9.29.2006

This is Scary...

The AP:

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is defending
President Bush's anti-terrorism tactics in multiple court battles, said Friday that federal judges should not substitute their personal views for the president's judgments in wartime.

He said the Constitution makes the president commander in chief and the Supreme Court has long recognized the president's pre-eminent role in foreign affairs. "The Constitution, by contrast, provides the courts with relatively few tools to superintend military and foreign policy decisions, especially during wartime," the attorney general told a conference on the judiciary at Georgetown University Law Center.

"Judges must resist the temptation to supplement those tools based on their own personal views about the wisdom of the policies under review," Gonzales said.

And he said the independence of federal judges, who are appointed for life, "has never meant, and should never mean, that judges or their decisions should be immune" from public criticism
Explain to me, please, why BushCo's spending billions of dollars a week trying to spread democracy to the Middle East while the very same people are trying so hard to end it in the United States?

Things that Make Me Nervous

So I got a hit from the Air Force's 355th Communications Squadron in Arizona today. I've gotten hits from military bases (and congress and other government institutions) before and the extent of my thoughts on that has always been 'my tax dollars at work.'

Given what's been going on in this country lately, it's rather unsettling. I know this is a public blog. I try not to put anything in it that the casual reader could use to identify me. But I doubt you'd even need a warrant (quaint thought, I know) to figure out who I was if you really wanted to know.

I'm not afraid that they're going to come haul me of to Gitmo for opposing BushCo's Global War On Terrortm and by extension supporting the terrorist agenda thus making me an enemy combatant, ensuring my inability to challenge the facts that lead to that conclusion.

(I'm more afraid I'm gonna get sued for plagiarism or copyright infringement or stealing' photographs or something like that...)

It just worries me that now my name is on a list somewhere. I already know that this blog has ruined my chances of ever running for office. Can you imagine the amount of stuff on here that any opponent would love to get hold of?

What has happened to America that I don't feel confident that my right to free speech will mean anything if certain people decide that my ideas aren't in line with theirs?

All Life Is Sacred*

Michael Kinsley, riffing on the "for conservatives, the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth" joke in today's Washington Post:

Bush, as we know, believes deeply and earnestly that human life begins at conception. Even tiny embryos composed of a half-dozen microscopic cells, he thinks, have the same right to life as you and I do. That is why he cannot bring himself to allow federal funding for research on new lines of embryonic stem cells or even for other projects in labs where stem cell research is going on. Even though these embryos are obtained from fertility clinics, where they would otherwise be destroyed anyway, and even though he appears to have no objection to the fertility clinics themselves, where these same embryos are manufactured and destroyed by the thousands -- nevertheless, the much smaller number of embryos needed and destroyed in the process of developing cures for diseases such as Parkinson's are, in effect, tiny little children whose use in this way constitutes killing a human being and therefore is intolerable.

But President Bush does not believe that the deaths of all little children as a result of U.S. policy are, in effect, murder. He thinks that some, while very unfortunate, are also inevitable and essential.
Because a six cell blastocyst that could one day be an American is more valuable than an Iraqi child? I'm just asking.
A commander in chief who must face life-or-death questions such as these deserves a bit of sympathy. I would sympathize more with Bush if his answers weren't so preening and struggle-free. It is wonderful to be so morally pure that you won't allow a single embryo to be destroyed in the quest for medical cures that could save lives by the thousands. You are way beyond Gandhi, sweeping the path ahead to avoid stepping on an insect: Insects have more human characteristics than a six-cell embryo.

And regarding Iraq you are quite the man, aren't you, "making the tough decisions." A regular Harry Truman, consigning thousands to death in order to bring democracy and freedom and peace to millions. But Truman actually produced democracy and freedom and peace, whereas you want credit for your hopes. That's not how it works. If you want to be the hard-ass, you get judged by results. And you can't be Gandhi and Truman at the same time.
Well, that's true only if the person watching FoxNews knows who both Gandhi and Truman are and what they did. And besides, what self respecting 'Muricin Republican would want to be like a Democrat and a foreigner?

As much sense as Mr. Kinsley is making, he's forgetting the most important fact: God told Bush to do it. That's why he's not troubled by lingering ethical questions. One doesn't need to worry when the highest arbiter of moral action told you to do it.

Right?


*May not apply in all cases.

Better Late than Never?

E.J. Dionne, Jr. has a good, though many months late op-ed piece in the Washington Post today.

Bill Clinton's eruption on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend over questions about his administration's handling of terrorism was a long time coming and has political implications that go beyond this fall's elections.

By choosing to intervene in the terror debate in a way that no one could miss, Clinton forced an argument about the past that had up to now been largely a one-sided propaganda war waged by the right. The conservative movement understands the political value of controlling the interpretation of history. Now its control is finally being contested.
Of course Democrats waited nearly FIVE FUCKING YEARS to do this. In that HALF A DECADE a lot of opinions became firmly set. The narrative has already been set and largely accepted.

There are signs of life (and signs of spines) in the Democratic party for the first time since I became politically aware. I wonder, is it too little too late?

There are a lot of Progressives so disillusioned with the Democratic Party that they talk about finding 'other ways' to work towards Progressive and Liberal ideals. I think that's foolish. We are where the Republicans were 30 years ago. We need to slowly change the Democratic party in the same (structural) way that the Republicans have in the last quarter century. We need to build a support structure, an information distribution arm, and we need to ensure that Democrats running for office from state level Representatives to President are strong Progressives. We're working towards that. (I hope.)

But what will America look like by the time we catch up?

Christian Threats of Violence

I never would have guessed that the judge in the Dover, Pennsylvania case striking down 'intelligent design' would have Christianists threatening to kill him. From the Witchita Eagle:

LAWRENCE, Kan. - A judge who struck down a Dover, Penn., school board's decision to teach intelligent design in public schools said he was stunned by the reaction, which included death threats and a week of protection from federal marshals.

Pennsylvania U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III told an audience in Lawrence Tuesday that the case illustrated why judges must issue rulings free of political whims or hopes of receiving a favor.

[...]

Jones didn't focus on that debate but instead discussed the fallout, which included the death threats and a verbal lashing from conservative pundits around the country.

He said much of the criticism showed a lack of understanding about the role of judges, who he said should rule based on the Constitution and legal precedence - not on personal whims or political favors.

Jones said many people expected him to rule differently because he is a longtime Republican and was appointed by President Bush.

"These criticisms point at something in the way that both the pundits and the public tend to perceive judges," he said. "It is false, it is debilitating and if unchallenged, I believe it will ultimately tear at the fabric of our system of justice in the United States."

People have a right to disagree with judges, particularly by filing appeals, but the level of debate needs to rise above personal attacks, he said.

"As we spend time, as we did in the Dover case, debating what to put in the science curriculum in our schools, we had better start paying attention to the curriculum of civics and government, as well as history," he said.
First, it's good to see a judge, especially a Bush appointee, standing up for an independent judiciary. He should be on Sunday morning talk shows, bringing that message to the people. Actually, if he's going to actually reach voters, he'd do better on Oprah.

That said, even if new guidelines for civics and government classes in public education were drawn up, they would be subject to the same underlying problem that forced John Jones to rule that science is science and religion is religion and the two shouldn't mix in publicly funded schools.

Forces on the Right are intolerant of anything presented in a public school with which they disagree. I can't imagine that any examination of civics and government drawn up by sane people could possibly do anything but enrage them.

