February 28, 2007

What is their motivation?

TPMmuckraker notes that senior Justice officials have admitted that federal prosecuters are being fired to make room for political hacks. Evidently the Bushies have lots more incompetent people to appoint, and now that the people have spoken they don't have the Republican rubber stamp. Federal prosecutors are an attractive target because under that Patriot Act provision, they don't have to expose their appointees to senate confirmation.

So, why do they do all this. Is it worth it to claw your way to the top only to commit such incompetence that people routinely refer to you as the worst administration in American history? Even some from your own party refer to your war policy as the most dangerous foreign policy in American history?

For some strange reason, I think that competence is often spurred by the fact that even if people are not inner directed to do good work, they are at least hoping that others will think well of them. Evidently, either they don't care or don't know.

Either way it is a dark blotch on the history of American democracy.

The Bush doctrine on scandal

Instead of fixing the problem, just deny access. Walter Reed patients have been told not to talk to the media.

The goggles! They do nothing!

Certainly when watching television. Last night's Daily Show had a particularly disturbing story about conflict between Katy residents and a local Muslim association. Turns out that they want to build a mosque and the neighbor decided to have pig races on Friday nights to offend his new neighbors. Reading the story, there are clearly some areas of miscommunication on both sides, but the report (on the Daily Show) ended with the farmer claiming that he wasn't a racist, but rather a bigot.

Ze Goggles!


Meanwhile, SOF has a head cold for the ages and is not happy right now. I made her the magical chicken soup last night with the egg noodles my mother taught me to make--but no magical recovery. Dammit. That's ok. She is home sleeping and hopefully will feel better soon.


Heard from a colleage who I trust and admire a story about Obama. Someone who taught with him says he is absolutely brilliant, and the person saying this is widely regarded as equally brilliant. Add that to the discomfort I feel everytime Hillary goes on the attack and you can see the Streak supporting Obama.


Speaking of inside information, we had the pleasure of meeting Diane Rehm last week. She was delightful and has a very interesting life story. She gave a little talk about her struggle with spasmodic dysphonia, and then some about her radio show. She argued that our political system creates scripted politicians devoid of any real qualities. Pressed with a question about naming a "genuine politician," she was stumped.

February 27, 2007

Remember when Laura Bush was the sane one?

I can't say this much better than Shakespeare's Sister :
"Laura Bush, First Propagandist, said yesterday on Larry King Live: "[M]any parts of Iraq are stable now. But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody." This is, of course, total horseshit; as Think Progress notes, "According to the latest Brookings Institution Iraq Index, as of November 2006, there were approximately 185 insurgent and militia attacks every day."

But let's pretend she's right as we move to the next story, shall we?

Bagram, Afghanistan, today: "A suicide bomber killed 19 people and wounded 11 outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said Cheney was the target.""

As I recall, even GWB doesn't say that all is well in Iraq. This "blame the media" stuff is an easy place to go, but then you should watch Lara Logan's rebuttal. This is from last year, but I think still relevant. She points out that when she was first in Iraq, reporters drove where they wanted to go, but since the insurgency, they can only go where the Military can fly them.

For Laura Bush to suggest that things are actually going well is really unconscionable.

February 25, 2007

Sunday discussion

Item one. Pandagon's provacative titled post: Religious fringe struggles to find a suitable prez candidate reveals just how things have changed. I keep hoping that religious conservatives would learn something from the Bush legacy, but I fear they are still in the ranks of the very few Americans who still buy Bush's facade. Now they are stuck with McCain (straight talker my ass), Guliani (failed politician reborn by 9-11, but pro-gay, pro-choice), Mitt Romney (mormon flipper) and then a host of no-names. Interesting.


Item two. Interesting discussion in my last post on the SBC's sex abuse scandal. I am curious how the denomination and member churches will handle this. Several have noted that the Baptists are unlike the Catholics in organization and cannot simply fire someone who works for a Baptist church. But haven't we seen state organizations decide to not allow them to remain in the convention for things like approving homosexuality?


Item three, and then I have to go to the store. Interesting discussion on abortion over at The Rambling Prophet where once again, Tony has a thoughtful and generous discussion. And as usual, we agree more than we disagree.

But during that discussion, we started talking about the Old Testament's stance on life, etc., and found ourselves in Exodus. Exodus chapter 21, to be specific, where we have the (or one of the) references to the famous "eye for an eye" approach to justice and conflict resolution. But the text is really intersting, both in what it says, but those passages that surround it.
"22 If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely [footnote says "or has a miscarriage"] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."
Several interesting points. As I read it, and I am not a Biblical scholar, the "eye for an eye" part comes into play if the woman is injured, but not the fetus.

Second, isn't it interesting to have such specificity as if there was a lot of examples of men fighting around pregnant women. :)

The rest of the chapter is equally bizarre (in my eyes). Verse 12 says that if you strike a man down and kill him you should be put to death, but verse 13 follows with mitigation. If you didn't mean to do it, or God allowed it to happen, then the perpetrator can flee.

Other things meriting capital punishment are attacking parents, kidnapping, or cursing parents. But here was my favorite and just one reason why I think a literal innerrent reading of the Bible is a very tough way to make public policy or even moral decisions:
20 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

February 21, 2007


My original headline was "this is not good," but I realized this could be construed badly--as if addressing the sex abuse is a bad thing. Tragic is a better descriptor and I hope that those involved will find help and support. I also know that I have not been a fan of the SBC (and that continues) but I certainly am saddened to see this.

Sex abuse victims' advocates go after Southern Baptists - CNN.com: "The victims' advocates who dogged the Roman Catholic Church over sex abuse by its clergy have now turned their attention to the Southern Baptists, accusing America's largest Protestant denomination of also failing to root out molesters.

The Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has started a campaign to call attention to alleged sex abuse committed by Southern Baptist ministers and concealed by churches.

SNAP presented a letter Monday to Southern Baptist Convention executive committee members in Nashville, asking the group to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on sex abuse and to create an independent review board to investigate molestation reports.

Church leaders concede there have been some incidents of abuse in Southern Baptist congregations, but say their hands are tied when it comes to investigating complaints across the denomination."

Recent comments working

Had to tweak the code. That's right, I said "tweak the code." That's just how I roll.

Do we like part of the comment text previewed? Or no?

Holy cow

Making Martial Law Easier - New York Times: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration’s behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.

The provision, signed into law in October, weakens two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty. One is the doctrine that bars military forces, including a federalized National Guard, from engaging in law enforcement. Called posse comitatus, it was enshrined in law after the Civil War to preserve the line between civil government and the military. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which provides the major exemptions to posse comitatus. It essentially limits a president’s use of the military in law enforcement to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion, where a state is violating federal law or depriving people of constitutional rights.

The newly enacted provisions upset this careful balance. They shift the focus from making sure that federal laws are enforced to restoring public order. Beyond cases of actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any “other condition.”"
As the Time editorial suggests, that this was pushed through without notice and debate is unbelievable. This is not the actions of a democracy.

February 20, 2007

Best first lines of a song

So what is your choice for best first line?

I like this from Wilco's "Humminbird:"
His goal in life was to be an echo

Ok, now you.

This is George Bush's America

I noted the WaPo story the other day on the "other Walter Reed" where out patient solders dealt with mice, wheelchairing to appointments with no assistance, and general disregarding of people who have sacrificed all. This is irresponsible at a level that makes me want to scream. Horses Mouth has the White House response:
"QUESTION: The White House doesn't want to be on record with a more emphatic expression of amazement and upset about this?

MR. SNOW: No. David asked where the outrage -- of course there's outrage that men and women who have been fighting have not received the outpatient care -- if you read the stories, there are many who are happy with it, some who are unhappy, and it's important that we show our commitment to the people who have served. I don't know what more you want me to do.


QUESTION: Do you think the President is going to say something about this later?

MR. SNOW: No."

This is our President. Watching Chris Matthews (even though he is a braying ass) and his anger at Bush and the mistreatment of soldiers is palpable. But he is right here. This President refused to serve in VN, something I completely understand being a coward myself. But normal cowards understand their own weakness and learn from it and have an admiration and appreciation for those who do serve. Bush somehow thinks himself a war hero rather than the coward that he is. And his bungling has punished those true heros and warriors who fight for the rest of us. Shame on him.

And shame on those who continue to support him.

February 18, 2007

This is just disheartening

Conservative Anglican leaders snub liberal U.S. bishop on Yahoo! News:
"Seven conservative Anglican archbishops refused to take communion with the head of the U.S. branch of the church on Friday, in protest at her pro-gay stance in a row pushing the Church toward schism.

'This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion,' said a statement posted on the Web site of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, led by Archbishop Peter Akinola.

'We are unable to take the Holy Table with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of the traditional Anglican teaching,' it said."
It is hard for me to imagine Jesus taking this action.

But then again, I find myself frustrated with the entire way the Bible is read, misread, used as weapon, etc. by all sides. There are times when the Bible appears as a Rorschach test for whoever reads it.

Sunday blogging

Last night, SOF and I enjoyed some excellent Indian food with Anglican and his lovely wife. Splendid conversation, and a first class lamb vindaloo made for a great evening. Thanks to both of them for that. Sharing a meal with friends is about as good as it gets.


I have found the military support for Bush most confusing, as well as the assumption by non-military people that Bush is pro-military. I still remember when they floated the idea of cutting danger pay and wondered who the hell does that to people you send to fight?

This story from the WaPo is as chilling as it gets. A long and detailed story on the poor quality of care given our returning wounded. I still don't understand it. Whatever we think of this war, taking care of the men and women who serve must be a priority, and it isn't the opponents of the war doing this to them, it is the supporters and planners. Reminds me of the story of anti-war protesters spitting on VN vets when the evidence suggests that it didn't happen--or at least didn't happen in the way that the myth suggests.

But back to this WaPo story. This is how we are treating those who fight for us.
: "On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of 'Catch-22.' The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide."
This is shameful for all of us. It is especially shameful for someone like Bush, but also for all the people out there who politically reward such behavior. Got to have those tax cuts, I guess, but those yellow ribbons on your car or "god bless america" sticker won't make up for this.


Even conservatives have turned on W, as we have noted over the years. Here Joseph Bottum, a conservative, chastizes the Bush administration mostly for incompetence:
"The reason is President Bush. His administration has mishandled the logistics of the war and the politics of its perception in nearly equal measure, from Abu Ghraib to the execution of Saddam Hussein. Conservatives voted for George W. Bush in 2000 because they expected him to be the opposite of Bill Clinton-and so, unfortunately, he has proved. Where Clinton seemed a man of enormous political competence and no principle, Bush has been a man of principle and very little political competence. The security concerns after the attacks of September 11 and the general tide of American conservatism carried Republicans through the elections of 2002 and 2004. But by 2006 Bush had squandered his party’s advantages, until even the specter of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House was not enough to keep the Republicans in power."
Still would like to see those examples of Bush's vaunted "principle" but agree on the lack of competence.


Just in time for church this morning, this story on the ever-so-intriguing matchup of Mormon Mitt Romney v. Christian evangelicals. Sully notes this exchange:
"A Republican Christianist heckles a Mormon candidate in Florida. Romney responds as follows:

"We need to have a person of faith lead the country."

