The Sideshow

Archive for May 2005

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Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Blogger's notebook

Chuck Herrin has indexed all his Hack the Vote stuff on one page. Some of you may remember Herrin as the sole Republican activist who believes something went wrong in 2004 and is fighting for the integrity of our voting system.

Laying a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Source - Will Bunch celebrates the heroism of Deep Throat.

Krugman vs. Okrent.

Did Hugh Grant cause the riots?

The Greater Good (Thanks to Helga.)
23:41 BST

NYT Ombudsfest

The Grumpiest Ombudsman:

Retract this, Krugman! Dan Okrent admits that his final column wasn't meant to make the people at the Times miss him. In it, the public editor accused Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd of letting their ideology warp their accuracy, before going on to assert that Alessandra Stanley's Katie Couric piece got "gratuitously nasty"-which is pretty much what the people at the Times thought about his column, too, especially since he didn't give any of them a chance to respond. "It was mystifying why he abandoned his practice of giving the journalists critiqued a chance to rebut," says Dowd, who, like the others Okrent singled out, let him know. "Krugman's been writing to me two, three times a day demanding a retraction or apology, and I'm not going to give him either," says Okrent. At his going-away party (where "there was no hostility present at all"), he did tell Times editor Bill Keller and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., "I didn't mean to go out making everyone mad at me." Or maybe he did. "I have a theory. Over the last few weeks, people were taking me out to lunch, being so gracious to me, I was beginning to worry I would miss this job," he says. "So on some subconscious level-and I do mean subconscious-maybe I thought I'd write something so that they'll be glad I'm leaving."
What a jerk.

Meanwhile, when I was busy with something else, the new "public editor" finally looked at the Downing Street memo:

Even if the editors decided it was old news that Mr. Bush had decided in July 2002 to attack Iraq or that the minutes didn't provide solid evidence that the administration was manipulating intelligence, I think Times readers deserved to know that earlier than today's article.
Wow, that was a week ago and I missed it.
14:06 BST

Everybody's talkin'

This morning's NYT exposes an entire CIA airline operation dedicated to taking people to other countries to be tortured. I liked it better when they just had an airline they used to run drugs. Jeralyn at TalkLeft calls it Ghost Air.

Drudge is in a lather over a new book by Harris the Hack about the Clinton White House and how President Bill called Sally Quinn a bitch. Atrios posted a reminder last night of why she deserved that and worse. David Sirota looks at the psychosis of these people who complained about being lied to yet now are silent about the much more egregious lies of Bush. Of course this story is very handy for keeping attention off of the debacle in Iraq and the Downing Street Memo. Steve Soto suggests that there is something else they want to deflect our attention from - the fact that Bush has spent all his political capital. It's so bad that some Republicans not only want Bush to give it up on Social Security, but to start talking about healthcare! But the rest of the party is so clueless that they want Bush to focus on private accounts, CAFTA, and other losers. ("Seize the momentum," even!)

Paul Krugman and Josh Marshall are both talking about this Baltimore Sun article explaining why Bush may really be getting the false intelligence he says he's getting - because people get fired for saying anything else: But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official record. And since we already know that people who jeopardize America's security (and screwed the pooch on 9/11 and Iraq) get promoted, I'm sure everyone else has gotten the message, too - so why would they bother to tell Bush the truth? So if Bush says his generals are assuring him that they have enough men in Iraq, maybe that's why.

I rather liked this simple Memorial Day message from Cookie Jill at Skippy's digs.
12:40 BST

Stuff to read

Really, it's all perfectly obvious that the Democrats have been jerks about not addressing the fact that what the Republicans are trying to do is break the rules. It's weird to hear them complain about how the filibuster "protects the minority" - which is true enough, but in this case the minority in the Senate represents a much larger number of Americans than the majority does. The Republicans know they have to ram through everything they can now because if the public ever takes back control of America they'll be lucky to make it out of Washington alive.

It makes me want to cry: Bob Herbert, America, a Symbol of . . . This Memorial Day is not a good one for the country that was once the world's most brilliant beacon of freedom and justice. State Department officials know better than anyone that the image of the United States has deteriorated around the world.

Census Statistics Indicate Vote Count Was Significantly Off: Where did 3.4 million votes go? (via)

The Mahablog: But what about the Bushies, who claim to love democracy even while they work to destroy it? And who claim to oppose media bias when it's obvious that what they really want is media that reflects their biases? You see over and over again with the righties that what they claim to value, and what their actions reveal about their values, are miles apart. ... So you've got a fanatical mass movement against freedom and democracy being carried out in the name of freedom and democracy, and those of us who genuinely value freedom and democracy are painted as enemies of freedom and democracy who must be resisted.

Read a paper about Pornography.

Jess' bad date
02:21 BST

Eschaton archive note #16

I did this sort of parody called Where are all the male bloggers? but I probably should have mentioned Kevin Drum in it just to see if he got the joke. I thought I had mentioned Amanda but it seems I somehow forgot to actually put in the code (although now she says she is permanently at Pandagon anyway). I don't know how I forgot Majikthise. And I guess I should have mentioned BlondeSense and Kathryn Cramer, too, but that's a list that can go on forever, because there really are so many good weblogs by women. And I guess I should really avoid doing weak gags from The I Are A Writer Handbook but I always think these things are obvious and don't expect anyone to correct my usage. (Still, I was amused by someone in comments who said, "You should have used the word 'well', as in 'Digby, who writes so good he has been mistaken for a well girl.'") And I wouldn't have mentioned Farber if I'd realized how high he was ranked on the BIQ. (I couldn't not mention Digby, though, I have a crush on his writing. But I was mostly trying to avoid people at the top of the rankings.) (But I must say I feel all proud that Eschaton now outranks Instahack on both the BIQ and the Top 100.)
00:48 BST

Monday, 30 May 2005

Wild links

Minnesota Court Takes a Dim View of Encryption

Jeff Gannon to Tape Pax-TV's Lie Factor

Toward a Faith-based Fourth Estate

Saddam's tighty whiteys

Battered Wives and South Park Republicans

Because he can't be bothered to go

Big Brass Blog
A Silent Cacophony

NW Progressive portal
12:42 BST

In one eye

And another neat picture from Maru.

Goals Reached, Donor on Right Closes Up Shop: Part Medici, part venture capitalist, the John M. Olin Foundation has spent three decades financing the intellectual rise of the right and exciting the envy of the left. Now the foundation is closing its doors. In telling the organization to spend his money within a generation, John M. Olin, a Midwestern ammunition and chemical magnate, sought to maximize his fortune's influence and keep it from falling into hostile - that is, liberal - hands.

Stem Cell Research Living Will - The Culture of Life Pledge.

Peter Daou (of The Daou Report) is involved in a project to dramatize the threat of nuclear proliferation. You can watch the trailer for Last Best Chance and get a free copy of the DVD, too.

Sean Hannity responds to his mail.

David Sirota on The Misguided Desire to Seem "Hawkish": Remember, it is easy to spew out tough-sounding talk when you don't have to actually deal with the life-and-death consequences of your rhetoric. And from the confines of their offices, these folks seem all-too-comfortable advocating for more war no matter what the reason, and more blood being spilled in the name of "hawkishness" and political expediency. After all, it's not their blood or their families' blood. And besides, writing this kind of crap let's them overcompensate for their clear personal insecurities and a pathetically sad desire to appear macho and "tough."

Arthur Silber [hearts] Riverbend (and Thomas Friedman is a pompous ass).

My right scroll bar in TextPad seems to have disappeared, and I can't figure out how to get it back. Eeep!
03:32 BST

Eschaton archive note #15

Freedom on the march referencing Echnidne on the Bush Family Empire's efforts on behalf of women.

MTV v. Nine Inch Nails referencing Blah3.

Let's have a healthcare thread: Start at The Mahablog.

My war against the machines referencing Corrente on Miami Dade getting rid of paperless voting machines.
00:44 BST

Sunday, 29 May 2005

Things I saw

Leah at Corrente looks at Democracy On The Move, Or In The Toilet: It isn't the liberal/left who is cycnical about the possibilities for democracy in the Middle East. Everything about what happened this week indicates that there is a real desire for just such reform there, which could be helped by a genuine American commitment to stand by those internal reformers who are ready to speak truth to power, as the President promised in his much-vaunted 2nd Inaugural. What other conclusion can one come to than that both the President and his ambassador-wife are as cynical about the true meaning of democratic reform as is Hosni Mubarak.

Well, well, David Broder is actually taking comprehensive healthcare reform - including single-payer - seriously. That must mean it's now mentionable.

I just had the feeling that Getler was very carefully not-saying things in this weeks ombud article about the Newsweek story and other examples of, uh, press entanglements with the White House.
23:35 BST

Hits & bits

Trey Ellis at The Huffington Post:

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, 51, co-founded the notorious Crips gang in Los Angeles. Their ongoing feud with the Bloods has cost thousands of lives, decimated a once-proud community and poisoned it with drugs. He has been on San Quentin's death row for over a quarter of a century and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just denied his latest appeal. On June 2nd his lawyers will petition the United States Supreme Court though rarely do they intervene in capital cases.

Why should you care?

Because, amazingly, Mr. Williams has dedicated the last twenty years of his life to stopping at-risk kids from making the same mistakes he did. From his prison cell on death row he has written ten children's books cautioning kids against joining a gang and has received tens of thousands of emails from children and former gang members thanking him for helping them leave the life. You might have seen the movie made about his life, Redemption, starring Jamie Foxx, which aired on the F/X channel last year. In fact, Bloods and Crips, brutally warring in Newark, New Jersey, after seeing the film on his life, went to his website, downloaded his peace protocol and engineered their own truce. For Mr. Williams' good works he has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by the Swiss nominating committee several years in a row.

If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, which is likely, he will be scheduled for execution next fall.

He should not be.

You can sign a petition to commute the sentence to life without parole.

The Former King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk is blogging, and seems to have upset people with his support for gay marriage.

Scorpio asks: Why would people who get hysterical about burning flags (which are *supposed* to be burned when damaged) be casual -- or even approving -- about burning crosses?

Simbaud says Harper's has now posted Jeff Sharlet's "Soldiers of Christ: Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch, which, among other things, tells you about Pastor Ted Haggard, of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, "the most powerful evangelical leader you've never heard of."

Paperwight's Fair Shot discusses peak performance and why the Democrats don't seem to get there.

Fighting Terrorism By Dying In The Workplace

American Gothic updated.
15:54 BST

Open windows

Down at the bottom of two pages of letters responding to Daniel Okrent's final column, two letters take issue with his swipe at Paul Krugman. One is from Paul Krugman:

In Daniel Okrent's parting shot as public editor of The New York Times, he levied a harsh charge against me: he said that I have "a disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults."

He offered no examples of my "disturbing habit," and maybe I should stop there: surely it's inappropriate for the public editor to attack the ethics of one of the paper's writers without providing any supporting evidence. He responded to my request for examples with criticisms of specific columns. Those criticisms were simply wrong: in each of those columns I played entirely fair with my readers, using the standard data in the standard way.

That should be the end of the story.

I want to go back to doing what I have been doing all along: using economic data to inform my readers.

The NYT adds:
The writer is an Op-Ed columnist for The Times. He and Daniel Okrent will be addressing this matter further on the Public Editor's Web Journal ( early in the week.
David Gelernter has an annoying piece in the LAT called Why the Bible Belongs in America's Public Schools. Busy, Busy, Busy makes short work of him, but points us to Ernest Miller, who takes more time to say: Gelernter Advocates Teaching the Bible as Literature: Good Idea, Too Bad That's Not What He Really Intends.

Jesse Taylor has lots of fun with a really stupid article "proving" that same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The Daily Howler reminds us that the GOP's interest in up-or-down votes is a very recent phenomenon. (Scroll down.)

Steve Soto knows that Condi is playing the race card, attacking the Founding Fathers, and shilling for a movement that still regrets the elimination of slavery. (Not to mention removing freedoms in Iraq.) But what's interesting is getting whiplash watching the right-wingers do a fast about-face: But let's face it. If a John Conyers or better yet, a Jesse Jackson had made the same comparison between our founding fathers and say Nelson Mandela, Fox News and the Bill O'Reilly's of the Mighty Wurlitzer would be going batshit crazy now. Why is it a cause for outrage from the media jackals on the right whenever a Democrat talks about this country's deplorable history and treatment towards African Americans, especially whenever reparations are brought up, but it is OK for Condi to denigrate the founding fathers to make our Iraqi toadies look good?

Play Captions with Norbizness.

In honor of Nine Inch Nails' refusal to accede to MTV's demand that they remove an image of George W. Bush from their set, caught by American Stranger, go ahead and listen to NIN's new album (streaming).
14:11 BST

Saturday, 28 May 2005

Stops on the Infobahn

Josh Marshall: Remember, the McClellan/DiRita attacks on Newsweek weren't simply about getting a few facts wrong or weakly sourcing a story. Their claim was that the charges were outrageous, damaging and false, when in fact it turns out they were outrageous, damaging and quite likely true. And even more damaging for the US after McClellan and DiRita spent a couple weeks heaping attention on them.

Also via Josh, Rubin urges Democrats not to reveal their hand - Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says not to fall for any alternative Social Security plan. He politely said that anything the GOP signs on to will be more of a Trojan horse than what the Dems thought they were supporting - just like all the other stuff the Dems fell for. Oh, yeah, he mentioned something about principles, too. Imagine having to tell them that. *sigh*

Some interesting things at Peek:
Clear Channel sets up fake pirate station that attacks corporate radio... like Clear Channel.
Gitmo interrogators impersonated lawyers, and then their real lawyers had trouble convincing them they were for real.
George Galloway on the Thom Hartmann show.

Strategery strikes again.

Biomes Blog responds to flushing Baptist.

A nice picture of the Woking Martian, and the hero who beat the Martian invasion. (More)
16:26 BST

Eddie Haskell's enablers

Dick Meyer has a piece in The Washington Post this morning about The Wreck of the U.S. Senate that makes the usual RNC error of placing all the blame on the Democrats for "starting it":

If I had to etch a date on the tombstone of The Senate Club it would be March 9, 1989, the day the Senate rejected, with a 53-47 vote, former four-term Texas senator John Tower to be secretary of defense under the first President Bush. This was only the ninth time in history that a Cabinet-level nominee had been rejected.

The Senate's clubby comity had already been strained by the bitter battle over Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court and by the Iran-contra affair. But the long debate over Tower's misadventures with women and defense contractors and, most of all, his drinking was, if you will, a tippling point. Camaraderie became cat-fighting. That they did it to one of their own only made it worse.

Senate relations were "strained" by the Iran-Contra affair. That would be a situation in which the top echelon of government was involved in criminal activities so egregious that virtually all of them, including the President, should have ended up in jail. Instead George H.W. Bush pardoned everyone who could have testified against him, thus circumventing any possibility that Congress or any other aspect of the criminal law system could mete out justice. But the fault lies with those who lost patience with deferring to an administration that had all the marks of a criminal enterprise, rather than the criminals who created the problem in the first place.

Another Republican myth is that Bork was rejected because of something to do with his personal life. You'd be hard-pressed to find any evidence of this, but "the politics of personal destruction" allegedly began with Bork. And then those who admit that his views on matters of law might have had something to do with it think only his position on Roe v. Wade was an issue, neglecting to note that his contemptuous attitude toward the First Amendment might also have mattered to liberals.

The right-wing tells itself stories and then tells them to "moderates" and they all get together and believe that liberals are the bad children of America, it's all our fault. We must be - after all, the Republicans wear suits.

Suits. Wearing jeans, wearing your hair longer than convention calls for - those are the important issues. Not destabilizing countries, robbing our treasury, promoting and excusing torture, killing hundreds of thousands of people, betraying our nation.... No, not those things. We were bad, because we cared about the Bill of Rights, freedom and equality, making peace, helping the poor, and rewarding good, decent, honest work. And because we recognized history.

This RNC-DLC view of America says that it's the liberals who have been irresponsible, the right-wing that's been strong, responsible. They mistake a hot temper and a cold heart for strength.

I think I know where this leads. The Republicans have shown me a vision that was once unimaginable to me. There's a future where, if Osama bin Laden just manages to lie low long enough, the world will stop caring that he may have been the villain who brought the towers down. He will be the hero who precipitated the downfall of the evil empire of the United States. And by then our old friends will have tired of mourning what we once were, and gone on to tend their own gardens.

Last word to Tim Francis-Wright: For too long, Thomas Friedman and his "liberal hawk" chums decided that quaint ideas like decency, morality, and honor were less important than appearing "strong" against "terrorism." Thanks for nothing, guys.
14:11 BST

Eschaton archive note #14

So you don't have to....: NewsHounds watches Fox, and the hits just keep on comin'.

Hillary? Really? referencing new poll showing Sen. Clinton leading the polls at 53%; commentary by No More Mister Nice Blog, Attaturk, and Oliver Willis.

Been to Liberal Oasis lately? Dems need to filibuster Bolton, cultivating the next Saddam.

The Report - What Went Wrong In Ohio: The Conyers Report on the 2004 Presidential Election & Conyers' blog.
13:30 BST

Friday, 27 May 2005

More bloggy goodness

Melanie locates the bottom line at The Palm Beach Post: There would have been no looming confrontation in the Senate if President Bush had chosen better nominees for federal appeals court vacancies.

Patrick Connors wants us all to try to undo the whole Real ID thing. He's got a good argument, I suppose you could just pinch the list and send it off to your reps.

We keep trying to tell them, what bugs us about the "National Security Dems" isn't that they are concerned with national security or that they are prepared to take up arms in defense of the nation, but that they are just not serious enough about national security. PNH explains. (And check out this comment.)

How to make Barry Goldwater look like a liberal.
23:55 BST

Some stuff

No More Mister Nice Blog has a nice analysis of the poll in USA Today saying that 53% support Hillary for President. But in my heart of hearts, I know I couldn't support her in the primary and I can't help feeling this is a bad idea. Of course, if she's the Dem nominee, I will vote for her, but that kinda goes without saying.

What to say when Reuters says Pentagon says detainee retracts Koran allegation (well, actually, it was only Larry Di Rita who said this, which isn't really the same thing, but...) and the WaPo says Pentagon Substantiates Cases of Koran Mistreatment and the NYT says Inquiry by U.S. Finds 5 Cases of Koran Harm.... Armando at Daily Kos says the White House's campaign of distortion on this subject is the real story. Think Progress doesn't think they will be able to lie their way out of this one. E.J. Dionne knows the assault on Newsweek over it was part of a larger program by Bush apologists (and he uses the word "apologists" fluently). As a result, Ezra Klein says he's "glad to see the press waking from its slumber," but Dionne was already ahead of his colleagues in that department, anyway. However, Ezra points out that there's a serious effort now to educate real journalists to a higher standard than what we've been seeing lately. I'm not so sure they're looking at the problem the right way - there are still plenty of good journalists around, but the real question is whether they are being hired and allowed to do real journalism.

Via Progressive Gold, a good Steve Gilliard post takes issue with Matt Yglesias on national security and the image Democrats have, especially those hawkish Dems who keep falling in line with Republican policies: Republican foreign policy has been all talk and failure. Do Israelis sleep secure at night? Do Iranians have free and fair elections? Is Cuba a democracy? All GOP failed policies. Every one. [...] The time has come to call the GOP policy for the fraud it is and frame "toughness" as a way to promote and protect this country without claiming an imperial right. The right has failed and the left needs to state that and offer real, credible alternatives.
21:57 BST


I learn from Lean Left that Jeff Cooper is blogging again. Check him out, and especially on the story of the judge who told an Indiana couple they were forbidden to expose their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." . (Also via Cooped Up, ick.)

