Monday, July 31, 2006

Cowards, you notice, are always shrieking to have troublseome people killed.
G. B. Shaw: Pygmalion, Act Five

A Thought on Cokie's Weekly Hokum

Just now on NPR's Morning Edition, Cokie Roberts framed Joe Lieberman's electoral problems as just being what happens today when a politician tries to hew to the "center" on an issue like Iraq. This attempt to minimize the reason of why Lieberman is in trouble opens a window on why our news media is so bad.

The crime, the mass murder, that is the war in Iraq doesn't fall on a line from liberal to conservative passing through an index point in the middle. War isn't one dimensional, it's not even two dimensional. When people get killed in large numbers in an entirely unprovoked war, an abstraction for the convenience of the chattering classes distorts the entirely real horror that the people on the ground experience in every dimension of their being. Abstracting war into a graph of clean lines allows a corrupt regime to wage wars of conquest without paying a political price. Our media being what it is, the only line they focus on is the segment from right to far right. They don't make it as far as zero, the center.

The dishonest reporting and discussion of the comfortable media and it's parasites, the pundits, prevents the American People from knowing what is really happening. When the retaliation comes here, and it will, Americans will be left wondering why we are being attacked again. It could lead to a spiral of wars such as we see in the Israeli-Lebanon crisis.

If you want to reduce war to lines Goya's etchings are about your best hope of seeing a clear picture.

A Correction, Maybe

Yesterday's post about Christie Todd Whitman contained what might be an inaccuracy. The news account it was based on said that Todd Whitman predicted Condoleeza Rice would be the Presidential nominee but a news account on the radio this morning said that she predicted Condi would be the Vice-Presidential nominee. This might be a minor difference, as the Bush II- Cheney regime has shown. Young Bush wasn't even trusted with the entry level decision of a presidential nominee and Cheney was left with the responsibility of choosing himself. But the point is great enough to make the attempt at a correction.

The main points about phony "moderate" Republicanism and the rewarding of a disastrous job history such as Rice has had remain unchanged.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Only Interesting Question About Janet Jackson

Since he's the one who pulled her clothes apart, exposing her nipple, why isn't it known as the Justin Timberlake incident?

Runner up question: Why is anyone still talking about this?

Oh, So Now I Know

from my e-mail box:

Dear Mr. olvlzl,

Because we have a similar last name I wanted to tell you about the legacy that we might share an interest in.....

sincerely yours, Glenn Symonds

Dear Mr. Symonds,
Thank you for your informative letter. I'd never known if olvlzl was my first name or my last name so it's nice to know. As for it's being similar to your last name, I suspect it's actually pronounced "Throckmorton". Maybe I should consider a phonetic spelling in the future.

Good luck with securing the legacy. Though, as you can see, I don't think I'm really entitled to invest in its retrieval.


And Speaking of the "moderate" McCain

It would seem that "reform" even as moderate as the measly campaign financing band aid proposals being made are too wild and crazy for John McCain in the run up to his run for the Republican nomination.

Attend The Tales of Christie Todd, Her "moderation" is Just a Fraud

Remeber last year when Christie Todd Whitman was shilling her book "It's My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart (sic.) of the Republican Party and the Future of America"? Remember hearing her on the chat shows about how the radical right had robbed the true Republicans, the "moderates", of their birthright? Well, that was last year and my guess is the book is gone from remainders to the buck a book table., though you can be sure that Christie herself has a slightly higher price.

Christie was speaking in New Hampshire yesterday, at the Strafford County Republican Women's group and it sounded like she's quite prepared to accept whoever the far right puts up as long as they've got an "R" after their name. "We need to agree to disagree without being disagreeable", and the Republican party is misunderstood with an "unfair reputation as a mean-spirited, litmus-test party,". I'm sure that Supreme Court Justice Harriet Miers would say the same thing if she'd been addressing the Republican ladies present.

Christie's cosy chat wouldn't have been worth mentioning if she hadn't made a rather astonishing prediction, that if Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton that the Republicans would nominate Condi Rice as their nominee. For reasons I've given here recently, Condoleeza Rice is certainly the most incompetent National Security Advisor and is in the running as most incompetent Secretary of State in the history of the country. You might be forgiven for anticipating that the "moderate" Christie Todd Whitman had warned the gathered Republican women against supporting Condi for a promotion to the highest office but you would be wrong. . The newspaper account doesn't sound as if she was prepared to do anything to prevent a complete idiot and fraud from being her party's nominee or to support yet another total idiot to follow in the line of Ford, Reagan, Bush I and now Bush II.

Since she is usually lumped with other "moderates" as Colin Powell, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and various others it's not to be expected that Whitman really meant anything by trying to take the Republican Party back to the center. The "moderate" Republican designation is a PR gimmick, it has nothing to do with reality or intentions. They are the mask over the criminal and cynical bulk of the Republican Party. Since the "moderates" have given their support to the Bush II junta, the most criminal regime since the Reagan administration; it isn't any surprise that one of the "moderates" biggest frauds, Christie Todd Whitman, is fully prepared to support another fraud from the far right of her putrid Party.

Pete McClosky, the last real moderate Republican is supporting the Democrats this year.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sick, and the weather stinks. Please consider this one of those summer reruns.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Question Asked on Another Website About the Bombing of Lebanon:
Do You Like Country
x ?

The Answer: What the hell does "like" have to do with it? People are getting killed and who I like or don't like has about as much to do with that as whether or not I approve the existence of tungsten.

Good Lord, get a grip on yourself. This isn't a high school popularity contest. None of the sides is going to just evaporate - not without both of them evaporating now a days. Five years from now they are all going to be there minus the people who are getting killed. Do you think the survivors are going to forget?

No, I don't care if it was a good idea to do something before even I was born, that's not what is going to keep people from getting killed.

I don't happen to like the people in control on any of the sides but they are the ones who are going to have to be forced to settle this. Not that that's going to happen while George "I'm the rightest hand of God" Bush is in office and trying to bring about the epic destruction of Revelations.

How Effective Making Peace With Your Friends

Let me get this straight. These talks in Rome exclude Hezbollah, Iran and Syria? Yet the Bush administration thinks trying to get a cease-fire is a waste of time?

Why Rome? Condi need new shoes?

Guess it's Officially a Bush Regime Talking Point Now

Just heard on NPR's Morning Edition, Renee Montagne announcing that tomorrow they would have a follow up to this mornings blather session with Richard Armitage. Tomorrow's 'balance' will be an explanation of the Bush "vision for A New Middle East ™ ".

A New Middle East is, of course, the replacement point for "Road Map for Peace ™".

Richard Armitage. Boy, is NPR a low priority on the Republican talking points network or what. He's given bum information to Renee before. Wouldn't you think Morning Edition would bother keeping track of the reliablity of their repeat blatherers' accuracy?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A ceasefire at this time would be inconvenient. It wouldn't fit into our plans for the region and besides I don't want to have to do this ever again. Unless we can get that permanent peace that no one has gotten over the past sixty years it's just not worth it. Don't bother me.

Condi Rice to Those Who Will Die Tomorrow

A Note to NPR

Dear NPR,
When when you want to say something about the DLC and how it interacts with the majority of the Democratic Party Mara Liasson isn't putting your best foot forward.

Having heard her year after year spitting poison on Democrats, yes, even the too conservative members of the DLC who actually had the nerve to achieve political office, nothing she says about the party is believable. Anyone with a brain would know that what Mara Liasson says about Democrats is almost certainly Republican propaganda.

A Note to NPR Supporters Who are Democrats

Dump NPR. The money I used to give them is going to Buzzflash now.

