Friday, April 15


Byron Williams says, "As Christians, Falwell et al need work on the fundamentals."

It seems quite paradoxical for fundamentalists to periodically invoke the name of Jesus in their rhetoric while advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, militarism and authoritarianism, along with the exclusion of certain Americans from the public conversation.

Such beliefs do not play well, however, with a Jesus who emphasized love, justice, hope and opportunity. The very idea of something called a "fundamentalist Christian" as currently practiced is by definition oxymoronic.

It is impossible to be a fundamentalist Christian and not apply a strict adherence to the belief of "love your neighbor as yourself," a concept Jesus placed as a high priority. In short, a fundamentalist Christian must be a fundamentalist to love.
The challenge is to wrest the title "fundamentalist Christianity" away from those who have narrowly defined it as a tool that works in tandem with the state for its own purposes of greed, domination and a limited interpretation of morality.

I'd give that a big "Amen"!


Assault on the filibuster:

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell explained it very clearly early this month in a response to Bush's weekly radio address.

"The president's veto power is a check on Congress. The Senate's power to confirm or reject judicial nominations balances the president's authority to nominate them. Our system of checks and balances is in place for a very good reason: it works. It protects all Americans, those in small as well as large states," Mitchell said.


If you read nothing else today, don't miss this great Molly Ivins rant. I've already shared it "around the water cooler" and it's great ammunition; it got a lot of gasps and expressions of anti-Rethug anger in response (by more than one Republican, too).

Thursday, April 14


I admire a maverick that has the courage to speak his/her mind. I have not always have been a fan of Congressman Chris Shays (R-CT), but he's not a popular guy in his party right now, and he's not backing down from his statements criticizing Tom DeLay. That takes some guts, when you're getting the cold shoulder from the people you know best. Of course, being a Rep from Connecticut requires a certain amount of centrism, but it's still a lonely position for a Republican in D.C. Let's give him credit.

And hope a few more representatives of his party have a great enough sense of honor and integrity to join him.


From Rolling Stone Politics, The Crusaders:

The one-two punch of militant activists and big money has helped make the Dominionists a force in Washington, where a growing number of congressmen owe their elections to the machine. Kennedy has also created the Center for Christian Statesmanship, which trains elected officials to "more effectively share their faith in the public arena." Speaking to the group, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay -- a winner of Kennedy's Distinguished Christian Statesman Award -- called Bush's faith-based initiatives "a great opportunity to bring God back into the public institutions of our country."

The most vivid proof of the Christianizing of Capitol Hill comes at the final session of Reclaiming America. Rep. Walter Jones, a lanky congressman from North Carolina, gives a fire-and-brimstone speech that would have gotten him laughed out of Washington thirty years ago. In today's climate, however, he's got a chance of passing his pet project, the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, which would permit ministers to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, effectively converting their tax-exempt churches into Republican campaign headquarters.


It's not very satisfying to watch the arrogant Tom DeLay eating a bit of crow and "apologize" for blaming judges for Terri Schiavo's death when he segues straight into a call for a Congressional investigation of those same judges.

''I have asked the Judiciary Committee to look at the Schiavo case and the actions of the judiciary," said DeLay, a Texas Republican. ''The legislative branch has certain responsibilities and obligations given to us by the Constitution. We set the jurisdiction of the courts. We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse. We have oversight of how we spend their money. All of these are oversight tools."

DeLay said the committee would decide whether to recommend impeachment for any of the judges involved in the Schiavo case. He said he had set no time frame for the committee's work.
Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the chief Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Delay's request ''shows a complete lack of understanding about the principles of separation of powers. The last thing we should be doing is looking into the judiciary's actions in this case. Congress had no business to begin with weighing in [on] a private matter under state court jurisdiction. Reviewing the judiciary's actions only adds insult to the injury Congress has already caused."

I don't know how any reasonable person could call DeLay's remarks an "apology." Or how DeLay could, with a straight face, assert that he favors an "independent" judiciary, when in the next breath he insists that the Congress has the right and power to punish judges for decisions they don't like.

Wednesday, April 13


I really can't believe the poor taste being demonstrated in the National Guard's offer to purchase the naming rights of RFK Stadium for $6 million.

