Category Archives: politics

yaay EFF & Georgia senatorial candidate

Of course, it’s never surprising when the EFF takes on the most challenging issues in technology law, but it was particularly gratifying to see them arguing to overturn the odious telecommunications immunity passed last year. The Machinist at Salon — a blog I’ve been appreciating more and more lately — has a great summary & recap of the issue.

And two for two for Salon.com today, because Glenn Greenwald, who now also blogs for Salon, highlighted today something that did surprise me: Georgia Democratic Senatorial candidate Jim Martin’s principled critique of that legislation.

Go figure. Political candidates can surprise me with something other than the depths of their ignorance and/or pandering and/or willingness to lie outright.

disappointed in dahlia

Ah, generally I am always happy to read a Dahlia Lithwick piece. She’s insightful, and a clear writer. But she blew it on her recent piece on affirmative action, “The Downsides of Diversity: What Clarence Thomas might have to say about Sarah Palin” (Newsweek; Slate, 2008/8/29).

In the article, she reminds the reader, bemused by McCain’s obviously demographically-influenced selection of Palin as his VP candidate, of Clarence Thomas’ position on affirmative action. Thomas has repeatedly excoriated affirmative action as a humiliation for its intended beneficiaries, placing a permanent mark of stigma on them. He couches his opinions in the strongest language possible, deliberately echoing the stirring phrases that condemned the injustices of segregation and Jim Crow.

Lithwick then looks at Palin’s selection by the McCain campaign, and her treatment both by the campaign and the media at large. No surprise that she observes that this appeal to diversity is better called tokenism, and correctly equates tokenism with (in this instance) sexism. The irony of the Republicans’ copping to the language of diversity is not lost on her, as she observes, “[Diversity is] certainly a noble goal, but it’s one most conservatives have disparaged for decades.”

And then the conclusion:

Liberals inclined to blindly support affirmative action would do well to contemplate the lessons of Sarah Palin and Clarence Thomas. Although the former exudes unflagging self-confidence and the latter may always be crippled by self-doubt, both have become nearly frozen in a defensive crouch, casualties of an effort to create an America in which diversity is measured solely in terms of appearance.

Ah. Oh, no. Christ. This completely confuses the actual goals of affirmative action and diversity with conservative critics’ misapprehension of those goals.

The effort to measure diversity solely in terms of appearance — that’s the conservative myth about diversity. And McCain’s gambit exemplifies the conservative myth about affirmative action: substituting “diversity” concerns for good judgment and a well-rounded selection process that is merit-based. This kind of diversity is better described as an ugly tokenism. It’s certainly not affirmative action, a process of selecting qualified candidates by including considerations of past discrimination that may disguise actual abilities, experience, and potential; as well as considerations of the larger social realities of the harms and goods that flow from perpetuating or failing to remedy past discriminatory behaviors.

As my partner observed, no wonder conservatives hate affirmative action, if they think this is what it is.

But I’m disappointed to see Dahlia Lithwick accepting this strawman’s affirmative action.

energy “expert” à la William Carlos Williams

Sarah Palin recently made a strange and nearly incoherent comment about US energy policy when asked about keeping domestic oil production in the US (WarRoom 9/19):

Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans who get stuck holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It’s got to flow into our domestic markets first.

WarRoom linked to Obsidian Wings’ interpretation of this comment, which appears to be (mostly) a suggestion that Congress would ban exports of oil. There’s good analysis of why this is a bad idea — such a bad idea that it really ought to be obvious to our energy “experts”.

Of course, according to McCain, his VP candidate is an expert (but not one of those elitist experts) who “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America”, probably because her state is in charge of producing 20% of the nation’s energy needs — no, that’s not right: 20% of the nation’s oil and gas production — no, not quite: 20% of the nation’s oil? — no, try again: around 18%, but falling to 13% during the first two years of Palin’s gubernatorial administration. Yes, there we go. Which is of course a decent amount, if only the McCain team didn’t lie about it.Gary Farber’s comment on same post.

