Sunday, July 31, 2005


Has two must-read articles, one about the Conyers Report and the overwhelming lack of media coverage about what was almost surely electoral sabotage if not outright theft, and the other about how American Christians kind of--aren't. The articles aren't online in their entirety, though.

If you don't feel like clicking on the link to the Jesus article excerpt, here's a sample:

Only 40 percent of Americans can name more than four of the Ten Commandments, and a scant half can cite any of the four authors of the Gospels. Twelve percent believe Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.

This failure to recall the specifics of our Christian heritage may be further evidence of our nation’s educational decline, but it probably doesn’t matter all that much in spiritual or political terms. Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture.

The thing is, not only is Franklin’s wisdom not biblical; it’s counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans—most American Christians—are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up.

Asking Christians what Christ taught isn’t a trick. When we say we are a Christian nation—and, overwhelmingly, we do—it means something. People who go to church absorb lessons there and make real decisions based on those lessons; increasingly, these lessons inform their politics. (One poll found that 11 percent of U.S. churchgoers were urged by their clergy to vote in a particular way in the 2004 election, up from 6 percent in 2000.) When George Bush says that Jesus Christ is his favorite philosopher, he may or may not be sincere, but he is reflecting the sincere beliefs of the vast majority of Americans.

And therein is the paradox. America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior. That paradox—more important, perhaps, than the much touted ability of French women to stay thin on a diet of chocolate and cheese—illuminates the hollow at the core of our boastful, careening culture.

And here's a Mr. Fish cartoon (from that pretty much sums all that up...

I plan to write more on this later (tomorrow?)'s getting late and I didn't go to bed 'til 4 last night...

Monday, July 25, 2005


So the guy the London police shot "to kill" was an unassuming Brazilian electrician. Hoo boy...pre-emptive strikes are just looking better and better all the time, aren't they?

Meanwhile, the "terror expert" on MSNBC tonight was all like--yeah, but think if they hadn't killed him and he'd blown up a bus, then what would you be saying?" If this jackass is such an "expert," how come he can't help stop any terrorist attacks? This guy basically said that what should be done to "stop terrorism" is to keep waving guns around and shooting people with the intent of killing them and hope that the police might get it right more often than not, because bless their hearts, they're only doing the best they can.

I can help, I think, but I make no claims to be an expert on the subject. Here's my advice on how to stop terrorism--leave these people alone! Stop antagonizing the world! We cannot rule the world by force, by commerce, or by any method! The suicide bombers always tell us what they want, or at least why they blow themselves up, and it's almost always along the lines of "Pull out of our sacred land/give us our homeland" or some variation thereof. Why wouldn't we do that? Because of our "strategic interests"? By which is meant "oil?"

The oil supply is peaking, yo--we're gonna have to come up with some other energy source pretty soon anyway, so let's leave these people alone and create billions of dollars for domestic companies and providing jobs for Americans by working on renewable energy sources, popularizing them, making them convenient and affordable, and then no more worries about terrorists (except the homegrown kind).

If we really wanted to "remake" the Middle East, that's exactly what we'd do. Because then the oil they're sitting on would be about as valuable as all the sand it's under, and then we'd be selling whatever shit we came up to them and we'd be on friendly terms and we could each pursue our own crazy religions and leave each other the fuck alone.

It's like those BP commercials--"what do you want an oil company to do?" How about getting out of the business of pushing around the people of other cultures for profit so they don't get pissed off and blow themselves up in crowded metropolitan areas? That would be nice.

Those "security" cameras worked great

The CCTV installed in London sure were a big help in the terror attacks, weren't they? I mean, they really helped stop the terrorist attack...I mean, well...they didn't stop it, know, they kind of help maybe now...

I don't claim to know a whole lot about the security cameras in Britain, but I know they have them in a lot of places and I know that they are installed to help curb crime. Or are they?

Because they weren't able to stop the bombings. They are, however, quite capable of intruding on British citizen's civil liberties. Just like the cameras in Chicago (notice how they're in housing developments and the mayor says in the transcript "they're the next best thing to having a police officer stationed at every potential trouble spot in our city" as though every trouble spot in Chicago is in housing developments) and other places are capable of doing.

This kind of thing frustrates me so much. Why do we allow our "leaders" to convince us to allow this kind of surveillance and so forth instead of taking the most obvious step to prevent these kinds of attacks? Why do we allow our leaders to say, in essence, "By God, the U.S. fuckin' military is going to occupy Iraq no matter if we have to install security cameras on every corner, in every home, check every bag coming in and out of every public facility, encode every citizen with a digital tattoo that contains all their pertinent info and can be scanned at the whim of law enforcement, if we have to throw out the Bill of Rights and write it out the history books, and declare the entire populations of the "blue states" to be enemy combatants, and bankrupt the country (but enrich its tax-sheltered corporations), we'll bloody well do it because Iraq had no WMD, had no ties to al Qaeda, never attacked us and never could have even if they had wanted to!"

