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QUOTE  Hastert and Boehner need to get on the same page or Republican troubles will continue to mount.
- The Hill, via Mark Kleiman
The simplest way to understand Republicans is to use the quick rule of thumb that
whatever they criticize Democrats for is what they are doing.
- Digby, via Avedon
 QUOTE
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I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat! Steve Bates,
The Yellow Doggerel Democrat
POLITICAL GRAVITY -- POLITICAL LEVITY -- VERSE AND WORSE
I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat!

DogBloggerel
for October 2006

 


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One Big Thing

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” - Archilochus. Sometimes this line is quoted as "The fox knows many tricks; the hedgehog one good one," which makes more sense to me.

I'd love to know one big thing, but my attempts to do so over the course of my life have not been particularly successful. I have to content myself with knowing many things, some of them pretty well, some not so well. Well, why should I not be the fox... it's more closely related to the yellow dog anyway. Perhaps this explains my propensity to post "miscellany" every week or two, linking to people who know one big thing (or occasionally no thing at all). Here we go again...

  • Unreported right-wing terrorist plot in Britain? Al-Muhajabah reports on the finding of "the largest haul of chemical explosives ever found at a residence in the country, a rocket launcher, and 'some kind of master plan' to use these weapons." If this is for real, why hasn't more been reported about it? Al-Muhajabah conjectures that it is because the alleged would-be terrorists are right-wing white British men, and wonders what the reporting would be like if the terrorist wannabes had been Muslim.

  • 600,000 Iraqi civilian dead? So says a report in The Lancet by a team of Iraqi and American public health professionals at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; that's the approximate number they say died beyond the number that would have died in a comparable time period before the American invasion. (For those who don't know, trust me: Johns Hopkins is a big name in public health.) The margin of error is, of course, huge; the actual number, according to the researchers, could be anywhere in the range "426,369 to 793,663." Of course there are critics of the study, and not all of them are right-wing nut-jobs who began screaming before the pixels had stopped jittering on their displays. But as more than one blogger has pointed out, once the Iraqi WMD claim was debunked, the reason most often cited by Bush for America's staying in Iraq is the well-being of the Iraqi people. If that is so, how many dead Iraqi civilians are too many? And how many more must die before Bush's bloodlust need to "help" the Iraqi people is satisfied?

  • Scott Horton, whose posts at Balkinization are always insightful if long, writes a post titled "When Lawyers Are War Criminals," about the Nuremberg Tribunals, Helmuth von Moltke, United States v. Altstoetter, and of course the Bush administration, Alberto Gonzales, Hamdan, the Military Commissions Act, and Bush's "program" of "extraordinary procedures." Apparently, this post was adapted from a paper presented at a conference, but as long and involved as it may be, it is well worth your time to read.

Next time: one big thing. Uh... probably not.

Steve
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John McCain Is A Lying Bastard

Who said John McCain was a moderate, or anything but another self-serving GOP liar:

"I would remind Senator Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush administration policies that the framework agreement her husband's administration negotiated was a failure," McCain said in a speech near Detroit, where he was campaigning for a Republican Senate candidate. "Every single time the Clinton administration warned the Koreans not to do something -- not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor -- they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton administration with further talks."

If I wanted to be polite, I'd say that McCain is "factually challenged." But I am not the least bit inclined to be polite in the face of a baldfaced, self-serving lie.

Josh Marshall has answered the lie. Indeed, he has answered it so well that there is no serious possibility that McCain is not a willful liar who could not even remotely be trusted to be President. I rarely quote this much of another blogger's post, but it is important to shove this back down McCain's lying throat as quickly as possible. Marshall:

Some basic facts.

The 1994 crisis came about because the North Koreans were producing weapons-grade plutonium. Under the Agreed Framework, they agreed to shutter the plutonium production facility and put the already produced plutonium under international oversight.

In return, the US promised aide [sic], help building lightwater reactors (which don't help with bombs) and diplomatic normalization.

That agreement kept the plutonium operation on ice until the end of 2002.

President Bush came to office wanting to pull out of the agreement and did so when evidence surfaced suggesting that the North Koreans were secretly trying to enrich uranium (a separate path to the bomb).

