Friday, April 30, 2004

A Lot Happening 

There's been a lot happening in the news this week that I haven't been able to get to, so here's a round up. Next week I'll be more on top of things.

1. Torture and Humiliation of Iraqi soldiers: "The photos, first broadcast Wednesday on CBS's "60 Minutes II," showed hooded prisoners piled in a human pyramid and simulating sex acts, as U.S. soldiers celebrated. One photo showed a hooded prisoner standing on a box with wires attached to his hands; the prisoner was told, falsely, that he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box." The Tehran Times has got a pretty telling lead story out of it: "This is the logic and modus operandi of imperialist conquest and colonial occupation," the Tehran Times wrote. "The pictures of torture, brutality and sexual sadism are representative of the entire criminal operation being conducted in Iraq." Blogamy has some more coverage of this story from the blogosphere.

2. Ted Koppel: Ever since Disney tried to fire him to get David Letterman, Koppel has gotten pretty bad ass. He was in the tanks when we went through with the Iraqi Spectacle. He deliberately pissed everyone off at the Democratic Primary Debates. And now, Republicans are calling him biased for dedicating Friday's show for an entire hour of reading the names of Iraqi Soldiers over pictures, with no commentary. Some stations won't air this, because recognizing the war dead is somehow an act of bias (and ignoring the war dead, somehow, isn't.) One group of stations, including Springfield, Mass, won't air it because they are all owned by the same guy. Who says media consolidation is bad? That's right, pro-war Republicans. "Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."

3. Bush Plays the Race Card Again: With Canada's Prime Minister: "There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern." Who the fuck is he talking about? He did the same thing at the prime time press conference. But why?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Something 'Bout The Way Dick Cheney Moves 

I just find the following exchange at a Bush Press Conference to be a little interesting:

QUESTION: Mr. President, as you know, a lot of critics suggested that you wanted to appear jointly with the vice president so that you two could keep your stories straight or something. Could you tell us what you think of the value of appearing together and how you would answer those critics?

BUSH: First of all, look, if we had something to hide, we wouldn't have met with them in the first place. We answered all their questions. As I say, I came away good about the session, because I wanted them to know, you know, how I set strategy, how we run the White House, how we deal with threats. The vice president answered a lot of their questions-- answered all their questions. And I think it was important for them to see our body language as well, how we work together.

Seriously, though, why does the 9/11 commission need to know about the Hydra-like Buscheney Monster's Body Language? It seems like something that wouldn't get mentioned unless the Buscheney was focusing on it beforehand. It could just be the Bush head's usual bumbling verbal idiocy and addiction to non-answers, but it might signal that Bush was worried about his body language, enough to be "relieved" afterward (and therefore, disclose it).

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Nevermind that Slow News Day 

Violence in Iraq. Looks really, really bad. As always, I defer the analysis to Juan Cole.

Those Wacky Autocrats! 

Greed, Abuses of Power and Human Rights? Find it in the "wacky news" section of Reuters:

ASHGABAT (Reuters) - Turkmenistan's autocratic president opened a gleaming new leisure center Monday, equipped with a swimming pool, air conditioning and even medical facilities -- all of it for horses. President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov showed foreign diplomats around the vast $15 million complex which includes an operating theater, a hippodrome and stables kept cool from the desert heat.

The new equine center, shown on state television, proved something of a contrast to conditions for many people in the gas-rich yet impoverished Central Asian state. Niyazov, officially known as Turkmenbashi or Father of the Turkmen, last week fired several ministers for failing to bridge huge salary arrears, which average little more than the official minimum wage of $70 a month and are regularly paid late.

Earlier this year he fired 15,000 nurses and medical staff -- likely to be replaced by conscripted soldiers -- in an unexpected shock reform of the national health system. But the horse complex, named Turkmenbashi after him, is equipped with modern X-ray and ultrasonic scanning machines in its state of the art equine operating theater.

Totally Radical Cheerleaders 

Today's a slow news day and I am giddy, so here's The Radical Cheerleaders:

dubya dubya dubya DOT
who the fuck do you think you are?
you've taken this game a little too far
seized control like a theif in the night
BUSH, it's YOU we'll fight fight fight!!
dubya dubya dubya DOT
won't stand no patriarchal sleaze
my body my choice i'll do as i please
bush you better run, you better run fast
cause the cheerleaders are comin

Adventure Tubs 

Indirectly via Mr. Pants comes this "Venture-Go-Round" Kiddie Ride. The name of the ride is "Adventure Tubs", but I can't help but notice how Patriotic the Adventure Tub is, and why, somehow, there is no mention of this in the name of the ride. "The Mouse", "The Worm"- these are straightforward, where you drive in a little mouse or worm, around a big chunk of cheese, or an apple. In this ride, you just kind of ride in giant ashtrays around a tower sporting American Flags.

I don't know, I don't think I'd like that ride.

New Iraq Flag "Looks Jewish", Roundly Despised 

Sorry, fellas, that's not a joke. The new Iraq flag was designed by an Iraqi at the request of the Iraqi Governing Council. It looks like this:

Personally, I like it, but then, I don't hate the Jews.

"When I saw it in the newspaper, I felt very sad," said Muthana Khalil, 50, a supermarket owner in Saadoun, a commercial area in central Baghdad. "The flags of other Arab countries are red and green and black. Why did they put in these colors that are the same as Israel? Why was the public opinion not consulted?" -WaPo

But rejection of the flag might not be entirely based on it looking Jewish. The article gives way pretty quickly from the "Jewish Looking Flag" argument to this, which I assume is the real story: "In commenting on the new flag, some Baghdad residents quickly shifted to criticism of the council, saying it had no independent authority -- even to introduce a national emblem -- and was too deferential to American wishes." Well, just wait till they see the second draft, designed by Chalabi himself:

(Yeah, that one is a joke- I'm trying to be the Dave Barry of Iraqi-centric Political Satire).

University Lecture 

I'll be doing a Public Lecture about internet art (and will probably slip some blog-theory in there) on Wednesday and Thursday at the University of Maine at Orono, if anyone is in the area and wants to stop by (I'm Eryk Salvaggio, by the way). Also on the bill will be world famous and browser-crashing net.artists,

Monday, April 26, 2004

Pick A Number 

Take a stab at it: How long would the sentence be if a terrorist was found in this country with "several hundred rounds of ammunition, components for pipe bombs, shotguns, more than 700 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, a cannon fuse and a recipe for dynamite", a list of federal officials, political and public figures with the word "marked," next to the names, and "a note that reads: "I will die for my cause, for it is just. I won't put my hands up and surrender -- I will not rest till I purge these United States from the treasonist (sic) parasites." Now keep in mind that he was only targeting liberals.

Is your answer "20 years"? Yeah, me neither.

The Flowers of Negev 

Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli Scientist who wrote an editorial in London's Sunday Times that revealed Israel's development of Nuclear Weapons in 1983, was freed today after 18 years in an Israeli prison. His first statement- in English, as he now refuses to speak Hebrew- was to call, again, for inspections of the Dimona Nuclear plant in Israel. Supposedly, it is used to power desalinization for the Negev desert's water supply.

"The time has come to end this silence and secret cooperation by the West, the United States, Canada and all Europe helping Israel and co-operating with Israel's secrets. Israel doesn't need nuclear arms, especially now that all the Middle East is free from nuclear arms. My message today, to all the world, is open the Dimona reactor for inspections."

You might not be aware, but Israel has a policy of "nuclear ambiguity" in which it will neither confirm nor deny if it has nuclear weapons. The idea gets the thumbs up from most European-derived allies, which allows Israel to stay independent of nuclear treaties but also maintain the image of being a nuclear power- which is used to intimidate countries, as numerous as they are, that want Israel destroyed. Vanunu made the claim- which, as far as I can tell, has never been confirmed or denied- that Israel had enough material to make 20 Hydrogen Bombs and 200 Fission Bombs.

At Vanunu's Parole hearing in 2003, he was denied an early release: "The prosecutor said that if Vanunu were released, the Americans would probably leave Iraq and go after Israel and Israel's nuclear weapons..." Yeah, think about that one for a minute.

A commentator in the Israeli Newspaper Ha'aretz writes, in a chorus of anti-Mordechai editorials that seem to be coming out in Israel today, that he's failed. If his mission was to raise international awareness about Israel's Nukes, well, "As he walks out of Shikma prison today, Israel's nuclear programme enjoys an unprecedented level of international legitimacy, leaders in the West openly justify Israel's nuclear programme as an insurance policy taken out by a small, vulnerable country whose hostile neighbours constantly threaten to destroy it." So you know, they're bragging.

But it isn't just about the nuclear weapons. This ambiguity also keeps the entire accountability thing out of the hands of Israeli Citizens, who ostensibly live in a Democracy. "Nothing illustrates this better than the sensitive issue of Dimona's cancer victims. In an Israeli documentary in 2002, Dimona workers said accidents had been routine. They spoke of explosions, fires and liquid and toxic gas leaks that they had to clean, often without protection. The authorities denied they had worked with radioactive materials. They have refused to compensate them or their families for their years of loyal service. Because of the strict secrecy rules they were even unable to fight for their rights."

Nothing goes over very well when anyone criticizes Israel, but as a matter of Democracy, this is appalling. If Israel has nuclear weapons, that's fine, I mean, for as much as I can think nuclear weapons are "fine". I don't understand why we should let them operate outside of the system of nuclear treaties. I don't know why America and Europe has to sissy pants around the issue and pretend we don't know Israel has Nukes. They're a Democracy, for christ's sakes, let them come out of the shadows and be accountable to their own goddamned people and to the world at large.

Think Inside the Box 

CNN reports that three Italian civilians have been taken hostage in Iraq. Their captors are demanding one thing: Mass Protests to be organized in Italy.

It reminds me, in no small way, of Robert DeNiro's character in "The King of Comedy", Rupert Pupkin, a failed stand up comic who kidnaps a late night talk show host, and won't release him until the show's producers make Pupkin the guest host of the show for the evening. In the film, the scenario plays out as a mixture of horror and farce, about the extent that media has damaged people's sense of identity. In the end, everyone in the (unaware) audience laughs at Pupkin not because he's funny, but because he has to be funny if he's on TV. Which is precisely the power that Pupkin wanted.

We're no longer just fighting a war in front of a live television audience, we're literally fighting it inside the television. Italians have already organized authentic protests against this war, some of the largest numbers in history were in Italian Protests. What is outrageous is the notion of terrorists blackmailing an entire nation into going through the motions of protesting a war they are already against in massive numbers, just so that several hostage taking guerrillas can place an image in the cap of the American Resistance.

It's like watching how a five year old changes when he knows the video camera is looking at him. In that same way, terrorists are now "pretending" to be Religious Freedom Fighters in a war that America is "pretending" to wage for Democratic Liberation. We're looking at a war that is being fought exclusively for the benefit of television, where even the authenticity of protest is being manipulated for the sake of obtaining power through the staged image of protest. What we are looking at is not a war of ideas or cultures or Democracy vs Theocratic Fundamentalism. It's a ratings battle.

Rashomon and the Media War 

The New York Times has a story on the aggregating impossibility of western media to report the truth in Iraq, based almost exclusively on the fear reporters have of the place as well as the constantly varied reports from any given incident, depending on the interest of the witness.

The reality, though, is that the only thing we can treat as reality is the Al Jazeera version. Not because it "isn't biased" (I assume it is), and not because it isn't or is "true", but precisely because the truth doesn't matter anymore. You can't report the "truth" in Iraq, as the above article suggests, because the events of reality are so removed from the events that get reported. But Al Jazeera is the reality that Iraqi's are seeing and treating as their own. The American Propa-journalism Project won't matter much unless it starts looking at what Iraqi's see as the "truth" and start there. We're an occupying force- if we can't control the media space, we'd damn well better be in the same version of reality as the people we're occupying. Otherwise, we are talking about two completely different countries- if we are telling different stories, we are walking on different soil.

The damage has been exponential and it will continue to be. When we lost the story of the Liberation to the story of the Occupation, we lost the war- you can't regain that territory in the media. The problem was that Bush never actually had the story of the "Liberation" on his side. That is why the UN was vital then and is vital now. It is also why a new President would make a difference: it would create a momentary gap in the "story" where the direction could change.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Meet The Press 

You know how the President usually sends out small dogs to defend his name? For example, you'll see Cheney, or Rumsfeld, or Powell, or Condi, go on the Sunday talk shows or Larry King or whatever to take the hit for Bush and spin things in his favor.

Has anyone noticed- and found it really weird- that Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan is now taking on the role of Bush defense man?

I like that Russert, today, had Bandar on to defend Bush for the first half of the interview, and the second half was Russert asking Bandar about all the anti-Semitic, pro-Islamic Militant stuff he's in favor of. Works out great. For example:


MR. RUSSERT: But, Prince, here's the question. This is a photograph of you with the president down at his Crawford ranch. He brought his family. Alison Walsh of The New Yorker wrote you are almost a member of the Bush family. That was her interpretation after doing an enormous amount of research.

No More Than Five Minutes Later:

MR. RUSSERT: Prince, the former general consul to the Department of Treasury, David Aufhauser...