News Hounds has a transcript of a great Bill O'Reilly encounter with law professor Rosa Brooks, who held her own against the lying liar magnificently on the subject of "detainees".

The threat: the potential loss of every maple plus nine other tree species across the United States. The culprit.

Cursor: Sidney Blumenthal argues that Bush is "already plotting his revenge" after being thwarted in his desire to use his "wonder weapon for total victory," the "nuclear option," because "mutiny is broader than is apparent." Plus: "... in my line of work ..." and 'The right cries foul as Bush is foiled.'

With a Little Help From Our Friends in the NYT raises some questions about the "Newsweek riots". Majikthise summarizes: Basically, Chayes suspects that Pakistani intelligence agents exploited popular outrage over the Guantanamo atrocities. Why? Pakistan exerts quasi-colonial influence over much of Afghanistan and the Pakistani government resents the American presence in the region. The Khandahar-based Chayes wonders whether the riots were orchestrated (or deliberately exacerbated) as part of a Pakistani campaign to inflame anti-American sentiment.

Arthur Silber recommends an excellent post by Eric Alterman, How to lose a country in seven easy steps. Go read them both.
16:48 BST

Nothing to see here....

Roxanne was so excited by today's Friedman Column that she mailed me about this. But we have been here before, that moment when Friedman suddenly has an epiphany and notices what the rest of us have been shouting about for the last couple-three years. And then he suddenly takes a sabbatical to write a moronic book and comes back sounding just as lame as usual. I mean, for godssakes, what does it take to object to torture? Did he think it wasn't going on? Did he imagine that an administration that uses as a talking point the idea that the Geneva Conventions don't apply doesn't intend torture?

From The Rude Pundit, If Stalag 13 Had Been Like Bagram: Sure, when Klink called Col. Hogan to his office, Hogan expected to do the usual song and dance - flatter Klink, make implicit threats about the Commandant's status within the Luftwaffe, plant yet one more bug, wink at Helga, Klink's big-titted secretary (would Hogan have it any other way?), head back to quarters, and send more messages to the Allies about Nazi plans. Except not this time. No, when Hogan entered Klink's office, the monocle was off and Gestapo Officer Hochestetter was there with two big guards. Hogan wasn't sure what happened when the first rifle butt hit him in the nose, but the next thing he knew, his clothes were being cut off him and a hood was being placed on his head.
14:03 BST

Morning news

From a diary at Daily Kos by kb54010: Yesterday, the U.S House of Representatives approved this year's spending bill for the Department of Defense. During the debate, an unknown congressman named Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Mississippi made a suggestion: "Let's extend military health benefits to active-duty National Guardsmen and Reservists". Since they make up nearly 50% of our forces in Iraq, and since 20% of them are not currently covered, this didn't seem like a bad idea to the 211 congressmen, including 9 Republicans, who supported it during a vote. However, 218 Republicans voted no: the reason, at a cost of $1 billion a year, it was too expensive.

From Scout Prime: Action Wisconsin reports that Republican lawmakers have accepted an offer from an evangelical group to represent the Wisconsin Legislature in fighting the ACLU lawsuit that seeks equal benefits for lesbian and gay state workers. It's apparently the first time any state legislature has agreed to be represented by such a group. This is all about a move to allow domestic partner benefits to University of Wisconsin employees. The UW is the only school in the "Big Ten" that does not offer domestic partner health insurance. Governor Jim Doyle wants to allow UW to provide equal benefits, but Republican leaders have said they will reject his proposal.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent took a swipe at Tom DeLay in Wednesday's show. Delay made a big stink about it (via). And now the response: Producer Dick Wolf, creator of the "Law & Order" franchise, took a swipe at DeLay in his own statement on Thursday, saying, "I ... congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."

Media Matters: CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson stated that Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi "was dubbed the Al Qaeda link to Saddam Hussein" in 2003, but failed to note that this "link," which the Bush administration has perpetuated, has been thoroughly discredited. In the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi has emerged as a leader of the Iraqi insurgency. But Zarqawi's pre-war connections to both Saddam and Al Qaeda do not indicate cooperation or coordination.

Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler was unimpressed with Dean's performance on Press the Meat: Could a Dem leader look worse? Dean calls Bush a liar for saying there were WMD-then has to admit that he said the same thing! Years have gone by, and Dems still haven't developed a better presentation. (Hint: Focus on Bush's pre-war claims about nukes. Much of this was blatantly phony-and these claims weren't echoed by long lines of Dems going all the way back to Clinton.) (Well, yes, a Dem leader could be worse - Terry certainly was. But I'm always shocked by how badly Dem spokesbeings on these shows always seem to flub it. Someone should tell Dean to read Talking Points Memo and LiberalOasis every single day to avoid these problems.)

From Rachel Maddow's weblog: Finally, in our pet stories today, the California Governor. He has a political ad running now which features, his biceps, his shiny smile, and...Product placement! Look for the Cheetos.
11:37 BST

Thursday, 26 May 2005

What's it all about?

John Cole has a point that in a lot of ways it isn't that big a deal that maybe some Korans were or weren't, um, soiled by interrogators. (Personally, if the Koran was the only book I had to read while incarcerated, I'd be pretty pissed off if mine got ruined. But I'd feel that way if the only book I had to read was John Carter of Mars, which is the only book I've ever roundfiled. I mean, think of having nothing to read! I think I'd rather have the Bible, though, because it's a longer book.)

What's outrageous is that we've clearly done so many awful things that deliberate insults to the Koran are not only believable, they're small potatoes. We've incarcerated people for years without trial and tortured people to death, for godssakes, so what's one more indignity on the pile?

Anyway, I can't help the feeling that the whole point is to deliberately aggravate hostilities, and it's not about intelligence-gathering at all. If what the Bush cabal wants is to have perpetual war, this is pretty much the way to do it, isn't it?
17:37 BST

And now, it's time for...


The Bra of the Week (Yes, I realize I seem to have a rather elastic idea of how long a "week" is.)

Molly Ivins with your Quote of the Day from Senfronia Thompson in Texas: Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, 'Gay people can't marry.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Thou shalt discriminate against those not like me.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination.' Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness-not hate and discrimination. (Via Arthur Silber.)

I can't image how much alcohol Ann Coulter consumes before she opens her mouth in public, but it must be some powerful stuff. I mean, she's complaining about how few inroads the poor, helpless, conservative movement has made against the liberal media, and she says this: "It's like 1930's Germany and Bill Moyers is the Jew." (via)

Justin Raimondo has a spooky article on the Franklin spy story that let's you know just how treasonous the entire foreign policy apparatus in the Bush Family Empire really is.

I hate it when people argue for a draft, even when the particular formulation amuses me. But I don't think that part can fly.

Now that everyone's had to admit that the prison camp guards did flush the Koran, the wingers are still in denial. (Like here, because gods forbid we should remember that most of those people aren't terrorists.)

Bill Scher wasn't any happier with The Deal than I was, and says so here and here. He also has an article in The Star Tribune saying Democrats would do well to focus on Medicare . And MadKane has written a song for the occasion.

Seriously, what is wrong with this guy?
12:22 BST

Eschaton archive note #13

Propaganda: Arthur Silber, Doing God's Work, And How Propaganda Becomes "Truth".

Perspective re Mark Kleiman on Clarence Thomas.

Blowout government re Making Light post by Patrick and comment by Teresa.

What'd they expect?: Iraqi Christians Don't Want American Evangelicals.
03:22 BST

Bits o' news

Ex-medical journal editor reveals drug firms' dirty tricks: Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), has exposed a series of tricks used by drug firms to ensure good publicity for new products in prestigious journals. He said it was often impossible for editors of the journals to spot a rigged trial - despite the process of "peer review" where research is checked independently - and also highlighted a "conflict of interest" because publishing trials by major drug companies would result in increased sales.

French fries protester regrets war jibe: Walter Jones, the Republican congressman for North Carolina who was also the brains behind french toast becoming freedom toast in Capitol Hill restaurants, told a local newspaper the US went to war "with no justification".

Bill Maher bites back: I could go on and on, but this is too ridiculous, so I'll just say this: I'm not a congressman, I'm a comedian. There's nothing I can really do to help or hurt our troops (although anyone who's watched my shows or read my books in the last twelve years knows I'm a pretty ardent supporter of the military). But a congressman, there's someone who can actually DO SOMETHING to help our troops. In fact, a case could be made that it's a lot more treasonous for someone in his position to be wasting his time yelling at a comedian. Shouldn't he be training his outrage at such problems as troops not having enough armor?
02:15 BST

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

America is liberal

In case you missed today's Quinnipiac University poll results, here's a taste:

While American voters have mixed opinions about abortion, they support the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision 63 - 33 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Men support it 68 - 28 percent, while women support it 58 - 37 percent.
You know, you never would have guessed that from the way the press talks about it, would you?
Voters divided along party lines on the use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate "to keep unfit judges off the bench" or prevent a full vote on judicial nominees. Republicans oppose filibusters 48 - 39 percent while Democrats support their use 70 - 23 percent and independent voters back them 54 - 39 percent.

Voters nationwide approve 44 - 39 percent of the job the U.S. Supreme Court is doing, the lowest score for the court and down from a 56 - 27 percent approval in a March 5, 2003, poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

As President George W. Bush makes future Supreme Court nominations, 39 percent of Americans want to maintain the present ideological balance on the court, while 29 percent want the court to be more liberal and 27 percent want it to be more conservative.

Five'll get ya ten that most of the people who want the court to "maintain the present ideological balance" have no real understanding of what that balance is - and how far to the right of them it is.
65 percent haven't heard enough about Justice Antonin Scalia, the most widely quoted justice, to form an opinion;
Bet they'd be surprised.
23:17 BST

News & stuff

Does this seem familiar? Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) says Maher's comment on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" May 13, that the U.S. military has already recruited all the "low-lying fruit," is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the show.

In a stunning breach of the silence, Terry Neal in The Washington Post acknowledged that the right-wing attack on the media has nothing to do with a desire for fairness or good reporting: A certain and clear pattern has emerged when a damaging accusation or claim against the Bush administration or the Republican-led Congress is publicized: Bush supporters laser in on a weakness, fallacy or inaccuracy in the story's sourcing while diverting all attention from the issue at hand to the source or the accuser in the story.

Northwest Progressive has a wrap-up of the first day of the trial over the Republican challenge to the Democratic gubernatorial win in Washington state.

Go to Poynter and scroll down to the letter from David Ehrenstein while you still can, and then go read his article from last month in LA Weekly about anonymous sourcing and the press.

Why Ginger is getting rid of those Google ads.
20:22 BST

Patricia Nielsen Hayden

Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Teresa Nielsen Hayden have married their weblogs together. The URL for Electrolite will take you to the merged Making Light. There are new posts. Enjoy.
16:41 BST

What I read before going out for a Mango Kulfi

Sometimes when I check out the news, I think maybe I'm still asleep and dreaming this stuff, you know? I mean, what on earth is Westminster Council thinking when they ban rainbow flags in Soho? It makes no sense.

And surely I must be dreaming when I see a story in the WaPo saying that Republicans "broke" with the White House on anything, even if it is stem cell research. (Bush is threatening to veto something!) (via)

Here's something new: the first Online Congressional Hearing: The subject of this first hearing is the decision of United Airlines to abruptly terminate its traditional pension plan and dump $6.6 billion of losses onto the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the public agency that is supposed to guarantee private pensions for retirees. (Also via Rachel Maddow's weblog. Oh, and here's Rachel's take on the compromise, and I can't help but feel she's got it right.)

I like this story about how an "activist aims to scare officials into protecting personal data." I worry about the fact that it's way too easy for absolutely anyone to get private data about anyone, and that's partly because our elective officials have gone out of their way to facilitate on behalf of commercial entities. Read the article to the end for my favorite bit.

I see Atrios got to Broder before I did, and of course Broder is as usual doing his "common wisdom" trip that is really just about the false perceptions that infest the Washington press corps to the detriment of any actual analysis. If McCain and Lieberman and all the rest of them want to be their respective parties' poison pills, fine and dandy for them, but it's not "leadership" and it's not honest and it doesn't really do the nation any good, either.

Check out these video clips from Olbermann going after Scott McClellan's sudden climb-down from accusing Newsweek of causing the riots in Afghanistan, and also talking about the Koran-flushing advocate.
15:36 BST

Things to read

Et Cetera, And So On, on faith-based condoms.

A Typical Joe on online ads.

The Liquid List with a recent speech by Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Margaret H. Marshall.

Crooked Timber reminds us why Janice Rogers Brown is a lousy choice for a seat on the bench.

The Alna Erratic with the text of a useful speech by Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) in 1950.
02:34 BST

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

While I was out...

Let's see, which nail color goes best with the Beretta...?

I got some things in the mail, like the information that Pravda is comparing Bush to Hitler, from Ahistoricality.

Steve Smith (of Smythe's World) offered his explanation of the upside of the filibuster deal:

For the purposes of understanding what "extraordinary circumstances" are, the most important language in the deal is the statement that:
"We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word 'Advice' speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President's power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration."
Now that there is a constitutional interpretation that necessitates the use of consensus as a condition for the Senate exercising its "advise and consent" responsibilities, a judicial nominee that doesn't have bipartisan support beforehand can rightly be viewed as an "extraordinary" case justifying filibuster. As far as the ramifications down the road if Janice Brown or Patricia Owen is nominated for the Supreme Court, there is ample precedent for applying higher standards for the approval of a judge to a circuit court of appeals than for the Supreme Court; witness Abe Fortas, Robert Bork, Clem Haynesworth, etc., who were all denied promotion even though they had been approved early by the Senate for lower courts (or in the case of Fortas, as an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court). Appellate judges are reviewable; Supreme Court justices are not.
Steve is a lawyer. Me, I'll believe this works just as soon as Congress holds Bush to the terms of the Iraq resolution. (Steve posted his own reaction to the deal on his weblog.)

Judd Legum says:

I think moving forward, the most important thing we can do is hold everyone to the filibuster deal as written. DeWine immediately started to trying to wriggle his way out. His interpretation of the deal is wrong.
The "wriggle" is described - and refuted - here. Sounds great - but see above.

Arthur Silber put up several posts while I wasn't looking, and I couldn't help zeroing in on this paragraph from an article about "the 'freedom' that we seek to spread throughout the world":

In the most fundamental inversion of the political system established by the founders, the government is quickly becoming all-powerful, with no restraints of any kind on its actions-neither from the courts, nor from the Constitution itself. As for you-the citizen, the people, from whom all power was originally to be derived-you are less than nothing.
And Daryl McCullough (of Combing the Sphere) wrote:
I try to look on the bright side, but I always have this sneaking suspicion that optimists are people who aren't facing reality. I don't see what the Democrats get out of this deal, either. They are removing the obstacles to the appointments of three terrible nominees, Owen, Brown, and Pryor. In return, they retain the right to (try to) filibuster some future, even worse nominees.

The only up side I can see is that James Dobson is pissed off about the deal. But who knows? Maybe that's all an act.

By the way, I very much appreciate your blog. It's very patriotic of you to care so much about the US from so far away in England. Some days I feel like I would like to be far away so that I can forget about what is happening here.

Daryl, I'm sure there is a cave somewhere that you could go to and not be affected by what's going on, but the truth is that no matter where you are, the only way to not care is to simply not care.

Update: And no sooner did I post that than I looked around and discoverd that Frist is already reneging.
23:51 BST

Keeping track

Charles Dodgson (of Through the Looking Glass) in my e-mail:

Subject: Reid's deal...

"Ever since I assumed my present office my main purpose has been to work for the pacification of Europe, for the removal of those suspicions and those animosities which have so long poisoned the air. The path which leads to appeasement is long and bristles with obstacles. The question of Czechoslovakia is the latest and perhaps the most dangerous. Now that we have got past it, I feel that it may be possible to make further progress along the road to sanity."

-- Neville Chamberlain, defending the Munich agreement before parliament


Mike the Corpuscle disagrees with me, and so does Steve Soto:
Again, it wasn't a satisfying victory tonight for many on the left, but such a victory in a 55-44-1 Senate would have resulted in a victory on principle and nothing else. We live to fight another day, in a better position now in the court of public opinion than before, while protecting the Supreme Court beachhead. And Bill Frist lost face with the American Taliban and lost the car keys to the Senate at the same time.

Trust me, we're doing fine.

Good job, Senator Reid.

I don't know. These are all smart, insightful people, and it's a matter of whether we're seeing the glass as half-empty or half-full, I guess, but my instincts are still screaming. The thing is, no matter what happens, my instincts are screaming with the Retaliban in charge.

Kevin Drum updates: In comments, NSF reports that Lindsey Graham claims that of the three who will get votes (Brown, Owen, and Pryor), one will end up getting defeated on a bipartisan basis. A secret codicil? Hmmm..... I'd thought of that myself, but dismissed it as a fantasy. (Well, my fantasy involved them all being defeated.) Thing is, I don't trust any promises made by Republicans unless they are promises that screw America.

In other news, another update, also via Kevin, from the Magpie at Pacific Views, on the story I referenced over at Eschaton about how women don't get referenced as often as men, with more details.

And again from Kevin two stories I was going to reference earlier until I got distracted by the whole filibuster thing, about Healthcare: I believe that national healthcare in the United States is inevitable. It won't come without a lot of kicking and screaming, of course, but it will come nonetheless. Two recent articles demonstrate why. One is about how employer healthcare deals are getting a lot chintzier, and the other is about how with genetic testing, insurers are soon likely to shrink the pool of people they are willing to insure at reasonable cost to those who seem like genetically safe bets. That's going to be way too expensive for too many of us - it really does look like it's all going to fall apart. (Due to a computer crash, I lost another story on this subject and can't remember where I saw it, about businesses actively pushing for national healthcare - finally. Long-time readers of The Sideshow will remember that I have been wondering when this was going to happen.)
14:14 BST

"Blankets for land" was also "a deal"

You should read Norm Ornstein to understand what happened last night. Ornstein is widely respected by many liberals even though he is from the right-wing American Enterprise Institute (AEI). And a couple weeks ago, he said:

Let us put aside for now the puerile arguments over whether judicial filibusters are unprecedented: They clearly, flatly, are not. Instead, let's look at the means used to achieve the goal of altering Senate procedures to block filibusters on judicial nominations.

Without getting into the parliamentary minutiae--the options are dizzying, including whether points of order are "nested"--one reality is clear. To get to a point where the Senate decides by majority that judicial filibusters are dilatory and/or unconstitutional, the Senate will have to do something it has never done before.

Richard Beth of the Congressional Research Service, in a detailed report on the options for changing Senate procedures, refers to it with typical understatement as "an extraordinary proceeding at variance with established procedure."

To make this happen, the Senate will have to get around the clear rules and precedents, set and regularly reaffirmed over 200 years, that allow debate on questions of constitutional interpretation--debate which itself can be filibustered. It will have to do this in a peremptory fashion, ignoring or overruling the Parliamentarian. And it will establish, beyond question, a new precedent. Namely, that whatever the Senate rules say--regardless of the view held since the Senate's beginnings that it is a continuing body with continuing rules and precedents--they can be ignored or reversed at any given moment on the whim of the current majority.