The bomb that went off yesterday was made with plutonium, the same stuff that was off-limits from 1994-2002. In all likelihood some of the same stuff that was on ice from 1994-2002.

     ...

Good ever-loving grief. How long is the warranty on Whipping Boy Clinton? Is there ever a point at which Bush must take responsibility for anything he did, or anything that happened on his watch? Ever? Marshall again:

So Clinton strikes deal to keep plutonium out of the North Koreans' hands. The deal keeps the plutonium out of reach for the last six years of Clinton's term and the first two of Bush's. Bush pulls out of the deal. Four years later a plutonium bomb explodes.

Clinton's fault, right?

Yes, Clinton's fault... if you're a lying bastard like John McCain.

Marshall wraps it up for us (all emphasis in this post is mine):

There's certainly an argument to be made that you don't make agreements with parties you don't trust, like the North Koreans. And perhaps President Bush would have had some leg to stand on if he'd pulled out of the Agreed Framework and replaced it with something better -- either force or a better agreement. But he didn't. He just did nothing for four years. Now we have plutonium, probably uranium and actual bombs. And according to McCain, it's all Bill Clinton's fault.

Bill Clinton's fault. Yeah, right. Damn the lying bastard McCain. Damn him.

Steve
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Middle Earth Diet And Alzheimer's

Middle Earth diet? It never sounded to me as if the way hobbits ate was very conducive to long life and good health. But unlike their Middle Earth diet, the much-ballyhooed Mediterranean Diet appears to have an actual protective effect against Alzheimer's disease, reducing one's odds of getting that terrible disease by a very large percentage, according to a study done at Columbia University Medical Center.

This is good news for me and for most people who eat a reasonably healthful diet of "fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, olive oil and fish, and small amounts of red meat and dairy products." Well, OK; I'll skip the fish and meat, but otherwise, that pretty much describes my diet. I certainly hope this improves my chances of dying of something else other than Alzheimer's. My dear departed Mother's exit via Alzheimer's was one of the most heartbreaking deaths I could have imagined; I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Any reasonable thing that can help us all avoid that fate is worthy of celebration. Somehow, I don't think I'll celebrate with a thick, well-marbled steak!


If I seem both self-preoccupied and obsessed with food today, blame the weather here. This is the second gloomy, overcast, somewhat rainy day in a row, and there's no doubt it has an effect on one's state of mind. How do those of you who live in wintry climes bear such gloom for months at a time? This walk at sunset on Sunday is the last glimpse I had of real sunshine:



Sigh...

Steve
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Lettuce Prey

Are we to be the victims of lettuce next?

NYT:

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 9 — It is, in scope and severity, a relatively minor recall: about 8,500 cartons of lettuce, which may or may not have come into contact with irrigation water contaminated with E. coli bacteria. No one has gotten sick, the lettuce company involved emphasized, adding that the move was precautionary.

But for farmers in the Salinas Valley of California, already reeling from last month’s deadly E. coli outbreak in spinach, the timing could not have been worse.

“It clearly has the potential to set back our effort to regain consumer confidence,” said Bob Perkins, the executive director of the farm bureau in Monterey County, one of three counties to which the contaminated spinach was linked. “Right now, I don’t know how the story is playing out with the general public, whether it’s an example of another problem with the industry or it’s an example of how the system works.”

The voluntary recall of the lettuce, announced Sunday by the Nunes Company, based in Salinas, involved about 8,500 cartons of green leaf sold under the Foxy label. Tom Nunes Jr., the company’s president, said Monday that only 250 cartons could have reached consumers and that those were believed to be in one of seven Western states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon or Washington.

The recall was decided on, Mr. Nunes said, after a test of reservoir water at a single Salinas Valley farm that supplies the Nunes Company found “a dangerous concentration of generic E. coli.” But he said there was no evidence yet that it was the potentially lethal strain, E. coli O157:H7, that contaminated spinach last month, causing three deaths and sickening nearly 200.

     ...

Generic E. coli? Good grief. Humankind has coexisted with E. coli of one sort or another since time out of mind. Unless it is shown that the variety in this instance is the deadly kind, I intend to continue eating lettuce. Forgive me for not panicking. There are plenty of other things more worthy of panic these days.

