Friday, March 25, 2005

One trait that the Bush Bros have in common:

Cowardice! When it comes time to face the music, they go into hiding it seems. In this case it's Jeb who's trying to avoid his base:
Gov. Bush Cancels Appearance at Good Friday Service for Fear of Facing Schiavo Supporters

To: National Desk

Contact: Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition [phone number removed]

TALLAHASSEE, Fl., March 25 /Christian Wire Service/ -- Governor Jeb Bush was scheduled to attend and participate in an outdoor Good Friday service at 12:30 pm, at Florida State University. According to event organizers, the Governor canceled at the last minute.

As part of this event Jeb Bush would have publicly read from a printed program that includes the following text entitled the Fifth Station of the Cross; "Lord Jesus, sometimes I don't want to do what is right or to help someone in need, but you want me to respond positively to the needs of others in my life. Help me to say 'yes' and be willing to give heroic assistance to all who are in need."

"It is clear that Governor Bush canceled his scheduled participation in this Stations of the Cross service out of fear and guilt of seeing supporters of Terri Schiavo pleading for her life. Our prayer for Governor Bush is the same prayer he would have prayed publicly on this Good Friday, had he kept his scheduled appointment.

Some things shouldn't need explaining

The GOP-created Schiavo controversy has brought out the extremists. And they're angry. As Willis puts it, "These people are at war. With America." Indeed.

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Several efforts to memorialize this man from El Salvador and his work, and it strikes me as fitting that he get a proper mention during this holy week:

The Martyr of El Salvador

Oscar Romero, Presente!

Oscar Romero: 25 Years

Remembering Oscar Romero and Rachel Corrie

Remarkable

Thanks to the blog, Under the Same Sun (which you should be reading), ponder this picture and the text by a WaPo staff writer Philip Kinnicott:

After two years and more than 1,500 U.S. casualties in a war that has been perhaps the best documented in history, no single photograph from the hostilities in Iraq has emerged as iconic.

[...]

Despite heroic efforts of photojournalists to document the challenges and successes of the long grind of occupation, no one has captured a picture that has anything like the power of Nick Ut's photograph of a naked girl fleeing a napalm strike in Vietnam (could it be published in a "family" newspaper today?) or Joe Rosenthal's image of the flag raised on Iwo Jima. Those images captured -- or helped crystallize -- a consensus about the wars they represented, a consensus that has yet to emerge about the war in Iraq.

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

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Drunken Monkey Style Blogging

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Earth to GOP Base: You Were Punked

Some gems from this Daily Kos diary, Frist-DeLay 'Cruel Hoax' on Schindlers over Schiavo:
Based on what Schiavo's parents have been saying this week, it appears the legislation's fine print was never shared with them by Bill Frist or anybody else for that matter.

Early Monday morning, after President Bush signed the Schiavo bill, Bob Schindler was positively beaming in front of the television cameras. He said he walked into his daughter's hospice room and told her, "We had to wake the President up to save your life."

Did Bill Frist and Tom Delay ever call the Schindler family and say, "not so fast?" Apparently not. In their latest court filing, the Schinder family still clings to the misleading notion offered by lawmakers last weekend that their bill required Schiavo's feeding tube to be immediately reinserted. Quote, "If Congress meant to give the federal courts the power to let her die..." says the Schindler's filing, then passing the law "would be little more than a cruel hoax." Read it again... The Schindlers argue: "If Congress meant to give the federal courts the power..." The fact is, that's exactly what Congress did. And a "cruel hoax" on Terry Schiavo's family is exactly the right description. As one of my doctor contacts observed, "This has always been about politics, not about helping Terri Schiavo or her parents." Link

Judges Ed Carnes, an appointee of the senior President Bush, and Frank Hull, a Clinton appointee, agreed in a 10-page opinion that the Schindlers failed to show a constitutional violation in the handling of the case.

They noted a revealing exchange on the Senate floor on Sunday between Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). At issue was whether the special Schiavo law required a federal judge to order her feeding tube be restored.

Levin said the law had no such requirement.

"I share the understanding of the senator from Michigan," Frist replied. "Nothing in the current bill or its legislative history mandates a stay. I would assume, however, that the federal court would grant a stay based on the facts of this case because Mrs. Schiavo would need to be alive in order for the court to make its determination."

