Monthly Archives: December 2004

Goodbye to all that

I’m happy to say goodbye to 2004 tonight. It has been an interesting year. I mean that in all senses of “interesting,” but especially in the sense it has in the curse: May you live in interesting times.
I hope that 2005 is a better year, but nothing happens on New Year’s Day. The marking of time is a human conceit; a way of attempting to manage the unmanageable. Every so often the unmanageable rises up and reminds us of its existence. Thus, we end the year in sorrow over the unimaginable tragedy of the deaths of so many from the tsunami in south Asia.
But we’re interesting creatures our own selves, because as long as a human is alive, hope is too. I think humans are amazing, actually, so I never have quite understood why it is supposedly a bad thing to be a “humanist.” I got annoyed with institutionalized Buddhism because it insists on removing the humanity from the Buddha. I thought that was the point. Oh we’re capable of anything, and that includes anything evil that a human mind can devise. But we are always just as capable of being better than we thought we were, of reaching beyond everything we thought we were. May that side of us prevail in 2005.
I wish you all peace and justice in the New Year

Friday Action Alert – Amnesty International

Today’s Action Alert comes via PhoenixWoman in comments at Atrios’ house. The United Arab Emirates have sentenced two women to be flogged for becoming pregnant outside of marriage. Their names are Rad Zemah Mohammed and Wasini bint Sarjan. Amnesty International considers flogging to be cruel and inhuman punishment that constitutes torture.
Click here to take action via Amnesty International.

Friday Ferretblogging

A rare moment of brotherly love.


Texas Group Formed to Oppose Gay Marriage Ban

The Dallas Morning News this morning has an article about a group that has been formed by Democratic political consultant, Jason Stanford, to fight the gay marriage ban proposal in Texas. Stanford has a web site,
Stanford’s approach is one that I think is very good. He is going after this issue on the basis that the real threats to marriage in this country are domestic violence and the high divorce rate. Consequently, the entire wedge issue of gay marriage is largely meaningless in terms of ‘saving’ marriage in America.

That amendment [to ban gay marriage], win or lose, means gay marriage is still illegal in Texas. Win or lose, marriage is still in crisis in Texas…The question is whether the Texas Legislature is going to quit the hypocrisy and focus on the real problems.

Indeed, if the fundies and the Repugs are serious about ‘saving marriage’ in this country, then they need to get real about the problems the institution really faces. I don’t really believe that the fundies and the Repugs are serious, and I suspect that Stanford doesn’t either. It’s all just talk that is used to discriminate against gays and lesbians and to scare people into voting for Repugs. Stanford appears to be calling their bluff. He is also determined to change the framing of the debate away from homosexuality and he is challenging the Right by doing so. Good for him.

Kickass Democrats: Gavin Newsom Edition

I missed this over the holidays. Gavin to bigots: Fuck you:

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wasn’t mincing any words this morning when he told a national audience that he wasn’t worried that his stand on gay marriage may have hurt his political career. Speaking on CNN, the mayor responded — quote — “who cares” when asked if the gay marriage issue hurt his chances of advancing in politics.

Newsom said he has no desire to be a career politician, saying — again quoting — “some of the most miserable human beings I have ever met in my life are in politics.”

Note to the late Jimmy Stewart: This guy’s stealing your schtick.


Department of Oh, Is That All

Another department head out at the CIA.

The head of the CIA’s analysis branch has become the latest victim of a purge of the intelligence agency following the appointment of its new director, Porter Goss, it was reported yesterday.

Jami Miscik has told her department she will leave in February, calling her exit part of the CIA’s “natural evolution” under new management. But former intelligence officials who know her say she would have preferred to stay and was being forced out by Mr Goss, a close ally of President Bush. One former official told the New York Times: “The decision to depart was not hers.”

Good thing she wasn’t in charge of anything important.

Ms Miscik’s department, the directorate of intelligence, is responsible for assessing foreign intelligence from all sources and presenting its conclusions to policy makers.

She is responsible, in particular, for the “president’s daily brief” delivered to the White House every morning.

It would be funny, if not for the part where it completely isn’t.