Steve
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Hackses Of Evil

Oh, crap: North Korea says it has exploded a nuclear weapon. in a presumably underground test. It may even be true... South Korea reported detecting seismic activity at the reported time of the test. Is it for real? We'll know soon enough.

(UPDATE: via AMERICAblog, in turn via ellroon, we learn that a site called ArmsControlWonk... which is unavailable at the moment, perhaps having reached its bandwidth limit... has done the math, and says the test was probably "a dud." One can hope.)

(SECOND UPDATE: Kevin Drum has a friend with some expertise... a geology professor at Yale who has analyzed seismic results of nuclear devices before... who says the reported strength is "mighty small for a crude nuke." Nonnuclear bluff, failed nuke or inaccurate measurement? Take your choice. You may be sure that George W. Bush will choose "none of the above" if it suits his domestic political purposes.)

Nukes or not, in the short term, this has mainly political and financial implications. If North Korea had nuclear capabilities and delivery capabilities, and had succeeded in combining the two, we would not have to wonder about it... they would have used their weapon already. But it almost doesn't matter if it's real: in addition to making much of Asia (along with its markets) very nervous, it pits two diplomatically incompetent madmen, two evil hacks, Kim Jong Il and George W. Bush, against each other.

This is not Karl Rove's promised October surprise. I don't for a moment believe Rove has the power to influence North Korea's timing of the alleged test, and even if he could, I'm not sure he'd see the advantage to Bush... I'm not clear that I see it myself. But I wonder how former Bush speechwriter David Frum feels about his infamous "axis of evil" phrase now. Would the Asian madman have felt compelled to press forward with nuclear weapons had not the American madman listed his nation as being among the "axis of evil," and then gone on to attack, unprovoked, the first-named member of that axis?

There seem to be two conflicting schools of thought on the U.S. political consequences of the alleged test. Here's Glenn Kessler of the WaPo:

North Korea's apparent nuclear test last night may well be regarded as a failure of the Bush administration's nuclear nonproliferation policy.

Since George W. Bush became president, North Korea has restarted its nuclear reactor and increased its stock of weapons-grade plutonium, so it may now have enough for 10 or 11 weapons, compared with one or two when Bush took office.

North Korea's test could also unleash a nuclear arms race in Asia, with Japan and South Korea feeling pressure to build nuclear weapons for defensive reasons.

Yet a number of senior U.S. officials have said privately that they would welcome a North Korean test, regarding it as a clarifying event that would forever end the debate within the Bush administration about whether to solve the problem through diplomacy or through tough actions designed to destabilize North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's grip on power.

     ...

(Emphasis mine.)

So Cheney, Rumsfeld et al see this as great news, perhaps even as an opportunity? Having botched Iraq, having come close to pursuing another hack job against Iran, now they want to wreak revenge on Kim Jong Il? If so, that is yet more evidence, not only that they are crazy beyond what even I imagined, not only that they are incompetent at international relations, but also that they aren't even well-intended: they simply cannot be trusted to exercise their power to the benefit of the United States.

Steve
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Crafting A Narrative: GOP Betrayal Of Trust

Swopa, whom I often read but far too seldom quote, writes another in his series about "the language of a Democratic realignment," this time focusing on crafting a Democratic narrative into which all the various events of the past five years that have so infuriated all of us on this side of the aisle can fit. Swopa proposes a theme for that narrative: betrayal of trust.

Most recently, Foley's outrageous pursuit of sex with pages who, minors or otherwise, were demonstrably nonconsenting, and Hastert's baldfaced cover-up of Foley's unacceptable behavior for at least months and possibly years, is neither more nor less than another example of the fact that the current Republican leadership cannot be trusted in the most fundamental elements of governance.

Perhaps the best-known, and arguably but not necessarily the worst example, is Bush's and other neocons' lies to the American people and the world to persuade us to accept the invasion of Iraq. Hey, Americans, how do you feel about those unrepentantly delivered lies to us and to the world? Bush and company cannot even be trusted to take us to war for honest motives.

