The Sideshow

Archive for September 2005

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Friday, 30 September 2005


Mysteriously, some liberal bloggers just don't seem to be able to find much outrage over Bennett's outrageously racist remarks. Kudos to Garance Franke-Ruta for being prepared to question that reaction even when it comes from a colleague with whom she shares real estate on Tapped's page:

Mark Schmitt asks, in response to Yglesias:
if liberals somehow have to keep our mouths shut when people argue as a matter of fact that an unborn black child is definitively more likely to become a criminal -- well, what is the point of being a liberal if I "must stop arguing that way"?

People are smoking some weird shit around here, that's all I'll say.

I have to agree with him. There has been a very weird backlash on the blogs against so-called civil-rights liberals in the past year, and, frankly, the more time I spend on the blogs, the less I know what liberalism still stands for, other than hating Bush and getting out of Iraq. There's a lot of talk of movement-building these days, but it's not at all clear to me what this new movement actually values.
Garance also has more to say about the strategic advantage of standing up on racial issues.

And it's not just race, either. There's an infection here that seems to befog the minds of many of our bright young things. Corey Robin in The Nation on The Fear of the Liberals:

It's the fourth anniversary of September 11, and Americans are getting restless about the war in Iraq. Republicans are challenging the President, activists and bloggers are pressing the Democrats and liberal hawks are reconsidering their support for the war. Everyone, it seems, is asking questions.

Two questions, however, have not been asked, perhaps because they might actually help us move beyond where we are and where we've been. First, how is it that few liberals and no leftists in 1968 believed that Lyndon Johnson, arguably the most progressive President in American history, would or could airlift democracy to Vietnam, while many liberals and not a few leftists in 2003 believed that the most reactionary President since William McKinley could and would export democracy to Iraq?

Second, why did certain liberals who opposed the war in Iraq refuse to march against it? The reason they gave was that left-wing groups like ANSWER, which helped organize the antiwar rallies, failed to denounce Saddam's regime. Yet many of those who could not abide an alliance with ANSWER endorsed the war in Afghanistan--even though it was waged by a government that recently invaded three Caribbean countries, funded dirty wars in Latin America and backed the government of Guatemala, the only regime in the Western Hemisphere condemned by a UN-sponsored truth commission for committing acts of genocide. Politics, of course, often entails an unhappy choice of associations. But if the deeds of the US government need not stop liberals from supporting the war in Afghanistan, why should the words--words, mind you, not deeds--of leftists deprive the antiwar movement of these very same liberals' support?

Both questions register a fundamental shift among liberals, and on the left, since the 1960s: from skepticism of to faith in US power, and from faith in to skepticism of popular movements.

(Not sure how I feel about the rest of that article, but those are certainly good questions, and thanks to Helga for the tip).

Meanwhile, back at the civil rights movement, maybe it's time to remember that passion, eh?

23:07 BST


Passionata's Caracas half-cup underwired bra

Bra of the Week

More fun with foreign words: "In Japanese, 'amakudari', literally descent from heaven, describes the phenomenon of being employed by a firm in an industry one has previously, as a government bureaucrat, been involved in regulating."

Jack has posted his photos from the gardens at St. Andrews. He also hit the links, of course.

Tribute: On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Grateful Dead Ground Zero, also known as Berkeley's Greek Theatre, friends came together for a reckoning of the faithful to celebrate the music of Jerry Garcia. You can listen. Via Modulator.

Martin Waugh's Liquid Sculpture is a marvellous collection of photographs of drops and splashes. Via Sore Eyes. (Also, suspicious behavior in the database state, which is not so amusing.)

19:37 BST

Stuff to read

More early Christmas news: Down in comments, Buck Batard asks me to take note of recent news regarding Santa's reindeer, for which the Danish Air Force has compensated him. There is also some important news from Santa on other matters (so you can't say you weren't told).

Oh, yeah? What was that deal? The Times story also revealed that Libby and his lawyers say he offered the waiver a year ago -- and then again ten days ago -- but Miller did not accept it. She was released today after she and her lawyers met at the jail with Fitzgerald to discuss her testimony, which will be severely limited, the Times revealed. A full E&P report can be found here. Doesn't that sound just a little bit like it wasn't Libby's waiver, but Fitzgerald's apparent willingness to accept limits on her testimony, that changed Judith Miller's mind about testifying? So, where's the "principle" she's supposedly been standing on for the last few months? (Not that anyone believed there was one in the first place.)

Really, Rumsfeld should already be in jail for this: Nearly a year after Congress demanded action, the Pentagon has still failed to figure out a way to reimburse soldiers for body armor and equipment they purchased to better protect themselves while serving in Iraq. In fact, he should be in jail for it twice - once for sending troops into the field without proper equipment, and again for disobeying Congress and failing to arrange to repay them for getting their own armor. He's a skunk as well as a criminal. (via)

"Tingo, nakkele and other wonders" is an article about interesting foreign words ["Perhaps the Inuit notion of a good time must be, of necessity, a little more constrained. The long winter nights must fly by as they play a game called igunaujannguaq, literally meaning frozen walrus carcass. (The game involves the person in the centre of a ring trying to remain stiff as he is passed around the ring, hand over hand.)"] But the same page has a link to an article I seem to have missed in 2003 about the World Beard and Moustache championships that has photos of the weirdest beards I've ever seen. Don't miss these pictures, either.

Here's a completely different language article, on translations of Arabic news. It's kind of embarrassing that they can read our papers in English, but we can't read theirs.

Defining Anti-Semitism Down - Matthew Yglesias on the persistent right-wing meme about all those Jew-hating leftists.

15:30 BST

The war against America

William S. Lind says that we are now losing the Fourth Generation War:

Nor does Fourth Generation war have as its objective the mind of the leader on the other side. Rather, what it does is pull its enemy apart on the moral level, fracturing his society.
Osama certainly wanted this, and facilitated it, but what we are seeing in the US is really the work of the conservative movement.

But Lind argues that it is not so much the efforts of our enemies abroad or of the culture warriors that have made them such a smashing success, but something less comprehensible:

That is just what Fourth Generation opponents strive for, a systemic breakdown in their state adversary. The danger sign in America is not a hot national debate over the war in Iraq and its course, but precisely the absence of such a debate - which, as former Senator Gary Hart has pointed out, is largely due to a lack of courage on the part of the Democrats. Far from ensuring a united nation, what such a lack of debate and absence of alternatives makes probable is a bitter fracturing of the American body politic once the loss of the war becomes evident to the public. The public will feel itself betrayed, not merely by one political party, but by the whole political system.

The primum mobile of Fourth Generation war is a crisis of legitimacy of the state. If the absence of a loyal opposition and alternative courses of action further delegitimizes the American state in the eye of the public, the forces of the Fourth Generation will have won a victory of far greater proportions than anything that could happen on the ground in Iraq. The Soviet Union's defeat in Afghanistan played a central role in the collapse of the Soviet state. Could the American defeat in Iraq have similar consequences here? The chance is far greater than Washington elites can imagine.

I have noted before the number of "Democrats" who joined the party just in time to run for office after having close ties to the worst elements of the Republican Party, and whose actions still seem more in keeping with the aims of the conservative movement than with anything that could be called "liberal" or even "centrist". I have always known that nothing prevents this sort of mole from ascending in the Democratic structure, especially when they have so much support, sometimes even visibly, from Republicans. But there was a day when I didn't think they'd actually do it.

And then: Well, Weicker versus Lieberman is a case in point - Weicker ran for re-election as a man without a party, since the Democrats were naturally supporting the Democrat - and so were the Republicans. Teresa LePore, whose timely transformation from a Republican into a Democrat who just happened to commit an "error" that gave George Bush his chance to get into the White House despite losing the vote, is another. And then there's Ben Nighthorse Campbell and his sudden defection to the GOP right after winning election on the back of a tide of Democratic enthusiasm (and Democratic money). The supposed "moderates" in the GOP may make sensible noises from time to time but they vote with the party on those issues all the same. The allegedly "moderate" or "centrist" Democrats, on the other hand, cannot be relied upon even in obvious cases like the bankruptcy bill, which the Democratic leadership could not be bothered to even talk about protecting ordinary working people from.

And they were useless in the run-up to the invasion, unwilling to risk the attacks from the right (which would come anyway, as if they hadn't voted with the Republicans), and allowed this unprecedented disaster. They should still be screaming bloody murder about the fact that all that money they keep voting for "our troops" and "Homeland Security" never seems to reach its supposedly intended targets. (And why didn't Kerry ask George Bush during the debates why that famous $87bn accomplished nothing for our troops?)

The Bush administration and their extended family have succeeded in fracturing our country to the point where, with Bush's poll numbers heading for flatline and the vast majority of Americans expressing enormous discontent with the party that now controls our government, the separation between us and our leaders is becoming just too hard to miss. I believe it understates the case to hinge this entirely on our foreign policy, though; Americans are increasingly aware of how they are being hit domestically, as well. But by gifting Bush with 9/11 and the chance to get away with a wide variety of destructive plots against us, Osama has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. (Via Mapleberry blog.)

And unless we stand up sharp and do something about this, we will never have a chance to restore America. Note that even in the supposedly liberal bastions of academia, Diana Onken at Moving Ideas reports that campus conservatives are still movin' on up.

Lance Mannion thinks conservatives really don't know how destructive their policies really are, but I'm not so sure. (Who, for example, would come up with this way of measuring inflation if they didn't see a need to lie about the facts?) Some of them clearly don't, but a lot of these people are all too familiar with how such policies have affected the societies in other countries that have had such systems all along. The leaders of those countries are their friends, and they do not deplore the widespread poverty and instability these leaders have entrenched - rather, they envy their freedom to enrich themselves at the expense of their nations' wealth, stability, and comity. They are the world's aristocracy, and that's just the way they like it.

13:26 BST

GOP to have white Christmas

In The Washington Times, HUD chief foresees a 'whiter' Big Easy:

A Bush Cabinet officer predicted this week that New Orleans likely will never again be a majority black city, and several black officials are outraged.

Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development, during a visit with hurricane victims in Houston, said New Orleans would not reach its pre-Katrina population of "500,000 people for a long time," and "it's not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

And he oughta know, because he's one of the planners:
Mr. Jackson, a former developer and longtime government housing official, said the history of urban reconstruction projects shows that most blacks will not return and others who want to might not have the means or opportunity. His agency will play a critical role in the city's redevelopment through various grant programs, including those for damaged or destroyed properties.
It was no accident that New Orleans' poor people were not aided in leaving New Orleans until arrangements could be made to transfer them all far, far away rather than to cheaply available facilities right in Louisiana. Yes, they really did plan it the way it happened. It doesn't matter whether they had gleeful murder or just callousness in their hearts; the fact is, they made the decision to let people die.

But we'll be told there's nothing racist about all this, because Jackson is black. Don't kid yourself; he knows how to play the game:

"I wish that the so-called black leadership would stop running around this country, like Jesse and the rest of them, making this a racial issue," the HUD chief said.
And via Atrios, who earlier gave us the Rick Pearlstein article that no one would print - because it told the truth about what was really happening in New Orleans while the right-wing media were promoting the idea that savage nigras who are too lazy to work had gone wild in the flood - Ezra Klein on the further adventures of conservative racists as they chip away at the idea that the black members of our American family are actually just people like the rest of us. As Atrios notes, Andrew Sullivan deserves a lot of credit for helping to mainstream racism. I'm not holding my breath for him to show remorse, but if he ever does, he'll be paying some heavy dues if he wants to atone for putting Charles Murray's evil crap in a magazine that actually claims a liberal mantle.

11:21 BST

Thursday, 29 September 2005

Notes on non-Democrats

Angry Bear actually found a couple of conservatives who were willing to point out some rubbish coming from their own side of the spectrum and tell it like it is.

At Running Scared, the suspicion that Jeralyn's non-hostile reaction to the possibility that Harriet Miers could be the next nominee for the Supremes might have missed out a few things. Citing Will Bunch, Jazz notes that Miers has a resumé that not only doesn't pass muster but includes some very creepy background. Hmmm.

Where's the outrage #1,364: Moralist creep and former Secretary of Education under Reagan Bill "Book of Virtues" Bennett says, "you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." No, really. On the air and everything.

Sure, I have a lot of wishes for the next election, but few could taste as sweet as Lowell Weicker taking his seat back from Lieberman. I even liked him back when he's a Republican, and now he's not. It would be like... chocolate.

23:35 BST

A crummy turn of the Earth

I went to bed early to get up depressingly early to get some cataract surgery and then it didn't happen and I don't want to talk about it. (This business about things being planned and not happening better stop right now!)

And last night Joe Vecchio told me that Cathy's illness finally took her. I'm so sorry, Joe.

When the alarm went off this morning I heard about a guy being removed forcibly from Jack Straw's speech, which was alarming enough. An 82-year-old man says, "Nonsense!" after Straw says something that is total nonsense, and not only is he ejected, but he is dragged out [video of manhandling], and then "he was detained under the Terrorism Act," on the grounds that his disagreement with Straw's statements constituted "glorifying terrorists", apparently. (More here.) My first instinct when I heard this was to call, Roz, but it seemed that it might be too early and anyway I really had to hustle to get to Moorefield's. She has something about it on her LJ but I think she's dreaming if she expects to see New Labour standing up for freedom of expression any time soon. (They have become so much like the Tories that even the Tory press is condemning them. That's almost funny.)

And then the Senate confirmed John Roberts with only 22 Dems voting against him (and no Republicans, of course). Naturally, Arlen Specter is bopping around talking about all the delicious bipartisan support there is for this nominee. Dems voting yes: Baucus, Mont., Bingaman, N.M., Byrd, W.Va., Carper, Del., Conrad, N.D., Dodd, Conn., Dorgan, N.D., Feingold, Wis., Johnson, S.D., Kohl, Wis., Landrieu, La., Leahy, Vt., Levin, Mich., Lieberman, Conn., Lincoln, Ark., Murray, Wash., Nelson, Fla., Nelson, Neb., Pryor, Ark., Rockefeller, W.Va., Salazar, Colo., Wyden, Ore. What a bunch of suckers.

And then, of course, there is this lovely piece of legislation that seems designed to make sure more innocent people receive the death penalty. Yeah, you can "streamline" justice.

So I consoled myself with a Randy Newman concert. This stream is a decent recording of a '74 performance with lots of his old favorites delivered live. "Louisiana 1927" is about 20 minutes in.

20:40 BST

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

A bunch of stuff

As soon as I saw this "explanation" for Robert Fisk being denied entry into the US I phoned the Home Office to see if it was true, because it has been my understanding that biometrics are only necessary for new passports, and the old UK passports are fine as long as they are machine-readable, until they expire. And, indeed, they reassured me that this is still the case. Indeed, the US embassy says the same thing. So, I'm not too sure this story is good. How is it that Robert Fisk was required to have a biometric passport if other Brits aren't? Could it be because he is... Robert Fisk?

Mahabarb has a good post on the that study referred to earlier about religion and violent or unwholesome societies: Religion itself may not be the problem as much as a toxic soup of nationalism, tribalism and religiosity that seems to be unique to the United States.

But also read Maha on the demo over the weekend, and Democratic politics, and the signs: Frankly, I think genuine liberalism has been absent from public discourse and policy for so long that I think today's voters might find it quite refreshing. Considering the younger ones have never been exposed to liberalism before, maybe we should call it something else and tell 'em it's a new new thing. I bet they'd take to it like ducks to a pond.

In an entry that lacks for "strong language", His Rudeness lays it out: So, to summarize here, the Strategic Goals of FEMA have shifted from definite measures of effectiveness in emergencies, including the responsibility to feed, hydrate, and shelter victims in the first couple of days after a disaster, to a business-speak that leaves weasel room for any screw-ups. To put it plainly, FEMA had been neutered by the Bush administration, dehumanized and made robotic. Is it any wonder how Michael Brown could sit there today with a straight face and claim he did his job? And when you read even the dry minimal performance goals, and you compare it to Brown's testimony, you quickly realize he simply didn't care.

More brains from The Poor Man Institute.

Is he Scary? Well, he always was before, so I insist it is still not news.

Feel better: Now, this is all assuming they don't stuff the ballot box, you understand, but Lindsay Beyerstein says we might just have a chance to take back the Senate next year.

And DeLay has been indicted. Crooks and Liars is having a contest to see who can predict how the zombie brigade will spin this one.

18:40 BST

Picking up the torch

I hate it when I have a window open and I think, "Yeah, I've gotta post that," and then I take a break to wash the dishes or something and when I come back everyone else has already done it. And then I remember that I don't blog for glory (although, like anyone else, I enjoy being the first one on something that everyone else links to), I blog to make sure you see the good stuff. And it's not so bad knowing that Atrios and DavidNYC had exactly the same thought I did the other day when I first discovered Pre$$titutes and I thought I'd watch them for a few more days to see if my hopes were fulfilled.

No, they aren't identical with Media Whores Online, and I still miss that, but Pre$$titutes does have the virtue of being more bloglike, which means I can link to something today and go back and find it a more easily later when the page has changed - and, of course, I can point you to individual items rather than just the front page. (Mind you, Crooks and Liars has been very useful, in ways that MWO wasn't, in not just watching televised media, but often actually showing us the clips.)

One of the stories I was about to link once I did the dishes was the same one DavidNYC linked, about the current winger spin on Katrina, Who You Gonna Believe, Me Or Your Lying Eyes? - about how the "MSM" made up the whole disaster. But I also wanted to draw your attention to Posse Comitatus Act And The Media, which cites Undernews:

[This Washington Post article] is an example of the how the media, without even thinking about it, propels bad ideas into the public consciousness. The closest the Post comes to dealing with the enormous implications of this proposal is to trivialize support of the constitution and democracy as a "sensitivity," sort of like Muslims wearing scarves or some people not being able to eat peanuts.
(And I keep wondering why this issue hasn't raised more ire, or at least more discussion.)

I'll have to keep an eye on Undernews, too.

I definitely like Pre$$titutes and intend to keep an eye on them, but I still miss the personality of MWO, which had a very different tone and a strange ability to get my adrenalin working. And I'd very much like to know what happened to its creator (although not enough to see her outed). But welcome to the new kid on the block.

Oh, yeah, there is one other significant difference between Pre$$titutes and MWO.

15:46 BST

All the wars at once

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' says The Times: RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today. I haven't read the study, of course, but that result certainly tracks closely with everything we know about this stuff, if you're talking about repressive religious beliefs. (They don't mention sex crime, which tracks strongly with a repressive religious background.) Via Shakespeare's Sister, which notes that there's some interesting discussion of it going on at Pharyngula.

I see by a scan of UN Dispatch that the wingers have been talking up the urgent need to "do something" about Iran. Mike Whitney over at The Smirking Chimp says we might as well steel ourselves for The impending cakewalk in Iran: The UN's nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, officially signed Iran's death-warrant yesterday. By passing a US-backed resolution that refers Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council, the member states have endorsed America's genocidal Middle East policy and paved the way for another war. You know, Iran is a lot bigger and stronger than Iraq. Just how easy do they think this is gonna be?

Also at the Chimp, (from The Minneapolis Star Tribune), Conservatives adept at playing the 'hate' card: The left is not above demonizing the other side, but we don't do it nearly as well. Perhaps we don't have the stomach for it. The left has never managed to demonize the word "conservative," for instance, while the word "liberal" now rolls off tongues in quarters across the land as a nasty pejorative. Liberal books tend to target Bush, not Everyone Not Like Me. At the most, one can find an occasional title like "Why the Right is Wrong for America." Well, that's because we have different organizing principles.

It's banned book week.

12:54 BST

Something in the air

This is Dan Froomkin a couple days ago:

Two major stories over the weekend suggest that a series of false steps, followed by accusations of incompetence and growing public disapproval, have left President Bush and his aides with their confidence badly shaken.

And in a big change as far as the press coverage of the president is concerned, aides and allies whose loyalty to Bush once precluded even the slightest public acknowledgement of any weakness anywhere in his White House appear to have lost some of their inhibitions -- at least on background.

All over the place, there are articles in which reporters, having been briefed directly by White House aides, are confirming that everything is just a photo op, just the spin machine, and that Bush seems to be losing control, is out of sorts, can't get his swagger back as he haplessly searches for his megaphone moment.