MR. RUSSERT: ...a professional, a lawyer, testifying under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Question: "With regard to the trail of money ... and whether it leads in some cases to Saudi Arabia?" Aufhauser: "In many cases it is the epicenter." Question: "And does that trail of money also show money going to al Qaeda?" Aufhauser: "Yes." "Is the money from Saudi Arabia a significant source of funding for terrorism generally?" Aufhauser: "Yes. Principally al Qaeda but many other recipients as well."

This was the scene in April 2002, when your king [had] a state-sponsored telethon--and look at these pictures--raised over $92 million and the money was "for Palestinian martyrs"...


MR. RUSSERT: ...suicide bombers who blew up Israeli children, school buses, restaurants. Here's the Treasury Department of the United States saying that Saudi money is funding al-Qaeda. You're having telethons raising money for Palestine suicide bombers, and you sit here and say, "How could people say these terrible things about us?"

PRINCE BANDAR: Yes, I say that very easily because nothing stands still. If you are saying before 9/11 we didn't have our thing together, yes, but nor did you. Look what 9/11 is showing. However, since...

MR. RUSSERT: This was April of 2003.


For whatever reason, people still plan to vote for George W Bush.

NRO Sunday 

The National Review Online is covering the Woman's March on Washington today. You know it has to be fucking great.

After saying that women are worried that Bush will take their credit cards away, comes this gem: "World Trade Center? Huh? The war is Bush vs. women. I don't know what I've been thinking since 9/11/01." Yes, yes, you read it right: They just evoked 9/11 in an attempt to undermine women's rights. And if you call them on it, you know for a fact they will feign that they were sincere.

The NRO is the real voice of Right Wing America, people. They aren't, like, satirists.

Friday, April 23, 2004

The Teddy Bear Parable 

The idea was simple and well intentioned: Senior Airman Dennis Fry found that the military had unused military uniforms that no one knew what to do with. He had an idea: make them into tiny jackets, put them onto Teddy Bears, and send them to children in Iraqi Hospitals and in areas receiving charitable aid.

The problem, is that children in Iraq who are traumatized by the war associate American Troops with the trauma they've experienced. In short, giving Iraqi children a teddy bear wearing American Military Fatigues is a trigger for traumatic experiences with the occupation.

A therapist in the story is quoted as saying: "It's as if they live in a bubble and are quite separate from the consequences of their presence in Iraq. They may be well meaning but they don't seem to understand what the victims of a war zone require..."

So it goes, with Teddy Bears and Democracy: it's never as simple as your best intentions might be. One nation's gift is another nation's trauma, one nation's plaything is another nation's fear, and one nation's act of kindness comes only with another nation's blood. It might be soothing to think that this war was declared by an imbecile with a vendetta, but the odds are that it's something much more sinister: the war is the end result of a misguided idea of kindness, ignorance combined with the notion that we are a benevolent force in the world and that our deliberate intervention into another nation's suffering could only bring good. The best intentioned supporters of this war- the people caught in between Fox News and CNN- were the ones misguided into thinking that American Occupation was an act of American kindness. George Bush is dropping exploding hearts on people, and Americans are wondering why there's so much blood.

They may be well meaning, but they don't seem to understand what the victims of a war zone require.

Pat Tillman 

The story of Pat Tillman, the NFL star who was killed Thursday in Afghanistan, has two levels: the human side, which is a tragedy, as well as a social side: a guy who gives up a $3.6 Million life to die in Afghanistan is a more important story than any other individual soldier that has given up their life in Iraq or Afghanistan. How do we decide which stories matter, when we're looking at 700 dead? There are 700 Pat Tillmans in Iraq, and over 100 in Afghanistan. Countless more have been injured in ways that will radically change their lives.

Is the sacrifice of a millionaire somehow greater than the sacrifice of any other soldier, who leave, with their death, the same wake: family, girlfriends, boyfriends, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, children- dreams and ideas of all shades and stripes and levels of success and potential. They do not, however, leave behind $3.6 Million, and so, it seems, the media can give them a polite applause, shake their heads grimly and without analysis. When the poor are slaughtered, it is simply the status quo. When the rich get killed, it is page one. Pat Tillman gets media attention- which, I'll say with tremendous respect, he never seemed to want- and the deaths of the individual 700 soldiers in Iraq gets buried on the fifth pages of newspapers.

Pat Tillman could earn $3.6 Million a year to play football. As a soldier, he earned $18,000 a year to go through hell with a machine gun. Tell me again that America does not have fucked up priorities.

Age Discrimination? Very Compassionate

Under a new proposal, if you're collecting health insurance from your employer, they can change your coverage, or terminate it all together, as soon as you turn 65. The idea is that this will encourage corporations to give better health benefits for those under retirement age, but at the same time throws anyone relying on a part time retirement job to get extra benefits beyond medicare under a bus. You'd think medicare would cover hit-by-bus related injuries, but it might not:

Employer-sponsored health plans help retirees pay medical expenses not covered by Medicare. Those expenses could include co-payments and deductibles, the catastrophic costs of severe illness and the cost of preventive care and prescription drugs, beyond what Medicare might pay.

Oh and don't worry, even though it is a policy that discriminates by age, it's not technically age based discrimination:

The rule creates an explicit exemption to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. In practice, it allows employers to reduce health benefits for retirees when they become eligible for Medicare at the age of 65.

Who brought you this innovation? Those compassionate Republicans.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Red and Blue States of Mind 

The New York Times reports on MRI research into the brain patterns of Republicans and Democrats. While we all knew that Republicans get erections from watching 9/11 footage (just my personal theory), it does show some interesting things about how we process political information.

For one, Democrats "reacted to the Sept. 11 images with noticeably more activity in the amygdala than did the Republicans, said the lead researcher, Marco Iacoboni." I don't really understand Iacoboni's conclusion that the amygdala activity is linked to seeing it as a political ploy from George W Bush. I think they see 9/11 as an emotional event, linked to a fight or flight response which is directly linked to the amygdala. (The amygdala is our emotional control mechanism). The experiment is still under way, and they've found that Democrats react from the Amygdala when they see the "Daisy" ad from Johnson, which used footage of an A-bomb explosion. The final-esque conclusion seems to be simple: Democrats respond to violence with disgust.

They don't quite get into what happens to Republicans when they see violence, but I can tell you that the response of Republicans is almost always bordering on fetishism: When there is violence, they will pursue more violence and more control and more domination until the sky turns to hellfire or they get voted out of office. What part of the brain this is linked to, as far as I would predict, is also the Amygdala. So I don't know what the big deal is.

In the end, we can all be grateful for one thing: Science is paving the way for more manipulative campaign tactics and certainly less rational discourse from both sides of the fence. And here, you thought it couldn't get much worse...

Contractors Fired 

Tami Silicio took the photograph of Flag Draped Coffins being loaded into an airplane that you may have seen a while ago. Well, predictably, she was fired. Not so predictably, so was her husband.

Thanks to Dawn @ corrente for the heads up. You can also see the photo there, if you haven't.

Summer Job 

If anyone is looking for a summer job that will help flesh out a political resume, here is a website that is paying people to organize anti-Bush canvassing and fundraising at the local level. Worth checking out, I think. If anyone here signs up, let me know what it's like.

Good News For Terrorists 

Looks like Bush is getting ready to hand you another state:

"The Iranians need to feel the pressure from the world that any nuclear weapons program will be uniformly condemned -- it's essential that they hear that message," he said. "The development of a nuclear weapon in Iran is intolerable, and a program is intolerable. . . . Otherwise, they will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations." -WaPo

Of course, when Bush says "starting with the United Nations", I have a funny feeling he means the inspection process that is already underway, which will be followed up by a mid-2006 unilateral invasion of Iran.

Homosexuals Not Legally Entitled To Medical Treatment 

Atrios also brings us this tidbit:

Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House. The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

It goes on:

Three other three bills that could affect LGBT health care were also passed by the House Wednesday which would exempt a health insurer or health facility from providing or covering a health care procedure that violated ethical, moral or religious principles reflected in their bylaws or mission statement.

The Artful Dodger 

Atrios points us to this article in Editor and Publisher Magazine that shows how Bush gets some questions in advance at press conferences (as well as seems to brag about dodging questions). The thing is, as Froomkin points out, the people at this conference weren't reporters, they were editors and publishers, and it was a speech, not a press conference. In this regard, the Spectacle in Chief was answering questions more or less as a gimmick than in an actual journalistic fashion. Imagine if he spoke at a school and asked for questions in advance, no one would panic then. Whenever Bush speaks to civilians who don't have journalistic responsibilities, it is more than fair (albeit unfortunate) to pick softballs.

Also, keep in mind that Bush hates the media, and if he can foster a conspiracy theory about getting questions in advance, or anything that undermines the authority of the media with the public- left or right- he will do it, and he will do it deliberately in the half-joke, half-serious way he has been doing it. "I wish you submitted that question in advance in writing so I could have a better answer for you, haha" is exactly how Bush would plant that seed. If the media is tough on Bush, you'll see Bush try as often as possible to circumvent it, which he also did by going exclusively to local news outlets recently. But personally, I think it is time to stop letting Bush get away with this shit:

Asked about an editorial in today's Washington Post noting that Sen. John Kerry now called for a stable Iraq but not necessarily a full democracy, Bush repeated his own view that democracy in that country "is necessary and it will change the world." He later added: "We're not gonna cut and run as long as I am in the Oval Office."

There is not a single major candidate running for office that is calling for the immediate and complete withdrawal from Iraq. Not even Ralph Nader is arguing that point, he's calling for a UN take over. So yes, he's dodging the question, but he's also fostering an image of John Kerry and Democrats in general that is downright incorrect. And our precious liberal media isn't asking him to explain himself.

Bloggin The Stans 

Redesign. Comments feature coming soon, feel free to post here to comment on what you see over there, of particular interest to me is this.

That Hearts and Minds Thing, Part Two 

Turns out that maybe the Boudreaux photo is a fake. I wonder, though, if the photo is a fake, why the military is still investigating the crime and refusing to call it a fraud when it's a major, first-class mediaplosion issue in the waiting. Also, the military already closed one investigation and is just re-opening it now to determine the photo's authenticity.

So, maybe it is a hoax, but maybe it isn't. I'll wait for the military investigation to tell me and yes, I assume they'll be honest about this one, for whatever reason. For the record, I don't think the guy actually killed the kids dad and knocked up his sister, I just think he saw two kids who couldn't read English and decided it would be funny to have them hold a sign up. I guess, you know, don't underestimate the fact that some guys are assholes, and joining the military doesn't change that. I'll let you know as soon as I see an answer from the military investigation into the picture.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

That "Hearts and Minds" Thing 

This photo was taken by Lance Cpl. Ted J. Boudreaux (pictured) in Iraq. The sign, if you can't read it, says, "Lcpl. Boudreaux killed my dad then he knocked up my sister!" It would seem that the children didn't understand the words on the sign. But it also seems like maybe neither did Ted J. Boudreaux.

...there has been an acute rise in "honor killings" and domestic violence, once suppressed during the past regime, since the U.S. occupied Iraq last April. A woman becomes the victim of an "honor killing" when her family feels she has damaged their reputation by having sex with a man, or even just by going out with him. This dishonor "entitles" a male member of her family to "justifiably" murder her. - Action LA

Virgin Mobile Commercial 

A woman asks a priest, "Father, can corporations go to heaven?"
The priest says, "If they have a conscious, if they have a soul, well, I don't see any reason why a corporation can't go to heaven."

Of course: Corporations have the same legal rights as people, why shouldn't they have the same spiritual life?

Some Irrelevant Eye Candy 

From the Emerging Democratic Majority Blog:

Here are other RV Kerry-Bush results for April:

Newsweek, April 8-9....................Kerry, 50-43
ARG, April 6-9.............................Kerry, 50-44
Gallup, April 5-8..........................Kerry, 48-45
Fox, April 6-7..............................Kerry, 44-43
CBS News, March 30-April 1.........Kerry, 48-43

Too early to matter, of course (with Kerry, poll numbers won't matter until a week before the election) but nice to see anyway.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Wilgoren Watch 

Since The Wilgoren Watch is out of commission, I'm taking it upon myself to take over the critique of this fine journalist.

What's In A Name? in which Ms. Wilgoren points out the various times that John Kerry has tripped on his tongue while making speeches. Haha, what a buffoon he is! I will be expecting a similar report on Bush's wacky slips soon from Ms Wilgoren, or the New York Times in general, in the rare event that Bush screws something up.

But guess what! John Kerry isn't the only Democrat who makes verbal slips of the tongue. So does Bob Kerrey, who, at the 9/11 commission interrogation of Condi Rice, where they were discussing Richard Clarke's book, he made the mistake of calling Rice by Clarke's name. And Wilgoren was on it, with a lead paragraph describing the wacky verbal gaffe. Haha, that guy doesn't even know who he is talking to! That's New York Times quality news, right, Jodi? That old-fogey, pretentious "issue journalism" tack is so 1976.

From Saudi Arabia, with Love 

A little more than a month ago, Dick Cheney, passionate populist, declared, "American voters are the ones charged with determining the outcome of this election, not unnamed foreign leaders." Well, that's out the window.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, promised President Bush the Saudis would cut oil prices before November to ensure that the U.S. economy is strong on Election Day, journalist Bob Woodward said yesterday. -All Over The News, Really

Today's Oil Price: $1.84. Woodward says: "They're high. And they could go down very quickly. That's the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer or as we get closer to the election they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly."