There have been times in the past when Senate leaders and presidents have been frustrated by inaction in the Senate and have contemplated action like this. Each time, the leaders and presidents drew back from the precipice. They knew that the short-term gain of breaking minority obstruction would come at the price of enormous long-term damage--turning a deliberative process into something akin to government by the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland."

Rule XXII is clear about extended debate and cloture requirements, both for changing Senate rules (two-thirds required) and any other action by the Senate, nominations or legislation (60 Senators required). Ignored in this argument has been Senate Rule XXXI, which makes clear that there is neither guarantee nor expectation that nominations made by the president get an up-or-down vote, or indeed any action at all.

In other words, to eliminate the rule that allows filibusters, they still need a super-majority - which means that that change, too, can be filibustered. But the plan is to simply ignore that requirement and pretend they can change the rules with a simple majority.

This is, of course, exactly how the current Republican leadership has handled pretty much every issue. Don't like a treaty? Just pretend it doesn't stand. Don't like a Constitutional right? Ditto. The judiciary doesn't have its own police force, so even a Supreme Court ruling can be ignored (as has been done with regard to the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo) so the Republicans can do what they want.

But what makes this deal a deal? All it says is that if Democrats find judges so extreme that they filibuster, the Republicans will break the rules to override them, so if the Democrats stop filibustering, the Republicans won't break the rule.

There's a vague exception that says if the circumstances are extraordinary, the Democrats will still filibuster, but if one Republican thinks there's a filibuster and it isn't really extraordinary, they'll still pull the nuclear option.

So, to start with, we have raised the bar on what constitutes "extraordinary circumstances", since we now have an agreement not to filibuster three extraordinarily extreme judges - Brown, Pryor, and Owen.

It's hard to know whether it would have been more insane to refuse the deal, since we don't know where the Republicans in that deal really stood. Would they really have agreed to go along with the "nuclear option" if the Democrats had refused the deal? And if that happened, would the imperial Republicans have gone on to be even more insane than they have already been? They don't appear to recognize any limits, so you have to ask yourself if you're really, really sure they'd draw the line at, oh, making lampshades out of people.

But then, what's to stop them anyway? When do the Democrats get to draw the line, and if they do, what makes us so sure the Republicans would decide the situation was "extraordinary" enough that they'd accept it?

I'm sorry, I know the Freepers hate this as much as the left does, and Kos is saying the other side lost, but what did they lose? They still have the filibuster as an issue to rant about and they get their anti-democratic, anti-Constitutional, corporatist judges. And the Lieberman wing ignored the needs of the nation and took over representing the Democratic Party yet again. So what did we "win"?

Kos also says that Russ Feingold agrees with me:

This is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people. Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House. Confirming unacceptable judicial nominations is simply a green light for the Bush administration to send more nominees who lack the judicial temperament or record to serve in these lifetime positions.
Is there really any other way to look at it?
12:04 BST

Eschaton archive note #12

Bruce: TalkLeft says DemBloggers got the video of Da Boss on CBS Sunday Morning.

Senators said to reach filibuster deal - AP story as it broke.
11:05 BST

Monday, 23 May 2005

Culture of life

They haven't been put on trial, they haven't been able to face their accusers, they have no rights, they are subject to torture even when no one believes they are guilty of anything; they have even been tortured to death. And now, apparently that isn't good enough: Camp Delta death chamber plan.

That's just what we need to make our country safe for decent Americans.
23:57 BST

Eschaton archive note #11

"Pharisees" referencing Suburban Guerrilla on Howard Dean's Meet the Press appearance.

disGrace referencing Peter Hartlaub and Dan Gillmor on Nancy Grace.

Wimmin, referencing Roxanne and a buncha other women.
23:30 BST

Republican cry-baby stories

Sometimes it's hard to believe, but it's still going on in the Washington governor's race:

For months, state Republicans have insisted that hundreds of votes cast illegally by felons put Democrat Christine Gregoire in the governor's mansion.

But a Seattle Times analysis finds that even if those votes were disqualified, Gregoire would still prevail over GOP challenger Dino Rossi.

So now the trial begins:
Petitioners will ask the Court at the conclusion of the case to set aside the issuance of the certification of election to Gregoire, on the ground that, after deduction of illegal votes from both candidates, the evidence shows that Rossi received more legal votes than Gregoire, and on the alternative ground that as a consequence of the errors, neglect omissions and misconduct of election officials, the true outcome of the general election for the office of Governor cannot be known.
These links come to you via some horse's ass who doesn't believe in permalinks, but scroll to "All the news that fits (your way of thinking)" and "Incredibly tedious trial to start" for details and commentary, and note that there is more coverage there of the local politics and gee it sure is a shame about the permalinks.

Update:The Horse's Ass informs me that there are permalinks, but they need to be fixed so that they're easier to find. All the news that fits (your way of thinking), Incredibly tedious trial to start, and Courtroom update: observations on the GOP's opening statement.
19:14 BST

News and advice

Read Josh Marshall on why he hasn't written much about the Downing Street Memo, and how this reminded him of something that happened while he was working on the Niger uranium story.

Via Rachel Maddow's weblog, an NYT story on the murdered Afghan TV Host: A ground-breaking Afghan television host whose Western style drew praise from youthful fans and condemnation from Muslim clerics may have been killed with involvement from her own brothers, the police said Friday. Things are really going great in Afghanistan, especially for women!

Harper Lee makes rare appearance at the LA Public Library's annual dinner, where she received their literary award. She came at the request of Veronique Peck, Gregory Peck's widow, and was presented with the award by Brock Peters*, who played Tom Robinson, Atticus Finch's client, in To Kill A Mockingbird. The event raised $700,000 for computers, computer training and literacy programs.

How to get up in the morning
17:39 BST

Looking for money

Whenever I see another article about how much money we owe to other countries - and how unlikely it is that they will continue to float our loans indefinitely - I get into a a bit of a funk. I can still become breathless with disbelief when Congress - with little fanfare and virtually no argument - passes yet another blank check to the White House slush fund ostensibly pegged for troops and rebuilding in Iraq - in a phony "emergency" bill, no less. We already know it doesn't go to the troops and no rebuilding gets done. (And, by the way, we've been at war for a while now, it's hardly as if we didn't know it would cost money, so why is this an "emergency"?)

This administration is borrowing money so fast you can't help wondering if they want to break the country. And then what?

Paul Krugman knows that it's not just news junkies who are feeling the fear. In this morning's NYT, he returns to the subject of Americans overwhelmingly telling pollsters that they are more concerned with debt than with terrorism, and that what they want is a stronger safety net. And why wouldn't they? It's not as if everything's been coming up roses lately, and only a fool believes you can trust corporations not to steal your pension out from under you. Not many of us really believe we're about to make a killing in the stock market, either. Krugman reminds us that we have seen some of this before:

In 1928 Al Smith, the governor of New York, was defeated in an ugly presidential campaign in which Protestant preachers warned their flocks that a vote for the Catholic Smith was a vote for the devil. But four years later F.D.R. took office, and the New Deal began.

Of course, the coming of the New Deal was hastened by a severe national depression. Strange to say, we may be working on that, too.

I'm afraid that seems all too true. Only this time, we will be in a much worse position, thanks to George Bush having worked so hard to divest us of any friends, and instead to make enemies of them.

All of which makes me think about this - how some towns survived during the depression by in essence creating their own, localized, economies. We may have to start thinking soon about how to opt out of the national economy in order to survive. Are you ready?

(My thanks to Pete Hisey for finding me that last link.)
14:12 BST


OK, I've decided to put The Huffington Post on the blogroll on the grounds that it's actually got some good stuff on it. Aside from that remarkable story from Al Franken about how people who should know better were unaware of how the money that was supposed to rebuild Iraq has just disappeared, there's this from Norman Mailer:

I'm beginning to see why one would want to write a blog. At present, I have a few thoughts I can certainly not prove, but the gaffe over the Michael Isikoff story in Newsweek concerning the Koran and the toilet is redolent with bad odor. Who, indeed, was Isikoff's supposedly reliable Pentagon source? One's counter-espionage hackles rise. If you want to discredit a Dan Rather or a Newsweek crew, just feed them false information from a hitherto reliable source. You learn that in Intelligence 101A.
The old man seems to be getting it - he even embeds links in his text. And there's other interesting stuff up there, too.

Steve Soto has a good piece up at The Left Coaster on the Walter Pincus article in the WaPo that finally discusses the Downing Street Memo as part of a larger examination of how it wasn't the intelligence community's fault that the administration got it all wrong in Iraq.

NewsHog finds Robert Anton Wilson writing up a bill to impose Biblical marriage laws on the country. And also does the terrorist comparison test.

Reading A1 is unprepared to trust "a corporate environmental criminal to make coal green."

Bobcat blogging
03:25 BST

Why they keep getting it wrong

There's not much point in having a literal interpretation of a book you haven't read:

* Perhaps 15 percent of Americans participate in Bible studies.
* The number of people who read the Bible, at least occasionally is 59 percent.
* Less than 50 percent of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis).
* Only 1/3 of Americans know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (more people identified Billy Graham rather than Jesus).
* Twenty-five percent of Americans don't know what is celebrated on Easter (the Resurrection of Christ, the foundational event of Christianity).
* Twelve percent of Christians think that Noah's wife is Joan of Arc.
* Eighty percent of born-again Christians (including George W. Bush) think it is the Bible that says "God helps them that help themselves." (Actually it was said by Benjamin Franklin.)

This little bit of enlightenment was tucked into a larger post by Lance Mannion.
01:25 BST


Howard Dean was most excellent on Meet the Press, and didn't let Tim Russert get away with all his RNC talking points. Dean had his own: You can't trust Republicans with your money. Via Dohiyi Mir.

Gary Farber has suddenly been posting a lot again.

Mike the Corpuscle has advice for everyone who isn't in the radical right, on the grounds that it's looking like we're all faggots, now.

Word of the day: Epyllion, thanks to James Wolcott.
00:07 BST

Sunday, 22 May 2005

Call to prayer

Check out Echidne for your Sunday sermon.

Laura Bush unites Muslims and Jews: JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Protesters jostled and harangued U.S. first lady Laura Bush on Sunday when she visited a flashpoint Jerusalem shrine holy to both Muslims and Jews and at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Religious right always hated America.

Unexplained: James Watt wastes valuable real estate in The Washington Post saying it is a libel to claim that he ever publicly stated that it was unnecessary to practice conservation because the rapture was coming soon - yet fails to explain why his policies were consistent with that belief.

Magpie tries to count the dead.
20:13 BST


Frank Rich is so good today I won't bother with the quibbling. It's All Newsweek's Fault:

But if something good can come out of something bad, the administration's overkill of Newsweek may focus greater public attention on just how much it is using press-bashing to deflect attention from the fictions spun by its own propaganda machine.
Daniel Okrent, on the other hand, in a column listing "13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did," drops an interesting slur on Paul Krugman without any back-up:
Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults. Maureen Dowd was still writing that Alberto R. Gonzales "called the Geneva Conventions 'quaint' " nearly two months after a correction in the news pages noted that Gonzales had specifically applied the term to Geneva provisions about commissary privileges, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments. Before his retirement in January, William Safire vexed me with his chronic assertion of clear links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, based on evidence only he seemed to possess.

No one deserves the personal vituperation that regularly comes Dowd's way, and some of Krugman's enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn't mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn't hold his columnists to higher standards.

That's it. What numbers does he mean? And doesn't he realize that writing anything, no matter how fair-minded and accurate, that doesn't make George Bush look like a candidate for sainthood, would open him up to assaults from his critics, who invent "substance" out of thin air? Which is pretty much where these criticisms of Krugman come from. Okrent claims he omitted specifics because, "I decided to impersonate an opinion columnist." Unfortunately, that columnist was David Brooks, who talks a lot of crap but was strangely absent from mention in this column.
17:30 BST

How does this sound to you?

I wish Carolyn Kay of Make Them Accountable would post these things on her site so I could just link to them, but this looks interesting:

Friends, the Democratic Party power structure is at it again, doing their best to suppress the grassroots.

Christine Cegelis, in 2004, won 44% of the vote against the formidable Henry Hyde with a budget of only $140,000. It may well be that her success in that race convinced Henry to finally announce his resignation.

So did the Democratic Party rush to get behind Christine when she announced she'll run again in Hyde's district (Illinois Sixth) in 2006? Absolutely not! The Party is encouraging rich white males to run against her in the primary, thereby drying up potential early contributions in the district--donations that could give her an early jump in the race.

This is a woman who can win. And imagine the bragging rights! PROGRESSIVE WOMAN WINS HENRY HYDE'S CONGRESSIONAL SEAT!

As radio talk show host and former U.S. Senate candidate Nancy Skinner once asked, do we really want to be in the situation again where we run OUR boring white guy against THEIR boring white guy?


The best way to do that is to show financial support NOW for Christine Cegelis.

Here's what you can do:

Contribute as much as you possibly can--right now. Don't wait, please.

Send this message to as many people as you can, and ask them to pass it on, as well.

If you have a website and/or a mailing list, post a link to Christine's contributions page, along with the text from this message.

To interview Christine for your publication, contact her campaign manager, Pat Mogge,, 847-797-8317. Christine is an interesting guest with an interesting story, no matter which state your broadcast in.

We just can't let the Party power structure keep kicking us in the teeth.

Wouldn't it be cool to put this woman in Henry Hyde's seat. I just love that idea!
02:46 BST

Eschaton archive note #10

It's the hypocrisy, stoopid: Arthur Silber finds another killer publisher.

Useless media referencing LiberalOasis on an LAT love note to Priscilla Owen.

Killing the messenger referencing The Mahablog on the unlikely number of accidental deaths of journalists in Iraq.

It wasn't My Pet Goat referencing Dave Trowbridge and John Gaddis book Bush claims to have loved.
02:32 BST

Saturday, 21 May 2005

News & analysis

Helga alerts me to an interview with David North about the decline of the great western empire.

Media Matters for America wrote to The New York Times about its proposed tightening of standards.

Matt Miller is Waiting for C.E.O.'s to Go 'Nuclear' on the biggest crisis of all - health care. (Isn't some smart liberal shopping this around to CEOs yet? It would save them money and make life easier all around.) Via Dispassionate Liberal, who is looking at the big picture.

Max is more red-white-and-blue than ever in his new format, and examines the meaning behind Undergate.

I seem to have missed Jonathan Chait's piece on Big Government Conservatism, but John-Paul didn't.

Stan Goff writes an open letter to the empty space between Democrats' ears about what they should learn from George Galloway. Via Wolcott.

WireCan detects a racist subtext in military recruitment lies.

Fiat Lux learns about some weird animal rights extremists.
18:00 BST


Josh Marshall:

For all the constitutional mischief they're in the midst of making, we should probably thank the 50+ senate Republicans for giving us an extended moment to see so clearly just who they really are.

Remember that this entire political uproar is supposedly about originalism, the need for judges who will interpret the law and the constitution not according to our personal wishes or the political needs of the moment, but according to its original and long-settled meaning. That is, we're told, their aim. And yet to accomplish this they are quite happy to use a demonstrably bogus interpretation of the constitution to overturn two centuries of settled understanding of what the document means and requires.

Before everyone's eyes, everything about the constitution is subservient to their need for power.

Current polling says that people are overwhelmingly opposed the idea that Congress should rubber-stamp a president's nominees, and they support the idea of keeping the filibuster in order to put the brakes on radical nominations or policies. More specifically, a large majority of Americans want Democrats to restrict the Republicans and George W. Bush in their efforts to ram through radical nominees and policies. Not too many people seem to be falling for Republican talking points on this issue.

At Faithful Progressive, we learn that one Senator has come up with a not unpredictable name for one of those talking points:

During this week's debate on judicial nominations, Sen. Patrick Leahy aptly described Sen. Bill Frist's unsavory efforts to relate the rejection of a small number of Bush nominees to hostility to "people of faith." "This kind of religious McCarthyism is fraudulent on its face," Sen. Leahy declared. "It's contemptible. Contemptible." One can almost hear Sen. Frist re-formulating that infamous question: "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a liberal Methodist choir?"
And there's no point in asking if, at long last, they have any shame. We already know they don't.
14:43 BST

The truth is out there...somewhere

Gosh, I nearly missed it. Thanks to The Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog, I now know that The New York Times finally did a story on the Downing Street Memo. Bless you, John Conyers.

At FAIR, Newsweek, the Quran and the "Green Mushroom": Newsweek ran a sensational claim based on an anonymous source who turned out to be completely wrong. While one can't blame the subsequent violence entirely on this report, it's fair to say that credulous reporting like this contributed to a climate in which many innocent Muslims died. The inaccurate Newsweek report appeared in the magazine's March 17, 2003 issue, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. (Thanks to Helga.)

Bradblog reports that Galloway's Senate testimony has been scrubbed from the official committee website.
03:30 BST

Stuff from around

The Carpetbagger Report found a fine quote from Senator Man-on-Dog, who says he hasn't read the Bible, doesn't read Scripture, but "reads magazines and journals offering commentary on religion." Yeah, that's the way to do it.

Kung Fu Monkey finds two headlines (the links seem to be bloggered at the moment, so go to the main page and search on Marching Ever Forward): American Congress Moves to Bar Women from Combat and Pakistan's First Female Fighter Pilots "Doing Rather Well".

Trippi has a site up for Mfume for U.S. Senate. There is, of course, a weblog of sorts.

Scape of Bellingham Bay by Ed Stephan.
01:18 BST


Between the attack on Pearl Harbor and V-J Day there were 1,346 days. Yesterday marked 1,346 days since 9/11. Scorpio and Amanda both take note.

TBogg studyin' on demagoguery with some help from Hugh Hewitt: Hugh doesn't practice demagoguery. He got it down cold.

Some nuggets via Peak:

Prometheus responding to a serious case of false equivalence and poor terminology from Newsweaks's Howard Fineman. (Boy, they sure can pick 'em over there, can't they?)

Sirota on Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich's veto of legislation that would have forced Wal-Mart to give decent benefits to employees, and his shocking public display of being in the pocket of Big Business.

MoveOn's Star Wars video.

Steve Gilliard on liberal appeasement bloggers.

Nico Pitney at Think Progress with Max Baucus one-upping all the Hitler comparisons with a stirring invocation of the fall of democracy in Rome: It was not the abolition of the Senate that made the emperor powerful. It was the Senate's complete deference.
00:08 BST

Friday, 20 May 2005

Not unexpected

Metro does short interviews that you can actually find on their website. Today's 60 Second Interview starts like this:

Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray spoke out against the human rights abuses of the US-funded regime long before the recent massacre. He lost his job last year and stood against Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the General Election to protest against Western policy in the region and the war in Iraq.

You warned more than a year ago that Uzbekistan would explode. How angry are you to see it happening?

It gives me no pleasure to be proved right. It's interesting to see the hypocrisy of Jack Straw and others claiming they are doing something. We've long known that this was a terrible regime and it was bound to lead to public protest. And we knew that the regime would act viciously against that protest. President Karimov has the arrogance that comes from knowing he has the support of both Washington and Moscow.

President Karimov of Uzbekistan is a brutal dictator but he's our dictator. Discuss.

Yes, that's very much the American line.

Moral clarity's just been busting out all over, hasn't it?
20:37 BST

News stuff

So, this morning's NYT is telling us about two people who were tortured to death by US soldiers. What's interesting about the story, which isn't really new in itself, is that it makes it pretty clear that these soldiers were not just partying around in their free time - they were under orders. [Update: Chris Floyd with the appropriate reaction.]

