January 31, 2007


Molly Ivins, RIP.

I hate our media

They are just so bad. I tuned in after work this afternoon to see MSNBC alerting us to "suspicious packages" in Boston. Breathlessly, the blonde idiot wondered as they showed images from Boston. As it turns out, there was nothing there:
"The "packages" in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger. They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities in support of Adult Swim's animated television show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Parent company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and federal law enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards."

Make no mistake about it, I don't blame whoever alerted the authorities, and I don't blame them for being cautious. I don't even blame MSNBC (and I assume the other cable news shows) for mentioning it. But here is a tip: report the packages and THEN SHUT UP UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY KNOW SOMETHING!

Is that so radical? To expect that news reporters might not speculate endlessly while people's fears are elevated for no reason? Sometime there will be reason to fear, and we should respond appropriately. But until then, stop blathering.

I think I have said this before

But I remember learning the story of the "boy who cried wolf" as a child. I learned that I needed to keep my credibiliy in mind because if people lost faith in my word, then when I really needed them, they would distrust me. Bush and Cheney appear to have missed that lesson:
"The Bush administration has taken an increasingly aggressive stand against Iran. Officials say there is no intention of going to war, but all options are on the table. Is the U.S. considering a military strike?"
Evidently two failed wars are not enough for Cheney and his bloodlust. How else to explain it? Is he stupid? Evil? Greedy? I don't understand the man. Compared to Cheney, Bush appears sane and actually connected to reality. In last week's interview with Blitzer, the public focussed on the issue of his gay daughter's child, but the real news was that Cheney disputed even the question of failure and disaster in Iraq so far. He won't even concede that.


January 30, 2007

How This White House Operates

Dan Froomkin - How This White House Operates - washingtonpost.com: "From the first time the White House was asked about allegations that senior officials had exposed a CIA agent's identity as part of a plot to discredit an administration critic, the answer was consistent.

As spokesman Scott McClellan put it as early as July 22, 2003: "That is not the way this President or this White House operates."

But in the course of the Scooter Libby trial, one thing has become quite clear: That is precisely the way this White House operates."

Bush shoots for"Jaws," delivers "Jaws 2"

Great title for Keith Olbermann's first class rant tonight:
"But this obscure British police official has reminded us that terrorism is still being sold to the public in that country -- and in this -- as if it were a thrilling horror movie and we were the naughty teenagers about to be its victims.And it underscores the fact that President Bush took this tack, exactly a week ago tonight, in his terror-related passage in the State of the Union."

Bush on NPR

I didn't listen to the Interview with President Bush but just read the transcript. I am interested in how Bush says that he doesn't care about the polls, but is out there trying to sell his plan. I guess he does need us after all.

One thing that has always bothered me about the man is his use of language. Some of that is his cultivated "bubba" image that just annoys me. But part of it is the choice that he and his team makes in their message control. For example, his use of the word "murderers." For some reason that bugs me. It isn't that the term isn't accurate, but it seems rather simplistic, and also seems like a desire to frame the debate. In this case, it serves to frame the violence in Iraq as if it is just the issue of "killers" run amok rather than some kind of political or ethnic strife. In other words, these aren't just young men on a lark to kill, are they? They are participating in ethnic violence, right?

But the interview reiterated a lot of his talking points. Not only does he invoke Joe Lieberman's name whenever he can, but he insists that, as he put it, "– and, listen, I listen to a lot of folks here in Washington. I listen to the military people, I listen to people who are critical of the policy, I listen to Republicans, I listen to Democrats, and I listen carefully for which strategy would yield – would most likely yield success, and the one I picked is the one I believe will." Except, as SOF has noted, the only plan they really listen to and even consider is their own.

Few other notes from the interview. How does he get away with this?
PRESIDENT BUSH: And let me also say to Ryan, thanks for serving. I mean, one of the amazing things about our country is that we have people who volunteer to go. And one of the things I look for is whether or not we're able to recruit and retain, and we are. And it's a remarkable country, Juan, where people are saying I want to serve. And I appreciate that soldier, and I hope this message gets to him that not only do I appreciate him, but a lot of Americans appreciate him.

I understand he is in a tough place and would seem bad if he didn't mention appreciating the troops. But how does he do this without reflecting on his own decisions as a drunken spoiled rich kid during VN? How did he reflect the values of our country?

He goes on to answer the question about the omission of Katrina from the SOTU and essentially says that he has talked about it enough and that everything is fine. "But no, our response to the Katrina recovery has been very robust. And I appreciate the taxpayers of the United States helping the folks down there in Mississippi and Louisiana." No taxpayers in those areas, I guess. None who have contributed to a general sense of shared struggle? I truly hate how this President and his group of Republicans address the issue of taxes. Not all taxes are bad and in fact many are investments in a larger society. To say nothing of the lie that his response to Katrina has been robust. Nothing this President has enacted as policy has been implemented successfully. And much of that is due to his own incompetence.

Then there is his living in a bubble. Is he naive or is this just more lying?

But it requires a lot of political, you know, capital to be spent. And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it.
Distrust? That's unpossible. Why would we distrust you, Mr. President when you have either ignored dissent or labeled it unpatriotic?

More bubble.

MR. WILLIAMS: So, some people would say, well, if you believe in spending restraint, why haven't you vetoed one bill, you know, one appropriations bill?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Because the United States Congress that was controlled by Republicans exercised spending restraint.

Yeah, right.

Then there is this from C&L (originally from the NYT)Bush has claimed more control over rules. This tickles me because I have been arguing with an idiot over at Jesus Politics about fascism. The idiot claims that Hillary is a fascist because of, well the reasons are hard to pin down, but the same idiot ignored the list of actions taken by this President to undermine our Constitution and centralize power in the hands of the President. Here is another:
"President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.

The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration."

January 29, 2007

Liberal media


Take a look at the coverage of Obama's childhood and how Fox responded.
True or not, this bit of grade-school innuendo proved irresistible to Steve Doocy, know-it-all host of “Fox and Friends,” Roger Ailes’s idea for a right-wing morning chat show. Doocy garbled the story into a reference to Obama “spending the first decade of his life raised by a Muslim father.” After John Gibson of Fox repeated this yarn, which managed to slime two campaigns simultaneously, CNN dispatched a reporter to Obama’s old school in Jakarta, where he revealed it to be a normal public school with religion classes only once a week and no indication of Wahhabism, the Saudi-inspired extremist philosophy. (Indonesian schools were even more secular 40 years ago than they are today.) The whole underlying tale was untrue.

But neither this solid reporting—later backed up by ABC News—nor a categorical statement from the Obama campaign that he “has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago,” killed the story. Fox was “unwilling to stop when they knew they were wrong or correct what they knew was a lie,” says Robert Gibbs, Obama’s communications director. Executives at the network claimed that their on-air “clarification” was enough, but Fox’s own people didn’t get the message. Gibson—once a respected correspondent and host—went on the radio to malign the CNN reporter, John Vause. He “probably went to the very [same] madrassa” as Obama, Gibson said.

Great TR quote to start the week

Via Crooks and Liars, good old Teddy Roosevelt on Presidential support:
"[The President] should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.

Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

January 28, 2007

Watching Russert

And the prickish republicans like Michael Gerson on Russert and feeling pretty angry about it. Gerson attacks Democrats and says that it is irresponsible to treat the Iraq war as "Bush's War." Self-righteously, he announces, "it is all of our responsibility." Of course, when he was writing for the President and they slammed this war down our throat, they didn't give a damn what we thought. It was "their way or the highway." Disagreeing with the President was tantamount to treason. But now, NOW he wants all of us to come together. Amazing what 30% approval will do to arrogant asses. These particular Republicans are irresponsible and disingenuous. They called me a traitor for daring to question the President and now are suggesting the same thing now, even as they acknowledge that "mistakes were made."

Good example. Now David Vinter is saying that there is a danger that the area will slide into chaos. Hmm. Too bad no one suggested that before we invaded. Oh wait..... Idiots.


Speaking of Russert. This little gem from the Washington Post suggests that the White House sees Russert as a patsy:
Dana Milbank - In Ex-Aide's Testimony, A Spin Through VP's PR - washingtonpost.com: "Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.

This delicious morsel about the "Meet the Press" host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format.""

January 27, 2007


An interesting week as I try to get used to a new schedule. Mostly positive, mind you, but also tiring. Last night we went to a local dive to hear my guitar teacher play, and that was enjoyable even though my tolerance for smoke-filled rooms is not what it used to be.

Reading the news, a few interesting items caught my eye.