My high school government class (I didn't have civics) was great. I spent a month learning (and reading) the Constitution. I read some of the Federalist Papers. My teacher, Miss Beaver, was great. We examined all three branches independently, throughout their history.

This was as Republicans were jockeying for the nomination in 2000. We discussed how these abstract ideas, some hundreds of years old, fit into modern politics. Miss Beaver was tremendously even handed. She had no agenda other than education. I credit her class, plus George W. Bush, as the reason why I'm a political junky.

This post is suffering subject drift.

When Pam wades into Freeper Land for "Actual Freeper Quotes" if the subject touches on education, there's always a comments encouraging parents to get their kids out of public schools, invariably called 'government schools' and into (presumably) a home-schooling situation.

Do we run the risk of having a generation of Americans of which a significant portion have a 'Madrasah' education?

Torture Bill

I havent' addressed the torture bill yet. I blog from the office, so I don't always get a chance for in-depth posts. Things have been busy here lately and I haven't felt like I could take the time and care that the subject demands.

A piece is coming. Look for it as a sort of 'Special Weekend Edition.'

9.28.2006

Citation du Jour

"When you spend nine to 10 months calling each other names, and when the person best at that wins, you get a Congress just as we have -- addicted to the kind of wedge-issue, name-calling politics that has people so fed up with the Congress."

- Washington U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick (R), quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
Respectfully stolen from The Political Wire.

Get Hannitized!

No, this doesn't mean washing your brain out with soap after watching FoxNews. Via The Politicker:

So here's an invitiation for a fund-raiser to be headlined this Friday by Fox News personality Sean Hannity on behalf of embattled Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia. (The "macaca" guy.)
The morality of campaigning for a racist bastard aside, what would the reaction be if Keith Olberman started campaigning for Russ Feingold? We could count on breathless reports on 'Fair & Balanced' FoxNews decrying the 'unAmericanism' of having a journalist campaigning for a candidate. Thousands of calls from activated Sheeple Cells would pour into MSNBC demanding that Olberman be fired.

Will any major media even mention this? My guess is no. Will thousands of liberals (and people with brains in general) call Fox demanding Hannity be fired? Nope.

The bumper sticker is true: If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

But nobody's paying attention.

9.27.2006

Religious Fundimentalist Resorts to Violence

In Wisconsin.

Via Wisconsin Gay News:

A discussion about gay marriage took a violent turn in the wee hours of Sep. 24 at a George Webb's restaurant in Wauwatosa. Some involved call the incident a hate crime according to WTMJ news. The entire incident was captured surveillance cameras.

[...]

It all started with a group of diners discussing gay marriage and the proposed same-sex marriage amendment on Wisconsin's November election ballot.

A lesbian named "Jorryn" says the debate got heated when a customer from another part of the restaurant came over and joined the gay marriage discussion.

She quoted him as saying, "It's never going to happen, it's never going to never going to pass in Wisconsin, and it's against God."

Then the argument got physical. Surveillance video shows the man, who had just joined the debate. He throws "Jorryn" down to the floor and then punches another customer. The suspect continued yelling, throwing chairs and punching people.

He walked out of the restaurant with some restaurant patrons thinking he was going to get a weapon. He returned to the restaurant, not with a gun, but throwing ketchup bottles and anything else he could get his hands on and then he left.
Witnesses got the guy's license plate number and the police have a suspect, though they haven't made an arrest.

One of the patrons required stitches to close cuts on his face.

I'm waiting for the Christian community to condemn this. My guess is the 'values voters' will be keeping me waiting for a long time.

Finder's Fee to Pam.

Bookstore Diplomacy

Ok, this is the last post (for today) on an article in the Washington Post:

Punch Lines for Pakistan's President
Jon Stewart Laughs It Up With Musharraf

By Libby Copeland
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 27, 2006; Page C01


The president of Pakistan has been in the United States lately to discuss matters of global importance and -- in his spare time -- to flog a memoir. Last night he appeared on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, where he demonstrated both a sense of humor and a deep desire to sell "In the Line of Fire," which, incidentally, is now available on Amazon.com for the low, low price of $16.80, plus shipping and handling.

[...]

Has it really come to this? In recent days, Musharraf has promoted his memoir, published Monday, on "Hannity & Colmes," "Today," "60 Minutes" and "Charlie Rose." He has engaged in long discussions of his country's foreign policy and endured the occasional moment of awkwardness in service to the greater good of book sales.

[...]

Book tours can benefit greatly from juicy details released in advance of publication, and this has proved no less true for Musharraf's book. Last week, it came to light that Musharraf claimed that former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage threatened to bomb his country "back to the Stone Age" if Pakistan did not cooperate in the war on terror. (Armitage has since denied making such a threat.)

Asked about the "Stone Age" quote at a news conference with Bush on Friday, the Pakistani president said he could not discuss his book before it came out, citing an agreement with his publisher.

"In other words, buy the book is what he's saying," Bush said.

Is there any publicity better than that? Of course -- Oprah.
I saw President Musharraf on the Daily Show last night. I thought he came off as very reasoned and very personable. He was a persuasive ambassador for his country.

With an eye to 'ping-pong diplomacy' in the past, I think we are entering a new era of direct diplomacy, with important officials from other countries bypassing (more accurately augmenting) traditional methods of building international relations via government institutions with direct appeals to populations outside of 'government' channels. Formal 'speeches' with flags and podiums and honored guests will still be important, but guest appearances on TV shows will be the new best way to reach people.

And why shouldn't nations appeal directly to the population, both of America and the world? Governments aren't the only institutions making investments in other countries. Either in the form of business ventures or as tourists, private citizens can have very profound impacts on nations, especially ones that may need to rework their images.

I realize that President Musharraf came to power in a coup d'├ętat. I realize that what elections have been held have been widely boycotted and that General Musharraf is advancing an agenda. I realize that his power has been enabled by exiling dissidents, critical newspaper editors, and uncooperative Supreme Court Justices. I'm interested in reading his book to see how much of that appears in its pages.

This is a beginning. I expect to see more appearances by diplomats, ambassadors, and even heads of state on American TV. Their books will appear on bookstore selves. I think it's a good thing. The more international views and opinions expressed the better. It is, however, important to remember that these new authors and guests are no different from government officials here in America. They're working their agenda and as media consumers we must be careful to realize that and take it into account when forming opinions.

Punishing the Victim: Constitutional Rights Edition

From today's Washington Post:

The House passed a bill yesterday that would bar judges from awarding legal fees to the American Civil Liberties Union and similar groups that sue municipalities for violating the Constitution's ban on government establishment of religion.

Though the bill would prevent plaintiffs from recovering legal costs in any lawsuit based on the Establishment Clause, House Republicans said during a floor debate that it was particularly aimed at organizations that force the removal of Nativity scenes and Ten Commandments monuments from public property.

"Liberal groups . . . scour the country looking to sue cities and states with any kind of religious display, regardless of how popular these displays are," said Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.). Because judges often require municipalities that lose such lawsuits to reimburse their opponents' legal fees, "citizens' precious monuments are being eroded with their own tax dollars," she added.

The bill, called the Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act, passed 244 to 173 on a mostly party-line vote.

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office, said the measure is "election-year red meat for the Christian right, because they've been complaining they haven't gotten enough from this Congress."
So let me get this straight: You can still sue to have something removed because it violates the Constitution, but if you win (that is it's found that the municipality is violating your Constitutional Rights) you don't get any compensation because... why?

