"You left poor Behemoth, betraying him for a glass of brandy -- though it was very good brandy!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

  Arnold the Environmentalist
The AP is reporting that Arnold is catching flack from environmental groups for accepting $100,000 from a large developer with a history of environmental-related complaints.

The company, owned by Tim Blixseth of Rancho Mirage, is facing fines and other sanctions from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality stemming from complaints that the company illegally dumped sediment into tributaries of the Gallatin River and filled nearby wetlands without permits.


When Schwarzenegger entered the race he said he did not need to take money from anyone, but he subsequently accepted checks from people and businesses with interests in Sacramento.

So, whaddya think, will Dan Weintraub be all over this, cause, you know, he's all concerned about special interests donating money? Hmm, nothing up there yet, but I'm sure he'll get to it ...
  Comments Up
For that magical future date when all the world will come to gawk at the hideous things I write!

Monday, September 29, 2003

  The Whore of Bablyon
The Rev. Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, has been quite visible lately. Americans United led the good fight against the grandstanding Justice Moore and his ten commandments monument, and, perhaps of more substantial importance, has been loudly warning against Dubya's Faith-Based Initiatives, which is now being implemented by a sort of executive fiat. Lynn held his own in a piece on the Daily Show this past week conducted by the always-brilliant Stephen Colbert (it takes a wiley mind to keep up with Colbert, [he, among other things, asked Lynn, "In what way are you not the Whore of Babylon?]). The piece, unsurprisingly, left Lynn looking witty and right and the Christian Right nutjob looking like a, well, nutjob. Lynn also gave a talk at the Commonwealth Club in SF a couple of weeks ago, which was broadcast this past week on C-Span and on NPR. (The video isn't up, but the audio can be heard here.)

It is important to understand just how disturbing the "faith based initiatives" program is (see the latest Americans United critique here); its own previous director famously said that it was a purely political process, before Roveian goons forced him to retract. Money is spent on Church groups located on the far right of the political spectrum. Despite a provision prohibiting money from going to groups preaching intolerance, many of these far right Christian groups fit squarely in that category. As John Gorenfeld wrote in Salon last week, money goes to organizations affiliated with the Unification Church of Rev. Moon -- who has said, among other things, that the death of six million Jews in the Holocaust was just retribution for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Lynn has noted that money has also gone to Pat Robertson, who has said that Presbyterians and Methodists represent the spirit of the anti-Christ and that Jews are part of a Masonic conspiracy to control the globe. "Robertson is one of the chief purveyors of religious bigotry in America," Lynn has remarked. "To reward his outfit with government funding is an insult to every American taxpayer." And as Susan Jacoby notes in TomPaine.com, the Bush administration particularly favors using evangelist drug programs like that run by Teen Challenge, which "regards indoctrination in fundamentalist Christianity as therapy for drug abuse," and who have demonstrated clearly their view of other religions. "Testifying before Congress three years ago, a Teen Challenge official offended Jewish leaders by observing that some Jewish teenagers who go through the program convert to Christianity, thereby becoming 'completed Jews,'" Jacoby writes. As Lynn has warned, those Jewish leaders who have allied themselves with the Christian Right because of Israel better think on what they are doing. As Barry Lynn has noted, Jerry Falwell believes each and every rabbi is going to hell, and his interest in Israel is purely in its post-Jewish Messianic future.

Americans dedicated to the constitution and to its guarantee of freedom of religion, which is dependent on the separation of church and state, should take note. Barry Lynn is a hero and one who is going to be sorely needed in these days of Bushite sponsored theocracy.
  Total Recall 2
Yesterday's Doonesbury includes a pre-printed form to begin the campaign to recall Arnold ...
  Davis Toast?
As I just posted on the Kos comment boards (scroll down):
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll predicts a relatively low turnout of 50% of the voting age population. In an ordinary election that wouldn't be low at all, of course, but with the dramatic increases most counties are reporting in registration over the past month or so, it is difficult to know if this is a good guess.

