You take the good, you take the bad

by Ted on October 8, 2004

A. Friday fun link: Back in the day, after the death of Suck but before the rise of the Poor Man, Modern Humorist was arguably the most consistently funny site on the web. They had a fake preview for Radiohead’s Kid A that’s still on my list.

B. Friday not-so-fun links: Eric Alterman and Paul McLeary’s column on the torture provisions in H.B 10.

Congressman Markey’s amendment (which would have stripped out the torture provisions) did not come up for a vote. An amendment to substitute the Senate version of the bill came up last night. As Katherine notes:

The Senate version of the bill has a stronger national intelligence director with budgetary and personnel authority, strengthens anti-nuclear programs, and generally follows the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations much more closely than the House bill. It does not contain the anti-immigration or torture-outsourcing legalization provisions of the House bill. It passed the Senate by a 96-2 vote. All members of the 9/11 commission support the Senate version, as does the 9/11 Families Steering committee.

This amendment failed on a near party-line vote. Eight Republicans voted for the amendment, 212 against. If I understand correctly, the bill is likely to pass with the torture provisions intact, but there’s still hope for the conference committee. If I’m right, I’ll post the members of the committee as soon as I know them. If I’m wrong about any of this (which I might be), I’ll correct as soon as possible.

It’s times like these when Mickey Kaus’s whizzy “I’m a Democrat who hates Democrats!” act looks a lot less cute.

UPDATE: Katherine notes that the House is still going to vote on the Hostettler amendment, which tones down the language on outsorucing torture without eliminating it. Among other things, it instructs the Department of State to “seek diplomatic assurances” that a suspect not be tortured. This would probably make the deportation of Arar retrospectively legal (ANOTHER UPDATE: maybe not), as Syria assured us that he would not be tortured.

Markey is asking his colleagues to vote no on both the Hostettler amendment and final passage.

American History X

by Brian on October 8, 2004

I hope Lynne Cheney is being misreported by the “Los Angeles Times”:,1,7344885.story?coll=la-news-learning

bq. At the time, Lynne Cheney, the wife of now-Vice President Cheney, led a vociferous campaign complaining that the [National Standards for History] were not positive enough about America’s achievements and paid too little attention to figures such as Gen. Robert E. Lee, Paul Revere and Thomas Edison …

bq. Cheney led the charge on the original UCLA draft. In a widely read opinion piece published in 1994, she complained that “We are a better people than the National Standards indicate, and our children deserve to know it.” The standards contained repeated references to the Ku Klux Klan and to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the anti-Communist demagogue of the 1950s, she said. And she noted that Harriet Tubman, the escaped slave who helped run the Underground Railroad, was mentioned six times. But Revere, Lee, the Wright brothers and other prominent figures went unmentioned, she said.

Harriet Tubman is a genuine American hero, someone who immeasurably improved the lives of more Americans than you or I could dream of. Highlighting her work, and the work of the Underground Railroad, is highlighting what is best about America and Americans. Robert Lee was a military commander of a treasonous rebellion that killed and terrorised more Americans than any other enemy in history. And according to the LA Times, Cheney thinks that the way to make American history books make America look _better_ is by less Tubman and more Lee?! I’m not overly sympathetic to the idea we should teach feel-good versions of history, but if that’s your plan shouldn’t you at least focus on things that kids can actually feel good about?

As I said, I hope this is the LA Times’s misreporting (damn you liberal media!) rather than something Cheney actually believes.

Turkey and Immigration

by Henry Farrell on October 8, 2004

Following up on Montagu’s post about the EU’s accession negotiations in Turkey, the _Economist_ “touches on an issue”: that I’ve been wondering about for the last few days.

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Turkey and Europe

by Montagu Norman on October 8, 2004

The news that the EU Commission has recommended opening accession negotiations with Turkey can scarcely have come as a surprise. Over the past year, the Turkish government has made it clear that it will not let any of the longstanding obstacles – Cyprus, the role of the military, penal code reform – stand in the way of its case for admission. The remaining obstacle is the EU Summit in December. Based on the past behavior of the EU, the most likely outcome of the Summit is inglorious muddling through, with negotations opening subject to some sort of backdoor being left open for a withdrawal on the EU side. But the nature of the process is such that the moment to use the backdoor will probably never come. And by the time the negotation process is finished in 2015 or so, the EU (assuming it survives more immediate challenges like the constitution) will have moved beyond the point where a single-country veto is feasible.

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Small election in Australia, not many hurt

by John Q on October 8, 2004

After a campaign that’s been long by local (but not US) standards, Australia will hold its Federal election tomorrow. The polls are close but generally favour the incumbent conservative government.

Whatever the outcome, I expect it will be treated in the international press as something of a referendum on the Iraq war – Australia was the third country to join the Coalition of the Willing, after the US and UK, while the Labor opposition has consistently opposed the war. I can’t complain too much about this, since I predicted at the start of the campaign that the war, and also the Free Trade Agreement with the US, would be major issues. In fact, the FTA has been ignored completely, and the war has played only a minor role in the campaign. The election has been fought almost entirely on domestic policy, with both sides promising lots of increases in public expenditure.

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