Monday, February 28, 2005

As Above, So Below

Check out Memeorandum, a site new to me that's a sort of aggregator/Reader's Digest information vector (kind of like The Daou Report without the commercial-viewing tolls). Sure, you can get all the usual depressing sturm und drang of the daily press and blogs, but you also get things like this: a funny, moving little science piece from The TimesOnline about the hidden life of livestock.
"Once they were a byword for mindless docility. But cows have a secret mental life in which they bear grudges, nurture friendships and become excited over intellectual challenges, scientists have found.
Cows are also capable of feeling strong emotions such as pain, fear and even anxiety — they worry about the future...
The findings have emerged from studies of farm animals that have found similar traits in pigs, goats, chickens and other livestock. They suggest that such animals may be so emotionally similar to humans that welfare laws need to be rethought."
Anyone who has ever lived with animals can tell you how complex their emotional behavior is, and how similar to humans. Even scientists themselves are very close to us in this respect.
"John Webster, professor of animal husbandry at Bristol, has just published a book on the topic, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden. “People have assumed that intelligence is linked to the ability to suffer and that because animals have smaller brains they suffer less than humans. That is a pathetic piece of logic,” he said.
Webster and his colleagues have documented how cows within a herd form smaller friendship groups of between two and four animals with whom they spend most of their time, often grooming and licking each other. They will also dislike other cows and can bear grudges for months or years."
I love the thought of little bovine cliques in the pasture, the girls just hanging out, doing each others' hair and dissing the bitches. Don't even get started about the sex.
"The assumption that farm animals cannot suffer from conditions that would be considered intolerable for humans is partly based on the idea that they are less intelligent than people and have no “sense of self”.
Increasingly, however, research reveals this to be untrue. Keith Kendrick, professor of neurobiology at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, has found that even sheep are far more complex than realised and can remember 50 ovine faces — even in profile. They can recognise another sheep after a year apart.
Kendrick has also described how sheep can form strong affections for particular humans, becoming depressed by long separations and greeting them enthusiastically even after three years."
I'm the same way, myself.

The Culture of Half-Life

Via Project For The Old American Century, David Swanson at Rolling Stone has a choice bit on the House approval of Bush's new FCC bill raising the maximum fines for obstreperous behavior on the air to half a million dollars. The fines are now so high that comparisons become absurd:
"If the bill passes the Senate, Bono saying "fucking brilliant" on the air would carry the exact same penalty as illegally testing pesticides on human subjects. And for the price of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl, you could cause the wrongful death of an elderly patient in a nursing home and still have enough money left to create dangerous mishaps at two nuclear reactors."
What would you pay NOW?!?

Kind of gives you a barometer of the worth of a human being in this brave new "Culture of Life" world of George's, doesn't it?

Jesus, times are strange.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Another Day In Paradise

Tom Delay, who is surely one of the most corrupt moral imbeciles to have graced the hallowed halls of Congress in my lifetime, and whose ethical violations continue to multiply unchecked, helped Michael Simpson [R-ID} introduce HR 211 on January 4, 2005, a bill whose intent is to destroy the liberal Ninth District Court, to wit:
"Ninth Circuit Judgeship and Reorganization Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal judicial code to divide the Ninth Judicial Circuit into the Ninth Circuit (to be composed of California, Guam, Hawaii, and the Northern Mariana Islands), the Twelfth Circuit (to be composed of Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana), and Thirteenth Circuit (to be composed of Alaska, Oregon, and Washington State).

Requires the President to appoint five additional circuit judges for the new Ninth Circuit and two temporary judges for the former Ninth Circuit.

Specifies the locations where new circuits are to hold regular sessions.

Assigns active circuit judges of the former Ninth Circuit to the new circuits. Allows senior circuit judges of the former Ninth Circuit to elect assignment.

Specifies the disposition of cases pending in the former Ninth Circuit before the effective date of this Act as follows: (1) proceedings in matters that have been submitted for decision shall continue without regard to this Act; (2) matters not yet submitted for decision must be transferred to the court to which they would have been submitted under this Act; and (3) proceedings on petitions for rehearing or rehearing en banc that have been submitted or decided shall continue without regard to this Act.

Authorizes the temporary assignment of circuit and district judges of the former Ninth Circuit among the new circuits. Authorizes administrative coordination among any two contiguous new circuits.

Directs that the former Ninth Circuit shall cease to exist for administrative purposes two years after enactment of this Act."
You don't need me to tell you that the effect of such a bill, should it succeed, would be to essentially eliminate any recourse for liberal causes at the Federal level, as it would divide into smaller and more conservative districts and offer Bush the chance to fill the newly-made courts with judges more to his cronies' likings. Will the Democrats step up to the plate and take this on, or make a lot of noise and then let it slide on through? I doubt we can afford to leave it up to them, given their track record in the last few months. If you care at all about this, it's crucial to contact your representatives and let them know how you feel.

Update: For your reading pleasure, from correspondence I sent out about the Ninth Circuit and why it matters--
"It wouldn't eliminate ALL recourse...I was being dramatic. But it would certainly have a huge impact, possibly almost as great as if Bush were to appoint a couple more Supreme Court justices. Each Circuit has its own personality due to the judges appointed there. The Ninth is by far the most liberal (though not always) and has been responsible for some important opinions and reversals that have driven the Bush people mad with frustration....the Oregon Death with Dignity Act that Ashcroft tried to overrule, the medical marijuana laws in California, the attempt by Bush's admin scientists to warp studies on behalf of the timber industry , overturned rulings that originally favored industry over environment , and on and on. They are the jurists most often referred to by the right as "activist judges", and their decisions are most often overturned by the current Supreme Court.
Their website is here, and you can read more about the concept of the breakup here."

Thanks especially to the wonderful site, and to Joshua Tauberer, the young man who was responsible for compiling the site and tracking the information. Bookmark the page.

Hacked By Fairies

Good God. I awake this morning to find that the changes I made to the template that were so evident yesterday have disappeared entirely in Windows Explorer, but in Firefox/Mozilla everything has shifted to the left. I can't think about serious things with this mystery hanging over my head.

Damn. I want a new format.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

And Next We Can Bring Back Bear-Baiting

Just posted at American Street, this piece on boxing inspired by Benjamin Wallace-Wells' article at The Washington Monthly, "Battered Women".

