Monday, June 30, 2003


When I first began this blog, I wrote a post about the Second Amendment, where I argued that liberals (like me) who wished for other sections of the Bill of Rights to be interpreted as broadly as possible shouldn't try to read the Second Amendment from a narrower viewpoint. The Bill of Rights isn't the buffet line at Sizzler, from which you can pick and choose what you support. Intellectual honesty demands that you either support it or you don't.

Which is why I find conservatives' stammering over the Supreme Court's decision so embarrassingly ludicrous. First, Scalia wrote that "persuading one's fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority will is something else" and then, today Mickey Craig (a contributor to the Ashbrook Center's No Left Turns blog) writes that the "whole idea of limited government assumes that human beings can and should govern themselves."

What's amazing here is that these people are missing the entire point of the right to amend the constitution, which was designed expressly to protect the individual (or the minority) from the inherent excesses of pure majority rule. The Bill of Rights, in fact, is the very essence of the argument for "limited government." If the Scalias and Craigs of the world are willing to just toss out the Bill of Rights for a simple majority, they would soon find their guns sitting on the curb, waiting to be picked up by the ATF.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Do it yourself ethics check

First, read my post about Republican war profiteers on the Defense Policy Board, then read John Conyers' letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, in which he asks the IG to open an investigation into Richard Perle's dealings. An important section:

I am writing to request that your office immediately open an investigation into allegations of conflict of interest and other misconduct involving Richard N. Perle, Chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. As a result of this position, Mr. Perle is considered a "special government employee" and is subject to government ethics prohibition -- both regulatory and criminal -- on using public office for private gain.

Now that you've read that, mosey on over to the IG's web site, where it says

"Anyone, whether uniformed or civilian, who witnesses what he or she believes to be a violation of ethical standards and/or the law, including but not limited to fraud, waste, or abuse of authority, potential leaks of classified information, or potential acts of terrorism, should report such conduct through the chain of command or either directly to his or her respective service Inspector General or directly to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense Hotline at 800-424-9098.

Or, you can file your own "Fraud, Waste or Abuse" complaint just by clicking on the handy bar.

Be sure to remind the IG that the actions of some of the Board's members seem to be violations of Unites States Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 11, Sections 203, 205 and 208.

If you pray...

Pray for these soldiers.


In the Pentagon:

The Pentagon has awarded a 48-million-dollar contract to train the nucleus of a new Iraqi army to Vinnell Corporation, a US firm which also trains members of the Saudi National Guard.

Work on the contract announced Wednesday was to begin July 1. The Fairfax, Virginia-based company, a subsidiary of the US aerospace firm Northrup Grumman, said on its website it was hiring former US army and marine officers to train light infantry battalions and combat service support units for the new Iraqi army.

At least two of the members of Rumsfeld's hand-picked Defense Policy Review Board have direct connections with Northrop Grumman: Lobbyist Chris Williams and David Williams, who's on their advisory board.

Apparently, after John Conyers failed to get the DOD's Inspector General to open up an investigation into Richard Perle's shady dealings, the Bushies have decided they can get away with whatever they want.

Since "Fisking" has already been taken

Perhaps there should be a word for what it is that Billmon does so well.

Oh, wait. It's called paying fucking attention!

Go see what he caught "Dr. of Revisionism" Bill Frist saying.

Excellent work!

P.S.: Billmon's post is all about showing how Bill Frist is lying when he says he's "not sure" that weapons of mass destruction were "the major reason we went to war." He uses some choice quotes to show him up, but leaves out the following:

Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq


(a) AUTHORIZATION. The president is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

According to the resolution the Senate authorized, WMDs were the only reason for the war.

I think Frist had it right when he said, "Rather than give in to easy cynicism, we should work toward integrity and responsibility in all that we do. We must remind our children that telling the truth and accepting responsibility for wrongdoing are virtues with currency. Our nation's future depends on how earnestly we fulfill that shared duty."

Fat Tony just blew my mind

Antonin "Fat Tony" Scalia signed on to this travesty in 2000:

None are more conscious of the vital limits on judicial authority than are the members of this Court, and none stand more in admiration of the Constitution’s design to leave the selection of the President to the people, through their legislatures, and to the political sphere. When contending parties invoke the process of the courts, however, it becomes our unsought responsibility to resolve the federal and constitutional issues the judicial system has been forced to confront.

Basically, what's being said here is that, "Boy, it'd be great if we could leave everything up to the Constitution and the people, but, sometimes, when we're asked, we just gotta step in."

Of course, that's only when the ruling goes the way Fat Tony wants, otherwise, he gets all pissy.

Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct...

But persuading one's fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. (Link via TBogg)

And, even if he could reconcile the fact that, on one hand he's saying that the court's "gotta do what it's gotta do" and on the other he's saying that the court "ought to keep its goddamn nose out of places where it doesn't belong", then the question remains: What the hell right does a state have to turn "moral opprobrium" into law?

He might want to reconsider the whole "imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority" thing, too...

P.S.: The Daily Kos has an excellent post, though, which points out that Scalia, in bitching about the decision, hands gays an argument which says this case is the precedent by which they will gain the right to marry. Thanks, Fat Tony.

I think Jim should brace himself for some more calls.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003


I'm not sure, but can't this be filibustered?

Friday, June 20, 2003

Is an honest presidency important?

To Republican Senators, it depends on what the definition of is is.

First, go read this article which shows how the Bushies misused and altered intelligence to support a war in Iraq.

Then read these quotes, taken from the statements of US Senators after they voted to impeach Bill Clinton.

“It is hard to imagine that a generation or two ago, a majority of Americans would have greeted news of Presidential crimes and cover-ups with a shrug.”

-Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)

“The President's lawyers invoke this line, but they misread it. They argue that what it means is that to require removal, a President's conduct must involve misuse of official power.

“But that is not what the Constitution demands, or what Hamilton's comment fairly read suggests. Otherwise we would have to leave in office a President or a federal judge who committed murder, so long as they did not use any powers of their office in doing so. Rather, as Hamilton's language connotes, and our own precedents confirm, the connection the Constitution requires between the official's actions and functions is a more practical one: the official's conduct must demonstrate that he or she cannot be trusted with the powers of the office in question. This rule encompasses official acts demonstrating unfitness for the office in question, but it also reaches beyond such acts.

“We need not determine the outer limits of its principle to decide the question before us today: whether the President's actions here constitute a violation of a "public trust" as Hamilton uses the term. The answers to that question is plain when we consider his conduct in relation to his responsibilities.”

-Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI)

“Last December, on the eve of the House impeachment vote, President Clinton ordered air strikes on Iraq. The result is murky at best, the reasons unclear.

“Each time the President has acted, charges of "wag the dog" have reverberated around the globe. Whether those charges are true or false is no longer material. What is material is that the President of the United States is not credible. He is not trusted. He cannot act in the best interest of America.

“He has lost the moral mantle of leadership.

“He has selfishly placed this nation in jeopardy.

