Saturday, December 04, 2004

Books are your friends.

Christmas is upon us. Keep the brain cells alive.

What's hot this season?

You're kidding, right?

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. John McCain is demanding immediate action by representatives of major league baseball's players and owners to tighten the sport's drug-testing policy ``to restore the integrity of baseball.''

Expressing dismay over recurring reports of steroid abuse by some of the game's top stars, the Arizona senator repeated a threat he made before the last season to legislate a stricter rules if the sport fails to police itself.

This isn't about their brains; it's about their brawn. My hubbie tells me that other sports police it better.

But who wants to get the government involved? The *government* is doing a piss poor job at just about everything, yet it continues to pretend to want more responsibility?

The integrity of baseball is questioned by a politician. That politician.


Evening Thread

Some days I just don't have much to say...

Afternoon Thread

Slow day.

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Creators Syndicate

I had no idea they syndicated the columns of Samuel Francis.

His latest:

But that wasn’t the point, was it? The point was not just to hurl a pie in the face of morals and good taste but also of white racial and cultural identity. The message of the ad was that white women are eager to have sex with black men, that they should be eager, and that black men should take them up on it.

So far only one voice has mentioned the ad’s racial meaning and denounced its “insensitivity“ (to blacks)—that of black Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy.

Blacks are permitted to notice race. Whites aren’t.

But the ad’s message also was that interracial sex is normal and legitimate, a fairly radical concept for both the dominant media as well as its audience.

Nevertheless, for decades, interracial couples of different sexes have been sneaked into advertising, movies and television series, and almost certainly not because of popular demand from either race. The Owens-Sheridan match is only the most notorious to date.

In the minds of those who produced the ad, race is at least as important as the moral and aesthetic norms their ad subverts.

To them, the race as well as the religion, the morality, and the culture of the host society are all equally hostile and oppressive forces that need to be discredited, debunked and destroyed.

If the destruction can’t happen at the polls or through the courts, they can always use the long march through the culture that control of the mass media allows.

Breaking down the sexual barriers between the races is a major weapon of cultural destruction because it means the dissolution of the cultural boundaries that define breeding and the family and, ultimately, the transmission and survival of the culture itself.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Late Night

Chat away.

Cat Blogging -- The Motion Picture

Okay, it's not very exciting, but...

Not Quite

DeLong says that Mankiw breaks "message discipline" and actually reports that 2+2=4. But, that's not what Mankiw does. What Mankiw does is say "assume X=2. Then, X+2=4." This, admittedly, is a shocking degree of honesty coming from someone in the Bush administration. However, it is still the case that X does not in fact equal 2.

Calling the current system of Social Security benefits unsustainable, a top economic adviser to President Bush on Thursday strongly implied that any overhaul of the system would have to include major cuts in guaranteed benefits for future retirees. 'Let me state clearly that there are no free lunches here,' said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, at a conference on tax policy. . . . Mr. Mankiw's remarks suggested that President Bush's plan to let people put some of their Social Security taxes into 'personal savings accounts' would have to be accompanied by changes in the current system of benefits.

While Mankiw is admirable for saying that any social security overhaul of the kind he and the Bush administration have in mind would indeed require "major cuts," it is not the case that "the current system of Social Security benefits" is "unsustainable." There's actually a reasonable chance that they're sustainable without any changes to the program at all, given the rather pessimistic assumptions used to predict its future. But, in any case, with minor revenue enhancements to this system, which would cost far less than any "privatization" plan which would satisfy Bush's promise not to cut the benefits of those currently retired or near to retirement, the system can easily be sustained.

Pissing on a Dead Man's Grave

Chris Caldwell, another man who doesn't mind smearing the families and friends of the recently departed with lies to further his political agenda.


Inside the deep dark heart of Chris Wallace.

...a wee history lesson for Mr. Wallace, which probably will get his rocks off:

But in 1893, the Pullman company was caught in the nationwide economic depression. Orders for railroad sleeping cars declined, and George Pullman was forced to lay off hundreds of employees. Those who remained endured wage cuts, even while rents in Pullman remained consistent. Take-home paychecks plummeted.

And so the employees walked out, demanding lower rents and higher pay. The American Railway Union, led by a young Eugene V. Debs, came to the cause of the striking workers, and railroad workers across the nation boycotted trains carrying Pullman cars. Rioting, pillaging, and burning of railroad cars soon ensued; mobs of non-union workers joined in.

The strike instantly became a national issue. President Grover Cleveland, faced with nervous railroad executives and interrupted mail trains, declared the strike a federal crime and deployed 12,000 troops to break the strike. Violence erupted, and two men were killed when U.S. deputy marshals fired on protesters in Kensington, near Chicago, but the strike was doomed.

On August 3, 1894, the strike was declared over. Debs went to prison, his ARU was disbanded, and Pullman employees henceforth signed a pledge that they would never again unionize. Aside from the already existing American Federation of Labor and the various railroad brotherhoods, industrial workers' unions were effectively stamped out and remained so until the Great Depression.

Up, Up, and Away!

Let the mighty Euro soar...

(graph is dollars/euro)

Michelle Maglalang

This might even be more funny.

Sully in Foreclosure

Oh this is funny..., people, I'm not laughing at someone's poverty I'm laughing at someone's failure to fork over $1600 in a timely fashion. Sullivan has two residences (I don't know if he owns his DC place), which is one more than me. At some point in time after his tax bill was due, he began fairly substantial renovations on his Ptown place.

If I'm incorrect in my perception that he is high enough up the socioeconomic ladder that scraping together $1600 isn't an economic hardship, then I'll have a wee bit of pity, but it isn't as if he'll be homeless...

All Your Jobs Still Belong to Bush

+112K. Not so good. 140K or so more month needed to keep up with the growth in the working age population, yada yada. Last month's big number revised down a bit, as was September's.

We're still 313K below where we were in Jan 2001...

Libertarian Hearts New York

Reason editor Nick Gillespie recently wrote about how, surprise, he sorta doesn't like all the places which top Forbes magazine's "US Freedom index" which is simply a bunch of low tax places. Gillespie realizes that maybe there are more important things to worry about than taxes and regulations, and, well, hey, he likes New York City.

All of that is well and good, but what he doesn't quite do is take it all the way to the conclusion. New York City isn't as good as it is in spite of its high taxes and regulations, it could not exist without them. That's not to say all taxes/expenditures/regulations are good, but a densely populated place like NYC just simply would not exist and would not function without a pretty active government.