And this was in blink's diary at DKos yesterday, about The Question No One Dares Ask George Bush:

"Mr. President, are you feeling okay?"

Because this guy looks like a freaking mess.

On CNN earlier, they were replaying the press appearance where he says that ... um ... uh ... Americans? ... well ... we can become better ... uh ... better conservators ... better conservers of energy for one thing, yeah ... yeah, that what we can do ...

Um ...



It was "funny" -- and by funny, I mean shocking and bizarre -- to watch this press appearance and to listen to the questions from the press, because everyone seemed to be in a state of stunned empathic embarrassment for the man.

The tension in the room was palpable.

And no one wanted to ask the question, the only question probably anyone cared about at this point:

"Hey, man, are you doing okay? Because you look like you are going to crumble right here in front of us."
Something is wrong.

Well, I'm not sure why this is news to blink, since anyone who saw him drooling in the debates last year should already have tumbled that Bush has some problem we're not being told about, but there definitely does seem to be something going on when so many people are spilling the beans. Is it repudiation time, or are they just getting ready for Bush to say, "I don't recall," at his impeachment hearings? As with Reagan, it will seem credible. And, unlike the senior Bush, this boy is already surrounded by his "Bubble Boy" legend that will make it seem credible that he was "out of the loop". (And what was that Enquirer story out there for?)

Consider, if you will, the fact that, whatever else they said about Bill Clinton, the wingers didn't call him a moron. Quite the reverse: He was smart, he was "slick", he knew every single thing anyone in his administration did and was personally responsible for each misstep. Bill Clinton was the Evil Genius all the way down the line, but when it comes responsibility time for the Republicans, Reagan and Bush just ain't with-it enough to answer questions.

11:08 BST

Load of links

Inquiring Minds Want to Know - Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed muses on the buzz around the Enquirer story about Bush drinking, and tabloid culture. He even gives an approving name-check to Jonathan Dresner. Meanwhile, Jonathan has posted an exchange with his Congressman over at HNN.

The Ostroy Report returns to the subject of President Gore, saying the previous post about it got a big positive response. (Check out the Gore's result in the Daily Kos poll. Hell of a thread, too. And Deborah White seems to be on the same page.)

Faithful Progressive writes about The Little President Who Cried Wolf.

In The Sydney Morning Herald, A nation of believers suffers a sudden crisis of faith: The United States, this great bustling, guzzling, achieving, self-confident, richest country on earth, is touched today with uncommon uncertainty.

In The New Yorker, High Water by David Remnick: On September 10, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson had lunch in the Roosevelt Room-the "Fish Room," as F.D.R. called it-with several aides and half a dozen ambassadors of modest-sized countries. Then he returned to the Oval Office for a routine round of meetings and telephone calls-a fairly ordinary, crowded day amid the growing crisis of the war in Vietnam. At 2:36 p.m., according to copies of Johnson's daily diaries, the President took a call from Senator Russell Long, of Louisiana.

Some people think you can't be religious if you find George Bush's professions of faith disturbing. (I say it's hard to imagine how anyone who's read the Gospels can support George Bush.)

Jane at Firedog Lake came up with a great caption for the photo of Cindy Sheehan's arrest.

Jeralyn seems to feel that Bush's next pick for the Supremes may not be too alarming - if, as rumored, it's Larry Thompson or Harriet Miers.

I just haven't been able to deal with anymore news, but if you want some, there's always Alternative Hippopotamus.

Not so liberal media.

More Adventures of Battle-Action Bush.

01:59 BST

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

In the blogosphere

Down in comments Lis Rib says that, "Several people have commented that the way ANSWER controlled podium access (and handed it out to less popular fringe groups) probably helped keep mainstream Democrats away," and provides links to two posts at Steve Gilliard's place and one from The Mahablog. Leah raised the same subject at Corrente. And I've been bugged about it for a long time: Why the hell does everyone wait for ANSWER to get demonstrations going? Why don't people plan actions without them, get the permits, and insist on having an anti-war demo that's an anti-war demo instead of an every-view-that's-called-left-wing demo? And yes, I realize that even ANSWER is not as crazy as the Republican leadership, but come on.

Bill Scher's Sunday Talkshow Breakdown sure makes one thing clear: McCain ain't no straight-talker. But then, we knew that.

Arianna on the disturbing case of Abdul Amir Younes Hussein, the cameraman who has been kidnapped by U.S. forces in Iraq - well, I've been thinking "Kafka" for a long time now, about the whole "detention of enemy combatants" thing, but it's pretty clear that the folks at the top really are hostile to the press. Really. (Also, Arianna has a nice take-down of Russert on her regular Russert Watch item.)

Also at the HuffPo, Andrew Gumble on Cathy Cox's Diebold mess in Georgia.

Julie Saltman reviews a really creepy book being marketed for children.

Pete Townshend is back to work on his autobiography, and has posted a bit on his site.

Great sign. Too bad about the rest of the story.

21:28 BST

Under the politics

Leftist Boddhisatva has found a lovely quote on straw man arguments from Jack*:

Imagine two professional wrestlers getting ready for a bout. We'll call them Lefty and Righteous. In his pre-game event Lefty pumps up his fans by telling jokes about Righteous and making fun of his past fights. Humiliated, Righteous has a life-sized straw effigy made of Lefty which he takes to his fan event, and he brings down the house by pointing out all the weaknesses and flaws in his straw mock-up. The night of the big fight arrives and the excited fans are a bit surprised to see Righteous dragging the straw man into the ring with him. They are quite taken aback as the bell rings and Righteous body-slams the doll, ignoring his flesh and blood opponent, but they are driven to astonishment as Righteous breaks the dummy's little matchstick arms and legs and pounds it into a broken, twisted mass on the mat. The referee raises Righteous' arm and declares him the winner. Lefty shrugs, uncertain exactly how he lost, but vows to fight better next time.
Jack*'s essay is good on straw men, but I left a longish and somewhat disorganized comment taking issue with the examples of straw man arguments provided, which refer to a libertarian arguing against an alleged liberal argument against taxation. Maybe I've missed something, but I'm not so sure it's a straw man argument, it's just, you know, wrong. I'll be interested to see Jack*'s response.

On a related subject, Tiger Red at The Low Road found another political test. Interestingly, although the test contains no questions about the elimination of capitalism, it declared me a socialist, which I'm not. I guess a libertarian must've designed the test, since so many of them can't tell the difference between socialism and liberalism, even though that difference is great.

18:26 BST

The occasional gardener

I didn't realize the honeysuckle we planted against the back wall earlier this year would actually bloom in the autumn. In any case, it seemed like a good opportunity to play with my new camera, and then of course I realized that that particular plant was perfectly color-coordinated with the fabulous Sideshow scheme. (That's a detail from this picture.) The whole garden is surprisingly colorful at the moment. The coral rose, which normally only blooms early (and singly), actually has a bud going, and the red roses are still going strong. So are the white roses, but that's not unusual.

In the spring I managed to check an outbreak of blackspot with a vinegar solution, but now I seem to be battling some sorts of fungus that result in a white film on the leaves of the honeysuckle and pink spots on the petals of the white rose. And the other roses seem to have dark spots. On the coral and red roses, this seems to be causing corruption in the formation of some of the blooms. I've been using Rose Clear since I ran out of white vinegar (really hard to find around here), but it doesn't seem to be making any difference.

Now, the thing is, I'm not much of a serious gardener, and I come from a neighborhood where plants just seemed to be a whole lot better behaved - we mostly just mowed the lawn and trimmed the hedges every summer and never got mildew on the roses and the ladybugs took out the aphids and it all seemed to take care of itself. Suddenly here I am with the bindweed and the stinky thing that showed up in the spring that just keeps coming back no matter what I do to it, and there's all these things. We started off with a garden the size of a postage stamp and reduced it to a boarder by putting in a patio and it still gets away from me. So, has anyone got any suggestions that don't require massive attention, eternal vigilance, etc?

14:07 BST

Graft, corruption, and ideological evil

I can't keep up with Raw Story. I meant to get around to this one yesterday:

SEC chairman recuses himself from investigating Senate leader: Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox is recusing himself from the SEC's investigation into stock sales made by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, people familiar with the matter told the WALL STREET JOURNAL Monday.

And before I got around to that, there's Guam envoy to Congress calls for Abramoff investigation: The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, joined by Guam's Democratic representative to the United States House of Representatives issued a call to the Justice Department to investigate the [2002] demotion of a prosecutor who was investigating Bush fundraiser and megalobbyist Jack Abramoff, RAW STORY has learned.

But then, keeping up with the corruption in this administration is a hopeless task. (But watch out for stories about Frederick A. Black, the investigator who was seriously going after Abramoff when he was suddenly removed.)

And, of course, Michael Brown rehired as FEMA consultant. To investigate what he did wrong. You just can't make this stuff up. (This isn't just about loyalty. This is about the fact that Brown was supposed to sabotage the project and did nothing wrong. Why should he be punished? He prevented the appearance that government could competently help poor people, which is what they have intended all along.)

11:57 BST

The war at home

Interesting. Stars & Stripes described the anti-war demonstration as "huge" and said: Organizers had predicted 100,000; the D.C. police chief was quoted as saying "they probably hit that." By midafternoon they were estimating that 250,000 people had showed up.

The Dyke Squad hears the sound of democracy.

Meanwhile, Frank Rich almost gets there on the cronyism and nepotism of the administration, but for some reason also says:

As for the Democrats, they are nonpareil at posturing about the unstoppable nomination of John Roberts - a conservative, to be sure, but the rare Bush nominee who seems both qualified for his job and unsullied by ethical blemishes.
Doesn't this guy read the news? (And, by the way, does he still think Oliver in Love Story was not partially based on Gore?) Jerk. Via TBogg.

10:38 BST


Dig this snarky article in The New York Post:

Clinton ratchets up her attacks on Presi dent Bush, some Democrats think they smell an explanation: the threat of a 2008 Al Gore presidential bid that could come at her from the left on Iraq.

The former vice president is suddenly re-emerging as a vocal and visible Bush-basher - he's slated to star at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser for big donors in Washington next Tuesday.

"He's keeping a very strong public profile. He was the first major Democrat to oppose the Iraq war. He's keeping in touch around the country and doing a lot of speeches. You don't do all that if your goal is to play celebrity golf," says a Democratic fund-raiser.

Well, you might do it if you just saw the rest of the Dems have been too gutless to speak up. Wouldn't any of us?
It's one thing for Clinton to contemplate a 2008 anti-war foe like little-known Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.). It's quite another to face the MoveOn darling who won the popular vote against George W. Bush (and the election as many Dems see it).
Especially since Feingold has been another lie-down guy on too many issues, Mr. "Anyone the prez nominates, we should confirm."

And here's an amusing bit of data at the end, for anyone who thinks caving in on reproductive freedom is a vote-winner:

A telephone survey by asked likely GOP primary voters to pick their 2008 choice, and then asked whom they'd pick if they knew that Giuliani is pro-choice and has been married three times. There was little change.

In the first round, it was Giuliani 31 percent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) 28 and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 19. After the points about Giuliani were added to the question, it was Giuliani 31, McCain 31 and Rice 18.

Via Wayne Uff at Bad Attitudes, who also reminds us of another reason to want Gore as our candidate - because the rest of 'em are a mess.

01:44 BST

A few things

I just watched the first half of No Direction Home. It was kinda funny and kinda nostalgic.

Oh, and I have a neat new toy.

Carpe Datum: I think Iraq is permanently shoved to the back burner at this point from hurricanes or missing white women or whatever the story of the day is. Everyone is against it, but the media just won't talk about it. It's going to take some enormous catastrophe or morale-sapping event over there, the equivalent of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, to really convince people we should just get the hell out of there. At some point, I'd at least like the media to address the fact that we're building all these permanent bases there, which is just so depressingly stupid. They might as well paint the walls with big concentric red circles.

"Awwww, Dad!"

00:38 BST

Monday, 26 September 2005

More stories about fruit and nuts

The Seattle Times has a follow-up on the story of all the fake violence in New Orleans. (At the Superdome, after all the tales of slit throats and hundreds of bodies, it turns out there were a total of six bodies, none of them the result of violence by others.) Remember, it was these reports of violence that actually slowed down some of the relief efforts and caused military rescue missions to go in expecting to fight "insurgents". I'm sure it didn't encourage the troops to treat helpless Americans like the fellow citizens they were. I know rumors are bound to flourish in environments like this but the credulous media that carried these stories were not helpful.

At TalkLeft, we find out who is watching the watchmen, and lo and behold, it's Bush appointees overseeing Bush administration corruption. God, it's not even news. Is this an improvement on having Bush investigate his own incompetence with regard to Katrina? Oh, yeah.

Also via TL, I gotta wonder how signs like "Cindy Sheehan doesn't speak for me" and "Arrest the traitors" show support for the troops. You know, I'd like to see a real rally supporting the troops, in which all the signs say things like, "Restore the GI bill," "Give our troops the right equipment," "Raise combat pay," "Fire Brown & Root," and so on. ("Tell the truth" might be good, too.) When 400 people turn out to protest against one woman who lost her child in the war, that ain't support for the troops.

Jon Fish has a column in The Daily Beacon, the student newspaper at the University of Tennessee, about a delightful exchange with Rep. Stacey Campfield after Campfield introduced a bill to suppress liberalism in the state's universities. (This is the same white crackpot who applied to join the black caucus.) Another fine example of the intellectual rigor of conservatives, and why it really does have no legitimate place at an institution of higher learning. From The General, of course.

Oh, for God's sake!

20:29 BST

I saw this

Get it here. Via Tild~, source of many fine visuals.

Jean Carnahan: Republicans who still have a modicum of decency are troubled by the Wimpy-Hamburger theory of economics embraced by the Bushies. The Popeye cartoon character is best remembered for the line: "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." Economics 101 taught us that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Somebody pays. In the Bush administration, that is all hooey. Nobody pays. At least nobody pays today. You want to leave something to your kids? How about a nice chunk of national debt to keep their noses to the grindstone.

Arthur C. Clarke is in The Times and seems to be suggesting that we started for the moon too early, but now is about the right time.

Robert Novak says the GOP is in turmoil, although it doesn't really look like that much turmoil to me when most of them are in lockstep and only a tiny handful are trying to hang on to principle (and catching hell for it). (via)

Catholic gays (and liberals, for that matter) should remember that Benny the Rat is not on the same page with JC, who, in Luke 6:22, said: Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. That goes for these people, too.

14:39 BST

Blogospheric knowledge

First, as Steve Soto observes, it was Juan Cole, and now Billmon has turned the corner from thinking we had to stay in Iraq or it will get even worse to: We have to get out -- not because withdrawal will head off civil war in Iraq or keep the country from falling under Iran's control (it won't) but because the only way we can stop those things from happening is by killing people on a massive scale, probably even more massive than the tragedy we supposedly would be trying to prevent. I'm happy to see that these guys have caught up with me.

Big Media Ezra, recently installed at Tapped: Weisberg, bizarrely, seems to think a liberal unwillingness to make New Orleans into a Grover Norquist fantasyland stems from a fear that it'll work. Au contraire, it stems from a fear that it won't work, and that scores of poor people who just had their lives demolished will now be further punished by a regionally restricted Gilded Age. Liberals do not think this because they are afraid, they think this because they are liberals. If they did not believe conservative solutions would fail, they would be conservatives. And if either group, liberals or conservatives, are so unsure of their policies that they believe antithetical programs should be applied for the experimental value of it, they should really exit the debate with all possible speed -- these are real people we're talking about, they shouldn't be subdivided into control groups and experiment zones. (Actually, I'd be perfectly happy to leave all the free-marketeers on their own little island and let them experiment on themselves. As long as they were completely cut off from the rest of the world and had to survive among themselves.)

A lot of stuff seems to have gone on since Friday afternoon, like the quiet resignation of Lester Crawford as head of the FDA after only two months in office, because he said, weirdly, at his age it's time to retire. And then there is Cheney's experimental surgery, which suggests that maybe they didn't think he was up to the strain of normal surgery. Hmmm. And the fact that Bill the Cat-killer's corruption is being investigated. ("So this means that both the Senate Majority Leader and the House Majority Leader are looking at possible jail time, right?," says Rachel.)

Paul Krugman's The Big Uneasy is a few days old but Truthout has it. Maybe they will continue to do that. PKArchive now sends readers to the NYT link, alas. I don't know where to get his latest article, or if it will be available somewhere soon.

Katrina vanden Heuvel reminds us that Paul Wellstone said: "We Can Do Better": Wellstone would not have been shocked to see the poor and despairing faces millions of Americans saw on their TV screens in these last weeks. And while he would have been the first to deplore the moral scandal of such poverty in the world's richest nation, he would have quickly rolled up his sleeves to help rebuild America and the Gulf region. Wellstone understood that not only was it noble and right, but it was good and smart politics to fight on "behalf of good jobs, a living wage, good healthcare and good education."

11:50 BST

Sideshow Award

The other day Teresa picked up the story of the heroic reporters from the Times-Picayune who have been doing a hell of a job despite the fact that their offices were suddenly unavailable to them, and finding some great stories to boot. More than one commenter suggested these guys deserve a Pulitzer. Mary at Pacific Views is picking up the cry, too. Personally, I don't think the Pulitzer is good enough for them. I hereby award them The Sideshow Award for Exceptional Journalism.

02:05 BST

Sunday, 25 September 2005

More crunchy web stuff

There I was, a blossoming teenager with everything in the right place, and along came Twiggy, who didn't have anything in those places, and spoiled all my fun. OK, not all of it. But I thought I'd never forgive her. But, you know what? I love her M&S ad.

The latest threat to Homeland Security: Vegans.

Three women are fighting back against the recording industry's attacks on file-sharing by forming a club for the purpose. We should probably all join in and show our support. Even Christian rockers are acting against DMCA. And Steve Jobs is complaining that the music industry are being a bunch of greedy profiteers. Meanwhile, Matthew Taylor, MP, is speaking out against the national ID. He is, of course, a LibDem. Via Epicycle.

Over at Eric's place, one of my favorite Altercation correspondents writes again, and on one of my favorite subjects: Hey Eric, it's Stupid to glimpse into the future. History will show the most important (and tragic) neocon philosophy wasn't the doctrine of unilateral intervention but the economic philosophy called "starve the beast." And Barry Ritholtz is right behind him.

Who can explain the mystery of Bush's disappearing National Response Plan?

A cartoon - tipped by Helga.

23:47 BST

What I learned from blogs

Shystee at Corrente saw Tim Russert on TV and learns that Mr. Russert does research on the prestigious Internet to be able debunk important things like which day Aaron Broussard's co-worker's mother died in the flood while waiting for promised rescue from her nursing home.

Your tax dollars at work: KBR pays workers $300/month, charges US $3,000 per month .

Colbert King tells us that maybe someone will be held responsible for the death sentence that quadriplegic Jonathan Magbie received for possession of marijuana: On the anniversary of his imprisonment, attorneys retained by Magbie's mother will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the D.C. government and the hospital charging them with medical malpractice and violations of the D.C. Human Rights Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Via Last One Speaks.

I see someone else had the same suspicions about the otherwise incomprehensible cowardice of the Democratic leadership.

Any sufficiently advanced punditry is indistinguishable from bollocks.

Elton Beard's victims this week have been the much-deserving David Gelernter, Robert J. Samuelson (plus bonus Logic Check), and Max Boot.

Crooks and Liars has a video up of Viggo Mortensen's interview on Charlie Rose, talking about the disaster caused by the monster in the White House (and recommending a book by Howard Zinn). (Viggo has something that is almost a blog, by the way.) Oh, and how about a white guy in the black caucus? Sheesh.

21:11 BST

Say it again

David Podvin writes about Betrayal:

In 1965, the year following Lyndon Johnson's campaign declaration that an activist federal government must focus on meeting the needs of the average Democratic voter, Democrats controlled 363 House and Senate seats (57%). By 1976, the party had begun a corporate-financed transition towards the middle, and Democrats had 351 seats (55%). In 1980, near the end of Jimmy Carter's centrist presidency, Democrats possessed 335 seats (53%). By 1992, after drifting further to the right during the Reagan/Bush era, Democrats held 323 seats (51%). In 2001, following eight years of Bill Clinton's "Third Way" approach that marginalized liberalism, Democrats were down to 262 seats (41%). And today, with the party so non-ideological that the voting public tells pollsters it stands for nothing, Democrats have a grand total of 246 congressional seats (39%).