Actually, it's not even compensation. It's just requiring the law breaker to cover your legal fees. Let's apply this to another crime. Large Corporation X has a patent on a machine that makes widgets. Small business starts making widgets with a machine that is pretty similar to the one patented by Large Corporation X. LCX wins the suit and... the small business stops but LCX still has to pay its own legal fees. That doesn't sound like something Republicans would endorse.

Granted, this bill is unlikely to pass the Senate and it was never meant to pass, just to placate the hungry Christianist masses, but still. Republicans wrote a law (and passed it) saying that if it's found that your Constitutional Rights are violated, you pay the fees.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. John N. Hostettler of Indiana. He claimed that ACLU, etc. were "profiteering" and trying "to remove every vestige of our religious heritage from public places."

No, John, they're not. They're trying to defend the Constitution, something you swore to do and failed.

Myth of the Moderate Republican

From Harold Meyerson's Op-Ed piece in today's Washington Post:

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island, is seeking reelection in his heavily Democratic state by insisting he's not really a Republican, or at least not part of the gang responsible for the decade's debacles. He didn't even vote for George W. Bush in 2004, he protests. He cast his vote for George H.W. Bush -- a kinder, gentler, more prudent, less strident Republican.

Big deal.

It matters not a damn whom Lincoln Chafee chose to support for president. His vote was one of roughly 435,000 cast in Rhode Island in the 2004 presidential election, and roughly 122 million cast nationwide. The election in which his vote did matter was that for majority leader of the Senate. There, he was one of just 100 electors, in a Senate nearly evenly divided. After this November's elections, control of the Senate may well hang by a single vote.
Mr. Meyerson is exactly right. The vote for Majority Leader is the most important vote any Senator will make because it will determine every other vote the Senator will make while in office. A two party system and a non-parliamentary system have left us in a situation where our democracy, particularly in the House and Senate, is set up so that 50% +1 has political power far greater than numbers justify. Having the majority (and with it committee chairs) allows a party to control the conversation. It allows the majority party to set the schedule, the agenda, and the pace. It allows the majority to protect members from votes that would be unpopular at home. (Read: Democrats in Red States)

Mr. Meyerson's point, that voting for any candidate that would hand over this power to the extremist wing of the Republican Party is foolish if you are looking for a candidate to moderate the course in Washington, is one to which many voters should pay attention. It illuminates the fact that national politics isn't about picking the candidate that you 'like' better but about picking the candidate that you think will have the impact you want in Washington.

The idea also works in reverse.

Though I haven't heard much of it lately, the Liberal Blogosphere has always rumbled about voting out Dems that cross party lines to vote with Republicans. There are calls to stop supporting candidate X because he/she voted this way on a certain bill. "Vote a third party to get 'turncoat X' out of congress!"

This is, of course, foolish.

While candidate X may vote for an odious bill once in a while, he/she will certainly NOT vote for a Republican for Majority Leader. Withdrawing our support from Democrat X may well result in Republican Y getting elected. You've now gone from a congressperson that voted with Republicans 5% of the time to one that votes with Republicans 100% of the time. Where's the victory in that?

I understand the arguments about presenting a party of strong ideals, principals that won't be compromised, and candidates willing to take a stand for what they believe in. This is important. But if expecting absolute, lock-step, party-line voting is going to cost Dems a seat, is it worth it?

Like all things, this is a nuanced subject. There can be no set rule about how much compromise is too much compromise. No number of votes or number of speeches demonizing Dems and lionizing Republicans signifies the tipping point of a Dem becoming a detriment to the party. (cough, cough, Joe Lieberman, cough) When those Democrats can be replaced in a primary with a Democrat with a good chance of winning the election, we should not hesitate to jump on the opportunity.

All I'm saying is that getting Democrats in Congressional Seats is the most important thing we can be doing right now.

9.26.2006

The MSM Missed This...

The AP via MSNBC.com:

U.S. fatalities in war exceed those from Sept. 11
Military deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan reach 2,974

Updated: 10:44 p.m. ET Sept. 22, 2006

WASHINGTON - Now the death toll is 9/11 times two.

U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now surpass those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America’s history, the trigger for what came next.

The latest milestone for a country at war came Friday without commemoration. It came without the precision of knowing who was the 2,974th to die in conflict. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

An Associated Press count of the U.S. death toll in Iraq rose to 2,696. Combined with 278 U.S. deaths in and around Afghanistan, the 9/11 toll was reached, then topped, the same day. The Pentagon reported Friday the latest death from Iraq, an as-yet unidentified soldier killed a day earlier after his vehicle was hit by a roadside bombing in eastern Baghdad.
And we're no safer than we were on September 10th, 2001. In fact we're in less safe. Grand.

Maryland Politics Gets Love Too

Despite the fact that I no longer live there, I pay more attention to Pennsylvania politics than I do Maryland politics. Maybe because it's because PA is a swing state. Maybe it's because I know more about Keystone State Politcs. Either way, here's some info on the state of national politics in the state in which I currently reside.

The Senate race, via the Baltimore Sun:

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is maintaining his lead over Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in the race for Maryland governor, a new poll for The Sun shows, having countered a barrage of critical commercials expected to intensify over the six weeks until Election Day.

Still, Ehrlich, a Republican seeking re-election, remains a popular figure in a state where Democrats outnumber the GOP by about 2-to-1. Voters give Ehrlich and O'Malley - both 40-something telegenic politicians - about equal marks on leadership and ability to move the state forward, suggesting that the contest could wind up very close.

O'Malley, a Democrat, has a 6-percentage-point lead among likely voters, 50 percent to 44 percent, about the same margin he held over the Republican incumbent in July. But it is a much smaller advantage than the double-digit leads he held last year before Ehrlich began campaigning in earnest.
The Governor's Race, also from the Baltimore Sun:
With a down-to-the-wire primary behind him, Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin enters the U.S. Senate general election contest with an 11-point lead over his rival, Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, according to a new poll for The Sun.

Six weeks before the November vote, Cardin leads Steele, 51 percent to 40 percent, according to the statewide survey of 815 likely voters. But with Republican and Democratic parties expected to flood the state with money and appearances in the weeks to come, the race remains volatile.
So there you go. Steele is doing better among African Americans than your average (white) Republican would do, but both races have Democrats leading.

Maryland politics is actually pretty similar to Pennsylvania politics. There's a Baltimore node, a DC suburbs node, and the rural remainder. PA has the Philly node, the Pittsburgh node, and a somewhat larger rural remainder.

Now nobody can say that Maryland didn't get it's fair share.

Fueling Political Debate

Via the AP:

There is no mystery or manipulation behind the recent fall in gasoline prices, analysts say. Try telling that to many U.S. motorists.

Almost half of all Americans believe the November elections have more influence than market forces. For them, the plunge at the pump is about politics, not economics.

Retired farmer Jim Mohr of Lexington, Ill., rattled off a tankful of reasons why pump prices may be falling, including the end of the summer travel season and the fact that no major hurricanes have disrupted Gulf of Mexico output.

"But I think the big important reason is Republicans want to get elected," Mohr, 66, said while filling up for $2.17 a gallon. "They think getting the prices down is going to help get some more incumbents re-elected."

