Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Horror

Depleted uranium was hailed as a wonder weapon when it was developed. Used largely for tankbusting sabot rounds, it was heavy, tough, penetrated any known armor, and flamed on impact. We now even have tanks with depleted uranium armor.

Too bad it's causing a bloody horror show. Warning: graphic. (via)

WRONG

I respect Kos a great deal, but he's just dead wrong on this:

The prohibition on foreign-born presidents is an obsolete artifact of a bygone era. That Republicans need Ahnold to shake them out of their natural xenophobia is a plus. We are a nation of immigrants, and to deny voters the choice of candidate on the basis of country of origin is undemocratic.

The pro-Arnold people would do well to deemphasize the link to their demigod. No need to make this a partisan issue.

And why is it Republicans on the bleeding edge of this issue? Why is it people like Hatch introducing this legislation? Democrats don't have a lock on immigrant voters, as this past election demonstrated. This issue has symbolic value to immigrants. Dems need to get out ahead of it, and get away from strategizing against Ahnold (if that's indeed what they are doing).

I've already seen a few smart liberals get sucked into this argument, that it's "fairness" that's at issue, not "end the Republic by running a wannabe Austrian dictator." We need to shut up about Jennifer Granholm, shut up about "fairness" and "sympathy" and "getting out ahead" and smash this goddamned thing down. Read the comments to Kos' piece too. Many of them, on both sides of the issue, are very interesting and well thought out.



A Real Conservative Thinks the Current Variety are Nuts

Paul Craig Roberts was assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, and worked for the WSJ and the National Review. He finds the current iteration of "conservative" to be both scary and, uh, non-conservative:

I remember when friends would excitedly telephone to report that Rush Limbaugh or G. Gordon Liddy had just read one of my syndicated columns over the air. That was before I became a critic of the US invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration, and the neoconservative ideologues who have seized control of the US government.

America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country's population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion.

The evening before Thanksgiving Rush Limbaugh was on C-Span TV explaining that these glorious developments would have been impossible if talk radio and the conservative movement had not combined to break the power of the liberal media.

In the Thanksgiving issue of National Review, editor Richard Lowry and former editor John O'Sullivan celebrate Bush's reelection triumph over "a hostile press corps." "Try as they might," crowed O'Sullivan, "they couldn't put Kerry over the top."

There was a time when I could rant about the "liberal media" with the best of them. But in recent years I have puzzled over the precise location of the "liberal media."

Not so long ago I would have identified the liberal media as the New York Times and Washington Post, CNN and the three TV networks, and National Public Radio. But both the Times and the Post fell for the Bush administration's lies about WMD and supported the US invasion of Iraq. On balance CNN, the networks, and NPR have not made an issue of the Bush administration's changing explanations for the invasion.

Apparently, Rush Limbaugh and National Review think there is a liberal media because the prison torture scandal could not be suppressed and a cameraman filmed the execution of a wounded Iraqi prisoner by a US Marine.

Do the Village Voice and The Nation comprise the "liberal media"? The Village Voice is known for Nat Henthof and his columns on civil liberties. Every good conservative believes that civil liberties are liberal because they interfere with the police and let criminals go free. The Nation favors spending on the poor and disfavors gun rights, but I don't see the "liberal hate" in The Nation's feeble pages that Rush Limbaugh was denouncing on C-Span.

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

It's a powerful piece by someone who is genuinely conservative, not a bloody-minded lunatic. Check it out and pass it around (via).

I'm With Bubba

I want for Christmas what he wants.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Are They Doing Us a Favor?

There's been a great deal of angst about Denny Hastert yanking the intelligence bill until he has enough Repug votes to pass it without the Democrats.

Come on, the stupid bastard is doing us a favor. All we need to do is sit back with crossed arms, let the country go to hell, and then say, "Not our fault. Not our fault."

Worrisome

NPR reported this morning that up to 100 US soldiers face the possibility of the death penalty for killing Iraqi civilians during Operation Iraqi "Freedom."

This sounds like a pretty tiny percentage of the hundred thousand or so troops on the ground, until you realize that the American military is the fattest fighting organization in history. It's 95% tail, and about 5% fighting troops. With that in mind, that percentage is pretty damn high, and, if this is true, scary.

Red States?

Mark Kleiman wonders, as my partner and I occasionally have, if it wouldn't be a good thing to lose the junk states down south:

You probably missed this in the rest of the Election Day disasters, but Alabama, as it was voting overhwhelmingly for George W. Bush, also rejected an attempt to remove two frankly racist provisions of the state constitution. One would have repealed the constitutional guarantee of racial segregation in the schools, and the other would have repealed a provision (passed in reaction to Brown v. Board of Ed.) explicitly denying that Alabamians have a right to public education.

I know we're trying to bring about national unity here, but don't you think it would help, just a little bit, if the white inhabitants of the Red states behaved a little bit less like lunatics?

I think it's time to stop calling them the "red states." Let's call the snake-handling racists what they really are and have never ceased being: the grey states.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Necessary Corrective

I often wonder if there's something behind the way that the military has been pumped up in America to be a wonderful be-all and end-all full of brave people and really neat weapons. This is a country, after all, that until the end of World War II never had a large standing army in peacetime. Anyone else watch Mail Call? Hey, aren't those .50 caliber machine guns neato? Is it possible to turn on cable TV and not find a show glorifying the gadgetry of war?

Here's the reality. Warning: real dead bodies. A useful corrective to all the drooling over the M1A1 tank and the F-15E Strike Eagle and how really cool the M-16 is.

Something Conservatives and Liberals can Agree On!

Is it not time - past time - for a moratorium on new productions of A Christmas Carol? Puke!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

MacDonough's Song, by Rudyard Kipling

Some poetry for the day. Read it, and think about it.

"As easy as A B C"--A Diversity of Creatures"

Whether the State can loose and bind
In Heaven as well as on Earth:
If it be wiser to kill mankind
Before or after the birth--
These are matters of high concern
Where State-kept schoolmen are;
But Holy State (we have lived to learn)
Endeth in Holy War.

