Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.


The Democrats' radical fringe represented by Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson, apparently.

Drum on Dean

Kevin Drum has something of a different take on Dean:
I don't want Dean to go over a cliff with this kind of stuff, but his reputation as a straight shooter allows him to say things that other people are only thinking, and his role as party chairman forces the press to pay attention. This is a good thing.

Initially, of course, it doesn't look that way, but guess what happens after the initial firestorm has died out? With news hook in hand, reporters will get to work. Does James Dobson control the agenda of the Republican party? Are Republicans overwhelmingly white? Do party leaders work against the interests of the working class? This is exactly where we'd like the focus to be: on our issues, not theirs. After all, the answers to these questions are inevitably going to be bad for the Republican party.

This is the same thing that happened with the Newsweek/Koran story. At first the White House thought they could get some mileage out of bashing Newsweek, and in the short term they were right. But within a week or two the initial firestorm had flickered out and the tide had turned: reporters had begun investigating the allegations and were starting to write stories about what was really going on at Guantanamo. Within a few weeks, it had gotten so bad that Bush felt it necessary to publicly allude to the possibility of closing down Gitmo altogether.

For my money, the lesson here is that if someone gets the press to pay attention to the issues you want them to pay attention to, it's all good. And if the only way to get them to do that is for Howard Dean to say something incendiary, then that's how the game is played. As long as he doesn't make a daily habit out of this kind of stuff, I think Dean is doing the party a favor.

"We are here to fight"

Dean won't back down:
Dean Tells Dems: 'People Want Us to Fight'

WASHINGTON (AP) - Howard Dean said Saturday that positive responses from supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough despite suggestions from some congressional Democrats that the party chairman should tone down his rhetoric.

"People want us to fight,'' Dean told the national party's executive committee. "We are here to fight.''

Over the past week, Dean described Republicans as "pretty much a white, Christian party'' and said many in the GOP "never made an honest living.''

Several Democratic lawmakers distanced themselves from their chairman. Republican officials called on him to apologize. After weathering the criticism, Dean forged ahead with the GOP scolding at the meeting of Democratic National Committee leaders.

Yet some Democrats say the former Vermont governor should not remain the center of attention.

...One of Dean's predecessors at the DNC, Don Fowler said, "The controversy over this statement or that statement is a blip and only a blip.'' But Fowler complained about leading Democrats who aired their gripes last week. "Even if they don't like it, they should have enough sense not to make those comments,'' Fowler said.

At the session in a downtown hotel, Dean accused Republicans of trying to suppress the vote, selling access to the White House for lobbyists and basically being dishonest with the public.

More on Dean in a bit.

Smells like Paul Anka

Weird weird weird.

(Via Slublog.)

Matt Yglesias, New Republican

David Sirota:
Matt Yglesias says the debate over "free" trade is essentially unimportant ... Either Yglesias doesn't know about these real-world effects of "free" trade policy. Or, from the confines of his own life as a Washington pundit, he simply doesn't care, because it has no real effect on his life. Whichever it is - he's certainly walking down a path so courageously blazed by increasingly irrelevant pontificators like Joe Klein and Tom Friedman.

More torture

This time, the victims included white people, so I'm expecting you GOPers to find this unacceptable:
Contractor alleges abuse by Marines

RENO, Nevada (AP) -- Security contractors were heckled, humiliated and physically abused by U.S. Marines in Iraq while jailed for 72 hours with insurgents, one of the detainees said Friday.

"It was disbelief the whole time. I couldn't believe what was happening," said Matt Raiche, 34, an ex-Marine who was one of 16 American and three Iraqi contractors detained at Camp Falluja last month.

"I just found it crazy that we were being held with terrorists, that we were put in the same facility with them," he told The Associated Press in an interview at his lawyer's office. "They were calling us a rogue mercenary team."

...One of his colleagues was slammed to the ground by a guard, he said.

"His head bounced off the asphalt." Raiche said. "He told me he heard one guard say to another, 'If he moves, let the dog loose."'

Raiche said his colleague told him that a guard then reached down and "squeezed his testicles so hard he could barely move."

When Raiche first arrived at the facility, he said a guard ordered him to the ground and put a knee in his back. He said he heard one Marine say, "How does it feel now making that big contractor money?"

Raiche said the Marines handcuffed them with "zip lock ties." When the detainees complained they were so tight they were losing circulation in their hands, they were cursed at and told to shut up, Raiche said.

It is a bit hard to feel sorry for these guys. Steve Gilliard doesn't:
Not that abuse is right, it isn't. But I can't say I feel more for them than I would Iraqis, and actually, a lot less. They went to this country to get rich off other people's suffering and to make doing the military's job harder by playing Rambo for profit.

However, whether or not you feel sorry for these contractors, one thing is clear: the US military is teeming with sadistic assholes.

Voting habits

Via Daou, a poster at Democratic Underground wants to know:

Why do working people vote against their own interests?

I assume he or she is asking why the middle class and the rural poor vote Republican, and I assume that "their own interests" means their economic interests. I have my own ideas on this. Short version--they don't believe Democrats will do anything for them economically. (This belief is not totally unjustified; Dems haven't been the advocates for these people that they should be.) Thus they resort to voting based on what for most people are secondary issues--gay marriage, etc.

This is why Democrats don't need to compromise their principles on abortion rights and other 'social' issues; they just need a credible message of economic populism. Therein lies the road to the White House and a congressional majority.

Time warp

What if Watergate had occurred in a political atmosphere like the current one?

Tom Tomorrow knows (but you'll have to look at an ad).

A call for a truce

Not by me--Bob at Kerry for President 2008 is calling for lefties to stop the infighting (I'm not saying that I'm necessarily against a truce, though I do admit that trucing in general is not in my nature):

I read a post tonight about how disappointing John Kerry was. He hadn't presented the Downing Street Memo to the Senate yet, and everyone was piling on.

Or how Howard Dean shouldn't have opened his mouth and say that Republicans were the party of "white Christians".

Or how Barack Obama was a big disappointment because he criticized Howard Dean.

Cut it out.

All of you.

We are all Democrats, Progressives, Feminists, Greens and concerned citizens. The future of America is at stake.

We cannot fight each other or we shall all lose. America shall lose. And this is not an acceptable option.

...Let us join together and strategize, support, communicate, educate, and finance the opposition that must succeed in 2006 and 2008 and on.

Too much is at stake. Peace everyone?


No Al Gore, no internet

That's what Atrios says:
...a big fuck you to the liberal media for robbing Al Gore of what will probably be his biggest legacy - creating the internet. I've never seen anyone even attempt to seriously dispute the assertion of "no Al Gore, no internet." It's hard to imagine, about 12 years after mosiac, that the web wasn't inevitable. However, it surely wasn't. There's a pretty good chance that without Senator big geek Gore we would never have had the "information superhighway." Sure, we would have had a set of competing walled gardens (compuserve, aol, etc...) which would've probably had improved interconnectedness over time. But, I do believe that without Gore (and, of course, others) there's a pretty good chance that the Web as we know it, or anything similiar, would never have existed.

Republicans hate Big Bird

And they want you to die from lung cancer.

Church and state

Brian Leiter:
Courtesy of the June 10, 2005 D.C. Political Report:
Two hundred and eight years ago today, President John Adams (F-MA) signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Three days earlier the U.S. Senate had unanimously approved the treaty. Why is this important today? Because Article XI of the treaty was a proclamation that the "Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion...." Upon signing the treaty Adams issued a statement which said, "Now be it known, That I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof."

Poverty is a good thing?

In the interest of the principle of charity, I'm trying to find another way to interpret this post from Ace of Spades HQ (via Daou):
In my view, the American left is very fixated on equality of outcome. In other words, if the numbers of minority or female firemen, teachers or doctors is lower than that of their white male counterparts, it's all about racism, sexism, or the poor not being given a chance.

Never mind that people have different values, goals, skills and interests. If some people are rich, and some poor, that's a BAD thing. Nor do they take into account that people starting out in their careers, fresh out of school make less money than those with more years in the workforce.

It's the sentence in bold (my emphasis, BTW) that I'm talking about. It seems to be mocking the belief that it's a bad thing that people live in poverty. I would have thought the proposition 'poverty is bad' would be about as noncontroversial as they come. I thought even wingnuts believed that--or at least, that they pretended to.