“It is precisely this kind of situation, I am convinced, that worried America's founding fathers as they devised the impeachment mechanism to remove a sitting president whose actions endangered the republic.”

-Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)

“Any discretion that exists in the constitutional framework to refuse to act in the face of impeachable offenses lies in the House of Representatives. The law has long recognized the legitimacy of prosecutorial discretion. But the law has also long criticized jury nullification. Unlike a normal jury, the Senate has the power to determine both law and facts. What it lacks is the raw power to refuse to convict in the face of law and facts that both support conviction.”

-Sen. John Ashcroft (R-MO)

“It is precisely in good times, with the President high in the polls, that it is incumbent upon the Senate to exercise very thoroughly and carefully the responsibility under the Constitution to make the difficult decision on whether the President has committed high-crimes and misdemeanors warranting his removal from office. If we are to have a government of laws and not of men and not of public opinion polls, then we must judge the President on the evidence presented to us. I believe that the acts that he committed constitute high-crimes and misdemeanors warranting his conviction.”

-Sen. Christopher (Kit) Bond (R-MO)

“I remember the first question my then nine-year-old son, Colin, asked me 17 years ago when I told him I was going to run for public office. He asked, ‘Dad, are you going to lie and stuff?’

“I told him, ‘No.’ I don't have to learn how to lie--I still remembered how to lie from my delinquent days. I'm still trying to forget it.

“I told him, human frailties not withstanding, elected officials should not ‘lie and stuff.’”

- Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)

“But I would submit that if a generation of young people are taught by our actions in this case that a lie carries no consequences, then the nation is at risk. If our citizens conclude that lawlessness in the highest office is acceptable, that their elected representatives are complicit in that corruption, and that nothing can be done to stop it, then the nation is at risk. If future presidents think they can go further in lying or obstruction of justice when they apply the 'Clinton Indicator,' then the nation is at risk. If the Executive Office of the President is occupied by an individual who is generally believed to have lied and betrayed the public trust--if the symbol, the icon of the presidency is compromised, the nation is at risk.”

-Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)

"What holds this Nation, this society, this culture, together? Yes, laws are part of it. But it is really the strong moral foundation anchored by values and standards--the individual sense of right and wrong, personal responsibility, accountability for one's actions. This is what holds a free people together. Respect for each other--not because a law dictates that action--but rather because it's the right thing to do."

-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

"No, an ordinary citizen would not be treated as the President has been treated. But ordinary citizens don't enforce the laws for the rest of us. Ordinary citizens don't have the world's mightiest armed forces at their command. Ordinary citizens do not usually have the opportunity to be figures of historical importance.

"Presidents are not ordinary citizens. They are extraordinary, in that they are vested with so much more authority and power than the rest of us. We have a right; indeed, we have an obligation, to hold them strictly accountable to the rule of law."

-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

"My wife and I have been married 40 years. I have a thing called the wife test. You go home and when you want to get an opinion that is totally apolitical, you ask your wife. So I went home and I presented the case--as explained so eloquently by the White House lawyers and others--on why we could have a lower standard of conduct for a President than we have for a judge. And I know the argument. And I expressed the argument to my wife in the kitchen. I said, there are a thousand judges, only one President. I went through the whole thing. Then she looked up and said, 'I thought the President appointed the judges.' You know, my wife is so dumb, she is always asking me questions I can't answer.

"But I really believe that in this case we are getting at the truth. I really believe that the President of the United States should be held to the very highest of standards.

"You know, Winston Churchill said: 'Truth is incontrovertible. Ignorance may deride it, panic may resent it, malice may destroy it, but there it is.'

"I think we have seen the truth. And I think the final truth is that this President should be held to the very highest of standards.

"Sometimes when I am not really sure I am right, I consult my best friend. His name is Jesus. And I asked that question. Now I will quote to you the response that is found in Luke: 'From one who has been entrusted with more, much more will be asked.'

"Mr. Chief Justice, I think Jesus is right."

-Sen. James Inhofe(R-OK)

"Rather than give in to easy cynicism, we should work toward integrity and responsibility in all that we do. We must remind our children that telling the truth and accepting responsibility for wrongdoing are virtues with currency. Our nation's future depends on how earnestly we fulfill that shared duty."

-Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN)

I'll bet Senator Inhofe's best friend is getting mightily pissed right about now.

P.S.: If anyone asks you if falsifying intelligence is important, show them this page.

Doesn't anyone remember anything anymore?

Doesn't anyone remember the "Bus to Canada" ads during the last election, when we were told Canadians were coming down here for cheap drugs? Their medical system, supposedly, had been hijacked by "government controls," leading to:

Restricted access to newer and more innovative medicines.

Rationed health care services that keep government costs down.

Long lines for life-saving treatments.

Long waits for cancer treatments.

If all that's true, then why would the Senate have passed a bill that allows Americans to head North for lower prices? Apparently, government controls and higher prices aren't as linked as Republicans would like us to think...

Thursday, June 19, 2003

WMDs... All alone in the moonlight...

How are the Bushies like cat-killers? Fellow midwesterner and veteran Stephen Charest has the answer.

Who wants to be a quarter-of-a-millionaire?

Would you like John Ashcroft to write you a check for $250,000? Do you have knowledge of any Bushies using information they know was false to justify war to the Congress or other branch of government? If you do -- and I'm talking to you, young secretary by the door in Rumsfeld's office -- then Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 47, Section 1031 authorizes you to receive $250,000 if you can help prove that a major fraud was committed against the United States.

Dean gives the digits

John Dean on Hannity and Colmes:

COLMES: Back to our debate with the former White House counsel to President Nixon, John Dean.

You know, one can -- we set a precedent when we impeached President Clinton over lying about sex, granted lying under oath, and that was the issue.

But his, you're talking about, if it happened, lying about something that would cause America to go to war, put people in harm's way and result in the loss of life on the part of both Americans and Iraqis, both military and civilian. Do you see an analogy there?

DEAN: I see a very great difference, actually, between the two.

I think that lying over bringing a nation to war would be a much more serious charge than would be lying over sex, and I think the American people and the Senate certainly made that determination, that it wasn't really an abuse of his office. It wasn't a high crime or misdemeanor. And I think that is exactly what the founders who wrote that document had in mind, that those sorts of offense were not were...

COLMES: So lay it out for us. Under what circumstances, what would have to happen -- give us a road map to impeachment, if you really believe that's something that's viable at some point.

What would have to happen for that to be a step that would be taken?

DEAN: Well, I'm not going to give you a road map to impeachment, because I'm one who would not wish any president to go through impeachment.

What I see as the problem is, if there has been a deliberate manipulation of the intelligence agencies, one, it would be a serious fraud. There is a statute called 18-USC-371, which is a conspiracy to defraud the United States. The mere act of interfering with or improperly influencing any agency or department of government, indeed, is a serious felony in the United States.

