but Accurate Again?" says the Weekly Standard headline on an article by John Hinderaker, an attorney and conservative blogger who had challenged the CBS documents.

This is Hindraker's job, apparently - when the news is compromising for Republicans, come up with a theory that it's fake. But there's not even the vague shred of a reason to doubt the provenance of the RNC talking points that not only sound exactly like all other RNC talking points but, in fact, have been the obvious playbook from which the RNC has actually been working.

I was thinking that in honor of the occasion, I would hypothesize that a lot of important Republicans were liars and thieves, and then propose that all the left-blogosphere should carry these talking points and try to get them into the media as if they were documented facts. Only then I remembered that it is documented fact that they are liars and thieves, and that hasn't made any difference. You have to be a right-wing liar to get taken seriously by Howie Kurtz.
21:41 BST


"I'm not Secret Service, I just play one at taxpayer-funded events."

From Buzzflash:

Secret Service Now Investigating Bush Black List

Pattern of Excluding Local Residents from Public Events Emerging (Again)

Washington, DC - This morning, the Associated Press is reporting that the director of the Secret Service office in Denver is investigating claims that local residents were blacklisted from an public appearance by the President in Colorado last week. To access the AP report, click below:

AP REPORT

That story says:
DENVER (AP) -- The Secret Service says it is investigating the claims of three people who claim they were removed from President Bush's town hall meeting on Social Security last week after being singled out because of a bumper sticker on their car.

The three said they had obtained tickets through the office of Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo., had passed through security and were preparing to take their seats when they were approached by what they thought was a Secret Service agent who asked them to leave.

One woman, Karen Bauer, 38, a marketing coordinator from Denver, said Monday the agent put his hand on her elbow and steered her away from her seat and toward an exit.

"The Secret Service had nothing to do with that," said Lon Garner, special agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Denver. "We are very sensitive to the First Amendment and general assembly rights as protected by the Constitution."

So is this just campaignistration operatives trying to con the public into thinking they are Secret Service? Could people demand identification? Is anyone willing to try it and find out?

And via Buzzflash, Karen Bauer, Leslie Weise, and Alexander Young have provided Daily Kos with a first-person account of their expulsion from the event and their interview Monday with the Secret Service, who explained:

The Secret Service revealed that we were "ID'ed" when local Republican staffers saw a bumper sticker on the car we drove which said "No More Blood For Oil." Evidently, the free speech expressed on one bumper sticker is cause enough to eject three citizens from a presidential event. (Similarly, someone was ejected from Bush's Social Security privatization event in Arizona the same day simply for wearing a Democratic t-shirt.)

The Secret Service also revealed that ticket distribution and staffing of the Social Security event was run by the local Republican Party. They wanted us to be clear that it was a Republican staffer - not the Secret Service - who kicked us out of the presidential event. But this revealed something else that should be startling to all Americans.

After allowing taxpayers to finance his privatization events (let's call them what they really are after all,) and after using the White House communications apparatus to set them up, Bush is privatizing the ticket distribution and security staffing at his events to the Republican Party. The losers are not just taxpayers, but anyone who values the First Amendment. Under the banner of a "private event" the Republican Party is excluding citizens from seeing their president because of the lone sin of expressing the wrong idea on a bumper sticker or t-shirt. The question for Americans is - will we allow our freedom to be privatized?

Of course, we already knew this was going on, but it's interesting that the Secret Service seems to be distancing itself from this business.
01:15 BST

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Their nuts are nuttier

Atrios calls our attention to John Gorenfeld's latest post on the teachings of Sun Myung Moon, which quotes the man calling for the end of democracy:

The United States is proud of its democratic system, which carries the idea of brotherhood. She has to adopt the ideas of Parents and Godism. We have to discard relationships that resulted from the Fall.

It is time to have a new organization in a new era; then we can start with a strong mind. All of us have to have positive, active minds. As was done in Korea, you have to provide Divine Principle education to senators, congressmen, high national officials and those on the local level.

Sun Myung Moon, who regards himself as the Messiah, is the publisher of the right-wing Washington Times and has a tremendous amount of access to the leaders of our government. He wants us to abandon our form of government and worship him instead.

I see the WT quoted with approval in right-wing weblogs with some frequency. That'd be the same people who want us to repudiate Michael Moore for making movies they don't like.
22:37 BST


Follow the dirty money

Turns out Max Blumenthal has been looking at the issue of the right-wing money behind the Schindler's all along. Here's an interesting note:

It's not much of a stretch to say that the Schiavo charade is all about right-wing money, along with the Christian right elite's need to keep its ever-credulous flock of downwardly mobile meshuganehs out in the streets. Bill Berkowitz has dredged up this revealing excerpt of a 2003 interview Michael Schiavo did with Larry King in 2003, in which he describes how Schiavo's dad offered him $700,000 to walk away from his wife:
King: They have that kind of money?

Schiavo: They get money from the right-wing activists. The right wing -- the right-to-life groups.

King: The right-to-life group was willing to pay you $700,000 to walk away?

Schiavo: Right.

Berkowitz also points out that much of the money the Schindlers receive comes from secular conservative foundations that strategically coordinate their giving through the Philanthropy Roundtable.
Other dogs in this fight include people who are tied closely to defenders of people who kill abortion doctors, of course:
Then there's Charles Rice, the Notre Dame professor and Catholic right activist who has attempted to justify the killing of abortion doctors. He wrote this in 1994:
[...]
(I always think of Rice when I hear wingers call for Ward Churchhill's head. Not only is Rice a tenured professor, he's influencing events, while Chuchhill is and has always been a minor leftist icon.)
And now Ralph Nader has joined in. (Anyone still want to tell me this guy should ever be president?)
16:53 BST

Bits of stuff

Bra of the week: The Rakuten Eagles Bra (Thanks to BEB for the tip.)

Cursor: Quoting a former CPA adviser who says the Bush administration has turned the Iraq occupation into a "free-fraud zone" by failing to join a whistleblower suit against Custer Battles, Newsweek reports that the administration argues that the CPA "was a multinational institution, not an arm of the U.S. government. So the U.S. government was not technically defrauded."

Must Joe Go? - a teaser at The American Prospect for Matthew Yglesias' article on the search for a candidate to beat Lieberman in the primary.

Jeralyn was on TV and Political Teen posted a video.

Lego Batman movie via The Biomes Blog.
13:52 BST


News or something like it

In The New York Times, Bob Herbert understands that no one is accountable: These atrocities have been carried out in an atmosphere in which administration officials have routinely behaved as though they were above the law, and thus accountable to no one. People have been rounded up, stripped, shackled, beaten, incarcerated and in some cases killed, without being offered even the semblance of due process. No charges. No lawyers. No appeals.

'Whose Bible Is It?': God Speaks; Man Translates, and man translates in ways that are most convenient for whatever it is he wants to say. And, of course, it's been going on for a very long time.

A letter from The Rev. Galen Guengerich, Co-Minister of All Souls Unitarian Church, New York: Readers of Deborah Solomon's questions for USA Next's Charlie Jarvis (March 13) doubtless assumed that Jarvis was speaking in jest when he said that if his sons voted Democratic, he would "beat them with a rubber hose." Perhaps not. Jarvis's former employer, the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, still advocates corporal punishment, albeit using a switch or a paddle rather than a rubber hose. Even so, members of AARP, like thoughtful people everywhere, should watch their backs.

More NYT links for stories I don't feel like writing about:
Sex in theater
Bill Cosby's Not Funny
Art censorship in the USSR Free Russia
If we can't convict Jackson legally, we'll do it some other way.
More Shiavo cult politics
01:19 BST


More bloggy goodness

Attaturk: There are some bloggers that do reporting. Josh Marshall does some, David Neiwert, there is some reporting that goes on at a place like Daily Kos. But to the extent I care about the latest reporter to whine about how bloggers are not reporters, my response is "well d'uh". To a large extent anymore, neither is much of the media.

Trish Wilson on fathers' rights liars.

Rorschach reports that the DOD is considering disallowing confessions obtained by torture. Because we are good, I guess.

You'd think the press would be at least as interested in George Bush's missing National Guard documents as they were in Hillary Clinton's missing file folder.

Mac Thomason says: The fanatics supporting a (much less impressive than Alabama's) Ten Commandments monument in northeast Georgia are selling posters and road signs to pay for the defense. Maybe St. Roy can sell some to pay the half million dollars Alabama is on the hook for from his fiasco.

More buyer's remorse from a Bush voter: It's a combination of things, and most of it stems from the fact that I was a one issue voter in 2004. And now, the issues I ignored in order to give my support to the war on terror are coming back to haunt me. Via Thomas Nephew.
00:06 BST


Monday, 28 March 2005

You gotta see this
It was a different time, y'understand.
Norbizness said he laughed his ass off watching this, and so did I: The Old Negro Space Program.
The uniforms were stitched by hand. The rockets cobbled together from NASAs discards.
The shocking story of America's 240 blackstronauts.
18:13 BST

Blog running

Natasha at Pacific Views has been busy, writing A Canticle for Lieberman (pt 1) and providing a number of link-rich posts recommending a number of blog posts and a short documentary on the youth of Iran that's an entry in Al Gore's INdTV contest. (I also thought Campaign Ad was amusing.) Also One-Way Planet in Mother Jones.

Dave's Big Beef links to a Guardian story that says Robert Schindler, Terri Shiavo's dad, pulled the plug on his own mom. The more I see of this story, the more I am sure that wealthy right-wing fruitcakes have been giving the Schindler's a lot of money to keep this thing going. (And No More Mister Nice Blog has the stuff on how the politicizing memo about this is being painted by right-wingers as a forgery.)

Suburban Guerrilla points out that the author of one of the funniest books I ever read (the biographical part, anyway), Be Here Now, is about to get kicked out of his residence. I had been unaware that he'd had his mobility impaired by stroke, although he is still speaking in public. Baba Ram Das needs you. Also from Susie, fear in the civil service, the destruction of Babylon, and an excellent point from TBogg about pharmacists refusing to give women birth control - but not refusing to sell condoms to men. Hmmm....

Easter Reflections on Tom Delay (via)

Howard Dean is blessed.
17:10 BST


This is news

As you know, I'm too grossed out about the Terri Shiavo thing to write about it, but I'm fascinated by the effect it's having on people who are beginning to get an inkling at last that the Republican Party has been hijacked by dangerous people whose mission isn't really in sync with them. Toldja, guys.

And Kevin Drum says the Bush campaignistration is now pretending that Bush didn't even want to sign the Shiavo bill after all. Words fail me.

Not Clinton, not Kennedy, not Profumo - nobody's got anything on the Wolfowitz sex scandal. But is it getting banner headlines? Is it a top story on the TV news? On the cable channels? ANYWHERE? C'mon, this would've been the scoop of a lifetime not that many years ago: Extraordinarily, they claim she played a key role in pushing the 61-year-old Pentagon official into the Iraq War. And the row comes amid claims that Wolfowitz's wife Clare once warned George Bush of the threat to national security any infidelity by her husband could cause. Yes, that's right, his foreign girlfriend seduced him into starting an insane, illegal invasion that has humiliated America before the world.

Even the Torygraph is admitting that the invasion was illegal: Indeed, according to Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the deputy head of the Foreign Office legal department who resigned over the issue of the war, practically all the Government's lawyers believed it would be illegal to invade Iraq without a second UN Security Council resolution explicitly authorising that step. The Prime Minister did everything he could to achieve a second resolution. He failed so comprehensively that the issue was never even put to a Security Council vote.
05:11 BST


Sunday, 27 March 2005

Bloggy goodness

Today's Sunday Sermon from An Age Like This.

And at Mapleberry Blog, the intersection between Puritanism and the US Constitution (or the lack thereof).

And speaking of the substance of governments, you really need to read "Then I Realized that Youth Was No Excuse" and Deadwood to Downfall by Jim Henley, which bring it all home.

Steve Smith was busy last week, but he more than makes up for it in this little post summing up what happened in his absence.

Orc explains why I'm all wet about the gun thing: The second amendment doesn't matter. I wonder why I forgot this, since I've said it all along - when the government comes after you, your guns aren't going to protect you - anymore than they protected the Jews in Germany. If you look around the world, you notice that in most dictatorships, people do have guns, and it doesn't help one bit.

The Nameless Dread
22:16 BST


Newspaper stuff

Is this the ultimate in terminology? A meeting Thursday, hosted by new State Department "democracy czar" Elizabeth Cheney, brought together senior administration officials from Vice President Cheney's office, the National Security Council and the Pentagon and about a dozen prominent Syrian Americans, including political activists, community leaders, academics and an opposition group, a senior State Department official said.

The other day Adam Nagourney wrote a stupid article called, "In a Polarizing Case, Jeb Bush Cements His Political Stature" that should prove once and for all that both he and whoever writes the headlines for NYT articles just can't make themselves tell it like it is where these creeps are concerned. But please, let James Wolcott give you the real skinny - Puppy Licks Master's Face: "Still, several Republicans said that while Mr. Bush might be ignoring any political calculations in a case that has etched grief on his face, it..." Stop right there. Gander at the footage of Jeb Bush's recent press conferences and the more casual meeting with reporters over the Schiavo case, and I defy you to find ANYthing "etched" on his smooth, round face, much less grief.

Every few months the NYT likes to drop a hint that Michael Moore was right about those Saudis flying when the rest of us couldn't.

In The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, It's not your father's America any more: We could probably endure all of this if it were only another of the outbursts of cultural passion that Americans periodically undergo in an attempt to assert why we think we're God's gift to the civilized world. The problem is that the people currently in political power in the United States and the people who support them really think we are -- and that's why this country is becoming more unrecognizable with each passing day.
19:05 BST


On the web

At Editor & Publisher, Fox News 'Blocker' For Sale--A 'NY Times' Filter Next?: It's not that Sam Kimery objects to the views expressed on Fox News. The creator of the "Fox Blocker" contends the channel is not news at all.

Jonathan Dresner with some interesting science news and changes his mind again on handguns.

Moving Ideas has their own weblog now, Ideaopolis, where Diane Greenhalgh has an item on whether gender norms create killers.

David Corn on a matter that should receive more media coverage, The Missing WMD Report: It seems that Pat Roberts, the Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, wants to break the promise he made last year to investigate whether the Bush administration misrepresented the prewar intelligence on WMDs. What a surprise. Before the November election, Roberts said this was an important subject warranting examination but that his committee could not mount an inquiry until early 2005. How politically convenient. Now he wants to forget all about it. (Note the silence of the Democratic leadership, again.)

Lord of the Peeps: The Fellowship of the Peep, via The Biomes Blog.
17:45 BST


Twofers

From the LAT this week:

The ominous sound of Cheneymania, and I hope this term is just as precise as "Joementum" before it.

DeLay's Own Tragic Crossroads: The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family members keeping vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman - Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Yeah, that's right, it was all different when it was his family.

And at New Donkey:

The contemplation of Evil: The Good Friday Pogrom is, so far as I know, a thing of the past, but at a time when blind self-righteousness, fear and hatred of The Other (whether it's gays and lesbians, Muslims, or "pagan" liberals), and highly selective attention to Jesus' teachings are again on the rise here among Christians in America, it's probably a good time to remember the whole point of the Passion story, in which Jesus' own disciples denied and betrayed Him.

A dip into the women question: Op-ed columns in all but the largest circulation newspapers have often served as the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow for that hearty, underpaid tribe of political reporters. (I learned this personally when I tried to make a lateral transfer from government policy work into editorial writing, and was informed that giving me a job would screw up the entire career ladder). Thus, today's columnists are yesterday's ink-stained wretches, which means that the Editorial side of the business should eventually catch up with the growing gender balance of the News side. So, where, exactly, does David Brooks fit in all this?
16:30 BST


Saturday, 26 March 2005

Food for thought

Gail Davis: Betrayal makes me angry, as you can see. Either McCain has betrayed himself as well as the state he represents or he has been a scoundrel his whole career, pretending to have principles. Which is it McCain. Is this what you have been all along or have you been taken over by the BushBorg? Are principles irrelevant to you now? Is truth no longer relevant to you either? Was it ever? You can no longer be viewed as a principled and rational conservative. You are now a full member of the radical Republican Party bent on bankrupting the United States while transferring all wealth into the hands of a few. A few useless un-borg-like votes here and there wont undo your betrayal.

Majikthise answers for the left, and does a good job, too: There is a slippery slope here, but it's not the slope from refusing medical treatment to the wholesale elimination of the lame. It's the slope that starts with "erring on the side of life" and slips towards state oversight of biological functions (especially the reproductive ones).

Here's another blog that I don't think I've seen before, Where HipHop and Libertarianism Meet, on smoking bans and problems with corporate radio.

Mike Presky: For this is, in the final analysis, basically part of an attempt by the world's white people to maintain their dominance over the rest of the people. The Europeans may object, but when it comes down to it, they're just as responsible. They certainly don't ever seem to do anything concrete to oppose it. Words don't count.
20:58 GMT


Access denied

The Left Coaster has a good response to the Joe Hagan piece cited earlier, from Duckman GR:

Maybe I'm just backwards and archaic and, well, just plain naïve, but for some stupid reason I thought that the press didn't exist for the dispensation of presidential favors, nor was it their purpose to cater to the needs of their object of study or reportage; Rather, I always thought that their purpose was to report on the actions and activities and effects and impacts of said subject, the President.

Foolish me. Read this piece from Joe Hagan, and tell me if somebody hasn't lost their way.

Which reminds me - back before the invasion, there was one news organization that got it right. Remember Steve Ritea's Going It Alone from American Journalism Review?
When the New York Times apologized to readers May 26 for not being "more aggressive" in examining the administration's decision to invade Iraq, editors couldn't help but give a nod to a less-vaunted news organization that had been beating the Times on the story for some time: Knight Ridder's Washington bureau.

The contrast in coverage was stark at times. On September 8, 2002, the Times proclaimed in a front-page headline, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensified Quest for A-Bomb Parts." Knight Ridder had two days earlier proclaimed, "Lack of hard evidence of Iraqi weapons worries top U.S. officials." Knight Ridder continued with headlines like "Troubling questions over justification for war in Iraq" and "Failure to find weapons in Iraq leads to intelligence scrutiny," even as most other major media outlets sang a tune more in line with the Bush administration.

It wasn't until February that Michael Massing bestowed some of the first accolades on Knight Ridder, writing in The New York Review of Books: "Almost alone among national news organizations, Knight Ridder had decided to take a hard look at the administration's justifications for war."

Wow, how did that happen? Why was this one news organization so much better than the others?
A few weeks earlier, Knight Ridder Washington reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay received the Raymond Clapper Memorial award from the Senate Press Gallery for their coverage of the sketchy intelligence used to justify war with Iraq.

