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:: Friday, January 31 ::

SO THEY DON'T ALL HATE US: Eight European heads of government have signed a letter supporting the disarming of Iraq. Some are trumpeting the letter as justification to go ahead and invade without UN approval. That couldn't be further from the truth. Rather than an end run around the Security Council, the letter specifically calls on the UN to "face up to its responsibilities." It aims to affect the outcome of a Security Council debate on war with Iraq, not avoid it.

It does, however, represent the most outspoken lack of optimism by anyone other than President Bush or British Prime Minister Tony Blair (who is among the eight) that Iraq will fully comply with Resolution 1441, and thus bring war upon itself.

Some are saying that the letter "puts to rest all of that unilateralism talk." Let's not fire up the Bradley fighting vehicles just yet. The US has always had Britain with it on Iraq, so this was never going to be "unilateral" in the sense of just the Americans going in there alone.

When people talk about not supporting "unilateral" action, the implication is that they want any war we fight to be sanctioned by a multilateral institution, namely the UN. Sending 200,000 US troops to invade Iraq with a couple of Costa Ricans tagging along wouldn't technically be "unilateral," but surely this isn't what people mean.

The poll numbers bear this out without the semantic confusion: about two thirds or so support a UN-backed war, while far less would support us going in without the UN's blessing.

Nor does the support of five of the 15 members of the European Union constitute European blessing for war, especially when the two most populous nations, France and Germany, were not even asked to sign. And even among those who did, keep an eye open for how many actually volunteer troops. Italy's Berlusconi, for example, faces no less opposition to the war in his country than Schroeder does in Germany; it just doesn't happen to be his constituency, so he needn't pander to it.

The same is true for all of the EU members who signed the letter, save Britain. (Blair is the exception that proves the rule; according to the Economist 80% of local Labor Party leaders oppose a war in Iraq.) The right holds power in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Denmark and so doesn't need to pay such close attention to an anti-war sentiment that has its base in the left. It is hardly surprising, then, that these leaders should sign on. Tellingly, though, conservative heads of government in Holland, Austria and, of course, France failed to sign the letter.

In the end, the "Gang of Eight" probably has it right. Anyone aware of Iraq's recent history should harbor doubts that it will disarm voluntarily. But these eight leaders have should be aware that their break from the Germany-France line on Iraq can and is being exploited by some as carte blanche support of whatever the Bush administration decides to do.

They should also begin work to repair the damage their letter has done to that ever-elusive concept of a common European foreign policy. The pejorative "Gang of Eight" moniker was not first used on a placard at an anti-war demonstration, but by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

:: posted by Joe at 04:25 ::
:: ::


:: Wednesday, January 29 ::

TOWARDS A MORE PERFECT UNION OF RHETORIC AND REALITY, PART I: There is no other way to do this when you are so goddam angry. We know that this method, with its absence of reasoned argument, is a cop-out. But we had to watch the feed on c-span.org alone and had no opportunity to make any snide or exasperated comments to anyone at all.

The original transcript is courtesy the NYT, who also provided helpful section headings in the text. Not a single word of the president's speech has been cut or altered, nor has the order of any sentence or phrase been changed. Text in bold reflects what wasn't said but was meant:

The State of the Union Message

Every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. This year, we gather in this chamber deeply aware of decisive days that lie ahead. We will decide which of the problems our nation faces we will demagogue and race-bait, we will decide which of these problems we will address with words but not action, and we will decide which additional problems we must manufacture to suit our political purposes.

You and I serve our country in a time of great consequence. During this session of Congress, we have the duty to reform government by dismantling domestic programs like Social Security and Medicare that are not vital to our country. We might have the opportunity to save millions of lives abroad from a terrible disease if there is any money left after cutting taxes and paying for wars. We will work for a prosperity that is broadly shared but not broadly meaningful, and we will answer to the extent that it's politically expedient every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people.

In all these days of promise and days of reckoning, we can be confident. Lack of confidence has been our primary fault in dealing with other nations. As the world's lone super-power, we need not heed the advice or concerns of lesser nations -- or cultures. In a whirlwind of change and hope and peril, our faith in Jesus Christ is sure, our resolve to enshrine His word in law at home and bring His message to other peoples around the world is firm, and our faith that His guidance assures the Righteousness of our union is strong.

This country has many challenges. We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and other generations unless they conflict with out short-term electoral agenda. We will confront them with focus on the Republican base, and clarity in our talking points and courage to say and do whatever it takes to stay in power.

During the last two years, we have seen what can be accomplished when we work together. I would like to thank Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont for taking the momentous decision to leave the Republican Party, which forced us to work together. I would also like to thank the Democratic leadership in Congress for rolling over on virtually major issue in the spirit of bipartisanship. To lift the standards of our public schools, we achieved historic education reform which created mandatory testing and other federal regulations that must now be carried out in every school, and in every classroom, and be paid for by anyone other than the federal government so that every child in America can read, and learn and succeed in life. To create the impression that we are taking serious steps to protect our country, we hastily reorganized our government and created the Department of Homeland Security which, while not including the FBI or CIA, whose failures were most responsible for our failure to detect and prevent the September 11th attacks, is mobilizing against the threats of a new era. To bring our economy out of recession, we delivered the largest tax relief in a generation. While our economy has not improved since that tax cut, I ask you to consider how bad this economy might be had we not passed it. Though it had no measurable effect on the state of the economy, we are confident that the next one will. To insist on integrity in American business, we passed what the accounting industry lobbyists who wrote the plan suggest we call tough reforms, and we are holding those corporate criminals who are not my friends or major contributors to my campaign to account.

Some of those who uncritically laud everything I say and reflexively defend everything I do might call this a good record. I call it a good start because I know that much more will be required to assure that conservative activists are sufficiently motivated to bring me a popular vote victory in 2004. Tonight I ask the House and the Senate to join me in the next bold steps of enacting the agenda of corporate lobbyists, racists, conservative ideologues, and the religious right while pretending our aim is to serve our fellow citizens.

Tax Cuts

Our first goal is clear: huge tax breaks for the wealthy and for corporations. We must have an economy that grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job because we recently severely curtailed unemployment benefits.

After recession, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, and stock market declines, our economy is recovering thanks to tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, yet it is not growing fast enough, or strongly enough. With unemployment rising, our nation needs more small businesses to open, more companies to invest and expand, more employers to put up the sign that says, "Help Wanted." To accomplish this, I ask you to join me in allowing the largest companies to expand and the wealthy to invest by shifting more of the tax burden to the middle-class, and to the poor.

Jobs are created when the economy grows; the economy grows when wealthy Americans have more money to spend and invest; and the best and fairest way to make sure wealthy Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place.

I am proposing that all the income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year. And under my plan, as soon as I have signed the bill, some of this extra money will start showing up in workers' paychecks while most will go to bonuses for wealthy executives and six-digit savings to those making a million dollars a year or more. Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty, we should do it now. Instead of slowly raising the child credit to a thousand dollars, we should send the checks to American families now. I ask you to support these two relatively-miniscule portions of my tax-cut plan so that we can pass the whole package without dissent.

This tax relief is technically for everyone who pays income taxes and it will help our economy immediately as the wealth trickles down, gradually becoming a cascade of prosperity. Ninety-two million Americans in the middle third of wage earners will keep this year an average of almost $1,100 more of their own money. A family of four with an income of $40,000 would see their federal income taxes fall from $1,178 to $45 per year. Because we have tens of millions of Americans living in poverty, who pay very little in taxes, their average savings are insignificant. Many in the upper third of wage earners will, on average, save in taxes far more than several times their gross annual salary. That average reflects the huge savings those earning a million dollars or more will receive. And our plan will marginally improve the bottom line for more than 23 million small businesses while saving the largest corporations billions in taxes. You, the Congress, have already passed all these reductions back when surpluses were the rule and there were no wars in sight, and promised them for future years in order to preserve the integrity of the budget. If this tax relief is good for Americans three or five or seven years from now, it is even better for Americans today. I ask you to accelerate these cuts and make them permanent before the looming budget crisis makes them impossible to enact.

We also strengthen the economy by treating investors equally in our tax laws. It's fair to tax a company's profits for now. It is not fair to again tax the shareholder on the same profits when they become income. We already tax a company's earnings and then tax those same earnings when they are paid as salary to workers. Let us draw the line here and now at earnings by investors. To boost wealthy-investor confidence in me before the 2004 campaign gets underway and to help the nearly 10 million seniors who receive dividend income, I ask you to end the unfair double taxation of dividends. Do not be tempted by those who engage in class-warfare to make the first million dollars in dividend earnings tax-free, or some similar scheme. This is a matter of principle.

Lower taxes for the wealthy and corporations and greater investment will help this economy expand. More jobs mean more middle- and lower-class taxpayers and in the event of a population explosion that would put the US on par with India or China, higher revenues to our government. The best way to not have to address the deficit and move toward a balanced budget is to give speeches that encourage economic growth and to show some spending discipline in Washington, D.C. on anything but defense or tax-cuts. I have said before and I will say it again: tax cuts are not spending.

