Saturday, February 25, 2006

"I told you so. YEEEAAARRRGGGHHHH!!"

Glenn Greenwald has a post up at Crooks and Liars that lays out who turned out to be right, and who turned out to be wrong, about Iraq. From his conclusion:
Can anyone dispute that Dean was right about virtually every prediction and claim he made, every warning that he issued about why invading Iraq was ill-advised and counter-productive? Compare this outright prescience from Dean to the war supporters’ declarations of cakewalks, predictions of glorious victory celebrations, promises that the war would pay for itself, Purple Finger celebrations where they insisted that democracy was upon us, errors regarding the number of troops needed, inexcusable failure to anticipate or plan the insurgency, and shrill fear-mongering about Saddam’s non-existent weapons.

Americans long ago abandoned Bush’s war once they realized that the premises on which the war was justified were false. But while this war was George Bush’s from start to finish - and he will live with it forever ignominiously tagged to him in history – it is now America’s war as well. And as the country decides what course of action we ought to take to extricate ourselves from this disaster, it is worth remembering whose judgment was so accurate and wise and whose judgment was so horribly wrong in every respect.

Read the whole thing, it's the usual Greenwald excellence boiled down to Op-Ed length.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Entries from the Republican-English Dictionary

[lifted straight from Mark Kleiman]

In case you've been having trouble recently in deciphering speeches and news reports:

alternative energy sources (n.) New locations to drill for gas and oil.

bankruptcy (n.) A means of escaping debt available to corporations but not to poor people.

burning bush (n.) A biblical allusion to the response of the President of the United States, when asked a question by a journalist who has not been paid to inquire.

Cheney, Dick (n.) The greater of two evils.

class warfare (n.) Any attempt to raise the minimum wage.

climate change (n.) Progress toward the blessed day when the blue states are swallowed by the oceans.

compassionate conservatism (n.) Poignant concern for the very wealthy

creation science (n.) Pseudoscience that claims George W. Bush's resemblance to a chimpanzee is totally coincidental

DeLay, Tom (n.) Past tense of De Lie

extraordinary rendition (n.) Outsourcing torture

faith (n.) The belief that the Beatitudes include "Blessed are the rich" and "Blessed are the warmakers."

free markets (n.) Halliburton no-bid contracts at taxpayer expense

God (n.) Senior presidential adviser

growth (n.) 1. The justification for tax cuts for the rich. 2. What happens to the national debt when policy is made according to Definition 1.

healthy forest (n.) No tree left behind

honesty (n.) Lies told in simple declarative sentences, e.g., "Freedom is on the march."

House of Representatives (n.) Exclusive club; entry fee $1 million to $5 million (See Senate)

in the national interest (adj. phr.) 1. Conducive to the election of Republicans. 2. Beneficial to Republican contributors.

laziness (n.) When the poor are not working

leisure time (n.) When the wealthy are not working

liberal(s) (n.) Followers of the Antichrist

No Child Left Behind (riff) 1. There are always jobs in the military. 2. The rapture

ownership society (n.) 1. A civilization where 1 percent of the population controls 90 percent of the wealth 2. A political system in which all power is in the hands of the owners

Patriot (n.) Bush supporter.

Patriot Act (n.) 1. Pre-emptive strike on American freedoms to prevent the terrorists from destroying them first 2. The elimination of one of the reasons why they hate us

pro-life (adj.) Valuing human life up until birth

Real American (n.) See Patriot.

Religion (n.) Christianity

Senate (n.) Exclusive club; entry fee $10 million to $30 million

simplify (v.) To reduce, especially to cut the taxes of Republican donors

staying the course (gerund phrase) Continuing to perform the same actions and expecting different results. (See: insanity.)

stuff happens (idiom) I don't have to live in Baghdad.

treason (n.) Criticism of George W. Bush

voter fraud (n.) A significant minority turnout

woman (n.) 1. Person who can be trusted to raise a child but can't be trusted to decide whether or not she wishes to have a child. 2. Person who must have all decisions regarding her reproductive functions made by men with whom she wouldn't want to have sex in the first place

Big Test for the New Court

Welcome to the Supreme Court, Justices Roberts and Alito, let's see what you're made of...
Justices to Weigh Late-Term Abortion Ban
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer - 7 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider the constitutionality of banning a type of late-term abortion, teeing up a contentious issue for a newly-constituted court already in a state of flux over privacy rights.

The Bush administration has pressed the high court to reinstate the federal law, passed in 2003 but never put in effect because it was struck down by judges in California, Nebraska and New York.

The outcome will likely rest with the two men that President Bush has recently installed on the court. Justices had been split 5-4 in 2000 in striking down a state law, barring what critics call partial birth abortion because it lacked an exception to protect the health of the mother.

But Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was the tie-breaking vote, retired late last month and was replaced by Samuel Alito.

[...] The federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act prohibits a certain type of abortion, generally carried out in the second or third trimester, in which a fetus is partially removed from the womb, and the skull is punctured or crushed.

