Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Many are calling Cindy Sheehan the leader of the growing "antiwar movement." I would argue that this description is a bit misleading. Rather than antiwar per say I'd say she's more anti-Bush or even anti-neocon.

Sheehan, and most of America, would not be against this war as vehemently as they are if the blood spilled and lives lost were for a just and noble cause, but even more so if it was based on upfront honesty. Thanks to the DSMs as well as Joe Wilson, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, etc., we know this war is not like any war before it when it comes to how and why it was started.

Oh, and for those who state that King George can't meet with Sheehan because then he'll have to meet with all of the U.S. soldier widows out of fairness (?), I ask how is it he could meet with Lance Armstrong for a 2-hour bike ride and yet didn't hesitate for fear that he'd have to meet with many, many other professional athletes (you know, to be fair to them)?
In the latest issue of The New Republic, Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, a big-time ID backer, states, "All ideas that achieve a sort of uniform acceptance ultimately fall apart, whether it’s in the sciences or philosophy or politics, after a few people keep knocking away at it."

How revealing. The implication being no matter the facts, if one "knocks away at it" long enough, eventually the general public will begin to cave and give way to the side which is relentlessly battering away. This pound-into-submission tactic has been the GOP's strategy of choice for really anything, whether it be John Kerry, John McCain, global warming, Social Security, Iraq -- you name it. Spread lies, spread them again, and again, and soon enough the MSM picks up on it and helps to further spread the manure.

Also, unlike what Chapman asserts, most of the ideas and facts in science don't fall apart; rather, it's the acceptance in the public forum that begins to crack due to persistent, politically-driven attacks. As mentioned, the GOP goal is to simply instill a degree of doubt, or at the very least confusion. Like at a court trial, if a defense attorney can establish doubt at any level, he/she has won.

Those that attack science demand the impossible: 100% certitude. Has it ever been proven absolutely that smoking causes cancer? No, but science has shown there exists a very strong linkage between the two, and everyone seems to accept that less than 100% probability. Have they 100% linked air pollution to the increased rate of asthma in children? No, but they've shown a strong link. If those with an agenda don't get the beyond-doubt result that they want, they simply label it "junk science" and toss the conclusions completely.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

From Harper's Index (July):
Number of America’s nine “Founding Fathers” who denied the divinity of Jesus: 7

Number of U.S. public-school districts that have adopted a class in which the Bible is the primary textbook: 301

Tons of CO2 emissions that would be replaced each year by a proposed windmill project on Long Island: 235,000

Tons produced each year by a single jumbo jet making a round-trip trans-Atlantic flight daily: 210,000

Average percentage of the U.K. population that Britons believe to be immigrants: 21

Actual percentage: 8
Is this a sign of a strong economy?

11,000 apply for 400 openings at Walmart

And need I remind: Walmart offers low-paying jobs with poor health benefits.
Of Pandas and People is apparently the "official" go-to source for ID. To say it's receiving bad reviews from those in the scientific community is putting it lightly.

The best review I've read is by Jerry Coyne, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. Some segments:
To teach that a scientific theory is equivalent to a “guess” or a “hunch” is deeply misleading, and to assert that “evolution is a theory, not a fact” is simply false. And why should evolution, alone among scientific theories, be singled out with the caveat “This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered”? Why haven’t school boards put similar warnings in physics textbooks, noting that gravity and electrons are only theories, not facts, and should be critically considered? After all, nobody has ever seen gravity or an electron. The reason that evolution stands alone is clear: other scientific theories do not offend religious sensibilities.
Intelligent design is simply the third attempt of creationists to proselytize our children at the expense of good science and clear thinking. Having failed to ban evolution from schools, and later to get equal classroom time for scientific creationism, they have made a few adjustments designed to sneak Christian cosmogony past the First Amendment.
IDers have duped many people by further removing God from the picture, or at least hiding him behind the frame. No longer do creationists mention a deity, or even a creator, but simply a neutral-sounding “intelligent designer,” as if it were not the same thing. This designer could in principle be Brahma, or the Taoist P’an Ku, or even a space alien; but ID creationists, as will be evident to anybody who attends to all that they say, mean only one entity: the biblical God.
Jon Buell, president of the FTE, is equally frank about his goals: "We have to inundate them [the young] with a rational, defensible, well-argued Judeo-Christian world view. FTE’s carefully-researched books do just that."
Would an intelligent designer create millions of species and then make them go extinct, only to replace them with other species, repeating this process over and over again? Why did the designer give tiny, non-functional wings to kiwi birds? Or useless eyes to cave animals? Or a transitory coat of hair to a human fetus? Or an appendix, an injurious organ that just happens to resemble a vestigial version of a digestive pouch in related organisms?
It is clear, then, that intelligent design did not arise because of some long-standing problems with evolutionary theory, or because new facts have called neo-Darwinism into question. ID is here for only one reason—to act as a Trojan horse poised before the public schools: a seemingly secular vessel ready to inject its religious message into the science curriculum.The contents of Pandas, and of the other writings of IDers, are simply a cunning pedagogical ploy to circumvent legal restrictions against religious creationism.
The fear that if evolution is true, then we are no different from other animals, not the special objects of God’s creation but a contingent product of natural selection, and so we lack real purpose, and our morality is just the law of the jungle. Tom DeLay furnished a colorful example of this view on the floor of the House of Representatives on June 16, 1999. Explaining the causes of the massacre at Columbine High School, he read a sarcastic letter in a Texas newspaper that suggested that “it couldn’t have been because our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial soup of mud.”
But what about getting on with your life?

"President Bush will cut short his vacation to return to Washington on Wednesday, two days earlier than planned, to help monitor federal efforts to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina." It's OK to vacation for five weeks despite the Iraq situation going from bad to worse, then he couldn't spend one hour of his time to meet with Cindy Sheehan, but he could find time to give some fund-raising speeches, and then decides to cut his precious vacation short by two days (out of 35) so he can rush back to DC to do what again for the hurricane victims? But King GW, I thought that you could run a war from that ranch -- can't you coordinate aid to hurricane victims from there? And isn't your ranch already closer to New Orleans -- why not fly there? Why fly back to DC? Oh, that's right, like the middle-of-the-night flight for Schiavo, this makes for a wonderful political stunt. Rove never misses a trick.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Twin sons, different mothers

Recall that on August 21 I wrote, "It's one thing for somebody to say something and then to deny it later. It's quite another for a radio or TV host to say something on the air and then try to deny it later. Thanks to tape, either audio or video, documented proof exists -- there's no hope in trying to wiggle (lie) out of it. But, that's exactly what we often get with the likes of O'Reilly and Limbaugh." I neglected to mention Pat Robertson.

After stating in blatant terms that Chavez should be assassinated, a day or two later Robertson claims he was "misinterpreted." Here's his exact words regarding Chavez: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." And he says more along those lines, such as "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

What's to misinterpret? Again, who do these guys think they're going to fool when it's all on tape?? Limbaugh just attempted this maneuver last week concerning his Sheehan comments. I imagine they believe their diehard followers are just too ignorant and/or lazy to realize that they're just flat-out lying.

Also, why is it King GW says not a peep about Robertson's call for an international incident? Yet, the King will fly in the middle of the night when it concerns Schiavo, he'll feel the urgency in that case.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

  • For those r-wingnuts who don't understand the concept of averaging as it may apply to polls conducted around a similar time period, let me explain: if one poll has 36% and another has 40%, you can always average the two and arrive at 38% -- you see? All polls have a +/- degree of error anyway so they're not exact. In fact, by averaging together several polls, you will arrive at a more accurate end result (more data is involved, more various methodologies are fused, etc.).

    Of course, the r-wingnuts focus on questioning the polls themselves, attempting to instill doubt in their accuracy, but we all know 1) such polls were 100% accurate anytime (and rarely) they had bad results for Clinton, and 2) if it were Clinton right now with such bad poll numbers, the right would be out of breath repeating it. The fact is 36%, 40%, 38%, whatever, such numbers are dreadful.

