September 2006 Archives

In this post, Andrew Sullivan writes off the entire Bush administration:

They have bungled the war, trashed the constitution, wrecked the fiscal future, deeply damaged America's reputation, and profoundly corrupted conservatism as a coherent political philosophy. I don't care what we have to do to get rid of them, but we must by every peaceful, lawful means imaginable. They have gone too far. Vote them out.

This New York Times article describes yesterday’s passage, by a 65-to-34 vote, of Bush’s pro-torture bill, the Military Commissions Act. This legislative travesty should appall everyone with the slightest concern for human rights and the rule of law:

The measure would broaden the definition of enemy combatants beyond the traditional definition used in wartime, to include noncitizens living legally in the United States as well as those in foreign countries and anyone determined to be an enemy combatant under criteria defined by the president or secretary of defense.

It would strip at Guantánamo detainees of the habeas right to challenge their detention in court, relying instead on procedures known as combatant status review trials. Those trials have looser rules of evidence than the courts.

It would allow of evidence seized in this country or abroad without a search warrant to be admitted in trials.

Peter Rothberg writes at The Nation that this “compromise” bill goes against the nearly eight centuries of our legal history, in gutting the principle of habeas corpus that has endured since the Magna Carta in 1215. Glenn Greenwald writes about “Bush’s vast new powers of detention and interrogation” and notes that, despite a lack of Democratic unity against the Bush torture bill,

…it is fair to say, given how lopsided this vote was (both in the House and the Senate), that the Republicans are the party of torture, indefinite and unreviewable detention powers, and limitless presidential power, even over U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. By contrast, Democrats have opposed these tyrannical, un-American and truly dangerous measures. [emphasis added]

Bruce Schneier explains the value of human rights laws by discussing the case of an innocent Canadian man who was detained in the US and sent to Syria for torture:

Judicial oversight is a security mechanism. It prevents the police from incarcerating the wrong person. The point of habeas corpus is that the police need to present their evidence in front of a neutral third party, and not indefinitely detain or torture people just because they believe they're guilty. We are all less secure if we water down these security measures.

The Liberal Avenger has commentary that, for its succinctness, cannot be bested:

Neo-Fascism 65 - America 34 The Bush Torture Bill has passed - the Constitution has lost.

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

America has changed.

If you have any doubts that we are indeed a changed nation, read “Torture’s Long Shadow” by Vladimir Bukovsky:

If America's leaders want to hunt terrorists while transforming dictatorships into democracies, they must recognize that torture, which includes CID [cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment], has historically been an instrument of oppression -- not an instrument of investigation or of intelligence gathering. No country needs to invent how to "legalize" torture; the problem is rather how to stop it from happening. If it isn't stopped, torture will destroy your nation's important strategy to develop democracy in the Middle East.

Bukovsky spent 12 years in Soviet detention, so he knows what he’s talking about. We ignore voices like his at our own peril. See the analyses from Amnesty International and the ACLU for more details.

Bush failed, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, State of Denial:

The CIA'S top counterterrorism officials felt they could have killed Osama Bin Laden in the months before 9/11, but got the "brushoff" when they went to the Bush White House seeking the money and authorization.

CIA Director George Tenet and his counterterrorism head Cofer Black sought an urgent meeting with then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on July 10, 2001, writes Bob Woodward in his new book "State of Denial."

They went over top-secret intelligence pointing to an impending attack and "sounded the loudest warning" to the White House of a likely attack on the U.S. by Bin Laden.

Woodward writes that Rice was polite, but, "They felt the brushoff."

Where’s the TV movie to dramatize these actual events? The SCLM is falling down on the job again…

(Thanks to ThinkProgress for the tip.)

update (2:27pm):
The New York Times also has a long article about Woodward’s book.

Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda.

On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously.

framing vs. spin

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The Rockridge Institute’s article “Framing versus Spin” explains some of differences between liberal linguist George Lakoff and conservative spinmeister Frank Luntz:

Where we shed light on the information masked by frames —presenting as many considerations to the public as we can, Luntz uses frames to mask information in the service of conservative ends. We use frame analysis to open the debate. Luntz uses frames to constrain and manipulate public discourse for the sake of Republican victories.


Luntz spins and creates slogans to sell right-wing policy to the American public and to keep hidden agendas hidden. We examine and critique political framing to expose implicit values and agendas.

Using language and abusing it are two very different things, and it doesn’t take much effort to distinguish one from the other.