You really must read the whole thing. I didn't watch the show, but you can just feel Hannity reaching for something, anything to make Bush look better.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003



President Bush dismissed last weekend's mass antiwar protests as well-intentioned but irrelevant - the equivalent of a marketing "focus group" - as the Defense Department ordered another 20,000 U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf region Tuesday. (February 18th)


President Bush said Wednesday that he and other world leaders will not tolerate nuclear weapons in Iran and he urged Tehran to treat protesters seeking the ouster of the Islamic government with "the utmost of respect."

You know, when he first announced that he was going to make sure that Iraqis had universal health care and that religion was kept out of their government, I though it was an anomaly. Now, it seems everybody gets the good stuff but us.

History, Bush and the press

From today's Salon, a history lesson:

For instance, on April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg, killing approximately 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers. According to historians, Titanic survivors began disembarking in New York at 10 o'clock on the night of April 18. The next morning at 10:30, a special panel of the Senate Commerce Committee was gaveled into session inside the ornate East Room of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

Last year, when Cheney called Daschle to urge him to limit any hearings into 9/11, the V.P. argued it would drain sources away from the war on terrorism. By contrast, just 11 days after Japanese bombers hit the U.S. with a sneak attack killing nearly 3,000 people, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order creating a commission to "ascertain and report the facts relating to the attack made by Japanese armed forces upon the Territory of Hawaii on December 7, 1941 ... and to provide bases for sound decisions whether any derelictions of duty or errors of judgment on the part of United States Army or Navy personnel contributed to such successes as were achieved by the enemy on the occasion mentioned." It was the first of eight government-led investigations into the Pearl Harbor.

The Warren Commission, headed by Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, was formed just seven days after President Kennedy was assassinated. Last February, after seven astronauts died when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated 200,000 feet above Texas, NASA's Columbia Accident Investigation Board was created 90 minutes after the incident; $50 million was immediately set aside for the probe. And in just four months, the board has already made public significant findings about the crash investigation.

By contrast, nearly two years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the 9/11 commission only recently opened up its New York City office. The commission's budget has been increased to $14 million, but many experts say that's still far short of the sum needed to do the job right.

Given that perspective, there's a growing sense among some 9/11 advocates that the news media have let them -- and the nation -- down. "I'm very disappointed in the press," says Breitweiser. "I think it's disgusting the independent commission is doing the most important work for this nation and it's not even reported in the New York Times or on the nightly news. I've been scheduled to go on 'Meet the Press' and 'Hardball' so many times and I'm always canceled. Frankly I'd like nothing better than to go head to head with Dick Cheney on 'Meet the Press.' Because somebody needs to ask the questions and I don't understand why nobody is."

You've gotta read the whole article. You wll be pissed.

On the other hand...

I sent Jim Capozzola a "Capozzola for Senate" banner/bumper sticker design yesterday and today he's bowing out of the Senate race. Could it be that he decided that he not only lacked the funds, the time and the drive but also the all-important friends-with-graphic-design-skills necessary to win an election?

I'm sorry, Pennsylvania.

Toot toot

I know. You shouldn't toot your own horn because you'll grow hair on your palms... or... something like that...

Anyway, Helen Thomas responded to my e-mail which mirrored the argument I made yesterday: The only way Bush could say that Saddam Hussein isn't a threat anymore is if he wasn't before (you'll have to scroll down, as permalinks are bloggered).

She simply wrote saying that it's a logical point. Let's see if she brings it up with Ari.

Wait, who's the divider and who's the uniter?

Dubya, et al, today:

President Bush today rejected an overture from Democratic senators who offered to head off a bitter fight over a future Supreme Court vacancy with a collaboration between the White House and Capitol Hill.


This morning, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer called the idea "a novel new approach to how the Constitution guides the appointment process." The Constitution gives the president sole power to nominate Supreme Court justices, who then need to be confirmed by the Senate.


"But the Constitution is clear, the Constitution will be followed," Fleischer added. "We always welcome thoughts, but certainly no one wants to suggest that the Constitution be altered."

Clinton in the 1990s:

During the Clinton administration, the White House made significant efforts to consult with senators of both parties prior to nominating judges. With respect to nominees for federal district courts, senators or other elected officials submitted specific recommendations to the White House. In some states represented by both a Democratic and Republican senator, the two senators agreed to divide responsibility for suggesting nominees. In other instances, the Clinton administration received feedback and suggestions directly from Republican and Democratic senators. For example, Senators Orrin Hatch and Trent Lott each suggested candidates for district court seats in their home states; Hatch pushed strongly for the nomination of Ted Stewart in Utah, and Lott recommended Allen Pepper in Mississippi. Despite concerns expressed by civil rights and environmental groups, both Stewart and Pepper were nominated by President Clinton and quickly confirmed.

Genuine consultation also took place on appeals court nominations. Proposed Clinton administration selections were routinely discussed with senators of both parties, and nominations were sometimes delayed for several months as a result. Press reports indicated that President Clinton consulted with Senator Orrin Hatch, both before and after he assumed control of the Senate Judiciary Committee, prior to the Supreme Court nominations of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. In at least one instance, President Clinton nominated an appellate court judge recommended by a Republican Senator, despite objections from progressive groups. This occurred in 1999 when President Clinton accepted the recommendation of Senator Slade Gorton and nominated Barbara Durham for a seat on the Ninth Circuit, although health reasons later led to the nomination's withdrawal.

These fuckers are such hypocrites.

The (Unauthorized) Bill O'Reilly Story

Go to tbogg right now and, since his permalinks are hosed, scroll down to "26 things that are more or less true about Bill O'Reilly." You'll be happy you did.

Also, Tucker Carlson may have to take his foot out of his mouth for once... so he can fit his shoe in there. Bbwhaaahahahaha (wheeze) HA (cough) WAAAHAHAHAHA!

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

"Jane Roe" changes her mind

Let me first say that I'm not what you'd call an "abortion supporter." I've never liked the procedure, but feel that criminalization of it would only lead to the deaths of young women in back alleys and bathrooms. I think that addressing the causes of abortion -- lack of education, poverty, etc. -- are a better way to decrease the number of abortions performed every year. (Also, if you're a married abortion opponent and you aren't raising at least one adopted child, you really don't deserve being listened to.) Having said that, let's look at the sad case of Norma McCorvey, the woman also known as "Jane Roe" in the 1973 SCOTUS decision of Roe v. Wade.

McCorvey recently filed an affidavit asking that the decision be overturned. Her reason? She simply didn't understand what abortion was when she became a party to the case.

Everyone should read the affidavit. Nowhere in it does she argue with the actual findings of the court (it is only an affidavit, of course), but, instead, tells a sad tale of a woman who was used to further someone else's political agenda. While I can't argue with the facts of her personal story (and she wasn't the only plaintiff), it seems that her whole argument boils down to this: I made a decision that I no longer agree with and no one else should have the right to make that decision. I find that kind of mindset reprehensible.

Even if Ms. McCorvey didn't know the realities of abortion, she had given birth to two children prior to the child she calls "the Roe baby." She certainly understood, then, the mechanism by which she kept getting pregnant. After the case, she went on to work in "abortion clinics" for years. She could handle the "violent act" of abortion for so long, she writes, because she was "drunk or stoned much of the time," even, she suggests, while assisting in abortion procedures.

