The Sideshow

Archive for February 2005

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Monday, 28 February 2005

In Blogtopia

Through the Looking Glass quotes from an article in the March Harper's about AWOL soldiers. Of particular interest to Charles are those who want out as soon as they hit basic training.

Fred Clark advises us to Head for the hills: There you have the president of the United States stating that the government fully intends to default on trillions of dollars worth of treasury bonds. A statement like that can't be met with Waggonerian moderation. A statement like that, if Bush is serious, calls for stark, raving panic. Fred also points out that in 75 years, the Baby-Boomers will be dead - which means that it makes no sense to worry about the impact the Boomers will be having on Social Security at that point.

Cup O'Joe found a good Ben Sargent cartoon about Bush's "fix" for Social Security, and also received an application for White House press credentials.

Morgaine Swann's four-part How to talk to a Christian series (start at the bottom and read up): Anyway, our problem has been that we won't use the truth. That is the most powerful weapon. If someone lies to your face and you're afraid to call it a lie, it doesn't matter how correct your position or how altruistic your values. You are a coward, and your cause will fail. (via)

20:12 GMT

Whatever happened to that guy?

William Zantzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll. Dylan misspelled the name and messed up the facts, but there's a deeper truth that the song captures for us:

Listening to The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll today, you can hear Dylan shouting against exactly this blindness. The song he wrote took a one-column, under-the-rug story and played it as big as it deserved to be. Dylan's voice sounds so young, hopeful, unjaded, noncommercial - so far from the Victoria's Secret world of today. Even the song's title is well chosen: Before I went to Carroll's church, I had not quite understood why her death was "lonesome". But of course, as Rev Jessup noted: "Not one of those people stood up for her." In a party full of elegant guests, Hattie Carroll was on her own.
This article tells us a little about what happened to Carroll's survivors, and to the man held responsible for her death, in the more than four decades since the event. And a few other things. Via Xymphora, where I also learned of this Onion article which tells us just what the administration really feels about our troops.
19:00 GMT

The arts

Unfiltered on Air America are actually going to have Tim Lahaye on today (9:00 AM to noon slot, eastern time).

Charlie has been writing about writing, with Five rules for cold-bloodedly designing a fantasy series and Why I am able to write.

Whisperado are offering an .mp3 on their website.
14:50 GMT

The attack on public schools

This is your must-read blog post, over at An Old Soul:

Read this entire speech, given back in 1997 by David Stratman, and then you can decide whether to be blown away or hide your head in the sand.

Stratman dared to pull all the pieces together about what's going on in public education policy almost 8 years ago. I think the whole picture he paints makes complete sense as we see that some of the strongest cheerleading and unconditional love for NCLB comes from the corporate Dems, the DLC.

The reason that public education is under attack is this: our young people have more talent and intelligence and ability than the corporate system can ever use, and higher dreams and aspirations than it can ever fulfill. To force young people to accept less fulfilling lives in a more unequal, less democratic society, the expectations and self-confidence of millions of them must be crushed. Their expectations must be downsized and their sense of themselves restructured to fit into the new corporate order, in which a relative few reap the rewards of corporate success-defined in terms of huge salaries and incredible stock options-and the many lead diminished lives of poverty and insecurity.

If my analysis is correct, it means that you - public educators, every person in this room, and all the staff and colleagues you have worked with these many years - you are under attack not because you have failed - which is what the media and the politicians like to tell you. You are under attack because you have succeeded-in raising expectations which the corporate system cannot fulfill.
There is a world of difference between raising our "expectations" for students and raising "standards." Raising our expectations means raising our belief in students' ability to succeed and insuring that all the resources are there to see that they do. Raising standards means erecting new hoops for them to jump through.

I think this goes back to what BushCo said in a debate once, another era ago: NCLB is a jobs program to better prepare workers for the 21st century jobs. Yes, I see, I see.

It's to better prepare us to work at all those slave drudgery jobs, so that we the sheeple will unquestioningly live our lives of insecurity and poverty for generations to come.

It has the ring of truth, doesn't it?
14:06 GMT

What's goin' on

Two things in the NYT that bring the horror up close:
Bush's Next Target: Malpractice Lawyers. Because if there is accountability, then power won't have as good a chance to corrupt.
Private Health Care in Jails Can Be a Death Sentence - because the other term for "profit-driven" is often "on the cheap".
And Gary Farber has a reaction to both of these things, here and here.

Ralph Nader says administration tolerates corruption: Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader stepped back into the public spotlight yesterday to deliver a scathing critique of the Bush administration's Iraq policies, demand a quick end to the American occupation there and call on antiwar activists to take their case to their representatives in Congress. Via Cursor.

Eli at Left I on the News wonders just how low the bar can be set, and finds a pretty low setting.

Watch the trailer for A Scanner Darkly. (Thanks to Dominic of Epicycle for the tip.)
02:12 GMT

Sunday, 27 February 2005

A few good links

Mary at Pacific Views has an answer for Larry Summers.

The Poor Man has interviewed God on the Jeff Gannon situation, and learned that God has a message for us in it.

Norbizness has a suggestion for how to react when the shrubbery gets too blatant.

Poor Richard's Anorak has an amusing word usage problem.

Eccentricity says Bush has managed to unite all 50 state legislatures against No Child's Behind Left.
20:47 GMT

Who is he kidding?

Joemental. Yes, there are supposed to be "Democrats" who are keen to "compromise" with Republicans over Social Security (by giving Bush everything he asked for, as Josh Marshall notes), but it's just Joe Lieberman (Insurance Industry-CT) doing his usual party trick of turning a victory into an own goal.

Or is it? Perhaps one (or several) of Mr. Lieberman's constituents can contact him and ask exactly who has been leaning on him to buy into this scam that clearly is not to the benefit of ordinary, hard-working American families.

Or is it just that the Republicans have threatened not to support him anymore? There's actually no evidenced that he could beat a real challenge, because he's never had to before, what with his backers coming from the supposed opposition and all. How else do you think he got into office against a popular Republican who was considerably more liberal than Lieberman has ever been?

Who is he kidding? Maybe the press, who still keep falling for this pluralization of Lieberman after all these years. He isn't "Democrats", and he doesn't speak for "Democrats". I wish someone would tell the media they are exhibiting conservative bias every time they fall for this.
13:54 GMT

The RIAA: mismanaging music

The Evil Genius Chronicles alerts me to yet another piece of evidence from Barry Ritholtz against Big Piracy:

Here's an article saying similar things to what I said last week, that the existence of any RIAA sanctioned all-you-can-download subscription services completely undermines their assertions that filetrading causes economic losses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per file. That math just don't work out.
Ritholtz also goes back over the two essential points the RIAA never wants you to think about:

  • that the music being downloaded for free is not, for the most part, material that would otherwise have been purchased by the downloaders:
  • Consider the biggest of all downloaders -- mostly-broke college students. They have a computer their parents bought them, and the campus gives them a big, fat pipe. They get access to music they would never have bought, resulting in future post-college sales. But the one-to-one lost sales argument is transparently false.
  • that free music is promotion for the artists rather than representing a loss to them:
    Of course, that doesn't consider studies (such as the one from Harvard/UNC CHapel Hill) that shows P2P drives CD and concert ticket sales. I only buy music that I hear and like. Since that hardly happens via the radio anymore, P2P is my most common source of new music (that, and Apple adverts).
Take a look at the latest Rolling Stone list of top earners and you can see just how badly the recording industry is doing at promoting new music and acts:
2004 Music Money Makers
1. Prince $56.5 MILLION
2. Madonna $54.9 MILLION
3. Metallica $43.1 MILLION
4. Elton John $42.9 MILLION
5. Jimmy Buffett $36.5 MILLION
6. Rod Stewart $34.6 MILLION
7. Shania Twain $33.2 MILLION
8. Phil Collins $33.2 MILLION
9. Linkin Park $33.1 MILLION
10. Simon and Garfunkel $31.3 MILLION
What does it tell you that six of those were well-established 20 years ago, and only one is really new? Well, one thing is that the post-WWII Baby-Boom demographic is still an important market. The other is that someone is missing a bet by not promoting music that has the power to command that kind of interest. The radio networks have been staying as far away as they can to music with a real edge to it, leaving it with bland product that's unlikely to have much appeal for teenagers or for 50-somethings.

The truth is that, thanks to file-sharing, the recording industry is making more money than its practices should have earned it.
11:26 GMT

Saturday, 26 February 2005

Buncha links

First go to Reptile Wisdom just to hear the current track. You can open other windows/tabs to read the rest of these while you listen.

Eric Boehlert provides the straight dope on Gannongate: It's worse than you think at Salon. (This doesn't even include the other details, such as Gannon's apparent knowledge of sensitive information before the rest of the press knew about it, and his suspected ties to Plamegate.)

May the Government be damned for it says Phil Gyford, recommending Brian Sedgemore's speech in the House of Commons on the latest nasty piece of anti-terrorism legislation. There's also a link to video footage. "I hope that-but doubt whether-ethical principles and liberal thought will triumph tonight over the lazy minds and disengaged consciences that make Labour's Whips Office look so ridiculous and our Parliament so unprincipled."

Larry Kestenbaum using the occasion of a relatively minor computer problem to provide us with a reminder of an anniversary that people should think about when entrusting their process to computers.

It's pretty much what you'd expect from Sean Hannity's dating service, but I'm grateful to let TBogg tell me first. But check out what left even our Mr. Bogg speechless.

Semidi has some infuriating Corporate Welfare. and Extortion for you. My god, the graft and corruption overshadows anything I have seen before.

Dave at Above the Fray on a bunch of prigs and the big lie - but he's wrong about the first Big Lie of the Bush administration. If you don't count bringing honor and dignity to the White House, or being a uniter not a divider, you still have to reckon with the idea that trying to get the ballots counted is "stealing an election".

Pataki and the Governator look at the "Clear Skies" plan, or, "Excuse me, Mr. President, but our major cities appear to be drowning in toxic crap pits."

God's ex-Boyfriend has a good rant on some local criminal activity among white "Christian" suburban kids.
20:38 GMT

Best of the NYT

Let's face it, what you really need to read in The New York Times is right here:

Paul Krugman on the shape of smears to come: The slime campaign has begun against AARP, which opposes Social Security privatization. There's no hard evidence that the people involved - some of them also responsible for the "Swift Boat" election smear - are taking orders from the White House. So you're free to believe that this is an independent venture. You're also free to believe in the tooth fairy.

Thrown to the Wolves - Bob Herbert's interview with Maher Arar: If John Ashcroft was right, then I was staring into the malevolent, duplicitous eyes of pure evil, the eyes of a man with the mass murder of Americans on his mind. But all I could really see was a polite, unassuming, neatly dressed guy who looked like a suburban Little League coach.
17:55 GMT

The further adventures of wimmin

Ilyka Damen says she is too lazy rushed for time, so she can't get it together to do that round-up post on some female bloggers. I figured I'd skip the right-blogosphere women on the grounds that they get their info and talking points from the same place the boys do, so I went straight for the good stuff she listed:

Vanessa at Feministing has a good recent post on the mad Kansas prosecutor who is demanding the medical records of women who've had abortions.

One Good Thing's American Dream post is a wonderful tribute to two men.

Pinko Feminist Hellcat's Passing the buck, American style is on the same page with me: Don't tell me this crap didn't come from on high, don't tell me that some BS training program will make things all better. They won't. Not when investigators want prisoners "softened up", when you have the likes of civil libertarians like Alan Dershowitz claiming that maybe torture isn't so bad, oh, hell, when you have people actually debating the wisdom and merits of torturing prisoners.

I picked this post from Plum Crazy just because I haven't gotten around to saying anything about Arlen Specter's recent attempt to plead for sanity over the "nuclear option" threat in the Senate. Really, it's kind of sad watching these last faint whimpers of conscience and sense in the "moderate" wing of the insane party.

Rox Populi has a sad commentary on the state of things in Trouble for Negroponte. Yeah, don't we all wish.

Trish Wilson has an amusing look at media guys dissing bloggers.

Chloe at Watermelon Punch has snow pictures, so you know I had a good time there.

Ilyka listed The Sideshow, too, but you'll have to pick your own, although, frankly, you should all be ashamed for not having linked Organizing Principles when I originally posted it back in December. (Well, obviously, not all of you, since Digby linked it and inspired a few other people to do so, too.) But now I've given it its own page at the Annex, so now you can rectify your error.
15:17 GMT


South Knox Bubba: A new book by the author of "Unfit for Command" claims Democrats are paid stooges giving aid and comfort to Iranian terrorists seeking nukes. Allrighty then. As a Biden aid said, "Who is Corsi's co-author this time -- Jeff Gannon?" The book will be published by Cumberland House Publishing in Nashville. It must be pretty bad if even Regnery won't touch it.

Freeway Blogger To Post 150 Signs On Bay Area Freeways - Free Speech Action To Mark 1500Th U.S. Soldier Killed In Iraq.

Talk Left: Is Texas about to execute an innocent man? Pablo Melendez, Jr. is scheduled for execution March 14. Even the victim's mother thinks he is innocent.

Jeffrey Dubner at Tapped: THE REAL USA NEXT AGENDA! Somebody may have already asked this question, but how long will USA Next be allowed to push its secret homosexual agenda on America's seniors? As a 501(c)(4), the United Seniors Association is able to keep its funders a mystery -- but one of its few known funders is Pfizer, one of only 56 corporations receiving a perfect score from Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index last year (and proud of it). That's right: USA Next is promoting benefits for same-sex domestic partners and the rest of the subversive pansexual program.

Nathan Newman has a good example of how companies resist unions. Nathan also recommends this piece about Wal-Mart from Timothy Noah.

Mac Thomason: Religious groups fight monument displays - These blasphemers dare question the holy Granite Calf and its spawn? A pox on you, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, the Hindu American Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League! (That reminds me, why do you think Mac has me listed as a "foreigner"?)

I always forget that Ken Layne does something beside blogging.
12:56 GMT

On the blog

I didn't realize this was here: Nieman Watchdog, apparently another Dan Froomkin project, subtitled "Questions the press should ask." There's a series of questions on hunger in America, like this: "News organizations should directly ask the heads of private charities, including those that are faith-based, what they think are the solutions to hunger and poverty in America." And Jamin Raskin feels the press is giving Novak a free ride, so he's got a whole bunch of questions.

If you've read FAC's books, you already know that I've been watching the way the right-wing has been acting against women's liberation all along. So now it occurs to me that, for those people, Iraq has been an unqualified success.

Of course, if they really had wanted to give Iraq a chance for real freedom, there are some people who would never have been allowed in there.

The Little Red Blogger is actually talking about British politics. I don't like the red text, though. And I'm wondering why suddenly so many people are using that same template. C'mon, folks, let's have some more variety. (However, I agree.)

Did you hear the one about the Kansas Prosecutor who is demanding the medical records of teenage girls who've had abortions, claiming he needs them to prosecute child rape? Atrios wonders why he isn't also trying to subpoena maternity ward records and records at STD clinics (since all sex partners of minors are criminalized, regardless of their own ages or which sex they are).
01:50 GMT

Friday, 25 February 2005

In these Fortean times

Some people don't get the joke about Fortean Times, but to me it's fascinating that people believe they see the Blessed Virgin Mary in their breakfast (known as "BVM sightings") or assume that crop circles are made by aliens or whatever. But we all have our little Fortean experiences, and in some ways I suppose it makes sense that some people interpret them in these ways rather than, well, the way the rest of us do.

When I was much younger I used to have these nightmares sometimes. I eventually mentioned them to my doctor and she told me to quit sleeping on my back, and they mostly went away after that.

In the meantime, though, I had some bloody horrendous nightmares. No one was ever surprised when I said I had nightmares, because certain circumstances of my life were what most people would consider nightmarish anyway, and my rotten dreams often followed a pattern that seemed etched in the pattern of my life. For example, I had a series of dreams in which, for some reason, everybody else was either already identical or being made identical by some evil force, and since I wasn't like them I was being chased by people who either wanted to make me like them or just wanted to catch me because I wasn't one of them.

And some of these dreams involved aliens, or being on alien worlds, and in the way of alien-related dreams of that period, the aliens were wearing 1950s clothes and driving 1950s cars and even flying in WWII airplanes. In other words, they duplicated the pattern of the sf movies we'd grown up seeing on TV.

Those of you who know Tom Monteleone may know that once upon a time, he was someone who claimed to have had an alien encounter. It had started out as a prank call to a radio show that was talking about UFO encounters, and he ended up doing the charade for a while. The UFO people were quite excited about him because he was a college boy rather than a rube. But the thing is, Tom just made up a story of what the aliens were like, and they had these 1950s clothes and stuff. And they figured he must be for real because, it turned out, that was consistent with other people's UFO encounters. (Tom eventually started making up other stories for money, and wrote a play about his time as a fake UFO victim, as well).

And then different kinds of movies came out, and then aliens started to be thin and grey with big dark eyes.

