Saturday, February 21, 2004

Republican blogger - or operative for Acting President Rove? [update 2] 

We report (original); you decide.

After all, just because former PR executive Rex Hammock, one of whose institutional clients is a "conduit of advocacy" for the Republican party (a client that just happens to have Acting President Karl Rove as member), goes to Washington, just happens to meet with Bush, and blogs a glowing report that "confirms" Bush was not "scripted", while including the key words from the slogan Bush is going to campaign under in his post, all from the back of a cab, while somehow also managing to include five paragraphs of White House transcript ...

Well, that's no reason to put our tinfoil hats on, is it? No reason to predict the imminent AstroTurfing of the blogosphere, right?


Now, to be fair, Hammock says he's not an operative, though if "this keeps up" he might become one... Which would, I guess, be a really effective next step in a PR campaign... I can almost write the press release myself... "Evil liberals forced me into politics..." But no, a small businessman with a $10 million success on his hands would never allow himself to be distracted like that! Phew!

Anyhow, the Republican blogger (not operative?) has made it from WaPo, to the front page of the Nashville Tennessean (back), and now FUX. And the WhiteWash House closes the circle. Coverage a good PR executive would he happy to achieve. Eh?

Puts me in mind of that old Rutles song, "Spontaneous" (here):

You're so spontaneous
Please don't ever change
You're so "if I ruled the world"
And "home on the range"
You're so spontaneous
In each and every way
So spontaneous
What more can I say?

For this is the moment
The moment is now
The moment is you
Come on, take your bow!
You're so spontaneous
It's wunderbar
That's what you are!

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC: Of course, it may all be truly spontaneous!

It's time to read and repost this classic again 

The Onion.

It's beautiful (sniff)!

Sihanouk Backs Gay Marriage 

See how TV corrupts our morals?
After watching television images of gay marriages in San Francisco, the 81-year-old monarch [Norodom Sihanouk] has decided that single sex weddings should be allowed in Cambodia too.

He expressed his views in a hand written message on his website which has proved extremely popular in Cambodia.

The king said that as a "liberal democracy", Cambodia should allow "marriage between man and man... or between woman and woman."

He said he had respect for homosexual and lesbians and said they were as they were because God loved a "wide range of tastes."

A representative of the Khmer Rouge was unavailable for comment. A caller was instead directed to the offices of the League for Worldwide Moral Clarity, where a receptionist said one of its members would return the phone call once Good finished slaughtering Evil.

more...on homosexuals in gov. (1950) 

"Employment of Homosexuals and other sex perverts in government (1950)." Via PBS Frontline

Additional historical background information and detail related to earlier Corrente post titled Telling Similarities. Regarding statements before Congressional Subcommittee investigations of homosexuals in government employ (1950).

Excerpts below from PBS Frontline webpage:

Interim Report submitted to the Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments by its Subcommittee on Investigations pursuant to S. Res. 280 (81st Congress). A Resolution Authorizing the Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments to Carry Out Certain Duties.
An investigation on a Government-wide scale of homosexuality and other sex perversion is unprecedented. Furthermore, reliable, factual information on the subject of homosexuality and sex perversion is somewhat limited. In the past, studies in this field, for the most part, were confined to scientific studies by medical experts and sociologists. The criminal courts and the police have had considerable experience in the handling of sex perverts as law violators, but the subject as a personnel problem until very recently has received little attention from Government administrators and personnel officers.

The subcommittee found that most authorities agree on certain basic facts concerning sex perversion and it is felt that these facts should be considered in any discussion of the problem. [...] Contrary to a common belief, all homosexual males do not have feminine mannerisms, nor do all female homosexuals display masculine characteristics in their dress or actions. The fact is that many male homosexuals are very masculine in their physical appearance and general demeanor, and many female homosexuals have every appearance of femininity in their outward behavior.


The subcommittee sincerely believes that persons afflicted with sexual desires which result in their engaging in overt acts of perversion should be considered as proper cases for medical and psychiatric treatment. However, sex perverts, like all other persons who by their overt acts violate moral codes and laws and the accepted standards of conduct, must be treated as transgressors and dealt with accordingly.


Most of the authorities agree and our investigation has shown that the presence of a sex pervert in a Government agency tends to have a corrosive influence upon his fellow employees. These perverts will frequently attempt to entice normal individuals to engage in perverted practices. This is particularly true in the case of young and impressionable people who might come under the influence of a pervert. Government officials have the responsibility of keeping this type of corrosive influence out of the agencies under their control. It is particularly important that the thousands of young men and women who are brought into Federal jobs not be subjected to that type of influence while in the service of the Government. One homosexual can pollute a Government office.


This is evidenced by the fact that action has been taken m 382 sex perversion cases involving civilian employees of Government in the past 7 months, whereas action was taken in only 192 similar cases in the previous 3-year period from January 1, 1947, to April 1, 1950.. However, it appears to the subcommittee that some Government officials are not yet fully aware of the inherent dangers involved in the employment of sex perverts.

Much more via PBS Frontline. See: Employment of Homosexuals and other sex perverts in government (1950)

PBS Frontline material "Excerpted with permission from Donald Webster Cory, The Homosexual in America: A Subjective Approach (New York: Arno Press, 1975), pp. 270-277."


So when is the other boot going to drop? 

When is aWol going to, well, come out, and support the anti-gay marriage amendment in public?

Since Acting President Rove has already committed him, in private (back, and back)

Who knows? Maybe Bush will throw everything into confusion by triangulating back to the center on this one...

UPDATE Nice post on the gay marriages from alert reader Rea of Atrios at Electrolite: "Let me not to the marriage of true minds".

Another fine entry in the "let's give a nickname to Laura Bush" contest 

Laura Norder.

It took me awhile ... (via Road to Surfdom).

I've started using "LauWa", though—figuring that as long as aWol wants her in the kitchen with him, she might as well feel the same heat...

OTOH, is this wise, tactically? Dunno. Readers?

UPDATE I think we have a winner: Waura (thanks to alert reader pansypoo). It's nice because it isn't, well, eliminationist or over the top, and it's so very, very W .... George and Waura, sad sad sad ...

More eliminationist rhetoric from Republicans 

"We had to kill off Wellstone to get it [laughter]." (via WTF)

For a thoughtful discussion of eliminationist rhetoric, and whether Democrats should avoid it, even in the relatively benign form of aux duck pits, citoyens!, see the indispensable Orcinus.



And now we return to the High Road....

UPDATE Or not. FUX has this.

Free and fair elections could be 15 months away 

No, not in Florida, silly. That would be way too optimistic, even for me.

In iWaq (according to Proconsul Bremer).

And I thought these guys had a plan?

You know, our troops are still going to be there, maybe for another decade and maybe more (back), there won't be any elections in the near future, one of our guys on the ruling council we hand-picked (Chalabi) has 4 BCUs[[1]] tax dollars to buy whatever he wants with (back), including an election (though likely it's in a Swiss bank account) ...

How exactly are the Iraqis going to be "sovreign" after this June 30 date I keep hearing about? I mean, I'm sure there'll be great photo ops, and a lot of thosem keen Bush backdrops with the TV-ready slogans on them, but how "sovreign" is Iraq going to be, exactly?

[1]BCU: Bush Campaign Unit. $100 million (US, 2004) dollars

Telling Similarities 

"Homosexuals in Goverment - 1950"

I haven't heard too many anti-gay marriage Republicans or pundits or right wing media squawk toys bellowing lately about the God blessed sanctity of the Declaration of Independence. You know, only recently they couldn't shut up about it. Maybe they actually read it and this part made them nervous:

"We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." - Thomas Jefferson


He [Tom Delay] said that a "very telling difference" between the Democratic and Republican parties is that the former "is becoming the party of gay marriages" while the latter "is becoming the party of traditional values I think it's going to carry the day in the upcoming elections." - Tom Delay. [via Atrios via KnoxNews.com]

THEN (1950) and NOW (2004).
Let's revisit Tom DeLay's "party of traditional values", circa 1950, as it relates to an amendment to the Vorys amendment* to bar homosexuals from specific federal government employment. Somehow allowing homosexuals to be employed by the federal government in 1950 poses a clear danger (national security threat) to the very institution of government and the nation itself. Just as anti-gay marriage activists today howl that homosexuals are somehow or another a grave danger (national security threat) to the institution of marriage and family. The language THEN is just as wild-eyed and vitriolic and full of excitable alarmist quiverings as today's right-wing panic mongering and fear conjuring surrounding many current gay rights issues - including a good deal of the more dramatic hooting concerning the marriage and civil union debate.

