Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

30 January, 2006

Backwards to the 19th Century!

The rich, old men who comprise the Senate seemed to be having a grand old time as they cast their votes to help strike down laws protecting a woman's autonomy, worker's rights, and the environment. They seemed positively giddy as they voluntarily demoted themselves from "co-equal branch of government" to "subservient rubber stamp," what with all the smiles and backslapping going on. "Huzzah!" they shout, "Alito will get his upper-down vote! We prevailed on principle!"

Bullshit. Fucking disgusting.

To my sweetie: you were right, I was wrong. I was naively optimistic, but wrong nonetheless.

To the so-called "pro-choice" Republicans: you are lying cowards. Any shred of respect that I may have had for your "moderate" positions has vanished as a result of your prostrating yourself to the extremists of your party.

And to the 19 Dems who voted for cloture: mark my words - we will remember this vote. You've betrayed us.

And speaking of ugly, unspoken racism

I imagine quite a few GOoPers might be blowing their Starbucks out their noses upon reading this on page A5 of the WaPo in the morning:
"Obviously, such research does not speak at all to the question of the prejudice level of the president," said Banaji, "but it does show that George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice."
To which I can only respond with, "Duh."

Brothers gonna work it out

We've been listening to Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet a lot lately - I think it's jiving with our sense of righteous anger these days. I remember this album coming out when I was in high school and being shocked at the raw indignation seething from the speakers. I didn't really get it then, and other than a few cuts, the album didn't ever make it into the regular rotation.

Which is a real shame, because FoaBP is a sonic marvel, first and foremost because of the socio-political commentary delivered in Chuck D's stacatto cadence, balanced by Flavor Flav's court jester antics. My sweetie, an ex-New Yorker, mentioned that listening to the lyrics makes her think of how much has changed since the album's release in 1990. I can kind of see her point - FoaBP documents the grit and racial tension of inner-city neighborhoods in New York during the 1980s. This tension hasn't been resolved, per se. Rather, it's slinked out of sight as the city has become increasingly gentrified. But beyond that particular historical context, this album is still able to speak to the ugly, unspoken (although at times, explicit) racism that remains at our nation's underbelly.

All of this occurs over some of the most adventurous beats and sampling in all of hip-hop. Chuck D's revolutionary message is delivered over funky-ass beats and a melange of samples that evoke the urban landscape he describes. The music highlights the anger of the rhymes while simultaneously causing your booty to irresistably swang.

This album has found its way into the permanent rotation. It's a true classic that should be listened to time and again for its lyrical consciousness and phat, phat beats.

Not just criminals, incompetent criminals.

georgia10 on the upcoming NSA eavesdropping hearings:
I propose that the thrust of our debate on this focus not completely on the 4th Amendment issue, but on the program's ineffectiveness. Americans are far too willing to sacrifice civil liberties for safety. What we need to prove to America is that this domestic spying program is so ineffective, it compromises national security instead of enhancing it. We will never escape the false framework of civil liberty vs. safety that the media and the administration have engaged us in. If we haven't done it in the 4 years since 9/11, we sure as hell won't do it in the few weeks that the this story may stay alive. If we cannot change the framework, let us use it to our advantage.
They're not just criminals. They're incompetent boobs. We should gladly turn over our liberties to the folks whose foresight has us mired in Mesopotamia and whose planning allowed a major American city to be wiped off the map.
Why does Bush's order hinder the War on Terrorism?

It's simple, really. First and foremost, any terror conviction can now be challenged under a "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine (See Andrew C. White's diary here). Bush acting outside the law has actually made it easier for those charged with terrorism to suppress evidence against them.

Second, the program is a distraction which wastes critical manpower. FBI agents who are supposed to be chasing down terrorists are, because of this far-reaching scope of this program, investigating ordinary Americans. Under Bush's program, thousands of FBI officers are chasing calls to Pizza Hut rather than chasing sleeper cells who may be planning to attack us.

Finally--and this is the point the Democrats need to hit, hard--Bush's spying program has not resulted in a single terror lead in the four years it has been implemented. Not one single lead.
Yes, these are the people we want working to make us safer.

29 January, 2006

This is a war crime

The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

The issue of female detentions in Iraq has taken on a higher profile since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 and threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women detainees are freed...


Iraq's deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali, dismissed such claims, saying hostage-holding was a tactic used under the ousted Saddam Hussein dictatorship, and "we are not Saddam." A U.S. command spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, said only Iraqis who pose an "imperative threat" are held in long-term U.S.-run detention facilities.