The administration's response to Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans, in itself unacceptable in its incompetency, is aggravated by attempts to use the catastrophe as an opportunity to steer lucrative contracts to GOP campaign contributors, whether or not they were best qualified to perform the work and whether or not there were local businesses qualified to do so, is another betrayal of trust... the legitimately felt trust people have that their government will at least attempt a good-faith effort in the face of an overwhelming disaster. That trust, too, was betrayed by Bush, his ill-chosen administration and his Congress.

And don't even get me started about the Give Bush the Powers of Stalin Act (a.k.a. the MCA). That Congress would accede to yet another assertion of alleged Executive power nowhere visible in the Constitution... show me where that revered document talks about the "unitary" Executive... is another outrage typical of the GOP, the party that has utterly betrayed our trust that the Executive will respect the Constitution, and that Congress will check the Executive when it is out of line. This is far beyond mere partisanship: other Republican presidents have, albeit reluctantly (as with all presidents until Bush), respected their Constitutional limits... but not Bush. He, and the Republican Congress, have betrayed our trust.

As always, Swopa is as organized in his blog posts as I am in crafting good code when I am working. He has four points we should attend to; please read them on his site. You will be well rewarded for the time you spend reading his post.

Thanks to Bryan of Why Now? for alerting me to Swopa's post.


Readers: if you're here via Crooks and Liars, welcome! Thanks to John for linking me; I finally got around to what I should have done a year ago... namely, adding C&L to the blogroll. Look around, folks; the YDD is a quirky, one-man effort, and there's a lot of variety here. Once in a while, there's even a bit of doggerel. If you don't like one post, try another.

Steve
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They Have The 'Ron' In Common

Another bunch of links from the Ch'ron'icle:

  • Chevron to lease old Enron Building - Let's hope they have nothing in common but the "ron" in the name. I wonder if the building is filled with ghosts of dead employee retirement plans.

  • Mars itches - What a marvelous Opportunity. Built to last three months, Mars rover Opportunity is well into its third year. They're going to send it into a giant, relatively new (100-million-year-old) crater, named Victoria Crater, within which they are pretty sure they will find formations more than a billion years old. This area was once wet; I can't help hoping they'll find evidence of former life there.

  • Another apparent TASER death - Read the article; decide for yourself. A sheriff's deputy also used a baton on the suspect. In fairness, it appears the suspect, who may have been breaking into mailboxes, fled deputies into a house not his own. Still, one wonders if this death was avoidable.

  • Tune in, turn on, but don't drop out - Texas continues, a decade after the problem became acute, to debate how to deal with the state's school dropout rate, one of the highest in the nation. I was part of a group that did some oppo research on George W. Bush in about 1999, and discovered that the real dropout numbers (forget the ones published by the state) worsened considerably during his tenure as governor. "Is our children learning?" If so, it's no thanks to Bush.

  • Stay out of northwest Houston - With gangs and murders and drugs, oh my, residents say it's a war zone. It seems to me that half of the if-it-bleeds-it-leads TV news stories happen in "northwest Houston" or "northwest Harris County." An arrest was made recently in a one-man crime wave of murder and mayhem, but this is an ongoing problem. What will it take to civilize that part of the city?

And that's your miscellany for the day. This is a working weekend for me; blogging will be light.

Steve
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Going Over The Edge

Jeebus...

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A Navy corpsman testified today that Marines in his patrol seized an Iraqi civilian from his home, threw him into a hole and put at least 10 bullets in his head after growing frustrated in their search for an insurgent.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos said he saw a Marine put fingerprints from the victim onto a rifle and on a shovel to implicate him as an insurgent.

"I was shocked and I felt sick to my stomach," Bacos said.

     ...

Read the rest, and you'll be sick to your stomach, too.

I've never been to war, but neither was I born yesterday. I know shit happens in war. I know this kind of shit happens. I understand that we don't hire our military to be nice people in a war zone. I also understand that these soldiers are dealing with insurgents who blow up several Americans every day. I don't need to have that explained to me, though no doubt someone will try.

But I also understand that in America we don't hire our troops to drag civilians out of their homes, throw them into holes and shoot them dead, for no apparent reason other than that the troops couldn't find the insurgents they were looking for.

Did it happen the way Petty Officer Bacos testified? I don't know; we have seven more accused men, all Marines, who doubtless will have their own versions of the story. But unless these men were acting on credible evidence that the victim engaged directly in activities intended to harm American troops... and even then, unless the sheer cruelty of the killing is not as described... this was not so much a military action as a gang-style execution.