There is an overriding reason that the Democratic Party has become the political equivalent of Betamax, and it has nothing to do with the malevolence of the Republicans or the mendacity of the media. When a political party consistently betrays its own loyal followers, especially in circumstances involving life and liberty, the inevitable consequence is an excruciating descent into oblivion.

Pound it into them. Really.

19:38 BST

Stops on the Infobahn

Among the many things Bush has done that make you want to smack him silly (ah, but it's too late for that, isn't it?) is his appeal to the public to donate money toward the Iraq reconstruction. I guess some people remembered that he already took our money and gave it to his friends, because that appeal doesn't seem to have borne much fruit. Let him ask Hilliburton to donate. Via Shakespeare's Sister.

Sirota: A new national poll shows that 9 in 10 Americans think the oil companies are engaging in price gouging (they are correct) and four out of five Americans (including 76 percent of Republicans) would support "a tax on the windfall profits of oil companies." Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) are both pushing legislation to create a windfall profits tax on Big Oil. Sign the online petition that is urging other Members of Congress to support that legislation. Got that? 80% of Americans support a windfall profit tax on Big Oil. Two Democrats (two!) are proposing it. Where's the noise?

Tim has the Weekly church-related crime update from Bobo's World. Pretty much what you'd expect, ranging from a pastor writing bad checks to assorted incidents of sexual assault and even a murder. Oh, those Heartland values!

Linkmeister: When you hear Newt Gingrich sounding like a reasonable individual, you know one of two things: either you've drifted way right, or his party has gone off and left him. (See, most conservatives don't really want to teach a man to fish.)

If you've been seeing the quotations from Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" and you've never heard it, he's got the live performance he did for the Katrina telethon, Shelter from the Storm, linked at his site. Unfortunately, although the sound quality of the performance is okay, there's a maddening amount of drop-out. (He also links to some other of his performances, at least one of which is uninterrupted, but though it has several old favorites, does not include "Louisiana 1927". I haven't listened to the others, yet.)

16:46 BST

Dem Dems

Where are they? The majority of Americans want out of Iraq (whether they march or not), and the Democratic leadership won't even talk about it. Where are they?

The only Democratic officeholders who plan to address the rally are Reps. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and John Conyers of Michigan.

Today's leading Democrats head a party divided over the war, and many leaders are wary of standing with anti-war activists, who represent much of the party's base. The divide between anti-war activists and Democratic leaders underscores a challenge the party faces in the 2006 congressional elections and beyond. Some activists say that Democrats such as Clinton and Kerry who criticize the war but refuse to demand a timetable for withdrawal are effectively supporting the status quo - and may not merit future support.

En route to Washington for the rally, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan protested outside Clinton's New York office. "She knows that the war is a lie, but she is waiting for the right time to say it," Sheehan told about 500 cheering supporters. "You say it or you are losing your job."

Spokesmen for the Democrats who are skipping the anti-war event all said they had schedule conflicts. But some leading anti-war activists aren't buying it.

"There are a lot of people here who are wondering, where are the Democrats?" said Tom Andrews, a former Democratic House member from Maine who's now the national director of Win Without War, one of several groups that are organizing three days of protests against the war in Washington starting Saturday.

"The Democratic Party has an identity crisis on this issue. We need voices. We need leadership," Andrews said. "But fear is driving them."

Fear. What, are they afraid the right-wingers won't respect them? Too late! Are they afraid Karl Rove will release falsehoods about them (or maybe even a few real skeletons)? Do they really think appeasement will stop him? Are they worried that the wingers might send them some more anthrax? That might be a realistic fear, at least.

If they really believe in God, maybe they should start worrying about their immortal souls, because you can't just ignore things like this for very long without it blackening you. (Link via James Wagner, who also links to some first-person reporting from Houston.)

Maybe they think nothing was happening in Washington. Maybe they somehow forgot to have someone look at the polls for them. Who do they think they are appealing to by not speaking out against the occupation?

Something else that pisses me off about this is that by allowing people like Conyers and Waters to be the sole voices on these mainstream issues, they are simultaneously marginalizing both those issues and the Black Caucus. It doesn't matter how sensible and responsible they are, black members of Congress are made to look like loony fringe types, even when they are voicing the concerns of the vast majority of Americans. What are they trying to tell us? That every single person in America who isn't either a die-hard Bush-worshipper or a member of the DLC is a crazy fringe nut? Where does "mainstream" come into all this? Is it poor form to be black and actually try to speak up? Are issues of concern to blacks not also important to whites? Should we take for granted that black legislators are not worthy of our respect?

We need to call them on stuff like this. Pandering to the right-wing, on these issues, on reproductive freedom, or anything else, is not going to win them votes. It will, as always, lose them votes. So we need to get it across to them that they have to cut it out. They've been doing this for far too long.

13:54 BST

Saturday, 24 September 2005

A little thing

I didn't get around to reading it 'til I had it tonight on paper, but Frank Rich's Message: I Care About the Black Folks reminded me of an irony I'd forgotten about:

Like his father before him, Mr. Bush has squandered the huge store of political capital he won in a war. His Thursday-night invocation of "armies of compassion" will prove as worthless as the "thousand points of light" that the first President Bush bestowed upon the poor from on high in New Orleans (at the Superdome, during the 1988 G.O.P. convention).
If I were a kinder person, I might actually feel sorry for the boy king - he tries so hard to be better than his dad, but he either repeats his errors accidentally or, in trying to out-do him, screws up royally by deliberately departing from the old man's decisions.

23:56 BST

Man, it's been a long month

I think it's hilarious that some of the conservos really believe that the Republicans were ever fiscally conservative. They've always been penny-wise and pound-foolish. Their programs cost more money than progressive programs, expand government more, create fewer jobs and do more harm than good to the economy of the nation. Still, they believe - they just imagine that what Bush is doing is "liberal". Idiots. Oh, yeah, Jesse did another thing on race. I'm not tired of this subject yet, are you? Anyway, it kinda follows the same theme.

I see they've already lost track of the money they're spending on Katrina. Yep, it's Iraq some more.

By the way, let's not forget this thing.

Quid Pro What? Carolyn Kay looks under the roof (and has a great illo from Auth, too).

Also via Caro, Al Gore Could be Our Next President . Sounds good to me.

I've been cringing about all this deja vu, every time I hear all that rubbish about why we have to stay in Iraq. Your Right Hand Thief calls Bush The son LBJ never had - dog knows he really does sing from the same hymnal on the war, don't he?

Bruce Schneier says A Sci-Fi Future Awaits the Court.

With Randy Newman on the piano.

20:04 BST

Taking note

Digby is talking about fascism, and he quotes from an article that quotes from the list of its defining qualities. We've been there before, but these stood out for me this time:

10. Labor Power is suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
We can continue to argue over whether fascism is the intention of their policies (both in Iraq and at home) or it's appearance just the accidental side-effect of their (alleged) incompetence.

You wouldn't know it, but the Lib Dems are having their conference this week. What if the Party Threw a Party and No Bloggers Came?, wonders Kathy Flake. Anyway, Charles Kennedy spoke, and said some good stuff, and one blogger at least decided to write about it.

Actor Warren Beatty leveled a blistering political assault on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday night, accusing him of governing "by show, by spin, by cosmetics and photos ops" while imposing Bush administration policies on California. Via Suburban Guerrilla, which also reports that Independent Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk was denied entry to the US from Toronto Tuesday.

Kevin Hayden divines god's will. Via Elayne Riggs.

I don't know about you, but I'm a bit worried about The People's Republic of Seabrook. Fingers are crossed for Charles Kuffner, too.

I hate to pander to your disgusting perversions, but here it is. (via)

12:30 BST

On the blog

Lately, the media has decided to respond to the fact that the war is unpopular in this country (and will be extremely hard to finance, come the next supplemental) by posing the rhetorical question, don't we have the moral responsibility to remain in Iraq? This is a sort of cruel joke question. It is as if Cortes were to justify the conquest of Mexico by saying, don't we have a responsibility to the Aztecs to remain in Mexico? The answer to the media's new concern with our moral obligation is that an occupying force that makes promiscuous use of air power on its occupied territory, razes cities Grozny style, and establishes interlocking groups with organized kleptocrats to pump money out of the occupied territory seems to have somehow misread the story of the Good Samaritan. I don't know how much more American charity Iraq can take...
-- Roger Gathman, quoted by Chris Floyd
(Of course, like Chris, I would never link to this. Twice.)

Maybe Dear Democrats is another one of those posts that should be sent to the party leadership by lots and lots of people. You could attach a little note saying something like, "I feel more and more like this every day." Via Ampersand, who also has an interesting essay on poor girls and pregnancy, and a whole bunch of interesting links.

MadKane did some short interviews with some lefty bloggers, available on .mp3.

Mark Evanier says Never Pay Retail is trying to track free appearances of those NYT columns. Truthout has Bob Herbert's Voters' Remorse on Bush. And a stupid one from David Brooks in which he completely confuses the criticisms folks like me have of the Democratic leadership, at The Independent Record in Helena, Montana.

Baby Octopus blogging (via)

01:32 BST

Friday, 23 September 2005

Find the way home

It's also not possible to understand why the US is the only first world nation that has rejected national health care and a robust safety net without delving into it. And it's not possible to explain these maps, in which we see the power of the southern based party having reasserted itself, without delving into it. -- Digby
It works kind of like this: Once upon a time, it was noticed that black people were disproportionately poor. It's not that blacks were all poor, or that there weren't plenty of poor whites, it's just that a greater percentage of blacks were poor than was the case for whites. People who cared about equality already cared about the poor anyway, but we soon saw a step-up in attacks on the poor that were clearly motivated by a desire to exclude black people. So we began to see an element of specific racism in the attack against the poor. Conservatives managed to reformulate the word "poor", and other related words, like "welfare", in such a way that they became code-words understood to mean "blacks". And from that moment on, you could not talk about doing things for "the poor" that didn't (a) get interpreted as being for blacks and (b) generate a response that was definitely coded to suggest that any help for the poor was really an attempt to get "hand-outs" for lazy, shif'less, stupid, greedy blacks.

Now, the thing to remember about this is that the majority of poor people are actually white. But resentment for black equality was so entrenched in some quarters that it was easy to get some people - even some poor white people - to go along with this attack on "the poor" in order to prevent those people from taking advantage of America's wealth.

The next step is to re-interpret any further attempt to protect the poor, including the working poor (as well as that group that has been historically referred to as "labor"), as a move against white working and poor people. And the people who are behind the promotion of that view, and who encourage poor and working-class whites to share that view, are most emphatically not poor. See how it works? Divide and conquer, and poor whites are just as certain to find themselves falling into an economic hole, losing unions, losing their futures, and making rich folk much more comfortable as a result.

Digby is right that we need to remember how much of a role racism has played in keeping all of us from having the same sensible programs that other countries have long ago learned are necessary to a stable and prosperous society. And we need not to forget that. But we also need to remind people that taking care of our people isn't about taking care of "just" blacks - it's about taking care of blacks too, because it's about everyone.

23:27 BST

Beat your head against a wall

In case anyone failed to notice, there's this big anti-war rally tomorrow. Once again, the people who have pushed the buzz and gotten their friends together to arrange to be there to be heard have nothing to do with the actual organizers, and once again, the fake libertarians want us to know more about the organizers than about the fact that millions of people are genuinely outraged at what more and more of them realize was an act of premeditated murder and plunder.

One reason we used to be the land of the free was because we didn't do things like this: The House voted Thursday to let Head Start centers consider religion when hiring workers, overshadowing its moves to strengthen the preschool program's academics and finances. But, you know, once you can hold people indefinitely and torture them and even kill them without bothering to charge them with a crime let alone actually try them, well, I guess that "freedom" thing is all over anyway.

I guess it's time for my regular bout of fury at how impressively the GOP is supporting the troops, innit. So, is the point of all this to make enlisting such an obvious death-trap, without even the gratitude of your country, that we end up with no military at all? I just wanna know.

21:35 BST

Assorted links

Echidne wonders what Democratic (or democratic) ideals mean if our brothers are so willing to discuss "compromise" on issues of equality.

Bush's aid package for Katrina's devastation is just another Trojan Horse.

KathyF in a comments mentioned that DED Space has been doing some great coverage on Katrina. There are loads of under-the-radar things going on that I hadn't noticed. For example, the whole story of how the sheriff of Plaquemines Parish has hustled to find money to compensate for promised FEMA money that never arrives. And, of course, more on the administration's values and Bush's war on women, children, and the poor.

Sirota: On Roberts, Who is More Pathetic: The Media or the Democrats? (Thanks to Helga.)

What if the best strategy is telling the truth?

In comments, anna notes that my reaction to the Enquirer story was not unique.

Also in comments, Lenny points to this article noting one excellent reason for Democrats to vote against Roberts: his demonstrated corruption.

An ungenerous pay rate.

You didn't miss the interview with Bobby Henderson, the prophet of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, did you?

16:19 BST

President Stinkin' Thinkin'

I admit, I was vaguely amused to hear Mike Malloy talking last night about the Enquirer story that says Bush is drinking again, but when people talk about how his drinking might become a problem or get out of control I just think, "What's the difference? How could he be worse?" And then I see all these people saying things like:

The war in Iraq, the loss of American lives, has deeply affected him. He takes every soldier's life personally. It has left him emotionally drained.
Well, come on, do you believe that? Is this whole story just a scam to make us think he cares? Maybe he's just been drinking for a lot longer than they're saying and this whole business about how he was caught having a shot is just a disguise.

02:18 BST

Thursday, 22 September 2005

All the news in bits

Feinstein voting no: Feinstein, the committee's only woman, said her vote was decided after Roberts refused to fully answer her and other Democrats' questions in his confirmation hearing last week. Nice to know she's good for something. Not much, of course. The WaPo has live video coverage on their site.

Bill Frist is a criminal, and "blind trust" isn't meant to blind them, it's meant to blind you. What a damn scam.

The GAO says: The Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the fight against terrorism, limiting Congress's ability to oversee spending, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released yesterday. Oh, that's just lovely. Via Big Media Matt.

Via Atrios, I see Limbaugh is not only reviving the old "Hillary killed Vince Foster" story, but even claiming that Cindy Sheehan is gonna get it if she keeps criticizing the good Senator - and that her arrest interruption the other day was Hillary's revenge. (On the other hand, Dead whistle blowers.)

Phil Donahue vs Bill O'Reilly

16:59 BST

Under the news

OK, you really do have to send Bill Scher's Chief Justice Roberts: What Went Wrong to every Dem in the Senate, so that maybe they will get the message and get on top of the next one. (And I know I already said this, but The Rude One says it with so much more vigor: John Roberts Is No Stealth Nominee.)


Taegan Goddard says Kinky Friedman is still trying to get 45,000 signatures to get on the ballot for the Texas gubernatorial race. But I don't get this part: But there's a catch. "Those signing his petition can not cast ballots in any party primary or runoff prior to the election. When the primaries are over, Friedman's volunteers can begin obtaining the signatures. They will have a little more than two months to get those signatures (March 8 to May 11, 2006)."

Via Atrios, The Stakeholder notes some remarkable connections between one bunch of right-wing creeps and another. Meanwhile, one right-wing creep gets a higher profile.

Last One Speaks detects a DEA sting.

This is kind of neat.

12:23 BST

Wednesday, 21 September 2005

News stuff

Read this story from AJR: Apocalypse in New Orleans: A firsthand account of how a small band of Times-Picayune journalists covered devastation and misery in their shattered home - via Wirecan.

The Washington Post has yet another editorial trying to make it sound like there is something ominous about the very idea that Democrats aren't falling all over themselves to support Bush's Supreme Court nominations. In Words That Will Haunt, they say that Harry Reid is speaking "dangerous words" when he says that, "The president is not entitled to very much deference in staffing the third branch of government, the judiciary." I'd feel more comfortable if I knew Reid meant this president, but how can you avoid agreeing with this statement when Bush has made such a habit of really, really disastrous appointments? We owe him no benefit of the doubt that he is making his nominations with his responsibility to the people of the United States paramount in his mind; on the contrary, we should take for granted that every move he makes is either intended to stick it to us or will do so in any event, whether it's deliberate or not. The guy has a track record. Only a fool would defer to his judgment at this late date.

Carl Levin is threatening to block Julie L. Myers' nomination to Fatherland Security "until he receives a secret FBI memo about terror suspect interrogations that he's been seeking for months." Judd Legum suspects she may not be qualified anyway.

Atrios has officially endorsed Representative Louise Slaughter, and I concur - if anyone deserves our support, she does. She works hard on issues that matter to us and she even has a blog, which you should check out to get an idea of just the things she's been pushing since the spring.

Josh Marshall is looking for a decent Republican.

17:50 BST

The process

It's all Nixon's fault: Suburban Guerrilla has a post you should read in which Susie quotes Dan Rather's recent speech at Fordham citing fear in the modern newsroom, and then a 1991 CJR article on the scam of the Newspaper Preservation Act, which noted:

The most graphic conflict between the NPA and the First Amendment lies in the procedure by which publishers apply to the U.S. attorney general for approval of a new JOA. Historians agree that the First Amendment was intended, if nothing else, to forbid any system of licensing the press such as had existed in England. Yet here in America, after 200 years of the First Amendment, we have publishers applying to a high government official for what is literally a license to operate a daily-newspaper monopoly, a license that can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the publishers involved.
Presstitutes notes that even Carl Bernstein suffers from the disease of False Equivalence, not to mention a little spin-buying. Is he, too, a presstitute?

The Republicans have one amazingly handy tool in their box: incompetence. They don't remember anything, they are out of the loop, they never seem to know things even if they are on everyone's TV screens. And it's amazing how well that works out for them.

Jonathan Schwarz feels stymied by the persistent lack of perspective that pro-invasion types have on the Middle East.

Bag News wonders what we are looking at when we see the Team Colors. (via)

Why Kathryn Cramer wants to block a Google ad.

And another good pic from Maru.

14:22 BST


Via Dan Gilmor, the news that major job-cuts have been announced by the NYT of a whopping 500 personnel. (More from E&P.) Looks like a huge chunk of newsroom people are going; Judith Miller is not likely to be one of them, which just proves they haven't figured out yet why they are losing so much of the public's confidence. Gillmor says:

It's painful to watch a business I care so much about commit slow suicide this way. But the financial writing is increasingly on the wall for an industry that simply can't figure out how to handle its challenges.

There will be a serious loss to society if daily newspapers -- or at least the community watchdog function they still fulfill, despite their well-chronicled flaws -- were to disappear or be disrupted while a new business model emerges. I don't know if we need newspapers (though I still read them avidly). We damn well need what newspapers do.

Once again, Cindy Sheehan is putting issues into the public discourse that so far have remained on liberal blogs: In an interview after her speech, Sheehan told the Voice she was "so frustrated" by leading Democrats like Clinton "who should be leaders on this issue, but are not." Damn straight - and so are we all. Not just liberal bloggers, but a significant proportion of the American public. A majority of Americans say they expect the Democrats to try to provide a check on Republican power, and they're disappointed that it doesn't seem to be happening. Eli reckons getting through to people like Hillary Clinton is hopeless. (TChris has more on the arrest of Sheehan as she was speaking, despite the fact that organizers had a valid permit.)

Digby ruminates upon media insularity and blogs and Karl Rove and other stuff.

Buck Mulligan sees The Ghosts of Tuskegee in the EPA's new human testing rules.

Kevin Drum says The Advocate in Baton Rouge finally got Governor Blanco's side of the story of the famous buses that didn't move, and wonders whether it's the straight dope.

Hunter at Kos is Fighting the Moral Decay of "Those People".

12:16 BST

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Basically visual

The art of Peter Max, and more, and more, and more. I love bright colors.

Capturenewcastle - some good photos of Newcastle, via Sore Eyes.

Pick your team to run the world (interactive thingy at the BBC site), via Isebrand.

I'm sure I mentioned my occasional suspicion that what this administration is really trying to do is permanently discredit conservatism. Guess who had the same idea....

23:59 BST


One big piece of exciting Washington news this morning was that even without John Ashcroft running the DOJ, porn is still the thing we most have to fear. Yep, that's where that $87bn is most needed. Blogenlust responds to War on Porn: I say, "Bring it on." Hard. Ooh, right there.

