Saturday, September 30, 2006

Why Bill Clinton Pushed Back

The Washington Post's liberal guy, EJ Dionne, throws in his two cents, courtesy of the Daily Kos:

My canvassing of Clinton insiders suggests two things about his outburst on "Fox News Sunday." First, he did not go into the studio knowing he would do it. There was, they say, a spontaneity to his anger. But, second, he had thought long and hard about comparisons between his record on terrorism and Bush's. He had his lines down pat from private musing about how he had been turned into a punching bag by the right. Something like this, one adviser said, was bound to happen eventually.

Sober, moderate opinion will say what sober, moderate opinion always says about an episode of this sort: Tut tut, Clinton looked unpresidential, we should worry about the future, not the past, blah, blah, blah.

But sober, moderate opinion was largely silent as the right wing slashed and distorted Clinton's record on terrorism. It largely stood by as the Bush administration tried to intimidate its own critics into silence. As a result, the day-to-day political conversation was tilted toward a distorted view of the past. All the sins of omission and commission were piled onto Clinton while Bush was cast as the nation's angelic avenger. And as conservatives understand, our view of the past greatly influences what we do in the present.

Click here for the rest.

Sorry to keep harping on this topic, but I see it as a major watershed event in American politics. The sober moderate opinion that Clinton threw to the wind last Sunday is the same thing that Republicans have been ignoring to their benefit for years. With the aid of the sober moderate press and a prevailing attitude among Democrats of sober moderation, the fiery pack of pit bulls known as the GOP agitated, screamed, and whined so consistently, year after year, that they successfully pulled what was once understood as the political middle well to the right. Today's moderates are, by the standards used two decades ago, actually conservative. Even Bill Clinton, who entered office in 1993 with grand plans for health care reform and inclusion of homosexuals in the military, fell victim to this shift of the middle--he never attempted anything as liberal ever again. Clearly, being nice only works if everybody's doing it; it's pure capitulation if only one side is being nice, which may be the one of the biggest reasons our country is so screwed right now.

Democrats have been bringing knives to the Republican gun fight for so long that I've essentially written them off. Finally, the one guy that all Democrats respect decided that enough is enough and sawed off his shotgun. Fuck the sober moderates. This is war. I hope to god that the rest of the party isn't as stupid as they appear to be, and take Elvis' call to arms seriously.

Maybe someday I'll be able to vote for one of them without sighing.


Friday, September 29, 2006




Frankie and Sammy



Courtesy of Eschaton, the New York Times editorial board weighs in on the soon-to-become-law "anti-terrorism" bill:

Rushing Off a Cliff

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

Click here for the rest.

The essay also explains why Senate Democrats didn't even try to filibuster this travesty (they fear "soft on terrorism" ads in these last few weeks before the elections), as well as the real reason Bush needs this bill (the evidence needed to convict detained bigtime "illegal combatants" was tortured out of them and cannot be used in a real trial), but the most offensive outrages are listed above. And what a list it is.

After all these years, after countless outrages, I am truly amazed. It's open season on Muslims and people with brown skin. We really are now on the proverbial slippery slope: the Democrats had a shot at stopping this hideous bill and they didn't try. Our government is utterly broken, and, believe me, we're all in big fucking trouble.

It's no longer over the top to look at this old poem in terms of recent events:

First they came...

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

When the Republicans came for the Muslims...

Human beings, over the years, aren't terribly original in their behavior and thinking. History really does repeat itself, as has happened countless times throughout the ages. We all have this "it can't happen here" mentality. But it is happening, and I don't see anything at all on the horizon to stop it. If something doesn't radically change in the next five years or so, we are so fucked.


Thursday, September 28, 2006


From the Houston Chronicle:

Astros continue surge with ninth-straight win

Only the rain slowed Roy Oswalt and the Astros as they continued their late surge Thursday afternoon, keeping their slim postseason hopes alive with their ninth consecutive victory.

Oswalt threw seven scoreless innings and combined with three relievers to complete the three-game sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 3-0 shutout at PNC Park.

By extending their season-high winning streak to nine games, Phil Garner's club kept pressure on the National League Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals heading into the Astros' season-ending three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.

Now the Cardinals' NL Central lead is down to a half-game.

Click here for the rest.

You know, a little over a month ago, I had, as usual, completely written the Astros off for the season--indeed, as of August 28th they were below .500 in the win/loss stats. Then, as usual, they caught fire and started winning again, and now they're right smack dab in the midst of a streak, part of which was sweeping the NL Central Division leading St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Cardinals, who lost again tonight, are right smack dab in the middle of a losing streak. Well, not exactly, but they have lost eight of their last nine, three of those, like I said, to the Astros, and suddenly, the division title is wide open.

Christ, the Astros do this every fucking year it seems. Who says baseball isn't exciting?

So now, and a big "sorry" goes out to my friends in and from Atlanta, I'm totally hating the Braves, who I hope lose in a big way to my formerly orange home team. Kill the Braves! Go Astros! Woo-hoo!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Detainee interrogation bill wins House approval

The legislation would establish a military court system to prosecute terror suspects, a response to the Supreme Court ruling last June that Congress' blessing was necessary. While the bill would grant defendants more legal rights than they had under the administration's old system, it nevertheless would eliminate rights usually granted in civilian and military courts.

The measure also provides extensive definitions of war crimes such as torture, rape and biological experiments — but gives Bush broad authority to decide which other techniques U.S. interrogators can legally use. The provisions are intended to protect CIA interrogators from being prosecuted for war crimes.

With elections just weeks away, the debate over the legal handling of terrorists was often partisan with some Democrats contending the bill would approve torture.

"All Americans want to hold terrorists accountable, but if we try to redefine the nature of torture, whisk people into secret detention facilities and use secret evidence to convict them in special courts, our actions do in fact embolden our enemies," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.

Others vehemently opposed language that would give the president wide latitude to interpret international standards of prisoner treatment and bar detainees from going to federal court to protest their treatment and detention under the right of habeas corpus. Supporters of the bill have said eliminating habeas corpus was intended to keep detainees from flooding federal courts with appeals.

