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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back in the USSR, part whatever

Another gem from Age of Delirium:
"My name is Alexander Spirkin," he said, extending his hand. "You probably read my textbook on Marxist-Leninist philosophy."

"Who doesn't know your textbook?" said Blok, taken completely aback. "But doesn't Marxist-Leninist philosophy prevent you from taking an interest in mysticism?"

"Not at all," said Spirkin good-naturedly. "Dialectical philosophy has the advantage that you can include in it today everything that you denied yesterday, including mysticism."
-- page 237

We've never been "stay the course."
-- George W. Bush, October 22

You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter.
-- Dick Cheney to Paul O'Neill, 2002

It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened.
-- George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 2003

Other developments were not encouraging, such as the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, the fact that we did not find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and the continued loss of some of America's finest sons and daughters.
-- George W. Bush, press conference, October 25, 2006

Lesson for the day

Naming a ship after a stupid PhD music major who happens to be friends with an even stupider son of an oil-patch crime family can end up saving you millions of dollars.

Of course, you have to pick the right stupid PhD music major and the right dim son, so it's not like Chevron didn't earn the millions of dollars they've underpaid in natural gas royalties owed to the federal government.

The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.

The agency had ordered Chevron to pay $6 million in additional royalties but could have sought tens of millions more had it prevailed. The decision also sets a precedent that could make it easier for oil and gas companies to lower the value of what they pump each year from federal property and thus their payments to the government.

Interior officials said on Friday that they had no choice but to drop their order to Chevron because a department appeals board had ruled against auditors in a separate case.
In a written statement, the department's Minerals Management Service said it would have been useless to fight Chevron.

"It is not in the public interest to spend federal dollars pursuing claims that have little or no chance of success," the agency said. "M.M.S. lost a contested and controversial issue" before the appeals board. "Had we simply wanted to capitulate to 'big oil,' the agency would not have issued the order in the first place."
Sounds like the party of "cut and run" to me. Of course, these terrorists (the oil companies) already have their caliphate running from Indonesia in the east to Indonesia in the west, with Brushboy and Tankergirl as their superheroes.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back in the USSR, two more times

I've been reading David Satter's Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union very slowly over the last several weeks, having finished several other books while getting about halfway through it. Here are two more choice excerpts:
The Soviet border was no ordinary barrier but a line of demarcation between two different states of conciousness, generated, in the West, by a world in which reality is given and, in the Soviet Union, by a universe in which reality is made. In this situation, Soviet citizens became interlopers in normal life.
-- pp. 195-196.

We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.
-- A senior Bush adviser, quoted by Ron Suskind in 2002.

Here's the second quote from Age of Delirium:
The KGB created a public relations department headed by General Alexander Karbayinov, who told a Western journalist that his department existed to explain to the world that "The purpose of the KGB is to serve society and not the other way around."

In this way, the KGB tried to alter its image in the eyes of the Soviet population, doing so not by undertaking real change but rather by creating a mirage.
-- page 214.

Former White House counselor Karen P. Hughes will take over the Bush administration's troubled public diplomacy effort intended to burnish the U.S. image abroad, particularly in the Muslim world, where anti-Americanism has fueled extremist groups and terrorism, a senior administration official said yesterday.

Hughes, 48, who has been one of President Bush's closest advisers since his tenure as Texas governor, plans to return to Washington soon to rejoin the president's team after a three-year absence and set up shop at the State Department, where she will work with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to reinvigorate the campaign for hearts and minds overseas.
-- Washington Post, March 12, 2005

And this, from today:
The Pentagon is buttressing its public relations staff and starting an operation akin to a political campaign war room as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld faces intensifying criticism over the Iraq war.

In a memo obtained by The Associated Press, Dorrance Smith, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said new teams of people will "develop messages" for the 24-hour news cycle and "correct the record."

The memo describes an operation modeled after a political campaign -- such as that made famous by Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential race -- calling for a "Rapid Response" section for quickly answering opponents' assertions.

Another branch would coordinate "surrogates." In political campaigns, surrogates are usually high-level politicians or key interest groups who speak or travel on behalf of a candidate or an issue.
I'm starting to believe Henry Ford was right when he said "History is bunk." Common wisdom would have it that the U.S. lost the war in Vietnam, but, as Chris Floyd points out, Vietnam has become a low-wage sweatshop for American corporations--that is, "we" won. Meanwhile, the fans of Ronald Reagan will never cease bragging about how he won the Cold War, but as the U.S. daily becomes more and more like the USSR, can we really say that's true either?

Lying the groundwork

Four years ago, I blogged about a William Safire op-ed in the NY Times concerning lie detectors. Safire pointed out that polygraphs are worse than useless. They are used by prosecutors to intimidate prisoners into false confessions or plea bargains, and they are especially dangerous when used to screen potential employees in sensitive jobs:

Because professional spies are trained to defeat the device; because pathological liars do not cause its needles to spike; and because our counterspies relax when a potential suspect "passes"--the system breeds the opposite of security.
Safire's article is now behind the Times' pay-per-view wall, so I can't quote it exactly (except for what I quoted four years ago). But one of his points, I believe, was that the general belief among the public that polygraphs do work was critical for how they were used. The phrase "refused to take a lie-detector test" is often deemed to be incriminating, even though polygraph evidence isn't admissible in court. Anyway, sooner or later it is remotely possible that people will become more generally aware of the defects of polygraphs, thereby rendering them completely useless. Never fear--a new generation of high-tech "lie detectors" is being developed, and the Washington Post's Joel Garreau is right there to spread the propaganda so that the new machines can have the same (negative) effect on justice that the old ones did (emphasis added):
The Siemens Magnetom Trio at the University of Pennsylvania is a 10-foot-tall, 14-ton "functional magnetic resonance imaging" machine -- fMRI, for short. It promises to be the most formidable lie detector ever built. By peering directly into our brains, its keepers aim to set a new gold standard for the recognition of honesty in everyone from politicians to criminals to lovers.
In the pipeline are several cheaper, faster, easier-to-use brain-examining technologies, all intended as major improvements on the unreliable chicken-scratching polygraph we use now. Some seem to identify mental preparations for telling a lie even before the liar opens his mouth -- verging on mind-reading. Another is meant to work from across the room, even if you do not wish to cooperate. Think of it as the "mental detector" at your airport screening, and not without good reason. Much of this research is being funded by the military as part of the anti-terror juggernaut.
The Magnetom Trio knows your thoughts better than you do. Surrender to the power of the Magnetom Trio--confess your sins.

Heck--the intimidation factor is working already. From the Post article:
The firm planned to scan for lies the brain of its first customer yesterday. But at the last minute, with NBC and CBS camera crews standing by to record the event, she decided she didn't want to put to the test her assertion that she had not cheated on her husband while he was in alcohol rehab, according to Joel T. Huizenga, the company's founder.
The article does show that using lies to "detect lies" is an old, old trick:
According to an ancient tale from India, a village turns out to have a thief. To determine who it is, a wise man puts into a dark tent a donkey he says has magical powers: if a guilty man pulls his tail, the donkey will sing. When every man in the village, one after the other, has entered the tent to pull the donkey's tail, the wise man then lines them all up, and sure enough, the identity of the thief is obvious. Turns out the wise man had covered the donkey's tail with lamp black, and only one man had clean hands.
More likely, the man with clean hands pulled on the wrong part of the donkey, while the real liar (and maybe criminal as well), the "wise man," got off scott free.

Towards the end of the article, Garreau points out the many flaws of polygraphs, and even hints at reasons why the expensive new behemoths may not work, either. But you wouldn't know it from the article's subtitle ("Tell a Whopper and Watch the Screen Light Up: Thanks (or No Thanks) to Sophisticated Scanning, The Lie May Be on Its Last Legs"), nor from the first paragraph ("gold standard for the recognition of honesty"). Safire was wrong about a lot of things, but he was very right on this. And newer, fancier, more expensive "lie detectors" only make the problem worse. What are you going to do when you're hauled in to the Ministry of Truth and told that the Magnetom Trio has already convicted you?

If we didn't arm our enemies, then where would we be?

NY Times:
The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded.
[T]he inspector general's office ... found major discrepancies in American military records on where thousands of 9-millimeter pistols and hundreds of assault rifles and other weapons have ended up. The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands.

Exactly where untracked weapons could end up--and whether some have been used against American soldiers--were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad, and official Iraq Army and police uniforms can easily be purchased as well, presumably because government shipments are intercepted or otherwise corrupted.

In a written response to the inspector general's findings, the American military largely conceded the shortcomings. The military said it would assist the Iraqis in determining the spare parts and maintenance requirements for the weapons. The military also said it has now instituted a "process to accurately issue weapons by quantity and serial number listing."
Mr. Bowen found that the American military was not able to say how many Iraqi logistics personnel it had trained--in this case because, the military told the inspector general, a computer network crash erased records. Those problems have occurred even though the United States has spent $133 million on the weapons program and $666 million on Iraqi logistics capabilities.
Remember how one of W's excuses for invading Iraq was that Saddam hadn't documented the destruction of his alleged weapons of mass destruction? Like this, from the State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003:
U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
Saddam, at least, had a plausible reason. If Saddam did, indeed have 30,000 whatevers at some point in time (Bush is obviously being intentionally vague on these points) after the Gulf War, then he was violating one of those UN resolutions, which might give some idiot US president a reason to start a war. With weapons inspectors crawling around the country, Saddam decided (if indeed he still had them at this point) to destroy every such weapon he could locate (since confirmed by UN and US weapons inspectors). Documenting this destruction would have provided evidence that he had in fact violated those resolutions. Was Ken Lay standing by the shredders at Enron, keeping careful records of every incriminating document destroyed? From the Downing Street Memos and many other sources, we know that W was going to war with Iraq in any case. Saddam didn't record his destruction of his WMD's, and W used that against him. If Saddam had recorded the destruction, W would have used THAT against him. (The "mobile biological weapons labs" were bogus from the very beginning; Bush might just as well have demanded that Saddam document that he had destroyed Darth Vader's death star.)

