A victory for equality

New Jersey made the right decision, morally and judicially. From CNN's coverage:

"'The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people,' the court said in its 4-3 ruling."

The court was right to leave the ulimate decision up to the legislature whether to approve gay marriage or civil unions. But how heartening it is to hear them declare that homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals. This is a step forward, an important step but also not a radical or activist one. I don't know how it will affect the election, but for now, let's hope it's a turning point in how we view gays. No more second class citizenship, at least in New Jersey.

Don't forget about San Francisco

New Jersey Court to soon decide about gay marriage

Please, please, please not right before the election.

But anyway, here's to hoping they make the right choice.


Speaker Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi was just on 60 Minutes. The subject was a possible Democratic House, and thus, a possible Majority Leader Pelosi.

My ideas on November 7th are documented below. I would love to see a Democratic chamber of Congress and some balance in DC. But Pelosi is a ridiculous partisan hack. I certainly don't blame the Republicans for using her in the same way the Democrats use Bush.

Leslie Stahl did a good job of pointing out that, despite her repeated calls for unity and civility, she's one of the most partisan people in Washington. She has called the Republican leadership a gang of criminals, endlessly corrupt.

You may well be right Mrs. Pelosi, but don't tell us you're bringing a vision of unity.

She then said Iraq was not part of the war on terror. "What is," asked Stahl. "Afghanistan," she responded.

What kind of ridiculous nonsense is this? It can be argued that Iraq was not a part of the war on terror before we went in, but to argue that it still isn't? That it's still a diversion? Do they get newspapers in Washington?

A Democratic House?

Slate's election meter

Most polls and trends showing the House and Senate going blue, blue, blue. Virtually all the toss-ups are leaning Democrat, and a lot of the races that nine months ago would have been thought of as safely red are very close.

I'm not registered to either party, but it has never been clearer to me (and a lot of voters) that it is time for a change in Washington. Are there any issues, any at all, where we're going in the right direction? Anything to be proud of?

The situation in Iraq? Our impotence towards Iran and North Korea? The cost of college? The national debt? How's paying that off going, Congress?

I'm skeptical of a Democratic House, but that's just fine. Because they can not screw up any worse. It isn't possible.

It can't be...



Dahr Jamail, who has been publishing fantastic independent reporting from Iraq for some time now, refers to the latest casualty count in Iraq.

"It is the single most important statistic regarding the illegal USinvasion and occupation of Iraq. How many Iraqis have been killed?


655,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I have worked for eight months in Iraq as a journalist, witnessing thecarnage on a daily basis, visiting the morgues with bodies and bodyparts piled into them, meeting family after family who had lost a lovedone, or more ... Finally, we get an accurate figure that shows howimmense the scale of the long drawn carnage really is."

What about Ohio?

A new poll was released today. Of particular interest is the latest information regarding Ohio.

“In November 2004, 76 percent of white evangelical Christians in Ohio voted for Mr. Bush. When asked in this poll whether they approve or disapprove of the job Mr. Bush is doing as president, 49 percent approved while 45 percent disapproved.”

Simply astonishing.

Free expression or symbol of bigotry?

Blair calls Muslim veils a "mark of separation"

Blair is right. In addition to highlighting the growing cultural divide in Europe, the burka and veil are symbols of oppression of women and bigotry. Certainly not all Muslim women view them that way, but then I guess we wouldn't know what they really think, would we?


The savior

Barack Obama in 2008?

I like Barack Obama. I don't know if there is anyone who doesn't like him. But I don't know if he could be president in two years. He has too little experience at a time when it seems like our country needs that more and more.

He is a charismatic person and good speaker, but so is John Edwards. I guess I don't understand the fuss just yet.


Murdoch moving left?

This piece from The New Yorker is full of wonderful little nuggets of information.

Of particular interest is the way author John Cassidy points out that Murdoch tends to find political friends based on who will be in power, and not, as many argue, on the basis of rigid ideology. This is not to say Murdoch is not an ideologue--he certainly is. But it benefits his bottom line to befriend powerful elites -- of all political persuasions -- and with the pendulum swinging left as of late, it is understandable why Murdoch is cozying up to the Clintons, for example.

