The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, May 22, 2004

2 TO 1, RIGHT?

Today, President Bush fell off his bike.

So that's one bike for Kerry, compared to one bike and one Segway for Bush. And a pretzel. Wonder who's winning the klutz primary there...

Anyway, after Bush tumbled, a number of people made the same joke, humorously linking it to Bush's recent speech to Republican lawmakers on Iraq, saying that "Iraqis were ready to take the training wheels off" and begin self-governing.

According to Drudge (always a suspect 3-word phrase), Kerry made a similar joke.
President fell off bike today... Kerry told reporters in front of cameras, 'Did the training wheels fall off?'... Reporters are debating whether to treat it is as on or off the record... Developing...
Note that Drudge does not provide the context of Kerry's alleged joke. Without said context, those who read it but didn't hear about Bush's GOP pep talk would think that Kerry was impugning Bush's intelligence, motor skills, or something along those lines.

Bush made a speech which involved a bicycle metaphor, and the next day he had a bike accident. How could anybody, let alone John Kerry, pass that one up?

Tom Maguire, along those lines, says:
That might have provided the inspiration for Kerry's attempt at humor; I suspect that will be the explanation, anyway.
Incoming message from the Kerry camp: Duh.

Also from Tom's post, he provides a link to some context regarding Bush's bike-riding:
Bush has been bicycling more since a painful right knee late last year forced him to cut back on his usual jogging. The Secret Service recently refurbished its fleet of mountain bikes at the ranch.
Excuse me, "fleet"? Does he zip around the ranch in a bicycle motorcade? Eh, maybe I should just give him a break. At least it associates him with a zero-emission vehicle.

A development yesterday that I'd like to mention from my simulated congress class, UCSB's famous PS 155, or "SimCong".

--In yesterday's final meeting of the Energy & Environment Committee, the Republican majority pulled a fast one on us. On this occasion two Republicans members were absent, so for once we were on solid footing with them (4 D's, 3 R's) and could potentially stand in the way of the more objectionable bills that might have been introduced.

Early in the session, we were to discuss a bill cosponsored by Representatives Waxman (Alex) and Wexler (Jordan), expanding the Medicare prescription drug benefit. (by the way, because of the class' smaller-than-actual-congress size, the committees were clumped, so the energy committee dealt with health care legislation) Waxman, a member of our committee, began his testimony on the bill, but amid questions as to the bill's cost ($850 Billion) and over how many years that cost would be distributed, he asked to postpone debate on his bill so he could fetch Wexler who was on two flights of stairs away in another committee.

Literally seconds after Waxman left the room, one of the missing Republicans, Jim Kolbe, suddenly shows up, meaning that there were now 4 Republicans present and 3 Democrats.

Waxman was gone for, I'd say, three minutes. In that time, we got railroaded by the Republican majority. Orchestrated by our chair, and over the objections of all three remaining Dems, myself included, Representative Judy Biggert (Shawn) the Republicans altered the agenda to hear a bill which would open the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to extensive oil drilling. Debate on the bill was cut off immediately, as the Republican majority went straight to vote, again over our objections. The three of us, myself (Kucinich), Chris (old man Dingell) and Jesus (Pallone) were aghast.

Fortunately, the House Republicans made the mistake of appointing a level-headed moderate (Gilcrest) to chair the Rules committee, so he'll likely approve rules that compensate us Dems for what happened.
Kevin Drum notes that Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is trying to block same-sex marriages in his state by invoking a 90-year-old law in his state that was originally put in place to stop interracial marriages.

I guess he can start a "straight citizens council" while he's at it.

Michael Moore wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes for Fahrenheit 9/11.

Friday, May 21, 2004


Tom Maguire -- a charter member of TFM's prestigious "righties who seem civil" blogroll -- tries really, really hard to present some form of contradiction on the part of John Kerry regarding abortion.

The evidence he cites is this AP account.

