Tuesday, April 19, 2005


President Bush Approval Ratings

Disapprove - 51%
Approve- 44%

Congress Approval Ratings

Disapprove- 51%
Approve- 35%

Do you have confidence in George W. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about Social Security, or are you uneasy about his approach?

Confident 25%
Uneasy 70%

(among independents:)
Confident 19%
Uneasy 76%

What is happening is that support for the Republican control of government by independents has fallen away, and that support for the President and Congress among Republicans has softened. That may not mean independent support for Democrats, but it does mean that the honeymoon is over for the one-party state.

Friday, April 15, 2005

An American terrorist

Eric Robert Rudolph is an American terrorist. He set off bombs in public to hurt and kill innocent people in order to make a political point: to "confound, anger and embarrass" the United States government for its legal sanction of abortion. He killed two people, injured at least 120 more and effectively terrorized everyone in three states.
He pleaded guilty to his crimes this week with a hysterical, rambling 11-page manifesto expressing his various and profound hatreds for abortionists, government officials, gays, adherents of global socialism, the Olympics and John Lennon. The closest he came to an apology was an acknowledgment that setting off bombs in public places exposed civilians to risk. "There is no excuse for this, and I accept full responsibility for the consequences of using this dangerous tactic."
This "dangerous tactic," also known as murder, is expressly forbidden by the commandment handed down to Moses on Sinai, a document and a tradition Mr. Rudolph professes to revere.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Gitmo' Better Blues

A detainee at a U.S. military prison alleges that U.S. military guards jumped on his head until he had a stroke that paralyzed his face, nearly drowned him in a toilet and later broke several of his fingers, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court.
The detainee, Mustafa Ait Idr, 34, an Algerian citizen living in Bosnia, has been held at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for three years on suspicion that he plotted to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia. The lawsuit, filed by his attorneys in federal court in Boston, alleges that the government has probably videotaped Idr's beatings and demands that it produce any such tapes and all records of alleged torture and interrogation tactics at the detention facility.

A small victory

Television broadcasters must disclose to viewers the origin of video news releases produced by the government or corporations when the material runs on the public airwaves, the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday.

Chuck Berry pianist Johnnie Johnson dies

By Chris Morris

Johnnie Johnson, the nimble pianist on Chuck Berry's 1950s and '60s classics and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honoree in his own right, died Wednesday in St. Louis of unknown causes. He was 80.

Born in Fairmont, W.Va., in 1924, Johnson began playing piano as a child; he was influenced by such jazzmen as Art Tatum, Earl "Fatha" Hines and Count Basie.
He served in the Marines during World War II and was a member of the Special Services Band. After the war, he played the Chicago clubs in the blues bands of Muddy Waters and Albert King.
In St. Louis in 1952, Johnson began a musical partnership with Berry that ran for two decades. He can be heard on "Maybellene," which became the singer-guitarist's first national hit for Chess Records in 1957.
The pianist's rolling, playful accompaniment, redolent of Basie's influence, ornamented such later teen-savvy Berry hits as "Sweet Little Sixteen," "School Days," "Roll Over Beethoven," "No Particular Place to Go" and "Johnny B. Goode," which was dedicated to Johnson.
Berry and Johnson split in 1973, but they reunited in 1986 for Berry's 60th birthday concert in St. Louis, captured in Taylor Hackford's acerbic documentary "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll." In the early '90s, the pianist recorded a pair of well-received albums for Elektra's American Explorer series.
Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001. In November of that year, he sued Berry for a share of his former bandmate's writing royalties. The suit was ultimately dismissed.
He is survived by his wife, Frances, and 10 children.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Conservative Judge Critical of Republicans

Conservative judge blasts Bush, Congress for role in Schiavo case
By Stephen Henderson

The latest rejection of the Terri Schiavo case by a federal court was accompanied by a stinging rebuke of Congress and President Bush from a seemingly unlikely source: Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr., one of the most conservative jurists on the federal bench.


Yet, in Wednesday's 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to deny a rehearing to Schiavo's parents, Birch went out of his way to castigate Bush and congressional Republicans for acting "in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for governance of a free people - our Constitution."

Birch said he couldn't countenance Congress' attempt to "rob" federal courts of the discretion they're given in the Constitution. Noting that it had become popular among "some members of society, including some members of Congress," to denounce "activist judges," or those who substitute their personal opinions for constitutional imperatives, Birch said lawmakers embarked on their own form of unconstitutional activism.