Levin said a judge would decide based on the legal claims. "I do not make the same assumption as the majority leader about what a federal court will do," he said. Link

He said Congress didn't really want to save Terri Schiavo's life. He was faxed a draft of the legislation in advance and said he told Congress staffers that the law wouldn't work, but that there were options that could work. He said Congress could easily have assured the reinsertion of the feeding tube by writing an automatic stay into the law -- or by creating new evidentiary rules. Congress' refusal to do so, Julian says, means it knowingly passed a half-hearted law that wouldn't work. Link

Academic Freedom Watch

Looks like Churchill is safely employed for now:
Acting CU Chancellor Phil DiStefano said a seven-week examination of Churchill's essay and other work concluded that "while there are limits to the protections afforded by the Constitution, our review has determined that those limits have not been exceeded in professor Churchill's case."

He said a faculty committee would review allegations that Churchill plagiarized the work of other researchers and claims that he falsely claimed to be an American Indian.

Churchill has repeatedly denied both allegations and has said he would sue the university if he is fired.

"We have concluded that the allegations of research misconduct, related to plagiarism, misuse of others' work and fabrication, have sufficient merit to warrant further inquiry," said DiStefano.

He said that review could take up to nine months.

We can breathe a little easier knowing that University of Colorado still respects academic freedom and the term "tenure" still means something. As for the more substantive claims regarding plagiarism, we'll just have to see how the investigation pans out. As much as I have a disdain for academic dishonesty, I must say that such charges against this guy would have never surfaced had he been a much less controversial, lower-profile academician. I'm equally certain that the same right-wingers who've been most vociferous in their condemnations of Professor Churchill would likely remain silent if one of their own were faced with similar accusations. Double standards are, after all, a way of life among the right-wing authoritarian crowd. I don't expect that to change any time too soon.

We also know tonight that the academic McCarthyites may have University of Michigan on their list of potential targets. Basically the strategy is one that is fairly typical: throw as much shit at the wall as possible and see what sticks. To wit:
Kalellis's column provides the Limbaugh crowd with their minimum daily allowance of ideological red meat. It's a classic example of what Thomas ("What's the Matter With Kansas?") Frank calls the Plen-T-Plaint, a catch-all denunciation of everything the Right objects to in American culture.

In less than 700 words, Kalellis shoehorns the following into the discussion: American students' low test scores; campus "hate speech" codes, which were declared unconstitutional during the Reagan Administration; Proposal 2, the anti-gay marriage amendment state voters approved last November; "liberal sexual mores" on campus; "out-of-control sex," as depicted in Tom Wolfe's novel, "I Am Charlotte Simmons"; and (cue up the organ music) a liberal professoriat bent on brainwashing impressionable students.

Kurt Nimmo also has some choice words regarding Horowitz' academic McCarthyites and their push to pass Academic Bill of Rights laws in various states:
It really pisses off these guys that colleges have faculty that are not right-wing zealots like them who think Muslims should be third-class citizens (every Muslim a Palestinian) and who also have professors and educators who teach that there are a few problems with the foreign policy of the United States and relate this to their students. Telling the truth about American history will soon become illegal in Florida and the Fox News world view will be the only one permitted on college campuses—or anywhere else, for that matter.

[...]

It should be noted here that Horowitz’s attack on academic freedom is precisely what the far right in this country want. Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture is suffused with millions of dollars from the Scaife Foundations and other far right reactionaries. For instance, the John M. Olin Foundation gave Horowitz $150,000 in 2003 ... Olin made its money on chemical and munitions and also supports the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Hoover Institute of War, Revolution and Peace, all either far right and neocon think tanks. The The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has rained hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years on Horowitz and his organization.