Justices on a 9-0 vote in a New Hampshire case reaffirmed in January that states can require parental involvement in abortion decisions and that state restrictions must have an exception to protect the mother's health.

The federal law in the current case has no health exception, but defenders maintain that the procedure is never medically necessary to protect a woman's health.

Right, I'm sure women are undergoing that procedure for the fun or convenience factor. I'm sure medical personel line up for that one too. Sounds like a real fucking picnic for all parties.
Even with O'Connor's retirement, there are five votes to uphold Roe, the landmark ruling that established a woman's right to an abortion.

[...] Bush has called the so-called partial birth abortion an "abhorrent practice," and his Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Paul Clement, had urged justices not to delay taking up the administration's appeal.

The case that will be heard this fall comes to the Supreme Court from Nebraska, where the federal law was challenged on behalf of physicians. Doctors who perform the procedure contend that it is the safest method of abortion when the mother's health is threatened by heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer.

Yeah, what do the doctors know? Better to let grandstanding politicians or sign-waving lunatics make that medical decision... I will go as far as agreeing that this sounds like an "abhorrent" procedure, which is exactly why it is rare and only done when necessary. But there is no need for legislation impacting this, and certainly not legislation that omits a health exception. I suspect even the newly installed justices will agree. I don't doubt for a minute that a better crafted law containing an exception will eventually pass muster, hopefully this one won't. In fact, I'll go so far as to say this legislation is designed to fail and serve as a rallying point against "activist judges" and a society out of control.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm not sure which, this will play out just in time for the elections this fall. This is a massive wedge, and that's why Bush is pushing this. I feel like this "partial-birth" battle takes place on their territory and plays in the pro-life movement's favor. They can over-dramatically portray it as a horrible procedure that needs reigning in, yet it still falls waay short of overturning Roe, which would be an equivilent, if not superior, GOTV motivator for the pro-choice side.

So, the Court taking this now, is likely to be bad news, even if they come to the right decision.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Weakening the Weakest Link

By now you may know that the Bush Administration has made a deal with a state-owned company from The United Arab Emirates to run security operations at several major U.S. seaports. So, Dubai, the country that served as a main operational and financial base for the 9/11 hijackers as well as a conduit for the smuggled nuclear components from Pakistan will be running our port security in New York. Excellent.

This is a topic that warrants additional ranting, but for now take a look at this response to Congressional outcry from the Bushies [AP link]...
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Arab journalists Friday at the State Department, that it was "the considered opinion of the U.S. government that this can go forward." She pledged to work with Congress because "perhaps people will need better explanation and will need to understand some of the process that we have gone through."

"the considered opinion of the U.S. government that this can go forward." Not quite. I guess if you only count the West Wing as the U.S. government (which they do), but I'd say that every other possible part of governemnt from local reps to Congress and beyond m seems to disagree. And her idea of "workng with Congress" is giving them a better explanation of what they've already done—after the fact—and they should feel lucky to even get that.
"Congress is welcome to look at this and can get classified briefings," Chertoff told CNN's "Late Edition." "We have to balance the paramount urgency of security against the fact that we still want to have a robust global trading system."

The same kind of "briefings" as the NSA spying? Sort of a, "here's kind of what we're up to, but we won't tell you everything, and you can't tell anyone, even your staff...Oh, and we are not interested in your opinion, and we already did this and you can't stop it." That kind of "briefing?"

When will Congress (both Dems and Repubs) strap on their balls and cry "BULLSHIT!" Have these jokers heard of the "power of the purse?" This deal is a bad joke, and Congress can stop it cold by simply not paying for it!

UPDATE 2/21: Congress is strapping 'em on. At least for now...
Frist Calls for Halt to U.S. Ports Deal
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer - 15 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist called Tuesday for the Bush administration to stop a deal permitting a United Arab Emirates company to take over six major U.S. seaports, upping the ante on a fight that several congressmen, governors and mayors are waging with the White House.

"The decision to finalize this deal should be put on hold until the administration conducts a more extensive review of this matter," said Frist. "If the administration cannot delay this process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review."

Of course, Bush feels unencumbered about ignoring the law and doing whatever the fuck he wants, so we'll see how this plays out.

Friday, February 17, 2006

John Cole's Not-So-Psychic Hotline

Yesterday, John Cole kicked off a feisty thread at Balloon Juice predicting that Dems and lefties would "overplay their hand" on the Cheney shooting incident. They'd take it too far, end up looking stupid..."we never learn..." "that's why we keep losing" etc.

He started his case off by citing a snip from Jane Hamsher at firedoglake that was admitedly "colorful" in it's summary of events. From here Cole predicts it's only the first shot in an idiotic lefty salvo to come...
[Cole] Just wait, Blue. It is only a matter of time before Dean pipes up, and Pete Stark screams something from the floor of the house and so on.

Just wait.

Well, the wait is over! Today, a prominant pol made a bold statement decrying Cheney and the shooting incident...

"If he'd been in the military, he would have learned gun safety."