We must work together to fund only our most important priorities: tax cuts and defense. Leaving aside the fact that the total budget will grow by about twice as much, I remind you that I will send you a budget that increases discretionary spending by 4 percent next year — about as much as the average family's income is expected to grow. And that is a good benchmark for us. Federal spending should not rise any faster than the paychecks of American families and nor should it rise any slower. We plan to keep pace with this important benchmark by running any necessary deficit and increasing debt ceiling at will.

A growing economy will be necessary to mask the vulnerability of individual retirement accounts to market forces, and a focus on the essential priorities of my privatization plan will be crucial to the future of Social Security. As we continue to work together to keep Social Security sound and reliable until after the next election, we must offer younger workers who know that the "Security" of Social Security is a fiction for their generation a chance to invest in retirement accounts that take the "Social" out as well. My plan for private investment accounts that they will control and they will own will extinguish one of the last, most stubborn remnants in our society of socialism, a discarded ideology of the last century.

Health Care

Our second goal after tax cuts is high-quality, affordable health for all Americans. The American system of medicine is a model of skill and innovation with a pace of discovery that is adding good years to our lives. Yet for many people medical care costs too much and many have no health coverage at all. These problems will not be solved with a nationalized health care system that dictates coverage and rations care. The Democrats support such a system. Make no mistake: any government subsidy for health care or expansion of Medicare to cover more Americans will result in the deaths of millions.

Instead we must work toward a system in which all Americans have a good insurance policy from a large corporation, choose their own doctors, and seniors and low-income Americans receive the help they need from somewhere other than the government. Instead of bureaucrats and trial lawyers like Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and H.M.O.'s, we must put doctors and nurses and patients back in charge of American medicine.

Health care reform must begin with holding the line on Medicare expansion. Medicare is the binding commitment of a caring society for now. We must renew that commitment in the short-term by giving those seniors who can afford it access to preventive medicine and new drugs that are transforming health care in America.

Seniors happy with the current Medicare system should be able to keep their coverage just the way it is. And just like you, the members of Congress and your staffs and other federal employees, all seniors who can afford one should have the choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drugs.

My budget will commit an additional $400 billion over the next decade to reform and strengthen Medicare. Prescription drugs that are good for seniors now will be just as good for seniors in a decade. Leaders of both political parties have talked for years about strengthening Medicare because seniors demand it. I urge the members of this new Congress to act this year on the health care and pharmaceutical industry plan to reform Medicare so that we can claim to have done something about it.

To improve our health care system we must address one of the prime causes of higher cost: the constant threat that physicians and hospitals will be unfairly sued and unfairly found liable by a jury. Because of excessive litigation by people like Sen. John Edwards, everybody pays more for health care and many parts of America like North Carolina, where Sen. John Edwards is from, are losing fine doctors. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. I urge the Congress to pass medical liability reform to limit the power of juries of citizens to unanimously award damages for negligence and malpractice that ruins a life.

Energy and the Environment

Our third goal after tax cuts and avoiding new expenditures related to health is to promote energy independence for our country by drilling for more oil at home and occupying oil-producing nations abroad, while asking polluters to voluntarily take steps with the eventual goal of dramatically improving the environment.

I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation with billboards and workbooks for children, to develop cleaner technology through research grants to companies like Texaco and ExxonMobil, and to produce more energy by drilling right here at home, in Alaska and the Rocky Mountains, and on the coasts of Florida and California. And I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates for those who volunteer to participate a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. In addition to making compliance voluntary, this legislation increases the time polluters have to comply. More time means more compliance. More compliance means cleaner air. I have sent you a Healthy Forests Initiative, to open up our more of our forests to loggers, who by cutting down old-growth forests methodically help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forests.

I urge you to pass these measures, for the good of both our environment in the very long term and our economy in the short term. By making clean air compliance easier, power plants, factories, and refineries will save millions of dollars that they would have spent on costly filters and other technology. Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step, and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined. In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about not through endless lawsuits brought by people like Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina or command and control regulations but through voluntary use by polluters of expensive new technology and innovation. Tonight I am proposing $1.2 billion in research funding to be spent over many, many years so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles sometime in the twenty-second century.

A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment separate from and unrelated to my agenda and the proposals I have made, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom so that the first car driven by a child born today could if and only if we somehow run out of oil be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. Join me in paying lip service to this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, but do not lose sight of the importance of oil and the need to drill for it in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, the Rocky Mountains, and on the beaches of Florida and California in order to make our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

[Part II will be forthcoming regardless of whether or not anyone even made it through this.]

:: posted by Joe at 12:33 ::
:: ::


:: Monday, January 27 ::

ON LEADING: Reading Timothy Garton Ash's excellent essay in the New York Review, we are reminded of one of President Bush's favorite slogans during the campaign: "They had their chance. They have not led." With the leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda still at large and the US on the verge of a unilateral, pre-emptive war with Iraq, two things become clear about this administration and its leadership ability. First, when the world has looked to it for leadership, it has failed to do the job. Second, when it has sought support for its agenda, it has failed to rally the community of nations to its cause. This administration has not led.

The Bush administration has squandered the rightful support it received in the aftermath of September 11. It failed to commit itself fully to the pursuit of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Afghanistan has not been fully secured, the terrorist masterminds have not been apprehended, and the administration now seeks to move onto another target. Our relationship with the developed world has been dominated by an unhealthy aversion to friends, and we have become the beacon of justification for extra-judicial detentions and pre-emptive wars in the third world.

At home and abroad pressures are mounting as the administration fails to lead. President Bush has chosen to fight a war and pass the two largest tax-cuts in history at a moment of record-breaking budget deficits and public debt. Something will have to give -- Social Security? Medicare? Homeland Security? Similarly, Colin Powell has all his diplomatic fingers (and several toes) in a dike about to fail under a flood of resentment, hostility and hatred towards America. Some of those feelings are wrong, but some of the criticisms are right -- and the prevailing practice of this president has been to neglect and even stoke both, indiscriminately.

The United States bears the burden of leadership in this world whether its chooses to or not. This administration has shirked and abused that responsibility at every opportunity. There is an increasingly large gap between the ever-greater need for US leadership in global affairs and the depths to which this administration's irresponsible exercise of power diminishes us. They have not led. But their chance is not finished yet. But based on the record so far, those less than confident that this president is equal to the task may be forgiven.

:: posted by Joe at 06:10 ::
:: ::


:: Sunday, January 26 ::

IN PRAISE OF THE WELL-WRITTEN BLOG: Dewey and Corde, old friends meeting up for the first time in years, have taken decidedly different career paths. Corde broke through with an insider's account of the Potsdam conference in the New Yorker, but faded from the scene thereafter. He's presently a college dean. He infrequently writes thoughtful, meandering pieces for Harper's. Dewey, a big-shot columnist on international affairs, criticizes his old friend Corde for still being wrapped up in all the philosophy and poetry they obsessed with as youths. From The Dean's December, by Saul Bellow:

"In the American moral crisis, the first requirement was to experience what was happening and to see what must be seen. The facts were covered from our perception. More than they had been in the past? Yes, because the changes, especially the increase in consciousness -- and also in false consciousness -- was accompanied by a peculiar kind of confusion. The increase in theories and discourse, itself a cause of new strange forms of blindness, the false representations of 'communication,' led to horrible distortions of public consciousness. Therefore the first act of morality was to disinter the reality, retrieve reality, dig it out from the trash, represent it anew as art would represent it. So when Dewey talked about the 'poetry,' pouring scorn on it, he was right insofar as Corde only made 'poetic' gestures or passes, but not insofar as Corde was genuinely inspired. Insofar as he was inspired he had genuine political significance."

:: posted by Joe at 04:34 ::
:: ::


NOW HOW ABOUT A SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK: Howard Dean continues to be shockingly lucid and articulate on the campaign trail. That's all well and good, but he's also got the best policy ideas. From Newsday, via MyDD:
Dean, a doctor, also outlined his plan to expand Medicaid coverage to 18-to-23-year-olds and to change prescription drug patent laws to encourage competition and lower prices. Current laws allow drug companies to extend patents indefinitely, he said.

"The problem is they don't like competition and they pay Congress well to make sure there isn't any," he said
Society's most vulnerable -- economically and medically -- are to be found at both ends of the age spectrum. That we seem to have made a social commitment (albeit a stingy, largely-unfulfilled one) to the old while allowing children and young people to go uninsured and uneducated (or, if educated, statistically likely to graduate with back-breaking debt) makes no sense.

And blah blah yeah yeah prescription drugs. Prescription drugs hardly mean anything when tens of millions can't afford to go the doctor. But he's right on that one, too.

:: posted by Joe at 01:15 ::
:: ::


:: Thursday, January 23 ::

DEMS IN A ROE: Too much word-play in that headline? Probably. (That's the idea.) Anyway, the six declared Democratic candidates for president shared stage this weekend at a pro-choice event celebrating the anniversary of the Roe decision. Watch it here; fast forward for a bit to get to the candidates. Each speaks for about five minutes.

Howard Dean gave the best speech. And that's no devotee approval; we admit that the farewell address to the Vermont legislature was a flop of unpreparedness. But he was by far the most passionate and the most well-received by the audience. Sharpton wins the contest for net gain from his performance. He was surprisingly funny and low-key; he may be more dangerous than we thought.

