Smart AM: Progressive radio network launches today Air America Radio, a new progressive talk radio network, launches today at noon. With on-air personalities including rapper Chuck D, former MN Public Radio anchor Katherine Lanpher, Janeane Garofalo, Sue Ellicott, and Al Franken (whose noon to 3 pm show is called The O'Franken Factor), the left-leaning programming will debut in four markets, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Portland, as well as on XM radio and eventually in San Francisco and at the Air America website. Conservatives, who've long turned to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and Dr. Laura for their dose of vitriolic AM, are already diagnosing the network dead on arrival. "As if National Public Radio, ABC, NBC, CBS and the other left-leaning networks were insufficient," neocon magazine FrontPage writes, adding that unnamed experts are "betting that the new network will fail to make money and disappear within a year." Also: The Guardian on the rising role of satire in new American politics.

UPDATE: Al Franken's Air America show "The O'Franken Factor" will broadcast today on the Twin Cities AM station WMNN Radio (1330 AM) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (The rest of Air America's programming won't be aired.)

Swearing in: Cartoonist Steve Bell's take on the president's upcoming (private) testimony before the 9/11 Commission. And: from Ivan Eland, Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute (formerly of the Cato Institute), Being the Government Means Never Having to Say I'm Sorry.


Good Lord: Faith-Based Rhetoric Visiting a Baptist church in St. Louis, John Kerry criticized "our present national leadership" by quoting James, 2:14: "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?" (It's secular counterpart: where's the compassion in "compassionate conservatism"?) The Bush camp shot back that Kerry's comment "was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of scripture for a political attack." Typical Bushie response: attack the messenger to distract from the message. They're doing it to Richard Clarke (to little avail, it seems). They did it to Paul O'Neill. But the protest rings hollow: from an administration that continues to politicize the deaths of 9/11 victims (both in the current commission hearings and in the Bush campaign commercial that features a flag-shrouded body at the WTC site) and that injects fundamentalist religious ideology into nearly every facet of domestic and foreign policy, they're really saying "Democrats have no place quoting the bible. That's our turf." I'm no fan of anybody trotting out biblical passages for political gain, but, in this case, Kerry seems to have a point: Put up, or shut up, Bush.

Frist Twist: Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, who made headlines last week by accusing Richard Clarke of perjury over supposedly contradictory 9/11 testimony (he later admitted he had no personal knowledge of the testimony), says he's appalled that Clarke would try to profit from such a book. "I am... troubled that someone would sell a book, trading on their...service as a government insider with access to our nation’s most valuable intelligence, in order to profit from the suffering that this nation endured on September 11, 2001." As Counterspin Central points out, Frist did the same damn thing. Check out Frist's book When Every Moment Counts: What You Need to Know About Bioterrorism From the Senate's Only Doctor. Also: A Talking Points Memo reader asks: "I can't help wondering who at the White House reviewed Clarke's book and cleared it for publication? And where will they be working next week?"

Free press in Iraq: US soldiers shut down a Baghdad Shiite newspaper, citing that it printed lies that incite violence. Thousands protested outside the chained-shut offices of the paper, chanting "No, no, America!" and "Where is democracy now?" Also: With a dozen American troops killed in Iraq last week, the US death toll is at 591.


Look here:
Feminist needlepoint: Jenny Hart's hand-embroidered portraits of old-time strippers, female wrestlers, Edith Piaff, and the White Stripes meld granny craft with a hipster's fine art edge. The work is quirky and cute, but after a first look, the subversive power of it sinks in. "Many people assume I'm a 'little old lady' who does this work," Hart says. "It's always fun to dispel that idea."