"This is a judge who, through a political or policy lens, falls pretty squarely in the Scalia/Thomas camp," said law professor and constitutional expert David Garrow, referring to the two most conservative Supreme Court justices. "I think it's a sad commentary that there wasn't a voice like his present in the Congress, because he's saying what a Republican constitutional conservative should be saying."

Birch said Congress stepped into territory reserved for the judiciary when it passed the law directing federal courts to hear Schiavo's case without considering its state court history or traditional barriers to federal review.
The law "robs federal courts of judicial doctrines long-established for the conduct of prudential decision-making," Birch wrote. "Congress chose to overstep constitutional boundaries into the province of the judiciary. Such an Act cannot be countenanced."

Mozambique Aid Concert at Research Club

Saturday, 16 April 2005
University of Glasgow Hetherington Research Club
Benefit Concert for the Students Volunteer Abroad Mozambique project

Money will go to a small group of Glasgow students who will travel to Mozambique and set up a clinic to help AIDS sufferers and to educate about HIV. The students have been trained in health education, Portuguese, and so forth, but they need money to get there and to buy supplies.

Tickets are £5
A full night of live bands and djs.

You can buy them at the Club, at John Smiths Bookshop, or at Monorail in town.

You can also make a donation in the collection tins at the Club.

Philly: internet access for all!

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The city of Philadelphia will become the largest U.S. Internet "hot spot" next year under a plan to offer wireless access at about half the cost charged by commercial operators, city officials said on Thursday.

Last year, officials unveiled a pilot scheme offering users of Wi-Fi-enabled computers access to the Internet within a radius of about a mile of downtown's Love Park. Thursday's announcement expands the network to the city's entire 135-square-mile area, marking a U.S. first.

The "Wireless Philadelphia" network is expected to be up by late summer 2006 and available to computer users paying up to $20 a month. Commercial Wi-Fi services run about $40 monthly.

Bolton Upbraided

A former State Department official Tuesday called John Bolton a “serial abuser” of subordinates who wanted an intelligence analyst sacked for challenging Bolton on Cuba's biological warfare capabilities.

“I came away with the distinct impression that I had just been asked to fire an intelligence analyst for doing his job,” said Carl W. Ford Jr., former head of the State Department's Intelligence and Research Bureau, recalling a February 2002 confrontation with Bolton.

Dean targets 4 'red' states for Dem expansion.

The DNC chairman's latest communique:
Every four years, a few months before the presidential election, the Democratic Party puts staff and resources on the ground in a few battleground states ... and then they're gone. After November the whole operation disappears.
Then, four years later, we do the same thing all over again.
That hasn't worked. And I ran for chairman on a promise to do it another way.
So a few days ago I met with the state party chairs, and we made a decision together. For the first time ever we're going to build for the future by putting staff and resources on the ground early -- starting in 2005, not 2008. The first four states: North Dakota, Missouri, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

State of Unrest

"Accused of inciting a riot and resisting arrest, Mr. Kyne was the first of the 1,806 people arrested in New York last summer during the Republican National Convention to take his case to a jury. But one day after Officer Wohl testified, and before the defense called a single witness, the prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges.

"During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor. A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures. Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints."

Monday, April 11, 2005

McCain not a complete waste of space

Depsite the recent jellification of his much-touted backbone, Senator McCain has at least come out against the proposed 'nuclear option' in the Senate.

"I think that there's a problem with a slippery slope," he said.
In that way, he argued, the precedent could ultimately hurt the GOP by allowing Democrats to bar the filibuster the next time they hold the White House and a majority in the Senate.
"If we don't protect the rights of the minority … if you had a liberal president and a Democrat-controlled Senate, I think that it could do great damage," said McCain...

Make it uncomfortable for companies to support Tom Delay

Companies that have given funds to his PAC include Bacardi, RJ Reynolds, Verizon, and Nissan, American Airlines.

Tell them that their actions will have consequences- the loss of your business!

Go here:

Excellent take from Krugman on health care

Ailing Health Care

Those of us who accuse the administration of inventing a Social Security crisis are often accused, in return, of do-nothingism, of refusing to face up to the nation's problems. I plead not guilty: America does face a real crisis - but it's in health care, not Social Security.
Well-informed business executives agree. A recent survey of chief financial officers at major corporations found that 65 percent regard immediate action on health care costs as "very important." Only 31 percent said the same about Social Security reform.
Rising health care spending isn't primarily the result of medical price inflation. It's primarily a response to innovation: the range of things that medicine can do keeps increasing. For example, Medicare recently started paying for implanted cardiac devices in many patients with heart trouble, now that research has shown them to be highly effective. This is good news, not bad.
So what's the problem? Why not welcome medical progress, and consider its costs money well spent? There are three answers.