This is a terrible spokesperson for the conservative call to "personal responsibility," seeming to suggest that ignorance and substance abuse excuse whatever actions one might want to commit.

The truth is that, no matter what Ms. McCorvey thought or thinks about abortion, the Roe v. Wade decision was decided without her actual assistance and hinged on matters of law so delicately considered that even Rehnquist (who dissented) has had difficulty arguing with it since. The right to privacy proceeded Roe v. Wade by 80 years (Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 1891) and the changing of one person's mind (or her being used by outsiders for yet another political purpose) should not have any bearing on that ruling.

It’s official

There are no weapons of mass destruction and President Bush knows it. Otherwise, how can he say this:

Saddam Hussein was a threat to America and the free world in '91, in '98, in 2003. He continually ignored the demands of the free world, so the United States and friends and allies acted. And one thing is for certain -- and this is for certain: Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States and our friends and allies.

Considering that A) the administration believes Saddam Hussein is still alive (and directing attacks against American troops, which seems to imply a threat right there); B) that he stole a lot of money before leaving and; C) that he had weapons of mass destruction which we still can’t find; Saddam Hussein seems like a greater threat than ever. Unless, that is, the administration doubts A or C.

Knowing this administration’s usual tactics, it seems unlikely that Saddam Hussein’s death wouldn’t be shouted from the rooftops by Paul Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld and Dubya. Therefore, we can only conclude that the administration doesn’t believe that there was any great threat of weapons of mass destruction in the first place.

Remember Colin Powell holding up that little vial of baking soda (or whatever) and saying that “less than a teaspoon of dry anthrax” was deadly? How many teaspoons could a rich, crazy dictator on the run have with him?

The only way that the Bushies could possibly say that Hussein isn’t a threat is if they didn’t believe he was a real threat in the first place.

P.S.: As I've said before, though, I desperately hope that weapons are found there because it's bad for the U.S. if they aren't.

Thursday, June 12, 2003


Joe Conason shows Sean Hannity's toe-sucking buddy Dick Morris to be a bold-faced liar. Who knew?

And Bob Somerby has points out numerous problems with Margaret Carlson's nasty new book.

How do these people think they can get away with this crap?

So long, soldier!

I met Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki a few times in Bosnia. Working in Army public affairs in the country, I had a few chances to talk to him before he talked to the media or congressmen who were visiting us at Camp McGovern. He seemed like a nice, funny guy and a real soldier to boot -- one of those people who is confident enough that he doesn't feel the need to strut. He left the Army today and had the guts to chide Don Rumsfeld, but the class to not dishonor the Army in the process.

''We understand that leadership is not an exclusive function of the uniformed services,'' Shinseki said to an audience that included members of Congress and military officers from countries across the globe. ''So when some suggest that we in the Army don't understand the importance of civilian control of the military, well, that's just not helpful--and it isn't true.

''The Army has always understood the primacy of civilian control,'' he added. ''In fact we are the ones who reinforce that principle with those other armies with whom we train all around the world. So to muddy the waters when important issues are at stake--issues of life and death--is a disservice to all those in and out of uniform who serve and lead so well.''

Well put. Now go read this Counterpunch article about how Rumsfeld is alienating his commanders. Don't you think there's a reason that the couldn't get a currently serving general to take the Army Chief of Staff slot?

P.S.: If you're interested in an interesting article about the history and consititutionality of getting rid of a serving officer makes "contemptuous comments" against a sitting president (like the Air Force general who called Clinton a "pot-smoking draft-dodger" and the Army colonel who said Bush was "sleazy and contemptible"), then check out this article from The Army Lawyer

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

At last!

Of course it wasn't about WMDs and the statement did have a qualifier, but it's nice to see someone in the Bush Administration finally saying something like this:

"Well, I suppose the truth has a certain virtue." - Donald Rumsfeld, June 10, 2003

Terminology and terror

Would someone explain to me how the people at Fox News can constantly complain about "political correctness" (they have a column on their website called "Tongue Tied, which whines about it constantly), but still use a term like "homicide bombers."

For those who don't know, the term was first used over a year ago by Ari Fleischer. "I started to use that term is because it's a more accurate description," said Fleischer. "These are not suicide bombings. These are not people who just kill themselves. These are people who deliberately go to murder others, with no regard to the values of their own life. These are murderers. The President has said that in the Rose Garden. And I think that is just a more accurate description of what these people are doing. It's not suicide, it's murder."

Now, a smarter man than I (and, apparently, a homey) has discussed the rhetorical reasons behind this change already. What bothers me most of all is that the phrase doesn't mean anything. The phrase strips away the fact that the person who did this was willing to die in order to commit this act. This is meaningful because it's descriptive. Unless the perpetrator is part of a demolition team, then nearly all bombings are supposed to be "homicide bombings." Nearly all bombings have the intention of killing someone. What makes a suicide bombing different is that they are particularly hard to guard against because the perpetrator has little fear of death.

But even more, look at Fleischer's statement that "these are murders." In equating the broader term of homicide with murder ("The crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought." - Merriam Webster) they are diminishing both words. Consider that Bush, in his role as Governor of Texas, was ultimately responsible for the homicides of 152 Texas inmates. Only the most hardcore opponents of the death penalty consider those to have been murders. Homicide, as described by the dictionary, isn't necessarily unlawful, but is simply the killing of one human by another. Death Row could be called Homicide Row and would actually be more to the point (people aren't just sent there and left to die, but are killed). Timothy McVeigh's death certificate attributes his death to homicide and every soldier who has ever shot his weapon at another in war has at least attempted homicide.

Therefore, in their unflagging desire to twist words for their own gain, they've taken both the description and the horror from a phrase that was already horrible enough. That the RNC stooges at Fox News jumped on the bandwagon (alone, thankfully) is no surprise. Everyone knows they are a bunch of conservative tools. The fact that they use the phrase while decrying other forms of "political correctness" just shows, once again, what a bunch of hypocritical buffoons they really are.

It makes my fingers feel funny just typing this

Friedman has a point.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I, for one, owe this guy a beer

You have to read Billmon today, who remind us what journalism should be.

Keeping track of what those in power say -- and holding them accountable for it -- is not brilliance. It is (or should be) the stuff of ordinary journalism. It's the kind of thing the American media used to do, sometimes -- before 9/11 and our endless "war" on terrorism caused it to shut down the part of its collective brain devoted to critical thinking.

The fact that some dinky little blog now has to do the job does not reflect great credit on the blogger, but rather great shame on the media. Like the rest of American society, American journalism appears to have flushed some of the most important lessons of the Vietnam War down the toilet.


But what the media seems to be lacking these days is a short-term memory. Things get said, then dumped on a hard drive somewhere and forgotten. Maybe it's just a function of information overload -- too many press conferences, too many hearings, too many Sunday talk shows. And, in a era of corporate media "synergy," not nearly enough journalists to cover it all.

