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



Via Daou, from onegoodmove:

I'm not much of a flag waver agreeing with Howard Zinn about The Scourge of Nationalism The typical flag waver these days is some asshole who wraps himself in the flag trusting that it will protect him from criticism and free him from the responsibility to do any critical thinking. Waving the flag seldom accomplishes any worthwhile goal and more often leads to division and hate.

Nationalism is certainly an 'ism' we'd be better off without. From Zinn's piece:

There [is] something horrifying in the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call "civilization," we have carved up what we claim is one world into 200 artificially created entities we call "nations" ...

Is not nationalism--that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder--one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking--cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on--have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica, and many more). But in a nation like ours--huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction--what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early ... The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible.

... It was our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence," an American journalist declared on the eve of the Mexican War. After the invasion of Mexico began, the New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."

It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war. We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people.


Nationalism is given a special virulence when it is blessed by Providence. Today we have a President, invading two countries in four years, who believes he gets messages from God. Our culture is permeated by a Christian fundamentalism as poisonous as that of Cotton Mather. It permits the mass murder of "the other" with the same confidence as it accepts the death penalty for individuals convicted of crimes. A Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, told an audience at the University of Chicago Divinity School, speaking of capital punishment: "For the believing Christian, death is no big deal."


One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on September 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

... Surely, we must renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation. We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

Rove you bastard

Just in case you haven't heard, Lawrence O'Donnell says that the Valerie Plame leaker is none other than Karl Rove:

I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.

...Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow.

Wingnuts don't want Gonzales

From the NY Times:
Conservative Groups Rally Against Gonzales as Justice

WASHINGTON, July 2 - Within hours after Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's announced retirement from the Supreme Court, members of conservative groups around the country convened in five national conference calls in which, participants said, they shared one big concern: heading off any effort by President Bush to nominate his attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales to replace her.

Late last week, a delegation of conservative lawyers led by C. Boyden Gray and former Attorney General Edwin Meese III met with the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to warn that appointing Mr. Gonzales would splinter conservative support.

And Paul M. Weyrich, a veteran conservative organizer and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, said he had told administration officials that nominating Mr. Gonzales, whose views on abortion are considered suspect by religious conservatives, would fracture the president's conservative backers.

...Administration officials discounted the conservative uprising directed against Mr. Gonzales, saying that Mr. Bush was already aware of the objections and was not convinced by them.

6-3 or 5-4?

Via Bitch. Ph.D., Scott Lemieux argues that the current makeup of the Supreme Court is 6 votes in favor of Roe v. Wade (including O'Connor) and 3 votes against - not, as some believe, 5 in favor and 4 against. If Lemieux is right, then replacing O'Connor with an anti-choice justice would leave Roe intact (for the time being); if the other scenario is correct, then swapping out O'Connor for an anti-choicer would mean the end of Roe.

Some background: the reason for believing that the 'score' is 6-3 in favor of Roe is the Court's ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. The central holding of Casey, which is considered to have re-affirmed the basic principle behind the Roe v. Wade decision, was decided by a 5-4 margin. Concurring were Justices Souter, Stevens, Blackmun, O'Connor, and Kennedy; dissenting were Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, and White. Since 1992, two of these justices have left the court - White and Blackmun (both of whom are now dead). Blackmun's replacement was Stephen Breyer, another pro-Roe judge, but White's was Ginsburg, which replaced an anti-Roe vote with a pro-Roe one. Thus 6 judges in favor of Roe - the four still remaining who concurred on Casey plus Breyer and Ginsburg - and three against (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas).

So far, this seems relatively straightforward. But the fly in the ointment is Kennedy, a Reagan appointee (Ronnie's second choice after the now-forgotten Robert Bork (ha ha)). As Lemieux points out, what leads abortion rights advocates to worry that Kennedy might not be a reliable pro-Roe vote is what he had to say about the Steinberg v. Carhart case, in which the Court ruled that a Nebraska law prohibiting D&X abortions was unconstitutional. While Kennedy, in his written dissent, reiterates his support for the Casey decision, he seems to view that decision not so much as a reaffirmation of Roe but more as a substantial scaling-back of it - arguing that the majority was wrong in thinking that Casey provided a basis for their decision in Steinberg. Kennedy, joined by Rehnquist, points out that

Casey held that cases decided in the wake of Roe v. Wade ... had "given [state interests] too little acknowledgment and implementation."... The decision turned aside any contention that a person has the "right to decide whether to have an abortion without interference from the State" ... Casey is premised on the States having an important constitutional role in defining their interests in the abortion debate.

Casey indeed carves out a fairly substantial role for state interference with the practice of abortion. Other portions of Kennedy's dissent are also troubling:

States also have an interest in forbidding medical procedures which, in the State's reasonable determination, might cause the medical profession or society as a whole to become insensitive, even disdainful, to life, including life in the human fetus. Abortion, Casey held, has consequences beyond the woman and her fetus. The States' interests in regulating are of concomitant extension. Casey recognized that abortion is, "fraught with consequences for ... the persons who perform and assist in the procedure [and for] society which must confront the knowledge that these procedures exist, procedures some deem nothing short of an act of violence against innocent human life."

A State may take measures to ensure the medical profession and its members are viewed as healers, sustained by a compassionate and rigorous ethic and cognizant of the dignity and value of human life, even life which cannot survive without the assistance of others.

It seems that, in Kennedy's opinion, if it is determined that the practice of abortion 'might' cause physicians - or 'society as a whole' - to become 'insensitive' to fetal life, then the state has the right to prohibit it. It comes as no surprise that this has caused some to doubt Kennedy's commitment to the constitutional right to abortion.

Lemieux thinks this worry is misplaced:

I don't want to encourage anyone to be complacent, but in all candor I don't think this reading is right. I'm inclined to take Kennedy's claim that he believes Casey was correctly decided but misapplied in Carhart at face value. I don't think that Kennedy will be the fifth vote to overturn Roe. Kennedy's opinion in Lawrence--which not only overturned Bowers but did so more bluntly than is typical in a Supreme Court opinion ("Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent")--does not suggest any doubts about the general line of reasoning in Casey. I very strongly doubt that he's suddenly become less willing to keep Roe than he was in 1992.

I'm a little unclear as to what, exactly, Lemieux is arguing here. I suppose he means to say that Kennedy's opinion in Lawrence is somehow indicative of a commitment to abortion rights. But how, exactly, any conclusion about Kennedy's views regarding Casey or Roe can be drawn from his opinion on Lawrence is obscure.

Lawrence, of course, struck down a Texas anti-sodomy law. There is a real connection between this case and abortion rights; Kennedy refers to the Court's decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which established a general right to privacy (which Kennedy supports), as "part of the background for the decision in Roe v. Wade." But Kennedy could consistently believe (a) that there is a general right to privacy; (b) that anti-sodomy laws violate this right; and (c) anti-abortion laws do not violate this right. I'm not saying that this is Kennedy's view; all I'm saying is that his opinion in Lawrence doesn't indicate anything in particular about whether or not he still supports Roe or Casey. Kennedy's endorsement of the right to privacy in Lawrence is indeed comforting, but it won't (and shouldn't) alleviate concerns about his feelings toward Roe.

Another clarification is necessary. In my opinion, Lemieux's aim is off a little bit. He thinks that Kennedy still agrees with "the general line of reasoning in Casey" and doubts that he's "suddenly become less willing to keep Roe than he was in 1992." For one thing, there wouldn't be anything particularly "sudden" about it; we're talking about a period of thirteen years. But more to the point, the issue isn't really whether Kennedy still agrees with Casey; it's what, exactly, he understands Casey to have established.

As mentioned above, Kennedy believes that Casey "turned aside any contention that a person has the 'right to decide whether to have an abortion without interference from the State' ". And the fact is, he might be right. The Casey decision affirmed three things:

(1) a recognition of a woman's right to choose to have an abortion before fetal viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State, whose pre-viability interests are not strong enough to support an abortion prohibition or the imposition of substantial obstacles to the woman's effective right to elect the procedure; (2) a confirmation of the State's power to restrict abortions after viability, if the law contains exceptions for pregnancies endangering a woman's life or health; and (3) the principle that the State has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that may become a child.

