Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

This is scary. The neocons really do want to set back the clock to the Dark Ages.

HUMAN EVENTS asked a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public policy leaders to help us compile a list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Each panelist nominated a number of titles and then voted on a ballot including all books nominated. A title received a score of 10 points for being listed No. 1 by one of our panelists, 9 points for being listed No. 2, etc. Appropriately, The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, earned the highest aggregate score and the No. 1 listing.

The list:

1. The Communist Manifesto -- Authors: Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels
2. Mein Kampf -- Author: Adolf Hitler
3. Quotations from Chairman Mao -- Author: Mao Zedong
4. The Kinsey Report -- Author: Alfred Kinsey
5. Democracy and Education -- Author: John Dewey
6. Das Kapital -- Author: Karl Marx
7. The Feminine Mystique -- Author: Betty Friedan
8. The Course of Positive Philosophy -- Author: Auguste Comte
9. Beyond Good and Evil -- Author: Freidrich Nietzsche
10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Mone -- Author: John Maynard Keynes

These books won votes from two or more judges:

The Population Bomb -- Paul Ehrlich
What Is To Be Done -- V.I. Lenin
Authoritarian Personality -- Theodor
Adorno On Liberty -- John Stuart Mill
Beyond Freedom and Dignity -- B.F. Skinner
Reflections on Violence -- Georges Sorel
The Promise of American Life -- Herbert Croly
Origin of the Species -- Charles Darwin
Madness and Civilization -- Michel Foucault
Soviet Communism: A New Civilization -- Sidney and Beatrice Webb
Coming of Age in Samoa -- Margaret Mead
Unsafe at Any Speed -- Ralph Nader
Second Sex -- Simone de Beauvoir
Prison Notebooks -- Antonio Gramsci
Silent Spring -- Rachel Carson
Wretched of the Earth -- Frantz Fanon
Introduction to Psychoanalysis -- Sigmund Freud
The Greening of America -- Charles Reich
The Limits to Growth -- Club of Rome
Descent of Man -- Charles Darwin

In other words, any volume that encourages critical thinking. Frightening look into the mindset of this group. Take a look at the "judges." I wish they had also asked them to vote on the ten most valuable books but then again, maybe it's better not to know. It would probably give me nightmares.
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Monday, May 30, 2005

The MSM on Memorial Day

The Baltimore Sun has a good editorial for the day. Best paragraph.
At the beginning of the Iraq war, Pfc. Jessica Lynch's story was so overspun and distorted as to become ridiculous. In Afghanistan, we now know, Ranger Pat Tillman was mistakenly killed by U.S. soldiers, but the Army seized upon his death to try to create a fighting legend - out of whole cloth. These PR blunders serve neither of those soldiers well. Lies have marked these wars from the beginning, and besides being ultimately self-defeating, they are an affront to all Americans, most especially those whose bravery and sacrifice have gone unheralded.
The Detroit News also has a good piece on remembering the soldiers that ends with these timely words.
Compared to scandals such as those in Abu Ghraib prison, little attention is given to the battle service and risks shouldered by the U.S. military every day.

Today's the day to remember those who died serving their country. Congress should also take a second look at policies that give horse trails a higher priority than veterans' benefits.
And the Chicago Tribune posts a moving profile piece on what it's like for one of the 1,800 families who have lost loved ones in either the war on Iraq or Afghanistan. In the words of a mother who lost her 27 year old son in the last year.
"To a lot of people, it's just a holiday," said Barbara Zimny, a hospital secretary. "Not anymore for us. You have to go through the experience to know."
I would think it's rather difficult to feel like celebrating while you're still grieving your dead.
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Memorial Day Blues

It's the day we usually remember our war dead but the mood in the country is one of confusion and regret rather than reverence and humility. It feels more appropriate to apologize to our current lost soldiers, than to thank them for their sacrifice to a meaningless cause. I want to reach out to their families and tell them how sorry I am that their loved ones lives were wasted because I couldn't stop our president from inflicting his cruel and illegal imperial folly on the rest of the world. Instead I apologized on their behalf to the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who they killed in obedience to Bush's ambitions.

Bob Herbert doesn't apologize but also notes how this country has fallen from grace and the administration's state of denial. Quoting Amnesty International, he hones in on the point that no amount of perception management can change.
"The critical point is the deliberateness of this policy," he said. "The president gave the green light. The secretary of defense issued the rules. The Justice Department provided the rationale. And the C.I.A. tried to cover it up."
However, the most moving tribute and the strongest condemnation of the Bush administration comes from today's editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.

...As this bloody month of car bombs and American deaths -- the most since January -- comes to a close, as we gather in groups small and large to honor our war dead, let us all sing of their bravery and sacrifice. But let us also ask their forgiveness for sending them to a war that should never have happened. In the 1960s it was Vietnam. Today it is Iraq. Let us resolve to never, ever make this mistake again. Our young people are simply too precious.

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Bush to destroy the evidence of abuse?

How convenient for the Bush administration. Now that the accounts of abuse filtering out of Gitmo and our other prison camps can no longer be avoided or ignored, the Pentagon has cleared the way for military tribunals by appointing a chief prosecutor and chief defence counsel. (I guess independent defense counsel would be out of the question.)

Even more convenient, the "Pentagon rules for the tribunals permit death sentences to be passed and the construction of a death chamber at the camp is among options being considered." That should make it easier to sweep the atrocities under the rug. With all the freed prisoners blabbing about torture and abuse, how much easier to simply find them all guilty and execute them without any bothersome public scrutiny. It's difficult not to think that if they had nothing to hide, they would have open trials, not secret tribunals.