But documents describing two 2004 episodes tell a different story as far as short-term detentions by local U.S. units. The documents are among hundreds the Pentagon has released periodically under U.S. court order to meet an American Civil Liberties Union request for information on detention practices.
Let me be perfectly clear. These actions are not the result of a few bad apples in the enlisted ranks of the military. They are the result of an administration that believes they have a carte blanche to use any means necessary to achieve their ends (ends which they and others mistakenly identify as the national interest). The political leadership of the United States is composed of war criminals.

28 January, 2006

Odds and ends

I'm going to be jamming on knocking out a dissertation proposal draft for the next few days, so chances are I won't be updating for a few. To tide you over, here's a few random tidbits:
  • georgia10 has started updating her blog again, and it's promising to be a font of information regarding the Bush administrations warrantless eavesdropping. Do check it out.
  • I know everyone's fretting about Alito's seemingly inevitable confirmation. A couple of points. He ain't been confirmed yet, and until the cloture vote happens, a filibuster is possible. Make the Republicans sweat. And if, if Alito is confirmed and his SCOTUS opinions turn out to be every bit as odious as we predicted, we'll make the Republicans pay at the ballot box for a generation. To paraphrase Paul Newman: sometimes nothing's a pretty cool hand.

Okay, a very few random tidbits.

26 January, 2006

Stop Alito: Write your senator

I just fired off e-mails to my senators. First, to Ron Wyden:
To the Honorable Senator Wyden:

I am heartened to see that you will be opposing the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. I am writing you to convey my strongest feelings about supporting a filibuster against this nominee. In light of the recent revelations concerning the Bush administration's warrantless "eavesdropping," as well as their seeming willingness to spin intelligence to further their political agenda, Judge Alito's opinions with respect to expansive executive powers become especially disturbing.

I understand that employing a filibuster against a president's judicial nominee is an extraordinary step, and that tradition dictates a certain amount of deference to the elected executive's nominee, even if a senator opposes the nominee. However, I believe that this deference requires the president to act in good faith. Recent events cast doubt on President Bush's motives, and the extremist views of Judge Alito clearly demand all that our Loyal Opposition can muster.

Senator Wyden, please be a leader among your colleagues. Continue to pursue the strategy of extending debate, but when the time comes to vote for cloture, please vote no. Our nation deserves a Supreme Court justice who reflects mainstream American values and who will respect the checks and balances of our Constitution.
And then to Oregon's Republican senator, Gordon Smith:
To the Honorable Senator Smith:

I am writing to urge you to oppose the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. I believe that, whatever his qualifications (which are considerable), his views with regard to expansive executive powers are very troubling, especially given that the Bush Administration has admitted to violating the law while conducting warrantless eavesdropping operations. Judge Alito's views are far outside those of mainstream Oregonians with regards to our civil liberties.

Senator Smith, I urge you to ask President Bush to provide the Senate an opportunity to confirm a judicial nominee who reflects the values of mainstream Americans.
Quick and easy. Find your senator here and tell them what you think.

24 January, 2006

Who's in charge? Oh yeah, them

What's been accomplished in the last five years? Let's make a list, shall we?
  • Bungled invasion and occupation of a Middle Eastern country which did not attack us, with losses of life estimated in the tens of thousands

  • Terrorist mastermind and mass-murderer still free and planning attacks

  • Major American city destroyed, poor left to fend for themselves or die

  • Thousands of elderly Americans losing access to vital medication thanks to Medicare D
We could go on and on with the tales of corruption and incompetence, but first, let's take a second and figure out who's in charge:
The change in the Medicare provision underscores a practice that growing numbers of lawmakers from both parties want addressed. More than ever, Republican congressional lawmakers and leaders are making vital decisions, involving far-reaching policies and billions of dollars, without the public -- or even congressional Democrats -- present[emphasis mine].

The corruption scandal involving Republican former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the bribery plea of former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) have prompted calls for a restructuring of lobbying rules and congressional practices that make lobbying easier.

A prime target for changes are the closed-door negotiations known as conference committees, where members of the House and Senate hash out their differences over competing versions of legislation. House and Senate Democrats last week proposed that all such conference committees meet in the open and that any changes be made by a vote of all conferees.

