The Sideshow

Archive for September 2003

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Tuesday, 30 September 2003

Quick hits

Reality check

Shorter Right-Wing Punditry's Reaction to the Valerie Plame Affair: An Internal Dialogue

Public Nuisance has fun with Clifford May, and Jim Henley joins the fun (and has some excellent news right here, by the way).

Playbill on the death of Elia Kazan at 94.
23:54 BST

Clams got legs

And so does this story; the clam-up in the White House is getting comical. Mark Kleiman has a great round-up of the Traitorgate posts and articles, including printing a letter from Dwight Meredith on the subject. Josh Marshall has some thoughts of his own (which you should definitely read) and sees some serious business - but he's laughing at the right's attempt to spin it. (He's got the lovely exchange from the morning press gaggle which is...well, go there and read.) Meanwhile, on the long and fascinating thread at CalPundit, a poster named Kelly says:

Yes, this should be a bipartisan issue. But so far, it's not. Greg claims that Republicans don't pray for scandal in the White House. Neither do I any more than I pray for things to fall when I drop them. Scandal in this White House is as reliable as gravity.

And, just what would the Republicans be saying if a Democratic administration had done this? Do you happen to remember the reaction when Dana Rohrabacher held hearings about supposed transfer of sensitive technology to China? The very day that he made the allegations that something had been transferred to China he insisted that President Clinton should resign.

In the end, it turned out that nothing of significance had been transferred to China. In this case, I think we already know that the White House has revealed the identity of an undercover CIA operative. I'm waiting for Bush (and Cheney) to resign. I'll expect those letters on my desk in the morning.

An appropriate response, given that one poster has suggested that the center of gravity is around Wilson being a hack for a left-wing rag (he had a single article published in The Nation last February). Wilson is also being described as some sort of Clinton administration appointee, although he worked for Presidents Reagan and Bush (the real one) and was sent to Niger by Cheney. Bob Novak furiously back-tracked on Crossfire but both Time and Brokaw have already corroborated the story with their own. Novak's spin: It's no big deal. But even Don Imus is pretty upset about burning a CIA operative's cover, and a crack in the wall of talk radio means something. And Atrios, back from his stint on Mike Signorile's radio show, has the goods from last July in Newsday:
Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."
That's not how he sounded on Crossfire, which kinda makes one wonder what happened between then and now.

Will it go anywhere? Who knows? But let's do remind people that the case against the administration here is still a whole lot better than the the case for invading Iraq was. After all, Karl Rove has a history of doing "bad things"....
12:33 BST


Bad Attitudes says Ashcroft has finally nailed a "terrorist". Is there no adult supervision at any level of federal law enforcement? No one to say, Oh, for Christ's sake, throw a scare into the poor kid and kick her out the door? (Also: White House admits environmental regs save billions.)

"Dean" David Broder believes the Dean candidacy and the California recall mark The Return Of Discontent. Forgive me if I find this analysis a bit naive and simplistic.

Karin Chenoweth says Maryland's governor is weak on academic freedom.

Support the Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act.
11:59 BST

Monday, 29 September 2003

Things I saw

Newtation: LiberalOasis has a detailed rebuttal to Gephardt's suggestion that Howard Dean supported Gingrich while real Democrats were fighting him, clearly showing that Dean did not side with Newt on Medicare cuts. That doesn't mean liberals should be in love with Dean's position, but then we already knew he isn't really a liberal. In any case, Dean was absolutely right when he said, "That is flat-out false, and I'm ashamed that you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich." LO quotes extensively from an article detailing Dean's position at the time, which even describes him as referring to the "Contract on America". That's no Newt-supporter.

Seeing the Forest: There have been some who doubted that the Bush administration operates to benefit The Party rather than the country. The latest news in the scandal over the "outing" of a covert CIA agent will show them they have been wrong about that. Dave notes that an investigation - if the party doesn't block it - "might reveal how many of her foreign contacts have been imprisoned or executed as a result of this leak. It might reveal how many WMD purchases occurred because of this leak." But, he reminds us, the Republicans control everything, and they have blocked every single investigation into any suspicious, unethical, or apparently incompetent performance within the government, including of the failures that led to Al Qaeda's disastrous success on 9/11, so it will be surprising if anything really comes of this latest investigation. (Also: more on just how far-right the folks who own the voting machines are.)

Get your daily epigram from The Roycrofters. Among other things.

Mark Slackmeyer and Zonker Harris are ready for Total Recall as soon as the current recall election is over (assuming anyone besides Davis ends up winning). And while I'm on the subject, here's that censored Doonsbury strip I mentioned a while back.

Moon watch: John Gorenfeld's weblog helps you keep track of the holy-father owner of The Washington Times, who is, as you know, the Messiah. (Via Eschaton.)

And speaking of Atrios, Glenn Reynolds SO doesn't get it: And I guess if it weren't for the palpable desperation on the part of people looking for a scandal with which to tar Bush -- reminiscent of numerous right-wing Clinton critics from about five or six years ago -- I might be more inclined to say "more" instead of "less." Atrios explains it for the hard of thinking:

Let me spell it out for you Glenn. This isn't about now-Solicitor General Ted Olson making shit up under the name "Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short" writing for a Scaife-funded right wing attack mag, or Gary Aldrich claiming the White House Christmas tree was decorated with crack pipes and dildos, or Dan Burton blowing up watermelons.

This is one SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL accusing TWO TOP WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS of committing rather serious felonies. If the allegations are true, it's also about a president who, at least knowing about this after the fact, kept these people around for months during a time of war.

Paul Waldman in The Washington Post on Why the Media Don't Call It as They See It: Why didn't the media go after the administration sooner on this issue? Aren't reporters, especially in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era, all too ready to show their skepticism about our leaders and what they say? Fat chance. As usual, nothing said about the mysterious fact that the media's reticence about calling someone a liar only seems to apply if the someone is a Republican.

Nathan Newman: The key here is that Ashcroft is not looking for new legislation, a la the Patriot Act. Instead, he seeking to twist the meaning of a combination of statutes to create an "Official Secrets Act" that the Congress deliberately DID NOT create. Nathan is referring to this article by John Dean about how Ashcroft is trying to help the government cover up its own malfeasance. (Also: Lieberman Right on Clark talks about why it is reasonable to ask for more evidence of Clark's loyalty to a party he actively worked against as recently as two years ago; plus defining examples of what "judicial activism" and "the poverty line" mean.)

"Pardon me boy, is that the Chickenhawk Escape train?" is the title of a post at Bartcop Nation linking to this story that says: During President Bush's two-day stay this week at the ritzy Waldorf-Astoria in New York — where he was seeking international support for the U.S. resolution on Iraq — a special escape train was idling beneath the hotel, ready to whisk him to safety at a moment's notice in the event of a terrorist attack, it was reported Friday. And I liked the little map at the bottom of another post in the thread showing:

The getting out of harm's way 9.11 tour

15:34 BST

Name that tune!

Regrettably, this was doodled by Rob, so it rhymes better in British. And anyway, I take issue with his decision to use "Condoleeza", which doesn't scan very well, instead of "Rice", although at the moment I can't think of a good line to go with it. Or Rove. Oh, well.

He cannot help but lie
He doesn't even try
Could not be sleezier
And Colin Powell
Helped whitewash
My Lai
For more of what Tuli Kupferberg calls "parasongs", see MadKane.
14:17 BST

I just thought this was cute

01:39 BST

What they're saying

The big story in the blogosphere, of course, is that "the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist", after having a fire lit under them by CIA Director George Tenet. (See also MSNBC and Time stories.) Those links, of course, come from Atrios, who really has it covered. Atrios reports significant weblog coverage on left (Brad DeLong: Well, Some Dare Call It Treason) and right (Daniel Drezner: What could cause me to switch parties). The Truth Laid Bear isn't quite ready to hang them yet, but Brian Linse is taking bets:

The Washington Post has broken the Valerie Plame leak story wide open. CalPundit has comments, as do Josh Marshall and Mark Kleiman, with more to come, I suspect, in the next 24 hours. Conservo-blogger John Cole is calling for a perp walk if this turns out to be true, and it sure looks like several senior White House officials will be facing a Grand Jury. It should be an interesting Sunday talk cycle if Russert et al manage to wake the fuck up and jump on this story.
BadDude has a Franklin that says Rove goes down on this. Any takers?
The comment threads everywhere are fascinating, so if you have a chance, take a look; some commenters point out that "White House officials" shouldn't have known Plame was a CIA operative in the first place, and that how they knew is itself worthy of investigation. Counterspin Central is keeping track of the other side of blogtopia (Y!SITP!), and notes that while the righties have been remarkably quiet, Arthur Silber has chimed in from the West Coast (with even more links). Back on the home team, Road to Surfdom also chimes in.
01:08 BST


Straight Eye for the Queer Guy (via TRR).

Neal Pollack is emotional about A Plea Bargain At Any Price.

Untelevised is having a moment of euphoria at the NYT actually coming to the defense of a Democrat, but maybe first he should have looked at this piece in which Frank Rich really reaches to find a stupid put-down of that same Democrat. (No, Frank, letting James Carville feed you a joke doesn't make you a phony. But this sort of faux integrity probably does.)

Road to Surfdom has a sharp rejoinder to Gephardt for his attempt to Newt Howard Dean.

At the Smirking Chimp, more Republicans for Dean, and Joseph Stiglitz wants you to 'Just say no to Bush.'

Robert Parry responds to Tom Friedman's idea that the French are our enemy by saying no, it's quite the opposite: friends don't let friends drive drunk.
00:34 BST

Obit Corner

Robert Palmer: Guardian, Guardian, Telegraph
George Plimpton: Guardian, Telegraph
Edward Said: Hitchens in the Observer,Telegraph
Hugo Young: Will Hutton in the Observer, Stephen Fay in the Observer, Telegraph
00:01 BST

Sunday, 28 September 2003

The political fever

Monkey Media Report, all over Clark and Edwards, recommends this transcript from Democracy Now for another take on Wesley Clark, and also recommends "an in-depth, highly readable, 7,400-word debate between the editors of two intelligent political magazines" - or, rather between the editors of The New Republic and The American Prospect about John Edwards' poor chances of securing a spot at the top of the Democratic presidential ticket. VP seat? Maybe. (Meanwhile, this is cute.)

From Skimble: Graft and Corruption and Double Standards.

Symbolism over safety: P.G. Gandy at Open Source Politics explains late-term abortion and why "partial-birth" is an erroneous term - and, by the way, which of our leading candidates has been prepared to say so. (No surprises on who that is.)

Charles Dodgson is watching while the government plays more games with Moussaoui. We all know the score: He's not allowed to present a full defense, and if the judge insists he be allowed to, the government will just keep refusing until the judge is forced to dismiss the case - and then they will subject him to the fancy new no-defense military tribunals that Bushcroft created for the purpose. Because everyone knows that an adequate defense, including their testimony, might lead to an acquittal, at least on charges of direct participation in the Sept. 11th conspiracy -- and goodness knows we can't have that... Charles also sums up what anyone who can think already knows about Bush's latest demand to the UN: Someone's come along to bail him out every other time that he's gotten himself into trouble, so dammit, there's just got to be someone out there whose job it is to bail him out now. And to do it his way, too, without dropping even the merest hint that he, himself, might bear some responsibility for the mess...

Not Geniuses explains why the Republican view of charity doesn't work, and also says: Great. They sometimes use the PATRIOT Act for its intended purpose, you know, when they're not using it for other purposes.

The Plame Affair - Hellblazer writes the movie proposal. (And also provides a link to Friday's Guardian leader, Weapons of War - and I just don't see how anyone can dissent from this position anymore.)
12:21 BST


Greg Beato compares two cult icons in Word of Oaf: Bill O'Reilly vs. Ludacris. What does O'Reilly have against Ludacris? It almost sounds like jealousy. Or maybe it's something else. When a guest on O'Reilly's show asked him if any hip-hop figure might make an acceptable Pepsi spokesperson, O'Reilly replied "Chubby Checker." Also: Anabaptist Coulter - with footnotes!

Ken MacLeod and Dave Hitt are having a smoke-in: The Big Lie is that it's to protect workers in the hospitality industry. But talk to any nicotine nanny long enough and they'll admit their real agenda - they want to make it so difficult to smoke that people will quit. It won't work. They'll only succeed in annoying the hell out of us, and annoyed smokers calm down by lighting up. It's true, you know - if you really want to make sure someone smokes themselves to death, be sure to hassle them about their smoking. (Hint: Smokers already know their smoking is bad for them, and they know it better than you do.)
12:10 BST

Saturday, 27 September 2003

Yet still I love my country

The rise of corporate dominance and theft of human rights

"In Unequal Protection, author Thom Hartmann tells a compelling, can't-put-it-down story that tracks the history of the loss of democracy in America. It starts with the birth of the modern corporation with the founding of the East India Company in 1600, through the Boston Tea Party revolt against transnational corporate domination of the early American economy, the rise of corporations during the Civil War, the ultimate theft of human rights before the Supreme Court in 1886, and into the modern-day theft of human rights in the US and worldwide by corporate interests and the politicians they own."

My grand love affair with the writings of Dwight Meredith is not entirely frustrated: I thought it a bit odd that Mr. Bush would bring up 9/11 in a Labor Day speech. My wife, who is far more perceptive than I, responded that it was not surprising at all because 9/11 is Mr. Bush's "little black dress." Elsewhere, Dwight hints that perhaps it doesn't matter if school kids put their hands over their hearts and recite The Pledge if they can still do this. (And thanks to Lean Left and Jeanne D'Arc for providing him the space).

Space Waitress says Tyler Durden didn't get it.

What is past is prologue: Bob Somerby refuses to stop warning you about the sloth and dishonesty of the Stepford Press, and assures us that nothing has changed since the 2000 campaign. He also has a few words to say about Saletan's remarkable belief that attempting to sort out who is lying and who is not shows an uninterest in the truth, and we shouldn't care since, hey, everybody lies sometimes. And, of course, any criticism of Bush is just plain crazy!

The Memory Hole finds it not too easy to use the Freedom of Information Act, and there's something we really need to know: I sent the National Security Agency a Freedom of Information Act request asking for files on Project Bojinka. (Bojinka was the plot by radical Islamists—led by WTC-bomber Ramzi Yousef—to 1) blow up a dozen US passenger jets in mid-flight, 2) assassinate President Clinton and the Pope, and 3) ram hijacked passenger planes into US landmarks, including the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the White House, CIA Headquarters, and the Sears Tower.) The plot was discovered in 1995 when authorities in the Philippines raided Yousef's apartment.

