Saturday, February 28, 2004

Practicing what he preaches—not! 


"I call upon all sides in the debate to conduct themselves with dignity and honor and respect," [Bush] added.

That's the preaching; now the practice.

After months of pressure from social conservatives, Bush said on Tuesday that a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was needed to prevent a weakening of "the good influence of society."

Good influence, right....

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance 

Why, you'd almost think Bush wants to keep us ignorant! The Times reports:

[The Treasury] has warned publishers they may face grave legal consequences for editing manuscripts from Iran and other disfavored nations, on the ground that such tinkering amounts to trading with the enemy.

Anyone who publishes material from a country under a trade embargo is forbidden to reorder paragraphs or sentences, correct syntax or grammar, or replace "inappropriate words," according to several advisory letters from the Treasury Department in recent months.

Adding illustrations is prohibited, too. To the baffled dismay of publishers, editors and translators who have been briefed about the policy, only publication of "camera-ready copies of manuscripts" is allowed.

The Treasury letters concerned Iran. But the logic, experts said, would seem to extend to Cuba, Libya, North Korea and other nations with which most trade is banned without a government license.

Every day something more stupid and bizarre.

Republican National Convention Dada 


An estimated 1.2 million people linked hands in a human chain the length of [Taiwan] Saturday .... Organizers said more than a million people formed the human chain that stretched 303 miles - from the northern port of Keelung down the flat western coast to Pingtung County near the island's southern tip. Local TV stations that covered the event from helicopters said the chain was complete.

What Manhattanites should do around Ground Zero Bush tries to politicize it by speaking there at the Convention.

And see? It's can be done.

US, Pakistan deny Iranian report that OBL, long captured, is being kept on ice as an October surprise 


Come on. What crazy theory will these guys come up with next?

Mel Gibson's Ash-hole Wednesday 


Oh what the fuck. Here it goes again. I took this post down on the morning of Feb. 26 because I didn't like it. But after watching MSNBC on Friday night I've changed my mind and decided to repost it after rewrite. Here goes:

What a busy day Wednesday Feb. 25, 2004. Where to begin? We had the opening of Mel Gibson's furious blood squirting spaghetti western passion play "The Horsewhooping of Jesus" to entertain us, and on the other hand we have HIS eminence grise, Calvinist Elect George W. Bush, hurling down edicts ex cathedra on the true nature of the "institution of marriage" as if he were the Sun King.

Meanwhile, CNN, MSGOP, and other like experiments in histrionics and repetitious amplified clangor, have been busily waving the bloody shirt of Gibson's monomaniacal invention around for at least the last 14 days. And Feb 25 was certainly no exception. The TVNews-noise snake oil costermongers didn't nurse this little baby viper just to let it slither off without a good milkin'. (giggling all the way to the ratings bank I'm sure)

All that cable network promotional marketing of Gibson's holy roller snuff flick, wrapped up and presented as reporting on the promotional marketing of Gibson's holy roller snuff flick, will finally deliver it's cleverly preened payload as throngs of Elmer Gantry droogies flock to the moviehouse for a heapin' helpin' of surrealistic quasi-historic clockwork orangean flogging and cruelty and ultraviolence.

And, as some have suggested, subtlely veiled (wink-wink) anti-semitism. There are no dirty frightening ass bumping dance routines involving swarthy boobies jumping out from behind hoary bustiers. Which is a good and decent long overdue precedent, I supose. Otherwise there would certainly be hell to pay and lawsuits to be filed on behalf of delicate national sensibilities. What would we tell the children!

So ok, I guess it's alright to drive the kids to the metroplex by the Baptist sponsored busload to marvel in the sheer ghastly plasma splattered flesh shredding cinematic beauty of marvelous Mel's romanticized Golgotha. Praise the barbarous Lord!

Fortunately, as I write this, the easily piqued true believer mobs exhorted by the chucklehead trumpets of twenty four hour cableTV news-squawk and the testimonial incitations of Falangist ideological perverts like William Donohue - and any number of evangelical mountebanks like, well, you name em' - are off purifying themselves in the bent flickering light of chimerical bloodbath theater. It's a great day for spiritual renewal. Eh?

And surely it's no accident that our very own infallible heroic Christian leader, George Pontificus Pilot Bush, chose the eve of this Ash Wednesday to launch his re'lection year crusade against the heretical homosexual matrimony menace attempting to subvert the canons, customs, and canards of institutionalized western Christian heterosexual dominion.

Unfortunately this entire fetishized torture chamber of repetetive blather and blusterbus will continue its downhill careen ad nauseam tomorrow morning (and the tomorrow moring after that) when the first wave of news gigglers wash up on the television sound stages and begin with their usual chirpings and chortles and cheery imbecilities all of which the hold the intellectual weight of an average an ninth grade hoky poky mixer.

And truely, was anyone outside of a facility for the criminally insane, or at least living this side of 1899, under the impression that being bound and beaten and screwed to a pole almost 2000 years ago anything less than a truely horrific experience? I mean was anyone somehow under the illusion that Christ's crucifixion was a day at the beach? Huh? What the fuck.

So, if the case can be made that pretty much no-one this side of a medieval leech gnawed bloodletting has ever been under the impression that being hoisted upon a crucifix was a day at the beach, then what in God's name was the point of making a movie that surrealistically depicts, and aggravates, in apparently exacting autopyslike cinematic detail, the intricate physical agonies of being slowly and unmercifully flayed and strung up in such a manner?

Whats the point? Are the fetishized borderline sadistic intricacies of such physical torments really of any importance at all with respect to the greater life of Jesus Christ or the message of the Gospels and the higher truths that Jesus Christ supposedly expressed? Huh?

Gibson's movie is a pointless self-righteous flagellation. For profit. It's a grim ritualistic vulgarity elevated to some kind of death notebook. (the Nazi's loved this kind of mind numbing quasi-scientific Cult of Death worship shit.) All intended to attract pliable know-nothings sniffing some superstitious hero-myth the way a triple hooked deadly creature bait is intended to attract a dumb fish. It's intended to catch fish. Stupid fish. Pure and simple. And really stupid fish at that. This ain't no historic film. It's a fiction. A romanticized gothic interpretation of the crucifixion despite the warblings of joyless sadistic idiots who make claims (of non-fiction) to the contray. It's a gassed up fertilizer bomb. It's a surrealistic creep show. As weird and sociopathic and telling as anything the Columbine killers came up on their high school shoe-string persecution trip budget.

It's a land mine designed to detonate in the public square. And it has. And the right wingers are simply giddy with the profitable brain spattered fallout. That outta tell everyone something.

It ain't about character. It's about characterization. And Gibson's film is a loveless hollow pointless serpent leering down at all of us from the tree of life.


Ius est ars boni et aequi 

(Legal justice is the art of the good and the fair.)

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. ~ Romans 12:19

The Arm and Sword of the Ashcroft

Then, according to Carrie Griffin, a young Justice Department intern who was at the prayer meeting, the attorney general turned to another matter. He wanted to make clear that forgiveness, while perfectly fine in religion, had no place in the Justice Department. "The law is not about forgiveness," he said. "It is oftentimes about vengeance, oftentimes about revenge."

That was before 9/11.

"Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out."
~ Francis Bacon

Contemptible conservatism

Some 15 years ago, Missouri state senator Harry Wiggins, a Democrat and the spokesman for a bipartisan group trying to get funding restored for a Kansas City home for AIDS patients, met with Ashcroft in the governor's mansion. The Good Samaritan home, as it was then called, had received a $900,000 state grant, but, says Wiggins, "Governor Ashcroft vetoed it. I think twice."

Wiggins tried to explain the home's purpose. "This is a place they go, Governor, but they don't come back," he began. "Many of them, their families have rejected them."

"I understand. You got my attention," Ashcroft said with interest. "This is the place where it is cheapest for me to send them to die."

"Governor, these are human beings who have to have a place to live," protested Wiggins, "or they'll live in boxes under bridges."

