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

6/18/2005

Not sure what to think about this

Light Up The Darkness says that Wes Clark is going to work for Fox News.

Intra-party relations

Neil the Werewolf has more sound advice: Don't Kick the Donkey!

Center, left

Neil the Ethical Werewolf wrote a post a while back in response to one I wrote about the rightward drift of the Democratic Party, and I've been meaning to respond to it. Neil wrote:

Dadahead is musing about third parties. If you -- like him -- would like to see the Democrats move left on some issue or another, there's a way you can work to accomplish this. It doesn't involve voting for a third party, however.

You've got to go out there and convince ordinary people that your stance on the issue is the right one. Generate popular support for a measure, and politicians will drift towards you ... remember that your task is first and foremost one of convincing more people that you're right. The voting part is smaller and comes after.

...In most cases, there's no reason to believe that the Democrats will, on purely strategic grounds, move left to appease you, even if you cost them multiple elections by voting third-party. Assuming a normal distribution of voters across each of the political/philosophical axes, moving left puts them at risk of losing the people in the center, and there are way more voters in the center than on the edges.

...any time that there are substantially more people in the center than on your edge, the Democrats won't move left to accommodate you. They do better conceding Nader his 3% than moving left and giving the GOP 10% off the middle. (Also remember that when Democrats lose one of their moderates to the GOP they need 2 votes to make up for it, while losing a lefty to Nader can be made up by one.)


This is a thought-provoking analysis, but I think it relies on some faulty assumptions.

The presupposition behind the claim that the Dems won't 'appease' us because they risk losing more of the center that way? That 'appeasing' us (sorry for the repeated scare quotes, but I can't really think of a better word) necessarily alienates those in the 'center', a.k.a. swing voters - that gaining or shoring up our support costs them the support of moderates who might otherwise vote Republican. While this might be true for some issues - e.g., gay marriage - I don't think it is the case for most core progressive issues. For instance, Ross Perot garnered significant support from 'swing voters' in 1992 in large part because of his opposition to NAFTA - also an important concern of progressives.

Neil is assuming a too-simple picture of the spectrum of political attitudes - he seems to picture it as a zero-sum game, where any votes gained to the left are lost from the other side. This does not accurately reflect reality.

One reason is that people are, to a significant extent, irrational (or at least non-rational) with respect to their voting habits. Most people don't have a well-defined, coherent political outlook. Their support for particular politicians is often based on impressionistic, intangible factors.

Plus, to the extent that people are rational in their political attitudes, there is a large overlap between their policy preferences and those of progressives. There are a couple high-profile 'social' issues where this might not be true - the aforementioned gay marriage issue, and parental consent laws for abortion, which Neil mentions - but on other, more economics-based issues, the overlap can be startling.

Neil writes, "You've got to go out there and convince ordinary people that your stance on the issue is the right one." But the fact is that 'ordinary people' are, by and large, already convinced. To pick just one issue, there is enormous support in the political 'center' for government-guaranteed universal healthcare, a paradigmatically 'progressive' issue. The same goes for rolling back upper-class tax cuts, keeping Social Security, avoiding unnecessary wars, etc. etc. etc. etc. This is, perhaps, the most frustrating thing about the DLC's Sensible Liberals telling us the Democratic Party needs to move further to the 'center' - to a huge extent, moving to the 'center' and moving to the 'left' can be done simultaneously because they're in the same place on the most important issues.

[Note: I don't consider Neil to be one of the 'Vichy Dems'; Neil's argument (assuming I'm reading it correctly) is not that the Dems should move to the center, necessarily, but that progressives should move the center closer to them - which I'm saying has already been done. Neil is a true ally; what I am saying here should by no means be construed as an attack on him. (Neil, feel free to disavow any alliance with me!).]

The real issue, as far as I'm concerned, with the DLC (and the attitude they represent) is that they have demonstrated that they are completely incompetent. Faced with a public that is ideologically sympathetic with their party, they've still managed to lose three elections running. But they are too dumb to see the nature of their failure; they buy the ridiculous right-wing propaganda - that the Democrats have suffered because they're too liberal - hook, line, and sinker, and they prattle on about Michael Moore and Howard Dean, oblivious to their own ineptitude.

Liberal subversives

From the AP:
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Charged With Murder

The U.S. military charged a staff sergeant from the New York National Guard with murdering his two commanders at a base outside Baghdad, in what is believed to be the first case of an American soldier in Iraq accused of killing his superiors.

...this week the military charged Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez of Troy, N.Y., with two counts of premeditated murder, according to a statement issued in Baghdad on Thursday.

California Conservative:
We’re just waiting for liberal subversives, like DailyKos, to speak out in support of this soldier’s terrible crime ... The vital question is: Why? What evil, darkness of mind and absence of conscience, would drive a man to commit such an atrocity upon his fellow soldiers?

Could it be possible that among the voices in Staff Sgt. Martinez’ head were those of Amnesty International, Senator Dick Durbin, and all the others who are publicly condemning America’s military, and falsely accusing U.S. soliders of crimes against humanity?

Besides demoralizing our troops with obscene rhetoric and anti-American hate speech, has anyone considered that the inflammatory politics of liberal warfare — blaming America for all the world’s problems — might lead to lethal consequences, such as subversives reacting explosively?

...How far out, out of the realm of the plausible, would it really be for Martinez’ defense attorney to argue that “the voices” made him do it? Namely, the “already depressed” soldier was traumatically “conflicted” by all the “negative news” about the military, not just from activists but even voiced by congressional leadership, blurring the lines in his mind of who was the “real enemy?”

By today’s legal precedents, this defense argument doesn’t sound too far-fetched, does it? However, it would also be an indictment of all those feeding the anti-American rhetoric machine. They, too, would be culpable.

Rat trap



Via Feministe, this is an anti-rape device called a 'rat trap'.
The device, which Sonette Ehlers, its inventor, has patented, is worn like a tampon but is hollow. In the event of a rape, she said that it would fold around the rapist?s penis and attach itself with microscopic hooks. It is impossible to remove the clamped device without medical intervention.

'We have to do something to protect ourselves. While this will not prevent rape, it will help identify attackers and secure convictions,' Ms Ehlers told the Johannesburg Star.

What is strange is that some women's groups are vehemently opposed to it:
FURIOUS South African women have called for a controversial new anti-rape device, dubbed a 'rat trap', to be banned by the Government.

The tampon-like device, invented by a woman, supposedly protects women from rapists by cutting into a man's penis.

...Activists are outraged and want to stop it going on sale alongside tampons in chemists and supermarkets next month.

Charlene Smith, a leading anti-rape campaigner, said: 'This is a medieval instrument, based on male-hating notions and fundamentally misunderstands the nature of rape and violence against women in this society. It is vengeful, horrible, and disgusting. The woman who invented this needs help.'

...Women's groups disputed her claims, which have reopened a debate over violence against women in South Africa. The country has been called the rape capital of the world. Lisa Vetten, of the Centre of Violence and Reconciliation, said: 'This is like going back to the days when women were forced to wear chastity belts. It is a terrifying thought that women are being made to adapt to rape.'

It is indeed sad that women must 'adapt' to rape - but shouldn't it be up to the individual woman how she wants to protect herself? And why is this device 'male-hating'? - it seems to me that the only men that have anything to worry about are those who plan on raping women. And I don't really give a shit if such men end up with microscopic hooks in their dicks.

Confusing the torture debate

Neil the Werewolf, guest-blogging at Ezra Klein's, hits the nail on the head, as usual:
The first thing I want to do is point out the way that people on the right are confusing the torture debate. They pick up on random things happening at Guantanamo that aren't instances of torture by themselves, and claim that no torture is going on because, hey, feeding people chicken isn't torture! ... the problem isn't that we sometimes played Christina Aguilera in prisoners' cells instead of, say, Sleater-Kinney ... the problem isn't that we exposed the prisoners to heat over 100 degrees. Captain Ed, you aren't even responding to anybody when you say:
If that means they get cold, or hot, or have little accidents on the floor, then so be it. That isn't torture or even abuse.
"Confusing the torture debate" is, of course, the whole point. We need to focus on the real allegations of abuse, not stupid shit about Christina Aguilera, and we need to stop allowing the discussion about these abuses to get turned into a debate on whether or not Gitmo is worse than Auschwitz.