And speaking of things going down the memory hole...
21:12 BST

More good stuff to read

You already know that Off the Kuff is blog central for news about the Texas Dems, right? Meanwhile, he also isn't happy about the latest hold-up on the US no-call list. (We have one here, and I like it a lot.)

Emma on human resources.

All sorts of good stuff by Mary at Pacific Views but just to cite one, check out trying to pick the worst Bush policy.

Moved to words: Leah on the death of Edward Said: So let me credit it now; Edward Said was first, last and always, a humanist. His own rendering of the only viable solution for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict may seem impossibly idealistic, or, as some Israelis would no doubt view it, a clever ruse to destroy the essentially Jewish nature of the Israeli state, but in view of the horrors of the last three years, its fundamental humanism cannot be denied.

Prick of the week from Needles on the Beach (via Digby).
20:53 BST

Art & Entertainment

Photography by Alison Shaw

Click for the slide show, some of those photos are wonderful.

I'm just amazed at the amount of entertainment news in the last 24 hours. Robert Palmer is gone at a mere 54 years old (that link is to his website, which of course wastes your time on unnecessary Flash for straight text, but I thought "Some Guys Have All the Luck" was a cool song), professional amateur George Plimpton bites the dust, and then there is the good news: A new series of Doctor Who is in the offing - by the guy who did Queer as Folk.

Meanwhile...did you know that the music on those classic WKRP episodes has been replaced?
13:08 BST

The Lyin' King

Tresy at Corrente quotes Jack Betty on what it will mean if Bush wins in 2004: You can preside over the most catastrophic failure of intelligence and national defense in history. Can fire no one associated with this fatal chain of blunders and bureaucratic buck-passing. Can oppose an inquest into September 11 for more than a year until pressure from the relatives of those killed on that day becomes politically toxic. Can name Henry Kissinger, that mortician of truth, to head the independent commission you finally accede to. You can start an unnecessary war that kills hundreds of Americans and as many as 7,000 Iraqi civilians—adjusted for the difference in population, the equivalent of 80,000 Americans. Can occupy Iraq without a plan to restore traffic lights, much less order. Can make American soldiers targets in a war of attrition conducted by snipers, assassins, and planters of remote-control bombs—and taunt the murderers of our young men to "bring it on." There's more, read it. And Lambert points to David Corn in The Nation on The Other Lies of George Bush.

Scalzi on Liars: The Bush administration is really the first presidential administration to wholeheartedly embrace the talk radio concept that truth should not get in the way of the larger picture of absolute victory, however that victory may be defined. Other presidential administrations have lied, of course. They all lie. And some lie really, really big -- look at Nixon. But at the very least Nixon and his cronies lied because the alternative was jail time. Members of the Bush administration appear to lie because it doesn't occur to them that they might simply tell the truth. Or to put it another way, they don't appear to affirmatively decide to lie; rather they appear to have to affirmatively decide not to lie.

Everything you need to know about the case for invading Iraq: HogBlog thinks about "new brooms", notes that Andrew Gilligan was accurate after all, and says: So all the intelligence was wrong, and all the dossiers were bollocks, and Britain and the US were led into the invasion of Iraq with a string of fabrications and fuckups. [...] So I guess pretty much all the prominent Bushistas are lying, lying liars, lying lying liar-pantsed lying liarriffic liars. And they lied. It's hard to spin this into anything but a blanket condemnation of the entire run-up to war and everyone involved. The Bush administration systematically deceived the general public into supporting an untimely, poorly-thought-out war on fabricated grounds. Go read it all. (Via Electrolite Sidelights.)

Bonus: Suburban Guerilla quotes Rall on WHY WE HATE BUSH.
12:06 BST

Friday, 26 September 2003

Blog scan

After a day of not being able to post, I was informed last night by numerous pals in America that they couldn't get The Sideshow to load. It seems to be loading from here (on a different ISP), so I'm not sure how that happened. You might want to mail me and let me know (when you see this) whether you've had this problem or not.

Nathan Newman on Paying for the Bullets: This is a bipartisan sickness but Daschle points to the real problem, which is that countries are still trying to force Iraq to pay back loans used by Hussein to buy weapons from foreign countries to kill his own people [...] So the Iraqis get to pay for the bullets used to kill their families many times over. They get to pay back Europe for the weapons Hussein used against them and they get to pay back the US for the weapons used to bomb their families. Also, Nathan disagrees when Atrios criticizes this Salon article about the Iraq occupation, and more on blue states/red states and who gets funding from where and why.

Smythe's World doesn't trust most stories about "Political Correctness" outbreaks, but he thinks he's found something that can't be defended.

MWO wonders if Tom Friedman is waking up with this article, in which Friedman says: But when it comes to the political and economic sacrifices and strategies that are also required to fight this war successfully, they are cowardly wimps. That is why our war on terrorism is so one-dimensional and Pentagon-centric. It's more like a hobby — something we do only until it runs into the Bush re-election agenda... They also link to the Tim Noah article exposing the Draft Hillary movement as Republicans.

Matt Yglesias thinks a roll-back of the Bush tax cuts is necessary to help pay for the war, but dissenters suggest cutting certain programs instead. Matt looks at their un-shopping list and thinks they might just be wrong. He is prepared to argue. "The primary problem facing America today is: A: The schools are bad. B: Rich people don't have enough money." But we are dealing with people who really appear to be kept up nights by the worry that rich people don't have enough money. (Matt also has a pointer to a Gitlin profile of David Brooks.)

Josh Marshall muses on the meaning of Bush's plummeting approval ratings: Credibility of course is unitary. And the erosion has ricocheted from foreign policy to domestic policy and back again in escalating fashion. Suddenly the White House's explanations for why the country has fallen back into half trillion dollar deficits are ringing hollow. I guess he's talking about the press. To anyone who was paying attention, they never rang true.

Testify! muses on Josh Marshall's position on Howard Dean.

Technological breakthrough: Light up your handbag.

Let's face it, trying to be a "conservative" when it makes no sense has driven Andy completely Upminster. An Age Like This finds another wonky Sully statement and says, Andrew Sullivan is one of those cretins who make me vaguely ashamed of being gay. Who would want to be associated in any way with this not over-bright nitwit who doesn't seem to realize that his position is just about as intelligent as, say, Jews for Hitler? Also, the problem of Incurious George.

It's official: Laura Bush likes Harry Potter. (Via Pagan Prattle.)
13:40 BST

Back in the game

Um, yes, well, the ISP had a little FTP problem which made it hard for me to post. Last time I looked it was working again, so let's try to get it back together.

The Liquid List is taking bets on what stories the White House will try to hide each week by releasing them at the end of the Friday news cycle. Every Wednesday at The Liquid List, I'll put out a call out for bets on The Rove Hour. You will use the comments section to enter your guess on the humiliating or outrageous story that the Bush administration or the Republicans will attempt to bury on Friday afternoon. That's when all those lazy journalists are wrapping up the least-read Saturday edition of their papers, before they head out to the Hamptons or Rehoboth Beach or wherever.

Sign me up: Interesting Times wants you to take The Pledge to remember that the goal is to get Bush out, and that Democratic in-fighting on behalf of individual candidates should not distract us from this vital aim. Get with the program, guys!

Best of the Blogs: Was this a speech to the UN or a speech to the American people? Unrepentant for his lies, continuing to blur the distinction between Iraq and terrorism and, oh so confident about those WMDs that have never been found. Using AIDS and the sex-slave trade to soften the emotions of the audience. A bunch of disingenuous blather projected from a fundamentalist Christian perspective.

Slacktivist wants David Horowitz to know that things aren't in the Bible just because evangelical fruitcakes imagine them to be there. In fact, "It would be nice if journalists stopped pretending these people speak for all Christians everywhere." Hell, yes. (Also, a good post on Pilger's recent bit of research on administration statements about Saddam's weapons.)

The Right Christians finds A Nuanced Discussion of Church/State Relations.
01:23 BST

Wednesday, 24 September 2003

Informed on the Superhighway

(I just felt like having a graphic there, so I borrowed one from Lois, who remembered to wish Bruce a happy birthday yesterday, unlike some people you could name.)

Jeanne D'Arc and CalPundit find out that "No Child Left Behind" really stands for "No Public Schools Left At All."

Sara Paretsky: 'For those who wish to dissent: Speech, silence and patriotism' (Via Holzman, who is also talking about illegal aliens.)

Everybody is on Safire's case. Check Josh Marshall out for the longer version, but for the lazy, there's Elton Beard doing the Shorter William Safire: My transcendent hatred of the Clintons having imbued me with preternatural mind-reading powers, I can discern in their support of Wesley Clark's candidacy a Machiavellian scheme to install Hillary in the White House. But even Elton couldn't get it down to just one sentence, so there are bonus points added. (The last Shorter Tom Friedman, on the other hand, is entertainingly succinct.)

Jeff Cooper has a few words to say about these 36 words in Bush's speech to the UN: The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder and refused to account for them when confronted by the world. What Jeff doesn't say is that the regime of Saddam Hussein simultaneously cultivated ties to the US, who cultivated ties right back, while they were also cultivating ties to the Mujahadeen, and while they did not seem to have any problem with Saddam committing mass murder, which they certainly knew about. If these are good reasons to bomb Iraq, aren't they equally good reasons to bomb his co-conspirators who at present occupy the White House?

"I'm eating cookies. In Republican-world, that means I'm protecting the soldiers." That's from the nice little post at Pandagon on how Republicans Are Great On Defense. (Be sure to catch his 22 Attacks post, as well. And he gives a fine example of his new word, "ridiculosity". Ah, hell, it's all good, read from top to bottom.)

Skippy. Hm, I can't paraphrase this and there's really not a single quote to sum it up, and anyway it's one of those things that makes me wanna spit. Bush. History. "napoleonic." Grrrr. (But read the rest of the page, because Skippy makes ya feel better. And has a short but sweet review of Big Lies.)

TBTM Flash movie on black box voting: Voterevolution.
15:44 BST

Cooking the vote

I didn't realize that Mark Crispin Miller has a weblog. Naturally, his permalinks weren't working when I tried it, but he's got a couple of posts up that dovetail with my previous entry. One looks at oddities in the 2000 presidential vote-count in Volusia County:

A remarkable exchange concerning Diebold's voting machines in Volusia County, Florida. On January 17, 2001, Lana Hines, a county elections official sends out an inquiry as to how Al Gore ended up with a vote-count of -16,022. That's NEGATIVE 16,022—which just happens also to have been the total number of votes cast for various independent and third-party candidates who also ran. (It was the largest number of such votes cast in Volusia County's history.)
And one about the owners of Diebold, in correspondence from an excitable reader:
From a friend in South Carolina:

Mark, Follow up research on Wally O'Dell from Diebold. His attempts to isolate his personal political views from the corporations don't fit with the facts. Personal donations to campaigns can be searched at the FEC or through some other websites like Try searching the board and senior executives of Diebold and see if you can find any Democrats. More surprising, there is a concerted pattern of donations to one candidate outside Ohio. Many of Diebold's executives gave money to the North Carolina Senatorial candidate Lauch Faircloth.... on the same day!!!!

An added twist is that Lauch Faircloth has alwasy been openly opposed to allowing all Americans to vote. He is a leader of CNP, the Christian reconstructionists who believe only Christians should be allowed to vote. How can a voting machine company have so many executives line up behind a candidate who is opposed to counting all the votes? It certainly gives you some scope for interesting questions to good old Wally O'Dell!

Oh, my.
12:17 BST

Tuesday, 23 September 2003

Look at that blogger go!

As usual, Atrios has tons of interesting stuff up, such as a link to An open invitation to election fraud in Salon:

Not only is the country's leading touch-screen voting system so badly designed that votes can be easily changed, but its manufacturer is run by a die-hard GOP donor who vowed to deliver his state for Bush next year.

As if the public image of punch-card voting machines had not already been bruised and battered enough, on Sept. 15, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals went for the K.O. Punch-card voting, a three-judge panel of the court said in its ruling halting the California gubernatorial recall election, is an embarrassment to our high-tech times: "Just as the black and white fava bean voting system of revolutionary times was replaced by paper balloting, and the paper ballot replaced by mechanical lever machine, newer technologies have emerged to replace the punch-card, including optical scanning and touch screen voting."

You know, I like the idea of voting in presidential elections with beans. I think everyone should be given beans with the candidates' names on them (with helpful color-coding for each candidate), and put the bean of choice into the Official Ballot Box, and then the unused beans in a leftover box, and if there are any problems later they count all the beans to make sure that the number of beans in the Official Ballot Box matches the appropriate number of discard beans. That would make it a whole lot harder to cheat. (Do you think we could give everyone beans as a poll-watching exercise? Hm, that's a lotta beans....)
But according to Bev Harris, a writer who has spent more than a year investigating the shadowy world of the elections equipment industry, the replacement technologies the court cited may be worse -- much worse -- than the zany punch-card systems it finds so abhorrent. Specifically, Harris' research into Diebold, one of the largest providers of the new touch-screen systems, ought to give elections officials pause about mandating an all-electronic vote.
See? What we need is beans!
Specifically the flaw was that you can get at the central vote-counting database through Microsoft Access. They have the security disabled. And when you get in that way, you are able to overwrite the audit log, which is supposed to log the transactions, and this [audit log] is one of the key things they cite as a security measure when they sell the system.
If they're not going to fix that, every good hacker in the world should be auditing the voting just to make sure another bunch of votes - what was it? 6,000 votes in Volusa County or something? - don't suddenly disappear without an explanation.
There's nothing -- no security in this?

No, in fact in the memo, [Ken Clark, an engineer at Diebold] says specifically that they decided not to put a password on it because it was proving useful. They were using the back door to do end runs around the voting program. And he named two places where they were doing this, Gaston County, N.C., and King County, Wash.

Beans, I tell you!

And here's another curious thing Atrios links:

Odigo says workers were warned of attack

Odigo, the instant messaging service, says that two of its workers received messages two hours before the Twin Towers attack on September 11 predicting the attack would happen, and the company has been cooperating with Israeli and American law enforcement, including the FBI, in trying to find the original sender of the message predicting the attack.

Micha Macover, CEO of the company, said the two workers received the messages and immediately after the terror attack informed the company's management, which immediately contacted the Israeli security services, which brought in the FBI.

Also, Tom Tomorrow with all you need to know about William Safire.
23:47 BST

Excellent news

From David Neiwert at Orcinus, Announcing: "Manifestly Unfit: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush". This promises to be another in-depth series, like his Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis. And he wants you to participate.