For about a year-and-a-half, the pair had filed compelling stories on the issue and, on many occasions, it seemed like they were banging the drum alone. It wasn't until earlier this year, when it became increasingly apparent Hussein had not been stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, that other news outlets grew more critical of the administration.

Strobel says their conclusions came from a lot of extra digging and source-building they were forced to do without the red-carpet access to high-level officials that some of the nation's top media outlets enjoy.

"Knight Ridder is not, in some people's eyes, seen as playing in the same ball field as the New York Times and some major networks," Strobel says. "People at the Times were mainly talking to senior administration officials, who were mostly pushing the administration line. We were mostly talking to the lower-level people or dissidents, who didn't necessarily repeat the party line."

Those sources, Knight Ridder Washington Editor Clark Hoyt adds, were "closest to the information."

"I'm not saying we didn't have any top-level sources," Strobel says, "but we also made a conscious effort to talk to people more in the bowels of government who have a less political approach to things."

Their effort paid off in the fall of 2002, when a story critical of the administration's case for war generated a small, but encouraging, response. "We got two or three unsolicited calls from people in government saying, 'You're asking the right questions. Keep it up,'" Landay recalls.

Given access, and wanting to keep it, the big news outlets learn quickly that they mustn't ask any of those questions.
17:57 GMT

The Newspapers of Record

An editorial in The Washington Post finds one ray of light in the Shiavo case:

NEITHER CONGRESS nor President Bush acquitted themselves well last weekend in enacting a law to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo. But in the days that have followed, one institution of American government has distinguished itself in its handling of the matter: the federal courts.
At a time when Congress has gone insane and the right-wing is trying to spin this into evidence that we should fear "judicial activism" (aka "the tyranny of the courts"), judges on both sides of the political spectrum - but most of them Republicans - have refused to play along, instead standing on the law. But isn't it frightening that we've reached the point where a leading newspaper has to praise the courts just for doing their job?

In The New York Times, Pentagon Will Not Try 17 G.I.'s Implicated in Prisoners' Deaths

Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army.
Colin Powell said they would know us by how we dealt with the cases of prisoner abuse. Well, now they know us. The Washington Note sees a pattern of inhumanity and lack of accountability. And Michael Froomkin says this story is eliminating his resistance to the idea of the US joining the International Criminal Court. We need it, he says, to save us from ourselves.
15:09 GMT

Courtship

Joe Hagan has a piece up today in The New York Observer about the dicey relationship between the White House and the one Big Three television network that hasn't been quite as slaveringly obedient to the junta as the rest of the crowd, Dan Rather Gone, But White House Isn't Sated Yet:

"Karl Rove started talking to me again," John Roberts, CBS News' White House correspondent, said of President Bush's chief political advisor and deputy chief of staff for policy at the White House.

That was fast.

Dan Rather left the CBS Evening News March 10, and now that the White House has gotten what it wanted, history has started over. Kind of.

"I think there's a sense of wiping the slate clean with the White House and we're starting at square one," Mr. Roberts said, adding that it was "no secret" that the Bush family hadn't liked Mr. Rather. And the memo scandal had further hurt CBS News' access to the White House.

It was confirmed by the Bush crew.

"With the departure of Dan Rather, this is a good opportunity for CBS to reach out," said Ari Fleischer, the former White House press spokesman. "This is almost a curtains-up for CBS to improve relationships."

Yeah, Rather was someone who was actually prepared to question those at the real center of power, and he had to go.
In contrast, Mr. Roberts said, he and Bob Schieffer, the 67-year-old Texan and Face the Nation host who is temporarily replacing Mr. Rather as evening anchor, are held in higher esteem by White House officials.
[...]
Adam Levine, who was the assistant White House secretary in charge of television news until January 2004-and who, like Mr. Fleischer, remains close to the Bush administration press office-said CBS News still had "a lot of work to do."

To measure the relative credibility of news networks with press officials at the White House, Mr. Levine suggested a scale of one to 100: he put Fox News at 90, NBC News at 80 and CBS News at "about 10."

When you consider how timid CBS has really been - and I include Rather and 60 Minutes in that - this is a pretty deep admission of the administration's inability to cope with even the most minimal standard of accountability.
In any case, at least one 60 Minutes employee was still in good stead with the White House: Scott Pelley, the silver-haired newsmagazine correspondent and a dark horse candidate to replace Mr. Rather as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

Mr. Levine said Mr. Pelley had remained well-liked, especially given his longtime friendship with Karen P. Hughes, who was recently named Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy in the White House. Since 2000, Mr. Pelley has had three sit-down interviews with the President; by contrast, Mr. Rather has had none.

"It's human nature that if someone was unfair or biased, they wouldn't get access to the President," said Mr. Fleischer.

But it's the very special royal nature of Bush that he expects you to be unfairly biased in his favor before he will deem you acceptable. That does not, of course, mean he won't realize you're a sap.
14:09 GMT

Suing the RIAA

Alex Veiga in Salon about Indy artists who are fighting the RIAA in court:

But some artists, including Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, see an upside to file-sharing.

"I look at it as a library. I look at it as our version of the radio," Tweedy said. "It's a place where basically we can encourage fans to be fans and not feel like they're being exploited, which is basically what the whole industry is geared to do."

You can see some videos of Wilco here.
About 20 independent recording artists, including musician and producer Brian Eno, rockers Heart and rapper-activist Chuck D, filed a legal brief with the high court in support of Grokster and StreamCast. They insist file-sharing and related technologies help expose new audiences to their music - outside established channels of the recording labels.

The artists argue that file-sharing "has the immediate potential to develop into a significantly more prevalent alternative distribution and promotion system." But a ruling that outlaws or limits it "will block that potential from ever being fully realized," the brief contends.

Although some artists are still falling for the RIAA line, more and more are realizing that file-sharing has benefits for them. Strangely, the Dixie Chicks, who ought to know better after having Clear Channel ban their work, are on the side of the bad guys. Wonder when they'll figure that one out....
13:01 GMT

Fascinating stuff

If you didn't read Max Blumenthal's Avenging angel of the religious right, about the extremely dangerous millionaire Howard Ahmanson, do it now.

Jazz at Running Scared has some further thoughts on Carter's participation in the election panel.

Nathan Newman, whose new format loads much faster, reminds us to Look at What They Do, Not What They Say about "Progressive Indexing" of Social Security.

Pix: Holden has The True Face of the Religious Right and Agitprop reckons Sinclair Lewis was right.

Jon Stewart without the Liberal Media Filter
04:27 GMT


Friday, 25 March 2005

Stuff to check out

What Season Are You? No better than most, but I liked the pictures. Via rolanni.

Ruy Teixeira says Americans are getting the message about the economy and are becoming more pessimistic about it, and are not falling for the whole "culture of life" scam.

Jonathan Schwarz has a list of things he's interested in, and I'm pretty interested in them too. For example, #1: 1. Are politicians (in America and elsewhere) going to kill me?

Important Changes to Your Citizenship Agreement - Please read and retain for your records.

Via The Daou Report, Liberty Street talks about a real culture of life issue - a 39-year-old woman on death row in Texas, Frances Newton, who is probably innocent and was two hours away from lethal injection when Gov. Perry gave her a 120-day stay.

Call to action: Thomas Nephew has info for Marylanders to get behind two state bills.

From Best of the Blogs, Could a Dem Say This? We are the party of the living wage, of Social Security, of Medicare and Medicaid, of Head Start and Pell Grants and Civil Rights and Voting Rights and Domestic Partner Rights and Women's Rights.

Hey, look, Alas, a blog has a new header.
23:35 GMT


The truth is out there

Atrios is right, you gotta read this post from The Poor Man.

TalkLeft did some live blogging yesterday on the press conference by The University of Colorado announcing its preliminary findings on the Ward Churchill investigation, and also links to Churchill's response. And here's a bit of unprofessional conduct from the prosecutor in the Robert Blake case.

Arthur Silber finds Peggy Noonan playing the Nazi card. You might also want to check out his series in which he rethinks Ayn Rand.

Stop Them Before They Nominate Again says Mahabarb, watching Hillary Clinton's continuing positioning for the 2008: The Dems are not getting it. We don't want a candidate who moves right to find "common ground" with the wingnuts. We don't want a candidate who has ever provided butt cover for Bush. We don't want a candidate who voted for that abomination of a bankruptcy bill (Biden).

At In These Times, How to Turn Your Red State Blue.

Some libertarians start to notice; make common cause with ACLU. Via Simbaud, who also sent me the direct link I couldn't find before to Life Everlasting at Harper's.

AK-47 MP3 Player
18:00 GMT


In The Washington Post

Al Kamen reports on an EEOC meeting that apparently didn't go quite as planned:

The theme of this year's meeting -- improving customer service -- didn't augur well for an exciting show, but then Commissioner Stuart J. Ishimaru got up to say a few words.

Ishimaru, the lone Democrat on the five-member commission -- there's one vacancy -- ripped into some of the agency's recent initiatives, including the idea of the morning's annual meeting itself, which, even with just coffee, bagels and some sort of "baked good," was budgeted at $30,000, a hefty sum for the cash-strapped agency.

He also criticized outsourcing the public's phone inquiries to Lawrence, Kan., reorganization proposals that focused on the field offices but not on headquarters and so on. People in the 500-person audience cheered and clapped, we were told.

This is what they mean by "running government like a corporation".

Kamen also tells us about an interesting bit of, um, mismailing?

Imagine our surprise when, browsing recently through the excellent McCook Daily Gazette in McCook, Neb., we found a letter to the editor from New Hampshire Democratic activist Monica Smith.

Why, she wrote, would Nebraska's GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel send her a "prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense" bit of puffery? This is quite legal, we're told, though Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington complained that the newsletter improperly uses one too many pictures of Hagel and that they are unrelated to the text.

So is this a very, very early effort to build support in New Hampshire for his expected 2008 presidential bid?

(Why is that legal, by the way?)

An editorial adds to the Dishonest Debate on Social Security by castigating the Democrats for insisting there is no crisis and that there is nothing about it so pressing that we should risk letting Bush con us into another fake "cure". Write to the Post and ask why the real crisis caused by Bush's vacuuming out the treasury isn't where the real work needs to be done. (Remember: Letters to the Editor should be brief!)

4 Senators Want Rule On Mercury Withheld: Three Senate Democrats and Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) called on the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday to stay regulations issued last week to control mercury emissions from power plants. The request follows concerns that the agency excluded a Harvard University analysis that found significantly greater health benefits from mercury controls than were estimated by the EPA. On the same page, "Medicare Premiums Could Go Up 12%."

John Edwards starts podcasting. You can get the shows at his One America Committee website.

Carter to Head Elections Panel. Maybe we should all contact Carter to put in our two cents. But look at this paragraph: Although disputes over recounts and voter eligibility marred the 2000 U.S. presidential election, international monitors in place in November 2004 reported that the polls were mostly fair. How would they know, when there was no transparency in how the votes were counted?
16:10 GMT


Highlights

Slacktivist: Imagine trying to update your brackets for the NCAAs if your only source of information were, say, members of the White House Press Corps: "Texas Tech supporters were claiming victory Sunday after their regional quarterfinal game against Gonzaga. In Spokane, however, proponents of Gonzaga disputed this claim, noting that their team's point total was equal to that of Kentucky's and greater than that of Utah's, and that both of these teams are advancing to the next round." Via Class, Part IX: Facts and Teddy Bears, at War on Error, which you should read, too.

Susie finds out who reads all those newspapers.

Your screenshot of the day from the corporate media.

Daily Kos interview with Michael Dukakis, via Democracy for Utah.

John Gorenfeld, His Own Private Abu Ghraib: He created a system to reprogram bad kids. Delete the bad code in their personalities. Break the will of sullen stoner boys, make bad girls confess to whorish secrets and reverse-engineer the minds of heavy metal kids. And rebuild all of them into an anti-drug army. Such were the works of Melvin Sembler and the feats that STRAIGHT, the ultimate in teen drug rehab programs, attempted during the Totally Awesome Eighties.

It's not over yet: Helga supplies this from FAIR - Women's Opinions Also Missing on Television.
13:14 GMT


A note from the publisher

I get e-mail all the time from people whose names I don't recognize who actually have weblogs, but they never put the URL in the mail so I don't always know that. A number of people use their real names in the mail but use a fake name to post, so there's no reason I would connect them. Or maybe I just didn't notice their name - I don't always pick this stuff up, especially if I have to go to a separate page to find out who they really are. Or sometimes I just plain forgot. So do me a favor: Include your weblog's address in your signature.
01:03 GMT


Thursday, 24 March 2005

Your happenin' world

At The Black Commentator, the cover story is The U.S. is Becoming a 'Failed State': Of what use is a congressional or state Black political caucus, or Black mayors and city councils, if the state is so enfeebled that it cannot deliver the goods? That's precisely the strategic objective of those who would "Starve the Beast" - poison the fiscal well with deficits and tax cuts until the federal government cannot deliver popularly desired political goods such as health care, much less help the states and cities provide basic services. Corporations then step into the void - or as much of the needs-market as is profitable - to sell vital services. Elected officials are made superfluous. Black power - or the dream of it - becomes a dead letter.

Another weblog that is new to me, Lies.com, on The New Normal. (I'd quote, but there's something about the template that won't let me unless I want to go through the hassle of viewing the source and copying from there. I'm seeing more and more templates that make quoting more difficult, lately - why is that?)

Bill Scher says that Democrats shouldn't be afraid to stand up on the Schiavo issue, but this is a good time to revive the demand that Bill Frist should have his medical license taken away for his continuing malpractice.

US becoming scientific backwater; other countries picking up the slack.

The General writes to Bill Frist about abstinence-only sex miseducation.

Shorter Dana Milbank

Peter Levinson (of super hanc petram) tips me off to a permanent version of Garret Keizer's Harper's article, Life everlasting: the religious right and the right to die.

Thomas Friedman is starting to notice what's going on again - he's noticed we're killing too many people, even. He says: President Bush just appointed Karen Hughes, his former media adviser, to head up yet another U.S. campaign to improve America's image in the Arab world. I have a suggestion: Just find out who were the cabinet, C.I.A. and military officers on whose watch these 26 homicides occurred and fire them. Looks like he's going to need another vacation soon.

TBogg, always able to find the humor, calls our attention to this excellent Get Your War on strip. But, of course, you can read more here. But nothing is funnier than those right-wing bloggers.

Weekly Anagram
17:39 GMT


Finding real media bias

Two articles at The Left Coaster highlight the real news biases of Big Media. One, by Mary, talks about What Would the War Look Like If Reporters Could Really Report What They Saw. Reporters say that although it was not systematic, they felt they were under pressure to down-play the bad news from Iraq and they often had negative material censored from their stories. Some comments:

"The real damage of the war on the civilian population was uniformly omitted."

"I think we sanitized the images too much so that people do not see the reality of war."

"There was excessive pressure to show the 'good news' in Iraq."

And from eRiposte, who is now posting at TLC as a regular, How the Liberal Media Myth is Created - Part 1:
Anyone surprised that there hasn't been much of a mention in the lefty blogosphere about the Kerry v. Bush media coverage analysis from the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)? I am.
What's perhaps most interesting is that the study and its result is so misleading - the kind of thing right-wingers love to quote, but, as is so often the case, not because it tells the truth.
Do a Google search for one of these passages and you'll see articles mentioning this (like this one on MSNBC saying: "Study: Election news negative toward Bush" or Howard Kurtz in WaPo saying: "A few readers have complained that I failed to mention, in Monday's column about a Project for Excellence in Journalism report, the finding on pro-Kerry bias last year..."); you'll also find other GOP or Right-oriented sites (example) touting it as (partial) vindication for their claims about the media (partial because the Iraq stats were not exactly "unfavorable" to Bush).

If you consider just the Kerry v. Bush data, is the report really vindicating a "liberal media" claim? NO.

Because "negative" stories about Bush were factual, and there were a lot more negative facts about Bush.
One of the follow-up articles in the Sydney Morning Herald (via this site) has this stunningly weak statement from the survey's director, Tom Rosenstiel:
Mr Rosenstiel said these figures did not necessarily reflect bias but, instead, the fact that coverage was always more intense and questioning when it came to the incumbent.
Is that the best explanation that a credible journalism organization could muster? Rosenstiel (or Kurtz or other media outlets) do not seem to understand that something is not right when an organization ostensibly measuring the quality of American journalism decides to report statistics using measures used by politicians, rather than the measures that should be used by journalists.
In other words, the study itself is spun on the basis of the way the GOP interprets news - it doesn't matter that there are simply more negative things to say about Bush, it's that the media dared to say them that makes the news "liberally biased".

But, as eRepost also points out, a more significant bias in the news is evident in the fact that as negative as the stories about Bush were, they weren't given the kind of play they deserved. When Bill Clinton tried to mislead the public about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, the press made a big deal of it, ultimately calling for his resignation. But Bush has committed genuine high crimes, while the closest the press has come to demanding accountability has been the occasional request that he answer more questions, and a brief bubble of calls for the removal of Donald Rumsfeld from his post (which, strangely, have since faded). The fact is that if the media wanted to keep these stories alive, they would have done so.
14:57 GMT


More bloggy goodness

Monkey Media Report reads Ha'aretz and says: There are many ugly pieces in the hateful puzzle of Palestinian/Israeli relations, but there's one essential bit that seems to get very little attention here in the Land of the Free. If you care about the Middle East, yet haven't heard about the recent increase in violence aimed at peaceful Palestinians from right-wing fundamentalist Jews, you might want to ask yourself why that particular info hasn't reached you.

The Common Ills recounts an infuriating interview with Randy Cohen ("The Ethicist" at the NYT) in which he rationalizes Daniel Okrent's infamous breach in using, in print, the name and location of someone who wrote a private e-mail to Adam Nagourney. Cohen does say that he seems to remember that Okrent was censured for that - but that's not something readers of the paper have ever been told.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden on Misanthropy at the grimy end of winter: I normally try to avoid cynicism, on the grounds that it's bad mental hygiene. Think of this as my early spring cleaning..

The creep doesn't fall far from the tree.
13:05 GMT


Buncha links

Ahistoricality is on Hypocrisy Watch and feeling pretty passionate about it, too.

First you get Bérubé on the Beinart Effect, and then you get Bérubé giving it back to Horowitz.

Angry Bear warns that the White House is "leaning towards a consumption tax."

Prairie Weather has a round-up of all sorts of crummy things that are going on.

Spacecrab finds meaning in the words of Terry Pratchett. (And I caught an unfortunate typo here just in time.)