Anyway, I still sometimes wake suddenly from a nightmare because I've somehow rolled onto my back, and of course I'm paralyzed for several minutes. But unlike Mike the Corpuscle, I don't like scary movies, and I really want to be able to move again, because in those moments I'm still way too close to my nightmares.
20:43 GMT

Lance Mannion says some stuff

As you may already be aware, Congressman Maurice Hinchey of New York - well, let's let one of his constituents tell it:

Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey was speaking about Social Security before a roomful of constituents in Ithaca, NY the other night and in the course of the discussion, one thing leading to another, he happened to mention that he believes that Karl Rove had a hand in bringing down Dan Rather.

Hinchey was talking about the ways the White House attempts, usually successfully, to cow and browbeat and manipulate and deceive the media.

"Probably the most flagrant example of that is the way they set up Dan Rather," [he said.]

"Now, I mean, I have my own beliefs about how that happened: It originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House ... . Once they did that, then it undermined everything else about Bush's draft dodging. . That had the effect of taking the whole issue away."

From any reasonable person's point of view, this is hardly hot stuff. Those damn memos had to come from somewhere, and it's weird to me that we still don't know where. Why not Karl Rove? He has a long history of playing dirty. I happen to think that the likelier explanation is that some well-meaning person who'd seen the originals made copies from memory and that the story is just another lesson in journalistic hubris. But who knows? Maybe the memos were part of some elaborate scheme and scheming is what Rove gets paid to do.

Naturally, the right-wing blogosphere went crazy and deluged the media and Hinchey's office with a barrage of ferocity, with the result that he ended up explaining himself to Judy Woodruff - and doing a great job, I might add.

And after writing about all this, Lance Mannion noticed he'd been linked on the right-blogosphere himself, and that leads him to ask a question of the right-wingers:

Now let me ask you. Why does this have you all so riled up? Do you really think this is a scurrilous affront to Karl Rove's integrity and reputation? What is it you think he's paid to do? The man apprenticed with Lee Atwater, after all, and Atwater made no bones about what he was up to. If Rove wasn't behind this one, and I don't think he was, he's been behind plenty of similar tricks.
Well, they can't admit Rove was behind it, because that way lies another meme on the left-side blogosphere, which is why Rove has to poison the messenger: because if he doesn't taint the messenger, he can't taint the message as easily. And he wants to taint the message because it's true.

Anyway, my favorite quote from that article goes like this:

Like I said, I don't read the wingnut blogs. But I got a taste of them yesterday through a Technorati search. Type in Hinchey Rove and you get page after page of wingnuttery, all of it saying exactly the same thing. I mean exactly. I know we can get repetitive here on the left, but we don't retype each other's posts, word for word, over and over, as if they were copybook exercises or samplers we were stitching.

And is their only rhetorical tool calling the people they disagree with "moonbat crazy?"

Yes, it's true: We don't get our daily instructions from the DNC, we have to do our own thinking. Which is okay, because that's why we're Democrats in the first place.

Which brings us to a more recent post Lance did about the Koufax Award winners, which is fairly amusing (and I do congratulate the winners, every one of whom deserves it - but then so do the ones who didn't win), in which he also addresses Kevin Drum's recent bout of female trouble and idly suggests that maybe Kevin was being faux-dumb just as an excuse to raise the subject. Who knows, maybe he was - maybe he just needed a reason to list a bunch of female bloggers again.

Which is cool with me - sure helps the old hit-counter, don't it? And, by the way, introduces us all to a whole slew of new (and often very, very good!) weblogs. And it got Kevin off his hiney to figure out how to add me to his blogroll. And it also resulted in Tapped getting rid of Instahack and adding me and Susie and Barbara.

And yes, Lance, you are right that The Sideshow has been turning into little more than a link-farm lately because I haven't done much writing, and I apologize to all my loyal readers for their forbearance while I am in my current state of mental hibernation. It's partly a result of the fact that I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the news. I mean, the whole torture-Negroponte-etc. business just leaves me speechless. What can you possibly say once these things are even on the table? "Torture? I'm against it. Why do you ask?"

Every single day, every time I am starting to write something in my head about the first administration outrage I heard about today, I hear about another one, and then another one, and then I feel like I'm drowning and can't seem to focus. That makes it really easy to just link to whatever Digby or Atrios or whoever had to say about things, instead. This situation may continue until I get my breath back, but in the meantime, I do want to call those good links to your attention.
15:29 GMT

Stuff to check out

The Whiskey Bar is open and hitting it, baby, with a couple-few posters and something more.

Ezra and I had the same thought.

Zhakora says Bush did something no one else had managed to do: "make me embarrassed to be an American." Just a little bit radioactive....

Brendan Nyhan (at his own blog these days) called Chris Cox's office to see if he really did say that thing. Well, he really did.

Democratic leadership joins call for Gannon inquiry; Whip calls on members to join push - from John Byrne at Raw Story, via The Daou Report.

Rappers and Bloggers: Separated at birth! is a silly article but at least it had lots of links to some of our friends (and some people who should never be linked, of course). Via Shakespeare's Sister.
02:03 GMT

Thursday, 24 February 2005

Notes from the Interweb thing

Here is Ursula LeGuin's thank-you note to all the people who wrote to express their outrage at the mess the Sci-Fi Channel made of Earthsea, and in Locus she has Frankenstein's Earthsea. (via)

The Mahablog has been covering the little prince's royal visit to Europe with Bush in Continent (I love that), Freedom's Just Another Word ..., and Bush Is Number One!, all well worth reading. (Janet Daley is another one of those ex-far-left radicals who has since become a revolting right-winger and person on my Yuck List.)

Via The Funny Farm I learn that the Vatican University has classes in Satanism.

Jesse notes a creepy-sounding new Republican strategy on judicial nominees: The Democrats' issue is that the nominees are unacceptable. The Republicans' issue is that they don't care what Democrats think, and are pissed that Senate rules allow Democrats to block nominees. They want to change the rules in the middle of the game, but know that doing so will backfire on them. Therefore, they pass other rule changes that add more process, declare that the process is exhausted, and change the process...all the while pretending filibustering was, for whatever reason, never a part of the process.

Time to Joogle again.
17:20 GMT

Note to Congressional Dems: Quit yer sulking

Thomas Nephew has a round-up on the AARP story (and has posted the ad, if you haven't seen it yet). (Also, check out Newsrack on Walmart and child labor.)

A weblog I don't think I've seen before, The Broad View, has an article on the subject with the on-point title They Want Our Parents to Die, addressing David Brooks' really disgusting article suggesting that old people are stealing their own Social Security money from their weak and helpless offspring (who they have obviously never done anything for). It's downright sick.

Here's What's Left has its own suspicions and response.

Steve Soto says the Dems don't really have it together yet against the RNC's attack on AARP because they're still miffed over AARP's cave-in over the prescription drug benefit plan. He has some advice for them:

Democrats need to simply ask what does gay marriage have to do with the AARP and saving Social Security. Simply ask what moral values are on display when a front group for the White House and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries challenges the patriotism of the AARP using once again fears of gay marriages? If the USA Next and Rove want to make this a moral values discussion, then let's push back and give them one. Let's argue the moral values behind this smear. If Rove wants to marginalize the AARP and establish some legitimacy for the USA Next as a center-right alternative, then it is up to the AARP and even the Democrats to expose and shine a light on USA Next and to question what and who exactly is represented by USA Next and their smear campaign. And it is the Democrats' job to tie this whole sorry effort to the White House by asking how Christian it is for the GOP and its pharmaceutical and insurance industry allies to use smears against the AARP in trying to blow up a seniors' safety net for private gain.
Yes, AARP were jerks to support the appalling giveaway to Big Pharma two years ago, but that was then and this is now, and joining up for a big push-back isn't just morally the right thing to do, it's good politics. Write to your Dem reps and tell them to quit fooling around.

One article that Steve mentions in that post is Journalistic Malpractice, in which Robert J. Samuelson says journalists have done a bad job of clarifying the numbers. The trouble is that Samuelson isn't so good himself, as Jesse Taylor points out in The Blind Criticizing The Blind's Fashion Sense.
14:48 GMT

What's out there

Instead of red and blue states, how about Homer States and Lisa States.

Jonathan Dresner on Pipes' Privateers

Dan Gillmor recommends this article defending citizen journalism.

Something rather startling from Jeffrey Dubner at Tapped: Importing from Canada is so 2004. What'll be this year's hot prescription-drug craze? Appropriating drug patents under eminent domain laws, writes Barbara T. Dreyfuss, something already under consideration in West Virginia and Washington, DC.

Hugo alerts us not only to the latest list of the most challenged books of 2004 from the ALA, but to Captain Underpants, and you can even see the video.

Joe Hagan at The New York Observer says CBS News' Boss Hired Private Eye To Source Memos - except instead they just got a lot of personal crap on the production team instead.
12:56 GMT

Where Martin Smith is

Click for larger image.

He had been enchanted with this spot in the Malverne Hills, so his mother and brother took his ashes to be scattered among the bluebells, and when they were in bloom they took this picture and sent us copies. I can see why he loved it.

Today would have been his 42nd birthday.
02:26 GMT

Your campaign ad

Just in case anyone didn't believe it, here's the video of the College Republicans shouting, "Hey hey! Ho ho! Social Security's got to go!" Josh Marshall calls them the Young Republican Phase-Out Singers. Chris Bowers saw it in person:

Second, I'd like to talk a little about the Santorum Social security event that I attended today. It was quite eventful and well attended, although I am pretty sure it was well attended because around six or seven different activist organizations had turned out in force. Outside the hall before the event, Philly DFA began chanting "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Rick Santorum has got to go!" Local college Republicans, who are just about the only Republicans in West Philly, responded with a chant that beautifully was captured live by CNN: "hey-hey, ho-ho, Social Security has got to go!" I love it when the other side does your campaigning for you!
Play that for anyone you know who doesn't believe that this is what the Republicans are really after.
00:41 GMT

Wednesday, 23 February 2005

Points of interest

After my creebing and a lot of seconding in the comment section, Kevin Drum has added me to his blogroll. (Not that it matters, since the blogroll at Political Animal is a roll-down at the bottom of the page that no one ever notices. It was just the principle of the thing.) Best comment on the whole subject is here.

It's a good day to read Bad Attitudes, about Republican liars, Ecstatic Soldiers, American Fascism, and a lot of other stuff.

This Space for Rent has a couple of neat photos (like this one), and some other stuff, and a link to Which Dyke of 'Dykes To Watch Out For' are you most like? And you might as well read about the anti-AARP ad there if you haven't seen it already.

Ted Rall on The redistribution of wealth.
19:46 GMT


"Here's an interesting exercise," says Ahistoricality. "Compare two independently produced lists of underreported stories for the past year. I've condensed a few stories together, and the summary language is my own (I've tried to be fair, but who knows?).

Oooh, Chris Nolan really didn't like that post from Kevin Drum. I gotta agree with her about Wonkette, though.

Dan Gillmor: A Biased Headline Twists a Story - It's really about the industry's attack on fair use, but the headline says it's about "piracy".
15:51 GMT

Some sleepy blogging

When Democracy Failed - Thom Hartmann notes that this weekend marks the 72nd anniversary of the last time this happened. It wasn't pretty. But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted. [...] "You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion.

Okay, xymphora has managed to find a connection between Gannon and 9/11. We got...Paranoia Files!

Rittenhouse Review examines one of the lunatics running the asylum: Midge Decter. God, I can't stand that woman!

I would feel real trapped in this life if I didn't know I could commit suicide at any time - Ralph Steadman's obit for HST, via Monkey Media Report.

Tom Tomorrow: Ann "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building" Coulter disses Ted Rall for--I kid you not--"(just doing) things to upset people so his name will get in the paper." A perfect example of the technique described in the final panel of this week's cartoon. Via Skippy.

Michael Bérubé's International leftist network exposed! is my favorite take on the latest hot Horowitz news.

Propaganda - it's illegal, you know.

The Public Health Press Doggerel and Pony Show

Dan Wasserman, via Scoobie Davis.
03:42 GMT

Tuesday, 22 February 2005

The practice of real journalism

Suburban Guerrilla:

Today I'm going to do something a little bit like journalism, except I haven't done any real follow-up. Still, it's an important issue, and I'd like any Google maestros reading to help.

Go to your local newspaper site, or TV station site, and do a search for "local man woman killed wounded Iraq". Weed out the duplicates, total the numbers, and then check them against the casualty lists, because there's something funny going on here.

I started to notice something several months ago. The local papers would interview the mother of someone killed or wounded in Iraq, and more often than not, there'd be a bitter aside: "Of course, for some reason, he's not included in the official totals."

Somehow, that struck a chord. And the thought crystallized: They're lying about the numbers. Think about it - it's absurd to think they wouldn't, considering everything else they've done.

So I started reading. Here's what I've found.

Go look at what she found, it will really tick you off.
23:01 GMT

Thoughts and words and pictures

It was time for a bra of the week. I admit, I've been a little gloomy, I need more stuff to cheer me up. It's stupid, since I don't really pay attention to these things and I don't put much effort into hyping myself (and there are lots of good weblogs out there on the liberal side these days), but I was bummed out that I didn't even make the finals for the Koufax awards. And then I noticed that on the Blog Influence Quotient, where I've been at #69 or thereabouts for a long time, I've suddenly dropped completely out of the top 100. I know it's because of moving hosts (and I really wish Eric would fix that link), but it still bums me out. And then Kevin did that silly post about women bloggers, and it just made me grumpy. But the bra is cute, even though it doesn't come in my size.

Anyway, here's some stuff you might want to check out:

Susie Bright knew Hunter.

Jeralyn knew Hunter, and says he was a mensch. (Also at TalkLeft: models at The Last Supper and banned love and breasts.)

Maddy Kane is Fuming at Hume for spreading blatant falsehoods about FDR's intentions for Social Security.

Dwight Meredith on the alleged boycott of the French.

Peter Daou (who we already know from The Daou Report) is now doing a weblog for discussion of UN-related topics, UN Dispatch.

Two mouths shaped laughter. (From Liege-Killer by Christopher Hinz. Don't ask.)

Persistent Saturnian Auroras
15:00 GMT

Finding the words

Maybe Americans have a warped idea of how Europeans view the Israel-Palestinian situation because they are so used to seeing stories slanted one way. Over here, we see the atrocities on both sides, so we don't simply take for granted that the Palestinians are always wrong and whatever the Israeli government does is always justified.

Skippy quite rightly warns that the source is suspect, but still, wouldn't it just be somethin' if it's true that Bush has banned Camilla from the White House because she's been divorced?

Jesse at Pandagon takes Rich Lowry apart for some really stupid comments on the Plame affair.

DC's Inside Scoop has noticed that Laura Bush's speech to AARP from last October is mysteriously missing from the White House website, although all of her other speeches are there. Via The Daou Report.

Susan has reminded me that one of the many tragedies of the re-emergence of conservative repression is that it is still not possible to hear on the radio or on television some of the most powerful writing of one of our most powerful writers. Thank god they haven't managed to censor the Internet that way, yet. And also, thank god for The Rude Pundit, who is thankfully still with us.
03:54 GMT

Stuff I saw

At Common Dreams, When John Negroponte Was Mullah Omar: Bush's pick for director of national intelligence once oversaw an Afghan-style sanctuary for terrorists every bit as nasty as Osama and al Qaeda.

The Real American Taliban: Yes, the Taliban are among us and they're not Muslim, they're not from Afghanistan but they are Editing Jefferson.

Nathan Newman and Belle Waring and Atrios are disagreeing about eminent domain. I'm going to have to read these twice because I thought I knew what I thought of this issue and now I'm not as sure.

A Tiny Revolution has the best illo to accompany the story of Chris Cox's remarkable statement. Like I was saying, the Republicans elect their loony fringe. I've heard people talking all day about the fact that once people become invested in believing in George Bush, they just can't hear any facts that might get in the way. So when a member of Congress is saying that we "continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and the facilities to make them inside of Iraq," God only knows if he believes it, but the other believers sure do.

Flamingo Jones at The American Street talks about the overlooked obituary of Robert R. Merhige, Jr., a judge whose life we should remember for his brave and important decisions.

When I first moved to Britain I noticed that there was a tendency to adopt stupid American ideas considerably faster than good American ideas. In fact, it was almost guaranteed that if America came up with something unconscionably stupid, Britain would be adopting it within the year. And now, more American stupidity has settled in for the duration, it seems.

They know where to go. Via Evil Genius Chronicles.
01:18 GMT

Monday, 21 February 2005


Boy, there's no question on what the big story of the day is - I was just sitting here watching a news feature on TV with Steadman swearing at HST for killing himself, and checking Memeorandum I see that everyone, on both sides of the blogosphere, is talking about the loss of the great maniac. Here, here, here, here, here, and here are the different stories, each with several bloggers linking, about the sad event. Thompson, much like Zappa, seems to be claimed by liberals and libertarians alike, an inspiration for a lifetime, and a great loss to us all. (Steadman says he's not surprised that Thompson took that door, because he'd always said it's what he'd do when it got to be a trap, and recent injuries and limits to his mobility had made it just that.)