That was via John Cole, who still calls himself a Republican but understands that doing this stuff is considerably worse than merely publishing stories about it.

But both he and the dreary Richard Cohen are still making the mistake of thinking that the Newsweek story itself was wrong. No, it's just that one source says he saw the detail about the Koran being "flushed" in different documents than the one said it was in.

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum points to this story which raises more questions about the game the administration is playing with Newsweek, noting that the magazine had checked the story first with two DoD officials, neither of whom disputed the report.

In other news, I never thought I'd see the day when South Korea was scientifically ahead of us, but then they don't have laws against stem cell research.
16:04 BST

Oh, yeah?

Digby has the story, and the cartoon, but let's have a brief look at this 9 May article in The Times of India, Washington Times cartoon sets Pakistan on fire:

ISLAMABAD: A cartoon in The Washington Times lampooning Pakistan's role in the US war on terror has turned into a rallying point for nationalist passions and hidden anti-American sentiments here.
"We are disgusted with the insensitivity of the editors of the Washington Times. They have insulted the 150 million people of Pakistan," said Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan's charge d'affaires in Washington.
So, as Digby put it:
It appears that there is quote a bit more to this Newsweak story than meets the eye, doesn't it? It doesn't take a genius, or an expert in the history of the Taliban to know that they claim quite a bit of support in Pakistan.

This article indicates that the original protests in Pakistan were as much concerned about the cartoon as about the Koran story (which, by the way, every Muslim in the world undoubtedly already knew about.) Does the American press -- Newsweak itself! --- not realize that this was a huge deal over there?

Let's see the 101st Chairborne Fighting Keyboarders start screaming about "irresponsibility" at The Washington Times.
13:22 BST

Eschaton archive note #9

Market forces: If right-wing media is so popular, how come NRO can't pull in enough money?

"Interest groups": Bill Scher detectsthe new meme from the right-wing on why Democrats must "compromise".

Medium Lobster's verdict: Stop Newsweek... Before It Kills Again!
13:17 BST

Some stuff

Right, we all found it wonderfully gratifying to listen to or watch Galloway's speech, no lie. I have found this true of everyone I've conversed with ever since, regardless of location or nationality. Even people who can't stand him loved it. Except, of course, those who had a stake in pretending he is more corrupt than the Bush administration. But do read Jeanne's commentary on the subject, which contains an interesting bit of instruction for the Democratic leadership, among other things.

Blogenlust explains how to write for Reuters by use of Mad Libs, then discovers AP getting into the act.

TBogg finds what must be the wimpiest expression of patriotism yet.

Norbizzness presents: Sistani Knows Best.

Dominic (of Epicycle) tipped me off that Country Joe is streaming the complete Paris Sessions at his site (the yellow box on the left sidebar). That's the one with the feminist songs on it with The All Star Band. On this page he has all his stuff about "the current crisis", including a new song called "Cakewalk to Baghdad". Also, this:

Current Terror Level
YELLOW: Whaddaya know, Karl, it worked.  That Goebbels feller was right.

01:22 BST

Thursday, 19 May 2005

Weblogs to read today

Modulator - which, among other things, has found a database of Crime in Chicago.

Gail Online - who, as always, has some neat pictures and some interesting links. I was reading her latest, and this entry in particular, and thinking, "Why do the right-wingers want to do away with the concept of common-law marriage altogether?" I mean, this is hardly a modern idea....

Roger "the good one" Ailes, who has a clear eye on Mickey Kaus.

This Old Brit, weeping over the new moral clarity of a brave new world where what we learn from history is that we don't learn nothin' from history.

The Mahablog, which has a great summation of this week's media madness and the larger terrain, and a look at how we are Losing it - that is, losing The American Dream.

King of Zembla and Suburban Guerrilla, on everything.
17:25 BST

Matters of interest

David Sirota says everyone, even the far-right Eagle Forum, is resisting CAFTA. Via Rachel Maddow, who says, "I say again, we are SO invading South (or Central) America."

Susie Bright says the reaction to her eulogy for Andrea Dworkin was so strong that she's decided to put all the articles that were "inspired by Andrea" together in one pamphlet. She's asking for a donation of $9 for those who want it.

Mouthpiece says that Buzzmetrics is looking for feedback on the study (.pdf) they did with Pew on political blogs. (Thanks to Val at Nthposition for the tip.)

Chris Floyd has been on the case of the little girl that Jeb Bush's people keep trying to kill. Says Chris: If Marissa's case had garnered even one-tenth of the national media attention larded on the partisan hokum of the Teri Schiavo carnival, Jeb would be feeling too much political heat to try to beat the rap. But of course there was no mention of the story in the national media at all.

Greg Palast gives out Awards; to Newsweek, Cowardice in Journalism, and to Condoleezza Rice his Joseph Goebbels Ministry of Propaganda Iron Cross.
14:25 BST

On the landscape

First we had Clarence Thomas complain that being forced to sit through an actual hearing on his nomination to the Supreme Court was tantamount to a "lynching", and now we have this: On the same day that a federal judge whose family was assassinated testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about courthouse safety, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) described Democratic efforts opposing some of President Bush's judicial nominees as "leadership-led use of Cloture vote to kill, to defeat, to assassinate these nominees." Update: Think Progress has more, with the video clip.

Everyone in the country is urging that the Patriot Act, or an awful lot of it, should be scrapped or at least narrowed to something more closely resembling constitutionality, but Pat Roberts (R-Nazgul) is introducing legislation to broaden it further and, of course, make it permanent. (via)

Last week, John Tierney argued in The New York Times that the press shouldn't cover suicide bombings, because it just scares people. While it is true that allowing terrorists to terrorize the public really does mean that the terrorists are winning, there's a whole lot more to the issue than this. Bruce Schneier, dissatisfied with other criticisms of Tierney's article, offered his own take.

While helping to promote the attack on Newsweek, Glenn Reynolds revisited his "Using free speech causes censorship" argument and threw in a straw man that is tediously typical of the right-wing "intellectual" style of argument in defending the invasion and occupation. (The right-wing seems to think that the only news source the people of Afghanistan have access to is Newsweek - like they haven't already heard this stuff from other English-speaking sources, not to mention from Aljazeera and from each other.) Arthur Silber puts it all under the microscope for us.

Star wars link-fest, including Lego Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick, from the ever-enlightening Biomes Blog.
12:29 BST

Eschaton archive note #8

(Well, that was bracing. I'm still thinking about having comments here. Technical advice is welcome.)

Echidne and Attaturk did a great job, I gotta say.

Support liberal media on The Consortium.

For your reading pleasure referencing Galloway's speech at Kos.
12:15 BST

Wednesday, 18 May 2005


I've been waiting to see what Robert Parry would say about all these Newsweek stories, since he has a personal interest in it all dating back to his own time working for that magazine, where he was punished for doing good journalism. And now he's written Newsweek Finds Bad Stories Aren't Equal: But possibly a more dangerous consequence of the story is that it will reinforce the growing perception in Washington journalism that the fastest way to ruin your career is to write something that gets you on the wrong side of George W. Bush and his administration. That means there could be even less critical reporting about the War on Terror and the Iraq War.

Lean Left examines the connections between the attacks on Newsweek, PBS, and the free press in general.

Ann Zook is sounding more thoughtful than peevish lately. Check out, for example, The Liberals Are Coming!
23:55 BST

Quick overview

The charges against Galloway, let's remember, are based on two things: (a) crude forgeries that for a time fooled the Telegraph, and (b) forgeries so crude that even the Torygraph was not fooled. It's no wonder he was champing at the bit to let Norman Coleman and his cronies have it for pretending that Galloway could possibly be more guilty than the US administration for the corruption in Iraq. And Galloway was certainly right that if they'd had the goods on him, we would have seen them. So, as Henley says: Muttering darkly that "If in fact he lied to this committee, there will have to be consequences," as quoted in the Post report, won't cut it.

Everybody knows that what Newsweek reported was not new and did not cause the riots. And anyone who is paying attention knows that if the 101st Chairborne Fighting Keyboarders really cared about bad reporting and its consequences for the nation and the world, they would be giving it to Isikoff as hard as they did Dan Rather and as hard as they are giving it to the magazine Isikoff works for, and they would have been going after him a very long time ago.

The Poor Man, who understands what all this is about, explains the First Amendment, and The Mahablog puts it all together.
15:59 BST

The media storm

I'm really disgusted with the Newsweek retraction, of course, but this is, after all, the same magazine that wimped out on the Iran-Contra story back when the environment wasn't nearly as hostile as it is now.

Magpie at Pacific Views: Missing the point entirely: That's not exactly news when we're talking about the 'mainstream' media in the US. And, as an excellent piece by Brian Montopoli points out, missing the point is the big story in how the media is covering the Newsweek scandal.

Kevin Drum, noting that the Newsweek story made the front page of the NYT and the LAT, and page 3 of the WaPo, while the LAT put the Downing Street memo on page 3, the WaPo buried it on page 18 (after two weeks!), and the NYT still hasn't covered it: "That's some top notch news judgment, guys." Too right. Still, Kevin says Froomkin reckons the Downing Street memo is a UXB that may still provide some fireworks. And, there's a big piece about it The New York Review of Books dated 9 June.

And, of course, read everything that Digby says.

Update: Where The Right Is Taking The Newsweek Story: I checked Rush Limbaugh's radio show today to see what The Party is putting out there. Rush says that the entire story about interrogators flushing Korans down toilets was an intentional lie. He says Newsweek "didn't make a mistake," but that it was "attempt to undermine the effort" that Bush is making in the Middle East.
01:47 BST

Tuesday, 17 May 2005

News & views

Did you know that in the last month there have been three oil spills in Alaska? Actually, it would be unfair to call it under-reported because in order to count as such, someone would actually have to have reported on it.

The Boston Globe has an unusually fair and accurate article on the Newsweek story. Which is not to say that it is entirely accurate, but it's better than many of them.

Lance Mannion: It happened. Newsweek's "retraction" doesn't deny it happened. All it says is that a government report that it reported says it happened doesn't say that. Some other report does!

Radley Balko: Last month, I wrote a column on the DEA's anti-opioid painkiller campaign, and how it was unjustly investigating, arresting, and trying doctors using the drugs to treat chronic pain patients. The op-ed went out on the wire, and was picked up by several small newspapers, including the York Dispatch. Oddly enough, DEA administrator Karen Tandy wrote a response, which appeared a few days later. And he responds. Via Drug WarRant.

I think we know who's a real son of a bitch.
23:29 BST


I just wrote to Keith Olbermann and told him The resignation of Scott McClellan was outstanding. This is just a taste:

Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about 'media credibility,' I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

Whenever I hear this White House talking about 'doing damage to our image abroad' and how `people have lost lives,' I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost.

Go read. Then say thanks. (via)
16:11 BST

Um... Should I be worried about this?

Remember after the election when all those people were talking about seceding from the slave states? The first thing I said to them was, "Which states are the centers of military production?"

Now I'm hearing about all these closings of military bases for no apparent reason, and I can't help but feel nervous. And I thought maybe I was just being twitchy and paranoid, because no one else was even talking about it. Only now Ken McLeod sends me this link - which isn't from one of my preferred news sources, I admit - but I'm thinking, um, maybe it's not me:

The most salient aspect of the latest Pentagon restructuring plan is the continuing geographic shift in military resources from the Northeast and Midwest (and to some extent, from the West Coast) to the South and Southwest. Of the 30,000 net loss in military-related jobs, half comes from just three closings in New England: Portsmouth Navy Yard in Maine, Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and the Groton, Connecticut, submarine command. Thousands more personnel are being moved out of the Northeast with the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine, Niagara Falls Air Reserve station in New York, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and the Willowgrove Naval Air Station and Pittsburgh Air Reserve Base in Pennsylvania.

There are, to be sure, some base closings in the South, including the Naval Air Station in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Ft. McPherson in Georgia, and three in Texas: Ingleside Naval Air Station, the Red Rock Army Depot and Brooks City Depot in San Antonio. But these are more than offset by shifting of additional military resources from the North and East and an influx of 70,000 Army troops from overseas, especially Germany. Fort Bliss, Texas, for instance, will gain 11,354 soldiers as the 1st Armored Division returns from Germany.

The Army is being concentrated within the borders of the continental United States, building up from 26 to 40 brigades. The additional forces will all be located in the South and West, with the biggest increases at Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Carson, Colorado, and Fort Riley, Kansas, as well as Fort Bliss.

The majority of US nuclear assets are being redeployed to the deep South as well: all B1-B long-range bombers are being consolidated into Texas, with the closure of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. Construction, servicing and deployment of nuclear submarines are also being shifted to the South. After the closure of the Groton submarine command, Navy personnel will be moved to Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

There have been a few cautious references in the press to the geographic imbalance in the US military structure. The Los Angeles Times reported that the cuts "hammered many Northern and Midwestern states and gave the military an increasingly Southern accent." Newsweek magazine spoke of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's planning for "a broad shift of bases away from the North and the East-the epicenter of defense through the 19th and 20th centuries-and out to the South and, to a lesser extent, the West."

Think about how little sense this makes in terms of national defense against potential foreign invaders.

But then, think about how much sense this would make if the principle focus of our military was not defense at all, but something else entirely.

At the least paranoid level, some of this can be seen to make sense - such as moving some bases outside of the Beltway where they might be obvious targets. But that only explains those moves. Cynically, the rest could be seen merely as a way to reward "red states" with bigger bases that would provide more jobs and money to those areas.

At the middling level, it could signal an intention on the part of the power structure to focus its intentions against South America - a not unlikely prospect.

But, given that the power elite have clearly been working hard to destabilize the United States, one is forced to wonder whether a break-up is actually part of the plan. And that they are getting ready to arm the Confederacy against the North.

I'd like to think this is totally, tin-foil hat, whacka-whacka paranoid, but, frankly, I don't know anymore. I mean, five years ago most of the things they've actually done would have fallen into the whacka-whacka category. But then, five years ago, I would have said you were a paranoid loony if you'd told me the Supreme Court would produce a decision like Bush v. Gore.
14:47 BST

Weird spin

Pakistan dismisses Newsweek retraction on Koran

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan dismissed on Tuesday as inadequate an apology and retraction by the Newsweek magazine of a report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran.

The report in the magazine's May 9 issue sparked protests across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan, where 16 people were killed and more than 100 injured, to Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Gaza.

"The apology and retraction are not enough," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Reuters.

"They should understand the sentiments of Muslims and think 101 times before publishing news which hurt feelings of Muslims."

Christ, did the White House tell them what to say?

Maybe the administration should think 101 times before deliberately carrying out policies that are intended to insult Muslims, instead. Just a suggestion.
13:32 BST

Freedom on the march

Yeah, right.

The bodies of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Uzbekistan are scarcely cold, and already the White House is looking for ways to dismiss them. The White House spokesman Scott McClellan said those shot dead in the city of Andijan included "Islamic terrorists" offering armed resistance. They should, McClellan insists, seek democratic government "through peaceful means, not through violence".

But how? This is not Georgia, Ukraine or even Kyrgyzstan. There, the opposition parties could fight elections. The results were fixed, but the opportunity to propagate their message brought change. In Uzbek elections on December 26, the opposition was not allowed to take part at all.

And there is no media freedom. On Saturday morning, when Andijan had been leading world news bulletins for two days, most people in the capital, Tashkent, still had no idea anything was happening. Nor are demonstrations in the capital tolerated. On December 7 a peaceful picket at the gates of the British embassy was broken up with great violence, its victims including women and children. So how can Uzbeks pursue democracy by "peaceful means"?

Take the 23 businessmen whose trial for "Islamic extremism" sparked recent events. Had the crowd not sprung them from jail, what would have awaited them? The conviction rate in criminal and political trials in Uzbekistan is over 99% - in President Karimov's torture chambers, everyone confesses.

So why did the White House make such a tepid response to the murder of 745 protesters by police in Uzbekistan? Well, obviously, because they are "with us" in the war of terror. And that's worth a lot of bucks. (via)
11:41 BST

Eschaton archive note #7

Right-wing steamroller watch referencing me, Kurtz, Kos, and Juan Cole on Newsweek.

The real story is censorship referencing Arthur Silber about Newsweek.

And a little reminder referencing Think Progress on the violence in Afghanistan.

Let's do something different referencing Pacific Views on sex education.

The Moyers speech: Bill Moyers Responds to CPB's Tomlinson Charges of Liberal Bias: "We Were Getting it Right, But Not Right Wing" - transcript, .mp3, and streams.
11:33 BST

Monday, 16 May 2005

Used to be The Paranoia Files


When Congress was debating the USA Patriot Act in the fall of 2001, it was not at all clear that it was going to be passed, at least not without substantial modifications. Then came the anthrax attacks, clearly directed at prominent Democrats, and suddenly Bush's legislation sailed right through. Congressmen know a real threat when they see one. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was to meet this past Thursday to consider the nomination of John Bolton to be United Nations ambassador. It was not at all clear that he was going to make it through the committee, but he did, barely, with an unusual lack of endorsement by the committee. The day before the committee made its decision, there was a significant security scare in Washington. This necessitated the evacuation of government offices, including the White House and the Congress, and many people were sufficiently frightened that they were literally running away. Congressmen were evacuated from the House and Senate floors. There had been a violation of restricted airspace over Washington, and the pilot had failed to respond to warnings to turn away. I suppose you're thinking I'm going to say there was something odd about this [...]
Actually, I wish I could say there was something odd about this, but it's getting to be pretty routine, innit?
20:58 BST

Where did that woman come from?

Cookie Jill calls her priscilla queen of the texas desert, and Jeralyn Merritt proves she is still my cosmic twin by presenting the thought pretty much the way it occurred to me:

Have you been wondering why the Bush Administration is making such a big deal out of nominee Priscilla Owen? The New York Times has the answer: Her entire judicial career has been orchestrated by Karl Rove. At three critical times, he has intervened to push her to the next level.
Well, I suppose it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that she is another Rove work in progress. Like Jeralyn says, "Karl Rove is the party in power."
16:16 BST

News you need to know

Moyers rallies media reformers to support public media, PBS: Author Bill Moyers served notice today that, six months after his retirement from the "NOW with Bill Moyers" program, conservative attacks on the Public Broadcasting Service "might compel me back out of the rocking chair and back into the anchor chair." That would be nice, but is the Bush administration likely to let him back in?

Sibel Edmonds says she is Gagged, But Not Dead.

Steve Soto says: Days After Bush Leaves Town All Smiles, Putin Fingers GOP Front Group For Spying.

Greg Palast in The Nation, Ecuador Gets Chavez'd: That's not what the Bush Administration wanted to hear. Besides Condi's attack, Palacio got the full "Chávez" treatment from the New York Times, which ran the headline "Ecuador's New Chief Picks Cabinet; Leftist in Economic Post" after Palacio's new finance minister announced Ecuador would put social-services programs first ahead of payments to bondholders. The Times said Palacio's views "ruffled some feathers" (whose, we don't know) and that foreign powers questioned the "legitimacy" of his right to office. Palacio smiled, "They don't say which ones."

Tom Tomorrow explores identity theft.
14:54 BST

The story on Newsweek

Look carefully at the Newsweek story that the wingers are rhapsodizing over - an alleged retraction that isn't really:

Two weeks ago, in our issue dated May 9, Michael Isikoff and John Barry reported in a brief item in our Periscope section that U.S. military investigators had found evidence that American guards at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had committed infractions in trying to get terror suspects to talk, including in one case flushing a Qur'an down a toilet. Their information came from a knowledgeable U.S. government source, and before deciding whether to publish it we approached two separate Defense Department officials for comment. One declined to give us a response; the other challenged another aspect of the story but did not dispute the Qur'an charge.

