No Fear of Freedom
Salty langwich spoke here.
Ya been WARNED!
Anti-right rants from an obnoxious lumpen proletarian. Aiming to Arm the Choir.

August 01, 2004

No Shit, Sherm

"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed."
- Herman Melville
All these years later the Repukes have their "thinktanks" workin' overtime to find ways to blame the poor for their plight. They don't work enough, they don't get married enough, they use drugs and alcohol and tobacco (Like they're the only ones.), they have an inferior culture, etc. ad infinitum, cuz the people haters on the right will always find some excuse to blame the poor rather than helping the poor. That's what Puritanism and Calvinism and their various permutations lead to. A sad-ass, sick and twisted version of Christianity.

By dint of stubborn effort, the right wing never considers the possibility of other explanations. Maybe a lot of poor people don't work much because they can't due to "mental" or physical illness. (Mental is physical to me.) It's just possible (Actually, it looks more probable all the time.) that many of the behaviors that right wing whack jobs think cause poverty are actually caused by poverty.

posted 5:44 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 30, 2004

Ain't That Peculiar, Baby?

There were reports not so long ago that Bushco was pressuring Pakistan to capture major terrorist figures before the election, and especially on July 27, 28, and 29. And now this report:

Embassy bombings figure captured in Pakistan
A major al-Qaeda operative, who had a $25 million bounty on his head for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings at U.S. embassies in East Africa, has been captured by Pakistani authorities, federal law enforcement and intelligence officials said Thursday.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, one of the FBI's 22 most wanted terrorists, was arrested in central Pakistan with about a dozen other terror suspects on Sunday, said the officials who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation.
Peculiar as can be. (Hey, it's not my fault my life comes with a soundtrack. Blame my mother. Or Rock and Roll. Or FDR. I don't care.)

posted 7:30 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 29, 2004

More on Repukes Gutting Constitution

Dum Luks posted the following in the comments section regarding the Repukelican House o' Reps attempt to destroy the independent judiciary and all rights for everybody.
Kevin Drum gives the constitution quote which may be interpreted to give congress the power to make 'exceptions' to the judiciary's power.

-- ml

Article 3, Section 2 of the United States constitution outlines the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court:

....In all the other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

I don't know what Drum actually posted, and I'm not sure I care. He worries me. Here is all of Article 3, Section 2:
Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.
Now, II read that as, in part, in all cases where a state is a party, the Supremes have original jurisdiction. I see nowhere where the Congress is given the right to make exceptions or regulations regarding original jurisdiction.

It seems odd to me that it has taken over 200 years for Congress to claim that it can restrict the court in this way. It seem stranger to me that our vaunted "free," "liberal" press is not talking to a bunch of people who are Constitutional scholars. I think a lot of us would be very interested.

If, somehow, this idiocy does stand up, then it's time to change the Constitution, and fast. Don't kid yourself for a second that this is about Gay marriage or Gay rights. This is about everybody's rights. What if the Congress had forbidden the Court to rule in Brown vs. Board of Education? Jose Padilla (as in, kiss habeas corpus goodbye)? Habeas corpus only goes back to at least 1679. But pick any right for anyone. All of a sudden all our rights will be subject to the whims of a majority of the lechislature where, as we know, the biggest lechers are Repukes. And why not? It's easy to be a lecher when you flat don't give a shit about other people.

posted 1:42 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 25, 2004

Be All The Guinea Pig You Can Be

Report: Bigger breasts offered as perk to soldiers
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The U.S. Army has long lured recruits with the slogan "Be All You Can Be," but now soldiers and their families can receive plastic surgery, including breast enlargements, on the taxpayers' dime.
That's quite a perk - if you're dumb enough to let a military doctor do elective surgery on you. My wife has a scar on her belly 12 inches long and an inch wide, and it's jagged. An Air Force surgeon cut her for some female plumbing problem. Army doctors are thought to be worse than Army cooks. The cooks kill only a very few soldiers. The doctors not only kill more, they mutilate the rest. And think about this:
The magazine quoted an Army spokeswoman as saying, "the surgeons have to have someone to practice on."

posted 11:27 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Good Question

What ever happened to conservative Republicans?
by Gerald Plessner

Plessner says we need a new term to describe Republicans because they're obviously not conservative any more. I agree. He suggests the term orthodox. Orthodox what I'm not sure, except in the case of Republican Libertarians, who he would call orthodox Libertarians. I disagree. I like to call them radicals, but in the cases of far right Republicans, the neocons and Bushco, I prefer a stronger term. Fascists. I wouldn't put Libertarians, or libertarians, in that category though. Having read a fair amount about libertarianism, and about as much Ayn Rand as any normal person can stomach, I'm inclined to put Libertarians in a different category. Damn fools. (Hate mail welcomed.)