On the bright side, most of those horrible things you heard about crime in New Orleans weren't real stories. But they did their damage all the same.

Caro (of Make Them Accountable) tips us to a profile of this on-air scumbag.

Lance Mannion explains How to be morally superior to a Liberal (and it's full of good lines), and on the way drops this link in which we learn that liberals *love* abortion (and which also has a few good lines).

From The Heretik, more on The St. Patrick's Day Four and New American Gothic.

Feorag has an update on the Druid couple who were stopped by a fundie cop to be preached to: Greer officials have written letters of apology and has shut down its reserve officer program.

21:27 BST

Voters stiffed again

Helga tipped me off to this news release from The Institute for Public Accuracy on the critiques of the Carter-Baker Election Commission Report. Spencer Overton, who serves on the commission, notes that his 597-word dissent was rejected by the commission when, at the final meeting, it was announced that he would be allowed only 250 words. His full dissent is here:

The Commission's "Real ID" recommendation is more restrictive than the photo ID proposal rejected by the Carter-Ford Commission in 2001, and more extreme than any ID requirement adopted in any state to date. The Commission's proposal is so excessive that it would prevent eligible voters from proving their identity with even a valid U.S. passport or a U.S. military photo ID card.

12:14 BST

Fun with media

Hidden (but not very well) behind the new pay-wall at the NYT, Paul Krugman is talking about race. It's important to remember that when certain people talk about "the poor", they are talking about blacks. And when those people are hostile toward the poor, they are talking about blacks. And they actually would like you to forget that most poor people are white. Watch out for those code words.

Oh, by the way, you can still see Krugman at the usual place, but I used the PKArchive link because I don't know how long the trick will work.

Eli has his Left I on Wolf Blitzer's shilling for the White House.

Tom Legg wonders in comments below how many stories the NYT had about the outrageous censorship the administration tried to pull in New Orleans. Good question. I did a quick search of their archive and didn't find anything at all, but maybe you can. It's almost funny that, for all their alleged concern with freedom of the press, they pretty much ignored the story, even after CNN filed suit (and then won). But that wouldn't be the first censorship story they've ignored in the last five years.

Tom also posts at Daai Tou Laam about the odd little story we saw yesterday on the television news. Not sure what we were listening to but they seemed to be working not to be terribly clear. At the end of it, Mr. Sideshow said, "In other words, they staged a jailbreak."

Think Progress has proof that they really wouldn't treat a dog like that.

10:09 BST

In Blogtopia

The NYT, a Bad Company, began the week by telling us once again that Judith Miller is in jail for "standing on a principle" and even tries to compare her plight to that of Zhao Yan, another NYT reporter who has been imprisoned for the last year in China, for dog's sake. Booman has an excellent rant on this odious nonsense: The Times continues to ignore the true basis for her imprisonment, and in the process they themselves are acting as an accessory to this crime and a party to the continuing Bush administration cover-up. Too right. Via the lovely Skippy, who, as you know, invented that word.

Scrutiny Hooligans reports on Christians who are facing eight years in federal prison for praying. Strangely, there is no outrage about this on the right.

Lt. Tim Collins was an inspiration to his troops on the eve of war, but today he is asking our leaders to explain themselves, reports Susan at An Age Like This.

David Brin is Reducing Blame to Fundamentals : By definition, FEMA is the agency with responsibility for managing emergencies. Could anything be more clear? Can there possibly be a deeper and more profound test of confidence, than for a mission that was so clear to have been so clearly botched?

The Low Road explains Why there's no truth on TV and how much you can rely on your pension.

Xymphora goes over the various different stories of events that happened on that busy day at the Danzinger Bridge, when contractors were or weren't shot at and a helicopter that crashed was or wasn't a Coast Guard copter.

Kevin Drum reports on the proposals for election reform from Jimmy Carter and James Baker. He doesn't mention that most of the proposals bite and the rest are wimpy. "Electronic voting machines should make paper copies for auditing." Not paper ballots. "Voters should be required to present photo ID cards at the polls, and states should provide free cards to voters without driver's licenses." So, a national ID, then. "The recommendations sought to strike a balance between the parties' priorities. Republicans worry about voter fraud and favor photo ID's. Democrats support easier registration and ballot access." Only a jackass believes that this whole "voter fraud" thing is about anything other than trying to disenfranchise as many people as possible. Did Jimmy Carter really fall for this crap?

Max reminds us that welfare reform has a different history than the one we hear about.

01:37 BST

Monday, 19 September 2005

Notes before midnight

Parrot Cage: Face it, Bush isn't exactly Huey Long. All he can offer are Republican retreads, failed retreads. The Republican solution to poverty sounds incredibly similar to their solution for everything: cut taxes, torch regulation, annihilate wages, eliminate competition, and create top-heavy bureaucracies.

Scaramouche's Talk Like a Pirate Day post.

23:55 BST

Making it work

Peter Daou has an article up with his analysis of the influence of bloggers on the public discourse. He says that blogs work very well when they are in concert with the media and the party leadership, but not so well alone - and suggests that some way must be found by liberal bloggers to make better connections with the media and with the Democratic Party. Obviously, the right-blogosphere seems already to have done this, to good effect, and this has resulted for them in a "triangle" that promotes their views. He also says that the right-wing will do everything it can to prevent a successful confluence such as happened on the liberal side with hurricane Katrina.

But, he found, the Democratic leadership just didn't get the importance of blog content as opposed to mere fund-raising capability:

My challenge was to bring the energy, ideas, and attitude of the netroots into the heart of the campaign, and provide tools, information and support to the online community. I ran into two big obstacles, one of which was the tremendous amount of money being raised online. Not surprisingly, the Internet was perceived as a source of cash, not as a research or communications tool. I joined the campaign motivated by the prospect of hundreds of thousands of ready and able online activists working together to probe every angle of an issue, explore every line of an argument, act as a massive oppo research team and real-time focus group, carrying a unified and disciplined message online and offline. This was an untapped resource that hadn't existed in previous presidential elections and I hoped the campaign would harness it, but the prodigious fundraising capabilities of the Internet sucked up all the online oxygen.

The second obstacle, and the more serious one, was the unwillingness of Democratic strategists to heed BC04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman's prediction that the party that dominated the Internet would win the election. I had faith in the collective wisdom of the netroots - I believed that if the Kerry campaign truly internalized the confrontational disposition of the netroots, Kerry would win, just as I knew that if Bush channeled the fire of the rightwing blogs, Kerry could lose. And I made my case as forcefully as I could. Many in the campaign understood the new political reality, including John Kerry himself, who was very attentive to what bloggers were saying. But the natural antagonism of the old guard toward the new was an institutional problem and the marginalization of the netroots as a communications force, as well as the hyper-focus on Internet fundraising, hindered the online-offline alliance.

It seems astonishing that the Democratic leadership had not already realized before the last campaign how successful the right-wing had been at exploiting the Internet as a source of information and rhetoric, and yet here we are, still trying to convince them.

Of course, as the Parrys so often remind us at Consortium News, we do need to enlarge the liberal presence on the airwaves, and though Air America is doing well and having an impact, it isn't enough; we need a television network to compete with Fox (and now CNN) and bring progressive memes to the public in the same way.

But part of the problem is reaching our Democratic representatives, and maybe there our failure is that we are still trying to convince them by writing about it online instead of communicating with them in the real world to tell them that we find it infuriating that they are so out of touch and maybe it's about time they actually read the damn blogs.

Really, it's embarrassing to see Democratic operatives going on television to represent the party and they only know RNC talking points, despite the fact that the subject has already been taken apart and put back together by well-known, savvy bloggers who could keep them from humiliating their entire party if they'd just read them before going on the air. It's really not particularly demanding homework to read Bill Scher's excellent analysis every day (perhaps especially his weekly breakdown of the Sunday talk shows).

I'd also like them to be reading Atrios at Eschaton every day, where they can get a glimpse of how the process works for Republicans and be able to fight back effectively.

And it seems to me that the only way to accomplish that is to send them faxes and tell them that it's there and that it would really, really help them to get a handle on what's really going on. They're not getting it from the folks they hang out with, that's for sure. Hey, maybe we should find some way to become the folks they hang out with. Is it still possible to visit your reps? That'd be good. Maybe they'll believe these things if they have constituents telling them to their faces.

20:36 BST

Fannish stuff

For the first time in five years, I'm planning a trip home to the Washington, DC. metropolitan area (aka "Maryland"), before winter. I was hoping to get home in warmer weather so I could sit on my brother's veranda and drink iced tea and all that, but things didn't work out that way, partly because I wanted to overlap with a convention and see more of my friends from out of town. So, you know, if you might be around the Washington area this autumn, you could get in touch and maybe we could arrange to meet up. I still plan to sit on my brother's veranda (he even has porch swings), but I guess I'll be wearing warmer clothes.

Dave Langford has put up a new archive page for Checkpoint.

I see Granada is still refusing to pay Peter Beagle the money they owe him for The Last Unicorn. Apparently the more civil levels of letter-writing have born no fruit so they are putting it in the hands of lawyers.

18:52 BST

Important news

I almost forgot it's Talk Like a Pirate Day. Not that I ever do, but you might want to. In any case, you should check out that link, where Mark collects a few.

Speaking of pirates, David Broder thinks John Roberts is above reproach, despite the fact that he doesn't seem to support the rights of Americans. Broder apparently supports the belief that anyone has a right to be a Supreme Court Justice if nominated by a Republican. E.J. Dionne thinks Senators should vote against Roberts because he won't answer questions in his job interview. I think that's one reason not to vote for him, but there are plenty of others.

Hugo Chavez said the other day that he has documentary evidence that the US is planning to invade Venezuela. He said U.S. soldiers recently went to Curacao, an island off Venezuela's northwest coast. He described as a "lie" the official U.S. explanation that they visited Curacao for rest and recreation. "They were doing movements. They were doing maneuvers," Chavez said, speaking through a translator. (Full transcript.) On Sunday he was preaching the Gospels at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in Manhattan. I just heard on the news, however, that he is "moderating" his position and trying to make nice with Washington, but I haven't found a story yet.

John Conyers has written a letter to Alberto Gonzales asking for an explanation of the witch-hunt to blame environmentalists for the disaster in New Orleans.

The headlines are implying that North Korea has backed off on nukes, but a close reading suggests it's the White House that has backed down on its belligerent language.

The Independent has a story that could have been on the front pages of the US papers for a long time, but hasn't: What has happened to Iraq's missing $1bn? It might as well be a question of what has happened to the $87bn that was supposed to be used in Iraq. All we know is that a lot of money is ear-marked to help "create democracy" in Iraq, just as a lot of money is ear-marked to "protect the Homeland" in the US, and none of it seems to be used that way. And then a lot of people die and there's a lot of chaos. Where does it go? (Note that even this article blames "the US military" rather than the real culprits higher up.)

Via Atrios, Chris Bowers has an analysis of the recent Pew poll showing that support for Democrats over Republicans is really strong right now. Interestingly, it looks like the liberal blogosphere is more alert than the Democratic leadership is. Says Chris: Just like the Democrats in this poll, the progressive blogosphere is often pissed off at leaders of the Democratic Party. However, like the Democrats in this poll, it is rabidly partisan, and it isn't taking its votes anywhere in a general election for public office. Also, by overwhelming, two-to-one margins, Democrats do not feel the Party is standing up for its traditional values, a regular online complaint.

13:27 BST

Fruit and nuts

Conservative horror: Oh, my god, wouldn't it be terrible if a rich person died in spite of paying the estate tax?!

Paranoia Report: Wayne Madsen, who still doesn't have permalinks, is claiming (without citations) that it's really true: More revelations emerge that Bush administration is protecting Osama Bin Laden. Intelligence sources are reporting that reports that Osama Bin Laden is seriously ill and requires medical attention are part of a neo-con disinformation campaign to divert attention away from the fact that the crafty "Al Qaeda" leader is never far away from his ex-U.S. Air Force T-39 twin engine Sabreliner, bought in 1993 from the Davis Monthan Air Force Base "boneyard" outside of Tucson, Arizona. ... French intelligence documents show that in 1993 Bin Laden was still under "operational control" of U.S. and British intelligence. (One thing on the page I can confirm: Ed Meese is indeed still a pig.) Via Oscar Madison.

Tubesteak Messiah speaks; Pavlov's right-wing dog barks and foams.

In the Observer, Blair attacks BBC for 'anti-US bias'. What a load of rubbish. (Also: McCartney interviewed.)

Fiore: Petrotheism

But don't worry, even when we can no longer make cosmetics from petroleum products, we can still get them.

12:09 BST

As the frog boils

Last February I wrote:

And let's note something else about the Bush cuts, too: There are cuts in all sorts of funding to local first-responders. Think about this, now. Our police, fire departments, and National Guard are the ones who are supposed to be on the ground to keep the peace and protect us at home, but Bush has closed many firehouses and police stations and has sent the Guard off to fight unnecessary foreign wars. Meanwhile, he's beefing up a federal intelligence and policing service more massive and intrusive than we have ever seen, under an executive that is no longer constrained by any rule of law. Think "police state", people, this is exactly how it's done.
Now look at this story from USA Today yesterday:
After the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is questioning whether changes are needed in disaster-response policies, including repealing a law that prohibits the use of federal troops in domestic law enforcement.

The law dates to the 1870s. It was a reaction to the deployment of federal troops to former Confederate states to supervise elections and maintain law and order, known as Posse Comitatus. It was a practice that many in Congress were uncomfortable with because of the potential for abuse.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., head of the Armed Services Committee, wants to review that law to reconsider the role of troops in natural disasters.

Yes, that's right, conservatives were "uncomfortable" with the use of active-duty military on US soil when it was used to enforce the right of Americans to vote, because of the "potential for abuse."

Now, when the "potential for abuse" isn't merely "potential" anymore, they're eager to reconsider restraints on having armed troops in your neighborhood.

10:58 BST

Sunday, 18 September 2005

While I was out

I ran off to Cardiff for the weekend. I'm pleased to see that while I was gone there was another poll showing that hardly anyone thinks much of Bush's performance. (via)

Alas, the press is still rubbish and hastily trying to prove that they still belong to Karl even though they lost their heads for a moment and paid attention to Katrina almost as if they were human.

Conservatives continue to use *special* arithmetic and they have plenty of dummies to help them get away with this stuff.

So, no change there, then.

23:22 BST

Saturday, 17 September 2005

Good morning, campers!

Passionata's Caracas half-cup underwired bra

Bra of the Week

Bill O'Reilly's continuing obsession with inter-species marriages and O'Reilly pretends to be Judge Roberts. (I wish I could see more of that clip - Schumer appears to be about to say that Roberts is right that you can't ask him about something - cases? specifics? I don't know. But I don't buy this idea that you can't ask for details on cases that have been decided or issues that might eventually become cases before the court. Scalia makes speeches all the time about his views, and I don't hear people saying he can't say this stuff. If Schumer is defending the idea that we don't have a right to ask nominees for their positions, he's a jerk.)

Josh Marshall had an idea. A reader executes it. Also: Karl Rove at it again.

Condi Rice thinks people didn't go out for coffee under Saddam.

Susie Madrak learns that originalism isn't originalism. John Roberts is an "Originalist", but he's not an originalist.

Kevin Drum draws up a an accountability contract with America. Via A Brooklyn Bridge.

Music criticism

Get Your Flood On.

11:50 BST

Taking note

"A very serious problem...
one malicious person can change the outcome of any Diebold election."

From The Week, 10 September issue:

Oriana Fallaci is facing both jail and death, says Tunku Varadarajan in The Wall Street Journal. One of the most high-profile journalists of her generation, she is now in her mid-seventies and dying of cancer. She is also soon to go on trial in her native Italy for the crime of "vilifying" a religion. In last year's bestselling book, The Force of Reason, she argued that Europe was fecklessly surrendering its Enlightenment values in the face of an Islamic cultural invasion. She was not surprised to hear that she had been indicted. "I laughed," she says. "Bitterly, of course, but I laughed. Because the trial is a demonstration that everything I've written is true." The West, she says, no longer appreciates its own traditions, such as freedom of speech. "Look at the schools. Students do not know history! They do not know who Churchill was! You cannot survive if you do not know the past. The moment you give up your principles and your values you are dead, your civilisation is dead." If only she were young and healthy, she says, she would go into politics to try to reverse the decline of the West. "But my cancers are so bad that I think I've reached the end of the road. What a pity. I'd like to see the end of the trial. I think I'll be found guilty."
Freiheit und Wissen found Intelligent Design, which I found via Alternate Brain. Also, Morons.

00:53 BST

Friday, 16 September 2005

Things to see

Chris Floyd offers an expanded version of his Moscow Times article, Enabling Act: Bush Cashes his Blank Check for Tyranny: Four years ago, America was hit by a terrorist attack. Three days later, Congress signed away the people's freedom, writing a blank check for tyranny to a ludicrous little man who had taken power after losing the popular vote in the most dubious election in American history. Last week, the poisonous after-effects of this abject surrender took yet another sinister turn, as Bush factotums in the courts once again upheld the Leader's arbitrary power over the life and liberty of his subjects.

Wayne Uff at Bad Attitudes reads Michael Kinsley and concludes that we are dealing with The Blameless Generation.

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake says it looks like Fitzgerald will have to investigate the Downing Street memos and the conspiracy by the White House to defraud the public into supporting an unnecessary war.

Murphy's Law, illustrated. Via Over the Road with Trucker Bob.

23:46 BST


Melanie didn't much look like she was enjoying the Roberts hearings:

As a practical matter, I suppose he had to do this, but this is the most frustrating set of hearings I can ever remember viewing. Roberts' writings are pretty scary, but you wouldn't know that from watching this particular kabuki performance. I'll be waiting to see how the liberal groups respond during the rest of the week.

I've seen Nan Aron, Ralph Neas and company in action, in person over the summer. Talking points for the liberals haven't been nearly as effective as the simple ones for the conservatives. If the Dems buy some decent marketing help for this effort, there is a chance. Memo to the Senate Dems: you didn't change one mind with this set of hearings. You are hapless toads. You need a marketing summary of three talking points. That's it, America is not a country of policy wonks. You aren't trying to convince Bill Clinton, you are talking to the broad middle who doesn't sit around parsing legal findings. Tell me, in five sentences, why I should buy your product. If you can do it in three, so much the better.

Right now the talking points are all RNC: he's a great guy, smart, with a wonderful family. Dems, show me what you got.

We could apply that generally to most things. In the same way, Josh Marshall wonders why they haven't had more to say about the fact that even Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief over the death of the whole Cat-food Accounts thing:
But where, I have to ask, is the affirmative effort on the part of Democrats to make this attempted betrayal of the public trust into a cudgel for the 2006 elections? Where is it? I don't see it. And I keep up on politics.

It shouldn't be hard. Many, many Republicans who will be in competitive races next year came out for this disastrous idea, which is now deeply unpopular pretty much across the country. And with very few exceptions -- I'll give Santorum his due on this one -- they ran away like scurrying rats as soon as it became clear that the president couldn't protect them and the public wouldn't stand for it.

Their own actions and words convict them twice-over. They stood up for terrible policy and then they switched or ran away from their position as soon as it was expedient. So they're happy to sell out their constituents and lack principle. They're flipfloppers.

Are we only willing to win the defensive phase of this battle?

This is absolutely true. Why doesn't the Democratic leadership ever try to use these opportunities to make a case for the progressive issues that are right on the table? Why don't they speak up and show how these initiatives on the part of conservatives draw a firm line between what the American people want and need and what the conservatives really stand for?

Maybe it's because they've been as corrupted by their association with conservatives as they have been by their desire to sit back and get comfortable in their safe seats by getting campaign money from big donors. I really think we need to make those seats unsafe for them. We need progressive challengers in every single race.

17:36 BST

Under the news

I've seen this in so many places that I hadn't realized it was an underreported story:

In response to restrictions placed on the media covering the Hurricane Katrina disaster by New Orleans emergency operations chief Terry J. Ebbert and Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, CNN successfully filed suit against the U.S. government to protect the right of the press to photograph the deceased victims of the hurricane. But aside from CNN, most major media outlets have given scant coverage to, or ignored entirely, CNN's legal victory or the subsequent reported violations of the federal court order by government personnel on the ground.
The NYT reports, Detention of Iraqi Employees Angers Western News Media: BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 14 - On April 5, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, an Iraqi cameraman for CBS News, was struck in the thigh by an American sniper's bullet while filming the aftermath of a suicide bombing in Mosul. As he recovered in a military hospital, the Americans arrested him. They later said the film in his camera suggested he was working for insurgents.