Howard Dean? Murtha? Rangel? Who's the loose cannon? No doubt some East Coast wiseass elitist...

Nope, none other than prominant conservative Republican Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska.

[via Carpetbagger]

Friday Random Ten

Here we go, iPod mini-style...

1. "All Wrong" - Morphine
2. "Closer" - The Firm
3. "Two Princes" - Spin Doctors
4. "Sexual Healing" - Soul Asylum
5. "Mockingbirds" - Grant Lee Buffalo
6. "Xanadu'" - Rush
7. "Bring It On Home" - Zeppelin
8. "Naveed" - Our Lady Peace
9. "Only Talking Sense" - Finn Brothers
10. "Moonlight Mile" - Rolling Stones

Extended commentary and ratings in the comments to save space...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Join the BUY-cott!

Growing up in New England, Citgo is subliminaly imbedded in the mind of every Red Sox fan. For years, the prominant fixture in the nighttime sky outside Fenway Park was the gigantic Citgo sign. Any home run over the Green Monster was an ad for Citgo—brilliant placement. I once worked at a full-serve Citgo station as a gas jockey. Now, there's a reason to seek Citgo out for your gas that goes beyond my own personal sentiments: None of their oil comes from the Middle East.

From a TrueMajority email I received today:
Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela - not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East.

"Citgo is not just another oil company," says Citgo CEO Felix Rodriguez. "With Venezuela's state oil company, of which we are a subsidiary, we share a broad social mission." So buy Citgo gasoline and support democracy in South America:

And this winter Citgo is helping out less fortunate Americans, too.

You already may have seen the headlines about how Citgo, unlike every other oil company in the U.S., is making cut-rate heating oil available to struggling families in the Northeast. The Energy Department predicts a nearly 26 percent jump in heating costs this winter compared with last year, and despite a year of record oil company profits, the country's heating oil assistance fund is falling behind.

Citgo has stepped in to help out. They're selling heating oil at discounted rates to poorer communities in Massachusetts and the Bronx, NY, and working on deals to keep low-income homes in Rhode Island and Vermont warm, too.

Good eough for me. I usually try to buy BP gas, when possible and NEVER buy Exxon or Mobil, but I'll be looking out for Citgo as well now.

Click here to find the Citgo station near you.

photo credit: I grabbed it here

Not Good Enough, Dick

Good news and news that's a complete crock of shit...
Cheney to Break Silence in Fox Interview

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The hunter shot by Vice President Dick Cheney had a normal heart rhythm again Wednesday and was doing well, hospital officials said, as Cheney prepared to speak about the incident publicly for the first time.

Cheney was to appear on Fox News Channel at 6 p.m. EST, the network and the White House announced.

Harry Whittington, 78, a Republican supporter from Austin, was hit in the face and chest by birdshot Saturday and was in stable condition Wednesday after suffering a mild heart attack when one of the pellets in his chest traveled to his heart.

Hospital officials said Whittington had a normal heart rhythm again and was sitting up in a chair, eating regular food and planned to do some attorney work in his hospital room. He had had no further complications and was expected to remain in the hospital for about another week.

First, I'm glad Whittington is doing better and seemingly out of danger.

As far as Cheney coming out of seclusion to go before his Official Fan Club for a fluff job, that does not count as answering to the public or the press for his actions. How is that acceptable? He should be holding a goddamn press conference, or frankly, he should keep his pasty ass in his cave.

I suppose I'm interested in what he'll say, but "breaking his silence" after four days with a bunch of sycophants does not count as coming forward or being accountable for one's actions.

OUTRAGE UPDATE: This interview isn't even live. Cheney has already taped an interview with Brit Hume. A complete fucking joke.

FURTHER UPDATE: Here is the story at FOX News. To his credit Cheney is taking full blame for the shooting.
Cheney: 'I'm the Guy Who Pulled the Trigger'
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
By Jane Roh

NEW YORK — Vice President Dick Cheney said he and he alone was responsible for a weekend hunting accident in which he shot Austin attorney Harry Whittington.

"Ultimately I'm the guy who pulled the trigger, that fired the round that hit Harry," Cheney said in his first interview since the incident. "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend, and that's something I'll never forget.

Cheney's first public response following his accidental shooting of a man in the face comes more than 72 hours after it occurred. The interview will be broadcast on "Special Report With Brit Hume" at 6 p.m. EST.

Oh, and FOX, by the time you air this "interview" 100 hours will have elapsed since Whittington was shot. today is Wednesday, not Tuesday. Can you even be fair and balanced with simple arithmetic? And the story repeatedly refers to "BBs" in Whittington, even attributing a hospital official, Peter Banko, as using the word "BB" in a quote. I have not seen ANY other account that uses the word BB in place of pellet. Did FOX change the official hospital statement to match their strategy of minimization?

The Hole Truth and Nothing Like the Truth

We know Vice President Cheney shot a companion while hunting quail. Based on what has come out so far, we have likely not heard the true version of events that day. In the unlikely event that we have been told the truth, the White House has so badly bungled it, they have forever tainted the story with doubt and skepticism.