At Ruminate This, Lisa English says the docs have finally figured out what's wrong with her son Jesse and that she hopes to return to her keyboard around Friday, but in the meantime the proprietor of Wampum is sitting in and has posted about the NYT article in which Michael Powell shifts "mercurially from peevish to clueless to victimized" as he whines about how people are just cruelly objecting to his machinations without any regard for his tender feelings and he just might want to take his toys and go home to spend more time with his family. I love this bit from the article: "We didn't initiate this as a deregulatory plank of an agenda, which is the way it is portrayed," he said. "Trust me. Every chairman knows you don't want to tinker with the media. It's the third rail." So it was just an accident that he tinkered like hell with it and the changes he wanted fit so neatly with the insane deregulatory agenda. I see.

The Horse! Not a mere flashing red light this time, but a mushroom cloud for the announcement that a new CNN/USA Today poll shows Clark polling ahead of Bush at 49% to 46%, with Kerry also beating Bush, and Dean and Lieberman within the margin of error. (Reading further, I see the wingers are having humor-impairment problems again, complaining that Wesley Clark said something that was not true. Because, of course, it was a joke. Also, check out the major outbursts of racism from Rush, recently; MWO thinks you should contact ESPN and let them know this guy has no place in their line-up. Personally, I agree with the reader who suggests that people mail the NYT when it prints rubbish like this piece of tripe by serial-dissembler Katharine Seelye about Democratic candidates.)
15:01 BST

Early morning linkage


The Proceedings of the Old Bailey London 1674 to 1834, via Sandra.

Our friend Mr. Toast of Two Glasses wants help building a list comparing Clark's and Dean's positions on the issues.

We had no idea that part of our AAA dues were being spent on lobbyists who oppose just about everything having to do with public transportation. - Tom Magliozzi, co-host of Car Talk on NPR. So, what's a driver to do? I dunno, maybe this. (Via The Green[e]house Effect.)
02:30 BST

Monday, 22 September 2003


Bra of the week: I don't actually want one of these (too impractical, even in my most whimsical mood, but I'll keep it in mind for after I win the lottery); however, I thought it looked sexy, and of course it coordinates nicely with the fabulous fruits-of-the-forest Sideshow color scheme. But check out the picture of the full cup version, not because of the bra (which I didn't like as much), but for the interesting decoration the model is wearing.

Escher's "Relativity" in LEGO

A gorgeous picture of the Eagle Nebula, via apod.
14:11 BST

Web crawl

Begging to Differ thinks Lileks has a killer argument against the anti-invasion position on Iraq. Well, he might, if (a) Saddam had really kicked the weapons inspectors out, (b) they'd had any real intelligence beside the rubbish they made up, (c) Saddam had ever tested a nuke or had any delivery systems, (d) Saddam's old bio/chem weapons weren't too old to be any use after five years, (e) invading Iraq hadn't been more likely to make things worse than better (and it has), or at least (f) Saddam had somehow turned out to have WMD after all. It's no good talking about things that were true when Clinton said them in 1998, because a lot of time has passed since then and some of those things could no longer be true. And people who are willing to blather these weird after-the-fact rationalizations for invading a country on only the vaguest information and conjecture are no better than death-penalty advocates who don't think finding good evidence against the accused first is necessary before you give him the needle. You're talking about killing thousands of people, you don't just do it on a coin-toss. As to the bizarre analysis of liberal psychology that was made up for this occasion, that might also hold a little bit more water if Bush really had wiped out Al Qaeda, but he certainly has not. He'd already blown it in Afghanistan before the Iraq invasion started, so there was never any reason to believe he was going to perform miracles in Iraq. Believe me, no one is jealous of his war.

Danny Goldberg grades the candidates on their Teen Spirit.

A letter from a reader at Friday's Bartcop says: How about doing disabled veterans a favor and ask all Democratic presidential hopefuls to promise not to reduce present or future veteran's disability benefits? At first I thought this was a good idea, and then I realized it was a great idea.

At Thursday's Bartcop: Marc Perkel announces today that he is in the process of applying for non-profit status to turn the Church of Reality into a 501c3 tax exempt church. Perkel hopes to have his application approved in the next 120 days.

(I wish everyone would write to Bartcop and MWO and ask them to please permalink their front pages. I don't expect them ever to permalink individual sections, but it would be nice if you could rely on a link to a current item still going to the right page if someone looks for it a few days later.)
13:00 BST

Sunday, 21 September 2003

Some links

Newsweek: How Americans have fooled themselves about the war in Iraq, and why they've had to: FINALLY SHE exploded: "Surely these can't be the only reasons we invaded Iraq!" the woman thundered, half scolding, but also half pleading. "Surely not!"

Ed Weathers: The nation's attorney general is on the ropes and swinging wildly: John Ashcroft is fighting out of his weight class. Compared to your local librarian, our U.S. Attorney General is a pipsqueak, a flyweight. Too right; librarians have been kicking ass on free speech for a long time. Like Emma, for example, who is pretty worried about the Hatriot Act herself.

Revelation: Teresa has updated an earlier post, but read the comments to learn who wrote the stuff on those cereal boxes.

At Buzzlfash, The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus by Al Franken and Don Simpson.

Thom Hartmann: Might Bush's Blank Check for War Bounce If He Deceived Congress?

Joe Conason in The Guardian, The BBC's bullies can dish it out, but they can't take it: To an American, there is much that sounds awfully familiar about Beebwatch - the series launched last week by the Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore to root out "soft left" bias in the BBC. Moore's determination to inflict daily humiliation on the network coincides neatly with efforts by Rupert Murdoch and the Tory opposition to deprive Britain's great broadcasting institution of its licence fee, just as its charter is coming up for renewal.

A Bartcop reader returns to Arrakis in My plan, our plan, THE plan: So if Dubya is Rabban (and the comparison is too scary to ignore), and the Harkonnens are the Bushes and the Atreides are the Clintons, who is Feyd? [...] If we want to solve this riddle, we need to find out who is playing the role of the Baron. When I saw that Monkey Mail post today that said Cheney had urged Clark to run, the bells went off. Is this true? Did Cheney urge him to run? Have you heard anything more about this? If he did, then I'd say we have our fat man. Maybe Cheney's undisclosed location is Geidi Prime.

This is cool, and I'd like to thank whoever did it, too. Talk Left is one of the best and hard-working-est weblogs around and I'd hate to see it die for lack of computing power.

This is an old one but I thought we could use some good news for IRC users.
22:01 BST

War on one Drug

Drug deaths Drug War Rant finds out why government studies of marijuana's medical usefulness always seem to get negative results; here is an interesting quote:

Some of the first patients to smoke Health Canada's government-approved marijuana say it's "disgusting" and want their money back.

"It's totally unsuitable for human consumption," said Jim Wakeford, 58, an AIDS patient in Gibsons, B.C.

DWR says:
The United States government also grows marijuana. It's a monopoly under the direction of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) which has no interest in helping medical marijuana studies. In fact, they tend to insure that any "scientific" studies reflect their point of view (as the recent ecstasy debacle shows). They grow the only pot which can legally be used for research.
At present, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) contracts to Dr. ElSohly at the University of Mississippi to grow marijuana at an outdoor, fenced facility with 24-hour armed guards. The product that is grown is seeded, leafy, low-potency material with stems included. The product is sent to Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina for rolling into standardized cigarettes, usually with about 4% THC
So...marijuana that is too low-quality to work just, um, doesn't work.
01:41 BST

Saturday, 20 September 2003

Scattered brain

Dublin showed signs of being beautiful but I didn't see enough of it to really find out. Which seems a real shame since it is the only time I have ever been to Ireland at all, but there you are. In any case, the City College has one hell of a great debating society, the students were sharp and fast, and of course our side won overwhelmingly.

[Does some quick catch-up reading.]

Okay, Tom "Boy, Am I In Denial!" Friedman is just getting weirder and weirder:

It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.
And why is that? Why, it failed to endorse our war, thereby "making it impossible for the Security Council to put a real ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that might have avoided a war." I guess Bush's own ultimatum wasn't good enough. Charles Dodgson spells it out:
More seriously, Friedman distorts (or more properly, ignores) the actual motives of the French -- they were taking us at our word that the casus belli was Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (not weapons "programs", but actual weapons), and pointing out quite properly that we had not shown convincing evidence of the threat, as it happens, for very good reasons. So, so far, Friedman argues that France has shown itself to be our "enemy" for failing to endorse our lies.

Digby advises the Republicans to loosen their corsets.

Charles Kuffner learns that MoveOn.Org is arm of the Communist Party USA - or so the Texas Republicans claim.

Canon goes mainstream: Scroll to the bottom of this page and have a look at their advert.

Excuse me, I have travel fatigue.
18:26 BST

Friday, 19 September 2003

Avast, me hearties!

The DNC now has a blog, but Sasha Undercover is pissed at them because of a terrible error in their blogroll.

Wampum has heard from Lisa English, whose son is ill and has had to be hospitalized. We have hopes for a speedy recovery - and, of course, for Lisa's return to blogging.

Bush lied.

Billmon looking hard at My Lai massacre cover-up artist Colin Powell in War Crimes.

Scared yet? This from the Guardian, via Eschaton: Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, the Guardian has learned.
09:39 BST


It's now officially International Talk Like A Pirate Day, so don't forget. If you need help, their official site has a handy English-to-Pirate translator.

Demosthenes takes a look at "the bizarre loathing that Paul Krugman inspires in the right" as seen in "analysis" of his interview on CalPundit by right-wingers.

Lenny Bailes, self-confessed "unrepentent Deadhead/closet Incredible Stringband fan", recommends some free music.
00:52 BST

Thursday, 18 September 2003

Mail call

A week ago I quoted Stuart Moore about, among other things, Dick Cheney's corruption. Owen Boswarva wrote to remind me that it's all much worse than it seems:

Of course, Halliburton's depredations are not confined to obvious markets like Iraq.

Today the UK House of Commons Public Accounts Committee released a report criticising the Ministry of Defence over the private finance deal it negotiated with a company called Devonshire Management Limited (DML), for the construction of dock facilities in Plymouth necessary to the upgrade of British nuclear submarines.

The project has produced a cost overrun in excess of £300m. Under the agreed terms this bill will be picked up by the UK taxpayer, without penalty to the contractor DML.

51% of DML is owned by Brown & Root, a division of Halliburton.

'The construction of nuclear submarine facilities at Devonport'
DML - Shareholder Profiles

And, of course, there's still more at
12:54 BST

Cruising speed

Michael Tomasky: Like everyone in that park -- like everyone everywhere -- I knew we had entered a new period of history. But two years on, this new period looks far more like what preceded it than it ought to, and when history eventually gets around to rendering judgments about what opportunities were squandered or missed or contemptuously dismissed, its j'accuse will be directed squarely at the current administration, whose ideological imperatives have trumped practical reality at every turn.

Censored Boondocks.

Thom Hartmann looks at another spooky goal of Cheney's little friends at PNAC: Three years ago, Wolfowitz, Kristol, and their colleagues suggested this is something the Pentagon should be thinking about. Not just germ warfare, but gene warfare.

Buzzflash interview with Paul Krugman: Again, I think it comes back to press coverage. Just this weekend, I was looking at something: There's an enormous scandal right now involving Boeing and a federal contract, which appears to have been overpaid by $4 billion. The Pentagon official who was responsible for the contract has now left and has become a top executive at Boeing. And it's been barely covered in the press –- a couple of stories on inside pages. You compare that with the White House travel office in 1993. There were accusations, later found to be false, that the Clintons had intervened improperly to dismiss a couple of employees in the White House travel office. [...] Right now, I'm trying to understand what a petroleum industry expert is telling me, when he says that some of the market futures suggest that the market is pricing in about a one-in-three chance that unrest in Iraq spreads to Saudi Arabia. And if that happens, of course, then we're talking about a mammoth disaster.

From Project Censored, Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2002-2003

BadAttitudes Journal is on lie watch, finds a classic example of media suck-up, a Muslim woman questioning fundamentalism, silencing teachers, our friends in Saudi Arabia, and AMA lies, and wonders whether Howard Dean is playing the role that Tom Harkin played in '92.


12:02 BST

Wednesday, 17 September 2003

Read America CalPundit, where Kevin Drum is covering a hell of a lot of ground and, not incidentally, has done a fine interview with Paul Krugman that really gets down to the cheese:

The main theme of The Great Unraveling is how much Bush lies. But Reagan lied, Clinton lied, Johnson lied, all presidents lie. What's the difference between them and Bush?

Actually, I miss Reagan. I never thought I'd say that, but....

Reagan lied a little bit, and his policies were often crazy, but they wouldn't do 2 -1 = 4. They'd say, if we have our tax cut we'll have this wonderful supply side thing and the economy will boom and it will pay for itself, which was a crazy theory, but it wasn't a blatant lie about the actual content of the policy.

Bush says, I've got a tax cut that's aimed at working people, ordinary working people, and then you just take a look at it and discover that most of it's coming from elimination of the estate tax and a cut in the top bracket, so it's heavily tilted toward just a handful of people at the top. It's just a flat lie about what the tax cut is.

So this is different, this is really more extreme. We're not talking about disagreements about policy at this point, we're talking about people who insist that things that are flatly not true are true, that black is white, up is down.

And, naturally, the comments (of which there are many) run the range of political commentary from thoughtful to fruity, complete with the usual right-wing nuttiness (perennial favorite: "Social Security is a pyramid scheme"). Only about halfway through them I was stopped cold by this one by someone called Mitch H.:
Greetings from the other side of the echo chamber wall. Dipping in on this side occasionally reminds me why I hang out in the right-wing echo chamber. Namely, I agree with Krugman on a number of economic issues, but I don't like living my intellectual life stewing in a paranoid bog of conspiratorial fury.

Krugman is so convinced that the current environment is so much fouler than 1970; it strikes me that either he doesn't remember 1970 very well, or else he has some strange nostalgic affection for Nixon-era wage and price controls, race riots, rising crime rates, military decay, and the daily prospect of nuclear annihilation.

Personally, I hate deficits, am in favor of reinstating the estate tax, rescinding the tax cuts, dumping steel tariffs and agricultural subsidies, and so on. But I *don't* want to listen to a pack of rabid haters echo my economic opinions back at me like it's five minutes to midnight and the four horsemen are in the stables getting ready.

