The Sideshow

Archive for December 2004

Check box to open new browser windows for links.

Friday, 31 December 2004

Food for thought

Here's a little blog news via What She Said from Time: Men may have taken the lead in the early (read: geeky) days of blogging, but that's not the case now. According to a survey of more than 4 million blogs by Perseus Development, 56% were created by women. More bad news for the boys: men are more likely than women to abandon their blog once it's created. Call blogging a 21st century room of one's own.

At Rick's Rants, a question that has bothered me, too, about AAR ads that sound lefty on the surface but seem to have a subtext that sounds geared to move people away from progressive values rather than toward them. I haven't actually heard the ad he discusses, but I've noticed this on a lot of their other ads and they strike me as alienating rather than encouraging.

Eli at Left I on the News is asking a lot of good questions, about whether the economy is improving, or whether George Tenet really said "slam-dunk", and what Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was doing in Tariq Aziz's house. And noting the type of example George W. Bush is setting with victim aid.
18:14 GMT

More bloggy goodness

Yay, Anne Zook posted something! In fact, she posted a rant - she is Peevish about libertarians. (I gotta admit, I have met even dumber libertarians than the ones she describes - they're guys who think liberalism and taxes are why they have to work in crummy jobs or sleep on other people's floors.)

Greg Beato muses on the two Americas and their two entirely different media networks - the one the red-staters have to suffer with, bereft of Christmas and Christianity but full of anal sex, and the one the blue-staters see, which is full of Christmas and Christianity and not a lot of anal sex. Maybe they should just trade.

South Knox Bubba has a year-end round-up of weird stuff the Freepers have posted. (Don't forget to hydrate your mouth while you read this.)

Elayne Riggs has a bit of a holiday warning about Diet madness. Well, a kind of a rant, really - but a link-rich rant, including one on the evils of sucralose and aspartame. I hear ya - I won't eat 'em. For years I've been having my friends bring me Juicy Fruit gum from the States because they started adding aspartame to it over here (but they still have sugar in it - what's up with that?); however, my Nasty Christmas Surprise was learning that they're doing it in America, now, too. *sigh* (And thanks for the birthday greeting, Elayne!)

Neat picture of the October lunar eclipse, and a completely different neat picture via the same source.

Mac Thomason finds out Judge Roy Moore's nickname, which is, frankly, too good for him.
15:12 GMT


Like a jerk I went outside wearing mocs to get something out of the truck, and I went down faster than a godless liberal on a Gays Gone Wild! video, says Maru, who is now all aches and pains, apparently. Get better, sugar, and blog some more.

Charles Dodgson says Democrats should win the way the Republicans (allegedly) did: appeal to their base.

Chris Bowers says that Democrats Must Abandon the War on Terror, which is a conservative frame, and one we can't beat them on. I agree with this, but I'm not entirely sure what to replace it with. It's obvious that the Republicans are not serious about protecting our national security and dealing with terrorism, but how do you talk about this without getting into their frame?

Mark Kleiman says that AARP, who were last seen caving in for the creepy prescription drug "benefit", are planning to fight back on Social Security Deform, and have some ads lined up. Apparently the ad has one Harry-and-Louise couple saying "If we want to gamble, we'll play the slots." Perhaps this will stiffen the spines of some wavering Democrats.

The General has been answering Al Neuharth's mail. Also, Republican Jesus explains torture.

At Aspasia, Paul Adler discusses's response to Peter Beinart's attack on them - and Beinart's response.

Charlie shows us a book he wants for Xmas.
04:41 GMT

Thursday, 30 December 2004


Krugman is still on vacation, most of the news seems to be about the tsunami (and whether Bush is stingy), and lots of people are doing their year-end lists, so except for the madness of nature and a few almost routine examples of the Republicans proving they are liars, thieves, and phonies, there's not much news. (Except that I did get Bubba Ho-Tep for my birthday. At last!)

Sidney Blumenthal has a piece in the Guardian that makes the administration look like a bunch of doped-up morons. I was going to say "hippies" but then I remembered that the good thing about hippies was that they weren't usually ambitious enough to be in charge of anything important and mostly they just wanted to smoke dope and get laid. And have too many cats they didn't want to take care of. Anyway, it's kind of the same sort of squalor writ large.

The Hamster alerts us to Salon's October, 2001 interview with Susan Sontag, The "traitor" fires back, which reminds me that I can still say most of what I want because I'm not afraid of loosing my job when I say this stuff, which is pretty much why Sontag could say what she wanted. That's the good thing about bloggers, even if it also means we can be as moronic as we want to (and some clearly are).

The blogosphere isn't the only place for morons, but a lot of idiotic and hateful letters to the editor actually start there. All a guy has to do is suggest withdrawing troops from Iraq to generate a mad e-mail campaign full with screams of treason.

That reminds me, I wanted to quote this from a post at Stand Down or No War Blog or whatever it's called. Anyway, Brendan said this a month ago:

What seems to be today's antiwar position -- it was a terrible mistake and it's a terrible mess, but we can't just walk away from it -- was actually the pro-war position during Vietnam. In fact, it was close to official government policy for more than half the length of that war.
Those were the days, eh? When even conservatives could recognize a mistake of this magnitude (even if they still couldn't figure out what to do about it)?

Speaking of Stand Down, Aron Trauring has a good post up on our motivations for being in Iraq, in which he quotes Naomi Klein:

So let's be absolutely clear: the US, having broken Iraq, is not in the process of fixing it. It is merely continuing to break the country and its people by other means, using not only F-16s and Bradleys, but now the less flashy weaponry of WTO and IMF conditions, followed by elections designed to transfer as little power to Iraqis as possible. This is what Argentinian writer Rodolfo Walsh, writing before his assassination in 1977 by the military junta, described as "planned misery". And the longer the US stays in Iraq, the more misery it will plan.
Here is our real problem: The kind of "strategy", such as it is, that is possible under the current administration is not the kind of strategy that has a hope in hell of actually achieving anything remotely resembling actual democracy or even peace. Their policies, whether by accident or design, are bound to fail. There is no hope of us winning anything other than chaos with these guys in charge. This has always been true, but it gets more and more obvious every day and frankly I cannot trust the intelligence (or integrity) of anyone who thinks this administration can accomplish anything good by staying in Iraq. Yes, there were ways for someone acting in good faith to pull it off if they were very smart and very careful, but we don't have someone like that at the helm. A Kerry victory held out that hope (only just, because I still don't know how smart Kerry would have been about this thing), but with Bush it is a pure impossibility.

So, if you really, really, really don't want to pull out of Iraq before we have accomplished some real good there, your only choice is to find some way to get Bush out of the White House by January 20th. And if you can't believe in that solution, it is insane to believe in any other. Bush is not going to change. Things are not going to get better. They can only get worse. So we might as well get out. I don't like that answer, but it's the only one left once you eliminate getting Bush out of the White House.

And that, I'm afraid, is the optimistic view, because I'm not entirely sure we have the time and resources left to do any of the things that would need to be done to make the attempt. We've created such a mess that there may be no way to undo the damage. There's still a feeling throughout the world that it's the Bush regime, not "America", that is responsible for the problem, so it's possible that getting rid of him will supply enough benefit of the doubt to get us there, but we have really, totally, royally screwed up, and we'd have to be on our very best behavior and do everything right. We already know that Bush won't and can't do that, and no one is going to give him the benefit of the doubt anyway. So that's it: Get rid of Bush, and we might be able to fix it; otherwise, we can't, so get the hell out.
16:35 GMT

You say it's your birthday

Oh, God, I can't even remember which birthday it is. Oh, well, more prezzies!

Anyanka would hate this site - currently showing on the front page is It's a Wonderful Life, but you can also see The Exorcist, The Shining, and other favorites - in 30 seconds. Oh, did I mention the actors were all...bunnies? (Via Kung Fu Monkey.)

Scaramouche has the Rapture Alert color chart.

My TV star moment: Ben Browder joins Stargate SG-1 cast. Actually, this means little to me, because what I want is Farscape, the show, not just the actors. But for those who are interested in the actors, Claudia Black is apparently going to guest star, too. (via)

I'd swear I've posted about this story months ago, but it seems to be current again: U.S. Businesses Overseas Threatened by Rising Anti-Americanism. Well, yes, "Made in U.S.A." has lost its caché. Not a surprise. (Via Interesting Times.)

The Guardian Newsblog says bloggers got out ahead on the story of the tsunami because the news orgs were standing down during this normally slow news period. They have a round-up of bloggers who were on the dime.

The Guardian also has Lisa Appignanesi, Melissa Benn, Peter Brooks, and Sarah Dunant on Sontag in For the love of thought.

Christopher Hitchens on Susan Sontag in Slate isn't bad, although he is still in denial about what 9/11 most emphatically was.

The Mexican Year
02:18 GMT

Wednesday, 29 December 2004

Smart Investor

David Francis at The Christian Science Monitor writes about a San Diego man who did the math:

He recorded all the payroll taxes he paid into the system (including the matching amount from his employer), tracked down the return the Social Security Trust Fund earned for each of the 45 years, and then compared the result with what he would have gotten had he been able to invest the same amount of payroll tax money over the same period in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (including dividends).

To his surprise, the Social Security investment won out: $261,372 versus $255,499, a difference of $5,873.

It's an astonishing finding. The DJIA represents blue-chip stocks. Social Security invests in US Treasury bonds. Over long periods of time, stocks have consistently outperformed bonds. So, you would think that Logue's theoretical stock investments from 1950 to 1994 would have surely outpaced the return on government bonds.

But it's all about timing. How's yours? (Via Cursor.)
23:53 GMT

Stolen election: Another cave-in?

Well, the verdict seems to be in: The Kerry campaign is giving it up. Did they ever plan to do anything else? Or is this just another nicely-choreographed scene by the Washington Generals?

Bob Fertik hasn't given up, though, and has written an open letter to Kerry, expressing his disappointment and saying there is a great deal more to do. And also dropping a few more little tidbits:

In Miami County, officials mysteriously added 19,000 votes to their original tally. Several precincts reported nearly 100% turnout; a recent canvass by the Free Press found many voters did not actually vote.
Recount observers were mostly prohibited from inspecting sign-in books to compare the number of votes cast with the number counted (see Miami County above). On November 15, in violation of Ohio's open public records laws, Blackwell ordered all 88 Boards of Election to prohibit any public inspection of poll books until after certification. When the ban was lifted in Trumbull County, Dr. Werner Lange found 580 absentee votes for which there were no absentee voters identified in the poll books - a major fraud. If extrapolated state-wide, there could be 62,513 fraudulent absentees. In Perry County, the number of voters exceeded the number of people who signed the books in at least 11 of 46 precincts.
Ken Blackwell, who was served with a subpoena, refused to appear at a scheduled deposition and is seeking a court order to avoid testifying. If Ken Blackwell conducted a fair and honesty election - as he claims - he would have no reason to avoid testifying. What fraud is Blackwell hiding?
We could be talking about as many as nine million votes - or more - that have been lost in this fashion. Isn't that worth finding out about?

(Via Ohio Counts.)
21:26 GMT

All the news that's bits

Well, I missed my chance to make this my Xmas card for 2004. Oh, well, I can always use this as a general winter greeting card, I guess.

I realize I seem to be referring to Gilliard every five minutes lately but he just posted something good about file-sharing so I have to mark the event. What I mean is that you can't stop it with laws. People trade child porn online and that's legal nowhere. The record industry has tried repression over and over and it fails over and over.

Total Information Awareness finds Peter Rost, VP of marketing at Pfizer, saying that the US healthcare system is "the best in the world" - for drug companies, but not for Americans.

Charles Kuffner says The DeLay Rule wasn't lenient enough - the House Ethics Committee chairman is going to get the boot, it seems, for trying to be a little bit ethical about censuring Tom Delay.

Jerry Orbach is dead at 69. We'll miss you, Lennie.
18:06 GMT

The blog story

Time ran a contest for Blog of the Year, and The Washington Post ran a contest earlier this year for best blog or something, and both of them were won by far-right weblogs. As with everything else, the right-wingers seem to have campaigned heavily and agreed who the winner would be and voted en masse. So, even though these are both blogs that are a blot on the face of the earth, they're getting lots of ink from Big Media and etc. It's probably all our fault for not fighting back with our own nominations. It's certainly my own fault for giving the whole thing a big yawn and not even thinking about it. Maybe I would have thought about it harder if I'd felt more competitive about the thing and pushed for myself, but although I think The Sideshow is a pretty good blog, at least as good as some that get more credit, I have a little trouble with declaring myself "the best".

But let's put that aside for the moment and have a look at what kind of rubbish does win these awards. Nick Coleman in The Star Tribune doesn't hide his disgust:

These guys pretend to be family watchdogs but they are Rottweilers in sheep's clothing. They attack the Mainstream Media for not being fair while pursuing a right-wing agenda cooked up in conservative think tanks funded by millionaire power brokers.

They should call themselves "Powertool." They don't speak truth to power. They just speak for power.

This is as honest a piece as you'll see in the mainstream media about these heroes who got famous for promoting the idea that one memo of dubious provenance on CBS was more important than the otherwise true story that Dan Rather told about George W. Bush's spotty National Guard career (and just forget that other forged document that helped get us into a stupid war, which didn't even rate a mention). Naturally, the wingers are jumping all over Coleman and throwing their usual slurs at him. (Yes, of course he is insane to suggest that right-wing extremists are right-wing extremists. Haven't we seen this before, boys and girls?)

In any case, I guess the only way to counteract this stuff is to start being competitive on behalf of our own excellent bloggers in the left-o-sphere. I guess the best way to get organized with this is to just pay attention to the Koufax Awards and be ready to nominate the winner for any other blog contests you see along the way.

I'm not going to nominate my own Best Blog - I think we should get behind whoever the winner is. But there are bloggers who I think are worth a mention, just because. For example, the only thing Digby ever did wrong was to name his weblog Hullabaloo, and I could say much the same for Uggabugga. And even without the help of ChrisT, Jeralyn has always had an awesome blog. (In the blue states, we worship an awesome blog.) Steve Gilliard is amazingly energetic and usually pretty damned smart (and go read Die, nigger, die for a sharp deconstruction of the administration's Social Security salespitch to blacks). The Mahablog has been mighty impressive. I've appreciated the contributions of King of Zembla and Eccentricity over the last year. But there are a whole lot of really good blogs around, and I'm finding it harder and harder to keep up - check out that blogroll for some great stuff.
16:54 GMT

The morning paper

The Washington Post is repeating its call for DNA-testing Roger Coleman. For those who don't remember, Coleman was executed without a single compelling piece of evidence of his guilt, and a number of reasons to question whether he could even have committed the crime. The blood test that was used at the time narrowed it down to about 50,000 men in the immediate area who could have done it. I'd sure like to see the DNA test results.

I don't usually track individual death penalty cases, because frankly I don't want to know and in any case the details are not going to change my position. But I knew about Coleman's case and therefore, when I came home for a visit to my family, the announcement that the death-watch had started caught my attention when it was broadcast, and I was acutely aware for the rest of the day that I was only a few miles away from the place where a man whose guilt I had no reason to believe in was about to be murdered. And yes, I regard it as out and out murder when the state kills someone without any firm evidence that he even did it. Even the jury no longer believed he was guilty by the time he was killed.

It's taken a long time, but I've grown used to the fact that I no longer live in a country where this can happen. I have no illusions about how pleasant prison is, and by all reports the women's prisons are even worse (a good lawyer I know said she would kill herself if she were ever faced with the prospect of incarceration here). I also have no illusions about whether innocence can be relied upon to keep you out of jail once the authorities decide they like you for the part. But at least they don't kill you, and that fact somehow made my proximity to the place of Roger Coleman's death all the more chilling. I didn't know that he wasn't guilty, but I didn't know that he was, and neither did anyone else, and that fact should have been as important to the state as it was to me.

Elsewhere at the Post:

Michael Gecan writes a thin piece about being In a Clueless Party. There's a point buried in there but I don't think letting celebrities make appearances for the Democratic Party is the problem - after all, the Republicans actually let their celebrities run for office, and they elect them. (In fact, maybe one of the shortcomings of the DNC is that they spurn the same tactic.) This article should have skipped the celebrity-bashing (which sounds awfully Vichy Democrat) and gone straight to the point of the way the DNC acts like their professional-pol class are the only people who really matter. The party as a whole is actually a lot smarter than its leadership, but it's the leadership, not the kids who cheer Bruce Springsteen, who have been orchestrating these successive disasters.

I'm not writing about the tsunami, it's all too horrifying, but if the deaths of tens of thousands aren't enough to make these people care, what the hell ever can? [Update.]
13:27 GMT

In the mix

Charles Dodgson wonders about the origins of the "tradition" that Democrats are weak on defense. History doesn't seem to back this up.

Gary Farber honors the Time Person of the Year by discussing extraordinary rendition - er, that's the Canadian edition of Time, where the Person of the Year was Maher Arar.

The Bull Moose: We are about to spend millions on a garish public celebration while our soldiers can't afford basic health care. So they can go into harms way, our troops are having their teeth pulled because they can't pay for more costly procedures, while patriots waste thousands on sinful treats as they proclaim their fealty to our dear leader. Via The Daou Report. This is how things are going, by the way - The Bull Moose, who is actually a well-known conservative, is being put in the left column. So now anyone who doesn't want to destroy America is left wing, people!

Also via the Daou Report, Feministing says: Now this is some seriously disturbing news. Reuters (through Integrated Regional Information Networks) reported today that in Gabon, illegal abortion killed more than 25 percent of pregnant women in 2001. It was also reported that many of these women were teenagers. Abortion is illegal in Gabon, unless the life of the woman is in danger. I would say that more than one in four pregnant women dying counts as lives being in danger, wouldn't you?"

The worst of Times in Salon by Andrew O'Hehir: Two new books on the New York Times relive its recent crises. But while the Jayson Blair scandal made for splashy headlines, the real question is how the country's leading newspaper will recover from spreading lies about Iraq's WMD. Old Media is managing to lose all its credibility by trying to play a false middle in which it repeats whatever lies the administration wants to spin, thus spurning any trust from the real center (which they pretend is "the left") as well as the actual left. Then, the first time they make a mistake, no matter how minor, the right-wing jumps all over them - the upshot being that they have credibility with no one. Via Steve Gilliard's News Blog.
12:24 GMT

Tuesday, 28 December 2004

From the notebook

Gene Lyons says Bush backers made a sucker's bet: But here's what Bartlett, Bush and the think-tank spokesmen actually mean when they say Social Security's going broke: They mean that the trust fund has been looted fair and square, that everybody who's been paying those increased payroll taxes since 1983 has been successfully swindled and that the U.S. government need not honor those special issue Treasury bonds. As Smith writes, it's a financial "crime against the American public that makes Enron pale in comparison."

Bill Scher at LiberalOasis says you can't rely on Adam Nagourney's Democrats Weigh De-emphasizing Abortion As An Issue, but acknowledges that there seem to be some Dems who want to sell out some more, this time on abortion: The party needs to "de-emphasize" the issue? What emphasis was there to speak of? (Bill also says that Roger Ailes (the good one) watched Tim Russert this week, so Bill didn't have to.)

They accused her of being anti-American when she said it: "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?" she wrote in The New Yorker. I didn't always agree with her, but Susan Sontag always brought food for thought to the table. Rest in peace, if there is any.

Happy 101st Birthday to Fatha.
21:25 GMT

From Alterman

Yesterday at Altercation, Eric posted the stuff from his article in The Nation responding to Peter Beinart (and essentially saying that The New Republic is a mess), that he says his editors cut out, but the paragraph I want to quote turns out to have been (mostly) retained:

It is therefore perhaps not entirely coincidental that Beinart's solution for the political problem that ails the Democratic fits in perfectly with the magazine's own intellectual DNA structure; it calls for the expulsion from the Democratic coalition of, the left's most energetic and committed popular organization, in support of a combination of policies with almost no visible constituency in America or anywhere else. It employs McCarthyism tactics together with wishful thinking in the service of a chimerical political agenda, and in doing so, reproduces the failures of the Bush administration that have so thoroughly destroyed the sympathy and solidarity that the United States enjoyed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Reading the full Nation article is really helpful to understand the anti-war feeling about the bombing of Afghanistan and the "War on Terror", and it's a shame that too few people will be reading it.
Beinart argues that by expelling MoveOn for being insufficiently supportive of the Bush Administration's terror policies and embracing a platform of social liberalism and military adventurism, Democrats could enlarge their portion of the electoral pie to a degree that would enable them to wrest power from the Republicans and embark on a successful mission to democratize the Middle East. As many critics have pointed out in response, the size of the potential pro-gay marriage/pro-war constituency would probably fit comfortably around a TNR conference table. Even more fantastic, however, and to this writer, depressing, is Beinart's belief that such a force could successfully liberate the Islamic world from the morass of religious fundamentalism, corruption and political paranoia from which it currently suffers.

Can Beinart point to any evidence that the US government possesses the knowledge, authority or cultural sensitivity necessary to perform this historically unprecedented operation? Does Beinart really believe that the Arab masses are yearning to be freed in order to catch the last episode of Desperate Housewives? Such naïve hubris about America's ability to remake other cultures to our liking at the point of a gun is what underlay the decisions that cost us 58,000 lives in Vietnam and wrought death and destruction across Southeast Asia for more than a decade.

Actually, there are parts of the US government that have actually learned the combined lessons from World War II and Vietnam, but the problem is that the administration is not among them, and neither is Beinart. (Or, at least, if anyone with real clout in the administration has learned those lessons, then their goal clearly is not to apply them in the service of peace and democracy.)
Finally, in his zeal to attack liberals who dared to point out the dangers of supporting the Bush Administration's misuse of the "war on terror" to invade irrelevant countries and destroy civil liberties at home, Beinart whitewashes its extremism and in doing so, empowers it. Citing MoveOn's contention that the Patriot Act had "nullified large portions of the Bill of Rights," Beinart claims the group "grossly inflated the Act's effect...[and] then contrasted it with the--implicitly far smaller--danger from Al Qaeda," embodying "civil-libertarian alarmism at its worst--vastly exaggerating the threat from John Ashcroft in order to downplay the threat from Al Qaeda." Yet Beinart neither examines the Patriot Act nor explains how concern with its impact on civil liberties is incompatible with concern for protecting America from terrorism.
The administration's first substantive act after 9/11 was to start destroying our civil liberties. Anyone watching this should have known, even if they had not heard Bush's sneers about "nation building" during the 2000 campaign, that Bush was an enemy of free democracy, not a proponent of it.

Beinart's defenses against his critics have not really supported his position - he appears to be saying that we should substitute pretending to be serious about terrorism for actually doing it. Either that or he really seems to believe, in the face of all the evidence that contradicts him, that you can make a people love you by beating the hell out of them. That's an awful lot of faith to place on whole nations succumbing to a more extreme case of Stockholm syndrome than we have previously seen.

Elsewhere at Altercation, Eric says this article on Bush's apparent illness and that strange thing on his back seems convincing. He also recommends a post at Siva Vaidhyanathan's Weblog on Conservative Crybabies, noting that some of the right-wing media personalities have become increasingly frank about their attacks on Jews. This is from the comment thread, by someone called "thehim":

I've been surprised by O'Reilly's frankness in taking on non-Christians recently too. I've noticed that people of different political stripes were surprised to find out how many Jews vote for Democrats. My Pakistani friend, who has lived in the U.S. for a while, guessed that about 70 percent of American Jews would be Republicans.

I don't think the average person was aware of it either, but for those that do, I worry that it will lead to some of the connections that Hitler made in Mein Kampf where he lumped liberals and Jews together, and tied them to the 'moral decline' that was ravaging Post World War I Germany.

It really doesn't help to see Buchanan following Hitler's logic, which he's been doing for years, but he's starting to become more accepted as a mainstream voice these days, and people like O'Reilly, and even Krauthammer, a Jew himself, are joining in on this ridiculous bandwagon of people claiming to be victims of liberal oppression.

Yes, this is how Nazi Germany got started, and no, we shouldn't be ashamed to point that out.

Damn, maybe the Jews will end up being the new Jews, too....
13:44 GMT

Monday, 27 December 2004

A few good links

At A Level Gaze, David Yaseen went after Thomas Friedman's Blood-Soaked Strawman: One more time, Tom: the fact that the insurgents are bad does not thereby make us good. Maybe if you get that sentence tattooed backwards on your forehead, it might sink in as you read it every time you have the gall to look at yourself in a mirror.