Although other major news organizations had aired charges of Qur'an desecration based only on the testimony of detainees, we believed our story was newsworthy because a U.S. official said government investigators turned up this evidence. So we published the item.

In the wake of the riots in Afghanistan, there have been a flurry of accusations that Newsweek is responsible for the violence, and now, suddenly, fitting a curious pattern, the sources - and the reporter - are being questioned.
Last Friday, a top Pentagon spokesman told us that a review of the probe cited in our story showed that it was never meant to look into charges of Qur'an desecration. The spokesman also said the Pentagon had investigated other desecration charges by detainees and found them "not credible." Our original source later said he couldn't be certain about reading of the alleged Qur'an incident in the report we cited, and said it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts. Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we.
Note that nowhere does Newsweek actually retract the story, and none of their sources are actually denying it.

As The Poor Man says:

The people driving the attack on Newsweek - the same people who drove the attack on Rather - hate the free press. They view journalism as a form of combat, quite literally, in which you must fight to establish an ideologically and politically useful narrative, and in this a free press is at best useless, and likely actively in league with the enemy. This isn't hyperbole - this is their stated position.
Watch for an attempt to do to Michael Isikoff what they did to Dan Rather. And yes, the irony hurts, because Isikoff seems to have become a much better reporter than he was back in the days when he was promoting the phony Whitewater story. The right-wing had no trouble with that bad reporting, because it served their purposes. But of course, the right-wingers have no problem at all with irresponsible journalism; it's the truth that they hate.

Updated here. And here.
10:52 BST

Eschaton archive note #6

Make them listen referencing

Facing a dying nation referencing Jim Henley.

American Taliban referencing Jesse Taylor's How To Date In One Easy Step.

Bill the Cat-killer... ...goes shopping.

More Christian soldiers referencing A Tiny Revolution.

Church referencing Frank Rich's Just How Gay Is the Right? and Kristof's Liberal Bible-Thumping; Interesting Times, Scrutiny Hooligans, and Faithful Progressive.

More on the religiosity right referencing Rules for the Religious Right.

No news fit to print referencing Where's All the News That's Fit to Print?

A suggestion referencing God and I.
10:30 BST

The Power of Nightmares

Diana at Karmalised says The Power of Nightmares is being shown at Cannes, and you can watch the original version for yourself here. I've discussed this before, and as you may recall I heartily recommend it.

According to the Guardian, Cannes will be seeing a version that's been re-cut into a feature-length film.

His documentary took as its starting point the year 1949, when two men who would prove massively influential to the establishment of Islamic terror groups and to the neo-Conservative American tendency that now dominates Washington were both in the US.
For those who can't handle watching the movie online, Vaara has transcripts up, but it's a shame to miss the visuals in the part about the way Osama's cave was depicted as the high-tech headquarters of a James Bond-style villain.
01:03 BST

Sunday, 15 May 2005

Stuff to check out

Mother Jones explains how Exxon Mobil has packed money into think tanks.

See Bright Eyes sing "When The President Talks To God" on Leno. Via Reptile Wisdom, where there's another good track playing for your listening pleasure.

The Retirement You Weren't Banking On by Katherine Stone on why if you weren't scared by the United Airlines default, you really should be.

Jon Stewart's Gaywatch
22:45 BST


Watertiger reads The Cabbage so you won't have to. (Even shorter Brooks: Republicans easily hoodwinked.)

Lis Riba has a good idea if you'd like to spread the word on Firefly.

I hadn't realized that Aberystwyth Mon Amour had been followed-up with Last Tango in Aberystwyth, and now there's a whole new one out, The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth (Aberystwyth S.).

Chumbawamba with Homophobia
Barbara Boxer vs. George Allen on Hardball (about ten minutes long)
Bill Maher with Norm Coleman (R-Idiot), Al Franken, Gore Vidal (21 minutes long)
17:21 BST

Media notes

The Fall of the American Media by Bryan Zepp Jamieson informs us that we have now achieved the honored rank of 27th freest press in the world. It ranks that high in part because it allows Ann Coulter to lie all over the airwaves. Oh, well.

It also allows Rush Limbaugh to talk rubbish on the air, but this could only be seen as evidence of a "free press" during the Clinton administration, when at least Ann and Rush were attacking a sitting president. However, that power is now strictly in the service of the White House and represents not a free press, but the fact that our airwaves are increasingly part of a propaganda arm of the party in power.

But is "freedom" the issue when our modern press is so pig ignorant? Or is this ignorance just another manifestation of the elite's message control? (I take some issue with the author, here; I don't believe Arab culture is so different from ours that people there don't want the same things everybody else wants - a decent living, a proper education, a future for their children. The problem is that classic American-style democracy and freedom are not what the Bush Family Empire has been bringing Iraq. What they've really brought is just war and piracy.)

Consortium News, of course, exists because there no longer seems to be a place for journalism that might trouble those at the real centers of power. Robert Parry writes extensively on the bind our media has gotten us into, and this week is talking about Solving the Media Puzzle. Parry wants to see real independent, liberal media gather strength. He says: An important corollary is that the content must be uncompromising, not watered-down fare to satisfy mainstream editors or producers fearful of offending conservatives. That means independent outlets must exist that are brave enough and have sufficient resources to get the content directly to the American people.

Since PBS is now in the control of the right-wing, Parry suggests a campaign to convince viewers to divert their donations to the formation of this liberal media infrastructure.
12:35 BST

Saturday, 14 May 2005

Stops on the infobahn

The other day I talked about the times the "greatest generation" lived through and mentioned that FDR's policies took the air out of the fervor for a communist revolution in the US. Taking off from a right-wingers attack on Paul Krugman's latest column addressing the class war being waged by the economic elite against the rest of us, Barbara O'Brien at The Mahablog (with the help of Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt) makes a similar point. The same post answers a pretty disgusting article by Thomas Sowell that shows you just how much contempt conservatives have for people who work for a living.

Boxer's hold another hitch in Bolton vote: Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has erected a roadblock against John Bolton, President Bush's embattled nominee for U.N. ambassador, in a fight with the administration over access to documents.

Everyone knows what a lying sack of crap Bill O'Reilly is, but why settle for anyone else when you can have The Rude Pundit tell you all about it?

You've Been Left has the write-up on the Carnival O' Corruption in Houston, complete with pictures (from a bit of first-person reporting at Think Progress) to illustrate Tom DeLay's description: "You walk out there on the street and all you see is hate," DeLay said. "And that is really unfortunate. Hate is not an agenda."

Chris Bowers on The Goals of the Republican Party - worthy of printing out and passing around to your neighbors. (Don't forget to take them to church!)

Yes, even the Torygraph says Coleman is full of it. Hard to keep all those forgeries straight, isn't it?

It sounds like an increasing number of people are learning how to decode Bushspeak. The more he talks about Social Security, the more people think he's trying to destroy it.

Do the rapturists have the launch codes?
20:38 BST

A curious "faith"

The appalling Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council was actually given space in the WaPo today to whine about how oppressed the Christianists are because their "deeply held personal beliefs" are being held against some of them in the judicial confirmation process.

Are they? Well, maybe, but there's nothing in the Constitution that says it's okay to breach it because of "deeply held personal beliefs". The law of the land is the law, not the private religious beliefs (or quasi-religious beliefs, depending on how you look at it) of a small deranged sect of people who are clearly embarked on a mission to overturn the charter of our nation.

Look, from the moment Bush was sworn in, he and his circle of weird cultists have made it clear that their word is no good, they obey no contracts with the rest of us, they feel unconstrained by the ordinary rules of honor in civilized society. In short, they cannot be trusted.

They particularly cannot be trusted to protect, defend, and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, which they have unrelentingly been trying to destroy. They can put their hands on their hearts and swear on the Bible to defend the Constitution, and then turn around and spit on it.

They can't be trusted to do the jobs they are asking to be entrusted with, the jobs they are swearing to do. Their "deeply held personal belief" appears to be that they must perpetrate an outrageous fraud against the people of the United States.

It doesn't matter if their unsuitedness to these jobs is based in their religion or in their character. The issue is whether they can be trusted to do the job, or whether their "deeply held personal beliefs" allow them to lie their way into office for the express purpose of overthrowing our form of government.

The Constitution says that no one can be required to hold to a particular faith in order to hold office. But it doesn't say we are required to allow them to hold office if their religion is one that demands the destruction of the United States.
18:23 BST

Unsorted stuff

Henley: Despite all the talk among the pro-Administration media about "Bush hatred," the truly interesting phenomenon is Bush love. Who could have imagined that this well-born gladhander could become the object of the strongest personality cult in my lifetime?

"I thought it was Mardis Gras": In November of 1960, a six year old girl was escorted by four federal marshals to William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans. (Also: Vietnam without the humidity.)

The Washington Post has a reasonable editorial explaining why the court was right to overturn Nebraska's constitutional ban on same-sex partnerships, even if you oppose gay marriage, and how it has been misrepresented by the people who supported that ban. And another one pointing out that the "emergency" spending bills Congress has been passing fit no one's definition of an emergency. It's just more Republican three-card-monte.
14:01 BST

A few things

Lenny Bailes tells me that the story about Bush's predetermined plans for invasion of Iraq, and Blair's knowledge of it, has actually made it to a front page - at The San Francisco Chronicle.

David Ignatius in the WaPo about A Leak's Wider Ripples: It's hard to fathom the continuing legal squeeze on Time magazine's Matthew Cooper and the New York Times's Judith Miller to reveal their sources in a White House leak investigation. Unless, that is, the real concern of special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald isn't just the leak but possible perjury by a senior Bush administration official. Ding!

Super hanc petram says it's not just United Airlines - there's also the stunning result of the Polaroid bankruptcy that turned the pensions of retirees into a $47 one-time payout. Grrrr.
03:09 BST

Friday, 13 May 2005


I posted the frivolous visits story at Eschaton earlier, but little did I know that Jeralyn had already done a good post on it. I don't get it that there are people who don't understand the value to society of not risking letting incarceration put too much strain on families.

Blogenlust: Fostering a culture of Christian fanaticism in the military while engaged in a global war against Islamic fanaticism is so Twelfth Century.

They just lie and lie and LIE!

The Party of No - Matt Yglesias likes Brad DeLong's approach to Social Security and says he's hit some points that others have missed.

Echidne learns that when pharmacists get all moralistic about filling prescriptions, it leads to abortions.

I really do get the feeling that conservatives just can't enjoy anything anymore without parsing it for secret liberal brainwashing techniques. Look, guys, it's only a movie.

No post in history has ever made me as hungry as this one. I hope someday they will invite me to dinner. Via Gallimaufry.
23:47 BST

Eschaton archive note #5

Open thread.

Blogger's friend re the NYT link generator

Culture of Responsibility referencing Body and Soul about Chalabi's pardon.

Unreality-based referencing Pandagon on really really bad sex ed.

Say "Cheese!" re Blogactive on right-wingers, Kraft, and the gay games.

Trusting the machines with Spitfire and Schneier.

Who's running this show? about mysterious SBA doings.

"Frivolous visits" referencing Rittenhouse Review and Suburban Guerrilla on prison visit fees.

View from afar referencing The London Line on Bush's image in South America.

Friday lion blogging, starring the Lion.
23:30 BST


McClellan Spars With Press, Says No Need to Notify Bush. The press actually gave McClellan a hard time about his excuses for why no one thought a president should be notified during an alleged high-security situation, but it's still not as good as back in the days when reporters actually told Nixon's WH mouthpiece, "You're lying, Ron." Lying from the White House is no longer worth remarking on, I guess.

Nazi book-burning ad offends local veterans: Campaign ads bankrolled by Wal-Mart and depicting a Nazi-era book burning are offensive and backhanded, say some Flagstaff citizens and veterans. [...] The newspaper ads contend that Proposition 100's restrictions on big-box retailers are an infringement of constitutional freedoms. The message has been conveyed through a blurred photo of a Nazi book-burning taken from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum archives and a close-up of a person's mouth covered with tape.

Afghan Protest Over Quran Turns Deadly: Afghan Protest Over Quran Turns Deadly... Shouting "Death to America," demonstrators angry over the alleged desecration of the Quran at Guantanamo Bay smashed car and shop windows and stoned a passing convoy of U.S. soldiers Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan. Police opened fire on the protesters, killing four and injuring at least 71.

Foreign Affairs and Defense Issues poll shows majority of Americans want UN to take the lead in foreign affairs. Which is just the opposite of what the Republicans are claiming.

Hallelujah! The Washington Post finally covers the news: British Intelligence Warned Blair of War. But, of course, it was on page A18, and the headline doesn't really tell you what Blair was being warned of, or that the "intelligence" was "fixed" around the policy. *sigh*
20:42 BST

I'm sure color had nothing to do with it

Today is the 20th anniversary of the bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia. That was the day the police bombed a city block.

I have never understood why there wasn't immediate, overwhelming outrage over this. But it seemed that within mere months of the event, it was gone from public consciousness, never to return.

Contrast that with the Ruby Ridge and Waco stories, both of which have been blamed on Clinton and Janet Reno even though they both started during the Bush administration, Bush was still in office at the time of Ruby Ridge, and Reno was barely in office when Waco happened and it took her time to get up to speed when the action started. Outrage over Waco was indeed immediate and ultimately resulted in respectful hearings in Congress for white right-wingers. I don't recall anything like that happening after the murders of Panthers or the Philadelphia bombing - do you?
15:46 BST

Things to wake you up

And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America's God.
-- Harold Pinter
Arthur Silber on The dispensable president and an interesting day.

Via Epicycle, Does the Real ID act contain a Constitution-busting Trojan horse? explains the most terrifying clause in the act, and also includes a link to Analysts: 'Real ID' Act Could Help ID Thieves, which helpfully reminds us that: It's not that the database information can't be encrypted, security experts point out-it's that the government has proven untrustworthy in doing so.

The Tofu Hut is a weblog of sources of free .mp3s.

How Bolton screwed the pooch.

Art Nudes
13:29 BST

What's out there

TalkLeft says Tell Governor Owens to Do the Right Thing: Colorado Governor Bill Owens has a bill (SB 05-028) on his desk right now, passed by the state legislature, that would make Colorado the 17th state to extend its employment non-discrimination law to cover sexual orientation. The bill also would prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability or gender identity. The governor doesn't look eager to sign it, but maybe you can encourage him.

It's OK if you're a Republican (IOKIYAR): Court Lets Cheney Keep Talks Secret. That'd be the same court that said it was not OK for Hillary Clinton to do the same.

Amy Goodman interviews Sy Hersh on how creepy things are.

Scorpio reacts to one of my posts at Eschaton with "the rant I rewrite every place that mentions Mr. Kerry." He gave away the election, unlike Al Gore who fought for his right to a recount.

Lots of great stuff at Corrente. Especially recommended: The Bad Magician Dances On The Road To Damascus and It's Good To Dream (Sigh).

Attitude says Bush: It's all about the bike. Does Bush do anything when he's off-camera?

Rox Populi on The Brain Drain that is sucking scientific and other creative types out of our country, which has become a hostile environment for them.

Gonna Turn Your Red State Blue is an amusing little song that Joe Vecchio put together, now available for download. I rather liked it.
03:11 BST

Places to go

Yglesias has a good point on all this "urgent" stuff about putting everyone's medical records in a great big digital data base: We don't really need to. It's a huge expense, but what for, really?

Slacktivist delivers a continuation of his discussion of the deranged persecution complex the Christianists are suffering from.

The net is all abuzz with the tale of the OB/Gyn who had an odd way of practicing his "love". Susan at An Age Like This wonders what it is with all these pervy and closeted Republicans. Digby says: I'm a pretty sophisticated person and I don't usually pass judgements on people's fantasy lives or their sexuality. But the Christian Right with their wild shedding of the most shocking of sexual taboos are starting to freak me out. And I'm from California.

The Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared
01:42 BST

Thursday, 12 May 2005

Study war evermore

I am forced once again to credit Attaturk with another good post at Eschaton that pushed all my buttons. This one is about an NYT article that shows that the Military-Industrial Complex is winning the war against America. Says Attaturk:

You will search the article in vain for any indication that this is more than a problem between the shareholders and the Pentagon. Nowhere is it even implied that it could be troubling morally. That spending billions upon billions on killing machines could even be somewhat difficult to swallow for the citizenry at large. Especially with the proud members of the "Culture of Life".
Not exactly a "beat your swords into plowshares" sort of culture, is it?
17:08 BST

Onward Christian soldiers

Dependable Renegade found a story in this morning's NYT saying that there seems to be at least quasi-official support for Christianist proselytizing and consequent insensitivity to "diversity" at the Air Force Academy

A chaplain at the Air Force Academy has described a "systemic and pervasive" problem of religious proselytizing at the academy and says a religious tolerance program she helped create to deal with the problem was watered down after it was shown to officers, including the major general who is the Air Force's chief chaplain.

The academy chaplain, Capt. MeLinda Morton, 48, spoke publicly for the first time as an Air Force task force arrived at the academy in Colorado Springs on Tuesday to investigate accusations that officers, staff members and senior cadets inappropriately used their positions to push their evangelical Christian beliefs on Air Force cadets.

I don't know about you, but the increasing politicization of the military - and I do consider this politicization, not merely Christian evangelicism - is scaring the hell out of me.
13:14 BST

Things to read

Alterman reports that America says Congress stinks. See? They're not so dumb. He also notes that Michael Kinsley just accused himself of "nearly insane far-left rantings". Well, who else could he mean when he talks about this going on in the nation's editorial pages?

Matt Yglesias looks at a great big study of the voting public and discovers that (a) further restrictions on abortion aren't very popular and (b) more people feel favorably toward the Christianist movement than you think.

Mobjectivist goes after Paul Weyrich's anti-environmentalist pseudo-science.
05:05 BST

Eschaton archive note #4

Following the money referencing Off the Kuff and First Draft.

Sleight of hand referencing Digby.

Bats referencing Michael Medved, twisting in the wind.
03:18 BST

So, so wrong

I'm sorry, I'm just so disgusted by the whole business with the United Airlines pensions that I want to smack someone. I was upset about what happened to Enron's employees, I was furious about the bankruptcy bill and the refusal of Congress to vote for amendments that would protect people from things like this, and now I'm wishing we had a Martin Luther King to lead thousands of people to camp out on the Mall and demand justice. I know people can be rotten but I just can't believe so many people have conspired to make these things happen.
01:26 BST

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Some stuff

The outstanding catch of the morning was from Attaturk at Eschaton with a speech by Molly Bingham in the Louisville Courrier-Journal, Home from Iraq, about working as a journalist in our current climate. It's a first-class piece; read it all.

The other day I commented on a remarkable omission from Getler's column last week and printed my exchange with him over that. Media Matters is also covering the story.

Did you know there was an election the other day in Dallas County? And did you know it had some good news for the Democrats? For example: A hopeful sign for the future came in two races for the Dallas County School Board, whose districts include lots of usually-Republican suburban territory. A Democrat, Ann Hubener (mother of Katy Hubener, one of our candidates for State Representative last year), won one of the two races, and another Democrat, Pauline K. Dixon (a longtime Precinct Chair), almost tied for the other seat; there could be a runoff there in a month. There will be other runoffs in some Dallas Council races.