“Bradley supports the organizations and individuals that promote the deregulation of business, the rollback of virtually all social welfare programs, and the privatization of government services,” writes Media Transparency. “As a result, the list of Bradley grant recipients reads like a Who’s Who of the U.S.Right. Bradley money supports such major right-wing groups as the Heritage Foundation, source of policy papers on budget cuts, supply-side economics and the Star Wars military plan for the Reagan administration; the Madison Center for Educational Affairs, which provides funding for right-wing research and a network of conservative student newspapers; and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, literary home for such racist authors as Charles Murray (The Bell Curve) and Dinesh D’Souza (The End of Racism), former conservative officeholders Jeane Kirkpatrick, Jack Kemp and William Bennett, and arch-conservative jurists Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia.” You may remember Charles Murray, the author who wrote a book arguing that poverty is the result, not of social conditions or policies, but of the inferior genetic traits of a sub-class of human beings. It is precisely this sub-class of human beings who are fighting the Strausscon wars in the Middle East, the sort of wars (or rather invasions and unprovoked attacks) that make people like John M. Olin stinking rich. If Bush and Crew get their way the slightly less than sub-class of human beings—the middle class—will be soon be fighting these brush wars of empire, so profitable for the Olins and Scaifes of the world.

Horowitz is simply a front man for what the far reactionary right wants to do in this country—eliminate all opposition or at least excessively marginalize it, beginning with the colleges and universities. Ward Churchill is the poster boy for this effort, specifically chosen because of his radicalism and also because he is viewed as a 60s throwback and the far right hates with a passion anything smacking of 60s radicalism or even liberalism.

[...]

Only extreme right fanaticism bordering on fascism will suffice for these Machiavellian sociopaths. Center of righters who entertain a handful of liberal social ideals are up for attack the same way the Ward Churchills are.

[...]

The far right—okay, let’s call them what they are, authoritarians, even fascists—will not rest until they own all opinion in this country and hound those of us with contrary opinions from the commons… or out of the country entirely and maybe even into re-education camps. As history notes—the history Horowitz does not want you to learn in college—authoritarianism and fascism ultimately lead to repression (ask the Argentineans) and even death squads.

The only thing I take seriously about Horowitz and his cohorts is the fact that they have an enormous amount of money thanks to reactionary elites and that money buys his and other right-wing groups media time and the opportunity to have influence on legislators. Beyond that, it's rather difficult for me to take seriously people who can lump such a wide array of figures as Ward Churchill, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter as all part of the "far left." That is about as sensible as screaming that J. Philippe Rushton, Kevin MacDonald, Newt Gingrich, Lowell Weicker, and Susan Collins are all part of the "far right." Either overly-broad use of those terms renders them meaningless - for example the notion that Clinton or Carter are "leftists" is patently absurd (neither even qualifies as liberal - closer to Tories perhaps); and although I might admire the liberal Boxer, she's no leftist (certainly not by European standards). Churchill and Chomsky are legit lefties, though just how far is even debatable. Any way, I tend to view the use of the term "far left" as merely another epithet used by a certain group of bigots in much the same way that they use terms like "nigger," "gook," "rag-head," or "fag." Such epithets are merely brute verbal aggression intended to shut off communication. And that, my friends, is what Horowitz and his ilk are all about - shutting off communication.

I Must Read the Rude Pundit More

This is classic:
David Horowitz is a sick, sick fuck, so enthralled at the smell of his own bile-infused vomit that he wants everyone to enjoy the piquant odor, driven so insane by the polar opposition of his youthful liberalism and his older self's fascism that, if it weren't for the Internet and Fox "News," he'd be curled into a ball, shitting himself on a cold bench in Harvard Square, screaming at the trees. He has an ego that, in a rational nation, would be described as "sociopathic," and his writings are mad rants disguised as academic treatises, but underneath, like a feral cat in a canvas bag, you can hear the crazed screeches and clawings. He believes he is an erudite grown-up, but his writings are the ejaculatory yowls of an infant masturbator who wants everyone to look at his newly discovered boner.

Sheer poetry.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Kewl! I'm Part of a Syndicate!