Last One Speaks reports that Martha Stewart's Christmas message is about concern for less fortunate women who end up in jail. So many of the women here in Alderson will never have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them have been here for years -- devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.

Maybe it's just me, but I think the College Republicans fundraising scandal story is pretty funny. Charles Kuffner has the details.

Suburban Guerrilla quotes Geneva Overholser on the media story of the year: This was the year when it finally became unmistakably clear that objectivity has outlived its usefulness as an ethical touchstone for journalism.

Mark Kleiman wonders Where's the Outrage? about torture. He's disturbed by the response in comments to a related post at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Do Not Concede.
20:29 GMT

The strongest nation on earth

You really, really have to read this post at Daily Kos in which a blogger interviews a friend who is about to ship out to Iraq with the Guard:

"I literally walked."

My friend is in good shape. He's been in the guard for 3 years. He's active besides. Many others in his unit are not. The previous quote harkens at the reality that many of the soldiers we are sending are not up to Guard standards. While running in formation during PT [Physical Training], everyone must keep pace. During such an exercise, my friend had to slow his pace down to a speed walk as to not leave behind many in his unit. That's when he dropped this bomb:

"They don't have PT standards anymore. They have them, they're just not enforced. It's about numbers...if they did [enforce standards], we'd lose a lot of guys."

My friend also voiced concern over a diabetic in his unit. He had asked the medical officer what to do if his friend went into shock. He did not like the reply:

"You couldn't do much. If he slipped into a coma he'd be gone. We couldn't get him out in time."

I must wonder aloud why we are sending diabetics into highly physical and stressful combat duty. There was a diabetic on my football team in high school. He had to check his blood sugar at least twice during every practice [practices were two hours]. They trained our equipment manager on what to do if he went into shock. He would get a little loopy if his blood sugar got to low and would need to eat a candy bar or sometimes give himself an injection. Do you think this would be possible in a firefight?

Physical standards are not the only ones being shirked:

"They're passing guys on shooting proficiency with 12's [out of 40]. The normal cutoff is 24."

I think I've finally figured it out, all the positive reviews of the war: They're grading on a curve.

(Via Steve Gilliard.)
13:15 GMT

Media Matters Awards

In the absence of Media Whores Online, Media Matters for America is picking up the slack. Not quite the Media Whore of the Year award, but they've named the Misinformer of the Year: Bill O'Reilly.

And just in case you had forgotten just how wrong the claim is that the left is just as outrageous as the right, MM has the Top Ten Most Outrageous Statements of the Year.
05:12 GMT

Everybody's talkin'

Let's see what's up at Memeorandum...

This week's obligatory newspaper article about blogging comes from The Dallas Morning News, and I am pleased to say that it isn't particularly stupid or offensive, and I guess I agree that things are quieter in the blogosphere now that the election was over, but that's only because they were so intense in the run-up to the election. But that's okay, there's always another exciting political moment comin' down the pike.

Here's a story in the NYT that seems to be wallowing in the nostalgia of four years ago when the press kept on and on about how long the counting process was taking. And, just like four years ago, the tone suggests this is a much more important consideration than the fact that one party launched a program intended to disenfranchise voters.

Over at The Daou Report...

A weird story from Patridiot Watch: At some point things do get a little ridiculous. An evangelical group in Colorado Springs, using contributions from local churches and the uber-conservative Focus on The Family -- paid to include the New Testament in a local paper as if it were an AOL disk or Sears circular. But that is not the ridiculous part. What's idiotic is that some people are upset about it. Looks like Dobson and his little friends were trying to stir up trouble, and they succeeded in upsetting somebody Jewish. Personally, I don't care if they buy ad space for the NT - is there anyone left in America who doesn't know the Gospels better than Rev. Dobson? Let Dobson and the FotF gang waste their money.

Some fake centrism from the Centerfield: Josh Marshall rips Centerfield favorite Harold Ford as a member of the faintheart faction for contemplating the addition of private accounts to Social Security.... The rejectionist fundamentalism which Josh is pushing, calling it a plan to "phase out Social Security" may be Lakoffian framing, but it's too broad and is likely to fall flat. A better line for Democrats to take is, like Ford, to express openness to a reform that is funded, but oppose any shell game offered by the Administration. "Rejectionist fundamentalism." It's like saying you were an extremist if you objected entirely to having someone cut off your leg, rather than being open to the program if they promised to stop at the ankle.

Joe Gandelman comments on a couple of other posts about blogging and tries to make right and left sound the same, but c'mon: I clearly disagree with a lot of people when I say that when Michael Moore and Ann Coulter look in their respective mirrors, they see each other's faces. When Sean Hannity and Randi Rhodes look into their respective mirrors, they see each other's faces. Yes, Joe - who seems like a real nice guy, mind you - clearly disagrees with me, because I've never heard Michael Moore or Randi Rhodes lie and smear like Coulter and Hannity. Strip away the personalities and the hair, and you get content that is not even remotely parallel. Rhodes and Moore are saying, "Here's some stuff you don't know, and you need to think about it." And except for the occasional honest error - of which there are comparatively few - they're painting a fairly honest picture. The message from Coulter and Hannity, on the other hand, is that you should hate liberals. I think there's a difference.
00:16 GMT

Sunday, 26 December 2004


The Crisis Papers makes an interesting point about the Democratic leadership:

Remember "the Washington Generals?"

They were the basketball team that toured with the Harlem Globetrotters - a team that was beaten and humiliated at every "game," as they were meant to be.

The Globetrotters put on a great show, but it was just that: a "show," an exhibition, but no more an authentic "game" than a WWF "smackdown" is authentic wrestling. But the opposing team, "The Generals," were an indispensable part of the comedy show, as were the phony "referees." Getting creamed by the Globetrotters, and looking pathetic and foolish in the process, was the role of the Washington Generals in the charade, masquerading as a basketball game.

Ernest Partridge is about to castigate the Dems mainly for their reaction - or non-reaction - to what looks more and more like a cooked election, but I want to leave that aside for a minute, because it's not just the final scoring, it's also the play that matters, and the Dem leadership seems to be playing to lose. I don't just mean presidential politics, I mean everything.

Josh Marshall, talking about Democrats who seem primed to cave on Social Security, calls them the Fainthearted Faction. I suppose it's not really a surprise that Harold Ford, who ran against Pelosi for House Minority Leader saying she was too far left, is one of them. Josh has some advice for him.

I'm not actually sure yet what the Kerry campaign's real attitude is with the election. As I understand it, they have quietly had people in the back of the room wherever the voting issue is being handled - waiting to see if they are needed. They are now filing in Ohio, so they certainly aren't out of the fight.

The fact that Kerry conceded means that the media spotlight has been elsewhere, but some people think that's a good thing, because it means the right-wing noise machine is off the case, and they haven't sent their bourgeois riot-squad in or anything. The Fox squawkers haven't floated as many anti-ballot-counting memes as they might have. And the fact that Kerry conceded immediately helps lend to the perception that the ballot-counting now is less "partisan".

(The downside, I can tell you from what we call "field research", is that over here a lot of people think we actually voted for George Bush. There is little coverage of the continuing challenge and the known anomalies. Conyers' letters are not front-page news in the Guardian. So a lot of people are back to thinking an awful lot of America is made up of war-mongering morons. The only good thing there is that the "divided nation" meme has penetrated enough that they figure it's really only about half of us that are really stupid and hateful.)

In any case, it could very well be that the Kerry campaign has just decided to try a stealth strategy to investigate the vote - possibly even win it in the end. We still have a little time left.

But whatever the Kerry campaign is up to, the Dem leadership as a whole does behave as if they are employed for the purpose of creating the illusion of an opposition party - but an opposition that mainly thinks the Republicans are really right (but we just don't like to admit it). And, to be honest, there are days when I think that's just what they're doing.
19:00 GMT

Boxing Day

Why, yes, I do have a Christmas tree image for every day from Solstice to the Epiphany - why do you ask?

Yesterday I was singing, "Have yourself a touchy-feely Christmas...." I got a silk dressing-gown in my favorite color (royal blue), so I was stroking that a lot, and a cashmere scarf (pink, so it goes with my weblog), so I was stroking that a lot, too. Mmmmm....

Simon's new prezzie produced a neat photo. (Fix your Sideshow link, Simon!)

Roxanne's Christmas Eve post has a good snow picture, and she had a musical gift to us for Christmas Day.

Idlechatter, Joe Quesada's band, does a Christmas song each year, and lyrics and the .mp3 are available at Newsarama: Alternate Cover, for comic fans. (Via Ten Thirty-One Productions.)

Simbaud presents The Bloggers' Christmas.

Maru's picture for Christmas Day has lots of snow (you know me, I like snow pictures). The rest of WTF Is It Now's Christmas post. I sure wish that page would load faster.

Watch The Snowman.
15:37 GMT

Looking for Democracy

This story in yesterday's New York Times notes that Republicans seem reluctant to treat votes as important to elections:

A State Supreme Court justice in Washington State, Susan Owens, put it best when she addressed Republican attempts to disallow more than 700 uncounted ballots in the photo-finish governor's race there. "You're looking at it from the point of view of the winner or the loser," she said. "Shouldn't we be looking at it from the point of view of the voter?"
Indeed (as someone would say). And the fact that the election now seems to have swung to the Democrat doesn't change anything - those 700-some votes should still be counted.
Right now, a battle over a State Senate seat in Yonkers has been dragging on for nearly two months. Three things - incompetence, cynicism and hypocrisy - have kept it unresolved.

It took several days to deal with the first problem: poll workers who were not up to the job of entering digits from the mechanical voting machines into the election-night tally. After every machine was double-checked, the incumbent state senator, Nicholas Spano, a Republican, saw his 1,600-vote lead over Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democratic county legislator, shrink to a handful.

Wait a minute - a 1,600-vote data entry problem? Really?
Sensing a trend, his lawyers tried a goal-line defense, raising technical objections against hundreds of uncounted paper ballots. They became civic sticklers, arguing that it was important to keep any impure ballots from fouling the electoral process - or causing Mr. Spano, Albany's third-most-powerful senator, to lose his job.
With Mr. Spano now ahead by 58 votes, the race has come down to about 600 still-uncounted absentee and provisional ballots. They include the votes of poll workers who filed absentee ballots on Election Day, following the longstanding practice of the county Board of Elections; of people who went to the right polling places but were sent to tables for the wrong election districts at those polling places; and of those who voted in entirely wrong polling places.
A lot of people have already commented on the creepiness of creating a situation in which poll-workers have apparently traded away their right to vote (after the fact!) in exchange for helping at the polls in the first place, but let's not overlook that last category - people who went to the wrong polling place. Republicans like to tell us this is just more evidence of voters who shouldn't be allowed to have their votes counted, on the grounds that they didn't follow the rules or were too stupid to find out where to vote, but the reason for the increasingly large number of people who seem to get it wrong is that they did bother to try to find out and were given incorrect information - and there is reason to suspect that this, too, was part of the voter-suppression effort.

The NYT has it right when it says, "We hold to a simple principle: if a registered voter casts a ballot in good faith, that vote should count."

I don't see why anyone would want to argue with that, unless they were trying to violate the integrity of the electoral process.

Everythingisruined, quoting a Washington Post story, says even Vlad is right about this:

"Do you think that the electoral system in the United States is without flaws?" Putin said. "Need I remind you of how their elections were held in the United States?"
Well, right, and who are we to talk about democracy until we get one of our own? Or, as Jean-Paul puts it:
Exactly. Thanks to the shenanigans of the last few elections in the US, along with the recent election in Afghanistan and the upcoming election in Iraq, the US has no moral or political authority when it comes to the nuts and bolts of democracy. Our general attitude, "Sure it's not perfect but it's better than no election at all," might as well apply to Russia as well. Russia was a monarchy and then a Communist state; shouldn't we just be happy that they bother with elections at all, even if those elections are full of flaws, hijinks, and the occasional attempted murder? For the US to complain about Ukraine--what with its own problems, and also with letting Musharraf and the Saudis do what they do--is kinda like the Catholic hierarchy complaining about other people's sexual practices. Some guy said something about casting first stones that I think may be appropriate here.
I'm sure you can see where he's going with this. And it's just one more reason to be pissed off at the Democratic leadership wasting time trying to find ways to cave in on Social Security and reproductive rights when there really is something more important to do. Jean-Paul puts it like this:
For the next two years, there is only one issue: electoral reform. Everything else has to wait.
Rights and freedoms are pretty hard to defend without the ballot box to back it up. They're taking that away - and who's gonna stop them?
01:28 GMT

Saturday, 25 December 2004

Believers at Christmas

From Deborah, Faith Is Not a Photo Op:

In the meantime, if the secularized greeting of the perfume spritzer in the department store affects your celebration of the birth in Bethlehem, you've really lost your way. Luckily, for most truly religious people, observing the feast is not about shouting "Merry Christmas" at passersby to show that you believe even if they do not, an exercise in smug superiority disguised as faith. It is an interior process of considering the lessons the child in the manger would teach once grown.

So if people are really worried about keeping Christ in Christmas, they might personally exhibit tolerance and charity, kindness and generosity. It is the ultimate exercise of style over substance to whine about the absence of "O Holy Night" at public events. The real point is in taking the lyrics to heart: "Truly he taught us to love one another/His law is love and his gospel is peace." And if saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" offers someone who is not of your faith more comfort and joy-well, 'tis the season for both.

Appropriate to the day, Fred Clark explains why those steeped in the ideology of Left Behind are not actually celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, in Cursed are the peacemakers:
For those not initiated into the cabalistic logic of PMD prophecy freaks, this seems counter-intuitive. Peace, after all, is generally regarded by Scripture as a Good Thing. Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The Messiah is described as the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6-7). Peace is often spoken of by God's angels, including the heavenly host of the Christmas story in Luke 2 (cue Linus), who sing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
But none of this matters to the prophecy nuts who are convinced that the Antichrist will be a man of peace. And since they believe that the most important thing for Christians to do is to be on the lookout against the Antichrist, and vigilantly opposed to his evil ways, they believe that Christians must oppose anyone who speaks of, pursues, or tries to make, peace.

This is one of the most astonishing and dangerous aspects of the popularity of the End Times heresies promoted by people like LaHaye and Jenkins. It is one of this biggest reasons why this matters -- deeply, truly, seriously matters.

Tens of millions of copies of the Left Behind books have been sold. That doesn't just mean that tens of millions of our fellow citizens have horrible taste in literature. It also means they are being taught to oppose -- to condemn as immoral and ungodly -- any effort that goes under the name "peacemaking."
And that is why many American Christians oppose any effort to bring peace to the Middle East. No, really, that's why. Because of Daniel 8:25.

But, from Teresa, a more familiar quotation.
17:46 GMT

Merry Xmas!

This is our actual tree this year. It's smaller than it looks, but Rob has artfully framed it to eliminate the evidence that it is actually sitting on the diningroom counter. (Most of the blue seems to have been sucked out of the picture, too.) It's about four feet tall and fake. It's cute, but I miss the proper Christmastime aroma of a real tree.

Our usual annual items for the day:

Mark Evanier's wonderful little Christmas story about Mel Tormé.

Tom Robinson's song about the 1914 Christmas Truce, and the truces we make every year at this time.

And The Daily Brew's post of the letter about the truce from someone who was there.

The one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol from an ancient Xmas edition of Ansible. (This, I have noticed for more than a month, is something I get an enormous number of Google hits for - more than anything else, lately.)

And it may seem like a load of old kitsch to you, but I still love Marley's speech:

"It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"
"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

Scrooge trembled more and more.

"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!"
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

I think that's everything from the last few years. And Auntie Beeb says it'll be sunny and cold in London.
05:02 GMT


Moose & Squirrel (of Moose & Squirrel) turned me on to WDIA in Memphis and I am digging the music but for some reason the more I listen the more down-beat I seem to get. I mean, look at the direction I went in:

Is this beautiful, or what? (The details.)

The Holy Grail of Crap

A real gift from Crooksandliars - the video of Uncle Frank on CNN giving it to John Lofton. Via, The Stinging Nettle, and yeah, we sure do miss him.

Why you need to reach out, before it's too late.

A heartbreaking reminder of what it means when we lose our souls rather than remember why we are liberals, from Digby.

Well, tonight, thank God it's them, instead of you.
03:04 GMT

Friday, 24 December 2004

A bloggy Christmas Eve

Three out of four people in my sitting-room are playing on their laptops, and the fourth keeps going out to the kitchen, anyway.

Me, I was checking out The Daou Report to see how many wingers were having fun pretending that they never resort to using the courts - I mean, they would never file suit in the Supreme Court to prevent ballots from being counted, for example. (You dishonest phonies.) It's the same with "Tort reform" - everyone who actually knows about frivolous lawsuits knows that most of them are filed by corporations, but they just want the law to stop ordinary people from suing them, with an exemption that still allows them to sue us frivolously. Or, rather, in their case, maliciously.

And now even Dana Milbank is writing about "the attack on Christmas" - but Kevin Drum says it all turns out to be apocryphal stories, anyway.

However, I became completely distracted when Jordin said, "Do you want to see the Gingerbread Kama Sutra? "Where'd you find that" I asked. "Boing Boing, third or fourth one down," he said. And sure enough, there it was, along with a link to to Declan's very tasty Holiday greeting.
23:57 GMT


Dueling Quotes from Bartcop:

"This guy in office is an uneducated, real lying schmuck.
...and we still couldn't beat him with a bore like Kerry."
--Chevy Chase, who also called Dubya a 'dumb fuck', at the Kennedy Center Attribution (9-11 p.m. EST Tuesday on CBS)

"You don't see this kind of thing on the right. You don't see prominent conservatives cursing out Democratic members of Congress, for example."
--Bill O'Reilly, responding to Chevy Chase, Attribution

Dear Mr. O'Reilly, you are a lying, partisan whore.

  • Chevy Chase is not a "prominent" Democrat
  • Chevy Chase did not "curse out" Bush - he wasn't even in the room.
  • When Cheney told Pat Leahy (D-Whimp) to "go fuck yourself," you applauded his manliness on your little right-wing hate show.
  • Blow me.
It's hard to disagree with that sentiment.

Via the same page, have some Republican Christmas Carols by Richard Nathan.

Satan's Laundromat with some photoblogging in Brixton. In particular, don't miss Lego Gitmo. Via Bill Gibson.
19:45 GMT

Didn't they learn anything?

Kevin Drum is bewildered by the big abortion controversy that's apparently brewing in the Democratic party, and quotes The Los Angeles Times:

The fight is a central theme of the contest to head the Democratic National Committee, particularly between two leading candidates: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who supports abortion rights, and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November election unless it shows more tolerance on one of society's most emotional conflicts.

.....If Roemer were to succeed Terry McAuliffe as Democratic chairman in the Feb. 10 vote, the party long viewed as the guardian of abortion rights would suddenly have two antiabortion advocates at its helm. [Harry] Reid, too, opposes abortion and once voted for a nonbinding resolution opposing Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

This is, of course, a lot of nonsense. As Kevin points out, there's more intolerance on this issue in the Republican Party than in the Democratic Party, and anyway the pro-choice position is still the majority position.

And as The Mahablog reminds us, even the moderate position on abortion is wimpy and wrong. The Republicans want us to know that there can be "emotional consequences" from abortion, for example. The moderates all nod and agree that it's a rough business. And yes, it is. But do you really think it's easier to have a baby?

Look, pretty much everyone I know who has had an abortion regards it as a sad time in their life, but they chose it as the best of a bad bunch of choices. No one I know who put a child up for adoption has ever stopped grieving over it.

As far as health risks are concerned, is there really anyone who doesn't know that abortion is virtually always safer than carrying to term? Anyone? (Well, sure there is, because the anti-abortion faction has spent a lot of time trying to seed that lie. There is nothing moral or decent or compassionate about having to lie to make your position sound moral and decent and compassionate.)

But I have to repeat myself here: The only pro-life position is the pro-choice position.

Listen up. Banning abortion doesn't stop abortion. When abortion is illegal, it goes hand in hand with reduced (good, accurate) sex education and with reduced availability of reliable birth control. You have seen this happening right now - you have seen that as the anti-choice people become more successful and see victory within their grasp, they have become bolder about trying to make birth control less available - not just for teenagers, or single people, but for everyone. They have actually implemented a deliberately deceitful "sex education" program that directs young people away from making informed, responsible choices. Don't kid yourself that it isn't all part of the same thing.

When abortion is legal and accepted, you're more likely to have good sex education and good birth control available. Good sex education - and I don't mean the half-hearted versions we've had in America; I mean the real thing, starting at the elementary school level, like they have in Europe - actually reduces the likelihood that young people will have intercourse at a young age, and increases the likelihood that when they do have sex, they will take proper precautions. And that means they are less likely to ever need an abortion. That is how you reduce abortion rates.

The evidence is that nations that ban abortion don't actually reduce the number of abortions, they only reduce the number of safe abortions. Because nations that ban abortion also make birth control less accessible, there are more people having unwanted pregnancies, and a significant percentage of them will have illegal abortions. And illegal abortions kill more people than clinical abortions do - that is, they kill more mothers.

Anti-choice people don't care if abortions kill mothers. They want abortion to be illegal because they want to punish women. That's part of the agenda.

Do you understand this? You cannot save lives by banning abortion. All you do is increase the misery index.

Democrats must never capitulate to this kind of dishonesty. And if you think it's such a moral position, look at the terms of the debate: They're not saying we should weaken our position on abortion because that would be more moral, they're saying we should weaken our position on abortion to get votes. What's so moral about that? They want us to jettison principle as part of a cynical partisan effort. To hell with that.

Chris Bowers provides one more reason why Tim Roemer Should Not Become DNC Chair: The upcoming battle to save Social Security from destruction by lying, rampaging conservatives is the single biggest domestic issue we have faced in the country in a decade. During this fight, we do not need the chair of the DNC to be in favor of said destruction. Unless Roemer publicly, loudly and completely repudiates his recent position on Social Security, he is utterly unacceptable as DNC chair.
15:47 GMT

I'm in a good mood

Welcome to another blogger in pink at An Ethereal Girl's Adventures in Cyberland, where I found this smashing photo of Christmas Island, and a great Christmas present for those few who could afford it. (And, oh, yeah.)

'Christmas will not be privatised', writes award winning author China Miéville in this exclusive short story. 'We are the Gay Men's Radical Singing Caucus!' the lead singer yelled in his exquisite tenor. 'Proud to be fighting for a People's Christmas!' Via Polonius' Journal.

Vaara reads a fake "centrist" blog so you don't have to.

Anne Zook posted something! I hope she makes a habit of it. Anyway, she's got a link to Geov Parrish's 2004 Media Follies!

What he said.
04:30 GMT

I like this a lot better than using RICO

From Planned Parenthood:

It's an ingenious idea. Create a no-win situation for anti-choice protesters - the more picketers who demonstrate outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, the more donations the Planned Parenthood clinic receives.

A number of Planned Parenthood affiliates have created different versions of this scenario. Here's how it works at Planned Parenthood of Central Texas (PPCT) in Waco, where the Pledge-a-Picket program is going strong: Each time a protester shows up at the clinic, a donation is made to PPCT. This campaign makes lemonade out of lemons by allowing Planned Parenthood supporters to pledge between 25 cents and one dollar per protester.

Via Xoverboard, via that linking fool at FoolBlog.
03:04 GMT

Help save democracy - while you can

John Conyers has called for a million e-mails asking the Judiciary committee to hold a full investigation of voting problems in the 2004 elections. Write to them here.

There's more here and here at Kos. And check out Ohio Voter Suppression News for more.

Free Speech Zone has the video of voter suppression in black neighborhoods if you really want to get pissed off:

This video footage is a must see for everyone who feels a concern regarding the gross injustices that took place in African American precincts in Ohio on election day. We have done the civil rights movement in this country already. Heck we have had to do it a few times. Yet, if you feel that everyone is indeed equal, then you are not paying attention. Through deceitful manipulation of information and equipment, the citizens of Ohio were often turned away from voting booths. This footage, which is in 2 parts, is a documentation of what took place on Nov 2nd. It is only a small part of the larger story.
Earlier this week, Keith Olberman was thinking maybe things weren't as bad as they looked, but maybe he's changed his mind.