"A New Middle East" ™ Condi Rice

hy won't the Bush II regime ask for a cease fire in Lebanon? Why, it's because it's just not good enough to put Condi and the rest of them to all the trouble of trying to get one.

What do they have to offer instead of a cease fire?

They've got this nifty new slogan. That old one, "road map for peace" wasn't selling anymore for some reason.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What Am I Not Getting About Condi Rice?

Here we have a person who was the National Security Advisor, THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR! on whose watch Sept. 11th attacks happened as she blew off the warnings that they were likely to happen.

We have a person who was obviously engaged in extensive piano practice for her appearances with Yo Yo Ma during the time she was National Security Advisor, NOT the person in charge of postage stamp design. I'm talking easily four to six hours a day. She wasn't playing On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away with him.

We have a person who clearly lied to get the United States into a disastrous war in Iraq, who keeps lying to keep the United States in the disaster that the Bush regime has created in Iraq. Whose efforts have led to radicalized of people throughout the Middle East and who has presided over the worst hit the United States has taken in prestige since Vietnam if not never before.

We have her as Secretary of State presiding over a willfully nonfeasant response to the crisis between Israel and Lebanon. Well, that is if you don't count the speed up in bomb delivery to Israel, bound to help things. Get worse. As if the Arabs and Moslems don't have enough reason to hate us already.

My Lord, I haven't even begun to list her incompetence and lies. Yet Condi Rice is still given a complete pass by the media in the United States.

Once again, how criminally incompetent does a Republican have to be before the press goes after them at least as strongly as it did those members of the Clinton administration who were entirely exonerated of any wrong doing? The press was so diligent going after members of the Clinton administration they provided entirely fabricated quotes and incidents for them to report.

Am I the only one who has a problem with the freakin' National Security Advisor running over thier scales during the hours they are supposed to be protecting the People of the United States? I mean, I majored in piano in college but if she wanted to play piano she should have taken a less important day job.

Maybe you have to be a musician to understand the implications.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

My Thanks to the Wasp

that stung me in several places forcing me to take a particularly large does of antihistamines and making me to sleep for several hours. I needed that.

I am hoping for more a more normal level of posting tomorrow.

There is no Blogosphere There Are Only Blogs and the Bloggers who Blog Them

Howard Kurtz has written on that Pew poll of actual, real, live, bloggers, the phone poll that managed to snare, count 'em, 233 "self-identified" bloggers over an eight months period. I wonder if "self-identified bloggers" are like "admitted homosexuals" as the quaint phrase used to go. Is there such a thing as a latent blogger? Since people aren't drafted into blogging the to say they are "self-identified" is more than a bit tautological, unless you want to stress it for purposes of accusation.

Why even a puff artist like Kurtz regards this poll as anything but a joke is more interesting that anything the poll says. The only intelligent comments I've seen were made by Roger Ailes (the good one) who asked why it took them eight months to poll 233 bloggers.

But why would anyone do the poll at all? Doesn't a quick look at the various things called blogs tell you that a blog isn't any one kind of thing? What does Juan Cole's blog have in common with the pigeon droppings found at just about any Republican blog? One is a highly informed discussion of the Middle East, the others include Jonah Goldberg, his dam, Michelle Malkin and any number of other bilge pumps. But the poll didn't stop with that. It included non-political blogs and even blogs that didn't use any text at all. Again Roger Ailes asked if the comments on those blogs were done by rebus. Why didn't the Pew include reviewers while they were at it? Some people, for reasons unfathomable, seem addicted to that activity. There are even reviewer profiles. Those people seem to be the type who would jump at the chance to be polled.

It would be good to know more about the origin and motivation of the poll and why it was released just as the strange wars between the leftist blogs and the corporate media has heated up again. Certainly the Pew has the ability to tabulate the results from 233 people a lot faster than it did. Or have they no computers? Which would explain the apparent cluelessness about the blogs. Since they said that the results are already out of date you wonder why they would release the shoddy thing at all. It doesn't do much for their reputation for professionalism or regard for accuracy. Not that that's going to keep them off NPR.

When you start with a stupid premise the results are likely to be even stupider. Blogging is not even a genre of communication. It is a medium that people choose to use in different ways. Some worth serious consideration, some experimental to various levels of success and of lot of it just silly. Blogs are like paper. Paper can be used to print something as excellent as Harpers or as deranged as Spotlight or it can be used to Xerox your buttocks to send to someone you love, or not as the case may be. But an analysis of publishing that conflates the best and worst isn't going to reveal much. Other than how much pulp is consumed or the effects of postal rate changes, lumping them together is absurd.

Call me suspicious but this poll doesn't sit right with me. The attempt by the commercial media to get hold of blogging, to exclude us, the great unwashed isn't a surprise. They want it all for themselves just as they do everything else. It must really get their goat that an emerging and influential form of information dispersal is free, there for the using of anyone who chooses. It is so unlike the electronic media they are so invested in which they can control due to its high cost and which has licensing and contractual requirements for beginning. It's their public domain. Blogs are like paper to be used and even cheaper and more convenient. Political blogs are like samizdat was during the Brezhnev era of the Soviet Union only it's here and it's easier to distribute. Paper copied by hand and passed around, sounds a lot like blogs without computers, doesn't it?

Friday, July 21, 2006

So, Mr. Cokie, What did you mean to say?

Just now on Diane Rehm's show when asked if the Reed defeat was bad for Republicans you said "that kind of thing never happens,". What kind of thing, that REPUBLICANS never suffer for the hypocrisy and crimes of other Republicans? That, thanks to you and the rest of the media whores, is true.

Or did you mean that no politicians, Republicans or Democrats suffer from being painted with a broad brush in that way. If so: What? You don't listen to your wife's Monday morning hokum sessions?

Diane, Friday mornings on your otherwise fine show, pee-ewww!

We Won't Get Gay Marriage Today, Why Lose Elections Over It

Practical Politics are Idealistic Politics

A lot more than should be is going to be made of the break up of the couple who won the gay marriage case in Massachusetts. Having seen and heard them, they seem like the kind of people you look at and wonder how they could divorce. But as the flagship of legalized gay marriage they are a face of the issue. Their relationship, for better or worse, has political implications.

I won't criticize them for their case which became a winning issue for Republicans in 2004 and the basis of the Republican hate campaign this year. They were simply asking for the exercise of rights which were, are and always will be theirs.

My critique isn't with the rights or working for them, it's with the futile insistence on pushing them through to completion now whatever the consequences. Look around the country today. State after state is adopting gay marriage bans, often by popular vote. This is a direct result of the case being won in Massachusetts. And don't believe that gay marriage is a certainly there. The same court that approved it just approved a ballot measure to ban it.

Relying on the courts to guarantee this issue in the same way past courts struck down legal segregation is unrealistic. Consider who sits on the Supreme Court now. It's probably already certain that we couldn't win in that court and after Bush gets another stealth fascist on the bench we are a sure bet to lose the little progress that has been made. They are constantly pushing back on a host of civil rights issues for other, less hated, minorities with more political clout.

In a rational world a critique of gay marriage that includes gay divorce would be grounds for equal attacks on straight and notably divorce prone straight marriage. But the politics of stereotyping and hate don't work out of reason. Black people, Latinos, Jews, the rest of those with us on the right's hate list; it's always different rules for us.

You can rail against this double standard and should but in the meantime there are elections that have to be won. Winning elections, getting the best possible government is more important than anything else in 2006. We are on the cusp of losing it all, everything. All of the victories of the past are in danger. We have no choice but to plan strategies for success that factor in the double standards.