“'Rupert, I think, is interested in power and money, and not much else,' a former White House aide who worked with Hillary when she was First Lady said to me. 'I think the ideology business is all a gloss. My vulgar Marxist view is that he is trying to defend his economic interest. The Democrats are about to sweep New York, and Hillary might be President in 2008.'”

Another revealing bit is the speculation that Tony Blair may join the News Corp. Board of Directors when he steps down from power.


Massachusetts Election & Iraq

From today's Boston Globe

"Voters in more than one-third of Massachusetts' cities and towns will get a rare chance to register their opinion on the war in Iraq next month when they consider a ballot question on whether the United States should immediately withdraw all troops."


Murder in Russia

Great piece from The Nation.

Here is an idea: let us blame those crazy lefties

I will start by saying that a quality debate is present here in this exchange, but it could be better. The argument we are having is essentially what defines modern-day liberalism, and more, what direction the Democrats Party should go.

However, since we start with the premise of defending/attacking specific publications -- Kos, and TNR -- we are each intrinsically linked with them and with them all of their flaws. We are defending publications rather than ideas. I would sooner start with the debate: what is the face of liberalism and the Democratic Party today? And then use Kos and TNR when applicable to illustrate a point.

Still, there are points I would like to address.

"While this crowd complains every four years that there is no choice on the ballot, the rest of us can take comfort in the fact that America will never elect a leader that's acceptable to the Kos lefties."

The Kos lefties are, by-in-large, mainstream Democrats who want to elect mainstream Democrats. Their latest straw polls for 2008 lists their picks for President in 2008. Pat, please tell me how each of these people, the top five, are too leftist for normal Democrats.

Russ Feingold: Was the only Democrat not to vote against a motion for impeachment on Pres. Clinton; voted to confirm John Ashcroft in 2000; allied with McCain on campaign finance reform

Wesley Clark: A retired four-star general in the U.S. Army; The Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO; commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War.

John Edwards: Opposed Gay Marriage, voted for the War in Iraq and The Patriot Act.

Tom Warner Considered a DLC-style "New Democrat."

Hillary Clinton: Flag burning; the War in Iraq refusal to go back on vote; proponent of triangulation.

Is this is new leftist revolution of our generation than everyone -- the left and the right -- are in some serious trouble.

As far as commenting on silence? Pat, as a writer I assume you will agree that there are more things to write about than there are hours in the day. And if my hyperbole is delicious, it may well be because it rings true. We are in the middle of an illegal war that kills thousands of innocent people. That you dismiss this as hyperbole shows a lot about the direction you want to take the debate in this country.

Consider this sentence: Pat your silence on the issue of torture says a lot about the type of conversation you want to have.

Is that fair?

Would it be fair for me to take a shot at, say, Andrew Sullivan, because he has not discussed sweat shops? Would it be fair to attack Josh Marshall for not writing enough about labor unions, or The Drug War. We are guilty to some extent of not writing about important issues.

You mention how the left attacks the mainstream media for important omissions, which is true. But the mainstream media is supposed to be objective and supposed to cover important topics. Blogs have no such responsibilities.

If I decide to waste a blog post on cats who use computers I can -- because this is a blog -- and we are afforded some personal preference to topics. Bloggers, Pat and I included, are not obligated to pay attention to all topics, nor should we be.

Moving on, Pat writes:

"What constitutes a true liberal in the minds of the Kos crowd? Feverent, red-faced hatred for conservativism (all the while chastising Bush and Rove for being divisive), criticism of Israel, isolationist military policy and opposition to globalization policies. While this crowd complains every four years that there is no choice on the ballot, the rest of us can take comfort in the fact that America will never elect a leader that's acceptable to the Kos lefties. "

Criticism of Israel need not be included on your list, and I am curious as to your motive of doing so. Every member of the Democratic Party -- and in turn, most of the Kos community -- says nothing on this issue other than: Israel has a right to defend itself. Kos specifically jumped away from the conversation when Israel invaded Lebanon.

If we want to lament bloggers for not writing about an issue enough -- this would be a great place to start.

