Friday, February 18


Listened to part of Dallas radio 570 KLIF's "Smackdown" event on my commute home yesterday. It was actually pretty funny, Alan Colmes versus wingnuts Darrell Ankarlo, Greg Knapp and Glenn Beck. I must say, Colmes did very well considering it was three against one, and he has the softest voice. I did grind my teeth on more than one occasion when he was speaking, but overall, not bad. Glenn Beck was mean-spirited, loud and boorish. Greg Knapp was "moderator" and actually tried a little moderating. Ankarlo was his usual up-and-down self, one minute almost charming, the next 15 trying to use volume alone to overcome his opponent.

Colmes held his own not because the other guys were generous enough to give him a chance to balance the arguments. They weren't. He used their brief pauses for breath to great effect, such as when Glenn Beck screamed, "Republicans believe in something, Democrats believe in NOTHING," Colmes came right back with, "We believe in something, Glenn, and you know it. Just because we don't agree with YOU doesn't mean we believe in nothing," not a memorable or profound statement, but at least it reverberated out there in the audience along with Beck's attempt to foster another conservative mantra. (If Colmes could play with these guys, why can't he do better with Sean Hannity, who is not nearly as well informed -- or misinformed -- or articulate as any one of the three?)

Why is it, lately, that all programs feature a 3-to-1 conservative advantage? I realize this event was sponsored by a conservative radio talk show, but the percentages seem to hold true on CNN, MSNBC, NPR and PBS as well.

Switched during commercial to Michael Savage, whom I almost NEVER listen to, and was shocked at his diatribe against Bush and the Republicans for getting us into this awful war and then not supporting our fighting men and women. He was particularly enraged at Bush's failure to rescue Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, who could face the death penalty if convicted of charges of premeditated murder made against him last week. (He shot two unarmed Iraqis during a mission.)

Savage was railing against a whole host of Bush/Repug policies, his bottom line being that at least with the demonic, traitorous Democrats you know what they'll do, whereas the Repugs say one thing and do another. He was very obviously depressed, talking about how he might not be doing his show any longer since he's not making a difference and has no power to affect the course of the administration. A caller commiserated with him, he's turned against Bush, etc. For a brief moment of naivete, I thought, If the Repugs lose these guys -- it took about a micro-second for me to shut off the thought. They hate and despise Democrats. Where else are they going to go? They may rant and rave about conservatives being betrayed by Republicans, but in the end, that's where their votes will go.


Reading Riverbend is like reading Anne Frank's diary as she wrote it, instead of after her death. It's heartbreakingly poignant but more, I feel as if I've come to know her, as if she's a friend in a terrible situation, and I fear for her freedom, security, even her life. I check her blog every day to see if she's posted. When she hasn't, I worry and pray. From her latest entry:

Is anyone surprised that the same people who came along with the Americans – the same puppets who all had a go at the presidency last year – are the ones who came out on top in the elections? Jaffari, Talbani, Barazani, Hakim, Allawi, Chalabi… exiles, convicted criminals and war lords. Welcome to the new Iraq.

Ibraheim Al-Jaffari, the head of the pro-Iran Da’awa party gave an interview the other day. He tried very hard to pretend he was open-minded and that he wasn’t going to turn the once-secular Iraq into a fundamentalist Shia state but the fact of the matter remains that he is the head of the Da’awa party. The same party that was responsible for some of the most infamous explosions and assassinations in Iraq during the last few decades. This is the same party that calls for an Islamic Republic modeled like Iran. Most of its members have spent a substantial amount of time in Iran.

Jaffari cannot separate himself from the ideology of his party.

Then there’s Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). He got to be puppet president for the month of December and what was the first thing he did? He decided overburdened, indebted Iraq owed Iran 100 billion dollars. What was the second thing he did? He tried to have the “personal status” laws that protect individuals (and especially women) eradicated.

They try to give impressive interviews to western press but the situation is wholly different on the inside. Women feel it the most. There’s an almost constant pressure in Baghdad from these parties for women to cover up what little they have showing. There’s a pressure in many colleges for the segregation of males and females. There are the threats, and the printed and verbal warnings, and sometimes we hear of attacks or insults.