Republicans have no right to like the Beatles

Today on Power Line, Big Trunk posts a tribute to the Beatles, and Ass Missile writes about Raphael.

Sorry, but Republicanism is anathematic to art and rock. If you are a Republican, you don't get to act like you really appreciate them.

This is why Kurt Cobain included the following remark in the liner notes for Incesticide:
At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us - leave us the fuck alone! Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records.

The right to defecate on oneself

Via like a million different blogs, this is what Fox News correspondent Chris Wallace had to say about reports of abuse at Gitmo:
But what the FBI memo alleges, and it is an allegation, is, you know, would be considered a day at the beach in the Soviet gulag or Nazi...I mean, what was so horrific in the memo, and I'm not saying, you know, there aren't legitimate questions there, is that someone is chained to a floor and forced to defecate on themselves, and has loud rock music playing. Excuse me? I mean, you know, Auschwitz? Bergen Belsen? The Soviet gulag? I think they would have been very happy to be allowed to defecate on themselves.

This doesn't even make sense. Does Wallace think that people in the gulags wore butt plugs 24 hours a day or something?

UPDATE: Eric offers an explanation for the remark in the comments.

...could I just add, though, that it doesn't look too good when the GOP, and their 'friends' in the media like Wallace, have resorted to defending the Bush administration on the grounds that they're not as bad as the Nazis and Soviets? I mean, really: is that the standard you hold yourselves to? "As long as we're better than Hitler, we're doing allll right."

Go to school

Socialist Swine's guest blogger Plastination Station gives us a mini art history class, creating his own meme that I might have to rip off some day - 10 of his favorite artists, with examples of their work. Some damn good stuff included.

Hans Bellmer has always creeped me out, though.

DLC, behold your ally

Blogger for Bush Mark Noonan declares war on the left:
...we are engaged in a (thus far) non-violent civil war ... there is no way to negotiate away the differences between, say, myself and someone who thinks that we liberated Iraq for oil ... Either my view must prevail in its entirety, or the other side must. When you get to a point in domestic politics where the two sides cannot meet, then you are de-facto involved in a civil war, even if there is no shooting going on.

I've said on many occasions in the past that the left must be purged from the Democratic Party if we are to restore political rationality to our nation - only if the left is purged will we obtain a Democratic Party which can actually negotiate outstanding differences. We can negotiate with Democrats who wish for a timetable for US withdrawl from Iraq; we can negotiate with Democrats who want less or more US troops deployed to Iraq: we can negotiate with Democrats who wish for us to place a stronger emphasis on UN action...we can't negotiate with Democrats under the thumb of leftwingers who think that President Bush misled us into liberating Iraq. Its just not possible.

I really do hope that the Liebermans of the Democratic Part will rise up and chase these leftwing lunatics back into the political fever swamps...but I suspect that we'll just have to use the overheated rhetoric of these leftwing Democrats to completely destroy the Democratic Party through 2006 and 2008...after that, we may see a new center/left political Party arise which will refuse admission to the Conyers', Moore's and Boxer's of the world...

This agenda is exactly in line with that of Rick Heller, Marshall Wittman, and the rest of the Vichy Dems (well, up until the last couple of sentences, anyway). What they want for the Democratic Party is exactly the same as what Mark Noonan wants for the Democratic Party.

That says it all, really.

... by the way, is anybody else creeped out by the way he says "we are engaged in a (thus far) non-violent civil war"?

6/17/2005

Wisconsin legislature wants more abortions

The Wisconsin legislature is looking to prohibit University of Wisconsin health centers from distributing emergency contraception:
The Republican-controlled Assembly passed, 49-41, a bill that would prohibit University of Wisconsin System health centers from advertising, prescribing or dispensing emergency contraception - drugs that can block a pregnancy in the days after sex. The bill goes to the state Senate.
I can only conclude that these legislators want to see more pregnant 18-22 year-olds, which means, of course, more abortions. I imagine the anti-choice lobby will be up in arms about this, right? Because they don't want to punish women for having sex; they just want to decrease the number of abortions. Right?

I agree with this

Just so there's no misunderstanding. From Liberal Street Fighter:

Sadly, many of the people acting as the enablers, the mob-like supporters of the Republican bullies, are in the Democratic Party; against leftists, against the poor, against gays and especially lately against women and activists for women’s health. I’m not just talking about the Vichy Dems in Congress. I’m talking about people who call themselves liberal while blaming members of the left for the losses of the Democratic Party over the last few decades.

...this is an opinion we’ve seen in so-called center-left magazines and especially lately at leading Democratic Party blogs like Daily Kos, we see the assertion that women’s groups are THE SAME as right-wing fundamentalists. The Democratic Party only loses because it is held hostage to such groups. Perhaps if only such groups, crazed activists representing women’s health for example, could be purged or cowed into line, the Democratic Party might do better, or at least not get beat up so badly. Perhaps if they adopt the language and attitudes of the bullies toward certain elements of the Democratic Party/left coalition, things won’t be so bad. Passive aggressive and weak, that is the voice we too often hear form certain elements on the “center-left”.


This should be a key progressive talking point. The DLCers, the Vichy Dems, the 'Sensible Liberals' - they are WEAK. They do not know how to fight. They believe in capitulation. They believe in playing defense. They live in fear that somewhere, a Republican might think ill of them. They live in fear of being called 'moonbats' and being included in the 'loony left'.

I've had it with these effete, limp-dicked motherfuckers. (They're almost always men ... why is that not surprising?) You are fucking LOSERS. You have failed. Your strategy has been disastrous. The Clinton administration is your only 'success', and Clinton did as much as any Republican to help bring the Radical Right into the mainstream of political discourse. This is your legacy, DLC. Fox News is your legacy. The Bush presidency is your legacy. The Patriot Act is your legacy.

Your time is past, scaredy-crats. You've been proven wrong and you've been proven weak. Now do us all a favor and shut the fuck up.

Posting policy

Recently, there's been some legitimate confusion over whether or not I implicitly endorse something by quoting from it or re-posting it without further comment. The fact of the matter is that I've done this when I agreed with the sentiment expressed, and also when I've disagreed with it (and also when I've agreed with some of it and disagreed with some of it). So I guess I have to say that when I post something that someone else said, I don't necessarily endorse it.

I'm not sure if this is a wise or coherent general policy, though. Usually, it's clear - if I post something from Liberal Quicksand, and don't say anything about it, no one is likely to make the mistake of thinking that I agree with them. And most of the time when I post something that David Sirota or Steve Gilliard said, it's obvious that I share their perspective.

But occasionally, there might be room for doubt. In such instances, I'm inclined to say that if you're wondering, just ask me. Otherwise, don't assume either way.

Is that an acceptable policy? Or do I have an obligation to make my opinion clear in each instance?

Cut and run

Gilliard says it's time:
The resistance can kill almost anyone, anytime anywhere. They control the highways and make the ride from the airport to the Green Zone the most dangerous on earth. It is safer to drive around the Colombian coca region than it is to drive around Iraq. The government is non-functioning, with the Kurds disappearing anyone they choose, and Shia leaders split between SCIRI and Sadr. So there is no "emboldening" possible. There is no day in which the US could prevent Sadr and 100,000 friends from marching into said Green Zone and declaring a provisional government. If Sistani gave the high sign, it would be done.

I fear our exit from Iraq will not be a voluntary one, nor will it be orderly. Permanent US bases are a fantasy. No Iraqi government could tolerate them. They would be attacked until we left.

The Iraqi government is weak and divided. Any member can be killed at any time. There is no leadership. The exiles are especially reviled.

There is no position of strength to leave from. The resistance just walked into Ramadi yesterday and chased the cops into hideyholes.

The elections were a farce, a time for the guerrillas to regroup and install the first stirrings of the Islamic Republic of Iraq. The Iraqi government would be dead if the US wasn't there. They would be hung as collaborators.

...Any time we leave, we will be cutting and running. Let's stop pretending it's anything else.

Impeachment

That's the buzzword of the day.
WASHINGTON (AP) Amid new questions about President Bush’s drive to topple Saddam Hussein, several House Democrats urged lawmakers on Thursday to conduct an official inquiry to determine whether the president intentionally misled Congress.