There are a great many reasons for any Democratic senator to regret the confirmation of Scalia, going far beyond just his stance on abortion. The thrust of Kerry's point, anywhere you quote him, is that when an appointment comes up (and he'll be nominating and not advising/consenting as a Senator does) that has a direct impact on the future of legal choice for women, he will be the one at the wall, a la Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.

Maguire also takes a moment to highlight the Iraq portion of the AP piece:
"It will not be like Vietnam," Kerry said. "I will get our troops home from Iraq with honor and with the interests of our country properly protected."

How soon? "It will not take long to do what is necessary. I'm not going to give you a specific date, but I'll tell you that I have a plan and I will put that plan in place." Republican Richard M. Nixon used similar language during the 1968 presidential race, but the war dragged on for years after his election.
Stop the presses! Suddenly comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam are valid! And this happened right when one detrimental to Kerry's candidacy came up! What a shocking coincidence!

Look, Kerry of all people does not need to be lectured by a wire service about Richard Nixon; he knows all about the man. And for AP's (and Tom's) analogy to hold true, Kerry would have to commence bombing campaigns in Syria, Jordan and Iran.

Iraq is similar to Vietnam in some respects, and dissimilar in others. One way in which it is dissimilar is the tone of the mission to which we aspire, at least our announced one: Democracy, pluralism, individual freedoms, and so on. (by contrast, our goals in Vietnam had more to do with the containment of Communism first, and the promotion of anticommunist values second) Sure, it was a cabal of neocons who got us into this and subsequently fucked it up so badly, but now we need to clean up that mess.

The "honor" to which Kerry refers means more than "not being perceived as losing a war". It means continuing our efforts in a manner that respects the inalienable rights of every human being, and not approving secret policies to abuse, torture, rape and humiliate the very people we currently occupy. It means no more bullyish, exclusivist acts that piss off our allies and divide the world, and no more sweetheart no-bid giveaways. It means no more trying to win on the cheap. Kerry has consistently called for more troop strength in Iraq, while Bush has kicked and screamed and fought hard against even minimal increases for a long time.

Lost in the silliness of AP's "plan" observation is that aside from repeating the arbitrary "June 30! June 30!" over and over, with a side order of "stay the course", our current President has not given us any real indication of having a plan of his own.

By the way, how did Nixon phrase it? Oh yeah: "Secret plan to end the war". And gee, I could swear that one of Kerry's recent campaign ads began with him saying "Let me tell you exactly what I would do to change the situation in Iraq..."

In the process of writing this post, the clock struck midnight, and my "link to righties" project swiftly turned into a pumpkin.
I have to break my rule, because I must link to Roger Ailes. If it were the other Roger, I'd still be Kosher, but oh well, close enough.

Anyway, Roger has an amusing photo essay of sorts about everybody's favorite neocon ally. Complete with the appropriate musical accompaniment.
or, the painfully fitting

Jack, in the comments to my post announcing my link-to-righties project, says:
I'll have to post something really fascist so you'll link to it!
So far he's kept it pretty un-fascist over there (though the rules I laid out suggest that I'm less likely to link to overtly fascist stuff). But he does turn up the snark a bit on this niblet:
Send them to Abu Ghraib

'Four arrested in Iraq for Berg killing' - headline, Associated Press.

A cheap shot, I admit, but if you are going to have a Ministry of Truth you might as well use it on the right people.
I'm pretty sure he means Ministry of Love, but the snark stands.

Engaging snark countermeasures: One consequence of Jack's hypothetical sentence is that it would cause the Berg and Abu Ghraib stories to merge, thereby depriving certain people of the ability to complain that one story is getting more coverage than the other.

Of course, since the House just voted to demolish Abu Ghraib, the suspects could only, as Hamlet put it, suffer "in the mind".*

One more thing that hinders the fantasy: According to the AP story, two of the men arrested were released after questioning, and two others are still being questioned.

* - In the "to be or not to be" speech, the prepositional phrase "in the mind" alters "suffer", and not "nobler". Did y'all know that?
Quick, who said this?
Did you know that under the USA Patriot Act, the Department of Justice can obtain a warrant to read the e-mail or library or academic records of university students, staff or faculty? And that all the agency has to do to get the warrant is say that the information is related to an investigation involving espionage or terrorism?