NYC couldn't exist without an immense public transit system. It couldn't exist without a rather large public sector keeping the place relatively clean and safe and functioning. It couldn't exist without pesky zoning and other regulations in such a dense environment, property rights are always going to be somewhat fuzzy. Frankly, it couldn't exist without all the things libertarians tend to get upset about.

I like New York. I don't think all people do or should. Not all people want to live in a place like New York. But, New York isn't and couldn't be a libertarian paradise and still be New York. And, nor could the rest of the country...

Breaking the Back

Oh boy.

BAGHDAD, Dec. 3 -- Iraqi insurgents staged nearly simultaneous attacks Friday morning on police stations at opposite ends of Baghdad, killing at least 20 people, freeing dozens of prisoners and emptying a police arsenal in a demonstration of the militants' strength in the heart of the country.

Hours later insurgents rose up in Mosul, overrunning many points in the eastern sector of Iraq's third-largest city.

The strikes employed small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and a potent car bomb, the insurgents' time-tested methods. Like many such attacks, most of those killed during the fighting appeared to be civilians. Just after noon the group led by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant, claimed responsibility for the attacks on a website known for carrying its statements.

Eleven police officers were killed after dozens of armed militants overran the police station in the southern neighborhood of Saydiya after an hours-long gun battle.

Across town in Adhamiya, a restive Sunni Muslim neighborhood that U.S. military officials have said may be serving as sanctuary for insurgents who fled fighting in Fallujah, a car bomb exploded around 6 a.m. on the cool Muslim Sabbath, according to police officials.

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


It would be a bit more helpful if the people involved in these things were a bit better about communicating correct instructions to travelers. Mrs. Atrios and I have traveled in and out of the country many times since we've been married, and each time we've obeyed the instructions as printed on the customs form which informs us that families only need to fill out one form.

So, this time when we went through the agent asked us if we were married. We said yes, and the guy said something along the lines of "oh, so you just haven't gotten around to doing the name change yet" (we have different last names). I replied that we weren't planning on doing that, and he informed us that married couples with different names need to fill out separate forms, being a bit of a jerk about it.

In the grand pantheon of airport hassles this was no big deal, and I'm not claiming it is. But, hunting around the customs site I still can't find any information about this law. It probably is the law, but I'd be happy if their website (and the forms they hand out) reflected it instead of saying this:

Each individual arriving into the United States must complete the CBP Declaration Form 6059B. If you are traveling with other immediate family members, complete one form per family unit.

And, you know, since the instructions don't make it sound as if this is optional (it says "complete one form," not "you may complete only one form...")...

Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin


okay, to be fair, I'm pretty sure this was taken at the Quebec conference of 1943 and not at Yalta, so Stalin wouldn't have actually been there, but...

Paging Dr. Krugman

DeLong says:

The real side counterpart of "financial adjustment" is that eight million American workers have to move from working in construction and consumer services to working in import-competing and export manufactures and services. If this takes place over five years, few will notice--and those who notice will be pleased as they will be pulled out of their current jobs into ones that are likely to be high paying in industries that are already rapidly expanding. If this takes place over one year, it becomes a big problem: you can fire eight million people in construction and consumer services in an instant, but creating and expanding the organizations to employ eight million more people in a particular slice of industries takes a long time.

I'm a wee bit rusty on my international econ, but DeLong hits on one of the things I've been mulling over lately. The basic idea is that the dollar drop is both necessary/inevitable in that it will put our long out of whack current account back into balance, and at least partially "good" in that it increases demand for exports. But there's a bit of a potential problem with that last bit.

Our manufacturing sector has been in relative decline for a long time. A big chunk of our economy now involves the production of non-tradeable (aside from tourism) goods. It isn't a matter of reopening some recently shuttered factories or boosting capacity. Sure, a declining dollar might sell a few more cars on the margin, but a big boost in exports would require not simply an uptick in employment in existing sectors, but the expansion of the economy into mostly non-existent ones. We economists all love our instantaneous adjustment models, but that isn't how the real world works.

Another thing to ponder is how all of this is affected by the vertical disintegration of the production chain which has really been the primary consequence of "modern globalization." Intermediate inputs are purchased from abroad, even when final production stages take place here. A falling dollar therefore equals not just higher prices on imported consumption goods, but increasing intermediate input costs for many industries.

This post is meandering, but there are a lot of reasons to be concerned about the consequences of a falling dollar. If the structural changes in the economy are very slow, then one can imagine a downward spiral taking place.

Radical Cleric Falwell Hosting Crossfire

How low can we go...


Pat Robertson says that gays and lesbians are "self-absorbed hedonists" for wanting to get married.

Lamar on a Milk Carton?

Just a random thought, but has Lamar Alexander made a public appearance since he won his senate seat in 2002?

I'm sure he has, but he's been oddly under the radar...

Occasional Reminders

This blog does not exist for the purpose of writing about whatever you think I should be writing about.

If I don't write about things that doesn't necessarily mean I don't think they're important - I may just have nothing to say, or it may just not interest me at that moment.

Surprisingly, the world manages to learn about, say, front page New York Times stories even if I don't link to them.

Other blogs exist even if I don't link to them. Linking to a blog is not necessarily an endorsement. Failing to link to a blog is not a non-endorsement. I assume this to be true of other bloggers as well.

The opinions expressed by guest bloggers are their opinions. I choose them for a bit of variety, not because I expect them to be just like me. Expectations that I clone myself or do this 365 days per year/18 hours per day are somewhat unreasonable.

Particularly strident emails criticizing me for these reasons tend to increase the scope of my spam filter.

...and, no, the above should not be construed to mean any of the following:

Criticism of what is written here by me or by a guest blogger is not allowed.

Reader tips and suggestions are discouraged.

Eschaton - love it or leave it!



I never followed the Galloway story much, but it is true that a lot of people owe him an apology...

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Some Records Shouldn't Be Broken


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Big Gay Anderson

It's not exactly a huge secret that Anderson Cooper is gay. He was rather out in his pre-CNN incarnation, and then went more in. I've been told CNN requires no discussion of his personal life in interviews, though I can't verify that. One wonders if this policy (if true) extends to all their talent. An incorrect transcript of a recent show made it seem as if he'd outed himself, but apparently that didn't happen.

But, for all you anti-outers -- which of you complained when Daryn Kagan was widely "outed" as being Rusty Limbaugh's new honeybunny? As long as personal lives are fair game... they're fair game.

...just to add, in case there's any misunderstanding, in calling something "fair game" I didn't mean "fair game for attack" -I meant "fair game for discussion." I don't think calling someone "gay" is an attack. The Limbaugh reference was about how Kagan's personal life isn't off-limits. There's no reason to attack Cooper or anyone else simply for being gay. However, there's a problem with what appears to be CNN's desire to keep him in the closet.