    The other common refrain is, "oh yeah, well who won the election?" Gads, just moronic. I got news for you: I'm a Yankee fan and plenty of times over the last few years they won the World Series; that doesn't mean come the next season, when perhaps they were in fourth place in May, I barked at someone "oh yeah, but who won the World Series last year?" That was then, this is now, and whatever the Yankees did in that prior year is past history and means nothing now.

    And why do you think GW's poll numbers are in fact in the toilet? By simple logic it's because a large number of folks who voted for him this past November have changed their mind. In theory these poll numbers could go lower, but the reality is they'll eventually plateau at some level because there exists a large contingent of citizens who would vote for GW no matter what he did. The "Madness of King George" could devolve into him running around naked on his Crawford ranch, shooting pistols in the air and stopping to urinate on a tree, and it wouldn't matter: X% of his diehard followers will show up to vote for him. Sad but true.

  • I watched the recent Bill Maher show and he had on Cindy Sheehan. During her eloquent and intelligent replies to Bill's questions, she did mention the DSM as a reason for her outrage. As I've mentioned, the DSMs are one of a few things that have changed since Sheehan's first meeting with GW. The right refuses to mention this. If I had a son who died in Iraq, I would've already been distraught, angry, etc., but then to read the DSM and learn of what they confirm, that would've put my feelings at a whole new level.

  • Want to see two maps that look VERY similar? Go here. Note how the dots correlate with the blue areas.... Look closely.

  • I'm tired of the oil companies advertising in publications attempting to show just how environment-friendly they are -- oh really? Can they offer up some hard proof other than "soft" photos of animal and fish life? How about showing us evidence that you don't spend $$$ for lobbying against environmental regulations? One of the worst ads yet was by Shell, showing a pair of tropical fish in a crystal-clear blue ocean -- and yet the ad was about special detergents added to Shell gas to clean your engine. And what does this have to do with fish in the ocean?

  • Prediction: five years from now we will have realized that GW's "dream" for Iraq boiled down to $600 billion (to perhaps $1 trillion) of U.S. taxpayer's money spent, and the lives of 2000 (perhaps 3000 by that time) U.S. soldiers, all for an Iran-like theocracy (not democracy). As TalkLeft writes, "If our Government told you in 2003 it wanted your son to go to war in a foreign land to topple a regime and ensure that Islam had its proper place in the replacement government, what would your reaction have been?"

  • Read this and this about the Swift Boat-ish slime attacks against Sheehan. It's what they do.

  • Did you know that DisneyWorld and anywhere the Super Bowl is being played have no-fly zones in place, and yet the Indian Point nuclear facility near NYC does not?
  • Is (worse) chaos imminent? Is theocracy (vs. GW's longtime stated "democracy") inevitable?

    The much-troubled, off-and-on constitution talks in Iraq have collapsed. The LA Times writes, "Deep divisions in Iraq over the country's draft constitution carry seeds that could destroy the Bush administration's beleaguered strategy for turning the strife-torn country into a unified and stable democracy." The story mentions the administration strong-arming Iraqi officials to reach a deal, but "few who have followed the negotiations expect that it can hold."

    Duh. Force-feeding democracy -- what are the odds of it succeeding? Ever? Of course, the great neocon minds behind all of this are likely just coming around to the impending disaster. Look for them to begin covering their asses, running around frantically like that scene in "Ferris Bueller" when the school principal believes he's insulted a child's parent. In fact, when was the last time you've heard from any of these nutjobs? They've been as MIA as Cheney. That in itself is telling.

    Confirming another poll cited here, the Times article mentions the "Gallup Poll results released Friday show Bush's approval rating fell 5 points in August to 40%, the lowest since he took office." Perhaps even worse, King George is facing increasing doubts and pushback from supposed allies, such as U.S. diplomats, military officers, Pentagon officials, and Republican elected officials.

    As bad as Bush's popularity is right now, it could actually get worse over the next few months. Given the expectation that Iraq could become a horrific mess in the next several weeks, and that there's signs of the housing bubble starting to weaken, and the stock market is teetering and entering into what's historically been its worse seasonal period (September-October), and gas prices are hitting new highs at the pump -- well, Rove will have his work cut out for him (assuming he doesn't resign).

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Bob Herbert:
    This is a war fought mostly by other people's children. The loudest of the hawks are the least likely to send their sons or daughters off to Iraq.

    The president has never been clear about why we're in Iraq. There's no plan, no strategy. In one of the many tragic echoes of Vietnam, U.S. troops have been fighting hellacious battles to seize areas controlled by insurgents, only to retreat and allow the insurgents to return.
    If the war in Iraq is worth fighting - if it's a noble venture, as the hawks insist it is - then it's worth fighting with the children of the privileged classes. They should be added to the combat mix. If it's not worth their blood, then we should bring the other troops home.

    If Mr. Bush's war in Iraq is worth dying for, then the children of the privileged should be doing some of the dying.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

  • Oh look at that, tonight on Pat Robertson's "700 Club" show who do I see him interviewing. Someone religious? Nope. Instead, Edwin Meese, former US Attorney General under Reagan, and their discussion? Nope, not the Bible but rather getting Roberts to the Supreme Court. Meese himself must have uttered the phrase "left wing" about a dozen times. Then later in the program Pat is seen promoting a diet drink with his name on it. Robertson's show is about as religious-oriented as FOX News is "fair and balanced."

  • More environmental federalism. State by state, we can improve the environment despite GW's efforts to the contrary.

  • Unlike its opinion page, The Wall Street Journal can frequently get things right elsewhere in the paper. Example, with this recent fuel economy proposal, the paper's headline: "New Fuel-Economy Rules Help The Biggest Truck Makers." Calling Gregg Easterbrook....

  • With the draft of the Iraqi constitution having this, "a. No law may contradict Islamic standards. b. No law may contradict democratic standards," it drives home that first and foremost a future Iraq will apparently be a theocracy before a democracy. Ah yes, $200+ bil. and over 1800 U.S. soldiers lives for this (not counting the introduction and influx of terrorists).
  • Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    I guess Jesus whispered these words in his ear....

    Pat Robertson, host of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
  • The number of troops in Iraq has always been too low (by a few 100K), but now it's being said that "if the Army maintains the size of its force in Iraq over the next several years, it could risk a decline in the quality of the force and other severe problems." Just great....

  • Are the 20s next? "36% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 58% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 33% approve and 62% disapprove." GW continues to set records: for most vacation days and for worst poll numbers at this point for a sitting president. Hey, but he has a life to live! (the rest of us be damned)

  • Kevin Drum alerts us to the latest MWG (missing white girl) story, and of course his provided link is to Fox News, which can't seem to get enough of the Holloway/Aruba tragedy. Anything to keep the harsh light off of King George. Also, kudos to Bob Costas for at least saying enough is enough and putting his foot down.

  • I guess Frist's out-of-the-norm, brush-with-reason concerning his flip-flop on stem cell research was simply accidental. He's come out in support of the teaching of "intelligent design" in schools. Ah, now that's the religious right water carrier we all know -- for a second, he threw us for a loop.
  • A classic empty-headed statement from the right, disguised as reasonable and sensible:
    "At a difficult phase in Iraq, it is especially important that the nation have a responsible, constructive opposition. Cindy Sheehan demonstrates that the Left is still incapable of providing one." -- Rich Lowry, National Review
    It would be great if Mr. Lowry would offer an example or two of what he means by "responsible, constructive opposition." Citizens speaking out and voicing their views in a peaceful manner seems pretty darn responsible and constructive to me, and it's 100% American.

    Of course, what Lowry truly means is now that Iraq has gradually eroded from bad to worse, there should be zero opposition. The right has always had a problem with dissent when it came to King GW, attempting to label it treason, and that's exactly what irks them about Sheehan. The fact is any opposition is bad to them and Lowry's suggestion that the Left could actually offer up a good one, so to speak, is a red herring.

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    It's astounding how the graph of death below shows no evidence of a sustained flat line anywhere, meaning since the first day of the invasion until now (about 2 1/2 years), there has not been a period of reprieve, much less decline, of U.S. soldiers dying. If anything, the line in the graph slightly curves up as it ascends up, implying the rate of deaths has been accelerating.