Anyway, MaryL on the comments thread had this retake which I thought deserved a bit more attention:

This is Just to Say

I have flagged
the molecules
that were in
Alaska

and which
you were probably
saving
for Canada

Forgive me
they were fungible
so sweet
and so cold

Chortle. I love WCW and literary mashups and political absurdity — to have all together at once made a very pleasant start to a Saturday otherwise full of work.

wtf with st. paul?

This is un-fucking-believable: Amy Goodman and producers were arrested at the RNC protests. Arresting an award-winning journalist for inquiring about her arrested producers. The video of Goodman’s arrest (“Update II”) should be watched along with the SF Chronicle‘s interview of her on her release (“Update VII”). See also Washington Post. An AP reporter was arrested later, and there were various other police actions against journalists.

Glenn Greenwald said at the beginning of this column:

Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 — with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations.

See also this video of a peaceful protester being tear-gassed at close range (second video; at pharyngula).

As with the Chicago DNC in 1996, and many other political party meetings in the intervening years, activists’ homes were raided before the protests began.

Reporting of interest:
* Glenn Greenwald at salon.com
* The Revolution Will Be Twittered – firedoglake / jane hamsher
* raid on an anarchist art production in a theater – The Uptake
* ColdSnap Legal Collective – updates on arrests etc.
* house arrests of journalist group “iwitness”
* interview with st. paul officials – mayor, chief of police, police PR
* Minnesota Independent coverage
* cell phone video of police firing what may be smoke bombs & in general acting like the protesters are enemy combatants — following after a retreat
* “inside an RNC raid” – a house of legal observer coordinators was raided & folks detained.

escapist reading about our “leaders”

an upsetting day. so, reading the news.

Farewell to the crown, farewell, the velvet gown, won’t you all come tumbling down? Goodbye to the crown! (Chumbawamba, “Farewell to the Crown”)

Nepal votes out their monarchy and institutes a republic. Gyanendra has to vacate the palace within two weeks or face eviction. Also, he had to start paying his own electric bills a while back. Ha ha, I love that. It is balm to my troubled soul. The palace building will be turned into a museum.

The NYT also reports that former Illinois governor George Ryan, with six years left on his prison term for racketeering and fraud, will seek executive clemency from Bush.

The lawyer, James R. Thompson (also a former Illinois governor), said any larger purpose in the conviction and sentence of Mr. Ryan, 74, had been served. “The man has gone from being the governor of the state of Illinois to being a prisoner in a federal penitentiary,” Mr. Thompson said, later adding: “His career is gone. His reputation is gone.”

Ah if only that were the standard for all prisoners. Anyway I will say that Ryan did a good thing by ordering a moratorium on the death penalty after learning of wrongful convictions.

And, finally, the NYT reports on McCain’s use of Bush for fundraising:

Despite the efforts by the McCain camp to keep at arm’s length a president with an approval rating stalled at 28 percent, it is worth remembering that that 28 percent can be fiercely loyal and often wealthy. … “He is very popular with high-dollar donors,” [conservative economist] Mr. Bartlett said of the president.

updated 5/29: Also this note on how the presidential fundraising travel expenses get billed:

By blending official events with party fundraising, Bush dramatically reduces the cost of presidential travel that’s charged to the political campaigns. Taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab.

how eliot spitzer could help us all

Eliot Spitzer could help us all, right now, by not resigning. It would do a huge favor to the ordinary non-politician people who have to live in America to resist the stupidity of letting the personal sex lives of our politicians affect our government. He could show a little “leadership” to his peer politicians in this respect.

He’s fought corporate greed and malfeasance. Will he also fight the utter fucking triviality and hypocrisy that infests American politics?

… 2008/03/14: no, of course not.

