Saturday, June 30, 2007

Playing Catchup

The NY Times has an article this morning which makes the case that President Bush has zero political capital left. Republicans have abandoned him on a number of issues (e.g. Iraq, immigration) and the American people are done with him:
For a president who once boasted that he had political capital and intended to use it, the back-to-back desertions demonstrated starkly just how little of that capital is left. With the nation turning its attention to who will succeed Mr. Bush — and Republican presidential candidates increasingly distancing themselves from him — even allies say it could become increasingly difficult for the president to assert himself over his party, much less force the Democratic majority in Congress to bend to his will.

Yet, as Arianna Huffington noted months ago (October, 2005), Bush had already lost his 'mojo':
The swaggering victor who just nine months ago was ready to spin his three-percent win into a mandate now can't even get his pal Harriet's nomination out of the starting gate. And odds are very high the Miers fiasco won't be close to the worst news the White House gets this week.

Post Katrina, I think a lot of the American public realized that this guy was not up to the job. President Bush got the benefit of the doubt after 9-11, but when we all saw the failures in New Orleans, it became painfully obvious that this President was completely inept.

However, as the Times article makes clear, the press if finally catching up with the rest of us. The interesting question here is, why? I think one of the biggest reasons is that an outlet like Fox News has warped elite opinion in this country. With its unstated mission of always supporting the President, it has shifted the debate artificially. Consequently, certain positions are left as unresolved (support for Bush policies) in the press discourse, while they have been fully determined by the public.

This wouldn't be as large as a problem if Fox News did not have the ratings they did. While in overall terms their ratings are quite minuscule; in the world of cable news, their ratings are huge. Networks like CNN and MSNBC, recognize this and do their best to peel off some of Fox's viewers. The only way they can accomplish this though, is to embrace the same inflated conservative discourse that Fox does. The end result is a press that is completely out of touch with the American people as the 'elite' opinion makers skew artifically to the right.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Race is no longer an issue- Whooppeee!

The 5 wise men on our Supreme Court have determined that race of students should no longer be considered when assigning schools. A group of parents sued to end the Louisville school districts policy of considering race when assigning students to competitive schools:
Louisville's schools spent 25 years under a court order to eliminate the effects of state-sponsored segregation. After a federal judge freed the Jefferson County, Ky., school board, which encompasses Louisville, from his supervision, the board decided to keep much of the court-ordered plan in place to prevent schools from re-segregating.

The lawyer for the Louisville system called the plan a success story that enjoys broad community support, including among parents of white and black students.

In a 5-4 decision the court found that Louisville's program was unfair to the white students. So, there you have it, everyone is equal now. I think they realized that racism died when Imus was taken off of the air. Unfortunately, some folks didn't get the message:
In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a "whites only" shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn't sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn't care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree.

The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena's black population didn't take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address black students at the school and told them all he could "end their life with a stroke of the pen."

Black students were assaulted at white parties. A white man drew a loaded rifle on three black teens at a local convenience store. (They wrestled it from him and ran away.) Someone tried to burn down the school, and on December 4th, a fight broke out that led to six black students being charged with attempted murder. To his word, the D.A. pushed for maximum charges, which carry sentences of eighty years. Four of the six are being tried as adults (ages 17 & 18) and two are juveniles.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In the Age of the Dinosaurs

Next week, Glenn Beck (the Kansas City Royals of ratings for right-wing pundits) is subbing for Paula Zahn on CNN. As Joe Klein points out, this is just ridiculous. The man has nothing interesting to say, other then the traditional "I am so cool because I am so anti-political correctness", which is equivalent to wearing acid-washed jeans, listening to the Dave Matthews Band or driving a Hummer. In the words of Atrios:
But, Jeebus, what's the obsession with promoting whiny ass titty baby versions of Morton Downey Jr.? I think even cranky white guys who feel like they're the #1 victims of society are tired of listening to whiners like Beck. That era is so over.