Thanks to the persistence of the Iraqi resistance and the so-called War on Terror's expansionist agenda, the Pentagon still needs more warm bodies to sacrifice. This is why, as Time Magazine reports, the Guard has now hired 1,400 new recruiters. This is why -- even though 25,000 soldiers are currently on food stamps -- there are 6 million dollars in the Pentagon Budget to spend on stadium naming rights. This is also why RFK stadium of Southeast DC -- with its decrepit high schools and spiraling unemployment -- is a perfect locale for their new publicity stunt. Since Sept. 11th, Armed Forces enlistment by African-American men has dropped by 47 percent. Presumably, even if they can't afford tickets, folks of color can come on by to sign up at the adjacent recruitment stands.
We need to see this attempted name purchase for what it is: an act of aggression by a military bent on increasing its ranks by whatever means possible, including using sports as a lure to hook unwary citizens. If the name is changed, DC residents should respond with the same words as the growing numbers of National Guardsmen who are now refusing to be recalled for duty. Repeat after me, "Hell no! We won't go!"


In a tortured revision of the old hair-dye commercial, the occupation of Iraq by American armed forces is getting older, but not getting better.


(I bumped this up on request.)

Another whimsy from Motherlode:


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary
Over some new offense by a peevish, lying wingnut boor,
While I lost more precious slumber contemplating one more bummer
By a pundit so much dumber, dumber than the one before.
"’Tis my task to become number to each hummer, that’s my chore.
Merely this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember when reporters would dismember
Any statement by a member speaking on the Senate floor
Not content to merely scribble every little drip and dribble,
Theirs the job to check and quibble, bringing candor to the fore.
But, alas! they’ve been co-opted, rushing us to needless war,
Doomed to just be media whores.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your attention I implore;
But the fact is you’ve been napping while the right-wing gang is sapping
Our most treasured rights and trapping more of us among the poor.
Is your sense of pride and independence gone forever more?
Is there no return in store?”

Then at last I heard the laughter bouncing from my bedroom rafters
And I knew that ever after in the journalism corps
There would still be more annealing till they nearly all are reeling
And, I have a sinking feeling, kneeling at the Bushes’ door,
Begging access and declaring they are willing to be whores,
On their knees forever more.


Here's hoping that more exposure will be given to the issue of Bush's movee to cut support for veterans' nursing homes.

When in doubt, go after the Americans who need help the most -- even if they're veterans.

That's the truth in President Bush's budget before Congress, which includes a move to drastically cut financial support for up to 80 percent of the veterans in 129 state-run veterans nursing homes.

The 13,400 nursing home beds now available in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities would be slashed as well.

We don't know who in the administration came up with this cold-hearted plan, but their conscience was missing in action, and the proposal cannot be allowed to stand.

I could say he's a cold-hearted S.O.B., but that would be flattering him.


What irony. Energy companies are beginning to address the issue of global warming, when the Bush administration won't.

Duke Energy Corp. will lobby for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions that would reduce fossil fuel consumption and begin addressing the global warming problem, the company’s chairman and chief executive said Thursday.
“It is clear that the United States needs cohesive environmental and energy policies that break the continuing logjam, and we intend to take a leadership role in developing and advancing those policies,” he wrote.

“For example, we will be proactive on the issue of global climate change. By helping shape public policy, we can advance the interests of our investors and customers, while also addressing the issue itself.”

Cinergy took similar stand
Duke Energy, which ranked 86th in the recent Fortune 500 list, follows Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corp., which addressed global warming in an annual report issued last week.

“As a major coal-burning utility, some might expect us to duck this issue,” wrote James Rogers, chairman, president and chief executive. “But avoiding the debate over global climate change and failing to understand its consequences are not options for us.”

In Thursday’s speech, Anderson said the greatest attraction of a mandatory carbon tax is that “it allows us to share the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy — minimizing the disruption in any one area.”


What a day. Back-to-back meetings, a new assignment every few hours (all due within a few weeks), etc. The good thing is, I'm happiest when I'm busiest.

