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July 31, 2004

Isn't Kerry a Catholic?

Catholicism has always been hugely confusing for me. Apparently you're not supposed to worship false idols, but it's okay to embrace edicts from an organization that claims they've got the red phone to (G)od. There's all that incredible iconography and breathtaking contributions to art. There's the ceremony, all that baroque splendor. And the heirarchy. And the costumes. I guess it would be easy to be attracted to the opulence of Cathlolicism, but the politics of it are totally beyond me.

Plenty of perfectly fine people are Catholics, but I can not help wonder how they can continue to particpate in a church that speaks out against birth control, divorce, homosexuality, and now, of all things, feminism.

This doesn't appear to be the work of the usual radical crazy clergy and it has the endorsement of the Pope. I'm not a religious person and I would never try to coax anyone away from their faith - no more than I would try to convince anyone to adopt mine, but honestly, I don't get it. Is there a Catholic rebellion going on some where that I don't know about? I would like to hear about it. Can anyone explain this?

Also in Seattle

Keep your eyes open for the Pants-on-Fire mobile! That's my friend Emily behind the wheel, or maybe my friend Margot. Be sure to flag them down and ask them for a sticker that features the Leader of the Free World with - you guessed it - his pants on fire. Ask them to take your picture with the 12 foot likeness of W. complete with - yes, that's right - flaming pants. And congratulate them for bringing George all the way from Spokane.

Hey You Seattlites—Magnuson Park Today

In 1874 in the far southwestern corner of New York State, an event was founded that provided a place where families could gather together for several days of education, inspiration, enlightenment, and enjoyment. From miles around people came in the summertime to an encampment along the shore of Lake Chautauqua where they heard from speakers of national renown, listened to bands and glee clubs, enjoyed plays, dined together, and generally engaged in an open forum for the discussion of public issues, literature, music, and science.

It was the Chautauqua movement that inspires Rolling Thunder, which is holding an event today out at Magnuson Park. The web site leaves something to be desired with regard to organization, but the event sounded great this morning on Mind Over Matters's Community Forum. AH! Here's the schedule for the main stage, and here's the schedule of workshops.

I have a small family reunion going at lunch time today, but I'm going to try to swing by Rolling Thunder later in the afternoon (it runs to 8 PM).

July 30, 2004

Zogby poll shows Rove strategy in tatters

I've been reading a lot about Karl Rove--you know, "Bush's Brain"--and pace Mencken I think he's going to make Bush lose by overestimating the stupidity of the American people. It is Rove we have to thank for the "divider not uniter" reality W has unleashed--Rove believed that Bush I lost because he didn't protect the Republican base (read: "wingnuts"). Thus, everything Bush II has done has been about pumping them up, secure that the rest of the nation was too disorganized to do anything about it. Not only was he wrong about that, he seems to have completely discounted the possibility that people who hadn't voted for a while (or ever) might be motivated to fight back. The Zogby numbers reveal that among non-voters in 2000, Kerry is leading Bush 2-1 and that he's picking up Nader 2000 voters 3-1 over W.

While the evidence that non-voters are more likely to vote this year is mainly anecdotal so far, the latest polling must be giving Rove and his stuffing-headed boss a lot of heartburn. By way of Eschaton:

The most recent Zogby poll shows deeper trouble for President George W. Bush beyond just the horserace. Mr. Bush has fallen in key areas while Senator John Kerry has shored up numerous constituencies in his base. The Bush team's attempted outreach to base Democratic and swing constituency has shown to be a failure thus far, limiting his potential growth in the electorate.

Um, is this attempted outreach? If so, anyone surprised it's failing? Seriously, read the Zogby numbers below... it will make you smile. They certainly confirm my suspicion that single women are the smartest people in the country!

Among Hispanic Voters:
Kerry 69%
Bush 19%

Among Southern Voters:
Kerry 48%
Bush 46%

Viewed Favorably in the South:
Kerry 55%
Bush 55%

Bush's Job Performance in the South: 44%

US Headed in the Right Direction in the South: 43%

Among Young Voters (18-29) :
Kerry 53%
Bush 33%

Among Single Voters:
Kerry 69%
Bush 19%

In the Red States:
Kerry 46%
Bush 48%

In the Blue States:
Kerry 50%
Bush 38%

Among People Who Did Not Vote in 2000:
Kerry 50%
Bush 25%

Turning a corner, or gone round the bend?

Dear Leader unveiled his new campaign theme today, "we've turned a corner, and we're not turning back." Like so many other things borne of this administration, something about it seems creepy.

I liked Kerry's optimistic, if somewhat goofy, theme of "help is on the way." It reassured me, anyway, because it implied, not so subtlely, that we're all in some pretty desperate need of rescue from the current administration, and the firefighters know exactly which room we're all hiding from the flames in.

But this one is not in the least optimistic. In some ways, it's actually very fatalistic. As in, "yes, we were once a safe, happy nation, but what with all the terrorism and war and such, that's over." But more likely as in, "we were once a nation of laws, but now we're a nation of my rules," or "we were once a representative democracy, but now we're a fundamentalist christian theocracy." The "we're not turning back" part says to me, "so get used to it you liberal whiners. The US you loved so much is gone."

Of course, this all goes along with Bush's unwavering determination to continue along a path once he's set out on it, despite any new evidence that might come along to show there was a better route to follow. The man is not a flip-flopper, and he's made that abundantly clear. He's more of a concrete-filled combat boot. And if there really is no turning back, then I fear we're all going to be sleeping with Luca Brasi by the time Bush is done with us.

Cold war: Reloaded

With all the news about the hot war in Iraq and the warm war in Afghanistan (not to mention the political battle at home), few have noticed that a new cold war has begin. Slate's Fred Kaplan has, and North Korea is the new Soviet Union.

In 1972, Richard Nixon signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The treaty prevents each side from deploying defense systems which could shoot down nuclear missiles as they approach the home country. It may seem surprising that Nixon would agree to leave the US open to nuclear attack, but in actuality this treaty is a logical agreement to prevent each side engaging in an arms race neither can win.

The fundamental problem, without this treaty in place, is that it's far cheaper to build missiles than it is to build missile defenses. If one side builds, say, four anti-missile silos, then the other just needs to build five missiles and launch them simultaneously. In fact, to guarantee a hit, the offensive side must launch multiple missiles for a strike for a strike to be effective. Anti-missile systems are not 100% effective, so many of these will get through.

Basically, this means that the Hiroshima solution for ending a war is no longer an option. It's all-out annihilation, or it's nothing.

Despite this scenario of mutually-assured destruction, the Bush administration has abandoned the sound principles of the ABM treaty and has quietly deployed one anti-missile interceptor in Alaska (which is on the flight path from Korea). To counter this, North Korea needs to simply build two missiles. We can build more interceptors, of course, but it's easier and much cheaper to build missiles than the network of ground-based and space-based systems necessary to thwart an attack.

And so, it begins. With the third front now open, we now have wars hot, warm, and cold.

Open Thread

Wracked by a spasm of optimism, I created a new category. Marti, you asked for it, so keep the good news coming. Of course if Kerry loses the very thought of this moment will require an entire bottle of whisky to drown my sorrow... but seriously, I haven't felt this optimistic since my sophomore year in college, walking across the damp flagstone paths at Yale, hearing Clinton's acceptance speech echo across the courtyard from every window.

So, here's an open thread. Everyone please chime in with thoughts about Kerry's speech (or the convention as a whole).

Get your (botched) war on

If you don't know about Get Your War On, you should.

war272.gif

Go to the site... it just gets better.

Take your meds, whiners

From the Dep't of Shit you couldn't make up

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A campaign worker for President Bush said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?" said Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.

The comment was apparently directed to a colleague who was transferring a phone call from a reporter asking about job quality, and who overheard the remark.

When told the Prozac comment had been overheard, Sheybani said: "Oh, I was just kidding."

While recent employment growth has buoyed Bush's economic record, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has argued the new jobs are not as good as those lost due to outsourcing in recent years.

Nearly 1.1 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office in January 2001.

Make that 1,100,001, don't you think? Oh, wait, Bush never fires anyone for incompetence--too frightening a concept for Chimpy McCokespoon.

July 29, 2004

Sex toys illegal

Alabama hates dildoes. And the 11th Circuit agrees. Says Law.com (link from Sully):

Americans do not have a fundamental right to sexual privacy, a 2-1 decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said on Wednesday.

The split panel upheld an Alabama law -- nearly identical to one in Georgia -- that made the sale of sex toys a crime punishable by up to a year in prison.

This would be funny if it weren't so ridiculous. Please, somebody, show me the government that is SO successful at defending our borders, educating our children, healing the sick and feeding the hungry that it has time to legislate and deliberate about what products consenting adults should be allowed to put in various orifices! Hint: it bloody well is NOT Alabama, where a decent number of people still lack indoor plumbing.

If there was any true conservatism left in the "conservative" movement, they would take one look at this issue and go, "Oooh, don't go there!" But 25 years into the "Reagan revolution," there is apparently nowhere too private, too personal, or too petty for the government to try to insert its prying fingers. And yes, that's exactly the metaphor I wanted--it's almost as if the conservatives are after a government monopoly on the right to drive that dildo home. A vote for Bush is a vote to bend over for the Gross Old Proctologists! My fellow Americans, I say to you now, there is not enough lube in this great country of ours to make that prospect even remotely enjoyable.

It's been a busy week

So I guess I missed this amusing story about USA Today's decision not to run a particularly stupid piece by Ann Coulter on the Democratic Convention. Human Events Online published the squashed piece, along with the editorial comments from USA Today, which tend to be along the lines of "I don't get it," and "Is that last sentence supposed to be sarcastic? If so, you sure lost me." The comments definitely make the piece more readable. In addition to the usual Ann Coulter tirade of unreasoned conservatism, the article is really just weird and sort of gives one the impression that Coulter isn't actually at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, but maybe traveling in time back to the 1968 one. For example, following up on her assertion that all of the "pretty girls" at the convention are actually conservative infiltrators, she asserts:

As for the pretty girls, I can only guess that it’s because liberal boys never try to make a move on you without the UN Security Council's approval. Plus, it’s no fun riding around in those dinky little hybrid cars. My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call "women" at the Democratic National Convention.

I'm not actually sure what to make of this paragraph. Is this to say that all of the democratic women are midwestern granola types? Isn't that what corn-fed implies--from the cornbelt? So then what happened to all the East Coast liberal elitists her ilk is always accusing the left of using to fill it ranks? And "hippie chick pie wagon"? I'm not sure I can even begin to parse that one. Pie wagon? So we've got a whole bunch of tye-dye wearing, unwashed, midwesterners who showed up driving antique Fords? Because I'm not seeing much of that in the images from the current party in Boston.

In response to USA Today's decision not to run the piece, Coulter said, Apparently USA Today doesn’t like my ‘tone,’ humor, sarcasm, etc. etc., which raises the intriguing question of why they hired me to write for them in the first place. Perhaps they thought they were getting Catherine Coulter.”

Or perhaps they thought they were getting a columnist who could write a somewhat controversial, snappy, and amusing opinion piece. I would argue that they were somewhat misguided in believing Ann could deliver on that promise, but I'm sure they were not expecting a piece that sounds like it was generated by one of those automated applications that piece together strings of keywords and phrases to assemble an opinion piece: it uses plenty of the right words, but still doesn't make any sense.


Falwell to open GOP convention

If it weren't such good news for Kerry, this news would cause my head to explode. Falwell will pray, pray, pray! the Republican National Convention into session in New York next month.

While the media had a field day with Al Sharpton hitting W a little harder than the script read, do you think they will recap some of Falwell's greatest hits? Who can forget Christofacist ramblings like these?

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"
-- Rev. Jerry Falwell, 9/12/01, quoted in "God Gave U.S. 'What We Deserve,' Falwell Says," The Washington Post 9/14/2001

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country."
--Sermon, July 4, 1976

"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
--America Can Be Saved, 1979

"The Bible is the inerrant ... word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible,without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc."
-- Finding Inner Peace and Strength, 1982

"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."
--CBC television debate debate between Falwell and gay minister Rev. Troy Perry, 7/6/83

Falwell isn't just some kooky preacher. He founded the group "Moral Majority" that spawned the "Christian Right" politcal apparatus and has done more than any one person to twist the faith of my fathers into a hateful force bent on hijacking our democratic process with the ultimate goal of asserting theocracy. Before Pat Robertson, before Ralph Reed, there was Falwell, spouting a doctrine that sucks all the love out of Christ's ministry and replaces it with fear and discord. He is simply a false prophet, and the Bible he finds infallible is pretty explicit about what happens to them in The End. Let me just say, if I'm wrong, and Falwell ends up in Heaven I'll be happy to enjoy brimstone cocktails with Beelzebub every day at 5 for all eternity.

