The Sideshow

Archive for June 2006

Check box to open new browser windows for links.

Friday, 30 June 2006

Under the law

Brent Budowsky:

Does the President claim the sole personal power to wage any war, any time, in any way, against any foe, using any tactic? The other powers he claims inevitably lead to this. These questions must be asked clearly and directly by Congress and the nation, now.
So, yesterday the Supreme Court agreed that a president of the United States must act under the Constitution from which his power derives.

It is stunning and disheartening that this question even came up. If he's a president, rather than a king, of course he can't stand above the Constitution.

And yet, there are actually people on the court who doubted this.

People are hailing it as an important decision. I don't mean to suggest that it would have made no difference had they decided differently - it bloody would! - but how on earth did we even get to the point where someone has to go to court to affirm this?

And, in the context of the other questions that have been raised over the last four years, it isn't much.

Brent Budowsky is asking how a "free press" can function to underpin democracy and freedom if journalists can be accused of treason merely for reporting on what our government does. And, clearly, the fact that the press has failed to call this administration to account over the last four years is responsible for this odious turn of affairs.

Reading reports on the decision is simply depressing. The court was actually divided on whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction in deciding on whether clearly unconstitutional behavior is illegal. That's their job.

What's even more depressing is that all sorts of defenders of executive overreach piped up afterwards to say it's okay because it just means Congress can go back and write new legislation abrogating defendants' rights in violation of the Constitution. Just great.

If you think the Democrats don't deserve to be smacked for letting this go on all these years, think again. Carl Levin himself has been aiding and abetting this stuff. But most of them have been far too quiet.

There's nothing new about people in power wanting to take more power. But I sure wish more people objected to giving it to them.

19:44 BST

Hacking the vote

In the wake of publication of the Brennan report on the vulnerability of electronic voting systems, (story at Ars Technica; tip from Dominic of Epicycle), the media has had a moment of renewed interest in the subject. Lou Dobbs had Rep. Rush Holt, Avi Berman, and Brad Friedman of The Bradblog on to talk about the suspicious (and unexplained) inclusion of wireless input facilities on voting machines - video here.

Bear in mind that these machines follow the design of ATMs - some of them in fact are ATMs that have been altered to become voting machines. And some of those alterations are things you would never design into a system you wanted to be fully verifiable and secure.

So you have machines that are bundled so that you can affect all of them by messing around with one. You eliminate any possibility of being able to print out a receipt or ballot. And then you add a way for one person to walk into a voting both and use a hand-held tech toy to change all of the data for the entire system. Why would you do that?

There is no doubt in my mind that you would only create these vulnerabilities if you intended to use them. And when a shill for the vendors says something like this:

This report is based on speculation rather than an examination of the record. To date, voting systems have not been successfully attacked in a live election.
I have to say, "Prove it."

I have no way of knowing that the vulnerabilities have not been exploited. I have no way of knowing that the vendors themselves have not used the innate vulnerabilities of such systems to distort the outcome of an election.

No one can prove that elections haven't been stolen. No one can prove the paperless machine results haven't been completely manipulated. And since no one has been recounting the optical scan ballots (all of which, even in the closest elections, mysteriously gave George Bush a large enough margin that recounts were not required by law), we don't know whether those results were manipulated, either.

(In the only election where someone was suspicious enough to count them anyway, it turned out that the winner was the opponent of the person who the machines said had won.)

What we do know is this: The optical scan ballots can be counted, but the Republicans, including the vendors of these machines, have done everything they can to prevent them from being counted, despite the fact that this would be the only way to confirm the honesty and integrity of the system and of the outcome of the election affected by those machines.

You'd think a company would want to demonstrate that their system was honest if it really was, wouldn't you?

So why won't they?

15:31 BST

Links to watch out for

Conceptual Guerilla revisits discussion of cheap labor conservatives and their tactics in "It's The Ideology, Stupid", tying it to how it is playing out both at home and in Iraq: Make no mistake, these are ideological attacks -- even if their version of "leftist" ideology is a straw man. As a matter of fact, conservatives have invested millions in their propaganda effort to create this straw man. More to the point, they have invested millions in their think tanks and foundations, attacking social democratic reforms like the New Deal and Great Society. "Welfare" has become the symbol for the entire New Deal liberal regime -- even if "welfare" is a tiny part of it. Name your social or economic problem, such as unemployment, declining wages, the export of jobs overseas, or failure to improve infrastructure in places like say, New Orleans. You will hear someone out there ask a simple question. "Why is that any of the government's business?"

VLWC says Obama has jumped the shark with his speech about religion in which he repeats the GOP meme about Democrats being "afraid" to mention God. Maybe Obama just has a tin-eared speech-writer, but telling other people to use "the G-Word" is not a profession of faith, buster. (And didn't Obama vote for the bankruptcy bill? Ah, no, I'm thinking of the class action legislation. Where's that morality, hm?)

Every now and then you just have to catch your breath when some right-wing war-hawk pretends to understand "the realities of war" better than someone who has actually been in one. Look, if you understand the realities of war, you don't start wars. Because the reality of war is that it's horrible and it makes horrible things happen (and it kills people, dammit!) and you shouldn't do it. The framers of our Constitution had just been through a bloody war right on our own soil, and the first thing they did was write a system of laws in which there was no "unitary executive" and you couldn't take anyone - citizen or not - and lock them up without due process of law. Anyone who has a problem with that has no business being on the Supreme Court.

Joe Vecchio (of Cup O'Joe) is having to move house, and could use a little help.

Avery Ant has Bush Fever.

14:17 BST

Get on board

I think I was out when this arrived in the in-box:

Dear current and/or potential Gore-istas,

We're now less than 36 hours from the end of the 2nd reporting period for the FEC, and at (and the DG08 PAC), we've had over 1400 contributors send in $5 or more in just the last month, in our $5 Qualifying Contributions Primary event. This, despite our inability to do much plugging ourselves, as we lost our satellite modem in a flash flood ten days ago in Kentucky, and haven't received a new one (in the mail, so we're told.) In fact, I'm currently sending this mail from a Panera Bread in Iowa City, where we've landed to "officially" kick off the campaign this Saturday.

Our goal in this event has always been to show the breadth of Gore support, not the depth of a few well-heeled contributor's wallets. Thus, we've sought the $5 contribution, as it is the same as what my home state of Maine, the first state to support public funding for state candidates, requires in order to qualify for such funding. At this point, we have surpassed the number of large donors ($200+) of all the other potential 2008 leadership PACs in the first quarter of 2006 combined, but we truly hope to hit the 2008 goal, to cement the fact that Gore has widespread support.

Please help us reach this goal by putting in a plug for the $5 "primary" on your blogs. We truly appreciate it any and all support and look forward to the day when Draft Gore 2008 becomes obsolete (as Al Gore is the 2008 Democratic Candidate.)

Warmest regards,

MB Williams

MB, as you know, also has a blog called Wampum. She's not posting much there at the moment, but others are, and you might want to check out Dwight Meredith's "No Good Reason", where he explains why we hear precious little about the war in Afghanistan from the administration. Actually, the main reason these days is probably that Bush totally screwed it up and doesn't want us to think about it, but Dwight points out another reason why they like invading and occupying Iraq more than they like dealing with Afghanistan: A second part of the answer is that the war in Afghanistan was supported by virtually all Democrats. It did not provide Karl Rove with the needed wedge for the 2002 elections. Not being a political imperative, Afghanistan was not a policy imperative. The only real imperative known to this administration is political effectiveness. Ah, yes, of course. Maybe Democrats should mention Afghanistan more often....

02:36 BST

Thursday, 29 June 2006

This morning's bites

I don't know about you, but the news out of Israel/Palestine this morning is making me feel really nervous.

Mary at Pacific Views on The Sizemore Connection to Grover Norquist's little corruption problem. Also, Leonardo's tank is pretty cool.

American Stranger at Blah3 writes a letter to the media. (And MadKane has a limerick for the occasion.)

Jeremy Lassen put together a concise list of Scary Facts about elections in the United States - with linked citations. There were even a couple of things I didn't know about Chuck Hagel. (I haven't forgotten this, though.) Thanks to Lenny Bailes for the tip, and for the heads-up about Charlie Stross' new address.

Dominic (of) sent me links to Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street.

13:41 BST

What's goin' around

If you ask Bush's defenders whether they would trust a President Clinton with the kind of powers Bush giving himself, they pause and say, "Well, no." But it doesn't change their minds. They think we should just trust Bush. But Bush is claiming that "the president" is entitled to these powers. And there's certainly no way you can interpret the Constitution to say that Republican presidents are entitled to powers that Democratic presidents are not. Yet now they are even advocating trying journalists for treason for saying things that Bush himself stated in public. Basically, they just don't want newspapers to tell us the truth. We're supposed to give someone absolute power and just trust him not to abuse it, not to give in to temptation, not to be a sinner, whatever. Bush's essential argument is that we just have to trust him. Pretty much what Swann, an agent of the devil, says to Winslow Leach just before getting him to sign over his soul- "Trust me, Winslow."

Chris Bowers says the Supreme Court decision that it's okay for state legislatures to redraw the maps of their voting districts any time they want means that Democrats can - and must - do the same. And if we do, "it all but impossible for Republicans to hold the House after the 2006 elections." Via Seeing the Forest, (via).

Herblock on flag-burning. (I said what I have to say about this subject here.)

A letter to The Toronto Star: "Can it be that Palestinian lives are nothing, Israeli lives everything?"

David Neiwert has an oldie but goodie for those who doubt that the media is conservative.

Howard Dean says we're going to have the '60s again.

Gary Farber really didn't like the reviews of Superman Returns. (And did you really ever wonder what would happen if someone shot someone in the eye? No, I didn't either. He's invulnerable, fool!) (Oh, and Gary, you forgot Doomsday, who actually killed him.)

02:19 BST

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

American landscape

Steve Bates on what you have in common with Harriet Tubman, via Fallenmonk.

"America's Public Employees: Live Like Slaves, Die Like Dogs" by Jordan Barab at Firedoglake.

The decision to go to war raises life and death questions that advocates of the invasion of Iraq weren't even smart enough to ask when it mattered. We still need to ask them.

Poor Rush Limbaugh has been singled out for treatment that ordinary people would not get. (And let's get this straight: Rush Limbaugh was not the victim of a vendetta by liberals who were spying on him and trying to get him for something; he was reported to the police by someone who was an unwilling witness to his criminality and who did not like his dragging her into it.) (Also: No longer weird - although #18 actually happened to me back when it was still weird.)

Apropos of this, I just want to remark that I always found it strange that the same Serious Christian cousin who used to subscribe me to Billy Graham's magazine every year for my birthday (although she knew perfectly well that I didn't want it) was also the person who made sure to prepare my astrological chart for me whenever she came for a visit. (I actually did read the magazine when it arrived, just so I could be horrified. The astrology stuff was fun, though. It always said I was smart and creative and hot, which is the kind of thing you like to hear.)

Curt Weldon (R-Dingbat) wanted to go on a secret mission to hunt for WMD in Iraq. Seriously. Comedy gold. (Also: Conservatives discover ordinary food like the rest of us eat.)

I heard on the radio earlier that there are "only three democracies" that permanently remove a person's right to vote convicted of a felony: Florida, Virginia, Kentucky, and Armenia. Ouch.

18:16 BST

Choice cuts

Spend some time at Jim Henley's Unqualified Offerings today and check out, for example, this post from a real libertarian who has no patience with the rationalizing right:

I won't waste any time "refuting"The war for moral superiority" by Diana West. It does that job quite nicely on its own. Somehow in West's panicky and bitter brain condemning "Abu Ghraib, Haditha, CIA interrogations or Guantanamo Bay" becomes evidence of "perpetually adolescent non-judgmentalism" since what could be more "non-judgmental" than judging things? For West, barbarity is whatever we haven't gotten around to doing yet, like beheading people. One recognizes immediately that if credible reports surfaced that the American government was beheading insurgents or, as West scare-quotes it, "civilians" or, maybe best of all, journalists, her objections to beheading-qua-beheading would drop tumbrelward.

Instead, I'll point out a couple of things: All that quondam sanctimony from the hawks about how we peaceniks just didn't care about the poor foreigners yearning to be free had all the staying power of an April snow. Even now you needn't read too deeply into a popular blog's comment section, or too far into an Administration speech to find someone tut-tutting that we wish Saddam were still in power visiting horror upon the poor suffering Iraqis. West tells us that visiting horror on the poor suffering Iraqis is our job, dammit. All you humanitarian interventionists and Libertarians Without Borders, it is with Diana West that you marched off to war.

And on the way to giving us a good and true quote from Matthew Yglesias on what terrorism is and how the administration is helping the terrorists win, Jim also alerts us to an article, inspired by Alberto Gonzales' recent priceless press conference warning us that we were almost under threat from some people who don't seem to have been much of a threat, by Richard Cohen. In content, style, and quality, it reminds me of the old Richard Cohen who used to be much more consistently decent. Why, it almost reaches the content, style, and quality of some of the better liberal blog posts I've seen. He does still do that occasionally, when the RNC forgets to force-feed him his special medicine. Someone's probably noticed by now that he is verging on the, y'know, shrill, and given him an emergency shot. Expect a return to morally unhinged attacks on liberals and defenses of the Republicans any minute now.

[Heh. I linked to Shrillblog up there without knowing that the post currently at the top cites the shrillness of none other than Jim Henley, who (with Andrew Olmsted) is right again. We didn't have to bomb the USSR or China or Pakistan and we don't have to bomb North Korea, either. America's nuclear arsenal is only a deterrent so long as we don't use it. Every country in the world already knows we will nuke them if they attack us, with nukes or anything else - which is why they don't do it. But if we start nuking them first, all bets are off.]

And here is a brief interview with...Jim Henley!

The Word from Colbert: Class Warfare.

12:38 BST

Asleep at the wheel

Me, I feel so dumb, I thought I'd posted this stuff last night or this morning or something, but I didn't.

As Kevin Drum observes, it's not a question of whether the Democratic leadership is out of touch with the concerns of normal Americans, it's why. One credible suggestion is: unions. So, can the union movement be rejuvenated? Over at The Supreme Irony of Life..., it's a good question.

I think it's really nice that Warren Buffett donated a bunch of money to the Gates Foundation instead of starting one named after himself. Still, I look at Soros and Buffett and for that matter Gates and all I can think is: Why aren't you contributing toward a liberal media infrastructure to counteract the right-wing propaganda machine that is allowing these horrible criminals to impoverish even more people in the world - including our own country? Money spent doing anything else is largely a band-aid as long as these powerful profiteers run the world.

Bra Blogger of the Week: MadKane has instituted a new tradition, and this week it's me! Yes, I have my very own official MadKane limerick!

And then I just noticed that all this time I have failed to put Crooked Timber on the blogroll because I thought I already had.

[Graphic: Smacks self in head.]

02:41 BST

Bloggy Nights

I was over at Eschaton and saw a comment thread that wasn't too long for me to deal with yet, and I found this comment by the Mantis on the negative reaction the pro media is having to bloggers and feedback:

Ridiculous comparison alert: has anyone seen "Boogie Nights?" When Burt Reynolds' character first comes to terms with the idea that the advent of the videocamera has just made porn a far more accessible medium, no longer requiring actual film or sets (or directors for that matter)? He gets all pissed, ranting about how it's amateur garbage and it will never sell like HIS works of cinema...I don't know what Lee Siegel looks like, but in my mind I picture a confused, angry Burt Reynolds, bedecked in late 70s lounge gear, trying to get his head around the fact that now any old asshole can pick up a videocamera and "do what he does"...blogs are the writing equivalent: the production value might be lower, and less glossy and pretty, but any old asshole can grab a keyboard and be a writer, and the Lee Siegels of the world are having a hard time switching to VHS, let alone accepting it...
That's not a ridiculous comparison. And worth remembering that some of that amateur stuff became enormously popular, very often because it was so much more authentic than the commercial stuff.

01:16 BST

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Lotta links

I really find the Supreme Court's decision favoring death to be, well, morally reprehensible. Unsurprisingly, Alito voted with Scalia. And Scalia, true to form, wrote a chilling rationalization for his position. (Also: If you think it's all just about "bloggers", explain this.)

Echidne has embarked on a project of studying Christian Lady Blogging

Mahabarb says Billmon Calls It on the anti-Kos pile-on.

William Greider says people have the wrong end of what's wrong with the administration's secret spying on your bank account: Jack confirmed my hunch. He was outraged, but not by the Times revelations. The scandal here is not government over-reach, he tells me. The scandal is the pitiful reluctance of this administration (and others before it) to get serious about the problem. Bankers, Blum explained, "have fended off every conceivable rule that would really be effective. Why are we pandering to them if we say we are in such a desperate situation?

Why Martin Peretz Doesn't Like Presidents Who Are Honest Brokers in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Bush, GOP Plan All-Out Assault On Federal Protections: Apparently rushing to lock in a long-sought goal before the fall elections, GOP congressional leaders may bring to a vote within weeks a proposal that could literally wipe out any federal program that protects public health or the environment--or for that matter civil rights, poverty programs, auto safety, education, affordable housing, Head Start, workplace safety or any other activity targeted by anti-regulatory forces.

Carnival of Bad History #6 (I like this bit from Jon Swift: "I believe it was the Grammy Award winning guitarist Santana who said, "Those who do not study history, are doomed to repeat the class.")

What divides Britain? (via)

How democracies go bad

Homeland Security Meets 24

Godwin at play

23:38 BST

Pressing matters

Skippy alerts us that Roger Ailes (the evil one) is hopping mad now that Fox News is slumping in audience share. Hm, you think some of its fans are starting to notice that it's, um, unreliable? Nah....

If you're a non-subscriber and you go to Salon today, you'll see an ad for King Kaufman that has some interesting quotes from him, about how he loves writing for Salon because the readers are smart and cut him no slack - he describes them as the best editors a writer could have. Isn't it a shame the folks at The Washington Post don't share that attitude?