    It's one thing for somebody to say something and then to deny it later. It's quite another for a radio or TV host to say something on the air and then try to deny it later. Thanks to tape, either audio or video, documented proof exists -- there's no hope in trying to wiggle (lie) out of it.

    But, that's exactly what we often get with the likes of O'Reilly and Limbaugh. The latest example: Limbaugh smears Cindy Sheehan by comparing her story to Bill Burkett (CBS forged documents debacle). He said on the air:
    I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.
    After receiving more hate mail than he normally does, two days later he felt compelled to "clarify" his Sheehan comments. So what does he do? What he does best -- lies. He said on air:
    Apparently, what's out there is that I said that Cindy Sheehan is no different than Bill Burkett, that Bill Burkett lied and Cindy Sheehan lied. They're actually out there, people saying that I am accusing Cindy Sheehan of making up the fact that she had a son and making up the fact that her son died in Iraq. And of course, I've never said this.
    This guy simply has to be pathological -- how else to explain this stuff? If you've ever listened to his radio show, it's easy to see how the lies slip out so frequently. He blabbers on in that pretentious staccato, fooling most of his listeners into believing that with that authoritative tone, he just HAS to know of what he speaks. But he doesn't and instead just rambles, free form ranting, working himself up into a head of steam, and before you know it -- there goes another lie. It's not like he sits there and fumbles around for proper citing for the many sources of research. Nope, he just spouts on, offering 99% opinions backed by nothing but Rush's fantasy world. It's frightening and would actually be hilarious if he didn't have so many listeners that took him seriously -- making him that much more scary.
    Like Mother, like Son.
    "But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that." -- FORMER FIRST LADY BARBARA BUSH, ABC/Good Morning America, March 18, 2003
    Now we know where King GW gets his warmth and compassion....
    This looks like a must-see program tonight (airs twice):
    Programming Note: " 'Dead Wrong' -- Inside an Intelligence Meltdown" airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on CNN.

    (CNN) -- A former top aide to Colin Powell says his involvement in the former secretary of state's presentation to the United Nations on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was "the lowest point" in his life.

    "I wish I had not been involved in it," says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime Powell adviser who served as his chief of staff from 2002 through 2005. "I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life."

    Wilkerson is one of several insiders interviewed for the CNN Presents documentary "Dead Wrong -- Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." The program, which airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET, pieces together the events leading up to the mistaken WMD intelligence that was presented to the public. A presidential commission that investigated the pre-war WMD intelligence found much of it to be "dead wrong."

    Powell's speech, delivered on February 5, 2003, made the case for the war by presenting U.S. intelligence that purported to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Wilkerson says the information in Powell's presentation initially came from a document he described as "sort of a Chinese menu" that was provided by the White House.

    "(Powell) came through the door ... and he had in his hands a sheaf of papers, and he said, 'This is what I've got to present at the United Nations according to the White House, and you need to look at it,'" Wilkerson says in the program. "It was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose."

    Wilkerson and Powell spent four days and nights in a CIA conference room with then-Director George Tenet and other top officials trying to ensure the accuracy of the presentation, Wilkerson says.

    "There was no way the Secretary of State was going to read off a script about serious matters of intelligence that could lead to war when the script was basically un-sourced," Wilkerson says.

    In one dramatic accusation in his speech, Powell showed slides alleging that Saddam had bioweapons labs mounted on trucks that would be almost impossible to find.

    "In fact, Secretary Powell was not told that one of the sources he was given as a source of this information had indeed been flagged by the Defense Intelligence Agency as a liar, a fabricator," says David Kay, who served as the CIA's chief weapons inspector in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. That source, an Iraqi defector who had never been debriefed by the CIA, was known within the intelligence community as "Curveball."

    After searching Iraq for several months across the summer of 2003, Kay began e-mailing Tenet to tell him the WMD evidence was falling apart. At one point, Wilkerson says, Tenet called Powell to tell him the claims about mobile bioweapons labs were apparently not true.

    "George actually did call the Secretary, and said, 'I'm really sorry to have to tell you. We don't believe there were any mobile labs for making biological weapons,'" Wilkerson says in the documentary. "This was the third or fourth telephone call. And I think it's fair to say the Secretary and Mr. Tenet, at that point, ceased being close. I mean, you can be sincere and you can be honest and you can believe what you're telling the Secretary. But three or four times on substantive issues like that? It's difficult to maintain any warm feelings."

    Saturday, August 20, 2005

    From Daily Kos:
    Its taken just over four years for Bush to break the vacation record it took Reagan eight years to establish.

    336 days.

    Finally, Bush has an accomplishment to his name.
    However, if GW is going crazy (literally), and he wouldn't be the first king to do so, than perhaps he needs all the R&R he can get.
    Bush is losing in Iraq, losing in the polls -- and actually losing it!
    Buy beleaguered, overworked White House aides enough drinks and they tell a sordid tale of an administration under siege, beset by bitter staff infighting and led by a man whose mood swings suggest paranoia bordering on schizophrenia.

    They describe a President whose public persona masks an angry, obscenity-spouting man who berates staff, unleashes tirades against those who disagree with him and ends meetings in the Oval Office with “get out of here!”

    In fact, George W. Bush’s mood swings have become so drastic that White House emails often contain “weather reports” to warn of the President’s demeanor. “Calm seas” means Bush is calm while “tornado alert” is a warning that he is pissed at the world.

    Decreasing job approval ratings and increased criticism within his own party drives the President’s paranoia even higher. Bush, in a meeting with senior advisors, called Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist a “god-damned traitor” for opposing him on stem-cell research.

    “There’s real concern in the West Wing that the President is losing it,” a high-level aide told me recently.

    A year ago, this web site discovered the White House physician prescribed anti-depressants for Bush. The news came after revelations that the President’s wide mood swings led some administration staffers to doubt his sanity.

    Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid meglomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities.

    “I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed,” Dr. Frank said. “He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated.”

    Dr. Frank’s conclusions have been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School. -- DOUG THOMPSON, 8/15/05

    Why, look who's at the bottom of the list.... Surprise, surprise, it's my most despised U.S. Senator, man-on-dog Santorum. The average net approval percentage for all 100 senators is +24% and Rick manages to get an abysmal -4%.

    Note that the bottom six senators are all Republicans and that of the top dozen, nine are Democrats.

    The best part about this list is if any senator symbolized how extreme and intolerant the GOP has become it would have to be Santorum. To see his net approval rating at rock-bottom is heartening. Hopefully, this country has finally snapped out of its collective coma.

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    Some more comments regarding Cindy Sheehan....

    Many on the right point to her brief meeting with Bush over a year ago. However, she has since had more time to not just grieve, but more so reflect and think with a clear head. Perhaps most importantly, she's been able to read such things as the DSMs, offering proof to long-held ugly suspicions. This war came about via lies, purposeful distortions, and prefabricated "facts" fitted to policy. She has every right to feel renewed anger since that year-ago meeting.

    Also, it's one thing for a parent to lose a child to cancer or due to a car accident. Such tragic circumstances are most often mysterious, occurring for unknown reasons. There's little anyone could've done to prevent it. Such circumstances are quite different than this Iraq war.

    Sheehan's critics are just another example of the right trying to silence anyone who dares to question -- much less denounce -- the King of America.
    "The [recent energy] bill creates a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to benefit Halliburton and other oil and gas companies. It allows oil and natural gas drilling companies to inject fluids laced with toxic chemicals and contaminants into oil and gas wells that penetrate underground aquifers, risking contamination of drinking water sources. The bill bars EPA regulation or oversight of such activities" (Source)
    In his latest column, Krugman offers up a stern and dead-serious warning: don't dare trust another thing coming from this administration. Their credibility is long dead.

    As he writes, "it's important to remember what Mr. Bush tried to get away with" and how. He mentions Bush "misrepresenting his goals.... he repeatedly lied" and GW "politicized the Social Security Administration and used taxpayer money to promote a partisan agenda." We've also seen this politicizing of government with the EPA and the CIA.