On the other hand, what possible excuse does the Pentagon have for handing out half a million weapons with no documentation whatsoever? As usual, they'll hide behind incompetence and the fog of war. But I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the ruling class in this country is making a fortune from the war. If it started to look like the war was over, the gravy train might cease. They can't count on the miniscule alleged flow of arms from Iran and Syria to keep the blood flowing--they have to make sure that Iraqis are armed sufficiently to keep killing each other and Americans for years to come. They made sure that Iraqi conventional weapons dumps like al Qaqaa were open to all comers during and after the invasion, and they've been handing out weapons by the hundreds of thousands to Iraqis of (understandably) questionable loyalties--and not bothering to keep track of any of it.

From Ingrid Rice.

BTW, Bob Harris, author of the fine book Prisoner of Trebekistan, had this post the other day on his blog:
Other liberals who were faking their conditions

Because, well, you heard what Rush said about Michael J. Fox, so obviously:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (he had Lucy Mercer!). Max Cleland. Michael Moore (the fat's just to make him seem lovable!). Steve Biko (the police said those head wounds were the result of a hunger strike!). Helen Keller.

How dare these people get involved in politics.
Reading that, I remembered an old maxim from marching band: "There's a limit to good taste, but no limit to bad taste!" So I sent an e-mail off to Harris with a few more examples:
  • Dennis Kucinich is faking his shortness, as am I.
  • John Kerry is really a better speaker than Martin Luther King, he's just inarticulate to lose votes.
  • And, of course, Bill Clinton really HATES sex of any kind.
  • Oh, and Jesus? Those weren't real nails. They were Steve Martin-style arrow-through-the-head fake nails.

From Jim Day.


The Mexican government has been violently surpressing an ongoing protest in Oaxaca, a poor state in southern Mexico. Several people have been killed in the past few days, including an American independent journalist. I can't even begin to get a handle on everything happening down there, but it is bad, and it's an insight into the true nature of the Mexican government. ANSWER and NarcoNews have plenty of details.

My general, but possibly mistaken, impression is that the government of Mexico is every bit as corrupt as the government of the U.S. The big difference is that almost all Mexicans know it. This may not mean that the repression in Oaxaca will cause the Mexican masses to rise up and overthrow the government, but I doubt if Mexican politicians will be able to use applause lines in speeches congratulating themselves on their repressive techniques.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Quote du jour

There is scarcely an acknowledgement anywhere in the Media Establishment that the Iraq War was an evil and misbegotten enterprise from the very beginning: conceived in greed and arrogance, sold by deceit, a criminal action by every legal and moral reckoning. As Hamlet said: "It cannot and it will not come to good." And it has not. Wars of aggression are evil things -- the "supreme international crime," as the Nuremberg Tribunal recognized -- and they will breed nothing but evil. When Bush sat before the television cameras to announce the invasion of Iraq that night in March 2003, he might as well have pulled out the shredded corpse of a child and began gnawing on the red, corrupted flesh, for he was at that moment consigning thousands upon thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of innocent people to death.
-- Chris Floyd


Friday, October 27, 2006

That's a great line

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, denying that Dick Cheney had obviously confirmed that th US uses waterboarding to torture prisoners:
MR. SNOW: Let me put it this way. You got Dick Cheney, who had been head of an intelligence committee. He's been the Secretary of Defense. He's been the Vice President. He's not a guy who slips up, and he's also not a guy who does winks and nods about things that involve matters that you don't talk about for political reasons.
A couple of minutes later:
Q To say that Vice President Cheney doesn't make mistakes like this, he did go up and curse a senator to his face on the Senate floor, and accidentally shot his friend, so he's not perfect. (Laughter.)

Q He never slips up?

MR. SNOW: No, I mean, it's just -- that's -- that's a great line, but it's not germane.
Actually, I think germane is exactly what it is. Snow is defending something stupid Cheney said by saying he couldn't have said something that stupid because he doesn't "slip up." The reporter just points out that if it weren't for "slipping up" Cheney would be a much less busy man. But between slipping up and lying, he barely has time to snarl anymore!

From Tom Toles.

It's true--the ads are ALMOST as bad as the candidates.

Escalation needs no rationale, and the old mantra that never was

You want more troops, you've got more troops. You want less troops, we'll have less troops, but please give me the rationale why.
-- Idiot-in-Chief, babbling to conservative columnists on Wednesday. Obviously they don't need a rationale if they want more troops.

There are 18 pages of his nonsense, and I certainly haven't read it all; Billmon has some choice selections. But here's one scary part I spotted (emphasis added):
Abizaid, who I think is one of the really great thinkers, John Abizaid--I don't know if you've ever had a chance to talk to him, he's a smart guy--he came up with this construct: If we leave, they will follow us here. That's really different from other wars we've been in. If we leave, okay, so they suffer in other parts of the world, used to be the old mantra. This one is different. This war is, if they leave, they're coming after us. As a matter of fact, they'll be more emboldened to come after us. They will be able to find more recruits to come after us.

Abizaid clearly sees this struggle--he sees the effects of victory in Iraq as having a major impact on other parts of the Middle East. He also sees the reciprocal of that, a defeat--just leaving--the only defeat is leaving, is letting things fall into chaos and letting al Qaeda have a safe haven. And he sees it as a--he sees that as an accelerating effect to creating incredible hostility toward people that are moderate in their view. They may not necessarily be as democrat as they want, but they're moderate in their view about the future.
When I started this post, I was planning on highlighting just one phrase: "The only defeat is leaving." Yikes. By that standard, Custer didn't lose at Little Big Horn. If W can't think there's any way to lose in Iraq except by leaving, that's very bad news for Iraq, for the troops, and for us.

But then there's this little section which demonstrates Bush's encyclopedic ignorance:
If we leave, they will follow us here. That's really different from other wars we've been in. If we leave, okay, so they suffer in other parts of the world, used to be the old mantra.
The old mantra. FDR was all the time talking about cutting and running during World War II, leaving the rest of world to suffer under German and Japanese totalitarianism, as you can readily see in this fireside chat of July 28, 1943:
The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self-sacrifice than have been displayed by the Russian people and their armies, under the leadership of Marshal Joseph Stalin.

With a Nation which in saving itself is thereby helping to save all the world from the Nazi menace, this country of ours should always be glad to be a good neighbor and a sincere friend in the world of the future.
In every country conquered by the Nazis and the Fascists, or the Japanese militarists, the people have been reduced to the status of slaves or chattels.

It is our determination to restore these conquered peoples to the dignity of human beings, masters of their own fate, entitled to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. We have started to make good on that promise.

I am sorry if I step on the toes of those Americans who, playing party politics at home, call that kind of foreign policy "crazy altruism" and "starry-eyed dreaming."
Of course, a few years later we felt a little differently about Uncle Joe and the commies, but our leaders still kept repeating that "old mantra" about cutting and running, leaving the people of the world to their fate. You know, commie-lovers like Joseph McCarthy, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Or Richard Nixon, who spares me the trouble of finding Kennedy and Johnson quotes:
In January I could only conclude that the precipitate withdrawal of all American forces from Vietnam would be a disaster not only for South Vietnam but for the United States and for the cause of peace.
For the United States this first defeat in our nation's history would result in a collapse of confidence in American leadership not only in Asia but throughout the world.

Three American Presidents have recognized the great stakes involved in Vietnam and understood what had to be done.

In 1963 President Kennedy with his characteristic eloquence and clarity said we want to see a stable Government there, carrying on the struggle to maintain its national independence.

We believe strongly in that. We are not going to withdraw from that effort. In my opinion, for us to withdraw from that effort would mean a collapse not only of South Vietnam but Southeast Asia. So we're going to stay there.

President Eisenhower and President Johnson expressed the same conclusion during their terms of office.

For the future of peace, precipitate withdrawal would be a disaster of immense magnitude. A nation cannot remain great if it betrays its allies and lets down its friends. Our defeat and humiliation in South Vietnam without question would promote recklessness in the councils of those great powers who have not yet abandoned their goals of world conquest. This would spark violence wherever our commitments help maintain the peace -- in the Middle East, in Berlin, eventually even in the Western Hemisphere. Ultimately, this would cost more lives. It would not bring peace. It would bring more war.
President Richard Nixon, November 3, 1969

And then there's the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan, repeating that old mantra about how it's okay to leave Central America, let them suffer, so what, no threat to us:
If Central America were to fall, what would the consequences be for our position in Asia, Europe, and for alliances such as NATO? If the United States cannot respond to a threat near our own borders, why should Europeans or Asians believe that we're seriously concerned about threats to them? If the Soviets can assume that nothing short of an actual attack on the United States will provoke an American response, which ally, which friend will trust us then?
The national security of all the Americas is at stake in Central America. If we cannot defend ourselves there, we cannot expect to prevail elsewhere. Our credibility would collapse, our alliances would crumble, and the safety of our homeland would be put in jeopardy.
-- President Ronald Reagan, Speech to Congress, April 27, 1983

What a genius that Abizaid is, coming up with a "construct" which uses the same scare-mongering rhetoric used by every war-mongering world leader in history. And what an idiot Bush is, to believe there is anything original or brilliant about it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rumsfeld tells war critics to 'back off'

Funny--my response to Rummy differs from his statement by only two letters!

From Lloyd Dangle.

From Mr. Fish.

From Andy Singer.

From Rex Babin.

From Brian Adcock.
Mr. Peabody:

From Jeff Stahler.

Mr. Peabrain:

From J.D. Crowe.

From Pat Oliphant.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Some lowlights from dimbulb's press conference.

From the opening statement:
Over the past three years, I have often addressed the American people to explain developments in Iraq. Some of these developments were encouraging, such as the capture of Saddam Hussein, the elections in which 12 million Iraqis defied the terrorists and voted for a free future, and the demise of the brutal terrorist Zarqawi.

Other developments were not encouraging, such as the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, the fact that we did not find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and the continued loss of some of America's finest sons and daughters.
Hmmm. Not finding WMD's was "not encouraging." I think that item makes clear that when he talks about these encouraging and not encouraging things, the only people really encouraged or not are him and his Repug cronies. I can see that having the main reason for his criminal war be demonstrated as a blatant lie would be discouraging to Bush and Cheney, but who else could possibly be discouraged to find out that there were fewer deadly weapons in the world than some suspected?
This month we've lost 93 servicemembers in Iraq; the most since October of 2005.