More bad news for Bush. This NEWSWEEK Poll is very interesting, but this particular question is most damning:
"24. Do you think President Bush's decisions about policy in Iraq and other major areas are influenced more by the facts or more by his personal beliefs, regardless of the facts?"

I am sure he hates that question to begin with, but the answer is even more troubling. 67% believe that he ignores facts.


More news bad for Bush that makes me grin a bit. Turns out that the Libby trial might be quite entertaining as none other than Karl Rove has receieved a subpeona to testify. Has to be a little scary since he has all that grand jury testimony and the months spent trying to keep his own scaly neck out of an indictment.


Oh, Bushy, where do you get these ideas? Faithful Progressive points us to an article that notes that one of the State of the Union personal success stories is actually in an industry that is hardly well accepted. The Baby Einstein story, which puzzled me at the time, is actually considered a "scam" by those who know, and others see it as clearly irresponsible. Remember all that info suggesting that infants not watch tv? SOF and I wondered this morning who in the White House thought that a line about this dubious effort deserved SOTU mention. FP suggests that it is "kind of fitting for this Administration, which has inflicted so many scams on the American public." Hah.


Many of us have found the Bush-as-War-President hard to stomach. I know Clinton had numerous problems, and also found a way out of the draft (which conservatives hated, btw) but he seemed, in my mind, to have a certain humility about his role. He surrounded himself with pretty good military minds and was willing to listen to them.

Glenn Greenwald points us to a fascinating discussion by Garry Wills on the notion of the civilian Commander in Chief that is worth some consideration.
"Wills recounts that Dwight Eisenhower, 'a real general,' would not exchange salutes while President, because saluting was for those in the military, not civilian Presidents. The practice of presidential saluting was begun by Ronald Reagan, who -- like our current President -- loved ceremonial displays of warrior courage and military power even though (more likely: because) he had none in his real history."

January 25, 2007

Purity Ball

Sheesh. Ubub alerted me to this phenomenon last week, and today I read Sarah's great post on the topic today. She covers it all--the patriarchy, the male ownership of female sexuality, and the horrible implications of abstinence only as public policy.

I sent this to some friends and received some strong responses. These elements of patriarchy still have very strong support, which always continues to surprise me. Perhaps it is my small stature which forced me to address my failings as a male prototype, but I am simply tired of institutions, symbolism, or language that undercuts women. Just tired of it. Opening doors for women is fine, but not if it communicates a weaker sex. And why not open doors for men? I do. I like it when others show that consideration to me. Why frame it in purely gender roles?


More on subjective reality

Great post from The Anonymous Liberal on what he calls the GOP's Pied Piper problem. I would suggest that this problem extends beyond the GOP, and is something that the Religious Right has also employed. Whenever expertise or knowledge or evidence is counter to belief, "pay no attention" and just listen to OUR expert.
"For last decade and half, the Republican party has pursued an intentional strategy of insulating its base from reality. The goal has been to create a permanent block of loyal Republican voters who will dutifully internalize whatever the party's leaders tell them.

To accomplish this, the Republican political machine has engaged in a relentless and systematic assault on all of the institutions in our society that have traditionally served as arbiters of truth. They have attacked the press, the judiciary, academia, and even science itself. And they've been remarkably successful; we've now reached a point where much of the Republican base simply refuses to believe anything that doesn't come from a trusted partisan outlet.

Any unpleasant news reports can be dismissed as the product of liberal media bias. Any inconvenient studies can be explained away as the work of godless academic elitists. And any adverse court rulings can be chalked up to liberal judicial activism. In short, if it didn't come from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh or the President himself, it's automatically suspect.

I'm sure the architects of this strategy thought it was ingenious. It would create a loyal and reliable base of voters who were, for all intents and purposes, impervious to reality and who would simply accept whatever the party's leaders told them."

January 23, 2007

This is interesting

Melissa Rogers: "God Bless": "President Bush "had ended many of his major speeches for many years with 'May God continue to bless America,' " Weiss says. According to Weiss, "[t]hat was a nuanced change from the more common ending used by many previous presidents: 'May God bless America.' " But Weiss says that "[t]onight [Bush] ended the State of the Union speech with a simple 'God bless!'"''

I noticed a similar trend during the "surge" speech.

Live blogging the SOTU

A) how damn cool it is to hear this particular President say "Madam Speaker." And Bush did so with a certain dignity. A dignity that I didn't know he had in him.

B) Badmouthing the size of government is disingenous for this guy. Has exploded the government in his last 6 years. Like I said, now that the Dems are in power, time for the Republicans, even including Bush, now have rediscovered some semblance of fiscal responsibility.

C) Bush looks like he is thinking, "Ok, can I go back to Crawford and execute people?"

D) Love the call for balancing the budget. Where the hell was that the last 6 years? Oh right, in Haliburton.

E) here comes the education magic. No Child Educated Act. Please renew this piece of shit legislation.

F) Is "backsliding" thumper code?

G) He means something different when he says "affordable" and "health care" and "people."

H) Health care "reform" sounds like voodoo. VOODOO

I) Had to be a long walk with the President and Boehner. Heh.

J) Cheney wondering where he left his borg plug in. Lieberman thinking that there are a lot of people in the room.

K) Who is that guy? And the guy next to him. And why is that guy clapping?

L) "Junk lawsuits." What the hell does that mean? Why are 4 people standing. Kerry just stood on the line about medical insurance companies. Sigh.

M) Here comes the border. And the immigants. Not learning their english. Oops. Guest worker program. Right wingers hate that shit.

N) McCain thinking, "Where is that bastard Dobson? I can take him." Or else, "which side should I flop to tonight."

O) He said "civil debate." Hah

P) One more standing O and Cheney's heart is in trouble.

Q) Cheney looks unhappy about the oil talk. "Must. Not. Badmouth. Oil."

R) "Clean Coal?" Thats unpossible.

S) He actually said bio-diesel. Who the hell is this? Woodchips. Grasses. There it is. Dude is recalling his dorm at yale after cheerleading. "Don't bogart that grass fuel."

T) Cheney is laughing at the renewable fuel thing. He knows Bushie will never produce. Didn't even stand for that.

U) Bush did say "conserve." That is rather radical. BTW, if we are less dependent on oil, what will we use to lubricate Dick Cheney's heart?

V) Federal courts? Judges? Uh oh. I don't like the sound of this. Oh right. "Push through my political hacks as "judges.""

W) 9-11 reference? Homeland? Ja! Oops. Take it to the enemy. "Iraq was a great war. " "Best defense is a good, er, 9-11, er, won't get fooled again." "Won't know how good we are because our intel is so bad." "Anthrax! Run away! Run away!"

X) list of faux plots against our country. 9-11. 9-11. Terror. Terror. 9-11. Bush just described his foreign policy, but was trying to describe the evil terrorists." Who are trying to dominate the Middle East. Right.

Y) Cheney thinking, " I should have taken him out when I could." Bush mentioned "lawful" and "duty." He said "duty." Republicans phoning it in now. Uh oh, classic ideological struggle. Please shop more. 9-11, cut taxes.

Z) Democracy on the march. McCain asleep. Kennedy doing the crossword.

AA) The war in Lebanon was NOT our fault. Al Qaeda. 9-11. Bush knows about the mosque in Sumara. Invade Iran now! Now, my monkeys!

BB) How did this guy get elected? That Hadley guy is definitely stoned.

CC) Don't think I have ever seen a SOTU crowd this bored.

DD) meant to say we didn't drive out terrorists from Afghanistan. Said didn't do it only to allow terrorists to gain ground in Iraq. Oops. Did both.

EE) Baghdad is definitely in Iraq.

FF) Epic battle, dude. Hey there is that Jewish guy.

GG) Nothing is more important in our history than Iraq. Please continue to shop.

HH) Support our troops. Not everyone there could get out of things like I did.

II) work together. I am a unificator. Share ideas. Well show them sunsabitches. Armed forces getting bigger. Watch out twins.

JJ) Volunteer civilian corps? Is that the same thing as Blackwater? Defining struggle of our time. Please go shopping. Extremism. Shop more. Iran is evil. Nukular. Condi, Condi, Condi.

KK) Translation. Nato is trying to save my butt in Afghanistan. Diplomacy? What that?

LL) To whom much is given, much is required. Code? Think the dude has actually been better on poverty in Africa and AIDS. Why is it that he can see that stuff, but still listens to Dicky on attacking Iran.

MM) Democracy is on the rise. Hey, debt relief. Good deal. Glad they reference Mutumbo. Dikembe is a good guy. I can applaud that one. We are better with that guy here.