Does that scenario--that we're living out minus the hyperbole--make a bit of fucking sense? Of course not. But that is the underlying assumption of practically every news report and every terrorism/military/corporate shill-expert that comes on television to talk about such things, that is, that we're the goddamn U. S. of A. and we can do anything we damn well please to anybody at any time. And that anyone who objects to that on rational grounds (i.e., get out of country, leave us alone, your policies are hurting us, etc.) "hates our freedom" or is a "terrorist," or some other kind of hogwash. Why are we standing for this?

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Just watched “Meet The Press”...I’ve got to stop doing that (I mainly wanted to see what Russert would say about the contradictory testimony to the Fitzgerald grand jury–and if he would talk much about the leak). It was almost exclusively about John Roberts, and that reminded me of a caller to the Majority Report who recalled hearing Scalia speak about so-called “originalism.”

According to this caller, Scalia and the originalists say, correctly, that the Supreme Court’s function is to interpret laws passed by Congress in light of what the Constitution says. But that last part–“what the Constitution says”–is wide open to debate.

Again, according to the caller, my understanding of what he said Scalia said was that the Supreme Court can only go by the “original” words of the Constitution and I believe he said that the “intent” of the Framers should also be considered. Sam Seder rightly rebuked the caller and said originalism is bunk.

For example, it was the intent of the Framers to make black people count for 3/5 of a human being for population purposes. It was the intent of the Framers to have Senators appointed by state legislatures rather than by being elected by the citizenry. And so on. So the “intent” of the Framers is questionable, other than what they have written. Not that the Framers weren’t important, brilliant men, but we in the present cannot possibly divine their intent–we can’t even truly divine the intent of people who are living and breathing right this minute, i.e., conservatives routinely say that liberals “intend” to undermine America and all that it stands for while liberals deny this and hurl the charge right back at conservatives. So who’s right? Well, the short answer is “whoever’s in power.” But my point is that anyone can accuse a person of “intent” to do one thing or another which the accused can deny.

Why God created Brains–and Amendments

But getting back to the “original” words of the Constitution...a two-term limit for the Presidency wasn’t originally in the Constitution, the right of women to vote wasn’t originally in the Constitution, and so forth. That’s because throughout our history, people have understood that the main purpose of the Constitution is to protect the liberty of the citizens of this country. If that much isn’t clear, I can’t imagine that anything is (but as Krugman points out, these days there is no such thing as a nonpolitical truth).

In other words, the only thing set in stone about the Constitution is whether every citizen’s liberty is protected, assured, not violated–however you want to say it. The conservatives themselves know this but act like they don’t. That’s why many of them are proponents of originalism but can simultaneously propose changing the document for the stupid purposes of outlawing flag burning, outlawing gay marriage, outlawing abortion, and so forth.

This is why God gave us brains and constitutional amendments–so that we could eradicate injustice wherever we find it, even if it’s in the original words of the Constitution.

I realize that I am in fact using the original words of the Constitution to defend the idea of changing those words in some instances. Obviously the problem is that different people have different words that they want to change, but I would hope and pray that overall, everyone wants to keep the part about “securing the blessings of liberty.”

Friday, July 22, 2005


Justin Raimondo at does it again! His column today shows, with extensive quotes from the Iraqi constitution that is being drawn up, that even the feeble Bushian excuse that we're in Iraq to bring democracy to that country is just as false as the claim that Iraq had WMD prior to our invasion.

Here is a particularly galling sample:

A pretty cushy deal, eh? Oh, but it gets better in Article 7:

"Iraqi citizens have the right to enjoy security and free health care. The Iraqi federal government and regional governments must provide it and expand the fields of prevention, treatment, and medication by the construction of various hospitals and health institutions".

I guess the Iraqi Founders can afford to be generous. After all, you're paying for it – yeah, that's right, you, the American taxpayer. You may be unemployed, widowed, orphaned, and eventually driven into homelessness by confiscatory taxation or just the sheer cruelty of having to keep pace with the rat race, but please rest assured that none of these terrible fates will be suffered by the Iraqis. You may be without healthcare, but no Iraqi will go without. That's what it means to be "liberated," these days – if you don't wind up as "collateral damage," you get to spend other people's money, and the sky's the limit.

That's what we're fighting for, good people--free health care for Iraqis while Bush and his HMO/Big Pharma buddies try to make it as expensive as possible to get health care for ourselves.

Raimondo goes on to point out how each grant of liberty in the Iraqi constitution is followed by a caveat that allows for it to be easily negated, as he explains here:

The apotheosis of this Islamofascist legal-political doctrine has got to be Article 13, my own personal favorite, which solemnly states:

"1. Public and private freedoms are protected provided they do not conflict with moral values and public decency."