Ryan Lizza hits all of these points in TNR. He also informs us:
All recent reports from Iowa and New Hampshire say that he is electrifying the party faithful. His campaign has attracted some of the die-hard Democrats that toiled for Bill Bradley in 2000. Eric Hauser, Bradley's former press secretary, has offered to help Dean, and Rick Ridder, a senior adviser to Bradley, is now Dean's campaign manager. It's the same at the grassroots level. One top Democratic strategist notes that the "shock troops of New Hampshire" that worked on the ground for Bradley are now working for Dean.
This is good news. The grassroots will be the biggest single factor in a crowded field. Dean, in a sense, is everything that Bradley couldn't quite be: smart, without being cerebral; complex, without getting bogged down; the idealist's candidate, without the direct challenge to the establishment that Bradley made by taking on a sitting vice president.

If Bradley can almost win New Hampshire, Dean can surely win there. Remember, both parties had their primary on the same day in New Hampshire in 2000. An independent voter had to choose between Bradley and John McCain, even though they'd probably have wanted to vote for both. At that point, McCain and Bradley were increasingly speaking the same language. Indeed, at one of the most surreal campaign events in the history of American politics, they even held a joint rally at one point to emphasize the non-ideology of the reform message. McCain took the larger share on election day, but Bradley pulled in a huge pile of independents, too. With no primary challenge for President Bush on the horizon (unless you count Alan Keyes, who still hasn't withdrawn from the 2000 contest), virtually all of those votes go for Dean.

Even the moderate Republicans? Yes, them too (from the Lizza piece):
On Tuesday night, Dean had another little weapon in tow: Senator Jim Jeffords, a potentially handy sidekick for winning independents in New Hampshire. "He's my man," an excited Jeffords exclaimed.
Dean has on his side the very embodiment of moderate Republicans fed up with Bush.

Lizza does report one cautioning bit of information:
Just as Dean is inheriting the Bradley machine, John Kerry is inheriting the Al Gore operation. "They have the Gore staff of 2004," says Brazile, who, as Gore's campaign manager, ought to know. Gore veterans Jill Alper, Chris Lehane, and Michael Whouley are all on board with Kerry now.
But don't start up your Kerry Inevitability bandwagon just yet. It's too early to set up the Gore/Bradley analogy just yet.

The key difference between a Dean/Kerry contest and the 2000 primary will be that a lot of people had loyalty problems with Bradley that they can't possibly have with Dean. Party regulars had a (probably rightful) sense that Al Gore was entitled to the nomination. He had been a faithful vice president for eight years, weathered the Monica thing, and he and the administration hadn't done anything to merit the fratricide of not nominating him. If the vice-presidency isn't a get-out-of-primary-free card, then what is it? Even in 1968, a year in which to dump anyone remotely connected to the administration if there ever was one, the vice president still got the nod when he wanted it.

Bradley had to make the case against Al Gore; Howard Dean has only to make the case for himself. Unless Kerry gets himself into position comparable to Governor George W. Bush's at the start of the 2000 Republican primary process -- several hundred million dollars, the endorsement of basically every state official and member of Congress, the entire machinery of the party behind him -- it's going to be hard for him to command that kind of loyalty. And if Dean can prevent that from becoming a reality -- by starting as early as he has, by having more time on the ground than Kerry, by scoring some early first- or second-places finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- he's on his way to a very good shot at the nomination.

Of course, all of this leaves out Edwards, Lieberman, and Gephardt. From the speeches we've seen, that's not an entirely bad idea.

:: posted by Joe at 16:44 ::
:: ::


VERY-WELL-THEN OF THE WEEK: Compulsive readers of That Other Blog might have noticed, aside from the pine tree car-freshener aroma, that our timestamp is on Central European Time; that's for GMT +1, or six hours ahead of New York, for those of you scoring at home.

Calling your attention, then, with a single raised eye-brow, to the fact that our last post hit the ether at 1.09 PM Eastern Standard Time -- but making no claim of any causal relationship -- we offer the following from the AP wire:
Conservative Withdraws From AIDS Panel

Filed at 1:26 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Christian activist chosen by the White House for a presidential AIDS advisory panel is withdrawing his name under pressure after characterizing the disease as the ``gay plague,'' along with other anti-homosexual statements.

The administration had chosen Jerry Thacker to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS. He was to be sworn in along with other new commission members next week by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

On Thursday, however, Thacker was sending a letter signaling that he would not accept the appointment, administration officials said.
We at That Other Blog pride ourselves on our economic use of profanity, particularly in headlines. We are pleased that suppressing our usual drunken Coast Guardsman-frequency of expletive use might have played some small role in curing AIDS.

:: posted by Joe at 11:11 ::
:: ::


ARE-YOU-FUCKING-KIDDING-ME OF THE WEEK: Atrios has the goods on the psychopath about to be sworn in over at Health and Human Services as a member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS (the disease otherwise known by this gentleman as the "gay plague"). Here is The Jerry Thacker Story, courtesy of Bob Jones University, his former employer and alma mater:
When he and his wife discovered in 1986 that they had contracted HIV, the most horrible thought was that it was a disease connected with the sin of homosexuality. They didn't want anyone to think they were homosexual because they knew what the Bible said about homosexuality.

The media has programmed us to think a certain way about this sinful lifestyle or, as Mr. Thacker calls it, "deathstyle." Romans 1:16-32 tells how we should think about homosexuality. This passage shows a nation setting itself up for all kinds of bad things to happen, one of those is homosexuality.

Our nation has pushed away the truth, taken the Ten Commandments out of school, prohibited praying at school and athletic functions, and cast God out of public facilities. Many people believe that AIDS is the judgment of God on our nation, but Mr. Thacker believes that homosexuality is the judgment of God on America.
According to the Washington Post, "Thacker's assistant said yesterday he would not speak to reporters until he is sworn in."

:: posted by Joe at 10:09 ::
:: ::


PULLING AWAY: Howard Dean has begun pulling away -- from Al Sharpton, at least. Some good news from the ground in Iowa, specifically the Des Moines Register:
Dean seems to be generating the most sustained enthusiasm. He's a new face who is unencumbered by Washington experiences, images and voting records. I'm told if you want to succeed in Vermont politics, you must master the art of the town meeting, a skill that easily translates into mastering the art of the precinct caucus. As an unemployed politician, he has loads of time to campaign in Iowa.
Dean, Rep. Dick Gephardt, and Sen. John Kerry all spoke in Linn County, Iowa, on Saturday night. (We would link, but reorganizing at c-span.org has led us to distrust in them. Go to the main site, and click on "Road to the White House" at the left. The clip should come up.) ABC's The Note column had one interesting observation about the Saturday speech:
Dean also somehow organized the room, getting his many supporters there to wave glowsticks when he spoke. A small thing, but it shows that, again, those of you underestimating his organizational skills and efforts on the ground in the key states are making an error.
It should be noted that we came across both the Register piece and that bit from ABC by way of Howard Kurtz. (We would link, but we loathe him.)

(No, not as much as we loathe Kim Jong Il. But close.)

:: posted by Joe at 03:08 ::
:: ::


:: Wednesday, January 22 ::

CAUGHT URANIUM-HANDED: We've got the smoking gun: the CIA in October informed the president of nuclear weapons proliferation by -- Pakistan? That's right. The technology of the Islamic Bomb has been given to a vicious madman, the Axis of Evil dictator of -- North Korea? Also right. Iraq-a-wha?

The Seymour Hersh article on the North Korean nuclear weapons program in the 27 January issue of the New Yorker simply must be read. Going through it twice for highlights to put here, we decided that posting half of the piece -- it's that good -- would be space-consuming and anyway steal the thunder of its poignancy. So, a very limited selection (which completely leaves out the primary revelation of the piece):
One American intelligence official who has attended recent White House meetings cautioned against relying on the day-to-day Administration statements that emphasize a quick settlement of the dispute. The public talk of compromise is being matched by much private talk of high-level vindication. "Bush and Cheney want that guy's head"—Kim Jong Il's—"on a platter. Don't be distracted by all this talk about negotiations. There will be negotiations, but they have a plan, and they are going to get this guy after Iraq. He's their version of Hitler."
Interesting. Especially given:
Iraq's military capacity has been vitiated by its defeat in the Gulf War and years of inspections, but North Korea is one of the most militarized nations in the world, with more than forty per cent of its population under arms. Its artillery is especially fearsome: more than ten thousand guns, along with twenty-five hundred rocket launchers capable of launching five hundred thousand shells an hour, are positioned within range of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The Pentagon has estimated that all-out war would result in more than a million military and civilian casualties, including as many as a hundred thousand Americans killed. A Clinton Administration official recalled attending a congressional briefing in the mid-nineties at which Army General Gary Luck, the commander of U.S. forces in Korea, laconically said, "Senator, I could win this one for you—but not right away."
Bummer. With everything suddenly so complicated, let us check in with the master simplifier, our man with the moral vision governing his foreign policy:
President Bush's contempt for the North Korean government is well known, and makes the White House's failure to publicize the C.I.A. report or act on it all the more puzzling. In his State of the Union address in January of last year, Bush cited North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, as part of the "axis of evil." Bob Woodward, in "Bush at War," his book about the Administration's response to September 11th, recalls an interview at the President's Texas ranch in August: " 'I loathe Kim Jong Il!' Bush shouted, waving his finger in the air. 'I've got a visceral reaction to this guy, because he is starving his people.' " Woodward wrote that the President had become so emotional while speaking about Kim Jong Il that "I thought he might jump up."
Behold: Statecraft! Andrew Northrup recently offered his analysis of this particular nuance of our Korea policy:
"I loathe Kim Jong Il!" What are you, two years old? Nobody likes Kim Jong Il, he's a fucking maniac, but what's your point? It is your job, as President, to do a little thinking about things beyond the level of 'starving people is wrong and I hate it,' beyond the level of being the national id. It's your job to actually figure out how to deal with this guy. The whole Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or Mr. Smith Goes to the OK Corral, or whatever it is schtick is getting pretty stale. It worked when the problem was medieval religious fanatic douche bags in Afghanistan who thought that they could deflect bombs with old tires, but when dealing with the real problems of the world, your faux-regular guy bullshit act is not going to cut it. And you got a free ride for a while now because of extenuating circumstances, but if you think the Democrats are still going to be playing patty-cake with you in 2004 you're in for a surprise. If the war in Iraq doesn’t go like a picnic on a cloudless day (and it probably won’t, Sunshine), they’ll kill you with it.
We apologize for those last two excerpts. We may have jumped a little too quickly at the opportunity to quote Andrew at length.