During roughly the same period, more than 300 Iraqi security personnel have given their lives in battle. Iraqi civilians have suffered unspeakable violence at the hands of the terrorists, insurgents, illegal militias, armed groups and criminals.
In which groups does he include Iraqi "security personnel" and US troops?
Our security at home depends on ensuring that Iraq is an ally in the war on terror and does not become a terrorist haven like Afghanistan under the Taliban.
If this were remotely true, it's another convincing argument that the war should never have been fought. Iraq under Saddam was nothing like Afghanistan under the Taliban--Saddam probably would have killed Zarqawi himself in 2002 if we hadn't been enforcing the "no-fly" zone in northern Iraq, effectively protecting, harboring if you will, Zarqawi there. In many ways, Saddam was an ally in the war on terror, more than the current puppet regime could possibly hope to be.

You gotta love this blame-the-victim excuse:
We overestimated the capability of the civil service in Iraq to continue to provide essential services to the Iraqi people.
Why, they couldn't open the broken valves connected to the bombed out reservoirs under heavy fire; they couldn't repair the transformers bombed by F-15's without the parts kept from them for a decade and a half. Slackers.

And can anybody say that Bush supports the troops after reading these next two sentences, which I'll remind you came from his prepared remarks?
We did not expect the Iraqi army, including the Republican Guard, to melt away in the way that it did in the face of advancing coalition forces.

Despite these early setbacks, some very important progress was made in the midst of an incredibly violent period.
The enemy army "melted away" in the face of coalition forces in the criminal war of choice Bush started--and he considers that to have been a "setback."

If I hadn't already seen a thousand obvious "gotcha" moments, like "bring 'em on," go a-withering, I'd be saying "game, set, and match." Reagan was the teflon pResident; this joker has titanium force shields.

Incredibly, there's much, much more--pretty much everything he says is, at best, nonsense. WIIIAI has, as usual, picked out some choice quotes, or you can just read the whole thing yourself and weep.

You choose, and I support you

(Emphasis added in all cases)

While the White House web site offers an e-mail address for comments, you can now be sure that the Decider-in-Chief doesn't read the e-mails sent there:
CNBC: Speaking of wealth, there's so much change in terms of technology on society, on business; I'm curious, have you ever Googled anybody? Do you use Google?

Pres. BUSH: Occasionally. One of the things I've used on the Google is to pull up maps. It's very interesting to see that. I forgot the name of the program, but you get the satellite and you can--like, I kind of like to look at the ranch on Google, reminds me of where I want to be sometimes. Yeah, I do it some. I'm not a--I tend not to e-mail or--not only tend not to e-mail, I don't e-mail, because of the different record requests that can happen to a president. I don't want to receive e-mails because, you know, there's no telling what somebody's e-mail may--it would show up as, you know, a part of some kind of a story, and I wouldn't be able to say, `Well, I didn't read the e-mail.' 'But I sent it to your address, how can you say you didn't?' So, in other words, I'm very cautious about e-mailing.
So...he doesn't use e-mail solely for CYA reasons (not as dumb as I thought, I guess), but he apparently doesn't care enough about what he says to check his "facts" using "the Google." And would he use a powerful tool like Google Earth to understand the terrain in Iraq, or the isolation of North Korea, or maybe why Katrina was such a disaster (well, he only needs a mirror for that)? Of course not! He uses it to plan his next vacation! Look out brush, here I come!

Believe me, George, we all want you to be on the ranch not just sometimes, but all of the time. Although Gitmo would be better.

CNBC's Maria Bartiromo gets right to the heart of the supposed crises in Iran and North Korea--how they affect the stock market:
CNBC: Let me turn to North Korea and Iran. It seems like the markets have discounted a threat from these countries, certainly the way that the markets are trading.
Is Maria really so stupid as to believe that war is bad for the stock market?

CNBC: Let me ask you, broadly speaking, about the competitiveness of this country. A lot of people worry--Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson among them--that a lot of business is going to international economies. You're seeing an enormous amount of, relatively speaking, IPOs going to Hong Kong and London relative to the New York Stock Exchange.

Pres. BUSH: Yeah.

CNBC: Are you concerned about that, and how successful has Sarbanes-Oxley really been?

Pres. BUSH: Mm. Secretary Paulson and I have spent a lot of time talking about this issue. And on the one hand, we want to make it clear that our country will not tolerate any malfeasance through corporate executives. On the other hand, we understand that if you over-regulate, it'll drive capital elsewhere. And so Secretary Paulson and--has convened a group of leaders here in Washington--Chris Cox and others--to talk about how to achieve--you know, live within the spirit of Sarbanes-Oxley, but make sure that we don't over-regulate here in America. And--so one way you become less competitive is through over-regulation. Another way is through high taxation. Another way is through lousy education. And we've got plans to address all these issues to make sure that America's still the most competitive nation in the world.
Basically, Bush here is blaming the outsourcing of much of our economy on a bill he signed with great fanfare four years ago--one which he now apparently plans on ignoring large parts of (everything but the "spirit").

Then there's this:
CNBC: And while we haven't seen something as enormous as Enron recently, we have this new issue of fast-dating of options and companies going over the line there. How would you characterize the corporate sector with regard to fraud or the possibility of malfeasance?

Pres. BUSH: I think the word's out that this administration will come and get you if you break the law. The culture is now one of enforcement, that says, you know, we're not going to put up with it. The Justice Department is active, the FCC is active, and it's important to hold people to account, and we have been and will continue to do so.

CNBC: What about Wal-Mart? You just met with small business owners. Is Wal-Mart good for this country, or does it put small business out of business?

Pres. BUSH: I think Wal-Mart is--you know, made a significant contribution to this country in terms of affordable goods as well as employing people. I think that people are going to--you know, obviously competition is a vital part of the American society, and people shouldn't fear competition. They ought to learn how to adjust and compete.
Where's the followup, Maria? Wal-Mart has clearly and in multiple ways violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and other federal antitrust legislation, dominating and controlling both goods and labor markets on local, national and global levels. They regularly violate labor law as well. One thing they certainly don't have to fear is that "this administration will come and get you if you break the law." And expecting local shops to "compete" with Wal-Mart is like expecting the middle-school football team to have to play the Pittsburgh Steelers every week--with the referees refusing to call any penalties on the Steelers. But of course this isn't just the Bushies speaking--it's the head Bushie. And of course his answer is to blame the victims--it's not his job to enforce the law and enable small business to compete with Wal-Mart on a level playing field. It's THEIR job to "adjust and compete."

And how decisive is the decider?
Pres. BUSH: I know there's a lot of speculation about the tactics, but the--what you got to know is the meeting I had with the generals on Saturday was--the meeting went like this: "We want to win." "Yes, sir." "What are we doing to adjust to the enemy?" "And here are some options, Mr. President." And my answer is, "You choose, and I support you."
Finally, the scariest part:
CNBC: My final question, sir: What is the biggest risk to losing one of the houses of Congress in the midterm elections? Is it the role--the reversal of the tax cut plan, or weakening the war in Iraq?

Pres. BUSH: Mm. I refuse to answer that question. It's a very tricky question that you asked me. I'll answer it, but I'm going to refuse to answer it the way you expect me to. I--we're not going to lose either body. And thereason why is the economy's strong and we got a plan for victory in Iraq. The other folks will raise the taxes if the end up with power, and the other folks don't have a plan for victory in Iraq. As a matter of fact, a lot of them want to leave before the job is done. So there's a clear difference of opinion between the two political parties. And I believe that once the people get in the ballot boxes and take a hard look at the stakes, they'll decide to stay with our party.

CNBC: Mr. President, with all due respect, that doesn't have--that hasn't done anything for the polls.

Pres. BUSH: I know, but I think--my advice--you didn't ask for my advice, but I'll be glad to give you my advice--is let's watch what happens on the poll that actually matters, and that's what happens on--two weeks from tomorrow.
Think about that when you're getting in the ballot boxes. (He apparently knows as much about voting as he does about "the Google.")

The Republican Base

From Tom Toles.

This isn't Sportscenter anymore...

About twice as long as it should be, but Keith Olbermann does it again. His point about the Repug ad which features the words of bin Laden and Zawahiri being terrorism is spot on. The stuff about the bones found at Ground Zero dilutes it for me--some people care a lot more about remains than I do, I guess.

Just stick to the points--the Repugs are using Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri as their campaign spokespersons. The goal of terrorism is to spread terror, and that is exactly what the Repugs are doing. It's not just in Iraq and Afghanistan: George W. Bush is the biggest terrorist in this country as well. (In that sense, I guess that anti-DeVos ad I linked to earlier compares to those 2002 ads in Georgia showing Max Cleland and Osama side by side--implying that the opposing candidate is in league with terrorists.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wombats know not to throw to third on a double-play ball

Dems fight dirty!

Dick DeVos is a slimeball outsourcing Repug CEO of a cultish pyramid-scheme corporation. But morphing him into the latest Butcher of Baghdad seems a little unfair! I can live with that. Here's the Democrats new ad in the governor's race here in Michigan.

Did you know that Simpsons' episodes have their own Wikipedia entries?

Quote du jour

I find it humiliating to live in a country where Henry Kissinger can go outside without being spit on by hundreds of concerned citizens.
-- Jonathan Schwarz


From Matt Bors.

From John Deering.

From Mike Keefe.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Down the memory hole: "Stay the course"

Yesterday, Big Brother told George Snuphalopogus "Listen, we've never been stay the course, George." Today, White House spokesmodel(TM) Dan Bartlett confirmed that we've always been at war with East Asia: "Well, Hannah, it's never been a 'stay the course' strategy." Billmon and friends, like Winston Smith, think they recall dozens of times when Big Brother used that particular oldspeak phrase, but that's because Billmon and friends don't sufficiently love Big Brother.

We're at war in Iraq. We've always been at war in Iraq. It is the central front in the never-ending war on terror. It has always been the central front in the never-ending war on terror. We are not staying the course. Got it?