*[Ed Note:] For brief background on the Vorys amendment: See: Neutrality Acts 1935-41

What follows are excerpts from the Congressional Record volume 96 Part 4, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, March 29 - April 24, 1950. WHERE NOTED: For comparrison sake I've inserted remarks from current anti-gay marriage/anti-gay rights activists and groups.

Comments from the floor of the House of Representatives, 1950.
Subject: Homosexuals in Government.

(Blaring BOLD TEXT emphasis and section heads are mine)


MILLER, Arthur Lewis, (Republican) Nebraska
[THEN - Mr. Miller:] Mr. Chairman, I realize that I am discussing a very delicate subject I cannot lay the bones bare like I could before medical colleagues. I would like to strip the fetid, stinking flesh off of this skeleton of homosexuality and tell my colleagues of the House some of the facts of nature. I cannot expose all the putrid facts as it would offend the sensibilities of some of you. It will be necessary to skirt some of the edges, and I use certain Latin terms to describe some of these individuals. Make no mistake several thousand, according to police records, are now employed by the Federal Government.

I offer this amendment to the Vorys amendment* in good faith... [...] Recently Mr. Peurifoy, of the State Department, said he had allowed 91 individuals in the State Department to resign because they were homosexuals. Now they are like birds of a feather, they flock together. Where did they go?

You must know what a homosexual is. It is amazing that in the Capital City of Washington we are plagued with such a large group of those individuals. Washington attracts many lovely folks. The sex crimes in the city are many.


[NOW:] "[T]he depravity that's tolerated and, in many instances, sanctioned by government officials brings to mind 'whited sepulchers full of dead men's bones.'... ~ Jan LaRue, Concerned Women for America - Also see: PFAW-February 19, 2004

[THEN - Mr. Miller cont...] In the Eightieth Congress I was the author of the sex pervert bill that passed this Congress and is now a law in the District of Columbia. It can confine some of these people in St. Elizabeths Hospital for treatment. [...]

[NOW:] Typical of such rhetoric was a recent Chuck Colson article about Billy, a doll being marketed in the gay community. Colson suggested that all Billy dolls should come with a plastic coffin, asserting that most gays are "men whose lives are tragically marked by disease, addition, misery, and early death." ~ See: PFAW/Gays as Diseased

[THEN - Mr. Miller cont...] [...] They are the sex perverts. Some of them are more to be pitied than condemned, because in many it is a pathological condition, very much like the kleptomaniac who must go out and steal, he has that urge; or like the pyromaniac, who goes to bed and wakes up in the middle of the night with an urge to go out and set a fire. [...]

[NOW:] The ad campaign followed a public furor touched off by Sen. [Trent] Lott's equating gays with alcoholics and kleptomaniacs,... ~ See: PFAW/Gays as Diseased


*** continued ***

Due to the length of this post I've continued it at my overflow page: Continue reading... HERE


Bloggers for Bush - or operatives for Acting President Rove? [update] 

Well, looks like Republican blogger Rex Hammock is doing grass roots/"guerilla" marketing quite successfully, now in The Daily Tennessean.

As we've said already (original post here):

So now a Republican PR executive is "confirming" that "that nothing [in a Bush `conversation'] was scripted or rehearsed." Forgive my skepticism....

Color me skeptical. And watch for plenty of "blogging AstroTurf" if this one picks up. These guys are smart...

UPDATE Latest up here.

OBL cornered? 

From the Weekend Australian here:

OSAMA bin Laden is reportedly surrounded by United States special forces in a mountain range that straddles north-west Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Internationally respected investigative journalist and author Gordon Thomas says the al-Qaida terror group leader has been sighted for the first time since 2001 and is being monitored by satellite.

In a report to be published in a British newspaper, Thomas says bin Laden is in a mountainous area to the north of the Pakistani city of Quetta.

Thomas attributes his report to "a well-placed intelligence source" in Washington who is quoted as saying: "He (bin Laden) is boxed in."

The US special forces are "absolutely confident" there is no escape for bin Laden and are waiting for the order to snatch the shadowy terrorist leader.

The timing of that order will ultimately depend on President George Bush, the report says.

"Capturing bin Laden will certainly be a huge help for him as he gets ready for the election.

"It will be an even bigger bonus than getting Saddam."

The article goes on to say bin Laden's movements are continually monitored by a US National Security Agency satellite positioned over the land in which the wealthy Saudi is trapped.

Right. How hard can it be to spot a kidney dialysis machine from space?

Anyhow, this must be some kind of trial balloon. October's a long way away ...

Bush AWOL: Daily Howler explains how and why the SCLM dropped the story when it started getting hot 


Unanswered questions back here.

For now, I guess we're left with LauWa Bush's statement that "he knows he served" (back here). Of course, there's plenty else that Bush "knows" that has turned out not to be true.

"An imminent risk of civil order," sayeth The Arnis™ 

What is it with Republicans and this "imminent" word? Anyhow, BBC:

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has told his top legal official to act against the city of San Francisco for allowing gay marriages.

He ordered the state's attorney-general to take immediate steps to get a court ruling against the same-sex weddings.

Mr Schwarzenegger said they represented "an imminent risk to civil order".

(Copyright (c) 2004 The Los Angeles Times)

Weird. People want to get married, and that's a thread to civil order. These are strange times.

Sixteen Words That Didn't Appear 

in Bush's 2003 SOTU:
“The British government has learned that Muammar Qaddafi recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Pakistan.”

Which is kinda ironic, since those words would have actually been true...

... if Western intelligence had been doing its job instead of whoring for neocon crackpots.

Fed officials on the campaign trail 


A chorus of Federal Reserve officials tried on Friday to reassure Americans that new jobs will emerge to replace the millions of jobs lost in recent years, but warned workers must add skills to stay competitive. "There is a palpable unease ...

That Bush won't be re-elected. No, that's not it!

... that businesses and jobs are being drained from the United States, with potentially adverse consequences for unemployment and the standard of living of the average American," Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told a Chamber of Commerce group in Omaha, Nebraska.

"We have seen encouraging signs of late that the labor market is improving," Greenspan said. "In all likelihood, employment will begin to increase more quickly before long as output continues to expand."

Right. Except we've heard this before, and the economists keep being "surprised." And in the long run, we're all dead!

Fed Governor Ben Bernanke, speaking to reporters after addressing an economics group, declined to be drawn into a debate on whether a controversial White House forecast for 2.6 million jobs this year was realistic.

He said it depended upon when corporations decided they have "exhausted productivity gains," meaning they could no longer squeeze more output from their existing work forces.

Oooh, I feel better already!

"So I express the view that hiring will strengthen significantly this year, but I wouldn't want to put a number on it," Bernanke said.

In the long run, Greenspan said, part of the answer was that workers must ensure they have the skills to move ahead...

Except, you dingy, in this round it's the skilled jobs that are being exported, and so all the money we've already spent is down the tubes (unless we're still paying it back).

... and to reduce the imbalances in the supply between those who have the skills and those who do not.

"Those imbalances have the potential to hamper the adjustment flexibility of our economy overall," Greenspan cautioned. "The single central action necessary to ameliorate these imbalances and their accompanying consequences for income inequality is to boost the skills, and thus earning potential, of those workers lower on the skill ladder."

Balance this!

Why can't we outsource the CEOs? And the economists?

Billionaires for Bush 

Here (via Skimble).

These are the folks who organized a little street theatre for Acting President Rove when he raking in another $400,000 for the $100 million Bush campaign the other day. BYOP!

If you're a billionaire, sign up today!

"Bush is a liar" meme taking hold (and why wouldn't it, since he is one?) 

From a report by Pew Research on the Democratic primaries:

ush's personal image, by contrast, is at the low point of his presidency. His overall favorability rating has tumbled from 72% last April, shortly after the fall of Baghdad, to 53% in the current survey. Moreover, when asked for a one-word description of Bush, equal percentages now give negative and positive responses, which marks a dramatic shift since last May when positive descriptions outnumbered negative ones by roughly two-to-one (52%-27%).