Also, (if it's possible to be taken seriously again) the New Yorker has also put up, from its archive, a dispatch from North Korea by one of the best foreign correspondents of the past decade, Ian Buruma. He visited North Korea immediately following the death of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, in 1994. Read it for the reportage; savor it for the writing. He's amazing.

:: posted by Joe at 03:35 ::
:: ::


:: Monday, January 20 ::

COLORBLIND?: In a classic "Let them eat cake!" moment, President Bush will be seeking to boost funding "for Hispanic-serving institutions and historically black colleges and universities in his 2004 budget, the White House said in a statement on Sunday, on the eve of the Martin Luther King Day holiday," according to an ABC news report (via Interesting Times).

As his administration seeks to dismantle the affirmative action system that has boosted African-American enrollment at the most prestigious universities, at least Mr. Bush is thinking about where all those students might go when they're shut out. They do, after all, have their "own" places. Surely this funding increase will once and for all put the "equal" back into "separate, but equal." This is disgusting.

:: posted by Joe at 09:03 ::
:: ::


:: Saturday, January 18 ::

JESUS, I HOPE HE SAYS THIS IN THE DEBATES: We all know that should Sen. John Kerry be the Democratic nominee, he's going to get slammed with the Massachusetts Liberal label like nobody's business. And having been in the Senate for so long, there will surely be the quadrennial "[candidate for president] voted 257 times to raise your taxes" manipulation of his voting record on complex legislation.

We can also expect any Democratic nominee to be called soft on the issues of war and terrorism (we prefer to identify these issues without using the administration's propagandistic construction, War on Terror, because it requires a timpani introduction and we're a rather low-budget operation). But when it comes down to these most significant aspects of the Bush record, the issues on which the president will no doubt be running, John Kerry has the absolute best line of any of the Democratic candidates:
''I have killed people in war -- personally."
He said that recently to Tucker Carlson, but in reference to the death penalty. (The piece from which it came, in the Times Magazine, is reflective of Carlson's generally smirky, asubstantive conservative political commentary; a good fit on Crossfire, less compelling in print.) But there's no reason that sound bite should be restricted to that issue.

That single sentence simply demolishes any attempt to pin some hippie pacifism to Kerry. It also has the added benefit of contrasting his Vietnam combat experience with Bush's "service" which, though we can't be sure because no one can find the records, was presumably spent securing the condo complex pool from any Charlie in the area of that particular Dallas suburb.

:: posted by Joe at 19:40 ::
:: ::


:: Friday, January 17 ::

SPEAKING OF MCCAIN: Will he leave the GOP in time to wade into the Democratic primary?

Democrats already have a Vietnam war-hero senator named John with an heiress wife in the game -- his last name is Kerry. But surely, of the two barely-conceivable scenarios in which McCain runs for president, being a major party nominee carries a higher chance of success than a third-party/independent bid. Interestingly, the mastermind behind his 2000 campaign, John Weaver, officially left the Republican Party and became a Democrat last year.

Many were disappointed with McCain during his disgustingly effusive good-soldier endorsement of Bush in the 2000 campaign, especially after the way he was treated in South Carolina. But he might have had his eye on the number-two slot at that point or, more likely, a Gore victory and the 2004 nomination.

He has said repeatedly that he "envisions no scenario" in which he would run for president. But that awfully bizarre syntax seems designed to leave the door open. Then again, he could be cynically teasing us in order to stay relevant and hold onto the power he returned to the Senate with after the 2000 primary.

Are we to think he's given up hope to be president? If anything should be respected about McCain, it is his determination. Five and a half years of torture didn't strip him of hope for freedom. But in a less heroic sense, the guy is an egomaniac. He knows he should be president. What would distinguish him among the Democratic primary field is the fact that a lot of other people across the country do, too.

:: posted by Joe at 20:01 ::
:: ::


TAKE JOHN MCCAIN -- PLEASE!: Ever anxious to keep moderates in line, the hard-line, ultraconservative wing of the Republican party has targeted Sen. John McCain. Their contempt for him is nothing new, but their methods are:

The Club for Growth, an anti-tax group that backs conservative Republicans, is urging Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to challenge his party's most noted maverick, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in 2004.

Flake is considering the idea, his spokesman said, but is inclined to run for a third House term. The group said it could raise $500,000 for a Flake for Senate campaign.

The group is unhappy with McCain on several fronts, including his support for campaign finance overhaul and his criticism of President Bush's new tax cut package. McCain's office has called the club a "bagman for the ultra rich." The club also is urging Rep. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), whom it considers soft on tax cuts.

Look for Tom Daschle to be paying another visit to the McCain ranch soon. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) is already halfway out the door. With Specter added to the mix, the Democrats need only two out of three to assume control.

The last time the Republicans achieved unified control of government, it took less than six months for them to squeeze the moderates hard enough to lose it. With the ascendancy of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) to Majority Leader in the House and groups like the Club for Growth targeting incumbent senators, it's not a matter of if but when defections flip the Senate back to the Democrats.

:: posted by Joe at 19:22 ::
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:: Thursday, January 16 ::

LONG-SHOT BY ASSOCIATION?: Has anyone else noticed that the Times, in each article that calls for listing the candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2004, consistently puts Howard Dean's name next to Al Sharpton's? We mentioned something about this earlier this month, but in passing. Since then a disturbing trend has emerged.

Looking at several articles related to the 2004 race in The New York Times recently, one finds that the order in which they list candidates reflects the relative polling position of each candidate. In some cases an article might call for mentioning one or two of the candidates before getting to the list, in which case the sentence will begin, for instance, "In addition to Lieberman, other candidates include ...." But the rest of the pack is sorted by polling weight.

Take the article on Sen. Tom Daschle's decision not to run:

In addition to Mr. Gephardt, the Democrats who have taken formal steps toward running for president include Senate John Kerry of Massachusetts, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, Governor Howard Dean of Vermont and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York.

Why this approach? Two alternatives spring to mind. They might list candidates by the order in which they entered the race. Or they might list them alphabetically. In either case, Howard Dean wouldn't be next to Al Sharpton.

Policies like this one reflect the sorry nature of presidential campaign coverage in mass media. The Times subtly conflates Howard Dean's chances with Al Sharpton's when it cements the results of early polling -- which is essentially a "Do you know who this is?" exercise -- in this way. A paper of its stature and influence (Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan notwithstanding -- indeed, proving the point with their tirelessness) should be less captive to the horse-race mentality. The policy subconsciously reinforces the position of the Indomitable Frontrunner at a point in the campaign where the idea of a frontrunner is as arbitrary as it is laughable.

The people paying attention to the race at this point are few. Anyone reading these articles with interest can spot that the names are sorted according to the preliminary polling they have probably also read about. But the people who read these articles in passing, those with only enough time or interest to consider the "important" candidates, may be influenced. "Well, this Kerry guy must be the one to beat if the Times lists him first." At this nascent stage, these impressions can shape the campaign.

Thankfully, the Washington Post proceeds alphabetically. That approach is equally arbitrary, but in a hands-off, apparent way that doesn't imply assessment of credibility or endorsement.

:: posted by Joe at 12:13 ::
:: ::


:: Wednesday, January 15 ::

BOND -- JULIAN BOND: So Al Sharpton is running for president. He's a demagogue. This has some people worried. The good folks at Etc. have former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile at the center of an effort to recruit former senator and ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois to run for president to head off Sharpton.

Matthew Yglesias acknowledges fears of a Sharpton-related fiasco in the debates -- or worse, at the convention -- and has a strategy:

Moseley-Braun can't solve this problem all by herself, though, to make the plan really work, we need to flood the zone with African-American candidates who can run as "favorite sons" (or daughters) in each region. Maxine Waters! Sheila Jackson-Lee! John Conyers! Everybody.