God help our nation. What are we becoming as a people? I'm sure none of these troops left home for Iraq expecting to murder a civilian in cold blood, and all their upbringing, combined with all their military training, would under more normal circumstances stop them well short of such an act. I'd like to wake up tomorrow to news that all of this was a mistake, that no such incident happened. But I seriously doubt it will be a mistake. The exact degree and nature, the specific horrible details, who did what, all may vary... but this thing almost certainly happened.

Something is seriously wrong with the war against Iraq. In fact, many things are wrong with it, fundamental things, things that never should have been ignored. America should never have invaded, and should withdraw as quickly as practicable from a military standpoint. America does not belong in the middle of someone else's civil war... or insurgency, or gang turf battle; I don't care what you call it. It's not our fight. It was never our fight. There is literally nothing more we can do to help Iraq and Iraqis; our government has botched every single aspect of the encounter. Possibly worst of all... it's difficult to compare the badness of so many bad things... our typically honorable and courageous troops, heirs to the tradition of generations of American troops that have literally saved the world from unimaginable horrors at the hands of the likes of Hitler, are transforming before our very eyes into members of another gang, fighting another kind of turf battle, killing innocent people along with the insurgents and generally losing their moral bearings. I hope we bring them home before they turn into something no civilized society can live with.

Is America over the edge? I don't know. But if this incident proves, as have so many others in the past few years, to have happened as described, then we undoubtedly have our foot on the soft, crumbling soil of the precipice. God help America. God help the world in which today's America exists.

Steve
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Your Daily Foley

I'm not sure I can bring the scandal to you every day, but hey, as new revelations emerge with astonishing frequency, I have to try my best to keep up. In this case, though, Christy of FireDogLake brings us a video from The Daily Show. Why is the mainstream media so broken that the best timeline summary of the scandal appears on a comedy show? This is definitely must-see TV... but set down your coffee cup before you view it.

The technology that brings us this clip about the whole disgusting series of events? I guess you could call it Ewwww-Tube.

Steve
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Speaking Of Cats...

Here are some kittens for you:

A small California biotechnology company says it is ready to deliver the Holy Grail of the $35 billion pet industry: a hypoallergenic cat.

     ...

Allerca, of San Diego, says it has received inquiries from people in 85 countries seeking to buy a cat bred so that its glands do not produce the protein responsible for most human cat allergies.

For cats ordered now, it will take 12 to 15 months for delivery in the U.S.

Cost: $4,000.

This is a company that wants you to know it cares about its cats...

Prospective buyers are interviewed for motivation and warmth. Their families and their homes also must be evaluated for allergies and allergens.

Motivation and warmth, eh? How can they tell? But the most interesting tidbit was in a sidebar:

At 10 to 12 weeks old, every Allerca kitten is neutered before it is delivered. The company says this is mainly to prevent feline overpopulation. Every Allerca cat carries the dominant hypoallergenic gene and, in theory, could produce hypoallergenic kittens.

Oh, yes. It's all about controlling feline overpopulation. It has nothing to do with protecting Allerca's ability to sell $4,000 kittens. You believe them, don't you?

The article didn't post pictures, but you can find some on Allerca's web site, here. Cuuuute... I think I'll take two, please. What? They want payment up-front? Never mind.

I'm very mildly allergic to cats. It's nothing I'm concerned about: after I stick my nose in Tabitha's fur for a few minutes, I have to sneeze for a few minutes after that. Not everyone is so lucky: I have a friend who is severely allergic, who breaks out in a persistent rash whenever she touches cats or dogs. I suppose this is her opportunity... if she wants a kitten... and if she's got four grand to spare.

Steve
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Friday Comfy Kitty Chair Blogging

Stella and Tabitha settle in to Tabitha's new chair...



Samantha was in the picture, on the footrest (or, in her case, buttrest) until moments before I snapped the shot. She dismounted to come assist me with the camera, peering into the display as if she knew what she was doing. Hmm... as if I knew what I was doing!