At a public forum where the word “impeachment” loomed large, Exhibit A was the so-called Downing Street memo, a prewar document leaked from inside the British government to The Sunday Times of London a month and a half ago. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, organized the event.

Recounting a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s national security team, the memo says the Bush administration believed that war was inevitable and was determined to use intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to justify the ouster of Saddam.

“The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” one of the participants was quoted as saying at the meeting, which took place just after British officials returned from Washington.

The president “may have deliberately deceived the United States to get us into a war,” Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said. “Was the president of the United States a fool or a knave?”

“We have not been told the truth,” Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son was killed in Baghdad a year ago, told the Democrats. “If this administration doesn’t have anything to hide, they should be down here testifying.”

The White House refuses to respond to a May 5 letter from 122 congressional Democrats about whether there was a coordinated effort to “fix” the intelligence and facts around the policy, as the Downing Street memo says.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says Conyers “is simply trying to rehash old debates.”

Conyers and a half-dozen other members of Congress were stopped at the White House gate later Thursday when they hand-delivered petitions signed by 560,000 Americans who want Bush to provide a detailed response to the Downing Street memo. When Conyers couldn’t get in, an anti-war demonstrator shouted, “Send Bush out!” Eventually, White House aides retrieved the petitions at the gate and took them into the West Wing.

“Quite frankly, evidence that appears to be building up points to whether or not the president has deliberately misled Congress to make the most important decision a president has to make, going to war,” Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said earlier at the event on Capitol Hill.

Misleading Congress is an impeachable offense, a point that Rangel underscored by saying he’s already been through two impeachments, of President Nixon in Watergate and President Clinton for an affair with a White House intern.

The dinner table approach...

...to peak oil.

Fun with comics

This is wrong.

This is even more wrong.

(Via Ninja Monkie Bacchanal.)

6/16/2005

What the...

Another stereotype debunked ... apparently, women with cats are more socially adept than those without. Men, on the other hand, get nasty:
THEY may look like lovable pets but Britain’s estimated 9m domestic cats are being blamed by scientists for infecting up to half the population with a parasite that can alter people’s personalities.

The startling figures emerge from studies into toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried by almost all the country’s feline population. They show that half of Britain’s human population carry the parasite in their brains, and that infected people may undergo slow but crucial changes in their behaviour.

Infected men, suggests one new study, tend to become more aggressive, scruffy, antisocial and are less attractive. Women, on the other hand, appear to exhibit the “sex kitten” effect, becoming less trustworthy, more desirable, fun- loving and possibly more promiscuous.

...

He found the women infected with toxoplasma spent more money on clothes and were consistently rated as more attractive. “We found they were more easy-going, more warm-hearted, had more friends and cared more about how they looked,” he said. “However, they were also less trustworthy and had more relationships with men.”

By contrast, the infected men appeared to suffer from the “alley cat” effect: becoming less well groomed undesirable loners who were more willing to fight. They were more likely to be suspicious and jealous. “They tended to dislike following rules,” Flegr said.

Via Majikthise.

White-hot kryptonite

Oliver Willis takes establishment Dems to school:

Every time a bill related to the war comes up, Dems scurry around like chickens with their heads cut off in fear of being smeared as “against the troops”. If you continue to allow yourselves to be led around by the nose by the Republicans and the media, more people will die, our economy will be slammed again, and America becomes a lesser nation. You aren’t the majority but you still have power and responsibilities above the average citizen. You are our voice in the decision making process and its time now to stop simply kicking the ball down the street as the Republicans yet again mockingly wrap themselves in the flag, and be true patriots in pursuit of a nation’s defense.

...And guess what? It’s the politically right thing to do as well. In case you haven’t noticed, being the squishy party is a losing electoral strategy. America is ripe for vigorous questioning of the entire Iraq war rationale, strategy, and morality - and the Democrats need to be that voice.

Josh Marshall pisses me off

I usually don't mind Josh Marshall (of Talking Points Memo) too much. Yeah, he's a DLCer, but he seems to be at least an intellectually honest sort of fellow. However, some of the people he has posting at his new TPM Cafe are truly wretched. David Sirota catches Rick Heller being an ass:

While centrists and liberals struggle over the direction of the Democratic Party, in the long run we will have to work together, because any future Democratic president, even a centrist, will have liberals in his/her cabinet. So slamming the liberal brand will just cause problems if and when Democrats ever regain power.

But centrists must be able to critique the left, because we have the right to express our views. What I will try to do in the future is to critique "ultraliberals" and the "radical left" while leaving the liberal brand alone. I don't think that criticism of ultraconservatives and the radical right has hurt mainstream conservatives. By critiquing "ultraliberals," centrists imply that garden-variety liberals are reasonable coalition partners, without endorsing everything they stand for.

So who is on the radical left? Who is an ultraliberal?

The radical left are people who do not support the Democratic Party, though Democrats are sometimes harmed by being associated with them. People who opposed the war in Afghanistan or who label themselves socialist are generally on the radical left.

Ultraliberals are the Michael Moore's and rights-based activists, such as those trying to remove the words "under God" from the pledge, who seem to glory in taking unpopular positions that make them the objects of scorn by the majority of Americans. Many such people support the Democratic Party, but their support is sometimes counterproductive.

Liberals are those who are a little softer on national security and perhaps not as budget conscious as we'd like, but they're good people who we have to work with now and in the future.

Sirota takes issue with Heller's conflation of 'soft on national security' and 'against the war in Iraq'.

I take issue with Heller telling all of us who so far to the left that we call ourselves socialists - even though we are all socialists (or most of us, anyway), including Heller - are not welcome in the Democratic Party. I don't have the energy to articulate how disgusted I am with Heller, and with Josh Marshall for giving him and the other Vichy Dems and all-purpose jackasses (like Marshall Wittman) a megaphone to spread their idiocy.

The message coming from the Democratic establishment to us 'ultraliberals' is loud and clear: we don't want you. This means there is not enough room in the party for both of us. We need to either fight for control of the party, or start fighting against it. There is an active campaign by DLC-types to marginalize us, and they've got the GOP and the media to help them do it. Meanwhile, political debate in the US gets pulled further and further to the right.

Staged photo?

Captain Ed is accusing Reuters of "paying al-Qaeda photographers for propaganda photos." The evidence? A photograph of insurgents that is supposedly staged. Here is a detail from the picture:



The caption was this:
Iraqi insurgents take up positions at a crossroads in the Iraqi town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, June 16, 2005. Five U.S. marines were killed in Iraq when their vehicle struck a bomb near the violent western town of Ramadi, the U.S. military said on June 16. Its statement gave no details of Wednesday's attack but it was the second time in a week that insurgents have inflicted such a high death toll on marines in the same area in a single blast and strengthens the impression that guerrillas have developed more sophisticated bombing techniques.

But one of the Captain's readers smells something fishy:
What caught my eyes were the fact that the "insurgent" had his finger off the trigger and along the frame (excellent safety practice, but something not expected of an untrained insurgent, especially in a firefight). The second thing was that fact that he had his hand wrapped around the barrel, which would be very hot is he were actually firing it (especially during the summer in Iraq). The Machine gun in the picture is a Russian PK, which fires the powerful, long rimmed 7.62 cartridge, not the lighter intermediate round of the AK-47. Speaking as a "gun nut, firing such a machine gun in automatic while in that crouched position would put you on your rear end, with the barrel pointing towards the sky.

In short, this smells of a "staged" picture.

I don't see it. Nothing in the caption says he was in the act of firing the gun; it merely says they were 'taking up positions'. This would explain (1) why his finger isn't on the trigger and (2) why he was holding the barrel.

Thank you, come again.


UPDATE: Just to be clear, I'm not saying that the guy in the picture wasn't 'posing', or was necessarily doing what the caption describes him as doing. What I am saying is that there's nothing here to implicate Reuters. Just because someone posed for a picture doesn't mean they're in league with Al Qaeda. As Suitably Flip puts it:
...of course, "staged" (if the picture is in fact staged) could mean a number of things. It could at worst mean that Reuters is sponsoring the staging of insurgent propaganda ... It could also mean that bona fide insurgent groups have found a convenient revenue stream (or at least a mouth piece) and are simply posing for a picture here and there before remitting them to the local Reuters bureau, in a sort of a dramatic re-enactment of what may well have happened or may soon happen.