The most interesting, and infuriating, event of the day: I attended a luncheon of around 50 people (a meeting of the Dallas chapter of International Association of Business Communicators), at which the featured speakers were public relations executive Jennifer Webster, who with Merrie Spaeth served as spokesperson for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Dr. Rita Kirk of SMU, who has recently completed a study of blogging during the presidential race of 2004; Dr. Kirk's study will be published in the June/July issue of American Behavioral Science. I recorded the whole thing and will post the transcription as soon as I have time. Meanwhile, I'll note that Webster's presentation got me steamed all over again about the Swift Boat Vets issue, but I was gratified to see that several (mystifyingly, all male) other attendees had the same reaction as did I. While I was prepared to jump on any new revelations, Webster merely rehashed what we who are informed already knew, but I'll admit to being amazed that she continues to assert that the Vets championed the "truth," while ignoring the fact that that "truth" was questionable, e.g. the meme "I served with John Kerry" was a euphemism for "I served in the military at the same time that John Kerry did" as opposed to "I actually served on the same boat as did John Kerry."

Webster explained the Swift Boat Vets PR success as a "tapping code strategy" (the suggestion of a former VietNam POW related to the "tapping" code used by POWs to communicate with one another in a manner not understood by their guards), i.e., when they had negative results from their attempts to get the MSM to cover their story, they went around them and contacted right-wing bloggers, wingnut talk radio hosts, and other alternative media, who championed their cause. She claimed that another source of their success was poor strategy by the Kerry campaign in initially failing to respond to their charges, in suing over the Unfit for Duty John O'Neill book, which brought MSM attention to it, and suing over the Sinclair Broadcasting airing of the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor.

Dr. Kirk's presentation was both interesting and maddening in several ways. She asserted that while only 2% of Internet users actually read blogs during the election cycle, fully 13% of American voters went to the Internet to receive information about the nominees. She lauded the contributions to blog history-making of Zephyr Teachout of the Dean campaign, but said that "Deaniacs championed a candidate that didn't actually exist." I was not called on during Q&A, probably because I looked choleric in my anger about that statement. She spoke about the network of communities of interest but competely omitted the place of comments in that process. Granted, she only had about 30 minutes to speak, but other than Drudge and Technorati, I'd never heard of any of the blog-related sites she mentioned, and I've been an active blog reader (forget my own blogging) for more than three years.


I'm not even going to excerpt it. You have to read it for yourself. Max Blumenthal's report on the "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference.


A WaPo Freedom of Information request has resulted in documentation that Negroponte knew exactly what was happening in Nicaragua and Honduras. What an intelligent chief he'll make!

The documents offer revealing glimpses into the personality, leadership style and political attitudes of the man President Bush selected to shake up U.S. intelligence in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Negroponte's determination to reverse the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua occasionally put him at odds with fellow envoys and with more cautious State Department bureaucrats.

"I have my doubts about a dinner at the residence for a man who is in the business of overthrowing a neighboring government," cabled U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Anthony Quainton, after Negroponte played host to the political leader of the contra rebels, Adolfo Calero. Quainton made it clear that he was not a fan of Negroponte's "gastronomic diplomacy."

Overall, Negroponte comes across as an exceptionally energetic, action-oriented ambassador whose anti-communist convictions led him to play down human rights abuses in Honduras, the most reliable U.S. ally in the region. There is little in the documents the State Department has released so far to support his assertion that he used "quiet diplomacy" to persuade the Honduran authorities to investigate the most egregious violations, including the mysterious disappearance of dozens of government opponents.

The contrast with his immediate predecessor, Jack R. Binns, who was recalled to Washington in the fall of 1981 to make way for Negroponte, is striking. Before departing, Binns sent several cables to Washington warning of possible "death squad" activity linked to Honduran strongman Gen. Gustavo Alvarez. Negroponte dismissed the talk of death squads and, in an October 1983 cable to Washington, emphasized Alvarez's "dedication to democracy."


Bolton -- what a great face for the USA.

In caustic and unusually personal testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Carl W. Ford Jr., who was assistant secretary for intelligence and research, said Mr. Bolton was a "kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy" who "abuses his authority with little people," and an ill-suited nominee to become ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Bolton, he said, had been dissatisfied with what he considered the analyst's overly cautious assessment of Cuba's weapons program.

The testimony offered an extraordinary public glimpse into the long-running and raw intelligence wars in the Bush administration, pitting hawks like Mr. Bolton, a protégé of Vice President Dick Cheney, against more circumspect intelligence operatives at the State Department who, among other differences, cast doubt on some prewar claims about Iraq.