How is that not a religious test for the presidency? The anti-Mormon bigotry displayed is ugly and wrong - but it will come up again. Bush and Rove have built a Republican party on a sectarian base - and Romnney is of the wrong sect. But instead of standing up to this sectarianism, and affirming the right of anyone of any faith or none to be president, Romney panders to religious bias. It seems to me that it is equally bigoted to say that a Mormon should not be president as it is to say that an atheist should not be president. Romney has chosen to fight bigotry with bigotry. We are finding out that he will say anything - anything - to get elected. That is not the mark of a person of faith. It is the mark of a person shot through with cynicism."
Sully nails two key points. A) that Bushco has created the sectarian divide that will ultimately undermine Romney. After all, after a life of reckless boozing and self-destructive behavior, all Bush had to offer religious conservatives was his "born again" story. Without that, he was simply another Clinton with different vices. Christian conservatives try to tell me they didn't vote for Bush solely because of the faith issue, but they did. They voted for him because he reflected their image back--they were convinced he was one of them. Now, how do you convince a Baptist to identify with a Mormon?


Speaking of Republicans, The Washington Monthly catches this story from the LA Times that should surprise no one. Conservatives are already prepping to "Swift Boat" Hillary. As Kevin notes, hard to imagine Hillary not fighting back, but the real hope is that the media will call these tactics what they are--political thuggery--rather than simply transcribing what the right says.


Back to the issue of faith, this from the Bible Belt blogger about U2Charist, or a communion liturgy featuring music from U2. I love U2, don't get me wrong, but this is not appealing to me at all. No more than the praise and worship craze or the use of PowerPoint in sermons.

While we are on the subject, Melissa Rogers points us to this really funny video about "me worship."

February 17, 2007

Recent comments widget not working

Not sure why. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Update: The person who created the widget says that the issue is Blogger's. I have moved the recent comment widget to the bottom of my template until it becomes useful again.

One more

This from Faithful Progressive the discussion by the founder of USA Today on Bush's place in history:

A year ago I criticized Hillary Clinton for saying "this (Bush) administration will go down in history as one of the worst."

"She's wrong," I wrote. Then I rated these five presidents, in this order, as the worst: Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Ulysses Grant, Hoover and Richard Nixon. "It's very unlikely Bush can crack that list," I added.

I was wrong. This is my mea culpa. Not only has Bush cracked that list, but he is planted firmly at the top.

The Iraq war, of course, has become Bush's albatross. He and his buddies are great at coining words or slogans. "Bushisms" that will haunt him historically:

"Shock and Awe," early 2003.

"Mission Accomplished," May 1, 2003.

"Stay the Course," June 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.

"New Strategy," 2007.
Another term historians may weigh critically is "Decider."

Is he just a self-touted decider doing what he thinks right? Or is he an arrogant ruler who doesn't care or consider what the public or Congress believes best for the country?

Despite his play on words and slogans, Bush didn't learn the value or meaning of mea culpa (acknowledgement of an error) during his years at Yale.

Bush admitting his many mistakes on Iraq and ending that fiasco might make many of us forgive, even though we can never forget the terrible toll in lives and dollars.

Saturday morning

Talking to students this week, I found it encouraging that they also found the coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith death stupid. Maybe there is hope after all. But please don't tell me about a liberal bias in the media. Not after all of this, and Rupert Murdoch admitting to trying to sway the American people in support of Bush's policies. Sigh. Watched Fox Noise the other afternoon to see Neil Cavuto suggest that Ben Stein was a communist for supporting a tax increase on the wealthy.


Other news this week was the story of John Amaechi, who came out of the closet after he retired as a NBA center. Then Tim Hardaway--who I had forgotten was such a jerk--comes out and says that he hates gay people, doesn't want them in the world or the US. Sure he retracted, but....

ESPN's Chris Broussard also disagrees with homosexuality, but gives us a different model of tolerance. He plays in a rec league with several openly gay players even though he believes that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin.
"LZ and I know where each other stand and we respect each other's right to believe as he does.

I know he's gay, and he knows I believe that's a sin. I know he thinks I get my moral standards from an outdated, mistranslated book, and he knows I believe he needs to change his lifestyle. Still, we can laugh together, and play ball together.

That's real diversity. Disagreeing but not being disagreeable."

I think there is much to agree with that. After all, we are always around people who make different choices or live differently than we do.


The more we learn about Iraq and the middle east reminds me of how much of this we should have learned before we invaded. I wrote this next rant yesterday morning in an email to some friends:
Means that I begin my MWF with actual news (not the latest on Anna Nicole Smith's paternity tests). NPR has been running a series on the differences between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Very educational for a westerner who really knows very little about Islam. I knew there were different sects, but not much beyond that. Of course, the theology disappears pretty quickly into cultural and ethnic rivalries.
But here is the Friday morning rant time. Bush, according to one source, didn't know there were differences between teh two groups as late as 2 months before ordering the invasion. Not only that, but all the whining about Iran is really amazing considering that we have essentially made the Middle East safer for Iran. In the process of these two wars (one at least justified in Afghanistan), we have eliminated or suppressed two of Iran's greatest enemies in the region: the Taliban and Saddam. Not only that, but as our Dick VP goes around the country talking about what a threat Iran is to the region and how other countries in the region are scared of it, he conveniently forgets (or doesn't know--or doesn't care) that the Maliki government we help and support and badger in Iraq is Shiite. And pro-Iran. So the Sunni led governments around the Middle east look at this and us and wonder just who's side we are on. Add to that the American bumbling of the Palestinian issue (at least Clinton devoted a lot of effort to the road map), and we have a middle east that is far less stable, and far less democratic.
These people are truly idiots. None of this required phds in Middle Eastern studies to predict, btw, and there were plenty of people warning about this. But the Pentagon and White House ignored every other voice:

"Six months before the invasion, the Pentagon's top generals drew up a battleplan that painted a rosy picture to justify waging war.