We had been hearing that the RNC wanted to keep the convention mainstream, but the far-right was pissed that prime slots were going to moderates like Rudy and Ahnold. And we know how thoroughly they have W by the, um, ear. If this is how the convention is starting it will likely turn into a repeat of 1992--where the Christian Coalition flexed its muscle and Pat Buchanan's "religious war in America" invocation terrified reasonable Americans and helped elect Clinton.

July 28, 2004

What he said

The great Seattle-based "Lawyers, Guns and Money" blog is a joy. We need to meet these guys. The following comment, from the post Refighting the Civil War: the correct rhetorical response is one of the best few sentences I've ever read in a blog.

"States' rights" is, of course, a constitutionally meaningless term. In the context of American constitutionalism, to talk about governments having rights is a giant non-sequitur. States have powers; rights belong to individuals. What "states' rights" means is "rhetorical cover for policies that are completely indefensible on their merits," and when one understands this it makes perfect sense to say that southern secession was about "states' rights."

But more importantly, it's baffling that it's apologists for apartheid police sta...er, "federalism" that bring this up. The obvious response to this line of reasoning is "sure, the Civil War was fought for states' rights. And states' rights lost. Better luck at the track, assholes!" The Civil War seems to be the only conflict in which history was largely written by the losers...

Hats off, gentlemen. We'll footnote you next time we get the chance to use this amazing slapdown. (And imagine our joy that it's an Ann Coulter slapdown!)

Ewww!

KIRO has all the restaurant inspection violation date here. If you page through, you'll see restaurants like Toi and 5 Spot as well as Las Margaritas and Nibbana Thai--two eateries near my office that I eat at all the time. Or at least used to.

Once more, with feeling

Hey, just one last reminder that tomorrow is the last day John Kerry can accept campaign contributions, so please do what you can to make one more before he accepts the nomination, and do what you can to remind everyone you know to donate one more time.

http://contribute.johnkerry.com

July 27, 2004

Jimmah!

Former President Jimmy Carter (The Velvet Hammer – thank you Jon Stewart) at the opening night of the Democratic National Convention delivered five principles of national and global citizenship:

“In repudiating extremism we need to recommit ourselves to a few common- sense principles that should transcend partisan differences. First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.”

Thank you, Mr. President, for taking it to the Bush Administration.

If you would like to read the entire speech, it deserves reading. Unfortunately, network coverage was and is so limited that we only got the prelims and the Clintons. But thankfully, for political junkies like me, the cable news coverage is incredibly over the top complete. Oh, and by the way, I will be this engrossed, if not more so, when the Republicans hit NYC - I can't wait to see the police picket lines!

July 26, 2004

Perfect "Dear John" Media

Here's some stationery I won't be licking closed: paper made from elephant dung. "Sheets have a unique color and texture, depending on the diet, age and dental health of the elephant that has produced the dung..." Apparently, George W. has been presented with a box of said paper, perhaps to celebrate his party's mascot. I hope that DeLay and Frist will present their future legislative texts on dung paper.

Margaret responds

Well, the HRC responds and has an interesting quote from Margaret Cho at the end. Sounds like she's pissed off, but not terminally.

Thank you for taking the time to contact the Human Rights Campaign regarding your concerns about the attendance of Margaret Cho at the Unity ’04 event at the Democratic National Convention. I want to assure you that the Human Rights Campaign loves Margaret Cho, and respects her as an artist.

We would like to apologize for any distress or embarrassment this may have caused her or the community. We too are disappointed and saddened about an environment where GLBT Americans are the focus of President Bush’s effort to distract American voters.
The best way to bring about a positive and inclusive America is to defeat President Bush in November. With enormous national press attention at our event, we want to ensure that the only messages coming out of Boston are positive.
We did not want to allow the GLBT community, and our celebration, to be used as political fodder for the extreme right at this particular time, in this particular setting. That’s why we made this decision. We look forward to re-uniting with Margaret Cho in the future and continuing our vibrant relationship with her.
To win in November we must all be united. You may also be interested in reading a statement posted on Margaret Cho’s website. This is viewable at the following link, http://margaretcho.net/blog/, but the text is provided below for your convenience.
I appreciate you taking the time to forward your concerns to HRC, and please know that feedback like yours is very valuable to HRC as an organization, as it provides us with the best way to evaluate how our members and supporters are responding to the work that we're engaged in. Should you have any future concerns or questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me again!
Respectfully,
Laura Dalrymple
Member Services Coordinator


Statement from www.margaretcho.com:
7/22/2004
A Call For Unity

I am very disappointed not to be going to the Democratic National Convention, as I wholeheartedly believe that this election is vital to the future of our nation, and no one has more emotionally invested in the outcome than I.

Although I don't believe it was the right decision, I am not angry with the HRC for withdrawing their invitation for me to perform. I will continue to support them, for we must remain united. Divided, we are of little use to each other. Unfortunately, I hear they have felt the destructive power of division as a result of their actions. I regret any harm that may have been done to them, and to the important cause of democracy.

I believe in the right for all Americans to be equal, and for us to be treated with decency and respect, no matter who we are. As long as we reside within these borders, and call ourselves citizens of this great nation, we have a responsibility to uphold that greatness.

I will continue to do my part, to rise above the unjust and unfair always, even when that justice and fairness is being withheld by my own people.

More on outing

MAJeff, the official homo on the DailyKos blog, has a great post on the Big Gay Controversy of the moment--the outing of gay staffers who work for anti-gay lawmakers (as I commented on last week). If you think Virginia is for Haters is tough, check out BlogActive, run by Michael Rogers--who has now replaced Michaelangelo Signorile as political outer-in-chief. (Don't miss the post about Rogers' beating O'Reilly at his own game.)

Having had my own first-hand view of the twisting of healthy sexuality that invariably comes when power heads into the Capitol Hill closet, I am unconflicted on this issue. The people outed recently aren't just closeted--one has even modeled in his underwear for a gay weekly--but leading double lives. And as the editor of the Washington Blade stated in an article in yesterday's NYT, the media have no obligation to protect anyone's double life. The idea that they do rests on a fundamental misunderstanding that MAJeff brilliantly lays bare: the idea that sexuality is a private matter. To quote MAJEff:


The larger point here is that heterosexuality is far from private. It's publicly enacted every day. Every time a married woman refers to herself as "Mrs. So-and-So", she's coming out as a heterosexual. When straight folks talk about their spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends, they're publicly enacting their heterosexuality. When the men on this site swoon over Stephanie Herseth, they're making their heterosexuality public. I'm not complaining about that, I'm just putting forth some of the ways that heterosexuality--as a social construct and a personal "lifestyle"--is far from private.

In the same way, when the people who have been outed belong to gay groups, when they frequent gay restaurants and bars, when they bring partners in public, they're making their homosexuality public.

What happens is that sexuality gets conflated with sexual acts alone. When I state on this site that I'm gay, I have told you absolutely nothing about what I do or don't do in bed. That part, for me, is private. My overall sexuality, however, is not. I'm part of a public community. I take actions in public settings; I frequent gay establishments. These are public, and they are related to my sexuality.

What many people need to understand are the myriad ways that sexuality is publicly enacted--and enforced. Sexuality is more than what we do in bed. It shapes so many other areas in our lives. Often, we aren't aware of the ways these things are done. But, just because we don't see them doesn't mean they don't occur.

While words like "Gay Uncle Tom" are undoubtedly hurtful, the metaphor is on target. The Times seems to sympathize with the "chilling effect on how many people navigate their lives, professionally and socially." I would hope so. The DC gay scene for too long has been happy to quite literally sleep with those who sleep with the enemy. That's the crux of this--as Republicans come to get us where we live, so the gay community is hitting the henchmen of the haters where they live.

We are talking here about people who are complicit with a political movement that would deny them--and all gays--full citizenship. For most of these lawmakers, their position rests on a denial of our full humanity. There will always be people who want to kiss the boot as it stomps on their face, to paraphrase one of the comments on Kos's site, so I don't really need to know much about how these staffers defend their choices. What I do know is that any argument about "trying to change the Republican party from the inside" rings more hollow at this moment than ever it has. Just ask any Log Cabin Republican you know--after years of laboring under the "change from the inside" delusion, they are faced with a party that has made it clear it doesn't want them. Or us.

I've read recently, on several VAhaters posts, that "the only good fag is a dead fag." While perhaps most Republicans don't go that far, it is clear is they believe "the only good fag is a silent fag." This new round of outing is about denying collaborators of their silence--and thus their utility to the masters they serve. Just as I intended with the Virginia boycott, these outings are a clear signal that we as a community are fighting back with whatever means necessary. Given the stakes, I find the moral calculus behind this new round of outing unassailable.

July 23, 2004

Beeb: "US army food... just add urine"

There's no way to make this stuff up. So would that be MRE or MRpee? (Thanks x2, Ray!)

what a bunch of weidos

OK, here is a fresh perspective on the whole "Annie Jacobsen freaking-out incident". What are the odds of this many weirdos being on the same flight? Sounds like all parties should have handled themselves a tad better.

AIR MARSHALS SAY PASSENGER OVERREACTED
By ERIC LEONARD
KFI NEWS

LOS ANGELES | July 22, 2004 – Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, “overreacted,” to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS.

The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.

Jacobsen, a self-described freelance writer, has published two stories about her experience at womenswallstreet.com, a business advice web site designed for women.

“The lady was overreacting,” said the source. “A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane.”

The middle eastern men were identified by federal agents as a group of touring musicians travelling to a concert date at a casino, said Air Marshals spokesman Dave Adams.

Jacobsen wrote she became alarmed when the men made frequent trips to the lavatory, repeatedly opened and closed the overhead luggage compartments, and appeared to be signaling each other.

“Initially it was brought to [the air marshals] attention by a passenger,” Adams said, adding the agents had been watching the men and chose to stay undercover.

Jacobsen and her husband had a number of conversations with the flight attendants and gestured towards the men several times, the source said.

“In concert with the flight crew, the decision was made to keep [the men] under surveillance since no terrorist or criminal acts were being perpetrated aboard the aircraft; they didn’t interfere with the flight crew,” Adams said.

The air marshals did, however, check the bathrooms after the middle-eastern men had spent time inside, Adams said.

FBI agents met the plane when it landed in Los Angeles and the men were questioned, and Los Angeles field office spokeswoman Cathy Viray said it’s significant the alarm on the flight came from a passenger.

“We have to take all calls seriously, but the passenger was worried, not the flight crew or the federal air marshals,” she said. “The complaint did not stem from the flight crew.”

Several people were questioned, she said, but no one was detained.

Jacobsen’s husband Kevin told KFI NEWS he approached a man he thought was an air marshal after the flight had landed.

“You made me nervous,” Kevin said the air marshal told him.

“I was freaking out,” Kevin replied.

“We don’t freak out in situations like this,” the air marshal responded.

Federal agents later verified the musicians’ story.

“We followed up with the casino,” Adams said. A supervisor verified they were playing a concert. A second federal law enforcement source said the concert itself was monitored by an agent.

“We also went to the hotel, determined they had checked into the hotel,” Adams said. Each of the men were checked through a series of databases and watch-lists with negative results, he said.

The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen’s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.

Air marshals’ only tactical advantage on a flight is their anonymity, the source said, and Jacobsen could have put the entire flight in danger.

“They have to be very cognizant of their surroundings,” spokesman Adams confirmed, “to make sure it isn’t a ruse to try and pull them out of their cover.”

KFI reporter Jessica Rosenthal contributed to this report.

Spot the Difference

If you need a relaxing break from your busy day, why not play spot the difference with this tranquil pastoral scene. (Thanks, Ray.)