I think media outlets like CNN are trying to be cool, like parents try to be cool with their kids. Which, inevitably, comes off as unintentionally hilarious but also kind of sad.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How to Treat a Bully

One of the things that has always puzzled me is the way that liberals react to "people" like Ann Coulter. There is far too much whining involved rather than directly challenging her crap spewing ways. Fortunately, Elizabeth Edwards decided to stand up to her and in the end, Coulter is left mumbling. Good for her.

Monday, June 25, 2007

American High Schoolers Hate America

Some high school students recently gave President Bush a letter asking him to stop the torture of prisoners. You really have to admire them, they were there to be honored by the president and instead dropped this on him:
President Bush was presented with a letter Monday signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to "violations of the human rights" of terror suspects held by the United States.

The White House said Bush had not expected the letter but took a moment to read it and talk with a young woman who handed it to him.


The handwritten letter said the students "believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions."

On the not-so-bright side, I am upset that these students were acting all partisan, from what I understand someone had to get Joe Lieberman his fainting couch, as he had a spell after hearing about this.

Michael Moore hates puppies and such

I have never understood the continued animosity towards Michael Moore. In a sane world, the US media would have apologized to Moore for getting on his case when he was proven right in the end. He would be the first on the speed dial for any number of TV talk shows and celebrated for what he is. A filmmaker who makes compelling films.

However, with this new movie coming out, I think we are in store for an endless amount of hand-wringing about him as the mainstream media will continue to classify him as controversial. Conservatives will scream about how crazy he his and liberals will hem and haw about the absolute veracity of every claim he makes.

Yet in the end, he is just a guy who honestly believes in this country and is doing his best to change it. I do believe that in each of his movies he makes an overarching point that is impossible to ignore and we as film goers are better off for his movies. He is right to suggest that we should not have invaded Iraq, we are a much more violent country than we should be and it is immoral for large corporations to destroy communities that worked so hard to create their wealth. I don't see anything controversial about these claims, yet they will continued to be discussed as such.

...also, when it comes to the war in Iraq, who has a better record? Michael Moore or the Bush Administration? Jus' sayin'.

PBS Misses the Message

I think it is pretty clear that Americans are not enamored with either the Republican party or with conservativism, in general. The president is less popular than herpes and conservatives are quickly abandoning previous policy positions to maintain electability. PBS, however, apparently still believes that what the American public (especially PBS viewers) really wants is more Republican talking points with their political analysis as they have hired Frank Luntz to provide post debate analysis for the upcoming Democratic candidate forum.

I don't get this move, was Tom Delay or Sean Hannity not available? Luntz is great to have around if you want to put a positive spin on global warming or find an appealing word for torture, but he is the last person I want to hear from when it comes to analyzing progressive policies. PBS thinks he is the right guy to turn to and will put asses in the seats. Yet, on PBS's own schedule their biggest draw is Bill Moyers, why not have him provide some insights? He is someone that PBS viewers respect and will draw viewers. Unfortunately, however, the new media paradigm is that if a show is supposed to be political it has to have the token birdbrained conservative. Ugh.

Unadulterated Awesomeness

Yeah, it's Air Supply. You wanna make something of it?

My Adopted Son

I absolutely love this kid. This is awesome:

By the way, this is the back story.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Apparently I am a magnet for this crap

Once again, I have been spammed with one of those ridiculously jingoistic faux-patriotic e-mails from a friend of mine. I am posting it here because it is always useful to see what kind of mindset we as rational people are up against. The scary thing is, the folks that eat this kind of crap up vote and can freely reproduce:
Written by a housewife from New Jersey and sounds like it! This is one ticked off lady.

Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001?

Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania?

Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was "desecrated" when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet?...Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime in Saudi Arabia.

I'll care when these thugs tell the world they are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called "insurgents" in Iraq come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques.

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.

I'll care when the American media stops pretending that their First Amendment liberties are somehow derived from international law instead of the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a brave marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain inf ormation, know this: I don't care.

When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college-hazing incident, rest assured: I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank: I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed "special" food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being "mishandled," you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts: I don't care.

