Saturday, June 12, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

It's dark under the table, and I'm going to bed. Wonder if we're going to be able to nail that slippery little scut on torture? Well, we can dream.

But everybody should bookmark Juan Cole. He's great. Keep reading down: One analytical gem after another. And The Rittenhouse Review gives the good news that the Freeway blogger made Le Monde

Hey, and maybe I'll have a Yeungling to help me drift off! Seriously, folks, I'm a fan of things Chinese, and for the first few weeks I was in Philly, I kept asking myself, "Why the Chinese beer?" The name Yeungling kinda reminded me of one of those pandas, don't you know.

Abu Ghraib torture: Sanchez, "ghost prisoners", and decoding the handwriting of the Fog Machine 

Yes, the leaks are coming fast and furiously. Since the show trials of the privates and specialists in Baghdad didn't work, The Fog Machine (original post) is looking for sacrificial victims further up the chain of command: the ol' "modified limited hangout" trick.

Not that Sanchez is a blushing innocent, but it's clear that the whole situation isn't of his making, any more than it's the fault of the "few bad apples." Anyhow, let's watch Sanchez being hung out to dry:

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, issued a classified order last November directing military guards to hide a prisoner, later dubbed "Triple X" by soldiers, from Red Cross inspectors and keep his name off official rosters.

I like the name "Triple X." Kinda makes you wonder exactly how he was tortured, and where the photos and videos are, doesn't it?

The disclosure, by military sources, is the first indication that Sanchez was directly involved in efforts to hide prisoners from the Red Cross, a practice that was sharply criticized by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba in a report describing abuses of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Taguba blamed the 800th Military Police Brigade, which guarded the prison, for allowing "other government agencies"--a euphemism that includes the CIA--to hide "ghost" detainees at Abu Ghraib. The practice, he wrote, "was deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine, and in violation of international law."
(via US News)

"Ghost prisoners," eh? Fog Machine material, for sure.

Sanchez, in his directive to the 800th MP Brigade--Fragmentary Order (FRAGO) No. 1099--identified [ghost prisoner "XXX"] by name, said he was a terrorist, and told the brigade not to put [ghost prisoner "XXX"]'s name in any electronic roster of detainees. He instructed the brigade not to disclose his whereabouts to the Red Cross pending further notice, military sources say.

Hmmm... So the important roster isn't electronic. I wonder where it is and who keeps it, then? And do any of our alert readers know what the heck a "Fragmentary Order" might be? Sounds like another loose link in the chain of command, to me. Fog Machine handwriting!

And to confirm the active operation of the Fog Machine, at the very end, we get this very interesting sentence:

Beginning last November, the military sources say, [ghost prisoner "XXX"] was kept alone, under guard in his own room, at the High Value Detention facility near the Baghdad airport.

Well, well, well. Guess that means the guys we were torturing and setting dogs on at Abu Ghaib weren't even really important, right? Since they aren't "high value."

The High Value Detention Facility

Here's information on the High Value Detention Facility. And guess what! There's Fog Machine handwriting all over it:

About 100 high-ranking Iraqi prisoners held for months at a time in spartan conditions on the outskirts of Baghdad International Airport are being detained under a special chain of command, under conditions not subject to approval by the top American commander in Iraq, according to military officials.

The unusual lines of authority in the detainees' handling are part of a tangled network of authority over prisoners in Iraq, in which military police, military intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, various military commanders and the Pentagon itself have all played a role.
(The Times, amazingly enough, via the Dallas Forth Worth Star Telegram.)

Funny, though, that the civilian contractors aren't mentioned. I wonder why that is?

And it looks like the High Value Detention facility is a second Abu Ghraib, and for all the same reasons. Fog Machine handwriting:

On 09 June 2003 there was a riot and shootings of five detainees at Camp Cropper [the High Value Detention (HVD) Site], operated by the 115th MP Battalion) Several detainees allegedly rioted after a detainee was subdued by MPs of the 115th MP Battalion after striking a guard in compound B of Camp Cropper. A 15-6 investigation by 1LT Magowan (115th MP Battalion, Platoon Leader) concluded that a detainee had acted up and hit an MP. After being subdued, one of the MPs took off his DCU top and flexed his muscles to the detainees, which further escalated the riot. The MPs were overwhelmed and the guards fired lethal rounds to protect the life of the compound MPs, whereby 5 detainees were wounded. Contributing factors were poor communications, no clear chain of command, facility-obstructed views of posted guards, the QRF did not have non-lethal equipment, and the SOP was inadequate and outdated.
(via GlobalSecurity.org)

The Fog Machine

Here again, we have the handwriting of a Fog Machine operation. (To review, back)

1. Deliberately confused chain of command. Both in the handling of Triple-X and at the HVD/Camp Cropper facility.

2. Deliberately vague policies. Separate books for high value detainees like Triple-X, and inadequate SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) at HVD/Camp Cropper.

3. Statements from high officials that encourage torture. That would be Bush, Rumsfeld, and by the act of signing the Fragmentary Order (surely not the only one?) Sanchez himself.

4. Subordinates are sacrificed to protect superiors. That would be Sanchez, eh?

The fifth feature:

5. Secret records kept on digital media there seems to be no evidence for. However, as we said, the name "Triple X" is suggestive both of the type torture he underwent, and the medium on which it might have been stored: video.

Sanchez just a fall guy

Reading between the lines, it seems clear that Sanchez didn't have real, operational control over any of the prison facilities, whether at Abu Ghraib or at the HVD site at Camp Cropper. The chain of command would have been too confused for that—and deliberately so. The torture was being done by uniformed military personnel without insignia, military intelligence, civilian constractors, the CIA, and God knows who. Sanchez couldn't have been responsible. It seems like Sanchez got tripped up by the "seam" between legal, Constitutional Army activity and illegal, unconstitutional Fog Machine torture operations. He needed to hand over a prisoner to the Fog Machine, but being in the Constitutional chain of command, he had to write an order to do so—the order that has now been leaked[1].