Anyway, you have to scroll past five stories to get to something else, and it's the ancient Bush tapes in which we learn that Governor Bush was strategerizing about how to answer questions about his drug use way back when, and that he didn't want to go after gays but his extremist "Christian" base was pretty serious about it. And he's the first Republican I've ever seen admit that Dan Quayle was no Robert Redford: "Dan Quayle, gosh, he's ugly. He's gone ugly on me, man." Some people say the man who secretly taped Bush is a creep for bringing this stuff out; I say it's mighty convenient that it comes out just at the moment when yet another White House scandal is generating calls for investigation. Nothing on those tapes hurts Bush, but the Gannon thing and continually emerging exposure on torture and on 9/11 have not been covering him with glory lately. Gosh, isn't Bush an amazingly lucky guy?

The right-blogosphere is of course deeply interested in the story about a UN official quitting amidst a sexual harassment scandal, as if this somehow tells you something about the UN as a whole. Sure, and they've always felt that the Republican Party should disband because Clarence Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill, too.

Howard Kurtz sees the challenge of weblogs as something to invigorate the mainstream media if they only figure out how to cope. The right-blogosphere doesn't seem to have much objection to this view, but here's something no one is saying: While right-wingers may complain that the WaPo and the NYT are too liberal, it is also true that liberals complain that they are too conservative. Given that those two papers are in two of the most liberal cities in America and have declined in readership as they have tacked right, is it just possible that maybe they are too conservative? DC was 75% black the last time I looked, and the surrounding white suburbs tend to vote like liberals as well. Why would they want to read a paper that still can't bring itself to admit that the lying bastards in the White House are lying bastards? Maybe they're losing readership because they are out of touch with their liberal communities.

But one national issue of true importance is on the editorial page at The Washington Post, and of course only TalkLeft and Kos thought it worth discussing: Injustice, in Secret, on the administration's continuing attempts to prevent an American citizen from being able to confront his accusers in court. "Ahmed Abu Ali was arrested in June 2003 in Saudi Arabia. He and his family claim the arrest took place at the behest of U.S. officials who, though unable to bring a case against him, have encouraged the Saudis to keep him locked up." The United States is arguing that even the arguments for keeping him locked up should be secret. This is scary stuff. Members of the allegedly libertarian right who railed against Clinton's purported failure to respect Constitutional rights have little to say about things like this. Of course.
21:03 GMT

Your happenin' world

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest looks at a recent story on the presence of lead in our environment and its potentially causative effect on criminal behavior, and then asks the question: "WHY is there so much lead in our environment?" This story from The Nation tells us it never should have been there.

Been to Frameshop lately? Current bits of RNC under the microscope include Bush's use of the phrase, "It makes sense," and the GOP's use of the term "rebel" to describe Howard Dean.

NewsHog has a pretty depressing take on the "peaceful uprising" in Lebanon and points out that the media has missed the story behind the story.

I was going to look for something to use for the much-delayed Bra of the Week series but then I saw this and decided that would do for our quota of soft-core for the day. Via Wage Slave Journal.

Redneck Feminist finds right-wing political correctness and victimhood, and also learns to love The Vagina Monologues. Via Ampersand.

Swiftboatload against AARP. Via An Age Like This, which says: Some of the retards behind the Swift Boat Traitors are up to new dirty tricks: going after that noted socialistic communistic liberal Bush-hating organization the AARP. What a surprise.
19:33 GMT

And remember

Walk tall, kick ass, learn to speak Arabic, love music and never forget that you come from a long line of truth-seekers, lovers + warriors.
Rox Populi, The Good Doctor is Out: A Hunter S. Thompson Random Reader. My favorites so far: Rest In Peace You Brilliant Goddamned Beast by (of course) Digby, and Giblets' Hunter Thompson Is Not Dead. Patriotboy has some good quotes. Blogcritics has a fitting tribute.

And William Rivers Pitt mourns his hero.
18:25 GMT


The Mahablog examines the myth that their side has more big-idea intellectuals than our side (or something like that), and wonders about the curious conjunction of Martin Peretz and a right-wing shill from a fake women's organization suddenly voicing the same thoughts.

Via PNH's sidelights, What Might Have Been - the better president we could have had in 1972. "I was not a McGovern supporter [in 1972], and I was not against him then, but I think almost everyone now recognizes that George was right" about Vietnam, Duffett says.

I apparently linked Superman is a Dick just in time for the site to go dark. It's now at a new host and called Superdickery, and that delightful team-up I mentioned before is here.

I'm pretty sure I've linked this article before, but I don't want anyone forgetting: Notably, Mitofsky and Edison unsuccessfully try to explain away the fact that, according to their data, only in precincts that used old-fashioned, hand-counted paper ballots did the official count and the exit polls fall within the normal sampling margin of error.

Another weblog that's too new for me to have much to say about, but I like the way its name commemorates something anyone could have predicted (and many people did): Nobody Could Have Predicted...

Via The Daou Report:
Max Blumenthal with a reminder that the right-wingers elect their fringe loonies, in Tancredo's Latest Bill: A White Nationalist Subterfuge?
Dadahead on the RNC's continuing problems with projection and racism.
Entertaining photo essay at BottleOfBlog: American President Warmly Greeted; Bush, Sr., Also There.
16:07 GMT

A few good links

The wisdom of Bartcop: Funny, Clinton's first two nominees for Attorney General were shot down because they didn't pay taxes on their nannies, but you can be a soulless, heartless, murdering scumbag and sail right thru the process.

John Negreponte knows a lot about terrorism (via), via Bartcop.

Mark of the Beast files: Why is controversial columnist out in Pella? For all the hype about the so-called liberal press, one growing reality in an era of media consolidation is that there are fewer outlets for viewpoints critical of the administration.

And also via Bart, listen to Cassie Berns, the daughter of Bert Berns, who co-wrote "Piece of My Heart" with Jerry Ragovy, and also wrote or co-wrote "Twist and Shout," "Under the Boardwalk," and Brown Eyed Girl".


The Rude Pundit: The reason Gannon/Guckert matters is because this administration has mainstreamed evil, has made it a dull hum in the background.

The most disliked opposition candidates in history.

Learning about conservatives.

This weblog is too new for me to have an opinion on yet.
13:57 GMT

HST, 1939-2005

There's just nothing I can say.

Author Hunter S. Thompson kills himself

ASPEN, Colo. - Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counterculture writer who popularized a new form of journalism in books like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself Sunday night at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67.

ESPN HST Archive

Paris Review interview, Part I and Part II, in Salon.

More links

Update: Maureen Farrell's Hunter S. Thompson, George W. Bush and the Free Republic from last June.
04:57 GMT

Walkin' the blog

From Maru

This is the post you have to read if you haven't already. It's from Riverbend, and it's about what we've done.

Michael Moran on why right-wing bloggers should be ashamed of what they did to Eason Jordan. Via Daryl McCullough, who also discusses Alan Greenspan, Villain and why we have to try again on healthcare.

Is the CIA watching Mikey?

Jean-Paul is roused from his slumber by "the political dickishness of Mickey Kaus."

If "Fully 60%, including one-fourth of Republicans, say Democrats in Congress should make sure Bush and his party 'don't go too far'," how the hell did Bush get re-elected? (OK, we all know....)

There's an election coming - think about it.

Hm, maybe blogs are replacing Big Media after all! (And give a read to "Yawning at the Needy", too.)

James Wolcott says Michael Medved Is an Idiot. He's right.

Republicans And Their Gay Underworld
02:53 GMT

A few good links

Now that you can't sue the drug companies anymore, there's no reason to pull bad drugs off the market.

The wealth transfer scheme by Geov Parrish: More honest conservatives, like Grover Norquist or the Wall Street Journal's editorial page editors, are jubilant over the Bush approach. Bush has used enormous tax cuts, primarily directed toward the wealthy, an expanded federal bureaucracy, largely devoted to corporate welfare, and the costs of post-9-11 militarism, primarily benefiting Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, and other military contractors, to drive up the federal deficit. He is then trying to alleviate that deficit by reducing programs that don't primarily benefit the wealthy: education, health care, housing, environmental protection.

The blog squad can add another notch to its belt: Much of the criticism of Jordan came from angry bloggers, and Jordan and his bosses at CNN caved in faster than you can say "Chicken Little."

If you happened to hit Body and Soul while it was messed up, don't worry, it's back now. Go read about Big gay jpegs: And anyway, hypocrisy isn't the problem here. What's the point -- that Bush suggests to his base that he'll destroy the evil gay people, but isn't really zealous in doing so? You talk about hypocrisy when people are claiming to do something good and not doing it. You run into problems when you slam them for not being as bigoted as they claim to be.

A Who's Who Of Who Sucks, by David Podvin: The United States Senate is a place where those who can't tell the difference between right and wrong perpetrate evil with the complicity of those who can. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy can certainly tell the difference, but like his Democratic colleagues he doesn't allow that ability to affect his behavior.

Yglesias: Let me second Ed Kilgore's praise for the Count Every Vote Act as well as his sentiment that for this to go forward, "Democrats need to go to considerable lengths to establish that this issue is not just about Democratic complaints concerning the outcome of the last two presidential elections, and that supporting election reform does not mean endorsing the views of those who believe the whole system has been completely rigged" in order that the proposal might be taken seriously. I don't, however, share his optimism that "given the broad popularity of most of the election reforms contained in the new proposal, there is actually a fair chance that some if not most Republicans can be coerced, shamed or otherwise stampeded into going along."

You gotta see the clips from Bill Maher on Gannon over at One Good Move.
00:56 GMT

Sunday, 20 February 2005

Stuff I saw

Reggie Rivers at The Denver Post, Blame America? When necessary, yes
Partisanship has denuded the political landscape of meaningful debate to the point that anyone who criticizes President Bush's policies is presumed to be a Democrat who is still angry about the outcome of the election.

Michael Kinsley doesn't get it. The people who received sensitive information about Valerie Plame were parties to a crime. This isn't about protecting sources. These people weren't whistle-blowers, they were specifically giving them this information to hurt Joe Wilson, not to inform the public. They burned a CIA operative because they wanted to help the White House hide the fact that it had lied to the American public. A lot of journalists have been hurt by these same people and the NYT and WaPo and Michael Kinsley have been silent, but suddenly it's Judy Miller and Matthew Cooper and the Newspapers of Record care about protecting journalists. Well, too late. You weren't there when they put Vanessa Leggett in jail for no reason, were you? And you haven't been screaming about the way this administration has punished whistle-blowers who were really trying to expose criminal wrong-doing. The only sources you care to protect are the criminals in the White House. There's something wrong with that.

Even the moderate Kevin Drum says the idea of a national sales tax is batshit insane. He's right, of course. On the other hand, I'm staring you right in the face, Kevin, and even though you've said you read me every day you don't have me on your blogroll. It's things like this that make me tear out my hair when people wonder why women are underrepresented in the top-rated weblogs, or journalists, or whatever. TAPPED still has the egregious Instapundit on their blogroll, but they still don't have me. They already have Ezra Klein's weblog, which is brand-new, but they don't have the excellent Mahablog and Suburban Guerilla. There's a reason why I called my first fanzine The Invisible Fan.

Digby has more revelations about the spectacularly disgusting press corps.
23:12 GMT

Media moments

Okrent is talking about feedback, but not in a way that makes me feel all that much more optimistic about the way the NYT handles reader complaints.

The Observer leader discusses the failures of the US mainstream media and asks a question:

On the internet, the mainstream media is derided and scorned. One question is dominating US newsrooms and television studios: ignored, scandalised and now corrupted, just what is America's mainstream media for anymore?
Dave Lindorff at the International Labor Communications Association has another question: Where Are All the Resignations of Editors Who Ran Bush Propaganda?
When CBS goofed up, people were fired and quit in disgrace. But when dozens, maybe hundreds of news outfits run Bush administration-made propaganda posing as legitimate news reports, nobody has to resign. What gives here?
It all makes one wonder again whether weblogs or other independent, unpaid writers like you and me could replace these Stenographers to Power. And I still say no, not really, because unless our readers hit the tip jars a lot heavier than they've been doing, I doubt many of us could afford to do the job. But the White House press corps has certainly shown itself to be pretty weak on that job an awful lot of the time.

So, I'll continue to hector you to write to them and call them up when they print things that aren't true, or omit important stories.

The biggest question they have to hear, over and over, is: Where is the other side? And I don't mean just any old random "other side" that comes from Mars, but the real other side. It's not just that Judith Miller was telling us things that made no sense, it's that there were a lot of credible people we never heard from who insisted that the pro-invasion story on Iraq made no sense; why didn't we hear from them? It's not just that Democrats didn't like the way the election turned out, it's that there is a lot of very credible, documented evidence that one party had a deliberate program to suppress voter turn-out, and the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming that something was seriously wrong with the 2004 election (at the very least); why didn't the NYT and most other major media players do more than dismiss the story? It's not just that the Bush administration is trying to sell its privatization program, it's that they've been lying about what it will do, and almost no one wants them to do it because it will be a disaster; why isn't Big Media looking more seriously into what conservatives really intend for Social Security? And so on, and so on.

The only way we can get them to listen is to demand that they listen. We can't assume they are reading our favorite weblogs. We have to tell them directly what we think of what they are doing. We have to demand that they do their job. Write that letter, my friend. And then write the next one.
17:22 GMT

Saturday, 19 February 2005

Ain't we got fun?

Flame war! Michael Kinsley and Susan Estrich exchange unfriendly words. She says his editorial page has insufficient female voices. He says she is trying to blackmail him. She says his Parkinson's may be affecting his mind. What's affecting hers? Ah, the excitement is too much!

The bar is open, and Billmon has created a masterpiece.
21:08 GMT

Stops on the Infobahn

Martin Peretz vs. The American Dream. Peretz and numerous other neocons are never going to figure out that Galbraith will always be right about it because, though the grand liberal vision of the New Deal may not have a notable voice right now in American politics, the idea itself has inspired whole nations and - until George W. Bush shoe-horned his way into the White House a few years ago and disengaged our nation from the dream - it made us the envy of the world. Barbara at The Mahablog makes short work of him.

James Ridgeway says someone knew there was a threat from "something out there" and that's why the FAA wouldn't let Salman Rushdie fly on September 3rd of 2001.

Spencer Ackerman doesn't know whether pop-up militias are a messy but potentially good thing, a messy but probably bad thing, or, even worse, a sign of the Salvador Option at work. Via Unqualified Offerings.

Mark at RelentlesslyOptimistic says he was about to write a post about the latest on ChoicePoint when he saw my reminder of where else we've seen their name before, and that gave him even more thoughts on the subject.

Reptile Wisdom looks at another event of the season in Faith Without Works, and as always has some good music playing, too.
18:15 GMT

The fact-challenged

Has Ann Coulter found an example of liberal media bias? Has Alan Greenspan explained how pirate accounts solve the Social Security "crisis"? Sadly, No!
15:12 GMT

News & Views

Wednesday's Flashpoints featured an interview with Mark Manning, a reporter and filmmaker who was the only westerner in Fallujah recording events there. Within ten hours of his arrival back in the States, his hotel room and his car were simultaneously broken into and all his film and cameras (and no other valuables) were stolen. (Also interviewed Wednesday was Ward Churchill, discussing what he supposedly said to earn himself all those death threats. Part 2 of that interview is here.)

Greg Palast on Bush Tort Reform: Executive Clemency For Executive Killers: At their best, tort lawyers are cops who police civil crime. Just as a wave of burglaries leads to demand for more policemen, the massive increase in litigation has a single cause: a corporate civil crime wave. And today, the corporate killer gang received executive clemency from our President. They don't call him the 'Chief Executive' for nothing. (And 50 House Dems voted for this thing.)

Pharisee Nation by John Dear, on what happens when you actually try to discuss the Beatitudes with pro-Bush "Christians".

Leonard Pitts, Jr. asks, Do we need to define 'reporter'?: The thing is, a government that is not scrutinized by an energetic and adversarial press is a government that is not accountable for its actions. A government that is allowed to create its own reality is a government that can get away with anything. So where is our outrage?

I would also hate my flatmate or anyone else who did this. (via)
13:32 GMT

Too much truth

In The Nation, Shooting the Messenger by Jeremy Scahill:

But the real controversy here should not be over Jordan's comments. The controversy ought to be over the unconscionable silence in the United States about the military's repeated killing of journalists in Iraq.