Smooth Moves

I was just watching CNN and saw a clip of Bush speaking to the Urban League. He was doing his usual disgusting little laugh and said "Blacks are choking on the donkey but not yet ready to swallow the elephant". Take that however you like...

Blah

Morality is more than stubbornness and cavalier use of overwhelming force.

Leadership is more than promotion of the views of a simple majority.

I miss hearing Bob Edwards.

July 22, 2004

Outing is OK

I think we have reached the point where being gay is mainstream enough that if you are closeted you are simply a cheater. Proof that you can't have it both ways--especially if you're in politics--comes from the Washington Blade, via AMERICAblog


Wow, the Washington Blade just released TWO amazing stories outing a flurry of gays who work for anti-gay Republicans.

The first story outed two gay advisers to anti-gay Republican Senate candidate Mel Martinez from Florida. Martinez, who recently ran a radio ad comparing gay marriage to life under dictatorship in Cuba, not only has a gay finance chair for his election campaign (Kirk Fordham) but he also had a gay adviser to his campaign WHO WAS THE FORMER HEAD OF THE FLORIDA CHRISTIAN COALITION, John Dowless.

The second story outs the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (Jay Timmons), the organization under the helm of anti-gay Senator George Allen (R-VA) that regularly uses gays to bash Democratic candidates.

But the more egregious story is clearly the first where it talks about the anti-gay gay who headed the Florida Christian Coalition.

Seriously, if you have any qualms about outing, read this story. Un. Be. Lievable. And what fun for all the wingnuts in Florida... to imagine that their Christian soldier was a polesmoker the whole time!

Hey HRC-- about that donation...

Grrr... the HRC has disinvited Margaret Cho from an upcoming fundraiser in DC in the wake of l'Affaire Whoopi. Spineless, spineless, spineless!

As Kos points out, Dennis Miller can make gay jokes about Kerry and Edwards, and the Governator can call his opponents "girlie men"... and let us not forget the shit that Clinton took every damn day. But making fun of Bush is off limits. Why does the HRC have to be more uptight than a gaggle of Log Cabin Republican tops? I dunno. But until they unclench and put Margaret on that stage, they won't be getting any more money from us!

I'm fascinated, and disgusted

By the determination Republican leaders are demonstrating in their never ending fight to prevent gay people from getting married.

They lost last week, so today they're trying to pass legislation to prevent judges from ruling that states must allow gay marriages to comply with nondiscrimination clauses in state constitutions.

Write your representative. Again. It's hard to get any work done these days. Every day there's some new threat we suddenly have to defend the country from. And they're all coming out of Congress.

One more week to give Kerry-Edwards money

After they accept the nomination and the Federal matching funds, that's it, friends. So cash 'em up today, why don't you? If you contribute by Saturday, you'll even get two free bumper stickers!

Bush scuttles middle class tax cuts

From Pandagon:

"The White House helped to block a Republican-brokered deal on Wednesday to extend several middle-class tax cuts[.]"

But...but...why?

"House and Senate Republicans had badly wanted to pass a popular tax-cutting bill before the Democratic convention next week."

"But in an improbable series of machinations, White House officials opposed the tentative deal worked out between House and Senate Republican leaders that would have extended the tax cuts for two years at a cost of about $80 billion."

...But...but...head hurts...must watch EX-treme Dating...

"[The Bush White House was] fearful of a bill that could draw Democratic votes and dilute a Republican campaign theme, Republican negotiators said."

As a commenter asked, why does Bush hate the middle class? The idea that this had to be blocked because it had TOO WIDE an appeal in Congress shows how insanely twisted the administration's Rove-driven policy/campaign has become.

Heaven forbid anyone dilute a Repub campaign theme--which is apparently "we have to kill the middle class to save it."

Speaking up on abortions

So I am putting this post under the "politics" category instead of "I'm just a girl" because this isn't just a "girl" issue...

In today's NY Times, Barbara Ehrenreich writes about being "irk[ed]" by women who won't acknowledge their own abortions. She goes on to skewer women who abort after finding out that their fetuses have some sort of defect and don't see the procedure as an "abortion" of the same sort as women who abort for other reasons.

I have to think that this criticism is about the meanest thing I have ever read in the NY Times. (Including quotes from Cheney.) Not only to I agree with these women (aborting a fetus bound to suffer and die an early death seems like an act of mercy), but I understand that they need to comfort themselves however they can. That their private justifications should be discussed in the NY Times is antithetical to the whole abortion rights movement. We have fought for decades to make this a private decision that doesn't have to be justified to anyone.

To be fair, she then goes on to "out" herself as having had abortions for purely economic reasons. (I don't want to know this.) And she does say that she supports the rights of all women. But she then goes on to make an argument that it is up to women who have had abortions to speak out and protect their rights. Now thank god I have never had to make this choice, but I would imagine that having conceived a child, look forward to its birth, finding out it is seriously deformed, making the decision to abort, telling everyone "oops, guess I'm not pregnant", and coming to terms with what you went through, (gasp for air), you probably wouldn't really feel like running around defending abortion rights.

So I propose that we all, I repeat all, guard the right to have an abortion with as much fervor as we hold for everything else. Just as I will do everything I can to protect the rights of people of color, minority religions, and gay rights, I ask that you protect this white Lutheran-raised-now-agnostic woman.

July 21, 2004

Call me Ahab

More proof we're travelling backwards in time. Maybe we could bring back witch trials, too.

Oh, wait.

More on airlines, fear, and racism

This started as a comment but then got too long. I, too, read the Salon article, various blog posts, and the original article... and while I share Paulette's concern about racial profiling, I just don't think it's fair to equate the article--or the concerns it rests on--with xenophobic expressions along a continuum that ends in anti-Arab hate crimes. Just because this is being used by talk radio idiots to fuel hysteria does not make telling the story an ipso facto act of racism. For reasons I'll get into in a moment, I found it interesting and important. And pace the fact that I almost always share David's love for Patrick Smith's prose stylings, I think he takes some cheap shots at Jacobsen.

Though the tone of the article is undeniably hysterical in places, and though I'm sure some details were embellished in their retelling, I'm unwilling to dismiss the issue out of hand. The author has some pretty decent credentials (time spent in the Middle East, initial friendliness with the passengers in question) that keep the story from feeling like a racist screed.

Nobody, I believe, has debunked her assertion that it was this incident that led to the increased onboard security that I found so unsettling last week. I can attest personally to the renewed seriousness with which the airlines are taking the "congregating in the aisles" issue. My Alaska flights to and from Newark last week were logistically quite difficult due to the "no queueing" rules. There were about 8 extra announcements about when the lavatories would be locked, how long until the meal service that would block access to the lavs, and how absolutely no passengers from coach could enter the first-class cabin for any reason. This applied to white little me as well as everyone else.

The attendants were very keyed up about it, and their anxiety made me anxious. I almost posted it about it at the time. I've been flying all my life, but it's to the point where I need to get a prescription for Xanax for when I fly. Between the chaos at the airport and concerns about security (coupled with the physical constraints of not being able to walk around the cabin), I've just been a basket case lately on long flights.

Annie Jacobsen may turn out to be a nutcase... but even if you are paranoid, sometimes they (in the global sense, not the Arab-specific sense) really are out to get you. And some of the details in the story (the men in question taking cell phones and cameras into the lavatory) would make me nervous too. Whether or not the men were Syrian, I can honestly say. Frankly, I would have found this article worth reading if it were a group of 14 Swedes!

I travel extensively for business (though much less than I used to) and I have never seen Arab or Arab-looking passengers singled out (though I know it happens). On the other hand, I have repeatedly seen people who were completely incapable of causing any harm hassled, somewhat gleefully, by the TSA drones. This included me when I was in a leg brace--TSA screeners made me laboriously unhook my brace, something that not even the super-suspicious Russian screeners required. I once saw a (lily white) man in a full-body brace have to struggle with his shoes to comply with the screener. And I have seen literally dozens of 70+ passengers remove shoes, belts, braces, splints, and even a western shirt with too many snaps. But, as the Annie Jacobson points out in her follow-up article, it's ridiculously easy to get metal knives at airside restaurants. The half-assed TSA approach only feeds peoples' fears (and the pettily sadistic randomness of their application of the "rules" is conditioning Americans to do whatever a person in uniform says to--but that's another story).

I would argue that the real problem with screening in the nation's airports is not that it is too selective-- it is that it is not selective enough. El Al is the model of airline security, and while skin color alone is not a flag in their system, they pay tremendous attention to national origin, passport stamps, and a list of questions that they ask you if you meet any combination of age, itinerary, and occupation. There are plenty of stories about innocent travelers who have been denied boarding on El Al until their stories could be confirmed. If you are serious about screening, that sort of approach makes complete sense to me. Much more sense than body-searching feeble grandmothers of any ethnicity.

My #1 fear when flying is the precise scenario the woman mentioned describes-- a bomb assembled on board from components that look harmless alone. Richard Clarke's book describes a threat that caused the Clinton administration to cancel trans-Pacific flights for a week. The intelligence mention plastic explosive, wristwatches, and bottles of contact lens solution, and mentioned that the bombs would be hidden in lavatories. Of course the airlines resisted efforts at the time to make permanent changes to security protocols... too costly.

Now that we, the taxpayers, have bailed out most of the major carriers (with nothing in return) and employ TSA screeners directly as Federal employees, I think it's ridiculous that security is still as lax (and capricious!) as it is. Given the ridiculousness of the screening protocols, if I had seen the activities this woman describes seeing, I would have been freaked out too. Whatever the color of the instrument-bearing bathroom vistors. (I am, after all, from Oklahoma City... where we know that bombers come in white as well as brown.) And certainly musical instruments, orthopedic shoes, and fast-food bags should be checked as thoroughly as my laptop and shoes are.

The real tragedy is that we didn't "done it right the first time" with regards to airline security. There was no political will to look at what works and how it could be implemented here--it was just done in a completely slapped-together "don't worry folks!" kind of way. Airline security is still a joke--just a joke that takes a lot longer than it used it. We will almost certainly see more airplane bombings, which will only increase the risk of racist profiling. How much better if we proactively identify threats and deal with them, to prevent bombings in the first place. Until that happens, people like Annie Jacobsen and I will be weirdly attuned to the lavatory habits of our fellow passengers. I really hope that doesn't put me in Rush Limbaugh's camp... but if so, the only think to do about it is medicate me heavily before taking me to the airport.

Enter racism, stage right

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, one of my biggest concerns has not been a repeat, but rather the repercussions on those who share the same, or even just somewhat related ethnic backgrounds, to the hijackers. These fears were founded, of course, as evidenced by the stories of people of Arab decent (or even non-Muslim, non-Arabs of similar skin tone) becoming the victims of hate crimes in this country. It made me sick how, traveling by plane a few days after international flights resumed that weekend, the airline employees made no bones about hassling and searching the Arab passengers and made such a show about letting obviously white passengers go through the security checkpoints without having their bags opened and searched thoroughly. I wasn't subjected to the humiliation of having my underwear held up to the light for inspection in front of everyone, but the Arab grandmother in front me was.

Anyway, today Salon is discussing an article that WomensWallStreet.com had the incredibly poor taste and judgement to publish, about one Americans terrifying ordeal of being trapped on a plane with 14 Syrian musicians who had the gaul, in this day and age, to be Muslim and on a plane. According to Salon, the piece has made the Internet rounds, and hasn't been adequately discredited as one Web site's bad judgement in publishing an obviously racist and pointless piece. I can't say anymore. I want to, but it's too busy a day. Just read this. And be pissed off.

Count me out

Speaking as an American Jew, I just want everyone to know that I HATE what the Israelis are doing.

The Roadless Traveled

The other day I got email from Maria Cantwell's office. I had to think about it for a while because I didn't really understand the impact of what she was talking about. (Note to Maria: I'm not a total pinhead, but I felt like I had to read this mail several times to find out what the problem is. Could you get some staffers who cut to the chase? "Roadless areas are in danger. Here's why..." Is that so much to ask?)

Here's the deal as I understand it. (The original mail is below.)

'Roadless areas' are no longer automatically protected - each state has to opt-in to the program. The state is responsible for presenting their plan for conservation, then USFS decides, state by state, how that roadless area will be managed.