And here's an article about Wendy Orange, who resigned from a voting machine company because:

In her letter of resignation, Orange said she found the corporate philosophy at ES&S to embody unethical and disreputable practices. She said she had "personally witnessed open discussions of potentially illegal procedures."
Let's not pretend it was all an accident, eh?
01:30 GMT

Thursday, 23 December 2004

It's nice to have friends

Charles Dodgson takes off from that Road to Surfdom post about how India thinks America is irrelevant and points out that it's all much worse than that:

Well, if your hobby is handicapping this competition, here's good news for the Chinese side. Dubya's good friend Pooty-poot is now talking about letting the Chinese operate Russian oil fields, including some of those which were just seized from the apparently too independent Russian energy company, Yukos. (It's an interesting transaction, to say, the least, in which a shadowy group of hitherto unknown buyers placed the winning bid at a state-run auction, and then immediately flipped the oil fields to a state-run oil company). Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the Chinese are also buying into Canadian oil exports, which right now are headed almost entirely towards the United States.
It seems that just about everyone these days would rather deal with, well, almost anyone other than the United States - a prospect that was inconceivable four years ago. I can already guess what this administration thinks is the way to deal with attempts by any other country to freeze us out of their markets, but this time it won't just be a question of whether we can beat the communists or the Muslim world or whoever - with the help of our allies. Now it will be a question of whether we can beat the whole world - and we have no allies.
16:44 GMT

Bitchin' cool

Live aurora webcast from Alaska
This site is absolutely wonderful - extensive photo gallery and a live webcam watching the aurora for you all night long. I love it.

Fred Clark left me a Solstice present on the day, but I didn't see it at the time. But that's all right, I enjoyed it all the same. Blessed Solstice. Now that's the Christian spirit - thanks, Fred!

Jim Henley: Life Imitates Ray Davies - Other blogs will give you the "French Teenagers Beat Up Santa Claus" story. Some of them will even draw the parallel with the classic Kinks song, "Father Christmas." But only Unqualified Offerings will run the lyrics to "Father Christmas" through Google Translator, to give you a sense of the French Santa's own perspective, and only Unqualified Offerings, realizing you probably don't speak much French yourself (if you're a patriotic American), will run the French version back through Google Translator to translate it back into regular talk. Here it is: No, you'll have to go there to read it.

Mark Evanier always has some great stuff around this time of year (and I'm dearly hoping that he will post a fresh link for the Mel Tormé story, since the old one doesn't work anymore). This week he's pointing you to the Pogo site, which has some Christmas strips and the lyrics to "Deck Us All With Boston Charlie" and stuff like that.

From Epicycle: Via my space-guru friend Mike (and as he says, some people really do have too much time on their hands - in this case, four years) full instructions for building your own working reproduction of the Block I Apollo Guidance Computer. As well as being the flight computer for the moon landings, the AGC was also the world's first integrated circuit computer. It's a fascinating project... Also: The 12 Bugs of Christmas. Oh, and Hello Cthulhu.

Who else but Mark at Biomes Blog would have found us this Poodle aerobics video?
15:32 GMT

Blogger's notebook

Note to those dimwits at I'm a liberal and I always have a tree. (Meanwhile, Jerry hears a giant sucking sound coming from AP.)

On War - two books considered by Chris Hedges in The New York Review of Books.

From a WaPo editorial last Saturday: IT SHOULDN'T TAKE much courage for Virginia's political leadership to favor reform of the way the state handles criminal appeals. However tough the justice system should be, nobody argues that convicts should not be able to appeal. Yet that is what is happening across the state. [...] In response to our inquiries, neither Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) nor Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R) endorsed change.

Bob Somerby continues to howl over the way the media is handling Social Security.

Marc Cooper's LA Weekly column on Gary Webb and how the LAT took the opportunity of Webb's death to smear him once again. (And has a nice photograph, too.) They had no excuse for the way they handled the obit - they had, after all, gotten the real skinny straight from Robert Parry.
03:42 GMT

Wednesday, 22 December 2004

Stolen Election

It's pretty obvious, isn't it? I mean, look at this stuff up at Help America Recount:

A pattern of disturbing election irregularities in state after state across the country raise alarming questions about how our voting process worked in the 2004 Presidential Election.  Widespread discrepancies, in the tabulation of ballots and unexplained gaps between reported results and exit polling data posted after all polls had closed, in states from Florida to North Carolina, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado and Washington State, have raised urgent calls for recounting the vote.  Significant problems include

Wow. "In one batch of provisional ballots all of the disqualified ballots were Democrat; all those that qualified were Republican." I'm also hearing that in one county the claim is that not one single overseas ballot contained a vote for Kerry. Not one.

Forget these machines, people. Don't even waste breath on paper receipts. Paper ballots, hand-counted on the night in full public view. Nothing less will do.
22:21 GMT

The So-called Liberal Media

Cursor says:

In his final episode as the host of "Now," Bill Moyers goes out telling what he has called "the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee." Plus: New York Times provides "platform for the radical right to slam Moyers."
Those links are pretty clickable, too. Just look at the very top of that final NOW transcript:
BRANCACCIO: Tonight on NOW, an investigation into the new political reality, where a partisan agenda rules the newsroom.

LEIBERMAN: We would do 5 stories a week out of our Washington bureau. Four of them, at the direction of my higher ups, were anti-Kerry stories and the fifth was normally a pro-administration story.

BRANCACCIO: Big media corporations insisting that their employees toe the party line.

GOYETTE: Management directed me to shut up about the war. I mean they simply told me to, you know, to shut up about the war.

BRANCACCIO: And do we have to sacrifice our freedoms to feel safe from terrorists?

ROMERO: The question that Americans and our Congress and our leaders have to ask is how do we want to live in our democracy in this age of terror.

BRANCACCIO: Anthony Romero of the ACLU. And I'll have a sneak peak at the investigative stories we're working on for next season.

And Bill Moyers says farewell to NOW.

ANNOUNCER: From our studios in New York, Bill Moyers and David Brancaccio.

That's just the skeleton of what the "liberal" media is up to.

There's a raft of stuff I missed at Cursor, in fact. Such as: Article posted on Florida League of Conservation Voters Web sites provides documentation in support of alleged vote machine fraud patterns in New Mexico, Ohio and Florida. Where we get details of this:

This is clear documentation that the "Default to Bush" pattern was programed into the touch screen vote equipment in large numbers of the precincts of the big touchscreen counties. The only question is who was responsible and what to do about it. This appears to explain the swing seen from the exit polls. The exit polls were correct, as they have been documented to have been in 2000.
And Cursor says: Washington State Democrats have claimed an eight-vote victory for Christine Gregoire after a hand recount in the governor's race. State of play:
Neither King County nor the Republican party could confirm the hand recount results on Tuesday night. But if the Democrats' analysis is correct, it's a stunning reversal in the gubernatorial race, which has been hotly contested ever since election day.

Republican Dino Rossi won the first count by 261 votes and won a machine recount by 42 votes, out of 2.9 million ballots cast. The hand recount did not include the 700-plus ballots cast in heavily Democratic King County that could widen any Gregoire lead if the state Supreme Court allows them to be counted.

Those 700-plus ballots are the ones that have never been counted.

And: Rep. John Conyers calls on TV networks and the AP to release raw exit poll data from the 2004 presidential election, and in 'The Case of the Ohio Recount,' Rick Perlstein argues that the election reform movement is "so uncoordinated, strategically unsound, and prone to going off half-cocked that it may end up hurting the crucial cause it seeks to help." The networks have said they will not release the data until after the inauguration.
19:48 GMT

Interesting stuff

The Mahablog has a couple of great posts I was going to quote from but there's just too much there. First there's So What Happened to Peace on Earth?, featuring links to articles by E.J. Dionne (What in the world is "Christian" about insisting on saying "Merry Christmas" to a devout Jew or Hindu who might reasonably view the statement as a sign of disrespect?), Ed Naha with a little history of both Christmas and the right-wing campaign to steal Christmas from the rest of us just like they did with the flag, and others. And Bush's War on Women, about how we have liberated the women of Iraq from rights they had before we did.

Jeanne D'Arc is back, with a little story telling us how liberals celebrate Christmas.

I am amazed to see this article in The Washington Post: In this world of irony, corporate leaders at companies as diverse as News Corp., Marriott International and Time Warner can profit by selling red state consumers the very material that red state culture is supposed to despise. Those elites then funnel the proceeds to the GOP, which in turn has used the money to successfully convince red state voters that the other political party is solely responsible for the decline of the civilization. Via TBogg.

This is how the "sensible people" are explaining it away: On its face, it's the effort of a bitter-ender to deny the obvious. Ohio's voting, like the voting in most states in every election, wasn't perfect. Local election officials failed to plan adequately for the increased turnout -- some 900,000 more voters than in 2000, creating long lines in many precincts. But nothing has surfaced to suggest systematic fraud. I guess nobody tells these people that they knew they were going to have a high turnout and deliberately refrained from putting enough machines at polling stations - wherever they thought there'd be a high Democratic turnout. (Like most conservatives, he still worries more about the alleged problem of dead people not yet removed from the voting rolls, although there is little evidence that there is much fraud as a result.) Via Memeorandum.

Gail Online has a bunch of links for good articles about Social Security, and a bunch of other things.

Gay GI Joe Theatre (Thanks to Phil Palmer for the tip.)
18:31 GMT


Birmingham Rhapsody, and thanks to Dominic of (Epicycle) for the tip.

Koufax Awards Nominations Closing; Kevin Hayden at The American Street has responded to calls for more categories by creating a kind of relief award, The Perranoski Prizes, named after Ron Perronoski, who was reliever for Koufax and Drysdale, and another lefty. Dwight Meredith offers his Perronoski nominations.

Privatize This! has a video they want you to see, Social Security Crapshoot.

I just found a blog called NevadaGayAtheist.

I can't remember if I've seen this Quizzing page before. (Can't remember where I found it, either.)

I missed Uncle Frank's birthday yesterday, but wood s lot didn't. (I had also forgotten that Phil Ochs was a December baby. And so, I see, is Billy Bragg.)
13:15 GMT

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Happy Solstice

The darkest day of the year deserves bright colored lights and warmth and good company, so I hope you've had some. We have - once the novocaine or whatever it is wore off we had a nice friendly dinner with Jordin and MKK (of Gallimaufry), who have come to share the holidays with us.

MadKane is celebrating the season with her own set of awards, of which I am a proud winner.

Get your G.I. Joe erotica fan fiction here. (Another great find by TNH.)

Scared of Santa photo gallery and Make your own snowflake, via The Biomes Blog.

If you think I'm bad with this holiday stuff on my blog, just look what Fafblog has done.
23:38 GMT

Social Security Deform

Elton Beard caught Bush giving the game away:

Almost Redundant. In his own words:
The Social Security system was designed in a, obviously, in an era that is long gone, and it has worked in many ways. It's now in a precarious position. And the question is whether or not our society has got the will necessary to adjust from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.
Can he be any clearer than that? No defined benefits. Forget partial privatization - Mr. Bush wants nothing less than to eliminate all government-guaranteed benefits for future elderly retirees. He just said so. Believe him.
Bill Scher says that the meme we've sent out is working
On the "crisis":
I think it's important for me to continue to work with members of both parties to explain the problem.

Because if people don't think there's a problem, we can talk about this issue until we're blue in the face, and nothing will get done.

Tapped recently expressed worry that the terms of the debate will become "how do we solve the crisis?" instead of "is there a crisis?"

But the Establishment presumption has been for some time that the system is in crisis.

So why is Bush saying he needs to talk to "members of both parties to explain the problem"?

Most likely, because the Dem/Krugman/blog pushback on the Establishment presumption of a crisis is working. (And on some GOPers too.)

It is forcing Bush back to Square One, to have the "is there a crisis?" debate.

If your desire to read more on the lack of crisis has not been sated, Digby says If it Ain't Broke Don't Fix It, and Kevin Drum discusses the debate strategy. Keep up the good work, guys.
22:39 GMT

Stuff I forgot to post before going to the dentist

Fred Clark locates more evidence of class warfare: You'll be hearing a lot more about the tax code's "complexity" in the coming months as part of the effort to bring about a national sales tax, or a VAT, or some other scheme to "simplify" the tax code so that it falls entirely on wages instead of investment. Who that will hurt, and who it will benefit, isn't all that complicated. Fred is also back on his Left Behind series.

Steve Gilliard checked out Snopes and learned that Walter Reed no longer wants you to send their patients phone cards, because your generosity has already provided them more than they can use. But our guys still need stuff. Even if Snopes says so.

The Mahablog has another fine example of how things have improved in Iraq since we got rid of Saddam: Christians are now afraid to celebrate Christmas.

That Colored Fella muses on David Sirota's The Democrat's Da Vinci Code and concludes that Dean must be the leader of the party and that we've got to get our message out rather than merely tweaking it.

Charles Kuffner found a piece on the balkanization of Christmas music, or why the oldies-but-goodies are most of what you get on even the newest Christmas albums.

Chris Bowers refers us to this from the ACLU: A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq.
17:07 GMT

Before they all disappear

I always hate it when Tony Blair uses the word "modernize", by which he usually means "privatize". Another word he uses for this same thing is "choice". Of course, Republicans have been doing it lately, too.

We keep being told that what we want is choice about schools and investments and medical plans and what-have-you, but Sebastian Mallaby reminds us that sometimes you have more choices than you want:

You see this truth in the behavior of the affluent, who actually pay to avoid choices. They hire home decorators so they don't have to stare glassily at 200 kinds of curtain rail. They hire marriage planners so they don't have to fret about cream napkins vs. white ones. There are said to be 10,000 wedding consultants practicing in the United States. If the rich are deliberately avoiding choice, why are we so sure that the majority want more of it?
We already chose Social Security, and we have been continuing to choose it for decades. Ask people if they want to "save" Social Security, and they say yes. It's only the constant lying by politicians (of both parties) and members of right-wing think-tanks about impending crisis for the program that has even made them think they ought to consider some other choice - because they have repeatedly been told that SS won't be there for them by the time they retire. And, of course, that could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Democrats don't fight to retain the choices we do want and also the choices we have already made, we are in trouble. Atrios advises:
Without debating the wisdom of any of these things, I want to point out that the Democrats have been running from or are in the process of running from their core positions on: gay rights, gun control, welfare, trade policy, affirmative action, reproductive rights, church/state separation, public education, progressive taxation, etc... etc... etc...

While policies are not ideology, they are the real world manifestation of it. If there is one issue which the Democrats should be able to claim loudly and proudly as their own, without apologies, it's social security. If they can't figure out how to do that, and to get their members in line, then they really will have lost.

Let your Democratic representatives know that if they won't stand up for you, they may find they are having to stand against you in the next primary race.
02:18 GMT

Monday, 20 December 2004

Pay attention: Stand up for reproductive rights

Max Blumenthal finds more evidence that "centrist" Democrats would rather sell out than stand up:

A sarcastic congratulations to Democrats for Life for escaping the moldy pages of right-wing clerical rags and making the Boston Globe. Run by Capitol Hill nebishes, defeated right-wing southern Dem relics like Charlie Stenholm -- who was just redistricted to death by Tom Delay -- and co-chaired by Nat Hentoff, who is in a class of his own, it's hard to imagine a world in which Democrats for Life is taken seriously. So when they become the media-appointed voice of moderation in the Democratic party, that's how you know the party is in a state of crisis -- one which seems to be largely self-created.
Kristin Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, said that during this year's campaign, she was frustrated by her inability to persuade the DNC to list the Internet link for her group on the DNC's website. But now, staffers for potential DNC candidates have been calling her to discuss including antiabortion Democrats in the party mix, she said.

My question is, how much access has Dems for Life had to Reid and Pelosi? Both of them would apparently like the next DNC chair to be Tim Roemer, who has a 95% National Right to Life rating.

This calls for mail to Reid and Pelosi, and this is what we have to tell them:

  • There is only one pro-life position on abortion, and it's the pro-choice position.
  • This isn't a choice between abortions or no abortions, it's a choice between safe, clinical abortions or lye and coat-hangers.
  • People who want to ban abortion don't want to stop abortion, they want to stop women from having control of their own bodies and to punish women who get pregnant.
  • The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to promote access to accurate and effective sex education and good birth control, especially for young people, and to promote the economic conditions that make women less likely to need abortions.
  • There is no way to position the Democratic Party as the anti-abortion party, so you'd better be prepared to defend it as the pro-choice party.

Most people are Democrats because they support liberal positions, and most Republicans are Republicans because they don't realize which party actually supports those positions. If they knew what the Republicans really stood for, they'd oppose them. We must not let the Democratic leadership continue to make us look more like Republicans. We have to tell them to stand up and be Democrats.
16:05 GMT

God bless America

Thanks to Kevin Drum for calling our attention to Road to Surfdom's post on how we're really Standing Tall in the eyes of the world - PNACered. Turns out more and more nations are acting rationally. And, rationally, they have to treat the United States as irrelevant. Our word is no good, our reasoning is no good, we don't play well with others, and we've cooked our economy. We're already giving them all our jobs and we don't actually make anything, so why should they deal with us as an equal? In India, they just don't care about us:

We consider ourselves as in competition with China for leadership in the new century. That's our focus and frankly, you have made it very difficult for us to deal with you. We find your approach to international affairs ridiculous. The invasion of Iraq was insane. [...] You lecture the world about dealing with dictators and you deal with Pakistan. We are very sorry for your losses from the 9/11 terror attacks. Welcome to our world. You threaten us with sanctions for not signing the non-proliferation treaty, but you continue to be nuclear armed and to investigate new weapons. You expect us to neglect our own security because you want us to. We don't care about sanctions.
Pretty ironic, when you remember all that talk about the UN being irrelevant back in the days when the administration was trying to convince us that invading Iraq was a bright idea. Those whack-jobs from Project for a New American Century thought they were going advance us as The World's Sole Superpower, and it's getting like we're Uganda or something as a result. Good job, guys!
14:11 GMT

Watching the bad guys

Jerome Armstrong on What Republicans Really Want: Many Republicans compared the Social Security card to involuntary servitude, serfdom, a Socialist Doctrine, and later, the New Deal to the NAZI National Socialist policies of Germany. But I'm sure there's more, much more, which the Republicans of today have long remembered, as they get ready to try and destroy what they detested being built in the first place. I'd like to see the present-day Republicans disavow the Republicans of the 1930's, to begin the debate.

The Brad Blog has solved its server problems and is back at, with streaming video of Clint Curtis' full sworn testimony about being asked by Feeny to write a vote-rigging program for the machines. Brad also says that a fairly good article has finally appeared in Florida's Seminole Chronicle giving serious treatment to the story.

Kung Fu Monkey explains southern Republicans.

Orange Alert - if it's good enough for Ukraine, it's good enough for us. Via GOTV, which also has indexed links to Bob Somerby's articles on the media's collaboration in the attack on Social Security.

Fiore: Rummy's Greatest Hits
03:30 GMT

Sunday, 19 December 2004

Things that shouldn't happen

TChris at TalkLeft says that AmSouth Bank is apparently terminating patrons' accounts because of their Middle-Eastern heritage.

Did you actually look at the numbers for the North Carolina vote? It's a bit tedious but it doesn't require advanced math - it just means reading the results for all the races. The thing about it is that in most races the absentee ballot counts were consistent with both the exit polls and the votes at the polls on election day - people appear to have told the truth to exit pollsters about who they voted for, and those who actually went to their polling station voted much the same way absentee voters did. Except in certain races where the results are anomalous. The question isn't whether Kerry really won (he didn't, by any count), but whether Erskine Bowles did; he beat Burr in absentee ballots by a mere .04%, but Burr came out 6.4% ahead at the polling stations. Also, pre-election polls, exit polls, and absentee ballot results all consistently showed Kerry six points behind, but at the polls he was 15 points behind. That suggests there was also something weird going on there. (Via The All Spin Zone.)

Theft of the Election, Redux: Why 2000 was Prelude to 2004 -- and the Democratic Party Got Mugged a Second Time at Buzzflash, excerpts the Vanity Fair article on Bush v. Gore and shows it as part of a larger pattern.

Via Atrios, another right-wing legend is born. Two guys get in a fight outside of a Toby Keith concert. The claim is that one was anti-war and assaulted the other because he was on leave from Iraq and wearing an Iraqi Freedom t-shirt. The story has been floating around among right-wingers, who apparently see this as evidence that those who opposed the invasion are violent. But the press left out the fact that the other guy had also served in uniform, and: Yesterday Cornwell pleaded guilty to a felonious assault on Barton. In his statement to the judge, Cornwell did not denounce the Bush Administration or the Iraqi invasion, or cry "Viva La Huelga." He told the judge that the fight outside the Toby Keith concert "started after the two exchanged insults about the other's military unit," according to the local news. But this one has already joined the phony stories about anti-Vietnam war protesters spitting on returning vets.
21:06 GMT

He is called

Chuck Baldwin, a former executive director of the Florida Moral Majority says, I Am A Conservative Christian, And The Religious Right Scares Me, Too:

No one can honestly question my commitment to pro-life, pro-family, conservative causes. That being said, the Religious Right, as it now exists, scares me.

For one reason, on the whole, the Religious Right has obviously and patently become little more than a propaganda machine for the Republican Party in general and for President G.W. Bush in particular. This is in spite of the fact that both Bush and the Republican Party in Washington, D.C., have routinely ignored and even trampled the very principles which the Religious Right claims to represent.

Therefore, no longer does the Religious Right represent conservative, Christian values. Instead, they represent their own self-serving interests at the expense of those values.

It also appears painfully obvious to me that in order to sit at the king's table, the Religious Right is willing to compromise any principle, no matter how sacred. As such, it has become a hollow movement. Sadly, the Religious Right is now a movement without a cause, except the cause of advancing the Republican Party.

Beyond that, the Religious Right is actively assisting those who would destroy our freedoms. On the whole, the Religious Right comports with those within the Bush administration and within the Republican Party who, in the name of "fighting terrorism," are actually terrorizing constitutional protections of our liberties.
I used to believe that liberals were paranoid for being fearful of conservative Christians gaining political power. Now, I share their trepidation.

Via The Left Coaster and a link-rich post with an amusing coda.
12:43 GMT

On the blog

In the absence of an actual David Brooks column yesterday, Attaturk found the one he wrote back in 1776: What the gentlemen of Philadelphia do not understand is that there are clearly two colonies. There is the blue-sided revolutionary colonists, who proclaim their desire to be free of the influence of what has been, and remains, the greatest power on earth. [...] Meanwhile, those who respect and are pleased to be part of that empire, and of which I will further discuss, the red-colonists are on the other.

Jean-Paul makes a recommendation: can watch this. Be sure to watch it until the end. It rendered me speechless and is probably a reason why I haven't written in a while. (It's not a political thing. It's just trying to imagine the thought-processes that went into creating it.)

I have been thinking that American Muslims are the new Jews, but I seem to be getting some disagreement. At Heart, Soul & Humor, it says Muslim-Americans Are the New Japanese-Americans, and at Orcinus, it says gays are the new Jews. But gays weren't exactly popular in the Third Reich - I had the impression that gays were the new gays, really.

Got yer democracy right here: KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) - President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who has reneged on his promise to step down as chief of the army by year's end, said he would address the nation soon to explain the decision. Cernig says: This step, unless condemned loudly by the US and Britain, will be seen as happening with the complicity of the Bush and Blair administrations.

Jess has solved the category problem.
10:41 GMT

Saturday, 18 December 2004

You might want to know

NOW: For the nearly 20 years she has been in Congress, Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has fought for fairness on the airwaves. Her latest legislation on the topic is HR 4710, "The MEDIA Act," which would reinstate the fairness doctrine and ensure that broadcasters present discussions of conflicting views on issues of public importance. Read the transcript of a web exclusive conversation between Bill Moyers and Congresswoman Slaughter below. Also on the NOW site: find out more about the fairness doctrine and media consolidation. Via Best of the Blogs.

Bush plans to convince people that destroying Social Security is safe by wasting a lot of money artificially inflating the stock market. Look, if you're going to spend all this money anyway, why not just sock it into the Social Security fund and thereby make sure it has plenty of money? Oh, wait, that might actually make Social Security more secure. South Knocks Bubba has a few words about what it all means. The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) doesn't appear to be fooled.

Conason in Salon says Torture begins at the top: A recently disclosed FBI memo indicates that "marching orders" to abandon traditional interrogation methods came from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld himself. Via The Daou Report.

Even more uncounted ballots have been found in Washington: A judge Friday granted a state Republican Party request to block the counting of hundreds of recently discovered King County ballots in Washington's extremely close governor's race. These are ballots that were not counted because of errors by pollworkers, not voters. But, true to form Republicans insist that if it's close, it's Democrats who are cheating. Check out Memeorandum to see their reaction.