Whether The People be led by The Lord,
Or lured by the loudest throat:
If it be quicker to die by the sword
Or cheaper to die by vote--
These are things we have dealt with once,
(And they will not rise from their grave)
For Holy People, however it runs,
Endeth in wholly Slave.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King--
Or Holy People's Will--
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!
Saying --after--me:--

Once there was The People--Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, 0 ye slain!
Once there was The People--it shall never be again!


Read the post about the Indiana rep who sneers that the courts have no army or navy. And have no truck with the senseless thing....

Repugs: Above the Law

As the GOP continues its rapid conversion into the NSDAP, the Repugs have announced that they are above the law (via):

...such leaders as the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Republican Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana, flush with what they see as a successful right-wing revolution, believe they can make the federal courts virtually powerless.

Rep. Hostettler, addressing a special legislative briefing of the Christian Coalition last month in Washington, reportedly talked at length about a bill he plans to introduce. It would deny federal courts the right to hear cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans same-sex marriage.

"Congress controls the federal judiciary," Rep. Hostettler was quoted as saying. "If Congress wants to, it can refer all cases to the state courts. Congress can say the federal courts have limited power to enforce their decision."

Apparently, the Hoosier congressman has not heard of the balance of power among the three arms of our government. He was quoted as telling the Christian Coalition members:

"When the courts make unconstitutional decisions, we should not enforce them. Federal courts have no army or navy... The court can opine, decide, talk about, sing, whatever it wants to do. We're not saying they can't do that. At the end of the day, we're saying the court can't enforce its opinions."

Another congressman, Alabama Republican Robert Aderholdt, was quoted as advocating court stripping as a means to protect state-sponsored Ten Commandment displays, such as the one erected by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

And then there was Sheila Cole, executive director of the Republican Study Committee, a group of ultra-conservative House members. She said federal judges who refuse to listen to Congress might well be impeached.

Sieg HEIL! Sieg HEIL!

You were warned before the "election." These people do not intend to ever lose, ever. They believe they are a permanent majority.

Now's the time to start buying guns, my friends.

Repugs = Dumb

The Repugs may be dancing and chanting over the Chimp's "victory," but the nasty fact is that Repugs just aren't real smart. An example: my partner's father is a lunatic right-wing Repug. Unfortunately we occasionally have to spend time with him. The TV at his place, no surprise, is permanently tuned to Fox. Yesterday, the tiresome and not over-bright Juan Williams popped up. My partner's father's reaction? "There's one of those god-damned liberals from NPR." I pointed out that Williams is a right winger. "No, he's one of those god-damned liberals from NPR." Uh, yeah, right, whatever. These are the kind of cretins who vote for the chimp.

Second example: some readers over at the Ohio Voter Suppression News blog didn't appreciate me referring to their party as "Repugs" and went into a little tizzy fit. How dare I?! Well, considering these are the people who turned "liberal" into an insult, who refer to Democrats as "blame America first traitors," and so on, referring to those foolish enough to espouse the new NSDAP as "Repugs" seems pretty darn mild.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Ohio Lunatics on the March

Ohio hypocrite in chief Phil Burress - married three times and a "recovered" porn addict - led the inane fight to "protect" marriage from people like my partner and me. Thanks to the fact that many fundamentalist Christians are apparently not real bright, he succeeded. But that's not enough. Hypocrite Phil is on the march with his army of the dimwitted:

...Mr. Burress plans to take his grass-roots movement in Ohio to a new level, using a computer database of 1.5 million voters to build a network of Christian conservative officials, candidates and political advocates.

He envisions holding town-hall-style meetings early next year in Ohio's 88 counties to identify issues, recruit organizers and train volunteers. With a cadre of 15 to 20 leaders in each county, he says he believes religious conservatives can be running school boards, town councils and county prosecutors' offices across the state within a few years.

"I'm building an army," Mr. Burress said. "We can't just let people go back to the pews and go to sleep."

Perish the thought. It's much more important to turn America into a Taliban-style theocracy. But gay marriage isn't the only thing Burress and the other loonies are turning their attention to. They want to end no fault divorce and cite "childless marriage" as being as big a problem as gay marriage (!). If all this appeals to you, feel free to join their project to dig a tunnel back to the ninth century. If you're a fiscal/free-trade Republican, you need to band together to butt kick them out of your party before they come for you.



Wednesday, November 24, 2004

They Just Don't Care

Caligula and Rum Dum continue to feed American soldiers into the meatgrinder of Iraq. When one dies, they send letters to the next of kin, "regretting" the loss. But these two warlords don't even bother to sign the letters personally, as retired Colonel David Hackworth points out:

When I went to Jim Turner, a good man saddled with a tough job as one of Rumsfeld’s flacks at the Pentagon, for a confirmation or a denial, he said, “Rumsfeld signs the letters himself.”

I then went to about a dozen next-of-kin of American soldiers KIA in Iraq. Most agreed with the colonels’ accusations and said they’d noticed and been insulted by the machine-driven signature. One father bitterly commented that he thought it was a shame that the SecDef could keep his squash schedule but not find the time to sign his dead son’s letter. Several also felt compelled to tell me that the letter they received from George Bush also looked as though it was not signed personally by the president.

Dr. Ted Smith, whose son Eric was among the first 100 killed in Iraq, notes that the letter he received “from the commander in chief was signed with a thick, green marking pen. I thought it was stamped then and do even now. He had time for golf and the ranch but not enough to sign a decent signature with a pen for his beloved hero soldiers. I was going to send the letter back but did not. I am sorry I didn’t.”

Sue Niederer, whose son Seth was also killed in Iraq, sums it up: “My son wasn’t a person to these people, he was just an entity to play their war game. But where are their children? Not one of them knows how any of us feel, and they obviously aren’t interested in finding out. None of them cares. And Rumsfeld depersonalizing his signature – it’s a slap in the face, don’t you think?”

Probably. I have devoted so much of my later life crusading to save soldiers from uncaring generals and politicians and bureaucrats, who tend so easily to view these kids – who are rarely their own flesh and blood – as abstract pawns in a virtual game of chess, because I was there. I stood and was counted, and I will never forget the pain when I signed KIA letters in Korea and Vietnam. I would choke up as I signed them – I could see the boys’ faces, their cocky smiles, their muddy soldier suits. Each signing reinforced the awesome responsibility I carried as a leader to be as protective as possible about the young lives entrusted to me.