The other day I got email from Maria Cantwell's office. I had to think about it for a while because I didn't really understand the impact of what she was talking about. (Note to Maria: Hire staffers who cut to the chase when they write your mail. We're busy and overloaded with information, and probably have ADD.)

Here's the deal as I understand it. (The original mail is below.)

'Roadless areas' are no longer automatically protected - each state has to opt-in to the program. The state is responsible for presenting their plan for conservation, then USFS decides, state by state, how that roadless area will be managed.

What's the problem? We have a plan already and according to Senator Cantwell, it works fine. And this opens the door for revisiting access to currently protected areas.

You can read more about the proposed ruling here. Don't be fooled by the language about how this is a "Plan to conserve roadless areas."

The Forest Service is taking comments right now. Overwhelming support by the American people helped put the last roadless area plan in place. Comments now can stop this new plan. You can get information about where to send your comments on the roadless areas site.

You can see Washington's roadless areas here.

And here's Senator Cantwell's mail:

Thank you for contacting me in the past with your thoughts on the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Knowing of your interest, I am writing you today to report a significant change recently announced by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to replace the protections provided by the Roadless Rule with a state petition process.

On July 12, 2004 Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced plans to develop a new rule that would replace the 2001 Roadless Rule with an "opt-in" state-by-state petition process. Under this new proposal, governors must petition the USFS to develop and establish rules that set parameters for conserving roadless areas in their respective states. State petitions would be given 18 months from the effective date of the final rule to be submitted and would identify areas for inclusion and exclusion. Once a state has completed its petition, the USFS would initiate a subsequent State-specific rulemaking for the management of inventoried roadless areas.

I find this proposal unfortunate and unnecessary. The 2001 Roadless Rule was a balanced policy that provided the U.S. Forest Service with the flexibility needed to conduct hazardous fuels reduction activities to protect forest health and rural communities, as well as build new roads in order to protect public safety within inventoried roadless areas. The 2001 Rule also ensures that our national forests will continue to provide clean drinking water for millions of Americans, critical wildlife habitats, and irreplaceable recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, and hiking.

In addition, the 2001 Rule was thoroughly vetted and enthusiastically supported by the American people. When developing the rule, the U.S. Forest Service conducted an extensive public process, including three years of official review and citizen participation, over 600 public meetings, and hearings on each National Forest and in each Forest Service region. In fact, the proposal garnered over 2.5 million positive comments, more than any other federal rule in history.

The proposed rule will be published by the Federal Register later this week and is available at: www.fs.fed.us. A 60-day public comment period has been established and written comments on the proposed rule may be mailed to: Content Analysis Team, ATTN: Roadless State Petitions, USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box 221090, Salt Lake City, UT 84122; faxed to (801) 517-1014; or e-mailed to statepetitionroadless@fs.fed.us. Comments also may be submitted through the web site http://www.regulations.gov. The Forest Service will issue a final rule after it evaluates public comments.

I encourage you to share your views with the Forest Service on this important issue. I appreciate your taking the time to share your opinion on this issue with me in the past,and I will keep you updated on future developments.

Sincerely,

Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

July 20, 2004

All your urinal are belong to us

This brings new meaning to the category "Good Targets."

Anyone want to help me get these stuck up all over Bellevue?

Strike a small blow for priority #4 these days

Which is, sadly, what the environment has become, to me at least. And to think, it used to be my biggest issue. But as Pam pointed out, there is so much that right now feels monumentally more oppressive and frightening, taking up our time.

Well, you can hopefully take 3 minutes to sign this petition to support the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, which is designed to cut polluting emissions. And at least let them know that we're watching them from all sides.

Krugman: The Arabian Candidate

Go. Read. This. Now. Before they throw Krugman into Abu Ghraib.

Actually, you can just read it below.

July 20, 2004
OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Arabian Candidate
By PAUL KRUGMAN

In the original version of "The Manchurian Candidate," Senator John Iselin, whom Chinese agents are plotting to put in the White House, is a right-wing demagogue modeled on Senator Joseph McCarthy. As Roger Ebert wrote, the plan is to "use anticommunist hysteria as a cover for a communist takeover."

The movie doesn't say what Iselin would have done if the plot had succeeded. Presumably, however, he wouldn't have openly turned traitor. Instead, he would have used his position to undermine national security, while posing as America's staunchest defender against communist evil.

So let's imagine an update - not the remake with Denzel Washington, which I haven't seen, but my own version. This time the enemies would be Islamic fanatics, who install as their puppet president a demagogue who poses as the nation's defender against terrorist evildoers.

The Arabian candidate wouldn't openly help terrorists. Instead, he would serve their cause while pretending to be their enemy.

After an attack, he would strike back at the terrorist base, a necessary action to preserve his image of toughness, but botch the follow-up, allowing the terrorist leaders to escape. Once the public's attention shifted, he would systematically squander the military victory: committing too few soldiers, reneging on promises of economic aid. Soon, warlords would once again rule most of the country, the heroin trade would be booming, and terrorist allies would make a comeback.

Meanwhile, he would lead America into a war against a country that posed no imminent threat. He would insinuate, without saying anything literally false, that it was somehow responsible for the terrorist attack. This unnecessary war would alienate our allies and tie down a large part of our military. At the same time, the Arabian candidate would neglect the pursuit of those who attacked us, and do nothing about regimes that really shelter anti-American terrorists and really are building nuclear weapons.

Again, he would take care to squander a military victory. The Arabian candidate and his co-conspirators would block all planning for the war's aftermath; they would arrange for our army to allow looters to destroy much of the country's infrastructure. Then they would disband the defeated regime's army, turning hundreds of thousands of trained soldiers into disgruntled potential insurgents.

After this it would be easy to sabotage the occupied country's reconstruction, simply by failing to spend aid funds or rein in cronyism and corruption. Power outages, overflowing sewage and unemployment would swell the ranks of our enemies.

Who knows? The Arabian candidate might even be able to deprive America of the moral high ground, no mean trick when our enemies are mass murderers, by creating a climate in which U.S. guards torture, humiliate and starve prisoners, most of them innocent or guilty of only petty crimes.

At home, the Arabian candidate would leave the nation vulnerable, doing almost nothing to secure ports, chemical plants and other potential targets. He would stonewall investigations into why the initial terrorist attack succeeded. And by repeatedly issuing vague terror warnings obviously timed to drown out unfavorable political news, his officials would ensure public indifference if and when a real threat is announced.

Last but not least, by blatantly exploiting the terrorist threat for personal political gain, he would undermine the nation's unity in the face of its enemies, sowing suspicion about the government's motives.

O.K., end of conceit. President Bush isn't actually an Al Qaeda mole, with Dick Cheney his controller. Mr. Bush's "war on terror" has, however, played with eerie perfection into Osama bin Laden's hands - while Mr. Bush's supporters, impressed by his tough talk, see him as America's champion against the evildoers.

Last week, Republican officials in Kentucky applauded bumper stickers distributed at G.O.P. offices that read, "Kerry is bin Laden's man/Bush is mine." Administration officials haven't gone that far, but when Tom Ridge offered a specifics-free warning about a terrorist attack timed to "disrupt our democratic process," many people thought he was implying that Al Qaeda wants George Bush to lose. In reality, all infidels probably look alike to the terrorists, but if they do have a preference, nothing in Mr. Bush's record would make them unhappy at the prospect of four more years.

July 19, 2004

The perils of semi-illiteracy

Could there be something worse than comment spammers? Indeed--teenage girls obsessed with dodgy punk bands from Florida.

A whole gaggle of them have been suffering for months now under the mistaken impression that
this post has something to do with this band. I wouldn't care, but these girls have the worst prose style since... maybe ever. And they just keep bringin' it.

I finally deleted all their comments (coming at the rate of one a day lately) in the hopes they would get the message. Fat chance. We just kept getting comments like this:

i luv them mikey is my favorite i fell in luv with him at beach fest toooo all the grls he is
mine an if u have any prombles oh well theres nothing i can do about the way i feel an my friend roza likes adam soooo he is also off limts.

Then today we got one that sounded like a not-so-veiled offer of groupie poontang in recompense for some contretemps:

squirrels gone wild we are sorry for all da things that happen on da 16th an i my self
am sorry an i was wonderin if i can make it up
too u guyz by hangin out with u when u do the next show.

I have it on good authority that "hanging out" means a lot more than in did back in the day.

So I finally changed the title of the post to "Fun with Squirrels" in hopes that the article will no longer be the #1 Google listing for the query. Ah, the perils of PageRank!

So, to put it in their terms: "if im bein rude 2 scrub yal off da site, thats 2 bad cuz this my blog, k and yal better stop wit da comments bout that stuipd band an if you got prombles with dat you got prombles wit me"

I'm glad we're all speaking the same language here!


NYer has the whole scoop

On what Cheney and Leahy REALLY said:

Mr. Leahy then suggested that the president of the Senate take his gavel and use it to perform an act that, while not technically impossible in anatomical terms, would certainly be considered both unseemly and unhygienic, and which would require an unusual combination of single-minded ambition and physical relaxation.

Ain't Nobody's Bidness

If there's one thing that gets up my nose, it's people telling me what my family ought to look like. If my family includes a foreign husband who doesn't share my religion or address, a gay boyfriend who lives with his long term sweetheart in White Center, a couple of church goers, their kids, and the hippies they rent to, some lefty Europeans, and other people's pets, well, hell, why should anyone but me care?

What brings this up? A big ad in the Sunday PI from an organization called Families Northwest, who seem to think they know what my family - and yours - should look like. And who also seem to think that the state gets to say something about that. It looks all warm and fuzzy on the surface, but it's just another insidious plan to outlaw gay marriage.

The FMA didn't make it out of the Senate, but that doesn't mean it's all over. It's time to readdress those letters and postcards to your state reps.

July 16, 2004

Junk mail for the soul

I like junk mail. It’s not that I am persuaded to buy things that are advertised or that I rely on mailbox ads to inform or influence my purchasing decisions. I just like to see how people are willing to spend direct mail budgets for promotion to consumers. Sorting through the flyers and envelopes tells me that my local economy isn’t dead. It makes me hopeful for the future. I get the usual stuff, offers for painting, maid service, check printing, local restaurant coupons. It’s all pretty mundane, but comforting. Every once in a while though, I get something that makes me sit back and say, “What the ----?”

Today, I was sorting through one of the two envelopes of multiple coupons that show up in my box and was thrown off a step. An advertisement telling me to “Let them know where you stand,” and “Order yours today!” For only $12.95 plus shipping and handling I can buy a t-shirt that has the US flag and the words, “Stand for the Pledge” on the front and on the back is printed the pledge of allegiance with the words “under God” printed in all caps and contrasting ink. Well, it’s pretty obvious where this organization stands on the issue.
I, since graduating junior high, have never said the pledge. As an indoctrination tool the pledge is pretty handy. Even if you don’t really know what it means or get the words wrong when it is first taught in elementary school, by the time you’re 13 you’ll never forget the thing. For those of us raised post-1954 the words “under God” are stuck there by years of repetition. Even if the words eventually are removed, I would probably say them out of habit. Of course, I would have to actually recite the pledge again and I doubt there are any circumstances under which I would ever…oh, hello, Attorney General Ashcroft, would you like to borrow my copy of The Children’s Story by James Clavell or perhaps, The Anthem by Ayn Rand?
Hey, even I understand and appreciate the cultural value of religion. I spent 11 years in plaid polyester listening to nuns. You miss the meaning of a lot of jokes and trivia questions without formal religious education. You underestimate the perversity and cruelty of authority figures and guilt just isn’t the same if you haven’t been instructed within the confines of religious dogma. So, now that you know this about me, you’ll understand why I had to find out more about these t-shirt guys.
The website for this group is www.minutemenunited.org (the photo albums are especially instructive). It was started by a former high school football coach who was fired from his position as the result of a suit brought by the ACLU alleging that the coaching staff was forcing the players to pray, join a particular church and listen to long sermons in the locker room. There were also accusations of speaking in tongues and the laying on of hands. That would have been a pretty impressive half-time show. On the Minute Men United site they claim the out-of-court settlement was a victory for Coach Dave. Upon looking into the case a little further, it is clear that the school district agreed to the settlement, fired this guy and is now subject to serious fines should any of this type of behavior be reported in the future.
So what does an unemployable high school football coach do? He starts a ministry exhorting his followers to harass, harangue and generally despise anyone that disagrees with him. The pledge of allegiance isn’t his only issue. He and his United Minute Men are taking their brand of morality into battle against the separation of church and state (they picketed in support of Judge Roy Moore in Alabama), reproductive choice and homosexuality. They don’t even like W very much. Next week in their effort to “save America” they will proclaim Jesus Christ “King over America” in Columbus, Ohio. Apparently, a federal republic can’t maintain “moral clarity” only the divine right of kings will do for these guys.
I won’t buy the t-shirt. Not because the funds would go to support this organization or that I disagree with their opinion. I won’t buy this shirt for the same reason that I don’t buy the porcelain kittens or printed caftans. But I will recycle the paper.

