Thursday, April 21

You might be a centrist!

What is a Radical Centrist?

If you believe that knowing the truth, even uncomfortable truth, counts for more than party affiliation or labels like "liberal" or "conservative" -- you might be a centrist.

If you believe that ecoterrorism and random acts of violence or vandalism against animal testing centers and furwearers are crimes, yet feel that how we treat our environment and fellow living creatures is more important how big someones paycheck is -- you might be a centrist.

If you believe that a strong robust economy with dynamic inventive and profitable companies doesn't need to be heartless and devoid of character and ethics --- you might be a centrist.

If your "values" include justice and protection for the rights the still living, not just the soon to be born, soon to be dead or a set of cells in a petrie dish, regardless of their religion, national origin, gender, gender-alignment or term of pregnancy - then you might be a centrist.

If you reject the notion that war in the middle-east is just "prophesy fulfilled" -- you might be a centrist.

If you reject the notion that tribulation and suffering are just natural conditions which we are powerless to truly change -- you might be a centrist.

If you reject the notion that higher education is nothing more than vanity, that there is more then just ONE BOOK that one need read, that learning how to learn is a right and a neccesity for a nation and world to function thoughtfully and ethically - you might be a centrist.

If you reject the notion that unemployment is God's way of making you more dependant on HIM, and drawing you closer -- you might be a centrist.

If you reject the notion that lousy healthcare is simply a "portal to paradise", and that we all should be afforded the right to a basic quality of life that includes quality healthcare that all should have access too regardless of their bank statement --- you might be a centrist.

(With apologies to Garrison Keillor)

Vyan

Wednesday, April 20

A Message to Michael

--- "maillist@michaelmoore.com"
wrote:
> Friends,
>
> How's it going? Ready for the next step?
>
> Let me know what you've been up to and any ideas you
> have about what our next move should be (write me at
> the addresses below).
>
> Meanwhile, I'll be in conclave this week handing out
> goodie bags and running for pope. Wish me well!
>
> Yours,
>
> Michael Moore
> MMFlint@aol.com
> Mike@michaelmoore.com
> www.michaelmoore.com

Michael,

I'm glad you asked. What we need to do first and foremost is stop acting like victims and act like SURVIVORS. A victim lies down in the dirt and waits to die, a survivor gets to his/her feet and prepares for the next fight.

And that fight is - Congress. Howard Dean is beginning to build a permanent grass roots infrastructure for the Democratic Party. It's about time. He needs all available support from persons such as yourself and MoveOn.org to bring together and re-focus all the energy we had during the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Next stop, 2006. Tom DeLay is reeling on the ropes and the Dems have yet to take a serious swing at him. With the Ethics committee effectively shutdown, he's going to stay there dangling for the foreseeable future. The prospects are strong that he'll lose his seat next time, his support in his district is falling and he barely hung on last time. Democrats around the country need to run not just against their direct opponent, but against DeLay, TRMPAC, Jack Abramoff and any in the Republican Majority who accepted money from Delay (which is all but five members of the House Republcian Caucus). They've clearly been running AMOK. Take 'em ALL down.

Then, once we have Congress and the right honarable REP. JOHN CONYERS (http://www.conyersblog.com) becomes the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, we'll be able to really bring this administration to task. We'll be able to have a real investigation of Ohio, of Donald Rumsfeld and his actions to undermine not just the Geneva conventions, but Federal Laws against Torture. We'll be able to make Bush Pay... possibly even impeach him for lying to the American Public time and time again.

They've been the party of lies, we need to be the party of truth. They've been the party of hubris, we need to the party of humility. They've been the party of bad faith, we need to the party of good faith and responsibility. They claim to be the party of tax cuts [while simply deferring those taxes onto our children with interest by running up defecits] we need to be the party of balanced budgets and a strong economy using targeted tax credits for those who are inventive, innovative and progressive in their approaches to business and the environment. We have to stop running away from the reasonable center and re-stake that territory. We hold the left, but we also need to reach out to those reasonable republicans like Sen. Voinovich, Sen Chuck Hagel and Rep. Chris Shays who put principle ahead of party - and build a new majority coalition across both party lines.

But first, we have to get the heck up off the floor.

