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

11/19/2005

It's the devil's way now

The White House reacted to Rep. John Murtha's call for withdrawal from Iraq by issuing this statement:
Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party.
The problem is, as I've pointed out before, and as Michael Moore himself points out today, is that Moore's position on Iraq is perfectly in line with that of a majority of Americans.

The SOP for the Bush administration is to relegate the anti-war position to that of the left-wing fringe. But is it even logically possibly for the majority to occupy the fringe?

Of course, it's not logically possible that 2+2=5, either, but that doesn't stop a good fascist from insisting otherwise.

Were Republicans navigating the Titanic?

Stay the course! Only cowards steer away from icebergs!

11/18/2005

Focus groups

Apparently, the Democratic Party has been focus-grouping new slogans. The one they ended up with was: "Together, America Can Do Better."

It doesn't seem that my suggested slogan - "Hey, America, Could We Kindly Direct Your Attention To The Fact That The Other Party Is Led By FUCKING IMBECILES AND WAR CRIMINALS WHO LACK EVEN A SHRED OF HUMAN DECENCY??? Because Apparently You HAVEN'T FUCKING NOTICED!!! AAHHHHHH!!!!!" - was among those tested.

I, like many others, am extremely skeptical of focus groups. I haven't heard anyone give a serious defense of their use, so maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that they are worthless at best.

Say you're focus-grouping a new kind of breakfast cereal. You get a handful of people who have nothing better to do in a room and start asking them questions about the packaging and the product. They're supposed to tell you, I presume, what they look for in a breakfast cereal, what kind of package they are attracted to, etc. etc. But is there any reason to suppose that their preferences as stated in this unusual, artificial context track their actual preferences - or more accurately, their actual decisions qua consumers? Because if they don't, the focus group has at best just delivered up a steaming pile of completely useless information (at no small cost, either - you wouldn't believe what some focus-group leaders make in a year). At worst, you've got information that will actually send you off on the wrong track, causing you to develop a product that will actually perform worse than if you had just skipped the focus group all together.

But maybe there's some nuances that I'm missing. I'd be interested to hear what they are, though.

Incidentally, one of the stories in David Foster Wallace's latest collection is about a focus group. It's the only focus-group fiction that I'm aware of, and it's actually much more interesting than it sounds. Or at least it was to me.

11/17/2005

Give the Doughy Pantload points for originality

I've got to admit that I've never heard anyone make the argument that even if Bush did lie about Iraq, we shouldn't hold it against him - that in fact, it would just be more evidence of his greatness!

I'd never heard it, that is, until Jonah Goldberg made exactly that argument in an L.A. Times editorial today:
Roosevelt won his unprecedented third election on the vow that he wouldn't send American boys to war: "While I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." This was almost surely a lie. (…)

Just three days before Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 4, 1941, the Chicago Tribune and Washington Star-Ledger broke the story that FDR had already drafted a plan for war with Germany, a plan that entailed a 10-million-man army invading Germany by the middle of 1943. Democrats and Republicans alike saw this as further proof that FDR had been lying all along

Does this make FDR a bad president? No. While I have my problems with FDR, most historians are right to be forgiving of deceit in a just cause. World War II needed to be fought, and FDR saw this sooner than others. (...)

Even the most cursory reading of any presidential biography will tell you that statesmanship requires occasional duplicity. If great foreign policy could be conducted Boy Scout-style — "I will never tell a lie" — foreign policy would be easy (and Jimmy Carter would be hailed as the American Bismarck). This isn't to say that the public's trust should be breached lightly, but there are other competing goods involved in any complex situation.
This is so stupid it drools, but I have to give Jonah credit for at least coming up with a new stupid argument.

We know, because Republicans tell us so, that Iraq is not at all analogous to the Vietnam war, and anyone who makes any comparisons between the two is just a burned-out '60s leftover spouting off in between bong hits. However, Iraq is directly analogous to World War II, and anything that might have been justified in the service of the latter is certainly justified in the service of the former.

Or is it? Jedmunds (who prefers to call Jonah "Lucianne's Dipshit Kid") is skeptical:
A utilitarian argument, it seems to me, requires at the very least, a net utilitarian gain ... Will history vindicate Bush on Iraq? My magic 8-ball asks me if I’m kidding.