It is also real clever to take "anti-war" and lump it with isolationism. It is not isolationism to only want to attack countries that attack us first -- that is called international law and common sense.

Beinart and the bloggers

It says something about our political climate when Peter Beinart and The New Republic are "liberals," not liberals. What constitutes a true liberal in the minds of the Kos crowd? Feverent, red-faced hatred for conservativism (all the while chastising Bush and Rove for being divisive), criticism of Israel, isolationist military policy and opposition to globalization policies. While this crowd complains every four years that there is no choice on the ballot, the rest of us can take comfort in the fact that America will never elect a leader that's acceptable to the Kos lefties. So they can have their quotation marks.

They're interested in who in the Democratic party is electable, not who they agree with philosophically, because no such Democrat exists. Not in the Senate, at least. They're so focused on a Democratic majority and winning races, yet for the most part their politics are not really in line with 90% of the party. It's odd.

In response to Mike's previous post, I find it a little bizarre that the fact Beinart attacked bloggers for something they didn't say is somehow an issue. Aren't liberals constantly talking about what the mainstream media isn't covering, or an aspect of the war they're not reporting on? It's a legitimate point for them, and of course it's a legitimate point for Beinart. Silence speaks volumes, and the liberal (I'm tempted to use the smug quotes here, but I'll refrain) blogosphere's refusal to discuss certain issues says a lot about the dialogue they want to have, I think.

To say that they are simply too busy writing about "horrific wars that are killing thousands of innocent people" is a delicious bit of hyperbole and it sounds good (how does one respond?) but it's a mere distraction. They're too busy? Is that honestly the best line in their defense? I can buy, "Well, yes, they aren't showing enough interest in these things, but what they are focusing on is important too." But busy?

Beinart actually did make the same point about the far right's vested interest in talking about the opera house from an anti-Muslim perspective. But at least they're talking about it. And alterior motives or not, I'll take that over the other side.


Beinart attacks bloggers (the world yawns)

Re: Free Speech ... Remember?

Wow, what a shocker. Peter Beinart, the "liberal" who said the left was blinded by Bush hatred when they refused to embrace the illegal invasion of Iraq (gee I wonder what Peter says about that now?) now attacks -- gasp -- liberal bloggers. Talk about a one-trick pony.

"Last week, I went searching the liberal Web for discussions of Idomeneo. The Deutsche Oper, a Berlin opera house, had recently canceled the Mozart classic because it feared Muslims would react violently to a scene featuring Mohammed's severed head. Germans declared that free speech was under siege. The New York Times covered every wrinkle. Right-wing websites buzzed. And, on the big liberal blogs, virtual silence ...

Blogging thrives on outrage (see, for instance, my colleague Martin Peretz's outraged blogging on the affair at tnr.com/blog/spine), and the Idomeneo closure just didn't get liberal blood flowing. And why is that? Perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with George W. Bush. "

Does he attack them for something they said? No. He attacks them for something they didn't say, and then, with his newfound ability to read the minds of the collective blogosphere, he deduces the reason for the alleged silence: They hate Bush too much to discuss anything else.

Perhaps bloggers were to busy writing the horrific wars that are killing thousands of innocent people to care about what the insufferable Marty Peretz is blogging about.

And speaking of irational hatred: One can critisize excessive distaste for the president if they choose, but he is the most powerful man in the world, and I would argue that no amount of scrutiny -- especially given his lack of transparency and candor -- is too much to place on the most radical US president in recent memory.

But if Peter Beinart and the rest of his New Republic bretheren went after Bush as much as they did "Blogofacists" (a lovely TNR-coined phrase courtesy of Lee Seigel) -- maybe they would do some good, and save their flailing magazine.

Ezra Klein of The American Prospect responds to Beinart's piece. He notes correctly that the right-wingers who Beinart praised are not free speech advocates, but simply eager to smear Muslims.

Would these bloggers be advocating free speech if Jesus was mocked? I doubt it.