According to a new Gallup poll, 42 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the Bush administration “deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall’s elections.” Fifty-three percent of those surveyed did not believe in this conspiracy theory, while 5 percent said they had no opinion.
And the kicker is that a third of those who thought Bush was playing politics with gas prices were Republicans.

The anti-conspiracy theorist in me says that Bush isn't raising and lowering gas prices the same way he did the Homeland Security's color coded 'Terror Alert Level' in 2004. Then again, it is awfully convenient for this to be happening now.

Perhaps the thing that alarms me most isn't that Bush is rigging gas prices - or even that he thinks lowering gas prices might help him get Republicans elected - it's that it works. With all the problems and questions facing America today, the best way to placate the masses is to give them cheap gas. 21st century bread and circuses, I suppose...

More Racism in Allen's Past.

I'm just as un-shocked as you are. From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 — Two acquaintances of Senator George Allen of Virginia said today that he had used racially inflammatory language in the 1970's and 1980's, compounding allegations of racial insensitivity that have dogged his re-election campaign since he referred to a young Indian-American as "macaca" a few weeks ago. Mr. Allen said he had never used the language attributed to him by the acquaintances.

Christopher Taylor, an anthropology professor at Alabama University in Birmingham, Ala., said that in the early 1980's he heard Mr. Allen use an inflammatory epithet for African Americans. Mr. Taylor, who is white and was then a graduate student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said the term came up in a conversation about the turtles in a pond near Mr. Allen’s property. According to Mr. Taylor, Mr. Allen said that "around here" only the African Americans — whom he referred to by the epithet — "eat 'em."
Anybody who still thinks this guy is anything but a racist bigot is being willfully ignorant. I want a list of Republicans that have endorsed Allen. They need to be called out on this. Now that it's known that Allen is a racist, do they still endorse him for Senate?

On the Cover of Newsweek

As usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short.

This has been reported in numerous places yesterday, but I thought I'd throw it up here too, if just to give my take on it.

The reason for the changed cover in America is the super market check out line. People who have subscriptions to Newsweek have already paid for their issue and the cover with the Afghanistani man with the RPG would have made no difference. It's the impulse buy at the check out line where Annie Leibovitz and her dealings with movie stars become a better draw than a failed American Policy.

[Note: I have nothing against Annie Leibovitz and have nothing against a piece on her in Newsweek. I don't even have anything against her appearing on the cover of Newsweek. If anything, I think it's a good thing. While our nation drifts away from art in both everyday life and in education, any article that exposes people to artists is a good thing - even if they have to use celebrities to sell it.]

This isn't about media companies sterilizing news for the benefit of the Bush Administration. (I hope.) This is about the consumer. This is about Americans not wanting to read about their own failures - a sort of self censorship.

I don't know how long Americans can go without acknowledging that they voted into office (at least once) an administration that has utterly failed at everything it's attempted except lowering taxes and gutting environmental laws. Can Americans continue to take a 'head in the sand' attitude about this forever? When Americans do wake up to a world they don't recognize anymore, will there be consequences? Will it sour Americans to all politics? Only Republicans? Will Rove manage to get people to blame this on Hillary Clinton? (She is Lucifer...)

The point here is not that American media companies don't want to report news, it's that American consumers don't want to read it. Think about it: There are plenty of serious, in-depth news publications. They have low circulation numbers. Then there's Time and Newsweek.

As bloggers and blog-readers, we are some of the most informed and most demanding media consumers. We take our news and our information very seriously. But we're a minority. Until the rest of the country wants to read about our failures, nothing will change.


PA Politics - Blue and Getting Bluer UPDATED

A new Quinnipiac poll is out for Pennsylvania and the results show that Pennsylvanians haven't lost their minds:

Democratic State Treasurer Robert Casey Jr. has regained his momentum in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race and now leads incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. RickSantorum 51 - 39 percent among likely voters, with 4 percent for Green party candidate Carl Romanelli and 5 percent undecided, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Republicans back Sen. Santorum 77 - 17 percent, while Democrats back Casey 85 - 8 percent and independent voters back the Democrat 56 - 31 percent. In this survey,
17 percent of likely voters who name a candidate say they still might change their mind.

[...]

"Sen. Rick Santorum's comeback momentum has been stopped dead in the water. Santorum's attack ads against Casey have failed to spark voters' support, and 50 percent of voters say the Senator does not deserve re-election," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Quinnipiac's last poll had Santorum trailing by only 6 points, 48% to 42%.

All the trends are against Santorum. Bush is strongly disliked in Pennsylvania, his approval rating is only 38%. Pennsylvanians don't like Santorum personaly either. The Senator's approval rating is even lower at 35%. In addition, Rick Santorum's family lives in Virginia.

In general, things look good for Democrats in Pennsylvania

According to a Rasmussen Reports survey the Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, Lynn Swann, is trailing significantly. Ed Rendell, the incumbent, leads Swann 56% to 36%. Swann actually polled ahead of Rendell in the begining of the year.

In south eastern PA, in the suburbs of Philly, a Temple University/Philadelphia Inquirer poll has shown that strong disapproval of President Bush is affecting House races in the area:
"The Bush effect -- strongest in the southeast region -- is acting as a drag on Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, and tugs at GOP House incumbents in suburban Philadelphia, who are locked in three of the nation's most competitive races."

[...]

The Temple/Inquirer Poll asked respondents to rate their feelings toward candidates for Senate and governor on a scale of zero to 10.

Twenty-four percent of likely voters gave Santorum a zero, far more than any other candidate. Democrats were the most hostile, but 51 percent of independents rated Santorum below 5 - and 26 percent of these voters gave him a zero.

[...]

People who said they disapproved of Bush's performance were much more likely to indicate they would vote Democratic in House races, the poll found, a sign that GOP House members are tied in part to the president. Fifty-eight percent said they disapproved of the way Bush is doing his job, while 42 percent said they approved.

Republicans hold the three House seats outside Philadelphia - the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Districts - and the Democratic candidates are considered competitive in each race. Together, the two major parties have reserved $16.1 million worth of TV advertising time in the Philadelphia market for House candidates in the last month of the campaign.
I miss all of the good campaign ads I used to see in Pennsylvania. Here in Maryland, they just assume you'll vote Democratic so they don't bother to buy air time. Sometimes we get ads from Virginia races. The Republican ads there are utterly contemptible and I don't even get satisfaction of voting against them...

UPDATE: 10:22 am

The Washington Post reports that the Green Party, which gathered signitures with Republican money and Republican staffers, will not be on the ballot:
HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 25 -- A judge said Monday that he will remove the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate from the November ballot because the party did not have enough valid signatures in its nominating petitions.

Carl Romanelli's candidacy for the Pennsylvania seat had been challenged by state Democrats. Romanelli's bid was backed by Sen. Rick Santorum (R), who hoped that Romanelli could siphon votes from his Democratic opponent, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr.

[...]

Commonwealth Court Judge James R. Kelley ruled that Romanelli, a railroad industry consultant from Wilkes-Barre, was 8,931 signatures shy of the 67,070 he needed to qualify as a minor-party candidate.
In general, I'm in favor of having as many parties and as many candidates running as possible. More views, more positions and more options is always good for voters. It allows them to have more than two colors to express themselves.

This, however, wasn't what was going on here. This was an effort by one candidate to 'double up' on the ballot.