I don't know. But sometimes it seems the net effect is the same as if the media didn't report this stuff at all. Party lines can be set, hyped, revised and discarded all within a few news cycles. Maybe that's the real irony: In a media world in which information overload blends everything into a featureless white noise, the Orwellian vision of an infinititely elastic "truth" becomes attainable.

But, as the reaction to my post shows, we're not there yet. Journalism may lost its memory, but it's still willing to borrow the blogsphere's.

Rock on, Billmon.

Call and response

CON: Liberals are just trying to turn the WMDs into a political tool.

LIB: Wrong. Democrats in congress wanted to deal with Saddam Hussein several years ago, but Republicans opposed them. The same Democrats who supported Clinton's policy on Iraq supported Bush going to war. It's Republicans who have changed their tune over time. If getting Saddam out of power was so important that it had to be done right now, then wouldn't it have been even better if we'd done it 5 years ago? You say that Saddam terrorized his own people and that, in and of itself, is justification for the war. If that's so, then how many more lives were lost by opposing Clinton for political reasons in 1998?

CON: Bush was given bad intelligence by the CIA and others.

LIB: The intelligence was easy enough to disprove that the much maligned UN inspectors saw right through it. One of them called the information "garbage." Hans Blix is owed an apology. He was demonized simply because he refused to say that he'd found anything.

CON: We'll eventually find the WMDs.

LIB: I hope we do. If not, our stock in the international community will have diminished and, when we do have vital information about terrorists, the people who can help us may not believe us. However, it seems obvious that the Bush administration oversold the evidence it claimed to have about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. When Colin Powell showed pictures and played tapes that "proved" that there were WMDs in Iraq, we were led to believe that the White House had information about where these weapons were. After checking over 230 sites in three months, the Army units who are searching have found nothing yet and are getting time off.

CON: We needed to go to Iraq to send a message to those who would attack us.

LIB: Over 3,200 people died in Iraq. Killing people to send a message is the definition of terrorism.

Reporting scandal hits the blogosphere

You may have already read this, but let's hope that Andrew's admission that he was wrong has come soon enough to save The Poor Man.

President "Real Man" and his dish squad

Republicans, always willing to argue with the substance of policy issues, have devised a scheme to really put their well-conceived ideas and insights into the public eye:

Have you ever found yourself wondering if Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry is really Thurston Howell III, the Gilligan's Island millionaire? No? Well, you will soon if Republican strategists follow through with their prankster plans for the 2004 presidential race. "We'll gig 'em whenever and wherever we can," says one source. The idea is simple: Send an "attack mascot" to primary and caucus appearances of leading Democratic White House hopefuls to heckle and unnerve the candidates. Initial plans by GOP strategists focus on Kerry, Rep. Dick Gephardt, Sen. John Edwards, and Sen. Joe Lieberman. Just this weekend, Edwards will be met in his home state with a Welcome Wagon, a dig at how much time he has been away campaigning. The most original is the Kerry gag mascot: somebody dressed as Howell, the lock-jawed dim bulb who inherited his wealth. In his straw hat: a $150 price tag to represent his barber's fee. Suggests Kerry spokesman David Wade, the GOP "should lay off the Gilligan's Island imagery before we cast George W. Bush as Gilligan in the remake." - U.S. News and World Report, by Paul Bedard, June 10, 2003

Wow! That's brilliant. Thank God that, as the National Review would have it, "the adults are back in charge" and we don't have to put up with any "adolescent hijinks."

The only nagging problem I have here is that President Tough Guy would drop a load in his Brooks Brothers trousers if he had to deal with the same thing. Remember how he used the Secret Service and police to stifle protest?

In town after town where Bush has come to raise money or make a speech, his venue and the route leading up to it have been purged of protesters. This is accomplished through the combined efforts of local policing agencies and the secret service, which scour the crowd for any hint of opposition. Anyone with an anti-Bush sign is relegated into what is euphemistically called a Free Speech or Demonstration Zone -- a swath of land usually off the main thoroughfare and chained off so as to make it virtually impossible for the targets of the protest to read the signs or hear the chants. Those with pro-Bush signs are often treated very differently. They are free to cheerlead the president as he rides toward his engagement, which typically is further sanitized by being invitation-only.

This kind of censorship is indicative of a leader who lacks confidence in his own powers of persuasion and the legitimacy of his course. Why else would Bush be so interested in hiding evidence of dissent within the American populace?

The Secret Service claims that security concerns justify the use of segregated zones for protesters. That's a lot of bunk. As long as demonstrators do not impede the flow of traffic they have a right to be anywhere the general public is invited. Think about the freedom we would be giving up if police could cage anyone who wants to exercise his or her First Amendment rights.

As Bill Neel of Butler, Penn., says, "(Under the Constitution,) the whole country is a free speech zone." Neel, 65, a retired steelworker, was arrested on Labor Day for stepping outside the fence where he and a small group of protesters were cordoned off as the president made his way by motorcade for a speech to union carpenters. His sign read: "The Bushes must truly love the poor -- they've made so many of us." Bush supporters waving signs and flags were allowed to freely line the route.

Call me kooky, but there's just something a little less-than-Gary-Cooper-in-High-Noon who talks big, sends out minions to interrupt others, but is afraid of 65-year-old steelworkers and pacifists. Perhaps, during this election, he might want to worry about judges.

Next up on the docket: God v. Rick Santorum

I'll bet nothing pisses the Christianists in the government off more than a liberal who really knows the Bible. Take, for example, Quiddity Quack who points out that the Bible is in opposition to Santorum and his "Unborn Victims of Violence Act."

Now, while I'm a person who doesn't like abortion (but feels that its criminalization would have some terrible consequences) it's very interesting to me to notice that the Bible verse quoted above is followed by this:

And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. - Genesis, 21:23-25

Go read what Quiddity has to say about this and you'll see that the Bible itself treats a fetus as something different than a living human being! It suggests that, for killing an "unborn victim" a person should be made to pay a fine to that child's parents, but if you kill someone, you should be killed in return. It's fascinating that this has never been pointed out to me before.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Mark Shields is right!

He writes today about Tom Friedman, the newest member of the "WMDs don't matter" crowd. Shields says that it's not whether or not the war was a good thing, but whether or not we were told the truth.

In a democracy, the informed consent of the people depends upon citizens' free access to the truth. If Friedman is right that the administration's weapons of mass destruction "imminent threat" was primarily a political cover story, then Americans were urged to make the most solemn of all judgments -- the decision to go to war -- primarily for reasons more synthetic than authentic. Now, after the fact, supporters of the pre-emptive war argue that it is OK if even for demonstrably wrong reasons the United States did the "right" thing.

As the duplicity and deception of Vietnam and Watergate remind us, the credibility of an American leader is indeed perishable. A leader who misleads his countrymen reaps the whirlwind. The leader's punishment is the people's mistrust. Mistrust breeds cynicism; cynicism breeds alienation. That could harm the United States more gravely than any "unmanned aerial vehicles" from Baghdad.