He Explained That You Are Gay!

So, kid says his mother's gay. Explains what gay is to another kid. The teacher reprimands him and makes him fill out the following form:

Now the teacher is going to sue the mother for defamation.

Your Tax Dollars At Work


Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy," a congressional staff analysis has found.

Those and other assertions are examples of the "false, misleading, or distorted information" in the programs' teaching materials, said the analysis, released yesterday, which reviewed the curricula of more than a dozen projects aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.


Among the misconceptions cited by Waxman's investigators:

• A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."

• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.

• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

One curriculum, called "Me, My World, My Future," teaches that women who have an abortion "are more prone to suicide" and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion, the Waxman report said.


Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."

Not an Advocacy Ad

Looking at the various follow-ups (Josh Marshall and my own colleagues at Media Matters) on CBS's refusal to run the UCC ad, I see they're mostly focused on CBS's advocacy ad policy.

But, this isn't an issue advocacy ad - it's an ad for a church/denomination. Does CBS regularly turn away other religious advertising?

Silly George Will

Will says:

In 2003, after many years of stoutly defending the filibuster, this columnist, his reason unhinged by the unconscionable filibuster against Miguel Estrada's confirmation to an appellate court, endorsed changing Senate rules to prevent such things.

Ah, yes, I remember that column well...


Long flight. blah. Thanks to all who helped out while I was away...

two thumbs up!

Dubya the Movie

(via Defective Yeti)

Insurgents Control the Roads

How about a little cross-posting?

Earlier today I mentioned that the British Embassy in Iraq has ordered its staff not to travel on the main highway connecting Baghdad with the Baghdad International Airport (as well as banning embassy staff from taking any commercial flight out of Iraq).

Now we find in this account by a reporter who has driven the hair-raising airport highway that it is actually the safest route out of the country.

The main highways west to Jordan and Syria are even more dangerous - especially for foreigners - because of armed insurgents around Ramadi and Fallujah who have kidnapped and beheaded both Iraqi and foreign hostages.

The road south toward Karbala and Najaf passes through a string of insurgent-controlled towns and cities dubbed "the triangle of death" because of the large number of foreigners and Iraqi Shiite Muslims waylaid over the last year.

Another road to the southwest through Kut and on to Basra is considered safer - but only relatively. As the route approaches Amarah it passes through an area notorious for carjackings.

The highway north toward Mosul, known to the U.S. military as Highway One, passes through such insurgency-plagued cities as Samarra, Tikrit and Beiji. And the U.S. military describes the situation in Mosul as "tenuous."

That leaves the airport as the "safest" way out of Baghdad.

If you read the entire article you will learn that Iraq Survey Group leader Charles Duelfer nearly took a dirt nap on "RPG Alley" on November 8, surviving an attack that claimed the lives of two of his body guards.

You don't have to be friggin' Erwin Rommel to understand that the U. S. military situation in Iraq is, how do they say, "tenuous".

Drive it like you stole it!

Well, lunch is over, and the boss is still not back. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So I'll blatantly purloin Holden's gaggle obssession (through his link at First Draft) to give us something new to talk about:

Q Can I ask you, the number of U.S. casualties spiked last month to, I think, 134. Should Americans brace for this level of violence through the Iraqi elections? Or is this because of the Fallujah offensive?

MR. McCLELLAN: There were tremendous sacrifices for the efforts to bring stability to the Fallujah area, both Iraqi forces, as well as American forces. We're all working together to bring about stability throughout Iraq, so that we can move forward on elections at the end of January. And the Iraqi election commission has set the date for January 30th, and we are all committed to helping the Iraqis move forward to hold these elections. But we've always said that as we move closer to elections and move forward on building a democratic Iraq, that the terrorists and the Saddam holdouts would become more desperate and seek to derail that transition.

What we are seeing is that they are being defeated, but we cannot forget the sacrifices of our men and women in the military who are partnering with the Iraqi people to prevail in this central front in the war on terrorism.

Q Sounds like you're bracing Americans to hold tight, it could be this bad for a couple more months.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the President has talked -- the President has regularly spoken about what we are working to achieve in Iraq, what we are working with the international community to achieve in Iraq. And coalition forces are there, partnering closely with the Iraqi forces to build a brighter future for the Iraqi people. And certainly that is critical -- a free and peaceful Iraq is critical to making the world a safer and better place.

Q Does the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: And we always remember the sacrifices of our men and women in the military are helping to make the world a better place.

Q Does the President think there should be a new election in Ukraine to end the suspicions of a rigged election?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, there are a number of ideas that have been discussed. But what the President has said is that our position is that there should be a democratic outcome that reflects the will of the people in Ukraine. And you heard him say yesterday how he had spoken with President Kwasniewski, and President Kwasniewski and some other European leaders are traveling to Ukraine today to help move forward on a resolution that achieves that result in a peaceful way. So we look forward to hearing more about those discussions after they take place. We continue to urge the process to move forward in a peaceful way and achieve that democratic solution, and as it reflects the will of the people.

Anything else? Thanks.

Iraq and rigged elections. And you thought I was going to suggest an afternoon nap.....

Ham and Swiss on Rye

Lunch time chat thread. Atrios back soon.

On second thought, you'd better have the salmon.

The NYT reports that:

The Bush administration on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of removing federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers to protect 11 endangered species of salmon and steelhead, even as a last resort.

In an opinion issued by the fisheries division of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the government declared that the eight large dams on the lower stretch of the two rivers are an immutable part of the salmon's environment.
Endangered fish, the opinion said, can be protected by a variety of measures, including carrying fish around dams and building weirs - a new type of weir that works like a water slide - to ease young fishes' journey through dams as they swim downstream to the ocean. The total cost of the 10-year effort was projected at $6 billion. Assuming annual expenditures of $600 million, this represents a slight increase over existing spending for this purpose.

"It is clear that each of the dams already exists, and their existence is beyond the present discretion" of federal agencies to reverse, the opinion said.
The decision is a departure from the Clinton administration's approach to salmon protection. In 2000, it adopted a policy that allowed for dam removal, although only if all other measures had failed.

The Bush administration opinion, first released in draft form in September, provoked immediate outrage on the part of environmentalists and some tribal groups, who see it as another in a series of federal actions weakening protection for the salmon that are an integral part of the regional identity of the Northwest, and whose numbers have been sharply reduced over the decades by overfishing, dam construction, industrial pollution and suburban sprawl.

