Monthly Archives: May 2005

“Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity”

Alternet has this post by Matthew Rothschild that I think is extremely important. He explains just what is going on between the White House and Amnesty International. But it’s not just Amnesty International:

Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU, the American Bar Association, and Human Rights First (formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) have joined in a call for a special prosecutor. But that decision is up to Gonzales and ultimately Bush.

The article is very detailed on the charges that those groups are making against the administration. What they describe is intolerable. I don’t care if there is not even a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a special prosecutor, let alone impeaching the administration, I can do no less than to demand those things. And to keep demanding them. I really don’t see how anyone with a conscience, anyone who loves this country can be silent about this. America is not supposed to disappear people and torture them to death. And that’s exactly what this administration has been engaged in.
This isn’t about “fraternity pranks.” This isn’t about Phony Hypotheticals Based on “24 Hours.” This is about war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is serious shit and we are all culpable to the exact extent that we do nothing.

Impeachable Offenses

If you have a blog (and I know most of you do) go sign yourselves up in support of the Big Brass Alliance.

A.

Shorter Krauthammer: Republicans Who Disagree With Me, They Suck

The wingnut meltdown over the filibuster compromise hasn’t ended, it’s just become more grammatically correct:

Then there is John McCain, who is a party unto himself. Add to that John Warner, who decided to go against his party for what can only be called constitutional vanity. He sees himself as a lion of the Senate. He has been around so long that perhaps he feels ownership, if not authorship, of the Constitution itself, and he allowed himself to be convinced by Byrd, an even older lion, that together they were saving it.

Had it remained at those five, the judicial filibuster — the bastard child of Democratic bitterness over recent lost elections — would now be banished.

Enter two latecomers, DeWine and Lindsey Graham, who were prepared to vote for the nuclear option but decided to cross the aisle and make the tough choice to join the lionized center. They both say that if the Democrats start to filibuster again, they will defect back to the warm embrace of Frist and go nuclear. Will they be willing to forfeit their newfound celebrity and stature as statesmen? That would be a profile in courage.

Leaving aside the fact that Lindsey Graham looks like nothing so much as an overfed chipmunk and that most people couldn’t pick DeWine out of a lineup therefore not so much with the celebrity rock-star thing, I have to say after reading this with my morning coffee and slogging through the tepid New Yorker profile of McCain that Tena mentioned below, the 2008 Republican primaries are gonna be fun, fun, fun.

I can’t wait. The Hanoi Hilton Veterans For Truth are gonna drag out that confession McCain signed under torture, and flash it around, and talk about how can we have a commander in chief who could be tortured into doing something like giving Saddam Hussein a presidential pardon? Bob Dole will stand up and say John McCain didn’t bleed enough, and McCain will yet again debase himself by sucking up to Pat Robertson, all to no avail, as Robertson will reveal God told him over amaretto sours the other night that Vile Richard (Santorum, and my apologies to Helen Fielding) should be our next president. That’s who they’ll nominate, some snivelling creep who satisfies the James Dobsons of the world.

And then whatever warm body we pull off the bench (probably John Edwards though Wesley Clark would do well in a debate with a wax dummy like Rick) will whip his ass, and they’ll wonder how they got so sold.

And we’ll sit back, sip our whiskey-spiked lattes, and say, “Are you kidding? Didn’t you read that Krauthammer article in 2005? It was all downhill from there.”

A.

Note To Newspapers Everywhere: Hire This Kid

And the children shall expose them:

The premise was simple: McSwane would try to join the Army as a high school dropout with an insatiable fondness for marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms. No matter how stoned and stupid McSwane acted, a pair of recruiters wouldn’t wouldn’t let him go.

McSwane insisted to the recruiters that he couldn’t lick his drug habit, but one recruiter told him to take some “stuff” that would “clean you out.” It turned out to be a detoxification kit the recruiter said had worked with other applicants. McSwane said the recruiter even offered to pay half the cost of the kit.

McSwane’s claim of being a dropout didn’t discourage his recruiters either. He was encouraged to take a high school equivalency diploma exam, which McSwane deliberately failed. That’s when he said one recruiter introduced him to the “home-school option.”

McSwane was told to order a phony diploma and transcripts from an online diploma mill.

“It can be like Faith Hill Baptist School or something – whatever you choose,” one of the recruiters can be heard saying in a taped phone call.

Several days and $200 later, McSwane became a proud graduate of Faith Hill Baptist High School in Longmont.

“I ordered my four years of high school sweat with a few clicks,” he later wrote.