And who runs the Fog Machine? The White House, obviously (see the first quote back here).

Follow the bytes!

The interesting question—yet to be asked, let alone answered—is how information flowed from the Fog Machine in Iraq to the WhiteWash House. My money is on the civilian contractor->RNC/CPA->Pentagon Office of Special Plans->West Wing route, only because those are the usual suspects.

Hopefully, Seymour Hersh has been absent from the pages of the New Yorker because he is running this story down.

[1]. It seems unlikely to me that the person who leaked Sanchez's order would have been a whistleblower. As a rule, the true heroes of the Abu Ghraib story, the whistleblowers, have been very willing to give their names. So my theory is that someone higher than Sanchez is throwing him to the wolves. "It's expedient that one man die for the sake of the people."

NOTE Michael from Reading A1 has an excellent timeline of Sanchez's actions through the slowly exploding torture scandal. And yes, he is being hung out to dry.

Blogger spooge 

To the tune of Jingle Bells:

Blogger spooge
Blogger spooge
Blogger spooge today
Oh what fun it is to Stop
Mozilla loading page

s, and then hit the Refresh button.

Over and over.

Wish they'd fix this.

Memo to domestic terrorists: buy into the Rapture, get free pass  

Gee, I wonder if Oklahoma City bomber and mass murdurer Terry Nichols had become an Episcopalian in jail—or, perhaps, converted to Islam—the holdouts on the jury would have reacted the same way. Somehow, I don't think so.

Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols may have been spared the death penalty for a second time because a jailhouse conversion to Christianity gained him sympathy from the jury, lawyers in the case said Saturday.

"Terry Nichols' belief in God is so firm that he believes if the [R]apture occurred today he is going to heaven," defense attorney Creekmore Wallace told jurors.
(via AP)

Tell me it's not a great country... And FTF.

NOTE What on earth does these people's belief in the Rapture have to do with God? I don't get it.

Speed of Lightning, Power of Thunder 

Remember how long it took to get body armor for every soldier in Iraq? (I think it was last week that some general schmuck proudly announced that all were so outfitted.)

But see, sometimes the government is right on the ball:
(via "Fighting All who Rob or Plunder" NYT)

WASHINGTON, June 12 - The Bush administration said Saturday that it would rescind a federal policy that threatened to cut food stamp benefits for several million low-income elderly and disabled people who save money on their medicines by using the new Medicare drug discount cards.

Medicare officials said on Tuesday that they were unaware of the Agriculture Department policy and were surprised to learn about the imminent cuts in food stamps.

Dr. Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the drug card, which carries a $600 subsidy for low-income people, was not supposed to "take away any existing federal benefits."

The Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, said he received a telephone call this week from a constituent stating that her food stamp benefits were being cut because of the savings she would get with her discount card.
We do not know for a fact that Sweet Polly Pureheart lives in South Dakota, but maybe she retired there after leaving show biz, moved into an old missle silo and is now heavily armed and into the survivalist movement.

Abu Ghraib: Bush heaves Sanchez over the side? 

The operations of The Fog Machine continue: First, the privates and the specialists; now a general. Of course, Bush has only so many subordinates to blame....

Of course, as we suggest (at great length below), the real story isn't who gave the orders for torture; the real story is the chain of custody for the interrogation reports, photographs, and videos. Who in the West Wing was reading them? Who was viewing them?

In any case, R. Jeffrey Smith and Josh White report that it now looks like Sanchez gave orders that authorized some kinds of torture. And though that is bad enough, the story is just as noteworthy for what it does not say:

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq, borrowed heavily from a list of high-pressure interrogation tactics used at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. ... The U.S. policy, details of which have not been previously disclosed, was approved in early September, shortly after an Army general [Miller] sent from Washington completed his inspection of the Abu Ghraib jail and then returned to brief Pentagon officials on his ideas for using military police there to help implement the new high-pressure methods.
(via WaPo)

Great euphemism, that—"high pressure methods."

What the story doesn't say: Who, higher up in the chain of command, gave Sanchez his order?

One of the documents, an Oct. 9 memorandum on "Interrogation Rules of Engagement," which each military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib was asked to sign, sets out in detail the wide range of pressure tactics approved in September and available before the rules were changed on Oct. 12. They included methods that were close to some of the behavior criticized this March by the Army's own investigator, who said he found evidence of "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuse" at the prison.

What the story doesn't say: Anything about the civilian contractors and "other agencies" (CIA) who were also present and the interrogations.

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman did not defend these tactics. He said "there are a number of investigations that are looking not only into interrogation procedures and processes, but how they were implemented. The baseline standard for all interrogation as well as the security procedures for holding detainees has always been humane treatment."

What the story doesn't say: Whether Whitman believes that the Geneva Convention, a treaty signed by the United States, has the force of law. This goes to the heart of Bush's claim to have the "inherent authority" (back)to set aside the law. A simple claim of "humane treatment" sidesteps this question neatly (or could even be said to answer it, since the "baseline standard" is something other than the Constitution or the law).

For example, Spec. Luciana Spencer, a member of the 66th Military Intelligence Group who was removed from interrogations because she had ordered a detainee to walk naked to his cell after an interview, told investigators that the military police did not know their boundaries. "When I began working the night shift I discussed with the MPs what their SOP [standard operating procedure] was for detainee treatment," Spencer said in a statement. "They informed me they had no SOP. I informed them of my IROE [interrogation rules of engagement] and made clear to them what I was and wasn't allowed to do or see."

What the story doesn't say: Whether the lack of an SOP was deliberate. I believe it was: the operation of The Fog Machine.