I was at Salon, of course, to check out The Daou Report, and learned that Peter has added yet another job to his already impressive schedule. This one is surprising: He has accepted an offer from Hillary Clinton's team to act "as a blog advisor to facilitate and expand her relationship with the netroots." I can understand why Peter took this job despite the fact that Clinton, because of her position on Iraq (and her pandering on right-wing issues) is a particularly hard sell for the liberal blogosphere, because his agenda has never been on behalf of any candidate per se, but rather to build an infrastructure that connects the liberal blogosphere to the Democratic Party as a whole.

Peter also has a link up to David Neiwert's "An open letter to my fellow journalists", defending bloggers and providing a potted history of what's been going on in journalism: No, the reality is that in that time, the levels of unmitigated bullshit flowing from the many founts of, er, wisdom on the right has been ceaseless, programmatic, and deliberately aimed at overwhelming the press.

Atrios points to a letter to Romenesko asking journalists to think about the fact that suggestions are now seriously being made that The New York Times and other news organizations should be prosecuted for "treasonous" activities merely for doing their job. The press has been asking for this by kowtowing to the Republicans for so long. Will it actually happen? Dennis Persica thinks it's time the press should consider the possibility that it will.

13:23 BST

"It's not to sell papers" posted at LiberalOasis

"It's not to sell papers", a bit of media commentary, posted at LO, which has no comments, so feel free to discuss here.

01:53 BST

Monday, 26 June 2006

Midnight snack

Epicycle, which is hosted by the same company as The Sideshow, tracked down a fuller explanation for the outage we suffered throughout Sunday afternoon and evening. Seems to have been some sort of malicious damage to some fibre optic cables, affecting perhaps 100,000 or so customers.

Cato guy for higher taxes - but only if it helps privatize Social Security. (The math is wrong, anyway, of course.)

Sure, Bush has "modernized" the Constitution to the point that it means the only people who have any rights are Republicans in elective office and their most useful cronies. So now David Cameron and the Tories want to ditch the Human Rights Act and replace it with a "Conservative Bill of Rights" that "would spell out fundamental duties and responsibilities of people living in Britain. So, a bill of whose rights?

Bérubé Against blogofascism. And remember, kids, Meat=Hitler!

Al Gore's 2000 Presidential campaign ad

23:47 BST

Wish I'd been that smart

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you? this quiz was made by Lori Fury

She married rich and got out with lots of money. Why the hell didn't I think of that? Via Kathy Flake, who has been in Scotland taking pictures. Have a look.

18:31 BST

Late lunch links

Over at Firedoglake, the books salon this week was joined by Eric Boehlert to discuss his Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, here and here.

Barbara O'Brien looks at the NYT op-ed by The Cabbage attacking the Kos-o-sphere, and quickly slices and dices the idea that Kos is our "leader" and we do his bidding. She points out that, for example, Kos and Jerome seem to be out there all by themselves in their support for Mark Warner's presidential campaign. (I've been amused by the fact that their polls of the readership pretty routinely show Warner with little support, while the leader in the polls is, of course, Al Gore. When the polls fail to list Gore as a choice, there is a huge groundswell of support for "Other".) Maha suspects that this is at least as much about going after Warner as going after blogs, but I think it's probably a confluence of interests.

I seem to recall that, when I was still living back there, the population of Washington, DC, was a lot higher than it is now (553,523). "If Washington, D.C. were considered a state, it would rank last in area behind Rhode Island, 50th in population ahead of Wyoming, and 36th in Gross State Product." Wyoming. Wyoming is one of those big "red" states out there in "the Heartland" that right-wingers are always pointing to as an indication that "more" of America is conservative than liberal. But, despite having a smaller population than DC, Wyoming has three electoral votes, and DC has none. Wyoming! Isn't it time someone did something about that? [Update: Patrick in San Diego says in comments that I "may have been away too long," and corrects me: As it turns out, DC has 3 electoral votes, just as if it was a state. DC has no voting representation in Congress nor home rule. It is, however, a member in good standing of the electoral college. Oops! No, I didn't realize that. But the representation in Congress and lack of home rule is still, of course, unacceptable.]

"Dick Cheney's Last Throes": How will we know when we have won? Will it be when things are as good as they were under Saddam Hussein? (via)

I'm glad I'm not the only person who is wondering why some hapless nobodies who had fantasies are a bigger deal than terrorists who shoot civilian airliners out of the sky.

Chris Nelson has set up a separate site for his photography.

Susie gives us a little something nice.

17:00 BST

Last night's notes

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire: "Morris Says Lieberman Will Lose." Dick Morris's predictions are of, at best, variable quality, but it's interesting that he's actually saying this.

A Terrifying Message from Al Gore, with a little help from Matt Groening.

Al Gore on Charlie Rose's show, talking about global warming and why we invaded Iraq. He even talks about PNAC.

Have another weblog: Assimilated Press.

Yes, The Sideshow was offline nearly all day yesterday - my entire webhost was down, and so, apparently, was a lot of the UK 'net, thanks to problems with the fiber cables or something. I don't know. But I couldn't reach ukreg to redirect my domain name to the emergency weblog, either. So while it was broken I spent a lot of time over at YouTube, with this result.

12:10 BST


I was over at Biomes Blog where Mark has linked to Barack Obama's speech, which is pretty good at putting the liberal case, and then I read "Why Conservatives Can't Govern", (linked here):

The United States, as the political scientist Louis Hartz argued in the 1950s, was born liberal. We fought for our independence against Great Britain and the conservatism that flourished there. In Europe, a conservative was someone who defended the traditions of the monarchy, justified the privileges of the nobility, and welcomed the intervention of a state-affiliated clergy in politics. But all those things would be tossed out by the revolutionaries who led the war for independence and then wrote the Constitution. We chose to have an elected president, not an anointed monarch. Our Constitution prohibited the granting of titles of nobility. We separated church and state.

Of course, we had more than our share of thinkers who distrusted national authority; conservative political philosophy may not come naturally to Americans, but a fear of centralized power and an unwillingness to pay heavy taxes does. Beneath the broad political liberalism embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was a frequently unexamined conservatism that questioned the very idea of the vibrant, expansive society that America promised to be.

Odd men out in America's liberal political culture, America's conservatives were never very unified. Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall wanted to see a strong national government created to improve America's economic prospects, even if they retained an aristocratic sense that only social superiors should control that government. (John Adams outdid them on behalf of a strong executive; he thought our first president should be addressed as a monarch). But this kind of New England Federalism would go into abeyance once America's democratizing forces were unleashed. Others insisted that this country should embody timeless Christian principles; they, however, soon ran up against the skepticism of the Founding Fathers and conceptions of religious liberty associated with dissenting Protestantism. With the decline of both, the only significant conservatism left would come from defenders of slavery such as John C. Calhoun. Once the advocate of a strong national government, Calhoun, putting the rights of slaveholders first, viewed this country as a compact among states, not as a unified society. His ideas would live on in the voices of those thinkers, primarily Southern, who objected to relying on national power to promote equal rights for all.

As this litany of lost causes suggests, our conservatives, while representing different regions and economic interests, were united by their irrelevance in the face of history.

02:30 BST

Sunday, 25 June 2006

All the world's links at once

Piege Angela semi dem unlined braBra of the Week

Ask Susie Sexpert: How to Ruin A Woman's Sex Life in 30 Days Or Less and The Straight Man's Guide to Lousy Sex.

The Raw Story reports that David Brooks puts TNR's conniption in the NYT; Jeralyn has a buncha links on this and a number of other things. One is from Wolcott, who has a lovely riposte to all this carrying on about how Kos is a fascist and liberal bloggers are crazy-angry. (Nice visual.)

(Meanwhile, is it good news or bad news that Republicans are defecting and running as Democrats, even in Kansas? I mean, do we need ex-Republicans who were too stupid to notice until now that the GOP is obsessed with right-wing religious nuttery?)

Great headline.

Department of Labor Union Busting

Nice round-up (with this), at FDL. I think I found this there as well, explaining why all of those who fell more than two centuries ago to rid us of the previous "unitary executive" died in vain.

You know how far we've come when Arthur Silber quotes Robert Scheer approvingly and Jim Henley agrees. Used to just be us "lefties".

Digby warns the Dems not to fall for the GOP's psyche-out, and reminds them about getting it out there.

Barack Obama's speech, and "Why Conservatives Can't Govern", both via Biomes Blog (here and here.)

My father loved this song.

17:32 BST

Sunday morning sermon

Culled from the comments to this post (you can still read the entire exchange here, but it will disappear in a while), Charles responds to Rich's claim that, "The day the democrats support civil rights as opposed to Affirmative Racism and Affirmative Sexism is the day you'll have some right to talk about justice."

Rich, civil rights don't belong to you or to me. They are a common heritage from God. When one person's civil rights are harmed, so are everyone's. And so civil rights always involve balancing one person's rights against those of other people.

In the course of defending civil rights, Democratic Congressman John Lewis was beaten so severely by right-wing thugs that he lost a kidney.

Democrat Charlie Rangel won a Bronze Star in Korea in the belief that South Koreans would gain their freedoms (instead, the US government propped up a series of dictators).

Democrats Bob Kerrey and [Dan] Inouye were awarded the Medal of Honor for their courage in defending this country and its civil rights. Many, many other Democrats won medals, including Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs fighting a war he believed at the time would protect your civil rights.

Democrats have been laughed at, spat on, wiretapped, beaten with billy clubs, blacklisted, illegally arrested, and murdered in cold blood for civil rights.

Democrats have paid money to defend the civil rights of despicable right wingers like Ollie North and Bob Barr.

I could go down the list of how Democrats by the hundreds and thousands and millions have suffered and died for your civil rights, Rich, and how very few the Republicans have been who have walked with them. Would it mean anything to you?

You apparently have some sort of a burr about how uppity women (currently earning ca. 70 cents on the dollar vs. equally qualified men) or uppity blacks (20% less likely to be hired or be approved for a mortgage than a perfectly equally qualified white) are undermining your civil rights.

If you loved mercy and did justice, Rich, I don't think any explanation would be needed for why such an attitude is ungracious, ignorant, porcine.

But I suppose I am talking about a Kingdom you will never see.

Perhaps someone can help me explain to Rich why he won't be treated any better until blacks and women and poor people are also treated better.

13:04 BST

Saturday, 24 June 2006

On the field

Gore wins his home state - Our favorite rock star shows up in Nashville to an unexpectedly big crowd. ("There were actually two protesters at the book store - they were from HillaryNow! How strange is that?"). I bet there are a lot of Tennesseeans who are regretting their 2000 votes for Bush these days. (Also: popular wallpaper.)

Yes, it all comes down to misogyny, no less for Al Qaeda than for those awful people that David Neiwert writes about. But the mention from Boing Boing gives me another excuse to point people to The Power of Nightmares, which you really should watch to understand both sides of the War of Terror. I note that the Wikipedia page lists, among other things, sites where you can watch it or download it. (The section mentioned in the Boing Boing post occurs in the first five minutes of the first episode, which you can see here.)

Martin Peretz is not shrill. No, he's just become a ranting loon. That's more or less the charge he levels against Kos, but go ahead and read it, but boy is that projection. (via).

Jeralyn recommends "And on the Eighth Day, Dr. Dobson Created Himself" by Eileen Welsome. (Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger does something I actually approve of. Boy, he really must be worried about his chances in the election.)

I have my disagreements with Peter Tatchell, but I've always applauded and admired his brave stand in favor of young people's sexual rights.

More reasons why I hate privatization.

22:37 BST

Boys and girls

I was just on the phone with Roz and she mentioned to me this rant she wrote about the fact that someone at Off Our Backs has produced the sort of anti-transsexual argument we'd hoped to leave behind 30 years ago. I'm always glad to see Roz doing one of her long pieces, and particularly pleased to see her writing again on this subject. There's also an interesting thread. I was amused by this tangential bit of subthread:

hafren: Then again, I have a boss who thinks being gay is a lifestyle choice ("they just need to meet a nice woman") so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

foibey: One element of the "nice woman" theory amuses me, because it sorta presupposes that a significant number of women are so nasty (define however you will) that anyone could have managed going their entire life without meeting one they like, which indicates some sort of serious social issue may be going on. I mean, forget the gays, that's the most absurd point of view I can think of right now.

Sometimes we forget how much homophobia has to do with misogyny, but it's true that this is often what their arguments come down to.

14:36 BST

The discourse

I didn't like Kerry's "Lie and Die" formulation because the subject changes too fast - it's not the Republicans who lie who are doing the dying, it's the troops, and it's long past time we stopped allowing the GOP to claim to "have" the military. "Lie and lose" might have worked better, but it's still not right. The literal opposite of "cut and run" might be characterized as "stay and sink", since the phrase is originally a nautical term referring to whether your anchor is stuck beyond recovery - if you can't extricate it, you have no choice but to cut it loose. [ Update: FungiFrom Yuggoth says in comments: I forget the blogger who came up with this formulation (bad news junkie) but an alternative is "stay and watch".]

But TRex at Firedoglake says that even having that conversation is letting the GOP frame the issues, and that we have to go more directly onto the offensive. I agree; I do well in debates because I don't accept the terms of a question that's wrong to start with.

To whit:

A Republican says, "All you liberals are cut-and-run traitors! You don't support the troops!"

Instead of frantically beginning to tap dance and show that you're not a traitor and that you do support the troops, you fire back, "Why are you Republicans such cowards? Your leaders are all draft-dodgers who've never fired a shot at anything but a bunch of canned quails and old lawyers. You're using the troops as human shields against the midterm elections! Do you like seeing our brave men and women in uniform slaughtered and killed? Or are you just too much of a coward to face the consequences of your failed policies in Iraq? Which is it? Do you just hate the soldiers or do you hate your constituents?"

There. You have just put the burden of proof on the Repugnican that he/she isn't a coward and that they don't hate the troops. Then you set up a false dichotomy that they can't answer without looking like a fool.

(It's a false dichotomy because the answer to both is, "Yes," and one is part and parcel of the other.)

If you didn't watch the Springsteen interview, do it now. As the lovely Charles Pierce suggests, it's really gratifying to see Bruce scoff at the very idea that people like Ann Coulter are more qualified than he is to comment on politics: "Seriously, do you think Coulter -- or for that matter, Ken Mehlman -- knows more than Springsteen does about any pressing issue of the day?" Like Duncan says, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with having a representative sample of ordinary people who don't know anything about politics getting to go on TV and talk about their concerns, but that's not what Coulter is doing; rather, she's shilling for a particular position - she's not an expert on the subjects and neither is she an authentic voice for ordinary people. When comics or pop stars voice their political opinions, they're just working folk, no matter how successful, who are voicing their own opinions. And, often, actors like, say Susan Sarandon, have actually done the research out of their own private interest and are more knowledgeable than the pundits who claim the "expert" authority to pontificate about who has the right to speak out.

So, it's becoming pretty obvious that the "Global War on Terror" is just an internationally-useful excuse to incarcerate or shoot people on the flimsiest evidence - even worse than usual. People rarely even protest because the stupidity level has been driven so high that they actually think all these totalitarian tactics can protect them from ... something. Well, no, they can't; they are just terrorism. Isn't it about time the press started pointing out that since the Underground bombings, the only known terrorist acts in Britain have been by the police? Certainly, the rest of us should be saying so.

12:26 BST

Press pass

From the HuffPo:

Tony Snow was asked [by Helen Thomas] about the news that the country is going through bank records...

Snow: Helen, will you stop heckling and let me conduct a press conference... Well no, I'm making an argument, and you're, you're pestering the teacher...

It's funny how He said/She said "balance" suddenly disappears when it's something like a study that a right-wing hack like Richard Morin at the WaPo can twist to mean that Jon Stewart is an enemy of democracy. Marty Kaplan says that's not what it says, and so does Shakespeare's Sister. The All Spin Zone deconstructs and Kevin Hayden declares Morin the Media Asshole of the Day. (via)

01:19 BST

Friday, 23 June 2006

Stuff to check out

Suburban Guerrilla, as always, has numerous interesting items linked, like:
Rolling Stone interview with Dan Savage (linked here): Once upon a time you could be a Log Cabin Republican; there was a moment perhaps in the '70s and '80s and early '90s where you could be an ethical gay Republican. That moment is Over.
"If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em" (linked here) - The fight over net neutrality is all about the telcos trying to suppress innovation, not encourage it. They want local monopolies and control over how you can use your Internet connection as well as of content. (Read this, too.) While denying it in debate in Congress, they've already signalled what they intend to do. Stop them.

Greg Palast has posted his Guardian article, "Voting Rights Act Nailed To Burning Cross" at his now much more blog-like articles page, as well as a section of his book Armed Madhouse on The Necklace-ing of Dan Rather.

Another excellent point from Atrios: Oddly, few who commented on that seemed to understand what [Ann Coulter] actually said. She wasn't simply advocating the death of all who worked in the NYT Building, though of course she was doing that. She was also signalling her approval of what Timothy McVeigh did do - kill hundreds of federal workers and others, including children. His failure to take out folks at the Times was her "only regret."

Digby really liked Gene Lyons' column this week (I've archived it here), but says to the likes of Richard Cohen and "Dame David Broder" as a whiner: "You've been outsourced fellas."

At LiberalOasis, Jessica Valenti says a new study is out debunking the right-wing claim that HPV is completely useless in preventing HPV - but Jessica, we already knew that! They've been lying! Also, Tom Burka rounds-up the week.

Epicycle has a whole bunch of good links up over the last few days on how various people, from your government to the MPAA to your telco, are trying to rip you off, suppress the competition, spy on you, even destroy your camera, and generally behave like a bunch of pirates. Here and here, and including a link to an amusing Stonehenge in your pocket watch. Further down the page there's a link to some little tiny tech toys, too - among many other things.