Maybe conservatives are finally giving up the charade.

George Bush = Terry Schiavo

The Rude Pundit draws a comparison:
As always when Bush gives an "interview," he reveals what a strange, sad little man he is. Cavuto asked him about Yale transcripts that showed Bush and Kerry with similar GPA's. Bush gave this bizarro answer: "You know, I've always tried to lower expectations, and I feel like if people say, well, you know, maybe, you know, I don't think you handle the tough job, and when you do, it impresses people even more." There you go, 35% of the country who still think the country is headed in the "right direction": Bush wants you to think the most powerful person on the planet is just a stupid fuckin' rube so that when he doesn't drool and fondle himself at debates or speeches, it's just overwhelming how great he is. Like clapping for a brain damaged hospital patient for staring at a moving balloon. Damn, no one ever expected him to follow that balloon. Yay.

I can't believe Bush actually admitted his 'lowered expectations' strategy.

Wait. Yes I can.

Retraction necessary?

Remember the story about the kid in Texas who got 40-to-life for inducing a miscarriage by stomping on his pregnant girlfriend's stomach? Turns out the facts are significantly different than originally reported, enough so that Bitch Ph.D. feels compelled to issue a retraction:
Yes, I can too admit when I'm wrong

Apparently the guy was abusive; the young woman had bruises on her face and arm; her family actually wanted her to get an abortion (so their desire to pursue the guy wasn't based on that, presumably); and she had been keeping up her doctor's appointments until the fifth month, which doesn't look like a girl who wants to abort to me. Obviously it's impossible to read her mind, and I shan't really try to; it's very frustrating that, in this "abortion" story as in so many others, there's very little information on what the pregnant woman actually wanted or needed. But on learning more, it certainly doesn't look like an abortion story at all. It looks like an abuse story.

...I think it sucks that the State of Texas thinks that killing a baby is worse than stomping on a pregnant woman's belly, and I still say that those fetal protection laws are crap; if you want to protect fetuses, make assaulting a pregnant woman a crime.

I think Dr. B. might be going overboard in issuing a retraction, though. She did, in her original post, say things like this:
this young man--who was trying to help his girlfriend, who was trying to safeguard his and her futures--is now supposed to spend the rest of his life in jail.

That, I admit, now looks like it might not be the case. But the real source of outrage here--that in Texas, you can go to jail for the rest of your life if you cause a woman to miscarry, even if she wants you to do so, remains. In this case, the woman might not have wanted to abort the pregnancy, but it's just a matter of time before a case occurs in which the woman does want to end the pregnancy, and another person is charged with murder for helping her do it.

This law is fucked.

Begin the smearing

Many conservatives are already convinced that Hillary has the '08 nomination all sewn up. So let the mudslinging begin. The newest smear? Hillary is a lesbian!

ED Klein's new hatchet-job book on Sen. Hillary Clinton says she was heavily influenced by the "culture of lesbianism" at her alma mater, Wellesley College — but a classmate of the former first lady tells us there was no such thing.

"The Truth About Hillary," to be published by Penguin's right-wing Sentinel imprint this month, makes much of Clinton's supposed lesbian affinities. Klein says that she "embraced" lesbianism and that it "shaped" her politics in a profound way.

Klein also makes much of Clinton's friendship with Nancy Wanderer, a classmate who came out of the closet. He recounts an episode at their 25th reunion when Clinton — who, Klein says, was "widely rumored" to be a lesbian herself — fondled Wanderer's buzz-cut hair.

...Klein also writes about another college pal of Hillary, Nancy Pietrafesa, who later moved to Little Rock and was "rumored" to have had a lesbian relationship with the future senator. "I did not," Pietrafesa, who's been happily married for years and whose name is misspelled in Klein's book, tells us. "No one deserves this kind of crap."

David Cross

Reflecting on the recent controversy over Dean's remarks about the GOP, The Next Left likes how comedian David Cross clarified his own feelings about Republicans:
I'm not saying all Republicans are racist, sexist homophobes, just the people they elect into office to represent them.

Wedge issue

Why do Republicans hate Big Bird? What did Big Bird ever do to you?


Deeds of carnage

Liberal Avenger:
The Vietnam War was not simply a mistake or a valiant effort we didn't allow ourselves to win. No, it was one of the darkest episodes in the history of Western civilization and something for which we should all be very ashamed.

Don't fuck with Dean

Steve Gilliard:
You know, this is really simple: fuck with Howard Dean at your peril.

Joe Biden, who sometimes does the right thing, should realize that his time has passed. Nancy Pelosi tried to get her man Tim Roemer in the DNC job and that blew up in her face. So now, they want to play cut Dean off at the knees.

...Atrios has raised $30K in one day in an off election year. It will hit $50K before tomorrow morning. This among people who are wary of the DNC in many cases.

Let me explain something: the Deaniacs are the heart of the party. They're the people doing the legwork and keeping Democracy for America going and are the people who will volunteer for your campaigns. They aren't the only voice, but they need to be respected. Because they are the ones who will be there for you.

If you keep after Dean, the people you need the most will not be there.

...Look, you guys can all post on TPM Cafe about how the Dems need to listen to you, but the cold, hard fact is that your positions lost. They lost badly. Don't pretend that you have some secret. Tom Coburn is a US Senator. You have no secrets.

Realize this: the average Democratic activist is loyal to Dean, not you. Keep attacking him and your next campaign might be quite rocky.

Loyalty is a two way street and people like Dean a lot more than you.

One person who's seemed to have wised up is John Kerry. While everyone likes to smack him around like a pinata for losing, he's not the one jumping on Dean. He's not playing the GOP beat your wife game. Others could learn from that example.

Democrats are out of touch with the electorate

That's what the GOPers, along with their enablers at TPM Cafe, keep trying to tell us. But what's up with this, then?
A new Westhill/Hotline poll finds that 44% of voters say Democrats "better share" their values compared to 40% of Republicans.

God hates you (part 2)

Bitch, Ph.D. says:

The fact that lovely, beautiful tobacco smoking causes so many diseases pretty much proves that there is no god.

Well, not necessarily. God might just be a sadistic bastard who likes screwing with people.

Now that I think about it, that would explain a lot. The older I get, the more I think that maybe the Gnostics had it right after all ...
Gnosticism preached that the God of Judeo-Christian tradition -- the God of the Bible -- was an imposter, an insane "demiurge" who sloppily created our false reality of flesh and sorrow, and who has no relation to the true Supreme Being whose existence is distant and removed from our corrupt world. (Link.)

Gnostic mythology ... holds that the world was created not by the God that's all-Good, but by an insane demigod and his assistants, the Archons, who rely on control of the created world for their continued existence ... this insane demiurge isn't *evil* in the way that we understand evil. Rather, it's mad, schizophrenic even, with a bona-fide God complex (probably the biggest one) ... It was created by accident, as an improper iteration within the fractal equation that brought about Being, and it resides, with us, within its creation, an imperfect, incomplete, illusory and often insane reality. (Link.)

The only thing we have to fear

I just caught radio host Nancy Skinner on the MSNBC show 'Connected Coast to Coast' (the one with Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley), so there's probably no transcript up yet, but she made a good point about the establishment Dems' hostility to Howard Dean--basically, that it is based on fear, and that this kind of fear has done incalculable damage to the Democratic Party.

This has been especially true since 9/11. Ever since that day, the motivating principle behind the actions of establishment Democrats has been fear of what Republicans and the media will say about them if they step out of line. On October 25, 2001, the now widely reviled USA PATRIOT ACT was passed by a tally of 98 to 1. (Russ Feingold was the lone 'nay'.) Little thought was given to the merits of the act; all that mattered was that Democrats didn't want to be seen as being against an anti-terrorism bill. This, of course, created an opening for the Bush administration to do whatever it wanted to do, so long as it was cloaked in the rhetoric of fighting terrorism, since they could simply accuse their opponents of being 'soft on terror'.

Being controlled by fear was not excusable then, but it was at least understandable. What I do not understand is why so many Democrats are so fearful even now. We have lost two consecutive elections, basically, running on the strategy of trying not to offend the GOP; why do so many still cling to this failed tactic?

Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and most other establishment Democrats represent more of the same: more fear--fear of what the Republicans will say, fear of what the media say, fear of being called 'unhinged' by Michelle Malkin. Howard Dean, on the other hand, is fearless; he doesn't give a whit what Republicans think about him. Does this mean he will occasionally say something inopportune? Probably. But I'll take that any day over the tail-between-their-legs strategy favored by Biden and the other scaredy-'crats.


Auguste at Malkin(s) Watch points to this post, wherein the Malkins express surprise that Hillary isn't a shoe-in for the '08 nomination.

Bob Novak visits California and finds "surprising and substantial opposition" among Democrat elites to nominating Hillary Clinton for President in '08 ... Like many others, I had assumed Ms. Clinton had the '08 nomination locked up. Now I'm not so sure.
The 'many others' who made this assumption are nearly all Republicans. GOPers need to understand that we are not nearly as obsessed with the Clintons as they are. Many of us, especially those of us who consider ourselves progressives, are downright skeptical of a Hillary run for president.

In many ways, the Clinton presidency was quite damaging to progressives. Clinton did as much to mainstream radical conservativism as any Republican did. Many Republicans, blinded by their hatred of the man personally, fail to see what a victory for conservativism Clinton's ascendancy was.

But to those of us who do realize this, it is not surprising that many Dems have not embraced a Hillary candidacy in '08, and maybe never will. I'm not saying I wouldn't support her, but let's just say she has a lot of convincing to do. First and foremost, we would need to be sure that a Hillary Clinton administration wouldn't just be the Bill Clinton administration redux.

Bugs and super-bugs

Creative Alibi provides a taxonomy of "country bugs," including "The Country Cousins of Cockroaches" which are like cockroaches but slower and stupider, apparently.

Matt at Code Three clues us in to "one of the dirty little secrets of the medical profession."

Both posts will give you the willies.

What Dean should have said

"Republicans are vile cocksuckers who deserve nothing less than to be shit on by legions of diarrhea-ridden cows. They have fucked up the Congress, the Presidency, the judiciary, and the world. Now why should I play nice with those goddamn evil powermad assholes like Tom DeLay?"

That, according to The Rude Pundit, was the essence of Dean's sentiment on Meet the Press--and rightly so. The Rude One says of Dean:

Howard Dean will fuck your shit up. Stand that motherfucker up at the gates of hell. Let that son of a bitch loose in the dainty Democratic china shop and let's break some fuckin' dishes. Howard Dean knows the score, man; he knows that the faithful, those who actually believe that the fight is not the path to surrender, want a spokesperson who's willing to pick up the unpinned grenade that just landed near him and shove it up the ass of the enemy who tossed it. Goddamn, it would have been magnificent to have seen him debate the President. On stage, Bush would have been begging for the privilege to lick the sweat off Dean's balls.

...Challenged on the Today show yesterday by Matt "Behold My Stubbly Mane That Indicates I Am a Grown-Up" Lauer, Dean picked up Lauer, slammed him on the faux coffee table and whispered, calmly, in Lauer's ear that Democrats are tired of being the bottoms of the political fuck machine.

...Calling out motherfuckers for fucking their mothers is as brutally truthful as politics gets.

When Dean's term as DNC chair is up, I nominate the Rude Pundit to be his successor.

Daily Show

From Left I on the News:
Last night's Daily Show featured Jon Stewart doing his usual fawning over the levers of power, in this case Colin Powell (video here at Crooks and Liars). His questions weren't total softballs, but he wasn't about to challenge any of the nonsense spewing from Powell's mouth either.

...Jon Stewart should do a little less fawning and a little more homework.

I love the Daily Show, but I can't help but agree with this. I understand that Stewart's job isn't to grill politicians, but it's quite unseemly to watch him make nice with some of the most despicable political figures out there (Newt Gingrich was a recent guest, and Bob Dole has appeared often).

The low-point was when Stewart interviewed Henry Kissinger. There's something about chatting with war criminals on a sofa that kind of kills the comedy for me.

Greed is good

Or so says uber-tool John Stossel. Because without greed, we wouldn't have pens.


Obama's journey toward the dark side is complete

From The Hedgehog Report:
Barack Obama Rips Dean

The number of high-profile Democrats slamming Howard Dean’s comments of late continues to grow...

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) criticized Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean Wednesday night for using “religion to divide.”

Obama told reporters gathered at the Rock the Vote awards dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., that Dean needs to tone down his rhetoric. Dean said on Monday that the Republican Party was “pretty much a white, Christian party.”

“As somebody who is a Christian myself, I don’t like it when people use religion to divide, whether that is Republican or Democrat,” Obama said. “I think in terms of his role as party spokesman, [Dean] probably needs to be a little more careful and I suspect that is a message he is going to be getting from a number of us,” Obama explained.

“We are at a time in our country’s history that inclusive language is better than exclusive language,” he added.

The hermit state

ABC News is taking a team into North Korea. The president of ABC News says that "it will be fascinating for us and for our audiences to see what life is like there and try to get a snapshot of everyday existence inside North Korea."

The situation in North Korea is truly one of the saddest there is. It is a country where one can literally be sentenced to life in prison--which means a life of torture--for the smallest of offenses:
Han, a Communist Party official in North Korea, was walking home from work when he heard he was in trouble. He had smuggled a radio back from China after an official trip. He listened to it late at night, huddled with earphones on and shades drawn, to hear music that brought him a whisper of sanity and took him away from the horrors of his day.

Now, someone had found it, or someone had told. ..."If a farmer or laborer had a radio, he could have been released," Han said. "But I was an official. In my case, it would have been torture and a life sentence in a political prisoners' camp."

At that moment, he made a choice faced by thousands who flee North Korea: He left his family to try to save his own life. He went straight to the Chinese border on that July day in 1997 and waded across the river, abandoning his wife and sons, then ages 4 and 2, and spent the next three years on the run in China, until missionaries helped get him to Seoul.

Since he left, he has had no contact with his wife and sons. "I think of them every day," he said recently in Seoul. "I try to forget it," he added slowly. "But they are my family."
Han's family is likely to suffer dearly for his decision:
Leaving North Korea illegally is a high crime; going to South Korea is considered treason. Families -- even distant relatives -- of those who do so might be blacklisted, stripped of their jobs, imprisoned or killed. Many find freedom more complicated than they imagined, and their present haunted by the past.

"Family members of traitors don't even get food rations. They are starved to death," said the wife of Soon Yong Bum, a fishing boat captain. The couple sailed into the Yellow Sea and down to the South Korean port city of Inchon last August. They had to leave her family behind, including her brother, a government official certain to be harshly punished.

"She cries about it every night," Soon said. "And I feel guilty."
A famine in the early 90s forced North Koreans to resort to cannibalism. One woman's testimony:
When one is very hungry, one can go crazy. One woman in my town killed her 7-month-old baby, and ate the baby with another woman. That woman's son reported them both to the authorities.

I can't condemn cannibalism. Not that I wanted to eat human meat, but we were so hungry. It was common that people went to a fresh grave and dug up a body to eat meat. I witnessed a woman being questioned for cannibalism. She said it tasted good.
Political prisoners are held in concentration camps, where they are used for experiments. From The Guardian:
In the remote north-eastern corner of North Korea, close to the border of Russia and China, is Haengyong. Hidden away in the mountains, this remote town is home to Camp 22 - North Korea's largest concentration camp, where thousands of men, women and children accused of political crimes are held. Now, it is claimed, it is also where thousands die each year and where prison guards stamp on the necks of babies born to prisoners to kill them.

Over the past year harrowing first-hand testimonies from North Korean defectors have detailed execution and torture, and now chilling evidence has emerged that the walls of Camp 22 hide an even more evil secret: gas chambers where horrific chemical experiments are conducted on human beings.

Witnesses have described watching entire families being put in glass chambers and gassed. They are left to an agonising death while scientists take notes. The allegations offer the most shocking glimpse so far of Kim Jong-il's North Korean regime.

Kwon Hyuk, who has changed his name, was the former military attaché at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing. He was also the chief of management at Camp 22. Hyuk claims he now wants the world to know what is happening.

'I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber,' he said. 'The parents, son and and a daughter. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.'