This series of Christian Right Propaganda Posters is frightening; only time will tell how narrow the distance is between parody and Karl Rove’s impending “October Surprise.” My favorite is perhaps “Books Are Weapons in the War of Ideas” and its commentary, which contains these words from FDR:

"Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man's eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons."

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip.)

Keith Olbermann’s encounter with domestic terrorism hasn’t gotten much media attention, but it’s still a serious matter. He received an envelope, purportedly containing anthrax, at his home; a note stated that it was retaliation for his anti-Bush commentary. Editor & Publisher notes that Rupert Murdoch’s rag the NY Post mocked Olbermann for reporting the incident to police and taking sensible precautions.

Bill O’Reilly lies about being a target of al Qaeda, and the media are silent; Olbermann is actually targeted by terrorists, and the media are again silent. How’s that for bias?

(Thanks to David Neiwert for the tip.)

Sullivan on torture

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Andrew Sullivan's latest column for the Sunday Times lambastes the pro-torture Republicans, using the words of George Orwell, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Menachem Begin.


war on science?

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The Republican War on Science author Chris Mooney is plugging a published symposium in which he took part:

… it was exhilarating to have such smart people pen such thoughtful reactions to my book. (It was also hard work to respond to them, which I did at length.) Now, it's a huge honor to have the whole thing preserved in book form.

The entire book can be downloaded (786KB PDF) from Parlor Press. It looks to be a useful companion to the updated paperback edition of Mooney’s book.

Tony Blankley's article for the Moonie Times, "The pope and Kissinger warn the world," is an interesting piece of writing. Assigning a religious figurehead (with a shady past) and a renowned war criminal (with an even shadier one) on a pedestal of "towering intellects" is a bold rhetorical move, but Blankley doesn't have the chops to pull it off. How, exactly, did morality became murky during the Pope's stint in the Hitler Youth, or during Kissinger's indiscriminate bombing of Southeast Asia? If the "Judeo-Christian God" of which Blankley speaks is truly "opposed to violence," would he support Nazis and napalm?

It's nice to see conservatives such as Blankley talking about geopolitics without their GOP-colored glasses, but the election-season fear-mongering is starting to wear a little thin. (I'm still waiting for Newt's "World War III" and Fox's "The End of the World.") They can posture as modern-day Churchills and Roosevelts all they want, but their specious analogies between Democrats and Neville Chamberlain still ring false.

There are no excuses for pre-emptive wars, either the quagmire they created in Iraq or the one toward which they are racing in Iran. There is no excuse for torture. There is no excuse for sullying the good name and reputation of our nation.

How's that for moral clarity?

NIE on "leftists"

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Glenn Greenwald writes at Salon about this passage in the April NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] which was partially declassified by Bush in a pathetic attempt at ass-covering:

"Anti-U.S. and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint. […] We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train and obtain logistical and financial support."

Greenwald rebuts this as follows:

Prior to 9/11, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil was in Oklahoma City, where Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in pursuit of his right-wing, anti-federal-government agenda. But there is nothing in the NIE findings about right-wing or anti-government groups. Instead, there is a rather stark warning about the danger of "leftist" groups using the Internet to engage in terrorist attacks against the United States. Is there any basis at all for that warning?

There have been scattered reports over the last several years that the Bush administration's anti-terrorism programs have targeted domestic political groups solely because such groups espouse views contrary to the administration's. […] Are "leftist" groups one of the principal targets on the anti-terrorism agenda of the Bush administration, and if so, aren't the implications rather disturbing?

Regarding the declassification process, Greenwald slams Bush on that as well:

If large and important parts of the NIE can be safely declassified and known by the American public, why were they classified in the first place? And why have they been kept classified since April? Obviously, the NIE is being declassified now only because the White House needs a political defense to the New York Times article reporting that the NIE concluded that the war in Iraq worsened the terrorist threat. But it is really amazing just how transparent the White House is being about the fact that it routinely conceals information as "classified" not because it is secret but because it is politically damaging. What other explanation even theoretically accounts for this behavior? [emphasis added]

Bush claimed in yesterday’s press conference that, “Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes.,” but it’s more accurate to say that someone—namely Bush—has taken it upon himself to conceal unclassified information for political purposes.

That sounds quite different without the self-serving spin, doesn’t it?

one god too many

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James Foley writes “Enough with the ‘One God’ Stuff” at AlterNet to complain about the rotten fruit of monotheism:

Present-day America's most popular form of lunatic monotheism -- fundamentalist, evangelical Protestantism (and especially end-of-days Christianity with tens of millions of believers convinced that Jesus is returning soon) -- is deeply obsessed with the holy land. Crazed Christian fundamentalists love it when crazed Jewish warriors battle it out with crazed Islamic warriors. The Pat Robertsons regard the wars as win-win and ordinary believers see them as signs that the saved will soon be lifted to heaven. Unfortunately, these fundamentalist Christians now have enormous influence over the foreign policy of the most powerful nation in the world.