Even more interesting is the detail in the table:

A year ago, positive ("honest") and negative ("liar") were two to one in favor of Bush. Now they are evenly balanced.

This would suggest to me that the Bush AWOL story should still have legs. After all, it all hinges on Bush's word, doesn't it? Along with some documents that seem to be, conveniently, missing—including the crucial DD-214 (back), his separation record.

Drip, drip, drip....

Gay marriages in Sandoval County, New Mexico 

Before the fax came. Here (via CalPundit).

Movie review: Unprecedented  

The New Yorker:

Remember Florida’s political shame? Richard Ray Perez and Joan Sekler’s corrosive documentary about the contest between Al Gore and George Bush for the Sunshine State will hold you in a state of appalled enthrallment. They cover topics that went as underreported as the votes throughout the state were undercounted. The most hair-raising, perhaps, is a purge of supposed felons from the voter rolls that denied political rights to thousands of innocent citizens, most of whom were African-American. The moviemakers also take the time to complete stories that got short shrift from print and broadcast journalists—in a swift, devastating coup, they identify the D.C.-based Republican congressional aides and other G.O.P. staffers in the famous shot of “rioters” disrupting the Miami-Dade recount outside the doors of the canvassing board. The movie equally indicts high-level Democrats for making decisions based on political calculus rather than on principle, and the mainstream media for denying the outcome of their own research—such as the conclusion that if all eligible votes were counted, including 175,000 unread ballots, Gore would be President.

The video is here.

Show it in your church group!

Falling behind on nation-building in Afghanistan 


Three nations have agreed to pay more than $22 million to help the effort to organize elections in Afghanistan scheduled for June, a U.N. official said Saturday.

U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said the offer was made at a meeting of diplomats in Kabul this week to discuss preparations for the elections. He would not identify the countries.

What? Bush forgot to put Afghanistan in the budget again?

Gee, Bush doesn't seem to be really good at organizing democratic elections, does he?

Friday, February 20, 2004

A warning shot? 

Drudge (via the ever-excellent Orcinus)

Truly, truly creepy ....

The work of the photographer, John Gress, appears on Kerry's site. But somehow seeing the picture on Druge gives it quite another connotation.

Bush makes an issue of his "faith" 

Yep, the Daily News reports:

President Bush wants to see the controversial new Mel Gibson film, “The Passion of the Christ,” his spokesman said Friday.

The heck with the anti-semistism (back)—the movie sounds like a snuff flick. But then Bush would have no problem with that (here, for detail).

Great marketing campaign, though!

Bloggers for Bush - or operatives for Acting President Rove? 

Rex Hammock blogs his meeting with Bush here. (Via Froomkin at WaPo. The meeting was, of course, closed to journalists.) Hammond's blog is pretty interesting, I have to say, with interesting resources on publishing. That said:

Here's the message the White House must have been happy for Rex Hammock to convey:

As one of the participants, I can confirm that nothing was scripted or rehearsed except for the advance people's efforts to put us at ease.

And whaddaya know: Hammock's remarks contain (almost) the Republican slogan (back here)!

[HAMMOCK] "More than anything, I appreciate the steadfast leadership you displayed after September 11 and the message of calm that sent to the American people and businesses.

I guess this could be spontaneous....

But still, it's funny how, if Hammond is writing the entry "in a cab on my way to BWI," he has five paragraphs that read like a transcript of Bush on tax cuts. How'd he get that from his cab?

Smooth move by Rove, however it got made. Gotta respect the guy....

UPDATE Hammock writes that got his invite to the WhiteWash House via the NFIB (who have paid money to Hammock's small business), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican party (or vice versa). He writes:

Oh yes, why me? I was suggested to the White House staff by my friends [clients?] at NFIB, who knew [how?] I was in D.C. for a few days. It turned out that an NFIB alumni was the White House policy person [who?] with whom I communicated most in working out the logistics [which were?].)

And the NFIB is—surprise!—a "conduit for advocacy" for the Republican Party:

The Republican Party, with which NFIB is closely allied, is counting on the group's support. Either through its political action committee or a separate vehicle it will create, NFIB is likely to step up its collections. It then would buy so-called issue advertisements that support the election of congressional candidates who toe the NFIB line, which is anti-tax and anti-regulation. In practice, this would funnel funds from GOP loyalists to aid primarily GOP candidates.

In fact:

The organization also is one of the most Republican-leaning associations in the capital, giving 96 percent of its campaign contributions to the GOP, and supporting a conservative agenda of lower taxes and less regulation.

"NFIB and the Bush administration do walk hand in hand, because we do see eye to eye," says White House Senior Adviser Karl Rove, a longtime NFIB member who made a rare public appearance at the organization's recent Washington summit.

Say, I wonder who the "the White House policy person" Hammock communicated with could have been? And what the "logistics" could possibly have been?

Anyhow, at this point it's clear that this appearance, and Hammock's blog entry, was "spontaneous and unscripted" only the narrowest sense. Looks to me like Rove->NFIB->Hammock. No wonder Hammock "spontaneously" regurgitated the Republican 2004 campaign slogan.

Nice blog, though. And Hammock's small business is a $10 million operation. I'm glad he's successful. He's just totally, totally wrong about Bush, and it's very unfortunate that he lent himself to a "spontaneous" Republican event that clearly seems to be orchestrated to the last detail.

UPDATE Well, well, well. Here's Hammock's bio.

[Hammock] is a veteran public relations, marketing and advertising executive.

So now a Republican PR executive is "confirming" that "that nothing was scripted or rehearsed." Forgive my skepticism....

UPDATE More above.

Science for Republicans 


A dark, unseen energy permeating space is pushing the universe apart

That would be Karl Rove.

We're 43 


What a horrible coincidence.

After all, the answer to everything is 42, not 43.

Gay marriage already legal in New Mexico 

Who knew? Atrios.

Letterman and Leno on Bush 

AP via WaPo here:

Here now is my favorite story of the week, rumor that President Bush had a nose job. He had some sort of plastic surgery and had a nose job. If this is true, it would be the first new job he's created since he's taken office


"President Bush is now focusing on jobs. I think the one job he's focusing most on is his own. The White House is now backtracking from its prediction that 2.6 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. this year. They say they were off by roughly 2.6 million jobs."

And Leno on gay marriage:

"President Bush said the only time two men should ever be in bed together is when one is a politician and the other in a lobbyist."

Heh heh heh ....

Brains of DNC types still dead: film at 11 

Oh for heaven's sake:

Attorneys are challenging a preliminary security plan for this summer's Democratic National Convention that would limit protesters to a small patch of land virtually out of sight of the convention hall.

The plan would restrict protests to a triangle-shaped site near the FleetCenter, which attorneys fear could be obscured from view by buses and television satellite trucks, making demonstrations useless.

"What's the point to just have a rally when you don't have an audience for whom the rally is organized?" said Urszula Masny-Latos, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Can't they see that by doing this, they take away our ability to use that same issue against the Republican "Boy Emperor in a Bubble"—even though the Republicans do this 1000 times worse?

What a PR disaster—and an analytical one—this is. Democrats should feel the stupidity and anti-Constitutionalism of "free speech" (ha) zones with every bone in their bodies. Feckless, gutless Beltway Dems...

Heritage Foundation Rues "Anarchy" in San Francisco 

Don't have a link for this, but appearing on MSNBC during the 7AM PDT this morning, a representative from the Heritage Foundation called on those who support gay marriage to, nonetheless, denounce San Francisco's Major's defiance of the....wait for it...yes...the rule of law; when an elected official can choose which laws to enforce and which not, then truly we are tettering on the edge of anarchy.

Courtesy of Balto, of The Island of Balto, here, in the form of an animated cartoon, is the face of anarchy.

Others see something else in that orderly blocks-long line of astonishingly normal looking people, and one of them is the great Patrick Nielson Hayden, who must have been eating especially light recently, considering the blinding luminousity, (or was it just my tears) he finds in some familiar words paired with some unfamiliar pictures.

Who pictured there wouldn't fit into your family, or wouldn't be welcome as your neighbor?