"It happens in the dead of night when lobbyists get a [Republican lawmaker] in the corner and say, 'We've got to have this,' " said Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (Calif.), the Democrats' point man on Medicare issues. "It's a pattern that just goes on and on, and at some point the public's going to rise up."
Considering the results, it's no wonder the Republicans don't want anyone to see what occurs in the darkened conference rooms of the Capitol in the wee hours of the morning.

23 January, 2006

Ford Motors plays "Grinch" to Detroit's Super Sunday

Coming less than 24 hours after the Seattle Seahawks (go 'Hawks!) and Pittsburgh Steelers confirm their reservations to Detroit, the city gets this news:
Ford Motor Co. announced today that it will cut as many as 30,000 jobs and shut down 14 factories to help reverse losses in its troubled North American automotive division.

The restructuring announcement came shortly after Ford reported a higher than anticipated 19 percent increase in earnings for 2005. The results included a pre-tax loss of $1.6 billion in its North American automotive division in the fourth quarter, a decline of $3 billion from 2004.

Ford, which employs about 123,000 workers in North America, lost about $5.5 billion in those North America operations in 2005. The restructuring will eliminate about a quarter of those jobs between now and 2012.

With the job cuts announced today, salary-related costs are being reduced 10 percent in North America with the previously announced reduction of the equivalent of 4,000 salaried positions by the end of the first quarter. The company's officer ranks also will be trimmed 12 percent by the end of the first quarter.

Detroit has been hyping the February 5 Super Bowl as an economic boon for the city. However, any jobs that are created as a result of a successful Super Bowl weekend translating into increased tourism (a big what-if, in my book) are likely to be in the relatively low-wage service sector jobs. This is hardly going to resurrect a city that is still bleeding the good-paying, blue-collar, middle-class factory jobs that the auto industry, and more significantly, the United Auto Workers created during the mid-20th Century.

The Super Bowl was supposed to be a bright spot for Detroit. However, it'll be hard for me to enjoy a game being played at Ford Field knowing that the livelihoods of 30,000 people are about to be cruelly taken in the name of profit.

Tom Cruise: Effing Tool

Wow - if I didn't know better, I'd think really hated Tom Cruise. Check it out: voted the "coldest" (as in opposite of "hottest"), the most irritating, and the tackiest star in Hollywood.

On top of this, he's certifiably batshit insane. Consider his cultish cure for the respiratory ailments of 9/11 rescue workers:
The Scientology devotee has urged emergency services victims to give up their medication and inhalers as part of a 'purification rundown,’ which favors sauna sessions, ingestion of cooking oil and large doses of niacin as cures instead...

But the unorthodox therapy has been slammed as ridiculous and potentially harmful by members of the medical profession, as well as sufferers themselves.

And, taboot, he's a complete asshole:
Tom Cruise has reportedly stopped an episode of South Park that mocks him from being aired in Britain...

According to, Paramount has agreed not to show the episode again, after Cruise complained.

A source tells the site, "Tom is famously very litigious and will go to great lengths to protect his reputation. Tom was said not to like the episode and Paramount just didn't dare risk showing it again. It's a shame that UK audiences will never see it because it's very funny."

Most irritating? Coldest? Tackiest? That's mild. Countless resources are wasted keeping Tom Cruise in the public eye. Fuels to fly him coast-to-coast. Vast amounts of cooking oil for his snake-oil medicine biz. Precious oxygen. He's made a career out of smarminess. Right now, I'm trying to recall that one movie he was in that I really liked...

Oh wait. I've never enjoyed a Tom Cruise movie. Not one. Name one that I might have enjoyed. I don't think you can. But I digress.

Tom Cruise is a fucking tool.

22 January, 2006

The American Taliban

In response to Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball and others saying that Osama and the American left espouse the same goals, Darksyde shows that what's good for the goose is good for the gander:
Strangely, when I visited a blog frequented by GOP apologists this evening, all merrily playing the "Democrats are like bin Laden" sweepstakes, they were shocked, shocked I tell you, when the tables were so easily turned on them. They were outraged :::Gasp:: can you imagine? They were almost speechless when I pointed out the eerie parallels between Osama bin Laden and fundamentalist Islam, and the stated social policy goals of the extremist religious right currently running the so called Republican Party. Nope, they didn't like it one bit.

When the neocons say that Liberals or moderate Republicans are against America and for the terrorists, they could not have it more backwards. The extreme religious rightwing of the GOP is the closest thing to Islamo-fascism we have in our country, and no one is worried that Al Qaeda will be storming ashore on our beaches en masse, invasion style, anytime soon.