You feel it all around you. It begins slowly and almost insidiously. You stop wearing slacks or jeans or skirts that show any leg because you don’t want to be stopped in the street and lectured by someone who doesn’t approve. You stop wearing short sleeves and start preferring wider shirts with a collar that will cover up some of you neck. You stop letting your hair flow because you don’t want to attract attention to it. On the days when you forget to pull it back into a ponytail, you want to kick yourself and you rummage around in your handbag trying to find a hair band… hell, a rubber band to pull back your hair and make sure you attract less attention from *them*.

We were seriously discussing this situation the other day with a friend. The subject of the veil and hijab came up and I confessed my fear that while they might not make it a law, there would be enough pressure to make it a requirement for women when they leave their homes. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well women in Iran will tell you it’s not so bad- you know that they just throw something on their heads and use makeup and go places, etc.” True enough. But it wasn’t like that at the beginning. It took them over two decades to be able to do that. In the eighties, women were hauled off the streets and detained or beaten for the way they dressed.

It’s also not about covering the hair. I have many relatives and friends who wore a hijab before the war. It’s the principle. It’s having so little freedom that even your wardrobe is dictated. And wardrobe is just the tip of the iceberg. There are clerics and men who believe women shouldn’t be able to work or that they shouldn’t be allowed to do certain jobs or study in specific fields. Something that disturbed me about the election forms was that it indicated whether the voter was ‘male’ or ‘female’- why should that matter? Could it be because in Shari’a, a women’s vote or voice counts for half of that of a man? Will they implement that in the future?
We’ve also heard of several more abductions and now assassinations. They say Badir’s Brigade have come out with a new list of ‘wanted’… but dead, not alive. It’s a list of mainly Sunni professors, former army generals, doctors, etc. Already there have been three assassinations in Saydiyeh, an area that is a mix of Sunnis and Shia. They say Badir’s Brigade people broke into the house and gunned down the families. This assassination spree is, apparently, a celebration of the election results.

It’s interesting to watch American politicians talk about how American troops are the one thing standing between Sunnis and Shia killing each other in the streets. It looks more and more these days like that’s not true. Right now, during all these assassinations and abductions, the troops are just standing aside and letting Iraqis get at each other. Not only that, but the new army or the National Guard are just around to protect American troops and squelch any resistance.

There was hope of a secular Iraq, even after the occupation. That hope is fading fast.


For all the questions being asked about how James Guckert aka Jeff Gannon got such privileged access to the White House press office and to hot stories from the administration before they broke publicly, I have one answer:

I am highly suspicious that Scott McClellan and Gannon/Guckert were either lovers or Gannon was stringing him along. Of course there could be other, additional motivations such as Gannon's willingness to shill for the administration line on any and all issues, disrupt press conferences when Scotty or the Resident were feeling the heat, etc. But I'm betting the end of the story will be the end of McClellan, one way or another.


Donald Rumsfeld isn't making himself very popular on Capitol Hill, even though he's asking for another $82 billion to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and another half trillion dollars for the Pentagon. Yesterday he walked out on hearings by a dumbfounded House Armed Services Committee and had to be apologized for by chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Cal). Those questions he WAS asked, he purported not to know the answers to:

Asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, Rumsfeld replied: "I am not going to give you a number."

That was not because he didn't have one. Later in the hearing he admitted he had estimates at his fingertips but said they were classified. In an exchange at another hearing (I saw it this morning on CNN), an exasperated John McCain asked Rummy if he didn't think the American people deserved to know just what they were up against since it would be their loved ones doing the fighting, Rummy replied that yes, he guess they deserved it, but he still wasn't going to say.

Did he care to voice an opinion on efforts by U.S. pilots to seek damages from their imprisonment in Iraq? "I don't."

Could he comment on what basing agreements he might seek in Iraq? "I can't."

Of course he COULD have reminded them that there are four permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, with the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root diligently constructing 10 others. (Hat tip to Mahablog for referring to this Seattle P-I story.)