Looking ahead

Cannot Be Trusted runs through the issues that will take center stage after the Alito confirmation hearings.

Alito is beatable

Some liberals are grumbling that Alito's confirmation is a "done deal," that come January, Alito will be on the Court. Alito may well end up on the Court, but that result is far from inevitable. This nomination can be defeated, if the Democratic Party has the intestinal fortitude for the battle it will require.

The Republicans are ready and willing to walk into a hornet's nest. They want a fight on this one, because they think they can win. In a speech to the Federalist Society, Karl Rove said this:

"We welcome a vigorous, open, fair-minded, and highminded debate about the purposes and meaning of the courts in our lives. And we will win that debate."

He is wrong, dead wrong, but the fact that he and others on the right believe this gives Democrats an incredible advantage.

If they want this debate, give it to them, because we will win it. Why? Because right-wing dogma on this issue is not only intellectually unfounded, it is also extremely unpopular. Our philosophy regarding the role of the Supreme Court can be summed up in one simple sentence:

"The Supreme Court should protect the fundamental rights of all Americans."

Poll that one and see what the numbers are.

But conservatives reject this. They actually believe (or say they do) that if a fundamental right isn't explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, then the Supreme Court is powerless to protect that right. Again, do an opinion poll on that principle and see how many people agree with it. From reproductive freedom to civil liberties to proportional representation, Alito refuses to use the power of the courts to prevent the violation of these basic rights.

I'm not predicting Alito's defeat; the Democratic leadership has a way of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But I can say one thing: the outcome is not predetermined, and shame on the Democratic Party if they don't put up a hell of a fight on this one, because this is one they can win, if they have the will to do so.

Condi's role

"co-mothering the infant-in-chief."

It's funny because it's true

Grace Nearing on Hitch the Snitch:
Isn't it about time for Hitchens to rush to Patrick Fitzgerald with sworn affidavits from himself and his obliging spouse stating that they bumped into Joseph Wilson inside a liquor store and Wilson, whom they hardly knew, babbled on and on about his covert CIA babe of a wife?

What the hell is the point of this?

Fascist-in-libertarian's-clothing Glenn Reynolds has started "Open Source Media," a "venture designed to bring together top online writers, journalists and commentators under a single umbrella." From the AP (HT: Blogometer):
NEW YORK -- A media Web site scheduled to debut Wednesday will seek to blend traditional journalism with the freeform commentary developed through the emerging Web format known as blogs.

Some 70 Web journalists, including Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds and David Corn, Washington editor of the Nation magazine, have agreed to participate in OSM - short for Open Source Media.

OSM will link to individual blog postings and highlight the best contributions, chosen by OSM editors, in a special section. Bloggers will be paid undisclosed sums based on traffic they generate.

The ad-supported OSM site will also carry news feeds from Newstex, which in turn receives stories from The Associated Press, Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service and other traditional media organizations.

"We're deliberately trying to do something new by affiliating blog and mainstream people," said Roger L. Simon, a blogger and the venture's co-founder.
So basically, it's just another blog and news aggregator. Like there's not enough of those.

I suppose it's possible that "OSM" will be substantially better in some way, but a look at the hideously designed front page doesn't provide much hope.

11/16/2005

Best U.S. art cities

Tyler Green gives his top ten:
1. New York City. Duh.

2. Los Angeles. Great mix of artists, galleries, and museums (...)

3. San Francisco Bay Area. Ess Eff has about a dozen perky galleries, a dozen top-line galleries, three fantastic museums (FAMSF, the Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA), a couple next-tier museums (Oakland Museum, San Jose Museum of Art), and some university spaces (Stanford, BAM, Mills College). And I grew up there, so phbbbbt.

4. Houston. The MFAH is inconsistent and often laughable. The Menil properties are divine, so too James Turrell's Quaker meeting house. The Blaffer and the CAMH cover the contemporary side. Alt-spaces like Lawndale are a start.

5. Dallas-Fort Worth. MAMFW is probably my favorite place in America to see art. The Nasher Sculpture Center is smartly conceived and flawlessly executed. The Dallas Museum of Art and a small gallery scene round out the city (...)