First, America's traditional private health insurance system, in which workers get coverage through their employers, is unraveling. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that in 2004 there were at least five million fewer jobs with health insurance than in 2001. And health care costs have become a major burden on those businesses that continue to provide insurance coverage: General Motors now spends about $1,500 on health care for every car it produces.

Second, rising Medicare spending may be a sign of progress, but it still must be paid for - and right now few politicians are willing to talk about the tax increases that will be needed if the program is to make medical advances available to all older Americans.

Finally, the U.S. health care system is wildly inefficient. Americans tend to believe that we have the best health care system in the world. (I've encountered members of the journalistic elite who flatly refuse to believe that France ranks much better on most measures of health care quality than the United States.) But it isn't true. We spend far more per person on health care than any other country - 75 percent more than Canada or France - yet rank near the bottom among industrial countries in indicators from life expectancy to infant mortality.

This last point is, in a way, good news. In the long run, medical progress may force us to make a harsh choice: if we don't want to become a society in which the rich get life-saving medical treatment and the rest of us don't, we'll have to pay much higher taxes. The vast waste in our current system means, however, that effective reform could both improve quality and cut costs, postponing the day of reckoning.

To get effective reform, however, we'll need to shed some preconceptions - in particular, the ideologically driven belief that government is always the problem and market competition is always the solution.

The fact is that in health care, the private sector is often bloated and bureaucratic, while some government agencies - notably the Veterans Administration system - are lean and efficient. In health care, competition and personal choice can and do lead to higher costs and lower quality. The United States has the most privatized, competitive health system in the advanced world; it also has by far the highest costs, and close to the worst results.

Over the next few weeks I'll back up these assertions, and talk about what a workable health care reform might look like, if we can get ideology out of the way.

Gettin' Bolshy With It

Over the past few years, several leftist media outlets have been upbraided for comparing Bush II to Der Fuhrer, most memorably when a moveon.org advertisement competition came up with several often less that professional looking attempts at satire.

But the rise of the neocon Republican movement bears only a passing resemblance to the rise of the Nazis, who started out as a minority party and made use of economic ruin to bring down the much more mainstream ruling party. The Republicans, on the other hand, have had control of Congress for ten years now, and if anything, have been in the position of presiding over a sluggish economy. The Nazis used brutally obstructionist tactics to shut down the government on several occasions, then blamed the President for being feckless.

The neocon Republican movement, on the other hand, is imbued with an annoying self-righteous streak that reminds one of another minority party that managed to take over, somehow.

The Bolsheviks.

A recent Salon article puts the hardcore religious right at 20 percent. Yet somehow, the Republican powers that be seem to answer to this outspoken minority rather than its own larger if more pedestrian moderate base.

But how does a minority group make itself appear to be the majority?

By mischaracterizing the opposition, certainly, but there's something more than that. It's about faith.

How do people like Tom Delay make completely normal and mainstream, often Republican-nominated judges, like those in the Schiavo case, seem as if they are radical extremists?

How do they launch vicious, unAmerican, utterly radical attacks on the checks and balances that are at the heart of our legal system?

What, they want to do away with Senate filibusters? When they already have such a big majority?

They have problems with the very concept of an independent judiciary now? Because they don't cowtow to Congress on all occasions?

And I'm the radical?

Personally, I think they've got a pretty good deal. They've only got 51% of the electorate, and they've got a firm control of the Presidency, both houses of Congress, most federal judges were appointed by Republican presidents, and still its not enough for them?

They are absolutely power mad. They lash out now at anyone who dare speak against them. This is all so against our tradition of government and political speech it's unbelievable.

No one should be independent anymore. Not the judiciary, not the press and not academia. Anyone who disagrees or voices unpopular opinions must be silenced and punished.

Where have I heard all this before? A power-mad, self-righteous minority without a true majority, who uses misinformation and a false sense of morality to weasle its way into power.


How far can they go? How far is too far?

A one-party state?
A national religion?
A media controlled by the government?

Suddenly, these inherently unAmerican things seem possible, and you know who to thank for this unbelievable turn of events.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Keep at it Delay

Tom Delay and John Cornyn think the judiciary (most of whom were appointed by Republican presidents) are liberal activists, despite the fact that the judges in the tragic Schiavo case were simply upholding precedent, and reflecting the wishes of most Americans for the government, especially the federal government, to stay out of private family matters.

Yes, it is Delay and Cornyn who are the radicals.