In Basra, in the south of Iraq, the religious police are already patrolling the streets, brutally repressing all signs of un-Islamic behavior: alcohol, bright clothing, modern haircuts, men who shave their faces, unveiled women, and other such abominations. This provision legalizes these fanatic vigilante gangs and paves the way for their institutionalization as legal arms of the "Islamic Republic of Iraq."

And this brings up an interesting question--is this the first you've heard of this? Because it's the first I've heard of it. Why is MSNBC, for example, running movie preview/celebrity puff shows on the weekends instead of say, putting together a program or programs about...oh, I don't know, the contents of the Iraqi constitution?

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Americablog has the scoop, as does Raw Story...somebody is lying in all this, and the only ones who really have any motivation to lie are Rove, Libby, et. al. Olbermann pointed out this evening that the Wall Street Journal will have more on the classification level of that State Dept. memo and it doesn't look good for Rove and friends, because it was marked "Top Secret" and the sentences about Valerie Wilson were marked "SNF"--short for Secret--No Foreign intelligence services can see it. By the way, Olbermann is a great broadcaster in my book.

Shit, goddamn...these Rove defenders are running out of excuses...the facts just ain't turning their way...

Here's a short list of some of the arguments/justifications they've used in the past, and even tonight on Hardball with McCain (even if he cut his losses with Bush now, he's still tarnished by his campaigning for Bush in '04 and his water-carrying for Bush ever since):

1. Plame was not undercover--the Washington Post story from today and the Wall Street Journal article from tomorrow disprove that.

2. The British still stand by the "16 words" (McCain trotted this out on Hardball tonight)...

Well, wait a second--in looking for links I ran across this summary of this debunking of the pro-Rovers. Someone's got this numbering thing all wrapped up, so I'm leaving it at that...

More Terror Attacks in London...

You know, I was a little disappointed in Jon Stewart tonight. He commented on the strategy of the bombers in London, mocking them for bombing civilians when what they want to achieve is Britain's withdrawal from Iraq. He said that commuters have no power to withdraw the British from Iraq and aren't responsible for British soldiers being there in the first place.

Well, I know he said that as a gesture of solidarity with the British people, echoing his emotional remarks after 9/11, but it wasn't funny or even that helpful. Let's remind ourselves again, these people don't want to destroy British or Western society. The successful London bombers were part of it and benefitted from it.

What they want is the West out of the East, and they know they don't have the military might to attack the leaders of the West. But they know they can attack the people those leaders supposedly represent, and so they do, hoping that will cause the represented to badger their representatives about getting out of a situation we should have never created in the first place. Because in fact, in a democracy, each of us is responsible for the policies of our government.

God knows I feel nothing but sympathy and heartache for the victims of suicide bombings. That shit is so fucked up. But if we want them to end, all we have to do is accommodate the reasonable wishes of these people. And those of you who would write me or make comments that don't agree with this will of course draw a parallel to Chamberlain and Municha and appeasement and argue that you can't negotiate with terrorists and so forth and so on--I know the drill. Spare me.

But really, what they want is so simple--it's what people everywhere want, which is to be left alone and to be free of interference from foreign governments and not to be occupied by other countries who seek to control their resources and what have you. It's actually not unreasonable at all and ought to be heeded. Don't forget the conclusions of Robert Pape in Dying to Win...

I'm in no way saying that if terrorists threatened endless suicide attacks unless America became a fundamentalist Islamic country, that we should go ahead and do it so the suicide attacks would stop. We have defend our right to exist as we see fit, just as they are doing. But demands that we leave their lands do not strike me as unreasonable, and yes, I am aware that we use a lot of their oil. But we should have gotten off oil decades ago and we should accelerate our research into renewable sources of energy and convert to them pronto and then, as Dan Bern says, we won't have to kiss the ass of whoever's got the oil...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I enjoyed the Daily Howler's take on the Supreme Court story...When I first looked the stories last night, I thought the same thing that he elaborated on today...He says the press is already spinning Roberts' story, trying to turn him into an option that Republicans can argue no reasonable person can refuse, even though he apparently was instrumental in the Florida recount of the 2000 election...Political payback sure is sweet.

I noticed that Alterman used some of the same logic regarding this nomination as the man he vilified during the election of 2004--Ralph Nader.

Alterman takes a more or less blase attitude toward the nomination, pointing out that maybe the people who voted for Bush should get a taste of the horror they voted for, hoping that in a decade or two they'll wise up and get rid of the Bush types. Nader has been using that exact argument for a while now...I first heard him mention it in the 2000 election.

