There are days

I absolutely love the Washington Post. This is one of those days.

Why? Because they deconstruct the ads the Bush campaign has been running against John Kerry in lethal detail, and more importantly, show just how much more negative Bush has been in comparison to Kerry. They even come right out and say why Bush has been more negative. (Quick answer--he's got nothing positive to say about himself.)

Here's the basics.

Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate....

Scott Reed, who ran Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign that year, said the Bush campaign has little choice but to deliver a constant stream of such negative charges. With low poll numbers and a volatile situation in Iraq, Bush has more hope of tarnishing Kerry's image than promoting his own.

"The Bush campaign is faced with the hard, true fact that they have to keep their boot on his neck and define him on their terms," Reed said. That might risk alienating some moderate voters or depressing turnout, "but they don't have a choice," he said....

There's more. The details of how the Bush campaign has stretched Kerry's actions and statements are fascinating, and Kerry comes in for some criticism as well for returning fire in equally disingenuous ways (albeit at a greatly reduced rate of fire).

But there are a couple of examples that really tickled me, so here they are.
On Tuesday, the Bush campaign held a conference call to discuss its new ad, which charged that Kerry was "pressured by fellow liberals" to oppose wiretaps, subpoena powers and surveillance in the USA Patriot Act. "Kerry would now repeal the Patriot Act's use of these tools against terrorists," the ad said.

Kerry has proposed modifying those provisions by mandating tougher judicial controls over wiretaps and subpoenas, but not repealing them. In the conference call, Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman was prodded to offer evidence that Kerry was pressured by liberals or that Kerry opposed wiretaps. He offered no direct evidence, saying only that Kerry objected to the Patriot Act after liberals did, and that "a common-sense reading indicates he intends to repeal those important tools."...

On Wednesday, a Bush memo charged that Kerry "led the fight against creating the Department of Homeland Security." While Kerry did vote against the Bush version multiple times, it is not true that he led the fight, but rather was one of several Democrats who held out for different labor agreements as part of its creation. Left unsaid is that, in the final vote, Kerry supported the department -- which Bush initially opposed.

And they call Kerry a flip-flopper. In other words, as the guys at Pandagon love to say, these people just love to make shit up.

Even in San Francisco

This city, the place where just last year a Democrat defeated a Green by only 12,000 votes in the race for mayor, where that mayor--linked to Bush in that very race--later took steps to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples, perhaps the most liberal city in the US, my current home--well goddamn, read for yourself.

After displaying a painting of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners, a San Francisco gallery owner bears a painful reminder of the nation's unresolved anguish over the incidents at Abu Ghraib -- a black eye and bloodied brow delivered by an unknown assailant who apparently objected to the art work.

The assault outside the Capobianco gallery in the city's North Beach district Thursday night was the worst, but only the latest in a string of verbal and physical attacks that have been directed at owner Lori Haigh since the painting, titled "Abuse," was installed there on May 16....

Even after she removed the painting from the window, the criticism continued thanks to news coverage about the gallery's troubles. The answering machine recorded new calls from people accusing her of being a coward for taking the picture down. Last weekend, a man walked into the gallery, pretended to scrutinize the art work for a moment, then marched up to Haigh's desk and spat directly in her face.

On Thursday, someone knocked on the door of the gallery, then punched Haigh in the face when she stepped outside.

And the owner is getting this from both sides--some so-called liberals have apparently given Haigh grief for taking the painting out of the window. Jesus, people, have a heart. Not everyone is ready to deal with this level of hatred spewing, so give them a break if they decide they'd rather take a painting out of a window than deal with hateful phone calls and physical threats. She's now sacrificed her peace of mind and perhaps her livelihood since she's closing down her gallery.

That said, I hope the cops find whoever the piece of shit was who assaulted Haigh. That guy needs to spend a couple of nights in the county jail. There's no excuse for that--none whatsoever.

So I'm doing a reading

Next Tuesday night at the Stanford Bookstore, I'll be doing a poetry reading, and I'm more than a little nervous about it.

I haven't done a reading in over a year--my last one was my senior reading at Arkansas, and it was mercifully small, thanks to ice storms and hazardous driving conditions.