And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled "Koran" and other times "Quran." Well, Jimmy Crack Corn and --you guessed it -- I don't care!!!"

If you agree with this viewpoint, pass this on to all your E-mail friends..

Sooner or later, it'll get to the people responsible for this ridiculous behavior!

If you don't agree, then by all means hit the delete button.

Should you choose the latter, and then please don't complain when more atrocities committed by radical Muslims happen here in our great country!

It's terrifying what these people think is appropriate to do in retaliation for 9-11 and that millions of people agree with that view. It is also scary when you realize that they have no understanding of the Middle East and are pushing for more aggressive actions there. They have absolutely no idea that the terrorists who attacked us on 9-11 are not the same people who live in Iraq. To them, they are all the same. We should be able to torture a suspected insurgent in Baghdad because 19 Saudis and Yemenis attacked us.

They also have no understanding of the history or the geopolitical climate over there (not surprising). The e-mail chastises the Saudi government for their refusal to allow Bibles in the country, yet fails to recognize that the US is a major ally of the brutal regime. They fail to recognize that their own government has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children in the region, for nothing more than simple vanity. Lastly, they have no idea how the desecration of the Koran plays on the Arab Street and that it plays right into the hands of the radical elements there.

By succumbing to their own ignorance, these jingoistic folks play right into the hands of the terrorists and warlords. They foment the type of aggression and fear these radicals need to survive.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Compassionate Conservative

Just when you think this administration cannot get any more ridiculous, there is this:
While the U.S. military searches for a soldier missing in Iraq, kidnapped by insurgents possibly allied with al Qaeda, his wife back home in Massachusetts may be deported by the U.S. government.

Army Spec. Alex Jimenez, who has been missing since his unit was attacked by insurgents in Iraq on May 12, had petitioned for a green card for his wife, Yaderlin Hiraldo, whom he married in 2004.
Her attorney is seeking a hardship waiver, which so far the government won't grant.

What does it take to get a job with the Bush government? Not only do you need to have an IQ under 40, but apparently you must also include kitten killing as a hobby.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This Just Might be Something to Report

After a House investigation, we now find that the White House has been breaking the law with its usage of RNC email addresses. The Presidential Records Act stipulates that all executive correspondence be carried out on government property (email servers, stationary, etc.) and is archived. However, this White House has been blatantly disregarding that law. Here are some of the key findings in the investigation:
  • The number of White House officials given RNC e-mail accounts is higher than previously disclosed.
  • White House officials made extensive use of their RNC e-mail accounts.
  • There has been extensive destruction of the e-mails of White House officials by the RNC.
  • There is evidence that the Office of White House Counsel under Alberto Gonzales may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records.
These findings are pretty damning and I think will lead to some even more surprises. The White House was hiding all of these e-mails for a reason and it would be nice to find out why. Unfortunately, as I cruise the major news websites, this story has yet to break the front page.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Iran and the White House

Glenn Greenwald helps break down the latest NY Times article on the White House and Iran. I suggest reading the whole thing because he does a great job of analyzing the press coverage. I will, however, provide the money quote for the posting:
If this is how the media is going to report on the potential U.S.-Iran war, I'd say the odds of that conflict occuring are quite high.

Sadly, we are going to see the press behave in exactly the same way as they did in the run up to the war in Iraq. They will try to convince the public that they asked the tough questions but in the end, the administration line will be the press's line.

The Coming Narrative

From my local alt. weekly the City Paper, there is an insightful piece on how our failure in Iraq will be portrayed in the future. Essentially, those who opposed the war will become the villains and we'll be blamed for the catastrophe over there:
Whenever American troops start coming home — and for political reasons many will almost certainly start coming back before the 2008 elections — you should get ready to place the blame for losing the Iraq war anywhere but on the fools who started it. And the obvious villain in the Iraq catastrophe is you.

Yes you, you weak-kneed, terrorist-loving, America-hating dilettante.