Any leftist who cares more about even the most important secondary issues than they do about gaining political power automatically puts themselves on the margins of politics. The greater leftist movement has to defer what can't be won today for another time. Practical and realistic politics can deliver what impractical impatience can't. That fact makes it the only truly idealistic politics.

Langston Hughes' most famous poem was written in 1951 on the eve of the first real fruit of the long and continuing black civil rights movement. But even with the enormous struggle and progress a lot of that dream is still unfulfilled. But no matter what we do, the dream of gay marriage is going to be deferred. That is as clear as the newspaper in front of your face. No matter how much some people might pretend it is not going to be ours now. Other unfulfilled rights are more attainable today but not with a Republican government. Why should those be deferred for gay marriage?

Note: I wonder how many of the people who recite the line from Langston Hughes knows he was gay.

Hard week of work, sorry for the light posting. I hope to post something substantial on Friday.

I'd do it now but it would sound like the mumblings of an insomniac in the small hours of the morning, which is what it would be.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

If You Believe Bush Cares About Zygotes I've Got Some Cold Fusion To Sell You

Please stick with me. Though stem cell talk gets absurd fast you might catch glimpses of light. Of a sort.

If a fertilized ovum is "human life" then a cell derived from it can also be "human life". At least if the cell line could produce a viable embryo. That's the argument of the Bush regime and the dopes they're roping in with their stem cell snake oil. This, however, gets them into some knotty questions that have yet to be answered. If they were sincere, which they aren't, then they would have no choice but to answer them and act accordingly. It would be morally depraved to sweep the issues and so the embryos into the dust heap of political expediency.

To start with, we all know that most of these embryos will be discarded. They are being discarded just about every day now. Yet George Bush and the Republicans in congress aren't proposing a ban on in vitro fertilization which routinely creates these extra embryos. Why not? By allowing this failure ridden procedure to go on is to create many thousands of "human lives" destined to die in the procedure or when they are flushed away unwanted after frozen storage. How can these actual embryos be less important to them than theoretical "embryos" yet to be created by as yet undiscovered techniques? They're already in a swivet over those theoretical "embryos" now. And remember, those "embryos" "are only a theory" today.

But that's only the beginning of the moral dilemmas.

If a fertilized ovum is "life" and the first division splits, identical twins of triplets may result. In that case each cell derived from the original cell is potentially an individual life. I won't mention the implications of how many souls were present in the original cell only because it would distract from my purpose here.

If it was possible, Aldous Huxley like, to divide an embryo many times over each division must be individual "life". You begin to see the problem this creates for them. What will happen in the future if cloning of individual cells into full term infants becomes possible. At what point does a cell lose its "personhood"? Did those cells which had the potential to be fully cloned always have "personhood"? Does their "personhood" come about only when science makes it a real possibility? Do they really feel comfortable with giving those kinds of power to scientists? Will there have to be ethics panels for all elective operations that result in the destruction of cells that could possibly become "life"?

As said they are prepared to ban the creation of embryos derived from these cell lines. They hold that all cells that could potentially produce an embryo are "human life". If that is true then the only way to preserve the "life" of these frozen embryos is for a cell line derived from it to be maintained and cells derived from it to be used. If that was done then the "life" would continue as long as cells from the line are alive in or outside of another person's body. The only "hope" for the vast majority of these "human lives" is to be continued as cell lines to be implanted for therapeutic purposes.

Who knows? Some of these "human lives" could outlive all of us when kept alive this way. Who is George Bush to cut their potential lives short with his ban on stem cell research? We know that they'll be flushed down the drain otherwise. Maybe it is the duty of all faith-based-life-begins-at-fertilization types to volunteer to host cells from these lines in order that these lives be saved. And so we come full spiral. Downward.

It's all poppycock. We are talking about people who have given Israel a week to bomb the hell out of Lebanon leading to the killing scores of real, viable, entirely innocent people on both sides. Condi won't even interrupt her social life to go over early and try for a breakthrough. And while they diddle and delay they debate the morality of stem cell research. It's all grandstanding, a political commercial for the logic deficient. They don't believe it. These "snowflakes" are just political tools and if they win the election this fall the issue will melt away faster than Orrin Hatch can say, "Let's make a deal,".

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cooler Kitchen Energy Savings Safer Cooking Aprovecho's Fireless Cooking a houshold hint

Our corporate media has deep-sixed any serious consideration of energy conservation, too practical, too easily done right now and no profit for the oil companies who sponsor them. But that doesn't mean that we can't get some benefit from the practical knowledge that is already available.

Although some of the energy efficiency ideas found at the Aprovecho Research Center won't fit a suburban or urban dwellers life, one thing they've studied can be used beneficially by just about everyone. "Fireless cooking" is a way to save up to 70% of energy used in cooking while requiring less attention by the cook as well as other benefits. Its research has shown that no matter what kind of stove is being used the greatest energy savings are achieved through using this kind of cooking.

Having tried it for over a year, it is simple and makes life a lot easier. In this heatwave it also cuts down standing over a hot stove and having hot pots heat up the kitchen.

What the technique involves is cooking food over heat for a short time, covering it and putting the pot in an insulated container or blanket sufficient to keep the heat in to cook the food. I use it for rice all the time now.

To cook rice this way:
About an hour before you would normally begin cooking rice you put it in a pot with about 1/3rd less water than you would usually use (liking rice a bit softer I usually use the full amount). You boil the rice for four minutes, turn off the stove and let it boil another minute or two. Then cover it, put the covered pot inside some kind of insulation and let it continue to cook for an hour to an hour and a half. If you have done it right the rice will be cooked, won't have stuck to the pot and won't have burned. Larger amounts of food cooked this way work better than smaller amounts but if well insulated you can cook even a cup of rice this way.

The insulation that is easiest to use is a clean, double layer of synthetic blanket, completely enclosing the pot. I usually put a piece of cardboard under the pot as added insulation. A dry woolen or cotton blanket or towel of sufficient thickness will work too as long as it's dry.

Aprovechos Research has a tri-fold brochure giving full instructions for cooking many foods and for using different types of insulation. You can check out their other interesting and practical energy savings booklets too.

Their website is:

Save energy, make Dick Cheney fume.

Irresponsible Corporate Media Makes Responsible Government Impossible

Last Sunday's Boston Globe had a column by David Luberoff which clearly explains the origins of the emerging Big Dig disaster. He points out that the project, originally funded through the federal highway system, lost a lot of its federal support half-way through. Instead of facing that reality, the politicians in Massachusetts didn't make up the difference with state and local taxes and tolls. One of the truest things in life is that while you often don't get what you pay for, you never get what you don't pay for. You know that's true when you are dealing with a large corporation like Bechtel with armies of bean counters making sure that they get maximum profits from their projects.

What went wrong in the face of warnings by people who knew what they were talking about - Massachusetts has probably the highest percentage of those on the continent- is just beginning to be studied. While they are looking at that I hope someone will look into the more general political atmosphere that led to the bad decisions. I don't only mean the steady stream of Republican governors during most of the Big Dig.

Given their refusal to monitor themselves for accuracy and responsibility, we won't get the media's role in promoting gross irresponsibility in politicians. At least not from them. But it really does largely fall on the media. Through call-in shows, wise-guy on-air personalities, connected owners and those who have created today's media sewer, anyone who steps up and tells the truth, "You want this done, you are going to have to pay for it," gets their head handed to them. They make lying and dereliction of duty requirements for retaining a political office or civil service job. Reporting with enough time or column space to really explain an issue costs more while the truths uncovered are insufficiently entertaining to maximize profits. And some of those truths might be most unwelcome at the club.