Dave Johnson points out that the IRS is getting way political, and also has a reminder to liberal bloggers.

More Delicious Neo-Con Treats - the real plan for Iraq.

Julie Saltman finds out that our elected Democrats can't stand the heat when David Sirota shines a light on them. Well, no wonder they are such crap.

Kevin Drum learns from Brad Plumer that the Social Security projection actually looks a bit better than last year's once you remove all the faked-up stuff.

Bitch, Ph.D says War on Error is doing a "fantastic series of posts" on social class in America, starting here.
01:46 GMT


Wednesday, 23 March 2005

Mail bag

Thanks to Alice Marshall (of GOTV), John DeLuca, Steve Timberlake (of Linkmeister), and David Orlin for sending me the link to Dana Milbank's live chat, something I would have seen already if I'd clicked through on the link in the post I'd linked to in the same post. Silly me. Anyway, John says:

If I could make one comment. In your letter to Milbank, you asked Mr. Passive-Aggressive for evidence, evidence of the Left's seeking to undermine traditional media. I think that is an excellent line of questioning, and one that must be asked frequently until answered. The radical right wing isn't tethered to the truth or to fact -- these are irrelevant and inconvenient to them. On the Left, truth is our oxygen, and we must continue to demand the truth in every encounter with official liars and their willing scribes.

And Randolph Fritz notes the other false equivalence:

Frankly, I have no idea what he's talking about; they give the screaming fascist Heritage Foundation space in their politics front page. I can't even think of an organization that far left--maybe the CP?
Meanwhile, Kip Williams responds to Harvey Wasserman's suggestion that, "if Christ returns, those who hate in his name will slime him, then kill him."
Sometimes when I drive by a church with full-size crucifixes outside, I think that if Jesus comes back, they're ready.
Helga alerts me to Life Everlasting: The religious right and the right to die by Garret Keizer, currently on the front page of Harper's site - read it now before it goes away.
23:54 GMT

A few things

Dictators, Tyrants and Fools by William Rivers Pitt: Only dictators, tyrants and fools believe they can have it all their way. Every dictator, tyrant and fool in history who has tried to have it all his way has failed in spectacular fashion. Often, that failure brings about the destruction of their family, their army, or their entire nation. Yet the lessons of history do not resonate with dictators, tyrants and fools. That, more than anything else, is why they always fail.

Harvey Wasserman: As we enter another Easter Season, it's become all too obvious that if Christ returns, those who hate in his name will slime him, then kill him. (And then they'd claim it was suicide.)

Something about The Rabid Urt makes me think of WorldCon masquerades past - especially 1974 and 1977. (I particularly like rule 6a.)
20:08 GMT


Milbank

Dana Milbank not a Democrat and not a liberal. Like we couldn't tell. (The wingers can't.)

And speaking of Milbank, Peter Ramsey brought my letter to his attention, generating a non-form-letter response: "Thanks-- I hadn't seen that. Afraid it's more evidence that we're already too far gone into opposing corners."

*sigh*

I got a reply from Milbank, too:

you'll find a couple of answers in yesterday's web chat.
He didn't include a link to any archive, and in my usual way I couldn't find it, either. Anyone know where to look for this thing?
14:38 GMT

Real liberal media

Amy Sullivan, Katha Pollit, and Amy Sullivan again guesting for Kevin on The Women Question.

At The American Prospect, Antisocial Security by Jon Margolis: This is ideology, not greed. Republicans are neither more avaricious nor more dishonorable than their opponents. Their desire to dismantle Social Security is motivated by sincere belief, one founded on an aggressive hostility to equality.

I like Kevin Drum's headline for this story. And, of course, Max. About how they lied about mercury, just like they lie about everything else.

Alterman: Peter Beinart misses the obvious, essential point about the "Moynihan/Bolton" nonsense being handed out by Administration toadies, here. Pat Moynihan was deeply devoted to upholding international law. Bolton heaps contempt upon it. They are philosophically, fundamentally at odds. Also, remember, TNR is a "liberal" magazine that frequently praised and published Jeane Kirkpatrick. Also: Todd Gitlin on affirmative action for conservatives. Note the lack of embarrassment these people feel here. Shamelessness is one of their greatest talents. Read Eric's post from the top, though, about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Matthew Yglesias at Tapped links to a post at Unfogged pointing out that Congress just passed a tax break for making things in the US, including motion pictures - except for pornography. Also at Tapped, Matt says you need to read FBI agents questioned value of harsh interrogation techniques, and Jeffrey Dubner recommends Sasha Abramsky's interview with David Rose, Torture Heavy.

Bollocks.
04:19 GMT


More on media

Jerome Doolittle has an addendum to my letter to Dana Milbank, in which he says:

Today conservatives see The New York Times as "liberal" because of its editorial page (which would be considered center-right in the rest of the developed world.) And they see The Wall Street Journal as conservative because its editorial page appears to have sprung from the loins of Strom Thurmond and Ayn Rand.

But outside the Beltway and away from Grub Street, nobody much cares about or even notices either page. All that matters in the real world is the rest of the paper - which stories are judged to be news, and how they are played. This is what winds up on the networks, and may, if repeated relentlessly enough, eventually make some impression on the flabby mind of the electorate. Seen this way then, the Journal may wind up having more of a "liberal" effect in the real world than the Times.

And Digby has returned to the subject with a response to Reading A1's reaction to Milbank.

And speaking of the craven corporate media, Digby looks at this remarkable visual example over at Media Matters and this excellent article by Eric Boehlert and notes that they are apparently so in the tank that they won't even admit that most people disagree with the Republicans on the major news story of the last few days. Yes, it's an issue that most of America is united on, and they want to pretend that all that "divided nation" stuff applies here, too. We know who that serves.
01:33 GMT


Tuesday, 22 March 2005

News & views

I would not have known what today's arty little Google logo was about if Rachel Maddow hadn't complained on the air that it was obscure and is supposed to be about something called World Water Day.

The Torygraph : In a BBC Panorama programme to mark the second anniversary of the invasion, Sir Stephen Wall, Mr Blair's former European affairs adviser, said that the Government "stretched the legal argument [over the war] to breaking point". MI6 Chief Told Blair That US 'Fixed' Case for Iraq War: The head of Britain's foreign intelligence agency told Prime Minister Tony Blair that the case for war in Iraq was being "fixed" by Washington to suit US policy, according to a BBC documentary. Chuck Dupree wonders whether Tony Blair will end up with "a restricted traveling schedule when he leaves office."

The Daily Blatt has a round-up of links on Terry's Law, but missed The Rude Pundit.

Reading A1 did not disagree with my letter to Dana Milbank, but addressed a different aspect of the matter. Digby also responded to Milbank's article.

WaPo: Michael Getler acknowledges that readers are correct to complain that some stories have been "incomplete". Even the Post science writer complained about the absence of any case for evolution in an article called "Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens." The letter column has good responses to David Ignatius' failure to condemn extraordinary rendition, and two Marylanders correct the Post on their cheap shot at Paul Sarbanes: The Post failed to note how, especially in October 2002, Mr. Sarbanes forthrightly presented facts and argued against the congressional resolution ultimately used to give legal credence to the invasion of Iraq. This is not surprising, because The Post took no notice of Mr. Sarbanes' anti-war efforts that fall.

NYT stunner! RNC apologist David Brooks suddenly notices RNC corruption!
19:19 GMT


For democracy

As you know, I regard machine-counted ballots as inadequate and I'm not really interested in "receipts" and paper trails and such, so a lot of the discussion of opening the code to the public set out in the original February letter to the companies is beside the point. In fact, letters to the companies are themselves beside the point - if Congress is going to write laws requiring standards in voting methodology, those standards should hold the system to the highest and most transparent possible level: paper ballots, hand-counted in public on the night. But this campaign is a small step:

Twenty-Three U.S. House Members Sign On To Waters/Conyers Letter To Voting Machine Companies:

Sending a clear signal to the nation's voting machine companies, 23 U.S. House of Representative members signed on to a letter authored by Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. John Conyers demanding transparency and accountability from the private companies which now run the public function of America's electoral system.

Why only 23? Did yours sign?
The letter was signed by the following U.S. House members: John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Sam Farr (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rick Boucher (D-VA), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), William D. Delahunt (D-MA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Robert Wexler (D-FL), James Oberstar (D-MN), Raśl Grijalva (D-AZ), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), Barney Frank (D-MA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), George Miller (D-CA), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).
If you see your representative's name there, write and thank them. If not, write and ask them why not.

Via The Brad Blog.
13:39 GMT


On the internets

Katrina vanden Heuvel, Sweet Victory:Taking Back the Campuses: For all the talk of left-wing bias in academia, little notice has been given to the right's growing influence on America's college campuses. As part of the conservative message machine's decades-long project to spread its ideology, the right currently pumps over $35 million a year into college campuses, funding speakers, backing conservative papers, and pampering young leaders with internships and job opportunities. In the past month, however, two promising organizations have emerged to aggressively counter the right's operations and promote progressive values on campuses and beyond.

The Liberal Patriot, Making a Living, Just Barely- G.W. Bush's Real Jobs of the 21st Century: Recently an article in the Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel highlighted a 57% jump in food stamp recipients from December 2000 to December 2004.

Ezra Klein, Six Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Rather Commission.

Tom Tomorrow, The Sensible Liberal!

DED Space, Onward Christian soldiers...preferably over a cliff: Central Church of God has informed the Loaves & Fishes program in Charlotte, North Carolina, that it will no longer participate in the local program that feeds the poor. The reason? Get ready--Roman Catholics participate.

Copeland Morris, The Great Deception: If Bush supporters were forced to part with their illusions, which this deception has so carefully cultivated, they would be forced to see Bush's "criminal simplicity" and that bravado in him that "corresponds to that of the highest virtue" for what it is, in fact.

Neat travel pictures from a trip to China
03:46 GMT


Stolen election and other stories

Congressional committee to hold election hearing in Ohio. A lot of people still care about election hearings, but not a lot of people are talking about it. (via)

Via GOTV, Two important posts at Daily Kos:

Emerging Scandal on MD Voting Machine Performance
All MD Diebold Machines on Lockdown
Under Investigation for Widespread Statewide Election Day 2004 Failures
MD Election Group Calls for Independent Investigation and De-Certification of Machines

Montgomery County, Maryland.
According to county election officials and other sources, all Maryland voting machines have been on "lockdown" since November 2, 2004 due to statewide machine failures including 12% of machines in Montgomery County, some of which appear to have lost votes in significant numbers. The State Board of Elections convinced the media that Election Day went smoothly, when in fact there were serious statewide, systemic problems with the Diebold electronic voting machines -- so serious that the SBE and Diebold still have not figured out how to prevent the loss of votes in the future.

And check out Ghost in the Machine: a collection of e-voting facts, which has a lot of scary data.

Also from GOTV, Voting Glitches Haunt Statistician, Republicans maneuvering to get Voting Rights Act killed, Texas to Develop Statewide Voter Registration Management System, and Electronic poll books, the next menace?
01:57 GMT


In the ether

On the subject I don't want to discuss, Atrios: Upyernoz does raise an interesting issue -- the fact that a law passed without a quorum is probably unconstitutional. Or, I guess, more to the point - a bill passed without quorum is not in fact a law.

And Tom Burka, Other 293 Million Americans Waiting For Congress To Pass Bills For Them: "I can't wait," said seven-year-old Terry Dooley, who has petitioned Congress to pass legislation ordering Schwinn to give him a new bike.

And The Carpetbagger: To recap, Osama bin Laden, Israel, war, and devastation? Vacation on. The religious right wants action on a woman who has been in vegetative state for 15 years? Vacation off. The man has his priorities. Kevin says, "Yep, it's true. This is the first time - the very first time - that Bush has ever cut short one of his Crawford brush clearing holidays. When the Christian right speaks, your commander-in-chief jumps."

And Amy Sullivan on Bill Frist's armchair diagnostics: But what's really appalling about Frist's latest I'm-not-a-neurologist-but-I-play-one-in-the-Senate routine is that he does this all the time. For at least eight years, Frist has been making medical pronouncements on all manner of medical issues outside his speciality (he's a heart surgeon), and his message is always the same: You can't trust all those other doctors, but you can trust me because I am a doctor.

In other news...
Other interesting stuff at Political Animal includes a reminder that for an administration that claims to want to get out of Iraq sometime soon, they sure are building an awful lot of permanent bases, and something that should matter to everyone, the conservative assault on labor.

You might have to try a couple-few times to get Joss Whedon On Wonder Woman And Serenity, which seems to be a very popular page.
01:02 GMT


Monday, 21 March 2005

Political collision

Michael Kinsley: As the guy in charge of opinion at the L.A. Times, I have endured some horrendous insults, such as being compared to the president of Harvard University. Yes, it's the women thing, again.

Oh, Kevin, why do you fall for this both sides are the same crap?

Look, I can't post about the media's top story, it's too grim and ugly and now the Republicans are using the private lives of ordinary people to wrap their schemes around. Just go here and here for more wise counsel on what's really going on.

And just in case you needed more to make you miserable, another grim link via Eschaton, in which Roachblog alerts us to the fact that the "worst of the worst", the North Vietnamese, treated POWs better than we have. So how many American POWS died while captured by the insane and lawless North Vietnamese during the entire Vietnam war? One hundred and fourteen. From all causes. What killed the 108 (so far) reported in our custody? Mostly "violent causes". But that's okay, because We Are Good. (And while you're there, read this take-down of George F. Will on partisanship and the judiciary.)
15:15 GMT


Non-toxic media

Ginger found something to cheer herself up after the election - Ménage a Trois, Number 6.

Prescription for Change has an amusing little musical animation about prescription drugs. Via Mark Evanier.

Online Gallery from the New York Public Library, via Martin Wisse.

Feeling depressed? There's only one thing to do: Become a Republican. Complete instructions via Skippy.
02:03 GMT


Sunday, 20 March 2005

Dumb media

Dear Dana Milbank,

You say:

Imagine that! An independent press looking for the truth rather than serving as stenographers for the powerful. It's a quaint tradition Americans would be wise not to abandon."
Oddly enough, that's just what I, a liberal partisan, want from you as well. But please consider exactly how your own column betrays that ideal.

You say:

Partisans on the left and right have formed cottage industries devoted to discrediting what they dismissively call the "mainstream media" -- the networks, daily newspapers and newsmagazines. Their goal: to steer readers and viewers toward ideologically driven outlets that will confirm their own views and protect them from disagreeable facts.
It's perfectly clear that right-wing media has been doing this and has been appallingly successful.

But where is your evidence that the left has done, or attempted to do, the same? We didn't create Rush Limbaugh, The Washington Times, or any of the Scaife-funded magazines that were responsible for promoting the web of lies that were aimed at smearing the Clintons.

David Brock has detailed how this was a deliberate project - to spread any claim, no matter how unfounded, to undermine the Clintons in particular, Democrats, and liberals in general. Where is your evidence of ANYTHING similar on the left?

Instead, we demanded the facts from you, and didn't get them. When we saw that the major mainstream media was allowing a libel of Bill Clinton to be turned into a "fact", we objected. There was no evidence that Bill or Hillary Clinton had been involved in committing a crime in Whitewater, but Big Media allowed this non-story to snowball into a demand for a Special Prosecutor. Why? What facts was that based on?

And where was the outrage when Fisk was replaced with the blatantly partisan Ken Starr for no reason?

Similarly, when it became obvious that Kenneth Starr's office was illegally leaking "information" - much of which turned out not to be true, and all of which should never have been released to the press in the first place - why were you all still calling for Clinton to resign rather than demanding that Starr be removed from his office? Why couldn't you even take seriously the charge that there was malfeasance and abuse of power from Starr's office?

Why did you persist in treating Kathleen Willey as a credible witness long after she had changed her story three times? Where were the facts then?

I was never particularly fond of Bill Clinton, but it was clear that this kind of "reporting" was ignoring the facts, not treating them seriously.

You note the falsehood from the right claiming that WMD were in Iraq and that there were links between Saddam and Al Qaeda and 9/11. But you contrast that with suspicions on the left about the possibility that George Bush was cheating at the presidential debates by use of an earpiece feed.

What on earth makes you think these two items are equivalent in any way? Just to begin with, the first story is a documented lie; the second is a reasonable suspicion, though not proven either way. The first story has been investigated to death, quite rightly, but the second, for no apparent reason, is being dismissed out of hand.

Perhaps you would like to explain why the fact that there certainly was something strange on George Bush's back during the debates has never been investigated at all. We all saw it, we all had questions about it, but the news media has simply refused to acknowledge the possibility that Bush may have been cheating. This despite the fact that Bush was obviously lying when he blamed it all on his (very expensive!) tailor.

This is the same president whose administration is responsible for promulgating the impression that WMD were in Iraq and that Saddam was tied to 9/11 and Al Qaeda in the first place - and it's impossible that he was cheating at the debates? Why? What WAS that thing on his back?

It may be true that some people believe Bush actually knew about 9/11 in advance, but what most on the left question is the incompetence of an administration that certainly had sufficient intelligence to suspect that something was up, and did nothing. There really isn't any question about that: George Bush and his administration were warned repeatedly that Al Qaeda was planning something, and the target and method were always well understood. Yet they persist in claiming they could not possibly have known. What could be more ridiculous than Condoleezza Rice's claim that "no one could have imagined" that anything like this could happen when they had been advised consistently that something like this was in fact very likely to happen?

In hearings, Rice claimed that the information wasn't pulled together because there was no mechanism for unifying the work of the various intelligence agencies. Why was the press so asleep-on-the-job that none of you pointed out that, in fact, there is such a mechanism: It's called the National Security Advisor.

Falsehoods are promulgated by the administration and the RNC and the right-wing media, and then they are ultimately carried by you, the supposedly non-partisan mainstream press. You treat them as if they are facts equivalent to the real facts you could easily get from others, simply by asking questions. But you don't ask the questions. It's your job - why don't you do it?

Meanwhile, you contrast this overwhelming network of partisan liars with Michael Moore. How can we take you seriously when you say such things? What lies has Moore spread? His analysis may or may not be on the mark, but where has he been contrafactual?

In other words, in complete denial of FACTS, you hint that Moore spreads falsehoods. How can you justify such a suggestion?

Drudge, Hannity, O'Reilly, and Limbaugh spread falsehoods that come directly from the RNC. Jon Stewart does humorous commentary. Kos' work is factual. Salon does straight reporting and commentary. These two sides are NOT the same.

I challenge you to back up your assertion that the left is engaged in a project similar to that of the right. The right's objection to the mainstream media is that they DO sometimes carry the facts, even when the facts are undeniable - if those facts are not congenial to the right-wing message.