The bill also gives the president the ability to interpret international standards for prisoner treatment when an act does not fall under the definition of a war crime, such as rape and torture.

Click here for the rest.

Make no mistake about it: this bill is all about making Bush's secret torture centers legitimate. Sure, there are some restrictions, but, as far as I can tell, it's much more about giving carte blanche to these Nazi fucks in the White House for all their vile shit. I mean, they're going to get to "interpret" rape? There's nothing to interpret there. Rape is fucking black and white. This stinks as bad as anything I've ever smelled, and fuck the Democrats for not going into over-the-top psychotic hysterics over it. The article makes it sound like there was lots of opposition to the bill, and there was some, but still, a fifth of Democrats in the House actually voted for it. That's unconscionable. I mean, it's unconscionable that even Republicans are voting for it, but it's just sick and twisted that any Democrat at all would ever bless this monstrosity. This isn't about political philosophy or appropriations. This is about fucking torture.

Sick, sick, sick.


US 'threatened to bomb' Pakistan

Just in case you missed it over the weekend. From the BBC:

The US threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age" unless it joined the fight against al-Qaeda, President Pervez Musharraf has said.

General Musharraf said the warning was delivered by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to Pakistan's intelligence director.

"I think it was a very rude remark," Gen Musharraf told CBS television.

Pakistan agreed to side with the US, but Gen Musharraf said it did so based on his country's national interest.

"One has to think and take actions in the interest of the nation, and that's what I did," he said.

Click here for the rest.

Well, by now the Bush administration has completely denied the accusation, but you've just gotta wonder. Actually, I'm not wondering at all. We have every reason to believe that the denials are total lies. I mean, my take, after all these Republican lies over the last five years, is to believe what seems to be the most reasonable assertion; that is, the White House no longer has any credibility, and I wouldn't put this bombing threat past them at all. After all, we know for sure that when Bush was cobbling together for the invasion of Iraq his "Coalition of the Willing" from third world nations, former Warsaw Pact members, and other global non-players, that they offered all kinds of diplomatic and monetary incentives. Why on earth wouldn't they use a stick as well as a carrot? Of course they used under-the-table threats to get it all together, which is why it's so utterly believable that they did the same thing in preparation for the Afghanistan invasion.

None of this comes as any surprise. These are some sick motherfuckers.



From Throw Away Your TV:

Holy Shit, this is fucked up right here, the Fox News network revisited the Clinton interview on every program they had - ( provides a nice mashup below) and you can go to their site for a detailed analysis of the clip.

Beware this is a solid five minutes of Fox News Clinton bashing, its starts to get real sad as you watch, they are trying so hard to make Clinton look bad, However after watching this I think Wallace is Worthy of the Douchebag Tag. If you want to watch the Interview to see exactly what happend, we have it posted here.

I think fox is just best to admit defeat as they have pulled the clip from thats usually a sign that they don't want people to watch the Interview from an environment that they can't control.

Click here to see the video montage of the Fox freak-out about Clinton.

This pretty much proves that the Clinton interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday was a big win for the Democrats: Fox devoted all day Monday to spinning it into something else. When you see that much effort, that much overkill, you know they're running scared. Heh. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Of course, Fox sure as hell ain't no lady; she's a brazen whore with yellow fangs in her coochie, and the former President chewed her up and spit her out. I'm fucking loving this.

Now if only we could somehow get all Democrats who appear on television to use the same strategy...


Teacher reprimanded after student
sees nude art on museum trip

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

School board members have voted to not renew the contract of a veteran art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a school trip to a museum.

Sydney McGee has been on paid administrative leave from Fisher Elementary School since Friday, said her attorney Rogge Dunn.

McGee's contract runs through the end of the school year and it was unclear whether she would remain on leave until then. Her attorney said he would wait for written confirmation and clarification from the school district to decide how to proceed.

Click here for the rest.

Okay, we are officially in the middle of a Puritanical frenzy. Back in June, I learned of a woman in upstate New York who had lost custody of her child because of a performance art piece in which she was involved that mocked Christianity and included some nudity. Shortly after that, I read about some district officials gunning for a high school art teacher who had posed for some topless art photos that ended up online. More recently, there was the story of the Oklahoma police chief who was forced to resign due to the moralistic outcry over his wife's online nude photos.

Now this shit.

One could argue that this scandal, and I say "scandal" because booting an art teacher for exposing her students to art is downright scandalous, is actually much more the result of paranoid administrators overreacting than it is about my perception of an alarming rise in absolutist anti-sex and anti-nudity attitudes. After all, I spent six years in a bumfuck town in Texas teaching theater classes, myself, and my feeling the whole time was that the district needed students to get their state mandated fine arts credit, but didn't like, understand, or value the arts. Consequently, it was my job to simply process students through my classroom while keeping as low of a profile as possible--any controversy at all was automatically my fault, which severely hampered my abilities as a teacher. Clearly, much of the public education establishment is, quite literally, old school. The arts aren't reading, writing, 'rithmetic, or football, and are therefore useless for anything other than complying with state regulations.

Of course, that's total bullshit. Besides the intrinsic cultural value that comes from studying the arts, students who do so tend to score higher than their peers on standardized tests. But what can you do? "Educators," contrary to popular opinion, are some of the most conservative people in the country.

So the nude sculpture issue in the story above may simply be paranoia combined with disrespect for art, but given the proliferation of such instances, along with the freak-out over Janet Jackson's Superbowl nipple, the impeachment of a good President for a private sexual affair, and numerous other examples of Taliban-like tendencies in American culture, I'm not ready to dismiss this as something else. The big dumb cunt-faces of fundamentalist morality are out there fucking with perfectly innocent Americans, and they're doing it much more than they used to.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Big Easy in Superdome: Triumphant homecoming for Saints

From ESPN:

The Superdome got a new roof after Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Saints did their best to blow it off again.

In an earsplitting return to their rebuilt stadium, the Saints gave the Big Easy something to cheer about -- an undefeated football team that made it look easy with a 23-3 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.

This one couldn't have been scripted any better for a team that spent all of last season on the road, and it couldn't have come at a better time for a city that is still struggling to overcome the devastation of Katrina.

