American Samizdat

Thursday, October 31, 2002. *
MaxSpeak Weblog It is reputed that on the eve of his execution for a crime of which he was innocent, a fellow named Joe Hill said, "Don't mourn; organize." For the critics, the real problem with the funeral is that the attendees didn't all commit suicide and join PW in the hereafter. Damn they might even retain sufficient composure to retain the seat for the Democrats.

My personal hope for my own funeral, assuming anyone would bother to show up, would be for a wild bacchanal with people getting BJs & CJs under the tables, drinking and smoking themselves stupid, and indulging in political rhetoric that would make Hunter Thompson blush. Think garden of earthly delights. I only wish I could be there myself.

posted by Joseph Duemer at 6:29 PM
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At Project Vote Smart you can find out who's running for what public office in your area, what their positions are, what the offices are, what their voting records are, and who's been contributing to their campaign (more info about money in politics is available at Open Secrets). Project Vote Smart is specific to zip+4 (which you can look up on the site), and I find it to be a supremely valuable resource. Also, a manual for informed voting is offered for download: "The 2002 voter self defense manual is available for download. The VSDM covers all of the current U.S. members of Congress including selected key votes, special interest group ratings, campaign finance information and contact information."
posted by Arum at 3:14 PM
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again, nothing new under the sun...
& a reminder of that, of sorts.
Ruth Rosen's Secrets and Lies,
from the S.F. Chronicle
posted by j at 9:51 AM
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Today also marks the beginning of the Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico. Day of the Dead
posted by David at 5:31 AM
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Stand Down: the Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq:
Initiated by Max Sawicky (Maxspeak) and Julian Sanchez (Notes from the Lounge) this is a new weblog open to anybody opposed to the threatening war with Iraq.

The members of Stand Down hold a wide variety of different and, indeed, conflicting political positions, but all are in agreement on a single proposition: that the use of military force to effect "regime change" in Iraq is ill advised and unjustified. We do not deny that the current Iraqi regime is monstrous, but we hold, following John Adams, that the United States need not go "abroad in search of monsters to destroy" unless they pose a clear and direct threat to American national security.
posted by Martin Wisse at 5:05 AM
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Wednesday, October 30, 2002. *
Canada Issues Travel Advisory Against U.S.
A travel advisory issued by the Canadian government this week has an ironic twist - telling Canadian citizens born in Iraq, Syria and other countries targeted by U.S. anti-terrorism policies to consider avoiding travel to the United States.

And if you do have to go there, don't drink the water...
posted by Mike at 10:10 PM
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aha. so that's what they are...
by Richard Goldstein, at the Village Voice online.

posted by j at 3:35 PM
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The Wolf Who Cried Wolf:
Charging Anti-Semitism and Extending the Iron Wall

For this is the shadow cast by the Iron Wall, Zionism's long-standing policy towards the Palestinians, which has led to a half-century of systematic expropriation, ethnic cleansing, massacre, torture, incarceration, and occupation of the native. When Zionist theoretician Ze'ev Jabotinsky first formulated the doctrine of Iron Wall in 1923, he laid the question of colonialism bare. He understood that "The natives will always struggle obstinately against the colonists," as they are bound up with their land with the "true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie." Given that the Palestinians "will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hopeis extinguished," Zionism must ensure "there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall." Force was to be not only a pre-condition but the condition for Zionist success, via the Iron Wall.

The army must stop the olive thieves

It would be a mistake to regard the settlers' robberies of Palestinian villagers' olive harvests as merely another serious crime. This collective theft signifies a change in the current military conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and is a revolution in the history of the settlements in general. For the first time in the current conflict, Israelis are stealing and confiscating Palestinian food. Even if they won't admit it, it can be seen as laying the groundwork for Transfer, not by the state but by a group of settlers. In Yanun, south of Nablus, most of the residents have already been forced to leave their homes.

The tangible fear of transfer

Before Jewish fascism takes over
posted by Gordon at 12:35 AM
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002. *
A letter to Newsweek:

Since Saddam seized power without any democratic mandate, his nation has suffered economic decline and become contemptible in the eyes of the world due to his bellicosity and unilateralist disdain for the environment and the United Nations. At the same time, his weapons of mass destruction strike fear in our hearts. And he and his cronies have grown rich by corrupt dealings in oil and other industries. Why does Bush hate him so? They have so much in common.

David Irby
Dingle, Ireland
posted by Grady at 11:17 PM
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US weapons secrets exposed

Respected scientists on both sides of the Atlantic warned yesterday that the US is developing a new generation of weapons that undermine and possibly violate international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.

The scientists, specialists in bio-warfare and chemical weapons, say the Pentagon, with the help of the British military, is also working on "non-lethal" weapons similar to the narcotic gas used by Russian forces to end last week's siege in Moscow.

They also point to the paradox of the US developing such weapons at a time when it is proposing military action against Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein is breaking international treaties.

The article also mentions the use of non-lethal weapons against hostile crowds. I guess that would mean demonstrating civilians.
posted by Gordon at 11:11 PM
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Chechen 'Black Widows'

"My mother is dying," Fedyantseva said she told her captor.

She said Svyeta replied stonily: "It doesn't bother my conscience. If I see [you] again, I'll shoot."

Commonly called "hell on Earth," Chechnya has been the site of one of the murkiest insurgencies in modern history since Russian troops first entered the Muslim-dominated southern Russian state in 1994 to quash a separatist movement...

But even the most seasoned Russian experts were horrified by the sight of the "widows of the war" calmly announcing their intention to blow up the famous Moscow theater in a videotaped message, which was aired the Arabic satellite TV network al Jazeera just hours after the rebels seized the theater....

"I was shocked, very much so," said Sebastian Gorka, a fellow at the Virginia-based Terrorism Research Center. "For those familiar with mainstream Chechen society — which to put it bluntly, is a conservative society — the concept of front-line Chechen female combatants is unusual, it's a novelty..."

The hostage-taking in Moscow is a dreadful reminder of the unsolved situation in Chechnya," said Judith Arenas, a spokeswoman for the human-rights group Amnesty International. "The situation there affects every single person, but women are particularly vulnerable to violations that include arbitrary detention, torture and rape."

Rights groups have charged that the fear of rape by Russian forces in Chechnya is pervasive, causing many families, particularly those with young women and girls, to flee and motivating desperate attempts to hide female family members. More than 150,000 Chechens have been living in camps in the neighboring region of Ingushetia since the second Russian military operation was launched against the separatists in September 1999...
posted by A.Q. at 10:53 PM
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My life as an animal at Camp X-Ray: former inmate tells
The three Afghans said on Monday that they were not tortured or abused but said the prospect of being trapped in endless isolation, sometimes in a six-square-metre cell, wore away at them.
Jan Muhammad, one of the Afghan prisoners, said he was cut off from the outside world for 11 months and did not receive a letter from his family until three days before his release. "I wrote a letter to my family that said: 'I'm half an animal now. After a month I'll be a full animal and then I'll come back."'
posted by New World at 8:28 AM
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Melissa Lyttle... Meet The Stones, Megan, Mark, Allison, Taylor, and Piglet. "...The Stones have been homeless for almost two years. From sleeping on the streets to motel rooms to numerous shelters, the Stones' lives are constantly in transition and the childrens' personalities have been formed by the experiences they've been through." From Melissa Lyttle.
posted by Andrew at 5:12 AM
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The red diaper baby has finally, conclusively lost whatever marbles he ever had:

100,000 Communists March On Washington To Give Aid and Comfort to Saddam Hussein
In politics it is important to call things by their right names. Otherwise you are fooling yourself with other people's propaganda. The press is reporting Saturday's "Stop the War" demonstration in Washington as though it was a peace march. Of course it was no such thing. It was a regrouping of the Communist left, the same left that supported Stalin and Mao and Ho. Indeed, this Communist left, organized by Ramsey Clark and his cohorts even supports Slobodan Milosevic, and of course Saddam Hussein. They are not pacifists and they are not peaceniks. They are anti-American radicals whose dream is a Communist revolution in America but whose immediate agenda is to force America's defeat in the war with terror we are now in.
(There is, of course, the remote possibility that Neal Pollack has hacked the Frontpage site. I almost hope that this is indeed the case.)
posted by Henning at 1:59 AM
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Monday, October 28, 2002. *
Mr. Potato Head......
posted by cynthia korzekwa at 11:51 PM
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Billy Bragg is distributing his new anti-war broadside The Price of Oil for free on numerous sites.
posted by David at 12:04 PM
Post a Comment - a journal of Dialogue and Ideas.
posted by Amir at 7:16 AM
Post a Comment News | A day for peace -- and fury It was a rally rich with spectacle and passion where radical cant competed with political substance. There were indie-rock cheerleaders jumping around crying, "Liberate! Smash the state!" and huge banners with messages like, "Defeat US Imperialism: Defend Afghanistan and Iraq for Class War Against the Imperialism War." But there were plenty of committed, articulate people like Mark Arend, a programmer for Microsoft, who stood with his 13-year-old son and hoisted a sign built like a spiral notebook, each page turning to reveal a new anti-war message. He had so many reasons for opposing invasion he couldn't choose just one. "I don't have a lot of time -- I have a job and a family," he says. "But this is bugging me so much it's like a midlife crisis. I listen to the news and I have to do something."
posted by Joseph Duemer at 5:33 AM
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Sunday, October 27, 2002. *

Dwight Meredith at PLA
chronicles the Bush lies better than the Washington Post.

via Liberal Oasis and this:

With former Vice-President Walter Mondale about to run for Senate, at the urging of Paul Wellstone’s surviving sons, the Right hit the Sunday shows and began the attacks.