Let's watch and see how much money Mr. Bush is worth to the Oil Elites of Saudi Arabia. And, just for fun, let's go back to Dick Cheney for a minute, this time, as Kerry wouldn't say which foreign leaders he spoke to that wanted Bush out:

"Senator Kerry said that's none of your business. But it is our business when a candidate for president claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders. At the very least, we have a right to know what he is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive of his candidacy," the vice president said.

Well said, Mr. Cheney!

The Accidental Fascist 

I knew what Fascism was, did you?

"... a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

Is the Government Fascist? No. Is Bush a Fascist? Yes. Or, rather, Fascist-esque.

The Bush power grab, non-elected status, and the control over information exerted by Bush to garner "support" (or minimize opposition until moderates and hawks ruled the discourse) for the war, and in the time since, the cover up and tactics of defending power have been over the top for traditional modern politics. Couple that with the themes of Victimhood and Humiliation that came from 9/11, and Bush's exploitation of that, and you have all the bits and pieces that fit into a description of a "Fascist" government. If you go by my thinking- that this, in fact, is all coincidence- Bush didn't orchestrate the Florida election, Bush didn't allow or deliberately "let" 9/11 happen, he just bungled the ball. So while the themes are all moving towards Fascism, it lacks intent. What we have, then, is an accidental Fascist. Now, let's add one more piece of the puzzle, to Bush himself:

But one of his most important points is that fascism is less a plan for governing -- the Nazis and Italian Fascists were perfectly willing to eject parts of their stated programs if they interfered with forming fortuitous alliances with the rich and powerful -- than it is a strategy for seizing power. To do that you have to collect lots of enthusiastic followers. The first modern campaigners, fascists realized that for the less educated and attentive classes, politics was a matter of feeling not ideas. So, as Paxton writes, "Fascism was an affair of the gut more than the brain."

Patriot's Day 

"Mr. Powell's memoir also recalls an exchange in the early 1990's, in which Mr. Powell accused Mr. Cheney -- jokingly, he insisted -- of being surrounded by "right-wing nuts like you." In the last year, the Woodward book says, Mr. Powell referred privately to the civilian conservatives in the Pentagon loyal to Mr. Cheney as the Gestapo." - NYTimes

Interesting article on the fallout between Cheney and Colin Powell. Unfortunately for Mr. Powell, he's already disgraced himself and his credibility to the point where nothing can redeem him short of publically announcing his interest in Kerry's VP slot and calling Bush a Fascist.

Sister Blog 

Bloggin' the 'Stans is a new, god-awful looking sister blog to this one, covering the Central Asian countries ending with "Stan". Pakistan, Afghanistan, yeah, but can you name the rest of the band? I still can't, so who better to write a blog about the area? The idea is that I can educate myself and any readers interested by doing the research publicly. I don't know if it will last a long time, or if it will be over with as soon as I can name all of the Stans without looking. But either way, it should be educational. As I wrote over there, it's kind of a detective story: Here's a whole part of the world you never hear about and it's linked to oil, terrorism, sketchy American diplomacy, Heroin Crops, Nuclear Weapons distribution and the constant lingering threat of Nuclear War between Pakistan and India, not to mention religious fundamentalism, vast human rights abuses and Anti-American Hatred born out of desperation from the seething class of oil casulaties.

For the record, here's the Stans: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan- countries so obscure that Blogger's spell check feature doesn't even recognize them. What could be more fun than watching me figure out what the hell is going on over there? Because the mainstream Cool Media sure as hell isn't even trying.

The People Hate Our Governments For Loving Their Governments 

Remember the whole flap that came out when US Ambassador Joe Wilson came out to say that Saddam's people weren't seeking Yellowcake Uranium from Nigeria? Remember how that was a central selling point in the State of the Union Address that Bush gave to justify the war? Well guess who actually did make trips to Nigeria?

Our good buddy Pakistan! AQ Kahn, founder of the Pakistani bomb, sold Nuke secrets to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. When all this came out, the good Prez of Pakistan, Perez Musharraff, gave him a stern warning of his disappointment by pardoning him of all his crimes, and then feigning ignorance that he knew it ever even happened at all. I'm not calling for a war against Pakistan, but maybe a second look at "ally" status in the "war on terror" is due. I know, I know, we need to pretend they're our friends so we can have easy military access to both China and Afghanistan, but Jesus, we can't do any better than that?

Sunday, April 18, 2004

A Little Matter of The Constitution, Invisible Pipelines, and Our Good Friend, Oil 

On "60 Minutes" today, Bob Woodward talks about his book- a collection of interviews with the President and various high-ranking Vulcans who made the decision to go after Iraq.

The most telling bit was about the "blank check" that (ready?) Bush gave Rumsfeld to give to Gen. Tommy Franks to prepare for war in Iraq- secretly. It ended up siphoning 700 Million dollars from funds congress allocated to Afghanistan, without any congressional knowledge or approval. Which is against the increasingly flexible separation of powers as dictated by the Constitution.

"Rumsfeld and Franks work out a deal essentially where Franks can spend any money he needs. And so he starts building runways and pipelines and doing all the preparations in Kuwait, specifically to make war possible," says Woodward. [...] "...Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this."

The interesting thing- a very, very interesting thing- is this news item in a "Popular Mechanics" Magazine a while back. It's a very small, paragraph long article with a satellite photo showing what appeared to be an oil pipeline through Kuwait to Iraq's border.

Civilian oil industry experts tell POPULAR MECHANICS that the location of the lights, which extend to the Iraqi border, does not correspond with known pipelines. A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which had a presence in the region from fall 2002 through (at the time of this writing) fall 2003, said it was unaware of any pipeline construction.

The question is, if there is a secret pipeline being used to funnel oil out of Iraq to pay for the war, then what, pray tell, is the $87 Billion dollars going to? This is veering into tin foil hat territory, I'll admit- wars, lies, secret oil pipeline projects- but I think it is a very fair and important question, meaning, of course, that no one is going to ask it.

[Here's another reference to the pipeline article.]

Frente Popular 

Spain has announced that it will withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible. It's sure to trigger a response that "The terrorists won", a catchphrase I assume'll be trotted out whenever "Operation: Enduring Hegemony" loses a foreign ally. Of course, when 72% of a nation's citizens don't want to be in a war to begin with, I would be tempted to call the ultimate withdrawal a victory for Democracy.

Maybe the hawks forgot there was a difference.


Buck Hill points me to this stunning piece of journalism in the Washington Post. I've read "bizarre" news articles before, but that was content, not context. This thing, in context- A "fashion story" about Janet Reno's Testimony for the 9/11 hearings- is downright surreal:

Her suit was the color of mud -- the sort of soft muck formed by rainwater and ashy city soil that has been leached of all its nutrients. It is a shade of non-black that on television and in photographs flatters no one except perhaps the rare green-eyed redhead with alabaster skin. Reno didn't choose navy or even taupe. Those colors might have suggested strength or tranquillity or some other mood that might be advantageous to project to her inquisitors. Reno chose mud.

Her jacket hung loosely and the skirt was long -- reaching to the mid-calf as always -- and without any fetching details. Her lapels were two uninterrupted plains, free of American flags or any other conspicuous announcements of patriotism. Notice the neckline of the jacket -- open, unadorned, practically crying out for a scarf, a strand of pearls, some tasteful Redbook kind of accessory. Albright would have tucked something in there, just to finish off the ensemble and give it a little polish. Not Reno. All of that nothingness speaks of refusal. She will not pretty things up with a few beads.

On her jacket, there were no seams to emphasize her waistline or bosom. There was nothing to remind the viewer that there was a body -- a person -- hidden underneath that gold-buttoned cloaking device. Instead, one focused only on Reno's face. Hers was like a disembodied head, its mouth answering questions, its eyes daring all comers to deliver their best shot.

Oh, Fashionistas, is nothing sacred no more?

Saturday, April 17, 2004

They Make Ads 

I don't (and won't) usually do this, but here's an ad from the DNC which consists of Bush's answer to the "do you make any mistakes?" question. If you didn't see it on TV, it is worth looking at, because the print accounts can't compensate for the pauses.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Get Your War On 


Punk and Conservative Politics: A Pretty Vacant Lot 

Hilarious article from "Intellectual Conservative" Magazine about Punk Rock's debt to Noam Chomsky. I particularly love how he alludes to punk rock polluting young minds in "concert halls."

Also funny, aside from the article's claim that Chomsky believes America is the "Great Satan" (That would be Ayotollah Kheomeni, who is not exactly a Chomskyite) is this wacky tidbit pulled out of someone's ass: "In 2001, there were more chat room references to this man than to Vice President Dick Cheney". (I'm not saying it isn't true, I'm saying, how the hell would anyone know that?)

The main message is that, to please the Right, you must constantly be stuck on the idea that "terrorism is bad". The Right seems to be worried that people will forget that terrorism is bad if Chomsky doesn't say that and that exclusively. Fire, too, is bad, but to constantly scream about how bad fire is doesn't stop the house from burning down.

Are you sick of punk bands that only endorse radical left politics? Are you a conservative who wants to "keep your punk ideals alive"? Well good news: Conservative Punk magazine, proudly sponsored by staunch individualist Rush Limbaugh in partnership with Matt Drudge and

Here's an excerpt from that proves how totally against the system they are, dude- and completely not parroting, we promise!

Let us say one wants to become a civil servant, a cop or fireman etc... There still is a wait to be called to test then perhaps a wait to be called. Next there is school as well. Once hired in order to climb the ladder of success, applying oneself is necessary or one can just do the 20 years to receive the pension. Again, patience or a lag-time is necessary to succeed. Let's also examine saving money, even with compound interest it still takes time to accumulate wealth. For those familiar with compound interest you that you are greatly rewarded for patience, personal responsibility and accountability. No one just puts money in accounts for you unless you take action in that direction. With all of these scenarios, there must also be the recognition that although it may take years and sometimes decades to build, they all can crumble in an instant. The rebuilding process can and usually does take quite some time. This concept of patience and common sense can also protect us as well.

Nothing is more fuck-you than long term investment strategies!

In case you've come here through a google search, let me just say this: The "Radical Left" agenda of the "Punk" movement isn't a marching army of dittoheads. The fact of the matter is, Punk is anti-authoritarian not because "the system must be destroyed at all costs" but because social control or authoritative control over others is detrimental to human freedom, period. Of course, we have to have some in any given society, and no current political party actually reflects this ideal. But if you're making the leap into electoral politics, then the difference is in what you lean towards.

Republicans will play the "libertarian" card, but true "anarchy" is a libertarian socialist state, not the anarcho-capitalist republican system. Republican "Liberty" is the liberty to create and amass your own power over others- which is more in line with Fascism. The Liberty of the true left is the absence of power and the widespread distribution of sustenance and survival so that people can pursue a life more meaningful than struggling for food and shelter. For the Right, people can be "free" to grovel for power and to desire power over others (Social Darwinism is the hallmark of Anarcho-Capitalism). The left says people can be free to pursue a life outside of mindless consumption and arbitrary power assignments calculated randomly by the circumstances of your birth. Leftist libertarianism is the ability to "make something of yourself" outside of some imaginary measuring stick of "spending power." ("Your future dream is a shopping scheme".)

By the way, it doesn't really matter, anyway, since Punk has become completely irrelevant. Hip Hop still has a chance, but even the underground is not long in the tooth for total homogenization.

Dude, Where's My Gleipnir? 

The AP is reporting that Bushy-Wushy-Tushy asked Rummy-Tum-Tummy-Bum to draw up war plans against Iraq while we were about half way through with the war in Afghanistan. But best of all, he also told Rummy-Tum-Tummy-Bum to keep it like a nasty, nasty secret.

"Bush feared that if news got out about the Iraq plan as U.S. forces were fighting another conflict, people would think he was too eager for war, journalist Bob Woodward writes in "Plan of Attack," a behind-the-scenes account of the 16 months leading to the Iraq invasion.

Everyone totally fell for that one, eh? The White House has owned up to all this, by the way, which marks about the third time in the administration's history that they've admitted a mistake. Yesterday, they corrected Bush's Turkey Farm Mustard Gas numbers, and today they've admitted this, and then today Rumsfeld admitted that he never expected this many casualties in the war in Iraq:

"I certainly would not have estimated that we would have had the number of individuals lost that we have had lost in the last week."

Of course, it was only "the activist left" that predicted a massive guerilla style inner city street fighting campaign. Why is it that the anti-war left had a better idea of how war works than the guy in charge of planning and executing wars?

But the larger question is: Is there a large, administration-wide effort to start owning up to mistakes, based on the political reality that the "infallibility" strategy has backfired on Bush's poll numbers? Or are these people actually starting to realize that the Fenris Wolf they've been feeding has finally come unleashed?

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Disruption is Free Speech 

Culture Jamming the President: Using Highway signs as "blogs". RTMark has some new culture jamming ideas as well. Have Fun, Kids!

Darwinian Wildlife Preservation 

Bush's Fish and Wildlife / National Parks Guy, Craig Manson, did an interview with Grist Magazine in which he talks about his dedication to the Darwinian approach to the preservation of Wildlife. Which, uh, you can't do. It's an oxymoron.