After a Super Bowl-like pregame show that included a performance by supergroups U2 and Green Day, the Saints wasted no time turning their welcome-home party into Mardi Gras: The Falcons' first drive stalled, and special teams demon Steve Gleason sliced through the middle of the Atlanta line to smother Michael Koenen's punt.

The ball skidded across the goal line, where Curtis Deloatch fell on it for a touchdown -- the first given up by the Falcons this season. Just 1½ minutes into a homecoming that was over a year in the making, the Saints sent an emphatic message to the NFL and the entire country.

New Orleans is back.

Click here for the rest.

Well, I don't even get ESPN, so I was unable to watch, although I did listen for a bit on the radio, but I just had to post on this. I was in New Orleans Saturday night, and the whole city was extraordinarily excited about the Saints' return to the Superdome. You've got to understand that huge numbers of people there continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional illnesses, fully half of the population has yet to return, and some two thirds of the area still lie in ruins. New Orleans needs good things to happen to it. Just reopening the Superdome for business would have sufficed, but this win, which brings the Saints to 3-0, against their division rival, and by a hefty margin, is the right kind of mojo to charge the Big Easy's spirits.

I bet they're partying down on Bourbon right now, which is especially grand because the street was decidedly not hopping when I was there only a couple of nights ago. Hell, if New Orleans makes the playoffs this year, I'd bet a hundred bucks that the city eventually comes back as good as new. Seriously. The Big Easy is a town where symbolism goes a long, long way.

I'd better get in on some of this action myself: my home team looks like it may be the worst in the NFL at the moment. Go Saints!


What's Wrong With Calling Bush A Devil?

From AlterNet:

Across the U.S. political and media spectrum, there was wide agreement yesterday: Name-calling and personal attacks are bad for national and global dialogue. Prompting the unity were Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' comments that President Bush was the devil incarnate, "El Diablo."

Among those exercised (and exorcized) about Chavez' name-calling were some of the loudest name-callers in American media today -- including Rush Limbaugh and other rightwing talk hosts. Limbaugh tried to equate Chavez' remarks with the alleged Bush-bashing that comes from top U.S. Democrats. In case you've forgotten, it was Limbaugh who ridiculed Chelsea Clinton, then 13, as the "White House dog."

It was Limbaugh in 2001 who routinely referred to Democratic leader Tom Daschle, literally, as "El Diablo."

Click here for the rest.

The essay's writer, Jeff Cohen, director of liberal watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, goes on to make the point easily that right-wing rhetoric, especially in the mainstream media, is actually much worse than Chavez's simple "devil" remarks, and their outrage is hypocritical, if not calculated. Alas, Cohen makes a needless nod to the concept of civility, and condemns Venezuela's president while asserting that only the pundits and politicos of the left, who have to some extent stayed away from name-calling, and not the frothy-mouthed right, have the moral authority to make such a condemnation.

Of course, I call people names all the time, myself, so I suppose I don't have any moral authority here. But I don't really want to condemn Chavez, especially because he's absolutely right. I'm assuming that "devil" is metaphor, and, given the death and destruction unleashed by our boy-President since 9/11, it is entirely appropriate. I suppose one could say that such volatile language is dangerous as far as diplomacy is concerned, but old Hugo is trying to get together a viable coalition of nations that oppose US imperialism. Consequently, it really does look like he's trying to fire up the crowd. In other words, calling Bush a devil may very well piss off lots of Americans, but I think it made lots of other people pretty darned happy.

Like me, for instance.



From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Intelligence report fuels debate on terror threat

Their criticisms came in a collection of statements sent to reporters today amid the disclosure of a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded the war has helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The report was completed in April and represented a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government, according to an intelligence official. The official, confirming accounts first published in Sunday's New York Times and Washington Post, spoke on condition of anonymity on Sunday because the report is classified.

Click here for more.

This was mind-numbingly obvious from the moment the Bush administration started their saber-rattling about Iraq, and countless individuals on the left, myself included, said so repeatedly at the time. Terrorism is an extremely complicated political problem, not an army or a monster that one can beat down with a stick in a metaphoric "war" on it, so the invasion of Iraq obviously never had anything to do with it. Despite the juvenile rhetoric about how "they hate our freedom," the so-called Islamofascists actually have legitimate grievances against the US, such as our support of the corrupt and brutal Saudi Royal Family, which is where we should have directed our anti-terror efforts in the first place. Instead, the neo-cons seized upon 9/11 in order to advance their plans for American global domination without even thinking about how it would simply add to terrorists' very reasonable motivations for terrorism.

Let me spell this out: outraging already angry Muslim populations by killing lots of Muslims only creates vast incentive for jihad against the US. Never mind the inherent immorality of war for a moment; the Iraq invasion was an extraordinarily bad idea from the get-go--it is incredibly counterproductive. Bush and his controllers took a bad situation and made it much, much worse, and we will certainly be cleaning up after their mess for decades to come.

How the fuck can anybody think that the Republicans have any idea what they're doing here, let alone somehow better than the Democrats on national security? This is truly one of the most surreal situations I've ever encountered.


Sunday, September 24, 2006


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Mohandas Gandhi
So the right wing is calling it a breakdown or a freak out or something along those lines, but they don't really appear to be responding to what he actually said. That is, they're ridiculing him, which I put into the "laugh at you" category from Gandhi's quote above. When I first read some of the transcript from this Fox News Sunday interview on Friday, I felt certain that the video was going to show me what I wanted to see, a rare and real debate in the middle of the proverbial lion's den. It's all over now, if the Democrats take the ball and run with it: President Clinton went on Fox news and kicked ass, showing once and for all that liberals can go toe-to-toe with the corporate pundit parade and win. Anybody can do it. If they have the balls.

Actually, the real key to this kind of rhetorical win is to steadfastly reject the right-wing narrative, again and again, replacing it with an intelligent, reasonable analysis.

Anyway, here's a bit more of the transcript, followed by a link to some video of the exchange, courtesy of Crooks and Liars:

CW: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

WJC: It was a perfectly legitimate question. But I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you’ve asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked ‘Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?’ I want to know how many you asked ‘Why did you fire Dick Clarke?’ I want to know…

CW: We asked…

WJC: [..]