Gary Webb apparently killed himself with two shots to the head. I note that there are two different stories on the gun - one involving a shotgun, the other crediting a .38. Xymphora is as sick of hearing people keep repeating the lie that Webb's reporting was "flawed" as I am. And: I'm also getting sick and tired of everyone accepting hook, line and sinker the official story that each one of these writer deaths is a suicide. Steve Kangas, Danny Casolaro, Dorothy Kilgallen, James Hatfield, Iris Chang, the list goes on and on. Shouldn't the onus be exactly the reverse? In any case where a truth seeker dies, shouldn't we assume assassination, with the onus on the establishment to prove it was a suicide? I think it is particularly insulting, with the stigma attached to suicide, to assume these warriors for truth killed themselves when they in fact 'died with their boots on' in the ongoing struggle to uncover what is really going on in the world.

Imagine my surprise.
18:24 GMT

Slate publishes this stuff

I can see why Kaus doesn't like permalinks - it would make it easier to find his stuff and try to hold him accountable for crap like his stellar plea for Bernie Kerik's right to have his transgressions kept hidden. So here's the post:

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Has Hillary committed any "intimate transgressions"? We'll soon find out! Hasn't Bernard Kerik performed a huge service for journalism (and the Republican party)? Because of his sacrifice, we now have a dramatically lowered standard for when the New York Times will report the intimate details of public figures' private lives. Kerik was having "clandestine love affairs" in a Battery Park City apartment he apparently paid for. The Times first reported these "intimate transgressions"--and named one of Kerik's partners, Titian-tressed titan Judith Regan--even after Kerik had withdrawn from consideration as Homeland Security secretary citing an illegal-nanny problem. ... Somwhere, Jeffrey Toobin is turning over in his grave. Toobin argued absurdly that a politician's sex life is off limits to journalists' because it "tells you absolutely nothing about their performance in office." But Kerik wasn't even going to perform in office! He was out. ... The Times, a principled organization, will presumably apply the Kerik precedent in years to come when Democratic figures are involved. I especially look forward to the paper's multiple-reporter investigation of Hillary Clinton's erotic life when she runs for Senate in 2006. All of her housekeepers need to be produced, of course, and if she has any lovers other than her faithful husband we'll find that out too! ... P.S.: Plus, following the Kerik precedent, it will be enough if "someone who spoke to" Hillary about any relationship can vouch for it. Hearsay evidence about sex is good enough for the Times! ... 2:13 P.M. [Emphasis in original.]

Note that Kaus is comparing documented corrupt, unethical, and in some cases illegal activity with an imagined possibility that there is something embarrassing in Hillary Clinton's personal life. Kaus is saying that wanting the known particulars of a mob-connected grafter to be taken into account when choosing the head of Homeland Security is lowering the bar, because someone might investigate Hillary Clinton, who could turn out to have a hidden love-nest somewhere. He appears to be advocating that nominations be blind - that there should be no vetting and no concern expressed in the press when this happens. Mark Kleiman reminds us:
At the request of Rudolph Guiliani, who would like to be President of the United States, George W. Bush, who is currently the President of the United States, nominated Bernard Kerik to be Secretary of Homeland Security, which ought to be an extremely important job.

Later it came out that Kerik had an extremely badly blotted copybook, both personal and official, of the kind that even the most cursory sort of background check would have discovered. This wasn't just someone who did something dumb once and exposed himself to a journalistic "gotcha"; this was a walking textbook of conduct disorder.

And certainly not someone who should even have been considered, let alone nominated, for the job in question. Yet Kaus seems to find it unseemly to say so. (We will pass on the irony of castigating the NYT, the paper that gave us the entire Whitewater fit-up, for publishing something negative about someone Bush shouldn't have nominated.)
16:03 GMT

Organizing principles

Well, of course, I've been saying this for pretty much the life of this weblog - what they're about isn't fiscal conservatism, it isn't individual freedom, it isn't strict Constitutionalism, it isn't even maintaining the structure, mores and folkways and ethic of America from its inception. It's just their hatred of us. However, although it's been obvious for a long time, I hadn't realized anyone had said it way back in the '80s, but John Dean now puts me straight in What Is Conservatism?

Sidney Blumenthal, then a staff writer at The Washington Post, concluded in his 1986 book, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power, that "conservatism requires liberalism for its meaning." For "without the enemy [of liberalism] to serve as nemesis and model, conservative politics would lack its organizing principle."

The ensuing decades, it seems, have only proved Blumenthal more right. Talk radio could barely exist without its endless bloviating about, and bashing of, all things perceived "liberal." And distaste for all that is considered liberal has remained a constant theme of conservatives. Ironically, this aversion persists even though many conservative believe that its object is dead. For example, in 1998, Newt Gingrich flatly stated, "The age of liberalism is over."

Nevertheless, condemnation of the liberal bogyman continues to unite conservatives of all stripes. Consider recent, bestselling conservative titles by Ann Coulter's work: Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right (2002), Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terror (2003), and currently How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).

Realizing what all conservatives are against, and what appears to hold them together, however, is not much of a definition of what they affirmatively believe in. We know what they all hate - but what, if anything, do they all love?

What they love is their hatred of liberals and liberalism. And hating liberalism is hating America. Make no mistake about this: the foundation of America is liberalism. Our form of government, from the very beginning, is liberal democracy. And, while they talk about how they love America while liberals do not, and how it is conservatives who adhere strictly to the Constitution, it is also abundantly clear that when they are given an opportunity to prove such things, they do the reverse.

Even professed libertarians, for the most part, keep hating liberalism closer to the heart of their beliefs than they keep libertarianism itself. How else to explain their willingness to call themselves conservatives rather than liberals, and to support Republicans rather than Democrats, even when conservatives/Republicans are clearly embarked on projects that directly conflict with libertarian principles? Identification with conservatism and support of Republicans is about no other principle than the hatred of liberals. It isn't even necessarily liberalism they hate (although they clearly despise any token or talisman that is associated with liberalism), since most of the libertarian program is itself primarily liberal. Yet they refuse to see themselves as part of liberalism, even when the only people who do not oppose them (on, say, drug laws) are liberals. Despite every evidence that the biggest and most oppressive programs come from conservative Republicans, they insist on identifying with the right wing.

How do they love America? They say they do, and that we don't, but how do they show it? By telling us that in order to love our country, in order to show our support for the Land of the Free, we must sacrifice our Constitutional freedoms. It is precisely our Constitutional freedoms that have historically made America the envy of the world, that gave us our strength. Yet look how eagerly they slash and burn them to "protect America".

In the aftermath of 9/11, all the while insisting that, "They hate us because they hate our freedoms," our conservative leaders made common cause with dictatorships (Pakistan!) and declared France to be our enemy. France!

What makes it so easy to hate France, and any other nation that shows every sign of being a liberal democracy, is that they've got liberal democracy. In the parlance of conservatives, any government that shows a concern for the welfare of its people is practically a communist state. But, wait:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
And that, my friends, is the organizing principle of liberalism. The "general Welfare" and "the Blessings of Liberty" are meant to be the goal of the United States of America - it says so in the very first sentence of the Constitution. It is the obligation of the government to "secure" these things for us.

But France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have "socialized medicine", so they are obviously indistinguishable from Stalinism, to hear conservatives tell it. That's why it was so easy for conservatives to start accusing Bill and Hillary Clinton of being communists when they campaigned for "Hillarycare". Although they sometimes claimed to despise this program because it was supposedly complicated or bureaucratic, the truth is that they opposed it precisely because it might actually work. The same reason they despise Social Security, which clearly does work. Because such programs promote the general welfare.

This is why conservatives must lie about what they are doing. They are trying to destroy Social Security while claiming they mean to save it. They have to lie, because no one with any sense, or any concern for our nation, would want them to succeed at destroying it. They make up reasons why any proposed national health insurance plan would fail, because they do not want one to succeed. They claim they want to stop abortion "to save lives" while instituting programs that are known to increase the likelihood of unwanted pregnancy and abortion. They empty our treasury and cut taxes to the rich while claiming to "improve" our economy. They construct a program of theocracy while claiming it's in aid of "freedom of religion". They claim to be "Constitutional constructionists" while stripping the Constitution of any meaning. They even restrict our travel and threaten to remove our citizenship for political reasons while claiming to "protect our freedoms".

Oh, they hate America, there's no question of that. The only question is why liberals hesitate to say so.
14:25 GMT

Talking bollocks

Jonathan Chait on crackpot economist Martin Feldstein's recent appearance at Bush's "economic summit" in Still Crazy After All These Years:

It was conservative economist Martin Feldstein giving his familiar spiel on taxes. Current tax rates, he said, "create bad incentives which slow down the rate of growth of the economy and hurt the standard of living." The point of Feldstein's lecture was that President Bush's tax cuts had made an enormous contribution to economic growth and, if we're not fully satisfied with the results, we ought to cut taxes yet again.

Feldstein's theory reflects the basic underpinning of Bush's economic agenda. The theory is that tax rates exert an enormous influence over people's (and especially rich people's) willingness to work hard and take risks. According to this view, countless potential entrepreneurs and innovators haven't bothered trying to get rich because of high taxes.

The corollary to this theory holds that tax cuts stimulate so much economic growth that they reduce tax revenue far less than conventional economists assume. Alas, the theory has failed every empirical test.
Frankly, it's amazing that anybody listened to Feldstein even then because he had made an equally bumbling prediction eight years before. In 1993, when Bill Clinton raised the top tax rate, Feldstein argued that because high-income workers are so sensitive to tax rates, they would dramatically change their behavior. Clinton's plan, he wrote, "reflects a fundamentally incorrect view of how taxes affect individual behavior." In another column, he thundered that "there is no possibility that the Clinton plan will produce the deficit reduction that it projects."

No possibility! Well, in case anybody has forgotten, the deficit actually dropped far more than anybody projected. Income tax revenue shot up through the ceiling. It's as if there was an actual invisible hand guiding the economy, and it grabbed Feldstein by the collar and screamed, "You're utterly, completely wrong, you fool!"

If rich people stop working hard because of high taxes - just hypothetically - doesn't that leave plenty of room for the non-rich among us to work hard and make more money until we, too, are rich enough to quit working? Just wondering....

But of course, no one stops working because of taxes. America was remarkably productive back in the days when the top marginal rate was two and even three times as high as it is now. Today taxes on the rich are extraordinarily low, and only idiots believe our economy is doing anywhere near as well as it did before those rates were lowered.

Paul Krugman says that falling for the Social Security privatization scam is Buying Into Failure:

Decades of conservative marketing have convinced Americans that government programs always create bloated bureaucracies, while the private sector is always lean and efficient. But when it comes to retirement security, the opposite is true. More than 99 percent of Social Security's revenues go toward benefits, and less than 1 percent for overhead. In Chile's system, management fees are around 20 times as high. And that's a typical number for privatized systems.

These fees cut sharply into the returns individuals can expect on their accounts. In Britain, which has had a privatized system since the days of Margaret Thatcher, alarm over the large fees charged by some investment companies eventually led government regulators to impose a "charge cap." Even so, fees continue to take a large bite out of British retirement savings.

I have previously discussed the true nature of "privatization", which just introduces inefficiencies and profit-driven middle-men, increasing costs on vital services without lowering your taxes in exchange. (Do you hear the Republicans suggesting that payroll taxes on ordinary workers be cut? No. Because then who would pay for their tax cuts on the wealthy?)
Privatizers who laud the Chilean system never mention that it has yet to deliver on its promise to reduce government spending. More than 20 years after the system was created, the government is still pouring in money. Why? Because, as a Federal Reserve study puts it, the Chilean government must "provide subsidies for workers failing to accumulate enough capital to provide a minimum pension." In other words, privatization would have condemned many retirees to dire poverty, and the government stepped back in to save them.

The same thing is happening in Britain. Its Pensions Commission warns that those who think Mrs. Thatcher's privatization solved the pension problem are living in a "fool's paradise." A lot of additional government spending will be required to avoid the return of widespread poverty among the elderly - a problem that Britain, like the U.S., thought it had solved.

See what I mean?

Bob Herbert on Fiddling as Iraq Burns:

This administration has many things on its mind besides the welfare of overstretched, ill-equipped G.I.'s dodging bombers and snipers in Iraq. In addition to the inauguration, which will cost tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Bush is busy with his obsessive campaign against "junk and frivolous lawsuits," his effort to further lighten the tax load on the nation's wealthiest individuals and corporations, and his campaign to cut the legs from under the proudest achievement of the New Deal, Social Security.
You wonder, with so much at stake, where to look in the Bush constellation for the care and competence that the times call for. Colin Powell is heading toward the exit, to be replaced by Condoleezza Rice, who did her best to petrify the nation with loose talk about mushroom clouds. Dick Cheney would still have us believe in a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

The man who took the lead in vetting Bernie Kerik, the White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, was also the point person in the administration's bid to duck the constraints of the Geneva Conventions, and even to justify torture.

Mr. Gonzales is a favorite of the president, who has nominated him to be attorney general and may someday appoint him to the Supreme Court.

Medals anyone? The president may actually believe that this crowd is the best and brightest America has to offer. Which is disturbing.

Do they know this? God, how could they not know it? I think they do. I think they do these things because they hate our country. I want to know why they hate our country so much.
03:02 GMT

Life's little absurdities

Some guy was convicted of possession of drugs in New York, even though he wasn't in New York when he was alleged to have possessed the drugs - he was in California.

Keith Moon was pretty much like you thought. (Via The Dust Congress)

Bush to Google before making dumb nominations.

20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA (Via Shut Up Already)
00:59 GMT

Friday, 17 December 2004

What they're up to

TChris at TalkLeft has the Stupid Law of the Week: Strippers in San Antonio will now be required to wear an "identification badge" while working. Requiring strip club employees to wear such badges will, according to the city council, "increase safety." Of course, displaying the real names of strippers will actually jeopardize their safety by exposing them to stalkers, but common sense often has little to do with legislation -- and the stated purpose often has little to do with the true purpose, which in this case is probably a desire to drive the clubs out of business.

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest has some really breath-taking offenses from the right-wing news, such as their apparent outrage that nice old General Pinochet has been indicted, and the Courage Award being given to the SwiftVet Liars - to be awarded by Zell Miller. (It's not real award, of course, it's just from the American Conservative Union.) And, oh, yeah, Bernie Kerik is the innocent victim of the liberals and their politics of personal destruction. No, really!

The right-wing nuts' latest, as you can't help but notice by now, is to try to pretend that "left" is making an all-out assault on Christmas. So they are all leaping up to defend it, of course. Which brings to mind this from Elayne Riggs: Another great column from Frank Rich, reiterating what a lot of us have been talking about, the absurdity of the claim advanced by a small sect of fundie Christians that secularists and non-Christians are out to eliminate their religion, holidays, etc., while what they're actually doing is pushing their beliefs on everyone who doesn't share them. It's the same "I know you are but what am I" schoolyard bullying the folks in power have been doing the last four years - accusing their opponents of actions they are actually undertaking. Someone ought to keep score, you know? The minute these loonies accuse others of doing something, we need to publicize how they're shifting blame away from their own guilty consciences.
23:43 GMT

The DLC are not Centrist

Take this to heart.

David Sirota is Debunking 'Centrism':

Looking out over Washington, DC, from his plush office, Al From is once again foaming at the mouth. The CEO of the corporate-sponsored Democratic Leadership Council and his wealthy cronies are in their regular postelection attack mode. Despite wins by economic populists in red states like Colorado and Montana this year, the DLC is claiming like a broken record that progressive policies are hurting the Democratic Party.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "centrism" as "the political philosophy of avoiding the extremes of right and left by taking a moderate position." So to find out what is really "mainstream," the best place to look is public polling data.

Let's start with economic policy. The DLC and the press claim Democrats who attack President Bush and the Republicans for siding with the superwealthy are waging "class warfare," which they claim will hurt Democrats at the ballot box. Yet almost every major poll shows Americans already essentially believe Republicans are waging a class war on behalf of the rich--they are simply waiting for a national party to give voice to the issue. In March 2004, for example, a Washington Post poll found a whopping 67 percent of Americans believe the Bush Administration favors large corporations over the middle class.
On taxes, self-described "centrists" like Senator Joe Lieberman, a senior DLC leader, attacked proposals to repeal the Bush tax cuts to pay down the deficit. Yet even the DLC's pollster found in 2001 that a majority of Americans support such a policy, and that a strong plurality of voters would actually be more likely to vote for a Democrat who endorsed this proposal. Lieberman caricatured those in favor of repeal as extreme, claiming a repeal would alienate millions of voters who supposedly feel the tax cut helped them. Yet a September 2004 CBS News poll found that 72 percent of Americans say they have either not been affected by the Bush tax cuts or that their taxes have actually gone up.

On healthcare, we are led to believe that it is a "liberal," "left" or "socialist" position to support a single-payer system that would provide universal coverage to all Americans. But if you believe the Washington Post, that would mean America was some sort of hippie commune. The newspaper's 2003 national poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans say they prefer a universal healthcare system "that's run by the government and financed by taxpayers" as opposed to the current private, for-profit system.

And so it goes with prescription drugs, energy policy, "free trade", you name it:
Despite this overwhelming evidence, Washington, DC, Democrats apparently have not gotten the message that their current definition of "centrism" is actually pulling the party further and further out of the mainstream. Instead, insiders are doing their best ostrich imitation: putting their heads in the sand, pretending nothing is wrong and continuing down the same path that sells out America's working class--the demographic that used to be the party's base.
So it turns out that Michael Moore, who made his name looking at the effect of corporatist policies on ordinary working people, is closer to the mainstream than the so-called "centrists" are.

This is another one of those columns you should print out and send to every Democratic legislator you can think of. (Send copies to people like James Carville and other party consultants, too.) Hammer it home that they are harming the party if they don't object to the way DLC-types are characterizing at least two-thirds to 80% of the voting public as "extreme left" and "out of the mainstream".

And not just the Democrats. Don't let the press get away with this stuff, either. Be ready to write a letter every single time you see the DLC or other corporatists, Dem or Rep, identified as "centrist", or anyone with genuinely mainstream views labelled "extremist" or "left". It's the so-called left that's the real center. And that's what Americans want to see the party fight for.
12:35 GMT

Meanwhile, in the election...

Ohio Voter Suppression is another good place to get caught up, and they have the latest letter to the FBI from John Conyers:

Following hearings in Columbus Monday, Congressman John Conyers has sent a request to the FBI to investigate apparent tampering with the Hocking Co. Board of Election's voting equipment by the Triad Corp. The Ohio newspapers have been oddly silent on this, but the NY Times has the story here. The following is the text of Conyer's letter to the FBI. Thanks to for this.
As part of the Democratic staff's investigation into irregularities in the 2004 election and following up on a lead provided to me by Green Party Presidential Candidate, David Cobb, I have learned that Sherole Eaton, a Deputy Director of Board of Elections in Hocking County, Ohio, has first hand knowledge of inappropriate and likely illegal election tampering in the Ohio presidential election in violation of federal and state law.
Ohio Counts is also following the story, and reports that the Ohio court threw out the most recent election challenge on a technicality, but it is likely to be refiled.

In Seattle, the canvassing board voted to recanvass 573 ballots that had been improperly rejected earlier.
02:26 GMT

What they say when you're not listening

I missed this earlier at Seeing the Forest, but fortunately the Shameless Agitator brought it to my attention:

Out of public view, Bryce Christensen tells conservatives something different - he lays out the real reason for the protection of marriage campaign. Writing in the ultra-conservative magazine, The Family in America, he says that he and other conservatives behind the campaign are not really concerned about same-sex marriage; they really want to force women back into submissive, trapped, traditional wife roles like those described in the Old Testament of the Bible.
There are actually three underlying - and definitely darker - strategies, all working simultaneously in the coordinated right wing marriage campaigns, each reinforcing the other. First, the Right is building on the success of the wedge issue of gay marriage to keep their Christian base engaged and active in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Second, by framing their actions as strengthening marriage, they are relying on polls and market research that shows women respond positively to words and actions seeking to improve personal relationships - especially marriage. They are betting the strengthening of marriage campaign will shift some female votes away from Democrats. And third, they are able to quietly and deceptively move on a bundle of policies designed to blunt the progress women have made on equal rights in order to force them back into second class status, a central goal of the Christian Right.
The funny thing is, they don't try to keep this a secret - it's just that the same sort of people who pretend that the Republicans couldn't possibly try to cheat in an election are pretending that none of these people could possibly have enough influence to effect the kind of changes they want, so it's not worth mentioning them in public. And I guess it's just an amazing coincidence that Bush's policies are absolutely consistent with this program.
01:19 GMT

Thursday, 16 December 2004

Bad idea-watch

Jesse Taylor on Corporate Protection: Tort "reform" has not only not worked anywhere it's been implemented, but its sole point is to remove protections for consumers and make companies, doctors and contractors less responsible for their actions. The last thing we need is for the government to step in and say we need less protections against bad doctors, negligent corporations, and incompetent builders. Want less medical malpractice suits? Get bad doctors out of medicine. Want less class-action suits? Get the FDA to police food supplies, drug makers, etc. Want fewer asbestos suits? Get builders to comply with asbestos laws.

Jesse also notices a recurring problem - conservatives with really dopey explanations for why Social Security Deform is really okay. Jesse found one of them at Tech Central Shill, and Mark Kleiman explains why one of the Volokh conspirators is missing something.
23:43 GMT

You might want to know

Charles Kuffner alerts me to the fact that the lawyers for Tom DeLay's corporate cronies are in full whine.

Congratulations to "Ampersand" of Alas, a Blog, for being a profiled cartoonist in The Washington Past. On the blog itself, Barry writes about the choice of being gay or fat.

Daniel Pipes notices that Jews and Catholics aren't the only ones who play with sometimes downright unlikely moral questions, in Shari'a Puzzles.

Katrina vanden Heuvel has a weblog. I was interested in this post: When I read last month that James Rowse--the chairman of Veryfine Products Inc., the juice bottling concern, -had died, I thought of how this man's life embodied a much more enlightened era in the history of American business. You know, there are kids blogging today who don't even know that ever existed.

Bill Scher notes that the Bush who said no other nation would ever have veto power over the US has let Pakistan have veto power over the US.

Seth Finkelstein's Expert Witness Opinion in Barbara Nitke, The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, and The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom Foundation vs. John Ashcroft and the United States of America. (And a reminder - if you haven't seen it yet, check out Seth's Al Gore "invented the Internet" page.)

The "cheerful but large logo of the New York Bomb Squad" - via, Nosuch.
17:22 GMT

Buy blue books

From Buy Blue, Say it ain't so Jeff:

I'm sure many of you will be surprised to see Amazon hit our naughty list for donating 61% of their PAC money to Republicans in this past election cycle.
Yes, I am surprised. And that leaves you wondering where to buy your books and stuff, right?

OK, Barnes & Noble give 98% to Democrats. (B&N includes B. Dalton, remember.)

So what about Borders/Waldenbooks? A bit problematic. On the one hand, they give close to 100% to Democrats. On the other hand, their internet retailing is through Amazon. It might be useful to drop them a line - and in the meantime, do your shopping at Barnes & Noble/B. Dalton.
15:26 GMT

Life in a stupid world

Mr. Bush discussed corporate protection "tort reform" Wednesday: THE PRESIDENT: Let me make a comment on that. First of all, justice ought to be fair. I'm glad he cleared that up.

Josh Marshall has a good long piece discussing the strategy the Democrats must use against the Social Security scam. If you have any Dem representatives in Congress, copy it and send it to them. Really. In any case, as I say, the whole thing is lies. This isn't about the program's problems but about its success. That's why the president and his allies want to phase it out. It's not about financing but about ideology. (Josh also has a guest post from Michael Kinsley on why privatization can't work - read and digest it thoroughly.)

Steve Clemons thinks Michael Powell is showing the worst signs of job-hustling while giving the store away: Not only is Powell not protecting the country from the nefarious consequences of concentrated media power, he is driving it. He has exploited Janet Jackson's boob-stunt to create fear throughout the broadcast media on the viability of provocative educational and political content. And now, he is stifling America's broadband-rich potential and taking us back to a time of oligopolies in technology firms.

I think Suburban Guerilla has actually found something even stupider than what we have now: The concept of requiring all Californians to carry their own health insurance is gaining momentum in the Capitol, as some lawmakers and healthcare advocates see it as a politically viable way to deal with the state's 5.3 million uninsured.
04:25 GMT

Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Blunkett out

Blunkett quits as home secretary

David Blunkett has quit as home secretary following a string of newspaper claims that he fast-tracked a visa for his ex-lover's nanny.
I'm so glad we can quit holding our breath, now. And good riddance!
18:21 GMT

How's that election going?