His testimony is backed up by Soon Ok-lee, who was imprisoned for seven years. 'An officer ordered me to select 50 healthy female prisoners,' she said. 'One of the guards handed me a basket full of soaked cabbage, told me not to eat it but to give it to the 50 women. I gave them out and heard a scream from those who had eaten them. They were all screaming and vomiting blood. All who ate the cabbage leaves started violently vomiting blood and screaming with pain. It was hell. In less than 20 minutes they were quite dead.'


The number of prisoners held in the North Korean gulag is not known: one estimate is 200,000, held in 12 or more centres. Camp 22 is thought to hold 50,000.

Most are imprisoned because their relatives are believed to be critical of the regime. Many are Christians, a religion believed by Kim Jong-il to be one of the greatest threats to his power. According to the dictator, not only is a suspected dissident arrested but also three generations of his family are imprisoned, to root out the bad blood and seed of dissent.
I'm not sure what can or should be done about this. At the very least, human rights reform should be a central component of any negotiations over nuclear weapons. And it seems absolutely vital that people be made aware of the atrocities that are part of everyday life for those unfortunate souls who happen to have been born in North Korea.

Atrios says

... to throw some money Dean's way:

I've been resisting the idea of encouraging people to donate to party orgs for various reasons. But, the Democrat insider attacks on Howard Dean are, frankly, an attack on all of us.

As Bobbi Flekman told us, "money talks and bullshit walks." So, if you're a wee bit unhappy with the way the spoiled brat Dem insiders are behaving, go give Howard Dean a few bucks.

Just for the record, I myself am not necessarily suggesting that you donate to Dean. I'm not suggesting that you not give money to him; do what you want. But I do agree with Atrios that the attacks on Dean are attacks on us. When Joe Biden publicly chastizes Dean, he does so with the full knowledge that the left-wing of the party will take it personally.

... though if you're truly dying for me to suggest somewhere to send your politically-motivated donation, I can think of one worthy cause ...

More on populism

From David Sirota:

One of the big arguments by the Beltway elite against Democrats embracing a new economic populism says a political party must always be FOR something, not just against things - and always avoid any tinge of populist anger ... I'm not saying Democrats need to fully embrace a politics of "pessimism, anger and divisiveness" - but the idea that they should be so afraid of that kind of populist politics because it doesn't work just doesn't pass history's smell test.

Does anyone really believe that the modern Republican Party - which now controls all three branches of government - hasn't ascended to power on "pessimism, anger and divisiveness" and on being against things? Think about it. Their party is based on these tenets: government is bad, you are being ripped off by taxes, those evil "others" - minorities, gays, immigrants, liberals, etc. - don't share your values ... Hell, Tom Frank's book is ALL ABOUT the success of what he calls "backlash" conservatism.

...Contemporary American political history is a history OF populism and OF the Republican Party becoming a channel for average people's (albeit often misdirected) anger.

Not cool

Charlie Rangel is being stupid again:

Top House Democrat Charles Rangel complained on Monday that the Bush administration's decision to concoct a "fraudulent" war in Iraq was as bad as "the Holocaust."

"It's the biggest fraud ever committed on the people of this country," Rangel told WWRL Radio's Steve Malzberg and Karen Hunter. "This is just as bad as six million Jews being killed. The whole world knew it and they were quiet about it, because it wasn't their ox that was being gored."

Look, the war in Iraq was indeed fraudulent, but the claim that it is "just as bad" as the Holocaust is just wrong.


Bernie Sanders on outrage (via David Sirota) (emphasis added):

One of the difficulties many of us have in dealing with the Bush Administration and the extreme right-wing group that now controls Congress is that the word "outrage" has increasingly lost its meaning...

What does "outrage" mean anymore when we have an Administration that took us into a war under false premises--a war that has cost us over 1,600 dead, 12,000 wounded and $300 billion--in addition to the terrible suffering of the Iraqi people?

...What does "outrage" mean anymore when we have a White House that tells us how much they love our troops but ... brings forth a budget this year which devastates health care for our veterans ...?

...What does "outrage" mean when we have a president who tells us in every speech how much he believes in "freedom," but who proposes legislation like the USA Patriot Act and other bills which are undermining the basic freedoms and constitutional rights of the American people? All this talk about "freedom," and yet he wants to deny the women of this country the freedom to control their own bodies.

...Our challenge now is to determine how we bring people together to end this horrific period of American history, and how we create a government which represents all of our people, and not just the CEO's of large corporations and extreme right-wing fundamentalists.

I will tell you what the major issue will be: and that is the collapse of the middle class, the increase in poverty and the growing and obscene gap between the rich and the poor.

...We must put an end to the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on earth without a national health care program that guarantees health care for every man, woman and child.

...We must put an end to the reality that many of the new jobs that are being created in our country do not pay a living wage or provide decent benefits. That is why we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage.

...We must put an end to the anti-union national labor board approach which is making it almost impossible for workers to form a union ... The right to form a union is a constitutional right and must be protected so that workers can negotiate fair wages and working conditions.

We must end the absurd national priorities of the Republican leadership which provide hundreds of billions in tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent, and then cut back on health care, education, affordable housing, veterans needs and programs for the poor.

If you don't already know, Bernie is running for Senate. More info at


The white, Christian party

People on both sides of the aisle are piling on Howard Dean for his latest 'gaffe':

The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same and they all look the same. It's pretty much a white, Christian party.

While the sentiment here is basically correct, it does need to be clarified slightly. You see, some Republicans are only white on the inside.


Why do right-wingers think they can speak for the victims of the World Trade Center attack?

I mean, let's say that the monument planned for Ground Zero really is a 'Blame America Monument'. How do they know that some of those killed there wouldn't approve of such a thing?

Billmon swallows some right-wing propaganda

In wingnuttia (a.k.a. fantasyland), Howard Dean is driving people away from the Democratic Party in droves. Despite the fact that there is no evidence of this whatsoever, some lefties are nonetheless buying into this notion. Billmon says:
Is it time for the Dems to get something going in the bullpen? As much as I hate to say it, unless Dean can settle down and get off his gaffe-a-day treadmill, maybe it would be best if he hit the showers.

I said Monday the Democrats need blowtorches like Dean, and I still think it's true. But they don't need one who burns off his own foot every time he turns the flames on. Sure the GOP is monolithic -- not to mention monochromatic -- and getting more so all the time. But Dean really did sound like he was dissing white Christians (approximately 60% of the electorate.) At the least, it's extremely easy for the Dean haters to spin it that way.

I'd say Dean is about one more gaffe away from being "Gringrichized" -- if he isn't there already. And yes, the conservative hyena pack and the vultures in the corporate media have certainly blown things out of proportion. But really, if you want to pitch in the majors, you've got to be able to put the ball in the catcher's mitt every once and awhile. And right now it's just not clear that Howard Dean can do that.
Please, my fellow lefties: stop believing that we are ever going to be immune to right-wing carping. Trust me when I say that they will bitch and moan and tell us we are extremists who are out of touch with the average man no matter what. Stop trying to anticipate and avoid GOP spin. We could appoint Joe Lieberman as DNC chair, and they would be painting him as a card-carrying Marxist before you can say Vichy Democrat.

Do kids really need their fingertips anyway?

From CNN Money via Gold in the Mine:
About 1.5 million children's folding chairs are being recalled because they pose a risk of fingertip amputation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Friday.

Matt Margolis is going to be pissed about this...

The new underground railroad

From Democracy Now via Daou:
Another U.S. War Resister Flees to Canada To Avoid Fighting in Iraq Via The New 'Underground Railroad'

Earlier this week Ryan Johnson and his wife crossed into Canada to escape serving in the military. Over the past month they have traveled across the United States and then into Canada with help from a new underground railroad that has formed to help war resisters...

Last month, 80 US soldiers were killed in Iraq, making it the deadliest month for the US military since January. The number of American soldiers killed since the launch of the invasion has topped sixteen hundred.

As the brutal US occupation of Iraq continues, an increasing number of American soldiers are saying no to war. Military recruitment goals have been down for months, and the Army in particular is facing it’s biggest challenge to date in signing new recruits.

A growing number of US soldiers are crossing the border into Canada to seek asylum. Some say this is the first echo of the tens of thousands of war resisters who went north more than 30 years ago to escape the Vietnam War.