This is not the complaint that the left has about Big Media. We've had criticisms of Democrats, too, but those aren't the criticisms you carry. You only seem interested in right-wing spin, and right-wing spin is never openly critical of the RNC.

See, I don't have to read right-wing media to know what they're talking about, because I know that within a matter of days anything they say will find its way to mainstream media. The reverse is not true.

We object to the fact that we have to read the entire newspaper to find facts - real, documented facts - while administration/RNC spin finds its way into front-page headlines. We object, for example, to the fact that the headline for the story on the NORC count of the 2000 election claims that Bush won the election when the 43rd graf makes clear that this is not the case. We object to headlines that indicate that the Clintons were responsible for shady business deals in Arkansas when anyone who actually reads up on these things knows they were simply the victims of an associate who had a breakdown and ended up embezzling from them. We object to the fact that, to this very day, falsehoods about Gore and the Clintons and previous Democratic convention speakers (Casey was NOT prevented from speaking because he was anti-abortion; he was prevented from speaking because he refused to endorse the Democratic ticket) are still treated as FACTS by mainstream media.

We don't just read left-wing resources. We find that we have to read damn-near everything to find out what's going on. That makes it impossible to rely on our local newspapers, because we know that the facts come out in dribs and drabs in newspapers and magazines all over the nation - indeed, all over the world. Why should we have to rely on the Guardian to find out what the United States is doing? Why aren't these things on the front page of The Washington Post and The New York Times? Why are some stories - legitimate, important stories - left to Salon and The New Yorker, rather than covered by the major papers? Why is it that I can find the right-wing spin in The Washington Post but don't even find out what the liberal response is until I read The Nation?

The right-wing screamed because the newspapers would not take seriously the suggestion that the Clintons murdered Vincent Foster, although his death had already been investigated several times. Really investigated. Investigated by people who were hostile to the Clintons and, certainly in Ken Starr's case, determined to prove the Clintons guilty and bring them down.

Can you think of an equivalent story from the left? No, you can't, because the things we think should be investigated never HAVE been investigated in any comprehensive way. We know something funny was on George Bush's back during the debates, but you haven't investigated it, so we are left with guess-work.

But then, we have never thought that was the most important story that required investigation.

What you didn't investigate includes far more important matters, such as a timely investigation of any dissent from the administration's claims that we knew Saddam had WMD. The facts were not difficult to find if you were prepared to look for them. Scott Ritter was available with clear refutations of administration claims, as were others.

Where was your paper when Bush ignored the requirements of the force resolution by invading Iraq? Why did we not see headlines stating that what Bush was doing was illegal - not just illegal under international law, but illegal because it directly violated the US resolution granting him the use of force only to get the weapons inspectors into Iraq? Bush was committing a crime; why wasn't that your front-page headline?

And why treat the idea that the election was fixed as a conspiracy theory? Why have you downplayed the fact that the Republicans have gone out of their way to prevent paper trails from being available to verify the vote? There's pretty strong evidence of a comprehensive effort by one party to prevent many Americans from being able to vote at all, and in addition we have the fact that in far too many machine-counted districts, the ballot tallies do not match the exit polls. Those are good reasons to be suspicious. That's leaving aside the fact that statisticians have been unable to find any justification for the mismatch between ballot tallies and exit polls. Why does the mainstream media treat this as "conspiracy theory"?

It doesn't matter if the election actually WAS fixed, you understand. It's up to you to make sure that the process is transparent, and that when results are inexplicable, someone will be there to find out why. What you've done instead is make it clear to the Republicans that no one is watching, no one will do anything if an election is stolen. Why have you done this?

A mainstream media that was happy to see the waste of tens of millions of taxpayers dollars to investigate the Clintons over nothing, despite the fact that they had already been investigated and exonerated, but refuses to examine false claims about 9/11 before an illegal war can be launched, and refuses to even show an interest in the transparency and verifiability of our elections, isn't really much use to us, is it?
17:21 GMT


Saturday, 19 March 2005

Briefly noted

The General sends his congratulations to the Log Cabin Republicans.

Henley wants to know who has the best portal blog for Mommy-bloggers - but I love the way he says it. Also: a good and scary point.

See the skeletal structure of famous cartoon characters. Via The Biomes Blog.

Here's a blog I've never seen before: XX.

A good rant on Media Distractions (and a good Ben Sargent cartoon, too.)

Introduction to the Illiberal Conservative Media (ICM) (aka Insidious Corporatist Media).

Coulter vs. Beinart. Yeah, I know.

Toles on ANWR

Flying Lawnmower via Weird Events.
21:08 GMT


Campus hijinks

At Suburban Guerrilla, Susie has been on holiday for the last couple of days and Maya has been sitting in. You can start here and read upward to see her contributions - that first one is pretty interesting, too. And this is about the anniversary protests, and included a link to a Democracy Now! segment:

CAROL LANG: Well, I was at the protest also, and pretty much what Hadas said was what happened. Within two minutes, security had pushed us out into the hallway, and then within the space of another two minutes, they had assaulted three of the students - or two of the students, and Hadas was also arrested for taking pictures of the assault. And then I got into a discussion with one of the administrators there saying, "What about our right to free speech?" And this vice president, whose name I have forgotten right now, said, "Well, that's a question." And I said, "Well that's my question. What's your answer? You're the administrator. You're supposed to be coming up with the policy." And she said, "You were disruptive." And I said we hadn't prevented anybody from getting to any of the tables. We just stood there and shouted "U.S. Out Of Iraq! Recruiters Off Campus!" And then I went to work. I had asked her again about free speech, and she responded in the same way. "That's a question." And I said, well -- and, this is on tape - because one of the film students happened to be in the area, and he filmed it, and he was also harassed by the administration. Had he not stopped, something -- he might have been expelled also from the school. So they actually charged me with fleeing the scene, when in fact I had this long discussion with this vice president after the whole thing happened, and then two days later, four -- they're called peace officers, and they actually work for the police department, and they are stationed at the different, you know, segments of the City University -- they came into my office and said I was going to security and I said --

AMY GOODMAN: You were at your desk?

CAROL LANG: I was at my desk. This was 12:00 in the afternoon.

AMY GOODMAN: How long you have been a secretary?

CAROL LANG: 30 years, and nothing has ever -- I generally join in protests, but.

AMY GOODMAN: How often do you get arrested?

CAROL LANG: This is the first time. Williams has decided -- Williams used to be a Deputy Sheriff when he lived in the Midwest somewhere, and -

AMY GOODMAN: The president.

CAROL LANG: Yes. And he has decided -- after 9/11 happened, he put up signs all over the place saying, "United We Stand." So, he is taking homeland security to heart and bringing it to City College. Every time something happens there, he immediately calls the police. And historically, except for early on in the 1930s and the 1940s, the police have not generally been called. It's sort of unstated that cops just don't come on campus, but Williams has basically decided that he wants to militarize the school and has decided that no matter what the opportunity, he's going to call them on campus. So, four police came to my office, and when I got on Amsterdam Avenue, because my office is on 140th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, they said I wasn't going to security. They handcuffed me, put me in a cop car and took me to the 26th precinct. And my lawyer came down, and I said to the cops, "Is my lawyer there?" And they said, "No." And they told my lawyer that I didn't want a lawyer and that I said that he should go home. And so, this was all -- it got worse as I went down to central booking. All of the police decided that they were going to lie, and they said that I was unwilling to be fingerprinted. And that was why they weren't letting me out of jail, when in fact I had been fingerprinted three times. And I'm not about to tell somebody with a gun that I'm not going to be fingerprinted. So, they had to after 30 hours let me go, but the whole thing was orchestrated, I believe, by CUNY administration and with Williams at the head of this.

This militarization of non-military institutions, and direct denial of protesters' rights, has been a continuing feature of Bush's America. And his supporters will go right on thinking it's funny, and that it's justified, right up until something happens to put them on the other side of it, and then they won't, anymore.
13:19 GMT

Bloggy stuff

From the LiberalOasis Blogwire: BOPNews and The Agonist are successfully pressuring Brookings to stop a trend of ignoring liberal bloggers on academic panels that discuss blogs.

The Blogger Pledge is going around. I'm not sure it makes any difference for me, I'll take it all the same: If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules. But I doubt I'll need to.

Hugo reckons there's another reason not to worry about Social Security running out of money.

Face it, Bush is a creep.

Report: Trying Kids as Adults Increases Recidivism (hell, I coulda told 'em that).

And Kevin Drum goes back to the well again!
02:39 GMT


Headlines

Sometimes it's like we just live in an odious cartoon: In a surprise move, the Senate also voted to approve a total of $134 billion in tax cuts, $34 billion more than President Bush requested and $64 billion more than the Senate Republican leadership had initially proposed. Pete Dominici said: "We didn't know what we were doing." I'd say, "You have to laugh," but, you know, you really don't.

Palast was on Newsnight with a segment on the Secret US plans for Iraq's oil: The Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks, sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil, BBC's Newsnight has revealed.

And Norman Solomon hears The loud, clear voice of Iraq war's wounded vets; we should listen.

All links via Cursor.
00:26 GMT


Friday, 18 March 2005

Stuff from around

Junius says Crooked Timber should be back up as soon as they scrape together enough funding for a dedicated server and suggests readers hit the tip jar - um, if you can find the tip jar.

Ed Kilgore at New Donkey has kudos for Harry Reid and the current Democratic strategy to fight "the nuclear option". Sam Rosenfeld at Tapped says the really good news is that the Dems are weaving this together with other action, such as Louise Slaughter's report on rules changes and the attempt of hold Tom DeLay accountable for a full assault on GOP corruption.

The American Street has a spiffy new site design and are having a frivolous Friday. Check out Falling Reentlistment Rates Among Right Wing Pundits Threaten War on Terror by The Poor Man.

I'm sorry, but this really doesn't count as Lego stuff in my book.

I can't get this to play, but maybe you can. Let me know how it is. Via Bill.

This one works: Jon Stewart interviews Harry G. Frankfurt about his book, On Bullshit. Via The Node.
23:39 GMT


On the blog

HP started off on a Fortean project but couldn't finish it. Tsk.

Kos say Frank Luntz has responded to criticism of his playbook in the blogosphere, trying to pretend that there was nothing dishonorable about advising Republicans to evade the truth by exploiting 9/11.

Heart, Soul & Humor says there are glimmers of hope about more Democrats voting their conscience on throwing money at the occupation.

Gary Farber reports that, as expected, Andre Norton has died. I didn't really know her, but I'm grateful to her for that time that reading a bunch of books by Norton and Diana Wynne Jones got me out of a very bad mental state. (Trufen.net has more.)

Henry Waxman's fight against Bush administration Lysenkoism has taught Tsuredzuregusa a new word.

The American Indian Nation's gave Bush his Indian name: Walking Eagle. I missed this story last week but thanks to Travis for the alert.

Ever wonder what wealthy, liberal Machievellis have been wasting their resources on while the rest of democracy was going to pot? Well, maybe it was this. Yes, I can believe they were this stupid. I've never liked the campaign finance bill and it's always been obvious to me that this is the wrong target. Via NewsHog (and congratulations for getting rid of the orange).

The neat arrangement of links.

Jerry finds a fine example of the vast superiority of paid media over weblogs. No, wait, here's another - and what did they arrest this guy for?
20:03 GMT


In the press

Krugman says the appointment of Paul "the Iraq war will pay for itself" Wolfowitz to head the World Bank will turn it into The Ugly American Bank. All his reasons are good except for the fact that (a) the World Bank hasn't supported its original purpose in years, instead having already become a carrier of the Wolfowitz ideology, and (b) most other countries have already started to figure this out by now, which is why more and more of them are refusing their deals. No one who knows what the World Bank is doing has trusted them in decades. What the appointment of Wolfowitz really means is that people in the US who have paid attention to him so far now know what kind of person is running the World Bank.

Krauthammer has another grossly dishonest piece of junk at the WaPo, which for the most part is just too tiresome to even bother dissecting, but Jesse asked a good question about this quote: Those who claimed, with great certainty, that Arabs are an exception to the human tendency toward freedom, that they live in a stunted and distorted culture that makes them love their chains -- and that the notion the United States could help trigger a democratic revolution by militarily deposing their oppressors was a fantasy -- have been proved wrong. Jesse says we've heard this charge enough times that it's about time someone at least showed us the quote in which someone ever actually said such a thing. Atrios has found the culprit. That's right, it's only ever right-wingers who make claims like this, and in 1993, it was Charles Krauthammer.

I missed this one last week: The enemy within by Sidney Blumenthal on Bush's nominee as UN Envoy: In the heat of the battle over the Florida vote after the 2000 US presidential election, a burly, mustachioed man burst into the room where the ballots for Miami-Dade County were being tabulated, like John Wayne barging into a saloon for a shoot-out. "I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the count," drawled John Bolton. And those ballots from Miami-Dade were not counted.

I feel visible! Well, a bit, since I haven't gotten that many hits from it, which suggests that not all that many people have read Katha Pollit's Invisible Women, but it's still kinda neat to have been the only person to get a live link off of an article in The Nation about "Where are all the women?" that mentions a whole lotta bloggers who are better known than I am.
17:54 GMT


Barbarians in suits

Wow, I posted about Arthur Silber's reaction to two right-wingers yesterday, and when I came back last night, everyone was jumping all over the "respectable" one and his ode to torture-for-fun. I'm pleased to see it. Elton Beard summed the right-wing side up neatly. Billmon, Matt, and a number of others have all commented on the issue. Here's Digby:

This is awfully interesting, don't you think? How long has it been since we were talking about torture for the alleged higher purpose of obtaining information a suspect may or may not have? A couple of months? Yesterday? And now the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment has entered the dialog as well.

I have to agree with Roy Edroso on this one:

When critics say that radical professors have "a unique hostility toward Western traditional and commonsense attitudes," and that their "true raison d'etre is in practice nothing other than to destroy utterly whatever allegiance a young person might have to traditional conceptions in morality, religion, politics and culture," are they talking about this guy [Volokh]?
They should be. This kind of "moral intuition" coming from a law professor is a rejection of just about everything the West and particularly the enlightenment has been progressing toward for hundreds of years. He rejects empiricism, reason and logic for a primitive bloodlust that can only be described as barbaric.
From Uggabugga:
But we're happy to see law professor Volokh out there loudly trumpeting his views. Why? Because he has aspirations for getting on the California Supreme Court. The more Volokh is on the record advocating repulsive policies, the less likely he will ever make it to the bench.
And I'll direct you to read The Mahablog post in its entirety.

You can't help but marvel when you remember that these right-wingers, with their justifications of unnecessary war, mass killing of innocents, and open glorying in brutality, think they are the ones with some kind of monopoly on "morality". Jesus wept.
16:57 GMT


Sight & Sound

Anyone who says progressives aren't serious about issues related to the war really hasn't been paying attention. AAR, particularly Unfiltered, spend a lot of time talking to Iraq vets, have a member of Operation Truth on every Tuesday for their "Ask a Vet" feature, and right now have two anti-war progressives having a serious discussion of how we should actually deal with Iraq now that we are there. All the kinds of things you really talk about if you genuinely support the troops and want some kind of free democracy in Iraq.

See the trailer for Revenge Of The Sith. Via Amygdala. Also: Serenity is coming.

Oooh, my tongue thinks these are real pretty. Via SnarkAttack.
14:51 GMT


Thursday, 17 March 2005

Why I don't link to the "good" conservative weblogs

Arthur Silber's The Light of Reason is one of the more impressive contributions to the blogosphere in terms of humanistic sensibility and clear, passionate expression. I have him in the "Loyal Opposition" section on my blogroll because he has demonstrated (unlike Glenn Reynolds) that, while his base economic analysis may not agree with mine, he does believe, or want to believe, in the same America that I do. You can read hours of Silber without knowing that he's not an ordinary economic liberal - without guessing that he's a long-time Randian.

Jim Henley, whose official title is "Our Favorite Anti-Government Crank", is the sort of libertarian who really means it, which is why he didn't stop worrying and learn to love government abuse of power as soon Republicans took over the federal government. So he finds the Bush administration just as objectionable as I do.

But other, supposedly respectable, reasoned sites present what I still regard as the people who want to destroy America. Sure, I think they're naive about what their wishes would really result in, but to me they are the kind of people who present a real challenge in terms of maintaining a belief that even people whose dreams are our nightmares still deserve human rights. Some of them are people who talked a good libertarian game as long as Clinton was in the White House, but they've somehow managed to ignore the far more egregious destruction of civil liberties that has taken place under Bush, preferring to continue attacking liberals as the greater danger to America. Apparently, that habit pleased them more than defending civil liberties and opposing government abuse, and that's pretty much all they're really good for these days.

Arthur has found a really good example of one of the more extreme versions of putting hating liberals before any other concern, but as he also notes, you don't really have to go to the total nutbar sites to find watered-down hints of a similar sensibility that enables the more extreme versions. They might privately tut-tut over someone dedicating an entire post to cheering the second anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death, but in public you can be sure that the worst person they can find to attack is a relative unknown like Ward Churchill to whom they will actually give celebrity just because they can't bring themselves to critique a government that actually has the power and the will to effect the kind of oppressive change they claimed to have feared from Clinton - and a history of actually doing it. The simple fact is that it's pretty much impossible to take seriously the intellectual honesty of people who think the occasional college professor poses a more serious danger to freedom than a government that is in power right now and is in the process of turning the Bill of Rights into toilet paper.

PS. You don't really think your 2nd Amendment rights are going to last much longer if this goes on, do you?
16:14 GMT


Words & pictures

Kevin Drum on Lead babies: It turns out that "crack babies" are mostly a myth. On the other hand, "lead babies" are entirely real, and a substantial number of American children suffer from long-term exposure to lead that produces lower IQs and increased delinquent and violent behavior in adolescence. Rivka talks about why crack-baby stories were "more important" than stories about lead-babies.

Just how stupid is Alan Dershowitz, anyway?

Gene Lyons wants to send out a wake-up call: Many Democrats still don't grasp what they're up against in today's Republican Party.

Discover the Nutwork - because John Holbo had too much time on his hands. (via)

Atrios says they are probably going to use the privatization ploy on Amtrack. I told you how this works, yeah?

It's In There has lots of stuff, including some neat pictures.
03:34 GMT


Wednesday, 16 March 2005

Quick links

Kristof says Hillary gets it because she knows her place and is a waitress for the male Senators.