The numbers among all registered voters are closer (the Gallup press release is here), although yes on recall still has a pretty commanding lead (55 to 41). Schwarzenegger still leads Bustamante, but just outside the margin of error (34 to 28 with a 4 point MOE).

What this means is what we have all been saying all along: who succeeds Davis (who really does appear to be toast) will depend on how much Bustamante can motivate people to come out to the polls. So far, he doesn't appear to be doing very well, and he doesn't have a whole hell of a lot of time to straighten things out. That in this heavily Democratic state 50% of registered voters and 58% of probable voters say that they will vote for a Republican (either Schwarzenegger or McClintock) is a major political failure.

The polls have been pretty variable, so we'll have to wait for the others to come out this week (esp. the Field), but it doesn't look good from here ...

Sunday, September 28, 2003

  Plame Out
I'm not going to be so presumptuous as to add my own post on the White House's outing of Joe Wilson's wife, since it is being covered in blanket detail over at Atrios, CalPundit, Talking Points Memo, Kos, etc. (I won't bother with the permalinks since there are so many and with more unfolding by the hour.)

I have noted two things on Atrios's comment boards, which no doubt aren't particularly novel at this point but which I'll summarize here:
1) That among other things this allows the press to rehash the entire yellowcake scandal which, of course, had also disappeared from the news; and,
2) That now that the leaks have been publicized, there is no valid excuse for not immediately discovering the identities and firing the two leakers. As Atrios, via several other bloggers points out, any attempt to stymie this makes them accessories after the fact -- to treason against the United States of America.

UPDATE: DHinMI dissects Condi's pitiful performance on the Sunday morning talk shows on the Daily Kos.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Putin more or less thumbed his nose at Bush during their meetings at Camp David, refusing to cease their involvement helping Iran build a nuclear reactor. He and his advisers essentially determined shortly before our invasion of Iraq that they had gone as far as was domestically politically possible in cozying up to Dubya in order to have him reiterate how the war in Chechnya was part of the war on terror, and henceforth they aren't about to back off doing what they want to do for political and economic reasons.

As I just posted on Atrios:

There are several things to remember about the current state of our relations with Russia, and Bush's with Putin. The first is that the first time they met Bush said that he had looked into Putin's eyes and seen his soul, the soul of a man who could be trusted. Or something of the sort. Which told us a lot about Bush's ability to judge people and also about what sort of person he felt most comfortable with (i.e. a career KGB agent raised to the presidency by the accident of Yeltsin's political troubles).

So personal relations between Pooty-Poot (yes, that was Bush's clever nickname for Putin) and Bush were warm and friendly. (Much as they had been between Yeltsin and Clinton, two men who had other telling things in common.) Putin saw advantage in pursuing close relations because, especially after 9/11, his claim to be sharing the same war on terror allowed him to continue to get a free pass on atrocities in Chechnya.

(As an aside, while it should be noted that while there are radical Islamists, and even foreign terrorists, in Chechnya now, it started out as a secular nationalist war. The radicals seized on it as an opportunity situation [much in the same way as they now see post-Saddam Iraq, of course, as different as the two places otherwise are.])

The second reason the current Russian government cosied up to Bush is that, however questionable Putin's commitments to Democracy are, he appears genuinely interested in promoting some type of economic reform. (Well, if we wanted to talk in greater depth about this, we might look at the eerie similarities between Russia's crony capitalism and our own.) He is enough a realist (in fact he is nothing if not a realist) to realize that U.S.-controlled international financial institutions, not to mention foreign investment, are absolutely indispensible for this.

So Russia's vocal opposition to our Iraq blunder was in some ways even more noteworthy than that of our longtime allies such as France and Germany. Putin had been defying the strong nationalists and the retrograde Communists in pursuing close ties with the U.S., and he recognized he could only take it so far. Not to mention the obvious financial ties with Iraq that our own wingnuts like to focus on as if there weren't extreme domestic political pressures to bear.

So Putin is in Camp David, and he is promising nothing. That is, he still wants to assure Bush they are buddies, but he still can't do anything in Iraq. When Poland joined the "coalition of the willing," politicians there were remarkably candid about their reasons for doing so: they wanted some of the post-settlement oil benefits. You can bet your first born that Putin would have been happy to do the same (in exchange for their old benefits), but domestic political considerations prohibited this.