Grist: You made a comment at a Santa Barbara conference that riled a lot of environmentalists, in which you called into question the inherent harm of species extinction: "If we are saying that the loss of species in and of itself is inherently bad," you said, "I don't think we know enough about how the world works to say that." Can you explain this comment and what you think may be the sunny side of species extinction?

Manson: The reaction to that comment illustrates something about the character of the science that some people would have us use -- which is, "Don't question the orthodoxy of anything." I mean, do we know? The orthodoxy is that every species has a place in the ecosystem and therefore the loss of any species diminishes us in some negative way. That's the orthodoxy. Now that certainly has validity with respect to most things, maybe almost everything. But it's a presumptuous thing to suggest that we know for sure that that is a fact. And it sort of flies in the face of Darwinian science.

Grist: How so?

Manson: Darwinian science suggests that some species are lost because they are unable to adapt to changing circumstances. And those changing circumstances may be natural circumstances, they may not be artificial or human-caused. If that's the case, then we don't know whether to label the loss of that species as good or bad as a scientific matter. That does not mean that we shouldn't enforce the Endangered Species Act. Some people made a leap in logic from that discussion to, "Let's not enforce the ESA." That's fallacious to make that sort of leap of logic.

Grist: There is vast and alarming evidence that the rate of extinction has escalated tremendously in the last several decades. We often hear statistics along the lines of: More species have been lost in the last several decades than have been lost cumulatively in the last several millennia. As the man responsible for species protection in the United States, can you explain why we "don't know enough" to deduce that this is linked to human activity and is an unnatural and potentially catastrophic trend?

Manson: There are statistics like that out there. I don't know what those statistics mean.

Grist: As in, you don't know whether they are well-founded?

Manson: Well, let's assume for a moment that you had a study that said more species have been lost in the last 50 years than in the preceding 10,000 years. And that's all the study tells us -- somehow we are able to figure that out. Well, what does that mean? I don't know what that means.

Turkey and Mustard, Bush and the Truth 

If you watched the Bush Press Conference, you recall that Bush mentioned that authorities found 50 tons of Mustard Gas on a Turkey Farm. He said it at two different points of his speech, but basically used it to prove that the invasion of Iraq had pressured Libya into giving in to inspections. But today, McClellan, in a rare move, corrected the President. Turns out they found less than half the amount Bush said.

Inflated numbers is a common political game. Ie, you say "50" and when it gets reduced to 23, the 23 "still sounds a lot higher" than if you initially lowballed a 17 and then upgraded to a 23. It's done with Casualty counts usually, but works for any number. (Not to mention, of course, that corrections never get as much press as the initial statement.) Of course, if you ask Bush, he'll tell you didn't lie- he just told twice as much truth.

I don't think finding 23 tons of Mustard Gas is "no big deal", of course, but the other problem is that even Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Admin Senior Director on Middle Eastern affairs, said to the NY Times that the war in Iraq wasn't what pressured Libya. In fact, Libya was pressured by just the opposite:

The lesson is incontrovertible: to persuade a rogue regime to get out of the terrorism business and give up its weapons of mass destruction, we must not only apply pressure but also make clear the potential benefits of cooperation. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has refused to take this approach with other rogue regimes, notably Iran and Syria. Until the president is willing to employ carrots as well as sticks, he will make little headway in changing Iranian or Syrian behavior. -Archived NY Times Editorial

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Barbies No Pasaran! 

The largest Internet Vote Ever in Russian history was for a Miss Universe contestant who entered as a prank.

"The appearance of a common, real-life girl caused an enormous wave of support [...] (She) submitted for the competition usual photos, made by unprofessional photographers, without make-up, with a natural smile and expression of the eyes." The statement says the vote for Alyona was "against unnatural beauties who cannot be distinguished from each other, fake emotions, smiles and gazes reflected in the lenses of professional photographers, products of the same type and trademark, popular music, cigarettes without nicotine and coffee without caffeine". - BBC News

Totally great.


QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9-11 commission? And, Mr. President, who will we be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?

BUSH: We'll find that out soon. That's what Mr. Brahimi is doing. He's figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over. And, secondly, because the 9-11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I was asking why you're appearing together, rather than separately, which was their request.

BUSH: Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9-11 commission is looking forward to asking us. And I'm looking forward to answering them.

It Never Stops 

Ashcroft also said that one of the first things he did after becoming attorney general was to conduct a "thorough review" of the authorities that the Clinton administration had given the CIA to take covert action against bin Laden. His review showed, he testified, that there was "no covert action program to kill bin Laden."

But several commissioners disagreed. They cited the 1998 "memorandum of notification" signed by Clinton, which was found among the documents that the Bush White House originally refused to turn over to the commission.
-Wasington Post

[via Roger Ailes.]

Any Inkling 

New Documents show that the August 6th Memo, which, I remind you, was titled, "Bin Laden Determined To Strike Within US", was not, as the Bush Cadre have implied, evidence of a simple traditional hijacking (and thus, apparently, no big deal):

The intelligence included reports of a hostage plot against Americans. It noted that operatives might choose to hijack an aircraft or storm a U.S. embassy. Without knowing when, where or how the terrorists would strike, the CIA "consistently described the upcoming attacks as occurring on a catastrophic level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil," according to one of two staff reports released by the panel yesterday. -Washington Post

Then, Bush took a month long vacation after he got the August 6th PDB. Yesterday, Bush said at his press conference:

"I can assure the American people that had we had any inkling that this was going to happen, we would have done everything in our power to stop the attack."

Yeah, That is Shrill 

Sometimes, Democrats take it a little too far. The St. Petersburg Democratic Club took out a newspaper ad:

It criticizes the "Bush Bunch" and compared the Iraqi insurgents to American patriots during the Revolutionary War. The advertisement includes this passage: "They're Iraqi patriots who want us the hell out of their country, and we should get the hell out of their country now!" [...] "And then there's Rumsfeld who said of Iraq, 'We have our good days and our bad days,' " the ad continues. "We should put this S.O.B. up against the wall and say 'This is one of our bad days,' and pull the trigger." -The Moonie Times

Here's a hint for political fundraising: Don't call for assasinations. But, at least now I know who Bush is arguing with about "staying the course."

What They Say When They're Saying Nothing 

"Ten months before facing voters, President Bush used an upbeat State of the Union address Tuesday night to promote his stewardship of the nation at home and abroad and to call on Americans to stay the course." January 21st, 2004

"Despite the growing upheaval and U.S. casualties in Iraq, a majority of the nation's 20 largest newspapers, in editorials during the past week, have urged the White House to stay the course." April 9th, 2004

"After a tear-filled meeting with the family of a Charlottean killed in Iraq, President Bush vowed Monday to "stay the course" despite that country's latest surge in violence." April 6th, 2004

"The United States "will stay the course" in Iraq, President Bush said today in Gaberone, Botswana, following a meeting with President Festus Gontebanye Mogae." July 10, 2003

"President Bush Should "Stay the Course" in Postwar Iraq to Ensure Battlefield Victory is not Lost, Says Council Task Force." March 12, 2003

"President Bush said the US would "stay the course" in Iraq yesterday as the latest wave of violence raised questions about America's timetable for withdrawal of its forces." October 28, 2003

"In Address to Veterans, President Bush Pledges to Stay the Course in War on Terror." August 26th, 2003

"There is one major reason that I will vote for George W. Bush in November. It is to keep on course with his course against killers international. To vote against Mr. Bush for anybody else is to open America's door to the murderers, opening it wider than ever before." February 7th, 2004

"Stay the Course on Disarming Iraq" January 23, 2003

"Senators McCain, Bayh: U-S must stay the course in Iraq"

"Iraqis who want to replace Saddam's deposed dictatorship with a new, democratic government "cannot do it alone," Armitage said. "That is why the United States will stay the course."

"We stay the course, also, against the threat of terrorism," he [Colin Powell] said. "There's no question that the new ideology that threatens us is not called communism or fascism, but it is terrorism."

"Cheney to ask Asian Allies to Stay The Course in Iraq."

All of this surprisingly comes when absolutely no one besides Dennis Kucinich is calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Even Howard Dean has said we should "stay the course." But for whatever reason, it gives Bush a headline when he says it, and he always says it. It is precisely what he says when there is nothing to say to acknowledge the death and misery that this war has incurred. When the shit goes down, Bush says "stay the course" and suddenly the people are sated; but what, precisely, is the "course"? The course is, as far as it has been explained to me, to simply imagine what a peaceful and stable Iraq will do to the region. But we already had that once, didn't we?

A Closer Look 

The Complete August 6th Memo formatted just as the President received it. The words "World Trade Center" are in the second sentence of the memo.

If I've been especially caustic this week, if I have been overbearingly cynical, it's on account of frustration, and I'll apologize but also warn you, I have a feeling it isn't going to stop.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Bush Intends To Stay The Course 

Full Text here.

Bush is going to stay the course. He doesn't know who he will hand power over to in Iraq, ("You'll find out soon", he said) but he is going to stay the course, so don't worry. What's the plan? We don't know, but we're staying the course, and it's gonna rule.

Asked if he ever made mistakes, the answer was that there weren't any he could think of on the spot like that. They asked him again, later, and he literally stammered, stood there silent, flummoxed. The result? He was confident that they'd find weapons in Iraq. I'm really glad that Bush is going for the "totally infallible, pretty much non human because my actions are divined by the Almighty" thing. How can you not vote for a guy who is totally infallible?

Are you wondering why he's speaking with Dick Cheney at the 9/11 commission as opposed to separately? So was I. Well, it's because it's such a great chance to help the commission get to the bottom of what happened on 9/11. "No, no," you say, "why is he appearing with Dick Cheney, instead of separately, as the commission requested?" The answer: because it is a great opportunity to help the commission get to the bottom of what happened on 9/11. Next question?

On the line of going to war because "just imagine if Saddam Hussein had WMD's", there's this: "A free Iraq is going to be a major blow for terrorism. It'll change the world. A free Iraq in the midst of the Middle East is vital to future peace and security." The problem is that a Free Iraq, as of now, is completely imaginary. So he's saying, "once there's no more terrorism or instability in the middle east, there will be no more terrorism or instability there." That's gonna be totally awesome. Thank God that Bush is staying the course!

Oh, and do you think Iraqi's can't be free because of their skin? Well, Bush has some words for you.

"Some of the debate really centers around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing or free. I'd strongly disagree with that." Take that, all you racist anti war protestors out there. Looks like you got served.

Bush Gets It Right, Again 

"Of course I expect good information. I can't make good decisions without good information!"


Bush Gets It Right 

"A country that hides things is a country afraid of getting caught."


Question To The Media 

Why do you keep saying that Bush's goal is "to convince Americans to stay the course in Iraq"? Who is arguing otherwise? Are we phrasing the question because of Dennis Kucinich? Or are we setting up the false dichotomy that Bush is for "staying the course" where the other political option and candidate is not?

Ashcroft's Testo-mercial 

"The simple fact of Sept. 11 is this: We did not know an attack was coming because for nearly a decade our government had blinded itself to its enemies." -LA Times

But we did know an attack was coming. According to the August 6th PDB, annoyingly titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside US," : "FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

So John Ashcroft can go fuck himself. But we have to be civil, so we let this guy pimp the PATRIOT Act anyway:

"Our agents were isolated by government-imposed walls, handcuffed by government-imposed restrictions, and starved for basic information technology," he said. "The old national intelligence system in place on Sept. 11 was destined to fail."

Of course, all of these things- let's, for the sake of convenience, call them "civil liberties"- were there when Clinton stopped the Millennium Bombings.

So John Ashcroft can go fuck himself twice.

2 + 2 = ? 

Two Articles that really illuminate each other:

Krugman and Chomsky.

Krugman: Again and again, administration officials have insisted that some particular evildoer is causing all our problems. Last July they confidently predicted an end to the insurgency after Saddam's sons were killed. In December, they predicted an end to the insurgency after capturing Saddam himself. Six weeks ago -- was it only six weeks? -- Al Qaeda was orchestrating the insurgency, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the root of all evil. The obvious point that we're facing widespread religious and nationalist resentment in Iraq, which is exploited but not caused by the bad guy du jour, never seems to sink in.

Chomsky: As pretext after pretext for the war has collapsed, commentators have had to scurry to take the next one seriously. The latest, after the collapse of all others, is that the US goal was to establish democracy in Iraq, indeed the whole Middle East. The assumption is taken for granted in news reporting, and accepted even by the harshest critics, who laud the noble vision but think it is beyond our means, etc. Only Iraqis seem to reject it; in recent polls, 1% of people in Baghdad think the US invaded to defend democracy, 5% to help Iraqis, while most of the rest assume that the goal was to take control of Iraq's resources and to reorganize the region for US power interests -- an option that is virtually inexpressible here, though it sounds pretty simple and obvious.