The Republican Party, who used to pride themselves on responsibility, now specialize in this kind of winning through lying. With the media fully in support they tell lies designed to win elections. Most people have a weakness for believing what they want to hear. The busy public, without the technical knowledge or time to look at the details buys the lies until reality strikes and they can't ignore it any longer. How else do you think Bush I lost to Bill Clinton despite the insane press adulation following Bush War I and the war they waged against Clinton as soon as it was clear he had a chance to win?

But if you want good government, safe and effective civil engineering projects, the rest of the benefits that only government can deliver, then we can't wait for the disaster to deliver the real news. The cost in lives, time and remedial action are multiplied many times by the lies and propaganda spread by the media.

The often repeated line, "Good, fast or cheap. Pick two." sums up the current political climate that this irresponsibility has produced. But as the Big Dig is beginning to prove, good is the only way to get faster and cheaper. Maybe the same applies to news media getting it right. But getting it right isn't what today's profit-driven and cynically self-interested media is all about.

Today's Globe has an article in which Michael Dukakis defends his administration's role in the Big Dig. Having read about the project from its beginning, he makes a good case. But Dukakis is just a boring detail guy the press rejected two decades ago.

Note: Thanks to Portia for pointing out today's excellent H.D.S. Greenway column, Israel's perilous overkill. See:

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Disaster the Bush Regime Has Made of the Middle East Exposes the Utter Corruption of America's Ruling Elite

You might wonder why so little has been said here about the Middle East, I have to admit that the combination of frustration, exasperation and sheer fury have succeeded in leaving me at a loss to say anything.

But after a weekend of George W. Bush pig and BBQ jokes when asked serious questions about ongoing killing, Condi Rice boldfaced lying about the relationship that her and Georges Iraq war has to the situation in Lebanon and seeing Newt Gingrich on Russert yesterday leaves a question that has to be asked.

How incompetent does a right-wing Republican have to be before the ruling elites who own and control our media calls them on it? How big does that pile of bodies have to get? How many displaced people does it have to produce? How much more hated does the United States have to become? Does their desire for tax cuts, for looted national assets for graft blind them to the the criminal neglect of regime they've supported? Are they so like drunken sailors that tomorrow's consequences are nothing to them?

Since our elites have proven themselves to be entirely corrupt it is to We, the People to depose them and replace them with responsible adults with a sense of public purpose. If we don't then we will still be the ones who pay but we won't have anyone else to blame but ourselves.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Before Turning Off My Radio in Disgust

this morning, I heard the first few minutes of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me". I won't bore you with the details but one of the allegedly witty stories force a question.

Is going to the Ritz with a blood-soaked cabloid whore or a corporate thief who further impoverished tens of thousands the already poor, both with pockets full of spendin' loot and connections, a better date than "even sharing a falafel with a homeless man,"?

I suspect that someone asking that question with slightly different wording to cover the same facts would elicit a "Why are you asking such a stupid question. Of course, it is, " response.

Making Fascism Seem Normal Scalia Includes Bush Signing Statement in an Opinion

If you haven't read it yet, please read Charlie Savage's article in today's Boston Globe about the implications of Scalia's dissent from the Guantanamo decision. Specifically consider the status that the inclusion of the Bush signing statement in his dissent gives it.

Signing statements are one of the biggest warning signals that "strict construction", "originalism", "federalism", etc. are smoke screens of the well-funded Republican legal team. They are euphemisms for fascism. The theft of the legislative role by the executive is clear, obvious and dangerous. Scalia's insertion of it in an opinion is an attempt to make these extra-constitutional tools of despotism seem normal.

This gradual, very gradual, normalization of anti-democratic ideas has been one of the Republican-fascists' more successful strategies. The Democratic establishment falls for it just about every time as only the most serious and thoughtful members of the corporate media have reservations about them. Those reservations seldom rise to the same level of importance to them as invitations to the best parties so they are stated in very timid voices. Most of the media are either dupes or outright fascists themselves. Their certain attacks on Democrats or others who sound the alarm are another successful part of the strategy.

Scalia and the rest of the ascendant Supreme Court majority are paving the way for real, actual, one-Republican-man-rule in this country. We don't have any time to argue about the niceties of the issue or the harshness of the language required to spread the news. They have to be stopped now or the results will be catastrophic.

Respect John Dean but Goldwater Conservatism Won't Be Restored

John Dean is trying to do for "Goldwater conservatism" what we are hoping to do for the left, take it back from the corporate crowd. Large parts of his recent columns sound like the flip side of some of the better written leftist blogs, I haven't read his book so can't comment on it. It is probably a good idea to try to take one of the major movements of American politics away from the religious fascists, the corporate plunderers and the psychotic radicals, that can only be for the good. I suspect that John Dean will find that to take conservatism back to even Goldwater will be impossible. Goldwater's ideas were too close to the plunderers and radicals, even to some of the less fanatical religious fascists to lend itself to being a reform movement. I suspect it, I'll be very, very happy to say I was wrong if that isn't the case.

Leaving aside that John Dean's memories of Goldwater Republicanism are much rosier than many of ours, let's get straight to a practical problem. If the goal is securing democracy then I am certain that won't happen without an enormous change in the legal structure and the general culture of the United States. An ignorant, cynical, self-interested population will not produce democracy. If it gets bad enough they won't even aspire to democracy. That is what we are seeing in a population with the worst presidency in its history imposed on it through dodgey elections and even dodgier actions by the judiciary.

If democracy is to be restored then the commercial interests that promote ignorance, cynicism, and selfishness will have to be kept at the margins, not placed in charge of the only effective means of mass education, the electronic media; that means strict control and requirements of fairness and public service imposed and enforced by federal regulation. I don't see the tiny group of idealistic Goldwater Republicans going for that.

The essential forerunner of any real democratic restoration is the definitive overturning of a series of laws and court rulings, foremost among those the line of these that create corporations as "persons". We will get nowhere until that monster is destroyed.

Let's give some level of cooperation a test, though. Maybe if the left and the people John Dean is putting his hopes in got together and protected the Bill of Rights from the attack it is under by the religious fascists and psychotic radicals at the behest of the corporate plunderers we might find other areas of agreement. Let's make it a requirement that there be consensus on any amendment of the Bill of Rights, all of the Senate, all of the State legislatures, throw in all of the House of Representatives at first and throw that aside as a "compromise" if necessary.

The Senate came within one vote of the super majority needed to start slicing up the First amendment. None of us should be sleeping soundly until that can't happen again.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Had what I believe they call connectivity issues this morning, will try to post tonight. Sorry about this.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fertilize The New Republic With Republican Blog Depravity See What Grows

You are being spared the five-hundred word post on the recent goody-two-shoes tattle-tailing on us leftist bloggers for using dirty words. Echidne, digby and others have written well and with good humor on the subject. I doubt that impressionable children are scouring leftist political blogs looking for cheap thrills, though it's clear that grown "journalists" are. If I'm wrong about that at least the kids are working on their reading skills. The most the subject deserves is to say that everyone has a right to decide for themselves. Either way it's a trivial thing.

But the question that Chris Bowers of mydd asked yesterday is worth thinking about more. The Republican blogs daily incitement to murder the 4.5 non-Scalito justices or someone actually on the left seldom gets mentioned in The New Republic, The LA Times, Slate or other venues of the lazy commentariat who bemoan the mythical Kosa Nostra. Given the ease of collection, you would think that this would be a well-tapped natural resource for those living the good live of "opinion journalism". Just look at the Republican blogs, the guano is waist deep.

It's because the target of the prissy press isn't the mot vulgare or violent talk, it's the leftist bloggers who provide something the commercial media will provide over their dead bodies. Leftist commentary and information that doesn't favor the corporate oligarchy is what it's about.