Here are the possible scenarios as I see 'em:

1. It happened just like they claim. Covey is flushed. Cheney, following a bird, wheels around, fires, hits Whittington at a distance of thirty yards. Clear violation of many rules of common sense and hunter's protocol. A terrible mistake by Cheney. Story is dependent on assigning Whittington some blame, and hoping injuries are minor and Whittington recovers quickly and completely. Unfortunately for Cheney, this story is starting to seem implausible...

2. Not exactly like they claim. Covey is flushed. Cheney, following a bird, wheels around blindly, fires, hits Whittington at a distance much closer than 30 yards. Meaning Whittington was right next to or behind Cheney. Close enough that Cheney knew or should have known, Whittington was nearby when he raised his gun, but lost track while following his target. Whittington has to be completely absolved—even by hard-core Cheney-apologists. A clear fuck-up by Cheney. Since that is like Fonzie saying he's "sorry", they start to concoct an "enhanced" version of events to take heat off Cheney.

3. A Dumb Cover-Up. Cheney shot Whittington while they were walking the line, by doing something retarded like stumbling with his finger on the trigger or dropping his gun. This, too, was an untenable story to release for a macho-man like the Veep, since there was no other patsy to have holding the gun, they contrived a "more manly" mistake. Once again, this was dependent on Whittington's injuries remaining minor. This will be the classic case of "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up" if it comes undone.

4. Necessary Cover-Up. It happened like one of the above choices, with the added wrinkle that Cheney was impaired. This requires a cover-up, and starts to explain the delay in releasing the story and particularly explains why Cheney was not interviewed by police until the next day.

In scenarios 1-3 Cheney would have best served with being honest and coming forward immediately. Of course, that is completely unnatural for this crew, thus the corner they've painted themselves into. In scenario 4, with Cheney criminally responsible, I almost cannot blame them for a cover-up... which is why anything falling short of that, it was stupid to lie/delay.


Things I feel comfortable labeling "facts":

1. Ranch owner Katharine Armstrong isn't a witness, she's a spokesperson. She wasn't close enough to know what the fuck happened. Not if she was sitting in the car, and thought the medical team was running to assist a Cheney "heart problem." Her account is horseshit. Why they trotted her out to release the info is beyond me, and might be the biggest mistake they made (aside from shooting a guy in the face). Link added: Excellent breakdown of the flaws in this part of the story.

2. Cheney is completely at fault for the shooting. Regardless of whether Whittington screwed up by leaving the line. Their story is that Whittington snuck up behing the VP without announcing himself. Irrelevant. For him to get shot means Cheney wheeled around and fired behind himself. What the fuck was he thinking? He's lucky he didn't nail a SS agent as well.

3. Cheney sat down to a dinner at the ranch while a guy he was hunting with hours earlier was lying in the ICU with his shotgun load in his face (and, now, apparently his heart). This is worse than Brownie looking for a happy hour after Katrina. Come on, Cheney, you fucking shot the guy in the face, I don't care if everyone thought he'd be fine, drag your sorry ass to the hospital and act concerned. Pace around outside his room. Have a creme soda, do some fucking thing.


Feel free to add your own theories in the comments.

NOTE: It's late, and I'm tired. I hope this makes some sense.
UPDATE: Title changed, typos fixed, minor additions to text for clarity.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Not a Good Development

Hunter Shot by Cheney Has Heart Attack
Associated Press Writers 7 minutes ago
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The 78-year-old lawyer who was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident has some birdshot in or touching his heart and he had "a silent heart attack" Tuesday morning, hospital officials said. [emphasis mine]

The victim, Harry Whittington, was immediately moved back to the intensive care unit for further treatment, said Peter Banko, the administrator at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial in Texas.

Banko said doctors conducting a regular check up on Whittington Tuesday morning discovered an irregularity in the heartbeat caused by a pellet, and they performed a cardiac catheterization around 10 a.m. EST. Whittington was in stable condition after treatment and expressed a desire to leave the hospital, but Banko said they would probably keep him for another week to make sure more shot doesn't move to other vital organs.

Peppered pretty good indeeed.

Daily Show

You're getting your cable bill's-worth tonight. Watch.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Today's Press Gaggle Covey

David Gregory ain't buying what Scott McLellan is selling. Read this, it's hilarious and encouraging. The press is starting to smell the blood in the water. (pun sort of intended)

I'm Done Laughing

Yeah I had my fun at Cheney & Co's expense along with everyone else, but after reading this, I'm no longer laughing...

Monday's hunting trip to Pennsylvania by Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reportedly shot more than 70 stocked pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks at an exclusive private club places a spotlight on an increasingly popular and deplorable form of hunting, in which birds are pen-reared and released to be shot in large numbers by patrons. The ethics of these hunts are called into question by rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt animals in their native habitat and do not shoot confined or pen-raised animals that cannot escape.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported today that 500 farm-raised pheasants were released yesterday morning at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township for the benefit of Cheney's 10-person hunting party. The group killed at least 417 of the birds, illustrating the unsporting nature of canned hunts. The party also shot an unknown number of captive mallards in the afternoon.