2010/11/04: I was interested to read this review of the new documentary, ‘Client 9’, about the Eliot Spitzer takedown. The reviewer, O’Hehir, describes it as, “an act that in retrospect looks an awful lot like a political assassination.” Ya think?

bushwreck

an article about another bushwreck: how bush wrecked conservatism

and the ongoing bushwreck of the US government’s trustworthiness as a source of information, and its government policy on the environment, all in one: Washington Post on the bowdlerization of a speech about global climate change, transforming it, basically, into “yaay for the public health benefits of global warming!”

bushwreck“: my favorite new neologism which i just made up right now. succinct, self-explanatory, and redolent of other two-syllable words like “bullshit” and “tranwreck”.

The Republican Shuffle

Following hot on the heels (ahem) of Larry Craig, another Republican politician got caught seeking a little bathroom action, leading to more denials and resignations etc. My partner Michele has dubbed this “the Republican shuffle”. (She’s good with naming things. You should see some of her reagent names. <g>)

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to just jot down sex scandals of hypocrites. They’re coming fast & furious and this is just what I can remember or noted in the past few weeks.

2007 ongoing – the DC Madam Scandal. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey clients include:
* David Vitter (Republican Sen. from Louisiana) – dressed in diapers !!!
* Randall Tobias (Republican official; “AIDS czar”; administrator of US Agency for International Development) – resigned April 27, 2007

February:
* Feb. 27: Zachary Daubenmire, son of David Daubenmire (founder of “Pass the Salt Ministries” and “Minutemen United”) convicted of possession of child porn. [
Columbus Dispatch
, Feb. 27, 2007.]

June:
* Gary Aldridge, Baptist minister in Montgomery, Alabama, died of “accidental mechanical asphyxia” — he “was found hogtied and wearing two complete wet suits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, according to an autopsy report. Investigators determined that Rev. Gary Aldridge’s death was not caused by foul play and that the 51-year-old pastor of Montgomery’s Thorington Road Baptist Church …” [Dead Reverend’s Rubber Fetish, Smoking Gun]

July:
* Glenn Murphy: Head of Young Republican National Federation; Republican county chairman from Indiana; sexually assaulted another (male) [YR 2007/7/29]
* Tommy Tester, Virginia Southern Baptist minister, caught urinating in front of children at a car wash, with an open bottle of vodka & empty oxycodone bottles in his car. [WBIR 7/31]

August & ongoing:
* Larry Craig – US Senator and Mitt Romney campaign exec caught seeking some glory-hole action.

October:
* Joey DiFatta, running for state office in Louisiana, also caught toe-tapping in a public restroom [nola blog]
* Oral Roberts University president forced to resign – Richard Roberts’ wife Lindsay was accused of having sexual relations w/ a 16yo boy; Richard was accused of mismanaging funds to lead an extravagant lifestyle [NYT 10/18]
* Donald Fleischman, 37yo Republican Chairman of Brown County, Wisconsin, faces criminal charges for fondling a 16yo boy & plying him with beer & pot. [Green Bay Press Gazette]
* Richard Mellon Scaife, right-wing mega-magnate & bankroller of hate politics, has to get a divorce after his wife caught him frolicking with hookers. [pharyngula 10/22]

November:
* Jehovah’s Witnesses settles NINE lawsuits over child sex abuse by multiple J-dub pastors. These were covered up by the J-dub hierarchy. Abusers include: Frederick McLean, a church administrator (“ministerial servant”); James Henderson, a J-dub “elder” and “Presiding Overseer”, whose abuses were known by the church and other elders; Alvin Heard, another member who was “disfellowshipped” from one church but, with full knowledge, admitted to other churches where he molested again; Larry Kelley, a children’s entertainer in Texas; Timothy Silva, who taught “adolescent book studies” at a J-dub congregation in California even after the church knew of his problem; and three others — eight total alleged abusers whose misdeeds were enabled by Jehovah’s Witness official-dom. [msnbc 11/21]

Also in 2007:
* Brand-spanking-new creationist museum: one of the video spokespeople turned out to have been a porn star
* Bob Allen: Republican Florida legislator solicited undercover cop for blow-job

2008:
* In Christian school founder extorts sex from student’s parent – Here we have someone who is unusually ethical compared to many of these people: Instead of trying to extort sex from children, LaVern Jordan, founder and “spiritual backbone” of the Parkway Christian School, simply tried to extort sex from their parents. He told one mom that he wanted to fuck her, and thought for waiving the fee of $300/week that he should get to do that “several times”. He later offered to give her child credit for classes he had failed, again tying it to sex.