Earlier this year the fisheries division proposed including fish bred in hatcheries along with their wild cousins when calculating whether a salmon species is still endangered.

Environmentalists say the administration is retreating from the goal of recovering salmon to robust populations, settling for the status quo.
A spokesman for the fisheries division disagreed, saying the actions the agencies were taking or planned to take would be sufficient to protect the salmon. In a conference call Tuesday afternoon, officials of the fisheries service and the other agencies involved pointed out that they had drafted a letter addressed to the citizens of the Northwest with the assurance that "this approach does not represent a reduction in our commitment to salmon recovery."


bebe rebozo and Konopelli can have their salmon with Dole pineapple, if desired. Get it while it lasts.

Airport Road a No-Go Zone for Brits

I can't bear to see this blog go silent, so let's see if I still know how to use Blogger.

The British Embassy in Iraq has ordered its staff not to use the road linking Baghdad to the Baghdad International Airport and has banned all use of commercial airplanes flying out of Baghdad as well:

The warning is in sharp contrast to more optimistic statements from US military commanders after the capture of Fallujah in which they have spoken of "breaking the back of the insurgency".

The embassy says that the road between Baghdad and the international airport, perhaps the most important highway in the country, is now too dangerous to use. The advice says starkly: "With effect from 28 November, the British embassy ceased all movements on the Baghdad International airport road."

And if you are wondering what happened to all those high explosives looted from al Qaqaa, wonder no more.

A suicide bomb killed seven Iraqi soldiers and police and wounded nine in an attack in the town of Baghdadi, 120 miles north-west of the capital. Two US soldiers were killed and three wounded by a roadside bomb in north-west Baghdad. Hitherto, roadside bombs have consisted of several artillery shells detonated by a command wire or by remote control. But the US military say the insurgents have started using shaped charges which direct the blast towards a target.

That Liberal Media

This is pretty stunning. The networks won't run an ad by the UCC which says "like Jesus -- the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation."

And their justification?

the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks

So, because Bush doesn't want federal or state recognition of marriage, a church can't even advertise that they welcome anyone in their doors?

This is so fucked up.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

My Feet Are Smiling

"I had a good time. Thank you. Good night."

--Leo Kottke

(My way of saying the bar is open, and so is the thread. Enjoy. And thanks for all the fish.)

I'll be short

This won't be.

There's been a plethora of diaries at Kos' on the subject of election 2004 fra . . . frau . . . um, irregularities. This is the best one I've read to date.


Throw Yourself Like Seed

~Scowls Meaningfully at Blogger~

Roger Housden sometimes has some interesting things to say about poetry. This week, I’m reading “Ten Poems to Set You Free” and, in honor of Atrios’ trip to Spain, thought I’d share with you what Housden says about the Spanish poet Miguel de Unamuno.

When the fascist General Milan-Astray stormed into the University of Salamanca to confront the elderly professor and poet-philosopher Miguel de Unamuno over his criticism of Franco and the fascist cause, Unamuno said to him: “At times to be silent is to lie. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: reason and right.”

The general shouted, “Death to intelligence! Long live death!” and drove the ailing poet out of the university at gunpoint. The poet suffered a heart attack and died within the week.
Here is Unamuno’s poem “Throw Yourself Like Seed.” I’m still working on what I think the last verse is really all about.

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit;
Sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate
That brushes your heel as it turns going by,
The man who wants to live is the man in whom life is abundant.

Now you are only giving food to that final pain
Which is slowly winding you in the nets of death,
But to live is to work, and the only thing which lasts
Is the work; start there, turn to the work.

Throw yourself like seed as you walk, and into your own field,
Don’t turn your face for that would be to turn it to death,
And do not let the past weigh down your motion.

Leave what’s alive in the furrow, what’s dead in yourself,
For life does not move in the same way as a group of clouds;
From your work you will be able one day to gather yourself.

Frances Newton

Frances Newton is scheduled to be executed in Texas on December 1st, 2004. Newton’s conviction was another product of the infamous Houston Police Department Crime Lab, a lab which has been notorious in sloppy DNA work that has resulted in numerous false convictions. Newton's attorneys have requested a 120 day reprieve so her attorneys can investigate some of the holes in the forensic evidence that were the basis of her conviction. Prosecutors, however, oppose giving Newton any time even though technological developments would allow new testing to differentiate between gunpowder residue (as the Prosecutors insist was found on Newton’s clothes) or garden manure (which is what Newton insists it was).

There are also serious effectiveness of counsel issues here, as there seem to be in virtually every Texas death penalty case.

Whatever you think about the death penalty, there is no reason not to grant this woman 120 days to determine for sure whether, in fact, the forensic evidence really supports the conviction. Amnesty International can help you send a letter to Governor Perry and Rissie L. Owens, Presiding Officer of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, here.

(via blogAmy)

at least?

Under the headline U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Ties Record, Yahoo reports that:
the U.S. military death toll for November equalled the highest for any month of the war, according to casualty reports available Tuesday. At least 135 U.S. troops died in November. That is the same number as last April, when the insurgence flared in Fallujah and elsewhere in the so-called Sunni Triangle where U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies lost a large measure of control.

On Nov. 8, U.S. forces launched an offensive to retake Fallujah, and they have engaged in tough fighting in other cities since then. More than 50 U.S. troops have been killed in Fallujah since then, although the Pentagon has not provided a casualty count for Fallujah for more than a week.
In other words, the number of U.S. deaths actually probably exceeds the number killed April. It only equals April if you don't count the last quarter of the month. Not a very fair comparison if you want to measure the increase or decrease of deaths among U.S. forces in the country.

(Note: quoting Yahoo news is dangerous because they regularly rewrite their articles, often erasing the bits I quote. As of 2:04 p.m., this is what their article says)

Scary Shit

filkertom has a terrifying video up on his blog. The pictures are seriously terrifying and should not be looked at by children. This month's Vanity Fair has an article on the same topic. The US has been using depleted uranium (DU) in Iraq. The results, for people in Iraq and American soldiers, are truly terrifying. We're dispersing this stuff into Iraq's air, earth, water. It has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. And last time I checked, the air over Iraq and water in Iraq don't stay in Iraq for 4.5 billion years, so we can expect at some point to, rather literally, reap what we've sown.

I was going to end with a joke, like: Hey, gay people holding hands at a baseball game!, but this topic makes even me unable to joke around.

Good News

Except, um, you didn't actually have one before?

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the incoming Senate minority leader, said Monday he is forming a communications "war room" to promote Democrats' messages and respond to Republican criticism.