So the state, according to Casey, does have an interest in 'protecting' a fetus, even pre-viability; it's just that the interest isn't strong enough to justify a prohibition on abortion.

The question is: does Kennedy still believe that the state interest in fetus-protection is outweighed by a woman's right to privacy? In the Casey decision itself, Kennedy admits that a previous Court decision can be overturned if the factual assumptions on which the original decision relies turn out to be incorrect. In 1992, Kennedy believed that there was no reason to believe that the factual assumptions underpinning Roe were faulty. Does he still believe this? Or does he believe that he has seen evidence over the last thirteen years that abortion is contributing to a general "culture of death," causing the medical profession and society at large to become 'insensitive' or even 'disdainful' of life - a development that could be construed as bolstering the state's interest in protecting a pre-viability fetus to a level that would make that interest 'strong' enough to justify the prohibition of abortion?

I don't know the answers to these questions. But the line of reasoning that I've just outlined seems like a reasonably plausible extrapolation of what we know about Kennedy's evolving feelings about abortion (especially insofar as they can be gleaned from his opinion in Steinberg). This seems at least as plausible as the contention that Kennedy remains a reliable supporter of Roe v. Wade.

The "Roe is safe" line is already being pushed by Republicans who don't want the public to realize what is at stake. We cannot allow this to become part of the conventional wisdom; we need to be perfectly clear that if Bush replaces O'Connor with another Scalia or Thomas, Roe v. Wade - which 65% of the American public wants upheld - is history.


New fangled music

Does anyone listen to Coldplay? If so, has anyone heard their new album? If so, has anyone else noticed that the central hook on the song called 'Talk' is straight from Kraftwerk's 'Computer Love'?


Plutonium Page asks:

Fantastic. Alberto "the Inquisitor" Gonzales is a possibility... what could possibly be worse?

How about the fact that Gonzales is seen as being totally unacceptable ... by Republicans? And to such an extent that John Hawkins of Right Wing News would consider a Gonzales nomination to be a 'disaster' -

...given that we have a President who has promised to nominate conservative justices and 55 Republicans in the Senate, I should be totally confident and happy right now ... But instead, I feel like we're at the start of one of those movies where the "heroes" are "lovable" but goofy screw-ups like Adam Sandler or Chris Farley who are just as likely as not to turn a "can't lose" situation into a disaster. Except in those movies, everything turns out all right in the end, but in this case we'll somehow end up with Alberto Gonzalez on the court.

Could things be any more fucked up?

Don't answer that.

Advice and consent part 2

Kevin Drum reminds us that the Ruth Bader Ginsburg nomination was Orrin Hatch's idea.

America wants Roe

Poll numbers, via Eschaton:

65% want a justice who would uphold Roe. 47% of Republicans want a justice who would uphold Roe (verus 46% who want one who would overturn it).

Advice and consent

Harry Reid made the following comment:

The Constitution gives the President and the Senate shared responsibility to fill this vacancy, because the President may only act with the “Advice and Consent” of the Senate. At this critical moment, the President must recognize the Senate’s constitutional role. He should give life to the Advice and Consent Clause by engaging in meaningful consultation with Senators of both political parties.

Mark Noonan objects:

Reid is wrong. The Consitution empowers the President to nominate, and the Senate is vote to confirm or reject the nominee.

But where did Reid say otherwise? All he says in the above comment is that the President and Senate have a shared responsibility not to nominate justices but to fill a vacancy. This is absolutely correct; the vacancy cannot be filled without the Senate's consent. I suppose Reid might be technically incorrect when he says that Bush "may only act" with the Senate's advice and consent; Bush can, after all, nominate as many people as he likes, whether or not the Senate consents. So if that's what Reid meant by 'act' then yes, he was wrong.

But a more charitable (and reasonable) interpretation of Reid's remarks is that he is simply pointing out that Bush can't get anybody on the court without the Senate signing off.

To explain his reasoning, Noonan defers to an earlier post about a proposal that would have the Senate making suggestions to the president about who to nominate:

I am no constitutional scholar, but that sounds clearly unconstitutional to me. For starters, the Constitution clearly states that the President nominates, and the Senate votes to confirm or reject that nominee ... the process of nomination by the President and confirmation of the Senate provides an appropriate check and balance to the power of the President to make nominations. By empowering Senators to offer a pool of "acceptable" nominees would be a breakdown of the system of checks and balances.

...while the President's choice may be overruled, the President maintains the right to nominate another, if not the same person be nominated again. The bottom line: the person nominated must be the object of President's preference—and his preference alone.

This is wrong. The president can consult with anyone he likes about his nomination; nothing in the Constitution prohibits him from doing so. For the Senate to provide a pool of acceptable nominees doesn't break down the system of checks and balances; it just makes the process a little easier.

An analogy: suppose you and I decide to rent a movie. You're going out anyway, so you offer to pick up the DVD while you're out. I say OK, but you've got to pick a movie we both like.

There are many ways of ensuring that the choice is acceptable to both of us. You could go to the movie rental store, take your cell phone, and then call me every time you find a movie you'd like to see, to find out if I'd like to see it too. Or, I could give you a list of movies beforehand that I've been wanting to see, and suggest that you pick one of those, while still leaving open the option of picking something not on the list - so long as you call me and make sure it's OK first.

Both these methods preserve the principle we agreed to abide by - that the rental should be something we both would like - but one is vastly more convenient than the other.

Similarly, the president can either pick a nominee, send it to the Senate, wait to see if the nominee is confirmed, and if not pick another nominee, and so on - OR, he can consult with the Senate beforehand to determine what kind of nominees they would be likely to confirm. This consultation could even consist in the Senate providing the president with a list of suggestions - without violating the Constitution's advice and consent clause.

On deck

Liberal Street Fighter has a run-down on potential SCOTUS nominees.


Is Sandra Day O'Connor a moderate, or a conservative? More to the point - should Democrats be referring to her as a moderate, or as a conservative? Kevin Drum thinks that labeling O'Connor a moderate moves the goalposts too far to the right:

... statements like these [Ed.-i.e., those that refer to as a moderate] make it sound like she's in the dead center of constitutional jurisprudence. She's not. She's a conservative, and Democrats should make that clear.

Generally speaking I don't have a big problem with O'Connor's tenure on the court, but when even Democrats start calling her a moderate, it moves the goalposts too far. They should be referring to her as a "moderate conservative," a "mainstream conservative," or a "thoughtful conservative." Anything like that is fine. But whatever they call her, they should make it clear that she's a conservative.

After all, if she's really a moderate, then surely a conservative president has the right to appoint someone just a little more conservative than her, right?

Greg Saunders disagrees:

If everyone has the word "conservative" drilled into their heads, the idea of replacing O'Connor with an arch-conservative won't seem nearly as unpleasant as it should. For the people who pick up on the rhetoric but don't really pay attention to things, replacing an O'Connor style conservative with a George W. Bush style conservative would be a move towards the status quo, rather than the dramatic shift to the right we all know it would be. The best defense Democrats have against a truly repellent Supreme Court nominee is to remind the American people that the Bush Administration wants to replace a moderate justice with a conservative one.

I tend to agree with Saunders.

An indication of where we're at

The right does not consider Attorney General/torture apologist Alberto Gonzales conservative enough to be on the Supreme Court:

The president has to know that conservatives, his supporters in good times and bad, would be appalled and demoralized by a Gonzales appointment. It would place his would-be successors in the Senate in a difficult position, forcing them to choose between angering conservatives by voting for Gonzales and saying no to him. If Democrats attack Gonzales — and it is reasonable to expect that they will attack almost any Bush nominee — conservatives will not rally to his defense.

What should Democrats do if Gonzales is nominated? Some have suggested that Gonzales would be acceptable, but Armando says no:

I may be in the minority here, but I will vigorously oppose his confirmation.

Of course the condoning of torture marks Gonzales as morally reprehensible.

But, even if one is only going to look at this cynically, Gonzales can not be trusted. We THINK he is a moderate. We THINK he'll support the right to choose. We THINK he'll support affirmative action.