Consider the events of April 8, 2003. Early that morning, Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayyoub was reporting from the network's Baghdad bureau. He was providing an eyewitness account of a fierce battle between US and Iraqi forces along the banks of the Tigris. As he stood on the roof of the building, a US warplane swooped in and fired a rocket at Al Jazeera's office. Ayyoub was killed instantly. US Central Command released a statement claiming, "Coalition forces came under significant enemy fire from the building where the Al-Jazeera journalists were working." No evidence was ever produced to bolster this claim. Al Jazeera, which gave the US military its coordinates weeks before the invasion began, says it received assurances a day before Ayyoub's death that the network would not be attacked.

At noon on April 8, a US Abrams tank fired at the Palestine Hotel, home and office to more than 100 unembedded international journalists operating in Baghdad at the time. The shell smashed into the fifteenth-floor Reuters office, killing two cameramen, Reuters's Taras Protsyuk and José Couso of Spain's Telecinco. The United States again claimed that its forces had come under enemy fire and were acting in self-defense. This claim was contradicted by scores of journalists who were in the hotel and by a French TV crew that filmed the attack. In its report on the incident, the Committee to Protect Journalists asserted that "Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists."

In a chilling statement at the end of that day in Iraq, then-Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke spelled out the Pentagon's policy on journalists not embedded with US troops. She warned them that Baghdad "is not a safe place. You should not be there."

Says Roger Ailes, "This Is Not America."
01:13 GMT

Friday, 18 February 2005

Blogger's notes

CJR's Blog Report has an entertaining take on the blogger-vs-mainstream media discourse, and also looks at that new ChoicePoint story about identity theft. You do remember where we first heard of ChoicePoint, right?

Josh Marshall says there may be a secret, back-stabbing faction who are secretly plotting with Republicans to support pirate accounts after all.

Bill Scher says Media, Again, Ignore Negroponte's Record - Because Dems Don't Raise It. Jesus Christ on a crutch, do they really have to be told to object to Death Squad Boy?

Avery Ant is the love child of Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly.
23:53 GMT

Stuff to read

From The New York Times:
Frank Rich, The White House Stages Its 'Daily Show': THE prayers of those hoping that real television news might take its cues from Jon Stewart were finally answered on Feb. 9, 2005. A real newsman borrowed a technique from fake news to deliver real news about fake news in prime time. Let me explain. On "Countdown," a nightly news hour on MSNBC, the anchor, Keith Olbermann, led off with a classic "Daily Show"-style bit: a rapid-fire montage of sharply edited video bites illustrating the apparent idiocy of those in Washington.

PBS Warns Stations of Risks From Profanity in War Film: PBS has warned its member stations that it cannot protect them against federal indecency sanctions if they broadcast an unedited, profanity-laced version of a documentary about a United States Army regiment in Baghdad as it faced insurgent attacks leading up to the Iraqi elections, producers of the documentary said yesterday.

Paul Krugman, Three-Card Maestro: On Wednesday Mr. Greenspan endorsed Social Security privatization. But there's a difference between 2001 and 2005. In 2001, Mr. Greenspan offered a convoluted, implausible justification for supporting everything the Bush administration wanted. This time, he offered no justification at all.

From the blogosphere:
Logical Voice: That Negroponte sure knows a lot about terrorism - Negroponte is certainly a good choice to get inside the mind of a terrorist, since as U.S. ambassador to Honduras under Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s, he reportedly collaborated with a top-secret Army death squad, ominously called Battalion 316, that kidnaped, tortured and killed hundreds of civilians there. Honduras was a key ally for the Reagan crowd in its covert "contra" effort to topple Nicaragua's leftist government. What a nice bunch of people these right wing extremists are. (via)

Since I've been kind of distracted, let me recommend Leah's post recommending some other stuff that is very much worth seeing. (And I'd say that even if I wasn't one of the things she's recommending.)
14:43 GMT

Lookin' for clues?

Check out this Peter Overby piece at NPR:

Political Puzzler: Bush Gets Fewer Repeat Donors

Politicians stand in awe of President Bush's ability to extract dollars from donors: $94.5 million in the 1999-2000 cycle, $274.2 million in 2003-04. In both campaigns, he raised expectations to levels no previous candidate had dared, and then beat them.

Now comes another number that seems to shatter the conventional wisdom.

Political scientist Michael Malbin finds that just 30 percent of Mr. Bush's donors for 2000 came back and gave again for 2004.

That's right: Among the donors who put George W. Bush in the White House, seven out of 10 decided not to help him stay there.

More than just counterintuitive, this fact is roughly the inverse of what rules of thumb and past studies would suggest.

Got that? 70% of Bush's 2000 donors didn't want to give him any more money in 2004.

Overby comes up with some vague speculation about this, but it's like everything else about this election - if you look at every indicator except the (alleged) results of the voting, you have to assume that Bush lost the election.
03:02 GMT

The real news

If those links Atrios has posted were too overloaded when you went there, try this one for that wonderful clip from The Daily Show that even mentions Kos and Atrios (and, for a big bonus, does not mention Glenn or those Powerline guys). Via Cooped Up.
01:57 GMT

Thursday, 17 February 2005

Yeah, I've been kinda busy today

MoDO using her powers for Good today, commenting on when Pravda isn't good enough.

Scorpio hoped that we could try The Texas Option, but it turns out not to be available. The answer to naked war is going to have to be naked war.

I read about stuff like this and I know in my soul that this administration probably admires and envies Stalin for having just killed lots of vets who managed to come home from the war.

David Neiwert gets to the real meat of the attacks on Ward Churchill. (Also, check out David's new book, Strawberry Days.)

Nothing in particular, but This Space for Rent entertained me recently.
17:24 GMT

Back in the tank

OK, I'm checking out the newly Salon-ated Daou Report (congratulations, sugar, and more power to ya), and I see this from Max:

Am I getting this right? The Democrats' stance on Social Security reform is to reject the private accounts, which people are suspicious of but generally like, and to join the White House in making benefit cuts. The Republicans can then say, sorry folks, we were forced to cut benefits and maybe even raise taxes to avert "crisis," and the Democrats would not agree to any accompanying, offsetting relief from private accounts. Are they out of their ever-lovin' minds?
Oh, nooooo!

And from the same post by Max, a link to more bad news from David Sirota:

Eighteen Democrats this week voted with all Republicans to restrict Americans rights to collectively file class action lawsuits. Now, I understand the Republicans voting for this - they make little effort to hide the fact that they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corporate America.

But 18 Democrats? This is a complete betrayal of the party of the middle class. Under the guise of "legal reform," this bill is nothing more than a way to protect abusive corporations from cleaning up their acts. As Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said in voting against this bill, "it limits corporate accountability at a time of rampant corporate scandals" and is "one of the most unfair, anticonsumer proposals to come before the Senate in years." If you've ever seen movies like "The Insider," "A Civil Action" or "Erin Brockovich" you know that Reid is right: often-times class actions are the only way to reign in huge companies - especially now, when so much of our politicians are bought and paid for by Big Business.

OK, we expect this sort of thing from Lieberman and Bayh (and they didn't surprise us this time, either), but like David, I find Obama's vote dismaying. Not just him, though - here are the rest: Bingaman (D-NM), Cantwell (D-WA), Carper (D-DE), Conrad (D-ND), Dodd (D-CT) Feinstein (D-CA), Johnson (D-SD), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu (D-LA), Lieberman (D-CT), Lincoln (D-AR), Nelson (D-NE), Reed (D-RI), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO). Sadly, Jeffords (I-VT) voted with the rest of the Republicans, too, and so much for the so-called "moderate" Republicans.
02:47 GMT

I can't resist

I have nothing new to say about it but Steve Clemons and Michelangelo Signorile have both been inspired by JeffJim GannonGuckert. (Thanks to Helga and to Dave Weis for the tips.)
02:11 GMT

Wednesday, 16 February 2005

A few things

Some of you may have noticed that Wampum went dark for a bit there as the popularity of the Koufax Award race overloaded their bandwidth limit. You can help.

Religious Call Bush Budget a Moral Outrage at Heart, Soul & Humor.

Nathan on Greider on State Pension Fund Power.

Bizarro World. No, not that one.
17:46 GMT

More media media

The Mahablog was paying attention to real news and then suddenly discovered that the only news the right-wing had been interested in was their continuing attack on the media. It's one of her good, thoughtful, link-rich posts that you should read, of course. One of those links goes to a post at Mercury Rising that I particularly wanted to draw your attention to:

When I saw Nicholas Lemann's column in the New Yorker, The Wayward Press. Why Everyone is Mad at the Mainstream Media, I thought that at last we might, see some honest discussion of press bias.

Imagine my surprise in discovering that Karl Rove is "Everyone."

You expect to see that kind of thing in Newsweek and Time, but in The New Yorker? Man, that's scary. Tell them why. (Be brief and polite, please!)
11:33 GMT

Tuesday, 15 February 2005


OK, I was really gonna try not to say anything more about this guy, but Rain Storm filled in some blanks for me about a little piece of history I seem to have missed, slotted as it was into that period when I was in London obsessing on local censorship stuff and didn't have one of those interweb thingies to keep me up to date with all the dirt from DC. Plus, an explanation of why big media hasn't really covered this story.

Oh, man would the Horse have loved this story! Mike the Corpuscle is on it. And you really mustn't miss The Poor Man's moment of enlightenment:

Think about it: what are the chances that a media whore like Gannon would turn out to be an actual whore? It's impossible. It boggles the mind how infinitely unlikely this is. It's like if you found someone pirating CDs, and it turns out he actually had a peg leg and a parrot on his shoulder and sailed around the Caribbean saying "arrrrrr!" and plundering booty. You wouldn't believe it. But there it is: impossible, but true. Impossible truths are miracles, and only God can work miracles. Ergo, God exists. Q.E.D.
No, there's more, go read it. And then go read No More Mister Nice Blog.
23:38 GMT


Something I saw here:

Roses are #FF0000
Violets are #0000FF
All my base
Are belong to you
And Mark's Valentine's day collection at The Biomes Blog, including some unfortunate cards and a heart-breaking cursor toy.

Elayne Riggs has a V-Day post, too, and after all that I got hungry.
20:35 GMT

Back-door draft

The Return of the Draft is the name of Tim Dickinson's article, but it feels like an understatement:

David Qualls, who joined the Arkansas National Guard for a year, is one of 40,000 troops in Iraq who have been informed that their enlistment has been extended until December 24th, 2031. "I've served five months past my one-year obligation," says Qualls, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the military with breach of contract. "It's time to let me go back to my life. It's a question of fairness, and not only for myself. This is for the thousands of other people that are involuntarily extended in Iraq. Let us go home."

In World War II, people went expecting to go for the duration of the war, but they also expected that war to end - and it did, and they came home. In Vietnam, draftees were on a two-year hitch, only one of which was spent in the 'Nam; those who had enlisted had a longer hitch, but not that much longer.

A situation in which you can be forced to serve a 26-year hitch without your consent isn't "a draft", it's slavery.
15:40 GMT

Media media: Would evil men kill journalists to suppress the truth?

God, I miss MWO.

I admit it, I'm bored with the Gannon story. (But if you're not, David E is probably the most fun to read.) It's not that it's entirely unimportant, and I'm glad to be rid of him, but it seems to me that the more important press story is still the one about how the right-wing noise machine forces members of the media out of their jobs by creating false scandals around them.

Yesterday Katherine Seelye, who I have little time for, wrote about the blogosphere's impact on Big Media and actually managed to shine a bit of light on the story:

In September, conservative bloggers exposed flaws in a report by Dan Rather; he subsequently announced that on March 9 he would step down as anchor of the "CBS Evening News." On Friday, after nearly two weeks of intensifying pressure on the Internet, Eason Jordan, the chief news executive at CNN, abruptly resigned after being besieged by the online community. Moreover, last week liberal bloggers forced a sketchily credentialed White House reporter to quit his post.

For some bloggers - people who publish the sites known as Web logs - it was a declaration that this was just the beginning. Edward Morrissey, a call center manager who lives near Minneapolis and has written extensively about the Jordan controversy, wrote on his blog, Captain's Quarters ( "The moral of the story: the media can't just cover up the truth and expect to get away with it - and journalists can't just toss around allegations without substantiation and expect people to believe them anymore."

Actually, the moral of the Rather and Jordan stories is that if right-wingers suspect even for a moment that you do not worship at the alter of right-wing group-think, they will use any meagre excuse they can inflate or invent to drive you out of the news business.

The difference between the Gannon stories and the other two is that Gannon was such an obvious shill for the White House that other members of the White House press corps should have been all over him the minute he asked his first fawning, fact-challenged question. It's bad enough having plants in campaign audiences, but when you actually have a stooge in the White House press corps, that's a media story of some magnitude in and of itself. The news there isn't that the blogosphere went after him, it's that nobody else did.

The Rather and Jordan stories are something else again. Both of these men were targets for the right-wing because their work and their organizations had been perceived as being "liberal", which really means they were insufficiently obsequious toward the right-wing. Rather had delayed jumping on the bandwagon to impeach Clinton until after there was some evidence that he might have at least done something illegal (even though it was only marginally illegal and had little to do with matters of state). Since the rest of the press had been jumping all over "Slick Willie" before he was even elected, this "proved" that Rather was biased; he gets no points from them for having delayed examining the Bush TANG story until it was a mere five years too late.

Got that? The real media bias story in the 1990s was that the press went insane and began slavering after Clinton blood without a single piece of evidence against the Clintons, but because Rather didn't get completely unhinged, he was "biased" and had to go. Under the circumstances, it's amazing that he lasted as long as he did. Never mind that it was for a minor error. (And the more you think about it, the more minor it was. Sure, someone conned Rather into accepting a document that might be a forgery, but he trusted that document largely because it was entirely consistent with a slew of established facts; that is, it was corroborated by what was already known.) Remember, no one has ever proved the Killian memo was a forgery, it's just that no one can prove that it wasn't. But the content, from all reports, is absolutely consistent with the facts. Rather's story was good; the right-wingers just found something that hadn't been nailed down perfectly and smeared the whole story and an okay newsman. (Actually, when you compare Rather with the media people who right-wingers do not object to, he was outstandingly professional. These are people who spend exactly no time at all critiquing the extremely biased, inaccurate, irresponsible works of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Charles Krauthammer, Sean Hannity, Tim Russert, Bill O'Reilly, et al.)

So now Eason Jordan - no, wait, let's go back to that quote from Captain Ed:

"The moral of the story: the media can't just cover up the truth and expect to get away with it - and journalists can't just toss around allegations without substantiation and expect people to believe them anymore."
This is actually a pretty interesting construction, given that Jordan was speaking to a very tiny group at Davos in an off-the-record context. Jordan was not representing his news organization to the public, he was offering his personal opinion in a closed group. And what the right-blogosphere did was not to expose some kind of overwhelming bias, but to attack a man for having an opinion that they just didn't happen to like. Back to Seelye:
At the same time, some in the traditional media are growing alarmed as they watch careers being destroyed by what they see as the growing power of rampant, unedited dialogue.

Steve Lovelady, a former editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal and now managing editor of CJR Daily, the Web site of The Columbia Journalism Review, has been among the most outspoken.

"The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail," he lamented online after Mr. Jordan's resignation. He said that Mr. Jordan cared deeply about the reporters he had sent into battle and was "haunted by the fact that not all of them came back."

See, the same right-wingers who are able to justify invading the wrong country because thousands of people were killed on 9/11 nevertheless think no one else's dead are supposed to matter. In fact, only the right-wing can claim the dead at all, and only as an excuse for more war, more killing, and more and more excuses for the disaster that infests the White House. But God forbid that Eason Jordan should mourn his dead, or have questions about how they died. Remember, any questions about the conduct of this war are "an attack on the troops".

Even the WSJ, while terming it an "indefensible remark," still thinks what Jordan said shouldn't have cost him his job:

More troubling to us is that Mr. Jordan seems to have "resigned," if in fact he wasn't forced out, for what hardly looks like a hanging offense. It is true that Mr. Jordan has a knack for indefensible remarks, including a 2003 New York Times op-ed in which he admitted that CNN had remained silent about Saddam's atrocities in order to maintain its access in Baghdad. That really was a firing offense. But CNN stood by Mr. Jordan back then--in part, one suspects, because his confession implicated the whole news organization. Now CNN is throwing Mr. Jordan overboard for this much slighter transgression, despite faithful service through his entire adult career.
The usual right-blogosphere triumphalism showed up on "even the liberal" PBS:
TERENCE SMITH: All right, but in this case, Jim Geraghty, a real drumbeat developed. And so the question is: what was motivating bloggers who were calling for Eason Jordan's resignation even before they did establish exactly what he said. Were they trying to put another establishment scalp on the belt?

JIM GERAGHTY: Well, there are a lot of bloggers out there. And there's no doubt that some of them put the cart before the horse and were calling for him to be resigned or to step down or to have some sort of consequences before they called for the release of the tape. I think that's a little bit backwards. It would be nice if we could see exactly what happened.