Wiggins remembers Ashcroft's reply: "Well, they're there because of their own misconduct, and it wasn't very reputable misconduct, either."

Wiggins was puzzled. "When does misconduct become reputable? When disreputable?"

"That's beside the point," snapped Ashcroft.

Above excerpts from: February 2004 Vanity Fair.
Mirrored here: JOHN ASHCROFT'S PATRIOT GAMES by Judy Bacharach.

The infernal serpent; he it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceiv'd
The mother of mankind.
~ Milton, Paradise Lost


Friday, February 27, 2004

Vocabulary once more 

Since not all Republicans are evil—like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe aren't backing the Hate Amendment—we need words for the Republicans that are: Rove, Cheney, the rest of the junta, the guys that are really fluffing the base.

Maybe Wazgul?

The nice thing about that idea is that we could then work out who The Nine are... Rove, Cheney, Ashcroft, Scalia, that's four ... Unless Rove is the Dark Lord... Dunno....

"One for the Dark Rove on his dark throne" does have a nice, well, ring to it...

Lot of riffs to run here.... "[SCALIA TO FLORIDA COURT, 2000]: Come not between the Wazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation ..." And so forth.

Well, it's rather late. Readers?

Yep, "zealot" is the right word—not "Christian" 


Gov. Judy Martz's comments Friday came in response to a question about a Commandments display in front of a courthouse in Kalispell. Opponents have said it violates the line between church and state, and have threatened legal action if the display is not removed.

Martz, a Republican, said such displays should be considered speech that's protected by the First Amendment.

"People who are offended by the Ten Commandments have a deeper problem than the stone that it's written on, I think," Martz said at a news conference. "Anybody that has trouble with the Ten Commandments, I think they have something going inside of them that would need a little help anyway."

Right. Like... Oh, forget it. Readers, can you help me out on this one?

Another 5:00 horror: Timothy McVeigh investigation re-opened 

AP here:

The FBI ordered a review of some aspects of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing investigation Friday, reopening the question of whether Timothy McVeigh may have had more accomplices, government officials said.

McVeigh in 1994 stole from a quarry hundreds of construction blasting caps, some which he used to explode the Oklahoma City bomb. The FBI spent months unsuccessfully trying to locate many of the other stolen caps.

Agents collected witness testimony that McVeigh had placed some of the extra caps in two boxes wrapped in Christmas paper in the back of his car along with mercury switches and duffel bags.

One electric and five non-electric blasting caps were found in the Aryan Republican Army robbers' Ohio hideout in January 1996, along with mercury switches, a duffel bag and two items described as a "Christmas package," FBI records show. The FBI allowed firefighters to destroy the caps at the scene, and they were never compared to the Oklahoma case.

Wingers, eh?

The 5:00 horror: Did the DOJ trash a federal attorney for revenge, just like the WhiteWash House did in the Plame Affair? 

Yes, there was a 5:00 horror (see back here).

Here it is, via AP

A special federal attorney has been appointed to spearhead an investigation into the nation's first major post-Sept. 11 terrorism trial, the Justice Department said Friday.

Craig S. Morford's appointment comes amid concerns over the behavior of the lead federal prosecutor in the Detroit trial of four Arab men who authorities claimed were linked to terrorist groups.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement that Morford, an assistant U.S. attorney from Cleveland, may use a grand jury or any other type of legal proceeding, civil or criminal, in the probe.

The terror trial last summer was touted as an early success in the Bush administration's war on terror. Two men were convicted of conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism and to engage in fraud and misuse of visas and other documents. A third man was convicted of fraud only. One man was acquitted.

The case came under fire as allegations surfaced that Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino withheld evidence from the defense, threatened a defense lawyer with an unfounded criminal investigation, and arranged to reduce the sentence of an illegal immigrant on trial for drug charges in exchange for acting as an informant in the terrorism case.

Convertino has vehemently denied the allegations, but a federal judge is considering whether to grant the defendants a new trial.

Convertino has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department in federal court in Washington, D.C. It alleges the department is retaliating against him because he complained frequently and publicly about "the lack of support and cooperation, lack of effective assistance, lack of resources and intradepartmental infighting" in terrorism cases.

He also contends the Justice Department compromised a confidential informant, and he alleges "gross mismanagement" in the department's terrorism and violent crimes section.

"Compromised a confidential informant? Sounds like Plame, alright!

What the heck is a special federal attorney, anyhow? Is that like, you know, a very special federal attorney?

MoveOn Is Looking For Geek Organizers 

Not primarily for themselves, but in an interesting sort of jobs fair that seeks to pair up employable adults who combine leadership and organizational skills with computer literacy with grassroots organizations who need that kind of help.

Are you an organization that's working to use technology the way MoveOn does, to help people connect and mobilize? Are you having trouble finding the right people to make it happen?

Are you one of those people who could fill this need?

Today is your opportunity to make the connection.

Within our team, we've identified a crucial role we call (affectionately) the Geek Organizer. No, that's not an organizer of geeks. It's a person who combines the leadership and communication skills of a political organizer with the technical skills of a computer nerd. How rare are these people? We don't know. But we know they exist, because we've built our organization around them.

At MoveOn.org, we need these people, right now. And we know that among our contacts are many progressive organizations that have a similar immediate need. We're betting that among our membership we have the talent we're looking for. So we'd like to invite you to join us in an experiment: A two-week campaign to identify Geek Organizers and match them to opportunities in the community. It's a virtual job fair.

Here's a link to a small test you can take if you're not sure you're a true geek organizer.

Here's a link if you are or know of an organization that needs such people.

Here's a link that should take you to a page where you can find out how to sign up via email.

You can do so until March 5th. The next week comes the pairing and introductions.

Spread the word.

Hastert does the right thing on the 9/11 commission 

Good news at 5:00. Who knew? CBS:

An intense congressional political battle came top an end on Friday when House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to give the independent panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks an extra two months to finish its report.

Hastert's decision to give the commission until July 26 to complete its work clears the way for Congress to approve the extension and could resolve a dispute that has held up action on an unrelated highway bill.

Until receiving that guarantee, McCain and Lieberman had held up a vote on a highway bill needed to prevent the furlough on Monday of some 5,000 federal workers and a cutoff of highway money.

Hastert and other GOP House leaders had balked at granting the panel additional time. Hastert's letter did not indicate when the House would act on the extension.

Of course, we would like an actual date... But it seems like good news all the same.

And it's also good to know that Hastert can be taught fear.

YABL, YABL, YABL: Bush budgetary figures 


President Bush's budget would produce deficits totaling $2.75 trillion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office projected Friday in the first authoritative look at the plan's longer-range implications.

One major item omitted by Bush's budget but included in Friday's projections was the cost of his proposal to make tax cuts permanent that otherwise would expire in 2010. Bush's tax plans would add more than $1.3 trillion to deficits over the decade, although his plans to curb domestic spending would save $700 billion over that same period, the budget office said.

Just two years ago, the budget office and Bush envisioned surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion for the decade ending in 2011. The projections released Friday cover a slightly different period, the 10 years running through 2014. Even so, the contrast is striking.

Oh, gosh. I thought Bush said the spending cuts would bring the budget back into balance. But no ...

Our CEO President 

[BUSH]: "The job of the president is to drive policy toward the ideal."


In a democracy?

Passions Here And There 

All kinds of passions this week; I'll have some thoughts on a few of them up this weekend, for any of you who may be interested.

In the meantime, let me direct your attention to:

Courtesy of Allan Brill, Melanie of Just A Bump In The Beltway points us to "The Passion of Bob Kerry," perhaps the most dangerous of the members of the 9/11 Commission, if you're one of those strangely disinterested members of the Republican right: in an interview with the NYNews that only Melanie appears to have picked up on, Kerry shows why....something about a resignation in protest against the constant secrecy of Bush & Co. That would be a big one. Let's hope he stays on and and stays angry, too.