America's loss in this war is your fault, because you took to the streets and marched against it before it even began, and correctly pointed out that the evidence about weapons of mass destruction was flimsy, and the connection to al-Qaida entirely concocted. We started off with one hand tied behind our backs because you wanted to go to the U.N. and win "legitimacy" for our righteous and groundless invasion...

Make no mistake, when all is said and done, none of the idiots that dragged us into Iraq will be held responsible. In a spellbinding display of mangled logic, the accepted wisdom will be that we lost the war because we did not successfully employ the Tinkerbell strategy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Never Taking Responsibility

Recently on Good Morning America, Michael Moore was being interviewed by anchor-stud Chris Cuomo. During the interview, Moore took ABC and the rest of the mainstream media to task for not asking the tough questions during the run-up to the Iraq War. Cuomo nearly lost it. Here is the video:

As I have said before, the press will never take responsibility for the mess in Iraq and the role they played by laying down. Yet, this is still going on. Just yesterday during the daily press briefing, Tony Snow made the argument that increased violence in Iraq means that we are making progress.

Q Let me follow on that, because I think some American officials have called this an act of desperation. And I'm wondering how this is seen as an act of desperation. Does that mean that the terrorists are so concerned that they're sort of being shut down, and that the surge is so effective that they're now desperate to make a statement?

MR. SNOW: Well, I think, again -- a couple of things. It does fit a pattern that we see throughout the region, which is that when you see things moving towards success, or when you see signs of success, that there are acts of violence. We saw that, certainly -- we've seen that in Lebanon, once again, today, tragically. We also saw it earlier in Lebanon. We have seen it on a number of occasions where, when Israel and the Palestinians seem to be getting close to a deal, there are kidnapings and acts of violence.

What you have seen in the last couple of months -- it's well documented -- is, increasingly, Iraqis are turning against al Qaeda. And that has been one of the sort of heartening developments. You've not only seen it in Anbar Province, but you've seen it elsewhere.

So one of the responses one might expect for al Qaeda at a time like this -- when the Iraqi people are turning against them as foreign fighters, essentially invading the country and trying to commit acts of bloodshed against innocents in order to blow the country apart -- that it would be one of those acts of desperation once again to try to get the Iraqis to fight one another, rather than training their sights on al Qaeda.

By utilizing Snow's logic, we would assume that decreased violence would indicate that things are actually going poorly. In the mind of any sane individual however, this line of reasoning would be forcefully rejected. If the press were really doing their job and asking the tough questions, Snow would have been laughed out of the room. Perhaps, one of the reporters would have said "That is the most ridiculous load of bullshit I have ever heard. Ever." Instead, the follow-up to his response was the following:
Q This could actually be read, then, as a sign of success for the American --
This is exactly what Moore was talking about, rather than exposing the twisted logic and half-truths of the Bush Administration, the media continues to lap up whatever half-assed explanations are being doled out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The American People Hate America

It looks as if the American people are highly partisan. And by partisan, I mean that they overwhelmingly support progressive policy positions. What will we tell Joe Lieberman?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Food for Thought

Here is an interesting graph of presidential popularity from Truman to our current president.

Who is the only president to leave office more popular than when they entered?

Lieberman should leave this kind of thing to the adults

On Sunday's Face the Nation, the increasingly irrelevant Joe Lieberman (DB-CT) continued with his incessant saber rattling. In this addition, he advocates for military action against Iran:
“I think we have to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq,” Lieberman said. Host Bob Schieffer followed-up: “Let’s just stop right there. Because I think you probably made some news here, Senator Lieberman. You’re saying that if the Iranians don’t let up, that the United States should take military action?” “I am,” Lieberman responded.

I am not sure which planet Lieberman lives on, but it certainly isn't ours. Fortunately, Wes Clark has offered a nice smack down:

This kind of rhetoric is irresponsible and only plays into the hands of President Ahmadinejad, and those who seek an excuse for military action. What we need now is full-fledged engagement with Iran. We should be striving to bridge the gulf of almost 30 years of hostility and only when all else fails should there be any consideration of other options. The Iranians are very much aware of US military capabilities. They don't need Joe Lieberman to remind them that we are the militarily dominant power in the world today.