You don't do the right thing by following the right rules. You do the right thing by looking at each situation and figuring out the most effective way to do the right thing. Rigid rules are a hindrance, not the road to salvation. At any rate, Plessner is right that Republicans aren't conservatives anymore, and they haven't been for a long time. Maybe there's a way to lump them all into one category. How about dickheads?

posted 9:45 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 23, 2004

Why I Hate "Conservatives"

Because they're evil rat bastards, that's why. Decent people don't sign on to this sort of bullshit.

Hysteria, race, and reality, from Orcinus.
The [Seattle] Times also ran columns by noted conservative Henry McLemore, who frequently attacked the presence of Japanese descendants on the West Coast. In one column, headlined, "This Is War! Stop Worrying About Hurting Jap Feelings," McLemore fulminated: "...I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don't mean a nice part of the interior, either. Herd 'em up, pack 'em off and give 'em the inside room of the badlands. Let 'em be pinched, hurt, hungry and dead up against it. ... Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them."
Nowadays, it's Muslims instead, but they were evil motherfuckers then, and they're evil motherfuckers now. They use "pragmatism" as an excuse for the racist bile. Fuck "conservatives." I have no intention of trying to reason with such people. They're not reasonable people. What would be the point?

My only intention is to call evil motherfuckers evil motherfuckers, and, if they dare to attack the decent folks, do all in my power to kick their nasty asses. To paraphrase Sonny Boy Williamson II, motherfuck the motherfuckin' "conservatives." And when I write "conservatives," I mean right wing, fascist, little Dick Cheney heads.

posted 2:32 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Bush Panders To Blacks

Actually I think he's pandering to whites who don't want to think they belong to a racist party. He's gotta know he ain't gonna swing a significant number of black votes.

Bush Urges Blacks Not to Back Democrats
The president suggested perhaps the Democratic Party had started taking black voters for granted.

"I know plenty of politicians assume they have your vote," he said. "But did they earn it, and do they deserve it?"
Did Dems earn it? No. Do they deserve it? No. But its Dems or Repukes, and most blacks would have to be crazy to vote GOP. But check this:
[Bush] did not mention his opposition to affirmative action in a case that touched off opposition in Michigan and nationwide.

In January 2003, Bush asserted that a program of racial preferences for minority applicants at the University of Michigan was "divisive, unfair and impossible to square with the Constitution." He took a position against the program in a Supreme Court case and did it on the birthday of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.

Under the new initiative announced Friday, the administration will seek to expand business ownership among minorities by creating one-stop centers for business training, counseling, financing and contracting.

Bush's Commerce Department (news - web sites), Small Business Administration and other government entities will pool resources to help the Urban League's local offices help minority entrepreneurs.
In other words, affirmative action in education is divisive, unfair and, worst of all, unconstitutional. But affirmative action to expand minority business ownership is perfectly OK! Good thing for Bush that his re-election chances apparently don't depend on his actually making sense. Ya know, I 'bout half-ass understand the whole mythos over logos thing, but logos hasn't taken this kind of pounding in quite some time.

posted 11:11 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 22, 2004

Surprise! More GOP Lies.

How do you tell when the fascist wing of the GOP is lying? Their lips are moving. (That's also how you can tell when the lead singer's off key.)

Cheney Urges Cap on Malpractice Awards
A report by the Department of Health and Human Services found that expenses traceable to legal liability fears contribute between $60 billion and $108 billion a year to the total $1.6 trillion health care bill. Legislation imposing a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages would result in 4 million more people receiving health insurance, according to Congress's Joint Economic Committee.

That would be a savings of 3.75% to 6.75%. Onliest thing is:
An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office said the malpractice bill would benefit physicians and the government but would reduce private health insurance premiums a scant 0.4 percent.

Hmm. Who to believe? The serial liars of Bushco, or the CBO. That's a tuffy.
"The Bush administration largely gets it backwards," said Columbia University law professor and physician William M. Sage. "They say health care is expensive because of lawsuits. I say lawsuits are expensive because of our health care system."
I'm inclined to believe him, too, because Bushco always gets it wrong. WMD? Iraqis welcoming US troops? The cost of the war? How long US troops would be in Iraq? The cost of the Medicare prescription drug bill? This list could go on and on.

posted 5:50 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

House Votes to Destroy Independent Judiciary

House Votes to Curb Same-Sex Marriage

Their headline gets it wrong, mine gets it right. If I had more room I'd have added Removes Annoying Check/Balance That Founding Fathers Foolishly Placed in Constitution.
The House measure, also supported by the administration, offers a different approach. It would forbid federal judges from requiring one state to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed in another.
This is not a new idea. The fascist wing of the Republican Party has pushed other bills that would end the more than two century old idea of an independent judiciary.
"I rise in defense of the Constitution, in defense of the separation of powers," said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat. "What's next? No judicial review of laws that restrict freedom of speech or religion?"


Sensenbrenner said the framers of the Constitution gave Congress power to limit judicial authority.

Saying Thomas Jefferson had voiced "fears about judicial powers being unchecked," Sensenbrenner said, "This bill is a check on judicial power."
I would love to know where in the Constitution Congress is given the power to tell the judiciary what it can and cannot rule on. I can't find it.