03:11 BST

Thursday, 15 September 2005


Jon Stewart interviews with Chris Mooney and Kurt Vonnegut. (More interviews here.) Via Mary at The Left Coaster.

Everyone is linking the photo of Bush taking notes at the UN - but the general has made an amendment.

Existence Of Poor People A Surprise, Says Bush.

17:33 BST

In the belly of the beast

John Roberts is not so hot on the law after all: When John Roberts answered equivocally Joe Biden's question on the authority of Congress to interfere with the military orders issued by the Executive, he was engaged in a Constitutional scholarship that is ignorant of the existence of the Connecticut Navy, the Continental Army, and the Acts of Congress specific to the oaths of enlistment and commission, from the First Congress to the present Congress.

I'm generally not that big a fan of Steve Bell, but this cartoon is heartbreakingly apt. Via magpie at Pacific Views.

Also at Pacific Views, a quick report on the Congressional Research Service's verdict that exonerates Governor Blanco and pretty much lays the blame at George Bush's door.

Bush administration promises speedier response to national disasters. Yes, of course it's The Poor Man.

I can always find something to depress and enrage me at TalkLeft. So, young people from all over the world have to decide whether to help the poor in Guatemala or in the United States, and "are unable to determine where the needs are greater." Surely only a Third World country rife with corruption would casually execute a woman against whom there was precious little evidence, just because she had a lousy lawyer.

And what's the point of a House bill that outlaws guns for misdemeanor sex offenders? Jeralyn says, "What is the connection? Violent sex offenders don't get misdemeanor convictions. This is as bad as the law it was patterned after, the Violence Against Women act, which prohibits misdemeanor domestic violence offenders from possessing a weapon. Both laws are attempts by Congress to mass-federalize state and local crime, and another step towards rendering the Second Amendment a nullity." The really weird part of the story is that John Conyers managed to slip in an amendment that "expands hate crime law to include some crimes involving sexual orientation, gender and disability."

13:52 BST

Barn door, horse, etc.

76% of Americans say they want an independent investigation of what went wrong in the government response to Hurricane Katrina, but when Hillary Clinton proposed setting one up, the Republicans killed it on a party-line vote.

Oh, there was an exception - the Senator from Louisiana didn't vote.

Remember all those supposedly "moderate" Republicans? Some of them made statements that, you would have sworn, indicated an interest in an independent commission, but when it really gets down to the cheese, they are all just partisan hacks. Look, you know they're partisan hacks when they can't even get Joe Lieberman to vote with them. Every Democrat and Jim Jeffords voted for the commission - even the Dems who usually act like Republicans.

The Republicans, who are all for a commission that they control, are proposing new rules that require all the things that were already part of the existing rules, new projects that are all part of the things that were already proposed after 9/11, etc. In other words, let's all just act like 9/11 never happened and we're dealing with the idea of a major national emergency for the first time in history, and pretend that we don't already have processes in place to deal with these things that we just haven't bothered to do.

(Sort of like before 9/11 itself, when we didn't appear to have a National Security Advisor to coordinate intelligence gathering and collation between the agencies, according to Condoleezza Rice, who the rest of us had thought until she said otherwise was in fact the National Security Advisor.)

John Aravosis says you should call the office of every Republican Senator and ask them why they hate America. He's got the contact links up for each of them. I think you should do it.

11:57 BST

Worth fighting for

The Rude Pundit: Katrina Proves Liberals Were Right All Along (Part 1: The Right Agrees); Katrina Proves Liberals Were Right All Along (Part 2: Poverty Edition):

'Cause, you see, if yer gonna teach a man to fish, ya gotta provide him with the teacher, the fishing pole, the means of gettin' to the river, someone to watch the kids while he's fishin', the energy to cook that trout, the tools to cook the fish with...
Part 3 is promised to arrive soon. I can't wait. This is really good stuff, and you should read it.

10:40 BST

A few more things

I was noticing comments all over the place all day about the reason for Bush "taking responsibility", and they range from tanking poll numbers to "Karl told him he had to" to, unbelievably, the possibility that he realized himself it was necessary. But Mark Riley said something interesting on Morning Sedition: He pointed out that Bush, apparently stung by the accusations of racism, decided it was time to trot out the black ministers he'd purchased with his faith-based money, and by and large they declined the honor, letting him know that his lack of concern for black people in New Orleans allowed people to die, and he still hadn't even expressed regret for the error. Being ministers and all, I guess they let him know that confession is supposed to be good for the soul.

Another thing I've been noticing is that people keep talking about the "two" big mistakes (Iraq and Katrina) Bush has made, and I'm kinda surprised, especially given the date, that so few people mention his earlier one.

Josh Marshall notes that, though he was invisible (and on vacation), Dick Cheney was on the job, taking care of business. Swiftly. And it's all a bit weird.

Rorschach looks for a reason why the punditocracy has finally noticed, in the wake of Katrina, what should have been obvious with the invasion of Iraq.

Michael at Here's What's Left offers this verdict on Bush's speech: Pathetic.

Scorpio catches CNN asking "one of Those Questions -- the kind that don't seem to recognize their own internal contradictions."

02:03 BST

Wednesday, 14 September 2005


Via Maru.

David Sirota says GOP Using Katrina To Justify Right-Wing Agenda. Yes, really, everything from Social Security to the religious right.

How you tell if it's racism - well, it is. Not to mention the sexism.

I don't know about you, but reading this, I couldn't help the feeling that Thomas Friedman missed some of the most interesting stories about Katrina - like the fact that people actually did show a sense of community and tried to help each other, but that they continually encountered interference from the authorities who were also supposed to be helping them.

Conason, Bush's Crony Capitalism Shows G.O.P.'s True Face: The obvious fact is that Republicans are the party of big spending, big deficits and big government, no matter how indignantly their leaders profess to despise all those terrible things. Yet the history of the Bush administration and the G.O.P. Congress makes it equally obvious that they're also incompetent at governing. So the question that Americans now confront is why these fakers should be allowed to waste hundreds of billions of dollars, adding to the hundreds of billions they have already squandered, when the results of their exertions are so unsatisfactory-and so self-serving.

Bill Scher has a big post on Roberts and his misleading answers, and assorted links on the same subject on his sidebar.

Julia - gee, cover-up, corruption, cronyism - it's another trifecta! I especially like it when the taxpayers end up overpaying for things they were originally offered for free.

"National greatness" madness - Atrios and others have written about this subject lately, but it's really worth going back and reading what Arthur Silber had to say about it.

Think Progress has the Right-Wing Myths About Katrina, Debunked.

22:36 BST


Steve Bates on John Roberts, quoting Thomas Oliphant on The stealth appointee:

JOHN ROBERTS is poised to win confirmation as the next chief justice of the United States because, among other things, he knows the law cold. But after one of the most near-perfect, resume-punching voyages ever to the Supreme Court, there is almost no evidence of his understanding of justice.
What an appropriate expression: Roberts "knows the law cold." "Cold," in another context, means indifferent, or even mean-spirited. The law is supposed to be impartial, not indifferent.
Allison at Blah3:
Dad understands that I am so better informed on many issues than he could possibly be that his advice is minimal on issues. He understands the process. The combination of my advisers' bringing me information, or the CIA bringing it-the president gets a lot of information.
So, in touting how well informed and up-to-date on the issues he is, he's illustrating his contempt for America; (see photo, upper right) He is saying that he is fully aware of the issues, and with that knowledge chose not to act.
Also, Monkeyfister has posted a link to the Bill Maher interview with Kurt Vonnegut.

Crooks and Liars, quoting from City Pages:

The Chicago Tribune reports today former Illinois Senator Peter Fitzgerald, who championed the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) to the US attorney's post in Chicago in 2001, is worried about "mounting political pressure" against his protege's reappointment to the post this fall. The former senator speaks of foes in Illinois who'd like to stop the US attorney's corruption probes; he does not mention the US attorney's moonlighting gig as special prosecutor in the Plame investigation. He's a Republican, after all. But the point is clear enough....
Fitzgerald is onto something or there wouldn't be this pressure.

16:37 BST

Buncha words

I keep meaning to mention Athenae's book, Special Plans, collecting various blog posts from various blogs about the exciting (no, really) subject of Douglas Feith, one of the most dangerous men in America. More on the subject at Body and Soul.

Robert Byrd made another speech: Who among us did not shrink in dread from the specter of our fellow citizens' bodies floating in the murky flood waters or stacked in hospital stairwells for want of anywhere else to house them? [...] If Katrina has any redeeming impact, it must be to cause us to see ourselves as others must surely see us.

John Emerson says Sulzberger and Graham are the problem: What I've repeatedly seen during the long debate about journalism is that journalists think of their failures and crimes as a kind of professionalism which laymen are unable to understand.

Nathan Newman says Roberts finally sorta said something.

Mercenaries in America: "When they told me New Orleans, I said, 'What country is that in?,'" said one of the Blackwater men.

TBogg read Powerslime so I don't have to, and look what they're saying about Mary Landrieu....

McClellan at Home. (You can't fool me - if he talked to his wife that way, he'd be outta there.) Via The Liquid List.

Links are a bit bloggered at Alicublog, but it's the post called MARCH OF THE MORONS and I couldn't help thinking that, you know, conservatives try to sound like liberal intellectuals a lot, but when you get right down to it, they're just too dumb to deconstruct even a simple documentary.

Simbaud on Bush's unprecedented "taking responsibility" (without actual blame or consequences)

Ray Davies on New Orleans in The Times.

03:48 BST

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

Stuff I saw

What caused Jeanne D'Arc to say: My bleakest, only half-serious predictions keep getting run over by reality. One of my first snarling responses to the murders in New Orleans -- sorry, I'm not feeling like doing political correctness today, and can't quite go with "tragedy" -- was that I was waiting for DynCorp to come in to handle security. My ambition in life, at the moment, is to manage, just once, to exaggerate the depths to which this country will sink, but once again, I failed miserably.

Bellatrys also has a bunch of good questions.

Perhaps the most offensive sentence in this George F. Will column is this one: Between such rediscoveries, the poor are work for liberalism's constituencies among the "caregiving" professions. But it probably tells you a hell of a lot about what motivates conservatives.

Media Matters has a clip of David Brooks admitting that the Bushistas are liars - as a policy.

Via Memeorandum, which has a new format I don't like, E. J. Dionne on the End of the Bush Era: Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush's government doesn't work. His policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not go on like this. Sing it, brother.

20:56 BST

What kind of conspiracy theorist are you?

I was going to actually set this up as one of those automated quiz things, but as soon as I started I realized I just can not be arsed. Maybe someone else would like to organize it to fit one of those things, but you can see where I was going with this:

You would say that 9/11 happened because:

  • Osama bin Laden and other Muslims conspired to attack America because they are just plain Evil. No one could have predicted such a thing.
  • 20 or so men, most of whom were Saudi religious fanatics and none of whom were Iraqis, attacked America on behalf of Saddam Hussein's secular Iraqi government.
  • Osama bin Laden and other Wahabi Muslim radicals wanted to attack America because they were angry at America's interference with Muslim peoples and US military presence in Muslim countries (especially Saudi Arabia), and they believed that retaliation by the US would mobilize Muslim hatred of America, thus allowing them to manipulate the Islamic world into a Wahabist movement. Due to poor performance in America's intelligence agencies, we were caught flat-footed, but no one could have foreseen such an attack.
  • Wahabists planned and executed it, but George Bush and his administration were so grossly incompetent that they just didn't understand the threat and refused to pay attention to anything they thought was so trivial and uninteresting. They are arrogant and negligent, but they really didn't see it coming. It is just a horrible accident that every single person who might have prevented it managed to screw up, and everything went wrong.
  • Wahabists planned and executed it, but George Bush and The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) saw it coming and deliberately allowed it to happen in order to capitalize on it so they could destroy American democracy and take over the United States for the oligarchy.
  • The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) planned it and executed it, perhaps with the help of Bush family friends in the bin Laden family.

You would say that invading Iraq:

  • was a noble cause that has brought freedom to the people of Iraq, who are much better off now than they were under Saddam. Unfortunately, the MSM refuses to report all of the wonderful things that we have accomplished in Iraq, thanks to the lies of the far left and the French who hate America and side with the terrorists.
  • was and is necessary to ensure that the United States controls the world's oil; there is nothing wrong with taking such measures in order to maintain our nation's supremacy. And we'd be winning if the liberal media would just shut up and let us win instead of demoralizing the troops and enabling the terrorists by questioning the president's decisions.
  • seemed necessary at the time because our intelligence services were a mess and it seemed like Saddam had WMD, especially since he kicked the weapons inspectors out - and anyway, they were tied to the terrorists.
  • would have been a great idea, bringing freedom to the Iraqi people, if only Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. hadn't been so grossly incompetent. Now it's a quagmire.
  • was purely a matter of politics and greed, planned largely in order to ensure a second term for Bush and a place in the history books for The War President, who just didn't happen to think much about the consequences in human blood, and to enrich a lot of Bush's fat-cat friends.
  • combined the PNAC project with Bush's personal ambition to be America's emperor, entrench the oligarchy, and not incidentally win Bush a second term and reward his contributors. It is planned chaos; the longer it goes on, the better they can consolidate their control of the US.

You would say that the disaster in New Orleans:

  • could not have been foreseen by the administration, but should have been anticipated by the people of New Orleans, who should have known better than to live there in the first place.
  • was the result of pig-headedness, corruption, and incompetence on the part of the Democrats in Louisiana, and the stupidity and laziness of the money-grubbing welfare leeches who refused to leave.
  • was caused by monumental screw-ups throughout government; both sides are equally culpable.
  • was not helped by weaknesses in local government in Louisiana, but patronage appointments and starving federal services on the part of George W. Bush are emblems of laziness and incompetence on his part that are worse than we thought.
  • is the kind of opportunity that venal corporate types look for - they figure it would be great for "urban planning" and take advantage when it happens. The Bush administration agreed with this once they realized what they had their hands on, and didn't think much about all those people who were suffering and dying and having their lives destroyed. They didn't plan it this way, but they are quick to see the main chance and they just don't mind.
  • is exactly what the Bush/PNAC types have been shooting for in all of their policies. They love this stuff. They were laughing and slapping their hands together with glee when they realized they were finally going to get rid of a whole city of Democrats and turn it into their own little playground - and more money for Halliburton!
And the categories would be something like, oh,
Believer - You'll believe anything the administration says is the truth, and anything else is conspiracy theory - or lies spread by the left-wing conspiracy, Zog, whoever.

Co-conspirator - You spend your time trying to find counter-intuitive ways to spin events that common sense already tells you are something else, to create confusion and provide cover for whatever it is the administration is really up to.

Stepford press - God only knows why you don't say what you know is true, but you shade things until even you aren't sure what you've seen with your own eyes. You spread the "conventional wisdom" with just enough fact and knowledge as to obscure what's actually going on.

Skeptic - oddly, you can believe in lots of other officially-recognized conspiracies, even when they make no sense, but if it isn't handed down from on high, you will never believe it.

Patriotic enabler - You may believe that the results this administration gets are evil, but when it really gets down to it, you can't believe that real, designed-in evil can ever be undertaken by anyone who isn't our declared enemy. (So, a bunch of Muslim ideologues can plan an act of monumental evil, but a bunch of right-wing American ideologues at the White House could not, because that would be evil.)

No man's land - Look, just don't say this stuff, no one wants to go there.

As with most of these quiz thingies, there are at least a couple of important, nuanced areas missing and others conflated (and I left out the people who believe it is a plot by the Queen of England or giant lizards), but even there, I'm not sure where I'd come down on some of them. Like Teresa says, it's really aggravating to be in a position where just about any thought or awareness forces you into some sort of conspiracy theory.

But, really, it's the results that matter, and what I know for certain is that 9/11 probably didn't have to happen, invading Iraq definitely didn't have to happen, and the effects of Katrina didn't have to be anywhere near this bad. So maybe it's all just monumental incompetence (and corruption) at the top, but that's bad enough, thanks.

(I didn't do the election thing because the list was just way, way too long.)

17:22 BST

One hot weblog

There is always so much good stuff at Corrente that I can never keep up. A few recent highlights:

Leah discusses how Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science ties in with the Republicans' war on America. However, the push-back against liberalism, against the Democratic Party, against various institutions that only decades ago had seemed completely mainstream, like public education for instance, and social security, the conscious attempts to shred the social safety net and redefine the social contract that emerged after World War 2, that rise of a hard-right conservatism, claiming to represent the center, but on the attack against every advance of freedom, democracy, civil rights begun in the sixties, the attacks on constitutional interpretations that date back to Theodore Roosevelt and FDR, all that does lend itself to the metaphor of war.

Also via Leah, a column by V.B Price (Vincent Price's son) in The Albuquerque Tribune, Depths of cruelty - How uncaring and brutally incompetent can right wing get? And who's left to pick up the pieces? Certainly not the federal establishment, which is criminally useless and downright nauseating. Who's left? Localities already heavily burdened with the sheer complexity of their back-breaking, federally dumped "unfunded mandates" covering most aspects of social life.

From Chicago Dyke, a post on how you've pretty much lost any foundation for the statement that, "It's a free country." And a link to Jose Padilla and The Death of Liberty: The case of Jose Padilla is quite simply the most important case in the history of the American judicial system. Hanging in the balance are all the fundamental principles of American jurisprudence including habeas corpus, due process and "the presumption of innocence". All of those basic concepts were summarily revoked by the 3 judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court. [...] Americans seem unaware of the great loss we've all suffered by the Padilla verdict. If the President is allowed to arbitrarily decide who has "inalienable rights", than those rights become the provisional gifts of the government rather than a reliable shield against the abuse of state power. It means that every American citizen is as vulnerable to the same violation of human rights as the men currently imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. It also means that the legal wall that shelters the citizen from the random violence of the political establishment has been reduced to rubble.

And Elect Us And We'll Prove It from Riggsveda on how the neocon nightmare has become a fact: All of which is calculated to wipe government as we once knew it off the face of the map, and render individuals powerless and ineffectual. Welcome to the Republican machine.

Oh, and let's not forget about Syria....

12:30 BST

Stuff I saw last night

Bill Moyers, 9/11 And The Sport of God:

Terrorists plant time bombs in our heads, hoping to turn each and every imagination into a private hell governed by our fear of them. They win only if we let them, only if we become like them: vengeful, imperious, intolerant, paranoid. Having lost faith in all else, zealots have nothing left but a holy cause to please a warrior God. They win if we become holy warriors, too; if we kill the innocent as they do; strike first at those who had not struck us; allow our leaders to use the fear of terrorism to make us afraid of the truth; cease to think and reason together, allowing others to tell what's in God's mind. Yes, we are vulnerable to terrorists, but only a shaken faith in ourselves can do us in.
Via Altercation, where Eric also assesses more of the performances we've been seeing.

Swatch It writes a personal ad.

Okay, this bites: Families of Israeli Arabs shot dead on a bus in Galilee are not considered terrorism victims because their killer was Jewish, the defence ministry says.

Why those buses were still there, via Greatscat! (Also: this poll.)

"Why does Bush treat every tragedy like its pay per view?"

Julie Saltman brings you the editorial cartoons.

I completely forgot that I wanted to see what the new design for the Guardian looked like in real life, I didn't even stroll by it in the supermarket or anything. This might very well get it a few more readers - broadsheets are a lot harder to read in the tube than smaller-formats. I guess they just couldn't bring themselves to go tabloid....

10:19 BST

Monday, 12 September 2005

Bad children need good parenting

I see David Brooks has returned to the sandbox and is spinning the party line again. Somehow during the first week or so of the disaster in New Orleans a few people, including Brooks, made a temporary foray into thinking responsibly, but someone must have taken him aside because he's back to preaching up-is-downism and saying that the problem about Katrina is that government ain't no use, so we shouldn't have much of it. Well, I can think of a few pieces of it we could do without, most especially the Vacation President and his little friends. Echidne explains for the extremely hard of thinking what government is good for.