The real problem is that since I've come to Stanford, since I've gotten this fellowship, I've been reexamining my poetry to such a point that I've lost most confidence in it. it's the workshop atmosphere that does it--and it's certainly not the fault of my fellows. This has been easily the best workshop I've ever been in, and I wouldn't trade this situation for anything. I just tend to start writing for other people when I'm in workshop, and I do my best work outside of that influence.

I'll get through it, I'm sure. It's the last meeting of the term, and it will be the last meeting with the second year Stegners, who I will miss horribly. They've become good friends in the last year. Keep an eye out for their work--you won't be sorry.

Geoff Brock (translator for Umberto Eco).
David Roderick (finalist for the Yale Younger Series this year).
John Lundberg. (published in Poetry this year)
Monica Ferrell. (published in the Paris Review)
Robin Ekiss (finalist for the Walt Whitman award this year--woo hoo!)

Sorry y'all if I didn't mention more of your plaudits. Catch me up on them this weekend at the party.

What's the matter, Hannity?

Yesterday, Sean Hannity had one of those poll questions on his site that liberal bloggers just love. We love it like Barry loves a belt-high hanging slider. It was one of those questions that you know he was hoping for one answer on--we strove to disappoint him. It was just another Kerry-Bush-Nader internet poll, but it was on Hannity's site, so we had some fun. And let's just say that he didn't get the answer he wanted. That link is a screenshot from when Kerry was up 63-35. The final tally had Kerry at 75%.

So now Hannity's got a new poll up, guaranteed to keep the liberals away.

What is your reaction to Al Gore after hearing his rants about President Bush?
Finally lost it.
Needs more meds.
Should find a peaceful island

Oh well. When you can't beat them with logic, question their sanity--that's the right-wing way.

What Liberal Media?

Nicholas Watson of San Diego forwarded this interesting article (linked below) to Altercation--and Alterman saw fit to print it, and I'm passing the key info along.

It's an article of faith that NPR is a bastion of liberality on the airwaves--in fact, when the head of the Armed Forces radio network was questioned about their lineup, which contains daily doses of Limbaugh and Dr. Laura, he said that the ideological spectrum was represented by the inclusion of NPR's "All Things Considered" and "Marketplace."

For the record, I'm of the opinion that the current move to get Limbaugh off AFN is a bit overblown, so I haven't signed any of the various petitions to pressure the government to make it happen--we have more important things to worry about right now.

But then comes this article from Newsday that discusses a report done by FAIR. Here's the lede and the second paragraph.

Despite a perception that National Public Radio is politically liberal, the majority of its sources are actually Republicans and conservatives, according to a survey released today by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a left-leaning media watchdog.

"Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge," according to a report accompanying the survey, "individual Republicans were NPR's most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance." In addition, representatives of right-of-center think tanks outnumbered their leftist counterparts by more than four to one, FAIR reported.

Bolded parts mine.

So how could this misperception have taken hold so firmly? FAIR's Steve Randall says, and I tend to agree, that NPR's approach has a lot to do with it. Compared to the over-the-top rantings of Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly and (especially) Savage, NPR's genteel approach provides for more balance and more opportunity for multiple perspectives to make their way into the discourse.

But the only way, apparently, that NPR is actually liberal leaning is when you compare them to the ranting right-wingers, which is like saying that John McCain is some sort of hippie in comparison to Tom DeLay. It may be true in that limited universe, but it's ridiculous in any wider sense.

Doublespeak in full effect

Thanks to Atrios for this heads up. Check out the headline from this LA Times article.

US Emphasizes Intent to Transfer Full Power to Iraqis--With Limits

Need I go on?

Morrison for District 22

That's the new link on the side there--District 22 is the district controlled by one Tom DeLay, current House Majority Leader and all around piece of crap.

Morrison is a longshot to be sure, but he's made both the Dean Dozen and the Daily Kos 8.

Just remember, every penny and every second Tom DeLay has to spend defending his own seat--a seat he actually weakened while pushing through the Texas redistricting plan--is a penny and a second he can't use helping other candidates in trouble around the country. DeLay isn't Majority Leader because he's popular--he's Majority Leader because he raises tons of money and has no compunction about buying party loyalty with it. We can undercut him, at the very least, by supporting Richard Morrison.

Ideological purity

It's hard for an extremist to get elected to any significant office. It's damn near impossible for an honest one.

It does happen, mind you. Roy Moore was elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and may well be the next Governor of that state, horrifying as that may sound.