If this doesn't evoke Nazi Germany, then I don't know what does. News like this makes me ashamed to admit I'm an American.
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Sunday, May 29, 2005

FedEx abets and allows privacy violations

This speaks for itself.
Fedex has opened the international portion of its databases, including credit-card details, to government officials. It has created a police force recognized by the state of Tennessee that works alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The company has rolled out radiation detectors at overseas facilities to detect dirty bombs and donated an airplane to federal researchers looking for a defense against shoulder-fired missiles. Moreover, the company is encouraging its 250,000 employees to be spotters of would-be terrorists. It is setting up a system designed to send reports of suspicious activities directly to the Department of Homeland Security via a special computer link. . .

I know FedEx is the most reliable, but UPS and USPS don't give up the information without a court order. Keep that in mind when you do the shipping.
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Think tank deems Bush terror 'plan' clear as mud

No surprise here. The US Army War College published an assessment of Bush's "strategy" and found it lacks finds it lacks clarity, saying it has "failed to define its overall aims." That much is certainly clear, but its conclusions leave much to be desired.
US leaders face a stark choice, the assessment warns, and they have to make it soon. If they decide that the near elimination of Al Qaeda and its followers is the ultimate goal, they must redouble the American commitment to nation building in Iraq and face the prospect that the United States will have to take on other regimes in the Islamic world that have helped spawn the Islamist movement. The study says the resources being expended for nation building in the Middle East are simply not enough to achieve such a goal.

The other option is to retrench from the ambitious goal of bringing democracy to the Middle East, and instead pursue a policy of "containment" relying on greater diplomacy. Such a strategy would include expanding efforts in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere to control nuclear, chemical, and biological materials -- limiting their availability for terrorists -- and seeking more cooperation from some of the same undemocratic regimes that helped spawn Al Qaeda's brand of religious extremism.

...The first could exact a heavy cost in the next decade but could bring long-term security by removing many of the breeding grounds for terrorism. The containment policy, on the other hand, would cost less in the short term but probably not solve the problem over the longer term, effectively leaving in place what Biddle terms the "wellspring" of Islamic terrorism -- the dictatorships of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, and others.

Note the use of the phrase - could bring. Who gave us a license to export democracy by force anyway? I must have missed the ceremony when the world leaders appointed us as the world's conscience. Or did the new Pope anoint Bush as arbitrator of what's good for the world while I wasn't watching?

We've already spent well over 300 billion to transform Iraq from an admittedly imperfect but viable country into a quagmire of death, destruction and unremitting violence. It seems unlikely that the populace in these other "wellspring" countries will look at the conditions in Iraq and welcome us in as "liberators," particularly since they're showing up in the streets even as you read this, to protest US policy in Iraq.

And just where do these do these "think tank" guys expect us to find the money to finance this nation building anyway? Should we just empty out Fort Knox, the Social Security trust fund and send all our current tax dollars directly to the Middle East? Maybe they should keep thinking.
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Why did the chicken cross the road?

Law enforcement authorities in Johannesburg, a rural mining community in California, don't care why - they gave the wayward hen a "$54 citation for impeding traffic." The charges were dropped however, when the chicken's lawyer successfully argued that she wasn't guilty by reason of domestication.

The chick's owners claim she was singled out because they complained about wayward dogs and rampant off-road vehicle riders. Sheriff's officials deny the allegations, and said "the ticket had nothing to do with the Moores' complaints."
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Smithsonian to screen anti-evolution film

Oh the irony. IMAX theaters in the south refused to run a movie about volcanoes because a few vague references to evolution. Now comes The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History who will be co-sponsoring the premiere of an anti-evolution film - based on the so-called intelligent design theory.

The Smithsonian is careful to note that they co-sponsor every event at the museum and it should not be construed as an endorsement of the film's content but that didn't stop The Discovery Institute, the real sponsor of the event who paid $16,000 for the use of the venue, from implying that they have the Smithsonian's endorsement when announcing the event on their website.

I'm always amazed at how easily the self-professed "true Christians" find it so easy to fudge the truth.
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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Noise machine oils up

This is why I think Hillary shouldn't run in 08. It's another mission of mass distraction waiting to happen.
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Help "After Downing Street" Hold Bush Accountable

Following up on this post, I'm proud and honored that The Impolitic has been accepted as a supporter at After Downing Street.org and has been listed on their sidebar. They even made a button for me, so it would be really cool if you kind folks would go over there and help out by participating in whatever way you can.

First and foremost, and the simplest thing you can do is sign Congressman John Conyers letter to President Bush, asking him to explain to America why he shouldn't be impeached based on the contents of the Downing Street Memo and its related minutes and other documents. Here at last is a concrete way the ordinary citizen can contribute towards finally squeezing some accountability from this administration. The more voters that sign, the more difficult it will be for Bush and the MSM to ignore this request.

I signed last night. It took about ten seconds and I have to tell you it feels good to speak truth to power, even as just a signatory. As they say around the Media Awareness Project: "It's not what others do, it's what you do."
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Links and comments

Thanks to KS and John Needham for coming over from Detroit and leaving The Impolitic's first comments. KS weighs in on Brand Hillary and John takes the world view quiz and reports on his results. Also a big thanks to Steven Couch at BlueStateRed for our first link. He links to the quiz and bravely reports he scored as a fundamentalist - much to both our surprise. I would have thought perhaps he would have scored as a postmodernist.