    Krugman's key point: "But the campaign for privatization provided an object lesson in how the administration sells its policies: by misrepresenting its goals, lying about the facts and abusing its control of government agencies. These were the same tactics used to sell both tax cuts and the Iraq war."

    By now, an increasing number of Americans have come around to this fact. What took them so long is unclear, but no matter, they're seeing clearly now. Folks, it's good vs. bad, plain and simple.
    From Kevin Drum:
    Atrios links to the following on-air admission from Chris Matthews:
    MATTHEWS: What I keep doing here is asking people on and off camera who come on this program, high-ranking officers, enlisted, former officers. I get sometimes, not all the time, two different versions, the version they give me on the air and the version they give me the minute when we're off the air.

    The version they give me when we're on the air is gung-ho, we're doing the right thing, everything is moving along. The version they give me off the air is, Rumsfeld is crazy. There aren't enough troops over there. We're not taking this seriously enough, or, we shouldn't be there, sometimes.
    I heard an identical story a couple of days ago. A well respected reporter who's spent a lot of time in Iraq says he'll get email all day long from the generals telling him how screwed up things are and how badly the mission is going, but when the afternoon briefing rolls around, these same guys are smiling for the cameras and telling everyone that everything is going great.
    Meanwhile, the always-trustworthy Wall Street Journal opinion page keeps putting out this nonsensical column. A featured highlight: "In sports news, the Iraqi soccer comeback continues, after a 3-2 victory over Turkmenistan in the Asian Cup." Hooray, things are getting better!
    "We are convinced that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicated that climate change is taking place and human activities play a very large role. The question is how much damage will be done before we start taking concrete action."
    -- John McCain, one of the few reality-based Republicans left in existence.
    Two other points regarding Sheehan's waiting. First, it's Bush who has created this media circus by refusing to see her. The MSM only arrived several days after his refusal. If he just met with her from the start, it would be over.

    Second, only recently has the administration lowered their expectations regarding Iraq and joined the reality-based community. Odds are if Bush was honest all along about the state of affairs with this war, he could've avoided some of the pent-up anger now seen in Sheehan and likely hundreds of other grieving wives of dead U.S. soldiers. Instead, they chose to always convey how great things were going, all the while building up the expectations of most Americans and implying a happy-ending was near and would be the final outcome.

    Again, they've recently changed their tune. But that's only because to continue with the happy-face news just wasn't flying with anyone, with many a GOP politician beginning to speak out. But also this is Bush taking a page from his campaign book. Lower the public's expectations and you benefit. He did so regarding his debate skills and it paid off. He regularly receives praise for subpar results. Bush/Rove have worked to dumb-down America to the point where we expect less, demand less, and yet hope (pray?) for more. If Beavis and Butthead were able to read aloud a complete sentence without making idiotic noises, comments, or gestures, we as a country would stand and applaud! You see how it works? The public needs to see through the BS for what it is: ineptness and failure -- period.

    However, given the duration of time we've been fed this overly-optimistic crap, and now the realization for many (who were buying it) that things have been and are pretty bad over there, I wouldn't be surprised if you begin to see the widows of other U.S. soldiers begin to speak out and organize. I'm certain this would be a Bush/Rove nightmare, but like much of the bad news facing this country, they brought it on themselves.
    James Taranto for the WSJ is at it again. This guy will search high and low, parse and twist, do whatever it takes to take any current event and cast it in a pro-right, anti-left light. Frequently, his technique is both laughable and repulsive.

    His latest target? The target du jour of many r-wingnuts: Cindy Sheehan. In a recent column, Taranto focuses on her "imploding" family, of course linking it to her politics and current actions in Crawford. How does he or anyone know what's the cause of the marital difficulties? Why must it be tied to her dislike for Bush? In fact, there are reports that her marriage was in trouble long before this recent public appearance.

    She says, "we [her husband] grieved in totally different ways." Has anyone seen the movie "Ordinary People"? In it, Mary Tyler Moore plays a mother who loses a son and she grieves via denial and withdrawing from life. Donald Sutherland plays the father and he grieves via reaching out and wanting to discuss the awful event and find proper closure. They end up separating. It's very common for marriages to dissolve after such a tragedy. (Note many couples have gone through similar such troubles as a result of 9/11). The Sheehans could just be another one of those very common separations.

    But what does her personal life have to do with anything concerning what she's doing now in Texas? To me, it's just another thing that's changed since her initial meeting with GW over a year ago. By the way, why isn't Hannity & Colmes et al delving into the personal life of the Holloways?

    In transcripts, Sheehan has said many things, most of it being hard-hitting truths. She says, "Thank God for the Internet, or we wouldn't know anything." Without blogs, would the DSMs have ever received the attention they deserved? Doubt it. She writes, "the mainstream media is a propaganda tool for the government." Here she has proof, Gannon among others, journalists paid to spread GW's "good" word. She also discusses how we were not attacked by Iraq [on 9/11] and that if she had known her son would be going to fight in a "neo-con agenda" war, trumped up by lies and deception (that we've come to learn about since her first meeting with Bush), she "would have taken him to Canada."

    Admittedly, she does throw around hyperbole in her statements, harshly criticizing America, Israel, etc. But she's angry!! Can you blame her? Put yourself in her shoes, losing a child in Iraq -- a debacle made possible by lies and trickery. And it wasn't even the country that attacked us! They had no WMDs (again, the trumped up intel) and never had Al Qaeda -- till now. Sheehan wouldn't likely be anywhere near as angry if her son was killed in Afghanistan, searching for the true 9/11 killer, Osama.

    With Bush's record-breaking five-week trek to Crawford -- at a time when the Iraq mess is worse than ever, Taranto simply describes it as "the annual sojourn to Crawford." He writes not one word of criticism about this extremely ill-advised long "sojourn." Nope, as usual, he blesses everything GW does, everything.

    In his last paragraph, he writes about how Sheehan is being used as a symbol and not cared for as a human being. Just another instance of the incredible hypocrisy from the right. I seem to recall the GOP using someone by the name of Schiavo as a political symbol and football. And I also recall that when the public poll numbers came out strongly against what the Republicans were trying to do in that ploy, the GOP quickly backed away and distanced themselves from the whole story -- proof that they didn't give a hoot about Schiavo as a human being. Her political purpose was suddenly no longer needed (beneficial). Meanwhile, Sheehan is a non-vegetative human who is angry, grieving, feeling pain.

    Taranto calls Sheehan, a grieving mother, a "crackpot." There's no better word to describe Taranto. He's as nutty and off-his-rocker as Novak.

    UPDATE: Two other terrific items related to this Sheehan story, here and here. Please read this last item by E.L. Doctorow -- he beautifully sums up all you need to know about America's first king.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    The Bush administration is expected to abandon a proposal to extend fuel economy regulations to include Hummer H2's and other huge sport utility vehicles, auto industry and other officials say.

    The proposal was among a number of potential strategies outlined by the administration in 2003 to overhaul mileage requirements for light trucks - sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and minivans. It had been seen by industry officials as likely to be adopted.

    But the impact of the tougher requirements would have been borne almost solely by the increasingly troubled domestic auto industry, a concern for the administration.
    [NY Times]
    A big reason the U.S. auto companies are in trouble right now is because they put all their eggs in one basket by producing such large, gas-guzzling vehicles and becoming overly dependent on these sales for profits. It figures that Honda and Toyota were the first to offer hybrid vehicles and now, thanks to staggering demand, can't produce enough of them. And only now are U.S. counterparts manufacturing hybrids -- but they're always slow to innovate and anticipate trends. Is this the kind of corporate management that Adam Smith would've endorsed coddling?

    So at the expense of conservation and the environment, GW Inc. decides to protect (that's right, protect -- like the liberals were always accused of doing) the auto companies. Not that GW gives a sh*t about the many laid-off auto workers but rather is offering payback to three huge campaign contributors. Also, notice that industry officials had expected passage of this proposal; it was a done-deal until GW stepped in and once again tossed big industry a bone -- an out-of-the-blue gift.