Bush probably understood very little of this, which speaks volume, given Condi's supposedly impeccable Russia credentials.

Friday, September 26, 2003

  Paying Attention
Whether it's Bush's falling poll numbers or his own soon-to-be fund-raising record for Q3, Dean's call for the reisgnations of Rummy and Wolfy is making the rounds as an AP blurb. Significantly, it is showing up on all of the local news broadcast websites, which means, I will assume, that it is being read as part of their three minute national news overviews. (But maybe not, I have no idea how these things work.) If it is, then Joe and Jane LocalNewsWatcher are hearing phrases like "not truthful, either deliberately or because they didn't do their work."

Which has to help, in the long run, with the drip ... drip ... drip.
  Weintraub's Obsession
Today our favorite fair and balanced expert simply lists what tribes have given to Bustamante and McClintock. Now, keeping track of what money is going where is a great service that the media should provide us with far, far more often than it does. But ... is Indian money the only money going into this campaign? Where are Arnie's millions coming from, Mr. Weintraub? Doesn't that interest you also? Or is it only those damn gambling Indians that bother you.

It is amusing that he (the fair and balanced obejctive reporter) devotes another entry to the question of whether Arnold's anti-Indian money ads are part of the Pete Wilson racially-charged campaign patterns. He concludes:

Enter the Indians -- a perfect symbol of special interest influence running amok in Sacramento. My instincts tell me they are the scapegoat du jour not so much because they are an ethnic group but because they are the most convenient target through which the Wilson/Schwarzenegger team can rile up the Republican base, and they fit into Schwarzenegger's "Son of Hiram Johnson" campaign theme.

Never mind that they are also Weintraub's own scapegoat du jour -- but, well, you tell us why you think that this is a good target for riling up the Republican base? Right, I know, it is innocent enough: "they are the perfect symbol of special interest influence running amok." Yes, how convenient.
  Ernie Carville
Buzzflash links to this brand new poll showing just how deep a hole Bush has dug for himself. Clearly voters have been swayed by campaign manager Ernie's skillful attempts to play up the multiple eyebrow liability.
  Toy Terriers on Speed
I don't know whether Buzzflash creates permalinks to his deeply original headlines, but some of them deserve to be preserved in one form or another, even here where no one will read them:

Colin Powell is Caught Lying About the Bush Case for the Iraq War, So, In Typical Bush Cartel Fashion, He Lies Some More. Didn't Bush Say Saddam WASN'T Connected to 9/11. They Change Their Lies So Quickly, It's Like Watching a Toy Terrier on Speed.
  Coming Home
Still more on how the trends are favoring Davis, although no new polls as of yet.

"All of my friends spent the summer snickering at and needling Gray Davis," Farley said. "But it's gone from cocktail party to real. Now we're all coming home."

The question, as a Republican operative quoted further down the article hopefully remarks, is whether Democrats will get out to vote. Nationwide, the Republicans kicked our ass in GOTV in 2002, and CW says that they are the ones motivated by anti-Davis rage to get to the polls now. The question is (to repeat myself) whether Davis's strategy of painting this as yet another in a string of Republican coup attempts (a very good strategy in this novice's meaningless opinion) will motivate Democrats beyond the already highly motivated. There is also the hope that if things are focused on Schwarzenegger vs. McClintock in the final week that Repubs will be discouraged and divided as well. It is going to be very close on both votes, no doubt about it.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

  Ancient John Holmes
From harper's weekly review (scroll down).

Scientists announced the discovery of the oldest known genitals, which belonged to the 400-million-year-old ancestor of the daddy longlegs; the fossil penis was two thirds the length of the creature's body.

Oh, and in the same roundup, from the annals of chauvinism (both unintentional and cavemanesque):

The World Bank declared that Middle Eastern women are a "huge, untapped" resource.