Unfortunately, Steven doesn't post his whole chart of results since I'm finding the ratios more interesting than the actual category classifications. For instance you'll notice that I almost came in as an idealist and my numbers are much more uneven than the others. Come to think of it that's also true of my astrological chart. No wonder my life is always such a roller coaster.
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Friday, May 27, 2005

Don't pass me the crow just yet

Whew. Thought for a minute there I was going to have to eat my words on Hillary Clinton when I saw this Instapost, but Glenn was just playing a trick on us. Hillary's approval rating is certainly rising but counting in the 24% that are "somewhat likely" to vote for her, is planning the chicken fricassee before the chicks even hatch.

A lot can happen in three years and it's been my observation that the early frontrunner usually loses, especially in recent times.

Update: Buzz Flash went with the same headline. Looks like I'm bucking the conventional wisdom on both sides of the fence.
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First step to impeachment?

This is cheering news. The Raw Story reports "After Downing Street," a loose coalition of activist groups have organized to "ask Congress to file a Resolution of Inquiry, the first necessary legal step to determine whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in misleading the country about his decision to go to war in Iraq."
The formal Resolution of Inquiry request, written by Boston constitutional attorney John C. Bonifaz, cites the Downing Street Memo and issues surrounding the planning and execution of the Iraq war. A resolution of inquiry would force relevant House committees to vote on the record as to whether to support an investigation.
This is really good news. I happen to know Bonifaz. He's a good man and a stellar constitutional attorney and the groups that are on board comprise millions of voters.
Bonifaz and others ask that citizens of all party affiliations and backgrounds help support his request by writing to their Congressional leaders. They are also seeking other groups to sign on. More information will be up shortly at: After Downing Street.org.
To see Bush have to answer for his ill-advised and illegal policies would be a dream come true. It would mean we could believe in democracy again.
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DeLay's political future dims

Kos throws the noose around Tom DeLay. The PAC DeLay organized, that was ultimately responsible for gerrymandering the Texas districts and allowing the GOP extremists to gain a Congressional majority in DC, has been found to be in criminal violation of election laws regarding the failure to report over $600,000 worth of corporate contributions.

DeLay says he's not really involved and not worried. Maybe he thinks deleting all of the Kos links from his own computer made them disappear from the internet.
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Governator digs pot holes

Don't you think this is taking the photo op thing just a little too far?
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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Media Alert - This just in

If you're reading this on the 26th, you can still catch Ethan Nadelmann's appearance on the Bill O'Reilly show tonight. As I recall Nadelmann, Executive director of Drug Policy Alliance, held his own against Mr. O the last time he appeared on the program. It should be good. The subject tonight will be Sensenbrenner's senseless mandatory sentencing bill - HR 1528.

Click here for times.

UPDATE: I tried to catch the 11:00 replay but didn't make it to the end. It took me ten minutes to figure out that I even had the right channel. It appears that the O'Reilly Factor doesn't acutally have Mr. O on it anymore.

Ethan of course was scheduled for the end of the show and the droning talking heads in the interim put me out like a Valium. Last thing I remember was some idiot "think tank genius" from the Heritage Foundation spewing Bushspeak. I woke up at 3:30am and turned off the TV.
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1000 words on stem cells

This is why I love Cox and Forkum. I love their work, (even when they're wrong), and they're one, or should I say two, of the few who mostly sit on the other side of the political fence but are willing to call their own players out, when they make an error.
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Secret Senate committee meeting to expand Pat Act

I blogged on the Senate Intelligence Committee taking up the expansion of the Patriot Act in a closed door session last week. The expansion will greatly enhance the government's ability to spy on Americans with impunity and without judicial review. These provisions - so hastily enacted in the chaos and fear of post 9/11 - were supposed to start expiring at this time. And well they should.

The powers of the Act have not resulted in a single conviction of terrorism but have been widely used to spy on activists who disagree with Bush administration policies and to prosecute ordinary crimes, which already fall under other statutes, in order to enhance the severity of the sentencing.

For those of you who like to see the official documents, Electronic Frontier Foundation has links to the originals and more thoughts on the subject.
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Senate moves to support stem cell research

An update to yesterday's post on the subject. The Senate is following up on the House's action and calling for a speedy passage of the stem cell research bill. My post on the subject is at DetNews so I won't repeat it here.

Bush is holding fast to his veto threat, telling the widows and orphans of the Iraq occupation with a straight face, that he values life over science. I guess he manages to swallow all that hypocrisy with the one grain of truth in it. He values "right-to lifers" PAC money over all else.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What is your world view?

I love these things. This is who I am - this time. My fundamentalist score surprised me. Talk Left, who pointed me to the quiz - got a zero in that field. I didn't think I would score so high.

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (updated)
created with QuizFarm.com
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Comments feature is fixed

Thanks to KS for pointing out the comments problem. I changed the settings and now anyone can comment without registering, although it appears you may have to pick some kind of screen name.

I'm happy to see this template comes with email notification so I'll know when they come in. I often miss them at Last One Speaks because I forget to scroll back and look. This should be an improvement.

Speaking of improvements I registered with the TTLB ecosystem yesterday and discovered this morning that The Impolitic has already risen from insigificant microbe to lowly insect in only one day. Thanks for the support folks.
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Another Clinton in the White House?

Salon posts a very interesting and comprehensive piece on Brand Hillary. The speculation that she's preparing for a run for the White House has been percolating through the media practically since she was elected Senator. I've been saying right along that it would a disaster for the Dems if she did and I still think that's true even though this piece offers a reasons to think she would be a great candidate.

