The Sideshow

Archive for July 2003

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Thursday, 31 July 2003

Round and round

I realize a number of Nader voters are a bit naive, but Hesiod found a quote that is just hard to credit. Can anyone still believe that Bush is doing anything to help small businesses? Nader voters like to present themselves as having a deeper understanding of the issues than the rest of us do, but obviously they've got their share of idiots who don't pay attention, too.

Money, Politics and the Undoing of Stan Lee Media . It's all Hillary's fault.

Digby is on fire, hammering the Chimp and taking on the latest spate of foolishness from the DLC, who now claim that our (or, I suspect they mean, Dean's) activities in the blogosphere are going to hurt the Democrats in the election.

The US takes hostages. We're kidnappers. We're committing war crimes. The other night I saw a reference to "The Geneva Convenience". (Jim, immigrating doesn't help.)

Bush, Republicans losing support of retired veterans

I nearly missed this: quotes from the 1995 Playboy interview with Mel Gibson. Yikes!

At the Daily Kos, Steve Gilliard has the questions that should have been asked at Bush's "press conference".

Denver techies try to ward off touch-screen machines. (Via Talk Left.)
10:37 BST

Wednesday, 30 July 2003

Like pulling teeth


WASHINGTON-- President Bush on Wednesday accepted personal responsibility for a controversial portion of last winter's State of the Union address dealing with claims that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear material in Africa.

"I take personal responsibility for everything I say, absolutely," the president said at a White House news conference where he sought to quell a controversy that has dogged his administration for weeks.

Jeez, I was starting to wonder if he'd ever break down and do it. Not that saying you take responsibility ever means anything with this administration, but it's something, anyway.

And speaking of responsibility, I see a rather worrying quote on the Bartcop board from the Charlie Rose show (there don't appear to be transcripts online, alas):

Did anybody watch the Seymour Hersch interview? I watched some of it and the Bush blunders he outlined made my jaw drop. After 9-11, almost all the Muslim countries were offering to share intelligence to stop Al-Queda and one of the best sources was Syria. They had even managed to penetrate the organization and were willing to share info. What does Bush do? He threatens Syria as "you're next" after Iraq. And now no intelligence sharing thanks to that idiot. Even Qadafi sent people into Afghanistan to help with defeating the Taliban and Al-Queda.

According to Hersch, Bush has blundered so badly with his insistence on invading Iraq that most Muslim countries now regard the US govt. as anti-Muslim. So, no intelligence-sharing with Muslim allies, the loss of all the goodwill after 9-11, and increasing instability in the Mideast. Looks like Bush has hit the trifecta again.

Anyway, here's PowellPoint.
22:43 BST


The Media Guardian ran an interview with Bill Keller, the new NYT editor who replaced Howell Raines, and it doesn't bode well:

Does he agree with the analysis that the American press, generally, has been through an undistinguished period in holding the Bush administration accountable? He pauses, and points out that most criticism of the NYT is that its agenda is too liberal.
Well, sure, if you only listen to the inside-the-beltway crowd and the right-wing fruitbats, but to the rest of us it certainly isn't too liberal. Too lazy, f'sure, but not too liberal.
21:48 BST

At the Annex: Bush & Blair

56K, who can frequently be found in the comments sections of a number of weblogs, has a theory about the "special relationship". It's long enough to merit its own page, so click on over to the Sideshow Annex and have a look at The special relationship: Blair and Bush by 56K.
21:04 BST

Watch out

Stonerwitch has found an article that picks up the theme of the spiritual warfare meme she was writing about a few months ago. (She also presents her paper on Ayn Rand and John Locke.)

In related reading, you might also want to have a look at The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party.

And David Neiwert read that creepy Salon article and wrote:

I hate to keep sounding like a broken record, but the fascist motifs trickling their way into mainstream Republican politics (which is the focus of the "Rush" essay, of course) are starting to come fast and furious -- at a much faster rate, I'm afraid, than I think most of us anticipated.
Well. Actually, I'd been aware of where the press was, and the appointment of John Aschcroft as Attorney General - a choice that seemed utterly insane to me unless they really were planning on a theofascist state - looked to me like the handwriting on the wall. For that matter, the sudden revelation that counting ballots was irrelevant to an election was rather a shock to my system. But at the point at which Jeffords left the Republican Party, I came to the conclusion that it was all much worse than even I had anticipated. On 11 September 2001, once I had assimilated the fact that what I saw on my TV screen was real, one thought stayed with me: This is their Reichstag fire, this means they can now do everything they want. And I already knew what they wanted, they'd telegraphed that from the very beginning. The only thing I hadn't anticipated was the speed with which many liberals, and particularly New Yorkers, would suspend their disbelief in their desperation to cling to the idea that we had a real president in the White House, and the utter silence of the Democratic leadership in the face of the administration's shamelessly unconstitutional power-grab. (Of course, I should have expected the latter as well, after seeing the way they faded away precisely when they were needed in November of 2000.)

Look, I hate this Cassandra stuff, really. I always hope I'm just being pessimistic or even paranoid. But I've been feeling this train-wreck headed for us from the very beginning. Remember when Ken Layne predicted that if Bush became president there would be "a blood-bath"? Well, the blood-bath came and he promptly forgot it. Look, the guy demonstrated on national television during the presidential debates that he couldn't open his mouth without causing an international incident. As soon as he was in the White House he messed things up with China, twice, and all that was before 9/11. Then he rushed into Afghanistan with all the speed of someone who has no idea what war is and I knew then that it was a mistake if he wasn't going to stay for the long-haul, and I also doubted his commitment. I was right. Then the Iraq stuff started and it was perfectly obvious to anyone with an IQ over seven that we could expect no more from him there even if there had been a good reason to invade - and I still maintain there was not.

Have I been wrong? No, I haven't. I hoped I was, but it's all just kept rolling in its inexorable way and some people still won't wake up and I just don't know what it takes.

Some people are sighing with relief because the press, at long last, appears to be blinking its way out of its stupor and being more critical of the administration, but they don't do the one thing that has the best chance of getting us to a road out of this mess, which is to pay attention to the opposition. Democrats keep holding press conferences to address these issues - especially including security issues - and the press doesn't even show up. Gee, no wonder the public still thinks the Republicans are better on national security: No one has bothered to tell them that most of the people who are actually trying to address national security aren't Republicans.

No, the Republicans' answer to national security is to try to terrorize ordinary people who are funny-colored or read a lot or are members of peace groups and who have nothing to do with terrorism. They call us traitors merely for caring that the Constitution is being pulled out from under us. I mean, what else do you call it?

13:50 BST


A not very flattering review of Treason (via Amygdala.) (Plus: Blogging from space! Oh, and Bill Maher has a weblog.)

Take Back the Media radio has Janeane Garofalo and Will Durst on their latest show (Real, MPlayer, or Flash).

Nat Hentoff wonders in The Village Voice Who Made George W. Bush Our King? I'd been wondering that for a while, but that was before I started wondering who made him Holy Roman Emperor.
12:36 BST

Tuesday, 29 July 2003


Alan Bostick wrote a post yesterday about George Bush's management style that dovetailed so nicely with my own remarks about management styles that he wrote another one to tie them together. Yes, I can't pretend not to have noticed that this lousy "modern" way of approaching management goes all the way to the top. It's all part of the same philosophy.

Arthur Hlavaty has a few remarks on the disappearance of mass-market paperback books. I've got arthritis in every joint in my body (been true since I was in my early 20s), so this really hurts me - and I mean physically. As more and more titles come out that will never be available at all in paperback, let alone within a year of the book's initial publication, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find books I can carry with me, which means my reading is being dictated by the weight of books rather than simply what I want to read. There have even been books I wanted to read that I couldn't even lift. I wanna be able to pop books in my pocket again, dammit. (Also: Which warning label are you?.)

CalPundit, noting that the Saudis have asked to have the blanked-out portion of the 9/11 report declassified, wonders why the White House still will not do so, although no one thinks it will expose anything that is detrimental to national security. Well, haha, we know why, don't we? It's not the Saudis who will be embarrassed by it. (Also: Incurious George and self-deception, and some infuriating legal stuff.)

New Gallup Poll:PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll shows that since January, there has been a significant shift in public sentiment about which of the two political parties in Congress can best deal with selected issues. The largest shift has been in the area of the economy, with Democrats now favored by 17 percentage points, while Republicans were favored by one point last January. Democrats' ratings have also improved in the areas of foreign affairs, the federal budget deficit, and the situation in Iraq (note: the poll was conducted before the Tuesday announcement that American forces had killed Saddam Hussein's two sons). On four other issues, there has been no change in ratings.

Joe Lieberman can't understand why so many people have lost faith in our "just war" in Iraq. Over at Pandagon, the question of whether it was indeed a just war is put under the scope.
20:57 BST

Straight from the hip

It occurs to me that if Republicans really liked straight-talkers, Bill Maher would never have lost his TV show:

Here's why the economy turned: The dot-com bubble burst. (Obviously on the orders of Gray Davis.) The airline industry collapsed. (Just as Gray Davis planned.) We fought two wars. (Playing right into Gray Davis' hands.) And Dick Cheney's friends at Enron "gamed" the energy market and ripped off the state for billions.

So you can see the problem: Gray Davis.

And the obvious solution: A Viennese weightlifter. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Finally, a candidate who can explain the Bush administration's positions on civil liberties in the original German.
Now, I'm not saying that I like Davis. Being enthusiastic about Davis would be like saying your favorite food is straw. But he fought for his country in Vietnam and won a fair election, and he's entitled to his term.

Maybe he's a lousy governor, but he was the one elected by voters who bothered to show up at the polls. Their efforts shouldn't be undone by disgruntled shoppers signing a petition on their way out of Target.

(Via Chris Nelson's Weblog.)
20:33 BST

Jaw-dropping stuff

Tapped has a whole bunch of it. Like a look at an article by Michael Powell in the NYT:

Some say the problem is media concentration, and point out that only five companies control 80 percent of what we see and hear. In reality, those five companies own only 25 percent of more than 300 broadcast, satellite and cable channels, but because of their popularity, 80 percent of the viewing audience chooses to watch them. Popularity is not synonymous with monopoly. A competitive media marketplace must be our fundamental goal, but do we really want government to regulate what is popular?
This one doesn't even pass the laugh test. First of all, if large media companies aren't planning to further expand under the new regulation, why bother instituting it? Of course we'll see more concentration -- allowing more concentration is the entire purpose of, well, allowing more concentration. Powell's argument that the United States has the most diverse media market in the world also stinks. That market share doesn't measure popularity per se; it also indicates the power that large media companies posess to decide what even has a chance of gaining mass market appeal. (If "popularity" was all that was required to amass a giant market share on network TV, we'd all be watching Debbie Does Dallas on NBC.)
I'll happily trade General Electric my web space in exchanged for their broadcast network and we'll see if they can still compete with me for "popularity". I just love the way cheap-labor conservatives pretend that popularity of content is what gives them so much access to audiences when they control virtually all of broadcast television and the AM band.

Tapped also has WHO YOU CALLIN' ANTI-CATHOLIC? PART DEUX and a must-read item on a gathering of young Republicans that is a cornucopia of quotes that - well, let me put it this way: You know how conservatives are always coming up with dumb quotes from some obscure lefty as "proof" that "liberals" believe evil things? Quotes that they've spent 40 years compiling out of private conversations and obscure sources? Well, this single Salon article they quote from, this single event, offers us a catalog that is perhaps the equal of the entire compendium:

Politicians speaking at the convention may not have accused their opponents of treason, but they came close. Following Abramoff, DeLay began his speech: "Good afternoon, or as John Kerry might say it, bonjour."
To gauge how "out of touch" the Democrats are, DeLay instructed, "close your eyes and try to imagine Ted Kennedy landing that Navy jet."
Tapped, of course, reminds you that this is particularly ironic coming from Delay, who has a French name and came up with one of the more imaginative excuses for draft-avoidance during the Vietnam war. Kennedy actually served in uniform; he didn't turn it into a costume for a PR stunt, unlike aWol (y,sitp!). And that's just the leadership - the younger folk don't exactly have "our hope for the future" written all over them.
13:10 BST


Looking at the old cartoons is a great way to read up on the American political history of the last five decades, but it's also kinda scary to see how little has changed. Take a look at this one from a decade earlier. And this one from 1950. And this from 1954. And oh, yes, this one from 1961. And, of course, this from 1974.
03:08 BST

On the blog

Rittenhouse Review notes two interesting things: One, that Condi Rice's gleam has been tarnished, and two, that The Washington Post actually has had better coverage of the Bush Lie issue than The New York Times. Jim also has some choice words about his state's representation in the US Senate - and what can be done about it.

Political State Report notes that Diebold machines are threatening Ohio: It's a shame that Ohioans are about to be caught up in the vortex of this controversy at a time when the companies that are selling this technology are doing their best to deny voters any transparency in the voting process, and revelations of heavy Republican ownership of these companies seems to fuel the fire of negative perceptions about them.

Thanks to Teresa and her little Particles, I now know where to look up sexual averages. Four minutes, eh?

PETA very frequently does things that annoy me, so I don't mind seeing a good take-down of them. I suspect that Julian Sanchez feels much the same way, which is why he is so disappointed at seeing a lousy one.

At Talk Left, Jeralyn finds out that when legislators say, "No new taxes," they then proceed to create new taxes (er, "fees") that they just don't have to call "taxes" - in this case, charges for Public Defenders. Meanwhile, she reveals that Jeb Magruder now says that Nixon knew about the Watergate break-in.

LiberalOasis has its regular Sunday Talk Show Breakdown, and notes that Senator Bob Graham, one of the authors of the 9/11 report, said on FNS: I am saying high officials in this government, who I assume were not just rogue officials acting on their own, made substantial contributions to the support and well-being of two of these terrorists and facilitated their ability to plan, practice and then execute the tragedy of September the 11th. Whoa....

There's a whole passel of stuff to be amazed over at Blah3. I rather liked this: Rap superstar EMINEM has been deemed "more truthful" than American President GEORGE W BUSH by a new survey. And I, too, was pissed off at California 'Energy Crisis' was to be initial pretext for Iraq war.

Skippy has a major rant about the California recall. Go, Skippy! (He also has a pointer to a note at Lean Left noting that Gephardt missed the vote on saving Head Start - which our side lost by one vote.)

Take a look at the "Observed" column at Bertram Online for a bunch of interesting linked quotes, such as, "Zizek told me the great battle in Slovenian politics is between the Lacanians, who dominate the civil service, and the Heideggerians, who dominate the military." Yes, of course there's a Bush quote, too.
03:01 BST

Monday, 28 July 2003

Reading The Washington Post

Yesterday's news, today, starting with an editorial that focuses no critical eye whatever on the actual content on the 9/11 report. No, I don't think I'll quote it, it's too boring. Ditto so-called ombudsman Michael Getler's continued inability to face up to the complete failure of the Washington press corps, and particularly his paper, to view the administration with a critical eye and hold them accountable. The John W. Ellwood article about the Davis recall campaign is less annoying, at least.

I was interested in Joe Robinson's article because it addresses a problem that was already pretty bad back in the days when even the lowest-level jobs in the US started with two weeks of vacation time. Apparently, it's become worse:

"How do Americans do it?" asked the stunned Australian I met on a remote Fijian shore. He had zinc oxide and a twisted-up look of absolute bafflement on his face. I'd seen that expression before, on German, Swiss and British travelers. It was the kind of amazement that might greet someone who had survived six months at sea in a rowboat.

The feat he was referring to is how Americans manage to live with the stingiest vacation allotment in the industrialized world -- 8.1 days after a year on the job, 10.2 days after three years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Aussie, who took every minute of his annual five weeks off -- four of them guaranteed by law -- just couldn't fathom a ration of only one or two weeks of freedom a year. "I'd have to check myself into the loony bin," he declared.

Well, welcome to the cuckoo's nest, mate -- otherwise known as the United States. In this country, vacations are not only microscopic, they're shrinking faster than revenues on a corporate restatement. Though it's the height of summer, I'm betting you're not reading this while lolling on the beach. A survey by the Internet travel company has found that Americans will be taking 10 percent less vacation time this year than last -- too much work to get away, said respondents. This continues a trend that has seen the average American vacation trip buzzsawed down to a long weekend, according to the travel industry. Some 13 percent of American companies now provide no paid leave, up from 5 percent five years ago, according to the Alexandria-based Society for Human Resource Management. In Washington state, a whopping 17 percent of workers get no paid leave.

Vacations are going the way of real bakeries and drive-in theaters, fast becoming a quaint remnant of those pre-downsized days when so many of us weren't doing the jobs of three people. The result is unrelieved stress, burnout, absenteeism, rising medical costs, diminished productivity and the loss of time for life and family.

Of course, as those of us who've studied the industrial revolution already know, an over-stressed workforce is one that doesn't perform well and often makes expensive mistakes. That's why these disappearing job benefits lasted as long as they did.

Those benefits were not handed to workers by a wise and beneficent corporate leadership who realized that such benefits were an investment in a superior labor force. No indeed, they fought them every step of the way, insisting that they couldn't afford to let workers go home before they completed a full 12-hour shift every single day of the week. The union movement faced guns and outright murder repeatedly before finally the 40-hour work week and overtime became standardized.

And that's when our corporate leaders discovered an amazing thing: It saved them lots of time and money. A relaxed workforce, it turns out, is considerably less likely to make errors in calculations that end up costing at the bank. A fresh workforce does not make so many mistakes that wreck equipment and cost lives. So even hiring more people and providing more benefits ultimately saved them money.

Of course, there's more to be gained from taking good care of your employees. Employees actually appreciate that kind of treatment, and it shows up in other savings as well. For one thing, the more your employees see you as a fair and reliable employer, the more they are likely to see themselves as having a stake in the success of the company, and the less they are likely to perceive you as someone who is stealing from them and deserves the same in return. Create a friendly environment and get employees who are willing to put out that bit of extra effort for you, work to a higher standard rather than just work to rule; create an adversarial environment and you'll have a worforce made up of exaactly that: your adversaries. Which, among other things, means they will be less likely to waste an erg of their energy correcting (or admitting to) mistakes, or staying a few minutes late to make sure the last t is crossed and the last i is dotted. It also means you'll probably have to buy far more office supplies than are ever used on the premises, and you'll never be able to trust your staff because they hate you. If you think it's cheaper to hire extra security than it is to be fair to your other employees, you're out of your mind. Aside from having to pay for all the security equipment and the salaries of guards, who do you think steals all those things that go missing in the night?