6. Philadelphia. The Barnes, the Philly Museum and the ICA are the headliners, but upstarts like the Fabric Museum and the Moore College put on interesting shows.

7. Washington, DC. Strong museum scene, small gallery scene. Hampered by some awful-for-art buildings like Bunshaft's bunker and IM Pei's cavernous NGA East Building. The Corcoran is in seemingly perpetual regression. (Banjos. Seriously: banjos.) Static.

8. Chicago. The Art Institute, MCA, and galleries...

9. St. Louis. Would make my list just for the magnificent Matisse Bathers at the St. Louis Art Museum. But SLAM has an under-acknowledged collection, and the Pulitzer is one of the most special art experiences anywhere. The Contemporary St. Louis has been programmed smartly too ...

10. Marfa. The mixture of art, land, sky, elements. One of my favorite places in America.
Marfa is a weird little town in Texas.

Is Iraq "a debacle Republicans and Democrats ventured into together"?

"The Right has gone from trying to convince the American people that Iraq is not a debacle to trying to convince the American people that it is a debacle Republicans and Democrats ventured into together."

Those are the words of the cool-as-shit Battle Panda, who has a good post about the new they-did-it-too strategy of the GOP. There's another good post about the same thing by Jedmunds - the comments are worth reading as well.

Just in case you haven't seen this

It's all over the place, but in the event that you missed it:
Imagine this...

You watch on TV the news that your mother's city has been destroyed by this latest disaster. For days you wait to hear from her. Days pass into weeks but still no word. Your hope of finding her alive fades. Frantically you call everyone in government but to no avail. You tell yourself to let the rescuers do their job. You await word from the morgue but it does not come. You hear they are backed up so you wait. Two months later you are allowed to go to her home. Hoping to retrieve what you can..... documents, the precious family photos, you enter her home only to find your mother's decomposing body in her living room. You stumble out and fall to your knees in anguish asking.... "Why, How could she have been left like this?"

This would never happen in America you say? It is.

...

Yesterday CNN reported this....
You know, it's hard to imagine anything worse than coming back to your home in New Orleans and finding it completely destroyed. But, tonight, as you're about to hear, there is something worse, much worse. Dozens of families have returned to what is left of their homes and found, lying amidst the mold and the wreckage, a body, forgotten, abandoned. Maybe it's their mother or their grandmother, sometimes even their missing child.

The state called off searching house to house in New Orleans well over a month ago. They said they completed the job.
Link.

11/15/2005

By the way...

...you do realize that this man has his hands on the nuclear football, right?

How's that for a bedtime story?

A falling tide lowers all boats

The latest noise coming out of the usual GOP propaganda organs is all about how the Democrats couldn't wait to hop on board the war train back in 2002.

This means that the Republicans have accepted that the war was/is a disaster, and that the fallout is getting nasty, and they're trying to bring the Democrats down with them.

They've given up trying to sell the war to the public; now the best they can hope for is that people will blame both parties, thus obviating any political advantage the Democrats might otherwise pick up.

Inanimate objects

Click to enlarge.



Abortion myth revisited

I've already posted about this at least twice before, but the myth just refuses to die...

So once again:
Conservatives are fond of saying that if Roe were overturned, abortion would not be criminalized nationwide, but that the issue would simply become a matter for the individual states, whose legislatures could choose to allow or prohibit abortion.

This is a lie. It is also a common one, and part of a larger GOP strategy of publicly playing down the impact that O'Connor's retirement will have on abortion rights... GOP Blogger Mark Noonan writes:
You see, what upsets all conservatives - even pro-choice conservatives - about Roe is not that it legalised abortion in all 50 States, but that it usurped the powers of the States to determine such issues. I'm opposed to abortion, but I'm also very much opposed to having my rights as an American taken away from me by a few un-elected judges on the Supreme Court. Absent Roe, we would have to hard political fights in the States as each State seeks its own best route on the issue...some States would keep it legal upon demand; others would make it legal in some or most cases; a few would ban it outright.