Sounds good to me.

The liberal media

Sirota notices yet another instance of the insidious liberal bias of the press:

"[Journalists] can’t just say the President is lying."
- NY Times White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller on covering President Bush, 11/4/04

"The judge said the lawyers were entitled only to fees and expenses for the period beginning Dec. 23, 1997, when President Clinton first lied about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky."
- NY Times news report, 7/30/99

Matt Margolis

Matt Margolis is a wingnut. Also, he is not an attractive man:

He thinks child abuse should be legal.

One thing that's funny about Matt's blog is its description:

Just Because You Disagree With Him Doesn't Mean You're Right...

Which is ironic, or something, because actually about 99.5% of the time, if you disagree with Matt, it does mean you're right, because Matt is very nearly always wrong.

UPDATE: Well, I guess that's what I get for hot-linking. (I was away from my Hello software.) But actually, if you think about it, the image as it is now illustrates my point perfectly ...

UPDATE 2: OK, how about that instead?

Poor LaShawn

LaShawn complains about her treatment by the Left:
They downright demonize conservative Christians and everything we believe. We’re targets of mockery and scorn and dismissed as intolerant kooks
Note to LaShawn: if you don't want to be dismissed as a kook, stop using the adjective 'satanic'.

Just a bit of advice.

International Criminal Court

Mark Noonan explains why the US didn't join the International Criminal Court. You see, apparently it might have resulted in some Americans being charged with crimes.
In case anyone was wondering just why President Bush refused to sign on to the ICC, here's your reason:
MADRID (Reuters) A Spanish judge wants to question three U.S. soldiers as suspects in the death of a Spanish cameraman who was killed when a U.S. tank fired on a hotel housing foreign journalists during the 2003 assault on Baghdad. The Pentagon has found no fault with the soldiers, but High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz wants to question the three men who were in the tank, a court official said on Tuesday.
Call me stupid if you like, but in a war zone one of the risks is that a tank might open fire on your position. This is all part of the leftwing meme that the US intentionally targets journalists - but it also illustrates just what foreigners would love to do to the US: put us in the dock. Had we signed on to the ICC then it wouldn't just be an out of control Spanish judge making absurd demands but, instead, an international body of leftwing jurists indicting the entire United States military for war crimes. They really do hate us that much that they're more than willing to prosecute the one instution, the US military, which holds back a new era of barbarism.

Personally, I'd like to see us sever diplomatic relations with Spain over this - get rid of that judge, or get cut off from the United States.
I used to wonder why right-wingers thought the US could do no wrong. Now I realize that according to wingnut logic, this is an analytic truth--the US can do no wrong, because if the US does it, it ain't wrong.


See what I mean?

LaShawn Barber is a bigot. She is also a delusionally insane theocrat who thinks that ensuring women's reproductive rights is 'satanic'. Commenting on the miscarriage story outlined below:

When you reject moral absolutes, which apply to us all, in favor of satanic "relativism," this is the result. ... If the father wants to save his baby’s life but the mother elects to have the unwanted foreign growth scraped from her womb, he’s out of luck. That’s the unsustainable, contradictory, insane, incomprehensible rationale behind legalize abortion.

May they all get what they deserve.

The tension is the result of conservatives trying to protect unborn life and liberals determined to protect "choice." How will it be resolved? Just short of making all fetal killings illegal, I don’t know.

This is your Grand Old Party, folks. Enjoy the theocracy, libertarians--don't worry, you'll get your tax cut.

American Taliban

Anyone who still thinks that the Religious Right is not hell-bent on theocracy (no pun intended) can just shut the fuck up right now. Kevin Drum:

In 2003, Texas passed an anti-abortion law that instituted a 24-hour waiting period; required doctors to show women pictures of fetuses, tell them about adoption procedures, and warn them that an abortion could lead to breast cancer; and forced abortion providers to keep the identities of all their patients in their records ... The bill as passed also includes another requirement that managed to escape the floodlights of controversy and debate: Abortions from 16 weeks onward now can be performed only in hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.

The clause is a major Catch-22. Very few Texas hospitals perform elective abortions, and the few that do charge extremely high fees and require that the patients go through complicated ethics reviews. And of the state's hundreds of surgical centers, none performs abortions.

So, with no place to get an abortion after 16 weeks, what does a panicky, 17-year-old girl do if she's four months pregnant? Erica Basoria decided to try to induce a miscarriage. When that didn't work, she asked her boyfriend to step on her stomach. A week later she miscarried. This is all bad enough, but what comes next is fantastically worse: Texas also has a shiny new law criminalizing "fetal murder," and the fact that Basoria wanted a miscarriage in this case doesn't matter. Her boyfriend, Gerardo Flores of Lufkin, has been sentenced to [an automatic life sentence with parole possible after 40 years] for his part in this tragic comic opera ...

This is the intersection of stupid kids, stupid laws, mendacious legislators, and fanatical prosecutors. It's what happens when states ban access to otherwise legal abortions and kids don't know where to turn. And if circumstances and the law had been slightly different, Bauereiss probably would have prosecuted Erica Basoria too and sought the death penalty for both.

It's like living under the Ayatollahs in Iran. It's simple barbarism.

And Democratic party hacks like Kos who tell us we have to support anti-choice candidates can go fuck themselves.

Kos the misogynist (part 2)

Unhappiness with Kos's misogynistic streak abounds. (Background here.) Shakespeare's Sister writes:
Kos has a right to disagree with the sentiments of women who are offended by his decision. He also has a right to be condescending... dismissive… judgmental…insulting… egotistical… and demeaning... (As do his merry band of groupthink wankers, many of whose own sexism is put on display in the comments thread associated with the main post).

... With friends like these, who needs Republicans?
Alley Rat, commenting at Feministe, says:
There is a frightening willingness among many Democrats, it seems, to see “women’s issues” (vomit) as “special interest issues”, because women are some kind of fringe group and men are the core of the party. Same old, same old. Evidenced in the willingness to “compromise” on abortion rights ... maybe now is the time for a truly progressive third party that doesn’t consider middle class white men the “neutral” core and everyone else the fringe.
Also commenting at Feministe are blksista:
I get the picture that Kos is very uncomfortable with women with strong views and with those who live those views ...Kos is not a progressive, per se. He is a mainstream Dem ... Which is why he holds onto the mainstream line on certain issues while others like voter fraud are given the highway. He’s not into exploring anything beyond the pale, unless it begins to get traction and mileage that shows that it’s not just a figment of some people’s imagination.
and , who reallly hits the nail on the head:
The thing about Kos, and the reason he’s fallen off my list of favorite political bloggers, is that he’s not really a progressive — he’s a partisan Democrat. He’s been arguing lately that lefties need to set aside their “special interest” causes and embrace the greater good of the party ... I assume that this dismissal of a valid question of sexism is part of the Kos position of jettisoning anything that doesn’t directly contribute to the Democratic cause. ... I never thought I’d hear someone on “our” side say something so bigoted and hateful. Aren’t “we” supposed to be above that sort of thing? Of course, Kos does seem to get ultra-defensive whenever any issue regarding his advertising revenue is brought up.
Echidne's commenters also make good points.

Essentially, Kos is saying the same thing that Bobby Seale said about women in the 60's, "The only position in the movement for women is prone." That's the same place "we have more important issues" comes from.
The ad was off-putting, but Kos's response, and that of an upsetting number of so-called "progressive" posters, made me lose a great deal of respect for him and the site.
Brian Vaughan:
What bothers me far more than the ad could, is the overt sexism of Kos and his obsequious fans. If you've got a big chunk of your audience complaining something's offensive, you apologize and take it down, not lecture them on why they shouldn't be offended.But, Kos is a shill for the Democratic Party, and women's rights are off the official talking points now, anyway.
David Thompson:
The only thing that surprises me about this episode is that it took this long for you gals to realize that Kos is and has been consistently inconsiderate of the vaginated. What crystallized it for me was a post of his not long after the microKos was born. His tasklist for the day was to schmooze with some party hotshots and post to the blog; the wife's tasklist was to find a daycare for the kid ... "Hey fucktard, maybe *you* should get away from the keyboard long enough to find a daycare and let the wife get some rest."
Media Girl:
I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that there is chauvenism on DKos! ... Kos and Armando make it quite clear that they will never -- never! -- bow to women. To do so would apparently be too much of an indignity.
Media Girl also has a roundup of reaction to Kos's comments.