Only someone who never wore the uniform or thought seriously about national security would make threats at this point. What our soldiers need is responsible strategy, not a further escalation of tensions in the region. Senator Lieberman must act more responsibly and tone down his threat machine.

What puzzles me is, why was Lieberman even given the opportunity to talk about this? Is Bob Schieffer some kind of uber practical joker? Does anyone really care what Joe Lieberman thinks? He is a very silly man with silly ideas and it would be best to ignore him. In fact, that would be an awesome practical joke, if everyone in the US just chose to ignore Lieberman, he would get all pouty and complain about how everyone is behaving too partisan towards him. Classic.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Over the weekend, I happened to be shopping in one of those big box stores (I have been unsuccessful in finding an independently owned hardware store in Philly) and I heard a song that I haven't heard in a very long time.

The song took me back to my junior year in high school (1992) when my classmates and I were debating which song would be our 'prom song'. I was a strong advocate for the U2 song 'One', and while, in retrospect, I would admit that it was not the most appropriate song; I stand by my assertion that 'One' was a pretty kick-ass song.

Unfortunately I did not win the argument, instead my classmates picked a song that was supposed to celebrate the non-romantic aspects of prom- A song that would deter dance floor 'make-out sessions'.

So, when prom night came my entire junior class sat in rapt attention as we waited for the dancing to begin. All of us males in our tacky rented tuxedos and the females in their overpriced prom gowns patiently waited for the music to begin. Yet, we kept waiting...and waiting...until we all came to the realization that the DJ was not going to show up. There we were, a mob of amped up hormone machines with no music to dance to- more importantly- no prom song to dance to. What was the song?

This was it.

It doesn't get any more ironic then that.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

They Just Don't Care

A couple of months ago, I made the prediction that Alberto Gonzales would not resign. Tomorrow, we will see how this prediction holds up, as the Senate's vote of no confidence (while legally meaningless) carries a lot of symbolic weight. The latest indications from Tony Snow, however, suggests that I am right:

WALLACE: By the way, real quickly, on the vote of no confidence on Gonzales, if you get a number of Republicans joining in a vote of no confidence, will that shake the President’s determination to keep Gonzales on the job?

SNOW: Not a bit. Purely symbolic vote.

WALLACE: And no effect on the President.

SNOW: No. what you’ve got here is a senate that’s had a great deal of difficulty delivering on any of its promises. Furthermore, it is perfectly obvious that the President has the right to hire and fire people who serve at his pleasure. Nobody found anything untoward in terms of what happened. Therefore, as a consequence, there’s an attempt to pull this thing like a piece of taffy, seeing if there’s any political advantage in it. There’s not. So what we’ll end up having is people burning off a day expressing their opinions and then we’ll have an opportunity to move on.

No matter, how badly this guy has screwed up, the President is not going to let him leave. The clear message from the White House is that they just don't give a rat's ass what Congress or the American people think.

Please Stop Mr. Broder

Will the Washington please put David Broder out of his misery? Maybe send him to New Mexico or Idaho? His column from today is a damn embarrassment as he voices his frustration that Scooter Libby was prosecuted by Patrick Fitzgerald:
Despite the absence of any underlying crime, Fitzgerald filed charges against Libby for denying to the FBI and the grand jury that he had discussed the Wilson case with reporters. Libby was convicted on the testimony of reporters from NBC, the New York Times and Time magazine -- a further provocation to conservatives.

I think they have a point. This whole controversy is a sideshow -- engineered partly by the publicity-seeking former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife and heightened by the hunger in parts of Washington to "get" Rove for something or other.

Like other special prosecutors before him, Fitzgerald got caught up in the excitement of the case and pursued Libby relentlessly, well beyond the time that was reasonable.