Youth culture, defanged: In his new series of photographs, Alex Morrison uses skateboarding to explore how youth subcultures become domesticated as they enter into the mainstream. Poached, named after the skateboarding term for stealing and selling documentation of another skater’s tricks, exposes the behind-the-scenes machinations of a TV crew filming a program on skateboarding in a city-sanctioned park. In large-scale color photographs, Morrison documents stunts as they’re staged for the cameras, instead of filmed on the handrails and concrete steps of city centers that often prohibit such behavior. This is a sanitized version of skateboarding, Morrison seems to be saying, "rebellion as cultural readymade." What’s "poached" here is skateboarders’ ability to control the terms of —and potentially profit from—their representation to the culture at large.

Visual culture, Mimi-style: The inimitable Mimi Smartypants, who works as an editor at a medical journal by day, compares a cross-section of "America's favorite stuffed sandwich," the Hot Pocket, with the cross-section of an actual tumor. (Buy her book.)
Old Bob: Linda Ellerbee writes that NPR replacing Bob Edwards as host of "Morning Edition" is a plain old case of ageism. (Makes sense since there's no other obvious reason to replace the nation's most listened-to morning radio host, whose show has grown in popularity by 41% over the past five years.)

Factoring faith: A scientist in the UK, using a 200-year old formula, has determined that there's a 67% chance that God exists.


Running scared? The swift and relentless nature of the Bush administration's attacks on its former counterintelligence chief, Richard Clarke, suggests two things, writes The Guardian: "his story may be largely true, and the Bush administration is terrified that the American people will believe it." Plus: "Richard Clarke KOs the Bushies."

With allies like these... Aljazeera.net reports that Israel fabricated the story of a 14-year old Palestinian would-be suicide bomber that made the cover of The New York Times yesterday. And the US just shot down a UN resolution that would've censured Israel for its illegal assassination of Hamas leader Yassin (on grounds that it's too "one-sided"), despite nearly universal condemnation heaped on Sharon from as far away as Venezuela and Japan to the UN's own Kofi Annan.

Caribbean Chaos: The 15-country Caribbean Community is urging the UN to open an investigation into allegations that the US kidnapped Haiti's democratically elected president, then made it look like a coup. And, now that Jean-Bertrand Aristide is back in the hemisphere, an irate Condi Rice is threatening Jamaica for giving him a temporary home. The Caribbean Community is also considering rejecting the US-backed government in Haiti.

Chomskyblog: Noam Chomsky has just launched a new blog at ZNet, Turning the Tide, and Doc Searles writes about the "technically clueful" Bush blog.

Condi's priorities: John Nichols wonders why Condi Rice doesn't have time to testify publicly before the 9/11 commission yet she can cozy up with Rupert Murdoch during secretive sessions with Fox execs?

Free Culture, free: Stanford law professor and Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig is offering his newest book, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity as a free PDF.


In "Is Bush Unhinged?" Robert Higgs writes, "'The war on terror,' he insists, 'is not a figure of speech.' Well, I beg your pardon, Mr. President, but that is precisely what it is. How can one go to war against 'terror,' which is a state of mind?"

Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein on the "the triumph of idiot culture."


Putting the W in Whoops: George W. Bush's re-election campaign, in violation of the administration's own ban against trading with the military dictatorship Myanmar (Burma)--signed into law just last year--has been selling sweatshirts from that country.

Chomsky endorses Kerry. Sort of. Despite what he sees as only minor differences between Republican and Democratic ideology, Noam Chomsky says that the "cruel and savage" Bush administration needs to be replaced and that John Kerry is his man, since he's a "fraction" better than Bush.
“Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.” --Peter Ustinov

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."
Albert Einstein 


Saturday: International Day of Action
Mark the one-year anniversary of the US's unprovoked war on Iraq during a global day of protest. Say your piece: bring the troops home, end the occupation, turn Iraq over to a UN coalition. Here in the Twin Cities, a march to the Capitol will begin at the MLK Center in St. Paul at 1:30 pm Saturday. (Details here.) Marches are planned on every continent and in more than 50 countries; visit United for Peace and Justice to find one near you.