....in the end, it would all work out in the wash. The pro-life and pro-choice GOPers would still be able to go to Washington and work together because the abortion issue would not be a national issue - it would be a State issue, where it properly belongs.
Even some Democrats seem to buy this nonsense. In the Atlantic Monthly a few months back, Ben Wittes wrote these words:
In the absence of Roe abortion rights would probably be protected by the laws of most states relatively quickly. Sure, certain state legislatures will impose restrictions that would be impermissible under the Supreme Court's current doctrine; some women might have to travel to another state to get abortions. ... In short, overturning Roe would lead to greater regional variability in the right to abortion ...
I don't know how the myth that an overturning of Roe would only have the effect of sending the issue back to state legislatures got started; without Roe, there would be nothing stopping Congress from passing a federal - nationwide - ban on abortion. Props to Atrios for pointing this out:
I've been saying this for some time, but there's no solid reason I've ever heard to believe that post-overturning Roe that abortion would become a state issue ... Whether or not a voting bloc could be maintained to outlaw abortion at the federal level is one question, but it would certainly be a political issue in federal elections.
Atrios links to Michael Dorf, who makes a similar point (emphasis mine):
In the immediate aftermath of a decision overturning Roe, the legality of abortion would be up to the states. We could expect that, in general, abortion would remain legal in clearly blue states like California and New York but would be prohibited in clearly red states like Texas and Louisiana.

But even this scenario may be unduly optimistic. Today’s Republican Party pays at most lip service to the notion of limited national power. The Justice Department was all too eager to interpret federal statutes to override Oregon’s law permitting physician aid in dying and California’s medical marijuana law. Likewise, Congress (including many Democrats) brushed aside the obvious federalism objections to its extraordinary intervention in the Terri Schiavo case.

Thus it is not alarmist to predict that within weeks -- if not days or hours -- of a Supreme Court decision overruling Roe v. Wade, Congress would enact legislation outlawing most abortions nationwide.
Whether or not a nationwide abortion ban would pass is anyone's guess. If you forced me to predict, I'd say that an absolute, outright ban might have a hard time getting through the Senate; we'd probably see something that basically eviscerated abortion rights while nominally stopping short of complete prohibition. That would be bad enough, but that's only a guess; complete prohibition could just as easily be the result.
It's also worth pointing out the Roe is the only thing standing in the way of draconian restrictions on abortion like parental and spousal consent, laws that get through the legislatures even in 'blue' states.

But most importantly, remember that a post-Roe America is one where the reproductive rights of women everywhere depend on the whims of Republican senators and representatives in D.C.

I know turtles live for a long time

But 175 years? That's a bit extravagant, I think.

Are they sure it's still alive? Turtles don't move around a lot. They should probably poke it with a stick or something to be certain.


UPDATE: Homegirl looks good for her age.

11/14/2005

Target: your sex life

Target is allowing its pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills for religious reasons, claiming that the 1964 Civil Rights Act requires them to do so.

I think I'll get a job at Target as a pharmacist, and then convert to Christian Science, and refuse to fill any prescriptions at all.

Steve Gilliard says it best: "Do your fucking job and hand out the pills."

Compensate me, dammit

Atrios:
Whether you want to support Josh Marshall's growing professional empire or provide beer/rent money to your favorite "amateur" blogger it really is a good idea to throw a little support behind your favorite bloggers now and then. While it's easy and fun to set up a blog and post about things now and then, it's much harder to stay in the game consistently longer term, and that's something which really is necessary to build up the audience/credibility which allows someone to have a larger impact. Inevitably that pulls people somewhat away from family/career/etc.

I personally probably won't be making any fundraising pitches unless either my financial situation changes or I have a grand idea for empire expansion, though I of course always appreciate the tips, but please consider donating a bit now and again to your favorite bloggers.
I'm not really set up to take money, but I'll tell you what: in lieu of a cash payment you can just buy me a gift, and then we'll be even.

No excuses now

"I personally believe very strongly [that] the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

That's one Samuel Alito , trying to establish his right-wing credentials in an application to work for the Reagan administration in 1985.

Roe v. Wade is clearly not safe with Alito on the Court, and any Democrat who supports his nomination should be tarred and feathered.