A Time When Every Act Counts For Something

A crowd waits in line as Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., signs a condolence book for earthquake and flood victims at the Indonesia Embassy on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Your Preznit in Three Brief Takes

From Holden:

Your preznit spoke today and actually mentioned Osama:

Now, Osama bin Laden issued a statement, as you know, which made the stakes of this pretty clear to me. His vision of the world is where people don’t participate in democracy. His vision of the world is where people kill innocent lives in order to affect their behavior and affect their way of living.

That’s right, America, Osama kills people to affect their way of living. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one by ol’ Georgie.

On the subject of disaster relief in South Asia, Chimpy was caught in a lie by his own White House transcribers.

You know, the — what you’re beginning to see is a typical response from America. First of all, we provide immediate cash relief, to the tune of about $35 billion [sic].

Yes, friends, it’s $35 million with an m, not billion as the preznit said.

Finally, back to Iraq and the Bushboy’s inability to properly equip the troops he sent into harms way.

Q Mr. President, there continues to be criticism of the speed with which American troops are being armed in Iraq. Are you satisfied with the way the —

THE PRESIDENT: If the Iraqi troops are being armed?

Q No, the U.S. troops.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I beg your pardon.

Q Are you satisfied with the pace with which the U.S. troops are being armed in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Are you talking about the armored vehicle issue, for example?

Q That and others.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have looked at the statistics on that, and we have stepped up the production of armored Humvees significantly. The other issue is the rearmament of existing — of vehicles that are now in theater, vehicles that require a different armament structure than that which they initially were manufactured with. And I am told that those vehicles will be armed up by mid-summer of 2005. And what I know is, is that the Defense Department is working expeditiously with private contractors and with our military to get these vehicles armed up.

Yes, you heard him. He expects to have all the Humvees in the war zone he created armored sufficiently by mid-summer of 2005 – more than two years after he started the war!

Support our troops, baby. Slap that yellow magnet on your tailgate — don’t forget to turn it sideways so it matches your fish — and SUPPORT OUR FUCKING TROOPS.

Action Alert – Gonzales

Today’s Action Alert is simple: Call or write your senators and tell them to vote against confirming Gonzales as Attorney General. America neither needs nor wants an Attorney General who clearly believes that the president is above the law and has advised him that torture is justified.
Frankly, we shouldn’t have to do this. Gonzales should never have been nominated – he should be facing disbarment instead. It is a disgrace that he advised the administration that it could freely violate the law. If he is affirmed as Attorney General, this country will never live it down.


Hey, Holden, I found your Bush boom:

The totals in 2003 were already impressive: Lloyd S. Blankfein, the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs made $20.1 million, of that only $600,000 was salary; and E. Stanley O’Neal, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch, received a bonus of $13.5 million and restricted stock worth $11.2 million on top of his $500,000 salary. At the other end of the compensation spectrum, an investment banking analyst right out of college would have made a $65,000 salary and a $35,000 bonus last year. An associate just out of business school might have made $85,000 in salary and a $115,000 bonus.

Stingy nations, indeed. Just look at how generous Americans can be when it really matters.

Via Tbogg.


Talking About Abortion

Or, things my mother and I discuss after we’ve had a couple of glasses of odious “Christmas” wine and forget that it’s a futile argument.

After the election, The Poor Man suggested it was time to just chuck the entire abortion rights plank of the party platform overboard and focus on winning, citing Clinton’s DOMA as a way to triangulate and outflank the religious right. Commenters pointed out that we needed some sort of liberal equivalent to Godwin’s Law, i.e. Clinton’s law, which states that anyone who cites Clinton as a political genius who somehow overcame the strictures of being a Democrat must also mention Perot’s hand in getting him elected in the first place, or that person will be sentenced to a lifetime of fucking Mary Matalin and acting the part of a political drama queen opposite Tucker Carlson. I’m still not entirely sure the post wasn’t facetious in the first place, but it did accurately predict by several months the stance of prominent members of the actual Democratic Party.

Which leads me to conversations with my mom.

We don’t talk about abortion because nobody talks about abortion anymore, they just stand on opposite sides of the street and scream obscenities at each other. We don’t talk about abortion because my position dictates I think of her as a simpleminded self-satisfied middle-class prat who wants to punish poor women for things beyond their control, and her position dictates she think of me as an amoral decadent supporter of babykiillers who wishes my own birth had been averted by a medical procedure I believe to be devoid of either physical or emotional consequences. End of story.