Must-see TV: MoveOn hosts footage of Donald Rumsfeld backpedaling during a TV appearance where he's contronted about his claims he never characterized Iraq's threat as "imminent." No wonder global mistrust of the US has skyrocketed, while a majority of Pakistani and Turkish residents view Osama bin Laden favorably, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The House of Bush: Paul Krugman says that just about the only thing left for Bush to campaign on is foreign policy--and even that's based on illusions. If his priority is to eradicate terrorism and protect US soil, why divert resources from the hunt for the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks to fight Iraq? "Some of the administration's actions have been so strange that those who reported them were initially accused of being nutty conspiracy theorists," he writes. "For example, what are we to make of the post-9/11 Saudi airlift? Just days after the attack, at a time when private air travel was banned, the administration gave special clearance to flights that gathered up Saudi nationals, including a number of members of the bin Laden family, who were in the U.S. at the time. These Saudis were then allowed to leave the country, after at best cursory interviews with the F.B.I." Craig Unger's new book, House of Bush, House of Saud, takes a stab: maybe the $1.477 billion that's flowed from the House of Saud to Bush family and friends has something to do with it.

"This war is evil." Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, a National Guard infantryman who fought in Iraq then refused to return when his leave expired, has turned himself into authorities."I can no longer be an instrument of violence," he said. "I am not against the military. The military has been my family. My commanders are not evil but this war is evil. I did not sign up for the military to go halfway around the world to be an instrument of oppression... I don't think we're fighting terror in Iraq. I think we're fighting for oil." He's seeking conscientious objector status.


The Black & Blue Album: After the brouhaha over DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album--the controversial mashup of The White Album and Jay-Z's The Black Album--comes Jay-Zeezer, a mix of Weezer and Jay-Z.

Song-Poems Scam: Nestled in the back pages of '60s and '70s magazines, among ads urging you to "Draw Tippy" or buy breast-enlargement cream, were ads seeking "song-poems." Budding lyricists could pay cut-rate recording professionals $200 to $400 to set their "song-poems" to music, tapping into desperate dreams of making it big in the music biz. It was basically a scam: the promised promotion and distribution of the resulting singles and albums never happened, and the music was often so bad--often churned out on quotas of 12 recordings per hour--that it couldn't serve well as even a demo. But hearing the music today--schlocky, antiquated, and tinged with melancholy and weird optimism--the songs are a kind of time capsule from a different era, when we trusted the integrity of those who place tiny ads in the back of Popular Mechanics and when American Idol wasn't there to turn regular folk into superstars. Listen to the American Song-Poem Archive's extensive mp3 collection here.
Headline of the day: Bush Loses Spanish Election

Coalition Casualties: Perhaps the most comprehensive catalogue of military and civilian casualties.

Mentally ill troops: UPI reports that the Army "inappropriately" and knowingly deployed troops diagnosed with mental problems to Iraq.

Geek draft: The government is laying the groundwork for a potential draft of computer and language specialists.

Master of illusions: Creating the illusion that the president is accessible to the press and that reporters think his Medicare reforms are a smashing-good improvement, the Bush administration has hired actors to portray journalists in new local-market TV spots dubbed "video press releases."


Robin Rhode: Art at Street-Level
Adbusters has invited me to write a short, semi-regular column on artists working at the intersection of contemporary art and activism. See the first installment of this online-only feature, sans hyperlinks, here.

While “street art” might have a pejorative sting in fine art circles, it’s an apt descriptor for South African artist Robin Rhode’s work. And not simply because his art—often institutional critiques of museums and government offices—seems more at home outdoors than in the dim halls of officialdom, or because his work arises from the culture of pickup basketball, breakdancing, and graffiti. Rhode, quite literally, makes art on the street. On asphalt playgrounds, concrete sidewalks, and brick walls, this 20-something South African uses little more than a stub of chalk or charcoal to create performances that challenge the boundary between two dimensions and three—and confront the embedded histories and indelible memories that reside in architecture.