But how do we know? What has Gonzales done to earn the belief that he won't be a patsy in the hands of a Scalia?

Nothing as far as I'm concerned. Indeed the opposite is true.

Mark me down as a vigorous NO on Gonzales, should it come to that.

Brooke v. Tom

Brooke fires back at Tom! (Registration required; use 'dailykos' for both the username and password.)

This story has been characterized by the ridiculousness of Tom Cruise's recent behavior, but there's a ctually a serious issue here. Depression is no fucking joke. Brooke Shields writes in a New York Times editorial:

I WAS hoping it wouldn't come to this, but after Tom Cruise's interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC show "Today" last week, I feel compelled to speak not just for myself but also for the hundreds of thousands of women who have suffered from postpartum depression.

... After two years of trying to conceive and several attempts at in vitro fertilization, I thought I would be overjoyed when my daughter, Rowan Francis, was born in the spring of 2003. But instead I felt completely overwhelmed. ... I didn't feel at all joyful. I attributed feelings of doom to simple fatigue and figured that they would eventually go away. But they didn't; in fact, they got worse.

... At my lowest points, I thought of swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window of my apartment.

I couldn't believe it when my doctor told me that I was suffering from postpartum depression and gave me a prescription for the antidepressant Paxil. I wasn't thrilled to be taking drugs. In fact, I prematurely stopped taking them and had a relapse that almost led me to drive my car into a wall with Rowan in the backseat. But the drugs, along with weekly therapy sessions, are what saved me - and my family.

Since writing about my experiences with the disease, I have been approached by many women who have told me their stories and thanked me for opening up about a topic that is often not discussed because of fear, shame or lack of support and information ...

And comments like those made by Tom Cruise are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general.

If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease.

Other issues

The upcoming nomination battle isn't just about abortion, of course. Salon's War Room lists recent important cases that were decided by a 5-4 vote, and which would have gone the other way if a conservative had occupied O'Connor's seat. These cases involve issues like affirmative action, pollution, separation of church and state, and voting rights, among others.

NARAL on the O'Connor retirement

From a press release:
This will be a defining moment -- President Bush has to pick between what mainstream America wants and what the radical right demands. He can make good on his promises to unite the country by reaching out across party lines to find a consensus nominee who'll respect privacy rights, value women's freedom, and defend Constitutional traditions. Or he can keep his political promise to pick a Justice who will impose a political agenda on the court’s decisions.

One thing is very clear -- if the president makes this vacancy an opportunity to push his personal ideology, you can bet your last dollar he's got a real fight on his hands. The sixty percent of Americans who want Roe v. Wade left alone will not be silent this time.

The President shouldn't think he can get away with a stealth nominee, either. When hearings start, we'll be watching and listening -- and we will expect to hear probing questions and straightforward answers. Nobody should ask the American people to take a chance on someone who won't even tell us if they believe the Constitution defends our right to privacy.

I hope President Bush will spare the country the divisiveness of a controversial nomination for such an important office. But if that’s the route he chooses, pro-choice Americans are ready for the fight.

Do we have a game plan?

Ezra Klein:

So here's a question: can we actually block anyone that Bush wants? The last heroic victory was the rejection of Robert Bork, and that was pulled off by a 55-45 Democratic majority. I guess we can filibuster, at least assuming the nuclear option can be blocked, but what, realistically speaking, is the plan here? ... do Democrats have any possible chance of winning this without a filibuster?

I don't know. I assume that the various interest groups have been thinking about this for a while.

If we don't have a chance without the filibuster, then the Senate Dems will just have to grow a pair and filibuster. This is the time to pull out all the stops; there's really nothing to lose. No tactic should be out of bounds.

UPDATE: One of Ezra's commenters exhibits exactly the wrong attitude about this:

Only if the nominee is as bad as Janice Rodgers Brown should the Dems conduct a filibuster, since we will be labelled as obstructionists by the media - with a unified GOP attack and distortion machine behind them.

Repeat after me: WHO FUCKING CARES? Jesus. When are Democrats going to stop living in fear of what Republicans will say about them? I swear, way too many Dems are like geeks in high school who are obsessed with what the cool kids think about them - apparently not realizing that the cool kids are going to make fun of them no matter what they do.

View from the other side

Mark Noonan:

It's all about Roe, my friends - the Planned Parenthood release and the statements by Dodd and Kennedy I just watched on Fox all tell me that the pro-abortion lobby has put its foot down and is demanding a tooth-and-nail defense of Roe by the Democrats. Roe wont be mentioned much, but the pro-abort fear is that O'Connor's replacement will provide that fifth Supreme Court vote against it...keep that in mind; the Democrat's Holy Grail is threatened; the glue that holds them together as a Party. This will be a nasty political fight.

Let's hope so.

Roe v. Wade, R.I.P.?

Atrios is already writing Roe's obituary:

Planned Parenthood v. Casey was a 5-4 decision. It's difficult to imagine that whatever wingnut Bush has to offer up to please the base wouldn't flip that, and effectively overturn Roe. I doubt Republicans will actually be happy with that, the ones who want to get elected anyway, because I think they understand what Democrats don't seem to - people in this country quite strongly favor abortion rights ... Yes, the "ick" factor causes people to embrace the curtailing of abortion rights around the edges, but that's mostly because people who are made slightly uncomfortable by the issue want to have a little bit of an "out."

When Roe goes, there will be much confusion among Democrats I imagine. The anti-abortion machine is in place and it is far stronger than the abortion rights machine. Since the media gives deference to anything under the cover of religion, and equates religion with conservatism, the anti-abortion machine will have much more uncritical treatment by the media.

When this moves to legislatures - federal and state - odds are the temptation by Democrats will be, as it generally is, to compromise, to find the center as defined by Tim Russert. To stand, then, for nothing.

But then he backtracks a bit:

People in comments have reminded me that until O'Connor's retirement the "pro-Roe" crowd numbered 6. So, perhaps this issue will be punted for another couple of years.

I would NOT count on Kennedy's vote for Roe. Kennedy very nearly voted to overturn Roe in the Casey v. Planned Parenthood case, and many pro-choice groups regard Kennedy as a vote against Roe - which would make the pro-Roe tally 5-4, not 6-3. Thus when O'Connor is gone, if she's replaced by an anti-Roe judge, the Court flips on Roe, with 5 against and 4 in favor, rather than simply slipping to a 5-4 majority for Roe.

No one knows, of course, what Kennedy would do if given the chance to overturn Roe. In my opinion, though, it would be foolish to do anything but assume that he would. The stakes are way too high to simply assume that he's on our side here. We need to fight this battle as if Roe is on the line, because it probably is. We cannot allow a "Roe v. Wade is still safe" meme to gather any momentum.

Here we go

O'Connor's gone.


You know what?

I really hate racism. Unless it's the Mexican government - which I, personally, believe can do no wrong - that's being racist; then I don't really mind.


Alternate Brain (HT: Daou) says it's time to start pushing for Dubya's impeachment.

It's a nice idea, but to say that it seems highly unlikely would be an understatement - unless the '06 elections produce a strong Democratic majority in congress, which also seems highly unlikely.

Bad news for Dems

From Washington Times:

A poll on the political mood in the United States conducted by the Democratic Party has alarmed the party at its own loss of popularity.

Conducted by the party-affiliated Democracy Corps, the poll indicated 43 percent of voters favored the Republican Party, while 38 percent had positive feelings about Democrats.

"Republicans weakened in this poll ... but it shows Democrats weakening more," said Stanley Greenberg, who served as President Clinton's pollster.

Greenberg told the Christian Science Monitor he attributes the slippage to voters' perceptions that Democrats have "no core set of convictions or point of view."


Eric Alterman on the Rove controversy:

There's a lesson for liberals in all this: American politics has become a game with no rules and no referee. Play by the old rules--fairness, honesty, good faith--and face political extinction.

(via Hillary Now.)

War on concepts

Mark Noonan:

This is properly called a War on Terrorism because what we are fighting is the concept that the murder of civilians is a legitmate military-political instrument - and wherever this concept is sustained, there is where we must fight.

Mmm ... endless war ...