He's probably right about Moseley-Braun. She may be willing to be part of such a plan (she might also have her eye on the model of moving quickly from failed presidential candidate to Senator-Anointee, perfected by Lamar Alexander and Liddy Dole last election cycle). And so may the others. But this solution to the Sharpton Problem strikes me as exactly the kind cynical condescension Sharpton is talking about when he says that blacks don't have a real champion in this race. The strategy smacks of the "dumb black vote" presumption that tends to dominate discussion by journalists and strategists on both sides.

The idea: Stick a black face out there and they'll vote for it. Thus Candidate Bush, lacking any civil rights agenda, was content to mention Colin Powell for his potential cabinet. Thus the wild speculation in the press about Sharpton taking the South Carolina primary. And thus the "flood the zone" plan -- of course all the blacks will vote for the only black man in the race; let's just get a few more black people in there and it'll dilute his share.

But what, exactly, is the Sharpton Problem? Indeed, some might say there isn't one; let him go out there and fire people up, making them more likely to vote in November.

That's wrong for two reasons. First, anyone that gets fired up by Sharpton tends to end up sitting out the general election (see: his Senate primary loss in 1992, when the Republican went on to win in November despite Bill Clinton carrying New York State by sixteen points; and the race for mayor in 1997, when his primary challenge left a broke and debilitated Ruth Messinger to lose by seventeen points in the general). He's the kid in kickball who, after grounding out, storms off the field declaring that he's not playing anymore.

Sharpton understands and relishes that his is a negative political power; he may not ever win, but he can sure as hell make sure someone else doesn't. Even when he hasn't been a candidate, the Reverend has shown that he would much rather taketh away than giveth. This has the not-so-ancillary effect of showcasing his power. Mark Green learned this lesson in the mayoral election in 2001 (his comments in the Times profile reveal him still a tad on the bitter side).

The second reason not to let Sharpton loose unanswered: Sharpton doesn't fire up blacks nearly as much as he energizes whites and the media to dismiss civil rights and other issues that affect the black community as a sideshow. The "flood the zone" plan may succeed at stopping Sharpton from accumulating delegates, but it won't stop him from discrediting the cause.

A better alternative would be to recruit a viable black candidate. None of those mentioned by Yglesias qualify; they would be a few more creatures of Washington in a primary where half the Senate Democrats are already in, or considering it. None have won a state-wide election. Moseley-Braun served one term in the Senate before being defeated by the less than charismatic Peter Fitzgerald under a cloud of campaign finance irregularities. Having once been better known as the first black woman to be elected to that body, she most recently held the awkward, yet (we guess) prestigious title of Ambassador to New Zealand.

Julian Bond is the ideal candidate. Bond, the Chairman of the Board of the NAACP, can make the case on issues important to blacks convincingly and eloquently. He is the polar opposite of Sharpton integrity-wise. He's also possesses that most prized of commodities among presidential candidates, the compelling biography:

He was a founder, in 1960, while a student at Morehouse College, of the Atlanta student sit-in and anti-segregation organization, and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As SNCC's Communications Director, Bond was active in protests and registration campaigns throughout the South.

Elected in 1965 to the Georgia House of Representatives, Bond was prevented from taking his seat by members who objected to his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was re-elected to his own vacant seat and un-seated again, and seated only after a third election and a unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court.

He was co-chair of a challenge delegation from Georgia to the 1968 Democratic Convention. The challengers were successful in unseating Georgia's regular Democrats, and Bond was nominated for Vice-President, but had to decline because he was too young.

Julian Bond exudes the kind of credibility Sharpton can't buy -- or, in his case, stage. The presence of Bond in the race will discredit Sharpton and the self-promoting hucksterism he calls activism. Sharpton says he wants to bring attention to issues important to black people. A Bond campaign will garner those issues the kind of attention -- and the delegates -- they deserve.

:: posted by Joe at 23:18 ::
:: ::


:: Tuesday, January 14 ::

IT'S THE FORD BRONCO THAT KILLS, NOT O.J.: Since he's famous now, we're going to take issue with another of Johnny Bardine's essays in the hope that we can glean from him some vicarious blogosphere faux-fame. We are jealous and opportunistic.

He criticizes the recent issue-ads being run by environmental groups against SUVs. The ads claim that the gas-guzzling (but fun to drive) vehicles, the ones Americans need to navigate those notoriously unpassable suburban strip-mall parking lots, support terrorism.

Johnny doesn't buy that the oil we get from the Middle East supports terrorism. (Interestingly, I'd like to hear his opinion on Iranian oil vis-a-vis that state's relationship with Hezbollah.) But there's more:

My main point of contention is the obvious logical flaw these ads use as a premise: An SUV runs on gasoline that was probably made from foreign oil. It needs a lot of gas to operate. A regular-sized car also runs on gasoline that was probably made from foreign oil, but it requires a lot less to run. So, if the ad is truthful, both automobiles are supporting terrorism, but the SUV to a larger extent. So then, these public service announcements implicitly purport that it is acceptable to support terrorism a little bit. And that, obviously, is logically inconsistent and morally wrong.

He's wrong. Buying SUVs supports terrorism. But not for the reasons he thinks.

He contrasts his objection to these ads by mentioning the post-September 11 US government-sponsored ads pegging drug use to the support of terrorists. These ads were exploitive and in bad taste, but were essentially accurate in that part of the drug supply in the US comes from organized crime (including terrorists in Central Asia and Latin America). But then again, some drugs come from the hippie with the hydroponics lab in his basement in San Jose. So buying drugs doesn't always support terrorism.

Or does it? Buying drugs perpetuates the drug war, which is the single major issue on which our interactions with, say, Colombia are based. The drug war (and particularly the Bush administration's upping of the military ante in it) perpetuates the failed states and militarism that produce terrorism. In that sense, every single space brownie sustains terrorism by contributing to the presence of a "drug problem" that this administration has chosen to fight with Apache helicopters instead of treatment for addicts. The only sure way to disentangle drugs from terrorism is legalization, which would eliminate the black market and allow the government to regulate supply and control the social harm. And if terrorism was really what fighting the drug war was about -- and not some puritanical cultural crusade -- that is exactly what we'd do.

A similar problem surrounds the SUV issue. It's not that the terrorists are pumping the oil, laughing, with dollar signs (or Saudi riyal signs) where their eyeballs are supposed to be. Our unsustainable dependence on foreign oil is the main issue that dictates our policies in the Middle East. By not tempering this dependence, our foreign policy becomes hostage to the need to promote friendly, oil-whore governments rather than democracy and human rights. It's not the guys pumping the oil who are the terrorists; it's the young men they are failing to educate or, worse, radicalizing in religious schools. The Saudi government didn't hire the hijackers -- it educated them.

Johnny's cute logical wrap-up about it being morally wrong to support terrorism "a little bit" is false. There is still enough oil out there for us to use without these implications if we economize, to say nothing of alternative sources of energy and greater fuel efficiency (which the Bush administration opposes developing in every instance). The oil pumped off the shores of Long Beach, California doesn't support terrorism. Nor Texas, Alaska, Canada, Venezuela, or Norway. (Russia produces a lot of oil for the US, but might be another exception along the lines of Iran as mentioned above; the treatment of civilians by the Russian army in Chechnya probably constitutes "terrorism" by most definitions.)

Nevermind the environment. Anti-SUV people have a point about terrorism. Eliminating the additional dependence on foreign oil that SUVs create would enable us to act with more confidence and principle in our foreign policy. That is the point of the ads, and it is a point the American public should consider when buying a new car.

:: posted by Joe at 06:52 ::
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:: Monday, January 13 ::

PRINCE JOE?: The Sense of Entitlement candidate has officially thrown his hat into the ring. Al Gore's running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), announced his candidacy today. Look for the press to declare him the man to beat as soon as the next couple of polls show him with the highest name-ID in the field.

Lieberman suffers from a variant of the Gephardt Problem: he speaks in platitudes ('Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut declared today that he was running for president to "make the American dream real again,"' from the NYT). But not having been a party leader, he doesn't have as easy an excuse as Gephardt. He also has the same sell-out sheen, but seems to think that the more business-centric (as opposed to labor-centric) amalgamation of special interests he marches for makes him a "moderate."

But this won't stop him from becoming the Front Runner, whose absence grates journalists nearly as much as rational discussion: already on the first day (from Reuters):

Lieberman said he had asked for Gore's support, but did not expect the former vice president to endorse anyone this early in the campaign. ``I would be honored by his support, but I've got to earn it,'' he said.

Any time a candidate say's he's "got to earn" something, it's a sure sign he thinks he deserves it.

Matthew Yglesias thinks it's not a question of if or when, but how Gore endorses:

I think, though, that Gore will have to endorse Lieberman, since it wouldn't make Gore look particularly good to turn on him. The question then becomes whether it's a tepid, reluctant endorsement or a serious one. One's also got to wonder if Bill Clinton will decide to involve himself at some point.

We're trying to think of comparable situations: having shared a losing national ticket, VP candidate runs in the next presidential primary.

