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July 30, 2004
Things You Have To Believe To Be A Republican

Via alert reader Bees-O-Bay -- who reminds us, tangentially, that young, conservative hotshot lawyers can be real dicks.

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

  • Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
  • Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
  • The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
  • A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body,but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
  • Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
  • The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
  • If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.
  • A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
  • Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.
  • HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.
  • Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
  • A president lying about an extramarital affair is a impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
  • Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
  • The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.
  • Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery.
  • You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.
  • What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.
No Cheney For You

Picture this: An elected official, say the Vice President, is speaking in your hometown. This guy is a very highly placed representative of yours, so naturally you'd like to hear what he has to say. Whether you voted for him or not, he's more or less your employee. Imagine also that this particular Vice President is responsible for some pretty serious stuff, like wars and junk.

Seems like you should be able to go, right? I mean, sure, you might need a ticket or something and you can certainly expect a security check at the door, but that's to be expected.

How about a loyalty oath?

Weren't expecting that, were you, Mr. or Mrs. Citizen of Former Democracy?

It's true.

I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States. ...

In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush.

Some New Mexicans aren't too happy about the whole thing:

"I'm outraged at this. I'm being closed off by my own government. It's crazy," said East Mountains resident Pamela Random, who added that she is an unaffiliated voter. John Wade of Albuquerque said he initially signed the endorsement but was having second thoughts before he even left the office. Wade, a Democrat, said he returned his tickets and demanded to get his endorsement form back. "It's not right for me to have to sign an endorsement to hear (Cheney) speak," Wade said. "I'm still pissed. This just ain't right."

No it sure ain't.

If everyone who gets to attend the rally has already endorsed Bush for reelection, what's the point of the rally?

What, I wonder, is the penalty for signing the pledge but then voting for John Kerry? Guantanamo?

Via Holden and Dan Froomkin before him.

July Surprise No Surprise

So last night, right around the time John Kerry was due to give his acceptance speech, Pakistani officials announced the capture of one of the most wanted terrorists on earth, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani.

Hey, wadda ya know? Who would have ever predicted such a wild turn of events, not to mention the incredible timing of the announcement, considering the guy was captured last Sunday.

Oh yeah, everyone would have predicted it.

In case you forgot -- as every media outlet in America seems to have -- The New Republic reported a few weeks ago that the Pakistanis were under enormous pressure to produce so-called High Value Targets right around the Democratic Convention.

The story circulated widely, but now that it has completely come true, nobody is mentioning that it may have been preordained. Look, "Media," it's not a conspiracy theory if it is proven true, ok? At the very least, when things come out exactly as predicted, it's worth a look, don't you think? A mention?

You pansies.

CNN doesn't mention it either.

Josh Marshall has more.

Berger Cleared, Media Doesn't Care

Via pie at Eschaton.

Former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger had been cleared of removing classified documents from the 9/11 Commission's reading room, says a WSJ article, on page 6.

Officials looking into the removal of classified documents from the National Archives by former Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel Berger say no original materials are missing and nothing Mr. Berger reviewed was withheld from the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.


The conclusion by archives officials and others would seem to lay to rest the issue of whether any information was permanently destroyed or withheld from the commission.

Curiously, the major media outlets aren't saying much about this.

Go Johnny Go, or Something

Read the transcript or watch the video here.

Quick analysis, as I'm logy from a basket of freedom fries and about 5 freedom beers:

A very good speech, delivered a bit too fast.

There you go.

Seriously, it was the right speech. Congrats to whomoever or whatever committee wrote it. It was centrist, not Bush-bashing, and all that good stuff.

The problem was that Kerry had obviously been coached to be peppy, and he was too faux-peppy. He rushed it, failing to pause at many great applause lines. Dude, you gotta let the people cheer for you.

Anyway, that won't matter. The substance of the speech was great and it's likely to make it pretty difficult for the Republicans to continue their relentlessly negative campaign, lest they come off... well, negative.

We had an opposum in our yard tonight. I'd never seen one before. It is the only marsupial native to North America and had a funny little tail. We're hoping it hasn't eaten Roo.

July 29, 2004
Farrell Does Bush

Via Political Wire.

Will Farrell resurrects his Bush impression for this ACT parody ad.

Funny, no?

White House: Economy Darn Good, We Think

Don't let headlines like White House to Project Record Deficit fool you, things are going really, really well.

The gargantuan deficit, projected to be $420-450 BILLION, would be almost $100 billion less than the White House themselves predicted last February, and they plan to take credit for having created a "not as largest in history, but still largest in history" deficit.

Well done!

Naturally there is speculation that they purposely overestimated last year so they could take credit for the "savings" they've provided this year. They also are planning to release the information tomorrow, the day after the Democratic Convention ends and a Friday, thus minimizing both media exposure and Democratic criticism. These guys are good!

Oh, and while they're trumpeting their knocking $100 billion off of their original, insanely large estimate of how badly they've fucked up our economy by conducting a war while lowering revenue, keep in mind that this year's deficit so far is 20% larger than the same period last year, according to the Treasury Department.

Hattip- Holden at Eschaton

IRS Says We Po

The I.R.S. says Americans' income shrank for 2 consecutive years.

I know that's certainly true for me. Two years ago, I was making mad bank, then for a year and a half I was making from zero to unemplyment insurance, and now that I have a job again, I'm making basically squat.

Let's do the numbers:
When I went from working for Oxygen to collecting unemployment, my income fell by about 73%. Then when I went from collecting unemployment to running out of unemployment, it fell the remaining 27%, where it stayed for quite some time.

Now that I'm working, my income has increased 100%, but is 60% lower than it was 2 years ago.


July 28, 2004
Still More RNC Spam Fun

I'm sorry to harp on this theme, but it's too much fun. I get these emails streaming in all day long. You're lucky I'm not posting all of them. Maybe I will...

Anyway, they're still going nuts about every single word out of Michael Moore's mouth as if he somehow speaks for the Democratic Party.

In 2003, Michael Moore Downplayed Threat Posed By Death Of 3,000 Americans On 9/11.

MOORE: "Three thousand Americans were killed. There's 290 million Americans, all right? The chance of - of any of us dying in a terrorist incident is very, very, very small." (CBS' "60 Minutes," 7/27/03)


There he goes again stating inarguable facts, that un-American bastard.

I love the headline, too... "the threat posed by the death of 3,000 Americans."

Obama Video

See Barak Obama's speech here.

July 27, 2004
Barak Obama

Meet the first black President of the United States.

barak obama

My guess is... let's say 2016 or 2020. Sure, a million and one things could prevent that from being prophetic, but Barak Obama certainly has a good chance of making it.

He gave an amazing speech at the convention tonight, you can read it here, and I expect they'll have the video up soon. (It's worth watching the video, as speeches are meant to be heard and watched, not just read.)

I really hope Kerry can keep up with these guys. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, night after night, and then Kerry. While I think he's a good man, a smart politician and hope more than I can express that he'll be the next president, there's no denying that he's no Clinton, Obama or Edwards when it comes to rhetorical flair and speaking chops.

I'm sure he's been coached, his speech has been written with incredible care, and he's been told over and over again to crank it up a notch or twelve. Still, he's got three very tough acts to follow.

What we should take away from the whole thing, though, is that these guys are all making inspiring, positive, hopeful speeches. Voting for Kerry this fall isn't just about him, it's about those ideas versus war, division, and lies. Kerry is the man at the top, but he's bringing a lot of great people with him.

Cheney's Message

While the Democrats are partying in Boston and the president is being manly in Texas, Dick Cheney is out here on the west coast, spreading fear, paranoia, and lies.

In a speech at Camp Pendelton today, Cheney said:

"They [terrorists] want to impose their way of life on the rest of us. And in pursuit of this goal, they are prepared to slaughter anyone who stands in their way."

San Diego Union Tribune

Where is he getting this idea? From what I can tell, the terrorists don't have any designs on taking over the world and creating some kind of militant Muslim world society. In fact, it seems that the reason they're fighting us is that they feel that we are determined to impose our way of life on them, and on everyone else, and from where I sit, it's hard not to agree.

As much as it pains me, Cheney's remarks could be easily and more accurately applied to us. We seem determined to impose our will on everyone, and apparently nothing can get in our way.


Free iPod Redux

Ooh so close and yet so far.

For those of you who have signed up through my referral link (http://www.freeiPods.com/default.aspx?referer=7174657), but not completed an offer (understandably), they've added a few new offers that are pretty painless. The best seems to be registering for an eBay account and placing one bid, any bid. Doesn't cost nothin' and everybody needs an eBay account or two.

If you haven't signed up, well I can understand that. But that doesn't change the fact that I want me a free iPod. So if you're feeling clicky, click this and if I get up to 5 referrals, I'll reward those who helped me by... well, I'll think of something. Free t-shirt? Yeah, free t-shirt, or a wall sconce of your choice.

If your tastes run more towards hats, we can do that too.

More RNC Fun

Today the RNC email machine's major beef is with Michael Moore. No really! They don't seem to like him.

Moore was spotted sitting near former President Jimmy Carter at the Democratic Convention, which naturally implies that Senator John Kerry endorses or supports everything Michael Moore has ever said. See how that works? Kerry is a Democrat, Carter is a Democrat, Moore sat near Carter. It couldn't be much clearer.

The first Moore nugget they dredge up and demand that Kerry answer for:

Michael Moore Argued In September 2002 That Bin Laden Was Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

MSNBC's JOE SCARBOROUGH: "You brought a tape of yourself debating Michael Moore in September 2002 at the Telluride Film Festival. And here's what he said about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Let's take a listen."

MICHAEL MOORE: "It seems as if he and his group were the ones who did this, then they should be tracked down, captured, and brought to justice."

VANITY FAIR'S CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: "Do you mind if I break in and say..."

MOORE: "Yes."

HITCHENS: "Ask you, what is the 'if' doing in that last sentence?"

MOORE: "What is the who?"

HITCHENS: "What is the 'if' doing in that last sentence of yours?"

MOORE: "Well, all people are innocent until proven guilty in this country."

HITCHENS: "So you have no..." ...

MOORE: "Even the worst piece of scum."

HITCHENS: "I feel I have to press you on that. You regard it as an open question, the responsibility of Osama bin Laden?"

MOORE: "Until anyone is convicted of any crime, no matter how horrific the crime, they are innocent until proven guilty. And as Americans..."

HITCHENS: "No, that's all I asked you."

MOORE: "Never leave that position."