In another race that hasn't been settled yet, we still don't know who won the gubernatorial election in Washington State:

Five hundred sixty-one valid absentee ballots that had been erroneously rejected have been discovered in heavily Democratic King County, buoying Christine Gregoire's hopes of prevailing in a hand recount of the governor's race.
Naturally, Republicans are claiming that Democrats are trying to steal the election. How come Republicans don't think it's "conspiracy theory" to say stuff like that, and it's only when Democrats say it that it's crazy talk?

Non-crazy talk, on the other hand, consists of saying that thousands of problems that all just happened to result in an advantage for Bush are mere coincidence and not suspicious.

Someone doesn't think so, though: The ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, plans to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a county prosecutor in Ohio today to explore "inappropriate and likely illegal election tampering" in at least one and perhaps several Ohio counties.
17:06 GMT

How Republicans win

Donna Frye won the election, but her opponent has already been sworn in.

More people voted in the San Diego mayor's race for write-in candidate Donna Frye than for Mayor Dick Murphy, according to a review Tuesday of disputed ballots, but it would take court action for her to be declared the winner.
As anyone with an IQ over seven knows, the only thing you really need to require of voters is that they be legally qualified to vote and that they make their intention clear on the ballot. Any time you see any rules or laws introduced into an election that demand more than that, you know they are trying to disenfranchise people. And Republicans persistently introduce requirements that raise the bar - but enforce them only against people who vote for their opposition.

In this case, the Republicans are banking on the fact that people will do what people always do whenever filling out any sort of form - make mistakes. They'll tell you the errors are proof that these voters are "stupid", but what any smart person knows - from experience - is that sometimes being smart is precisely why you make errors that others wouldn't make. But what people who have been following elections for the last four years are acutely aware of is that Republicans have found other ways to make sure that certain voters have more trouble than others, such as sending out correct instructions for how to vote to registered Republicans, and arranging to disseminate misleading instructions to everyone else. This is particularly helpful if you first arrange to change the balloting method in your county at every single election, as has happened in San Diego for the last three cycles.

In 2000, Republicans misled the public about the requirements of Florida law, insisting that there was no mechanism for counting ballots on which there were technical errors. Unfortunately, enough people believed this that no one ever bothered to refer to the Florida Administrative Code's requirements. In San Diego, Republicans got around this by actually creating law that said that certain errors would invalidate ballots. In this case, people who actually wrote in the name of their candidate were said not to have revealed their intent, because they had failed to fill in that little bubble next to the name. Errors made on behalf of the Republican candidate, however, did not invalidate ballots.

Dick Murphy, the incumbent, insists that "we'll never know" the intent of voters who wrote in Frye's name on their ballots. He says those ballots cannot be counted because the bubbles were not filled in. He says those are the rules. But the rules don't apply to ballots where errors do not obscure votes for Murphy.

"Let's face it, this is not a literacy test," Frye said in an interview. "This is an expression of the intention of the voter. I feel frustrated, and I feel that a lot of people have been disenfranchised on a technicality."
Now, I know there are a lot of people who say there should be a literacy test for voting, but they don't really mean it. What they mean is that people who don't agree with them politically aren't smart enough to vote - which is why "literacy tests", when they existed, were used as an opportunity to keep some people from voting, even though they were able to competently answer the questions, and other people were allowed to vote, even though they could not do so to the same standard. But, in any case, literacy does not mean knowledge - if it did, Republicans who complain about the liberal news media would just naturally surmise that if these most literate people who actually cover the news and know what's going on tend to be liberal, maybe that's just because they know what's going on and therefore it is stupid to vote Republican. (Ditto academe.) Oh, wait...

The vote count is continuing, and there is talk of voter-initiated lawsuits, and even Republicans are saying Murphy is a fake mayor. But what will happen, no one really knows. Go to Frye's site for information about whether a suit is being filed and whether you can help.
15:50 GMT

Blogging on mulled wine

Look, I don't drink very often so it's always a dangerous prospect when I do. I'm not going to try to do any real writing so just read this stuff, OK?

Today in Iraq uses an entirely separate blog for discussion by its readers, in addition to the comments. That's Reader Contributions, and you might be interested in looking at the post that asks what are America's fundamental, unquestioned assumptions? (Also: the evolution of a paranoid right-wing fantasy.)

LQ has found some stuff on patents and how rather than encouraging innovation as they were originally designed to do, they sometimes end up quashing it. I can get pissed off for hours thinking about how the idea of copyright and patenting has been corrupted by changes in the law.

This is good for a laugh: White supremacist party (mistakenly) hires black DJ for Christmas party. Via Geoist.

I didn't know any of this stuff about Target and the Salvation Army. I bet following the money here would turn up some familiar filth.

Thanks to Diane for calling The Rude Pundit's riposte to O'Reilly to my attention. I look forward to celebrating Lockemas and Platomas. We need more days off, right?

The Behavior of Genes: The truth of the matter is that DNA is both inherited and environmentally responsive, and recent findings from animal studies go a long way toward resolving nature versus nurture by upsetting the assumption that the two work differently. Via Science And Politics.
05:12 GMT

Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Ask yourself: Why do you want the Democrats to win?

The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our democracy is a moral value. It is a moral value to make sure that we do not leave our own debts to be paid by the next generation. Honesty is a moral value.

If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.

-- Howard Dean (via)

(The WaPo, by the way, has an article looking at another poll that asked the "moral values" question and showing that among people who say they voted based on "moral values", the percentage who vote for Republicans is going down, not up. But read Ruy Teixeira on the subject so you can get his commentary with it.)

I vote on moral values - don't you? I vote for Democrats (and against Republicans) because there are things I believe the government should do, and things I believe the government should not do. There are things I believe are right, and things I believe are wrong. Strangely enough, I got a lot of those values in Sunday School. Since the Republicans seem to be dedicated to a course that violates my moral values, and since the Democrats do not seem quite so dedicated to that course, I'm a Democrat.

The thing is, every time I see one of these articles about how certain Democrats are demanding that the party marginalize "the left" and "move to the center", I ask myself two things:

  • Where on earth do they think "the center" is? and
  • Why should Democrats win - or even stand for election - if their positions shouldn't really be any different from those of the Republicans?

Do we or don't we stand for anything? And if we don't stand for anything, why should we bother to stand against the Republicans? It's a bit of a puzzle.

John Emerson at Seeing the Forest finds himself in a quandary:

Beinart's recent proposal that the Democrats denounce Michael Moore and his kind puts me in a hard place. Except for Matt Yglesias (who rather weakly defended him), most rejected Beinart's proposal, but it still leaves a bad taste. It's as if I'm on probationary status now, and Beinart's proposed purge was just the tip of the iceberg.

Recently some of the bright young Ivy League things of the Yglesias sort confessed, with no apparent embarrassment, that they had initially supported Bush's ill-conceived Iraq War primarily because they had been unwilling to be seen on the same side of the fence as the anti-war hippies they knew. Kevin Drum has expressed regret that Robert Scheer is writing for the LA Times (and has his doubts about Bob Somerby too), Brad DeLong went ballistic when Barbara Ehrenreich was given some column inches by the New York Times, and the usually-astute "praktike" made a dismissive remark about Greg Palast on a comment thread somewhere. This whole tendency was eloquently summed up by the commentator "Petey" on Yglesias' comments: "Screw the Hippies".

The goal is to cleanse the Democratic party of any smirch of anti-war sentiment, thus giving the American people only a choice between two different war policies. I find it hard to list the number of ways this is wrong.

Since I don't have testosterone poisoning, I had no problem looking at the administration's arguments and asking myself, "Is this true? Is this a good idea? Will this work?" I don't know why some people were unable to look past the BS and think about this stuff.

Do you have to be a hippie to notice these things, to ask these questions? Doesn't everyone else know that wars can have absolutely terrible consequences if not conducted with the greatest of care? Can't people in suits notice that if our intention in Afghanistan included stablizing the country and turning it into a democracy that had no use for terrorists, we jumped into it awfully fast without sufficient planning? Was it only hippies who noticed that Iraq was secular, for goodness sakes?

If the hippies were the only people who were asking that we consider facts before running off to war, then the problem was certainly not with the hippies.

I don't always agree with how Lakoff wants to frame the debate, but this quote from Chris Bowers at MyDD is right:

I still believe we need to seize the mantle of reform, but as far as moving to the center, I will let Lakoff and Arianna Huffington do the talking:
As cognitive psychologist George Lakoff told me: "Democrats moving to the middle is a double disaster that alienates the party's progressive base while simultaneously sending a message to swing voters that the other side is where the good ideas are." It unconsciously locks in the notion that the other side's positions are worth moving toward, while your side's positions are the ones to move away from.
[...] Short version: arguing that we need to move to the center openly implies that Bush and Republicans win elections because they are right on issues and we are wrong. This is dangerous and self-defeating. Instead, we need to do a much better job of articulating our own ideas, especially to ourselves.
If the so-called "centrist" Democrats don't believe in mainline Democratic policies, why would they care whether or not we win? Is it just pure partisanship - both teams are the same, but we're the ones wearing the blue uniforms? And if they do believe in our policies, why do they keep trying to sabotage them?

We have the issues. All we have to do is show some real faith in them.
15:35 GMT

Things to see

I go to Skimble whenever I start to wonder what the folks who brought you the Enron scam are up to. What they're up to right now is The Inaugural Ball.

Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.: It was a heated campaign and George W. Bush handily defeated John Kerry. America demonstrated that its democracy is still the best in the world. And it was a relief 2004 wasn't a repeat of 2000. The 2004 election ran smoothly - didn't it? Well not quite.

Colbert King has stayed on the case of the death of Jonathan Magbie. An awful lot of the medical report is blacked out, and the "answers" he got have raised more questions. But it didn't take a genius to know that the judge was sentencing him to death.

Season's Greetings to Mr. Bush.
03:30 GMT

Monday, 13 December 2004

Gary Webb: a real journalist who paid the price

King of Zembla points out that the LAT obituary for Gary Webb doesn't mention how they and other newspapers smeared his work and ultimately made sure he lost his job, despite the fact that his CIA-crack story was true.

Normon Solomon's 1997 report, Snow Job, provided an overview:

For several weeks after a series last August in the San Jose Mercury News (8/18-20/96) linked the CIA-backed Nicaraguan contras with the importation of cocaine into poor black areas of Los Angeles, major news outlets did scant reporting on the story. But in early autumn, near-silence gave way to a roar from the country's three most influential urban dailies--the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times--which is still reverberating in the national media's echo chamber.

The first New York Times article on the subject (9/21/96) foreshadowed much that was to follow. Headlined "Inquiry Is Ordered Into Reports of Contra Cocaine Sales in U.S.," the news story focused on assurances from Central Intelligence Agency director John Deutch and unnamed "former senior CIA officials" that the Mercury News assertions were groundless. "I regard these allegations with the utmost seriousness," Deutch said. "They go to the heart and integrity of the CIA enterprise."
October brought a fierce counterattack from the Washington Post, the New York Times and L.A. Times, all of which published lengthy news articles blasting the Mercury News series. In the process, a number of recurrent debunking themes quickly gained the status of media truisms.

"Last month," Newsweek reported in November (11/11/96), "the Merc started getting trashed -- by its peers. In turn, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and New York Times poked holes in the story, exhaustively and mercilessly."

At first the Merc stood behind its story and its reporter, but as the press continued to round on them, they weakened, and eventually Webb was reassigned to a suburban bureau, after which he quit. Slowly, in the ensuing months, every detail of Webb's original CIA-coke story was confirmed in those same papers in small, disconnected articles. But no one ever acknowledged the debt these revelations owed to Webb, nor were there any apologies.

The LAT reports that his wife says he never recovered. Which brings us up to date:

Gary Webb, an investigative reporter who wrote a widely criticized series linking the CIA to the explosion of crack cocaine in Los Angeles, was found dead in his Sacramento-area home Friday. He apparently killed himself, authorities said.
Gary Webb exposed the connection between the CIA and crack, but the reaction to his story exposed the relationship between the CIA and our Newspapers of Record. Some of us will remember him and what he got instead of the Pulitzer he deserved.
20:19 GMT

On the cultural fault-line

Click for larger image.

Yet another election map, at Feelin' the Blues, where you can find a whole bunch more of them. Via ScaramoucheBlog, who also pointed out an article by Tim Appelo in The Seattle Weekly called Is Bush the Antichrist?

Miller classifies Bush Christians as modern Pharisees - the allegedly proud, rigid, legalistic hypocrites John the Baptist called "a generation of vipers." "The worst condemnation that Jesus has for anybody, I mean the worst, is for Pharisees," says Miller. "If you asked Jerry Falwell who the Pharisees are in our society, they can't point anybody out." There are no mirrors in Bush's church.
Oh, I'm sure he could invent someone to point to, if asked.
18:22 GMT

People are still having sex

In The Washington Post, Deborah M. Roffman says, They'll Abstain If They're Given Good Reasons:

After learning about a congressional report offering evidence that many widely used abstinence-only courses grossly overestimate the failure rates for condoms, the seventh-grade students at one of the schools where I teach were perplexed.

"Well, if these courses are supposed to be health education," asked one, "why would anyone want to give wrong information about something as important as preventing AIDS?" Another added, "Are they trying to tell kids not to bother using condoms when they need them because they're useless anyway?" "None of this makes sense!" said a third. "Condoms can save lives." To which another retorted, "Well, maybe it's sex they're against, not AIDS!"

Gosh, it's just like the '50s - you give kids dumb and false information about sex, and they lose all respect for authority. (Works the same with drugs, too.)
Many educators and parents I work with scratch their heads, too, when they learn that hundreds of millions of federal and state dollars are being spent on abstinence-only programs, in which contraception may be mentioned only in the context of its failure rates. Teachers and parents raise some important questions: Can abstinence-only be the best way to protect the nation's children against pregnancy and disease when we know, as Friday's National Center for Health Statistics report shows, that just under half of all teenagers have already had sexual intercourse? What's more, there is no evidence to prove that abstinence-only teaching actually keeps anyone abstinent, while numerous studies have demonstrated that more comprehensive programs do result in postponement and more responsible behavior. Parents are also confused about why abstinence-only came to be our government's official policy, since 85 percent of adults in the United States favor a comprehensive approach.

If 30 years of experience in this field has taught me one thing, it is that when talking with our children about sex, we need to make sure that we educate rather than dictate and that our approach is based on scientific evidence. Only then can we hope to arm young people against the escalating social and cultural pressures they face.

Since this stuff is pretty obvious, and since kids aren't quite as dumb as their elders often think they are, the principle message of abstinance-only "education" ends up being that adults are against sex to such an extent that they don't mind screwing their kids' lives up to terrify them out of it.
17:15 GMT

Stops on the Information Superhighway

This story about the circumstances of Kelly's death is actually not new, but the article in the Observer is. For the most part, it was something every journalist knew, but few seemed prepared to write. Well, now they have: The Hutton inquiry found that the scientist caught in the storm over the 'sexed up' Iraq dossier committed suicide. Now, for the first time, the experienced ambulance crew who were among the first on the scene tell of their doubts about the decision. Special report by Antony Barnett Via 12thharmonic.

Chuck Dupree is reading again - this time it's After the Empire by Emmanuel Todd, which he discusses in this post and follows-up in America has become the planet's glorious beggar.

Two from Susan at An Age Like This
Retribution?: Has anyone else faced retribution at work since the election? I won't go into details, but I did - a right wing fundie who was permitted to display a Bush yard sign on her cubicle, in defiance of company policy, damn near got me fired. WWJD? Stab a co-worker in the back, apparently, for being a lesbian and a Kerry supporter.
Working Towards the Fuehrer: Historians of Nazi Germany talk about a phenomenon they call "working towards the Fuehrer" - how non-Nazis gradually gave in to Nazi cultural demands and even cooperated towards them. It's happening here now in the wake of an election that was in no way a mandate and was more about terrorism than phony "values voters."

That Colored Fella tried reaching across the divide and ended up looking at the Crystal Cathedrals of the moral right: I spelled out several names for my Conservative friend - Rev. Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Rev. Fred Phelps and Gary Bauer. I told him that we do not hate you because of your faith, we hate what these men do on your behalf and in the name of your religion. I was rather surprised as to how emphatic he was in asserting that these men do not speak for him.
15:05 GMT

Your happening world

At Altercation, Charles Pierce defends Michael Moore from the ravages of TNR et al., and recommends this holy relic.

Election 2004's Myths & Mysteries by Sam Parry: George W. Bush's record-smashing vote totals in Election 2004 have two possible explanations that the mainstream press has kept off the table: the first is that somehow the vote tallies were manipulated; the second is that negative campaigning is far more effective than almost anyone wants to admit.

Cleveland Paper Cites Voter Problems: A polling place that served two adjoining precincts counted hundreds of votes for fringe presidential candidates Nov. 2, apparently because poll workers didn't instruct voters to use only the machines for their precinct, a newspaper reported Friday. Different precincts' machines had different ballots, but poll-workers told people to use just any machine.

Jonathan Chait in the LAT explains Why Academia Shuns Republicans (and wonders why the Republicans think this is something to brag about). Well, it's pretty much what you'd expect - people who don't value scholarship tend to avoid it, and that makes universities useless to them and them useless to universities. Pretty simple, really. I found this Non Sequitur cartoon a nice companion to the piece.

New Labour has revived its obnoxious plan to create a new crime, and its opponents have revived their criticisms, too: Rowan Atkinson defended the right of comedians to poke fun at other people's religion last night as he joined the campaign against Government plans to create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred. Via Everythingisruined.
03:42 GMT

There's something wrong at the DNC

Jerome Armstrong was there:

There's something wrong when the chairs and executive directors go on and on with their praise toward the Internet that's brought millions into the coffers of the DNC, and then turns around and kicks Joe Trippi and his band of bloggers out of the meeting room when the "closed" Q & A with the DNC Chair candidates occurs. You could have walked right in off the street and into the candidate Hall unencumbered, but if you happened to be a blogger, or the guy who brought the strategy of embracing the small donor activist on the net for the Democratic Party, and he's got a blog, out you go.
The thing about bloggers is that they are in two functions, here - private citizens who happen to support the Democratic Party, and an odd sort of citizen-journalist. Not quite party activists, not quite journalists, but something in between.

But that's not an insurmountable problem. They invited these people to the conference and then booted them out. But they were always at liberty to go "on background" if they didn't want the proceedings to be blogged.

Steve Gilliard says he wants to be unencumbered by such considerations so he just ain't going to one of these DNC things. But:

What the DNC doesn't get is that the party has changed. It's not a left clone of the GOP. It is becoming a very different beast, one where the number of players has expanded greatly. These things would get a line or two in The Hill or National Journal and that's that. Now, people care. People want answers and they want to know where the party is headed. The fight over the DNC chair will not be an easy one or go the way the insiders think. Which is why someone of such high profile as Howard Dean could be nominated for the job.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Al Gore pop up as a compromise candidate at some point, either, since that seems to be the way the party is headed. But it won't be another insider and it won't be a quiet vote. A lot of people got a taste of politics and they like it.

(I kind of like that Al Gore idea - he's lookin' a lot better now that he's broken with the DLC.)

Steve reckons that, while losing the election was obviously a terrible thing for the country, it might be the best thing that could have happened to the Democratic Party, since it will force people to re-examine the assumptions that have kept the party from pulling itself together.

I guess in some ways I agree with this, since having Clinton win twice gave people like Al From such an inflated sense of their own importance that they've been acting like they own the party ever since. And I guess a lot of rank-and-file Democrats may have had the impression that since we were winning presidential elections, the party leadership was taking care of business and they didn't really need us. The problem, of course, was that if they didn't need us, they weren't going to give us anything, either. And that's the attitude we've been trying to deal with for the last four years, and even the mess they made this time around doesn't seem to have tipped them off, despite the fact that this time our activism and money were very sorely needed indeed, and certainly made a visible difference.

The real problem is that they didn't use bloggers for anything except money. They were hapless at all the things bloggers were particularly good at - vital things like being up on the facts and ready with a response. Instead they sent people on TV shows who actually had no idea what they were talking about - even when it was something that everyone from Atrios and Kos to you and me already knew.

They were happy to take the money that people like Jerome and Kos and Duncan raised for them, but they insulted us by not paying attention to the other thing bloggers can do, which is contribute research and analysis. And that's just dumb - anyone who listens to the likes of Al From when they could be reading what Bill Scher has to say is just plain dumb. We need to find a way to tell them to stop being so dumb.
02:32 GMT

Sunday, 12 December 2004

Secure in your person

John Perry Barlow has posted the details of his drug-bust, which resulted from an illegal search and seizure. It's almost painful reading some of the comments below it from people who for some reason think JPB has an obligation to plead guilty rather than fight the bust on Fourth Amendment grounds. For some reason, they don't get that pleading is taking the easy way out, and that what Barlow is doing is taking responsibility for something a lot more important.

The gist of the story is that airport security noticed some wires on the luggage scan and opened his bags. They found that the wires were part of a laser glove and no threat. (This was checked luggage - once they determined that the wires were not related to a bomb, they should have had no problem with it.) However, they went on to search the entire contents of his luggage, even going so far as to empty out a bottle of Ibufrofen, where they found a small quantity of marijuana and mushrooms at the bottom of a nearly-full bottle of pills. God only knows why he'd brought them with him on the plane, but since their search authority goes only so far as to look for materials which present a danger to the flight, it was none of their business. Nevertheless, he was pulled away and sent off to be criminally processed.

Barlow knows some good civil liberties lawyers, and they wanted to pursue the case. That represents considerable hassle for him, but civil liberties is something he takes seriously.

Apparently, everyone else who has been arrested as a consequences of these inspections, and there have been many, has pled guilty rather than face the cost and trouble of mounting a constitutional defense.

I might have done so myself had it not been for Gilmore's willingness to support the handsome cost of my defense. That, and the recognition that unconstitutional behavior by the authorities is constrained only by the peoples' willingness to contest them. Liberty is preserved not only on the battlefield. More often, it is preserved on the streets, by people who know their rights and refuse to forfeit them at the time of arrest. Failing that, as I did, it is preserved in court. Fortunately, precedent appears to be on my side. The controlling Ninth Circuit case in such matters is US v. Davis (482 F.2d 893) which authorizes warrantless airport searches only for the purpose of detecting weapons and explosives.

This is the point: Barlow wasn't busted as a result of his own violation of the law, but as a result of the authorities' violation of the law - a much more serious breach. The worst Barlow could have done with his drugs is use them (after the flight, when he had reclaimed his luggage), which would have harmed no one. But when the state becomes involved in unwarranted searches of people who pose no known threat to others, that endangers all of us.

Almost everyone violates the law in some way or other, often without even knowing it. As more and more legislation is passed, more and more things can get you in trouble that probably seemed innocuous to you. Additionally, we are seeing an increasing number of perfectly legal activities deemed "suspicious" that can cause real disruption of your life even when you have done nothing wrong. Anyone could get caught up in the system. Keeping the authorities from being able to probe deeply into your life and personal effects without probable cause is how we prevent them from terrorizing the populace at large. It's getting harder and harder to place limits on the power of the state to terrorize us, but we should congratulate John Perry Barlow for trying to retain what little protection we have left.

So why are people leaping up to say that JPB should just "own up" instead of fighting it? Why should he be the one who is punished because the agents of the state broke the law?
20:13 GMT

Seen on the interweb

Strategery: David Sirota says Fight the Class War: But as countless examples show, progressives are making inroads into culturally conservative areas by talking about economic class. This is not the traditional (and often condescending) Democratic pandering about the need for a nanny government to provide for the masses. It is us-versus-them red meat, straight talk about how the system is working against ordinary Americans.

Land of the free: Mystery Cloaks Couple's Firing as Risks to U.S.: But that afternoon, their managers pulled the Afsharis aside and delivered a stunning message: they had failed secret background checks and were being fired. No explanations were offered and no appeals allowed. They were escorted to the door and told not to return.

Man, that Mike guy sure is a good writer. Just go read How To Live With Dead People right now.

I like this name for a blog: Poor Richard's Anorak.

Spank the Gimp. (Not entirely work-safe.)
15:51 GMT

See no evil

In The Toronto Star, Antonia Zerbisias says U.S. media still hiding bad news from Americans:

If you blinked, you would have missed news of a Pentagon "strategic" report to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld revealing that U.S. actions "have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended."

There was a bit in some newspapers about a damning classified cable from the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Baghdad that painted a dismal picture of Iraq's economic, political and security prospects.