After I talked with the nearest and dearest of the KIA, I called Turner back and told him there was evidence that Rumsfeld’s signature was in fact machine-produced. I asked him to double-check, and he promised to get me the straight skinny by my deadline. But late Friday I received a typical Pentagon duck-and-dodge e-mail: “Regret to say I have not been able to get a response as of COB (close of business) today .… ”

Throughout World War II, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall made sure that President Franklin Roosevelt was briefed in detail on the number of soldiers who had fallen. FDR, incidentally, probably wanted to know. He had sons who were serving.

Bastards.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Pilot Incompetence

We don't know much about the pilots who were going to pick up former President Bush yesterday, but we do know that good old fashioned pilot error may have killed them, thankfully before they had Bush on board. What's not generally known is that a lot of the pilots flying for these charter companies are startlingly bad. The pilots who murdered Senator Paul Wellstone - and I use that word advisedly - are a case in point. From the NTSB report (available online at ntsb.gov):

The pilot, age 55, was hired by Aviation Charter on April 26, 2001. He held a multiengine airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate, issued August 4, 1989, with a type rating in the Cessna Citation (CE-500). (In April 1989, the pilot had been issued a notice of disapproval by the FAA following a flight check for his ATP certificate because of his unsatisfactory performance in several areas, including area arrivals, instrument landing system [ILS] approaches, normal/abnormal procedures, and judgment. He received additional training before retaking and passing the test on August 4, 1989.)
...
From February 2 to 20, 1990, the pilot stood trial on criminal charges for mail and wire fraud. He was convicted and sentenced to 2 years in prison and 5 years probation. The pilot submitted a letter of resignation to Simmons dated April 27, 1990. He began his prison sentence on June 8, 1990, and remained in prison until November 8, 1991, at which time he started serving the probation sentence, which he completed on November 7, 1996.
...
Aviation Charter's lead ground instructor stated that the pilot was average on learning airplane systems and that several company pilots had indicated that the pilot's flying skills were below average. Several Aviation Charter pilots who had flown with the accident pilot described him as "very meticulous," "by the book," "calm," and "laid back." The pilot was also described as "friendly," "cheerful," "pleasant," "calm," and "diligent in his use of checklists." According to several Aviation Charter copilots, the accident pilot was generally well liked by them because he had a reputation for letting them fly the airplane. A few copilots stated that because the pilot often let them handle the flight controls, they were not certain of his skill level. Several Aviation Charter pilots indicated that the accident pilot often allowed them to conduct the flights they flew with him as if they were single-pilot operations (that is, he allowed them to handle the flight controls and communications and perform all of the checklists without his assistance).

One Aviation Charter pilot expressed concerns about the pilot's flying skills, monitoring capabilities, and tendency to become distracted. Some company pilots stated that the accident pilot was not particularly assertive; however, other pilots stated that they thought the accident pilot could be assertive, if necessary. One company pilot, who had flown with the accident pilot shortly after Aviation Charter hired him, described him as "too timid to be a pilot." An Aviation Charter King Air pilot indicated that he had taken the airplane controls away from the accident pilot during an instrument approach because he could not maintain altitude. A company King Air copilot indicated that during level flight in IMC, he had to take the controls away from the accident pilot because he allowed the airplane to enter a 45° bank and a 1,000-fpm descent.

Further, another company King Air copilot indicated that during a flight with the accident pilot about 2 months before the accident, the pilot did not have his navigational radio tuned to the VOR in use for the approach, which caused the pilot's course deviation indicator (CDI) to provide erroneous indications during the entire approach. The copilot was the flying pilot and had his navigation radio tuned to the correct VOR and completed the approach without incident. The copilot stated that he later had to explain to the accident pilot the reason that his CDI was not indicating properly during the approach. According to Aviation Charter's director of operations and the company pilots who told Safety Board investigators about these incidents, none of them were ever reported to company management.
...
After the accident, Safety Board investigators obtained five of the pilot's logbooks from his wife, the most recent of which began with a statement signed by the pilot and a notary public, dated January 23, 2001, which stated that the pilot had "lost his logbook(s) dating from 1979 to December 1994." The letter summarized the pilot's flight hours from 1979 to 1994 as 4,518 total hours, 3,379 hours of which were in multiengine airplanes. The notarized statement also stated that the pilot had "not operated an aircraft from 1994 to December 2000."

Safety Board investigators reviewed all of the logbooks provided by the pilot's wife. One logbook covered a period from December 1978, when the pilot received initial flight training, through May 1986. The pilot's flight time from May 1986 to May 1990 was recorded in two separate logbooks, and these logbooks contained conflicting accounts of his activity during this period.

So much for the "pilot." Here's Wellstone's copilot:

According to Aviation Charter employment records, the copilot had never been employed previously as a pilot. However, his logbook entries and other records indicated that he worked as a pilot for a skydive operator from October 1998 through March 1999. According to the skydive operator, the copilot was let go when he did not meet pilot qualifications standards for flying the Cessna 182.

In February 1999, Northwest Airlines hired the copilot to provide instruction to company pilots on Airbus A320 systems and procedures and cockpit procedures during
initial and recurrent ground school. As part of his employment, the copilot observed two complete sequences of systems training lessons and one complete sequence of flight-training lessons. He also received seven flight-training lessons in an A320 simulator. The copilot's instructor during these lessons twice noted that the copilot needed to be reminded to keep his hands on the throttles during approaches.

After observing Northwest's systems and flight training, the copilot was trained to teach each of the systems and procedures lessons. During this training, the copilot had to thoroughly learn the systems of the A320 one at a time and then demonstrate his ability to teach each system before moving onto the next system. Northwest records indicate that the copilot was not able to successfully complete this stage of the training program. According to his supervisor, the copilot's ability to learn and retain the details of the A320 systems was far lower than that of fellow trainees with comparable flying experience. He added that, by the time the other trainees finished learning to teach all of the A320 systems lessons, the copilot had mastered less than half of the lessons. The company provided the copilot with special assistance, but he was still unable to master the material. He resigned from the company in October 1999 and began working as a customer service representative for another company located at the same training facility.
...
Aviation Charter's lead ground instructor characterized the copilot's performance in ground school as below average and stated that he spent extra time working with him. He stated that the copilot had problems remembering memory items, calculating weights and balances, and applying formulas. He added that the copilot's performance was acceptable at the conclusion of ground training. Pilots who had flown with the copilot described him as "friendly," "happy," "organized," "motivated," and "eager to learn." Several pilots who had flown with the copilot described him as "not assertive" and expressed concern about his flying skills, especially his inability to land the airplane without assistance. Two pilots stated that the copilot had difficulties with power management when flying an approach and that he had to be reminded to keep one hand on the throttles and to monitor his power gauges. One of these two pilots, who had been mentoring the copilot and flew with him often, stated that this was a consistent problem for the copilot.