His works, public actions often exhibited as photographic series or wall drawings, are comic yet deadly serious: in Getaway, Rhode acts out an escape from The Slave Lodge, a Cape Town building that once housed slaves for the Dutch East India Company. With cartoonish charcoal-drawn motion lines trailing after him, Rhode high-tails it away from the site, stopping between stumbles to strike heroic runaway poses. In the deceptively simple Park Bench, he sketches a precariously angled bench on a white wall then struggles, unsuccessfully, to take a seat. The specificity of the site—the House of Parliament in Cape Town—gives the work its gravity: during apartheid, segregation of public life was legislated all the way down to public benches labeled “Coloured.” In Leak, Rhode takes aim at the sanctity of the art museum. Riffing on Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, an upturned store-bought urinal signed with the alias R. Mutt, Rhode drew a urinal on a wall in the South African National Gallery and proceeded to “fill” it. In an apparent critique of whose art gets hung in the official halls of postcolonial South Africa, he signed the work R. Moet, the Afrikaans spelling of Duchamp’s pseudonym. Taking a back-alley piss—the male act of marking territory—on the clean white walls of the museum sends a clear message to the art world: the museum, like the claimed turf of the graffiti writer, is ours.


Virtual Whitney: The 2004 Whitney Biennial, just opened in New York, offers--for the first time--virtual access.
In defense of marriage: Presidential brother Neil Bush--whose divorce proceedings revealed sex with Thai prostitutes and who faces a paternity suit over the identity of his new wife's child--has remarried! Congrats, Neil.

Iraqi guinea pigs: TalkLeft reports that the US military will begin testing a never-before-used weapon on Iraqis: a high-decibel megaphone that can deafen those hit with it and cause cellular damage.
GOP running scared? The Republican National Committee, in an apparently blatant mangling of campaign finance laws, is sending threatening letters to TV stations in hopes of getting MoveOn's anti-Bush commercials pulled. How spooked must the GOP be by the momentum of this grassroots movement--and growing oust-Bush sentiments--to target a single advertisement? And on "soft money" grounds? The Republicans, let's not forget, are the ones who've dubbed their meet-and-greet fundraising visits with Tom DeLay and Bill Frist as children's and AIDs charity events.

Of course, maybe it's all just a way of taking the heat off of Bush for exploiting the 9/11 dead in his own ads. Or diverting our attention from the point of MoveOn's "Child's Pay" ad: a mushrooming deficit and an economy that shed 1.6 million jobs last year (including 588,000 people who left the job market last month alone) means our kids will be the ones left paying for Bush's irresponsible debts.


Live from the Dump: Broadcasting hope from an unlikely site

Bantar Gebang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, is Indonesia's largest dump, measuring more than 100 hectares and growing by 6,000 tons of trash per day. The site--populated by hundreds of scavengers in search of food or items suitable for resale--seems an unlikely place to germinate hope. Yet Radio Anak Kampung Bantar Gebang, located right on the dump site, seems to be doing just that. A community radio station started and managed by kids in the area, with the help of radio professionals and social workers, it broadcasts children's songs, discussions, Malayan poetry and news every day. Read some of the participants stories here. The project presents realistic career alternatives to the kids, not to mention technical training, but it could also offer a more pragmatic service, as one scavenger says:
I cherish the hope that this radio will one day send out information about all the problems with which the community of rag-pickers are struggling. At this moment the rag-pickers need protection. If any of them should meet an accident, let's say wounded by a sharp object while turning over some garbage, or hit by a garbage tractor, it would be nice if the radio could announce it, so that help would be coming. We rag-pickers often have problems; if one of us gets sick, no one would care. And if that illness gets worse, the patient surely dies. The radio should give information about people in trouble.
Unfortunately, our national and global media policies are corporate-focused, not oriented toward social justice, the presentation of diverse viewpoints, or non-commercial ventures. While groups like Free Press are doing the important work of promoting policy change, I deeply admire this tiny station with its 20 km reach, and other groups doing in-the-trenches media work: Third World Majority (an Oakland nonprofit that leads digital storytelling projects with communities of color), HomelessWorld.org's Home/Life project (where kids in 11 cities around the world use photography to document their existence), and Prometheus Radio Project (a Philadelphia resource center helping start up micro-radio stations across the US). The corporate media won't promote the work of any of these groups, nor will Viacom or AOLTimeWarner fund it, but we can. Help spread the word, and if you're able, support the work of Homeless World Foundation and the Bantar Gebang station by donating here.