The “sky god” phrase from Gore Vidal to which Foley refers is from “Monotheism and Its Discontents,” which was published in the 13 July 1992 issue of The Nation. It can be found online here or on pp. 1048-54 of his collection United States: Essays 1952-1992.

Robert Kennedy’s latest piece for Rolling Stone, “Will the Next Election Be Hacked?” is now online.

The United States is one of only a handful of major democracies that allow private, partisan companies to secretly count and tabulate votes using their own proprietary software. Today, eighty percent of all the ballots in America are tallied by four companies - Diebold, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic. In 2004, 36 million votes were cast on their touch-screen systems, and millions more were recorded by optical-scan machines owned by the same companies that use electronic technology to tabulate paper ballots. The simple fact is, these machines not only break down with regularity, they are easily compromised - by people inside, and outside, the companies.


You do not have to believe in conspiracy theories to fear for the integrity of our electoral system: The right to vote is simply too important - and too hard won - to be surrendered without a fight. It is time for Americans to reclaim our democracy from private interests.

I turned on Faux News yesterday afternoon specifically to watch Chris Wallace interview Bill Clinton, and it was worth every second. Wallace got his head handed to him for parroting the RNC talking points on bin Laden. Crooks and Liars has the video and the transcript; both are highly recommended.

MediaMatters has some additional information on Wallace’s false assertion during the interview that he has also asked tough anti-terrorism questions of Republicans. ThinkProgress has their own take as well. Liberal Avenger responds to the Right’s predictable reaction that Clinton was too angry:

Of course, you won’t find much discussion in the right-wing media on the merits of what Clinton said. Instead, Red State has an analysis of Clinton’s body language, as if the most important aspect of fight against terrorism is the posture of our leaders… […] …Clinton was forced to answer a multiple-part question that contained several false assertions. When he tried to answer the charges, he was repeatedly interrupted by Wallace. And yet, Clinton maintained his composure. He did not raise his voice, he did not become red-faced, and he certainly did not assault Chris Wallace.

So far, the right looks like they are content to critique Clinton’s body language, instead of the substance of his remarks. Most conservative analysts will be happy to do that until they have a chance to shove this interview down the memory hole, along with all of the attacks they leveled at Clinton for trying too hard to kill bin Laden.

crackpot Christians

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Walter Uhler has posted the third piece in his series on “Crackpot Christians” at HuffPo: “Bush and the Third Great Awakening.” (I commented on his previous pieces here.) Uhler quotes extensively from Reinhold Niebuhr, lamenting that, “America now appears incapable of producing such formidable Christian heavyweights.”

Instead, we get "theologians" like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and D. James Kennedy, who appear incapable of judging the Bush administration's illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq as Niebuhr surely would - in strict accordance with Christian ethics.

CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has released a report on Congressional corruption entitled "Beyond DeLay: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress.” A summary is here and the full report is here (13MB PDF). It’s depressing reading, but the constituents of these 17 Republicans and 3 Democrats need to know this information before voting. CREW notes that, since last year’s report:

DeLay has resigned and two of the 13 members in last year’s report have pleaded guilty to corruption crimes: Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) is now serving an eight-year jail term for bribery and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) will likely serve at least two years for conspiracy and making false statements.


In addition, several other members, including Reps. William Jefferson, Alan Mollohan and Jerry Lewis, and Sens. Conrad Burns and Bill Frist are also under federal investigation.

(Thanks to John at AmericaBlog for the tip.)

Jim Wallis is debating Ralph Reed at BeliefNet. (Wallis opens here Reed responds here, and then Wallis replies here.)

Wallis decries the Right’s attempt to “define values as meaning only two things – opposition to same-sex marriage and criminalizing abortion,” noting that:

it is actually arrogant to assume that only two issues involve moral values. And it is hubris to say that only those people with a conservative political position on those two issues are voting based on values.