I'd savor the irony if it weren't for the fact that the rest of us are in the crossfire.

21 January, 2006

Music to plug

I was lucky enough to get out to see a show last night (a rare occurence these days, what with the little wobs and all). I headed down to John Henry's and witnessed the purifying rock of Dan Jones and the Squids, a fantastic local band (who happen to feature my friend Patty Joe on guitar), and the Dept. of Energy out of Seattle. Both bands deserve your look-see. The Squids are a Crazy Horse powered outfit that add a glorious buzz to Dan's literate vocals, and the Dept. of Energy has a California pop sound that straddles the border between Brian Wilson's most inspired work and the dark brooding of the Doors. Good stuff, to be sure.

Next up for me and mrs. wobs, Jeff Tweedy on February 4th - and we all know how good that's going to be.

20 January, 2006

Dems take one step forward, two steps back

First, the good news out of Chicago is that the Dems are edging towards using the f-bomb:
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced Thursday he will vote against Judge Sam Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court. And he said so many other senators intensely oppose Alito that they may have enough votes to sustain a filibuster against the conservative jurist.

Good on 'em! Enough html code has been spilled on the dangers represented by Alito's extremist views. I'm heartened to see the minority whip moving the Dems away from the roll-over-and-play-dead strategy that a few had floated in the previous week.

But then, I had to go and read this:
Typical was my lunch discussion earlier this week with a ranking Democratic Party official. Midway through the meal, I innocently asked how the "Big Brother is listening" issue would play in November. Judging from his pained reaction, I might as well have announced that Barack Obama was resigning from the Senate to sell vacuum cleaners door-to-door. With exasperation dripping from his voice, my companion said, "The whole thing plays to the Republican caricature of Democrats -- that we're weak on defense and weak on security." To underscore his concerns about shrill attacks on Bush, the Democratic operative forwarded to me later that afternoon an e-mail petition from, which had been inspired by Al Gore's fire-breathing Martin Luther King Day speech excoriating the president's contempt for legal procedures.

First of all, let's not pretend this is about national security. The NSA has the authority to eavesdrop without a warrant, so long as they obtain court approval within 72 hours of the intelligence gathering operation. This about the president being able to do what he wants, when he wants, with no one to tell him otherwise.

And now the Justice Department wants Google to turn over their search records (Yahoo, apparently, has already caved)?

This is a Big. Fucking. Deal. One upon which our democratic rights balance. And the Dems don't want to touch it because it makes them look "soft on security."

Democratic pols are intimidated by corrupt, criminal little shits like Karl Rove preening around saying "We're going to make the War on Terror a central campaign issue." You know what? Let them, because it's been almost four and a half years since the terrorists struck American soil. And their record ain't looking to good, is it? Osama and his lieutenants keep releasing videotapes thumbing their noses at us. We're creating a huge terrorist camp in Iraq. Our policies in the Middle East are radicalizing whole generations of young men and women. And who's been running the show? Republicans. Republicans in the White House. Republicans in the House of Representatives. Republicans in the Senate.

If the Dems don't think they can beat this, we're in a lot more trouble that we previously thought.

RIP: Wilson Pickett

Hard living took its toll, but not before he left us with the gift of soul.

Ride, Sally, ride.

17 January, 2006

Words of wisdom from the wayback machine

On this date in 1961, President Eisenhower delivered his farewell address to the American people with his famous warning:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

If only the citizenry had been wise enough to listen.

I'm getting to like George Clooney more and more

The missus and I got out to see Good Night and Good Luck last evening, and we both enjoyed it immensely.

Now, I see that George Clooney had some choice words upon accepting his Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in Syriana:
Clooney: I want to thank Jack Abramoff, you know, just because-I--I'm the first one out- lets get this thing rolling. I don't know why. Who would name their kid Jack with the last words "off" at the end of your last name? No wonder that guy is screwed up. Ahh-alright I just got bleeped. Thank you very much...

This is getting to be like shootin' fish in a barrel.

16 January, 2006

Finally, someone who's not afraid to call Bush a criminal

I've been saying it for awhile (here, most recently), and finally someone with some clout is saying it loud and proud:
At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes" then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?

I can understand it when people don't jump up and salute when I say that Bush and his cronies are criminals, but this is coming straight from the lips of former Vice President Al Gore. As he makes perfectly clear, this ain't sour grapes. This is a naked power grab; the consequences for our nation are immense.