Shields also has a solid point about the lack of sacrifice on the part of our leadership, but misses a rather obvious point (that, sadly, has been missed by many). When people like Friedman write that we are willing to fight wars to "make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined", they seem to forget a simple fact: Killing to send a message is the very definition of terrorism.

On a personal note...

I'd like to wish Dwight Meredith's parents a happy 57th anniversary. It's a wonderful thing to see.

You should go read his father's advice if you'd like your marriage to last as long. (I'd link to it, but permalinks are bloggered.)

How one Republican supports the troops

He doesn't let them get promoted.

(Don't forget, Larry Craig was one of the biggest whiners about the cost of Clinton's trips, but was oddly silent on Bush's ridiculously partisan use of Air Force One during the 2002 elections.)

Friday, June 06, 2003

Holy shit...

...and it's all over the fan. Eeeewww.

The U.S. Defense Department has confirmed that its own analysts reported last year that they had no reliable information that Iraq had chemical weapons.

However, a Pentagon spokesman said the report prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency, also said it had information suggesting Iraq was producing and stockpiling chemical weapons. And the analysts also said Baghdad definitely had the capability to produce such weapons.

The development come as the Bush administration is denying allegations that it slanted intelligence findings to justify a war against Iraq. The defense official also cautioned that the work of intelligence analysts is subject to the interpretation of political policymakers.

The report would have been one of several analyses of Iraq's weapons threat seen by the White House. The Central Intelligence Agency and other security agencies also briefed the president. News of the report coincides with a Senate investigation into what was known and what was claimed about the threat Iraqi posed before the war started. The Senate Armed Services committee Friday, was holding closed hearings on the matter.

The Bush administration has said repeatedly that it is confident U.S. forces in Iraq will eventually discover concrete evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical weapons.


White House officials said that it was unclear whether President Bush or other administration officials saw the report, but one senior official said the president is confident of his decision to invade Iraq. The president will be proven correct, the official said.

The summary indicates that the intelligence community had concerns about Iraq's activities, including "unusual munitions transfer activity in mid-2002," which it says "suggests that Iraq is distributing CW [chemical weapons] munitions in preparation for an anticipated attack."

"Iraq is steadily establishing a dual-use industrial chemical infrastructure that provides some of the building blocks necessary for production of chemical agents," the summary said.

Military intelligence sources have told CNN that they were concerned about Iraq's production of castor oil and chlorine, especially because those facilities were able to exceed what Iraq may have needed for industrial purposes.

The summary notes that Iraq had renovated and added production lines at two facilities formerly associated with Baghdad's chemical warfare program. Activities at those sites had included reconstruction, salvage operations and equipment movement and deliveries in the months after the expulsion of U.N. weapons inspectors in December 1998.

But the summary indicates the Defense Intelligence Agency questioned whether the program was capable of producing weapons of mass destruction.

"Baghdad is rebuilding portions of its chemical production infrastructure under the guise of a civilian need for pesticides, chlorine and other legitimate chemical products, giving Iraq the potential for a small 'breakout' production capability."

The summary listed a number of factors limiting Iraq's abilities to produce chemical and biological weapons.

"Iraq retains all the chemicals and equipment to produce the blister agent mustard, but its ability for sustained production of G-series nerve agents and VX is constrained by its stockpile of key chemical precursors and by the destruction of all known CW [chemical weapons] production facilities during Operation Desert Storm and during subsequent UNSCOM [U.N. Special Commission] inspections," the document said.

"In the absence of external aid, Iraq will likely experience difficulties in producing nerve agents at the rate executed before Operation Desert Storm."

The senior White House official said that the issue of whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was never debated -- the only question was what to do about them.

Please note the context of his futher comments makes clear that the dipshit "senior White House official" said this is defense of our actions in Iraq.

P.S."Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." -George Bush, State of the Union, January 28, 2003. (Thanks, Billmon.).

The Unsinkable Georgie Bush?

While Fox News has been pushing a poll that says that Bush would win in an election against Hillary (who knew she was running?), everyone seems to have overlooked the fact that in poll after poll, his approval ratings have been sliding down in the past two months. Fox’s most recent poll only has him falling about five points, but others have him dropping twice as fast in the same amount of time.

Fox News:
June 4: 66%
April 9: 71%
Total drop: 5%

CNN/USA Today/Gallup
June 1: 64%
April 6: 70%
Total drop: 6%

May 30: 61%
April 11: 71%
Total drop: 10%

CBS News/New York Times
May 28: 64%
April 13: 73%
Total drop: 9%

Pew Research Center
June 4: 65%
April 9: 73%
Total drop: 9%

I don’t show these to say anything but this: With a downward trend in poll numbers, don’ t you think it’s about time that we quit seeing stories that suggest that Bush is unbeatable? Remember, he was barely over a 50% approval rating before the war started and Fox’s own polls show a 26% jump right after September 11, while other polls say it was over a 30% jump. Clearly people aren’t rallying around Bush, but around events. When they have time to look at the other news going on in the world and aren’t just waving the flag, Bush starts to look worse and worse.

Sophistry in Action

There's no idiot like an educated idiot. As an exemplar in the field of the well-trained stupid, I give you Keith Burgess-Jackson, J.D., Ph.D. Read this:

Suppose... that the Bush administration told a big whopping lie about its motive(s). Does this show that the war was unjustified? Not at all. First, motives are not reasons. A badly motivated person can do the right thing (by accident, as it were), just as a well-motivated person can do the wrong thing. That this is so is reflected in a number of common sayings, such as "It's the thought that counts," "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," and "You did the right thing for the wrong reason." The first two suggest that the act is wrong but well-meaning, the third that the act is right in spite of its poor or improper motivation.

Second, there can be more than one motive for a given action. The classic example of multiple motivation is a merchant giving correct change to a customer. This can be done both to do the right thing (by the merchant's standards) and to get the customer to come back (a case of self-interest). Morality and self-interest do not always diverge! Suppose, then, that President Bush had a disreputable motive (fill in your own; make it the very worst) in going to war. Does this show that he had no reputable (respectable, defensible) motive? No. That would be fallacious.

Third, suppose President Bush in fact had no reputable motive in going to war. Suppose he had only disreputable motives, such as defending his daddy's honor. Does this show that the war is unjustified, morally speaking? Again, the answer is no. Justification is objective; motivation is subjective. The war can be justified as an act of self-defense or liberation of a people (to name just two of many justifications) even if the person waging the war doesn't understand it in those terms - even if he or she doesn't view those as justifications. For consider: Either there is a justification for the war (objectively speaking) or there is not. If there is, then it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush. If there isn't, then it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush. Either way, it doesn't matter what motivated President Bush.

One thing - maybe the most important thing - young philosophers learn is charity. Before criticizing an argument, make it the best it can be. This is the fundamental fairness of the philosophical method. It is what turned many of us away from law, where fallacy, sadly, is rewarded. The philosopher cares deeply about process (the relation between premises and conclusion) and only incidentally, if at all, about the result. Too often in the debate about war in Iraq I have seen not just failure to put the best face on an argument but a seeming insistence on putting the worst face on it. This principle of charity in interpretation is nothing more than an application of the Golden Rule, to wit: If you would not like your own argument reconstructed badly - the easier for the critic to dispose of it - do not do so to the arguments of others. Be fair. Be charitable. Be honest. Do not contribute to the degradation of public discourse.