But McSwane knew that if his story was going to hold up, he would need proof. So he enlisted his sister, Victoria, to pretend that she was keeping a photo album of her big brother’s military accomplishments. She took pictures of McSwane shaking hands with his recruiters.

McSwane convinced a high school friend to operate a video camera across the street from a head shop while one of the recruiters drove him to the store to buy a drug detox kit. He even got his mother to covertly slip him some cash during the episode after the head shop refused to accept her credit card.

Since McSwane didn’t wear a wire on most of his visits to the recruiting office, he parlayed his natural forgetfulness as a supposed druggie into an opportunity to tape his recruiters’ during phone calls.

“I’m a drug addict, so I acted confused and asked him to explain things over again,” he said.

McSwane stopped reporting the story in March when one of the recruiters asked him to strip down for a weigh-in and sign several legally binding documents.

McSwane’s article ran in the March 17 issue of The Westwind.

McSwane’s next move was to make certain his story didn’t languish on an inside page of his school paper. He shopped it out to local and national media outlets. Only CBS 4 News called back.

The station broadcast its report, “How Far Will the Army Go?,” on April 28 and played parts of McSwane’s audio and videotapes.

The high school senior was soon up to his ears in media requests.

Ultimately, McSwane wants more than just media attention. He thinks recruiters, including the two he exposed, are overwhelmed by pressure to make monthly quotas.

“I feel bad they’re taking the fall. It’s their bosses who are telling them to do this. The job is impossible when you have a war going on,” he said.

I don’t know if a lot of people are aware of this, but high school and college newspapers actually are Pulitzer-eligible. This school or the boy’s family should download the entry forms.

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Ted Olson. Yeah, THAT Ted Olson.

AP’s short list of potential Supreme Court justices being vetted.

No mention of Abu Gonzales, not yet. But Ratzinger wasn’t on the early short list for his current job, either.

A.

Action Alert – Hate Crimes Legislation

Today’s Action comes from NOW:
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The National Organization for Women proudly salutes the introduction of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005. Introduced in the House on Thursday, May 26, this is the first legislation to explicitly include transgender individuals in civil rights law. The bill is designed to help protect against bias crimes based on gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability and also adds gender and gender identity to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.
***

The chief sponsors of the House bill are Representatives John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Barney Frank, D-Mass., Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. NOW applauds this bipartisan effort as a further step toward eradicating injustice in our society.
***
“This legislation will have a huge legal and educational impact as we work together to stop the attacks in our society against the LGBT community,” Vives said. “We will be working with our champions in the Senate and expect them to introduce a similar bill with equally broad inclusion for gender identity. With the passage of this legislation, we can take down these and other barriers of discrimination and achieve our goal of full inclusion—for all people—in our society.”
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Write to your representative and urge her or him to vote for this legislation.  Thanks for taking today’s action.

Okrent: Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me

You know, my problem with Daniel Okrent was never that he was small-minded, petty, or wrong a lot. Though he was of course all those things.

My problem with him is that he’s supposedly the watchdog for the most powerful newspaper in the country, and he seems to have spent most of the time holed up in his office with a magic mirror asking “Who’s the fairest of them all? You, that’s right, you sexy beast!”

“I have a theory. Over the last few weeks, people were taking me out to lunch, being so gracious to me, I was beginning to worry I would miss this job,” he says. “So on some subconscious level—and I do mean subconscious—maybe I thought I’d write something so that they’ll be glad I’m leaving.”

So let’s make sure we’ve got that straight. You gratuitously attacked a columnist to make your soon-to-be former colleagues bear the devastating impact of your approaching loss (the horror, that they should have to go a day without seeing your shining visage, reading your sterling prose) with more stoicism? And to make yourself feel better?

Are you kidding me?

Krugman should sue his ass.

A.

Tuesday Caption Contest: Your Preznit Goes To Arlington Edition

An installation I like to call The Progression of Presidential Constipation: What It Means To You:

Stage one: Mild discomfort

Stage two: Stoic Disregard of Extreme Pain

Stage three: Walk Like An Egyptian

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who will fill you in in your daily delights as best she can in Holden’s absence

Line of the Day

Steve:

“I wouldn’t take Mark Foley all that seriously. He still denies having a boyfriend.”

Hee.

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All That Democracy Is Really Working Well

Jesus.

A roadside bomb exploded in Kabul on Monday, wounding seven Afghans but missing its target — a vehicle carrying soldiers of the NATO-led peacekeeping force, police and officials said.

In a separate incident, six civilians were killed and six wounded when their minibus hit a land mine on Sunday in the remote western province of Nimroz, which borders Iran and Pakistan.