I'm pretty happy with lifetime appointments of independent judges who interpret the Constitution. Where I think an extra check on the judiciary should be added is in the confirmation process. It should definitely require a 2/3s vote to confirm any federal judge. That would make it far more likely that fair and moderate judges would be confirmed.

If Congress can tell the judiciary what to do, then we have no check at all, but merely a bureaucracy subordinate to Congress. In that case, kiss all your rights goodbye. Congress will be able to change them whenever they want with a mere majority vote.
While Democrats called the bill unprecedented, backers said Congress had moved before to limit courts' authority on matters from cleaning up hazardous waste to protecting trees.

"If limiting the jurisdiction of the federal courts is good enough to protect trees, shouldn't it be good enough to protect a state's marriage policy?" Sensenbrenner said.
Now this shit really pisses me off. Democrats said. Backers said. How the hell hard would it be for the reporter to find out the truth of the matter and put it in the story? Nothin' but friggin' stenographers. Journalism has devolved into little more than a Satanic joke.

posted 5:17 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Repukes Just Love Black Folk

Report Reveals Bush Administration Has Blocked Court-Approved Payments to Black Farmers
Aggressive legal tactics by the Bush administration have deliberately undermined a landmark 1997 civil rights settlement with African-American farmers, turning the claims process into another chapter in a long history of discriminatory treatment by the US Department of Agriculture.

A report released today by Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) finds that almost nine out of 10 black farmers have been denied compensation for discrimination over USDA crop loans, even though U.S. District Court for the District Columbia -- in approving the settlement -- had described compensation payment as "automatic." Instead the USDA, under the leadership of President Bush's Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, has withheld three-quarters of the $2.3 billion agreed to in the settlement.


The Reagan administration eliminated the USDA's Office of Civil Rights in 1982, leaving African-American farmers no avenue for appealing loan denials they believed to be discriminatory.


Over the past 20 years, the number of farms operated by African-Americans has plummeted from 54,367 in 1982 to 29,090 in 2002 (the suit included 94,000 farmers because many farms have more than one farmer). This dramatic decline, the report concludes, has been due in part to lack of equal access to USDA loans.
Funny how this shit keeps happening to black folks at the hands of Republicans, ain't it? Cute how Ronnie Da Raygun, that wonderful man, eliminated the USDA's Office of Civil Rights. Astonishing how Repukes nevertheless whine constantly about blacks not voting Republican.

posted 1:18 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 21, 2004

American Lives Are The Important Lives

Not long ago I posted about how some Muslims think that non-Muslims are less than human, or at least less than Muslim humans. Just more evidence of the evil nature of Islam. Uh-huh.

Security Remains an Issue, but U.S. Envoy Is Hopeful
On one point, Negroponte was clear: The United States would oppose any effort by the Iraqi interim government to grant amnesty to fighters who have participated in attacks on Americans. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said that the government is working on a broad amnesty proposal for insurgents.

"I would take exception to that," he said when asked how he would respond if the amnesty extended to those who had attacked or killed Americans.

So this administration feels it's OK to grant amnesty to those who've attacked Iraqis, just not to those who've attacked Americans. Because Iraqis are less human relative to Americans. Just more evidence of the evil nature of the fascist (dominant) wing of the Repukelican Party. (My comment about Islam and evil was sarcastic. My comment about the Bush fascists was not. I know you right wingers have a hard time figuring this shit out.)

NOTE: I've been fighting a computer problem the last few days and it really cut into my posting. I think I've got it mostly fixed now.

posted 3:10 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 18, 2004

Sounds Like Bush All Over

Former HBS Prof Blasts Bush

Bush called the film, The Grapes of Wrath, corny. Corny. I think we can fairly assume that he never read Steinbeck's book. It's the response of a man who has no idea what compassion is.
Tsurumi - now a professor of international business at Baruch College in the City University of New York - said he remembers the future president as scoring in the bottom 10 percent of students in the class.


"I always remember two groups of students," Tsurumi said then, according to published reports. "One is the really good students, not only intelligent, but with leadership qualities, courage. The other is the total opposite, unfortunately to which George belonged."

It's only one man's word, but that shoe's sure a nice fit.

posted 8:10 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Conservative Forces Deliver The Goods

Civil Service Has Morphed Into U.S. Inc.
Diminishing the government workforce increases the role of private contractors, and the mixed results go undebated.

Heh. Mixed results is too generous an assessment. Largely unknown results is more like it.
BOSTON — For two decades, Congress has been engaged in a bipartisan effort to shrink the size of government. But today, although fewer people appear on federal payrolls, more people than ever work for the U.S. government.

This seeming paradox has been achieved by hiring private contractors to perform many of the tasks previously performed by federal employees. And although it may not have resulted in a true downsizing of government, it has radically transformed the way public services are provided.
So, the great "conservative" push to "reduce" government has been a wild success. I'm serious. It's had exactly the results they were hoping for: a huge transfer of taxpayer money from government to the "private sector." And let's all just admit, right here, right now, the Democrats are conservatives. The Republicans are the far right.