Undemocratic Bush

The fundamental requirements for true democracy include an informed populace, separation of government and the ruling party, and checks on the leaders power. America under the Bush Administration fails on all three counts, as explained in this excellent article by Jonathan Chait. Read it.

Here's just one example of many of undemocratic behaviour from the Republicans:

Last year, the administration proposed a rule change allowing companies to deny more of their workers overtime pay. Under public pressure, the Senate and the House both voted to bar the change. But then a conference committee--which, by rule, may only iron out differences between the House and Senate, not rewrite provisions on which the two chambers agree--inserted it into a bill anyway. ... The beauty of this end-run tactic, for the GOP leadership, is that they get the unpopular policies they desire, but politically vulnerable Republicans can tell their constituents they voted against them. Democracy only works if voters know who to blame if they don't get their way. Today, however, Congress is run specifically to prevent that from happening.

July 15, 2004

Hersh and horror

Our friends at Sadly, No! have audio of a recent Sy Hersh speech. Among his sickening updates:


Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher."

Presumably, the soldiers in question we're gay--because apparently we cause problems with "unit cohesion." If only there had been less cohesion around a system that jettisoned any last scrap of humanity the US might have still enjoyed in the midst of a war!

All those in red states benefitting from compassionate conservatism

There are 44 million people in this country who don't have health insurance. This seems like an issue that Kerry really needs to make Bush more answerable to, that is, what has he done to try to change that?

According to a report on Morning Edition this morning, the uninsured in America equal in number the combined populations of Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Kansas, Arkansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampsire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming.

No further commentary, other than, yikes.

John Howard Lies

John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, lies. Given that he's a politician, that should come as no surprise. But www.johnhowardlies.com does an excellent job of cataloguing them in startling clarity.

It's interesting do draw comparisons between this campaign and those against Bush. (The unknown authors of this site -- which is registered to "ABC DEF" from "123 Fourfive St, Surfers Paradise, TAS 7003" -- compare themselves to moveon.org.) Unfortunately the equivalent anti-Bush sites (at least those top-rated on Google), www.bushlies.com and BushWatch.com don't make the point quite so clearly.

Incidentally, I don't really follow Australian politics any more, but I was alerted to this site after its opponents tried to suppress it. As Michael Moore discovered, there's nothing like oppression for getting publicity.

The UnAmerican Practice of Thinking

With each column she does, I'm falling more in love with Barbara Ehrenreich. Really. The woman has a way with words, and what's more, her words actually make sense. I'm writing the Times today to suggest they keep her and dump someone else. This one is a winner.

Anyway, today she's discoursing on the "groupthink" that's being blamed for the ill-conceived decision to invade Iraq based on faulty evidence, (Though, interestingly, even though the entire world has now realized that the premises for invading Iraq were entirely bogus, Bush continues to defend the act. Talk about not flipflopping. This guy is like a pair of cement shoes.) and the general fear that's decended upon this country since 9/11 about not participating in groupthinking.

This line made me pause: "One thousand coalition soldiers have died because the C.I.A. was so eager to go along with the emperor's delusion that he was actually wearing clothes."

Bush is always telling us that these terrorists hate us because of our love of freedom, or some other such nonsense that doesn't make any sense unless you're incapable, like W, of reasoning beyond soundbites. But the their acts on September 11 and the cultural shift that occurred as a result has severely limited our love of freedom as a society, causing our nation to disdain it even, and reject it. So that seems to me like we're losing much more than 1000 coalition soldiers. We've pretty much already surrendered. Those guys in Iraq, then, are like the soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans, fighting to the bloody end, not realizing that the War of 1812 had already been called off.

July 14, 2004

Think Locally, Act Globally

I'd like to see the backpedaling continue on our invasion of Iraq. Soon, George will address the nation and point out that he did not sit idly by while Saddam bore that ridiculous moustache. With progressively more of the men around Saddam feeling coerced into copying their president, who knows where it would have stopped? Saddam had the capability to influence other grooming and apparel practices—it was important that we stop him to protect Americans, lest our wake-up call be a dirty fashion bomb. When the choice is between taking the word of a funny-looking madman or protecting the American people from, uh, things that might happen, he'll do the protecting thing every time.

It angers me every time I've heard the two choices that George presents to the People, i.e., word of a madman or protecting the American people. The premise for that choice is so simplistic and unfounded. It attempts to eliminate many glaring problems and wraps the decision in what is supposed to go down smoothly as an unassailable morality—perhaps a romantic and fallible view, but gosh darn it, how can you fault him for his love of this country? It's another facet of the with-us-or-against-us, love-or-hate paradigm that we keep hearing (and which seems frequently lampooned in This Modern World).

It astonishes me that "protecting America" could be the ultimate trump card in every situation (but especially for the Christians who apparently support the administration). I remember hearing an interview shortly after the invasion that included Slade Gorton; Slade was unabashed in his acceptance of responsibility for killing some innocent people if it would protect America. Hmm. (I should check to see how he views things now, after being on the investigative commission.)

Personally, that bold indifference to other people makes me uncomfortable, and I've liked better the bumper stickers that I've seen with Howard Zinn's take on the issue: "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people". I like that morality quite a bit better, though part of me has felt there might be exceptions, and in searching the Internet for a reference, I find a version that includes the finish: "...for a purpose that is unattainable." That I can wholeheartedly support.

Check out the rest of that Zinn text. It comes from the Reagan era, but it could easily have been written today. The paragraph with the preceding quote goes on to say, "If the purpose is to stop terrorism, even the supporters of the bombing say it won't work; if the purpose is to gain respect for the United States, the result is the opposite: all over the world there is anger and indignation at Reagan's mindless, pointless, soulless violence. We have had presidents just as violent. We have rarely had one so full of hypocritical pieties about 'the right to life.'"

There are some nice quotes about patriotism on Wikipedia; I read the quote from a very different George a few weeks ago and liked it very much: "[Patriotism is] your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it."

Barbie Bush on a bender

W's daughter apparently really loves to party... just like good old Dad did before he had to swear the stuff off. Of course we've known this for a long time but the press corps were afraid of getting frozen out for merely mentioning the first daughters. Atrios has a good bit from the interesting NYT article from Sunday that I should have finished reading.

I smile and Barbara Bush smiles wider. "Hi! How are you?" she says in a very loud voice. She immediately wraps her arms around me. "Oh my God," she says enthusiastically, "I love your shirt. Guys, look at her shirt." I am wearing a black turtleneck. Her friends look and nod approvingly. She surveys the room and steps very close to my face. For a minute I think she is going to kiss me. "Oh my God, this place is cool!" she shouts. "How long has it been here?" Even though the music is loud, her voice is much more forceful than needed to be heard.

"Since August," I say.

"It's so nice!" she says, adding, "You have pretty eyes."

[snip]

From behind me I hear a loud voice. "Thank you, this is great, really." I turn around and there is Barbara, drink in hand, so close that if I just thrust my lips out a little we would touch. She is smiling widely, and I smile, too. Her friendliness and lack of pretense make it impossible not to like her.

"I love this song!" Barbara exclaims, grabbing my wrists and starting to wave my arms around. She throws her shoulders back and grinds her hips. It is the part of the evening when the D.J. goes old school with Guns N' Roses. For people who work here every night, this is the saddest point.

Fifteen minutes later, I step outside to make sure the entrance is swept, and there I see Barbara bent over, hands on her knees, out on the sidewalk. "Are you all right?" I ask. Please, I think, don't let me see her throw up.

She spits on the pavement. "Yeah, I just needed some fresh air," she says. She stands and I see her forehead is damp with sweat. It must be 20 degrees out, and windy. I want to go back into the warm restaurant, but I stay with her.

I massage her back for a moment. Finally she lets out a loud burp, mumbles, "Excuse me" and returns inside.


I bet W and Laura are SO proud! I would argue that now that she's campaigning with her Dad, she's fair game.

Unpack those bags, David!

Great news: we don't have to leave the country! Senate Vote Blocks Effort to Ban Gay Marriage in Constitution


Backers of a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriages suffered a stinging defeat in the Senate today as opponents easily killed the initiative for the year in a procedural showdown.

The tide has already turned on this issue... polls over the past year have shown a gradual but still significant softening of negativity on this issue among Americans--and no recent polls indicated that a clear majority of Americans wanted a Constitutional ban. But the fact that the Republicans lost so decisively indicates that even some conservative Senators were fearful of the political consequences of writing hate into the Constitution.

This vote clears the way for this issue to unfold in the several states, as it should. Equality will spread organically as the older Americans--who overwhelmingly oppose marriage equality--give way to tolerant younger Americans who (in poll after poll) see this as a non-issue.

Today's vote makes me optimistic that--as is our goal with the Virginia boycott-- Repubs are learning the hard lesson that beating up on gays is no longer a cheap way to score points with their conservative base. I can't imagine who'll they will pick on next, but the anti-gay hysteria is looking more plainly hysterical every passing day. (But they will find another boogeyman, because neither conservative politics nor extremist Christianity can function without one. To find proof that the appeal of the Repubs is based on fear, one need look no further than Bush.)

I believe that in 15 or 20 years, we will see the Defense of Marriage Act overturned. God willing, David and I might even be able to share our Social Security benefits... assuming Social Security is still around. Actually, I think the odds for legalized civil marriage for us is the better bet of those two!

It's funny. I just realized that I was sitting at this same desk in SS+K's New York office last summer when the Supremes ruled in the Lawrence case that states could not prohibit homosexual conduct. This city, in all its chaotic diversity, is where the gay equality movement started in earnest just 35 years ago with the Stonewall riot. It's good to be here and reflect on the progress we have made in a span just a little longer than my lifetime. It will be even better to come back to the home I share with my husband to toast this momentous decision, secure in the knowledge that the land of my birth (and his adopted home) has seen its way clear not to consign us to second-class citizenship. For another day, we remain the land of the free and the home of the brave. Never, friends, let us take that for granted.

July 13, 2004

Sully gets some things right

Andrew made me laugh more than scream today.

RED-HANDED? Pictures of priests having sex with each other and downloading child-porn is just a "childish prank." The Vatican has no comment. But allowing committed gay couples to marry will cause the downfall of civilization.

Scambaiting

I'm sure all of you have received at least half a dozen of those emails from the brother of the deposed president of Nigeria who wants to smuggle millions of dollars out of the country and would be willing to skim off several boxes of ziti to compensate you for the trouble of aiding him. All you need to do is send him your bank account information and we're good to go.

And you're always wondering, who would be stupid enough to fall for such an obvious scam as this? Well, apparently some of the guys writing the scamming notes in the first place, amusingly enough. At least, that's what the boys at 419eater.com have been finding out. In the BBC story, they actually got one of these guys to send them a picture of himself and $80! Now that would be satisfying.

July 12, 2004

Tips for bringing Christianity to the office...

From »«TBogg»«

The title of this great post is "At lunch Bob and I are going to go stone that whore in Accounting. Wanna come?" What more do you need to know? Go read it.

So there was a master plan all along

First of all, I'm going to agree, wholeheartedly, with Timothy Noah who said last week in Slate that the New York Times should keep Barbara Ehrenreich as a permanent replacement for the currently on-leave Thomas Friedman. Every piece she's turned out in that role has been notches above the other NYT columnists.

Yesterday's contribution on the subject of marriage (encouraging it for poor women, banning it for gay people) was no different. Ms. Ehrenreich is smart, funny, and very effective at making her point. But then again, maybe she's right that the larger plan at work here is to encourage gay men to marry poor women and raise them out of poverty AND bad taste.