UPDATE: Brian Leiter addressed this issue way back when:
...couldn't we have an agreement, at least among grown-ups, to stop using the phrase "war on terrorism," unless we have an explicit understanding that it is not a real war, but rather is like the "war on drugs," i.e., a metaphorical war that will fail, and so one that doesn't excuse any hair-brained schemes cooked up by beady-eyed, morally stunted politicians. One can't wage war on a political technique. Full stop. One could wage war on a group, perhaps, or on a country (as the US has been doing), but you can't wage war on techniques that can be employed by anybody for any purpose. The US waged war on Afghanistan, and is waging war on Iraq, and is engaged in an international manhunt for members of a terrorist group, but there is no such thing as a "war on terrorism." It doesn't exist. Look in the mirror and repeat that.

The Greatest American

The Blue Voice outlines the Greatest American's war on labor, as well as his many war crimes.

War room

A few items from Salon:

California's Barbara Boxer offered up her pick to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist: Sandra Day O'Connor. "I think that would be a healing choice," Boxer said. "She's a moderate woman. Wonderful, respected, terrific."

Boxer said O'Connor would have an easy time winning congressional approval. She predicted O'Connor would "flow through the Senate like water down a hill."

I don't see why anyone would really get their panties in a bunch about who becomes Chief Justice. The position means very little; basically, the Chief Justice gets to swear in presidents, preside over impeachment trials, and decide who writes the decisions (if he or she is in the majority). One might argue that the power to determine who authors decisions is an important one, since the written decision is the record of the Court's reasoning behind its decision (the 'Opinion of the Court'), but traditionally this duty is passed around pretty evenly, and technically any justice is permitted to write his opinion separately. The bottom line is that who ends up Chief Justice will make no real difference regarding the Court's decisions.

Also from Salon:

What were we saying this morning about Republicans who have internalized the idea --- all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding -- that Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks of Sept. 11? It turns out that it's not just random Republican voters around the country who think that way; the Republican vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism apparently does, too.

In an interview about the president's Iraq speech, North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes told CNN this morning that Saddam Hussein was "very much involved in 9/11."

According to the transcript of the interview, CNN's Carol Costello told Hayes, "But there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was connected in any way to al-Qaida." Hayes' response: "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but you're mistaken. There's evidence everywhere. We get access to it. Unfortunately others don't. But the evidence is very clear." Costello asked, "What evidence is there?" Hayes responded: "The connection between individuals who were connected to Saddam Hussein, folks who worked for him, we've seen it time and time again."

Costello narrowed her question: "Well, are you saying that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11?" Hayes' answer: "I'm saying that Saddam Hussein -- and I think you're losing track of what we're trying to talk about here -- Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11."

When Costello said that there is "no evidence" to support the claim that Hussein was involved in 9/11, Hayes shot back: "Well, I'm sorry, you haven't looked in the right places."

Too many Republicans and Bush apologists seem to think that any 'connection' between Saddam's regime and members of 'al Qaeda' - which isn't really a political/ military/ terrorist organization in the sense that most people think it is, but rather a label used to classify various groups and individuals using similar tactics and adhering to similar ideologies (much like 'ALF' or 'ELF') - is sufficient to establish that Saddam was 'behind' 9/11 (and that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is thereby justified). Sorry, but simply playing six degrees of separation with Saddam and Osama isn't going to cut it. I could use such 'reasoning' to prove that Barney the Dinosaur was involved in the attack on the World Trade Center.

And finally:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is offering up the names of some people he'd like to see George W. Bush nominate to the Supreme Court, and they're not from the usual short lists.

"We have had approximately 10 members of the Supreme Court that came from the United States Senate over the years," Reid told reporters Tuesday. "There are people who serve in the Senate now who are Republicans who I think would be outstanding Supreme Court members."

Reid's list: South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.

This is troubling, since all of these senators are anti-choice - as is Sen. Reid. When Reid was chosen as Senate Minority Leader, we were assured that his views on abortion wouldn't be an issue. I hope this isn't proving to be false.

At any rate, any Democrat who votes to confirm an anti-choice Supreme Court nominee should be persona non grata among liberals and progressives.

America's best

Recently, the Discovery Channel held a vote for Greatest American ever. (Wingnuts managed to freep Reagan into the top spot.)

In honor of this, Keith Olbermann lists the top ten Greatest American Monkeys.


The Leiter Manifesto

Brian Leiter is one of my blogging role models. In this post, he outlines the basis for his approach to blogging.
It has, on occasion, been noted that gentleness is not the hallmark of my postings on this blog, at least on matters of a political nature ... When it comes to politics ... reasons and evidence appear to play almost no role in changing anyone's views.

... I am sometimes presented with the following criticism: "Your rhetorical style won't persuade anyone who doesn't already agree with you." That is no doubt true, but, as we've just remarked, it is quite rare to persuade anyone by a careful, reasoned argument ...

I shall let the readers in on a secret (though I suspect it is obvious to my regular readers): I am not interested in persuading anyone. ... my goal in posting on various political topics is simply to alert like-minded readers to ideas and evidence and arguments which help strengthen their convictions regarding the truths they've already understood or glimpsed, as well as to give some expression to our collective outrage and dismay. I really wish that the unlike-minded folks would simply "go away."

...Against this cultural backdrop, it is important, in my view, not to adopt a moderate and temperate tone with respect to the purveyors of lies and half-truths, however earnest they may be. ... To treat them with civility is to dignify their pretense that they are really interested in ... honest intellectual inquiry. So, too, one should not be respectful and calm when talking about crytpo-fascists and grinning apologists for inhumanity ... Respectful, dispassionate treatment dignifies them, legitimates them, gives them a foothold in the space of reasons....

But there is a more general point here, though it is one that may be hard to impress on those of limited intellectual ability or parochial horizons: not all topics are of equal intellectual merit, and not every issue has "two sides" with equal epistemic merits. There are, to be sure, tons of "hard questions" with multiple serious answers in contention; but most of the discussion on the blog (especially the political discussion) pertains to what are "easy questions."

Start with some examples of hard questions, the kinds of questions I largely avoid on the blog (though some of them are the subject of my scholarly work):
Does the now orthodox thesis of the token-identity of the mental and the physical (the supervenience of the mental on the physical) have the unintended consequence that the mental is epiphenomenal? (Relatedly: is there really an intelligble kind of metaphysical relationship between properties [i.e., supervenience] that is intermediate between property-dualism and type-identity?)

...What exactly is Nietzsche's doctrine of the will to power, and what role is it playing in the argument of the Genealogy?

...Is it an obstacle to descriptive jurisprudence that the concepts central to law are (as I have called them) hermeneutic concepts, i.e., concepts whose extension is supposed to be fixed by the role they play in how people understand themselves and their social world?

...By contrast, here are some easy questions:
Was the U.S. justified in invading Iraq?

Are Bush's economic policies in the interests of most people?

Is Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection a well-confirmed scientific theory?

Is there a social security "crisis"?
These questions, and many others, are easily addressed in the blogosphere, since there is no serious--or at least no honest or intelligent--dispute about the epistemic merits of the possible answers.

... unsurprisingly, intellectual lightweights with trite opinions, and limited analytical skills, take offense when I make it all too clear what the answers to the easy questions are. Many of these folks are no doubt honest, well-intentioned, decent people, who have been led down unhappy paths by circumstances or indoctrination. It is an important question, far beyond my ken, what can be done to set them straight. But it is not the aim of this blog to do so.

Read the whole thing here.

Separated at birth?

The Freedom Tower, the proposed 1,776-ft replacement for the World Trade Center:

The Tampon of Death, a.k.a. the Rat Trap, an anti-rape device.

Justice O'Connor

Kos on the Supreme Court:

Conservatives are hoping Bush has two retirements to work with, with O'Connor being the second. But given O'Connor's recent turn to the left on issues like the Death Penalty, and her contiinued strong support for Roe, it's hard to see her surrendering her seat under this administration.

Hmm. O'Connor has always been a wild card, but I don't see any evidence of a "turn to the left" so dramatic that she would put off her retirement just so Bush won't get to nominate her replacement. The story of O'Connor's highly negative reaction on Election Day 2000 to what looked, for a few hours, like a Gore victory is well known. (And of course O'Connor sided with the majority in Bush v. Gore.)