HITCHENS: "I'm sorry. So bin Laden's claims of responsibility strike you as the ravings of a clowns, say?"

(MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," 6/30/04)

That dastard! Can you believe he would argue that our system of justice should remain intact? What kind of a Frenchman would argue that we stand by our ideals when confronted with the deaths of 3000 innocents? Doesn't Michael Moore know that this is neither the time nor the place for "democracy" or "fairness?"

Now, sure, Osama has claimed responsibility, and calling him "innocent" may be the wrong choice of words. But as a matter of law in this country, he is. He has had no trial, he has not been convicted of a crime and we are still responsible for proving his guilt, one way or another.

Or, you know, we could just scorch the entire region of the earth in which he may be hiding, killing thousands of innocent people in the process. Either way.

But, in the end, no matter what you think of what Michael Moore had to say, the real salient question is, "What does John Kerry think of what Michael Moore said?"

George Bush: Tough as Nails

Thanks to the ever-vigiliant Associated Press, it should now be clear to all that George W. Bush is a very tough, macho man.

Bush has only been riding the knobby-tired mountain bikes since February, yet he takes on dangerous sections that would give veterans pause. He keeps a cramp-inducing pace on long uphill sections, pouring it on to reach each peak, backing off a little to recover and then attacking the next hill.

He pants hard, emitting low "hrrr, hrrr, hrrr" grunts with each stroke of the pedals, his shoulders bobbing up and down.

Bush's new bike is one of the best in the business: a Trek Fuel 98 made of high-tech carbon fiber. The frame is adorned with top-shelf components that Bush professes to know little about, including a motorcycle-style front and rear suspension that soaks up big bumps.

Clearly, this kind of activity is much more manly than snowboarding, one of the sissy-ass sports of choice of John Kerry.

Thank you, A.P. We will all remember that while the Democrats are celebrating in Boston, Bush is a real man in Texas.

July 26, 2004
They Said It!

At my new (getting older) job, in my capacity as "webmaster," I am blessed with a torrential flood of spam and mailing list email to my several monitored email accounts. It's a hoot, I tell ya.

The webmaster account is subscribed to several Republican National Committee email lists, not because my predecessor in this job was a righty nutbag - this place is thankfully free of those - but I suspect because he/she/it was "keeping an eye on the enemy" or something. This is also why I don't unsubscribe from the list. That, and it's often heartening to see how ridiculously low the RNC will stoop.

Case in point: A series of emails they send out, sometimes as many as 5-10 a day, entitled "They Said It!" which purport to catch prominent and not-so-prominent Democrats saying embarrassing or hypocritical things. It's accompanied by a very amusing drawing of a donkey wearing glasses (implying, I suppose, that Democrats either have bad eyesight or are, gasp!, nerds) with a stream of bleeped swearing coming out of his mouth. That's right, straight from the party of Dick "Go Fuck Yourself" Cheney.

Here's today's:

RNC Spam

OOH! SNAP! They totally nailed him on that! Can you believe it?! The presumptive vice-presidential nominee admits that he doesn't know what he would have done in a hypothetical past!! How do they possibly expect to win a presidential election with that kind of talk?

Privacy Pizza

The ACLU has a funny/scary little Flash animation going on here.

The most disturbing thing about this to me is that it's not at all far-fetched. A bit alarmist, perhaps, but when I call the pizza place here, they know more about my pizza eating habits and history than I do. What's even more scary than that is that I like it. I just say, "What was that one I had 3 weeks ago? That was good. I want that one again." Then they take the money out of my checking account and send some guy (or a girl, once) to my house.

I like pizza.

The Paranoid Skies

So guess what? The "Terror in the Skies" story I wrote about a few days ago turns out to be not nearly as big a deal as some would like it to be.

The story, by a writer for WomensWallStreet.com, details the panic Annie Jacobsen felt while watching 14 Middle Eastern men talk to each other and use the bathroom onboard her flight from Detroit to Los Angeles.
As it turns out, the Syrian men's stories checked out. In fact, federal authorities and air marshals were more concerned about Jacobsen's behavior than they were about the "terrorist/musicians." By nearly causing a panic, she had put the flight in more danger by potentially exposing the identities of the air marshals on board.

As Patrick Smith writes in Salon, Jacobsen's fears while on the plane were somewhat understandable, though we could question many of the assumptions she made. She's on a plane; she's watching a group of young Arab men do things she regards as suspicious. Flying is scary for many people, particularly these days.

The real problem is the existence and tone of the account itself. What point is she trying to make by relating to us that she experienced what turned out to be groundless panic? She recounts the behavior of the 14 men in great detail but fails to ever turn her gaze toward herself in any real way. When the plane landed safely, did she ever question whether her fears had been justified? Apparently she didn't, as she rhetorically asks if she "thinks these men were musicians?," clearly indicating that she does not. The point is that nothing happened, and that air marshals on the plane were monitoring the situation and it all worked as it should.

Jacobsen focuses entirely on her own fear, as if our security policy should be to eradicate fear and panic rather than to handle threats in a professional and effective way. She doesn't care if the system worked, because the system didn't pacify her by providing a planeload of people she could trust -- you know, white people. They never kill anybody.

It's added irony that the people on the plane designated to protect it were at least as worried about her behavior as they were about the 14 men. I wonder how she'll like it when they decide to profile her.

July 25, 2004

tour de france

It's over. Lance Armstrong has won his sixth Tour de France in a row and now I can get back to some more regular blogging.

If you hadn't noticed, I've fallen a bit behind in the past couple of weeks. This has something to do with general fatigue of reporting the depressing state of affairs these days, but has probably more to do with my getting up at 6 every morning and watching the Tour for an hour or two before work, time I used to spend catching up on blogging.

As for the race, it's truly incredible, like watching hundreds of guys run a marathon every day for 3 weeks. Lance authoritatively kicked all of their asses to become the first person to ever win the race six times. He not only won it six times; he won it six times consecutively. Impressive, to say the least.

People like to accuse Lance of using performance enhancing drugs, but I say this to those people, "Shut up already." He's never failed a drug test, just let it go. Also, while he did have over six minutes on the second place finisher this year, that's six minutes over 83 and a half hours. If we assume he uses drugs just because he wins, we'd have to assume that most of the other top ten or so riders are using drugs, too. If he was winning by an hour or two, I could see the argument, but he's well within the range of many other riders. They just can't catch him. Call me romantic, but I think the little extra he has may have to do with being very nearly killed by cancer and then coming back to be the top athlete in probably the most insane endurance event in the world.

Beyond that, I don't really care if all of them are using drugs. They should just let athletes do whatever they want. They can have a "clean" version of each sport if there's a market for it, but I suspect there wouldn't be. These guys do everything under the sun to enhance their performance: they have millions of dollars worth of research and custom equipment, strictly regulated and calculated diets, special supplements, etc. It's all "performance enhancing." It seems arbitrary to draw the line at certain chemicals but not others. Some of the newest banned substances are chemicals found in our bodies naturally, just like vitamins. So screw it -- let them take whatever they want. They're already superhuman as far as I'm concerned.

So, what's new in politics?

July 23, 2004
Hersh - Torture Is Worse Than We Think

This has been going around for a few days, and I've been pointed to it by several alert readers (thanks Alec and Randy) but I'm only now finally getting a chance to watch the video or Seymour Hersh's speech to the ACLU.

He doesn't give too many details because he's not finished reporting on it, but he does say that the Pentagon has videos of the torture, which he describes as war crimes. He describes torture of women and children, including the rape of young boys by Americans.

Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about, ok. Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib which is 30 miles from Baghdad [...]

The women were passing messages saying "Please come and kill me, because of what's happened". Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out.

It's impossible to say to yourself how do we get there? who are we? Who are these people that sent us there?

Daily Kos

Watch the video here (Hersh's speech begins at about the 1:07 mark)

By way of counterpoint, remember how Rush Limbaugh compared the torture at Abu Ghraib to fraternity pranks? Yesterday, Rush said that the allegations of Sandy Berger taking copies of classified documents (9/11 Commissioners and the Justice Department have confirmed that nothing he may have taken was an original and they had access to everything he is alleged to have taken) out of a secure room is worse than Abu Ghraib.

9/11 Commission : We're Not Safe

Rest of the World : No Shit.

The Report.

July 21, 2004
Terror License

Has anyone seen anything like this before? A friend at work was confronted with this agreement when attempting to download a legacy version of Apple's operating system.

It's a new one on me...

apple terror license

Peaceful Bush

I'm sure we all remember when Bush described himself as a "war president" to Tim Russert. It was right before he promised to do everything he could to cooperate with the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks.

Just kidding! He didn't promise to cooperate! Ha ha ha.

I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind. Again, I wish it wasn't true, but it is true. And the American people need to know they got a president who sees the world the way it is. And I see dangers that exist, and it's important for us to deal with them.

RUSSERT: Will you testify before the commission?

BUSH: This commission? You know, I don't testify? I will be glad to visit with them. I will be glad to share with them knowledge. I will be glad to make recommendations, if they ask for some.

New York Times

Yesterday, he had this to say:

The enemy declared war on us, and you just got to know nobody wants to be the "war President." I want to be the "peace President." (Applause.) I want to be the President -- after four years, four more in this office, I want people to look back and say, the world is a more peaceful place. (Applause.) America is a safer country. Four more years, and America will be safer and the world will be more peaceful. (Applause.)

The White House

So, now wait. Is America a safer country now, or will it only be a safer country if George W. Bush is reelected? I'm confused. Yesterday I was completely safe. Repeated warnings that we are likely to suffer attacks so severe that our entire democratic process could be dirupted and the discovery of the decapitated heads of our citizens in freezers in Saudi Arabia notwithstanding, America is much safer; or it was yesterday. Or was it? Can someone just tell me what to think and when and how to be afraid for my life, please?

I guess we'd better just suck it up and reelect Bush. After all, he does "want to be President."

July 19, 2004
Austria Shows The Governator Some Love

In a move called by some a sure sign of the rapidly approaching end of Western Civilization, Austria has issued a 1 Euro stamp featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

schwarzenegger stamp

Boy, that's some American-looking stamp for Austria, don't you think?

And no, I'm not kidding.

Terror in The Skies

This story from womenswallstreet.com is really fascinating.

I don't really know what to make of it.

It concerns a woman, the writer, who is on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles. She and her husband notice suspicious behavior from a group of suspicious Middle Eastern men. It's worth reading the story for the details.