But generally, the extremists are left on the sidelines as the electorate gets larger, unless they disguise themselves as regular folk.

David Duke fooled a willing populace in a small part of Louisiana when he was elected to the State Senate, but was unable to fool the larger populace once he went statewide, losing a landslide to Louisiana's most famous felonious governor, Edwin Edwards.

George W. Bush only managed to become President--his buddies on the Supreme Court aside--by disguising his radical evangelism as "compassionate conservatism," aided and abetted by a pliant media.

But more often than not, idealogues max out at the House of Representatives. The electorate is still small enough, and these days, homogenous enough, to allow for the extremists to get into office. It's when they try to make the jump statewide--as Pat Toomey did in Pennsylvania--that they discover that their support is not quite as widespread as they had hoped.

So why bring this up? Well, it seems to me that the new dirty word in politics is "moderate." Arlen Specter, of whom I am no fan, was demonized by Toomey in the primary as being too moderate. It may end up costing him his seat in the long run, although it's too far out to really know if Hoeffel is going to catch him. Joe Lieberman will likely face a challenger from his left if he decides to run again in 2006 (although that would be a good thing in my opinion, since his "moderation" borders on appeasement).

But why the demonization? There are plenty of honorable moderates in both parties. John McCain. Olympia Snowe. Lincoln Chaffee. Tom Daschle. Hillary Clinton (don't believe the hype about how liberal she is). Mary Landrieu. And yet look what's happened to some of these people recently.

John McCain was mocked by the Speaker of the House--a member of his own party--when he dared suggest that perhaps tax cuts ought to take a back seat while we're at war. Tom Daschle--fighting a tough battle for re-election--has had to endure constant questions about his fitness as Minority Leader and potentially Majority Leader should the Democrats take the Senate back in November.

And of course, John Kerry endures constant sniping from the left in the form of Nader supporters because he's not, well, Nader.

But here's something that I think is important to remember. Nader--in his best year--has never gotten close to 10% of the national vote, and forget about actually earning an electoral vote. The last real third party threat was Ross Perot, and he garnered his support in 1992 by mounting a centrist challenge. Both Clinton and Bush chased Perot to the middle in that election, and still Perot took a significant chunk of the electorate.

The extremes are important in both parties. They push the boundaries of dialogue and ideas and are often the most vigorous part of the party. They look at issues in new and/or different ways and can affect the direction of the national discourse if they're good enough, much as the radicals in the Republican House of Representatives have done.

But there's a reason Dennis Kucinich never got any traction in the Presidential race, just like there's a reason neither Pat Buchanan nor Pat Robertson were a serious threat to George H. W. Bush. In order to win the big races, you have to appeal to the widest swath of the population. And the widest swath of the population isn't all that passionate about issues. They're moderate, for better or for worse.

They just lie

The Bush administration lies even when there's no benefit to them and no reason for it. They tell silly, stupid little lies that are easily proven to be such. This one isn't important as lies go. No one died as a result. No one was even injured as a result of it. But it's silly.

I'm talking, of course, of the reason President Bush took a tumble on his mountain bike in Crawford last week. Now anyone who's been on a bicycle knows that sometimes, shit just happens and you go tumbling ass over appetite with a little road rash to show for it. Your friends give you shit for a while and laugh at you, and as long as there's no broken bones, everything is cool.

So this happened to Bush. What's the response? According to White House spokesman Trent Duffy, "It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose. You know this president. He likes to go all-out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes." That's our badass president, I guess.

But Kos did some checking on the precipitation levels in Crawford Texas for the last couple of weeks, and guess what? It had rained heavily on the 13th--9 days before President Bush's bike trip. It rained lightly on the 14th, and not since then.

So another lie, and one of no consequence. But why? Has this administration just gotten so unable to tell the truth that it has literally turned into Big Brother? Should we just immediately assume that for these guys, up is indeed down? (We've already done the war is peace one.)

The French do it again
Congrats to Michael Moore for winning the Palme D'Or at Cannes for his film Fahrenheit 9/11. Now we've just got to find a local distributor.

Tell me something. If Hollywood is so damn liberal, then why is it that distribution companies aren't banging down the door to get this film out in the US?