9.25.2006

Bush Intelligence Estimate (No, not His Intelligence)

Haven't we been saying this for over a year? From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.
Here's what George W. Bush had to say to Wolf Blitzer on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" the day after the NYT released their story. C&L has the video, here's the transcript:
BLITZER: Let's move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war, if not already a civil war…. We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there's a strong will for democracy. (emphasis mine)
Interesting riff on the Evangelical phrase "Don't see a period where God put a comma."

When will the chasm between Bush's rhetoric and reality become to wide to cross? I guess we'll wait and see...

I Never Would Have Guessed

Via Salon.com:

Three former college football teammates of Sen. George Allen say that the Virginia Republican repeatedly used an inflammatory racial epithet and demonstrated racist attitudes toward blacks during the early 1970s.

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."

A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said.

A third white teammate contacted separately, who also spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of being attacked by the Virginia senator, said he too remembers Allen using the word "nigger," though he said he could not recall a specific conversation in which Allen used the term. "My impression of him was that he was a racist," the third teammate said.
Raise your hand if you're surprised.

Nobody?

That's what I thought. And think! People actually thought this asshat would be president.

9.24.2006

Should This be Us?

Ariel Dorfman's editorial in The Washington Post is a must read. Excerpt:

It still haunts me, the first time -- it was in Chile, in October of 1973 -- that I met someone who had been tortured. To save my life, I had sought refuge in the Argentine Embassy some weeks after the coup that had toppled the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, a government for which I had worked. And then, suddenly, one afternoon, there he was. A large-boned man, gaunt and yet strangely flabby, with eyes like a child, eyes that could not stop blinking and a body that could not stop shivering.

That is what stays with me -- that he was cold under the balmy afternoon sun of Santiago de Chile, trembling as though he would never be warm again, as though the electric current was still coursing through him. Still possessed, somehow still inhabited by his captors, still imprisoned in that cell in the National Stadium, his hands disobeying the orders from his brain to quell the shuddering, his body unable to forget what had been done to it just as, nearly 33 years later, I, too, cannot banish that devastated life from my memory.
Go read the entire piece.

9.22.2006

"Blessed are the Peace Makers?"

Right, RIGHT?

A liberal church in California under investigation for a sermon speaking out against the war. Apparently, this sermon, a few days before the 2004 sermon, is endangering the Church's non-profit status. From Gay.com:

Under federal tax law, church officials can legally discuss politics, but to retain tax-exempt status, they cannot endorse candidates or parties. Most who do so receive a warning.

According to the IRS, the only church ever to be stripped of its tax-exempt status for partisan politicking was the Church at Pierce Creek near Binghamton, N.Y., which was penalized in 1995 after running full-page newspaper ads against Bill Clinton during the 1992 election season.
It doesn't seemt to me that any specific candidate was endorsed. (Both candidates, Kerry and Bush, would have continued the War in Iraq.) On top of that, this doesn't seem to be a case where the church spoke out against something outside the scope of their theology. Matthew 5:9 is pretty clear.

I'm not in favor of increased politics in the pulpit (at least if I'm going to continue to subsidize the pulpit with tax exemptions) but I do think that some degree of fairness is needed. The Church, All Saints Church in Los Angeles, did not endorse a candidate, provide a membership list to a political party, encourage monetary donations, or allow political organizing within the church.

That said, if the only church that's threatened with loss of tax exempt status is a liberal one, I'm going to raise holy hell. Pun intended.

Friday Link Dump

Today work is going to keep me from being able to post. Besides, it's Friday.

Pat Robertson predicts "holy war between Christianity and Islam."

Is an official state religion is slowly creeping into the United States?

Shock! Young voters biggest concern is the War in Iraq. Almost half want out right now.

The crazy guy with guns at the capitol wasn't actually chased down and subdued by the Capitol Police (as earlier reported) but a by three guys from the capitol flag shop...

And all that hoopla over McCain, et al standing up to Bushco? The end result is that McCain's 'moderate' credentials are polished and the abuse can continue.

9.21.2006

Hypocritical Mother F*ckers.

From the Washington Post:

President Bush's supporters in the House narrowly defeated yesterday efforts to sidetrack his proposal for questioning and prosecuting terrorism suspects, but the issue continues to divide Congress in its final workdays before the November elections.

In an afternoon animated by switched votes, parliamentary gymnastics and protest cries from Democrats, the House Judiciary Committee barely managed to reject a rival proposal and endorse the administration's version of the legislation. Even if the chamber takes up the bill next week -- its last scheduled period of action before the elections -- the matter remains mired in the Senate, where a majority opposes the White House approach.
Ok, all well and good. Political maneuvering on a bill that won't pass anyway. Business as usual for the 'Do Nothing Congress.'
Even if the full House passes the measure next week, it may prove difficult or impossible to reconcile matters with the Senate. Warner and his allies pushed their bill through the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, and they are backed by a majority of senators. But they apparently lack the votes to fend off a threatened filibuster by pro-Bush forces, including Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
What? A FILIBUSTER? What happened to 'an up or down vote' you disingenuous halfwits? Did you not expect us to notice that a number of months ago you were telling us that filibusters were unConstitutional and that they were tearing our Republic apart so rapidly that only gay people might do it first?

And don't give me that 'we only meant it for judges' cow flop. You're just breathless opportunists. There are rules for everybody else, but you just do what comes natural.

And let me get this straight: You're going to filibuster a bill saying that the U.S. should NOT engage in torture. You're filibustering IN FAVOR of torture. I'm absolutely sure this won't end up looking like Strom Thurmond filibustering in favor of segregation. Really, I'm sure that in 20 years people will look back and say, 'Thank god those principled men stood up for our right to pull people's fingernails off with pliers and attach electrodes to their testicles.' Really. You should be proud of yourselves, groveling at the feet of the President.

I defer to Jon Stewart. I hope that your filibuster actually requires you to talk for hours on end and I hope that you fill that time describing, in detail, exactly what you think is appropriate for the United States to do to prisoners. Just describe water boarding. And stress positions. Tell us exactly how the CIA operations will go about causing agony 'short of organ failure' to make us safe.

If you want us to be the good-guys in the world - if you want the rest of the world to acknowledge us as the good-guys and treat us as the good-guys - you have to ACT LIKE FUCKING THE GOOD-GUYS!

Local News, Wingnut Press

Thanks Pam, for pointing out something taking place in my back yard that made it into the Agape Press:

Maryland County's Sex-Ed Material Not Yet Out of the Woods

CAUTION...This story contains terms that some may find offensive


By Jim Brown
September 19, 2006


(AgapePress) - A group that sued Maryland's largest school system over its controversial sex-education curriculum is applauding some proposed changes to the new curriculum and raising concerns about others.

Last year a federal judge issued an order blocking implementation of the Montgomery County, Maryland, sex-ed program. Michelle Turner is president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, one of the two groups that filed a successful lawsuit alleging the program denigrated conservative religious beliefs about homosexuality and contained misinformation about health risks posed by condom use.

[...]

"We're running into some concerns with the written part of the curriculum," Turner adds. "There still seems to be an interest on the part of the school system to introduce anal and oral sex."

According to Turner, liberal groups are still pushing for condom-based, homosexuality-affirming sex-ed in the classroom. For example, groups like the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and "Teach the Facts" want the county's new sex-education program to include discussion of anal and oral sex, she says. But if the changes advocated by those two groups are adopted, the citizens group leader contends the district may be in violation of the terms of last year's court-ordered settlement.