20:02 BST

Masters of war

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly
- Bob Dylan
Amanda picks up on Ron Suskind's book with "Hitler saved us before; Terra can do it now":
I firmly believe that the reason that BushCo actively refuses to prevent or minimize destruction is they are ideologically opposed to doing so. The problem is that in a peaceful, non-destructive environment, the opportunities to make an enormous profit in no time are limited basically to being clever and starting a business that makes a lot of money from your ingenuity. Looking at the collective brain power of BushCo, it's clear that this is not an option for them or their friends. But opportunities abound for the well-connected war profiteer if there's plenty of death and destruction around, and war profiteers are who we have as leaders.

But more than that, it's an important facet of neocon ideology to believe that destruction is a good thing for the economy. It does well to remember that it's an article of faith amongst the wingnutteria that FDR didn't save us from the Great Depression; Hitler did. In fact, the fetishistic regard for the theory that WWII was the source of American's economic growth can't be overrated in importance to holding together the conservative worldview.

Without this theory, they'd have to admit what any fool can see, which is the prosperity of the 50s came from a series of government programs designed to create a huge middle class(an issue that will hopefully start receiving attention again)-programs that were reliant on high marginal tax rates. And admitting that high marginal tax rates are a good thing for the economy is just not possible, to the point where any other explanation, no matter how asinine, will do. Enter the importance of destruction, war, and fear as economic motivators into the conversation.

Mary at Pacific Views also has more on Suskind and the puppet and his master: This administration has taken plausible deniability to a new level, no longer do they have to select a hands-off president with incipient alzheimer's. (She also wrote a post on improving the quality of teachers that is worth a look.)

14:12 BST

Last night's notes

Joe Lieberman stands up for his real party and gets Ann Coulter's endorsement. Thank you, Jesus!

Bill Maher Says Al Gore Should Be the Next President

Gary Farber on Darkseid - er, The Dark Side (aka Dick Cheney). And Mikey wrote about it here.

Age of Aquarius: Harold Meyerson notes that the WaPo's breakdown on how people voted on the minimum wage not only compares people by age, sex, and so on, but also by astrological sign.

Music from Little Thom.

I'm so old I remember when people had nothing bad to say about Delta Airlines.

11:52 BST

Thursday, 22 June 2006


Duncan Black this morning:
"All About Politics": We're staying in Iraq in part because we'll never leave as long as Bush is president. We're also staying because it's an election year. 140,000 campaign props.
"Forever": Republicans really believe that by promising to stay in Iraq forever they'll win elections. I do think the politics of Iraq are a bit tricky, even though the press completely ignores polls showing that the Democratic positions are in fact popular, but it's up to Democrats to make the public understand that this is in fact what the Republicans are gloating about.

Atrios also has recommended "Shill Wind", a section of Eric Boehlert's Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, posted at The Washington Monthly. I feel an obligation to bring it to your attention since, what seems a century ago now, I initially thought The Note was pretty useful. After a while, though, I noticed that it was pathologically diligent in sticking to the RNC-generated "conventional wisdom" inside the Beltway, and took it off of my blogroll - but you need to know that it still has enormous power to drive the headlines every day. Boehlert's piece makes this all painfully clear.

Tony Snow actually had the nerve to compare the occupation with the Battle of the Bulge, and claimed that if they'd taken polls in those days, people would probably have been no more supportive than we are today of our present administration's antics. But as Josh shows, there were polls, and support for the war was very high. But that was a war, not an invasion and occupation. Oh, and also: that was FDR, and this is a guy who doesn't appear to know (or care) what he's doing.

I linked the Cheap Labor piece at The Mahablog earlier this week, but there's an interesting little exchange between one commenter using right-wing anti-Democrat talking points, and a good response from Maha that is worth reading in case you've been running into this sort of argument.

Digby discusses the growing likelihood that Scooter Libby will be pardoned, and alerts us to dire warnings about the evil UN plot to steal our guns!

Almost everyone outside of the White House is beginning to admit that Bush lost Afghanistan.

Crooks and Liars has a longer version of the Santorum & Colmes video, and wonders what Santorum means when he says, "I'll show you the classified documents right here." Oh, really? Meanwhile, I'm with C&L in wondering where my check from George Soros is, and how it is that so-called professional journalists at TNR could write such misleading crap without even noting that sometimes people don't blog a lot from the hospital when they are offline tending to a mom in critical condition. More here.

At TalkLeft, some pretty depressing news as Tennessee schedules five executions for a single day, though there is serious doubt about the guilt of at least one of the men. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee has passed a Resolution of Inquiry demanding information about the telephone databases. Jeralyn also saw The Road to Guantanamo and recommends it (as do I) - it opens tomorrow and she supplies a link for the schedule of the cities where it will be playing.

And Dominic informs me in comments that the Jackson Pollack toy is stolen - but from a guy with a sense of humor. Still fun, though.

16:28 BST

WMD news

Think Progress has the story (and video) of Alan Colmes breaking the news to Santorum that the DOD isn't backing Santorum's WMD hype. The right-wingosphere got very excited by Man-on-Dog's phony news last night, but it's just pre-1991 stuff that was abandoned since its shelf-life was long expired. (I gather this is just stuff we've been finding all along that for some reason Santorum thought it would be a great idea to lie about.)

Meanwhile, WMD have been found - in North Dakota. Disarmament began immediately.

12:30 BST

Better late than never

I meant to wish y'all a happy Solstice, but I didn't get around to it. Anyway, we had to celebrate the fact that our marriage had survived another year in spite of the fact that Elton John got married.

I meant to credit Charley's first article last week at LiberalOasis for inspiring my resolve to demand that people stop calling the occupation a "war". And I meant to say that he's written another one, and that Jessica says that she has seen signs that feminism is not dead, and that Frederick says it's time to talk about the elephant on the table - the religious right.

I meant to say that Digby said just what I was thinking.

I meant to say that Robert Scheer has written a good article about Hillary Clinton's lack of leadership.

I also meant to be in bed by three.

03:38 BST

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Funny how that works....

We're not supposed to worry about challenging potentially fraudulent voter registrations, or about out-of-control cops, if we are adhering correctly to the law.

Well, no. In fact, you should be very careful indeed when people start arguing that we needn't worry about changes that appear to threaten our civil rights. Two examples:

The racist orientation of voter challenges by Republicans is sometimes excused on the grounds that they're not so much challenging them because they're black as because they're likely Democratic voters - therefore, it's not racist. (As if disenfranchising Democrats is somehow legitimate.) But Republicans always try to convince us that the military's votes are in the bag for the GOP. So explain why one district that was the target of a program to challenge absentee ballots was directed at a precinct "comprised exclusively of voters registered at the Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Air Station. Jacksonville is third largest naval installation in the US, best known as home of the Blue Angels fighting squadron." So when these uniformed folks were sent letters meant to confirm whether they actually lived where they were registered, the fact that they were stationed elsewhere - like, you know, Afghanistan or Iraq - gave Republicans the opening to deprive troops of their vote. "It doesn't get much seedier than deliberately disenfranchising soldiers so you can continue committing troops without interruption," says Amanda.

My thanks to Lou for pointing out that John Tierney had an article* in the NYT yesterday condemning the over-endowment of SWAT teams, which, since it gives Radley Balko a well-deserved name-check, not only explains why Tierney is so good on this issue but also let me know where I could find the bulk of it liberated from behind the Times Select wall - at The Agitator. Tierney directly challenges the "weirdest" part of the Supreme Court's opinion weakening the Fourth Amendment: Scalia declared that unreasonable searches are less of a problem today because of "the increasing professionalism of police forces." Well, it's true that when police show up at your home in the middle of the night, they're better armed and trained than ever. ... So if your definition of a professional is a soldier in a war zone, then Scalia is right. ... [Balko] finds that overzealous raiders caused the deaths of a dozen nonviolent offenders, like recreational marijuana smokers and gamblers. Balko also finds that two dozen people died in raids who were not guilty of any crime... I often disagree with Radley's libertarian analysis on other issues, but he does great work on this one and I congratulate him for helping to get good, accurate coverage of this into the NYT, and on getting the credit, too.

From the earliest days, extra impediments to voting have been there specifically to disenfranchise people who were unpopular (particularly blacks) with those who held local power. Similarly, we have an entire class of laws that have their roots in a desire to control (and disenfranchise, whether temporarily or permanently) large sections of our underclass.

I believe it was Fiorello LaGuardia himself who observed that the move to illegalize marijuana made sense only if the intent was to target certain ethnic groups who were most likely to use it. Today, although middle-class and upper-class whites are as likely to use and sell contraband drugs as anyone else, police actions to round up users and dealers are aimed largely at non-white, economically depressed neighborhoods. And, of course, it is the people in those neighborhoods who suffer the worst effects of both the resulting violence from criminals that attends illegalization and the excesses of the police (as well as the de facto or legal disenfranchisement of those caught in the criminal net).

And now "terrorism" is being used as a reason to make what is virtually open war on ordinary citizens. We already saw the beginnings of this problem when enforcement of drug laws was turned into a "war" on drugs, recasting the entire enterprise into a military effort against communities, where once the police were supposed to be "keepers of the peace".

"War on terror", "War on Drugs" - it's all just more of the war against you.

15:27 BST

Bush knew

There are things in Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine that should be front-page news, but as far as I can tell, they're not. The book had a big review yesterday, but that was on the first page of the WaPo C section. The paragraphs I thought were interesting were fairly deep into the piece, and not the ones that the media has picked up on - they're more concerned with scaring us about Al Qaeda then telling us where our real vulnerability lies. But imagine any president getting away with this:

The book's opening anecdote tells of an unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush's Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."
Please tell me what that means. Because, to me, it sure sounds like the ultimate smirk from a man who has absolutely no intention of stopping a disaster he knows is coming.
Three months later, with bin Laden holed up in the Afghan mountain redoubt of Tora Bora, the CIA official managing the Afghanistan campaign, Henry A. Crumpton (now the State Department's counterterrorism chief), brought a detailed map to Bush and Cheney. White House accounts have long insisted that Bush had every reason to believe that Pakistan's army and pro-U.S. Afghan militias had bin Laden cornered and that there was no reason to commit large numbers of U.S. troops to get him. But Crumpton's message in the Oval Office, as told through Suskind, was blunt: The surrogate forces were "definitely not" up to the job, and "we're going to lose our prey if we're not careful."
We weren't careful. Bush lost the man he swore it was his Number One Priority to catch.

It's not that I think this matters that much in the end - the fact that he took his eye off of that ball is less devastating than the fact that he did so to invade Iraq, but I still want to know why he didn't even have the PR sense to get the guy first. I guess Dick Cheney had "other priorities", but I've always wondered if Bush did, too - like how his family friends would have felt about seeing their brother's head on a pike.

Dan Froomkin thinks there are other things to take note of - like The Cheney Supremacy:

The part of Ron Suskind's new book that's getting all the attention this morning is his chilling disclosure that al-Qaeda apparently planned, then called off, a hydrogen cyanide gas attack in New York's subway in 2003.

But the longer-term significance of Suskind's new book -- his second major expose of the Bush White House in three years -- will likely be how it documents Vice President Cheney's singularly dominant role in the foreign policy and national security decisions typically attributed to President Bush.

Where other journalists smarmily imply that Cheney is in charge, or credulously relate White House assurances that he's not, Suskind appears to have gotten people with first-hand experience to actually describe how Cheney operates -- and what he has wrought.

But whatever else Cheney has done, it's still Bush's responsibility for taking a warning that the US was about to be attacked as mere CYA.

Michiko Kakutani in the NYT doesn't go easy on the administration, and emphasizes their determination to invade Iraq as well as their ghastly handling of the situation all the way down the line, but I can't help the feeling that it wasn't mere lack of curiosity that caused Bush's initial reaction to the infamous August briefing.

In any case, this Greenberg cartoon tells you what you got for your money.

12:12 BST

Collect the set

Melanie found a good one on what the Supreme Court's decision on evidence-suppression has taken away from us.

Norman Solomon on A Big Problem for Hillary Clinton: "Premature Triangulation".

Most people don't have the nerve to call them "concentration camps", but it's either that or gulag - Chris Floyd reports.

James Wolcott notes the disgusting phenomenon of right-wingers Looking for Jihad in All the Wrong Places.

We are not happy.

I went to Seeing the Forest for some brain food but I found a link to Miltos Manetas' Jackson Pollock and I wasted a whole bunch of time playing with it instead.

I'm pleased that I could introduce Todd Suomela to Arthur's fine writing.

I wonder if Egalia is having trouble with my name....

02:37 BST

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Does anybody really know what time it is?

In The New York Times, David Carr describes Cascading Inconvenient Truths:

Specialist Mike Moriarty is filming his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Kevin Shangraw, as they bounce along in a Humvee. He asks his leader for his take on the broader mission, and Sergeant Shangraw comes straight off the dome with a government-issue rationale.

"Well, I think it's a fantastic opportunity for the Iraqis to establish a new history in the country and be able to be a free and democratic society, which in turn should stabilize the whole Middle East and create a freer and more stable earth as we know it."

"Tell me how you really feel," an unseen Specialist Moriarty prompts.

Sergeant. Shangraw waits a beat as the bleak landscape flies by in the window before answering.

"Then, after that happens, maybe we can buy everybody in the world a puppy."

Via CorrenteWire, where I also found a pointer to "What a Republican Victory Looks Like", and one to "Why I Woke Up to the Reality Of Stolen Elections ": Later that night, sitting on my hotel bed, watching TV as the "official" returns came in, I got a sick feeling in my stomach. Miraculously, stunningly, what had appeared to be an easy Kerry victory was fading away leaving behind a bitter taste in my mouth, as state after state switched from the Kerry column to the Bush column. I kept remembering that last phone call.

At C&L, 15-year-old anti-war animator Ava Lowery of Peace Takes Courage, interviewed by another dope at CNN, shows calm and brains. Meanwhile, Jack Cafferty is not impressed when the president of Shell Oil says that, "energy independence is going too far."

If it sounds like the oil honchos are lying to you again, that's because the oil honchos are lying to you again.

EBW at Wampum follows up Nick Bourbaki's "The Problem with Kos, Part I" and "The Problem with Kos, Part II" with "Dear Howard, try 49, or 48, or ...". EBW says: Now there are things four DNC staffers could be doing in either State, but to know what those things are, we have to know something else first. Do we form, and continuously reform, this Party to win, or do we form, and continuously reform this Party to develop civil society? And Dwight Meredith reminds us of the truthiness of the conservatives' claim that they are not big spenders.

Digby, guesting at Firedoglake, has a gorgeous piece about Joe Klein (and the Beltway Boys) and crush-time on George.

Mary at The Left Coaster says the administration's PR campaign for America is failing - which is particularly sad when you consider that it's failing with a lot of people who used to like America.

19:37 BST

The Internet told me....

Hot news from Tapped:
Gore's non-endorsement of Lieberman: "Of course, when you've recently become a progressive hero and your former running mate is getting toasted by the left, a non-endorsement is neutrality in name only."
WaPo buries article on Iran's 2003 offer: A "secret 2003 letter to the United States from Iranian officials putting a huge slew of issues on the table for direct negotiation" wasn't important enough for the front page.
Higher minimum wage improves job growth: "The usual suspects predicted massive job losses among those affected by the increase from $4.25 to the current level of $5.15. Instead, low-wage workers experienced the strongest job market in 30 years. Poverty fell to historic lows, particularly for the most disadvantaged workers, such as less-skilled minorities and single-mothers."
Jerome Armstrong accused of being a stock tout in the 1990s - MyDD founder is now working for Mark Warner's campaign, and appears to have an unsavory past.

Are they reality-based? Sadly, No! In fact, they really do believe in fairy tales. Clap your hands! Now there's a strategy.

Spinning Gold into Straw: Bush shapes America into a Third World nation - If you're wondering why the markets haven't gone crazy yet, just wait. (Also: Cynthia McClinton.)

James Wolcott has an article in the July Vanity Fair (not online, yet, which means I haven't seen it - let me know if and when it's available), called "It's not easy being George Clooney", and I just heard him talking about it with Rachel Maddow on the radio. So they were chatting about the fact that some people would like to see him run for office, and you have to admit there's a certain charm in the idea. Like, that he drives the wingnuts crazy. But they were also talking about how downbeat the endings of Syriana and Good Night and Good Luck are, and how they show you the problem but don't offer any answers. And that charmed me, too - here's a guy who recognizes the problems but doesn't claim to have any answers. At this point, I don't think anybody does, so that in itself is pretty refreshing. But what makes him an attractive political contender is this: He is a very upbeat guy, even though he obviously sees the dark side of what's going on. It worked for Reagan.

14:16 BST

A war against morality

Arthur Silber has yet another smart and passionate article on the meaning of what we have done and are doing in Iraq, and brings me back to a thought that has been bothering me for at least a day, which is that the slippery "morality" of our leadership brings with it some equally slippery language and structures. I kept noticing that I was hearing that American soldiers had been "kidnapped", which if you think of it is almost a non-sequitur in itself. If we are at "war", how can our soldiers be "kidnapped"? And if we are not at war, what were they doing there?

It is convenient for the Republicans to invoke "war" when they want to attack our patriotism and prevent any scrutiny of their activities on "national security" grounds. It is also convenient for them to pretend we are still "at war" so that they never have to release the Muslim POWs they have captured. And it is necessary to talk about "the war" when they want to misappropriate billions more of our tax dollars to hand over for no-bid contracts to entities who are under no obligation to honestly carry out the business for which they are ostensibly employed.

But are we at war? Even leaving aside the fact that what we are doing in Iraq clearly is an occupation, we are not doing what a country at war does. There is no call to enlistment, let alone a draft. There is no call to conserve resources on behalf of our military needs. There is no war tax. There is not even a reliable definition of why we are there and what "winning" would be.

And our soldiers have been "kidnapped". Not captured, as soldiers are in war, but kidnapped, as they are in civilian contexts. As I write this, I have just heard of unconfirmed reports that they have been found dead. Are they combat casualties, or murder victims? How can we tell?