Except that, as I tried to explain once fortified by the tasty beverage with Santa on the label, our goal is EXACTLY the same.

We both want abortion to cease.

She’s not a compassionless person. Most of the money and time she gives to her cause goes to organizations that support not only pregnant women but people who’ve already had abortions and need counseling (yes, counseling, not guilt, and she knows the difference). Operation Rescue’s solicitations get shredded. She doesn’t scream at clinics and she takes care of babies that relatives have had under less than desireable circumstances, giving them what is basically day care for free and encouraging them as they go through all kinds of child-rearing crises.

I personally would never choose abortion for myself. I can’t dump lousy boyfriends, people. I’ve driven friends to the doctor, though and held their hands and looked at their faces afterward and hated that they were in a place so dark and frightening. I couldn’t face what they’ve been through. I don’t have the strength.

There’s a way to please us both, and that’s to make abortion nonexistent. That’s the one thing outlawing it will never do. It’s the one thing a comprehensive plan to attack the causes of abortion can do. Honest to god sex education. Day care and housing subsidies. Available and effective contraception. Parenting classes and hotlines and resources for struggling newlyweds and single moms and dads and everybody who needs it.

Democrats want these things anyway. Why not ask for them under the guise of attempting to drastically reduce the number of abortions by the end of this decade? Pick a number, splash it up on the screen, bring up the fact that abortion rates rose under Bush and fell under Clinton. Talk about a goal of making sure no woman is so poor, so desperate, so ignorant that she has no other choice. Talk about the fact that after years of restrictions, the Republicans haven’t been able to reduce abortion rates. Laws to keep people away from something don’t do it. Their way isn’t working. It’s time for something else, so here’s our plan.

We’re rightly scared of losing the right to an abortion, so we started talking about it as a necessary thing that had to be there. It’s a little too easy for our opponents to conflate that into a “love” for abortion itself, especially when we don’t talk about the other things we care about in this context. We can fight back by showing our love for women and demanding compassion in action to prove it, and anybody who opposes us should be asked why they don’t want to support us in our goal to make this procedure, as Clinton himself put it once, “safe, legal, and rare.”


Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

We bring you a take-charge kind of guy:

Q Trent, we’ve heard your statements about — for two or three days about the President’s sentiments, but we haven’t actually seen him, and, more importantly, the people in Sri Lanka or Indonesia or the other locations have not seen him step out, as he did so often after, say, September 11 and some other tragedies. Can you tell us why?

MR. DUFFY: The President has already sent letters of condolences to the leaders in the seven countries. He has directed the United States to play a leading role in the recovery effort and we will continue to do that. The President is doing what is needed most, which is to authorize the U.S. government to play a leading role in the relief and recovery effort. And so he has extended his condolences — I have, on his behalf — and he continues to express his condolences.

Q Trent, I’m not questioning his — the actual question is whether the people of Asia and those who are suffering from all of this, whether there would be any benefit from seeing and hearing from him directly.

MR. DUFFY: I think the people of the region and around the world know that the President of the United States is saddened and has extended his condolences for this terrible tragedy.


Q A follow up on David’s question. Does the President not see any utility as to him taking a personal or a very public leadership role at a time like this worldwide?

MR. DUFFY: The President is taking a personal, public leadership role in this. He is — as I said, he’s been involved and he’s authorized the U.S. government to play a leading role in the relief and recovery efforts, and that’s what’s needed most, is to speed the relief and the recovery, the manpower, the materiel, the supplies to the region and to help with the recovery effort. And that’s what’s most important right now.

And for the second day in a row…

Q Besides getting his morning briefing, what else is the President doing?

MR. DUFFY: The President is continuing to think about the Inauguration and the State of the Union speech; he’s clearing some brush this morning; I think he has some friends coming in either today or tomorrow that he enjoys hosting; he’s doing some biking and exercising as he normally does, taking walks with the First Lady; and thinking about what he wants to accomplish in the second term.

Here We Go

From Holden:

skippy leads us to William Rivers Pitt on Kerry, Edwards, and Tenacity:

This afternoon, an attorney representing the Kerry/Edwards Presidential campaign filed two important motions to preserve and augment evidence of alleged election fraud in the November election.

Read on.