Vyan
http://vyan.blogspot.com

The Real Ann Coulter

Even after Time's cover story, you still don't know "the real Ann Coulter"

"[Y]ou don't know the real Ann Coulter," Time magazine declares in teasing its cover story on the right-wing pundit.

But after reading the magazine's nearly 6,000-word profile of Coulter, readers still don't know the real Ann Coulter. They don't know the real Ann Coulter because Time carefully hid her from view, glorifying her legal work, whitewashing her habitual lies, and downplaying her -- at best -- grossly inappropriate rhetoric.

Early in the Time article, author John Cloud writes that Coulter "doesn't think of herself as an entertainer but as a public intellectual. Many would say she's more of a shrieking ideologue, but regardless, her paychecks come solely from writing and giving speeches. She earns nothing from TV." But Coulter's lack of a television paycheck may not be, as Cloud suggests, evidence of Coulter's high-minded preference for writing and speech-making. Perhaps she just can't get a TV paycheck; she was, after all -- as Cloud noted much, much later in the article -- fired from her job as an MSNBC commentator.

In establishing Coulter's bona fides as a serious person, Cloud notes that Coulter was a lawyer before becoming a commentator, explaining her "biggest case":

"And of course the biggest case Coulter ever helped handle as an attorney (she got her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1988) was a sexual-harassment claim of an unsophisticated woman against her powerful former boss. Coulter was one of a handful of informal legal advisers quietly helping Paula Jones, who had alleged in a 1994 lawsuit that she suffered distress and retaliation at her state job after refusing Arkansas Governor Clinton's request for oral sex in 1991. Coulter interviewed Jones and helped write her legal briefs."

Left out is one seemingly important detail: the case was dismissed for complete and total lack of merit. It was a glorified nuisance suit:

In a ruling that shocked both sides, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright rejected all of Jones's claims stemming from her 1991 encounter with Clinton in a hotel suite. Even if Clinton did make a crude proposition, the judge concluded that it would not constitute sexual assault and that there was no proof Jones was emotionally afflicted or punished in the workplace for rebuffing him. "There are no genuine issues for trial in this case," she wrote.

Also left out is Coulter's admission that to her, the purpose of the case wasn't to serve Jones's interests, but rather "bringing down the President."

While embellishing Coulter's legal work, pretending it was something more than partisan hackery, Cloud downplays Coulter's history of outrageous comments, unquestioningly quoting Coulter friend Miguel Estrada downplaying her vicious attacks as "a little bit of a polemicist" (Coulter herself sees no need for the qualifier; she told the Sunday Times of London that "I am a polemicist. I am perfectly frank about that") and writing that "Coulter can occasionally be coarse."

"Occasionally" coarse? A "little bit" of a polemicist? This about a "commentator" who claimed that the Democratic Party "supports killing, lying, adultery, thievery, envy"; who said of the idea that the American military were targeting journalists, "Would that it were so!"; who said President Clinton "was a very good rapist"; who insisted that "[l]iberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole"; who said that "I think a baseball bat is the most effective way these days" to talk to liberals; who said it was lucky for former senator Max Cleland's political career that he lost an arm and two legs in Vietnam; who has said her "only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building"; and who wrote that the only real question about Bill Clinton was "whether to impeach or assassinate."

What, exactly, would it take for Time to declare that someone is "frequently" coarse?

Perhaps taking note of her threats against liberals would do it:

When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that [American Taliban supporter] John Walker [Lindh] is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors.

Perhaps it would ... if Time had seen fit to include the full quote instead of cutting it off after "intimidate liberals," thus excluding the portion of the quote in which she intimates that liberals should fear for their lives -- just as she suggested assassinating a sitting president, bemoaned Timothy McVeigh's decision not to murder employees of The New York Times, and wished aloud that reporters in Iraq would get shot.

Along with downplaying Coulter's divisive rhetoric, Time unquestioningly repeats many of her comments.