A particular favorite bit:

Left to themselves, most women end up marrying men of the same social class as their own, meaning — in the case of poverty-stricken women — blue-collar men. But that demographic group has seen a tragic decline in earnings in the last couple of decades. So I have been endeavoring to calculate just how many blue-collar men a T.A.N.F. recipient needs to marry to lift her family out of poverty.

The answer turns out to be approximately 2.3, which is, strangely enough, illegal. Seeking clarity, I called the administration's top marriage maven, Wade Horn at Health and Human Services. H.H.S. is not "promoting" marriage, he told me, just providing "marriage education" for interested couples of limited means. The poor aren't being singled out for any insidious reason, he insisted; this is just a service they might otherwise lack. It could have been Pilates training or courses in orchid cultivation, was the implication, but for now it's marriage education.


Anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Arab, anti-earth

Is there anything this administration actually values? Oh yeah. Money.

Just because they hadn't been doing an adequate job of pissing off us liberals lately, Bush would like to open up more of our forests for logging. A little icing on the raping and pillaging of the world cake, I suppose.

Save the Constitution today

As the Senate debates the Federal Marriage Amendment to strip rights from gay couples, MoveOn.org has launched its United, Not Divided campaign. Click the link to easily send message to your senators, representatived and the President today.

As a reminder, the FMA reads thus:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Not only would this enshrine discrimination into the constitution, this amendment would remove existing rights now available to same-sex partners (as has already happened in Virginia). The "legal incidents" of marriage certainly includes civil unions already available in Vermont and California, and may also include private contracts such as wills and healthcare directives.

Here's my personal message to President Bush:

This amendment is not about protecting the family. This amendment is about making second-class citizens of gays and lesbians in the United States by removing rights from them. As a gay man with constitutionally-denied access to the "legal incidents" of marriage, however they may be offered: federally, at the state level, or through private contract, my partner and I are at risk of financial, legal and emotional hardship with no redress. The only solution would be to leave the United States.


"Six Degrees of Columbine"

OK, from my inbox, today's candle to light against the darkness (though you should feel free to curse, too). Get to it, people! I will be adding the link presently.

I am writing to you and a few other bloggers asking for help. My name is Tom Mauser and my son Daniel was killed at Columbine High School. If we don't stand up to President Bush and the NRA right now, the assault weapons ban will expire and AK47s and Uzis will be back on our streets. Help honor the legacy of my son and prove that bloggers can make a difference! Thank you, Tom Mauser

So... Nonfamous readers can sign up on our personal petition page here. Please do so! It's a really cool site, but the way. We may want to look into this for VAhaters...

Heavy on the Mayo

OK, this is funny. This poor guy has the misfortune to have a name spelled "Mayo"-- and is competing in the Tour de France. Apparently the jokes have been rolling in the English-speaking press...i.e., "Hold the Mayo," "Can't Hold the Mayo," "Mayo on a Roll" and "Mayo Spreads It Around."

More news on Bush's other war

The one to do everything possible to stop HIV/AIDS prevention. Most recently, the administration is blocking several scientists from attending the International AIDS conference in Bangkok, meaning that a lot of the papers that these scientists wrote had to be retracted. Because it would apparently be a bad thing to share findings in the fight against AIDS?

God, I can't wait until November. Assuming we have an election.

And now for something completely different

It's nice to know that, with the world apparently going straight on to hell, drunk naked Swedes stuck under gates still warrant news stories.

Playing with Elections

I don't know where to begin-- I've been awake for three minutes and already I am confronted with evidence that the sky is falling. CNN reports that our Jefe is looking into how to delay the election. I can't do wit this early, let's just leave it at:"I'm scared."

July 11, 2004

Save the Constitution Sunday

I'm going to skip the editorializing and go right to the point.

From the Seattle Times:

Today — dubbed "Protect Marriage Sunday" — some pastors are expected to urge their congregants to call, e-mail and fax their senators, urging them to amend the Constitution.

You know what to do. And in case you're not sure how, here's the Senate home page that makes it EASY for you to contact your senators. Off you go.

July 10, 2004

Amnesty International condemns US

Apparently Amnesty International's legal staff read my earlier posting on this subject... This is from their website:

Last week the US Supreme Court rejected a central tenet of the administration's "war on terror" detention policy when it ruled that the Guantánamo detainees have the right to challenge their detentions in the US courts. Yesterday, the Pentagon announced the formation of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal scheme under which Guantánamo detainees will be able to challenge their so-called "enemy combatant" status.

"The detainees will not be provided a lawyer for this process, the entirety of which will be conducted within the military," Amnesty International noted. "All forms of evidence will be admissible, including from anonymous witnesses and testimony that may have been coerced."

Amnesty International fears that the narrow record that emerges from this process will then be used to put in front of the US courts when a detainee challenges his detention. The Pentagon has said that the detainees will be informed of their right to file a habeas corpus petition in the US courts.

"We are concerned that what the administration is planning is to have the courts restrict their review to the narrow record that emerges from this Combatant Status Review Tribunal scheme," Amnesty International said. "What it should be doing, at a minimum, is informing the detainees of their right to full judicial review in court and facilitating their access to legal counsel to enable a full and fair process to go ahead."

Read the whole press release for your daily dose of shame.

July 09, 2004

Kerry is boring, thank heavens

This article by Andrew Sullivan is a great example of why he is so frustrating to me. I love much of his writing--especially the pieces collected in Love Undetectable--but his defenses of Bush and attacks on Kerry make my brain hurt. How could a smart homo continue to defend Bush's ill-conceived, disastrously managed war? The article, titled "The Human Anti-Histamine: Kerry bores upward" would be similarly infuriating, but it produced in me an epiphany.

Thank God Kerry is so boring. We need a little boredom in our politics. Just as part of me welcomed the dot-com bust--we were all running on over-caffeinated money-grub turbo-drive 24/7/365 and it was going to kill us--I know that neither the Republic nor we as politically aware individuals can sustain the level of pique we've all been in since at least the Clinton impeachment drive. After almost 12 years of incredible polarization, wouldn't it be great if everyone was just a little bit less focused on the person of the president? Wouldn't it be nice to hear a little more leadership from that other branch, the Legislative, instead of our incredibly Roman tendencies toward Imperator Americana?

A huge amount of the criticism of Kerry from both sides can be boiled down to: "He's not an idealogue!!! What do we do with him???" You would have to go back to, um, the Bush I presidency to get a sense of the relative calm that the prospect of a Kerry administration offers. He was far from my favorite president, a little lacking in "the vision thing" but not a bad guy to have in the White House when it was clear that the world had changed dramatically. Whatever his policies were, he pursued them with an understanding of compromise and some measure of fairness--not the "advance on all fronts and damn the torpedoes" style of his misbegotten son.

So I say, bring on the boredom. Bring on the sentences that are not only complete, but actually deploy complexly coordinated dependent clauses. Bring on the "human anti-histamine," or better. We need a Valium. All of us.

The intersection of quantum physics, orthography, and politics

Courtesy of Tom Tomorrow:

russert.jpg

Trump to Bush: "You're Fired!"

First, the amusing fantasy. Then, in the new Esquire (reported in the NY Daily News, something close to reality:

"What was the purpose of the whole thing?" Donald Trump asks in an Esquire interview. "Hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs?"

"The Apprentice" star said it's folly to think Iraq can be turned into a "wonderful democracy."

The real estate baron said if he were President, Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden "would have been caught long ago."

"Tell me, how is it possible that we can't find a guy who's 6-foot-6 and supposedly needs a dialysis machine?" Trump said. "Can you explain that one to me? We have all our energies focused on one place - where they shouldn't be focused."

Hmmm.... The Donald, Iacocca, and Warren Buffett all want Shrub uprooted. When will the other fat cats start listening?

The triumph of ideology over reason

In his response to the first report of the Union of Concerned Scientists (see Feb 19 entry), President Bush claimed that he "believes policies should be made with the best and most complete information possible, and expects his Administration to conduct its business with integrity and in a way that fulfills that belief.” The belief appears to be a hollow one. In their update to the February report, the Union of Concerned Scientists details egregious examples of political litmus tests being applied to scientific appointments to advisory panels. Examples:


  • Several appointees to National Institute of Health advisory councils were contacted by Secretary Tommy Thompson’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services, and asked pointedly political questions, including their opinions of President Bush, their opinions of stem-cell research, whether they supported "faith-based" programs, and who they voted for in the last election. Those who did not answer in alignment with Bush doctrine did not have their nominations approved.

  • 19 of 26 scientific nominations to the board of the Fogarty Center (an NIH branch), including a Nobel laureate, were rejected. The reasons for rejection included signing too many letters in the New York Times critical of Bush, being on the board of a nonprofit reproductive health organization, and publicly supporting abortion rights.

  • Scientific nominations to the President's Council on Bioethics were rejected on the basis of supporting stem cell research, leaving the ideologue-stacked Council with little scientific input.

These actions amount to nothing less than a Lysenkoist coup over the scientific advisory mechanism within the executive branch. Having political appointees ignore scientific evidence is one thing -- as illustrated by the example of the deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior (and former lobbyist for the National Mining Association) rejecting a mountain (pun intended) of data around the devastating environmental impact of mountaintop strip mining. But this scientific McCarthyism means that those scientific opinions will never even be heard, much less considered. The triumph of ideology over reason is complete.

July 08, 2004

Why does the US fear international media?

What kind of country would you have to be, to restrict the entry of foreign journalists? In the company of countries like Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, the US does.

Most US citizens aren't aware of this, but foreigners entering the country on a visa or as part of the visa waiver program have to sign a declaration before entry that they are not "bad people". The definition of "bad people" has changed over time: at one point you had to declare that you'd never been a member of a communist party (I remember answering this question myself when I first came to the US as a tourist). In more recent versions, the I-94W visa waiver form asks whether you are a "drug abuser or addict", if you have "ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude" or if you have been involved "in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies". As you might guess, you want to be answering "no" to these questions.

But it seems at some point, the small print also mentions that "you may not ... represent the foreign information media during your visit under this program". I never noticed that myself, and I can't find out when this caveat was added to the form. But the fact remains it was only enforced since 9/11. Since then, journalists from the UK, Australia, and many other countries have been denied entry to the US on this basis. Click the links for their horrifying stories, and Slate has a good discussion of these and other instances. Their reports of their treatment at the hands of immigration officials universally describe a horrendous experience. Reporters sans frontières describes the stories of 20 foreign journalists who have been deported on arrival and "treated like criminals, interrogated, searched, detained, photographed, fingerprinted and taken to planes in handcuffs". Some foreign journalists already in the US have even been ordered to leave.

Now, the US is tightening restrictions on journalists once again. As reported in the Guardian, journalists who once were able to renew visas within the US are now compelled to leave the country before they are able to do so. Processing of such visas at consular offices can take between four weeks and six months. The result: significantly fewer foreign journalists reporting on the November election.

Propaganda remix

Pam's right. We need a little Propaganda Remix right about now.

you.jpg"

Check it out.

July surprise

This shouldn't surprise anyone, but The New Republic is reporting a "July Surprise" plan to bag major al Qaeda fugitives in Pakistan and Afghanistan just in time for the Democratic convention at the end of the month--and definitely before the election:

According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), "The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections." Introducing target dates for Al Qaeda captures is a new twist in U.S.-Pakistani counterterrorism relations--according to a recently departed intelligence official, "no timetable[s]" were discussed in 2002 or 2003--but the November election is apparently bringing a new deadline pressure to the hunt. Another official, this one from the Pakistani Interior Ministry, which is responsible for internal security, explains, "The Musharraf government has a history of rescuing the Bush administration. They now want Musharraf to bail them out when they are facing hard times in the coming elections."
[Snip]
But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

But really... what's the purpose of propping up a nuke-selling despot if you can't count on him to deliver the mujahadeens in time for the election? Of course, Pakistan is a hornet's nest, and this push could have unintended consequences:

Military action in the tribal areas "has a domestic fallout, both religious and ethnic," Pakistani Foreign Minister Mian Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri complained to the Los Angeles Times last year. Some American intelligence officials agree. "Pakistan just can't risk a civil war in that area of their country. They can't afford a western border that is unstable," says a senior intelligence official, who anonymously authored the recent Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and who says he has not heard that the current pressures on Pakistan are geared to the election. "We may be at the point where [Musharraf] has done almost as much as he can."