Raimondo at has an excellent piece on the Rove distraction. He points out how the whole investigation is not even really about Rove or Novak or Cooper or whatever, it's about finding out how we were lied into war. But Rove did in fact leak Plame's identity to Cooper and probably others.

Finding vs. Getting A Job

And then I was checking my Hotmail account and ran across this quiz. I realize they're just trying to be helpful by posting this tripe, but reading through it just made me tired and depressed and I'm not even looking for a job. But hell, if this war keeps going and this deficit keeps growing, we may all be looking for jobs soon.

It's a pretty standard "self-marketing" questionnaire--multiple choice answers to what are supposedly standard interview questions. What I don't understand is why any employers are asking such questions since there are so many resources like this quiz that tell a jobseeker what to say. And I'm sure there are some newly minted popular interview questions that aren't covered in the questionnaire. What is the hapless jobseeker supposed to do then?

I was entertained by the way the quiz's author kept saying that you should answer the questions honestly then proceeded to tell people how to bullshit effectively when questions about why you left your last job come up. The most useful thing that this article could have told a potential jobseeker is that universal, immutable truth of job-hunting: You have to know somebody on the inside to get hired.

But my point is that most people are lucky to even get an interview. There was a period in my life a few years ago where I put on the coat and tie and handed in applications for somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 jobs and got maybe five interviews. And from what recent jobseeking friends have told me, their experience has not been much different.

It's like I've always said, there's a giant chasm between "finding" a job and "getting" a job even though most people use the terms interchangeably. Anyone can "find" a job, but "getting" a job is a bitch...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


So much going on I don't know where to start...

Well, first of all I'll try using the new "BloggerImage" service...

I've dropped off on my intended "Songs of 05" tidbits that I planned on dropping here and there all through the year so that when it came time to make my Top 10 list of songs and albums in December, I would have an easy way to compile it. But anyhoo, if you like indie rock that slavishly imitates Pavement but yet that is somehow refreshingly its own beast (and quite inventive, tuneful, and catchy), get the album by Hockey Night pictured here...

It's definitely a contender for my 2005 Top 10. Not that I sit around and make music lists all the time, but I was thinking today about the musical acts that are most important to me, most influential to me. So here is a short, ever-evolving list off the top o' me head:

1. U2 (every album through "Achtung Baby")

2. Beatles (everything they ever did, but especially Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper)

3. Police (every album is great, even Zenyatta Mondatta)

4. Steely Dan (every album up to Gaucho is sheer genius--melodically, harmonically, etc.)

5. Bob Dylan (a student of my father's made me a cassette copy of the whole Biograph box set when I was in high school and I couldn't get enough of it)

6. R.E.M. (through Automatic For The People they could do no wrong--what a perfectly subversive combo of strangeness and accessibility--something I always try to achieve)

7. Firehose/Minutemen (don't make me choose--they're both Mike Watt and George Hurley playing with a singer/guitarist. Firehose is awesome because of the melodic sense of Ed Crawford, while the politics and chemistry of D. and Watt is unparalleled and irreplaceable)

8. Zappa (my favorite is One Size Fits All, but have a soft spot for Best Band You Never Heard...because it was the one that got me into his music)

9. Captain Beefheart (Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby are complete reinventions of rock & roll that not many have even heard and even fewer "get"...I didn't get it until I listened to it over and over while playing Super Mario 3 in my apartment in 1995...I had bought it long before that and was turned off every time I tried to listen to it)

10. Joni Mitchell (brilliant lyrics, crystalline voice, inventive guitar tunings--there are bright spots on all her albums, but Court and Spark and Blue are peerless works of art)

11. The Rolling Stones (their stuff is so familiar now that I thought about leaving them off just because they seem so obvious, but damn they have a ton of kickass tunes and that ragged sound is so...right)

12. Jimi Hendrix (again, this one seems to go without saying, but what a great lyricist he was, not to mention his guitar playing and his band...a lot of his solos were really good and memorable, but a lot of them not so much...but his songs and his feel and his spirit were/are unprecedented and his rhythm playing was always stellar)

Others that I just can't justify putting on the list, but that might appear on it at any time in the future...King Crimson, Sonic Youth, The Church, The Cure, and so forth.

Well, that was fun...I'll leave this as a music-only post and get back to politics tomorrow...

Sunday, July 17, 2005


I don't usually like to watch "Meet The Press" because not only do I find it infuriating, I also find it harmful. I mean, for the most part, the people on the show have something to hide and it almost always stays hidden and/or is obscured even more by some fast talkin'. And so the harmful part of the show is that rather than being educated by it, I feel that one actually "unlearns" by watching it.

But today I watched it anyway and thought it wasn't too bad. It never ceases to amaze me how some people (since 2000, it's been almost exclusively Republicans) can be faced with a fact, dead to rights, and still act like it isn't true, it's not a fact, etc. RNC chairman Ken Mehlman did this beautifully when Tim Russert pointed out that, by the admission of all parties involved, Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source on Valerie Plame's identity ("Wilson's wife" can only mean "Valerie Plame") and was therefore at least one of the leakers.