For our side, we just don't take "prisoners of war" anymore. Prisoners of war would have to be released if the war were over. Our government has tried to argue that the people we have captured are not POWs - they are "enemy combatants" or "illegal non-combatants", which is something else - and therefore not protected by the Geneva Conventions. We never even have to let them go. They can be tortured to death and no one is responsible. And this despite the fact that we don't even know whether the people we are holding (or have killed) were ever combatants of any kind at all.

Yet we still wish to declare ourselves innocent of wrong-doing because we have done this as "good" people. We are good. We can lie and steal and torture and murder without staining our souls because we are "good". We can make war on a people we say we are trying to "help", we can declare them a sovereign nation without recognizing any rights on their part. We have "given" them a system that is missing the most fundamental necessities of a free democracy - such as a real judicial system - and still claim we are bringing them "freedom".

Our leaders may be making war, but it is not the war they claim. It is bigger than Iraq, than the Middle-East, than Islam, or than terrorism. It is a war against civilization itself, and it is a war against us - all of us.

13:00 BST

The press, the blogs, the war zone

Jay Rosen's "Web Users Open the Gates" says that when he suggested after the 2004 election that some major media organizations should position themselves as oppositional to the administration, it was an idea that "simply hadn't been discussed in mainstream newsrooms." Greg Sargent says Rosen had it "exactly right.

"GOP: The Cheap Labor Party" - what the "immigration debate" is really about. (Also: "David Broder is Distraught.")

Dept. of They All Look Alike: Tony Snow apologizes for being unable to tell the difference between Sheila Jackson Lee and Cynthia McKinney.

Many people have linked the shocking memo from the US Embassy describing horrific conditions in Iraq, but Brad DeLong didn't forget to remind us that Zalmay Khalilzad is shrill.

"Reclaim the Issues - "Occupation, Not War"" - Thom Hartmann saying the same thing I've been saying, but it doesn't hurt to read it again. Fax it to your Dem reps, too.

Part 4 of 4 in Jamison Foser's fine series on the importance of the media as the defining issue of our time. He says: Do something. (Folks, don't forget that FAIR media contact list linked up there on the right of The Sideshow front page - especially when you see the media pandering to the right again. Let them know that you can see what they're doing and you don't like it. Politely, of course.)

"Joe Klein Embraces Defeat", or yet more evidence that Time would be smart to get rid of this guy.

I can't even believe they serve this stuff in schools. (I'd never heard of it. I must try it. But I still don't believe it.) (via)

If the Media Reported on Democrats the Way they Report on Republicans: "But the Democrats' scored their biggest advantage this week when most of them did not get behind a Republican resolution to support the Bush policy that has resulted in the deaths of 2500 American soldiers as well as the over 100,000 Iraqis who never asked for the policy in the first place."

Single-Gun Theory II: The shooting of George Wallace - "I have no evidence, but I think my attempted assassination was part of a conspiracy."

Shadow of Falluja

01:54 BST

Interesting stuff

Paul Krugman on Class War Politics:

But if the real source of today's bitter partisanship is a Republican move to the right on economic issues, why have the last three elections been dominated by talk of terrorism, with a bit of religion on the side? Because a party whose economic policies favor a narrow elite needs to focus the public's attention elsewhere. And there's no better way to do that than accusing the other party of being unpatriotic and godless.
So what should we do about all this? I won't offer the Democrats advice right now, except to say that tough talk on national security and affirmations of personal faith won't help: the other side will smear you anyway.

But I would like to offer some advice to my fellow pundits: face reality. There are some commentators who long for the bipartisan days of yore, and flock eagerly to any politician who looks "centrist." But there isn't any center in modern American politics. And the center won't return until we have a new New Deal, and rebuild our middle class.

In an exciting twofer, the lovely Charles Pierce goes after the revolting Al From.

Cup O Joe, inspired by Phil Agre's article, has started an interesting thread over at My Left Wing on Conservatism, Libertarianism and Liberalism.

MadKane appears to have set the GOP talking points to music.

Signs of freedom

00:03 BST

Monday, 19 June 2006

Eyewitness news: East London

I actually did go out and have a look at the protestors yesterday. I saw signs that said:

No WMDs in Iraq! No WMDs in Forest Gate!

We REFUSE to Live in Fear!

"Sorry But We'll Do It Again" Is Not An Apology!

101% Against Political Policing

Unity Not Fear!

16:19 BST

Makes ya think

Has anyone else noticed how often people who support this administration seem to have "bi-partisan" or even "liberal" credentials - according to the press, that is - and that those credentials end up going back to Daniel Patrick Moynihan? Well, one of them is Karl Zinsmeister, Bush's new White House domestic policy chief, and it turns out he's another one of these nasty little creeps who is helping to "Change the Tone" in Washington.

Bruce Sterling on Suicide by Pseudoscience: The Union of Concerned Scientists in a February report pointed out something the science press has known for years: The Bush administration has no respect for science. Ideologues prefer to make up the laws of nature as they go. And if you think this Lysenkoism isn't affecting how the rest of the world regards our "science", you're dreamin'. (via)

As always, Arthur Silber is doing so much good writing that it's difficult to pick just one to highlight, but I wanted to mention this one about suicide. One of the things people don't understand about having suicidal thoughts is that you are caught in a continuing circle of being constantly brought back to the thing that makes suicide seem the only appropriate action. For most of us, the best way to work your way out of a depression is to avoid all thoughts that allow you to dwell on the fact that you're depressed; just work your way through it and pretend it isn't there. This seems like ridiculous denial to anyone who hasn't ever let themselves get into the spiral that comes from acknowledging your own depression and thinking about it a lot until they become completely immobilized by it. But it's not always possible to escape it, especially when you are in a situational depression whose cause persists in reasserting itself on a regular basis. Now imagine that you are literally in a cage from which you have been told you will never be permitted to leave....

Ken MacLeod has an amazingly brief summary of the discussion on Iran, heavy with useful links. Especially helpful if you've been meaning to do some catch-up reading on the subject but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Good point from Atrios on the supposed youthfulness of bloggers: Why isn't that regarded as a good thing? If blogging is getting a lot of kids interested in politics, you'd think everyone would be full of praise for something that has made writing, reading, and a fascination with the workings of our government into something cool.

King of Zembla discovers a new division at Fox.

14:45 BST

"Those Awful Liberal Ideas" posted at LiberalOasis

This week's article, "Those Awful Liberal Ideas", is mostly shamelessly stolen from one of Charles' comments. As before, feel free to discuss it here, since there are no comments over there.

In other news: Hey, look who's back!

02:17 BST

Sunday, 18 June 2006

A little of everything

Elle Macpherson Intimates Demure underwire braBra of the Week

Eye-witless reporting: My neighbors are having a protest demonstration against police terrorism in Forest Gate. Good for them. If I was still a serious journalist I'd be out there talking to people. But now I'm just a lazy broad who likes a quiet Sunday morning to last well into the afternoon.

Check out Garance Franke-Ruta's "Hard Sell" over at The American Prospect, where she notes that the media claims of Mark Warner's warm reception at Yearly Kos somewhat overstated the case - and where she also reports that:

Warner, a low-talker, and the bloggers discussed everything from labor policy to the Iraq War in soft monotones, but as they did so it became clear that the starry-eyed idealist in the room was the candidate, not the activists, whose deep cynicism about the political system caused them to question Warner's belief in the willingness of Republican legislators to engage in bipartisan collaborations on such matters as health-care reform. "I'll just tell you, I think you're wrong," Warner told one blogger who said he thought counting on Republican goodwill was a mistake.
If that's what Warner believes, he's not equipped to fight a presidential run, let alone the Republicans in Congress. (And Garance needs to put "centrist" in quotation marks when she does that. Oh, and it's not a war, it's an occupation.)

I'm not sure what's funnier: the fact that a right-wing nut who advocates putting the Ten Commandments in public buildings agreed to an interview with Stephen Colbert; the fact that he couldn't think of a more appropriate place for the Commandments; the fact that Colbert could stop him cold by asking the simple question, "What are the Ten Commandments?"; or the fact that the guy apparently thinks this interview was such a coup that he highlights it on his website.

I've been meaning to link Christy's post about how the Republicans can't pay the military's bills and now I feel like a real slacker for not getting to it earlier.

The WaPo's editorial response to the Supremes' recent approval of the fruit of the poisonous tree is namby-pamby, but at least they drop a hint that there was a bit of judicial activism going down from the right-wingers on the court.

WaPo readers support Kweisi Mfume and defend net neutrality.

Please join me in offering condolences to my long-time friend and frequent commenter D. Potter on the recent loss of her father, particularly at this time of the year. (And let me say that I'm really aggravated by the stepped-up promotion this year of Mother's Day and Father's Day. I thought it might be just me because this was the first Mother's Day since my mom died, but my dad died in 2000 and this is the first year Father's Day has particularly annoyed me. And I already have plenty of anniversaries that make me weepy about the fact that he's not here anymore, just aside from all those little reminders, those things I see that I can't wait to show him before I remember that I can't, those questions I still want to ask. I don't need a constant barrage of Father's Day crap all week like this. God, I miss him.)

Something I didn't know about Indiana.

14:50 BST

Saturday, 17 June 2006

Heroes and villains

Via Atrios, this letter to Romenesko points out that it's a mistake to "balance" Ann Coulter with Michael Moore - but doesn't go far enough. Unlike Coulter, Moore starts with facts before veering off into speculation - based on those facts - that may or may not be correct. The jury is still out on whether he has actually hit the nail on the head. He also has not called for the bombing of The Washington Times or Fox News, the murder of Supreme Court justices, or killing conservatives. Of course, he is fat, but what are they going to do if he loses weight?

Skippy alerts us that the grand jury declined to indict Cynthia McKinney for "assaulting" a Kapitol Kop.

"What Was Missing At YearlyKos": But Lou possessed something missing from the conference, namely - not to put too fine a point on it - a critique of capitalism.

Ellen Goodman on Debating the spoiled-brat tax: NOW let us praise Paris Hilton.

Thanks to John Bogan for calling my attention to this post reminding us of who gave everyone such high expectations for the speedy victory and low costs of the invasion of Iraq. (And stop calling it a "war". It's not a war! It was an invasion and now it's an occupation. If you keep saying "war", you make people worry about "winning" or "losing" it. We should be talking about whether or not to cease or continue the occupation, dammit.)

Who's ripping off Weird Al Yankovic? He says he makes more money from album sales than from iTunes sales, although it makes no sense, given that there are virtually no per-sale costs (packaging, artwork, shipping, storage, etc.) for the download as compared with album sales. (Thanks to Randolph for the tip.)

Giblets on how 6/10 Changed Everything: a noose is just a suicide bomb with a very small blast radius, people!

18:08 BST

Jacking the vote

Scott Thill is teaching Votejacking 101 over at The Huffington Post. Rule one:

For: Anyone who wants their vote to count
Why: That's Bush territory, if you don't remember. Which means that if you're a Democrat running for office, you're literally running...from the cops, from the bullshit charges, from prison. Ask Charles Grapski, who's doing all of the above. Sure, maybe he's guilty, but it doesn't sound like it. Plus, that's the beauty of votejacking. It doesn't matter. All that matters is power, and who wields it. And everyone remembers what the president said about power. "Power is being president."
Meanwhile, did Busby really lose? Nobody knows, but there are certainly a number of reasons to think the voters may have preferred her. But not the machines. The Brad Blog discusses the PBS program, the sleepover machines, and more. The machines were actually illegal and uncertified, and many organizations have stated they have no confidence in the machine count. Hand-counts in some districts have called the machine results into serious question since they reverse the outcome. It seems clear that no winner should be declared until all of the ballots are counted by hand.

15:10 BST

Highway to hell

Human Events is a source I usually avoid, and Jerome Corsi is not someone I would trust to tell me how John Kerry performed on a swift boat - or anything else - but the fact that Thom Hartmann was citing his article "Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway" piqued my interest, and the fact that this is not an article that looks to have been paid for by BushCo. makes it especially interesting. The content makes it scary as hell:

Quietly but systematically, the Bush Administration is advancing the plan to build a huge NAFTA Super Highway, four football-fields-wide, through the heart of the U.S. along Interstate 35, from the Mexican border at Laredo, Tex., to the Canadian border north of Duluth, Minn.

Once complete, the new road will allow containers from the Far East to enter the United States through the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas, bypassing the Longshoreman's Union in the process. The Mexican trucks, without the involvement of the Teamsters Union, will drive on what will be the nation's most modern highway straight into the heart of America. The Mexican trucks will cross border in FAST lanes, checked only electronically by the new "SENTRI" system. The first customs stop will be a Mexican customs office in Kansas City, their new Smart Port complex, a facility being built for Mexico at a cost of $3 million to the U.S. taxpayers in Kansas City.

As incredible as this plan may seem to some readers, the first Trans-Texas Corridor segment of the NAFTA Super Highway is ready to begin construction next year. Various U.S. government agencies, dozens of state agencies, and scores of private NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have been working behind the scenes to create the NAFTA Super Highway, despite the lack of comment on the plan by President Bush. The American public is largely asleep to this key piece of the coming "North American Union" that government planners in the new trilateral region of United States, Canada and Mexico are about to drive into reality.

You know, I think I'm getting a feeling about why all those military bases are really being moved away from the coasts and closer to the border....

By the way, you have seen Robocop, haven't you?

13:16 BST


I'm sorry, I just found the news too much to cope with tonight, so here's a couple of fairly non-toxic links:

Little did I know there's a war on between Sadly, No! and Progressive Gold. I blame Atrios, of course.

I believe this is the strangest advertisement I have ever seen.

02:07 BST

Friday, 16 June 2006

Feed your head

SCOTUSblog has a discussion of the decision to ignore the exclusionary rule. Interestingly, at least some right-wing blogs are making the case that if the only disincentive to violating your rights is removed, that effectively nullifies your rights. Kevin Drum says this decision highlights why it is difficult to take "originalism" seriously. One of his commenters, cmdicely, says: More substantively than discussion of the seriousness of Scalia's originalism, the idea that "public interest law firms" or "citizens review" or, worse yet, "internal police discipline" that is a direct result of the enforcement of the exclusionary rule can justify weakening the exclusionary rule is ludicrous. "Public interest law firms" can't do anything to correct the problem when no effective remedy is available, "citizen review", if it does anything at al, extends protection based on public popularity, exactly the opposite of the intent of the Fourth Amendment and other procedural safeguards intended to protect all equally, and "internal police discipline" is a consequence of the fact that not following the prescribed procedure has consequences that the police would like to avoid; removing those consequences undermines the discipline. At Drug WarRant, Pete Guither praises Breyers' dissent.

Cernig on America's Next Big Foreign Policy Disaster: It will be a direct consequence of Bush's policies there but will probably not hit the fan until the next president is in office - and that president, no matter from which party, will do nothing to halt this coming nightmare and will essentially do nothing dissimiliar to what Bush would do in his place. Why? Because few will notice the impending trainwreck.

The US has a "real" unemployment rate of 13.3% - The trouble with creating analytical models that can make Sweden's economic situation look bad is that they can also be applied to other countries - such as ours.

Everyone keeps asking what the Dems will do if they take power again, but no one demands that the Republicans tell us what they will do if they keep power. The Carpetbagger Report explains why.

How Slacktivist celebrated Flag Day.

Pretty little rocks and World class origami (via)

16:57 BST

In the bloglights

The gods of travel have not favored me lately, that's for sure. It should not take me four hours to get from Seven Sisters to Holborn.

Read Atrios on the Phantom Menace of an inflationary wage-price spiral. ("But is that a realistic fear? Only if you think we can have a wage-price spiral without, you know, the wages part.") And on The Depravity of Our Media. ("There's nothing these people can say which will stop the mainstream media from putting them on. It's all balanced out, you see, by the fact that Michael Moore is fat.") Oh, and David Sirota is a sexy guy.

Tristero with a Memo To Democrats: Issue #1 is Bush. Issue #2 is everything else. Until Bush no longer has a Republican majority in the House and the Senate to rubber stamp nearly everything he wants, your opinions and ideas mean squat. No. Less than squat. And Digby on how George Bush was right about everything - Al Qaeda says so. Or, rather, is alleged to have said so, in cache of papers we just happened to "find". We've won the war! The troops can come home!

Did Larry Johnson go over the top? The people who defend Ann Coulter are outraged at all liberals and Democrats for what Johnson wrote.

Waiting for a gift from Earth: Americans and other foreigners who can't get an organ in time from being on a donor list are flying to China to receive the organs, justifying their decision by saying they aren't told anything about the organ donor, so they don't know their new liver, kidney or eyes, whatever the case may be, came from a person who was killed in order that the organ be harvested and sold.

Forget your rights: The Supreme Court now says it's just fine if the police do pretty much whatever they want to try to get you into prison. Now, tell me what the Second Amendment is supposed to be for, again?

Conservatives show their usual support for a religious President from the south who can keep his pants on.

Sponsor of Ten Commandments bill can't name them.

Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, reviews Ann Coulter's Godless.

Good Nonsense has a heavy-duty link round-up for y'all. And, of course, Mike has more.

12:46 BST

Thursday, 15 June 2006

At Jeralyn's place

There's an interesting post and thread going at Talk Left about whether Jason Leopold was burned by his sources on the Rove indictment story, and whether he should burn them for doing so. This is a rare (perhaps unique?) instance where I disagree with Jeralyn. I think it's too early to know whether Jason was burned or his sources mistaken, and therefore too early for any such exposure. This isn't over and there are still a lot of things we don't know. As Jeralyn herself knows, there are many unanswered questions left to answer, and we don't yet know how they will shake out. This could also be one of them.

TChris also has a couple of interesting posts up on high-speed chases as a public health problem and on flag-burning. Great quote from Bob Kerrey on the subject in this morning's WaPo. As an aside: The flag we were given in honor of our father at Arlington Cemetery is a cherished object, but that's not what this is about.

11:15 BST

Check this out

Suburban Guerrilla has some fine quotes from Juan Cole and Billmon on George's little holiday in Iraq, and sees a polling presentation by Schrum and Carville's outfit - and finds a fascinating quote.