And now they are seeking an expanded power for Congress to keep judges on a short leash. But even the President is distancing himself from this effort, at least publicly, and and talking ubout how important checks and balances are.

Excuse me while I smirk.

Do as I say, not as I do.

In any event, the President may have, for once, been looking at the polls, and with 41% of Republicans saying they lost respect for Congress over the Schiavo case, maybe Delay should too.

But that's the beauty about idealogues and demagogues- they always end up with enough rope to hang themselves on.

So, the more the Delays and the Cornyns in this world rant and rave, the closer the Great Republican Consensus (of old-school libertarians and the social conservative white, rural, religious working class) gets to unravelling.

Somebody make some popcorn.


Do you think the Republican Party is trying to use the federal government to interfere with the private lives of most Americans?

Yes 55%
No 40%

When it comes to social and moral issues facing the country, do you think that the federal government should generally be more active or less active?

Less 54%
More 35%

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the Terri Schiavo case?

Disapprove 53%
Approve 34%
Unsure 13%

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?

Disapprove 54%
Approve 43%

All in all, do you think it was worth going to war in Iraq, or not?

Not worth it 53%
Worth it 45%

Do you think the Bush Administration deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or not?

Yes, misled 50%
No, did not mislead 48%

Overall, do you approve, disapprove or have mixed feelings about the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

Disapprove 54%
Approve 44%

Overall, do you approve, disapprove or have mixed feelings about the way Congress is handling its job?

Disapprove 58%
Approve 37%

Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction, or are they off on the wrong track?

Right 38%
Wrong 56%

Source: www.pollingreport.com

Friday, April 08, 2005

Hold On St Christopher (more on theocracy)

This from Republican Christopher Shays, a Connecticut U.S. Representative -

"This Republican party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy."

If the Wall Street Journal is saying it...

Some choice cuts:
'Almost three months into President Bush's second term, a raft of economic and social issues -- Social Security, immigration, gay marriage and the recent national debate over Terri Schiavo -- is splintering the Republican base.'

'One-third of Republicans say Democrats in Congress should prevent Mr. Bush and party leaders from "going too far in pushing their agenda,"'

'41% oppose eliminating filibusters against Mr. Bush's judicial nominees'

'About 18% of Republicans say they lost respect for Mr. Bush on the [Schiavo] issue and 41% lost respect for Congress.'

'Nearly two-thirds of Republicans say Congress shouldn't pass legislation affecting families in cases such as Ms. Schiavo's, though some Republicans on Capitol Hill aim to do just that. By 50%-37%, Republicans say the federal government should be "less active" on social and moral issues'

'Even on tax cuts, Mr. Bush's signature first-term economic initiative, one in four Republicans now says tax cuts have "not been worth it" because they have increased the federal budget deficit and have led to reductions in government programs. '
Hmmm... is this true? Are conservatives utterly dismissive of everything in the supposedly liberal mainstream media, yet utterly credulous of everything spouted by Fox and Rush?

See this from the Digby blog:

"Something happened during the Schiavo circus, I think, and it was something significant. But it wasn't that the nation saw that politicians were all a bunch of craven opportunists. They already knew that. It was that the Republican professional class, the libertarians and some common sense types saw FOX News and talk radio as being full of shit for the first time. I have nothing but a handful of anecdotes to back that up, but I think Schiavo may turn out to be the first big tear in the right wing matrix.

For instance, a conservative doctor of my acquaintance was stunned by the Schiavo matter. This man watches nothing but Fox news and could not believe the anti-intellectual religiosity of their coverage. This is a matter that he knows intimately and he could see clearly that the coverage wasn't "fair and balanced." Indeed, it wasn't true. It's as if a veil fell from his eyes.

My conservative Rush loving neighbor was heard complaining the his hero didn't know what he was talking about on the Schiavo case. That is a first. This guy is a true believer --- who also has a very sick wife.

My nurse sister-in-law (also a born again Christian and avid FOX watcher) insisted that all the news be turned off in the house because she couldn't stand the exploitation of the patient or the sideshow outside that hospice. She's very depressed about all this.

See, the right isn't like us. They think that the so called liberal media is irretrievably biased but believe what they see, read and hear on their own media. We on the left, on the other hand, have no faith in any mainstream media, really, or any alternative media either for that matter. We have developed the habit of culling from various sources and analyzing the information ourselves as best we can. Even then we are very skeptical. Nothing that the media could do would particularly shock or disappoint us. No so with the other side. A fair number of them are actually hurt and bewildered by what they saw in the Schiavo matter."