Quick answer? The creative side--such as it is--is decidedly liberal. The distribution side--the corporate arm--is as pro-corporate as it gets, and the current incarnation of the Republican party is on their knees and slurping away as far as corporations are concerned.

Eric Idle is Brilliant

Not that you needed me to tell you that, but he is. Go here and take a listen to "The FCC Song." It's going on my mp3 player tomorrow.

Idle introduces it thusly:

"Here’s a little song I wrote the other day while I was out duck hunting with a judge… It’s a new song, it’s dedicated to the FCC and if they broadcast it, it will cost a quarter of a million dollars."

If you're of sensitive ears, (then you're probably not a reader) then beware of the liberally dropped f-bombs.

New link

So why do I, a Louisianan living in California who has never set foot in the state of Illinois, have a link to Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama's new blog? The answer is quite simple--regardless of what Zell Miller says, the Democratic party is a national party, and so since Barbara Boxer is currently cruising toward re-election, I'm turning my attention to other parts of the country.

Obama is part of the Dean Dozen, and Dean apparently has plans to campaign with him in Illinois in the near future. And considering that Dean was able to raise a cool half million for Kerry in a day yesterday, I guess it's safe to say that Dean's influence is still palpable.

I've been following Obama for a couple of months now, mostly through the Daily Kos so when he asked, through his blog, for helping spread the word, I was glad to add my endorsement. I'll do the same for other members of the Dean Dozen as I look at their websites and see where they stand on issues that are important to me.

Their mothers must be so proud.

As I mentioned below, some joker signed me up for Newsmax email updates. I imagine it was the troll. But if he/she thought it would piss me off, well, guess again.

Here's how classy they are. Direct from the email:

2. Kerry's Daughter Takes Film to Cannes

One of the films on the Cannes line-up comes from a filmmaker with a unique resume. Her father is presumptive Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry.

Alexandra Kerry's mother is not John's current wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Rather, Alexandra is the offspring of a prior marriage between the senator and Julia Thorne.

The would-be prez's daughter already has four short films under her belt. Her latest is a surreal story about a girl dealing with her father's return from the Vietnam War.

Alexandra claims that beyond the father-daughter relationship, the movie is not autobiographical.

The Left Coast Report wonders if Chelsea Clinton is thinking of submitting a film about a daughter who's dealing with her father being trapped in a Hooters after closing.

Nice. Why not just reprint Limbaugh's "White House pet" joke while you're at it? Weren't you the guys who were screaming about dignity in the 2000 election? Weren't you the people screaming that the President's daughters ought to be out of the spotlight when they got busted for underage drinking and for using the Secret Service as a bunch of designated drivers?

I am a man of my word.

It's no secret to anyone who knows me who I supported for the Democratic nomination--check out the link to DFA 2.0 for a hint. And it's fair to say that Kerry was not my second, third or fourth choice. But I promised myself that if and when Howard Dean asked me to donate money to the Kerry campaign, I would do so.

Well, he's asked. And I've given. Not a lot--I don't have a lot--but I have given. And I'll put a link up on the blog as well.

Paper trail gains steam

The NY Times is onboard with the paper trail requirement for electronic voting machines.

And it's a good thing, too. Even though the paper of record has been suffering from an overblown reputation for quite a while now, it still carries some weight, and their recommendation includes more than just requiring paper receipts.

It should also mandate manual audits of a reasonable percentage of the state's voting machines to check their tabulations against the paper records. The Legislature should also insist that manufacturers reveal their computer code to state and local officials to show that there are no software errors or secret instructions to steal votes.

That's a powerful idea. I've long been in favor of requiring periodic random audits--after all, what good does it do to have a receipt if there's no call to check the system occasionally--but I really love the idea of open source software.

One of the greatest issues I've had with electronic voting has been the secretive nature of the proprietary software. Look, secrets breed conspiracy theories. Diebold and ES&S have taken a beating in the press and in the eyes of many statewide election officials in California, Ohio, and Indiana (and I'm sure I'm missing some) over the last couple of years because of their refusal to be open about anything.

Democracy depends on openness and transparency. I'm glad that the option is now at least on the table for discussion.

Jon Stewart rules

But that's no surprise. He just received an honorary doctorate from William and Mary and served as their commencement speaker. The entire text is available here, but I'll give you the highlights.