And, while it got notice when published in October, there's been no follow-up on a study in an esteemed British medical journal suggesting that up to 100,000 civilians had died since the invasion. No follow-up, that is, except to trash the research.

Whatever happened to that report, anyway?

Meanwhile, Bill Scher remembers that what happened over the last week wasn't actually new - back in May, without any help from any journalists, similar questions were asked: Q: ...the new...humvees they're bringing over...those doors are not as good as the ones on the up-armored humvees... ...we lost some soldiers due to them... ...The question is, are we going to get more up-armored humvees?... And General Richard Myers spun a little tale about how they were making up-armored humvees as fast as was physically possible.
02:11 GMT

Saturday, 11 December 2004

Interesting stuff

Mark Crispin Miller wonders about a lack of news coverage: As you know (and way too many others don't), Rep. John Conyers recently held open hearings in the US Congress, on the all-important subject of the voting in Ohio on November 2nd. There was a lot of harrowing testimony on the tricks and tactics used there by Bush/Cheney to suppress as many Democratic votes as possible, and to exaggerate Ohio's electoral support for the regime. Miller wants us to keep writing to The New York Times to ask why they have continued to ignore this issue even while other "less important" news outlets have started to pick it up. "Let them know how much you care about American democracy, which they have put at risk, because they haven't done their job."

AP admits that not everyone is confident of our electoral integrity: As the Electoral College prepares to certify President Bush's re-election on Monday, concerns persist about the integrity of the nation's voting system - particularly in Ohio, where details continue to emerge of technology failures, voter confusion and overcrowded polling stations in minority and poor neighborhoods.

For those who missed that Economist article, Monkey Media Report gives a short and sharp debunking of the hoax story that pro-bigotry "moral values" determined the election's result - or that it is even on the rise.

Through the Looking Glass reports on a rather startling decision in the Sixth Circuit that "struck down a long-standing and wide-spread practice of states' offering tax credits as an incentive to encourage corporate investment and employment in targeted areas." As if that wasn't mind-boggling enough, Charles says: Why? Because, the court claimed, cutting taxes for an expanding business can steer commerce away from other states, and only Congress at the Federal level has the power to regulate interstate commerce. Eh?

Good news from TalkLeft: Complaining of the "extreme special-interest groups" that opposed his appointment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Charles Pickering announced his retirement from the court. President Bush used a recess appointment to send Pickering to the court after the Senate twice failed to overcome a filibuster of his nomination. Well, at least we can expend our filibustering energy elsewhere, now - right, guys?
21:23 GMT

Confidence men

David Brooks can't possibly be as naïve as he pretends to be, can he? I mean, does he really believe the rubbish he writes? Do his editors think he's saying what he honestly believes?

Here he is this morning talking about (ha ha!) Real Reform for Social Security:

Before we get lost in the policy details, let's be clear about what this Social Security reform debate is really about. It's about the market. People who instinctively trust the markets support the Bush reform ideas, and people who are suspicious oppose them.
Maybe people are suspicious of "reform" plans proposed by people who have overtly supported eliminating Social Security entirely. Ah, we won't mention that - this is The New York Times!
The people setting the tone for the opposition to the Bush Social Security effort depict the financial markets as huge, organized scams where the rich prey upon the weak. Their phrases are already familiar: a risky scheme, Enron accounting, a gift to the securities industry, greedy speculators preying upon Grandma's pension.
I don't think anyone is really bothering to call it "risky", are they? There are dangers that are for the most part certain, and then others that are probable. Maybe Brooks regards jumping out of a plane at high altitude without a parachute as merely "risky" rather than near-certain death.

The reason people are saying the privatization plan is "a gift to the securities industry" and to "greedy speculators preying on Grandma's pension" is because it's true. Brooks is trying to inoculate readers from accepting that fact by making it sound laughable. "Haha! You said the 'gift' thing! I laugh! You said 'greedy speculators'! Hahaha!" Sorry, I'm not laughing.

Now the Democratic Party's tone is much more populist and even antibusiness. Harry Reid has begun his tenure as Senate minority leader by doing his best imitation of Huey Long: "They are trying to destroy Social Security by giving this money to the fat cats on Wall Street, and I think it's wrong!"
Another laugh riot. Reid is exactly right on this and thank God for that. It's not "antibusiness" to support keeping Social Security as it is (although raising the cap - the proposal Bush vetoed earlier this week - would have been a good idea). But Brooks continues with a lot of ahistorical crap that pretty well reverses the reality to support the view that some (mostly unnamed) "Democratic underground" in Congress is trying to undercut Reid to fall in with the RNC pack of wild dogs that is trying to chew off our leg.

Josh Marshall pointed out this paragraph in a WaPo story the other day:

To build public support and circumvent critics in Congress and the media, the president will travel the country and warn of the disastrous consequences of inaction, as he did to sell his Iraq and terrorism policies during the first term, White House officials said.
And he was lying that time, too, of course. Marshall says: "This would seem to be an analogy critics could use to some good effect." Yeah, I want to hear that one all over the place.

In 2002, Bush warned of an Iraq crisis - which meant that there was an Iraq crisis, in that Bush was planning to go in and dick it up. Now there's a Social Security crisis for exactly the same reason.
18:15 GMT

What's been hot

When news got out that reporter Lee Pitt had helped soldiers formulate a question for Rumsfeld, the right-wingers tried to turn it into a story about how a reporter had "exploited" soldiers to get a story that made Rumsfeld look bad. Pitt's explanation makes it clear that what was important to him was that an important question was finally getting some real coverage. But the phony excuse that troops lack armor because it can't be produced fast enough has been exposed as another administration lie, according to a USA Today story: The Bush administration moved swiftly to quell criticism from troops Thursday by outlining plans to protect all military vehicles used in Iraq. But two companies under contract to the Pentagon said their offers to boost production went unheeded.

Early this month Bush announced a plan to appoint Bernard Kerik as the replacement for Tom Ridge at Homeland Security, and we all responded with surprise and disgust. Well, not the whole world - check out Saint Bernard in The Village Voice for some appalling details, including Democrats who acted for all the world as if Kerik were not some sort of repellant thug. But there was lots of dirt on Kerik that was due to erupt, and before the type could even be set, Kerik backed out and his nomination was Withdrawn.

You might almost get the impression from these two stories that the press could be on the job, eh?
17:13 GMT

In the mix

Company to Aid in DeLay Corruption Probe: A company accused in the campaign-finance investigation that has implicated associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay agreed to aid prosecutors in exchange for having charges against it dropped, court papers showed. Congratulations to Ronnie Earl.

Every now and then, Joe Scarborough forgets to shill for the scam-artists, like in Congressional memo to future generations: You're screwed, where he says, Oh, you say the poor should pay for their health care just like you? Fine. Wait till you have to crawl over 3-year-old kids dying on the front steps of the emergency room where you are taking your kids and then you will be asking yourself if it was really wise for this generation of politicians to spend money as responsibly as pot heads in an open-all-night grocery store. He doesn't like the Social Security privatization plan, either.

Speaking of which, nice post at The Mahablog: Social Security privatization exemplifies Bush's policy management style, which is (1) scare people into thinking there's a danger that doesn't actually exist, and then (2) create some gawdawful expensive mess of a "solution" that will wreak havoc for generations to come. You'll notice this is how we got into Iraq. But Bush is doing the same thing with Social Security. Also: She Who Gets Named Way Too Much.

Via Steve Gilliard, we have something to appall you: Tucked inside Congress' new blueprint for U.S. intelligence spending is a highly classified and expensive spy program that drew exceptional criticism from leading Democrats. In an unusually public rebuke of a secret government project, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, complained Wednesday that the program was "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security." He called the program "stunningly expensive."
14:43 GMT

Absolutely brilliant: Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke was killed on 11 December 1964.

Then I go to my brother
I say brother help me please
But he winds up knocking me
Back down on my knees

There's been times that I thought
I wouldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come
Oh, yes it will

-- Sam Cooke, "A Change Is Gonna Come"

40 years....

There were two competing stories about his death. He'd come flying out of his hotel room, half-dressed, complaining that a woman he'd been with had stolen his belongings, and complaining that the woman at the desk was in on the scam. "There was a struggle - and the gun went off," is how the official story went. But when the woman who shot him was asked on camera how many times she'd shot him, she said, "Three times." No one seemed to think that was odd. At the same time, there was an entirely contrary story that he had been shot while chasing after a woman who was running away from him while he was trying to sexually assault her, but that story makes even less sense. Many people can't help but wonder if Cooke's increasing success, combined with his growing interest in the civil rights movement (and perhaps his public association with Cassius Clay and Malcom X), may have had something to do with it. He would have been 34 that January.

Whatever happened, he was one hell of a great singer and song-writer. I still remember a few years earlier, being ten years old and watching my roommate Barbara Monk pull out her little suitcase record-player and put a single on the turntable and sing along with Sam. Everyone thought Sam Cooke was cool.
04:11 GMT

American war zones

At The San Diego Union-Tribune, Carl Luna sees a Double Standard: Just a passing thought. Back in 1993, following the infamous "Blackhawk Down " disaster in Somalia, Clinton's Secretary of Defense Les Aspin resigned amidst allegations that he had failed to provide the troops in Somalia with the armored support they needed to do their mission. House and Senate Republicans, including several who hold majority leadership positions today, were in the forefront calling for Aspin's ouster. Why then aren't these same voices calling for the resignation of Donald "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." Rumsfeld?

He lost an arm in Iraq; the Army wants money: Now this wounded soldier is being discharged from his company in Fort Hood, Texas, without enough gas money to get home. In fact, the Army says 27-year-old Spc. Robert Loria owes it close to $2,000, and confiscated his last paycheck.

Measure Expands Police Powers: Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) said that while he voted for the bill because of its intelligence reforms, he opposed much of the expansion of law enforcement power. Most of it was not part of the Sept. 11 panel's recommendations. Yeah, why else do you think they finally let it pass?

An open letter to GWB from Ralph Nader, It's Time to Disclose the Real Casualty Figures: What's your problem here? The American people need to know the full casualty toll of U.S. personnel in Iraq and know it regularly and in a timely fashion. Not to do so is disrespectful, especially of the military families, but none more so than of the soldiers themselves. As a severely wounded Chris Schneider told CBS: "Every one of us went over there with the knowledge that we could die. And then they tell you - - you're wounded - - or your sacrifice doesn't deserve to be recognized or we don't deserve to be on their list - - it's not right. It's almost disgraceful."

This must be where Republicans plan to have school kids study American history.
03:06 GMT

'Tis the season

What with Chanukah having started and all, and the nights drawing in so very early now, we're officially in The Season. So, just to get into the mood:

Do a little holiday shopping here, where there's some neat jewelry. Or maybe here, where they're doing gift-boxing for just a quid, this weekend only.

01:52 GMT

Why does George W. Bush hate our country so much?

Everything the administration does these days makes me ask that same question. What else would be on my mind as Paul Krugman continues his busman's holiday with Borrow, Speculate and Hope?

The National Association of Securities Dealers," The Wall Street Journal reports, "is investigating whether some brokerage houses are inappropriately pushing individuals to borrow large sums on their houses to invest in the stock market." Can we persuade the association to investigate would-be privatizers of Social Security?
Ah, wouldn't it be nice.

What happened to the days when gambling was supposed to be a bad thing, anyway? Why isn't this one of those moral issues the Christianists are all upset about?

For it is now apparent that the Bush administration's privatization proposal will amount to the same thing: borrow trillions, put the money in the stock market and hope.
Can I just put all mine on black and spin the wheel?
There is, by the way, a precedent for Bush-style privatization. One major reason for Argentina's rapid debt buildup in the 1990's was a pension reform involving a switch to individual accounts - a switch that President Carlos Menem, like President Bush, decided to finance with borrowing rather than taxes. So Mr. Bush intends to emulate a plan that helped set the stage for Argentina's economic crisis.
And won't that be wonderful for America?

All this stuff depresses me, of course, but not as much as the realization that people are going to go to DC on January 20th and do clowny stuff again, like they always do. I don't want them to do clowny stuff.

I want them all to go there dressed in the most sombre black funeral garb, and be entirely silent, and just all hold up identical signs with just one thing written on them: Why does George W. Bush hate our country so much?
00:14 GMT

Friday, 10 December 2004

Things I saw

TBogg responds to the current spate of conservative revisionism (such as Michelle Malkin's re-writing of internment, Ann Coulter's lionizing of Joe McCarthy, and now the news that slavery wasn't so bad) with an appropriate recommendation for your holiday reading: Finally, it won't be available until after Christmas and it is fiction, but Sam Francis is finishing up his retelling of To Kill A Mockingbird. With a working title of Tom Robinson Had It Coming you can look for it in the lobby when the Hannitization tour hits a sleepy backwater podunk town near you. He has more. has made the appropriate response to the DLC's attack on any Democrat that isn't DLC: The liberal group threw down a challenge to the Democratic Party on Thursday, saying it should stop cuddling up to corporate America and shun "professional election losers." [...] "In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn't need corporate cash," said MoveOn PAC Political Director Eli Pariser in an e-mail message.

Black Box Voting warns that the Feeny vote-rigging story might be disinformation. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have the hang of that permalink thing, so scroll down or search on "Feeny" to get to it. (Thanks to Paul for the heads-up.)
23:00 GMT

Take this moment

I forget who read it out on their AAR show, but The Grand Forks Herald printed a column Honoring a Guardsman's request:

"I hope you don't forget about us because your writing can help people realize the reality of the situation," he wrote in his first paragraph.
That was in July. He was Spc. Cody Wentz of Williston, N.D; remember him, and all of them.
19:37 GMT

On the blog

No Capital has attracted the wrong kind of attention after posting about the marine who wants asylum in Canada in order to avoid committing war crimes. Rorschach also brings you the ultimate argument against the death penalty.

Douglas McDaniel received an e-mail that you might want to keep handy as a response for those right-wing e-mails people copy to you: Voted For Bush? This New Yorker Blames You For the Next Attack. [Update: Thanks to Randolph Fritz for supplying the source for that letter.]

Mark Kleiman did a couple of posts the other day on the Social Security Destruction proposal that might help you clarify your thinking, A time for stubbornness (This has the makings of a perfect partisan issue for the Democrats. All they need is to hold together and not compromise) and The General Fund crisis, which references this Brad DeLong post and says: Brad comes up with a phrase that's potentially a slogan: we don't have a Social Security crisis, we have a General Fund crisis. Not only is GWB offering us the wrong fix, he's offering us a fix to the wrong problem.

The Revered Mr. Black at Eschaton has an excellent post up about what pisses people off about the DLC: Look, back in the 90s what pissed people off about the DLC and Clinton forays into Republican-lite policies were the policies. But, that was yesterday's DLC. Today's DLC isn't out there pushing a particular policy agenda, they're just out there throwing bombs onto everyone who is to the left of them. No matter what the merits of any particular DLC policy, their MO isn't to advocate those policies - their MO is to go out there and say "you're all a bunch of l0000zers for not agreeing with us and everything is your fault!!!!!!" to, well, 80% of the people who tend to vote for Democrats. And while you're there, you might want to write to CNN and CBS about their conservative bias - if they can't even introduce the idea that maybe Social Security isn't "in crisis" (except for the crises they are creating by treating this meme as a truth), their bias is as plain as the nose on my face. ("And mine of all noses.")

Speaking of which, the relevant post from Kevin Drum also has a pretty good thread forming below it - including this word to the wise.

Check out World O'Crap's acid response to the CBS attack on Atrios.

The Art of Peace wants to know what happened to the trial of Saddam: It's not Saddam I'm concerned for. It's just that we made such a big thing about giving him a trial when he was first captured.
15:38 GMT

My headlines

From The Black Commentator, "Haiti: Colin Powell's Crime-in-Progress"
History will record that the first Black U.S. Secretary of State personally engineered the theft of the national sovereignty of Haiti, the world's first Black republic and the second nation in the western hemisphere to free itself from European rule. Such is Colin Powell's horrific legacy - an historic shame and blight on the collective honor of Black America.

From The Kansas City Star, "Paper Barred From Fort Carson Over Story"
Army officials barred Denver Post reporters from Fort Carson because the newspaper published an article about soldiers unhappy with their health care, a military spokesman said.

From Making Light, "Gerald Allen is stupider than dirt"
That man is dumber than two bags of hammers on a slow Thursday night. If a lifetime of constant exposure to positive depictions of heterosexuality doesn't turn children straight, how is it that an occasional depiction of homosexuality is going to turn them gay? You know what he's really saying, don't you? He's saying that gay sex has straight sex beat all hollow, that's what.

From Pandagon, "Quick, Dan Rather! Set Up A Perimeter Around Bill Kristol!"
One, nobody who works for a magazine that has at least four contributors/editors (Goldberg, Joel Mowbray, Rich Lowry, Kate O'Beirne) on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News on a regular basis ever gets to declare the mainstream media a separate entity from themselves. When you're on CNN more than Jack Cafferty, you're a part of the "mainstream" media. It's not like Wolf Blitzer puts a giant black box over your face when you speak on his show.

From Nathan Newman, "Workers of the World Uniting"
It's an irresistible title but even the business-oriented Financial Times has to sit up and take notice as historically parochial nationalist trade unions seek to integrate across global borders.
14:35 GMT

The Yes Men, the Beeb, and the Hoax

I wonder if people realize just what a fine public service the Yes Men have performed with their marvellous performance in hoaxing the BBC into believing they were getting an admission of guilt - and taking of responsibility - from Dow/Union Carbide.

As Jordan points out, this made Dow admit that they were absolutely not doing that, but without having watched the BBC coverage of the anniversary of Bophal, you wouldn't know that it was all looking like the toxic mess was just something that had happened for no known reason, like an act of God. I did not once hear the words "Union Carbide" in any reports I saw - until "Jude" made his astonishing statement.

I know I'm not the first person to have wondered whether Dow had leaned on the BBC. Now I wonder if I'm the first person to think maybe Auntie Beeb was pulling a fast one. Not that I really think they're that sharp, but if they did it, that would've been a pretty canny move, eh?

(Have a look at my previous favorite Yes Men action here.)
01:01 GMT

Thursday, 09 December 2004


CBS News proves once again in Blogs: New Medium, Old Politics that we need blogs to set them straight:

Hypothetically, if The Washington Post discovered that The New York Times had a reporter being paid by the Bush campaign it would report it. If proven, the suspect reporter would be fired and likely never work in mainstream journalism again. Hence, the courts have been satisfied with the industry's ability to regulate itself.

In the case of Duncan Black, this is what happened. The author of the popular liberal blog Atrios, Black wrote under a pseudonym.

In the case of Duncan Black, the author of the popular liberal blog Eschaton, this is most emphatically not what happened. Atrios is not and never was paid by any campaign committee. When he started his weblog, he was just teaching, and Eschaton was entirely a private hobby. He certainly encouraged people to support Democratic candidates, but not on anyone else's dime, and he never made a secret of his political position. He eventually started working for Media Matters for America, which is a non-partisan outfit, and he used his own name - and shortly after that, he "came out". No big deal. The lovely Mr. Black has written a letter in response.

The CBS article ends on an ominous note:

Beginning next year, the F.E.C. will institute new rules on the restricted uses of the Internet as it relates to political speech.

"I think those questions are going to have to be asked and answered," said Lillian BeVier, a First Amendment expert at the University of Virginia. "It's going to be an issue and it should be an issue."

Yes, we really must put a stop to this stuff where liberals get to reach a larger public. Where were all these articles back when Free Republic was spreading all that rubbish about Clinton? Oh, that's right, those were the days when we had approving articles in the papers about the clever dexterity with which the right-wingers got their message out on the internet.

You can contact CBS and ask them for an explanation of this.
17:32 GMT

Today's hot topics

We've all had a good laugh about the surprise retention of Secretary of the Treasury John Snow, who the White House was openly dissing only days ago and now it's clear that they couldn't find anyone else who would take the job. Like Bill Scher says in Bush's Cabinet: Talent Repellant, One of the downsides of packing your Cabinet with hacks, is that people of stature tend not to want to be hacks.

The Oregonian has a public editor, who has a weblog, where he has written that Voting complaints highlight role of press in democracy and considered the relationship between the public's questions, the press, and weblogs. Via Keith Olbermann, who is still on the election fraud story, too.

Laptops may damage male fertility. OK, I wouldn't take this too seriously, but I did have the same reaction to this that Jesse did - looks like a job for David Brooks. Something about how blue-staters are sitting in Starbucks depressing their fertility....

Joe Conason's New York Observer article this week reminds us that while McCain is no model of integrity, he's still miles ahead of Norm Coleman in that department. McCain Disdains Annan's G.O.P. Critics also notes that with Tom DeLay in the family, among other things, Republicans are throwing stones from a glass house.

And here's proof that you don't have to be a liberal to think that Rumsfeld is a liability.
17:18 GMT

Continuing stories

Peter Beinart's offensive article sure has inspired people. LiberalOasis has a fine analysis in I Got Yer "Fighting Faith" Right Here, and at the Left Coaster, Yuval Rubinstein says: Instead of addressing Beinart's substantive criticisms, however, I'd much rather take a page out of his playbook and smear him by association. (I had not actually known that Krauthammer was an alumnus of TNR.) And, of course, David Neiwert at Orcinus points out that neither Beinart nor the Bush administration has taken terrorism very seriously, instead getting distracted with all this counterproductive warrioring.

Crooks and Liars has the video highlights from the Conyers voting forum, and says: It was a riveting, important event, and also a gratifying one: This morning, a committee in Washington said things which until now have only been said by bloggers and activists. I hope the mainstream media reports on it. Go there to watch, and throw something in C&L's tip jar to thank them for the wonderful service they provide.

And interest in vote-fraud coverage has overwhelmed the Brad Blog, so Brad has set up a second site on Blogspot, Brad Blog Too, which also tell you where to get .mp3s of interviews with whistle-blower Clint Curtis.
13:07 GMT

Things to read

Howard Dean's speech:

There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility.... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.

It's the Democratic Party.

We've all had a good laugh over the story of the company that wanted to make a movie of Mort but asked if Terry could "lose the death angle." Well, just imagine Pullman's His Dark Materials without the church.

Guerilla Dove finds out how blue-state Christians worship an awesome god.

Over at Maxspeak, Dean Baker presents a little Social Security test that economists should take. And Brad DeLong takes the test. Good reading for those interested in finding yet more ways to puncture stupid arguments in favor of privatization. (Man, I'm glad those guys have moved to MT - the pages load a lot faster - but I miss Brad's blogroll.)

Test your US geography - neat thing via Off the Kuff.
01:55 GMT

Wednesday, 08 December 2004

Heroes and villains

Long time gone

and still much missed

Metal - this guy has it: "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to armor our vehicles?" - US soldier
And this guy doesn't: "As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." - Donald Rumsfeld
That's pretty rich coming from someone who launched a war of choice.

If you haven't seen the picture of Generalissimo Bush in his new uniform, get it at Blah3, with some background chatter about the rumors. (And check out the post below it for the story of how "Like a Rolling Stone" got turned into a hit.)

Norbizness learns about the left, and produces reasoned argument.

Elliot Spitzer is a hero: New York and Connecticut state officials said they are investigating whether improper behavior by insurance companies has been a factor in the rapidly rising cost of malpractice insurance for lawyers and doctors. Via the wonderful Suburban Guerilla.
20:58 GMT

On the trail of the true Democrat

This afternoon's must-read post is from Wampum - The return of the Iron Triangle, a response to the multi-blog discussion the other day that started with Peter Beinart's article calling for a purge from the Democratic party of "the left", which generated the back-and-forth between Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, and Atrios. But this goes way beyond your standard weblog entry, pointing out that Moore may be the heir to that other radical lefty, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Whose party is it anyway? is Tim Grieve's look at the potential choices for Democratic Party chairman, and the popular choice is Howard Dean: But a good rTsumT and the impassioned pleas of a thousand dailykossacks does not a DNC majority make. Brazile -- who may or may not have been in the race but is out now -- says Dean has only "lukewarm" support from party insiders. If Dean decides to run, she says, "You'll see the same forces that tried to derail his campaign reconstitute themselves as an anti-Dean bandwagon." And that's exactly why we have to freeze those people out of the process.