Reed claims that liberal’s observation that conservatives’ focus on abortion and sexual orientation is a straw man, but he undercuts that position by calling those same two issues “the central moral questions of our time.” Wallis replies that:

neither party has a genuinely pro-family agenda. The Democrats, as you point out, make a big mistake of not speaking the language of family values while Republicans have only an anti-gay marriage agenda, not a comprehensive family friendly platform that especially takes the needs of America’s working families into account. And abortion is a moral issues that Democrats should address (and are beginning to), but so is a consistent ethic of life (as the Catholics say) which Republicans violate by focusing only on abortion and ignoring so many of the other greatest threats to human life and dignity.

Andrew Sullivan comments: “I have no idea why Reed has been chosen to represent the religious right. He's a political operative, tainted by financial scandal.” Personally, I think that “a political operative, tainted by financial scandal” is the ideal representative for them; without the confluence of politics and money, there would hardly be a religious Right in the first place.

RJ Eskow writes a stinging rebuke to Sam Harris for his alleged refusal to:

acknowledge the research of Martin E. Marty and the Fundamentalism Project, whose complex multidisciplinary study found several intriguing patterns in the distribution of fundamentalism throughout all faiths.

Among the Project's findings was the discovery that fundamentalists, who average roughly 20% of any major faith today, all seek to acquire power using similar techniques and belief systems. Their beliefs share much more in common with fundamentalists of other faiths than they do with their co-religionists, a finding that challenges the notion that Islam is an especially evil religion.

Nancy Gregg pens another rebuke of Harris at DU that is, if anything, even harsher.

"First Freedom First"

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Interfaith Alliance and Americans United have teamed up on a “First Freedom First” campaign in defending the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. Their dialogue between IA’s Welton Gaddy and AU’s Barry Lynn on “Is American a Christian Nation?” is also worth reading.

(Thanks to Atheist Revolution for the tip.)

censored FCC study

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Amanda Marcotte writes at Pandagon about an FCC study (1.4MB PDF) showing benefits to local ownership of media outlets. Specifically, the findings suggest that:

local ownership of television stations adds almost five and one-half minutes of total news to broadcasts and more than three minutes of “on-location” news. The conclusion is at odds with FCC arguments made when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of television stations a company could own in a single market.

I can understand why data unfavorable to media conglomerates would need to be suppressed by their allies at the FCC.

This graphic-novel version (by Chris Clarke, 4MB PDF) of Michael Berube’s new book, What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts, is just plain hilarious. It’s a wonderful parody of the wingnut view that universities are hotbeds of totalitarian re-educators, particularly the “Maoist Language Association” quip, and the course title "PoliSci 101: Bush is Hitler."

(Thanks to PZ Myers at Pharyngula for the tip.)

multiple-choice god

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Speaking of the LA Times, this article on “Multiple-Choice God” references a recent Baylor University study that identifies four basic strains of theism in America, plotted on the axes of belief that a deity is engaged in the world and belief that a deity is angry.

The survey identifies four conceptions of God, which it labels A, B, C and D.

A is the Authoritarian God, worshiped by 31.4% of respondents. This deity is highly involved, responsible for Earthly events such as tsunamis or economic upturns and "capable of meting out punishment to those who are unfaithful or ungodly."

B is the Benevolent God, the choice of 23% of respondents. He also is involved in human affairs but isn't in the smiting business. This God is "mainly a force of positive influence in the world and is less willing to condemn or punish individuals."

C is the Critical God, who "really does not interact with the world." But believers in this God — 16% of the sample — still watch their Ps and Qs because God C "views the current state of the world unfavorably" and will punish evildoers "in another life."

Last but not least is D, the Distant God. Twenty-four percent of respondents endorsed — "embraced" is probably too strong a word — this version of the deity, "a cosmic force which set the laws of nature in motion" but has no interest in human activities.

Finally, there are the atheists, who accounted for 5.2% of respondents. (They aren't dignified with an abbreviation. F for faithless?)

The study, “American Piety in the 21st Century” (1.5MB PDF), is quite interesting. The observation that “Persons aged 18-30 are three times more likely to have no religious affiliation (18.6%) than are persons aged 65 or older (5.4%)” is likely responsible for the increase in “religious nones” from 8% of the general population in 1988 to 14.3% in 2004.

Sam Harris writes in the LA Times about “Head-in-the-Sand Liberals.” He sees liberals as too concerned with defeating the GOP and not enough with defeating al Qaeda.

On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right. This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that "liberals are soft on terrorism." It is, and they are.

Harris speculates that:

Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West. Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies. Religious dogmatism is now playing both sides of the board in a very dangerous game.

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Neither the Taliban nor the AmTaliban are friends of freedom, and we must always watch our backs when dealing with them.