Another reason to let people have plenty of holiday time is that your basic embezzler can't afford to leave the office for very long in any event. My friends in banking used to be required to take at least half of their four weeks of holiday time in a solid fortnight's chunk, because the banks had worked out that it was going to take at least that long for any real fiddling to show up. Then the new corporate culture came in that left them no room for holiday time, and of course the banks suddenly started having a lot more problems. You'd think having a single man bring down one of the oldest banks in the country would have been a wake-up call, but it didn't work that way; the other banks just went right on overworking their employees and failing to replace staff that gave up on them - and making life that much more miserable for their remaining staff. They claim this is "more efficient".

As usual, it takes a reader, rather than a reporter or columnist, to clear up the smoke from some other corporate scoundrels:

Robert D. Novak [op-ed, July 17] raised the specter that drug companies will be deprived of research funding that "scored victories over heart disease, diabetes, cancer, polio and other maladies" if the law about importing drugs is changed.

But Americans have had enough of drug price gouging, and the drug companies are not the only players responsible for wonder drugs and cures. Drug and medical research is a public-private partnership from which all should benefit fairly, not just the pill-pushers.

For example, Jonas Salk's breakthrough polio vaccine research was funded from public contributions to the March of Dimes. Each year the public contributes billions to help find cures for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases. The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society collect yearly about half a billion dollars each in contributions, a significant purpose of which is to fund research. Additional billions in public monies are spent on medical and pharmaceutical research through the federal budget funding of the National Institutes of Health and other agencies.

In addition, while the drug companies trot out the shibboleth that they need high prices to continue to fund high levels of research, the public is realizing that these companies spend a great deal on promotional and marketing activities -- including, presumably, the massive campaign contributions to Congress.

It's not difficult to understand why the public resents the drug companies when prices in the United States for critical medicines are often two, three or four times higher than the prices for the same medicines, made by the same companies, sold in Canada, Mexico and other countries. [John Serumgard]

And then there's the thing about those AIDS drugs, which were discovered and developed at taxpayer expense at the National Institutes of Health. It would be nice to see this issue being covered outside of the letter column, wouldn't it?
17:46 BST

Sunday, 27 July 2003

Things to read

From Through the Looking Glass, another reason to be scared to death of this administration.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: Part I
Jim Crow in Cyberspace -- The Unreported Story of How They Fixed the Vote in Florida

And while we're on the subject, the real scoop at Scoop is that even the conservative New York Times admits that touch-screen voting is too dangerous to trust.

The Whole World Was Watching: an oral history of 1968 (via Epicycle). (And yes, I've been having much the same thoughts about Cix, especially after breaking down and switching to the cheap - though slightly more expensive than my old conferencing-only account - Internet account so I could use their webmail interface. It's utter crap. I figured I'd give them a chance by waiting for their updated version due on 2 August, but if it doesn't thrill me, I will probably give it up.)

Unqualified Offerings answers all your questions about what a great bunch of military planners we have in the White House.

Greg Beato expresses his respect for the recording industry and its little friends in Congress. (Greg also finds some peace, love, and understanding.)

Skimble says pizza prevents cancer.
23:44 BST

A bookstore did this?

Woman Banned for Criticizing Bush's Legs

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - A Borders Books & Music store has banned a Baltimore singer-songwriter from performing there after she made an unflattering comment about President Bush (news - web sites)'s physique during a concert at the store last week.

Julia Rose, who is also a fitness advocate, told the audience, "George Bush has chicken legs. He needs to pump some iron."

Gee, and he does all that running, too.
12:10 BST


The truth about Anti-Porn Guy

UN bars media watchdog: Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been suspended from taking part in United Nations meetings for a year. I dunno, I'm kind of in sympathy with the UN about this....

Transcript of Jon Stewart interview by Bill Moyers on NOW
11:19 BST

Palast interview in Asia Times

On Foxification and other matters:

After the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, Palast was hired by native Chugach Alaskans who wanted someone representing their interests to investigate America's worst environmental disaster.

While most people remember the finger being pointed at Valdez captain Joseph Hazelwood, Palast found that there was more to the story than a ship captain who enjoyed a frequent tipple of the hard stuff: the ship's radar system had been broken for more than a year. What's more, the ship's third mate was at the helm while Hazelwood was below the deck fast asleep.

"We were all told that it happened because the captain was drunk," Palast said over the phone, his voice taking the tone it does whenever he states "official" versions of events which he has discredited. "It was declared to be a result of 'human error', but what it really was was a case of corporate penny pinching leading to disaster."

Palast attempted to get his findings into the American media, but there were no takers. The version of the accident as explained by Exxon and British Petroleum, who had their images and large amounts of money at stake, was enough for the mainstream media.

Via Pacific Views, where you'll also find a fun Morford quote about Pat Robertson in the same post.
10:52 BST


Max says: SEE DICK LIE. Foot-sniffer Dick Morris, former adviser to Bill Clinton and Trent Lott, among others, is trying to sell his new book. Last night on Jon Stewart, he claimed that Zach Moussoui's laptop had the "plans" for 9-11 on it, but liberal laws prevented the FBI from inspecting it. Plans for 9-11? Like who was going to be in which plane when, and what their targets were? Why didn't we hear about this? Because it isn't true, of course.

Queen of Clubs

Pundit Pap has some useful advice to This Week on how to improve its quality and its ratings, looks at Fox's weekly round up of RNC spin-points, and a lot of Viceroy Paul Bremer.

Washington Post declares phony "anti-Catholic" charge by Republicans on resistance to Pryor nomination Beyond the Pale.
10:08 BST

Saturday, 26 July 2003

About that democracy thing...

Digby looks at the Republicans' morning-after regrets:

This unprecedented recall election is not actually about Davis vs. Issa/Schwartzenegger/Simon or somebody better. It's about whether it is acceptable that some rich guy finances a petition drive (with paid signature gatherers) in order to overturn an undisputed legal election so that he might get himself (or somebody else) elected with far fewer votes instead. It's of a piece with some other nasty political shenannigans we've seen recently --- like impeachment over a blowjob, refusing to count legal votes in Florida and redistricting whenever you get enough votes to do it. These things are chipping away at our system in ways that can potentially cause disaster in the not too distant future. When you start screwing with the actual levers of democracy --- the predictablity of elections, the integrity of the electoral system and a universal acceptance of the results, you have a big problem on your hands.

This is not the theoretical "oh what's the use" kind of common griping about how politics are making people apathetic. This is the actual, literal manipulation of the electoral system. The principle that "the guy who gets the most votes wins the office for a set term" is really becoming subject to debate.

And as for Davis, it behooves everybody to remember that (regular) elections are about choosing between the candidates who are offered. If you remember that, you should also remember who the Republicans offered the people of California in the last two elections -- Dan Lundgren and Bill Simon. Given those choices again today, can any Democrat say that we shouldn't have voted for Davis? Should the GOP be allowed to rectify their mistake (and not incidentally bypass their own hardline right wing) by basically just calling for a new election for no other reason than that they can?

Now, many Democrats argue that the Democratic Party shouldn't have nominated Davis either, but that is very easy to say in retrospect. I'm sure all parties regret nominating a politician who becomes unpopular. But at this point in history, it's almost suicidal to sanction throwing out the certified results of any undisputed and orderly election process in favor of street corner petition appeals to emotion. Because if anyone thinks that this will be an isolated incident, not to be repeated, they are not paying attention to recent history. After all, the GOP had no problem impeaching a popular President and if the rules of the Senate had only required that a plurality vote could have replaced him with a Republican, you can be sure they would have convicted and removed him as fast as you can say Trent Lott.

This recall in California is just the most recent example of GOP power politics in action and it is only logical to assume that they will be emboldened to continue in this vein (and that the Democrats will have no choice but to join in) if the people reward this type of manipulation merely because, in this instance, the guy who won the last election has a low approval rating.

And if that happens, Digby has a plan. It might just be necessary.
16:10 BST

Catching up

Elayne Riggs has found the amazing Anti-Porn Guy. Is it parody, or beyond parody? I don't know. He is the very model of, well, just that sort of guy. (Don't miss the photos.) And yet... it's on You know -! (Speaking of which, C.J. has links to that neat story about tool-making crows.)

Also Via Elayne, Steve Perry on All the President's Lies, Part 1.

Terminus asks: Is William Safire A Loony?

Check out this Jim Henley post on the murder (well, c'mon, that's what it was) of Uday and Qusai, and particularly the quote from Peter David.

Lies kill.

Laura Bush Meets Kim Jong Il.

Liberal media: TALLAHASSEE -- A statewide cable news network late Wednesday pulled the plug on two Democratic Party television ads that targeted Gov. Jeb Bush and House Speaker Johnnie Byrd. As if this isn't bad enough, just dig their excuse: "We're not comfortable putting them on the air. We can't corroborate the accuracy based on the network's previous reporting," he said. "That's not to say it's not accurate, but as a news [network] we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard." In English, this means: We've avoided covering the story ourselves, even though it is important news; therefore, since we have no reporting on it, we can say it is "unconfirmed". Neat trick, but this is a campaign ad we're talking about, and verifying content has never been a problem when the ads were put out by Republicans.
14:20 BST

Friday, 25 July 2003


Iain Coleman doesn't sound too happy, and I don't blame him. David Blunkett just makes me wanna spit.

Judge Sentelle's abuse of his position will someday be the stuff of legend. Imagine claiming that the Clinton's legal costs for Whitewater would have been incurred even had there not been an independent prosecutor involved.

It looks like the gang at The Watch has moved to classier digs at Pacific Views, but before that happened Natasha recalled an interview at Buzzflash that pointed out that Tony Blair had privatized intelligence - and sold it to the Carlyle Group. Think about that. Bush is trying to blame the Brits for his fuzzy intel...but did the info come from his dad's little business venture?

From Tapped: WHO YOU CALLIN' ANTI-CATHOLIC? Some of you may have missed the recent, extraordinary spectacle of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a Methodist, exlaining to the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, four of whom are Catholic, that they were anti-Catholic for opposing the nomination of William Pryor to a federal appeals court. They follow with some interesting quotes from "Nina Totenberg's excellent report on NPR" and another piece exposing the dirty underside of Jeff Sessions himself. It's amazing just how much these people stink.

A new campaign for the California governorship opens up at Smythe's World.

Hunter S. Thompson says "Welcome to the Big Darkness": The Rumsfield-Cheney axis has self-destructed right in front of our eyes, along with the once-proud Perle-Wolfowitz bund that is turning to wax. They somehow managed to blow it all, like a gang of kids on a looting spree, between January and July, or even less. It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgiveable sin in America. (Via MWO.)

Several readers have written to chide me for not getting that 3rd Amendment thing quite right. I'll have to go over it again later when I have time to get into it. (Hotmail isn't really turning out to be an answer to my mail problems, because I can't seem to remember that if I close a message window it won't be available to me when I'm offline.)

Another musical toy, via Amygdala.
16:04 BST

Stylebook and mail protocols

Now and then people send me things for publication which I might or might not use, but it sure helps if mail and articles are formatted usefully.

First of all, remember that ASCII is pretty much all you need to send readable mail; HTML and MIME encoding just waste bandwidth and don't necessarily make your mail look any more attractive. (In my mail-reader, it makes it look like a load of gibberish.) If you don't know how to reset the defaults on your mail reader (or why you really, really should), read this now. (I'm not going to open your attachments anyway, so don't bother sending them.)

Secondly, if you are sending anything you want me to print that requires any kind of special formatting, some kind of marker is needed for clarity when you include titles or quotes - don't send documents that have been run through an auto-formatting HTML facility; just put the codes in by hand where necessary. Things will go much more smoothly if you remember a few basic rules:

1. Quoted paragraphs should be marked for indentation to distinguish them from your own text. You can use some signifier like [indent] [end indent] if you like, but the HTML blockquote command is better and not a lot harder to type. Whatever you use, please be consistent, since if it's not the HTML code I'm going to have to find/replace it.

2. Titles of books, newspapers, magazines, albums, movies, and television shows should not be put in quotation marks, but in italics. Individual stories or articles, songs, or episodes from a television show should appear in quotation marks, as follows:

I think "Expecting to Fly" was the first song I really fell in love with on Buffalo Springfield Again.

I didn't really like Kim Stanley Robinson's The Wild Shore much, but I loved "The Lucky Strike".

I referred earlier to an article called "Dire States" from The Independent.

"Hush" and "Once More With Feeling" are still probably the most talked-about episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If you're completely allergic to HTML coding, you can use the old e-mail and Usenet standards for _underlining_ to show emphasis, but HTML only requires a few extra keystrokes and it's worth learning these basic codes, which for those two bits of formatting look like this:
"Hush" and "Once More With Feeling" are still probably the most talked-about episodes of <i>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</i>.
If you want to include a link in your text and you don't want me to re-write the way you did it, your best bet is to learn the hyperlink code, too, and it looks like this:

<A HREF="">Buzzflash</A>

If you're using a text editor like TextPad, you can write a little macro for it, or else you can simply copy and save the code in Notepad:

<A HREF="">*</A>

- and insert the URL between the quotation marks and replace the asterisk with the text you want in the link.

(Remember - I don't want the entire page to be fully formatted, since I'm going to be reading it in ASCII and I will be imposing my own page-formatting. Extra codes will just make it harder for me to read.)

Another good reason to compose in a real text editor rather than Word, by the way, is to avoid those nasty "smart quotes" that mess up formatting. They don't really look good in HTML and they don't come through in ASCII, so just stick to good old-fashioned "quotation marks". (And please, no double-apostrophes!)

If you want a good quick reference for HTML, you can find a couple at Acme and Webmonkey.

For more advanced items like special characters that might not come through in e-mail, it's best not to rely on my spotty visual memory, so if you really want something like a copyright symbol or a yen sign, you'd best include the numerical code in brackets, like this:


(I used that example because it's the only one I use often enough to remember it. British keyboards put it over the "3", and computers sold here are set up accordingly, but I don't like the layout of the British keyboard so I always un-keybuk it, which means I have to use the numerical code for the pound sign. This still leaves me without a cent sign, but then I never really need one so I still haven't learned it.]

Yeah, that's a lot of boring rubbish for something I'm probably not going to publish anyway, but what the hell, you might improve your chances of having someone print your stuff, even if it isn't me, and it might help you out in the long run.
12:41 BST

Thursday, 24 July 2003

Mail Call

Owen Boswarva, responding to this post about the BBC and the Kelly suicide, writes:

Actually, the BBC maintains that Dr Kelly was the "principal" source for its reports, not the sole source. The BBC statement released on Sunday is here: [link]

The BBC statement seems very carefully worded. Technically "principal" could mean that Kelly was the initial source for the allegations that the dossier was doctored for political effect, rather than the source that gave them weight.

This would be consistent with the theory that the BBC received an off-the-record confirmation from either an actual intelligence official or someone closer to the PM's office - the identity of whom it is still protecting.

And David Bell was inspired by this post to say:
It's an interesting thought that US brands may be losing value because of Iraq, but that isn't the only reason.

The Money Programme on the BBC, last week, reported on the trouble McDonalds are in, and they're slipping in the USA as well as the rest of the world, and their slump started far enough back not to have been triggered by Iraq.

It could be that there's a whole broken management style permeating these companies, related to the Bushista political style. It could also be that these big-name brands can wear out or shift emphasis. You can still get Kodachrome, but how often do you see it on sale in ordinary shops?

But Bushista management, matching Bushista politics, and the stories of burger-bar management (Remember the McLibel trial?) all seem to fit with the "cheap labor Republican" idea.

Allen Brill of The Right Christians writes to say that he now has a theory of everything.

And it looks like I was wrong about the 3rd Amendment and will have to update the Bill of Rights 2003 page. Kevin Maroney tells me there was a case that actually involved the 3rd - and the decision was basically that, well, too bad. So there goes the whole Bill of Rights.
12:05 BST


Bob Somerby says that the eight pages Condi was too busy to read are now online.

Jerome Doolittle has an update on the Yellowcake story: "WASHINGTON, July 23 — President Bush's deputy janitor today took complete responsibility for allowing faulty intelligence to appear in the president’s State of the Union address."

At Bartcop, Huey watches the news, and Huey gets political blue balls. Also, Gene Lyons joins the ranks of those few journalists who have a problem with Condi Rice's performance of her job.
10:52 BST

Wednesday, 23 July 2003

A head full of "WTF?"

BusyBusyBusy, as always, is keeping us up-to-date with what the various Bush-apologists are saying to explain away Bush's lies. Here, for example, he finds three different cheap-labor conservative pundits all spouting the same nonsensical "defense":

Clifford D. May

It's true that weapons of mass destruction have not yet been found. Nor have we found Saddam. Or Osama bin Laden. But Saddam and Osama exist.

(Josh Marshall responds to Safire's use of this analogy with, "Am I missing something? Because this analogy sounds like one of the stupidest things I've ever heard in my life.")

And then of course there is that "liberal" defender of note:

Shorter Richard Cohen:
Bush the Believer

George W. Bush is a simple-minded but honest man who put too much faith in duplicitous advisors.

Yeah, well, that really inspires confidence - he chose his advisors; if he can't get that much right, what did we need him for?

Josh Marshall has a more honest appraisal that still leaves room to refrain from consigning the souls of the administration to Hell, but the bottom line is that even if you grant them the best will in the world, they still can't actually accomplish much good in the Middle East because they absolutely will not look the American people in the eye and tell them their real reasons for wanting to go to war and what must be done to accomplish those goals. That is, assuming those goals are actually worthwhile, and at a price America is willing to pay. But if that were the case, why wouldn't they have been willing to share that little secret with our allies, without whom those goals seem pretty far out of reach? Why alienate people we need if they were planning to create something more than just a Haliburton/Bechtel-owned oil pipeline?