While you're there, check out Melanie's passionate and delightful contribution to the gay marriage discussion here, and some depressing but unsurprising news about what's not happening in the matter of landmines here.

And speaking of Allan Brill of The Right Christians, is there anyone who has articulated with more passion the view that right-thinking (in the old right/wrong sense) citizens, especially those who are Christians, need to embrace the civic, moral and the religiouis arguments that justify extension of the rights of marriage to our gay breathren?

Find out for yourself here as well as here, and here, a wonderful contribution called "A Teaching Moment, but there's more here and also here. Be assured I don't recommend that much reading lightly. And don't skip the comment threads, especially if you're generally a secular lefty.

My own Jewish secularist perspective on the issue and on Mr. Gibson's movie, in a comparison to Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ" and its reception at the time are among those thoughts I hope to post tomorrow and Sunday.

Where's campaign surrogate Waura on gay marriage this week? 

Last week she was "shocked."

This week, we don't hear a thing.

I guess Acting President Rove must be waiting for the Presidents's Commission on Changing the Subject Yet Again to come out with a decision... At which point he'll give Waura her lines...

Maybe we can compromise, and allow gay marriage, but only on Mars ... Or something....

Breeding tells, doesn't it? 

Fort Worth Star Telegram here:

Don't look for presidential dining with Fabian Basabe. The narcissistic pretty boy and reported heir to an Ecuadorean fortune -- who was seen serenading young Barbara Bush during Gotham's Fashion Week -- has been banned from the White House. According to New York magazine, he's not welcome in the Bush household because Laura Bush was furious when she saw a New York Daily News pic of her 21-year-old daughter dressed in a cleavage-baring blouse straddling Basabe's leg at a party.

Just imagine if this had been Chelsea Clinton. Eh?

Vocabulary question 

I'm hearing the word "zealot" a lot.

This is the third time today. AP here:

Billiam van Roestenberg, 38, and Jeffrey McGowan, 39, of nearby Plattekill, were the first to wed. Wearing suits, they held hands and carried flowers as the crowd cheered.

"I feel happy and joyful and peaceful," van Roestenberg said. "A little bit of peace has finally come in. I feel proud to be an American."

"Now I'm normal and equal like every one else," he said.

The midday ceremonies ended a little more than an hour after they started.

More than 100 people, mostly supporters of gay marriage, turned out on the green across from village hall, outnumbering family and friends of the couples there to marry. A few scattered protesters carried signs opposing gay marriage.

Jay Blotcher of High Falls, N.Y., said that while West could only give him a certificate and not a marriage license, it was still important to go through the ceremony.

"We have to show people who we are," he said. "We've been badmouthed by religious zealots. We've been deprived by President Bush, and we have to show people that we're your friends, neighbors and family."

So, two suggestions and one question.

1. I think that, instead of using "Christian," we should start using "zealot." After all, all the self-identified, so-called Christians (especially the ones who go on TV a lot) aren't necessarily Christian in their beliefs, or their behavior. But zealots, they certainly are.

And the two Republican Senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, both are against the Hate Amendment, so
I can't use "Republican" as a generalized term of abuse any more. Yeah, yeah, I know what happened to "liberal", but heck, we liberals are big-hearted... And besides, maybe we can peel off some of their supporters if we don't sound like, well, zealots.

2. I like "winger" for movement conservative.

3. But what's a good word for the Republican leadership? The guys who are fluffing the base? The elephants we keep having to clear up after? We need a way to allow us to separate even 5% of Republican voters from their leadership.


Pentagon to set up propaganda unit 


Guess the embedded reporters weren't embedded enough.

Newspapers figuring out how to handle gay wedding announcements 

AP Here:

Newspapers in [San Francisco] and beyond are grappling with how to deal with announcements from some of the more than 3,300 same-sex weddings that have been held in the past two weeks.

In the past few years, an increasing number of newspapers around the country have been running announcements of gay commitment ceremonies and civil unions. But the San Francisco weddings led some newspapers to rethink things.

At the Santa Cruz Sentinel, which has been publishing same-sex unions for about 15 years, the burst of weddings in San Francisco prompted a change: "Now these go under 'weddings' instead of 'celebrations,'" said editor Tom Honig.

Gay marriages - including Rolon and Rogers' - made up half of all the marriage announcements in Sunday's paper, Honig said. ....

The San Francisco Chronicle traditionally runs announcements for all couples, gay or straight, for $200 to $300. To date, no gay couples married in the city since Feb. 12 have opted to buy one of the announcements.

But the Chronicle is preparing to remedy that by promoting a new, $150 announcement-and-photo package.

This thing is going so mainstream, so fast.....

Richard Cohen on Bush's moral cowardice 

In WaPo here:

Even for Bush, for whom the bar is set very low, his statement on gay marriage lacks intellectual consistency. He said he was "protecting the institution of marriage," but all he was doing was barring gays and lesbians from participating in it. He admitted the "amendment process" was a serious one and should be limited to "matters of national concern." He then trivialized it all by saying "the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance."

That is just plain silly. The 3,000 or so gay and lesbian couples who have been married in San Francisco have not, as far as I can tell, materially weakened this great country. What's more, their marriages may not survive challenge. It could be that the crisis will end with some judgment by a court affirming California's right to limit marriage to heterosexuals, such as Britney Spears.

In the style and rigor of his argument, Bush talked about marriage as he did recently about Iraq. He made one assertion after another, linking them not with evidence or with logic, but simply with the word "and." Saddam Hussein is a madman and a threat to the United States. How? Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Doesn't matter. He was a threat to us all.

It is the same with gay and lesbian marriage. Whatever you may think, it represents no threat to our way of life -- no reason to take the very serious step of amending the Constitution. The amendment would not bar or condemn homosexuality, which is the real issue here, but merely turn marriage into a version of a restricted club: Gays need not apply.

Just about everyone agrees that Bush is securing his conservative base before the general election. This makes political sense, but it also represents moral cowardice.... But he knows -- at least he ought to know -- that some of the movement he is appealing to is motivated by homophobia, by prejudice and that in this, as in all such cases, hatred is hard to contain.

I am thinking now of Harry S. Truman, who thought he could appease the forces of a nascent McCarthyism by instituting a government loyalty program. All he did, though, was encourage anti-communist zealots in their abuse of civil liberties. Truman played politics with fanatics and it didn't work. Too often moderation is seen as weakness.

Bush is attempting something similar. But true homophobes can see through him: Why allow civil unions? They have taken the measure of the man and bullied him into using the weight of his office to restrict the rights of a minority. The grave crisis that Bush would heal by trivializing the Constitution simply does not exist. This self-proclaimed war president looks awfully weak on this issue, a political opportunist who would rather be president than be right. The real crisis is one of conscience. It overwhelmed Bush.

What a fabulous leader!

"Dean" Broder on how Nader will help Bush 

In WaPo here:

Nader has claimed in interviews that his candidacy opens "a second front" against Bush and would appeal greatly to disillusioned conservatives and Republicans. That is malarkey. Republican pollster Bill McInturff surveyed likely voters last month and found that the subgroups most prone to consider voting for Nader were "younger white men, liberals and Democrats, particularly in the mid-Atlantic and Pacific regions," the Democratic heartland. "This data makes it clear that Nader's entry into the presidential race will have no impact on Republican or Bush voters," he wrote.

If you assume, as most Republicans and Democrats I've interviewed do, that Bush prefers as few debates as possible this year, Nader's candidacy gives Bush a great card to play. Whoever the sponsor, Bush as the incumbent can bargain for Nader's inclusion -- or use the issue of Nader's role to delay negotiations and reduce the number of debates that can be scheduled.

With friends like these ....

Guess I'd better brush up on those manicurist skills! 


Technology companies are seeing a rebound in business, but top executives this week said any jobs added to meet growing demand will likely be in countries where labor is cheaper than the United States.