The trouble with hanging out in the right-wing echo-chamber is that you end up thinking things were as bad in 1970 as Mitch is making it sound. As if a temporary infliction of wage and price controls in any way compared to what Bush has done to our treasury. (It's worth bearing in mind that ordinary taxpayers were not generally hurting because of that brief period of wage/price stasis; in fact, the reason Nixon brought them in was because he knew it would help him in the election, and he was right. It's not as if Americans were losing jobs by the hundreds of thousands as they have been under Bush.) Yes, Nixon did what most Republicans do, which is make things worse (why does no one ever ask why crime tends to rise under Republican administrations?), but Bush outstripped Nixon a long time ago.

Someone called Gordie says:

Not suprised that he sees vastly more lying on the right as he evolves further left.
Of course, Krugman hasn't moved to the left, and therein lies the tragedy: that he is seen by these people as "liberal". Throughout the comments Krugman's attackers go after him for what they don't seem to realize is a (real) conservative answer to Social Security; I have criticisms of it, too, but I at least know that the probem with it is that he's not willing to look at it as a liberal. (Look, folks, raising the retirement age only works if you can ensure that people will remain as healthy, functional, and employable after they are 65 as they were before. In real life, this doesn't usually happen to most folks - and that's especially the case for people who are stuck in low-end physical labor.)

DC Hoo says:

My goal in taxation is to establish a system that gives people the best chance to better themselves. Everyone agrees that taxes are costs that discourage more work, earning and investing. When you have progressive taxation, you place an additional hurdle for someone to cross in climbing the ladder of success.
Who is this "everyone" who agrees that taxes are only costs that discourage more work, earning and investing? This is an extremely narrow understanding of how taxes operate and what can be done with them. In fact, taxes sometimes encourage and facilitate these things rather than hindering them. Nor can it honestly be said that progressive taxation necessarily puts much of hurdle in the way of "climbing the ladder of success" - and certainly the benefits of progressive taxation do a great deal more to clear your path upward. (Quite frankly, if a little bit of progressive taxation is all that stops you from getting up that ladder, you'd be back down to a lower rung as soon as the next economic fluctuation comes along, anyway.) And, as other posters observe, comparative studies show upward income mobility in the US to be no better - and perhaps lower - than it is in the more highly-regulated and progressively-taxed western European countries.

In a later comment, DC Hoo says:

Everytime someone's marginal tax rate increases their incentive to work an extra or save more declines. Someone could decide that 31% isn't high enough to stop working while someone else could decide that 15% was too high. So even changing from the 10-15% bracket produces negative incentives. That's the problem with progressive taxation.
Is it? We're talking about top marginal rates - money made by people who won't even notice if it's gone. They don't need it to live, and they don't even need it to live large. They may be working to be able to say they make even more money, but they aren't working for the money itself. And, remember, they kept working even when the top marginal rate was 90%. So, no, this isn't even remotely believable; no one stops working just because their top marginal rate is higher. They just kvetch more about what they regard as a point of principle.

(One poster also provided a link to an NPR interview with Paul Krugman.)

Elsewhere at CalPundit, Kevin also provides a map of which states pay in more than they get out of the Fed, and vice versa, with a discussion of the free-loader states, and also a reminder of what we mean when we talk about Bush lies. Oh, and here's another one.
13:17 BST

Blogging is light because...

...there's just a helluva lot on the table this week, between doctors and FAC and extra work and other stuff, so I'm losing a lot of keyboard time. Meanwhile, go read Kathryn Cramer on What Republican Strategists Want the Democratic Faithful to Know (and, of course, the Shorter David Brooks at BusyBusyBusy). And Tapped points to a Sean Wilentz piece on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision halting the California recall based on the Supreme Court's reasoning in Bush v. Gore (and let's see if the Supremes reverse it). And LiberalOasis says "The Bushies are learning that they can't say whatever they feel like anymore." And Kos has the dope on who recent polls show as the real Democratic front-runner. And Pandagon taking Saletan apart for pretending that the Democrats are worse than the Republicans. See, there's plenty to read.
12:12 BST

Tuesday, 16 September 2003

From the annals of the Bush Crime Family

When I came back yesterday I had a brief moment to check Atrios before having to do something else and noticed the horrifying news that L. Jean Lewis had been appointed as chief of staff in "the traditionally nonpartisan Defense Department’s inspector general office." I didn't have to read further to know why Atrios was using extreme language (and why MWO has the red light flashing). Even more than Jeff Gerth, Lewis is the woman who created the phony Whitewater scandal. Lewis abused her position at the Resolution Trust Corporation to illegally push the Whitewater clean-up forward in hopes of affecting the 1992 presidential election. She had no qualifications for the RTC job and her current resume now includes this partisan corruption, and then:

At the time Starr took over the independent counsel's job in August 1994, Lewis was also being investigated by the RTC's inspector general for the above infractions as well as several others -- including illegal leaks of confidential financial records to the press and using her government office to market a line of "Presidential BITCH" T-Shirts and coffee mugs mocking the first lady. One of Starr's first actions as independent counsel was to assume control of that investigation. Nothing has been heard from the independent counsel's office regarding L. Jean Lewis since that day. Perhaps it is time for the bulldog scandal hunters in the press corps to ask Starr why that is.
Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest says:
Appointing an operative like this to the job of investigating corruption in the awarding of Defense contracts can ONLY mean one thing: THEY ARE STEALING MONEY. The Party knows it is operating with impunity now, and is becoming more overt and blatant with its corrupt practices. Just two more examples: The Party appoints CONVICTED FELONS John Poindexter and Elliott Abrams to key positions.

How much of the Defense budget is being funneled straight into the pockets of the Bush Crime Family? (Haliburton, Carlyle Group, etc.) How much is being funneled into The Party. (Remember, Bush is raising $170 million to campaign during the PRIMARIES - even though he has NO OPPOSITION.)

Here is the action question -- What are you doing about this? Are you telling people? Are you writing to people and letting them know they can get news at websites like BuzzFlash and Seeing the Forest? Are you registering people to vote? Have you committed to bring at least one new voter to the polls?

Those of you who've already read Conason, Lyons, and Toobin on the subject already know the woman's infamous history. Those who don't can be grateful that Atrios, David Neiwert and MWO have dug up the background so you don't have to. Go read it now, and then take Dave's suggestions to heart.
10:42 BST

Big stuff

Ampersand looks at some of the problems with the defense of copyright that isn't a defense at all, and the libertarian error of believing that there can be any symmetry between aspiring artists and record companies in making contracts.

Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler comes back from his holiday and addresses a certain little subject, all too briefly: A Style story Aug. 8 by Ann Gerhart about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Kennedys referred to the "grave disarray of the Democrat Party." A slew of readers sent incensed messages pointing out that the correct name is Democratic Party. The Post chose not to run a correction; a mistake, in my view, compounding the initial mistake. The construction used in the story is viewed by some as a pejorative used by some Republicans, and letting it stand gives ammunition to those who say they see bias in the paper. I'm pleased to know that "a slew" of readers did indeed complain, but I'm inclined to write to him and say this ain't good enough.

Electrolite notices an annoying headline.

Nathan Newman is having a little tiff with Tapped on the subject of unions. Tapped still doesn't appear to get that unions serve you in your job even if you aren't in a union; where unions are strongest, so are state and local worker protections for everyone. Also, a bit of good news in Congress.

You should be reading Ruminate This anyway, but just in case you were wondering how to phone the free Congressional switchboard to make your views known, don't forget that Lisa now has the number (1-800-839-5276) at the top of her page.

Free Tommy Chong.
9:56 BST

Monday, 15 September 2003

Book nook

I think I've mentioned before that perhaps the most important observation in the 1990 Home Office report on pornography was that, for all that people claimed to know just how men are affected by seeing sexual material, no one had ever done any studies on how men use porn or what they think about it. This was such an obvious gap that, of course, lots of people then did studies on it, right? Um, no. And when David Loftus decided it was something that ought to be done, he could find no funders for the project. So he did it on the cheap, with all the shortcomings that can be expected from an out-of-pocket project of this nature - but even so, Watching Sex is a good start.
17:32 BST


Eyeball news: Everyone is ecstatic with how much the vision in my right eye has improved since the op, and I have been discharged. The end.

Insanity watch: The Horse has found the "Most Dishonest Review of Joe Conason's 'Big Lies' to Date", which seems to find moral equivalence between Conason and Osama. At the other end of the spectrum, there are signs of sanity as Bush's poll numbers sink even more.

The Village Voice offers a A Post–9-11 Reality Check.

Josh Marshall talks about how the moderate Republicans aren't staying behind Bush on the elimination of overtime, and how this is likely a signal of his political weaknesses in other areas, too.
17:17 BST

Sunday, 14 September 2003


Don't assume that policy proposals make sense in terms of their stated goals. Do some homework to discover the real goals. Don't assume that the usual rules of politics apply. Expect a revolutionary power to respond to criticism by attacking. Don't think that there's a limit to a revolutionary power's objectives.

01:36 BST

Out and about

Dr. Plokta led me astray: He invited us to join him in a drink for his 40th birthday at a place that serves cocktails named after the Seven Deadly Sins. I asked what he was drinking and he said, "Envy." "I want one," I said. Later I had Sloth. The former tasted like an Andes chocolate mint but there was too much booze in it for my taste. Sloth was milder and tasted like, well, a bunch of chocolate and cream, although it also contained Bacardi. I don't really drink much so I was a bit stumbly on the way home. Mike, who also doesn't drink much, had already had five different sins, so I bet he was even stumblier.

Al Franken wonders just how religious Bush really is: And we tracked down the transcript and Bush was totally defensive and it seemed to me from the transcript that he really didn't read the Bible every day. He just said he did –- which is, like, a very weird thing to lie about.

NME invites you to watch the video of Johnny Cash doing Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" here.

This obituary for John Ritter doesn't mention it, but of course he put on a great performance as Ted the Robot in Buffy.

I see Gary Farber is posting again after an absence of more than a month. Hasn't come to his senses yet, either.

Scoobie Davis links another fun-filled Jack Chick tract, and while you're there you might want to read Scoobie's reaction to Bill O'Reilly's complaint about "smear culture".

Corante on intellectual property and the culture wars, via Noosphere Blues.

I learn from Demagogue that Alabama Governor Bob Riley has his own Ten Commandments, in the form of a plaque. The Birmingham News says, "The state Historical Commission installed the panel display in the old Supreme Court library room in the Capitol. Riley said it is similar to displays in the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol and it has the blessing of Attorney General Bill Pryor." Not good enough for the ever-popular Roy Moore, who said: "To put things around the Ten Commandments and secularize it is to deny the greatness of God." (Check out the story on Timothy Lynch's Ashcroft article, too.)

Someone please help Elayne with this. It's rendering her page a real pain in the tail to read.
1:06 BST

Saturday, 13 September 2003

I did not expect to feel so sad

Click for Johnny Cash interview and other stuff

(Via Liquid List - where you should read this, too.)
13:42 BST

Worth your time

You've really got to read this Paul Krugman article: I don't use the word ''crusade'' lightly. The advocates of tax cuts are relentless, even fanatical. An indication of the movement's fervor -- and of its political power -- came during the Iraq war. War is expensive and is almost always accompanied by tax increases. But not in 2003. ''Nothing is more important in the face of a war,'' declared Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, ''than cutting taxes.'' And sure enough, taxes were cut, not just in a time of war but also in the face of record budget deficits. Nor will it be easy to reverse those tax cuts: the tax-cut movement has convinced many Americans -- like Tinsley -- that everybody still pays far too much in taxes.

Ken MacLeod with a reminder that the US still can't seem to kick the Mujahadeen habit: Apart from the Chechen rebels (not classified as a terrorist organisation as late as 2001, and currently holed up in the former Soviet and now US sock-puppet state of Georgia) right now the US has a cosy relationship with a gang of anti-Iranian muj terrorists in the north of Iraq, and with another gang of pro-Iranian muj terrorists in the south (where, according to Riverbend, they've been given the job of guarding the border with Iran).

Moral equivalence watch: Matt Singer is accused of partisanship: Tom Delay is, in my mind, one of the most offensive figures in the history of Washington politics. When I raised that with several Republicans on my campus, their response was to say, "Well, what about Daschle then?"
13:01 BST

Friday, 12 September 2003

The Great American Postcard

Did you ever have a dream like this?

16:11 BST

Losing America

Speaking of all the important things our government needs to do in order to protect us, it appears they are changing the Oath of Allegiance that naturalized citizens recite. Here it is, as explained by David Scott Marley at Scratchings:

The spooky part is that the line
... I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic ...
is being altered to
Where and if lawfully required, I further commit myself to defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic ...
Huh? Why the qualifier? Just why does our Department of Homeland Security want to put limits on the defense of our Constitution?

Okay, dumb question.

My god, the last thing they want anyone to do is support the Constitution. (Via Electrolite sidelights.)
13:24 BST

It's the morning after in America

Josh Marshall:

The truth is that we do need other countries' help. But it's only the president's folly which has put us in the position of needing to beg.
But in this era of responsibility:
It's everyone's fault but theirs. 'The terrorists', domestic enemies, cultural declension, the French, perhaps tomorrow the decline of reading, the end of corporal punishment in the schools, permissive parenting, bad posture, rock 'n roll, space aliens. The administration is choking on its own lies and evasions. And we have to bail them out because the ship of state is our ship.
"I guess insulting much of the world and then asking for help wasn't such a great idea," says Angry Bear, along with another list of things gone wrong. It's enough to make you wonder if David Icke doesn't have a point after all.

I want the old future back, 'cause this one bites.
12:48 BST

In Ashcroft's America

As you may recall, our Attorney General of Integrity, in order to keep us safe from terrorism, has insisted on persecuting people who are simply not to his taste. Peace Tree Farm recaps:

  • Dubya went to Columbia SC for a speech on October 24, 2002.
  • Amongst the crowd of Bush supporters assembed near the site of the speech at the local airport was longtime peace advocate [Brett] Bursey.
  • When Bursey held up his "No War for Oil" sign prior to the event, he was arrested by local authorities for trespassing.
  • Those charges were soon dropped, but in the late spring of 2003, on the insistence of the Attorney General himself, South Carolina federal prosecutor Strom Thurmond Jr. indicted Bursey under an obscure statute having to do with entering a restricted area near the president.
  • This prosecutorial adventure drew attention even in the halls of Congress, prompting Barney Frank and 10 other House members to write a letter of protest and consternation to Herr Ashcroft.
  • The federal magistrate in South Carolina, in ordering a continuance to obtain further discovery, also denied Bursey a jury trial.
The new news is that the judge in the case is insisting that the prosecution provide any information about security arrangements that might be useful in the preparation of the defense case. The prosecution pretends it has no information that could be useful to the defense. The judge came as close to laughing this claim out of court as decorum permits.