Reid continued to put his stamp on the Senate leadership when he announced creation of a Senate Democratic Communications Center that will aim to keep the party in the public eye. The center will be launched Jan. 4, when the Senate convenes for its 2005 session.

Jim Manley, press secretary for Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has been hired as staff director for the center, which will be located in the U.S. Capitol.

Phil Singer, a former media adviser to Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will be communications director, handling "rapid response" as Democrats seek to keep their messages on pace with the White House and Republicans in Congress. Singer also worked as national spokesman for the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

A 15-member message team will include press aides who will publicize Democratic activities to Internet news organizations and bloggers, Reid said. Tessa Hafen, Reid's press secretary, will focus on Nevada media and regional news outlets.

Ridge Resigns

Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge steps down - AP By Carla Mozee
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has resigned, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Details to follow.


NYT reports: In an e-mail circulated to senior Homeland Security officials, Ridge praised the department as "an extraordinary organization that each day contributes to keeping America safe and free." He also said he was privileged to work with the department's 180,000 employees "who go to work every day dedicated to making our company better and more secure."

A news conference has been set for 2:45 p.m.

Goddess knows what company he's talking about. But I do begin to understand why he hasn't done anything to make American any safer if he's been working for some company all this time.

Drinking Liberally

For any local people, Drinking Liberally is tonight at Ten Stone, 21st and South Streets. It starts at 6:00 p.m. and goes until everyone leaves. Maybe I'll see you there.

...and as some pointed out in the comments, I neglected to say where "local" is. I'm in Philadelphia, but there are DLs all over the country (albeit at different dates and times). Click the above link to find one near you.

Idiots Leading the Idiots

Oh Lord help us. Brokaw:

"The idea that this White House has not given Tom Friedman a long, in-depth interview is astonishing to me. I have had a very good relationship with them, I have gotten to interview the President a lot. I have had access on the phone and other areas and I have been very vigorous in my discussions with them. But no reporter that I know covering national politics and the international policies that are of such great concern today know as much about them as Tom Friedman does and they have completely shut out the NEW YORK TIMES."

Leaving aside the not insiginficant issue that Friedman is currently a columnist, not a reporter...Brokaw believes that no one that he knows "covering national politics and the international policies that are of such great concern today know as much about them as Tom Friedman does"?

If that's true, we're dooooomed...

Moral Immunodeficiency

Some constructive rhetoric from the Vatican:

The Vatican on Tuesday blamed the spread of AIDS on an "immunodeficiency" of moral values among other factors and called for education, abstinence and greater access to drugs to fight the disease.

On the eve of World AIDS Day, the head of the Vatican's pontifical health council quoted Pope John Paul as calling AIDS a "pathology of the spirit" that must be combated with "correct sexual practice" and "education of sacred values".

"I highlight his thoughts regarding the immunodeficiency of moral and spiritual values," Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan added in a speech prepared for World AIDS Day on Wednesday.


More hacky goodness from Howie Kurtz.

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."--Thoreau

Molly Ivins points me in the direction of a new trend: people outliving the terms of their labor contracts. Apparently, per the WSJ, some companies want to limit pension benefits to the "lifetime" of the labor contract, not the "lifetime" of the employee. As cold-hearted as this clearly is, it points to a problem in American life, one we have never faced before, and so don't seem to be recognizing as more important and fundamental than almost any other:

People are living longer than ever before.

This is neither a surprise, nor as elementary as it may first appear. One of the fundamentals of society was that it changed, however slowly, as the elderly died off and the young took positions of responsibility. But in politics, at least, the elderly tend to be very conservative, and tend to vote in larger numbers. That affects politics very directly.

But there's also the spiritual, or psychological, if you prefer, aspect to this. What do we do with all these people? The average age in America is going up, rapidly. I know individuals who have survived multiple heart attacks and heart surgeries. Years ago, they would have been long dead. Now they are living into their 70s, 80s, 90s. This is an economic problem, too. When do we force them "out of the way" to make way for younger workers? Should we force them? Should we even encourage their retirement?

There are other effects, as well. This is the unacknowledged issue that will be at the root of most others. The elderly who don't relinguish control to the young; the elderly who demand resources from the society; the elderly who deserve our respect and care; the elderly who have much to teach us, if we will learn. The elderly simply as fellow human beings. But we have to recognize this fact: this is not a demographic "bulge" in the python. This is a fundamentally changed situation. This is, truly, unlike anything we have ever seen in human history. How does our economy, our political structure, our culture, respond? And how are our economy, our political structure, our culture, affected by this?

Good times are comin', but they're sure comin' slow....

As Lord Acton said, power corrupts.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantánamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantánamo.

The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also asserted that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantánamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in what the report called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics."

Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, the report said, sometimes directly, but usually through a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, or B.S.C.T. The team, known informally as Biscuit, is composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators, the report said.

As this is an Administration guided by ethics, I'd hate to see what an unethical Administration would do to this country.

More Social Security

Don't have time to go into great detail, but a lot of people wrote in arguing that social security benefits only went up by a COLA every year. This is true and not true. Initial benefit levels upon retirement for any particular lifetime income path increase every year according to a wage index. Then, each year, your benefits go up by a COLA. Wages tend to grow faster than the cost of living, so this initial level grows faster than the COLA...

Monday, November 29, 2004

CNN reports that bin Laden aide al-Zawahiri continues to threaten the US:


"You can elect Bush, Kerry or Satan himself, it doesn't matter to us," he said. "What's important to us is the U.S. policies toward Muslims."

Al-Zawahiri said the United States was "playing the game of elections" along with Afghanistan and Iraq.

Both U.S. candidates, he said, were fighting over "the acceptance of Israel. This proves there is no reasoning with America, but to force them to accept our position by force."

CIA officials were analyzing the tape to assess its authenticity, a spokesman said.


What is the U.S. policy towards Muslims? And now that our election is over, even Pakistan has announced that it's no longer looking for bin Laden. Will he become the new Loch Ness monster? Will future generations wonder whether or not he even existed? And, yes, I do think that bin Laden uses Israel rather cynically. As does Bush.

Who do you say I am?

The question of identity. How do we know who we are? Where does our "sense of self," come from? Not in the Western philosophical tradition sense, but in the everyday, walking around talking, sense. Phenomena, but not phenomenology (there is a time and place for everything). Here is what's on offer.

Identity comes from those around us, and who we surround ourselves with. We identify with our group, and shape our personal identities from the group we accept, and which accepts us. When that group betrays signs of change in its identity, we either accept it, or are threatened by it. Witness the animosity last night as one example. Trolls are the other. They're identity is formed either in argument with others here, or just in opposition. Or, probably more correctly, they are threatened by our community, since it calls into question their community, and their identity. When identity is threatened, we attack.