The "liberal media" in the U.S. is as much a part of the establishment as the News and World Report of the Wall Street Journal. They represent the leftmost point that the discussion has been allowed to go, which isn't on the left at all.

That The New Republic has joined in the finger shaking is no surprise. They have existed for most of our lives on the fiction that they are a liberal voice, something they stopped being a long, long time ago. They are the part of the corporate and kept media that is the most endangered by the emergence of real, leftist news sources. So they're freaking.

As for us, we should collect the evidence and whenever the media whores or their associated academics start flapping their lips and tut-tutting we should pitch it to them. Silk slippers and soft hands are ill-prepared to deal with manure. The only use for that requires composting and turning. Mr. Bowers has asked just the right question, we need to follow through. Pile the evidence of Republican depravity on Marty's mag until they can't ignore it any more.

Note: I'm not bothering with "conservative blogs" anymore, they're Republican mouth pieces. Let the party of Hayes, Helms and Bush answer for their trolls.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Mystery From the Time When Abortion Was Illegal and Dangerous

The first week of April, 1983, in the small city of Somersworth, New Hampshire, a couple started to do some house cleaning. One thing they needed to get rid of was an old steamer trunk a woman had asked them to store for her. She had long since moved and they couldn't return it. Opening the trunk they were shocked to find five mummified skeletons of babies wrapped in newspapers. They called the police.

The newspapers dated from the late 40s and early 50s. The trunk had been bought from Hirsch's Department Store in town about the same time. I knew old Mr. Hirsch and used to shop at his store but we never discussed the case.

The woman who owned the trunk was in her 60s in 1983. The papers say she was called a "pillar of the community" when she lived in the area. People who remembered her said that at the time the babies had been killed she often appeared to be pregnant but she never had children. The authorities found her but she wouldn't say anything about the trunk. I don' t know of any legal pressure put on her to talk. The fact that there were five corpses of infants wrapped in newspapers from different years certainly suggests serial infanticide, not a misdemeanor in anyone's book.

Knowing a member of the Somersworth Police force at the time, I heard that they suspected a "professional baby snuffing ring" was involved with the case. An account I read online said that it's possible that it involved phony adoptions arranged for unwed mothers, something I didn't hear back then. The policeman told me that they were warned that if they pursued the case too far they could end up dead. They had been warned that people involved still lived in the area and could make good on that threat. He also told me, and the newspapers reported, that the disappearance and presumed murder of a Visiting Nurse in the early 50s might be related to the case.

After a rash of articles the story died. I don' t know if reporters came to a dead end or if they had threats too. I don't know what happened to the woman who owned the trunk or if anything else was ever discovered in the case. My acquaintance on the police force has died so that source of information is closed too.

You should keep in mind that in 1983 New Hampshire was a solidly Republican state with an officially anti-abortion political and media machine in control. They seemed to be oddly uninterested in solving the case and bringing murderers to justice.

No doubt you know where this is leading. When abortion is illegal this kind of thing happens. "Baby snuffer" was a phrase I'd never heard before this case but which was common enough to develop it's own term in pre-Roe America. There are accounts of infanticide for profit through out recorded history. Ancient papyri dug up in Egypt have instructions from a husband ordering his pregnant wife to kill the baby if it turns out to be a girl. It happens today.

Given that the United States has the most primitive and ineffective contraception program in the developed world; indeed, many third world countries do a much better job, a needlessly high abortion rate is entirely acceptable to the religious and political leaders who oppose effective promotion of contraception. Remember that most contraception was also illegal or actively discouraged at the time these murders took place.

Given that this kind of trade existed in pre-Roe America, professional infanticide wasn't considered too high a price to pay either. And that is apart from the vastly more common trade in fatally dangerous, illegal abortions. Unless Roe is protected everywhere it is certain that these will make a comeback. It wouldn't be shocking to find that they already had in some places.

What is it they hate so much about women having control of their bodies that they think this is worth the price? And Why do we put up with these depraved, dishonest and delusional people having any say in the matter?

The Boston Globe and Foster's Daily Democrat (a solidly Republican paper) were consulted for this post. Some of the details found on a website don't match what I remember so I will not give a URL, though it's been more than twenty years since I heard some of this.

Some Non-Profits Need Shaking Up Too

Are the leaders of some of our most prominent groups too comfortable inside the Washington establishment? If they are then they need to have it shown to them that revolution can happen in non-profit groups. Maybe it's time to change more than Lieberman.

NARAL's endorsement of Joe Lieberman, the man who helped put Alito on the court is bound to hurt the organization. And it should. There should be a price paid by a liberal group that gets too involved with the DC establishment and ends up betraying their own cause. By doing that they risk defrauding their donors and supporters.

That the support NARAL is giving Lieberman only indirectly supports Supreme Court appointments like Alito's is no excuse. The line from Lieberman and others who regularly cave in on the most appalling judicial appointments is as bright as can be. Since judges are appointed for life and have the power to prevent laws going into effect their appointments are more dangerous than laws passed by congress. Two words, David Sentelle. The congress might lose power in the next election and their bad decisions overturned. Liberals have a bad habit of just throwing up their hands at a stinking bad Supreme Court ruling and saying "Well, those are the rules. We've got to just accept them,".

If NARAL is in the hands of people too short-sighted to see that then it needs new leadership. Maybe people who support NARAL need to run a slate of non-insider candidates and get some new blood in. Members of other groups should give their leadership an effectiveness and reality check too.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What I Learned In Lesson One of HTML

Many of you will not be able to believe this, but there are those of us who are entirely ignorant of basic computing, even of HTML. When I started this blog two short months ago I had heard of it but didn't know much about it other than a parenthesis followed by an 8 would produce an unwanted smiley face. I naively thought I'd be able to do this without it. But I was wrong. Even installing the blog roll has proven impossible. So I've begun a course to learn the tedious stuff.

The big question of the day though, finding out there is a choice I can't make up my mind. Serif or san-serif? Any recommendations?

Connecticut for Lieberman Ego Run Amok Case Closed

If any of you are scholars of this area of American History can you tell us? Has there ever been a party named for a single individual before? Even Perot didn't name his "party" after himself. Senator Schumer and the rest of the pro-Joe Democrats should be questioning their decision to support someone who has made this kind of outrageous display.

It gives me no pleasure to point out that Joe Lieberman, all evidence to the contrary, irrationally believes that he isn't just a gifted politician but that he is a man of destiny. With nothing but an ill advised and counterproductive nomination as Vice President to support it, he believes that his political career is a key to the fate of the nation. Unfortunately, given the potential of this embarrassing display of self-delusion to keep the Republicans in control of the Senate, he might be tragically right.

There will be finger pointing at the people who support Ned Lamont for the nomination. This is short sighted in two ways. Joe Lieberman hasn't promised publicly that he wouldn't bolt the Democratic Party if selected as its nominee. There isn't any guarantee that the suspicions that he had planned to do that from the start aren't right. Without that promise made with a promise to vacate the office if he bolted Connecticut Democrats couldn't be certain that they weren't nominating the next Republican Senator from their state.

Second, Lamont and the prominent Democrats around him have announced that they will support whoever the Democratic Voters in Connecticut choose as their nominee. Lieberman's supporters and he, himself, haven't shown this kind of loyalty to Democratic Voters. Democratic Voters are owed loyalty and must insist that anyone asking for their nomination promise to respect their decision. All Democrats, everywhere had better clear up that misunderstanding right now.