Cloud writes that Coulter "has never wobbled on Bush's signature deed, the war in Iraq. 'The invasion of Iraq has gone fabulously well,' she wrote last June," comparing her consistency on the topic with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's comments suggesting the U.S. might have to pull out of Iraq. But Coulter's lack of wobble aside, what about the substance of her comments? Cloud doesn't say; Time readers are left to guess. The Coulter column declaring that the Iraq war was going "fabulously well" appeared in June 2004; April and May 2004 were, at the time, the two deadliest months for U.S. troops in Iraq -- 136 Americans died in Iraq in April, and 84 died in May. Was Coulter right, or was she wrong? Arguments can be made either way, but Time simply acts as though it doesn't matter.

Cloud writes of Coulter's thoughts on terrorism:

Coulter says profiling makes sense when Muslims have committed virtually all the terrorist attacks against Americans for the past 25 years--she begins a terrorism timeline in her latest book with Iranian militants taking Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979. She says of Timothy McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma City, Okla., "One does not a pattern make."

One need only turn to page 15 of the very same issue of Time for a reminder that Timothy McVeigh isn't the only non-Muslim, American-born terrorist who has attacked the U.S. in recent years. Eric Rudolph, Time's "Milestones" column notes, pleaded guilty last week to "to the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Olympics and attacks on abortion clinics in Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., and an Atlanta gay club, leaving a total of two dead and more than 150 injured." Given the timing of the plea, it seems it would be worth noting in response to Coulter's contention about Muslims. Perhaps Time simply lacked space in its 5,800-word profile.

But it gets worse. Time's Cloud quoted Coulter's claim that "liberals" have "produced" only one error of fact in her writing; this obvious lie is presented without rebuttal:

Slander was followed in 2003 by Treason, and by then Coulter had inspired an industry of debunkers, people who scour her every utterance for mistakes large and small. Entire websites were devoted to this purpose.

When I asked Coulter about her mistakes, she responded by e-mail: "I think I can save you some time ... The one error liberals have produced is that I was wrong when I said the NYT didn't mention Dale Earnhardt's death on the front page the day after his death. There have been novels and Broadway plays written about Ann Coulter's one mistake, which was pretty minor IMHO [in my humble opinion] -- the Times article DID begin: 'His death brought a silence to the Wal-Mart.' "

Actually, it didn't. The article began, "Stock car racing's greatest current star and one of its most popular and celebrated figures, Dale Earnhardt, crashed and was killed today ..." The article doesn't mention Wal-Mart, although a subsequent piece did.

Though Cloud noted that Coulter's defense of her Earnhardt mistake was, itself, also untrue, he didn't take issue with her contention that "liberals" have identified only one mistake in her writing. This is an obvious falsehood; liberals and others have identified many, many errors of fact in Coulter's writing, as a search of Media Matters for America, Spinsanity.org, or countless other resources would reveal.

But Cloud deems Coulter mostly accurate: "Coulter has a reputation for carelessness with facts, and if you Google the words 'Ann Coulter lies,' you will drown in results. But I didn't find many outright Coulter errors."

One would have hoped that the author of a 5,800-word Time magazine cover story would go beyond performing a simple Google search; Nexis would be a good start. But even Cloud's simple Google search should have been enough to dispel the notion that it's difficult to find "outright Coulter errors." The fourth "hit" that Cloud's Google search yields is a review of Coulter's Slander on the nonpartisan Spinsanity.org website, which revealed Coulter to have erred about:

  • The number of articles the New York Times printed about "Selma" over a six-year period;
  • The frequency of the Times' use of the phrase "moderate Republican" vs. that of "liberal Republican"; and
  • Former Vice President Al Gore's claim to have been the inspiration for the book Love Story.

Likewise, a quick look at just the first three of 11 pages of search results for "Coulter" at Media Matters finds examples of Coulter lying or being wrong about:

  • The New York Times "outing" gays (the people mentioned in the article in question were already "out") and ignoring former atheist William Murray's conversion to Christianity (the paper didn't ignore it; it covered it.)
  • Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry supposedly running for president "under invented names" (they didn't);
  • The Bush administration's refusal to reimburse the District of Columbia for costs incurred during Bush's inauguration;
  • Long-discredited allegations that President Clinton "sold burial plots in Arlington National Cemetery."

In short: Coulter is wrong very, very often, and Cloud's suggestion to the contrary is simply bizarre.