Kevin Drum writes a rebuttal here at Washington Monthly, as does Marty Kaplan here at HuffPo, who asks:

Is there something inherently self-destructive about maintaining that different points of view, even warring religious points of view, can co-exist? Is it insane to focus on the highest common denominator of world faiths, rather than on the totalitarian premises of their doctrines? If religious pluralism was a good enough bulwark against tyranny in our Founders time, does the availability of weapons of mass destruction make own age fundamentally different?

I can’t wait to read his upcoming Letter to a Christian Nation.

(Thanks to Atheist Exposed for the tip.)


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This Liberal Avenger post quotes from an Adbusters article on the Bush torture regime. Read it and ask yourself:

Would you care if this was done to an American soldier? American citizen? Your son? What are the ramifications of this? Would we still be seen as ‘civilized’ by the rest of the world? Is this really were we want to go?

The New Yorker has an article by Lawrence Wright on “The Master Plan” of the jihadists.

Although American and European intelligence communities are aware of the jihadi texts, the work of these ideologues often reads like a playbook that U.S. policymakers have been slavishly, if inadvertently, following. “The data don’t get to the top, because the decision-makers are not looking for that kind of information,” a policy analyst who works closely with the American intelligence community told me. “They think they know better.”

Intellectual arrogance is a disastrous path to follow, as the past five years have proven.

(Thanks to The Revealer for the tip.)

The latest issue of Washington Monthly has an all-conservative section entitled “Time for Us to Go,” where they sing the praises of divided government. (In today’s political environment, they are expressing hope that the GOP loses one or both houses of Congress in November.)

Christopher Buckley admits “to the guilty hope that my party loses” in both 2006 and 2008, and asks:

Who knew, in 2000, that “compassionate conservatism” meant bigger government, unrestricted government spending, government intrusion in personal matters, government ineptitude, and cronyism in disaster relief? Who knew, in 2000, that the only bill the president would veto, six years later, would be one on funding stem-cell research?

Who, indeed, other than the 50+% who voted against Bush?

Bruce “Impostor” Bartlett writes:

As a conservative who’s interested in the long-term health of both my country and the Republican Party, I have a suggestion for the GOP in 2006: lose. Handing over at least one house of Congress to the other side of the aisle for the next two years would probably be good for everyone. It will improve governance in the country, and it will increase the chances of GOP gains in 2008.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough would prefer “an assortment of Bourbon Street hookers running the Southern Baptist Convention to having this lot of Republicans controlling America’s checkbook for the next two years.”

Bruce Fein notes that the GOP-controlled Congress “has done nothing to thwart President George W. Bush’s alarming usurpations of legislative prerogatives. Instead, it has largely functioned as an echo chamber of the White House.” He goes on to suggest that “Republicans have shied from challenging Bush by placing party loyalty above institutional loyalty, contrary to the expectations of the Founding Fathers,” that they should “frustrate Bush’s super-imperial presidency.”

National Review editor Jeffrey Hart writes that:

Today, the standard-bearer of “conservatism” in the United States is George W. Bush, a man who has taken the positions of an unshakable ideologue: on supply-side economics, on privatization, on Social Security, on the Terri Schiavo case, and, most disastrously, on Iraq. Never before has a United States president consistently adhered to beliefs so disconnected from actuality. […] I’d call my skepticism “conservative,” but Bushism has poisoned the very word.

Richard “Conservatives Betrayed” Viguerie has this stellar opening paragraph:

With their record over the past few years, the Big Government Republicans in Washington do not merit the support of conservatives. They have busted the federal budget for generations to come with the prescription-drug benefit and the creation and expansion of other programs. They have brought forth a limitless flow of pork for the sole, immoral purpose of holding onto office. They have expanded government regulation into every aspect of our lives and refused to deal seriously with mounting domestic problems such as illegal immigration. They have spent more time seeking the favors of K Street lobbyists than listening to the conservatives who brought them to power. And they have sunk us into the very sort of nation-building war that candidate George W. Bush promised to avoid, while ignoring rising threats such as communist China and the oil-rich “new Castro,” Hugo Chavez.

Though his historical perspective of the past forty years is helpful, Viguerie seems at times to be stuck in the Goldwater era. This mindset is clearest when he opines that “Conservatives are, by nature, insurgents,” despite the fact that conservatism is—and has ever been—a haven for supporters of the status quo and protectors of the powers-that-be.

Andrew Sullivan remarked:

What do conservative luminaries, Jeffrey Hart, Christopher Buckley, Bruce Bartlett, William Niskanen, Bruce Fein and Richard Viguerie have in common with yours truly? They all hope the Republicans lose this November. For the sake of conservatism and the country.