Then again, even assuming the attentive firearm expert's observations are accurate, the scene may not be staged after all. We may simply be looking at a dumb insurgent with uncommon safety skills, a calloused hand, and an imminent capsize.

More deaths than reported?

According to some, the US military is under-reporting American military casualties to a significant extent:
There is excellent reason to believe that the Department of Defense is deliberately not reporting a significant number of the dead in Iraq. We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFP than are reported officially. The educated rumor is that the actual death toll is in excess of 7,000. Given the officially acknowledged number of over 15,000 seriously wounded, this elevated death toll is far more realistic than the current 1,400+ now being officially published. When our research is complete, and watertight, we will publish the results along with the sources ...

The DoD lists currently being very quietly circulated indicate almost 9,000 dead, over 24,000 seriously wounded and a large number of suicides, forced hospitalization for ongoing drug usage and sales, murder of Iraqi civilians and fellow soldiers , rapes, courts martial and so on –

...

The government gets away with these huge lies because they claim, falsely, that only soldiers actually killed on the ground in Iraq are reported. The dying and critically wounded are listed as en route to military hospitals outside of the country and not reported on the daily postings. Anyone who dies just as the transport takes off from the Baghdad airport is not listed and neither are those who die in the US military hospitals. Their families are certainly notified that their son, husband, brother or lover was dead and the bodies, or what is left of them (refrigeration is very bad in Iraq what with constant power outages) are shipped home, to Dover AFB.

I can't vouch for the veractiy of this article, but it seems worth looking into.

UPDATE: Liberal Avenger says the source can't be trusted.

Treason! part 4

Lethal Thought (via Daou) writes an open letter to Dick Durbin, who had the temerity to quote from an FBI agent's report on abuses at Gitmo:
Senator Durbin,

The word traitorous does not begin to capture your heinous remarks in the Senate regarding our treatment of war prisoners. You, Sir, are a political abomination and if I had my way, senator, you would be impeached and arrested for sedition.

...You, sir, have demonstrated clearly where your loyalties lie and they lie squarely with our nation’s enemies. You have inexcusably indicted our men and woman in uniform, you have dragged our good name through the mud and you have enraged a huge segment of this nation’s citizenry in ways you can not begin to fully grasp.

Do you forget senator the vermin we are holding in places like Guantanamo are of the same ilk as those who killed close to 3,000 Americans on 911 and who ruthlessly and cowardly beheaded Americans like Nick Burg in a crazed blood bath? You traitorous slime you!

You are not worthy to be called an American senator you are barely worthy to be called an American at all. You, Sir, are a quisling, not to mention a real and present danger to this country’s safety and well being.

To call you a horse’s ass, senator, would be to insult the horse!

...God help us all from you and your entire kind senator.

'Quisling', by the way, is another word for 'traitor'.

The comments over at Lethal Thought are hilarious. A sampling:

What a terrific letter.

What the liberals don't realize is that nothing -- NOTHING -- is more American than detaining prisoners without charges or hope of a trial, and then chaining them to walls for days on end covered in their own excrement.

This treatment is exactly what the founding fathers envisioned when they wrote the Bill of Rights, and anyone who dares to disagree with it is an enemy of America.

Another:

...reading directly from an FBI report so that all of America can hear it has to be considered an act of treason.

The senator should be held, indefinitely if need be, until he recants!

After all, when our FBI ignores our constitution, Bill of Rights, the Geneva Convention, and every other national and international legal document or agreement, they are just doing their job!

Of course these "people" are guilty - we wouldn't have arrested them and sent them there if they weren't. Why do we need a trial? Throw a rope over the nearest tree and hang em all!

Another:

Why hasn't our Great and Powerful Leader (appointed by Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour of All Humanity [except for the towel-heads, of course])urged reinstatement of the Sedition Act? He'd be able to invade more countries if nobody could say anything bad about him.

Debate and logic are the pathways to Godless Communism.

Indeed they are.

Universalizability part 2

Washington Post columnist Fred Hiatt says (via Eschaton):

The United States and this administration in particular continually assert the moral right to behave differently than other nations. We will not be bound by the International Criminal Court. We insist that other nations give up their nuclear weapons while we keep our own. We wage war without U.N. Security Council approval. We publish annual report cards on everyone else's human rights records.

It's hard to tell if Hiatt is condoning or condemning the view that the US is somehow exempt from the moral standards which apply to the rest of the world, but either way, it is an apt articulation of the "it's OK if the US does it" mentality of the Right.

Obstructionism

Kos thinks that the GOP is preparing for the '06 elections by trying to paint the Democrats as obstructionists.

He also asks the obvious question: how, exactly, can the Democrats obstruct when the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the Oval Office?

Furthermore, I'm not sure that this is the best political strategy. Opinion polls indicate that people want the Democrats to 'obstruct' the GOP's agenda. So this could backfire by giving people the idea that the Democrats are a stronger opposition party than they actually are.

Though, on the other hand, it is probably in the GOP's interest not to be seen as having enough power to do whatever they want. This would open them up to being held responsible for what they do (or don't do), and it would neutralize one of their bread-and-butter tactics - whining about Democrats.

Not this nonsense again

From Yahoo News:

The Senate may be within one or two votes of passing a constitutional amendment to ban desecration of the U.S. flag, clearing the way for ratification by the states, a key opponent of the measure said Tuesday.

...Next week, the House will vote on the amendment for a seventh time. If history is a guide, it will pass for a seventh time. That's when the spotlight switches to the Senate, where the amendment has always died.

But this time may be different. Amendment supporters say last year's election expanding the Senate Republican majority to 55 has buoyed their hopes for passage.

...Norm Ornstein ... says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is eager to bring up the issue, and some Democrats may be too nervous to oppose it.

Scenes of foreigners burning American flags may be common on TV, but such desecration is rare in this country. The Citizens Flag Alliance, an advocacy group that supports a constitutional amendment, reports a decline in flag desecration incidents, with only one this year.

Still, "it's important that we venerate the national symbol of our country," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (news, bio, voting record), R-Utah, the amendment's chief sponsor. "Burning, urinating, defecating on the flag - this is not speech. This is offensive conduct."

The Senate Judiciary Committee may not hold a hearing until around the July Fourth holiday, and a floor vote hasn't been scheduled.

...A poll released last week by the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center in Nashville found 63% oppose a flag amendment, up from 53% last year.


When the stories about the desecration of the Koran started coming out, many on the right claimed that it was no big deal, since, after all, it was 'just a book.' And that's true. But I wonder: will they be consistent, and realize that the same thing is true of the American flag, which, after all, is just a piece of cloth?

Swift-boat McCain

A commenter at Ezra Klein's blog says of John McCain as GOP nominee for president in '08:

There's no counter to McCain. None. It's really quite depressing.

McCain certainly would be a formidable opponent. I'd like to point out, though, that this is largely a problem of our own making; the McCain love-fest started with Democrats - albeit 'moderate', Vichy Dems - gushing over the guy.

Is there a McCain antidote? The only thing I can think to do is start tearing him a new one now. The GOP was able to tarnish Kerry's reputation over a summer. Granted, they had an assist from the media. But with three years to go, we should be able to give McCain a pretty good working-over.

That, or hope that the fundies still can't stand McCain come primary season. I wonder, though, if a well-timed endorsement by the sitting president wouldn't convince them to get on board with someone who figures to be hard to beat in the general election.

Fear

Liberal Avenger names this post by Lance Mannion the best of the year (to date):
In the early days after 9/11, when the Bush Leaguers were busy trying to keep us all so scared that we would support the invasion of Iraq, give their domestic agenda a buy, and vote a straight Republican ticket in every election, they were also pushing another message.

That was, we should all go about our lives, doing what we normally do, living as if 9/11 had never happend. Anything else, they liked to say, and the terrorists win, an attitude that was so easily parodied that even junior high school kids were in on the joke.

Of course, the Bush Leaguers really meant by it that we should not even think about conserving oil or raising taxes or cutting any programs that benefited Bush's base or that he needed to pass himself off as a "compassionate" conservative in 2004.