I know I missed a lot. But seriously. What is wrong with these people? Lying, hurting other people, hurting themselves — why? Because their morality is founded on irrationality or politics or both, and not on simple, obvious ethical points like do no harm to others, sub-clauses consensuality and honesty.

Christian freaks.

positive about civil unions

In last night’s Democratic candidate debate about The Gays, Clinton explained that she’s not anti-gay marriage: “I prefer to think of it as being very positive about civil unions.”

As Michele (my Massachusetts spouse) said: “If she’s so positive, why doesn’t *she* get one.”

Requiem for habeas corpus

Sometimes one despairs and relies on others to speak truth to power. Many have done so with respect to with respect to the “Military Commissions Act of 2006”, but Kent Keith Olbermann‘s was particularly eloquent.

update: Ahem. Apparently that’s Keith Olbermann, and Kent Brockman. Another sign of aging, because I would never ordinarily confuse the grey/blonde Simpson’s reporter with the grey/blonde MSNBC reporter.

Who doesn’t care about political hypocrisy

Joe Conason at Salon explains why the leaders of the religious right don’t care that Republican Christian nationalists are hypocrites, and predicts that they’ll be ba-a-ack:

The leaders of the religious right don’t care whether White House hacks love them or laugh at them, because they see themselves as the users, not the used. Winning power in the Republican Party represents the work of more than two decades for Robertson, Falwell, Dobson, their ultraright comrades and the new leaders, such as Tony Perkins and Rod Parsley, who will eventually succeed them. Their radical goal is an America under the dominion of men like themselves, and the Republican Party will continue to be the most plausible vehicle for their movement. They may lose ground this year — but they will most certainly be back with renewed determination in 2008.

Reader, I married fafblog.

It was the only thing to do, after such postings as:

There’s No “War” in “Warrant”1 (12/17):

So George Bush secretly authorized the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants or judicial oversight. Oh, it violates your civil liberties, oh, it illegally breaks the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, oh, that tape of you and your boyfriend having phone sex has been playing in the NSA break room for a month and a half. Well boo hoo hoo! Do you hear that sound, America? It is the world’s tiniest violin playing just for your civil liberties. You can hear it in excellent quality sound because it has been bugged by the NSA. …

“Oh but Giblets the president’s executive order is illegal” you say. That’s the kind of namby-pamby whining that would have the U.S. follow “international opinion” and “the Geneva conventions” and “U.S. law.”

Fafblog followed up on the no-FISA-needed Executive Order with The King of Freedom (12/23):

…How soon we forget the lessons of September 11th! Faced with a threat unlike any before, America can no longer afford its cumbersome system of unwieldy checks and balances. Instead it must nimbly respond to terror with a single, streamlined, omnipotent executive branch. Instead of waiting for critical domestic spying programs to pass through Congress, where bickering Senators can selfishly subject them to public scrutiny, an efficient White House can put them into practice so quickly the country doesn’t discover them for another four years.

All the usual suspects have begun ringing all the usual alarm bells, calling the president’s new powers unconstitutional or even dictatorial. This, of course, is absurd. There remain numerous checks on the president’s powers, such as God, who may override the president’s veto with a two-thirds vote, and the president himself, who may bring himself to justice should he find himself to have violated his oath of office. Nor have Congress and the courts been rendered powerless, as all three branches of government have vital roles to play: the executive branch to be the president, the legislative branch to support the president, and the judicial branch to tell the president he is constitutional….

Fafblog’s coverage of the war on terror is also must-read-blogging: (World Without a PATRIOT Act, 12/17):

So I’m browsin through my local library checkin out the latest developments in shelving technology when Osama bin Laden jumps outta the card catalogue an hijacks the reference section!