I don't care what anyone says, Chuck Schumer is a wart on the Democratic Party. Who told him he was a king-maker, anyway?

Digby explains what a "special interest" group is to Ana Marie Cox.

"In Guantanamo, it is a box of candy" (via)

Echidne finds a bit of Republican "framing" (otherwise known as "lying".)

Conservative thoughts on Corporate Welfare - Investment industry types who are pretty unhappy at what conservatism is doing to our economy. (via)

Xymphora thinks there may be some Oddities about the Toronto 'terrorists'.

Hugo looks at a recent issue of US News and World Report and suggests they sober up. Or something.

Take drugs! Via Eccentricity.

03:47 BST

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Why the harpy screeches

Ann Coulter has written books called Treason, Slander, and now Godless - you'd think she was writing autobiography.

Her message is that liberals are evil and should never be allowed into the public discourse.

It is fundamental to the right-wing campaign against liberalism that no voice be heard that counters their campaign of lies. It is essential that each such voice be nullified without the questions we raise ever being engaged.

And that's why she hates the 9/11 widows so much: because she can't easily get away with smearing them.

The entire right-wing, having effectively silenced liberal voices with lies and mockery on issues relating to 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq long enough to make sure we were mired in a disastrous foreign policy from which we may never recover, is outraged that this one group of people, unlike all the rest of us (Michael Moore is Fat), just can't be biliously attacked in such a way as to mute them entirely. That's what this is all about.

She complains that she isn't "allowed" to answer these women, although in fact she is uninterested in arguing with the content of what they are saying - rather, she is arguing only with their right to say it.

COULTER: To speak out using the fact they are widows. This is the left's doctrine of infallibility. If they have a point to make about the 9-11 commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism, how about sending in somebody we are allowed to respond to. No-No-No. We always have to respond to someone who just had a family member die--
Not "something" we are allowed to respond to, but "somebody". Somebody they can personally attack.

What she is demanding is the right to attack them personally rather than answer their argument. Deprived of the weapon of ad hominem attack, she may be forced to engage what the 9/11 families and the survivors of our military dead, like Cindy Sheehan, are trying to say.

So, since she still can't engage what they are saying, she is complaining that they are saying it at all. She has been given ample opportunity to answer the question Cindy Sheehan has been asking for these many months, but she can't. She cannot even explain why she objects to the 9/11 families' campaign for a full investigation of our inexplicable vulnerability on 11 September 2001.

What she wants is not, as she claims, someone she "can" respond to, but that the questions never be asked. Only "liberals", she wants us to believe, would ask them. Yet these people, who obviously have a much more personal reason for asking them that owes nothing to their political philosophy, are throwing a wrench into the works of her argument.

Coulter can whine all she wants to, but let's not forget what she wants to obscure: that we still don't know why our country was helpless on 9/11 or why Bush sent our people to die (and kill) in Iraq. And that Peace Takes Courage. (via)

17:10 BST

Stuff I saw

Wolcott on the rise and fall of Zarqawi.

Alterman in The Nation: "Truth Is for 'Liberals'".

In an otherwise boring column, Richard Cohen admits that the NYT piece on the Clintons' love-life was "ridiculous".

Ezra notes the Kool-Aid stains on Ana Marie Cox; read the thread, where commenters make good points and come up with a great book title.

A hack in pursuit of martyrdom - Jake Tapper continues to provide cover for Bush and Rove - but why?

14:00 BST


At Firedoglake, Christy Harden Smith (here and here), and Jane Hamsher (here) explain why the letter to Rove's lawyer doesn't quite let him off the hook, and may very well spell doom for Cheney. But Jeralyn says there has been no deal for Rove, and that he just walked. However, the Wilsons' attorney appears to be threatening a civil suit. (Of course, there is no guarantee that Rove will not ultimately be charged - it's just that right now, it's not on the table.)

Here is John Holbo talking about the olden days when calling someone a "conservative" was abusive language, taking off from Matt Yglesias on "unapologetic liberals".

It's pretty obvious why Republicans are so sure that people are voting illegally - they do it all the time. First it was Coulter, and now it's Tom DeLay.

One of my commenters, Apikoros, has decided to start a blog.

Tristero tries to answer the question of whether a libertarian can be happy among liberals.

What Bob Higgins wants to believe: America does not torture.

Alt Hippo has been at the Take Back America conference, and saw this: The key point, in my opinion was when an audience member described an idea he had for a grass roots vide project for his neighborhood in NJ. Robert Greenwald's response was "Why are you asking us? Do it."

Alexandrine appears to be really pissed off about the whole HDTV DRM business.

TBogg brings you Alzheimer Mystery Theater.

Atrios says to listen to this song about net neutrality.

01:57 BST

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Conservative comedy

Man, they even have a corrupt official named Jerry Lewis, and it still isn't funny.

Josh Marshall sends us to this picture. And they laughed at Dukakis.

Swopa finds out who briefs Bush. In another world, this could be comedy.

22:32 BST

Open windows

Breaking: No Fitzmas - I just heard on the radio that Karl Rove's lawyer has been told that Rove will not be indicted in the Plame case. Bummer. Can't find the story online yet. Update: Rove Won't Be Charged in CIA Leak Case: Fitzgerald called Luskin late Monday afternoon to tell him he would not be seeking charges against Rove. ... Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said the White House official "is elated" and said that "we're done." ... "He doesn't belong in the White House. If the president valued America more than he valued his connection to Karl Rove, Karl Rove would have been fired a long time ago," said Dean, the Democratic Party chairman, speaking Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show. "So I think this is probably good news for the White House, but it's not very good news for America." (via)

"Media Activists Fight Clear Channel's 'Hate Radio'": But this time, Clear Channel's ongoing tolerance of "shock-jock" programmers resulted in on-air threats of death and references to sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl on one of the New York City's highest-rated urban stations.

Melanie found an interesting article pointing out that Latino Immigrants assimilate just as quickly as any other group.

John Edwards leading polls in Ohio, and a discussion about - and with - George Soros.

The Democratic Party's bigot problem - Rather than taking pride in Kweisi Mfume's ability to rise above his past, Steny Hoyer wants Democrats to be embarrassed and worried that he might be seen as a... word that stars with "n".

Two members of "the mainstream media" wonder why the corporate media can't be bothered to take seriously RFK, Jr.'s questions about the election: Seattle Post-Intelligencer associate publisher Kenneth F. Bunting, who notes that the blogosphere made the Downing Street Memo into news even though the professional media tried to ignore it (but is there a blogosphere push to do the same for our elections?); and Bob Herbert, who says: "The right to vote is supposed to mean something in the United States. The idea of going to war overseas in the name of the democratic process while making a mockery of that process here at home is just too ludicrous."

Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks - the difference between what the media told us and what is known.

David Podvin on the Comprehensive Moral Squalor of the GOP's outrageous immigration bill.

MadKane has a little limerick about the "bravery" of Arlen Specter.

Before Prohibition: Images from the preprohibition era when many psychotropic substances were legally available in America and Europe.

12:33 BST

"Know Your Enemy" at LiberalOasis

I've just posted "Know Your Enemy" to LiberalOasis, reminding people of Phil Agre's 2004 article "What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?"

LO doesn't have comments, so if you want to talk about my article or Agre's, you could do that here.

02:49 BST

Monday, 12 June 2006

Fun and games

It looks like Sarbanes and Mikulski haven't picked a position on net neutrality yet, so I wrote to them. Find out where your Senators stand, and send them a note..

This is another good article by Eric Boehlert, responding to a review of his book by none other than Michael Getler, former professional apologist for the WaPo, doing much what he did before. But I was entertained by the "People Ranker" over on the left. Change the names one at a time - leave MoDo's for comparison - and have fun.

Bill Scher agrees with me that we should all pay attention to, and make noise about, the fact that Barbara Lee's provision to prevent permanent basis in Iraq was secretly stripped out in conference. Don't forget to mention that it was passed unanimously. Demand an explanation for the flip-flop.

Jeralyn recommends the very clever Amnesty International Switzerland ad campaign - the German copy translates to something like, "It's happening. Not here, but now." Take a look.

Lt. Col. C. LeMay Thumper (David Neiwert) writes a manly letter to Gen. J.C. Christian (Patriot) in an effort to defend the sacred institution of marriage. (via) (More seriously, Neiwert engages Greenwald, here.)

22:57 BST

The elusive center

In an otherwise tolerable article in yesterday's paper on Yearly Kos, The Washington Post pits liberal bloggers against someone they call "centrists".

The WaPo just can't stop calling the right-wing of the Democratic Party "centrists":

Today's Democratic Party has just one basic schism, between liberals and centrists. But that schism -- reflected in an avalanche of recent books, articles and blogs -- helps explain most of the party's soul-searching: Liberals want the party to be more liberal. Centrists want the party to be more centrist. And those biases tend to translate into diagnoses of the party's ailments, and prescriptions for cures.
Can anyone make sense of that in any way that doesn't define "liberal" as simply "not in the DLC"? Well, maybe "not pro-war". But any examination of the terrain shows that pretty much everyone - and I don't just mean Democrats (activist or otherwise) - thinks the Democrats should be doing more to control the excesses of the Republicans. Yes, even ordinary Republicans think this. And that probably represents the biggest split between the blogosphere (or "net roots", as Kos likes to call them) and the Democratic establishment - they are timid triangulators, and we're as sick of it as most people are.

Now, it's true that the Democrats aren't really in much of a position to do anything about the Republicans, but that doesn't mean they have to sign on to their program or else give up without a fight. The real fight is to speak to the people - and without a debate, the people have no idea what Democrats stand for.

Now, the Post does get around to telling us who the "center" is:

For example, liberal analysts usually argue that Democrats need to tack left to fire up their base, instead of blindly following the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Markos Moulitsas, the proprietor of the Daily Kos blog and coauthor of "Crashing the Gate," is more pragmatic than his critics suggest, but he generally argues that Democrats should do more to distinguish themselves from Republicans, that their core supporters have been discouraged by me-too DLC types who supported Bush's tax cuts and the Iraq war. In "Hostile Takeover," former congressional aide David Sirota goes even further, accusing DLC free-traders of ruining the party by selling out to corporate donors, "even as polls show Americans want Democrats to start standing up for people's economic rights."
Hm, sounds like "the center" is actually a creature called "corporate interests". I think most people in America would be awfully surprised to hear it.

Then again:

Predictably, centrist analysts usually argue that Democrats need to tack right to reach out to swing voters. In their book "Take It Back," James Carville and Paul Begala urge Democrats to moderate or at least play down their support for abortion, gay rights and gun control; they also tell the party's liberal interest groups -- civil rights advocates, labor unions, environmentalists -- to "back off a bit."
Ah, there's the Democratic Party that people can love and identify with - one that sells out its principles and doesn't stand up for anything - even something that the majority of Americans support, such as reproductive rights, gun control, or gay rights. And I'm sure that, in an open debate, Americans would all agree that no one should defend the rights of people who work for a living, either, so no unions. "We don't really have to stand behind our beliefs!" sounds like a great rallying cry.

Sure, Republicans have re-cast some of these issues in derogatory terms, but since no one is arguing with conservative propaganda, the GOP has been considerably more effective than it ought to have been.

"Centrists", then, are simply more competent versions of the corporatist war-hawk party. There are no other programs or beliefs they are prepared to stand behind. They still plan to out-source your job to India, and have no plans for getting out of Iraq, but they'll do it in a good way.

Yes, that will really win them over at the polls.

17:59 BST

The wealth of the interweb

Is Garth Brooks a liberal? At the Liberal Country Fan's new digs, an examination of Brooks' "We Shall Be Free" tells us that Brooks is no anti-gay, free-market theofascist: And when money talks for the very last time, And nobody walks a step behind, When there's only one race and that's mankind, Then we shall be free. LCF says this is "Imagine" without the "no religion" line - and with gay rights.

Sun Myung Moon - was he trying to bribe his way into a pardon? (And just in case you've forgotten....)

I wish Charles Dodgson posted more often....

Thought Crimes says it's likely we're not rid of Coulter yet.

David Podvin reveals the Comprehensive Moral Squalor behind the bait-and-switch immigration bill that's meant to undermine American workers. (via)

Katherine at Obsidian Wings on Incidents of Manipulative Self-Injurious Behavior Culminating in Acts of Asymmetric Warfare, trying to give names and faces to the nameless, faceless dead.

"Don't leave elections to politicians," says Randy Schultz in The Palm Beach Post, in an article on six years worth of dirty games played in Florida to prevent people from being able to vote and have their votes counted. Dirty then, and more to come. Via Suburban Guerrilla.

Kelly Hunt sings real good.

C&L brings you Marvin Gaye.

This video cracked me up. (And, is it just me, or does it start off looking a bit gay? And, yes, this song was a hit in the early '60s.) I dunno, tell me whether you think it's funnier than this one that Patrick tipped me off to. (And I will never, never let Paul McCartney make mashed potatoes for me.)

11:48 BST

And the zookeeper is very fond of rum

Passionata Caracas half cup underwired braBra of the Week

The meatiest of all blogs, Hullabaloo, has been doing that thing all weekend long, on where GOP money goes, Bush the coward, and an unusual (but forgivable) moment of cat-blogging.

Any sane person - Charlie Stross, for example - understands that people at Gitmo are trying to kill themselves because it's the only way to get out of the nightmare they are in. But, oh, that's just the "angry, Bush-hating left", I guess. On the other hand, this is what is posted at The Moderate Voice. In case you were wondering what "moderate" means.

Is Howard Dean's magic working? It might be, with Dems' fortunes rising and GOP income falling. But Brent Budowsky says there's something important missing, and Kevin Hayden says it is leadership. (You know what I think, right? Give it a twirl.)

Skimble has a graph showing that only one president left office with a higher approval rating than when he started. Also: Bush to meet up with old girlfriend while rumors fly about Laura moving out of the White House.

What J. Neo Marvin discovered on YouTube.

00:14 BST

Sunday, 11 June 2006

Buncha links

OK, now the suicides at Guantanamo are just "a good PR move". Jeez.

The General on the Pope. More from Is That Legal.

So, what did MoDo* and AdNags learn at Yearly Kos? Not much, says Peter Daou after reading their articles. (By the way, the ad at Salon today is for Deadwood, so it might interest you to see it, even if you weren't planning on getting the free pass to read through.)

At The Left Coaster, Mary hopes that bloggers won't be seduced by the food the way leading political journalists were by Bush's lobster bake, and pessimist says that America is gone.

Georgia10 wants to know why suicide attempts at Guantanamo are being understated in the press. (And there are some clips of panels and speeches from Yearly Kos up at Google Video, here. [Hey, Matt Stoller is kinda cute.]) Also: Ten progressive principles; I'm not sure how helpful this article is, but it may be worth discussing.

Lance Mannion on Evil Minds, and whether Ann Coulter has one.

Maru finds more evidence that Bush thinks it's all about him: "That's George Washington, the first president, of course. The interesting thing about him is that I read three - three or four books about him last year. Isn't that interesting?"*

Congressional Conservatives Quietly Strip Provision That Prohibited Permanent Bases In Iraq - that's the same amendment they unanimously passed. So, what's the background on the flip-flop? Let me guess....

Barbara Ehrenreich has a blog. I'm surprised I hadn't noticed this already.

17:51 BST

Dem blues

Patrick* has been IMing me with some interesting links, including two that lead to depressing thoughts about the Democratic Party, of which it is often said.

Jane Hamsher, for example discovers that, on one subject at least, Barbara Boxer is so Clueless that she might be mistaken for one of the decaf-Dems of the DLC:

Barbara Boxer came upstairs after her speech at YK yesterday and Tom Curry from MSNBC asked her about her position on Joe Lieberman. Boxer enthusiastically expressed her support of her esteemed colleague with whom she had worked many times over the years, and said all of the opposition to Joe was based on his support of the war. She said other groups, like women, were backing Joe because he was so good on their issues. I like many things about Barbara Boxer so I'm going to assume here that she's an idiot and not a liar.
Boxer, it turns out, was surprised to learn that anyone at Yearly Kos even cared about the subject. Oh, dear.

No wonder Jim Henley, who isn't a liberal to start with, is worried about The Risk of having the Democrats regain power:

The danger from the libertarian perspective is not that we elect Democrats and they stop official torture and curtail the policy of preventive war while they get about the business of changing health care policy and raising taxes and preserving 70-year-old social welfare programs in amber. The danger is that we elect Democrats and they leave torture and preventive war largely unchanged to cover their right flank, so that the Democratic Party can get about the business of changing health care policy and raising taxes and preserving 70-year-old social welfare programs in amber.
It is a bafflement to me that Jim still thinks having universal healthcare would be worse than not having it, but he is pretty damned smart on civil liberties matters and I have to say I share his fear that the Dems still think they have to look macho at the expense of things that really matter. There are already far too many of them who have let the right-wing convince them that they are offending too many people by holding positions that 75% of the American public holds - and supporting them weakly, if that. (You really think the current crop of Dems have been fighting for reproductive choice? Show me where.)

But that reminds me that I meant to comment on David Broder's recommendation to permanently kill the Democratic Party (although he doesn't say that's the intention) last week. Fortunately, in a spurt of writing in whole paragraphs, Busy, Busy, Busy had it covered - before dropping into an even more terse than usual series of posts.

14:43 BST

"Assault on conventional wisdom"

Editor, schmeditor: In the latest WaPo ombud, Deborah Howell gives us this in a response to a reader's complaint:

Outlook, to which Glasser has brought a number of changes recently, has run several opinion pieces that have brought strong reader reaction. In the words of Glasser's deputy, Carlos Lozada, "Outlook should mount a weekly assault on conventional wisdom."
This is the kind of thinking that leads bored rock stars to smash up hotel furniture and toss it out windows in order to show how artistically anti-establishment they are. It's boring when they do it, but at least they have the excuse of being rock stars.