Military commander Tommy Franks and his generals were so confident of success they said that by 2007 they would need only 5,000 troops and a handful of British soldiers."

Meanwhile the SBC gives Bush a religious freedom award and conservative evangelicals seem to stray only when the GOP is nice to gays or endorses some kind of science. I am wondering what kind of world we are creating when America--the supposed beacon of democracy creates this kind of situation.


Add to that some of the true idiots we have in our congress, and it is enough to consider another form of government.
Goode: Without Surge, U.S. Money May Soon Say "In Muhammad We Trust" | TPMCafe: "In Muhammad We Trust." That's what GOP Rep. Virgil Goode says that U.S. money risks being marked with — that is, if we don't support escalation of the Iraq war as part of our broader efforts to stave off Muslim domination of the United States in general. "In Muhammad We Trust." Goode, you may recall, sparked a national controversy back in December by saying that the U.S. should close its borders lest it be overrun by frightening hordes of Muslims. "

February 15, 2007


Our President spoke today. That should be enough for a "sigh." Turns out he figured out that Afghanistan isn't going that well either.
"Across Afghanistan last year, the number of roadside bomb attacks almost doubled, direct fire attacks on international forces almost tripled, and suicide bombings grew nearly five-fold. These escalating attacks were part of a Taliban offensive that made 2006 the most violent year in Afghanistan since the liberation of the country.

Yeah, that is what the rest of us have known for sometime. But here is where I really dislike the man. Listen to the following and imagine the Chimping President smirking as he says this.
And so the fundamental question is, how do you react? Do you say, maybe it's too tough? Let's just kind of let this young democracy wither and fade away. Do we forget the lessons of September the 11th? And the answer is absolutely not."
This is the level of argument and thought from this worst President ever. That's right, George, the rest of us are suggesting that if it is too tough, give up, and that we don't care about a fledgling democracy.

Hell, most of us are wondering if we still have a democracy here. And if we do, this is the best we can come up with?

Worst. President. Ever.

We're number one!! Sadly...

NPR : U.S. on List of UNICEF's Worst Countries for Kids: "A new report from the U.N. Children's Fund says the United States and Britain are the worst countries in the industrialized world in which to be a child. UNICEF says an examination of 40 factors, such as poverty, deprivation, happiness, relationships, and risky or bad behavior puts the United States and Britain at the bottom of a list of 21 economically developed nations.

The UNICEF report sought to assess children's well-being in developed countries by measuring a number of factors, including health, education, poverty, family relationships, and bad or risky behavior. Children were also asked to say whether they were happy.

In the overall table of children's well-being, the Netherlands comes out on top, followed closely by the Scandinavian countries, which also have highly developed welfare systems. At the bottom are the United States at No. 20, and Britain at No. 21."

February 14, 2007

More Women's history

Where was I? Oh, right, the "cult of domesticity."

That construct, as I noted, belied a complicated reality. Middle class and upper class women participating in an ideal, all the while using lower class women to actually do the domestic work. That isn't the end of the 19th century disconnect. Starting in 1860, every successive census shows more women working in wage labor jobs. By 1920, women make up somewhere around 20% of the work force. Long before Rosie the Riveter, women were entering the work force, and increasingly married and older. Women also are increasingly asserting their own autonomy: seeking divorce in higher numbers, choosing to never marry, and even seeking abortions--yep, well before Roe. One study has abortions in the 1920s at a level of one for every 4 or 5 live births. Let's just call that significant.

Mixed in with this is also a facade of sexuality. Those women who embodied the "cult of domesticity" were also expected to embody a certain sexual purity. The "purity movement," as we call it, expected those women to be on a pedestal where sexuality was only for procreation and was not embraced. Literally. Those women were not supposed to enjoy sex and might not be strong enough for it. Women were divided, in essence, between the sexual (whore) and the asexual (Madonna).

How does this relate to the 1950s and Tony's Cindarella Valentine? I think I can connect them. That "cult of domesticity" with all its baggage, I would argue, persisted as our idea of womanhood. The 1950s, in fact, far from being a normative period, was an aberation. All the trends I discussed above were headed the other direction until the 1950s. Those aberations, captured in 1950s television (and not even accurately), solidified in American minds as the model of womanhood. Nevermind that suburban womanhood also included the invention and explosion of tranquilizer use. That ideal of Ozzie and Harriet stuck in American minds.

Flash forward 50 years, and you have a world where women have access and rights unheard of in the past. Women make more than their predecessors; participate in jobs their mothers would not; and are running for President. But all is not clear. All we have to do is witness the coverage of the late Anna Nicole Smith to see the difficulties we have with femininity and sexuality.

Those Valentine cards, and the increasing sexualization of Cindarella speak to that struggle. Do we want women on the pedestal or in charge? Are they sexual or non-sexual beings? In a world where women might rule the free world (assuming Bush leaves anything to rule) or cure cancer, how do we relegate women only to Republican Motherhood?

February 13, 2007

Even someone who worked for him thinks Bush is delusional

David Kuo catches this:
"In an exhaustive C-SPAN interview airing this morning (and available online), President Bush discusses Iraq, his presidency, and his legacy. This exchange made me wonder if it was April Fool's Day yet:

Q But I'm talking about ideology. You have Reagan Republicans today. Are there -- will there be Bush Republicans, and can you define the ideology of a Bush Republican?
THE PRESIDENT: Compassionate conservatism, the use of government to help people in the private sector advance compassionate goals, like the faith-based initiative....

If President Bush can't see that abject failure, if he truly believes that this is his legacy, one is left to seriously consider his grip on reality. I have no doubt that he means what he says in the interview and that he really, truly believe this will be one of his great legacies. That is what makes his quote frightening. That he continues to believe this against despite the bottomless gulf between what he believes and reality is really frightening."