It's true. And what's more, the Department of Justice can do it in secret, without ever telling the subject of the investigation that it did so. That latter provision is particularly troubling, because if the subject doesn't know about the search, then there's no one to challenge it in court. No one, that is, unless the custodian of the documents at the university is himself or herself prepared to say no.
Dennis Kucinich? Russ Feingold?

The next paragraph should tell you:
It's an outrageous invasion of privacy and a violation of academic freedom. That is why the UC Berkeley Faculty Senate took a stand against it by a vote of 105 to 0, with no abstentions, on May 6.

We voted — at my urging and that of several other professors — because of a fundamental constitutional question raised by the provision: Does a search of a student's or staff member's e-mail or a faculty member's library records, based simply on the Justice Department's saying that it is "related to" an investigation of terrorism, satisfy the 4th Amendment's requirement that "no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause"? The Patriot Act does not require any showing of probable cause. Is that constitutional?
Someone from the Berkeley faculty. Lakoff? Ted Kaczinsky? (hehe)

Nope, that would be longtime Republican California State Senator Tom Campbell, former human sacrifice GOP Senate candidate against Dianne Feinstein, and now dean of the prestigious and selective Hass School of Business. (link via calstuff)

In my PS155 mock congress, we just passed an extention of the Patriot Act (despite my passionate speech in opposition), so this has been on my mind as of late. It's quite interesting that when people are in a position where the Patriot Act could have a direct significant effect on them, opposition to it expands far beyond the "out-of-step liberals", as the Bushies put it, and transcends ideology. And in general, civil libertarian-oriented conservatives have as much a problem with the law as many Democrats do.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Over at Tacitus, contributor Von rightly pours scorn upon Denny Hastert's criticism of John McCain.
I also remember a time when conservatives sought to portray themselves the steely-eyed realists, the pragmatists, and the ones who did not flinch from reality. They were the ones who would say, "you cannot have it all; you must choose -- and pay for your choice." And I always thought that people of good character -- whatever their political stripe -- would not go to war unless they were willing to, yes, undertake the sacrifices necessary to win.

It ain't that tough to understand, folks: Hastert (and what he represents) is wrong, and his values are neither "conservative" nor "Republican" values.
(The Hastert/McCain story can be found here. If you haven't heard and are link-phobic, basically, Hastert criticized McCain, a former POW in Vietnam, for saying that it's time for Americans to step up and make sacrifices regarding the war, as a part of solving the current budget stalemate in Congress. In doing so, Hastert jokingly questioned McCain's Republican credentials, which is an interesting thing to do because McCain was arguing in favor of fiscal sanity.)

Frankly, I'm confused as to what the political utility of Republicans trashing McCain is. Do they really want to Jeffords this guy? If I were Hastert, or Bush for that matter, I'd definitely prefer having McCain be nominally for a 2nd Bush term than actively against it. I still put the odds of Kerry-McCain at around 5% though.
I agree with Henry Hanks (a rarity) that Kerry's new slogan -- "Let America Be America Again" -- sucks.

Of course, all we have to go on regarding the slogan is Drudge so this could just be a trial balloon of some sort.

As a general rule, don't use a multi-syllable word twice in one slogan unless you're the little guy from Little Ceasar's.

Daniel Drezner, in the process of discussing a subscribers-only article from the New Republic, outlines the various "tribes" of conservatives and where they currently stand on the Iraq war. He also ponders, now that Chalabi and the Bushies have had a significant falling-out*, whether the hard-ass neocons will gravitate towards George or Ahmed. The 2nd update at the end of his post could be the answer to that question.

The four groups of conservatives he points out are:
1) "The Neo-Paleos: We Shoulda Known": Burkean conservatives who never bought the democracy-building line, but did by the "Iraq has WMD" line (George F. Will, Tucker Carlson, Fareed Zakaria);

2) "The Neo-Neocons: Operation Chalabihorse": True-blue believers convinced that Colin Powell is the devil and Ahmed Chalabi is the answer to all of the troubles in Iraq (Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, Michael Rubin, David Frum, Laurie Mylroie).