The Kabul bomb, fixed to a bicycle parked beside the main road going east from the city, exploded after the NATO vehicle had passed by but blasted a following taxi, wounding five people in the taxi and two passersby, district police chief Mohammad Kabar told Reuters.

In other news, security in Iraq still sucks.

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up Monday in a crowd of police officers south of Baghdad, killing up to 30 people and wounding dozens, and an Iraqi aircraft with four Americans and an Iraqi on board crashed in eastern Iraq. Also Monday, U.S. forces mistakenly detained a Sunni political leader on the second day of an Iraqi-led security sweep in the capital.

It’s not that I don’t sympathize with the hardcore war supporters at times. I’d like to jump up and down this Memorial Day and talk about how great it all is, how we’re part of an epic struggle just like in Final Fantasy 7 and how we’re totally gonna kick ass. That’s a nice place to live. It seems pleasant there and I can see what attracts them to such a spot and makes them want to stay.

The trouble is that reality keeps intruding. Maybe we need to send away for whatever it is they install that keeps that pesky stuff out.

A.

Support our troops – links to organizations that do

Perrspectives has provided an incredible resource for anyone who wants to support our troops. There is an entire page of links to organizations that will help you honor the fallen, help the wounded, make donations to the troops and their families, provide scholarships for the children of our military and just about anything else you can imagine.

Memoriam

Names. Places. Families, stories, from news reports, fathers and daughters and mothers and sisters and wives. Husbands. Read. The A’s alone take up six screens.

There is a cure for love. It is absence. There is a cure

for grief. (It is absence.) I cannot say

you died, and I don’t want to live today.

I fed my child. I learned to drive a car.

I went to work. The baby is in bed.

This is a formula I used before.

(I ate a veal chop.) Word, word, word: the cure

for hard nights. Somebody was always dead,

but not, certainly, you. You rattled speed-

ing, seven-thirty, through the door.

awash with daffodils. Did I stay

up all night drawing the bowl of fruit? I did.

And then we went to bed and slept till four.

You kept the drawing when I went away.

–Marilyn Hacker, “Geographer”

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Looking for a place to party this fine Memorial Day?

Try the Vatican.

Free beer for everybody with the purchase of one rosary.

You know, I really like Harp, if any of you want to send 185 gallons of that to my house just because you love me.

Via The Pope’s Blog.

A.

“Now, it is always amusing to see a Jewish American journalist speak in the nam

I found a wonderful post up at Riverbend’s blog, Baghdad Burning:

Someone (thank you N.C.) emailed me Thomas L. Friedman’s article in the New York Times 10 days ago about Quran desecration titled “Outrage and Silence”.
In the article he talks about how people in the Muslim world went out and demonstrated against Quran desecration but are silent about the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis in the last few weeks due to bombings and suicide attacks.
In one paragraph he says,
“Yet these mass murders – this desecration and dismemberment of real Muslims by other Muslims – have not prompted a single protest march anywhere in the Muslim world. And I have not read of a single fatwa issued by any Muslim cleric outside Iraq condemning these indiscriminate mass murders of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds by these jihadist suicide bombers, many of whom, according to a Washington Post report, are coming from Saudi Arabia.”
First of all- it’s not only Kurds or Shia who are dying due to car bombs. When a car detonates in the middle of a soug or near a mosque, it does not seek out only Shia or Kurdish people amongst the multitude. Bombs do not discriminate between the young and the old, male and female or ethnicities and religious sects- no matter what your government tells you about how smart they are. Furthermore, they are going off everywhere-… not just in Shia or Kurdish provinces. They seem to be everywhere lately.
One thing I found particularly amusing about the article- and outrageous all at once-was in the following paragraph:
“Religiously, if you want to know how the Sunni Arab world views a Shiite’s being elected leader of Iraq, for the first time ever, think about how whites in Alabama would have felt about a black governor’s being installed there in 1920. Some Sunnis do not think Shiites are authentic Muslims, and they are indifferent to their brutalization.”
Now, it is always amusing to see a Jewish American journalist speak in the name of Sunni Arabs. When Sunni Arabs, at this point, hesitate to speak in a representative way about other Sunni Arabs, it is nice to know Thomas L. Friedman feels he can sum up the feelings of the “Sunni Arab world” in so many words. His arrogance is exceptional.
It is outrageous because for many people, this isn’t about Sunnis and Shia or Arabs and Kurds. It’s about an occupation and about people feeling that they do not have real representation. We have a government that needs to hide behind kilometers of barbed wire and meters and meters of concrete- and it’s not because they are Shia or Kurdish or Sunni Arab- it’s because they blatantly supported, and continue to support, an occupation that has led to death and chaos.