A spaceship from Maru.
19:21 BST

It's all about me

My first trip to CardiffThere have been a number of new visitors to this site in the last few days, thanks to sitting in at Eschaton (Welcome!), and I've been noting that comments and trackbacks are reminding me once again that there are a few things a lot of you may not know about me. One is that I am not Chinese, so you can be sure that I write my first name first and my last name last. Another is that "Avedon" is not a screen name, it's my name.

Quick bio - I was born in Maryland and grew up in walking distance of the Kensington Beltway exit (although it wasn't actually there at the time I was born). I used to be a singer but then I discovered my passion for writing. I graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park and worked in the newsroom at The Baltimore Sun during my final year. I like to read sf, and so do most of my friends. Much of what I do in London revolves around civil liberties, principally anti-censorship work. I have been part of the editorial team of all but one of Feminists Against Censorship's books and am solo author of one of them and of a number of our other publications. Other articles by me have appeared in law journals, magazines, and newspapers. I have also been known to be a talking head on radio and television.

My father raised me to hate Nixon, and grew out his hair in protest during his presidency, culminating in a ceremonial haircut mere moments after Nixon resigned. I've often thought that, much as I miss my dad, I'm glad he never lived to see our country stolen by thieves in 2000. He was enormously proud of my work. This weblog, begun in November of 2001, is dedicated to him and to the dreams he had for his children.
15:51 BST

The generation that could - and did

I was just over at Paperwight's Fair Shot reading another appropriately outraged reaction to Bush's creepy attack on FDR and "other generations", in which he also posts that similarly revolting quote from Grover Norquist that is characteristically much more blatant:

Two million people who fought in World War II and lived through the Great Depression die every year. That generation has been an exception in US history, because it has defended anti-American policies. They voted for the creation of the welfare state and for obligatory military service. They are the Democratic base, and they are dying.

Before that generation, whenever you put a draft in, there were draft riots. After that generation, there were draft riots. This generation? No problem. Why not? Of course the government moves people around like pawns on a chessboard. One side spits off labor law, one side spits off Social Security. We will all work until we're 65 and have the same pension. You know, some Bismark, German thing, okay? Very un-American.

I'm not sure how many times I've read that quote before, but I fixed on the idea that that generation was anomalous and thought to myself, "What was different about that generation? What did they go through that was different for the rest of us?"

Well, it might just be the kind of economic upheaval that had been fermenting since the industrial age began overwhelming traditional, home-based (farming, shop-keeping, etc.) industry that usually centered around individual families. There were dwindling opportunities for acquiring property, the robber barons, and ultimately the Great Depression.

In effect, the same kind of conditions the current "conservative movement" is hell-bent on creating for us now.

It was a period when the family was being ripped to shreds by taking men out of the home, then taking women's work (production of clothing, for example) off to the factory and giving it to men. A man now had to buy for his family those things that his family once created (again, clothing being a significant product).

Although most people don't recognize this, conservatives seem especially unaware of how much the entire industrial revolution revolves around what was essentially women's work, and there is a direct line right up through the recent computer revolution which today is taking all those typing jobs away, partly because many documents no longer have to be re-typed, but partly because men are increasingly doing their own typing. (Only an idiot believes that women working is a new idea. Women always worked.)

But what was going on at the turn of the last century was killing family life for many, and very often unnecessarily killing the workers themselves. It was also expensive for industry, but they weren't absorbing the lessons. Anyone who thinks business makes sensible economic decisions really should study this period thoroughly for a good look at how they fought against putting in some perfectly obvious and simple changes. Those changes were eventually forced on them by a union movement of people who were prepared to risk their lives (because business and government were prepared to take them, and did) to work more reasonable hours, in conditions of reasonable safety, for a living wage.

But they were working for people who seemed to have become divorced from any of the obligations of community, who often flaunted their wealth before the people who were sweating to help them compile that wealth without ever reaping its benefits themselves. Working people were struggling and barely getting by, and then watched their profligate employers break the system and impoverish everyone once again.

FDR didn't merely institute a few reforms that made life better for everyone; he also prevented what might very well have turned into a real socialist revolution - a revolution that was increasingly coming to appear necessary to people who no longer lived in a society where they could simply pull up stakes and start again, or at least grow vegetables on their own land and survive in bad economic times.

The "greatest generation" made the bargain that saved the economic liberalism that is the substance of American freedom, maintaining the balance between cut-throat capitalism and communism. And that substance, that ground that we must stand on if America's vision of freedom can continue, is exactly what Norquist, Bush, and the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), are trying to destroy.
13:59 BST


In all the excitement I seem to have forgotten to post a Bra of the Week.

I really should have posted this earlier, about Bush's little unscripted news conference with kids in a foreign country who asked Bush better questions than our Stepford Press ever does, and apparently freaked Team Bush all to pieces. And tricked him into a near-admission that he doesn't seem to have any plans to restore our Constitutional rights.

David Neiwert has some good news from the dark corners of Davis.

The war against kids is in full-swing, I see.

Roy Edroso looks into the red zone.

Separated at birth?
05:08 BST

More from the notebook

Blogger is sleeping....

Pastor Accused of Running Out Dems Quits: "I am resigning with gratitude in my heart for all of you, particularly those of you who love me and my family," the Rev. Chan Chandler said during a meeting at East Waynesville Baptist Church. But not before you spread a little hate, eh?

Alterman leads a discussion on What do liberals believe?

The Pope's Sins of Omission by Carlin Romano looks a bit more deeply into Ratzinger's past - and his character - than most of the articles we've seen recently.

Bill Scher on stupid Dem deal-making, or a Nuclear Waste ... Of Time: Six Dems would promise not to filibuster any judges except in "extreme circumstances," making it impossible to get 41 Senators to sustain a filibuster. ... The proposal is appalling for one simple reason: we are already in an "extreme circumstance." If you have any Dem Senators, fax this post to them right now.

Also from Bill, Weekly Radio Address: Oddly, no one seems to have noticed that Dubya called Christianity "a bunch of hooey" last Sat.

Tornado pix and "Someone keeps stealing my letters..." via the wonderful Biomes Blog. Oh, and welcome to

Brazilian Town Declares Orgasm Day.
03:45 BST

Online in the UK

It looks like local councils are using the Internet to "host online forums where citizens and public leaders can join in debate about important local issues". Newham and Brighton & Hove already have forums. Here's an article about it. This appears to be the UK project's homepage.

Grauniad Newsblog, Identity crisis: The lack of a coherent and convincing case means the arguments usually turn into a kind of ID-cards-stop-bad-people mush. If the latest British scheme gets off the ground, the proposed 2012 introduction date would give al-Qaida a seven-year window in which to attack. The anti-terrorism argument is either not believed by the people drawing up the legislation, or it's nonsense. It's rubbish in the US, too.
01:32 BST

Eschaton archive note #3

Security Guy, referencing Bruce Schneier on Real ID.

Not a way to get my vote on Kerry's pandering to the homophobes.

Nuclear threat on the strange behavior of Republicans who seem to think it's impossible for them ever to be out of power again.

Fighting for democracy on activism for transparent voting.
01:15 BST

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

Open windows

Dan Froomkin says Bush really liked the whole "old-fashioned Soviet-style military parade, complete with propagandist sights and sounds glorifying the Communist, totalitarian rule that terrorized citizens of Eastern Europe for so many decades" thing.

License to Live: The Oklahoma House of Representatives recently passed legislation to create "Patriot Plates," special license plates which help buy body armor for Oklahoma troops sent to Iraq. This is, of course, the kind of thing your federal taxes are already supposed to be paying for. I guess Ms. Hilton needed that money more.

E.J. Dionne explains the GOP Plan to 'Fix' the Democrats and why it means smart Democrats are fighting back (and only stupid ones would do otherwise). Via The Mahablog - which, as always, you should read.

Robert Scheer draws no parallels in Nationalism's Psychotic Side - but you can hardly help yourself from seeing them anyway. Even decent people can be swept along by barbarism when a nation gets sick.

Julia doesn't think much of moderate Republican family values - enough so that she asks you to sign a petition.

Tim Grieve in Salon says Eli Pariser "insists that MoveOn is stronger than ever, that Democrats are in a position to start winning back the White House through a strong showing in the 2006 congressional races."

Lego jewelry
23:56 BST

Assorted stuff

More buttons.

More on National ID from Cab Drollery, and Arthur Silber with your last chance to stop the National ID.

Corrente on The almost-Daliesque administration.

Fun to watch, and artistically ambitious as hell: Johnny Depp.

The Seven Deadly Sins as portrayed by Mr. Potatohead.
17:12 BST


Via Dkos, Rep. John Conyers is Working Hard to Draw Attention to Bush\Blair Lies as exposed in The Secret Downing Street Memo, but with not much effect. This one depends on you, folks: ask them why not.

Transatlanticism is a new weblog from BenP (a MyDD diarist) who, like me, is posting about his home country's politics from the other side of the ocean - only he's a Brit in Seattle - and he has detected a curious fantasy circulating around here that sounds like it came straight from Al From: Labour lost all those seats because they moved too far to the left, and need to move right! (Or maybe these talking points come from Tucker Carlson.)

Contrariwise calls our attention to an article in Business Week that advises that Americans have no wish to lose the Safety Net of Social Security and other New Deal programs, and in fact would rather have more, not less - and that's why we're rejecting Bush's "Ownership Society".

Our good friend Simbaud is still listening to the silence: An appeals court earlier today upheld the dismissal of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, and wouldn't say why. And he also has a very good question.

Echidne Of The Snakes has a spooky post on stoning and how point-of-view can turn any story into something else again.

If you hadn't seen this picture yet... Well, sorry to ruin your breakfast, but what the hell does he think he's doing?
15:29 BST


Subject: Did you leave something out?

It sure looks like you forgot to finish a thought in this week's column.

You know, the one about the Times* story about the memo on the pre-determined plan for the invasion of Iraq? You usually give a judgment on these issues, but you had nothing to say?

Re: Did you leave something out?
Fair point. By including it I was letting Post readers know what they had not been told by the paper. That should indicate, albeit indirectly that, in my judgment, they should have been told. On the other hand, I have no independent knowledge to confirm the London report so I can't vouch for it. Oddly, it has received very little attention in the US generally, so maybe there is either some doubt about it or editors don't see that it goes much beyond what has been revealed here. In any event, I thought it seemed important and thus included it in the column. I also asked about why it had not been covered but I got the answer just after my deadline, and in a tight column it isn't easy to go back and add things. The answer I got wasn't, from my standpoint, a particularly good one--that the reporters were tied up with election coverage and choices had to be made about where to put their efforts. But that's what it was.
I see that review process at the Times is working real well. *sigh*

*Clarification: The reference to "the Times" above is to The Times, not to the NYT. There is only one The Times, of course, and the lower casing of "the" was a typo.
03:10 BST

And only wealth will buy you justice

This is from WorldNutDaily, but they at least know what their nuts are up to. Bill to take profit out of anti-religion suits:

An Indiana congressman plans to curb the ACLU's appetite for filing suits targeting religion in the public square by introducing a bill that denies plaintiff attorneys the right to collect attorneys fees in such cases.

Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., is expected to file his measure next week to amend the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. Section 1988, to prohibit prevailing parties from being awarded attorneys fee in religious establishment cases, but not in other civil rights filings.

In other words, they want to make it impossible for anyone who isn't rich to even think about defending the establishment clause in court.

Which means, don't forget, that you lose your right to protect religion from the government.
01:34 BST

Eschaton archiving note #2

More liberal media, please! referencing Ben Burch on the stinginess of Democratic leaders toward their base.

Republicans, referencing Powerful Lobbyist Appointed To Serve on Ethics Panel's Investigation of Tom Delay at Opinions You Should Have.

Gouging poor children for money referencing a proposal to charge for poor children's medical treatment.

One-party nation, referencing Think Progress on the news that State is responding only to requests made by Republicans about Bolton.

State of the art elections, on paper ballots, inspired by this image linked in comments by Holden.
01:28 BST

Monday, 09 May 2005

On the radio

This story is already stale on the Trib page, but the Google cache has it: WANR off the air briefly on two days - because, apparently, people who took issue with their change to the progressive format just came in and locked everyone out. Or something.

John Walsh feels that AAR in general, and Al Franken in particular, are way too supportive of the occupation of Iraq. It's true that the station has not shown much support for a pull-out position at all, but at least it is respectfully discussed on some programs. Or at least it was on Unfiltered, which was recently replaced with Springer's show while Rachel was moved to an earlier solo slot.

Garrison Keillor loves listening to the radio.
23:02 BST

Blogger's notebook

I'm taking for granted that regular readers of The Sideshow, even those who don't routinely read Eschaton, are checking there right now, at least, for other things I'm posting. I created the archive post for my posts over there for my own convenience, but I hope you're checking out the other stuff that's been going up, because there have been a number I would have recommended anyway. And Atrios just posted one I hope you're all absorbing into your bloodstream about the burden Bush's Social Security deform program promises for small businesses. It can't be said often enough that, with the exception of the very rich and some big corporations, pretty much everyone will be hurt by Bush's policy initiatives.

Is separation of church and state a failed experiment? God, I hope not.

We are colonialists - "Oooo-kay, that's certainly a new definition of 'turning the corner.'" Meanwhile, some neat pictures from a stroll by the river.

In case anyone wanted to know how Terry Jones voted, he said he was going to Vote Draino.

The General takes issue with Alan Colmes' treatment of a traditional Heartland pastime.
19:30 BST

What's a liberal?

Via Why Are We Back In Iraq? I come to a post at Watching the Watchers that quite rightly says that "Liberal" doesn't mean "Democrat" - it means liberal.

And the way this term is thrown around, the way it is so applicable to every segment of the population, is there anyone who isn't a liberal? Really? As the title implies, I am not talking about democrats or Republicans, but liberalism itself.

And how is that defined? Well says:

A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.
I've always wanted to take issue with the idea that liberalism is based on the idea of "the natural goodness of humans". Well, maybe it is, I wasn't there, but I'm not sure I know anyone who believes this - more likely we believe that we are not born with the natural desire to hurt people and damage things - that something has to happen to turn ordinary babies into creatures who aim at destructive, anti-social ends.

A careful look at conservative ideology finds there are two streams of thought. One is that liberals are probably right but it is to their advantage to exploit the fact that humans can be turned into destructive, anti-social creatures; when we are faced with divisive leaders, that division weakens us. When we are forced into situations where our choices all cost us morally, we find we are doing fewer good things for ourselves and our communities and more destructive things. And all of that strengthens those at the top who set us fighting against each other for our crust of bread while they bask in the sun eating caviar.

The other stream of thought is that humans are naturally not good at all, but must be forcibly made to behave, or at least be punished seriously for not doing so. These are the people who don't understand that "We are all sinners" does not translate as, "but if you get caught you should be denied any chance at redemption." An awful lot of these people hold to the Calvinist belief that in fact God rewards or punishes virtue in this life by making the most "good" among us so rich and powerful that they don't have to worry about getting caught; failure to achieve material prosperity is proof that you were bad even if no human agent actually caught you at it. Real misfortune is proof that you were evil - even to the extent that they feel no guilt at sending innocent people to jail (or the gallows, or the needle), because the fact that misfortune befell you is all the evidence they need that somehow you deserved misfortune, even if it wasn't to punish you for that particular crime.

As a liberal, I believe the world the conservatives want to give us is one that no one deserves.

But I agree with much of the post in question. Like this bit:

And these Democrats in the government. They call themselves Democrats, and are afraid to be called Liberals. Good. You should be afraid to wear a mantle you have not earned. To call yourselves Liberals would tarnish the definition.
Too right.
17:15 BST


TalkLeft warns that Congress is planning yet another insane minimum sentencing law. This is so, so not a good idea. Minimum sentencing laws have already been a disaster, and we should be going in the other direction.

Also via TL, Crooks and Liars has the video of Chuck Hagel (R-NE) admitting that they denied many of Clinton's nominees an up-or-down vote.

NYT op-eds you should read: Bob Herbert, Stranger Than Fiction, on the bizarre route this administration took to running a really stupid invasion.
Paul Krugman, The Final Insult, on why Bush's plan not only won't save Social Security, but is meant to destroy it. I haven't been able to get to the NYT permanent link generator for the last couple of days, so you might want to check the PK archive if you're reading this after the link above has expired. (This column is not yet posted at the PK archive as I write.) [Update: Links now fixed.]

In the WaPo, William Raspberry, In the Plame Case, Losers All Around, is remarkable for being the first example I've noticed of a major journalist admitting that there's really not all that much reason for Miller and Cooper to keep protecting their sources.
Peter Beinart, No Shift to the Center - about why the wingnuts are trying to convince people that Hillary Clinton has cynically "moved to the center" from the left, rather than admit that she was already right of center to begin with.

Inherit The Windbags.
15:09 BST

Eschaton archiving note

Posts so far:

Media Two-Step referencing Crawl Across the Ocean.

De-brooksing and other stories referencing The Kool Aid Stand at The Mahablog.

Apparently, the third rail of political reporting referencing Bradblog

Nixon - sore loser referencing FISHY OUTCOME: The Legend of Nixon's 1960 Loss.

Operation Golden Shower referencing DKos.

Godmother's Day inviting Atriots to blogwhore.

If it had been Father's Day.... referencing Electrolite and Political Animal on unions.
14:13 BST


Dear George,
You don't mind if I call you George do you? When you sent me a letter offering your condolences on the death of my son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, in the illegal and unjust war on Iraq, you called me Cindy, so I naturally assume we are on a first name basis...

11:57 BST

Headline news

Pastor who kicked Democrats out of church asked to resign - now claims he never did any such thing, it was all a "misunderstanding". Probably because: His actions also drew criticism from other Baptist clergymen in the town. "This is very disturbing," the Rev. Robert Prince III, who leads the congregation at the nearby First Baptist Church, said Saturday. "I've been a pastor for more than 25 years, and I have never seen church members voted out for something like this."

In Business Week, Venezuela to investigate oil companies: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that foreign oil companies working in the country must pay taxes he insists they owe the country, or else leave the country. Uh oh, I hope no one knows where he sleeps....

In Columbia Journalism Review, Stations Of The Cross, on how Christianists are "creating an alternative universe of faith-based news."

A correction to the post below is here. Nixon did indeed contest Illinois, and just about anyplace else he could.
01:44 BST

Sunday, 08 May 2005

Apparently, the third rail of political reporting

(I'm just cross-posting this from Eschaton, on the grounds that, you know, it's one of my hobby-horses.)

As some of you may be aware, Robert Koehler wrote a great article for Tribune Media Services called The silent scream of numbers, detailing the reasons to suspect foul play in the 2004 election. What you may not know is that that article, and a later one on a similar theme, were not picked up by many papers that normally carry his work. His latest column, Citizens in the rain, has actually been spiked by TMS itself.

Perhaps the most annoying item in this story is the fact that The Chicago Tribune, which does not run Koehler's column, nevertheless attempted a rebuttal, neatly missing the point and of course re-writing history to claim that Richard Nixon set "a moral example" by not contesting his loss in 1960. (In the real world, Nixon did contest one state for weeks. He didn't contest Illinois because his own party's shenanigans in the southern part of the state couldn't bear scrutiny.)

The corporate media keeps pretending that this is all about overturning the election and refusing to accept defeat. They just don't seem to get it that it's democracy's loss, not Kerry's, that's at issue here.