What! You don't regularly read Liberal Oasis, get over there right now for some essential insights into a likely Mondale run.
posted by Norm at 8:58 PM
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What is President Bush's ultimate objective in Iraq?
Is it to make sure that Saddam Hussein does not have weapons of mass destruction?
Or is it to remove Saddam by force and remake the politics of Iraq?
And if the latter, would it be the first step toward a new American imperium?

from the NYRB on-line, Bush and Iraq;
also from NYRB, Frances FitzGerald's George Bush & the World;
what a paucity of coverage re the demonstrations held Saturday (SF's)...
posted by j at 11:06 AM
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U.S. pacifist group stages Saddam rally in Baghdad
What was notable at Saturday's protests by the Americans was not so much that the government left the visitors unhindered, since the Americans were making a case that Saddam clearly wanted to hear, but that Iraq's state-controlled news organizations were barely represented. The government apparently did not wish to give too much attention to the American demonstrators since that might have sent a signal that street protests are acceptable now, after all.
The absence of the Iraqi news media left the field to Western reporters, mostly Americans, who outnumbered the protesters by about five to one. What ensued, outside the U.N. offices, was a curious free-for-all in which Kelly found herself at moments cast by questioners as a sort of ''Hanoi Jane'' --- a nickname given to actress Jane Fonda when she visited the then-North Vietnamese capital 30 years ago and spoke against U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War.
posted by New World at 10:13 AM
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Guardian Unlimited Observer - Gore Vidal claims 'Bush junta' complicit in 9/11

"America's most controversial writer Gore Vidal has launched the most scathing attack to date on George W Bush's Presidency, calling for an investigation into the events of 9/11 to discover whether the Bush administration deliberately chose not to act on warnings of Al-Qaeda's plans.

Vidal's highly controversial 7000 word polemic titled 'The Enemy Within' - published in the print edition of The Observer today - argues that what he calls a 'Bush junta' used the terrorist attacks as a pretext to enact a pre-existing agenda to invade Afghanistan and crack down on civil liberties at home.

Vidal writes: 'We still don't know by whom we were struck that infamous Tuesday, or for what true purpose. But it is fairly plain to many civil libertarians that 9/11 put paid not only to much of our fragile Bill of Rights but also to our once-envied system of government which had taken a mortal blow the previous year when the Supreme Court did a little dance in 5/4 time and replaced a popularly elected President with the oil and gas Bush-Cheney junta.'"
posted by David at 6:55 AM
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Saturday, October 26, 2002. *
The Disappearing Middle
The explosion of executive pay represents a social change rather than the purely economic forces of supply and demand. We should think of it not as a market trend like the rising value of waterfront property, but as something more like the sexual revolution of the 1960's -- a relaxation of old strictures, a new permissiveness, but in this case the permissiveness is financial rather than sexual. Sure enough, John Kenneth Galbraith described the honest executive of 1967 as being one who ''eschews the lovely, available and even naked woman by whom he is intimately surrounded.'' By the end of the 1990's, the executive motto might as well have been ''If it feels good, do it.''
Some -- by no means all -- economists trying to understand growing inequality have begun to take seriously a hypothesis that would have been considered
irredeemably fuzzy-minded not long ago. This view stresses the role of social norms in setting limits to inequality. According to this view, the New Deal had a more profound impact on American society than even its most ardent admirers have suggested: it imposed norms of relative equality in pay that persisted for more than 30 years, creating the broadly middle-class society we came to take for granted. But those norms began to unravel in the 1970's and have done so at an accelerating pace. (via Robot Wisdom)
posted by New World at 6:23 PM
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Reporters Without Borders is publishing the first worldwide press freedom index, and it makes fascinating reading. At the top of the list Finland, Iceland, Norway, and the Netherlands, not much of a surprise. The surprises, the United States at 17th ranks below Costa Rica. Israel is at 92nd while Lebanon by contrast is at 56th and even the Palestinain National Authority ranks slightly higher at 82nd of course anything above 20 is nothing to shout about. Iraq at 130th and Syria at 126th are where one would expect to find them. The report also provides interesting commentary on the rankings.

via shou ?
posted by Norm at 12:24 AM
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Friday, October 25, 2002. *
Matthew Engel is a writer for the Guardian
Enough with the Hitler Analogies

Round here, we are not very keen on the notion of banning words of any kind. The time has come to make an exception. The following words should be banned henceforth from political discourse: "Hitler" and "Nazi."

This would not apply to discussion of German history in the years up to 1945. That is not the problem. The problem is the incessant appearance of the words as a resort to winning arguments about modern politics. Their use (along with that of "fascist") has always been a ploy of the intellectually dishonest. At rock-bottom they are tools for inductive reasoning: "I like dogs." "Hitler liked dogs. You're a Nazi, then!" Since the Iraq dispute began, mild overuse has turned to plague, and both sides have been as bad as each other.

Let's be clear about this. Saddam Hussein is not Hitler, as hysterical Americans keep claiming. The charges of external violence are 12 years old. There is no coherent evidence that he had any plans (at least before the US began goading him) for more adventures, merely that he is obsessed with stockpiling weaponry, a charge that applies equally to the Pentagon. Far from seeking global or regional domination, he only dominates portions of Iraq.


via Fallacy Files Weblog for further information on weak analogies and guilt by association
posted by Norm at 11:55 PM
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The Iraqi baby incubator story returns ...
Hill and Knowlton did not fabricate the story about Iraqi soldiers tossing infants from their Kuwait City incubators, according to an Oct. 23 letter published in The Business Times (Singapore) by Vivian Lines, H&K's Asia/Pacific COO.
H&K's mission, according to Lines, was to "acquaint Americans with Kuwait, its people and the facts of the Iraqi invasion," The letter claims H&K "played no role in helping determine the question of whether the U.S. should intervene militarily."
posted by New World at 6:29 PM
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Ted Nugent may run in 2006
Outspoken rocker and outdoor enthusiast Ted Nugent said Wednesday he will run for Michigan governor in 2006 if Democrat Jennifer Granholm is elected next month.
Nugent, who was in Naples to speak to middle and high school students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, said he's unsure if he'd run as an independent or a Republican -- but he wants to challenge Granholm, if she's in the governor's office.
posted by New World at 1:08 PM
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Thursday, October 24, 2002. *
Gubernatorial race hits new lows
WTMJ-TV reported Tuesday that Doyle campaign workers set up the party and offered free soda, coffee and pastries to residents of a low-income hotel in Kenosha. After the bingo, the residents were told they could vote by absentee ballot in another room.
Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Jambois said he planned to drive to WTMJ in Milwaukee later Wednesday to view footage the station shot at the hotel, which showed residents winning cans of soda and quarters during the games.
State law prohibits giving people anything worth more than $1 to try to get them to vote or keep them from voting. WTMJ reported that many residents won 75 cents in quarters and a can of soda, along with the pastry. (via Roy at the AlicuBlog)
posted by New World at 3:06 PM
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Wednesday, October 23, 2002. *
And now, this breaking news report on something

ANCHOR: We understand now that the police chief is having his briefing. Let's go there live.

CHIEF: I am here to say, I have nothing to say.

REPORTERS: Tell us all the secret things that you don't want to tell us.

CHIEF: That would jeopardize the case.

REPORTERS: Here, let us ask a bunch of speculative questions that still mean, tell us anyway.

CHIEF: No. Next briefing in 15 minutes.