Did Carter endorse Mondale in the '84 primary? Carter was still damaged goods then; it's hard to imagine it would have even been a terribly helpful endorsement. (Having been three years old at the time, we offer no useful recollection.) Did Ford endorse Dole in the '96 primary? That doesn't really qualify, because it was twenty years later; Ford wasn't exactly in the game.

We don't know the answer to either of those questions; please comment below if you do. But in both cases the top of the losing ticket had actually been president. We are keen to presume they stayed out of it in the same sense that presidents have generally refrained from criticizing their successors. We can't remember if Bush the Elder campaigned with Dole in '96, either (we're worthless). But one would think Clinton would be expected to stay out of the primary, if not the general election as well. (He probably won't.)

Of course Gore wasn't president. But still, it seems unfair somehow for him to speak up for Lieberman. His position seems comparable to DNC chair; we can imagine him campaigning for the eventual nominee, but would be surprised if he endorses Lieberman explicitly.

And really, why does Gore owe Lieberman anything? Lieberman was dead weight during the recount in 2000 and even caved into GOP agitprop on Meet the Press (military ballots are somehow intrinsically more valid than absentee ballots? Come on, Joe).

It's not like Lieberman wasn't preparing to run for president while waiting for Gore to decide. He was in New Hampshire and Iowa. He was interviewing staff and building a donor network. Indeed, his coyly vocal conditional candidacy made him one of the first names out there.

His "I defer to Al" pledge was essentially self-serving, attempting to create the presumption that if Gore was re-nominated (a likely prospect if he had run) he'd be the number two again. Gore should stay above the fray, if for no other reason than choosing the wrong horse could be fatal. We've got to expect to see Gore in 2008 if the president is re-elected. He's carrying about as much "loser" baggage as he can afford. Endorsing a losing candidate in the primary -- for whatever reason -- won't ease that load.

And Lieberman should lose. He's a reactive candidate; he'll be positioning himself relative to the others in the field (more hawkish, more moralist, more business-friendly). His campaign will be as his record has been: lacking a coherent ideal and proposing no clear agenda. Lieberman perfectly represents certain no-vision Democrats on a slow, opportunistic trickle toward a place with a very coherent ideal and a crystal clear agenda: the Republican Party.

:: posted by Joe at 19:21 ::
:: ::


JOHNNY'S BIG DAY: Johnny Bardine posted some details about the University of Michigan's use of affirmative action in its admissions process. In further disregard of our previous "above the blog noise" proclamation, we'll even note that it caused a bit of a splash at Matthew Yglesias' site (see comments there).

Johnny isn't quite clear about what he wants. Is he complaining about the relative weight of race to the other factors in the admissions process? Or is he rejecting race as having a point value at all? You can't do both. If it's the former, he needs to pick a reasonable number of points for which race should count. But I have an inkling his heart lies with the latter.

His claim that affirmative action "promotes divisiveness" and President Bush's claim that any Democratic refusal to go along with his agenda is "partisan" sets off the precisely same Bullshit Alarm for me. The problem in America isn't isn't "division" of the races; it's relegation of virtually all others races than white.

And don't give me Colin Powell and Condi Rice. Not all blacks are poor, and plenty have had a fair shake -- just like not all whites are born rich or even have a middle-class start. We're speaking necessarily -- and accurately -- about the bulk of two groups that increasingly (thankfully) overlap.

He claims that affirmative action (from here on "AA") "defaults on [its] incepted promise of fairness." Fairness isn't the promise of AA at all. AA is a vehicle to fairness; not fairness itself. Fairness is its end, absolutely, but he fails to acknowledge that the system without AA -- in very concrete, measurable ways -- is "unfair."

When you look at the statistics on race -- from incarceration rates to home-ownership to drug-abuse to the fracture of the family -- nothing could be clearer than the fact that we have not achieved fairness. For the past 400 years the system hasn't been fair. Granted, the last 40 or so have been leaps and bounds more fair than the other 90% of our history on this continent, but we're not there yet.

News Flash: de facto slavery didn't end with the 13th Amendment, and blacks didn't suddenly become a potent political force with the 15th. Racism lingers, economic depravation is a pesky critter to be rid of, and disenfranchisement takes new forms. The system didn't suddenly become "fair."

It's no coincidence that the most passionate critics of AA (which, to be fair, Johnny thankfully doesn't seem to be), the ones who think everybody wakes up in America with the same blue sky over their head and so if they work equally hard should reach equivalent goals, are the same ones who don't give a damn about blacks, or the poor, or their education. It's a case of "I'm free -- why aren't you free?"

Nevermind that the "underqualified" kid from the ghetto had to work thrice as hard to get out of there than the suburban clarinet whiz did at band practice. The faux-indignant accusation that AA is an "insult to all members of all races" is as rank as the rest of this filthy argument. Should Biff take the ethical high road and leave off his application to Columbia the fact that he was Westchester County Football Player of the Week six times? Is Chip's legacy admit to Cornell an insult to children of alumni everywhere? Universities give preference for far less worthy goals (alumni checks in both those cases) than diversity.

Let's make a deal: when the college admissions process becomes something more than an arms race to the top of the US News list, when that sacred process eclipses our judicial system and God's Grace as the place we place our hopes of equality and dreams of justice -- and not a place where universities arbitrarily decide how they want to look racially, play football, and bilk alums -- we'll start reconsidering affirmative action.

:: posted by Joe at 19:03 ::
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:: Sunday, January 12 ::

WHEN JUST ADDING THE LINK WON'T DO: That Other Blog tries to stay out of the bloguments over who said what and the endless blog-to-blog links that terminate at a too-wordy essay making a not-quite-worth-it point. But we stumbled on this blog today, and could not the The Poor Man, written by Andrew Northrup, go by without directing readers to the particular post in which he goes bananas on President Bush. Perfectly written, capturing the Miller/Stewart voice in a way very few others can. Also see the review of the 2004 Democratic field.

:: posted by Joe at 09:06 ::
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:: Saturday, January 11 ::

EASY, THERE: We were planning to praise Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in this space today. He did some good, agreeing to repeal several egregious special-interest provisions anonymously slipped into the Homeland Security bill. (The most despicable of those being blanket immunity for vaccine companies from lawsuits charging that preservatives in those vaccines may cause autism -- even before any of these cases has been resolved.)

But undoing the wrong thing and doing the right thing are not the same. Trent Lott blocked Democratic efforts to remove these provisions before the bill passed. Frist is right to reverse course. But he has not yet laid out in detail his plans for this Congress. The signs of moderation are encouraging, but let's wait and see.

:: posted by Joe at 08:57 ::
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:: Friday, January 10 ::

WORRIED: Note in the previous post the use of ellipses in the first paragraph of the excerpt from the New York Times. That was the first time we at That Other Blog have redacted a portion of a Times article that crossed the line of over-the-top bias.

Not that we disagree entirely with the bias' viewpoint. (We Love You, Amram!) But we do object to the creepily Fox Newsish sentence, rendered here in its entirety, that was shortened in our last post:

'"He went on the offensive tonight, as he has so often throughout his military career in all Israel's wars, accusing Mr. Mitzna of "all sorts of shady links to contractors" and calling the charges against him a "despicable slander" and an attempt "to seize power through lies."' [Emphasis, of course, added.]

The later use of the almost-a-shade-too-colorful verb "growling" was about as far as we were willing to go in this space.

:: posted by Joe at 13:45 ::
:: ::


AT LEAST THEY CAN SKIP FORD: He was elected to win it, but all he did was make it worse. And then the scandal. Ariel Sharon, now officially pulling a Nixon, flipped out at a press conference yesterday:

He went on the offensive tonight, ... accusing Mr. Mitzna of "all sorts of shady links to contractors" and calling the charges against him a "despicable slander" and an attempt "to seize power through lies."

The prime minister was somewhat contradictory, at first saying he had told police that everything to do with his financial arrangements was legal, then professing ignorance about some of the details.

"Have you gone crazy? Have you gone mad?" listeners heard Mr. Sharon growling in exasperated tones before the broadcast was cut off. "People tell tales, they tell lies, all kinds of gossip."

Election authorities cut off the broadcast after determining it to be campaign propaganda, which is banned from broadcast in the immediate run-up to Israeli elections. Lucky for Israelis, the election will be in a little more than two weeks, allowing them a referendum that was painfully out of Americans' reach between the time the Watergate story got analogously bad and November, 1976.

In a different spin on the "If we [x], then the terrorists win" formulation, it will be interesting to see if the Israeli people feel secure enough to throw the bum out. Sharon (like President Bush) has benefited from the rally-round-the-flag effect that terror and violence often produce. Voters who disagree with their leader on domestic issues -- or even dislike how that leader responds to the threat -- put away those opinions in a "time of war". That kind of support can be fleeting, though, based as it is on loyalty to country, not to leader.

By this reckoning, if Israelis prove too insecure to change horses mid-stream -- despite the sleaze, despite their peace-time disagreements on more mundane issues, despite Sharon's glaring failure to stop terrorist attacks or reach a permanent settlement of the conflict and bring peace -- then the terrorists will have won.

:: posted by Joe at 12:28 ::
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AS MUCH AS I CAN LOVE ANOTHER MAN: Hendrick Hertzberg is the most perfect writer of essays alive today. For those unfamiliar, he writes the Comment piece in the New Yorker's Talk of the Town. No other space more consistently shines with lucidity and mastery of the craft.