Mr. Ford described himself as a conservative Republican and enthusiastic supporter of President Bush, Mr. Cheney and the policies of Mr. Bolton, who has been under secretary of state for arms control and international security since 2001 and an outspoken conservative critic of the United Nations. All the Republican senators at the hearing took pains to praise Mr. Ford for his service and his candor.

Democrats portrayed Mr. Ford's testimony about the clash between Mr. Bolton and the analyst, Christian P. Westermann, as having grave and far-reaching implications for American credibility, especially telling in light of the failure to find illicit weapons in Iraq that the intelligence agencies had said would be there. Republicans, though, characterized it as an isolated incident that would not derail the nomination.

Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, had to go to the intelligence bureau after Mr. Bolton's criticism of Mr. Westermann, and assure employees that they should continue to "speak truth to power," Mr. Ford recounted.
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the panel's ranking Democrat, said Mr. Bolton's record would undercut any American attempt to warn the United Nations of Iran's or North Korea's suspected weapons programs.

"This is a big deal, guys and ladies," Mr. Biden said. "I believe that this appointment is damaging to our national interests."

God, I'm so disappointed in Biden -- in so many ways, he seems like the stand-up tough guy that could win the presidency for the Democrats in '08, but I just can't get past my extreme anger over his position (and let's be honest, leadership) in favor of the corrupt bankruptcy bill.


I love this editorial about John Bolton in the Palm Beach Post:

Mr. Bolton's penchant for exaggeration extended to his claim, in 1994, that "there's no such thing as the United Nations." He says now that he was just trying to get his audience's attention. Was he trying to do the same thing in 2003, when his "audience" was Congress and intelligence officials had to stop him from giving a misleading version of the threat posed by Syria? Or this week, when he overstated the State Department's official assessment of Iran's nuclear goals?

As the oil-for-food scandal shows, the U.N. could stand some tough, constructive criticism. But such criticism has to come from someone known for telling the truth, not for twisting it.


Fred Kaplan of Slate gives three reasons why John Bolton should be rejected as the nominee for U.N. Ambassador:

First, the evidence suggests that Bolton, while he was undersecretary of state, tried to pressure and dismiss intelligence analysts who challenged his own preconceptions.

Second, he skirted questions of whether the United Nations should have done more to prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda—and thus the underlying issue of whether the United Nations should play any role in such matters. (It should be added that Bolton's evasion was matched by that of the committee's members, who failed to push the question more directly.)

Third, he looked and sounded like a man at best uninterested in, and often contemptuous of, the United Nations as an institution.

In short, John Bolton came off as strikingly lacking in the credibility, values, and basic commitment that, especially these days, the job of U.N. ambassador requires.

Monday, April 11


This Salon article is truly frightening. It relates to the "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference in Washington late last week, where Michelle Goldberg reports that it brought "together lawmakers and Capitol Hill staffers with unabashed theocrats. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., shared the stage with prominent adherents of Christian Reconstructionism, a Calvinist doctrine that calls for the subordination of American civil law to biblical law."

Now when I was just a little kid and John F. Kennedy was running for president, the most damning accusation made about him by the opposition was that his Catholic faith would suborn his respect for American law and that the "Pope" would be interfering in our lawmaking. JFK denied it, of course, and his record will demonstrate that he kept that promise.

Now American lawmakers are comfortable with Christian Reconstructionism, which SPECIFICALLY CALLS for the elevation of biblical law above American civil law? How is that different from the Taliban or any other Muslim theocracy, which we decry?

In another unconscionable episode at the conference, the Schindler lawyer, David Gibbs, described Terri Schiavo in her last days as "alive as any person sitting here...completely animated, completely responsive, desperately trying to talk." This from a woman whose cerebral cortex was goo? It's patently impossible that this was true, and the fact that he said it completely discredits anything the man might say about anything else.

DeLay accused the judiciary of having "run amok," and said that to rein it in, it would be necessary to "reassert Congress' constitutional authority over the courts." His endorsement was one of many signs that this intense conclave, with all its apocalyptic despair and exhilarated calls for national renewal, represented something more than a frustrated eruption by the febrile fringe. However odd the ideas emanating from the conference seemed to a secularist, they are taken seriously by people with real power in our nation. Indeed, they're taken more seriously than such oft-derided relics as "separation of church and state," which the conferees treated as a devilish heresy.
"Our Founding Fathers," he [Gibbs] said, "they were going to take the word of God, and God has given us in the Bible his word, and they said this book will always be true, and if there is ever a close call in policy, in leadership, in law, in society, if there's ever a question, we want to look to the source of absolute truth. That's why the Ten Commandments are so important. They were the original source of American law."