Jeanne D'Arc has been doing some thoughtful posting (here and here) on Liberia that's well worth reading, especially if you're one of those people who can only bear to read the capsule version:

I don't know wtf to do.

I don't think George Bush knows wtf to do either. We're sending troops. We're not sending troops until Charles Taylor leaves. Taylor agrees to leave, but vows to return after a brief "cooling-off period." We won't send American troops until a "sufficient" force of troops from neighboring West African countries is deployed. Nigerian troops are on their way? Great. We'll send 41 Marines to guard our embassy. But only after we've gotten immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

Alternatively, George Bush knows exactly what to do: Stay out of Liberia while dissembling about his reasons for not having gone in yet. Of course, accepting that explanation would mean acknowledging that George aWol. Bush* is a duplicitous creep who says one thing while doing another. Gee, I wonder what would make someone think that?

And speaking of encapsulations, she asks:

Do you know how bad the intelligence about uranium from Niger was?

Via CalPundit, and the LA Times, I just learned that it's source was an Italian journalist named Elisabetta Burba, who works for the weekly Panorama. But Panorama -- which, by the way, is owned by Silvio Berlusconi (yes, that Silvio Berlusconi), and which is not exactly a news source with high standards -- didn't print the story because it seemed fake. Nevertheless, after "discussions" at the magazine -- did I mention its owner was Silvio Berlusconi? -- Burba brought the Niger documents to the U.S. Embassy.

As we now know from Spikey, it didn't pass the Google test, either.

This is the caliber of our leadership, folks. They're perfectly happy to let you believe these are just good faith errors made by a fellow who is honest but a bit dyslexic, as long as it distracts folks with the moral question rather than the question of whether he makes a good president. But whichever story you believe, by now we know that whether he is an evil and vicious monster or just a well-meaning but hapless guy whose staff always lets him down, the effect is a series of disasters and we can't afford to have him in the White House. When a guy does this bad a job, you don't need to play wait-and-see until his next performance review more than a year from now. This is a firing offense, and your average employer, even back in the good old days when employers felt some loyalty to their employees, has never felt the necessity to keep someone in place just because their gross incompetence may not have been intentional. Sack him, for godssake.
17:07 BST

Tuesday, 22 July 2003

Defeat the right in three minutes

You're gonna love this:

Have you got three minutes. Because that's all you need to learn how to defeat the Republican Right. Just read through this handy guide and you'll have everything you need to successfully debunk right-wing propaganda.

It's really that simple. First, you have to beat their ideology, which really isn't that difficult. At bottom, conservatives believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots" that I call "corporate feudalism". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology. That ideology is pure hogwash, and you can prove it.

But you have to do more than defeat the ideology. You have to defeat the "drum beat". You have to defeat the "propaganda machine", that brainwashes people with their slogans and catch-phrases. You've heard those slogans."Less government", "personal responsibility" and lots of flag waving. They are "shorthand" for an entire worldview, and the right has been pounding their slogans out into the public domain for getting on forty years.

So you need a really good slogan – a "counter-slogan" really, to "deprogram" the brainwashed.
When you cut right through it, right-wing ideology is just "dime-store economics" – intended to dress their ideology up and make it look respectable. You don't really need to know much about economics to understand it. They certainly don't. It all gets down to two simple words.

"Cheap labor". That's their whole philosophy in a nutshell – which gives you a short and pithy "catch phrase" that describes them perfectly. You've heard of "big-government liberals". Well they're "cheap-labor conservatives".

"Cheap-labor conservative" is a moniker they will never shake, and never live down. Because it's exactly what they are. You see, cheap-labor conservatives are defenders of corporate America – whose fortunes depend on labor. The larger the labor supply, the cheaper it is. The more desperately you need a job, the cheaper you'll work, and the more power those "corporate lords" have over you. If you are a wealthy elite – or a "wannabe" like most dittoheads – your wealth, power and privilege is enhanced by a labor pool, forced to work cheap.

Absolutely do read the rest for a detailed explanation of that phrase and how to apply it. And don't forget to use it in all those letters you're writing to editors and legislators.

(Now, about all those missing question marks....)
23:04 BST

What does she do?

Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler just about had steam coming out of his ears after reading this:

MILBANK/PRIEST: A senior administration official who briefed reporters yesterday said neither Bush nor national security adviser Condoleezza Rice read the NIE in its entirety. "They did not read footnotes in a 90-page document," said the official, referring to the "Annex" that contained the State Department's dissent…The official said Bush was "briefed" on the NIE's contents, but "I don't think he sat down over a long weekend and read every word of it."
"The president of the United States is not a fact-checker," the briefer memorably said at one point. The briefer also clearly stated that Rice had not read the full report.

Why does this matter? In the short term, the briefer was making an improbable claim. He was claiming that, because neither Bush nor Rice read the full report, they had not seen the "footnote" in which the State Department voiced its doubts about the claim that Saddam sought uranium in Niger. The main part of the NIE included a consensus belief of the six agencies involved—Saddam probably had sought uranium in Africa, they judged. But State had lodged a vigorous dissent; the briefer was claiming that Rice hadn't seen it because she hadn't read the entire report.

Who was right about the uranium matter? Here at THE HOWLER, we simply don't know. (Note to readers: Neither do you!) But the notion that Rice didn't read this entire report is, in a phrase, simply shocking. What exactly does Rice do, if she can't be bothered to read 90-page reports—reports laying out the key intelligence which will take a nation to war? Again, the notion that Rice didn't know what State said is, in our view, highly improbable. But if the briefer's claim is taken at face value, Rice has committed an act of gross misfeasance. It's bad enough that Bush didn't read the full report. But if Rice didn't read the full 90 pages—if Rice didn't know what State had said—it's clear that she ought to be fired.

Somerby predicts that this startling revelation will be ignored by the pundit corps (though he notes that Joe Conason did not - but then, he's not one of the big-money pundits.) I haven't looked at the news yet today, so I'll be watching....

Somerby also discusses the apparent suicide of David Kelly and the BBC's turnabout in now saying that he was indeed the sole source for their story. Somerby rightly says that going with a single source is dicey business, but I wonder... was he? I can't think of a better way to protect a source than to shift the burden onto someone who is already dead. And, under the circumstances, that might feel like a moral necessity.
19:03 BST

The AWOL administration

From Media Whores Online:

Better Things To Do
Fundraising Tours, For Example
"The president is not a fact-checker."

- Anonymous White House Bush apologist on why the Unelected Fraud didn't know whether Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Africa

We're now being scolded by White House staffers that Junior and Condi have "better things to do" than to read reports concerning nuclear threats against the US - reports that contain facts that must be known to them if they are to avoid misinforming the American people about matters of life and death.

Like what?

Well, like undoing the New Deal and dismembering the United States Constitution. What, you think that doesn't keep them busy?

(Also see The Horse for an excerpt from The Daily Show on checking your sources.)
18:18 BST

You mean this was just for practice?

Under the heading Burying the Lede, Atrios points to the final paragraphs of a long article in the Los Angeles Times:

Still, he and other Pentagon officials said, they are studying the lessons of Iraq closely — to ensure that the next U.S. takeover of a foreign country goes more smoothly.

"We're going to get better over time," promised Lawrence Di Rita, a special assistant to Rumsfeld. "We've always thought of post-hostilities as a phase" distinct from combat, he said. "The future of war is that these things are going to be much more of a continuum

"This is the future for the world we're in at the moment," he said. "We'll get better as we do it more often."

Christ, how often do we have to do it?

[I also see from Eschaton that Danny Goldberg now has a blog. I wish he'd stop harping on this thing about how the Dems don't know who Radiohead is. My experience talking to university students is that they don't care what I listen to; what they get, in a big way, is that I don't think my personal opinions of individual musicians, movies, or whatever should be injected into the law. I'm a broad who's old enough to be their mom and I don't listen to the radio and I've got college kids telling me I'm cool. Merely being able to identify current musicians doesn't buy that. They already know plenty of people who can identify those musicians who are decidedly not cool. Didn't you, at that age? (Okay, I do happen to listen to Radiohead, but that's an accident. The CDs I've most recently listened to are Beethoven's violin concerto, Buffalo Springfield Again, and a swing collection. Oh, and I listened to Gary U.S. Bonds' Dedication - on vinyl.)]

Come to think of it, there's so much good stuff at Eschaton that I'd like to quote it all. Go there if you haven't been already.
12:04 BST

Made in America

Used to be, I'd be seeing all sorts of shirts on the street bearing some sort of fake American legend on it - I particularly liked the forged University sweatshirts that were apparently made by someone who didn't know where those colleges were and put them in the wrong state. Every t-shirt or pair of jeans on the rack had some sort of red-white-&-blue logo on the label. But things have changed:

Dire States

Americans are used to resentment of their global dominance. Since the war on Iraq, however, this hostility has begun to hit them where it hurts: in corporate balance sheets. David Usborne reports on the backlash being felt in the boardrooms everywhere from McDonald's and Nike to Microsoft and Coca-Cola
The much bigger worry inside boardrooms, from New York to Atlanta and Chicago, has been this: will the unpopularity abroad of George Bush's America - whether we are talking his attack on Iraq or his inaction on global warming - impact on the fundamental appeal of their brands in global markets? And if so, how badly?

Even having to ask the question has been hard. For decades, going back to the Second World War, when British women were clamouring for nylons, Made-in-America has sold, in part, because of what the country has represented - above all, prosperity and capitalist freedom. A pair of Nike trainers could signify dollar-wealth to an Asian slum-dweller. A black-market pair of Levi 501s symbolised protest in Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But what if American products have started to stand for something else? Such as bullying imperialism or intolerance of the rest of the world's problems? Would it be time to suggest to the makers of Marlboro that they tone down their American heritage when selling their cigarettes abroad? Would that spell the end of those big-sky advertisements with open roads and square-jawed guys in cowboy hats?

This is indeed what corporate America has been asking itself, and now it may have the first inkling of an answer. According to a report just completed by the New York consulting firm RoperASW, the value of America's favourite brands abroad is showing unmistakable signs of slippage. For now, at least, it is just possible that selling a product inextricably linked with Uncle Sam and the Stars and Stripes may be more of a liability than a boon.
Of the top 10 global US-based firms, only one saw an increase in its brand-power compared with a year earlier. All of the others were either unchanged, which is bad enough, or in negative territory. This is the fifth year that the same survey has been carried out. And 2003 is the first time that American companies have seen their brand-power starting to sink. By contrast, the survey shows gains for the best-known non-US brands.

No matter how you slice it, Bush has been just great for the economy. Just not ours. (Via Skippy.)
10:06 BST

Monday, 21 July 2003


In 'Lyndon B. Bush'?, Eric Alterman says the truth will set us free. A favorite bit: Meanwhile, Ari Fleischer's personal flack, the Washington Post's Howie Kurtz, tried to blame the entire outcry on "the left," as in: "The left is now up in arms about one sentence in George Bush's last State of the Union speech." (Just "one sentence." Just one war. Just how silly can we leftists be?)

Ariana: Suddenly everyone is asking: What didn't the president know, and why didn't he know it? And why does he know less and less every day?

Just in case you've been wondering how Ari the Liar's replacement is doing, check out Tapped to see what happens when someone tries to get him to answer the question, "Isn't the President responsible for the words that come out of his own mouth?" Says Tapped: You can sort of see all the Fleischerisms at work. Tapped especially loves the whole "we've addressed this, and I think the American people appreciate that we've addressed this" line of argument. But basically what you have here, as others have noted, is McClellan refusing to say that President Bush is responsible for the words that come out of his own mouth, which in its own way is far more damaging than a hundred left-wing magazine articles questioning the president's intelligence and curiosity. The bucks stops . . . over there somewhere.

And now you should just go read Skippy, who as you know, invented that phrase. (Well, actually, it's a word rather than a phrase, but he seems to have a Thing going there....)
19:31 BST

The Arts

I see Frank Rich is re-running all the tired old RNC spin again. Yes, it's the ever-popular Liberals Are Boring gag, complete with nonsense about how they're all so dull on the radio. Look, Frank, if the radio station owners wanted to have entertaining liberals on the radio, there'd be entertaining liberals on the radio. The reason there are almost no entertaining liberals on the radio is because they fire liberals, even when they have the top-rated shows. Rich even makes another stupid crack about how Al Gore's "show business résumé consists mainly of having not been an inspiration for Love Story while at Harvard." Well, you're wrong, Frank. Not only did Erich Segal base the character of Oliver on his two old college chums, Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore, but he's even done a little stand-up comedy.

All your radio are belong to us: American Stranger and Symbolman of Take Back the Media are now doing a weekly "radio" show that they apparently upload every Saturday. It's available in Flash, RealPlayer, or MediaPlayer streams.

Last week I nearly posted an Ananova item about Metallica until I noticed the article had been taken down. It appears Unfaith created the rumor that Metallica was suing them for trademark infringement on the E,F chord combination. Here's the Yahoo story. I give points to Unfaith for knowing a good joke when they see it.

Bartcop gives a rare three stars to this Boondocks strip.
15:35 BST

Dim Lights & Bright Lights

All over the world, people read about weird stuff - Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) sightings, a rain of fish, strange-looking animals, really stupid criminals and other bizarre behavior, and sometimes even stuff that's just plain wonderful - and send it to Fortean Times. A lot of people don't get that FT is not "a flying saucer magazine". It's actually a pretty funny publication, and though they don't take the purely critical view of magazines like The Skeptic, they don't treat the material as fact, either. We were amused by this in the new issue, for example:

John Sullivan was ordered to do community service in New Zealand last February after he was caught speeding semi-naked down a road on a motorised bar stool with his bottom on fire. He admitted he had "had a few" on the night in question. He claimed the stool could reach 50mph (80km/h) - and set his arse on fire using a rolled up newspaper. Irish Independent, 1 Mar 2003.
But what really caught my eye were the gorgeous photographs by Jorma Luhta of the Aurora Borealis. Unfortunately, I don't believe these are available online, but I did find a few on his page that weren't too bad.

Jorma Luhta

Which got me in the mood for more, so I had a look at The Aurora Page. I think my favorite of the ones I found, though, comes from this page:

Click for full-sized version.

But I definitely recommend seeing the ones that FT published in the current issue, which are truly beautiful.
03:17 BST

Sunday, 20 July 2003

An unpopular law, enforced with vigor has Daniel Forbes' Halting Drug Reform up, going over the current state of play:

Drug reformers of varying stripes embrace different goals, from the widely supported decriminalization of medical marijuana to relieve the pain of cancer, wasting from AIDS, or the spasticity of multiple sclerosis to the legalization of recreational pot, the distribution of clean needles to addicts and the mandating of treatment rather than incarceration for low-level drug offenders.

Though there's been scattered progress on these goals around the country in recent years, overall, especially on the federal level, interdiction and incarceration remain the goal if not always the reality. Handcuffed by his foolish, glib remark about not inhaling, Bill Clinton never dared veer from the prohibitionist mindset. While George W. Bush gives lip service to treatment, on his watch Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents point rifles at Suzanne Pfeil, a paraplegic in California. When she was unable to rise at the agents' command, they handcuffed her to her bed while proceeding to destroy the medicine growing in a garden outside. This is repression with a decidedly uncompassionate face.
House Republicans tried to slip in legislation re-authorizing the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) provisions that would have allowed Drug Czar John P. Walters to use the five-year, $1.2 billion ad campaign as he wished, to defeat future ballot measures or even individual candidates the White House opposed. When a sharp-eyed lobbyist at the Drug Policy Alliance spotted the hidden provisions, reformers raised holy heck, and these particular abuses were blocked.

That doesn't change the fact that -- since by statute ONDCP buys all its ads at half-price -- there'll be something approaching $400 million in social marketing flooding the media annually over the next five years. Given that the entire beer industry spends approximately $1 billion a year on overall marketing, think of the sheer heft of nearly 40 percent of the beer effort. No wonder the Democrats on that House committee revolted at the prospect of Walters running free with that kind of money.

And the Bush administration has kept the heat on by asking the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court ruling that, while forbidding the writing of prescriptions, did allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana. The Clinton administration lost the case on free speech grounds, and only now is the Bush Department of Justice trying to appeal. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, doctors could still have such discussions with patients, provided they indicated pot is illegal and that "federal authorities consider it dangerous and medically useless, and that the doctor is not recommending it." A very curious discussion indeed. Should the administration prevail before the Supremes, that would throw out the practical underpinnings of current medical marijuana use in states throughout the West and Maine.

Additionally, the Bush nominee to run the DEA, Karen Tandy, indicated to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has just sent her nomination to the full Senate, that her DEA will enforce the federal laws against medical marijuana.

Well, at least the Democrats have been good for something, but let's not forget this:
Drug hawk Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) tied his anti-rave legislation -- which had been blocked last year -- to the tail of a child abuse alert law, and it sailed right through. Within a month, a cowboy DEA agent in, appropriately enough, Billings, Montana, threatened a fraternal lodge with a potential $250,000 fine should anyone at a medical marijuana 'battle of the bands' fund-raiser be caught smoking a joint. After a (small) outcry from the press, the DEA's egg-on-face, backpedaling statements that the agent was just warning the lodge about potential overcrowding and the like (neat that the DEA now provides guidance on fire codes) doesn't rectify the fact that a political benefit was canceled.
But why the focus on drugs? Why the willingness to ruin the lives of kids who've only smoked a little pot?
To the degree democracy reigns in America, the federal strategy of demonizing drugs, particularly marijuana, makes sense. Yet recent polling indicates that the drug warriors are plugging holes in the dike of public opinion while water slops over the top. Nearly 80 percent of the country consistently favors medical marijuana. Even subtracting medicine from the equation the feds are still fighting uphill. According to a recent Zogby poll, 41 percent of Americans think the government should treat marijuana like alcohol; as the poll put it, the government "should regulate it, control it, tax it and only make it illegal for children." This is a significant rise from a 2001 Gallup poll that found 34 percent in favor of legalization. Said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, "No other criminal law on the books in this country is enforced so vigorously, yet backed by such a small majority of Americans."
So it's not even good electoral politics, really. So why do it? Well, as the article points out, forced commercial rehab for any kid who gets caught with one joint means a lot of money for the enterprising. And then there's the lucrative prison field....
21:51 BST


Johann at CoherenceTheoryOfTruth has a little list of the qualities he looks for in a president - like the ability to defend his positions in his own words, and the willingness to answer questions. And:

He must have a history of accomplishment and success. He must be better, smarter, tougher, and more ambitious than me. He must be a great man since the office, greater and more powerful by the day, demands it.
Yeah, what he said. I want a president who can do the job well enough that I don't find myself wondering why I'm not collecting his paycheck instead.
16:36 BST

This week at Hugo Zoom

In honor of Ari's departure, Hugo celebrated by googling:

"Fleischer" and "Orwellian": 1340 citations,
"Fleischer" and "lies": 25,300,
"Fleischer" and "bullshit": 2800.
I only found 126 for "Ari the Liar".