How about the widely publicized cuts to programs for veterans? "I'm not familiar with the cuts you're referring to."

If he truly ISN'T familiar with them he should be ashamed (an emotion he's ALSO unfamiliar with). As Defense Secretary he is responsible for the entire armed forces, both those currently serving and veterans, and he should be deeply engaged in legislation affecting their treatment.

How long will the war last? "There's never been a war that was predictable as to length, casualty or cost in the history of mankind."
When Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) mentioned an estimate of the costs for increases in troops' death benefits and life insurance, Rumsfeld said: "I've never heard that number."

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) then complained about long-term Army expenses being included in an emergency spending package. Rumsfeld said the matter "really is beyond my pay grade."
Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-N.C.) pressed Rumsfeld on whether he had talked with an aide who was quoted last month as saying Congress had been too generous in expanding military retirement benefits. "No, I have not, nor have I seen the statement that you've quoted in the context that it might have been included," the defense secretary replied.



President Bush will sign today his Bill To Reward Big Businesses Who Defraud Or Injure Their Customers But Donate Big to Republican Campaigns:

"This bill is the Vioxx protection bill, it is the Wal-Mart protection bill, it is the Tyco protection bill, and it is the Enron protection bill," said Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), the Associated Press reported.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called the bill "the final payback to the tobacco industry, to the asbestos industry, to the oil industry, to the chemical industry at the expense of ordinary families who need to be able go to court to protect their loved ones when their health has been compromised."

This was, and is, such a cynical ploy to protect businesses from the consequences of their own actions. And once again, Bush and the Republicans have lied to Congress and to the American people. "Our courts are clogged with frivolous lawsuits"? In fact, U.S. businesses file four times more lawsuits than individuals and are penalized by judges much more often for frivolous suits, according to a report by Public Citizen, Frequent Filers: Corporate Hypocristy in Accessing the Courts:

Yet in Cook County, Ill., insurance companies filed about 8,000 lawsuits in 2002 — 35 times the number of class actions filed there by individuals that year, Public Citizen found. In fact, insurers file so many suits— mostly “subrogation” suits designed to recover the expense of covering their own policy holders — that last year they asked to be exempted from a model lawsuit “reform” law that would limit citizen access to the courts and that they otherwise support.

“We see nothing wrong with anyone, whether an individual or a business, taking a genuine dispute to court when it can’t be resolved amicably,” said Jackson Williams, the Public Citizen attorney who authored the study. “We simply ask that corporations stop demonizing a perfectly good legal system that they regularly utilize.”

See my earlier post, Farewell to Erin Brockovich, for a list of the Democratic Senators who voted for this iniquitous legislation.


Three-Card Maestro:

One last point: a disturbing thing about Wednesday's hearing was the deference with which Democratic senators treated Mr. Greenspan. They acted as if he were still playing his proper role, acting as a nonpartisan source of economic advice. After the hearing, rather than challenging Mr. Greenspan's testimony, they tried to spin it in their favor.

But Mr. Greenspan is no longer entitled to such deference. By repeatedly shilling for whatever the Bush administration wants, he has betrayed the trust placed in Fed chairmen, and deserves to be treated as just another partisan hack.

Thursday, February 17


I don't know if you've tried the Social Insecurity calculator, but it's quick and easy. I had no idea what my promised annual Social Security benefit is under the current plan, so I found that interesting first of all. According to the calculator, I'd only lose about $400 under the Bush privatization plan, but then I was born in the fifties. I tried plugging in my 26-year-old daughter's current annual salary and her birth year and found she would lose $7,500 annually under the Bush plan.

Get your adult children and younger friends to try it -- it might open their eyes.


War helps recruit terrorists, Hill told.

Gee, what makes them think that?


Un-freaking-believable. Bush has appointed John Negroponte as the first US Director of National Intelligence.

This is the man who while ambassador to Honduras, supervised the creation of an air base in El Salvador that was used as a "secret detention and torture center." 185 corpses, including two Americans, were excavated there in 2001. During his ambassadorship to Honduras, human rights violations became "systematic." The CIA And Argentine military kidnapped, tortured and kiled hundreds of people, and Negroponte covered it up, lying to Congress. Read more about John Negroponte here.

FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) discusses Bush's Iran-Contra appointees.

This is not a man who will flinch at rolling over civil liberties, justifying it in the name of the war on terra. And what kind of message does it send to the world about the integrity of our intelligence services? It's a disastrous, diabolical choice, but I've come to expect no less from the Bush administration.

Next thing we know, he'll have set up "interrogation centers" for domestic peaceniks and Democrats. If not, he'll at least have shut his eyes to it and cooperated in the cover-up.

Eric Alterman has more here.

UPDATE: Billmon has compiled some great little Negroponte nuggets.


The mainstream media isn't talking about it, but the Lynne Stewart conviction is a story that should strike fear in the hearts of Americans who prize our civil liberties and system of justice.

Jennifer Van Burgen, writing in Truthout:

Furthermore, how is the DOJ to determine that an attorney has violated SAM by "passing messages" to or from a client?

The answer: by eavesdropping on the lawyer/client conversation! (John Ashcroft admitted that the recent DOJ regulation allowing itself to monitor communications between lawyers and clients was written with Stewart in mind.)

What about the attorney/client privilege? (Another ethical duty as well as a rule of evidence and a rule of civil procedure.)3 Not even a judge can invade that, unless she determines it has been waived.

One legal scholar states: "To permit the attorney to reveal to others what is disclosed, would be not only a gross violation of a sacred trust upon his part, but it would utterly destroy and prevent the usefulness and benefits to be derived from professional assistance."4

So. The DOJ can invade attorney/client confidentiality, control what kinds of information can pass between the attorney and client, force attorneys to violate their ethical obligations to their clients, and it is the message-passing attorney who is guilty of a crime?

Seems like someone took a wrong turn here.
Fear obviously triggers our self-protective instincts, but the fact of the matter is that there is no way to absolutely ensure safety. There was no way before 9/11 and there is no way now. No matter where you live or what you do for a living. Life is inherently hazardous. The road that Bush and Ashcroft are taking us down leads to an underground cave. But Americans, like Bernard Shaw's Joan of Arc, have historically preferred death to life lived in a dungeon. Fear cannot be our Constitution. We cannot let fear submerge and destroy the principles that make this country great.

Former Superior Court of New Jersey Judge Andrew Napolitano:

No doubt the outcome of this case will have a chilling effect on lawyers who might represent unpopular clients. Since 9/11 the federal government's message has been clear: if you defend someone we say is a terrorist, we may declare you to be one of them, and you will lose everything.

The Stewart conviction is a travesty. She faces up to 30 years in prison for speaking gibberish to her client and the truth to the press. It is devastating for lawyers and for any American who may ever need a lawyer. Shouldn't the Justice Department be defending our constitutional freedoms rather than assaulting them?

There's more here. And oh my God, the freepers are screaming this at the top of their lungs: Soros Funded Convicted Terror Lawyer.

I like to quote the Michael Douglas character from the film The American President when he defends the ACLU: "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free'? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"


Why haven't we heard anything about Bob Novak and the Plame investigation like we have Tim Russert, Judy Miller and Matt Cooper?

Dan Engber speculates in What about Bob?


This is an important and terribly troubling read (as if we needed anything more to disturb us about our nation's moral decline -- and no, I don't mean abortion, gays or the like). It's Amy Goodman's interview with the author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. The teaser:

John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, worked for years as chief economist at an international consulting firm in Boston called Chas. T. Main. His job was to persuade countries that are strategically important to the U.S. - such as Indonesia, Panama, Ecuador, Iran and Saudi Arabia – to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development and then to make sure the lucrative projects were contracted out to U.S. corporations. Saddled with huge debts they couldn't possibly repay, these countries came under the control of the U.S. government, the World Bank and other U.S.-dominated aid agencies that acted like loan sharks, dictating repayment terms and bullying foreign governments into submission.