DeLay, unhinged:
"This is exactly the kind of issue that's going on in America, that attacks against the conservative moment, against me and against many others. The point is, the other side has figured out how to win and to defeat the conservative movement, and that is to go after people personally, charge them with frivolous charges, link up with all these do-gooder organizations funded by George Soros, and then get the national media on their side. That whole syndicate that they have going on right now is for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to destroy the conservative movement. It is to destroy conservative leaders, and not just in elected office, but leading. I mean, Ed Feulner, of the Heritage Foundation today was under attack in the National Journal. This is a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in. And you need to look at this, and what's going on and participate in fighting back.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Word

Clearly, either the devastating insignts concerning the "banality of evil" offered by Hannah Arendt in her 1963 study, Eichmann in Jerusalem have yet to penetrate the consciousness of many American progressives, or American progressives are in the main every bit as mired in the depths of denial as the most hidebound of their conservative counterparts.

Ward Churchill
On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, p. 20

University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill has been as great a victim of the assault on academic freedom as Harvard President Lawrence Summers. Churchill has been subject to verbal abuse, may possibly lose his job and has even received threats on his life. The left has been largely silent, if not complicit in all of this.

Jose Angel Monzon
Few have defended Churchill’s speech, but many should, letter to Washington Square News

I am perhaps using the term "progressive" a bit too broadly. It should be noted that every hostile comment I've received - or heard - has come from relatively privileged whites, mostly men, self-described as a "peace activist." Such favorable commentary as I've encountered - and it's been considerable - has come mostly, though by no means exclusively from people of color.

Ward Churchill
On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, p. 34

Academic freedom is under assault not just by the left, but by the right and everyone else in between. There is an air of intolerance for views that are outside of the norm and this is the greatest hypocrisy at "institutions of higher learning." Please, let us not forget that we have a First Amendment in the first place to protect the speech that we don't like, just as much as that which we do.

Jose Angel Monzon
Few have defended Churchill’s speech, but many should, letter to Washington Square News

Touché

Out of Touch

Take a look around
You're out of touch

Hall & Oates
from the album Big Bam Boom (1984)

ABC News (PDF). 3/20. MoE 4.5% (No trend lines.)

Removal of feeding tube

Support 63
Oppose 28

Federal Intervention

Support 35
Oppose 60

Appropriate for Congress to get involved?

Appropriate 27
Not Appropriate 70

Reason political leaders are trying to keep Shiavo alive

Concern about Shiavo 19
Political Advantage 67 Link

Coalition Calls Upon Bush to Save Schiavo's Life by Using Police Powers

The 11th Hour Coalition to Save Terri Schiavo's Life will hold simultaneous press conferences tomorrow -- Wednesday, March 23 -- at noon in Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee, Fla.

This ad hoc partnership of religious and political organizations-which will gather in front of the White House and the Florida governor's mansion-will call on President George W. Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush to use their Executive powers to protect Terri Schiavo from starvation.

"The concurrent nature of Terri's struggle and Holy Week cannot be ignored. In both cases, you have the innocent being put to death in gruesome, painful ways because of the arrogance, dishonesty and/or silence of man," stated James Pinto, founder of the Sanctity of Human Life Apostolate. "Christ said from the Cross, 'I thirst,' and in Terri's face we see that same request echoed again, that she, too, thirsts. President Bush and Gov. Bush, you must do everything in your power to save Terri's life." Link

Even among evangelicals, 46 percent support removal of the feeding tube, as opposed to 44 percent who oppose. Conservatives support removal of the feeding tube 54-40.

So really, this isn't even a conservative crusade, as the genuine conservative is probably offended by the rejection of state rights and the intrusion of the government into a private family affair. Not to mention some conservatives are probably offended for using public (taxpayer) funds to pay for her hospitalization. (Remember, Bush signed a law in Texas allowing hospitals to pull the plug against a family's wishes if the change for recovery was non-existent.) Link

Peggy Noonan: "A final note to the Republican leadership in the House and Senate: You have to pull out all the stops. You have to run over your chairmen if they're being obstructionist for this niggling reason and that. Run over their egos, run past their fatigue. You have to win on this. If you don't, you can't imagine how much you're going to lose. And from people who have faith in you.

Bill Frist and Tom DeLay and Jim Sensenbrenner and Denny Hastert and all the rest would be better off risking looking ridiculous and flying down to Florida, standing outside Terri Schiavo's room and physically restraining the poor harassed staff who may be told soon to remove her feeding tube, than standing by in Washington, helpless and tied in legislative knots, and doing nothing." Link

So this spectacle is done on behalf of the evangelical bloc, and even they oppose federal intervention 44-50 percent (in addition to narrowly supporting the removal of the feeding tube, as noted above). Catholics support removing the feeding tube 63-26, and oppose federal intervention 38-56.