[snip…]

There’s much more, and it’s all pleasurable. Riverbend takes Friedman apart piece by piece.

More Like Dozens Of Good Things

Now that I’m done catching my breath after laughing so hard I fell off my chair reading the entry on “O” magazine, I have to ask:

Where has this blog been all my life?

Section Three we didn’t do because the kids were around and all the simpering I was doing had the odd effect of making me not want to be a pricktease for half an hour before letting him fuck me, as per W. Cameron Bruce’s instructions. However, if you choose to go this route, it is important to be totally submissive in bed. W. Cameron Bruce is concerned that Steve might think I’m easy. I don’t want Steve to think I’m easy, so I’m hoping he’s forgotten the times he saw my vagina dialated to ten centimeters. I’m so embarrassed about not wanting to keep my legs closed then. I hope he doesn’t think passing another man out my birth canal is slutty. Bruce mentions the importance of always letting the man initiate sex at least twice, so I guess blowjobs are out from now on, as that might be too much activity on my part. But as I said, after all this bowing, scraping, and slimy manipulation, I really didn’t want to do anything but lie on my back and think of that old Nastase/Connors tennis match from the 1976 U.S. Open, anyway.

I want this girl to come over so we can have drinks.

A.

Memento Mori

It has been a peculiarly fitting start to the Memorial Day weekend for me. A relative died last week, and it turns out I am his closest living relative. Even though my cousin is the deceased’s heir, and even has a Durable Power of Attorney, the mortuary insisted that I fax an affidavit authorizing them to cremate the remains and release them to her. While I was working on that situation, I got a telephone call from a woman I haven’t talked to in a very long time. A very very long time. We talked a lot about our parents’ deaths, and the deaths of others we had both known, and the impending death of a mutual friend, which had prompted the call. It was totally unexpected. The mortuary’s request was unexpected, but both in the same morning – messages from deep in my past on a weekend that is dedicated to the past and the dead who inhabit it – that’s a flashback in progress.
So I’ve been thinking about the 60’s, and I’ve been thinking about Vietnam. It’s the only war I know of in our history that has turned its veterans against each other. I wish the pro-war and anti-war vets could find some middle ground. Maybe they could meet where the issue is the miserable treatment this administration gives our veterans. But, then again, to judge by the SwiftLiars, maybe not.
It was a dishonest war. It was unjust war. But it was fought by guys I knew, and some of them I cared about. It should be easy to understand that someone who is a good person can nevertheless be a soldier in a bad war. There can never have been wars in which that was not so.
So I am listening to it rain (and the ceiling drip) and thinking about some really nice guys I knew who went off. I thought about one in particular. Then I thought about his family. They came completely apart shortly after he was killed. It all ended very sadly, they are all gone. So I don’t know who else is around to remember, but I hope he knows somehow, that I do. Rest in peace, Freddie, And thank you.

The SpongeDob Republicans and John McCain

from Smirkingchimp, we find that McCain is the target of much anger from the religious right:

Christian fundies vow revenge on Democrats and McCain for judicial compromise
By Kevin Eckstrom & Adelle M. Banks, The Ledger
WASHINGTON — Richard Land, James Dobson and Paul Weyrich are angry — angry at “activist” judges who they say are legislating from the bench, angry at Democrats who try to derail judicial nominations and angry at Republicans who are allowing the filibuster to survive.
But these leaders of the Christian right reserve a special anger for Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who helped broker a compromise on judicial nominees with seven Democrats and six other Republicans.
McCain can “forget about his presidential ambitions” in 2008, said Weyrich, co-founder of the now-defunct Moral Majority and president of the Washington-based Free Congress Foundation.
McCain, a longtime nemesis of religious conservatives, wasn’t the only lawmaker threatened with retribution.
“Trust me,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “Conservatives know who to blame, and they will have an opportunity to express their feelings in the primaries of 2008.”

The reason the story jumped out at me is because during just this last week, I’ve suddenly noticed that John McCain is everywhere. There is a profile of him in the May 30 New Yorker. In that same magazine, there is a full page ad for an A&E production, called Faith of my Fathers, which is a feature length film based on McCain’s experiences in Vietnam. It’s pretty damned obvious that McCain intends to run for the presidency in ’08. As far as I can tell right now, with the Religious Right working against him, the only way McCain can win is if he courts moderate Democratic voters. It’s way too soon to know just exactly what that will mean for Progressive Democrats, but as much as I think we shouldn’t be overly concerned with the ’08 presidential race right now – with the chance to retake the majority in Congress in ’06 staring us in the face – we can’t just ignore McCain, either.
One candidate who strikes me as being possibly a good person to run against McCain, is Wesley Clark. One candidate who strikes me as being possibly one of the worst to run against McCain, is Hillary Clinton. I like Senator Clinton, and there are people I can think of who I think she could beat. But I don’t think she would stand a chance against McCain. I’m curious what you think.