Setbacks And FlashBacks

Juan Cole has a good observation on the condition of women in Iraq right now:
"Amnesty International reports that the women of Iraq have suffered substantial setbacks in their rights since the US invasion, and live in a condition of dire insecurity.
The suggestion by some that the guarantee of 1/3 of seats in the Iraqi parliament to women might make up for the situation described by Amnesty is of course absurd. Iraq is not the first country to have such a quota. It was put into effect in Pakistan by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The move was meant to weaken Muslim fundamentalists, on the theory that women members of parliament would object to extreme patriarchy on the Khomeini or Taliban model. In fact, the Jama'at-i Islami, the main fundamentalist party in Pakistan, was perfectly capable of finding women to represent it in parliament. (US readers should remember Phyllis Schlafly!) Moreover, the 1/3 of MPs who are women can fairly easily be outvoted by the men.
If the Republican Party in the US is so proud of putting in such a quota for Iraq, they should think seriously about
applying it in the United States Congress.
' . . . there are larger disparities between the Congress and the general citizenry in term of sex and race. In the House, there are currently 372 men and 63 women. In the Senate, there are 14 women and 86 men. '
Might not the US be a better country if there were 33 women senators and more like 120 congresswomen? If your answer is that it wouldn't matter, then you cannot very well insist that it does matter in Iraq. If you think it would be important, then if you support it in Iraq you should support it in the United States. "
They could have seen this coming a long way off if they hadn't applied the same blinders to the issue that they used so successfully when "planning" the invasion itself. But the sad truth is that the religious fundie base that supports Bush and his policies in Iraq not only doesn't care about the women there, but has an actual agenda to be furthered by the ramped-up oppression of women that will continue to grow as the Islamists increase power in the Bush-vetted and -approved government.

But, hey, change takes time. Don't forget what a great job we did of liberating the Afghani women. And those Kuwaitis whose freedom we fought for the first time around the Iraqi invasion cash cow, and how well that's worked out for women there. That was definitely a mission of mercy.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Caitlin Flanagan Is A Pain In My Ass

If you have sensitivities to mild disagreements, turn aside your head and cover those tender earbuds.

Because as much as I respect Eric Alterman and enjoy his site and writing, when it comes to women's issues I think he's a twit, and a twit who doesn't even try to understand what it must be like to be another sex (I refer specifically to his post today on the never-ending Susan Estrich saga).

He does get behind women who toe the male-perspective line, as evidenced by his affinity for Caitlin Flanagan, a blowhard overfed, overpaid little snot who can hold forth on the hypocrisies of her own class regarding, say, immigrant surrogate mothers, while at the same time displaying the most astonishing self-entitlement regarding what she ought to be able to expect from the world in the way of childcare from those same immigrants.

I don't understand it.

But I can throw things at it.

Aw, Jesus

Please don't let them be manipulated by this.
Please let people be able to think more than 2 moves ahead.

Twelve Angry Men & Women

The US District Court has evidently heard the rumours about my fine legal mind and perceptive analytical skills, and has kindly invited me to a discussion of same in their hallowed halls, perhaps to be followed by a lengthy experiment in civic service. In any case I will be sans computer access for the day, and possibly Monday and beyond, if the fates ordain. So if nothing else, this will afford an opportunity for me to catch up on my Howard Zinn, which was supplanted as trainride reading for more than a week by a little pennydreadful I couldn't put down.

Onward to destiny. Posting resumes tomrrow, barring unforseen tragedies.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

What The Hell's The Matter With Kansas?

Try this.

Women---You Can't Live With 'Em

Since I've been branching out into the net and discovering some solidarity with my female cohorts, I thought it was only fitting that I post a little something tasty on women's issues, and this is it.

Russ Kick over at The Memory Hole has a recent link on the purging of inconvenient reports from the website of Bush's new and improved US Commission on Civil Rights. This is a follow-up to his Feb. 9 post, that broached the subject and put it into context. Twenty of these reports proved a tad uncomfortable to the Republican commissioners, and with titles like "Consequences of Government Race Data Collection Bans on Civil Rights", "Native American Health Care Disparities Briefing Summary ", and "Briefing on Tragedy Along the Arizona-Mexico Border: Undocumented Immigrants Face Death in the Desert", who can blame them? Fortunately, Russ mirrored them for the rest of us. (Get over there and make a contribution if you can--he provides an invaluable service to the cause of truth.)

Most interesting to me were the tidbits from the section of the report titled "Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration (September 2004)", which he describes as "truly rak(ing) Bush over the coals; when it was first posted in October, the Republican members of the Commission tried to have it taken down. It took them four months, but they've finally succeeded."

Deep into the bowels of the report on page 135 I found a section titled "Redefining Women's Issues, Undercutting Women's Rights" (ouch).
Some of the examples therein:

  • Closed the White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach (which) advocated on behalf of women’s issues and kept the President and his administration informed about women’s needs;
  • Attempted to close the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor…;
  • Abolished the Equal Pay Matters Initiative at DOL, an effort to achieve pay equity for women;
  • Repealed DOL regulations that allowed paid family leave through state unemployment compensation funds;
  • Weakened enforcement of job discrimination cases by the Department of Justice and abandoned several pending sex discrimination suits;
  • “Archived” guidance on sexual harassment in schools, no longer making it available to the public;
  • Proposed modifications to welfare laws that would impose stricter work requirements without increasing child care assistance; and
  • Appointed or nominated numerous individuals who oppose women’s rights.

It goes on to note that fact sheets on wage disparities between men and women have been rewritten to support the administration’s contention that the pay gap is a myth, and the HHS website excludes important scientific facts on human reproduction that conflict with Bushco’s religious base. The site is also required to promote abstinence-only instead of info on safe sex practices. And don’t even get started on Title IX, which gets its own section, “Title IX Under Attack.”

Add to this the Bush attack on contraception,reproduction info, and abortion, and whaddya got?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion

Yesterday my American Street post on Death with Dignity got a mention on Salon's The Daou Report. This is, as far as I know, at least the third time they've picked up one of my AS pieces, and I confess to feeling pretty good about it. Not that it seems to be doing much for my numbers here, but it gives me a warm feeling to think somebody who gets paid to do this stuff likes my work. I vowed when I started the site that I wasn't interested in an audience, only in giving myself a place to vent, and I wouldn't get pulled into the vortex of ego that so commonly swirls around a lot of blogging. But the sort of personality drawn to this is a natural communicator, and what's the point if you aren't...communicating?

Well, there it is. We now return you to your regular programming.

News Via The Island

Bush's whirlwind European tour seems to have had less than spectacular results, though he evidently felt it went swimmingly. And after all, it what he thinks that counts, doesn't it?