TBogg is being shorter. And he's right.
16:35 GMT


Stuff to check out

Now John Zogby is out shilling for cat-food accounts. Ever notice how when the Republicans are selling an issue, it's all about trying to turn Democrats into Republicans by conning them into identifying with people who are not anything like them? It's not about whether the programs themselves actually work for Americans, it's just about converting them away from being Democrats. Makes you wonder what they really think they're doing. Anyway, MahaBarb has the analysis, but I still can't figure out how many of these people are simply too short-sighted to realize where this is going, or if they actually want it that way.

John Podesta had an op-ed in the WP offering a suggestion of an alternative plan to the GOP on SS and the tax code. Big Media Matt looked at the actual proposal and says it looks pretty good, but I haven't given it much of a scan yet.

If you've missed the series on Left Behind over at Slacktivist, go catch up on it now.

Jack K. looks again at The Real Culture War that the Republicans have launched against the rest of us while claiming it's us waging warfare.

If Bipartisanship is Date Rape, do we need mace and a whistle, or something a little more convincing?

As always, great stuff at Pacific Views - check out this excellent David Horsey cartoon, read Natasha on The Illusion of Progress and Mary on Joe Biden's Bankrupt Vote. Natasha also furthers the idea that progressives need a press wire. The right-wing really already seems to have one, but we're better than they are, so why not? God knows the opening is there - the press hardly seems to have room for anything but reproducing press releases lately, so we should try to get them to print a few of ours instead of only printing the GOP's PR.

A neat picture
13:14 GMT


In Blogtopia

Skippy, who invented that word, reads the encyclopedia muldarscullia: Shakespeare's Sister brings up a good point: that actual facts are so rare a commodity in today's media, when someone attempts to dig for them, they are invariably labeled a tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist.

The John Bolton problem: My problem with you over the years is that you've been too competent . I would rather you be stupid and not very effective. Liberal Oasis reminds us that Biden once said that to Bolton's face, but seems to have forgotten that this guy is evil. Also, Debunking "Originalism" In 60 Seconds, or why Scalia is a dishonest creep.

A Sad and Shocking Milestone from Steeph: It doesn't sound like much, but I find it shocking nevertheless. The snow on mount Kilimanjaro (Kenia) is gone. It was there for 11.000 years. It was there when I visited Kenia in 1980. It was there four years ago when they predicted it would disappear in twenty years.

Bush in 30 Years - a Flash Contest To Stop The Republican Social Security Scam, with a little flash intro to the creatures who are pusing the scam. And yes, there is a little dog.

Middle Earth Journal is talking to itself about A lot of Bull at the DLC. The Sideshow, of course, takes the position that the only pro-life position is pro-choice.

I see Bennett Haselton isn't just good for serious stuff anymore. AutoDave! - The automated Dave Barry column generator.
01:10 GMT


Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Agents of Barbarism

I am awed by the purity and passion of David Podvin's painfully accurate Savagery at Make them Accountable:

Ann Coulter is not merely eighty pounds of toxic sewage wrapped in six feet of reptile skin - she is the vicious ghoul that remains after conservatism has been scrubbed of its camouflage. Satan's concubine has been vocal in her belief that torturing anyone identified as the enemy is good, and that torturing them using the most excruciating techniques is better. Coulter is not alone in the desire to feast on human suffering. Although she is considerably less circumspect than other right wingers, it is instructive that not one prominent conservative has repudiated her.

Invoking God and country, the Confederates who currently run the United States are striving to make Andersonville a global phenomenon. Since 9/11, Republicans have dispatched domestic agents and foreign surrogates to torture countless people on various continents. Unsurprisingly, the reprobates have not been content to torment their prey physically. Conservatives are implementing a policy to humiliate other human beings, shaming their victims in the vilest ways imaginable, apparently oblivious that the true shame of this outrage is being inflicted upon the United States. Our own pious moralists have disgraced America in the eyes of everyone who does not view savagery as a virtue.

Republicans say that world opinion is irrelevant, and to this limited extent they are correct: if every other nation approved of torture, it would still be totally indefensible.
[...]
When Coulter recently received a standing ovation from the Conservative Political Action Committee, it reaffirmed that those who attended - Bush administration big shots, congressional leaders, media elitists, and right wing activists - enthusiastically embrace her moonstruck worldview. Like her, they consider liberals to be enemies of the state. Like her, they believe that it is virtuous to torture enemies of the state.

Do read it all.
19:23 GMT

The big picture

I like the way Buzzflash has amended the headline for G.O.P. Rebellion Threatens to Derail Efforts to Adopt Budget with "Well, We Guess Rove Hasn't Threatened Them Yet With Blowing Off Their Knee Caps." It's sunsetting tax cuts for the rich versus spending restraints (which will probably hurt the middle-class and the poor instead), and I'm personally not all that hopeful about which side will win.

In our continuing series on the demise of America, Pride goeth before the great fall to China.

George F. Will's stupid idea is that older Americans should be happy to sell out their kids and grandkids for an illusory retirement that he thinks rightly only belongs to the upper classes anyway. Matt Yglesias uses much stronger language than usual to rip this one apart. Brad Plumer, guesting at Political Animal, adds more to the debate. Both generate interesting comment threads that I recommend. Meanwhile, Jonathan Chait is standing in for Josh Marshall while he runs off to get married, and is obsessing on the Social Security issue, so start here and work your way up.

Avery Ant is ranting about Bush.
17:48 GMT


Decline and fall

Charles Dodgson is continuing his series of "puzzlers" about how things that are supposed to be "good" are supposed to be good when, by god, they sure don't seem to be good. Today's question:

Here's another entry in my highly irregular series of economics puzzlers. This one will have more of a practical bent: Why is it interfering in trade when California tries to regulate toxic gasoline additives, but not when China pegs currency values?
[...]
Now, it is one thing to believe that trade is good; it is another to believe that trade has a kind of transcendent goodness which deserves this kind of support. Particularly when the trade agreements are silent on yet another government strategy for influencing trade: by manipulating the value of their currency relative to others. The Chinese government, for instance, has "pegged" the value of its currency, the renminbi, to the dollar, and is buying immense amounts of dollar-denominated securities (mostly treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities) to prop up the dollar. It is widely acknowledged that if they stopped doing this, the result would be that the prices of Chinese goods in the U.S. would rise, and the prices of American goods in China would fall. And that this is a deliberate goal of the policy. China, in effect, has made American goods artificially more expensive -- retarding trade every bit as much as a tariff -- while also, in effect, subsidizing its exports to America. Even better: neither the subsidy nor the tariff is subject to the trade rules of the WTO. Environmental regulations can be reviewed by trade boards; monetary policy, even though it has a far more pervasive influence on trade, cannot.
Charles says that the puzzler that's really making him crazy, though, is this one that he posted in January:
To summarize briefly, comparative advantage is the idea that the world economy as a whole is best off when each country does what that country is best at doing, even if some other country could do it better. And furthermore, that this situation naturally comes about by free trade.
Meanwhile, further points added to my original question can be found at The Stinging Nettle and An Age Like This, but while you're there do look at other good stuff on each of those sites, such as Susan's Moderate Republican Doesn't Like What He Sees in Today's Party and this amusing find by DrFrankLives.

Update: Just go to Scrutiny Hooligans, start at Dollar Catching Asian flu and read upwards through Give Generously, Reverend Rove, Pastor Bush, and Acolytes of Deceit Want to Lead Your Church, Hateful Propaganda (which is not only good, but has a remarkable photo), and List of Top 10 Democracies.
14:04 GMT


The silly op-ed page

Amanda discovers that David Brooks is a wimp.

So are George W. Bush and Maureen Dowd.

However.

Yes, yes, it's all true that a lot of guys are threatened by women with strong opinions, but a lot aren't, and in fact a lot of men are attracted to women who are smart and have confidence. But that's not what you do, Maureen. What you do is broadcast a certain pseudo-hip nihilistic ennui. You sneer a lot and concern yourself with trivia. Finally, when there's something that even you consider important enough to examine seriously, no one is going to trust you because you've spent too much time trying to pretend it's all a game. By now, it very nearly is.
01:17 GMT


Monday, 14 March 2005

Even more media media

Charles Dodgson (of Through the Looking Glass) writes to call attention to a buried lede in the NYT business article cited below:

On where newspaper subscribers are going, there's a really telling bit buried (like all telling bits in Times stories these days) towards the end of the Seelye piece. It's about the Spokesman Review of Spokane, Wash., which started charging for its web site precisely because they thought they were losing print subscribers to it. The upshot? Online page views cooled down significantly -- but the loss of print subscribers continued unabated.

I guess "the people who hire me fret endlessly about ineffective nonsolutions to a misconceived problem" doesn't work quite so well as a lede...

Sorta like the way I'd expect that if the RIAA got its wish and managed to abolish all free file-sharing of music, the best outcome they could hope for is that it made no change in sales - though I suspect what would really happen is that they'd actually lose CD sales.

An article I didn't link yesterday, also from the NYT, was "Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged TV News" - but Tom Tomorrow did, and a reader wrote back calling attention to an interesting sentence in the article:

The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them.
And then the reader's question:
Can this really be true? Are major networks receiving payments from the government for running gov't propaganda? This makes the Armstrong Williams case look like small potatoes.
I'm not holding my breath for the SCLM to get right on that, but it's really rather amazing that the NYT just buried that little item with no further explanation. That, by itself, should be headline news.

At Corrente, Leah asks, Where Is The Liberal Media When You Need Them? Part Infinity:

The question remains, where is that not very pesky MSM with it's relentless liberal bias we hear about endlessly? Yes, it's accepted by most Washington reporters with big enough names to appear on cable news that Bush's town hall meetings are stage-managed to within an inch of being Kabuki theatre, but where are the obvious questions that arise from that set of facts?

Who is paying for these elaborate appearances which criss-cross the nation? If it's the taxpayers, how is it right that Bush & co get to decide who gets in, who gets to ask questions? What kind of strong leader, as the President and his party like to portray him, is afraid of appearing before groups of American citizens unless said citizens have been pre-screened to insure that only those who can demonstrate abject personal loyalty to the President will be present.

Bush's propaganda operation is, of course, entirely illegal, and the newsmedia has shrugged it off as if we just shouldn't care. Using our taxpayer-employed Secret Service to that end (which the administration certainly has been doing, if not in precisely the instance in question), is absolutely out of order, too. As Leah remembers for us, that kind of casual acceptance certainly didn't seem to exist when Bill Clinton held (real) "townhall" type meetings that the media attacked so thoroughly as "campaigning" that eventually he gave up holding them at all. And if Clinton had tried to get away with using the Secret Service to prevent anyone from having a public hearing, we all would have heard and heard and heard about.

And, yes, kudos indeed to The Flypaper Theory for continuing to pursue important questions that the rest of the media is sleeping on.
20:12 GMT


Media media

The NYT has two articles about the relationship between the Internet and newspapers, one on the business end and one on the news/process issue. The business story is Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?, where Katharine Seelye wonders why consumers are willing to spend money buying music online, but not buying newspapers online - and whether that can be changed.

The problem, of course, is that the NYT appears to be losing subscribers to the Internet. I wonder if it's entirely true that that's where their subscriptions are going, though. Oh, I'm sure plenty of people have opted out of fighting with the paper boy and paying for the privilege when they know they can read the "paper" online at work instead. But I remember that my father, who was never on the Internet in the first place, cancelled his subscription to The Washington Post in the end because the paper had become, frankly, crap. The NYT has been doing much the same, reporting spin rather than news, and most of it right-wing spin at that. That doesn't sound like a great way to appeal to the New York market. (Same story in DC - why has the newspaper for a city that has a black female majority become such a mouthpiece for anti-liberal spin?)

Liberal Bloggers Reaching Out to Major Media is, predictably, in the technology section, even though it's not really a technology story. That's just one of the many ways the NYT does this thing - back during the Clinton administration, those articles that marvelled over the wonderful way the Internet was being used by the right with their instant talking points and blast-faxes appeared in the political pages. So here we have an article about how Bob Fertik of Democrats.com has been putting BlogCall together to create some direct communication between the mainstream media and blog activists on the left, and it is strangely not up there in the political stuff.
17:12 GMT


Hotlinks for lunch

Not sure what to make of this, but it's been bugging me for the last few years that housing prices have been pushed up far above what most people could afford at the same salaries not that long ago. And it's plain to me that being that over-extended is a seriously high risk for anyone. Things like this scare the life out of me and I'm sure glad we bought our house before all this started.

Newsweak discovers the "Why are all the bloggers white boys?" question. Oh, no! (Everybody send him this link.)

Seth Finkelstein says that a site that opposes No Child Left Behind is filtered by censorware.

Jack Balkin wonders whether polarization feeds blogospheric cacooning or vice versa.

Scoobie Davis has found an animated version of Jack Chick's "This Was Your Life".

The 2003 Harbin Snow and Ice Festival - some really breathtaking stuff. (via)
13:16 GMT


Why we need cheering up


Time for some friendly lingerie....

I would like to think this is just another manifestation of August J. Pollak's fine sense of humor. But never mind that, this post adds to an interesting rumination (that starts with Yglesias, then Brad Plumer, and then Ezra) about that alternate universe in which Al Gore was in the White House on 9/11. A lot of interesting things are said, but I think Pollak is right, with special attention to that last paragraph. And recall that Al Gore is extremely unlikely to have ignored all those warnings in the first place. September 11th of 2001, in that case, is just another sunny day in New York, and Barbara Olsen is still saying horrible things about Democrats today, and her husband is still trying to figure out how to get Gore impeached, even though nothing interesting has happened.

Meanwhile, your Talking Dog joins in on the discussion of the decline of America. It's always the economy, stupid.
01:27 GMT


Sunday, 13 March 2005

Open windows

Jeralyn at TalkLeft has more about how I am no longer under the protection of my government. I feel all orphaned. But then, I guess I was already feeling that way....

One of Josh Marshall's readers sent a message that you should all copy and mail to your Democratic reps: As Chait wrote in the TNR - the notion that Democrats will pay a political price for stopping an unpopular program is utter lunacy - but the GOP with the help of the Beltway pundit class are pushing this line. Could people like Harry Reid and Joe Biden really believe this?

At A Level Gaze, David Yaseen is on the track of the Attack of the Imaginary Naysaying Racists.

Dept. of They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore: The Devil and Miss Jones considered
23:53 GMT


Once around the block

Newsfare has a couple more posts on the demise of our way of life, Next, A Restructured World, and From the Wilderness, following up The Definition of Peak Oil: The definition of Peak Oil is that you can't produce any more. Today Algeria's Energy Minister, Chakib Khelil, has publicly stated, in advance of next week's OPEC meeting, that the oil producing organization's member countries cannot, in fact, produce any more. Like it says, scary times.

Silt³ tells us where we can learn to write like conservatives. (Thanks to Hugo of Hugo Zoom for the heads-up.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden has been posting more lately, and wants to know why this ad is supposed to be a great anti-drug message. But also see the more substantive Full text blogging piece on necessary rituals.

None of your clever wonking matters if we still can't count the votes. So be prepared.

Garance Franke-Ruta replies to Powerline. (via)

World O'Crap notes that the names Dick and George are among the five least popular boys' names lately. And in the comments, someone notes that this Baby Name Wizard tracks the popularity of names over the decades from the 1900s.
20:09 GMT


Support the troops?

Amanda at Mouse Words is writing about Class and warfare, and this caught my eye:

Yesterday I was standing in line at 7-11 and sort of idly looking at the green "Support Our Troops" wristbands and I noticed that the box they were in said, "Until they come home." Meaning, I guess, wear the band until the troops return. And it made me sad to think about all the people who have purchased one of these bands and earnestly wear them until certain loved ones return from Iraq. To wear such a thing is to have faith that the troops will be coming home soon, that there is an end in sight and that the Shrub has good intentions with his war and will see to it that there is an end. But odds are the plan on the BushCo table is that once they can take enough troops out of Iraq, they will just invade another country, most likely Iran. The troops, in other words, aren't coming home.
Of course, I had a different reaction to this, because I found the phrase "until they come home" shocking in that context. But it's what they did after Vietnam, isn't it? The minute the war was over we heard no more of supporting the troops; now it was all about withdrawing whatever support they had had, gutting the VA, smearing veterans as a bunch of psychopaths and leaving an extraordinary number of them homeless. This time they're not even waiting 'til they come home. (But then, if they really supported the troops, they wouldn't treat them like mere tools to send off to unnecessary wars, would they?)

I'm for supporting the troops when they get home, too - by making sure that the facilities we've developed over the years fulfill their promise to them, and by doing our best to make them feel welcome back in the civilian community.

(And thanks to Snow-moon for bringing that particular paragraph to my attention.)
15:34 GMT


This proves things

Just in case you were thinking they were trying to protect artists or anything:

Labels seek to block Altnet revenue-share

Record labels have asked an Australian court to block peer-to-peer company Altnet's ad-revenue-sharing program.

Altnet said earlier this week that it would share advertising dollars from Kazaa parent Sharman Networks with any record labels that agreed to sell music through its peer-to-peer networks. Record labels, which are suing Sharman Networks in Australia, are now asking a judge to block distribution of those advertising revenues.

Could it be any more plain that it's the recording industry, and not file-sharers, who are trying to game the system?
13:51 GMT

In the soup

How long have the "sensible" Dems in Congress been lying down on the job? Read Wolcott and weep: Reagan's approval numbers dropped to 47%, and the Democrats have a huge majority in the House to stop this pillaging. Do they? No, the bipartisan, balm-spreading spirit of majority leader Tip O'Neill prevails.

Bérubé continues on Horowitz watch with a vision of a better world. Maybe Julie Saltman's Just another soldier in the war against heteronormativity is a good companion piece for that.

I'm too tired to say anything about the impending retirement of my Senator, except that I couldn't help thinking, "Hey, maybe Alan Keyes will run for his seat!" At least it's the right state for a change.

The NYT has an article on Bush's propaganda machine. Potemkin ranch, Potemkin press conferences, Potemkin news. Oh, yeah, Potemkin elections, too.

And a bunch of links from The Heretik.

Oh, no! I've run out of blackberry tea!
03:18 GMT


Everybody's talkin'

Nicholas Kristof has a nightmare, and it's that the public is no longer interested in environmentalism because environmental activists are seen as "extremists". As Dave Johnson points out, that's just what Rush Limbaugh tells us to think of the issue. But the fact is that in spite of the campaign to vilify the environmental movement, the vast majority of Americans still do think the environment is a vital issue and don't think ill of people who care about it.

Hudson at Daily Kos has written a post called Framing vs. Fencing: A post-Lakoff analysis that has been a popular discussion topic around the liberal blogosphere for the last couple of days:

SUBTITLE: Some limitations of Lakoff's "framing," and the evolving Republican strategy to fence voters off from Democratic ideas, leaders and values -- before the debate even begins
Or, basically, calling the other kid a fag so your pals will know not to hang out with him.