    He can be just so damn compassionate, can't he?
    We glibly call out religious fanaticism from abroad. President Bush warns us how ''small groups of fanatics or failing states could gain the power to threaten great nations, threaten the world peace. America and the entire civilized world will face this threat for decades to come.'' Bush is of course silent on the religious fanatics he is indebted to, who are on the verge of helping him change America for decades to come.

    Last weekend, leaders of the Christian right held ''Justice Sunday II,'' a mega-church telecast. Speaker after speaker attacked the Supreme Court. It is not enough for them that Bush's conservative choices for lower courts are being approved. It is not enough that the high court, under Chief Justice William Rehnquist, has generally become more conservative over the last quarter century and played a key final role in Bush gaining office in the disputed 2000 election.

    No, even with a court that can hardly be described as liberal, Justice Sunday was a crazed attack on the court.
    Read the rest of Derrick Jackson's column.
    "Should I stay or should I go now...." Yup, this administration is coming apart at the seams with regards to the handling of Iraq. First, there's confusion on what they'll rename the trumped-up Iraq debacle ("WOT" or "GSAVE"??). Then there's confusion about troop withdrawal. And now we hear of their confessions that indeed Iraq is a mess and that what they "expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable."

    Recall it was not too long ago that anybody making such statements was viewed as a lefty, anti-U.S. traitor. Also recall it was not too long ago (try June) that "MIA" Cheney made his infamous "last throes" comment. Will a reporter get the chance to ask him what changed in less than three months?
    Bizzaro world of the GOP.

    Sunday, August 14, 2005

    Typical great column from Jonathan Chait (LA Times). An excerpt:
    Despite all this, conservative groups such as James Dobson's Focus on the Family continue to staunchly back Roberts. It's hard to convey just how weird that is, given the radicalism of Dobson's views on social issues in general and gay rights in particular.

    How far out is Dobson? He disseminated a guide in one of his 2002 newsletters on how a father can prevent his son from turning gay. The advice included roughhousing with him, teaching him to throw and catch, showing him how "to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard" (No, I didn't understand that one either), capped off with this: "He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger."

    The point here is that Dobson is not merely conservative, he's certifiable. And, needless to say, he's not a big fan of Romer vs. Evans. Yet now Dobson is working to put one of the lawyers who gave his time to the gay-rights cause — for free! — on the Supreme Court.

    To be sure, Roberts is probably a bit to the right of O'Connor. But Bush could easily have appointed a justice who's more than a bit to the right of O'Connor. Wing nuts such as William Pryor and Janice Rogers Brown had already won majority support for lower positions, and Bush could have gotten them on the high court with minimal effort. But Bush reserves his political capital for unpopular right-wing economic policies. He almost never expends it on social issues. Why should he, when pliant social conservatives will flock to the polls for the GOP regardless?

    A Washington Post reporter once called religious conservatives "disproportionately poor, uneducated, and easy to command," a line for which he has since apologized and which has been cited endlessly as an example of the media's anti-religious bias.

    I'm not sure about poor and uneducated, but the "easy to command" part seems pretty dead on.
    For sure, Dobson is, as Chait describes, "certifiable." Take your son into the shower, show him your penis, and presto magico, you won't have a gay son -- are you kidding me? The sad thing is I've witnessed fathers who appear to get a bit too rough with their young sons, wanting to instill fratguy-ish behaviorisms by playing extra macho and shunning any interest shown in kitchen utensils, dancing, etc.

    But Dobson's rubber-stamping of Roberts is just another instance of partisan/political interests trumping no-compromise convictions and moral stands. Like Falwell, Dobson is first and foremost a GOP tool -- far more so than a true believer in anything he espouses.

    My favorite example of this truism: in PA last year, Santorum and Bush endorsing pro-choice Specter over pro-life Toomey. But as Chait correctly describes, many in the GOP's supposed big tent are "easy to command," i.e. they don't think or question but rather simply follow. What a luxury for an incompetent emperor like King George.

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    'Vanity Fair' Rips Media 'Conspiracy' in Covering Up Role in Plame Scandal
    In an article in the September issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Wolff, in probing the Plame/CIA leak scandal, rips those in the news media -- principally Time magazine and The New York Times -- who knew that Karl Rove was one of the leakers but refused to expose what would have been “one of the biggest stories of the Bush years.” Not only that, “they helped cover it up.” You might say, he adds, they “became part of a conspiracy.”

    If they had burned this unworthy source and exposed his “crime,” he adds, it would have been “of such consequences that it might, reasonably, have presaged the defeat of the president, might have even -- to be slightly melodramatic -- altered the course of the war in Iraq.” In doing so they showed they owed their greatest allegiance to the source, not their readers.
    According to state law, don't psychiatrists have to report patients who speak of crimes? But if Time and the NY Times caved and turned in their source(s), could this have set a precedent of many fewer such sources coming forward in the future, thus allowing perhaps more criminal acts to go unnoticed?

    One thing is for sure: don't EVER again allow a r-winger to get away with saying the NY Times is "pinko" liberal. Does it lean left? Duh. But has it shown repeatedly the willingness to help out the right-wing (in a big way I might add)? Absolutely. You have this act above contributing to the start of the Iraq invasion, but you also have their frequent and persistent Whitewater trash stories that plagued the Clintons for years (all amounting to zero).

    Where's the equivalent on FOX News, the NY Post, Washington Times, etc.?

    A huge Homer Simpson moment for the Michael Crichton global-warming-is-hooey crowd. These folks who have repeatedly advocated climate change is bunk and needs more scientific proof received a fatal blow to their already-flimsy armor.

    A study they've often cited in hopes of disproving the hundreds of other studies which show the opposite has recently been proven to be in err. (Note in the story the petro-backed fellow, Herlong, conveniently "declined to comment" -- this revealing silence despite the scientist who led the flawed study graciously stating, "Our hats are off to (them). They found a real source of error.")

    Guess the energy-funded scientists will simply have to uncover some other (flawed) study to use as a go-to propaganda device.

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Eric Umansky makes a good point when he writes, "the Washington Post's Walter Pincus seems to suggest, obliquely, that White House officials did originally learn about outed CIA agent Valerie Plame via a State Department memo that had been labeled "secret" rather than through journalists, as some recollections had it." Another lie in this Rove/Plame scandal?

    Oh, and before I forget, a hugely worrisome and significant news item regarding global warming:
    The world's largest frozen peat bog is melting, which could speed the rate of global warming, New Scientist reports. The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago. The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear. The situation is an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming," researcher Sergei Kirpotin, of Tomsk State University, Russia, told New Scientist magazine. The whole western Siberian sub-Arctic region has started to thaw, he added, and this "has all happened in the last three or four years".
    Ahh, who cares, right? "Don't worry, be happy...."
    What is the deal with the obvious confusion concerning how GW & Co. want to approach their Iraq debacle? First they try to make official one of their Orwellian word-play phrases, switching out "war on terror" for "global struggle against violent extremism" or GSAVE. However, Bush himself didn't go along with that change (doh!). GW just being his usual dopey self, or willful and knowing resistance....?

    Then we have news that some troops will be withdrawn from Iraq next year, just in time to win over voters before the November election. But now we hear some military officials playing this possibility down. Well, which is it? Sounds like military strategy is butting heads with political / election year strategy -- how wonderful. Glad to see our soldiers are being used (again), this time as chess pieces. And where's Karl Rove to coordinate this mess -- could he be scrambling, occupied with other things?

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    The most recent column by David Brooks was another adventure into how David's brain works more than anything else. Like GW, he very much has the mind of a young child trapped within a grown man's body.

    To explain the drop in crime and violence over the last fifteen or so years, Brooks offers up wistful explanations that woefully lack any proof or evidence. Again like Bush, he simply chooses to believe a pretty picture, much of it manufactured in his own cranium with no outside help or influence.