The same right-blogosphere that demanded perfect documentation from Dan Rather was taking great pride in having ruined a career without ever having had more than hearsay - never mind that it was hearsay of nothing special.
DAVID GERGEN: I have no objection to the tape being released whatsoever. I've been quoted to that effect in the press. It was an off-the-record setting. That's ordinarily respected. But in these circumstances I have no problem with the tape being released and let it be settled that way. But, you know, I think the damage is done now. This is what I think is very regretful is that this is a man who spent more than 20 years gaining stature and great respect within the journalistic community for helping to build CNN International, working with Ted Turner, working with Tom Johnson and others. [...]

But there is within this public square -- there is a raucous quality sometimes; in this particular instance there were not only those who were pressing I think not unfairly for a release but there were those who were out for his scalp. And there was a vigilante justice kind of quality here of people who were going after Eason Jordan not because of what he said but because of what he represented, and that is he represented CNN. And there are those who wish to paint CNN as this liberal media outlet in contrast to Fox and they want to beat up on him for that reason. Frankly I think that there has been a quality of vigilante justice here which has gone -- has been excessive. I think it's very -- it's been a cruel fate for Eason Jordan to be caught in effect in the culture wars that are going on in the country.

And of course, that's true - CNN still carries the stigma of having once been a "liberal" organization under Ted Turner, and though it has been shamefully sucking up to the right since Turner left the helm, Jordan's ties to the house that Ted built made him a target. And just in case the current honchos at CNN forget it, we'll make sure and destroy the guy who forgot to genuflect for the RNC.

What all this is about, as usual, is trying to suppress any serious questions about the most questionable administration in history. In some ways, Jack Shafer at Slate spells this out in his column entitled I Would Have Fired Eason Jordan:

What took Jordan so long to take a stab at clearing the air? I suspect that his Davos comment was neither a mistake nor taken out of context. Not even an octogenarian suffering a senior moment would uncork such a provocative comment before the international elite-as Jordan did-if it hadn't passed his lips before. The Davos remark has the smell of something he's probably said before, maybe to CNN staffers or others. Case in point: Bloggers are having a field day with this November 2004 Guardian story, in which Jordan teasingly tip-toes up to the Davos line, saying:

Actions speak louder than words. The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the US military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by US forces.

If Jordan knew his previous comments put him in a poor position to clear his name, the best strategy would be to let the story blow over rather than fight it.

Understand, Jordan isn't the only newsman who has made the suggestion. The unexamined question, here, is: What if it's true? What if it's true that the reason an unusual number of journalists have been killed is that they are being targetted? What if there is more going on here than bias? What if more journalists than we're actually naming believe this to be the case because the evidence suggests journalists are being targetted?

And, if it is true, you can be assured that the question is not an attack on the troops, it's a legitimate suspicion that dictatorial leaders are doing what dictatorial leaders always do - suppress exposure of their crimes, by any means necessary.
12:53 GMT

Some open windows

Iraqi election analysis by Naomi Klein in The Guardian: "The party likely to win the election opposes the US presence and policies."

Finalists for the 2004 Koufax Award for Best Post. Check them out, vote, and give Wampum some wampum so they can afford to do this thing. (I've decided to actually vote in a couple of categories this time. For Digby and Susan. But those were the only ones where I could make up my mind.)

[Speaking of money, throw a little into my PayPal account so I can open a Skypeout account and call my brother, who is currently only reachable on his cell phone.]

And speaking of Digby, smart post on the Eason Jordan story. And this one on the whole liberals=terrorists thing.

At Crooked Timber, John Quiggin has a go at another whacky Kristof piece. The shorter version is, of course, at Busy, Busy, Busy.

I love this picture Maru used to illustrate this post about slimy fake reporter Jeff Gannon.
01:26 GMT

Monday, 14 February 2005

Untimely Times

Gosh, the NYT has caught up with the rest of us, noting that Bush is a spendthrift:

It's not hard to see what brought the United States to this juncture. Mr. Bush's first-term tax cuts were too expensive and too skewed toward top earners to work as effective, self-correcting economic stimulus. Instead, predictably, they've driven the nation deep into the red. Having reduced tax revenue to a share of the economy not seen since 1959, the cuts are a huge factor in the swing from a budget surplus to a $412 billion deficit.
They recommend letting the tax-cuts-for-the-rich lapse. Good show, guys, where the hell were you four years ago?

That's your "liberal media" for you, waiting to repeat what actual conservatives are saying five years after liberals were already saying it.
20:43 GMT

UK Notes

In the Torygraph, Tony Blair trying to look humble now that Prescott has let it slip that the election will be on May 5th. His apology is something of a joke, having no substance and no hint of a change of bad habits.

The Grauniad weblog has more details I didn't notice about that I should have checked out earlier.

And here's a nice picture of Chas and Cam. Personally, I'm delighted that they are finally going to get married and get it over with. Love has endured. (Julie Bindel and I have disagreed to the point where sometimes she won't even speak to me once we are off the air, but this time we're on the same page.)
18:55 GMT

News from around

Congratulations to Melissa Etheridge for having a helluva lotta guts. Man, I wish I'd seen that. Whoo! (Bet it sounded pretty good, too. Anyone got a clip?)

Breaking News from Drug WarRant: Not only has Andrea Barthwell been touring Illinois misleading people about the facts about medical marijuana, she has also claiming that her Illinois Marijuana Lectures were sponsored by Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center (GLATTC), an organization that "promotes state-of-the-art addiction science" and is funded through federal taxpayer dollars (through SAMHSA) and partners with such agencies as the Illinois Department of Human Services. Peter looked into the background of this misuse of your tax dollars and found some interesting details. Hm, you might want to write to your legislators about this....

Mark LeVine at HNN gets into the torture debate in An Open Letter to John Yoo. (Man, I can't even believe I just typed the phrase "the torture debate". Debate! Mother of God!)

Simbaud (of King of Zembla) advises me that before I send any roses to the Senate, I should check this out. Unsurprisingly, all that security has taken a lot of the fun out things. But, let's face it, Barbara Boxer is a damned obvious target at the moment.

I don't know how else to describe this other than to just quote it the way PNH has it on his sidebar: The Expressionist dream-life of Kermit the Frog.

Dominic (of Epicycle) tells me the FaxYourMP folks seem to be beta-testing a new site, And at Epicycle itself, I implore you to take note of the numerous threats to your PC's security running around now and remember that you cannot rely on software alone to protect you, so please, be careful and practice safe techs.
12:21 GMT

Happy Valentine's Day

'Sweet Moments' rose bouquet from

I was just remembering this story about and I noticed this pretty new offer and thought, "Gosh, wouldn't it be nice if folks sent one of those to Barbara Boxer?"
00:57 GMT

Sunday, 13 February 2005

You. Can't. Do. That.

The New Yorker is examining The Torture Debate and has posted .pdfs of the related documents. Pretty much everything you need to know is in the cover letter for the draft memorandum dated January 11, 2002:

TO: John C. Yoo
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Office of the Legal Counsel
United States Department of Justice

FROM: William H. Taft, IV
Legal Adviser

SUBJECT: Your Draft Memorandum of January 9

I attach a draft memorandum commenting on the draft you sent me earlier in the week. While we have not been able in two days to do as thorough a job as I would like in reviewing your draft, I am forwarding these comments to you in draft form now for your consideration. They suggest that both the most important factual assumptions on which your draft is based and its legal analysis are seriously flawed.

Our concerns with your draft are focussed on its consideration of the status of detainees who were members of the Taliban Militia as a practical matter. Under the Geneva Conventions, these persons would be entitled to have their status determined individually. We find untenable the draft memorandum's conclusion that this is unnecessary because (1) Afghanistan ceased to be party to the Conventions, (2) the President may suspend the operation of the Conventions with respect to Afghanistan, and (3) customary international law does not bind the United States. As a matter of international law, the draft comments show, all three premises are wrong.

The draft memorandum badly confuses the distinction between states and governments in the operation of the law of treaties. Its conclusion that "failed states" cease to be parties to treaties they have joined is without support. Its argument that Afghanistan became a "failed state" and thus was no longer bound by treaties to which it had been a party is contrary to the official position of the United States, the United Nations and all other states that have considered the issue. The memorandum's assertion that the President may suspend the United States' obligations under the Geneva Conventions is legally flawed and procedurally impossible at this stage The memorandum fails to address the question of whether customary international law is binding on the United States as a matter of international law. (As John Marshall was fond of saying, to ask the question is to answer it.)

John, I understand you have long been convinced that treaties and customary international law have from time to time been cited inappropriately to circumscribe the President's constitutional authority or pre-empt the Congress's exercise of legislative power. I also understand your desire to identify legal authority establishing the right of the United States to treat the members of the Taliban Militia in the way it thinks best, if such authority exists. I share your feelings in both of these respects. I do not, however, believe that on the basis of your draft memorandum I can advise either the President or the Secretary of State that the obligations of the United States under the Geneva Conventions have lapsed with regard to Afghanistan or that the United States is not bound to carry out its obligations under the Conventions as a matter of international law. This may mean, of course, that we must determine specifically whether individual members of the Taliban Militia in our custody are entitled to POW status, and it may be that some are actually entitled to it. In previous conflicts, the United States has dealt with tens of thousands of detainees without repudiating its obligations under the Conventions. I have no doubt we can do so here, where a relative handful of persons is involved. Only the utmost confidence in our legal arguments could, it seems to me, justify deviating from the United States unbroken record of compliance with the Geneva COnventions in our conduct of military operations over the past fifty years. Your draft acknowledges that several of its conclusions are close questions. The attached draft comments will, I expect, show you that they are actually incorrect as well as incomplete. We should talk.

You may remember that excuses for suspending the Geneva Conventions were discussed publicly as "reasons" why the United States could ignore all law and humanity (and morality) in dealing with people captured in Afghanistan or others deemed "terrorists" or "enemy combatants" early in the "War on Terror". You may also recall that many of us noted at the time that there are no exceptions to these rules in any version of law. The United States is a signatory of the Geneva Conventions, which make no such exception. The United States Constitution explicitly holds the United States to any treaties it signs as law of the United States. The office of the President of the United States has no power to exempt itself from the rule of law. From Article VI:
Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Immoral, inhumane, and lawless. There is not one single reasons why these people shouldn't be impeached and driven from office. Yet you'd never know it to read the papers or watch the news. Maybe we should ask them why.
12:19 GMT

Fight for democracy

GOTV has a few action alerts up you ought to check out, and also this notice about this article:

A Congressman who fought last year for a bill that would have required all electronic voting machines to generate a paper record that voters could verify has reintroduced the legislation.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) said he has rewritten the bill to strengthen some aspects of it, while maintaining the original intent. The bill would amend the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

Holt said he believes the bill has a better chance of passing this year now that the 2004 election is in the past.

"I think both Republicans and Democrats [in Congress] have had quite a bit of exposure to this back in their town meetings and interactions with their constituents," he said. "This is a subject that people all over the country are talking about."

Someone appears to have forgotten to tell Eliot Spitzer, though - he's still trying to get NY to comply with HAVA requirements to install "state of the art" voting machinery. Y'all might want to write to him and explain that the real state of the art in voting is paper ballots counted by hand.
00:32 GMT

Saturday, 12 February 2005

Stuff I saw

Nice comment by "tomeck" to a post by Paul Glastris on Social Security at Political Animal:

The money was put into the trust fund so that us boomers could finance our own social security. Why should spending it on our social security be a crisis?

It's like saving for a vacation, then getting worried because you're spending your vacation money on your vacation. Wow, better not take a vacation!

At Rhetoric 101, a look at how we've made things better for women in Iraq. Which is to say, we've made them worse.

Gene Lyons, in good form as always, with The snake-oil pitch for Social Security: I swear if I hear one more 20-something in a power suit smugly assure a TV interviewer how much better they can handle their money than (snicker) Social Security, things could get ugly.

I'm still pretty upset about the Lynne Stewart conviction. If we're going to prosecute lawyers for defending unpopular clients, and juries are going to go along with it... well, just what is that "freedom" stuff we're supposed to be fighting for, again?

Panoramic views from the Apollo missions (via Epicycle).
17:21 GMT

Dems fight back; wingers appalled

The other day I noticed something at Memeorandum from Human Events in which the new Congressional Democratic unity was characterized as follows: Congressman: Democrat Leadership Threatening 'Retribution' for Dems Who Cooperate with White House. More interestingly, right-wing bloggers were acting like this was some sort of weird, new, uniquely Democratic tactic. For example, Betsy Newmark made this hilarious statement: "Apparently, bipartisanship is not a two-way street."

It's the kind of thing makes you want to pound the floor. These people aren't just people who ignore politics because they've got more important things to do, like picking up the kids from school and taking them to Little League and ballet lessons and things like that. They're not working in factories and coming home too drained to pick up the paper. They're political bloggers, for godssakes, and they are completely oblivious to what their own party has been doing in government.

Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog has a neat reminder that this game is one the Democrats have learned way too slowly from the Republicans, who launched their no-cooperation, no-compromise strategy way back in the early days of the Clinton administration. And Kos noted approvingly that the Democrats are finally getting their act together after having rolled over for it far too long. At last:

U.S. Senate Democrats admitted on Thursday they did not do enough to protect their ousted leader, Tom Daschle, from Republican attacks and vowed to defend his successor, Harry Reid, who is now under fire.

Reid's 43 fellow Senate Democrats, along with a Democratic-leaning independent, wrote President Bush to protest a partisan offensive.

They called on Bush to halt what they denounced as personal and unfair attacks by the Republican National Committee and the Republican senatorial campaign committee against Reid. The Nevada lawmaker replaced Daschle last month as Senate minority leader [...]

"Calling him (Reid) names is pointless and silly," Democrats wrote in the letter sent on Thursday. "We feel that suggesting Democrats are simply obstructionists because they have honest policy disagreements with your administration is dishonest."

Honest policy disagreements. Yes! And it's about time Democrats finally started digging their heels in on those issues. It's been infuriating to watch them cave over and over on matters of principle while the Republicans refused to give an inch on their appalling, irresponsible, extremist activities. This isn't just about developing a spine, either - it's about remembering that there are things we really believe in and must stand up for.
10:53 GMT

Friday, 11 February 2005

It's New York Times time!

I was just looking at Demosthenes' remarks about recent discussion by Bobo the Cabbage and Stanley Kurtz of the evils of educating women, and I realized that some people still don't know that you can get blog-friendly links at the NYT that will last, using the New York Times Link Generator. You can also go to New York Times: Latest Headlines, which loads quickly (it's all text) and the links are already blog-friendly.

Speaking of which, Bob Herbert is talking about US policy:

Our henchmen in places like Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan and Jordan are torturing terror suspects at the behest of a nation - the United States - that just went through a national election in which the issue of moral values was supposed to have been decisive. How in the world did we become a country in which gays' getting married is considered an abomination, but torture is O.K.?
Mr. Arar was seized because his name had turned up on a watch list of terror suspects. He was reported to have been a co-worker of a man in Canada whose brother was a suspected terrorist.

"Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say," Ms. Mayer wrote.

The confession under torture was worthless. Syrian officials reported back to the United States that they could find no links between Mr. Arar and terrorism. He was released in October 2003 without ever being charged and is now back in Canada.

Every time I see anything about this story I am amazed all over again. I would really like to be able to question every single person who made the decisions that put Arar on the watch list in the first place, and each subsequent decision that got him air-mailed to the torturer.

And Frank Rich's How Dirty Harry Turned Commie is the top headline as I type this:

"What do you have to give these people to make them happy?" Mr. Eastwood asked when I phoned to get his reaction to his new status as a radical leftist.
I haven't seen the movie, of course, but by the sound of things, Million Dollar Baby is being attacked precisely because it isn't ideological. There's a certain poetry to it.
23:57 GMT

Jack Chalker, 1944-2005

I've just learned that Jack died a few hours ago.

I've known Jack since I first discovered sf fandom in 1974. I often used to cadge rides with him to conventions, along with Susan Applegate. When he finished his first novel, I was one of the first people he asked to go over the manuscript for him.

It's funny, earlier today, for a completely unrelated reason, I was thinking about the original movie Bedazzled, and remembering that Jack Chalker made sure it was shown at the 1974 World Science Fiction Convention, Discon II, and also made sure I knew about it. I love that movie, and have always been grateful to Jack for bringing it to my attention.
19:38 GMT

Arthur Miller, 1915-2005

Profile, Hindustan Times.

Harold Pinter: My friend Arthur Miller

The Demons of Salem, With Us Still, Victor Navasky's 1996 piece about The Crucible.
18:36 GMT

Stuff to check out

At The Black Commentator, The Silence of the Blonds: I had been asking myself how could Africans like Kofi Annan and Afro-Americans like Colin Powell, Canadians like Prime Minister Paul Martin, and Haitians like Gerard LaTortue not understand the appalling wickedness which their policies have created in Haiti? Or how did Tony Blair, George Bush and Malcolm Fraser of Australia not understand the primeval wickedness they had let loose in Iraq? The answer was simple.