Naturally, I'm going to tell you to have a look at Digby's take on it, appropriately called High School Confidential.

Meanwhile, in The Washington Post, E.J. Dionne has had a Kool-Aid day, and claims the GOP has something to teach Democrats about abortion. Atrios quite rightly takes him to task for floating what is essentially a right-wing meme and definitely ahistorical, but Max says it's a point well taken that candidates "who are soft on choice are threatened with the nuclear option, while those who betray working people and minorities in 57 other ways get over if they pass all the pro-choice litmus test questions" from pro-choice women's groups. They're both right.
00:46 GMT


Saturday, 12 March 2005

Feedback loops

Since I don't have comments here (I'm thinkin' about it, but I'm still just thinkin' about it), I thought I'd point you to other people who posted on my latest masterpiece who do have comments, because some of them are getting interesting responses - like at Blah3 and Suburban Guerrilla - and some are making further interesting comments of their own. Through the Looking Glass and This Space for Rent each have a comment facility, though no one has commented yet. Deborah doesn't actually have a comments function, but she has some good comments of her own.

I bring this up because the destruction of America is a seriously important subject that I often feel some people just don't take seriously enough. Go forth and cross-fertilize, people.

And also in response to that post, Phil Palmer has recommend two articles, the first of which is Off Track by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in The Washington Monthly, which addresses our economic downfall from another angle, and I still can't say for certain that his view - that Washington doesn't notice - is naive, but I'm really beginning to doubt it. Can the people who are doing this, who have been fighting to destroy Social Security since its inception, really have no idea what they're doing? Can they not know that investment in the infrastructure is necessary to maintaining the system? When Roosevelt proposed SS, they swore it wouldn't work, but seeing it work for decade on decade did not stop them from trying to defeat it. Why? They know it works, so what are they up to? What about the people who knew perfectly well why SS was introduced, what a disaster this country suffered without it? I still think the most depressingly cynical view is the true one: These Rolls-Royce Republican cheap-labor conservatives are just trying to turn back the clocks to the days when it wasn't "so hard to get good help." That's what that comment at Blah3 says: "America's only industry is serving the wealthy."

But it does seem to me that some people in Washington - mostly Democrats - simply don't believe what's in front of their own eyes, and maybe that's who the article should really be addressed to. The author of the piece is one of those people, though - those who still believe conservatives are acting in good faith to preserve the American Dream rather than return us to the plantation.

The other article Phil recommends is a good take-down of yet another abysmal mistake from The Cabbage. Timothy Burke's At the Checkpoint takes a serious look at the casual and inept defense of Wolfowitz that Brooks and others make, and it goes deep. Wolfowitz is another of those people who really, really believes you can create this kind of top-down "freedom" at the point of a gun, and like most of his defenders, studiously turns a blind eye to history.

Perhaps the most important factor they ignore is that America sprang from the loins of a culture that was slowly moving toward the kind of freedoms the Founders eventually adopted, but ultimately it was far too slowly, and the luck of history and a new and unexploited continent made it all possible. And I have no doubt that the existence of the America they created had a lot to do with making such a form of government increasingly possible elsewhere. But as that America has begun to crumble, so has that possibility for the nations that had haltingly been moving in that direction. And, at the same time, the Bush administration's most odious anti-democratic methods are beginning to leach out, as last night's hideous charade in Parliament demonstrated. This is a people who once looked to us as a shining example of the advancement of freedom, who took their cues from us, who pointed to us, their beacon, and tried to follow. For the last several years I have instead heard the British government point eastward to rationalize the decline of Britain's freedoms, as "even the Americans" are abolishing this right, infringing on that one, tearing up understandings that have been part of this culture since Magna Carta.

Burke rightly savages the right-wing's willingness to accept barbarous behavior in Iraq in the name of "freedom", but fails to see where the conservative leadership has taken a callous view toward freedom at home, as well. The double-standard isn't just for export, it has its roots at home. We should watch carefully when rights are watered down until they are meaningless, always in the name of "safety" or "order".

If America cannot uphold the standard of freedom, it cannot teach it. And that is perhaps the greatest tragedy. We can only hope that others who have carried the banner will take the torch in our stead.
18:45 GMT


Recommended

Oh My God at Bats Left Throws Right, in which Doghouse Riley explains what's wrong with Amy Sullivan's approach to religion and politics. Via Majikthise.

The next time you hear about health care and tort reform... at Blah3, about the kind of case that makes you glad those trial lawyers are out there. And in case you missed it, check out the story that led a Republican to say, "Never vote for Republicans again -- we lie." Well, almost. (And why is Bush unwilling to speak even in Katherine Harris' district?)

Blogorrhoea on Karl Marx and the family value.

Newshog (and The Unpaid Punditry Corps) on a plan to accompany carrots with sticks for those elective officials who vote for evil. And this.

Skimble responds to George Bush's statement that, "When I was 22, I don't remember anybody saying to me, you better worry about Social Security." (And if my father had been filthy rich, I doubt anyone would have mentioned it to me, either.)

Apparently, Gates thought this ad was too risque, but I just thought it was funny. Via Epicycle.

Susan found some neat things to play with. I've always wanted something like this.
03:31 GMT


Nudge, nudge

Every now and then I check Technorati for my old address to see which slackers haven't updated my link yet. And today's winners are:

Iddybud, Best of the Blogs, Planet Swank, Just a Bump in the Beltway, The American Street, Lost in Media, Blue Grass Roots, The Goddess, Random Thoughts.

And yes, if I've failed to notice your change of address, or if you've just noticed a dead link on my blogroll, feel free to nudge me, too.
01:04 GMT


Friday, 11 March 2005

Media stuff

Dept. of Changing Times: NYT "public editor" Daniel Okrent is leaving the paper for a fellowship at Harvard. Wonder who they'll get to replace him. Meanwhile, Frank Rich, who was shuffled off to the Arts & Leisure section a few years back, is now returning to the Op-Eds.

Bloggers are apparently on the march but not yet in the big leagues. Kevin Drum can't figure out why the Gallup survey shows more liberals and more people under 65 are reading blogs. Now, let me think....

Mind Hacks at Foyles - I'll probably forget by the 23rd, but there it is. (Thanks, Neil.)
23:54 GMT


Stolen election - but don't just believe me

OK, you don't want to listen to me because I'm obviously one of those left-wing, Bush-hating, partisan Demoncrats. So let's find someone more credible, despite the amount he drinks. Just to show you how partisan this Bush-loving hack is, let's establish his credentials:

I am not any sort of statistician or technologist, and (like many Democrats in private) I did not think that John Kerry should have been president of any country at any time.
Given the quality of what has been occupying the White House for the last four years, you'd have to be pretty deep into the Bush-worshipping Kool-Aid to think that Kerry looks bad as a potential president. So, now that we have the bonafides in order, let's see the rest of that paragraph:
But I have been reviewing books on history and politics all my life, making notes in the margin when I come across a wrong date, or any other factual blunder, or a missing point in the evidence. No book is ever free from this. But if all the mistakes and omissions occur in such a way as to be consistent, to support or attack only one position, then you give the author a lousy review. The Federal Election Commission, which has been a risible body for far too long, ought to make Ohio its business. The Diebold company, which also manufactures A.T.M.s, should not receive another dime until it can produce a voting system that is similarly reliable. And Americans should cease to be treated like serfs or extras when they present themselves to exercise their franchise.
And that concludes Ohio's Odd Numbers in the new Vanity Fair, in which Christopher Hitchens recounts the reasons to believe that, "Whichever way you shake it, or hold it to the light, there is something about the Ohio election that refuses to add up."

Via Amygdala.
19:36 GMT


Blogissimo

Your weblog to read today is Fables of the reconstruction, which is following the hot story of the Baby Jesus pretzel and wonders if there has been a Chilling Effect of Lynne Stewart Conviction, as well as quoting something good from Attaturk.

And Bradford Plumer is good, too, with, among other things, a proposal to try to convince Dems not to vote for crappy bills.

Suburban Guerrilla, always a favorite, wonders why Terry Schiavo's "Christian" advocates are trying to prevent her from reaching the afterlife. Oh, and what don't they want you to know about FEMA disbursements?

Chuck Dupree has an interesting post on those libertarians who still haven't figured it out about conservative lies.

Just in case there is anyone left who thinks that Crybaby Bob Casey was prevented from speaking at the 1992 Democratic Convention because he is anti-choice, Dave at Seeing the Forest debunks again.

The President Has Never Seen A Crisis He Hasn't Created! "He's right, we are the party of NO. No, we will not let you drive seniors further into poverty. No, we will not let you starve Medicaid. No, we will not let you give more tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class." And: Republicans consistently vote as if Retirement Security should be reserved for only the very wealthy in America.

The Rubik hypercube applet makes a fun cursor toy even if I can't do much else with it. (via)
18:46 GMT


It takes a pillage

After a while those questions at the back of your mind start bubbling up to the point where you start addressing them to others - usually just at the point where you think you might know the answer. The question I've had for the last several months has been this one:

Where are Bush and his corporate cronies planning to live once they finish asset-stripping the United States?
When I talk about how they are asset-stripping us, I'm not just talking about things like the bankruptcy bill and other more obvious policies that isolate the United States (such as alienating the UN and forcing Europe to take a containment position toward America), I'm also looking at the way they've been moving both military and industrial intelligence to other nations, chiefly China. Out-sourcing means more than just giving your job to some guy in China; it means that while the Chinese are learning to do your job, Americans are not.

This doesn't appear to be a short-term project. As you may recall, two Bush administrations have been engaged in handing over our top-secret technology to the Chinese. When some of this started to come out during the Clinton administration, the right-wingers on the Internet made sure to blame this on Clinton and obscure the fact that it had happened in the '80s rather than during the then-current administration. And some people still have their suspicions about the handling of the spy-plane incident early in the first GWB term that gave the Chinese access to our military technology.

Of course, I've been worried for a long time about the very idea that the United States can survive as a "service economy". The minute I heard this theory floating around I thought something was up, because surely no one who understands how money works, and how economies have always worked, could believe it would be a good idea to convert your national economy to one which doesn't actually produce anything. And yet, all over the so-called liberal media, I could see this idea actually being embraced! What the hell was going on?

Well, I guess it's just the plan. They aren't even trying to hide it anymore, they're just trying to put in the finishing touches as fast as they can before we have a chance to stop them from running off with our family jewels.

And now I read Turning Chinese by Paul Craig Roberts:

The US has apparently lost the ability to create high productivity, high value-added jobs in tradable goods and services. The ladders of upward mobility are being dismantled by offshore production for home markets and outsourcing of knowledge jobs.

The BLS reports that the number of employed US technical workers has fallen by 221,000 in six major computer and engineering job classifications during 2000-2004. The largest drops were suffered by computer programmers, followed by electrical and electronics engineers, computer scientists and systems analysts.

So much for the new economy that economists promised would take the place of the lost manufacturing economy.

America's remaining job market is domestic nontradable services. While India and China develop first world job markets, the US labor market takes on the characteristics of a third world work force. Only jobs that cannot be outsourced are growing.

America is turning into one of those "exotic" places you go to for your vacation. That's what "service economy" means. Just one great big giant tourist trap, full of desperate people hustling for tips.
How bad will things have to get before economists realize that outsourced jobs are not being replaced? Indeed, many American companies are ceasing to have any presence in the US except for a sales force.

Cisco's CEO, John Chambers, declared recently: "What we're trying to do is outline an entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company."

Tom Street at Bad Attitudes says:
Chambers is just being honest about what all the major corporations are doing. It's not just the brawn. It's the brains and the heart that are being outsourced. Doesn't this just make the debate about social security akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic? Can't say I wish I were in my 20s about now.
Paul Craig Roberts wondered when economists would notice this was going on, but can they really not know? Or aren't they all just in on the joke?

The other question I really, really wish would be asked in every pundit interview is this:

What have they promised you for helping them destroy our country?
You can aim that question not just at the Republicans and their more obvious shills, but at most of the media and of course at the DLC. Maybe that's the real letter-writing campaign we should be launching.

Update: Charles Dodgson informs us that it's even worse than I thought.
14:45 GMT


A few more things

An Extraordinary Act Of Black Tolerance? That Colored Fella says Louis Farrakhan has announced that he wants gay people to join in this October at the 10th anniversary Million Man March. That's actually rather amazing.

Get Rid Of The DLC warns that the New Democrats Network is just what the DLC is calling itself these days, which is why they are supporting creepy things like private accounts and the bankruptcy bill.

It is a horrifying fact that the best choice in the next general election in the UK is to vote for the LibDems. Not that I think they'll win or anything, but they're still the best choice. This is how bad it is. (via)
04:02 GMT


Thursday, 10 March 2005

The Dan Rather thing

Greg Palast says I'd Rather Not Say Good-Bye, Dan:

Talking to another reporter, Dan told it straight about the careerism that keeps US reporters in line. "It's that fear that keeps [American] journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to continue to bore-in on the tough questions so often."

Silence as patriotism. He admitted, "One finds oneself saying, `I know the right question, but you know what, this is not exactly the right time to ask it." It was making him ill and he was ready to say, basta, enough. Suddenly, there was fire in those eyes.

"It's extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted and I'm sorry to say that, up to and including this moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the American people. And the current Administration revels in that, they relish and take refuge in that."

Of course, Dan said all these things to a British audience. But back in the USA, Dan had promised America he would be a good boy, a trained press puppy who would poop on the paper set down for him. He told his US audience, "George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions. He wants me to line up, just tell me where."

But CBS' million-dollar man was about to step out of line.

Walter Cronkite, however, says Bob Schieffer should have been given this gig years ago: "He is, to my mind, the man who, quite frankly -- although Dan did a fine job -- I would like to have seen him there a long time ago. He would have given the others a real run for their money."

As things currently stand, though, it's not clear that anyone would have been given the freedom to be a good reporter.
17:00 GMT


Things to see

Vivid Sun Dog Pair

For more cheery visuals, A Sun Halo Over Tennessee, Lunar Halo and Cloud Layers, Las Vegas Sunset Corona, and some may-not-be-work-safe sculpture.

It can't happen here: Looking back on their history during the 20th Century, conservatives don't have a lot to be proud of.

What do we tell the children?: Standing in front of me in the queue at the supermarket this morning was a little girl and her mother. The girl was about six and as she helped her mum unload the trolley she said, "Mom, why is Alberto Gonzales such a fucking liar?"

Plush Face Hugger and Chest Burster from Alien (via)
14:39 GMT


Three subjects

I'm stunned. Nicholas Kristof has finally noticed the American Taliban. He even calls the piece Homegrown Osamas. I wonder how long this moment of awareness will last.

Grannyinsanity calls it the Firebombing and Loansharking Protection and Advocacy Act of 2005. That's as good as any of the other names I've heard for it. There's nothing stopping it, now. Tom Burka: GOP To Make Law Giving Everyone's Money To The Rich. Most painful commentary is this photo essay at The American Street.

Lawyers, Guns and Money has a prime example of "most all of what's wrong with American journalism" in a single sentence. (Via Bitch. Ph.D.)
01:45 GMT


Wednesday, 09 March 2005

Latest hits

David Sirota, having no patience left for the right-wingers who claim to speak for the Democratic Party, says Stop Crying, Start Shaking...And Dems Will Start Winning: Believe me - you should see the email I've gotten for having the nerve to point out that the Democratic Leadership Council and the New Republic are making their name these days reinforcing conservative's dishonest stereotypes, and shamelessly attacking the Democratic Party. (via)

I've had a lot of fun reading Tapped the last couple days, partly because of the bit about Lieberman called Staying On (The Other Guy's) Message and especially because of Jeffrey Dubner's post on the revival of creepy judicial nominees in which he refers to Evil Bill Frist as Kim Jong Bill. (Follow-up here.)

The White Rose Society is now archiving the Blogcall events.

I'm quoted in this Wired article, and I might have a few quotes in tonight's Banned in the UK on C4 around 11:00 PM.
20:41 GMT


Eureka!

Mark Kleiman has an elegant solution for Democrats looking for a nuclear option of our own:

Here's a modest proposal: instead of just whining about the Republicans' unprincipled power grabs, the Democrats should retaliate.

Fortunately, we have an excellent opportunity: change the California Constitution to elect the entire California Congressional Delegation as a bloc.

California is about as solidly "blue" as a state can be in national elections. But of its 52 Members of Congress, 20 are Republicans. Move those 20 votes into the Democratic column, and we get to organize the House. (Just imagine the oversight hearings.)

Just think, you'd get rid of the whole problem of gerrymandering and be able to fight back, hold hearings, and go after Enron at last. (via)
18:58 GMT

30 pieces of silver

A post at the Unfiltered blog by AlanSmithee provides some info from Opensecrets.org:

Check it out. This is the price of your representative's cloture vote:

Finance/Credit Companies -

Biden-DE; $173,575
Carper-DE; $209,552
Johnson-SD; $112,400
Kohl-WI; (Self financed)
Landrieu-LA; $54,475
Lieberman-CT; $23,250
Lincoln-AR; $25,250

Commercial Banks

Byrd-WV; $32,500
Carper-DE; $187,867
Conrad-ND; $73,150
Johnson-SD; $237,477
Lieberman-CT; $90,782
Nelson-FL; $97,050
Nelson-NE; $105,868
Pryor-AR; $56,646

Notice that Lieberman's soul went dirt-cheap.
16:49 GMT

Frog a la Peche

Der Spiegel reports that Neo-Nazis can now be called "terrorists". In Germany, but not in the US, where the American Taliban is on the ascendance, as The Los Angeles Times points out: The reactions are remarkably similar. In the Arab Middle East and Iran, the response is an insistence on the establishment of Islamic law as the basis for political life; in the United States, school districts assert religious over scientific theory in biology class, tax dollars are going to the faith-based, and the Ten Commandments are a putative founding document.

David Schlesinger in the IHT on The reality behind 'Easongate': I don't want the controversy over Eason Jordan's remarks to counteract his important contribution to keeping journalists safe. I want all combatants to recognize the important, objective role journalists play as noncombatants.

Max has a better list of Dems who "Voted to let the rotten bankruptcy bill come to floor, where it will pass," and it's longer than the one I posted earlier: Biden (DE), Byrd (WV), Carper (DE), Conrad (ND), Johnson (SD), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Salazar (CO), Stabenow (MI). But also read Max on the what he calls the "Disownership Society" in Serfs Up, which makes a few ugly points about what we can now look forward to.