UPDATE: Pam's House Blend weighs in:
Kos has been quite full of himself on many fronts for some time ...What it comes down to is that Kos's whoring for ad dollars (and this applies to most big, influential bloggers at this point) makes it clear that once blogging is your day job and your income is dependent on the ad buxxx rolling in, it can result in squishy politics -- and defensive behavior. Now he's just another dude trying to pimp his upcoming book with his built-in audience, so look for more of the same.


Why would anybody think of making a Knight Rider movie without a talking car?!?

I mean, without the bloody talking car, it's just David Hasselhoff in a leather jacket...

"No one is focusing on stories that are ignored."

And other brilliant wingnut insights, from Outside the Tent.

How to avoid getting killed by a bear

Seriously. Socialist Swine has some good advice. I had never thought of using an air horn before. And I didn't know there was any such thing as 'bear spray' either.

My advice?

Don't piss Steve Gilliard off.

Kerry releases military records

Could wingnuts kindly shut up about this, now? (I'm looking at you, Malkin!)

... Kerry's comments:
The call for me to sign a 180 form came from the same partisan operatives who were lying about my record on a daily basis on the Web and in the right-wing media. Even though the media was discrediting them, they continued to lie. I felt strongly that we shouldn't kowtow to them and their attempts to drag their lies out.
Sounds about right to me.

UPDATE: The usually insufferable Marshall Wittman makes a good point:
... don't expect the right to be contrite about their lies about the Kerry war record. What will be the focus of the right will be the other Boston Globe story that W. and Kerry had almost identical academic records at Yale.

The Moose will gladly concede that Bush and Kerry had comparable school records if the right admits that Kerry was a far better patriot.



David Sirota:
Rarely can I bring myself to get through the usual Joe Klein column - there is only so much insular punditry from the confines of New York and Washington I can take on a weekly basis. But today, a friend of mine said I had to read Klein's new piece. By the time I was through reading it, I was literally laughing out loud at how the chattering class can keep regurgitating their own self-serving crap, no matter what the hard data says.

The basic premise of Klein's piece is that populism doesn't work - even though polls say Americans want the parties to start speaking up for their economic rights, and even though Democratic politicians in "red" states are using populism to win where the national party has failed. Klein essentially says America needs "a Party of Sanity" which he defines as one "representing the pragmatic centrism of the business and professional elites." Notice that just like other bloviating blowhards, he uses the term "centrism" yet provides absolutely no evidence that the Big Business agenda is anywhere near what mainstream America supports. Why? Because there is no evidence...

If that wasn't arrogant and elitist enough for you, he then disparages populism, saying people who want the parties to be more populist "tend to believe that the system is rigged by dark and powerful forces that prevent the little guy from getting ahead." He says this as if it is inaccurate and conspiratorial.

... the data shows the system IS rigged, no matter how much you and your rich friends are desperate to make Americans believe it isn't. You don't even have to believe these statistics either, Joe. If you spent a day or two to actually leave the plush confines of your office, drive out to the American heartland, and talk to AVERAGE people, maybe you'd suddenly be embarrassed at how out of touch with reality you really are.


Kos the misogynist

OK, that might be a little hasty. But I keep trying to tell people that Kos is a tool, and no one listens. Lauren at Feministe catches this gem:

So over the weekend, certain segments of the community have erupted in anger over the TBS ad for their reality show, the Real Gilligan’s Island. Apparently, having two women throw pies at each other, wrestle each other in a sexy, lesbianic manner, then having water splashed on their ample, fake bosoms is degrading to women. Or something like that.

Whatever. Feel free to be offended. I find such humorless, knee-jerk reactions, to be tedious at best, sanctimonious and arrogant at worst. ... And I certainly won’t let the sanctimonious women’s studies set play that role on this site. Feel free to be offended. Feel free to claim that I’m somehow abandoning “progressive principles”by running the ad. It’s a free country. Feel free to storm off in a huff. Other deserving bloggers could use the patronage.

Me, I’ll focus on the important shit.

Lauren's response:
What is offensive is Kos’ dismissal of feminist complaint, concern and criticism regarding a pretty sexist ad designed for het male titillation run on the most widely-known progressive blog for his own personal profit.

Lauren also links to Echidne, who says:
It's hard to know what Kos means by "the important shit" in this context. Does he simply intend to say that this particular ad is not worth fighting over? Or does he imply that women's issues are not important? I don't know. But I have noticed in the past some hints that the latter might be the case ... I don't know what Kos was trying to say in his post on these issues but he doesn't come across as a feminist himself.

More and more, I'm feeling like Kos is just sort of an all-around not so cool guy. Yes, he runs a very successful liberal site, but when it comes down to it, Kos is basically another party hack, willing to sacrifice principles for the sake of party politics. I didn't find the commercial offensive, but given Kos's cavalier dismissal of feminist concerns, and given his support for anti-woman candidates as long as they are Democrats, it's probably time to start wondering if he has a bit of a misogynist streak to him.

UPDATE: Other reactions from the blogosphere:

Sozialismus at The Headpiece for the Staff of Ra says:
I'm noticing signs of anti-feminist hostility more and more on Kos: it's NARAL that should compromise and support anti-choice Dems; feminists... are humorousless; ... sexism isn't important for progressives.

After School Snack strikes Kos from the blogroll:
Enough is enough. There are plenty of excellent blogs out there that manage to encompass sensitivity to gays and women in their definition of "progressive." No reason to link to someone who can't seem to do it, no matter how widely read or "important" he is.

And Creek Running North offers Kos a taste of his own medicine.

What now?

Via Liberal Avenger, in a Boston Globe op-ed today (registration required, or just use the Kos trick), George McGovern and Jim McGovern argue that the US should begin the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq:

The United States must now begin an orderly withdrawal of our forces from this mistaken foreign venture... There are no clear answers from the administration or the Congress on how long our forces will need to stay in Iraq, what the anticipated costs in human life and treasure will be, or even what would constitute success.

...It is common to hear even some who voted against the war say, ''now that we're there, we have no choice but to stay." We very much disagree. Calls to maintain the status quo echo the same rationale used to keep us in Vietnam. To those who contend that we would weaken our credibility if we withdraw, we believe that the nation's standing would greatly improve if we demonstrate the judgment to terminate an unwise course.

... There are no easy answers in Iraq. But we are convinced that the United States should now set a dramatically different course -- one that anticipates US military withdrawal sooner rather than later. We should begin the discussions now as to how we can bring our troops home.

... Wars are easy to get into, but hard as hell to get out of. After two years in Iraq and the loss of more than 1,600 American soldiers, it is simply not enough to embrace the status quo.

We are not suggesting a ''cut-and-run" strategy. The United States must continue to finance security, training, and reconstruction.

But the combination of stubbornness and saving face is not an adequate rationale for continuing this war. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is time for lawmakers in Washington -- and for concerned citizens across the nation -- to demand that this sad chapter in our history come to an end and not be repeated in some other hapless country.

I'm beginning to agree that anti-war folks should start calling for withdrawal. I understand the hesitancy to do this--the desire not to 'cut and run'--but without a clear idea of what is to be achieved by the continued presence of the US military, it makes little sense to insist upon it. In other words, withdrawal should be the default position until it is demonstrated how the continued occupation is supposed to bring Iraq any closer to peace or self-determination. Right now, it seems to be doing the opposite.

Thanks for letting us down, Sen. Obama

I am a sell-out.

As previously discussed, Barack Obama has been quite a disappointment for those of us who hoped that his would be a truly progressive voice in the Senate. As David Sirota noted, Obama has been on the wrong side of all sorts of issues, voting to confirm Condi Rice and John Negroponte, against a move to cap interest rates charged by credit card companies, in favor of a limit to the damages that negligent corporations can owe consumers, among other betrayals.