NN) Ok, I like the Dikembe stuff, but the other "see who is here" part of the speech is starting to bug me. "i believe this is the most important thing I have ever done." Please go shopping.

OO) Oh good god. Though I like that subway hero dude. He did good.

PP) Man that dress is really red. Good god. Did she set off a flare or something?

QQ) Why does this remind me of Harey Carey when he would call Cubs games? "And here visiting we have Judy and Don from Chicago." I don't have a problem with recognizing medal winners.

RR) God, Lynn Cheney is annoying even without a microphone. The marine is cool though.

Great description of this administration

Ezra Klein: The Bush Presidency: "Bush has had precisely two serious and sustained bumps. One came after a horrifying attack on the country, the second after he launched a horrifying attack on Iraq. His presidency, then, has been vampiric in nature, thriving when the republic waned and the body counts mounted. He has received precisely no big boosts for domestic policy priorities or achievements. And the trend, after 9/11, is down, down, down. Not just a natural drift out of the stratosphere, but a plummet to the depths. Only three presidents in the 20th century reached Bush's lows of unpopularity. Carter and Nixon never recovered -- but they, at least, had the excuses of rampant corruption, stagflation, and the Iranian hostage crisis. Bush's unpopularity is entirely the fault of his own mismanagement. According to early reports, tonight's proposed salve will be a minor change to the marginal deductibility of employee benefits packages. That'll save him."

Still here

Haven't been blogging much lately. Very busy with school and even trying to practice more on the Tele. Both classes are challenging for completely different reasons. One is small and actually cares and the other one isn't and doesn't. :)


When I am not prepping or playing, I seem to be commenting over at Tony's discussion on homeschooling. Very interesting discussion, and thanks to Tony for his gracious moderation. I can be mouthy sometimes. I enjoyed it, but feel like I stumbled into another "third-rail" of things very difficult to talk about. :)


Kind of on that note, I still struggle with this notion of faith and how it relates to our broader understanding. My mother once had a small clot in her eye that gave her a new blind spot. I still remember learning that she would soon not see that blind spot because her brain would fill it in. Then, of course, I learned that we all have them. That became a metaphor for world view for me, and I became increasingly convinced that we all construct our world--to some extent. We all select out certain information or overemphasize others that fits, to a certain degree, how we want that world to appear. The danger, it seems to me, is when we assume that our world understanding is the understanding. For me as well.

So, with that caution of introspection, I fear a world where faith trumps reason in dangerous ways. For me, faith was that way of grappling with those things that human reasoning can't explain. The big questions of "is there a God" and "Why does she hate Florida?" are perfect examples of "faith" questions. I don't need "faith" to explain, for example, the existence of the sun. I do need faith to believe that God exists and cares about what happens to us.

I fear, however, that faith has become not an extension, but alternative to reason. Facts not measuring up to your constructed world view? No problem, just impose faith on that pesky area. Historical explanations not what you like? Don't believe them and keep looking until you find the one "historian" who presents the alternative you prefer.

Note, this is not an attack on creationism. As a "belief" or act of "faith" it seems incredibly reasonable to believe that our universe and world had some kind of creative force behind it. I have never had a problem with that. What I struggle with is the imposition of that "belief" into a system of "facts" to the point that even geological evidence is simply rejected.


Ah, our media. Evidently, as Faithful Progressive suggests, our media might have actually reported on something. Stop the presses! Cnn evidently reported that the madrassa smear on Obama was planted by the Wash Times (or someone) who used it to try and also smear Hillary's campaign. Those pesky Swiftboaters are a tenacious bunch. If the media actually reports on this stuff, might not be so damaging. Now where were they when Kerry's VN experience was being savaged? Oh, right. Transcribing.


Saw that Bush's poll numbers dropped to 28%. I expect him to pull out some proposals in this speech which will belie his assertion that he doesn't care that the American people think he is incompetent. He is expected to call for increased fuel efficiency (where was that six years ago? Oh right, in Dick Cheney's energy taskforce trashcan.) and might even suggest some tweaks to the healthcare system. Amazing what facing a hostile congress might actually produce. First he decides that he might use FISA after all, what is next? Might he suggest that the Constitution does actually include habeas protection?

Speaking of the worst president in American history, saw this at another Okie blog and chuckled:
"George W. Bush’s Guide to Resolving Marital Disputes

Rule 1
Remember-You are always right.

Rule 2
Never, never apologize. If you admit you’re wrong, you’re essentially calling God a liar, you bastard. Always stay the course, no matter how rocky it gets.

Rule 3
Don’t compromise with your spouse. What ever he/she is suggesting is not a winning strategy, because it is not your strategy, which can be the only winning strategy. And, after all, you do want to make this marriage work, right?

Rule 4
In fact, if your spouse questions your unreasonable behaviors, immediately call his/her motives into question. Why are they wanting to sabotage your marriage? Invoke 9/11, if necessary. Ask them why they didn’t just marry France, if they love it so much?

Rule 5
Blame it on the kids. It’s not your fault that things are going from bad to worse. It’s that the kids need to take responsibility for their own affairs. Sounds like a surge in discipline may be required."

January 20, 2007


Light blogging lately. School started this week and I have been scrambling to get ready. Only week one and I am already exhausted!


Read yesterday that a recent poll has Bush actually less popular than Darth Cheney. Ouch. Interesting that his push to get the American people behind him seems to be losing ground. Part of that, I must say, is reaping the whirlwind.

Chuckled when I saw this line from Senator Rockefeller about Bush's curiosity.
Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: January 14, 2007 - January 20, 2007 Archives: "“I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”

He added, “Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.”"
I suspect the same thing.


Tony has an interesting post on homeschooling. I took issue with it in his comments (respectfully, I hope) and wonder if anyone here might weigh in. As I wrote here earlier, I fear a Christian homeschooling movement that teaches adoration for someone like Stonewall Jackson for, for his "black flag" approach to warfare.
In All Things for Good: The Steadfast Fidelity of Stonewall Jackson, fundamentalist historian J. Steven Wilkins opens a chapter on Jackson’s belief in the “black flag” of no quarter for the enemy with a quotation: “Shoot them all, I do not wish them to be brave.” The only path to peace, he believed, was total war.

I have no doubt that Tony and many like him are teaching their kids in a responsible fashion. But the existence of curricula like this means that there are many, many, many homeschooling parents who know shit about history who are buying this because it resonates with their political/social world view. That scares me.

updateWhite House lie to us? That's unpossible!

My favorite part of this story is the White House denial, and assertion that Brown is making "false statements." You know, because the White House has been SO very HONEST with us about everything from WMD to reasons for war to Halliburton contracts to how things are going in Iraq to why they are firing US Attorneys at an unprecedented rate. Oh, on that last one. Latest word is that the GOP wants to pad the resumes of political hacks. Like the one who made his bones doing opposition research on Democrats.
Brown: Politics played role in Katrina on Yahoo! News: "Brown told a group of graduate students Friday that some in the White House had suggested the federal government should take charge in Louisiana because Blanco was a Democrat, while leaving Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, in control in his state.

Brown, speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, said he had recommended to President Bush that all 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast affected by the devastating hurricane be federalized — a term Brown explained as placing the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.

"Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor, and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,'" he said, without naming names. "'We can't do it to Haley (Barbour) because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just gonna federalize Louisiana.'""

January 17, 2007

Bush on Lehrer

Caught part of this last night while making dinner. I know I am not a fan of the man, but I keep wondering if he will make sense. I hold out hope.

"MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, do you have a feeling of personal failure about Iraq right now?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm frustrated at times about Iraq because I understand the consequences of failure. I want the Iraqis to succeed for our own sake. This is a war; part of a broader war, and that if we fail in Iraq, there is a better likelihood that the enemy comes and hurts us here. And so, I am frustrated with the progress. If you were to take it and put me in an opinion poll and said do I approve of Iraq, I'd be one of those that said, no, I don't approve of what's taking place in Iraq. On the other hand, I do believe we can succeed. Look, I had a choice to make, Jim, and that is - one - do what we're doing. And one could define that maybe a slow failure. Secondly, withdraw out of Baghdad and hope for the best. I would think that would be expedited failure. And thirdly is to help this Iraqi government with additional forces - help them do what they need to do, which is to provide security in Baghdad."

But note. He cannot say that he failed or that he feels a sense of failure. Isn't that interesting? Most of us are certainly able to see that in ourselves. I feel a sense of failure often, and the stakes I deal with are miniscule. Bush must erect a giant wall somewhere inside that keeps those thoughts at bay. Would almost have to.