Lets talk about the real world for a moment. We had been discussing it earlier, and I…I wanted to bring this up to you earlier about the real world, and this is I guess as good a time as any. I don’t really know to put this, so I’ll be blunt. We broke it.

Please don’t be mad. I know we were supposed to bequeath to the next generation a world better than the one we were handed. So, sorry.

I don’t know if you’ve been following the news lately, but it just kinda got away from us. Somewhere between the gold rush of easy internet profits and an arrogant sense of endless empire, we heard kind of a pinging noise, and uh, then the damn thing just died on us. So I apologize.

But here’s the good news. You fix this thing, you’re the next greatest generation, people. You do this—and I believe you can—you win this war on terror, and Tom Brokaw’s kissing your ass from here to Tikrit, let me tell ya. And even if you don’t, you’re not gonna have much trouble surpassing my generation. If you end up getting your picture taken next to a naked guy pile of enemy prisoners and don’t give the thumbs up you’ve outdid us.

We declared war on terror. We declared war on terror—it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.

Like all good comedy, there's a lot of truth in what he says. The world is broken right now, and a good part of the reason why is because of our leadership's willingness to declare a war on something as ephemeral and abstract as "terror" rather than actually defining what they ought to accomplish, namely, a reduction in the conditions that breed terrorists and an effective defense against those few who would be evil regardless of what world conditions are like.

Stewart does get into the usual graduation platitudes--compares college life to real life and states that competence is a rarity--but he closes it with a wonderful anecdote.
And the other thing….that I will say is, when I spoke earlier about the world being broke, I was somewhat being facetious, because every generation has their challenge. And things change rapidly, and life gets better in an instant.

I was in New York on 9-11 when the towers came down. I lived 14 blocks from the twin towers. And when they came down, I thought that the world had ended. And I remember walking around in a daze for weeks. And mayor Guliani had said to the city, “You’ve got to get back to normal. We’ve got to show that things can change and get back to what they were.”

And one day I was coming out of my building, and on my stoop, was a man who was crouched over, and he appeared to be in deep thought. And as I got closer to him I realized, he was playing with himself. And that’s when I thought, “You know what, we’re gonna be OK.”

And you know what? If enough people have that attitude, we will be.

The world is coming to an end, part deux

Yep--you guessed it. Gays are getting married again. And there's nothing that asshole Fred Phelps can do about it.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Monday, May 17 — Against a backdrop of whoops and cheers and a party that spilled onto the streets, gay and lesbian couples here began filling out applications for marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, when Massachussetts became the first state in the country to allow them to marry.

Congrats to all the happy couples. I saw it firsthand when it happened here in San Francisco and to everyone in Massachussetts who is able to tie the knot now after all this time, I wish you the very best.

A little thank you

To whoever signed me up for the Newsmax email updates. I get a good laugh at the idiocy.

Kick ass in the tax argument

The Republican party mantra, for as long as I can remember, is that taxes are bad and that we as a nation need to take money away from the government and give it back to the people. As far as soundbites go, it's largely effective, because hey, who hasn't looked at their paycheck and thought the difference between gross and net pay wasn't a bit vast? It's especially the case at the lower income levels because every penny is more important then.

Here's the downside--the mantra has been so effective that some lower income people have been persuaded to think that they pay too much in taxes as well, and thus vote against their interests. So how can we convince them to do otherwise?

The Gadflyer provides some ammo for the progressives in the form of 8 argument/counterarguments. Here's a brief taste for you.

Argument: Americans pay high taxes.
Response: Among industrialized countries, taxes in America are remarkably low. In fact, Americans pay less in taxes as a proportion of GDP than citizens of almost any other industrialized country.

Across the ideological spectrum, Americans love government services but hate paying taxes. So when a conservative starts complaining that taxes are too high, a good way to argue back is to say, "OK, what do you want to cut? Do you want to cut defense spending? Do you want to cut spending on schools? Social Security? Medicare?" If they say something like "How about cutting welfare?" you can let them know that welfare, currently known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, comprises less than 1% of the federal budget.

Go. Study. Prepare.

Not that they'll actually do anything about it

But apparently some Republican senators are disgusted by the latest images of brutality to come outof Iraq. From

“I don’t know how the hell these people got into our Army,” said Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., called the images “appalling,” saying they “go beyond” what much of the world has already seen in photos broadcast and published earlier this month.