Look, we have an election result we cannot verify. That's unacceptable. Among other things, it means we can't know that any future elections will be honest - unless we stop this business now, before those future elections take place.

Bradblog has the story, and an update noting that Editor & Publisher has run an article about it.
23:19 BST


Y'all should write in to the BBC and ask them if Nazis: A Warning From History is going to be archived. (I was particularly amused by the bit about how Hitler had a ranch holiday place built and then spent an enormous amount of time there.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I'm being one of Atrios' little helpers while he's travelling, so there's a few things I'm posting over at Eschaton.

Meanwhile, go read Max Blumenthal, Bush Plagiarizes Joe McCarthy in Riga.

Mike the Corpuscle on something he says he wants gays to think about: The Uses of Canaries. We all should be thinking about it.

Oliver at Liquid List on the debasement of academic standards in theocratic America.
21:09 BST

Stuff to read

At The Left Coaster:
Paradox has read David Cay Johnston's Perfectly Legal and, far from finding it a dry reference on tax law, discovers that his blood is up at the sight of the gore and decay that is now infesting America throughout its structures.
Steve Soto says Bush is planning to bring back the Cold War at the expense of the war against terrorism. Its the Religion, Stupid, says eReposte, who reminds us that, In a nutshell, the word immoral is tremendously underused by Democrats. It's time to change that because you can't win on "moral values" if you are unprepared to say what is moral and what is not.

We all know that when someone really, really, really seems to hate gays, it's because they are closet cases. Generally, I believe that your private life is your business, but when someone makes legislating against gays a significant part of their political career, I just can't help feeling they should be right on the firing line. The Roy Cohns and J. Edgar Hoovers of the world have been a great danger to civilization, and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. (And yes, I love WordPerfect and often feel that Word was developed to punish me for knowing how to type.)

At Buzzflash, Name Withheld Pending Notification: Celeste and I and too many other moms know what the significance of "Pending Notification" means: it means that there are people in our country going through their lives right now not even knowing that they are about to be ambushed with the most devastating news of their lives: "We regret to inform you..."
17:43 BST

Nice try

Daniel Okrent, "public editor" at The New York Times, says Briefers and Leakers and the Newspapers Who Enable Them will no longer be getting as much of a free ride from The Newspaper of Enablement, which is about to be seeing some new recommendations:

I haven't seen the recommendations, but I suspect that those having to do with anonymous sources will be the most controversial among the reporting staff. Reporters who work the corridors of criminal justice, the foreign policy world and the intelligence community cannot do their jobs without unidentified sources. Many who cover those twin cesspools of duplicity, self-regard and back-stabbing - Hollywood and politics - are addicted to the practice. And implicit in much of the criticism aimed at any journalist who uses a blind quote is the unpleasant suggestion of dishonorable behavior.
Maybe, but maybe it's a suggestion of sheer laziness by the journalist and duplicity on the part of the leaker.

Elaine Supkis isn't satisfied with the NYT's response. "Craven even today when it is literally life and death for the NYT to get a spine!" And she's right; this wimpiness is exactly why the part of the public that actually wants to read the news is losing patience with The Newspaper of Off-the-Record.
16:13 BST

More sighing over the media

Adam Nagourney in The New York Times yesterday trying to explain why Tony Blair was "punished" by voters for Iraq, but Bush (allegedly) wasn't:

The reason for the divergence was plainly the gulf between the United States and Europe when it comes to Iraq.

There has been no recent terrorist attack in Britain, so the visceral argument that Mr. Bush made to American audiences for invading Iraq has far less potency here. "Britain wasn't attacked in September of 2001," said Daniel Finkelstein, associate editor of The Times of London and a former Conservative Party official. "It has a different attitude to the war on terror."

Well, there is also the fact that Britain has been facing up to terrorism for a lot longer than the US has, and learned a long time ago that massive overreaction doesn't actually do any good.

But American Stranger has the rest of the story over at Blah3:

The answer, however, is simple. While the UK media told the truth about the situation, the US media backed away from the story - preferring to parrot the government's happy-talk spin on how great things were in Iraq.
I'm not one to sing the praises of the British media, but this is essentially correct. Though successive governments have certainly tried to intimidate the BBC, it still manages to hold enough ground to make questioning the leadership a normal part of the news - the broadcast news. And politicians have to be prepared to fight their corner instead of skating by on softball questions.

Of course, much of this analysis relies on the belief that American voters did not, in fact, punish Bush at the polls - an assumption that cannot be tested, and clearly won't be. But that, too, is a problem that can be laid at the feet of our media.
11:15 BST

Gardening holiday

Sorry if you missed me, but I'm happy to say the back garden looks a lot better now!

I haven't had much time for reading the news, as a result, but you might find This Fight's About More Than Judgeships by Lincoln Caplan in the WaPo an interesting discussion of the attack on the judiciary, and it even references a good weblog, How Appealing.

Or be amused to know that Harry Reid has scandalized the right wingers by pointing out that Bush is a loser. Or check out David Sirota Analyzing "Clintonism"...Honestly. Or ponder Samuel A. Stanson's discussion of the fall of both parties, and why it can't be fixed anytime soon.

Or you could read The London Line on Harry Potter and the Anthrax of Doom, and find out about the mysterious thing at King's Cross that's going on at Platform 9 3/4.
02:35 BST

Saturday, 07 May 2005

Art & politics

Absolutely smashing pix by Daniel Bayer.

Steeph's evil plan, Operation Honeypot: In the past year this weblog has been visited by many people from different government organisations. Most of the time they come in by way of a query on a search engine. In my statistics I can see what the query was and who did it. So you get nice examples like a visit by the US State department with a query on "mark-77 napalm fallujah" (which they pretended wasn't used there). Or a visit by the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) querying "how to defeat terrorism", like they haven't got a clue. (Also: drugpulse.)

Julie Saltman is back from her little distraction and posting again, on the lazy media, the most important of memos, and the threat of Democratic legislators being suckered.

Michael Bérubé explains why Carnal Knowledge is the creepiest movie in the world. It's certainly not the most pleasant film I've ever seen....

Next bus to the re-education camp leaves in five minutes, says Lance Mannion, making me wonder if there is something unusual about the fact that I was never an admirer of, well, any of the things David Horowitz was into way back when. I understand where the Old Left was coming from in its time, but that doesn't mean I was ever, ever, in love with the USSR or Castro or Mao. I never threw bombs, I never cheered for Uncle Ho. I thought Abbie Hoffman was smart and entertaining but then as now, what I loved was the Constitution's promise of freedom and equality. And, inexorably, that led me to understand that, basically, I believe in liberalism. It's just how it is.
14:03 BST

The medium is the massage

Pop Music Propaganda in the Middle East - Center for Media and Democracy checks out the spin on Radio Sawa, broadcast in the Middle East, that combines Arabic and Western pop music with news written by Voice of America staff.

As always, read Digby, but especially let him educate you about the new so-called ombudsman for PBS, William Schultz.

I think I may have posted this before, but just in case, here's Angry Girl's compilation of 20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA.

Batman explains patriotism.

DKos has the video of that minister excommunicating all the Democrats from the congregation. (Via Attytood.)
03:11 BST

Meme themes

Here it is again: Seth Finkelstein makes a foray into the "where are all the women bloggers" discussion and offers this: However, there's only so many attention slots. It's almost exhausting to get people to even begin to realize that they're not allocated in some sort of bibble-emergent yada-cyber cluelame-paradigm magic method, but very much closer to crony politics. (And: the value of fact-checking in the blogosphere, and a Christian argument against censorship.)

Declan McCullagh says the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that the FCC can just butt out of telling people they can't make video and computer hardware that doesn't pay attention to copy protection. The FCC has no authority to prohibit their manufacture unless Congress gives it to them. So, a reprieve, at least.

This is so dumb that even Michelle Malkin noticed - student on lunchbreak gets a phone call from his mother who is deployed in Iraq. A teacher sees him with the cell phone and has a row with him and the student gets suspended. The principal says this is because students are not supposed to be using cell phones during school hours for "conversating". Gah! (via)

The Bug Man - Joe Vecchio says that comparisons of Tom DeLay with Tammany Hall are unfair - to Tammany Hall.
00:12 BST

Friday, 06 May 2005

The education of Tom Friedman

Tom Freidman. Yes, I know, but it's irresistible. And this time Tom Friedman has discovered that people watch The Daily Show and even get their news from it. Which is a good thing, given the other televised alternatives.

And I am not just talking about college kids. I am talking about grandmas. Just how many people are now getting their only TV news from Comedy Central is not clear to me - but it is a lot, lot more than you think.
Not more than I think, Tom, because I can work out that an awful lot of grandmothers are baby-boomers, and there's no surprise in baby-boomers liking Jon Stewart.

But guess what else Tom has learned!

Second, and this may be related to the first, there's a huge undertow of worry out in the country about how our kids are being educated and whether they'll be able to find jobs in an increasingly flat world, where more Chinese, Indians and Russians than ever can connect, collaborate and compete with us. In three different cities I had parents ask me some version of: "My daughter [or son] is studying Chinese in high school. That's the right thing to do, isn't it?"
Well, thanks to people like Tom Friedman, it may be the only thing that makes any sense, because that's the way things are going.

But, at long last, Friedman gets to a reasonable point, which is that our schools aren't teaching kids enough so that they can create and think and do the things that make it possible for them, and us, to compete in the world. What he doesn't say is that the US has exported our resources and outsourced expertise to such a degree that a good education won't make much difference in the long run.

And: The entrepreneurial spirit that used to be a matter of pride to Americans is fading fast as the incentives to create have been whittled away while the price of failed experiments has become enormous. Tax cuts for the rich (especially the estate tax), the bankruptcy bill, and similar policies of the oligarchy are taking care of that one.

I'm not sure "education" as such will make the difference at all. Maybe what a smart kid learns today is how to live independently on a mountain. Or perhaps how to be a butler....
20:35 BST

Bits of news

Hey, check out the new, cleaner-looking, faster-loading format at Suburban Guerrilla. And What's in a Name?, checking the various headlines for the story on Bush's strategy to force a war in Iraq despite the facts. And did you notice this from David Hackworth's obituary? The cause of death was a form of cancer now appearing with increasing frequency among Vietnam veterans exposed to the defoliants called Agents Orange and Blue.

Roger Ailes notes that USA Today has given the ax to anti-Clinton hack Tom Squitieri for plagiarism, and reminds us of why this is so gratifying for so many of us. Roger also says that - oh, I love this! - Tom "I am the federal government" DeLay has called for greater humility. No, really.

Rachel Maddow's weblog reports that President Al Gore is getting a Webby Award for inventing the Internet. Vint Cerf himself will be doing the honors.

And, of course, Labour won, but they lost 47 seats (and 33 of them went to the Tories), so that's a bit disappointing. Thoroughly safe Labour seats in Newham were retained but not without a 20% loss of votes to Respect, and in Bethnal Green & Bow, where George Galloway ran for Respect, he defeated Labour's Oona King. On Tony's home turf, Reg Keys (with 10.3% of the vote) failed to unseat the PM, but even there Labour lost 6% of the vote since the last election, and the Tories lost 6.5%. We especially send our condolences to those who worked so diligently to try to beat Michael Howard in Folkstone, only to see him pick up nearly 9%. Anyway, everyone is hoping this means Blair will be gone soon, presumably to be replaced by Gordon Brown. My sources (Hi, Roz!) assure me that all circumstantial evidence points to Brown's wife being "not a creep" and this may actually apply to him to a certain extent as well. He does seem a bit more interested in the welfare of this country than Blair has been. Polly Toynbee seems to think that what happened last night was that Labour voters defected to the Liberal Democrats, and though I wish that were true, it's not clear that that's the real story.
18:01 BST

Deluxe Assortment

Nice little piece on the cartoons of Ann Telnaes.
(I particularly liked this one.) Via Hugo Zoom.

Did this song get on Leno's show by accident?

Molly Ivins says they're So stupid, it's painful: When the history of this administration is written, I suspect the largest black mark against it will be wasting time.

But Chris Browers thinks the Democrats are wasting time. When faced with outrages like ABC's refusal to air an ad from a religiously tolerant church because, "The network doesn't take advertising from religious groups. It's a long-standing policy," - followed up by ABC taking ads from a religious hate group, not much happens. Chris is tired of the fact that left-leaning groups never do seem to grab the advantage when it's there.

Here and here, A History of GUI. (Thanks to Dominic of Epicycle for the tip.)

Scary article by Terence Samuel in The American Prospect on Bill Thomas, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, suggesting that he may have what it takes to force Social Security Deform on a country that doesn't want it.

Scorpio says, "I Finally Realized Something: It's not a Social Security debate. It's more a Social Security harassment." And also puts on the tinfoil hat over the curious matter of 10,000 Arrests.

The shock column of the week is George F. Will saying that religious fanatics should stop playing the victim card and obey the Constitution.
15:17 BST

News and views and stuff

Thanks to Crazy Soph for sending me an additional link on Brazil's rejection of US AIDS money, and also one for Calling Bush's Views Manichean Is an Insult to the Manicheans.

Ahistoricality demurs from that Oliver Willis post I linked earlier. (I'm not so sure that credit should go to Gates and Jobs, either - after all, Alan Sugar is the one who really made the difference by selling an affordable personal computer and showing them how it was done.)

Greg Palast says it's Impeachment Time: "Facts Were Fixed": Here it is. The smoking gun. The memo that has "IMPEACH HIM" written all over it.

Helga points me to Inkywatch ("monitoring the philadelphia inquirer for bias and deception") and The Inky's Continued Mishandling of Social Security. Would you believe the PI sill thinks there's a crisis?

Joe Vecchio thinks the neocons, by behaving like it's all about them, are sewing the seeds of their own destruction. But we have a job to do, because It's All About Us.

I just noticed that I am somehow back on the Blogstreet BIQ 100 (yay!), and also that Eschaton now outranks Instahack - rah!
02:56 BST

Election night note

Updates at the BBC.

No news yet on the chances of The Ditch Blair Project. God, I would love it if Labour won the country but Blair lost Sedgefield. Well, a girl can dream....
01:46 BST

Thursday, 05 May 2005

It's the news

It was weird waking up and hearing about an explosion in New York. Just for a minute....

I missed Rachel Maddow's show this morning but she's got a whole bunch of interesting links up from the show on her weblog. One that had a staff member saying she's getting a whiff of Ollie North was this:

Colombian police arrested two U.S. soldiers for alleged involvement in a plot to traffic thousands of rounds of ammunition possibly to outlawed right-wing paramilitary groups, authorities said Wednesday.
The other refers to a post at Daily Kos on the forcible arrest of someone at a university appearance by Ann Coulter who had asked a rude question during the Q&A:
The police (who were there in full force that evening to protect Coulter from the fatal threat of banana creme) had taken the questioner by the arms when he attempted to leave the auditorium after signaling to his friends that he was leaving. Two officers grabbed him and with an undeniably excessive amount of force pushed him out of the very same auditorium that he was exiting on his own.
And she didn't have a link to this story but I found it at the BBC - Brazil turns down US Aids funds:
Aids campaigners have welcomed a decision by Brazil to turn down US funds because of a clause in the agreement condemning prostitution.
Washington says it is important not to promote prostitution, and does not want any of its funds to be spent on treating prostitutes.
But Aids activists in Brazil said the clause would hamper the treatment of infected sex workers and their clients.
Op-ed fight of the day: The WSJ features opposed articles by Christopher Hitchens and James Taranto, respectively titled Why I'm Rooting Against the Religious Right and Why I'm Rooting for the Religious Right. (The Hitchens article opened right away, but for whatever reason, the latter piece asked me to give them my e-mail address if I wanted to see the article.)

And in blogdom, my pick from the morning is Majikthise (the sexiest name in the blogosphere) on Kyrgyz bridal kidnapping and moral/cultural relativism.
17:13 BST

Boiling frog stories

Travis says that Leonard Pitts "is a common-sense guy, not given to rash hyperbole," who nevertheless says:

Maybe your instinct is to find the comparison unthinkable. Nobody is interning gays, nobody is mass murdering them.

You're right. But ask yourself: How many would if they could?

Via Atrios, Jesse Taylor finds a breathtaking reinterpretation of freedom of religion in Virginia:
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled a Virginia county can refuse to let a witch give the invocation at its meetings by limiting the privilege to clergy representing Judeo-Christian monotheism.
Chuck Dupree scares the life out of me:
Even the US office of petroleum reserves, discussing various forecasts for the year of peak oil production, says
"What is notable. is that none extend beyond the year 2020, suggesting that the world may be facing shortfalls much sooner than expected."
And Jerome Doolittle, who probably remembers Jimmy Carter better than anyone else in the blogosphere, says Thom Hartmann has a reminder for the rest of us that Bush was not consistent with the facts when he said our country never had an energy policy (and it's all Clinton's fault, of course): Carter Tried To Stop Bush's Energy Disasters - 28 Years Ago. Naturally, the Republicans derided him, but at least a few programs were established.
Carter's speech drew a strong reaction from the Saudis and the oil industry. Think tanks soon emerged - many whose names are today familiar - to suggest there was really no energy problem, and they led the charge to establish a permanent right-wing media in the US. Within two years, Saudi citizen and oil baron Salem bin Laden's sole US representative, James Bath, would funnel cash into the failing business of the son of the CIA's former director, political up-and-comer George H. W. Bush. With that money from the representative of Osama Bin Laden's half-brother, George Bush Jr. was able to keep afloat his Arbusto ("shrub" in Spanish) Oil Company. And he would be in the pocket of the bin Laden and Saudi interests for the rest of his life. But Carter was incorruptible.
And then there was the hostage crisis, and the illegal Bush-Reagan deal (and don't think oil played no role there, either) to keep the hostages until Reagan was sworn in:
And Ronald Reagan's first official acts of office included removing Jimmy Carter's solar panels from the roof of the White House, and reversing most of Carter's conservation and alternative energy policies.
The Republicans and the Saudis - and particularly the Bush Family Empire - have been working to destroy our country's future for years. And they've taught everyone to laugh at any effort to prevent it. Well done, boys.
14:11 BST

Quick trawl

Everyone says that "workers are paying 12.4%" into Social Security. But Uggabugga reminds us that It's not 12.4%.

Good Terrorists

The Talking Dog explains why we haven't heard from Osama lately.

Slacktivist on the Christianists in America who claim to be persecuted because of their faith: They are my brothers and sisters in Christ -- and the brothers and sisters of those Christians facing actual persecution in the world's forgotten corners -- but they are insane.

I'm a little baffled by two articles from Knight Ridder Tuesday, 'USA Patriot Act' seen as both eye-catching, tough to criticize and Patriot Act's renewal unites unlikely allies, both of which make it sound like no one has any serious criticisms of the Act, apparently because Gonzales is more polite than Ashcroft was. New PR campaign, or what?

End of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders?

Prints by Alex Teselsky: Rose of Atlantis and After the Harvest

Classified ad of the day (via)
12:17 BST

The good stuff

I thought about writing something to commemorate the anniversary, but in the end I didn't. Happens every year. You know the cold facts: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Glen Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer, and William Knox Schroeder died that day. Magpie at Pacific Views has the details.

Also at Pacific Views, Natatsha has a big fat post full of hot links, including Steve Gilliard on Bill Cosby's attack on poor blacks, an alternative to DEET, and what she describes as "The best argument ever for why we should easily be able to overcome fossil fuel dependence" from Oliver Willis.