I’m not a hunter, and never will be, but my wife’s grandfather and uncles duck-hunt and I suppose that’s fine for them. But what Cheney does is the equivelent to shooting fish in a barrel. That’s not hunting—that’s skeet shooting with living targets. And I'm not the only one who thinks so...
"This wasn't a hunting ground. It was an open-air abattoir, and the vice president should be ashamed to have patronized this operation and then slaughtered so many animals," states Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice president of The Humane Society of the United States. "If the Vice President and his friends wanted to sharpen their shooting skills, they could have shot skeet or clay, not resorted to the slaughter of more than 400 creatures planted right in front of them as animated targets."

Does one get bored after shooting their 30th pheasant? The 40th? 60th?

That’s a callous disregard for life that speaks of sociopathy. That’s not a kid killing or torturing animals that’s the supposed moral leadership of the country gunning down living birds for shits and giggles.

A serious question: When somebody can suit up for the day and kill fifty to a hundred of anything—where does one draw a line? Birds only? Or would Cheney and pals shoot deer in a corral? Big game in a zoo? It’s the stuff of science fiction—but these are the kind of maniacs that would be hunting people if they could.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that it's no wonder these fucking cavemen can send people off to war without a second thought. Pro-fucking-Life my ass. It's all about personal gratification and nothing else. Nobody that would spend a weekend mindlessly slaughtering animals for fun (not even sport) should be entrusted with life and death decisions about anything. There is something fundamentally wrong with a person like that.

And as far as the guy he shot, if this was one of those expeditions and he was a party to it, any sympathy for him just flew out the window. Every one of them should receive a nice “peppering” of birdshot.

A 78 year old asshole is every bit as deserving as a cage-raised quail.

UPDATE: Posted a varition of this as a diary at Kos, and it got over 250 comments. In case you're interested...

Also, more at pharyngula:
Blowing away a horde of pen-raised animals, released in front of you to scurry into your gunsights, is not a sport. It's disgusting bloody-mindedness, a lazy, cowardly, vicious sort of abuse.

They say that torturing and killing helpless animals is one of the signs of a sadistic sociopath. Somehow, it's fitting that our vice-president is the kind of guy who takes glee in unfeeling butchery.

firedoglake has several excellent posts on the whole thing. just go and scroll...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Shootout at the VP Corral

I dunno, something about armed cyborgs hunting down unsuspecting vacationers—the jokes practically Photoshop themselves...

Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said Sunday.

Harry Whittington, 78, was "alert and doing fine" after Cheney sprayed him with shotgun pellets on Saturday while the two were hunting at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.

Armstrong said Whittington was mostly injured on his right side, with the pellets hitting his cheek, neck and chest, and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Whittington was in stable condition Sunday, said Yvonne Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Christus Spohn Health System.


Armstrong said she was watching from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail late afternoon on Saturday.

Whittington shot a bird and went to look for it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and found a second covey.

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong told the Associated Press in an interview.

"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."

Now I've never hunted quail before (or anything else), but don't you usually flush them, and shoot them while they're in ther air? The article didn't mention this Whittington guy being thirteen feet tall... "He came up from behind..." So Cheney whips around and unloads? Nice work, Dick.

[Go ahead and steal my image if you like, just gimme a link...]

Friday, February 10, 2006

How Bush Honors MLK

I mentioned in the comments of my post about the King funeral that Bush recess-appointed two well-known civil rights opponents to lifetime positions on the Federal bench. I was wrong. It was 2004, not last year, and it was one judge, Charles Pickering.

In 2003, Bush marked the holiday by announcing his opposition to affirmative action.
WASHINGTON -- President Bush plans to challenge a University of Michigan program that gives preference to minority students, telling the Supreme Court there are better ways to promote diversity, administration officials say.

[...] Fleischer outlined Bush's philosophy moments after announcing the president's plans to commemorate Martin Luther King's birthday and increase aid to Africa.


Danish Cartoons, Take 2

I need to follow-up on the post below. At the time I read the column below, I thought it was one of the better ones I'd read in terms of summarizing the events, and it made a couple good points, particularly in reference to Denmark, that I hadn't seen anywhere else.

By the time I finished writing my post however, and in retrospect, it became clear that I disagree with the Lessenberry's overall point—that a free press can, and should, do whatever the fuck it wants. It's still a good column and his opinion and point are valid, just not shared by me. I think Lessenberry is treating this whole thing as too academic, with no regard for real-world consequences. It's irresponsible. Especially for him to think his own paper had an obligation to print them, or for him to be annoyed that they didn't. On this point I disagree with him strongly for the reasons stated in the previous post.