Americablog is still recovering from what appears to have been some sort of DOS attack, or maybe just too much popularity for the first episode or their DemsTV political game show. I watched it; it's okay for a first effort.
14:28 GMT


We are the center

Bill Scher has a good column up on Government: What The People Want that confirms once again that the majority of Americans share our liberal values. He cites the results of a 2003 study of Americans' idea of what the role of government is, and what do you know...?

-- Protecting the environment: 93% (69% strongly)

-- Keeping tabs on and regulating big corporations and powerful individuals who may abuse their position and hurt others in society: 92% (71% strongly)

-- Ensuring equal opportunity for everyone: 88% (67% strongly)

-- Guaranteeing a quality public education 87% (70% strongly)

-- Guaranteeing all have health care insurance: 79% (60% strongly)

-- Making sure no one lives in poverty: 76% (49% strongly)

-- Helping people not fall back when they face a crisis, become unemployed or face big health care, college costs or retirement costs: 75% (40% strongly)

What those numbers say is that even the DLC is part of the right-wing fringe. They're part of the same moneyed elite as the Republicans, standing in the way of the goals of the overwhelming majority of Americans.
02:33 GMT

Keeping score

Ryan Spear at the special bankruptcy section of Talking Points Memo on who voted for cloture and thus prevented a filibuster of the Moral Bankruptcy bill:

Speaking of which, the Credit Card Corps certainly earned their money today: Senators Tom Carper (D-Delaware), Joe Biden (D-Delaware), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) and Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) all voted for cloture. Long-time fence-sitters Senators Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) also got in the act, as did someone we thought was a Consumer Champion: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

Not a single Republican voted against cloture.

None of this means we're done fighting. Stay tuned.

Folks from those states are thinking, "Primary challenge!" right now, yeah? Do it. Start now.
01:03 GMT

Tuesday, 08 March 2005

Blogger's notebook

Eli at Left I on the News looks at The not-so-well-known opposition to the war in Iraq - the black churches have a unified position, but the media aren't saying much about it.

"Either You're With Us Terrorists Or You're With Them Terrorists..." at A Mockingbird's Medley, and a pointer to Poisonous Legacy.

Judy Woodruff at Inside Politics has been doing a feature called "Inside the Blogs" for the last couple-few weeks, and Skippy has noticed a preponderance of right-wingers getting a mention. He wrote to complain and suggested a small number of weblogs she could add from the left-blogosphere, and had a partial result. Write to Judy Woodruff and tell her about some good weblogs she could bring up on her show.

Krugman comes right out and says the bankruptcy bill, like the other Republican programs, is all part of a coherent larger pattern to create The Debt-Peonage Society.

Jonathan Dresner wrote to recommend a piece I missed last month called Electronic Voting - reform now or never!
21:18 GMT


Stuff I saw

Josh Marshall is doing a Special Bankruptcy Edition of TPM with numerous guests doing sections on the subject. It's actually more interesting and accessible than it might sound. Recommended.

A History of the Bush Administration in One Sentence by William Rivers Pitt, and Watching America where you can Discover What the World Thinks About U.S. (via)

Eva Whitley has been posting a bunch of links to Jack Chalker-related sites and remembrances.
13:09 GMT


Monday, 07 March 2005

Assorted nuts

The left re-categorized - Bérubé has an important update on his earlier report on how Horowitz has categorized the wild and crazy left. For example, Affective Leftists like Katie Couric and George Clooney, Moderate Leftists like Tom Brokaw and Chris Matthews, or more hardcore Leftists like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Talbot. No, I am not making these up.

Kung Fu Monkey gets geeky: And Warren reviews the new Doctor Who. I am giddy. I once dressed like the Tom Baker Doc for Halloween as a kid. Okay, in college. Okay, on my wedding night. Fine. Ellis: "As Rich Johnston said to me tonight, it's your actual English family sci-fi show." (Oh, you can go see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Movie Trailer. I couldn't get KFM's link to work, so I found a different one.)

Duncan Campbell: The woman who epitomised the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution that overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza has been denied entry to the US to take up her post as a Harvard professor on the grounds that she had been involved in "terrorism". Via Name This Thing.

The Crackers (Thanks to John Bogan for the tip!)
23:59 GMT


Blog wisdom

Herr Goebbals would be so proud, says Maru, reporting on Fox's use of someone who appears to be a professional anti-UN activist to write (surprise!) an anti-Kofi Annan "article".

Charles Dodgson has a very nice round-up of recent doings among our Republican overlords. And here, "There will never be a clearer display of the difference between doing what's right-wing, and doing what's right."

Fred Clark doesn't come right out and say that the legalized usury bill is unChristian, but he does suggest it is "Moral bankruptcy". And he also, in recommending this Eric Boehlert piece, hints that the right-wing attempt to destroy the credibility of the mainstream press sounds...familiar.

Gary Farber is also on the risk-redistribution story, with Big Business Wins, You Lose.

Suggestion for Fortean Times: Report on Competitive suicides.

Buz Busby remembered in Seattle.
18:43 GMT


Afternoon headlines

U.S. Drops Abortion Issue at U.N. Conference is The Washington Post story down-playing the fact that the US was roundly booed for trying to push its anti-choice position. I have the impression the US press is either uninterested in or ignorant of just what a big deal that is - it's pretty damned rare to get that kind of reaction in UN conference. (Via UN Dispatch.)

Right-wing Lieberman sidling up to Bush on Social Security is not the headline the NYT gave this story because they drink Kool-Aid. Write to the Times and ask them if "centrist" means the mainstream center or just whatever the Republicans say it is. My current dream is to have Lowell Weicker challenge him in the primary as a Democrat. (Anyone got contact details for him? A love-letter campaign would be nice.)

Many Missteps Tied to Delay in Armor for Troops in Iraq - you know how furious it makes me that the administration has been so callous about wasting the lives of our troops. I really think they believe these people are just chumps who deserve to be treated as no more than cannon fodder. Via Corrente, with the appropriate title, Supporting the War, Not The Warrior.

White House Approves Pass for Blogger - this story seems to be of interest mainly to the right-blogosphere so far, judging by Memeorandum. I don't really know much about the weblog in question, FishbowlDC, but the history of attempts to get the pass are chronicled and now we have the first official blogpost from inside the press gaggle: CBS' John Roberts asks about Social Security. ABC's Ann Compton asks about the shooting of the Italian journalist on Friday. Other reporters ask about Syria and Lebanon. Northern Ireland. One last question. "Thanks." And McClellan's out at 10:08 a.m. The room immediately explodes in activity as reporters race back to call in whatever news out of the gaggle means the most to them. Nothing so far about the answers to those questions.
17:19 GMT


Blogs to check out

Anger Management Course, where, along with seeing some neat images on the sidebar, you can learn how Wal-Mart treats associates right. Also, Gordon's been doing some Christo blogging - and I hadn't been aware of those two projects before.

Rad Geek People's Daily, which got my name backwards but told me about the next entry, which is:

Cool Beans, the weblog of former Alas, a Blog contributor Bean, who notifies us that Alas has been taken down by its provider due to being too popular or something - wait, that sounds familiar! - and Ampersand is still trying to figure out what to do, I guess.

T.Rex's Guide to Life, where a popular right-wing argument is raised. I get hit with it often, too, and it's totally phony - you know, the one where anything that expands the size or expenditure of government is supposedly "liberal" so we should love it? Gaah! Go discuss.

Rob's Blog on Being Donald Rumsfeld and whether he (and we) have committed war crimes.

Excuse the mess... that was just my head, which reports on why Clinton's a class act and jackass politics in California.

And here's another sexually-oriented weblog that I found because it quoted me. (This is driving me crazy - I can remember saying it, but I can't remember where I said it.)
16:27 GMT


Web notes

Semidi says Republicans are Revolting: Since December, American governors have united to fight the admininstration's education and healthcare policies, and the GOP-controlled Congress joined-in. I suspect that those Republicans who are starting to behave as if they have a conscience may have hoped the voters would do the job for them last November, but since the loony right has remained in control of Washington, they realize they are going to have to take the responsibility themselves.

Rising Hegemon: Just a quick thought on the kind of issue progessives should make their own from another article in today's NYT. Mandatory paid leave for employees for illness or for the care of sick family members is an issue that Republicans can never swallow becaue the business lobby won't let them. Of course, for many workers, even unpaid time would be an improvement over getting fired for taking time off when necessary.

As more people have looked at the FEC blog-scare, it's becoming clear that Patrick was wise to doubt the quality of Declan's BS-filters.

I love it. Remember that story about how Joe Gordon got fired from Waterstone's for blogging? Well, now Charlie reports that he has a new job, at Forbidden Planet - and part of his job includes running the FP weblog.

Panoramic View from Everest
13:51 GMT


Bits

Buzzflash is after The Newspaper of Record: At The New York Times, the Best Editorials Are on the Front Page, they say, and they're right. The White House perception of itself is published uncritically on the front page, and critical voices have to be found elsewhere. The article includes a handy guide on how to read the paper.

Folks, we have fear itself.

Down Under: Alice Marshall (of GOTV) says Corporate Engagement is a good place to find out about their media, and I think Mike Carlton is saying it's as bad down there as it is everywhere else. (Thanks to Alan Luchetti for that link.)

How big? (Thanks, Mark.)
02:06 GMT


Sunday, 06 March 2005

Is it news?

From the Department of "I told you so," Getler got lots of e-mail from last week's column: If there was a dominant theme, it was the charge that the press generally, and The Post, have been timid in challenging the Bush administration, especially "when opposition in Washington seems to be out these days," as one put it. I've gotta write and ask him what he thinks happened to The Evening Star.

I'd rather have MPs who were once honest whores than the kind we have now. Via Roz Kaveney.

Bob Herbert is a bit of a hero for staying on these stories that should still be on the front page. It's Called Torture: As a nation, does the United States have a conscience? Or is anything and everything O.K. in post-9/11 America? If torture and the denial of due process are O.K., why not murder? When the government can just make people vanish - which it can, and which it does - where is the line that we, as a nation, dare not cross? Mahabarb already knows what we've become.

Enduring Friedman: If we can't sell our ideas in the marketplace of ideas perhaps it's because the market is unduly regulated. The war of ideas can transcend the limits that define a marketplace of ideas: supply and demand. By defending moral principal with acts that violate moral principal war has the potential to become both supply and demand, a self legitimizing antonymous entity. (The funny thing is that whether you read "principal" and "antonymous" as intended or malaprops, it still works.)

On July 5th, 1974, Zonker Harris said: "Joanie, before I help you with the apartment hunting, I gotta go check in with my Uncle Duke." Via Epicycle.
15:02 GMT


Sight & sound

In Why V For Vendetta Matters - Especially Now, Rich Johnston discusses the effectiveness of terrorism and the Wachowski Brothers' departure from some of the original story's strengths. I think the thing that bugged me the most is seeing how they'd changed the logo. They gave a press conference where everybody talked about how dense and challenging the story is, and where James McTeigue displayed his grasp of history by saying: "The release is also for the one hundredth year anniversary of Guy Fawkes, so it seems very prescient and timely to do it, so it is really something to strive for." Um.

Congratulations to Jim Henley for his attractive new redesign, which still loads reasonably quickly here, too (and remains among the sherbet blogs.) Comments, too.

Some motivational posters, perhaps useful for following an inspiring diet plan.
09:38 GMT


Saturday, 05 March 2005

How you became crazy

Malice in Media Land? is a transcript from The Media Report in which an author is interviewed about his view of the media landscape - Down Under. I have no idea who anyone they're talking about is, with the obvious exception of Murdoch. But it's an interesting exercise to try to translate the criticisms to apply them to media I am familiar with.

Richard Aedy: We've got an absolutely packed program today. There's a hint of Churchill, a serving of Lord of the Rings, and all you can eat of David Flint.

Yes, the former Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority has written a book. It's called `Malice in Medialand', and one of its themes is that journalists are different to everybody else.

David Flint: Well I think that's established from research, that journalists on a range of issues, are further to the left than the general public. It's an interesting phenomenon; in itself it shouldn't be a cause of any problems.

I have never understood why this should be a criticism of the media, anymore than it makes sense that this is a negative trait of academe; if the people who are best educated and most aware of what is going on are more liberal, maybe that's because you have to be ignorant to swallow conservatism. What is really suggested by this "criticism" is that the alleged "bias" isn't bias at all, it's just a recognition of what is, and that bias is required to lean to the right of this "liberal" position. Indeed, the behavior we're seeing from the administration is fairly explicit in that we are told that simple facts are "biased". The news media are not supposed to tell the public the truth about anything because that would bias us against the administration. The real question is not, then, about a bias toward liberalism or conservatism, but rather a belief that "news" should make some attempt to serve the public rather than just the corporate hierarchy.
Richard Aedy: The other thing I'm interested to hear about is you assert that the so-called elite media sets the agenda for other media, which as a working journalist, I'm surprised to hear.

David Flint: I think we establish that very clearly from the research we did with journalists at the ABA. There was a major piece of research and it told us that the day begins by journalists looking at, well they used to particularly listen to `AM', I think it's less so than it used to be.
[...]
Richard Aedy: The point you make, that leads on from that in effect, is that it's not proprietors or even ratings or circulation that have the greatest influence on the media, it is journalists on other journalists.

David Flint: I think that's very true, and journalists are now much more powerful. Max Sutch makes this point.

Richard Aedy: He's the former senior editor at Fairfax.

David Flint: Yes. And what he says is, the journalists have never before known such freedom from management as they have today. He says they've blown their freedom. They really dished up an enormous amount of fact-based comment; opinion dressed up as facts-based comment, that's his description, his criticism.

Richard Aedy: But the point you make which I suppose I still feel you haven't answered is that you feel that journalists reference other journalists, and that it's other journalists who are most influential on what journalists write.

David Flint: Well I have answered it but I don't think you like my answer. But I say that with the greatest respect. There is enormous influence I think between journalists, particularly in the political area, and it is said that there is a herd mentality.

Oddly, I agree with the idea that journalists seem to be referencing each other rather than doing real reporting and analysis, but I don't think that amounts to news that is driven to a liberal slant. See, it doesn't really matter whether more journalists are liberal or conservative if most of the self-identified partisan conservatives are acting as stooges in a Solomon Asch experiment. They come out every day with their talking points, some of which are masterworks of spin that leave all common sense behind. Someone has taken an obvious, well-understood fact (like that the point in an election is to count the ballots) and turned it on its head to the point that you soon have the entire news media declaring that the sky is not blue (or that trying to count the ballots is "stealing the election").

This can only happen if conservatives are prepared to insist - and never express the slightest doubt - on the "truth" of their talking points. The very uniformity of their group-think gives it a power that makes others lose their grasp on reality; the very ability to consider more than one possibility makes one vulnerable to infection by even the most corrupt meme.

If you're unfamiliar with Asch's famous study, let's take a moment now to remember how this works:

You sign up for a psychology experiment, and on a specified date you and seven others whom you think are also subjects arrive and are seated at a table in a small room. You don't know it at the time, but the others are actually associates of the experimenter, and their behavior has been carefully scripted. You're the only real subject.
The point here is that, unbeknownst to you, the others present are committed to lie consistently until you begin to doubt your own perceptions. And it works.
It is clear to you that they are wrong, but they have all given the same answer.

What would you do? Would you go along with the majority opinion, or would you "stick to your guns" and trust your own eyes?

In 1951 social psychologist Solomon Asch devised this experiment to examine the extent to which pressure from other people could affect one's perceptions. In total, about one third of the subjects who were placed in this situation went along with the clearly erroneous majority.

Only one-third went along in the lab, but in real life this effect is both more subtle and more powerful.

As a journalist, you're still absorbing information when the right-partisans in your midst are already spewing their interpretations (which frequently come direct from Karl Rove). Unlike normal newspeople, they already have a consistent storyline ready and are acting in concert to make this more than just one individual's interpretation, but rather an apparent consensus, a common wisdom. And, partisan though they may be, they are still your colleagues, and still people who you may know as nice people, friends, companions on the bus. If you're an old-fashioned reporter, you may not think much about party affiliation in such circumstances, because facts are facts and news is news and in your heart of hearts you find it hard to believe that these nice people are deliberately hyping up things that aren't news and drowning out things that are very important indeed.

Now, you may know that what they are saying is bunk and possibly even nuts. But some of your colleagues are a bit more gullible, or malleable, or just plain dumb. In that context, the one-third who are easily led cease to be the minority; they keep adding together, while everyone else has a multiplicity of reactions, a variety of angles, assorted ways of focusing. There is no group-think among the doubters, only among the chorus. And the chorus sounds louder and louder as time goes by.

To Asch's surprise, 37 of the 50 subjects conformed to the majority at least once, and 14 of them conformed on more than 6 of the 12 trials.
In these experiments, every single individual's voice is heard, and every single one of them are in concert. But in real life, the people who disagree with what seems to be the most common view may simply stay silent. If a consensus forms quickly, the alternative views may simply not be heard - or, by the time they are heard, they have already come to be part of a "weirdo" view. Even the people who seem sane to you most of the time will conform "at least once", despite the fact that they were in the actual majority if they disagreed. But experientially, they don't feel like the majority if the noisier people are all saying the same thing.

Consider how quickly a statement by Al Gore or Howard Dean gets the "crazy" label before it can be given any consideration. Consider the almost unbroken (although completely unsupported) view that has now completely permeated the mainstream media that Michael Moore is a wholly unreliable chronicler and that Fahrenheit 9/11 is mostly falsehood and tin-foil-hattery.

One of the interesting effects this has is that as the up-is-down view becomes more acceptable to others, it becomes less bizarre to you. You find yourself saying things like, "I can understand saying the sky isn't blue, but saying it's paisley is surely going too far!" And you forget that "not blue" was once too far. After a while, you look twice at anyone who still insists that the sky really is blue - not because you disagree with them, but you think there may be something a bit antisocial (that is, nuts) about anyone whose views are so non-conformist. You became part of the means by which the sane view becomes insane even though you know that it also happens to be correct. Thus, you even participate in marginalizing your own views.

There's not much you can do about the ardent partisans, the Tucker Carlsons and the Coulters and O'Reillys and other types who are plainly prepared to say pretty much anything Rove wants them to say, or anything that attacks liberals and liberalism.

The real danger comes from people like David Broder and even Frank Rich (with some help from The New Republic), who fall so very easily for the rubbish that actually emanates from the far right and worms its way into acceptability in the press corps before it's ever really been thought about. (The last time I looked, Frank Rich was still a proponent of the canard that Al Gore had in no way been an inspiration for the lead character in Love Story.)