Jesus, what a pair. Given these two "pilots," what happened to Wellstone and his companions was inevitable:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew's failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which led to an aerodynamic stall from which they did not recover.

It's going to be interesting to read the NTSB's report on yesterday's accident. Perhaps the pilots were skilled and the accident either not their fault or an honest mistake. But the way other pilots cover for incompetent collegues is really frightening, and Paul Wellstone's fatal flight is a good case in point.

New Sideshow Address!

Get your Avedon Carol here. I'll change the blogroll later.

It's Not Just a Texas Problem

Jesse at Pandagon snickers at the latest Texas textbook controversy. It's easy to laugh about red state morons, but as someone who works for one of the "big four" publishers of secondary textbooks I can tell you this: your kids are reading Texas shit too. When we write a textbook, we have to take into consideration the largest market: Texas. Texas adoptions are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. We do not write two different books, one for Texas, one for the rest of the country. Your kids are using textbooks, no matter whose book they use - McDougal, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Holt, etc. - written to comply to Texas "standards."

It's not funny, Jesse.

The Naked Emperor

Bush forgets to zip here.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Smash This Down

William Safire joins the list of Repugs whining about "fairness" when all they really want to do is run proto-dictator Arnold Schwarzenegger for President:

When an immigrant is naturalized, his or her citizenship becomes as natural as "natural born." The oath taken and the pledge of allegiance given make the immigrant 100 percent American, with all the rights, privileges and obligations appertaining thereto. All except one - the right to the greatest political success.

That makes all naturalized citizens - including taxpayers, voters, servicemembers - slightly less than all-American. Even children born abroad of U.S. citizens have fallen under the shadow of Article II; this has caused pregnant women to race back to our shores to make certain their children's political potential is not somehow beclouded.

The unequalizer in our Constitution cries out for fixing. Some of us have been muttering about this for decades, but it's always been academic - a theoretical exercise in excising a discriminatory phrase whose purpose has long since atrophied.

Don't be fooled. This is not an issue of fairness. This is an end-the-Republic endplay. Oppose, oppose, oppose.

"Values Voters" are Hypocrites

More on the hypocrisy of so-called "values voters," a theme the Democratic Party needs to seriously start looking at. Yesterday we looked at the divorce rate among the Fundies - identical to the divorce rate nationally. Today, the crap these "saints" watch on the tube:

In interviews, representatives of the four big broadcast networks as well as Hollywood production studios said the nightly television ratings bore little relation to the message apparently sent by a significant percentage of voters.

The choices of viewers, whether in Los Angeles or Salt Lake City, New York or Birmingham, Ala., are remarkably similar. And that means the election will have little impact on which shows they decide to put on television, these executives say.

It is possible that some secondary characters on new television shows will exhibit strong religious beliefs, and an occasional plotline may examine the impact of faith on some characters' lives. But with "Desperate Housewives" and "C.S.I." leading the ratings, television shows are far more likely to keep pumping from the deep well of murder, mayhem and sexual transgression than seek diversion along the straight and narrow path.

"It's entertainment versus politics," said Steve McPherson, the president of ABC Entertainment. He dismissed the notion that program creators might be developing ideas specifically to chase voters who claimed moral values as an important issue in this election. "I have not heard an idea of that kind,'' Mr. McPherson said, "none whatsoever."
...
So if it is true that the public's electoral choices are a cry for more morally driven programming, the network executives ask, why are so many people, even in the markets surrounding the Bush bastions Atlanta and Salt Lake City, watching a sex-drenched television drama?

"Desperate Housewives" on ABC is the big new hit of the television season, ranked second over all in the country, behind only "C.S.I." on CBS. This satire of suburbia and modern relationships features, among other morally challenged characters, a married woman in her 30's having an affair with a high-school-age gardener, and has prompted several advertisers, including Lowe's, to pull their advertisements.

In the greater Atlanta market, reaching more than two million households, "Desperate Housewives" is the top-rated show. Nearly 58 percent of the voters in those counties voted for President Bush.

And in the Salt Lake City market, which takes in the whole state of Utah and parts of Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming, "Desperate Housewives" is fourth, after two editions of "C.S.I." and NBC's "E.R."; Mr. Bush rolled up 72.6 percent of the vote there.

And these people presume to tell my partner and me how to live? Give me a flipping break.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sideshow Moving!

Avedon Carol is getting ready to move The Sideshow to a new domain; until it's up and running, check her current posting out at Avedon's Other Weblog.

Hypocrites

Jesus had a word for people who wore their faith in the streets but whose hearts were full of corruption: hypocrites. One way we Democrats can beat back the legions of Fundies trying to dig a tunnel back to the ninth century is to point out that, when it comes to the Bible, they are hypocrites:

There are some difficult-to-interpret rules in the Bible, but the New Testament prohibition of divorce for any reason other than adultery isn't among them. So one might think that Christians, and especially "born-again" Christians, would make an extra effort to keep their marriages intact. But according to a recent nationwide survey by the Barna Group, a Christian market-research company, the divorce rate among born-again Christians is 35 percent—exactly the same as for the population as a whole.

I've heard, although I don't have the statistics to confirm, that the Fundie abortion rate is similar to the rate among the population as a whole as well.

So why do many Christians not heed Jesus Christ's warning that "anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery"? Because they don't agree with him, according to the Barna researchers: only one in four born-again Christians—and only one in seven respondents overall—"strongly agrees" that divorce when no adultery has taken place is a sin.

These are the same people who love to use Leviticus and Paul to bash gays and lesbians, the same people who claim that the Biblical injunction against homosexuality is the inerrant Word of God. Evidently, the inerrency of various parts of the Bible depends on who it affects. If you want to get divorced, for example, you can blow off Jesus.

