Monday, July 26, 2004

The Democratic Convention

Hey, did you know there's a convention going on?  Go>here for the speeches (sorry, only transcripts so far).

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Peterson Trial photos

The prosecution in the Scott Peterson murder trial presented as evidence today photos of Laci Peterson's decomposed body.  Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm not sure just what value such photos have in this trial.  No doubt these photos will upset the jurors and probably make them want to make somebody pay for this young woman's death.  But nothing in this article or in anything else I've read about this trial indicates that these photos in any way implicate Scott Peterson.  So, aside from inflaming the passion of the members of the jury and wanting them to make somebody pay, which certainly is to the prosecution's benefit, I don't see what has been accomplished by the photo's presentation.  It does nothing to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

George, John, and Woody Guthrie

More fun with animation.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

He's got a long way to go before he can be fairly compared to Saddam, but if this is true, Allawi, our man in Baghdad, has gotten off to a "nice" start.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Press and Iraq

On the Daily Show tonight, Wolf Blitzer was admitting that the press let down the public before the war, that they should have been more skeptical, that they got caught up in a kind of group think. With "everybody" saying that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, "everybody" in the press came to believe it. I still don't understand this. I'm just a mook who gets his news like everybody else, from what I read in the paper and the newsmags, see on TV, and pick up on the net, and I distinctly remember spending the fall and winter before the invasion scouring these sources for some evidence that Iraq had these WMD. And it wasn't there. What I found was the UN inspectors not uncovering WMDs and, as Blitzer admitted, everybody "saying" that the weapons were there somewhere. No proof. Nobody offering proof. Nobody in the press much demanding proof. And people like me, asking "what is going on here?" being treated like kooks. There's nothing I see in the lame mea culpas coming out of the press for the last few months, or from the various investigations into pre-war decision making and intelligence gathering that leads me in any way to believe anybody would behave any differently faced with a similar set of circumstances.

It's become to easy to point fingers at the CIA or some other culprit and say "they did it, they're the ones who mislead us." And although that is true, it is just as true that all those people who were mislead were willing to be mislead. For whatever reason, they abandoned skepticism, they asked for no proof, they were willing to go to war on assurances that we were right. I can think of no greater proof of this than the commendations that were heaped on Colin Powell after his presentation at the UN in February of last year. Pointing at photos of innocuous buildings and trucks and declaring they were mobile chemical weapons labs and bomb factories, playing garbled tapes in which Iraqi officers may or may not have been discussing hiding weapons (what do you think now?), he declared that this unequivocably proved the administration's case. And the press and the people ate it up. And I remember, the next day when I read the paper, wondering "what did I miss?"

I now know that I didn't miss anything. That despite all my self-doubt and questioning at the time, I somehow was right. And after a decade in which the American press has failed the American people in its coverage of Whitewater and the Starr investigations, in its coverage of the 2000 election and its favored story line that Gore was a liar and Bush a straight shooter, after seeing the coverage of the 2004 election so far, in which far too many of our national stenographers have bought into the story line that Kerry, whose positions change when circumstances change, is a flip-flopper, after all that I am absolutely convinced that the National Press coverage of Iraq was not an anomalous failure but a part of the patterm. It exemplifies the press's coverage. Yes, Wolf, you and your companions were guilty of "group think" in Iraq. As you always are.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Federal Marriage Amendment, again

The Senate next week is prepared to take up the Federal Marriage Amendment. Some polls have shown popular support fo this.

I wonder how the thinking on this goes. Do the people in favor of such an amendment honestly believe that had the founding fathers been aware of such issues that they would have thought this a good thing to add to the Constitution? As I noted in a post at another blog about an amendment to ban flag burning, most of the twenty-seven amendments provide for curtailment of government power and expansion of people's rights. This amendment would cut across that history, inscribing in the Constitution limitations on the rights of some. Don't you just love it that some people think that one of the great problems in this country is that we have too much liberty and too little government proscription of what we can and cannot do?