And to round things up, Steve Gilliard read that same Salon piece and said, "Brazile is right, except for one thing: we tried it their way and it didn't work." But Gilliard has already dispensed with Beinart in his earlier post, Blame Moore, not Bush: If Vichy Dem Peter Beinart was honest, he would start this conversation with: I was unforgivably wrong about Iraq. [...] Instead of using Moore as a straw man to defend his own fecklessness and cowardice, he should ask a simple question: is Moore right?
18:40 GMT

As the frog boils

Y'all probably noticed by now that Paul Krugman actually appeared (during his vacation!) to address the Social Security destruction plan: I'll have a lot to say about all this when I return to my regular schedule in January. But right now it seems important to take a break from my break, and debunk the hype about a Social Security crisis. Well, there is a Social Security crisis, but the crisis is that the Republicans are planning to destroy Social Security. (Anyone know what's happened to the NYT Link-generator, by the way? In Krugman's case I can always go back to the permalink at the PK Archive, but that doesn't work with other NYT stuff.)

Everyone else mentioned this article days ago, but you really should read The disappearing dollar in The Economist. Things will only get worse as the Republicans keep adding on programs that break everything that's good about America - and, ultimately, break America itself. Serious question: Why do the Republicans hate America so much? No, really.

Garance Franke-Ruta at Tapped has a much more serious look at that David Brooks piece promoting racist theory and pretending the result of increasing poverty is a "movement" rather than just evidence that the economy is worse. And Media Matters points out that the numbers don't add up, anyway. Brooks is forever doing this kind of thing. He's so completely irresponsible as a journalist that one is tempted to surmise that this is a defining component of modern conservatism; that's certainly the example that's being set at the top. Hmm, maybe it's time for a really serious campaign to tell the NYT we expect better of The Newspaper of Record and if they can't get Brooks to pull himself together, there are actually responsible columnists who could replace him.
15:03 GMT

Liberal media

At Online Journal, the scoop comes in the form of Texas to Florida: White House-linked clandestine operation paid for "vote switching" software by Wayne Madsen:

An exhaustive investigation has turned up a link between current Florida Republican Representative Tom Feeney, a customized Windows-based program to suppress Democratic votes on touch screen voting machines, a Florida computer services company with whom Feeney worked as a general counsel and registered lobbyist while he was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and top level officials of the Bush administration.

According to a notarized affidavit signed by Clint Curtis, while he was employed by the NASA Kennedy Space Center contractor, Yang Enterprises, Inc., during 2000, Feeney solicited him to write a program to "control the vote." At the time, Curtis was of the opinion that the program was to be used for preventing fraud in the in the 2002 election in Palm Beach County, Florida. His mind was changed, however, when the true intentions of Feeney became clear: the computer program was going to be used to suppress the Democratic vote in counties with large Democratic registrations.

According to Curtis, Feeney and other top brass at Yang Enterprises, a company located in a three-story building in Oviedo, Florida, wanted the prototype written in Visual Basic 5 (VB.5) in Microsoft Windows and the end-product designed to be portable across different Unix-based vote tabulation systems and to be "undetectable" to voters and election supervisors.

Heavy-duty stuff, and apparently he can back it up.

This is a few days old now, but Robert Parry's Slow-Rolling Democracy in Ohio discusses what may quietly turn out to be a repeat of the 2000 story.

In a newer post, Parry talks about the need for a real liberal media and the rather eager market that waits for someone smart to invest in more of it. A good question is why wealthy liberals have not invested in liberal media in the way that conservatives did to create the overwhelming right-wing media landscape we have today. Hey, it's not like we're asking for an equivalent to the Arkansas Project, but more money socked into the liberal project would help considerably - if it's given to the right people (and I do mean people like Consortium News) rather than the same old party hacks.

Read Eric Alterman's `Chilling' the Press at the Center for American Progress for more on the efforts of Maryland's governor to corrupt the news reporting process. (And thanks for the link, Eric!)

And here's the letter to the Ohio Secretary of State (.pdf) from the House Judiciary Committee detailing voting problems in Ohio and requesting an investigation. (Thanks to Tony for the heads-up. I should have noticed it before at Seeing the Forest.)

In other news, guess who won the Doublespeak award - again!
01:46 GMT

Tuesday, 07 December 2004

A little something

Not too expensive - for Britain.
Bra of the week
I've just always liked this one.

It's sex again, and David Brooks, again, too. He's in favor of fertility - for some people. The Mahablog gives this cabbage what he deserves, and Jerome Doolittle gives him some, too.

Tom Waits for....
22:54 GMT

Recommended reading

Your must-read post of the afternoon is from Teresa Nielsen Hayden at Making Light, We never knew:

Allow me to direct your attention to the We Never Knew website, a documentary project (with accompanying poster) of the Georgetown Book Shop, Bethesda, MD:
How much was known about Hitler before he came into power? How much was on the record about the nature of the Nazi regime in its early days? How pervasive was its anti-Semitism, and how much of that was documented long before the outbreak of the war? What was known about Hitler's dreams of conquest? Was the Holocaust foreseeable?

A common answer to all these questions has often been "We never knew..," as if somehow the entire history of the Third Reich took place on a distant planet, unknown and unknowable.

Our aim is simple: To puncture this myth.

But Teresa isn't just talking about the Third Reich, it's about how people everywhere ultimately make a calculation about their own risk-assessment versus the trouble they would have to go through to know more than just what's at stake for themselves - and why, perhaps, it's predictable that the people who live farthest away from Ground Zero, or any likely future Ground Zero, were the least willing to hold George Bush to account for the abysmal job he's done of "securing" our country.

Picking up on the liberals/Afghanistan issue that Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias and Atrios have been talking about, I have just seen what may be the best analogy yet for the failures of the "war" on terror, at Why Now?

At Rittenhouse Review, Jim has had a few unkind things to say about internment-apologist Michelle Malkin. Now he is getting letters.

Nick Confessore looks at the hypocrisy of the DeLay Rule supporters who are calling for Kofi Anann's head.

Bernard Rooney on George Monbiot's Feeding Cars, Not People: It looks like Monbiot, like a lot of other people, has never heard of the concept of peak oil, and thus has no concept of the approaching crisis. This is remarkable, even astonishing (not to mention alarming).

Skimble reviews Kinsey, and makes it sound pretty damned good.
17:44 GMT

Big stuff on the internets

Russ Baker in The Nation reports on the New Hampshire recount.

Greg Palast defends his position against another Nation writer: Corn says, "Palast wrongly assumes that an overwhelming majority of these ballots contain votes for Kerry." Now why would I think such a thing? Maybe because the precinct-by-precinct analysis of "spoiled" votes (those which machines can't count) by Professor Mark Salling of Cleveland State University, the unchallengeable expert on Ohio voting demographics, concludes that "spoiled" punch cards in Ohio cities come "overwhelmingly" from African-American neighborhoods.

Matt Yglesias should be spanked for this characterization of a smart and important post by our colleague: Atrios, speaking up for a popular-front, "no enemies on the left" mentality, essentially dodges the issue. Sorry, Matt, that's just a mean-spirited and closed-minded thing to say. Everyone should read the posts Atrios has been doing on the marginalization of those who have objected to Mr. Bush's military adventures. (Personally, I think it was self-evident from the way it was being approached that Bush was going to screw up in Afghanistan, even though I fervently wished to be rid of the Taliban.) Just start with that linked Eschaton post, click through the links, keep reading upward.

And you'll also find this post pointing to Matt Taibbi's valuable article on DLC efforts to purge the Democratic Party of anyone who isn't exactly like them. Really, someone should purge the likes of Al From instead. What a mess these people have made! (And what has Michael Moore said that is really so extreme?) Atrios also links to a TNR post which quotes Bush's suggestion that Musharraf isn't actually who he is, but is instead some sort of spearhead for democracy and blah blah blah....

Also via Atrios, eRiposte has actually done the follow-up work of some real reporting on that phony "Declaration of Independence censored!!!" story the right-wingers have invented - by going so far as to make phone calls and get hold of the actual documents in question: What is notable here is that it is NOT the entire Declaration of Independence that is shown (or ostensibly distributed). What is shown are the first and last paragraph and a portion of the second paragraph - with mentions of "Nature's God", "Creator", "Supreme Judge of the world" and "Divine Providence". No context is provided for these extracts.
14:36 GMT

Bits of stuff

I hope you enjoyed the little Arthur Thomson illo I used earlier. When Arthur knew he wasn't long for this world, he came over with a pile of illustrations for future issues of my fanzines. I never got around to doing those zines, but it occurred to me they didn't have to go to waste, and you might appreciate them. (And no, I'm not actually shaped like that. Atom's characters were, though.)

Apologies if you noticed my website disappearing briefly. It seems to be back, now. No one has told me why.

I should have known better than to write about the security bill without checking what Jeralyn had to say about it. Of course, I was right to be suspicious, wasn't I?

And as long as I'm on the subject of Jeralyn and security and related issues: If your death penalty case were on the docket, would you rather it be before the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals? Death Penalty USA passes judgment.

In the LAT, the former "Anonymous" with Why I Resigned From the CIA, despite the fact that, "The Central Intelligence Agency is the best place to work in the United States."
05:35 GMT

Media marvels

TBogg locates the marriage from hell - Clear Channel has decided to use Fox News Radio as the primary news source for most of its stations. Meanwhile, I have mail from Air America announcing that, "AAR debuts on Clear Channel's Washington, DC 570 AM WTNT Monday, January 20th, with The Al Franken Show live from the Presidential Inauguration." Just a few months too late. I wonder if it will have any effect?

Speaking of AAR, Bill Scher, who will be sitting in for Janeane Garofalo all week while she's off being a star somewhere, had a problem this week doing his Sunday Talkshow Breakdown: LiberalOasis can't decide what should lead today's Breakdown. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's egregious violation of medical ethics while on ABC's This Week, which should result in the loss of his medical license (and what you can do to make that happen). Or incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's feisty debut performance on NBC's Meet The Press. Bill covers both, of course, but really, Frist should be kicked out of the medical profession for what he's been up to. Report him.

(Those appearances by Reid, by the way, were also covered by the WaPo and CNN - with photos - and include details Bill didn't cover, such as his reference to Clarence Thomas as "an embarrassment". However, he seemed to have no problem with Scalia, sadly.)

Most musicians don't seem to think file-sharing is a threat to them, reports Norwegianity.
01:56 GMT

Monday, 06 December 2004

Being careful what you wish for

I haven't said much about the security bill because, on the one hand, I find the politics pretty disgusting, but, on the other hand, I don't trust anything that happens with these people in charge and I'd want to have a few months to study the whole thing carefully and find out just how terrible it is, first. Any talk of biometric IDs or any of that is right out as far as I'm concerned.

The Republicans can play all the political games they want to for partisan gains, but whenever they've agreed to doing what they didn't want to do before, they usually passed it full of toxic elements no one would have voted for if they'd seen it coming. Democrats were all for a real prescription drug benefit, for example, but not the one the Republicans passed. Now Hastert is playing interesting games with a bill that has bipartisan support - because he doesn't want the Democrats to get any credit for helping to pass it! - but might this all not just be a distraction from what's actually in the bill?

Most of what I'm hearing does nothing to address the facts of what really happened on 9/11. The men in question were already known by allied intel to have Islamist terrorist connections. We were informed. The men were in the country legally and did not need false identification. The National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice, avoided being given any information from her underlings, and even when told point-blank that a plot was in the offing, chose to ignore it. Most importantly, the communication problem was not between agencies but straight up the chain of command within them. If problem it was; the people responsible for blocking information about suspicious terrorist activity, preventing it from reaching the upper levels of the relevant agencies, were promoted shortly after 9/11. It was almost as if they were being rewarded for such communications failures.

A worse problem existed with Iraq: our professional intelligence apparatus was clear that the threat from Iraq was largely undetected because it didn't exist. Invading Iraq could only endanger us rather than protect us. Once the weapons inspectors were in Iraq itself, we had the only tool we needed to assure us of whether Saddam had WMD, and it was already well known that what defenses Saddam had were aimed at protecting his country from Iran, not the US. Absolutely everyone knew that Saddam was no friend to Osama bin Laden. The threat from Iraq was inside the heads of our "leadership", not from Saddam Hussein.

The truth is that the intelligence failures (again, if failures they were) occurred at the top. The only way to protect us from what happened, in that case, is to get those people out of the White House and the cabinet and make sure that neither they nor anyone like them can ever get back there again.
22:09 GMT

What's news

Another day, another idiotic David Brooks column, this one on how the smartest Republicans have a smart proposal to pay for the Social Security destruction privatization transition, if only those dumb old obstructionist Democrats would let them pass it. How smart is it? It will pay for the costs by - I love this - raising taxes on rich people! (As John-Paul says, Yeah, right.) Of course, if we were going to raise taxes on rich people, no further "reform" of SS would be necessary. (Matt Yglesias has a nice Shorter Brooks.)

The Weekly Standard has come up with a nicely convoluted way to deny the conservative bias of the mainstream media with this piece of rubbish that even goes so far as to assert that The Drudge Report is "moderately left of center". Well, yes, as far as the largely conservative media goes, Drudge may represent the moderate left of center of the media. But since the mainstream media is conservative, all that means is "not actually a John Birch Society member". Someday we hope to hear them define "liberal" in a way that doesn't attack ordinary Americans' mainstream views as rabidly liberal and "far out of the mainstream". (via)

At Tapped, Matthew Yglesias says: For some reason a lot of Muslims don't believe that Bush's policies toward Israel and Iraq are motivated by a sincere desire to spread liberty around the world. I wonder why that could be. Well, I bet he doesn't wonder at all.
19:40 GMT

Election fraud news

Daily Kos is reporting on the story in the Chicago Tribune about spurious Bush voters and other interesting anomalies which the FBI is now investigating.

Meanwhile, an interesting post has been showing up on the net purporting to be from someone who works for the RNC and is therefore not using his real name, who claims he knows that the vote was hacked. Nothing in the post is inconsistent with the facts, but it would be useful to know if there is a real Republican whistle-blower available to, well, blow the whistle. Unfortunately, he doesn't claim to have any documentation to back it up.
17:58 GMT

Items of note

Alert: NYT keeps the lie alive - Dave Johnson catches the Times repeating the falsehood that the Declaration of Independence was banned by a school. Write to them and ask why they used their paper to promote a lie rather than to correct the record.

Blue Lemur has reprinted (by permission) the Hustler story about how badly our "moral values" party behaved in New York during the Republican National Convention. (Via Skippy)

Male reactions to 7" or more.
15:58 GMT

All the wars at once

In the Guardian, Naomi Klein says, You asked for my evidence, Mr Ambassador. Here it is: Dear Mr Johnson, On November 26, your press counsellor sent a letter to the Guardian taking strong exception to a sentence in my column of the same day. The sentence read: "In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies." Of particular concern was the word "eliminating". She can back it up.

The right-wingers have been having another victim whine about how there's someplace left that they don't totally dominate: academe. We've heard it all before, but Ellen Goodman is having a good laugh at Those Poor College Conservatives.

Thomas Nephew considers the problems with a study that some people are using to claim that Wal-Mart doesn't hurt the economy.

GOTV is doing a series on Lehrer's lies of silence, and not unnaturally has one on voting problems: Friends, there is overwhelming evidence that Republicans carried out a nationwide conspiracy of sabotage of voter registration, sabotage of absentee voting, and voter intimidation. But the News Hour is determined not to notice.

What Readers Saw, and Didn't See: Ombudsman Michael Getler at The Washington Post says he was pleased to see a letter to the paper printed complaining that they keep talking about "post-war Iraq" as if the war was over. "The editors are taking this under consideration." He also castigates the Post for a piece of just plain shabby reporting in a local news story, and for a story that didn't appear at all - the one about the Defense Science Board report that analyzed the effectiveness of the administration's policies in the war on Muslims as being highly counterproductive in defeating Islamist terrorism.
13:44 GMT

Stuff to check out

It's funny, in Florida's bluest areas, a huge turn-out for Kerry somehow resulted in a huge rise in votes for Bush. But in blue, blue, Seattle, take a look at what happened when the Bush machine wasn't around.

Silt is now Silt3, with a new host and a new address.

Steve Clemons was involved in a conference - Al Qaeda 2.0: Transnational Terrorism Since 9/11. Since lots of people have asked for tapes and transcripts, he's got a pointer to the C-Span link and says transcripts will be posted soon. Meanwhile, the experience gave him more reasons to believe that Dean would have been a better candidate this year than Kerry. Have a look.

Drug WarRant says: Last week, Mark Kleiman, in Weirder than Satire in Columbia, noted that cocaine traffickers are being accused of pretending to be genocidal terrorists in order to get preferential treatment.

I was visiting Mike's LJ and saw this post referring to a thread at Kos about worthy weblogs, and noticed in a comment by PNH a recommendation for Everythingisruined. I don't remember if I've been there before but there's some mighty good musing going there about, y'know, the invasion.

Just when the right-wingers were so gleeful that liberals weren't paying attention to the murder of Theo van Gogh, The American Prospect posts an article on The Death of van Gogh.

I told you abstinence wasn't what they really have in mind: Let's Have More Teen Pregnancy.

Frank Rich on The Nascar Nightly News: Anchorman Get Your Gun: IF Democrats want to run around like fools trying to persuade voters in red America that they are kissing cousins to Billy Graham, Minnie Pearl and Li'l Abner, that's their problem. Pandering, after all, is what politicians do, especially politicians as desperate as the Democrats. But when TV news organizations start repositioning themselves to pander to Nascar dads and "moral values" voters, it's a problem for everyone.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden on Common fraud - those astroturf "grass roots" organizations that slickly scam people into believing that exactly the wrong things need to be changed. Good thread below, too.
00:28 GMT

Sunday, 05 December 2004

Stupidity watch

Lambert found something interesting n your not-so-liberal media - an article about one of the tax proposals the Republicans have for finding some revenue without actually having to tax rich layabouts. The headline is interesting: Proposal Would Hit Blue State Taxpayers. True, it would hit harder in the places it's currently better to live because those "blue" areas spend more money on their inhabitants. But "red" areas are already hurting more, precisely because they don't spend that money on the folks who live there. The headline suggests that red-staters can have a nice laugh at "blue-staters" if this proposal goes through, but this nasty joke is on them most of all.

Reading Orcinus and just wondering: Has the right-wing Blogosphere that was so outraged by Dan Rather's little inaccuracy been in high dudgeon over ABC's bit of pseudo-reporting of the Matthew Shepard case? (I mean, it's not like they didn't have a clue. via)

Atrios has another example of the kind of nice, respectable people the GOP think are fit to lead us - you know, the kind who are so much better than Michael Moore. Remember this guy the next time you hear anyone demanding that Democrats repudiate someone on the left.

Penny Arcade makes a literary criticism.
22:51 GMT

Recount alert

Alaska Recount 2004 says that, "Exit polls showed Tony Knowles winning (50 - 47 %) but in the results he lost by a significant margin." So activists are calling for a recount, but:

In order to request a recount, the candidate or group requesting the recount must pay a deposit of $10,000. This must be done within 5 days of the official announcement of election results. This means that the money must be collected and ready to give to the Division of Elections by 5 pm, Wednesday, December 8!
Go to their page for details on how to contribute to the effort.
18:38 GMT

It happened last week

I certainly didn't believe it when the administration pretended that it had changed its mind about having an office of official lying, but less suspicious people than me might have been surprised by last week's news that they'd been lying ever since, and CNN was happily playing along. Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest explains the mission.

Straight analysis from Roger Ailes - George Galloway won his libel action against the Telegraph, but Andrew Sullivan tried to explain it away. Roger makes it clear that Sully has it wrong.

We have all been here before - ACLU Says FBI Spying on Religious, Protest Groups: In Freedom of Information Act requests filed in 10 states and Washington, D.C., the ACLU sought information about the FBI's use of Joint Terrorism Task Forces and local police for what it called political surveillance. It pointed to some documented examples of task forces' involvement in the investigation of environmental activists and anti-war protesters. We're supposed to be at war with violent religious loonies, so they go after the Quakers. Yeah, that makes sense.

Around the time I left the US, the evening news had already turned into Disco News and Brokaw wasn't my favorite anchor, but he was better than a lot of the newer crop. Rather was - well, he was no Walter Cronkite. But in the last couple of decades they'd at least tried to swim against the tide and present some news instead of just the latest inside-the-Beltway media whims. I won't say they were great at it, but they were better than what they are now leaving behind: It's a neighborhood that, as Jennings acknowledged, is changing -- maybe soon to the point where Edward R. Murrow and David Brinkley and other members of TV's "Greatest Generation" may barely recognize it anymore. Brokaw was saying goodbye to more than a job last night.
12:24 GMT

NBC turnabout

Memeorandum has a link up for a confusing story headlined NBC Makes Unprecedented Downward Correction in Latino Support for Bush. The gist seems to be that NBC over-sampled Hispanics in places like South Florida where Republican support is stronger. Also: Ana Maria Arumi, the NBC elections manager also revised NBC's estimate for Hispanic support for Bush in Texas, revising a reported 18-point lead for Bush to a 2-point win for Kerry among Hispanics, a remarkable 20-point turnaround from figures reported on election night. I can't help but be curious about this sudden departure - from NBC, of all networks. Being a suspicious soul, a part of me says, "They really want to muddy the waters about those exit polls, don't they?" But I thought they'd already done that by pretending that there was something significant about the allegedly high number of people who gave "moral values" as their most important issue in this election, even though the percentage who gave that answer had gone down since 2000.
02:14 GMT

Saturday, 04 December 2004

Talk of the sphere

There is a marvellous post on the whole UN/Koffi Annan story at Rittenhouse Review with a massive round-up on the subject. One of the linked articles is to Joe Conason's John Birch lives at Salon with this nice quote: If American conservatism is truly the fount of "new ideas," as its publicists incessantly assure us, why do conservatives constantly promote the stale old ideas that obsessed them in 1962?

John McCain has found something really important to agree with Bush about - steroids. In baseball. Only one pundit is equipped to handle a subject of this magnitude: Giblets can see that, because of the vital role steroid abuse plays in the drug war and the escalating crime rates that accompany it. The other day Giblets saw Barry Bonds knock over a seven-eleven to pay for human growth hormones.

I don't care about who replaces who in the cabinet. I mean, let's face it, what difference does it make? If they are even marginally responsible or sane they get ignored, sidelined, and frequently fired, and Bush does the crazy things he was going to do anyway. It's not really a surprise that after everyone called for Rumsfeld to be given the axe, Bush fired everyone else instead. Your Talking Dog says: Bruce-the-veep e-mails to suggest that perhaps President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld are, in fact, involved in a plot to soften up Earth for an invasion by their alien overlords. The more likely reason is that dumping Rumsfeld (for any reason, at any time) would be a tacit admission that Rumsfeld's performance has not defined the word "perfection"
16:50 GMT

Count it

Free Speech Zone is keeping track of Election Fraud. There's a Diebold page. Other items linked of note there include:

Keith Olbermann saying Jesse Jackson's participation in the voting issue has suddenly made it "sexy" enough to get more coverage.

A post at Daily Kos has this:

Anyway, there was a pretty lengthy interview on C-Span today with Cliff Arnebeck, an attorney for Alliance for Democracy, who is going to file a suit tomorrow in Ohio challenging the election result. This is different from demanding a recount. This organization is actually saying it believes--BASED ON EVIDENCE--that the election result is INCORRECT.

Mr. Arnebeck said they have evidence that shows the election result was actually the opposite of what's been reported. He says that Kerry won 51% of the vote in OH, and he seems to claim he can prove it.

I have no idea about the validity of this claim, but I can say this is the first time I've heard a lawyer involved in this fracas saying they have evidence of fraud.

Listen to it yourself and tell me what you think. Go to under "Recent Programs" and click on "Washington Journal Entire Program (12/02/04)"

(Or you can copy this direct link into RealPlayer.) Very much worth watching, both to hear what the lawyer says and to hear the RNC talking points from callers.
14:35 GMT

Buncha stuff

Carry a Big Sticker

The Left Coaster on The One Resignation That Matters: While the media whoops and hollers over knaves like Tom Ridge, discarded facades like Colin Powell, pusillanimous media moguls such as Tom Brokaw, mediocrities on the order of Ron Paige, and outright despots like John Ashcroft, the retirement of Bill Moyers from the Public Broadcasting Corporation stands out as the only resignation event of the season that will clearly diminish America and leave it poorer for his going.

Reuters: Russia's Putin Calls U.S. Policy 'Dictatorial': "Even if dictatorship is packaged in beautiful pseudo-democratic phraseology, it will not be able to solve systemic problems," Putin said. "It may even make them worse." This is even funnier if you read the whole thing.