Mehlman acted as if that fact just didn't exist and proceeded to make up his own because he knows that Rush's listeners and Fox watchers will buy into it. He said that the information now available exonerates Rove rather than implicates him. But he knows that that argument is poppycock--he can't actually believe what he's saying. He's like the stereotypical drug dealer, and lies are the drug he's peddling. He wants you to get hooked on them but he knows better than to try the junk himself.

Krugman had a column this past week that really exposed and explained this kind of behavior:

What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.

And that part in bold has been the poisoned genius of the Republican disinformation campaign that has gone on since at least the late 60s. They got their own thinktanks doing "research" and publishing "findings" that are at odds with the mainstream of whatever field you can name, and then "working the refs" for access to the supposedly "liberal media" until there are now perceived to be two versions of reality--the actual one and the crazy rightwing one (sane rightists believe in the actual reality). Indeed, these days, as Krugman points out, "the facts are irrelevant" to these crazed cons in any given argument--global warming (it doesn't exist), tax cuts (help the poor), separation of church and state (they shouldn't be separate), and so forth.

The Logic Of Suicide Terrorism

And a new book by Robert Pape explodes another cherished wingnut myth--that Islamic fundamentalism is out to take over the world through terrorist attacks. His new book is called "Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic Of Suicide Terrorism" and I have only read a few pages of the intro and seen the last ten to fifteen minutes of his appearance on "Washington Journal" this morning.

But what an intro! He says that he's compiled a list of the 315 suicide-bomb terrorist attacks that have taken place everywhere in the world from 1980-2003. That includes two Intifadas, unrest in Chechnya, and so forth and so on--I'm assuming he used '03 as the cutoff because that's when the war in Iraq started. And guess what his conclusion was? Why it's what educated, reasonable people have been saying for years and the reason that suicide bombers themselves almost always give--to end occupation of their land or to bring an end to some wrong they feel is being continuously committed against them.

And on a side note, I was surprised to read that there have been only 315 suicide attacks--of course, one is too many, but as many times as one hears about suicide attacks, it feels like there have been thousands upon thousands of them. And there have only been 315. And the group that has committed the most of these atrocities is not even Islamic. It's the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, a Marxist group.

In this interview in the American Conservative, Pape says that Islam is not necessarily the overriding motivation for suicide attacks. Here's what I thought was the relevant text:
The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

So the principle is as simple as this--don't antagonize people just for the sake of it, just because you can. Or, specifically in our case, don't invade Iraq just because we feel like it. They don't like that. Disagreements should always be settled in the manner that can be seen as equitable by all parties involved. For but one example of how revenge and excessively punitive measures create monsters, recall that resentment about the terms of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was one of the conditions Hitler was able to exploit to accomplish his malicious ends.

So I guess I gotta get the book...hopefully it will help turn the tide in favor of our withdrawing from Iraq and ceasing to antagonize other nations/people. But I doubt it--see above about the politics of truth...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Freedom is on the march all right--away from American citizens. A U.S. soldier was arrested for questioning the mission in his blog. The soldier's name is Leonard Clark, and one of his friends has been keeping up with this situation at his blog (scroll down a little).

Is that legal? I mean, I have no idea, but I wouldn't think so. Aren't soldiers supposed to disobey orders they know to be wrong? And wouldn't that require them to be critical thinkers? And might that critical thinking bring them to a place where they don't agree with the mission? Is freedom of speech signed away when you join the military?

If so, no wonder the National Guard didn't meet its recruitment goals again.

And if Bush didn't smear himself with the blood of 9/11 victims every time someone asks him a simple question, Karl Rove would be sooo fucked. But remember, we don't have to get him fired (though that's the preferred outcome) or have him resign (another nice possibility)--we just have to smash the windshield of their credibility. Maybe also slash the tires and put sugar in the gas tank of the Bush administration. So then the press and the public won't let Bush and company pass the inspection and won't give them an inspection sticker and Bush will then be given a ticket and have a court date set.

I know it sounds vindictive, mean, and nasty to say all that, but we don't make the rules right now. Our guys aren't in charge of all three branches of government, our guys aren't spouting their ideas on every backwoods AM radio station in southern Rubetown 24 hours a day, and so forth. They make the rules, and a big chunk of the rules have to do with ending civility and rational discourse. If we put on our best suit and speak in the most precise yet polite language there is, we will only be laughed at and called out of touch with the people--see Al Gore in Election 2000.

The current rules are to be folksy and perceived as down-to-earth. You also have to be willing to fight. Pleas for civility are seen as weakness. So we only have to break out our rhetorical brass knuckles long enough to kick these motherfuckers' asses bad enough that we can get things back to how they should be. You know, where we're in control.