Rock Paper Saddam

Is this offensive? I didn't find it so.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Bush/Cheney...what a ride

Wow...bush bashing while listening to Green Day. That's cool

So That's What Freedom Looks Like in Texas

Charges have been dropped against five protesters who had violated Crawford's ordinance requiring 15 days notice to protest. The judge ruled the ordinance was overly broad. It has since been amended to require 7 days notice to protest.

You have to give official notice in Texas to protest?

Friday, July 09, 2004

Federal Marriage Amendment

The Senate will be voting within a couple of days on the Federal Marriage Amendment. Call your senators at 1-877-762-8762 to urge them to oppose this proposed amendment. Then click here to see what to do next.

Support the ACLU

For more than two decades I have been a member of the ACLU. I don't always find myself in agreement with the organization's positions but on balance I find that it deserves my support and gratitude. It is not the only or the oldest public advocacy group out there, but after nearly eighty years of service to America, it is the most distinguished.

Few, if any, organizations have been vilified as often for doing the right thing, for standing up for the rights of unpopular causes and defendants when nobody else would, not necessariy because the organization agreed with the views of those being defended, but because it has recognized that once we start denying rights to those we hate or disagree with, we will have lost our footing as a nation and a people committed to the notion that justice is the birthright of all men.

The organization has fought, and sometimes won, battles that I wish it hadn't. For those who deride the ACLU for the "damage" done by such decisions, I remind you that there is nothing the ACLU can do to take away from anyone of us a fraction of our liberty. They are battling governments at the local, state, and National level, however, who have the power, and often the inclination, to strip us, individually or in groups, of our liberty.

Go the its website, look around, and give strong consideration to joining. Be part of a proud and distinguished organization that has stood up for you when you didn't know it.

Saved by the Supremes

I've got to give the man his due. In the recent Hamdi decision, Justice Antonin Scalia, in a rebuke of the Bush Administration's claim to almost supreme executive power in its administration of the "war on terror," wrote:

"Many think it is not only inevitable but entirely proper that liberty give way to security in times of national crisis. . . . Whatever the general merits of the view that war silences law or modulates its voice, that view has no place in the interpretation and application of a Constitution designed precisely to confront war and, in a manner that accords with democratic principles, to accommodate it."

In times of crisis, perhaps the true measure of a man or of a form of government can be found. Since September 11, 2001, the executive and legislative branches of our government have repeatedly been tested and found wanting when it came to demonstrating through their actions that they were committed to the high ideals of the Constitution. Out system of government was redeemed by the branch from which I expected much less. The Supreme Court and each of the eight justices who found in favor of Hamdi in this case (Thomas was the lone dissenter) deserve the gratitude of each of us.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Reagan, Bush, Kerry, and Optimism

During the maudlin mourning for Reagan last month, much was made of his optimism, some pundits going so far as to say that was the key to his success. Picking up on this theme, the Bush/Pinochet (oops) campaign ran an ad on its web site last month emphasizing its optimism, contrasting it to images of angry and presumably pessimistic Democrats. It was enough to give optimism a bad name.

Now, again, comes John Edwards. Although I found myself in disagreement with many of his positions, I found myself captivated by Edwards' optimism during his primary campaign for President. The difference between him and the Republican mooks, however, is that theirs is based on a blind faith that even though everything Bush/Cheney have done since January 2001 had turned to crap they will somehow prevail by wishin' and hopin', Edwards recognizes that although the situation in America is gloomy and pretty messed up, a reliance on real American values, such as truth (as opposed to the institutional lying emanating from the White House), justice (as opposed to those currently in power who believe in million dollar law firms for corporations and limited access to courts for common citizens), and a sense of fair play can restore a sense of community in this country and, combined with a decent and respectful foreign policy, gradually restore America's standing in the eyes of the world. That optimism, and Edwards' ability to spread it around, will make a world of difference in Kerry's campaign. I feel better already.

California, the Political ATM

As Dan Walters points out here, California seems so safely on Kerry/Edwards' side in the coming election that the candidates from both parties view us chiefly as an ATM, to finance the campaign in other states. And that's fine; we can make valuable contributions in that role. So, if you don't mind, whip out your credit cards and go here, to contribute to Kerry/Edwards, here, to donate to, or here, to donate to the DNC.