A civilian contractor, Adel Nakhla, an interpreter for military intelligence, told investigators he was briefed on interrogation rules only after being implicated in an abusive event.

What the story doesn't say: Who briefed the civilian contractor? Who implicated him? And how many civilian contractors were never "implicated"? Note again the confusion of the chain of command; the operation of The Fog Machine.

when intelligence officers arranged for military police to help impose some of the more severe tactics, they often failed to specify how to do so, leaving wide latitude for potentially abusive behavior.

What the story doesn't say: Whether the "wide latitude" was deliberate. I believe it was: the operation of The Fog Machine.

Some of the rules for U.S. military personnel at the prison made it easy for people to duck responsibility for their actions, a factor that may also have opened the door to abuse.

The acronym MI "will not be used in the area," according to an undated prison memo titled "Operational Guidelines," which covered the high-security cellblock. "Additionally, it is recommended that all military personnel in the segregation area reduce knowledge of their true identities to these specialized detainees. The use of sterilized uniforms is highly suggested and personnel should NOT address each other by true name and rank in the segregation area."

Here is the crucial evasion in this story: "All military personnel in the segregation area reduce knowledge of their true identities to these specialized detainees". (I note, in passing, the curious use of the euphemism "special," which again suggests the operation of the Special Access Program (back).) But the real point, I suggest, was not that the interrogators hide their indentities from the prisoners; it was to hide them from each other. Here again, in the minutest of details, we see the operation of The Fog Machine, which seeks always to confuse the chain of commmand so that responsibility can be diffused.

So, what the story doesn't ask: How any policy directed only by Sanchez could have effect when soldiers, out of uniform, are mixed together with civilian intelligence personel, and civilian contractors?

The answer: It couldn't. Clearly, Sanchez—though no innnocent—is the fall guy here. And here again is the operation of The Fog Machine, which always seeks to protect superiors by sacrificing subordinates. Abu Ghraib, like the Iraq war itself, is a quagmire that the military was placed in by Bush.

And, again: Who saw the reports, videos, and photographs from Abu Ghraib? Follow the bytes!

Abu Ghraib: Cracks in the Bush stonewall? 

Hey, finally a WaPo story on intelligence that isn't bylined "Walter Pincus"! (Memo to R. Jeffrey Smith: Don't go up in any small planes. And have no communication with your brother, Winston.) Readers, sorry I missed this one; I can only plead that pressure of work kept my blogging light. Now, however, there's time to really dig in.

Summarizing: The Abu Ghraib story has all the features of what we've elsewhere called The Fog Machine (back): An extra-constitutional program that Bush authorized (back), parts of which have been uncovered by Seymour Hersh, that targets perceived enemies of the United States for torture and assassination. So let's read Smith's story through that lens.

[Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, an Army reservist was head] of the interrogation center at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq told an Army investigator in February that he understood some of the information being collected from prisoners [at Abu Ghraib] had been requested by "White House staff," according to an account of his statement obtained by The Washington Post.
(here via The Mighty Atrios)

Ah. So I guess some of the "bad apples" were in the West Wing. Who knew?

The reference by Jordan to a White House link with the military's scandal-plagued intelligence-gathering effort at the prison was not explored further by Taguba, whose primary goal at that time was to assess the scope of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The White House was unable to provide an immediate explanation.

I bet. And somehow, in all the foo-fraw about G8 and Reagan's funeral, they still haven't found time to respond.

But no reference has previously been made in the publicly available Abu Ghraib investigative documents to a special interest by White House staff.

Translation: Hitherto, subordinates have been blamed. The coverup and the stonewalling has worked. That is, The Fog Machine has operated as it was designed to do; Bush has maintained "plausible deniability."

The precise role and mission of Jordan, who is still stationed in Iraq and through his attorneys has declined requests to speak with the news media, remains one of the least well understood facets of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.

Translation: The visible chain of command has been deliberately confused. That is, The Fog Machine has operated to shield superiors from the acts committed by their subordinates.

[Other] military personnel [have described Jordan as] playing a key role at Abu Ghraib in overseeing interrogations; they have described him as being deeply involved in an incident on Nov. 24, 2003, when a detainee was confronted in his cell by snarling military dogs[1], which Taguba deemed a violation of the prisoner's rights.

I liked "deemed": It's a fine example of falsely "balanced" reporting. Still, the Post is to be commended for writing this story.

In a March 9 report on the abuse scandal, Taguba listed Jordan as one of four military intelligence officers he suspected were "directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib." [But] Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the chief military intelligence officer at the prison, said in his statement to Taguba that Jordan was working on a special project...

"Special," eh? Very special? Sounds a lot like the Special Access Program discovered by Seymour Hersh (back, again).

... for the office of Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, the top U.S. intelligence official in Iraq. He also described Jordan as "a loner who freelances between military intelligence and military police" officers at the prison. But Jordan, in the statement to Taguba, described himself as more of a functionary than a rogue operator.

Translation: Again, we see the deliberate confusion of the visible chain of command.

[Jordan] said he was aware of the "rules of engagement" approved by commanders for interrogations, which have been a topic of controversy. But the rules changed several times, and he did not clarify which set he relied on.

Translation: The rules of engagement and policies have been deliberately confused. That is, The Fog Machine is once again in operation. In the absence of clear directives, two things are possible: (1) the Stanford Effect (MTV (!!), here) comes into play, where the deepest impulses all humans share to mistreat those seen as "the other" can be managed and harnessed to implement a regime of torture, and (2) nods and winks[2] from those in positions of authority—Rumsfeld Bush—substitute for orders and regulations; "Do what you have to do," becomes the lawless norm.[3]

[Jordan] also said that an "OGA" team -- or Other Government Agency, a euphemism for the CIA -- known as Task Force 121 had caused problems by bringing detainees they had captured to Abu Ghraib and essentially dumping them without conducting any

Well, "follow up" (a euphemism for torture, no doubt) that we know about. Probably the "follow up" was left to civilian "contractors" outside the visible chain of command.