The entire transcript of the interview is here. Perkins talks about his 9/11 Ground Zero attack of conscience:

Well, I went up there a few weeks later and sat there and it was close enough to the time that I could still smell the burning flesh and see the smoke coming out of that hole, and I sat there and I knew that I had to take responsibility for what had happened there. I knew that I had to expose the truth because what happened at ground zero is a direct result of what -- of the empire building, of what we economic hit men did, and I knew as I sat there that if we don't do something to change the course we're on in the world, my daughter basically has no future and certainly her children don't, and I'm leaving them a much worse world than the one I inherited. And so at that point, I knew that no matter what the consequences, no matter how big a noose I was sticking my head into, I had to expose what's been going on in the world. This empire that we've created that's made so many people around the planet angry, that's resulted in destitution for billions of people on this planet. 24,000 people starve to death every day. 30,000 children die every single day from lack of medicines for diseases that could be cured and we have to take responsibility for that. We can change that and we will change it. But we'll only change it when we really come to understand what's going on.

I highly recommend you read the entire transcript. So much of it we know, but Perkins gives us a framework that makes it easier to share the story -- and we should, with everyone we know. As he says, "...we'll only change it when we really come to understand what's going on."

Wednesday, February 16


I work for what I consider a benign Fortune 250 corporation. It's not just my opinion. We're regularly characterized as "one of America's most admired companies," not just for our earnings performance, but for our community involvement and charititable activities. We happen to be in a business that luckily doesn't require bribes, consumer fraud or abuse of employees to succeed financially.

But this past week I was trying to book Willie Nelson for a convention of ours, and was completely stymied by Willie's absolute refusal to sing for a corporate event, no matter the cost. I even had access to his sister, who related a story of him recently saying no to a chance to perform for 45 minutes for $300,000 the same night he was performing three blocks away for less than $100,000.

It didn't work out for me, but I have complete respect for an artist whose principles rise above worship for the almighty dollar. As Willie once said, "Seventeen million dollars doesn't sound so much if you say it quickly."


Mahablog directs us to Jeanne d'Arc's timeline on the killings of journalists in Iraq.

Tuesday, February 15


A thought on Maya Keyes and her parents' "throwing her out of the house."

When The Sage and I were about her age, in love and experiencing the late sixties-early seventies challenges, I remember us taking out a pitcher of mushroom tea he'd stashed in his parents' refrigerator when his dad asked, "What is that?" I don't remember what The Sage replied but since he was always honest yet humorous I expect it was something like, "Nothing for you to worry about." I do remember his father's reply. It was, "Be careful, be smart, be responsible. I'm here if you need me."

That was so like his dad, and it probably was one of the main reasons we WERE careful, smart, and responsible. He so often told The Sage, and by extension me, that there was nothing we couldn't talk about with him, nothing he wouldn't try to understand. When The Sage told him that we were in love and wanted to be together even though we were still in college, his dad wrote him a letter I still cherish that began, "Some people say that blessed is the man who has found his work. I say, blessed is the man who has found his love."

Parenting is tough. As regular readers of this blog know, we've been married for years and have five children. We've had what I would characterize as frightening experiences with every single one of those kids, worrying about their choices and futures. I truly don't know how people without faith in God get through it. Yet never did it occur to us to cast one of our children out of our home and our lives. As siblings sometimes do, on occasions long past one or the other would say they couldn't live with one of the others. "Children are not expendable," I'd say. "We're in this together or not at all. If I cast off one of you, how could you trust that I'd always be there for YOU?"

I remember being relieved when I discovered that one of our sons, who at 13 seemed ever-so-slightly effeminate, had hidden a sexy poster of Christy Brinkley behind the clothes in his closet (he reads this blog, so I should mention that he's a very macho sports nut and a husband and father -- he was just so PRETTY as a youngster). It wasn't at all that I'd care myself if he was gay -- I just knew his life would be easier if he were hetero. We have gays in our quite religious family, among them a niece, who is an only child, and beloved and totally supported by her parents. A nephew, who died of AIDS in the care of my sister and brother-in-law. We don't understand how people who profess to be "religious" and concerned with "family values" can forsake their children simply because they have a different sexual orientation.