ANCHOR: We'll be right back. (via)
posted by Mike at 10:32 PM
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Undercover cops who infiltrated protest movements talk
Sources within the revolutionary left who'd traditionally passed on the odd titbit in return for a few pounds and a pint simply weren't enough. As a result, an elite unit was set up within special branch whose existence has been kept a closely guarded secret until now. It was known as the "special demonstration squad" - or less prosaically as the "hairies" because of the way its officers dressed, looked and lived. "It was a shadowy section of the branch where people disappeared into a black hole for several years," says Richard, a veteran hairy.
posted by New World at 8:20 PM
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all sniper all the time

our hearts, of course, go out to the many families of the victims of the dc sniper. and, we can't imagine what it would be like to be living in that area, knowing that any time you go out for a quick errand or to gas up your car, you may never come home (for a better idea of what that would be like, visit the blogs of tim dunlop or max sawicky, both dc residents).

any murder is a terrible, horrible thing. any crime spree which takes human lives is a senseless, pointless horror. but, having said that, we'd like to say something that some would consider tasteless sacrilege:

shut up with 24 hour sniper coverage already. but we doubt that will happen. and why?

"on tuesday, fox news channel averaged 1.12 million viewers, cnn had 1.06 million and cnn headline news had 294,000," says usa today. "for each network, it was the most-watched single day of the year, according to nielsen media research. that was the day after the sniper claimed its latest victim, 47-year-old fbi analyst linda franklin, outside a home depot in falls church, va. the story dominated the news networks."

ratings. big, cheap, fast, ratings. no wonder they're playing it all the time. saddam who? what election? recession? never heard of it! this story has legs!!

we heard a cnn reporter yesterday say that the nation is obsessed with the sniper story. au contraire, mon ami, it is you, the cable news networks, who are obsessed with this story. and why not? like the gary condit story, it's right there in your own backyard. you networks don't even have to uplink to a satellite, just drive across town (and hope the sniper isn't waiting for you at the press conference).

and that brings us to our second point. it's a news story that directly affects the people who run the news media. they pump gas into their cars. they go to home depot. they eat at the ponderosa. we bet wolf blitzer is a closet arts and crafter, and makes weekend runs to michael's. this sniper guy is killing people in their own neighborhoods. they are aghast and amazed, and incensed that the police haven't done a better job. why, both hannity and colmes might be next on the hit list! no wonder all the news networks have non-stop monday morning quarterbacking second-guessing the police.

and, like every other political story, it's so cheap to produce. just round up two or three ex-cops or private investigators (for gods sake, we saw mark fuhrman on tv this weekend!) and maybe throw in a gun-control freak to appear "fair and balanced," and you have a whole segment. and hey, maybe get a constitutional lawyer to talk, anne coulter's not busy.

and the websites for the news networks are no better. here's a real piece found on son of sam tells sniper to stop. we're not making this up. and here's an interactive map of the shootings from cnn, or you can go to cbs, where you can "hunt for clues" or "avoid becoming a target." god, it's become a video game on the net!!

(we like this tip: "shop or buy gas in dark, out of the way places." oh, that's good! we bet all the muggers who read will be especially grateful for that bit of advice being given to everyone!)

and not to make light of this terrible tragedy, but, with chief moose and spotsylvania county, we wonder if sometimes if we haven't fallen into an old rocky and bullwinkle cartoon.

our point is, if this crime spree was happening anywhere else but right in the hometown of the cable news media, it wouldn't be getting the 24 hour coverage. this detroit news piece from 2001 speaks of 1,100 unsolved murders in that city in the past five years. why isn't connie chung in motown every night, decrying that police force?

because, like with any other story, political or not, the electronic media make the mistake in thinking that if it's important to them, it's important to everyone. they only repeat the stuff they hear in their own hall ways. that's why, up to this sniper story, all we heard was "count down to iraq" and "showdown: iraq." because the planned iraq invasion was topic of choice all through washington.

actual reporting, as we have lamented in this space before, has long gone up to the clouds with huntley to watch brinkley down below hawk for archer daniels midland. if its cheap, fast, sexy and important to their bosses, the electronic news media will spout it 24/7. if it takes real reporting, real investigating, actual talking to actual americans, and especially if it costs money, you can forget it.

posted by Unknown at 5:33 PM
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your choice tonight: black or white. sorry, gray is not on the menu

first, the good news: media horse on line is back from its vacation on the ranch in crawford, texas (oops! sorry! the horse is on vacation so much we get it mixed up with someone else!)

now, the bad news: democratic underground, another fine publication that we highly recommend, has begun a new policy on their message boards:

"for the next three weeks: it is forbidden to use the du message board in an effort to make our members withhold their precious votes from the democratic party, which is the only organization capable of stopping the republican onslaught. it is forbidden to use the du message board to organize protests or other actions against members of the democratic party."

we are sorry to hear about this, only because, it doesn't seem all that...well, democratic.

granted, flamers, trollers and freepers are as annoying as all get out (and if you don't like it, you can all get out!) and sure, democratic underground has never claimed to be anything other than highly partisan in favor of the democratic party, and that's ok with us. but with this new policy, we ask if they might want to change the name of their blog from "democratic underground" to "democratic party underground." truth in advertising and all, you know.

there is a difference between partisan and fascist. not letting somebody else say something that you don't agree with just doesn't seem very fair to us. especially if somebody wants to discuss the options of third parties in america (a verboten subject now on the du message boards). which actually brings us to the main point we are trying, albeit in a clumsy fashion, to make.

the democratic underground states the reason for its new policy is that the democratic party is "only organization capable of stopping the republican onslaught." we wonder aloud, which democrats are they talking about?

john breax, max clelland, zell miller, max baucus and ben nelson? how about tim johnson and jean carnahan? these folks all voted for mr. bush's trillion dollar tax cut. are those the democrats that will "stop" the republican onslaught?

how about hillary clinton, henry waxman, tom daschle, dick gephardt, joe lieberman, john kerry, john edwards, howard berman, jane harman, adam schiff, brad sherman, dianne feinstein, to name but a few of the 29 senators and 82 representatives
who voted for mr. bush's war resolution to attack iraq? this is the way to "stop" the republican onslaught?

our point is, if the democrats had shown one-tenth of the spine of jim jeffords in the past year and 3/4, we wouldn't be so botherd by the du's new message board policy. if it looked like the democrats actually even wanted to stop the republican onslaught, we wouldn't make such a fuss. but as it is, the democratic party, and by extension, the cheerleading the democratic underground, is not looking so much like the republicans' enemy, but rather their enabler.
posted by Unknown at 5:30 PM
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thanks to the fine mind over at
Charlie Kokonino's place,
for the heads up re NYT magazine
link to Paul Krugman's For Richer
posted by j at 2:45 PM
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Tuesday, October 22, 2002. *
To say the evidence of an al Qaeda Iraq link was weak would be overstating the case and yet it has become weaker still. A little honesty about our reasons for a regime change, a changing regime, whatever the hell the current definition of is is, will I suspect not be forthcoming.

The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, has quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed Atta, the leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague just months before the attacks on New York and Washington, according to Czech officials.

Mr. Havel discreetly called Washington to tell senior Bush administration officials that an initial report from the Czech domestic intelligence agency that Mr. Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, in Prague in April 2001 could not be substantiated.

posted by Norm at 3:51 PM
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Israel to Seek $10bn in Aid
The aid does not include the billions America plans to spend to eliminate Israel's enemies in the Middle East.
posted by A.Q. at 12:55 PM
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such colossal bullshit...
i mean really,
why do so many fools believe ANYTHING
this damned nincompoop says.
more of el residente's schtick;
i am so sick of his barrage of idiotic falsehoods...
posted by j at 11:24 AM
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Monday, October 21, 2002. *
George Bush, no stranger to sleazy business practices and shady deals, shows just how serious he is about reforming the scandal-marred (all "company-specific," of course!) corporate world. Read:
SEC budget too high, White House asserts
Bush team now urges Congress to allocate less money to corporate policing
By Stephen Labaton (The New York Times)
Monday, October 21, 2002

WASHINGTON: Less than three months ago, President George W. Bush, with great fanfare, signed sweeping corporate anti-fraud legislation that called for a big increase in the budget of the Securities and Exchange Commission to police Corporate America and clean up Wall Street.

Now the White House is backing away from that budget provision and urging Congress to provide the agency with 27 percent less money than the new law authorized.

posted by Grady at 10:33 PM
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Sunday, October 20, 2002. *
How odd

This last victim of the DC sniper, the one shot Saturday at the Ponderosa, has still not been publicly identified. In fact, authorities won't even saying where he is from. All the news reports identify him solely as a "37 year old man".