It's possible, of course, that the events of the last five years has changed O'Connor's mind about Bush - but is there any reason to think so?

I wouldn't be surprised to see both Rehnquist and O'Connor leaving the court relatively soon.

Dr. God

Chris Matthews asks a Christian who wanted Terri Schiavo's feeding tube left in:

Were you—were you surprised, then, to hear that the diagnosis, that the autopsy showed that her brain had shriveled to half its size and that she was truly—I hate to use the term—in that vegetative state?

The man's answer:

That's up to God to determine whether we're in a vegetative state or not. I can‘t determine that.

Crooks and Liars has video.

Missed opportunity?

Via Hillary Now, from MSNBC:

With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.

But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,” Cressey added.

And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today.

Come again?

At The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, a.k.a. Sociopath Central, they are upset over the "wild-eyed anti-American slant from the New York Times" demonstrated by this headline for a story about Bush's speech:

Bush Declares Sacrifice in Iraq to Be 'Worth It'

What did Bush say?

Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country.

Hyperbole alert

Captain Ed on Bush's speech (emphasis added):
The dominant theme today will be the complaints that Bush exploited 9/11 -- complaints that will once again reveal how critics can't remember what 9/11 actually meant. It showed that we cannot afford to wait for terrorists to wave their flags and tell us where they are, because the only time they'll do that is when they're raising those flags over the ruins of American cities.

Dems talk back

From SFGate:
Democrats are criticizing President Bush for raising the Sept. 11 attacks while he defends his plan to keep U.S. troops in Iraq as long as it takes to ensure peace in the country.

The president, urging patience on an American public showing doubts about his Iraq policy, mentioned the deadly 2001 terrorist attacks five times during a 28-minute address Tuesday night at Fort Bragg, N.C.

..."The president's frequent references to the terrorist attacks of September 11 show the weakness of his arguments," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said. "He is willing to exploit the sacred ground of 9/11, knowing that there is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq."

..."The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001," Bush told a national television audience and 750 soldiers and airmen in dress uniform who mostly listened quietly as they had been asked to do.

...Democrats criticized Bush for not offering more specifics about how to achieve success in Iraq along with his frequent mention of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The president's numerous references to September 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said. "They only served to remind the American people that our most dangerous enemy, namely Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose and al-Qaida remains capable of doing this nation great harm nearly four years after it attacked America."

Bush urged Americans to remember the lessons of Sept. 11 and protect "the future of the Middle East" from men like bin Laden. He repeatedly referred to the insurgents in Iraq as terrorists and said they were killing innocent people to try to "shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September the 11th, 2001."

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said it's because of the lessons of the Sept. 11 attacks that he opposes Bush's approach to keeping the troops in Iraq without any timetable for withdrawal.

"The U.S. military presence in Iraq has become a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists, and Iraq is now the premier training ground and networking venue for the next generation of jihadists," Feingold said.


The Hillary question

Earlier, I wrote a post about Hillary Clinton's involvement with the DLC:

Hillary aligns herself with the DLC

... this will probably make progressives that much more skeptical of a Hillary candidacy in '08. Clearly, Hillary has cast her lot with the party's 'moderates', and if she faces serious opposition in the primaries, it will probably be from the party's left wing.

This was simply a prediction, not a judgment regarding whether such opposition would be warranted.

Regarding moderates in the Democratic Party, our friend the Liberal Avenger writes:

I am an unabashed far-left liberal. I recognize, however, that we SOCIALISTS aren't going to win today, tomorrow or anytime soon. Given that, I shall throw my weight behind the moderates - on both sides of the aisle.

I may not live to see my Open Gay Sex Public Dope Smoking Free Education Race Mixing Workers' Utopia come to pass, but at least maybe we'll stop killing American troops and Arabs.

I see things the same way, though it depends on what LA means by 'anytime soon' - I think certain events could make a socialist renaissance a reality sooner than we might otherwise expect. But for now, there is no question that the success of some Democratic moderates is critical. For instance, Harold Ford, a paradigmatic moderate/DLCer, is running for Frist's senate seat (Frist is leaving); this is a race we need to win, and no one will be happier than me to see Rep. Ford sworn in to the Senate come January '07. (Well, that might be an overstatement, but I'll be pretty pleased.)

This all gets me thinking about the '08 campaign. It's so far away I probably am just wasting time, but oh well. Well, you can't think about '08 without thinking about Hillary. Jami of Hillary Now says:

I'm tired of people hating on Hillary as if she's Zell Miller or something. She isn't.

...Hillary's record is not painful to any progressive who cares to look.

Hillary is certainly no Zell Miller. But is Jami right about Hillary's progressive credentials?

This is a very difficult question, in my opinion. There is a sense in which Hillary is unproblematically liberal. On health care, Social Security, taxes, etc., Hillary's stated position is the 'right' one. But some progressives/liberals consider her history to be a mixed bag at best. John Nichols:

Hillary Clinton's status as a liberal icon has always been based on leaps of logic, as opposed to her record.

As the first lady, she actively supported Bill Clinton's anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-human rights trade policies, from the North American Free Trade Agreement to permanent most favored nation trading status for China.

She defended the Clinton administration's draconian welfare reform schemes, which her old allies at the Children's Defense Fund correctly identified as the shredding of the social safety net for America's poorest children.

And she took the lead in drafting a bureaucratic health care reform plan that rejected the sensible single-payer model in favor of a scheme to funnel federal money into the pockets of some of the worst players in the for-profit health care industry.

...Hillary Clinton always refused to ask the tough questions, take the tough stands or abandon the risk-averse course set by the Clinton administration.

...With other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, she has stood up to some of the worst of President Bush's judicial nominees, and like the vast majority of Senate Democrats she has voted against the worst elements of the Bush economic agenda.

But no one is going to confuse Hillary Clinton, who has cozied up to the conservative, corporation-funded Democratic Leadership Council, with a progressive reformer. She remains the conventional inside-the-Beltway pol who angrily shouted, "Russ, live in the real world," after U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., tried to explain why Democrats should embrace campaign finance reforms he had proposed.

Hillary Clinton's determination to remain in the cautious, unquestioning center was very much on display last fall, when the Bush administration came to Congress seeking a blank check to wage an unnecessary and unjustified war with Iraq. While other senators expressed concern over the failure of the Bush administration to make a credible case that Iraq posed a serious threat, Clinton bought the White House line.

Putting aside the issue of the war - a similar case criticism could be made of Kerry, Edwards, and other Dems whom progressives found reasonably acceptable in '04 - this hits on a crucial point: Hillary is inevitably evaluated partly on the basis of her husband's administration, and progressives are hardly nostalgic for the Clinton administration, for all the reasons mentioned above as well as a few others (a major one being Clinton's support for the Iraq sanctions regime).

But keeping in mind the Liberal Avenger's point about lowered expectations, one might ask: surely you would be willing to trade Bush for Clinton, right? Right. And this is why you don't hear most progressives saying that they won't support her; if Hillary's the only thing standing between Jeb Bush (or whoever) and the White House, then give me President Hillary. But is she our best bet?

It remains to be seen, I guess. More and more I am convinced that the likeliest way the Democrats win in '08 is by putting forward (and this is fast becoming my mantra) a credible message of economic populism. This is the way to neutralize the GOP's advantage in the 'culturally conservative' areas of the country. In my view, issues like gay marriage are making a significant electoral difference only because rural folks who are members of the working and middle classes don't see either party as looking out for their economic interests. If we can convince them otherwise, we'll get a good chunk of those votes.

But I'm highly skeptical that Hillary is the one who can do this. To a significant extent, Bill Clinton abandoned these folks and (along with the DLC) advanced an unabashedly pro-business agenda. Clinton's personality was likeable enough to overcome this; Hillary doesn't have this advantage. We need someone who can say to rural, working class voters: "We are on your side; we will fight for you" - and have them believe it.