That’s something on which both liberals and (some) conservatives can agree on.

This statement on “American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto” has some interesting signatories, as well as intriguing comments:

We are frustrated in the choice between conservative governance that thwarts much needed reforms at home, on the one hand, and a liberalism which has great difficulty accepting the projection of American power abroad, on the other. The long era of Republican ascendancy may very well be coming to an end. If and when it does, we seek a renewed and reinvigorated American liberalism, one that is up to the task of fighting and winning the struggle of free and democratic societies against Islamic extremism and the terror it produces.

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip.)

Here’s a great quote from Dick Armey, discussing the corrosive influence of the AmTaliban with Ryan Sager:

Where in the hell did this Terri Schiavo thing come from? There’s not a conservative, Constitution-loving, separation-of-powers guy alive in the world that could have wanted that bill on the floor. That was pure, blatant pandering to [Focus on the Family President] James Dobson. That’s all that was. It was silly, stupid, and irresponsible. Nobody serious about the Constitution would do that. […] … Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies.

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip.)

Orwell lives!

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This Cato briefing paper by Timothy Lynch, “Doublespeak and the War on Terrorism,” (616KB PDF) lists some of Dubya’s favorite propaganda phrases, and concludes:

The American people must recognize these odious tactics for what they are and remain vigilant about our Constitution and individual liberty. Too many people seem to think that the Constitution will automatically check the government from overstepping its authority and running amok. That simply is not true. The Constitution is incapable of enforcing itself. The ultimate limit on the power of government has always been the patience of the people.

(Thanks to Bruce Schneier for the tip.) has some deleted scenes that—unfortunately—could have fit right into the error-ridden “Path to 9/11” miniseries.

Keith Olbermann’s comments on 9/11 have been all over the web for days, and with good reason. Crooks and Liars has the video and the transcript. The choicest nuggets, not surprisingly, focus on the miserable failure of the Bush administration:

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused; as appeasers; as those who, in the Vice President’s words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken… a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated Al-Qaeda as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had ’something to do’ with 9/11, is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase, is "impeachable offense."

We need more impoliteness.

Henry Rollins narrates a letter to Ann Coulter. It’s good stuff.

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip.)

Max Blumenthal’s piece in The Nation on “The Path to 9/11” fiasco is excellent. The highlight is perhaps his mention of the David Horowitz piece “Liberals’ war on the First Amendment” [sic]. Horowitz begins with this stunningly ignorant piece of hyperbole:

The attacks by former president Bill Clinton, former Clinton Administration officials and Democratic US senators on Cyrus Nowrasteh's ABC mini-series "The Path to 9/11" are easily the gravest and most brazen and damaging governmental attacks on the civil liberties of ordinary Americans since 9/11.

If Horowitz truly believes that a few out-of-office politicians and some minority-party Senators have committed “the gravest and most brazen and damaging governmental attacks on the civil liberties of ordinary Americans since 9/11,” then he must have been paying no attention whatsoever to the Busheviks’ actions for the past five years. The ACLU has kept their eyes open, and the list of Bush’s top ten abuses of power contains everything that Horowitz would never have overlooked from the previous administration. Clinton’s accurate and verifiable complaints about inaccuracies in ABC’s 9/11 movie are spun by Horowitz as assaults on civil liberties, while Bush’s actual assaults on actual liberties are ignored.

Greg Sargent at TPM has Richard Clarke’s full comments on Disney/ABC’s fictional “Path to 9/11.” Clarke calls it “an egregious distortion that does a deep disservice both to history and to those in both the Clinton and Bush administrations who are depicted.”

There is throughout the screenplay a consistent bias and distortion seeking to portray senior Clinton Administration officials as holding back the hard charging CIA, FBI, and military officers who would otherwise have prevented 9-11.

The exact opposite is true. From the President, to all of his White House team, and NSC Principals (Lake, Berger, Albright, Tenet, Reno) there was a common fixation with terrorism, al qaeda, and bin Ladin. The President approved every counter-terrorism operation presented to him, including many that CIA proved unable or unwilling to implement. He increased counter-terrorism spending by 400% and initiated the first homeland security program in forty years. Even though the US had taken relatively few casualties from al qaeda at the time, the President repeatedly authorized the use of lethal force against bin Ladin and his deputies and personally requested the US military to develop plans for "commando operations" against them. Even though he knew the timing of an attack aimed at killing bin Ladin would be labeled by critics as a political diversion, Clinton decided to follow the advice of his national security team and pay the price politically. [emphasis added]

Clarke then notes that “if history is to know where to assign some of that culpability, it should not be guided by this fictionalization.”