As far as the justification of war in Iraq is concerned, President Bush's motives are irrelevant. Why, then, has the public debate focused so sharply, to the point of harping, on his motives?

I have, since I read this, been combing through my memory to try to discover a more idiotic and twisted turn of logic and have, thus far, failed miserably. Let's take a look at what he's really saying: As long as there is good to be found in an action, then that action is justified.

So, if I took a gun and shot a person at random, would that action be justified if that person turned out to have been a very bad person? A thief? A murderer? A pedophile? As a lawyer, Dr. Burgess-Jackson should know damn well that it wouldn't be justified.

In the law, a person's state of mind plays a major role in deciding whether or not an action is justified. If I shoot someone in self-defense, for example, I shouldn't be held accountable for that action as a crime. If, however, I say that I thought someone might be coming after me, went to his house, kicked down his door and shot him in his sleep, I'm guilty of murder even if I find that his closet contains a 200-photo shrine of me, chicken bones, a doll made from my dryer lint and a memoir entitled How I Plan to Kill the Nitpicker. If the man wasn't standing over me with a gun, I don't have the right to kill him first. Unless, says the law, I truly believed I was in imminent danger

Look at what Bush did: he violated the UN charter by pre-emptively striking a country. Like the legal (and biblical) order against murder, there are ways to justify breaking the rules -- even big rules -- sometimes. Bush knew this and nodded to justification when, on March 17th, he said "The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security. That duty falls to me, as Commander-in-Chief, by the oath I have sworn, by the oath I will keep."

He went on to say that the UN had given him the right to attack Iraq already, saying that, "In the case of Iraq, the Security Council did act, in the early 1990s. Under Resolutions 678 and 687 -- both still in effect -- the United States and our allies are authorized to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a question of authority, it is a question of will."

But, it is a question of authority. Bush only had the right to do these things if he truly believed that a) he was protecting the country or b) there was clear evidence of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction at hand (and issue b is debatable, since he was claiming authority from a group which was, at best, ambivalent about his actions and was violating its founding principles at the same time).

If Bush were taken into a court of law and tried to use mass graves and Saddam's treatment of his people as a defense for his actions, he would be denied that luxury. By the rules which govern international relationships, he isn't authorized to fix those problems singlehandedly. Only if he could prove that he had an honest belief that Iraq had WMDs and the country was in danger could he be excused for violating those rules. Therefore, Bush's motives and his state of mind play a very important role in whether or not his actions in Iraq were justified and, if it's proven that his administration jiggered evidence to make his case, it wouldn't only be an impeachable offense, but would be a criminal act as well.

P.S.: Markos has an even better reason to look into Bush's motives. If Dubya's lying about the WMDs, then allowing soldiers to be put in harm's way while poking around in the sand looking for them is an incredibly cynical act. As a military guy, I say it's one thing if soldiers die in defense of their country. It's another if they die in defense of a lie.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Ladies and Gentleman... The King of Comedy!

Jerry Lewis badmouthed the Dixie Chicks to the New York Daily News, saying that they need to watch their mouths:

"You don't make fun of the queen of England, and you don't make jokes about the president of the United States. I resent those that do. The Dixie Chicks are embarrassed that he's from Texas? You don't say that about a sitting president. The First Amendment says you can say anything you want in this country, but it should have an appendage, 'Try to do it with class.'"

Just to show you an example of the kind of class Lewis likes in his statements, let's look again at the classy comment he made in Aspen three years ago:

As many know by now, Lewis provided the 2000 (U.S. Comedy Arts) festival's requisite controversy when, near the end of a tribute and lovefest hosted by Short, he told a large audience, "I don't like any female comedians," then helpfully explained: "I see the woman as everything she wants to be, but not that. That's only because I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies into the world."

Maybe it's just me, but that sounds an awful lot like a Toby Keith lyric.

Kick Ass!

I think Julia (of Sisyphus Shrugged fame) is sick and tired of wimps, whiners and weasels. I hope a lot of people get the message. Me, I'm going to have the last two sentences of her short but important diatribe made into a T-shirt.

Well, he was really interesting...

During a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation yesterday, it was pointed out that FCC Chairman (and Colin Powell's son) Michael Powell and the Republican members of the FCC met with a single lobbyist 37 times while deciding whether or not to relax media ownership regulations. They attended only one public hearing. When asked to explain, Powell cited the cost of such meetings:

Republican FCC Chairman Michael Powell said that hearing cost $20,000, and the commission didn't have enough money for more.

Yet Democratic Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein held nine other hearings around the country on a shoestring budget. Each routinely drew 400 to 500 people but received little media coverage. None of the other commissioners attended, and the total cost of all the hearings was $20,000, Copps said.

Copps said the FCC heard from more than 750,000 people, and 99.9 percent opposed changing the media ownership rules.

It seems that Michael still hasn't learned from his daddy how to obfuscate well. Just another sign that Republican nepotism in Washington is way out of hand. Remember, while there are many Democrats who have family members who work in Washington, it's Republicans, who are supposed to oppose government bureaucracy, who most often put their lips against the federal teat. Just to name a few, there's Billy Rehnquist's daughter,the embarrassingly corrupt Janet Rehnquist; when Dick Armey's son, Scott, failed to win daddy's house seat, the Dick set him up with a cushy job working in the General Services Administration (and then tried to arrange FCC rules to punish the media, who he blamed for the loss); there's Frank "Fuck the Caribou" Murkowski, who left the Senate to run for governor of Alaska, won, and the appointed his daughter, Lisa to the post; Dick Cheney’s daughter works for the Department of State and her husband for the OMB; and there's still Elaine Chao (Mrs. Mitch McConnell) and many others.

It's this kind of clear, embarrassingly obvious hypocrisy ("Government is bad, but my baby needs its money!") that just makes me want to freaking scream. It wouldn't make me so angry if these people were the best and the brightest, but, as Michael Powell has proven, they're often the bottom of the barrel.

P.S.: Lest we forget, go back and look at uggabugga's handy chart which proves that Republican-voting states like to attach themselves to the tax teat as well.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Hey, North Carolina! Jackbooted thugs are on their way!

Any second now…

Wait for it…

Oh wait. I forgot that, because John Ashcroft only has a problem with Muslims, he’s not going to charge in all haphazardly when it comes to uncovering the supporters of Christian terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph.

But why?

After 9/11, Ashcroft started picking apart every Muslim organization for connections to Osama bin Laden and, since Ashcroft himself called Rudolph a terrorist (and then inexplicably tried to take credit for his capture), we should expect to see the same sort of treatment for those who support Rudolph’s actions or the actions of Christian Identity, right?