Steve
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Dense Fog

That's what was reported over Houston earlier this morning, though I wasn't out in it. Apparently it extended to Washington as well, and perhaps a few other places. We got yer miscellany right here:

  • Spinach crimes? Maybe. The FDA has given consumers the go-ahead to eat fresh spinach again, but the FBI is searching two packagers, investigating whether they were negligent in not taking adequate measures to protect consumers. Here's the question: how long will it be before you eat spinach in a salad again?

  • Limited Vista: Or perhaps limited vision on Microsoft's part. All those rumors about a "kill switch" in Windows Vista to cripple copies that are automatically determined to be pirated? They're true: the acronym for it is SPP. Remember "Windows Genuine Advantage" (WGA)? The stake driven in its heart must have been of the wrong material. Among the Vista features Microsoft reportedly will cripple are... get this... the security features. If that's true, a pirated copy (or a "pirated" copy) of Vista could be an endless source of 'bots and spam on the net. Thanks a lot, Microsoft. The irony here is that it won't take more than a few dozen false positives... especially if they happen in major corporations... to drive businesses to switch to an open-source operating system, in which the original expectation is that you will "pirate" it. How stupid can Microsoft get? Stay tuned.

  • Waaaaah! The GOP can't run on bashing Dems on security issues, because they're too busy explaining why the Party of Moral Values, the party that was going to Restore Integrity to Washington, etc., etc., is now the Party of Pedophile Protection. I intend to do my share to help... to help everyone remember Pagegate from now to Election Day. For those GOPers who cannot distinguish between private consensual sex between adults and deliberate concealment of powerful people's hitting on kids, I'll be happy to explain it to them, again and again if necessary. By the way, the next person who says to me that Foley pursued his pages "over the Internet" gets a metaphorical mouthful of fist: Would it have been better if he had chatted them up over the phone? How about in postal mail? What is the appropriate medium to use when seducing kids? Good grief; the net has nothing to do with it.

And that's the morning fog. Cat blogging tomorrow will probably be another recycled picture; between my contract (very intense at the moment) and Stella's job and contract, we're managing to see each other only about an hour a day or so; my opportunities to take pictures of the kitties are limited. Maybe next week...

Steve
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Tell Us How You Really Feel, Glenn

Glenn Greenwald unloads on Hastert (after the latter's love-fest with Rush Limbaugh), Foley, and today's Republican Party which, Greenwald says, is rotten to the core, filled with liars, hypocrites and enablers of abusive behavior at the highest levels of the party. Who am I to disagree. You all know how well Greenwald writes; please do yourself a favor and read his screed.

Steve
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A Different Kind Of Cover-Up

It's not exactly a cover-up, more a "look over there!" sleight of hand. Has anyone noticed how the Military Commissions Act, passed last week by the Senate and sent on to the White House, has effectively disappeared from the front pages in the face of the Foley/Boehner/Hastert scandal? On today's Washington Post web front, the only reference I could find is this article, linked near the bottom of the main page, about detainees' lawyers filing for habeas corpus for their clients. Where are the cries of outrage? Does the Bush administration control the mainstream press? Just because the Act is effectively a done deal, does that suddenly make it of no interest?

Or are Republicans (*cough* Karl Rove *cough*) doing exactly what they accuse Democrats of doing: exploiting the Foley/Boehner/Hastert scandal for political purposes, distracting us from what is really important?

Whatever happens to Hastert will be forgotten 20 years from now, unless someone has a political need to bring it up. What happens when Bush receives legal approval to violate every principle of judicial due process in all of American history... what happens when Bush becomes de facto dictator... is of lasting significance.

Heads up, everyone: Americans who are not congressional pages are also threatened with being screwed.

Steve
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The Immemorial Chairs...

... in psychology, anthropology, musicology and computerology (well, OK, we can skip the last one, and no, it's not a list of Charlie Parker tunes) have arrived in our various households. Our friend Catherine bought a fancy new chair to help with increasingly serious back problems. (Miraculously, it did help.) Catherine gave Stella the chair it replaced, a modern-looking job with black-painted wooden arms and support frames and light-colored padded seat, back and ottoman, a chair which fitted Stella perfectly both in size and shape and also in visual taste. Stella, in turn, in order to make room, gave her small recliner to me, a chair which fits me to a T, as it did not quite fit her. It is the only soft furniture I own... don't ask how that came about. All of us now wish we could simply take a vacation at our respective homes and simply sit and read and watch videos for a week or three.