"It's a very cowboy kind of affair," he said of Task Force 121.

"Cowboy," eh? As in "Cowboy from the Great State of Texas"? Thanks for the hint....

One of [Jordan's] civilian attorneys, John Shapiro, described Jordan last night as "a fine soldier who was serving his country and is cooperating in every way with the investigations" into the abuse.

"Investigations," plural. I like that. Let's hope there's a Congressional investigation, too. Perhaps run by McCain? (Who, if he wimps out on this, will show that there's no decency left in the Republican party at all.)

The Fog Machine: Its handwriting

Summing up, we can dimly discern, as through a glass, darkly, the workings of The Fog Machine through its handwriting. Here are the features of its operation:

1. A deliberately confused chain of command

2. Deliberately confused rules of engagement and policies

3. Statements from high authorities that enable and encourage torture, in the absence of clear rules

4 .Subordinates are sacrificed to protect superiors, in the absence of a clear chain of command

The purpose of The Fog Machine is, of course, to protect Bush from accountability by providing him with "plausible deniability" for authorizing ad enjoying the fruits of an extra-constitutional and illegal system for torturing and assassinating percieved enemies[4].

Corrente's marketing department insists that I engage on criticism/self-criticism in that we (kinda) called this story a month ago:

The intelligence produced by The Fog Machine would [flow] from from civilian contractors/military intelligence people out of uniform to.... Where? Nobody will say. [Still true] My guess, FWIW, is that information flows through operatives at the RNC/CPA [Not known] right to the West Wing [Now known to be true] (that is, it's Iran-Contra all over again, just a thousand times worse).[Readers?] In consequence, it's highly unlikely that there are orders for torture flowing down from the West Wing; with the chain of command replaced by the fog machine, specific orders would not be needed. [Jordan says not true, but I'd be very surprised if there's anything on paper]It's highly probable, however, that information--in the form of digital photos, interrogation reports, perhaps voice--flowed up to the West Wing [Now known to be true—"information collected"]and is stored there, even today.[A question Smith does not ask] Over the top? Think: It seems that the abuses, though present since Afghanistan, became much worse during the hunt for Saddam. Can anyone seriously believe that interrogation results, and methods, for the Saddam hunt didn't flow up to the West Wing?

The Fog Machine: Follow the bytes!

Seymour Hersh has shown (back that the Abu Ghraib photos were not taken by the few "bad apples," but as a matter of policy. This gives us one final feature of The Fog Machine

5. Secret records kept on digital media.

Remember the photos Bush keeps in his desk? (back) The photos of (percieved) assassinated terrorist? Where, we might ask, do these photos come from? Thus, the question is, as it was ("Hersh: More units involved, photos part of process "):

Where were the photos stored, what was the chain of custody, and who has them now?

As in Watergate, the mantra was "Follow the money," so for Abu Ghraib the mantra should be "follow the bytes." Restoring Constitutional government in the United States demands on less.


[1] The use of dogs shows ("Who Let the Dogs Out") that the Abu Ghraib torture could not have been the work of a "bad apples"; there is an elaborate and well-documented process for when dogs may be used, maintaining their kennels, and so on.

[2] Bush's prejudicial statement, in the Plame Affair, that he didn't think the leaker would ever be found, was one such "nod and wink." His consistent use of religious language is another.

[3] In Germany, this style of leadership was known as Furherprinzip. That is, The Leader would set general guidelines, commit little to paper, and give few explicit orders. Subordinates, through a process known as "working toward the Fuhrer", were expected to known what He wanted, and take action on their own. Auschwitz was built on a foundation of nods and winks. Since we, in this country, have hitherto lived in a Constitutional democracy under the rule of law, we have had little opportunity to experience this style of leadership. Bush, however, seems determined to train us in it.

[4] Most of the discussion about the Bush administration's use of torture has focussed on the pragmatic issue of whether it is a useful intelligence tool (it isn't). However, one possibility goes unmentioned: That, for Bush, torture and assassination are simply tools of war, as rape and murdur were recently for the Serbians and the Hutus, as massacre was for the Nazis in World War II. These tactics for terrorizing enemies have a long history, going back to the Mongols, the Assyrians, etc. Of course, this would imply that Bush has already committed us not to a "war on terror" but to a true war of civilizations against Islam as such—as indeed His religious beliefs might impel him to do—but that is a prospect too dreadful to contemplate.

UPDATE Alert reader Brian Boru comments:

The key words from the Terror Q&A and the G8 press conference: "The authorization I issued." This is a document that must be brought out into the light of day (by way of a subpoena from Sen. Warner's committee?).

Unless, of course, the document doesn't really say anything. If the administration really is operating on fuhrerprinzip, it won't.

Voices from the Mountains 

Blogging from Appalachia. Since I grew up for a good deal of my cranky and disheveled existence in erin's neck of the regional wood I'm more 'en happy to point you here: BlueGrassRoots

BGR is a group blog with an emphasis on national/international issues as well as issues (labor/politics/history...), relevant to Kentucky and neighboring locales.

Friday, June 11 - Politics: Getting Out the Labor Vote in Depressed Battleground States
Hundreds of thousands of jobless Ohioans, West Virginians, and Pennsylvanians may call on Bush to put his mouth where his money is this fall. ~ erin

And where else can you help pass...
...a constitutional amendment officially renaming all Americans "Ronald Reagan."

Eh? So, visit Kentucky, and liberals in "Red States" (who are tougher because they gotta be), and women who can play fiddles and know a lot of Hazel Dickens songs...