Al-Jafaari's poised to take on the role of prime minister of Iraq, and making noises that sound dangerously purge-like:
"In a press conference on Tuesday Mr Jaafari indicated he was likely to take a hard line on the issue, saying current efforts for "de-Ba'athification" in Iraq would continue.
A US official said he hoped that the effort to rid government of Ba'athists would not turn into a witch hunt that might hamper national reconciliation"
If that happens, we're likely to see an intensification of civil war (that's right, let's start calling it was it really is) that could lead to endless excuses for miring US troops in Iraq for years more (IMHO).
Update: It's a cat-fight!

Meanwhile, back in Hollywood, the Right is still obssessing over Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby and its ending, bemoaning how the main character, requesting to be put out of her misery after becoming paralyzed, represents the embracing of death by the left. Poor Clint. This is how liberals are made.

A curious aside, and possible peek into the future for Americans: in England a new credit card with an interest rate of 70% is being targeted at the poor. Why has it taken those entrepreneurial minds at Chase so long to get on board with this? After all, people in America are getting rich so fast under Bush's policies that soon there won't be any undeserving poor left to gouge. Right?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

My First Cat-Blog

I was adopted as a featured blogger by Morgaine over at What She Said. Thanks Morgaine!
This will be a busy day, and I posted a massive piece over at American Street today, so all you get are my kids, the siblings of the storm:

Leo Xmas '02Leo

Lucy Returned  8/02 Lucy

These two came to us in July of 2001 as 3 week old babies, abandoned by their mom's owner. We fed them by bottle round the clock, and had to wean them and teach them to use a litter box (their first one was a disposable 8 by 8 inch cake pan). Leo nearly died while still tiny, unable to keep food down, and Lucy was lost for a month just before her 2nd birthday, coming back to us after we made daily forays into the neighborhood searching desperately for her. We have bonded to them way too much.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Like Nothing You'll See Here

NPR's Day ToDay show did a fascinating piece Friday, the 18th, on the making of an upcoming British TV show, The Guantanamo Guidebook, in which one-time American interrogators subject volunteers to the same techniques suffered by real, live prisoners. And guess what? The subjects felt as if they were being tortured!

And, in more mundane, yet weirder news,
rodriguez Richard Rodriguez just did a piece on The News Hour
on the bisexuality (or was it gayness?) of
prod_657_s Abraham Lincoln, who evidently had a 4 year long affair with at least one young stripling. (Doubt they'll be rushing to re-print the textooks on this one.) What was even stranger was that Rodriguez himself was referring to his own gayness, and I, who watch this show all the time, knew nothing about it.

I really need to pay more attention.

Santorum Alert

Rick's on a whirlwind tour of PA to flak for Bushco's war on old people. If you're in the Philly area and have the time, you can join up with the Philly For Change folks and help expose him to an alternate view of the universe at Drexel tomorrow:
"Sen. Rich Santorum is on tour of college campuses to promote
his privatizing of Social Security proposal. Defenders of
Social Security will be on hand to offer counter arguments to
his ideologically-charged diatribes against Social Security. We
will also have an informational picket walking outside the
auditorium. Join us at Drexel University's Creese Student
Center, 3210 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, from 9:30: to 11:30"
Go here and RSVP.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

While You Were Otherwise Engaged

Though you won't find it on their website, the new edition of Harper's has a Lewis Lapham essay, "Democracyland", that is a must-read. Pick it up at your newsstand if you don't a have a subscription. Sad, elegant, and full of sardonic outrage as usual, Lapham lays out the current state of the Democrats as opposition party today...that is, they aren't much of one. Given the runaway theft of representational government by the Republicans, including vote-jiggling, gerrymandering, rules-changing, and sheer non-responsiveness, Lapham hoped there might be a chance that Democrats might stand up and fight back, on behalf of their disenfranchised consituencies if for no other reason. Yet after speaking with a number of Democrats whose stances in the media he has admired, he reports how helpless they themselves feel:
"None of the four respondents (Waxman, Pelosi, Dorgan & Markey) quarreled with the observation that what was now at risk in the 109th Congress was nothing more nor less than the principle of democratic government...what was surprising was both their sense of ineffectualness and their agreement as to the obstacles standing in the way of the animated debate that I'd been pleased to think possible when talking to myself in New York."
The four then run down their grievances: strong-arm methods of pushing through laws and amendments to laws, lockouts of Democrats from chambered considerations of upcoming bills, lack of due process, refusals to reply to requests for information, refusal to grant power of enforcement to Democratic committees seeking evidence of malfeasance against Republican sweethearts like Halliburton. They moan that the Bushco stable does as it pleases, at its own whim, and Markey says, "They wish to wipe us out."

What does this mean for the almost 50% of voters who voted against Bush and his policies? It means that we have been frozen out of the running of our own government, and that those of us with Democratic representatives have no more say in what happens in our country now than the Canadians do. It means the Democrats, who we rely on to keep our concerns out front, are throwing in the towel, and not even giving us the favor of a notification of this dereliction. Instead of shouting out this outrage from the rooftops, and enlisting the people who voted for them to rise up and pay attention, the Dems have slunk off into a corner to lick their wounds and wait patiently for the next election cycle. We have been cut off, set adrift, and told "Good luck with that."

Lapham goes on to describe the shameful spectacle of the Gonzales confirmation, and the impotent show of concern made by the Dems before most of them held their noses and went along to get along:
"Nor did the Democratic members of the committee hold (Gonzales) accountable either to the facts or to the tests of scorn and ridicule. Senator Edward Kennedy and Patrick Leahy expressed concern, even tried to make sense of the bowdlerized record, but neither of them was willing to risk their depleted store of political capital on a bet already lost."
As The Rude Pundit pointed out in an earlier post, the administration minions have gotten used to having their way and to behaving with the droit du seigneur of feudal lords when dealing with the likes of us. Rumsfeld gets up in the middle of a hearing, refuses to answer further questions, and goes for lunch. Instead of providing the public a truthful headline on this outrage, which would read something like, "Rumsfeld to America: Go Fuck Yourself", his behavior is described by MSNBC as "gruff". The media colludes, the Democrats cringe, and the rest of us lose our constitutional right to representational government. Lapham goes on:
"Or, in plainer language, power is as power does, and if it's accountable to no law other than its own, well then dear reader, at least you've seen the pictures and heard a government spokesman say that America never tells a lie. What else do you expect?...Maybe a souvenir. Something to remind me of what was once a great republic before it lost the war of else to interpret the practice of torture as state policy, the nervous habit of official secrecy, the military entrenchments around the Supreme Court and the Capitol?"
We've been focusing on the little battles and lost the scope of the war. We are losing our right to representation. How will we get it back?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Your Weekend Read

If you read nothing else this weekend (other than this humble blog), you owe it to yourself to download and read The Century Foundation's pamphlet, "The Basics: Social Security Reform". Although it's about 58 pages long, it's a very quick read, and it's a source of factual and easy to understand information like you'll find nowhere else on the internet or in print. You will learn everything you need to know to arm yourself when the SS vultures come around trying to wheedle you into buying their transparent ploy to scare you into the meat grinder that's going to feed their Wall Street pals.