Today, Ezra links to an excellent piece at and makes this point:
It is the case that other, more politically efficacious religious movements, have no problem bringing down massive pressure on media outlets that offend them. Think the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, or the Catholic Church. But since they have electoral/financial clout and can use accepted institutional levers, few get worked up over their blatant attempts to silence critical or derogatory speech. The Danish cartoons, which projected, during a tense time, anti-Muslim stereotypes on a continent already bristling with them, aroused the same sort of opportunistic religious leaders we're used to, but it their organizations deploy riots and flag burnings rather than boycotts and political pressure. Different, sure, but only in degree, not in kind.

Precisely. European Muslims are already feeling persecuted, and are not only powerless to protest in an effective or "acceptable" manner, it is patently obvious that the situation is ripe for trouble on the street and exploitation from the pulpit. Outside the Middle East, this is a population that feels oppressed. Within the Middle East they are often oppressed as well. It is no wonder that this stuff explodes. To be clear—I'm not excusing—just making a point.

The slate piece, written by a Muslim [link], acknowledeges the Muslim role in this, but also does an excellent job expressing the offense and rage in text, that overseas has more often taken the form of a rock or flame.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You Mean Those Hornets Sting?

I don't have much to say about the Muhammad cartoon controversy. I will, however, point you to one of the better pieces I read on the whole thing by local alt-weekly and would-be NPR host Jack Lessenberry.
[link] ...Fundamentalist Muslims went ballistic. Fundamentalist imams demanded a meeting with Denmark's prime minister. (He rightly refused.) The fundamentalists then began whipping up outrage by showing the cartoons around the Middle East. And get this. These "holy men of God" included phony cartoons that were much worse than the real ones.

They included images showing Muhammed as a pig, a pedophile and a sodomizer of animals. (I'd love to know who did those.) The cartoons in the Danish newspaper were far milder. Some were pro-Muslim, some didn't depict the prophet at all, and one attacked the editor as a "reactionary provocateur."

Naturally, inflamed Muslims began behaving badly. Danish flags were burned; people have been killed in demonstrations; diplomatic installations have been set on fire; and they called for an international boycott of Danish products, which must be bad if you're addicted to small buttery cookies.

Accordingly, last week a number of European papers did something that should put the press here to shame. They courageously reprinted the cartoons.

One of those, the German newspaper Die Welt, added this: "Democracy is the institutionalized form of freedom of expression. There is no right to protection from satire in the West; there is a right to blasphemy."

Amen, amen, selah and salaam. Thomas Jefferson couldn't have said it better. Lovers of freedom all over the world ought to be very, very proud of every editor who published them. Naturally, various so-called liberals howled that this was racism, and whined that it would help an anti-immigration party in Denmark.

That's a load of bullshit. Denmark is a postage-stamp country with barely half Michigan's population. And all you need to know about it is that when the Nazis occupied them and came to round up and murder their Jews, the Danes said no. No way. The entire nation then collaborated to smuggle nearly the entire Jewish population to Sweden. Nobody else did anything like that.

They are people of courage, tolerance and a sense of humor, three qualities that America — especially the American press — is sorely lacking.

I will say this much—the editor who commissioned the illustrations knew this would be provocative, and printing these pictures was akin to poking around the ashes for some hot embers. They surely had the right to print 'em, as Danish Muslims had the right to be offended. Should Muslims halfway around the world be rioting and killing people over it, of course not. But does this come as a surprise? At this point how does every embassy in Tehran not have an escape rocket?

Lessenberry goes on to lambaste American media (including his own paper) for not taking up arms with their Danish and European brethren and publishing the pictures. I disagree. I think it would be gratuitous to do so. These pictures are readily available online for anyone to find if they are curious, or alternatively, need a reason to get pissed off and burn Danish flags. The U.S. has enough problems with the Middle East, and 150,000 targets walking around over there. I agree with a little discretion here.

Particularly in the case of his paper, the "Metro Times Detroit", a free weekly distributed throughout the geographic area containing the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East. We're not talking about a subscription-only venue or anything like it. This is one of those papers that stares you in the face when you walk into Subway. there's freedom of the press and there's rubbing people's faces in something. Freedom to is also freedom not to and nobody should be too annoyed that a newspaper editor is not willing to play Larry Flynt for a day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Right Wing Panties In a Bunch--Film at 11

To all those on the Right worried about the legacy of Coretta Scott King—who the fuck do you think you are to tell people how to pay tribute to someone? Particularly in the case of the Kings, or a few years ago, Paul Wellstone—these are public figures who were activists working against pretty much everything you stand for. Their families and followers ahould be free to express and console themselves however they choose.

Everyone from Imus to Michelle Malkin is wringing their hands over the fact that some of the speakers at Coretta Scott King's funeral took time at the podium to criticize the War or point out that her life's work might not quite be accomplished.

Perish the thought.