She probably would. Frankly, I think she'd make a good President but unless the major media suddenly morphs back into an impartial source of news again, I don't think she'll be able to paint over the ugly picture the right paints of her. Not when the name Clinton has come to symbolize the root of all liberal evil in the minds of those voters that put Bush and the rest of the GOP extremistists into office.

These voters can obviously be swayed by images and slogans into voting against their own interests. It's difficult to believe that folks who still believe we found WMDs in Iraq can be persuaded that Hillary is not as diabolical as they have been led to believe. A Clinton candidacy offers much too much opportunity to obfuscate the important issues by turning the debate to the woman herself. Unless something radical happens to untarnish Bill's image in these voters eyes, for the good of the party and the country Hillary should not run.
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Congress confronts White House on stem cells

The House defied the threat of White House veto to pass a measure loosening the restrictions on stem cell research. Guess the good Congresspeople are paying attention to the growing public support for this line of study that promises great breakthroughs in the treatment of fatal diseases. Bush however has this to say.
"This bill would take us across a critical ethical line by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life," the president said before the vote. "Crossing this line would be a great mistake."
Every time he says something like this, I want to hurl from an overdose of hypocrisy. He's worried about emerging life? What about the hundreds of thousands of already fully developed lives that have been lost as a direct result of his policies?
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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

DU believe?

How many Nagasaki Bombs equal the Radiation in the 2003 Iraq war? Answer: About 250,000 Nagasaki Bombs. How many Nagasaki Bombs equal the Radiation in the last Five American Nuclear Radiation Wars? Answer: About 400,000 Nagasaki Bombs. Who would do something like this? We would...

Depleted uranium weapons are a topic of hot debate on my discussion lists. The sides divide along the lines of those who believe they are causing irreparable environmental and physical harm and those who believe the government propaganda that would have us believe the stuff is harmless. I'm of course in the first camp.

Thanks to Preston Peet for passing on the link to Rhino's Blog who posts an excellent roundup of writings on the subject.
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Steel Magnolia

What they were thinking in sending Laura Bush on a "diplomacy tour" into the tinder keg of the Middle East is beyond my understanding. The entire Arab Street is rioting against US policy and it turns out the Israelis have a beef or two with us as well, as evidenced by the heckling she endured while visiting holy sites in the area.

To her credit, I thought she handled herself well. Links and extended thoughts at the DetNews blog.
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Monday, May 23, 2005

Who says liberals don't have a sense of humor?

The Huffington Post has been under the blogoscope ever since it's much ballyhooed launch. Already it's inspired that sincerest form of flattery - a parody site. It hasn't been perfect. Arianna's biggest sin so far has been hot linking to graphics from other blogs.

Now I was guilty of this as well in the beginning of my blogging career. I didn't have a clue about bandwidth then and had no idea it cost the originator money nor did I know how to host my own graphics. However, you would think that Arianna has some kind of computer geek putting together that side of the Post. Whoever it is should certainly have known that it was bad etiquette.

The Huff's second deadly sin just surfaced. Considering the amount of scrutiny the site has undergone, I'm surprised it took so long. This one however was no mistake. Aaron "the Liberal Slayer" at Aaron's cc:, (and you have to love the graphic if you loved the Fantastic Four), uncovered a nefarious plot to misdirect blogger traffic.

I was wondering why Arianna had so many links to right wing blogs on the roll. It seems they don't exactly link to the advertised blogs. Aaron discovers:

The links on the page may seem to be benign, but the reality is a bit different and may offend some of the better-known members of the Blogosphere:

Tim Blair
Steven Den Beste
Ken Layne
James Lileks
Megan McArdle
Paul Palubicki
Protein Wisdom
Eric Raymond
Glenn Reynolds
Concerned About Privacy
Matt Welch
Pejman Yousefzadeh

I take issue with the link to retard. I know this is a term bandied about loosely among young overwrought college kids in forums, but having known three families with Mongoloid children, I find it offensive when it's used as a pejorative.

Otherwise, I think it's a brilliant joke. Some of them made laugh out loud. I especially love Glenn's link. I was always a big fan of Tennessee Tuxedo as a kid.
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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Threat to the internet

Thanks to the Instapundit for pointing us to this important news for political bloggers and readers alike. The FEC is still trying to regulate political speech on the internet. Kos has details on how you can help prevent regulatory chaos.

The results could be catastrophic -- and, please note, this has very little to do with whether bloggers have to disclose whether they're being paid for content.  It's much broader than that.  This is where you come in.

One of the most important things you can do is let the regulators know how you use the internet for politics, so that they understand what they're getting involved in and how careful they need to be in not stifling these robust communities.  Here's how:

  • The easier way: visit the CDT website and fill out this form.  They'll use your answers to help them formulate their response, which will be a comprehensive take based on their eleven principles; or

  • The harder way:  email your comments directly to the FEC.  Be polite, and tell them who you are, where you live (you must provide a postal address for your comment to be read), and how you use the internet for politics, using the CDT questions as a guide.  Stress to them the vibrancy of these sites, how valuable they are to you, and the activities that you want to ensure remain free of onerous regulations.  And post here what you've sent them, to give others an example and inspiration.

    Lawyers like me can propose regulations to them and argue to the Federal Election Commission about how the law ought to be applied.  But you've got the power -- and the right as citizens -- to explain to the FEC the importance of what's going on here, and why they need to only regulate where absolutely necessary.  We only have until June 3.