Then send a copy to your representatives.

A Tale of Two City-States

Another Country Heard From

Iraq's oil workers banded together after the fall of Baghdad and formed a union. Less than impressed with our attempts to re-make their government, they now invite us to take our leave:
"When the occupation troops stood back and allowed Basra's hospitals, universities and public services to be burned and looted, while they defended only the oil ministry and oilfields, we knew we were dealing with a brutal force prepared to impose its will without regard for human suffering. From the beginning, we were left in no doubt that the US and its allies had come to take control of our oil resources...
The occupation has deliberately fomented a sectarian division of Sunni and Shia. We never knew this sort of division before. Our families intermarried, we lived and worked together...
Bush and Blair should remember that those who voted in last month's elections in Iraq are as hostile to the occupation as those who boycotted them. Those who claim to represent the Iraqi working class while calling for the occupation to stay a bit longer, due to "fears of civil war", are in fact speaking only for themselves and the minority of Iraqis whose interests are dependent on the occupation.
We as a union call for the withdrawal of foreign occupation forces and their military bases. We don't want a timetable - this is a stalling tactic. We will solve our own problems. We are Iraqis, we know our country and we can take care of ourselves. We have the means, the skills and resources to rebuild and create our own democratic society."
Read the whole thing for a perspective that has been utterly absent from the news stories we're fed,including how KBR tried to force out Iraqi workers to make way for foreigners, and how Bremer tried to enforce a rule paying them $35 a day while paying foreign mercenaries up to $1000 per day.
And then read Riverbend's latest, to get it from a woman's-eye view, also usually missing from the MSM.
Good times, eh?

This Land Isn't Your Land

This land belongs to the millionaires. At least according to Brooksie, who today turns his keen hindsight on the scandals of Medicare and the proposed changes to Social Security. Dave's feeling a tad shrill about the Republican government's lack of fiscal restraint, having been taken aback by the revelations of the large amounts of money tha will need to be thrown at these programs in order to facilitate their transformation into Bush's Ownership Society poster children---amounts heretofore undreamt of by good little Heritage Foundation shills but pretty well guessed at by those of us who've been conscious for the last couple years. And what does he think will save the American people? Well, a strong leader of firm moral fiber and the ability to mobilize their outrage. And where might we look for such a one? Not from the common clay, that's for sure:
"There's going to be another Ross Perot, and this time he's going to be younger. There's going to be a millionaire rising out of the country somewhere and he (or she) is going to lead a movement of people who are worried about federal deficits, who are offended by the horrendous burden seniors are placing on the young and who are disgusted by a legislative process that sometimes suggests that the government has lost all capacity for self-control."
He never explains---but why should he start now?---why he thinks this paragon is going to come from the caviar class (or for that matter, why he has to be "younger"). My guess is that for David, as for most other Americans these days, the rich have become the ruling aristocracy, and there's no reason to expect that anyone with less modest means could get the public's ear, much less get elected. We don't even question this assumption anymore. Oh, sure, there's the mandatory railing against candidates who have too much money, but that's just a complaint that they're giving the appearance of being too snooty (too French, too educated, too whatever the adjective-of -the-month is). We even cling to our illusions that the millionaires we do elect are just plain folks, risen up out of the laboring masses with dirt under their fingernails and the fumes of the mill on their breath. The self-made myth. Our schizophrenia about this couldn't be more clearly evoked than in Brooks' op-ed, whose subtext is, "Don't look for someone to save you amongst yourselves. You can't do it, you don't have the money or the smarts. Just wait there like good little workers until your next messiah comes down from Mount National Bank." Unlike the Iraqi oil workers in the story above, ordinary Americans couldn't possibly be expected to take on the problems of their own nation without a trust fund and a dynasty or two in their pedigrees.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me

Atkins is out. Gimme a pizza, champagne, chocolate, and macaroni and cheese.
For tomorrow we die.

I Got Your Culture of Life Right Here

Your FDA At Work

Remember Vioxx? Even though it's been in the news a lot the last few months, you may not have paid much attention, unless you were a family member or friend of one of the 27,000 who died from taking the drug. At some point this carnage began to sink in, and Merck pulled the plug on the study. And the last few days a panel has been convened to make a recommendation to the FDA on the fate of Vioxx and other cox-2 inhibitors like Bextra and Celebrex, which have also been shown to increase risk of deaths. And Merck is now implying that, since other similar drugs also seem to cause the same problems, it may just reconsider and put the drug back on the market. This is like saying, well, even though this child's toy I manufacture has been found to cause thousands of deaths, I'm going to keep selling it, since similar toys made by other manufacturers also kill.
The problem is that these drugs don't even do the thing they were made to do--alleviate pain--any better than older, safer drugs. Their improvement was supposed to be that they are less likely to cause ulcers. Thus the panel members, along with Merck, are weighing the merits of getting an ulcer as opposed to becoming a drooling stroke victim or cemetery fertilizer. Gee. Which would YOU choose? (And Merck can't even say for certain that you won't contract ulcers when using Vioxx, so even that advantage seems questionable.)

Of course, this is all pretty much window dressing, since the FDA, especially under Bush, has shown no inclination to step in and actually protect public safety. But just in case, don't put it past them to invoke that tried-and-true bogey, the War on Terra, to stop the argument and keep the drug out there:
"Dr. Christopher Grubb, a captain in the Army Medical Corps, said soldiers in the 82nd Airborne were required to carry a cox-2 drug in the event of a battlefield injury. Dr . Grubb said the drugs had allowed many soldiers who otherwise would have been sidelined by pain to be deployed overseas.
The drugs, he said, "are essential for our global war on terrorism." The comment prompted loud laughter in the meeting."
Yeah, I'm dying over here.

Update: FDA panel votes to let Celebrex can stay on the market. I'm betting this heralds the green light for Merck, too.

Update 2: FDA panel votes to let them ALL stay on the market. They'll take their advisory to the FDA, which can usually be counted on to follow such panel findings, except in the case of recommendations to allow women access to birth control. In this case however, as the beneficiaries of the recommendation are enormous campaign contributors rather than relatively penniless females, I'm betting the Federal Drugmaker Acquiescers will follow the recommendation.