So, how do we get to the point where government is good for it? Hey, I have an idea! Let's put a real grown-up in charge!

Gore's theme was based upon the quote from Proverbs, "When there is no vision, the people perish." He dwelt at length on the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina observing, "It is important that we learn the right lessons from what happened, or else we will repeat the mistakes that were made." Gore identified three basic lessons that the American people must grasp: the first is deceptively simple - Presidents should be expected to pay attention. The former Vice President recalled that on August 6, 2001, President Bush received an intelligence briefing, "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.," but took no action as, "it was vacation time." Four years later, the Bush Administration received dire warnings of the damage that would be done to New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast, if Hurricane Katrina kept to its projected course; nothing was done, "It was, once again, vacation time."

The second lesson, according to Gore, involves presidential accountability. "There has been no accountability for horrible misjudgment and outright falsehood - [leading to] the tragedy of Iraq." The former VP argued that this has produced an atmosphere, in the White House, where "there is no fear of accountability" for the Federal missteps surrounding Hurricane Katrina. Gore opined that the management philosophy of the Bush Administration has been dictated by conservative lobbyist, Grover Norquist, who famously boasted, "my goal is to get [government] down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub." Gore indicated that, as a result, the President deliberately shrunk the size of FEMA, rendering it "weak and helpless."

The former Vice President's third lesson is that Presidents ought to heed warnings. The Bush Administration ignored distress signals about Al Qaeda and the frailty of the New Orleans' levees, and continues to disregard warnings about global warming.

Now, it would help if we also had some grown-ups in charge at The Washington Post, too. Still huddled in their play-pen, they can look at the public's astonishingly poor opinion of Republicans (only 38% of registered voters express a willingness to vote for them) and declare that incumbents are in trouble. Says Eric Boehlert, "My guess is the Post, whose editorial page initially-and inexplicably--supported the Bush disaster relief, is simply not ready to publish a headline that reads, "Katrina Darkens the Outlook for Republicans." And that's odd considering that during the Clinton impeachment drama the Post seemed to never tire of articles that pondered the possible price Democrats would face come Election Day." (Oh, it was worse than that.)

16:06 BST

A lot to answer for

It's all about to happen. According to The New York Times, Senators on the Judiciary Committee are "keenly aware that they too will be judged" for their performance in the confirmation hearings for John Roberts. Democrats are worried about their performance (as well they should be).

You might want to write to members of the committee and suggest to them questions for Roberts. (You could look here for things to question). I certainly hope someone will be asking why Robert's thinks Roe v. Wade was improperly decided, and whether his position is consistent with the 9th Amendment. And surely someone should be asking him where he got the idea that a president is entitled to override the Constitution and the individual rights of Americans or others on American soil.

During the presidential debates last year, John Kerry was asked if he had a "litmus test" for judges, and he flubbed that question. He should have said that a judge's willingness to enforce the Constitutional rights of every person in America is an absolute litmus test for any appointee to the judiciary. Don't forget to tell those members of the committee that this is the way you feel.

12:16 BST

Monday morning round-up

An Age Like This says Norquist has weighed in. Oh, joy.

Jeralyn reports that Rehnquist was a dope fiend. She also tips a piece in The New Yorker on Bush under water. And it looks like another possibly innocent victim is slated to be executed in Texas.

An enormous opportunity

Oh, I love this - The ex-chief of the Metropolitan Police said David Blunkett was "duplicitous and intimidating", and now Blunkett has "hit back", according to the Grauniad.

Naomi Klein says reconstruction efforts will victimize Katrina's victims all over again, but it would be nice if it wouldn't.

Some of us worried way back when we realized so many National Guard troops would be staying in Iraq for the long term, about who, exactly, would actually be guarding our homeland. As Katrina headed for the Gulf Coast, MB at Wampum wondered about something similar. It was an obvious threat - but, strangely, this doesn't appear to have been a subject that occurred to right-wingers. It couldn't be, since that would be a criticism of the Great Plan of The Great and Wonderful Bush. And sure enough, giving voice to such considerations has generated some interesting responses....

Happy birthday, Scaramouche.

Dweeb threatens America - so dumb he thinks it really musta hurt Bush that thousands of poor people, most of them black, had their lives wrecked by Katrina.

Yglesias: The good news is that on September 24, there'll be another concert on the mall organized by anti-war musicians featuring some of my favorite bands. Until then, remember -- loving America means wanting to see thousands of soldiers killed in an effort to ignore al-Qaeda and bring an Iranian-backed theocracy to power in Iraq.

Twisted Barbie

10:58 BST

The news media gets an inkling

Well, hallelujah! Newsweak itself actually has a story about How Bush Blew It - and that's actually the title! Of course, it's still way too kind to Bush, but at least it acknowledges that he really, really wasn't paying attention. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed. Via Semidi.

And Time wonders if Bush is Living Too Much in the Bubble?

Bush has always said the presidency is about doing big things, and a friend who chatted with him one evening in July said he seemed to be craving a fresh mission even though the one he has pursued in Iraq is far from being on a steady footing. "He was looking for the next really important thing to do," the friend said. "You could hear him almost sorting it out to himself. He just sort of figured it would come."

But when it did, he did not immediately show that he sensed its magnitude.

Too busy looking for the next big thing to see it when it happened?

Of course, we have the usual nameless minions reporting anonymously that Bush was all engaged and in charge and making decisions. *sigh*

But wait! Even David Broder is finally admitting it:

For all the deserved criticism the Bush administration has received for its tardy and ragged response to the storm's ravages on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the long-term costs to the nation of the reckless disregard both the president and Congress have shown toward paying the nation's bills may be even greater.
Wow. Let's ask him if he likes the way Bush is treating "our house".

00:50 BST

Sunday, 11 September 2005

All the news in bits

Strangely, Michael Getler did not respond to my complaint about granting anonymity to a White House source that gave the WaPo a lie to spread when that was the story.

Robert Parry says the punditocracy is ignoring Rehnquist's Legacy: A Partisan Court, and After Katrina: The political crisis now confronting the United States can be viewed as a nail-biting thriller in which a harrowing truth slowly dawns on a community, as the threat builds toward a calamity. In movies, the final disaster is usually averted; but in real life, the recognition of the danger sometimes comes too late.

Well, what do you know, 9/11 didn't change everything after all. Pity the NYT couldn't have said so four years ago. Idiots.

Peter M. Shane and Reed Hundt say that John Roberts is actually worse than Rehnquist, and that the Democrats seem to think he's not.

Toles: And when the water receded...

Katrina Comedy Link Dumpin' with Norbizness

23:55 BST

Blogs to read

...while I'm doing something else. Found in my referrers or wherever:


Moquol Journal

Thoughts of an Average Woman

Delenda Est Carthago

Impact Analysis


So Quoted (which attributes the incompetence/malice quote* to Benford).

Birthday Cake

Phone Slut Blog

Maximum America (Ooh, that's convenient!)

Alive On All Channels

The Reaction

Atomic Razor

21:01 BST

Little pieces

I must have missed this when it came in, but I just found it in my inbox:

I have this idea, and I am going to do it. I think it would be better if a lot of people knew about it and did the same thing, but I have no idea as to how to get the idea spread.
On the 11th of September*, at 12:01AM I am going to take a votive (yahrtziet) candle, go onto the ellipse in front of the white house, light the candle and stand there until it burns out. This should be some time on the evening of the 11th or early in the morning of the 12th. I don't want to make a speech, I just want to stand there with a candle and remind Mr. Bush of the lives he has cost us. I will personally be fasting as well, like the people of New Orleans, but do not impose that on others.
Incident at the Superdome: One image he related sticks with me: there was some kind of high-strength chickenwire fence separating people from pallets of food in a Superdome storage area (I believe, it may have been the Convention Center). So people there could see the desperately needed supplies were there, but they couldn't get to it. And unfortunately, they were never able to. The fence was too strong -- and after a few days, the wire was covered with the blood of people's torn up hands.

"If it's true that there are no atheists in a fox hole, is it also true that there are no libertarians in a hurricane?" - Jon Stopa in comments

Video: George of the Bungle - Bill Maher says George Must Go.

Dr. Ben Marble has good reason to tell Cheney where to go.

12:07 BST

Saturday, 10 September 2005

Assorted links

William L. Taylor in The New York Review of Books, John Roberts: The Nominee: The most intriguing question about John Roberts is what led him as a young person whose success in life was virtually assured by family wealth and academic achievement to enlist in a political campaign designed to deny opportunities for success to those who lacked his advantages. It is a question of great relevance to Roberts's candidacy for the Supreme Court. (Thanks to Helga for the tip.)

How about a TV network for the entire English-speaking world, funded by just asking people for money? Is it crazy, or is it a really cool idea? I kinda like it.

Bruce Schneier reminds us that the way to protect us from terrorism is to focus on terrorism, not on the latest fashionable movie plot.

Animation from Peace Takes Courage: Someone's. Via Tild~.

Fine finger-pointing from The Mahablog and of course Paul Krugman. Speaking of which...

"When people do not want to play the blame game, they are to blame." - Jon Stewart. And John Bolton's UN. And this picture, and this one. Via Maru.

In other countries, they also lie. Via Epicycle, Michael Geist on a bunch of file-sharing rubbish, and Cory Doctorow on why the British government's claims for biometric ID cards is not just wrong, but pretty damned scary.

23:38 BST

Instant Message

Patrick: point taken about seemingly outrageous stories. i've had that sense too.
Avedon: Frankly, nothing is more outrageous than what we can see on the surface. They stopped help from getting to those people. It doesn't matter why. Any decent human being would have done otherwise.
Patrick: quite so.
Avedon: The fact is that, for whatever reason, Fidel Castro was more ready to save American lives than George Bush was.
Patrick: good line!
Avedon: I guess we've just written my next post. (Especially since I just had a browser crash and lost 30 open windows.)
Patrick: ow!
Avedon: I know it doesn't show, but I really am inarticulate about all this. There is just too much to say.

21:48 BST

The return of conspiracy theories

Down in Comments, David Sucher (of City Comforts) thinks I've gone off the deep end in the last post with my heavy quoting of Xymphora (and Dispatch from the Trenches). But David Yaseen of A Level Gaze, who originally thought it might be rubbish while conceding it had a certain Occam's Razor quality, is thinking again:

From the look of the NYT this morning, it looks as though Mick Arran might have been on to something. As is often the case, the juicy bits are buried between the lines, so a little dissection is in order.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 - As New Orleans descended into chaos last week and Louisiana's governor asked for 40,000 soldiers, President Bush's senior advisers debated whether the president should speed the arrival of active-duty troops by seizing control of the hurricane relief mission from the governor.
This is a red herring, a non-starter. Why would Bush's seizing control over the hurricane area "speed the arrival" of troops? Blanco had already asked him to send military help. I think that formulation may have been a telling slip of the tongue.
The debate began after officials realized that Hurricane Katrina had exposed a critical flaw in the national disaster response plans created after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the administration's senior domestic security officials, the plan failed to recognize that local police, fire and medical personnel might be incapacitated.
As the Times makes abundantly clear, it seems that taking over from local authorities was the one thing the administration unambiguously was prepared for. Why would they have spent so much time and effort on it if they had assumed local authorities would have been adequate to the task? How much do you want to bet this is a complete fabrication and that examples to the contrary will be found spread out over dozens of disaster-recovery documents over the next week or two?
There's more.

And this is the problem: We keep hearing these stories, sometimes only slightly unbelievable, sometimes outrageously unbelievable, and sometimes more-or-less believable, and we get lots of recoil from people who claim or believe that the stories are way, way too far-fetched, and then they turn out to be true. Anyone who followed the progress of the now-legendary Gary Webb story for The San Jose Mercury News about the CIA-crack connection has seen this before (detailed by Norman Solomon in Snow Job). What happened then, and continues to happen, is that in little bits and pieces, each "outrageous" element of the story, once decried as sloppiness or slander, paranoia or partisanship, turns out to be the simple truth. (And yet, somehow, the agencies, politicians, and news media who led the denials never seem to end up with egg on their faces - it's still the people who spoke up to tell the real story in the first place who are dismissed as loonies.)

Now, there are some stories out there that seem both a bit wonky and a touch irrelevant to me. Some are vaguely interesting in their own right but, let's get serious, the things we know are frightening enough. But it seems to me that if you're willing to dismiss these things too quickly, you're making the same mistake as those who latch on to them too easily. There is nothing unbelievable about the idea that the Bush administration planned to take over New Orleans at the first opportunity. And it's not all that far-out to suspect that this was a goal of theirs. But it might just be far-fetched to assume that Bush really wanted to save New Orleans. If that were the case, he could have done it. We are absolutely wise to wonder why he didn't, and whether the appearance of incompetence isn't just part of the plan. It's not like they weren't warned.

19:55 BST

Us and Them

Xymphora has been looking at the fetid underbelly of the story perhaps more than anyone, and not hesitating to name the disease:

The New Orleans hostage crisis

Note that the link is to the infamous article in the Washington Post, the one in which the Post reprinted the lie told to them by a 'senior administration official' (presumably Karl Rove or someone working for him), that Blanco had not declared a state of emergency as of Saturday, September 3, when in fact, as the correction at the top of the article says, Blanco had declared the state of emergency on August 26 (many feel the Post has an ethical obligation to reveal the name of the 'senior administration official', as any promise of confidentiality was rendered inoperative by the lie, and the fact of the lie is now part of the news). The spinning that is going on is part of the blame-shifting exercise by the White House, but, as Dispatch from the Trenches points out, has a darker purpose as well. Based on Bush's supposed authority to use the National Guard to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act, Bush wanted to declare martial law and take over the city of New Orleans. Why? Dispatch from the Trenches gives four reasons, the most important ones being the third and fourth (emphasis in the original):

"Declaring martial law would give the Federal government total control of the city: the Army would be brought in to police it and - perhaps most important to this corporate president - the Federal government would have charge of all the rebuilding contracts, giving it $$$billions$$$ to hand out to its corporate sponsors.

There's also the little matter of taking decisions about how and what to rebuild out of the hands of the people of New Orleans and putting them into the hands of people who see New Orleans as 'Sin City', effectively ensuring that New Orleans would never again be the Big Easy."

Bush used the starving people of New Orleans as hostages to blackmail the Governor into turning the city over to his troops so he could:

  1. hand out all the reconstruction contracts to friends of the Bush Crime Family such as Halliburton; and
  2. use his soldiers to control the exit and return of the inhabitants of New Orleans, to ensure that 'undesirables' - blacks and poor white race traitors who like living in a predominantly black culture - never come back so he can rebuild the city as an amusement park for white tourists.

The lie told to the Washington Post was just part of the pressure put on the Governor. Bush's plan explains why available troops were left out of the city when they could have been useful and were only installed as the city was being evacuated (they now serve as overarmed security guards), and why FEMA took active steps to prevent aid and aid workers from getting to the city. It also explains why the mainstream press spent so much time reporting on looting, rapes and murders, all in an attempt to force Blanco to agree to Bush's demands. The looting stories were almost entirely cases of people foraging for the food which Bush had ensured they couldn't have, and the rape and murder stores were largely fictional. The entire scenario was an attempt by the Bush Administration to make money off the tragedy caused by Katrina, an attempt that was partially foiled by Blanco's refusal to be blackmailed into handing the city over to Bush.

(Of course, if you want to be really paranoid - although I'm not sure there's such a thing as "too paranoid" anymore.)

Teresa: I have just arrived at a personal decision. I am not going to listen to any more crap about "blame games" and "not pointing the finger" unless the person speaking has first made it clear that he or she didn't vote for Bush. I want it explicit, and I want it persuasive.

I want to amend an earlier statement: The Democrats in Congress should not just refuse to sign on to any legislation on Social Security, they should do everything they can to block any legislation the Republicans come up with. There's a reason why they come up with big bills and insist on having them passed undebated and unread. No amendments, just laws and spending with no accountability: Congress has approved more than $62 billion to deal with the storm's fallout, and lawmakers said total spending could easily exceed $100 billion. Where's it coming from, and where's it gonna go? Not to the people who do the work, it looks like. (More here.)

Oh, and let's not forget this, here in the Land of the Free: A federal appeals court yesterday backed the president's power to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil without any criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. Expect to be at war forever.

Howard Dean says We need to make moral choices: The truth is that we have ignored the poor for far too long. And until it washed right up on our front doorsteps, we might have continued to ignore the reality that poverty has too many of our fellow Americans in its grip, and we have a shared moral responsibility not to ignore it anymore. (Via Making conservatives cringe since 1977.)

The Illustrated Pink Floyd: Us and Them. (via)

16:11 BST

Stops on the Infobahn

The Temptation of St. Nancy. Watch the video of the interview with Nancy Pelosi, and read what people are saying about it. The consensus seems to be that Pelosi hammered the interviewer when she asked questions full of White House talking points. But maybe not. By the end of the interview, something odd seems to be going on. Maybe I'm imagining things, but was the interviewer actually trying to get Pelosi to say what she felt she, as an "objective" presenter, could not?

Yeah, I missed it, too, Shaula. Virginia Nurses Again Demand Medical Cannabis. It's nice to know someone has their priorities straight.

Ben Goldacre in the Guardian wonders why there is something wrong with science stories. John Robinson at Sore Eyes thinks it's "about the pressure in all daily print media to shoehorn the facts into too little space" and general ignorance, but I don't think it's an accident that there has been a meme put round that scientists are just a bunch of crackpots and irrelevant nerds.

Man of the People: Once upon a time, Clinton got a haircut, did not hold up air traffic, but the press said he did hold up air traffic. Ezra Klein notes that Bush did something considerably worse when he went to a hospital for a photo-op and patient care was shut down because of his presence. Much like the way his photo-ops in New Orleans really do shut down air traffic during emergency operations. (You did know, didn't you, that ever since Bush has been in office, the air exclusion zone around him is something like twice that for any previous president, right?) Ezra also notes how deeply unpopular Bush has become.

And my thanks to N in Seattle in comments for alerting me to the current activities of "the 'irrepressible' Zelda Gilroy" of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

Just a note, but in my experience, smart men know how to dress down.

14:27 BST

Only you can save mankind

Scroll down at Altercation's Slacker Friday post for another letter from one of my favorites among Eric's correspondents:

Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago
Hey Eric, it's Stupid to be a Machiavellian. Who is all this Katrina criticism helping to elect in 2008: Hillary/Richardson or McCain/Giuliani? Sure, I feel the rage about this: the incompetence, the racism, the arrogance, all of it. But let's not forget that Dubya isn't running in 2008! Making this all about him and not the --ideologies-- behind FEMA's non-response will only land a glancing blow on the GOP. Maybe it helps win a handful of non-gerrymandered 2006 Congressional races, but it also might do for John McCain what he couldn't do on his own: bring the religious right to the table to broker a deal allowing McCain to win the GOP primary in exchange for God knows what (no pun intended).

Xymphora: The plan is to use the ethnic cleansing to return the city to Republican party control. Remember these rebuilding plans when you keep hearing how 'uninhabitable' the city will be. Apparently, it will only be uninhabitable for blacks. With all the money that is going to be pouring into the pockets of local bigwigs to realize their grandiose white plans, it should be possible for the government to fund the return of all displaced residents. But somehow it won't be.

Frogs and Ravens has a little list of why we should Impeach Them All. Isn't that enough? Isn't it? In the name of all that is holy, isn't that enough? [...] What are our representatives waiting for? Another goddamned blowjob or something? (Via Scrivenings.)

Bradblog: 'Impeach Bush' is the #1 searched term on Technorati today. (Also: Murdoch's Sky News Inadvertently Tells the Truth...)

Down in comments, David Bell:

As some day it might happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list --I've got a little list
Of political offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed--who never would be missed!
There's the lying propagandists who spoon-feed all the press;
And all the little yes-men who print it nonetheless.
There's the man who reads of billy-goats and plays his new guitar,
And the lady who is buying shoes (she's not from Manila...)
And all the Halliburtons who on fat contracts insist--
They'd none of 'em be missed--they'd none of 'em be missed!
And a real president takes action.

11:08 BST

Friday, 09 September 2005


See, the thing is, I have been on the verge of tears about New Orleans, but I'd been able to keep it contained. And then David Wilford sent me a link for something completely unrelated and the dam sorta broke. And then I went out, and then I was exhausted, and then I had to spend the day having some tests and consultation at Moorefield's Eye Hospital in anticipation of my cataract surgery, so I haven't had time or energy to post anything.