Equally bizarre is Cloud's assessment of Coulter's writing on gender issues:

Coulter -- who likes to shock reporters by wondering aloud whether America might be better off if women lost the right to vote -- howls at the idea that she was a college feminist. But even today, she can write about gender issues with particular sensitivity.

Here are some quotes Cloud probably didn't have in mind when he wrote of Coulter's alleged "sensitivity":

  • September 23, 2004: "I'm so pleased with my gender. We're not that bright."
  • Same day: "Women, though they're not as bright, don't want to die any more than men."
  • From How to Talk To a Liberal (If You Must): "The real reason I loathe and detest feminists is that real feminists, the core group, the Great Thinkers of the movement, which I had until now dismissed as the invention of a frat boy on a dare, have been at the forefront in tearing down the very institutions that protect women: monogamy, marriage, chastity, and chivalry. And surveying the wreckage, the best they have to offer is: 'Call me Ms.'"
  • May 5, 2004: "I think the other point that no one is making about the [Abu Ghraib] abuse photos is just the disproportionate number of women involved, including a girl general running the entire operation. I mean, this is lesson, you know, one million and 47 on why women shouldn't be in the military. In addition to not being able to carry even a medium-sized backpack, women are too vicious."

Dangling DeLay

The trials and tribulations of Tom Delay are continuing and growing. It's gotten so bad that the DCCC has put up a special DeLay Scandal site that is a near parody of the situation, using a flash page that animates all the linkages of dirty money and influence between DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, the texas redistricting scandal, the misuse of homeland security and the FAA, the medicare giveaway to the pharmacutical industry, strongarming fellow republicans to fall in line with threats, Enron, "K' street lobbyists and more. DeLay in the meanwhile continues to play the "victim" card (ala Jeff Gannon/Guckert), claiming this is all part of some left wing smear campaign against him by the "liberal media", but even Fox News has covered this situation and slowly begun to change their tone.

Last week, Sean Hannity claimed that there were similar allegations of ethics violations against House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and proceeded to ask his guests if they thought the Democrats would be as willing to investigate Pelosi as they have been to hot to investigate DeLay? The ridiculousness of that question in the midst of an ethnics committee that isn't investigating anything due to rules changes implemented by DeLay, clearly didn't dawn on him.

Last year the House Ethics committee admonished DeLay three times, in response he had two of the Republican members of the committee who had voted against him replaced with members who had donated money to his own criminal defense fund. They then proceeded to change the rule that stated that issues would be automatically investigated even if there was a 5 to 5 dead-lock between the Democrats and Republicans on the commitee. The new rule enforces a default that they would not investigate in case of a dead-lock. As a result of this rule change the Ethics commitee has not met, as the Democrats now refuse to participate. Nothing and noone is being investigated. If the rule were reversed and the commitee were to meet, not only would they against investigate DeLay again, it's almost guaranteed that they would investigate allegations against Pelosi and others. Therefore Sean, as usual, shows that he is nothing but a man-of-straw and a right-wing shill.

This week, Fox News pundits on Special Report with Brit Hume seemed to have cooled on their support of DeLay. They now say that he's "brought most of this [criticism] on himself with his behavior" and that this isn't entirely the fault of a "vast left-wing conspiracy". Further, they went on to say (unwittingly echoing what Bill Clinton has been saying for the last few years) that both the left and right-wing are indeed vast, but also right out in the open. The DeLay scandals have gotten so bad that it's managed to arouse a perpetually slumbering CNN, prompting their own special report on the subject. But not even the "Clinton News Network" is anywhere near the worst of the allegations which have been circulating on the true left-wing (ie. Air America & Pacifica Radio), which have been talking about Delay's trip to the U.S. Territory of Saipan as the guest of members and lobbyists of that nations child-sex industry.

It's been reported that while in Saipan, DeLay visited some of their brothels - No, not as a client - and upon returning to the U.S. proceeded to ensure that Congress would not pass any lays threatening the current legal status of such companies. In short, he was paid by lobbyist to protect Saipan's child-prostitution rings from being declared illegal. This allegation hasn't even reached CNN or Fox News yet, and when it does - I suspect all hell's gonna break loose in the bible belt.