3) "The Standard Neocons: Dude, Where's My Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy?" Cared more about democracy-building than WMD but are flummoxed by the Bush/Rumsfeld insistence on insufficient troops strength, suspecting that this is due to an aversion to casualties that impairs the mission (William Kristol, Robert Kagan, David Brooks, Andrew Sullivan, and yes, Daniel Drezner).

4) "The Neo-Imperialist: Bush Gets the Boot from Boot": Gung-ho empire-builders that share the Standard Neocons' discontent with the Bush administration -- but unlike them, believe that constructive engagement with the Bush administration is pointless, and have gone full frontal with their criticism (Max Boot, Niall Ferguson)
I don't think that group #1 fully encapsulates paleo-conservatism regarding Iraq though. So I'll add a group or two, since I have mastered the art of numbering paragraphs as well...
5) "The Boom-Boom Hybrid Neocons: Democracy from Parking Lots": Neocons with paleo-conservative impulses (or vice versa) who argued frequently that a large component of our success in Iraq would hinge on a large, iron-fisted show of force, because blowing stuff up is respected in the Arab world, or something like that, and other local countries would be scared into democratizing (VD Hanson maybe?).

6) "Unreformed Paleos: Nuke the Sunni Triangle!": Far-righties, possibly isolationist conservatives, who weren't necessarily down with either the WMD angle or the democratization angle, but now that we are there, wouldn't mind us blowing up some stuff while we're at it (Buchananites, Trent Lott in his own words, and plenty of talk-radio types)
And escaping the confines of the Washington establishment,
7) "Horribly Misinformed Conservatives: Avenge September 11th!"
(note: I do intend to continue being snarky during this experiment, so don't worry)

* - Something tells me Chalabi has gone to his last State of the Union address.

I'm going to shake up this blog, at least for the next couple of days. From now until midnight tomorrow night (Pacific Time), all of my posts will link to right-wing bloggers and news sources.

There are a couple of rules here. One is that my links will all go to posts and articles that I deem worthwhile and interesting, or perhaps with which I agree. I wont be expressing my outrage, or my outrage at outrage, or my outrage at outrage at outrage at any point during this project.

Another rule is no cheating. I will not be linking to AP stories hosted at Fox News, for example. A consequence of this is that I'm not sure if I'll be covering any breaking news stories during this project, so if you're one of those people who uses this blog as their primary source of news, 1) Stop that! and 2) If you wont stop, look elsewhere for now.

Okay, this should be fun...

Breaking news from AP.
U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police surrounded the residence of Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi on Thursday, and an aide said the troops raided the house ostensibly to search for fugitives.

The aide, Haidar Musawi, accused the Americans of trying to pressure Chalabi, a longtime Pentagon favorite who has become openly critical of U.S. plans for how much power to transfer to the Iraqis on June 30.

He said the Americans also raided offices of Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

"The aim is to put political pressure," Musawi told The Associated Press. "Why is this happening at a time when the government is being formed?"

There was no comment from the U.S. military press office.Police sealed off the residence in the city's fashionable Mansour district and would not allow reporters to approach. At least two Humvees could be seen, with a dozen U.S. troops milling about.

Some people could be seen loading boxes into vehicles, and neighbors said some members of Chalabi's entourage were taken away.

Salem Chalabi, nephew of Ahmad Chalabi and head of the Iraqi war crimes tribunal, said his uncle told him by telephone that Iraqi and American authorities "entered his home and put the guns to his head in a very humiliating way that reminds everyone of the conduct of the former regime."
Boy, this is sure an elaborate way of telling someone that they won't be receiving their monthly paycheck.

By the time I wake up tomorrow, all of this will make more sense, I trust. Perhaps Chalabi's duplicity and opportunism has finally come back to bite him and the INC. In the end, he and the neocons he duped (and who, in turn, duped us into war) deserve each other.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

My site is finally up and running, so you can download my songs there from now on. The url is:
I will be adding songs to it with some frequency.
Via Drudge, Alexandra Kerry's rack is a huge search buzz.