A few items from the news

Kevin Drum has a little excerpt from the Libby trial. Here is an exchange between Bob Woodward and Richard Armitage:
Armitage: We're clean as a [expletive] whistle. And George [Tenet] personally got it out of the Cincinnati speech of the president.

....Woodward: It was taken out?

Armitage: Taken out. George said you can't do this.

Woodward: How come it wasn't taken out of the State of the Union then?

Armitage: Because I think it was overruled by the types down at the White House. Condi doesn't like being in the hot spot. But she--

Admittedly one man's take on it, but someone who was on the inside. This is how this White House works. The NSA director at the time, Condi Rice (aren't we glad she is now Sec State) was afraid of standing up to Cheney. How does Cheney sleep at night?


And this, on the White House firing US Attorneys and claiming it was based on performance:
McClatchy Washington Bureau | 02/12/2007 | 5 ousted U.S. attorneys received positive job evaluations: "WASHINGTON - Although the Bush administration has said that six U.S. attorneys were fired recently in part because of 'performance related' issues, at least five of them received positive job evaluations before they were ordered to step down."

But we believe the White House, right? Because they have proven so trustworthy in the past. Sigh.


One of those ousted attorneys appears to be very competent. Too bad she worked under an amoral administration.
TPMmuckraker February 13, 2007 01:44 PM: "At 12:15 PM Pacific time, U.S. Attorney Carol Lam will hold a press conference on a 'criminal matter,' according to a press release.

She's expected to announce the indictment of Kyle 'Dusty' Foggo, the former #3 at the CIA, and Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor accused of bribing Duke Cunningham and the prime benefactor of the secret CIA contracts that have landed his best buddy Foggo in trouble.

But there's some added drama in that Lam will holding the presser, since she is one of the seven federal prosecutors forced out by the administration in December. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that she'd ordered her staff to have Wilkes and Foggo indicted before her last day -- this Thursday."


Some positive news that we might see a reversal of one of the Bush admin's attempts to undermine our constitution.
TPMmuckraker February 12, 2007 06:07 PM: "Word comes down that tomorrow Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are going to introduce a bill to radically reform the constitutionally-challenged system of terrorism detainee prosecutions. Known as the Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act, the bill, according to Dodd, would reintroduce habeas corpus protections to Guantanamo Bay detainees; create an independent court review to military commission rulings; and bar information obtained through 'coercion' (read: torture); among other provisions."
No idea yet if the bill will pass, but I must say after six years of Republicans defending torture and watching our Constitution go through the shredder, it is nice to see something like this.

Yeah, and Democrats are anti-military?

I really don't understand how Bush can do this and still be considered pro-military:
The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.

Bush is using the cuts, critics say, to help fulfill his pledge to balance the budget by 2012.

After an increase sought for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly — by more than 10 percent in many years — White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.

The proposed cuts are unrealistic in light of recent VA budget trends — its medical care budget has risen every year for two decades and 83 percent in the six years since Bush took office — sowing suspicion that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better."

February 12, 2007

Ah, a request!

Tony has a post on the insidious sexualization of even Disney Valentine cards and we enjoyed a nice conversation about that and Walmart. As he noted, it seems bizarre that even Disney characters aimed at kids are now sexualized. Tony requested that I clarify my argument that our contemporary views of gender are a reflection of our past views of Patriarchy and feminism, and that the 19th century Victorian womanhood AND 1950s domesticity inform much of our current confusion.

Ah, a short course in women's history. First the 19th century. As most students of history note, the 19th is a century of transition for women. It is here we see the development of the "cult of domesticity" or "separate spheres," where women are restricted to private spheres and certain, mostly moral, public spheres. Women are in charge of producing the next generation of Republican (not the party) men to run the country, and are really allowed public expression in only approved forums: moral reform in general; abolition, temperence, anti-prostitution, etc. Men are supposed to participate in business and politics.

How does this relate to our current debate? Well, for one thing, the historical construct is horribly misleading. When people talk about the way "things used to be" with family and gender, they just assume that women raised and nurtured the children and took care of the household. Kind of, and with major qualifications.

First, we have to remember that notions of child development were very different, so parents spent much less time on that. Second, middle class women represented much of this "cult of domesticity" but did so by avoiding domestic labor. In other words, they had the luxury of not working, and the time for moral reform because they employed domestic servants who often tended to the children and did the grunt work of the household.

So, we see clearly that the "cult of domesticity" involved and relied on working class women to do the actual work.

Ok, more later. We still have to talk about notions of sexuality in this 19th century context.

February 11, 2007

This is not good public policy

I have no problem with abstinence education, but teaching without the alternatives is frankly irresponsible. Yet, what do we have from Bush's proposed budget?:
"The new budget provides no increased funding for Title X funding, which provides poor women with family planning services, or comprehensive sex education. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said of Bush's proposal, "He flat-lines family-planning services… yet proposes another huge increase, $28 million more, for unproven 'abstinence-only' programs that censor teachers from giving teens accurate information on topics like birth control," McClatchy Newspapers reports."

Cheney and Iran?

This story is interesting and suggests that Bush is not the ninny that I fear he actually is. But even if he is smart, will he rein Cheney in?
United Press International - News. Analysis. Insight. - International Intelligence: "At a farewell reception at Blair House for the retiring chief of protocol, Don Ensenat, who was President Bush's Yale roommate, the president shook hands with Washington Life Magazine's Soroush Shehabi. 'I'm the grandson of one of the late Shah's ministers,' said Soroush, 'and I simply want to say one U.S. bomb on Iran and the regime we all despise will remain in power for another 20 or 30 years and 70 million Iranians will become radicalized.'

'I know,' President Bush answered.

'But does Vice President Cheney know?' asked Soroush.

President Bush chuckled and walked away."