CW: Do you ever watch FOX News Sunday, sir?

WJC: I don’t believe you ask them that.

CW: We ask plenty of questions of…

WJC: You didn’t ask that, did you? Tell the truth.

CW: About the USS Cole?

WJC: Tell the truth…

CW: I…with Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

WJC: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on Climate Change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…

Click here for the rest of the full transcript, and video of the first half of the exchange.

What a man. That's the way you do it--that's also how the Republicans did it, too. Never back down on your key points, and go for the jugular. "Taking the high ground" is no longer a productive option, especially because the Republicans utterly destroyed the high ground long ago. I'm not advocating mud-slinging, despite how much fun it is, but what I do want to see is bravery in the line of fire, and that's something old Bill's got in spades. We can turn this country around, if only our leaders would fight for it.

Of course, I'm not holding my breath.

There's only one way to play it...



From the AP via ESPN:

Neither rain nor Iowa State can stop McCoy, No. 8 Texas

Texas was cruising to another Big 12 win when the weather put everything on hold for more than an hour.

No matter. By the time the rain and lightning had cleared, Iowa State was in no position to mount much of a rally.

Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy engineered another efficient game with a pair of touchdown passes Saturday to lead No. 7 Texas to a 37-14 victory in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

The outcome was pretty much what was expected. It just took a long time to finish after waves of rain and lightning rolled through downtown Austin at the end of the third quarter, forcing game officials to suspend play for 70 minutes.

Click here for the rest.

And again from the AP via ESPN:

LSU jumps out to big early lead before cruising past Tulane

LSU brought Tulane's 14-game span away from New Orleans to a merciless and painful end.

Early Doucet caught two touchdown passes and ran for a third score as the No. 10 Tigers jumped out to a large early lead in a 49-7 victory over Tulane on Saturday night.

LSU's top-ranked defense also knocked Tulane starting quarterback Lester Ricard out of the game when two tacklers hit him from opposite sides late in the first half.

"It was the wrong week to play us," LSU coach Les Miles said, referring to his team's drive to bounce back from a potentially costly 7-3 loss at No. 2 Auburn last weekend. "We came off a disappointing showing a week ago. There's a little edge on this program and our kids wanted to win. Get victory back and enjoy the fruits of their labor."

Click here for the rest.

If there's any problem with ending up as a loyalist, by way of undergraduate and graduate education, to two of the top college football programs in the country, it's that you'll invariably end up with blowout weekends all around like this one was. Granted, the Texas/Iowa State game got interesting in the second quarter, but once the Longhorns found their groove it was all over by the time the rain delay hit at the end of the third quarter. I mean, okay, the Cyclones weren't as overmatched as Tulane was, but then, they're no Texas Tech or Texas A&M, either. At least it's a conference win. On the other hand, it's hard not to feel sorry for Tulane's Green Wave. If I recall correctly, the went undefeated in regular season play the year before Katrina hit, and they just haven't been able to really be competitive since then. The Tigers just murderlized 'em. As they should have.

Good thing I didn't really get the chance to watch either one--Sundays are for napping, not Saturdays.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

French back off report of bin Laden's death

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

President Jacques Chirac said today that information contained in a leaked intelligence document raising the possibility that Osama bin Laden may have died of typhoid in Pakistan last month is "in no way whatsoever confirmed."

Chirac said he was "a bit surprised" at the leak and has asked Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie to probe how a document from a French foreign intelligence service was published in the French press.

Click here for the rest.

Well, so much for my late night revelry. Nobody at Kos or Eschaton even touched the story, and with good reason--it was obviously just a rumor at 3:30 in the morning, and that's what it is now. But then, all I really wanted to do is gloat. I'm personally not going to believe that bin Laden is dead until they plaster pictures of his body all over the global mass communications grid. So, for now, I guess we should simply file this away as yet another rumor of the supervillain's death.

I swear, this guy really is straight out of Marvel Comics. He's dead, no, he's alive, no, he's dead, haha, he escaped your vile Western clutches once again! I think it's probably time to unfreeze Pat Tillman's body and inject him with the super-soldier serum: only a superhero can take down a supervillain. I swear to god, as long as incompetents are running the show in Washington, it's going to take a lot of spandex and radioactive spiders to get the job done.



From Reuters:

French paper says bin Laden died in Pakistan

A French regional newspaper quoted a French secret service report on Saturday as saying that Saudi Arabia is convinced that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan last month.

L'Est Republicain printed what it said was a copy of the report dated September 21 and said it was shown to President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and France's interior and defence ministers on the same day.

"According to a usually reliable source, the Saudi services are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead," the document said.

Click here for the rest.

I don't have much to say about this at the moment, other than something along the lines of "this may or may not be true," but it strikes me as big news, and I happen to be awake at the moment, when most sensible bloggers are sleeping, so I figured, what the hell, I'll have it waiting for whatever grownups happen to wander into Real Art when the sun comes up later this morning, maybe scooping the big boys in the process. Having successfully extended my adolescence well into my thirties, I will not be one of those early rising grownups, myself. Anyway, "scooping" is of course being wildly misused here, in that I didn't actually do any of the reporting on this story, but it will be nice to think that I'm among the first few bloggers to post on the death of this real life Marvel Comics supervillain.

If it's true.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!! In your face Atrios! Have a kick in the Kos, Daily Kos! I said something about this before you did! Nyah, nyah! I am so great. I am so great. I am so great. I am so great. (Repeat until nausea sets in.)


Friday, September 22, 2006


From USA TODAY courtesy of Eschaton, a transcript from an upcoming interview on Fox News:

Clinton: OK let's just --

Wallace: May I just finish the question sir? And after the attack, the book says, that bin Laden separated his leaders, spread them around because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is always 20/20 --

Clinton: No, let's talk about it.

Wallace: But the question is, why didn't you connect the dots and put him out of business?