It's worth noting that the man in charge of the anti-gay amendment fight in Ohio is three times married and claims to be a "recovered" porn addict. The Bible punchers aren't holier than we are. They just lie a lot.

The Chimperor Needs a Yacht

With thoughts of imperial grandeur dancing in his tiny brain, the Chimperor has decided that His Majesty requires a presidential yacht:

The Senate voted 65-30 for the legislation late on Saturday that sets aside funds for a range of priorities including a presidential yacht, foreign aid and energy. It is one of the final pieces of work for the 108th Congress and they may return to finish a spy agency overhaul before the end of the year.

Perhaps His Highness will next ask for a more suitable home than the White House so that he, like Nero with his Golden House, can finally begin to live like a human being (via).

Friday, November 19, 2004

Oh His Way Out, Powell has Not Changed

Some commentators have been expressing sadness at the departure of Colin Powell, the disgraced Secretary of State. But should we feel bad for a man who evidently has learned nothing and appears to be repeating earlier mistakes?

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell shared information with reporters Wednesday about Iran's nuclear program that was classified and based on an unvetted, single source who provided information that two U.S. officials said yesterday was highly significant if true but has not yet been verified.
...
But U.S. intelligence officials have been combing the information carefully and with a wary eye, mindful of the mistakes made in trusting intelligence information alleging that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Powell, who announced earlier this week that he would not stay on for a second term, presented that intelligence in a February 2003 speech to the U.N. Security Council that was meant to convince the world that Saddam Hussein needed to be forcefully removed from power. Much of his presentation turned out to be based on information provided by unreliable sources.

If the information on Iran were confirmed, it would mean the Islamic republic is further along than previously known in developing a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it. The documents included a specific warhead design with an implosion device on the tip and adjustments aimed at outfitting the warhead on existing Iranian missile systems.

The danger is, this information may be correct. It is certainly far more likely than the story put forth before the war about Iraq's program. But after his UN speech, which turned out to be a tissue of lies, who is going to believe Powell, and the US, again?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Depressed Democrats

If you're a depressed Democrat, check this animation out!

Kiss Your Health Insurance Goodbye

Atrios has this this morning from the WP:

Instead the administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.

The changes are meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, the advisers said. (emphasis mine)

Welcome to the wonderful Republican world of the future. Your job will be shipped to India via tax subsidies. Your Social Security will be handed to brokers to lose in the next crash. You will never be able to afford to retire; you will, like your greatgrandparents, work until you drop dead. You will have no health insurance.

How long before people wake up to what's going on here? Bush is converting America into the Old Europe - a world where a few wealthy bastards ruled over millions of peasants. We fought a revolution against that Europe. Now, two hundred and almost thirty years later, the revolution is rapidly being lost. How long before the Paris Hiltons and Bill Gateses start giving themselves titles?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"A Permanent Majority"

We may have seen the last reasonably democratic election in American history as Repug Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, questioned about Repug House rule changes to protect Tom Delay, told The Hill:

"It’s the final phase that Democrats are coming to grips that Republicans are a permanent majority."

What? In what way? No party has ever been a "permanent majority" or even had the gall to assume they were. But Rep. Cantor appears to know.

Several commentators predicted that this would happen if Bush "won." This is no longer a democratic republic; we are truly in the beginnings of a dictatorship. As Europe moves forward in power and enlightenment, America turns her back and retreats into the night

See No Evil, Hear No Evil....

Porter Goss, continuing his emasculization of the CIA, has ordered CIA staff to "support the administration." Which I suppose means tell Bush et al nothing that they don't want to hear. God help us.

"As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies," Mr. Goss said in the memorandum, which was circulated late on Monday. He said in the document that he was seeking "to clarify beyond doubt the rules of the road."

While his words could be construed as urging analysts to conform with administration policies, Mr. Goss also wrote, "We provide the intelligence as we see it - and let the facts alone speak to the policymaker."

And if you believe that, Goss has a bridge to sell you in New York.

"If Goss is asking people to color their views and be a team player, that's not what people at C.I.A. signed up for,'' said the former intelligence official. The official and others interviewed in recent days spoke on condition that they not be named, saying they did not want to inflame tensions at the agency.

It is going to take a generation, perhaps more, to repair the damage being blithely done to America by Bush and his minions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Bill and Ted's Favorite Number

More proof, as if any were necessary, that Repugs are idiots:

John Hostettler, the Congressman representing the 8th district of Indiana, has been convinced by local religious groups to introduce legislation in the House that would change the name of an Interstate 69 extension to a more moral sounding number.

There are plans to extend the interstate from Indianapolis through southwestern Indiana all the way through Texas into Mexico in the coming years. While most believe this highway will be good for the state’s economy, religious conservatives believe “I-69” sounds too risqué and want to change the interstate’s number.

Hostettler, a proponent of the interstate extension, agrees. “Every time I have been out in the public with an ‘I-69’ button on my lapel, teenagers point and snicker at it. I have had many ask me if they can have my button. I believe it is time to change the name of the highway. It is the moral thing to do.”

Please, crawl back into your hole, dude (via).

UPDATE: In all fairness, I must report that this was waaaayyyyy too good to be true, and Rep. Hostettler's office is confirming that this is indeed a hoax. Damn!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Condi Oil Tanker

Unfortunately it appears that Condaleeza Rice, who has signally failed to cover herself with glory as Dubya's National Security Advisor, will be replacing the unfortunate Colin Powell as Secretary of State.

And my guess is that she will proceed to conduct a purge of the State Department in much the same fashion as Porter Goss' maniacal "loyalty" quest at the CIA.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

What Happens in 2008?

Avedon Carol is curious at the way people are claiming that Dubya, even though he legally can't run for reelection, just has to pander to the fundies:

...I know this administration ignores the law at every turn, and they have a Congress that happily aids and abets, but Constitutional Amendments have to be ratified at the state level, and even Tom DeLay's power only extends so far. But everyone - and I mean everyone - seems to be talking as if it's being taken for granted that "the White House" and George Bush are planning to run for election again in another four years.