Will people buy this message if it comes from the mouth of Hillary Clinton? It seems unlikely; at the very least, Hillary needs to prove she can be credible on this count. For now, Neil the Werewolf's favorite, John Edwards, is looking pretty good...

Favorite philosopher poll

My vote, if you have to ask, is for Wittgenstein.


The Mad Biologist says:

I'm really worried that the Republicans are going to successfully tar the Democrats once again as the 'anti-war/anti-soldier' party. Rove's vile statement was only the first shot. The Democrats need to hit back forcefully, even demagogically ... We can't spend the next twenty years tagged as the party 'which lost Iraq', even if the record clearly indicates that the Bush Administration is largely at fault. In light of the Durbin capitulation, I'm not optimistic.

... my guess is that Republicans see the US losing the war in Iraq, and they're laying the groundwork for the campaign to blame the loss on the anti-war movement (such as it is). If the US has to pull out of Iraq in defeat, you can be sure that this will be every wingnut's explanation, and they'll never stop repeating it. They've already engaged in such revisionist history regarding Vietnam; this time they're doing it pre-emptively.

Not ready for prime time

Brian Leiter:
The Criminal War Monger Bush ... told another series of bald-faced lies, spiced up with some fibs and half-truths, on national T.V. this evening.

...By the way, there is no such thing as a "war on terror." ... Please, someone tell Karl Rove they can't run on this fake "war on terror" forever.

Ewoks and Deaniacs

Neil the Werewolf has responded to my response to an earlier post of his, which was a response to a post of mine, which ... well, you get the idea. It's about the direction of the Democratic Party. My favorite bit:

Against Bush's Social Security Death Star, Han and Lando have put aside their grievances, the shields are down, and the Millenium Falcon has flown into the core reactor shaft. When this fight is over, we're going to have a big Ewok party on Endor with New Democrats kissing Deaniacs while the ghosts of Obi-Wan and Franklin Roosevelt smile upon us.


Neil the Werewolf thinks that McCain is out of the running for the GOP's '08 nomination. I'm not quite as sure, but I hope he's right. Though a lot of right-wingers hate McCain, the smartest thing the GOP could do is to nominate him. He's their perfect candidate - he's got a moderate reputation but in actuality is rather far to the right, and the media has a gigantic hard-on for the guy, so he could expect a campaign unencumbered by even the kind of light scrutiny that Bush was given.

Chickenhawks part 2

Kevin Drum:

I actually agree with the overall gist of Christopher Hitchens' latest column in Slate. He argues that it's absurd to think you've scored some kind of withering putdown of war supporters by pointing out that most of them (and their sons) haven't volunteered for duty. Since I support police, fire, and social welfare programs despite the fact that I'm not a police officer, a firefighter, or a social worker, I think he's right on this.

I half agree with Hitchens & Drum. Hitchens is right that it's sort of weird that we always talk about whether war supporters would 'send' their sons (and daughters) to Iraq:

But when it comes to the confrontation in Iraq, the whole notion of grown-ups volunteering is dismissed or lampooned. Instead, it's people's children getting "sent." Recall Michael Moore asking congressmen whether they would "send" one of their offspring, as if they had the power to do so, or the right? ... Nobody has to join the armed forces, and those who do are old enough to vote, get married, and do almost everything legal except buy themselves a drink. Why infantilize young people who are entitled to every presumption of adulthood?

Iraq war hawks could perhaps encourage their children to sign up for the military, but they obviously can't just 'send' them over, in the sense of forcing them to enlist.

I don't, however, think that it's unreasonable to expect fervent war supporters like Jonah Goldberg (who we all like to pick on) to put their money where their mouth is. One difference between this and Drum's example of police and firefighters is that there is a shortage of soldiers. With things like police work and firefighting, we've managed to set things up so that the benefits conferred on those who do these jobs (the pay, the lifestyle, and in the case of firefighters, the you-know-what) are attractive enough that a sufficient number of people volunteer to do the job.

This is usually the case with the military as well - but not right now. The (real or perceived) danger of fighting in Iraq has reached a level where the risk is not outweighed by the benefits in the minds of a sufficient number of people. So you have a shortage of troops.

But Bush supporters tell us that the war in Iraq is absolutely vital; that the security of the U.S. depends on it. Most of us don't believe that, but they profess to. So you'd think they would be pulling out all the stops, doing whatever is necessary to win the war. But one thing you don't see them doing is volunteering to fight it themselves.

Almost everyone agrees that police and firefighters are necessary, so we ask that some individuals take on these fairly dangerous jobs. But when we do, it is with the understanding that we only ask them to risk their lives because what they are doing is necessary for the continued survival and prosperity of all of us. That is - we only send them into life-threatening situations when it is absolutely necessary. We don't ask them to risk their lives for frivolous reasons.

The same thing, theoretically, is true with regard to soldiers. We ask them to be available to put their lives on the line, with the understanding that they will be called upon to do so only under the direst circumstances.

Obviously, though, things don't usually play out like this. The US has often deployed forces for unnecessary (and sometimes immoral) purposes. So one would have to be quite naive to enlist expecting only to be called upon to fight a war as a last resort. Of course, the military likes to grab 'em young, and 17- and 18-year-olds have a tendency to be naive, and it's hard to blame them for that.

Not only are the jobs of the police and firefighters supposed to be necessary, they are supposed to be necessary to everyone. This is the crucial difference. Wars like Iraq are fought not for the benefit of everyone but for a few. Of all the reasons Iraq was invaded - a show of power, a way to ensure Bush's re-election, strategic advantage, oil - the most implausible is that it was fought for the benefit of the average American. But it is precisely the average American who is being asked to do the fighting.

Thus we get to the root of the 'chickenhawk' slur - the time-honored tradition of the little man fighting the big man's wars.

Bush's numbers

Via Atrios (I think), a poll has been released that gives a state-by-state breakdown of Bush's approval ratings.

There are a few mild surprises. Texas, Dubya's home state, only gives him a 50% approval. A few red states give Bush low numbers - Nevada (38%), Ohio (40%) - and some of the blue states approve of Bush at startlingly low rates - New York (33%), Vermont (32%) - though I have no idea whether or not those numbers are historically typical for presidents in states they didn't win.

Bush's highest rate of approval comes from Utah (63%) followed by Nebraska (60%).

Bush v. Bush

Liberal Avenger has Bush debating himself on the subject of timetables and exit strategies.

Hillary aligns herself with the DLC

Details at Kos. As is discussed there, this will probably make progressives that much more skeptical of a Hillary candidacy in '08. Clearly, Hillary has cast her lot with the party's 'moderates', and if she faces serious opposition in the primaries, it will probably be from the party's left wing.

How to survive a mountain lion attack

A couple of years ago, a 75-year-old man was attacked by a mountain lion. He told the story to Salon.
"I'm a World War II veteran, went over on D-Day plus 17, got captured in Normandy by S.S. troopers on tanks. I spent 297 days as a slave laborer for Adolf Hitler. I was in a 1-square-mile camp for 20,000 starving men. A place where death was so common, they bulldozed the bodies into pits right outside the fence.

"None of that scared me the way that cougar did, that day he attacked me. Because you knew where the Panzers were coming from.

"On the 24th of January of 2000, in the early hours of the morning, a dog had been killed on an Indian reserve, and I went out, before the hunting party had gathered, to pick up the tracks of the cougar that did it. It was minus 4 degrees centigrade, two inches of snow on the ground, overcast, good tracking weather. I was waiting for the hounds to arrive, so I left my rifle in the car -- worst mistake of my life -- and went into the bushes past the backyard where the dog was taken.

Click here to continue reading 'How to survive a mountain lion attack.'

'How to survive a mountain lion attack' continued:

"And to my shock and surprise, I turned my head, and there, about 40 feet from me, at the base of a spruce tree, all curled up, head down, swishing his tail, was an adult cougar. I ducked, and I did it softly: Movement causes a cougar to attack -- you try to back up, you try to run, he'll pounce.