Clinton: Let's talk about it. I will answer all those things on the merits, but first I want to talk about the context in which this arises. I'm being asked this on the FOX network. ABC just had a right-wing conservative running their little pathway to 9/11, falsely claiming it was based on the 9/11 commission report with three things asserted against me directly contradictory to the 9/11 commission report. And I think it's very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say I didn't do enough claim that I was too obsessed with bin Laden.

All of President Bush's neo-cons that I was too obsessed with bin Laden, they had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say I didn't do enough, said I did too much, the same people. They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in Black Hawk Down and I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the United Nations.

OK, now let's look at all the criticisms, Black Hawk Down, Somalia, there is not a living soul in the world who thought Osama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk Down or was paying any attention to it, or even knew al-Qaeda was a going concern in October 93.

Wallace: I understand.

Clinton: No, no, wait. Don't tell me that -- you asked me why didn't I do more to bin Laden, there was not a living soul, all the people who now criticize me wanted to leave the next day. You brought this up, so you get an answer.

Click here for the rest.

As I've said many times before, Bill Clinton is a conservative Democrat with whom I have many problems. On the other hand, he's probably the most gifted American politician of the second half of the twentieth century--I would definitely put him in the top five all time list. And this interview shows why: unlike most of his pussified party colleagues, Elvis doesn't roll over and die when attacked; Bill Clinton fights back. And that's exactly what he does in this interview, which is slated to be aired on whatever version of Meet the Press Fox runs on Sunday. Apparently the original right-wing nutcase blogger Matt Drudge is already trying to spin this as a Clinton freak-out, but the transcript reads like the former President won with a devastating full court press.

So, bravo.

But what gets me is that Clinton's style of argumentation isn't too terribly difficult to emulate. It's really basic high school debate: know your opponent's points beforehand, know what to ignore and what to press, know when to attack and when to retreat, but don't back down one damned bit. Why do I so rarely see Democrats do what I was successfully training my public speaking students to do for six years back when I was teaching high school? This is old school democracy, the kind of thing they were doing in the British Parliament centuries ago. When did the Democrats decide that the best way to win elections was to shrink away from fist-slinging arguments like a bunch of Southern church ladies?

Bunch of pussies. I hope some of them watch and learn when this airs on Sunday.







Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging!


Iraq torture 'worse after Saddam'

From the BBC:

Torture may be worse now in Iraq than under former leader Saddam Hussein, the UN's chief anti-torture expert says.

Manfred Nowak said the situation in Iraq was "out of control", with abuses being committed by security forces, militia groups and anti-US insurgents.

Bodies found in the Baghdad morgue "often bear signs of severe torture", said the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq in a report.

Click here for the rest.

So, remember the rhetorical pasting Howard Dean endured when he said that Iraq was not safer because US forces had recently plucked Saddam Hussein from his filthy hidey-hole? Well, Dean was, indeed, mistaken, but only in the degree of his assertion. Not only is Iraq not safer because of the end of the Ba'athist regime, it is much more dangerous. The picture I'm getting is that everybody is torturing and killing everybody over there. Say what you want about Saddam; after all, he was a brutal dictator. But his iron-fisted rule provided the kind of social stability that has eluded the US occupation. It's total chaos in Iraq, and it's our fault.

Good thing I don't believe in karma, or I would be scared shitless of the inevitable punishment this country would receive for its vile, sick misdeeds.


Thursday, September 21, 2006


From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram courtesy of AlterNet:

Radio ad asks Houstonians to arm themselves against evacuees

A radio commercial for a local gun shop advises Houstonians to arm themselves against "Katricians," adding to the growing tension between Houstonians and the Katrina evacuees who have been blamed for a rising crime rate.

Gun shop owner and radio talk-show host Jim Pruett said Thursday he started running the ad a few weeks ago after hearing a local television interview with a Katrina evacuee living in Houston who implied he would have to turn to crime if his government assistance ran out.


Residents in upper middle-class west Houston have blamed evacuees for violent crime rates that have increased almost 14 percent in one district and homicides that have nearly doubled in another.

Earlier this month, the FBI reported that violent crime in Houston jumped 2.4 percent last year, slightly above the national figure of 2.3 percent.

Click here for the rest.

When I was a kid in the late 70s Jim Pruett, along with partner Mark Stevens, did the morning show on KILT 610 AM under the aliases "Hudson and Harrigan." Actually, I understand that KILT FM continues to have a couple of morning guys under the same nom-de-radio. Anyway, Stevens and Pruett were, to me, extraordinarily funny. Their humor was goofy and juvenile, yes, but it was good stuff, and, along with Monty Python and Saturday Night Live, a major part of my early education in comedy.

Then one day in 1980 or '81, riding the Urban Cowboy bandwagon, KILT went country, and I stopped paying attention--if I remember correctly, I think my two morning men left the station along with the pop songs they spun between sketches and jokes. Years later, in the early 90s, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had been hired under their real names to do the morning show on Houston's late and lamented album oriented rock station KLOL. They had retooled themselves for the Howard Stern era, including lots of sexual references and whatnot, but the comedy itself was still the same, still pretty funny after all these years. Then KLOL went Tejano a couple of years ago, and I lost track of the beloved radio comedians from my childhood.

I'm now amazed to find out that half of the duo is now a right-wing fascist. If I had been living in H-Town, I probably would have known about this new talk show Pruett's doing, and I probably would have already been familiar with this seemingly new gun-slinging rhetoric of his. But no. Instead, I'm shocked. It's like finding out that Mr. Rogers molested little boys or something.

Well, it's undeniable that some gangbangers came to Houston after the hurricane, which makes sense given that most of the evacuees the Bayou City got came from the Superdome, which temporarily housed some the poorest people in New Orleans--crime and poverty have been known to be correlated for decades now. But much of that crime has been confined to within the evacuee community, and the overall crime rate in Houston is only slightly higher than the national average. What I'm getting at is that even though crime is worse in Houston lately, it's absolutely alarmist to proclaim a vigilante open season on it. And clearly, such alarmism is deeply rooted in white bourgeois fear: that is, it's racist.