The story both points out serious flaws in our airport security systems and raises many questions about racial profiling and the near impossibility of creating the kind of safe environment we think we want without giving up on many of our ideals. Would the writer have been as suspicious if she witnessed the exact same behavior by a group of white men? Probably not. Is it reasonable for her to be more suspicious of Middle Eastern men on an airplane? Possibly, but what are we to do about it?

To me the only answer is to increase security to the level at which we feel safe and subject everyone to the same screening. Any differentiation between travelers for increased scrutiny is asking to be exploited. It is easy enough to find out what they're looking for and get around it. If security is high, it should be high for everyone. The problem with profiling is not the implied racism -- though that is a problem -- it's the false sense of security it imparts.

The writer of the story loses most of my sympathy when she quotes Ann Coulter, and then loses most of the rest when she asks at the end of the piece, "Do I think these men were musicians? [the men were later found to be musicians] I'll let you decide."

She'll let me decide? How am I supposed to decide what she thinks?

Related story:

Liz and I have noticed the last few times we've traveled by air that they have stopped checking IDs at the gate. We presented our IDs and boarding passes at the security checkpoint and then were specifically told that we would not need our IDs again and could put them away. The only explanation we could think of for the pointedness of this announcement is that many travelers had been losing their IDs and complaining, so the regulations were softened. Security loses to the American art of bitching, once again. Still, it seems reasonable, right? No one can get through security without being checked, so why check again at the gate? Beyond the security checkpoint, we can be confident that we are among friends, or at least non-terrorists. Can't we?

Well, if you ask me, their should always be a check at the gate. In fact, they should probably move the metal detectors and x-ray machines to the jetway entrance. The gate is the last barrier to the airplane. Once on the jetway, a travelers options are severely limited. Once only through security, anything can happen. Consider the range of shopping choices one has once through security at modern airports. There are restaurants, bars, shops of every kind. Consider the silverware.

And by not even checking ID at the gate, we've lost track of travelers. There is no way to be sure that the people on the plane are the people you think they are. I can imagine plenty of scenarios where someone could switch boarding passes, change planes, confuse the system and get lost. Not a good thing.

Security without consistency is just a stupid game. It's an illusion, and we'll be playing the blame game again soon when another tragedy strikes.


This piece in The New Yorker

At this point, according to observers, both statesmen decided - by seemingly unspoken mutual consent - to abandon the gutter patois of the common carnival worker and to resort instead to an eminently more quotable (but, to those not versed in the vagaries of hip-hop idiom, more confusing) exchange of viewpoints.

"Oh, it's like that?" Mr. Cheney queried.

"Whut? Whut?" Mr. Leahy shot back.

"Once again,?" Mr. Cheney replied (quite obviously quoting a lyric from Ice Cube's 1990 album, 'AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted'), "it's on."

Lunar Panorama

Hans Nyberg (great name, that) has stitched together photos from the 1969 moon landing into a stunning Quicktime VR panorama, complete with audio.

lunar landing

The Power of the Talking Point

(NOTE -- 10/15/04 -- If you're Googling for Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire today, I've written about it here and you can find the transcript here.)

(NOTE II -- 10/16/04 -- You can watch the video of Stewart on Crossfire here.)

---Original Post Below---

I considered transcribing this segment from The Daily Show last week, but I didn't get around to it.

Thankfully, there are one or two other people in the world, and one of those has done it for me. Joy!

The Wonkette cribbed it from Progressive Review, and now I crib it from her. And the beat goes on.

-- video clip -- CNN: "This is 28 pages from the Republican National Committee. It says, 'Who is Edwards? It starts off by saying a disingenuous, unaccomplished liberal.' We also saw from the Bush-Cheney camp they released talking points to their supporters."

JON STEWART: "Talking points. That's how we learn things. But how will I absorb a talking point like 'Edwards and Kerry are out of the mainstream' unless I get it jack hammered into my skull? That's where television lends a hand."

-- video clip montage --
FOX NEWS: "He stands way out of the main stream."
CNN Terry Holt, Spokesman for Bush Camp: " way out of the main stream."
CNN Communication Director, Bush-Cheney: "He stands so far out of the main stream."
CNN Lynn Cheney: "He's so out of the main stream."
CNN Terry Holt: "they're out of the main stream."
CNN Frank Donatelli, GOP Strategist: " . . . well out of the main stream.

JON STEWART: I'm getting a feeling. I think, I think they're out of the main stream. But, what if I wonder why?

-- more video clips --
CNN Frank Donatelli: " two of the foremost liberal senators of the US Senate." CNN Crossfire: . . ." two of the foremost liberal senators of the US Senate." MSNBC Ed Gillespie: . . ." the most liberal rated senator in the US Senate." HARDBALL Lynn Cheney: " . . . the most liberal senator of the Senate." FOX NEWS: " . . . who was rated as the number 1 liberal in the US Senate." FOX NEWS Elizabeth Dole: . . ." the number 1 most liberal senator in the US Senate."

JON STEWART: Wow! Those guys are liberals!! In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say they're the first and fourth most liberal in the whole Senate. Wow! And while we don't have any idea what that means and where those rankings come from and how they were arrived at or whether it's even true, I don't like the sounds of it. And it's certainly not something for the media to question. As a matter of fact, I would imagine people like that, liberal and out of the main stream, hang out in some pretty extreme places.

-- more videos --
ABC This Week Lindsey Graham: " talking about the hate fest." CNN: "Hollywood hate fest." FOX NEWS: ". . . last Thursday night's hate fest." PAT BOONE: " Radio City Music Hall hate fest.

JON STEWART: "Yeah. See, out of the main stream, liberals, and hate fest. Keeping up with current events is easier than you thing. Talking points: they're true because they're said a lot."

I'm sure Jon Stewart would agree that we live in scary, scary times when the organization doing the best and most honest journalism in this country is Comedy Central.

I agree with Wonkette that this doesn't prove that the media has a conservative bias; it just proves that they're lazy as hell. Remember the "group think" of the CIA? Well these guys have it bad.

I also forgot to transcribe the time Jon Stewart befuddled Wolf Blitzer by pointing this out. The sublime beauty of The Daily Show is that they now have enough credibility and a hold on such a desirable demographic that politicians and other bigshots feel they have to go on, and Stewart just tears them apart.

It's a beautiful thing to watch.

Here: Watch some. Someone has posted clips of The Daily Show's report on the election postponment story. There's also some great stuff in there on the above theme of repeating something until it's true, as the president says "America is safer" 8 times in a 20 minute speech. The server is really slow right now, so you might want to just let the download go and go for your evening constitutional. It's worth it.

Getcher Free iPods!

Sure it all seems sort of unlikely, but it appears to be working.

Here's the deal: A site called freeipods.com has started giving away free iPods. You have to sign up and then complete one of their referral offers, which obviously gives them a kickback, and then get 5 friends to complete offers and voila! Free iPod.

The easiest offer is for Ancestry.com, a geneology website. You have to provide a credit card, but you can cancel in the first week or two and never be charged.

If you feel like giving it a whirl, please click my referral link. Thanks.

Oh, and the guys over at GearLive have set up a bulleting board for people to post their referral links, thus increasing your circle of "friends" exponentially. The board is here.

As you were.

Feel Safer Now?

Just remember, as the president has made perfectly clear, America is much safer.

America is much safer.

America is much safer.

America is much safer.

In case you don't feel like clicking links, here's a summary:

The Los Alamos National Laboratory, home of lots of super-secret super-dangerous nuclear fun, has been plagued by security problems for months (if not years). The latest incidents, including classified information sent over the lab's unclassified e-mail system 17 times in recent months, has caused the government to shut down the lab. Two classified "electronic storage devices" (disks) are now missing.

trinity + 10

July 17, 2004
Coming Soon: The Federal Crustacean Amendment

Fred Clark at Slacktivist examines why many Christians pick and choose what to hate.

On the one hand, they often cite scripture proclaiming that homosexual activity (only male homosexual activity, mind you. The Bible never mentions lesbians.) is an "abomination."

Clark points out that the same book of the Bible, Leviticus, also condemns the eating of shellfish as an "abomination." So where are the protests outside of Red Lobster?

Well, as the story goes, in the New Testament (the "forget that other stuff" part of the Bible) god clears things up in an argument with someone named Peter. God explains that people should really just be nice to each other already, and it's enough with all the shunning.

Fred's analysis is much more thorough and, well, sensible than mine. You may want to check that out.

It begs the question, though, shouldn't it be the Jews who hate gays? They don't pay no mind to the New Testament, which is why they don't eat at Red Lobster. But I don't remember hearing the Jewish community rising up against gay marriage.

Mmmm.. Classy

Via the Poor Man, a story about an anti-Kerry bumper sticker circulating in Louisville, Kentucky. The sticker reads, "Kerry is bin Laden's Man/Bush is Mine."

The chairman of the Jefferson County GOP denies that the party is responsible for the sticker, but confirms that the party is distributing the stickers. Oooookay.

Keep in mind that this is the same Republican party that had its collective panties in a twist last week because Whoppi Goldberg made a dumb joke about Bush's last name being "bush," which it clearly is. Republicans were all over TV calling the event a "hatefest."

Josh Marshall dug deeper into this by placing a call to Jack Richardson, head of the Jefferson County GOP. Richardson made no apologies for the sticker, pointing out that, "it's funny how the truth not only can be amusing but also make a point." Wow, Jack, you're right. That is funny. And clearly the sentiment expressed by this sticker is the truth, right?

Richardson: "I believe that if you look at John Kerry's voting record in the senate, why wouldn't bin Laden prefer Kerry over Bush?"

Okay, let's see... Because Bush's policies have been the best recruiting material bin Laden could have ever asked for? Because Bush has basically made bin Laden's every prophecy about the U.S. come true? Because John Kerry will have a more balanced, more international, less insane policy towards the Middle East that would probably marginalize people like bin Laden, and he will focus resources on tactics that actually have some chance of weakening Al Qaeda's influence instead of creating sympathy for his cause?

I could think of more.

July 15, 2004
Libertarian Reason(s)

Jesse Walker at Reason lays out 10 reasons to dump George Bush that even a libertarian could love. Unfortunately, his admission that he still can't bring himself to vote for Kerry kind of takes the force out of his argument. It's no different than Nader -- If these things are so important, take the necessary first step. You don't have to love Kerry, or even like him, to know that he's a damn sight better than George W. Bush. When your house is on fire, the first thing you do is put out the fire. You can worry about the overall cause of fire later.