Moderate Republicans such as Rep. Christopher Shay's have already called for him to resign, while Right-Wing water-boy Sen. Rick Santorum has asked for DeLay to step forward and explain before the ethics commitee. But of course, there effectively is no more House Ethics Commitee. Delay has no one to explain too, and there's no one to give him a fourth, fifth and sixth slap on the wrist. He's also been losing ground (now polling below 50%) in his home district, which he just barely won last year, so things are starting to look a bit - dire.

DeLay's only chance is to undo the Ethics commitee rule change, let them investigate him, face the music and let that process "santize him" as it has in the past. Unfortunately, he's shown no inclination to do this, so he's simply going to twist in the wind and slowly drag the entire party down with him. (Good!) Certainly other Republicans will increasing begin to distance themselves from DeLay, but seeing as all but five Republican members of the House owe their seats to DeLay and his amazing fund raising, that's about as likely as a Red-spotted Owl turning Blue. This could turn into a serious threat to the Republican Majority in the House, or at least to the right-wing stranglehold on the party which might begin to elec a few people of genuine character and principle such as Chris Shays or Sen. Voinovich.

Either way, it's a good thing for the American people and I say bring it on in 2006!

Vyan

Tuesday, April 19

Growing a Spine?

Moments ago the Senate re-adjourned and Majority Leader Bill Frist called for unanimous consent for a recess. Why? Well, it has to do with the Foreign Relations committee and UN nominee John Bolton. Committee member Sen Dodd (D) had become aware, on top of the various allegations of being a "serial abuser" and attempting to re-craft threat information regarding Cuba, that as Deputy Secretary of State, Bolton had requested access to secure NSA intelligence intercepts in order to "spy" on other members of the government. Dodd has requested access to the intercepts in order to confirm their contents and question Bolton on why he needed access to them, but the administration has been slow in providing the information, while the committee is scheduled to vote today and submitting the Bolton nomination to the floor of the Senate. In order to provent this vote and allow time to access the documents to be provided, Democrats have stated that they will shutdown the committee. Frist has attempted to block this by effectively shutting down the Senate and forcing the committee to meet.

Problem is, as soon as he requested "unanimous consent" to recess the Senate for two hours - Democratic Senators Boxer and Kennedy objected. This forced a quorum call, and a vote to confirm the recess. Right now I'm watching C-Span as the vote proceeds. If Republicans win, Bolton will likely to be confirmed. But if not...

All that is needed to block Bolton in committee is for one Republican to grow a spine and right now the most likely spinal transplant candidate is Republican Chuck Hagel who has stated his reservations about Bolton, saying that if just one more allegation [against Bolton] comes forward, he wasn' sure he could vote to confirm. Well this is one more, and there are other allegations involving Bolton's harrasment (screaming, chasing one woman through the hallways of a hotel and throwing objects at her) of independent contractors in Russia.

The next couple hours should be very exciting. Stay tuned.


Update:

Well, the meeting of the Foreign Relations commitee is complete and the results are fairly surprising. John Bolton's nomination was not forwarded to the full Senate, but neither is his confirmation over.

After a stirring presentation by Sen. John Kerry documenting how Bolton claimed that he has not had tried to have state department intelligence analyst Westerman fired, and how four other witnesses including Mr. Westermans direct supervisor Karl Ford (a Republican) had contradicted these claims, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel stated that he would vote to move the confirmation to the floor, but once on the floor he would vote against comfirmation. Chairman Lugar attempted to have the commitee vote to send the issue to the floor as soon as possible, despite further comments by Senators Boxer and Obama - until Republican Senator Voinovich who stated he had been unable to attend some of the crucial Bolton hearings stated that he couldn't in good conscious vote in favor after listening to the concerns brought by the other side. Without Voinovich's vote the commitee would have dead-locked at 9 to 9, so Chairman Lugar quickly downshifted from trying to push the issue out into the full Senate to making a deal with ranking Democrat Joe Biden to give more time to examine the Bolton matter, including additional testimony from the nominee and others witnesses and full cooperations from the CIA and State Department, starting in two weeks after the upcoming Senate recess.

As a result the Bolton nomination will remain in commitee - and under further examination may completely implode. Score one for the good guys.

Vyan