Hugo quotes from a Todd Gitlin piece in Salon:

Underneath, what Nader voters really wanted was to vent their feelings," he writes. "The purity of their feelings matters so much to them that they are still washing their hands of the consequences ... This is narcissism wearing a cloak of ideals.
And he also finds news that the French have banned the word e-mail. (Psst! Hugo! Get a real mail-reader.)
16:01 BST

Bribery Report

And, in this case, it didn't work. The Likely Story has the news:

Do you remember when India refused Rummy's invitation to send a division of troops to Iraq a few days ago? When that story broke I wondered what payment Rummy had offered to this member of the Coalition of the Billing. Thanks to Karl, I don't have to wonder anymore. The details, from a news item in the Indian press, are fascinating:

Be bold, US said, show ‘1998 (Pokharan) guts'

New Delhi, July 17: Yours is a BJP government, you took the risk in 1998 (Pokharan II), take the initiative now as well. We know you may ask for UN cover or cite domestic concerns. We can get a UN cover but if you send troops right now, that will strengthen our friendship.

This was Washington's message—which included a string of incentives as well—that New Delhi chose to reject when it decided not to send troops to Iraq earlier this week.

BJP is Bharatiya Janata Party, the political party of Vajpayee. Pokharan II is a reference to India's first nuclear test in 1998, thrusting it into the fraternity of nuclear powers. In this lame, cheesy attempt at persuasion, Rummy is praising the Indian government for taking the "risk" of arming itself with weapons of mass destruction. What the heck ever happened to non-proliferation?
In return for India's support, the US was willing to:
  • Accommodate an Indian army general as liaison officer at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida as well as post 35 Indian officers at its command and control headquarters in Iraq.
  • Offer progress on the "trinity issues": nuclear, hi-tech and space cooperation. Implied in this was that like Russia and France, US would be more accommodating towards India when it came to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for transfer of critical technologies..
  • Pick up the estimated $300-million tab for troop deployment..
  • Help India recover its investments made during the Saddam regime as well as get a share of the economic reconstruction efforts in Iraq..
But Vajpayee turned it all down: Help on the "trinity issues," $300 million bribe, er, payment for the troops, recovery of India's investments in Iraq, and a share of the postwar economic booty. One wonders if the White House will follow its normal standards and practices and smear Vajpayee, perhaps leaking to the usual smear-mongers that he is gay, and actually a Canadian.
But that wouldn't be much of a stick by Bush standards. Well, at least now we know what the carrots looked like.

At Eschaton, Leah posts an article from Asia Times that concentrates on US displeasure:

The Bush administration is known to have a vindictive streak. It reacts strongly to countries that don't cooperate in its imperialist ventures. Even before India's decision to reject the US request, William Triplett, former Republican counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: "A 'No' from India will have an impact although no one will say so in public. The adults in the administration are thought to be more than a bit put out by the Indian parliament's resolution on Iraq, especially its timing. Showing that the Indian army are rolling up their sleeves to help out now will pay dividends with the Americans later."

George Perkovich, vice-president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, believes with other analysts that this administration does not forget easily. He commented earlier: "The administration would be angry or at least disappointed, and if India sends troops, it would be bailing out the Republicans from a growing crisis of occupation without international partners."

Pretty much everyone takes it for granted that "the adults" will have a tantrum about not getting their way. In my family, the adults used to remind me that, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar." I always used to wonder what I'd want to catch flies for, but perhaps young Mr. Bush would have benefitted from this advice. Leah comments:
It's not as if the US press hasn't reported the various stories that illustrate the confusion of "vindictive" with "strong" that runs through-out the Bush foreign policy. In fact, the essence of the Bush doctrine is its willingness to coerce compliance with a Pax Americana.

You just don't see any of our pundits noticing in quite the open way we see here. But maybe that's beginning to change?

God, I hope so.
08:02 BST

Lie Report

Mark Fiore sums it up: Damage Control
(Via Byrd's Brain.)
07:33 BST

Saturday, 19 July 2003

Political stuff

Oliver Willis discusses The Return Of The Democrats

For once, the Democrats have cut down on the internal eternal party bickering and focused on the president and his duplicity. Even the presidential campaign rivals are united in their derision of the president's fuzzy reading. This drives the right mad. Since the disaster of the Carter presidency, the shoe has been on the other foot. Emboldened by Reagan's popularity, then riled by Clinton's victory, the right has had a well-honed and fined tuned media and policy apparatus that has tried everything to make their ideas into America's "default" positions. President Clinton so successfully fought off this attack that they had to resort to impeachment over his affair to wound him, and were soundly rebuked by America for going off the edge of reason. The 2000 election was just a more fine-tuned version of this jihad mentality.

The uranium scandal has given the Democrats an opening, and where in the past they may have passed it up (since national security is supposed to be devoid of domestic politics) it seems they realize that to get ahead they must play a similar game to the Republicans. It's a good start, but only a start.

MWO is reporting a new CNN/Time poll that shows Bush's approval numbers down again, by more than 10% since the previous week (from 66% to 55%). His disapproval numbers rose from 33% to 40%. The Horse also notes that Democrats are finally going after Bush on his credibility, and the media is at last treating it as more than just politics. Which leads to these questions:
But why did our "guardians of democracy," who are supposed to stand between the people and corrupt, anti-democratic power abusers, prop Governor Bush up for so long as someone who would "restore honor and dignity" to the White House prior to the election theft, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever?

Why did they prop the former Texas governor up as a competent leader after the terrorist attacks, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever?

Why have "liberals" like Nicholas Kristof taken pains to include caveats in their articles exposing the Bush regime's corruption, making clear they are not daring to doubt Bush's truthfulness, purity of motive, and general good faith - when they have every objective reason to doubt all of the above?

What, exactly, did Graham and other public officials, as well as nearly every member of the mainstream media, expect from a known election thief but dishonesty, destruction, and disgrace?

What accounts for their bizarre, ostrich-like behavior that is just now beginning to abate?

These questions will continue to confound as the Bush scandals continue to intensify.

Unfortunately, hundreds of young US servicemen who would be alive today but for the media's disgraceful performance in the 2000 campaign and subsequent complicity in the election theft have already paid the most severe of consequences for the complete corruption of American journalism.

They also cover the story of the soldiers who spoke on the record about their distaste for Rumsfeld and the Republicans. Says MWO:
The refrain from Bush apologists is "They knew what they were signing up for." But that isn't altogether true. Those who signed up during the Clinton years did so with the knowledge that their civilian leaders were responsible, intelligent, sane, and moral. They could not have imagined they would become "pawns in a game" (as one soldier put it) - the deadly game being carrying out the delusional global fantasies of a crowd of rabid, dishonorable and undignified geriatric neocon chickenhawks pulling the strings of an incompetent and unelected puppet. (All in the name of 3000 voiceless victims of 9/11 who, to the puppet and his regime strategists, represent 3000 political opportunities.)
While I agree with that assessment, I have to confess to being a bit queasy about soldiers making public political statements while serving in uniform. I realize that all the rules have already been broken by Bush and his supporters (including those in the military) as far back as during the 2000 campaign (and why didn't anyone seem to be questioning the purely political deployment of a ship as a backdrop for a Bush campaign appearance at a time when the Commander in Chief was President Clinton and Bush had no role in the federal government at all?), but the idea of a politicized military that can act in opposition to a sitting government gives me nightmares. That is not, of course, what these soldiers are suggesting, but it still makes me nervous that they are being encouraged to express their political beliefs this way. Although I suppose it is still better than having Jesse Helms purporting to do that by proxy.

Reading Josh Marshall on the details of the growing political scandal made me think (in my highly tangential fashion) about how often in the last year I have seen examples of people who opposed the invasion of Iraq lumped together with every pacifist and flower-child who ever lived. I can't help but notice that painting Joseph Wilson as an anti-war ideologue seems to be at least hinted at in a lot of the BushCo spin against him.

At Eschaton (where the Farmer has posted some timely quotes about Mussolini's Italy), Lambert recommends sending Republican Thug Bill Thomas a fruitcake after astonishing developments in the House Ways and Means Committee which include Thomas actually calling the police about "a disturbance" when Democrats objected to his heavy-handedness. Apparently, our brave Republican leaders were in fear for their safety at the hands of 71-year-old Rep. Pete Stark, who had actually had the temerity to disagree with them.

And in case anyone is wondering, it was all about changing the rules regulating pensions - one of the things Republicans are doing for you is reducing the degree to which your pensions are protected. The Republicans are now able to operate under new rules in which "economic efficiency" (that is, the ability of large corporations to do whatever they want) overrules all other considerations. Under NAFTA and GATS, this is pretty much becoming international law. This is what those "anti-globalization" protesters are really on about - it's not globalization they mind, it's the fact that the WTO and World Bank have been wrecking half the world with this stuff, and now the United States itself is signing on in a big way. We've seen some of this already in California, of course, where they adopted the same privatization program that had already been a debacle in Britain; but it's not just about oil, it's about water, too. It's a real free-market, and that means that when powerful, non-elective entities make contracts with the people to deliver services for far higher sums of money than it had cost the state to do the same job, the commercial entities don't really have to deliver because that would be "restraint of trade". This also applies, of course, to agreements employers make with their employees. I know this sounds like hyperbole, but I'm actually understating the case.

This highlights a problem I keep waiting for libertarians to see, which is that being free to make contracts is a bit of a joke if you are "freely" making those contracts with people who are so powerful that they simply don't have to live up to their side of the bargain. (For that matter, it's a bit of a joke to pretend that those contracts are always entered into "freely"; when your livelihood is on the line, especially in a tightening economy, you are really signing those contracts under duress.)

The conventional lie is that the difference between liberals and conservatives is that the former believe in government and the latter don't, but that's bollocks. In reality, nobody in their right mind trusts government all that much, but the conservative model puts the wealthy elite in charge of government, and the liberal model uses government to keep the wealthy elite from trampling us. "Libertarians" are fast recreating a time when all of the big gangs (government, corporations, even religious institutions) operate in concert (with pretend "competition") - against the rest of us.

Well, anyway, lie coverage notwithstanding, not everything about Bush is being looked at anew. The double-standard is still in force, and I think it proves once and for all that all those excuses about how the press is just out for big stories that sell papers was just a lot of hooey. (Here's a story that goes into that a little more deeply. You think Democrats have dirty secrets? They're nothing compared to the ones the press overlooks from the Republicans.)

What can you do? Well, I suppose you could sign this petition, but petitions don't really accomplish all that much and I'd really much rather you wrote to your reps and the media to let them know how you feel about touch-screen voting and a lot of other things.
18:46 BST

Is it really this bad?

Media Cover-up starts like this:

This is a two-page summary of fascinating accounts by 18 award-winning journalists from the book Into the Buzzsaw, edited by Kristina Borjesson. All of these writers were prevented by corporate media ownership from reporting major, incredibly revealing news. Some were even fired or laid off. These journalists have won numerous awards, including several Emmys and a Pulitzer. Help create a better world by spreading this news across the land.

Jane Akrehas—Fox News. After our struggle to air an honest report, Fox fired the general manager [of our station]. The new GM said that if we didn't agree to changes that the lawyers were insisting upon, we'd be fired for insubordination in 48 hours. We pleaded with [him] to look at the facts we'd uncovered. His reply: "We paid $3 billion dollars for these TV stations. We'll tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is!" [After we refused,] Fox's general manager presented us an agreement that would give us a full year of salary, and benefits worth close to $200,000 in "consulting jobs," but with strings attached: no mention of how Fox covered up the story and no opportunity to ever expose the facts. [After declining] we were fired. P. 43-45, 49

Well, that doesn't seem so surprising. But then you discover that it's not just Fox. It's pretty much everyone.
12:48 BST

via Alas, a blog; image cropped to comply with my formatting

12:12 BST

Friday, 18 July 2003


It was already shaping up to be an exciting week. Spooks and unnamed sources and unidentified actors were coming out of the closet to point the finger. Tenet pretended to fall on his sword, but in such a way that Condi Rice herself was implicated. No one was buying it anyway - the idea that Bush doesn't know what his staff is up to doesn't actually make him look any more "presidential" than knowing he is complicit in crafting the lies that come out of his mouth. If he's even too lazy to read the newspapers, he doesn't even qualify as a half-decent CEO; I mean, what kind of executive doesn't even read what the business pages say about his own company? The White House is his company, and intelligence is one of its vital functions. You really need to know when your stock is about to tank, and the newspapers and even some of the broadcast media have been analyzing the WMD situation in Iraq for more than a year; bit late to figure out now that the evidence for WMD was pretty thin.

Then I come home last night, thinking I should really get around to blogging some of the interesting stuff I didn't have time for earlier, but when I check the headlines at I'm startled to see another story trying to push the blame lower down the CIA chain with Tenet now telling the Senate intel committee that he'd never actually seen the final draft of the State of the Union address. Whoa! Hey, take your eye off that ball! It's not like the White House had any responsibility or anything. The hawks and Bushistas are spinning for all they're worth, as usual, but it doesn't seem to be flying this time. People are even calling for Cheney's resignation, talking about Condi having to go spend more time with her family. Oh, my.

I see Kristof is actually talking about "the broader pattern of dishonesty and delusion that helped get us into the Iraq mess". Even Broder is coming close to calling a spade a spade. Morford, of course, was never blinded, but he thinks he can smell blood and asks, "Is now the time?"

Then there's the item in the Guardian that says Blair supported the invasion because he already knew that "President George W Bush v Saddam Hussein - would happen whatever anyone else said or did," so there was no point in opposing it.

Hell, Palast, who I see now has a weblog, even has the goods on why no one can find the documentation on Lt. Bush's mysteriously spotty military career:

"I was in the General's office, General Daniel James …. He gets a telephone call from Joe Albaugh, who was the Governor's chief of staff, and Dan Bartlett … on the voice box … and they wanted General James to assemble all of the Governor's files, that [Karen Hughes, Bush's aide] was going to write a book…. But Joe told General James, 'Make sure there's not anything in there that'll embarrass the Governor.'"

And there wouldn't be. Burkett asked if the general's staff really intended to purge the files; and sure enough, as evidence of the affirmative reply, he was shown the piles of pay and pension records in the garbage pails destined for the shredders. Colonel Burkett did not run off with those files so we can only conclude this: the only evidence that Bush showed up for duty during the war is now missing. Military pay records are public records – and now they are conveniently unavailable.

So, it was like a dam breaking, yeah? It's all coming out, now.

And then I get to this from David Corn:

Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security--and break the law--in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?
The answer appears to be, "Yes." Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson speaks up as the person who had originally been sent to Niger at Dick Cheney's request and come back saying the uranium story was full of holes, and then suddenly "senior administration officials" are just happening to mention to Robert Novak that Wilson's wife does work on WMD for the CIA.

What? Anyone who has ever gone to the movies or watched TV must know that you just never, never, never publicly expose someone's connection to the CIA.

I grew up in the DC suburbs, and that means most of the kids I went to school with had parents working for some part of the US government, just like both of my parents did (my dad was working for the Department of the Interior and my mom was at NIH). Some of those kids were a bit evasive when asked where in the government their parents worked. I think a lot of them must've lied outright, because it was easier. But sooner or later, if you knew someone fairly well, they gave you a chance to trap them. When I was skipping class on the back parking lot with a couple of friends and one of them asked the other, "What does your father do?" and the response was, "He works for the government," I knew I'd found one. No one in the DC area says their folks work "for the government," because it's so common that you almost know that part before you ask. They'll tell you what building they work in ("the Pentagon") or they'll tell you what they do ("research"), but they know they can't get away with "for the government". On the other hand, you never hear someone say they work "for the CIA". The only people who'll ever tell you that they're doing something even remotely related to something clandestine are people who aren't used to it; everyone else knows to keep their mouth shut, and their kids know not to talk about it, too.

I would expect "senior officials" to know the same. Aside from anything else, it's illegal. Seriously. Ten years in jail worth of illegal. What were they thinking? It's almost as if they wanted to announce to the world that they don't take national security seriously. (But we knew that, right?)

Or like they wanted to announce to other CIA agents that any bean-spilling could cost them a similar reprisal. (It reminds me a little of Joanna Russ' warning that homophobia isn't there to keep queers in line, it's there to keep everyone else in line.)

These are some nasty, nasty people we're dealing with.

The Time story is here. Mark Kleiman has more, and there are some interesting comment threads on this at CalPundit and Electrolite. And I'm just boggled.
15:44 BST

Thursday, 17 July 2003

The Front-Runner

Over at The Chicago Sun-Times, William O'Rourke says that By running, Gore could help Dems define themselves:

Al Gore should reconsider his decision not to run for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2004. Why? Look around at what is happening to the Democrats since Gore bowed out last December: the party splintering into its demographic pieces, name-calling among the jostling group running, conflicting and contradictory policies being touted.
If Gore had chosen to run again, he would have done his party a great service, even if he ultimately lost. Whereas, if the Democratic nominee, other than Gore, loses to Bush in 2004, he will have set the party back in terms of the presidency for perhaps a generation.