U.S. technology employment fell 4 percent last year to just below 6 million, the American Electronics Association estimates, the lowest level since 1999. The unemployment rate for electrical and electronics engineers rose to a record 6.2 percent, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers said.

The hell with 'em. They're either from Blue States or gay.

Consumer sentiment tanking 


U.S. consumer sentiment fell sharply in February, as Americans turned cautious about the U.S. economy that has been hampered by sluggish jobs growth, according to a survey released on Friday.

The numbers on "the economy" look good, but whenever people look to their own lives or talk to their neighbors, things don't look so good. I wonder why?

Arizona: OK Corral for Democrats and wingers? 

Sidney Blumenthal in the Guardian here:

When Goldwater observed the right trying to use government to enforce private morality, he spoke up for women's right to abortion and gay rights. His wife insisted that his convictions had remained unaltered, but that the movement for which he was the avatar had become warped. "[Goldwater] hated it that the rightwing zealots took over the party," she said.

Perhaps widow Goldwater speaks for a man who can no longer speak for himself. But it is inarguable that it's Arizona - bastion of conservatism - along with the other southwest states of New Mexico and Nevada which are, far more than those of the deep south, the battlegrounds in the forthcoming presidential election. For they may vote Democrat.

The Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, told me: "Yes, we can win Arizona." Napolitano is a former Clinton appointee as US attorney and was elected Arizona's attorney general; young, energetic and politically adroit. The contradictions of conservatism that have led to her becoming governor are now widening. ...

[T]he Arizona state legislature is led by the draconian speaker Jake Flake. When one moderate Republican representative voted for the governor's programme for basic children's services, he was stripped of his committee chairmanship. The conservatives at the statehouse are known as the "Kool-Aid Drinkers", after the religious cultists who committed mass suicide, while the few remaining moderate Republicans call themselves the "Mushroom Coalition" - kept in the dark and covered with excrement.

Napolitano suggests that the Republican right's one-party arbitrary power in government and authoritarianism toward women and minorities is an appeal to the independent streak among Arizonans that can only favour the Democratic candidate. The same sentiment that once created Goldwater now supports the Republican maverick John McCain, who holds Goldwater's seat in the US Senate. And it could flow in new directions that Goldwater himself may have anticipated. In his old age, he continued to play the prophet. Will Goldwater's legacy of liberty turn on Bush, who is campaigning as its fulfilment? In this Tombstone, Bush may find himself at the wrong end of the OK Corral.

The 5:00 horror 

5:00PM Friday is when the malAdministration releases any information it really, really wants to bury.

I wonder what will happen at 5:00 today? Readers, any takers?

UPDATE From alert reader TheDad:

Washington DC(AP)-At 5 PM today the Bush Administration announced that a list of "Preferred Providers" to the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign will be unobtrusively rounded up for internment into special "hardened undisclosed locations" in anticipation of a scheduled "high-atmospheric event." The event is to be provoked by an extinction-grade asteroid plowing into the atmosphere over Massachusetts on Sunday. The asteroid is expected to harmlessly disintegrate before reaching the core of the planet, and all residents of other states and countries have no reason for concern, Scott McClellan said, reassuring three startled and confused reporters still hanging around the White House late Friday.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Senate Intelligence Panel approves extension of 9/11 commission 


The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday approved a two-month extension for the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but the legislation faced an uphill battle because the leader of the House of Representatives opposes it.

Damn. I guess since Hastert opposed it, we're out of luck. Damn. And Bush wanted that report so badly! What a shame.

From substitute gym teacher to B-list celebrity 

The mysterious Atrios!

Actually, I shouldn't be snarky. Atrios is not only a huge force for good in the blogosphere, he very generally gave all of us our start.

And if James Madison can write the Federalist Papers under a pseudonym, Atrios can stay anonymous as long as he wants.

UPDATE Of course I meant Atrios gave us our start "very generally." One of the things that distinguishes Atrios's blog is the breadth of its coverage, which is very general, and, uh .... Oh, heck, Yes, I meant "generously." —Lambert


The Chief Weasel here:

BUSH: Well, Jordan (ph), you're not going to believe what state I was in when I heard about the terrorist attack. I was in Florida. And my chief of staff, Andy Card -- actually I was in a classroom talking about a reading program that works. And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower -- the TV was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, "There's one terrible pilot." And I said, "It must have been a horrible accident."






(Thanks to alert reader aReader).

"It depends on what the meaning of 'shame' is." 

Obviously, our "President" doesn't know.

The Hill (via Pandagon).

“Or, and this is a real possibility, we could see President Bush giving his acceptance speech at Ground Zero,” [the source, a veteran official of past GOP conventions], added. “It’s clearly a venue they’re considering.”

I've thought, and still think, that New Yorkers should form a human chain around Ground Zero to protect it from this nonsense. Nice photo op, eh?

Our CEO President: "That's some bad pilot." 

Gail Sheehy in the New York Observer here via Atrios:

The politically divided 9/11 commission was able to agree on a public airing of four and a half minutes from the Betty Ong tape, which the American public and most of the victims’ families heard for the first time on the evening news of Jan. 27. But commissioners were unaware of the crucial information given in an even more revealing phone call, made by another heroic flight attendant on the same plane, Madeline (Amy) Sweeney. They were unaware because their chief of staff, Philip Zelikow, chooses which evidence and witnesses to bring to their attention. Mr. Zelikow, as a former adviser to the pre-9/11 Bush administration, has a blatant conflict.

"My wife’s call was the first specific information the airline and the government got that day," said Mike Sweeney, the widowed husband of Amy Sweeney, who went face to face with the hijackers on Flight 11. [Amy Sweeney] gave seat locations and physical descriptions of the hijackers, which allowed officials to identify them as Middle Eastern men—by name—even before the first crash. ....

American’s Flight 11 took off from Logan Airport in Boston at 7:59 a.m. By 8:14 a.m., the F.A.A. controller following that flight from a facility in Nashua, N.H., already knew it was missing; its transponder had been turned off, and the controller couldn’t get a response from the pilots. The air-traffic controller contacted the pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, which at 8:14 also left Boston’s Logan bound for California, and asked for his help in locating Flight 11.

Sweeney slid into a passenger seat in the next-to-last row of coach and used an Airfone to call American Airlines Flight Service at Boston’s Logan airport. "This is Amy Sweeney," she reported. "I’m on Flight 11—this plane has been hijacked." She was disconnected. She called back: "Listen to me, and listen to me very carefully." Within seconds, her befuddled respondent was replaced by a voice she knew.

"Amy, this is Michael Woodward." The American Airlines flight service manager had been friends with Sweeney for a decade, so he didn’t have to waste any time verifying that this wasn’t a hoax. "Michael, this plane has been hijacked," Ms. Sweeney repeated. Calmly, she gave him the seat locations of three of the hijackers: 9D, 9G and 10B. She said they were all of Middle Eastern descent, and one spoke English very well.

Mr. Woodward ordered a colleague to punch up those seat locations on the computer. At least 20 minutes before the plane crashed, the airline had the names, addresses, phone numbers and credit cards of three of the five hijackers. They knew that 9G was Abdulaziz al-Omari, 10B was Satam al-Suqami, and 9D was Mohamed Atta—the ringleader of the 9/11 terrorists.

"The nightmare began before the first plane crashed," said Mike Sweeney, "because once my wife gave the seat numbers of the hijackers and Michael Woodward pulled up the passenger information, Mohamed Atta’s name was out there. They had to know what they were up against."

"So sometime between 8:30 and 8:46, American must have known that the hijacking was connected to Al Qaeda," said Mike Sweeney. That would be 16 to 32 minutes before the second plane perforated the south tower. ...

The timeline that is most disturbing belongs to the last of the four suicide missions—United Airlines Flight 93, later presumed destined for the U.S. Capitol, if not the White House. Huge discrepancies persist in basic facts, such as when it crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside near Shanksville. The official impact time according to NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command, is 10:03 a.m. Later, U.S. Army seismograph data gave the impact time as 10:06:05. The F.A.A. gives a crash time of 10:07 a.m. And The New York Times, drawing on flight controllers in more than one F.A.A. facility, put the time at 10:10 a.m.