From Tom Toles.

Only ONE war? Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Terror, Immigrants, Sanity, the Constitution...
Only ONE corrupt government? The U.S., Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Mexico, Colombia...

I'm not sure if the usually-brilliant Toles is being forgetful, or just adding another level to the cartoon which shows Rove's deceitfulness.

From Ted Rall.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

From Mr. Fish.

From John Darkow.

Why abandon proven failure?

Retreating from Iraq would allow the terrorists to gain a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America. Retreating from Iraq would dishonor the men and women who have given their lives in that country, and mean their sacrifice has been in vain. And retreating from Iraq would embolden the terrorists, and make our country, our friends, and our allies more vulnerable to new attacks.
-- George W. Bush, radio address today

This BS is so despicable it makes Keith Olbermann want to scream. For several reasons--I'll start with the picky one first: the first and third sentences say basically the same thing. And, as with most of what he says, it is seriously deceptive if not an outright lie. For one, it is shear conjecture--staying the course was tried in 2004, and the violence and threat from terrorism (Madrid) got worse. Tried it again in 2005, more violence, more terrorism (London). Staying the course has a terrible track record, and many in the sane community believe that Iraq is already a breeding ground for terrorists (even ignoring the obvious evidence of terrorism in Iraq). Cutting and running hasn't been given a chance, and Bush is just making up crap about it to give it a bad reputation. Staying the course is a proven failure.

Of course, the second sentence above is the most despicable. Sending troops to fight an unnecessary war based on lies is the most dishonorable thing you could do to them--except perhaps for continuing to do so.

Spreading freedom abroad; destroying it at home

NY Times:
In a symbolic decision that no doubt will be scrutinized by the Kremlin leadership, Ms. Rice invited senior editors of Novaya Gazeta, a leading independent journal, to a meeting at her hotel, a session that included the son of the assassinated journalist Anna Politkovskaya, before she headed into official government meetings.

Earlier, Ms. Rice said that the future of a free Russian press and electronic media "is a major concern" of the United States government.

"There is still an independent print press," she said. "Unfortunately, there is not much left of independent television in Russia."
I assume this means that Condi will be meeting with Keith Olbermann before her next meeting with Bush.

To Condi and all Bushies who insist on freedom and democracy everywhere but here, hear the word of the Lord:
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
-- Luke 6:41

Of course, the problem of press freedom in Russia is more than just a "speck," but Condi just met with the son of an assassinated newspaper reporter, and still claimed that Russia has an independent print press.

Oh, and Condi? Where are OUR independent television stations?

Passing of the meme

September 30: Billmon summarizes Bush's weekly (weakly?) radio address, comparing it to FDR's famous line:
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Inaugural Address
March 4, 1933

"The only thing we have is fear."

George W. Bush
Radio Address
September 30, 2006
October 2: Detroit Free Press cartoonist Mike Thompson runs this cartoon:

October 15-21: Garry Trudeau runs a week-long Doonesbury series where "Fear Itself" is interviewed in the White House press room:

I don't know if Billmon was the inspiration for Thompson, or Thompson (or Billmon) the inspiration for Trudeau. It wouldn't surprise me, though.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Back in the USSR, part whatsoever

Many bloggers have bemoaned W's signing this week of the torture bill. I figured what little chance we had to preserve the Constitution died when the bill was passed in Congress in late September; the chance that W was going to veto it was even less than the chance that he knows how many Constitutional provisions it obliterates.

The NY Times lead editorial yesterday referred to a "dangerous new order." The Times, however, claims that "The law does not apply to American citizens, but it does apply to other legal United States residents." That's not what I've heard--I've read that we're all basically rightless now. Today, Robert Parry makes it clear:
While it's true that some parts of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 target non-citizens, other sections clearly apply to U.S. citizens as well, putting citizens inside the same tribunal system with resident aliens and foreigners.

"Any person is punishable as a principal under this chapter who commits an offense punishable by this chapter, or aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures its commission," according to the law, passed by the Republican-controlled Congress in September and signed by Bush on Oct. 17.

"Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States ... shall be punished as a military commission ... may direct...
The law states that once a person is detained, "no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action whatsoever... relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission under this chapter, including challenges to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions."

That court-stripping provision--barring "any claim or cause of action whatsoever"--would seem to deny American citizens habeas corpus rights just as it does for non-citizens. If a person can't file a motion with a court, he can't assert any constitutional rights, including habeas corpus.
Simply stated, this bill repeals the entire history of constitutional and common criminal law. Every member of Congress who voted for it should be removed, Democrats included. They take an oath to defend the Constitution, not to destroy it.

Keith Olbermann gets it, although he focuses too much blame on Bush. Without his lackeys on both sides of the aisles in Congress, Bush is just a pathetic dry drunk, of little danger to anyone. With their support, he may be the most dangerous man the world has ever seen.

Worst Congress Ever

And not JUST because they haven't impeached the Worst President Ever. Matt Taibbi documents why this Congress ranks 109th out of 109. Just five easy steps:

Matt has the details.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

From Mr. Fish.

The enemy within

My first job out of college was with Rocketdyne, located in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Rocketdyne made most of the rocket engines used in America's space program, including the F-1 engines on the Saturn V rocket which launched to missions to the Moon. When I was there, the main project was the Space Shuttle Main Engine. At that time, Rocketdyne was a division of Rockwell; today it is owned by Boeing. I worked in the main factory (which included a lot of research and office facilities) in Canoga Park, near the western end of the valley. A few miles to the north, up in the hills, was Rocketdyne's rocket testing facility--the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. I only went there a few times--once to view a test of an Atlas rocket, one of the older engines Rocketdyne was still selling to NASA because the Space Shuttle was so far behind schedule. The place reminded me of the home of some James Bond villain--especially during the test!

Well, it turns out (I'm sure you'll be surprised) that Rocketdyne wasn't all that careful with the environment. In 1959, long before I got there, there was a nuclear meltdown at Santa Susana. Rocketdyne (hold on to your hat!) covered up the seriousness of the incident and its environmental effects for decades. Even now, developers continue to build homes near the site of the incident on ground which is probably contaminated. Hundreds of cases of cancer and birth defects have been reported in the area, and Rocketdyne is the main suspect.

From Steve Greenberg.

From Steve Breen.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If you want to support a charity or a cause, give them the money directly

Don't rely on "we'll share the profit" schemes. I just got an e-mail from Amnesty International, a very worthwhile organization, asking me to sign up for cellular service with "Amnesty Wireless." Amnesty Wireless turns out to be a front for Working Assets, which as I found out last year is a front for Sprint (although they've made that harder to figure out now). I've been happy with my Sprint service for years, and have tweaked my plan so I get the most of what I want for the least money. "Amnesty Wireless" offers only a limited subset of these choices (only seven phones to choose from, compared to 31 directly from Sprint, for example), meaning that I and most people would likely end up spending more than we need to.

Get your best deal on what you need, using your conscience to guide you away from the worst corporate criminals whenever possible. Send your savings to your favorite organizations. There is no reason these two activities should be directly connected, and some pretty good reasons they shouldn't. (Suppose Sprint decides to deny coverage to a "rebel" area in some country at the request of the Bush administration, something AI might oppose. Should they be burdened with the conflict of interest of having a stream of income coming from Sprint? I'd rather have AI tell me why I should switch to another company.)

I used to have an Amnesty International Visa as well, but that's probably even worse.

The Amnesty Wireless web site says that "10% of every dollar you bill is donated automatically to Amnesty International, at no extra cost to you." Sorry folks, there's ALWAYS an extra cost.

Why do you even have a table then?

Quote du jour: "We've taken nothing off the table and we've put nothing on the table." -- James Evil Baker III

So the man who played a major role in creating the mess in Iraq years ago, and who helped assure the appointment of our current pResident in 2000, has now been appointed to the "Iraq Study Group" by said pResident in order to do nothing for month after month.
"I will say one other thing -- there's no magic bullet for the situation in Iraq. It is very, very difficult," Baker said on Tuesday in a speech to the World Affairs Council of Houston.

"So anybody who thinks that somehow we're going to come up with something that is going to totally solve the problem is engaging in wishful thinking," he said.
Don't worry, evil one, I don't think anyone expected you to solve the problem, especially when your sponsors are profiting so excessively from it.

Given the track record of the likes of Dean Rusk, Henry Kissinger, Baker, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condi Rice, can anyone explain why we even HAVE a Secretary of State? Just a more efficient way to piss off the world? And certainly, once they're out of office, can't we PLEASE forbid them from doing any further damage? In addition to Baker's continuing damage direction (control isn't the right word), Woodward's latest book says that genocider Kissinger is still giving advice to our current crop of war criminals.


While I was sleeping...

WIIIAI was doing the onerous task of reviewing the latest nonsense from the so-called leaders of the so-called free world, George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
O'REILLY: Sixty percent of Americans are now against the Iraq War. Why?

BUSH: Because they want us to win. They believe--they are wondering whether or not we have the plans in place to win. They want to know whether or not we have the flexibility on the ground to constantly meet the enemy.
Hey Bill! Why don't you ask some of us 60 percenters instead of that idiot? We know why we oppose the war; he obviously doesn't. And Bush's explanation? There may have been some truth to it among those who have changed their opinions on the war--a year or two ago. But plans and flexibility? Those questions have long since been answered: No plans, no flexibility. Just plenty of body bags and prostheses.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Got Ignorance?

Maybe you can work in the Bush administration! Ignorance seems to be a prerequisite: see Billmon and A Tiny Revolution. As I pointed out in the comments at ATR, working with the Middle East only requires ignorance of Sunnis and Shiites, while a president has to be ignorant about EVERYTHING. In case you were wondering how this guy got the job:

Paraguay base--the Jenna has landed

Moontrek--The next generation of Bushes. Jenna is in Paraguay, where apparently Rev. Moon and Bush 41 have purchased adjacent eco-plantations on top of a huge freshwater reservoir in a spot famous for drug and arms running. What else would you expect? From Rigorous Intuition, thanks to Michelle.