    His assertions for why the decrease in crime/violence are: 1) "people have stopped believing in stupid ideas," 2) "many Americans have become better parents," 3) "the younger generation, under age 30 or so, are reacting against the culture of divorce," and 4) "over the past few decades, neighborhood and charitable groups have emerged to help people."

    I kid you not. The NY Times has a columnist who wrote such "weighty" prose. Gads.

    Steven Levitt, an economics professor at the esteemed Univ. of Chicago, proposes a set of four different reasons for the drop in violence and crime over this time period. I would first point out that 1) the Univ. of Chicago is known for producing conservative economists, and 2) take a look at Levitt's CV -- quite impressive, to say the least (many say he's on the Nobel track). Note also that in his recent book, Freakonomics, he performed extensive research and tests to arrive at his conclusions (as compared to Brooks' warm-and-fuzzy guesswork).

    Levitt's first reason is the bursting of the crack bubble. This occurred during the 1990s (with Clinton in the White House), with the profits for selling crack plummeting. His second reason: in the '90s (again, Clinton's years), more people were put in jail. Third reason: the number of police on the streets during the '90s increased -- due to legislation passed by Clinton.

    Levitt's fourth factor, and likely most controversial, is legalized abortion. Levitt states that at the start of the 1990s, we saw a direct effect resulting from Roe v. Wade, namely the absence of teenagers who would've been born into unhealthy or dysfunctional, or perhaps even abusive, homes, an environment that frequently shapes criminals-to-be. Levitt presents extensive evidence supporting his claims. In fact, he shows that crime and violence dropped first in those five states which legalized abortion two years prior to Roe v. Wade.

    Levitt's book has been a bestseller and his ideas concerning the drop in crime have been fairly well-circulated. Why is it the case that Brooks had no clue about Levitt's work? Is it simply easier to drum up reasons off the top of one's head? Yes, perhaps so, but the NY Times should demand and expect more and yet Brooks regularly lets them down.
    The Washington Examiner presents an article about "intelligent design," written by Robert Vanasse. The key sentence: "Discussion of varying views of the creator, or the 'intelligent designer,' belongs in the humanities, not in sciences classes."

    ID should be (if at all) debated in philosophy classes and the like, with students questioning and wondering aloud, in search of answers to questions which very often have no answers. Science is based on facts and those things that can be proven. Alas, ID, by definition, does not fall under this category and therefore should not be taught in the same realm as science.

    Assuming those who advocate ID are generally religious minded and Bible followers, then how can they endorse ID as a means to explaining evolution when in fact Genesis portrays no evolution of any sort, but rather Adam, Eve, the Garden of Eden, etc.? According to Genesis, there never was a Cromagnum man or a Mesopotamia, so which is it then? They seem to want evolution explained AND Adam & Eve -- can't have it both ways. (But then this is an argument of logic, i.e. for a humanities class).

    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    Look who agrees with me (and John Fund, ugh):
    Among the documents produced so far was a curiosity -- a memo by the young [John] Roberts arguing against lifetime appointments for the federal judiciary, coming to light more than two decades later as he now holds one such lifetime post as a federal appeals judge and hopes to hold another on the high court.

    Roberts wrote in a memo on Oct. 3, 1983, to White House counsel Fred F. Fielding that the Constitution "adopted life tenure at a time when people simply did not live as long as they do now," and he argued that limiting the terms of federal judges would ensure a fresh supply of talent and guard against "ivory tower" elitism, according to an Associated Press report.
    Well, at least I know he's capable of refreshing reason and sober logic.
    Compare the following to the informed opinion (wink wink) of the WSJ opinion page (which I wrote about yesterday):
    Osama bin Laden Looks Like Heading for Iraq

    Coded electronic signals bandied in recent days among al Qaeda Middle Eastern elements across secret Internet sites all carry the same message: the supreme leader, Osama bin Laden, has come out of hiding in Afghanistan and set out, or is about to set out, for Iraq.
    Some of the signals schedule his date of arrival as the second half of September when Ramadan is estimated to begin. His arrival in Iraq is planned to signal the launching of the biggest offensive his organization has ever launched against the US army. If these signals are a true representation of bin Laden’s plans and not a red herring, what is planned is a dramatic landmark battle in the global war on terror and the Iraqi conflict.
    Zarqawi argued the importance of his transferring from Afghanistan to Iraq on two grounds: to boost al Qaeda’s standing as it embarks on an “offensive whose scale and importance rival the September 2001 operation.” and in the interests of his own personal safety.

    Zarqawi stressed, according to our sources, that bin Laden will be safer in Iraq than in Afghanistan
    If he does indeed make it to Iraq, the public airing of his presence in the Land of the Two Rivers, would have a radical impact on the nature of the Iraq conflict. No longer a mere guerrilla campaign, it would escalate to a full-scale fight to the finish against al Qaeda in Iraq, analogous to the all-out hostilities in Afghanistan.

    Bin Laden’s organization has begun referring to the Iraq conflict in these ultimate terms. [source:]

    This morning, Howard Stern was discussing an article in the NY Times that reported about the extremely high levels of mercury in the air and water of New York. Howard was astonished to learn that the NYC water is not filtered and that the levels of mercury were in fact so high. As the researcher, David Evers, profiled in the article states, "It's far more extensive than was ever put forth to the public."

    Stern rightly points out that Bush reversed many of the anti-pollution measures that were in place during the Clinton presidency. It's astonishing how many Americans continue to be shocked and surprised to learn of the increasing incidence of pollution and that their current sitting president works to allow for more pollution to occur.

    I ask, given it's small children and unborn fetuses that are most at risk with regards to high mercury levels, where is the pro-life contingent to protest this harmful state of affairs? Oh, that's right, they're all about sanctimonious thinking and partisan side-taking -- not science and the facts, and genuine concern. My bad.

    Monday, August 08, 2005

    In describing what it calls "a great democratic experiment," today's WSJ editorial -- always an adventure in fantastic "reason" -- states, "the Iraqis are where we want them to be: divided on critical matters of politics and faith."

    Uh, OK, so it's a good thing over 1800 U.S. soldiers are dead so that we can "experiment" and we should applaud the fact Iraqis are at odds with each other. Come again....? The editorial goes on to guess that "the odds are still very good" that the country won't succumb to civil war.

    Meanwhile, John Burns, "a veteran reporter who’s been in Baghdad since well before the invasion, and whose reporting has been widely acclaimed for its accuracy and balance," portrays quite a different picture. He has written that civil war in Iraq may have already started and that U.S. troops could get caught-up in the crossfire. In addition, our new ambassador to Iraq (Khalilzad) has stated the insurgents want civil war.

    Which portrayal are you going to believe? I'm certainly not going with the nearly laughable Journal opinion page, which seems to have authors that are living on another planet. Their credibility has long been a lost cause.
    On August 2nd, The National Academy of Sciences made an objection to the inclusion of Intelligent Design into school curriculum and O'Reilly called them fascist.

    The next day, the presumably non-fascist O'Reilly had this to say about the Gitmo prisoners: "I don’t give them any protection. I don’t feel sorry for them. In fact, I probably would have ordered their execution if I had the power."

    Sunday, August 07, 2005

    John Fund recently wrote a column endorsing term limits for Supreme Court justices. Fund is typically a predictable dullard and partisan hack when it comes to conveying opinions, lacking any sensible reasoning. So why his sudden lurch to favoring what appears to be a progressive solution, one that makes terrific sense?

    I agree with his suggestion that Supreme Court terms should not be for life. With "life" these days equating to 80+ years, and the body very often outlasting the mind, this Constitutional provision -- like many others -- has become antiquated and is no longer valid in our more modern age. Also, political pressure has increased to the point where justices are influenced into staying on beyond a period of time of their choosing. And as Fund points out, it's this "for life" aspect that raises the stakes in the confirmation hearings and greatly contributes to the entire process spinning out of control.

    How about twelve years (presidential term X 3) and then Congress reconsiders for another twelve?

    However, I remain suspicious as to why Fund would propose a revision to the Constitution. It is just so out of character for a loyal water carrier to the staunchly conservative side. Could it be Fund does indeed lose sleep over the fact that Roberts could eventually drift towards moderation -- as Souter did? And that this drift appears to be well-founded (see Slate article)? Perhaps.