"I snuck back a distance of 150 feet, and I was walking to my car and I heard nothing when he hit me. First time in 60 years of hunting that I've ever been attacked. Oh my goodness! It was like a baseball bat to the back of the neck, the blood is filling my ears and running down my shoulders and I'm down in the snow: four big canine teeth embedded in the muscles of my neck, and in the blink of an eye it let go and grabbed me again and then it shook its head just like it was killing a deer, shaking the life out. This is all in dead silence, no growling, no hissing, and I said, 'Clarence, this cougar is going to kill you.'

"Now, at that moment, with his jaws around my neck, I was reminded, I was made conscious, that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit within me, my innermost being, is more than one billion times faster than a cougar. I went hot with the thought of it, hot all over, my mental faculties turned razor sharp. Instantly, I remembered an old rule: If ever attacked by a dog, place your hand behind the lower canine teeth on the lower jaw and you can control that animal. Bang! Never hesitated! My right thumb went in one side of that big jaw and my left forefinger and middle finger went in the other, I pulled down and pulled those ugly teeth out of my neck, and there's blood everywhere in the snow, and those canines are cutting my hands. I believe I am the only living man to deliberately place his hands in the mouth of an attacking cougar.

"So I wrestled that cougar's head and neck over my chest and as quick as you could blink an eye my left arm was wrapped around his neck, choking him. I put such pressure on him that 3 and one-half inches of the blood vein in my left arm was totally crushed, and to this day has not come back. That vein has dried up.

"My plan was to flip its head and suffocate him in the snow, but just then, somebody come running up on the scene, a man with a .22 rifle, he stood about 12 feet away, and not knowing who this young man was or whether he could shoot straight -- well, I've got a cougar on me and now I'm looking down a rifle barrel, and of all the scare I had, that was the scariest -- I hollered, 'Don't shoot! Come right up here within 12 inches, and lay into him.' He fires four shots and when the fourth shot hit that cougar in the spine, I felt it go limp.

"The cougar had every reason to attack me. He was starving. There was nothing in his stomach but water, and porcupine quills in its throat -- those 'stickers', the quills, were his last meal, and they hurt him. He was in pain. And when I put my hands on either side of his face, and I looked straight into his eyes, I felt sorry: That was the closest I've ever gotten to such a fierce animal, and I saw how beautiful an animal this was, and I felt sorry that it had to be destroyed, that I had to kill this pretty animal.

"One of the prettiest animals in North America, a proud and master predator, a species unto himself, and he knows it. I have a great respect for the cougar."

If Hillary becomes president, Bill's penis will be a national security threat

John Hawkins of Right Wing News interviews Ed Klein, author of 'The Truth about Hillary.' Some excerpts (emphasis added):

John Hawkins:Do you think [Bill Clinton's infidelity] could be a security liability for the United States [if Hillary were elected president]? Let's say a foreign intelligence agency gets Frank Gifford style pics of Bill Clinton having an affair and then asks Hillary to look the other way on something or face maybe a 6 month feeding frenzy in the press when it breaks? Do you think that could be a security liability for the US?

Ed Klein: I think that’s one of the best questions I’ve ever been asked in all the interviews that I’ve done. I hadn’t even thought of that. That’s a great question. Yes, absolutely, you know, given Bill Clinton’s lack of discretion, given his lack of judgment about whom he chooses to have sex with, who knows what kind of woman could be slipped through and sleep with him and, as you say, jeopardize the national security.

John Hawkins: Let me ask you another question related to all of this. Hillary herself once famously said, "I'm not sitting here, some little woman standing by her man,” which leads to an obvious question for a lot of people: why is a wealthy, powerful, very successful woman still staying in a marriage with a serial adulterer?

Ed Klein: Another good question and the answer in my view is because she doesn’t really care about the sexual infidelities. I’ve been criticized by the liberal media for suggesting that Hillary surrounds herself with a number of mannish and sometimes lesbian women and that she herself has had a fascination with lesbianism and radical feminism. The fact is that that’s true, whether it may not be politically correct to say so, but it happens to be the God’s honest truth, and I name many of these women in my book.

Hillary does not seem to have a great deal of interest in sex, whether it’s with men or women. She seems to be on the asexual side. Her interests seem to be power, not sex, and I don’t think she cares that much if Bill “cheats on her” as long as it doesn’t become public. When it becomes public, then it becomes not something she is pained about personally, but she’s embarrassed about politically because it undermines her political power. That’s why she cares about it at all.

John Hawkins: Let me ask you this: Are you saying that maybe she’s bisexualthat’s why she doesn’t care – is there something else here that’s at work?

Ed Klein: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that for all we know, given the evidence that we have, Hillary does not seem to be a -- what I would call -- a normal sexual person. A normal sexual person has sexual impulses or drives. She doesn’t seem to be driven by those same instincts. She seems to be driven by one thing which is the acquistion of power, the acquisition of being at the center of attention.


John Hawkins: We’ll finish up here. I know you’re pressed for time. Is there anything else you'd like to say about your new book ...?"

Ed Klein: Well, I’d like to get your – you know, maybe off the record, if you want, or however you want it – I’d like to get your opinion of the conservative view of my book.

John Hawkins: Off the record, pretty bad, Ed. I think that rape thing really hurt because a lot of people took a look at it and they said, "Alright, this is not going to help, it’s going to be a smear book, it’s another Kitty Kelley sort of thing" and I think a lot of people because of that are very, very cautious about it ...

Ed Klein: What can I do about it?

John Hawkins: Well, I think you can do just what you’re doing, sort of explaining it was taken out of context, you know ... I’d say just keep plugging. You know, go to some of the other outlets and just keep putting the word out there. I mean, you’re selling pretty well now; I think the last I saw you were 5th on Amazon last night. So I mean you are still selling books which is pretty good and I mean there are a lot of people who are going to read this.

Ed Klein: Let me tell you what I think is happening ... Hillary and the Clintons have a tried and true method of destroying their opponents. In my case what they’ve done is they identified my strongest point – which is my reputation, my background which is solid, and my track record which is, you know, impeccable -- and attacked that by trying to compare me to the tabloid Kitty Kelley type of writer -- which I’m not.

By throwing a lot of mud at me, some of the mud has stuck. Then when I try to respond to them on a national level through the mainstream media they have gone to the mainstream media -- meaning the TV news presidents, and executive producers of the major TV shows -- and threatened them with retaliation of withholding Hillary’s appearance on those shows. So I can’t respond on those national shows.

This is, I would say, you know, from their perspective, brilliant strategy, which has even seemed to work with some of my – I would think -- potentially conservative supporters because, you know, after all, we read all this stuff about somebody in the press and you say, “Gee, where there’s smoke, there must be fire.” But in fact, if you read my book, and it is my view, you’ll find it to be utterly responsible and not at all sleazy and a very intelligent assessment of a woman who is on the verge of becoming the next President of the United States.

Bonus excerpt: Klein provides irrefutable proof that he is a complete jackass:

Matt Drudge, whom I admire and respect a great deal...


How to survive a shark attack

You're probably aware that a young girl was recently killed by a shark in Florida. (Story here.) With this in mind, Slate tells you what to do if you find yourself under attack by a shark:

The surfer who tried to save this weekend's shark attack victim says he defended himself by punching the shark with his bare fist. Is that a good idea? Shark attack experts suggest punching a shark only as a last resort. Rapid retreat tends to be a better plan. It won't help to play dead if a shark has you cornered. Instead, a smack to the face or snout—where sharks, like humans, have a high concentration of sensory receptors—can stun your attacker and give you enough time to escape. When a shark has you in its jaws, try poking at its eyes or gills.

Incidentally, you can read about what to do in case of a bear attack here.

Bush in '08?

Jeb, that is. From Newsweek via Blogs for Bush:

Jeb Bush's request (that a state attorney investigate alleged discrepancies in Michael Schiavo's statements about how long he took to call 911 after Terri's collapse) startled even his closest confidants. While critics accused Bush of trying to curry favor with cultural conservatives, "this wasn't a position taken for the purpose of pandering," says one political adviser who was surprised by Bush's intervention and who asked not to be named to avoid appearing disloyal. "It's based entirely on his strong personal bias for protecting life."

Yeah, right.