So some are threatened by gay marriage; or identify with religious fundamentalism; or even with materialism, logical positivism, what-have-you. It can be understood in terms of threat response, or identity acceptance. Some think it explains the roots of violence in the world: "we" are attacked, and "we" must respond, in order to remain who "we" are. Verbal or physical, it's all a matter of degree.

This is the scenario being painted now, between the "red" and the "blue" states: us v. them, where "they" are against everything "we" stand for. But the question for us is: who are we? Democrats? Progressives? Liberals? Right (as in correct, true, sounder in our thinking than "they" are?). It is our identity that is under challenge. Is there a response better than: "Destroy them. They are the problem?" In the battle over identity, when do we declare victory? When our identity is the only one permitted? Isn't that what we accuse them of wanting to do?

Here we go again; It's the economy, stupid.

First off I agree with upyernoz that protesters should absolutely be allowed access to quasi-public spaces such as malls. The proprietors of these malls are shooting themselves in both feet if they think this is the way to deal with harmless street theater protesters (I would have offered them store coupons). Someone seriously needs to sit management down and explain a little public relations to them before the local news decides to do a number on them under the header of Human Interest.

So here I was, reading along as the comments predictably ran into another rehash of the weekend's point/counterpoint debate over the more commercialized aspects of the holiday season, fully intending to get back to work without commenting, until reading the following comment by Hecate (who I still hold dear to my heart):

Can you imagine if, for one month, Americans decided to stop buying anything except necessities?

Yes. As a matter of fact I can clearly imagine what it would be like if Americans decided to stop buying anything except necessities because it actually happened during the week of January 17, 1991.

We were in the middle of a large marketing campaign, clocking in with a response rate of almost 3% (excellent by industry standards) and receiving an average of 5-6 calls an hour from retail stores around the country that we were heavily direct marketing to. So what happened January 17, 1991? Why Gulf War I had just officially begun. Literally as soon as the shooting started, and continuing for roughly a week, you would have thought the phones went unplugged. I actually found myself picking up the receiver to make sure the phone company hadn't shut us off. America sat riveted to their TVs for the better part of a week transfixed on America's first actual, televised, live coverage war. At this moment Hecate's dream of Americans ending all non-essential buying was realized. Unfortunately the bad news turned to worse news as the ripple effects lasted for much longer than that week's buying freeze. Retail stores, shocked by the sudden cessation of consumer buying, responded by running store inventories way down before ordering and remaining lean on inventory and personnel for the remainder of the year. Our amazing pre-attack response rate of 3% dropped overnight to less than 1/10th of a percent. Shortly thereafter several of our largest customers and distributors, the supposedly "safe" accounts (Federated Dept Stores among them) started filing bankruptcy on us. Other good accounts significantly delayed and reduced their normal seasonal orders. Before 2000, the previous US record for assets going into bankruptcy was $93.6 billion and the largest previous number of publicly traded companies filing for bankruptcy was 123. And both of these previous records were set in . . . 1991. Coincidence?

Economists can and will argue over what contributed to 1991 being such a banner year for business bankruptcies but I still vividly recall what I witnessed the week our consumer driven economy sat quietly in awe as the bombs dropped. It took well over a year (and a new president) for the economy to get back on its feet.

Imagine if Americans decided to stop buying anything except necessities? Been there. Barely survived it. Many didn't survive it. There has to be a smarter strategy than cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

[Update: 11:10pm] So I leave for a few hours, uncertain what trouble I've started, and return to a comments section that makes me feel as if I'm viewing my post through a kaleidoscope. I got as far as this comment by Fielding Mellish before I felt I should clarify a few things:

The message "buy stuff because it's good for the country" has the same resonance with me as the message "get along with Republicans because it's good for the country." None.

First, I understand that Federated was being set up to be fleeced even before the original Gulf war freeze (it made a handy cover) and I am aware that the moribund economy that followed gave a needed boost to Clinton. It only goes to follow that the party on the outside benefits when things go sour. But we have to be more sophisticated than curing the disease through blood-letting. I'm suggesting economic reverse kemo-therapy. Starve the obvious Republican connected companies, not our natural allies in your local markets. So you're not going to buy dumb gifts. No problem. Are you going to buy a card? Would it be worth an extra $2 to know it was hand made by someone in your state? I stay very conscious of who, where and how much I spend regardless of whether it's food and clothing related or if it's stupid Kotchkies. Note: Anyone incurring needless debt right now needs their head examined.

We can make a difference, but as Wyatt Urp once said, "[A]lways take the extra part of a second to aim."

Words of Wisdom on the Civil War

From Pat Buchanan.

Soliciting Nothing

It's a good thing that John Ashcroft fixed that pesky terrorism problem so that police now have time to arrest four people for soliciting nothing.

As it happens, this story comes from my home town. A friend of mine, Hydro, forwarded me an email from Anna White, one of the arrestees. Anna tells her story as follows (I've edited the email, but its still pretty long... sorry):
For the past five or so years, we have marked Buy Nothing Day with a trip to our local shopping mecca, Christiana Mall. Instead of shopping lists and credit cards, we bring humor, ideas, and theatre. Early on we dressed up as Santa Clause and his elves, wearing signs like "More Joy, Less Stuff!" "Santa needs a Break" and "Unplug the Christmas Machine" and carrying a sack of alternative gift ideas (our Santa was once kicked out of the mall for "impersonating Santa Claus"). Two years ago, we decided it was time for a new act. And thus, the product NOTHING was born.

The act was simple. We dressed up as marketers for the product NOTHING. We wore black pants and white t-shirts with the slogan "NOTHING What you've been looking for!" on the front and "Ask me about NOTHING" on the back. Key to costumes were big shopping bags labeled "NOTHING" and "FREE SAMPLES". To top off the costume, we wore the season-appropriate Santa hats.


While shoppers have been overwhelmingly positive toward our little act, mall management has not. Each year, very soon after entering the mall, security guards begin to trail us. Usually after 10-15 minutes they surround us and try to make us leave, at which point we argue that we are not violating the law or any of their policies. They in turn accuse us of "soliciting" to which we reply that we're "soliciting nothing." This never fails to elicit a detailed discourse over the definition of soliciting.