It was this next exchange that bothered me the most. After all these years, he still can't answer this question, and I am so glad that Lehrer asked it:
MR. LEHRER: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, Mr. President. If it is as important as you've just said - and you've said it many times - as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it's that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military - the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They're the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.

Now, here in Washington when I say, "What do you mean by that?," they say, "Well, why don't you raise their taxes; that'll cause there to be a sacrifice." I strongly oppose that. If that's the kind of sacrifice people are talking about, I'm not for it because raising taxes will hurt this growing economy. And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life's moving on, that they're able to make a living and send their kids to college and put more money on the table. And you know, I am interested and open-minded to the suggestion, but this is going to be -

A) he is not openminded, and B) he has no idea what sacrifice means. Why should he? Has he ever been called to sacrifice anything?

It is kind of sad that he goes from that tortured (oops) answer of American sacrificing peace of mind to an immediate defense of tax cuts. After the interview ran, Lehrer asked Shields and David Brooks to comment. See that here. Sheilds addresses the sacrifice question first:
I thought, Jim, his answer on the sacrifice question I thought was just absolutely less than defective. I mean, this is a man who is ahistorical. Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, every president who has presided over a war -- and the president describes this as a nation at war, this is the battle, the ideological battle of the century that we're engaged in. It's an all-out global effort.

And every one of them saw the need to call upon their nation, two Republicans, two Democrats, for collective and individual sacrifice, that war does demand equality of sacrifice. And that just eludes him. He just becomes a tax-cutter again. He reduces the whole argument to that.

JIM LEHRER: What did you think about that answer?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I guess I agree with it. Fundamentally, I don't think anybody -- first, let me say that I don't think anybody thought Iraq was going to become Iowa. I think that's a caricature of what the argument was at the time.

As for the sacrifice, he's absolutely correct. I mean, what Mark said is absolutely correct, which is that he's been asked this before -- I've been in a session where he's been asked this before. And you hear this from the military constantly: The phenomenal sacrifices they and their families are making is not reflected in what the rest of us are doing.

And he's got to have an answer to that. Not only does he have to have an answer, he has to have a policy. And he really has been afraid to do this. And it's symptomatic, I think, of a lot of the other things that have gone wrong

January 16, 2007

Bush defends the war how?

Fred points out some problems in the President's logic:
"Yesterday, Digby caught President Bush repeating one of the dumber and more dishonest White House talking points:

"President Bush on Saturday challenged lawmakers skeptical of his new Iraq plan to propose their own strategy for stopping the violence in Baghdad.

'To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible,' Bush said."

That bit. The claim isn't logical -- sometimes the most responsible act is to oppose everything. As in the first rule of holes. Or the beginning of the Hippocratic Oath. ('Stop digging,' and 'Do no harm,' respectively. Though in this case it's more like, 'Stop doing harm.')

But the president's claim is also factually wrong. And it's disingenuous, because he knows it's factually wrong. He's stating something that he knows is not true. That's -- what do you call it? Oh, right. Lying."

USA Today appalled by Stimson

And should be. Remember the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for detainee affairs who threatened law firms who dared represent detainees? Well, at least USA Today is calling for his boss to speak out, and Stimson to be repudiated. He should be fired.

January 15, 2007

Bush people are incredibly slow

Very, very slow. The passive errors that Bush grudgingly admits from the early days of the occupation were huge. Barring the Bathists from service--the only ones who knew how to run the government was just part of the problem. This ideological purge removed teachers leaving some areas without.

They also, as we learn from
this Wash Post article, refused to get Iraq's factories up and going:
"Before Carney left Iraq in June 2003, he tried one last time to persuade Bremer to rethink his refusal to repair more than a handful of state-owned factories. Iraq's government-run businesses employed more than 100,000 people before the U.S. invasion. To Carney, it was a no-brainer: Fixing the factories would allow thousands of Iraqis to get back to work, not only allowing them to provide for their families, but also keeping them occupied. He knew from his time in other post-conflict societies that the idle and unemployed are the best recruits for insurgencies.

But Bremer and his chief economic adviser, Peter McPherson, didn't want to pour money into inefficient state-run firms. They believed private investors would buy Iraq's government factories and set up new businesses to employ the populace. So they refused to give Carney money to reopen the plants."

This kind of blind ideology--belief that the market forces will respond immediately in a war zone--are just some of the Bush administration's idiocy. Remember, that the reconstruction effort was led by pro-Bush people--not necessarily competent people. People who were asked their views on Roe, rather than how to get Iraq actually functioning as a country. Chandrasekaran reported that one of them went on an anti-smoking movement--as if the Iraqi people didn't have more to worry about.

Now, after all this time, and Carney's wife losing a government contract because of his vocal dissent (remember, Bush isn't a revengeful person, right?) they are asking him back. Now, it seems, the Bush people recognize that perhaps some pragmatism might be in order.

I hope this works, but this all seems like way too little, way too late. If Bush had an ounce of self-reflection and the ability to acknowledge mistakes, we could have made some course adjustments right after the invasion. But not Bushy.

Let's just add this to the list of why I am no longer Southern Baptist.

SBC officials reject Carter, unity talk, but not all Southern Baptists join chorus:
"Southern Baptist blogger Jerry Grace, a Republican layman from Satartia, Miss., was one of many commentators who dismissed the New Baptist Covenant as the political machination of the two former presidents.
"To be consistent, I despise both of these men," Grace wrote Jan. 11 on sbcouthouse.blogspot.com. "Jimmy Carter may be the most naïve man on the planet…. "

Yes, by all means, despise Jimmy Carter. Show your true colors. A man who has lived his life with his faith on his sleeve--who has worked for peace in the most difficult areas of the planet--who has worked to alleviate poverty and suffering. Despise him! Yes, go ahead. And Bill Clinton? Of course, that is easy for a Southern Baptist. His sins are sexual and those are the worst in your Bible. George Bush may start unneccessary wars that get thousands and thousands of people killed, but you will despise Clinton and Carter.


But all is not lost. Thankfully, there are even Southern Baptists in this article who reject the hate wing:
"I am not surprised to see a response movement beginning to develop to provide balance to the fundamentalist tire-slashers who have managed to arrest the microphone of public witness among Southern Baptists," Cole said in a statement to ABP. "Neither am I surprised to read the prejudicial criticisms already being lobbed at Carter and Clinton by some of my fundamentalist brethren."
"Southern Baptists had better be careful when it comes to criticizing efforts to unite people of faith who seek social justice for the poor and oppressed," said Cole, a Southern Baptist pastor in Arlington, Texas "The role of the Levite or the priest in Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan is not one to be preferred. It could be that men whom the Southern Baptist fundamentalist elites regard as undesirable are the very ones who gain heaven's blessing in their efforts to bind up the wounds of those in our society who have fallen among thieves."
Lets hope that these voices become the voices of the Southern Baptist convention rather than the Russell Moore's of the religious right.

January 14, 2007

Bush on 60 minutes--delusional

Bush: Iraq troop boost 'going forward' - Yahoo! News:
"Yet when asked if he owes the Iraqi people an apology for botching the management of the war, he said 'Not at all.'
'We liberated that country from a tyrant,' Bush said. 'I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude.'"
Right. We invaded and threw the country into chaos. But they owe us gratitude.

One moment of humanity--when Bush said that he really didn't want to see Saddam go through the trapdoor. Me neither. That one moment was the most human from Bush. That moment was followed by Bush saying that he isn't motivated by revenge. I don't believe that for a minute.

The Delusional Administration.

I missed this

We caught part of the Eagles/Saints game last night, enough to see the ending, but missed this female fan with an obsenity on her t-shirt. Kind of funny.

Glad to see New Orleans win, but now they face the Bears. Of course, true Americans will cheer for New Orleans or else Katrina and Bush win.

More about an administration that doesn't believe in American democracy--Updated

The real reason the Bush administration won't back down on Guantanamo. - By Dahlia Lithwick - Slate Magazine:
"'key players in the Defense Department and Vice President Cheney's office insisted that the power to detain Americans as enemy combatants had to be preserved.'"

Updated:Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: The collapse of the Bush presidency poses risks:
"The reason Bush violated the law when eavesdropping is the same reason Lithwick cites to explain his other lawless and extremist measures -- because he wanted purposely not to comply with the law in order to establish the general 'principle' that he was not bound by the law, to show that he has the power to break the law, that he is more powerful than the law. This is a President and an administration that are obsessed first and foremost with their own power and with constant demonstrations of their own strength. Conversely, what they fear and hate the most is their own weakness and submission to limitations."