Up to a seven-minute discrepancy? In terms of an air disaster, seven minutes is close to an eternity. The way our nation has historically treated any airline tragedy is to pair up recordings from the cockpit and air-traffic control and parse the timeline down to the hundredths of a second. But as Mary Schiavo points out, "We don’t have an NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation here, and they ordinarily dissect the timeline to the thousandth of a second."

Even more curious: The F.A.A. states that it established an open phone line with NORAD to discuss both American Airlines Flight 77 (headed for the Pentagon) and United’s Flight 93. If true, NORAD had as many as 50 minutes to order fighter jets to intercept Flight 93 in its path toward Washington, D.C. But NORAD’s official timeline claims that F.A.A. notification to NORAD on United Airlines Flight 93 is "not available." Why isn’t it available?

"Whether or not my husband’s plane was shot down," the widowed Mrs. Homer said, "the most angering part is reading about how the President handled this."

Mr. Bush was notified 14 minutes after the first attack, at 9 a.m., when he arrived at an elementary school in Sarasota, Fla. He went into a private room and spoke by phone with his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, and glanced at a TV in the room. Mrs. Homer’s soft voice curdles when she describes his reaction: "I can’t get over what Bush said when he was called about the first plane hitting the tower: ‘That’s some bad pilot.’ Why did people on the street assume right away it was a terrorist hijacking, but our President didn’t know? Why did it take so long to ground all civilian aircraft? In the time between when my husband’s plane took off [at 8:41 a.m.] and when the second plane hit in New York [9:02 a.m.], they could have turned back to airfield.",

Read the the whole thing. Funny thing, though—it's the New York Observer, not the New York Times. I wonder why?

Gosh, we wouldn't want to politicize this, or anything, would we? Or... Could it be... It's already politicized?

And how long are the families going to put up with the shit the WhiteWash House is trying to pull?

Everything Old Is New Again 

Check out this terrific post at Echidne Of The Snakes which gives us the lowdown, and we do mean lowdown, on yet another female writer, Caitlin Flanagan, whose anti-feminist stance is bringing her fame and fortune.

She's the newest staff writer of the venerable New Yorker, one of such literary talents that her fuzzy thinking and careless ways with evidence are quite forgiven by the East Coast Literary Establishment. What would they not forgive for a brilliant writer who is a woman (a definite boost for the affirmative action lefties) and a feminist-basher (an equal bonus for the life-is-a-jungle-and-home-its-refuge righties)? Now the intelligentsia can have their very own Dr. Laura, a woman who tells how it is, puts the blame squarely where it belongs, and suffers no emotional nonsense. Flanagan sees her role at the New Yorker as the insightful critic of the modern family life, a sort of hybrid of Mary McCarthy and Erma Bombeck.

Echidne's flaying of Ms. Flanagan's ouevre is as smart and well-deserved a drubbing as I've seen anywhere. If you've ever found yourself wondering why Nick Kristof is so comfortable denigrating "feminists," this post will go a long way to explaining how things are in what is supposed to be a liberal mainstream and no longer is.

There are links to Ms. Flanagan's work in the post, but the mention of Caitlin as a better written Dr. Laura makes linking to this reivew by Flanagan of one of Dr. Laura's own books irresistible.

COMMENT by lambert: The odd thing is, that if you read Flanagan's summary of Dr. Laura's views, it seems that Dr. Laura would buy into the notion that a real Defense of Marriage Amendment would outlaw or at least deeply discourage divorce. Extremes meet, don't they? Of course, I don't say that Dr. Laura takes this view, but logic would seem to impel her to do so. Who knows? If such an amendment had been in place, Gingrich would never have made it to power!

"If guns are outlawed, only CEOs will have guns" 

Normally, I try to stay away from the gun control issue (Dean got that one right, in my book) but this is just too rich to pass up:

The new chairman of the board of Smith & Wesson's parent company resigned following reports that he committed a string of armed robberies in the 1950s and 1960s.

Why is it that reality is looking more and more like satire every day?

What's old is new again. 

"...in these days of so-called Republican prosperity..."

"It was borrowed time anyway-the whole upper tenth of a nation living with the insouciance of a grand duc and the casualness of chorus girls." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

During the presidencies of Harding and Coolidge in the twenties, the Secretary of the Treasury was Andrew Mellon, one of the richest men in America. 1923, Congress was presented with the "Mellon Plan," calling for what looked like a general reduction of income taxes, except that the top income brackets would have their tax rates lowered from 50 percent to 25 percent, while the lowest-income group would have theirs lowered from 4 percent to 3 percent. A few Congressmen from working-class districts spoke against the bill, like William P. Connery of Massachusetts.

I am not going to have my people who work in the shoe factories of Lynn and in the mills in Lawrence and the leather industry of Peabody, in these days of so-called Republican prosperity when they are working but three days in the week think that I am in accord with the provisions of this bill. ...When I see a provision in the Mellon tax bill which is going to save Mr. Mellon himself $800,000 on his income tax and his brother $600,000 on his, I cannot give it my support.

The Mellon Plan passed.
[Zinn, People's History of US, pg. 375-376]

Sounds familiar.

"It was, in fact, only the upper ten percent of the population that enjoyed a marked increase in real income. But the protests which such facts normally have evoked could not make themselves widely or effectively felt. This was in part the result of the grand strategy of the major political parties. In part it was the result of the fact that almost all the chief avenues to mass opinion were now controlled by large-scale publishing industries." ~ Historian Merle Curti [Zinn, People's History of US, pg. 374]

Again, sounds familiar. The institution of marriage was also apparently in grave danger in 1928. And of course as we all now know today it is nearly an extinct institution thanks to all them dern furiners. Leave it up to the homosexuals to dive in and finish it off. The Volstead Act was of course a great success. We should bring that back. Yup. The mind of the conservative. Great ideas that stand the test of time.

The following appears in a fundraising/promotional notice distributed by the Loyal Legion of American Mothers in 1928.

LLAM notice ~ 1928 / as follows...


1. Supports the sanctity of the Volstead act, the President, the Holy Bible and patriotism.
2. Supports the purification of the American girl and idealism.
3. Opposes the marriage of Americans and foreigners and insidious propaganda.
4. Opposes all entangling alliances between the races.

National Headquarters and Reference Bureau
Bethany Building, Washington D.C.
President - Mrs Gutherie Willis Watson, A.B.
1000 Chapters Nationwide.


9/11 panel starting to melt down 

Some ugly details.

Hastert says his mind is made up not to give the panel the extension even the WhiteWash House agrees it should have (I guess Bush wants Hastert to play Bad Cop and do his dirty work for him in an election year) ... Hastert says he doesn't want the report to become a "political football"—chutzpah!

Condi-lie-za says she'd prefer not to testify in public, and the panel rolls over ...

Bush says he'll visit with the Commission, but will only talk to the chairs (i.e., not the the families) ....

It's getting farcical fast. Why do the families stand for it? And why do the Democrats on the panel?

Rosie O'Donnell to wed 

Media firestorm to ensue. CNN.

Please refer the Anti-Marriage for Gays Amendment to the Department for Changing the Subject 

Along with going to Mars, and other "Look! Over there!" tactics.

Since apparently aWol forgot to count the votes before fluffing the base.

What a shame!

As it turns out, 8 Republicans would vote against. Guess I have to give up generic abuse of Republicans, since Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe among others are taking the principled, constitutional route. (Wouldn't they be more comfortable crossing the aisle to get away from the wingers?)

Do we really want the Constitution defining "sacred institutions"? 

Scott "Sucker MC" seems to think so, as does his master (via TBogg).

Administration heaves Perle over the side 

It's an election year (via Atrios).

Lucky duckies! 