Heeeeeeere's Johnny!

Is there anyone who doubts this murdering blackguard will be a shoo-in for the new position of Intelligence Chief? Already the Republicans are creaming their sansabelts at the prospect:
"Negroponte's appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, called the two nominations "outstanding choices" and said confirmation hearings would begin as soon as Negroponte finished his job in Iraq."
Yes, if your definition of "outstanding" would include the facilitation and abetting of torture, murder, and disappearances.

Culture of Lies

It's all been said before, but the caliber of nominations and confirmations we've seen in Bush's high-level appointments for the last month give a solid definition of his concept of a "Culture of Life". After all, this is the man who tried to bury the 9/11 Commission under the appointment of Henry Chickenkisser, that noble icon of human rights. But hang on...perhaps the Culture of Life can be furthered by a few hundred thousand more regrettable but unavoidable sacrifices of foreigners and expendable Americans, safely far removed from these purple mountain majesties.
Don't worry. Our fearless dauphin will surely give it a try. Americans have not yet grown tired of killing and dying for lies.

Update: Thanks to The Progress Report, I've since read this story at the LATimes:
"Hundreds of Army Reserve and National Guard troops returning home after being wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone months without pay or medical benefits they were entitled to receive, military officials and government auditors said Thursday.
Because of a bureaucratic mistake, about 1,000 reservists and Guard members were removed from the active-duty rolls once home, even though their wounds entitled them to extended care, according to a Government Accountability Office study released Thursday."
That's right. A woman in premature labor turned away from a military hospital; a vet forced to move in with relatives after losing almost $4000 in missed pay; a soldier turned out of Walter Reed; many more. But try to get beyond the outrageousness of the specifics to what the existence of the problem actually implies:
"Defense officials and the GAO blamed the wartime crush of wounded part-time troops for overburdening a military health system that has not seen such an onslaught since World War II...
Daniel B. Denning, acting assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, said the influx of wounded was "loading our system like it hasn't been loaded since World War II."
"...Like it hasn't been loaded since World War II". The entire system has been failing, unable to provide vets with the most basic health care and financial benefits because more hurt soldiers are clogging the system than at any time in the last 70 years! When is the last time you heard anything on the surface news about the number of wounded coming back from Iraq? When did you last hear any numbers at all, much numbers you could trust? That's your Culture of Life.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Barbarians At The Gates

The Mainstream Editorial Cartoonists discover blogging. The revolution will be televized.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

For The Children...

Tuesday before I left I forgot to point you to my post on The American Street. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

C. Boyden Gray Does Not Make My Day

I'm back. No internet access. And after spending too much of the night hitting the buttons on my hotel TV's remote with the desperate frenzy of a lab rat pressing a lever for a hit of cocaine, I can tell you...I ain't missing anything. I don't have cable, and refuse to get it. I just can't bring myself to pay for television, no matter how good it is, but the eternally hopeful naif in me likes to sit down with it when I travel, just to see if I can find a gem out there. Then I'm almost always disappointed when I get to watch it, because it's not even that good. I can't stand the segmented niche marketing of it all, how they divide up the audience so that people have less and less common culture to unite them. How many networks for 18-24 year old female bisexual video-game-playing manga fans who like country music and diseases-of-the-week do we need? How much shopping can one person tolerate? If you're older than 22, you've lived long enough to see many of the recycled shows they run for the second or third time. If you're over 50, God help you, you can start thinking you got sucked into a time warp and spit out on your parents' floor in your jammies, begging to stay up long enough to finish watching Bonanza or Adventures in Paradise. The really good things, like The Sopranos, Jon Stewart, Oz, or Angels in America, aren't on enough to make up for all the dreck. And I can't bear to torture myself watching those self-important blowhards on the news shows spinning for their favorite commissars and treating their guests like gods or pond scum, just to write about how obnoxious and clueless they are (I know the blogworld is made up of lots of folks who do, and God bless you, you're a better man than I, Gunga Din).

In the end, it was a little of Animal Planet, a little Law and Order, some CNN Headline News, and, knowing I'd never make it to 11 to see Carnivale, I shut the whole damn thing off and read a book---"Demons", by John Shirley, a wonderfully loopy story with heavy liberal-nightmare political flavor. Read it, and see if you can locate the Dick Cheney character.

But on the way home this afternoon, listening to Terry Gross' Fresh Air, I had the dubious pleasure of being harangued by Boyden Gray's faux outrage about the filibuster stymie of Bush's judicial nominees. Such harrumphing and high dudgeon! The man tries to sound like William F. Buckley, but lacks the wit to pull it off, and comes off like a quibbling lawyerly shithead with Larchmont Lockjaw and a penchant for bullying his interviewer. I was flying through the pouring rain, yelling at my radio and wishing I had a keyboard.

Well now I do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Depends on Whose Life It Is

I'll be gone on work-related travel and may not be able to check in for a couple days. But I did want to note that Bushco, not content with having started one illegal war in the Mideast underpinned by a tissue of lying excuses, is casting about yet again for something to bomb.

Korea, having always looked too dangerous too approach (they might defend themselves!) is probably up for slow starvation now as the administration looks into sanctions. Remember all that drivel from Bush about how wrong it was that Kim Jong-Il was "starving his folks"? I guess it's ok if we do it, though. For humanitarian reasons.

Iran, easing their way toward some kind of accord with Western ideals through the influence of the internet on the massive number of young people there, isn't moving fast enough for Bush and Cheney, so sabers have been rattling their way now for some time.

And now Syria. Oh, Syria. Why not? We're already stretched too thin militarily, and keep digging ourselves into deeper and deeper debt, even without another war front. And anyway, it's not like the mass of Americans would have to sacrifice anything to take on another little country that can't defend itself against us. Certainly, given our laundered news media, we won't have to look the death and destruction in the face. And if it's all conducted via bombing missions, we can minimize even the deaths of our expendable troops!

So bring it on! This is the Culture of Life President! Remember?

Monday, February 14, 2005

And While We're On The Subject...

God, I love this red ink.

This is my perspective on
the Eason Jordan conflagration, and then I'm shutting up.

He seems to have
backed off his initial statement, whatever it was.
No one seems to have been able to produce a recording of the actual words he said (sacrilegious horrors though they must have been), but that hasn't stopped the right from getting on their high hobby-horses to go riding to the Children's Crusade that this whole mess has turned into. But frankly, the right has been trying to stick it to Jordan
long before this recent dust-up.