Oh listen and you'll hear, theres changes in the air and a rumbling underground - we're marching hand in hand voices joined to take a stand and we'll sing the whole world round. We've come to plant the seeds of human rights and dignity and we won't be turned aside. And with Spring comining in with an Appalachian wind we are destined to arrive. ~ The Reel World String Band / Bios

Ok, thats it for me. I gotta go to the post office.


Friday, June 11, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Too much Reagan for me. You know, the endless repetition really does get to you. Like Reagan winning the Cold War—which was in fact the result of a bipartisan strategy, and one put in place by Democrats.

There's a term for the endless repetition of untruths, too... What is it... Can't think... Too... much... Reagan...

And the Rittenhouse review send us a sad story about Philly, and a Philly neighborhood. It's not all cheese steaks and Yuengling down here, you know.

Reagan hagiography claims its first victim 

Gee, sounds a lot like this guy was fired because he wasn't "politically correct," doesn't it:

A college disc jockey who put on a radio show celebrating Ronald Reagan's death was fired Friday from his position as the station's business manager.

Scott Hornyak, a 28-year-old undergraduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, had been suspended indefinitely from his disc jockey job at KSUA-FM after the Sunday show.

"They're firing me because of what I said, and the public's reaction to what I said," said Hornyak, who goes by the call name "Spider Bui."

H.B. Telling, the station's general manager, said he could not comment on whether Hornyak lost his job because of the broadcast. The university has a policy against discussing personnel issues.

No tape of the show was available. But according to Hornyak, he berated Reagan, who died June 5, for his foreign policy in Latin America, Iraq and Afghanistan, and for his response to the AIDS epidemic.
(via AP)

And it sounds to me like this guy got fired for speaking nothing more than the truth. Of course, in Bush's America, that's the ultimate transgression.

Here's the contact information for KSUA. Feel free to share your views on whether it's OK to tell the truth about Reagan with them; in a nice way, of course:

PO Box 750113 • Fairbanks, AK 99775
PH: 907.474.7054 • FX: 907.474-6314
FM: fyksua@uaf.edu • TV: fytv21@uaf.edu

Hey, they've already got a want ad up for a new DJ. They want someone who can "push all the right buttons." Emphasis on right, eh?

Fun with the October Surprise! 

Take the poll!

I Got My Mouse Set On You 

According to a post over at dKos some talented but tastleless winger is playing little games with the algorithms over at the Biggest Search Engine Named After A Very Large Number.

If you go looking for information about the Democratic National Convention via this search engine, somebody has done what's known as a "g**glebomb" which takes you to a very, very fake "official convention" page.

The way Gargle works, it ranks pages on similar topics by how many links from OTHER sites go to that page. Most times this works and the cream rises to the top. However, there are other biological products that float as well, and this fake site is one of them.

Rumor in the comment thread over there is that Guppie has a system to weed out links that appear within so many words of the word "G00gle," which is why all the creative misspellings here.

So accept no substitutions. Go click on the REAL DNC Convention Page. Heck, bookmark the thing and hit it every time you are bored. Spread the word. Defuse the bomb.

UPDATE: Mr. Toad in comments very kindly noted that the dKos link was bad. I *think* it's fixed now but if not, the Gugglebomb post is still near the top so a visit to the dKos main page should do well enough.

A fitting memorial 

Thanks to alert reader MJS:

It just occured to me: We could lobby Pfizer to put Reagan's likeness on a ten dollar pill.

[Rimshot. Laughter. "Thank you—you're a great audience."]

Sawdust Memories ~ Trees are Stupid Things 

Take Out an Entire Old Growth Forest in a Single Afternoon!

I was just reflecting on the cherished legacy of Ronald Reagan and his vision for America when I came across this actual item in an old copy of Popular Reaganics magazine. Except, back then, it was still called Popular Mechanics magazine.

"Mow down a forest like a field of wheat? Not even the legendary Paul Bunyan could do that. But wait - up in northern Montana a couple of ingenious engineer-contractors have built mowing machines that slash through timber just the way a threshing machine moves through a grain field. Trees 100 and 150 feet tall topple over like straws. Between breakfast and lunch two men and their equiptment can mow down as much as 100 acres of virgin forest." - Popular Mechanics, August 1950

Wow. I can barely locate a pair of clean socks between breakfast and lunch. That just sends fond nostalgic chills up my spine. It also reminded me of one of my favorite old Ronald Reagan "Wise Use" land management documentary films titled:

"The Big Stupid Trees".
Starring Ronald Reagan as Slim Talent the charismatic twinkle eyed timber baron "outsider" and James "Second Coming" Watt as Slash Burns his trusted hatchetman. Together they set out to clearcut northern California's entire Trinity National Forest and sell it to NY Post newpaper publisher Dominique Franco, who, many of you will remember from Ayn Rand's classic paranoid melodrama the "The Showerhead". Things go astray when Slim falls for the beautiful Alice Schadwickski, a Polish Jewess from White Plains, New York, who converts to Christianity and convinces Slim to instead harvest the big wood and construct a forty five thousand acre multi-media Pentecostal mega-church and resort convention center at the top of Big Bar Mountain. Romance and religious hanky-panky among the carbon monoxide spewing ferns and fauna ensues. There is even a thrill filled whiteknuckle bulldozer chase across a rope bridge which delivers several minutes of hair mussing tension. Love, unshakeable moral conviction, boundless optimism, and steely strength of character conquer all in the end when Slim Talent confronts a fanatical deep Quaker pine cone worship cult with a hewing axe and Slash Burns tells Dominique Franco, "they kill good trees to put out liberal newspapers," and "I have converted a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have dominion!" At which point he hurls himself into a misty gorge rather than allowing himself to be captured by angry Ku Klux Klansmen, betrayed Georgia-Pacific Plywood & Lumber Company executives, and a posse of drunken Florida real estate developers representing the US Chamber of Commerce.