  • Please help protect free expression on the internet.
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    Bush announces democracy crisis team

    I'm back to thinking that Bush is seriously disturbed and really believes he's God's messenger and thus infallible and that's why they didn't for instance, disturb his bike ride the other day to tell him they evacuated the White House. Certainly no one in their right mind would think to make this proposal at a time when the polls would indicate that even his staunchest supporters are realizing they've been had by this administration.

    This country is going to hell in a handbasket and he's out there proclaiming that we're here to help? It's like he's living in a Koala Brothers cartoon and he's asking us to foot the bill for $124 million just to get it started.
    He told the IRI that all democracies were built on certain common foundations:

    Freedom of speech

    Freedom of assembly

    Free economy

    Independent judiciary

    Freedom of worship

    "To help young democracies succeed and build these institutions of liberty, we must enlist the help of many individuals and institutions," Mr Bush said.

    Hell, that doesn't even describe our own country anymore. God may have been able to create the world on his cosmic credit card but Bush needs to remember that he can't recreate the world order in own image without cash and we don't have any since he spent the "family trust."

    More on this at the DetNews today.
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    Saturday, May 21, 2005

    Virtual strip search

    Coming soon to an airport near you. Your homeland security dollars at work.
    The agency in charge of the nation's air security expects later this year to begin using a controversial X-ray machine that will show airport screeners a clear picture of what's under passengers' clothes — whether weapons or just bare skin.

    Security workers using the machines can see through clothes and peer at whatever may be hidden in undergarments, shirts or pants. The images also paint a revealing picture of a person's nude body.
    And so can anyone passing by in view of the screen get a look. Wonder how the Bible belters are going to feel about complete strangers looking at them and their kids "bare naked."

    There has got to be a less intrusive way to screen passengers. Not to mention it's just a ploy to catch people with small amounts of personal use drugs. They offer no proof it will actually detect explosives and it's not like their other security measures have been so effective.
    ...The machines are already used by U.S. Customs agents at 12 airports to screen passengers suspected of carrying drugs. They're also getting a test run at a terminal in London Heathrow Airport, the first major airport to use them.

    The $100,000 machines bounce low-radiation X-rays off a person's skin to produce photo-like computer images of metal, plastic and organic materials hidden under clothes, says American Science and Engineering. The TSA is testing its BodySearch machine.
    And they intend to use them.
    But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a Senate subcommittee last month that he wants to employ the technology and doesn't want an "endless debate" over privacy issues.

    Well that's unfortunate, because I sure would like a debate about this. We would be giving away a lot of privacy for very little, if any, security. Why don't we all call our senators and tell them to pass that on to good old Mike anyway.
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    Weird weather generator?

    A lake in Russia disappeared overnight.
    NTV television showed pictures of a giant muddy hole bathed in summer sun, while fishermen from the village of Bolotnikovo looked on disconsolately.

    "It is very dangerous. If a person had been in this disaster, he would have had almost no chance of survival. The trees flew downwards, under the ground," said Dmitry Zaitsev, a local Emergencies Ministry official interviewed by the channel.
    Officials blame natural phenomenon but the villagers think otherwise.
    I am thinking, well, America has finally got to us," said one old woman, as she sat on the ground outside her house.

    You may laugh but I read it and then read this - the Sumatran earthquake that caused the tsunami was the longest recorded quake in history and remember the island in the Indian Ocean that was spared coincidently held a US military base.

    I think about the last Florida hurricane season. Four hurricanes in a short time and two make landfall in the exact same spot and I remember Jerry E. Smith and his work on HAARP.

    Send tin foil hats if you like, but read his theory on the military applications of the program and tell me it doesn't sound at least feasible.
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    Billboards in space

    I half remember this idea being floated decades ago but with what we know now, why is this even a question?
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    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Ready or not

    This is kind of cool. I haven't really unveiled it yet but The Impolitic is already getting hits from outside the LOS inner circle. Guess the metatags must be working because Google apparently has started to crawl us. I'm sure Scott would be amused to learn I just found this in the referral log.

    Maybe I should do some more work on the template.
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    Bush logic: Porn bad - pornographers good

    This is cute. On the one hand you have AG Al Gonzales marshalling all his federal resources (at the taxpayer's expense) to declare war on porn. On the other, you have President Bush, who will be entertaining Mark Kulkis, president of Kick Ass Pictures - a hard core pornography producer and his companion, porn star Mary Carey. Ms Carey you might remember waged a high profile campaign for California governor based on her -um- considerable assets.
    “I’m hoping to run as Lieutenant Governor of California next year,” Carey said. “Since Arnold {Schwarzenegger} is a Republican, I thought this dinner would be a great networking opportunity for me.”

    “I’m honored to be invited to this event,” Kulkis said. “Republicans bill themselves as the pro-business party. Well, you won’t find a group of people more pro-business than pornographers. We contributed over $10 billion to the national economy last year.”
    The pair will be attending a dinner with President Bush in Washington, D.C. on June 14.
    "I’m especially looking forward to meeting Karl Rove," Carey added. "Smart men like him are so sexy. I know that he’s against gay marriage, but I think I can convince him that a little girl-on-girl action now and then isn’t so bad!"
    In light of Jeff Gannon already bringing boy-on-boy action to the White House press room, it seems likely to be an easy sell.
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    My kind of Christians

    Seems to me I remember when Bush originally accepted this gig as commencement speaker for Calvin College, a Christian campus that voted for him by 80% in the 04 elections, the feeling was it would be a cakewalk, not to mention a great photo op for our Misleader in Chief. However, it appears even here his "constituents" have wised up in the face of relentless abuse of power and a big fat protest over his appearance is in the works.