Nobody represents liberal (Progressive, socialist, whatever. You can call it what you want to, I call it messin' with the kid.) goals on economic issues. That's why the Dems have lost the working class. And the reason is money. Dems want to tap into that same motherlode the Repukes have: The wealthy elites. They figure they can get away with social "liberalism" as long as they don't challenge the wealthy on the issues they truly hold near and dear. That was the DLC plan, and look how well it's worked. The Dems will be lucky to ever get back in power.
Nobody knows exactly how many contractors the government employs. Paul Light of the Brookings Institution estimates that the federal budget funds a "shadow government" of nearly 6 million contractors, about half of them in defense. That means contractors outnumber civil servants and military personnel by a ratio of 2 to 1.


Second, does the taxpayer get value for money? One of the main reasons for outsourcing is that the private sector is widely assumed to be more efficient. But in Iraq, much of the $21 billion being spent on reconstruction is going to high-priced foreign contractors rather than low-cost local labor. As Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) has pointed out, non-Iraqi contractors charged $25 million to repaint 20 police stations — a job that the governor of Basra claims could have been done by local firms for $5 million.
I'd be willing to bet that we don't get value for money. Between the profit margins demanded and the rampant fraud in government contracting, I can't see how the contractors can be more efficient from the point of view of the taxpayer.
Finally, how should this large and growing army of workers be managed? The rules governing how and what the government buys are designed to ensure fair competition. But more than half of government contracts are awarded without full competition, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget analyst. Giant contractors have become adept at gaming the system. Once firms win big contracts — often using low-ball initial cost estimates — the government becomes so dependent on their services that it's almost impossible to get rid of them.
This privatization idiocy coupled with the deregulation idiocy is laying waste to America. People seem to think there was never any reason for regulations or government agencies. They seem to think they were forced on unwilling voters by evil liberals like Teddy Roosevelt and FDR. They've apparently never read American history other than that they found in their approved text books. Where has deregulation helped the small consumer? Not in Pennsylvania, sure as hell not in California or the Northwest. Dennis Kucinich was practically run out of Cleveland for refusing to privatize the city electric utility. He later returned as a hero after people saw that he had absolutely done the right thing, and saved them money.

People really need to hold their collective breath until Bush Bum's voluntary pollution controls kick in and people stop getting seriously sick and even dying from air pollution. Only they can't, cause they ain't never gonna kick in. Voluntary regulations are idiotic, no surprise in Bush's case. If it was something they were gonna do voluntarily anyway, no one would've suggested regulation.

And privatization is almost certainly costing us more money for less service. It sure ain't savin' us any money. So what was the point? Oh, yeah, to put more money in the pockets of the rich. It's only right. After all, they own the government.

posted 7:12 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 17, 2004

Bush Must Be A Magician

Bush Extends Debate on Values to Children
Drug use and violent crime among teenagers have decreased dramatically, while children raised in households with married parents are less likely to live in poverty, the president said Saturday in his weekly radio address. He cited a newly issued government report to claim progress.

"My administration is acting to encourage teens to make healthy choices," Bush said.


The report Friday by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics said family life, education and health of America's children are generally improving, though child poverty has risen for the first time in a decade. Teenage smoking has declined, as have teen birth rates.
And Bushy Boy's takin' credit for all this. But:

U.S. teen birth rate hits record low in '02
Twenty-three girls per 1,000, ages 15 to 17, gave birth in 2002, a decrease of 40 percent since 1991, according to the report. Births among girls ages 18 to 19 also dropped to historic lows. The largest decreases were among black teens, who once had the highest rates.
So teen birth rates declined at an average of 3.33% per year from 1991 to 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available. In 2001, they declined by 8%, which is a chunk but I don't see how Bush could have had anything to do with it. In 2002, they declined by 5.5%, also quite good, also not enough time for Bush to have anything to do with it. What, did he save our children with the sheer magic of his magnetic personality?

The Bushies will try to make you imagine that the other stats, violence, drugs, alcohol, make a bit better case for Bush, but I don't see how. Don't programs take a while to set up and a while longer to have an effect? Has Bush even started any, or is he just promising to? I'm sure he's claimin' credit for someone else's work here.

posted 4:16 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Damned, Anti-Values Hollywood Liberals

Then there's them pro-family values Republicans:

Sex pros get ready for party
With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party. Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden.


Clubs have started booking private parties for delegates anxious to ogle topless beauties after a day of watching fully clothed politicians boast about family values.