Its a fabtastic adventure thriller for the entire family and one of Ronald Reagan's finest performances. Rent it on DVD today! Or purchase the entire set of Ronald Reagan film memorabilia from the Ronald Reagan Historic Legacy Story Project. Furthermore, in honor of the beloved former Governor, President and world leader, the RRHLSP will donate a portion of each purchase to The Ronald Reagan Legacy National Memorial Theme Park Restoration Project on behalf of efforts to rename northern California's entire national forest region - from Happy Camp to Clear Lake - The Ronald Reagan National Sawdust Wilderness.


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

It's been three days, right? Is Reagan still dead?

One Eye Blind and the Other Half Shut 

Couple o' stories here that are, I think, five and three days old respectively. I doubt in any case that they have "aged out" or that the circumstances they describe do not still obtain.

So you thought maybe the slacking off in Awful News out of Iraq--as opposed to "awful news ABOUT Iraq but coming from Washington"--actually meant what the Chimp in Chief wanted you to think it meant, that "violence is dying down" and "things are getting better there"?

Ha. This turns out not to be the case (a phrase that is a useful alternative to yelling "BULLSHIT!" on such occasions when that would not be tactful). If you have entertained such a thought, take your brain out for a quick washing, because it has been stained from excessive exposure to Reaganecrophilia, however inadvertent.

(via WimpPo) (as in Kipling, "The Elephant's Child" and the "great gray-green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees"):
Good reporting is as urgently needed as ever, with lives and the political futures of perhaps two countries at stake. But it has never seemed more dangerous. Kidnappings and ambushes have driven most foreign civilians out of the country, or into bunkers guarded by U.S. soldiers. For journalists, the familiar rules of engagement have been stripped away. Gone is the assumption that correspondents are more valuable as witnesses than as targets, and that they share only the risks that all civilians face in wartime. To insurgents, foreign journalists are foreigners first, just another element of an occupying force to which we don't belong.

An atmosphere of particular menace has diminished independent reporting about the conflict, especially since the Sunni and Shiite uprisings began in April. Original and courageous work is still coming from the best journalists. But the overall effect has been to separate correspondents from the story they're in Iraq to cover....

Foreign journalists in Baghdad live outside the Green Zone...but an unintended consequence of the Green Zone's creation is to have transformed the rest of Iraq into the Red Zone, presumably hostile.

Correspondents try to keep a low profile. Post reporters and photographers do not conduct interviews with armed escorts, as do some media organizations. Journalists do not wear body armor in most settings so as not to appear to be government contractors or paramilitaries.

But there are areas where firsthand, independent reporting is not possible. This has made us more reliant on official sources, especially on American authorities.

Most profoundly, the threat of violence has distanced us from Iraqis. In a narrow sense, it has left unanswered critical questions about the forces opposing the occupation. Who is the enemy? What does its religious and political identity say about the future of the country and the U.S. presence there?

Reporting Iraqis' views and aspirations seems more critical today than at any point since the invasion. This is a story waiting to be told.

And now from AP, I lost the name of the paper it was in:

YOUSEFIYA, Iraq (AP) -- American soldiers liberated this village from the subjugation of Saddam Hussein, but you wouldn't know it by the way townspeople look at those soldiers — with utter contempt.

Friday, as a column of three Humvees, three Bradley Fighting Vehicles and two M-1 tanks rolled through the Yousefiya market, Iraqis along the streets either turned away, gave the soldiers dark sidelong glances or just sneered at them unabashedly. Nobody waved.

The MPs have grown accustomed to the evil eye they get in Yousefiya. They ignored the townspeople, watching out for roadside bombs and snipers instead.

[On patrol,] one of the soldiers tripped over a fuse and some wire and followed it to a 250-kilogram aerial bomb buried in the roadway just around the corner from the station.

More explosives had been packed around it, and the whole device weighed between 400 and 500 pounds. The ordnance disposal unit dispatched to disarm the bomb did not want to detonate it in place, fearing it would level the whole block

Many soldiers of the 1165th believe planting such a large bomb had to be a veritable public works project, that some Iraqi police at the station, less than 200 yards away, had to know the bomb was there, that half the town had to know as well.

"I told the [Iraqi police the unit was training] that the whole village knew they were working with us, that this was not a secret to anyone, but they wouldn't budge from the station," said Lewis.

The patrol was scrubbed. Whereas fear held this fractious part of Iraq together under Saddam, hatred for the United States holds it together today..

Shrink to Bush: "Those childhood memories of torture... Would you like to talk about them?" 

OK, psychoanalysis of a public figure from written sources and the media is just a parlor game. But hey! Inerrant Boy might take us all down with him, so we'd better analyze Him with the tools that we have, however inadequate. And Georgetown psychoanalyst Justin Frank has done just that in a new book:
  • Bush's false sense of omnipotence, instilled within him during childhood and emboldened by his deep investment in fundamentalist religion
  • The president's history of untreated alcohol abuse, and the questions it raises about denial, impairment, and the enabling streak in our cultures
  • The growing anecdotal evidence that Bush may suffer from dyslexia, ADHD, and other thought disorders
  • His comfort living outside the law, defying international law in his presidency as boldly as he once defied DUI statutes and military reporting requirements
  • His love-hate relationship with his father, and how it triggered a complex and dangerous mix of feelings including yearning, rivalry, anger, and sadism
  • Bush's rigid and simplistic thought patterns, paranoia, and megalomania -- and how they have driven him to invent adversaries so that he can destroy them

(via Bush on the Couch)

Not to mention narcissism (back).

Funny how the well-documented story about Bush torturing small animals as a child makes it, shall we say, entirely reasonable that Bush not only condoned but encouraged a policy of torture as an adult, even if with winks, nods, and "plausible deniability."


Department of Dodging the Question: Bush on torture and Republican lawlessness 

I hear dodgeball is the sport of the moment. Maybe Inerrant Boy could give lessons:

Bush said Thursday he ordered U.S. officials to follow the law while interrogating suspected terrorists, but he sidestepped an opportunity to denounce the use of torture.