    "One-third of the faculty members have signed a letter of protest that will appear in a half-page ad in the Grand Rapids Press on Saturday, more than 800 students, faculty and alumni also have signed a letter protesting Bush's visit that will appear Friday as a full-page ad in the Grand Rapids paper and about 100 students are expected to adorn their graduation gowns with armbands and buttons bearing the slogan: "God is not a Republican or Democrat."
    "We are alumni, students, faculty and friends of Calvin College who are deeply troubled that you will be the commencement speaker at Calvin," the letter states. "In our view, the policies and actions of your administration, both domestically and internationally over the past four years, violate many deeply held principles of Calvin College."
    Good for them. Now the question becomes, will Bush show up in light of this news? I've got fifty cents that says he'll cancel at the last minute because of "pressing state business" like maybe another bike ride in Maryland.
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    Fox News failing

    It's been taking a while to get this blog rolling due to the blogger's illness and injury. I'm happy to report however, that The Impolitic is on the mend and here's a cheering piece of news thanks to the Fox News Hounds. It appears the Faux News station is losing its steam. Its viewers have declined by 58% since the November 04 elections and shows no signs of abating.

    Could it be that America has finally woken up and smelled the White House propaganda? We live in hope.
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    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Blind Faith

    The Moderate Voice has a pretty conservative take on the Newsweek retraction, linking to mostly I told you so righties who claim Newsweek jumped the gun to make Bush look bad. That's BS of course. Newsweek just caved to White House pressure and fear of consumer backlash. There's plenty of proof to back up the original allegation. I posted on this earlier today.

    Meanwhile, Joe posts a very interesting photoblog on the Free Muslims Against Terrorism rally in Washington, DC yesterday. He calls the event the success and I suppose it was but attendance was far from overwhelming. Nonetheless it's worth a look.
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    No reply

    Well Radley didn't respond to my post - I emailed it to him but I expected him to ignore me. All the big guys do, I think because I'm usually right when I challenge them.

    Nonetheless he posts on an disturbing story of a doctor who is set up by the DEA. I blogged on this here. And he also posts a gorgeous photo blog on the Public Market in Seattle.
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    Friday, May 13, 2005

    The Huffington Report

    I've heard a lot of rumors about Ann Coulter being transgendered and in fact have seen some pretty credible photographic evidence that would suggest she is indeed a former female impersonator that once plied his trade in Key West.

    Larry Gelbart, writer and producer of MASH among other hits, makes a fleeting reference to this curious theory in his rather vicious post at the Huffington celeblog today. He calls her, "this female and human impersonator." Maybe I'm reading too much into it but read the whole post for yourself and tell me that's not what he meant.

    Meanwhile, they had a piece on the newswire about Novak chickening out on a debate scheduled with Eric Alterman. Not surprising. That pompous old windbag always did strike me as gutless wonder. I couldn't resist leaving a comment.
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    He said - she answered

    Now don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of Radley Balko's The Agitator but he's way off base on this one.

    Radley Balko at the Agitator poses this question to the "left."
    Because most leftists I think would simultaneously oppose conservative efforts to impose "decency" on the country (correctly, I believe), but also support an election system that severely limits the amount of money a candidate can spend on campaign commercials (incorrectly). And that suggests they believe the First Amendment affords more protection for indecent content than it does for political content.

    This is how I answered in Detroit today.

    I don't get his logic. The first imposes a subjective standard on what can be said. The second merely imposes a limit to how many times you can bombard the public with the same message - not the language of the message. It seems to me that this in effect merely levels the playing field and affords more protection for all political speech.

    The current system favors the entrenched and does more to suppress alternative voices by merely drowning them out with a paid media blitz. All too often the candidate with the most money wins. This is why we can't get viable "third party" candidates. They can't afford to buy enough visibility to mount an effective challenge to the powers that be. Not to mention only the "Big Two" candidates get any appreciable attention gratis, from the media.

    Perhaps Radley could explain to this leftie why giving alternative candidates a fighting chance to be equally heard abridges the First Amendment?
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    State of the quagmire

    Juan Cole posts a link rich roundup of the current state of the Iraq quagmire picking up on what is one of the more under-reported aspects of US military "statistics."
    James Janega of the Chicago Tribune, embedded at the front, writes, "Though military commanders in Baghdad announced that 100 insurgent fighters were killed in the early fighting, along with three Marines, [Col.] Davis' figures were lower. He said "a couple of dozen" insurgents had been killed in Ubaydi, about 10 at another river crossing near Al Qaim, and several who were killed by air strikes north of the river. Other commanders said they had recovered few bodies but had seen blood trails that suggested insurgents were dragging away wounded or dead fighters." In other words, the claim of 100 guerrillas dead may or may not be true, but probably wasn't at the time it was given out.
    Meanwhile the pace of US troop fatalities continues to increase at an alarming rate. How embarassing that the "mightiest and most well equipped war machine" in the world can't defeat a ragtag band of insurgents. In fact, as my post at DetNews yesterday points out, the insurgency is in fact winning.
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    Please don't bother Bush with details

    A fascinating transcript of McLellan's press briefing on the White House evacuation is currently posted at Editor & Publisher. Here's the money quote.
    McCLELLAN: John, the protocols that we put in place after Sept. 11 were being followed. They did not require presidential authority for this situation. I think you have to look at each situation and the circumstances surrounding the situation. And that's what officials here at the White House were doing....