Other sniper victims have had their names released. But not this time. Anyone have ideas why?
posted by Bob at 6:38 PM
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Was the Afghanistan Campaign a Waste?? Al-Qaida 'has regrouped' according to the CIA, and are as strong now as they were before 9/11.
posted by A.Q. at 1:02 AM
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Analysis of the Patriot Act by the EFF

The Electronic Freedom Foundation summarizes the noxious Patriot Act. Some highlights.

1. Expanded Surveillance With Reduced Checks and Balances.
A. Be careful what you put in that Google search.
B. Nationwide roving wiretaps.
C. ISPs hand over more user information.
D. New definitions of terrorism expand scope of surveillance.

2. Overbreadth with a lack of focus on terrorism. Several provisions of the USAPA have no apparent connection to preventing terrorism. These include:
A. Government spying on suspected computer trespassers with no need for court order.
B. Adding samples to DNA database for those convicted of "any crime of violence."
C. Wiretaps now allowed for suspected violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
D. Dramatic increases to the scope and penalties of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

3. Allows Americans to be More Easily Spied Upon by US Foreign Intelligence Agencies.
A. General Expansion of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Authority.
B. Increased information sharing between domestic law enforcement and intelligence.
C. FISA detour around federal domestic surveillance limitations

Oh, Computer crimes under Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) are now defined as "Terrorist Offenses".
posted by Bob at 12:01 AM
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Saturday, October 19, 2002. *

United States: so proudly we hail - Le Monde diplomatique, October 2002

The United States claims the status of 'Empire of Good' it has coveted for a century. The strategic document published by the Bush administration promises to defend liberty throughout the world. But it ends disarmament, prevents any power rivalling the US militarily and removes Americans from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. [more]
posted by Grady at 11:52 PM
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Ted Rall on blogs
I'm still studying the blog phenomenon so my opinions are still in a state of flux. But they are worrisome. While they're obviously a function of free speech in and of themselves, the right-wing bloggers (seems to be most of them for some reason) often use their Borg-like structure to stifle free speech.

Specifically, they link up to an article or cartoon or whatever that they disagree with. That link spreads like wildfire, and soon they're all asking their readers to deluge the relevant creator or writer's publications with hate mail.

To the non-initiated editor the sudden deluge of hundreds or thousands of e-mails might seem like a spontaneous outburst of rage from his readers; in reality, it's an orchestrated Internet lynch mob.

This is exactly what happened with my "widows" strip. Very few complaints (if any) came from actual readers of the publications which carry my work. So, in a sense, the bloggers deprive those who want to read content from doing so--and they're people who don't even read the stuff in the first place. It's like me getting something yanked from the National Review--frankly, I'm not their demographic and they shouldn't care much about me.

I think the bloggers will go away after everyone gets hip to their deal--it's a self-correcting kind of thing. But they've already caused a hell of a mess with their pro-Bush posturing.

I think blogs are the CB radio of the early 21st century: People will get tired of writing them, others are already bored of reading them. Since they don't contain new information or (for the most part) arrange old information in a useful format there isn't much reason other than the desire to see invective to check them out. And on the Internet, right-wing hatred is a dime a dozen.

Blogs are dead.
posted by New World at 6:53 PM
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U.S. intervention from Afghanistan to Iraq: David Barsamian interviews Noam Chomsky
A much more important issue is how the free institutions, which are not bound to follow government orders, behave. This is not Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. There’s no penalty for being independent and honest. The question is how they respond. On their own, do they voluntarily adopt the same stance? To the extent that they do, that is much more serious than the fact that a government is openly trying to propagandize the population. If the government has a propaganda ministry, it’s a bad thing. A free society shouldn’t tolerate that, but it’s minor compared to the voluntary subordination, not just of the media, but of the articulate intellectual community generally.
posted by New World at 3:31 PM
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Friday, October 18, 2002. *
Rockstars Against The War

hi. i am part of a group organizing buses from new york to dc for the protest on Oct. 26. plus were put together some sort of afterparty in dc (nothing like last minute planning) before we rock back to the big apple. if anybody is interested they should get on it because time and seating are limited. hopefully we will be organizing more protest/parties soon. The Future is Wow!

posted by drat at 6:35 PM
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Parents of Sickened Children Ask for Tighter Rules on Food

A priority of the group is to crack down on the cow manure that finds its way into meat products and becomes a source of E. coli illness. Tracing tainted meat and poultry early and obtaining the full cooperation of meatpackers to identify that meat is another goal of the group. What it does not want, members of the group said, is to be faulted for their children's deaths.

"The meat companies let cow manure get in the meat, and then they tell the victims that if we had only cooked it to 160 degrees my child would not have died," Mrs. Kowalcyk said.

Rosemary Mucklow of the National Meat Association said that the industry did not need greater regulations but that consumers needed to be educated.

"The biggest issue is to get the consumer to cook the meat thoroughly," Ms. Mucklow said. "People don't like that. They say you're blaming the consumer. But you wash lettuce and grapes thoroughly." [read more]

This really pisses me off. How can someone tell a parent, who's child has been killed by your product because it had shit in it because your company was too fucking cheap to keep the shit out, that it's all the parent's fault? How low can a person get?


Poop on poultry
The Bush Administration serves up another stinker
by Molly Ivins

Have you had a terrible stomach illness lately? It's quite likely you should blame the Bush administration. I know, that sounds like some demented spoof of left-wing paranoia, but it's actually an especially visceral example of one of life's iron rules -- you can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to.

Unless you have reason to suspect that your nearest and dearest are putting arsenic in your food, your bad stomach was likely caused by tainted meat. It is not hard to connect the dots on this one -- the massive meat recalls of recent months have now culminated in the largest in the nation's history, 27.4 million pounds worth, due to suspected contamination by the killer bacteria Listeria. [read more]
posted by Gordon at 1:29 AM
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ACLU fears for liberties

The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday announced a nationwide campaign to recover what it says are civil liberties that the government has "rolled back" since Sept. 11, 2001. [read more]
posted by Gordon at 1:14 AM
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General Anthony Zinni has some interesting things to say about Iraq, the Arab World, and the wisdom of the military.
posted by A.Q. at 12:20 AM
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Thursday, October 17, 2002. *
Big peace rallies in SF and DC - Sat Oct. 26.

Be there!

These antiwar demonstrations, organized by International ANSWER , are looking to be huge. Bus caravans will be converging on DC and SF from multiple cities. Dozens of buses will be leaving just from LA to SF. Ditto from NYC to DC. And from many other cities too.

DC information
Protest details . Includes a march to the White House.
Buses to DC

SF information
Protest details
Buses to SF

posted by Bob at 11:51 PM
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A Bird Lover's Guide to Chickenhawks
or Chickenhawk a la Mode by BEN TRIPP

George W. Bush couldn't cement the handle back on a shaving mug. He served some of a tour of duty defending Alabama from the Viet Cong, but the only scalp he ever saw was firmly affixed to George McGovern's head.
posted by Norm at 11:48 PM
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Julio Luna... Breaking Free (11 x 14 Pencil). "...The person depicted is confused because I struggle inside with good and evil, but I feel that the good in me outweighs the bad and that I will overcome my negative ways." From The Face Of Time: Prisoner Art Contest 2002 at the Fortune Society. "...There are over 130 artists, from 30 states represented in this contest. Some artists included a brief description of their artwork along with their submission. Others wrote a short paragraph describing what art means to them. The overwhleming message conveyed by these letters is that art provides prisoners with an outlet, as well as a sense of agency,of control over their lives. The artwork gathered in this collection represents over 130 different notions of freedom. It also gives a face to the people who are doing time in American's prisons."
posted by Andrew at 9:23 AM
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Wednesday, October 16, 2002. *
California Prison hunger strike to resume

Hundreds of Security Housing Unit (SHU) Inmates in Prisons Across the State of California to Resume Hunger Strike on October 19, 2002.

Crescent City and Corcoran, Calif.-On October 19, 2002, the date of the annual "Prisoner Unity Day", hundreds of inmates confined within the Security Housing Units at Pelican Bay and Corcoran State Prisons, and Valley State Prison for Women, will resume a hunger strike, initially begun on July 1, 2001, in protest of the unfair and arbitrary rules governing their SHU placement.

The strike had been put on hold pending the outcome of negotiations arranged by Sen. Richard Polanco, between the California Department of Corrections (CDC) and the SHU inmates and their advocates. Currently, the CDC has since ended the negotiations and have failed to respond to repeated requests for cooperation and meaningful dialogue. The inmates pleas for fair and human treatment have gone unheeded, while even more abusive SHU regulations have been proposed.
(via email from Criminal Justice Consortium)

SHU's are the no-human-contact-allowed SuperMax prisons of California. A convict can be put in a SHU by a guard saying they could be a gang member. This can and does include being put in a SHU for simply talking to a gang member in the yard. The only way out of a SHU is either when your prison term is completed or you inform. Thus, anyone released fronm a SHU back into the general population is assumed to have informed.