Every blessed remark that might even hint that American soldiers are not entirely saintly and free of malice gets twisted by office-chair generals into traitorous slander uttered by quislings who give aid and comfort to the Lord of the Flies and deserve exile, job-loss, blogpiling, and even death.

Well, the gist of the Jordan remarks were that journalists had been targeted by our troops, and that he was concerned to protect his people. Why is this hard to believe, given that "embedding" has become the approved government way to co-opt reporters, and that writers who try to remain independent may be seen as purveyors of unapproved and potentially negative publicity?

Reporters face tremendous dangers all over the world when they enter war zones. The deaths and injuries in Iraq have been particularly high (and not just because of kidnappers). As a response to dangers like these,
The Committee to Protect Journalists was formed in 1981 by foreign correspondents who wanted to defend the right of journalists to report the news "without fear of reprisals". They investigate reports of attacks on journalists, and advocate for and defend them. Their board is composed of an impressive group of newspeople, including Walter Cronkite, Ann Garrels, Anthony Lewis, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault. And as well as the rest of the world, they focus on Iraq.

CPJ's May 2003 report on the
American attack on the Palestine Hotel raised serious questions about the reasons given for the attack. It noted conflicting stories from the Captain responsible for the attack, that the Pentagon had not yet resolved at the time of the report. (Since then they have cleared themselves in spite of obvious inconsistencies). Two cameramen were killed and at least three others were injured. A number of journalists who were in the hotel at the time believed that it was a deliberate attempt to intimidate them.

And this happened the same day that the US fired on Al-Jazeera's offices, killing one of their people.

That was only the beginning.
Stories of growing hostility and even attacks on journalists by American troops kept coming, punctuated by the deaths of reporters and allegations of deliberate targeting. In March of last year Iraqi reporters demonstrated to protest the killings of two Al-Arabiya correspondents by US troops while Colin Powell was in Baghdad. Najaf reporters in August told stories of being threatened with attack if they didn't leave. Tragedies abound.

I can't help be suspicious that so much of this tempest-in-a-teapot has been engineered to paper over just this kind of background info. Not because it was never available to the public in the first place, but because the public has a convenient civic amnesia for things that are neither pounded into its collective brain like Coors commercials, nor fit into its tiny comfort zone.

But a good tar and feathering, now...

Happy Valentine's Day Massacre

So much stuff out there these last couple weeks---those sweethearts of the media, Eason Jordan for the right, Jeff Gannon for the left---and the upshot of both of those here and here.

And don't forget, Iraq is still out there, folks, and
Al Capone has nuthin' on them.

It's hard to stay focused on one thing. But the folks in the UK aren't having any trouble right now.
Have a look, and see the future of the Republican neo-con "Ownership Society" dream for you and yours.

Love is a many-splendored thing, ain't it?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Shiite Majority Wins Most Votes In Iraq; Sun Expected To Rise At Dawn

As poputonian would say:

That Old "Secular Left"

Nick Kristof is ruminating today on the findings of geneticist Dean Hamer, whose new book suggests that a particular human gene might be involved in a predisposition toward spirituality in the individual. What Hamer says is that this predisposition may be seen in along the entire spectrum of spiritual leanings expressed by human beings:
"The God gene refers to the idea that human spirituality has an innate genetic component to it. It doesn’t mean that there’s one gene that makes people believe in God, but it refers to the fact that humans inherit a predisposition to be spiritual--to reach out and look for a higher being."
He ends his interview at with this:
"...this idea of being "spiritual without being religious" gets clich├ęd a lot, but it’s true. They really are different aspects of human personality. Spirituality is a great thing. It gives people a connection to others and to the world around them; it’s a wonderful talent of human beings that can enrich our life.
But when it comes to religion, to me the important thing is that it’s not anything innate about humans. A lot of religious ideas aren’t here because they’re good for us—and probably they’re not here because that’s what God believed.
They’re just here because they’re ideas that replicate themselves easily. So they too can be changed: ideas like 'my religion is the only religion,' 'your religion is bad and you should die for it,' 'I’m going to heaven and you’re going to hell,' 'we should have a war because we don’t like your religion,' etc. They’re terrible ideas. They are very powerful but they’re not unchangeable. So that’s my long lesson one.
Lesson two is that I hope this book will make religion a little bit more respectable in academic circles. It used to be that academics was all about religion. Then, especially after World War II, religion became very unpopular in academic circles. It became very flaky to talk about religion at all, except in a religion department.
But in fact, it’s a very important part of people’s lives. It’s a lot more important to most people than evolution or nuclear physics or anything like that. People spend a lot of time on religion and praying and believing and it affects everything. I just hope that this sort of helps to reopen the the academic-scholarly scientific study of religion. It’s a very important part of our lives."
But what Kristof leads off with in his discussion of Hamer's book is a distortion of his message:
"...modern science is turning up a possible reason why the religious right is flourishing and secular liberals aren't: instinct. It turns out that our DNA may predispose humans toward religious faith.
Granted, that's not very encouraging news for the secular left."
No, I suppose it wouldn't be, if the "secular left" were all that American liberals consisted of, and if "secular" meant "not evangelical Protestant or born-again Christian", and if being religious meant only those things---a distinction that Kristof (along with too many people these days) seems to have difficulty making:
"But what the research does suggest is that postindustrial society will not easily leave religion behind. Faith may be quiescent in many circles these days, or directed toward meditation or yoga, but it is not something that humans can easily cast off."
Am I missing something? Aside from the obvious religious wars and skirmishes in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, the Gaza Strip, Nigeria, et al, that have been fought over the world for some time now, aside from how in our own country specific organized religions are being underwritten by tax dollars and pushed into every public venue from broadcasting & cable networks to local courthouses and school districts, aside from the survival of the Orthodox Church in Russia after 70 years of opresssion, aside from all that and more, I guess faith looks pretty quiescent, doesn't it?

Nick doesn't count the "meditation and yoga" part, even though Hamer himself includes it in his definition of the spirituality deriving from his "God gene", so he's also likely to close his eyes to the other alternate paths chosen by so many of the "secular left". That people who follow those alternate paths are not as likely to parade their faiths publicly or proseletyze for them makes them invisible to pollsters, pundits and politicians, and easy to dismiss as being insignificant in numbers, influence, or passion. But just because an American Buddhist, Wiccan, or unclassified seeker may be less likely to buttonhole strangers and demand a hearing for their way of seeing things, or more loathe to judge others or seek codification of their own intolerance, it doesn't mean they are less spiritual or worthy of consideration that the Southern Baptist Convention and James Dobson's minions. Though with writers like Kristof promulgating the myths above, it gets harder and harder for the left to see the spirituality in its own midst, brainwashed as it has become by the bullshit lines "secular left" and "moral values".