Newspapers, on the other hand, are expected to be aiming first for the truth rather than mere artiness, and while authority should certainly be questioned, the conventional wisdom should be "assaulted" only if there are serious questions about whether it has any basis in fact. Examples of this might be: "Saddam has the capability to launch a nuclear strike against us by Christmas," or, "David Broder is an insightful analyst of the sociopolitical terrain," or, "George Bush won the 2004 election." But "assault on conventional wisdom" for its own sake sounds like just another excuse for dishonest journalism - alas, something we have all too much of right now. The result of this attitude has been far more shocking and offensive than anything Andres Serrano ever did, though considerably less illuminating.

Some assaults on conventional wisdom are just plain batty. The conventional wisdom would have you believe that when people commit suicide, it's because they can't face the future they foresee for themselves. But, assaulting the conventional wisdom, the commander at Guantanamo Bay has informed us that three people, having been deliberately subjected to several years of demoralization techniques that began with telling them that Gitmo was the terminal stop in their lives, killed themselves as "an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us." (It seems obvious to me that people who believe this should immediately retaliate in kind. That'll show 'em.)

Even people who are not entirely insane can say things that fly in the face of both conventional wisdom and more serious examination of the facts. Paul Krugman was wrong about it in 1997, and Kristof is wrong about it now when he says that, "anyone who cares about fighting poverty should campaign in favor of sweatshops." The idea that a bad job is better than no job falls apart when you remember that there is a third alternative: good jobs. (Brad Plumer explains. (via))

Of course, there are times when the conventional wisdom is just plain wrong. We are being asked to believe, for example, that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was just this typical Al Qaeda fanatic who was Osama bin Laden's best pal and war chief, and that after a diligent search, the administration finally got him. Of course, this is rubbish, and should be challenged at every opportunity. (The Talent Show says this is the best thing written about the death of Zarqawi.)

This whole business about "assaulting" the conventional wisdom sounds to me a lot like idiots who complain about "political correctness" because we "feminazis" would rather you didn't get all racist and sexist in public. For some reason, though they are happy to fine broadcasters hundreds of thousands of dollars for saying "fuck" or showing a breast on the air, they regard it as fascism to be asked not to refer to black Americans as "niggers". In the name of personal liberty, they are outraged that some woman might decide not to shave her own legs. They compare Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth with Nazi propaganda, and then complain when our illegal prison camps - where we indefinitely hold people who have never been charged with any crime - are referred to as "gulags".

They can do this because the "conventional wisdom" is that when people on "the left" compare fascist tactics with fascism, we are "over the top", but when right-wingers compare editorial responsibility with fascism, that's okay. I am happy to see that kind of thinking challenged - but that's not what they're doing.

Oddly, the quote I used at the top of this post was produced in defense of a real rarity in the Post these days - an article that supports reproductive choice by a woman. I'm all in favor of The Washington Post defying their own conventional wisdom that for some reason women shouldn't be allowed to have such articles published in major newspapers.

12:36 BST

Saturday, 10 June 2006

Oh, God, not that again

James Carroll wasn't impressed with Ratzinger's speech at Auschwitz, which seemed to express his own little bit of Holocaust denial:

In addressing an audience of Jews in that city's synagogue, the pope roundly condemned the Nazi genocide campaign. But then he defined the lethal Nazi anti-Semitism that spawned the genocide as having been "born of neo-paganism." He made no mention of anti-Semitism's other parent, the long tradition of Christian contempt for Jews and the Jewish religion, which both fed the hatred of the perpetrators and justified the inaction of the bystanders. Little was made of the pope's omission of reference to such Christian responsibility, as if to give him time to make his position clearer.

Last week, the time came. At Auschwitz, again, he was unsparing in condemning what the Nazis did. But now he implicitly exonerated the German people, effectively defined the Nazis' ultimate target as having been not Jews but Christianity, and complained not of the church's silence in the face of the horror, but of God's.

Even I was surprised enough by that one to wonder. However:
But it is as a Christian that the pope most surprises. Here is how he defined the Nazi aim in murdering Jews: "Deep down, those vicious criminals, by wiping out this people . . . by destroying Israel, they ultimately wanted to tear up the tap root of the Christian faith." As if to dramatize this astounding claim that the "ultimate" Nazi target at Auschwitz was the church, Benedict greeted 32 camp survivors, all but one of whom were Polish Catholics. A lone Jew represented the more than one million Jews who died there. With no apparent embarrassment, the pope prayed, "Why, Lord, did you remain silent?"
Yep, he really did.

You know, I thought John Paul's regressive approach to AIDS and condoms was pretty despicable, but this guy is really something.

22:03 BST

Keep fighting for net neutrality

Matt Stoller says don't be defeatist about net neutrality, because it was always all about the Senate:

We always knew the House was wired. We always got that. We always knew the fight was in the Senate. The fact that the telcos took TWO MONTHS to get this bill through a House that the own is remarkable. The fact that the telcos ran millions in ads and millions in lobbying, and the tech companies really did not show up until the very end, and we still delayed the bill this long is remarkable.

Net neutrality is now a voting issue. It has been widely reported and widely discussed. Senators are out on the issue.

Now the key is to put pressure on Senators Harry Reid and John McCain. Both are sympathetic, but not publicly out.

Y'all know what to do.

17:26 BST

In Blogtopia

Skippy (who invented that word) notes that Big Media's representatives are a big part of the crowd at Yearly Kos, and learning some new things about what the liberal blogosphere actually looks like. (And, in this case, Time has actually given us a proper use of Ana Marie Cox as a reporter on the blogosphere - much more appropriate than some of her other appearances in the corporate media.) Unsurprisingly, the descriptions all sound like a lot of science fiction conventions I've been to. Meanwhile, Echidne reads the NYT's offering and decides it's not too bad (but Dave Johnson doesn't think it's too good, either), but wonders whether it's an accident that some loony has "introduced legislation to protect children from child predators on social networking sites such as Dailykos, Blogger and MySpace" at this time in an attempt to falsely equate DKos with sexual predators in the minds of the public.

I think the problem Ann Althouse has is that deep in her heart she wants to be a liberal but since she's not allowed to she is constantly having to write lame things to rationalize her way into thinking that the right-wing is smart and hip and realistic. (One of the things I'm loving about all the attention to Yearly Kos is that it's forcing some people into remembering what being cool actually looks like. Who knows, maybe MoDo will even finally get laid.) Anyway, Scott Lemieux had a look at another Althouse outburst and, once again, finds he has to explain the obvious: How does the fact that people sometimes make phone calls in public diminish the expectation of privacy of phone calls that aren't made in public? By Althouse's logic, because an increasing number of people pose nude on the internet, there would be no reason to object if the government started taking nude pictures of people without their consent. Before 9/11 Changed Everything I would have thought this was too obvious to even require saying, but voluntarily waiving your own privacy and having someone invade it without your consent are categorically different things. (Via a big link round-up at Good Nonsense.)

Now, what could possibly be the purpose of new restrictions in Florida to restrict testing of voting machines?

No More Mister Nice Blog exposes the fact that Mary Matalin is objectively pro-character assassination after she claims that, "People run around calling [Republicans] extra-chromosome and Hitlers and Nazis," Matalin told radio host Don Imus. "And nobody says anything." (Not a word about people who call women "feminazis" for objecting to sexist and racist language and behavior, or who call Al Gore a "Nazi" and compare him to Goebbels for trying to warn us about climate change.)

OK, why are Americans so much more likely to die from a fall involving a bed than Brits are? I wanna know.

14:25 BST

No pictures of cats

Glenn Greenwald has a meaty post up on Arlen Specter and the march to lawlessness. This is an old trick - the authorities keep breaking the law, "because they have to," and then when people scream about all the law-breaking, they just forgive and forget, and then change the law so that their crimes will be legal. Digby: "Amnesty for Bush and Cheney but not for some poor Mexican who's only crime was working in this country for years to make a better life??? It would be a gift."

Tarek learns who the best governor in the history of the world is. So now you know who the WaPo Weekly Standard will be pumping for in 2008.

Tennessee Guerilla Women has more Gore links.

I gather you can stream this week's Later by going here (the one that says, "Late night serenade"), to see Primal Scream, Ray Davies and Rosanne Cash. (Or maybe this link.)

This page has recordings of Paul Foot's 1981 lecture on The Peasants' Revolt, which I haven't listened to yet but I'm told is very good, and I'm prepared to believe it.

02:42 BST

Friday, 09 June 2006

Bloggin' along

I knew Maha was at Yearly Kos and not likely to be doing her usual sort of blogging (although she did check in), but I didn't know her daughter is posting - and talking about the FDA's approval of the HPV vaccine despite the fact that some people think you should get cancer instead.

Susie Madrak is also at her usual spot, and has a lot of good stuff up that I hadn't gotten around to yet, like the right-wing terrorist in Maryland, another case of double standards in political ad buys, and the fact that nobody likes the Republicans. Susie sounds jubilant about Murtha's announcement that he will run for House Majority Leader if the Dems take back the House; if it's between him and creepy Steny Hoyer, that's an easy choice.

This is rich - Republicans now say they have to cut funding to public broadcasting in order to protect healthcare and education. Meanwhile, it's Dobson on one side and Falwell and Robertson on the other on "a la carte" cable - because the latter two will effectively be off the air if people can choose not to pay for them.

The Carpetbagger Report has more on Blackwell and Ohio, while at The Brad Blog there's a story on eight Arkansas counties that have dumped E&S touch-screens right before the run-off election.

Nicholas Berg's father's reaction to the death of Zarqawi seems to have disappointed our right-wing media so much that they have responded...unprofessionally.

Bill Scher is running off to get hitched, and he's asked a few of us to take turns sitting in while he's away. You are, of course, already familiar with Jessica Valenti of Feministing and Tom Burka of Opinions You Should Have, but the other two bloggers are new to me, so I checked out their blogs, and found a whole series about that creepy Dominionist Left Behind game, and a piece on party regulars versus insurgents.

23:45 BST

We lost

"Defeat for net neutrality backers," BBC reports:

US politicians have rejected attempts to enshrine the principle of net neutrality in legislation.
It should say, of course, that Congress has refused to return us to net neutrality.

This could be the beginning of the end, folks. Time to find out how your reps voted and demand to know why if they voted against us.

18:33 BST

Thank goodness for the responsible press!

I hope Yearly Kos is having a blogger ethics panel!

It's so meta: The HuffPo reports that a writer at The Boston Herald plagiarized a story from Editor & Publisher - about plagiarism. (via)

Josh Marshall says he is ambivalent about the Lieberman/Lamont thing, but his discussion of his own frustrations about how Lieberman's office behaved on Social Security is highly illustrative of exactly what's wrong with Lieberman as a "Democrat". A closer look at his voting record, Josh, and you'll see that it's not so "solidly Democratic" as it might seem on the surface. (It's also illustrative of how good Josh is, and how he's willing to go the distance when he's working on something - which is perhaps why AP steals his stories and fails to give credit where it's due.)

(And speaking of Yearly Kos, Jeralyn says she (and presumably TChris) are not there, either, and will also be blogging through the weekend, as will the folks at Crooks and Liars. Oh, and C-SPAN is webcasting it, if you wanna watch.)

18:22 BST

Bruce and the Seeger Sessions

Everyone seems to have something good to say, and:

The album, which entered Billboard at No. 3 and has sold 365,000 copies, scouts beyond the familiar protest tunes and refutes the notion that folk is feeble.
Hell, yes.

There are a lot of live tour clips up on YouTube. Try "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep" for a start.

15:14 BST

Hot links

Thanks largely to Buzzflash and to my delightful commenters for alerting me to most of these:

Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory interviewed in Buzzflash about his book, How Would a Patriot Act?:

BuzzFlash: You make a point to say that you really weren't that political of a person per se. You thought our system worked. What specifically caused you to ask and answer the question of your own book, How Would a Patriot Act? You've become a patriot to uphold the Constitution.

Glenn Greenwald: I've always been comfortable with different political ideologies, because I've always believed in the supremacy of the principles of the Founders, and how our government works, and the Constitutional limits that they imposed on what the government can do. What I began to see from the Bush Administration was not just isolated acts of unconstitutional behavior, which most administrations have been guilty of from time to time, but instead an extremist view of Presidential power that simply vested absolute and unconstitutional power in the President.

The first incident that I talk about in my book, that for me really began to be a cause for alarm, was when the Administration arrested Jose Padilla. He was a US citizen on US soil, and they put him in a military prison and refused to charge him with any crime. They refused to allow him to speak to a lawyer or to anyone at all. They insisted upon the right to keep him in a military prison without ever charging him with a crime, and without ever allowing him to contest the accuracy of those accusations. That, to me, is an attack on one of the most basic rights that American citizens have always had - the right not to be imprisoned without charges being brought out by the jury trial. When I saw the Administration doing that, and also claiming the right to do that based on extremist theories of power, I really began to be alarmed.

Sidney Blumenthal says George H.W. Bush has been trying to get Rumsfeld out, but the Fortunate Son isn't interested: The elder Bush went so far as to recruit Rumsfeld's potential replacement, personally asking a retired four-star general if he would accept the position, a reliable source close to the general told me. But the former president's effort failed, apparently rebuffed by the current president. [...] The elder Bush's intervention was an extraordinary attempt to rescue simultaneously his son, the family legacy and the country.

Brent Hecht says the Dixie Chicks are suffering low ticket sales on their tour. Yes, it's very nice that their album is at the top of the charts, but since the record companies steal most (if not all) of performers' royalties, where they really make their money is in concert. So, if they're scheduled in your area, you really oughta buy some tickets and show your support. Besides, they're good, and you apparently won't have to share the hall with their right-wing former fans. (But Brent has his doubts that the Billboard story he cites isn't going overboard with claims that the tour is doing badly. Still, go see them if you can.) Music snob note: My list of country acts I listen to is very short, but I've added the Chicks because they are a good listen. Not quite the Amazing Rhythm Aces, but good. You can hear the new album for free here.

"How Bush Has Brought Freedom to the Women of Iraq": Iraqi women are being kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery. They are being murdered for working outside the home, walking in public with an unrelated man, wearing "immodest" clothing (i.e. not being shrouded from head to foot), running for political office, daring to go to school, driving cars, being seen outside their homes. Bush asserted that "Saddam had rape rooms" as one of his excuses for invading the country. Now that Bush has "liberated" Iraq, the entire country is a "rape room".

Murray Wass in National Journal, "What Ashcroft Was Told" - Long after Ashcroft knew that people close to him, including his boss, were the subjects of the investigation of the leak of Valerie Plame's undercover identity in the CIA, he still hadn't recused himself, and those working with him were in a difficult position when it came to asking him to do so. "But Ashcroft should have known on his own what to do. He didn't need to be asked. He didn't need to be pushed. He should have just done it."

Gary Farber on the danger of entrenched incumbency: "Politicians who don't have to worry about being re-elected are free to ignore you, me, and the country's interests."

Little Thom is a happy blogger in light of the successful filibuster of the parasite tax repeal. He also recommends an article from The Swift Report ("News and Views - Before You Need Them"), "'Death Tax' More Deadly than Gout, Polo Injuries Combined".

12:42 BST

Chew on this

Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest is at Yearly Kos - which, he reminds us, is being streamed live here (for ten bucks) if you want to see the whole thing. But before he left, he noted that no one can be sure that Francine Busby lost in San Diego. Though her having done so well in such a heavily Republican-gerrymandered area is itself evidence of an impressive surge in Democratic support, the fact is, reports The Brad Blog, that:

San Diego County uses two types of Diebold voting systems -- optical-scan and touch-screen -- both of which have not only proven to be disastrously unreliable in San Diego County and California in the past, but have also been demonstrated over the last six months to feature dozens of exceedingly well-documented and remarkable security vulnerabilities, making them extremely accessible to tampering. Especially if anyone has unsupervised physical access for more than a minute or two with them.

The voting machines used in Tuesday's election were sent home with volunteer poll workers the night before the election, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office today. As well, The BRAD BLOG has received reports that in some cases, poll workers may have had the machines alone at their houses, unsupervised, for a week or even two prior to Tuesday's election....

No, Brad isn't saying there's any evidence of fraud - just that there isn't any way to know who won. On the other hand, in the Iowa Republican primary, hand-counts have demonstrated that the "loser" was actually the winner. Do we have any way to know this hasn't been the case in other machine-counted races? We do not.

Billmon on "God and Money at Yale": Although I'm back in the United States - and have been for more than a week - I've been hoping to finish my Egyptian epic before turning back to the daily atrocities of life in Dick Cheney's America. But the atrocities, it seems, won't wait in line. They're right back in my face, gibbering and leering and showing me their hideous sores, like the inmates of an insane asylum for cancer patients. (Thanks to Richard Reich for the tip.)

Over at the HuffPo, John Kerry doesn't like Ann Coulter, either, and recommends you complain to any show that has her on, whenever she appears.

All that huffing and puffing by Arlen Specter is just more blowing smoke - sound committed and angry and etc., write "strong" letters, then cave. Look, Specter is in a position to go wherever he wants with this; if he doesn't, he can't blame Cheney. Cafferty has figured it out.

There's a story in the Daily Mail about a circumhorizon arc over Washington. I didn't know about these, but they have a gorgeous picture, so I checked at Flickr and found some more nice ones. I particularly liked this one, but there are several lovely pics. Found this on another search. This is purty, too.

03:01 BST

Thursday, 08 June 2006

I'm not in Las Vegas!

I'd like to be at Yearly Kos, I really would, but it's a bit of a long commute, and I've had it with air travel for the moment. I've still got jet-lag, actually. So I will be blogging through the weekend, even if an awful lot of other people won't.

I wonder if Ann Coulter has finally jumped the shark. I mean, even Hillary Clinton is talking about it. Right-wingers are saying she's been over the top for the last year (the last year!) and that, even though they agree with most of what she says, they don't like the way she says it. Which is another way of saying that they don't think she says things that are all that wrong, but it's not strategically correct to say it. They know it's embarrassing to actually be associated with the things they believe. Meanwhile, The Brad Blog has the latest dope on Coulter's increasingly interesting voter fraud problem.