Gore could, finally, run a strong, free-wheeling, pure campaign, stating forthrightly what he and the Democratic Party stand for. All the present candidates, including Dean, squirm around tough questions, not wanting to alienate the so-called swing voter. The current candidates have to pretend to run as if they can win, so their vacillations are to be expected, if not tolerated.

On the other hand, Gore could eschew that. He won the popular vote once already. He may not be able to win it again, but he certainly could make it clear how the Democratic Party is different from the Republican Party, how he is different from Bush, which would help the party in 2008. Thanks to a press corps that liked George W. more than they liked Al, and to the nattering campaign of Ralph Nader, turning Democrats green--not with envy but motion sickness--that difference was sufficiently blurred in 2000. Gore would remind the electorate of all the things that should not be forgotten. Unfortunately, President Bush's weaknesses are found in the past, not, alas, in the future.

I'm not entirely sure what he means by that last sentence; there are certainly campaigning weaknesses that went away for Bush the moment the press decided to give the election to him even though they knew he'd lost - because already being in the White House is always a stronger position than being a challenger - and 9/11 gave Bush an edge in controlling the debate at a time when he was in fact highly vulnerable to criticism. But as more and more people begin to understand the shambles he has made of national security, he has weaknesses no one expected back in the days when we all thought he would at least have good advisors to steer him away from any serious trouble. Clearly, those people have failed him in that respect, and as the press comes at least partly out of its stupor, the possibility exists that they will not be cutting him the kind of slack they did in 2000.

But the article is certainly correct that Gore's decision not to run has hurt more than helped. The problem is that for Gore to be able to make a credible run, the party leadership will have to get over itself and get behind him. This has been Gore's biggest liability all along - the fact that so many of the people who should be trying to position the party for a win are instead concerned with positioning themselves for the nomination, thus weakening our chances both in 2000 and today. Frankly, I'm not sure they are serious enough to avoid a similar mistake if someone they aren't in love with receives the party nomination.

One of Dean's assets is that, for all his much-mooted ambition for himself, he projects "We have to get Bush out and get our country back" more than he projects "I want to get into the White House." You sure can't say that about Lieberman, who doesn't appear to be aware that something has gone wrong. He seems to support Bush so much that you have to wonder why he is in the race at all. If we've already got a perfectly good president, why should we elect someone else? Only because Lieberman has personal ambitions? That's certainly no reason to vote for him.

I don't mean to suggest that Dean is not ambitious, but then, people who aren't ambitious don't usually make it to the White House. The complaint we heard about Gore was that, "He didn't want to win enough." But at least Gore wanted to be the President of the United States rather than just play the role at a few ceremonial functions like his opponent. It's clear that it was more than just an ego-trip for him; he really wanted to do the job.

And Gore, more than any other candidate, is a man who habitually talks about the future, about building things, about hope. He actually comes up with ideas, proposes plans that will make good things happen. You are reading this, you have an e-mail address, because Al Gore wrote legislation and held hearings and tirelessly promoted the Internet; can any other candidate claim to have done anything of such consequence?

Well, yes, there's one: George Bush, who has certainly done things of consequence. He's made us fearful and he's made us the most untrusted nation in the world. He's crippled the states, he's wrecking our economy, he's depriving us of our hard-earned pensions, he's making new laws to undo every protection ordinary working people have won for themselves. Oh, yeah, and he started a war that got lots of people killed for no legitimate reason. (Normally I wouldn't have included the phrase "got lots of people killed," since y'know, that's what war does, but it seems people lately are surprised by the fact that war causes death. People who think wars don't have negative consequences really ought to serve a couple of years as a buck private in a war zone before they open their mouths. They definitely shouldn't be called "Commander in Chief".)

Okay, I'm still irritated with Gore for announcing, even before the deadline he'd set for himself (Why?) that he wouldn't run. I think he should have stayed in the limelight as long as possible just to make sure someone would be there to field the questions that a Democratic leadership ought to be answering (and which no one seems interested in asking anyone else). And that's exactly the kind of thing that makes people worry about whether Gore can actually do what's necessary to win a campaign. Even so, he's still the front runner in any poll asking Democrats to name the person they'd really like to see win the nomination. Even at the regular fantasy poll, he is still in the lead:

Al Gore 784
Howard Dean 636
Hillary Rodham Clinton 378
Wesley Clark 245
Jimmy Carter 244
Martin Sheen 222
Debbie Stabenow 215
Jesse Jackson Jr. 205
Bill Moyers 176
James Carville 172
Michael Moore 172
Bob Graham 165
Dennis Kucinich 164
Tim Robbins 160
George Mitchell 151
Robert Byrd 140
Molly Ivins 137
Ann Richards 137
Jim Hightower 132
Russ Feingold 131
Maxine Waters 119
Tom Harkin 115
Carol Moseley-Braun 115
John Kerry 92
But oh, you say, there are those all-important swing-voters.


When you hear the phrase "swing- voters", you should be thinking "media". Not that the media themselves are swing-voters, but that what the media does is what is going to have the strongest effect on swing-voters. And we already know about the media, right? The media that's been trying to tell us all year that Lieberman is the best nominee? The media that we already know is going to suck up RNC spin like it's delivered by God on the mount? The media that's going to trash anyone who gets the Democratic nomination?

Well, you won't beat that little problem by nominating an "electable" candidate who can't think on his feet in a debate, who doesn't fight back, and - this is important - whose campaign is unwilling to get party activists, including the party left, to do the same kind of work (only honest) that the Republican activists have done for their party over the last decade. Dean has certainly come closest to that prescription so far. Gore didn't do it last time, and we have no way of knowing whether the lessons of 2000 have taught him the urgency of getting motivated activists - and young people - involved in the process of fight-back.

But at least he could lay out a plan, talk up the issues, say what needs to be said. We need more of that right now. And the splintered nature of the field doesn't really help things. It would just be so nice if the DLC would get their heads out of their backsides and stop getting in the way.
17:17 BST

Someone finally said it

If you scroll to the bottom of this Hardball transcript to the exchange between Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Dick Armey, you can see the rest of this:

VANDEN HEUVEL: But could I just add, first of all, it’s not simply about what we now know is a lie about this quest for nuclear material.

But we also know that we have not yet found weapons of mass destruction. And even if we do find some wagon, even if we do, those will not have posed an imminent and grave threat for our security.

And finally, might I add, the whole issue of this administration’s preemptive war doctrine, the heart of its foreign policy doctrine, is now lies in tatters. Because we see the manipulation of intelligence. We see a faith-based foreign policy.

They want the answers and they seek the intelligence to support the answers. How can we have a preemptive war doctrine if we have manipulated evidence?

BARNICLE: Go ahead.

ARMEY: You make a sow’s ear out of a sow’s ear.

Here, let me just tell you something. There is a difference between me telling you something that I believe to be true that turns out not to have been true, than me saying, "I did not have sex with that woman" when I know damn good and well it was true.

So don't be getting into this business of talking about which presidents did what lying to the American people. You might end up with a lot of egg on your face.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Representative Armey, to talk about sex at this time when we have servicemen dying in Iraq...

ARMEY: Oh, right.

VANDEN HEUVEL: ... on the basis of a lie. To make those two parallels is obscene.

ARMEY: Give me a break, lady. What’s the difference between lying about one subject and lying about another?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Have you no sense of decency? Have you no sense of decency?

ARMEY: Have you no sense of perspective? We're talking about whether or not a president purposely tells a lie or a president tells something that he later finds out quite frankly, I'm sure, to his disappointment and anger, was not true at the time he said it?

And here is Vanden Heuvel saying she got "scores" of e-mails after her appearance, from people expressing their disgust at Armey.
01:42 BST

Black Box Voting

This is a request Bartcop has been running on his page:

Bart, would you please run this for a few days?

The California Secretary of State has extended the deadline for public comment on electronic voting machines issues until the end of July. If they do this right, California may be able to set a standard the rest of the country will follow, so even if you are not a California resident, your input will still be important.

Submit your comments: Write to:

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley
Attn: Touch Screen Report
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Send email to:

Fax comments to: (916) 653-9675

It's actually pretty important that people let their legislators know that they don't want voting with no paper trail in their state.
00:22 BST

Wednesday, 16 July 2003

Martin Sheen interview

In The Progressive:

Q: When has it become criminal to express yourself in this country?

Sheen: Right now.

Q: What's your reaction to your critics in the media?

Sheen: Their opinions are very lucrative to them; mine are very expensive to me and my family. That is the difference.
Sheen: I have been accused of being a traitor, and I have been accused of not supporting the military. Nothing could be further from the truth. The leaders are the ones who make the decisions. The soldiers do not have the choice. I support the soldiers as human beings. This Administration has led us into an area without vision. Bush has no clear understanding of what is being asked of the citizens, and the military is under his direction.
Q: How did being a golf caddie affect you as a boy?

Sheen: Those years on the golf course as a caddie, boy, those people were something. They were vulgar, some were alcoholics, racist, they were very difficult people to deal with. A lot of them didn't have a sense of humor. They didn't know your name. It was always "caddie." This was before golf carts were used. If they needed to play, they were either going to hire a caddie or pull one of those rolling carts themselves. They weren't about to carry them when they could get you to carry them for a few dollars. Some of them were so cheap, selfish, and stingy. They taught me so much [laughs]. I am so grateful to those people. Because the bottom line was, for me, I thought, don't let me become that! It was one of those valuable lessons about what not to be, what not to do, how not to do something. They were ignorant, arrogant people, and they thought they were very charming and thought they had the world by the tail, with all the money and power they had.

(Via Bartcop.)
16:30 BST

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Watch

The Right Christians has found something curious:

While I was researching and enjoying the story about the divisions within the Christian Right over how to respond to Lawrence v. Texas, I came upon what I first thought was a curiosity. A group calling itself the Alliance for Marriage has positioned itself as the foremost proponent of the Federal Marriage Amendment. This proposed federal Constitutional amendment is short and simple:
"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."
While deceptively packaged as a defense of states' rights, the amendment would undo any state constitutional rights to equal protection asserted by advocates of gay marriage along with the federal Full Faith and Credit Clause that now requires one state to recognize the legal acts, like marriage or divorce, of another. Even Christian Right lawyer and recently resigned president of the Family Research Council has expressed reluctance to back the FMA. "There's nothing wrong with the Constitution," Connor said in an interview with the New York Times.
There's nothing surprising here so far. It's just another branch of the Christian Right spreading fear and hate. But wait. Look at the board of the Alliance for Marriage. There's prominent civil rights leader Dr. Walter Fauntroy. There's highly respected Evangelical social activist Ron Sider. Harvard Law School professor and communitarian Catholic Mary Ann Glendon is on the board. Reform Rabbi Clifford Librach, who helped work out a compromise on the blessing of same-sex unions for Reform Jews, is included. Finally, there is Richard John Neuhaus, who was trained in the conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, left for the more liberal E. L. C. A. and finally became a Catholic priest. Neuhaus established an extraordinary early record as an inner-city pastor and champion of civil rights. The stated mission of the Alliance reflects what we might expect from such a board: progressive reforms that support families. A Federal Marriage Amendment is not mentioned among these mission goals.

People like Falwell and Robertson are nowhere to be found. Yet Matt Daniels, who presumably reports to this distinguished board, is quite comfortable in Christian Right circles. A few weeks back, he was a guest on Focus on the Family radio. Rick Santorum is one of his big fund-raisers. What's going on here?

The punch-line takes you down the money trail to the usual suspects, I'm afraid. And yes, I do mean I'm afraid.
14:00 BST

Still doin' it

Electrolite links an NYT article about The Fugs, the group that tried to exorcise the Pentagon with the Yippies, who are putting out another album. As you may remember, we are big fans of the Fugs here at The Sideshow, and we've even had some correspondence with the one and only Tuli Kupferberg, who told us that they are still recording and that there was more to come. We are sure they will not be hyped by Clear Channel.

[The Sideshow reserves the right to refer to ourselves in the plural on the grounds that our staff includes a Death doll, an extremely ancient Raggedy Ann, and a Cuddly Cthulu.]
13:05 BST

Divisionist Leadership Council

At, Robert Borosage:

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) has made its way by sowing division in the Democratic party. So it comes as no surprise that on July 2, its founder Al From and new president Bruce Reed ventured yet again into the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal to warn its readers of the perils of a liberal Democratic presidential nominee. Given its location and its platitudes, the article should be viewed more as a fundraising pitch to the DLC’s corporate sponsors than a serious political analysis.

From and Reed argue that Democrats can win only if they "seize the vital center, not veer left." By definition, a winner of an election has forged a coalition that represents the center, if that is defined as the group with the most votes. The question, of course, is what is the content of that "center" -- that is the contested terrain.
To make their case, they distort recent history beyond all recognition. No liberal can win the presidency, they argue. Clinton won only because he "inspired Democrats, but also went after the independents and moderate Republicans he needed to win." In fact, Clinton won virtually the same percentage of votes -- and for the most part literally the same voters -- as Mike Dukakis. He was elected because people wanted to fire George Bush I and Ross Perot provided an outlet for the voters who couldn’t get over to Mr. Clinton. Presented to Americans by a poisonous attack media as someone who avoided the draft and cheated on his wife, he was a far remove from the Sam Nunn candidate of Mr. From’s dreams.
This is simply silly. What Democrats need is a leader who isn’t afraid to take on Bush and present a clear alternative to Americans. That candidate isn’t likely to come from the DLC. From and Reed love to trash the "McGovern-Mondale" wing of the Democratic Party. But their favored candidate for the president -- Joe Lieberman -- combines social liberalism with moral righteousness with a pledge to raise your taxes to balance the budget. The last candidate to run on that torrid combination was none other than Mr. Mondale himself.

Reed and From get one thing right. The extremely dangerous policies of the Bush administration will unify and mobilize the Democratic base. Now those stalwarts need to find someone to lead the charge. For that, they need common sense, not the self-interested palaver of the DLC.

The DLC has, of course, been branding Dean "unelectable" on the grounds that he's too liberal. But too liberal how? Many Americans opposed the war, and as it becomes increasingly clear that we had no good reason to invade Iraq, that position becomes less "liberal" every day. Gay partnership is no big deal - as long as no one calls it "marriage", most people don't seem to care. Generally speaking, the two things working against Dean are the same things working against all Democrats: the news media and the DLC.

Stuart Finkel at Buzzflash also responded to From and Reed's claims, calling them "enormously harmful to the Party."
01:10 BST


At The Smirking Chimp, Our president is a criminal: Alarmist? You bet. This guy already thinks (and occasionally tells foreign leaders) that he gets his orders from God. If these radical extremists can get away with this, then the dumbing down of America will be complete, and the stage will be set for the next wave of the nascent fascism. La Cosa Bush (apologies to the mafia) is, like all crime families, violent, arrogant, and beyond the reach of the law--so far. Bush's handlers no longer even have the decency, courage or self-restraint to prevent his criminally stupid comments from wreaking havoc around the globe. Er, well, he was always doing that, actually.

And at Take Back the Media, Is The News Media Bought And Paid For?: In a column that appeared on July 7th on, I raised the issue of whether or not American journalists are spineless. I pointed out the softball questions pitched at Donald Rumsfeld’s press conferences and the lack of follow-up when the Secretary of Defense sloughed off questions he didn’t want to answer. [...]Shortly after the column of July 7 appeared, a journalist I have known for 12 years, who has often been at odds with me over fundamental issues, called to say, "Right on! I have been made to understand that I work for the advertisers of my newspaper and truth is secondary to the revenue. We are spineless."

At Buzzflash, Liar! Liar! Speech on Fire!: Here's what I think happened: Republicans have learned in the last decade or so that lies are useful tools in the short term. The procedure works like this: Sling a lie into the news cycle or onto the Internet. Let it get repeated by Rush Limbaugh, the creeps at Faux News, and all of those weasels who sit in the cubicles around you at work, forwarding all of those anti-Clinton email messages. Then, by the time the truth does get out, America has moved on to some other story and a new email message. The Bush people, knowing that the Iraq story was very fluid and that America would soon be caught up in the thrill of watching the shooting on CNN, decided to toss this pile of manure onto the Capitol floor and hope that the war would provide sufficient distraction before it started to stink. Perhaps a quick and successful transition in Iraq from a brutal dictatorship to self-rule would be so compelling that nobody would care that the case for war was built on distortions, omissions, and outright lies.
00:31 BST

Molly Ivins interview

BUZZFLASH: Are we better off than we were three years ago?

IVINS: No. No. Jim Hightower and I, for years, have talked about how the media pays far too much attention to the Dow Jones average. And that, you know, eighty-some pages in the newspaper on the financial world, and hours on television people carry on about the market. But they don't have much to do with real people's lives. What we need is "the Doug Jones average" – Doug Jones, average American. How's old Doug doing? Is he up? Is he down? And that's sort of what our book addresses.

00:03 BST

Tuesday, 15 July 2003

Lie Watch

Via Bartcop

MWO recalls that White House spin and "candid" photos depicted the hands-on Mr. Bush going over the State of the Union speech with a fine-toothed comb in an amazingly competent and "engaged" manner days before the speech was delivered. They seem to think there is something suspicious in the claim we now hear that Bush never saw the speech before he delivered it to the public. These things can't both be true, but they can both be lies.

At Eschaton, Lambert continues immersion coverage. Noting that Comical Ari didn't disappoint us on his last day, having provided this statement:

"This revisionist notion that somehow this is now the core of why we went to war, a central issue in why we went to war, a fundamental underpinning of the president's decisions, is a bunch of bull."
Lambert says:
How soon we forget ... Not only was this notion core to the case for war, it was core to the case for the new Bush doctrine of preemptive war.
Right, so if all that talk about "preemptive war" wasn't about preempting WMD attacks, what were we preempting? I mean, it was a bit too late to preempt the other rationalization for war, which was, "Saddam is bad man."

Carpe Datum is on Excuse Patrol: My second favorite is the Reaganite standby: "Bush is too dumb or incompetent to have realized he was lying." How proud conservatives must be to use this defense to stand behind their president (not their leader, mind you).