January 13, 2007

This administration doesn't believe in our system

US defense official shocked by law firms defending Guantanamo detainees - Yahoo! News:
"A senior Pentagon official responsible for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said he finds it 'shocking' that top US attorneys are rushing to defend 'terrorists' locked up there.

'The major law firms in the country ... are out there representing detainees,' Cully Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, said in a Federal News Radio interview Thursday, available online.

'And you know what, it's shocking,' he said.

'I think quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.'"

This from our own government. People aren't "innocent until proven guilty." They are already "terrorists" and anyone who defends them in court, you know, to find out if they are terrorists, is unAmerican.

Seriously, these people don't even believe in our system.

Turning point? (updated)

This latest speech from Bush has caused some turning points that I didn't quite expect. I didn't expect it to change me at all, for example, yet it has made me even more concerned about this President's competence. But I am not the only one. Several Repubs are also skeptical.

Faithful Progressive points us to this Leonard Pitts column that I think says it as well as any.
Most of all, though, I know this: I do not trust my leaders. And politics is not the only, or even the primary, reason. No, at the end of the day, this is a question of character.

From the beginning, the architects of this war have shown a frightening nonchalance toward truth, a troubling willingness to treat fact as optional. Where reality has collided with political expedience, political expedience has invariably won. Where it has been inconvenient, it has been ignored.

Some of us have distrusted this president for sometime. But Glenn Greenwald points us to an even angrier post by conservative Christian Rod Dreher. (Actually, it is a oral essay at NPR, but Glenn has part of the transcript at his blog.) Dreher grew up with the Carter failed rescue effort in Iran and learned to see Republicans as winners and Democrats as defeatists. His first thought when 9-11 occurred was that he was glad a Republican was President. But that has changed.
As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.

But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.

In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.

The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.

It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.
Now Dreher wants his kids to learn to question authority.

I have been sick about this President for years. Readers might recall my tearful and obsenity-laced rant after Bush won reelection in 2004. I have doubted his sincerity and competence from that first year, and have waited for others to join me--though even I had no idea the depth of his incompetence. At each turn, I thought people might see what I saw. Iraq, "mission accomplished," torture, wmd, etc. Then after reelection, I really thought that Katrina would get people, because I thought they wanted a basic competence. But they were more than willing to blame Nagin and Blanco for all the problems and give Bush a pass.

I think they started to see the light when Bush waited until losing the midterm election to fire Rummy. And this "plan" to fight in Iraq, coupled with the fact that Bush's mantra of "listening to his generals" was clearly a lie. And then he fired those generals who didn't tell him what he wanted to hear. And then he gave this speech. Usually, the President enjoys a bump after such a speech, but his approval ratings appear to be dropping. And more importantly, as Dreher shows, hardcore conservatives are leaving the fold.

Update:Barbara O'Brien (found this at Glenn's blog) has some thoughts on Dreher's story of political awakening. She notes how people like Dreher grew up during the rise of the Republican noise machine where liberals were all bad and conservatives were all good. She laments that this childish way of viewing the world seems to have become the Republican view.

But when recounting her own political awakening, she writes this:
"But then our hearts were broken in Dallas, and less than two years later Lyndon Johnson announced he would send troops to Vietnam. And then the young men of my generation were drafted into the meat grinder. Sooner or later, most of us figured out our idealism had been misplaced. I was one of the later ones; the realization dawned for me during the Nixon Administration, which began while I was a senior in high school. Oh, I still believed in liberty and democracy; I felt betrayed because I realized our government didn’t. "
That is exactly how I have felt the last several years.

January 12, 2007

The Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)

To get the taste of fundy history off our palates.

More on fundamentalism and history

Jeff Sharlet's article on the Christian right's re-writing of American history is one of the scariest things I have read in a while. I quote a little below, but read the entire, very long essay for yourself.

Some of it I understand, but most of it confuses me. Much like those who see Bush as God's chosen President, their view of American history is so unbelievable that it often sounds like a completely different country. The part that bothers me the most is the underlying savagery of their faith. Like the post from D. James Kennedy where the chaplains provide the final link to a "victory" where an entire Indian village is massacred--men, women, children, this article highlights more insanity. One of their favorite Americans is Stonewall Jackson. Fine. Whatever. Though, as I have said here many times, I am growing weary of the Southern "lost cause" apologists in this country.

But the Stonewall story is even more interesting.
In All Things for Good: The Steadfast Fidelity of Stonewall Jackson, fundamentalist historian J. Steven Wilkins opens a chapter on Jackson’s belief in the “black flag” of no quarter for the enemy with a quotation: “Shoot them all, I do not wish them to be brave.” The only path to peace, he believed, was total war.

“Today,” writes Freeborn,

"Mr. Jackson’s life stands as a witness to a new generation of what God can and desires to do in each of His children. Let us rise up and follow the shining example of this stern soldier, loving husband, devoted church officer, and Christ-like man."
Yeah, slaughtering the enemy is wonderful, isn't it? How does one claim to follow Jesus and embrace slaughter? It isn't Christianity.
But Freeborn chooses as case study not a Civil War battle but his first victory as a lowly lieutenant out of West Point. Sent to the Mexican War, he defied an order to retreat, fought the Mexican cavalry alone with one artillery piece, won, and was promoted, later commended by General Winfield Scott, commander of the U.S. forces, for “the way in which [he] slaughtered those poor Mexicans.”

Many of the poor Mexicans Jackson slaughtered were civilians. After his small victory had helped clear the way for the American advance, Jackson received orders to turn his guns on Mexico City residents attempting to flee the oncoming U.S. army. He did so without hesitation—mowing them down as they sought to surrender.

What are we to make of this murder? Secular historians attribute this atrocity to Jackson’s military discipline—he simply obeyed orders. But fundamentalists see in that discipline, that willingness to kill innocents, confirmation of Romans 13:1: “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Obeying one’s superiors, according to this logic, is an act of devotion to the God above them.

It is bad enough that the Puritans believed they weilded the sword of God when they attacked the Pequot, or that Chivington shared their belief when he slaughtered the Cheyenne at Sand Creek. It is ten times worse that people living today also share that mania.

This is not Christianity. I am not sure what it is, but it isn't Christianity. It is some bastardized form that sees market capitalism as Godly, and cares more about stopping gays than feeding the poor. Can you imagine Christ as Stonewall, turning his guns on innocents simply trying to get out of a battle? I guess only if you can see him in the torture rooms with Dick Cheney, smoking a cigarette as some poor Muslim is waterboarded.

It isn't for me. But it evidently is the curricula of choice for homeschoolers and fundy schools. Sharlet makes the comparison to madrassas, and we should all wince.


The first pillar of American fundamentalism is Jesus Christ; the second is history; and in the fundamentalist mind the two are converging. Fundamentalism considers itself a faith of basic truths unaltered (if not always acknowledged) since their transmission from Heaven, first through the Bible and second through what they see as American scripture, divinely inspired, devoutly intended—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the often overlooked Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which declared “religion” necessary to “good government” and thus to be encouraged through schools. Well into the nineteenth century, most American schoolchildren learned their ABCs from The New-England Primer, which begins with “In Adam’s Fall/We sinned all”—and continues on to “Spiritual Milk for American Babes, Drawn out of the Breasts of both Testaments.” In 1836, McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers began to displace the Primer, selling some 122 million copies of lessons such as “The Bible the Best of Classics” and “Religion the only Basis of Society” during the following century.


“Providence” would have been a better word. I was “unschooling” myself, Bill Apelian, director of Bob Jones University’s BJU Press, explained. What seemed to me a self-directed course of study was, in fact, the replacement of my secular education with a curriculum guided by God. When BJU Press, one of the biggest Christian educational publishers, started out thirty years ago, science was their most popular subject, and it could be summed up in one word: “created.” Now American history is on the rise. “We call it Heritage Studies,” Apelian said, and explained its growing centrality: “History is God’s working in man.”

Hey, hey--capitalism at work?

Bible Belt Blogger: Mega-salaries for mega-pastors:
"Megachurch pastors aren't just storing up riches in heaven. They're also reaping substantial blessings here on earth, according to 'Your Church' magazine.

The typical salary for a senior pastor of a congregation with average attendance of 1,000 or more is $111,052, 'Your Church' reports. Associate pastors at these churches typically earn $71,000. Music directors average $66,581.

These salaries include wages and housing allowances, but exclude other benefits, the magazine said."