Gag me with a spoon

The Veep from the Deep has some fans in Kansas:
Grace Mosier lives with her mom and dad, goes to birthday parties, takes ballet classes and is just like a lot of other 6-year-old girls. Except that she happens to be obsessed with Dick Cheney.

"I really, really like him," says Grace, who can tell you what state the vice president was born in (Nebraska), where he went to grade school (College View, in Lincoln) and the names of his dogs (Dave and Jackson). She gets her fix of Cheney fun-facts by visiting the White House Web site for children. It says there that his favorite teacher was Miss Duffield and that he used to run a company called Halliburton.
Surely someone needs to reprogram Grace immediately and give her a more appropriate hero, like Barry Bonds or Paris Hilton or Osama bin Laden. Otherwise, she may grow up to be another idiot like these:
"It's just such a big thrill to see and hear this man," says Marvin Smith, a farmer and former teacher.

Mr. Smith says most people he knows feel the same way, "except for a few of those peacemakers." [Cursed are the peacemakers here in Kansas.]
"We love him here," Susan Wagle, a state senator, says of Mr. Cheney.
"There was a peacefulness and a truthfulness to this man that really caught my heart," says the congressman's wife, Anne Ryun, who is clutching a Bush-Cheney placard from the 2000 campaign that the vice president has just autographed.

Ms. Ryun had spoken briefly to Mr. Cheney and says she had told him she was praying for him. She adds that his wife, Lynne, "is the most gracious, intelligent woman I've ever known of," and that she wants to model her life after her. Recounting this, Ms. Ryun's voice goes soft, and her eyes become a little glassy.
What the Cheney IS the matter with Kansas? Can you think of anyone else who less represents peacefulness and truthfulness than Useless Dick? (With an IQ over 75 that is--I know who you're thinking of!)

The article also mentions a childhood friend of Cheney's who didn't get to talk to Cheney because he didn't contribute the $1000 required for the photo op. I wonder where six-year-old Grace got the G-note?

From Doonesbury.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Nine Paradoxes of War

Michael Schwartz spells out nine paradoxes of war, none of which the Bushies have a clue about (or else they just don't care). My favorite: Sometimes Doing Nothing Is the Best Reaction. I have suggested several times that the most inspired response to 9/11 would have been to do NOTHING. Whatever thrill Osama or whoever was really to blame for 9/11 got out of seeing those buildings collapse, his/their real goal was to provoke a reaction which he/they could use for their nefarious purposes. And boy were our idiot/criminals ready to provide one--they already had plans! Three thousand American deaths and $350 billion later, the hole we're in is a lot bigger than the one at Ground Zero.

Clearly unacceptable

"Clear" and "unacceptable" are aWol's two favorite words.

Your morning laughs

WIIIAI reviews the candidate statements from the California voter pamphlet, for which the candidates had to pay $20 a word.
While that $20 per word cost scared off some of the poorer campaigns, like that of Arnold Schwarzenegger, it produced a commendable pithiness from the Peace and Freedom candidate for controller: "Raise taxes on the rich; lower taxes on workers."
To be fair to the Gropenator, maybe German words cost an extra fifty euros each.

From Ann Telnaes.

Your morning outrages

Well of course it is: Saddam Verdict Is Expected on Nov. 5. Meanwhile, election day in the U.S. is expected November 7. Any connection? None that AP bothers to mention.

* * * * * * * *

The gentle rolling of the waves, the graceful flight of the birds, the rattle of automatic weapons fire--The Coast Guard is using open water in the Great Lakes as firing ranges for their new machine guns:
For the first time in memory, Coast Guard members plan to use a stretch of water at least five miles off this Michigan shore--and 33 other offshore spots near cities like Cleveland; Rochester; Milwaukee; Duluth, Minn.; and Gary, Ind.--as permanent, live fire shooting zones for training on their new 7.62 mm weapons, which can blast as many as 650 rounds a minute and send fire more than 4,000 yards.
* * * * * * * *

Michigan's Republicrat senatorial candidates had a debate last night, but I can't find a transcript anywhere. However, WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids offers this excerpt:
Stabenow: "We absolutely need a balance between going after the terrorists, which I support. ... But there is a critical balance between our personal freedoms as Americans and what makes us great, and making sure we are safe. And I have voted in a way that allows us to do both."
No, Debbie. Habeus corpus is probably our most important freedom, and you voted to kill it. Debbie argues that she has initiated or supported some bills which have accomplished this or that for Michigan, but we all know that no bill of importance has been passed by the Senate since she arrived in 2001 without the support of the Repugs. Tell us instead, Debbie, how many neanderthal judicial nominees or Constitution-trashing outrages you have filibustered in your six years. I thought so.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The war in drugs

Canadian troops have been fighting the Taliban in dense forests of ten-foot-high marijuana plants.
"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

They noticed!

AP Headline: Bush keeps revising war justification.
When no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, Bush shifted his war justification to one of liberating Iraqis from a brutal ruler.

After Saddam's capture in December 2003, the rationale became helping to spread democracy through the Middle East. Then it was confronting terrorists in Iraq "so we do not have to face them here at home," and "making America safer," themes Bush pounds today.

"We're in the ideological struggle of the 21st century," he told a California audience this month. "It's a struggle between good and evil."

Vice President Dick Cheney takes it even further: "The hopes of the civilized world ride with us," Cheney tells audiences.
Of course, the only "news" here is that this is actually being reported in the mainstream "news."

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sounds like retribution to me

Tuesday, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) added another nail in the Repugs' Foley coffin, stating that he reported "uncomfortable" Foley e-mails to pages five or six years ago to Foley's office and the House clerk. Three days later?
The U.S. attorney in Arizona has begun a preliminary inquiry into a 1996 camping trip that included Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Arizona, and two male former congressional pages, according to two federal law enforcement officials who are familiar with the issue.
The mob doesn't like snitches.

CNN is the source for both articles. Today's article includes this interesting paragraph:
Kolbe has served 22 years in the House and is retiring after this term. He is an openly gay Republican serving in the House. From 1996 to 2001, he served on the board that supervises the page program. Kolbe also served as a page for Sen. Barry Goldwater in the 1950s.
Tuesday's article also states that Kolbe is retiring, that he served on the page board, and that he was a page for Goldwater. It doesn't, however, mention that he is gay.

And if you're looking for a champion of twisted Repug logic, trying somehow to turn this stuff against Democrats, look no further than the absurd Colorado cartoonist Chuck Asay:

War support going south in the South

From the Institute for Southern Studies:
Despite strong early support for the Iraq war in the South, the regions opposition to the war now matches national levels - and by some measures frustration is higher in the South than elsewhere in the country. Those are the findings of a new public opinion poll run by the Institute for Southern Studies and the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University.

Go Mets Cards!

I've been a Tiger fan since I was seven years old, and the Tigers are now one win away from being in their first World Series in 22 years. If they get there, they'll face either the St. Louis Cardinals or the New York Mets. The Cards would probably be the easier opponent--the Tigers swept them in a three game series in Detroit back in June. But I'm pulling for the Mets, because Carlos Delgado is their first baseman (he just hit a three-run homer for them, BTW). And Carlos is one guy who won't stand for the playing of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.

Oops--just Googled to see if anything has changed. It has. When Delgado joined the Mets last November, they told him he would stand for "God Bless America," and he caved.
He said at the November 28 press conference announcing his trade to the Mets from the Florida Marlins, "The Mets have a policy that everybody should stand for 'God Bless America' and I will be there. I will not cause any distractions to the ballclub.... Just call me Employee Number 21." And we saw him grin and bear it when Jeff Wilpon, son of Mets CEO and owner Fred Wilpon, said, "He's going to have his own personal views, which he's going to keep to himself."
So screw the Mets--Go Cards!

Quote du jour

"Lack of confirmation is not proof of a non-event." -- Unidentified intelligence official, commenting on reports that there is no evidence of radiation from North Korea's supposed nuclear test.


Listen to the enemy

Iraq is a part of the war on terror. Now, I recognize Democrats say that's not the case, and what I say to the American people when I am out there is, all you got to do is listen to what Osama bin Laden says. Don't believe me that it's a part of the war on terror; listen to the enemy, or listen to Mr. Zawahiri, the number two of al Qaeda, both of whom made it clear that Iraq is central in their plans.
-- George W. Bush, Wednesday (emphasis added)

In other words, don't believe anything any American says--al Qaeda's the only one telling the truth here.

When is genocide not genocide?

When you're the genocider! Jonathan Schwarz helps George Bush explain.

Notes from the Gulag

The Jose Padilla case continues to outrage, more than four years after John Ashcroft announced, in Moscow no less, Padilla's arrest in Chicago a month earlier. For 3 1/2 years, Padilla wasn't charged with anything, even though the administration claimed first that he was planning a "dirty bombing," and then later that he was going to blow up some apartment buildings. When the Supreme Court finally forced the Bushies to charge Padilla, neither allegation was included in a vague and apparently baseless indictment of assisting terrorism. Padilla's groundless arrest and extended detention without charges or trial are outrages enough against the Constitution, but they are only the beginning. According to a Motion to Dismiss filed last week by Padilla's lawyers, Padilla has been tortured in various ways throughout his detention, including being given hallucinogenic drugs like LSD.
It is also extremely important to note that the torturous acts visited upon Mr. Padilla were done over the course almost the entire three years and seven months of his captivity in the Naval Brig. For most of one thousand three hundred and seven days, Mr. Padilla was tortured by the United States government without cause or justification. Mr. Padilla's treatment at the hands of the United States government is shocking to even the most hardened conscience, and such outrageous conduct on the part of the government divests it of jurisdiction, under the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment, to prosecute Mr. Padilla in the instant matter.
And then there's the 16 Afghans and one Iranian just released from Gitmo:
One of the released prisoners, Sayed Mohammead Ali Shah, said he had been a delegate at the country's first loya jirga, a council of leaders that helped establish the interim government in 2002 after the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001.

"For four years they put me in jail in Cuba for nothing," said Shah, a doctor from the eastern province of Paktia whose hands shook from nervousness when he spoke.

"All these people (the other prisoners) and all those Afghans still in Cuba, they are innocent," he told reporters. "All were arrested because of false reports, and the Americans, without investigating, they arrested innocent people and put them in jail for a long time."