March 14-20 is Media Democracy Week
Media democracy resources:
One World's media democracy guide
• Media Alliance's Media Justice page
• The Nation's 12-Step Program for Media Democracy
• Philadelphia-based Media Tank
Alliance for Community Media
Politicizing the dead: The president barred the media from showing bodies of dead GIs coming home from Iraq to "spare the feelings of military families." But his new ad campaign depicts a flag-shrouded body being removed from the rubble of the World Trade Center. Bush has done everything to link 9/11 and the Iraq war, but in this key area--to the ire of families of the WTC dead--he chooses not to. And this from the man who promised not to exploit the deaths of 3,000 for political gains, the guy whose administration has stonewalled the work of the commission investigating the attacks.


Move over, Atkins: The Nietzschean Diet:
While dieters are accustomed to exercises of will, a new English translation of Germany's most popular diet book takes the concept to a new philosophical level. The Nietzschean diet, which commands its adherents to eat superhuman amounts of whatever they most fear, is developing a strong following in America.
One must strive to eat dangerously as one comes into the Will to Power Oneself Thin," Nietzsche wrote. "What do you fear? By this are you truly Fattened. You must embrace your Fears, as well as your Fat, and learn to Laugh as you consume them, along with Generous Portions of Simple Salad. Remember, as you stare into the lettuce, the lettuce stares also into you."
Osama for president: Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma yesterday said that a Bush loss in the fall elections would be a win for bin Laden. He's also quoted as saying he wondered what Hitler would've thought had FDR lost his re-election bid. Read between the lines here: Cole is subtly equating a Democratic vote as support for terrorism and a vote against Bush as Hitlerian. (Via CalPundit.)


Redneck Greens: A call to universalize the Left
The truck in front of me, a sleek, yet oddly bovine red pickup, bore one huge word spelled out in vinyl letters across the back window: R E D N E C K. I remember witnessing the derogatory power of that word as a kid; when effectively employed it could generate black eyes. Apparently, now it’s different. Like "queer" or "geek," the term has been, through the wonder of irony, reclaimed as a badge of honor, at least in some circles. One look at the truck—no claptrap rustbucket, but a just-washed, out-of-my-tax-bracket, new Dodge Ram—suggested as much: this statement came from a place of power, not weakness.

It’s a lesson in how words shift meaning through use and—sometimes— concerted effort. It happens all the time in politics. While polls show a majority of Americans agree that the government should pursue progressive aims—a safeguarded environment, accountable corporations, well-funded education—few people welcome the tag "liberal" to describe their beliefs. We have conservatives and their shrill neoconservative cousins to thank for this. The same people who dubbed the wealth-redistribution levy on inheritances the "death tax" and an ideology that threatens the health of women "pro-life." Even the fact that they’re called "the Right" is disconcerting. Thing is, though, to a growing number of Americans, that’s what they are.

Which is why progressives must continue to reconsider language. While John Kerry tries out a sloganeered jujitsu move, attempting to borrow the force of Bush’s troop-killing, tough-guy bumpersticker "Bring 'em on," I'm suggesting something outside the realm of action movies--from the heart of humanism. We need to strip away the rhetoric to reveal our underlying, universal beliefs: doesn’t every parent want safe food for their children? Aren’t we all—lefties and rightwingers—concerned about the hypercommercialization of youth, breathable air, drinkable water, fair pay for a job well done? "In the political arena we generally cannot convince people of anything they do not, in some sense, already believe," writes Jonathan Rowe in Yes Magazine. "But we just might be able to convince people that what we say is really what they think already." It’s not what we believe, it’s how we talk about it.