"We have our show down to a science," said Lonnie Hanover, a spokesman for Scores, the upscale topless club. "We'll be full every night with what we think are the best-looking girls in the industry."
Tip O'The Tam to Omnium.

posted 8:54 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

GOP's War on Workers Continues

NLRB Nixes Unions for Graduate Students, posted at From the Trenches, shows how much the Repukes and their NLRB care about basic human rights. The right of workers to organize is considered fundamental to democracy in less fascist parts of the world.

posted 7:28 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Any Lie At All -- Fox "News"

FOX guest cited phantom poll to blast NAACP and boost Bush
From the July 15 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume:

ANGLE: Let me ask you first, in your view was the president right or wrong to pass an opportunity to speak?
WOODSON: He was absolutely correct in passing this up opportunity.
WOODSON: And his [chairman of the board of the NAACP, Julian Bond] vilification of the president really does a disservice to the organization, forgetting that 83 percent of blacks no longer look to the NAACP for leadership. And I think that ...
ANGLE: Now where does that figure come?
WOODSON: Well, there are some figures -- there are some surveys done when the black community was asked.
But Media Matters For America couldn't find any such poll.  They did find a different poll:
On the other hand, polls show that black Americans hold the NAACP in high esteem. A 2003 poll by Black America's Political Action Committee found that 83 percent of African American registered voters view the organization favorably, compared with only 8 percent who view it unfavorably. The same poll also showed that NAACP president and CEO Kweisi Mfume is among black America's most respected leaders: 44 percent of respondents view him favorably, compared with only 6 percent who view him unfavorably.
Idd'n that interesting.  Right wingers're constantly claiming the NAACP doesn't represent black interests (Guess who they think does represent blacks.) and they trot out their tame, and well-paid, black conservatives to "prove" it.  The guy goes on TV and cites poll results without being prepared to cite his sources. 
Isn't that stupid?  Not really.  They know they won't get much criticism in the mainstream media and they know that good little right wing acolytes don't need proof, they just need someone who's allegedly authoritative to say something that sounds authoritative, good little fascist sheep that they are.  If you haven't checked out MMFA, ya should.  They look to me to be doin' yeoman's work in exposing right wing lies in the media.

posted 7:08 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

The "Liberal" Media's Double Standard

Cable coverage of Whoopi Goldberg's v. Dennis Miller's remarks: 19-2
In the July 15 edition of The Washington Post, Leiby quoted Miller: "Those two cannot keep their hands off each other, can they? ... I think I have a new idea for a new campaign slogan -- use the bumper sticker 'Hey, Get A Room.' "
So Whoopi compares Bush to bush and her jokes are used to denounce both she and Kerry for going beyond the pale and she's fired by Slim-Fast. 
Media Matters for America reviewed FOX News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN primetime coverage of the hours between 5 pm and 11 pm on July 15, and found that the three cables addressed Whoopi Goldberg's remark a total of 19 times: three times on CNN (once on Lou Dobbs Tonight and twice on Anderson Cooper 360), three times on MSNBC (once on Deborah Norville Tonight and twice on Scarborough Country), and 13 times on the FOX News Channel (five times on The Big Story With John Gibson, three times on Special Report with Brit Hume, once on FOX Report with Shepard Smith, twice on The O'Reilly Factor, and twice on Hannity & Colmes).
In contrast, Dennis Miller's comments were addressed only twice: once on MSNBC and once on CNN. FOX News Channel never reported the story. On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL) mentioned Miller as a counterexample to Goldberg, but did not address Miller's implication of a homosexual attraction between Senators Kerry and Edwards, instead focusing on Miller's jabs at other prominent Democrats. Only CNN Crossfire co-host Paul Begala, speaking on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, brought the issue into the spotlight, saying:

BEGALA: I think it's an interesting example of the double standard in the media. Whoopi Goldberg apparently told some jokes people didn't like. I didn't hear them, don't even know what they are and everybody got their panties in a wad and here's this big corporation fires her. Meanwhile yesterday, Dennis Miller at a Bush rally basically implies that John Edwards and John Kerry are gay, then attacks my pal James Carville for the way that he looks and nobody says anything. I doubt CNN has even covered that story today at all. So why is it that a liberal comedian can make fun of President Bush, but she gets fired from her job? A conservative comedian makes really nasty sexual innuendoes about Kerry and Edwards and nobody says anything. So it's a double standard.
There goes that liebrul media again.  Truth is our only defense against fascist propaganda and manipulation, but will a significant number of Americans ever hear the truth again?

posted 6:18 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 16, 2004

How Madness Masquerades As Sanity

I'm not sure I like the title of this piece, but I sure like what it talks about.
U.S.: Patriotic Pride and Fear
While some critics of US President George W Bush have charged that his administration is pursuing policies of madness, such a charge is clinically incorrect, but it may convey an extraordinarily disturbing reality. Both an eminent psychologist and a noted political scientist perceive a particularly virulent social pathogen as the basis for much of the present global strife, with Washington at the center of the epidemic.
   And noted political scientist Dr Michael Parenti told Asia Times Online that he agrees. Parenti - who received his PhD in political science from Yale and is the award-winning author of 18 books - noted that "there's a concern that we're tending towards fascism, or we're replicating fascism today". The way in which fascism is defined is key.

    Parenti sees fascism as a tool employed by ruthless power elites to achieve their ends. "And what they've learned in the more than 80 years since its [fascism's] origin is that they can achieve many of these things - more securely perhaps - while retaining a democratic veneer.