Right-wingers are afraid of Gore. Well, you knew that, right? And presumably you know how important unions are, and why we need to rebuild them. Meanwhile, you gotta know that if something isn't done about Blackwell and Ohio, we can kiss any chance of capturing that state good-bye.

Josh Marshall reports that the right-wing maniacs have been successful in preventing Juan Cole's appointment at Yale. He also reminds us to pay attention to the vote on estate tax repeal. (Little Thom also weighs in.) Bill Scher says Dems need to connect this to other administration failures.

MahaBarb: Righties don't hate lefties. They hate the straw lefties that live in their own brains.

Think Progress alerts us that, "Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) said yesterday she will sign a near-total ban on abortion about to pass the state legislature, despite the fact that it includes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Blanco said those exceptions "would have `been reasonable,' but she said she wouldn't reject the bill for that reason." Ann at Feministing says, "This is why it's unreasonable for pro-choicers to support politicians just because they're nominally Democrats. When we elect people like Blanco to "win back" the South, we really lose."

17:28 BST

News bytes

I turned on my radio and heard George Bush droning about Zarqawi being killed, so my brain is still getting over the energy-leeching that always occurs when I hear his third-grade reading skills on display. I'm not planning to track this story, but if you are, you know Informed Comment is the place to look. Juan has a post up about it now.

I'm sure that's the story the White House wants everyone to pay attention to, because there are other things they don't want anyone noticing, like the whole story of how we've been stirring up trouble in Somalia again. I guess it makes these people feel macho to ally themselves with people called "Warlords", it sounds so, y'know, edgy. Idiots.

Larry Lessig and Bob McChesney have a piece in the WaPo today, "No Tolls on The Internet", warning against the telcos' attempts to screw up the 'net and advocating net neutrality. It's not too late to make those calls and send those faxes, folks.

Also at the WaPo, political editor John Harris will be doing the online discussion today, so you might want to submit some questions about what's wrong with the paper's political coverage.

It's back! Fafnir reports on life at the end of the world.

14:44 BST

A little night blogging

Oh, my, LiberalOasis looks totally different!

Jeralyn visited Hunter Thompson's place, and even made a little movie.

The war against letting your kids want to be scientists.

Thom Hartmann on stolen elections and media suppression.

Is Matt Cooper less credible than Judith Miller?

Unique version of "Layla" performed by Clapton with Dr. John. (Thanks to Wayne of Just a Bump in the Beltway.) And while we're at it, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with George, Ringo, Eric, Jools, et al., and something else with Jools that entertained me.

And, of course, C&L have a farewell post for Billy Preston.

Deep Blade Journal looks like an interesting blog.

4:40 BST

Wednesday, 07 June 2006

Our media can use a little help

So, what's happening with that investigation of Cynthia McKinney, Master Criminal? Funny how it all goes a lot faster when it involves a Republican. No media questions about this. (And when there are, they are bound to be the wrong kind of questions.) Also: Nobody likes Wal-Mart. And yet, guess who one of the 18 families behind the estate tax repeal movement is? In fact, it's really just three or four families who are really making a difference. The Waltons seem to have Arkansas' Senate vote by the throat. If you happen to live in Arkansas, perhaps you should call and complain. (Remember to let them know that repeal is indefensible.) Paul Krugman says they are "Shameless in the Senate", but broadcast media appear to be pretty quiet on this subject. And: Our troops are asking that right-wing news radio be removed from Armed Forces Radio - and play more hip-hop, rap, and pop.

Everyone linked this a few days ago, but if you missed it, check out Jamison Foser's reminder that they boiled our froggy little behinds first in the cauldron of creeping media stupidness, a long time ago - and that some still don't seem to notice they are boiling.

Speaking of which, Atrios says, "While much attention was paid to the issue of journalists and the courts in the Plame Affair, the real issue lurking below the surface was the case of Wen Ho Lee. As the source-who-they-won't-name has been known for some time (though there may be others of course), and it's unclear exactly what journalistic principle is being upheld by covering up for sources which lead you astray, it's long been clear that from the perspective of the media outlets this was always about protecting their pocketbooks and reputations. So much for principle. Boehlert reminds us." (And catch Duncan's later post on Daniel Schorr's bizarre take on the subject.)

Atrios also has a clip up of Keith Olbermann's coverage of Bill O'Reilly's attempt to explain away Haditha with a disgusting libel of American troops in World War II at Malmedy. Tristero, here and here, discusses. Please bear in mind that a significant proportion of the public gets their news from Fox, and they're the ones who still reflexively support this madness.

Naturegal wants you to help preempt the right-wingers by going to see An Inconvenient Truth. She provides a list of theater contacts so you can encourage your local movie houses to show the film.

14:40 BST

Update on the terrorist raid

I use the phrase "terrorist raid" because I regard it as terrorism when police run around breaking down doors and shooting people with inadequate care that they are going after genuinely dangerous people instead of just, you know, ordinary folks minding their own business.

I went around to Lansdown Road on Saturday to see how much of a mess the cops had made of the place when they raided it.

Of course, by now we all know that this was another botched job, again probably the result of a political need for a high-profile distraction to take our minds off the fact that we are doing evil things in the Middle-East.

Anyway, I took a few pictures (here's one), but basically you're seeing an ordinary East London street with a minor mess around it - we couldn't get close enough to see if there were any broken-in doors or anything like that.

And, anyway, I was completely distracted by the much more interesting pub across the road.

So, so much for the eye-witness reporting of the terrorist raid. On the other hand, it's always nice to find another interesting old pub. I really must go round on a quiet day and have a look inside.

* * *

I just heard Thom Hartmann having a laugh over the 666 thing and he mentioned that the stars on the GOP elephant logo are upside-down! Huh. They are. I wonder why they did that. [Cue ominous music.] (He also made the point that the only politician who has ever hacked a Diebold machine on television is Howard Dean. Perhaps someone should nudge the Republicans and tell them that the head of the Democratic Party knows how to hack the voting machines.)

02:08 BST

Tuesday, 06 June 2006

On my mind

And now, RFK responds to Manjoo in Salon. For the details, Ron Baiman's expert response to Manjoo, and Fitrakis responds to Manjoo's Salon article.

I told you they were going to just get around McCain's anti-torture amendment by re-writing the military code, and that was months ago. Now that they're doing it, a lot more attention is being paid. But read Digby, who is, of course, must-read as always. Meanwhile, Religious Leaders Announce Campaign to Abolish Torture. (via)

Greg Sargent on the NYT's excuse-making for that stupid, front-page article about the Clintons' love-life, and the reader response at the Public Editor's blog.

The Great Statesman speaks: I know some people still think a great deal of Tony Blair, in spite of everything, but really, the ability to speak in complete sentences is a pretty low threshold, especially when the sentences say things like this: "But the biggest reason why Iraq has been difficult is the determination by our opponents to defeat us."

People are saying a lot about the significance of this day. Well, it's the anniversary of a lot of pretty significant things, even leaving aside the silly occult stuff. To me, today, it represents a great tragedy. "My brother need not be idolized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."

23:22 BST

Best one for the job

I don't kid myself that the Al Gore we have now is the President we would have had if he'd entered the White House in 2000. I do believe 9/11 wouldn't have happened, and neither would the invasion of Iraq. I can't predict what would have happened with Afghanistan, but what we have now doesn't seem to have been the glorious elimination of the Taliban we'd hoped for, does it? I think our treasury would not be empty and the rest of the world would not hate us so much. And FEMA would have done its job in New Orleans. You don't have to be that smart to realize it would be a whole lot better than what we have now.

But 2000 happened, and everything since, and Al Gore has been through his bath of fire, and I think the Al Gore we have now would be a better President than the one we would have had in 2000. (I don't think it's an accident that it wasn't until after the election that he said we need single-payer.) So I want this Al Gore for President. I can't think of a single person who could be expected to do a better job, who is more qualified, and who I trust more. That doesn't mean I have anything remotely like absolute faith, but then, there is no human being who would get that from me for this job, ever.

I didn't read Altercation while I was away, so I missed this:

I went to a dinner for Al Gore last night. After being introduced by his hosts, Harry Evans and Tina Brown, he fielded questions and the first one, from Charlie Rose, was the right one: "What would it take to convince you to run for President in 2008?" Gore gave a long, interesting answer in which he pointed out that the transformation of our political culture into one of short soundbites was not one in which he felt most comfortable or to which he thought he was particularly good at adapting. I fear he's right about this. To listen to the long, thoughtful, erudite answers Gore gave to questions last night -Chris Buckley asked him about nuclear power; I asked him about the weaknesses of our political and journalistic establishments that allow the Bush administration to get away with its mendacity/extremism/incompetence for so long- is to bring oneself to tears over the contrast between this thoughtful, intelligent, articulate and well-informed would-be statesman, and the purposely ignorant ideologue whom the Supreme Court placed in the world's most powerful office. But Gore is no good at pithy quips and tries hard to tell the truth, even when it hurts. There's little value on that in our debased political culture, where Maureen Dowd complains about his coffee tastes, his clothes, about everything except what matters, and she's on the Good Guys' team. I have no question that Gore is the person best qualified in America to be president today. And I think he'd be the strongest Democratic candidate, but matching his brave new, liberated, truth-telling self with the demands of contemporary political campaigning would not be easy and may not be possible. And it's that mismatch, I fear, that may keep him out of the race, though I feel even more certain now, he's thinking about it.
And so far that all seems true, but later he exposes the fact that he is unaware of the rather obvious split Gore has had with the DLC. I don't think they want anything to do with him anymore. But I nevertheless agree that, "I have no question that Gore is the person best qualified in America to be president today." (via)

Listen to President Gore on NPR.

Watch Al Gore on ABC News.

So, how badly do you want Al Gore to run? Is it worth five bucks to you? Think about it.

When I first saw it, I thought it would just be another lame gag, but I listened to it, and then I listened to it again, and I want this to be an anthem. Learn it and get everyone to sing along at demonstrations - or any time you walk by a broadcast station, newspaper office (or newsroom), or government building, for that matter.

15:20 BST

Monday, 05 June 2006

News and views

Huit Muse underwired braBra of the Week - My apologies for being late with our weekly feature. To make amends, a tasty little sheer number, and here's the sort of thing I wouldn't put on the front page, nor have much use for, but it's, um, an interesting picture.

The law says you have a right for the privacy of your medical records to be protected. But Rob Stein in the WaPo reports that no one gets fined for breaking that law: In the three years since Americans gained federal protection for their private medical information, the Bush administration has received thousands of complaints alleging violations but has not imposed a single civil fine and has prosecuted just two criminal cases. (via)

Some great blogging over at Fact-esque, with the news that Iran is not China, the question of the bargain we make with elective officials (and candidate Joe Hoeffel's answer), "Why Does George Bush Hate Police Officers?", and a fine post on stopping torture: Because torture is effective. Except it isn't. And then you're left with the torture part of the torture, which is wrong. No matter which parts of the Geneva Conventions you ignore, torture is wrong. No matter which parts of the Bible and other holy books you jettison, torture is wrong. No matter how many episodes of the totally awesome and lifelike "24" you watch, torture is wrong. No matter how good it makes you feel to imagine your invisible enemies suffering at the hands of professionals in the field of torture, torture is wrong.

Linked everywhere, Paul Bass in The Hartford Courant on what a right-wing creep Joe Lieberman (R-DLC) really is. Great reminder - highly recommended.

"Most Important Thing About RFK Jr.'s Election Fraud Story" - Steven D at Daily Kos says Keith Olbermann nailed it when he said, ""You cannot say: 'By the way, there's something wrong with our electoral system.'" Lambert addresses the burden of proof (and then asks, "What should RFK, Jr. do to get the media to cover how the Republicans stole election 2004?"). Mark Crispin Miller's blog has lots of discussion on the subject, and Salon readers mostly seem to find Manjoo lacking. And Charles gives us his fifth and final segment of his response to Manjoo.

Steve Winwood live: "I'm A Man", "Gimme Some Lovin'", and "Can't Find My Way Home".

21:20 BST

My conclusion on Manjoo vs. Kennedy

Over at Daily Kos, there's a diary by malcolm that I think takes care of much of Manjoo's attempt to refute Kennedy's piece on the 2004 election. I think he does a pretty good job, so give it a look.

I agree with Charles that Manjoo is basing his reference to "experts" on Edison-Mitofsky, so I'd like to remind people of where we've been on this. You'll remember I went over the Edison-Mitofsky stuff at the time, first here, where I looked at a piece from the NYT that announced the report - and which, it turned out, was a reasonably accurate representation (alas) of the report itself. I noted then that what we were being given was not evidence, but guesswork, none of which was supported by the supplied data.

Later, I noted the US Count Votes response to Edison-Mitofsky, and later still I reproduced a particularly interesting graph and some quotes from the National Election Data Archive Project Response to the Report Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004. Taken together, I think these posts dispense with the claim that the Edison-Mitofsky report in any way dispels the suspicion that it was not the exit polls that were in error. Note that graph in particular - Manjoo and others seem to be relying on the belief that there is nothing special about the areas where the exit polls were wildly off, but in fact there is substantial evidence that machine-counted precincts compared very badly indeed against hand-counted precincts.

So, at best, I think Manjoo's criticism amounts to: Kennedy's article was not perfect in every detail.

Well, gosh, you could say that about pretty much anything. It doesn't make the 2004 election results any more trustworthy, though.

14:43 BST

Links and thinks

It's Torture Awareness Month. Blog about it, talk to people about it, even write to the press about it. You know how you feel about being from a country that tortures people; make sure everyone else knows, too.

Gary Farber with the Friday Haditha round-up, and Chris Floyd on The Pentagon's Shaky Self-Exoneration.

Eric Boehlert, guesting at C&L the other day, "Why the Swift Boat Hoax Still Matters!"

Remember back a few years ago, when Greg Palast was telling us about Barrick Gold (and here)? Well, now they are destroying people's water source.

Charles at Mercury Rising on what happened to Wen Ho Lee - thanks again, NYT!

Oh, look, I found my WisCon 11 guest of honor speech online. (I never write speeches, I just get up and talk. It's not as bad as I remembered.)

How to catch a mouse without a mousetrap

02:15 BST

Sunday, 04 June 2006

Kennedy, Manjoo, and the stolen election

OK, I want to be able to comment fully on the Farhad Manjoo article in Salon, "Was the 2004 election stolen? No." But I'm looking at it and it's long - too long for me to promise a full response within the day - and right from the top I'll tell you that the title is dishonest. Manjoo's argument seems to be that Kennedy has not proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the election was stolen, but Manjoo certainly hasn't proven that it wasn't - because you can't.

You can't prove it because the Republicans made a concerted effort to be sure you can't prove it. Some of the machines used have no paper trail - that is, there are no ballots to count. And since Kerry did not demand recounts in suspicious areas, it is unlikely the optical-scan ballots will ever be recounted; without that recount, there is no way to know whether the results were misreported.

And Manjoo seems to think we have individuals on trial and we must prove, to at least the "reasonable doubt" standard, that there is no possibility that Bush could have won the election before we even begin an investigation - without which, we are supposedly forced to assume that the election was not stolen and therefore no investigation is even necessary. (Charles at Mercury Rising also addresses this point, here, here, and here.)

And that has been the standard of argument all along, and it is manifestly irrational. You could never investigate half the murders, thefts, and rapes that are not only investigated but result in convictions if you used that standard. What we have here is strong evidence that a significant crime may have been committed, and thus an investigation is called for, whether or not the crime actually happened. We certainly don't know that it did not.

It is precisely this point that Manjoo announces he has missed right in his initial paragraphs:

One has to wonder what, after all of this, Kennedy might have brought to the debate. There could have been an earnest exploration of the issues in order to finally shed some light on the problems we face in elections, and a call to urgently begin repairing our electoral machinery. Voting reforms are forever on the backburner in Congress; even the 2000 election did little to prompt improvements. If only someone with Kennedy's stature would outline this need.
Right. And if we are going to take for granted that nothing went wrong in an election that has so many reasons to suspect otherwise, what's the point? There is no system that can't be corrupted if no one is going to investigate when suspicious events become evident. But if we are suggesting that an investigation is called for, we are also suggesting that something has to be done to correct the existing system. If, as Manjoo's title insists, nothing is wrong with the result we attained in 2004, then there is unlikely to be any hue and cry for change of our voting system.

Here's Manjoo's first example of how Kennedy is supposed to be playing fast and loose with the facts:

If you do read Kennedy's article, be prepared to machete your way through numerous errors of interpretation and his deliberate omission of key bits of data. The first salient omission comes in paragraph 5, when Kennedy writes, "In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots." To back up that assertion, Kennedy cites "Democracy at Risk," the report the Democrats released last June.

That report does indeed point out that many people -- 26 percent -- who first registered in 2004 did not find their names on the voter rolls at polling places. What Kennedy doesn't say, though, is that the same study found no significant difference in the share of Kerry voters and Bush voters who came to the polls and didn't find their names listed. The Democrats' report says that 4.2 percent of Kerry voters were forced to cast a "provisional" ballot and that 4.1 percent of Bush voters were made to do the same -- a stat that lowers the heat on Kennedy's claim of "astounding" partisanship.

Well, no, it doesn't. Voter suppression is understood to have a higher impact on Democrats, and if the method was used, it was undoubtedly intended to have that result. Whether it did have that result is a separate issue. (Still, if there is a difference of 0.1, in an election where this is only one of many methods that were used to alter the outcome, let us please admit that all of these things do add up in the end.)