Michael Kinsley examines the question of who lied in Bush's speech: You would think that on the question of who told a lie in a speech, evidence seen on television by millions of people around the world might count for something. Apparently not. The Bush administration borrows from Groucho: "Who are you going to believe—us or your own two eyes? [...] The Bush argument blaming the CIA for failing to remove this falsehood from the president's speech is based on the logic of "stop me before I lie again."

Josh Marshall has a lot of fun parsing Ari as he negotiates some mighty sharp verbal curves. You know, they called Clinton "Slick Willie" because they couldn't catch him in a lie. (Yeah, that was before Monica.) You could never say this about the George and Ari show - they may be weasels, but they sure ain't slick.

The Wall Street Journal came up with an amazingly twisted excuse for the White House's performance, and Elton Beard is on the case again with a Shorter WSJ: The task of America's intelligence agencies is not to provide policy makers with reliable data but to fabricate evidence in support of administration policies which the public would reject if it knew the truth. (Ah, I see Electrolite also quotes this one in an update to a post citing an excellent CalPundit piece on the same subject.)

In other lies, Leah at Eschaton has the Army Times editorial about how George Bush shows his "support" for our troops by undermining every benefit they have. She suggests sending it to Chris Matthews and recommending that it be covered on his show. I say, why stop there? Surely "support our troops" must mean something besides "praise Bush", and plenty of "news" people played this game, and The People Have a Right To Know.
14:52 BST


Via Skimble, some real perverts: In short, the abstinence movement may have adopted a Scared Straight approach to premarital sex, but just underneath that is the old Puritan conviction that even if there weren't risks, any sexual pleasure outside of marriage is wrong. (The distinction isn't academic: A few years back, advocating masturbation resulted in the banishment of one surgeon general.) I used to laugh at these sorts of people when I was a teenager having premarital sex during the Reagan administration. (Maybe this should have been a "Lie Watch" item - these people make stuff up about birth control to "justify" their position.)

Emma says No more!

Argh! No no no! I can read this by highlighting the entire page, but I shouldn't have to.
13:35 BST

Monday, 14 July 2003

How stuff works

The press has turned. I can tell because Wolf Blitzer's poll questions have been becoming more and more straightforward. Today he asks:

Do you believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction on the eve of the war?
The fact that "on the eve of the war" is now being specified means we're no longer trying to evade the crucial question.
19:58 BST

More reasons to read Viz

We very nearly gave them an award, once, for their parody page of The Sun in which the story about the cops creating "pseudo-porn" in a demonstration of the evils of the Internet seemed not much different from the ones the tabloids actually published. I showed the page to Rob and heard him refer to another one of its articles this way: "Even for Littlejohn this is over the top. ... Oh." I always like the little sub-heads, which are almost as silly as the real ones in The Sun. Pity their articles aren't online. But ya gotta read this one:


In one of the biggest leaflet dropping exercises ever seen, The President of the United States of America is to send a memo to every single person on the planet.

George W. Bush will remind the entire world that it is their duty as a citizen of 'the America that is all of us' to do exactly as he says at all times, say White House sauces.

The Most Powerful Man In the World, 57, will tell everyone, 'We are living in a time of love and hate, of freedom and terrorism, of twiglets and terrible capostrophes.'

This is the 'age of the united person,' Bush will bristle, 'and a time for all the good folk of the world to come together and follow your God-given leader.' Otherwise, the memo adds, 'there will be consequences.'


But embarrassingly, the memo, which is being translated into over two million languages in conditions of widespread secrecy, has been leaked to the press. It was not due to be published until after the President's re-'election'.

Bush, who shares his name with the female genitalia, is said to be 'fuming' about the breach of U.S. privacy. He is said to have stifled a punch as he addressed the assembled press corps on the subject of the leak.


Speaking from the bunker eight miles below the earth's outer crust from which he intends not to emerge until Judgment Day, he said, "I will avenge these prankdoers, mark my lips. I will smoke these filthy evilsters.'

'Whoever you are, we will catch you,' added mad Mr Bush. 'remember: I never sleep.'

'I demand that the world is a peaceful place. A place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. When you can see our troubles are all the same. A place where everybody knows your name.'

Then The President, who is currently supervising the building of a spacegun big enough to use the moon as a bullet against an oncoming enemy galaxy, sang all 39 verses of the new International Anthem, Eagles hit Hotel California.

Er, Issue 126 is on sale now!
12:39 BST

They even know it at...

TIME, where they write:

DEC. 7, 2002: Iraq submits a 12,200-page weapons declaration to the United Nations. The Administration immediately begins leaking criticisms of the report. Twelve days later, the State Department issues "eight key omissions and deceptions" by the Iraqis. Included: "The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger." It does not attribute the charge to the British.
JANUARY 2003: White House officials prepare the President's State of the Union address. Sentence about Iraq trying to buy uranium is inserted. A CIA official objects, saying the language isn't backed by U.S. intelligence. But the decision is made to leave it in and attribute it to the British. CIA chief George Tenet now says his team should have pressed harder to have it deleted.

JAN. 23, 2003: Condi Rice writes an op-ed calling Iraq's report "a 12,200-page lie" and asserts, "The declaration fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad."

"But the decision is made to leave it in and attribute it to the British." Still got that passive-voice thing in there, I see.
11:09 BST

Selling the invasion

I was afraid I was going to have to trawl around at the Guardian to find this link, but thankfully I see that Talk Left found it first - Trading on fear, apparently a chapter from Sheldon Rampton & John Stauber's Weapons of Mass Deception, coming out in paperback in a couple of weeks. The print version of the article comes illustrated with posters by Micah Ian Wright, which don't accompany the online version, but you can find them and more at his site. This is one of my favorites. So is this one:

We couldn't control the people without you.

01:33 BST

Dan the Man

Tom Tomorrow says that while he was coming up with cover designs for his new book, he toyed with the idea of parodying another well-known bookcover.
01:11 BST

Duck Slick

One of my favorite stories when I first heard about it, the bath toys that went over the side of a container ship from China, leaving an enormous rubber duck-slick on the Pacific. Making lemonade out of lemons, scientists have been tracking them to learn more about ocean currents. And now, those 29,000 ducks are headed for New England. (No word on the 3 million Legos, apparently.)
12:22 BST

Sunday, 13 July 2003

Go read...

I'm really boring today, so go read Lisa English, who has lots of good stuff up right now. (Well, always, actually.)

While right-wingers were pretending Tim Russert tripped Howard Dean up on troop numbers, Richard Cohen, of all people, caught Dean in a real twister over the death penalty. This is particularly unsettling as right now is a relatively safe time to express reservations about the DP.

Disgusting nature news

Marvel chickens out on mutant Princess Diana.
17:42 BST

Saturday, 12 July 2003

Lie Watch

Take Back the Media has the pictures of the changed headlines for the "Bush knew Iraq info was false" story at CBS, which mysteriously mutated into "Bush: CIA OK'd Iraq Speech" at the same page (with a changed link to the original story with the new headline, "Bush knew Iraq info was dubious").

At, Hawks Say The Darndest Things! analyses what apologists for the invasion are now saying to excuse Bush's lies about WMD, and what it reveals about their twisted ideology.

William Rivers Pitt is using strong language: There is no "The President wasn't told" justification available here, no Iran/Contra loophole. He knew. He lied. His people knew. They lied.

MWO sums up the White House spin:

New statements, paraphrased:

George Tenet: I should have insisted on removing a deceptive line the White House pressured us to allow into the SOTU speech over my agency's objections.

George W. Bush: I still have confidence in Tenet, even though he betrayed my regime by allowing us to tell the lie we pressured his agency to allow us to tell. Case closed.

Will this fly?
Lambert is all over the lies in the State of the Union address over at Eschaton. We all await the answer to the important question: Never mind who "forgot" to remove the falsehoods from the speech, but who put them in?

Speaking of lies, there's Bush's "bold" plan to save the economy - and Buzzflash has some "Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?" postcards available showing the graphs for job-creation, unemployment, budget deficits, etc. (See Eschaton on that topic, too, with all the fabulous things Republicans are doing to help families in these difficult times.)
21:14 BST

Isn't it about time...?

It occurs to me that I haven't really seen much talk about doing something to compensate for the lack of exit polling. I know there are people out there who know how to do it, and it's not too early to start setting up an army of volunteers. Maybe someone should try to contact all those people at VNS who suddenly lost their jobs.
21:01 BST

The Curious Mr. Hitchens

Aside from being a well-known Buffyologist, Roz Kaveney, a founding member (perhaps the founding member) of Feminists Against Censorship and my friend of 20 years, is also one of that fabulous cluster of people who went to Oxford and knew everyone. Like Mandy Merck, another founding member of FAC, who was once a housemate of Bill Clinton. And, of course, Christopher Hitchens. Over the years, Roz has mentioned Hitchens to me in one context or another many times, but lately he seems to have become famous for some rather dismaying activities. We were talking about these the other day when she told me an anecdote I hadn't heard before and I encouraged her to write about it. She's written that story and more on her Live Journal.

He left Oxford and went to be a journalist in London, working on the New Statesman, where he was still remembered with affection during my own NS days about two decades later.

He was still in Oxford a lot though. When I won the Charles Oldham Shakespeare Prize, which effectively meant that my college could not throw me out over my involvement in a sit-in over gate hours, and therefore could not throw out any of my comrades either, we held a huge party and Hitchens turned up at it.

He stood on a table and toasted me - 'And here's to you, Kaveney. May you not always be on the outside looking in.' And I smiled sweetly and said, ' And here's to you, Chris. May you not always be on the inside looking out.'

All seems a bit prophetic, now....
03:22 BST

Friday, 11 July 2003


Howard Dean calls for resignations by administration misleaders, but appears to be letting Bush himself off the hook.

Muslim Hug-a-Jew program explained.

Josh Marshall says, "First of all, Fleischer is lying," and also that the networks finally noticed that Bush knew Iraq info was false.

One thousand reasons to dump Bush.
13:00 BST

Bumper sticker available from Cafepress

04:50 BST

UK Spam and some Censorstuff

From The Register:

Derek Wyatt MP, Chair of the All Party Internet Group, has set up a Web site to mobilise consumers against the mounting menace of spam email.

The site, EndSpam, includes advice about how consumers can complain to their ISP about unsolicited commercial email or complain to their MP about the issue of spam in general.

In advising consumers to contact their MP about the junk mail issue, the site begins by saying: "Your MP has to address any problems you have including spam! Ask him or her to pass your letter on to the Minister."

Malcolm Hutty, who is now at LINX, recently testified to the working group that requiring ISPs to install spam filters would be a clumsy idea.

The heads-ups for these articles came from Seth Finklestein on the Cyber-Rights list, but as long as I'm thinking of him, I see that over at Infothought he links to an article by Sara Paretsky called The new censorship. There's some interesting historical background in the article, and also this:

Today we are once again allowing fear to silence our speech. This past October, a man looking at foreign-language pages on the web in a New Jersey library was taken into custody as he left the building. Another patron, without enough to read on his own, had become alarmed at seeing non-English text on his neighbour's screen and had called the cops; they held the man for two days without charging him, without letting him call his lawyer or call home. They finally released him without any comment.
Paretsky muses on her own hypothetical stay in jail (and possibly that of anyone who has purchased her books or checked them out of the library) if a little "drama" of a few years back had happened now, instead. She also connects the dots between corporate censorship, 9/11, Enron, the Patriot Act, and why she hasn't had a new novel out since Total Recall, published in September of 2001. Her new book, due out in November, is called Blacklist.
01:45 BST

Thursday, 10 July 2003

This means you.

Teresa has a list of quickie links called "Particles" over on her side bar, which includes this from fridgemagnet:

Many people out there - okay, in here - seem to have problems with the simple process of cleaning the fucking kitchen. Does this sound familiar?

  • Instead of washing a plate, you leave it on the sideboard encrusted with beans.
  • Once you've finished as much as you want to eat of a pizza, you're baffled as to what to do with what's left.
  • As far as you're concerned, coffee mugs are supposed to be covered with mold.
  • You think that, if you leave things long enough, the washing-up pixies will come and clean them, ready for the next time.
  • You open the cupboard and curse that there's no clean plates, but don't connect it with the enormous heap of mouldering washing-up in the sink in front of your fucking nose.
  • You think cutlery doesn't actually need to be cleaned - just use it again.
  • The germ theory of infection hasn't reached your consciousness yet.
Click through to learn the answer to this vexing problem.

(But also check out Teresa on how books sell.)
12:50 BST

Reading material

Candidates' websites reviewed by David Weinberger. (Via Noosphere Blues, where I also found some unflattering reviews of the recent books by Todd Gitlin and Danny Goldberg.)

Crooked Timber is a new group weblog by Chris Bertram, Daniel Davies, Henry Farrell, Maria Farrell, Kieran Healy, and Brian Weatherson, so it should be pretty interesting. You could start, for example, with this piece by Henry in which he discovers another insane opinion by Richard Posner, who has joined the chorus of those who think that if you don't watch TV commercials, you're stealing.

Bush explained by Richard Feynman.

Bush's moral center: But there's the problem with President Bush. It is not the moral immaturity of the texts he reads. Like his callow statement in the National Cathedral, they are written by someone else. When the president speaks, unscripted, from his own moral center, what shows itself is a bottomless void.
02:56 BST


They really do numb your brain:

"I think the American people continue to express their support for ridding the world of Saddam Hussein based on just cause, knowing that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons that were unaccounted for that we're still confident we'll find," Mr. Fleischer said. "I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."

Mr. Bush said that the United States had underestimated how close Mr. Hussein was to building a nuclear weapon in 1991, before the first Persian Gulf war, and that there had long been evidence that Iraq was trying again. He dismissed the criticism of his justification for war as "attempts to try to rewrite history."

"Imagine a world in which this tyrant had a nuclear weapon," Mr. Bush said.

I guess I don't have to imagine, do I?
02:13 BST

Wednesday, 09 July 2003

Gore Vidal interview

Here's the transcript, or you can find a link on the same page to listen to the RealAudio instead.

AMY GOODMAN: How has George Bush accrued so much power?

GORE VIDAL: Well, the election of 2000 was the end of the republic.

From Democracy Now!
23:01 BST

The problem child

Robert Parry thinks David Frum had it backwards when he wrote The Right Man. In The Wrong Man he says: But Bush's tough-guy rhetoric may instead be leading the nation into a maze of dark alleys from which many Americans, especially young soldiers dispatched to a string of conflicts, will never emerge. There is a growing sense that Bush's life experience of underachieving privilege might make him entirely the wrong man for addressing the complex challenges the nation now faces.

And Jules Witcover says Take off the gloves: More than the Bush tough-guy talk, however, the evidence that he was premature in claiming an end to the combat phase in Iraq underscores a political vulnerability that the Democrats can exploit, if some of them stop carrying Mr. Bush's water on the war.

Michelangelo Signorile says that Bush is The most dangerous president ever for gay rights. has a pointer to this story about Bush's respect for freedom all over the world: While George Bush was on Goree Island reading somebody else's words condemning slavery, the island's residents were rounded up, herded into a football stadium, and kept confined until Bush departed. U.S. security agents patrolled the shore and a U.S. gunship stood off the coast, protecting Bush from the souvenir vendors and other dangerous denizens. This paranoia is a stark contrast to President Clinton's visit in 1998, according to former Mayor Urbain Alexandre Diagne: "When Clinton came, he shook hands, people danced."
22:10 BST


Lisa English doesn't want you to forget about that little FCC thing: Alright, I'll agree...democracy ain't perfect. But you've gotta admit that it's the closest thing we have to a good thing. On that note, be sure to do like Curtiss does: get your viewpoint out and work the system for the betterment of We Little Guys. Even though it's the Day After, make that call if you haven't already.

Jesse at Pandagon has a perfect example of the incredibly lame kinds of "crimes" right-wingers are still trying to lay at the door of the Clinton administration. Attempting to defuse Sidney Blumenthal's indictment of the press and the right during the Whitewater madness, David Frum declares that by having lunch with his friend of the time, Christopher Hitchens, Blumenthal violated the gift ban. Of course, the gift ban does not prevent a member of the White House staff from allowing friends to pick up the tab on lunch unless that person is engaged in the business of regulating or rewarding (with government contracts) the payer of the check. The White House staff does not regulate or hire Christopher Hitchens, of course, but Frum goes one better and insists Blumenthal's lunch could not possibly have cost less than $20. Jesse's e-mail exchange with Frum over the prices on the menu is almost funny...until one remembers that right-wingers actually behave as if this proves something about the Clinton administration, while little things like Iran-Contra and "preemptive" invasions to preempt something that doesn't exist are mere trifles.

At Scoop, Bev Harris describes how the Diebold voting machines work - and how easily hackable they are for anyone who knows how to use Access. (Via Talk Left.)

Seen at A Level Gaze: Shit, if anyone finds out that we forced the Iraqis to completely disarm and we attacked them anyway, no other country is ever going to disarm again, ever. Kiss nuclear nonproliferation good-bye, all for the sake of a geopolitical footprint and some quick cash.

Tom Toles on US foreign policy.
14:12 BST

Web-browsing for real dummies

Did you get e-mail in the last few weeks from people telling you to go to Google, search on "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky"? (If you're too lazy to do this, just go here.) I posted the direct link back in February and wasn't surprised to see it making the rounds, although I don't know why someone assumed you needed to take the side-trip through Google. I now see via Facts on the Ground that TIME actually believed that Google provided this error message. Now, c'mon, just how net-savvy aren't these people? I mean, does it really take a genius to notice that the URL isn't from Google? Oh, I forgot, these people are journalists. (PS. FotG found another error message for conservatives, but I didn't think it was as good.)
13:08 BST

Tuesday, 08 July 2003

Considering Dean

Unlike many bloggers on the Dem side of the street, Susan at Random thoughts is emphatically not a Dean supporter. I'm not really a hard-and-fast supporter of any candidate in particular, but I think Dean's campaign is good for Democrats for a number of reasons, not least that he's motivating people and getting them involved. If the Democrats don't blow it by alienating Dean's supporters (or by nominating Lieberman), that support could end up behind whoever the nominee is, and all that energy with it. But Susan reckons Edwards/Graham is the ticket - that it will be, and that it's the only one that really has a chance to win. I disagree that no other ticket can win, but it's early days yet. I'm keeping my eyes on all of them, and all of the spin. (The Note has loads of helpful stuff on that subject this week.) But I think the DLC needs to be a lot more careful about how contemptuous it is of the core of the party, of young people, and of the party left. Alienating Dean supporters now is not the way to win in 2004.