But Tom DeLay, as usual, fails to see what the big deal is.
But House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, while acknowledging that the materials showed “pretty disgusting sexual acts,” said there was no need for more investigations. “The American system is working,” he said. “... Our enemies are incredibly more evil than what is depicted in the pictures.”

Hey Tommy Boy--to paraphrase Chris Rock, just because our enemies are fucked up doesn't mean we get to be fucked up. That's ignorant.

Or as your fellow Republican Lindsey Graham put it, "When you are the good guys, you've got to act like the good guys."

This guy is taking on Tom DeLay in his home district. The odds are heavily against him, but every second and every penny DeLay has to spend in his home district is time taken away from his opportunity to eventually become Speaker of the House. And the possibility that he could be third in line for the Presidency one day is too scary to imagine.

Houston, we have a feline.

Everybody say hi to Eliot, the newest member of the family.

Amy and I officially adopted Eliot today. Amy brought him home while I was working, and after a few hours of skittishness, he seems to have adapted reasonably well to his new home. The mouse he's playing with is his first toy from the two of us.

I know these aren't Baby Kos pictures, but Eliot is my first cat ever and the first real couple pet I've ever had. More pictures as he adjusts to life around here.

And I promise--I'll never put a silly hat on him.

Need a job?
Here's an opening.

CACI, one of the independent contractor agencies (read: mercenaries) in Iraq responsible for "intelligence gathering" (read: prisoner abuse overseer) is looking for an Interrogator/Intel Analyst Team Lead Asst.

Assists the interrogation support program team lead to increase the effectiveness of dealing with Detainees, Persons of Interest, and Prisoners of War (POWs) that are in the custody of US/Coalition Forces in the CJTF 7 AOR, in terms of screening, interrogation, and debriefing of persons of intelligence value. Under minimal supervision, will assist the team lead in managing a multifaceted interrogation support cell consisting of database entry/intelligence research clerks, screeners, tactical/strategic interrogators, and intelligence analyst.

Position requires a bachelor's degree or equivalent and five to seven years of related experience, preferably in intelligence field. Requires a Top Secret Clearance. Strong writing and briefing skills, with competency in automation, research and basic software applications. Familiar with intelligence collection capabilities/planning, as well as analytical procedures.

Minimum of 5 years in intelligence field. Requires a Bachelor's degree or equivalent. Requires a Top Secret Clearance. Strong writing and briefing skills, with competency in automation, research and basic software applications. Familiar with intelligence collection capabilities/planning, as well as analytical procedures.

You can even submit your resume online. I think I may be sick.


Cat adoption, that is. Amy and I are going to do it. We've got the go-ahead from the landlord and so Amy's been scouring the pet pages at Craigslist to see who we can add to our home. I'll keep you updated and post pics when we have our blessed event.

I must have arrived as a blogger

Because I've had to ban someone for being a troll. I got rid of the more offensive comments aimed at my girlfriend, but left the others for your enjoyment.

At least Zell had the decency to retire

It's time for Joe Lieberman to get the hell out of the Democratic party.

Actually, it was time last year during the Democratic primaries, but he's really stepped over the line now in my opinion.

From today's Rumsfeld testimony (link provided courtesy of Atrios:

LIEBERMAN: Mr. Secretary, the behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American. It deserves the apology that you have given today and that have been given by others in high positions in our government and our military.

I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized.

LIEBERMAN: And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never received an apology from anybody.

Now forget for a moment that his last statement makes absolutely no sense--the people who murdered the American mercenaries deserve no apology and aren't seeking one as far as I know--Lieberman is again guilty of making the same linkage that got us into this mess in the first place, namely, that the 9-11 attacks and the War in Iraq are somehow related.

Those of us in the Democratic party who were screaming mad about this war in Iraq before it started don't need members of our party continuing to try to justify it, not when of the opposition, only Cheney still insists the link exists. Get it through your goddamn head Joe--there is no freaking connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, and if you want to continue to insist that there is, there's a party just waiting to embrace you and your rhetoric.

Abu Ghraib and the Stanford Prison Experiment

Some other bloggers and at least one diarist from the Daily Kos (although none of the big dogs yet to my knowledge), have noted the strong similarities between the actions of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and the Stanford Prison Experiment, which along with the Milgram Experiment ought to be required study for everyone, everywhere.