Always remember and never forget:

Oh yeah, and don't forget that the facts were being "fixed around the policy."

Don't forget, Iraq had no WMD, no nuclear program, no chemical weapons.

Saddam was given the key to the city of Detroit in 1980.

George Bush lost the popular vote in the 2000 election.

Bill Clinton was America's favorite president out of the last three.

America is the only country in the world that has ever used atomic weapons against another country.

Writing was invented in the area where Iraq now is--between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

A Muslim born in Baghdad introduced algebra, use of zero, negative numbers, and so forth.

The Catholic church forced Galileo to recant his heliocentric theory of the universe.

Monday, July 11, 2005

ROVE-ING TOWARD THE TRUTH (we don't have to win to not lose)

Don't have much to say about the Rove revelations that hasn't already been said. I disagree with Bob Somerby at the Howler about several things in his column today about the left's take on the Rove sitch. I think we should be making lots of noise and filling the air with a bunch of triumphalism, just like the Repukes did with Clinton. It worked, didn't it? I mean, if the beating that the Refucklicans gave W.J. Clinton didn't fuck up Clinton, the Democratic Party, and the country, then nothing did.

I say that to say that we should be foaming at the mouth for the downfall of Rove, even if it doesn't come down exactly the way we hope it will. After all, the Repukes did not achieve Clinton's removal from office, but hell, by the time they were done with him, it was almost as if he had been removed from office.

And that's the point with Rove and Bush. So what if Rove doesn't go to jail or get fired as a result of this? The point is for him to be walking wounded, so that the grilling Scott McClellan got today intensifies and Rove/Bush just becomes an untrustworthy joke, that the conventional wisdom becomes that "Bush wouldn't even fire Rove even though Rove was the leaker and Bush said he'd fire the leaker--you can't trust Bush, he says one thing and does another," etc. If the only positive thing that comes out of this is that the press finally gets its nuts back and calls bullshit on these guys as directly and fearlessly as it did today, that'll be more than we can say for the last several years.

Because frankly, this law about not outing undercover agents seems impossible to break even if you wanted to. That's how some people are talking about the Rove situation, pointing out that the law says that to violate the law, the violator has to "knowingly" reveal an agent's identity. And so far all we know for sure is that Rove referred to Valerie Plame as "Wilson's wife" in conversations with Time's Matt Cooper.

It sounds like this law was passed only for political purposes, as it is all but unenforceable. I mean, how can you prove in court that someone "knows" something? The accused can simply deny "knowing" as Rove has and then the prosecution has to find a way to prove "knowledge."

Come to think of it, that's the only way the right-wing crazies have been able to defend Bush and his lies about the Iraq war--they take the George Costanza approach, saying that a person cannot be said to be lying if they really believe what they're saying is true, as they say Bush was doing when he spoke about the threat from Iraqi WMD. That seems to me to be an all but nonexistent standard to define what a lie is--if people caught in lies have only to protest that they believed their lies to be truth at the time they were lying, then no one can ever be found guilty of perjury, one of the Ten Commandments (I don't know which number "bearing false witness" is and don't care to look it up right now) is null and void, etc.

It seems to me that a better standard is to hold a person to what they reasonably should have known or could have known. In Rove's case, for example, he claims not have known Plame's name and split hairs saying "I didn't leak her name." And that last part may actually be true, but the first part also more than likely is false--Rove was certainly in a position to know her name, having access to lots of classified material. In other words, he had the motive and the opportunity.

But that only creates a circumstantial case, but from what I have read of the wording of the law, it seems that a circumstantial case is the only kind of case that can be created regarding breaking this law.

But enough of that. Let us continue to make noise about this and not let it pass, not wait for it all to be sussed out before we pass judgment. That's how we lose. And we must remember, that we don't have to win to not lose. As long as Rove and Bush are sullied by this affair (as they should be sullied, at the very least) and the press sticks it to them harder and more skeptically, that's a victory, however small.

Friday, July 08, 2005

THE BRITS HAVE REALLY GOOD INTELLIGENCE... said one of the guests on today's Washington Journal. David Heyman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies was making this point amidst talk about our own terror preparedness in this country. It was kind of an aside, but he was basically saying that the British have a lot of experience with terrorism (thanks to the IRA) and that they have accordingly developed an intelligence service among the best in the world.

Two questions came immediately to mind: 1) why then did they know not about yesterday's plot and 2) why do pro-war types pretend to not take seriously the contentions in the Downing Street memos that, among other things, the case against Saddam Hussein was "thin"?

And Justin Raimondo takes up the question of the Netanyahu warning today at The first reports were that Netanyahu was warned by Scotland Yard before the attacks, then stories were changed--"clarified"--that Netanyahu was warned to stay in his hotel only after the first explosion.