So it would seem that, for one, we have to start admitting we wanted Iraq for "strategic" purposes- we pretend it means military bases and stronger "presence" in the region, but that's tied to easier defense and regulation of "the oil", and we should stop pretending otherwise. The "otherwise" scenario (numerous as they are, as Chomsky points out) was force fed to us by "Steady Leadership" Bush in the context of 9/11- even daring to say that we need to topple fundamentalist regimes as a way to pre-empt terrorism by owning up to America's (re: Clinton's, when it should have been re: Reagan's) foreign policy mistakes. There's no ties to "old" terrorism in Iraq, in fact, the CIA had long stated that it would increase our risk for "old" Terrorism.

The Iraqi people are not stupid people. They can see as well as we can, if not better, that the occupation was for the sake of American Power (and for the sake of expressing American Power, as a "reminder" to other nations to stay in line- which is exactly what Bush claims has happened in Libya). Iraqis- and foreign fighters- know that making this American Occupation as bloody and difficult as possible will have the same effect on American Power as 9/11, and they also know that they can profit from it- if Sadr can chase America out of Iraq, then Bin Laden looks like Pancakes. Fundamentalism and Globalisation are at war, and the battle can produce martyrs, heroes, and new political power in Iraq. So of course, they'll try to reach that ring. The more blood spilled by Americans in that process, the easier it becomes to sway them against Bush and the Occupation.

Gov. Craig Benson's Paranoia 

In the Manchester Union Leader (or the Union Freeper, if you like) was this, regarding Kerry's speech yesterday at UNH:

Gov. Craig Benson, co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in New Hampshire, criticized Kerry for putting a negative tone on the economy, particularly before young people. "That could put a stall on the economy," Benson said in a conference call with reporters. -Union Leader

Yes, now we know what's killing the economy: Kerry's speech to a bunch of Guster fans.

McSweeney's Is On It 

McSweeney's now has a Daily Reason to Dispatch Bush feature. Here's one I didn't know, and I tend to know these things:

George W. Bush is listed, through 1999, as a donor to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, having raised money for their annual ball. The event is held in a former slave hall, where slaves were forced to build war material for the Confederate army.

(Source: The Book on Bush, Eric Alterman and Mark Green, Viking, 2004)

Monday, April 12, 2004

John Kerry, UNH Campus in Durham, NH 

A woman tried to get us to move to a row of seats, saying it was just so we could be on television. That was the exact opposite of what we wanted, so we stayed, and later we found out that our seats were directly in view of the television cameras. (Much like the time the Wesley Clark people wanted me to sit on stage with Wes, then told me politely to sit in the bleachers. I don't understand the internal mechanizations of these strategists, but I assume my general at-rest demeanor doesn't match with the blaring of "Walkin' On Sunshine", especially after it's been played the fourth time in an hour. Can someone tell the set up people to prepare more than four songs when warming up a crowd at a rally? Particularly when your candidate is consistently an hour and a half late. To everything.)

Right before Kerry finally came out (Tickets said Doors open at 1:30, Kerry came on at 4) we were told that we would be on camera, so to try to look enthusiastic. We were then handed two American Flags to wave and a sign as well as a giant finger pointer, which, if you overlapped them, looked like one giant middle finger, which may be handy if I crash a Bush rally. But the weirdest thing was that Kerry staff were handing out "home made" signs to the crowd, having confiscated all the others at the door, just in case someone had made a "fake" sign, I was told. The signs were distributed with slogans like "Students for Kerry", which was, at one point, held by an elderly Korean War Veteran before it was held by a middle aged Kerry campaign staff member.

The problem I have always had with every candidate save Dean and Kucinich is the amount of pageantry and spectacle orchestrated around these events. These things are not about politics, they're about image, they're about "hope" and "positivity", they aren't debates, they aren't cabinet meetings, and I understand that. But they also aren't very good at getting to the heart of what one candidate means as opposed to the other, about what politics should be. I long, at every political rally, for the moment of disruption. When the events are so carefully choreographed that even the home made signs are faked, the crowds forced into strange configurations for the sake of television cameras, all orchestrated to present the candidate in an entirely positive light, usually devoid of controversial statements that are the heart of progress, the moment of disruption is the only human moment of any event. Be it a lone Bush Wrangler, a LaRouche Attack, or an overly feisty critic in the crowd, it lets the candidate show off his wit, if he has it, his temper, if he has one, but mostly, you get a glimpse into the candidate, and sometimes politics in general, when something goes astray.

The College Republicans began banging flip flops together and chanting "Flip Flop, Flip Flop." To which Kerry said, "Yeah, well- let me send some people to a Bush Rally to bang their unemployment checks together." The crowd went nuts. Even the flip flop guys knew they got served. They had nothing to say, they just stopped banging the flip flops together and they walked out.

It took me a while to really understand the complete and total idiocy of these brownshirts. On the ride home, the radio was playing the news of the day: A dairy farmer, whose farm went out of business, had signed up to be a truck driver in Iraq for Halliburton. The pay was astronomical for his hometown in Mississippi, and he needed to support his wife and children, so he signed up. Today, he's being held hostage by terrorists who are threatening to torture him if American troops don't pull out of Fallujah. They won't, they can't. Negotiating with terrorists leads to more terrorism, more kidnappings. But that doesn't really matter much to the milk farmer who is going to be tortured tomorrow, or to his family, whose last sight of their father and husband is going to be the terrified look he has on a video tape made by sadists.

Meanwhile, three Japanese soldiers were being held hostage as well, the first time the Japanese have been involved in a conflict since 1945. These soldiers were sent to assist in a reconstruction effort, not in the war effort, per se. In fact, they had Iraqi soldiers protecting them. But now they've been kidnapped, and they will be burned alive unless Japan removes it's soldiers from Iraq's borders. They won't, you can't negotiate with terrorists, but what does that matter, really.

There's been over 70 killed this weekend in battles against a religious revolution- what people ought to consider a third war in Iraq, this time not against Saddam and the Baathists but against Revolutionary elements of the religious population. The Sunnis and the Shiites are united, for once, and it is against us, and Democracy is coming to them in less than three months.

All of this, and the College Republicans are sitting there, banging sandals in the air, chanting "Flip Flop, Flip Flop." It's an act of absolute, unquestionable stupidity. But it's also an act of unfathomable and deliberate ignorance. If you believe in this President, then there is a time and a place for frat boy grandstanding, for testosterone induced competitive yelling. If you are educated enough to have drawn a conclusion on this president, then you should know that this weekend wasn't that time or that place. I imagined, in the car on the way back, these pathetic, frat boy, conscription aged children, throwing their stupid sandals at televised images of a Dairy Farmer, forced out of work and into delivering goods for Halliburton, caught and tortured on tape for the guy they want for four more years, and yelling about how John Kerry changed his mind on tax cuts back in 1995. I'm wondering if anyone understands what America means anymore, if anyone understands the degree of power we are wielding in this election?

I don't know if the fake signs are any different than the flip flop banging, but I know that the Kerry Campaign is run on the energy of not allowing any mistakes on the way to correcting the ones Bush has made. The college boys, they didn't stand for anything. They walked out knowing full well that they accomplished absolutely nothing, they walked out knowing they lost this round, and they didn't even bother standing ground. To them, election is a shouting match. To the rest of us, to the rest of the world, this election is something akin to the resolution of an international crisis, a deathwave of staggering uselessness, a politics of incomprehensible doctrines imposed by dead men and weapons.

Banging sandals together about tax cuts just doesn't cut it anymore.

On Canada 

Alternet has a great article about Canada, specifically, why American's don't "respect" Canada: an absence of war, genocide and nationalism make it seem "weak" and "second class". But also why Canadians have the last laugh: they have a greater respect for developing a national consensus, and they have real media and dialogue that reflects this, which, coincidentally, leads to actual, innovative solutions beyond the realm of partisanship. In other words, they're what America pretends it is, minus our wars and Genocide.

One thing I liked about Canada, while I was driving through Ontario, the radio played a story about giving citizens free bus fares when there was a smog warning, to help cut down the amount of car exhaust that, you know contributes to the smog problem. It operated at a loss, obviously, but no one seemed to care. It made sense, and sometimes you operate at a loss. Running a Nation "For Profit" is nothing short of Libertarian Capitalism, and that seems to be what we have in charge now.

Bush's Excuse 

"The question was, who was going to attack us, when and where, and with what. And you might recall the hijacking that was referred to in the PDB. It was not a hijacking of an airplane to fly into a building, it was hijacking of airplanes in order to free somebody that was being held as a prisoner in the United States." GW, in the Washington Post.

Well in that case, doing nothing would have been perfectly acceptable. Right, guys?

Sunday, April 11, 2004

What Bush Really Thinks 

"George sees this as a religious war," one family member told us. "He doesn't have a PC view of this war. His view is that they are trying to kill the Christians. And we the Christians will strike back with more force and more ferocity than they will ever know."

- LA Times with a must read story.

[Update: Totally forgot to give a shout out to Corrente for finding this one.]

What the Fuck 

In his first comments since Saturday's release of the presidential daily brief, Bush said the document contained "nothing about an attack on America." Bush said if there had been any specific intelligence pointing to threats of attacks on New York and Washington, "I would have moved mountains" to prevent it. -AP

The memo, which everyone has already read by the time Bush said this, read, and I repeat:

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

"Nothing About An Attack On America" vs "preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

"If there had been any specific intelligence pointing to threats of attacks on New York and Washington" vs "preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

What the fuck is wrong with this guy? Why isn't anyone calling him on this shit? "Moving Mountains" my ass,

"On that day, after a dusty morning run, the president put faded jeans with a big belt buckle, a short-sleeved, button-down shirt, cowboy boots to get down to work. He met aides for 45 minutes. He took the call from Rice. Bush put on a white cowboy hat and drove his pickup to the canyons. He was building a nature walk." -AP

August 6th Memo: 


You can read the whole thing there, but here's what you'll want to know:

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

And when a plane hit the World Trade Center, remember, Bush himself claims to have said, "That's one lousy pilot", and when he was told the second hit, he sat for fifteen minutes reading "The Pet Goat" with Florida school children.

Christianity is not Christians 

Happy Easter!

GLASSPORT, Pa. -- Several parents and children were upset by a Glassport church's Easter show, in which a bunny character was whipped and eggs were broken. People who attended the performance Saturday at Memorial Stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified. Jennifer Norelli-Burke, another parent who saw the show, said performers broke eggs meant for an Easter egg hunt and portrayed a drunken man and a self-mutilating woman. "It was very disturbing," Norelli-Burke said. "I could not believe what I saw. It wasn't anything I was expecting."

Friday, April 09, 2004

The Shiite Revolution and the Martyr of Karbala 

"Sadr also announced that he and his followers "have laid the foundation stone of the state of the Mehdi" a reference to Al-Mehdi Al-Montazer, or the "hidden imam", the 12th and last revered leader of the Shiite Muslims who disappeared in 907 AD. - Yahoo News

It's a rule, I think, that if you leave a large enough void of power, someone is going to step up to fill it- and eventually, through a confluence of leadership, luck, and cultural sentiment, one of them will stick. This one is particularly disconcerting, but not at all surprising, and here's why:

Shiism is the branch of Islam that believes in the idea that Mohammad's male descendants were the only pure carriers of Mohammad's wisdom. A rough analogy would be to imagine if Popes were literally the descendants of Christ. Shiism is just one branch of Islam in Iraq- the Sunnis are another- and Shiites are further divided by which descendants are believed to be "true", since only pure blood (and male) descendants of Mohammad should be revered. (For the record, Mohammad only had a daughter- so the wisdom was passed on to her husband. I'm not kidding.) Some say there are five ("the Fivers"), some say seven and some say 12- you guessed it, "the Twelvers." The group in Iraq declaring revolution are "Twelvers". By what I am sure is not coincidence, "Twelvers" also form the official state religion of Iran.

If you look at the history of these Imams, you can begin to understand why the Shiites are so much more upset and impassioned about our presence than you might think. It is not simply a matter of "foreign occupation". We should be so lucky that their hostility stemmed from such simplistic, secular rationalizations.

No no, friends: It is so much more fucked than you could ever imagine.

For one: The last three Imams were all forced to spend their lives in prisons by an opposing branch of Islam. They communicated only through secret communications with their followers. The last, 12th Imam, Muhammad al Mahdi, either disappeared or threw himself down a well to escape these foreign oppressors. (Non Twelvers will often claim he didn't exist.) This week, Sadr's followers were expected to sit around and allow the Americans who invaded their land to then go and imprison their religious leader. They weren't so hot for that idea, and now Sadr is using that parallel to aggravate and already inflamed religious furor.

Consider is the importance of Karbala: this is where Imam Hussayn, considered to be one of the direct descendants of Mohammad, was killed by troops imposing an opposing brand of Islam. In other words, a descendant of Mohammad was killed as a martyr defending Islam from infidels who imposed a foreign religion onto their territory. This weekend is Ashura, the weekend where they will mourn his death, or, as one source puts it, a day that "also makes us aware of the people, then and now, who tried to destroy Islam and the family of the Prophet and all that they stood for - as well as those who watched, listened and did nothing." Sadr is locked up in Hussayn's mausoleum. Got it, kids?

If not, consider this: Twelver Shiites believe that the 12th Imam will be resurrected to fight with those who have been loyal to him in a final battle before the Apocalypse. Iraq, invaded by the Nation long called "The Great Satan" by Fundamentalist Islamic Preachers, which decimated it's national history, put women on the ground to kill "proud martyrs", and filled the sky with massive silver eagles that breath fire and turn the night sky to daylight? Yeah, you can imagine where the whole "apocalypse" idea could gain traction.