Two more reasons bloggers need ethics guidelines NOW

One.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk has dropped a popular syndicated car column that was the subject of complaints by local auto dealers.

It’s “Click and Clack Talk Cars” by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, who appear in more than 300 newspapers via King Features Syndicate.

After E&P was tipped off to the cancellation, a reporter called Alecia Swasy, a deputy managing editor at The Virginian-Pilot. She said “the newsroom wasn’t consulted” about the dropping of “Click and Clack,” and referred E&P Online to Dee Carpenter, the paper’s president and publisher.

Carpenter confirmed the cancellation, and said several local auto dealers — and he himself — had been bothered by the “irreverent” car column at the times it “went over the top” during the past couple of years. “Sometimes it’s very funny, and sometimes it isn’t,” said Carpenter. But the president/publisher emphasized that the key to the dropping decision was that the column appeared in an advertiser-supported automotive section (running every Friday in The Virginian-Pilot) that’s basically produced for car dealers.

Basically produced for car dealers or expressly produced for car dealers? There’s a big effing difference, mainly because every section of a newspaper is supported by advertisers. “The section’s usually a journalistically worthless exercise in sucking up anyway” is a pretty piss-poor excuse for killing something readers enjoyed.

Two.

Newsday says the number of dumped Newsday Food Extra sections from May 21 represented “a tiny, tiny fraction” of the 600,000 circulars delivered. A Newsday agent tells Mark Harrington that despite a crackdown on paper dumping, certain realities will always tempt low-paid carriers. Higher gasoline prices have reduced the pool of people willing to deliver papers, especially the lower-paying free circulars, says the agent

It’s called fraud, actually. If you tell your advertisers they’re appearing in something and it’s going to be distributed in a certain area, and then it’s not, you owe them whatever they paid you for the service you didn’t provide.

Look, over there! The Internet is killing journalism!

Both items via Romenesko, which even while on holiday is a smorgasbord of dumbassery and whining.

A.

Conservatives I Could Have Drinks With

John Cole.

Downloading pirated software and movies is a crime, but it is not terrorism, and only the broadest and most misguided and deranged reading of their mission statement would lead someone to conclude that downloading pirated movies would be a concern of theirs. Sadly, deranged and misguided is what I have come to expect. You want to protect commerce- how about working on the shipping containers issues.

So, remember. Don’t download movies, or the terrorists win. Un-friggin-believable. Or is it?

And before you ask, yes, I am shrill. Just seeing the Department of Homeland Security even MENTIONED in that story send my blood pressure through the damned roof.

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Worst. Blog. Ever.

Here’s what the problem is with newspapers establishing blogs.

They suck.

Whining about traffic in the city? Check. Posting pictures of yourself as an urban poseur in Bono sunglasses? Check. Talking about “Friends,” reality TV, celebrity dating and other critically under-covered facets of American culture? Check. And yawn.

Living in Chicago, there’s a lot of Chicago blogs I read. Gaper’s Block. Archpundit for local politics. The Redhead Papers. Truth Girl. And the Chicago Tribune has a couple that don’t completely make a funnel noise. I love Charlie Madigan, and Eric Zorn is much funnier and less willing to take crap from people on his blog than he is in his columns.

There’s a reason why all those bloggers are good. They can write. Especially Madigan, who has cred as a writer and editor on his own, and Redhead’s Erin, who’s funny and bitchy and unabashedly mean to the large contingent of stupid living in this fair city of ours. These bloggers can write and they also offer me something different, observations I can’t get from the deliberately Middle of the Suburban Strip Mall paper and the wit and wisdom of Entertainment Tonight.

The Daily Herald is a local suburban paper and they do some good stories, but they’re not using this blog to promote those stories or add to them in any way. They sent a reporter to India a while back to report on immigration from there to the north ‘burbs; a good blog would contain things like “why we did this story” or a travelogue from the reporter to supplement the story. It would be unique to the paper itself, rather than being something I could get anywhere: A bunch of twentysomethings blathering on about sports and pop stars and traffic and (unlike Erin, who covers some of the same territory) not even being very funny about it.

This thing reminds me of the latter days of the dot-com boom, when people were getting venture capital to start up things like portals for breakfast cereal and places to order pet food online. It’s a use of the medium that takes the least possible advantage of all its benefits. It’s a blog so the paper can say it has a blog, not because there’s anything to say.

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