January 11, 2007

History and faith

Surfing tonight, and thinking about dominionism, which made me look up D. James Kenney--who I discovered suffered a pretty severe heart attack last month. (He appears to be improving.)

Over at Carlos' blog, ubub and I have argued with someone about revisionist history, which most people misunderstand (I believe), and use the term mostly to describe historical explanations they don't like.

So, anyway, while surfing on Kennedy's wackjob site, I discover this little quote that I think illustrates truly bad history. In their Impact Newsletter, in an attempt to support chaplains in the military, and probably only Christian chaplains, the author writes:
America’s fighting men have relied on the services of chaplains since America’s founding. When military leaders disagreed in 1637 over how to wage battle against the Pequot Indians, they sought counsel from Rev. Samuel Stone, of the Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut.
Increase Mather, in his Early History of New England, reported that Rev. Stone spent “the remaining Part of the Day, and the following Night … in spreading the Case before the Lord, and seeking his Direction….” The next morning, Stone announced God’s will for the attack route. That advice was followed and the Pequots were defeated.

See? The Pequots were defeated, so keep the chaplains in the military. Make no mistake, I have no problem with the chaplain program, but this "christian" newsletter takes a historical massacre and brutal attack and turns it into a "victory." Here are a few other descriptions:
On May 26, 1637, with a force up to about 400 fighting men, Mason attacked Misistuck by surprise. He estimated that "six or seven Hundred" Pequot were there when his forces assaulted the palisade. Some 150 warriors had accompanied Sassacus, so that Mystic's inhabitants were largely comprised of Pequot women and children. Surrounding the palisade, Mason ordered that the enclosure be set on fire. Justifying his conduct later, Mason declared that the holocaust against the Pequot was also the act of a God who "laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot] as a fiery Oven . . . Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling [Mystic] with dead Bodies." [10] Mason also insisted that should any Pequot attempt to escape the flames, that they too should be killed. Of the 600 to 700 Pequot at Mystic that day, only seven were taken prisoner while another seven made it into the woods to escape.

The Narragansett and Mohegan warriors who had fought alongside John Mason and John Underhill's colonial militia were horrified by the actions and "manner of the Englishmen's fight . . . because it is too furious, and slays too many men."[11] Repulsed by the "total war" tactics of the Puritan English, and the horrors that they had witnessed, the Narragansett returned home.

Believing the mission accomplished, John Mason also set out for home. The militia became temporarily lost, but in doing so Mason narrowly missed returning Pequot Indians who, seeing what had occurred, gave chase to the Puritan forces to little avail.
Perhaps this is why conservative evangelicals lack credibility on historical matters. It also makes it very difficult to take their stance on Iraq, for example, when they are so willing to consign historical victims of a massacre to a simple "victory."

2006 top Albums--part six--Neko Case

Yeah, I know, it isn't 2006. But it is my blog and so the rules are all mine. I lost track toward the end of the semester. I will try to round out the top 10, but here is number 6.

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

I love this album, mostly because her voice is as unique as I can imagine. Very hard to describe if you haven't heard her. Flaming red hair and attitude to match. "Hold on, Hold on," and "Maybe Sparrow" are truly amazing songs.

By the way, and not unrelated, I am posting this while watching her Live from Austin, Texas dvd and there are some amazing songs on here. "Maybe Sparrow," for one, and a haunting version of "Wayfaring Stranger." But the song I keep replaying is her soaring version of Dylan's "Buckets of Rain."
Little red wagon
Little red bike
I ain't no monkey but I know what I like.
I like the way you love me strong and slow,
I'm takin' you with me, honey baby,
When I go.

Life is sad
Life is a bust
All ya can do is do what you must.
You do what you must do and ya do it well,
I'll do it for you, honey baby,
Can't you tell?

Bush's speech

The more I think about his speech, the more frustrated I become. The lying and dissembling continued, as when he spoke of listening to Congress and the Iraq Study Group. Of course, he has done neither. When he mentioned Joe Lieberman as if that really represented bi-partisanship, I laughed aloud.

Actually, let me rephrase. He has produced a bit of bi-partisanship. Bush Iraq plan draws fierce criticism from Democrats, some Republicans:
Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska told Rice the president's plan was “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out.”

And it isn't just Hagel:

“You're going to have to do a much better job” explaining the rationale for the war, “and so is the president,” Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, told her. He said Bush could no longer count on his support.

“I've gone along with the president on this and I've bought into his dream and at this stage of the game I just don't think its going to happen,” Voinovich said.

and Brownback, and Coleman, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Heather Wilsonand freaking Oliver North?

Everytime I said Bush is the worst President in US history I meant it. But each time, I could not imagine how much worse he could get. And just think. He has brought chaos to the Middle East only because he can't possibly consider his own mistakes.


January 10, 2007

He spoke

I watched our President speak. Good god. How do you Bush fans out there (all 20 some percent of you) actually do it? This was one of his better speeches and he still keeps me thinking that he is a moron wrapped in a doofus. I mean, this was "serious George." No smirking. No grinning.

Yet, I walk away more depressed than before. I loved, btw, that he acknowledged "mistakes were made." Not that "he" made any, mind you, but they were made. Of course, they are ultimately his fault, in some vague way. But our President Doofus didn't make any. Those mistakes, in the magical lesson for all passive writers out there, "were made." By someone.

Yet tomorrow, he will get credit in some circles. For looking at the clusterfuck that is Iraq and saying that "mistakes were made."



Only good news today was this:Newsweek: Gates to Ask Lt. Gen William Boykin to Leave Pentagon Post. Read Melissa's post. Robert Gates may actually be a grownup Republican.


In an effort to speak hope into the void of Bushworld, we watched this before and after:
Amazon.com: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - Live in Barcelona: DVD: Bruce Springsteen

For any fans, I recommend it. Great songs off the Rising album with old Springsteen greats sprinkled in. Quite a treat, btw, to hear fans in Barcelona singing every damn word.
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

January 9, 2007

What to say anymore?

Shaun notes that Bush and his people aren't even trying to abide by constitutional checks and balances:
"'The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way.' Tony Snow -- January 8, 2007

I know that some think I am overly hard on this president and perhaps too apologetic for the last one. But I honestly believe that while Clinton politicized things he should not have, he did see some issues as outside politics--or at least that the decisions should be made by experts, not political hacks. Bush appears to do everything based on politics. Climate change, as well as every other environmental issue, have been politicized. Same with birth control, and reconstructing Iraq.

And now, more politicized Intelligence:
"This is the first NIE on Iraq in two and a half years. But it won't be ready until the end of the month, after the President proposes his new Iraq policy. That's leading some to question whether the NIE is being held back, to avoid embarrassing the president."

January 8, 2007

Maybe the cartoonists get it more than the journalists

Have we been scared off using the word "fascist?"

Salon has an interview with Chris Hedges, author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

Q: You say they would like to impose a totalitarian system. How much of a conscious goal do you think that is at the upper levels of organizing, with, say, somebody like Rod Parsley?

A: I think they're completely conscious of it. The level of manipulation is quite sophisticated. These people understand the medium of television, they understand the despair and brokenness of the people they appeal to, and how to manipulate them both for personal and financial gain. I look at these figures, and I would certainly throw James Dobson in there, or Pat Robertson, as really dark figures.

I think the vast majority of followers have no idea. There's an earnestness to many of the believers. I had the same experience you did -- I went in there prepared to really dislike these people and most of them just broke my heart. They're well meaning. Unfortunately, they're being manipulated and herded into a movement that's extremely dangerous. If these extreme elements actually manage to achieve power, they will horrify [their followers] in many ways. But that's true with all revolutionary movements.

The core of this movement is tiny, but you only need a tiny, disciplined, well-funded and well-organized group, and then you count on the sympathy of 80 million to 100 million evangelicals. And that's enough. Especially if you don't have countervailing forces, which we don't."

January 7, 2007

Slipping in the Red states--Updated

If you are losing Utah, and your name is George Bush then you might be in trouble.
Although Utah still appears to lead the nation in its support for Bush's war management, the drop below 50 percent should be a warning to the Bush administration, said Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.
"I think Utah is like the canary in the coal mine for Bush," Jowers said. "If he loses Utah, the state that has been most steadfast in supporting him, he has to know it can't get much lower."

Not only are the Bushies losing Utah, but also the NRA?
SEATTLE -- After years of close association with the Republican Party and hard-nosed opposition to federal land-use regulation, the National Rifle Association is being pressured by its membership to distance itself from President Bush's energy policies that have opened more public land for oil and gas drilling and limited access to hunters and anglers.