In between being outraged at yet another insult to our Constitution, I wonder why the whole of Congress has not yet risen up against this creep's incredible propensity for wasting our resources on things that, even seen in the best light, are trivia. People who were known associates of Al Qaeda were flown out of the country without being questioned as soon as the flight ban was lifted, but the courts should be concerning themselves with people who hold up peace signs. Not to mention those people dying of disease who smoke a bit of pot to ease their pain. Oh, yeah, and hookers, let's not forget them. I mean, whoa, they are a real threat to security, eh? But not as big a threat as Ashcroft is.
12:00 BST


Two years after, Mark Fiore remembers.

Atrios remembers common sense: Two years later, I'm really fed up with the idea that asking questions about 9/11 is being a 'conspiracy theorist.' There is a conspiracy out there - a conspiracy to not let people find out just what the hell happened and why. The degree to which the conservatarians get uncomfortable when things are brought up makes it clear they know there's something stinky going on.

Alan remembers Rule 11 and Edward Teller.

Tim remembers Australia (with some great photos).

Mr. Happy remembers a few years of peace.

Brian Linse remembers his friend, and so does Warren's bandmate Dave Barry.
03:36 BST

Thursday, 11 September 2003

Corporate Scum and sweetheart deals

Greg Palast v. Big Pharma

This came to Love graphically in 1997 when Maude Jones, a 30-year-old London woman, called him begging help to obtain Taxol. The drug could have cured her breast cancer, but her NHS region did not prescribe it because of its stratospheric cost.

There is no patent on Taxol. The U.S. government discovered it. But Bristol-Myers, because it performed minor work calculating dosage levels, holds the intellectual property rights on dose-related data, even though the data was originally collected by government. Even without a patent, Britain's data protection laws give Bristol-Myers lock-up control on Taxol in the UK for ten years.

Bristol-Myers takes no chances with its cancer monopoly. Taxol comes from the yew tree. While Western drug companies have long argued that rainforest plants are theirs for the taking without paying royalties, Bristol-Myers obtained from Congress the exclusive right to harvest yew trees on U.S. government lands, about the only place it grows on the planet. For these public assets, B-M paid nothing.

But Maude Jones paid. Ultimately, the company was shamed into offering her the medicine for free -- if she moved to America. However, doctors concluded the offer was probably too late. As her family already faced bankruptcy, Maude (not her real name) phoned Love to say she had chosen to die.

From her death, Love hoped South Africans, Americans and Europeans would discover, "a helpful solidarity." In AIDS and breast cancer, the stricken North and South share a horrific commonality as the new landless peasantry in the apartheid of intellectual property rights.

This is what the pharmaceutical houses are really talking about when they whine about the huge costs of research and development for new drugs that force them to charge such high prices. You've already paid for those drugs with your taxes, and they are made from your property, but by some magic they own the right to let you die.
17:31 BST

Some stuff

Via Pligget

Time for your moment of paranoia. (And more questions for the Hutton inquiry.)

The Agonist on The Impeachment Letter.

Sullywatch finds some Republicans for Dean.

Project for the OLD American Century.

Cartoon: The Translator's Dilemma.
14:24 BST

Wednesday, 10 September 2003

History repeats

At Newsarama, Stuart Moore with a history lesson viewed through the lens of Brought to Light and Chaykin's American Flagg!:

The Return of El Octopo

Americans didn't pay much attention to politics in the '90s, and we're all paying for it now. (I'm as guilty as the next idiot.) It really is true: If you don't remember history, it comes back to bite you -- hard.

Comics from the '80s might not seem like the best place to start for historical perspective, but indulge me for a minute. In our last column, we discussed Howard Chaykin's ground-breaking American Flagg! series, which combined an innovative home-base setting -- the Chicago "PlexMall" living/working/shopping quarters -- with an international political backdrop.

The second Flagg! storyline took Reuben Flagg to Brazil where, in one bit of casual satire, he passed a street sign labelled "United Fruit Avenue." In issue #11, a reader wrote in to complain about Chaykin's perceived homophobia, and cited the sign (calling it "United Fruit Boulevard") as an example. Editor Mike Gold replied:

"I have a policy of not explaining jokes: no sophisticated gag in any of our books is likely to be understood by our entire readership. But the point is, you missed the point entirely with 'United Fruit Boulevard.'"
Allen Dulles, United Fruit trustee and CIA head. The twisting of facts to make Arbenz's Guatemala seem closely allied to the Soviet Union. The rapid invasion of a small country. The use of American troops to pursue a private company's agenda. Huge amounts of American money pouring into the small country post-invasion.

Is any of this sounding familiar yet?
There's no easy way out of Iraq, now. If we pull our troops out, we condemn the country to anarchy, civil war, and a continued existence as the haven for anti-American terrorists -- a situation we ourselves have created with our arrogance and our uninvited invasion. If we stay, we're a constant occupying presence for the Iraqis to hate, and the terrorists to stage attacks against.

But none of that matters to United Fruit -- I mean, to Halliburton. They get the lucrative contracts and, eventually, control of the oil flow, either way. Regardless of what kind of corrupt, anticompetitive process got them those contracts in the first place. Regardless, even, of whether they actually do the jobs they're contracted for, and whether our exhausted, relief-starved soldiers get food and water.

If it doesn't matter to Halliburton, it doesn't matter to Dick Cheney. The American media are always careful to note that Cheney stepped down as Halliburton's chief executive when he decided to run for Vice-President. But his tax returns show that he still receives "deferred compensation" from them -- between $100,000 and $1 million per year. In my book, that's an employee, and a pretty highly placed one at that.

And if it doesn't matter to Dick Cheney, it doesn't matter to George W. Bush.

Make no mistake: this is big corporations using the government to fight their wars. It's an administration filling its friends' pockets and strutting arrogantly around the globe, while ruining our nation's economy. It's legalized graft; it's blood spilled to make the richest few even richer. It's war profiteering.

Moore ends with a call to arms for more politically-oriented entertainment, and says comics are the perfect medium for it:
So let's make some noise.

'Cause I don't know about you, but I don't want the Iraqi people living in United Fruit's Guatemala. And I sure as hell don't want to live in Dick Cheney's private PlexMall.

I'd classify this piece as Must Read, so go do it. You need to know.
20:52 BST

Things to read

From Drug War Rant, more on police corruption in the drug war, prosecutorial abuse, and this:
Sorry, we didn't mean to include ourselves. Officials in Colfax, Illinois voted to drug test all city employees. When they realized that would include the board members, they voted to exempt themselves. What few consider is that, except in safety critical occupations, drug testing is ineffective, often counter-productive, and insulting. And drug testing schemes do not test for workplace impairment. If I was a Colfax city employee, I would deliver my clean urine sample to each of the board members individually, along with my resignation.

The introduction to an interview with Jello Biafra reminds us of his political career: A prankster, he ran against Diane Feinstein for mayor of San Francisco in 1979 on a platform that included banning cars from city limits, making police run for reelection in the neighborhoods they patrolled, and establishing a "Board of Bribery" in an attempt to set standard public rates. He came in fourth out of ten. In 2000, Biafra was drafted for the Green Party Presidential primary and chose Mumia Abu-Jamal as his running mate. He ended up encouraging supporters to vote for Nader, and he got the concept of a "maximum wage" debated on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. He says his mission is to help "bring the spirit of punk rock and roll into the Greens--make the party rock."
18:42 BST

Bush bites man

Best of the Blogs has a lot of fascinating stuff up there, like this:

Shrub Bush looked like a man who just woke up with a bad hangover in a trailer park outside Gopher Poop, Arizona to find himself married to a one-legged hooker named Irma with eight kids, a mangy German Shepherd and a trailer mortgage. How in God's name did things get this bad, his beady little eyes seem to be saying? Cheney said he was fixing me up with a "pushover" but I should have paid more attention. And it was definitely a mistake to let Rummy pick up the check; everybody knows you don't get much for ten bucks these days.

It's kind of sad in a way to see a man who has spent his entire life as a pampered underachiever suddenly realize that he has big, big grownup problems of his own making that no one can fix for him. For someone who is accustomed to playing cards with people who deliberately let him win, this will not be easy. Picking up after himself has never been Shrub's best thing.

But, there our hero was last night, all super-serious, the smirk and swagger conspicuously missing, admitting that everything, every single word, every tiny little syllable he has said so far on the subject of Iraq has either been wrong or an outright lie.

They also found out who really planned 9/11.

And this:

Conservatives who were thrilled by the New York Times decision to make David Brooks, senior editor of The Weekly Standard, a regular Tuesday columnist, opposite Paul Krugman, may be a little less excited after reading his inaugural column. He writes about the "infuriating" way the Bush administration changes it mind without ever admitting it.
And they found an editorial at the NYT discussing Presidential Character - or, in George Bush's case, a lack thereof. The Times takes him apart pretty good, but they are still pulling their punches and refusing to face the obvious:
It is useful at times like this to look back on the road that brought a president into trouble and try to divide bad luck from bad guesses, and both from the wrong turns that stem from the innate nature of the presidency itself. In the case of Iraq, there is a little of each. Early in his term, Mr. Bush was stuck with trouble that was not of his making, including both the terrorist attack and the sinking economy. His judgment about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq appears to have been wrong — and, worse, hyped. But over all, it was a bad guess that was shared by intelligence experts from the Clinton administration and many allies.
Excuse me? A bad guess or bad luck?

This is bloody war we're talking about here, you don't just guess whether it's a good idea!

Sure, a lot of people might have thought Saddam had WMD - but that's what the weapons inspections were for. And anyway, by the time Bush actually launched the invasion, some of us had had time to think about it and realized that he couldn't have nukes (or we'd already know), and if he'd had chemical or biological weapons, they were past their sell-by date. Add that to the fact that you have to invent evidence to make the damn thing sound plausible, plus the fact that no one else really wants to have anything to do with it, and you don't need to guess; you already know invading is a bad idea.

And who on earth needs to "guess" whether, if we invade Iraq and take it over, the Iraqis will thank us? Who needs to guess whether they wanted us to take over their oil? Who needs to guess whether they would be singing our praises if we went in there, wrecked their infrastructure, and slashed their salaries?

Who knows, maybe BushCo really believed our victims would welcome us with open arms, but that would only be testimony to their incredible stupidity. Meanwhile, they couldn't even agree among themselves why we were invading, and they still won't own up to why they actually did it.

You certainly can't call it "bad luck" that Saddam didn't actually have a stronger army and an arsenal that could cream Israel in 45 minutes, either. Bush was willing to risk the lives of thousands, maybe millions of people, on, um, a guess and a coin-toss? And that's okay? Thousands of people have been killed and many more horrifically wounded in a war that never had to happen. I'm sorry, this can't just be dismissed as "a bad guess." (Oh, and nice try about 9/11, but you're in denial if you think Bush's security policies didn't make it a whole lot more likely than it was under his predecessor.)
17:17 BST

Great lines

From the Democratic debate:

Sharpton on Bush not finding Osama: "This guy has out more videos than a rock star, but George Bush's intelligence agencies can't find him."

Not Geniuses paraphrasing:

Moderator: Governor Dean, there is some concern that due to Vermont's ethnic make-up, you won't be able to understand concerns of minorities, particularly black people.

Dean: If the percentage of minorities in ones state predicts how well they connect with minorities, Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King.

Unfortunately, we still had more of Lieberman bashing Dean (who rose to the occasion, I'm pleased to say) and various bits of infighting, but everyone tore a piece out of Bush, even Lieberman. And it was on Fox!
15:29 BST

Liberal media watch

Atrios, having a tiff with Tapped about how the media treats "racial identity", notes that, "Salon is the only media outlet I've seen which has dared to address the racial politics of the Texas redistrcting shenanigans head on, while MEChA is now a household word. There's something wrong here." Atrios is absolutely on the right side of this one, folks.

(And speaking of Salon, Why the N.Y. Times ruins Bush's breakfast. It's Krugman, of course.)
12:56 BST

Tuesday, 09 September 2003


Nigel Richardson admits he was snowed by anti-Michael Moore smears, but he's all better now. He also answers the question of whether Moore is the left's equivalent to Ann Coulter: Moore gets angry because kids get shot, Coulter gets angry because liberals get to write for newspapers. Yeah, they're really both as bad as each other....

Teresa Nielsen Hayden puts it bluntly: I'm not going to call you a sucker for voting for him. I'm telling you that he thinks you're a sucker. That's when he thinks about you at all, which isn't often.
16:01 BST


Zell Miller has written a book, which appears to be about how the Democratic Party is too liberal. He says:

Through an analysis of the campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Mr. Miller questions whether the Democratic Party can any longer field a serious presidential challenge.
And Roger Ailes (the good one) says:
Hey, Zell -- Who won the last three Presidential elections?
Miller is another one of these jerks who thinks "the Heartland" is in a different country from the Democrats. Think again, Zell.
15:10 BST

Still got the music

Blogcritics rounding up for one really great lyricist, composer, and performer.

13:18 BST

Republican taxes

Jerome Doolittle discovers what happens when a Republican born-again Christian actually tries to practice some genuine Christianity: the rest of his party treats him like a bad smell, with the result that voters won't support him either:

Here's the wonderful story of an Alabama tax-law professor whose master's thesis at a fundamentalist divinity school forced the state's politicians to face up to that question so seldom heard in God's Country:

What Would Jesus Tax?

Read it first, and then turn to this article in yesterday's New York Times for Alabama's dispiriting answer: Leave the moneychangers in the temple, and throw Jesus out.

The Republicans are supposedly "against taxes", but they just don't want to support this tax cut:
As he campaigns to change the state tax system which now requires a family of four to pay taxes once its income reaches $4,600 — the lowest threshold of any state — Governor Riley has also turned to religion.

"According to our Christian ethics, we're supposed to love God, love each other and help take care of the poor," said Mr. Riley, a born-again Baptist. "It is immoral to charge somebody making $5,000 an income tax."

The story contains several quotes from Republicans about why they won't back Riley's tax cut.