Raimondo makes the obvious connection that since the conference at which Netanyahu was to speak was at a hotel above one of the subway stations that was hit that Netanyahu was being targeted.

Hmmm...this story will never make it into the mainstream media, but there it was for all to see on the AP page yesterday at


In his Washington Journal appearance, Heyman also conceded that no matter what anyone does in any country, terrorism will never be out of the realm of possibility. Everyone knows this, yet people still want to know, as one emailer to the program did, "are our chemical plants adequately protected," and so forth.

Of course reasonable steps should be taken to deter those who might be planning to commit atrocities, but let's get it clear--there is nothing anybody, not even His Holiness George W. Bush, can do to completely stop terrorism.

But a very wise first step is to stop antagonizing other countries and other cultures--i.e., pull out of Iraq now. Not in October 2006 (the month before the midterm elections, natch), not whenever Bush decides to get around to it--now. Today. Let's have the troops home by this weekend. And then maybe we can avoid 7/8 or 7/9 or 8/14 or Terror Wednesday or Sunday Bloody Sunday or whatever we'll call the next horrible terror attack on New York or L.A. or wherever. Because they want us out and we have no reason to be there--no WMD, no links to al Qaida. Why isn't everyone clamoring for withdrawal? Bush is a fake, a dimwit, and a very dangerous person--spank his ass and get our troops home now so we don't have to live in fear.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


London mayor Ken Livingstone issued this defiant statement today in response to the London bombing:

"I know that you do fear you may fail in your long term
objective: to destroy our free society."

These bombers are more than likely only as interested in destroying the western concept of a free society as we are in occupying Iraq. In fact, the bombers pointed out as much, saying that their attacks were meant as revenge for British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan:
"The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader
government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain
committed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

It's fairly simple, in other words--don't attack us and we won't attack you. Let us not forget that Iraq had no WMD, no pre-9/11 links to al Qaida, and was a sovereign nation that had not attacked either Britain or the U.S.

Now, killing innocent civilians is always deplorable and horrible and inexcusable. But we need to get to a point in the West where we can view terror attacks in the same way Chris Rock talked about understanding to a degree why O.J. killed Nicole, listing some provocative things she'd done: "I ain't sayin' he shoulda killed her...but I understand."

The right thinks that view is bunk, but we're already trying it their way with the 'misunderstanding" approach--i.e., invading Iraq and Afghanistan--and that's not turning out so well, so maybe we could try something else (Robert McNamara makes this point exactly in "The Fog Of War" when he recounts how nuclear war was averted by Llewellyn Thompson's suggestion of "understanding" Khruschev, who had actual WMD 90 miles away from us). At least trying to understand your enemy's motives and asking if maybe, just maybe you might have done something to provoke that enemy doesn't get tens of thousands of your own citizens killed and wounded in a desert quagmire.

Speaking of which, another soldier from my neck of the woods ,was killed this week, leaving behind a wife and two children. He was the same age as me and his family learned of his death just hours after receiving an email from him inquiring about the family's July 4th plans.

Once again, I'll point out that this morning's explosions blow a car-bomb-sized hole in Bush's argument that fighting terrorists in Iraq keeps us and our allies from having to fight them in our own streets. If anything, as these bombings illustrate, fighting in Iraq makes it even more likely that we'll have to deal with terrorist attacks here.

And 36 soldiers from my home state have had to die to disprove Bush's theory. Enough is enough--troops out now, send aid, apologize, throw Bush and Co. in jail (don't forget the Downing Street memos), develop renewable energy sources posthaste, and spend money and manpower improving our schools, hospitals, and lives.


I thought we were fighting al Qaeda in Iraq so we didn't have to fight them here--surely what the English thought and/or were told as well. Well, that doesn't seem to be holding true for the Brits--#2 in Iraq.
Of course, the bombings this morning were terrible, regrettable, and atrocious.
But could it be that by fighting in Iraq we're provoking attacks on us and our allies? Could it be--well, yes. Quite.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


So the G8 summit is underway, and Bono Geldof wants something done about African debt--"drop the debt," they say, and "make poverty history." How fitting then, that this week the incomparable David Cay Johnston brings us another one of his striking tax stories. The one-sentence summary that came to my inbox when I emailed the article to myself says it all:
"The number of affluent individuals and married couples who paid no federal income taxes jumped more than 15 percent in 2002."

Hear what that sentence says--these are "affluent" people, yet they paid no federal income taxes. They have big incomes but don't pay federal income taxes on them. And we know that there is no FICA tax after a worker's first $90,000 of income, so they're not really helping fix the Social Security problem either.