John Aravosis of Americablog appeared on CNN and did a good job of raising the questions that matter about what Gannon was doing in the press room. Crooks and Liars has the video.

Michael Bérubé has a piece up at The American Street about an attack on academic freedom that has nothing to do with Ward Churchill.

Bill Scher: Pakistan Paying Off Al Qaeda. Or at least this is the first time they've admitted it. That's our "friend" Pakistan, all freedom-loving and so on. Cooperating loyally with us in fighting terrorism. Etc.
17:34 GMT


Atrios has a link to this at Tapped, about a most astonishing waiver that appears to exempt the Homeland Security chief from obeying any laws. Go read it.

Atrios also points to Alicublog and a post about the attack on Social Security that explains everything. People call it "conspiracy theory" when the theorist perceives some totalizing plan, something that goes to fundamental re-shaping from the roots, for example. But what if it's not the "conspiracy theorist" who is proposing this theory? What if the perceived conspirators are putting it all in writing?

Joe Gandelman has a round-up of response to the 9/11 Report release. It's interesting to see some of the wingers sounding downright non-partisan for a change. (Well, some of them. It's also entertaining to see from the comments that there are still those who will continue to claim that the report says the Clinton administration was just as bad as the Bush administration, even though it's clear, both from the Report and from Richard Clarke, that Clinton did act to protect our country from attack, and Bush didn't.)

The Left End of the Dial has the round-up on the Ward Churchill story. The right-wingers have been howling with indignation about this guy no one had noticed, demanding that the rest of us repudiate him, trying to prevent him from speaking, etc. This is your "academic freedom" campaign from the right-wing, who in academe as everywhere else, believe that only right-wingers (no matter how nuts) should have freedom of speech.

Scorpio knows the perfect place to cut the budget.
10:37 GMT

Thursday, 10 February 2005

Washington follies

Hmm, I used to be able to just type "" and find yesterday's "remarks by the president" - but I ended up having to go to Google to find the quote I was looking for. I just wanted to be sure no one missed this example of the intellectual rigor of our leadership. Anyway, Sid Blumenthal and Rolling Stone were the only hits I got for "solve the red". Remember, this is one of the staged "town hall" settings Bush does, where the audience has been told what questions to ask:

Q: How is the new plan going to fix [the] problem?

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled .... There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.)

Yeah, you do that.

Anyway, while George is yucking it up, we finally get the 9/11 Report, the content of which was already obvious years ago. Yes, they had over 50 warnings that were ignored. Yes, they talked about suicide hijacking. Yes, it was all as plain as the nose on my face, and just as plain that this report was delayed purely for the purposes of allowing Bush to slip through again lest the scales be tipped by a few more naive people realizing at last that maybe, just maybe, President Gore might not have let it happen.

But PR has always been more important to Bush than actually protecting our country, a task he seems to have contempt for. Just like he does for our country. And, PR being the priority, it's good to have Eric Boehlert around to comment on the state of the media - and, in this case, Fake news, fake reporter. Just another moment of unreality in our unreal world.
17:24 GMT

Privatizing Freedom

Kevin Maroney sees it coming:

Headline: Bush Promises to Privatize Freedom

Washington, 20 January 2005: In a major policy speech, mandatious president George W. Bush announced that after 215 years of securing the blessings of liberty, the American government will be getting out of the freedom business.

"Freedom is the most important part of being an American. But we are facing a crisis in freedom. For too long, people have relied on the government to protect their freedom, but really, that's just an accounting trick. People should be free to choose how to get their freedom, whether it be from Wal-Mart or their own apocalyptic church. Freedom is too important to be left to bureaucrats in Washington.

Of course, some people might think he already did most of this with the Patriot Acts.
13:09 GMT

Rude Cross

The Rude Pundit says the word "Christ" is short-hand for something deeply unChristian:

The Biblical Christ never says, "Thou shalt exhort thine enemies to 'Bring it on.'" The Rude Pundit has said before that the Christ in the Bible is a liberal who invites us all to party on in a socialist heaven. That is a dude the Rude Pundit would like to break bread and fish with while suckin' down wine-from-water. That, however, is not the Christ who has been shoved in our faces by the evangelical right.
The Rude Pundit asked his readers for examples of the other "Christ" appearing in our lives, and has many frightening tales. (Via Reptile Wisdom, where Shoveldog is examining religious bloggery, and where "Love Slip Up On Ya" by Tornado is now playing.)

(The Rude Pundit also learned that - would you believe it? - Alberto Gonzales is Hispanic!)
13:01 GMT

Morning in Blogtopia
Yes! Skippy invented that word!

Steve Soto has a nice concise version of the fake journalist "Jeff Gannon" story, and finds tracks going in more directions than we'd realized. (Steve also has a good take-down of Joe Klein, who has started spouting Bush's talking points at Democrats.)

A weblog called Basie! actually has an interview with Birch Bayh. I always did like him. Not nearly as fond of his son, alas. (Via LiberalOasis.)

Charlie has found a wonderfully nuts extremist propertarian theory I'd never heard of and suggested a conspiracy theory that would be hilarious if I was reading about it in a work of fiction. But things are crazy enough right now that I just don't know anymore. I wake up every morning and discover that every deranged nutcase theory and shadowy group seems to have its representatives at the very top of government. (Hope you're feeling better, Charlie.)

I missed out on the creepy scalping story but Jeralyn briefly posted it. She has a good post up about Sentencing Guideline and Mandatory Minimum Fixes, referring back to her own 1996 hearing testimony. I really recommend you read it if you haven't given much thought to these issues and the nature of prosecutor-driven negotiation and dubious witnesses before. The system has increasingly become one where the process is about putting people in jail as easily and for as long as possible rather than establishing actual guilt and making the sentence relevant to the actual crime. You also might want to check out Jeralyn's exchange with Russ Feingold discussing what good legislative change is possible and his pipeline to the blogosphere.

StoutDem says there may be civil war among the Dallas Dems.
12:04 GMT

Apocalyptic James Watt

I remember James Watt. I remember all the folks I knew at the Department of the Interior crying when he took the helm. I remember the ashen faces of people who worked in the Park Service as Watt openly advocated and worked toward the destruction of our purple mountains' majesty and all that stuff. He was pretty clear about how none of it had to be preserved because Armageddon was on the way. And now TBogg tells me that a leading winger is insisting that it's all a liberal slur about a sweet old man. Oh, no, it bloody isn't.
03:33 GMT

Media notes

Altercation has some good stuff about the Bush administration vs. science, not to mention the so-called liberal media vs. liberals. You have to scroll a bit for the latter.

The media item that the right-wingers are all upset about this week is the suggestion that an awful lot of reporters are being killed in Iraq and that maybe folks are being careless about protecting them. Or something. Here is an interesting take from the other side of the blogosphere. He's right that we don't know who is watching the watchmen and all that, but in this particular case, he's being silly. This whole business has been going on since the beginning of the invasion and even the press - at least publicly - has been acting like there is nothing to see here, move along. But there is reason for suspicion, and it's suspicious that no one has even remarked on it until now.

Eye candy
02:13 GMT

Wednesday, 09 February 2005

Some stuff

The Village Voice has some amusing reaction quotes on the new party chairmanship of Howard Dean. Via The Kentucky Democrat.

An extremely quick guide to Social Security.

If you don't routinely read everything she posts already, go enjoy the Suburban Guerrilla report on Condi Rice's Woodstock Mystery Tour right now. Did she wear tie-dye? I gotta know.

Steve Gilliard suggests that it takes a village (i.e., folks like us) to compensate for the fact that Alan Keyes is a terrible, terrible father. Give generously.

I was entertained by this post and the ensuing comment thread, especially the one from "Gramma Millie".
21:18 GMT


I'm still not in the mood.

Did you watch the ad yet? It's the one on trial lawyers that Fox refuses to air.

The Copyrighting of Public Space (via)

We Will Live In Infamy: Years from now, our American descendents will look back on us -- our America in the year 2005 -- and think of us the way we now think of the Pinochets of this world.

Lis Riba found a cartoon that perfectly illustrates what Bush is doing for national security.

McDonald's has a fake blog - reviewed here. Via Dan Gillmor.

Jack Cluth's fashion tips.
13:57 GMT

I'm not in the mood

So go read:

Busy, Busy, Busy (especially the Shorter Jonathan Chait on that stupid article about how having Dean as party chairman is "suicide").

Body and Soul on what finally outraged right-wingers about the killings of all those journalists in Iraq.

Arthur Silber on the irony of Bush the Thinker.

Bill Scher on The Dangers Of Getting Cute and Tacking Right.

The American Street on the romance of Joe Lieberman and George Bush.

Drew Vogel on why Bush is Objectively Pro-Abortion.

Superman is a Dick (and the weirdest team-up ever).
02:52 GMT

Tuesday, 08 February 2005


Charles Dodgson: Folks on the right have been condemning the U.N. for months on charges that the Iraq oil-for-food program of the 1990s was corrupt -- charges based on evidence supposedly in the possession of Ahmed Chalabi, which he won't let anyone else see. What you may not know is that there has been an official inquiry into these charges -- which found a little low-level corruption, but nothing on the scale that the folks on the right have alleged. And how did the NYT respond? Pretty much like you'd expect from right-wing stenographers.

Go read Digby's The Last Temptation. And stay alert.

The star-nosed mole is creepy enough to be in the Bush administration.
15:34 GMT

More bloggy goodness

Rob's Blog has a report on Kevin Martin, who appears to be a likely successor to Michael Powell at the FCC.

Ruy Teixeira: For all the problems Democrats have on clarity, strength, values and advocacy, they are nonetheless at parity with the Republicans. Imagine if this period brought new clarity, a defining framework and direction, a new unity in challenging the Republicans, greater attention to values and a passionate advocacy for average Americans.

John Emerson on the latest little right-blogosphere celebritizing of someone you never heard of as an example of Democratic crazies: Except for the publicity machine, Churchill has little or nothing to do with the Democrats. Few Democrats had even heard of him before Instapundit did his dirty work, and that's the reason why he hadn't been denounced before. Denouncing him now, at Instapundit's command, doesn't do any real good, because that's how smears work. But there's certainly no reason to defend him.

I'd noticed that Bush had said he was "unfamiliar" with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but I hadn't seen the rest of his remarks. Oh, my. Nathan Newman has the story.

Via Alas, a Blog, a delightful photo-essay of moms at work at Motherhood magazine, in a kid-friendly office. Cool. (And you've seen this cartoon by Barry, right?)

You must check out A Tiny Revolution, where the pigeon-crapping crisis is explained for all of us, and then Kristof explains it even more.

Josh Marshall has a series of posts on Republicans who are saying out loud that they don't support privatization. And he has a post up saying Lieberman may even be coming around.
03:19 GMT

Monday, 07 February 2005

Hot stuff

John Dean, Should We Jail Deep Throats ... - Throat is rumored to be terminally ill, so Woodward may be naming him soon. Dean wonders whether Deep Throat was a criminal or just a whistle-blower, and alludes to the Plame investigation and when reporters should protect their sources. He doesn't specify what he's talking about, but between the lines it sure sounds like he's saying that Judy Miller and Robert Novak should spill the beans.

Nicholas Confessore has an article on SS in the NYT, Going for Broke May Break Bush, in which he says: RARELY has a domestic policy proposal so monumental come down the pike with so little obvious reason for being. And he points out that normally, when presidents are "transformative", they do so with "the wind at their backs" - but Bush is pushing against the will of the people, unlike FDR.

Aslan Shrugged, via Ken McLeod.
22:06 GMT

Eat the vets, feed the rich, fatten the state

The New York Times reports that Bush Budget Raises Prescription Prices for Many Veterans. Right-wingers dismiss this as whining since doubling the co-pay for prescriptions is such a paltry cost-rise. Well, not for people who are already being starved for services, buddy. David NYC at Daily Kos has it right when he says, "I suppose you come home from war with the health care coverage you've got, not the kind you wished you had."

Remember, we have to cut veteran's benefits not because we have too many expenses, but because we have to fund that big tax-giveaway to the rich. And yes, it's a give-away - that "surplus", remember, came from payroll taxes, not income taxes.

And let's note something else about the Bush cuts, too: There are cuts in all sorts of funding to local first-responders. Think about this, now. Our police, fire departments, and National Guard are the ones who are supposed to be on the ground to keep the peace and protect us at home, but Bush has closed many firehouses and police stations and has sent the Guard off to fight unnecessary foreign wars. Meanwhile, he's beefing up a federal intelligence and policing service more massive and intrusive than we have ever seen, under an executive that is no longer constrained by any rule of law. Think "police state", people, this is exactly how it's done.

Via Memeorandum.
14:34 GMT

In Blogtopia
Yes! Skippy etc.!

You are You are a know-it-all.  You are trustworthy, most of the time.  You are  versatile and useful.  You like volunteering.  You are free.
Which Website are You?

Epicycle: At Ars.Technica, the inside skinny on the MPAA's new software, designed to scan your PC for file-sharing applications and unauthorised media. It's not a terribly clever bit of software, it seems, and can't actually tell whether content is licensed, pirated, or home-grown! Personally, given the MPAA's stated desire to attack and destroy our PCs, I wouldn't trust the thing within a mile of one of my networks...

Two neat pictures from Maru, Fractal Explorers and Stormy Peak

Jim Henley has been writing about the Gonzales confirmation, and though he is still not a Democrat, he knows who is on his side. And it's not John McCain.

Thomas Nephew's Newsrack reports that over Valentine's Day DC will become "Paris on the Potomac", with loads of French-themed events. Including food!!

Jim Capozzola apologizes for a terrible slur against Julian Sanchez.

That Colored Fella has an update on the obviously politically-motivated IRS audit of the NAACP, noting that they have decided not to cooperate and also that Citizen's Project is demanding that the IRS should show an equivalent interest in right-wing groups that are clearly partisan, such as Rev. Dobson's gang.

Yuval Rubinstein says Bush's own aides have reported that Bush actually believes that talking about privatizing Social Security actually helped him with retirees in Florida during the 2000 campaign. Oh, my.
13:42 GMT

Around the cyberhood

Conservo-nuts simply forget history, use fuzzy math, and generally talk out of their backsides in order to demonize liberalism. This leads to the question: Is there some way to prevent stupidity? Sadly, No!

Harvey Wasserman, Bush to Social Security: Drop Dead: Let's cut the actuarial doublespeak: Bush comes not to save Social Security, but to bury it. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt installed the most successful social program in US history, far right fanatics of the Bush ilk have been trying to destroy it. They may be on the brink of succeeding. Fundamentalist conservatives despise any social welfare program that works. Their stark ideological crusade demands the dismantling of any program through which society can exert control over the economy or our common heritage, such as the natural environment.

Kerry claims he learned from the election. That is, he learned the things from this campaign that the rest of us learned in 2000. Where was he then? I'm so tired of these people with such long learning curves.

Another case Cliff Arnebeck has been working on for several years: Secret list reveals who helped fund attack ads: A secret list of donors who gave $4.2 million for attack ads targeting Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick in the 2000 election campaign was released Friday.

At Doctor Alterman's Altercation, frequent correspondent "Stupid" says: I'm truly baffled. When a confidential CIA report was leaked predicting a bleak future for Iraq, the press was all over it. When a public CIA report PREDICTS THE DEMISE OF THE UNITED STATES, only one newspaper takes notice. But here it is.

The Mahablog: Before the Iraq invasion, many of us liberals tried to say that Saudi Arabia was a much bigger supporter of anti-American terrorism than Iraq was, but the righties shouted us down. If history is our guide, we can expect the reality of Saudi-sponsored terrorism to slowly sink in to the collective rightie brain, after which they will scream at us liberals about how this is somehow our fault.

Hieronymus Bosch action figures, via Planet Swank. (Go here first if you don't get the joke.)
01:27 GMT

Sunday, 06 February 2005

The Judith Miller problem

NYT "public editor" Daniel Okrent's column this morning discusses whether reporters should appear on television shows and what they should say if they do. This is all about the astonishing revelation by Judith Miller on Hardball that the Bush administration, behind the scenes, had been reaching out to Chalabi and, "According to one report, he was even offered a chance to be an interior minister in the new government." The interesting thing is that this bombshell wasn't discussed much elsewhere. Says Okrent:

But to anyone who has tried to follow the jagged contours of Ahmed Chalabi's connections to the Bush administration, Miller's statement was a shocker. This piece of news hadn't appeared in The Times that morning; it didn't appear in The Times the next morning; as I write this column, on Friday, it still hasn't appeared. A lengthy analysis of the election aftermath by reporter Dexter Filkins, published Tuesday, didn't even hint of any current contact between Chalabi and the Bush administration.

But if you watched "Hardball" on Sunday night, and saw Judith Miller identified as a reporter for The New York Times, you would have every reason to think she was speaking with the authority of the paper.
Judging by their absence from the paper, one must conclude that either Miller's Chalabi revelations were wrong or unsubstantiated or that The Times is suppressing an important piece of news. If the first, the paper has suffered a blow to its credibility: Matthews introduced Miller as "an investigative reporter for The New York Times." The ID on the screen said "Judith Miller, 'The New York Times'." At five separate points in the show Matthews invoked her connection to The Times, as any host would.