The obvious conclusion to draw is that the American people are upset that the Elite Media are downplaying Kerry in favor of hyping the Abu Ghraib prison abuses. Right, Glenn?

Interesting how the Bushies try to paint Kerry as a flip-flopper, when stuff like this is out there:
Like many of its predecessors, the Bush White House has used the machinery of government to promote the re-election of the president by awarding federal grants to strategically important states. But in a twist this election season, many administration officials are taking credit for spreading largess through programs that President Bush tried to eliminate or to cut sharply.

For example, Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers. Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program, known as Community Oriented Policing Services, by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million.

The administration has been particularly energetic in publicizing health programs, even ones that had been scheduled for cuts or elimination.

Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, announced recently that the administration was awarding $11.7 million in grants to help 30 states plan and provide coverage for people without health insurance. Mr. Bush had proposed ending the program in each of the last three years.

The administration also announced recently that it was providing $11.6 million to the states so they could buy defibrillators to save the lives of heart attack victims. But Mr. Bush had proposed cutting the budget for such devices by 82 percent, to $2 million from $10.9 million.

Whether they involve programs Mr. Bush supported or not, the grant announcements illustrate how the administration blends politics and policy, blurring the distinction between official business and campaign-related activities.
Given the content of the article, that last paragraph is UNBELIEVABLY polite to Bush.

More from later in Robert Pear's piece:
The contrast between politics and policy is particularly striking when the administration takes credit for spending money appropriated by Congress against the president's wishes.

In April, Secretary Thompson announced that the administration was awarding $3.1 million in grants to improve health care in rural areas of Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico and New York. He did not mention that the administration was trying to cut the same rural health program by 72 percent, to $11.1 million next year, from $39.6 million.

Mr. Thompson likewise recently boasted that the administration was awarding $16 million to 11 universities to train blacks and Hispanic Americans as doctors, dentists and pharmacists. But at the same time, the administration was urging Congress to abolish the program, on the ground that "private and corporate entities" could pay for training.
The article itself is frustratingly written, because it seems to be two interwoven articles going back and forth: One on the duplicity of the Bush administration boasting about various programs, the other about the politics of Bush's travel schedule. Obviously, the bits I excerpted come from the first of those two.
Via Chris Bowers of MyDD, in case you didn't notice, there were a few primaries today.

Dennis Kucinich virtually camped out in Oregon for the last little while, and his efforts have landed him around 16% of the Dem primary vote, a not-insubstantial amount. His hardcore constituency is a significant and important one, and while numbers like this are not comparable to Pat Buchanan's showing in the 1992 NH Primary in terms of popular interpretation, they are significant nonetheless.

Meanwhile in the Arkansas primary, what the hell is LaRouche doing over 5%, and right on Kucinich's tail? True, Arkansas has an open primary, but yeesh!

Lastly, the numbers from Kentucky look as if these primary results were recorded on Super Tuesday but got lost inside the couch for 11 weeks. And for the first time, Lieberman beats Dean. Sigh.

Okay, there is no doubt that the massive reorganization of Abu Ghraib prison is a Good Thing, and an act closer to the high standard to which America should hold itself.

Inmates there, who sleep on wooden floors, will be moved to "Camp Redemption," a more modern tented site that opened last week. Tents there will have concrete floors and cots. There are plans to provide mattresses and pillows. And to cope with summer temperatures of 130 degrees or more, electricity is being put in for air conditioning or fans.
"Camp Redemption"?

Okay okay, yes it's true that the Iraqi Governing Council apparently approved that name. (the U.S.-created-and-controlled IGC, of course) And yes, re-naming the prison seems like an impossible task with a very thin line between subtlety and gross hilarity/embarassment. But jeez, that name couldn't be more Orwelian if O'Brien himself was inside one of those tents, resettling his spectacles on his nose.