Those people really do need reminders. They need to be told every single time they spew right-wing bull. They need to be reminded over and over that reality still holds sway for at least half of the population. Most of all, they need to be told that we're not talking about forgetfulness and errors and "misstatements" from Condi and George and friends, we're talking about lying, and they should call a spade a spade.
13:26 GMT


Early morning linkage


Get the code for this here. Via Hackenblog.

Oh, wait, something else via Hackenblog, on The Most Useful Celeb On Earth and why you need to learn your geography. Yowch!

Dave Johnson explains the simplest thing about marketing that Democrats keep missing: So what do we do about it? We start to spend a lot of money to repeat over and over that Progressive solutions are better for regular people.

Kevin Drum reveals more on the evil Choicepoint: You may recall that although ChoicePoint revealed the theft of 145,000 personal financial records last month, they actually knew about the theft back in October. Guess what? It turns out that ChoicePoint's CEO and president both sold a bunch of stock in the intervening period.

Bearing in mind that you can rarely believe a word Dick Morris says, here's an interesting rumination on why the Senate Republicans haven't - yet - invoked the nuclear option. Morris says they're not going to because, "Bush needs the filibuster." I'm not so sure about that; it's really the only thing the Republicans have left to bargain with, since they've already got everything else. It might just be that threatening to use it is how they are getting some Democrats to be quieter than they ought to be.

Jonathan Chait, in The Los Angeles Times, talks about When Democrats Join the Dark Side - specifically in this case, when it comes to the ghastly bankruptcy bill: The ultimate problem is that even liberal Democrats consider being in the pocket of a home-state industry an acceptable indulgence. A little bit of shame might go a long way. But go to The Mahablog for a link-rich essay that will steam your glasses up.
01:38 GMT


Friday, 04 March 2005

Blogissimo

I agree with Tarek about the Martha Stewart story, except that if they'd been a real media they would have used the occasion to wonder how it is that Stewart has been convicted and sentenced and served her time and Ken Lay has not yet been convicted and sentenced to the 99 years he deserves. On the other hand, here's another example of a story where right-wingers will run around believing the opposite of the truth.

Crack reporting: "When you read a news report, look at the second line," said Amos. "More and more you will find it reads: 'according to the U.S. military' or 'according to officials.' Via Just a Bump in the Beltway.

Steve, John, I feel your pain, but I thought the really cool thing about weblogviating is that we're so, so outside it all, we're just real people who happen to notice what's going on, we're not people who The Big Guys take any notice of. I'm happy for Kevin and Matt and similar types, but we need to be here, if only to give them space.

Intellectual Diversity at Stanford - or a lack thereof: Scary as this is, my preliminary research has discovered some even more shocking facts. I have found that only 1% of Stanford professors believe in telepathy (defined as "communication between minds without using the traditional five senses"), compared with 36% of the general population. And less than half a percent believe "people on this earth are sometimes possessed by the devil", compared with 49% of those outside the ivory tower. And while 25% of Americans believe in astrology ("the position of the stars and planets can affect people's lives"), I could only find one Stanford professor who would agree. For true diversity, we should include more crackpots and loonies and ignorant fools! No need to look farther than your local RNC.... (via)

Josh Marshall: Are things going so badly on phase-out that the president is threatening to do "something drastic"? You know, "something drastic" had to happen to pass the Patriot Act and start an unnecessary war, too. Hmmm....

Tonight Epicycle is drawing back the veil that shrouds the mists of time to reveal a glimpse of the shadowy pre-history of computing... Or something like that...
23:44 GMT


At the link-farm

Yeah, we had a little snow, but it didn't last past noon. I stole the picture from the inimitable Maru, who also says: Humorless conservative fossil pronounces Jon Stewart's "America" worst book of the year, and Hero/patriot Helen Thomas bitchslaps liar, presstitutes.

Also, Patrick is wary of anything Declan says, but if it's true that the FEC wants to treat my personal advocacy for a candidate or party as a "donation", surely they would have to treat Fox News in its entirety as a donation, too. (Ah, I see Amanda had the same thought.)

I thought I'd already linked this thing from Fanatical Apathy but I guess I got that from Patrick, too, and then forgot I hadn't posted it. I'll claim it's about the Oscars, but only so I can remember later that that's what this link is to.

King of Zembla has Sibel Edmonds' statement: I began working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a language specialist for several Middle Eastern languages starting shortly after 9/11, and was granted Top Secret Clearance. During my work, I became aware of problems within the translation unit involving criminal conduct against our national interests, potential espionage, serious security breaches threatening our intelligence, intentional mistranslation, and blocking of intelligence. I was asked, and later ordered, to refrain from reporting these allegations.

SPIDER-MAN'S GREATEST BIBLE STORIES! (via).

And more good photos of The Gates.
20:22 GMT


The party that hates Americans

We already know which party that is, but if your Democratic Senators are among those who have actively aided the Republicans in trying to screw ordinary Americans, you need to have a word with them. Some people have been trying to stop or at least limit the damage of this bankruptcy bill, but there are actual Democrats aiding The Party of Evil on this thing. You need to make some phone calls.

(Actually, calling your Republican reps doesn't hurt, either. Ask them if they can remember what it is like to have morals and a conscience.)

Senate refuses to limit interest rates at 30% (AP)

The Republican-controlled Senate refused to limit consumer interest rates at 30 percent yesterday as it moved methodically toward passage of legislation making it harder to shed personal debts in bankruptcy.

The vote was a bipartisan 74-24 to scuttle an amendment by Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., who said consumers must pay interest rates as high as 1,059 percent when they borrow money.
[...]
Dayton's proposal was the latest in a string of unsuccessful Democratic attempts to soften the impact of the measure on consumers.

A bipartisan coalition in Congress, backed by credit card companies and other business interests, has been struggling for eight years to enact a bankruptcy bill.

"We don't care about you and we hope you die poor and miserable."

Business Week has more details on the other failed amendments that attempted to make this bill slightly less ugly.

And this page is the even more detailed list of amendments and how they went.

For example, Durbin Amdt. No. 38, "To discourage predatory lending practices."

Even Lieberman voted for it, you can hardly call that "left-wing".

Who would vote against such an amendment? Biden (D-DE), Carper (D-DE), Johnson (D-SD), Nelson (D-NE), and every single Senate Republican. Who voted for it? Jim Jeffords (I-VT) and 39 Democrats. But not one single Republican voted for it. Not one. And they all voted. What about those "moderate" Republicans, again?
18:05 GMT


The truth gets out there

Best news of the day is that Paul Krugman and Harry Reid are going after Greenspan directly. There used to be a time when Krugman credited Greenspan with Bill Clinton's good fiscal policies; now he knows better.

Sidney Blumenthal explains that what we're hearing today from BushCo about Social Security is just Recycled rhetoric. And I'm getting the feeling that Bush is communicating at last with Americans so that they can hear what he really stands for: "I don't care about you and I hope you die poor and miserable."
16:44 GMT


Thursday, 03 March 2005

Ex-Klansman has more brains and morality than entire GOP

Senator Byrd made an honest, intelligent criticism of GOP tactics. Naturally, the righties have only their usual defense of running away from the argument and pretending ad hominem should suffice. I don't know who to blame for the dumb headline, though:

GOP Jewish Group Critizes Byrd's Remarks

WASHINGTON - A pair of Jewish groups accused Sen. Robert Byrd (news, bio, voting record) on Wednesday of making an outrageous and reprehensible comparison between Adolf Hitler's Nazis and a Senate GOP plan to block Democrats from filibustering.

Byrd spokesman Tom Gavin denied that Byrd, D-W.Va., had compared Republicans to Hitler. He said that instead, the reference to Nazis in a Senate speech on Tuesday was meant to underscore that the past should not be ignored.

"Terrible chapters of history ought never be repeated," Gavin said. "All one needs to do is to look at history to see how dangerous it is to curb the rights of the minority."

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Wednesday that Byrd's remarks showed "a profound lack of understanding as to who Hitler was" and that the senator should apologize to the American people.

Abraham H. Foxman has a profound lack of understanding of who Hitler was. Byrd is against victimizing minorities, and the GOP is for it. Hitler didn't have glowing eyes and lightning bolts shooting from his fingers, he was just an ordinary human fascist, and the GOP has been pursuing a fascist program, too.

But not Robert Byrd. Senator Byrd has been speaking up for adherence to Constitutional law, for open debate, for protection of the minority. He has been anti-fascist and the way right-wingers respond is to claim it is indefensible to speak up against fascism, and of course to pretend that Byrd is still in the Klan.

Well, here is news for you little Bush Jungen types: Byrd isn't the one who sounds like a Klansman these days. Nor is he the one who sounds like he's insensitive to the meaning of fascism. That's why the best you can do is dismiss his statements with the same tired ad hominem about something that hasn't been true since before you were born. Because you daren't pay attention to what he says:

Byrd cited Hitler's 1930s rise to power by, in part, pushing legislation through the German parliament that seemed to legitimize his ascension.

"We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men," Byrd said. "But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends."

Byrd then quoted historian Alan Bullock, saying Hitler "turned the law inside out and made illegality legal."

Byrd added, "That is what the nuclear option seeks to do."

It is, in fact what much of Republican policy seeks to do, and the current cult of personality that surrounds Bush should terrify anyone who supports the United States as a free country based in Constitutional law. Tom DeLay clearly believes government should be exclusively a tool of the Republican Party.

The GOP has been fascist. No, really. They want to consolidate power within a church-state-corporate power-structure that has no room for anyone but their own - you can be sheep, or you can be cheerleaders, but you can't be proponents of freedom and democracy.

Byrd joined the Ku Klux Klan as a young man and has repeatedly apologized for it. Now 87 and the Senate's longest-serving member at 47 years, he prides himself on his knowledge of history and makes historical references frequently during debates.
When are these little right-wing freaks going to apologize for being supporters of a party that is openly theofascist and operates to take power away from American citizens? Even though many of them think they can distance themselves from the taint by claiming they are not actually registered as Republicans (fake libertarians aren't really convincing, are they?), the fact is that as long as they are defending the RNC leadership's tactics they are just as dirty.

Robert Byrd stayed in the Democratic Party when it broke with the southern racists. The southern racists joined the GOP. The Republican Party has been the party of the Ku Klux Klan ever since. It's also the party that is so racist it thinks Condoleezza Rice's incompetence can be defended solely on the grounds that "she's black". It's the party that is so racist and morally empty that it thinks it's racist to oppose Gonzales for being a torture apologist.

Under the circumstances, Robert Byrd is hardly the one who should be ashamed.

[Update: TBogg's All your fuhrers belong to us and Alterman on Re-inventing the "Race Card".]

[Update 2: More excellent commentary by Roxanne and NTodd.]
14:26 GMT


Hard-core links

Human Rights First on the Real ID Act and how it puts refugees at risk.

.PDF of the infamous Clarke memo, via Public Domain Progress.

Amitai Etzioni on Moral Speak and the Democrats: But as Rev. James Wallis recently told the New York Times, "We don't need just a few Bible verses or some cheap God talk.This is more than a language issue. It's a contents issue."

The Gadflyer says The Propagandocracy Marches On: And they criticized the Clinton administration for running a "permanent campaign." Just think - your taxes are paying for this. Thanks for the help, suckers!

Georgia Secretary Of State Cathy Cox, who is running for Governor, had a spot of trouble when she turned up at a town hall meeting and tried to spin citizens with Diebold talking points.

Bill Scher says the Democrats should Filibuster The Bankruptcy Bill. It's a hideous piece of legislation that no decent person could support, and they certainly aren't going to lose any votes by opposing it. But Dems have voted for it before, and they need you to tell them not to do it again. (And Sam Rosenfeld at Tapped has more on the scuzzy politics.)

Super hanc petram goes after the Bull Moose's weird argument against Howard Dean. And, more here on dislocated "centrism".
01:21 GMT


Wednesday, 02 March 2005

Art

I've just been enjoying the NYT's photo-review and video of The Gates. I recommend taking a look if you aren't in a position to see them yourself.
23:50 GMT


You should know

Bob Johnson had never heard of Frank Luntz until Luntz's RNC playbook suddenly made the headlines, advising GOPers to lie outright in order to win (because the truth is their enemy). Tom Ball at Political Strategy provides key sections in HTML so you won't have to download the .pdf. Think Progress takes Luntz under advisement and gives us How to Be Frank Luntz's Worst Nightmare.

Hypocrisy alert from Josh Marshall on Bush's phony faith-based initiative, in which programs that have historically helped religious charities are being eliminated while one of the small but least-controversial proposals is consistently left out of the budget.

If you didn't read Memento mori when I linked it before, read it now, and pass it on, because people don't seem to get the point that a significant part of the argument about Social Security going bust is based on the idea that post-WWII baby-boomers are going to live forever.
16:18 GMT


Unsorted

Click!

Oh, That's Rich is a new news site.

Zappa vs. WMD.

And for a bit of perversity, Baby Got Book, via The Biomes Blog.
13:09 GMT


Buncha more links

Pagan Prattle has some new additions to the The Great Tsunami Conspiracy List.

Professor Kim on The Damnation of Women: On Race, Sex and Politics in Cyberspace, 2005.

Why Now? on The Cult of Bioplasts. I'm starting to feel like anyone who calls themselves a Christian in public must be up to no good.

Gale Norton is pissing off the Alternative Hippopotamus.

South Knox Bubba's response to that stupid rappers & bloggers article at Slate was good, but it's even better in the context of this post at Prometheus6.

A Brooklyn Bridge considers what looks like an impending schism in the Anglican Church.

The Little Red Blogger on Commoners Rights and the Tragedy of the New Forest Becoming a UK National Park.

Rising Hegemon on Religious Insecurity and the secular nature of the Ten Commandments, and Amanda at Mouse Words on the same story.

Krup has pictures of The Gates.

I didn't know about this, but now I do and I want one.
01:08 GMT


Tuesday, 01 March 2005

Stuff to check out

Blowing Up The Senate - Jeffrey Toobin on whether the nuclear option is going to make the difference to the courts.

Big Media Matt on the Lieberman trap.

What progress looks like.

Skimble snuck back in and has been not only keeping an eye on the fortunes of Ken Lay, but composing songs about Jeff Gannon. And poems, too.

A tarot reading for Social Security (Rider deck edition.)

Now that is truly obscene.
22:51 GMT


Your happenin' world

I don't know where Elton has been for the last couple of weeks, but he's back now with some shorter Max Boot, Ron Brownstein (which a commenter refers to as "the argumentum ad moveoniam" and also provides the unflattering photo op), and Tom Friedman:

It's tough enough to tell how many teeters a tipping point can take before it topples into total trope, but it's twice as tricky with a treacherous trio of tottery tipping points.
Mark Kleiman calls it Liberal justices for prison rape, but I think it's just a failure of thinking it through. Still, there is something strange about these people being on the wrong sides....

Atrios notes that even Paul Begala has caught on: And yet rumors abound that Democrats, perhaps even former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, will find a compromise that allows Mr. Bush to succeed in privatizing part of Social Security. Look, any Democrat who rescue Mr. Bush's assault on Social Security ought to be defeated in a primary and allowed to begin their own retirement early. Glad I could help, Paul.

Suburban Guerrilla is hot, with a link to The Carpetbagger Report on the remarkable Broder piece in which the Dean of CW finally notices that George Bush's programs might actually hurt people. Jeez! SG also remarks on the rather stunning news that Paul Wolfowitz "has emerged as a leading candidate to replace James Wolfensohn as the president of the World Bank" - Oh, GOD! And just to cheer you up, the knowledge that Jonah Goldberg is comfortable with war. (Her abortion/adoption post is good, too.)
18:41 GMT


The bad moon rising

David Neiwert has created the single-file (.pdf) version of his recent Koufax Award-winning "The Rise of Pseudo Fascism" series, and under the same terms as last time, asks that people hit the tip-jar if you're going to download it. I recommend hitting his tip-jar even if you aren't downloading the .pdf; he's doing important work.

And on that subject, for the Mark of the Beast files, there's Creeping Fascism in the Workplace over at Running Scared, and via Skippy we have Whistle While You Purge at The Nation on what's going on at the Office of Special Counsel.

And You may be a fascist if...
13:51 GMT


I.F. Stone told me

The very first Earth Day, at the Sylvan Theatre, and Izzy Stone comes up on stage and says they're trying to con us talking about cigarette butts. It's not about what one individual does privately, you see, although that's what they want to scam us into thinking. There's a whole big system out there doing it, and even if we all stop smoking and stop missing the rubbish bin when we toss our trash and all that, the real problems are still there. And it's not just with pollution, you understand, it's everything.

So, you know, I was sure Robert Reich knew better than this, but I guess not:

But isn't Wal-Mart really being punished for our sins? After all, it's not as if Wal-Mart's founder, Sam Walton, and his successors created the world's largest retailer by putting a gun to our heads and forcing us to shop there.
No, actually, I don't blame "us" for Wal-Mart, I blame Wal-Mart. Their activities are illegal; we've already erected safeguards in law against what Wal-Mart is doing, but that's not going to do much if no one enforces those laws.

One of the ways the right-wing makes us powerless is by convincing us that only our own individual action counts, and that if they don't, it's either our personal failure or the failure of "most people", our fellow humans being stupid. That makes the situation hopeless. Collective effort is off the table, and everyone else has to do the right thing independently and in isolation or nothing works.

No, it's them, it's not us. Don't blame me when the Ubermonopoly owns you, too.

More at Not Geniuses.
03:39 GMT


Interesting stuff

When I first started The Sideshow, there weren't many other liberal weblogs; it was mostly libertarians and "libertarians", and of course Andrew Sullivan. One nice thing that's changed since then is that when I run out of words, there are others to pick up on the themes that for one reason or another I've missed. In this case, it's a bit more explicit, as Natasha picks it up when I'm struck dumb by it all.

Here's some irony for you: Right-wingers refer to anyone who disagrees with this administration as "moonbats", even described Al Gore as "crazy" for making a level-headed speech about Iraq, and so on. Any speech by a Democrat that threatens to be taken seriously is instantly subjected to Charles Krauthammer's instant pseudo-psychoanalysis. And yet, Zendo Deb claims it's only the left who do this.

Schwarzenegger vows political end run - around the legislature. Via (the original) Random Thoughts.

Every time I go over to Electrolite to see if there's anything new, I see this great John Holbo quote.

Ron Brownstein's LAT article got lots of reactions out of Kevin Drum, who thought it was a good article but with an annoying case of equivalency disease, among other things. But it raises intriguing questions about what USA Next really intended with that disgusting attack on AARP. (Oh, and more Arnold news.)

How Lawrence Lessig became a character on West Wing.

I've been looking for a top just like the one on this page with the bell sleeves. (Lots more stuff here.)
00:24 GMT


Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, March 2005


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