I'm not sure the problem is so much reporters appearing on television as reporters with dubious sources and even more dubious credibility.

Okrent says his editor, Bill Keller, wants to keep the heat off of Miller at the moment because of her entanglement with suppressing evidence of criminal activity from the White House in the Plame affair. Okrent calls this "protecting sources" and thinks Miller is right to do it and the Times is right to protect her. To me, this is all of a piece with the paper's consistent attempt to protect not legitimate sources, but the White House itself.

And protecting the White House may very well be why we heard no more about possible existing support from the administration for Chalabi. Given that Chalabi has been accused of passing on sensitive information to Iran, in addition to all of his other sins, that's actually a pretty serious charge. Why isn't the Times examining it further? Either Miller is just as terrible a reporter as she's always been or she knows something very serious indeed. Not that I put any faith in Miller's information, but if it's more of the same, it's time for the paper to give her the axe. Publicly. And with another mea culpa making it clear that there was something wrong with pretending that Jayson Blair and his defenders were the biggest problem at The New York Times.
13:31 GMT

The Unexplained Presidency

It's hard to put much faith in Iraqi elections when we can't trust the ones at home. And now they want to sue lawyers who raise challenges to elections of dubious provenance. It all seems to be part of a seamless whole where the Bush Family Empire is concerned.

Robert Parry doesn't seem convinced by the events of the last few weeks, from what he writes in Freedom from Reality:

One of the most troubling crises confronting the world today is that the U.S. Executive Branch - controlling the most fearsome arsenal in history - has largely detached itself from reality and faces no counterforce in Washington capable of bringing it back down to earth.
In that sense, George W. Bush's second Inaugural Address on Jan. 20 stood out as a defining moment. Bush wrapped a grim record of presidential abuses - an unprovoked invasion, extraordinary secrecy, tolerance of torture and indefinite imprisonments without trial - in the noble cloak of "freedom" and "liberty," words he uttered 27 and 15 times respectively, as if words can amend truth.
Bush's supporters don't have much to do with democracy, that's for sure:
This hostility toward dissent has continued to the present as some conservative pundits, such as the Washington Times' Tony Blankley, are suggesting that journalist Seymour Hersh be investigated for espionage for writing an article in the New Yorker about the Bush administration's secret military operations in Iran and elsewhere.

"Federal prosecutors should review the information disclosed by Mr. Hersh to determine whether or not his conduct falls within the proscribed conduct of the [espionage] statute," Blankley wrote. [Washington Times, Jan. 19, 2005]

Ironically, Blankley is the editorial page editor for a newspaper financed by South Korean theocrat Sun Myung Moon, who has vowed to eradicate American democracy and who was identified by a congressional probe in the late 1970s as an operative for the South Korean intelligence agency.

We already know that the Bush campaign reeled out it's usual arsenal of dirty tricks in at least two successive presidential elections, as Parry reminds us. And as The Nashua Advocate says:
According to Non-Partisan USCV Study, "The Possibility That the Overall Vote Count Was Substantially Corrupted Must Be Taken Seriously"

...It seems no one who has made an effort to do so can adequately explain, in scientific, rational, or even merely logical terms, how it is that George W. Bush came to be President of the United States for a second term. His Presidency, in short, defies all of the available mathematical data.

His is the Unexplained Presidency.

The Ohio AG is now trying to file charges against the lawyers who have been challenging the voting irregularities in Ohio. Here's Scoop:
Ohio Attorney-General's attack on election protection attorneys draws mountain of documentation on state's stolen election, including new study on exit polls

Stiff legal sanctions sought by Ohio's Republican Attorney General James Petro against four attorneys who have questioned the results of the 2004 presidential balloting here has produced an unintended consequence -- a massive counter-filing that has put on the official record a mountain of contentions by those who argue that election was stolen.

In filings that include well over 1,000 pages of critical documentation, attorneys Robert Fitrakis, Susan Truitt, Peter Peckarsky and Cliff Arnebeck have counter-attacked.
Petro's suit is widely viewed as an attempt at revenge and intimidation against the grassroots movement that led to the first Congressional challenge to a state's Electoral College delegation since 1876. The attorney general's action was officially requested by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who administered the Ohio presidential balloting while serving as co-chair of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign. Petro and Blackwell have labeled as "frivolous" the election challenge filing. Their demand for sanctions will be reviewed by the Republican justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Though Petro's filing was aimed at backing down further challenges to the Ohio vote, it has allowed the election protection attorneys to enter into the official archives critical documentation detailing dozens of problems with Ohio's presidential balloting. Among the documents now made part of Ohio's legal archives is a congressional investigation report from Rep. John Conyers that seriously questions the November 2 outcome.

But even the conservative New York Times says this is Blaming the Messengers:
One of the strengths of our democracy is that citizens are free to question the results of an election. But four lawyers who did just that in Ohio, contesting President Bush's victory, are now facing sanctions. These lawyers, and other skeptics, may not have cast significant doubt on the legitimacy of the outcome. But punishing them for trying would send a disturbing message.
Imposing sanctions would be likely to deter people from raising concerns about future elections, and ultimately undermine public confidence in the electoral process. The Ohio Supreme Court should make it clear that people have the right to challenge election results without fear of retribution.

It is odd that Mr. Blackwell, of all people, is requesting sanctions. He made many bad decisions as Ohio's top elections official, including one to reject voter registrations filed on insufficiently thick paper, an order he later retracted. Mr. Blackwell and the officials responsible for the 10-hour lines have not been held accountable for putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of Ohio voters. It will be a poor reflection on our election system if the only ones punished are the lawyers who tried to point out these deficiencies.

Of course, the Times, ever on top of things, dismisses any possibility that the "problems" Arnebeck et al. have been bringing to light could possibly present anything other than a "weak" case, but at least they recognize that what Blackwell and his pals are up to is way out of line.
02:57 GMT

Bon appétit

You just never do know what you'll find on the technology page:

But the sushi made by Mr. Cantu, the 28-year-old executive chef at Moto in Chicago, often contains no fish. It is prepared on a Canon i560 inkjet printer rather than a cutting board. He prints images of maki on pieces of edible paper made of soybeans and cornstarch, using organic, food-based inks of his own concoction. He then flavors the back of the paper, which is ordinarily used to put images onto birthday cakes, with powdered soy and seaweed seasonings.
"We can create any sort of flavor on a printed image that we set our minds to," Mr. Cantu said. The connections need not stop with things ordinarily thought of as food. "What does M. C. Escher's 'Relativity' painting taste like? That's where we go next."
Just think, someday your employer may not even notice that, although you look like you're working, you're really printing out your lunch.
01:59 GMT

Saturday, 05 February 2005

We're the good guys

Novak says The GOP are planning the nuclear option to shoe-horn in America-hating judicial appointments. And I see that there really do seem to be people who think Bush is the first prez who ever tried to appoint minorities to his administration. Take a look at the comments over at Pandagon, for example. But there's a simple answer to that one:

Clinton appointees:

And of course, appointed by John F. Kennedy to the US Court of Appeals; and appointed by Lyndon Johnson as US Solicitor General in 1965 and the US Supreme Court in 1967:

Now, that's what I call 'qualifications'!
Thurgood Marshall

Beat that, suckers.
20:46 GMT

Religious profiling

And remember, folks, the most frequent and severe child abuse comes from heterosexuals with highly conservative religious views.

Spradlin says the Dollars seemed to be very religious and she never suspected they would hurt a child. "Not the way they talked about God and church and their faith."
It was my first thought when I heard about this story. They always turn out to be these types.
17:19 GMT

Blogging along

Amanda examines another anti-life paradigm being pushed by the so-called "pro-life" people.

The website President Boxer will be giving out weekly awards for the "Democratic Weenie" and the "Boxer Badge of Courage". Give them your nominees. Meanwhile, Mad Kane gives you The Gonzales Vote In Verse.

At Political Animal, lots of good stuff:
Enron guilty - anyone who thinks this was just a conspiracy theory is just, y'know, wrong.
God, Kristof is such an idiot. Kevin takes him apart nicely, but man, Kristof could make a fortune selling whatever drugs he's taking. Powerful stuff.
Someone really needs to start mobilizing small business to wake up and start fighting Bush's cripplingly expensive ideas.
Oh, and here's a really, really, really good question. Ask it a lot: Are the Bushistas now saying the US Government is not good for its debts?

This is fun. I started by typing in "Traffic" and got a pretty pattern with only a few clinkers (Phil Collins? Please) and people I'd never heard of. (And I was never that crazy about Jethro Tull, either.) Via Modulator.
16:51 GMT

Blog stops

Seen at Geoist: Those who live by the ignorant analogy die by the ignorant analogy. Anyone who focuses on the superficial similarities between Hitler and Bush - which are really no more than those characteristics that are common to all authoritarians - is likely to miss what makes Bush and the present state of US politics uniquely frightening and novel.

Asymmetry and terror - David Neiwert on "lone wolves" and terrorism at home.

Some Restrictions May Apply - The Mahablog checks in on right-wing nut Kim du Toit's latest excuse for suspending Constitutional rights for some, and finds that, as always, "There are some misfirings of logic going on here."

Suburban Guerrilla found a story at FAIR about how the NYT had the Bush-bulge story but spiked it. Also: Beatlesarama radio.

Do not try to teach a neocon to sing.
13:42 GMT

A couple of blog things

To the right-wingers demand that Democrats shut up if we can't offer an alternative to Mr. Bush's Catfood Account plan, Digby supplies one that provides not only a small pension but survivor and disability benefits as well, without adding any new costs. He calls it "Social Security".

Anne Zook is Peevish about crazy people. (Although, frankly, I don't think it was the Vermont Teddy Bear people who were crazy in this case. Maybe it's about the Republican campaign against Vermont. I've always suspected the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. of being liberals, anyway.)
02:58 GMT

Friday, 04 February 2005

In other disgusting news...

Another heartbreaking story in the War on Some Drugs, from Drug WarRant, and an update.

I'm disgusted by preachers who are obviously succumbing to "Faith-based" initiatives in exchange for Uncle Karl's money. So is The Black Commentator. Don't miss the cartoon.
19:24 GMT

A nation that tortures

I have been failing in my attempt to not think about the fact that yesterday, my country, the United States of America, allowed the confirmation to the post of Attorney General of the United States a man who is on the record as being pro-torture and believing in the divine right of presidents to be above the law. The New York Times:

The confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general yesterday was depressing. The president deserves a great deal of leeway in choosing his own cabinet. But beyond his other failings, Mr. Gonzales has come to represent the administration's role in paving the way for the abuse and torture of prisoners by American soldiers and intelligence agents. Giving him the nation's top legal post is a terrible signal to send the rest of the world, and to American citizens concerned with human rights.
Not one Republican voted against him,* of course, but, shamefully, six Democrats voted for him. One of them was the disgusting Joe Lieberman, a man who was full of moral indignation when a president succumbed to temptation when a woman seduced him, but who feels no such indignation about sanctioning torture. (Note to Connecticut progressives: While campaigning to unseat this man in the primary - which you should already be doing - don't forget to attach the word "torture" to every mention of Lieberman's name.)

It should not happen that six Democrats are not prepared to stand up against torture. Should. Not. Happen.
17:58 GMT

Ossie Davis 1917-2005

Ossie Davis dead at 87.

Biography at The History Makers.
...and from The African American Registry
...and from Indiana University
...and A visit with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

You were someone special.
16:50 GMT

Catfood accounts

Last night Atrios picked the Cato Institute as Wankers of the Day. There Is No Crisis reports that Cato's attempt to rebut the view that there is no crisis misstates the results of a Zogby poll on whether this view has any popularity:

But it appears the anti-ownership crowd has miscalculated in making this their principal talking point. According to a Cato Institute survey conducted by Zogby International, only 6.7% of all Americans agree with this sentiment. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans (52.2%) believe Social Security "is facing serious problems" and requires "major changes." Moreover, a plurality of older Americans (37.8%) feel Social Security is facing serious problems and requires major changes. You can read the entire poll by clicking here.

In addition to being untrue, the "there is no crisis" argument against Social Security choice is simply -- literally -- unbelievable.

But, says Matt Stoller, the poll they actually cited doesn't quite back this up:
Few voters (14 percent) agreed with President Bush that Social Security was in 'crisis.'
And it's easy to see why; who'd want to do this?
A few weeks ago I tried to explain the logic of Bush-style Social Security privatization: it is, in effect, as if your financial adviser told you that you wouldn't have enough money when you retire - but you shouldn't save more. Instead, you should borrow a lot of money, buy stocks and hope for capital gains.

Before President Bush's big speech, a background briefing by a "senior administration official" made it clear that the plan calls for exactly the "borrow, speculate and hope" strategy I described - not just for the system as a whole, but for each individual.
Peter Orszag of the Brookings Institution got it exactly right: "It's not a nest egg. It's a loan."

For years, privatizers - including Mr. Bush - have claimed that people would do better with private accounts than with traditional Social Security even if they played it safe and invested in U.S. government bonds (which yield 3 percent after inflation).

But the official at the briefing made it clear that his boss was fibbing: if you invested your private account in government bonds, you would face benefit cuts equal in value to your investment, so you would be no better off than under the current system.

So everyone's benefits will be cut, whether they invest or not. You have to invest in high-risk stocks to make any real money, but of course the greater likelihood is that you will lose money, and then have no security. And, far from "saving" Social Security, this plan simply puts our entire economic structure in greater peril. There really is nothing good you can say about this plan. Krugman again:
Do you believe that we should replace America's most successful government program with a system in which workers engage in speculation that no financial adviser would recommend? Do you believe that we should do this even though it will do nothing to improve the program's finances? If so, George Bush has a deal for you.
And it seems that most people don't, in fact, believe in this "deal". But even if they did, it would only be for the same reasons so many of them believed in the invasion - because they thought Saddam was responsible for 9/11 and was ready to nuke us real soon. In other words, they'd have been wrong about what was going on.

Are the folks at the Cato Institute actually dumb enough to believe that Social Security is in crisis or that privatizing it will save it? I doubt it. Even Bill Gross, the "manager of the world's largest bond fund," has said the whole idea is "silly".
16:33 GMT

Leftover links

Stuff I didn't get around to before I left for dinner:

Max says FactCheck suffers from equivalency disease, and also gets its facts wrong when it criticizes MoveOn about Social Security.

Bill Scher says that in his State of the Union address, Bush Fakes Left. This is nothing new - Bush using liberal language and pretending he is promoting liberal programs (because that's what the public wants), but let's see who falls for it this time.

Alison wants to install a Masstransiscope somewhere on the London underground.

Chris Nolan warns of a "coming split between labor unions and the Democratic Party": The split has started in California cities where hairline fractures are becoming cracks and it's going all the way to the top of the ticket.

Once again, the networks reject an ad that doesn't carry the Mark of the Beast, this time one that disputes the Bush line on Tort Deform.

The conservative attack on academe now includes a so-called Academic Bill of Rights that isn't. CatchingFlies has a further update here.

Good E.J. Dionne article about John Edwards, saying the right things again. Via So Far, So Left.

I'm a left-wing loony, because I think a man who has repudiated his past in the Ku Klux Klan is not as bad as a man who rationalizes torture and the divine right of presidents. Reminder: Democrats who continued to oppose black civil rights left the party to become Republicans. Byrd didn't. Your guys did.
03:48 GMT

Thursday, 03 February 2005

Post-speech Post

The Democrats refused to stand or applaud for nearly all of Bush's proposals, while nearly all of the Republicans cheered and clapped loudly, giving him standing ovations. When Bush claimed Social Security was going to be bankrupt, Democrats actually shouted, "No!" However, Dana Milbank says the Republican moderates all made their own quiet protests by mostly not standing or clapping for proposals they didn't like, and McCain temporized by standing up late and clapping half-heartedly.

Robert G. Kaiser's analysis notes that the speech contained little that was new (hey, it was Groundhog's Day), although many of us were charmed by the idea of Laura solving the gang problem by offering our inner city youth the opportunity to get low pay, bad food, and officially-approved violence in alien lands. As to Social Security:

Most significantly, this official revealed that most or all of the earnings from new "personal" or privatized accounts will be paid not to the holder of the account, but to the government. The senior official called this a "benefit offset." It's one way to finance the creation of these private accounts, but it's going to cause quite a political stir, I think.
Yes, the plan is to take $40,000 from you over the course of your worklife, and give little more than half of it back. Moreover, you will be getting nothing you don't already have with Social Security, but you'll be getting less and it will be delivered more expensively. Gosh, that sounds good!