"[T]he merry racists over at Little Green Footballs aren't pumping the Idomeneo controversy because they're deeply committed to artistic freedom. These are David Horowitz acolytes, after all. They're doing it because it furthers their other political ends. They're doing it for the same reasons Bush noticed the oppression of Afghani women after 9/11, or the right remembered Hussein had human rights abuses when they decided to attack Iraq. Painting Arabs as beastly and illiberal fits their expansionist political agenda, which calls for sustained, often violent confrontation with the Arab world.

Few liberals want any part in that foreign policy agenda. And so few liberals have any interest in buttressing the administration's supporting arguments. Too many recall how their genuine concern and outrage over abuses in Iraq was conscripted in service of a misguided, heavily politicized, war that included human rights abuses of its own. Given a government that thinks nothing of suspending Habeas Corpus, is criticizing the Deutsche Oper likelier to protect free speech or deploy bombers?

Here's a test: The empty opera house may be a suboptimal outcome, but is it worse than kidnapping children for force marriage in Kyrgyzstan? How about the death of an unjustly imprisoned journalist in Turkmenistan? Or the government-supported death squads in Guinea?

No. It isn't. But that's what the right wing is focusing on. And that's what Peter Beinart is bashing liberals with. Liberals are morally remiss for paying insufficient attention to an opera house's decision, but not for ignoring bride kidnappings, murdered journalists, or marauding governments. The agenda behind that odd prioritization isn't difficult to divine, and it's to the credit of the left that they refused to offer aid and comfort to those seeking its partial assent in their clash-of-civilization fantasies ... And those selectively decrying the absence of liberal outrage should select a more worthy, and less destructive, targent. Unless, of course, it's the outrage, and not the abuse, that interested them in the first place.

Free speech... remember?

The New Republic's Peter Beinart hits the nail on the head.

"Last week, I went searching the liberal Web for discussions of Idomeneo. The Deutsche Oper, a Berlin opera house, had recently canceled the Mozart classic because it feared Muslims would react violently to a scene featuring Mohammed's severed head. Germans declared that free speech was under siege. The New York Times covered every wrinkle. Right-wing websites buzzed. And, on the big liberal blogs, virtual silence.

If pressed, most liberal bloggers would probably have condemned the opera house's decision. But they didn't feel pressed. Blogging thrives on outrage (see, for instance, my colleague Martin Peretz's outraged blogging on the affair at tnr.com/blog/spine), and the Idomeneo closure just didn't get liberal blood flowing. And why is that? Perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with George W. Bush. "

He goes on to talk about the Pope's recent comments about Islam, and how some folks at the DailyKos managed to blame Republicans and Bush. It's a rhetorical stretch that truly has to be read to be believed.

In Opposition to the War on Terror

The War That Never Ends

Americans need to combat the threat of terrorism, and protect its people from those who wish to kill innocent civilians. This is not in doubt.

What is in worth debating, however, is the means in which to do this, and whether maintaining an ambiguous, continuous war with unclear goals is in the best interest of our country and the world.

Americans are now having this debate, in discussing the War in Iraq, and most Americans now believe that the war has made us less safe from terrorism.

But the war on terror as a concept is largely safe from critical dialogue from American’s politicians on both parties. In fact, Democrats who challenge the legitimacy or effectiveness of the Iraq War, argue that it is merely a “distraction” from the war on terror and will limit our options invade other countries, such as Iran. In other words, pre-emptive wars of aggression are fine, a constant state of warfare is fine, but Iraq was executed ineptly.

This may be a smart election-year move as it allows Democrats to look tough on terror while appeasing anti-war voters. However, if Democrats gain any power this November, they should quickly work to redefine and rename the war on terror so it is not blank check for the executive branch to use force at his own discresion.

This debate ought to be expanded past Iraq, and discussed more broadly. The reason for this is simple: It is President Bush’s global war on terror, not Iraq, which has been used to justify all the administration’s war policies, including the invasion of Iraq.

Consider some examples:

*The USA PATRIOT Act was signed two years before we invaded in Iraq. When it was up for renewal Bush justified the measures by saying “In a war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment.”

* The National Security Agency’s unconstitutional wiretappings that take place with no real oversight, likewise, began years before we invaded Iraq. The justification, according to the Bush Administration, was that "they attacked us before, they'll attack us again if they can.”