More than 2,400 employers across the country reported laying off 50 or more workers in January, the third-highest number of so-called mass layoffs since the government became tracking them a decade ago.

Only in December 2000 and December 2002 were the number of large layoffs higher. A total of 239,454 workers lost their jobs in the January layoffs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday, based on unemployment insurance claims filed with state employment agencies. Among them were 17,544 temporary workers.

The total jobs lost in January was the most since November 2002, when 240,171 workers were let go in groups of 50 or more. Manufacturing workers, particularly in transportation, food processing and retail jobs, were hardest hit. The large layoffs also included 10,876 government workers, most at the state and local levels.

The administration tried in late 2002 to cease publication of the mass layoff report, citing its cost. But Congress restored funding after state officials complained.

Typical Bush approach—never recognize a problem: cook the books and deny it!

"California has continued to lose jobs in recent months," including food-processing, film production and education jobs lost to budget cuts, said Howard Roth, chief economist for the California Department of Finance. "[California's] labor market is not showing any signs of improving."

But don't worry! The Arnis™ is going to deliver California anyhow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Jesus Is My Sponsor 

Remember how sick we were all were of Hollywood celebrities with their idiot opinions being treated by the fawning liberal media like they had some kind of expertise worth sharing? Well, at least our tax dollars weren't paying for Sean Penn's opinions about Iraq. Not so NASCAR hotshot Michael Waltrip, who holds forth on spritual matters and NASCAR--assuming you make the distinction--over at the White House website. I particularly like this pearl of wisdom:
What do you think of Bobby Labonte promoting the Passion of the Christ on his car?

Michael Waltrip
I think it is great. I’m a Christian and when I look up and see clouds and Christ’s name on his hood – it takes me to a happy place.

I’m really glad that we have the ability to make decisions like that that are obviously influential in a positive way on lots of people.

Yeah, just in case there's anyone with an IQ in double digits who hasn't figured out the farrago of backwater superstition, preening hypocrisy, inch-deep spirituality, and all-around yahooism that is American fundamentalism, I'd say that hawking one's Savior alongside STP and Unocal is a good way to clear up any confusion. Using Him to pimp the election prospects of a lying coward with no discernible compassion for anyone is just icing on the cake.
Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through all trials and tribulations,
We will travel every nation,
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far.

Let's play fill in the blank! 

Classical scholar Victor Hansen in the LA Times here:

We haven't had enemies this antithetical to the United States in a long, long time," Hanson said several days later over coffee in San Francisco, where he was a guest speaker at the Commonwealth Club. "Take your pick of the Western agenda. Women's rights? They want to go back to the Dark Ages. Homosexual rights? They want to kill them. Democracy? They don't believe in it. Religious tolerance? You're dead if you're not a _________. ...."


Wouldn't "anti-marriage for gay people" be a lot less Orwellian than "defense of marriage"? 

Just asking.

Since I still don't understand what it is, exactly, that's being defended.

Why is it that, when John, married to Mary, commits adultery with Marie, marriage doesn't need to be defended, but when Jules wants to marry Jim, it does?

So why won't the SCLM give Kerry the same pass they give Bush? 

Nice column by EJ Dionne:

When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."

That was George W. Bush's brilliant dodge throughout the 2000 campaign whenever questions came up as to how he behaved during his twenties and early thirties.

Which makes you ask: If Kerry's twenties and early thirties are destined to be an issue in this campaign, is it fair for the media to give the same years in Bush's life a pass just because he's the incumbent? To paraphrase John Edwards, will we have two standards, one for a Democratic challenger and one for a Republican president?

Gee, I don't know! And wait for the shitstorm, while Bush does his "likeable" schtick:

The template is what Bush's campaign did to Sen. John McCain, another Vietnam hero, in South Carolina during the 2000 Republican primaries.

If the past is any guide, it's better to force Bush to take responsibility for his whole campaign, overt and not-so-overt, than to let him float above it all while his surrogates slash and burn. Just ask John McCain.

Of course, we all know Bush turns vicious when cornered. Now that he's started playing vicious with the anti-marriage for gay people amendment, we know we've got him cornered. It's early for that, so let's keep up the good work!

At urging of WhiteWash House, Rebublicans vote to suppress Plame investigation today 

Josh Marshall.

New meme: "haterade" 

As in, "one swig too many of the haterade". Nice one, Mr. Willis!

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger 

Kos makes the following excellent point:

The GOP wants to unload on our nominee. They've been waiting for the chance to use that $200 million (or whatever) warchest to define our candidate right out of the starting gate.

But they haven't been able to do so. We don't have a nominee. So that puts them in a quandry. They can start going after Kerry, or frontrunner, but if they hit him too hard they could damage him irreparably, helping Edwards take out Kerry in the upcoming primaries. Rove could very well end up doing Edwards' dirty work, and spending precious dollars doing so.

Same deal on the SCLM. When Dean was the front runner, they could focus on taking him out. But with the mega-corporations forcing newsroom cuts, they don't have the bench strength to take out two candidates at the same time.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger 

Kos makes the following excellent point:

The GOP wants to unload on our nominee. They've been waiting for the chance to use that $200 million (or whatever) warchest to define our candidate right out of the starting gate.

But they haven't been able to do so. We don't have a nominee. So that puts them in a quandry. They can start going after Kerry, or frontrunner, but if they hit him too hard they could damage him irreparably, helping Edwards take out Kerry in the upcoming primaries. Rove could very well end up doing Edwards' dirty work, and spending precious dollars doing so.

Same deal on the SCLM. When Dean was the front runner, they could focus on taking him out. But with the mega-corporations forcing newsroom cuts, they don't have the bench strength to take out two candidates at the same time.

The "independent" Fed? Don't make me laugh! 

Because it hurts too much. AP:

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan urged Congress on Wednesday to deal with the country's escalating budget deficit by cutting benefits for future Social Security retirees. Without action, he warned, long-term interest rates would rise, seriously harming the economy.

Hey, remember when we had surplusses as far as the eye could see? Shows the wisdom of electing a President, I guess.... Since the President then has at least some incentive to take care of the people's money....

He said the prospect of the retirement of 77 million baby boomers will radically change the mix of people working and paying into the Social Security retirement fund and those drawing benefits from the fund.

"This dramatic demographic change is certain to place enormous demands on our nation's resources - demands we will almost surely be unable to meet unless action is taken," Greenspan said. "For a variety of reasons, that action is better taken as soon as possible."

That's why, ten years ago, we raised payroll taxes to deal with this. Foolishly, we left the money in the general fund. Nobody imagined that Bush would piss it away with tax cuts for the uber-rich, but that's what happened.

President Bush said he had not seen Greenspan's comments, nor spoken to him...

Two minds with but a single thought—more commissions for Wall Street brokers! It's beautiful! (sniff)

The parable of the woman caught in adultery 

This is one of my favorite parables. From the etext of the King James version at the University of Virginia, John 8:3-11:

[3] And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
[4] They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
[5] Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
[6] This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
[7] So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
[8] And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
[9] And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
[10] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
[11] She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

"Beginning at the eldest..."

Somehow I think that whatever it was that Jesus was writing on the ground, it wasn't the text of a constitutional amendment, let alone the anti-gay marriage amendment.

Proposal: The Defense of Good Amendment 

Yep, the more I think about it, the better I like it! Why think small? Here's the wording I propose:

Evil in the United States shall consist of the absence of good. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that the status of goodness or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon the evil.

There! That should do it!

And if you have any question about what evil is, or where to find evil people, just ask the wingers! They'll be more than happy to tell you!

Can you lose your job because of your religion? 

At an institution funded by your tax dollars? Not in American, you say?

Think again. Isvestia on the Hudson buries this one in the regional section:

Eighteen former and current employees from the social services arm of the Salvation Army sued the organization in federal court yesterday, accusing it of imposing a religious veil over secular, publicly financed activities like caring for foster children and counseling young people with AIDS.