You see, this whole unfortunate business was not the fault of the Bush Administration. Instead, Broder blames Wilson and some unnamed evildoers who were out to get Karl Rove. Scooter Libby and the Bush Administration are the victims here. Yet in the very next paragraph, Mr. Broder is forced to admit that Libby broke the law:
Nonetheless, on the fundamental point, Walton and Fitzgerald have it right. Libby let his loyalty to his boss and to the administration cloud his judgment -- and perhaps his memory -- in denying that he was part of the effort to discredit the Wilson pair. Lying to a grand jury is serious business, especially when it is done by a person occupying a high government position where the public trust is at stake.

Contrast his reaction on this matter, to what he had to say with the Clinton impeachment (from Atrios):
One of my favorite columns by Broder was when he got in a high snit when a bunch of history professors signed a letter condemning the Clinton impeachment. The beginning and ending:
When academics decide to become activists, they sometimes bring badly needed wisdom and perspective to raging political debates. But when they plunge in heedlessly, they risk looking ridiculous.

Both sides were on display last week at a hotel ballroom where three noted American historians -- speaking for more than 400 of their profession -- unloaded a broadside condemnation of the impeachment proceedings the House has voted to begin against President Clinton.

The rhetoric of their statement, read by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. of City University of New York, began on a relatively calm note and built to a tantrum.

This tenured trashing of Congress for meeting its responsibility says more about the state of the history profession than about the law of the land.

Class dismissed.
So in the warped mind of David Broder- the Clinton witch hunt, which never resulted in criminal prosecution and wasted millions of tax dollars, was the right thing to do. The investigation into the Bush Administration's actions, which led to the outing of an undercover agent who worked as a specialist in non-conventional weapons, not that big of a deal. God help me.

Why you should care about Tibet

We've all probably seen the 'Save Tibet' bumper stickers. At times, it seems like a cliché of bumper-sticker do-gooders. But, underneath this sentiment is very real substance.

But, why should we care now? Heck, China has occupied Tibet since 1949. Two major reasons:

China's economic rise, and continued integration to the world community, while continuing human rights abuses against the Tibetan people.

Death- An estimated 1.2 million people have died since the Chinese occupation began.

Torture and imprisonment- continue to this day.
  • An Amnesty International 2004 report details the continued imprisonment of over 100 Buddhist Monks/Nuns, trial and execution of Tibetan dissidents without public disclosure of "evidence [for as little as carrying information on the Dali Llama], forced return of Tibetans to China from Nepal.
  • As recently as Sept 2006, Tibetan adults and children fleeing Chinese controlled Tibet were arrested, tortured [and in the cases of adults] killed.
Cultural Genocide- 6,500 monasteries destroyed during the initial "cultural revolution. Additional, but more recent, destruction can be seen here

Yet, China is the upcoming host of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Huh?

Contrast the mission of the Olympics
the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

with the details from the Amnesty International report
The Olympics Countdown: Failing to keep Human Rights Promises
The report finds that though China has made some progress in reforming the death penalty system, its record in other crucial human rights areas has gone downhill -- ironically, sometimes in the name of preparing for the Olympics.

"Flagrant human rights abuses continue in China, and the appalling 're-education through labor' system seems to be flourishing in the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "This is contrary to the Olympic Charter ideal and clearly negates the 'preservation of human dignity' that Beijing, as an Olympic host, has committed to uphold."

As the International Campaign for Tibet points out
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded Beijing the 2008 Olympic Games in 2001, disregarding international criticism of China's human rights record. Both the IOC and the Chinese have argued that the Games will "improve human rights in China" and therefore Tibet. However, as we approach the Games, human rights violations remain systematic and widespread, and China has implemented new restrictions on the media and freedom of information. We believe China and the IOC should be held accountable to the promises they made during Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics.