*Institutionalized torture, and the discarding of the Geneva Conventions, gained visibility in Iraq – but these ideas were implemented at least as far back as 2002, when, according to The Washington Post, the Justice Department advised the White House that torturing al Qaeda terrorists in captivity abroad "may be justified," and that international laws against torture "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted in the war on terrorism.

The main difference between Iraq and the war on terror is that the former will eventually end (leaving the issue of permanent military bases for another day). Whether it is in two years or twenty, the war as we know it will end.

In contrast, the war on terror, according to President Bush’s Sept. 20, 2001 speech, “will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

The war on terrorism is fought everywhere and anywhere. It is a war not against a nation state or an entity within a state (such as al Qaeda in Afghanistan )but rather, against a tactic. A tactic, it is worth noting, that has no concrete definition. To date the United Nations has not agreed on a definition of "terrorism."

Such ambiguities enable the US government to simply decide what terrorism is on a case-by-case basis. The mere existence of the war on terror already serves as a justification for future wars, further torture and more assaults on our privacy and personal liberties.

1n 1984, George Orwell warned us why governments engage in continuous warfare.

"It does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.... waged by the ruling group against its subjects, and its object is not victory, but to keep the very structure of society intact."

We can fight terrorism, and protect our homeland without resorting to these tactics. The war on terror has enabled these draconian measures taken by the executive branch, to attack the very foundations of our democracy.

Accordingly, we should oppose all continuous wars, including Bush’s war on terror.

If we fail to do this, we will settle for the only alternative: a state of perpetual warfare.

DOW do you do?

Eric Alterman points out the obvious regarding media coverage of The Dow.

"Economic Illiteracy on the March: The Dow is not "at an all time high," for God's sake, as virtually every idiotic news outlet is reporting. It is down 17 percent from its peak, here. Numbers that do not take inflation into account are meaningless -- worse than meaningless, purposely misleading. In 1968 or so, I used to be able to buy two burgers, fries and a Coke for under a buck. Do the Dow numbers for 1968 deserve unmediated comparison?"



There was a great movie from the 90's on TV late last night called PCU. Starring Entourage's Jeremy Piven, it's about life on a politically correct college campus. Frats have been forbidden, and there are constant protests by idiotic organizations (Piven's character, our hero, calls them "cause-heads" because they jump from cause to cause). There are the womynists, hippies, afro-centrists or black militants, etc.

This film was released about twelve years ago and may have been seen as a satire or parody then. Today, it's an understatement. When the ultra-PC college president threatened Piven's crew with a "sensitivity awareness week" punishment, I had to laugh.

The price of loyalty

Will Hastert resign to help GOP?

The National Review suggests that he might. Resign to help the election chances? Interesting.


Anger at Foley, Part 2

The Drudge Report is reporting that the editorial page of tomorrow's Washington Times will call on Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to resign. Why is this a big deal? Well, they're a conservative publication.

You better believe this is going to get worse before it gets better. Karl Rove should hope his "October surprise" involves pedophilic Democrats.

Anger at Foley

This video has Bay Buchanon -- that is Pat Buchanon's sister, I should add, enraged at the GOP leadership for not acting sooner on the Foley scandal.

I think Sen. George Allen may be the only person who is enjoying this.


In my country there is problem

Anti-defamation league concerned over upcoming Borat film

Borat, the ignorant and virulently anti-semitic character played by Ali G star Sacha Baron Cohen, has said that in his country of Kazakhstan, women are just above rats. He adds, "In America, women can vote but horse cannot. It is the other way around in my country." He has gone to honky-tonk clubs to perform his song, "In my country there is problem," with the chorus of "Throw the Jew down the well/So my country can be free."

If it sounds hateful and abhorrent, that's the point. Cohen, who is Jewish, is one of the great comic minds of our time and an incredibly sharp satirist. The ADL press release takes the time to say they don't believe Cohen means any harm, but that the movie could reinforce stereotypes.

Of course it could. Any idiot who sees the movie and thinks that Borat is really onto something with his ridiculous statements could be influenced by just about anything. This is another example of not giving adults the benefit of the doubt. In our country, there is problem. And this problem is cultural sensitivity at the expense of common sense.