The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow fired ballerina Anastasia Volochkova because, at 110 pounds, she is too fat.
  All-Sizzle, No-Steak
Reading through the reviews this morning, I'm even more glad that I skipped watching the debate last night. "This all-sizzle, no-steak TV debate played like cheap reality programming and left the same aftertaste," writes SF Chron TV critic Tim Goodman.

It sounds like Arianna decided her mission should be to take down the Arnis, and I can only applaud her for that. A good use of an otherwise mystifying candidacy. Schwarzenegger's folks might have thought he was avoiding any unscripted moments by getting the questions in advance, but she seems to have effectively sabotaged that strategy.
  Pre-season game
Well even Weintraub isn't trying to spin Schwarzenegger's performance at the debate into anything special. (After an entire day spent hurrahing the Indian Gaming issue.)

Schwarzenegger said this would be the "Super Bowl" of debates, but his performance was more apt for a pre-season game. He didn't exactly embarrass himself, but neither did he score any touchdowns.

I didn't watch the debate (taking care of the kid, also thought it would make my head hurt), but from this and the general consensus over at Kos, it sounds as if McClintock will continue to be a thorn in Arnie's side.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

  The Echo Chamber
Whether based in the academy or firmly ensconced in their own private arm-chairs, historians love to talk about how the failure of the Soviet Union should serve as a warning concerning faith-based government. Ideology, it is explained, can offer little in the way of a practical guide for dealing with the problems for which states must actually find a solution.

This is a favorite among world-weary conservatives, except, of course, when it is their own ideology. As John Judis reminds us, the current debacle in Iraq is the product of just such hermetically-sealed ideological blinders. Many of us like to say that this war was about the oil, but, as Judis notes, even many oil industry consultants were warning against the war. Instead, it was a product almost entirely of the "the echo chamber set up by the Pentagon, The Weekly Standard and the American Enterprise Institute."

Stay tuned for developing ruminations on "How the Republicans (or Neo-Cons) are like the Bolsheviks."
  Weintraub's Vendetta
Weintraub is dropping any pretense of objectivity over at the California Insider. The particular target of his wrath is Bustamante's funding by the Indian tribes, and he links to "fair and balanced" John Fund in support of this. Fund, he tells us, "comments astutely" on this issue. Fund also tells us that several tribes are funding McClintock with the precise purpose of Bustamante's winning.

To show how this might be done, Weintraub pathetically touts the campaign of Ask Jeeves founder (and Democrat) Garrett Greuner as potentially breaking in to the upper echelon of candidates by broadcasting his own private debate over the internet while the Big Show goes on tonight. Greuner's attempt to break down the walls might be admirable, but does Weintraub really think he's going to enter the top tier?

If he can fantasize even remotely that it will hurt Bustamante, then up it goes.
  A Major Problem
The pressure mounts on McClintock to get out, but, cross our fingers, it doesn't sound like he's going to go anywhere. And his campaign continues to lay it on Schwarzenegger:

"The untold story is the incredible stall in the Arnold campaign," said McClintock deputy campaign director John Stoos. "You bring on the celebrity with the biggest media profile in the world, and he starts at 25 percent. He hires 173 of the best political minds in the country, and spends $2 million a week in TV -- and he's at a whopping 26 percent. That's a major problem."

This is becoming an increasing media distraction in the final days here, and one hopes, as this Chron article suggests, that it will have the effect of taking the focus off of Davis (and Bustamante's campaign foibles), and squarely on intra-Republican squabbling.

And as I mentioned on one of the Kos comment boards yesterday, Daniel Weintraub's California Insider blog for the Sac Bee continues to sound like Schwarzenegger campaign propaganda:

Judging from the several free-wheeling press conferences I have seen him conduct with the political press corps, I think he is more than capable of shining in this debate. Bustamante, meanwhile, must shore up his Democratic base, which seems to be deserting him even as he has moved to the left. And he must persuade at least a few independents that he is more than just the candidate for the emerging Latino plurality and the Indian casinos.

Yes, it's a blog, and yes, that means it's opinion, but the "fair and balanced" veneer is grating here, as in the rest of the SCLM.

Monday, September 22, 2003

  Very Good Brandy
testing first post of Begemot

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