Bush tried to assuage fears of the high borrowing everyone knows is in the cards for the plan by claiming it will cost significantly less than it will. This was just another lie, since his figure doesn't run anywhere near anyone's estimates. Additionally, the "necessary" cuts in other programs that are supposed to finance this will fall heavily on local communities, meaning likely rises in non-federal taxes, fees, and of course crime.

Jonathan Weisman also explains that Bush was lying about how much of your money you'll be able to keep, but of course he uses conservative press language, saying it's "more complicated" than it sounds.

The editorial page says Bush's case for Social Security Deform was "persuasive", although this is only true if you have no idea what's going on; it's not a usage I would stoop to, personally. The editorial makes Bush's speech and his proposals sound a lot more sensible - and honest - than we know they are.

Naturally, the fact that the SOTU was the big news of the night means the Republicans had to be trying to slip something else dirty under the radar, and at least one of those things actually made it to the front page, which is House GOP Leaders Name Loyalist to Replace Ethics Chief. Of course, we knew this was coming - can't have anyone who would actually hold Republicans up to any ethical standards, can we?

But, as the speech showed, the rot starts at the top. We've learned all too well over the last five years that if George Bush says something that sounds like it might be good, it's usually doing quite the opposite. So it was ominous to hear Bush's apparent turnaround on DNA evidence, for example. No way do I believe his proposal for "expanding" use of DNA evidence is intended to prevent conviction of innocent people. It sounds to me like it might be used as an excuse to collect DNA evidence, though, and that's a completely different matter. What's your guess?

As to foreign policy - well, Bush claims he wants to help the Palestinians, so I feel even sorrier for them than I did before. There's nothing like Bush's "help" to make a bad situation into a total disaster, is there?
15:23 GMT

Reading room

Robert Byrd, on the nomination of Gonzales, Respecting the Spirit and Letter of the Law: I do not believe our nation can rely on the judgment of a public official with so little respect for the rule of law. We cannot rely on the judgment of someone with so little regard for our constitutional system of government.

Tom Tomorrow does David Brooks. Via Uggabugga.

Slacktivist thinks about the inefficiencies of Bush's policy of Retail government.

Ezra Klein has moved out of Jesse's digs at Pandagon and now has his own weblog.

Think Progress, the Center for American Progress' new weblog, has the text of The State of the Lies, for those who can't bear to watch his lips move. They also have a lot of subsequent fact-checking if you read up from the post of the speech.

Digby: Listen kids. Here's your choice. Either keep social security as it is or plan to have your parents ---- people my age --- living with you for the last twenty years of our sick, decrepit lives. This will be as you're putting your kids through the privatized school system and saving for medical expenses with your "medical savings account" while putting something aside for your kids' college and your own meager retirement. Good luck with that. That's the "choice" you're getting here.

Hesiod has a new post up at The American Street (!) that asks a good question we should start challenging people with: What "radical leftist" positions does Dean actually hold anyway? The only two that are generally cited are his support for Civil Unions (not Gay marriage) and his opposition to the war in Iraq. Not radical. Pretty mainstream, in fact.

Another pretty picture from Maru.
14:02 GMT

Right-wing media

So, we still don't have poll results from Iraq, where the ballots are being counted in secret, and where there are complaints of many irregularities and we still don't really know what turnout was (or why), and while the rest of us are waiting to see what it all means, The Washington Times is seeing great meaning in the fact that critics of the invasion aren't mouthing off yet about what it all means. The right-wingers, of course, have been persistently mouthing off about how wonderful it all is, and now they are all linking to the WT piece as if it means something. (Charles Dodgson has more on why you should always wait a bit before having an opinion on news about Iraq.)

Meanwhile, at The Weekly Standard, a surprisingly respectful article about the Daily Kos notes that Kos' hit-rate is now twice that of Instapundit, and his influence has become significant. Usefully, the author is also a blogger and has posted further thoughts on the subject - which, bearing in mind that the conservo-sphere still has this hallucination that ordinary mixed-economy centrism is "far left", are otherwise pretty good.
01:36 GMT

Wednesday, 02 February 2005

Well, that explains things

So, one minute the most hated name in the world is "bin Laden" and the biggest worry everyone has is Wahabism, and the next minute we're attacking a secular nation whose enemies include Osama bin Laden and Islamist theocrats. And the media just went along with it. Could this have anything to do with it?

The board: Bakr bin Laden and 11 relatives now make up the board of the business, which is called the Saudi Binladin Group. Its headquarters are in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Its reach: Now an international conglomerate, the family business has 50,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues estimated at $5-billion. Its enterprises include construction, engineering, telecommunications, book publishing and manufacturing that ranges from motor vehicle parts to crystal chandeliers. Its business partners include General Electric, Nortel, Snapple beverages, Motorola and CitiBank. The conglomerate had a corporate office in Rockville, Md., that was dissolved last year, and several family members own homes in the United States. One of them, Khalil bin Laden, has a 20-acre vacation estate in Winter Garden.

Or this?
Proving that a smart Apple shareholder is a diversified Apple shareholder, Saudi prince al-Waleed bin Talal has expanded his technology and communication holdings, spending more than US$840 million for minority stakes in Netscape, News Corp., and Motorola.
Thanks to GOTV for that little bit of intelligence.

By the way, Saudis also own companies that produce the voting machines used in US elections.
23:59 GMT

Stolen election

Last week Ernest Partridge at Crisis Papers asked, Has the Case for Election Fraud been Refuted? As I've noted, it has not, but go read Partridge for a thorough (and readable) debunking of the bunk that is used to explain away the appearance of fraud.

Partridge has a new piece on the subject, "SHUT UP!," THEY EXPLAIN:

Have you noticed?

Those of us who suspect that the election was stolen (a.k.a. "conspiracy nuts"), have presented an impressive array of evidence - statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial - to support our claims. In response to this we have been provided scant rebuttal evidence.

Instead, we have been ridiculed, vilified, and, most damaging of all, ignored. If our concerns are warranted, then the manipulation of the past election (and perhaps the elections of 2000 and 2002 as well) is arguably the most important news event since the founding of our republic, for a fraudulent national election strikes at the very heart of our democracy. If we the people of the United States are no longer able to remove the government through the ballot box, we are no longer ruled "with the consent of the governed." Government of, by, and for the people is finished.

Furthermore, "the press" (which we now call "the media") is no longer our defense against tyranny, for it now serves the government.

To be sure, the conventional view that George Bush and the Republicans won the election "fair and square," is not without a few defenses. But, as I attempted to demonstrate in my previous essay ("Has the Case for Election Fraud been Refuted"), these arguments do not stand up to close inspection. And what, for the most part, is the response when the skeptics confront the media and the "winners" with their questions and their evidence, and demand an explanation?

"Shut Up!," they explain.

That's about the size of it. There are serious, legitimate questions about the integrity of the voting process in the last few elections. Rather than examine the very real evidence of probable election-fixing, the Stepford Press and politicians brush it off as "conspiracy theory".

The word "conspiracy" exists because conspiracies actually happen. The Republican party has not merely taken part in overt efforts to suppress the vote, but they have also behaved in such a way as to magnify the impression that they are involved in fixing the vote - such as their insistence on paperless, unverifiable voting. What other reason are we to imagine for their desire to make it impossible to verify the vote? Why do they want to keep balloting from being transparent?

It seems fairly obvious that the Republicans really have conspired at least to make it possible for them to fix the elections, and that they very likely have been doing so for at least the last three cycles. Anyone who thinks we had a fair election is just plain delusional.
21:12 GMT

Axis of evil nominees

Digby has yet another excellent post on Gonzales and Bush and the whole objectively pro-torture crowd:

No kidding. The idea that al Qaeda is some unique form of evil that requires we cast out all norms of civilization is simply mind boggling (Indeed, I get the feeling that it illustrates nothing more than ego run amuck --- some kind of competitiveness with the Greatest Generation.)

And I've been meaning to find the Amy Goodman Democracy Now interview with Jesselyn Radack for you:

At his 2003 confirmation hearing, Chertoff said he and his deputies did not have an active role in discussions about ethics warnings in the case from lawyers elsewhere in the department. But a Justice Department whistleblower tells a different story.

Jesselyn Radack was an attorney in the Justice Department's Professional Responsibility Advisory Office during the Lindh case. She raised legal and ethical objections over the questioning of Lindh without his lawyer and revealed misconduct by Department of Justice officials.

As a result, Radack was pushed out of her job at the Justice Department, fired from her next job, put under criminal investigation and put on the no-fly list. She joins us on the phone today from Washington DC.

America was about freedom, and now it's about torture and no due process. That's really something to make you proud, isn't it?
16:00 GMT

Habeas corpus

We have the body.

As you'll recall, I gave the once-over to the study of the exit poll results and found it wanting, but said I'd wait to see what came from more serious statisticians. Well, here's the .pdf from US Count Votes, and they said pretty much what I said:

On January 19, 2005, Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International released a 77-page report on their (p. 3) "analysis of the performance of the exit polls" in the 2004 election. The Edison/Mitofsky report acknowledges widespread discrepancies between their exit polls and official counts, and admits that the differences were far greater than can be explained by sampling error. The report repeats the assertion (p. 3) that this disparity was "most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters", but no evidence is offered to support this conclusion. In fact, data newly released in the report suggests that Bush supporters might have been overrepresented in the exit polls, widening the disparity to be explained. The report gives no consideration to alternative explanations involving election irregularities.
The Edison/Mitofsky report fails to substantiate their hypothesis that the difference between their exit polls and official election results should be explained by problems with the exit polls. They assert without supporting evidence that (p. 4), "Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters." In fact, data included within the report suggest that the opposite might be true.
From the press release:
The statisticians go on to note that precincts with hand-counted paper ballots showed no statistical discrepancy between the exit polls and the official results, but for other voting technologies, the overall discrepancy was far larger than the polls' margin of error. The pollsters at Edison/Mitofsky agreed that their 2004 exit polls, for whatever reason, had the poorest accuracy in at least twenty years.
A body riddled with bullets is not the same thing as a smoking gun - you can have absolute proof that a crime was committed without being able to find the culprit or any evidence at all tying them to the crime.

It's important to separate these two things, because an awful lot of people are demanding an open-and-shut case, complete with smoking gun in the hands of perp, as if the absence of same means that the dead body is not bleeding on the floor. Don't be fooled by this - the fact that you can't prove who did it doesn't mean the crime never happened at all.

All the evidence says there was election fraud and that in all probability Kerry won. No, really.
05:18 GMT

The long and the short of it

Leah has a long, comprehensive post at Corrente called When Did A Free Press Become The Enemy? which you really ought to read, and especially read down to the end where she quotes the wonderful Charles Pierce (from here):

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify a thousand mistakes that have led to more than a thousand American bodies. They did not stand in line for the purpose of being a national hypnotic for a nation not even their own. They did not stand in line for being the last casus belli standing. They did not stand in line on behalf of people's book deals, TV spots, honorarium checks, or tinpot celebrity. They did not stand in line to be anyone's talking points.

You do not own their courage.

We all should remember that.

At Busy, Busy, Busy, George F. Will doesn't like social engineering, except that he does, and Woo woo John C. Yoo.
03:26 GMT

Stuff I saw

Bond. James Bond. Via The Biomes Blog, where I also learned that the Create your own South Park character page has more options than I remember from last time.

Josh Marshall reports that Harry Reid now claims that not a single Democrat will support Bush's Social Security Deform plan. Since some Republicans also seem to be opposing the plan, it may already be dead.

Scorpio at Eccentricity has a few words about the anniversary at Auschwitz.

Atrios explains: Partisan - It is not partisan for anti-torture Democrats to oppose Gonzales. It is partisan for anti-torture Republicans to support him.
00:07 GMT

Tuesday, 01 February 2005

Things to check out

David Yaseen at A Level Gaze says that the proposed higher death benefit to the families of our war dead is the right thing done for less than honorable reasons. Certainly, a lot is owed for these wrongful deaths, but it's a pity this administration never thought to do more to protect their lives from the start.

Jeanne D'Arc has discovered Phil Agree's fine article from last summer, What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? and been inspired by it to write a very good essay of her own: What leaves most progressives, even centrists, banging our heads against the walls and mumbling about pharisees and hypocrites is that this is obviously as true of modern conservatism as it has been of conservatism for thousands of years, and yet an astonishing number of people think that the nature of conservatism has changed, and that now it is somehow all about freedom and allowing every individual to achieve everything he or she can.

Things Eric Maierson would probably say if the bush administration were just a weekly tv show and he were a regular viewer: "Now, see, you can't just go and do something like that. That would be illegal." Via RelentlesslyOptimistic. (Also: Squid invasion!)

I tend to assume that you all read Eschaton and therefore know about Drinking Liberally, but if not, check it out to see if there's a venue near you.
22:47 GMT

Capital Hillary and other stories

Of course, it's Dick Morris, because it's always Dick Morris. Hill Sells Out, it says, and he first declares the possible selection of Howard Dean as head of the DNC to be a "suicide note" for the party.

There is a school of thought among Democrats that by embracing policies and programs deeply at variance with what most Americans think will enhance the party's electoral viability. It was such wisdom that led to the selection of doomed nominees like Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis and John Kerry. It is only when the views of these crazies were repudiated - as with the nominations of JFK, LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton - that the party can win elections.
Republican mouthpieces would like us to forget that Al Gore's nomination speech in 2000, which had so-called "moderates" howling because it "veered too far to the left", gained Gore some 15 points worth of "convention bounce" although he had been trailing badly up until then. That speech put him back in the race and ultimately won the vote for him. Because the "programs deeply at variance with what most Americans think" aren't at variance with what most Americans think at all. Despite the best efforts of Republican-owned mainstream media, most people understand that Social Security is a good thing, that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq if they presented no threat to us and were not responsible for 9/11, that civil society and morality are not hurt by having government programs that make it easier for us to better ourselves, and that the rich do not deserve a free ride on the backs of working people. Dick Morris and the media liked Bill Clinton as long as they thought they could manipulate him. So what?
So why are the Democrats selecting Dean? And why is Harold Ickes, the putative spokesperson for the Clintons, embracing the choice? Because Dean's momentum is unstoppable and nobody wants to stand in the way of the avalanche of self-destructiveness which is pouring onto the Democrats from their left-wing supporters.
Those raving left-wing loonies who believe in a mixed economy (capitalism combined with sensible government programs), democracy, and a business culture that is honest and responsible. Wow, that's so far off the deep end!
Here's how it work: When moderates and centrists embrace the GOP and President Bush, they leave the Democrats to the tender mercies of the liberals. The party is deprived of the ballast offered by swing voters, the party moves further and further to the left, driven by a Jacobin desire for revolutionary purity and revenge against those who urge pragmatism and point to the path to victory.

And the Clintons? Even as Hillary tries to fool us once more into believing in her political moderation, they do not dare stand up against Dean.

Well, yes, Hillary managed to annoy us by acting like no one in the pro-choice movement has ever said abortion is a difficult choice. But Morris is right on the bandwagon, pretending that those whacky liberals think abortion is fun!

And Dean, of course, really is a moderate - he's not a right-wing whack-job and he's no commie, either, which puts him right in the center. It's hardly likely to be "suicide" to have such a person at the head of the party.

USA Today has a story which purports to answer the question, What got so many counties to shift from blue to red? and more or less comes out saying mainly it was 9/11 and the war. They interview various people who voted for Bush on that basis, about half of whom say they agreed with Kerry on pretty much everything else. Since there wasn't actually that much difference between Bush's stated position and Kerry's in that area, that means that even people who voted for Bush were as "crazy" as Kerry. Or, more likely, they were crazier, since they actually voted for the guy whose views they disagreed with.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has an article about how Hillary has shifted themes to expose more of her "spiritual" side, as if we didn't already have eight years of Hillary being religious and going to church every Sunday from the White House to tell us that she wasn't an atheist.

Is she planning to run for president? I don't know, but I don't think she'll get the nomination, since the people who seem most excited about her potential run for the office are Republicans.
18:01 GMT


Scary ACLU commercial, via The Liberal Avenger.

New York, New York

Another ice storm photo.
14:57 GMT

More stuff

Democracy busting out all over: The votes haven't been counted, they've been carried off to be counted in secret. We don't really have any idea how many people voted or what percentage of the eligible or registered voters they are. But everyone thinks it's time to crow about Iraqi democracy. I say it's too soon. How about you?

Supporting the troops: At Heart, Soul & Humor, something to make you sick: Pentagon Says Veterans' Benefits Hurtful to National Security. I've been in a state of shock ever since I learned that it's standard after enlistment to give new recruits materials explaining how to sign up for food stamps. More recently, we learned that those who are in our military hospitals are being made to pay for their food. An army that doesn't take care of its soldiers really has no right to ask them for much.

Good Deal: Digby has an interesting piece on how to frame the issues to counteract Luntz et al. The comments are pretty good, too (and at the moment there aren't that many of them).

Entertainment Section: In Ms. Magazine, Rocking the Cradle of Jazz
02:23 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, February 2005

January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
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Is the media in denial?
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And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.