    Hello? Over 35,000 evacuated in DC and the protocols don't require the Commander in Chief of our nation to be involved? Why not? I mean what exactly consititutes a serious enough situation to tell him what's going on? Do even his handlers think he's so inept that it's better he doesn't know? Doesn't say much for our national security.
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    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Primitive Art

    Congo the painting chimp is receiving his long overdue 15 minutes of fame. For the first time ever, Bonhams, a prestigious London auction house will be offering the chimp art beside Andy Warhol and Renoir. And why not, he was a legitimate artist.
    Congo quickly learned how to handle a brush and pencils, instead of knocking them over or trying to eat them. He painted within the boundaries of the sheet of paper and never allowed the paint to spill over the edge. He also appeared to know when he had finished a painting: He refused to pick up his brush or pencil over the work.
    His paintings are actually pretty good. I've seen worse in the galleries. They say Picasso owned one.
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    The Blog PAC

    I joined the Blog PAC today. Talk Left is on the board and posted the link. I joined under Last One Speaks because The Impolitic is not nearly ready to debut yet and I don't have an RSS feed on either blog. I wish I understood what those are, maybe I could add one. I so need a computer geek in my life.

    Anyway, I love this concept. A political action committee of left wing bloggers to counter the right wing noise machine. We have to get louder because contrary to popular opinion, we don't have a liberal media. The MSM is in the right's pocket so we have to disseminate the message in less conventional ways. A lot of people on the left working on various vehicles for this and this is one of the best I've seen. I'm glad to be aboard. If you're a left wing blogger check it out
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    When stars get in your eyes

    So I'm cruising the celeblog at Huffington Report today and who do I find but Paul Krassner, my cyberacquaintance from a couple of discussion lists. I knew he was a cool guy from the 60s but who knew he still such a big star? I don't keep track of these things.

    He comes out of the gate with a great opening post.
    Kurt Vonnegut, my favorite Luddite, occasionally sends something my way via snail-mail. For example, his idea for a bumper sticker: “Your Planet’s Immune System Is Trying to Get Rid of You.” So I’m taking the liberty of sharing his latest thought-provoking missive here in cyberspace:

    Dearest Iraq: Act like me. After 100 years of democracy, let your slaves go. After 150, let your women vote. At the start of democracy, ethnic cleansing is quite OK. Love you madly! Uncle Sam

    It figures he would be a friend of Vonnegut who is also my favorite Luddite. He was living ten miles away from me for years and I never got to meet him. I did see him in lovely downtown Noho once but I'm not one to do the starstruck thing.

    We made eye contact, and in a long moment we both knew I recognized him and he clearly appreciated that I would let him get on with his errands without stopping him on the sidewalk. I always hoped I would eventually end up at a cocktail party with him though. Unforunately it never happened.
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    One Sentence Summaries

    Today's posts at the Detroit News.

    The EPA proposes the Clean Water Act, cleverly subtitled let them drink sewage.

    Gary Hart at the Huffington Report asks the $300 billion tax dollar question - If the exit plan is to withdraw all the troops, why are we building permanent military bases?

    Why is the Supreme Court stalled on Raich v. Ashcroft?

    Get the picture on Social Security - winning flash animation.
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    The Tongue Tied Archives

    This post is dedicated to Glenn Reynolds and Scott Norvell of Fox News. To Glenn because I wouldn't have found out about the gig if I hadn't read about on it on Instapundit and to Scott because he gave me the venue. For nine days I blogged at Tongue Tied, speaking truth to power on Scott's blog that appears once a week on the Fox News site. Once a week that is, except for the week I was there. They cancelled it that week.

    You can't easily find me in the archives either. Scott scrubbed my last posts from the regular rotation right after he kicked me off his blog but they still somehow live in the numbered archives. I collect them here mainly to have a link for Last One Speaks but also so they won't be lost altogether.

    No one was more surprised than me when Scott invited me to blog. It's not like he didn't know what he was getting into and he gave me carte blanche. It all started out innocently enough. My first post - Just dropped in was a simple introduction and a fair warning to the readers.

    I jumped into action with Under news management , taking a wary look at the Pentagon channel - all war propaganda, all the time.

    Lightening up the mood, I moved to Miller High Life, a report on the employee who was fired from the Miller brewing company for being photographed with a Budweiser in his hand.

    I weighed in on behalf of Clint Eastwood whose movie about the girl boxer was under fire from the right with an ridiculous allegation that it promoted euthanasia.

    On Valentine's Day, I blogged on My Funny Valentine, a radio promo that offered an no frills divorce as first prize.

    By this point, the right wing blogger had long disappeared and only Jim M., the other leftie, and I remained. We hadn't received a word of feedback. I saw the writing on the wall. This was a set-up and we weren't really going to be part of a new experiment at all. I figured we could be canned at any moment so I decided to go for broke.

    I started with Rove and roll, on Karl's promotion from behind the scenes guy to policy advisor and his reported trip to the mideast under his new title. Odd I never saw any press on that trip.

    I had to get the drug war in and as luck would have it, Andrea Barthwell had just embarked on her traveling con job, selling prohibition against natural medical marijuana. That's not to be confused with her new job selling Sativex - synthetic marijuana produced by a pharmaceutical company - as a medicine.

    I started really crossing the line with Love or money, breaking the story on Jeff Gannon when only Ameriblog and Raw Story first published it and followed up with Dirty little secrets where I also scolded Pennywit. I didn't read PW at the time but we engaged in a most interesting and pleasant conversation afterwards and I check his blog regularly now.

    I then moved on to Disaster profiteering, dissing a lawsuit arising out the tsunami.