Anyway, it was this post by Lance Mannion, about how, until he died in 2003, Atticus still got phone calls from Scout, or called her, or even visited with her.

On other weblogs:

Ayn Clouter breaks character for The Drowned City.

The Heretik has another horror movie, Count Dickula of Chenylvania.

At Faithful Progressive, Bush Hits a New Low: Suspends Minimum Wage Requirements After Katrina.

Half Changed World talks about Growing up poor.

Digby: It appears to me that the lesson that the Bush administration took from 9/11 was that we needed to prevent terrorists from ever hijacking airplanes and flying them into the world trade center again. I think we can feel confident that that will not happen again. After all, there is no world trade center to fly into.

Skimble has been keeping track of a number of stories that have slipped below the radar in Katrina's wake, such as Enron story. Oh, and while I wasn't looking, we broke 2,000.

This Is Not Over says, Here's What Gets Me ... Let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he was being prevented from acting by bureaucracy and the sheer magnitude of the situation. Where are the stories of how he was in his office freaking the fuck out because there were tens of thousands of Americans trapped without food and water? Where's the story of how he ripped a strip off of somebody, demanding to know what the holy hell the holdup is getting water and food to those people? [...] I want him to have reacted like a person who happened to also be the president. I want him to have felt the same bone-deep sense of shock that I felt at the thought that this could happen in a large city, easily accessible by trucks, in a wealthy country. (Via Peter David.) Well, see, he was on vacation, and also he had this fundraising to do, and someone gave him a guitar....

23:04 BST

Thursday, 08 September 2005

Footnotes to history

You recall I've been saying the Democrats must not vote for any bill on Social Security, no matter how innocuous it sounds, because once the Republicans get it into conference they will re-write it any way they want. Susie Madrak points out that they have even admitted that that is their plan, and says: I wish someone in the Democratic leadership would pay attention to this.

Alan Dershowitz speaks ill of the dead segregationist creep: Telling the Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist: Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation. His rise to power speaks volumes about the current state of American values.

Before you blame Ray Nagin on the Democrats, do remember this: But it won't wash. Bush et al's utterly stinking depravity and criminality doesn't exonerate Nagin, a lifelong Republican technocrat who defected to the Democrats days before filing for the Mayoral race in this solidly Democrat town (it's perhaps no surprise that despite Nagin's outburst Bush doesn't bear him any grudges - Nagin contributed to his campaign funds). His rebirth as Rebel With a Cause is too little, too late. So. Just like Theresa LePore.

Pretty much everything else you need to know about all this can be found at Amygdala, Crooks and Liars, Eschaton, Cursor, and of course Making Light. (And thanks to D. Potter in comments for pointing to this Oliphant cartoon.) It all leaves me breathless and at the moment I just don't have the heart. I don't know about you, but I'm having a rather overwhelmed reaction. Yes, I knew they were scum, but I still just can't seem to absorb the fact that they made the decision to let these thousands of Americans die, in front of God and everyone, and there are people actually defending it on television. The press is still pretending this is not what happened. It's just "mistakes", and a matter of figuring out how these "mistakes" were made. These people have made the same mistakes over and over - they aren't mistakes, dammit. When George Bush says Brown is doing a great job, he's not just spinning, he means it. This is just what Brown was supposed to do.

Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed, get the DVD, which would also make a nice gift.

13:34 BST

"It can't happen here"

Via Atrios, Nancy Pelosi:

She related that she had urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Michael Brown.

"He said 'Why would I do that?'" Pelosi said.

"I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week. And he said 'What didn't go right?'"

"Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," she added.

Or maybe nothing went wrong. Maybe this was the way they planned it all along.

And that's the question I would love to hear the press ask these people: "Since you insist that you didn't screw-up, are you saying you actually planned to let thousands of people die?"

I just got back from a FEMA Detainment Camp: Jesse Jackson was right when he said "refugees" was not the appropriate word for the poor souls dislocated due to Katrina. But he was wrong about why it is not appropriate. It's not appropriate because they are detainees, not refugees. Via Tom Scudder's Journal.

Uggabugga has a Katrina timeline, and links to timelines created by others. Think Progress has also posted one.

David Horsey: Judgment Call

01:46 BST

Wednesday, 07 September 2005

Open windows

The Two Americas by Marjorie Cohn, looks for reasons for Fidel's superior handling of a Category 5 hurricane.

Crackpot racist Charles Murray is still trying to defend The Bell Curve.

Leonard Cohen is broke and a lot of accusations and lawsuits are flying around.

Steve Smith sees the devastation of Katrina as a nasty recipe brewed up in Norquist's Bathtub.

The Skippy Challenge is not only generating money for relief, but also got mentioned at CNN. Someone should buy Skippy that URL in a hurry, too.

Who Really Knows Who Shot Who? Why Are We Back In Iraq? traces the path of the story of the contractors allegedly shot on the bridge and tries to figure out what went on, both at the bridge and in the news media.

The New Orleans race vampires - David Neiwert on how the bigotry is increasingly on the surface of the conservative movement.

A Magic Marker for Tierney - Armando at DKos takes the axe to another offensive article by the NYT columnist who makes TBogg miss William Safire. See, Tierney thinks Bush's critics should stop "obsessing" on what Bush said and did. Armando: WTF? "Obsessing" on what the President of the United States said and did in the face of the greatest national disaster in the history of the nation is a mistake?

A little joke from Angry Bear.

Maria Farrell at Crooked Timber goes over some Myths about America. Via What Do I Know? ditches 'Big Brother'-style e-voting: "Past e-voting pilots in local elections have proved expensive and not delivered any significant increase in turnout," said Heald. Thanks to Dominic (of Epicycle) for the tip.

12:11 BST

Some big stuff

This article about trained fire crews ready to serve but being used instead for PR is infuriating on so many levels. "They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet." (You just know that someone, somewhere, is going to blame feminists for that.) But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas. Oh, and they want them to hand out fliers with FEMA's phone number on it. Via Josh Marshall.

And who will investigate the excruciating laxity of the administration's response to the storm? Yes, the most trusted investigator in America - George W. Bush. (Because he's a guy who can admit a mistake, right?) And I'm sure there are plenty of wing-nuts who can't even imagine why that is a stupid idea.

Gary Farber has a post on why saying it's not a time to be political is being political. And: It's now the time for both helping all the people in need, and for examining what happened, what we can learn from it, what we can do to prevent it from, as much as is possible, not happening again, and for making sure those responsible for mistakes and failures that were not understandable or reasonable are removed from and not again placed in positions to hurt so many people.

Stupidest Q&A of a nominee: Arlen Specter talked to Roberts, asking mostly pointless questions, gets pointless answers all around. Meanwhile, 25 Democrats are rumored to be likely to vote for Roberts - mainly because they are afraid of the fight costing political capital. (Who told them this? Probably Republicans.) Sam Rosenfeld says this is wrong, and Ezra agrees: John Roberts is probably not an unreasonable nominee for Bush to back. But neither is he a reasonable nominee for Democrats to support.

This post from Jim Henley has a bunch of libertarian hurricane links, including a Radley Balko post that purports to show the error of Paul Krugman's dissection of anti-government conservative policies. I think Balko is wrong, and so does Rich Puchalsky, responding in Henley's comments.

I see via Memeorandum that Joe Gandelman, unsurprisingly, has a decent post rounding up a lot of the appalling Katrina/FEMA stories: But is all of this criticism of Brown unfair? After all, Brown's agency did respond faster than OJ Simpson has in finding his wife's real killer. And that's important to keep in mind.

11:03 BST

Bob Denver

To me, he will always be Maynard G. Krebs:

The coolest cat in the history of primetime, Maynard G. Krebs was Bob's first breakthrough TV role as the beatnik-best friend of Dobie Gillis on the TV series "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis". Maynard still remains the most famous beatnik in history. Just ask TV Guide, who recently voted Maynard one of the 50 best TV characters ever! Bob was a school teacher and working parttime at the post office when he got to audition for the pilot for the series in 1958. After the pilot sold, the series started shooting in February 1959.
(Warning: That page opens up with the theme tune.)

But of course, some of you may not remember Maynard. You remember that other guy:

Bob Denver, TV's Gilligan, Dead at 70
Krebs, whose only desire was to play the bongos and hang out at coffee houses, would shriek every time the word "work" was mentioned in his presence.

Gilligan on the other hand was industrious but inept. And his character was as lovable as he was inept. Viewers embraced the skinny kid in the Buster Brown haircut and white sailor hat. So did the Minnow's skipper, Jonas Grumby, who was played by Alan Hale Jr., and who always referred to his first mate affectionately as "little buddy."

01:11 BST

Heroes and villains

Atrios has the full transcript, and Can OFun has the video, of Keith Olbermann's excellent editorial comment on the response to the disaster.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe.
And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection - or at least amelioration - against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been - as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be - whether or not I voted for this President - he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week.

Sean Penn was seen on television here in the midst of trying to contribute his resources to the rescue effort. Some of his crew came with him because they, too, wanted to help. When asked if he had some connection to New Orleans that brought him there, he said, "Yes. I'm an American." He had some problems with a leak in his boat, but in the end it worked out. Penn was, of course, scathing about the performance, or lack thereof, of the US government in aiding rescue efforts. The right-wingers, on the other hand, were scathing about Penn, belittling his efforts and suggesting that it was all a failed publicity stunt - naturally omitting to mention that in fact they did manage to get some people to dry land and took some to the hospital. (They also made a big deal about the fact that one of the people who came along to help was Penn's personal photographer, as if the man might not simply have had the human impulse to do his part to help.)

Of course, everybody's hero is Deamonte Love, the six-year-old who took care of a baby and a few other little kids when they were separate from their mothers. (Via TalkLeft.)

Slithy Toves: I can't really discuss the Hurricane aftermath rationally. I go from zero to blinding frothing outrage in no time.

00:45 BST

Tuesday, 06 September 2005

The damage

At Daily Kos, goldberry hears from Mom:

So, my mother is (or was) a right wing fundagelical Bush worshipper - until Katrina. Actually, we have Fox news to thank for her recent conversion.

She called me this afternoon nearly in tears. She said she couldn't stand it any more. All the images of people suffering and dying really got to her. She remembered wistfully the time I took her to New Orleans with me for an ACS convention. She remembered the lovely old hotel we stayed at in the French Quarter, the sin she committed when i took her to Commander's Palace for dinner and she ordered her filet 'well done'. She saw more of New Orleans than I did, taking a canoe tour of the bayous, a tour of the Garden District and a cooking class. She met people and had a wonderful time. So all of that came back to her when she saw the city underwater and the heartlessness of the FEMA response, the death of innocents. She saw Sheppard Smith lose it on Fox and something in her snapped.

She is royally pissed off, people.

And she blames Bush.

Did you GOP lurkers read that? You guys are toast. You lost one of your most ardent supporters and very likely more.

Not only that but when I asked her why she thought FEMA was so slow to react she said, "Because they're black. It's racism. And it's just disgusting. Those people are Americans."

Now, dear readers, I have not spoken to my mother very much in the past week, I have tried to stay far away from poitics with her so she came to these conclusions all on her own. She donated money, is looking to organize a caravan to Louisiana and offered her house to hurricane victims. She did all of this on her own.

So when I heard her tell me all of that, my only reaction was, "Welcome back."

Via an unhappy post by Lis Riba.

Roger Ailes finds the view from those people who still love Bush: Rebecca Hagelin asks why the poor don't have the courtesy to shut up and drown, like the underclass passengers in steerage on the Titanic did.

The Guardian says there are a lot of rumors, but: New Orleans police have been unable to confirm the tale of the raped child, or indeed any of the reports of rapes, in the Superdome and convention centre. [...] Nor has the source for the story of the murdered babies, or indeed their bodies, been found. And while the floor of the convention centre toilets were indeed covered in excrement, the Guardian found no corpses.

Bill Clinton says, "Our government failed those people in the beginning, and I take it now there is no dispute about it. One hundred percent of the people recognize that - that it was a failure." Via Jack Cluth, who also says that Texas isn't handling the survivors so well, either.

Laura Rozen notes that Pat Robertson's nasty little organization has been removed from the FEMA page, and hopes we can get some oversight to prevent further corruption of the process that is being hailed in some quarters as a "boon".

John Cole notes that even Trent Lott is complaining about the strange behavior of FEMA. Apparently this is a complaint about "government red tape", but think about this: He said FEMA has refused to ship the trailers until contracts are secured. What, exactly, does that mean? I've been noticing certain interesting irregularities in the contracts this administration likes to secure.... But, c'mon, we know perfectly well that "red tape" is not why emergency aid has been turned away from affected sites, don't we? Or, as Lambert says, it's just the latest excuse.

Amanda Marcotte checks the price of a soul and the K in Katrina, and has a theory about Bush. Jesse Taylor watches a horror show featuring monsters like Bill Kristol and Hackula.

17:36 BST


I hate these little quizzes, they always take way too much for granted.

(I changed the formatting.)

The only one for you is Cory Doctorow!

Well, we know where you're going for your
honeymoon. Check him out at:

What SF writer will you marry?

brought to you by Quizilla

I got a different result by changing just one answer:

neilThe only one for you is Neil Gaiman!

Yeah, too bad for you he's married. But you can
join the ranks of screaming fan girls just in
case anyways. Check him out at:

What SF writer will you marry?

brought to you by Quizilla

And the thing is, I knew that changing that one answer would get me Neil Gaiman, but I was kinda hoping I was wrong. (Worse, by changing several answers, I got - Cory Doctorow!)

For vacation you go:
Someplace vaguely English but darker.
Someplace vaguly English but darker, with bugs.
A non-Euclidian version of the Middle east.
An isolated hotel, alone on an island. To Mars, to recover from a nervous breakdown.
To the Philippines, but it's on a business trip.

Of course, I already live in Darkest England, so for vacation I want to go to Ohio, where I can buy a decent pair of shoes. (And shouldn't that be, "For vacation, you go to:"? And spellcheck!)

They're all like this, and the only reason I bothered with this one was that I thought it would be amusing to see who they thought were attractive candidates among people who are, after all, often friends of mine. Well, that and the fact that I figured it wouldn't be full of musicians and movies I wasn't familiar with at all. But I always have a certain curiosity about what the assumptions are of these tests, so I fool around with them, and it always seems to get worse the farther in I go. (And, really, the "Sorry, girls, he's married!" thing just doesn't work in something called "What SF writer will you marry?" Either just have single folk or else assume that current marriages are not an impediment to future wedded bliss. It didn't stop Yoko, did it?)

I mean, this was a real disappointment from someone who is presumably an SF fan. (And why isn't John M. Ford on this list? I bet he's more fun than any of them at the breakfast table. I do like a man who can make me laugh.) (via)

15:12 BST

Flood notes

Note to Oyster: Please don't shut up.

Emotionally empty

How To Be Treated As Normal While Being Completely Insane: Doesn't it seem that if the way we measure things shows that the obliteration and forced reconstruction of a huge American city is positive, THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE WAY WE MEASURE THINGS?

Making Light continues to fire off great posts. Definitely read this post from Patrick (and definitely click on the linked China Miéville post), and the one continuing the discussion of incompetence/malice (from here). Jim MacDonald provides the Bible reading, and Mike Ford has good advice. But, really, read it all.

And one of those items linked in a post mentioned above is on this page, unfortunately lacking a permalink so scroll down to September 4 for more on the tactic of jamming communications, used in both Iraq and New Orleans. And think about it a lot.

Northcom - More on how the fish rots from the head.

Hurricane Katrina LGBT Resources

Double your donation - a way to make each dollar you contribute worth twice as much.

Photo and help links.

12:45 BST

Monday, 05 September 2005

Not Clarke's Law

Well, y'all sure liked that quote*. I've been looking around for a source. No, it isn't Arthur C. Clarke, it's a play on Clarke's Third Law, which is, of course:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Googling around, I found two attributions from Usenet posts. Jim Deutch is using it as a .sig quote with an attribution:
"Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice." -- Vernon Schryver
But this post from Paul Ciszek responds to a question about the source with:
Well, Napoleon said something about not attributing to malice that which is adequately explained by incomptence, and Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So far as I know, I am the first one to put them together and call it the Napoleon-Clarke law.
Whether two (or more) people got to the same place independently, or Deutch has misattributed it, I don't know, but there you are.


Media waltz

Karl Rove to the rescue: The NYT reports the White House Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage from their ghastly handling of the hurricane disaster by blaming local Democrats. Of course, this is the important part of the hard job of presidentin'. God forbid they should spend their time, oh, trying to protect our country. Via Laura Rosen, who rightly calls their performance dereliction of duty, and who also notes that the WaPo had to run a correction above an article after spreading one of those lies. (And Newsweek has the same rubbish in their new issue.) And the WaPo says that the reason their response was so slow (do they mean to the storm or to the political fire) was that they were all (ba-dump!) on vacation. And Dick Cheney couldn't figure out how to get to Washington from Wyoming in less than four days.

I just can't read this stuff without wondering when these papers are going to give these "sources" what they deserve: Name them. Tell the public, "We printed this stuff because Karl Rove lied to us." Don't let them get away with it under the cover anonymity. And next time, for dog's sakes, ask the questions before you print this trash - don't print a word they say if it's not corroborated. And make it clear that if they lie to the press, the press will tell the world. Because that's the real story.

A lot of people have been quoting the painful and shocking testimony Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard gave Tim Russert on Meet the Press, but Arianna was even more shocked by Tim Russert's bloodless response. Unlike Geraldo and others, he just wasn't able to remember that he was once human. Crooks and Liars has the video. Tim Russert, in case you've forgotten, is the man who called Florida for Bush even though he knew it was likely that Gore was winning.

14:33 BST

And now it's time for....

Volga underwired bra - not a t-shirt item.

The Bra of the Week!

Moon Phase Animation, via Biomes Blog.

Modern architecture wank, via City Comforts.

Why I'm proud to be a liberal.

Cool Pictures Week: Fire Starter

Music to Remember New Orleans By, part 2

Norway Noctilucence

Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae from SALT

Liberal dystopia, coming to a comic shop near you in October.

Muscle Beer Small Ad, via Elayne Riggs.

Hastert tries to look better after making stupid remarks about New Orleans. President Bill says if he'd been there when Hastert made them, "I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."

Brad DeLong says: Mike Feldgarden thinks we should have a Supreme Court justice who doesn't believe that opposition to apartheid is automatically support of communism. (That's Mike the Mad Biologist.)

Paul Harris interviewed Bruce Campbell on his KMOX radio show and supplied an .mp3 for your listening pleasure. Via Laughing at the Pieces.

12:19 BST

Sunday, 04 September 2005

The lost city

I'm assuming you're avidly reading Making Light and all those great posts and things, but I found this one over on the sidebar:

Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans? by Anne Rice

Something else was going on in New Orleans. The living was good there. The clock ticked more slowly; people laughed more easily; people kissed; people loved; there was joy.

Which is why so many New Orleanians, black and white, never went north. They didn't want to leave a place where they felt at home in neighborhoods that dated back centuries; they didn't want to leave families whose rounds of weddings, births and funerals had become the fabric of their lives. They didn't want to leave a city where tolerance had always been able to outweigh prejudice, where patience had always been able to outweigh rage. They didn't want to leave a place that was theirs.

Anne Rice believes they will return and rebuild and go on being New Orleans. I'm not so sure. I believe we may be seeing one of the cruelest "urban renewal" projects of my lifetime.

One of the results of the new cold culture of America is that the spaces where the artists and musicians once flourished have been disappearing, and the jobs that were part of the marginal culture have been drying up. And I'm absolutely certain that there are people who saw the waters rise in New Orleans and smacked their hands at the prospect of being able to install their frigid world where The Quarter once stood.

And they may rebuild something that looks like their conception of The Quarter, but it will lack the true ambience of the organic growth the real city had, and it will be pricier, and shinier, and not a place where the kind of people who made it what it was could afford to live.