For hundreds of SHU prisoners to resume a hunger strike, and unquestionably face more abuse, shows just how vicious ugly and brutal their treatment is.
posted by Bob at 11:18 PM
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CNN titles this article: "Canada's marijuana laws worry U.S." Said article includes this: "American officials caution they may be forced to drastically slow trade across the northern U.S. border if the Canadian government relaxes its marijuana laws." Bolstered by: "U.S. drug policy experts say decriminalizing marijuana in Canada will increase drug use in America and trafficking by organized crime elements on both sides of the border."

Really? So the U.S. threatens to hurt trade relations with Canada on the advice of it's "drug policy experts" and the titles says, "Canada's marijuana laws worry U.S.?" Note whose opinion the piece ends on, and also how many additional experts are quoted who question this (none).

CNN: Why don't they just fucking wear uniforms?

posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:23 PM
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best to remain as informed as possible...
and if there's someone near & dear to you that may have
to face the possibility of conscription & allow el residente
to continue to wield his sword of american military might,
be sure to pass along this information from
and, well, you could consider this next item somewhat related,
from the Village Voice on-line, Together in Grief
posted by j at 9:08 AM
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"The squares are running it. What we need are hip people."
-- Oscar Brown, Jr.
Oct. 3, 2002 on Democracy Now

Warbloggers are squares, too, aren't they? Take Scott Ganz, for instance--that boy is so square that if he were standing next to Soupy Sales, he'd be cramping his style.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:13 AM
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Tuesday, October 15, 2002. *

A Jewish Demographic State
by Uri Avnery

It sounds like a bad joke, but it really happened: A rabbi went from Israel to Peru, converted a group of Native Americans to Judaism, brought them to this country and put them in a settlement, on land taken away from its Palestinian owners. There they receive, as all settlers do, generous government subsidies, paid for with money taken away from thousands of Israelis living below the poverty line. There they can live happily ever after (unless they leave the settlement in an unarmored car, in which case they may be ambushed by the original Palestinian owners.)

What causes a state to bring total strangers from another hemisphere in order to displace the native people, who gave lived there for many centuries, at the price of an eternal bloody conflict? The answer touches the foundations of Israel. [read more]


Israeli Tribes: Once Lost
and Now Found?

Searching for the Lost Tribes of Israel in India and Afghanistan


Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians

A keynote research paper showing that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians are genetically almost identical has been pulled from a leading journal. [read more]


The Bible Unearthed

I personally draw a positive conclusion from this research. As an American-Jew, I have long struggled with the contradictions and problems of Zionism and the unjust policies of the State of Israel towards Palestinians. For those brave enough to seize this research in the right spirit, there is a solution in it for the problems of the Middle East. Simply stated, European Jews, Middle Eastern Jews, and Palestinians are brothers and sisters and share a common Canaanite ancestry. There were a small number of voices amongst the early Zionists who were against the creation of a separate Jewish state in the region. They lost out to the bigger faction lead David Ben-Gurion, who suffered from the disease of European colonialism. Ben-Gurion and those in his camp saw the natives of the region as an obstacle to be eliminated. I believe Jews around the world need to take pride not in Israel as a modern colonialist State but in the entire region Palestine as the homeland of Canaanite and Israelite culture that we are descended from. European Jews are simply Europeanized Canaanites, Palestinians, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish were simple Arabacized Canaanites. Even modern genetic research is proving that we come from the same ancestry. [read more]


Zionist Ideology, the Non-Jews and the State of Israel

Israel Shahak once remarked that for at least the last 200 years, Jews have demanded equal rights in every country in which they’ve lived – with the remarkable exception of Israel, the Jewish state. Israel has always founded its institutions on the denial of equality to non-Jews. From the beginning, a good half a century before 1948 when the state of Israel was established, Zionist ideology has held strict opposition to equality for non-Jews as a fundamental principle. [read more]


Their tragedy, and ours

The survey that the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories presented to the cabinet Sunday makes disturbing and depressing reading for anyone who cares about Israel's welfare - and not just for those who care about the Palestinians' well-being and rights. Major General Amos Gilad paints a chilling portrait of Palestinian society, whose three million people, after two years of intifada, are wallowing in a hopeless midden of poverty, unemployment and economic dependency. Everything there is collapsing and decaying; only hatred for Israel is rising. [read more]


A fictitious debate

There is no difference between an "illegal outpost" and a "legal settlement": the question of the settlements' legality should not even be on the public agenda. The only thing that differentiates a "legal" settlement from an "illegal" outpost is a piece of paper, usually in the form of retroactive "laundering" of the outpost by the defense establishment. Yesterday's outposts are today's settlements and both are a disaster. [read more]
posted by Gordon at 12:50 AM
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From a European viewpoint, parts of the American public discourse are fairly incomprehensible. Let’s face it: running for office in Europe on a Fundamentalist Christian, pro-gun, anti-abortion, pro-death penalty platform would be, ahem, almost unthinkable. Or, at least, guaranteed not to take you anywhere. But not so across the Atlantic. Seen from here, something like this is utterly alien:

To the growing ranks of American aficionados of the sniper’s craft, the perfect shot is to hit ’the apricot’. That is the small area between the top of the spine and the brain, where a bullet will bring a man down without reflex, known as flaccid relaxation.

In recent years America’s saturated gun industry has looked to the sale of long-range, highly accurate rifles to boost sales. Playing upon the mystique of the sniper, gun dealers and weapons training schools have seen a rise in sales of the type and calibre of gun used by the Washington-area marksman.

There is web site called Sniper’s Paradise that says about itself:

This site was created and is maintained for the professionals doing the job as well as the public’s and media’s education. For the professionals, this is a valuable source of job related information. The sniping profession is misunderstood by many not educated about what we do. News reporters throughout time have mislabeled crazed gunman as “sniper,” darkening the profession’s eye. Through the pages seen here, we hope to show that true long-range shooting, military sniping, and police sharpshooting is an art and science.

Excuse me. Other than those employed by the state -- is there really anybody who can claim that their “profession” is being a sniper? Other than a select handful of law enforcement officers and military personnel, does anybody need the tools and the skills of a sniper? From the first article again:

Robert Barrkman, president of Phoenix-based Robar, makers of a powerful RC-50 ‘counter-sniper’ rifle, recently told Jane’s International Defense Review that ‘the proliferation of the sniper weapons is one of the few growth areas for small-arms makers’.

The Robar RC-50 is capable of piercing an armoured vehicle or a helicopter a mile away. The company has sold 20,000 of the $5,000 civilian-adapted versions. Tactical Shooter, a magazine designed for police and military snipers, said in a recent article that ‘the real future of tactical shooting, like it or not, is at the civilian level’.

Again: what civilian, exactly what civilian needs a weapon like that for any legitimate purpose?
posted by Henning at 12:21 AM
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Monday, October 14, 2002. *
roasted chicken hawks - a skippy rant

instapundit referred us to a new york post editorial by one retired army officer ralph peters, author and novelist. lt. col. peters makes some points that we would like to address.

lt. col. peters starts out, "there are few things more repugnant to a soldier than a coward who claims to speak on his behalf." at first, we thought he was going to be referring to the people in the adminstration who are happy to start a war without ever having served in combat, or even in the peacetime armed forces themselves (people like dick cheney, karl rove, andrew card, paul wolfowtiz, richard perle, ted olson, john ashcroft...oh, the list goes on. and don't get us started on the very very short list of commanders in chief who were in the service but went awol).

but no. lt. col. peters is talking about people who are against an armed invasion of iraq. apparently, he does not differentiate among the various points of view in the anti-iraq-invasion philosophies; there's no difference between a conscientious objector (pope john paul) or somebody who hopes saddam hussein wins (saddam hussein).