    Going for human interest, I then posted on Going to the dogs, on the sale of a picture of dogs playing poker, you remember the one I mean, it was a very popular advertising image in the 50s, that sold for millions at auction. This one was apparently linked to by other sites and made a good showing for Scott on the blogdex.

    Moving back to the war on some drugs, I posted One pill makes you larger, pointing to a horrendous story on the new fad in psyche circles of diagnosing kindergarten kids as bi-polar and drugging them with powerful anti-psychotics.

    Then came Daddy Government knows best on Al Gonzales and his declared war on porn.

    I took on political bias on campus next with Wanting it both ways, looking at the right's desire to shut down political speech of leftie professors while wanting to protect right wing students.

    The lack of action on voting machine fraud by the GOP had just surfaced at that time. This by the way is a problem that is still unaddressed by the Bush administration.

    I really let out the stops on the appointment of Negroponte as head of the new intelligence bureau in Same thugs, different administration.

    With Rough draft I exposed the Bush administration's preparations for a potential resurrection of the military draft - something that's still on the back burner in this administration.

    At this point, Joseph Braude of the New Republic starting sending me links and I blogged on Eygpt and free elections and why we shouldn't be in too big a hurry to push Mubarak into having them.

    I ended with this post. I think this was probably the last straw. It kind of falls under the heading of biting the hand that feeds you. I took on Clear Channel with Now hear this, mocking those chicken hawks for dissing Air America and then caving in and putting their programming on air because it draws more listeners.

    Scott emailed the next day and said the reader feedback was all negative and we were out. Like that was a surprise. I clearly told him that was exactly what would happen. In fact I pitched myself for the gig in the first place on the premise that negative feedback would build traffic but nonetheless, I tried to be gracious with my goodbye post.

    Scott unfortunately didn't rise to the same level. His return post was beyond insulting. I wasn't pissed off when he fired me. It was almost a relief but I was really peeved when he intimated to his readers that we had hijacked the blog. He should have thanked us for filling in. In the end, the whole sorry scheme felt like a cheap ploy to get his readers to contribute. He clearly never intended to change the format of his blog to include a left wing perspective.

    It was disappointing because he made a lot of promises about the future and because he talked like such a reasonable man that I thought I had finally found an honest right winger. I was pretty excited to be working with him. Guess it just goes to show you can't really trust a Fox news guy, especially one in Libertarian clothing.

    In any event, no hard feelings. I vented all those at Last One Speaks shortly thereafter, which inspired a somewhat lively exchange between TongueTied regs and LOS readers. It was good to find out who my friends are and on the balance it was fun. Speaking truth to power can be rather intoxicating and it's a pretty good credential for my blogging CV. In my circles, the honor lies in getting kicked off rather than compromising to get into the cabal.

    So I'm really sincere when I say thanks Glenn. Thanks Scott. It was worth it for me. Hope it worked for you.
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    Monday, May 09, 2005

    New blog in town

    Arianna Huffington launched her new blog today, The Huffington Report. It's glitzy but I like it.

    Imagine Drudge as attractive and interesting with Kossacks arriving in limos, sipping champagne and caviar. It feels kind of like that.

    With 300 celebrity bloggers, the blog will be more than any one person can read in a lifetime but the newswire is well designed, easily interactive and featured out of the ordinary stories. I really like that she opened with Gannon on that side. I left our first comment as The Impolitic there to commemorate the occasion.
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    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    Meet the slime beetles - bushi, cheneyi and rumsfeldi

    Here's a honor for team Bush that seems well deserved. Three different species of slime beetles have been named afer Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    Quentin Wheeler keeper and head of entomology at the Natural History Museum in London, who bestowed these honors, said the U.S. leaders were being honored for having "the courage of their convictions."

    Hard to know what he meant by that when he named them after insects that feed on rotting fungi but anything associated with slime feels like an appropriate tribute to me.
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    Political censorship via spam filtering

    This disturbing link came up in my discussion lists this week. I always suspected that it was only a matter of time before the government would figure out how to corrupt the internet. They were slow in coming but they have arrived and here's the evidence.
    After some frustrating email exchanges with the person in charge of my ISP, I had a face-to-face meeting with two of the very senior people in that unit.

    They confirmed that not only Spam Manager and AOL, but other ISP spam filters world-wide, use the same black list, which is US-based. It also transpired that the whole drive for this had come from the US administration. (I understand that the US has applied pressure on all concerned to use that US-based black list.) This black list is fed into a program that automatically filters and defines as "spam" message containing blacklisted item.

    Apparently, the black list consists of "offensive" email addresses, URLs (addresses of websites), words and phrases. Of course, most of these are really politically neutral and their presence on the black list quite legitimate, or at least acceptable. But the black list evidently also contains items whose presence there is politically motivated. The two senior people whom I met were unable to tell me what exact criteria are used for blacklisting: apparently this is a Great Commercial Secret, which is a sealed book even to them.

    But they confirmed that it would be possible for some malicious person (or, more likely, group of persons), motivated by political hostility, to complain to their ISP that, say, some website contains "offensive" material, thereby causing the URL of this website to be blacklisted. Or -- even more disturbing -- Big Bushy Brother Himself can order an item to be blacklisted. Undoubtedly, this is used to stifle and muzzle "inconvenient" political discourse, mainly concerned with the violation of human rights and displaying disrespect to BBB.
    Remembering the seizure of the Indymedia servers in England last year by US agents, I have no doubt the Pax Americans are meddling here and this is only the beginning. They've only just figured out how powerful a tool the internet is for "the people." They'll be working on other ways to thwart us.
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