They are concerned that it wasn't gracious to do so in front of the President. Well, fuck that, and fuck him. And fuck anyone who has a problem with it. This was the funeral for a woman who dedicated her life to fighting injustice, war and racism. Her husband was gunned down in the prime of his life for doing the same thing. Many of the people attending or speaking at that funeral fought those same battles. There is no MORE appropriate place to make those comments. If the President cannot handle it, he should never have gone. This was a lose/lose for him—if he attends, he might be exposed to some hostility, if he doesn't, he opens himself up for criticism—boo fucking hoo. That's part of the job. Considering he spends the other 364 days of the year surrounded by nothing but yes-men and sycophants, he can suck it up for an hour or two.

More here, here, here, and here. John Cole was fool enough to opin on this, and got roundly smacked down by his readers. 150 560+ comments later, I'm sure he wishes he could have that one back. (For some highlights from that thread, go to the the comments below, I picked out a couple good ones.)

[Added 2/9] If the President or Republicans (or the government as a whole) want to throw a memorial service or reception, then fine, perhaps they can set some groundrules for decorum. If the President decides at the last minute to crash a private ceremony, then he gets whatever is coming to him.

UPDATE: I should note. I have NO problem with Bush attending the funeral, or anthing he did or said while there. I have a problem with the Bushmonkeys who feel it's their place to leap to Bush's defense when he suffers any indignity, perceived or real. Bush went to the service, was gracious, and left. While he was there, some other folks levelled criticisms that could be laid at Bush's feet. And there is no indication that he had a problem with what he heard. End of story. Except that to some on the right, criticism of Dear Leader is an offense, even if he is not named, or if he doesn't care. They cry "politicization!" when the only people talking about this and stoking the fire is themselves, just like at Wellstone's funeral. Shut the hell up, already. Funerals and feeding tubes are none of your business.

[Note: Opener rewritten slightly & new content added (as noted). 2/9]

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

NSA Hearings 2: Electric Boogaloo

Based on the reviews from the blogosphere, the Dems on the Committee did a pretty good job (except for Kennedy, from what I've seen) in the hearings and landed some blows on Gonzales. I did not watch any news or read very many news accounts of the hearings, so I cannot say how the media is playing things. I should point out, that part of the theater of the hearings would mean the Dems would make some good arguments and get some good soundbites off, the "spectacular failure" would come in the form of mised opportunities and the ultimate portrayal of the hearings by the press as well as how much the Republicans would shepherd Gonzales through the hearing.

Crooks and Liars has several video clips, including the fiasco of not swearing Gonzales in here (it's not exactly compelling TV, but Specter really comes off badly, and it's nice to see the Republicans forced to vote by roll call NOT to swear the witness). The clip worth watching is Leahy's opening statement—about 95% very forceful and effective. He wanders a bit at the very end, but really got off some good stuff. And don't miss Gonzalez claiming Washington and Lincoln engaged in electronic surveillance.

For an excellent Cliff's Notes version of the hearings see the 5-part synopsis at It really doesn't matter if you read them in order...

But the performance of the day goes to Glenn Greenwald on CSPAN this morning. This should be required viewing for any Democrat likely to face a question on or chance to explain this NSA situation. In two minutes he deftly turns an absolute wingnut caller's question and effectively uses it to make just about every possible case against this spying program. Seriously—the call is probably straight out of a Dem handler's worst-case scenario handbook, and Greenwald absolutely mops the floor with the caller and his "conservative" counterweight.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Tony LaRussa's Hair

I've tossed the occasional "Get a haircut" grenade in my comments about Tony LaRussa (usually by myself, out loud to the TV), but it seems Tony's locks are long for a reason—he's a Card-Carrying Rocker. His omni-present aviators are no doubt to conceal his bleary, bloodshot eyes resulting from whatever smoky dive he was headbanging in the previous night...

Yup, famous baseball manager Tony LaRussa has a blog, and it's mostly about the various concerts he obviously spends the entire off-season attending.

It could be fake, but why would anyone go to the trouble?

[h/t Brilliant at Breakfast]

NSA Hearings Whitewash

The hearings on the NSA domestic spying imbroglio are underway. Lots of folks on the left are gung-ho for these hearings, believing that this will damage the White House now, and by extension, Republicans this fall (after all the President ain't running again). That this is our chance to hold AG Gonzales to the fire and expose the WH and its illegal actions. That this is a terrific scoring opportunity for our side...

I'm not so sanguine about that result.

"But, no less than Committee Chair Sen. Arlen Spector as been full of outrage on the Sunday shows, and other Republicans (Graham, Coburn, Brownback) have grave concerns as well." This is a fucking act. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. These clowns roll for the White House every time. It's one thing to spout tough rhetoric on "Meet the Press" and another to do it in the hearing. When the TV audience is at work on Monday morning, it will be Party before Constitution from the Republicans without exception.

As far as the Dems, they are going to fail spectacularly, no matter what they do or try. Everyone keeps acting like the Republicans/White House "don't want these hearings." Bullshit. This is the perfect forum to underscore the seriousness Republicans assign our security (break a few eggs) and the Dems fecklessness (pussies worried about abstract civil liberites). Watch tonite's soundbites. The Dems should go forward, and hammer Gonzales because it's the right thing to do, but there will be no political benefit for the Dems as a result of this hearing. None.