More evidence that Obama is fast becoming a major sell-out (or at least that we were naive to buy his progressive rhetoric) comes from Body and Soul via Tom Tomorrow. A reader of Body and Soul, Kingsley Langenberg, sent an email to Obama about the CIA's practice of abducting people, shipping them off to Afghanistan, torturing them, and then releasing them without charges. Obama's response:

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the advent of new security efforts at home and abroad, many citizens such as yourself have become highly suspect of our nation's intelligence operations. Much of this, I believe, is a reaction to the very unfortunate and disturbing stories we have heard coming out of the war in Iraq, Guantanomo Bay and other areas regarding the torture of detainees and other questionable interrogation tactics. The truth, however, is that torture and other such practices are not condoned by the United States. The case of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, in which the soldiers found guilty of torture were sentenced to significant and wholly appropriate prison terms, illustrates that the United States is committed to rooting out such behavior. Those prison sentences were deserved, and it is my hope that they serve as reflections of this country's resolve to end such behavior.

Kingsley's accurate assessment of this response:

It appears the matter has been taken care of, as far as Senator Obama is concerned ... Sounds like Obama is attacking the messenger and ignoring the message, and in a cavalier manner, too. Irritating and disappointing.

But, unfortunately, not surprising at this point.

The Gipper

I am a war criminal.

Right in Texas says:

Unarguably, one of this country's best presidents, Ronald Reagan, passed away one year ago today, June 5th, 2004 at 93.

I'm not sure what she means to say is unarguable: that Reagan was one of the country's best presidents, or that he passed away a year ago.

If she means the latter, then yes, that is unarguable.

If she means the former ... wow, that's fucking delusional.

I guess people who will believe that the Contras were "freedom fighters" will believe anything. I suggest asking the people of Nicaragua, Guatemala, or El Salvador if they would like to argue with the claim that Reagan was one of the best presidents.

(You could also ask Nelson Mandela, who was considered a terrorist by the Reagan administration.)

This seems vaguely offensive ...

Lindsay Beyerstein asks:
Do het black men have fewer hangups about playing with their own nipples than their white counterparts?

Sit down

The racist LaShawn Barber gets smacked down by her own side for her idiotic "All Muslims are bloodthirsty killers" post.

Follow Dean's lead

LiberalOasis gets it right:
...when Dean was under fire from the Right, he conceded nothing, grabbed the spotlight and stayed on the offensive.

Other Dems should be following Dean’s lead in that situation, echoing his messages so they will be heard and have an opportunity to resonate.

The last thing they should be doing is giving the GOP a win by echoing their attacks on Dean.

And for Biden to get on his high horse about good politics, minutes after folding in the Bolton battle, is nothing short of ludicrous.

Not quite

Jack O'Toole (who blogs "from a center-left perspective," so you know he's a Kool Kid) says:

Regardless of what you think of Howard Dean ... it’s simply not, uh, reality-based to keep angrily insisting that he represents the rank and file of the Democratic party. He doesn’t. And how do we know that? Because the rank and file overwhelmingly rejected the good doctor in one primary after another just last year. Q.E.D., right? Right???. . .

Not exactly. As you may recall, Dean's candidacy was torpedoed by the ridiculous importance placed on the Iowa caucus; once he lost there, he was considered 'over', and Democrats across the country--who for some reason had the idea that it was necessary to choose a candidate as quickly as possible--coalesced around Kerry.

Plus, the Iowa caucus system is so remarkably, spectacularly fucked up that nothing much can be read into the fact that Kerry came out on top.

Plus, even if it were the case that the rank and file 'overwhelmingly' rejected Dean back in early 2004, it doesn't follow that Dean doesn't now represent the 'rank and file'.


Extreme Dean

My right-wing friends tell me that I am crazy to have said that Dean's rhetoric is no worse than what's coming from the other side. (And too many of my fellow 'liberals' are quick to agree with them.)

Steve Gilliard demonstrates otherwise.


Up is down

And Richard Nixon was a peacemaker...

Intra-party scuffles

What kind of party do the Democrats want to be? Armando likes the Big Tent metaphor:
... the fact is we should be having these discussions within the Big Tent of the Democratic Party. This is not a bad thing. This is a good thing.

Let the battle of ideas and strategies take place within the Party. However, with my usual firm admonition - after the battle of ideas, we all are Dems, and we pull together behind the candidate who is chosen through this process. If that is Ben Nelson in Nebraska, or Bob Casey or Chuck Penacchio in Pennsylvania, or any progressive or moderate you can think of any state, then that is our candidate - for ALL of us.

So that's my bottom line - I am a partisan Democrat. The Democratic Party is the best hope for either a Progressive and/or Centrist Agenda. The Republican Party is the Party of Dobson. By all means, every one fight for their ideals, be they progressives or centrists, but remember in November the D is everything.
The GOP is indeed the party of Dobson. ("Ah," I hear my conservative friends thinking, "but the Democrats are the party of Howard Dean and Michael Moore.") But I'm not sure things are as simple as this.

Let's oversimplify and say there are two factions within the Democratic party, the DLC/Marshall Wittman wing and the Howard Dean/Move On wing. The problem with Armando's suggestion is that each side in this battle views the other as fatal to the chances of the Democratic party in Novembers of even-numbered years. So I don't know if it's possible to just 'have it out' now and all come together come election time.

One thing I do know is that any 'having it out' should not be done on national television. Ezra Klein writes:
Edwards and Biden, frankly, are right to denounce Dean. I like the Governor but his recent rhetoric doesn't just go too far, it goes there pointlessly. What, for instance, is the use of saying Republicans have never made an honest living in their lives? I'm as partisan as they come, but with Republicans easily winning the middle class, even I'm not able to believe this is a clear cut proletariat v. bourgeoisie confrontation. And even if Dean was, as he says, limiting his comments to the Republican leadership, that's still idiotic. Dennis Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach. Having been a wrestler, that means he was sticking around campus from 7AM to 6PM most days, and turning up for weekend tournaments as well. That's the textbook definition of an honest living, as the NEA would certainly tell the chairman.
But this misses the point. Klein's argument seems to be that since what Dean said was wrong, Edwards and Biden were right to call him out on it in the media. This does not follow. Any 'denouncing' of Dean should be done in private if possible, or at least within the confines of lefty media. Not on ABC!

As for the substance of Klein's point, I'm not sure I agree with that either. The fact that the GOP won the middle class is beside the point; most members of the middle class do not consider themselves Republicans (they don't consider themselves Democrats, either). The GOP has done a great job at branding, of their own party and of ours. We need to fight that, and frankly I am not going to complain about Dean putting out the kinds of messages that might cause people to associate the Republican party and various stereotypical vices.

Democrats tend to worry too much about blowback. Yes, it can happen, but it usually doesn't. Usually, the attacker ends up better off (witness the Swift Boat Vets--they smeared a war hero, and there was no blowback to speak of). We don't need to be reckless about it, but I don't think that Dean is being reckless. When he has gone too far, he's qualified his remarks. Basically, if we're going to err, we should err on the side of hitting the other side too hard. We've been erring on the other side for a while now, and what has it got us?

The myth of progressive taxation

Kevin Drum says that, despite popular opinion, the US does not have much of a progressive tax system:

Americans cling to a myth assiduously promoted by the right that America has a progressive tax system that punishes the wealthy. It doesn't. Once you get above the level of the working poor, actual federal tax rates are virtually flat, ranging from 14% to 21%. At the high end it's even worse: a middle class pipefitter making $50,000 a year pays the same tax rate as Jack Welch. A bank manager making $75,000 pays more.

Middle class Americans are being played for suckers by the Republican party, and if Democrats had any brains they'd be pounding on this day and night. If someone could get the point across to them, the vast majority of Americans would probably be shocked to realize that the Republican party has slowly but surely dismanted the progressive tax system in this country.

I'm telling you, a Democrat who came along and made noise about issues like this could win the White House walking away.

Faulty logic

Atrios is my blogging role-model--in fact, if there had been no Atrios, there would be no Dadahead!--but in this post he makes a type of argument that, while common, is, in my opinion, specious. Commenting on a scandal involving employment agencies that cooperated with employers who refused to hire blacks, Atrios says:

I'd be a bit more open to conservative opposition/outrage about affirmative action if they piped up a bit more loudly when this kind of shit was uncovered.