But as cynical and facile at it was, I think most Americans thought it was really very good advice, and we took it.

We decided, we can have our fear or we can have our lives.

The entire post is here.

6/15/2005

Quack quack

Bill Frist isn't the only Republican 'doctor' in Congress who claimed that Terri Schiavo - who we now know was blind - could visually track objects.

Is this true?

In the midst of making a point about something else, Ezra Klein makes the following statement:
The constitution says nothing about a two term president running in the Veep slot, so McCain/Bush better brace themselves for Clinton/Clinton.
(It's purely a facetious (I think) hypothetical; Klein isn't actually predicting or suggesting such a pairing.)

Is it true that Bill Clinton could run for VP? I've heard others say this, but I was under the following two impressions, which together would rule that out:

1. To be eligible for VP, you have to be eligible to be president.

2. Someone who has been elected twice is not eligible to be president.

What am I wrong about it? I realize I could go look this up and figure it out, but I am lazy, so somebody just tell me the answer.


UPDATE: Hey, what do you know - I was right.

UPDATE 2: Or maybe not. See the comments at Ezra's blog for a discussion of this issue. Apparently, there's no cut and dried answer here.

American swastika

Steve Gilliard says it's the Confederate battle flag.

GOP is not conservative

John Miller of NRO picks a bone with Bush's speech:
Bush's speech last night was okay ... but one line condemning Democratic obstructionism really grated: "It is the philosophy of the stop sign, the agenda of the roadblock, and our country and our children deserve better." Umm, "the philosophy of the stop sign" sounds like a pretty good definition of conservatism, whose adherents are supposed to stand athwart history and all that.

Miller obviously doesn't understand that the contemporary GOP has nothing to do with 'conservativism' in this sense. Really, Bush and the neocons don't deserve the label - there is nothing conservative about the Bush administration's recklessness.

Conservativism proper is not really represented on the current American political scene. The agenda of the Republicans is not conservative; rather, they wish to radically restructure society according to their own (twisted) vision.

Universalizability

NRO's John Derbyshire:
It's a great thing for the USA to have lots of nukes; but too many other people have/are getting them

Typical wingnut philosophy - it's OK if the US does it, wrong if anyone else does.

WWKD? "Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

Schiavo autopsy

From Yahoo News: Schiavo Autopsy Finds No Sign of Trauma:
An autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.

...

Thogmartin also said she did not appear to have suffered a heart attack and there was no evidence that she was given harmful drugs or other substances prior to her death.

...He said she would not have been able to eat or drink if she had been given food by mouth as her parents' requested.

...He also said she was blind, because the "vision centers of her brain were dead."

...Thogmartin said that Schiavo's brain was about half of its expected size when she died 13 days after her feeding tube was removed.

"The brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain," he said. "This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons."

Well, her parents sure do look like idiots now. At the very least, they owe Michael Schiavo an apology.

As do people like Bill Frist, who Kos points out cannot be a very good doctor:

Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a "persistent vegetative state."

"I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."

Nope - she was blind.

Exit polls

Farhad Manjoo has an article in Salon supposedly debunking the theory, based on exit polling, that Kerry was the rightful winner of the 2004 election:

...a clear consensus among experienced pollsters is finally emerging on what happened with the exits. Last month, at an annual conference of opinion pollsters in Miami Beach, Warren Mitofsky, the veteran pollster who conducted the exit poll for the networks, offered a detailed and convincing explanation of what went wrong with the polls. The reason the exits were off, Mitofsky said, is that interviewers assigned to talk to voters as they left the polls appeared to be slightly more inclined to seek out Kerry voters than Bush voters. Kerry voters were overrepresented in the poll by a small margin, which is why everyone thought that Kerry was going to win. The underlying error, Mitofsky's firm said in a report this January, is "likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters."

...Mitofsky says it's impossible to say precisely why more Kerry voters than Bush voters participated in exit polls. Were Kerry voters simply more willing to speak to pollsters? Were pollsters more willing to speak to Kerry voters? Or, conversely, were Bush voters less willing to talk? Were pollsters less willing to seek out Bush voters? It's likely that some mix of such "motivational factors" contributed to the biased exit poll, Mitofsky says, but at this point it's not possible to determine why some voters were willing to be interviewed, why some were not, and what the interviewers were thinking at the time.

I still am not sure what to think of the legitimacy of the 2004 election. From what I understand, the GOP had the means, motive, and opportunity to muck with the voting, which is reason enough to be highly suspicious. (Sorry, GOPers, but I just don't trust you.) But Manjoo's article is seriously confused. He seems to mistake the existence of an alternative explanation for the exit poll discrepancy as a refutation of the explanation offered by the 'fraudsters'.

But all this means is that there are two plausible explanations. The exit polls didn't match the official vote tally; this could have been because of sampling errors - or it could have been because of fraud. Without an independent reason to prefer one explanation over the other, we cannot draw any conclusions.

An analogy: You wake up and your car is gone. "Shit!" you say; "My car has been stolen!" Your spouse replies: "No, no, no. Today was street-cleaning day; you weren't supposed to park on the street. They just towed your car away!"

Your car is gone, and two explanations have been offered. Both are relatively plausible. But your spouse is wrong if he or she believes that he/she has just disproved your initial claim that the car had been stolen. It is still quite possible that a thief has made off with your vehicle.

Maybe in this case you find one of these explanations more plausible. But you need to explain why; without further argument, all we know is that two possible explanations exist.

Now, maybe there are independent reasons to prefer Manjoo's explanation over the 'Kerry won' explanation. But my only point is that Manjoo seems to think he doesn't need any such reasons, that the mere fact that the exit polls can be explained without invoking fraud somehow proves that fraud wasn't involved. He's wrong.

Divine design

How important is design in blogging? Meaning, does it really matter what your site looks like, or is content the only relevant concern?

I used to think only content mattered. But the more I blog myself, and the more blogs I read, the more I think that design matters quite a bit. I used to think it was a bit snobbish to dis the use of the Blogger templates, but for better or for worse, it is very difficult to make your site stand out if it looks exactly like countless other blogs.

However, when it comes to blog design, less is often more. For an example of a beautifully understated layout, see the redecorating job that Becky has done at Archaeopteryx. I also especially like the designs at Liberal Avenger, Code Three, and Casual Asides.

I also recommend creating a favicon for your site. That's the itty bitty graphic that some sites cause browsers to display in the address bar, and in the Favorites menu (and, if you use Firefox, on the little tabs). A gallery of favicons can be found here. This is very easy to do - I just did it for this site, and believe me, if it weren't easy, I wouldn't have been able to do it. (If anyone wants me to explain it, drop me a line.) I don't know how much of a difference it makes, but I, for one, am sick of the little orange and white Blogspot favicon.

Rummy: Could be worse

From BBC News:
Iraq 'no more safe than in 2003'

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has acknowledged that security in Iraq has not improved statistically since Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003.

... In an interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme, Mr Rumsfeld said Iraq had passed several milestones, like holding elections and appointing a government.

But asked if the security situation had improved, he admitted: "Statistically, no."

"But clearly it has been getting better as we've gone along," he added.

"A lot of bad things that could have happened have not happened."

He said that efforts had shifted from counter-insurgency to helping the Iraqi security forces.

"The important thing... is to recognise that this insurgency is going to be defeated not by the coalition - it's going to be defeated by the Iraqi people and by the Iraqi security forces, and that it's going to happen as the Iraq people begin to believe they've got a future in that country," he said.

He added that Syria was not doing enough to stop the insurgency and that Iran was meddling in Iraqi politics.


"A lot of bad things that could have happened have not happened." That really is classic Rumsfeld. I don't think it makes for a very catchy rallying cry, though: "Yeah, things suck ... but think how much worse they could suck!"

Sure, Bush is a dumbass ... but there are a lot of stupid things he could have said that he didn't say.

And the line about Syria and Iran is a bit ominous ... why is it Syria's responsibility to 'stop the insurgency' anyway?

Piss off, Biden (part 2)

Cooler-than-the-other-side-of-the-pillow David Sirota says:
Sen. Joe Biden (D) is continuing his self-serving, arrogant and conceited attack on DNC Chairman Howard Dean, this time telling Don Imus that "The Democratic chairman does not speak for me, an elected United States senator. No party official speaks for me anytime, anyplace, under any circumstances. And I think the rhetoric is counter-productive."