"self-appointed voices of conscience warn of tens of thousands of american dead. that's nonsense," he says, and he could well be right about that. although, personally, we have not seen anybody warn of "tens of thousands" dead; most reports indicate a few thousand young american service men and women could lose their lives in a worst case scenario. michael o'hanlon, in testimony to the armed services committee in congress, estimates casualties "could plausibly range from roughly 100 to 5,000, with total numbers of wounded about three to four times as great."

however, lt. col. peters goes on: "and when those who despise the men and women in uniform invoke the welfare of our troops to further their failing agendas, they transcend the commonplace cynicism of washington. this is hypocrisy as a moral disease."

ok, setting aside the question of what else besides a moral disease hypocrisy could possibly be, we must take offense at lt. col. peters' assertion that those of us who invoke the welfare of our troops are also those who despise our troops. we at skippy, and most of the people we know who are against a first strike against iraq, don't want our service men and women to die in such a war, because we think the war is not inevitable, necessary, or advisable, and therefore would only be political and economic in value. we don't want americans dying for that.

we don't want any young american troops falling in a first-strike battle against a small, weak country, which hasn't been proven to have any direct link to al qaeda terrorism, which hasn't made any aggressive moves against us, or anyone else for that matter, in recent history (yes, it invaded kuwait 12 years ago, and yes, we fought them back, and yes, we won. and the time before that when iraq used chemical weapons against another country, iran, it was with don rumsfeld's personally-delivered blessings).

but to say that those of us who oppose disregarding the united states' 200 year-plus standing position of not making the first strike, to say that we are in bed with saddam hussein, is to impune our patriotism, and our love of this, the greatest country in the world. yes, lt. col. peters, we admire and respect your service in the army for our country; but those bars do not give you the right to call us cowards because we refuse to support an obviously political drum-march into bloody battle, with no provocation, which is quite contrary to our country's moral code.

lt. col. peters goes on: "make no mistake: the anti-war voices long for us to lose any war they cannot prevent." whoa! hold the phone! way, way wrong, sir. when this country goes to battle, we want our troops to prevail. what kind of monsters to do you take us for? do you think we want our country to lose? just because we question the validity of one administration's aggression? maybe in the army there's no room for debate or questions, but sir, this is america, where debate and questions are the right of every citizen.

does lt. col. peters say that same thing about charles sheehan-miles, a decorated gulf war veteran who opposes a first strike against iraq? does he say it to any gulf war veteran who asks that we debate the validity of such a first strike?

does lt. col. peters say that about ordinary americans who express uncertainty about such a move? does he lump all of us into one big vat of cowardly traitors?

let us make one thing perfectly clear here: skippy's father served proudly in the pacific theater in world war two, and in fact was on one of the submarines in tokyo bay when the uss missouri hosted the signing of the surrender treaty. skippy's aunt and sister served in the navy, and both of skippy's sisters have husbands who served in the military. skippy's best friend was in the army. skippy will not stand for someone calling him a coward, or anti-military, or against our troops, just because that same someone questions skippy's right to disagree with one particular administration.

if this country goes to war, we are 100% on the side of our armed forces prevailing. we are not traitors, nor are we even so self-righteous or self-hating as to hope our country is defeated. but more to the point, we want as few casualties as possible when it comes to our young american men and women serving in our military. we support them all so much, we want them to return alive and well. you can't be much more supportive than than.

we would hope that the politicians back home don't put them in harm's way for nothing more than political expediency, or to pad somebody's pocket book, or to just make sure one party gets re-elected. the lives of service personnel are worth more than a seat in the house or senate. in fact, we'd rather see the politicians go to the front lines and experience the horrors of battle firsthand, and then make the decision as to whether or not they want to start a war.

make no mistake. if this nation commits to war, we want america to prevail. but it is not a game. it's not an x-box. it's not a pissing contest. it's not a political boost. it's war. it's life and death. and these decisions should be made with the gravitas and reverence that such weighty risks demand.

posted by Unknown at 8:34 PM
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Columbus and Western Civilization
Throughout his journal, over the next months, Columbus spoke of the native Americans with what seemed like admiring awe: “They are the best people in the world and above all the gentlest--without knowledge of what is evil--nor do they murder or steal...they love their neighbors as themselves and they have the sweetest talk in the world...always laughing.”
And in a letter he wrote to one of his Spanish patrons, Columbus said: “They are very simple and honest and exceedingly liberal with all they have, none of them, in the midst of all this, in his journal, Columbus writes: “They would make fine servants. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Cornell Leftists Trash Columbus/America
In point of fact, the Europeans who discovered America brought advanced civilization to a savage, vicious, animalistic New World. The Natives who inhabited the Americas were brutal thugs waging constant wars and engaging in widespread scalping. Their economies were primitive with little incentive for technological innovation. A three-course meal consisted of maize, tree bark, and human flesh. There were no buildings, no architecture, no offices.

Who do you believe? Zinn or Front Page Mag?
posted by New World at 11:19 AM
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LA Times article on New Times folding. New Times shuts down its weekly in LA for Village Voice Media, and Village Voice Media in turn shuts down its New Times competitor in Cleveland.
Increasingly dominated by large, profit-driven corporations, the 118 members of the Assn. of Alternative Weeklies generate, cumulatively, about a half-billion dollars in advertising sales annually; about half those papers are not independent but function as part of some larger media group.

It's difficult to generalize about the alternative press since some of the papers -- the Chicago Reader, Boston Phoenix and Bay Guardian, to take just three -- are so idiosyncratic as to defy categorization, even in this age of what Brugmann calls "Chains-R-Us" alternative journalism.

"But once you get into chain journalism and you start empire-building, you take on the characteristics of the monopolizing dailies," Brugmann says. "You get involved with bankers and venture capitalists to get cash and then you need big, fat numbers to satisfy them.

"That means you tend to use the same formula everywhere because it's cheaper, and you cover entertainment because it's cheaper -- and that tends to squeeze out local politics."
Via Jim Romenesko's Media News.
posted by Arum at 9:00 AM
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Sunday, October 13, 2002. *
Falwell targeted for death
"I think Mohammed was a terrorist. I read enough by both Muslims and non-Muslims, (to decide) that he was a violent man, a man of war," Jerry Falwell said in a CBS interview last week. Now, Mohsen Shabestari, a representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has fired back some rhetoric of his own, proclaiming, "The death of that man is a religious duty, but his case should not be tied to the Christian community."
posted by New World at 6:29 PM
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It seems as if Neal Pollack is facing some stiff competition. The so-called
National Anxiety Center tries to outdo the inimitable trickster, although without the same panache and finesse and way with words. On the other hand, these fine humorists are never tempted to give themselves away in quite the same way as Mr. Pollack often does - no: they keep a very straight face, and prefer to pull your leg in more subtle ways. For while it is conceivable that each of the points they make (Greens bad! Capitalism good! Islam bad! and so forth) are valid points for somebody, it is quite farfetched that anybody would subscribe to all these opinions at the same time. Heck, even Pat Buchanan opposes a war with Iraq, does he not?

The only real give away is the supposed name of the jester, “Alan Caruba” - clearly an anagram for “Arab Lacuna”. That sort of tells it all.
posted by Henning at 12:01 PM
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Saturday, October 12, 2002. *
Green Berets move into Colombia's oil fields:

America has entered Colombia's 38-year civil conflict for the first time, deploying Green Berets to train government troops in a war-torn oil-rich province in the north.

Previous American military aid has been restricted to the war on drugs, but now President George W Bush is spending £60 million to train and equip Colombia's 18th Brigade in Arauca province, one of the most dangerous regions in the country, with both Left-wing guerrillas and Right-wing paramilitaries feeding off its oil wealth
posted by New World at 8:28 AM
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Friday, October 11, 2002. *
The Empire is always right.
posted by Amir at 6:16 PM
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hey, we're reporters, not mathematicians

you may have seen news of the congressional budget office's letter to congress which estimated the cost of an armed conflict with iraq.

you may also have seen where we previously have said, in a nutshell, "it's gonna be 'spensive!" the cbo offered two different scenarios, one relying heavily on ground troops, and one relying heavily on air attacks, both costing approximately, in round figures, a whole lot of money.

well, the gang over at, not to be outdone by skippy and his staff, also posted their version of the same figures from the same letter from the same congressional budget office. now, when we say "their version," we don't mean to imply they made up different numbers than the ones in the letter to congress from the cbo; the did not. but they seemed to play fast and loose certain factors the cbo mentioned, and their story leaves the distinct impression that a war will cost a whole lot less than the figure that anyone who actually knows how to add would come up with.

cnn's opening paragraph: "the congressional budget office said tuesday that a u.s. war against iraq would cost between $9 billion and $13 billion, according to an initial estimate sent to the house and senate."

we're sorry, but no matter how many different ways we read that sentence, the meaning always comes out to be a war would cost between $9-$13 billion. period. not $8.5 billion, not $13.2 billion. pretty simple on the face of it.

however, if we examine the cbo letter to congress, the source of cnn's bold statement, we find these words in the second paragraph: "the incremental costs of deploying a force to the persian gulf...would be between $9 billion and $13 billion." [empahsis ours]. (that's just getting everybody and everything over there, even before we begin!)