So considering all of this, let us imagine for a moment, once again, the notion that we would be greeted as liberators with rose petals tossed on our feet as we literally invaded the area where, 1000 years ago, foreign armies with an opposing religion came in and killed Mohammad's great grandson. Consider that this belief is backed up by the majority of the Iranian population, and then consider that those who died in that battle 1000 years ago were considered martyrs, and that the holiday this weekend is not exactly "The Islamic Easter", it's a holiday celebrating martyrdom against a foreign occupation.

A Very Progressive Easter 

A nice interview with Mr. Jimmy Carter on why the Christian Right is neither.

What has attracted conservative Christians to a party that protects corporate interests and promotes an aggressive foreign-policy agenda? How do those square?

There is an element of fundamentalism involved, which involves the belief on the part of a human being that [his or her] own concept of God is the proper one. And since [he or she has] the proper concept of God, [he or she is] particularly blessed and singled out for special consideration above and beyond those who disagree with [him or her].

Secondly, anyone who does disagree with [him or her], since [he or she is] harnessed to God in a unique way, then, by definition, must be wrong. And the second step is if you are in disagreement with [his or her] concept of the way to worship, even among the Christian community, is that you are inferior to [him or her]. And then the ultimate progression of that is that you're not only different and wrong and inferior but in some ways you are subhuman. So there's a loss of concern even for the death of those who disagree. And this takes fundamentalism to the extreme. This is an element of the fundamentalist cause in this country. If you are a wealthy white man, then you are naturally inclined to think that the poor are inferior and don't deserve your first consideration. If you are a wealthy white man, then you also take on the proposition that women are inherently inferior. This builds up a sense of prejudice and alienation that permeates the Christian right during these days.


"The Passion of the Christ," with its two hours of slow-motion bloodletting, is posting record sales in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. "It has beaten all records," says Johnny Masri, general manager of Prime Pictures, the movie's Middle East distributors. "It's more popular than Titanic and the James Bond films. We completely underestimated the huge success this movie would have."

Maybe this isn't politically correct, but I get the feeling that if "Titanic" had blamed a the Jews instead of an iceberg, it would probably have done just as well over there. And if you're wondering about the "good" this movie can do in the Oil-Stained Heatsink of Religious Fanaticism, check this:

"Some Muslims who have seen "The Passion" even equate the death of Jesus with the death of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement, who was assassinated in Gaza last month."

That's exactly what we need. I don't know who the bigger fucking genius is: Ariel Sharon or Mel Gibson? Because they are both total fucking geniuses.

Something To Do 

Sign Here online to voice your opposition to the "Fairness In Asbestos Injury Resolution" Act, which would help out companies like Halliburton that have poisoned their workers with Asbestos. If that's not enough, consider that is sponsored by Bill Frist and Orrin Hatch. So, you know what to do.


Today, a visit from Yeshiva University brought me to my 15,000th hit. Thanks all!

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Atrios has a timeline:

August 6, 2001: Bush gets briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside US."
August 7, 2001: Bush begins month long vacation in Crawford, TX.

But the memo also makes his behavior in that classroom on the morning of 9/11 all the more inexplicable. If you get a briefing like this, if you have advisors who know that there was a planned hijacking, why oh why do you sit in a classroom reading with school children for a full fifteen minutes? ("So as not to scare the children", we are told.) You would think that, if there was knowledge of a terrorist attack- or even, for that matter, the "traditional hijacking" they claim to have expected- there would have been, like, a contingency plan. But apparently Steady Leadership's "contingency plan" was prioritized around not frightening a group of school children in Florida while the sky is falling on top of 3000 American citizens, then standing in the rubble for a photo opportunity to sell for a $150.00 donation.

No Indication That We Would Be Struck Domestically. At All.  

Mr. Ben-Veniste persisted, asking, "Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice" that the presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6 [2001] "warned against possible attacks in this country?"

He ended the question by asking her to give the name of the memo, to which she replied: "I believe the title was `Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'"
-New York Times

Incredible. Let's see if the media goes after this, or if they go after how "poised and articulate" the celebrity they've been grooming all week behaved.

Our Informed Counter Terrorism Policy 

LEHMAN: Were you told that there were numerous young Arab males in flight training, had taken flight training, were in flight training?

RICE: I was not. And I'm not sure that that was known at the center.

LEHMAN: Were you told that the U.S. Marshal program had been changed to drop any U.S. marshals on domestic flights?

RICE: I was not told that.

LEHMAN: Were you told that the red team in FAA -- the red teams for 10 years had reported their hard data that the U.S. airport security system never got higher than 20 percent effective and was usually down around 10 percent for 10 straight years?

RICE: To the best of my recollection, I was not told that.

LEHMAN: Were you aware that INS had been lobbying for years to get the airlines to drop the "transit without visa" loophole that enabled terrorists and illegals to simply buy a ticket through the transit-without- visa-waiver and pay the airlines extra money and come in?

RICE: I learned about that after September 11th.

LEHMAN: Were you aware that the INS had quietly, internally, halved its internal security enforcement budget?

RICE: I was not made aware of that. I don't remember being made aware of that, no.

LEHMAN: Were you aware that it was the U.S. government established policy not to question or oppose the sanctuary policies of New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, San Diego for political reasons, which policy in those cities prohibited the local police from cooperating at all with federal immigration authorities?

RICE: I do not believe I was aware of that.

LEHMAN: Were you aware -- to shift a little bit to Saudi Arabia -- were you aware of the program that was well established that allowed Saudi citizens to get visas without interviews?

RICE: I learned of that after 9/11.

LEHMAN: Were you aware of the activities of the Saudi ministry of religious affairs here in the United States during that transition?

RICE: I believe that only after September 11th did the full extent of what was going on with the ministry of religious affairs became evident.

LEHMAN: Were you aware of the extensive activities of the Saudi government in supporting over 300 radical teaching schools and mosques around the country, including right here in the United States?

RICE: I believe we've learned a great deal more about this and addressed it with the Saudi government since 9/11.

LEHMAN: Were you aware at the time of the fact that Saudi Arabia had and were you told that they had in their custody the CFO and the closest confidant of Al Qaida -- of Osama bin Laden, and refused direct access to the United States?

RICE: I don't remember anything of that kind.


LEHMAN: ...were you aware that the FAA up until 9/11 thought it was perfectly permissible to allow four-inch knife blades aboard?

RICE: I was not aware.

The January 25th Memo 

LEHMAN: ...were you told before the summer that there were functioning Al Qaida cells in the United States?

RICE: In the memorandum that Dick Clarke sent me on January 25th, he mentions sleeper cells. There is no mention or recommendation of anything that needs to be done about them. And the FBI was pursuing them. And usually when things come to me, it's because I'm supposed to do something about it, and there was no indication that the FBI was not adequately pursuing the sleeper cells.

So Clarke sent her a memo, but it was a useless memo because it didn't outline anything that needed to be done about them, and usually it is her job to figure out what to do about the information in memos that were given to her, but she didn't do anything, anyway. Perfectly reasonable, perfectly logical.

Regardless, there was concrete information in his memo, as reported in the 9/11 commission summary: "On January 25th, Clarke forwarded his December strategy paper to the new national security adviser, and it proposed covert action to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, significantly increasing CIA funding, retaliating for the USS Cole, arming the Predator aircraft, going after terrorist fund raising."

On Meet The Press, Clarke had said of this memo: "Now, Dr. Rice has characterized this as not a plan, not a strategy, not a series of decisions which could be made right away, but warmed-over Clinton material. Let's declassify that memo I sent on January 25th and let's declassify the national security directive that Dr. Rice's committee approved nine months later on September 4th, and let's see if there's any difference between those two, because there isn't. And what we'll see when we declassify what they were given on January 25th and what they finally agreed to on September 4th, is that they're basically the same thing and they wasted months when we could have had some action." -March 28th 2004.

So, she's under oath. Let's see.

Hear Condi Say Nothing 

KERREY: Dr. Rice, everybody who does national security in this town knows the FBI and the CIA don't talk. So if you have a meeting on the 5th of July, where you're trying to make certain that your domestic agencies are preparing a defense against a possible attack, you knew Al Qaida cells were in the United States, you've got to follow up. And the question is, what was your follow-up? What's the paper trail that shows that you and Andy Card followed up from this meeting, and made certain that the FBI and the CIA were talking?

RICE: I followed up with Dick Clarke, who had in his group, and with him, the key counterterrorism person for the FBI. You have to remember that Louis Freeh was, by this time, gone. Louis Freeh had left in late June. And so the chief counterterrorism person for the FBI was working these issues, was working with Dick Clarke. I talked to Dick Clarke about this all the time. But let's be very clear, the threat information that we were dealing with -- and when you have something that says, something very big may happen, you have no time, you have no place, you have no how, the ability to somehow respond to that threat is just not there. Now, you said...

Later, Kerrey reads this:

KERREY: In the spirit of further declassification, this is what the August 6th memo said to the president: that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking. That's the language of the memo that was briefed to the president on the 6th of August.

RICE: And that was checked out and steps were taken through FAA circulars to warn of hijackings. But when you cannot tell people where a hijacking might occur, under what circumstances -- I can tell you that I think the best antidote to what happened in that regard would have been many years before to think about what you could do for instance to harden cockpits. That would have made a difference.

So, first off, Condi says we didn't know what would happen. Kerrey offers evidence that they did know what would happen. Then Condi says they did know a hijacking would have happened- and boy, if only Clinton had put hard cockpit doors in, everything would have been great. Also, you will notice that "she met with Dick Clarke about this all the time", a far cry from Cheney's "out of the loop" comment.

Bush Sues to Void Payments to Tortured POW's 

Support the Troops, indeed.

The Bush administration urged an appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's order awarding nearly $1 billion in Iraqi money to 17 Americans taken prisoner by Saddam Hussein's government during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. - ABC News

These guys were beaten, tortured and electrocuted with Cattle Prods. Last year, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan argued at a press gaggle about giving the POW's money (which was already rewarded) and it was like talking to Teddy Ruxpin with a cassette recording of the party line. You can (and should) read the full thing here. (Scroll down half way.)

MR. McCLELLAN: This issue was addressed earlier this year, and we believe that there's simply no amount of money that could truly compensate these brave men and women for what they went through and for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein...

Read the whole thing for the full impact, though. It may have been the best McClellan moment of 2003.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Why Do They Keep Hiring Careerist Partisan Democrats? 

"Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has faced a steady exodus of counterterrorism officials, many disappointed by a preoccupation with Iraq they said undermined the U.S. fight against terrorism." -Forbes

They've gone through six since September 11th. There are 12 in the entire department. That's right, twelve people in charge of advising Presidential counterterrorism policy in the United States. That's Bush's tough-assed war on terror. They are hired for their expertise, and they leave because their expertise isn't being listened to. Instead, we're listening to Dick "No Connections To Halliburton" Cheney:

"Some also left because they felt President Bush had sidelined his counterterrorism experts and paid almost exclusive heed to the vice president, the defense secretary and other Cabinet members in planning the "war on terror," former counterterrorism officials said."

These are, by the way, the same allegations made by Richard Clarke.

Oh, The Irony 

Justice Scalia was speaking at High School in Mississippi.

"During the speech, a woman identifying herself as a deputy federal marshal demanded that a reporter for The Associated Press erase a tape recording of the justice's comments. She said the justice had asked that his appearance not be recorded.

The reporter initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her hands. The exchange occurred in the front row of the auditorium while Scalia delivered his speech about the Constitution."

Certainly Freedom of the Press was involved somewhere in that speech- too bad we'll never know, eh? But last year, he did mention this:

"The Constitution of the United States is extraordinary and amazing. People just don't revere it like they used to."

"The Swan" 

Anyone seen this female body image torture parade on Fox?

The premise is that they will take five women who are of moderate attractiveness and enter them into a beauty pageant. But to get them "ready", they get plastic surgery, are put on a diet and exercise routine, and have their teeth surgically altered. And everyone goes to these perfect looking specialists with perfect hair and teeth- plastic surgeons, dieticians, oral surgeons, etc- and the specialists are like "Well, Dorothy is going to need a lot of work..." says the plastic surgeon. And one girl has a drawing that her friends made of all the parts they suggested she have surgically altered so she can "dedicate" the surgeries to them. And then after the surgery one of the doctors says "well I am worried about (Susan, or whatever) because she seems very emotional, and some people go into profound depression after having this surgery." To which some talking head comes on and says, "she's been all whining and depressed after her surgery" and "she has to get herself together and fight to pull through this if she is going to win the pageant."

They show one woman who's husband, on the phone, doesn't say a word to her after a month of absence, no "I miss you" or even "how are you doing", and then the host asks her, "You had some problems with your, after this surgery, how do you think things will be?"

It's seriously an atrocity, and that's only half of one show.

New York Times 

More violence today in Iraq.