Pistol Packing OK. Cameras? Not So Much

In Virginia, it's perfectly legal to walk around with a gun. Honestly, as long as the Second Amendment is on the books, I say this is fine. People should have to sit in Starbucks across from a table full of rednecks with pistols. I wonder how long it would be before the Second Amendment was repealed if that was the law everywhere. Somehow people seem to think it's okay as long as nobody sees the guns everybody's carrying. Visible guns are bad guns.

So, the police in Virginia are being instructed to leave citizens alone and ignore complaints from other citizens who are scared out of their minds.

Meanwhile, in an ironically related story, a man right here in Seattle was harrassed multiple times for taking pictures of the Ballard Locks. (The Ballard Locks are just that, locks. The kind for ships. They are run by the Army Corps of Engineers.)

The Stranger has the story of Ian Spiers, a photography student who was taking photos, as were the many tourists who flock to the locks for some reason, and was subsequently visited at his home by the Seattle Police Department and then confronted again at the locks by agents of the Department of Homeland Security who informed him, incorrectly, that it is illegal to photograph federal property.

Ian attributes the incident partly to racism (he is other-than-white), and that's probably part of it. Me, I attribute it mostly to scary idiots ruining our country.

Running On Empty

Holden, subbing for Atrios, has a rundown of the Bush platform.

Errr, the ex Bush platform.

The war is a bigger mess than anyone could have imagined; The gay marriage thing wasn't even close; the economy isn't as good as they say - in more ways than one.

So really, what do they have? Fear. That's all they have, and that's exactly what they're running on. The only thing we really have to fear, though, is that it might work.

Those Who Pee In Glass Houses...

Via Metafilter.

The Swiss, always way ahead in the bathroom design arts, have introduced a revolution in public accomodations.

clear toilet

The question normally accompanying these photos is, "Would you use it?"

Yes, yes I would. All the time.

Slim-Fast Drops Whoopi

This is just too retarded.

Slim-Fast has dropped Whoopi Goldberg from its advertising after the comedian made a sexual joke about George Bush.

The Unilever-owned diet food brand acted after Goldberg made fun of the US president at a Democratic fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall in New York last week.

"We should keep Bush where he belongs," Goldberg said, gesturing at her genitals, "and not in the White House."

Slim-Fast said advertisements featuring Goldberg, who is on the Slim-Fast diet, would be withdrawn.

"We are disappointed by the manner in which Ms Goldberg chose to express herself and sincerely regret that her recent remarks offended some of our consumers," said the Slim-Fast general manager, Terry Olson.

She made a reference to how Bush's name is also slang for vagina. OH MY GOD!! Lock the bitch up! How dare she!

Seriously, this is going way too far. The joke's not even funny, let alone offensive.

In any case, as if you needed a reason, boycott Slim-Fast and tell them you're doing it.


By telephone: 561-833-9920

Or in writing:

Slim·Fast Foods Company
P.O. Box 3625
West Palm Beach, FL 33402

Via TalkLeft, Atrios, et al.

FMA Defeated

I'm late with this, but you know, I'm hungry.

The Senate failed to gather nearly enough votes for the Federal Marriage Amendment. They didn't even get a majority, let alone the 60 needed to even bring the matter to a vote, at which point they would have needed 67 to send it to the states.

The sad and infuriating part of this is that they all knew -- everyone in Washington knew -- damn well that this thing never had any chance of passing. It was completely political and a complete waste of Congress' time. They debated it just to divide the country, knowing that it would never come to anything as a law.

Meanwhile, The Times reports that George Bush has been "finessing" his positiong on the issue.

But don't worry, George Bush is still decisive. He doesn't flip-flop like John Kerry, after all -- he "finesses." He also "modulates his message," and "hedges his position."

Pro-Life, Pro-Death, Whatever

Some people are more pro-life than others.

For example, Tom Coburn, campaigning for Senate in Oklahoma. He has such a profound respect for human life that he favors the death penalty for abortion doctors.

"I favor the death penalty," Coburn told the AP last week, "for abortionists and other people who take life."

Ah, the sweet light of reason.

Flash: Fox News Unfair

Here's a big surprise: It turns out Fox News Channel is completely biased in favor of conservative issues and conservative people. Seriously! It's true!

The Wonkette has the whole batch of memos from Fox News chief John Moody to his staff, released by the makers of Outfoxed.

You might think it's just a little bit of slant, but it's far worse than that. Example:

Into Fallujah: It's called Operation Vigilant Resolve and it began Monday morning (NY time) with the US and Iraqi military surrounding Fallujah. We will cover this hour by hour today, explaining repeatedly why it is happening. It won't be long before some people start to decry the use of "excessive force." We won't be among that group. . . More than 600 US military dead, attacks on the UN headquarters last year, assassination of Irai officials who work with the coalition, the deaths of Spanish troops last fall, the outrage in Fallujah: whatever happens, it is richly deserved.

The rest.

UPDATE: Media Matters helpfully organizes the memo into categories.

Policy? Who Needs It

The Washington Post reports that John Kerry's campaign consists of hundreds of policy advisors, specializing in areas such as justice, environment, economics, etc.

This is somehow supposed to be a criticism.

Bush, by comparison, is running a "no-frills" policy shop, consisting of about a dozen people.

Sure, I can see the argument that if you have hundreds of people advising on policy, those policies could possibly become muddled. On the other hand, if you only have a dozen people, can you really say you've got a good grasp on all sides of these critical issues?

These are huge topics, and having lots of advisors sounds like a good idea to me. Get all the information you can before deciding on policy positions.

Up with policy!

July 13, 2004
Bin Laden Aide Surrenders to Saudis

One of Osama bin Laden's close associates has surrendered to Saudi authorities in Iran. Khaled al-Harbi was flown to Saudi Arabia after turning himself in to the Saudi ambassy in Tehran.

It sounds like he's angling for the weird "amnesty" the Saudis offered in late June to terrorists if they would surrender within the month. Unfortunately for this guy, he didn't read the fine print: the offer was only for those accused of terrorist attacks within Saudi Arabia, which this guy is not. The deal does not exempt him from prosecution for crimes against other countries.

I can't wait to see how the Bush administration attempts to take credit for this one. "Well, we didn't catch the old man in the wheelchair, and we didn't influence him to turn himself in, but we have created a climate in which terrorists know they have no safe harbor (except wherever they've been hiding for the past 3 years)." Something like that.

The article mentions that al-Harbi is believed to have fought alongside bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It fails to mention that the CIA at the time was funding them and providing them with all the weapons and training they could possibly want.

Details, details.

Red Cross: U.S. Hiding Detainees

The Red Cross is worried that the U.S. is hiding detainees in the War on Terra.

Under international law, the Red Cross is required to have access to all prisoners of war and other detainees, but the U.S. is picking and choosing which detainees to acknowledge.

"We have access to people detained by the United States in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, but in our understanding there are people that are detained outside these places for which we haven't received notification or access," said Antonella Notari, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The United States says it is cooperating with the organization and has allowed Red Cross delegates access to thousands of prisoners, including former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.


See? We're giving them access to lots of people, even our highest profile prisoner! What more do they want? All prisoners? These international aid organizations are just never satisfied.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

In The New York Times today, Paul Krugman explains why Tom DeLay, someone who thinks that "juvenile violence is the result of day care, birth control and the teaching of evolution" among other insanely extreme views, runs the world. And how, but for certain lucky circumstances like the fall of Enron, he would be getting away with it. (Which is not to say that he won't get away with it, but he is being investigated and has lawyered up.)


July 12, 2004
Bush Admin: Up is the New Down

Remember the Union of Concerned Scientists? They started as a small but esteemed group of scientists criticizing the Bush administration's treatment of science in its policy decisions.

Well, their ranks have grown to include over 4000 scientists, including 48 Nobel Prize winners, 62 National Medal of Science winners and 127 members of the National Academy of Sciences.

What they have to say:

"The actions by the Bush administration threaten to undermine the morale and compromise the integrity of scientists working for and advising America’s world-class governmental research institutions and agencies," UCS said. "Not only does the public expect and deserve government to provide it with accurate information, the government has a responsibility to ensure that policy decisions are not based on intentionally or knowingly flawed science. To do so carries serious implications for the health, safety, and environment of all Americans."

The Register

Sure, anyone can -- and many people often do -- level these kinds of sweeping accusations at the Bush administration. Their the worst ever at this, the worst ever at that, yeah yeah, but what about specifics?

How about this:

UCS is also upset by an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) official's decision to ban "Plan B" - a drug for preventing pregnancy up to 72 hours after sex - from being prescribed.

"In the case, Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, acknowledged to reporters recently that he overturned the recommendations of his own staff and two FDA advisory panels in declaring the drug “not approvable” for nonprescription status," said UCS. "A joint meeting of two independent FDA scientific advisory committees voted 23 to 4 in December 2003 to recommend the emergency contraceptive as an over-the-counter drug. The panel also voted unanimously that the drug could be safely sold over the counter."

Overwhelming testimony by doctors pointed to the drug being safe and effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies.

"Nonetheless, Dr. Galson broke with agency protocol by overruling FDA staff scientists who had concluded that this drug met FDA criteria for nonprescription status and overwhelmingly recommended the switch," UCS said. "In overruling his staff and the advisory committee, Galson offered no substantial new evidence, and took the unusual step of writing the official response to the drug company himself."

Not bad, huh?

No, it is bad. Very, very bad.

Rationale O' The Week

President Bush today unveiled the latest justification for war in Iraq: He had no other choice.

"So I had a choice to make: either take the word of a madman or defend America. Given that choice I will defend America."

New York Times

This ranks as one of the most disengenuous remarks I've ever heard. Well done, Chimpy.

Earlier in his speech, Bush took the remarkable step of conceding that we had not, in fact, found WMD in Iraq. Which is not to say that they're not there, of course. It's a universal negative, you see; you can never prove that the weapons aren't there, only that we haven't found them yet.

Post Title Redacted

Matthew Yglesias takes the trouble to actually read some of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the buildup to war. How nice of him.

We've all heard how the report concludes that there was no untoward political pressure from the Bush administration for the CIA to produce the "right" kind of intelligence for their war. Matt digs up the relevant sections of the report (page 284):

Conclusion 83. The Committee did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or presssure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

[Redacted paragraph]

[Redacted paragraph]

[Redacted paragraph]

[Page break]

[Redacted paragraph]

[Redacted paragraph]

Conclusion 84. The Committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments.