Another former prisoner, Habib Rahman, 20, said he was arrested because he had a weapon in his home.

"They told me, 'You are against us, you are anti-American and anti-government and you are fighting with us,'" said Rahman, from Paktia. "At that time in our area everyone had weapons. I was innocent and I hadn't participated in any fighting."

Rahman said that he was treated harshly at Guantanamo, and that one time he was kept awake for 38 hours while being questioned about ties to terrorists.

"The last time they tortured me like that was four months ago," he said. "They were kicking us all the time, beating us with their hands."
Amazing that the U.S. would release these guys after the Senate Majority Leader convicted them, sight unseen, last month.
If we let them go, there is no question in my mind that many would return to what they were doing before they were captured: plotting new ways to attack us.
Of course, that was before Frist was pro-Taliban.

Clearly, our government has no respect for either international law or the Constitution, or else they would have either tried or released Padilla and the Gitmo gang years ago. Also, they're clearly lying about concerns to protect us. If I had to guess (okay, I want to guess), I'd guess at the following statistics about the "detainees" at Gitmo:
  • Fewer than five percent had any real ties to al Qaeda (at least before they brought KSM and other high-profile cases there last month). Of these, probably only two or three had anything to do with 9/11 or other attacks on America.
  • Probably 50% or so were actively fighting against US forces, but since when is defending your country a crime? At worst, they should have been treated as prisoners of war, which means the full Geneva Convention treatment, including not transferring them to the other side of the world.
  • The remainder were captured for no reason whatsoever, caught up in a sweep or turned in for a bounty.
  • Most of those released so far are probably from this last category, but knowing how thoroughly our government screws up, they've probably released a couple of hard-core al Qaeda terrorists as well.
  • Chances are that some of those wrongly detained and eventually released, some will someday participate in an attack against the US, something they might never have considered before. And if not them, perhaps a family member. Blowback happens.

Fat Man and Little Boy

The world will certainly be a better place without these morons in charge.

Bull**** in the China shop

In a quick glance at the NY Times web site this morning, I saw this headline: China Drafts Law to Empower Unions and End Labor Abuse. That's a headline which could only be more shocking and unexpected if the first word were "Congress" instead of "China." Of course, there is opposition to the proposed law, and I'll give you one guess who it is:
China is planning to adopt a new law that seeks to crack down on sweatshops and protect workers' rights by giving labor unions real power for the first time since it introduced market forces in the 1980's.

The move, which underscores the government's growing concern about the widening income gap and threats of social unrest, is setting off a battle with American and other foreign corporations that have lobbied against it by hinting that they may build fewer factories here.
Yep, the cheap-labor conservatives never stop. Two hundred years from now, they'll be relocating from Mars to Pluto to cut labor costs. I could write volumes on this, but I see that Chris Floyd has beaten me to it:
The corporate elite are threatening to lash out because China is considering a few very belated and, as the story makes clear, most likely ineffective steps to provide a modicum of protection for its working people, many of whom labor in conditions of near-slavery in order to stuff the bellies and the wallets of foreign fat-cats. The elite are saying--openly, brazenly-- that they might choke off economic growth in China if they can't keep paying peon wages to defenseless people in hell-hole conditions.

Otherwise, the clear implication is that they will look elsewhere for drones to exploit. Hey, maybe Burma is ready for an "economic miracle?" Or North Korea? We could trade their nuke program for Wal-Mart sweatshops and Goodyear plantations, give a nice slice to Kim and let the good times roll.

This is the true face of "globalization"--predatory elites moving relentlessly, remorselessly around the world, swooping in wherever they're allowed to put profits over people, to treat human beings like so much meat to be chewed up and discarded, then moving on when there's the slightest hint of measure that might impact their already unfathomable riches by some infinitesimal degree. This is the true and ugly face of greed that lies behind the grinning masks of the great and good as they slap backs at Davos or grin for the cameras at G8 summits.
China has been their darling, despite its massive political repression--no, because of its massive political repression, which keeps workers docile. But any move by Beijing (and the new measure is still in draft form) to upset the golden applecart of slave-like labor will be punished by the corporate elite, just as they have punished, smeared, destroyed or marginalized anyone standing up for working people in the United States.
Floyd also points out that the (US) National Labor Relations Board just took away the rights of 8 million Americans to join unions. (Check out the Colbert video there.)

Yes, Thomas Friedman, the world is flat. And the cheap-labor conservatives, with the full support of the Republican and Democratic parties, are the ones who have flattened it.

"Free trade" is neither: it is theft, pure and simple.

From Tom Toles.

From Pat Oliphant.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stolen bases

This little chat between Tucker Carlson and Chris Matthews is making the rounds of the blogosphere.
CARLSON: It goes deeper than that though. The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power. Everybody in...

MATTHEWS: How do you know that? How do you know that?

CARLSON: Because I know them. Because I grew up with them. Because I live with them. They live on my street. Because I live in Washington, and I know that everybody in our world has contempt for the evangelicals. And the evangelicals know that, and they're beginning to learn that their own leaders sort of look askance at them and don't share their values.

MATTHEWS: So this gay marriage issue and other issues related to the gay lifestyle are simply tools to get elected?

CARLSON: That's exactly right. It's pandering to the base in the most cynical way, and the base is beginning to figure it out.
Well, of course it's true--Bush and Cheney are no more true-believing born-again fundamentalist Christians than is Osama bin Laden, and probably have even less respect for the fundies than Osama does. Then again, the Repugs aren't the only party that mocks its base. The vast majority of Democrats opposed the war in Iraq, including some 95% of the delegates to the 2004 national convention. Still, they nominated a pro-war shill, just like always, and they continue to mock THEIR base by refusing to block aWol's Supreme Court nominees, and his torture, and the funding for his wars (100 to friggin' NOTHING in the latest Senate vote). They don't even try. Neither major party truly represents any large segment of the population--they both represent money.

A two-party system might work, but it can't be these two parties. Together, they are destroying the world, dragging their bases down with them.

October Surprise?

Chris Hedges:
The aircraft carrier Eisenhower, accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason and the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News, is, as I write, making its way to the Straits of Hormuz off Iran. The ships will be in place to strike Iran by the end of the month. It may be a bluff. It may be a feint. It may be a simple show of American power. But I doubt it.

War with Iran--a war that would unleash an apocalyptic scenario in the Middle East--is probable by the end of the Bush administration. It could begin in as little as three weeks.
An attack on Iran will ignite the Middle East. The loss of Iranian oil, coupled with Silkworm missile attacks by Iran on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, could send oil soaring to well over $110 a barrel. The effect on the domestic and world economy will be devastating, very possibly triggering a huge, global depression. The 2 million Shiites in Saudi Arabia, the Shiite majority in Iraq and the Shiite communities in Bahrain, Pakistan and Turkey will turn in rage on us and our dwindling allies. We will see a combination of increased terrorist attacks, including on American soil, and the widespread sabotage of oil production in the Gulf. Iraq, as bad as it looks now, will become a death pit for American troops as Shiites and Sunnis, for the first time, unite against their foreign occupiers.
If you are sure you will be raptured into heaven, your clothes left behind with the nonbelievers, then this news should cheer you up. If you are rational, however, these may be some of the last few weeks or months in which to enjoy what is left of our beleaguered, dying republic and way of life.
If you don't think the lunatics running this asylum would start a war in order to steal mid-term elections, then you weren't paying attention four years ago.

Quote du jour

Dennis Perrin writes about the right-wingnut reaction to the latest report on the number of deaths caused by the Iraq war:
For all the lip-smacking and arm-waving about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, there's plenty of comparable moral blindness on our end, the major difference being that Ahmadinejad, so far as I know, had no hand in operating or supporting Nazi death camps. Americans can't say the same about those we've exterminated either by hand or through tax dollars and political support.

Southeast Asia.

Central America.

The Middle East.

And we still "celebrate" Columbus Day.


Things are SO different here...

From Dana Summers, who apparently never heard of Gary Webb (emphasis added):
Gary Webb (August 31, 1955 December 10, 2004) was a controversial American investigative journalist, best known for his 1996 "Dark Alliance" investigative report series, written for the San Jose Mercury News. In the three-part series (later published as a book), Webb investigated Nicaraguans linked to the CIA-backed Contras who had allegedly distributed crack cocaine into Los Angeles and funneled profits to the Contras. Webb also alleged that this influx of Nicaraguan supplied cocaine sparked and significantly fueled the widespread crack epidemic that swept through urban areas. Webb's reporting generated a large controversy and the Mercury News backed away from the story, effectively ending Webb's career as a mainstream media journalist.
On December 10, 2004, he was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head. Sacramento County coroner Robert Lyons determined that it was suicide.
To be fair, Webb actually got BOTH prizes--he and his colleagues won a Pulitzer in 1990 for coverage of the 1989 Bay Area Earthquake.

From Andy Singer.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

When Neocon is the better option

Thanks again to Jeff. While I've been playing soccer and watching baseball, Jeff has raised the confusion about the new UN Secretary General to a much higher level, chasing the links I couldn't find. Unfortunately, the links don't agree with each other:
Well, I did say 'BELIEVED to be a moonie.' scared the hell out of me, and I'm still not ENTIRELY convinced, as Wayne Madsen usually -- though not always -- knows what he's talking about. But if he isn't, I can't tell you how relieved I am. He's just a friendly neo-con. And as for NK, hell, you call that a

You may have already seen this -- if not, it's worth reading. Ki-moon: Moonie or Neocon Toady?

And there's this: Next UN Chief is Member of Pacifist Christian Group

Okay. let's say Ban ki-Moon is NOT a member of the Unification Church. Thank God for that. Now back to the Foley/Haster thing, which is interesting enough.

Check this out: Does D.C. Sex Scandal Go All the Way to the Top?

and this: Sex under the Moon: Was Brock meant to be a Gannon?
To summarize what I've read in those links: Using gay prostitution to blackmail Republicans, Rev. Moon and some other Koreans have been running the United States (and hence the world) for the past 35 years.

And you thought it was something bad.