This New York Times Reporter knows how to utilize the placement of quotations for maximum effect:

"We will stay the course in Iraq," [Bush] said. "We're not going to be intimidated by thugs or assassins. We're not going to cut and run from the people who long for freedom. Because, you know what? We understand a free Iraq is an historic opportunity to help change the world to be more peaceful." In Baghdad, fighting between American forces and Mr. Sadr's militia continued, as young men with machine guns traded fire with American soldiers in several neighborhoods and braced themselves for more bloodshed.

GW Bush, Lovely Man 

Michael Deutsch was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in July.

From the state of Iowa, the Deutsch family received a perfectly folded American flag that flew for one day in Michael's honor above the Capitol in Des Moines. And from the White House came a letter of condolence signed by President Bush. Two letters, actually.

"The exact same one, twice," Wayne Deutsch noted dryly, sitting at the kitchen table of their wood-frame house in Dubuque's working-class North End neighborhood. "What does that tell you? It was a form letter."
-Washington Post

So That Explains Donald Rumsfeld 

Turns out that Afghanistan's top export this year is going to be Heroin, according to an article by the Washington Today (not online that I could find, but MSNBC ripped it off pretty quickly).

And Colonel Hy Rothstein was commissioned by the Pentagon to write a report on the War in Afghanistan. In it, he wrote that Bush's steady leadership in times of change "effectively destroyed the Taliban but has been significantly less successful at being able to achieve the primary policy goal of ensuring that al Qaeda could no longer operate in Afghanistan [...] The failure to adjust US operations in line with the post-Taliban change in theater conditions cost the United States some of the fruits of victory and imposed additional, avoidable humanitarian and stability costs on Afghanistan..." -The New Yorker

Of course, as it always goes with the Bush administration, you'll never guess what they did:

The Pentagon returned the report to Rothstein with a request he cut it drastically and soften his conclusions, the magazine reported.

Condoleezza Rice and the SCLM 

Interesting thing about how the so-called liberal media (SCLM) is handling the build up to Condoleezza Rice's testimony for the 9/11 panel: They are making her a celebrity. CNN's Paula Zahn had an interview with Condi's best friend today, after a rather long profile of her life. Then, today, the AP ran a story, which read with all the quality of a fluff piece on Jessica Simpson. It started with this inspirational story:

The scene was Goree Island in Senegal, a place of great beauty and horrific history. As Condoleezza Rice stood at the Door of No Return, the transit point for so many Africans sold into slavery, a lump swelled in her throat as she quietly wondered which of her ancestors might have passed this way. Rice, on that African trip with President Bush last year, marveled at the "tremendous spirit and toughness" of those unknown forebears who would somehow survive all the trials to come. "It just makes me extremely proud to be descended from those people," she said then. - AP

You can almost hear the choir humming "Glory Glory Hallelujah." Which has nothing to do with Rice's use of fear to manipulate the American People into the quagmire that is the Iraq Implosion. They don't mention, at all, that she most notably stated point blank: "We don't want the smoking gun to be a Mushroom Cloud." Instead, there's "...with her poise and quiet self-assurance...", "Rice - Condi to Bush and her friends - has shown both her soft, approachable side and the tenaciousness that have earned her descriptions like "steel magnolia" and 'velvet hammer.'" and the information that "Her eclectic background includes credits as an accomplished pianist, competitive ice skater, all-around sports fan and avid exerciser."

They quote her friends, but don't balance that out with quotes from any of the many people who believe she deserves prison time: "...a very warm and genuine, deep person. She can give that sense of comfort to people in a friendly, small setting."

Compare the same reporter's language in her story on Richard Clarke:

"Over four administrations and three decades in government, Clarke became known as "a very hard-driving, arrogant, not especially pleasant or polite fellow who manages to get an extremely impressive amount of work done,"

"Clarke "has annoyed and angered everybody he's worked with for 30 years. ... But everybody wanted him around because he could actually get the job done."

It even manages to end on a "nice note" for Clarke that seems a bit back handed:

"He likes to go on nice vacations. He likes good wine. He is your fairly typical cultivated upper-middle-class Washingtonian with cultivated upper-middle-class tastes."

I googled her to make sure, and Nancy Benac, the writer of both stories, has usually written very fair and balanced articles. But the overall mainstream media "story" on Condoleezza and the mainstream media's "story" on Clarke have been universally different. The message seems to be: Clarke is a career opportunist with a book to sell, but Condi is a celebrity and we're not going to talk about her potential motivations.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Branding The President 

Seeing The Forest has a post on the subject of "branding" the president, it is definately worth a read.

57 and 236 

57 dead and 236 wounded in three days.

All sorts of shit is going on in Iraq since this weekend, and I am not going to write about it. Not because I don't think it's important, but because there are too many other places talking about it, including people who are in the midst of it, (and others, as well as people who are smarter observers than I am) and that is what blogs are for. I can't imagine the right to pontificate on the hell on Earth that has taken root amongst all those people and all that oil.

In the meantime, all of this turmoil will likely be used as cover for a great variety of other things, and that's what I am going to keep my eye on- including what will inevitably be one damaging revelation or another in the Rice Testimony. I don't think this is petty so much as it is focused.

Is Pollution Bad For Children? Maybe Not, say Republican Press Strategists 

Worried about being "hit hard" by Democrats about the environment, a memo was circulated by the Bush campaign to Republican Press Secretaries with advice on how to "hit back". It gives us a nice insider's look at how the Republican machine- a smelly, gas guzzling, carbon-monoxide spewing, toxic and irradiated Republican machine that eats trees- operates when it comes to that little slab of embattled foreign soil we call "The Earth".

Among the memo's assertions are 'global warming is not a fact', 'links between air quality and asthma in children remain cloudy', and the US Environment Protection Agency is exaggerating when it says that at least 40 per cent of streams, rivers and lakes are too polluted for drinking, fishing or swimming.

It gives a list of alleged facts taken from contentious sources. For instance, to back its claim that air quality is improving it cites a report from Pacific Research Institute - an organization that has received $130,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998.

I think that when they say "links between air pollution and asthma in children remain cloudy" They missed an opportunity for some clever wordplay. I would have liked it better if the links were "still cloudy, like a mid summer L.A. traffic jam, and everyone knows those are just fine for your health".

Monday, April 05, 2004

Bush Lies List Updated 

Three Additions.

The Fourth Estate 

Missed this: A reporter apologizes for the way he, and the "elite mainstream media" reported on the lead up to the Iraq War. It's a long article, here's an excerpt:

Most disturbing of all, some of these journalists still don't get it. When Massing asked the Times' Miller--an investigative reporter covering intelligence--why she didn't include more comments in her stories by experts who contested White House assertions, she replied: "My job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal."

But even a cub reporter should know that if the government tells her the sky is blue, it's her job to check whether it might not be red or gray or black. And skepticism must be exercised most strongly when the matter at hand is whether the nation will go to war.

By neglecting to fully employ their critical-thinking faculties, Miller and many of her colleagues in the elite print media not only failed their readers during the countdown to the Iraq invasion, they failed our democracy.

And there's no excusing that failure. The only thing that can be said is, Sorry.

America is the Land of Opportunity, Sweden is Socialist... 

...and yet, a Swede is now the richest man in the world. Take that, anarcho-capitalists!

Gay Marriage 

The Gay and Lesbian Task Force has come out with a report (Careful! It's a .pdf) on the economic benefits of Gay Marriage. Sure, it's partisan, but here's some interesting facts:

"One of the couples profiled in the report, Donna Triggs and Donna Moore, both 54, pay $2,177 (13%) more each year in state and federal income taxes than a married couple earning the same amount because they cannot file a joint return. The analysis also finds that if Ms. Triggs died as a result of an injury at work, her spouse would receive $884 per week ($45,968 per year, up to a maximum of $207,722) in workers' compensation benefits. Because Ms. Triggs and Ms. Moore cannot now marry, however, Ms. Moore would receive zero workers' compensation benefits."

What this means is, if we can't have Gay Marriage, maybe Bush will next push to fight for a Gay Currency. At first he'll say it will be to adjust the value of the Gay Dollar to have more spending power than the Straight dollar and equalize the playing field, but then he'll "accidentally" allow a loophole where businesses don't have to accept the gay dollar. So separate stores will pop up that take exclusively one kind of currency. Of course, we could skip all this by just legalizing gay fucking marriage.

In slightly related news, it turns out that "Houston, Texas, contains one of the ten "gayest" neighborhoods in the country", according to the new Gay and Lesbian Atlas.

Great News For Everyone Who Ever Watched Television 

Watching television during infancy dramatically reduces your ability to concentrate in adulthood. And Sesame Street isn't a safe neighborhood either:

"The underlying hypothesis was not about the content of television but the rapidity of scene change," Christakis said. "The rapid scene change may be brain candy of some kind but, like candy, in excess it can be potentially damaging."

9/11 Commission Update 

The leaders of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks agreed Sunday that evidence gathered by their panel showed the attacks could probably have been prevented.

Their remarks drew sharp disagreement from one of President Bush's closest political advisers, who insisted that the Bush and Clinton administrations had no opportunity to disrupt the Sept. 11 plot. They also offered a preview of the difficult questions likely to confront Condoleezza Rice when she testifies before the panel at a long-awaited public hearing this week.
-New York Times

That long awaited public hearing, by the way, may just be Condi's job interview for a Cabinet position in a second Bush term.

A Major Defeat 

Anyone think this quote from President Bush is really odd?

"Terrorists can't stand freedom," said Bush, declaring that he will "stay the course" and bring democracy to Iraq. "We're still being challenged in Iraq and the reason why is a free Iraq will be a major defeat in the cause of freedom."

The next sentence quoted in that article is even weirder:

"I had a choice to make after Saddam Hussein once again refused to disarm," adding that "I will defend America every time."

Needless to say, Saddam Hussein didn't "refuse to disarm". He had no weapons! And this wasn't Bush speaking a year and a half ago, or even six months ago. It was today. George Bush still thinks Saddam had WMD's today!

Bedford Falls, Meet Pottersville 

Looks like WalMart wants to start its own city within the city of Inglewood, California.

"The proposal would essentially exempt Wal-Mart from all of Inglewood's planning, zoning and environmental regulations, creating a city-within-a-city subject only to its own rules."

But even more frightening is this possibility touted by critics:
"If the initiative succeeds here, they say, it will become a model for Wal-Mart sovereignty across the nation and around the globe."

-c/o Buck Hill

MP3: Dennis Kucinich's Campaign Theme Song 

World Famous.

Male: I'm a patriot can't you see? I can't believe they named a missile after me!
Female: I'm a matriot, can't you see? Don't you dare name a missile after me...

The Daily Kos, Meme Consolidation, and Blog Pledge Drives 

(Warning: Metablogging)

It seems to me that the new upheaval over what went on over at the Daily Kos is something beyond the mobilization of right wing bloggers against the left wing bloggers, in a land where it was once said that everyone was united by their love of blogs.

Matt Stoller is right to say that this was inevitable once Kos became powerful, but then the question is a matter of: how does "power" compromise a blog? I complained a while back, half jokingly, that bloggers seem to link almost exclusively to Kos, Atrios and a select few others. The joke was that this was on par with "media consolidation." In other words, if what blogs can contribute to Democracy is the exchange of ideas outside the loop of a corporate media, isn't it very strange indeed that what immediately rises out of the rhizome is not a "network" but pillars with gradual fallout of power as you get further and further away from each pillar?

This consolidation has immediately introduced the notion of a market to what was once purely an economy of ideas. This isn't all bad, of course: more popular blogs- due to strong writing, analysis, etc- are also more expensive blogs for the blogger to maintain. (I don't know what Atrios' traffic looks like, but after an article about some work I did appeared in the New York Times, I was bombarded with so much traffic that, if it had been sustained, it would have cost me $1500 a month to support.) Some amount of advertising revenue is a good thing, clearly, but is it the best model to pursue?

The problem is not the money of the market per se, it's what that money introduces to the market: liabilities and responsibilities to parties outside of one's own interests. Including, as happened with Kos, a dramatic need to cut down the intensity of any rhetoric, lest you be made a target of an uproar from your detractors that could damage your ability to obtain willing advertisers. In other words, you've suddenly got shareholders. I don't know if anything worse has happened to the notion of discourse than the notion of currency. A true gift economy hasn't blossomed yet, in spite of the Howard Dean campaign telling people it could.

Simply put, advertising is not a model that bloggers should pursue, or be comfortable with, for just this reason. Paradoxically, Ideas can't be free until people start paying for them. Which is why I find the notion of a pledge drive all the more appealing, and very possible, for bloggers to work with. While it would be devastating for small blogs like mine, a week of earnest and honest appeals every three months could possibly raise a fortune for independent bloggers. It would also mean that bloggers had full freedom intellectually to put forward any ideas they want to.

This isn't a plea for cash, either- I'm covering this site just fine. But when you look at what Kos has done, it's enormous. It's a functioning community, it's an empowering individual experience (users can start accounts for their own "daily diary" which is linked off of the front page). So I wonder if there is revenue in that audience? Certainly, almost everything left of value in this culture operates at a loss. I just wonder if readers started acting, independently, more like subscribers- a public radio model instead of a magazine start up model- if the culture of blogs could veer away from this commercialism of the consolidated, as we're seeing now?

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Sunday Blog Outsourcing 

Okay. This is going to be abbreviated, as Daylight Savings time has cut the time I have to get this done in half. That is a reminder, by the way, to make sure you set your clock an hour ahead, kids.