Now you can vote for David Cobb, the Green Party Candidate, without feeling guilty.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Kucinich Still Carrying the Fight

If, as I do, you believe that the Democratic Party needs to be constantly tugged from the left to keep it from becoming some kind of irrelevant Republican-lite party, you may appreciate, as I do, the continued presence of Dennis Kucinich in the party, continuing his presidential campaign to insure that he (we) will be heard at the convention.

If that's what you believe, go to this site to sign his petitions and show you're standing with him. You'll feel better and your party will be stronger for it.

Edwards and Trial Lawyers

I expect that I am being naively optimistic here, but I think it would be lovely if Kerry's selection of Edwards and the attacks he will attract from the Republicans and the business community because of Edwards' experience as a trial lawyer would open up an honest national dialogue about trial lawyers and tort reform. What has been effectively hidden from most Americans is that trial lawyers, as the term is most often, dirisively, used, are the attorneys available to represent them in the event they are injured, physically or econonomically, by corporations. All you ever hear about are the (mostly mythical) outrageous jury awards given out in "frivolous" lawsuits. Here's a chance to fight back and tell the public the truth, something the mainstream media seems incapable or uninterested in doing on this subject.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Our Iraqi Children's Prison

Among the many things that the President decried and were supposed to distinguish us from the horribleness of Saddam was that he kept children in prison. Now, from Der Spiegel, via Sadly, No, we find that we, too, have children in prison in Iraq. Is there anything that our government hasn't done wrong over there? Is there no way left to distinguish us from the bad guys?

MoveOn and the Dems

This LA Times article (sorry, registration required)about's attempts to broaden its reach by recruiting creative liberals, such as Moby and Rob Reiner, to help spread the group's message, contains a quote from an unnamed "Democratic strategist" that perfectly captures why I have such a hard time becoming supportive of the Democratic party and its less than aweinspiring candidate. According to this strategist, MoveOn's "contempt for Bush is alien to most Americans; it's over the top."

It may be that MoveOn's contempt for Bush is alien to most Americans, but Bush has gone out of his way to earn it, and if this contempt is alien to most Americans, I'd say it's a key job of this strategist and others in similar positions to convey to Americans why so many of us on the left have such a visceral reaction to Bush. That people such as this strategist are so disturbed by MoveOn may lie in the fact that Kerry, as I noted in an earlier post (It's Got to Be Kerry, June 28) hasn't displayed, at least through his voting record over the last three years on subjects that have ignited the more liberal wing of the Democratic party, that his priorities and values aren't that different from Bush's.

I would like to believe that MoveOn represents the future of the Democratic Party, and it's large subscriber list and the success of many of its activities show that it is a powerful force on the left. From entries and comments I've seen on other "progressive" blogs, though, I've concluded that even among many who hate Bush, the agenda of MoveOn and even more so, the agenda of the Green Party, are too "radical" for them to be comfortable.

Bush's American Values

Not that anybody paying attention could have had any lingering doubts about this, but we got another example today of the value the Bush people place on those traditional values found in the Bill of Rights. From Yahoo, we get this description of a Bush speech in front of the West Virginia Capital,

"Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president."

Is any further comment necessary?

I'll Swap you a Russert for a Carol Coleman

In addition to reflecting poorly on Bush, this story about Irish journalist Carol Coleman's interview with George Bush and the White House's reaction to it reflects poorly on the White House press corps. Bush was so put off by the temerity of Coleman, who dared to ask follow up questions and interupt when he strayed from answering her questions, that the White House lodged a complaint with both her news organization and with the Irish Embassy. Those of us who watched Tim Russert lob soft balls at Bush in February and just move on after Bush avoided answering even those easy questions, those of us who recall the NYT's Elizabeth Bumiller's confession that she and her cohort were too intimidated by Bush to question the nonsense coming out of his mouth at the beginning of the war can't help but contrast their no-balls performance to that of Coleman. According to the TAP article I've linked to, Coleman's performance is standard for the Irish press. Sadly, so are Russert's and Bumiller's for the American press.
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by