When the Moon is in the 109th House

Sometimes just a little joke can lead you down some crazy paths you didn't even know were there. Earlier today, I wrote "Unfortunately, ten minutes of Googling found no connection between Rev. Moon and Mark Foley. Sorry." Well, I got an e-mail from Jeff, who writes:
The connection can be seen in the repetition of a pattern. You might have expected the Washington Times to try to cover for the repugs, no? Instead, they were the first to demand Hastert's resignation, helping to expand the crisis. (Of course had they not, others would have, but the fact that they were so quick off the mark and so definite has got to be significant.) That is the "MO" signature. Of course in this case there's no possibility of "burying" the story, the cat is definitely out of the bag...
Jeff then links to a post at Rigorous Intuition, which questions why the Washington (Moonie) Times took the lead back in 1989 in exposing another Repug sex scandal, involving a Jeff-Gannon-like gay prostitution ring in the Reagan-Bush I White House run by one Craig Spence, who miraculously predicted his own "suicide" several months later.

Jeff also sent me a 30-page document relating to Moon's control over Washington--I haven't read that one yet. Jeff concludes:
Strange how all things Korean converge here, The Washington Times, a Moonie paper, The Ban-Ki Moon candidacy to head the UN. he is believed to be a Moonie. The closeness of the Bush family to Moon. The NK nuclear test at just this time. Why, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I might suspect that the Foley thing breaking now is to distract attention from the realization of Moon's long held plan to take over the world.
Interesting, yes? Unfortunately, another ten minutes of Googling failed to uncover any documentation that Ban-Ki Moon is in fact a Moonie, despite his name.

I'll be checking my inbox.

Moon over Korea

With the North Korean headlines, the thought has occurred to me a couple of times in the past few days when I was far away from Blogger: "What's Moon got to do, got to do with it?" Well, Robert Parry reruns an old story of his from October, 2000, recounting some of Rev. Moon's involvment with the Hermit Kingdom.
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's business empire, which includes the right-wing Washington Times, paid millions of dollars to North Korea's communist leaders in the early 1990s when the hard-line government needed foreign currency to finance its weapons programs, according to U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency documents.

The payments included a $3 million "birthday present" to current communist leader Kim Jong Il and offshore payments amounting to "several tens of million dollars" to the previous communist dictator, Kim Il Sung, the documents said.
Parry's book Secrecy & Privilege has lots of bizarre and scary Rev. Moon stories, some of which I recounted here.

How Moon's strange ties to the Bushies may have affected past and current policies is something to consider, but probably nothing can be done about it since his coronation in the Senate Office Building two years ago.

Unfortunately, ten minutes of Googling found no connection between Rev. Moon and Mark Foley. Sorry.

Stupid media sentence of the week

From Time Magazine's Tony Karon:
Pyongyang has continually demanded direct talks with the United States, leading to some form of non-aggression treaty--it wants full recognition from Washington and a normalization of relations. But the idea of recognizing a tyrannical regime that starves its own people and violently suppresses any dissent obviously sticks in the craw of President Bush.

AWol with Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov. (To be fair, "boil" and "starve" are not the same.)

Bush gets advice on violently suppressing dissent from China's Hu.

Pooty-Poot (shown here celebrating flag day with W) has some ideas on the subject as well.

Do you see anything stuck in his craw in any of those pictures? (Smirks don't count.)

North Korea

I've been waiting for some of my favorite bloggers to explain it to me, but there's not much so far. So I'll have to go with my own reactions. First, we've suspected for three years that North Korea has nukes, so it's hardly a big surprise. Secondly, I don't see it as any great increase in danger to me or the US in general. Russia, Great Britain, Pakistan and Israel have nukes, and better means of delivering them.

But Kim Jong-Il is crazy! And Putin, Blair, Musharraf and Olmert aren't? And how about the maniac who could irradiate this country without having to launch his thousands of nukes at all--just detonate them in their silos or in their submarines in port? By far the greatest danger these North Korean nukes pose to the U.S. will be from Bush's response to them.

BTW, if you're wondering how backward North Korea was able to get the technology to join the nuclear club, you might want to ask our Secretary of War.

Spreading democracy, two-thirds of a million deaths at a time

Study: 655,000 Iraqis die because of war.
In the new study, researchers attempt to calculate how many more Iraqis have died since March 2003 than one would expect without the war. Their conclusion, based on interviews of households and not a body count, is that about 600,000 died from violence, mostly gunfire. They also found a small increase in deaths from other causes like heart disease and cancer.

"Deaths are occurring in Iraq now at a rate more than three times that from before the invasion of March 2003," Dr. Gilbert Burnham, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

Update, 10:12 AM: Juan Cole finds the study to be very plausible, with details.

From Angel Boligan (Mexico).

From John Sherffius.

Chris Floyd has a lot to say about the murder of Politkovskaya.

From Matt Davies.

Basic humor

From Mark Cohen.

I don't think I really get it--it's just funny seeing Bush kicked in the groin.

Quote du jour

"Between T.O. and North Korea, I'm surprised we're even on television." -- Detroit Tigers' pitcher Todd Jones.

For those who come here mainly for the politics, "T.O." stands for controversial Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Terrell Owens, who made headlines last week by not killing himself.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Help is on the way?

AP Headline: Bush calls for help in school shootings.

What, the shooters aren't doing enough? Is this the "No Child Left Alive" initiative?

WIIIAI reviews
aWol's babbling on the subject so I can watch the Tigers.

From Tom Toles.

The Dems certainly weren't going to do it

Monday, October 09, 2006

Why, I oughta...

Last night, the government of North Korea proclaimed to the world that it had conducted a nuclear test. We're working to confirm North Korea's claim.

Nonetheless, such a claim itself constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The United States condemns this provocative act.

Once again North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond.
The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.
-- aWol, today.

To summarize, Bush deals with North Korea exactly as his wingnut supporters accuse the Democrats of dealing with Iraqn. Keep drawing the line further and further back, but, boy, if you cross that one, boy, just look out! If you're wondering why he shows such little interest in this charter member of the Axis of EvilTM and its real, live, weaponized nuclear program, while Iraq gets full-scale shock and awe for non-existent programs and Iran is constantly threatened for its completely legal development of nuclear power, here's a reminder:

Of course, North Korea need only look to Pakistan to see that Bush doesn't really mean what he says about proliferation. If the US wants a war with you, it'll get it, no matter what. And if the US doesn't want a war with you, no amount of provocation, including the brutal killing of Americans, will get you that war.

Or, to simplify the previous paragraph: Everything Bush, Cheney, Rice etc. say has 100% correlation with their plans, 0% correlation with the truth.

From Tom Toles.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Yankees go home!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Coulda sworn Foley was a Republican

Fox News reports; you decide:

According to Joseph Cannon, this wasn't the only time, and Fox isn't the only one who has been trying to give Foley a party-change operation.

Serial chemical fire company

The chemical fire which has caused a North Carolina town to be evacuated is happening at a plant owned by EQ Industrial Services. AP:
EQ spokesman Robert Doyle said the Wayne, Mich.-based company was mobilizing its emergency response team to help with the clean up. About 25 employees work at the Apex plant, but all had left the building by 7 p.m. Thursday, he said.

"Because of the many different types of waste that we bring in, it's very difficult to determine the cause of the fire," he said.

In March, the state Department of Natural Resources had fined EQ $32,000 for six violations at the plant, including failing to "maintain and operate the facility to minimize the possibility of a sudden or non-sudden release of hazardous waste ... which could threaten human health or the environment." But Doyle cautioned that the violations might not have had anything to do with the fire.

"That could range from anything--like a spill of materials that could get in a storm drain," he said. "It could be completely unrelated to something like a fire or explosion."
What Mr. Doyle is hinting at here is that there are a lot more dangers in their facilities than what the inspectors catch. It is also indicative of his concern for safety that he apparently has no idea why the they were fined by the state. Probably fired the in-house safety guy to pay for the fine.

And dangerous chemical fires are nothing new for EQ--their Romulus, Michigan plant had a major fire in August, 2005. I wonder if the Apex residents were even aware of the Romulus fire. Of course, in today's globalized capitalist environment, states and municipalities are so desperate to get and keep employers that they'll accept almost any type of facility in their neighborhood.

Here's what EQ says it does:
Our comprehensive line of hazardous and industrial waste management, transportation, industrial cleaning, remediation, recycling and specialized, on-site services is based on continuous innovation and new applications of current technologies.
In addition to North Carolina and Michigan, EQ has facilities in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

By the way, Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly is counting on rain to help:
Weatherly said the "prognosis from the rain is an optimistic one as far as clearing the air. And then we'll wait for the [hazardous materials response] team to give us an assessment of the site itself."
I wonder how that jives with what city manager Bruce Radford is quoted as saying elsewhere in the same article:
Officials are letting the fire burn itself out to avoid toxic runoff and the threat to firefighters. "Water would flood the area with toxic chemicals," Radford said. "It just needs to burn up."
It sounds like rain will just change an air-pollution catastrophe into a water-pollution catastrophe.

In a just world, corporations like EQ would be shut down, with their stockholders getting nothing for their shares. In this world--probably another $32,000 fine, if that.

The biggest threats are already here

If you want to make sure those on the front line of protecting you have the tools necessary to do so, you vote Republican, for the safety of the United States of America.
-- aWol, Wednesday

Half of the 32,000 residents of Apex, North Carolina, have been asked to evacuate Friday after explosions and fire at a hazardous waste plant released noxious gases and flames 150 feet high over the town.

People "are putting themselves in very grave danger by being near or around this smoke. If you see smoke, get away from it." said Bruce Radford, manager of the Raleigh suburban town.

"There are pesticides, oxides, chlorine gases, there are all grades of contaminated material in this fire and in this smoke," he said.
These chemical plants and the trains and trucks transporting deadly chemicals across the country are a far greater threat to Americans than terrorists, as well as being prime targets for terrorists. But the Repugs running this country do basically nothing to stop disasters like Apex from happening.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What he said and she said

Dennis Perrin and Susie Bright point out that Foleygate, as an outrage, is incredibly minor-league compared to what the Repugs and the supposed opposition party did last week: Destroy the Constitution and extend funding for criminal wars. And anyone (which includes Mark Foley), who thinks that talking dirty with minors is more vile or disgusting than imprisoning minors for years without charges, killing minors' entire families in front of their eyes, raping and THEN murdering minors and their families, or simply blowing minors to bits with smart bombs (too many cases to link), is a sicko far beyond any Internet pervert.