It might better focus on leaders of the FBI who held back John O'Neill, leaders of the CIA's Clandestine Service whose risk aversion prevented the Counter Terrorism Center from doing its job, and senior generals who strongly urged the Commander-in-Chief not to use our military to go after the al qaeda leaders in Afghanistan. Somehow, all of that is missing from this not too subtle televised politicization of history.

This CNN poll shows that Americans are capable of assigning shared blame in a fairly accurate manner, despite media propagandization: 41% blame the Clinton administration a "great deal" or a "moderate amount" for 9/11, while 45% assign the Bush administration the same degree of culpability.

From the pages of Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them comes this summation of Bush’s “Operation Ignore” response to al-Qaeda for the 208 days from his inauguration until 9/11. It’s much less fictional than the Disney/ABC version.

(Thanks to Atrios for the tip.)

Several prominent historians have written an open letter to Disney/ABC, asking them to pull the error-ridden "Path to 9/11:"

... reports document that this drama contains numerous flagrant falsehoods about critical events in recent American history. [...] A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it. We strongly urge you to halt the show's broadcast and prevent misinforming Americans about their history.

Those ivory-tower historical-revisionist egghead liberals are obviously too concerned with factual accuracy. Americans want to feel good about their Preznit, and the truth be damned!

William Rivers Pitt has written a long--and factual--account of what Clinton actually did to fight terrorism, but don't expect any of it to appear in "Path to 9/11." Also, don't expect Disney/ABC to waste five minutes of valuable screen time on Dubya's deer-in-headlights reading of "The Pet Goat." Neither would serve their pro-Bush agenda.

update (3:31pm):
Disney/ABC is getting skewered with all manner of Mickey Mouse images, as this parody from xenophile indicates:


(Thanks to Atrios for the tip.)

blaming America first

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Those who "blame America first" reside as much--or more--on the Right as on the Left. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were the prime examples in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and many others have joined their ranks since then. With his new book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibilty for 9/11, wingnut Dinesh D'Souza is the latest blamer. Michael Berube, professor and author of What's Liberal about the Liberal Arts?, has written a nice piece on D'Souza's nonsense.

Somehow, I wound up on Ken Mehlman’s RNC email list. Even cursory attention to his blather is usually a waste of time, but today he actually sent something worthwhile. The GOP is now pushing the “Democrats are weak” meme with their new website, America Weakly. Insight into their skewed view of reality can be seen in the of their screed (” the newspaper of record for the Democrat [sic] majority”) detailing life one year after the Democrats take over Congress. It’s funny, in a sad sort of way.

Just as sad is the RNC’s insistence on using the noun “Democrat” as an adjective: not just once or twice, but 32 times in their 7-page screed. (The 414KB PDF version of the website is here.) How juvenile can they be?

Also (slightly) amusing is the purported quote from John Murtha, “Our troops have become the enemy.” This statement is attributed to Murtha all over the right-wing blogosphere, but not from any reputable news source. Why? Because it’s a fabricated quote. It appears to be a GOP-friendly remix of these statements made when introducing a resolution to bring our troops home from Iraq:

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, the Saddamists and the foreign jihadists.

Murtha also spoke about our troops and the mounting insurgency, noting that:

They don't deserve to continue to suffer. They're the targets. They have become the enemy. Eighty percent of the Iraqis want us out of there. […] …our troops are the enemy, they're the targets.


Incidents have increased and there's no economic progress. And we have become the enemy. And 80 percent of the Iraqis want us out of there.

From the context of Murtha’s statements, it is clear that he supports our troops more than all the GOP chickenhawks in Washington do. This is why Mehlman and his crew are spinning things so desperately. Are they even capable of telling the truth?

marriage equality

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Allison Hantschel’s piece on same-sex marriage at AlterNet is the sort of thing we hear all too infrequently from supportive straights: a fully support for marriage equality:

The institution of marriage isn't under attack by gay couples -- despite what conservatives would have you believe. […] …not a single one of San Francisco's or Massachusetts' weddings marred my wedded bliss one bit. I was more upset by those using my marriage as an excuse to deny others their right to equal protection under the law.


The New York Times has a good summary of the issues surrounding ABC’s pro-Bush biased 9/11 crockumentary. ABC commented that the miniseries is “a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews.” Does the “variety of sources” used by ABC really have to include complete fabrications designed to blame Clinton for the failures that happened on Bush’s watch?