I keep wondering what the end game is here. Do these people think that subduing Iran will be any easier than subduing Iraq? This is not some sanction-weakened regime here. This is a trained and supplied force. I wish someone could give me a good reason to even consider more military action instead of less. It is one thing to ignore history, but to ignore even current military action is really irrational.

February 10, 2007

What he meant to say was

That he respects the hard work that immigrants do in our country. Or not. The real truth comes out as Rove puts foot in mouth:
"Karl Rove was quoted telling a group of conservatives he supports President Bush’s immigration policies because “I don’t want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas.” ABC reports: “The White House does not deny that Rove made the remark but claims it has been taken out of context. … Rove was not insulting those people in those jobs, the White House explained, he was, according to Perino, saying that every parent wants their child to have a high-skilled, high-wage job.”

February 9, 2007

Oh this helps their credibility

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: "Christian Coalition of America condemns the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat from San Francisco, for trying to get luxurious travel paid for by the American taxpayers. Is a first class seat on a commercial jet no longer good enough for Speaker Pelosi? Nancy Pelosi is demanding that the Air Force provide her with a large jet on demand - 'Pelosi One' - so she can transport her political cronies, favorite Members of Congress, congressional staffers, friends and relatives back and forth to her district in San Francisco every week."

Of course, Speaker Hastert also flew on an Air Force jet, but that was different. Why? Because he is a Republican and the Christian Coalition thinks that all Christians should be too. Hastert's jet was smaller because he didn't need a bigger one to fly direct to his home district. As everyone knows, Pelosi is on the other side of the country.

This is a great example of a story about nothing. When you consider all the real stories that the Christian Coalition ignored--torture, nsa wiretapping, torture--then their true agenda becomes quite clear. I had hopes that after all of the true scandals of the last 6 years, that we would be past this. But we aren't. And as long as these people are the voice of Christian conservatism, we won't be.

February 8, 2007

I STILL hate our media

Thankfully, I missed this story, but it appears that the Moonie Times is funding more lies against Democrats. That is amazing at two levels--one that all the religious conservatives in this country rely on the media conglomeration of one the world's wackiest cultists--and two that with the clear bias of the Times and Rupert Murdoch's admission that he slanted the news to promote the war, we have a clear bias, but it isn't liberal.

Anyway, all of that just angers me, especially since I turned on Fox the other day (mistake, believe me, and I am thinking of upgrading that TV so I can block it) only to find Cavuto blathering on about how the war in Iraq was going just fine. Ok.

Yesterday's media blitz about the astronaut was just more of the other media problem--that it can't cover anything that isn't sensational. Why, by the way, does the "regular media" look down on the National Enquirer, when they cover the same type of stories?

Jon Stewart was brilliant last night when he labeled this story something like "successful woman in tragic local story." Exactly. This story, while interesting at a voyeur level, has nothing to do with how we live our lives. If the press could only focus half as much on Bush's executive order politicizing government agencies--you know, something that we have to live with--then we might have a media.

This morning, I turned on CNN to see a blurb about the astronaut story. Their "B-roll" (as I believe they call it) revealed just how ridiculous this all was. In the middle of showing images we have seen nonstop since yesterday of the woman covering her head in a windbreaker and the tortured mug shot--was a picture of the Miss Universe giving her crying mea culpa. That's right. Idiots.

We benefitted from this when the Foley story broke because the media loves the sex stories, and that one actually related to the power structure of congress. But most of these sex stories are ridiculous and trivial and sad.

February 6, 2007

The role of the state

This shocked many. Texas governer Rick Perry recently ordered HPV vaccinations for girls entering the sixth grade.

And man, has it hit the fan. And with good reason, I believe. Yet, the response leaves me frustrated. Let me explain.

First, even though I am a liberal and you conservatives have been taught by Rush and Sean Hannity that I want the government to determine your entire life, I am not a fan of government interference into personal affairs. I want the government to protect workers and consumers in a reasonable manner.

This action by Perry, I understand, strikes many conservatives as a breach of the conservative code. And I agree. The state forcing young girls to take shots smacks of authoritarianism. And one conservative in the link makes a great point, that we need to study this a little more before moving on it.

(The other conservative objection borders on the ludicrous. No, scratch that. It is ludicrious. They argue that this will encourage sexual promiscuity, as if that is a reason to not protect girls from CANCER!. For some, as I noted in the post: Streak's Blog: God's country prefers what?, they don't really care that poor sexual education leads to stds and perhaps cancer--they just don't want them having sex. Sigh.)

But back to the debate. I can understand the opposition to Perry, for sure, but guess I would like some clarification on when Conservatives actually act. Let's consider just a few examples of an invasive state and the conservative christian response.

  • Hmm. Torture, anyone? The Vice President pushes for the right to torture, the President supports him and uses signing statements to say he can whenever he sees fit. The state, in essence, asserts its right to not only end a life, but to inflict as much pain as possible--all of this without due process or even the assurance that the tortured are dangerous at all.

    Conservative Christian response? Shrug. After all, it is just Muslim terrorists. Same response to NSA wiretapping, or the President's shredding the constitutiont to say he can declare American citizens as "enemy combatants." Conservative Christians think that it won't happen to them, so who cares?

  • Capital punishment, or what some conservatives have labeled the ultimate government intrusion. DNA evidence shows that we have nearly executed over 180 innocent people, and those are only in those cases where there is DNA to test.

    Christian response? Eh. Keep the executions coming. Again, it doesn't happen to them.

  • Abortion and birth control. State tells a rape victim that it must bring that child to term. Also tells her that the pharmacist or nurse at the hospital doesn't have to give her the "morning after pill" if their religious beliefs are against it.

    Christian conservative response. More state intervention in women's reproductive rights. In fact, people like Rod Parsely are pushing for criminalizing adultery, and we know they would like to lock up people practicing gay sex. State can intervene in those very intimate details and the Christian community will cheer.