Appearing with Mr. Heritage Foundation was a representative of the Log Cabin Republicans, who supported gay marriage, but being a law and order type, worried that what was happening in San Francisco might be counter-productive. I think he's wrong.

This is an almost classic case of civil disobedience, and the invocations of Rosa Parks are entirely appropriate. It's a radiant moment we're watching, and no matter the twists, turns, and even the switchbacks ahead, there's no turning back from the implications of that radiance.

Send flowers!
If you want to be part of the moment, someone got the brilliant idea of sending flowers to a random couple in line, and would like to see it become a movement; me too. Patrick, via Cory Doctorow has all the information you'll need.

Bush lets the cat out of the bag on canned, so-called "conversations" 

Jennifer Loven of AP writes:

As [Bush] spoke, five taxpayers who had met with the president before the event stood behind him.

"See, there's a human dimension to all the talk about numbers," Bush said as he recited facts about each. "And it's important for the people here in Washington to think about the people whose lives will be affected if they don't act."

See, now he just recites "facts" while people stand behind him. This is a change:

The setup was a departure from his most recent economic events, in which the White House orchestrates public "conversations" for citizens to tell personal stories that compliment the president's policy agenda.

Sometimes, though, they are too slow. For instance, while at a Tampa, Fla., window and door manufacturer on Monday, the president jumped in to point out that one employee, Noemi Gonzalez, would pay $1,200 more next year in taxes if the cuts are not made permanent. "And that's not right," he said, before stopping himself and turning the floor back to Gonzalez. "And she said -- I'm putting words in your mouth."

Yep, that's right. Not only were the windows fake, the speeches by the employees were fake! Bush blew his cue in the script, and covered for it clumsily. I guess the earpiece wasn't working that day....

US troops to stay in Iraq for years. 

Surprise! So that would make the June 30 hand over of sovreignty, well, an election-driven piece of foofraw, right? Robert Burns of the AP writes in the LA Times here:

American officials say U.S. forces will be needed in Iraq long after a sovereign government is restored this summer, but they have yet to work out the terms of a continued presence.

Senior Pentagon officials said Thursday they were confident that the Iraqis, once given political control, would agree U.S. troops should stay. But some outside the government question whether that would hold true once an elected Iraqi government took over.

"I think there's a fairly comfortable understanding that the coalition has a lot to offer with respect to continued security in Iraq," [Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's chief spokesman, Larry Di Rita] said, and "that people in Iraq understand that (and) want the coalition to continue to be involved in security in some way."

For planning purposes, the Army is assuming it will have to keep roughly 100,000 troops in Iraq for at least another two years, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, told Congress recently.

Not that the Bush malAdministration would do something like, you know, budget for that or anything...

Theme of new Republican ad campaign 

Wait for it ....


$100 million to spend and they came up with that?

And of course, they've been trying their new campaign slogan (back here): "I am a deathless deafening hypocrite." Deafening? Check. Hypocrite? Check ...

Winger projection—Some kind of death ray—Too much—Uh—

Chairman Kean of the 9/11 Commission to wuss out 

WaPo Here:

The independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will have to consider scaling back the scope of its inquiry and limiting public hearings unless Congress agrees by next week to give the panel more time to finish its work, its chairman said yesterday.

Will the 9/11 families stand for it?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

THE MENACE OF GAY MARRIAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

(Copyright (c) 2004 The Los Angeles Times)

Oh. Never mind.

This is the first of the gay marriages in San Francisco, by the way.

As I've said before, I'd like to be middle-of-the-road on this. Since I don't think the government should be in the business of deciding what's sacred, I don't think the government should be in the business of deciding who can and can't participate in "holy" matrimony. The government can be in the civil unions business: making sure that Phyllis (79, left) and Del (right, 83) can visit each other in the hospital, inherit, and have the other rights that spouses have. That's the position Vermont took, and Howard Dean took, and I think that, in a rational world, that's still the position I'd like to take. In addition, I'd leave the question of what civil unions look like up to the states. The whole question can be handled in the Federalist framework the Framers set up. If you want polygamy, move to Utah. And so forth.

And I have to say I'm really hopeful that the majority of the American people are going to have a sense of fair play and decency on this one. (Never forget that Clinton's popularity was never higher than when the Republicans were being most true to their thuggish selves.)

Because of the great courage and dignity of hundreds of thousands of gays coming out over the past decades, there are hundreds of thousands of American mothers and fathers who will have to ask themselves: "Would I want my gay child to have the joys (and sorrows) of the marriage that I have had?" I think, on reflection, most will answer "Yes." (I'd hope that Richard Gephardt and Dick Cheney would be in that number.)

Maybe that "Yes" answer will involve the sacrifice of cherished pictures of how the world should be. If so, and if the country is going to be divided on this, I'm on the side of those who sacrifice their pictures of the world in favor of the children that they love.

But maybe Bush and Rove aren't going to let me be middle-of-the-road. If so: "Bring it on."

UPDATE: Now San Francisco is going to court to protect their married gays.

Bork and company butchered the legal-ese in the anti-gay marriage amendment 

Thank heavens we didn't put Bork on the Supreme Court!

Alan Cooperman of WaPo reports:

In the spring and summer of 2001, a group of conservative legal scholars including former Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork hammered out the proposed text of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

[Now] White House aides say President Bush is about to endorse [the amendment]. Yet there is no consensus -- even among its authors -- about what the text means.

Though it is just two sentences long, the amendment's possible interpretations are a matter of furious debate among constitutional scholars and political activists, with some contending that it would allow Vermont-style civil unions and others saying it would not.

When he, Bork, Bradley and others were circulating drafts three years ago, he said, they were trying to satisfy many conservative constituencies.

"Some people wanted to ban all civil unions," he said. "Some people wanted a pure federalism amendment" -- one that would guarantee that no state has to recognize same-sex unions granted by another state -- "and some wanted a pure judicial restraint amendment" that would tie judges' hands.

The amendment's second sentence, in particular, bears the hallmarks of committee action. Gay rights groups contend that the phrase about "legal incidents" of marriage would bar civil unions, and that evangelical Christian organizations are trying to sell the amendment to the public as more moderate than it is.

Peter J. Rubin, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center who heads the liberal American Constitution Society, said he originally thought the Musgrave amendment "couldn't possibly have been the work of a lawyer."

But after learning that Bork and other eminent scholars were involved, Rubin began to see more in the text. "If they don't mean it, it's sloppy," he said. "If they do mean it, it's mean-spirited."

Sloppy, mean-spirited, arrogant, and self-righteous. Sounds like Iraq all over again! And I bet the Republicans have no plan to get out of this war, either. So, as the Big Dog said, "We'll just have to win, then."

NOTE Here's the text of the amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

UPDATE More on the second sentence from Jacob T. Levy in the New Republic here:

The [anti-gay marriage amendment] was oddly written in an attempt to meet social conservative aims under cover of shoring up the separation of powers and respecting federalist principles--and while avoiding the appearance of extremism that would be created by banning civil unions altogether. The attempt to do all this simultaneously failed. We're left with an amendment that achieves social conservative aims by subverting both the separation of powers and federalism. In this case, a bad cause seems to have made for bad law.

Mel Gibson: Sins of the father 

First, let's hear from Mel Gibson's dad. (After all, as Mel said, "The man never lied to me.") From New York Daily News, Tracy Connor reports:

A week before Mel Gibson's movie about Jesus Christ hits theaters, his father has gone on an explosive rant against Jews - claiming they fabricated the Holocaust and are conspiring to take over the world.

"They're after one world religion and one world government," Hutton Gibson, 85, said in a radio interview that will air Monday night.

"That's why they've attacked the Catholic Church so strongly, to ultimately take control over it by their doctrine."

Hutton Gibson spoke Monday to Steve Feuerstein of "Speak Your Piece!" on WSNR (620 AM), a show syndicated by Talkline, the largest syndicator of Jewish programming.

"They claimed that there were 6.2 million in Poland before the war, and they claimed after the war there were 200,000 - therefore he must have killed 6 million of them," he said. "They simply got up and left! They were all over the Bronx and Brooklyn and Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles."

He said the Germans did not have enough gas to cremate 6 million people and that the concentration camps were just "work camps."

"It's all - maybe not all fiction - but most of it is," he said.