[Redacted paragraph]

[Redacted paragraph]

[End of pressure discussion]

Matt Yglesias

Hey, well that really clears things up, huh? Certainly we can't refute what we can't see. Those first paragraphs seem pretty clear, so why black out all of the details? Guess we'll never know...

This Land Is Their Land

I had forgotten about JibJab, but despite my lack of attention, they're still churning out some damn funny stuff.

Like this:

jib jab

Take Action: FMA Vote This Week
If you haven't done so already, please take a moment to tell your representatives to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment. They will be voting on this in the next day or so.

It's a simple message:

"Everyone has the same rights. There is no place in America for a Constitutional amendment denying marriage equality to anyone."


More Election Day Worries

Now CNN has the election delay story.

It's mostly the same story we've read elsewhere, but the last three paragraphs struck me:

What has Homeland Security officials worried is that terrorists could attempt to disrupt the election in the same way that train bombings in Madrid created unrest three days before the Spanish general election, Roehrkasse said.

Although there is no evidence that the bombings influenced the March 11 vote, socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero unseated Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, whose center-right government supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The country's new government then pulled Spanish troops from Iraq.


See, this is the problem, and this is the kind of thing we should be VERY worried about. The terrorist bombings in Madrid did not disrupt the Spanish elections, as the article states. They may have influenced people's votes, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that -- influence does not equal disruption. If people were viscerally reminded of what a dangerous place their world had become and made electoral decisions based on that information, that is their right. Isn't this obvious?

The current Spanish government was democratically elected, no matter what events may have influenced the people's decisions. I suppose we should encourage the Spanish people to focus on the real issues like hair styles and "charisma."

Election Day Worries

So now everybody is talking about the request by the newly minted U.S. Election Assistance Commission's newly minted (and Bush appointed) chairman DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. to the Department of Homeland Security for a contingency plan to delay the presidential election in case of a terrorist attack on or near election day.

Newsweek has an "exclusive", Atrios is on it, as are Pandagon and TalkLeft, among others.

I'd just like to point out that I had this story almost 2 weeks ago. I'm not saying I deserve credit for it, I'm just saying, is all.

Anyway, I still don't like it. Some sort of last ditch, huge nuclear attack contingency plan is perhaps advisable, but I'm very afraid that this could go far beyond that. The last place we want power to postpone or cancel elections is with a Republican Baptist minister appointed by the president. Bush doesn't exactly have the best record when it comes to cronyism, and not knowing much about him, I still wouldn't trust this Soaries guy to water my plants, let alone protect my democracy.

We should keep a very close eye on things like this. There's a very fine line between reasonable precaution and imminent dictatorship. Ha!

In the end, what I don't understand is how most analyses of this issue focus on the potential skewing effect a terrorist attack could have on election results. Everyone seems to suggest that this in some way is to be avoided. "We must learn the lessons of Madrid," they say ominously. But why? Are they saying that only certain events, and only those events which have been properly digested (read: spun), are to be taken into account when one votes for president? If terrorists do strike and the president's poll numbers shoot through the roof, which is quite likely, do you think there would be any talk of postponing the election?

This whole idea of terrorist bombings "interfering" with elections seems new to me. If they blow up polling places or kill people on their way to vote, then yes, they're interfering. But if they blow up the Washington Monument the day before the election, is that interfering in the election? No one is prevented from voting, and on what they chose to base their vote is nobody's business but their own.

The burden here really has to be that an attack disenfranchised a significant portion of the population by preventing them from casting their votes. In such a case the election could be postponed, but should be held as soon as possible. Any talk of "mounting a full investigation so voters have all the information they need to make an informed choice" should be regarded with paralyzing fear.

July 11, 2004
The Media: Lame or What?

John Kerry and John Edwards were on 60 Minutes tonight in their first TV interview as a couple.

A couple of observations: First, until I saw this interview, I lent little credence to the story that Edwards could steal the spotlight from Kerry, after all, only Kerry is running for president and who pays attention to running mates?

After watching the interview, I would suggest to the campaign that they never do another dual interview. Kerry is a smart guy, and so is Edwards, but there's no question that side by side Edwards is the one you watch. He talks like Bill Clinton, while Kerry talks like Lurch. Edwards even once put his hand on Kerry's arm to silence while he finished his answer. It was rather sad, actually.

So, note to Kerry-Edwards campaign: Keep these guys apart. Send Edwards on a tour of the South, and send Kerry in the other direction. Separately they could do wonders, but together it's death.

My second major observation after watching the interview is that the American Media has probably sunk to its lowest levels. It was astounding that 60 Minutes, our most respected and venerable news program, filled half of their show interviewing the challengers in one of the most contentious elections in our history, and didn't manage to raise one issue of substance.

Leslie Stahl asked them about charisma, about past votes, about how they like each other, but never once about how they would lead the country should they be elected. Throughout it all, I was hoping against hope that Kerry would call her on it.

My dream:

"Look Leslie, I'm running for President of the United States. Do you understand that? I'm not running to be everyone's dad, and I'm not running to be their drinking buddy. This is the hardest and most important job on earth and if you'll excuse me, I frankly couldn't care less what people think of my hair or my wife or my shoes or my bank account. It all misses the point, and as an esteemed member of the press, you should be ashamed of yourself for the questions you're asking us. I'm tired of being polite. When you start doing your job, you can ask me about mine."

Wouldn't that be awesome? I swear, people would vote for the guy who had the balls to say that.

The last part of the interview included the candidates' wives, as if they are in any way relevant. As they opened the shot, John Kerry and Theresa were rearranging their hands, trying to get comfortable and clearly not aware that the tape was rolling yet. Leslie's voice-over begins: "Look at the Kerrys' hands. You'd think this was their first interview together."

What the fuck is that, Leslie? What possible point were you trying to make?

In his inanae segment that closes the show, Andy Rooney took some shots at Theresa Heinz Kerry himself. He wanted to ask John Kerry if his wife "makes him nervous sometimes." He wanted to ask Edwards the same question, about Kerry's wife. He then put up a photo that appeared to catch Mrs. Kerry telling Edwards' son to take his thumb out of his mouth before a photo session.

Oh the horror! Can you imagine?! What nerve that woman has, giving instructions to someone else's child in the middle of a media circus! Is this the kind of woman we want married to the president? What if she tells your son or daughter to take their thumb out of their mouth? What's next? I'll tell you what's next: mandatory gay marriage, that's what.

Why can't she just stand there and -- if she has to talk -- say things that don't mean anything? Shouldn't she just be championing no-brainer issues like education and libraries? Doesn't she have some cooking to do?

Finally, I received the latest issue of The Week the other day. I like The Week because it gathers many sources and basically presents the competing sides of issues without taking sides (much). It's a good quick summary of the week's events, as advertised. There isn't a whole lot of depth, but if you only have time for one news magazine, it's not a bad choice.

This week, though, they had this cover:

the week cover

I'll grant that it's a funny picture, but what I don't understand is why they're portraying Kerry as dead in the water -- literally -- and in need of a savior when he's been leading in most major polls for weeks. An incumbent president during a war has some of the worst poll numbers EVER, and somehow Kerry is already floundering? Attention The Week, you're on notice. Shape up, or I'll keep complaining.

In the Army Now

It's a funny thing to have something "published" on the web for the first time, while I've been "publishing" myself on the web for years. Still, this required approval by others, and it's the first time.

Anyway, lookit me! I'm a freelance writer! A piece I wrote for PBS' upcoming "Video Game Revolution" documentary is now available online, the only place it will ever be available.

Playing in an Army of One, by Anthony Hecht.

I look a little squinty in the byline photo, but let's face it, I am a little squinty.

The Terrorism of Bad Dialogue

While the writer continually crticizes his own writing, he manages to crank out a hilarious and profoundly disturbing account of his run-in with Paranoid America.

Short version: Man privately writes sentence with the word "bomb" in it on airplane. Fellow passenger sees sentence, alerts authorities. Authorities thoroughly interrogate (and harrass) writer, eventually concluding he is not a threat, but informing him that he has been placed on the federal "watch list" nonetheless.

Full story, well worth the read.

Oh, and by the way: Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb.

Park Service Police Chief Fired for Criticizing Administration

In a November 28 memo, Park Service Police Chief Teresa Chambers wrote:

"My professional judgment, based upon 27 years of police service, six years as chief of police, and countless interactions with police professionals across the country, is that we are at a staffing and resource crisis in the United States Park Police -- a crisis that, if allowed to continue, will almost surely result in the loss of life or the destruction of one of our nation's most valued symbols of freedom and democracy," she wrote.


In response, she was put on administrative leave. Now, 2 and a half hours after her lawyers demanded that she be reinstated through an independent agency designated to ensure fair treatment of federal employees, she's been fired.

"The American people should be afraid of this kind of silencing of professionals in any field," she said. "We should be very concerned as American citizens that people who are experts in their field either can't speak up, or, as we're seeing now in the parks service, won't speak up."

I know I'm afraid. What I don't understand is why everyone isn't afraid. Why the Republicans can be successful in making people more afraid of gay people than they are of people being fired from government jobs for pointing out that budget cuts are threatening our most cherished icons, not to mention our lives. That part I don't get.

Bush on Intelligence Failures: Saddam is Dangerous Man
I will remind them [our fellow citizens] that there has been some failures -- listen, we thought there was going to be stockpiles of weapons. I thought so; the Congress thought so; the U.N. thought so. I'll tell you what we do know. Saddam Hussein had the capacity to make weapons. See, he had the ability to make them. He had the intent. We knew he hated America. We knew he was paying families of suiciders. We knew he tortured his own people, and we knew he had the capability of making weapons. That we do know. They haven't found the stockpiles, but we do know he could make them. And so he was a dangerous man. He was a dangerous man. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. America is safer.

White House

The fact that a single person buys this load of crap disturbs me to my very soul. Go ahead and read the whole thing. I don't think there's a single honest sentiment in there. It's just one lie or distraction after another.

They [our enemies] use terror as a tool. So this is really a ideological struggle where the enemy is willing to use terror as a tool. And they kill innocent life because they know our good hearts break every time we see an innocent soldier die, and an innocent citizen die. They know the compassion we all feel. Forget political parties; all Americans grieve when we see a son or a daughter, a husband or wife, go down in combat. We weep when we see that. We care when suiciders bomb innocent children inside Iraq.

I don't think I've ever heard someone describe soldiers in a war as innocents before, in the same breath as innocent civilians. And the innocent children: Do we only care when they are killed by "suiciders?" What about innocent children killed by bombs falling from the sky? We don't really see much of that on the news around here.