Pushing Musharraf to go after Al Qaeda in the tribal areas may be a good idea despite the risks. But, if that is the case, it was a good idea in 2002 and 2003. Why the switch now? Top Pakistanis think they know: This year, the president's reelection is at stake.


July 07, 2004

Catch a Wave and You're Sitting On Top of the World Wide Web

"This water is beautiful, but I sure wish I could check my e-mail." I guess if you've been waiting a long time for a good wave, this might occur to you. Yes, wave—the kind you surf. Yes, surf. Creating the world's largest Tablet PC, Intel has put a computer with wireless networking in a surfboard. No, really—there are even pictures.

As I was saying...

Ok, so I'm not as big a fan of John Kerry as of Bruce Springsteen (and yes. I would vote for the boss if he was running. Especially if he chose Joe Torre for his veep). However, I do kinda like the guy. Like I said. He's no Bruce, but he's fine. Anyway, it doesn't really matter what I think of him. What's really important is what I think of W. Which is that he needs to be fired. Retired. RIF'ed. Call it what you will. I just want him applying for unemployment benefits next year.

Alan Blevins apparently feels the same way I do. And for all those who are at all queasy about voting for a guy you're not fanatical about, he's trying to put your concerns to rest.

Free speech--playing into the hands of terrorists

According to Salon, several theater chains in the midwest are refusing to play Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 because they claim it "plays into the hands of the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks and those behind the recent beheadings of Americans in the Middle East." Right. We don't want to criticize the government or exercise free speech in a time of war. We're at war, damnit, and we good little Americans are supposed to shut up and do what dear leader tells us.

Wait, though. I distinctly remember Bush telling us that the whole reason the terrorists hate us is because we're free. In fact, I remember him telling us that many times. They hate us for our freedom of voice and religion and views and driving gas guzzling cars and not bothering to learn any other languages and such. They hate us for exercising our constitutional rights. For even having them.

But somehow trying to squash those rights is not playing into the hands of the terrorists? It's like this all-encompassing trump card, isn't it. It's almost as good as the Bible. You can refute almost any argument you want without ever having to reason it, just by pulling out the terrorist card.

"No, you mustn't show that movie. It criticizes the government and plays into the hands of terrorsists."

"No, you can't wear that shirt opposing the leader. It plays into the hands of terrorists."

"No, you have to let us read your email. Not doing so plays into the hands of terrorists."

"No, you can't be gay and get married. It plays into the hands of terrorists."

To which, methinks, the appropriate reponse should be, "Fuck yourself."

US forces abusing child prisoners

Just when you thought the prison abuse scandals couldn't get any worse, a German TV crew interviews an American soldier who has seen child prisoners in Iraq abused (full translated trasncript at Sadly, No!):

One that knows something about this is Sergeant Samuel Provance, from the US Military. He spent half a year stationed at Abu Ghraib. Today, 5 months later, we meet him in Heidelberg. His superiors have strictly forbidden him to speak to journalists about what he experienced in Abu Ghraib. But Provance wants to talk about it nevertheless. His conscience troubles him. He discusses a 16-year old he handled:

"He was very afraid, very alone. He had the thinnest arms I had ever seen.
His whole body trembled. His wrists were so thin we couldn't put handcuffs on him. As I saw him for the first time and led him to the interrogation, I felt sorry. The interrogation specialists threw water over him and put him into a car, drove him around through the extremely cold night. Afterwards, they covered him with mud and showed him to his imprisoned father, on whom they'd tried other interrogation methods.

They hadn't been able to get him to speak, though. The interrogation specialists told me that after the father saw his son in this condition, his heart was broken, he started crying, and he promised to tell them anything they wanted.

Read the article. It just gets worse. Any chance the US media will pick this up before they absolutely have to?

Hey, W, what's the whooshing sound?

Oh, it's the Kerry/Edwards ticket taking the lead in the polls.

Sure, it's a short-term boost, as they'll keep reminding us, but at least it's some momentum to build from, which is what I've been hoping for all along.

July 06, 2004

"One-term Senator"

Thank heavens that Kerry has the good sense to name John Edwards as his running mate. And if this is the worst the Rethuglicans have to say about him, things are looking good. And just let me say this: anyone who wants to attack the VP candidate as underqualified because he's only served 4 years in the Senate might recall that before being appointed President, Bush's sole government experience was as Governor of Texas, a state where the governorship is among the weakest in the nation. And as for foreign-policy experience, another area where Edwards is supposedly "weak," let us remember that Bush has never even travelled abroad before his election, erm, appointment to the Presidency.

PS Now seriously, folks, I want to hear about your Kerry-Edwards donations! The clock is ticking!!!

July 05, 2004

Colin Powell sheds last shred of self-respect

From the great Sadly, No blog, terrifying footage of Colin Powell and other US officials performing a version of "YMCA" for a gathering of Asian security officials. No, I am not making this up. But I wish I were.

July 4 in Bush's America

From Atrios and others, this disturbing item about Bush appearance at a public event in West Virginia yesterday:

Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president.

So much for the freedoms this Republic was founded on. Happy 4th, y'all.

July 02, 2004

Give to Kerry today!

Listen folks, however you feel about the man and his campaign style to date, today is the day to go to his website and donate. Even if it's only $25 or $50, it makes a difference. This post on Daily Kos explains just how much. Small donors giving over the Internet may well give Kerry the money he needs to beat Bush; he's already the best-funded challenger in history, and much of that is because of small donations. What's more, many small donations help water down the importance of the fewer large ones, meaning that Kerry owes giant corporations and special interests fewer favors once he's elected. But it takes a lot of us to equal one Enron, Halliburton, or Chevron.

Most people don't know that once the Convention is over and he accepts the final Federal matching money payment for the general election, he cannot raise any more funds. We can still give to groups like MoveOn for get out the vote and other activities, but whatever Kerry has at the end of July is what he has through to November 2.

So go, now. Donate! Whatever you can (up to $2,000, of course). Once you have, please post a comment.

That's right, I'm taking roll on this one. I gave $50 on Wednesday but chipped in enough more today to at least buy some peripatetic Kerry staffer lunch. Some of you might have forgotten that I used to make my living as a fundraiser... but for the rest of the month, my harangues will be unmistakable. Every Friday in July is John Kerry Day. Give early, give often, and give as much as you can--even it's only $10. Give until it hurts, my friends--because losing the election in November would be infinitely more painful.

July 01, 2004

Halliburton Whistleblower

MSNBC - New Halliburton waste alleged

"Marie deYoung, a former Army chaplain who worked for Halliburton, was so upset by attacks on the company she e-mailed the CEO in December with a strategy on how to fight the "political slurs." But today, after five months inside Halliburton's operation in Kuwait, deYoung has radically changed her opinion. "It’s just a gravy train," she said."

Who knew Catholics had courts?

I'm speechless.

"A Catholic lawyer has filed heresy charges against Sen. John Kerry with the Archdiocese of Boston, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of bringing "most serious scandal to the American public" by receiving Holy Communion as a pro-choice Catholic. "

Most serious scandal? Hello??? One would think that a devout Catholic would not try to point out just how much serious scandal the Bishops have brought on themselves. I think maybe they should worry about the log in their eye before trying to remove the mote in their brother's. Or think about filing suit on all the Repubs who support the broad use of the death penalty--in direct opposition to the teachings of the Pope himself.

Oooh, also!

From the road to surfdom... Anonymous (of "Imperial Hubris") didn't want to be anonymous. Happily, he no longer is.

"Nearly a dozen intelligence-community sources, however, say Anonymous is Michael Scheuer — and that his forced anonymity is both unprecedented and telling in the context of CIA history and modern politics."

And the CIA is pissed. And we know what they do with inconvenient people, don't we!

A great list for anti-Bushers

The great road to surfdom blog just posted "The don't worry, be happy list":

I thought it might be useful for other left-leaning and/or anti-invasion bloggers, commentators, and readers of same to have a central repository of the things that don't matter so that you don't accidentally mention them when you are discussing politics. It might help save a lot of confusion and grief if you realise in advance that some of the things that you think matter don't really matter.
It's an amazing compendium of the incredibly lame responses even reasoned arguments against Bush, the Iraq War, and the GOP in general invariably provoke.

Great Nation article on Bush's HIV sham

Well, leave it to The Nation to point out how completely successful the Bush administration has been at snowing the media, including the NYT. (Seriously, check this Google News query and see how little attention it's getting!)

Apparently the Grey Lady was so moved that Bush uttered the word "condom" last month in a speech that they completely failed to mention the outrageous new CDC guidelines--showing again how even supposedly reputable media organizations are failing us in their most basic reportorial activities.

The Times article didn't even mention these new CDC censorship guidelines, or include any comment on Bush's speech in light of them from Administration critics.They even failed to notice the large and noisy ACT-UP demonstration outside the speech. Dissent wouldn't have been hard to find: When asked about the CDC regs, Representative Barney Frank told The Nation that "one has to reach back to Stalin and Lysenko to find an ideological distortion of science this complete." And Representative Henry Waxman called the CDC guidelines "shameful," and only the latest anti-condom move by an Administration whose policies have been "overwhelmingly suppressing and distorting science" for political purposes (as a sop to the Christian right).

There's Lysenko again, that bastard! Except now I think he's galloping, not just creeping along.

I was exercised about this today, so I thought I'd call Jim McDermott's office. What a painful experience! The guy on the phone spent 10 minutes telling me that this sort of thing happens all the time and there's not much more to do than submit a comment. I finally got him to promise to follow up and find out if the DC office was tracking the issue.

I got much more of a response from an email to David Schmader of The Stranger, who we now know from Virginia stuff. He was similarly outraged and sent it on to Dan Savage, promising they would cover it.

This is clearly one of those stories that for whatever reason the major media are asleep at the wheel on. Thank God for blogs and alternative papers!

Actual text of CDC regulation changes

I'm copying the full text of the proposed changes from the CDC website. It's outrageous.

[Federal Register: June 16, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 115)]
[Notices]
[Page 33823-33826]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr16jn04-106]


[[Page 33823]]

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Part V


Department of Health and Human Services

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Proposed Revision of Interim HIV Content Guidelines for AIDS-Related
Materials, Pictorials, Audiovisuals, Questionnaires, Survey
Instruments, Marketing, Advertising and Web site Materials, and
Educational Sessions in CDC Regional, State, Territorial, Local, and
Community Assistance Programs; Notice

Interim HIV Content Guidelines for AIDS-Related Materials, Pictorials,
Audiovisuals, Questionnaires, Survey Instruments, Marketing,
Advertising and Web site Materials, and Educational Sessions in CDC
School-Based Assistance Programs; Notice


[[Page 33824]]


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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Proposed Revision of Interim HIV Content Guidelines for AIDS-
Related Materials, Pictorials, Audiovisuals, Questionnaires, Survey
Instruments, Marketing, Advertising and Web Site Materials, and
Educational Sessions in CDC Regional, State, Territorial, Local, and
Community Assistance Programs

AGENCY: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of
Health and Human Services (DHHS).

ACTION: Notice for public comment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The purpose of this document is to seek public comment on
proposed revision of the Interim HIV Content Guidelines, entitled
``Content of AIDS-Related written materials, pictorials, audiovisuals,
questionnaires, survey instruments, and educational sessions in CDC
assistance programs'' and to seek public comment on the proposed
revisions. The HIV Content Guidelines were last revised in 1992. The
purpose of these revisions are to (1) address advances in technology
(mainly the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web); (2)
increase grantee accountability; (3) be consistent with new public law;
and (4) improve clarity. Additionally, CDC has developed a separate
guidance document for school-based assistance programs.