The term "President for life" is the bitter phrase we have always applied to dictators in countries where they either don't have elections at all or where the elections are known to be thoroughly corrupt (like Saddam's sort of elections). So, if it's only tin-foil hat types who are doubtful of the legitimacy of Bush's means of holding on to power, why the hell is everyone acting like he will still need those right-wing voters four years from now? Shouldn't they be referring to him as a "lame duck" instead?

Here's what I think may happen: the Repugs aren't quite ready to shred the Constitution and start ruling by decree just yet (although that might happen if there's another major terrorist outrage), so what happened yesterday - Crashcart scuttling to the hospital with a vague symptom of "shortness of breath" - may be significant. What if Cheney's "health" continues to "deteriorate" to the point he resigns? Then the Repugs put in some newly chosen patsy as VP and that person has an obvious leg-up to run in 2008.

I think something like that could easily happen. Bush would go but the evil men around him who are the true powers behind the throne would stay in charge.

Don't Pander

Some Democrats and lots of hysterical pundits are claiming that the Democratic party must "move right" and "embrace values." In other words, the 22 percent or so of voters who are loony tunes evangelicals have the other 78 percent running scared. What crap. Frank Rich agrees:

According to this argument, the values voters the Democrats must pander to are people like Cary and Tara Leslie, archetypal Ohio evangelical "Bush votes come to life" apotheosized by The Washington Post right after Election Day. The Leslies swear by "moral absolutes," support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and mostly watch Fox News. Mr. Leslie has also watched his income drop from $55,000 to $35,000 since 2001, forcing himself, his wife and his three young children into the ranks of what he calls the "working poor." Maybe by 2008 some Democrat will figure out how to persuade him that it might be a higher moral value to worry about the future of his own family than some gay family he hasn't even met.

No kidding. Every four years the Repugs pander to evangelicals, the fundies run out and vote like lemmings, and when push comes to shove, abortion stays legal, R rated films abound, Janet Jackson shows her floppy boob on the tube, and the fundies get poorer and poorer.

We don't need to pander or cater to the flat-earthers and Know Nothings. All we need to do is pry away a few million otherwise intelligent voters who are still panicked by the thought of 9-11 style terrorist attacks. It should not be hard. We need to go to it.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Their Way or the Highway

The self-appointed avatars of holiness are now apparently all upset about the new film Kinsey which, they whine, shows Kinsey in way too good of a light and doesn't show all the "consequences" of his research, you know, like abortion on demand.

What most people don't understand about these people is that they're not interested in the sanctity of life. If they were, they'd be just as opposed to war and the death penalty. What gets their tiny brains in a twist is that they don't have control over their women anymore and they just hate it.

If abortion becomes illegal again, they'll go after birth control, as they steadfastly join with their hero Dubya in digging a tunnel to the ninth century.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Evangelicals in for a Surprise

Mark Morford hits the nail on the head:

This just in: millions of moderate Republicans and gay-terrified evangelical Christians and intellectually numbed conservative parents who thought they were doing some sort of good by blindly voting for Dubya and hence protecting their wee ones from swarthy Islamic evildoers who want to steal their kids' Kraft Lunchables and nuke Disneyland all should be emerging from a deep fog of savage denial any minute now.

Wake, they will, to the increasingly obvious fact that their beloved smirkin' president, the one who seemed to care about them so deeply just a couple weeks ago and who reached out to them and promised them the gun-happy gay-unfriendly moon in exchange for full access to their civil rights and a blank check to do whatever the hell he likes, he apparently doesn't give a damn about them. Not anymore.

The truth will soon be hitting much of the conservative nation like a redneck smacks a dog: now that the fear-saturated Right has handed this failed oilman four more unrestrained years to do his dirtiest deeds and a deeply contaminated, well-greased Congress to do it with, he no longer needs their support and he couldn't care less about their "moral values" or their positions on Social Security reform or the war in Iraq or just what the hell he meant about spending the "political capital" he claims he's earned by winning the election (by the slimmest margin of any incumbent president in history).

Oh, sure, Bush reached out, didn't he, Mrs. Moderate Republican? He made you a believer. He promised more intolerance for gays and more Bible classes in the White House and more laughably irresponsible tax breaks you don't really need and more dumbed-down, black-and-white, good-versus-evil perspectives that take all the pressure off of having to, you know, think.

And because he unconditionally refused to acknowledge any sort of mistake, any sort of massive error in judgment or policy related the appalling Vietnam-grade quagmire that is Iraq, because he stayed "on message" and never fired Rumsfeld for gross incompetence and because he let the lower-rank military plebes take the fall for Abu Ghraib and never once wavered in the most disgusting of lies about why we needed to invade Iraq and kill over 100,000 of their people in the first place, why, he "earned" your vote.

It's so true, isn't it? Despite proof after proof and report after report and dead U.S. soldier after dead U.S. soldier, you thought Bush would do better than Kerry in "defeating" terrorism. No matter that Bush's very actions, his ugly little war, his very poisonous foreign policy that has so violently destabilized the Middle East, no matter that this is what has, in fact, amplified the terror threat a hundredfold and made the U.S. more detested than ever. Ahh, irony. It's what's for dinner.

And now, your reward. You get to be as misrepresented, as tossed aside, as openly ignored as the rest of us. Isn't politics fun?

We are all suckers, all losers in this election. Are you a Democrat? Republican? Doesn't matter. The line is no longer liberal/conservative. It is no longer tax 'n' spend versus cut 'n' deficit, Toyota Prius versus Ford Expedition, happy godless heathen sodomite versus Mel Gibson.

It is now ultrawealthy, power-hungry Bushite CEO versus, well, the rest. Do you see? News flash to conservatives: Bush just pretended to care about you, because he had to, because Karl Rove told him to, because he needed your fear and your blind faith to win another term. You matter about as much as a U.S. soldier in Fallujah, now.

I think this is pretty much on target. Bush will throw the evangelicals a few sops, like the Abu Ghraib Gonzales sop he just threw to the hispanics. But basically Bush will go on his merry anti-Christian way, making the rich richer, the poor poorer, making war on the rest of the world, and building up to a marvelous, Nixonian fall.

A Change for the Worse?