Of course, Republicans perfected "talking the talk" long ago. The Clear Skies initiative is titled to obscure the fact it weakens the protections of the Clean Air Act. The under-funded No Child Left Behind initiative, despite its empowered, feel-good moniker, is hurting America’s schoolkids. And the comfily named Log Cabin Republicans makes space in the GOP for gays and lesbians, despite fiercely anti-queer stances by the administration (not to mention the February recess appointment of William Pryor, a judge who likens homosexuality to necrophilia and bestiality). There’s a lot in a name, apparently. So maybe we should reconsider ours. To create a party that welcomes a wider swath of the forward-looking, people-focused citizenry, that welcomes treesitters, Lieberman Democrats, and farming environmentalists alike, perhaps we need to seize the power of the term "conservative."

Quinn Brisben, a 67-year old white teacher long employed at African American schools in Chicago, discusses such reclamation in Studs Terkel’s book Hope Dies Last: "When people tell me that they are conservative, first question I have is, what do you want to conserve? If you want to conserve the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution, I am with you. If you want to conserve the English language to the point where high school kids can understand Shakespeare plays, I am very much with you. Decide what it is that you want to conserve."

Reggie Prim, a community activist in Minneapolis, has already decided: he proposes a new wing of the Democratic party, the conservative progressives. "I want to conserve the progress we’ve made in the last 30 years, and I want to conserve the progress of the Civil Rights movement and the women’s right movement and the gay rights movement. I want to conserve that progress, so I’m a conservative progressive."

This is not mere wordplay: the term "conservative" is completely up for grabs. Consider: Republican president Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed into law the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act. And it’s a Republican, George W. Bush, who is working to roll back these key environmental protections along with some 200 others. No party owns the word "conservative"--and, if the Republicans ever did, they can thank George W. Bush for letting the trademark lapse.

But fusing preservation and progressivism has another component: deleting "liberal" from our political vocabulary. "Say no: 'That’s not me. I’m sorry, I don’t know who you’re talking about. I'm a progressive,'" says Prim. "Let’s reframe the argument. Let’s move it away so that if a conservative says 'liberal' it’s something that’s can’t find a home: it’s terminology without an object. It just falls off into space, ultimately without any value. And everybody stops talking about liberals all of a sudden, because no one says they’re a liberal. Then, we’ve reframed the argument and taken back the definitions about who we are and where we stand on the issues."

So let’s open up the Left: welcome, conservative progressives! Step right in, those of you representing The Christian Left, The Moral Minority, and The Radical Center (to borrow a term from Ted Halstead and Michael Lind). We’ve even got room for the "redneck" in the pickup truck. How do I know?

As a middle-class central Wisconsin native known to chop wood, bowhunt, and don the green and gold (and sometimes blaze orange) during football season, I speak with some authority. My heritage—growing up with 80 acres of woodlands to traipse through, a trout stream, and a half-acre garden plot—makes conservation, conservatism in the truest sense, a key value. Prim suggests that people like me, and those to my right—like Roy Weitzell, a hockey-lovin’, bluegrass listenin’, University of Alabama–educated DNR employee I met awhile back in St. Paul--establish our own wing of the Democratic Party:

The Redneck Greens.

I'm only half-kidding. We need a group for those of us who want to preserve the environment either out of a sense of symbiotic respect for the land or a pragmatic responsibility to protect what we’ve enjoyed and profited from all these years. Like the environmental justice movement that sought to include those most affected by bad environmental policies—the poor and people of color—a new movement must welcome nontraditional environmentalists: sporting greens, the urban poor, farmers, and "mainstream" people who, rather non-militantly, love the earth. Maybe they won’t protest the occupation of Iraq or cheer that San Francisco is performing gay marriages. Maybe they will. Either way, they can call themselves progressives.