We've seen George W. Bush's incompetence: a bloody war with unattainable goals, catastrophic indifference to a city inundated by floodwaters, and an economy that could slip into another recession should Osama so much as say "boo!" And now we've seen his self-confessed criminality.

Can we please have our country back now?

15 January, 2006

Bit of a dust-up

The original article that I cited in this post has been scrutinized as needing some work by emptywheel. Near as I can tell, the gist of the original article is right, but the evidence and logic do not necessarily lead to Leopold's exact conclusion. Expect the story to develop further as sources go on record.

14 January, 2006

Stop Alito

Twelve good reasons to oppose Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. What k/o says.

13 January, 2006

War on terror is a fig leaf

If you haven't already, stop buying the canard that 9/11 "changed everything." It didn't. But it sure as hell provided a convenient justification for some activities that were already occuring, like, I don't know, illegally peeking in on the communications of American citizens without a warrant:
The National Security Agency advised President Bush in early 2001 that it had been eavesdropping on Americans during the course of its work monitoring suspected terrorists and foreigners believed to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a declassified document (.pdf).

The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.

In its "Transition 2001" report, the NSA said that the ever-changing world of global communication means that "American communication and targeted adversary communication will coexist."

"Make no mistake, NSA can and will perform its missions consistent with the Fourth Amendment and all applicable laws," the document says.

However, it adds that "senior leadership must understand that the NSA's mission will demand a 'powerful, permanent presence' on global telecommunications networks that host both 'protected' communications of Americans and the communications of adversaries the agency wants to target."

What had long been understood to be protocol in the event that the NSA spied on average Americans was that the agency would black out the identities of those individuals or immediately destroy the information.

But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that's not what happened. On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.

George W. Bush is a criminal. He has violated his oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. He is a domestic enemy to the Constitution. The acts of his administration are high crimes against our nation. He should be impeached.

(and a tip of the old cranial covering to Pope Guilty for spreading the word and having a very sweet username)

12 January, 2006

At last, the WaPo exposes arrogance and criminality!

At last! The Washington Post is finally running a story on how this man has failed upwards, how he has brazenly and repeatedly broken the law, with not even a shred of guilt on his conscience. And it was all published on Wednesday in... the sports pages?
So let's all pile on [Marcus] Vick. His response to being thrown off the team was to drop out of school and announce he'd follow his older brother, Michael, the Atlanta Falcons' Pro Bowl quarterback, to the National Football League. His comment on his dismissal from the team put him near the top of the list of athletes sounding arrogant beyond belief: "It's not a big deal. . . . I'll just move to the next level, baby."

And the truth is that if he can play, he'll be welcome at the next level. Professional sports teams don't care if you've been to jail, been stopped a hundred times for traffic violations, stomped on 10 opponents' legs or made profane gestures at opposing fans (which Vick did at least once this season). They care if you can play. Period.

All of which brings us to an issue that goes well beyond the troubles of Marcus Vick. His story reflects a much larger problem at all levels of sports: the existence of a place that we might call, for want of a better term, "The Land of Never Wrong."

Funny if how you change just the names and details, it could be the story of George W. Bush.

11 January, 2006

George W. Bush's education disaster

Greg Palast blasts No Child Left Behind as the hollow shell of feel-good babble and band-aid measures that it actually is:
New York -- Today and tomorrow every 8-year-old in the state of New York will take a test. It's part of George Bush's No Child Left Behind program. The losers will be left behind to repeat the third grade.

Try it yourself. This is from the state's actual practice test. Ready, class?

"The year 1999 was a big one for the Williams sisters. In February, Serena won her first pro singles championship. In March, the sisters met for the first time in a tournament final. Venus won. And at doubles tennis, the Williams girls could not seem to lose that year." And here's one of the four questions:

"The story says that in 1999, the sisters could not seem to lose at doubles tennis. This probably means when they played

"A two matches in one day
"B against each other
"C with two balls at once
"D as partners"

OK, class, do you know the answer? (By the way, I didn't cheat: there's nothing else about "doubles" in the text.)

My kids go to a New York City school in which more than half the students live below the poverty line. There is no tennis court.

There are no tennis courts in the elementary schools of Bed-Stuy or East Harlem. But out in the Hamptons, every school has a tennis court. In Forest Hills, Westchester and Long Island's North Shore, the schools have nearly as many tennis courts as the school kids have live-in maids.