(If I were NTodd, I'd have pics of all three chairs, each with cats... or in NTodd's case, cats and dogs, some of the cats cute kittens, no less... cavorting on them. But I was not foresightful enough to snap those pics.)

Unfortunately, for me, the break's over tomorrow, and it's back to standing on my head...

Steve
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Disgusting Cover-Up

Rep. Mark Foley's apparent sexual approach to a 16-year-old page, as evidenced in email, is unquestionably disgusting. It's certainly outside the pale: it should never have happened, ever. But in deciding one's degree of disgust, one must measure disgust with Foley's approach itself against disgust with a related fact: House Majority Leader John Boehner and NRCC chair Thomas M. Reynolds (for certain) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (to all appearances, by Reynolds's own statement) knew about and covered up Foley's misconduct... for months. Months. Not days, not weeks (which would have been understandable in a developing situation while facts were clarified), but months, from the fall of 2005 until Friday, when ABC confronted Rep. Foley with what it knew. Now that is disgusting.

Of course, the NYT, that purported bastion of liberalism, immediately went looking for a Democrat who had done something similar. The best they could do was a Democrat and a Republican who were censured at the same time in 1983 for having sex with pages. Of course the Times saw fit to mention that the Democrat, a man with the unlikely name of Gerry Studds, had sex with a male page... as if that were important. Oh, yes... it's important to the NYT's relationship to Republicans in power, who have no nonpolitical motives in this matter.

Here's the point, which needs to be made over and over again, until the GOPers acquiesce and actually open, not merely call for, a full public investigation: the venerable Tip O'Neill, Democrat, Speaker of the House in 1982, immediately ordered an investigation launched into the allegations of sexual misconduct with pages. John Boehner, on the other hand, covered it up in Foley's case for the better part of a year. How hard is it to understand such a fundamental difference?

The cover-up ought to be disgusting even by rank-and-file Republican standards. Don't ever cease reminding Republicans who rant about powerful Democrats' sexual escapades that their own Majority Leader covered up far worse behavior by a Republican who he knew had compromised a youth... good grief, Boehner "allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues" until very recently.

Every Democrat running for any office should raise this matter any time there is the least intimation (*cough* *cough* by Karl Rove *cough* *cough*) of scandal against any Democrat:

Can you trust Republican leaders to protect
your sons and daughters from sexual predators
among Republican members of Congress?

Nor should Democrats hesitate to name names and point fingers. The GOP asked for this. They damned well should get it. What stinking hypocrites they are.

"Have you no sense of decency, sir[s]? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Steve
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Does Your Job Ever Feel Like This?



I know mine does. This fellow shows up at the Kemah Jazz Festival just about every year, and this is just a small sample of his diverse and very considerable skills. Added to the fine music played at the other end of the courtyard, it can be a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I wish one could divide one's attention enough to appreciate everything going on at once, but I've decided that the reference to a circus is quite intentional... neither the juggler nor the bands seem to mind a bit.

Yes, we certainly heard some fine jazz while we were there. Samuel Jackson (the local jazz star, not the movie star) fielded his always excellent big band; that tightness of ensemble and intonation is to be admired in any kind of musical group, and the soloists were all outstanding. Following the band was the Dennis Dotson Quintet, another fine ensemble of a very different size and flavor. Houston is second to none in the quality of its professional jazz musicians. The event is a joint presentation by the Landry's corporation (which owns the Kemah Boardwalk and its various facilities) and the Houston Professional Musicians Association (AFM Local 65-699).

We spent the rest of the day eating, drinking, shopping (used books in Clear Lake; I found a very nice edition of Lincoln's collected speeches and several mysteries by my favorite authors both current and long past), eating and drinking some more (Catherine was kind enough to serve us dinner), and finally moving furniture. All in all, it was a splendid contrast to my typical days lately. I may even be restored enough to resume fighting the good fight.


(Correction: it's "Dennis Dotson," not "David Dotson." Sorry, Dennis. Thanks, Catherine.)

Steve
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