Of course, someone wants to cause all kinds of dissension between Democrats, as The Daily Kos discusses. Drudge and The American Spectator are both claiming to have nasty inside information on Democratic strategies that, as Kos says, doesn't pass the smell test. And Kos is quite right: It's ludicrous to believe that people in the Dean & Kerry camps would be deliberately saying things to any journalist that would alienate them from the rest of the party, let alone to people from the Arkansas Project Mafia.
23:19 BST

Rush, Newspeak and Fascism for the masses!

Yes, it's here! Rush, Newspeak and Fascism - the PDF! But be nice and go to David's front page and make a donation to help him pay for the bandwidth (he's suggesting a fiver). David says:

The completed essay is about 40,000 words and 87 pages long. It contains large chunks of new material, and as you'll see, it's been rearranged and edited significantly. I think you'll find it's both more coheisve and more coherent, a little livelier, a little more detailed. Read it onscreen or print it out and share it with your friends. E-mail it around if you like. I'm frankly more interested in having it read than in the donations; I'm mostly just hoping to cover my expenses.
I'm interested in having it read, too. Print it out and make copies for your representatives, your local Democratic Party, your neighbors, co-workers, friends and relatives.
11:41 BST

Entertainment & Recreation

Unlike billmon, the Sideshow has not been added to Tom Tomorrow's link bar. However, I like him anyway, so have a look at what he said was the stupidest thing he read last week. Meanwhile, billmon says the troops almost sound like Democrats, and also offers a modest proposal for how the current regime can identify the Jews liberals in their midst.

Mark Fiore Presents: The Exterminator starring Tom DeLay.

I'm not sure I can agree with this article I found in the Guardian, Rise of the new infantilism, but it's an interesting piece.

Homeland security kills model rockets.

Savage fired after anti-gay comments. Gee whiz, what did they expect when they hired him?

Found on the referrer list, but I don't know why: Smut Contest 2003 entries. No recommendations, I haven't read them. Could just be referrer spam.
11:22 BST

Monday, 07 July 2003

Media Watch

Check out Eric Boehlert in Salon: Or maybe some journalists who covered the 2000 race don't want to concede they made a mistake. "They would have to admit they were duped by an exaggerator," says Moore. Either way, today's blatant double standard over exaggerations is not reserved for Gore's hard-luck campaign. It's part of a larger pattern in how the press treats Democratic candidates tougher than it treats Republicans. Examples from the current campaign trail abound.

Alterman thinks he has caused Kaus to lose his mind. And I rather enjoyed his parenthetical: (We note with awe, but not shock, by the way, that Howie appears to be on a "Nino" basis with the "incredibly smart" Justice Scalia. How do we know he’s "incredibly smart"? "Everybody knows" it, says Howie, so just shut up, wiseguy.) I have also wondered how we are supposed to know that Scalia is smart. Especially when he keeps writing and saying things that are incredibly dumb. Eric also asks, A "bungling bully?" Does the august Financial Times really say that? Who are these Communists?

Tapped recommends a big cover story in CJR on journalistic objectivity and whether it gets to the truth. I think that depends on what you mean by "objectivity". Getting quotes from both sides is possibly better than just getting quotes from, say, the administration, but it's not hard to thoroughly slant a story by choosing who you go to for quotes.
18:48 BST

Biting the hand

As we've previously discussed, file-sharing is free publicity for musicians, and helps to sell recordings, especially for performers who get scant airplay from the increasingly bland dominators of payola-driven Big Media-controlled radio. It's insane for the RIAA to attack file-sharers for finding new ways to hear new music, but they continue to do so, claiming to be protecting the rights of creators. Of course, since the royalties performers are promised seldom materialize as the recording companies gouge artists for "promotion" charged against those royalties, this is a lie. What file-sharing really represents, then, is promotion of performers for which the industry neither pays nor has a right to bill artists. Many musicians understand this:


In response to the continuing legal attacks by the RIAA and major record labels on internet music sharing, which now include both criminal charges and civil suits against individuals, musicians are joining together to say NO to the action supposedly being taken on our behalf.

Just because the major labels haven't figured out a way to make money out of the internet doesn't mean that individuals who have shared music should go to prison, or be forced into bankruptcy. The industry is alienating the very people it hopes to sell music to in future with its heavy handed action.

With its collective failure to understand the internet, or the benefit it derives from the peer to peer networks that have sprung up in the vacuum created by that failure, the industry has now turned to desperate methods. Suing your customers one by one is not a business model.

We can only assume that the intention behind these attacks on individuals is to create an atmosphere of intimidation in which music lovers dare not use legally acquired computers to listen to music, except under very limited terms that the industry intends to dictate.

As musicians we recognise and defend the right of artists to be compensated for their work. However, these prosecutions are not helping musicians, or helping the industry create a better system of internet distribution.

We ask that the RIAA refrain from assuming our implicit support for their persecution of individual music lovers, stop equating all free online music with 'piracy', and concentrate its legal sanctions on the organisations who are making money out of the unauthorised duplication of our work.

The campaign invites musicians to go to the page and add their names to the letter.
13:29 BST

Sunday, 06 July 2003

Inside America

"This is the United States," she says. "This isn't some Third World country. We're supposed to do better than this."

Seeing the Forest notes the latest spin on Dean's support and the claim that it's all a creation of the Internet. But maybe it has something to do with Dean himself and the kind of energy he generates - and the fact that he's actually talking like a real Democrat. Dave says you'll get a better idea of that if you watch his address to the California Democratic Convention. So here's a RealPlayer hotlink to the convention speeches; go to 24:28 for Dean's speech.

In the Face of Death explores the question of why jurors did not recommend the death penalty in a gruesome murder case. Read Dwight Meredith's thoughts on the article to whet your appetite.
16:50 BST

Faith-based freedom of religion

Barney Gumble says:

Would you be surprised to learn that the DOJ has a Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination?

(The position was created by John Ashcroft).

Would you be surprised to learn that out of all possible cases of religious discrimination that could fall under this office's jurisdiction, every single one is about Christian students who want to use public school facilities?

16:00 BST

Meteorological report

Via Bartcop, an interesting question about a possible pipeline to Kuwait already in operation:

On May 25, while scanning the Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program images pipelined into his desktop from 450 miles in orbit, Hank Brandli skidded at a nighttime photo of Iraq. It looked familiar. But not exactly.

Brandli retrieved another DMSP image he'd archived from May 3. He compared the two. The most recent photo showed a blazing corridor of light running the length of Kuwait, south to north, all the way to the Iraqi border. The image wasn't there on May 3.

"It's going right up to Iraq's oil fields," says the retired Air Force colonel from his home in Palm Bay. "Maybe I'm full of s---. Maybe all they're doing is building a highway to put in McDonald's and sell hamburgers. But why go that way? I think we're in bed with Kuwait. I think we're pumping oil out of Iraq to pay for this war."
"You look for patterns. Patterns tell you things," says Brandli, who has masters degrees in meteorology, aeronautics and astronautics, and the author of "Satellite Meteorology" for the Air Force's Air Weather Service in 1976. "With night photos, you can distinguish natural gas burnoff, which looks globular, from city lights. And suddenly, over just a few weeks, we've got this straight line of lights leading all the way to those beautiful wells in southeastern Iraq.

"If you're building pipelines, you've got to have power, you've got to have light -- trucks and personnel and food and all sorts of support. If I had to bet, I'd say it looks like we're running Iraqi oil through Kuwait. It would make sense, because Kuwait's got its infrastructure intact."

At the State Department in Washington, D.C., David Staples on the Future of Iraqi Projects desk says he doesn't know if Iraq's oil is flowing into Kuwait. He referred the query to the Defense Department. A DoD spokesman suggested contacting the Office of Coalition of Provisional Authority (OCPA) in Baghdad. OCPA was not immediately available for comment.

The rest of the article is worth reading for a few other reasons, like details of this guy's background (and why he can't be written off as just a conspiracy nut) and also his suspicion that the 9/11 attackers had their own weather guy working on the planning.
15:29 BST

Movies & Patriotism vs. Ann Coulter

Contemplated by Frank Rich:

Most Americans, whatever their age, don't need politicians or government boondoggles like Operation Tribute to Freedom or enforced flag-waving or fictionalized TV dramatizations of Jessica Lynch's rescue to tell them what it means to be an American. You see the wise, optimistic young citizens of "Spellbound," whether struggling or triumphant, and you see the whole package that is America, imperfect and heartbreaking as it sometimes is. That the Ann Coulters of 2003 look around the nation and see traitors everywhere is pathetic, but not so much so that they can spoil what is celebrated on the Fourth.
Too right. We love our country. But it's a shame the Ann Coulters can't love it enough to refrain from their hatriotism.
01:16 BST

Kudos to Emma

Late Night Thoughts is always good. I really enjoyed Emma's prescription for AA, for example:

The solution to the problems of affirmative action is simple: make sure that every kid at the elementary and high school level get the same good education. Poor, rich, white, black, green-with-polka dots, whatever: until we can say with confidence that a graduating senior is a graduating senior is a graduating senior we're going to have to struggle with this issue.
And she has a good post up on the issue of corporate "personhood", where corporations actually have far more rights than any real person enjoys. (This post at Epicycle, by the way, ties in nicely on the subject of the "Stella Awards" and related scams to immunize corporations from responsibility.) Emma has a response for those who think she is attacking capitalism:
The screams you hear from the corner are coming from those conservatives that want to protect "capitalism" and "free markets". All I can say, by this definition and even this one I'm a bigger capitalist than you are. I don't believe in interference with business -- it's your problem, sink or swim. Don't look to the state for handouts when you are about to crash (Chrysler) or for assistance when the rest of the world refuses to buy your product (bioengineered foods). Your profits will be taxed, as you make use of the polity's infrastructure to facilitate your enterprise; an exception will be made for monies reinvested keep the corporation competitive and viable. There will be no loophole for "foreign" location--you are doing business in the United States, you are taxed in the United States. Any corporate officers that knowingly make decisions that harm or place citizens at risk of harm on behalf of the corporation will be tried under the country's or state's criminal code (thus satisfying conservatives that are always screaming about personal responsibility).
And then there's the ugly story of FDA approval of Provigil for shiftworkers combined with the disappearing 40-hour work week....
00:42 BST

Saturday, 05 July 2003


Kevin Maroney is a long-time friend of The Sideshow (even though I was too stupid to pick up on the fact that he actually has a Live Journal page of his own), and although I didn't know his brother Tim, I have the impression from Teresa's brief tribute that I might have liked to. Heartfelt condolences to Kevin and anyone else who knew Tim.

Arthur Hlavaty recommends an article by Jon Carroll with this quote: There have been no laws passed requiring people to engage in homosexual acts, dance naked or write songs with suggestive lyrics. There have never been mandatory abortions for all women; there have never been legal injunctions to refrain from prayer. You can believe in the Ten Commandments or not believe in the Ten Commandments; your choice. No government agency or private business has ever required people to smoke marijuana as a condition of employment.

Adbusters' launched their Unbrand America campaign in yesterday's NYT with this ad.

Gail Davis has lots of good political stuff up, but also updates (and photos) on the Mt. Lemmon Fire.
17:12 BST

Useless Invasion Sketch

Kip Williams on rec.arts.sf.fandom gives us the Useless Invasion Sketch:

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE (played by John Cleese) walks down the street carrying THE IRAQI INVASION (played by an empty parrot cage). He walks into THE WHITE HOUSE (played by a cheesy storefront) and addresses COLIN POWELL (played by Michael Palin).
16:16 BST

Independence Day

Peace group barred from city parade

The Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace was denied a spot in Friday's July 4 parade on the basis of safety issues, Community Action officials said today.
In a letter he faxed to Community Action and city officials Wednesday Fisk urged them to reconsider and raised the possibility of legal action.

"To deny responsible citizens the right to full and equal participation, because their organization has the word 'peace' in its title, and believes in peaceful solutions to human problems, makes a mockery of what the day and the celebration are supposed to be about: Freedom! The freedom of Americans in all our diversity of creed, color and opinion.

"Failure to promptly reverse your decision and allow the Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace to march in the parade will result in the BACP seriously considering legal action against Brainerd Community Action and the city of Brainerd to remedy this injustice," his letter stated.
"I think the safety argument could be used to keep anything out that you want out," Shaw said. "If the people at the parade were that out of control then we probably shouldn't have it."

Nah, that wouldn't happen - I mean, they love our freedoms, don't they?
15:39 BST

Accept no substitutes

If you read Body and Soul you can see stuff like this:

George Bush is rather fond of immunity for atrocities, at least he acts as if he is. The Economist and the LA Times both have pieces on the Bush Administration's withdrawal of military aid to 35 countries to punish them for supporting the International Criminal Court. Of course there's an upside to that petulance -- one of the countries being threatened with a loss of military aid is Colombia. So, if they don't acknowledge that we are above the law, we'll threaten not to protect Occidental's pipeline? My mama would have called that cutting off your nose to spite your face. Unfortunately, Bush is hacking at more than his own nose: He's also threatening aid for hurricane relief, rural dentistry, and veterinary programs. Foreign Policy In Focus has a good piece on this administration's "near-religious aversion" to the ICC and how it not only undercuts the world's ability to prosecute genocide, but also endangers our own security. Stuffing a sock in your pants and goading your enemies is no substitute for building a workable system of international law.
Boy, is that ever right.
11:52 BST

Friday, 04 July 2003

We are now engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

Take it back.

All day, every day

Go to the Peace Pretzel

The Peace Pretzel has a 4th of July flier you can print out and pass around. (Via Leah at Eschaton.)

And a more downbeat (and also printable) 4th of July message from The Sideshow.
13:23 BST

Carville v. Nader on Crossfire (via MWO).
13:15 BST


Richard Allan, MP, is blogging about spam, which seems to be the current project. He doesn't seem too dumb, either, so maybe they won't do something insane.

I'm too lazy to look for the link but I got this from Eschaton: Trish Wilson's blog has real family values.

Note to self: check out text-to-speech demo and maybe some other stuff found at About-face.
13:00 BST

Thursday, 03 July 2003

Fox Troop!

Kip Williams, obviously inspired by Mad Kane, wrote a song for me, to the tune of the F-Troop theme song by William Lava:

The end of the EYe-rack war was near
And casual as you please,
The White House's flacks turned lies to facts
And trailers to WMDs.

The papers were game to do the same,
This low they were glad to stoop.
Their mandate for truth was deemed uncouth
From now on they all would be... FOX TROOP!

Where cave men are thrilled
That Lib'rals are grilled
While neocons get a free pass,
And checking facts is strictly cheap-ass.

So now black is white and peace is strife
And crap is tomato soup.
We all love Big Brother more than life
And get our opinions from... FOX TROOP!

(New words copyright 2003 by Kip Williams.)
14:57 BST

Eyes on the Prize

Sam Parry analyzes our election prospects.

Kos gives his current rankings for the contenders.

MyDD looks at the latest Gallup Poll and declares Dean a top-tier candidate for the nomination.

These folks are flying my colors!
13:43 BST

Bloggers Tubemap

Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Electrolite writes to say he is shocked that I'm not on the London Bloggers Tube Map. So I thought about it and decided I didn't want to make it easy for all those anti-porn weirdos to find my house, and listed the nearest tube for my regular drinking establishment instead.
12:55 BST

Dated news

Just in case you missed 'em, here are the pictures of Eminem pretending to be Michael Jackson.
12:24 BST

OK, now I'm pissed off.

In between E.R. and The Shield, I caught the news. I'd seen the Reuters story earlier (and blogged it), but just seeing Bush utter the words is something else - you know, you watch him posturing, see the game he's playing, and smoke starts to come out of your ears.

There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation.
Jeez, paint a bulls-eye on the backs of those uniforms, why don't ya.

I guess I'm not the only one who had that reaction.

Update: Kos & commenters weigh in. Planet Swank has a good rant. At this point, I guess everybody does.

And you know, it's funny, but ever since I originally posted this, I've had the feeling that my late father was watching the news with me and I could hear him calling Bush a horse's ass. I'm sure that's just what he would have said, and it sure fits.
00:49 BST

Wednesday, 02 July 2003

"How the GOP keeps the FBI stupid"

Counterintelligent by Josh Marshall in The Washington Monthly:

In March, 2003, the FBI arrested a Chinese-American businesswoman and Republican fundraiser, alleging that she had passed a frighteningly broad range of American intelligence secrets to the People's Republic of China (PRC). For two decades, Katrina Leung had been a paid bureau informant, supplying information on Chinese intelligence operations in America. She'd also been sleeping with two senior FBI agents--one of whom was her so-called "handler"--for the better part of those two decades. It was alleged that she had transmitted what she learned about American counterintelligence from her lovers to Beijing and sent Beijing's disinformation back through the FBI. The story was sordid, embarrassing, and, worse than that, quite grave: Intelligence sources told The Washington Post that Leung had single-handedly compromised 20 years of American counter-intelligence work against the PRC.