This year, just like others, a security guard began following us as we made our way down the crowded mall corridor from JCPenny's towards Lord & Taylor giving away samples of NOTHING. In front of Lord & Taylor, a posse of five or so security guards were waiting for us. They asked us what we were doing. We explained that we were promoting NOTHING. They told us that we were soliciting "something" and would have to leave the mall premises. We asked the head of the mall's security to clarify exactly what we were soliciting, to which he replied, "You are soliciting a reaction from people." (One year, during a different Buy Nothing Action, we were accused of no less than "soliciting ideas.")

The standard conversation about soliciting ensued and the state police were once again called in to help deal with the situation. This year, a small army of mall security and state police told us that we were not allowed to even carry the shopping bags that said "FREE SAMPLES NOTHING" on them or we would be arrested. Only the t-shirts and Santa hats were permissible. While we felt that the order was completely ridiculous, we also had not come to the mall that day to be arrested, so we agreed to take the bags out of the mall. Terri Maurer-Carter, who had come with us to shoot footage for a local public access television station was told that she was not allowed to have a videocamera in the mall and would be arrested as well if she did not leave.


The three of us headed off to our car, with Terri and another friend trailing behind. Just as we were walking through the parking lot in front of one of entrances to JCPenny's (but still far from our car), a police van swerved around in front of us and another in back of us. We were surrounded by policemen who told us we were under arrest for failing to obey their orders to leave the mall. We tried to explain that that was what we were trying to do, but they were already putting metal handcuffs on us and warning us not to resist arrest. At the same time, our friend with the video camera, was being arrested by another set of police officers.

As we were being arrested, we shouted out to mall patrons that we were being arrested for promoting NOTHING and loudly decried the lack of freedom of speech at the mall. As the police drove us to the other side of the mall to be processed, our driver informed us that we needed to study freedom of speech laws a bit more, because "they don't apply on private property."


The police took Polaroid mug shots of each of us, complete with our Santa hats and NOTHING t-shirts. We were told we were being charged with "criminal trespassing" and given an arraignment date of January 15, 2005. After being fingerprinted, processed, and given a document banning us from the mall for a period of six months, we were told we could leave. We asked how we could get to our cars without violating mall rules once again. The police actually instructed us to walk through the mall, "FREE SAMPLES NOTHING" bags and all, to get to the mall entrance close to our car, basically the same exact thing that we had been doing when they had arrested us. But whatever.


Our small action and the drastic response to it raises a variety of important questions and issues, such as: What is so very dangerous about a humorous promotion of purchasing NOTHING? In an era of declining public spaces and the rise of malls as the new "town centers" (and many actually naming themselves such), should not "freedom of speech" extend to these quasi-public commercial spaces? Why are taxpayer-funded state police protecting private commercial interests from citizens' free speech? How much longer can the devastating environmental and social impact of voracious American-style consumerism be ignored?

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the merits of "Buy Nothing Day," but for me it's a free speech issue. Some States, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania (both of which are only a short drive from the Christiana Mall) have ruled that malls are the modern equivalent of a public square and ruled that rights to free speech must be respected in shopping centers that are open to the general public. Delaware, as far as I can tell, has not. (check out the links under the heading "Rights to Petition in Private Malls and Quasi-Public Places" for more information) Even though the Delaware Supreme Court has not ruled whether free speech exists in private shopping malls, we can still complain about the treatment of the White sisters by the Christiana Mall.

The Wilmington News Journal (the local Delaware newspaper) also picked up the story of Anna and her sisters. Letters to the editor concerning the arrest can be submitted online here (scroll down).

Social Insecurity

Big Media Matt is right - the first graph here is all you really need to know about the social security 'crisis.' Even once it goes "bankrupt" - only having the money to pay out roughly 75% of promised benefits assuming the general fund isn't tapped, the amount of benefits that can be paid out will still be greater in real terms than the benefits paid today. The reason this happens is that social security benefit levels don't just rise with cost of living increases, they rise with general standard of living increases as time goes up. Productivity goes up, wages go up, benefits go up.

So, even if no changes are made at all the system is currently projected to pay out a higher level of benefits in real dollar terms than it does now. Clearly this rather odd benefit-level curve cries out for some tweaking, and such tweaking could indeed be called "reducing prommised benefit levels," but the point is that such changes are hardly catastrophic.


Wait. I'm confused. Cokie and the gang told us this "values" stuff was all about "preserving the institution of marriage" and noble things like that. Apparently, it's about banning gay people from baseball games. Or something. I'm really not sure.

Cass wants a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage. "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," he said.

Actually, shame on that reporter for writing that paragraph. Cass is a bigot, but I imagine even he is smart enough to understand that "outlawing gay marriage" will not be enough to stop gay people from appearingneglectto ask the obvious question - what does Cass want the government do about "homosexuals showing affection for one another" at baseball games?

Afternoon Thread

Take it away.

Radical Clerics

Frank Rich has some interesting things to say about censorship.


It's beginning to look a lot like "Groundhog Day." Ever since 22 percent of the country's voters said on Nov. 2 that they cared most about "moral values," opportunistic ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this nonmandate into a landslide by ginning up cultural controversies that might induce censorship by a compliant F.C.C. and, failing that, self-censorship by TV networks. Seizing on a single overhyped poll result, they exaggerate their clout, hoping to grab power over the culture.

The mainstream press, itself in love with the "moral values" story line and traumatized by the visual exaggerations of the red-blue map, is too cowed to challenge the likes of the American Family Association. So are politicians of both parties. It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent).


Why are the Democrats not pointing this out? Are they so terrified that a Racist Radical Cleric like Dobson or Fallwell will call them "unchristian" that they can't even point out facts? Let's be clear about this. In 1996, when 40 percent of Americans based their votes on "moral values," they re-elected Bill Clinton. Now that the number of Americans who base their votes on "moral values" has been cut almost in half, they selected George Bush. And this gives the Racist Radical Clerics the ability to force their "religion" down everyone's throats?

And where's the discussion over what "moral values" means to different people? I've never thought that lining your own pocket at the public's expense, lying America into a war, or stirring up hate against minority groups were American values.

Oh, and Rich notes one very telling statistic: "Desperate Housewives is hardly a blue-state phenomenon. A hit everywhere, it is even a bigger hit in Oklahoma City than it is in Los Angeles, bigger in Kansas City than it is in New York."

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

First Sunday of Advent

One of the perils of guest-blogging is abusing your host's hospitality; but then guest-bloggers are invited for what else they bring to the party. So, it is the First Sunday of Advent, which means something.