  • And back to young kids and sex. Religious right activists and our lame President foist "Abstinence only" programs on school districts. Certainly an imposition, but no conservative complaints. Worse, and in sharp distinction with the HPV vaccine, Abstinence Only endangers kids, because the numbers that actually follow their pledge are roughly the same as the rest of the kid population--meaning that most of them fall of the pledge wagon and have sex. But when they do, they don't have the sex ed to protect themselves, and so are MORE exposed to STDS, unwanted pregnancies, etc.

    Conservative Christian response? Impose away, and we will even ignore that the program doesn't work.

    So you can see my confusion. I would love to get behind some principle of opposing state intervention into personal decisions, but can't see consistency here. It is very hard for me to see a principle other than "I only care if it effects me," which, seems the opposite of the Christian response.

    Damn. Should have gotten up and written that last night when it kept me awake.
  • February 5, 2007

    Media bias--and a confession

    Rupert Murdoch admist bias:
    "Asked if his News Corp. managed to shape the agenda on the war in Iraq, Murdoch said: "No, I don't think so. We tried." Asked by Rose for further comment, he said: "We basically supported the Bush policy in the Middle East…but we have been very critical of his execution.""

    I will be interested in how this plays. "Fair and Balanced" my ass.

    February 4, 2007

    Speaking of Evangelicals

    I think I caught part of the Alexandra Pelosi documentary on evangelicals. I didn't watch the entire thing and frankly, am not that interested. After reading this review, I am less interested.

    But what did interest me, and will interest Tony, was the discussion Ted Haggard had about his little training camp. He said that it was a training camp just as (paraphrase from memory) "Pepsi has a camp to help sell Pepsi over coke, or liberal universities pushing liberalism over evangelical christianity."


    Christianity is just like Pepsi. Or Coke. Or Ford.

    What does this tell you?

    The State | 02/04/2007 | Romney targeting McCain: "McCain believes the president’s interrogation of terrorist detainees was a violation of the Geneva Accords.

    “I disagree with him,” Romney said."

    Tells me that Romney thinks he has to claim the evangelical base. And to do that? He has to support torture. Think of that. To appeal to the evangelical base--the Christian right--you have to endorse beating people, waterboarding people, and electro-shocking individuals into submission.


    Super Bowl--live blogging--sort of

    I really dislike Devin Hester and I have no reason to. Perhaps my dislike of the Bears going back to the SuperBowl shuffle.

    I seriously wonder if my issue is not related to the uniforms. I have no real belief that the Bears are any more arrogant or annoying than any other NFL team. But for whatever reason, they appear that way in my eyes. And I was kind of cheering for them last year.

    That said, the opening kick return was a great one. The rain certainly doesn't help Indy.

    Oh, and don't expect me to cheer for Cedric Benson or Thomas Jones. One is a former UT player and I have never liked Thomas Jones.


    I really hate how networks turn football into "synergy" and use their air time to push some stupid show. I might like the show, but inserting this kind of crap into a football game is horrible. I especially hate how they call some stupid actor into the booth to talk about their show and then the game. True fans loathe it.


    And now I will contradict myself. Well, kind of. I would be glad to not have a halftime show of any kind. But if we are going to have one, Prince is not too shabby. Better than every one in recent memory. That guy can play, and I am pretty sure that first guitar was a Tele. And you have to love someone playing a version of "All along the Watchtower," which might be the greatest rock song every written. Tell me this doesn't kick ass compared to the Stones or whatever that Janet Jackson halftime was.


    Oh right, the game. Indy has withstood the intensity. Have to see what happens from here on out, but Indy shows the ability to move the ball.


    Damn, that is some rain. Not exactly what you expect from the Superbowl.


    Interesting game. The weather has certainly had an impact. Now we will see what Rex can do in this situation.


    Slick field, and a great spin move will create problems.


    Bears have gotten some good calls. That penalty on the field goal should have been a personal foul. If that isn't a personal foul then what would qualify? Turn around and then the refs find their flag on the late hit. Probably a legit call there, but where was that call on the field goal?


    Game is over. And it was a decent game. Indy sure ran the ball better than anyone expected. Certainly better than I expected. Defense played well enough to win, and Rex Grossman showed some of the signs of the qb that we thought.

    I am glad for Peyton, in that I always feel for those guys who have to carry that great expectation. I am also glad for Dungy, though his post-game speech about doing it the "Christian way" kind of sucked. As SOF pointed out, if that means treating people with respect and dignity, and putting winning, losing, and the business of football in perspective, then I don't mind too much. But none of that requires the "Christian way."

    Super Bowl Sunday--updated

    And I will watch the game. Of course. Though there were years there when I avoided the game because of the spectacle and terrible games. Last couple have been watchable--certainly since Green Bay defeated New England. I do tire of the hype, however, and the constant blather. I will avoid as much of the pre-game crap as I can--including the National Anthem. Sorry.

    I do look forward to the game. I have work to do this afternoon, and then will sit down to some home-made chili and hope that the game is not a blow-out either way. With all due deference to my good friend Ubub (a lifelong Chicago fan), I will be cheering for Indy. I have been a fan of Mannings for sometime and also Tony Dungy, who I think was not respected enough for the job he did in Tampa.

    That and I am still mad about the Super Bowl shuffle. Making us watch McMahon dance was a crime. Why isn't he in Gitmo? Oh, and Ubub also defeated me in our Fantasy Championship game and I hold grudges.

    Predictions? Leave them in the comments. I am hopeful that Peyton will score some points early and make this a good game. I am fearful that the swarming Bears defense will score quickly. Let's all hope it is a competitive game and that the commercials are not too annoying.

    updatedHall of Fame voting is done and proof that the Hall is full of it. Michael Irvin in, but still no Art Monk? Are you kidding me? That is a damn shame.