Democrats, who in 1997 weathered endless--and ultimately unproven--accusations of selling political favors or national security secrets for PRC money, can take a measure of satisfaction from this unlikely coda: The only bonafide Chinese spy so far turns out to have been not only a Republican, but a well-connected GOP fundraiser. And not just any Republican fundraiser, but one who happened to be sleeping with one of the lead FBI agents investigating Democratic fundraising.
Facing this potential onslaught, Freeh made a tacit arrangement with the new Republican barons on the hill, as David Plotz of Slate and others have written. Freeh would focus on multiple investigations of his nominal bosses in the Clinton administration--Whitewater, Henry Cisneros, Mike Espy, Vince Foster--in exchange for a free pass on his and the bureau's many failings. That left problems in counter-intelligence free of either internal or congressional scrutiny. If Clinton administration officials were alarmed about the FBI's compartmentation problems and had plans to fix it--and it's not clear that they were--there was little they could do because of the Republican power on the Hill. Any attempt to rein in the bureau would be seen as an effort to stymie those investigations. In that climate of malign neglect, the bureau's ills were allowed to fester.

Somehow I don't think the creating of a "Homeland Security" office solves our intelligence problems.
20:53 BST

'Supreme tantrums'

Molly Ivins is, as usual, both entertaining and insightful on the Court's loonies:

Congratulations to the Supreme Court on its 6-3 decision in the Texas sodomy law case and to all those, including the gay rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union, who have fought so long and hard to rid the legal system of this manifest injustice. The Sunday chat shows featured a number of curious contentions over this legal decision: It was interesting to see rank bigotry against gays trying to disguise itself as a legal argument.

Justice Antonin Scalia was foremost in this camp, throwing a public tantrum devoid of legal reasoning over the decision. Talk about lack of judicial temperament. Some advanced the argument that the law should have been left in place because it is rarely enforced. In fact, it was enforced, that's why there was a case in front of the Supreme Court, and under what principle is rarity an excuse for injustice? Because we relatively rarely execute people who are innocent, does that make it right? Slavery rarely occurs in this country, but it is still illegal.

The slippery-slope argument is almost as silly. The law is full of more or less arbitrary lines and distinctions. The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in theft is one penny. The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in drugs is one ounce. For that matter, the difference between a pig and a hog is one pound. To take another notorious Texas law, if you own six or more dildos in this state, you are a felon, presumed to have intent to distribute. Whereas if you have five or fewer, you are merely a hobbyist. Hence, setting aside a law against homosexual sodomy in no way invalidates laws against incest, pedophilia, etc., and to say it does is stupidly alarmist.

George Will advanced the theory that the court was in fact merely making an arbitrary distinction, drawing a line as legislatures do, when it is supposed to be deciding matters of constitutional principle. His argument was that the Court has usurped the right of legislatures in this area, that social mores need more consideration. The same argument was used against Brown v. Board of Education. Libertarians like William Safire contend that the principle here is that the government has no right to come busting into people's bedrooms, that we do have a right to privacy. It's hard to think of anything more intrusive than having your door shoved open by the police while you are engaged in sex.

It seems to me there is another constitutional principle at issue ---- the constitution of the United States was designed to protect the rights of minorities against the majority. The law is supposed to apply equally to all, and under the Texas statute it did not; it was specifically discriminatory.

Molly really digs into Thomas on the Affirmative Action dissent, but gets right down to the cheese:
The proof is in the pudding -- minority students at Michigan and Yale graduate at the same rate as whites, ergo, they're qualified, they can do the work. That many of them have had to overcome backgrounds as poor as Justice Thomas's can only be considered to their credit by any fair-minded person. Rather than assume a black student at Yale Law School got in solely because Yale wants "aesthetic diversity," I would assume he or she must be a truly exceptional young person.
Now that's a point. And who is it, exactly, who assumes that AA admissions or hires are necessarily substandard? Who, in fact, has been blowing exactly that trumpet for as long as AA has existed? Thomas' pals in the conservative movement, that's who.

Also via the Smirking Chimp, and on the same subject, see Jay Bookman's article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 'Scalia Constitution' is scary.
19:46 BST


Really, it's a great place to get the important headlines, among other things. Right now they've got an original piece about George Bush's class reunion, links to a Reuters story in which Bush shows once again that he thinks the revenge part is more important than the prevention part, and headlines the story about how Bush "declared almost 50 countries ineligible for military aid... because they back the International Criminal Court and have not exempted Americans from possible prosecution."

Meanwhile, The Horse is back!

You can order this bumper sticker at Cafepress.
19:04 BST

Liberal Media Report

Roger Ailes (no, the good one) finds Thomas Sowell telling porkies about how The Evil New York Times is "preventing its readers" from reading Clarence Thomas' dissenting opinion in the Michigan case by failing to print any of it. Says Roger:

The only problem with Sowell's argument is that it's a crock of crap. The NYT printed verbatim huge chunks of Thomas's dissenting opinion. (And, of course, the paper didn't "keep" or "prevent" anyone from reading Thomas's entire dissent.) It's Sowell's column that bears no resemblance to the truth. Reading Sowell's writings, one might suspect that the Hoover Institution has an affirmative action program -- for hacks.
Roger also is inspired by Cal Thomas' bright idea that gay reporters should have to disclose their "proclivities" when reporting on gay issues. Roger says:
But perhaps Cal is on to something. If reporters and pundits had to reveal their "proclivities" during the Clinton cock hunt, coverage of foreign policy and education would have gone through the roof.
The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.
12:59 BST

Ha Ha Ha

Joe Chip catches Rumsfeld laughing:

Yesterday's DOD briefing with Donald R. Rumsfeld and General Richard B. Myers continued the almost laughable denial that anything is going wrong in Iraq. It's becoming clear that Rumsfeld uses laughter to cow the reporters questioning him. This first exchange shows Rummy laughing off a reporter's reading of the official DOD definition of "guerrilla war" -

Q: Well, I know. But appreciating, as I do, your appreciation of precision in language -- (Inaudible.) --

Rumsfeld: You've got the dictionary definition?

Q: -- what the DoD definition of guerrilla war.

Rumsfeld: I was afraid you would have -- I should have looked it up. I knew I should have looked it up! (Laughter.) I --

Q: According to the Pentagon's own definition --

Rumsfeld: I could die that I didn't look it up!

Q: -- military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by a regular -- (Inaudible.) -- indigenous forces. This seems to fit a lot of what's going on in Iraq.

Rumsfeld: It really doesn't. (Laughter.)

You see, if you laugh when a reporter tries to get at the truth, even when you're confronted with your own words, no one cares what you said beforehand. It's like the famous "Chewbacca" argument used by Johnny Cochran on South Park to confuse the jury.

Rummy had a little trouble with the Q word, too.
12:09 BST


I've long-windedly updated my post on Ann Coulter's Treason to include a late discovery of Richard Cohen's article on the same subject.

Cooped-Up has some links and thoughts about the Supreme Court, the Lawrence decision, and why Scalia shouldn't be elevated to Chief Justice.

Not exactly a lauditory farewell to Lester Maddox

Charlie & Feoreg got married - and there's a nice wedding picture. Charlie also explains why he and I don't read HTML mail, and supplies a photograph from a different (and weird) sort of wedding.

Just go read everything at Through the Looking Glass.
11:18 BST

Tuesday, 01 July 2003

Bush Misleads

The latest smash hit by Mad Kane, to the tune of "Let it Be":

We must drive ourselves in times of trouble.
Mustn't tarry, must be free.
We shall work to oust him. Bush misleads.

For in our hour of darkness
Bush is fueled by ego, fueled by greed.
We shall work to oust him. Bush misleads.

Bush misleads, Bush misleads,
Bush misleads you and me.
We shall work to oust him. Bush misleads.

Find the rest here.
23:37 BST


Brendan Nyhan has the most polite way of saying, "lying sack of shit":

With her new book Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, syndicated pundit Ann Coulter has driven the national discourse to a new low. No longer content to merely smear liberals and the media with sweeping generalizations and fraudulent evidence, she has now upped the ante, accusing the entire Democratic Party as well as liberals and leftists nationwide of treason, a crime of disloyalty against the United States. But, as in her syndicated columns (many of which are adapted in the book) and her previous book Slander: Liberal Lies Against the American Right, Coulter's case relies in large part on irrational rhetoric and pervasive factual errors and deceptions. Regardless of your opinions about Democrats, liberals or the left, her work should not be taken at face value.
And there's lots more where that came from.

Update (02/07/03): Richard Cohen gets into the act in The Washington Post with Crackpot Conservatism:

I am happy to report that Ann Coulter has lost her mind. The evidence for this is her most recent book, "Treason," a nearly unreadable slog through every silly thing anyone on the left has ever said. Coulter conflates dissent with treason, opposition with treason, being wrong with treason, being right with treason and just about anything she doesn't like with treason. If the book were a Rorschach test, she would be institutionalized.
Note that Cohen nevertheless begins with an error when he says that Coulter has lost her mind, as if there were some previous pattern in which she appeared to be sane. The errors continue:
My glee in reporting that Coulter is daft is predicated on the prediction that her book, like her previous one, will be a bestseller. This is invariably the case with rants from the right. They tell the majority (non-liberals) that they are being controlled by the minority (liberals) -- and that most of the country's important institutions, particularly the press, are in the hands of leftists. Coulter has now taken this argument one step further. This wee minority is not merely wrong. It is traitorous.
Cohen apparently believes that the far-right fruitcakes who enjoy Coulter's work actually constitute "the majority". You'd think someone at one of our Newspapers of Record would have realized that this woman represents and speaks to the lunatic fringe. But Cohen, as usual, is not knowledgeable enough to know that the "facts" Coulter uses are by and large a collection of quotes torn out of context, deliberate distortions, and in many cases just plain false. He says things like:
Fairness compels me to say that Coulter scores some points. Parts of the left -- not all of it, dearie -- were unaccountably naive about communism, and as recently as the run-up to the Iraq war some of these same people again manifested an almost compulsive need to blame America for everything wrong in the world.
Let's be absolutely clear about this: Both the alleged left-wing judgment that Coulter describes and the version that the right prefers blame the world's problems on the United States. The right-wing thinks US diplomatic policies of the last 50 years have been a mistake. The right-wing hates the UN, which is, as much as anything, a US project. The right claims that US foreign aid has been responsible for creating or exacerbating the problems of other nations.

The left and right both have theories that trace poverty and unrest in the world to American interventions - they only disagree on which interventions have created the problems. The right attacks "liberals" or Democrats or Clinton for actions and policies they didn't happen to like (although, strangely, they like quite a few of those policies when the people who carry them out are Republicans), and think they can avoid being "anti-American" by refusing to admit that what they are attacking are US policies. When the tables are turned, all of a sudden anyone who criticizes the administration is a traitor - Democratic administrations are regarded as separate from "America", whereas Republican administrations are "America". Thus, when the virulent right-wing manifested its extreme hatred of Clinton early in his first term, the So-Called Liberal Media mused on how this supposedly unprecedented level of hatred was inspired by Clinton, and said something unpleasant about him; yet when a significant part of the US population distrusts George W. Bush for his serial illegalities and dishonesties, that says something unsavory about his detractors. In Clinton's case, clearly irrational hatred of him was supposed to be Clinton's fault; now, merely pointing out that Bush is doing what he very clearly is doing is supposed to be evidence of irrationality - and treasonous.

Somewhere in the last 24 hours I came across a post on a weblog in which someone (I would be grateful if someone would remind of who) quoted a conservative to the effect that the current crop of loonies is making America great. Making America great. As if America had not already been great, had never before been regarded as the most enlightened, most just and free nation in all of world history. Making America great - by systematically stripping it of all that made us admired, by depriving our people of their Constitutional rights, by aggressively threatening - bullying - other nations, by cozying up to the very people who are the source of the greatest threats of terrorism and injustice, by open contempt of all the things that constitute America's virtues.

It's the right that hates America - hates our freedoms, hates our progress, hates our ability to earn "the good opinion of mankind". That's why they are destroying those very things. Of course, I don't expect Ann Coulter to understand this, but Richard Cohen, who has been the "liberal" on the editorial pages of one of the top two newspapers in the United States, really ought to know better.
20:52 BST

News Stuff

Poll results: Confidence in war effort slips; Bush support still strong. His honesty numbers are down, too. But not yet below 50%.

Michelangelo Signorile in The New York Post wonders whether there was a certain amount of hiding the monkey in sending "Protecting the Civil Rights and Religious Liberty of Faith-Based Organizations" to Congress late in the news cycle of a day when the Supreme Court's ruling on gay rights came out.

Dana Millbank says that Bush is blaming Clinton for the economy. It's the era of responsibility, I guess.

The Independent reports that a high-ranking US official believes Tony Blair's people must have known that the Niger documents were forged.

WashPost Ombudsman Michael Getler fields more hits for Steno Sue.

The anti-war folk were right.
20:00 BST

Something's wrong

From Maureen Farrell at Buzzflash, The Attack Has Been Spectacular:

On September 11, 2001, when most were too numb to contemplate much of anything, Newsweek told us what to expect. "As a small army of fire fighters struggled to put out the flames at the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon in Washington," Peg Tyre wrote, "federal law enforcement agencies had already begun marshaling agents, readying them for what promises to be the largest criminal investigation in the history of the nation." [LINK] Nearly two years (and two wars) later, however, this huge investigation hasn't panned out. Attempts to uncover intelligence failures have been routinely thwarted; Halliburton has accomplished more in Afghanistan [LINK] and Iraq [LINK] than Bush's "dead or alive" doctrine; and sadly, the CIA's "spectacular attack" pertains not only to the trauma of 9/11, but to subsequent assaults on Americans' faith and trust.

Regardless how anyone frames it, the White House duped us. From "they hate us for our freedoms" to "solid evidence" of Al-Qaeda/Iraq connections, the Administration skirted some issues and manipulated information on others. In short, Bush Inc. lied and pressured others to do the same. The game plan succeeded, however, as polls repeatedly indicated that more than half of all U.S. citizens were consistently conned into believing Iraq was an immediate threat and that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Meanwhile, millions of well-intentioned souls, unaware of how deeply Bush cronies are lining their war-profiteering pockets [LINK], still trust promises of Iraq's "liberation" -- even if hourly ambushes on US soldiers [LINK] suggest Iraqis aren't exactly dancing in the streets.

Nicholas Kristof, fresh from a trip to Iraq, told NPR's Terry Gross that women and Christians are especially vulnerable now that Iraq's Islamic fundamentalists "are winning" [LINK], while Canada's Globe and Mail reported that Iraq's children are in even greater peril -- with Iraq's child mortality rate, already astronomical after 12 years of sanctions, possibly "even higher since Saddam Hussein's regime fell and the United States took over governing the country." [LINK] Given the circumstances, Iraqi rage, and the subsequent attacks, should have been foreseen. "It was predictable," Iraqi political scientist Saad al-Jawwad told the Guardian. "To any man or any woman or anybody who's living in despair what could he do? He has nothing left but to carry arms and defy the people who are here occupying his country and doing nothing for him or his family. Where is democracy? Nonexistent. Where is stability? Nonexistent. Where's electricity? Where's water?" [LINK]

19:15 BST

Six Million Dollar Man?

That's what The Note said it in it's e-mail headline about Howard Dean. On the page itself, loads of quotes suggesting that Dean is starting to look like a real player inside the Beltway.
18:59 BST


This is TBogg:

"I wanna be "Blunt, honest, easily comprehensible, Trumanesque".

Jay Nordlinger of the National Review writes:

I collect Bush talk, as you know (along with Rumsfeld talk and some other choice verbal specimens). I'm sure I was not alone in enjoying what Bush said when asked about a terrorist "ceasefire" in the Middle East: "I'll believe it when I see it." Blunt, honest, easily comprehensible, Trumanesque: That's Bush talk. I love the eloquent speeches, written by those marvelous speechwriters. But I love just plain, unadorned, from-the-gut W. talk, too.
WMD's in Iraq?

Taxcuts helping the economy?

Compassionate conservatism?

Adults are in charge?

"I'll believe it when I see it".

I feel Trumansesque already....

By the way..... this is a picture of Jay Nordlinger. The same Jay Nordlinger who refers to Michele Malkin as his "homegirl". When a dink like Nordlinger starts using "homegirl" that means the term is deader than Bob Dole's dick. Next thing you know, Nordlinger will start refering to himself as Jay-No.

Personally, I've wondered why being plain-spoken and blunt is a virtue from Bush but an outrage when it comes from the left/Democrats/liberals. "Bush lied, people died," is certainly blunt enough, for example, and couldn't be more to-the-point. And, in contrast to the rubbish that usually comes out of Bush's mouth, it's true. Oh, yeah, I forgot, it's that moral clarity thing: When liberals do it, it's bad.

In other news, Tom reports that Mel Gibson has joined George Bush in being one of the major public figures who gets his instruction directly from God, and news of some curious share-dumping by members of the American Enterprise Institute's Board of Trustees just before the invasion.
18:51 BST

How the Republicans support our troops

From Vets for Justice:

Many Congressmen signed on as Co-Sponsors of H.R. 303 which is a bill to do away with the appalling Disability Tax on Veterans. The tax is a 100% tax that makes Retired Military pay 100% of their own disability.

For every dollar in disability they get a dollar is taken from the military retirement they spent 20 to 30 years, or more, earning.

It is shocking that the political party that "Claims" to be patriotic, and for America's Military. The political party that "Claims" to be against taxes. Is the same political party fighting against getting rid of this enormous tax on disabled Veterans.

Yes, the Republicans have been using stalling tactics, and con games, to avoid allowing a vote on H.R. 303.

Republican Congressmen, such as Mark Foley, have united and refuse to sign a Discharge Petition to allow a vote on H.R. 303. They want to keep the bill buried in their committee.

11:55 BST

It's your airwaves

Oh, look, Bill Clinton is channelling me:

"It's your money," says President Bush when he promotes tax cuts. I disagree with his tax policy but admire his spin. The same argument applies with greater force to whether big media conglomerates should be allowed to control more television and radio stations: "It's your airwaves."
Bet he's sorry he signed that communications bill back in the '90s, now....
11:30 BST

Local News

Weather: It's turned all chilly and wet again, alas.

Gay marriages plan unveiled: Britain today took the first step towards continental-style same-sex marriages, with the publication of proposals for "civil partnerships" for lesbian and gay couples.

The Grauniad has an okay obit for Kate Hepburn. (She once said, "If you love someone, live next door." Good idea.)
11:06 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, July 2003

June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
Is the media in denial?
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And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.