    But for too long, conservatives have treated the Constitution with excessive sanctity. They treat this piece of paper with almost insane reverence, as if every word written on it over 200+ years ago has 100% relevance today. For those of us in the fact-based community, that's simply impossible.

    Don't get me wrong. The ideas, principles, and spirit of the document are wonderful and essential to our success as a country. Yet, time does not stand still and we as a people and nation progress -- at an accelerating pace I would add. Thus, it only makes sense that certain aspects or passages of the Constitution become dated. In fact, if the Framers were alive today, it would not surprise me if they'd scold us for not modifying at least some of it! Unlike many right-wingers will have us believe, most Framers were progressive in their thinking and looked forward, not back. (The fact that they broke from England and wanted to establish a new way of living sounds pretty damn progressive to me!).

    Some examples off the top of my head that need revision include the gun laws and the Electoral College. Regarding the latter, with this latest abomination -- the energy bill -- we can witness some of the legacy of the EC "protections." Yes, we all know pork spending projects are bad, but take a look at the more egregious examples in this bill. An expensive bridge being built for a population of 2000 some odd citizens? Would it have been as bad if the "pork" bridge was built across the Hudson River, connecting NJ with NYC and providing another means for millions of commuters to earn a living?

    I would love to see a pork per capita metric whereby dollars involved was divided by the number of citizens the given project benefits. I'd be willing to wager a great number of the hundreds of thousands of pork projects over the last few decades are things that besides being pointless ventures, benefited a certain small number of people. By insuring the representation of less-populated states, the EC/Senate structure has for too long "over-represented" the folks in such states as Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska, and "under-represented" citizens in more densely populated states.

    Again, the larger point here is that progressive thinking and the willingness to change and adapt with the times (i.e. being proactive) should not be a taboo concept. Instead and more so, it's completely and utterly American.
    Just How Non-Liberal is John Roberts?

    Well, let's take a look at some items (via
    ABORTION: Wife is strongly pro-life, Finds no support for abortion rights in Constitution, Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, Prohibit family-planning programs from giving abortion info, OK for Operation Rescue to target abortion clinics, Roe v. Wade is settled law, Doctors who get federal fund may not mention abortion, Limit funding for abortion clinics. (Well, his position on choice seems fairly definitive, esp. since despite his attempts to evade, he is a prominent member of the Federalist Society, which is against choice).

    CIVIL RIGHTS: No paper trail as a judge on gay rights issues (however, word is out he did some pro bono work in favor of a gay rights group; note that like Bolton, Roberts did not list this work on Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire (that asked for examples of his pro bono work); another case of "I forgot."), OK for religious groups to meet at schools, Opposed simplifying complaints against voting rights, Against Affirmative Action, Weaken the separation of church and state. (The fact he left the pro-gay rights pro bono work off the Senate questionnaire is telling. Combine that with his opposition to simplifying complaints re voter rights (!!) and I think you get the picture.)

    CORPORATE INTERESTS: Whistleblowers can be fired for cause, and the following is all you need to know: "'If business had serious objections to him, he wouldn't have been nominated,' said Greg Valliere, political economist with Stanford Washington Research Group. In fact, the Bush administration reportedly did go over its potential nominees with business groups...."

    CRIME: OK to prosecute for eating french fries on city trains. (The Senate should ask him 1) his opinions on how he would rule if the Plame/Rove case ever got to him as a judge, and 2) what his opinions are on the various white collar crimes we've seen over the last few years.)

    DRUGS: OK to search cars without particular evidence in mind. (Hmm, no privacy concerns or rights violation concerns there -- jives with Fed. Society's belief that women don't have a right to privacy when it comes to choice re abortion. Oh, but Roberts ruled Cheney had a "right to privacy" when it came to keeping that list of energy companies secret....).

    ENVIRONMENT: Allow development despite local endangered species, No lawsuits to prevent mining on federal land, Species within one state not protected by federal law. (Not much to go on but look, GW chose him -- nuf said.)

    WAR: As student during Vietnam, disturbed by anti-war protests.
    As we know, many subject headings not shown above remain blank, or big question marks, and this mystery is by design. GW/Rove did not want to select someone with a well-defined paper trail of partisan bias. Rather, they came up with a stealth candidate that off-the-record had the make-up and positions they were looking for without the on-record baggage.

    Could Roberts be another Souter in waiting? Perhaps, but make no mistake: thanks to Souter, this administration will make darn certain that their choice will not over time drift towards judicial reason and sanity and a desire for fairness.

    Friday, August 05, 2005

  • "I see your true colors shining through...." Bob Novak was on CNN with James Carville and abruptly cursed and walked off the set. If you watch the video, you'll hear the anchor refer that Novak (conveniently) walked off just before they were scheduled to talk about the Plame case. It's obvious Carville can barely take Novak seriously, cracking up, chiding him. And who can blame Carville? This right-wing crank has shown signs for years that he's not exactly the most "stable" person and anyone who trusts or even quotes what he has to say about anything should -- as he should -- have their head examined.

  • "You can't handle the truth...." It took a lawsuit to force the Pentagon to show pictures of our dead U.S. soldiers. Just despicable.

  • Anything exposing Rick Santorum for what he is, namely a political creep masquerading as a religious zealot, is all good.

  • "Bush Rejects Reason Itself" Excellent column in the LA Times by Jonathan Chait. As I wrote a few days ago, Chait comments on GW's refusal to accept facts in the case of Palmeiro -- to name just one of MANY instances. Whereas Clinton's behavior with Monica was strongly criticized for "what the kids would think," no one says a word about the danger of Bush's behavior when it comes to our kids. GW makes it seem OK to just believe what you want to believe no matter what the facts may say. Bush lives in his own private Idaho -- he's our Walter Mitty, and yet he's in charge of this country!

    If Bush believed in a flat Earth, his supporters would applaud his "conviction" in the absurd notion. Sadly, it's how many in this country have devolved, where dumbing things down is embraced as they refuse to say the emperor has no brain.
  • Thursday, August 04, 2005

    Feeding The Nutjobs

    From July 25th's The New Republic:
    The power belongs to the Republicans. But with power comes the inebriation of it, and the misuse of it, and the sanctification of it—and the Republicans under Bush are not displaying any special immunity to these errors.
    The conservative frenzy that followed O’Connor’s resignation is a troubling sign—troubling for liberals, obviously, but troubling also for the many conservatives who have not yet taken leave of their senses.
    The many elements of contemporary conservatism no longer comport so easily with one another, except in their loathing of liberalism. The president’s own philosophy is increasingly inconsistent and situationist: Whatever one thinks about the war in Iraq, it was not the Burkean thing to do; whatever one thinks about the pharaonic deficit, it is not what Ronald Reagan had in mind; whatever one thinks about gay marriage, forbidding it is not the libertarian way; and so on.
    The president enjoys the idea of himself as a radical, and he has himself to blame if he is finding more and more radicalism on the right. The wink at extremism may have been useful electorally, but the election is over. And, with sanctimonious stunts like flying to Washington in the middle of the night to intervene in Terri Schiavo’s destiny, Bush feeds the beast; and the beast is panicked and ravenous.
    For these people, it is not enough that they control two branches of the federal government. They want them all. There remains the problem of the third branch, and its outrageous refusal to conform to their doctrines and their superstitions. Why should Truth have time for the separation of powers? These conservatives, many of them militant Christians, harbor a particular hatred for the judiciary, about which they often speak with rhetorical violence. The stronger they get, the weaker they feel. Spiritually, they are always victims. Never mind that almost every significant judicial victory for liberalism is steadily and skillfully turned into a significant political victory for conservatism. Consider only the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Kelo v. New London, the takings case in Connecticut. From the wild discussion of the case in the press, you would think that the Supreme Court had restored the Courts of Star Chamber and abolished private property in America. In fact, the ruling was a reasonable interpretation of the Fifth Amendment that is supported by a tradition of jurisprudence. But “eminent domain” has now become a potent right-wing curse, like “gun control” and “choice.” Laws are being drafted in various legislatures to put an end to this new affront to liberty. The fever runs higher and higher.
    Yup, their thirst is endless. Like the zombies in "Dawn Of The Dead," they just keep coming, mindless and starved, constantly needing more. Power is addictive and what we have here is the right-wing hooked on the stuff. They've become a bunch of nonsensical, clamoring, Machiavellian, lusting creatures -- who are (thankfully) beginning to eat their own.