From Bob Englehart.
Funny cartoon, Bob, but DC doesn't have voting representation in Congress. Denial, on the other hand, is the majority.

From R.J. Matson.

That's redundant

From Larry Wright.

From Mike Keefe.

Yeah; that'll help

Reuters headline: Rice pays surprise visit to Iraq. Nothing says "mission accomplished" quite like having to sneak in and out of the colonies. Anyone remember the last time a major US political figure made a non-surprise visit to Iraq?

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) holding hands with Saddam Hussein in 1990?

Herr Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in 1983?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

From Don Asmussen.

Nothing succeeds like failure

Almost four years ago, I wrote a little dialogue which described how George W. Bush failed his way to the top. Lloyd Dangle brings it up to date:

From Ed Stein.

Quote du jour

Billmon, in response to the Amish school shooting:
It's a horrible story, and as a father my heart goes out to the families involved, but I feel compelled to point out that if this were Baghdad, a day with only five dead children and five wounded ones would be considered the dawn of a new era of peace, and Tony Snow would be bragging about how much progress we're making in Iraq.
If it bleeds, it leads -- as long as it's American blood, that is.


From Pat Oliphant.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Meanwhile, in Bush Quagmire II

NY Times:
Eight United States soldiers were killed Monday in Baghdad, the United States military said, the most in the capital in a day since July 2005.
The violence also claimed 51 civilians across the country on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.
George Bush has two answers to John Kerry's famous 1972 question: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Bush's answer: You never have a last man, and you never ask.

Cut. Run. Now.

The verdict is in--they have no shame

That's Congresscreep Tom Reynolds (R-Scumbag) just daring reporters to ask him about the sordid details of the Foley affair (as it were) while surrounded by a bunch of children.

Bush. George Bush

Agent Double-oh nothing. License to kill.

Chris Floyd points out that the power to kill anyone, anywhere on a whim, which aWol has claimed for five years, is now enshrined in law by the recently passed torture bill.
For the measure sets forth clearly that the designation of an "enemy combatant" is left solely to the executive branch; neither Congress nor the courts have any say in the matter. When this new law is coupled with the existing "Executive Orders" authorizing "lethal force" against arbitrarily designated "enemy combatants," it becomes, quite literally, a license to kill--with the seal of Congressional approval.
You should definitely be shaken AND stirred by this.

Outside the mainstream is not debatable

From Mike Thompson.

I watched most of last night's Michigan gubernatorial debate between incumbent Democrat Jennifer Granholm and Dick DeVos (R-Scamway). Neither one said much that was particularly convincing, spending most of the time desperately spinning either his/her own record or that of the opponent. Granholm was, as usual, fairly slick, while DeVos was nervous and disconcerting. Both were dancing around the records of their own parties. DeVos blamed Granholm for the sorry state of Michigan's economy, trying to ignore the huge deficit left her by the previous Republican administration, the scant help she gets from the Repug-controlled legislature, and the huge cuts in federal aid to states pushed by the Repugs in Washington. While Granholm pointed out these oversights, she also tried to blame (correctly) NAFTA and the other so-called "free trade" agreements for Michigan's woes. While these were supported by DeVos and worked to his company's benefit, they are also largely the responsibility of Bill Clinton and the Democrats who controlled Congress in 1993. And Clinton has been campaigning for Granholm.

Most annoying was when both candidates, when discussing abortion and stem cell research, claimed that the other's position was "outside the mainstream." This is the stupidest non-argument in politics, an attempt to get voters to follow you like lemmings, rather than presenting them with substantive arguments supporting your case. Anytime you hear a politician accuse an opponent of being "outside the mainstream" on a particular subject, it means either "I have nothing intelligent to say on this topic" or "I don't want to talk about it."

A video of the debate is here.

From Pat Oliphant.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Making a distinction

Cat-killer Frist, fresh off his victory over freedom in Washington, has taken the show on the road:
QALAT, Afghanistan--U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" and their allies into the government.

The Tennessee Republican said he learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield.

"You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," Frist said during a brief visit to a U.S. and Romanian military base in the southern Taliban stronghold of Qalat. "And if that's accomplished, we'll be successful."
When you define failure as success, missions are easily accomplished. Did Dr. Video check with his partners in crime back home?
This is the challenge of our time. This is the call of a generation, to stand against the extremists and support moderate leaders across the broader Middle East, to help us all secure a future of peace.
George W. Bush, Friday. Who would have thought that when he was talking about "moderate leaders" that he meant the Taliban?
We will make no distinction between those who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
-- George W. Bush, September 11, 2001. This was the excuse for the brutal assault on Afghanistan--the Taliban was "harboring" bin Laden and al Qaeda.
The United States government is wholeheartedly committed to the full participation of women in all aspects of Afghan society, not just in Kabul, but in every province.
-- Laura Bush, speaking to a gathering of women at Kabul University, March 31, 2005. And we all know that nothing says "transparency" like a burka.

And now Dr. Video, fresh off the 100-0 Senate vote to continue funding Bush Quagmires One and Two, seems to think that returning Burkastan to the status quo ante would be a success. I can buy an argument that it's the least-worst option, compared to staying there forever (although Frist seems to favor that too), since the US presence has been an ongoing disaster for five years, doing little either to spread freedom or to prevent mayhem. But calling it a success? Maybe he needs to watch the tape again.

[Update 10:40 PM] Billmon has an actual Frist quote from three months ago:
Out of the black smoke and ashes of that terrible day, America stood up strong, united, and determined. After careful deliberation, we answered back. We toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda had trained.
Frist apparently didn't realize that the Taliban are Weebles.

Quote du jour

"The only reason I know we're doing the right thing is that we're widely criticized." -- Roger Ailes, president of Fox News.

If the only reason you've got for running a sleazy faux news channel supporting a criminal administration is that people criticize you for it, don't you think maybe you ought to stop? Sometimes, carrying on in the face of criticism is a sign of strength and perseverence. But a lot of times it's because you're just plain wrong. And if the criticism is your ONLY reason for thinking you're right, you should probably think a little harder.

I don't know who was the first slimeball to justify his actions by pointing out that people he doesn't like disapprove of them, but it's a stupid, childish ploy which is used constantly. Bush uses it all the time, quoting terrorists to validate his own actions (supposedly) against terrorists.


Learning from the masters

Joseph Margulies writes in the WaPo about "touchless torture," which our spooks learned from the North Koreans, and apparently use to this day (with more authority since Congress passed the torture bill last week):
In these uncertain times, it's worth recalling that the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of madmen is not new. Nearly 50 years before Sept. 11, 2001, the American public learned that a group of prisoners in military custody confessed to being part of an elaborate conspiracy to bomb civilian targets with bacteriological weapons.

The first prisoner to crack said the goal was "the mass annihilation of the civilian population." As often happens, his confession led to others, and before long, three dozen prisoners had coughed up page after page of chilling, meticulously detailed admissions.

But it was all a lie. Thirty-six American airmen, shot from the sky during the Korean War, falsely confessed to a vast plot to bomb civilian targets. How did this happen? With Congress having approved a "compromise" that gives the president authority to determine the meaning of the Geneva Conventions and redefines the War Crimes Act to protect CIA interrogators, we should revisit this all-but-forgotten moment in U.S. history.

During the Korean War, thousands of American POWs were forced to endure grotesque and sadistic physical torture. But the downed airmen were treated differently. The senior officer among them was Col. Frank Schwable, the highest-ranking Marine captured in the conflict. "I want to emphasize," Schwable said later, "that I did not undergo physical torture. Perhaps I would have been more fortunate if I had, because people nowadays seem to understand that better. Mine was the more subtle kind of torment."
After the war North Korean atrocities were roundly condemned by the United States, which complained to the United Nations that the Koreans had not complied with the Geneva Conventions. One institution, however, was not repelled but intrigued. The experience led the CIA to accelerate its research into the theory and science of coercive interrogation.
More, from Margulies and Chris Floyd.

From Ted Rall. That's pretty much what my health insurance was like in my previous jobs. Once I started working for the University of Michigan, I've had M-Care, which is exceptionally good health insurance. Lots of doctors available nearby, very low co-pays. Unfortunately, the University is selling M-Care to Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, so things are likely to change.

From Tony Auth.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

That was fast

Foley's Congressional web site has already been wiped:
The Washington, D.C. office and the district offices of the Honorable Mark Foley will continue to serve the people of the Sixteenth Congressional District of Florida under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Representative Foley resigned effective close of business September 29, 2006.
One obvious question: Who is the "Honorable Mark Foley?"

Quote du jour

"If I were one of these sickos, I'd be nervous with America's Most Wanted on my trail." -- Rep. Mark Foley (R-Sicko), via Josh Marshall, who has the video.


Agent Orange

Like the evil herbicide of the Vietnam war, the underage-homosexual-predator sex scandal rocking Capitol Hill may turn out to be a deFoleyant with major collateral damage.
Repug "leaders" apparently knew about the boy-toy scandal in Congress last year, but didn't do anything about it. Greg Saunders and Josh Marshall think the scandal may serve not only to rid us of the vile Foley, but of much of the Grope Our Pages (GOP) "leadership" as well. One can only hope. Still, while preying on underage Congressional pages is certainly more depraved (and criminal) than being serviced by a willing adult intern, one has to be amazed at the values displayed here. These people have supported wars which have killed hundreds of thousands, and caused many more to be wounded, tortured and raped (not mutually exclusive groups, obviously). They have wilfully shredded the Constitution they have sworn to uphold. But it is their suppressed human lust, not their proudly proclaimed hatred and bloodthirstiness, which is most likely to bring them down. And you can bet that it will be the gay thing, not the underage thing or the predator/harrassment thing, that will be their final undoing.

I wonder if Foley would agree with McGreevey that hiding in the closet is excellent training for success in American politics?