First, two blogs that need mentioning: Riverbend is an Iraqi Blogger. Worth your time if only because a human element to news reports of explosions and screaming tends to numb you to the soul crushing chaos that is going on at the center of the world right now.

Which brings us to Noam Chomsky's Blog, which I've already mentioned, but figured I had to mention in the outsourcing as well.

That said, here's a tour of the blogosphere:

Blogging the President has a great write up of the current heat being put on blogger Kos as a result of his comments on the dead civilians this week in Iraq. Kos is losing advertisers because of what he's said; the BOP explains why what he said wasn't so far from the truth.

Buck Hill on Liberal Bias in academia.

Make Me A Commentator on the matter of John Kerry's ski trip a while back where he managed to call a secret service agent a "son of a bitch." I always wonder if the guy was kidding. Tonight, I personally called my friend a motherfucker, an asshole, and a motherfucking jack ass all in the span of three hours, and I don't think there were any hard feelings. Maybe Kerry just curses like a sailor. We're both from Massachusetts, maybe it's related to that.

New World Blogger has a great catch on a guy who found a bunch of notes, originally intended for a meeting with Donald Rumsfeld, left on a table at Starbucks. (I hope I have time this weekend to cover them in an independent post.)

Edwardpig dissects some of the latest Bush ads. Including digging up the stunning revelation that Kerry never once supported (in legislation, anyway) the dramatic "fifty percent gas tax" that is the centerpiece of one Bush commercial.

Chris Brown on "Random Acts of Bushness": Go out to your favorite restaurant. Tell the waiter/waitress how much you liked their service, that you approve of their waiter/waitress program, and then proceed to reduce their tip. There's more, and he's looking for suggestions. (I left a few in the comments area.)

Invisible Library is kicking out some poetry over there. Something must be in the air, it seems to be in the same spirit of my earlier post here.

Sooner Thought has Al Franken's Air America launch press release in its entirety. Gets me all fired up. Not to mention that the network is totally incredibly good. I listened to it and it is such a relief to be able to laugh with people on the radio instead of at them.

Archy has the shocking revelation that Jimmy Carter went medieval on Ralph Nader's ass.

Mustang Bobby with a brief history of the right vs left "entertainment wars".

NTodd reads the Economist so you might want to. The cover this month is a charmer.

Friday, April 02, 2004


So, Bush created 308,000 jobs last month. I guess he really fooled us, huh? He totally knew what he was doing this whole time! Man, that guy! That guy is crazy, making us think he was all clueless about how to create jobs for the last 3 and a half years. It was all a put on! What a card!

That means he's only lost 1.8 million jobs! Holy shit dude, he is a totally fucking unstoppable job creation machine!

Move Along People, Nothing To See Here 

Looks like somebody broke into the Scottsdale Arizona Democratic Party Headquarters and stole a whole bunch of computer hard drives with voter information, and then got vandalized yesterday.

Apparently this isn't big news, as it seems to have appeared in precisely one newspaper. The fourth estate has become so bloated it's sinking the whole damn ship. But there's this:

Local party officials aren't intimidated by the incidents. [...] "You don't get a group of individuals to staff an office in a Republican area that's just going to lie down and give up," Wercinski said.

"White Lies" 

Hey look, it's another serious allegation of blatant ethical and possibly legal misconduct by the White House!

This time it's the Plame Investigation.

Prosecutors investigating whether someone in the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say.

Insert an ironic "at least he doesn't cheat on his wife" comment here, just like you did for every other of the one hundred thousand scandals that have rocked this Administration, which once dared to run on the idea of bringing honor and integrity back to the oval office.

At this point, by the way, there are officially too many scandals to keep track of. So, I've come up with a handy little guide to catch you up on the season thus far, with handy links to fill you in. If you can think of any more, let me know in the comments.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Gag Order Me With A Spoon 

A New Allegation against the Bush Administration's handling of 9/11. And with it comes a new way to spell "al Qaeda", bringing the total to roughly 50,000.

Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".



Krugman's column today is about Lettermangate. Wild!

Hell Hath No Fury Like Howard Scorned 

Has anyone been to the Howard Stern web page lately? Yeah, I didn't think so. But you'd be surprised. That's not a deep link, either. That's the front page. One link away, however, is this: A litany of Bush-bashing news stories.

Stern's listeners, I think, are more prone to vote Republican if they vote at all. All of this, I think, is very good news.

All Things Fall and are Built Again 

...and those that build them again are gay. (Yeats)

John Derbyshire at the National Review is upset that the "Homosexualists" have ruined one of his favorite Yeats poems. Particularly, the poem Lapis Lazuli and particularly this line: "Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes, / Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay."

Derbyshire is all worked up in the way that I always assumed only closeted, repressed "homosexualists" can be. He says, I swear to God, "The problem is, of course, that you can't read this poem as it was meant to be read, because that key word has been trashed." Of course!

That word totally ruins everything. I mean, now I'm totally screwed up about West Side Story, for Christ's sakes. "I feel pretty, Oh so pretty! I feel pretty, and witty, and gay! And I pity any girl who isn't me today!"

But you know, isn't this just one more piece of the puzzle of conservative psychology? It seems to me that he may as well just write: "Some people are Gay, and now I am all hot and bothered about it, so when I encounter the word Gay in its alternate meaning, I myself cannot put the gays out of my head whilst reading my precious Yeats. Thus, the gays are the ones who have ruined Yeats and Marriage for me, and not, in fact, my incessant obsession with homosexuality. At all."

Seems like a stretch for the "personal responsibility" party, doesn't it?

April Fools Day 

Just wanted to say that I, by no means, will be posting any sort of April Fools Joke here today. Also, be careful, because more than likely some other asshole is gonna come and get you with one.

Bush To Give Suffrage to Embryo's 

Today Bush "strengthened his base" of Religious Fascists by signing the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. This act makes it an extra crime if, in your assault of a pregnant woman, you harm the collection of tissues in any developing embryo that might some day eventually plop out as a baby.

Here's my favorite little piece of the story: Bush has said he doesn't believe the country is ready to completely ban abortions; he opposes them except in cases of rape or incest or when pregnancy endangers a woman's life.

That's great George, so how about, if you're ever pregnant, you only have an abortion if you're a rape victim or your life is in danger? Then let every other pregnant woman decide on what their personal conditions are for an abortion. I just love how George Bush has decided on when abortion would be appropriate to his own sensibilities and then wants to legislate it to the people who, you know, can actually get pregnant.

There's also this: The legislation defines an "unborn child" as a child in utero, which it says "means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." Which means that, should a 15 year old boy be living in his mothers womb, it is protected by law, but if a Squirrel was, it isn't. I just love that they felt the need to make this distinction.

Of course anyone who speaks out against this law is speaking out against a law that protects pregnant women. I, as a liberal, am all for violence against pregnant women (just as I am in favor of Terrorism, Nuclear annihilation, and a 100% income tax rate). What gets lost in the bill, though, is the little notion of giving legal rights to a fetus, ie, giving a fetus the rights of a person.

So my question to Bush is, if a fetus is in development and decides to marry another developing fetus, is it okay if neither of them have developed sexual organs yet? Because there's a chance that it could turn into gay marriage eventually, right?

25% of 11,000: Those Lying Clintonistas 

Looks like the Bush Administration is refusing to give the 9/11 commission records from the Clinton Administration that shed light on Clinton's handling of terrorism. The Clinton Library has allowed 11,000 papers to be opened up five years early for the sake of the investigation, Bush has vetted all but 25% of those pages. "Slick Willie" Clinton's Lawyer is quoted in the story:

"I don't want (the commission) drawing the conclusion the Clinton administration didn't do X or Y and then there be a document that contradicts that and they didn't have access to that document because the current administration decided not to forward it to them."

Yes, that's a run on sentence. But remember when we had a President whose biggest "cover up" was an extramarital affair? Also, for the people who argue that Clinton should have been impeached for lying under oath (My Token Republican Friend, this means you!) what does it mean that Bush and Cheney refuse to testify under oath to the 9/11 commission? In other words, they're going to testify, but only if they are assured that there will be no legal repercussions if they decide to knowingly lie. Yeah, that's a totally normal thing to demand before you'll testify.


I don't know if you've been following this, but it is starting to border on disturbing.

On Monday, Letterman played a clip of Bush speaking at a podium, with people behind him, including a 12 year old boy, who was yawning, twisting his neck, touching his toes, with very evident boredom, as all the adults pretended not to notice him. CNN showed the clip in one of its token "lighter moment" bumpers, and then, inexplicably, the anchor says:

"All right -- had a good giggle before the break, that video was from David Letterman. We're being told by the White House that the kid, as funny as he was, was edited into that video, which would explain why the people around him weren't really reacting. So, that from the White House."

Later, on CNN, another anchor says the same thing on another broadcast. So Letterman shows this that night: "Now that, ladies and gentlemen, as sure as I'm sitting here, is an out-and-out, 100 percent absolute lie. The kid absolutely was there and he absolutely was doing everything we pictured via the videotape."

At which point, CNN states that there was never a call from the White House, and that it was a mistake. Which is fine. Until Wednesday night, when Letterman announces that he has a source that says the White House did contact CNN.

Then, there's that news article in the Washington Post, which says that Letterman was "joking" about that. I saw it, he wasn't. In fact, they write about it on the Late Show Website:

Something strange is going on, and Dave smells a cover up. CNN is now saying the White House never called them. But why would CNN say the White House HAD called if the White House never did? Hmmm. And Dave reveals that our source, a very good source, confirms the White House DID call the CNN. Hoo boy, this is getting interesting. While Condoleeza Rice is testifying in front of the 9/11 Commission, perhaps she can shed some light on this as well. Perhaps the White House truly believes the kid wasn’t there due to faulty intelligence."

So, we'll see what happens. I find it really amazing that this is happening, part of me thinks that, if this turns out to be true, it's one of the more interesting revelations over how the Bush White House operates. Alternatively, it's a really fucking weird statement about how CNN operates.

Bring Them On 

"There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: bring them on." - George W Bush

And then, this attack on American Civilians yesterday:

After the attack, a jubilant crowd of civilians, none of whom appeared to be armed, gathered to celebrate, dragging the bodies through the street and hanging two of them from the bridge. Many of those in the crowd were excited young boys who shouted slogans in front of television cameras.

Remember, this war was supposed to stop terrorism; instead it has spawned a generation of excited young boys printing up homemade signs that read "Fallujah is the cemetery for Americans".

The only thing you can really do to try to understand this is look at the past, why we're in Iraq, and it is all the more enraging to remember that we are there solely by virtue of a parade of damned lies followed by distortions and false promises. From "Meet the Press", March 16th 2003:

Mr. Russert: If your analysis is not correct, and we're not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

Vice President Cheney: Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.

Meanwhile, yesterday:

Associated Press Television News pictures showed one man beating a charred corpse with a metal pole. Others tied a yellow rope to a body, hooked it to a car and dragged it down the main street of town. Two blackened and mangled corpses were hung from the green, iron bridge spanning the Euphrates River. [...]

In all, at least 597 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the war began March 20, 2003. Of the total, 459 have died since May 1 when Bush flew onto an aircraft carrier off the California coast to declare the end of major combat. Kimmitt said that over the past week, there has been an average of 28 attacks daily against coalition military, compared with an average of just under 20 daily attacks in previous weeks.

The deaths don't shock me. What shocks me is how the war has to get ugly to a new extreme for Americans to temporarily realize that this is an ugly war. The war is chronically, persistently obscene and vile. It's the cancer hanging over our skies, it's what makes America what it is today: A Wartime Nation. The tension that taints laughter with a shred of guilt, where watching the news or listening to the radio breaks into news reports with shot gun fire, death counts and terrorist color code announcements. The tension of war, on this side of the shore, is a luxury compared to the tension of lives lived on the other side: a litany of children with PTSD being asked to carry the torch of a Democracy they didn't fight for, brought by way of a bombstorm, daily gun fire in the streets and constant military humiliation by a foreign and despised political force. We had 2 soldiers killed a day and the ivory tower watchmen told us, "well it's still not Vietnam." 28 attacks a day, it's still "no Vietnam."

"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" It's Kerry's question, and they'd ring a lot brighter if he hadn't voted to send us sailing directly into this distracting and suicidal fog. But now that the war is "getting ugly", how long will Americans sit at home and watch television with frustration and anger before they get into the streets?

Gay Marriage in Georgia 

Georgia Voters to Make Decision on Gay-Marriage Issue in Fall

Gee, I totally wonder how that one turns out.

"Lawmakers here and elsewhere, alarmed by events in California and Massachusetts, are pursuing constitutional amendments, arguing that while laws can be overturned on appeal, amendments provide a more resistant foil to judges who might find the law unconstitutional."

Sort of like banning the color pink, isn't it? IE, Banning a thing that you have no evidence is a source of harm just so you can prevent it from ever, ever potentially becoming a source of harm. Like the color pink- or, say, a small Middle Eastern Country.

Knee Jerk Police Declare War on Fashion 

Merrillville schools ban pink clothes.

Quote: "There is no evidence of gang activity. But because of the growing use of the color pink we decided to be proactive. Girls and boys are supposed to avoid wearing pink."

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