Gibson reserved most of his vitriol for Judaism, asking: "Is the Jew still actively anti-Christian? He is, for by being a Jew, he is anti-everyone else."

Mel Gibson's spokesman, Alan Nierob, had no comment on the elder Gibson's tirade.


It may be that Gibson's commercial retelling of Christ's Passion isn't anti-semitic. But if that's so, then how come all the incidents that don't occur in the Bible do occur in an 1833 book by an anti-semitic nun that Gibson acknolwedges reading? David Crumm of the Detroit Free Press reports:

In a nationally televised interview this week, Gibson said he based his violent portrayal of Jesus' torture and crucifixion on the Bible. He acknowledged that he has read Anne Catherine Emmerich's 1833 book about Jesus death, but said he was unaware of anti-Jewish references in it.

However, on several network TV news shows this week, Gibson's critics are planning to respond that his comments seem deceptive. In fact, they say, the movie depicts scene after scene paralleling the incendiary book, which contains dozens of hateful depictions of Jews.

John Dominic Crossan, a Catholic Bible scholar and author based in Florida, said Wednesday that he has made a fresh analysis of the film, which he has seen, in light of Emmerich's book and plans to be one of the leading voices criticizing "The Passion of the Christ." ...

Rabbi James Rudin, senior interreligious adviser to the American Jewish Committee, said he also planned to speak out on the Fox News Network on Wednesday night. .... Rudin said he was comparing the film, which he has seen twice, with sections of Emmerich's "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ."

"Here's one example. There's this whole brutal scene in the movie in which Jesus' captors hang him over a bridge by chains and then yank him back up again," Rudin said. "That's nowhere in the New Testament. Where did it come from?"

The scene is nearly identical to one in Emmerich's book, where she describes a Jewish group, the Pharisees, egging on a mixed group of Romans and Jews to heighten Jesus' suffering.

One dramatic touch after another in Gibson's film parallels not the Bible, but Emmerich, say Rudin and Crossan.

In fact, many common portrayals of Jesus' suffering aren't clearly contained in the Bible. Three of the four gospels, for instance, say that it was another man who carried Jesus' cross. And the entire description of Jesus' scourging amounts to a few words in the ancient Greek texts of the gospels.

In contrast, Emmerich provides page after page of scenes involving Jesus' flowing blood, torn skin and the hovering presence of bloodthirsty Jews. At one point, her account says Jesus' suffering, "far from exciting a feeling of compassion in the hard-hearted Jews, simply filled them with disgust and increased their rage. Pity was, indeed, a feeling unknown in their cruel breasts."

Crossan, Rudin and Fisher all said they have been hesitant until recently to criticize Gibson. Their new concern, they say, was sparked mainly by Gibson's own claims about the film.



Remember Texas redistricting? It's OK for Republicans. But now, in Georgia, it's not OK for Democrats.


Fun with anagrams! 

"Texas soufflé: A Foul Sex Fest (Thanks to alert reader GWBhus)


Just like the entire 2004 election is going to turn into a $100 million foul sex fest. Gack Just Republicans being Republicans!

Acting President Rove told wingers two weeks ago Bush supports amendment banning gay marriage 


"We were told by Karl Rove that the president would support the constitutional amendment -- not just that he would endorse it but also that he would fight for it," Buchanan said.

Specifically, Rove told an alliance of conservatives known as the Arlington Group in a telephone conversation that Bush would back the amendment being put forward by Colorado Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and that his statement would come "sooner rather than later."

Buchanan said she and colleagues were a little concerned that Bush had not yet spoken out in favor of the amendment.

"We had expected it by now. There have been several opportunities for the president to speak out since that time. We're not sure what he's waiting for," she said.

Memo to Karl: Tell that slippery little scut to "Bring it on."

Now that Bush's wife is out there campaigning, I have a vocabulary request 

Now that Laura Bush is out there campaigning for her husband (gosh, the uproar if this had been Hillary) I'm not comfortable with calling her "The First Lady," since that's apolitical. And since she seems to have been chosen by the Acting President, Karl Rove, to start the dirty work on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, I figure she's fair game....

And I'm not comfortable calling her "Mrs. Bush," since there are several (and in Neil's case, several serially).

And I'm not comfortable calling her "Laura Bush" since that lacks, well... Well, it Lacks the bite and panache that we seek here at Corrente.

Readers? Suggestions? Maybe keep playing that dumb but fun "W" game— "LauWa Bush"?

Could it be (gasp) that the June 30 deadline for the turnover to Iraqis is driven by Bush's re-election needs? 

The Iraqis seem to think so. From Noah Feldman, a law professor at New York University, who has advised the Iraqi Governing Council on writing its constitution:

"It's not as if the Iraqis don't have television," Mr. Feldman added. "Everybody in Iraq believes that these deadlines are chosen by American electoral politics. Regardless of whether the June 30 deadline originated in Baghdad or Washington, it clearly reflected a coordinated administration policy to jump-start the process. That's an extremely high risk strategy."

"This is entirely a schedule dictated by Karl Rove," said an Arab diplomat who maintains close contacts with the administration, referring to the White House's political director. "Anyone who thinks otherwise is naïve."

Administration officials say that Mr. Brahimi was told that one option he must not accept is postponement of the June 30 date for the transfer of power.

"It is holy writ," said an administration official.

Right. Bush's re-election = "holy writ." Well, with these people, it does.... Gack.

Bush AWOL: Leno 

Mr. Mainstream himself:

"[LENO:] Now there's speculation that President Bus may have had a nose job; probably what happened was, it started growing when he started telling those stories about the National Guard."

Well, before that, surely... Still, whatever it takes!

Drip, drip, drip.....

Bush to get government into the sanctity business 

Yep, he's going to endorse the anti-gay marriage amendment. It's just a question of when. Mike Allen reports:

President Bush said yesterday that he is troubled [back] by the issuance of marriage licenses to gay couples in San Francisco, but he again stopped short of endorsing a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Bush plans to make such an endorsement, but the announcement's timing is being debated in the White House.

Sheesh. Is there so much love in the world that we can't recognize all of it?

UPDATE: Directions on getting a marriage license in San Francisco are here.

Wedding album here.

UPDATE Yep, just ask Acting President Rove:

Bush's biggest immediate decision is when to publicly embrace a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and whether he should also come out against allowing same-sex couples to have civil unions that give them many of the same rights as married people.

Republican sources said Bush's political adviser Karl Rove has assured leading conservatives the president will soon give his backing to a constitutional amendment.

"This is absolutely the number one issue for conservatives and the sooner Bush gets out there the more he will energize his support," said Appell.

Sure. I'm sure Gingrich, Hyde, Livinstone, Limbaugh and all the rest are going to line up in defense of marriage—by sponsoring a constitutional amendment against adultery and divorce.

Funny how the chickenhawks on Iraq are chickenhawks when it comes to defending their own marriages, isn't it?

Chicago's Mayor Daley supports gay marriage 

AP here:

Mayor Richard Daley said he would have "no problem" with Cook County issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in Chicago, the nation's third largest city.

Entering a national debate over gay marriage, Daley urged sympathy for same-sex couples because "they love each other just as much as anyone else."

Daley also dismissed a suggestion Wednesday that marriage between gay couples would undermine the institution.

"Marriage has been undermined by divorce, so don't tell me about marriage," he said.



No, not a typo for "BYOB"—Bring Your Own Beer ....

"Buy Your Own President"! (back).

NOTE Thanks to alert reader lurch for suggesting this should be a meme.

Comrade Lysenko, meet Dear Leader 

Elizabeth Shogren of the LA Times reports reports:

"What we are seeing here, and we have not seen it before, is an administration that distorts the process by which it gets advice and censors the advice it gets from its own scientists," said Kurt Gottfried, emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University and chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

For example, when claiming that Iraq had sought to acquire aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment centrifuges, thus providing evidence of a weapons program, the administration disregarded the contrary assessment by experts at the Livermore, Los Alamos and Oak Ridge national laboratories, the scientists said.

The report also shines a light on previously low-profile examples of alleged distortions. For instance, James Zahn, a research biologist at the Agriculture Department, said that, on at least 11 occasions, he was prohibited by his superiors from publicizing his research on the potential hazards to human health from airborne bacteria from farm wastes. Zahn left the department convinced that his work was being suppressed to protect agribusiness, the report stated.