That version of history is taught at Christian schools like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Gibbs' alma mater. It is also a virtual fairy tale. The Constitution contains not a single mention of God, Christianity or the Bible.
As Gibbs finished speaking, Scarborough invited the audience to get on their knees. All over the room, people dropped to the floor, heads bowed. From somewhere in the audience, a preacher started up:

"Father, we echo the words of the apostle Paul, because we know Judge Greer claims to be a Christian. So as the Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 5, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus."

It sounded like a prayer for death.
[My emphasis]

(But let me just say, many Biblical scholars interpret that verse (1 Corinthians 5:5) as meaning: "Deliver this man to Satan: once the sinner is expelled from the church, the sphere of Jesus' lordship and victory over sin, he will be in the region outside over which Satan is still master. For the destruction of his flesh: the purpose of the penalty is medicinal: through affliction, sin's grip over him may be destroyed and the path to repentance and reunion laid open." This interpretation is confirmed by Paul's words later in the chapter, when he says it's not his purpose to tell Christians not to associate with sinners, for to do so one would have to leave the world. On the contrary, he states, he's instructing us not to associate with a sinful "brother" (fellow Christian), because by expulsion from the church (a sort of "medicinal" penalty) he may be brought back into the fold. See 2 Corinthians 5:5-11, where Paul urges the church to reaffirm love for the sinning brother, lest he be overwhelmed by excessive pain, and to forgive and encourage him.)


The NY Times reports that conservative bloggers went apes***t over AP photographers winning the Pulitzer Prize. But then it acknowledges that those same bloggers backed off their unfounded accusations of "felony murder" and links to the insurgents on the part of the photogs after AP explained the circumstances surrounding the award-winning photographs.

So the story is, wingnut bloggers made terrible accusations without foundation (just as they did about the Martinez-distributed Schiavo memo being a plant by the Democrats) and when they found out they were wrong, they withdrew their outrage.

And this is news?

Maybe I should report that I got really mad at my husband yesterday when I noticed that all the fatty mayonnaise was gone when he's only supposed to eat fat-free. But then I found the jar, so I'm not angry any longer.


First Draft alerts us to this bizarre story.

Apparently FEMA paid for the funerals of 315 people killed by the Florida hurricanes last year. Only problem is, Florida only officially recorded 123 fatalities. Quite a gap, there! "If you were to call around to all the medical examiner offices, people would say, `No way did we have as many deaths as FEMA is saying,'" said Dr. Stephen Nelson, head of Florida's Medical Examiners Commission. "It's just an incredible number -- a difference of 192. This is the Free Funeral Payment Act."

Sounds a lot like fraud to me, too.


Enjoying your Bush Boom yet?

For the first time in 14 years, the American workforce has in effect gotten an across-the-board pay cut.

The growth in wages in 2004 and the first two months of this year trailed inflation, compounding the squeeze from higher housing, energy and other costs.
For now, workers' wallets are being pummeled by something of a perfect storm of economic forces: a weak job market, rising health insurance premiums and other inflationary pressures.

The biggest factor is the slack employment market, which means there is little pressure on businesses to boost pay.
The squeeze is especially intense on the 47% of the workforce whose employers don't directly provide their health insurance. For lower-income workers, who are more likely to be uninsured, the falling value of their wages is even more serious because they're more likely to live paycheck to paycheck. And rising food and energy prices take a proportionately higher toll on the poor than on the rich.


Lord, I am so weary of wingnuts decrying persecution of conservatives on American college campuses! Their whines fill the right-wing radio airwaves. Bill Bennett, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and their ilk seem to interview a David Horowitz every other day. The refrain goes on ad nauseum that liberal professors indoctrinate our young people with their dangerous philosophies and harass and mock conservative students.

AlterNet posts a thoughtful response to the meme.

Conservatives complain relentlessly that they do not get a fair shake in the university, and they want parity--that is, more conservatives on faculties. Conservatives are lonely on American campuses as well as beleaguered and misunderstood. News that tenured poets vote Democratic or that Kerry received far more money from professors than Bush pains them. They want America's faculties to reflect America's political composition. Of course, they do not address such imbalances in the police force, Pentagon, FBI, CIA and other government outfits where the stakes seem far higher and where, presumably, followers of Michael Moore are in short supply. If life were a big game of Monopoly, one might suggest a trade to these conservatives: You give us one Pentagon, one Department of State, Justice and Education, plus throw in the Supreme Court, and we will give you every damned English department you want.