Finally, it's worth mentioning that Dr Hamer also happened to publish some research back in 1993 which demonstrated a genetic link passed from mothers to homosexual sons. It was challenged in 1995, spurring Hamer to repeat the study, and the results were the same--a genetic link amongst homosexual men not found in heterosexuals. I doubt this would sit very well with the gay-bashing religious right that may be eager to interpret Hamer's latest research as evidence of a biological vindication for their current ascendancy.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Now It's All One Big Theo-Industrial-Military-Government Indoctrination

No big long post here. Just a jaw-dropping link to one of the most transparently theological death fetish scams I've ever seen. Something to offend everyone, I'm sure. Take the time to read the entire thing, but be warned, the pix accompanying it are large.

Thanks to Metafilter (fantastic site, guys!), to amberglow who linked to it,and particularly to liminal, who put the story on his site, and locomono, who actually experienced the thing and took the pix.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Giant Steps Backward

Thanks to the obnoxious behavior of a handful of "Christians" with the self-righteous title Repent America, who gay-baited Philadelphia's "Outfest" event last October and thus ran afoul of Pennsylvania's Hate Crimes law, a bill is being introduced in the PA legislature to remove the protected class "sexual orientation" from the law.

A look at the proposed bill, HB 206, seems to indicate that not only would sexual orientation be removed, but also ancestry, mental or physical disability, and gender. (To read a bill, you need to know that anything in light brackets is being proposed for removal.) The names of the enlightened souls pushing this bit of bigoted time travel can be found at the top of the bill.

Michael Marcavage, one of the arrested and the founder of the group, is evidently quite a character, claiming Catholics who aren't born again will burn in hell, and having accosted a group of Catholics praying to Mary in a public place as "idolators". I suppose the religious freedom and first amendment rights his group claims to have been so violated by PA's hate crimes law only apply to Marcavage's particular brand of religion.

More proud moments for Pennsylvanians to reflect on in their old age.

To paraphrase Frank Zappa, Mother Mary and Joseph, why don't they all go away?

Outsourcing Our Morality

Problems with hardware and the end of the workweek mean more and better posts to come, but right now I have a new post up over at American Street that I want to call attention to, not because I'm such a smashing writer but because it links to the new Jane Mayer article at The New Yorker on America's increasing use of off-shore torture chambers.

Brought to you by the party of civil rights.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Mouth-Full-Of-Ashes Wednesday

I'm swamped with work and my IP has been hiccuping, so I haven't been able to do much on the net this week. But I want to remind all those folks freaking over the hard-heartedness of the Bushco Veg-O-Budget that you heard it here first: And here, and here, and here, too.

And while they're over in Big Medialand getting the vapors over the discovery that Bush's paper-pushers have cooked the books on the Medicare numbers (again), I would remind them that this is an administration that has so distorted the process of estimating the costs of its obssessions that to give any credence to anything that comes out of their mouths or off their printers would be the height of stupidity. And why, given the current buzz on the part of both media and Congress, weren't they this concerned back when Richard Foster was revealing how he'd been threatened with termination last year if he dared tell the truth about the actual costs of the proposed Medicare bill? I didn't see them falling all over themselves to investigate any White House wrongdoing back then. It was all buzz, buzz, outrage, blogpile, and then dead silence.

Ah, nuts.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Your Second Amendment Right to Kill Something

A man with two previous restraining orders against him who had been arrested twice for violating them, whose ex-wife (divorced for two years) had sought police protection four times, shoots and kills her at the corner of 57th and Madison in NYC in front of a crowd of people, shoots her fiance, then finally (these guys always get the order wrong) kills himself. The police, in blame-the-victim mode as usual when domestic violence issues are involved, called it "a triangle of romance and jealousy".

And in the same paper, David Brooks is bloviating in one of his patented social science research pieces on how the Democrats can't get a majority together because they're too educated, and look at how the Republicans woo those salt-of-the-earth folks the Dems ignore (read: the ignorant) through such paragons of class-busters as the NRA. Putting aside his argument, which sounds dangerously close to embracing yahooism and the class hatred of knoweldge, Dave is 2 steps behind, as usual, since over at The Hill, the NRA is crowing about Minority Leader Harry Reid's stance against gun control being "the last nail in gun control".)

Yes, we want the NRA to be our bellweather, those radical extremists who never met a reason they liked for withholding a weapon from the hands of any cracker with 2 nickels to put together for the price of a bullet. The NRA, whose fine work over the years has made it possible for people like the killer in the above story to get his hands on a gun in spite of a history of threats, assaults, and arrests. The NRA, who gets behind any 3 strikes law that get a guy life for stealing a video for his kid, but lets violent domestic predators torture and murder their women, and gives them 4 months in jail for the trouble.

The fact is, the powers that be in Washington rely on organizations like the NRA to act as a buffer for them against masses of people who are well-armed and could be potentially dangerous to the status quo if they were allowed to focus on anything other than the phantom possibility of having their weaponry stripped from their cold dead hands, a manipulation that has a long and well-sublimated history in this country since Revolutionary days. (See Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" on this.)

And you know what? Save the outraged letters. My husband has been a hunter for 30 years, we have 2 shotguns and a rifle in the house right now, and I have been on the target range with handguns and rifles any number of times in my life. We need fucking gun control in this country, because we are killing each other and nothing else we have done is working! And until we have it, as far as I'm concerned, the blood from every gun death in this country is on the collective hands of the NRA and all those fine, salt-of-the-earth people who support it. You know who you are. You're even proud of it.

How does it feel to be an accessory to murder?

Eat the Poor. Again.

When I saw this over at Tapped, I had to follow the link to the site of the report, and then I had to tell someone. The post is at The American Street.

When will the people responsible for these decisions begin to feel some human emotion? How can we being some sense of shame to what they do?

Frankly I'm all out of ideas, and I'm beginning to think the American public has developed a kind of lifeboat mentality, where they're hanging on to the bits they've got with tooth and nail, and kicking wildly at the hands of any of those more misfortunates who are trying to haul themselves out of range of the circling sharks.

As Kid Creole sang, "Welcome to the Lifeboat Party!"

Not a bad name for the Republicans. And their new motto could be, "No Room For You!"

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Recap on S. S.--"You Don't Have A Thing To Worry About!"