In addition to reclaiming the labels we live by, we need to rethink the vocabulary that perpetuates our country’s polarized, left-right mindset. Thomas de Zengotita, in his January 2003 Harper’s essay "Common ground: finding our way back to enlightenment," argues that once we rethink our postmodernist penchant for identification and labeling we get down to something more basic: "all else being equal, every human life is, by nature—that is, simply by virtue of being human—equal in value to every other and therefore entitled to whatever benefits or protections are at issue in the struggle for access. Everything hangs on the ‘therefore,’ on whether or not it actually operates this way in our political thinking. If it does, then we have found what we need—the basis for a coherent ideology that promises unity for progressives at this critical hour."

Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich puts this in practice every day. For example, he considers water not as a concern of the left or right—not as a tug-of-war between corporate rights and communal values—but in broader terms we can all agree with: water is a human right. Similarly, gay marriage—like the miscegenation laws that once dictated who blacks and whites could and couldn’t marry—is really about freedom of association, about human rights.

When framed like this, who can disagree? "Let them try to make hay out of the term 'progressive,'" says Prim. "Who’s going to say, 'I’m against change for the good'?"


Local News: Minnesota Caucuses Tuesday: Tomorrow, Super Tuesday, Minnesota will be holding precinct caucuses. Find out what that means here and where you can go to attend yours here. In addition to helping select the Democratic presidential candidate, these very important neighborhood meetings will also consider other proposals, including a peace platform by the statewide organization Peace in the Precincts, "a grassroots effort to establish national security policies that will both embody and achieve our democratic hopes for peace and freedom."
Byrd on the Bush budget: Sen. Robert Byrd, in a statement to the Senate Budget Committee on Friday, called Bush's budget
a budget of gimmicks, false promises, and unrealistic expectations. It's a budget of misdirection, canards, speciousness, spuriousness, sophistry, equivocation, fallacies, prevarications, and flat out fantasy. Worse, under the guise of reining in budget deficits, this Administration is continuing its assault on the values of the working class...

Only a President who never had to apply for unemployment benefits would oppose extending them when so many workers are without a job. Only a President who never needed overtime pay would advocate taking it away from those workers who rely on it to make ends meet. Only a President who never needed federal aid to attend college would advocate cutting it back for those students who cannot attend college without it.
Read the entire statement here. (Thanks, John K.)
Liberty, Obesity, Fraternity: A cartoon festival for French schoolchildren in the town of Carquefou asked kids to illustrate their vision of the US. The results: images of obese Americans chomping Cokes and Big Macs, Bush in an army tank, Uncle Sam on a motorcycle mowing down the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps the most curious depicts the US as a baseball bat and the world as the ball.

Shock-jock backtalk: Howard Stern just got yanked from broadcast on six Clear Channel stations--and he might be out of a job for good. The timing is curious--Stern has always teetered on the edge of indecency, so why now?--and here's Stern's explanation: "My last words to you are 'G.W.B.' Get him out of office. I'm tellin' you, man, he's in dangerous territory [with] a religious agenda and you gotta vote him out - anyone but Bush."

The political-journalistic-entertainment complex: The excellent Pioneer Press media critic Brian Lambert, in a piece called "Media are patsies on 'Passion' promotion," writes that "helping Hollywood sell tickets should not be a role journalists play so willingly and so agreeably." Shouldn't the same be true of our president? Both George W. Bush and Tom Ridge have given official White House approval to "DHS-The Series," a television show about fighting terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security. In an unprecedented display of official coziness between Hollywood and the White House, both Bush and Ridge "endorse and contribute sound bites to the introductions of the series," according to DHS' producers.

Anti-RFID SOL? Wired News reports that RSA Security has come up with a way to jam RFID (Radio Frequency ID) scanners--the "digital barcodes" that are drawing the ire of privacy activists who fear the GPS-based tracking devices won't turn off once tagged products leave stores. Problem is, the technology won't be perfected for years, and by that time the anti-RFID devices will likely be banned.