“Oh no!” says me. “Stop him before he misfiles that almanac!”
“Mwa-hahaha, you’re too late!” says the terrorist mastermind escapin into the periodicals. “Now nothing can stop me from researching the history of your hometown’s spicy marmalade festival!”
“He’s in the microfiche,” says the crusty ol librarian. “We’ll never catch im now!”

Oh John Ashcroft, where are you when we need you most!

And see The Central Front in the War on Facts (12/8):

The usual antiwar suspects have been up in arms for well over a week over the military’s planting of covert propaganda in Iraqi newspapers, caterwauling about the undermining of a fundamental tenet of Iraqi democracy. As always, their concerns are wildly misplaced. First, shouldn’t a pretend democracy have a pretend free press? Second, most of these pieces weren’t factually inaccurate, but mere “spin” – such as the article that spun an Iraqi general’s death under torture as death under not-torture. Third, propaganda is merely a weapon. America’s leaders would be foolhardy indeed to refuse a weapon in their arsenal, especially against an adverary as deadly as the truth.

While it may not be the ideal of journalism in a free society, is this planted, pro-military propaganda so different from the anti-military truthaganda published every day in the New York Times? While military propaganda shows a bias towards distortion, obfuscation, and outright lies in the service of the war effort, the baleful face of the Mainstream Media shows a clear bias towards reporting reality – and reality has always been America’s greatest enemy in Iraq.

And the ongoing coverage of the torture?-we-don’t-torture-but-we-need-to-be-able-to-torture-(even-though-we-don’t-torture) story was as good as it gets; most recently with Let a Thousand Bad Apples Bloom (12/17) (“Rest assured, from this day forth, the detainees tortured in American military prisons will only be tortured by accident or happenstance, or by dozens of rogue soldiers acting in simultaneously and of their own accord.”)

And on domestic issues, Fafblog also nailed it with Nature’s Harmonious Money Cycle” (12/8):

So you can’t afford to heat your house and somebody went and cut your Medicaid and food stamps. “Oh no!” you say burnin a spare child for warmth. “Whatever will I do.”

… and righteously chastised us all about dangerous support for the HPV vaccine (God Bless the Plague, 11/17):

God created death and disease to provide a divine disincentive against soul-sullying sin. Can America afford to innoculate its children, insure its poor, and make peace with its neighbors if it means not living in fear of an insane, invisible overseer in the sky who barks at his creation in a series of mad, contradictory myths? Absolutely not. God bless the plague!

In conclusion, I highly recommend daily conjugal visits with fafblog (the worlds only source for fafblog).

carnivalia

a variety of exciting carnivals to read:

for more … blog carnival index and the über carnival site

doubletake: did he say that?

And the Republican abandonment of ‘federalism’ continues:

Senator Tom Coburn, a newly elected conservative Republican from Oklahoma, said: “This isn’t a states’ rights issue. What we’re saying is they are going to review it. The states are not given the right to take away somebody’s constitutional rights.”

[House majority leader Tom Delay]: “The conservative doctrine here is the Constitution of the United States.”

These and many other astonishing quotes are courtesy of the Terri Schiavo case — the latest mad rush by Republicans to abandon their much-vaunted dedication to federalism and states’ rights. [Chronicled here by the Adam Nagourney of the NYT [2005/3/25].] As predicted, Republicans like pretty much everyone else happily use the power they’ve got — full-on federal government power.

we don’t need 2 republican parties (or even one)

Salon.com WarRoom did a good job of excerpting from Ted Kennedy’s speech @ the National Press Club [kennedy website transcript], so I’ll just take their excerpt:

I categorically reject the deceptive and dangerous claim that the outcome last November was somehow a sweeping, or a modest, or even a miniature mandate for reactionary measures like privatizing Social Security, redistributing the tax burden in the wrong direction, or packing the federal courts with reactionary judges. Those proposals were barely mentioned — or voted on — in an election dominated by memories of 9/11, fear of terrorism, the quagmire in Iraq, and relentlessly negative attacks on our Presidential candidate.