For everyone in the reality-based community, Glenn Greenwald has put together a few facts regarding Clinton’s response to terrorism. He notes that “[t]o pretend that Republicans wanted a more aggressive stance than Clinton took is blatant revisionism.” It’s not surprising that the truth is nothing like the Bushevik fantasy of craven Democrats and bold Republicans. Editor & Publisher summarizes the miniseries, and John at AmericaBlog summarizes the bias:

It is 100% Clinton bashing and 100% pro-Bush. Which isn't surprising when ABC hires 3 Republican partisans to create and oversee the entire show. This movie is a political contribution to the Republican party from Disney/ABC.

Anonymous Liberal reminds us of the right-wing furor over The Reagans miniseries, and speculates on how a left-leaning 9/11 documentary would fare:

If the situation were reversed, it would result in a right-wing firestorm that would dwarf by many magnitudes the fury of a supernova. Every single conservative commentator, blogger, pundit, and politician would be absolutely apoplectic, and ABC would be lucky if it survived the fallout. If The Reagans was enough to provoke a right-wing media frenzy, God help us all if a network were to pull this 9/11 stunt in reverse. […] The same "liberal media" that almost instantly caved to conservative hysteria over The Reagans will likely air this 9/11 movie as planned. Given the choice between incurring the wrath of the Left or the Right, media executives almost always choose the former. That's just the way our liberal media operates.

That would be, as Eric Alterman observed, the “so-called liberal media.” The corporate media that actually exist in this country are far from liberal.

update (2:08pm)
ThinkProgress has a “Tell ABC to TELL THE TRUTH about 9/11” petition. Let ABC know that their standards are too low.

David Corn has another revelation from his book Hubris, as detailed in the article “What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA” at The Nation. In a summary from his own website, Corn succinctly demolishes the malicious myths about her operative status:

She was operations chief of the Joint Task Force on Iraq, a unit of the Counterproliferation Division of the clandestine Directorate of Operations. For the two years prior to her outing, Valerie Wilson worked to gather intelligence that would support the Bush White House's assertion that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was loaded with WMDs. This means that Armitage--as well as Karl Rove and Scooter Libby--leaked classified information about a CIA officer whose job it had been to look for evidence of Saddam's WMD programs. During this part of her career, Valerie Wilson traveled overseas to monitor operations she and her staff at JTFI were mounting. She was no analyst, no desk-jockey, no paper-pusher. She was an undercover officer in charge of running critical covert operations. [emphasis added]

nay, indeed

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This Newsweek article on atheism, “The New Naysayers” by Jerry Adler, selects Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins as the voices of today’s atheism. This triumvirate so intellectually outweighs anyone on the theist side of the debate that Adler is forced to rely on the 92-to-6 disparity between believers and nonbelievers from a recent Newsweek poll. Adler inanely claims that Dawkins “seems not to have spent much time among ordinary Christians.” Such a claim isn’t even remotely possible, unless Dawkins’ entire adult life were spent among the godless 2%. Adler thus tries to sneak the “atheists-don’t-understand-religion” myth through the back door, but it’s far more accurate to note that we atheists understand religion all too well. Indeed, that is why many of us are atheists.

(Thanks to AtheistExposed for the tip.)

blaming Clinton

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Once again, the Right is blaming Bill Clinton for 9/11. ABC—allegedly part of the “liberal media”—is showing its true stripes with a wingnut-friendly tale, “Path to 9/11,” that blames Clinton for letting bin Laden remain at large. ThinkProgress has details on the fictitious cover-Bush’s-ass scene, as well as a factual rebuttal.

Is there no end to the anti-Clinton slime campaigns?

our future

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This cartoon, “Our Bold American Future,” is priceless. I await its continuation…

(Thanks to Pharyngula for the tip.)

Wal-Mart petition

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Sign this letter to request that Wal-Mart stop selling the Bible because it’s “depraved, abominable, disgusting and repulsive.”

It’s a nice idea, but I’m more a fan of the warning-sticker approach.

(Thanks to NoGodBlog for the tip.)

The latest Rasmussen poll shows the percentage those who admit to being Republican at a 32-month low, at 31.9% of American adults; Democrats are at 37.3%. Although the breakdown of likely voters skews more toward the GOP, this bodes well for Democrats in the midterms.

(Thanks to deadparrot at DU for the tip.)

AlterNet has excerpted Rob Lanham’s new book The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right. It should be worth checking out.

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