"It all depends on whether or not they are introducing homosexuality and homosexual acts and the homosexual lifestyle without telling students that it is possible to leave the lifestyle -- and that there are agencies and organizations that can assist with that," she says.
And yes, that big red warning was in the article.

It wasn't to long ago that I was in high school. I went to high school in Pennsylvania. The community was much more conservative than Montgomery County. The high school was literally right next to a cow field. When the wind blew just so, you knew it. And in that idyllic, pastoral version of the American High School, oral sex was something beyond common.

Montgomery County's sex ed program wants to address oral sex? GOOD! Most students (yes, most) are doing it. That's the facts on the ground. Students should know the risks and how to address them. And while I'm guessing anal sex is less pervasive, those who are having it should know what precautions to take.

That means condoms. I have yet to understand why schools shouldn't encourage condom use for students having sex. Do 'Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum' want students to end up pregnant or with STDs?

I would argue that they do. They want young people, especially women, punished for their sins. If that means they end up pregnant or infected, that's God's righteous punishment for sins of the flesh.

Vengeful Christianists aside, since when is oral sex (or anal sex for that matter) a 'homosexual act?' The sex lives of these people must be terrible. I mean, hell, if you want to wait until you're married, that's your business, but really! Not having oral sex because it's 'gay' is ridiculous. Can you say repression?

'Married and Missionary Only' efforts are the main thrust (ha!) of Agape's article, but the most alarming part is this:
"Last year a federal judge issued an order blocking implementation of the Montgomery County, Maryland, sex-ed program. Michelle Turner is president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, one of the two groups that filed a successful lawsuit alleging the program denigrated conservative religious beliefs about homosexuality and contained misinformation about health risks posed by condom use." Emphasis mine.
I have no evidence, but I'm guessing Montgomery County didn't write "thinking that sex is bad and that homosexuality is wrong is a foolish opinion held only by mindless twits stuck in the 18th century" into the curriculum. Presenting facts about practices the student population is engaging in IS NOT denigrating conservative religious beliefs.

It's frightening how successful mindless twits stuck in the 18th century have been in having any mention of something they find 'icky' removed from school curriculums.

Are these people afraid that their children will somehow discover that their parents have been keeping them in the dark all their lives? Are these people so afraid of their children thinking for themselves that they don't even want their children exposed to 'ungodly' ideas? If you're any sort of decent parent, your kid can go to school, hear that condoms are incredibly effective at preventing both disease and pregnancy, then come home and you, the parent, can explain to him or her that 'our family's religious beliefs teach us that even if the sex is 'safer' it should still be saved for marriage.'

Just because a kid knows what a condom is doesn't mean that he or she is going to start having sex! Knowing that there are homosexuals in the world doesn't turn a kid into one.

Luckily Montogomery County won't ever accept a 'abstinence only' approach to sex ed. There are lots of places that would. The kids living there are no less deserving of the facts than kids here in the rather progressive suburbs of D.C. Every time a young person who never had access to the information they needed ends up pregnant or with an STD, it's on the heads of people like Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum.

9.20.2006

Proof Malkin is Incapable of Thought

From Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory:

Michelle Malkin is extremely upset because three convicted Christian terrorists in Indonesia are going to be executed despite -- in Michelle's words -- "grave doubts raised over the fairness of the trial." The title of her post is "Muslims will execute Christians" -- by which she means that the Government of a predominantly Muslim country will execute three defendants who happen to be Christian, because they also happen to have been convicted in a trial in an Indonesian court of law "of masterminding a massacre of 200 Muslims in Poso."

Michelle favorably links to this article from Asia News which reports -- and I'm not making this up -- that the lawyers for the three convicted Terrorists:
"will take their case before the International Criminal Court in Geneva, as per a human rights convention ratified by Jakarta, to safeguard the three men’s right to life and to denounce irregularities of Indonesian trials."
...I thought (from having read Michelle's blog) that people who were concerned about due process for Terrorists are themselves pro-terrorists. I wonder what it is about this case that makes Michelle and Gateway Pundit so concerned for the Rights of Terrorists when normally they mock those who express such concern? What's different here? Do Malkin and her comrades want to protect terrorists more than innocent people? Sure seems that way. And just look at how brutal and inhumane Muslims are -- convicting people of terrorism despite evidentiary irregularities in their trial. That is the Evil we are battling in our War of Civilizations.

Maybe the U.S. Government could intervene on behalf of the convicted Terrorists and insist that even accused terrorists have the right to a fair trial and due process, and that it is inhumane and barbaric to impose the death penalty after convicting them of terrorism without first giving them a trial free of any irregularities. A fair trial prior to execution is, after all, a universal value -- even for Terrorists.
I spent nearly five minutes sputtering, utterly stupified, by the willful ass-hattery of Michelle Malkin.

Maybe I'm the one who's weird. I mean, I am the only one that expects logical consistency? I'm a reasonable person. I'm prepared to accept (and even admit) a bit of cognitive dissonance every now and again, but this is mindblowing.

I guess this means they've won. No, seriously. If they can say that the sky is green one day and that it's red the next and none of their followers call them on it (don't even notice?) it means that they've successfully divorced their audience from both reason and reality. They are now unreachable.

Go read the entire post at Unclaimed Territory.

Look at Me! Look at Me!

Robert J. Samuelson's column in today's Washington Post:

Call it the ExhibitioNet. It turns out that the Internet has unleashed the greatest outburst of mass exhibitionism in human history. Everyone may not be entitled, as Andy Warhol once suggested, to 15 minutes of fame. But everyone is entitled to strive for 15 minutes -- or 30, 90 or much more. We have blogs, "social networking" sites (MySpace.com, Facebook), YouTube and all their rivals. Everything about these sites is a scream for attention. Look at me. Listen to me. Laugh with me -- or at me.

This is no longer fringe behavior. MySpace has 56 million American "members." Facebook -- which started as a site for college students and has expanded to high school students and others -- has 9 million members. (For the unsavvy: MySpace and Facebook allow members to post personal pages with pictures and text.) About 12 million American adults (8 percent of Internet users) blog, estimates the Pew Internet & American Life Project. YouTube -- a site where anyone can post home videos -- says 100 million videos are watched daily.

[...]

The blogosphere is often seen as mainly a political arena. That's a myth. According to the Pew estimates, most bloggers (37 percent) focus on "my life and personal experiences." Politics and government are a very distant second (11 percent), followed by entertainment (7 percent) and sports (6 percent). Even these figures may exaggerate the importance of politics. Half of bloggers say they're mainly interested in expressing themselves "creatively."

[...]

The larger reality is that today's exhibitionism may last a lifetime. What goes on the Internet often stays on the Internet. Something that seems harmless, silly or merely impetuous today may seem offensive, stupid or reckless in two weeks, two years or two decades. Still, we are clearly at a special moment. Thoreau famously remarked that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Thanks to technology, that's no longer necessary. People can now lead lives of noisy and ostentatious desperation. Or at least they can try.
I'd like to thank the Washington Post for searching all possible subjects for an editorial and having the courage to select the one that raises the tough questions, addresses pressing issues, and challenges Americans and the American government to strive for a better future.

I'm certain that the reason that this blog-bashing editorial was selected had nothing to do with the falling market share that print media is facing as the internet becomes more and more the go-to source for information.

It is, however, interesting to note that more people blog about politics than about sports. I see that as a sign of a reawakening of citizenship in the United States - even if 0.8% of all internet users blog about politics.