So since others have done the legwork on this, let me move on to the part that has really offended me about the coverage by the right-wing radio (and television) wingnut community. Rush Limbaugh, a guest on Hannity and Colmes (who Hannity immediately agreed with), and Weekly Standard online Editor Johnathan Last on Dennis Miller's show all compared the treatment of Iraqi prisoners to fraternity hazing. At first, I was outraged at the comparison--that Limbaugh et al would so trivialize something like this by comparing it to hazing. Then my girlfriend gave me the verbal slap upside the head that I needed for context--she does that a lot.

Folks--hazing is illegal for a reason. Kids still die every year from hazing incidents and it's been illegal now for quite a while. One of the things that was hammered into my head repeatedly when I was an active Greek was the seriousness of hazing policy. So to compare the treatment of Iraqi prisoners to fraternity hazing is no joke, and it certainly should not act to reduce the seriousness of the charges made against US troops. We have a skewed view of hazing because the main introduction most people have to fraternity life is Animal House.

Hazing in real life isn't Kevin Bacon grabbing his ankles and saying "Thank you sir may I have another." Just ask any parents who have buried their promising young freshman for some perspective.

If there were any doubt left

Media Matters may wind up being one of the best resources for right-wing bullshit busting on the internet. If the very best that the opposition can come up with is that David Brock is associated with it, then you know Media Matters is going to be hitting close to home.

This post references a speech made by Ralph Reed to Nevada voters basically urging them to get their news from right-wing radio and, you guessed it, Fox News. The day before, Dick Cheney praised Fox for its accuracy.

The facts? Well, there are the ongoing polls by PIPA that show Fox viewers are largely uninformed, and now Media Matters has commissioned one as well.

Media Matters for America recently commissioned a poll conducted by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group. Among the findings was that FOX News Channel viewers disproportionately hold inaccurate or false views. "Among daily viewers of FOX News Channel, 72 percent say there is strong evidence about Iraq's possession of WMD and development of nuclear weapons, while only 44 percent of those who watch FOX infrequently say that this statement is true," the poll found.

Fox News--as accurate as the administration wants them to be.

Quote of the day

"The true axis of evil in America is the brilliance of our marketing combined with the stupidity of our people." Bill Maher

I don't watch tv anymore, unless it's for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, for sporting events (rarely), or other news shows on PBS like Frontline. I refuse.

When I moved to San Francisco, the cable was on in the apartment, so I watched C-SPAN and some of the news channels, and the occasional stupid show, but when it was cut off a month ago, the decision was easy to make--of course I'm not going to subscribe. There's not enough that's worth watching to justify the expense.

Maher surely overstates the case a bit in his quotable bit there. Americans are no more stupid than any other population, but we are distracted easily. I think that's because we're intellectually immature as a nation. We're infantilized by content providers and entertainers and so when our "leaders" tell us lies so transparent that any reasonable person would be insulted, we follow along like a baby watches a ring full of keys that's dangled in front of its face.

So I've turned off the premier marketing machine. I can't get away from marketing completely--that would require a Kaczynski type withdrawal from society, and I don't think that's a reasonable solution either--but I can limit its influence on me. I've had no cable for a couple of months now, and I feel great.

Cali slaps Diebold


California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley popped Diebold with a double whammy today. He decertified 14,000 machines completely and decertified machines in 10 other counties, setting 23 conditions that they would have to meet to be recertified. But more importantly, he called for a criminal investigation into Diebold's practices.

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley asked the attorney general’s office to investigate allegations of fraud, saying Diebold had lied to state officials. A spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer said prosecutors would review Shelley’s claims.

Registrars in some of the counties that had already made the switch to paperless ballots and who will be affected by this decision were less than pleased.
Registrars in counties that made the switch to paperless voting said Shelley’s decision to return to paper ballots would result in chaos.

“There just isn’t time to bring this system up before November,” Kern County Registrar Ann Barnett said. “It’s absurd.”

Ms. Barnett, you might want to try calling anyone in Canade who handles elections and ask them for some advice. They don't even have optical scanners and they manage to do okay.

Diebold, of course, said that their machines "are safe, secure and demonstrated 100 percent accuracy in the March election." As Dennis said to King Arthur, "Pull the other one."

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