The plaintiffs charged that the Army's New York division tried forcing them to sign forms revealing the churches they had attended over the past 10 years, name their ministers and agree to the Army's mission "to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

"I was harassed to the point where eventually I resigned," said Margaret Geissman, a former human resources manager who said her superior asked for the religions and sexual orientation of her staff. "As a Christian, I deeply resent the use of discriminatory employment practices in the name of Christianity."

The plaintiffs' lawyers argue that while churches are allowed to exclude nonbelievers in their own activities, the law forbids them to do so in publicly financed programs in which churches effectively become arms of the government.

"It's critical at this stage of the game to put a stop to proselytizing with government money," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

When will the SCLM stop giving a free ride to these zealots by calling them "Christians," as if they somehow spoke for all Christians?

Oh, please 

Pravda on the Potomac's front page teaser: "President reluctantly enters culture wars." Story here.

Well, since the people who own Bush are the ones funding and fighting the culture war, what's he reluctant about?

"Reluctance should be made of sterner stuff."

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Say, why don't we amend the Constitution to ban evil? 

Yeah, that's the ticket! Ban evil...

Republicans! Make your own thought screen helmets! 


So you aren't troubled by thoughts of, well, man on dog... And so forth ....

Republican "defenders" of marriage: What about that constitutional amendment on divorce? We're waiting 

From the Indianapolis Star here (via alert reader MSJ):

Claiming divorce -- not same-sex unions -- is undermining the sanctity of marriage, a group of gay Democrats on Monday asked state GOP Chairman Jim Kittle to identify Republican legislators who have been divorced.

The request comes as House Republicans are attempting to force a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The amendment -- which Republicans last week called "the most important issue we're dealing with this session" -- was approved by the Senate but has been stalled in the House by Democratic leadership.

"We think it is fair to ask during this debate how many legislators who are demonizing gay marriage have actually committed the most grievous possible injury to the institution they claim to want to protect," said Linda Perdue, president of the Indiana Stonewall Democrats.

The political action committee, which works to elect gay and gay-friendly candidates to public office, also asked Kittle to release the marital histories of the party's two candidates for governor, Mitch Daniels and Eric Miller -- and their stands on a proposed constitutional ban.

"We will not be issuing a response to this," Kim Preston, press secretary for the Indiana Republican Party, told The Indianapolis Star.

Well, no. I wouldn't have bet on it anyhow.

Say, wasn't Gingrich the guy who served his first wife with divorce papers while she was in a hospital bed recovering from a cancer operation?

Defenders of marriage, my Aunt Fanny.

When WorldViews Collide 

Jim at The Rittenhouse Review has good news; he, and therefore, his blog will remain in Philly. I'll let Jim explain the rest.

If you haven't visited there in a while, he has lots of stuff up; I especially like his visual interpretation of which terrorism alert level we're all to maintain on any given day.

One of Jim's posts from Sunday, and well worth reading on its own, caught the unpleasant attention of John Cole, who proceeded to offer Virginia Postrel protection she doesn't seem to need, while throwing a few wild punchs Jim's way, as did most of his commentators.

This caught the attention of Ezra at Pandagon, who argued back at Cole, who then argued back at Ezra, mostly about John's assessment of what Jim's been doing at his blog, altogether a spirited exchange that tugs a bit at the outer edges of civilitty, with an unfortunate intrusion of genuinely stupid incivility by one of Ezra's readers.

Since Postrel's article, which is as foolish and dishonest, (though no doubt sincere)as Jim says it is, was published in the Sunday NYTimes Magazine, it's worth paying attention to, since it will undoubtedly have an influence on discussions of how to assess unemployment and the job vitality of the economy far beyond the intrinsic worth of her arguments.

So don't miss this post by Michael Berube, which renders Ms. Postrel in a shorter, funnier version, which then leads to a Postrel Postscript that discusses Professor Berube's previous discourse with Postrel on the subject of cloning and disability.

If you haven't yet discovered Michael Berube, go immediately to his blog and do so; there's also a list of his articles there, many of which are available on line. During the nineties, when almost every big name in the print and electronic media was discovering the evils of political correctness dug up by the entirely too well organized, by that time, right wing in this country, Berube's articles, passionate, erudite, witty, were among the few effectively challenging what was becoming a new orthodoxy of political incorrectness. And if you want to understand how we got from there to Geroge W, Berube's book, PUBLIC ACCESS, "Literary theory and American Cultural Politics," which can be found here, is truly a must read.

His book about his and his wife's experience with Down's Syndrome, "Life As We Know, A Father, a Family, and An Exceptional Child," is also wonderful.

Say, what legal penalties are the wingers recommending for the 3000 gay couples who did get married? 

Yeah, and the ones in the future, too.

Just asking.

Public stoning? Jail time? Just a fine? Ostracism? Exile?

Obviously, any enabling legislation for the anti-gay amendment would have to consider these points; so I'm wondering what the "rule of law" crowd has to say.

Say, if the "activist judges" in Bush v. Gore were OK in what they did, what's wrong with "activist judges"? 

Just asking.

Think the anti-gay marriage amendment is a bad idea? 

Drop Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter and campaign manager Mary Cheney a line.

The other boot drops 

Right into the gutter.


Bush: Cooking the books on the economy 

Dan Milbank of WaPo writes:

Two years ago, the administration forecast that there would be 3.4 million more jobs in 2003 than there were in 2000. And it predicted a budget deficit for fiscal 2004 of $14 billion. The economy ended up losing 1.7 million jobs over that period, and the budget deficit for this year is on course to be $521 billion.

These are not isolated cases. Over three years, the administration has repeatedly and significantly overstated the government's fiscal health and the number of jobs the economy would create, but economists and politicians disagree about why.

Readers, can you help Dana out?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Bush AWOL: Racicot says Bush volunteered for VietNam, but Bush himself says No 

Josh Marshall nails him; here too).

Even Bush didn't think we'd fall for that one!

I don't have any problem with elephants—just the mess that they leave behind ....

The revolution begins to eat its own children 

Orinn Hatch.

And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

And that's the way it is... 

In our own Inky, Walter Cronkite writes:

Whatever the unlikelihood of its more drastic fears coming to pass - or of it ever successfully legislating moral behavior - the conservative Christian right is entitled to its beliefs and to its determined pursuit to criminalize same-sex marriage. Our constitutional guarantees freedom of speech, press and religion, after all.

There are many of us Christians who recall our Sunday-school teachers and later our ministers dwelling upon the sympathy and respect - indeed, the tolerance - for others that, they taught, was basic to our Christian religion. As the prophet Isaiah summed up this need for tolerance: "Come, let us reason together."

We who believe this are compelled to ask: Where is the tolerance, where is the Christian spirit in the effort to criminalize the personal choices of our fellow citizens, personal choices that do not physically threaten others? Where is the Christian tolerance in the conceit of those Christian leaders who dare suggest that they alone can be trusted to properly interpret the lessons of their Bible, and who would impose that belief on this nation's highly diverse peoples by threatening to throw them in jail if they don't agree with the Christian right's version of God's wishes?

Besides wishing to criminalize individual behavior, the more radical members of the Christian right would like their proposed federal law to dictate what individual churches could do in regard to recognizing or performing same-sex marriages. This is another abomination. Shouldn't that decision be made by the individual church or denomination? What possible excuse is there for government intervention in this decision except an unreasonable, unchristian intolerance for freedom of worship?

Where is the Christian tolerance in those right-wing Christian leaders who would impose their religious beliefs on the entire diverse population of the United States, even to the extent of a Constitutional amendment curtailing our rights of religious freedom?

As the conservative Christian leadership presses this matter, which they depict as a moral issue, they threaten a religious war that will split our nation at a time when unity would be helpful in attacking far more critical problems - our foreign policy, the economy, education, medical care and the environment, to name a few.

In the difficult days ahead, the tolerant among us - Republican, Democratic or Independent, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or nonbeliever - are going to have to try to preach another morality, and that is the morality of tolerance.