As egregious as John Ashcroft was, his replacement, Alberto Gonzales, is probably worse. The NYT observes:

...Mr. Gonzales has a long record of giving Mr. Bush bad legal advice. In Texas, when he was legal counsel to Governor Bush, Mr. Gonzales produced briefs on clemency appeals in death penalty cases that ignored evidence that some convicts were innocent or that they had gotten ineffective counsel. More recently, as White House counsel, he signed off on the ignoble memo explaining how to get away with torturing prisoners. He helped set up the unconstitutional system at Guantánamo Bay, and pronounced the Geneva Conventions a "quaint" anachronism.

"Quaint," eh? The Dems likely can't block him, but they can rip him a new one in hearings. Go to it, gentlemen.

Arafat Permitted to Thaw Out

...anyone else suspect he's been technically dead and on life support for some time? Hm. And, I have to say, he's no loss. No loss at all.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Strange

I'm a little tired of reading about "the end of the Democratic Party" like last week's election was a landslide, not a squeaker.

Some facts:

"Values voters" had little to do with the election. Terrorism was the reason most people voted for Dubya, the people he's deluded into believing that Sodamn Insane was in bed with al Queda.

Rural voters actually voted slightly more Democratic than Republican. Republicans picked up votes in suburbia.

John Kerry received the second-highest vote total of any presidential candidate in history.

This election wasn't lost by much. A better choice of candidates - the anointing of John Kerry as the obvious winner after Iowa was bloody insane - and some better tactics would have won this. We're not finished. All we need to do is learn, plan, and wait for Bush to destroy himself.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

"Christians"

Avedon Carol says, a heck of a lot better than I can, what I've felt for a long time about the phonys who have hijacked the Christian religion:

The most offensive thing about the Christian right may not be that they want to base their activities on "faith" rather than fact, or even that the one thing they claim is "inerrant", that is better than empirical fact and should be taken literally, is the Bible. The thing that's even more offensive is that they say they are Christians and yet base none of their actions on the teachings of Christ in the Gospels, what they say they believe is the literal word of God.

They want to put the Ten Commandments in every classroom and courtroom, but they don't want to have to read them. They're happy to teach school children to mouth the words of the Sermon on the Mount, just as long as they don't think about what those words mean. God only knows what they think the story of the Good Samaritan is supposed to be about. (I have actually heard them make up the idea that "the eye of a needle" may have been the name of a physical place, and thus says nothing about the relationship of the wealthy to God. Which suggests that Jesus was merely being vapid rather than instructive.)

There have always been assorted crackpots who quote scripture and yet use it to say exactly the opposite of what it obviously means. Pat Robertson once told his congregation the story of the Tower of Babel and then said something like, "And God saw that they all spoke with one voice... And we will speak with one voice...." In other words, he was treating the story of the Tower as an instruction to build one, apparently forgetting that God was displeased with the whole thing and knocked it down. (I've never actually understood God's motivation, here, but his disapproval was abundantly clear.)

Sometimes these twisted interpretations of Scripture actually break out of their little enclaves and take over the imagination of an entire culture. No one who has actually read the story of Onan can honestly believe it is about masturbation, but unless you have read it you may be completely unaware that what it's really about is familial obligation. (You have to give Onan credit, though. If there was ever a man who could claim he was provoked to rape, it was Onan, but he managed to resist all the same.)

But what part of "Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor" do they not understand? Why do they find it necessary to translate "heal the sick" and "feed the poor" as "proselytize the sick and the poor and deny them aid if they will not play along"? How does the instruction to pray alone in the closet translate into, "Pray in huge stadiums with enormous crowds, preferably in front of television cameras that broadcast it to millions of viewers"?

And it's bad enough having their perverted interpretation of The Revelation (which does not mention America anywhere, by the way) used as a basis for federal policy, but surely any well-read Christian must be aware of who the bad guy is in that book, and what he does. It's no good pointing out that the Beast is supposed to be a Jew, because - haven't you noticed, yet? - American exceptionalism means we are the New Jews, the Chosen People, and Bush is our purported Messiah.

Very, very well said.

Amelioration

We can't stop Bush, yet, but we may be able to ameliorate his plans for the next four years. Democrats need to join with the millions of moderate Republicans who voted wincingly for Bush; his religious "base" isn't even a plurality. Together, we may be able to marginalize the flat earthers and Know Nothings and put a serious dent in his plans to dig a tunnel to the ninth century

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Inmates Take Charge of the Asylum

The next four years are liable to be a long, slow-motion tragedy in this country. I suspect that a lot of the people who voted for Bush - 70 to 80% of whom are not right wing evangelist nutjobs - aren't going to like the results very much. Bush is already stalking around like an emperor, threatening Arlen Specter into backing down from his claim that he'd protect the right to choose, encouraging Bill Frist in changing the cloture rule in the Senate, treating reporters like children, claiming he has a mandate when half of the people in this country hate him. Hate crimes are rising. The dollar is falling. Fallujah is about to turn into a bloodbath.

Things will turn our way again, perhaps sooner than we think. Instead of ripping our guts out, we need to watch, and wait, and plan.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Yglesias Gets it Wrong

Matt Yglesias claims that people should stop thinking Diebold might have had an influence on the election. What an ass. Yglesias reader GAPublius points out:

Yeah, let's just shut up about paperless electronic voting. That's what we did in Georgia 2002, when people woke up the morning after, looked at the numbers, and said, "wtf?" And did nothing.

Problem is, two years down the road, when we finally got a group of people together to look at the county returns for that election, there were some very interesting findings. Like counties with 60% GOP registration advantage voting upwards of 90% GOP. And that's only the tip of the iceberg as far as the story that we're uncovering in Georgia.

On one score you're right--you're never going to get the American people to second-guess paperless returns, because there's absolutely no way to PROVE anything was amiss. BUT THAT IS THE POINT.

Already we've got people pouring over this exit polling data like it's some kind of holy grail--the same people that have spent months now analyzing what everybody is now calling these "idiotic" pre-election polls. The question is, where is the check on the validity of the exit polls? Well, that would be good old-fashioned ballot-counting, right?

Problem is, we have 6 paperless counties in Ohio, 14 in Iowa, the big Demo stronghold counties in SE Florida and nearly all of New Mexico. I'm here to tell you that there is nothing resembling "ballot-counting" going on in any of these critical counties.