The L Word isn't on free-to-air, which means we don't watch it, but Snark Attack reassures me that I'm not missing anything. (And, Alun, you're gonna love this picture.)
02:07 BST

Event horizon

Bill Scher tells Joe Biden and Nick Kristof to Stop Rationalizing Bush's motives.

Greg Palast explains why Tony Blair Can't Win - or lose. (Actually, he's wrong - there's always the delightful fantasy that he will lose his constituency while Labour still wins.) Favorite quote: As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says, Tony Blair is a man of principle. So was the Ayatolla Khomeini. Both were willing to have others pay any price for their beliefs.

When columnists cry "When Columnists Cry 'Jihad'" (no, that's not a typo), my heart bleeds for those poor right-wing crackpots who think they can assert their Christianity while spitting on the Gospels without anyone crying, "Foul!" Ezra Klein unpacks this one neatly, although I disagree with both that the term "jihad" is hyperbole. "Jihad" is not necessarily defined by violence.

Media Matters points out that the NYT article about how PBS is moving to the right failed to mention that their so-called "Ombudsman" is actually a right-winger who will only be looking to see if PBS is too liberal!

Joe Conason on Must-Flee TV: The G.O.P. on PBS: Conservatives have long warned us that someday the commissars of political correctness are going to take over in Washington and impose their opinions on us with our own tax dollars. What they didn't tell us is that they would become those commissars, and that their politically correct orthodoxy would be the Republican Party line - as they are now proving at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (Permanent link at Working for Change.)

Dominic Thomas at Epicycle disagrees strongly with Orson Scott Card's article pissing on Star Trek. He also links to this article on the further adventures of Microsoft and anti-gay bigotry: "They're lying," Hutcherson said flatly when asked about Microsoft's assertion that its position on the bill was not revised because of the pressure he brought to bear on the company. Hutcherson asserted that the company withdrew its support only after he threatened to organize a national boycott of Microsoft products."
00:42 BST

Wednesday, 04 May 2005

On the record

I hadn't realized that Kos was actually responsible for a major story about John Bolton becoming headline news, but Byron York says it was only after the Dems ignored her letter and a friend posted it at Daily Kos that Melody Townsel's story about being chased around a hotel for nearly a fortnight "behaving like a madman" that anyone paid attention.

TChris at TalkLeft discusses the dangers of the Real ID Act. Jeralyn says the Conference Report on the Iraq supplemental spending bill is out and contains the Real ID language, which she will post more on when she's gone over it. ACLU says that since it's buried in the military spending bill, it won't get a good look before passage: The Real ID Act will therefore likely be enacted without being scrutinized by any hearings or debate. The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed its disappointment that the final measure includes this sweeping legislation that rolls back asylum laws, attacks immigrants and sets the stage for a national ID. ... The Real ID Act would also unnecessarily harm immigrants. Some asylum seekers will be forced to produce written corroboration of their persecution from those who persecuted them. The act would also eliminate, in some cases, the right of habeas corpus as an avenue for court review for the first time since the Civil War.

Marijuana Becomes Focus of Drug War says the WaPo, saying that arrests for what used to be known as "hard drugs" has declined. Hey, I have an idea! Let's stop going after marijuana, too, and we'll save lots of money!
23:31 BST

Items of interest

An editorial in The Washington Post called A Vote in the House, about the fact that DC residents still have no real representation in Congress, contains a statement you don't see very often: That inexcusable situation exists despite polls showing that the American public favors congressional representation for D.C. residents.

Barbara O'Brien (of The Mahablog) has a post up at The American Street on the American Taliban: Last night while channel surfing I had the misfortune of catching a few minutes of Scarborough Country on MSNBC. The good news was that Scarborough wasn't on. The bad news was that Pat Buchanan was guest-hosting. Even more appalling, Buchanan was interviewing Randall Terry. Back at her own weblog, she recommends Stirling Newberry's call to End the Sex Tax.

As always, lots of good stuff at Make Them Accountable, such as Robert Reich's Social Security reform is simply a diversion, Jerry Lembeck's article debunking the story that Vietnam war opponents spit on returning veterans, and this cartoon. Oh, and Carol Towarnicky's article in The Philadelphia Daily News about the fact that the press is ignoring the Jeff Gannon scandal. (All of these things are currently on MTA's front page, so save yourself some clicks and go there right now. I link these things individually in case I want to find them three years from now, but that shouldn't stop you.)

Matt Yglesias, sitting in for Josh Marshall (jeez, you can hardly turn around without running into Matt these days), asks a question that often worries me: What can you do about a guy like Joe Klein? As if his support for the Bush phase-out wasn't bad enough, he needs to insist that Democratic opposition to Bush's plan is not only misguided (by his lights), but is, in fact, comprised of "phony bleats of outrage from leading Democrats" who are "more interested in the demagogic exploitation of the issue than they are in the impact of baby boom retirement on their grandchildren."

Strap-On Veterans For Truth (Thanks to Neil Rest for the tip.)
18:40 BST

Stuff from around

I can hardly believe this, but Dino Rossi is still contesting Christine Gregoire's election last November in Seattle and a county judge just allowed the latest challenge. Someone should offer Rossi the opportunity to have a complete hand recount of the state - at his own expense.

David Greenberg has a piece in the LAT on The Republicans' Filibuster Lie. Of course, having it debunked in a newspaper will not stop the amazing number of people who have been perpetuating this crap about it being "unprecedented" from continuing to repeat it.

Kudos to E.J. Dionne for saying it's Time to Leave the Table: There is a name for those who continue to sit at a gambling table even after they learn that the game is fixed. They are called fools. Gee, I sure hope the damned Dem leadership is reading this.

Is this a joke? Really, do you think the fact that our military is already over-extended could mean we might not have enough resources to fight on other fronts? Gosh, the NYT and the Pentagon sure are on top of things.

Why hasn't Medved enlisted?

Why is Orson Scott Card dancing on Star Trek's grave?

Take Charlie Rangel's Social Security quiz.

Michael Leunig on terrorism (Thanks to Helga.)
02:29 BST

Why do we keep nominating Frazier Crane?

Over at Through the Looking Glass, Charles Dodgson is even more skeptical than I was at the idea that Harry Reid was being remarkably clever by offering Frist a deal on the filibuster. And I have to admit that the more I think about it, the less I've liked it. Charles is right - we had everything to lose and nothing to gain by making such an offer, so why bother? All it does is suggest that the filibuster is more important than the principle that some people simply shouldn't be on the bench. And it isn't.

What is truly important is that you know what the hell you stand for and then bloody stand for it. As Kung Fu Monkey reminds us, you need to be real, and the audience can tell when you're not. Like Jesse Taylor says, this is an approach to "framing" you don't have to hate. (And while you're at Pandagon, do check out Jesse's piece on the estate tax. I wish to god we had candidates who could explain things like Jesse can.)
00:02 BST

Tuesday, 03 May 2005

Liberal Media

Anna Granfors writes to say that Talk City is the "best sounding web Air America":

I find I'm getting my AA from three different web sources throughout the week, and almost not at all from the local (Los Angeles) affiliate, who are terminally lame--LA Clippers basketball forever preempting Randi/Majority Report, inclusion of both ClearChannel shills Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz, and AWFUL local hosts on the weekend instead of Flanders/Ring of Fire et al. ClearChannel's involvement in ownership of many AA affiliates has always been suspect--smells like a backhanded way of asserting some control over the content.

damn, it's amazing how my media consumption's changed since 2000...useta happily watch Katie Couric and never went near talkradio. but then, I would've also said ""

I'll have to disagree - she's missing AAR's excellent early-morning hour show where Rachel Maddow tells you what's going on. It's the smartest show in their daily line-up, but at 5:00 AM a lot of people are undoubtedly missing it even if they are in a market that takes it. But Anna is on the Left Coast, so she could hear tomorrow's news the night before on the main AAR website feed (Or download it at your leisure.)

But she's right about one thing - even on the web, we didn't have much back in 2000. The only thing I'm sure of is Bartcop, which has been going since the mid-'90s. I don't remember when Salon got started (and I think the author of the late-lamented Media Whores Online came out of Salon's Table Talk, but not sure exactly when). So for the most part you just had to buy a copy of The Nation off the stands.

But, as I've mentioned before, when I started this weblog in 2001, there were very few spots on the web that were openly liberal - there were a small handful of weblogs in that category - Patrick's Electrolite, Through the Looking Glass, Ted Barlow (who now posts instead at Crooked Timber), Charles Kuffner's Off the Kuff, and I believe Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo and Matt Yglesias were already going. Before that, the smart spots on the web were usually accessed as e-mail lists - Phil Agree's Red Rock Eater was truly a godsend in those days (and some of the classic articles are still must-reads for anyone who wants to understand what's going on). But mostly, we felt like we were on our own.

Today, at least, there are more good shows on AAR than you can listen to even if you spend all your waking hours with your ear glued to it. And looking at my blogroll, which is still just a percentage of the number of good liberal weblogs out there, well, we're definitely not on our own anymore. And don't kid yourself that any of us has time to read it all.
13:53 BST

All news is old news

I think I know what it is. I think it's that we've written all these stories before, over and over and over, and I just am not sure why I'm reading them again. Al Gore gives another smart speech, he's crazy. Bush was always going to invade Iraq and cooked the evidence to fit. My god, the press has even noticed that Bush didn't get a "mandate" in November. Well, haven't we told you all along?

What else? Paul Krugman again explaining that Bush's latest proposal isn't what he says it is.

Oh, look, Susan Milligan at The Boston Globe has noticed that the GOP gives more power to federal government rather than giving it back to the states. And the NYT has noticed that right-wingers are leaning on PBS and making it even more conservative.

From the perspective of the liberal Blogosphere, it's the same story over and over again, with the only difference being that some of the major papers are starting to say what has been obvious for years, and maybe one or two stories being moved closer to the front of the paper.

I know a lot of the stories seem to point to some light at the end of the tunnel - gee, the press is starting to notice this stuff? Or, wow, is the press actually going to take this story seriously this time? The thing is, I've had that feeling too many times before as it is, and nothing happens.

So I'm jittery. Something should happen. But will it? Finally? I get so tired of waiting.
05:09 BST

Monday, 02 May 2005

Notes from the war at home

Ezra Klein on the favorite RNC choice for the presidency.

The Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog thinks it's interesting that it's actually now a matter to remark on when the puppy press does its job.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) slams Bush in a Raw Story interview.

The page hasn't been updated in nearly a year, but if you have missed the background on the Project for a New American Century, this is a good place to take a quick course on where all this deranged administration policy is coming from.
12:44 BST

Picture this

Art Section: Balloons
Misty Forest

Amusements:Maru supplies a pointer to The Ramones name generator!
Ant City

Movie section: Oh, and Maru also recommends Elizabeth Morringello's remarkable short animation WTF (from here).

More movie: Big Media Hall of Shame nominees (so you can vote knowledgeably)

Travel section: The Cotswolds - your basic quaint England.

Comic section:
You can trust Bush.
Wasserman on Abu Ghraib.
Water...? Water...? Get Your War On
02:06 BST

Sunday, 01 May 2005

Can you suspend your disbelief?

I've let myself get behind on this thing, but of course The Brad Blog has kept up, and notes that the vote-fraud issue is starting to make its way into the mainstream press. He links a WaPo article I missed that directly addresses the study debunking the pathetic Edison-Mitofsky rationalization of the exit-poll/voting tally discrepancies.

As you may recall, I had a quick look at the E-M report when it came out and was unable to find any support for the theory that exit pollsters had oversampled likely Kerry voters. Further review in the face of the later study has only confirmed my initial impression. The Post's Terry Neal, alas, is all too credulous when Mitofsky himself tells him that his own exit polling must have been wrong. He doesn't have any evidence for this, of course, it just is. And even apparently important Democratic hacks are jumping on the bandwagon to explain it all away. (Does anyone know who Mitofsky is, by the way? His eagerness to fall on his sword over this really makes me wonder who he's working for.)

Bob Fitrakis has been rounding up the details of increasing evidence that something is rotten in Ohio. And, oh, there are so many, many little details:

That move comes amidst lingering questions about the Bush family's ties to the voting machine industry. In 2003, a court case revealed that the VoteHere voting machine company included on its board of directors former CIA director Robert Gates, a close Bush family confidante. Connections between the Bush family and ownership of voting machines have also raised questions about how future American elections will be decided.

Admiral Bill Owens is Chair of VoteHere. Owens served as senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney. Carlucci now heads the notorious Carlyle Group, whose associates include Cheney, George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker, who iced George W. Bush's victory in Florida 2000. Georgia has approved the purchase of VoteHere machines. The military considered them for overseas voting, and the company has planned to make components for other voting machine companies. Blackwell recently announced that the partisan Republican firm Diebold, run by one of Bush's major donors, CEO Wally O'Dell, will get an unbid contract for all of Ohio's voting machines.

Meanwhile, a bi-partisan Ohio coalition is pushing for a statewide vote on three constitutional amendments to guarantee that the kinds of irregularities, fraud and theft that defined Ohio 2004 can never happen again, and that the next Buckeye State election and vote count might actually be fair and honest. Led by former Republican Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas, former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party Paul Tipps, Ohio State political science professor emeritus Herb Asher and the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association president Ron Alexander, the campaign is hoping to put three constitutional amendments on the November 2006 ballot.

One amendment would remove the Secretary of State from any role in administering statewide elections. This would outlaw the kind of conflict of interest that tainted Ohio in 2004, when Blackwell worked as co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign while controlling the state's vote count, a dual role many believe he used to wrongly hand Ohio - and the presidency - to George W. Bush.

Direct connections between the Bush Family Empire and the people who control the voting machines would itself be considered a scandal in a sane world. But since we're in Bizarro World now, I guess not.

Meanwhile, remember that fake Homeland Security alert that "forced" one precinct to count its votes in secret?

The Free Press is printing for the first time a hand-drawn map from an employee of the Warren County government. The employee, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, communicated to the Free Press thoughts on what happened on Election Day in the county that received national attention by declaring a "homeland security alert" while the votes were being counted.

With the media and independent election observers "walled off," as the Cincinnati Enquirer described, the employee claims that "some ballot boxes were taken to the holding area" where they were not monitored by election officials. The Warren County employee referred to the person supervising the unauthorized warehouse as a "Republican Party hack."

The employee is concerned that it would have been easy to "stuff" the ballot boxes or that "signatures could have been forged in the unauthorized holding area."

But I'm supposed to believe that nothing untoward happened. Yeah, okay....
22:57 BST


Let's see what's happening over at Memeorandum... Ah, this is good, Cliff May thinks being yelled at by Teddy Kennedy is the same thing as hiring an obnoxious thug who can't get along with anyone as a diplomat. It would take too long to explain to May things he probably doesn't understand anyway, such as being elected (as opposed to being shoved down your throat), or having to actually work for a guy who wants you to tell lies for him and treats you like dirt and - unlike the Senator - never apologizes. Conservatives have a lot easier time being conservative if they don't have to consider thinks like facts and context.

The NYT on Uzbekistan as our latest place to outsource torture to. A CIA official pretends that we don't know we are enabling torture, so it's okay. Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber: Or in other words, don't ask, don't tell. It is nothing less than appalling that this has happened, is continuing to happen, and is an official (if unacknowledged) US policy. Indeed, it's not only appalling; it's criminal. No other conclusion is possible than that the United States of America is deliberately and consciously shipping people to third party regimes so that information can be tortured from them. This is general knowledge. Yet it isn't being acted on. Those who have introduced this policy and overseen it shouldn't just be forced to resign. They should be prosecuted as war criminals. Absolutely.

Frank Rich says that a funny thing happened on the way to South Park conservatism: In the March 30 episode, Kenny, a kid whose periodic death is a "South Park" ritual, lands in a hospital in a "persistent vegetative state" and is fed through a tube. The last page of his living will is missing. Demonstrators and media hordes descend. Though heavenly angels decree that "God intended Kenny to die" rather than be "kept alive artificially," they are thwarted by Satan, whose demonic aide advises him to "do what we always do - use the Republicans." Soon demagogic Republican politicians are spewing sound bites ("Removing the feeding tube is murder") scripted in Hell. But as in the Schiavo case, they don't prevail. Kenny is allowed to die in peace once his missing final wish is found: "If I should ever be in a vegetative state and kept alive on life support, please for the love of God don't ever show me in that condition on national television." You and me both, kid. John Cole seems to have liked the piece, but others on the right feel it was unfair because Rich didn't mention that the right-wing has really cool guys like Mel Gibson on their side. (No, you don't get to be cool once you espouse a loony religio-political philosophy that is to the right of Opus Dei - sorry!)

Mario Cuomo spoke up for the filibuster, and naturally, the wingnuts at Powerlie have made up some more crap about it. (Shouldn't the mainstream media apologize for bringing these guys to our attention?) Armando at DKos gives them all the respect they deserve.
17:57 BST


Jim Henley says he's done fighting the "left wing" label now that Right Wing News has invited him to participate in one of their surveys as a left-of-center blogger (They've invited me, too. Any suggestions for "favorite columnist"? I'm not even sure what "columnist" is limited to.) So now he's helping out in the quest Matt Yglesias picked up from Ezra Klein looking for a Democratic Party tag line. He also finds that stupid sexist tricks at corporations don't actually turn out to be great business plans. Useful quote: In one phase, neos deny the United States is an empire. In the next phase, neos hold a symposium celebrating Empire's essential goodness and urge the US to be mindful of its imperial burden.

At TalkLeft, a heartening story about high school students who have mapped out a plan to solve the problems the adults have ignored. And more grown-up misbehavior in court, when jurors disobey rules and have their verdict thrown out.

I'm not sure how many people will see the light and vote for the LibDems (on the theory that officials who screw the public should be punished at the polls) as a result of having proof at last that everything we already knew about Blair, Bush, and Iraq was true (and it wasn't the BBC that "sexed up" the story), but at least now it's official. Via James Wolcott.

Digby explains Goldilocks Logic: By the logic of modern journalism, in which they are considered to be "getting it right" if both sides of an issue criticize them, we now know that James Dobson is a moderate on gay rights. Because he's being protested by both gay rights supporters and Fred Phelps' family of hate. But definitely read Duped, about the real difference between the liberal position on taxes and the conservative one. I've alluded to this a few times, but Digby spells out the fact that "small-government conservatives" tell themselves lies about how Democrats do all the taxing and spending; Republicans do all the spending and Democrats have no choice but to raise taxes on the wealthy to clean up the mess. But that's not our philosophy, it's just necessity. Our philosophy is that if you want a society that has a healthy economy and upward mobility (including the opportunity for the non-rich to become rich), you have to pay for it, and the people who have already benefited owe more.

OK, the US has a lot of bombs and stuff, but that's about it. Are we really the world's only superpower? Economically speaking, not so much.

Thank goodness GOTV has a new format, a new template, a normal blogroll in a normal position, and so on. Whew!

At Carpe Datum, a look at the media landscape in a market where Air America has just opened a station (with a weak signal).
15:40 BST

Begging the caption


Well, at least Marvel is giving the troops more support than the administration is. And if the comics aren't any good, they can use them as sandbags, or to line the doors of their Humvees. (Caption supplied by Mr. Sideshow.)
11:42 BST

Happy May Day!

Happy Beltane. Now go read Mobjectivist because I'm still too blank to say any of this stuff.
03:15 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, May 2005

April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
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April 2004
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January 2004
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November 2003
October 2003
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November 2002
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December 2001
November 2001
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page

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