Speaking of using terror as a tool, have you heard that if you vote for John Kerry your chances of dying in a terrorist attack increase by 9,000 percent? Don't believe it? Well, that doesn't really matter, because now you're thinking about it.

Bush's Backyard Protestors

Crawford, Texas was taking a pretty hard line on protests in the president's back yard. The city's protest ordinance required 15 days' notice and a $25 fee before a permit could be issues. Since nobody every really knows when Bush may call a surprise vacation (though it's a pretty good bet on any given day; that brush don't clear itself, you know.) this made it pretty difficult for anyone to show their displeasure at Bush's leadership while he was around. And if he's not home and you're protesting in Crawford, Texas you'd look pretty silly.

In February five anti-war activists were arrested and jailed overnight for being on their way to Crawford to protest the war. They hadn't even started protesting yet, they were on the way when they were stopped by a police blockade.

McLennan County Judge Tom Ragland ruled the ordinance was overly broad and violated the First Amendment.

Well, duh.

Bush to NAACP: Go Cheney Yourselves

Last week, the NAACP asked Bush if he would speak at their national convention. Bush declined, citing "scheduling committments." Asked on Friday about the snub Bush had this to say:

Bush, during a day-long bus tour through Pennsylvania, said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer and two other state newspapers that he "admired some" NAACP leaders and said he would seek members' support "in other ways."

But he castigated the group's officers, who include President Kweisi Mfume and Chairman Julian Bond. "I would describe my relationship with the current leadership as basically nonexistent," Bush said, as reported by Knight Ridder Newspapers. "You've heard the rhetoric and the names they've called me."

Washington Post

Oh, waaaaaaaah.

Okay, so not only did his campaign lie about his reasons for not attending, but Bush is now not even pretending to court the votes of black Americans. Despite all the rhetoric from his 2000 campaign, and his clear position as a "uniter, not a divider," he's just washing his hands of the black population, because they called him names.

Bush has declined the NAACP's invitation to their national convention in every year of his term. He's the first president since Warren G. Harding not to meet with the group while in office.

In the end, this is of course good news, because the NAACP will turn out its membership in full force to vote against the bastard. This could be key in places like Florida, Louisiana, etc.

Keep it up, George, you frickin' idiot.

July 10, 2004
News Summary

Before I go to bed, a quick summary of the day's news:

The Senate Intelligence Committee today issued a 511 page report detailing how nearly every bit of intelligence the CIA provided to policy makers in the months leading up to the war in Iraq was bullshit. Not only was it bullshit, they concluded, but it was really, seriously bullshit.

President Bush responded to this shocking proof of an historically massive failure of our inteliigence system by saying that Saddam was a threat, and that he would "do it again." His party and campaign staff, meanwhile, expressed their outrage that John Kerry had appeared on stage with several celebreties who don't like George Bush, one of whom used -- gasp! -- "sexual innuendo." A Bush campaign adviser who wished to remain anonymous wondered, "Won't someone please think of the children?"

Okay, I made that last quote up. The rest is true, though.

As for the media.. Well, bless their hearts, they're going with the celebrity sex jokes story.

July 9, 2004
Aussies To U.S: Piss Off

Via Eschaton.

The Bush administration is helpfully suggesting to the Australian government how they should go about handling their elections.

The United States has been told to "butt out" of Australian politics by two former prime ministers who accused U.S. officials of trying to sway Australian voters in knife-edge general election due within months.

Top U.S. officials, including President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, have been pressuring Australia's opposition Labor party to drop a promise to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq if it won polls tipped for October.


How do we suck? Let me count the ways...

Bush Picks Up Ball, Goes Home

bush walks out on reporters

A clearly-rattled President George W. Bush walked out of a media briefing Thursday, refusing to answer questions about his close relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth Lay, a campaign benefactor Bush nicknamed "Kenny Boy" when the two were up-and-comers in Texas.

The President, visibly upset, stomped off the stage when reporters pressed him about his relationship with Lay and left White House press secretary Scott McClellan to deal with the questions.

Capitol Hill Blue

What a baby. As the media finally wakes up and becomes more and more critical of Bush, he obviously can't take it. H'es much more comfortable with everyone just kissing his ass. One of these days he's going to explode and say something that no amount of Karl Rove will get him out of. I can't wait. Bring on the debates!

(BTW, there's a good reason Bush doesn't want to talk about Kenny Boy. Despite his repeated claim that Lay was merely a generous contributor, the two have a long and close relationship.)

How Convenient
Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.

It said the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.

The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.

The disclosure appeared to catch some experts, both pro-Bush and con, by surprise. Even the retired lieutenant colonel who studied Mr. Bush's records for the White House, Albert C. Lloyd of Austin, said it came as news to him.

New York Times

Wow! That's just amazing! Even the guy who studied the records for the White House didn't know the records had been accidentaly destroyed! Whacky! It's sort of weird that they never mentioned this before, don't you think?

There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was "AWOL" for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Where am I?

Report: Iraq War Based On Crap

The Senate Intelligence Committee's Report on prewar intelligence was issued this morning.

You can find the full report here and the somewhat briefer conclusions report here.

I haven't quite finished the 511 page report yet, but it seems that it concludes exactly what's been discussed in the past few days: The C.I.A. fucked up royal.

The Central Intelligence Agency greatly overestimated the danger presented by deadly unconventional weapons in Iraq because of runaway assumptions that were never sufficiently challenged, the Senate Intelligence Committee said today.

In a long-awaited report that goes to the heart of President Bush's rationale for going to war against Iraq, the committee said that prewar assessments of Saddam Hussein's supposed arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and his desire to have nuclear weapons, were wildly off the mark.

"Today, we know these assessments were wrong, and as our inquiry will show, they were also unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence," Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who heads the panel, said at a briefing on the 511-page report.

New York Times | Briefing Video

The report "found no evidence that intelligence analysts were subjected to overt political pressure to tailor their findings." Okay, how about subtle pressure? Did you look into that? I don't think anyone was expecting a memo signed by the president saying, "Dear CIA, Please falsify intelligence. Your Friend, George."

It's very important that we get to the bottom of these massive intelligence failures. It's equally critical, though, that Congress investigate not only whether political pressure was exerted on the intelligence community, but why the administration continued to treat the faulty intelligence as fact long after it was clear that there had been major mistakes. Whether or not they pushed for the intelligence in the first place, the administration continued -- and continues to this day -- to use this information to justify their actions.

On one important point, the committee found the C.I.A.'s conclusions reasonable — that there had been no significant ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda terrorists.

New York Times

So there you go. The one point the C.I.A. got right is also the only one that the administration has consistently contradicted.

July 8, 2004
Feds to Americans: Wolf! WOLF! WOLF! WOLF!

Another non-specific yet horribly terrifying threat warning, unaccompanied by any actual information, was issuef by the Department of Homeland Security today.

The alert level was not raised from "Yellow" (Be Afraid) to "Orange" (Be Very Afraid). Thankfully, the alert level has never yet reached "Red" (If You're Reading This Alert Level, You're Already Dead).

So don't forget to be afraid, in case you had forgotten and stupidly gone on with your life. You are in grave danger. Vote Bush. Grave Danger. Bush Bush Bush.

July Surprise

Josh Marshall points to this unbelievable TNR article.

A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs [i.e., high-value al Qaida targets] before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Just allow a minute for that to sink in.

Cranking up pressure on the Pakistanis to deliver bin Laden or some other High (Media) Value Target this summer clearly implies that this could have been done at any time. Why, exactly, have we not been exerting this pressure from day one? The answer is obvious, though hard to believe for its mendacity even for this administration: The "War on Terror" is nothing more than a political game. (Okay, we already knew that, but still, this is disturbingly explicit proof.)

Bob Harris, writing at This Modern World sums it up:

We should rejoice at Osama's capture, whenever it happens. But if Bin Laden suddenly shows up as scheduled, this should be understood, in advance, as prima facie evidence George W. Bush has spent years -- years! -- not doing all in his power to bring the greatest mass murderer in our history to justice.

It honestly makes me sick to my stomach.

German Media Reports Children Imprisoned at Abu Ghraib

Read all about it at This Modern World. We'll see if this story surfaces in the U.S. press.

It appears that Norway may be considering leaving the "Coalition of the Willing" over this. If this turns out to be true, I don't imagine they'll be the only ones.

There's a German video report on this here (click "Beitrag
ansehen"). If anyone speaks German, I'd love to have a translation.

Report: C.I.A. A Bunch of Dummies

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will release their report on pre-war intelligence tomorrow, and word on the street is that the C.I.A. is taking all the heat.

Apparently, the C.I.A. had all kinds of contradictory information about whether or not Iraq was reconstituting its illegal weapons programs, but they sorta forgot to mention any of the contradictory parts. They had a secret program to interview the relatives of Iraqi weapons scientists, but the Agency neglected to mention that those people said the weapons programs were dead.

More from The New York Times.

And then we have this article, saying that the report will focus on the failures of the C.I.A. and will "sidestep the question of how the Bush administration used that information to make the case for war."

What's astounding about this is the reason for it:

Under a deal reached this year between Republicans and Democrats, the Bush administration's role will not be addressed until the Senate Intelligence Committee completes a further stage of its inquiry, but probably not until after the November election. As a result, said the officials, both Democratic and Republican, the committee's initial, unanimous report will focus solely on misjudgments by intelligence agencies, not the White House, in the assessments about Iraq, illicit weapons and Al Qaeda that the administration used as a rationale for the war.

The effect may be to provide an opening for President Bush and his allies to deflect responsibility for what now appear to be exaggerated prewar assessments about the threat posed by Iraq, by portraying them as the fault of the Central Intelligence Agency and its departing chief, George J. Tenet, rather than Mr. Bush and his top aides.

New York Times

What the hell? The deal is described as a "grudging compromise," meaning that the Senate-controlling Republicans rammed it down the Democrats throat. "If you want to investigate anything, it's going to be in such a way as to give president Bush a ready-made scapegoat and excuse, and we won't look into his administration's role in this deception until after he's (not) reelected."

Really appalling.

Errr.. Nevermind

Well, it appears that now the comments ARE working, with registration and all. So go ahead and register if you like and comment away.

Still, I'll probably try to switch software this weekend, due to the unputupwithable slowness.

Okay, back to the news, I promise.

July 7, 2004

Okay, I've had it. Moveable Type has got to go.