No, for Joe it's all about Joe. Nothing is more important than him. This is the kind of thing that happens in a political culture that forgets that the People are supreme, that Citizen Voter is the highest office that anyone can aspire to. The office holders, yes, even those magisterial Senators, are the servants of the People.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Having Seen Tucker Carlson's Act This Evening on MSNBC

I only regret that I didn't put things more strongly this morning. The way he tried to put things in the mouth of the representative of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the way he tried to prevent the man from correcting him was certainly not journalism at its finest.

Someone ask Rick Kaplan if it was a moment that made him proud of his work there.

Does the Most August Shorenstein Center at Harvard Hold Itself to the Same Standard That It Does the Blogs?

The Boston Globe article by Michael Grynbaum about the tussle between Kos and Zengerle of the incredible shrinking New Republic had legs. It's been much discussed on the blogs and in the corporate media. Some of the latter even noted that Zengerle most un-journalistically neglected to check out his bogus sources while slamming Kos for journalistic sins. This teensy detail somehow slipped past Grynbaum, the professional journalist, while being reported all over the leftist blogs.

Passing by Grynbaum's use of comments by an editor of that late and great model of journalistic excellence, "George Magazine", let me point out something that hasn't been discussed, the mandatory quote from the Shorenstein Center.

"The Blogosphere has always been mainly about scrutinizing everybody else and expressing violent opinions about them," said Alex X. Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy." "Kos is a very powerful blog, so in that sense it's taken on the vulnerability of some of the [political] leaders." My bolding.

The Shorenstein Center being one of those institutions that mix the officially respectable with those actually worthy of respect, let me selectively list some of its fellows and honorees.

Connie Chung, John Ellis, Rick Kaplan, Judy Woodruff, Alan Simpson, Roger Rosenblather, uh, Rosenblatt, Evan Thomas, Andrea Mitchell and Jim Lehrer.

- Alan Simpson was the Senator from Wyoming who lectured the "haughty and pampered" press on its being so mean over human rights lapses by that great, and well oiled, friend of America, Saddam Hussein, very shortly before that became politically untenable. Then he denied it. I seem to recall CNN puclicly announcing that it had film of Simpson making veiled threats of congressional action which they declined to release. Makes you wonder what else he has to teach journalists.

- John Ellis, Bush cousin and promoter of the family interests during his hobby career as a journalist. Cousin Ellis, as you will remember, was at FOX in 2000 where he held up the declaration of Gore as the winner while sharing inside information with cousin George's campaign on election night as the putsch was ignited. I'm sure he had lots to tell about standards of ethics during his Shorenstein time. He has also been honored by cousin George.

- Rick Kaplan, the man who stole Tucker Carlson away from PBS for MSNBC which he was running. Removing Carlson's malignant presence from PBS may have been his crowning achievement in journalism. MSNBC under him remained a right-wing sewer. Just how running it and hiring Carlson fit in to the Shorenstein's vision of quality journalism is worth a book in itself.

- Judy Woodruff, anyone who saw her slavish shilling for Republicans needs no explaination of her presence on this list.

- Evan Thomas and Roger Rosenblatt both held a "Murrow" Visiting Professorship. I'm not saying those folks at the Shorenstein don't have a sense of irony. I wonder if anyone was indelicate enough to mention getting people killed with journalism, Thomas' unique talent. Certainly not Roger Rosenblatt, the ever correct if vapid and otherwise useless essayist.

Finally there is the Shorenstein's Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism. Jim Lehrer and Andrea Mitchell are the two most recent recipients. Enough said.

Come to think of it, Connie Chung is too much of a journalist to go on the list. Sorry, Connie.

Does the leadership of the Shorenstein feel as free to criticize its associated professional journalists and power players as it does the blogs? Does it consider their multiple sins and shortcomings as painting the entire commercial media in the same way it has painted the blogs over alleged actions by individual bloggers? These professionals are all freely hired by media companies with large budgets whereas the blogs generally operate on an individual, volunteer basis. Their being hired and retained while practicing the most disgusting lapses of alleged jounalistic ethics can't be seen as anything but an endorsement of their practices. Bloggers are self-selected. Is the Shorenstein Center really proud of these honorees or is it just another case of Harvard choosing to not notice the smell while chasing after the rich and prestigious?

Note: I believe "Roger Rosenblather" is a Howard Zinn quote, just to live up to a standard of journalistic ethics befitting a leftist blogger.

Also, for the record, while respecting Markos' achievement I'm not a regular reader of Daily Kos and have never felt beholden to it, its community or its founder. Anyone who describes Kos as having any kind of leadership in the huge, diverse and wonderfully independent world of leftist blogging hasn't got a clue. You can leave me out of it, thank you. Besides, everyone knows it's really James Wolcott and The Rude Pundit who set the pace. Get with it, Shorenstein.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

From My Mailbox

"Your blog is one of the most unorthodox leftist blogs anywhere".

Really? I don't plan it that way. Don't plan much at all, in fact. I'm kind of proud that you felt moved to write this and will post it.

Belivers and Non-believers on the Left Must Unite For the Common Good
Part One: in which I come clean

It would suit me if this blog didn't have to deal with the divisive, complex and extremely personal topic of religion but the fact is most Americans believe in a God and belief has a profound impact on our politics. Religion can't be ignored or dismissed. The participation of both non-believers and believers is essential for the left to succeed politically in the United States.

I don't think that the left would come out the loser in an honest religious fight. Make that an HONEST fight, not one assuming that the imperial religion the Republican right promotes is the alpha and omega of "faith". It's not even the alpha, they, themselves, don't believe most of it but that's for later. Before going on I'm going to let you know where I'm coming from on the issue.

About religion, nothing can be objectively known. Science deals with the physical world as observable and meaureable phenomena. No measurements, no science. Science is plainly the most successful way of knowing about the universe. Religion doesn't deal with what is knowable in an objective way. Religion is belief of something beside what can be physically known. Real religious belief can't be objectively passed on by reason or repeatable observations, it has to be experienced personally. Remember, I'm talking about authentic religious beliefs, not about fundamentalism or organized, dogmatic religion. This isn't an encyclopedic survey of asserted beliefs.

I believe in God. I can't tell you what that means. Again, religious belief is an experience not a logical argument that can be transferred. The experience didn't really happen to me until I'd studied non-theistic Buddhism and saw that not surviving death held no terrors. If you are gone after death then there will be no suffering and all you need to worry about is what happened while you were alive. A single life contains as much of the universe and eternity that you can experience. What is outside that life effectively doesn't exist for you. I felt very comfortable with that idea, it gave me a profound sense of peace. The Buddhist doctrine of the end of pain put me at peace with the fate of all those I knew and loved and I expected that to be the end of the search.

But something unexpected happened on the way to where this would lead. I suddenly believed in God, not the God of my youth but an indefinable though deeply felt experience. I also believed in universal salvation, of continued conscious existence, eventually beyond pain, for every sentient being.

If you want to challenge me to account for this belief I fully admit that I can't prove any of it. Anyone who pretends that they can prove it is lying. You are entirely within your rights to reject it. You are within your rights to suspect that it's a psychological aberration, an odd ball quirk of personality or some weakness. Though I hope that you couldn't find anything in my actions to support those accusations.

I don't think the worse of you if you don't believe and don't think that disbelief is a sign of moral failing. Several of the people I have respected and loved most were complete and aggressive atheists who I refuse to believe are suffering in any way due to their honest disbelief. I don't believe that honest atheists enjoy less divine favor than I do, in fact, I seriously suspect that my belief might indicate that the deity doesn't trust me to be a decent person without it. I fully accept on the basis of observable actions that complete non-believers are sometimes fully as moral or even more moral than some religious believers.