:: posted by Joe at 10:41 ::
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:: Thursday, January 9 ::

WONDERING: Will the patriotism of this blog be questioned for capitalizing Evildoers?

:: posted by Joe at 08:17 ::
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:: Wednesday, January 8 ::

HE'S WEARING AN ASHCROFT MASK: From the Washington Post on Wednesday:

"A federal appeals court today ruled that the government has properly detained an American-born man captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan without an attorney and has legally declared him an enemy combatant.

"The 54-page ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, who is being held incognito at the Navy brig in Norfolk, has broad implications for the Bush administration's war on terror."

While everyone has seen the hoods they have the Evildoers at Guantanamo wearing, we thought the more pressing constitutional issue might have been that this particular prisoner is being held incommunicado. Tom Jackman of the Post seems virtually alone -- even among the sources he quotes and the judges whose opinion he summarizes -- in identifying Hamdi's fake mustache and glasses as the primary judicial question, rather than his lack of access to a lawyer.

:: posted by Joe at 19:16 ::
:: ::


:: Tuesday, January 7 ::

USE OF "PEJORATIVE" ALERT: Our absolute favorite tone and one of our favorite words, put to use by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on Iraq, to a Foreign Office Conference in London:

"But the price of influence is that we do not leave the US to face the tricky issues alone. By tricky, I mean the ones which people wish weren't there, don't want to deal with, and, if I can put it a little pejoratively, know the US should confront, but want the luxury of criticising them for it."

Besides being cheeky (another favorite), he makes a fair point if applied generally. A credible alternative vision must be the center of any opposition. But he misses the boat on Iraq. Blair argues convincingly that we can't do nothing about Iraq. But at present the UN inspectors are doing something -- at the behest of a unanimous Security Council.

At this point, the question is between letting the inspections process play out and lead where it leads and just going ahead to war on our own timetable. We have passed the point of doing nothing; no one advocates yanking the inspectors and leaving Saddam's citizens and neighbors to their fate.

Blair means to take a dig at the "whiners" in Paris, Stockholm, and Berlin but the accusation has become more stereotype than substance. With inspectors on the ground and the US set to invade no matter what they find (or don't find), the Bush administration and its supporters have to start bearing a heavier argumentative burden. The case for immediate war and the case against doing nothing about Iraq are not the same thing.

:: posted by Joe at 17:47 ::
:: ::


LET'S GO METS: One more digression: New York in the mid- to late-1980s was a Mets town. Let us not forget the days when Torre was in St. Louis and Gooden and the Straw were still functional addicts. Behind the dish was the anti-diva, the workhorse of the NL (catching a league record 2,056 games), Gary Carter. He still holds the major league record for most career putouts at 11,785 and was finally, deservedly, elected to the Hall today. His two-out single in Game 6 against the Red Sox saved the series and helped build the myth that lets Mets fans keep hope alive no matter how bleak things look. His off-the-field integrity allows all sports fans to remember an ideal no matter how much bleach Vince Coleman super-soaks reporters with. And my earnestness and hero-worship just cost me both of my readers.

:: posted by Joe at 14:14 ::
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HOME-STATE TANGENT: Today Rep. Peter King (R-NY) floated the idea of challenging Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in 2004. Nevermind that the Schumer juggernaut of fund-raising and spotlight addiction probably can't be stopped by the likes of King, who, even if nominated, would only receive tepid support from the White House (because he was a McCainiac in 2000) and Gov. Pataki (whose leg King pisses up with enough frequency to derail his career, but not enough to achieve "maverick" credibility). Even without the convention New York would be prime-time in 2004.

Does Pataki challenge Schumer himself? Or will he wait for Hillary in '06, when he will be concluding his third term? There has always been talk of Pataki's national ambition, so maybe he'll just play gracious host to President Bush's renomination and hope for a shot at the dead-Cheney replacement slot. Pataki has that pro-choice/moderate handicap that prevents a lot of Republicans from being credible national-party leaders (see: Christie Todd Whitman in her windowless office at EPA and not at the Naval Observatory mansion as the first woman Vice-President), and so would seem an unlikely choice. But he's very popular in New York, a state that Democrats can't win without.

And what about Rudy? Are we to believe that Giuliani wont's spend even a dime of the largest heap of political capital accumulated in decades? Given Karl Rove's penchant for big-name Senate-candidate recruiting, (see: Sens. Dole of North Carolina and Alexander of Tennessee) and given the former mayor's rather whorish endorsement in virtually every media appearance of everything President Bush does or says, you would expect that he would be their man. But maybe they want to save Rudy to take on Hillary, or maybe Rudy wants to run for governor in 2006 (a position probably far more suited to his temperament).

Let's not forget the present mayor, Michael Bloomberg, whose bank account buys him automatic credibility in any race. (The article on King estimates Schumer's campaign pot at $12 million; Bloomberg is, of course, a billionaire.) He'll probably be too busy with the convention to make any move in '04, and is up for re-election in 2005. But he's one more heavyweight in the Royal Rumble that New York politics will be for the next two cycles.

One underappreciated force in New York politics deserves mention: the Attorney General, Democrat Eliot Spitzer. Very popular among independents and even conservatives for his no-nonsense style, aversion to media attention and general un-Schumer/Clinton traits, he alone split many a Republican ticket this past November as he was elected to his second term. Look for him to move too. (Also, see the TNR piece by Noam Scheiber on Spitzer.)

:: posted by Joe at 12:42 ::
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:: Monday, January 6 ::

THE OBLIGATORY CANDIDATE: Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) has locked up the fuddyduddy vote. The NYT profile leaves us less disgusted with Gephardt than we thought we might be, and certainly not as revolted as we were by Sen. John Edwards. But at the end of the day, Gephardt is damaged goods. His only appeal will be to old-school Democrats who buy his limitless blue-sky talk of programs and expansions (as opposed to centrists, who are in fact Republicans; and the progressives, who are very angry and won't nominate a wallpaper candidate like Gephardt no matter how much he talks their game.)

Gephardt is selling optimism and I'm not buying. He's been the door-to-door guy for House Democrats for eight years and his failure to reach the Speaker's chair suggests that the country hasn't been buying either. When every moron running for Congress runs against "the politicians in Washington" make no mistake: that means Dick Gephardt. Our national subconscious shows us his face when we deride the monolithic "Congress".

He seems to embrace this image at least partly. From the NYT profile: "Emphasizing his experience is an important way for Mr. Gephardt to draw attention to the inexperience of some of his rivals. It counters the call for a fresh face, which Gephardt supporters say could be unwise in wartime." That argument might hold up against John Edwards, but scarcely any other of his opponents. (The only fresher face in the pack than Edwards is Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, who would presumably reply, "I'm a five-term governor, Dick.")

Gephardt apparently feels obliged to run. Even as he seems to recognize his hurdles ("Either the ideas I have, my personality, who I am, what people think I can do, has to come across or it doesn't. I understand the thought, but we overcame that in Iowa in '88. People didn't see me as bland.") he doesn't have the humility to realize that consensus that he should/would run doesn't at all translate into actual, meaningful support. Or leadership, or an agenda, or the driving force of a campaign. He just doesn't have that something bigger, something consistent -- something believable.

:: posted by Joe at 15:58 ::
:: ::


:: Sunday, January 5 ::

TAKE A DEEP BREATH: The last sentence requires a certain lung capacity, but we imagine that you don't do all your reading aloud. So read this paragraph, which shows why we like Digby's blog, silently to yourself:

"Meanwhile, just a little over a year ago we got attacked by terrorists who used low-tech box cutters to destroy Americas most vivid symbols of economic and military power. We got attacked on our own shores and thousands died and the success of that action absolutely guarantees that it won't be the last. For this administration to basically sideline that issue into bullshit "homeland security" with a color coded danger chart and bogus manhunts to pretend they are doing something --- in fact, to exacerbate the danger by provoking all manner of violent and unpredicatable global reactions with their swaggering bullyboy rhetoric --- mainly because they refuse to relinquish their cherished vision of themselves as astride a great global military Colossus, is about as irresponsible a position as I can imagine."

When this post meets its archive fate, to which all posts are doomed, despair not; use the link at left to read Digby and several other recently-added blogs which we won't go so far as to say we "endorse" as much as "enjoy reading" and "think you should read too".

:: posted by Joe at 17:02 ::
:: ::


SHAMELESS HOWARD DEAN PROMOTION: Her doctor fetish is a bit glib, but Ann Patchett makes an interesting point about trust, doctors, and politics in the NYT Magazine today:

"Big businessmen who decide to run for office often succeed with the same plan that the manufacturers of laundry detergent have used for years: if we see it on television often enough, we figure it must be the best product available. What we're left with are incompetent leaders and the sickening realization that political offices can be bought. But imagine this not-impossible scene: a future presidential race in which the Republican, Frist, squared off against the Democrat, Dean. What would we do with two men who held the moral authority of doctors? If the question was who was better suited to run a nation, a surgeon or an internist, we might actually watch the debates.