Now, if I were a Democratic strategist, I might look upon this little dust-up as a gift from the Lord God Almighty himself. Just think what kind of a message it would send if Democrats highlighted this incident and threw their support behind this guy's plan. Why, we would not only be telling the electorate what the Republicans as a party are really up to, but we'd be looking so non-partisan we'd be saints. Sure, it makes one Republican look good (and no doubt would help him at the ballot box), but if it's played right it can seriously hurt other Republicans and, not incidentally, get rid of an indefensible tax burden on low-earning families.
12:25 BST

Seen and heard

News: "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday opposition to the U.S. President was encouraging Washington's enemies and hindering his 'war against terrorism'." Atrios points to a good post by Arthur Silber on the subject. (Hm, I just noticed that the story called it his war against terrorism. And, come to think of it, they put "war against terrorism" in quotes.) (Patrick nudges me and says, "I've just blogged Jim Henley.")

September 11

At Salon: "A 9/11 widow reviews last night's Showtime film about President Bush's actions on and after that fateful morning."

Michael Swanwick: Warren Zevon was dying, and everybody in the werewolf community was pretty broken up about it. I know because my paper sent me out to get their reaction to the news. (Via Electrolite sidelights.)

I got mail from someone who disputes my statement that what the 40-hour work-week replaced was an 84-hour week. He's wrong. The people who fought to bring hours down were working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. Like, for example, Pennsylvania steel-mill workers. Only an idiot would welcome a return to those days.

And, finally, obscene origami (via Epicycle).
04:35 BST

Monday, 08 September 2003


The fabulous MadKane, star of page and screen, says: Karl Rove Headache Alert: Andrew Sullivan seems to have lost confidence in Bush, and he's not alone. Psychologist Oliver James analyses the behavior of our Misleader. A Bush temper tantrum gets a bit of TV air. (And another cursor toy.)

At Electrolite, Patrick expresses his disgust with Bush's contemptuous treatment of New York and cheers the junior Senator from his state for standing up. On his sidebar, there's Good God, what a foul suckup Senator Joseph Biden is and Discourage political barratry by naming names, the latter being a plan to publicly shame the lawyers who took up Fox's suit against Al Franken. I'm in! Patrick also mailed me to say that Ananova fixed the page linked below. Yes, I know why it happened, but it shouldn't have; it wasn't even true.
21:05 BST

His ride's here

I almost missed this item thanks to the annoying headline REM songwriter dies of cancer. You'd never guess that, to some of us, he was - is - a star in his own right.

But yeah, when I hear it, "Mohammed's Radio" really does make me wanna rock 'n' roll all night long.

Update: Here's a better story from the NYT: Warren Zevon, Singer-Songwriter, Dies at 56
12:32 BST

What's goin' on

I am just utterly bummed out that after one year of producing one of the weblogs I admire most, Dwight Meredith has announced that he's not going to continue doing P.L.A. Which makes me doubly glad that I decided to do a single-page archive of his Just for the Record posts. But if this is all you have seen of his work, don't stop there - now you have a chance to catch up with his whole year of blogging if you didn't see it before. Dwight's work has been thoughtful and illuminating. His smart and well-tempered contribution to the discourse will be much missed.

If you want to see just how good the evidence against Tony Blair is, Calpundit found an index by subject to the Hutton inquiry transcripts at the Guardian.

Almost everyone on Woodward & Bernstein: My colleague and I sat down with Carl to see if he was going to be too stuffy to work at the company. I was 25. We asked him point blank, "Did you see the [satirical Watergate] movie Dick?" He said, "I thought it was pretty funny." The fact that Carl watched something that was making fun of him and still enjoyed it was a good sign. - Justin Dangel, founder of And: In some respects, Woodward is pure infantry. Carl is pure Air Force. If Bob went into medicine, he would be a coroner. - Richard Cohen.

Whoa! Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003. "I hereby declare that we can take whatever we want." (Via Bartcop.)

Talk Left found a good article on how the drug war contributes to police corruption. The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

Free music.
12:13 BST

Sunday, 07 September 2003

Places to go

Fred Henning at Open Source Politics has rewritten Pastor Niemoller's warning to suit our times. When they came for the Trade Unionists, I said "well, if they refuse to modernize, they're going to get marginalized. Business is business."

StoutDem links to an article in New Scientist about those smallpox vaccinations that nobody wants - especially in the medical profession.

At, John Dean says Mr. Undisclosed Location committed a crime in Cheney's Cover-Up. Also at TomPaine, a piece that says the DLC types are wrong to recoil from the passion of Al Franken and Howard Dean. The only thing wrong with it is the inclusion of Al Gore among the passionless; this caricature may be popular, but not among those who've actually seen some of the many passionate speeches he has given.

Tapped evaluates Bush's "NEW" plan: Perhaps the most notable thing about this new plan is that it's not new at all. Rather, it's simply a laundry list of administration proposals that have not yet gotten through Congress. Many of its components, in fact, were first put forward years ago. Thus continues the pattern of this administration viewing new events as opportunities to repackage old priorities -- rather than opportunities to devise actual solutions to the problems.

David Horsey does The Ten Commandments.
20:49 BST

Today's headlines

Former environment minister Michael Meacher says This war on terrorism is bogus, and believes it was unlikely that, after 11 different countries' intelligence services warned the US of the threat of terrorist attack in 2001, they were not aware of what was coming. Meacher suggests that the failure to prepare for - and try to prevent - the 9/11 attack was part of a deliberate effort to exploit tragedy in order to enact their agenda. The US government was, of course, swift to dismiss the charges.

Amy Goodman talks to Bev Harris, asking, Will Bush Backers Manipulate Votes to Deliver GW Another Election? The file, she claims, proves that Diebold has the ability to keep track of election results as they come in. More concerning she says technology exists that would allow Diebold to alter election results. Diebold has long claimed it does not track votes on Election Day but Harris said this file of election data from San Luis Obispo County, California shows otherwise. "It is impossible for this file to have existed if there wasn't some sort of illicit electronic communication going on for remote access," Harris said.

Unpopular "president": Zogby now says Bush's approval rating is down to 45%. His re-elect numbers are down to only 40%, with 52% saying it's time for someone new.

For a long time Snopes has been smearing Michael Moore over the claim that the bin Laden family was allowed to use a privately-chartered plane to collect their members while the flight ban was still in effect, and that these people were flown out of the country before being questioned. Now that the media has acknowledged this to be true, Snopes has changed both the claim and the interpretation. Shock & Awe is all over it (and do read the comments). After Atrios noted that Snopes owes Moore an apology, that apology has, in fact, been delivered. However, the current version still says the crucial point is that the bin Ladens were not flown out of the country until the ban had been lifted, rather than the more startling fact that they were allowed to fly during the ban and allowed to leave the country before being questioned.

Previously Banned Militia Patrols Iraqi Holy City - With U.S. Acceptance In a major - if temporary - policy shift, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, said the armed Iraqis have the blessing of the American occupation force.
11:21 BST

Wesley Clark comes out as liberal

Transcription of interview with Clark by Bill Maher:

Maher: OK. I'm just wondering, of all the people who have the credentials to say "liberal" is not a bad word, I'm wondering if I could get you to say that.

Clark: Well, I'll say it right now.

Maher: Good for you!

Clark: We live in a liberal democracy. That's what we created in this country. It's in our constitution! We should be very clear on this... this country was founded on the principles of the enlightenment. It was the idea that people could talk, have reasonable dialogue and discuss the issues. It wasn't founded on the idea that someone would get struck by a divine inspiration and know everything, right from wrong. People who founded this country had religion, they had strong beliefs, but they believed in reason, and dialogue, and civil discourse. We can't lose that in this country. We've got to get it back.

Maher: Thank you. (audience applause)

Clark: Can I follow up on that?

Maher: Yes!

Clark: A lot of people have said, what are you interested in? Why would you even consider running? Isn't it just about Iraq? It really isn't. Iraq is part of it, I think our foreign policy has serious problems, but I think the economy and the way the administration has dealt with the economy has serious problems. But more fundamental than that, it's about what kind of country we want to live in. I think this nation wants an open, transparent government. I think it likes the two-party system. I think it likes to hear reasoned dialogue, not labeling, name-calling, hateful politics. I think 2004 is the election the voters have to put that back in.

You will not be surprised to know that Clark also made fun of the administration's failure to plan for the post-invasion. Of course, they did have a plan - they planned for the Iraqis to hail us as heroes, get on their knees and kiss our feet, and hand over the keys to the country. But, somehow, that didn't happen. Ooops!
09:32 BST

Saturday, 06 September 2003

Controversial Doonesbury strip alert

It's actually worth going to Salon today just to see the sponsor ad, which is for the ACLU, and you get to read this item warning that hundreds of papers are likely to pull Sunday's Doonesbury strip because it mentions A Forbidden Subject. Trudeau is interviewed, and says it's not censorship.

I got that via Romenesko, and while I'm there, there's this:

NYT's ombud plan doesn't satisfy Minn. news council chief
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minnesota News Council executive director Gary Gilson says the New York Times "is undermining its decision to create an ombudsman position by making it a one-year experiment and by saying that the ombudsman will not write a regular column to readers or regular memos to the news staff." PLUS: Gilson thinks he knows what makes journalists seem so aloof and arrogant.
There's also a related link to a discussion by Geneva Overholser and Bill Keller on the subject. You must admit Keller has a point: Has The Washington Post style ombudsman given them high standards and credibility? (If so, why are they so crap?)

Back to the subject of comics, here's Auth, and here's Toles. And, because I can't resist, here's more Toles. And Rall. And, oh hell, this one, too.
19:00 BST

The home front

Just about every American who's ever fought in a war before is outraged by the callous misuse of our soldiers by the Bush administration. The other day Gen. Anthony C. Zinni (ret.) - who had supported Bush in 2000 - gave a speech illuminating that point:

A former U.S. commander for the Middle East who still consults for the State Department yesterday blasted the Bush administration's handling of postwar Iraq, saying it lacked a coherent strategy, a serious plan and sufficient resources...."There is no strategy or mechanism for putting the pieces together," said retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, and so, he said, "we're in danger of failing."
Zinni's comments to the joint meeting in Arlington of the U.S. Naval Institute and the Marine Corps Association, two professional groups for officers, were greeted warmly by his audience, with prolonged applause at the end. Some officers bought tapes and compact discs of the speech to give to others.
Vietnam vet and former marine sergeant Terry Kindlon is the person who tipped Talk Left off to the article, and they've printed his own letter, which you should read:
The neoconservative politicians who wanted the war ridiculed us, waved our flag in our faces and accused us (of all people!) of being unpatriotic. While lecturing us on patriotism, they would point out, condescendingly, that Iraq was "nothing like Vietnam." Now, with the passage of each day, it's becoming more and more clear that the only substantive difference between Vietnam and Iraq is the color--Vietnam was green, Iraq is brown.
Can you remember what else Vietnam and Iraq had in common?

[Update: Kip Williams writes in to say: I thought it was going to be that Dubya dressed up as a pilot and didn't do any fighting in either one.]
13:38 BST

On another front...

A point so obvious that I was making it more than a year ago finally hits the pages of the IHT:

As is becoming increasingly clear, the Americans did themselves a great disfavor by ostracizing Yasser Arafat, because in doing so they bolstered his support among the Palestinians. Since the United States and Israel attacked him, people have been rallying around him.

By trying to isolate Arafat, the Americans also mistakenly distanced themselves from a source of legitimate power and decision-making in Palestine. So now they have to get to Arafat indirectly, through intermediaries, whereas before they could influence him directly.

The United States and Israel need to talk to Arafat in order to address any serious issue. There is no reason for their boycott of him. It is childish and manipulative. If the United States is serious about peace, it has to deal with Palestinian realities, not realities manufactured in someone's mind.

Except that we live in the age of "moral clarity" in which intransigence is supposed to be some kind of virtue. The messianic hallucination that's going on in George Bush's mind has to take precedence over real life.
12:03 BST

Friday, 05 September 2003

More from Robin Cook

This Independent article is, alas, only available online to those willing to pay for it, but it's good enough for me to copy-type bits from the print edition:

But the Hutton inquiry has given Parliament plenty of leads to pursue. Why did the Prime Minister try to persuade MPs that Saddam was "a current and serious threat" when we now know that Tony Blair could not convince his own chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, that Saddam was an imminent threat. even Alastair Campbell, Tony's alter ego, appears to have had his doubts. In his diary, the month the dossier is published, he asks, "Why was this such an important issue to the British government now? Why Iraq? Why only Iraq?"

Then there is yesterday's revelation that members of the Defence Intelligence Staff did not agree with the case that defence ministers were making to Parliament. We now know that Britain's leading expert on chemical weapons regarded the September dossier as too much the work of "spin merchants". Breathtakingly, we have also discovered that the allegedly "reliable" source for the 45-minute claim did not appear to know very much about what he was talking about.

The Government has built its defence on the claim that everything in the September dossier was approved by the Joint Intelligence Committee. That basis looks a lot more wobbly today, since we have learnt that the Committee only managed to approve the dossier as published by rejecting six pages of detailed criticism of it from intelligence officials.

Having allowed itself to be misled once over whether Saddam posed a current threat, Parliament must not allow itself to be misled a second time into accepting the Government's argument that the real issue is whether one BBC interview (at seven minutes past six in the morning!) was wrong. Tony Blair told Hutton that this interview was so damaging it brought into question "the credibility of the whole country". I wish to be loyal to my Prime Minister and I have tried hard to swallow this claim, but I discovered it always sticks in my gullet. From my contacts with European and Arab friends, I know that what has seriously damaged the credibility of my country is that its government launched a war, in which at least 10,000 were killed, on a false prospectus.
Stripped of its high moral tone, the bones of Tony Blair's defence is that he may have turned out to be wrong, but at the time he believed he was right. But this does not explain why he believed he was right. The rings of e-mail unearthed by Hutton are peppered with laments that the intelligence is thin and the evidence not convincing enough. In a rational, sane environment, any Prime Minister should have asked himself whether the intelligence could be misleading. Tony Blair did not ask that question because he wanted to believe the intelligence was right.

Aside from anything else, it is pretty clear now that Kelly and the BBC were right all along, and the government knew it. As Cook points out, the original title of the dossier itself, right up to a week before it was published, was Iraq's Programmes of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Removing the reference to "Programmes" was all part of the "sexing up" process to mislead the public - and Parliament - into believing the situation was urgent.

So, on both sides of the water, it comes down to what we already knew: There was no threat from Saddam, the weapons inspections should have been allowed to continue to completion, and we ended up in a war because a bunch of very stupid or very callous (or both) people lied us into it and are now discovering that it's not so easy to just dazzle the Iraqis into letting us lie our way back out again. Thousands of people are dead, Iraq's infrastructure lies in ruins, its people are actually worse off than they were before, and we...well, we have freedom fries. Phooey.
15:53 BST

Memphis Blues Again

I guess Bob Herbert has been reading the WSJ so I don't have to, and finds them blinking and stumbling out into the sunlight:

There was an interesting lead paragraph in an article on the front page of The Wall Street Journal last Thursday: "The blackout of 2003 offers a simple but powerful lesson: Markets are a great way to organize economic activity, but they need adult supervision."