    We had a visitor this week who appears to have trolled the blogs looking for people who disagreed with his stance on Carter and Clinton as Southern Baptists. I followed him home and said a few things myself. Feeling feisty lately, I guess. But to be honest, I don't want to be lectured on discernment or morals from someone defending the Southern Baptist Convention. The very same one, as we posted earlier, who gave President Bush an award on Religious Freedom. The same one, who as David Kuo documented, oversaw a sham of a "faith based" initiative that included grant reviewers dismissing anything not Christian. And let's not even talk about Iraq.

    Yeah, the Southern Baptists (no offense, Tony, you know we respect you here) have really shown themselves well over the last 8-10 years. So, visitor, I am rather happy that you don't want to "fellowship" with me. I would rather break bread with either former President in a heartbeat.


    Speaking of our idiot president. I really hate saying it that way, but it is so accurate. The same guy who has gotten us into two wars he didn't want to fight correctly, is now using the same PR blitz to prep the country to go after Iran. Oh, I doubt it will be the same method, mostly because the Congress won't rubber stamp a "bomb at will" legislation this time. I suspect a Gulf of Tonkin-esque scene, where Bush comes on the news breathlessly, and in tortured English (bad pun, eh?) informs us that while American sailors were trying to rescue a raft of puppies, evil Iranians shot at them. Or some such bullshit.

    One of the Administration's oft used claims is that Iran is fomenting much of the violence in Iraq. As Josh Marshall suggests, that is not clear at all. In fact, much of the violence that our troops face is from Sunni insurgents, not Shia. That means that it isn't Iran, but more likely Saudis who are endangering our troops.

    Let's just add that to a list of "inconvenient facts" that our administration has and will continue to ignore.


    More on the immoral pit that has become the GOP. Some are speaking out against the President's claim, and just as he did to Democrats who disagree, he is attacking their loyalty. Joe Scarborough is tired of it, though he seems to think it is only bad when the President questions conservatives on their bona fides. No such outrage when liberals have their loyalty to country or troops questioned? And I emailed Joe just that question.

    But Conservatives are turning on this faux president. Even Dick Armey, who I disliked when in office, now admits that the Iraq resolution was a mistake.


    Back to football. The NFL may have overstepped PR-wise by telling a giantmegasixflags church to not charge admission (it was for the food) so that the people could watch the game in the same place they worship. I think it is all rather funny, but can concede that this will look bad for the NFL. Fred, however, has great fun with Family Research Council's Tony Perkins (a braying ass, btw) and his assertion that any alcohol usage is the same as substance abuse:
    "Perkins and the FRC are among those supposedly 'conservative' Christians who insist that they, unlike the evil liberals, read the Bible literally. This is an example of how they don't mean 'literally' literally.

    Thus wherever the word 'wine' appears in the Bible -- which is a lot -- these folks read it as 'grape juice.' But then they get to a passage like Ephesians 5:18, 'Do not get drunk on wine,' and suddenly decide that the same exact word they have insisted should not be read as 'wine' now means 'wine' after all.

    There are a lot of words that might be used to describe this kind of culture-conformed eisegesis, but 'literal' is not one of them. Neither is 'conservative.'"

    I must say I enjoy all the discussions about literalism.


    Finally some humor, dark as it is. Bob Geiger has a good list of editorial cartoons. My favorites are the ones with Cheney claiming privacy about his gay daughter while his party claims the right to pursue other gay people.

    Have a good day.

    February 2, 2007

    Now this was funny

    We have been on a music kick lately. I mean music concert dvd kick. Bought the Bruce Springsteen "Live in Barcelona," which we can't stop watching, Neil Young's "Heart of Gold," Steve Earle's "Transcendental Blues," and have rented a few along the way. Last night we watched U2's Rattle and Hum, which was far better than I remembered. Some really amazing versions of "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Where the Streets have no Name," and "With or Without You."

    The funny part? I never noticed this before, but the interviewer who asks the band what they have been up to since making "Joshua Tree" sounds just like me. I never noticed that before. Heard it on the cd last week and was confirmed watching the dvd. SOF agrees. Could be my vocal double. Now only if that was someone singing....


    We both appreciate good guitar playing, of course, though when I play, we are reminded how much better they sound. But watching some of these groups we have been reminded how much we like good drummers. We are reminded also how much they are like the offensive lineman of music. You don't want to notice them, because that usually means that they are messing up, or, in the case of the rock bands of my youth, off on some stupid drum solo (how lame was that?). But, just like the offensive lineman, an attentive fan understands how good they are.

    Watching Bruce, we both loved Max Weinberg's drum work. Larry Mullen is a great drummer for U2 as well. In person, we have witnessed some amazing drum work. Glenn Kotche, for Wilco, is always worth watching. I don't think I have ever seen a drummer sweat as much as he does (with the possible exception of Philip Peeples of the Old 97's).

    I think Hector Munoz (Alejandro Escovedo) is a spectacular drummer. Always making the band better and never calling attention to himself. Last time we saw him, Alejandro was pushing Hector's side band, called "Jalapenos." Except Alejandro kept calling it "THE Jalapenos" and watching his good friend Hector shake his head behind him was one of my favorite moments of the show.


    Say what now?

    Bible Belt Blogger: Southern Baptists honor President Bush: "NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Southern Baptists, who have long been among the most vocal Christian groups supporting the Bush administration, have given the president an award for advocating religious freedom.

    Richard Land, who heads the lobbying arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, presented the 2006 John Leland Religious Liberty Award to Bush in the Oval Office on Monday for 'courageously defending the right of all people to exercise freely their religious faith,' according to the framed citation.

    'I can't think of another president in my lifetime who has done more to promote religious liberty specifically as a fundamental human right around the world than Bush,' Land told the Baptist Press."