Tucker Carlson = Racist

Via Media Matters:

On the September 18 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson called S.R. Sidarth, a volunteer with the campaign of Virginia Democratic Senate challenger Jim Webb, "[t]hat whiny little kid." On August 11, Sen. George F. Allen (R-VA), Webb's opponent, was caught on tape addressing Sidarth as "Macaca" and saying to him: "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Macaca is a genus of monkey and is also reportedly a slur used in Europe and North Africa against people of African descent; Sidarth is of Indian descent, but he was reportedly born and raised in Virginia.

As Media Matters for America noted, Allen has engaged in behavior in the past that has resulted in accusations that he has what The New Republic has called a "race problem." Yet Carlson said that if Allen "loses because he called this kid 'Macaca,' that's got to be the worst possible reason to lose a race." Carlson asked people who were "gonna vote against George Allen" because of the "Macaca" incident to "[p]lease, have some dignity," and repeatedly stated of the issue: "Who cares?" On the August 24 edition of Tucker, Carlson also stated, "He's not calling [Sidarth] a widely recognized racist term. ... I've never even heard that word before." He then asked, "[W]ho cares?"
Media Matters has video and the transcript.

Here's the thing: The only possible reason why Tucker wouldn't care about having a racist like Allen in the Senate is if he agrees with the Senators sentiments.

Being a racist and refering to an American born citizen as a 'monkey' and a racial epithet isn't a good reason not to vote for someone? Not wanting somebody in government that thinks that people who look different couldn't possibly understand what the 'real America' is isn't a good reason? How about just not wanting to elect a bully that would grossly insult a young man who was quietly going about doing his job for having skin darker than your lily-white ideal?

And speaking of victim-blaming, if I recall, S.R. Sidarth never actually said anything. I haven't seen him on TV talking about the incident. I don't even recall Sidarth asking for an apology, though when he got a rather disingenuous one, he was skeptical.

Tucker, you're calling for voters to 'have some dignity' and vote for a racist. How about calling on Senators to NOT BE RACISTS!

And while we're dealing in personal attacks like 'whiny little kid' I'll ask you how it feels to be the first "star" kicked off "Dancing with the Stars." I guess that makes you a 'stone-footed bungling oaf.'

9.19.2006

The Next Conservative - Progressive Battleground

You heard it here first. Via The Book Standard:

The New York Times' legendary bestseller lists, whose influence in the book community is unmatched, have expanded once again to a new category: politics. But as with many political-related newspaper offerings these days, this list is strictly Web-only.

You won’t find the new politics bestseller tally in the print edition of Sunday's New York Times Book Review. The line-up is only being posted on the Web site's book section, along with the paper's other bestseller lists.

The political bestseller list was created along with the Times' new political blog, "The Caucus," which launched earlier this month, according to Kate Phillips, who oversees the blog. The bestseller choices are based on the same formula as the paper's other book lists, and compiled by Times Bestseller List Editor Deborah Hofman.
"Our book is ranked higher than your book" trolling is sure to be the next growth industry in partisan bickering.

The first list?
1. State of Emergency, Patrick J. Buchanan (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Press)

2. Fiasco, by Thomas E. Ricks. (The Penguin Press)

3. The World Is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

4. The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright. (Knopf)

5. Dispatches From The Edge, by Anderson Cooper. (HarperCollins)

6. Godless, by Ann Coulter. (Crown Forum)

7. A Heckuva Job, by Calvin Trillin. (Random House)

8. The One Percent Doctrine, by Ron Suskind. (Simon & Schuster)

9. Conservatives without Conscience, by John W. Dean. (Viking)

10. The Shia Revival, by Vali Nasr. (Norton)

11. Without Precedent: The Inside Story of The 9/11 Commission, by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton.

12 Take This Job And Ship It, by Byron L Dorgan. (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Press)
Hell, all they need is a Red vs. Blue box score at the end to keep track of who's winning...

It was just a question, George...

Virginia Senator Georgie Allen can't quite keep it together. From the Washington Post:

At a debate in Tysons Corner yesterday between Republican Allen and Democrat Webb, WUSA-TV's Peggy Fox asked Allen, the tobacco-chewing, cowboy-boot-wearing son of a pro football coach, if his Tunisian-born mother has Jewish blood.

"It has been reported," said Fox, that "your grandfather Felix, whom you were given your middle name for, was Jewish. Could you please tell us whether your forebears include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?"

Allen recoiled as if he had been struck. His supporters in the audience booed and hissed.

[...]

Citing reports about his "possible Jewish ancestry," Fox questioned Allen's past denial that his mother is Jewish.

"I'm glad you all have that reaction," Allen said to the audience as people jeered the questioner. Allen lectured Fox about the importance of "freedom of religion and not making aspersions about people because of their religious beliefs."

[...]

Allen, surrounded by cameras and microphones after the event, hadn't cooled down. "What do you mean, 'make me so angry'?" he demanded angrily when asked why Fox's query had made him so angry.

"To make whatever sort of comment that was, you just don't judge people by their ethnicity or their religion," Allen said, fuming that Fox would "drag my mother into this." The senator said his mother was the one who taught him about tolerance.
Taught George Mo' Caucasian than you' Allen about tolerance? You watch and decide for yourself.



This guy won't be president even if he manages to win reelection to the Senate. He won't be able to hide the fact that he's a whackjob when subjected to the scrutiny of a Presidential campaign. Still, the more he spouts off, the better our chances for a Democratic pick up in Virginia.

Santorum's Tantrum

Via E&P:

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., report that Santorum, who trails Democrat Robert Casey in most polls, referred to his "rocky relations with the press" as he moved from room to room to attend regional caucuses earlier at a GOP state committee meeting in a hotel in East Pennsboro.

Later he refused to talk when a Patriot-News reporter, Brett Lieberman, approached with a question about Iran -- and again complained about what he called biased coverage.

"I have to raise tens of millions of dollars because of the junk you feed the people of Pennsylvania," he said, according to the paper. It added that he "then used an expletive to describe the coverage and slammed down a newspaper."
I grew up getting the Patriot News. My best friend was a paperboy for them before he was downsized in favor of an all-adult, car-driving delivery system. My parents still get the Patriot. I attempt to read it every time I go home.

I am very rarely successful unless I confine myself to the sports page. The conservative leanings are hard to miss. Maybe I'm too used to the Washington Post and the New York Times, but reading the Patriot's editorial page is something I should stop doing because it doesn't help my blood pressure. The letters they publish are mindblowing. And they never published any of the letters I sent them. Bastards.

Which brings me back to Santorum. If he has to spend tens of millions to cover up what a right-wing rag like the Patriot says, can you imagine what he'd have to spend if there was real reporting in Pennsylvania?

Who Are These People?

I'd like to know when being against torture became a political liability.

From the Washington Post:

Sen. John McCain's bid to position himself as the natural heir to President Bush as a wartime commander in chief and to court conservative leaders in advance of his likely 2008 presidential campaign has threatened to run aground in recent days, as the two men clash over how to detain and try terrorism suspects.

For months, McCain has been wooing Bush's donors, hiring his former advisers and standing by him in the Iraq debate. But the fragile rapprochement between two men who were once bitter rivals for the presidency is facing a sharp new test over McCain's rejection of Bush's pleas to let the administration interpret the Geneva Conventions as it sees fit.