All good Democrats and progressives should make a deal with Biden: he can continue stabbing his own party in the back with impunity for his own self-promotion, and say his party doesn't speak for him. In exchange, Biden should agree to never, ever claim to speak for Democrats. Remember, this is a Senator who (among other things) led the fight to pass the bankruptcy bill, voted against limiting the interest credit card companies can gouge consumers with, voted against limiting predatory lending, voted against protecting consumers when their identity is stolen, voted for the Iraq War and voted to confirm Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

...Is it a deal, Joe? We won't speak for you, as long as you never, ever try to claim your record is representative of us. Sounds pretty fair - and believe me, in the long run, the Democratic Party would be getting the better end of the bargain.

I'm in.

6/14/2005

Say it ain't so, SpongeBob



Did you know that you can buy a SpongeBob SquarePants rectal thermometer?

Germanic rebellion

From Spiegel Online:
Right Wing Extremism in Germany

Shock Mom and Dad: Become a Neo-Nazi

German young people, faced with liberal parents who are tolerant about sex, drugs and rock and roll, are increasingly rebelling by turning to right-wing extremism. Neo-nazi fashion, music and ideology have become an ever important part of German youth culture.

...Quietly and persistently, a new youth culture has developed in both the eastern and western parts of Germany. It's Germanic and xenophobic and potentially explosive.

While the German government does its best to ban neo-Nazi demonstrations at memorials for victims of the Nazis, right-wing extremism is gaining new adherents in schools, concert venues and at youth gatherings. The "nationalist mood" has become "chronic and wide-spread" in former East Germany, says Bernd Wagner, an expert on extremism. But young people in these areas are unlikely to encounter many foreigners there. According to a current study by the Bavarian State Office for Political Education, their right-wing extremism is a protest -- even a revolt -- against the West's more liberal, middle-class values.

...

Many parents and teachers are completely perplexed by their children's xenophobic tendencies. These are fathers and mothers who came of age in the 1960s, who provided their children with a liberal upbringing, and whose greatest fear was that their kids might be taking drugs. They have been completely taken by surprise by the right-wing sentiments of German young people. Take, for example, a mother from Bremen who moved to the country with her husband and three children a few years ago. "Everything is wonderful here," she thought at the time. Two-and-a-half years later, when the woman threw her son out of the house, his parting words were "Heil Hitler!"

The boy had become increasingly drawn in by the local right-wing scene. The parents saw all the physical signs, but none of it meant much to them. How could they have known that sweaters by Lonsdale or Pitbull are especially popular among right-wing extremists? "After all, they're expensive clothes, so all I thought was that they must be good, brand-name quality." There was one incident that worried them a bit, but for the wrong reasons. One of their son's new friends showed up wearing a jacket labeled "Bierpatrioten" (Beer Patriots), the name of a right-wing band. But the mother took it as a sign that perhaps her son was drinking too much.

It eventually became more apparent to the woman and her husband that their son had drifted off to the right. He listened to CDs with titles like "Revenge for Rudolf Heß" and was visited by the police, who claimed that he and two of his friends had beaten up a Pole. Finally, the mother had seen enough. She threw the boy out of the house.

Right-wing extremists tend to do most of their recruiting in rural areas. Augsburg street worker Heiko Helbig dubs the phenomenon "village fascism." One of the reasons that rural areas have become such fertile ground for right-wingers is the lack of activities for young people. Those who aren't members of athletic leagues have become easy prey for neo-Nazi recruiters. During youth meetings, Helbig sometimes discovers seemingly harmless boys carrying pamphlets of songs that were popular in the Nazi army, or Wehrmacht.

Other street workers say that the extreme right-wing NPD party sponsors trips to demonstrations in Dresden for high-school students -- bus ride, lunch and beer free of charge. "The Right," says Nürnberg youth advisor Detlef Menske, "seems to have discovered the key." In fact, Nazi culture has become so omnipresent in the daily lives of some young people that they use Adolf Hitler's voice as their cell phone ring tone and Nazi symbols as their screen savers.

...But most young people still become part of the scene through music. Right-wing extremist concerts, romanticized by an aura of illegality, are gaining in popularity, and right-wing rock is booming. Bands like Oidoxie are drawing young people to their concerts in droves. The band burns its songs on home PCs and sells them for the symbolic price of 88 cents ("88" represents the eighth letter in the alphabet, twice, or HH, for Heil Hitler).

You'll lose

Some wingnut, via Kim du Toit via Daou:

I have heard alot of rhetoric concerning the 2nd Amendment. The right wing says it's an individual right and cannot be taken away, and the left wing says guns are evil and the cause of all of our problems. This is a very emotional issue for both sides (I'm pro 2nd Amendment, in case you didn't know that already) and has spurred alot of rash talk. One bumper sticker that I see from time to time is the one that says "You can take my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hand" or words to that effect.

So, I'm reading this article that asks the simple question, When do we start shooting? Damn good question. I'd like to see some discussion on this and I intend to invite Kim Du Toit over to lend his thoughts as well. When do we start shooting? If the govmint wants to take our guns, should we turn them in bullets first? Should we all gather in one central location and give those bastards a real war?

Good luck with that.

Step'n Fetchit

Earlier I complained about the Daily Show's habit of inviting the vilest of politicians (and even a few war criminals) on for a nice sit-down and chat. I just noticed a similar complaint from Blaghdad, a diarist on Daily Kos (emphasis original):
It goes without saying that Colin Powell is a sell-out Steppin Fetchit who has little, if any honor and credibility left after serving King George the Wretched ...but what's Jon Stewart's excuse?

...Anyone who tuned into the Daily Show last night had to be profoundly disappointed, if not disgusted.

After all of the hay Jon Stewart made in the last couple of years of Colin Powell's disastrous tenure of Secretary of State, Jon brought him on the Daily Show- and proceeded to lick Uncle Tom's balls...

Fine, then, I'll say it- Colin Powell, you're a low-life, cowardly and dishonorable house nigger who did more to damage your people in four years under Bush than Bush could have done himself. You're a sell-out Steppin Fetchit and you should eat shit and die for playing pussy for the neocons...

As for Jon Stewart, WTF happened there? No questions on the "Mobile-homes of Mass Destruction," no "What about that yellowcake charge?" no "Boy, you must feel like a fucking dufus after that U.N. speech,"- nothing, nada , zilch...I watched him suck Steppin's cock for a couple minutes and then changed the channel.

I don't know when I'll watch the Daily Show again...it seems to have become "just like the rest of them" almost overnight...

It's all Clinton's fault

Liberal Avenger's reader SGO has discovered a corollary to Godwin's Law:
As he or she begins to lose ground in an online debate, the probability of a wingnut blaming Bill or Hillary Clinton for the issue at hand approaches one.

Shameful

Some senators apparently don't have a problem with lynching:
Here are the 20 Senators who 1) refused to co-sponsor the anti-lynching resolution passed yesterday, and 2) refused a roll-call vote so they'd have to put their name on the resolution.

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

... Steve Gilliard says:
So when they go look for votes, will they be bragging about their pro-dead nigger stand? Or will they just hope that the good 'ol boys will know they opposed apologizing for hanging uppity or disrespectful niggers. I mean, they looked at white women. And that's a hanging offense.

...When they tried to apologize for slavery, white people acted as if Xenu and his alien friends owned other humans. How dare they apologize for the greatest crime in human history? I mean., sure, the Germans had to apologize for turning the Jews into mulch, but that's Europe and the Jews are almost white. But niggers? In America? Hell, most people's ancestors weren't even here when the Civil War started. So what if they benefitted from white skin? That's the past, isn't it?

The progressive community

A nice comprehensive round-up of the Kos v. feminists controversy can be found at T. Rex's Guide to Life. And T. Rex also has a few good suggestions for progressives:

There are a lot of people who are abandoning Kos and lamenting the fact that he's the blogger from the left that gets all the media attention. He fits this description because he's the blogger that gets the most traffic and participation on his site. So rather than lamenting the fact, let's do something to get more progressive voices out there. We don't do that by condemning Kos or anyone else, we do it by getting our community and more progressive voices up in the traffic rankings and getting ourselves noticed.