In an election so close, defeat has a thousand causes — and it is too easy to blame it on particular issues or tactics, or on the larger debate about values. In truth, we do not shrink from that debate.

There’s no doubt we must do a better job of looking within ourselves and speaking out for the principles we believe in, and for the values that are the foundation of our actions. Americans need to hear more, not less, about those values. We were remiss in not talking more directly about them – about the fundamental ideals that guide our progressive policies. In the words of Martin Luther King, “we must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

Unlike the Republican Party, we believe our values unite us as Americans, instead of dividing us. If the White House’s idea of bipartisanship is that we have to buy whatever partisan ideas they send us, we’re not interested.

In fact, our values are still our greatest strength. Despite resistance, setbacks, and periods of backlash over the years, our values have moved us closer to the ideal with which America began — that all people are created equal. And when Democrats say “all,” we mean “all.”

We have an Administration that falsely hypes almost every issue as a crisis. They did it on Iraq, and they are doing it now on Social Security. They exploit the politics of fear and division, while ours is a politics of hope and unity.

In the face of their tactics, we cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors and timid voices. We cannot become Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again, and deserve to lose. As I have said on other occasions, the last thing this country needs is two Republican parties.

le guin was for kerry

altercation / 2004-08-17

Name: Brian Thomas
Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Eric,
I’ve been out on the streets of Portland, Oregon five days of every week registering progressive voters.

Today I met up with Portland’s most famous author and anarchist, Ursula K. LeGuin (The Dispossessed, The Left-Hand of Darkness, The Earth-Sea Trilogy, etc.) while she was buying movie tickets at our Fox Towers theatre complex.  I asked her the same question I’ve asked
thousands of our citizens:

“Do you want George Bush out of the White House?”

Ms. LeGuin flipped her purse around to reveal a Kerry/Edwards button.

“Wow, I’m thrilled to see an anarchist wearing a Kerry button.  All my best anarchist friends are voting for Kerry, but they’re not ready to wear buttons.”  And then Ursula smiled broadly as she became the first person I have ever heard utter these words:

“Anybody but Nader.”

Now, let’s get to the real point of this letter.  Whether you like it or not, some of these just mentioned Portland anarchists and assorted other activists (including this liberal) are coming to your town next week.  Don’t believe the lies you hear on Fox News.

Although we will not be looking for trouble, we will be looking for Central Park.  Here in Portland, Oregon when we have grievances to redress we gather in our central town square or in one of the central parks that run through our city as Central Park runs through New York City.  Our concerns about war becoming a first choice, not a last resort are central to what we are as a people and so we meet in the center of our city as we will be meeting in the center of yours.  Last Friday, in Portland’s Waterfront Park, 50,000 of us met to hear John Kerry.  Only a few score of policemen were on hand to direct traffic and keep the park from overflowing with people.  Another world is possible.

Your colleague at THE NATION, Naomi Klein’s article “Ditch the Distraction in Chief” was a big hit with my friends.  However, we missed your buddies Todd Gitlin and John Passacantado’s words of wisdom for us protesters as they appeared in the subscribers only portion of THE NATION.  Any words of wisdom or tips on cheap places to eat you wish to send my way will be shared with all the anarchists from Portland who will soon be descending on your city.

Thanks,

looming challenges to federalism

i’ll be interested to see how the conservative, pro-federalism, pro-states’ rights, GOP-run government (and the conservative intelligentsia which carries their theoretical water) handles some of the upcoming challenges to federalism:

  • medical marijuana laws
  • state & regional initiatives on global warming: for instance, California’s mandatory cap on greenhouse-gas emissions will have to be signed off on by the EPA before it goes into effect

New Voters Are ‘Ringers’

Wow. The Republican party apparatchiks are really, at last, out-and-out, up-front, hostile to voters.

“The organized left’s efforts to, quote unquote, register voters – I call them ringers – have created these problems,” said James P. Trakas, a Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County.

Big G.O.P. Bid to Challenge Voters at Polls in Key State, by Michael Moss, NYT, Oct. 23, 2004