I'm sorry, but until we are counting ballots, those exit polls are worthless, and so are our elections.

Amen. He says it all.

Something to Look Forward To

And one more thing Democrats can do is make sure George Bush's second term is ruined. Should be easy. As Kevin Drum points out, there's a shitstorm waiting to happen:

You don't have to be a math whiz to know that 2006 is the next stop. And once again, George Bush is especially vulnerable to this since his first term already has several good candidates for scandals waiting to flower. Take your pick: Valerie Plame? The National Guard? Abu Ghraib? Intelligence failures? Or maybe something that hasn't really crossed anybody's radar screen yet, sort of like the "third-rate burglary" at the Watergate Hotel that no one took seriously in 1972.

This bastard and the people around him stink. Let's take 'em down.

How in the Hell Did This Happen?

Good question. Part of it is the problem that we have a lot of not over-bright people who have been convinced by cynical Repug propaganda to vote their "values" instead of their interests. The Democrats now need, whichever way the final vote turns, to start their own extensive propaganda campaign to turn that around. The "red heartland" should be by rights ours, and we need to win it back. It will take years and millions of dollars. The Democratic party needs to start tomorrow.

Kos in the Guardian this morning:

...this election shouldn't even have been close. We have a president that has saddled the nation with record deficits and who has little clue on how to rein in spending. A president who inflicted upon the nation (and Iraq, and our allies) a costly and bloody war that should never have been waged. A president that has divided the country like none other, despite the unity we shared after 9/11. A president that has committed crimes against the environment, catered to his cronies at the expense of poor and middle class Americans, and turned virtually the entire world against our nation.

So how did Bush even get this far? By demonising an entire group of people -- gays and lesbians. By cynical appeals to religion. By slandering a true war hero. And, most importantly, by scaring people. You see, terrorists would detonate a nuclear bomb in a major city if Kerry were elected. Only Bush can protect us.

And those efforts, as I have written before, were all aided and abetted by a well-oiled message machine the likes of which the American left is still unable to match.

That needs to change, and change now.

Thanks Loads

I'd like to thank the 9 out of 10 twentysomethings who couldn't be troubled to turn out to vote. Hope you all look fab in camouflage, 'cause that's what Dubya has in mind for you. After all, there aren't any other jobs for you.

Monday, November 01, 2004

As We Prepare to Vote

Words of wisdom:

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

Amen. Go vote.

It's Happening Here

David Neiwert concludes his seven-part series "The Rise of Psuedo-Fascism" today with the suspicion, one I share, that it's rapidly happening here.

This tendency has finally metastacized into a genuinely dangerous situation, one in which the GOP has become host to a Stalinist movement that exhibits so many of the traits of fascism that the resemblance is now unmistakable.

This means a complete reconfiguration of the calculations of any "political space" that might be created by a serious crisis of American democracy. Instead of creating an opportunity for a fascist movement to gain legitimacy through an alliance with conservatives, what such a crisis instead creates is a situation in which the latent fascist elements come to the surface and, in turn, come to dominate the nature of a party already in power.

This makes any potential for a crisis of democracy potentially more dangerous in terms of the opening it creares for fascism, because it can manifest itself much more rapidly, and without any requisite shift in the political space. This is especially the case for an entity like the conservative movement, which already in so many ways dominates the American political landscape now.

By far, of the potential scenarios for a crisis of democratic institutions outlined above, the most likely to produce a real outbreak of fascism is the third one, in which Bush again takes charge of the Oval Office through litigation or some other abrogation of the norms of democratic rule. If it happens a second time -- and particularly if Bush does so by once again disenfranchising voters -- then there will be a strong, perhaps violent reaction from the left, who will have (quite rationally) come to the conclusion that Bush and his regime not only have no respect for democratic institutions, but that they intend to undermine if not destroy them outright.

The danger lies with that reaction, which in this scenario would almost certainly produce mass protests: marches, demonstrations, anti-Bush rallies. These would almost certainly be accompanied by a nominal level of violence: arrests, police confrontations, some provocation-related violence, property damage. This violence would then become justification for violent counters -- the organizational groundwork for which has already been laid in the form of such anti-liberal provocateurs as the Freepers and Protest Warriors.

The reaction to a second Bush term under illegitimate conditions, then, would likely spark a counter-reaction that would manifest condoned, organizational violence, the lack of which is one of the distinguishing characteristics of pseudo-fascism. This is the scenario in which the danger of fascism lies closest to the surface.

The prospects under a Bush-victory scenario are not much brighter: Bush with a mandate will be Bush Unleashed, and the volatility of this election will likely release a lot of pent-up frustrations at liberals, but it's difficult to say how high the levels of violence are likely to be. On the other hand, the conservative movement's totalitarian impulses, particularly in gerrymandering the political system a la Texas, to ensure the GOP's continued political dominance, raise the chilling prospect of, at the very best, a Stalinist/PRI-style one-party state, where every person in the government is first a member of the party. This shift will be more incremental in nature, but there is also bound to be a breaking point at which a cumulative reaction arises against it.

The prospect for a Kerry win is the most promising, but also the most troubling. Certainly the likelihood of large contingent of radicalized, Patriot-style extremists bent on opposing his presidency is a daunting thought, but unfortunately, the extraordinary penetration of the "Kerry is a traitor" meme to a broad segment of the voting population is a certain recipe for producing these kinds of radicals should Kerry in fact win.

Check it out. The entire series is required reading.

Smash This Down

Arnie, he of the Nazi father, wants to be president:

On previous occasions the governor of California has sidestepped the question, but asked last night on the CBS programme 60 Minutes if he would support an amendment to allow a foreign-born national to be president, Mr Schwarzenegger said: "Yes, absolutely."

"I think, you know, because why not? I mean, you know, anyone with my way of thinking, you always shoot for the top," he said. "But it's not something that I am preoccupied with. I am not thinking one single minute about that because there's so many things I have to do in California, and my promise was to straighten out the mess in California."

Which he's not doing, by the way. Things there have not improved.

I have heard a startling number of lefties argue that the constitutional requirement that the president be native born should be changed out of "fairness." "Fairness" to who? The Repugs want to amend the constitution for the sole reason of running this popular idiot for President. That alone should be reason to oppose it.