There is a pretty good community of people who are to the left of Kos and actually support the whole left-wing community and not just the mainstream Democrats. We read each others blogs and comment on them and link to each other, but we do it in small numbers and it's rather slapdash as far as a community goes. I suggest that if we want to get our voices heard the same way Kos is heard, then we need to take a look at how Kos got there and copy his methods. We need to build a more centralized community that gets lots of traffic and serves as a clearinghouse for more liberal ideas and voices and then we need to promote it, support it and get it into the traffic and link range that Kos is in. Then when CNN and MSNBC and Air America are looking for bloggers to talk to, they'll come to us.

How do we do it? I'm not sure, I don't have the technical or marketing knowledge to figure it out. But some of the rest of you do ... And there is already a starting point with the Big Brass efforts that have already been going on. The Downing Street Memo is the important issue at the moment, but why stop the movement there. And I"m not talking about trying to supplant Kos or even compete with him, there is more than enough room for other voices to be heard and why shouldn't the more liberal voices be heard as well. Kos openly admits that his site is a Democratic Party site and community. Why don't we build an openly liberal and progressive site and community?


Sounds good to me.

Kerry's amendment

Sirota:
I happen to believe the failure of Democrats to articulate a strong position against corporate-written "free" trade deals has been a disaster for the party since Bill Clinton rammed NAFTA down America's throat in the early 1990s. That's why Kerry's move on Tuesday to force a critical vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is so refreshing. It shows that the Democratic Establishment is starting to figure out that trade is becoming one of the most critical political and economic issues in America.

Kerry's amendment in the Senate Finance Committee is simple - force CAFTA to include stronger provisions to protect American and Central American workers ... the question for Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee is cut and dry: are you going to follow Corporate America's orders and sell out average American workers who are already being ravaged by past trade deals, or are you going to actually stand up for America's middle class?

For more info, read David's post and follow the links.

Recruitment down?

It's the liberal media's fault!

That or the instinct, shared by most humans, to avoid death.

6/13/2005

The Democratic Party

Kos's recent anti-feminist rhetoric has led to a bit of backlash against not only Kos and his site, but against the Democratic Party as a whole, which many feel doesn't place a priority on the concerns of women - especially, recently, abortion rights. Lauren at Feministe says "The Greens are looking really nice right now" and links to a post at Burningbird, who says that Kos's rude response to feminist concerns about an ad on his site

unleashed a backlash that equals any other that I’ve seen in weblogging, and one that doesn’t look to be going away, because it’s really not about Kos. Not anymore. It’s tapped a frustration among many who consider themselves part of a growing political progressive movement.

...I don’t care about Kos. I don’t find him particularly erudite or thoughtful in his writing; he has poor impulse control and is way too stuffed with his sense of his own importance. If this was about Kos, it wouldn’t interest me. But the focus on this discussion quickly went from Kos to the Democratic Party and even the progressive movement, and this does interest me.

...The game is rigged, so I’m picking up my marbles, and I’m going to find a different playing field, and different players. My most sincere thanks to the prominent Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian gentlemen bloggers for showing me the light.

As of last week, I am now an official member of the Green Party. At some point I realized that the only vote you throw away is the one that you cast because it’s the lesser of two evils. I will no longer compromise on full rights for gays, equal representation and application of the law for minorities, the environment, global health care, separation of church and state, corporate responsibility, and above all, women’s issues. But I won’t stop with being a passive member, I plan on becoming involved as deeply as I can with how this party is run. I am not going to let another political organization classify the concerns of half the population as a ‘bullet’ item in a preset agenda.


In my opinion, one of the most difficult issues for progressives/ leftists is how to feel about the Democratic Party. Despite the patently absurd claims of Republicans who claim the party is dominated by its 'radical fringe', the truth is that it is a rather conservative party, for the most part.

I've made a point recently of defending Howard Dean against his 'moderate' critics within the Democratic Party. One such post spawned a handful of interesting comments that touched on some of the most crucial issues for progressives. My post read, in part:

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.

Brad (of The Unrepentant Individual) responded:

Dean is on the extreme wing of the Democratic party. That gets the hard left worked into a lather over each other, but doesn't do much for the centrists. Dean is a polarizing figure. Him being this far above the radar is a liability to you...

Matt H responded to Brad:

Dean, from an historical perspective, is anything but the 'extreme left wing' of the Democratic Party, unless this now falls into the extreme left of the party. If so, that makes me so far left as to fall off the face of the Earth.

Brad answered:

So what exactly are you saying? That Dean is a moderate? And maybe him spouting off these infantile shots at Republicans are just some machiavellian way to throw red meat to the left wing of the party?

If that's the case, you better tell Dada and the rest of the hard left, because they seem to think Dean's recent antics are representative of them and that the moderate Democrats who are worried about Dean are traitors to the cause.

These really are some tricky questions. Matt is right; Dean is not, by any reasonable standard, an extreme leftist, and if he were, I, too, would be 'so far left as to fall off the face of the Earth.' But Brad is also right: many progressives do see Dean as a rare ally within the Democratic Party. But if Matt is right, should we?

My response to Brad and Matt was:

There's no question that Dean was, as governor of Vermont, a moderate. He was definitely not on the 'hard left'. And he's not now on the hard left either.

However, he does, in a sense, represent the left wing of the Democratic Party. Keep in mind, though, that the Dem. Party is one that Brian Leiter recently and accurately characterized as being slightly to the right of the Nixon administration.

Also, while Dean himself isn't all that 'left', that doesn't mean he can't represent the left. For whatever reason, it was the left that Dean's candidacy connected with, and it is to the left that Dean owes everything he is now, basically. So the guy knows which side his bread is buttered on.

He may not be a natural, ideological lefty, but he does, for better or for worse, represent the left wing (such as it is) of the Democratic Party.

Now, this might cause some to come to the conclusion that the Democratic Party is unacceptably conservative - the same conclusion that the bloggers mentioned above seem to have come to (for different, though related, reasons). I can certainly sympathize with this response. There has to be some point where one says 'enough is enough', and it is up to each of us to determine for ourselves where that point is.

For the time being, I will continue to try to work within the Democratic Party - but I will not go so far as to call myself 'a Democrat'. I will not be a party loyalist; I will not be Kos. My support for the Democrats is 100% contingent upon them meeting certain standards - and they are already close to failing to do so. For instance, any compromise on abortion and I will turn my back on them, and I suspect I will not be alone.

It is not enough for the Democrats to simply be to the left of the GOP. For those who insist that abandoning the party is not an option because the Republicans are even worse, consider this thought experiment: suppose that the Dems evolve over the next decade to the point where their platform is exactly the same as that of the GOP - with the exception of a single issue (say, Social Security). On every other count, the two parties are identical. Would you still dismiss third parties? Would you still insist that we support the Dems, since, after all, they aren't quite as bad as the Republicans?

I assume you wouldn't. So enough with the 'lesser of two evils' rhetoric. That's not good enough.

For the moment, some Democrats are within the bounds of what I consider acceptable - but just barely. Any further movement to the right is out of the question. I tend to see the Democrats the way I see the UN: no great shakes, but for now, it's the best we've got.

So for now I try to straddle the realm of Democratic Party politics and that of true progressive politics. (This is why I simultaneously advocate socialism and support someone like Dean, who is clearly not a socialist, and whom I'd probably be an opponent of in a saner political climate.) Whether or not this is a tenable position to occupy ... well, I guess we'll see.

This is an area where I'm not all that sure of myself. Any feedback would be much appreciated - am I right to try to live in both these worlds?

Right v. Left

Kos on the differences between the left and right sides of the blogosphere:
It boggles the mind to thing that three years ago, the conservative side had about twice the traffic of the liberal side. Nowadays, the liberal side gets about 65 percent more traffic than the conservatives, even though they boast larger numbers of sites.

Hugh Hewitt, at a recent panel discussion, argued that lack of comments made for a more vibrant conservative blogosphere than its liberal counterpart. If by "more vibrant" he meant comparatively lower and stagnant traffic and the power of a handful of top-tier bloggers to control who is heard, and when s/he is heard, then I guess he was right.