Gee. They've finally figured that out. The nuns I had in grammar school were onto this adult supervision notion decades ago. It seems to be just dawning on the power brokers of the 21st century. Maybe soon the voters will catch on. You need adults in charge.

America barreled into Iraq with no real thought given to the consequences, and now it has a tragic mess on its hands. California looks like something out of "Lord of the Flies," and yet the person getting the most attention as a candidate to clean up that insane situation is an actor with a history of immature behavior whose cartoonish roles appeal most strongly to children.

Appalling behavior and appalling policies have become the norm among folks entrusted with the heaviest responsibilities in American business and government. The U.S. budget deficit will approach half a trillion dollars next year. And that will be followed by huge additional deficits, year after irresponsible year, extending far off into the horizon. And, of course, the baby boomers, the least responsible generation in memory, will soon begin retiring and collecting their Social Security and federal health benefits, leaving mountains of unpaid bills for the hapless generations behind them.

What the United States needs is a timeout.

"Markets are a great way to organize economic activity, but..." Couldn't you just fall over laughing? Just like I usually do whenever I see that Alan Greenspan line Pfaff quoted the other day, about how when the Soviet Union fell he just assumed it would "automatically establish a free-market entrepreneurial system." Hey, I only read comic books, but these people think they live in one.

Some "conservatives" think the Republicans are the party of New Ideas because they have no knowledge of history at all. They seem to regard things like SEC regulations and worker safety laws as though they have existed since Adam ate the apple, and imagine that if - for the very first time ever! - we got rid of them, we would suddenly live in a utopian free-market meritocracy. Their perspective is so narrow that they don't even realize that their "new" idea has been around as long as there have been humans and still exists in many (most?) parts of the world, and that the world Franklin and Jefferson and FDR (and even LBJ) et al. wrought for us - the world they grew up in and always knew was better than all the others - is the genuinely new idea, and that it was working precisely because it was fine-tuned with all those fiddly little regulations and things. Yes, they require maintenance - you have to keep watching out for things like regulatory capture, you need accountability and public scrutiny to make sure that neither the government nor anyone else gets drunk with power - you remember that thing about "the price of liberty", right?

But so-called "conservatives" have their dream of a kind of socio-economic perpetual motion machine that is somehow immune from natural laws, where entropy never sets in, where there are no such things as gravity and inertia, and where, by the way, rich men won't cheat and poor people will just calmly sit by and watch their children starve to death rather than violate the mighty dicta of free-market values, secure in the knowledge that it's just and right. ("Oh, gosh, I forgot to become immorally rich, so I guess it's just my place to lie down and die while you sit there hoarding all the resources, more than any 600 really profligate people could ever possibly use in a lifetime....")

Well, a hundred years ago we'd already had enough of this. People died to get you that 40-hour work week and a bit of job security that we are now allowing the Republican Junta to throw away. They died because the wealthy owners of powerful commercial entities were perfectly happy to hire their own little private armies to fight off union activists, and the government was just as happy to let them: to force people at the point of a gun to either starve to death or work 84-hour weeks at near-starvation wages in frequently terrifying conditions. That was a "free-market economy".

And once it was gone, nobody missed it - not even them. Because it didn't work.
13:45 BST

Thursday, 04 September 2003

Howling at lies

I have to admit, I thought The Mendacity Index was actually a pretty trivializing look at presidential lying, but for Bob Somerby that's meat and potatoes:

STRAIGHT FROM THE PRESS CORPS' PRIVATE PLANET: Here at THE HOWLER, we're still stunned by the Washington Monthly's utterly fatuous "Mendacity Index" (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/2/03). How fatuous is your insider press corps? As you'll recall, the Monthly's "experts" picked the "six biggest lies" of each of the last four presidents. According to the Monthly's experts, here is one of the six biggest lies George W. Bush ever told:
Going to War.
During a visit to West Virginia in January 2002, Bush joked, "I've been to war. I've raised twins. If I had a choice, I'd rather go to war." During the Vietnam War, however, Bush served with the Air National Guard in Texas, and had specifically noted on his Air Force officers test that he did not wish to serve overseas.
To make things easier, we marked a key word. The key word we highlighted? Joked.
Somerby is quite right about this: even if he hadn't been joking, it's by no means easy to assume that he is talking about Vietnam. And even those of us (e.g., me) who are offended by him saying, "I've been to war," when obviously he has not, know that he isn't likely trying to claim his physical presence on the battleground. What is likely is that he's using an idiom, in the same sense that we say, "Our country is at war." Obviously, the entire citizenry of the country is not engaged in overseas combat - but our soldiers are, and it's annoying to have this wartime deserter using language that allows him to equate sitting in the White House, playing with humans like they were toy soldiers, with the actual situation of the real soldiers whose lives he has treated so callously. But this wasn't some big speech he made to the nation about policy, so it doesn't even qualify as a real Presidential Lie. Hell, it wasn't even under oath. (And anyway, I don't believe he actually raised two daughters, either; I'm sure he did very little on that score.)

But Bush has told some very serious lies to us, and Somerby quite rightly fumes at seeing this joke treated as equivalent to them.

But readers, can we return to that key word? The key word, again, would be "joked." According to the Monthly's experts, this one-on-one JOKE by President Bush is one of the six biggest lies he has told! Our suggestion: Read back through the budget buffoonism which actually got George Bush elected—the budget buffoonism of October 2000, part of which we described in yesterday's HOWLER. Paul Krugman discussed some of this clowning three separate times before Bush and Gore's first debate. But the press corps ignored Krugman's work in real time, and those life-changing howlers still don't trouble the "experts." They're more disturbed—they're deeply troubled—by this JOKE which Bush told to Bob Kiss.
We must, of course, take issue with the idea that these rather significant lies "actually got George Bush elected," since he wasn't actually elected.

But again, Somerby is right. Bush tells lies almost daily that actually matter, unlike this lame joke they chose. He goes to classrooms and talks about what he is doing for education while he is in fact doing his best to destroy our (really pretty good) public school system. He talks about how he's "giving" seniors a prescription drug benefit while in fact he is doing all that he can to pull Medicare out from under them. He swears he is protecting Social Security while he is crippling it every way he can. As is well known, you can pretty much bank on the fact that if he is doing a photo-op at some worthy project, he is about to try to kill it. The man is just one big walking Big Lie factory, and the stupid joke about how he's been "to war" just doesn't even show up on the radar next to all the real whoppers he's been lobbing. Was The Mendacity Index designed to make Bush look like no more of a liar than President Bill was? If so, it's just another lie.
14:47 BST

Picks from Altercation

Some interesting pointers yesterday:

This classified Pentagon report says Bush approved the invasion on Aug. 29, 2002. Too bad nobody told the Security Council—or the nation—that all that talk about war being "a last resort" was just for fun. Oh and by the way, it's in the Communist Washington Times. The report is actually about the wholly predictable postwar screw-up that the smart guys in the Pentagon thought they had covered, and there's more here.
Wow, that ol' liberal media is getting harsh. Meanwhile, something that a lot of Jewish people and other supporters of (the existence of) Israel, like Eric, are feeling increasingly queasy about:
"A recent poll of Israeli Jews by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 53 percent of those surveyed said they opposed granting full rights to Arabs and 57 percent said they believed the government should encourage Arab citizens to leave Israel." Given that these people were born into Israel, and are in the main, law-abiding citizens who have never hurt anyone, it's getting harder and harder to defend against those who claim that Israel is a racist society. I mean, if a majority holding the attitude described above is not "racism," what is? The report on the report is here.
I fear I was more than a bit unfair to John Kerry and here in the brief item I wrote about him last week. It's not that I was wrong, but by focusing on the issue of "charisma"-or lack thereof-I played into the hands of those journalists I criticize for denuding our politics of meaning. The truth is I don't care whether I "like" Kerry and neither should you. You should care about whether he's qualified to be president and whether you share the values his presidency would likely enunciate.

On the first issue there can be no argument. He's a great deal more qualified than Bush is. (And has "won" just as many presidential elections.) In his long career in the Senate he has distinguished himself by being a thoughtful and intelligent critic of the Reagan/Bush foreign policy and did as much as any elected representative to expose their secretiveness and illegality. He clearly knows what he's talking about when he proposes a new national health care system, an energy policy, and the like. And though it's been obscured by his gravely mistaken vote to give Bush the power to go to war, he is probably more progressive than Gov. Dean on the panoply of issues a president must address.

I wish Kerry had voted against this ruinous war and I wish he would admit his mistake. I can't make up my mind if his refusal to play to the anti-Bush anger that is (appropriately) driving the nomination process will be a strength or a weakness in a general election. I am endorsing no one, of course. I obviously like what Dean is saying. I'm intrigued by a Clark candidacy. And I could live with Dick Gephardt. (I could even live with Lieberman, though I am pretty certain I won't have to.) But I think Kerry has earned the right to a careful look, and I don't mean all that crap about his hair. Personally, I think Kerry has the tools to be not just a good, but a great president. The problem is that the way we elect these guys has next to nothing to do with what they are called upon to do in office once they're there.

I guess most of the Democratic candidates have the potential to be good presidents, and all of them are better qualified than Bush. Yes, I do include Al Sharpton in that second clause, because even Sharpton's center of values and understanding of what a president should do is closer to both mainstream values and the Constitution than what Bush has demonstrated. Unlike Bush and his pals, no Democratic candidate has bragged about how few hours they intend to spend actually working, for one thing. Yeah, I would really have to hold my nose to vote for Lieberman, but even he is better than Bush.

Even people who are fairly to the right should be happy to vote for a Democratic nominee at this point, because at least you'll know that the media will never let a Dem get away with the kinds of things Bush has been doing.
13:52 BST

Entertaining liberal scum


Talking Points Memo says there's a little war building up between Donald Rumsfeld and the neocons, because the latter "want to see more troops in the country. But they don't want those troops to be Bulgarians or Bangladeshis or anyone else but Americans. If that means dramatically expanding the US Army, fine." Hm, "dramatically expanding the US Army," I wonder what that could mean.... TPM also comes up with a lovely analogy for Bush's so-called foreign policy: When a heart surgeon loses an occasional patient, that's simply the price of inherently dangerous work. When a heart surgeon tries a risky procedure for a patient who will die without it, and the patient dies, that's just a tragic end to an unavoidable risk. When a dermatologist cracks open a patient's ribs to try out a new approach to open heart surgery which most cardiac surgeons say will never work, and the patient dies, that guy probably gets sued or kicked out of the profession or maybe thrown in jail. Maybe all three.

One never quite knows how seriously to take anything Al Martin says, but I sure would like to know in this case: Ambassador Joseph Wilson has been turning up the heat in this situation. He revealed on Friday August 29 in a symposium in Washington the person in the Bush administration, who had leaked it out to the Washington Post that Wilson's wife is a CIA agent of 26 years. As a consequence of this leak, her entire team of overseas assets were liquidated. [...] So Karl Rove has been identified as the leaker responsible for the deaths of more than 70 CIA assets overseas. There's a lot more.

The Weekly Standard is in denial, but Buzzflash knows that Bush knew.

LiberalOasis interview with Paul Krugman: I underestimated. I just consistently underestimated just how bad things were going to be. I thought, well they might blow the budget surplus, but I didn't think we were going to have a 500 billion deficit. I thought they would politically exploit September 11. I didn't think they'd take us off into an unrelated war.

From Consortiumnews: Nat Parry on Bush's Floundering Doctrine. (Hmm, sounds fishy to me.)

Two Glasses needs to learn about permalinks next, but meanwhile, there's currently a neat summing up of Josh Marshall's article in The Washington Monthly about why the Bushistas lie, along with a pointer to an article in The Nation by Joe Conason warning that they are planning to trot out the less-credible-every-day "compassionate conservative" thing again. (Also, find out what "BSATSS" stands for.)

And Yahoo finds another excuse to publish photos of Madonna kissing Britney.
00:51 BST

Big Truth

I'm about to start reading this book. I read these things really slowly so you'll get my opinion long after everyone else's. But I expect it to be good.

00:02 BST

Wednesday, 03 September 2003

Every day is Labor Day

In my 1994 book, Nudes, Prudes and Attitudes, I wrote:

It is also argued that women in the sex industry are sometimes (if not always) mistreated, underpaid, sexually harassed, and may find themselves in dangerous working conditions. Implicit in such a charge is the belief that women are not harassed, underpaid, exposed to danger or mistreated in any other industry. This is obvious nonsense: women died earlier this century in the great garment industry fire before it was made illegal to lock workers into buildings, and men and women also died in a lock-up shop fire in the poultry industry during the 1980s when the Reagan administration made clear it would not enforce the law. [p137]
To me, one of the most loathsome aspects of reactionary feminism (as opposed to liberal feminism - learn the difference!) was their persistence in acting like sex was the only aspect of life that was, well, dirty. It was dirty with money, dirty with coercion, dirty with force and violence, dirty with shame. They might as well have been Republicans.

Invoking the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire should not have been necessary in 1994, but for quite some time anti-porn feminists had been referring to a similar event in the Philippines at an alleged porn studio as if only in pornography could such an event occur. Porn, they asserted caused such events.

But it was precisely because of this kind of ignorance that the Reagan administration had been able to allow the same thing to occur in the '80s in Arkansas, without any reaction from the anti-porn crowd - or the mainstream press.

We are not surprised to hear that sex workers in other parts of the world suffer such tragedy, but can we really afford to go on pretending that, "It can't happen here"? It does happen here, when corporations are strong and unions are weak, and that's becoming more and more the case every day. That is where the real shame lies.

(Thanks to Bartcop for the link, which accompanied this passionate rant about the difference between the tragedy of 25 March 1911, which was followed by extensive investigation and serious efforts to prevent future such horrors, and the enormity of 11 September 2001, when something altogether different happened instead.)
17:24 BST

Out and about

Flood the Zone - remember this on Friday.

Down on the sidebar, the link for Cowboy Kahlil has been replaced with one for Open Source Politics, a new blog he has joined with a whole passel of folks.

Body and Soul on what was good about Clinton.

In Reason, Julian Sanchez responds to the latest excuses for the Patriot Act, including the ever-popular, "Name one civil liberty that has been violated under the Patriot Act." Well, actually, some have been documented, but Julian raises a pointed question: How can we be expected to do that when the law allows them to act in secret?