I will, however, object if you are rude or rudely dismissive while you are being skeptical of someone's belief on the bases of discourteousness and impracticality.

The practical implications of religion and the left are the subjects of this uncharted and irregular series. The belief is personal and so prone to being entirely wrong, the actions resulting from the political agenda of the left are real. As the Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki might say, they are real in every sense of the word. Their reality makes them morally imperative in a way that personal belief cannot be. Religion like political philosophy and economic theory should be judged on the actions and results that arise from it, not from the idealized descriptions and assertions of it.

There, that's about all of that and you shouldn't have to put up with much more first person in this series.

Post Script: See Harvey Cox in the Ideas section of today's Boston Globe. While I think he's being a bit optimistic he is fair.

Allergies Have Me Down But Not Out

I'll try to post later today.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Obituary of Ken Lay As Commentwore on poputonian's observations on the Aspen paper's Obit, at Hullabaloo

The longer this goes on the more convincing it is that what we are seeing is a ruling class- political, corporate, media - which holds to absolutely no values except the accumulation of wealth to itself. There are very few sins that a rich person can commit that will make them unrespectable except advocating the rights and welfare of the dispossessed. There is no amount of theft, murder, destruction of democracy, etc. that will disqualify someone with enough money from respectability, even sanctity. The media and other bestowers of praise are only the symptom of this in a corruption of meaning and values that goes to the core of American imperial culture.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

No Fence is Going to Keep Desperate People Out of the United States

The Republican election year rally of racists over illegal immigration from Latin America is entirely political. They don't have any more intention of stopping illegal entry than they do of preventing abortion (about which later). This is one of several evergreen political issues for them that is a proven winner. They don't want it to be solved and to go away.

How do we know that they don't want illegal immigration from Latin America to stop? NOTHING is going to stop people who are starving, who have starving children and parents from risking their lives and the enormous hardships of illegal immigration from trying. Nothing is going to stop many of them from succeeding to get in and work here. Nothing except improved living conditions for them AT HOME. If they could live a decent life at home, with their families and friends, in the place they know, they would do what almost everyone does and stay with them.

For decades conservatives in the United States have done just about everything possible to make life in Latin America hell for their own profit. Illegal immigration is the entirely predictable result. And, as an added incentive for them to keep doing just what they have been, unprotected illegal workers can help them suppress wages and benefits in the U.S. too.

Illegal immigration, it works for them

It's Nine Days After the First Amendment Was Saved By One Vote Short of a Super Majority in the Senate

Do You Know Where Your Rights Are?

I really did mean it about that amendment requiring 100% of the Senate and House and all of the State Legislatures agreeing to changes in The Bill of Rights.

On the Charge of Contempt of Court I Plead Innocent As Charged

Your (another e-mailer) charge that I am damaging the Supreme Court with the recent series of denunciations is flattering and if that was possible it could only encourage me. The RATS court is destroying democracy, decency and the very basis on which life is sustained. Not being a DC area journalist or lawyer, I don't have to pretend that they aren't contemptible.

To take another in a series of evil and absurd rulings including the two new injustices there is the Kansas death case. The majority held that death had the upper hand when a jury wasn't exactly sure that the facts warranted the death penalty. The majority played their hand by having Thomas get off his bench to write one of his rare opinions, a sure sign that they wanted to display contempt for reason. I suppose it was only out of a sense of gravitas that Thomas didn't write "All we are saying, don't give life a chance," and go back to the leisure activity of his choice. Death doesn't require evidence beyond a doubt anymore, though product liability undoubtedly will soon.

In case you didn't hear, the Kansas law that was being reviewed holds that a jury is required to impose the death sentence if they find that the facts for a life sentence and the death penalty balance each other out. It makes the Kansas legislature an extra juror with a guaranteed vote for death.

As the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette pointed out the other day Scalia, in an open and gratuitous slap at Justice Souter* for having the nerve to write a well- reasoned dissenting opinion, claimed that in the past thirty years there has never been a proven case of an innocent person being put to death by the state.

While you doubt that a mountain of conclusive evidence could overcome Scalia's belief in his infallibility, his claim a sham. The ever flexible standards of "proof" required by the Republican majority of recent courts all depend on the desired outcome of the members of the court. They reliably favor the rich and well connected and are insurmountable by the side they don't want to win. If a particular political or economic end is favored the Republican majority generally will find a standard of proof or other legal excuse to do what they want.

The Journal Gazette editorial points to the case of Carlos De Luna executed in Texas in 1989. The evidence in that case pretty well proves that another man named Carlos Hernandez committed the murder, many of his relatives and friends have said that he repeatedly bragged that he killed the victim and that De Luna paid the price for his crime. The editorial points out that police and people in the prosecutor's office knew about evidence that Hernandez was the murderer but that they chose to kill a man on the basis of shaky evidence in order to get the death penalty for De Luna. You wonder how many other cases like this there are and need to ask why the courts are so uninterested in finding out whether they are killing innocent people. Wouldn't you want to make sure you weren't?

Don't hold your breath for Scalia to make an honest man of himself by honestly reviewing the evidence and correcting his lie as needed. What is it called if a judge lies in an opinion? Perjury? There should be a word for it.

* In full disclosure and out of my respect for you who read this I have to confess a past error. When he was nominated I once described Souter as a "willing tool of the New Hampshire Republican establishment,". My defense is that is an entirely accurate opinion of his career up till then. I am not always happy with Justice Souter on the bench but he has at least earned the title, which I hope you will never notice me using for any of the RATS.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Is Joe Lieberman That Deluded

Does Joe Lieberman really believe that he has a chance to win a three-way race for the Senate?

Does he think that enough Democrats will peel off to support someone who doesn't think enough of their opinion to respect their choice of another nominee?

Does he think that his devotion to George W. Bush has made him the logical choice of Republicans, even over a Republican who has won their nomination?

Does he think that his perfidy will impress enough independents to come out and vote for him?

He might, but a simpler explanation is that he is a bitter man. He has been bitter for not being handed the nomination for president in 2004, he is angry with Al Gore for not supporting his nomination. He is so bitter that he has been doing just about everything he can to punish Democrats and injure their chances at regaining power. What else can it mean when a Joe Lieberman constantly praises the most incompetent and corrupt president in our history.

The most logical explanation of him is that he is a classic spoiler, if he isn't given the Democratic nomination, which he seems to believe is his by divine right, he is going to try to keep Ned Lamont from winning the election even if it means letting the Republicans control the Senate. It is all about Joe.

Lieberman is the Nader of this election, any deeper explaination only gets you farther from the truth.

Another Bite of the Apple:

If You Act Nice You Are Nice with an explanation

You won't be surprised to hear that getting tangled in useless arguments is a weakness of mine. I had an old one with a conservative Sunday, the argument against the idea that there isn't any such thing as being generous. He said that people who seem nice only do good things because it makes them feel superior, they do it to save their own souls, etc. It was a waste of time but I did come up with a new angle on it.

The charge of hidden selfishness behind generous acts isn't anything but a guess based on pop psychology, it isn't proof. Even a conservative can directly experience a good act and can compare its results to an act of selfishness, a good act is tangible. Sometimes you can see hypocrisy behind showy acts of charity and words that sound nice but that doesn't prove anything about other acts. The charge falls apart unless you can show a result that is selfish.

Pop hedonists like to say that people only act out of self-interest but that's not based on anything but cynicism and one of Freud's more destructive lines of hogwash. It's hard-hearted but it isn't hard logic. The results of the action are real, the charge of hidden selfishness is what is airy-fairy. Nastiness isn't any guarantee of realism.