Bush to scientists: "We'll tell you the answers we need when we need them."

Pentagon hiding soldier suicides in Iraq 


AWOL Bush: If Bush released "all" the documents, then where is the DD214 separation record? 

Good questions via Code name Monkey via Froomkin. (See back here on the DD-214).

Meanwhile, the (lazy) SCLM seems to be dropping the story, because there's "nothing new." Leaving us, as David Corn points out with the same old questions:

To recap, here are the three key issues.

* In May 1972, Bush moved from Texas to Alabama to work on the Senate campaign of a family friend. He still had two years left on his Guard obligation. He requested permission to continue his Guard training in Alabama. But did he show up?

* Sometime after the November 1972 election, he returned to Houston. But his immediate supervisors at Ellington Air Base in Houston--his home base--noted in a May 2, 1973, annual performance review that Bush "has not been observed at this unit" for the past year. After that report, he put in several intensive stints of duty. But had Bush ignored his Guard responsibilities for months once he was back in Houston?

* In September 1972, he was grounded for failing to take a flight physical. Why did he not go through this simple step to preserve his flying status?

The new records provide answers to none of this.

In fact, as Eric Boehlert writes in Salon (go on, get the day pass)

The surprising absence of relevant documents [back here and here] over the weekend may add credence to the accusation raised six years ago by a retired Texas Air National Guard officer who claims aides to Bush went through his military file in 1997 and removed anything that would have been embarrassing for Bush

Yes, Mrs. Bush is standing by her man on this one. But it's third hand evidence: All she "knows" is what Bush "knows." Except the trouble with Bush is not what he knows, or what he doesn't know—it's what he knows that ain’t so. And it sounds like one of those things is his Guard duty (or lack thereof).

UPDATE An excellent summary of the state of play on the Bush AWOL issue by CalPundit here.

I mean, call me crazy, but why should it be so hard to figure out how much military service our "war President" actually did? I just don't get it.

Republican National Convention dada! 

Political theatre:

But while Mr. Rove was inside [the club, collecting $400,000 more for the $100 million Bush campaign], more than 100 protesters were outside, standing behind blue police barricades chanting slogans, waving placards and offering a bit of street theater that confused the police.

At one point, as hundreds of guests with invitations waited to pass through velvet barriers to enter the club, a small group of men in bowler hats and women in gowns marched up, chanting, "Four more wars" and "Re-elect Rove."

As the group approached, a man who appeared to be a security agent of some type, was overheard whispering into a microphone: "We've got two groups. One for and one against."

Actually, it was two against. The person was confused by a group that calls itself Billionaires for Bush, a collection of activists who use satire to make a political point. Indeed, members of the Sierra Club, who were protesting on the other side of the street were also confused and began shouting at what they thought was a pro-Bush contingent.

" We want the truth and we want it now!" the Sierra protesters shouted.

The billionaires shouted back, "Buy your own president!"

It took a few minutes, but the police finally realized what was going on when they escorted the group behind the blue barricades as well. Still, the show was not over. A black town car pulled up and out stepped a man whom who the crowd assumed to be Mr. Rove. "There is Karl Rove," people shouted.

Reporters, photographers and television cameramen swarmed the man, but the police pushed them back. Another man lifted the velvet rope to let him enter. But the would-be Mr. Rove walked over to the crowd of protesters and began shaking hands, when finally, again, this was seen to be a joke. It was not Mr. Rove, but an actor playing the part.

Pretty good. Too bad the whole thing wasn't on the web live—ThugCam?

And let's take the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention as an example of what not to do. The point is to win, not to act out.

Blogging in Iran 

The Iranians like blogs becaue they can bypass the state-run media... AP here:

Take one exasperated Iranian woman. Add a computer. Hook it up to the Internet.

"And you have a voice in a country where it's very hard to be heard," said Lady Sun, the online identity of one of the first Iranian women to start a blog - a freeform mix of news items, commentaries and whatever else comes to mind.

Initially created to defy the nation's tight control on media, these Web journals have turned into a cyber-sanctuary - part salon, part therapist's couch - for the vast pool of educated, young and computer-savvy Iranians.


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Chalabi and the Republicans: A marriage made in heaven 

How did we miss this one... Via Atrios, Newsday's Knut Royce reports:

U.S. authorities in Iraq have awarded more than $400 million in contracts to a start-up company that has extensive family and, according to court documents, business ties to Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon favorite on the Iraqi Governing Council.

$400 million... That's four Bush campaigns... Not a bad return on the investment of a few stories planted with Judith Miller....

Yep, it's the old self-licking ice cream cone for sure... The system of looting Republicans have mastered so well... And Chalabi gets a big slurp all his own...

Mrs. Bush on the campaign trail 

Before attending a fund raiser to rake in another $500,000 for her husband's $100 million warchest, Mrs. Bush made a campaign stop at a library.

In case none of the librarians informed her, the petition to restore safeguards for the privacy of bookstore and library records that were eliminated by the Patriot Act—sponsored by the real librarians of the American National Library Association—is here.

Funny that none of the reporters travelling with the Bush campaign surrogate asked about the incongruity.... Or not funny.

California not to accept San Francisco gay marriage licenses? 


California will not recognize the marriage licenses granted to thousands of same-sex couples in San Francisco because the city created its own form to remove such terms as "bride" and "groom," a state official said on Wednesday.

"There is a statewide form that every county has to use for marriage applications. If we receive application forms that are different from the single form used throughout the state, we will not accept them," said Nicole Kasabian Evans, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Agency.

Nancy Lafaro, director of the San Francisco County Clerk's office, said the marriage license applications gay and lesbian couples in San Francisco have filled out since last Thursday were changed. "For example, instead of saying bride or groom, the form in San Francisco says applicant one and applicant two," she said.

Lafaro added the same-sex marriage application form also uses the terms "unmarried individuals" rather than "unmarried man" or "unmarried woman.

From the sublime to the ridiculous...

Gosh, I can just hear the Republicans working themselves up already... "Pointy-headed bureaucrats..." "Red tape...." "Freedom..." No?

George likes to watch! 

Gosh, Bush is really being a tease on this marriage amendment thing. Why doesn't he just come out and say it? Or maybe he just did. Take a look at this quote:

"[BUSH]: Marriage ought to be defined by the people, not by the courts, and I'm watching carefully."

Now, call me crazy... But if Bush wants marriage "defined by the people," isn't that exactly what the gays who are getting married are doing?


To Bush, gays aren't people.

You think?

Bush's Orwellian tendencies 

Excellent video with audio commentary, dissecting Bush's "canned speech," from Mike Malloy.

I couldn't listen to the whole video, since I started throwing things at the screen, so let me know how it comes out, OK?

Texas soufflé 

George W. Bush. Synonyms: aWol, Blotchy, Pretzel Boy.

Usage example: "Behind his back they called [Bush] "the Texas soufflé," because he was "all puffed up and full of hot air."

Here is farmer's original post.

Trouble every day 

Well, it seems the Texas Soufflé considers gay marriage non-fabulous: in fact, he's "deeply troubled" by it.

Bush, a strong supporter of limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, warned again that he would support a constitutional amendment to protect and defend that institution, but declined to say whether that time had yet arrived.

"I am deeply troubled by activist judges who are defining marriage," Bush said before holding talks with Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "I have watched carefully what's happened in San Francisco, where licenses were being issued even though the law states otherwise. ...

Funny thing:

The only "activist judges" I can remember are the ones who handed Bush his office, something that I, too, found deeply troubling.

And I've got to pat myself on the back on this one: I knew Bush was going to break out that old "activist judges" meme before I even read the story!

A-and: Isn't it deeply insulting to call the judges activists when in fact the gays getting married are the true activists, just as much as Rosa Parks was?

Now here's a song from a long time back:

Well I’m about to get up sick
From watchin my t.v.
Been checkin’ out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it’s gonna change, my friend
Is anybody’s guess
So I’m watching and I’m waiting
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I go to praying
Every time I hear them sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ everyday
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day (Frank Zappa, "Trouble Every Day")

Bush AWOL: Lady Bush stands by her man 

AP interview here:

"[LAURA BUSH]The president served in a very honorable way. He served in the National Guard. We have National Guard troops all over Iraq and Afghanistan right now. I think it's a political, you know, witch hunt, actually on the part of the Democrats. ... He knows that he served honorably. And, you know, he knows that he showed up the whole time. He became a fighter jet pilot."