Comments are currently not working at all. Sorry about that, but all I was getting was comment spam anyway. I tried to configure the TypeKey service for comment registration, but that was more frustrating than I can possibly explain.

Anyway, for now no comments. This weekend Liz is out of town and I'll most likely switch to WordPress.

Thanks for your patience.

Administration Investigation Finds Administration Innocent

Remember a few months ago when we found out that administration officials had threatened a budget expert into not revealing the true cost of their Medicare bill until after it passed?

Well, the administration had conducted an internal investigation (whew!) and found that Richard S. Foster was indeed threatened with the loss of his job if he told Congress that the drug bill would cost far more than the White House was admitting.

Wow! That sounds pretty serious! There's got to be hell to pay for such an egregious display of intimidation and dishonesty in the passage of a major piece of legislation, huh?

Alas, no...

But neither the threat nor the withholding of information violated any criminal law, the report said. It accepted the Justice Department's view that Mr. Scully had "the final authority to determine the flow of information to Congress." Moreover, it said, the actuary "had no authority to disclose information independently to Congress."

New York Times

Said Representative Pete Stark (D-CA), "It sounds as though the Bush administration examined itself and found it did nothing wrong."

The man who did the threatening, Thomas A. Scully, is no longer working for the government. He's not having trouble finding work, though.

In recent weeks, Mr. Scully has registered as a lobbyist for major drug companies, including Abbott Laboratories and Aventis; for Caremark Rx, a pharmacy benefit manager; and for the American Chiropractic Association and the American College of Gastroenterology, among other clients. All are affected by the new Medicare law, which Mr. Scully helped write.

Dude! I can't believe we spaced on the freakin' signatures!

LAS VEGAS - Pro-pot activists in one of Nevada's 17 counties are a little out of joint.

It seems they forgot to file 6,000 petition signatures that could be a factor in whether a marijuana measure gets on a statewide ballot.

The measure would legalize possession of up to an ounce of pot. And June 15 was the deadline for turning in the petitions.

The oversight doesn't necessarily send the pot initiative up in smoke. But it does narrow the margin of error. Backers hope they'll still have enough signatures in other counties to qualify.

AZ Central

Via Hit and Run

July 6, 2004
John & John vs. George & Dick

It's official, it's John Edwards.

kerry announces edwards as running mate

I think this is a great choice. Edwards is a masterful speaker, he's from the South, and he's young. I'm really glad it wasn't Gephardt. I can't wait to see Edwards debate Dick "Go Fuck Yourself" Cheney.

With typical shameless hypocrisy, the Bush campaign is jumping all over this, attacking Kerry's choice and pointing out that Kerry said some not-so-nice things about Edwards during the primary campaign. To make this point, they're trotting out John McCain, describing him as Kerry's "first choice" for running mate. Funny that they would use John McCain in their campaign while criticizing Kerry for running with someone with whom he's had disagreements.

Hopefully most Americans' memories aren't quite that short.

July 5, 2004
Moveable Type 3

In other news, I went ahead and upgraded to Moveable Type 3. I started getting flooded with comment spam as soon as I removed the security code the other day, hopefully this will help. I haven't yet enabled the comment registration feature, but I probably will soon.

As of now you should notice no difference on the site, and frankly neither do I. The back-end user interface is a little slicker, and there are some additional comment features, but other than that it's still slow as hell and a bit irritating.

Fahrenheit 9/11 and Other Things Patriotic

Back from Reno and miraculously still semi-solvent. It was a close call, but we made it back both still wearing our shirts.

The miracle of money sucking that is the casino industry notwithstanding, we had a good time. Little sleep, much drink, good steaks.

On Friday night, we went to see Farhenheit 9/11. Much (much, much) has been written and said about this film. Here's a little more.

Overall, my feelings were mixed. There were parts I loved, parts I hated, parts that made me laugh, parts that made me cry, parts that made me angry and parts that made me itchy. There is no question that Moore occasionally takes some major liberties and several parts could easily be called misleading. (e.g. While he doesn't exactly say that the bin Laden family left while air space was still closed, he gives that impression. They left on the 13th, after our air space had been reopened, and several of them were questioned, albeit not nearly as thoroughly as they should have been.)

Some of his antics are just stunts, and while they make a point, they are a bit unfair. I'm thinking mostly of the scene -- a big laugh-getter -- in which he ambushes Congresspeople and asks them to sign up their kids to serve in Iraq. First, since when can parents enlist their kids in the military? Beyond that, it makes the point, but it's certainly not a nuanced argument.

That being said, the scene is part of a much more important point, and the most powerful message of the film: The yawning gap between those who make the decisions that cost our soldiers their lives (not to mention thousands of innocent Iraqis) and those whose who are doing all the sacrificing. It is a sad irony that it is often those who benefit the least from our society who sacrifice the most to defend it.

Towards the end of the film, Moore says:

They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is, remarkably, their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?

If I were in their position, I wouldn't trust us. There is no question that Moore is right, and there is no question that this war was not absolutely necessary. It wasn't even a little bit necessary.

The movie has many problems and is certainly not objective journalism by any standard (nor does it pretend to be). Still, I haven't heard any credible refutations of Moore's facts. There is footage in this film that every American should see. See it, make up your own mind, but see it.

Oh, and as for the "other things patriotic" we have the story of Bush's Independence Day speech.

"Our immediate task in battle fronts like Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere is to capture or kill the terrorists ... so we do not have to face them here at home," Bush told a cheering crowd outside the West Virginia Capitol. An enthusiastic audience estimated by state capitol police at 6,500 people waving American flags chanted, "Four more years."

Regarding Saddam, the deposed Iraqi president, Bush said: "Because we acted, the dictator, the brutal tyrant, is sitting in a prison cell."

Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president.


It's good to see that our president and his campaign have such a clear idea of what freedom means, particularly when it comes to politically inconvenient t-shirt wearers. As for Saddam's current residence being a result of decisive action, Bush is right, decisive action is critical to removing tyrants from power. Now it's our turn. We might not be able to get Bush thrown in jail, but we can at least get him out of office.

I'm not ruling our jail, but one thing at a time.

July 3, 2004
Biggest Little City


We're off to Reno for the weekend, to celebrate Independence Day, Freedom, and Gambling. Oh, and also a baby shower.

Be careful out there.

July 2, 2004
Excuses, Excuses
The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.

"Implementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating," wrote Thomas J. McIntyre, chief in the Justice Department's office for information requests.

Advocates for open government said the government's assertion that it could not copy data from its computers was unprecedented but representative of generally negative responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.

"This was a new one on us. We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them," Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity said Tuesday.

AP via SFGate

And get this: They estimate that the system will be fixed and ready to create copies (Copies! Are they not backing this stuff up now?!) by December. Wow! How conveniently post-November!

Via Political Animal.

Onion, I Kiss You

Oh, so sweet.

HEADLINE: I Should Not Be Allowed To Say The Following Things About America

As Americans, we have a right to question our government and its actions. However, while there is a time to criticize, there is also a time to follow in complacent silence. And that time is now.

It's one thing to question our leaders in the days leading up to a war. But it is another thing entirely to do it during the occupation of a country. Once the blood of young men starts to spill, it is our duty as citizens not to challenge those responsible for spilling that blood. We must remove the boxing gloves and put on the kid gloves. That is why, in this moment of crisis, I should not be allowed to say the following things about America:

Why do we purport to be fighting in the name of liberating the Iraqi people when we have no interest in violations of human rights—as evidenced by our habit of looking the other way when they occur in China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Syria, Burma, Libya, and countless other countries? Why, of all the brutal regimes that regularly violate human rights, do we only intervene militarily in Iraq? Because the violation of human rights is not our true interest here. We just say it is as a convenient means of manipulating world opinion and making our cause seem more just.

That is exactly the sort of thing I should not say right now.


True patriots know that a price of freedom is periodic submission to the will of our leaders—especially when the liberties granted us by the Constitution are at stake. What good is our right to free speech if our soldiers are too demoralized to defend that right, thanks to disparaging remarks made about their commander-in-chief by the Dixie Chicks?

When the Founding Fathers authored the Constitution that sets forth our nation's guiding principles, they made certain to guarantee us individual rights and freedoms. How dare we selfishly lay claim to those liberties at the very moment when our nation is in crisis, when it needs us to be our most selfless? We shame the memory of Thomas Jefferson by daring to mention President Bush's outright lies about satellite photos that supposedly prove Iraq is developing nuclear weapons.

At this difficult time, President Bush needs my support. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld needs my support. Vice-President Dick Cheney needs my support. It is not my function as a citizen in a participatory democracy to question our leaders. And to exercise my constitutional right—nay, duty—to do so would be un-American.

The Onion


By popular demand, I've removed the security code "feature" from my comments. The thinking is that it was responsible for all of these damn "Internal Server Errors" and that those, in turn, were responsible for the sad dearth of comments 'round here lately. Some close to this site and it's author have suggested that hordes of people are possibly dying to chime in, but are thwarted by technical difficulties.

So, it's gone. I'll start getting comment spam again, no doubt, but perhaps the errors will stop. It's equally likely that the errors will not stop, in which case my plan is bipartite: I will attempt to upgrade Moveable Type to version 3, and if that doesn't solve the problem, I will migrate this mess to some other publishing system.

To that end, I would appreciate reports on the functionality of my comments. Are you still getting errors all the damn time?

That is all. You may now resume your Bush hating.

July 1, 2004
Balance My Ass

Kevin Drum and Jesse Taylor on this absurd bit of tripe by Nick Anderson of the L.A. Times, in which Anderson compares the Bush campaign's use of Hitler in their ad to the Kerry campaign's use of a countdown to the election.

I have to go catch a bus, so just go read it here



"The Supreme Court accorded to terrorists, in a variety of cases this week, a number of additional rights," he said. "We're digesting those opinions in terms of making sure that we adjust or modify what we do, so that we accommodate the requirements as expressed by the Supreme Court."

Miami Herald (AP)

I'm sorry, excuse me Mr. Shithead, but are you saying that everyone being held at Guantanamo is a terrorist? Does the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" mean anything to you?

Keep in mind that this guy is the ATTORNEY GENERAL, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the country, and he apparently doesn't know the first thing about our justice system. The Supreme Court did not grant rights to terrorists, they affirmed the rights of the accused, you collosal dickwad.


Outfoxed, a new movie exposing the lies of Fox News and the dangers of Rupert Murdoch's empire, is aavailable, apparently only on DVD or at select screenings.

Watch the very tiny trailer and a bunch of clips.