So I challenge the "family values" crowd to define just what they mean by "family values."

In my world, family values means you cherish every member, you make sure they know you do, and you don't go around casting one of them off because they don't conform to some publicly-accepted notion of respectability.

And guess what, it looks like that at least on this point, Dick and Lynne Cheney agree with me.


Bush's Social Security "reform" (read: destruction) initiative is not playing well in America, Ruy Teixeira reports in "That dog won't hunt."

But he won the presidency twice, the chimp says to other Repug politicos, while telling the American public what he wanted to do with Social Security, so they shouldn't fear challenging the "third rail of politics" will cause them difficulty with voters.

What an arrogant sap. He still doesn't get it (nor do many Dems) that he just got "re-elected" (I challenge that assertion -- we wuz robbed) because of the "war on terra" and nothing else.


I hate the Gannon/Guckert story. I hated the Mary Cheney and Maya Keyes stories. I hate the fact that all these personal exposes are relevant and newsworthy. And they ARE relevant and newsworthy, just as are the reports that Rick Santorum is financing his children's education at Pennsylvania taxpayer's expense even though they live and are educated in Virginia.

I hate the fact that Republican leaders are hypocritical, emotional sadists. They manipulate the good intentions and cultural fears of religious middle-Americans by demonizing Democratic tolerance while experiencing, even luxuriating in, and hiding from the voters their own human frailties while trumpeting their "righteousness."

Let the public beware of this institutional hypocrisy. Christ said of a prostitute, "He that is without sin, let him be the first to cast the first stone." The "religious" wingnuts have long forgotten that lesson of humility. And as long as they do, their lives will be subject to examination and exposure. It's the reasonable, and fair, consequence of their own policy of intolerance.


Oustanding. Court rules reporters must testify in Plame case.

The decision upholds a trial court judge's ruling last year that Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine should be forced to answer these questions or be sent to jail. Both reporters fought to stop a subpoena from the Special Counsel to appear before a grand jury investigating whether senior Bush administration officials knowingly leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert operative, to the media in the summer of 2003.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington rejected the contention that the First Amendment protects the information being concealed by the journalists, saying that a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision said just the opposite.

The judges also found there is no common law protection for journalists' confidential sources when a criminal investigation seeks to determine if a law has been broken and information about those sources is critical to that inquiry.

"We further conclude that if any such common law privilege exists, it is not absolute, and in this case has been overcome by the filings of the Special Counsel," the panel wrote.
Even the judge on the panel most supportive of applying a balancing test -- to determine the value of forcing reporters to discuss or identify confidential sources -- said the government had the advantage in this case.

Tatel wrote that the purpose of the government leaks, based on a story that Cooper wrote in the summer of 2003, appeared to be to smear a person who alleged the Bush administration exaggerated the strength of its evidence justifying going to war with Iraq.

"While requiring Cooper to testify may discourage future leaks, discouraging leaks of this kind is precisely what the public interest requires, " wrote Tatel.
[emphasis mine]

Damn straight.


Paul Krugman on The Fighting Moderates:

By standing firm against Mr. Bush's attempt to stampede the country into dismantling its most important social insurance program, Democrats like Mr. Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin and Barbara Boxer have, at a minimum, broken the administration's momentum, and quite possibly doomed its plan. The more time the news media spend examining the details of privatization, the worse it looks. And those Democrats have also given their party a demonstration of what it means to be an effective opposition.

In fact, by taking on Social Security, Mr. Bush gave the Democrats a chance to remember what they stand for, and why. Here's my favorite version, from another fighting moderate, Eliot Spitzer: "As President Bush embraces the ownership society and tries to claim that he is the one that is making it possible for the middle class to succeed and save and invest - well, I say to myself, no, that's not right; it is the Democratic Party historically that created the middle class."

For a while, Mr. Dean will be the public face of the Democrats, and the Republicans will try to portray him as the leftist he isn't. But Deanism isn't about turning to the left: it's about making a stand.