How To Help Quake Victims

Stolen wholesale from here, a pretty comprehensive list of places to go. Pick whichever one you like and send a few bucks their way:


247 West 37th Street, Suite 1201

New York, N.Y. 10018

212-967-7800 x108


45 West 36th Street, 10th Floor

New York, N.Y. 10018



AFSC Crisis Fund

1501 Cherry Street

Philadelphia, Pa. 19102



International Response Fund

P.O. Box 37243

Washington, D.C. 20013



Tsunami Emergency

P.O. Box 17090

Baltimore, Md. 21203-7090



27 South La Patera Lane

Santa Barbara, Calif. 93117



P.O. Box 1856

Merrifield, Va. 22116-8056



Earthquake/Tsunami Relief

1919 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 300

Santa Monica, Calif. 90404



South Asia Tsunami Relief

Box 321

847A Second Avenue

New York, N.Y. 10017

212-687-6200 ext. 851


Southeast Asia Earthquake Response

Dept. W

P.O. Box 2669

Portland, Ore. 97208



8320 Melrose Avenue, Suite 200 Los Angles, Calif. 90069



Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund

54 Wilton Road

Westport, Conn. 06880



Southeast Asia Earthquake Emergency

P.O. Box 6098

Burbank, Calif. 91510


Diversions: TV Edition

You all are watching this, right?

The medicine is crap, of course, but the sarcasm is first rate.


Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Holden here, checking in from my extended Christmas holiday vacation to keep you up to date on the gaggle. Little Scottie must be visiting his mom this week, Texas Comprtoller Carole Keaton McClellan Rylander Strayhorn (how bout them family values?!), ’cause backbencher Terrence Trent d’Uffy was subbing for him today.

And it was indeed a boring gaggle, due to Scottie’s absence or that of Les Kinsolving I suppose. So instead of bringing you the straight gaggle today I’m going to play Fun with [snip].

Q Separately, a new bin Laden tape has emerged that’s calling on Iraqis not to vote in the election. Do you have any information on whether that tape is authentic, or any reaction to it?


MR. DUFFY: I think he was clearing some brush, one of his favorite activities, this morning; working hard on the ranch, doing some yard work. That’s pretty much it.

Damn, I’m glad I’m a blogger and not a journalist.

Further Adventures of Senator-On-Turtle

I’m filing this under “Stories Which Elicit A General Sense of ‘Bite Me’:”

Opponents of gay marriage concede victory will not be swift in their attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution, even after prevailing in all 11 states where the issue was on the ballot last month.

� While the Nov. 2 election also increased the ranks of amendment supporters in both houses of Congress, the gains were relatively small.

“We’re going to have to see additional court cases come down” supporting gay marriage before congressional sentiment shifts dramatically, predicted Sen. John Cornyn (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, who supports the amendment that failed in both houses of Congress this year.

Critics of gay marriage have long warned of such court rulings. Cornyn and others who support changing the Constitution to ban gay marriage say several cases have the potential to produce a sharp shift in congressional sentiment toward their viewpoint.

It strikes me that there’s a reason it’s so hard to amend the Constitution: so we don’t just do it every time we see two guys kissing and it gives us that icky feeling down in our bottom system.

Shorter Cornyn: “We’re just going to have to wait until the judicial branch of government gives us more material to use in our cheap-shot campaigns in districts we believe are full of stupid bigots.”


Action Alert – The Inauguration

The idea here is to turn the inaugural festivities into a negative for Bush.
Write to your local paper and explain that inasmuch as the country is at war, it is shockingly inappropriate for Bush to spend $44 million on his coronat…oops…inauguration. He should just take the oath and get to work. Pictures of wealthy donors getting out of limousines in tuxedoes and cowboy boots are just wrong when our troops are suffering and dying in Iraq. It is extremely callous on Bush’s part to put on this kind of spectacle.
Bush will hold the inauguration and all the parties will go forward. We won’t stop that. But we can turn it into a liability for Bush. So sharpen your fingers and write.

Yushchenko Takes Ukraine Election … Again

I don’t pretend to uderstand the politics involved here. But I can’t get over the actions of the protesters, the supporters, the ordinary people who made this happen. People stood in the streets for hours and they refused to leave until right was done. They wanted something and so they stood and they camped and they stayed, and it happened. I’ve spent three days listening to various people recite versions of a story they think was about a miracle; I have yet to hear anything that tops this.