Bush's comments came as a 2-year-old State Department document surfaced warning the White House that failing to apply international standards against torture could put U.S. troops at risk.

"What I've authorized is that we stay within U.S. law," Bush told reporters at the close of the G-8 summit in Savannah, Ga.

Asked if torture is ever justified, Bush replied, "Look, I'm going to say it one more time. ... The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you."
(via AP)

"That ought to comfort you?" WTF??!?!

Right. It does sound comforting—until you remember that under the Bush theory of divine right, Bush, ruling by decree, defines what the law is (back). Suddenly I don't feel so comforted.

And since when do American citizens—I love the casual sense of ownership implied by "our people" (i.e., the help)—need "authorization" or "instruction" to obey the law? That says more about the lawlessness of the Bush administration than anything I've heard so far.


Did they really think they were the only people who might be counting?

WASHINGTON — The State Department is scrambling to revise its annual report on global terrorism to acknowledge that it understated the number of deadly attacks in 2003, amid charges that the document is inaccurate and was politically manipulated by the Bush administration.

Politically manipulated? No way. Just because the Bush administration hailed it as objective proof that "we're" winning the war on terror? (Was there ever a less winnable war, as opposed to, say, confronting the issue of international terrorism with an eye to protecting ourselves against it, combating it, and most of all, looking at what might just be causing it?) Of course the State Department knows better than to use a word like "winning."

"Indeed, you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight" against global terrorism, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said during a celebratory rollout of the report.

Not so fast, even with the "prevailing," Richard. At least one other person was countring.

On Tuesday, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) applauded the State Department for deciding to reissue the report, a step he requested in a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell three weeks ago. But Waxman said the Bush administration so far had refused to address his allegation that it manipulated the terrorism data to claim victory in the U.S.-declared war on terrorism.

"This manipulation may serve the Administration's political interests," Waxman wrote in his May 17 letter to Powell, "but it calls into serious doubt the integrity of the report."

Several State Department officials vehemently denied their report was swayed by politics. "That's not the way we do things here," said one senior official.

Another senior official characterized the errors as clerical, and blamed them mostly on the fact responsibility for the report recently shifted from the CIA (news - web sites) to the administration's new Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

No wonder the National Review folks refer to Representative Waxman as "despicable."

Several U.S. officials and terrorism experts familiar with that revision effort said the new report will show that the number of significant terrorist incidents increased last year, perhaps to its highest level in 20 years.

Read more about how and what Waxman noticed here.

Give Me That Old-Time Religion 

If I understand this latest Republican brainstorm correctly, allow me to make the following the suggestion. If the law passes, every liberal advocacy group should immediately reincorporate as a church. NARAL could become Our Lady of the Inviolate Uterus, for example, and MoveOn PAC could become the Church of the Postponed Apocalypse. Tenets would be simple: followers would have to speak in complete sentences and renounce torture and kleptocracy. From then on, every ad and political endorsement would carry the disclaimer from the Rev. Zack Exley or St. Kate Michelman that they are "acting as a private citizen and not on behalf of his religious organization." Voila! Every donation would become tax deductible. No more pesky sec. 527 lawsuits either. Hallelujah!

Everything's Coming Up Reagan 

Introducing the Ronald Wilson Reagan Heroic Legacy Story Project.

Many Americans won't remember the great contributions Ronald Reagan made to our nation. Many were too young to remember. Many were too old. Many were either too old or too young but won't remember in any case because they simply can't remember much of anything in the first place. They couldn't even tell you, to this very day, who it is that straddles the coin operated horsy ride in the current White House. "George W. Bush?" they will ask, "why he's that feller who sells that cheap canned beer, ain't he?" Sigh.

But I remember Ronald Reagan, the great legacy, the heroic derring do, the swashbuckling naval sea battles off the coast of Grenada, adventurous safaris spent pursuing the woolly mammoth herds across the Great Plains of Indiana, balmy tropical mornings devoted to clearing trumpet vine with beloved world leaders such as General Efrain Rios Montt, or sharing a ketchup sandwich and a bowl of chewy colorful jellified candy beans with a needy mujahideen freedom fighter. Oh yes, those were hallelujah days my fellow citizens, days of moral clarity and chivalrous regal splendor. Lacquered bygone days of yesteryear that I'd like to return you to once more.

Therefore I have prepared a retrospective of bold and resolute leadership moments from the life and times of Ronald Wilson Reagan. I myself was raised by devout Christian conservative Republicans and larn'd in Wyoming where I attended a humble one room homeschool located at the bottom of a Christian uranium mine just north of Whiskey Gap and southwest of the Rattlesnake Hills. So I know a lot about stuff that they won't tell you about in the cultural Marxist public schools.

One of the most well known of the little known facts about Ronald Reagan is this: He was one of the American heroes who helped liberate the islands and quaint fishing villages of Southern California's Gulf of Catalina coastal waters. Isles and towns and hamlets liberated from ferocious Sandinista Naval forces and PFAW leftist insurgents commanded by the brutal anti-American way strongman General Norman "Sitcommunist" Lear. If it hadn't been for Ronald Wilson Reagan and his trusted allied war buddy Col. Rhett Ralston III (depicted lower left in the historic PR magazine cover painting), many of the major defense contractors and excellent beach front real estate small mom and pop business investment opportunities now flourishing in freedoms splendor along Southern California's God fearing freedom loving Protestant shores would not be with us today.

Few have heard of Col. Ralston but he was one tough marble and a fearless defender of western Christian values and the honor of chaste young women. In this painting we are captivated by that moment, in the late afternoon hours, just prior to the full scale beachhead landing and liberation of San Clemente, when Col. Rhett Ralston III unzips his pants fly to pee upon one of the many thirty foot long man eating sharks circling the very spot where he and his buddy Commander Ronald Reagan wade in four and a half feet of dangerous man eating shark infested waters off Onofre Beach. Thats how tough he was. He could pee on the Devil underwater.