Conservative activist group Focus on the Family has included Michael Moore's home address in their daily email to supporters.

Lovely. We don't like your movie and your politics, so we're sending an army of angry people to intimidate and potentially harm your family.

Well done.

Separation of Church & State, Schmeparation of Church & State

The Bush campaign has sent out a detailed set of instructions to religious volunteers, asking them to, among other things, "turn over church directories to the campaign" and "distribute issue guides in their churches."

The Washington Post has the story, and a PDF of the instruction sheet sent by the campaign.

Thinking of the Children

Ugh. Take a look at the full page ad ultra-conservative groups are running in key states before the upcoming Senate vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment. (That's the anti gay marriage amendment.)

ohio FMA ad

Text of the ad:

"Why Don't [Ohio] Senators DeWine and Voinovich Believe Every Child Needs a Mother and a Father?

"Unless the Senate passes the Federal Marriage Amendment, homosexual marriage could be coming to Ohio-and sooner than you think. Here's the bottom line: homosexual marriage intentionally creates fatherless families or motherless families. Think about it.

"Ohio's senators have said nice things about marriage. But so far they won't take the one step that will save it. They won't support the Federal Marriage Amendment. We thought you would like to know.

"Every child understands how important a mom and a dad are. Help make your senators as smart as a kid. Pick up the phone and tell their staffs you support the Federal Marriage Amendment, and they should too."

Human Rights Campaign

Does anyone really believe that these people are against gay marriage because they're worried about the children? If they're worried about children growing up right, maybe they could start funding education or something, or provide health care so kids can get vaccinations. Maybe we can teach our children to "love their neighbors" and stuff like that, instead of to be afraid of everything. Also note that this ad does not only disparage gays, but all single parents. These people are determined to drag our country back into the 19th century.

Please go to this site and give money or follow the links to contact your representatives.

Bah. This shit really pisses me off.


You may recall seeing president Bush and other members of his Group of Lying Bastards going on TV in the past couple of months and saying something like, "We are determined to get to the bottom of the Abu Ghraib scandal." (If it doesn't sound familiar, try replacing Abu Ghraib with "Abu Gareff" or some other pathetic mispronounciation)

Well, don't believe it. (Not that you did, I wouldn't insult your intelligence so.)

The New York Times is pissed about it, and so am I.

While piously declaring its determination to unearth the truth about Abu Ghraib, the Bush administration has spent nearly two months obstructing investigations by the Army and members of Congress. It has dragged out the Army's inquiry, withheld crucial government documents from a Senate committee and stonewalled senators over dozens of Red Cross reports that document the horrible mistreatment of Iraqis at American military prisons. Even last week's document dump from the White House, which included those cynical legal road maps around treaties and laws against torturing prisoners, seemed part of this stonewalling campaign. Nothing in those hundreds of pages explained what orders had been issued to the military and C.I.A. jailers in Iraq, and by whom.


The Pentagon has also not turned over to the Senate the full report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who conducted the Army's biggest investigation so far into abuses at Abu Ghraib. The Pentagon has still not accounted for the 2,000 pages missing from his 6,000-page file when it was given to the Senate Armed Services Committee more than a month ago; the missing pages include draft documents on interrogation techniques for Iraq. The committee's chairman, Senator John Warner, said last week that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had assured him that he was working on the problem. Mr. Warner's faith seems deeply misplaced.

Mr. Rumsfeld's handling of another issue, the Red Cross reports on Iraq, is the most outrageous example of the administration's bad faith on the prison scandal. The Bush administration has cited Red Cross confidentiality policies to explain its failure to give up the reports. The trouble is, the Red Cross has repeatedly told the administration to go ahead and share the agency's findings with Congress, as long as steps are taken to prevent leaks.

On May 7, the Senate armed services panel asked Mr. Rumsfeld for these reports on widespread abuse in the military prisons in Iraq; one of the reports had already appeared on the Internet. Mr. Rumsfeld assured the committee that he would turn them over, if the Red Cross agreed. Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides have not handed over the reports ? 40 in all, including 24 from Iraq. Over the weeks, the Pentagon has assured increasingly angry senators that it was negotiating with the Red Cross, and then offered the rather absurd claim that it was still "collecting" the documents.

In fact, the International Red Cross gave its consent within 24 hours of Mr. Rumsfeld's empty promise, and has repeated it several times.

[emphasis mine]

New York Times

John Kerry On...

The media has been carefully avoiding dealing with any of John Kerry's policy proposals with anything more than a passing gesture. Many Americans are running away from Bush but they don't feel like they know anything about Kerry, and aren't inspired to run towards him. The Republican Party conjured image of him as wishy-washy and unspecific is working to a large extent.

Naturally it's a bunch of crap. Courtesy of Liberal Oasis, some excerpts from a speech Kerry gave on Tuesday, highlighting actual issues.

On Minimum Wage and Living Wage

The minimum wage is the lowest it has been in America since Harry Truman was president in 1949 and we hear the same old arguments we've heard since 1949.

And every time we've passed an increase in the minimum wage, America's done better, notwithstanding those arguments.

When I'm president, the first thing we're going to do is start to raise that minimum wage to $7 an hour and allow people in America to be able to work and get out of poverty for the work that they do.

But it's not limited to minimum wage -- you've got to start talking about a living wage that so many mayors are beginning to talk about.

On Health Care as a Right

We're the only industrial nation in the world that doesn't yet understand health care is not a privilege for the wealthy or the elected or the connected.

It is a right for all Americans and we're going to make it available to all Americans.

And George Bush, he's had four years as president to offer leadership.

He doesn't even talk about it. He doesn't even have a fake plan, ladies and gentlemen, which is normally where they are. He has no plan.

And so we've got 44 million Americans who have no care and we have costs going up for everybody in the country?

I'm going to make certain we put in place the principle that that health care that senators and congressmen give themselves and you pay for -- it ought to be available to every American.

On Disenfranchising African-American Voters

Don't tell us that it's the best we can do [when] in the last election...2 million votes weren't even counted.

Don't tell us that, when voters who were duly registered and they turn up to vote and they find out that their names have been purged wrongly from the list, or when they show up to vote and they're told, we don't have you registered because the registry makes mistakes.

Don't tell us that people who are harassed and intimidated from going to the polls, something we thought we resolved in the 1960s and it still happens in the dawn of the 21st century?

We can do better, and we will do better this time.

On Unemployment and Underemployment

African-American unemployment is now at 10 percent, double the rate for whites.

In New York City, 18 up to 30, 50 percent, the African-Americans are unemployed. We can do better.

America's increasingly being underemployed. And while they're being underemployed, this administration's fight is not to create the new high-value added job that lifts people up.

This administration's fight, unconscionably and wrongly, is to try to reduce Americans' ability to win overtime pay.

And we're not going to lose a 40-hour work week in the United States of America.

On Economic Fairness

If you look at the share in America -- workers shares in America of the national income is at the lowest level in American history. That's just stunning.

I read that the other day and I just scratched my head, and I said, "What is going on?"?

And the spread between the haves and the have-nots is getting bigger.

There are more working poor in shelters today. There are more working poor. There are more homeless.

And you have to ask yourself: How can we be the richest country on the face of the planet and be pushing backwards against the right of an American worker to be able to actually do better in life?

On Investing in Children

It is long since time that we stopped being a nation content to spend $50,000 to $70,000 a year to house a young person in prison for the rest of their life.

Rather than invest $10,000 or $11,000 a year in Head Start, Early Start, Smart Start, after school programs, and give kids full citizenship for a lifetime.

On Education for Girls

Early on, too many kids are steered away from math and science by their teachers, by their parents, or by friends.

Too many are told, "Oh, you're not good at this" or "You're not good at that" or "It ain't the cool thing to do, so don't do it."

In fact, surveys show that in the fourth grade, girls and boys are actually equally interested in math and science.

But by time they get to the eighth grade, twice as many boys want to go into math and science careers. It's something that happens in the culture in between.

As president, I will give all Americans, especially women and minorities, the same encouragement, and we have to give it early on?

To get girls and minorities engaged in math and science, we're going to fund special programs in the middle school and the high school?

It's also time that we make a major effort to address the subtle discrimination and low expectations that cause too many young women to believe that math and science is somehow not for them.

As president, I intend to also support all-girls' schools designed specifically to prepare girls for careers in science and math.

On Optimism and Pessimism

This administration says this is the best economy of our lifetime. They say this is the best that we can do.

They have even called us pessimists because we dare to tell the truth about people in Appalachia.

We tell the truth about people who don't have health care.

We tell the truth about children being left behind.

We tell the truth about what's happening to seniors who can't afford prescription drugs and live on Social Security.

Well, I say the most pessimistic thing that you can say is that we can't do better in the United States of America.

Don't tell us that 2 million jobs lost is the best that we can do when we know that we can create millions of new jobs, and many of them we can create tomorrow if we would invest in our cities and our schools and our communities.

We could do better, and we will.


Amen, brother. Now please, for the love of god, do as you say.

Biden Goes Off

Joseph Biden (D - Delaware) from a an interview with Rolling Stone:

I was in the Oval Office the other day, and the president asked me what I would do about resignations. I said, "Look, Mr. President, would I keep Rumsfeld? Absolutely not." And I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, "Mr. Vice President, I wouldn't keep you if it weren't constitutionally required." I turned back to the president and said, "Mr. President, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are bright guys, really patriotic, but they've been dead wrong on every major piece of advice they've given you. That's why I'd get rid of them, Mr. President -- not just Abu Ghraib." They said nothing. Just sat like big old bullfrogs on a log and looked at me.


About six months ago, the president said to me, "Well, at least I make strong decisions, I lead." I said, "Mr. President, look behind you. Leaders have followers. No one's following. Nobody."

Rolling Stone


The president's paltry approval numbers of late are certainly giving some Democrats some balls. It would be really nice if more of them would tell it like it is no matter what the poll numbers were, but that's just a sweet, sweet dream.

Via Gadflyer.

Saddam in Court

Saddam Hussein was cleaned up and dragged into court today, where he was uncooperative. How surprising.

saddam on trial

Apparently he refused to admit that he had invaded Kuwait in 1990. It was all and illlllluuuuuusion.

The New York Times has more, including such gripping and salient details as this:

In another tape, cleared by the American military, a thin-faced Mr. Hussein was shown ? close-up ? rapidly blinking watery eyes, one of which appeared to twitch at one point. He scratched his head, or stroked his beard thoughtfully, when apparently listening to the judge.