    "The essence of fascism, I believe, is in its output. And its output is a system which systematically redistributes wealth from the many to the few, and ensures the domination of giant cartels over the whole political economy," Parenti said. By eliminating the traditional fascist symbolism and mannerisms, by putting white gloves on it, if you will, Parenti sees the use of "plain old Americanism" as the "cloak around which people will rally and give the president these extraordinary powers, and surrender their own liberty and the like".
Ya oughta read the rest.  Erich Fromm, R.D. Laing, and more get involved.  I'm not sure what good it does us to know this stuff, but it is good to know that "truth is one of the strongest weapons of those who have no power."
Many thanks to commenter Jeff for the tip.

posted 11:34 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 15, 2004

How To "Bias" The News

One Man's Flip Is Another Man's Flop , from CJR's Campaign Desk.

The Bush campaign has been remarkably successful at getting the press to buy the notion that John Kerry is a flip-flopper.
And this despite the fact that it can be, and has been, thoroughly documented that Bush is the flip-flopper-in-chief. The incredible pro-Republican bias of the media can only be explained if it is the result of a giant conspiracy. Well, actually, no. You can't maintain a conspiracy that big. Campaign Desk touches on part of the explanation.

This isn't because the press is "biased" in favor of Bush. Rather, it's because the press is biased towards pre-existing storylines -- and because it allows itself to be unduly swayed by negative attacks made by the campaigns. If the GOP is more aggressive than the Democrats in drawing reporters' attention to possible instances of their opponent flip-flopping -- and they are -- then those instances will receive more press attention. Thus the press ignored Bush's about-face, both because Democrats haven't made an issue of it, and because it doesn't fit the accepted image of the president as "strong but stubborn."

But it would be nice if reporters did a little spadework themselves, instead of waiting for their daily bulletins from the spinners.
In other words, reporters are lazy.  That ain't it either.  The Columbia Journalism Review has the real story. A tale of the decline of a formerly great newspaper as written by an award winning reporter who was there. What's Become of the PROJO's Mojo? Why I Quit. If you care at all about why the media is such a mess today, read the whole story. It's a tale that's been repeated at nearly every corporate owned daily in the country.

The short version is they cut the shit out of the reporting staff and editors started treating reporters like drones, telling them what they would cover instead of asking them what they were working on. When five reporters on a beat are replaced by three, and three are replaced by one, sumpin's gotta give, y'all. Ya know, like spadework.

Yer on deadline and overworked, it's just a lot easier to repeat whatever the campaigns or the government spokesman are saying. Re-writing press releases is a helluva lot easier than doing in depth reporting. Pre-existing story lines save a lot of time too. Investigative reporters have all but disappeared, partly, maybe mostly, due to pressure to improve the corporate bottom line.

Add to this the PR firms working behind the scenes, the right wing think tanks and publications, and all the rest of the propaganda apparatus funded by right wing billionaires and corporations, and you can see how a reporter with very little time to check facts or dig deeper into the press release he's been handed will end up just regurgitating the right wing line.

posted 11:27 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Wow! A Democratic Economic Decision.

Gas wealth fuels populist experiment in Bolivia

SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA – For centuries, Bolivian laborers toiled to unearth silver, gold, and tin, only to see most of the wealth benefit a small number of elites and foreigners.
On Sunday, this poor landlocked Andean nation will try something novel: Voters will decide whether to nationalize the country's 55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the third-largest reserve in the region. It's the first time Bolivians will have been consulted on how to exploit the nation's buried assets.
And all it took was for the country to be so close to violent revolution by the poor that the elites are scared shitless.  Kinda how things were in the US during the depression.  Is that what it takes to get the people to stand up for themselves?

posted 10:40 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Illinois Goes Democratic

And over, of all things, cultural issues.  I used to have parents-in-law from Illinois who were rock-ribbed Republicans.  You can imagine how thrilled they were with me.  One time my father-in-law, a devout Catholic who never used foul language, called me the worst epithet he could think of.  "Oh," he said,  "you're a free thinker."  I'd never heard that phrase used as a curse before. 
Like a surprising, to me, number of people, they were Repubs because they were born Repubs.  There are Dems like this too, people who seem to think their political party and their vote are determined the same way as their religion and nationality.  You vote for the party you're born into.  Period.  But it seems Illinois is losing its religion.
Suburb shift turns state blue

Of course, much of the change is due to that social liberalism.  I used to get that crap from elitest reporters all the time.  "Oh, I'm socially liberal, but fiscally conservative."  As if they were incapable of understanding that what they were really saying was, "It's wrong to mistreat people because of their race or sexual orientation, but fuck the poor."
Oh well.  I'll take it.  Not voting for Repukes is at least a step on the road.

posted 10:23 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Columbine Father's Petition Drive

I am writing to you and a few other bloggers asking for help. My name is Tom Mauser and my son Daniel was killed at Columbine High School. If we don’t stand up to President Bush and the NRA right now, the assault weapons ban will expire and AK47s and Uzis will be back on our streets.