the next three sentences in the cbo letter states: "prosecuting a war would cost between $6 billion and $9 billion a month--although cbo cannot estimate how long such a war is likely to last. after hostilities end, the costs to return u.s. forces to their home bases would range between $5 billion and $7 billion. further, the incremental cost of an occupation following combat operations could vary from about $1 billion to $4 billion a month."

so let's cut cnn some slack and assume the war will last less than a month (it very well could). and let's even give their argument more advantage by taking the lowest of the figures the cbo offered. and let's pretend that in some wild scenario, the u.s. doesn't spend one thin dime for occupational forces after the shooting is done. even with all those concessions to bolster cnn's point, anybody who passed third grade math can see that

...........................$9 billion - - - to get the stuff over there
plus....................$6 billion - - - to actually fight the durn thing
plus....................$5 billion - - - to get the survivors home

equals................$20 billion.

that's at least $7 billion more than the "$13 billion" ceiling that the opening paragraph announces, more than 50% higher than cnn claims it will cost!

now to be fair to cnn (or perhaps to even make them look stupider, we're not sure which), the article goes on to mention that it would cost extra money actually fight the thing, and to bring people home, and for further occupation of iraq afterwards, and it cites correct figures from the cbo letter.

to wit: the sixth paragraph of the cnn story, in toto (gee, and even toto knows how to add, and dorothy too):

"once u.s. troops, equipment and warplanes were in position to do battle, it would cost about $6 billion to $9 billion a month to run the war."

well, gosh, pardon our websters, but doesn't "running" a war count as the "cost" of war? who's doing these books, arthur andersen? we don't understand how the article can state unequivocally in its headline and opening paragraph that a war would "cost up to $13 billion" and then go on to mention figures that add up to, even with the lowball prices, far more than that number.

do they think flunked arithmetic? are we suppose to sit back and say, "put that calculator away, mildred, i trust these cnn figures implicitly. $13 billion is doable. good thing it's not $19 billion or something like that. let's send in some money now. what's the address of the pentagon again?"

we are sorry that cnn resorts to such blatant propaganda and fact-spinning as to put forth one figure as the cost, and then to set out other figures that, literally, don't add up.

but, what do you expect from a network that uses connie chung and paula zahn as anchors?
posted by Unknown at 10:27 AM
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US dumping unsold GM food on Africa:

Two leading international environment and development groups accused the US yesterday of manipulating the southern African food crisis to benefit their GM food interests and of using the UN to distribute domestic food surpluses which could not otherwise find a market.

But while the EU and other countries have mostly given money for countries to buy food on the open market, US food aid to southern Africa has been tied to heavily subsidised GM food grown only in the US.
posted by New World at 8:43 AM
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Thursday, October 10, 2002. *
Did Democratic ad subliminally fag-bash Republican opponent?

State Sen. Mike Taylor, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, will withdraw from the race this afternoon, saying a Montana Democratic Party television ad has destroyed his campaign.

The ad is supposed to accuse Taylor of abusing student loan programs, but in reality seems to "out" Taylor as a homosexual:

Here's the ad. It shows Taylor twenty years ago in a disco-era suit demonstrating how to give a facial as part of a hairdresser school video. The gay angle is implied not stated, and wouldn't even be noticed in an urban area like L.A. where I live. Apparently though, Montanans noticed.

Note: Democrats are responsible for the ad, not Republicans...
posted by Bob at 10:28 PM
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Unknown News is back.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:49 PM
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I am listening right now to Robert Byrd live on the Senate floor. Tune in, why don't you? This is what the real America--if such a thing exists--is all about.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:53 PM
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Away from the war: Over half of Americans say President Bush is more interested in protecting the interests of big corporations than ordinary Americans, according to a new CBS/New York Times poll. Some 56% say the national economy is in bad shape. [CBS].

And, perhaps not surprisingly, following a summer of revelations about corporate sleaze, executives are turning to private security companies and James Bond-style gadgets to keep angry ex-employees and stockholders at bay. [Yahoo].

Former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow did do the corporate 'perp walk' last week, was taken in handcuffs to the courthouse. But, say legal experts, people want more than a simple application of the law; they want justice. [NY Times]; [read more].
posted by Hash at 6:36 AM
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War Against Labor

All in time
Bush fires a Taft-Hartley bunker-buster for union-busters out west

So why can't the two sides even sit down at the table together?

The ILWU charges that the reason is much broader: that after decades of having to honor hard-fought union victories, the PMA is out to break the union. Further, union leaders and members have every belief that the Bush Administration intends to help -- in fact, has already done so by invokation of the Taft-Hartley Act, organized labor's single most loathed law.

"The problem isn't the beginning of Taft-Hartley," says Vance Lelli, a spokesman for ILWU Local 23 and president of the Pierce County (Tacoma, Wash.) Central Labor Council. "It's what [the Bush Administration] can invoke at the end of it -- the forced contracts, the concessions." [read more]
posted by Gordon at 1:54 AM
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Always a fighter, always a terrorist
By Amira Hass

These are the rules of war as laid down over the last two years:

A Palestinian is a terrorist when he attacks Israeli civilians on both sides of the Green Line - in Israel and the territories - and when he attacks Israeli soldiers at the gates of a Palestinian city. A Palestinian is a terrorist when an army unit breaks into his neighborhood with tanks and he shoots at a soldier who gets out of a tank for a moment, and he is a terrorist when he is hit by helicopter fire and is holding a rifle. Palestinians are terrorists whether they kill civilians or soldiers.

The Israeli soldier is a fighter when he shoots a missile from a helicopter or a shell from a tank at a group of people who gather in Khan Yunis, after the fighter or one of his colleagues fires a shell or a missile at a house - from which the army says a Qassam rocket was fired - and kills a man and woman. He is a fighter when he encounters two armed Palestinians in the brush. The Israeli soldier kills armed people and kills civilians. He kills senior commanders of battalions of murderous terrorists and he kills kindergarten-aged children and the elderly in their homes. More accurately, they are killed by IDF fire. Most accurately, they are killed, claim Palestinian sources. [read more]
posted by Gordon at 1:18 AM
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Wednesday, October 09, 2002. *
American Hero Robert Byrd Most Likely To Pull A Mr. Smith: "But while it appeared to be clear sailing for the measure in the GOP-led House, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., served notice on other Democrats at a party luncheon that he intended to use parliamentary tactics to delay a final vote, according to those who attended the session."
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:59 PM
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Record Demand at Food Banks: "As Washington grapples with one of the nation's highest unemployment rates, a record number of the state's families are relying on food banks to stave off hunger."
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:42 PM
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From Relton DuPiniot, Blogeur: is always good, but especially today.
posted by A.Q. at 8:36 AM
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To Catch a Killer: "An NYPD detective on the cops' best chance to nab the D.C. sniper." Slate
posted by Anonymous at 2:44 AM
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Settlement tightens the noose on Jerusalem

The document that Abu Mazen's department has been drafting for the past month calls the settlements "colonies" and warns, "If the international community continues to remain unwilling to reign in Israeli colony construction and expansion, irreversible `facts on the ground' and the de facto apartheid system, such facts create will force Palestinian policy makers to re-evaluate the plausibility of a two-state solution."

According to the document, Israeli construction in the West Bank in general and in the area of Jerusalem in particular would leave the Palestinians with chances for a "state" in name only, that would more closely resemble an Indian reservation in the United States, with limited access to water and land. This is the opinion of the document's authors - a team of legal scholars, academics and geographers who have been working in the framework of what is called the "Jerusalem task force" for the past two years. [read more]
posted by Gordon at 1:38 AM
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Tuesday, October 08, 2002. *

They're doing their best to calculate the cost (exclusive of the subsequent peace keeping and nation-building efforts - which we're sure to shirk as per our norm) of the promised war against the Iraqis. Will it be $50 billion? In excess of $80 billion? Somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion? A definite figure, so far as I can tell, has yet to be reckoned.