Paradoxical, I suppose, to be angry at intolerance?

Theocracy, anyone? 

Orcinus here (via Atrios).

Christian Reconstructionism... The dark matter of American politics... And say, I thought Zell Miller was a Democrat. Oh well...

Froomkin gives RexBlog another pop 


(back, original).

"Forgive my skepticism."™ We report, you decide...

Bush: Competition is only good if my contributors win 


The Bush administration has rejected a plan by Michigan and Vermont to jointly negotiate lower prescription drug prices from pharmaceutical companies, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Monday.

$5 into your front pocket, $10 out of your back pocket....

Universal , single-payer health care lethal to healthier for Canadians 

But it's too good for us, apparently. Here:

An impressive array of data shows that Canadians live longer, healthier lives than we do. What's more, they pay roughly half as much per capita as we do ($2,163 versus $4,887 in 2001) for the privilege.

By all measures, Canadians' health is better," says Dr. Barbara Starfield, a university distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Canadians "do better on a whole variety of health outcomes," she says, including life expectancy at various ages.

According to a World Health Organization report published in 2003, life expectancy at birth in Canada is 79.8 years, versus 77.3 in the U.S. (Japan's is 81.9.)

So, if you want two years hacked off your lifespan, stay with our current, wacky system.

Howie the Whore rates SCLM quality of service low 


A look at the scorecard reveals how the press kept getting faked out.

Assuming that the service the SCLM provides is reporting the news, that is.

Bush "Base" - Some Not So Beguiled As Before 

Republicans believe Bush administration "dishonest".
Republicans "really disgusted" and "dissatisfied". - "don't even want to hear the name George Bush anymore." Believe Bush is "...just taking care of his rich buddies..."

Below excerpts from: Disenchanted ... Crossing Over


BEACHWOOD, Ohio — In the 2000 presidential election, Bill Flanagan a semiretired newspaper worker, happily voted for George W. Bush. But now, shaking his head, he vows, "Never again."

"The combination of lies and boys coming home in body bags is just too awful," Mr. Flanagan said, drinking coffee and reading newspapers at the local mall. " I could vote for Kerry.


In the interviews, many of those potential "crossover" voters said they supported the invasion of Iraq but had come to see the continuing involvement there as too costly and without clear objectives.

Many also said they believed that the Bush administration had not been honest about its reasons for invading Iraq and were concerned about the failure to find unconventional weapons. Some of these people described themselves as fiscal conservatives who were alarmed by deficit spending, combined with job losses at home.


While sharing a sandwich at the stylish Beachwood Mall in this Cleveland suburb, one older couple — a judge and a teacher — reluctantly divulged their secret: though they are stalwarts in the local Republican Party, they are planning to vote Democratic this year. [...] "...we are really disgusted. It's the lies, the war, the economy. We have very good friends who are staunch Republicans, who don't even want to hear the name George Bush anymore."


George Meagher, a Republican who founded and now runs the American Military Museum in Charleston, S.C., said... [...] "Given the outcome and how dissatisfied I am with the administration, it's hard to think about now," [...] "People like me, we're all choking a bit at not supporting the president. But when I think about 500 people killed and what we've done to Iraq. And what we've done to our country. I mean, we're already $2 trillion in debt again."


John Scarnado, a sales manager from Austin, Tex., who voted for Mr. Bush in 2000, said he would vote for Mr. Kerry if the senator won the Democratic nomination.

"I'm upset about Iraq and the vice president and his affiliation with Halliburton," said Mr. Scarnado, a registered Republican who said that he had not always voted along party lines. [...]

Many of those wavering in their loyalty to Mr. Bush were middle-class voters who said that his tax relief programs had disproportionately helped the wealthy.

"I voted for him, but it seems like he's just taking care of his rich buddies now," said Mike Cross, a farmer from Londonderry, N.H., adding, "I'm not a great fan of John Kerry, but I've had enough of President Bush."


But Matthew Dowd, the Bush campaign's chief strategist, suggested that no one in the White House was worried about Mr. Bush's losing much of his base. He said polls continued to show that the president was enjoying the support of 90 percent of Republicans.

[end snips]

Haha! Matt Dowd - Chief Faith Healer strategist.


"It took me a really long time to get here, but I'm here:"... 

... "Kerry, you're the one."

Well.... Maybe. If he keeps showing some spine.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

DéLay fundraising group subject of criminal inquiry 

That "rule of law" schtick was old when the Republicans were trying to overthrow Clinton's elected government. Now it's really really old.

From the Fort Worth Star Telegram here (via Pandagon)

A national Republican Party official, a former lobbyist and the Weatherford lawmaker who drew the state's new congressional map are among the people ordered to provide records to a grand jury investigating accusations of illegal fund raising, court documents filed Friday show.

The latest wave of subpoenas -- nine in all -- is part of an expanded investigation of 2002 fund raising, which now includes the race for House speaker. That contest produced the first Republican speaker, Tom Craddick of Midland, since Reconstruction.

Besides Craddick, Travis County prosecutors have subpoenaed six state representatives, including Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, who wrote the recent congressional redistricting legislation.

King did not return phone calls Friday seeking comment.

Craddick, state Rep. Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, and state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson, had already confirmed Thursday that they had received subpoenas for records. They said they had done nothing wrong and will comply with the subpoenas.

The new subpoenas were made public in court filings Friday.

The other representatives, all Republicans, are Beverly Woolley of Houston, Dianne White Delisi of Temple and Mike Krusee of Taylor.

The investigation has centered on the use of restricted corporate "soft money" by the Texas Association of Business and the Texans for the Republican Majority Political Action Committee, a group co-founded by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom ["Frenchy"] DéLay, who spearheaded the unusually aggressive 2003 congressional redistricting effort.

A violation of the sometimes complicated restrictions on corporate money is a felony offense.

I like "unusually aggressive," though I would say something more along the lines of "spearheaded the consolidation of the Republican coup in 2000 by gerrymandering the state of Texas." But that's just me.

Sure, I'd like to give Dave Brooks a manicure 

Since the Times seems to think poor folks giving, uh, personal services to millionaires is the wave of the future for the American economy... Where the jobs are, and all that... Rittenhouse Review has more.

And do the right thing and click the PayPal button, too. It hasn't been easy for Jim Cappozola lately.

Say, how's that WhiteWash House criminal investigation going? 

It's a bird .... It's a Plame .... Josh Marshall has some questions for Scott "Sucker MC" McClellan.

Be afraid... Be very afraid... 


[Bush] has been saying on the fund-raising circuit he has been just "loosening up" for the campaign season. But the speech at the [Republican Governors Association] reception will make it clear that he thinks the time for aggressive campaigning is now.

What, are they going to market another war? It sure worked in 2002, and $100 million buys a lot...

Polling as social signalling, and how that affected Dean 

Interesting article from Clay Shirkey at Many-to-Many.

The question pollsters want respondents to hear is “If you were to regard this poll question as your vote, who do you favor?” It may be that decades ago, in an age where polls were rare and respect for authority was reflexive, respondents tried their best to answer that question. Today, however, is different. Today respondents hear “Knowing that this question is not binding, and that it will be a signal to people who want to make decisions based on your answer, and understanding that if you say ‘Not sure’ you are largely nullifying your ability to send such a signal, who are you going to tell me you favor?”

Because polling is not the same as voting, and because the voters didn’t know much about Dean other than that he stood for “the Democratic wing of the Democratic party”, he may have been the ideal way of surfacing the issues and strategies the voter’s would respond to, while committing them to no particular candidate.


Pentagon "yoda" commissions secret report on climate change 

And it concludes that Bush is full of it. Surprise! (via CalPundit)

The report in the Observer is, well, interesting if true:

The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment.

Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

I'm sure this report will be very well received by an administration that put a tax break on SUVs into place.

UPDATE Alert reader Northsylvania directs us to Morris Meyer's web site on this issue (remember that name).

Nader to run 



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