"The Bush administration has placed more emphasis on oil and gas than access rights for hunters," said Ronald L. Schmeits, second vice president of the NRA, a member of its board of directors and a bank president in Raton, N.M.

The new emphasis on the issue of access to public lands, which Schmeits said is at the "discussion" level among the NRA's directors, would represent a strategic shift for the NRA, whose leadership in Washington has long maintained that its 4 million members were not complaining or even asking questions about access to public lands.

But, during the past six years, an increasing number of the country's 46 million hunters and anglers, including Republican-leaning shooting organizations such as the Boone and Crockett Club, have been grumbling about the Bush's administration fast-tracking of oil and gas drilling leases on public lands.

January 6, 2007

Saturday continued

Just finished watching the Cowboy/Seahawk game. Sorry for CIL, though I was tepidly cheering for Seattle. I would like to like them more, but just don't. But the game was very entertaining at the end--not quite as entertaining as the Boise State/Oklahoma game, but very exciting. Dallas actually played much better than I expected and, in many ways, better than Seattle. But for a mishandled snap...

Speaking of surprises, Indianapolis really showed up in the other game. Well, their defense did. The worst run defense in the NFL held Larry Johnson to 44 yards, and Kansas City didn't make a first down until the third quarter. Unbelievable.

Update. Just saw the press conferences after the Dallas game. I am not a fan of the Cowboys or Bill Parcels, but those post-game press conferences are ridiculous. I really thought Parcells handled himself just fine and should have told some of those reporters to shut the hell up. They ask some of the worst questions I have ever heard. And then Tony Romo came out. SOF paraphrased the questions: "Do you really suck?"


BTW, correction. Indy kept the entire Kansas City offense to 44 rushing yards.


Meant to add this to the earlier post, but we watched Thank you for Smoking last night. We both liked it very much. Really a brilliant satire, though a little too close to the truth for my taste. As Roger Ebert noted, the film is not really about smoking or freedom as much as it was a statement on lobbying. After, we watched some of the extra-features including the interview with Charlie Rose. That, however, was the low-light of the experience as the young director (Jason Reitman) and novel author (Christopher Buckley) were about as smug and arrogant as you will find--even in these settings.

Buckley and Reitman kept hammering on PC, as if they were making some great statement. Yet, the issues of spin are much deeper than anything about "political correctness." I finally turned the interview off. It didn't ruin the film, but it didn't help either.


I read a variety of blogs and found this interesting post on Katrina. Appears that people were able to take more effort to save some embryos than they took to save the poor. Speaking of a "political correctness," I hope our mantra of "pro-life" hasn't turned us into preferring potential life over actual living, breathing people. Of course, the Terry Schiavo case suggests that we are losing some sense of balance here.

This is scary

I have been on this road a few times on our way to Winter Park/Mary Jane and never have I seen anything like this. Keeping a good thought for those involved.


I need to get more work done today than I will. Sigh. But it is a good day for football. As much as I love the bowl games, NFL playoff games are my favorite. For one thing, no Brent Musberger....


Yesterday, SOF and I drove to Pepes (our favorite restaurant in town) for lunch and nearly ran over Barry Switzer. He was jaywalking. We let him off this time.


I am really curious to see what investigations into the President's administration reveal. I hear that Pelosi is urging restraint, but that there are investigations planned into the no-bid contracts (among many other issues) and that alone could cause incredible headaches for the administration.

I have said it before, but this administration is a marvel, wrapped in the flag and Bible, yet more corrupt than any administration in recent memory. Or any. I can think of other administrations that lacked competence, but none who were as active in trying to undermine the constitution or who undertook such foolhardy foreign policy.


The dirty tricks, however, are not new, though some of the same people are involved in this administration. Former Chief Justice Rehnquist's papers reveal not only was the former justice addicted to prescription drugs, but that the Republicans used the FBI to investigate witnesses who might undermine Rehnquist's nomination to be chief justice. The Assistant AG under Reagan? John Bolton.

I remember fondly when Republicans were shocked, SHOCKED, I SAY that the Clinton administration had requested FBI files on some of his critics. That bothered me then and does now, and strikes me as something that Clinton should have been hassled about. Not the meaningless crap that they impeached him for.

But the Republicans have used this tactic many times. And the guy who did it for Reagan is a favorite of the Republican right. Just file that away the next time a conservative Repub complains about executive power or invasion of privacy.


I keep saying that I am done talking about it, but Saddam's botched execution is hard to put behind us. My first objections were to the braying Americans telling me how this was "justice" and that he needed to die. But now it is clear that this execution was so horribly managed by this new Iraq government that it was really a Shiite lynch mob. I resisted that term, but it seems clear now. The timing was meant to offend Sunnis and the taunts by witnesses reveal further Shiite connections.

And the result? As the link above shows, Saddam has gone from ranting crazy and defeated dictator to a respected martyr. The video (which I will not watch) now has made him a hero among many in the middle east for his bravery in the face of the noose. Bravo, Iraqi and American government! Bravo.


And as Marty commented in the "surge" post, our "brave" war President will soon pledge to send more actually brave Americans to Iraq. That 40,000 troops are not sitting somewhere in a magical troop closet, but will be pulled from those who have already served through stop loss and tour extensions. The worst president in American history and, I think, the most tragic administration in American history.

January 5, 2007

Paging Orwell

What do you do when information is harmful to your administration? You simply make the information invisible.
The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House are not open to the public.
This administration seems to think that the law is only what they think it is. I still remember when my Republican relatives and friends complained vociferously about Clinton and his high handedness. Doesn't Clinton--even with Monica--seem like a responsible, respectful and moral President by comparison?

Of course, as you might guess, this is not the only time this White House has politicized information. TPM has a good list here.

Perhaps all of this is leading to a slow recognition even among the slow. Tucker Carlson was chatting about Harriet Miers' resignation as proof of how cynical her SC nomination was. The President thought she could be on the highest court, but is not a good enough lawyer to protect the President from the oncoming onslaught of subpoenas and lawsuits.

Cafferty on the "Surge"

I was one of those people who thought we needed more troops on the ground immediately after the invasion. Security and order were the most important things there and, it seems to me, the only possible option for success in Iraq. It is at least conceivable that immediate and thorough order, restoring jobs, electricty, etc., might have made the insurgency highly unwelcome and seen by the Iraqis as such.

But that ship has sailed long ago. Bush is caught in two dilemmas. One, he has never shown much ability to address his own mistakes and this one is unbelievably catastrophic. Two, he chose Dick Cheney as his VP and main policy advisor, and Cheney simply refuses to even consider the possibility that he might be wrong. For Cheney, the lesson of Watergate is to never back down.

I really don't understand Bush. As Jack Cafferty asks, how may Americans (and countless Iraqis, of course,) will have to die before Bush admits failure?
President Bush is expected to call for sending as many as 40,000 additional troops to Vietnam — I mean Iraq — next week. Escalating the war is now being called a surge. Stay the course has been relabeled. It's the new way forward. We did this in Vietnam, remember? The U.S. kept sending troops over there which only led to more people dying.

The same thing will happen in Iraq. The United States is now an occupying army providing over a civil war in Iraq. There is no way forward, just more death, injury in the squandering of our national Treasury. This country has its belly full of this failed operation in Iraq. Read any public opinion poll.

Is 3,006 deaths not enough? How many do you suppose it will take before President Bush's conscience begins to bother him — 5,000, 10,000, more? How many? Meanwhile, the White House continues to try to get you to think that this is something it's not. The word surge is being used to camouflage the administration plans to escalate the war in Iraq.

January 4, 2007

Bush does it again

Bush wrote another signing statement says he can open mail without a warrant. Nevermind that there isn't a judge in the land who wouldn't authorize a warrant if there was merit to it. Nevermind that the Constitution does not grant the President the power to write his own laws.

This has the stench of Cheney all over it. And with him as VP, this White House will never submit, because Cheney believes that Nixon was right and that the Congress was wrong. Yeah, that far back.


New Congress today and the first woman Speaker of the House. I hope they do good things, starting with the very doable and defensible positions they have taken already--raising minimum wage, 9-11 commission suggestions, etc. They also want to reform lobbying and I hope they do so and follow through. Lot of money there and that temptation is tempting for everyone--not just people like Tom Delay.


Rep Boehner was talking about the war on terror and reminds me of one of my ongoing questions for Republicans. If the war in Iraq and the war on Terror is for our very survival, then why haven't the Republicans in charge fought it with that in mind? Why fight on the cheap and ask Americans to go shopping? If it is for our very survival, why not mobilize the entire country? At the very least, ask more than just the military people and their families.