Conservatives claim that studies show an outrageous number of liberals on university faculties and increasing political indoctrination or harassment of conservative students. In fact, only a very few studies have been made, and each is transparently limited or flawed. The most publicized investigations amateurishly correlate faculty departmental directories with local voter registration lists to show a heavy preponderance of Democrats. What this demonstrates about campus life and politics is unclear. Yet these findings are endlessly cited and cross-referenced as if by now they confirm a tiresome truth: leftist domination of the universities. A column by George Will affects a world-weariness in commenting on a recent report. "The great secret is out: Liberals dominate campuses. Coming soon: 'Moon Implicated in Tides, Studies Find.'"


Crap. Who's running things over there? Now U.S. forces are being accused of taking Iraqi women hostage to force their relatives to surrender, a violation of international law. And even if it weren't, it's an immoral practice, distinctly un-American.

Or it used to be.


Seems the Governator is having trouble implementing his agenda:

Schwarzenegger may yet salvage some victories this year. But he will have to do it in a hostile climate, as teachers, nurses and a raft of other critics stage raucous protests outside his fundraising events. They are also airing TV and radio spots, posting billboards and coordinating with legislative allies in their efforts to thwart the administration's agenda.

And the governor's poll numbers have been dropping steadily.


A sampling of Bush's nominee for U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton's, comments on the U.N."

"There is no such thing as the United Nations ... There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interests and we can get others to go along. And I think it would be a real mistake to count on the U.N. as if it is some disembodied entity out there that can function on its own." -Global Structures Convocation, Feb. 3 1994.

More on Bolton:

Re Vietnam: "He'd say `How can you let 2,000 men die there in vain?'" recalled Marty McKibbin, Bolton's teacher at the McDonogh School, then a private military academy in Baltimore. "The next year he'd come back and say, `How can you let 4,000 men die in vain?' He had his mind set on his views, and they haven't changed in 40 years."
In advance of Monday's hearing, Democrat and Republican congressional investigators were looking into allegations that Bolton once visited CIA headquarters to demand the removal of a top intelligence analyst who disagreed with his assessment of Cuba's biological warfare capabilities.

If true, the alleged visit risked undermining the objectivity of intelligence judgments by sending a message that analysts who don't tell policy-makers what they want to hear could face punishment.

Bolton warned of Cuba's capabilities in 2002. intelligence analysts later rejected his claims.

"He's not a healthy skeptic about the United Nations, but widely known as a committed destructive opponent, an ideological lone ranger," said Jonathan Dean, a former ambassador and advisor to the Union of Concerned Scientists. "He's been a one-man death squad for arms control and disarmament."

Late last month, 62 former U.S. ambassadors signed a letter sent to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., labeling Bolton "the wrong man for this position."

UPDATE: WaPo has an interesting intro to today's beginning of hearings on Bolton's nomination:

During a meeting on North Korea in late 2001, John R. Bolton's repeated talk of overthrowing Kim Jong Il frustrated the State Department's specialist on the country. "Regime change" is not President Bush's declared objective in North Korea, Charles L. Pritchard recalled telling Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

"That is exactly what we are all about," Bolton snapped back, curtly reminding Pritchard and a colleague that U.S. troops had just finished overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan, Pritchard said.
For the past four years, as the administration's point man on weapons of mass destruction, Bolton has worked to reverse decades of U.S. nonproliferation and arms control policies. He maintains that the system of arms treaties established since World War II -- with milestones under presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush -- have constrained U.S. power and infringed on American sovereignty without holding other nations to account.

This is a great article, documenting Bolton's misuse and abuse of intelligence and intelligence analysts re Cuba and Syria, his manipulation of other agencies to counter Colin Powell and the administration's foreign policy, and other classic Bolton maneuvers.

UPDATE: The Washington Note is on top of the Bolton story, big-time.