Now, you tell me, class, which kids are best prepared to answer the question about "doubles tennis"? The 8-year-olds in Harlem who've never played a set of doubles or the kids whose mommies disappear for two hours every Wednesday with Enrique the tennis pro?

This is what happens when you let a president with the intellectual curiousity of a brain-dead rock claim the mantle of "education reformer."

10 January, 2006

Abramoff scandal for dummies

From OrangeClouds 115 (give his website a look-see too):
Image hosted by
So simple.

09 January, 2006

Why should Alito and D.C. Republicans be ashamed?

kos asks the right question:
While conservatives like to pretend that the country is with them, their actions speak louder than words.

If the country is truly with them, why do they have to spin, lie, and frame away the things they truly stand for? Scalito is just the latest in a long history of efforts to hide what they really stand for.

Why indeed?

Today marks the first day of the Senate hearings on confirming Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. We'll give the honors to today's must read post to ask the big question:
The far right wants us to believe that Supreme Court nominee Alito is similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Even though everyone knew Ginsburg was a liberal, she was passed by a vast majority in the Senate. They are both in the mainstream of judicial philosophy, the far right says. So Alito deserves the same treatment because he's "qualified."

So why is Alito so ashamed of his entire career?

Ginsburg IS in the mainstream of judicial philosophy, even though she's clearly a strong liberal. But she never pretended to be anything else. And everything on Ginsburg's resume was something she was proud of. Every group she belonged to, every organization she worked for, every position she staked out on the issues of the day and every promise she made reflected who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, what she stood for and what she believed in.

Did she insist you shouldn't read anything into her work for the ACLU? Of course not; she was proud of that work. Did she insist you shouldn't read anything into her activism over the years, her push for equality among the sexes? Don't be absurd. Did she break her word on solemn pledges made before the Senate? Never.

Nothing could be further from the truth for Alito. He is apparently ashamed of everything he's ever done. Alito boasted on an application for promotion in the Reagan administration about belonging to the racist, Neanderthal-ish Concerned Alumni For Princeton. Now he pretends he can't remember ever belonging to them at all.

Be sure to read the entire post at the link above, and pass it on. These are important questions to ask the swing vote for SCOTUS, the person who will be writing decisions affecting a woman's right to choose, presidential power, and any number of issues that affect our republic and freedoms. Do we want someone on the bench who has had to qualify a loooooooong paper trail of right wing judicial views to make it appear less extreme?

Union-busting asshole

Not only was this prick a top executive for the sociopaths down at Wal-Mart - you know, the ones who'd rather close a store than accept a union; or the ones who, instead of offering their employees decent benefits (or the full-time schedule necessary to access them), encourage them to seek help from the government - he was also using his anti-union zeal as a cover for bilking his buddies in Bentonville to the tune of hundreds of thousands.

As they say, couldn't happen to a nicer guy or corporation.

07 January, 2006

Cry me a fucking river: D.C. mulls smoking ban, WaPo gets all sentimental

This little rant might be due to the fact that I'm an ex-smoker. Or maybe it's because I live in a city that banned smoking in public establishments well over five years ago. Or maybe it's because I watched New York City go smokeless and incredibly, life continued in the drab basement dives.

However, after getting to the end of the Washington Post's fellating of Big Tobacco, I realized that this rant was going to be rocket-fueled by my complete loathing of the up-and-coming pricks who tend to congregate around centers of power like junkies around a dealer. These assholes are made, they got all the right connections after going to all the right schools and have the disposable income to hang out in high end bars in an expensive city. And here's what they think of you:
A patron speaks dismissively (between puffs) of the sort of people who hang out in airport smoking lounges. Rednecks, he calls them. Whatever that means.

Yup, if you can't get your free cocktail while you enjoy a puff in the medallion club before catching your first-class trip over flyover country, you must be a redneck.

Fuck this guy.

And fuck the WaPo for printing this putrid romantic dribble. What's news is that the myth of the sexy smoker was manufactured by Big Tobacco as a ploy to get people hooked. The human interest story isn't that some elitist Beltway prick is going to have to shiver his ass off on a cold D.C. sidewalk in order to feed his habit, it's that thousands upon thousands of lives have been ruined by the greed of tobacco executives.

06 January, 2006

Early favorite for 2006 Asshole of the Year

Pat Robertson wastes no time in establishing himself as a formidable adversary in the competition for 2006's biggest asshole.
(AP) Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land."