In the world, that means precious little; frantic for Christmas to come and go, the world is in a hurry. To the liturgical church, though, Christmas doesn't begin until December 24th, and it doesn't end until January 6th, on Epiphany. And before it ends, it will include two days of death: the Massacre of the Innocents, and the first Christian Martyr, St. Stephen. I mention that because Advent is actually akin to Lent, not to "December" on the American calendar. It is a time of preparation for shattering change, not for celebration of consumer excess.

When I had a church, I used to include the following reading on the First Sunday of Advent, whenever I could. Mostly, I wanted to share it with you, too. But it highlights a distinction I think needs to be made, between Christianity, and Christendom. It's an old distinction, but, like the Massacre of the Innocents and the death of Stephen right after Christmas, little acknowledged or its importance understood.

As I type this, I'm listening to a Christmas mix of my own devising, and Joni Mitchell is singing "River." That's the tone I'm going for, if it helps.

This text means many things, but for my purposes here it means the point where Christendom fails, and Christianity continues; continues into something unknown and frightening. Some have complained here that "liberal" Christians don't speak enough about their beliefs; others think religion has no place in politics. In El Salvador, at one time, religion was politics.

This is from Memory of Fire: Volume III, Century of the Wind, by Eduardo Galeano, tr. Cedric Balfrage, Pantheon, 1988.

"ARCHBISHOP Romero offers her a chair. Marianela prefers to talk standing up. She always comes for others, but this time Marianela comes for herself. Marianela Garda Vilas, attorney for the tortured and disappeared of EI Sal-vador, does not come this time to ask the archbishop's solidarity with one of the victims of D' Aubuisson, Captain Torch, who burns your body with a blowtorch, or of some other military horror specialist. Marianela doesn't come to ask help for anyone else's investigation or denunciation. This time she has something personal to say to him. As mildly as she can, she tells him that the police have kid-napped her, bound, beat, humiliated, stripped her-and that they raped her. She tells it without tears or agitation, with her usual calm, but Archbishop Romero has never before heard in Marianela's voice these vibrations of hatred, echoes of disgust, calls for vengeance. When Marianela finishes, the archbishop, astounded, falls silent too.

"After a long silence, he begins to tell her that the church does not hate or have enemies, that every infamy and every action against God forms part of a divine order, that criminals are also our brothers and must be prayed for, that one must forgive one's persecutors, one must accept pain, one must. . . Suddenly, Archbishop Romero stops.

"He lowers his glance, buries his head in his hands. He shakes his head, denying it all, and says: 'No, I don't want to know.'

" '1 don't want to know,' he says, and his voice cracks.

"Archbishop Romero, who always gives advice and comfort, is weeping like a child without mother or home. Archbishop Romero, who always gives assurances, the tranquilizing assurance of a neutral God who knows all and embraces all-Archbishop Romero doubts.

"Romero weeps and doubts and Marianela strokes his head."

This is the First Sunday of Advent. In Christianity, we are told to watch. Watch for what, is always the question we don't quite want to contemplate

Man Date

Most people don't think George is getting much hot man-on-man action after all. Weird -- I swear Cokie and the gang told me he was.

BLITZER: Does President Bush have a mandate to advance the Republican agenda? Twenty-nine percent of the respondents in this CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll said yes. Sixty-three percent said no.

Evening Thread


He Only Hits Me Because He Loves Me

Usually, I try not to step on others' posts by posting my own too soon after theirs. Upyernoz and I just posted threads, but this is too good to keep. Dr. Pendant points to Matthew Gross' discussion of liberals as abused spouses.


Watch Dan Rather apologize for not getting his facts straight, humiliated before the eyes of America, voluntarily undermining his credibility and career of over thirty years. Observe Donna Brazille squirm as she is ridiculed by Bay Buchanan, and pronounced irrelevant and nearly non-existent. Listen as Donna and Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer take to the airwaves saying that they have to go back to the drawing board and learn from their mistakes and try to be better, more likable, more appealing, have a stronger message, speak to morality. Watch them awkwardly quote the bible, trying to speak the new language of America. Surf the blogs, and read the comments of dismayed, discombobulated, confused individuals trying to figure out what they did wrong. Hear the cacophony of voices, crying out, “Why did they beat me?”

And then ask anyone who has ever worked in a domestic violence shelter if they have heard this before.

They will tell you, every single day.


Go. Read the whole thing. E-mail it to everyone you know. It's spot on.

I don't get it

I don't understand why people expect Bush in his second term to "revert to the moderate mainstream." He's given no sign of it. If anything, the signs have been pointing farther to the right since election day. And yet there seems to be this stubborn faith that Bush will choose the reasonable option even though it often directly contradicts his public pronouncements.

For a President who's supposed appeal is that "you know where he stands" on issues, why are so many Reagan-era conservatives like Edward Luttwak hinting of their hope for a more moderate Bush in his second term?

Who Said Condi's Area of Expertise Was Irrelevant

Today's NYT asks the question:


So has a Ukrainian political standoff escalated to a Russian-American confrontation out of the cold war, "captive nations" and all?

Mr. Putin does appear to be insisting that the lines defining Moscow's sphere influence in eastern Europe - which have been retreating steadily over the last 15 years - will hold firm at Ukraine's western border.

Pointing to the horrors of the past, Western leaders believe that democracy itself best guarantees their own security, and Russia's. Mr. Putin appears to think that democracy is good, but that control - within Russia and over Russia's closest neighbors - is better.

So while there are no Russian tanks massed at the border and no danger of nuclear bombers flying, as there were in the cold war crises in Poland, East Germany, Budapest and Prague, there is a profound east-west gulf nonetheless. It is simply that the character of this divide is entirely new. In Mr. Putin's view, the outcome of the vote in Ukraine was "perfectly clear" - 49.46 percent for Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich, President Leonid D. Kuchma's handpicked successor, and 46.61 percent for the opposition candidate, Viktor A. Yushchenko. Mr. Kuchma certified the results despite warnings from Europe and the United States that to do so would be a mistake. Mediation attempts, led by Javier Solana of the European Union, began in Kiev on Friday, with Mr. Kuchma and the two candidates agreeing to keep talking as thousands from each camp squared off in the streets.


And, here it is, just on cue, the return of the Cold War! Hmmm, who told Mr. Putin that our armed forces were already over-extended in Iraq?

At least we can be comforted that

"The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."--John Ashcroft

"Number of U.S. terror trials brought before a jury since September 11, 2001: 1

Number of terrorism convictions resulting: 2

Number of them dismissed due to a 'pattern of mistakes' by the prosecution: 2"

Source: Harper's Index.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.....

Rep. Hostettler Hates America

Believes he is above the law. Thinks that if he doesn't like a court decision then he and congress can tell them to fuck off.