I'd love to be wrong about that, but I don't think so.

UPDATE: By party-line vote (which Spector refused to even reveal) the Republicans are allowing Gonzales to testify without being sworn in under oath. At which point the Democrats should have gotten up and walked out of the hearing.

Picking up some things from other threads...
[from comments at Carpetbagger]: " centers that are now outsourced in "international" locations. Are these calls (which could cover anything from technical support for your laptop, to making vacation reservations, to discussing financial information, etc.) subject to the program?

Good point. Many people likely feel this has no effect on them. Assigning the old "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about," bolstered by, "I never make or recieve international calls anyway."

People are making international calls all the time now without realizing it and many of those calls are routed to the same (or adjacent) part of the world the NSA is supposedly targetting/filtering.

MORE: Glenn Greenwald is doing a tremendous job live-blogging the hearings here. From his early remarks:
Of course Gonzales begins his Opening Statement by quoting Osama bin Laden and Zawahri. We used to quote Madison, Jefferson and Lincoln to decide what the principles of our Government are going to be. Now we quote Al Qaeda. The Administration wants Al Qaeda and its speeches to dictate the type of Government we have. It is the centerpiece of everything they do and say.

Excellent comment on the Al Qaeda/fear-mongering.

And anybody foolish enough to think this actually has anything to do with "The War on Terror" take a look at this:
President Gerald Ford chats with recently named White House chief of staff Dick Cheney outside the White House in this Nov. 7, 1975 file photo. Newly disclosed historic documents obtained by the Associated Press show that an intense debate erupted during the Ford Administration over the president's powers to eavesdrop without warrants for foreign intelligence purposes. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty/File)

That's Big Time Dick Cheney who was after this kind of thing thirty years ago in the Nixon/Ford era. This is all about Executive Branch power and surveilling whoever the hell they want without oversight. All of this phony-ass "9/11 changed everything" is a load. They are merely using 9/11 as a pretext. And even that is a stretch, as they already had legal means to do everything they are claiming. They chose to go outside the law. The real question is, "Why?"

Will Dems effectively raise it? will the media cover it that way? And, will anyone care?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

FRT: Back from the grave and ready to party...

Alright. It's been a while—at least a month or two—since I last bothered with the Friday Random Ten (12/9 to be precise). For some reason I think everybody was tapped out on the topic (as evidenced by the lack of participation over at LLATPN). Well, I'm bringing it back, and taking a cue from Otto—he picks a wacky album cover, I'm picking something to illustrate the list as well. Call it a motivator, but when I had to find just the right picture of Pete Townshend windmilling, it was more fun...

Here's the list:

1. "Shining Star" - Earth, Wind and Fire
2. "Song for Margo" - NY Loose
3. "Stickshifts and Safetybelts" - Cake
4. "The Nurse" - The White Stripes
5. "Medicine Hat" - Son Volt
6. "The Fleecing of America'" - dada
7. "Got the Time" - Joe Jackson
8. "Red Barchetta" - Rush
9. "Mother Popcorn" - James Brown
10. "Romeo and Juliet" - Dire Straits

I'll still put the extended commentary in the comments so I don't bump all the rest of my Pulitzer material down too far.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The New, Tan Face of Corruption

Over at Balloon Juice, John Cole references a profile of Tom DeLay's replacement as House Majority Leader, Tim Boehner, and then tosses in a throwaway comment...
[link] "...Boehner, a perpetually tanned conservative, had spent much of the past year meeting secretly with Republicans who complained about the current leadership team, especially Blunt and his mentor, DeLay, and encouraged Boehner to launch a political comeback..."

[Cole] I had always thought he looked a little tan.

What's with that? Is this guy some metrosexual with a tanning bed? He's not the Representative from Palm Springs, he's from Cincinnati. From the comments at Balloon Juice, it seems "the perpetual tan" is from playing so much golf. He and DeLay are reputed to be the best golfers in the House, and Boehner is a member and an exclusive all-male club in Washington where membership runs $75,000 a year.


So he makes what as a Congressman…$180,000? How the hell does he spend forty percent of his salary on a club membership?

I know, he’s a Republican and he was probably a millionaire before he ever took office, and I’m sure his wife makes six figures through some “connected” job, but come on.

Nobody from Ohio that spends enough time golfing that he can maintain a tan all year round should be serving in Congress. Golf costs money and somebody is paying for it. Besides, nothing good for the taxpayer was ever determined on a golf course. NO FUCKING GOLF should be the first item on any reform agenda.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Where I went

[Got the idea from Cap'n Design, who got it from Kottke.]
Places I went in 2005. At least one night's stay required to make the list...

Avon, CT
New York, NY
Empire, MI
Toronto, ONT
Orlando, FL
Eagles Mere, PA
Bucks County, PA (don't remember the town)
Hale, MI
Pennsylvania Turnpike (spent at least 20 hours driving on it, and slept in the car at a rest area one trip)

Pretty thin list. I gotta get out of the house more...