These numbers are unambigious, even after a week of media demonizing of Terri's husband. DeLay's and Frist's crass political play is obvious to just about everyone. Link

For those who are interested

Chelsea Green Publishing has a blog, Flaming Grasshopper. I've read a couple of their books: Guantánamo: What the World Should Know by Michael Ratner and Ellen Ray, and Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bombs Away


"The President looks in the mirror and speaks
His shirts are clean but his country reeks
Unpaid bills
In Afghanistan hills"

Bombs Away
From the album Zenyatta Mondatta (A&M)
Words and music by Stewart Copeland


Washington - The House on Wednesday approved an $81.4 billion emergency spending package for combat and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, which would push the total cost of the wars beyond $300 billion.

By a 388-43 vote, the House gave President Bush most of the money he had requested, with strong support from both Republicans and Democrats. The Senate will consider its version in April.

The legislation is the fifth emergency spending plan Bush has sent to Congress for wars since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It provides $76.8 billion for defense-related expenses and, overall, is roughly $500 million less than the president's request.

In a statement, Bush said the House passage showed a "strong bipartisan support for our troops and for our strategy to win the war on terror."

"The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are building new democracies and defying the terrorists, and America is standing with them," he said.

In a setback for the White House, the House trimmed president's request for Afghan reconstruction projects and State Department programs and prohibited any money in the bill from being used to build a sprawling U.S. embassy in Baghdad, despite intense lobbying by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The moves sent a signal to the president that while lawmakers would give troops what they needed, emergency spending packages for the war should only be used to pay for urgent matters. Link

American Army internal reports detailing the conditions under which two Afghan prisoners were beaten to death in December 2002 in Baghram prison, north of Kabul, demonstrate, according to the human rights defense organization Human Rights Watch, that the use of torture was systematic in Afghanistan. Close to thirty American soldiers could be indicted for having participated in the murders. Two of them from the 377th Military Police Company of Cincinnati (Ohio), Sergeant James Boland and Private Willie Brand, have been charged: for abuse and assault in the first case, for involuntary manslaughter in the second.

[…]

The two detainees were "chained in their cells and frequently beaten." The investigators cite "credible information" according to which four guards regularly "kicked them in the groin and the legs," "threw them against walls and tables," "forced them to stay in painful positions during interrogations and poured water into their mouths until they suffocated."

The autopsies completed by doctors and cited in the reports indicate that Dilawar's legs were so damaged that amputations would have been necessary. Dilawar died of "violent trauma to the inferior extremities provoking coronary and arterial complications," according to a document dated July 6, 2004.

Mullah Habibullah died of a pulmonary embolism apparently linked to the presence of clots formed in his legs following blows received to them, according to a June 1, 2004 report.

Among the other soldiers under indictment, one "put his penis alongside the face" of a prisoner" and "simulated sodomization." "There were several other deaths in American prisons in Afghanistan before December 2002, and we would like to have information on this subject," explains John Sifton. He also wonders "the reason why, in this matter, in those at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, no member of American intelligence services, and notably of the CIA, has been indicted, even though they had overall control of the interrogations and the prisoners." Link


"Bombs away
But we’re OK"

Bombs Away
From the album Zenyatta Mondatta (A&M)
Words and music by Stewart Copeland


From last May through February, U.S. warplanes flew 13,000 missions and dropped about 490 bombs and missiles weighing a combined 265,800 pounds. That's not much compared to the 41,000 coalition missions flown during the first month of the war in March and April 2003, but in those early days there was an organized Iraqi military with air defense installations and regime headquarters. Those are gone, but the number of bombings rose sharply twice last year, jumping from 13 in May to 127 in August, and from 50 bombings a month in September and October to more than 100 in November, according to numbers obtained from military officials by the Voice. Link

Say hello to

Bring Visibility which is a newly minted site. Check it out.

Also Bitch. Ph.D., which has been around blogtopia for a few months. Makes for a good read.