DATES: Submit comments on or before August 16, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments concerning this notice to HIV Content
Guidelines Comments, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600
Clifton Road, NE., Mailstop E56, Atlanta, Georgia 30333. Comments may
be e-mailed to HIVComments@cdc.gov or faxed to (404) 639-3125.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Hale, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB
Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, NE., Mailstop E07, Atlanta, Georgia
30333. Telephone: (404) 639-8008.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) has provided funds for HIV prevention programs since
1985. Since then, CDC, as part of the terms and conditions for
receiving these funds, has required that all HIV educational and
related materials must be reviewed by a Program Review Panel (PRP)
designated by the recipient. The purpose of this requirement is to
ensure a careful consideration of the content and intended audience of
the materials and programs because education about preventing HIV
transmission involves effectively presenting information appropriate
for the specific audience. On June 15, 1992, CDC published in the
Federal Register (57 FR 26742) a guidance document for this review
entitled ``Content of AIDS-related written materials, pictorial,
audiovisuals, questionnaires, survey instruments, and educational
sessions in Centers for Disease Control assistance programs''. These
guidelines are currently in effect.
In this notice, CDC is proposing to revise the 1992 HIV Content
Guidelines. The purpose of these revisions are to (1) Address advances
in technology (mainly the advent of the Internet and the World Wide
Web); (2) increase grantee accountability; (3) be consistent with new
public law; and (4) improve clarity. CDC anticipates publishing a Final
Guidance document within 120 days after the conclusion of the comment
period. Additionally, CDC has developed a separate guidance document
for school-based assistance programs.

Summary and Explanation of Revisions for Regional, State, Territorial,
or Local, and Community Assistance Programs

The proposed HIV Content Guidelines now:
(1) Require review and approval of HIV/AIDS educational materials
placed on an organization's Web site. When the requirements were
developed for local review of HIV/AIDS education materials, the
Internet and World Wide Web were not used by the general public as a
major source of information as it is today. As a result, CDC is
proposing revisions to the Guidelines to require that HIV/AIDS
educational materials placed on a grantee's Web site be reviewed and
approved by the organization's designated Program Review Panel (PRP).
This requirement will not apply to materials developed by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services.
(2) Require that funded recipients ensure the PRP has determined
that the materials comply with Section 317P of the Public Health
Service Act. Section 317P was added to the Public Health Service Act in
2000. This Section states, in part, that ``education materials * * *
that are specifically designed to address sexually transmitted diseases
* * * shall contain medically accurate information regarding the
effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of condoms in preventing the
sexually transmitted disease the materials are designed to address.''
(3) Clarify the requirement of the PRP by requiring identification
of a PRP of no less than five persons who represent a reasonable cross-
section of the jurisdiction in which the program is based to ensure
better representation of the community to be served. The current
Guidelines require the identification of a PRP of no less than five
persons who represent a reasonable cross-section of the general
population. The proposed Guidelines require the identification of a PRP
of no less than five persons who represent a reasonable cross-section
of the jurisdiction in which the program is based. This clarification
should ensure better representation of the community to be served.
(4) Require each recipient to identify at least one PRP,
established by a state, territory, or local health department or
educational agency from the jurisdiction of the recipient. This
revision provides jurisdictions with the flexibility to establish the
number of PRPs to meet demand.
(5) Require PRPs to ensure that the title of materials developed
and submitted for review reflects the content of the activity or
program. This revision will ensure that materials and their contents
are clearly stated to the audience.
(6) Require funded recipients to include a certification that
accountable state, territorial or local health officials have
independently reviewed educational materials for compliance with
Sections 2500 and 317P of the Public Health Service Act. This is a new
requirement in the revised Guidelines and follows the same rationale of
Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 93 S.Ct. 2607 (1973) that defines
``obscenity'' by looking to the average person, applying contemporary
community standards, as a way to ensure that material would be judged
by its impact on an average person, rather than a particularly
susceptible or sensitive person, or a totally insensitive one. The
review responsibility, in the proposed Guidelines, is placed at the
state and local level, specifically with state and local health
officials.
(7) Develop a separate guidance document for school-based
assistance programs. The current Guidelines apply to school-based
assistance programs as well as regional, state, territorial, local, and
community assistance programs. The proposed Guidelines separate the
guidance into two documents for ease of use and clarity.

[[Page 33825]]

Summary and Explanation of Revision Applicable Only to Community-Based
Programs

(8) Require funded community-based organizations to identify a
program review panel established by a state or local health department.
While the current Guidelines allow CDC-funded organizations to
establish their own PRP, they are encouraged to use a PRP established
by a health department or another CDC-funded organization. The proposed
Guidelines will no longer permit organizations to establish their own
PRP. Instead, recipients of HIV/AIDS funds are required to identify a
PRP established by a state or local health department within their
state's jurisdiction.

Dated: June 7, 2004.
James D. Seligman,
Associate Director for Program Support, Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention.

Interim HIV Content Guidelines for AIDS-Related Written Materials,
Pictorials, Audiovisuals, Questionnaires, Survey Instruments, and
Educational Sessions for CDC Assistance Programs

I. Basic Principles

Controlling the spread of HIV infection and the occurrence of AIDS
requires the promotion of individual behaviors that eliminate or reduce
the risk of acquiring and spreading the virus. Messages must be
provided to the public that emphasize the ways by which individuals can
protect themselves from acquiring the virus. These methods include
abstinence from illegal use of IV drugs as well as from sexual
intercourse except in a mutually monogamous relationship with an
uninfected partner.
For those individuals who do not or cannot cease risky behavior,
methods of reducing their risk of acquiring or spreading the virus must
also be communicated. Such messages are often controversial. The
principles contained in this document are intended to provide guidance
for the development and use of HIV/AIDS-related educational materials
developed or acquired in whole or in part using CDC HIV prevention
funds, and to require the establishment of at least one Program Review
Panel by state and local health departments, to consider the
appropriateness of messages designed to communicate with various
groups. State and local health departments may, if they deem it
appropriate, establish multiple Program Review Panels to consider the
appropriateness of messages designed to communicate with various
groups.
A. Written materials (e.g., pamphlets, brochures, curricula,
fliers), audiovisual materials (e.g., motion pictures and videotapes),
pictorials (e.g., posters and similar educational materials using
photographs, slides, drawings, or paintings) and marketing,
advertising, Web site-based HIV/AIDS educational materials,
questionnaires or survey instruments should use terms, descriptors, or
displays necessary for the intended audience to understand dangerous
behaviors and explain practices that eliminate or reduce the risk of
HIV transmission.
B. Written materials, audiovisual materials, pictorials, and
marketing, advertising, Web site-based HIV/AIDS educational materials,
questionnaires or survey instruments should be reviewed by a Program
Review Panel established by a state or local health department,
consistent with the provisions of section 2500(b), (c), and (d) of the
Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 300ee(b), (c), and (d), as
follows:

``SEC. 2500. USE OF FUNDS.
(b) Contents of Programs.--All programs of education and
information receiving funds under this title shall include
information about the harmful effects of promiscuous sexual activity
and intravenous substance abuse, and the benefits of abstaining from
such activities.
(c) Limitation.--None of the funds appropriated to carry out
this title may be used to provide education or information designed
to promote or encourage, directly, homosexual or heterosexual sexual
activity or intravenous substance abuse.
(d) Construction.--Subsection (c) may not be construed to
restrict the ability of an educational program that includes the
information required in subsection (b) to provide accurate
information about various means to reduce an individual's risk of
exposure to, or to transmission of, the etiologic agent for acquired
immune deficiency syndrome, provided that any informational
materials used are not obscene.''

C. Educational sessions should not include activities in which
attendees participate in sexually suggestive physical contact or actual
sexual practices.
D. Program Review Panels must ensure that the title of materials
developed and submitted for review reflects the content of the activity
or program.
E. When HIV materials include a discussion of condoms, the
materials must comply with Section 317P of the Public Health Service
Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 247b-17, which states in pertinent part:

``educational materials * * * that are specifically designed to
address STDs * * * shall contain medically accurate information
regarding the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of condoms in
preventing the STD the materials are designed to address.''

II. Program Review Panel

Each recipient will be required to identify at least one Program
Review Panel, established by a state or local health department from
the jurisdiction of the recipient. These Program Review Panels will
review and approve all written materials, pictorials, audiovisuals,
marketing, advertising, and Web site materials, questionnaires or
survey instruments (except questionnaires or survey instruments
previously reviewed by an Institutional Review Board--these
questionnaires or survey instruments are limited to use in the
designated research project). The requirement applies regardless of
whether the applicant plans to conduct the total program activities or
plans to have part of them conducted through other organization(s) and
whether program activities involve creating unique materials or using/
distributing modified or intact materials already developed by others.
Materials developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
do not need to be reviewed by a panel. Members of a Program Review
Panel should understand how HIV is and is not transmitted and
understand the epidemiology and extent of the HIV/AIDS problem in the
local population and the specific audiences for which materials are
intended.
A. The Program Review Panel will be guided by the CDC Basic
Principles (see Section I above) in conducting such reviews. The panel
is authorized to review materials only and is not empowered either to
evaluate the proposal as a whole or to replace any internal review
panel or procedure of the recipient organization or local governmental
jurisdiction.
B. Applicants for CDC assistance will be required to include in
their applications the following:
1. Identification of at least one panel, established by a state or
local health department, of no less than five persons who represent a
reasonable cross-section of the jurisdiction in which the program is
based. Since Program Review Panels review materials for many intended
audiences, no single intended audience shall dominate the composition
of the Program Review Panel, except as provided in subsection d below.
In addition:
a. Panels that review materials intended for a specific audience
should draw upon the expertise of individuals who can represent
cultural sensitivities

[[Page 33826]]

and language of the intended audience, either through representation on
the panel or as consultants to the panels.
b. Panels must ensure that the title of materials developed and
submitted for review reflect the content of the activity or program.
c. The composition of Program Review Panels must include an
employee of a state or local health department with appropriate
expertise in the area under consideration, who is designated by the
health department to represent the department on the panel.
d. Panels reviewing materials intended for racial and ethnic
minority populations must comply with the terms of a-c above. However,
membership of the Program Review Panel may be drawn predominantly from
such racial and ethnic populations.
2. A letter or memorandum to the applicant from the state or local
health department, which includes:
a. Concurrence with this guidance and assurance that its provisions
will be observed.
b. The identity of members of the Program Review Panel, including
their names, occupations, and any organizational affiliations that were
considered in their selection for the panel.
C. When a cooperative agreement/grant is awarded and periodically
thereafter, the recipient will:
1. Present for the assessment of the appropriately identified
Program Review Panel(s) established by a state or local health
department, copies of written materials, pictorials, audiovisuals, and
marketing, advertising, Web site HIV/AIDS educational materials,
questionnaires, and surveys proposed to be used. The Program Review
Panel shall pay particular attention to ensure that none of the above
materials violate the provisions of Sections 2500 and 317P of the
Public Health Service Act.
2. Provide for assessment by the appropriately identified Program
Review Panel(s) established by a state or local health department, the
text, scripts, or detailed descriptions for written materials,
pictorials, audiovisuals, and marketing, advertising, and Web site
materials that are under development.
3. Prior to expenditure of funds related to the ultimate program
use of these materials, assure that its project files contain a
statement(s) signed by the chairperson of the appropriately identified
Program Review Panel(s) established by a state or local health
department, specifying the vote for approval or disapproval for each
proposed item submitted to the panel.
4. Include a certification that accountable state or local health
officials have independently reviewed written materials, pictorials,
audiovisuals, and marketing, advertising, and Web site materials for
compliance with Section 2500 and 317P of the Public Health Service Act
and approved the use of such materials in their jurisdiction for
directly and indirectly funded community-based organizations.
5. As required in the notice of grant award, provide to CDC in
regular progress reports, signed statement(s) of the chairperson of the
Program Review Panel(s) specifying the vote for approval or disapproval
for each proposed item that is subject to this guidance.
D. CDC-funded organizations, which are national or regional (multi-
state) in scope, or that plan to distribute materials as described
above to other organizations on a national or regional basis, must
identify a single Program Review Panel to fulfill this requirement.
Those guidelines identified in Sections I.A. through I.D. and II.A.
through II.C. outlined above also apply. In addition, such national/
regional panels must include, as a member, an employee of a state or
local health department.

[FR Doc. 04-13553 Filed 6-15-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4163-18-P

Something Going Right: Arts in Seattle/Tacoma

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has today an article on the great number of arts entities per capita in the Seattle-Tacoma region. Per capita, we're first!

One interviewee suggests that the fact that we have a greater number of bookstores per capita than other regions is part of the reason for the art, and someone else cites the critical mass of people doing art in this area. I would add the rain as a contributing factor.