My God, these people are beginning to sound like not only sympathizers, but domestic terrorists themselves. Do they really think they can get away with veiled threats of violence against Supreme Court justices and not suffer any adverse political consequences? If they're right, and they can, this nation has entered a very dark tunnel indeed.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is a fairly accomplished jurist, but he might want to get himself a good lawyer -- and perhaps a few more bodyguards.

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.
Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence.
[Emphasis mine]

Why should we presume any such thing? Taking Rep. DeLay's and Sen. Cornyn's prior comments into account, it is becoming increasingly clear that radical Republicanism is establishing a pattern of using rhetoric to intimidate and threaten our independent judiciary. If some wingnut DOES commit violence against judges, saying "well, we never said to harm anyone physically" won't be nearly good enough.

UPDATE: Ruth Marcus' WaPo op-ed reports DeLay delivered a videotaped keynote address to the conference, during which he said, "Our next step, whatever it is, must be more than rhetoric." PRESUMABLY Vieira heard The Hammer's remarks before he quoted Stalin. So was using the quote a rhetorical device, or not? We report, you decide.

Sunday, April 10


In Iraq, the Shias aren't happy. From Riverbend:

There were hundreds of thousands of Shia screaming "No to America. No to terrorism. No to occupation. No to the devil. No to Israel." The numbers were amazing and a little bit frightening too...Ever since Jalal Talbani was named president, there have been many angry Shia. It's useless explaining that the presidential chair is only symbolic- it doesn't mean anything. "La izayid we la inaqis." As we say in Iraq. "It doesn't increase anything, nor does it decrease anything." People have the sense that all the positions are 'symbolic'- hence, why shouldn't the Shia get the head symbol? The disturbing thing is how the Kurds could agree to have someone with so much blood on his hands. Talbani is known for his dealings with Turkey, Britain, America and other and his feuds with Barazani have led to the deaths of thousands of Kurds...Two years and this is Occupation Day once more. One wonders what has changed in this last year. The same faces of April 2004, but now they have differing positions in April 2005. The chess pieces were moved around and adjusted and every one is getting tired of the game.

UPDATE: As Bill points out in the comments, Juan Cole has more on the demonstrations:

Big demonstrations were also held in Ramadi and in Najaf.

In Baghad, Shaikh Mu'ayyad al-Khazraji, a Sadr aide, said that the demonstrations would continue, to pressure the parliament to demand a US withdrawal.
The demonstrators demanded a swift trial of Saddam Hussein, a timetable for US withdrawal, the release of Iraqis detained by the US, and an end to the marginalization of the opposition. The demonstrators carried effigies of Saddam Hussein, President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, each labeled "International Terrorist." Ash-Sharq al-Awsat says that the crowds also demanded an end to torture in Iraqi prisons.

Off to the side a small crowd of Iraqi Christians joined in the demonstration, with placards saying, "We support the call of Sayyid Muqtada for national unity."

UPDATE: First Draft has a number of dramatic pictures of the demonstrations.


Tom DeLay may find that his former best buddy, Jack Abramoff, is becoming his nemesis:

"Everybody is lying," Abramoff told a former colleague. There are e-mails and records that will implicate others, he said. He was noticeably caustic about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. For years, nobody on Washington's K Street corridor was closer to DeLay than Abramoff. They were an unlikely duo. DeLay, a conservative Christian, and Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew, traveled the world together and golfed the finest courses. Abramoff raised hundreds of thousands for DeLay's political causes and hired DeLay's aides, or kicked them business, when they left his employ. But now DeLay, too, has problems—in part because of overseas trips allegedly paid for by Abramoff's clients. In response, DeLay and his aides have said repeatedly they were unaware of Abramoff's behind-the-scenes financing role. "Those S.O.B.s," Abramoff said last week about DeLay and his staffers, according to his luncheon companion. "DeLay knew everything. He knew all the details."

It is a Washington melodrama that has played out many times before. When political figures get into trouble and their worlds collapse, they look to save themselves by fingering others higher in the food chain. Will Abramoff attempt to bargain with federal prosecutors by offering up DeLay—and does he really have the goods to do so? Abramoff has at times hinted he wanted to bargain—possibly by naming members who sought campaign cash for legislative favors, says a source familiar with the probe. But Abramoff's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, says, "There have been no negotiations with the Justice Department." Lowell cryptically acknowledges that Abramoff has been "disappointed" and "hurt" by the public statements of some former friends, but insists his client is currently "not upset or angry with Tom DeLay." Still, if Abramoff's lunch-table claims are true, he could hand DeLay his worst troubles yet.