There's some disagreement between Maureen Dowd and Bartcop over whether Dick Cheney was just so dumb he let Chalabi con him or whether Cheney knew exactly what he was doing. Bart reminds us of Bart's Law #2: Any time a person or entity makes a "mistake" that puts extra money in their pocket, expect them to make that same "mistake" again and again and again. And here's something else that's also likely true.
11:43 BST

Tuesday, 02 September 2003

It's Blogtopia again!

'Cause Skippy's back! And Skippy recommends Jusiper, which confronts anti-Dean naysayers and also provides some nifty quotes from Mario Cuomo to throw at Bush. (When Cheney after the war in 1991 as the secretary of defense, on behalf of President Bush, called President Reagan to say thank you for the armed forces that just defeated Saddam Hussein, that was the proper thing to do. Too bad you didn't call Clinton. Because you should have.)

At Pandagon, the Ridiculous: Apparently, the part of the right that doesn't understand laws when trying to enforce Christianity is well-met by the part of the right that doesn't understand Christianity when trying to enforce laws.

BusyBusyBusy dissects recent right-wing spin about Wesley Clark.
22:56 BST

On the blog

Yes! When Atrios got back from his long disappearance, I thought the four people who subbed for him - Lambert, Leah, Tresy and The Farmer - really had to start their own weblog. I mean, they were good, and I didn't want to lose out on that. And, yep, they've done it: Corrente - check it out.

TBogg finds more people with a short view of history and a remarkable lack of perspective. Including James Dobson, who reacted to attempts to separate church and state with these words: "It can be said that people of faith are being sent to the back of the bus -- and we're not gonna go there." Yeah? Where's the monument to the basic principles of secular humanism? Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan calls for overthrow of the government.

From Stonerwitch: The Bring Them Home Now campaign and website. This is not another typical lefty organization; it is founded by military families, veterans, reservists and their supporters. Hopefully this fact will open media doors for them. I certainly wish them the best. She also tells us: ...the entire world thinks we're a clownshow. And why you really don't want deregulation.

You may recall that on Sunday I mentioned the unreliability of eye-witness reports. I was speaking specifically of identification, but there is extensive evidence that people misremember whole events. Dwight Meredith wrote about this very thing last week, having noticed an example in the Blogosphere regarding the Mendacity Index from The Washington Monthly. TWM gave this example of mendacity: President Bush talked about a campaign promise made in Chicago that he would only deficit spend "if there is a national emergency, if there is a recession, or if there's a war," sometimes adding, after 9/11, "Never did I dream we'd have a trifecta." It has since been demonstrated that Bush never did make this three-pronged exception; in fact, when Al Gore warned that Bush's plan was "risky", pointing out that it left no room to deal with national emergencies, recession, or war, Bush shrugged this warning off, pretending that such threats were already accounted for in his plan and that they would not drive us into deficits. Yet one blogger remembers hearing Bush make the claim he now pretends to have made. Obviously, Gore's words are being confused for Bush's...which is at least a little bit ironic.

Devra wants to know why cops are stopping people, asking to see their IDs, and then keeping them. So do I.

Orcinus says: For those who wonder about the historical precedents behind Roy Moore's stand over the Ten Commandments: Yes, it is true that the South has a history of defying court orders. None of them, as it happens, were for particularly noble causes. David is also Waiting for Godwin: As the War on Terror, instead of combating the rise of fascimentalism, transforms itself into a War on Liberals; as conservatives increasingly identify themselves as the only "true" Americans; as Bush continues to depict himself as divinely inspired, and the leader of a great national spiritual renewal; as the political bullying that has sprung up in defense of Bush takes on an increasingly righteous religious and violent cast; and as free speech rights and other democratic institutions that interfere with complete political control by conservatives come increasingly under fire, then the conditions for fascimentalism will almost certainly rise to the surface.

Nathan Newman starts off his series on unions. You need 'em, even if you're not in one. The corporatists have been pretty successful at union-busting of late, and the result has been bad for everyone who has to work for a living. We're living in a scary time, but it doesn't have to be this way.
14:27 BST

Tory B.Liar

So, did Tony Blair know he was full of it? I mean, the whole "45 minutes" thing never made any sense, and you don't have to be a foreign policy wonk to work it out. "WMD": What does this term even mean? It can't have meant nuclear bombs, because we already knew Saddam had never tested them (you can tell, you don't need spies to find this out), and they didn't have the delivery systems anyway. Chemical weapons? We knew their stocks were too old. So now they are saying that, indeed, they never meant anything like that. Xymphora says:

What Scarlett is saying here is that Kelly was confused because he thought the claim in the dossier that Saddam could deploy weapons against Britain in 45 minutes referred to missiles, when in fact it referred to mortar shells or small calibre weaponry. But mortar shells or small calibre weaponry could not possibly have hit Britain, or even Cyprus. The whole point of the dossier was to create the illusion that Britain, or at least British interests in Cyprus, were under a 45 minute danger of attack from Saddam, thus justifying the otherwise illegal and immoral attack on Iraq to ensure that these weapons could not be deployed. What Scarlett is admitting is not only that the 45 minute claim was 'dodgy', but that the nature of the weapons referred to in the dossier were short range weapons intended for targets inside Iraq. No wonder Kelly was confused: he naturally assumed that the 45-minute claim would not be made unless the weapons were missiles, for how else could they be a threat to Britain. We've all apparently been making the same mistake that Kelly made: by focusing on the 45 minutes we have missed the fact that the weapons involved could not possibly have threatened Britain in 45 years. Scarlett's admission ends the debate. Blair's dossier contained no evidence of any threat to Britain, and thus the attack on Iraq was made with no justification whatsoever.
Robin Cook said a while back that it was obvious from the start that Blair's government "were madly keen to prove that they were reliable allies of President Bush—and there were those around President Bush who were determined to have a war." It's possible that Blair was a principled man who just wanted to stay on Bush's good side to protect his country from Bush's potential revenge, but I'm more and more coming to the conclusion that 56K has the right of it and that, in truth, Blair is just what I've thought he was from the beginning: a pirate-lover. Here's Palast with another aspect of the case of Tory Blair:
On 18 October [1995], I took Cunningham a photocopied summary of secret accounts set up by the US power firm with the approval of their auditors, Arthur Andersen. I was illustrating a point: 'This isn't accounting, it's a magic show. Britain has no system of control over power plant accounting. You'll get skinned alive.'

Which companies should the UK beware of? I mentioned six, including Enron. During our chat, Cunningham learnt he'd lost his front-bench post so I explained again to his successor, Margaret Beckett. Over the next two years, I went over the details of utility accounting with Beckett and her team. They pledged to regulate the US power buccaneers.

Once in office, the pledge vanished. After lobbying by Enron and others Blair intervened to dilute a ban on new gas-fired power stations, helping Enron expand its UK operations. Some thought its executives would offend him with their Texas swaggering. In fact, he seems infatuated with hormonal US commercialism. Enron won at every turn.

Blair did things to Britain that even John Major refused to go along with. And here people thought he'd be better than the Tories.
11:08 BST

Monday, 01 September 2003

Birds of a feather

The illiberal media types always likes to find some virtually unknown academic or unconnected teenaged activist who said something that either is or can be spun as offensive, and then explain that that's what "the left" or "liberals" believe, and these are the kind of people we mindlessly follow and ally ourselves with. They point out that we lefties and liberals haven't criticized those people, so we must agree with them - sort of neglecting the fact that we mostly don't criticize them because either we've never even heard of them or we know that even if we do know who they are, nobody else does, so what's the point of leaping up to condemn some nobody? We've got bigger fish to fry - like, say, the Attorney General of the United States. But Atrios asked a question Saturday:

How many Republicans have condemned the American Enterprise Institute, home to Charles Murray, purveyor of racist pseudo-science and propaganda. How many have condemned the Hoover Institute and the National Review for housing trash-spewing bigot Dinesh D'Souza?

In fact, the Hoover Institute is now advising Arnold Schwarzenegger. From this, can we conclude that he supports D'Souza's view that slavery was not actually a racist institution?

What can we conclude about Lynne Cheney, David Frum, and Michael Ledeen? All current or former Fellows of the AEI, where the racist Charles Murray is supported and coddled? Why have they not denounced this man?

Well, possibly because they spent the last few decades working hard to give those same people some undeserved credibility. We're all supposed to pretend, for example, that Charles Murray wasn't being even a little bit racist when he just happened to write about how blacks are, you know, dumber than white folks, and that's the real reason they don't do as well. After all, racism is over, didn't you know?

However, some people disagree. In a later post, Atrios says:

Every time I mention Charles Murray I get the standard flow of people who think Murray is just peachy. And, every time I have to trot out a bunch of critiques.


Here's one from Thomas Sowell, conservative.

Here's an excerpt of one from conservatarian Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman.

Here's one from Digby, of Hullabaloo, which really gets at the not at all subtle subtext which the more academic critics were too polite to notice. And more here.

When The Bell Curve came out I got the same sensation I often get when someone does a review of existing pornography effects research and then tries to claim that it overturns everything we've believed for the last 50 years. And I have to keep pointing out that there is no new data to support this sudden reversal; we've looked at the issue, we know whether this "new" stuff (that happens to look exactly like old stuff from the era of social purity movements or the antebellum south) is meaningful, these ideas have been debunked over and over and over because they just don't hold up.

I often get the feeling we need to set up an entire Charles Murray debunking page full of the various links to all the people who have explained the many, many reasons we should treat him not as a scholar but as the apologist for racism that he really is. It's hard to believe people ever fell for that crap, but I can't help suspecting that they did because they just plain wanted to.
19:03 BST

Discourse of war

First, of course, there is Paul Krugman:

So unless we can somehow extricate ourselves from Iraq quickly, or persuade other countries to bear a lot more of the burden, we need a considerably bigger military. And that means spending a lot more money.

For now, the administration is in denial. "There will be no retreat," President Bush says — Churchillian words, but where are the resources to back them up?

CalPundit says what should have been obvious to everybody all along. Quoting the LA Times to the effect that the administration is "puzzled" about how to get all the other countries to pitch in and help in Iraq, he asks:
I know this is beating a dead horse, but what on earth are the Bushies thinking? They started a war no one else wanted, they treated anyone opposed to the war as virtual traitors to humanity, and they are still insisting that America needs to be 100% in charge of everything that goes on in Iraq.

But despite all that they're "puzzled" about how to get the rest of the world to pony up to help us out of our mess? Even though the rest of the world warned us repeatedly about the likely result of our adventure? What planet are they living on?

For chrissake, we told the rest of the world to go to hell before the war, and they haven't forgotten. They aren't going to bail us out unless we give them considerable authority over the reconstruction effort, and they might not help us even if we do. We're on our own.

The Bush administration has been incompetent and arrogant throughout this entire effort. Their prewar conduct seemed almost deliberately designed to make sure the rest of the world was against us, they were criminally negligent in their postwar planning, and George Bush personally has shown immense cowardice by consistently refusing to prepare Congress and the American public for the real cost and length of the war. He's paying the price for that cowardice now, as he watches support for the reconstruction dwindle because its expense, length, and cost in lives is taking most people by surprise.

You'd think it'd be pretty hard to argue with that, wouldn't you? But, of course, there's always someone in the comments who can let you know what the other side is thinking - such as someone named Steve White, who wrote: might recall 9/11. That changed a lot, and in particular changed for a long time to come what our foreign policy must be.
The prewar conduct was marked by repeated delays trying to get the rest of the world to come along. Kevin and others need to understand one thing (and it's obvious, Kevin, that you don't get this): no amount of delay, diplomacy or persuasion would have brought the continental Europeans, the Russians, or the Chinese on board. No Democrat -- not Gore, not Clinton, not Dean, not Kerry -- would have persuaded these other countries to join us. The decision then is whether to go or not go. GWB chose to go. Burn him for it if you like, but it is NOT cowardice to look the world in the eye and say, "fine, we'll do this without you."
Among other things. In response to which Thumb wrote:
Steve and others need to understand one thing (and it's obvious, Steve, that you don't get this): no amount of delay, diplomacy or persuasion would have brought the Continental Europeans, the Russians, or the Chinese on board . . . because Saddam didn't posses weapons of mass destruction, Saddam wasn't involved in the 9/11 attacks or allied with Bin Laden, he didn't control the northern or southern territories of his own country, wasn't a serious threat to his neighbors, much less the United States, and barely broke the world's Top Ten Despotic Murdering Tyrants. (But he did sit on a lot of oil)
A reader called Molly responded to the claim that, "No Democrat -- not Gore, not Clinton, not Dean, not Kerry -- would have persuaded these other countries to join us," with this:
No shit, Sherlock.

"Hi, Vladimir? Al Gore here. I know your army's busy in Chechnya and all, but how would you like to risk their lives and spend a buttload of money invading Iraq? Why? Uh . . . .sorry, some jerk-off from the Heritage Foundation is here, he wants me to tell you they've got WMDs and Al Qaeda connections [off-phone: Perle, are you aware that the Rooskies have their own intelligence set-up, they can check this crapola? Go 'way, let me finish this call. ] No, they don't pose any threat. Al Qaeda?--nah, the West Germans have more Al Qaeda members than Iraq. It's just--you know how bummed George Bush has been since he lost the election? We thought if we took out Sadaam, it would make a swell Fathers' Day present for his daddy. What we'll do with the country afterwards? Beats the hell out of me--you got any ideas?"

Once you wipe away all the "mistaken impressions" the Bushies scattered around as reasons for invading Iraq, that's pretty much what's left, isn't it?

Also commenting at CalPundit, Mary (of Pacific Views - link at right) has a worry:

My personal favorite reason for others to be wary of helping Bush by providing more troops or money -- what do you think he will do if he can free up "his" military? Which country will he invade next? And for every dollar provided by an ally, which of those dollars will find their ways into the Haliburton, Carlyle Group, Betchel, etc. coffers? With the rank corruption and determination to do whatever the neocons like, why would anyone offer to put their money or troops into Iraq?

I suspect we will be on our own until this incompetent and greedy gang is removed from power and some adults are brought in to clean up the mess. How many people die and at what cost to our treasury is an open question. And please remember every dollar we spend there is a dollar that our children and grandchildren will be repaying. While Bush's cronies make out like bandits.

Given their track record, that doesn't even seem paranoid. They truly have distinguished themselves as both incompetent and untrustworthy. And Iraq is every bit the mess that people predicted it would be. But they still believe it's everybody's fault but their own.
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Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, September 2003

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