"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program "The 700 Club." "You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.'"

Sharon, who ordered Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year, suffered a severe stroke on Wednesday.

It's nothing personal, adds Robertson:
In Robertson's broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, the evangelist said he had personally prayed about a year ago with Sharon, whom he called "a very tender-hearted man and a good friend." He said he was sad to see Sharon in this condition.

So, God is punishing this traitorous jew for giving away what you need to fulfill your wacked-out prophecy, but you're going to miss the lovable scoundrel.

What a load of horseshit. Pat Robertson has cynically exploited millions of decent and sincere Americans to enhance his own power and wealth. His lack of compassion and sympathy for the victims of tragedy, his deigning to claim to know the mind of God - these traits and behaviors reveal him as a hypocritical farce of a real Christian.

05 January, 2006

A Fresh Start

I know I promised a music review for last night, so I'll have to ask your indulgence for one more week - I had to re-format my hard drive, so I've spent a good 5 or 6 hours getting everything back to just so.

And now, on with the show.

04 January, 2006

Abramoff Viewing Guide

Someone was bound to sum up all of the latest Abramoff developments and place them in their historical context, all in a nice neat narrative, and that someone is BriVT.

Funny how this reads like a traditional morality play.

Abramoff Round-Up

First off, does this lobbyist not look like a mobster?
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Gerald Herbert - AP

Here are analyses from the WaPo, the NYT, and the Guardian.

Hell hath no fury...

The snowball continues to roll downhill.

Meet Emily Miller, press handler for Republican big dogs like Tom DeLay and Colin Powell. She was also engaged to one Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff's lobbying partner. They apparently kept no secrets from each other. And Scanlon was stupid enough to run off with his manicurist.

Quoth the Bard: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

And there you have it. If you're going to be committing crimes against the Republic, you shouldn't be a dick. And Scanlon sounds like a real fucking gem:
Scanlon's former colleagues did not speak warmly of him, saying he was not a very likable person because of the way he treated others, and that he later became flamboyant with his newfound wealth.

It's funny how large historical events have extraordinarily inane proximate causes, the matches that light the fuse. Buffoons.

03 January, 2006

Ain't got no soul

My god, the man cannot even remotely begin to feel one tiny iota of sympathy. Even when facing the brave souls who put their bodies and lives on the lines on the basis of his decisions, the only way he can relate is with some sort of lame joke.

I almost feel pity for the man. He's a rich, spoiled brat who was never allowed to fail (indeed, he failed upwards!), was never made to feel hurt. He's lived inside a bubble filled with sycophants who have grubbed their way upward on his coattails and are fleeing as the ship begins to sink.

George W. Bush is unable to feel. He's unable to share in our common humanity. And he covers this up with incredibly lame and insensitive jokes.

How lonely it must be for him. How incredibly terrifying it is for the rest of us.

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Our government, as run by the Bush Crime Syndicate

More and more, Bush is looking less presidential and more Gambino. Sherlock Google lays it all out on Abramoff's links to Bush himself - including Bush firing a federal prosecutor who was supervising a grand jury investigating Abramoff's activities in Guam.

With the Justice Department apparently investigating, this could be explosive.

Rats fleeing the ship

Try this on for a mixed metaphor: that sweet, sweet odor you smell wafting down from D.C. is the shit hitting the fan. Jack Abramoff copped a plea deal today (registration required user/password=dailykos/dailykos). Abramoff is a D.C. lobbyist who made millions greasing the legislative wheels for gambling:
Mr. Abramoff, 46, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion, setting the stage for prosecutors to begin using him as a cooperating witness against his former business and political colleagues. In exchange, Mr. Abramoff faces a maximum of about 10 years in prison in the Washington case.

The conspiracy charge included Mr. Abramoff's effort to influence at least one member of Congress and a Congressional staff member.

The one member of Congress mentioned so far is Bob Ney from Ohio, but Abramoff is also connected with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

The revelations of the corrupt and illegal behaviors of D.C. Republicans are only beginning. 2006 looks to be an ugly year.

02 January, 2006

Hayduke Lives!... in a caricature-y kinda way

In Earth Defense news, two marine wildlife defense organizations are playing Keystone Kops in the icy South Seas. From the Guardian:
A battle for what is being called "the high moral wave" was last night being fought off the wild coast of Antarctica as the world's two leading international marine protection groups fought each other over which would stop the Japanese whaling fleet.