Right. Bush "knows", but the records don't "show," and the witnesses say "No..."

As so often, the trouble with Bush is not what he knows, or what he doesn't know—it's what he knows that ain’t so (citation).

Lady Bush on gay marriage 

AP interview excerpts here:

"[LAURA BUSH]: It's an issue that people want to talk about and not want the Massachusetts Supreme Court, or the mayor of San Francisco to make their choice for them. I know that's what the president thinks - it's an issue that needs to be debated. People want to be able to look at it and talk about it. I think people ought to have that opportunity to debate it, to think about it, to see what the American people really want to do about the issue."

John and Mary choose to get married. How does the mayor of San Francisco make their choice for them? Jules and Jim get married. How does that affect John and Mary's choice?

Actually, I'd be all for having a debate on this—since I think the government should be out of the sanctity business, I think the government should be out of the marriage business, and only in the civil unions business—if I didn't know that all Bush wants to do is pander to his base, and the kind of fake, staged debate he'd want to stage would only hurt the country.

Our "War President": The war against the environment 

Jim Florio via the Newark Star Ledger opines:

President Bush's proposal to cut spending at the Environmental Protection Agency by more than 7 percent is one more reminder of something we are coming to know all too well. It seems that hardly a week goes by without some new environmentally degrading policy initiative from Washington.

But the obvious impact of each dangerous policy act masks the even more serious structural damage quietly being done to the nation's system of environmental protection. One clear example of this phenomenon is the recent issuance of a rule that would limit inspections of polluting industrial smokestacks.

Such sources of pollution are regulated under the Clean Air Act. Periodic inspections of potential polluters by state and federal officials are the best way to ensure compliance with the law : if you get caught, you're in trouble. But now, Washington is limiting the current requirement of at least two inspections every five years to no more than two inspections every five years.

Limiting pollution testing at industrial facilities will, in effect, establish a new approach to environmental law. Under such an approach, for example, a state would not be allowed to be more vigilent than the federal government. Federal law would effectively pre-empt the ability of states to be more protective of their citizens than is currently the case. If the law is to be changed, let the law so be changed -- but don't change it on the sly through regulatory modifications and redefinitions out of sight of the general public.

We should not be surprised by this environmental policy-making sleight-of-hand. It has become a regular feature in Washington over the past three years. At least Newt Gingrich was forthright in wanting to repeal many environmental laws, but he was killed politically for his effort. His ideological successors are clever enough not to risk head-on assaults. Rather, they conjure up measures designed to effectively repeal laws without the public relations burden of doing it in accordance with the Constitution.

Adherence to the letter of the law has traditionally been thought of as a hallmark of conservatism. But when it comes to protecting the environment, this administration is anything but conservative. That shouldn't be a surprise either. People who have no compunctions about making up reasons to go to war are not about to let a little thing like the law stand in the way of radical policies that help some make profits but threaten our right to clean air and clean water.

What he said....

Guardian runs contest for doctored campaign photos 

Here. (Deadline: February 20).

Another campaign slogan for Bush? 

Yes, the classics are always the best:

Jan Miner played Madge the Manicurist in an age of blissful, new-and-improved consumer disbelief. Madge came about in a time when Madison Avenue conspired to fool diners at fine restaurants by having their coffee secretly replaced by Folgers, to make Mother Nature think margarine was butter, and to surreptitiously dunk women's hands in Palmolive dish soap.

"You're soaking in it" was Madge's trademark line

"You're soaking in it"...

Yes, I can get behind that as the new Republican campaign slogan (though see alternatives back here).

Though "soaking" in what, I wonder ... Readers?

How do you reach people who want, desperately, to believe in Bush? 

Froomkin: Ft. Polk Troops Practiced Their Hoo-ahs.

I don't know... Readers?

WhiteWash House Bush "not a statistician" 


The White House backed away Wednesday from its own prediction that the economy will add 2.6 million new jobs before the end of this year, saying the forecast was the work of number-crunchers and that President Bush was not a statistician.

There's such a fine line between optimistic and delusional....

I come to bury Howard, not to praise him 

I come to bury Howard, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones:
So let it be with Howard. The noble pundits
Hath told you Howard was too angry:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Howard answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Russert and the rest,—
For Russert is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honorable men,—
Come I to speak in Howard's funeral.
He was my candidate, truthful and just to me:
But Brit Hume says he was too angry;
And Brit Hume is an honourable man
He nailed Bush on his lies about the war,
and did the Democratic coffers fill:
Did this in Howard seem too angry?
When that the sick have suffered, Howard cured them:
Anger should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet WaPo says he was too angry;
And WaPo's run by honourable men.
Modo did see him with his darnéd socks
and he was legendary for his cheapness,
yet insured everyone. Was this anger?
Yet Dave Brooks says he was too angry;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what pundits wrote,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once,—not without cause:
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him?—
O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason!—Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Howard,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

[See the original Shakespeare here.]

UPDATE Thanks to alert reader hadenough, see here for Dean's future plans.

Howard Dean will end his campaign for the presidential nomination and oversee a new effort to keep his issues alive and his supporters organized on behalf of Democratic causes, two party officials said Wednesday.

With the benefit of hindsight... I always felt—and dammit, didn't write, since I didn't want to be overly critical—that Dean made a mistake in refusing Federal money. If he'd set up a 527 and built a movement by spreading the contributions around, he might have been untouchable today. Dean has shown he can play for high stakes at a high level—and change the rules of the game while doing so. If he continues, more power to him. We need more like him.

The wingers can quote scripture to their purpose 

So why don't Democrats quote it for their's?

It's been often remarked that Bush uses coded language to appeal to a religious constituency. For example, Bush's statement that "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" (citation) is a direct borrowing from the words oif Jesus as reported in Luke 11:23: "He that is not with me is against me."

Could anything be disgusting and offensive than for Bush to identify himself with Christ?

I don't see any reason at all for Democrats to allow Republicans to present themselves as more religious, let alone more moral or virtuous.

It's about time Democrats learned this language. This searchable version of the King James bible is a good start.

Thoughts? (This has nothing to do with the validity of Christianity, or the nature of religion. We have to start talking to people where they are, using language that they understand. If that language is religious, then so be it.)

The Arnis™ to married gays: Drop dead! 


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told San Francisco's City Hall to terminate its defiant spree of same-sex weddings yesterday as two judges declined to halt the city's matrimonial movement.

In all, 2,636 gay and lesbian couples have tied the knot since Mayor Gavin Newsom decided last Thursday to challenge the 2000 law on the grounds that it violates the state constitution.

I have yet to understand why:

- if Jules and Jim are married, that makes John and Mary any less married.

- there is no amendment proposed against adultery, divorce, or fornication, if defense of marriage is really at issue.

- if gay marriage is forbidden by the Bible, and slavery is permitted, why there is no amendment proposed permitting slavery again.

I say follow the money on the whole controversy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Snow wanders off the reservation on jobs predictions 

Who does he think he is? Paul O'Neill? Edmund Andrews of The Times writes:

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow distanced himself on Tuesday from the Bush administration's official prediction that the nation would add 2.6 million jobs by the end of this year.

Unemployment and the nation's surprisingly sluggish pace of job creation has become a significant political weakness for Mr. Bush, who is on track to be the first president since Herbert Hoover to end his first term with fewer jobs than when he started.

What with the war spending, and the Republicans spending like drunken sailors, it would be pretty amazing if the economy didn't respond to what looks to this non-economist like a good old-fashioned Keynesian stimulus, well-timed for an election year.

Will spending on weaponry, losing our manufacturers, outsourcing our knowledge-based industries, and replacing good jobs with McJobs and security guard work make for a healthy economy and a happy body politic? I don't know. Some days it looks to me like the only growth industry is lying: Sure looks like a lot of Republicans are making good money at it.

Bush campaign politicizes Ash Wednesday 

Yep, the RNC is bringing out the big guns. According to Reuters Lady aWol:

says she would like to see Mel Gibson's controversial film about the final hours of Jesus Christ, which Jewish leaders have condemned as an anti-Semitic portrayal of the crucifixion story.