And this is happening while we are enjoying the highest federal budget deficit in history. This is happening while we're in the midst of a $300 billion + war of choice. And it's being done while the world's poorest people--the "least of these," if you will are dying every three seconds (if Will Smith is to be believed).

You know, maybe if these people paid some taxes, we could make poverty history in America and Africa. I'm not even necessarily suggesting that they be made to pay all the taxes that people in their income bracket. If they'd just be made to pay something, it would be infinitely better than nothing.

These people use the roads, the police, are protected by our armed forces, and use our infrastructure just like the rest of us yet they pay nothing to maintain it? Can it possibly be true? I know it's hard to believe, and I hate corporate America and I'm a liberal. I can't imagine that Rush's regular conservative, pro-business, pro-war listeners can bring themselves to believe it. Especially since the information is reported by the (gasp!) New York Times.

But I do believe it is true. After all, the information came from the Bush administration itself (which actually makes it automatically suspect)--I guess they want to show their corporate owners that their bidding is being done. And oh, how it's being done...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


or in lieu of that, here's some lines I shat out today:

with all these podcasts and bomb blasts i can't hear myself think
through all the pop ups and blogs i can't form an opinion
but the steady soft hum of my dell comforts me
i don't need myspace because i've got my own place

and all the nipples and the thighs get old after a while
anyone can pass as foxy and bright at their own website
i'm always worried that i'll eventually run out of memory
so i try to remember where the superhighway's exits are

every war from this one on will be fought online
in every chat room, forum, message board, and filtered inbox
with every mpeg, jpg, mp3, and html tag fortifying the supply line
forget your CTS, point and click, and let's get it on

the future is now just like the future was then
you can't see the future til you're in the past
maybe a flash animation will help put it all in perspective
or just forget your passwords and download into history


Don't have much to say in the way of politics today. I just want Rove news and there wasn't much forthcoming today...I watched "Hardball" for half a second--long enough to hear Andrea Mitchell ask that coif from the Family Research Council what kind of justice they will "allow" George Bush to appoint.

Of course we all know that Bush and the Repubics have hitched their falling, fading star to the religious right, but it's got to suck if you're the fucking leader of the free world, He Whose Finger Is On "The Button", etc. and then you see Andrea Mitchell on Hardball letting on that you take orders from some lame-ass "research" council...

Also, when is the Downing Street Memo gonna take W. down? And one more thing...if only it were Kerry that was getting to choose a Supreme Court nominee...

Friday, July 01, 2005


Somerby at the Daily Howler talks about how spin is created in general and offers the specific case of Clinton's '92 victory in general. The conventional wisdom or meme promulgated by Limp-dick and the crazy right is that Bush would've beaten Clinton had Perot not been in the race. Somerby ably disproves this here.

A current meme is that Bush is a "popular" president--which implies "well-liked", most likely because he recently won re-election (sorry, "won" should be in quotes). However, new poll numbers indicate that he is in fact currently not well-liked. In fact Bill Clinton was more liked than either the current Bush or his father. To wit, this week's ABC/Washington Post poll shows that 51% of Americans disapprove of the job the president is doing while 40% "strongly disapprove" and only 27% "strongly approve." Alterman points out here that Clinton's worst "strongly disapprove" number was 33% in fall 1994 and Bush I's worst was 34% in summer 1992.

So our new meme should be that President Clinton was in fact the country's favorite president of the last three. Just remember those figures--and that a lower number is better:

Clinton's highest disapproval: 33%
Bush I's highest disapproval: 34%
Bush II's highest disapproval (so far): 40%


Now of course this is significant--after all, Clinton will have been the only Democratic president in the last 28 years (come 2008) and he was smeared the whole time he was in office and ultimately impeached (but of course, not removed). The right would therefore have us believe that he was a terrible president, a terrible person, and not at all well-liked and this is supposed to lead the public to believe that Democrats are not fit for the presidency.

Bush II is supposed to be the leader that unified the country after 9/11 and rid the world of terrorists. For those things to have happened would be nice and would certainly create an all but inarguable proposition that Republicans are the best choice for the Presidency. But those things haven't actually happened and Bush II has actually created the largest deficit ever, led us into a dubious, ruinous war, presided over the most lost jobs since Hoover, and so forth. And the public knows this deep inside and currently 40% of them "strongly" disapprove of the job he's doing.

By contrast, Clinton presided over a period of unprecedented economic growth, created a budget surplus, and wartime activity was kept to a minimum. And only 33% of the population ever "strongly" disapproved of the job he was doing. So it's fair to say that Clinton was actually the most well-liked president of the past three--it's possibly more (in italics) accurate (close italics) to say that he was the "least disliked" president of the last three, but the former construction sounds better.

This defeats the argument that Democrats are not suited for the presidency and in fact has positive implications for Hillary's expected bid in '08. I wish some pundits would take this meme and run with it...