Comments anyone?
Is this the beginning of the end of the honeymoon for Fox?

Don't believe people like Trent Lott are extremist theocrats?

take a look at this bill he is co-sponsoring...

"The Constitution Restoration Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal judicial code to prohibit the U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal district courts from exercising jurisdiction over any matter in which relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government or an officer or agent of such government concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sound timely? apropos? germaine? It's from 1964

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers...

Labor Intensive

Last month, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that represents farm workers in southern Florida, announced that it was ending a four-year boycott of Taco Bell. The most remarkable thing about the announcement was the reason behind it: Taco Bell had acceded to all of the coalition's demands.

inspiring words for us all Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The British Kind of Republican

A leading Republican group, galvanized by popular unease at the wedding of Prince Charles to his longtime lover Camilla Parker Bowles, launched a campaign on Wednesday to abolish the British monarchy.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

UK society of pill paupers

"There is reason to fear that the industry has positively nurtured anxieties about ill-health," said the committee. It is alleged that the industry was driven by pressure from its investors and the influence of its marketing force and advertising agencies, rather than its scientists.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Link to column on media ownership

The media organizations in charge of vetting our images of war have become fewer and bigger — and the news more uniform and gung ho. Six huge corporations now control the major U.S. media: Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (FOX, HarperCollins, New York Post, Weekly Standard, TV Guide, DirecTV and 35 TV stations), General Electric (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, Bravo, Universal Pictures and 28 TV stations), Time Warner (AOL, CNN, Warner Bros., Time and its 130-plus magazines), Disney (ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN, 10 TV and 72 radio stations), Viacom (CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster and 183 U.S. radio stations), and Bertelsmann (Random House and its more than 120 imprints worldwide, and Gruner + Jahr and its more than 110 magazines in 10 countries).

Montana Condemns Patriot Act

Montana lawmakers overwhelmingly passed what its sponsor called the nation's most strongly worded criticism of the federal Patriot Act on Friday, uniting politicians of all stripes.
The resolution, which already galloped through the Senate and passed the House 88-12 Friday, must survive a final vote before it officially passes.
Montana isn't the first state that passed a resolution, but this resolution is the strongest statement against the constitutional violations of the Patriot Act of any state and almost every city or county.
Senate Joint Resolution 19, sponsored by Sen. Jim Elliott, D-Trout Creek, says that while the 2005 Legislature supports the federal government's fight against terrorism, the so-called Patriot Act of 2001 granted authorities sweeping powers that violate citizens' rights enshrined in both the U.S. and Montanan constitutions.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Texas Enacts Leviticus as State Law

Texas governor Rick Perry today signed into law the entirety of the Bible’s Book of Leviticus after it passed both houses of the legislature by more than two-thirds majorities. Meanwhile, Congressman Tom DeLay forced a mandatory kneel-down prayer meeting in the U.S. Congress to give thanks for this first enactment of Leviticus. The book is being incorporated into legislation in fourteen states nationwide, and legislatures have been racing to see who can make it law first.
Immediately after the signing, the Texas governor privately removed and then publicly burned the cotton-polyester leisure suit he had worn to the ceremony. It was replaced with an all-polyester leisure suit.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Take a Trip to the Magical Principality of Sealand

'The history of Sealand is a story of a struggle for liberty. Sealand was founded on the principle that any group of people dissatisfied with the oppressive laws and restrictions of existing nation states may declare independence in any place not claimed to be under the jurisdiction of another sovereign entity.'

Wow - sounds pretty lofty.

Now, check out the website of Sealand's only registered company:

'HavenCo has been providing services since May 2000 and is fully operational, offering the world's most secure managed servers in the world's only true free market environment, the Principality of Sealand.'

Now, for a beautiful view of the rolling vistas of Sealand, go...

I'm sure you'll be disappointed to learn that the 'application list for visas is for the time being closed'.

After that, you may wish to explore the even more elusive Digital Territory of Elgaland-Vargaland. Bon voyage!

Taking Dictation...

"No people ever recognize their dictator in advance. He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will. ... When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. And nobody will ever say 'Heil' to him, nor will they call him 'Fuhrer' or 'Duce.' But they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of 'O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!'"
-- Dorothy Thompson, 1935

Baghdad, we have a problem...

But the successor to oil-for-food created under the occupation, called the Development Fund for Iraq, could involve billions of potentially misused dollars. On Jan. 30, the CPA's (Coalition Provisional Authority) own inspector general, Stuart Bowen, concluded that occupation authorities accounted poorly for $8.8 billion in these Iraqi funds.

(Molly Ivins)