Well, fuck him. Jim Pruett is an evil, opportunistic, racist, son of a bitch. The only consolation I've got here is that gun owners are much more likely to die by gun violence than people who shun firearms. Maybe we'll get lucky.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Meltdown: Ice Cracks at North Pole

From Live Science courtesy of AlterNet:

Satellite images of the Arctic show large openings in the perennial ice cover, yet another consequence of greenhouse warming, scientists announced this week.

The Arctic's thick perennial sea ice typically survives the warmth of the summer and lasts through the year. But satellite images taken in late August show that up to 10 percent of the perennial sea ice has been fractured by summer storms. The surprising change involves an area larger than the size of the British Isles.

The striking openings in the pack ice were found north of Svalbard, Norway and extend to the Russian Arctic all the way to the North Pole. This condition is likely due to the thinning and extra mobility in the European section of the central Arctic ice pack seen in recent years.

Click here for the rest.

Well, I guess the upside to this is that Russia finally gets to have its warm water port. Other than that, it's all downside, even for Russia: they'll get their port, yes, but they'll also get the ruined economy that necessarily comes with the massive worldwide floods that will result from all this melting ice, thereby obviating the need for increased sea trade. And let's not forget the release of all that CO2 and methane gas, which has been trapped for centuries in that pack ice, that will speed up greatly the rate of global warming.

Christ, I'm sick of explaining all this. How the fuck can anybody not take this shit seriously?


Poll Finds Most Americans Displeased With Congress

From the New York Times courtesy of AlterNet:

Across the board, the poll found marked disenchantment with Congress, highlighting the opportunity that Democrats see to make the argument for a change in leadership and to make the election a national referendum on the performance of the Republican-controlled Congress and Mr. Bush’s tenure. In one striking finding, 77 percent of respondents — including 65 percent of Republicans — said that most members of Congress had not done a good enough job to deserve re-election and that it was time to give new people a chance. That is the highest number of voters who said it was “time for new people” since the fall of 1994.


Overall discontent with Congress or Washington does not necessarily signify how someone will vote when they see the familiar name of their member of Congress on the ballot. Thus, while 61 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the way Congress was handling its job, just 29 percent said they disapproved of the way their own “representative is handling his or her job.”

For all the clear dissatisfaction with the 109th Congress, 39 percent of respondents said their own representative deserved re-election, compared with 48 percent who said it was time for someone new. What is more, it seems highly unlikely Democrats would experience a sweep similar to the one Republicans experienced in 1994. Most political analysts judge only about 40 House seats to be in play at the moment, compared with more than 100 seats at this point 12 years ago, in large part because redistricting has created more safe seats for both parties.

Click here for the rest.

Obviously, I'm hoping for a Democratic sweep come November, if only so we can see all those investigations and subpoenas that the Republicans keep mentioning in an attempt to scare their base into showing up on election day. However, as with my lukewarm support of John Kerry in '04, my hoping is only half-hearted. The Democrats are still the Democrats, almost as beholden to corporate interests as the GOP--remember how they had both houses and the Presidency back in '93 and still couldn't get any healthcare reform passed? If the Dems take over next January, there's a good chance that no one will actually see any difference.

Furthermore, as much as I'm hoping for victory, the last two paragraphs of the excerpt pretty much tell the whole story. The game is waaaay more rigged than it was back in '94, what with all these gerrymandered "safe seats," which the Democrats, as individuals, all support because, even though they're not in the majority, they still get to keep their own position and perks. Really, what we need is to put Article I of the Constitution into a paper shredder because, clearly, the legislative process that we have now no longer works--personally, I think a European parliamentary system would suit our current socio-political situation much better. But given the reverence Americans have for the Constitution, that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

Expect more of the same for decades to come.



From the New York Daily News courtesy of AlterNet:

There is so much political corruption on Capitol Hill that the FBI has had to triple the number of squads investigating lobbyists, lawmakers and influence peddlers, the Daily News has learned.

For decades, only one squad in Washington handled corruption cases because the crimes were seen as local offenses handled by FBI field offices in lawmakers' home districts.

But in recent years, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and other abuses of power and privilege have prompted the FBI to assign 37 agents full-time to three new squads in an office near Capitol Hill.

Click here for the rest.

I do agree with the Congressional leaders who warned last spring of a usurpation of the balance of powers by the administrative branch via misuse of criminal investigation, especially under the current administration. However, I've long understood, myself, that Congress, by and large, is literally bought and sold by special interests, and by "special" I generally mean "corporate." In fact, it's been so bad for so long that I've essentially decided that we no longer live in a democracy. These Bozos in Congress need to be investigated. Ending the cycle of influence-peddling has got to start somewhere, and I'm not holding my breath waiting for my own representative to begin the crusade. It might as well begin with the FBI.

But what I'd like to know is why Bush is allowing this to happen. I'm assuming he could quash the whole thing if he wanted, in the same way that he's gotten the results he's wanted from other agencies under his control. What's his game? Or is the whole corruption issue so out of control that he feels he has no choice?


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Power of Stereotypes

From ABC's 20/20 courtesy of Throw away your TV:

One study showed that women who watched commercials with stereotypical ditzy females before taking a math test scored 38 percent lower than women who didn't see the ads. The Kaplan Education and Test Prep company helped us run similar tests.

And sure enough: Even in our unscientific test, the women who viewed the sexist commercials did worse.

This stereotype effect has been found in study after study, said New York University psychology professor Joshua Aronson

"We found that just reminding the women that they were college students at a selective college overcame the gender gap. However, when we reminded them that they were women, the gap widens," Aronson said.

Aronson said that when he reminds Asians that Asians do well in math, their scores go up.

Then what does the stereotype that blacks test poorly do to a black person about to take a test?

"The situation of taking an IQ test for a black kid is so loaded that it's not a direct measure of their intelligence," Aronson said.

He found he could change blacks' scores simply by what he told them before the test.

Click here for the rest.

I'm not at all a big fan of 20/20, especially one of this article's writers, John Stossel, who isn't much more than an apologist for the ravages of free market fundamentalism, but every now and then they get it right, and this is one of those instances. I remember years ago when I was a teenager how I adamantly took the view that movies, music, and television don't affect people's behavior--I had to take such a position because I was worried about being told what kind of art I could and couldn't experience; such is the life of a suburban teen. Years later, especially after taking RTF classes at the University of Texas, I had to change my opinion to some extent.