While I understand and perhaps agree with the sentiment here, I don't like the implication: namely, that a person's argument regarding one issue is somehow less convincing because of their relative quietness on another, similar issue. This is the same kind of logic invoked by conservatives whose arguments against dissidents like Noam Chomsky basically consist of their saying, "I'd be more willing to listen to him if he had spent half the time talking about the crimes of the Soviet Union that he does criticizing the US." Chomsky's (appropriate) reply to this is, essentially, that there were already plenty of people in the US media documenting and commenting on the wrongdoing of the USSR; another one wasn't needed. What there was a shortage of, however, was people talking about the wrongdoing of the US.

I have also been the target of similar criticism; when I condemned a certain caninical blog for comparing white American Christians to the victims of racism in the South, I was attacked on the grounds that I hadn't made similar hay out of left-wingers who trashed the Bush administration by invoking comparisons to the Nazi regime. Again: there has been plenty of noise made about these things on the right.

And anyway, one's position on issue X shouldn't usually be relevant to one's argument about issue Y. That is: even if one does fault Chomsky for not spending enough time on the crimes of the Soviets, that doesn't make what he says about the US any less true. Or: even if you think I am to be blamed for not speaking out against liberals who compare Bush to Hitler, that doesn't mean that I am wrong when I say that it is obscene for conservatives to compare themselves to the victims of lynching.

And if we are going to be fair about things, we can't dismiss the conservative arguments against affirmative action on the grounds that they don't care enough about racism against blacks. That could be true, and yet it could still be the case that they are right about affirmative action. I don't think they are right, mind you; but the reason I think they're wrong has to do with the arguments for and against affirmative action itself, not with their position on related issues.

The Iraq question

How should Democrats deal with the Iraq issue? This is a genuinely perplexing question. Oliver Willis's take:

A lot of Democrats I respect like John Kerry, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton, voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. It's time for folks to just say that they were wrong, and that the president has us on a path that has led to more deaths for American soldiers, less safety for Iraqis, and a decreased capacity to defend our nation from terrorism. Democrats need to push for a coherent Iraq strategy, rather than simply to keep jawboning about how great everything is when people are getting blown up every day with no end in sight. Every day we are in Iraq it is making America less safe. I don't believe simply cutting and running with a massive pullout is a viable strategy, as Iraq is no closer to stable democracy today than it was a year ago, but we have to have something more coherent than simply standing around and getting blown up.

This is good stuff; the only nit I would pick is that I don't like the term "cutting and running." To me, this plays into the hands of the 'hawks', since it implies that forgoing any military action (such as the forcible occupation of another country) is somehow cowardly. I'm not sure what to do about Iraq, but certainly a quick pullout would have to be on the table, at the very least.

Now, it is certainly true that the US has a responsibility to the people of Iraq not to leave their country in a bloody civil war. But that's where it is anyway, and it's not clear that the US military presence is helping matters.

Plus, those who advocate a continued US presence in Iraq need to remember that this occupation will be carried out not by competent people who are truly concerned about the welfare of Iraq; it will be carried out by the Bush administration. This is the same mistake that was made by some pro-war Democrats before the invasion: they thought about the idea of 'liberating' Iraq in an abstract sense, and judged that the destruction of Saddam's regime was worth the price of the war this would require. But they failed to factor in one thing: the people who would be running this war didn't know what the fuck they were doing.

A war that might have been a good idea under an Al Gore administration is not necessarily a good idea under a George W. Bush administration. The same goes for an occupation that perhaps would have been the best option under a Kerry administration but might simply mean more destruction and misery for Iraq under a second Bush administration.

UPDATE: Just to be clear: I am not saying that the Iraq war would have been a good idea if Gore had been president, and I am not saying that the continued occupation of Iraq would necessarily be a good idea had Kerry been elected. My point was just that many Democrats seem to evaluate these matters without taking into consideration who is in charge. Whether or not a war is prudent and just is not something that can be decided without taking into consideration the parties that will be running the war. So it's odd to me that so many Dems who decry Bush's handling of Iraq nonetheless insist upon a continued US presence there, knowing that the occupation will be carried out by the same administration they criticize (rightly, in my view, but that's a separate point) as being incompetent and immoral in its execution of the Iraq mission up to now.

Two perspectives on Koran desecration

Beth at My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy:

It sounds to me like EVERYONE is sick of hearing about the so-called desecration of a damned BOOK. Yeah, a damned book ... since Korans are supposedly so easy to flush, they ought to be just as easy to SHOVE UP YOUR ASSES, moonbat and Moo-slum apologist crybabies!

This seems to capture the sentiment of most of the right side of the blogosphere (and a bit of the left side, too; while I wouldn't suggest that anyone shove the Koran up their ass, I'm not overly sympathetic to those who react violently to its 'mistreatment'). But One Hand Clapping has a different take:

I think that the abuses of the Quran ... are a bigger deal than most of my blogging colleagues seem to think. ... Basically, the Quran’s place in Islam is the same as the place of Christ in Christianity ...

The Quran is holy to Muslims in a different way that the Bible is holy to Christians. Until the rise of American fundamentalism about a century ago, the Christian assertion that the Bible was “the word of God” was understood more analogically than literally. That the texts of the Bible were inspired by God - James said the Scriptures were “God breathed” - wasn’t doubted, but the notion that the Bible was dictated verbatim by God is really only about 100 years old and is a small-minority belief among Christians today.

But the literal, verbatim dictation of the Quran by Allah to Mohammed, through the angel Gabriel, is a very basic tenet of faith of Muslims everywhere. The words of the Quran are affirmed not merely to have been inspired by Allah but they are the actual, very words of Allah. Therefore the Quran is for Muslims not just a book but the physical representation of the deity himself. So abusing the Quran is a hideous offense to Muslims more than the same abuse of a Bible would be to Christians. is crucial, as President Bush has emphasized, that the United States not be seen by Muslim peoples around the world as attacking Islam itself, only its malevolent practitioners. So the reports of the abuse of the Quran are more important than they might appear to secular, western Americans.

Piss off, Biden

From NewsMax:

Democratic Sen. Joe Biden blasted the head of his own party on Sunday for his over-the-top outbursts, saying that Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean doesn't speak for him as well as most other Democrats he knows.

Asked about recent comments where Dean trashed Republicans as "evil" and said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay belongs in jail, Biden told ABC's "This Week": "He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats."

Asked if he thought Democrats needed to "rein [Dean] in," Biden said, "I don't presume to suggest that I could rein in any chairman. But I think that the response from the bulk of the elected Democrats - I don't imagine would be much different."

"I hope [Dean] listens," added the Delaware Democrat.

What is a major Democrat doing bad-mouthing another Democrat on national television? I thought we had learned that this was stupid ...

Plus, it is way past time for establishment Dems like Biden to stop trashing the party's rank and file, which is what Biden is doing by trashing Dean. Biden has no clue what "the majority of Democrats" think, unless by that he means the majority of his buddies in the Beltway. Dean does speak for me, at least more than any other major Democratic figure. Certainly more than Biden. And I'll bet a lot of folks feel the same way.

So do us a favor, Joe: next time you have a problem with Dean, make a fucking phone call.

UPDATE: John Edwards commits the same sin.

UPDATE 2: Or perhaps not.

Rumsfeld on China

China's military buildup, particularly its positioning of hundreds of missiles facing Taiwan, is a threat to Asian security, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Saturday.

Rumsfeld rebuked China at a regional security conference in Singapore, saying it was pouring huge resources into its military and buying large amounts of sophisticated weapons despite facing no threat from any other country.

..."Since the U.S. is spending a lot more money than China is doing on defense, the U.S. should understand that every country has its own security concerns and every country is entitled to spend money necessary for its own defense," Cui told The Associated Press after Rumsfeld's remarks.

..."Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment? Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?" Rumsfeld said at the conference organized by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a private, London-based think tank.

...Central to the disagreement is Taiwan, a self-governing island Beijing regards as a renegade territory.

China has said it will attack Taiwan if the island tries to declare independence, and it repeatedly calls on the United States to stop selling weapons to Taiwan.

No other nation threatens China ... I doubt China sees it that way. I'd wager that China, as well as a lot of other nations, feel threatened by the US itself, and rightly so.

Plus, if no nation threatens China, then what nation threatens the US?

Art or crap?

You be the judge.

(Via Homo Ludens.)

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