But putting that aside, isn't this something of a misnomer? After all, the Red Cross report said that 70-90% of those who were arrested were jailed by mistake. If you're incarcerated for absolutely nothing, then you don't need to be redeemed.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum, like, totally steals my idea. Well, probably not. Great minds think alike, baby!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

KG is really, really sorry edition

The Minnesota Timberwolves' mild-mannered power forward/franchise (and college graduate, I might add) Kevin Garnett said some things he regrets:
Kevin Garnett apologized Tuesday for making references to guns and saying he was "ready for war" in Game 7 between Minnesota and Sacramento.

"Sincerely, I apologize for my comments earlier," the Timberwolves forward told reporters after practice. "I didn't mean to offend anybody."

The Wolves and Kings play Wednesday night in Minneapolis for the right to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. On Monday, the league's Most Valuable Player was asked about the magnitude of a game that will decide a series marked by trash talking and hard fouls.

"This is it," he responded. "It's for all the marbles. I'm sitting in the house loading up the pump, I'm loading up the Uzis, I've got a couple of M-16s, couple of nines, couple of joints with some silencers on them, couple of grenades, got a missile launcher. I'm ready for war."

Afterward, Garnett said he met with the team's public relations staff and discussed his remarks.

"It was one-sided thinking on my part, but I'm man enough to admit it," he said. Garnett specifically mentioned veterans and families with loved ones serving in Iraq in his apology.

"I'm a young man and I understand when I'm appropriate, and this is totally inappropriate. I was totally thinking about basketball, not reality."

League spokesman Tim Frank said the NBA wouldn't discipline Garnett.

"Kevin understood he shouldn't have said some of things he said," Frank said. "We're just glad he set the record straight today."
First of all, Garnett's comment was pretty detailed -- a lot of specific weapons and accessories to remember -- so one can't imagine that his comment was wholly spontaneous and uncalculated.

That aside, this raises a larger issue regarding the intersection of sports and the real world. The issue in question is the use of war/heroism rhetoric in sports, and its appropriateness.

Behind the issue, of course, is a checkered history of such intersections of war and sports. Munich comes to mind, as does Ali's relinquishing of his heavyweight title, the brief 1969 war between Honduras and El Salvador that was partially ignited by football riots, and most recently the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.

In the immediate aftermath of September 11th, sports in America went through a period of soul-searching. Sportswriters of all shapes and sizes wrote unusually sincere, irony-free columns on how meaningless, insensitive and, well, "september 10th" the idea of referring to athletes as warriors and heroes had become. Sure, Kurt Warner worked his way up from bagging groceries to winning a Super Bowl, but he was no Todd Beamer or regular Joe from Ladder 10. And sure, Ray Lewis and Tie Domi are headhunters in their respective sports, but neither has acted heroically in live fire. (well, maybe Ray, if you count speeding away in a limo) Such observations were completely understandable and defensible.

But KG has now thrown a wrench (with a silencer) into that whole scheme. What are we to do?

I'll tell ya: We should celebrate KG's quote, even though he apologized for it.

Why? Because sports is combat, and it is war. What were the athletic spectacles in the Roman Empire? Gladiators! They fight and kill eachother! They fight and kill lions and tigers! They come from Australia to play Spaniard Romans who speak with British accents!

Since that time, sports have become more humane by leaps and bounds. Deaths in sports are exceedingly rare. Never have professional athletes worn more safety gear. Sure, there's an occasional rodeo animal, Spanish bull or Afghan goat's head. And horses being "destroyed" for having a bum leg. Shit. Wait, don't let this cloud my point! Forget everything about this paragraph and just read the first couple sentences, which for the most part hold true.

Combine the above with a second idea: Sports are, in general, a redirection of the competitive energy that would have been oriented towards armed, deadly combat in other circumstances. The more prolific rivalries in sports have within them some of the same aggressive, bellicose emotions that are found in war. But those feelings, which could have otherwise been manipulated in a 2 Minutes Hate in another place and time, are redirected, quite nicely, into a controlled, humane arena. And that arena, in KG's case, is Arco Arena.