"I think it sounds very interesting and I'd like to see it," the first lady told reporters while visiting a high school in Bentonville, Arkansas. She had been asked if she planned to see the film.

The film opens next week on Ash Wednesday. But it has already stirred widespread interest among U.S. evangelical Christians, a group with billions of dollars in spending power and tens of millions of votes.

Can anything be more vile and disgusting than the way the Republicans prostitute their faith during campaign season?

The hypocrites and Pharisees of the Republican Party are exactly the sorts of people Jesus warned us against, saying:

[2] Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
[3] But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
[4] That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
[5] And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
[6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Mathew 6)

You know all those John 3:16 T-shirts you see? Democrats should start wearing ones with Mathew 6:2-6.

2000+ gay marriages in San Francisco as judges refuse to intervene 


Two judges delayed taking any action Tuesday to shut down San Francisco's same-sex wedding spree, rebuffing conservative groups enraged that the city's liberal politicians had already married almost 2,400 gay and lesbian couples.

Good for them.

Signs of spring? Democrat Chandler wins in Kentucky 


Ben Chandler saw opportunity after his big loss in last November's governor's race, figuring that between the high-profile campaign and his family's deep roots in Kentucky politics, voters knew him about as well as they could.

The Democratic former attorney general won a special election Tuesday to fill the congressional seat Gov. Ernie Fletcher left after he defeated Chandler.

Seems a little like musical chairs, but we'll take it.

Just as in his race against Fletcher, Chandler faced a better-financed opponent in Kerr. Unlike his bid for governor, Chandler was able to withstand the money onslaught.

Rather than harp on national issues like the economy or President Bush, Chandler focused on more local issues and worked on endearing himself to veterans. He also campaigned on a platform to help lower the cost of prescription drugs and extend Social Security benefits to stay-at-home parents.

Kos has more, and reminds us we could be 20 seats down in the (gerrymandered, illegitimate) 2004 House races, so there's a lot of work to do.

Where Are The Nascar Moms? 

Just in case you wondered, that trip the President took to Daytona last weekend was paid for exclusively by the taxpayers of America because the Bush White House deemed it not a political trip, but something more in the nature of a wartime President rallying the civilian population by placing himself in the same dangerous homeland situations that they face everyday, or NASCAR weekend, anyway, and I want to be among the first to say, "you're welcome, Mr. President."

But the election-year agenda was clear from the magnificent presidential photo shots and the red, white and blue touring bus that the Republican National Committee deployed at the track for its "Race to Victory" voter registration drive.

Oh well, let us not be petty; please. (No reference intended to the great race driver of that name) George W. Bush is our President, he represents every last one of us, and if you don't think that's an exhausting mandate, you're just plain partisan. I do assume, though, that none of those photo shots will find their way into any campaign material later in the year, however tempted the campaign people will surely be, now that those fabulous shots of El Pre....Mr. President landing on that aircraft carrier are so less useable than it was once thought they would be. Is there anyone out there who'd like to keep track of that for all of us tax-paying citizens?

Something else I learned from this fairly sharp Mike Allen/Liz Clarke WaPo piece, the following items have been deemed "political incorrect" by whatever rather secretive body it is that keeps track of that kind of thing: which means that eschewal of them in any form marks one as among that despised tiny minority of "politically correct" Americans who wield such a disproportionate influence on American culture and from whom/which Nascar races are a "refuge": cigarettes, buckets of fried chicken, beer in 16-ounce cans known as "tall boys," pickup trucks, and Confederate flags. From this, I thnk we can assume that lung cancer, heart disease, liver damage, driving under the influence, and a certain chronic grumpiness about who won the war between the states are all similarly politically incorrect, utterly American, and beyond criticism. (Obesity is not on that list because it is a sign of personal lack of discipline in a way that smoking and consumption of sixteen ounces of beer at a time are not.)

Nascar drivers may be mainstream, (there is even a "Chicken Soup For The Nascar Soul" book, the most depressing item of cultural information I learned from the piece), but they are also lonely iconoclasts. Well, that fits, doesn't it.

Fans are drawn by the sport's drivers, self-made men who kiss their wives in victory lane. They root for the American-made cars. They cheer the military flybys. They doff their caps for the pre-race prayer.

They are also uncommonly brand-loyal -- three times more likely to buy the brands of motor oil, laundry detergent, beer and cereal that sponsor race cars than other brands. Fans are sufficiently devoted to specific drivers that they will buy Earnhardt 12-can coolers, Mark Martin splashguards for their cars and Gordon dog leashes.

That loyalty is what Bush is courting this election year.

The 2002 champion, Stewart, of Rushville, Ind., admits he doesn't really follow politics but said he has made up his mind about this campaign. "Bush is my guy, and that's the end of it," said Stewart, 33. "Even in politics, the politicians are smart enough to realize how big of a marketing tool that NASCAR is, and the cars and drivers are."

That's what I like in a self-made man - brand loyality, though it's a long way from here to those rural dirt tracks and the brio of a Junior Johnson, who picked up his driving skill running moonshine for his Dad, as Tom Wolfe chronicled all those years ago in those awful mid-sixties. (A good movie from the seventies based on the Johnson legend, "The Last American Hero," with terrific performances by a wonderful cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Valerie Perinne, and Gary Busey, is available, I believe, on DVD).

Now we have corporatized race drivers and a corporatized sport proud to offer themselves as marketing tools. What does that make those Nascar dads, who sit down for dinner with their family and say grace - tools of marketing?

Sunday's pre-race festivities were cloaked in patriotism. Air Force One made its grand approach, banking over the speedway and buzzing one of the grandstands, as the 43 drivers were introduced on a giant stage. Soon after, the presidential motorcade pulled majestically down pit road, and the crowd cheered when Bush emerged from a black Suburban 2500 and waved. The president visited with drivers on pit road and peered inside several of the cars, including one sponsored by the National Guard.

One of the points of the article is that there is some question about how monolithic are the political inclinations of the Nascar enthusiasts, these Nascar dads we'll be hearing about until the repetition will become vomit-inducing. Someone who assumes they are not is Senator Bob Graham, who has sponsored a Nascar truck, and since there is some possibility that Graham might be a Kerry choice for VP, check out this CBS roundup of his own run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But where are the wives in all this? Allen/Clarke peg the Nascar fan base at 40 percent female, but you almost never hear about the wives; Laura appears briefly in the article to shake the hands of drivers and proclaim, "This is fun." (Remember the fuss that was made when Hillary wore a Yankees hat and posed with the World Series winners, and yes, growing up, she had been a Yankees and a Cubs fan, (or was it White Sox fan), but I'll assume that Laura wasn't LYING about having "fun.")

There are women drivers, not many, but this one, Tina Gordon, is described as "one of a number of rising stars in NASCAR, and she is well aware that her gender makes her one of its most valuable commodities."

Tuesday, Gordon announced a major sponsorship deal with Vassarette...Vassarette makes women's undergarments - bras and panties - and sells millions of them through its three principal retail partners - Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target.


"The potential market out there with our female fans is tremendous."

I guess those of us on the left should be pleased that corporate sponsers are comitted to gender equity. I guess.

I wonder if Shirley Muldowney, the great dragcar racer, ever had lingerie sponsorship? (Check out "Heart Like A Wheel" if you've never seen it, only available on VHS the last time I looked).

I suspect that some of the most committed Republicans among those Nascar dads, the ones who will never be pried free Bush's base, aren't blue-collar at all, their upper-middle class suburban. And I suspect that not a few of their wives are soccer moms, care about the environment and their kids go to public schools. Some of them might even have found it necessary recently, to return to work to help maintain the family's life style. And I'll bet some of them vote differently from their husbands. And those of their husbands who run a small to medium-sized business will know what Kerry, or whomever is the Democratic nominee means when they talk about rising employee heathcare premiums, and I'll be some of them worry about the falling dollar, and wonder about those deficits. So by all means necessary, the Democrats should not be writing off the south, the border states, or anywhere else where dwell Nascar enthusiasts.

If there's a Nascar soul, and if it now has it's own chicken soup book, it's rooted in a mainstream culture, let's remember, that produced more votes in 2000 for Al Gore than it did for George W. Bush.

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