Could he have changed his mind over the course of twenty years?  Of course.  If that is the case, Alito is free to disavow his statement.  If he won't, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that his position on Roe is any different today.

But as I've pointed out before, even if we could get all the Dems to go against Alito, it wouldn't be enough.  We need some Republicans as well, which means we need the public.  This will involve a massive PR campaign to demonstrate the threat that Alito represents.  Fortunately, this is already getting started; the New York Times says that "a coalition of liberal groups is preparing a national television advertising campaign against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. that seeks to move the debate over his selection beyond abortion rights and focus instead on subjects like police searches and employment discrimination."

I don't mind not focusing on abortion, though I don't think they should shy away from it either.  It should be part of a larger, more general message, which is that Alito has demonstrated a total lack of respect for individual liberties.  This includes abortion, but it also includes your right to use contraception (I doubt that most people realize that the only thing that rules out a ban on birth control pills is a Supreme Court ruling), your right not to be strip-searched for no reason, etc. etc.

Alito should be referred to as often as possible as "Strip-search Sammy."  It's kind of stupid, but this type of thing works - when it comes to PR, Thoreau's advice is usually best: simplify, simplify.  

Defeating Alito is still a long shot, but that's no reason not to make the effort.  What do we have to lose?  (Put away any notion that fighting the Bush administration over this nomination would hurt the Democrats.  I can't believe that people still don't get this, but people want the Democrats to stand up to the GOP.)

11/13/2005

Yeah, well...

John Cole, a blogger who seems to have drunk a slightly diluted helping of right-wing Kool-aid - meaning that he parrots GOP talking points only about three-quarters of the time - has been accused of "selling out to the left" by condemning torture. Jack Grant (HT: Moderate Voice) wonders why:
Regular readers here already are aware that I agree with Cole on this particular topic. What is interesting is the response of some to any statement that torture is morally wrong. Somehow, being against the use of torture by our government is immediately associated with “selling out to the left” ... opposition to torture is apparently an attribute of "the left" according to some of his readers.
Look, I wish that opposition to torture weren't solely an attribute of the left, but it seems to have become so by default (generally speaking). Cole is the exception; the majority of conservatives react angrily when anyone suggests outlawing torture, even though we never torture anybody, and, you know, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11...

Edwards recants

...and admits that he was wrong to support the invasion of Iraq, and calls for withdrawal. The Werewolf is pleased; eRobin is finding it hard to forgive and forget.

Spreading freedom and democracy throughout the globe

From The Observer:
Guantanamo inmates to lose all rights

Human rights campaigners are calling it the 'November surprise' - a last-minute amendment smuggled into a Pentagon finance bill in the US Senate last Thursday.

Its effects are likely to be devastating: the permanent removal of almost all legal rights from 'war on terror' detainees at Guantanamo Bay and every other similar US facility on foreign or American soil.

If the amendment passes the House of Representatives unmodified, one of its immediate effects is that ... lawyers who act for Guantanamo prisoners will again be denied access, as they were for more than two years after Camp X-Ray opened in 2002.

The amendment was tabled by Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and passed by 49 votes to 42. It reverses the Supreme Court's decision in June last year which affirmed the right of detainees to bring habeas corpus petitions in American federal courts.

As a result, about 200 of Guantanamo's 500 prisoners have filed such cases, many of them arguing that they are not terrorists, as the US authorities claim, and that the evidence against them is unreliable.

None of them were given any kind of hearing when they were consigned to Guantanamo. Instead, the Americans unilaterally declared they were unlawful 'enemy combatants', mostly on the basis of assessments by junior military intelligence personnel, who were often reliant on interpreters whose skills internal Pentagon reports have criticised.

....A senior Pentagon lawyer who asked not to be named said that the Graham amendment will have another consequence. The same Pentagon bill also contains a clause, sponsored by Graham and the Arizona Republican John McCain, to outlaw torture at US detention camps - a move up to now fiercely resisted by the White House. 'If detainees can't talk to lawyers or file cases, how will anyone ever find out if they have been abused,' the lawyer said.

Most of the evidence of abuse at Guantanamo has emerged from lawyers' discussions with their clients.

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