Now, the flipside of this issue, the one about which liberals and other upstanding Americans should be concerned, is that while sports are a good testosterone redirection mechanism, they can also distract large populations of otherwise-conscientious Americans from some of the real issues that affect both them and the world. That is a legitimate concern, but one that can wait for another post. This is my war-rhetoric post, thank you very much.

So, sports (particularly team sports) are basically war through other humane means. With that in mind, bring on the war rhetoric! If we tell athletes to compete all out, but then frown on bellicose rhetoric, that's a strange mixed message on our part. Hell, Lisa Beamer gets it: she praised Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden for using her late husband's semi-trademarked "Let's Roll" as his team's motto for the 2002 season.

Of course, if Garnett had said "It's for all the marbles. I'm sitting in the house loading up the camera, I've got a couple of head-sized bags, couple of broomsticks, couple of wires with some electrodes on them, couple of pairs of women's underwear, got attack dogs and a tampon. I'm ready for interrogation, or, er, war!" . . . then he'd have a problem with some other people.

Is there an Abu Ghraib cover-up? Appears likely, says ABC News:
Dozens of soldiers — other than the seven military police reservists who have been charged — were involved in the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and there is an effort under way in the Army to hide it, a key witness in the investigation told ABCNEWS.

"There's definitely a cover-up," the witness, Sgt. Samuel Provance, said. "People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet."

Provance, 30, was part of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion stationed at Abu Ghraib last September. He spoke to ABCNEWS despite orders from his commanders not to.

"What I was surprised at was the silence," said Provance. "The collective silence by so many people that had to be involved, that had to have seen something or heard something."

Provance, now stationed in Germany, ran the top secret computer network used by military intelligence at the prison.

He said that while he did not see the actual abuse take place, the interrogators with whom he worked freely admitted they directed the MPs' rough treatment of prisoners.

"Anything [the MPs] were to do legally or otherwise, they were to take those commands from the interrogators," he said.

Top military officials have claimed the abuse seen in the photos at Abu Ghraib was limited to a few MPs, but Provance says the sexual humiliation of prisoners began as a technique ordered by the interrogators from military intelligence.

"One interrogator told me about how commonly the detainees were stripped naked, and in some occasions, wearing women's underwear," Provance said. "If it's your job to strip people naked, yell at them, scream at them, humiliate them, it's not going to be too hard to move from that to another level."
We'll see how this story develops. If the reporting done by Sy Hersh and by Newsweek -- which has a lot of overlap -- is to be believed, then why anybody was taken in by the "just seven guys" excuse is beyond me.
Crooked Timber's Ted Barlow catches Hitchens in a bit of misdirection regarding the reporting of Sy Hersh.

Today is a TFM travel day, so more posting either in the next hour or two, or tonight.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Dear Washington Times,

What's with the quote marks? Care to explain them?


So a grown woman who isn't running for elected office wore a revealing dress. Your point, everybody?

Of course, both Kerry daughters have respect for the rule of law, so that isn't exactly an avenue that can be usefully pursued by the right, given the compelling transgressions of a certain over-18 pair of twins I could mention...

I'm so sorry. I feel so entirely terrible for so many people tonight. What people? Heterosexual married couples. I'm afraid that your sacred committments to each other have been eternally, and irrevocably rendered meaningless. This is the end of heterosexual marriage. You all might as well just pack your stuff and go live in a cave somewhere. Those God-forsaken gays have brought down your civil society and destroyed your marriage.

In a related story, Reverend Jerry Falwell will be delivering Bush's next PDB.

Okay, okay.

In all seriousness, I am very, very happy about these developments, as our nation has moved one step closer to equal rights for all Americans. Conservatives should note that churches and religious institutions are not being forced to conduct these ceremonies. In short, hooray for Massachusetts.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

David Adesnik of OxBlog makes essentially the same point I made as to why Abu Ghraib is (and should be) a bigger story than Nick Berg, while also making another interesting point about the subjective obligations of journalists. (link via yglesias)