Ill-advised or not, Bush's maneuver only fueled speculation about a possible presidential run in 2008. Given a GOP field that lacks a standout contender, Bush "would automatically be the one to beat" were he to enter, says Mac Stipanovich, a former Bush campaign manager. He's a popular governor who has embarked on pathbreaking reforms in such areas as education and Medicaid, and presided over a robust Florida economy. And he's embraced by the GOP's conservative base. So is Bush planning a run? Though he has repeatedly denied it, "that decision remains to be made," says one of the confidants. Another, who declined to be named so as not to jeopardize his relationship with Bush, believes Bush will end up going for it. "I think the national party will call on him," says this adviser, "and it will be tough to resist."

Not sure whether this would be good or bad for our side. I want to say good - surely people won't elect a member of the Bush family a fourth time! - but I thought the same thing about Dubya's nomination in 2000.

Blog tending

The old blogroll was in serious need of an update, so I've added quite a few sites to it, all highly recommended. Let me know if I forgot anyone.

No longer fully loaded

Lindsay Lohan on her diminished figure:
People keep warning me, 'Don't get too thin.' I was never on a crash diet because that's not what I do. I could never be one of those girls who throws up after eating. And my mother would kill me if I did anything stupid. But I'm happy to have lost weight, and I'm working at keeping it off. Besides, Kate Moss is my fashion icon.

She may not be bulimic, but I have it on good authority that Ms. Lohan is something of a cokehead.

The old ballgame

Despite the fact that the current president was once part owner of the Texas Rangers, Republicans in Congress are responding with threats to the news that George Soros, ultra-wealthy supporter of liberal causes, may be interested in buying the Nationals, a D.C.-based major league baseball team.

God & politics roundup

-The Supreme Court issues something of a split decision on the issue of public displays of the Ten Commandments.

-Via Daou, Christian Conservative argues that without God, we can't be good people:
Today’s political left may not appreciate enough a man named Jean Paul Sartre ... Before reading a summary of his “Atheistic Existentialism” it became obvious to me how the life’s work of this French intellectual and communist sympathizer must have influenced the American Left, particularly the universities.

...To the French intellectual, Sartre’s only value we should concern ourself with is “human freedom”. Freedom to do what, though? Are you free to abandon your newborn in a junkyard? Free to steal your neighbors power tools? Free to threaten racial violence?

... As soon as we become our own judge and jury, our patently obvious bias frees us from objectively policing our own behavior. When there are no fixed moral boundaries outside the human, when we can create our own code of ethics as free individuals, we are far more susceptible to evil due to group and individual moral blind spots.

...If there is no omnipresent God observing us, we have less to fear. Sure we can fool some of the people some of the time, but we can’t fool God any of the time. Accountability is a good progenitor of ethical human behavior, divine accountability is the greatest progenitor of ethical behavior.

Can an Atheist still retain a sense of moral values? Of course. But to what degree?

... it is clear that without the fear of the Lord, things become mushy and wishy washy, standards of behavior become pliable and easy to blow off, and our behavior follows suit.

-Also via Daou, Anarchoblogs (which also hosted the most recent Carnival of the Un-Capitalists) finds a website devoted to anarchism and Jesus.

16-year-old boy has an abortion

This is fucking disgusting:
Doctors in Bangladesh have a removed a living fetus from inside the body of his 16-year-old twin brother.

The unborn fetus was found inside the boy, Abu Raihan, during an operation Saturday, the Daily Star News reported Sunday.

The 3.3-pound fetus had hair, legs and genitals, but very little development of the head and brain. The fetus had two teeth and two slightly developed hands.

"We were prepared for such a surprise," said Professor MA Majid, a surgeon. "Medical science says it is possible but this is the first such case in my professional life."

The condition was caused during the mother's pregnancy, when the growth of the twin embryos in the uterus was imbalanced. Due to a lack of space in the mother's uterus, one of the embryos entered into the other due to lack of space.

"It is called 'macerated baby' in medical science that grows by taking nutrition through its brother's placenta circulation," said Majid.

Bitch. Ph.D. says:
I await the pro-life argument that this 16yo boy shouldn't have had an abortion.


Am I the only one who didn't know that such a place existed?

Flag shenanigans part 4

Brian Leiter posts this essay from Counterpunch:

... the last refuge of a scoundrel is patriotism, and the scoundrels infesting the capital, who put this country into an unwinnable and pointless war based upon lies, along with the gutless sycophants in Congress who backed them, are now being increasingly called to account by an American public finally grown weary of the war and the lies.

What to do? Dredge up that moldering corpse—the flag protection amendment.

The joke is that the flag is desecrated daily for commercial purposes, waving proudly in front of the corporate headquarters of war profiteers like Haliburton, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bechtel, GE, Westinghouse and Exxon Mobil ... It decorates all manner of commercial products from the backsides of women’s shorts to a line of patriotic condoms.

... What a pathetic joke it will be for future schoolchildren, reading the high-minded...words of the Constitution...when they come to this cheap amendment telling them that the beautiful First Amendment guaranteeing free speech which they read earlier is not really true: If they want to protest government actions by burning a piece of red, white and blue cloth, they can be locked up.

And all to cover up the mendacity and cowardice of a gang of war criminals in 2005.

I suspect that the early 2000s in general will be seen by future generations as something of a sad joke.


Trevino at calls for a draft:
two postulates... : first, that the volunteer Army as an institution cannot sustain the present effort; second, that the war is not sustainable in the long run without substantial American involvement.

...These are not, I think, particularly debatable points, though this does not mean some won't try. On the first, it is enough to note that we cannot plausibly threaten another nation should we need to ...; that our Reserve and Guard units are tapped out at a rate previously envisioned only for a third world war scenario; ... that recruiting is, as has been well-documented, suffering badly; and that many units and personnel are on their third battlefield rotation in two years.

...The volunteer Army ... insulat[es] the mass of Americans from the realities of wartime and its demands. The post-Vietnam Army that could not go to war without uprooting the Guard and Reserves was supposed to convey that sacrifice to main street America by dint of that uprooting: we can now fairly say that its effect does not even begin to approximate that of the draft. Whether these positives outweigh the massive negative of an Army under crushing strain a mere two years into a prolonged insurgency depends entirely upon one's point of view. Libertarians unable to give a damn about persons neither American nor within line of sight will think so. Leftists of the type whose hatred of the Bush Administration outweighs the normal impetus of patriotism and humanity will think so ...

Americans of ordinary sense will not.

And Armando from Daily Kos thinks a draft might be necessary for reasons beyond Iraq:

While Bushco's monumental mendacious blunder into the Iraq Debacle is the immediate cause of this crisis, the issue seems to extend beyond this. We must consider the real possibility that our nation will need to fight a war which will result in significant casualties. War is always always always a last resort, but it still is a resort.

Have we been kidding ourselves on believing an all volunteer force is adequate for our national security needs? And if it isn't, do we want a draft? And if not a draft then what?

"I doubt your wife is simian looking"

Listen to Al Franken and Joe Conason tear Ed Klein a new one.


The flag has been desecrated!

By none other than ... George W. Bush!

Kelo part 3

Nathan Newman (via Daou) on the Kelo decision:

...people keep talking about its injustice as if the land was being stolen, rather than the owners being given the market value of the property, so that they have the ability to buy equivalent property.

...the underlying outrage is no doubt the fear that market value doesn't reflect the value of living in a community for years that may be lost to being evicted from a home by eminent domain.

Which is accurate, but then where is the outrage at the pervasive evictions of renters from their homes by private landlords who develop property? That is far more common than eminent domain and disrupts far more communities.

This outrage on behalf of an incredibly tiny number of homeowners, while renters suffer day-to-day threat of such evictions with almost no legal resource and no democratic vote by the community, just seems out of balance, especially by progressives.

... if the reaction against Kelo is based on a fear of losing existing communities that should not be priced merely at the market value of property, we should be far more politically outraged at the way private real estate markets destroy poor renters' lives and their communities.

So I continue to be perplexed by the liberals attacking Kelo. Here you have a small group of property owners getting full economic compensation for their property. Yes, they suffer intangible losses, but compared to the intangible AND economic losses suffered every day by renters due to gentrification, it just seems like a pretty minor problem.

Blogarama - The Blog Directory Sanity is not statistical.