Here is what you can do to help:

1) Sign my petition to extend the assault weapon ban:
When you sign up, we will automatically create a bloggable Personal Petition Page.

2) Link to your Personal Petition Page from your site and encourage your readers to sign up. Our special petition software will show you the number of people that sign up because of your effort, and even generate a map showing how the supporters are distributed across America.


Help honor the legacy of my son and prove that bloggers can make a difference!

Thank you,
Tom Mauser
Not that extending the assault weapons ban is unimportant, but the most important line in Tom Mauser's email is ". . . prove that bloggers can make a difference!" I'm a little worn down right now. The lies go on and on and on. Not just the politicians, but the media spin masters called pundits, reporters, astroturf campaigns . . . don't even get me started on TV news. TV news is to information what GW Bush is to honesty. Like Neil Young said, "Rust never sleeps." But I have to.

I feel like every campaign from now on will start from the premise that the candidate who best distorts reality wins, and the American people will be the losers. Yeah, I know that's not completely new, but the awful level it has descended to is unprecedented, and I doubt it's ever going to crawl out again. Still, to have any chance of ever making this government serve the interests of the majority instead of the elites, we've got to prove we can move voters. This is one way to do it. Here's the link to my petition page. I've also added it to the sidebar. I hope other bloggers will use the link in Tom's email to add their blogs to the fight.

posted 9:38 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Thatcherism (And Reaganism) Kills

Inequality Kills You
In fact, inequality in status leads to higher stress for those with less power and status, so argues a new book, Status Syndrome: How Your Social Standing Directly Affects Your Health and Life Expectancy.

I've made that argument meself and now Nathan Newman helps back me up.

posted 2:04 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

This Was The Right Thing To Do

Passengers Give Troops First-Class Seats


posted 1:41 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 14, 2004

Any Lie At All -- The NY Post

New York Post rewrote 2000 election history Like they're the only ones.
A July 12 New York Post editorial informed readers that there was no evidence Florida voters were disenfranchised in the 2000 presidential election. The paper -- owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch -- editorialized: "There is no credible evidence that a single voter was disenfranchised in 2000 for any reason whatsoever. Not one."

But a June 2001 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report documented the widespread disenfranchisement of African American voters in Florida in the election. The report found that a disproportionate number of spoiled ballots originated from African American voters and that the misuse of felon purge lists had a similarly disproportionate impact on African American voters. The report concluded:

Accordingly, the Commission is duty bound to report, without equivocation, that the analysis presented here supports a disturbing impression that Florida's reliance on a flawed voter exclusion list, combined with the state law placing the burden of removal from the list on the voter, had the result of denying African Americans the right to vote. This analysis also shows that the chance of being placed on this list [of felons ineligible to vote] in error is greater for African Americans. Similarly, the analysis shows a direct correlation between race and having one's vote discounted as a spoiled ballot. In other words, an African American's chance of having his or her vote rejected as a spoiled ballot was significantly greater than a white voter's. Based on the evidence presented to the Commission, there is a strong basis for concluding that section 2 of the VRA [Voting Rights Act] was violated.

posted 5:29 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

It Sure Disgusts Me

Also via Brad DeLong:
Matt [Yglesias] is bewildered, perhaps because he read Max Weber's Politik als Beruf at too early an age, found it convincing, and cannot conceive of people who approach politics not as a way to fight for a better world but as an arena for self-expression. If he could grasp that today's Naderite left is concerned with little other than striking an aesthetically correct oppositional stance, he would be less bewildered (but, I think, more disgusted).
Just more friggin' elitists, in this case politically (or aesthetically) correct elitists. Another way to say, "I'm better than you." OK, we all have that tendency, but when that tendency leads you to assist in the destruction of America well, sorry, I can't just let it go. It's way past time for the Naderites to rejoin reality.

posted 4:28 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Giving Bushwa The Benefit Of The Doubt

From Michael Isikoff via Brad DeLong:
The CIA official quickly responded: "Let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say," he wrote. "The Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about."
The benefit of the doubt in this case amounts to, "Yeah, I believe that in the run-up to the war the Administration might have been so certain it was right that it was unwilling to hear the truth." Which hardly amounts to saying, "Oh, well that's OK, then."

Did they lie or were they delusional? Ever the question, though I don't know why. It's certainly one or the other, and the one's just as bad as the other. How in the hell can anybody vote for this guy?

posted 4:13 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

July 11, 2004

Real Good News - Union Division

I'm sick to death of "leftists" and "progressives," who know about as much about the labor movement as your average ignorant, half-wit right winger, dumping on unions. The AFL-CIO has started a community affiliate organization, Working America, for non-union folks. From the NYT, via Nathan Newman:
The A.F.L.-C.I.O. quietly began this effort last year in two cities and has expanded it to a total of 400 canvassers in 10 cities, including Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Tampa, Fla. The aim is to enlist one million nonunion people to join the labor federation's new community affiliate, Working America. Thousands of people who have signed up have joined hands with union members to send President Bush letters and e-mail messages opposing changes in overtime rules and urging an end to tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs overseas.