The impasse, which has preoccupied Congress this month, is likely to be settled within a few days but could remain hanging when lawmakers adjourn in a few days. Either way, it is likely to carry a long echo -- especially if the senator from Arizona forces Bush to back down.

[...]

...some prominent conservatives are branding him a disloyal Republican and an unreliable conservative because of his assertiveness on the detainee issue.
How is one an unreliable conservative because one thinks that torturing people is something only the bad guys do? And who would have the audacity to criticize the only member of the Senate who has actually been tortured about his stance on torture? Who are these people?

9.18.2006

Scare them with Terror!

An examination of the DHS color coded alert system corrected for reality:

S E V E R E
Driving off the road: 254,419
Falling: 146,542
Accidental poisoning: 140,327

H I G H
Dying from work: 59,730
Walking down the street: 52,000.
Accidentally drowning: 38,302

E L E V A T E D
Killed by the flu: 19,415
Dying from a hernia: 16,742

G U A R D E D
Accidental firing of a gun: 8,536
Electrocution: 5,171

L O W
Being shot by law enforcement: 3,949
* Terrorism: 3147 *
Carbon monoxide in products: 1,554


That's a selection of causes of death for Americans between 1995 and 2005. Just a friendly reminder from Wired News.

Ricky's Fashion Sense...

Seems about as good as his common sense.


In general, I'm not going to criticize people for what they wear. But if you're running on the platform that Virginia Rick is running on, a different, more Republican suit might help...

Update: More from Wonkette!


That's seersucker, baby. With light suede shoes and dark socks. Gotta love the retiree shoes on the other guy...

Missing Links of Evolution?

The fundies love to prattle on about how evolution can't possibly be true because none of the 'middle steps' exist. Well, fuck them. Here's a shark that walks on it's fins.

The AP via Yahoo News:

BANGKOK, Thailand - Scientists combing through undersea fauna off Indonesia's Papua province said Monday they had discovered dozens of new species, including a shark that walks on its fins and a shrimp that looks like a praying mantis.

The team from U.S.-based Conservation International also warned that the area — known as Bird's Head Seascape — is under danger from fishermen who use dynamite and cyanide to net their catches and called on Indonesia's government to do more to protect it.

"It's one of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes and seascapes on the planet," said Mark Erdmann, a senior adviser of Conservation International who led two surveys to the area earlier this year.

"Above and below water, it's simply mind blowing," he said.

Erdmann and his team claim to have discovered 52 new species, including 24 new species of fish, 20 new species of coral and eight new species of shrimp. Among the highlights were an epaulette shark that walks on its fins, a praying mantis-like shrimp and scores of reef-building corals, he said.
Of course all of the habitat is endangered due to fishing, but that's a seperate angle.

This was on the front page of Yahoo news. It isn't burried in some acedemic journal. But do you thik this will be acknowledged by the 'it's just a theory' crowd? Not a chance. Their belief-based (rather than observation based) world view allows them to ignore what they don't want to ackowledge without disrupting the logical continuity of their world view (mostly because it's not based on logic.)

Oh, the article ends with this:
Researchers also encountered the Long-beaked Echidna, members of the primitive egg-laying group of mammals called the Monotremes.
No signs of evolution there, either!


Photo credit: Conservation International

I'm shocked. SHOCKED!

From the Washington Post:

Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq

Adapted from "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, copyright Knopf 2006

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .
Jaws all over the world are hitting the floor in absolute stupification. In the last five years, Republicans, and the Bush Administration in particular, have been nothing but paragons competence. They have worked studiously to find the most qualified experts to weigh in on all subjects and preside over all situations. Always idolizing the candidate who is most educated, most enlightened, and most experienced, the GOP has gone so far as to eschew the less precise arguments, emotion, feeling, belief, and passion when deciding how best to steer the Ship of State. After such stunning triumphs as Harriet Miers, the following must be the shock of the century.
Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.
It seems that with the exception of 'right-wing street cred' I'm just as qualified as the gentleman who was in charge of the foundations of Iraq's economy.

As I've already noted, people are starting to notice that when you let ideology trump the real world, things don't work out very well. After this revelation, I don't see how anybody can think that the handling of Iraq was in the same room with competent.

Citation du Jour

"What you see here is a split between the theorists who have never been on a battlefield or never worn the uniform and those who have."

-Senator James Webb (D-VA), on Meet the Press, on BushCo. vs. McCain, et al. on the Geneva Conventions, Tribunals, etc.
I like the quote, but I disagree with it. What you have here is an Administration so in love with its theory that it's unwilling to listen to people who have worn the uniform and been on battlefields.

Not all presidents must be former soldiers, but all presidents must be willing to listen to the advice of our military.

Of course this problem is an outgrowth of religious zealotry. 'How's that?' you say? Simple. Bush knows that Jesus is coming back because he believes it. There is no question. It's simply fact. It is undeniable. It is a fact that in the future, Jesus will come back. All because Bush believes that it's true.

Along the same lines, Iraq will become a pro-America Democracy and act as a beacon freedom in the Middle East. It is a fact that the future will bring this Iraq to us because George Bush believes. For Bush, enough faith, enough conviction of belief is enough to make something - anything - true. And having 'experts' tell him otherwise is just as productive as having Atheists tell him Jesus ain't coming back.

That's why you shouldn't elect fundamentalist zealots. (Among other reasons.)

"Collapse" - By Jared Diamond

I'm not exactly sure, but I think that "Collapse" by Jared Diamond has been under the 'Current Reading' heading for nearly 6 months, possibly longer. I actually finished the book months ago but I kept forgetting to write a review or putting off writing a review so I left "Collapse" up until I got around to it.

By now, I couldn't write a meaningful review of the book if I had too. I'm going to write one anyway.

"Collapse" examined the environmental reasons for the collapses of various societies including the Mayan civilization in Mexico, the Vikings in Greenland, and the Polynesian societies on Easter Island and the Pitcairn and Henderson Islands. Diamond also provided explanations of the ways that societies recognized and avoided environmental collapse in Japan at the time of Tokugawa, the New Guinea highlands and others which I can't recall.

Diamond arranged his examination of collapsing societies around the five stress points that cause societies to fail: Environmental damage, climate change, hostile neighbors, loss of friendly trade partners, and a society's responses to its environmental problems. Any one, though usually two or more can cause a society to collapse. Obviously, the more problems a society has the more difficult it is to avoid collapse. (The presence of hostile neighbors, climate change, environmental damage and a poor response to environmental problems is usually a more dire situation than just the loss of a trading partner - though not always.)

"Collapse" isn't just a collections of facts about the past. Diamond provides evidence of the problems we face. He exposes our own society as no more permanent than that of the Maya.

Diamond finds evidence of the coming collapse of our society in Montana, which he examines extensively. Lack of water to grow food is one of the great causes of societal collapse and Diamond shows the problems the western U.S. is having supporting its population. He also points to the many other small 'first signs' of coming problems such as the rich insulating themselves in gated communities.

For all the dire examples, Diamond doesn't damn western society. He doesn't declare that we've already driven off the cliff of un-sustainability but he does show us that we're quickly racing towards it. His examinations of what worked in the past, what didn't work in the past, and what is going on right now, show that the most important 'point' out of the five is the response a society has to the new environmental pressures. If we can formulate the right response, there's no reason why our society shouldn't be among the list of civilizations that side-stepped collapse.