I think the truth is they themselves don't believe it is for our survival. They believe, as Karl Rove has demonstrated since 9-11, that it is a convenient tool to motivate voters out of fear.

January 3, 2007

A cool book

I received an unexpected, yet totally cool, Christmas present from an old friend. He sent me two books on beer--one on the history of beer brewing in America, and this one kind of about beer, but mostly about building positive businesses that "promote social justice and ecological sustainability."
Sustainable businesses embody the simple idea that business is an endeavor meant to sustain us, not harm us. Business activities should be conducted according to the same ethical and moral principles that guide everyday life. Basically, people and the businesses they build should help people and sustain the planet, not exploit poeple and damage the Earth.

Not bad.

Wednesday notes

Went to Starbucks again today, you know, to focus on myself. Today I offered my little table to someone who needed the power connection. It was a nice contrast to yesterday's experience.


Saddam refuses to go quietly, I guess, since the conversation continues. Today on NPR, I heard about Iraqi Sunni traveling to pay their respects at his grave. What an accomplishment. Hitch has some thoughts:
The timing—isn't anyone in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad paid to notice this kind of thing?—was explicitly designed to rub every kind of humiliation into Iraqi Sunnis. It profaned their observance of the Eid ul-Adha holiday, while gratifying the Shiite fundamentalists whose ceremonies begin one day later. To have made the butcher Saddam into a martyr, to have gratified one sect, and to have cheated millions of Iraqis and Kurds of the chance for a full accounting—what a fine day's work!

Brian McLaren just felt "dirty" when he heard about it. I agree.


In one of the funniest controversies of the last few months, the first Muslim congressman caused concern among the wackjob right because he wanted to be sworn in on the Koran. Today's news is awash with his brilliant move to be sworn in on a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson.


I have thought that once the Democrats actually took some power that our conservative friends might rediscover their sense of outrage about leadership. You know, decide to actually investigate leaders and then hold them accountable. In ways that they, of course, would not do with George "Jesus" Bush.

Not only is the racism against Obama disheartening, but the attacks on his character are unbelievably hypocritical. Obama made the mistake of admitting some experimentation with drugs in his youth and the right is "shocked, shocked I say." Maybe Obama needs to make a big deal about a conversion or "born again" experience so he can follow W in achieving total amnesty for his youthful indiscretions.

Of course, Rushbo will weigh in with outrage completely forgetting his own addictions. Obama showed growth and honesty--two traits which the fat boy couldn't pick out of a lineup. Bill O'Reilly might sexually harrass co-workers, but ten dollars says he will be all over this. And of course, the religious right will make noises about Obama's immorality with no recognition that their credibility is gone.

January 2, 2007

It isn't that I dislike kids

But this afternoon was frustrating. I went to Starbucks to work. Took the macbook and my headphones and was working away. This particular Starbucks does not have a lot of inside seating, and since I had notes and didn't want to sit right next to the door, I set up on the one big table that had four chairs around it.

In comes a woman with two small boys. Small, don't ask me ages. I am guessing 3? Pretty good on their feet but a little scary with the knives and forks and drinks. She comes up and asks me if they can sit on that side of the table. I initially think she just wants to borrow the chairs, but then agree that she and the kids can share the table with me. But then I see the drinks and get a little nervous.

I move my laptop a little farther away and also to give them all more room. I keep working. Kind of. I am tensed and ready to lift the laptop at the first sign of spillage. Finally, I realize that is a bad idea and put the laptop away and just read on my notes. Which would be fine but the kids keep kicking the table legs. Mommy dearest continues to talk to them about their day.

At first, I was fine with it. I thought, she is probably a little hectic keeping these two from enlisting or something. Least I can do is be accomodating. But the leg kicking continues. And after the little dears finished their banana bread or whatever, she goes to get them another piece. She keeps encroaching on my space and finally I decide that I would be better off working at home.

Was it just me? I tried. I honestly did. But she never once asked them to stop kicking the table. She never once--after asking for the chairs--said anything to me. True, I had the headphones in, but come on. I don't think it was asking that much for her to try to keep them from ruining my coffee. Hell, I was trying to be nice.


Quote of the day? Or year?

Voice of the Day: Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Enemies (from Sojo's blog--sorry, link not currently working)
[N]ever be conceited. With respect to our attitude toward our enemies, this means first, remember that you were God's enemy and that, without having earned it or being worthy of it, you were met with mercy. It means second, remember that God hung on the cross for your enemy too, and love God and God loves you.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Yeah, this liberal media has got to go!

As sure as the sun rises, I will hear my conservative friends and family repeat the "liberal media" mantra. It has become gospel to them, and evidence to the contrary simply ignored. Clinton investigated by the media to a most intimate level while Bush discusses wmd with the complicity of the news media. For a somewhat humorous take on the corporate nature of our media, check out this cartoon from SNL (H/T Anglican).

But perhaps the best current example is how the MSM has dealt with the phenomenon of Barack Obama. Sure, his last name is a curious one and even Ted Kennedy slipped discussing him. But the media has taken this to a whole other level. Far beyond slips, they have consciously compared this Senator to militant terrorists. Unbelievable. I am afraid the racism that will be leveled at Obama will be almost unprecedented.

Raw Story has CNN's apology for the most recent version of this:
During a January 1st broadcast of Wolf Blitzer's nightly news program, a pre-commercial preview of the show's next segment included a story on the hunt for Al Qaeda's leadership. Over a photo of Osama Bin Laden and his second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Blitzer stated, according to the transcript, "Plus, a new year, but the same mission. Will 2007 bring any new changes in the hunt for Osama bin Laden?"

But instead of asking "Where's Osama?" the graphic over the two Islamists read "Where's Obama?" referencing the surname of popular Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama.

A later segment of the show, which took up the topic of the 2008 presidential election, did discuss Senator Obama's political prospects if he chooses to run for president.

Blitzer apologized during this morning's coverage of the Gerald Ford funeral.

"I just want to make a correction, an apology, Soledad, for what we did yesterday. In 'The Situation Room,' we had a bad graphic," Blitzer said in a transcript delivered to RAW STORY by CNN's public relations staff. "We were doing a piece on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in this new year 2007. Unfortunately, instead of saying "where is Osama," it said "where is Obama." I'm going to be calling Senator Barack Obama to make a personal apology."

A CNN employee also told RAW STORY an additional apology was offered by Soledad O'Brien earlier in the morning.

Bloggers rapidly highlighted the faulty graphic last night. At Daily Kos, a diary started by one user included comments from hundreds of users debating whether or not the graphic was constructed deliberately. While some noted the proximity of the program to New Year's Eve might have resulted in sleepy graphic artists at the cable network, others insisted that the 'B' and 'S' keys are far from one another on the keyboard, making a mere typographical error unlikely. Instead, they saw an anti-Obama bias in the news media as the source of the CNN graphic.

A variety of incidents over the course of recent months have created a perception that pundits and news organizations are attempting to link the popular freshman senator and possible presidential candidate with militant Islam.

Initially, a variety of news organizations and pundits began pointing out that Obama's middle name was "Hussein," given to him by his father who was born and raised a Muslim. In early November, Chris Matthews on MSNBC suggested that the "Hussein" moniker will "be interesting down the road." Republican pundits and strategists then began referring to Obama's middle name more pointedly. On an MSNBC broadcast, GOP strategist Ed Rogers said Obama's full name with a deliberately heavy emphasis on his middle name, and radio show host Rush Limbaugh later called him "Barack Hussein Odumbo." (A list of these and other Obama-related incidents are available at Media Matters for America.)

On a December 11th broadcast of Blitzer's show earlier this month, other moves suggested an effort to sustain a meme on Obama's Islamic links. First, a commentary by Jeff Greenfield asked "Is there any other major public figure who dresses the way he does?" and answered, "Why, yes. It is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." He thereupon described Obama as a "sartorial timebomb." Greenfield later insisted that his remarks were merely a joke.

On the same broadcast, CNN correspondent Jeanne Moos made the Osama-Obama link. She noted, "Someone could confuse Obama with Osama. Only one little consonant differentiates the two names. And as if that similarity weren't enough, how about sharing the name of a former dictator?"

Following on these incidents, a conservative pundit went as far as to suggest that Obama might be a kind of Muslim Manchurian Candidate. An article by syndicated columnist Debbie Schlussel on December 18th asked "is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?"