What is certain is who will be paying for the war. The rich favored by Bush's mammoth $1 trillion+ tax cut won't be bearing any disproportionate share. The Iraqis will obviously bear the highest human costs, with the poor unfortunates comprising the US armed forces picking up the remainder of the tab. Good thing our Fearless Leader's got such a generous entitlement system ready for those returning in poorer order than when they shipped out. What a way to support the troops!
posted by Grady at 7:53 PM
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art imitates congress

last wednesday night marked the first appearance of sitting senator fred thompson as the new district attorney, arthur branch, on nbc's plow horse law and order.

senator thompson is no novice thespian. he costarred in a number of major hollywood productions before running for al gore's deserted senate seat in 1996. he replaced the inexplicably boring dianne wiest as the district attorney (she herself had replaced the incomparable steven hill, who is answer to the trivia question "who led the mission impossible force during the first year of that show?" extra points if you know the name of the character mr. hill played on imf).

for some reason, dianne wiest, who is a great actress, really sucked on that show. her character, nora lewin, was very uninvolving, and nothing about her performance really jumped out at the viewers. the most exciting thing she ever did on that show was be introduced, in her first episode, by america's mayor, rudy guiliani (who set the precedent for politicians moonlighting on dick wolf productions, we suppose). she was so uninteresting, we'd rather watch steven hill on his td waterhouse commercials.

but that's not the point of this rant, if there even is one. last night as we watched sen. thompson trade barbs with da jack mccoy and assistant da blondie barbie, or whatever her name is, mrs. skippy remarked "gee, do you think bill clinton will try to get a job on this show too?" (mrs. skippy is just as funny as skippy, and that's why he married her. we have no idea why she married him).

that got us to thinking. sen. thompson is still a sitting senator, working in congress, until the end of this year. we have spoken about sen. thompson's tv duties interfering with his day job here.

now, when rumors about bill clinton negotiating for a talk show were flying around the great echo chamber, there was such an indignant hew and cry coming from the screeching heads that you could fry an egg on your overheated tv set.

as it turns out, those rumors were just that: rumors. of course, that didn't stop anyone from decrying mr. clinton's lack of taste or dignity for contemplating something that it turned out he was never contemplating in the first place.

but mr. clinton was a private citizen when this was supposedly taking place. sen. thompson, if you'll notice our use of the title "senator," is still a senator.

take it from us, many of skippy's staff have worked on television shows (not law and order, but, buffy, fer shure!). it takes a lot of work and focus and energy and time and commitment. to be fair, none of us have ever been a senator. but we bet that takes at least as much work and focus and etc. as being a television actor. we are very unsure how anyone could do both at the same time.

trust us, it's hard enough to hold down a day job typing for insurance companies while trying to be in show biz, we can only imagine how difficult it would be to be a sitting senator (uh, mr. daschle, i can't be here for the vote on the resolution to invade iraq, i've got a...a dentist appointment. yeah, that's it. a dentist appointment. a 2 week dentist appointment. see yah.")

but we were unable to find any article or editorial online even approaching the reprimands that bill clinton got for maybe doing something in the future (which he never even was contemplating). with the exception of a piece that we ourselves first posted on sept. 2, which is no longer available on line. this is an excerpt from james brosnan, writing in the memphis commercial appeal:

"new episodes debut in late september. even though the part would require only two days a week of shooting in new york city, it could mean thompson would miss votes, committee hearings and other work. acting, like writing books, is one of the few exceptions to the senate ethics rules that bar outside earned income. but thompson has a moral obligation to voters to finish the job he hired on for six years ago. if he can't fulfill that role full-time, he should resign and let gov. don sundquist appoint an interim senator. or thompson should at least return a portion of his $150,000-a-year salary to taxpayers." (copyright 2002 the commercial appeal)

that's it. that's the only objection we could find to a sitting republican senator using his time as an actor. now, please don't misunderstand us. we think fred thompson is a fine actor, and we are looking forward to his work on law and order; maybe it will make it interesting again (we can dream, can't we?) he certainly can't be any worse than ms. wiest was.

but we just find it amazing at how the american media holds democrats to a different standard than republicans. oh, what the hell are we saying? we don't find it amazing at all. it's par for the course. what we find it as, is depressing. where's the fairness and balance? who stole america's sense of fair play?

where's goren and eames when you need them?

posted by Unknown at 6:36 PM
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How to f*ck up a camera -say, a surveillance camera, with a $2 laser pointer...(snagged from Boing Boing).
posted by Kirsten at 5:01 PM
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you are invited
to write haiku for peace at
randomWalks dayku
posted by Adam Rice at 1:08 PM
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let's hope they never disappear skippy

we were sailing along with the uss clueless reading his post that refutes a discussion on metafilter about the upcoming war with iraq.

the value of metafilter or the points made therein aside, mr. de beste did say something that we felt obligated to respond to:

" i'm afraid our metafilterian friends wouldn't know a police state if it fell on their heads, or repression if it was shoved up their asses." [ed. note: we have no knowledge if this is a true statement or not, nor do we ever wish to personally find out, especially in regards to the later half of the sentence.] "but they might try looking across the pacific, at one of those marvelous socialist people's paradises where there aren't any corporate devils running things, to get some idea what real repression is like. here's a clue: it doesn't mean that people call you names or are contemptuous because of your silly opinions. it doesn't mean that they disagree with you vehemently. it even doesn't mean that you can lose your job because you're a writer who is moonlighting.

it means that you get arrested. it means you get charged with subversion. it means that you get given a brief trial, in secret, with the outcome predetermined. it means that you can go away and never come back."

he then goes on to detail an example of a man in china being arresting for posting subversive text on the internet; which a terrible, truly terrible reprehensible event that no right thinking person would ever condone.

now, for the moment, let's not even bother to point out to mr. de beste that for most rational people on the left (you there, over on the right, stop laughing, there are such people), that for most of us, communism has long since been in disfavor; we all know totalitarianism is not good.

we hate to break this to you, but that's exactly why we are arguing so loudly about mr. bush's current tinkering with the constitution now. and we wonder why mr. de beste has to look all the way across the pacific for an example of someone getting "arrested," "charged with subversion," a trial in "secret," and going "away without ever coming back."

for instance, take mr. bush and mr. ashcroft's liberal (sorry, didn't mean to touch a nerve, there) application of the term "enemy combatant" to various individuals that they have stuck away in little tiny cells somewhere without access to lawyers or charges being levied. we wonder if those people can be called "repressed."

and we aren't the only ones wondering. sens. levin and feingold have written a letter to the justice department asking for specific definitions as to the term "enemy combatant" (among the questions: time limits of detention, recourse available to challenge such designations, what process is involved for designating someone as such, etc etc). to our knowledge, mr. ashcroft has not responded (please, anyone with facts confirming or denying this, let us know).

now, in case mr. de beste doesn't feel that carl levin or russell feingold's questioning of mr. bush and mr. ashcroft's actions holds any water in this discussion, how about the cato institute?

"in the year since the september 11 attacks, civil liberties for some people have fallen into a surreal legal limbo," wrote robert a. levy last august 30. "yaser esam hamdi is an example." hamdi, a u.s. citizen, is "being detained indefinitely, without seeing an attorney, even though he hasn't been charged with any crime. jose padilla, who allegedly plotted to build a radiological 'dirty bomb,' is also a u.s. citizen. he, too, is being detained by the military - indefinitely, without seeing an attorney, even though he hasn't been charged with any crime. meanwhile, zacarias moussaoui, purportedly the 20th hijacker, is not a u.s. citizen. neither is richard reid, the accused shoe bomber. both have attorneys. both are being tried before federal civilian courts."

how about the case of mohammed azmath, who was arrested on a train in texas on 9/12 right after the attacks. he was luckier than the two men mentioned above, because he was eventually charged after three months. the crime the government accused this man of? credit card fraud.

"azmath was in solitary confinement from september 14, 2001, when he arrived at the metropolitan detention center in brooklyn, until he was transferred to the jail's general population sometime this august. he was assigned a lawyer only after he was charged with the credit-card crime, in december."

at least the buffalo six are getting bond hearings. slow as it may be, they are getting their constitutional rights.

there are many many other instances of people "disappearing" in the post 9/11 atmosphere, and many attempts by the judicial system to do what it can to correct this situation.

"secret arrests are 'a concept odious to a democratic society,' and profoundly antithetical to the bedrock values that characterize a free and open one such as ours," wrote us district judge gladys kessler, in a ruling ordering that the government release all names of all detainees being held in post 9/11 investigations (she later stayed that order pending appeal). judge damon j. keith, in a sixth district court of appeals hearing on the case of muslim clergyman rabih haddad, who had overstayed his tourist visa, wrote "democracies die behind closed doors."

so, is there a point to our ranting? maybe, we're not sure, we never are. we do not under any circumstance contend that living in communist china is better than living in mr. bush's america. we also do not maintain that america is anywhere near as repressed as china, or several hundred other governments in the world.

but we do think that the constitution is being slowly, and, we must admit, artfully, dissassembled before our very eyes. and we don't have to go too far afield to find repression. at least, more repression than there was just one administration ago.

(many thanks to talkleft for providing many links to stories to bolster our case.)

posted by Unknown at 11:16 AM
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