If Ashcroft started following the money and, more importantly, the ideology of the group, he would create a map that led right to his own party’s filthy doorstep. Consider that the former Heritage Foundation policy analyst and Washington Times columnist Samuel Francis agrees with Identity’s assertion that the Bible justifies both racism and slavery. Consider that many of the members of the Council of Conservative Citizens -- whose ideas, according to Gordon Baum, their leader, mesh with those of Trent Lott “95 percent of the time” -- and the good ‘ol boys of Southern Partisan share those ideas as well. Remember that Ashcroft himself was glad to give an interview to Southern Partisan, a self-described “neo-Confederate” publication. Michigan senator Carl Levin brought it up when he said he would vote against Ashcroft’s nomination:

Senator Ashcroft not only granted an interview to Southern Partisan magazine, he commended the magazine for helping to "set the record straight." He said "We've all got to stand up and speak- in this respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda.

While in that interview Senator Ashcroft expressed support for Southern Partisan's message, he later said that he didn't know much about Southern Partisan and didn't know what it promoted. Fair enough. But since his interview, much has been said about the magazine in the media and at Senator Ashcroft's own confirmation hearing. Southern Partisan is described as a publication that defends slavery, white separatism, apartheid and David Duke" by a media watch group. In 1995, Southern Partisan offered its subscribers t-shirts celebrating the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. In the same year, an author, printed by the publication, alleged "there is no indication that slavery Contrary to Christian ethics" and in 1990, another article praised former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke as a "candidate concerned about affirmative' discrimination, welfare profligacy, the, taxation holocaust. a Populist spokesperson for a recapturing of the American ideal," In 1996, an article in the magazine alleged "slave owners ... did not have a practice of breaking up slave families. If anything, they encouraged strong slave families to farther the slaves' peace and happiness." And in 1991, another writer printed in the publication questioned, "Newly arrived in New York City, I puzzled, Where are the Americans?' I met only Italians, Jews, Puerto Ricans.

l take Senator Ashcroft as his word that he did not know much about Southern Partisan magazine when he praised them for helping to "set the record straight." But where was the immediate disgust, horror and repudiation when he learned what he had inadvertently praised? And, after the inquiries of others, why didn't he make a prompt inquiry to satisfy himself that he had not inadvertently advanced the purpose of a racist publication? Even in his written responses to the Judiciary Committee, he said he only rejects the publication "if the allegations about (the) magazine are true."

More than two years after his original interview, it appears that he never took it upon himself to inquire about the magazine's purpose. A person being considered for the office of Attorney General, the single most important person charged with enforcing our nation's civil rights law in a fair and just manner, should accept the obligation to make an inquiry if the American people are to have faith that their Attorney General will "build a single nation of justice...."

Also appearing in support of the magazine's ideals and between its pages, were Dick Armey, Thad Cochran, Phil Gramm, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, Pat Robertson, Wesley Pruden (Editor of the Washington Times), Phyllis Schafly and many others. Does anyone doubt that serious investigation into the Christian Identity organization wouldn't find enough overlap between its membership, the CCC and the people of Southern Partisan to warrant -- at least by the standards Ashcroft used while violating the rights of Muslim citizens -- further investigation of those organizations and the funds that they funnel into Republican coffers?

But I guess that pro-life, racist, homophobic terrorists can sleep tight in their little bunkers tonight. As long as they're white enough and “Christian” enough and have enough dirt on the crazy wing of the Republican party for John Ashcroft, it seems they have little to fear.

P.S.: It has been pointed out to me that Hesiod asked about this on Monday.

P.P.S.: Dave Neiwert has a great post on this issue, too.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Trouble With Unilateralism

Look, we all know that Republicans like to talk about following the rules while unabashedly breaking them, but it seems to me that they don’t even understand why rules exist in the first place.

The latest example is the addition of a “death row” at Camp Delta, the place where hundreds of prisoners from the Afghan war are being held. Why this kind of thing should scare everyone is that, as they have been since the inception of the camp, the Bush Administration is denying those prisoners their basic rights under the Geneva Conventions. Those prisoners are, no matter what the Bushies want to call them, clearly prisoners of war, as argued perfectly by Human Rights Watch here.

What the Chickenhawk Republicans in the administration fail to appreciate – perhaps because they have dedicated themselves to allowing others to fight in their stead – is that soldiers know that there are reasons for the rules of war. By refusing to meet the standard of the Geneva Conventions, the Bush Administration is acting in a manner which is no better than that of the NVA soldiers who broke John McCain’s arms repeatedly or the Japanese soldiers who bayoneted sick men on the roads of Bataan. By refusing to honor the requirements of a decent nation, the executive branch is making it much more likely that our own soldiers will meet with indecent treatment at the hands of future enemies.

The Bush Administration seems to believe that they have the right to demand that the rest of the world meet a certain standard of conduct. I still cannot comprehend where they feel that moral authority comes from when they fail to meet even this minimum standard of decency that the entire world agreed upon so long ago.

Monday, June 02, 2003

O'Reilly v. Reality

Bill O'Reilly just commented on the dustup between himself and Al Franken, saying that Franken wasn't worth listening to because (his list) he almost got into a fight with Sean Hannity, he "verbally assaulted" Alan Colmes (both of which are on my lifetime's "to-do" list) and because he called Rush Limbaugh a big, fat idiot in the title of a book. Look: if Franken almost got into a fistfight with Hannity, that means that Hannity almost got into a fistfight with Franken. Logic says that Hannity was probably at least as guilty as Franken, then. As for Alan Colmes, his whole job is to sit still and call himself a liberal while Hannity verbally assaults him, so he shouldn't get all pissy when someone calls him (my words) a pansy-assed dipshit who gives not only liberals but American manhood itself a bad name.

The weirdest thing, though, is that O'Reilly is mad because Franken called Limbaugh a few bad things, especially when two of those things (at the time) could be proven empirically with either a scale or an extra long tape measure. I don't remember O'Reilly saying that Limbaugh couldn't be taken seriously because he called Tom Daschle the Devil, Robert Reich a dwarf and Chelsea Clinton a dog. Funny how that works.

Finally, he said that in six-and-a-half years of doing his show, only two people have called him a liar. That may be so, (although Atrios shows that this time his lies are easily proven) but many people have questioned his integrity. Remember when he called for a Pepsi boycott and then, when libs were boycotting things they didn't like, he said they didn't believe in the First Amendment and refused to admit that he had done the same thing? O'Reilly is a perfect example of the neocon approach to argument: Say whatevery you want and hope that no one holds you to anything. I for one am glad that there are people like Al Franken out there to call a liar a liar. If you want, you can order your copy of his new book right now.
Coming back

I've taken some time off, it's true, but I was giving myself an ulcer. Trying to track the lies and falsehoods of the Bush Administration -- as my fellow bloggers know -- is like trying to herd cats. One minute they're arguing that we have the right to "defend ourselves" against a country which has weapons of mass destruction and, just when that's finally proven to be bullshit, they're saying that they didn't say that in the first place. You can see how it can be painful to person who appreciates a little logic now and then. Watch this space, though. I've been working out, I'm eating better and I'm ready to fight.