Even though the mythical effect of satanic rock music on kids is by and large untrue (that is, kid listens to Marilyn Manson and then, as a result, kid decides to shoot up his school), although there are isolated instances of somebody who was already a psycho taking inspiration from what he sees or hears, the real problem with the influence of entertainment media is the overall context it creates in society. When our culture is overflowing with images of, say, stupid women, such a message seeps in, under people's radar screens as it were, and before you know it, people tend to believe in such fantasies, all the while intellectually rejecting them. In other words, people both believe and reject media stereotypes at the same time, and get caught up in shifting back and forth between the two points of view. The inevitable result is our fucked up country, which strongly believes in equality, but also believes in inequality.

The long and short of all this is that the problem with stereotyping and other negative media influences isn't as simple as the binary choice between "has an effect" and "doesn't have an effect." There is an effect, but it's indirect, and can be rejected if we're on our guard. What makes it all so hellish is that it's pretty damned difficult to always be on guard, especially in a media saturated culture such as ours.

Short of somehow destroying Hollywood, I have absolutely no solution for this mess.


Monday, September 18, 2006

GOP talk of vibrant economy rings hollow

From the AP via Yahoo courtesy of AlterNet:

Times are "very good for the rich and very, very bad for the poor" who "can't afford to live," laments Larry Mitchell, 43, a now-and-then merchant peddling his wares recently in a submarine sandwich shop parking lot. He says the middle class is "having a hard time."

In the Ohio River Valley, where people decry high gas prices, stagnant wages, lost jobs and factory closures, many don't buy the claim that the economy is humming along.

Seven weeks before the midterm elections, the gulf between Bush's perceptions and that of voters form the political backdrop across the country as well as in a region with several competitive House races. This area typically gets left out of national boom times and usually feels the pinch more than others during slowdowns.

Here and elsewhere differing views on the economy could hurt the GOP's efforts to retain control of the House and Senate this fall, and give voters reason to put Democrats in charge instead.

Click here for the rest.

Most of the individuals feeling the economic squeeze in this article are Republicans, so I see this as pretty good news. That is, right-wing conventional wisdom, which has been so utterly dominant for years now, is starting to fall apart. Since the so-called Reagan Revolution, it seems that a majority of American voters and politicians have bought, hook, line, and sinker, the bogus notion of laissez-faire: the economy works best and provides for the most people, when the government stays the hell out. In practical terms this has meant massive tax breaks for big business and the wealthy, heavy deregulation, and the delegitimizing of organized labor and collective bargaining; ideally, this would free up business to make some serious bucks, which would then benefit rank-and-file citizens in terms of better wages and more job opportunities. The only problem is that it hasn't actually worked that way. Businesses and the wealthy have, indeed, benefitted from laissez-faire policies, but, through outsourcing, downsizing and other techniques, they've perfected the art of keeping it all for themselves. The money simply hasn't trickled down, and people are hurting. That's how we're able to have a "good" economy coupled with rising poverty. It's taken years for people who bought the bullshit to open their eyes to see the ample evidence before them, but it looks like that's exactly what's happening right now.

And that's a damned good thing. Bye-bye bullshit right-wing "philosophy."


Health officials warned spinach growers in 2005

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Federal health officials told California farmers to improve produce safety in a pointed warning letter last November, nearly a year before the multistate E. coli outbreak linked to spinach.

In fact, the current food-poisoning episode is the 20th since 1995 linked to spinach or lettuce, the Food and Drug Administration says.


There have been 19 other food-poisoning outbreaks since 1995 linked to lettuce and spinach, according to the FDA. At least eight were traced to produce grown in the Salinas Valley. The outbreaks involved more than 400 cases of sickness and two deaths.

In 2004 and again in 2005, the FDA's top food safety official warned California farmers they needed to do more to increase the safety of the fresh leafy greens they grow.

"In light of continuing outbreaks, it is clear that more needs to be done," the FDA's Robert Brackett wrote in a Nov. 4, 2005, letter.

Click here for the rest.

What I want to know is why these were warnings instead of heavy fines or even jail sentences. I suppose that's what comes from a regulatory body staffed by industry insiders and GOP cronies who see themselves more as cheerleaders than watchdogs. The bottom line here is that people have gotten very sick, and in some cases have died, because of overly greedy business practices. That is, none of this had to happen.

Eric Schlosser in his book Fast Food Nation describes how the first major E. coli outbreak back in early 90s happened: in a move to cut costs and increase profits, the meatpacking industry cast off its experienced unionized labor and replaced it with inexperienced non-union workers who weren't as capable with stomach and intestine removal, which resulted in a massive increase in fecal spillage, which was magnified a thousandfold when the meat was ground up; suddenly people were dying all over the place--the same practices are still in effect today; what ended the outbreak is that now we have to make sure we cook our shitburgers well enough to kill the E. coli. That's right, whenever we eat hamburgers, there's a good chance we're eating cow shit, too.

Anyway, the point is that we regulate businesses and consumer products for a damned good reason, the health and safety of our citizens. But twenty five years of "get the government off the people's backs" rhetoric has made our regulatory agencies become little more than fronts for the industries they are supposed to regulate. If regulation makes the cost of spinach or any other product rise, then so be it; that's the price we have to pay, and if it makes producing such products completely unprofitable, then so be it. The general welfare easily trumps profit.

If you're a moral person, that is.


CARL SAGAN: "Evolution is a fact,
not a theory. It
really happened."

When I was a kid in the 70s, creationism didn't really exist, at least, not as it does today. That is, the only people who took the creation story in Genesis as literal truth were total kooks, flat-earthers, backward-ass dumb fucks. By the 80s when I first started hearing at church about a movement of people who believed that dinosaur bones were placed by God to test our faith, and that the Earth is really only some five thousand years old, I was astonished, but didn't really consider them to be a threat. I mean, how could such lunacy ever amount to anything?