Manjoo says distracting things like this:

But to prove Blackwell stole the state for Bush, Kennedy's got to do more than show instances of Blackwell's mischief. He's got to outline where Blackwell's actions could possibly have added up to enough votes to put the wrong man in office. In that, he fails.
This suggests that Blackwell, and only Blackwell, is indicted in Kennedy's charges as having personally manipulated the outcome. But everyone who has examined the evidence in Ohio and other states knows that much of what happened goes beyond the individual actions of governors and in some cases may have been out of their hands. What is significant about the fact that the largest problems happened in states with Republican governors is that these are the people who worked the hardest to ensure that machines owned by activist Republicans were used to count the ballots; but you can't prove that these governors knew that the machine counts could be manipulated or that they had any personal involvement in doing so. Which means that even if none of Blackwell's obviously suspicious actions could account for sufficient voter-suppression to depress Kerry's results, his actions with regard to installing those machines in the first place could be all that was necessary to steal the vote. Without counting all of the optical scan ballots, we can't know whether those machines were used cook the vote.

Manjoo also uses another trick that's become common among Bush-won explainers to discount anomalous results in 2004: dismissing the oddities as being consistent with the 2000 election results.

Has everyone forgotten so soon that much of the result in 2000 was itself anomalous? Don't we recall that Republicans were explaining-away odd outcomes in Florida counties with unsupported claims way back in 2000? Am I alone in remembering that, even then, Democrats were pointing out that this was a new phenomenon? Unless debunkers are prepared to go back to earlier elections when results were not in dispute, we can't accept 2000 as a control against which to measure the 2004 election.

Interestingly, Manjoo repeats the mistake of dismissing the entire thesis on the grounds that no single method of suppression was sufficient to depress the Democratic vote enough to throw the election for Bush. That's a very odd analysis indeed; since no one is claiming that long lines in Democratic precincts alone were what resulted in the alleged Bush victory, it makes no sense to say things like:

But even if Kerry got two-thirds of those ballots -- a huge margin, matching what he got in Ohio's bluest counties -- he'd have won about 86,000 more votes, while Bush would have won 43,000 more. This would have reduced the final 118,000-margin in Ohio to about 75,000 -- that is, Bush would still have been comfortably in the lead.
That would only be a legitimate criticism if no other method of voter suppression (or vote-cooking) had been reported.

And that's as far as I've gotten with the thing, and I want my breakfast. Meanwhile, perhaps the best analysis of the piece is provided at Sadly, No! with Gavin M.'s Shorter Farhad Manjoo:

"There may have been widespread election fraud in 2004, but what really gets me steamed is the zany conspiracy theory that it might have affected the election."

14:01 BST

Some days...

Suddenly the news came out, and it felt just like a Ball and Chain.

03:47 BST

Saturday, 03 June 2006

A few things

Check out TBogg on The Liar - and it's not funny. (via)

I know I linked Robert Newman's History of Oil before, but it seems to have gone all the way around the net, now, so for those who missed it the first time, you really oughta watch it. Like I said, Newman has turned into someone who is actually smart, knowledgeable, and funny, unlike his earlier incarnation when he was the eye-candy half of Newman & Baddiel - more like Mark Steele.

HTML for commenters (Although, personally, I don't bother with spaces inside the brackets. If you want some slightly more advanced HTML, go to View/Source to see what a site author did to get whatever effect interests you. I recommend the earliest pages of The Sideshow from my archives for some fairly clear and straightforward examples of the basic necessities of HTML.)

14:24 BST


Have I mentioned that Bill Scher has written a book?

Dept. of Now look what you made me do! "If I turn into a Nazi, it's all your fault!" (via)

"Here's your heavy-handed symbolism of the day" - Iraq's white doves of peace.

What James Raven didn't know

Bush thinks you're stupid (via)

Public service announcement

"Wish You Were Gore" - performed by Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, with apologies to Pink Floyd.

02:37 BST

Friday, 02 June 2006

Deluxe assortment

Thanks to KathyF, I learn that eRobin has looked past the RFK article and found even more at Rolling Stone about the stolen election, including some nifty charts. (Lots of other good stuff at What Do I Know?, including news that London is still being disrupted by the Third Reich. Speaking of which, we're having more terrorist events in London, too. Oh, and your latest diet tip.)

Frank Rich wrote a stupid article again. Yeah, yeah, I know, but you've seen me beef before about how Frank Rich turns into a typical Stepford Scribe whenever he has to think about Al Gore. Right now he's thinking of Gore as a presidential candidate, for all of the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways. Yes, that's right, Frank Rich has found a way to make An Inconvenient Truth into just another example of what's wrong with Al Gore. Leah has done a couple of posts (Part 1 and Part 2) taking Rich apart, complete with references to the article Rich wrote back when Gore was speaking out against Iraq. Leah had connectivity problems and couldn't get to The Daily Howler to see what Somerby had to say about it, but she bet Bob was on the case. She was right - twice.

I almost missed Kung Fu Monkey's Memorial Day post, "Lions led by donkeys", but thanks to Diane for pointing me to this excellent piece on what it means to be a "Chickenhawk" - or not. (I did not, however, miss KFM's posts about Flunking Out of the Electoral College - more here - which should read and give some thought to.)

Christy Hardin Smith says the FDL book Salon will be discussing Sam Seder and Stephen Sherrill's Fubar, which she appears to have enjoyed quite a bit. The authors will be on hand for the fun.

18:57 BST

Yes, Virginia, the election was stolen

The gigantic news yesterday that I didn't get around to before I crashed is that Rolling Stone has published and posted (and even put out a press release for) Robert F. Kennedy's article "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?"

Thank God.

The Republicans are so freaked out at a high-profile individual getting this article into RS that Tucker Carlson made a point of attacking RFK on The Situation (alas, Rachel was not there). The Brad Blog has video of Carlson throwing a barrage of talking points at Kennedy, who seems to have done a decent job of fielding them.

So, obviously, the answer to Kennedy's title question is, "Yes":

But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.(11)

The argument against "conspiracy theories" is usually that if something like that actually happened, people would find out. I've had that argument put to me even about the Kennedy assassination, as if no one has ever noticed anything odd about the official story and no one is talking about it. This same argument has been used repeatedly with regard to the 2004 election despite the fact that news of documented problems has continually appeared in local papers as well as first-person website reports of investigations on at least a monthly basis ever since the election. People are talking about it and clearly a lot of people know about it - it's just that Big Media doesn't want to talk about it. Nevertheless, the items above are all pretty well known by now to anyone who has had an interest in the subject - you can't say no one has noticed.
But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004(12) -- more than enough to shift the results of an election decided by 118,601 votes.(13) (See Ohio's Missing Votes) In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots.(14) And that doesn't even take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.(15)
But, of course, the big story here resulted in an even more frightening story about the media:
Over the past decades, exit polling has evolved into an exact science. Indeed, among pollsters and statisticians, such surveys are thought to be the most reliable. Unlike pre-election polls, in which voters are asked to predict their own behavior at some point in the future, exit polls ask voters leaving the voting booth to report an action they just executed. The results are exquisitely accurate: Exit polls in Germany, for example, have never missed the mark by more than three-tenths of one percent.(17) "Exit polls are almost never wrong," Dick Morris, a political consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, noted after the 2004 vote. Such surveys are "so reliable," he added, "that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries."(18) In 2003, vote tampering revealed by exit polling in the Republic of Georgia forced Eduard Shevardnadze to step down.(19) And in November 2004, exit polling in the Ukraine -- paid for by the Bush administration -- exposed election fraud that denied Viktor Yushchenko the presidency.(20)

But that same month, when exit polls revealed disturbing disparities in the U.S. election, the six media organizations that had commissioned the survey treated its very existence as an embarrassment. Instead of treating the discrepancies as a story meriting investigation, the networks scrubbed the offending results from their Web sites and substituted them with "corrected" numbers that had been weighted, retroactively, to match the official vote count. Rather than finding fault with the election results, the mainstream media preferred to dismiss the polls as flawed.(21)

Here's a piece of the story you may not have heard before:
In fact, the exit poll created for the 2004 election was designed to be the most reliable voter survey in history. The six news organizations -- running the ideological gamut from CBS to Fox News -- retained Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International,(22) whose principal, Warren Mitofsky, pioneered the exit poll for CBS in 1967(23) and is widely credited with assuring the credibility of Mexico's elections in 1994.(24) For its nationwide poll, Edison/Mitofsky selected a random subsample of 12,219 voters(25) -- approximately six times larger than those normally used in national polls(26) -- driving the margin of error down to approximately plus or minus one percent.(27)

On the evening of the vote, reporters at each of the major networks were briefed by pollsters at 7:54 p.m. Kerry, they were informed, had an insurmountable lead and would win by a rout: at least 309 electoral votes to Bush's 174, with fifty-five too close to call.(28) In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair went to bed contemplating his relationship with President-elect Kerry.(29)

As the last polling stations closed on the West Coast, exit polls showed Kerry ahead in ten of eleven battleground states -- including commanding leads in Ohio and Florida -- and winning by a million and a half votes nationally. The exit polls even showed Kerry breathing down Bush's neck in supposed GOP strongholds Virginia and North Carolina.(30) Against these numbers, the statistical likelihood of Bush winning was less than one in 450,000.(31) "Either the exit polls, by and large, are completely wrong," a Fox News analyst declared, "or George Bush loses."(32)

It certainly wasn't just Democrats who noticed a problem:
According to Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in research methodology, the odds against all three of those shifts occurring in concert are one in 660,000. "As much as we can say in sound science that something is impossible," he says, "it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error." (See The Tale of the Exit Polls)

Puzzled by the discrepancies, Freeman laboriously examined the raw polling data released by Edison/Mitofsky in January 2005. "I'm not even political -- I despise the Democrats," he says. "I'm a survey expert. I got into this because I was mystified about how the exit polls could have been so wrong." In his forthcoming book, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, Freeman lays out a statistical analysis of the polls that is deeply troubling.

All down the line, the evidence is stronger than you might have thought:
Industry peers didn't buy it. John Zogby, one of the nation's leading pollsters, told me that Mitofsky's "reluctant responder" hypothesis is "preposterous."(36) Even Mitofsky, in his official report, underscored the hollowness of his theory: "It is difficult to pinpoint precisely the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters."(37)

Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky's own data by Freeman and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were more disinclined to answer pollsters' questions on Election Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey -- compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds.(38) "The data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate it," observes Freeman, "but actually contradicts it."

What's more, Freeman found, the greatest disparities between exit polls and the official vote count came in Republican strongholds. In precincts where Bush received at least eighty percent of the vote, the exit polls were off by an average of ten percent. By contrast, in precincts where Kerry dominated by eighty percent or more, the exit polls were accurate to within three tenths of one percent -- a pattern that suggests Republican election officials stuffed the ballot box in Bush country.(39)

And, infuriatingly:
"When you look at the numbers, there is a tremendous amount of data that supports the supposition of election fraud," concludes Freeman. "The discrepancies are higher in battleground states, higher where there were Republican governors, higher in states with greater proportions of African-American communities and higher in states where there were the most Election Day complaints. All these are strong indicators of fraud -- and yet this supposition has been utterly ignored by the press and, oddly, by the Democratic Party."
There's lots more, read it all. (Some of the more interesting things about the electronic counts, including a couple of things even I hadn't heard, are on page 4.)

You know how important I think it is to talk this up. We need to make as much noise about this as possible, both to keep it from happening again and in order to let the world know that we did not elect this freak. Link it, mail it to your friends, talk it up everywhere.

But also, write to John Kerry, who said this:

But Kerry says his fellow Democrats have been reluctant to push the reforms, fearing that Republicans would use their majority in Congress to create even more obstacles to voting. ''The real reason there is no appetite up here is that people are afraid the Republicans will amend HAVA and shove something far worse down our throats,'' he told me.
But the Republicans haven't waited for a new voting reform bill to throw more monkey-wrenches into the voting machinery, as the story from Jack Cafferty cited earlier shows. If Democrats don't make noise about this issue, no amount of activism will make a blind bit of difference.

(RS link also from The Brad Blog.)

15:02 BST

"Bill Clinton felt your pain, George Bush flew over it."

If you didn't get all these links earlier from Atrios, check them out now:

At C&L, Jack Cafferty on attacks on our voting rights notes a new law in Florida that makes it impossible for the League of Women Voters to carry out their mission, and Congress wants a federally mandated voter ID that will certainly make it harder to vote. Watch this video, Cafferty says some important things.

At TPMmuckraker, a series on the slurs on Harry Reid (latest) finds AP reporter John Solomon consistently attempting to paint Reid as ethically compromised although he has done absolutely nothing that even appears to be wrong - but careful phrasing suggests a story where there is no story. Atrios is right: "There's no way the reporter is this stupid. Look, we're getting into firing offense territory here. This is deliberate mendacious deception from a wire service reporter." Ask AP why they are permitting their service to be used for such a naked partisan campaign.

Thomas F. Schaller on why supporting the invasion of Iraq was the "easy wrong" - that is, the safe position, in contrast to the courage it took to refuse to support that same invasion. Which is why the "muscular" approach of Peter Beinart and others who were pro-invasion just shows them up to be cowards.

12:57 BST

Sinking Pravda

Alterman writes:

Coincidence that the day the Post announces that it is losing a bunch of its best reporters it could not find anyone to cover John Kenneth Galbraith's memorial service?
Well, the NYT managed to cover the Galbriath service.

The Washington Post, on the other hand, was admitting it was offering early retirement to some of its most experienced reporters (including Thomas Edsall), in order to "contain costs while circulation continues a slow slide." Tom Shales and Courtland Milloy "are taking the offer but will keep writing for a period under contract."

And here's an interesting datum:

Daily circulation at The Post peaked at 832,232 in 1993. The Post's daily circulation for the first three months of this year averaged 690,700, the company reported last month.
Okay, boys and girls, what started being even more obvious in 1993 that might have turned off Post readers?

03:39 BST

A bit of WisCon stuff

I have to tell the story of the fanboy I saw telling an author how important her work was to him. I was just wandering by and didn't want to interrupt, but he was telling Katherine MacLean that one of her books had been really important to him and changed the way he thought about some things. I wished I'd found out which of her books he was talking about, 'cause that fanboy was Samuel R. Delany.

I took a vampire-eyed photo of Emma Bull (and her corset), John Scalzi, and Will Shetterly.

And night_shade_bks took a better picture than any I got of Sharyn November.

00:40 BST

Thursday, 01 June 2006

Stumbling through the news

I'd like to take this opportunity to say that George Bush's fumblemouth is not funny. It wasn't funny during the 2000 presidential debates, and it has never been funny. It's sickening. This is how a real person talks, and what our president should sound like. (Mark Crispin Miller started out thinking Bush's fumblemouth was funny, but when he looked into it, he found out that it wasn't.)

The WaPo is trying to tell me that it would be too hard to hack the stolen VA files because they are in a "specialized, standard format used for data manipulation and statistical analysis." Have I got a deal for you! Fly me to DC and see how long it takes me, please. I'm not a hacker, I have only the vaguest memory of the little bit of programming I did back in pre-history, I'm just a word-processor, and I bet I can find the data. Because you didn't use the magic word: "encryption".

Steamed Rice - really, this isn't the face you wear when pretending to be diplomatic.

Weekly Howeller: I see Jane Hamsher is on the case of the return of the mendacious ombudscreature. God, it's pitiful. C'mon, people, this is supposed to be The Washington Post, fer chrissakes!

14:43 BST

It's on the internets

I've been trying to make sense of the Supremes' decision in Garcetti et al v. Richard Ceballos and I really can't. It's always been understood that you go to the press to report wrong-doing when you can't get your bosses to take care of it through chain of command; as far as I can tell, this guy was demoted for going to his bosses with the complaint, which is exactly what you're ordinarily expected to do. (More here.) The thing that gets me is that this seems less a free speech issue than an issue of someone trying to ensure procedure is properly and legally carried out, and being punished for it. Since he is a public employee - that is to say, my employee, I would like an explanation for why his boss wasn't fired for demanding improper work from him on my dime. I guess this just gets filed under Alito's "The Constitution doesn't really count" theory. (Also: So, just why was I hearing all that stuff last week about how the Dixie Chicks just couldn't sell albums like they used to? Seems the news of their demise was premature.)

It seems like every few months there's a new study debunking the idea that malpractice insurance costs are the result of runaway frivolous claims and all that tripe, but they just never seem to go away. Via Angry Bear.

Remember when George Will saw Springsteen and decided he was the voice of Reaganism? I always get a chuckle from that one. But this might be even better: Lance Mannion's discovery that Althouse is a teenaged groupie who thinks all the artists she admires - indeed, all artists - are conservative. The girl doesn't know any artists, clearly. I mean, she hangs around with conservatives.

Think Progress reports that Dept. of Homeland Insecurity is cutting anti-terror funds for NY and DC - despite the fact that the right-wing is claiming that Iraq is safer than DC.

Thanks to E-mart and JHB in comments for supplying links to that cartoon I was looking for the other day. It's not as clear as the paper version was, but I think you can get the drift. The color version seems even harder to read, but is worth a look all the same. So, the question is, is it "very good", or just "okay"? I thought it was chilling.

And thanks to Alison for telling me that Bill Humphries has posted the Geoff Ryman Queen for a Day photo. (And thanks to Gary for the spelling correction - I don't know what happened there. I claim jet-lag. At least this time I have an excuse.)

DrugSense has a nifty Drug War Clock you should check out, and maybe you'd like to throw them some bucks, while you're there.

12:41 BST

Stuff I saw

Incredibly important news about Fafblog! (Also: Neo-nazis say, "there's nothing 'neo' about us.")

Have I ever mentioned the disgusting Vernon Robinson? He's a humdinger.

Maha on Religion and Democrats.

If you enjoyed the first run of Superhero ModRen, you may be happy to learn of Superhero ModRen 2. Via Epicycle, where I also learned that Torrentspy is turning the tables on the MPAA, and that iRiver gives customers the choice of switching off DRM.

I found this weblog very...visual.

This is a picture I took of Patrick, Elise, Emma and Hal belting it out. Patrick took this picture of me meeting Sharyn November (a cool broad), and this one of me hanging out with Beth Meacham (who saved my life last week at O'Hare) and Lois McMaster Bujold. Sadly, none of us managed to get a shot of Geoff Ryman in his tiara.

00:54 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, June 2006

May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page

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

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by