And after I wrote that I clicked over to see what Chris Floyd has to say about it all, and found a link to Will the 'New' New Orleans be Black? at The Black Commentator:

If the catastrophe in New Orleans reaches the apocalyptic dimensions towards which it appears to be headed, there will be massive displacement of the Black and poor. Poor people cannot afford to hang around on the fringes of a city until the powers-that-be come up with a plan to accommodate them back to the jurisdiction. And we all know that the prevailing model for urban development is to get rid of poor people. The disaster provides an opportunity to deploy this model in New Orleans on a citywide scale, under the guise of rebuilding the city and its infrastructure.
Down-market neighborhoods may be eyesores, and may be places that are vulnerable to criminality, and may be a lot of other things, but they are also the places were people just starting out get a foothold, where artists survive, where culture and life thrive.

I fear that the character of New Orleans may be lost. I hope I'm wrong.

23:52 BST

Observers of Hell

We all see it, we all feel it. Some people can even articulate it.

Lance Mannion says It's not political; it's moral!

Eli On incompetence.

Steve Gilliard says We told you so, and doesn't hold back.

David at A Level Gaze is Putting "Race and Class" in Context.

Insomnia finds Rep. Brad Miller in the House wondering if it's time for accountability yet:

I know that this administration thinks that accountability is an ephemeral thing. If there is an attempt at accountability too soon, it's finger pointing. If there is an attempt at accountability too late, then it's something you should get over. There is just a moment for accountability.

Mr. Speaker, tell me when that moment will be. Tell me precisely when the moment will come for accountability for the failures of our response, for the failures of our planning that have led to the devastation and the hardships that we are see now.

And Mr. Speaker, tell me where the line forms to ask hard questions. I yield back the balance of my time."

That's one of dozens of quotes and articles that Julia has linked in a single post. A bitter catalog indeed.

Krugman: So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.

22:39 BST

Real people

I just had this IM conversation with another American who lives in London:

Her (17:18:00): it all really hit me friday morning reading the newspapers i just started bawling my eyes out. until then i'd been kinda ok...then got an email from my dad about all his family down there :@
Me (17:18:28): How are they?
Her (17:19:29): well one cousin is at a shelter in shreveport and is using her credit card spending about $1000 a day of her own money to buy baby stuff for people that have nothing as there is just no aid there at all yet
Her (17:20:05): the other family pretty much live feral on the bayou tesh anyway so they will probably just carry on fishing and hunting as usual but no one has heard from them so just waiting
Me (17:20:07): That's beautiful. You should be proud.
Me (17:20:23): Ouch.
Her (17:20:28): yeah a few of my friends and i are going to send her some $$$ to help with her credit card bill
Me (17:20:48): That's great.
Her (17:21:47): yeah at least it will help her as she's not rich or she can donate it to a local charity rather than the red cross as they use about 50% of their donations for admin costs...

[Update: As noted in comments, my friend's information about the Red Cross is way off.]

17:49 BST

Waking up to nightmares

A lot seems to have happened while I was asleep last night. For one thing, Mary Landrieu obviously gave up hoping that Bush would finally locate a conscience. I had been planning to write something very much like what Mark Kleiman did:

I didn't join in criticizing Mary Landrieu for not bashing GWB for his failures concerning Katrina. It was legitimate for her to put her efforts into securing help for New Orleans, and unfortunately it's the President -- a President with a clear record of punishing those who criticize him -- who has help to give.
It seemed obvious that there was nothing particularly brilliant about Anderson Cooper hammering Landrieu. In fact, I wondered if even he realized it by the end of the interview and suddenly pulled himself together because he could see how she was looking at him. That brittle stare was eloquent to anyone who knew how hard she has been working, and for how long, to try to get some money into the projects that were meant to protect Louisiana from just such a disaster. (And there's certainly nothing new about the media hammering Democrats.)

Anyway, Mark has Landrieu's press release:

"Yesterday, I was hoping President Bush would come away from his tour of the regional devastation triggered by Hurricane Katrina with a new understanding for the magnitude of the suffering and for the abject failures of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency. 24 hours later, the President has yet to answer my call for a cabinet-level official to lead our efforts. Meanwhile, FEMA, now a shell of what it once was, continues to be overwhelmed by the task at hand.

"I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims -- far more efficiently than buses -- FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.

"But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast -- black and white, rich and poor, young and old -- deserve far better from their national government.

Kevin Drum's flow of anger is going strong, but really spiked when he saw this missive from a reader of War and Piece:
Dutch viewer Frank Tiggelaar writes:
There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.

Kevin observed in the same post that even many of Bush's supporters are having that "seeing is believing" moment now that the classic Bush method is showing results closer to home. That's certainly the impression I've been getting. I heard one guy on the radio saying something like, "I voted for Bush both times but today I realized what a coward he is." Apparently, even The Washington Post lost their heads for a minute and had a truthful headline up briefly: "White House Shifts Blame." The story itself is titled Many Evacuated, but Thousands Still Waiting, but the subhead is indeed, "White House Shifts Blame to State and Local Officials."

Mr. Sideshow came in earlier and quoted to me a permutation of Arthur C. Clarke's famous formulation that I'd never heard before:

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
Okay, I'm behind the times, but that's a good one, and it fits.

Over at House of Labor, Nathan Newman points out that another casualty of the flood is Acorn's national office, based in New Orleans. As Sam Rosenfeld reminds us, "ACORN is one of the premier organizations in the country fighting on behalf of poor citizens and really, in an age characterized by top-down, D.C.-based nonprofit organizing, one of the most impressive and intensively membership-based national advocacy groups of any kind." If you were wondering where to send your money beside the Red Cross or some "faith-based" organization, Acorn really is a worthy organization, and more necessary than ever.

And Rehnquist died. I've been dreading this, but it's hardly a surprise. There was a time when Rehnquist leaving the court was a hopeful dream, opening up the possibility that at long last we'd be rid of one of the worst reactionaries on the court. That was before we had crackpots like Thomas and Scalia and a whole host more waiting in the wings for appointment by a president who cares nothing for our country and has a Congressional majority hell-bent on pushing forward this whole program of national suicide. Of course, I'm never going to forgive him for Bush v. Gore, but I caught myself idly wondering if the last week finally alerted Rehnquist to what he had done and that knowledge is what took the fight out of him.

But I suppose that's just bitterness speaking. After five years of constant, painful reminders that I was more right than I knew in 2000, I have to wrestle daily with the thought that it might be too late. I won't quit fighting but the worse things get, the closer is the danger of despair.

Anyway, the NYT obit is here (via), and the WaPo has this.

14:17 BST

Last night's catch

I can barely believe that Getting Agnostic About 9/11 appeared in The Los Angeles Times, but there it is:

What would constitute a "smoking gun" against the official 9/11 account?

There are many. By just ignoring them, the 9/11 commission implicitly admitted they couldn't answer them.

Bartcop couldn't believe it, either.

Via Atrios, Bush faked levee repair for photo op yesterday. I hope these people someday pay for every single thing they have done. And yes, the media really is hyping the violence.

Flick contemplates the failures of privatization and free-market capitalism:

Well I'm not dumb but I can't understand
Why they didn't evacuate to the last man
Down in NOLA no-no-no-no NOLA no-no-no-no NOLA
(And Spacecrab wants to revive a song.)

TBogg has a Ben Sargent cartoon that he says should be in every newspaper.

And Molly Ivins says It's about us.

Local action: Unfettered is planning an emergency meeting at Conway Hall (Holborn) for all who wish to attend next Friday for action against the government's recently announced plan to ban "violent" porn.

With everything else that's going on, I'm sure some people are happy to see the spotlight taken off of that other big failure. Gary Farber pointed out Friday that "the biggest operation since Fallujah was launched this morning." (And, amongst numerous posts about Louisiana, this infuriating photo.)

12:29 BST

Saturday, 03 September 2005

Administrative failure

For your art moment, Dave Trowbridge has written Dubyamandias. Via Bad Attitudes, where we are reminded again that 9/11 is exactly why no previous president is as responsible as this one for the disaster in New Orleans. (And Dave also found this prayer.)

Oh, and We are the (Third) World.

Funnily enough, Ken McLeod has been going in the same direction (and more). Ken (along with a commenter here) recommends some good reporting and analysis that China Miéville has been doing at Lenin's Tomb. Definitely read that post, where China investigates an interesting question and finds some even more interesting answers. This is about privatization of hurricane management, and it's ... well, just what you'd expect if you've been paying attention to what we all keep telling you about privatization.

And I'm told I can quote this friends-locked LJ post if I don't use the author's name, but it goes like this:

a Crooks and Liars post which includes video of a live segment of Fox News's Hannity and Colmes show, from yesterday. It's a 10Mb download, but you should get the video. In the clip, Geraldo Rivera reports from the convention centre, and explains that people, including babies, are trapped in appalling conditions and are not getting help. He suggests that they should walk out to the next parish, a few miles away across an intact bridge (possibly the only intact way out of NO at present?); where conditions are much better. He picks up a baby and feigns tears as he describes the conditions. The show then cuts to Shepard Smith, who is right outside the same convention centre, and who says that there are hundreds of people outside the convention centre, sleeping in the streets, trying to walk to the next parish, and there is a checkpoint set up on that bridge by the National Guard. The National Guard are preventing starving people with no food and water from leaving New Orleans. Hannity suggests he sets things in a broader perspective, that there's lots of help on its way, and Smith says that this is perspective, there are people here now with no food and water, people dying, that everyone wants the help to get to people, but it's not happening. They cut back to Geraldo, who says 'This isn't about politics; just let these people go'.

It is an astonishing and harrowing video, well worth your time even if you are on dialup. I cannot find a transcript.

But the second link sets it into perspective, it's the American Red Cross's explanation of why they are not in New Orleans. The answer: The National Guard are Preventing the Red Cross from entering New Orleans.

So, I thought for a bit. You need to know that I am a practicioner of public management, and a student of it, and I overwhelmingly tend towards 'cockup' explanations of why public actions happen the way they do, rather than 'conspiracy' explanations. So we're not looking here for a hysterical 'the Government is rounding them up to die' type explanation. They're not.

Here's what I think is going on. The Red Cross are being kept out because if they go in and help, it might slow down the eventual goal which is to get every single person out. (It sort of says this in the FAQ).

Not 'to the next parish' from which they might return within a few days or weeks, and in places where a lot of rebuilding is needed, but to evacuate them all to genuinely safe areas far from damage.

This means that they have to take people many hundreds of miles, which is a relatively slow process.

They need to make sure they're a long way away, because the next step is to drain the city effectively and clear the destroyed areas for rebuilding. Which they can't do if anyone's around. Because if there are even a few houses left, people would insist on living in them, even if they were uninhabitable. And that would really slow down the process, plus of course it would be unsafe and unsanitary. So they want to empty the city completely, absolutely completely, every last person. Which they will not be able to do if people could go relatively short distances. Plus they are probably worried about destabilising the remaining parishes.

And then they can clear out these places where all those poor people lived, give some of them some money to soothe things a bit, and then get on with rebuilding better than before, as previously discussed. Rebuilding New Orleans better than before, without slum areas with tickytacky houses. Of course, they'll be more expensive to buy or rent.

And, you know, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Miami; they're good places to live too. Right?

So, is that a cock-up theory or a conspiracy theory? I'm still not clear. I think the author of this post regards it as a mere cock-up, but treating the lives involved (not to mention the rich history of N'awlins) as expendable may not be a cock-up to people who just can't understand the value of life and history and culture and stuff like that. Especially when so many of the people in charge are so chummy with those who have overtly stated that they regard this as a deliberate act of god. It's a kind of convenient ethnic (and queer) cleansing, as far as they are concerned.

22:57 BST

I am a couch potato

I'm watching The Road to 9/11. Meanwhile read Josh Marshall, who has all sorts of stuff, and he even found out why FEMA chief Michael Brown was fired from his last job: Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

20:51 BST

Media media

NPR and Slate both have pieces on what Jack Shafer calls "The Rebellion of the Talking Heads" as more and more of the on-air Stepfords seem to recover their humanity in the face of this enormity.

"Let them go": This is the video clip of Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera telling Hannity and Colmes what's really going on in New Orleans. As everyone agrees, it's a powerful piece of television, the more so for being on Fox. Those who remain in New Orleans are now not allowed to leave, nor are those trapped in the shelters that have become prisons. Why is this happening? Smith and Rivera can find no explanation. Via Americablog, which has many other posts about the impact this event is having on people who have previously been unwilling to recognize the implications of this administration's "style". And don't forget that big question about where the money goes. (And this story from a comment thread for this post is the kind of thing that makes me wonder if letting those people all die is a feature rather than a bug of The Great Homeland Security Plan.)

My thanks to Tom Scudder for pointing me to this cartoon found at Beirut Spring.

15:46 BST

Points of interest

Ten Things You Can Do to Help Make Voting Secure

Reading A1 has a good response to the right-wing rhetorical crap about Iraq and left-wing political maturity. Via a link-rich post at Derivative Work.

BlogsNow tells you what bloggy stuff people are clicking on.

More bad numbers from the Big G. My favorite "fact: of the day: 99 percent of first-time meth users are hooked after just the first try. These guys definitely don't do a lot of field research.

From Majikthise, heroin addicts helping each other. It makes some sense. (And one great song.)

The kinky thoughts of Marilyn Monroe

Pat Robertson: 'I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist'

The blogger formerly known as South Knox Bubba has some important advice. (via)

Oh, god, no, not this: Halliburton hired for storm cleanup.

When geeks go bad- In the old days, politicians put the brakes on people who had crazy ideas.

A catch from Josh Marshall: O'Reilly, on his show last night: "A lot of the people -- a lot of the people who stayed wanted to do this destruction. They figured it out. And that's -- I'm not surprised." God, what a creep.

Denny Hastert's idea of real devastation.

"They tell me there is nothing,nothing,nothing to come back for."

10:53 BST

Political map

Full-sized map of where not to live in the United States here. This is a reference to a GOP talking point suggesting that the government should do nothing for the people of New Orleans since it's really their own fault for living there. Via Teresa at Making Light, where she, Patrick, and Jim MacDonald have been doing an amazing job covering this situation since before the storm hit New Orleans.

I note that at a later date some linked photos with captions that became controversial (because they were, frankly, racist) have been removed or updated. This one, however, has a link to a Yahoo! News statement on photo language controversy. (Missing photo shown here.) I find it particularly interesting that the photos I've seen taken down were of whites not identified as "looters" or "looting", in contrast with photos of blacks who, of course, were so identified.

"Even Republicans were criticizing Bush and his administration for the sluggish relief effort. "I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich."

00:17 BST

Friday, 02 September 2005

"Conservative compassionism"

That's what Randi Rhodes calls it.

Maybe in a week or three I will be able to articulate the things I have been feeling this week. I hope you'll forgive my terseness now, but I feel such grief and anger over this that I just can't... I can't. Others are doing the work. All I can do is send you there.

While even Tim Russert says, "I have not talked to anybody, underscore anybody, in official Washington who believes the government at any level has done a good job," and (as John Aravosis reports) CNN says Bush visit to hurricane is nothing but a political photo op, "a lot of people at the Pentagon" think it's just "political" that people are complaining about the incompetence with which the situation has been handled, and can't understand why the public feels more sympathy for victims than they do for the poor, helpless bureaucrats in Washington. (And, by the way, I'm interested in the way they call them "bureaucrats" instead of acknowledging that these aren't just the career civil servants who have created the problem, but politicians and their appointees.) Gee, it's not like we actually pay them to do this, or anything....

Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff says Ray in Austin points to the .mp3 of the interview with Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans. (Buzzflash also has one.) BlackNews has a stream of it (and a photo). And Manhattan Offender tells us netizen marcus_b posted a rough transcript at DU. (But, honestly, reading it is not the same as hearing it.)

Greg Palast: Bush Strafes New Orleans - Where is our Huey Long? In 1927, the Democratic Party had died and was awaiting burial. As depression approached, the coma-Dems, like Franklin Roosevelt, called for balancing the budget. Then, as the waters rose, one politician finally said, roughly, "Screw this! They're lying! The President's lying! The rich fat cats that are drowning you will do it again and again and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants. Then they push your kids under. I say, Kick'm in the ass and take your rightful share!"

Matthew 25: 34-40

23:03 BST

Friday morning's webtrawl

Natasha says one thing that makes it good to be a girl is the abundance of pornographic fiction available for free on the Internet.

Our esteemed colleague Simbaud has a collection of quotes from a vicious citizenry, including such luminaries as Peggy Noonan and Glenn Reynolds. (I keep hearing about all this violence, but has anyone actually seen it? I can't help remembering the occasions in the past when an official, violent response to "violence" by citizens actually preceded, and precipitated, the citizen violence.)

Yellow Doggerel Democrat has been doing the right thing. And he's one of the folks passing on the meme that the mess in Louisiana is being dubbed Lake George - "Clearly not one of the Great Lakes..."

Eli say lessons should have been taken from Hurricane Ivan. (But how are you gonna tell them?)

Fred Clark muses on a recent use of the term "Counter culture" (and Lightning reminds us of the meaning of another term).

Why I'm Leaving the American Legion: Now The American Legion has taken an official stand against The Constitution of the United States. You should be ashamed.

I've noticed on several sites that the wingers seem to think Bush's underfunding of the Louisiana flood control project is a new thing, but it's not - it's been going on for the whole of his occupancy in the White House.

Fats found. (Allen Toussaint still missing.)

Julia seems to recall hearing it all before... Freedom is messy.

The perfect Republican president

A former radio guy turned reference librarian offers: The Mr. Nice Guy Show.

13:42 BST

More news here

The WaPo finally notices: Paper Record of Electronic Ballots Is Urged - House Panel Hears Concerns That Votes on Some Machines Can't Be Verified. (via)

Cheney Pushes Unconscionable Changes to National Parks.

Sterling Newberry: If We Had A Real President - This is the speech he would give. (via)

Interdictor is blogging live from New Orleans with a generator. (via)

Since when can't the military perform a military operation if they are under fire? (Also: me, too. This is what they do, and I don't want to wait 'til we lose San Francisco.)

"Fixing The Intelligence" Over Lockerbie

Fats Domino Is Missing in New Orleans.

01:48 BST

Thursday, 01 September 2005

What can you say?

Atrios has been documenting the atrocities, as usual. One of my favorites, even better than the one about how no one could possibly have imagined a scenario like, say, kamikaze terrorists flying into the Twin Towers, is Bush saying, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

Well, of course, lots of people anticipated it, warned about it, even planned for a way to avoid it - but Bush just didn't care. Even The Chicago Tribune admits it:

Despite continuous warnings that a catastrophic hurricane could hit New Orleans, the Bush administration and Congress in recent years have repeatedly denied full funding for hurricane preparation and flood control.
Meanwhile, the head of FEMA apparently can't understand why poor people can't afford to just take a long holiday whenever the weather gets bad, even though the Secretary of State thinks it's a good time to buy expensive shoes. August J. Pollack has a compelling post on how some Americans just don't understand that being poor actually means being poor. And Sploid reports that FEMA is directing donations to Pat Robertson. More links also at Crooks and Liars.

Wow, even the wingers noticed that Bush's speech was crap.

After Downing Street has a great Wasserman cartoon up on Early Looting. (Thanks to Helga for the tip.)

23:05 BST

In one eye

Some of these are pretty good. Via Skimble.

Looks like Toles just couldn't decide between this one and this one. (That second one could be for you, Toast.)

Earlier last month, George F. Will wrote a column about the fact that he was involved in using the briefing book for the Reagan/Carter debates that was stolen from Carter's campaign. Sunday, Carter replied with an apology for being misquoted: I have never thought Mr. Will took my book, that the outcome of the debate was damaging to my campaign or that Mr. Will apologized to me.

Alterman has a series: The Bell Curveball, The Bell Curveball, Part II, The Bell Curveball, III. (You need to scroll down on them a bit.)

Delighted as I am that Bush's poll numbers continue to sink, I still don't understand why these articles are written as if he is facing another election.

Baseball is turning white? I am completely astonished to learn that there are no black players in the Bal'mar Orioles.

Elaine keeps taking great pictures - like this one.

12:10 BST

Quick links

Riding with libertarians in the free-market car.

New Orleans Pays the Death Tax

One newspaper, two different Americas - Alt Hippo looks at two stories from The Washington Post.

I apologize for failing to link this earlier.

Your right to a speedy trial.

Georgie wrong-note: Kos has this picture. And on the White House site itself, look at the banner.

Louisiana sunset.

01:33 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, September 2005

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