What can you do? In preparation for the 2008 Olympics, The International Campaign for Tibet is spearheading a campaign to use the Olympics to put pressure on China, Race for Tibet.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I got nothing

Just click here. Un-f-ing-believable.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The glory of the free market

Over at the Time Magazine blog, former Rep. Dick Armey has a lengthy post about the hazards of universal health care. This is one of the stupidest points in his argument:

Look at the healthy components of our health care system. What they have in common is a large measure of independence from government subsidies and price regulation. For example, eye surgery centers, fertility specialists and cosmetic dental surgery. Costs have fallen dramatically, innovation abounds and safety improves.

I am not sure if he realizes this but each of the medical procedures he brings up would be considered ELECTIVE. Those who wish to receive this type of care are, typically, volunteering to undergo the procedure. They have the luxury of shopping around to find the best price, and if they don't find a price that suits them, can opt out of the procedure with no serious consequences.

I suppose our health care system would work better if everyone could afford to sit around and find the best deal. Unfortunately, someone sick with pneumonia or suffering from cancer cannot weigh their options carefully. The type of care they need is immediate and will only worsen if they decide to shop around.

BTW, this man has a Ph.D. in economics. Oy.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Tale of Two Southern Candidates

Yesterday, I wrote about the media love fest for actor Fred Thompson. And today, Media Matters has an interesting piece on the ways the mainstream media ignores certain traits of conservative candidates, which might paint them in an unflattering way. I thought this particular segment on Fred Thompson was interesting:
So when longtime lobbyist and Hollywood actor Fred Thompson -- a man who once rented a red pickup truck in order to campaign in Tennessee as a man of the people -- indicated this week that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination, we knew how the media would describe him: Authentic. Folksy.

Let's back up a moment: Thompson didn't even drive the rented pickup, as The Washington Monthly reported in 1996:

Finishing his talk, Thompson shakes a few hands, then walks out with the rest of the crowd to the red pickup truck he made famous during his 1994 Senate campaign. My friend stands talking with her colleagues as the senator is driven away by a blond, all-American staffer. A few minutes later, my friend gets into her car to head home. As she pulls up to the stop sign at the parking lot exit, rolling up to the intersection is Senator Thompson, now behind the wheel of a sweet silver luxury sedan. He gives my friend a slight nod as he drives past. Turning onto the main road, my friend passes the school's small, side parking area. Lo and behold: There sits the abandoned red pickup, along with the all-American staffer.

The pickup was, literally, a rented prop designed to help a wealthy actor/Washington lobbyist/trial lawyer play the role of salt-of-the-earth populist.

Compare the rather conspicuous silence on this aspect with Fred Thompson with the scorn that has been heaped upon John Edwards for getting an expensive haircut. Both of these men come from the working class, yet John Edwards is the only one called out as a hypocrite. For Thompson, the pundits are willing to turn the other way when any incongruities are revealed. This is eerily reminiscent of Bush's campaigns in both 1999 and 2003, he got the manly man treatment from the press even though he was an east coast elite. While both John Kerry and Al Gore were treated as effete intellectuals.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Really Manly Men

I am royally annoyed by the media hubbub surrounding the entry of actor Fred Thompson into the 2008 presidential race. It is like the last 6 years haven't happened. The major pundits are all a twitter over Thompson's manliness just like they were all a twitter over Bush's masculinity in 1999.

Glenn Greenwald does a great job of breaking this all down in one of his recent blog posts. I especially like this:
The only thing that makes Thompson a "tough guy" is that he pretends to be one; he play-acts as one. There is nothing real about it. But in the same way that George Bush's ranch and fighter pilot costumes (along with his war advocacy) sent media stars swooning over his masculinity and "toughness," the Howard Finemans and Mark Halperins, along with the Bush followers in need of a new authoritarian Leader, are so intensely hungry for this faux masculine power that the illusion, the absurd play-acting, is infinitely more valuable to them than any reality, than any genuine attributes of "toughness."
Like President Bush before him, Thompson has no unique qualifications to be president. He served for a very short time in the Senate and before that his only major governmental role was as a lawyer for the Watergate commission. All this man has done is master the role of acting tough. In that case, why don't we nominate grade school bullies to public office? Better yet, lets hire doms, I mean their whole shtick is to act tough.