Here's a link back to a post I did awhile ago as a convenient digest of info on Social Security from a variety of expert sources showing you SS as it really is, compared to how the regime would have you think it to be.

To pull this one off, Bush is counting on his uncanny ability to make his victims love him just because he smiles at them while shoving the knife in. But in spite of all the arguments that have been made about how facts and logic don't have any effect on the public, in this particular issue I think they do. The arithmetic of the nickels and dimes of retirement and savings accounts, and the idea of being left out in the cold if the gamble doesn't pay off are hard, tangible things they can get their heads around. They may even be able to empathize with the situation their kids will be in one day, though God knows that's not the kind of thing we encourage here in the land of thinkfast-thinkshallow.

This is a fair shot, this. If it's played right, it could be the first really irreversible wrong move Rove and Norquist have made.

Update: Over at Hullabaloo, I see digby and I are of one accord on this subject, i.e., that S.S. should remain as it is.

D.C. Limbo--How Low Can We Go?

100-DrRice-S161-31-th So first Condi's in, with a flourish of self-righteous dudgeon ("how dare you impugn my integrity when you know it's my clueless malleability that got me the job!")

spellings-100 Then Margaret Spelling hits the ground running with a plan to protect schoolkids from the very people who are raising them.

4054657 Now Gonzales rides the freedom wave in to the beachhead of racial diversity. (Read:"a Latino can be as big an asshole as anyone else, or, civil rights means never having to give people any!") A respectful nod to MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, for not jumping on this bandwagon:
"...because of our specific concerns regarding apparent primacy of executive authority; a potential conflict of interest in the transition from Counsel to the President to Attorney General in enforcing the special counsel law; setting aside due process protections; and, uncertainty about whether inherent authority exists at the state and local level to enforce federal immigration policy, MALDEF cannot support his confirmation."
Nice job, my fellow Amurricans! And Social Security and Medicare may be just a few years away from the long, slow death being dispensed by those Borgias in Congress! You'll feel so righteous someday, warming yourself by the fire of your moral values while your kids go broke trying to make enough money at the local big box to keep you in statins and Depends.

ap_homeland_security_nominee_chertoff_11jan05_150 Now let's get Chertoff in there, and see if we can't re-open those internment camps. For everybody! In the name of diversity!

*Extra special shout-out to Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum, without whom the mighty Commonwealth of Pennsylvania might never have had the chance to become the drooling idiot sibling of the most populated states of the union.

(Cross-posted at The American Street.)

3 Blind Mice

This is your country on drugs:


The only people left in the world who aren't laughing at us now are the ones with our boot on their necks.

You can read (if you can keep your gorge down) the full text of the SOTU here, courtesy of Raw Story. Short version: we folks between 35 and 55 are screwed if BushCo gets its way. Is that the sound of scales I hear falling from the sleepy eyes of vast herds of the American bovine public?

And BTW, why does this headline from the NYTimes--
Bush Says an Overhaul of Social Security
Is Essential in Order to Avoid Bankruptcy

look so much like the scare-tactics propaganda of the Official Government Media?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

P. C. When It Suits Them

The Gonzales hearings are off and running, and the Republican defensive posturing machine is revving up to full tilt now. Fake racial outrage is still the last refuge of desperate scoundrels, and you know, it sounds so damned sincere--until the thousandth time you've heard it pulled out of political ass under all the same old circumstances, in all the same old versions:
"Leading Republicans countered that the confirmation of Mr. Gonzales would mark a great day in American history, since he would be the first person of Hispanic descent to head the Justice Department.
"Every Hispanic-American in the country is watching," said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which voted, 10 to 8, along party lines last week to endorse Mr. Gonzales's nomination.
Mr. Gonzales's rise from childhood poverty in Texas to Harvard Law School and the highest levels of government shows, Mr. Hatch said, that "in America there is no limit to how far they can go..."
Mr. Specter said that when he was first elected Philadelphia's district attorney four decades ago, there were no Hispanics in his office, and that he had tried to broaden the ethnic mix of his staff. The senator said it was "not irrelevant" that Mr. Gonzales would be the first Hispanic attorney general, since his background would give him a broader perspective on civil rights, immigration and other issues."
And just in case there's anyone left in the audience who hasn't been sufficiently bludgeoned into agreement by this ham-handedly transparent barrage of nonsense, they bring out the pet Latino to give this assault on logic some ersatz credibility:
"The Republican National Committee's deputy communications director, Danny Diaz, made a similar assertion. To block the "eminently qualified" nominee would be "neither good policy nor good politics," he said in a statement.
"Obstructing his nomination would show that Democrats still don't understand the ramifications of an election where President Bush increased his share of the Hispanic vote by 9 percent over 2000," Mr. Diaz said."
At the risk stating the obvious, the point has to be made (as I've made elsewhere) that to accuse those opposing the Gonzales nomination of hating Latinos is like accusing those who'd object to Phyllis Schlafly's heading some Presidential Council on the ERA of hating women. But if this tired old series of lies doesn't do it for those of us who may stubbornly insist on believing their eyes and ears rather than the Republican noise machine, they toss in the patently absurd as well:
"Republicans asserted that the delay was arising from the Democrats' not wanting to give Mr. Bush another confirmation to hail in his State of the Union address on Wednesday night."
But wait, as they say in the Ronco commercials...there's more! The always pliable Arlen Specter took it a step beyond, gushing about Gonzales' "extraordinary record", (that would be his diligent review of all those death penalty cases Bush happily signed off on, I guess), and even claiming that he had explicitly opposed torture!

Get that man a one-way ticket to the home for the confused. Referring to the Texas death penalty cases, John Dean wrote:
"Indeed, by 1999, Amnesty judged that "the Texas clemency process violates minimum human rights safeguards, by failing to ... comply with reasonable concepts of fairness and provide [] protection against arbitrary decision-making by the court." The Gonzales clemency memos establish that, in fact, it was even worse than Amnesty knew."
And this is Arlen's idea of explicitly opposing torture--a weaselly document drafted specifically to allow the presidential conscience to breathe easy while approving the widest possible range of physical and mental insult to the bodies of those who find themselves trapped in the bowels of our detention systems.

The most discouraging thing about all this is how much like swimming in quicksand it's become, fighting these battles, trying to get people to hear the truth that's in front of their noses, while the administration and its minions blind and deafen the debate with their Orwellian wordstorms. I have no idea how it will out. But I'm calling my senators, and that's no picnic, because they're Specter and Santorum.

Go thou and do likewise.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It's Mourning in America

The "Flowers of Evil" party throws its weight behind the Gonzales nomination.

(Cross-posted at The American Street)