Molly Ivins wonders: Is This American? It is both peculiar and chilling to find oneself discussing the problem of American torture. I have considered support of basic human rights and dignity so much a part of our national identity that this feels as strange as though I'd suddenly become Chinese or found Fidel Castro in the refrigerator.

If you haven't been to The Daou Report yet, check it out - lots of links to an impressive array of blogs and other sites. And it alerted me to this post at Feministing that recommends Sex & the Clergy at The Nation.

Via Political Wire, The Bal'mar Sun is feuding even more with Maryland's governor: The Baltimore Sun Co. sued Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Friday, saying he violated the newspaper's First Amendment rights by ordering state press officers to stop speaking with two of its writers. [...] Ehrlich has said his staff issued the Nov. 18 order after what he considered unfair reporting by statehouse bureau chief David Nitkin and columnist Michael Olesker. The governor said publicly that the move was "meant to have a chilling effect" on "two writers who have no credibility."
03:15 GMT


With the release of Kinsey, our friend Judith Reisman is back in the news again. Daniel Radosh in The New Yorker has a little profile on her and her war on Kinsey, Why Know?

When Judith Reisman and Eunice Van Winkle Ray lectured together recently in Nashville, Mrs. Ray was introduced by her husband, Colonel Ronald Ray, who grabbed the audience's attention by announcing that the United States "lost the most important war of the twentieth century." He was referring not to Vietnam, where he served, but to the sexual revolution. "Many of us are casualties of the sexual revolution," he said cryptically. Mrs. Ray then took the lectern and presented an overview, complete with charts, of our current state of sexual degeneracy: the repeal of laws against abortion, adultery, fornication, and even sodomy. All of this they trace back to the work of one man: Alfred Kinsey.
Ultimately, Reisman and her colleagues hope to discredit not only Kinsey but the entire field of sexology which he created, and what she calls "the sexindustrial complex" that has grown out of it. "One doesn't measure American sexual habits," she said. "That's not a science."
Via Alternative Hippopotamus. Adult Christianity provides some more background on our Ms. Reisman, quoting, among others, someone who may be familiar to you.
01:53 GMT

Putting him on the spot

Dan Froomkin in Salon asks, Mr. President, will you answer the question? It's all about how Bush evades having to answer for himself, and "what the White House press corps should do to smoke him out." But this paragraph interested me:

Even more of a charade these days are the daily briefings held by White House press secretary Scott McClellan, whose robotic adherence to repeating the predetermined messages of the day -- no matter what questions come his way -- has driven some correspondents to despair. Only narcissists and cranks could possibly feel they are getting much out of asking a question at a McClellan press briefing. Not coincidentally, the cranks are increasingly sitting at the front of the briefing room and getting called upon, in part because some big media organizations don't even bother to fill their assigned chairs anymore. What's the point?
Does anyone remember this AJR story over the summer that explained how Knight-Ridder gave the best coverage to the debate over invading Iraq precisely because they didn't have "good" White House access? And haven't I been pointing out for years now that for actual news coverage of the administration, having "access" doesn't give you any better insight into events than just reading the transcripts and press releases would? Which means that, to a certain extent, professional journalists are already doing what any old blogger can do anyway. You could just peruse the site and write a story about it, so what's the difference? Why bother to send your reporters to the White House press briefings and pseudo-press conferences just to be insulted by George and Scottie's dissembling?

Froomkin's prescription for cornering Bush is a simple one: Take advantage of Bush's new one-question rule. Making questions simple and straightforward actually leaves Bush with less room to evade. "And of course," says Froomkin, "long, amorphous questions effortlessly lead to longer, more amorphous answers. So ideally, questions should have concrete answers." And then they should have a proper follow-up ready. Real questions with real answers, and don't be afraid to make it clear that you know when you haven't been given an answer. Froomkin has a little list, too.
00:49 GMT

Friday, 03 December 2004

More things I've read

As you may recall, David Brooks wrote another fruity article touting John Stott as a groovy evangelical. Jerome Doolittle quotes a letter to the NYT from The Reverend Doctor James F. Karpen: Evangelicalism ought to require a faithfulness to the Evangel, the Gospel, the message of Christ. [...] Why are we Christians constantly asked to look up to people Jesus would never want to have a beer with? (The rest of that letter, and the others generated by the article, are here.) Jerome also does a little bit of inspired writing.

Congratulations to Jeff Cooper.

"For material to be indecent in the legal sense it must be of a sexual or excretory nature and it must be patently offensive," explains sleazy little weasel Michael Powell, as if the likes of Howard Stern could possibly be more patently offensive than Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, Ann Coulter - and Michael Powell. Hilariously, Powell is telling the outraged public to shut up because he has to censor things that outrage...three people. But more people are outraged by Powell than by the things he censors, so it's about time he started listening. And I see via Memeorandum that I'm not the only person who reacted that way. Jeff Jarvis (despite not understanding that Michael Copps is a better friend to freedom of speech than Powell is), has an excellent analysis - in fact, go there instead of to the NYT to get a clear idea of just how mendacious the junior Powell really is.

The Ever Bolder Republican Plan To Keep Black Ballots Out of the Count By Tom Grayman III at Buzzflash: The suppression, disenfranchisement, and disempowerment of African-American voters has been a cornerstone of Republican electoral success for the last 40 years. (via)

The most informative Guardian article, by China Miéville, author, 32, London. (via)
23:25 GMT

Things I read over dinner

This Barbara Ehrenreich article is from July but it made me laugh and is still wonderfully timely now that we're hearing again about all the clever plans the Republicans have for saving heterosexual marriage. (via)

Found this quote on Mobjectivist: Sometime between 1972 and 1977, when we lived in the US,there was a television commercial that only appeared once: it showed the inside of a typical American house from which article after article vanished until it looked like a house from the 19th. century. The text was something absolutely simple, like "without oil". We never saw the commercial again, but it was effective enough to still be in my memory.

Note to Jess: I ain't no Brit.

Amy Sullivan has a profile of Bob Novak that I guess explains why they let him keep his job but not why Bob Schrum still gets hired for Democratic campaigns. Fascinating reading, anyway.
21:55 GMT


Chris Anderson has learned that:

Ken Starr now says he shouldn't have been involved in the Lewinsky investigation (link):
Starr said his role in a yearslong investigation of Clinton should have focused instead on Clinton's role in the failed Arkansas land deal known as Whitewater.

"There was a sense on the part of the country that my (Lewinsky) effort was an effort somehow to expand the (Whitewater) investigation, when it was separate," he told the Santa Barbara News-Press following a speech on Wednesday.

Gee, ya think?
Oh, yeah.

Chris also points to a post at Not Geniuses that exposes a particularly wrong-headed article at The New Republic slamming the idea that Howard Dean is a credible choice for Democratic Party leadership. NG responds to what it calls "a certain Zellish zealotry" with: It's particularly interesting that they lead the hit piece by dismissing what they perceive as Dean's worldview based on his loss in the primaries. If performance in the 2004 primaries is the standard for credibility these days, what's that say about the editors who threw their lot in with Joe Lieberman?

Joe Trippi has been hammering the Democratic leadership - in The Wall Street Journal, of all places. DemocracyforCalifornia has a pointer and discusses Only the Grassroots Can Save the Democratic Party.

Polemic Propaganda found the new Homeland Security Advisory System chart for us.

Textbook disclaimer stickers from the folks at Swarthmore, via Get Donkey!

Boing Boing reveals that MSN Spaces = Soylent Green - their terms and conditions for their new blogging system seem to take over rights none of the others ask for. (Via Elayne Riggs, who also has some Silly sites for the season, and some Xmas lights, too.
18:31 GMT

Hollywood liberals and other celebrities

Jerry Falwell is a hateful crackpot and you know it. But he's on the air on "mainstream" stations that wouldn't be caught dead letting Greg Palast talk about issues that are important to at least half of the electorate and maybe a good deal more. Falwell shows up considerably more often than Joe Conason and Eric Alterman combined. So does raving drunken hate-monger Ann Coulter. But the right-wingers are constantly telling us that we should be embarrassed by, and repudiate, far more responsible voices, such as Michael Moore (yes, he is) or a variety of other entertainers. Scoobie Davis leaps to the defense of Hollywood liberals:

Far from being a [millstone] around progressives' necks, Hollywood people are a credit to this nation. Take, for example, Al Franken. When Rush Limbaugh was running roughshod over the truth and declaring a jihad against anyone who opposed the radical right, who spoke up against him? I remember well. I was waiting for a member of Congress or the mainstream media to step up and take on this lying bully. It took an SNL comedy writer to put Limbaugh in his place.
Anyhoo, I caught Baldwin on Jon Favreau's show Dinner for Five on IFC yesterday and he had some noteworthy comments when Tracey Ullman mentioned the apocryphal claim that Baldwin said he would leave America if Bush were elected in 2000:
BALDWIN: I never said that but what you find with these people in these right-wing fascist media outlets is it sounds like something that they want you to have said--so they promulgate that said it, but I never said it. Never. As a matter of fact, the producer of O'Reilly's show sent a handwritten letter to my home in New York and my home in Long Island and it said, "come on my show and do Bill O'Reilly's show." I said that I'll come on the show if you do me a favor: Do a Lexis search and find the audio clip, the videotape clip, or printed transcript where I made that statement attributed to me and he said, "I can't do that." They need to have that ammunition to marginalize and diminish. That's their thing now is to quash dissent... There are different types of people who have an inordinate amount of media access. Corporate executives have that. So when corporate executives try to influence public policy to directly line their pockets and the pockets of their shareholders, no one questions that. But when actors espouse something that's not in their economic interests--I've never tried to line my pockets with what I say--I say, "why don't we do more of X that's going to be for the greater good of people in our society," people always think that's odd.
Baldwin makes a good point. The right has tried to make political hay over the involvement of Hollywood in politics and have tried to stigmatize the Democrats for their ties with Hollywood (e.g., as I'm writing this, James Hirsen of Christopher Ruddy's NewMax is on O'Reilly's show bashing the Hollywood left). We have to do more to stigmatize the GOP's friends who deserve stigma.
I agree, of course. But the right-wing has two celebrities in particular whose political pronouncements should have even less credibility than those of Hollywood liberals: Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. These are the very people who are always first in line to slam people like Alec Baldwin when they express political opinions, on the grounds that actors and musicians aren't supposed to be experts on politics. But who the hell are Limbaugh and O'Reilly? They're just a low-rent disk-jockey and some guy who can't even remember where he grew up, and their sole claim to political knowledge comes from repeating RNC talking points.

To add to the farce, at least half the legislators in Congress not only haven't read the bills they vote on, but even their aides haven't read them. The closest they get to a briefing is usually to be told whether some of their constituents have given their opinion on an issue - researching the issue itself is generally out of the question.

Actors, at least, might have a lot of time between gigs to read up on issues. And they aren't generally asking for a special tax break with their name on it.

And don't forget: Limousine liberals arrive in limos that have been rented for the occasion - by companies owned by Rolls Royce Republicans.
15:14 GMT


Thanks to Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Democrat, I think I have an RSS feed now. Like me, Steve hand-codes his page, but he has a better idea of what he's doing. Obviously, this isn't as quick and easy as using dedicated blogging software, but at least it appears to work - even in Firefox.
13:55 GMT

Oh, no, not again!

It's always the end of history when someone who doesn't think like them takes a hit. For example, professional fruit-bat Michael Ledeen, a man who appears to think that Bill Clinton is a worshipper of Soviet communism, has declared The End of the Left's History:

The hysterical reaction of the Western Left to the reelection of President George W. Bush is not just a primal scream from politicians and intellectuals deprived of political power. The violent language, numerous acts of violence, and demonization of Bush and his electorate - the same as that directed against Tony Blair in Britain, Jose Maria Aznar in Spain, and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy - portend a more fundamental event: the death rattle of the traditional Left, both as a dominant political force and as an intellectual vision.
See? When you manage to lose the good opinion of mankind, it's mankind that's "hysterical" because they don't know they're dead. (And what are those "numerous acts of violence" he's talking about?) He can tell the left is dead, because:
For the most part, the Left only wins elections nowadays when their candidates run on their opponents' platform (Clinton and Blair) or when panic overwhelms the political process (Zapatero and Schroeder). Under normal circumstances, leftists running as leftists rarely win, proving that their ideology - the ideology that dominated political and intellectual debate for most of the last century - is spent.
I'm not sure how he knows all this, since we haven't actually seen an actual leftist go head-to-head with a Republican in a presidential race, my lifetime. Don't you wonder what would happen if one did?
01:59 GMT

Thursday, 02 December 2004


We all know the neocons hate the UN because they think the US should run the world and they don't like any interference. So they've been hammering at Kofi Annan and the gang with vigor. But here's the daily Talking Point from AAR's Unfiltered:

For weeks, the Republicans have been yammering about Kofi Annan and the UN Oil for Food Program. They're calling for his head, saying that he's responsible for mismanagement of Iraqi funds. (Of course, we all know that the Republicans are picking this issue to go after him on because they want to do all they can to undermine the UN. Full of foreigners, y'know). But it turns out that the Repugs might have picked the wrong issue to use to go after Annan. An NBC investigation last night reported on grave mismanagement of Iraqi oil funds BY THE UNITED STATES. Eight point eight billion dollars are out there in the atmosphere somewhere, there are two sets of books (that don't match) at the Iraqi Finance Ministry, and almost 9 billion bucks missing. What's that they say about glass houses?
So there.
17:14 GMT

Yesterday's hot topics

Don't you love it? ABC headline: Americans' Role Eyed in U.N. Oil Scandal. And it is, of course, Marc Rich, so well-remembered for being pardoned by Clinton, which means of course that all the right-wing loony blogs are having a field day while they completely ignore the much more serious crimes of dealing with enemy nations that have been committed by none other than arch villain Dick Cheney.

It turns out that the content of the abstinence-only sex miseducation your tax dollars are paying for is so utterly mendacious that even Ceci Connolly noticed it. Right-wing whackos are filling kids' heads up with outright lies in order to frighten them away from having any sex, because they apparently are afraid that the truth will set them free. And guess what? A sharp look at the data (right-wingers hate facts) demonstrates that - surprise! - it doesn't work. At least, it doesn't work to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy, but it's becoming more and more evident that they already know that - these programs are meant to spread misery, not prudence. Young people who take vows of chastity are just as likely to have sex before marriage as anyone else, but they are more likely prey to disease and unwanted pregnancies (and, of course, divorce). Henry Waxman is the hero who brought this to light. Read the whole article for the killer last paragraph on advice to young women to be stupid to catch a man. Fred Clark at Slacktivist observes: But above all, they want to make sure all teen girls are aware of their status in relation to boys: secondary.

Sam Rosenfeld at Tapped on THAT LIBERAL TIMES: The rabidly liberal New York Times really outdoes itself today. They run an op-ed by a CATO-affiliated ex-Chilean official touting his country's privatized pension system as a model for Social Security privatization efforts here in the States. But of course the editors at the Times could never bring themselves to let that piece stand on its own without a rebuttal, so for balance they run an accompanying op-ed by an ex-Republican congressman touting . . . Social Security privatization. The arrogance of the elite liberal media never ceases to amaze. Actual liberalism at the NYT really would amaze me.
13:23 GMT

Under the ice

I probably shouldn't steal so many pics from Maru but I can't help myself. Anyway, try this post on the gay book-burner thing.

I was going to rant at length about John Kasich's demented article about Social Security, but I watched Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson's Smile instead. It was pretty good. Besides, you know a crackpot scheme when you see one, right? (Kevin has a theory....)

Amy Sullivan has a post at Political Animal about the story-behind-the-story of the recount in the state of Washington. Um, I can't think of a short way to describe this, just go read it.

Dental care
02:13 GMT

Recount news

The Brad Blog has the scoop:

Activist OH County Judge Halts Green/Lib Recount!
And it's the KERRY/EDWARDS Campaign to the Rescue!!!
You can feel the excitement, eh?
Two statements have been released today on the Green Party's Cobb-LaMarche Website in regard to the impending joint Green/Libertarian recount in Ohio.

The first statement reports that a Delaware County, Ohio judge has issued a temporary restraining order "attempting to prevent Cobb from seeking a recount of the presidential ballots cast in that county."

The order, according to the statement, was issued "without contacting or seeking any input from the candidates or their attorneys."

I'm no legal eagle myself, but if true, that fact alone is certainly curious.
I'd the expect the restraining order will in fact be eventually set aside, particularly given Ohio Sec. of State (and coincidentally Ohio's Co-Chair for the Bush/Cheney Re-elect Committee) J. Kenneth Blackwell's point-blank statement on MSNBC last night that "The Glibs'" recount would definitely be moving forward.

But guess who showed up in court today to come to "The Glibs" defense?!

That's right! You may remember them from some of their well-publicized work earlier this year, the Kerry/Edwards campaign -- it was announced in the second statement at the Cobb-Lamarche site -- has filed briefs with the court intervening in defense of "The Glibs"!

That'd be the Greens and Libertarians. The press spokesbeing had this to say:
"We welcome the support of the Kerry-Edwards campaign for the recount and we call upon the Bush-Cheney ticket to offer their support for this multi-partisan effort as well."
We join Brad in not holding our breath.
00:23 GMT

Wednesday, 01 December 2004

Things to read

Yuval Rubinstein at The Left Coaster says that an article in The Hill "suggests that the DC Democrats are finally beginning to understand the importance of this strange and exotic phenomenon commonly referred to as the 'grassroots'." And :It's amazing (though not surprising) that it's taken the DC brain-trust so long to figure this out, just like Atrios is bewildered that Harry Reid's plan to install a "war room" in the Senate wasn't considered until now. Also, the article also notes that we're likely headed for a Dean v. Frost showdown for DNC chair.

Tom Ball at Political Strategy has an article on voting problems, which includes yet another one: NY Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez reports today unbelievable spikes in 3rd party candidates in African-American neighborhood precincts in Cleveland - uncovered by Gonzalez and his colleague, reporter Larry Cohler-Esses. They found the vote surge in 3rd-party counts for Michael Peroutka (Precinct 4-F ) and Michael Badnarik (4-N ), and similarly for 12 other Cleveland precincts. Example- Kerry 318, Badnarik 163, Bush 21 (precinct 4N). Next example - Kerry 290 , Peroutka 215, Bush 21 (4F). Peroutka is an ultra-conservative. "That's terrible, I can't believe it," said City Councilman Kenneth Johnson (4th ward rep since 1980) "It's obviously a malfunction with the machines." There does not appear to have been a butterfly ballot to explain why Peroutka got so many votes in black precincts.
20:36 GMT

Something finally depressed me

I periodically check to see if there's any change at Media Whores Online, or even if it's still there. The other day I looked and even the "Out to pasture" notice was gone, and today it's still just a nonexistent page.
19:26 GMT

Big issues

Watch this ad. Then try to figure out why NBC and CBS have both refused to air it because it is "too controversial". What you see when you watch the ad is a crowd of people going into a church - only there are bouncers in front turning some people away. The voice-over says, "The United Church of Christ - no matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here." Most people would probably have to be looking for it to figure out why the bouncers are turning particular people away. Otherwise, it comes across as just your standard Our Church Welcomes All of God's Children message (and, of course, since we are all God's children, that isn't a terribly controversial message - to a Christian.) I knew what I was looking for and still had to watch it twice to twig that the only indicator of something different about the people being rejected by the bouncers were two people of the same age and sex attempting to enter together. I don't know about you, but since I've walked into church side-by-side with my sister more times than I can count, that didn't even register with me the first time. And if I'd seen this ad 20 or 30 years ago, I probably would never have noticed anything in the ad that could be interpreted as gay-friendly. I might have assumed it was aimed at people who felt they couldn't go to a church of a different Christian denomination, or people who felt excluded because they weren't getting along with their family over other (unrelated) lifestyle issues (like having long hair, say - once a very big deal of an issue between families). Josh Marshall has more.

Why there is probable cause for a thorough investigation of the election: A long post at Daily Kos, Major Tom on "Actionable Fraud" and More! There is something else of import that all of us should keep in mind. It is the concept of "reasonable suspicion." In brief, it's a standard that law enforcement authorities need to meet in order to stop and search a citizen, a car and so on; and it can be the valid basis of an eventual arrest. Indeed, it is less than a "probable cause" or "more likely than not" legal standard. Thus, a twenty or thirty percent likelihood of a given event or fact would meet the "reasonable suspicion standard."

Xymphora: So the rural land-owning class who need cheap oil to support the value of their isolated landholdings formed an alliance of convenience with the plutocrats who sell oil. 'Values' was a smokescreen for sheer economic self-interest. Both groups are nuts for violent militaristic colonialism to ensure there is enough oil to buy, and to sell. The whole analysis, which has a tinge of what you'd read in Wired magazine circa 1998, is nevertheless interesting. If true, there is no hope for the Democrats until the oil runs out, and the ensuing revolution destroys the Republican Party.
15:16 GMT

Local stuff

The way it's been explained to me, Cix's spam filters get overwhelmed and the big giant mailbox fills up and stops accepting anything, or something like that. So I'm still getting some intermittent bounces. If this happens to you, go leave a comment on the top post at the emergency weblog and I'll try to check to see if there is any meeping there.

Certain individuals have been publicly or privately complaining that I still don't have an RSS feed. OK, I admit it, I don't have a replacement feed because I don't know where to get one that doesn't rely on me using dedicated blogging software. I would also like to not have to load a whole bunch of code into every individual timestamp. Anyone have any ideas?

Are you all back from your holidays now? Don't you think it's time to fix that link?
14:12 GMT

A preponderance of evidence

You all remember how Warren County, Ohio, locked things up to count votes in secret? Well, who'da thunk that there would be oddities in their ballot counts, eh? Something's rotten in the state of Denmark has the details. Derelection 2004 has the short version:

[I]n the latest Ohio irregularity to emerge... a retired African-American judge named C. Ellen Connally... received a net 45,000 more votes in Butler County relative to her Republican opponent than Kerry did relative to his -- and this for a black judge from Cleveland in a conservative, rural county on the Indiana border, 40 miles north of Kentucky. Not exactly the Dixiecrat choice.
Gosh, I wonder how that could happen?.
03:44 GMT

Media moments

Here's a knee-slapper: Pat Sajak can't understand the Hush Over Hollywood - that is, the non-reaction (in the media) to the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh:

The presumed murderer, a Dutch-born dual Moroccan-Dutch citizen, attached a 5-page note to van Gogh's body with a knife. In it, he threatened jihad against the West in general, and specifically against five prominent Dutch political figures. Van Gogh's crime? He created a short film highly critical of the treatment of women in Islamic societies. So, again I ask, where is the outrage from Hollywood's creative community? I mean, talk about a violation of the right of free speech!
Ah, but after toying with a few reasons he doesn't feel much enthusiasm for, he comes up with the answer! Wait for it:
There's another possibility; one that seems crazy on the surface, but does provide an explanation for the silence, and is also in keeping with the political climate in Hollywood. Is it just possible that there are those who are reluctant to criticize an act of terror because that might somehow align them with President Bush, who stubbornly clings to the notion that these are evil people who need to be defeated? Could the level of hatred for this President be so great that some people are against anything he is for, and for anything he is against?

As nutty as it sounds, how else can you explain such a muted reaction to an act that so directly impacts creative people everywhere? Can you conceive of a filmmaker being assassinated because of any other subject matter without seeing a resulting explosion of reaction from his fellow artists in America and around the world?

As I said, it's a nutty-sounding explanation, but we live in nutty times.

That's nutty, all right, because no one believes that being outraged by religious loonies qualifies as aligning themselves with Bush. No liberal seriously believes that Bush minds sexism very much, anyway. The more likely answer is that it happened to a foreigner in a foreign country and no one really knows who he is, and even if they do, no one expects that expressing outrage will accomplish anything. What, is Hollywood supposed to lean on Bush to condemn the Dutch? That would be a good one. (An even better explanation would be that for all we know Hollywood has expressed outrage, but the media is too bored with the issue to report it.)

Hey, I have an idea - perhaps Pat Sajak can explain why the press has not expressed any outrage at the number of journalist who have been killed in Iraq by American troops.

In The Nation, Eric Alterman defends the one "special interest" group that isn't - the Hollywood left:

Paul Begala recalls that during all his time in the White House, meeting with hundreds if not thousands of powerful contributors, "Ninety-nine point five percent of them were asking me for something designed to put money in their own pockets. Hollywood people were the only big givers who never asked for anything but that we try to make America a better country as they saw it."
That'd be by doing things like keeping our air and water clean, for example. (And at Altercation, Eric explains why Iraq is not like Vietnam.)
01:42 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, December 2004

November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page

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