"We've got about 400,000 members," said Karen Nussbaum, a longtime A.F.L.-C.I.O. official who has been named executive director of Working America. "We're adding about 20,000 members every week. It's really explosive."


"Given their steady decline in representing workers, it's not surprising that the union movement has turned to a nontraditional way to expand its reach," said Randel Johnson, vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits at the United States Chamber of Commerce. "Time will tell how effective this is. However, it does reinforce the reality that the traditional benefits of the union movement are no longer appealing to workers."
Yeah buddy, way to lie your ass off. Now explain this:
She said the time was opportune to create Working America, because for the first time in years opinion polls show that most Americans would like to join a union, but many are unable to do so because of intense opposition by employers.

Unions have been severely damaged not by their own mistakes and flaws, though they certainly have flaws and have made mistakes, but by a sharp rightward turn in government that has turned labor law intended to help unions into a weapon for destruction of unions. In the last two decades unions have tried, and generally failed, to find a way around that hard reality. Now, I think the AFL-CIO may have hit on the right strategy. We have got to organize and educate people. We have got to help the Dem Party realize that they will always be the ugly stepsister to the Repukes when it comes to the wealthy elites and corporate money. Politicians want power, that's their main thing. Really, there's not much point in being a politician if you don't have power. We have got to show the Dems that we can deliver that power with large numbers of people, votes, instead of money, though we can probably come up with a fair amount of money as well.

It's all about organizing. How many of you "left-of-center" types who bash unions are doing any organizing? Every organizer I've ever met or read about, and I'm including community organizers, has been pro-union. Even in its weakened condition, the labor movement has an organizing framework from which to begin.

In one of his last messages from his death row cell, Joe Hill sent a telegram to fellow Wobbly "Big Bill" Haywood. The message would emerge as a rallying cry for workers and protestors for generations to come:

"Don't waste time mourning. Organize!"

UPDATE: Service Employees International Union is doing the same thing with Purple Ocean.

posted 7:39 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Had Enough Horseshit Yet? A "Booming" Economy.

Nathan Newman links to a commentary by Stephen Roach, of the notoriously left wing firm Morgan Stanley. Roach argues that the jobs created in this "recovery" have skewed largely toward the low wage sectors. I know, this is supposedly still arguable. But Roach also notes:
An even more dramatic picture of the quality of recent job growth emerges from the survey of households. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the count of nonfarm persons at work part time — both for economic and non-economic reasons — increased by 495,000 over the February to June 2004 interval. That amounts to an astonishing 97% of the cumulative increase of 509,000 in total nonagricultural employment as captured by the household survey over this period.
Ya might wanna read that again. Fully 97% of nonagricultural jobs created were part time. Remember what the Repukelicans so desperately want to say, and in one case did say. "It's the booming economy stupid." And we supposed to say, "Thankya, massa Bush."

Newman concludes with:
This "recovery" is like no other in post-WWII history. Job growth is anemic and the jobs created generally stink. Profits are soaring, wages are stagnant, and benefits are being slashed.
Hmm, what's happened since WWII? Oh, I know! I know! America's moved way far to the right.

I don't have much more respect for the Democratic Party's leadership and pols than I do for Repukes. They're both tools of the wealthy elite. But I have quite a bit more respect for the Dems rank and file. The Dems can be changed for the better because of them, and the far right has provided a map for how to do it. And no, it doesn't involve voting for Nader or the Greens. Starting after the defeat of Goldwater in 1964, they worked their asses off to change the once relatively respectable Republican Party into the deranged (Supply side economics?), Confederate flag waving, NAACP snubbing Repukelican Party we know and hate today.

They did it by working from the inside, capturing county chairmanships, delegate slots, school board seats, etc. I think the same thing can be done with the Democratic Party. Republicans were moved far to the right and the Dems moved right with them, effectively moving the center much farther to the right. We can move the Dems to the left. At least, we sure as hell better try. This is a two party system, which I hate, but if it's ever gonna change, one of the major parties will have to change it. There just isn't any other way. And holding your progressive nose and voting Democratic is where it starts, but it's not where it ends.
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The Me What I Am

I took the name Phaedrus from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Not that I'm as smart as that Phaedrus, but I am a ghost. Sort of.

I started doing odd jobs at a motel when I was 14.
I lasted one day at a McDonald's, quit,
lasted a lot longer at Taco Bell.
I've been a gas station attendant,
janitor, die cast production worker,
day laborer,
course maintenance at a miniature golf course,
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cabbie, statistical clerk,
pool cleaner, working homeless
for a few weeks
(day labor),
and several other things I can't remember.
And I've survived.
Sort of.
I'm not a Marxist, but I am a genuine member of the lumpen proletariat.

Largely paraphrasing the secular saint Woody Guthrie: "This shit is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 000000 (cuz this part's not true), for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught using it without my permission, will be considered mighty good friends o' mine, cause I don't give a dern. Publish it. Twist it. Rewrite it. Swing to it. I wrote it, that's all I wanted to do."

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