    As TNR states, Bush has only himself (and Rove) to blame.
  • Rove & Libby, now Rafael, many of GW's pals are being investigated for perjury. Georgie knows how to pick his buddies!

  • These guys have used the Orwellian tactic of using certain words / phrases to hide the true meaning of something so much that now they can't even get their story straight. Well, are they going to use GSAVE ("global struggle against violent extremism") or are they going to stick with TGWOT ("the global war on terror")?? C'mon guys, many of us need to know what the war in Iraq is being called lately, so we know what to believe and all.

  • This post, though a bit heavy-handed, brings up several thoughtful points.

  • Rove continues to get into deeper goo. Poor guy.

  • As I've said many times before, when the news is filled with not-so-good stuff about GW & Co., the Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys, and Bill Bennetts of the airwaves choose to talk about really meaningful things that are truly affecting our country -- like teen abstinence or violence in video games. Here's a perfect example.

  • Heck, Reagan's looking like a sensible moderate at this point!
  • Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a Bolton supporter, had this to say if Bush went ahead with a recess appointment: it "would weaken not only Mr. Bolton but also the United States." Lovely.

    Meanwhile, Kofi Annan said, "I think it is all right for one ambassador to come and push, but an ambassador always has to remember that there are 190 others who will have to be convinced—or a vast majority of them—for action to take place." I believe Annan is offering a subtle warning that confirms what I wrote yesterday: "Just how seriously will Bolton be taken, with UN member countries fully aware that this guy is damaged goods and a 100% beneficiary of partisan favor? They're not stupid and they'll look for any chance they can to embarrass Bolton and make him a complete liability for the U.S. You dumb-ass Rush wingnuts who think he's going to "shake up the joint" and "kick some UN arse" have another thing coming."

    And these same wingnuts just keep proclaiming that Bush was forced into this recess appointment because the Dems stopped an up/down vote. All those who have a clue know that the reason a vote did not come was because the White House refused to produce some documents on Bolton that were requested for review. Plain and simple. GW/Rove decided it was best to 1) not produce the most-likely very damaging documents and instead 2) recess appoint and tag the excuse for such on the "blocking" Dems. The wingnuts are fools (as usual) to believe otherwise.

    Oh, and Bolton is on record opposing the "'right of humanitarian intervention' to justify military operations to prevent ethnic cleansing or potential genocide." Then shouldn't big-mouth Bolton have been emphatically criticizing this administration for what they eventually claimed was the purpose of the Iraq invasion (once the WMD thing didn't pan out)?
    Birds of a feather....

    This Palmeiro/Bush story would be absolutely astonishing if it wasn't for the small fact that Bush was involved. Palmeiro swore that he "never used steroids, period," shaking his finger at elected officials while saying it. Recall that in Jose Conseco's tell-all book, he mentions Palmeiro as someone he shot with steroids. Now Palmeiro has clarified his on-record statement by claiming he never "intentionally" used steroids. (I guess we're expected to believe that Conseco held him down and forced the illegal drug into Palmeiro's body).

    Hmm, sounds very similar to a certain man in the White House who first said he'd remove anyone "involved" in the Plame leak only to recently change it to a crime must have been committed.

    Better yet, Bush has recently come out and said that Palmeiro "is a friend. He testified in public and I believe him. He's the kind of person that's going to stand up in front of the klieg lights and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him. Still do." As Kevin Drum wrote, "It's like listening to a small child. He doesn't want to believe it, so it isn't true. This is the man currently running our country."

    Again, it would normally be astounding to have a U.S. president go on record and state in effect that he didn't believe MLB's drug test results. A smart president would've either been non-committal (which we've seen Bush do many times before on matters where he actually should have taken a side) or weighed in on the side of the hard evidence (resulting in Palmeiro's suspension). Nope, not George. He's going to publicly side with by-all-accounts the person who's lying, or at the very least appears to be very deceptive.

    Given the cast of characters that surrounds GW (Cheney, DeLay, Rove, Bolton, Rumsfeld, etc.), it's not astounding that Bush sides with the slippery Palmeiro. In fact, it makes (sick, twisted) sense.
    Several days ago, I wrote the following regarding Roberts and the Supreme Court "fight":
    The Dems have shown they don't have the stomach for a fight and there upcoming "resistance" will be all bluster and for the cameras. They will NOT go to the mat so just get it over with and refocus attention to all of the other GOP sh*t that's piling up. Ironically, Rove/Bush are likely praying that the Dems will engage in a protracted ugly fight so that it will continue to run the clock on delaying media attention spent on Rove's Plame mess.

    Yes, it's disturbing that Roberts is fairly young and that we'll have to live with his decisions for a few decades. But in reality (reminder: we're reality-based), who did we think we were going to get, another Ginsburg? Or even a Souter? This entire SCOTUS process is a lost cause (almost as if the Dems knew as much when agreeing to the idiotic Catch-22 filibuster agreement). No, the REAL fight, one that can be won, is regarding the ever-growing mountain of sleaze, lies, deception, and slime (Rove, DeLay, DSM, Iraq debacle, environmental policy doctoring, etc.). This SCOTUS fight can't possibly be won so like a smart general would do, proper strategic decisions need to be made to channel the resources and attention to the right battles, the ones that with proper execution can expose the GOP's Achilles heel for the fatal blow.
    Whelp, Diane Feinstein didn't waste any time proving my point. The Dems ain't gonna fight -- no surprise. With that fact well understood, they at least best get their butts back to pressing the DSM and Rove/Plame scandals, else lose any media momentum that remains. It won't take much to have the MSM switch full attention to the tragic story of the moment (Natalee Holloway / Aruba).

    Monday, August 01, 2005

  • As rumored, King George appoints (The Dolt) Bolton, doing so when all have left town, sneaking him in the only way possible despite the GOP controlling all branches of Congress. Quite pathetic and truly a testament to the degree to which Bolton was disliked and found to be unqualified.

    Bush said that Bolton's nomination had been supported by a majority of the Senate but that "because of partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators, John was unfairly denied the up-or-down vote that he deserves." Ah, the lies never stop. Guess that "majority" would be missing several Republicans. Also, 36 senators wrote a letter to GW stating Bolton lied when testifying and should not be appointed. But apparently 36% of the Senate equates to "a handful" to brilliant King George.

    Oh, and I thought GW would at least wait until late Friday to appoint him, doing the dirty work at the pre-weekend, slow news period. That he didn't speaks volumes about his arrogance.

    Also, just how seriously will Bolton be taken, with UN member countries fully aware that this guy is damaged goods and a 100% beneficiary of partisan favor? They're not stupid and they'll look for any chance they can to embarrass Bolton and make him a complete liability for the U.S. You dumb-ass Rush wingnuts who think he's going to "shake up the joint" and "kick some UN arse" have another thing coming.

  • Krugman pens one of his best columns yet. Must-read.

  • Read this story to see what could happen to our Social Security system if GW has his way.

  • More news about how the burden of fighting for the environment is falling on individual states, given how GW has systematically repealed many protective regulations in the name of corporate and crony payback.

  • Meanwhile, the U.S. auto manufacturers -- in their infinite wisdom -- stand to lose billions due to rising gas prices. A study points out how their mindless dependence on gas-guzzling vehicles will soon cost them dearly.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer mentions, "We spend $7 for every air passenger on homeland security. But we spend one penny for every mass-transit rider." Hmm, I wonder if the reason could be that most mass transit is found in urban areas and most urban areas are generally Democratic. Are the folks who depend on mass transit being punished and put at risk for residing in what is typically non-GOP territory?