With an international crew of volunteers, a helicopter and a deep warchest, Greenpeace International has sent two boats, the Arctic Sunrise and the faster Esperanza, to the Southern Ocean to stop the Japanese whaling fleet as it tries to catch 900 minke, blue and other whales for "scientific research".

Last night the group, which located and gave chase to the Japanese fleet before Christmas, claimed to have the whalers on the run in mountainous seas peppered with icebergs. "The fleet seems to be running in circles, stopping and going in different directions. It's the sixth day in a row that we have seen no whales transferred to the factory ship. It's unlikely that whaling is being undertaken," said a spokesman.

The animal rights protector Captain Paul Watson, who co-founded Greenpeace in the 1970s and later set up the more radical Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was also in pursuit of the fleet yesterday in his ship, the Farley Mowat. Capt Watson, who accuses Greenpeace of being "the Avon ladies of the environment" and of being more interested in publicity than in enforcing international law, intercepted the Nisshin Maru factory ship on Christmas Day. Each environmental group now accuses the other of endangering lives by trying to ram its vessels.

There's a very intriguing narrative running through this story concerning the tensions between activists who advocate non-violence and those who seek confrontations. However, this inability to work together to achieve commonly held goals demonstrates yet another instance of the Left expending its energy on internecine spats.

R.I.P. - Harry Magdoff

Via The Monthly Review:
Harry Magdoff died in Vermont on Janury 1, 2006.
We will miss him.

“I never expected a socialist America in my lifetime. That doesn't mean that I was smarter than anyone else, but it just wasn't my temperament.

Every summer the Marxist School has a picnic at our place, and after they go swimming and have their food, we sit for several hours and talk under a tree. It's very nice. One person at the end this last time said, “What do you expect, and how can you be the way you are without expecting socialism?”

I said, “I don't know. I don't expect anything particular. But this is the way I am. I can't be any other way. I have to believe that there can be a better world.

Magdoff has been one of my personal intellectual heroes for his work on the logic of empire, particularly The Age of Imperialism. His voice and scholarship will be missed by those of us on the Left.


The Independent (UK) reports on the new year in New Orleans, mentioning the unfortunate long-term legacy of Katrina - the NOLA diaspora:
You need not visit the French Quarter tarot card readers to know this much: New Orleans will emerge a far smaller city than before. Pre-Katrina, about 480,000 people called the Big Easy their home. Some predict that a miracle will be needed to get its rolls back even to 150,000 by the end of this year...

Smaller is one thing, but what about whiter as well? It was the US Secretary of Housing, Alphonso Jackson, who said it first back in September. "New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

Katrina's winds have scattered on of the nation's oldest African-American communities, displacing tens of thousands of people who, despite their often quite low economic status, were connected with a certain pride of place. It is tremendous cultural loss, and it seems to increase the chances of the rebuilt New Orleans being a more humid Las Vegas, coasting on its lost history.

Subcommandante Marcos goes political

After little news from Chiapas (in Mexico) in major Western newspapers for some time, I run across this piece in The Guardian:
The pipe-smoking, balaclava-wearing, but no longer gun-toting leader of Mexico's Zapatista rebel group, subcomandante Marcos, emerged from his jungle hideout yesterday for a six-month nationwide tour to promote a new, non-violent political movement...

The aim of the tour is, according to a recent communique, to "build a national programme of anti-capitalist and leftwing struggle". By dubbing his caravan "The Other Campaign", Marcos made it clear that much of the strategy hinges on rubbishing the July presidential election.

An interesting history of the modern Zapatista movement in Chiapas is available here. It'll be interesting to see the impact of Marcos's re-emergence.

01 January, 2006

Apres moi, le deluge

The NSA domestic spying scandal is beginning to cascade, with new information coming in buckets today. Check out this excellent series of posts by Armando and georgia10 (both law-talkin' folk and grade A bloggers) over at dkos:

Bushco awaits the fate of tyrants.

Happy New Year!

I hope hope you all have a happy, blessed, and prosperous new year. I actually have the feeling it's going to be a good one, on a number of different levels.

BTW - if you haven't already, check out the blogroll. Those links have, hands-down, some of the best writers on the internets, and they deserve a looksee by you. I'm always looking to expand my links, so if you know of other sites that deserve my seal of approval, please let me know.

Again, a very happy new year to you. I think it's time for me to sleep off the champagne.