I'll admit that I was still under the impression that the right was dominant in the 'sphere. I think that impression comes from the fact that many of the 'top 100' are conservatives. But the post that Kos links to makes the case that this is because the lefty blogs are more 'community' centered - meaning that they give a voice to more people - whereas the righty blogs aren't, thus forcing any conservative who wants to be heard to start his own blog. Thus there are more righty blogs in general, but apparently even together they are out-trafficked by the lefties.

... For example:
Of the twenty-four liberal blogs in the top quintile, Dailykos, TPM Café, Smirking Chimp, Metafilter, BooMan Tribune, MyDD, and Dembloggers are full-fledged community sites where members cannot only comment, but they can also post diaries / articles / polls. By comparison, there are no community sites among the top twenty-four conservative blogs. None, zip, zero, nada. This is particularly stunning when one considers the importance of the Free Republic community to the conservative netroots. While it would appear that there are hordes of Glenn Reynolds wannabe's among conservatives in the netroots, Redstate.org sticks out as the only success story for a community oriented blog within the conservative blogosphere. In fact, of the five most trafficked conservative blogs (over 200,000 page views per week), only one, Little Green Footballs, even allows comments, much less the ability to actually write a diary or a new article.

It should also be noted that while Atrios, one of the top liberal bloggers, is not technically a 'community' site, a fairly vibrant community of commenters has sprung up around Eschaton nonetheless.

Ed Klein

Even some of Hillary's opponents are disgusted by Ed Klein's irresponsible mud-slinging.

Abortion is autonomy

A Kos diarist takes Kos to task over abortion (via Bitch Ph.D.):

...tonight, at daily Kos, I as one of the written off, am going to write a diary for the first time, raise my voice, and once AGAIN tell so called 'friends' how much they're hurting the people next to them. To say nothing of how much they're cutting their own throats in the process.

Sorry Markos, but "abortion" IS the whole ball of wax. It is, for those of you who've read their "Art of War" our "dying ground" it is one of the 'must defends' if we're going to survive. Why? Because far from some cute little women's issue deserving lip service and to be refiled under some more palatable heading, abortion is autonomy. We lose abortion, and we've lost the most basic ownership of our own bodies and lives- no matter what gender you happen to be.

...

Many people make the mistake of thinking only very few (or perhaps very bad/stupid/fallen) women have abortions. That's where they'd be wrong. One of the little known realities is that abortion, in America, is all around you. The Kaiser foundation came up with one approximation "It is estimated that 43 percent of women in the U.S. will have an abortion by age 45 and that more than 30 million have had an abortion since the procedure was legalized in 1973...

Abortion, far from being rare or some isolated event, is a very real and NORMAL part of a large portion of American women's health care.

...

I reiterate abortion is not an aberration among women; it is a NORMATIVE facet of women's experience and medical needs- period. To deny women abortions is to deny women autonomy. Once you can deny that large a portion of any population autonomy guess that may mean for the rest of a population?

But further, to label abortion "horrible" is to also label those who provide, assist with, or seek, participate in, or experience abortion as "horrible". PEOPLE are those targeted within, but hidden by the language of 'this form of medical care is horrible'. As people who are part of that form of medical care are inseparable from and essential parts of that action.

...To say "abortion is horrible" like it or not, is to continue the silence, and self imposed silence born of fear, of those same women, and people who are otherwise participants in abortion.

To try to separate women who have had abortions from the labeled "horrible" act of abortion smacks of 'loving the sinner and hating the sin' or 'loving the person, but 'hating their queer behavior'. Where have I heard that before?

...

What we don't need is 'friends' telling us abortion is "horrible", needs to be "rare" or eradicated, or that to so much as mention the word makes you a traitor and helping 'the other side'...

...even those who claim to be abortion supportive can't get beyond false memes such as "no woman wants an abortion". Women do want abortions. Women and yes men too, risk their lives every single day to get or to provide abortions.

Abortion is not some 'dirty' word. Abortion is an autonomist word. It translates to 'maintaining the fundamental ability to own and control our own lives'.

Well you know what? I think all of your treatment of women and our most basic ability to control our own lives is pretty horrible.

Abortion is necessary, it is lifesaving, it is normal, and you know what? I'll go ahead and say it in my out loud voice,

Abortion is good.

You can read the whole thing here. It's absolutely, devastatingly spot-on.

Things that are not in doubt

Oliver Willis notices something odd that Condi Rice said recently about the Iraq War:
"this war came to us, not the other way around"

Hmm... see, I could have sworn that the US attacked Iraq without provocation, not the other way around. You'd think that Rice would know this too, given her position as Secretary of State. I mean, this shit just happened like two years ago; there's really no excuse for not being aware of history that recent.

Seriously, there are way too many things that wingnuts treat as debatable which really aren't. I think we should stop cooperating with them in this respect. We should stop feeling like we have to engage in a debate about something that should be completely uncontroversial. There are certain things that simply are not in doubt, despite the fact that the Right insists otherwise.

Some things that are not in doubt, that no serious person denies:

  • The US started the war in Iraq.
  • Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
  • The Bush administration lied about why they invaded Iraq.
  • The invasion of Iraq was illegal.
  • The Iraq War was executed in an immoral fashion.*
  • The fact that Iraq is sitting on top of possibly more than 200 billion barrels of oil is not a coincidence.
  • The occupation of Iraq has been a disaster.
  • The US military under the Bush administration has routinely been guilty of human rights violations.
  • The 'war on terror' is nothing but a term of propaganda.

I'm sure there are more; I'll add them as I think of them.


* This originally read "The invasion of Iraq was immoral," but I changed it in response to DJ's comments below.

One thousand, seven hundred and one

From the Guardian:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The military announced the killing of four more U.S. soldiers over the weekend, pushing the American death toll past 1,700 - more than double what it was a year ago. Since last June 13 - when 825 members of the U.S. military had died in Iraq - the insurgency that took shape with the fall of Saddam Hussein has increased its toll on American forces and Iraqi soldiers and civilians alike.

...four more American soldiers were killed Saturday in two roadside bombings west of Baghdad, the military said, increasing the number of U.S. forces to die since the war began in March 2003 to at least 1,701 - with at least 1,297 as a result of hostile action. The figures include five military civilians.

Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican who voted for the war, told ABC's "This Week'' that he will join congressmen introducing legislation this week calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

"I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there,'' Jones said Sunday. "I feel that we've done about as much as we can do.''

When President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended on May 1, 2003, 138 members of the U.S. armed forces had died. That marked the halting beginning of the Sunni-dominated insurgency that caught American planners and the military off guard.

That insurgency has also killed at least 12,000 Iraqi civilians - most of them Shiites - in the past 18 months, Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr has said. The Shiite-led government has nonetheless pressed for disarmament talks with insurgents responsible for the relentless violence that has assumed ominous sectarian overtones.

Is it time to get out? Most Americans think so:
WASHINGTON — Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003.

Patience for the war has dropped sharply as optimism about the Iraqi elections in January has ebbed and violence against U.S. troops hasn't abated. For the first time, a majority would be "upset" if President Bush sent more troops. A new low, 36%, say troop levels should be maintained or increased.

..."We have reached a tipping point," says Ronald Spector, a military historian at George Washington University. "Even some of those who thought it was a great idea to get rid of Saddam (Hussein) are saying, 'I want our troops home.' "

The pattern of public opinion on Iraq — strong support for the first two years that then erodes ‚— is reminiscent of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, he says.

...In the Gallup Poll, 56% say the Iraq war wasn't "worth it," essentially matching the high-water mark of 57% a month ago.

Of those who say the war wasn't worth it, the top reasons cited are fraudulent claims and no weapons of mass destruction found; the number of people killed and wounded; and the belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States.

I guess people are finally getting it. About seven months too late.

In what could be a significant turning point in the war, even some Republicans are demanding that Bush set a timetable for the withdrawal of forces. The question that we should be asking right now, and loudly: When does Bush plan to be out of Iraq? More vague, "stay the course" rhetoric is unacceptable, and we need to say so.

This should be the question that Democrats are asking every time they appear on television. When are we leaving, Mr. Bush? What is your plan for bringing US military personnel home? I imagine there are quite a few Americans - not to mention Iraqis - who would like to know the answer.

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