Paul Volcker sounds a Krugman-like warning:

Yet, under the placid surface, there are disturbing trends: huge imbalances, disequilibria, risks -- call them what you will. Altogether the circumstances seem to me as dangerous and intractable as any I can remember, and I can remember quite a lot. What really concerns me is that there seems to be so little willingness or capacity to do much about it.


Either Thursday or Friday, I forget which, I heard a wingnut radio talk show host ask the question of "liberal" Christians, "Why would you oppose the Pope's positions?" re sexual and gender matters. Here's my answer:

(1) Celibacy for the priesthood. There is nothing in the Bible, either Old or New Testament, which instructs the clergy to remain celibate. Hebrew priests were eligible to marry. "And the high priest … shall take a wife in her virginity" (Lev. 21:10,13). Priests had children by their wives, see Ex. 29:4-9; 1 Sam. 1:3. In the New Testament era deacons and presbyters (bishops, pastors) were married. "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…" (1 Tim. 3:2).

The Apostle Peter (whom some erroneously suppose to have been the first pope) was married. But in the Bible we read: "When Jesus was come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother laid and sick of a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her" ( Matt. 8:14,15). See also Mk. 1:30,31; Lk. 4:38,39.

Paul implied that some of the other apostles were married, and stated that they certainly were free to do so. "Have we not power to lead about a sister, wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas [Peter]?" (1 Cor. 9:5)

(2) Women in the ministry. There are no Biblical instructions against allowing women in the ministry. From the judge Deborah in the Old Testament to Phoebe, Anna, Priscilla and Junia in the New, the Bible is replete with instances of God-approved-and-ordained female ministers. See Acts 2:17-21, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." And, Galatians 3:28 - "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

(3) The forbidding of birth control. The Protestant (and I believe Biblical view) is that sex is for both procreation and pleasure (Proverbs 5:18-19; Song of Songs; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5,33-34). Therefore, it is entirely legitimate to have sex for the mere act of enjoyment, even when procreation is not possible.

(4) Demonization of homosexuality. Sexual orientation is not mentioned in the Bible. For further information, see this exposition on the six Bible passages used to condemn homosexuals.

(5) Proscription against divorce. While God clearly intended for marriage to be a lifetime commitment, he distinctly made provisions for divorce and remarriage. See What Does the Bible Say About Divorce and Remarriage?

So this is why I disagree with the Catholic Church's, and the late John Paul II's, positions on these issues: they are un-Biblical. They are the result of tradition and man-made law, not the Word of God.

UPDATE: See Sidney Blumenthal's piece on Bush's exploitation of Catholic voters.


So it's okay for the Bush administration to spend millions of taxpayer money on a propaganda campaign to bring down Social Security, but "liberals" are not allowed to use a public building to house a forum on the same topic.

Even as the White House has excluded opponents of privatization from even the audience at its events, the administration forced the cancellation of one event on Social Security sponsored by liberal groups at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, N.Y., on the grounds that the speakers were one-sided against Bush.
The administration won't say how much the Social Security campaign has cost.

A White House spokesman said the costs of the White House's efforts, including travel, are not disclosed to the public. A Treasury Department spokesman said the sums expended by his agency were "minimal." The Social Security Administration said it would look into the costs of sending three officials to 10 states .

One part of the total cost can be estimated. At an estimated cost of $60,000 per hour for Air Force One, Bush's 18,850 miles of travel to 23 cities and towns to lobby on Social Security have cost the Air Force about $1.8 million so far.

The White House has estimated in the past that staff costs for out-of-town events run between $22,000 and $59,000 per day. White House staff costs for Bush's 13 days out of town would thus total between $286,000 and $767,000.

The BushCo activities are probably legal since the President and his aides are mostly exempt from the law's restrictions. But this current campaign is almost unprecedented in recent history. "There's been nothing remotely like this" in recent decades, said Stephen Hess, a scholar at the Brookings Institution specializing in presidential politics.

What really outraged me was the decision by the National Archives and Records Administration to cancel a forum on Social Security at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York, to be sponsored by, among others, the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women, because it was to be "partisan." The National Organization of Women (NOW) has asked for a Congressional investigation into the decision.

You really have to read both articles to get a complete sense of the incredible hypocrisy at work here.