And I will repeat, So take some of them apples, greed balls!

A Partial Explanation

Why have I repeated myself? One of you politely expressed your confusion as to why I said it in the first place and that deserves an explanation.

One of the things that has and does weaken the left is a loss of confidence in our positions. A lot of that, I believe, can be traced to these kinds of cynical ideas gaining popularity during the past fifty years.

The ideas gained ground on the assumption that their cynicism was some kind of magical guarantee of realism. The idea is that anything less cynical could be chalked up to self-congratulation for moral superiority or wishful thinking.

Without more evidence than can be produced these charges are no more than bad natured speculation. This is especially true when the results don't seem to hide ulterior motives.

Until the left abandons these counter-leftist assumptions foisted on it, the frankly idealistic and generous programs favored by us are at a fatal disadvantage. Liberalism and the left have a basically optimistic view of life, that we aren't doomed to an eternal and savage fight to look out for #1.

So many of our positions call for personal sacrifice for the common good, paying taxes for a start. Out of fairness we should insist that those taxes be progressive instead of regressive but it's not a position you can sell without a basis of optimism and a general attitude of generosity.

The right uses this kind of thing to undermine us at the most basic level. Trying to stop that is one of my basic goals in writing this blog.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I'm Off to a mandatory Family Picnic Have A Happy 4th of July

Monday, July 03, 2006

If You Act Nice You Are Nice

If you're lucky and live long enough you might get to act out one of William Blake's more interesting lines. Sorry, not one of the sexy ones, this one, "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise,".

Seldom having been wise enough to just leave a futile argument and without the gift of always getting the definitive last word in, I stupidly entered in that argument about pop hedonism yesterday. While it was a waste of time, as usual, I did finally notice something new.

The argument that altruists act altruistically for reasons of their own gratification has been a prop of conservative cynicism for ages. The argument comes down to "x does y because x is the one doing it, so x is doing it for their own reasons". Conservatives can't fathom someone doing something that isn't selfish so they figure those reasons are always selfish. It's impossible to define ultimate motivation of actions so complex as those, so you can't prove otherwise. But if you take things out of the realm of Platonic ideals, where none of us happens to live, and argue out of real life things become suddenly clear.

Have you ever known someone of at least functional intelligence who can't tell the difference between a person who does something for them and someone who refuses to help them in a time of dire need? Anything other than selfishness is beyond the ken of your average conservative, but even they know that there is a complete difference in effect.

It's only when going beyond what is objectively clear in the results of the action that the pop hedonist argument gains a foothold. Ascribing hidden motives to someone who does what appears to be altruistic is unwarranted, it is conjectural, it is without foundation. While hard-hearted, it isn't hard logic. The results of the action are real, the attribution of selfishness is airy-fairy. Nastiness isn't a guarantee of realism. So take some of them apples, greed balls!

See "Incorporating the Outcome", May 19th for more on arguing out of reality instead of conjecture.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pursuing Happiness in All the Wrong Places second of two parts

You can find happiness in friendship, you find it in friendly encounters with strangers and in your family and friends. We need basic material security to be happy but it isn't happiness. Short of famine relief, happiness doesn't come by truck.

Useless buying and hoarding is a sign of fear, of families and communities failing. This covers everything from trying to buy respect to the exercise machine covered with clothes you can't wear. You aren't any better off than you started out but now you've got another payment to make. Enough turns to more than you want and that turns to more than you can ever use. You have to rent a storage unit to get it out of your house. If you didn't buy it to begin with you might be able to afford basic security and have time to enjoy life with other people.

The McMansion craze that is killing off what's left of the middle class and destroying open land is an attempt to escape the isolated anxiety that life has turned into. Families don't talk to each other in towns full of strangers who are suspicious of each other. And once you're locked in the big house everyone goes off to watch TV in their own rooms. That is until your mortgage rate gets adjusted and you're looking for somewhere you can afford.

Work is even worse than that. It is competitive, cynical and insecure. You are being used and used up. You might not even have the hope that your children can get an education that will give them a better life. They're doomed to even worse than you have it and they resent everything.

You won't find happiness in the package labeled American Dream and the standard alternatives are worse. Forget the myth of the rugged individualist. That is just as phony as the thing they are supposedly escaping. No one is more conformist than those often violent, insecure, tough guys. Look at what happens to one of them who practices real individualism. Their pack turns on them.

The happiness found in decent relations with other people can't be bought or sold, it can't be won by winning. You have to make friends with your family and your neighbors. You can't do that watching a giant TV or DVD. You have to abandon the debt ridden, competitive culture that those continually pitch at us. It's hard to do, especially with children, but it's a lot easier than building a sixteen room house that you'll never own. Debt is a taste of slavery.

When you get your life back you can get past pride. That's a desperate fill-in for self-respect. Self respect comes from getting outside yourself and doing something for someone else. Self-respect gives you the confidence to say no to the sales pitch. Without self-respect no one else is going to respect you, no matter how much stuff you own.

One Way to Tell if a Democrat is Too Stupid to Trust

o one who has George Stephanopoulos, Tim Russert or Chris Matthews on their guest list in 2006 can be trusted. And they are just three of the obvious traitors to the Democratic Party, the list is a long one that includes most of the press and punditry.

No one who makes money back-stabbing Democrats is trustworthy, the limit of how many times someone should be allowed to do that without consequences is ONCE. Democrats who are still gratifying them with invitations should be identified by responsible adults and isolated from anything that really matters.


The Pursuit of Happiness first of two parts

Buy-electoral materialists, conservatives, like to say that Jefferson should have stuck with one of the out takes from the Declaration of Independence. "No, no," they say in high federalist tones, "Not 'happiness', 'property', the pursuit of property is the correct reading of the line,". It's not that they notice that something generally considered as frivolous as happiness is put on the same level as life and liberty, with them it's all about the property, their highest value.

Without the gall to second guess Jefferson, I doubt that he got the line wrong in the end. So the question is what the pursuit of happiness means and especially what one person's pursuit of it means in relation to that of other people. Thomas Jefferson's life shows that isn't a simple question, but it isn't the all-out invitation to piracy that today's conservatives intend.

Jefferson was a hypocrite, as anyone can see. The man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and kept slaves can't escape that judgment except by replacing him with a fiction. He, himself, said that his way of life couldn't be supported without slavery and there is the feel of shame in his words. Keeping slaves is not honorable. This is most true for someone who wrote the words of the Declaration and he knew it.

He didn't move to a small house he could support on his own work. History would call it unequalled greatness if he had and by doing that he had stopped keeping people as property. But he couldn't' do without his mansion, which was always being redone and always keeping him in debt. He designed a little house but his version of Walden was a garden ornament built by other hands, not a rocket to transcendence.

Freedom was inalienable and given to slaves by their creator, he alienated those rights from his slaves out of selfishness and at the cost of his sacred honor. He knew that was true, he was a genius not an idiot. Jefferson was a prisoner of property and of luxury. It would be obscene to compare his life to the brutality of slavery but could he have really been entirely free himself?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

COMMENT WHORE in honor of having a Republican troll on the thread below.

Comment just posted on Roger Ailes blog:

We are one Stevens or Ginsburg away from outright Republican-fascism. Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia (and I just noticed the acronym is RATS) are just waiting for that secure fifth vote.


Why is the Bush regime taking the talibanization of Somalia so calmly? Could it have anything to do with why it's taking the re-talibanization of Afghanistan so calmly?

Has the Republican right decided that they can do business with the crypto-medieval Wahabists? How much pressure have they put on the Bush Crime Family partners, the House of Saud, to stop funding these psychotic, women hating, thugs?

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