"There are a lot of issues right now that I would like to hear Frist and Dean discuss. After all, more and more of policy is tied to medicine: AIDS, stem-cell research, health insurance and H.M.O.'s, Medicare, prescription drug benefits, drug use and mental illness. It would be thrilling to have these issues considered as science instead of as politics and morality."

The piece gives far more attention to Frist, but Dean gets one solid paragraph:

"If the thinking is that Frist may have his eye on a higher office in the future, the Democrats could stake an equally strong future on Howard Dean, the governor of Vermont for the last 11 years. He is an internist who has preserved more than a million acres of public lands, cut the state income tax twice, reduced the state debt and redistributed the tax burden more equitably between the rich and the poor. Most impressive, he managed to get through legislation that provides near universal health coverage for everyone in Vermont under 18. With his bid for the Democratic nomination in 2004, you wonder whether he couldn't do as well for the entire country. Even the fact that he lacks campaign financing is oddly comforting. Could it be that the man has been working all these years instead of raising money?"

Dr. Frist as Senate Majority Leader could go either way for Dean. He should start earning mentions like this one, but it's a mixed blessing to be The Other Doctor In Politics. And with Frist saturation once Congress reconvenes, the doctor bit could get old before it does Dean any good in the campaign.

:: posted by Joe at 02:49 ::
:: ::


:: Saturday, January 4 ::

COGENT SENTENCE OF NEXT WEEK AWARD: Because there won't be anything better than this article written in the next week. The following sentence from Jonathan Chait's amazing, amazing New Republic piece on politics vs. policy in the Bush administration requires two sentences of set-up. The last sentence receives the award:

"Bad policies can exist when they have concentrated benefits and diffuse costs. ... Few people have any desire to run long-term deficits in order to provide a large tax cut for the affluent. But the people who stand to gain the most from such tax cuts tend to appreciate them a great deal, and they express their appreciation, among other ways, in the form of political donations that can be used to help convince the majority that the tax cuts are actually aimed at them."

:: posted by Joe at 08:09 ::
:: ::


COGENT SENTENCE OF LAST WEEK AWARD: Since we were away last week and since it was actually published last Spring, this sentence gets retroactive recognition.

The full text is not available online, so our link to it will bring you to the site for "Granta 77: What We Think of America", the issue in which it appeared. (That site does permit access to quite a few short essays on America by foreign writers which should be read immediately. Go there. Now.) Many bookstores keep back issues of Granta and might still have this one; grab it if you see it, ask for it if you don't. Everything in it must be read.

This sentence comes from a longer reportage piece called "Jihadis" by Pankaj Mishra. A writer and a Hindu, he was granted usually wide access to Pakistan. He recounts the role Pakistan played in Afghanistan over the past several decades and analyzes the present situation. The winning sentence describes how international news pages have characterized Islam in recent years and especially since September 11:

"Islam in all its diversity appeared in them as little more than the West's 'other', in the same way communism had once been: the aggressive ideology of an unfree and dangerously deluded people."

:: posted by Joe at 07:43 ::
:: ::


:: Thursday, January 2 ::

LET ME ADD "BIZARRE" AND "EXPLOITIVE": We were skunked by the TNR blog. Despite fairly regular posting here, a persistent flu and the regular procrastination tendency have left a backlog of blogs in various states of draft. Among these was an exasperated reaction to a specific quote by Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) in the Times' profile of him published on 30 December.

Today, checking in on Etc., we discover that they have leapt all over the quote already. So here, from them, are my thoughts:

'As Rick Berke points out in his profile of John Edwards, the knock against the freshman North Carolina senator is that he lacks the gravitas to be president. The upshot, Edwards and his handlers have always maintained, is that his citizen-politician appeal more than makes up for any lack of experience on the national or international scene. But if this quote is any indication of how Edwards plans to play up his ordinary-guy credentials, maybe he's better off sticking with geopolitics:

'"The fact that I see issues through the eyes of regular people is an enormous strength," [Edwards] said in an interview over the weekend. "Look at the way I reacted when I saw those planes going into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The first thing I asked was, 'Where is Elizabeth? Where are my kids?' People wanted to know whether their kids were safe. Washington's answer to that is to rearrange a bunch of government bureaucracies."

'Needless to say, "Look at the way I reacted when I saw those planes going into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon" is a slightly more -- how to put it -- obscenely self-conscious way to begin a sentence than you'd expect from your average citizen.'

:: posted by Joe at 20:07 ::
:: ::


:: Wednesday, January 1 ::

THE EAST SIDE OF POLITICS: In keeping with our Howard Dean fetish, we note that the Vermont Governor moved on up to a new level of media acknowledgment today when paragraphs seven and eight of the article on Sen. Daschle's likely presidential run read:

"The prospective entry of Mr. Daschle would round out a field of Democratic candidates notable for being grounded inside Washington; indeed, inside the halls of Congress. Mr. Daschle would be the fourth Democratic senator running for president in 2004. Another expected candidate is Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, the former House minority leader.

"The only major Democratic candidate who would seem positioned to run the kind of successful outsider campaign run by Bill Clinton, who was governor of Arkansas, and George Bush, who was governor of Texas, is Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont. In addition, the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York is also running for the nomination."

Perhaps the entry of Sen. Daschle will shift Gov. Dean's profile from "dark horse long-shot" to "only viable outsider with executive experience" where it probably should be. Though he should probably not get into a habit of being mentioned that close to Al Sharpton.

:: posted by Joe at 08:08 ::
:: ::


COGENT SENTENCE OF THE WEEK AWARD: Leon Fuerth in today's Times, on Iraq and North Korea:

"And the outcome of the administration's diplomacy is that we are preparing to fight a war with a country that might eventually acquire nuclear weapons, while another country is closing in on the ability to go into mass production."

:: posted by Joe at 07:57 ::
:: ::


DENY, DENY, DENY: There was some blah blah blah in the Times this morning describing how Democrats/liberals/progressives, feeling shut out of the commentariat, are searching for the Rush Limbaugh of liberalism to champion the cause with misinformation and sophistry. Some talk about a cable news answer to Fox News.

While I have no doubt that they will find someone of minimal dignity to beef up the kick-em-in-the-balls wing, the open discussion about it worries me. The premise of the conservative media lies in their accusation of liberal bias and their claim of the "fair and balanced" mantle. People don't want to be told they are watching a carefully-crafted message of the week. We are far more attracted to the indignant outsider, the plain-talking everyman from whose megaphone pours the common sense positions we knew were right before tuning in or reading a newspaper or picking up a book.

This might be impossible for a progressive radio host or cable news channel to pull off. Conservatives in media have an ideological advantage because conservatism is inherently reactionary. They have a tendency towards sweeping, final solutions. Elements of the conservative movement typically stake out the two easiest positions to think of; the knee-jerk policy positions. In foreign policy: a hot-blooded Republican may be an isolationist or an imperialist, but never in between. Domestically: libertarian, or moral crusader in your bedroom. Hannity/O'Reilly/Limbaugh can easily outline these policies in the allotted fifteen seconds with time to spare.

Are progressive positions too complicated to be shrunk to sound bite-size? Probably not. My guess for the liberal equivalent to the conservative "common sense" angle is shame: Tax cuts for the rich? Selfish. Cut people off unemployment? You're taking the food out of their mouths. Shame, and a lot of calling people stupid and/or liars (that's one on which the Republicans won't have a monopoly).

Whoever the new progressive Johnny Six-Pack commentator turns out to be, he/she needs to remember to deny that label. Remember, people want to be told that you deliver the real news. To keep that image up one must be "on" all the time. For example: even when being quoted for a story on the media, still no candor from Sean Hannity: "'It's not a matter of packaging or meetings, it's a matter of ideas,' Mr. Hannity said. 'The public isn't interested in the kind of liberalism that the Democratic party has come to represent.'" The hardest working man in show-business politics.

:: posted by Joe at 06:22 ::
:: ::


INSANITY: I know insane. I have worked with insane. Insane is a friend of mine. And you, Colonel, are not insane. The line may be fine, the one between insanity and evil, but it exists. No more commentary on this one; quotations and the link in fear that anyone might have missed this:

"Russia announced today that it would shut down the mission in Chechnya of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, ending any permanent international monitoring in the republic after the mission's mandate expires tonight.

"Also today, a Russian military court acquitted an army colonel, Yuri D. Budanov, who was accused of murdering an 18-year-old woman in Chechnya nearly three years ago. The move ended a long, contentious trial that was considered a test of the country's willingness to prosecute abuses by the military....

"Closing down the O.S.C.E. mission is part of Russia's strategy to cut off scrutiny of human rights conditions in Chechnya and portray the situation as normalizing," said Elizabeth Andersen, executive director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch.

"Rights advocates in Russia were similarly dismayed over the acquittal of Colonel Budanov, which followed a finding by psychiatrists that he was temporarily insane when he seized Elza Kungayeva from her home, took her to his quarters, cut off her clothes with a knife, beat her and then strangled her before ordering her body hidden....

"The colonel and his lawyers acknowledged that he had killed Ms. Kungayeva but said he did so in an emotional rage, believing that she was a sniper who had killed members of his unit. He had been drinking heavily. Charges that he had also raped her were dropped early on, even though an initial autopsy concluded that she had been raped."

:: posted by Joe at 04:18 ::
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