Flash forward to today. Polls and studies continually suggest that a sizable percentage of our population, maybe even a majority, tend toward, if not fully believing in, creationism. Fundamentalist activists constantly push teaching their beloved fairy tales in public schools, either in conjunction with evolution, or replacing it entirely. "Teach the controversy," they say, "it's only fair."

Well, that sounds reasonable, I suppose, except for the fact that there is no controversy. Evolution is a fact, not a theory. It really happened. There are now mountains of evidence in favor of evolution that didn't even exist in the 70s, when it was more widely accepted. And when one really starts sifting through that evidence, developing a decent lay understanding of what it's all about, it's pretty difficult to refute. My personal belief about why creationsim has become so widespread is that most people don't really pay much attention in biology class, and besides, teachers generally aren't really good cheerleaders for science, at least, not in the same way that preachers are for creation fairy tales: consequently, creation supporters are utterly ill-informed about evolution. When I was a high school theater teacher, I heard more than once the retarded statement "I didn't come from a monkey."

Of course, as far as evolution goes, the reality is that humans and monkeys descended from a common ancestor millions of years ago--nobody came "from a monkey." Anyway, with that in mind, I offer this excellent and elegant explanation of evolution plucked from Carl Sagan's wonderful 80s PBS science series Cosmos. I'd like to hear a real response from a creationist after seeing it--I mean something besides the usual and unpersuasive "God said it's true" kind of argument.

Anyway, go check it out; it's cool.

Carl Sagan


Sunday, September 17, 2006


From CounterPunch:

The incomparable Ms. Roy says: "What does the term 'anti-American' mean? Does it mean you are anti-jazz or that you're opposed to freedom of speech? That you don't delight in Toni Morrison or John Updike? That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias?" (I'm a tree hugger remember? I don't argue with sequoias.)

When pressed, I sometimes reply: "I don't hate America. In fact, think it's one of the best countries anyone ever stole." But, after the laughter dies down, I have a confession to make: If by "America" they mean the elected/appointed officials and the corporations that own them, well, I guess I do hate that America-with justification.

Among many reasons, I hate America for the near-extermination and subsequent oppression of its indigenous population. I hate it for its role in the African slave trade and for dropping atomic bombs on civilians. I hate its control of institutions like the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization. I hate it for propping up brutal dictators like Suharto, Pinochet, Duvalier, Hussein, Marcos, and the Shah of Iran. I hate America for its unconditional support for Israel. I hate its bogus two-party system, its one-size-fits-all culture, and its income gap. I could go on for pages but I'll sum up with this: I hate America for being a hypocritical white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

Click here for the rest, which includes a fantastic Paul Robeson quote.

This line of thinking has been so obvious to me for so long that I was extraordinarily disturbed for the couple of years after 9/11 that criticism of US foreign policy became "anti-American." Unlike so many of my contemporaries, as far as I can tell, I took my civics lessons in public school seriously. That is, when I first learned about the self-destructive detour of vile McCarthyism in the late 40s and early 50s, I became fascinated and obsessed with the concept of freedom of speech and its absolute necessity for our democracy--it was probably because I was a middle child and always felt like I wasn't getting a fair shake, but, ultimately, that doesn't really matter; long ago, I understood that "anti-American" was code for "shut the hell up." It continues to bother me that people who sat through the same classes I did never took the lessons to heart.

Things have gotten much better in terms of open criticism recently, but the "you hate America" tactic continues to be a fixture in US public discourse. I suppose that's because, even after countless Bush failures, "you hate America" maintains some level of effectiveness. When some moronic right-winger throws out such an accusation, it automatically puts the person on the receiving end on the defensive: almost reflexively the first response is something along the lines of "No, I don't hate America." Suddenly, the accused accepts the burden of illustrating that he does not, in fact, hate America. Because it's virtually impossible to prove what is or isn't inside one's own heart, the right wing automatically wins. It's brilliant in its brutal simplicity.

As Noam Chomsky has observed, if one goes to Italy and starts speaking about how liberals are anti-Italian, the response is bound to be laughter. I mean, it is pretty absurd when you get right down to it, and that's how liberals in the US should respond, as well. Just don't play the game, especially because it's rigged: the best response to charges of being "anti-American" is scorn and ridicule, maybe even a turn-around, explaining how such talk only exists to stifle the market place of ideas, without which our democracy is meaningless.

Of course, as the Republican Party continues to fall apart, and as the Bush administration continues to fuck up, such a point may end up being entirely moot rather soon.



From AlterNet:

At a long-ago political do at Scholz Garten in Austin, everybody who was anybody was there meetin' and greetin' at a furious pace. A group of us got the tired feet and went to lean our butts against a table at the back wall of the bar. Perched like birds in a row were Bob Bullock, then state comptroller, moi, Charles Miles, the head of Bullock's personnel department, and Ms. Ann Richards. Bullock, 20 years in Texas politics, knew every sorry, no good sumbitch in the entire state. Some old racist judge from East Texas came up to him, "Bob, my boy, how are you?"

Bullock said, "Judge, I'd like you to meet my friends: This is Molly Ivins with the Texas Observer."

The judge peered up at me and said, "How yew, little lady?"

Bullock, "And this is Charles Miles, the head of my personnel department." Miles, who is black, stuck out his hand, and the judge got an expression on his face as though he had just stepped into a fresh cowpie. He reached out and touched Charlie's palm with one finger, while turning eagerly to the pretty, blonde, blue-eyed Ann Richards. "And who is this lovely lady?"

Ann beamed and replied, "I am Mrs. Miles."

Click here for the rest.

I posted a few days ago my own thoughts about Ann Richards, but I tend to think of her relationship with Molly Ivins as being very much like the one Duke Ellington had with Billy Strayhorn. That is, they were so close in terms of political artistry, that in many respects they might have been a single composite person. Consequently, in my humble opinion, Ivins has the final word as far as eulogies about Richards go within the public discourse. And this essay does not disappoint; it's quite the celebration, complete with the sharp-as-razors political wit that made them a formidable duo when Richards was governor.

Indeed, after reading this piece, it makes me certain that I need to start using words like "sumbitch" and "whore" much more often when I write and talk about politics. I also need to grow some balls as big as theirs.