I listened on the radio this morning to the execrable Laura Ingraham. This morning's juvenile diatribe was about a recently published Norwegian study proving that lobsters don't feel pain when they are immersed in boiling water because like other invertebrates, their nervous systems are undeveloped and their brains are small:

The report looked at invertebrate groups such as insects, crustaceans, worms and mollusks and summarized the scientific literature dealing with feelings and pain among those creatures without backbones.

It concluded that most invertebrates _ including lobsters, crabs, worms, snails, slugs and clams _ probably don´t have the capacity to feel pain.
Mike Loughlin, who studied the boiling of lobsters when he was a University of Maine graduate student, said lobsters simply lack the brain capacity to feel pain.

"It´s a semantic thing: No brain, no pain," said Loughlin, who now works as a biologist at the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission.

Oh, this was fuel for hilarity on the part of Laura and her staff. Democrats were comically compared to the slugs, insects, and other creatures without backbones mentioned in the report, particularly Ted Kennedy. But Barbara Boxer and a few others came into the picture as well. None of us Dems have any spine, according to Laura, we'd all knuckle under to PETA, terrorists, Saddam, Kim Jong-il and anyone who shouted "boo" at us.

I guess she doesn't remember how Bill Clinton stood against the Gingrich/Dole/Republicans' attempt to blackmail him into acceding to their budget by shutting down the government. Who called who's bluff? Who took a stand and who caved?

"No brain, no pain," the Ingrahams kept chortling as a mantra for Democrats. Tee-hee. God, it was so bizarre. They were all acting and talking like seven-year-olds while charging that Democrats are stupid. Too bad their "unexamined lives" weren't exposed to an audience that would understand the irony of what they were witnessing.

I'd like to rub her flat face (she's nuts about ad hominem attacks, so I'll use some) in the mud over the next few years and show her what a Democratic backbone really is. I think somehow she's confused "spine" with "spite."


I've had to curtail my blogging activities for the past few days. I'm in the midst of two time-consuming film projects, planning the entertainment for a three-day convention in early March, PLUS readying for our semi-annual Leadership Forum that begins next week. I expect periodically it'll be light posting for the next week, unless something happens that so gets my goat I have to vent before I explode.

Monday, February 14


Michael Tomasky asks, What have we gotten for all the tough talk about nukes?

It’s a simple Newtonian equation: Tough-guy actions on one side mean that the other side will get tough, too. The American right loves to bash the 1994 Agreed Framework that the Clinton administration negotiated -- in direct talks -- with North Korea, and it seems clear that North Korea was violating it in crucial respects.

On the other hand, the framework accomplished some crucial goals, such as opening the country’s only plutonium reprocessing plant to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. And more importantly, it wasn’t until December 2002, after President Bush named North Korea as a member of the “axis of evil” and took steps that led to the suspension of heavy-oil shipments to North Korea -- a violation by America of the Agreed Framework, but one that you’re less likely to read about in the American press -- that the North Koreans restarted their nuclear activities at its Yongbyon plant and kicked the IAEA inspectors out. The tat earned its tit.

A recipe for spreading nukes:

Since late last year, however, America's nuclear labs have been instructed to design a new line of heavier nuclear warheads that would be more rugged and long-lasting than those now available. For now, the program is limited to design, not construction and testing. But once the designs are complete, the pressure to test the bombs is sure to mount. After that will probably come calls to spend trillions of dollars for new missiles to carry these heavier nuclear warheads.
This program sends a clear message to the rest of the world: Now that the superpower arms race has ended, Washington sees nuclear weapons as an important part of its military strategy against small and midsize states. It should be no surprise if those nations conclude that they must develop nuclear weapons of their own.

I was a little girl when the Cuban missile crisis occurred, and believe me, if you lived in Florida in a town with both an Air Force base and a Naval mine defense lab and within 100 miles of Pensacola Naval Air Base and Eglin AFB, you took the threat of nuclear weapons seriously. Some of my little friends were frightened to death. But back then, it was the Soviets who were threatening the security of the world. Now it's the USA. WHEN ARE AMERICANS GOING TO GET WISE TO THE FACT that this administration is a greater danger to our safety than the terrorists?