Commander Reagan is depicted, at right, signaling the pilot of the resupply plane (Ace fighter pilot Bob Dornan, aka: 'Beverly Hills Bob'), as it drops red personal assault pool noodles to the special forces assault commandos waiting to move ashore. Highly absorbent, yet buoyant, and weighing nearly seventy pounds each when fully saturated with sea water, these stealthy and flexible space age polymer enemy personnel battering batons could be easily floated ashore with a man and then used to force open the doors of beachside bungalows harboring liberal funded reefer crazed National Endowment for the Arts supporters or to break up feminazi eco-terror environmentalist networks operating clandestinely up and down the coast from Laguna Beach to Oceanside.

A young homosexual immigrant from old Europe remembers the liberation of Onofe Beach. That young immigrant is today none other than author, journalist, weblog giant and respected conservative homosexual foreigner Andrew Sullivan. Listen in as Andrew recounts for us those historic events on that fateful day in Southern California those many many years ago:

[Onofre Beach | the Gulf of Catalina | many many years ago] It was just before sunset and a group of us gay blokes had assembled at a residence along the beach to listen to loud thumping subversive music and exchange unnatural sexual favors with an aging French costume designer from Sherman Oaks. Then, just before dusk, we heard a low guttural groan from the direction of the ocean. Several of us scampered onto the deck overlooking the sand and what we saw left us frightened and distressed, yet, at the same time, utterly enthralled. For striding straight ahead in our direction, up the beach from the waters edge, were perhaps a half dozen large strapping virile men, dark khaki weekender shirts open to mid abdomen, heaving muscular chests and hairy backs straining against the weight of their soaking garments and gear, each cradling his own huge wet red personal assault pool noodle before him as he advanced toward us in the quickening twilight. It was an ungodly sight to see, let me tell you, and one young man to my left began muttering "oh mercy me, oh mercy me!" and then fainted in a heap on the deck planks. Others began frantically rushing about arranging chaise loungers and lighting bayberry candles and fussing with the Japanese lanterns that swung from the arbors above the fray. It was very confusing and events were unfolding rapidly and the last thing I can recall before the swaggering marauders overran our position was Mr. 'Sherman Oaks' appearing in the doorway wearing nothing but a pair of women's' circa 1960's white go-go boots and a tangerine bolero jacket with little round silver bells sewed to the sleeves. Then, all manner of chaos broke loose.

As I said, it was very confusing and there was a great deal of noise and yelling and general altogether excitement as the invaders clamored up the boardwalks and onto the patio. The thumping subversive music and overpowering odor of cocoa oil, suntan lotion, Mennen skin bracer, and burning bayberry scented wax filled the air with a sickly madness. Screeching feminazi environmentalists were fleeing across the dunes in the distance and sweaty deeply tanned men were running here and there and some were squealing and some screaming like little girls do when a spider crawls up their stocking and others were grunting savagely as the scary handsome men from the ocean poked and prodded them with their huge swollen red assault noodles and the music went thump thump thump and the waves in the sea went crash crash crash.

At some point I was thwacked up side me coinkidink with a fully engorged noodle and rolled over onto a rubber air mattress where I lay exhausted and panting like a swamped tuna. The last thing I recall hearing was the jingling of little bells moving farther and farther off into the din. Then I passed out. When I awoke I had been moved, carried inside, and splayed out upon a sofa. Our captors were interrogating members of the group and the thumping music was gone, replaced by a recording of Gene Autrey singing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart", and the sound of a lone mans voice filled the room. He was charming his listeners with old memories of General Electric Theater days and the wonders of the Walker Bulldog T-41 lightweight tank. As I became more coherent I realized that the interrogation was more like a get together and someone was moving around the room with a tray of finger sandwiches and filling snifters from a bottle of Cognac. 'Sherman Oaks' was nowhere to be seen and I was told some years later, from undisclosed senior sources familiar with the events of that evening, that he had been whisked away in a black sedan, driven to the border, and eventually sold to a Mexican crime family in Tijuana. But I can't verify that.

But thats not important. What really captured my attention that evening was the overwhelming physical and emotional attraction I felt to the charismatic leader who had led the invasion of our humble beach on that evening so long ago. And that man was Ronald Wilson Reagan, the man behind the voice that stood above the rest.

Commander Reagan told us of his romantic lifelong love affair with his wife Nancy and of his fondness for horses and Barbara Stanwyck's performance with Robert Young in "Runaway Daughter". And he explained to us his plan to shift a greater proportion of the property tax burden to lower and middle income Americans so that they too can once again feel as though they are making a valuable contribution to the American dream. He spoke of great shining cities high on hill tops and filled with shimmering durable consumer goods purchased on limitless credit; and rocket ships that fire spacebased laser beams at commie spy machines zooming wildly about in the heavens above; and he told us how he and Nancy and Barry Goldwater had each won gold medals at the summer Olympic games in Innsbruck Austria in 1954, soundly defeating the Soviet gymnastics team once and for all and for evermore. Uh, I don't think that last part was entirely accurate, but who cares, he was such a nice guy, and so optimistic. Does it really matter if any of it really happened exactly like that or not? No, I don't think it does, because, he was soooo optimistic. And he could tell a funny joke and then just fall asleep on a dime. He had complete command of the world around him and everyone in it. Especially me. And he was sooo optimistic. I never did learn if he was the one who thwacked me in the coinkidink with his red pool noodle that night but I like to think he was. Even if I have to pretend.

Isn't history something? Of course, if you were not homeschooled inside of a Ferrolum lead clad steel air filter in East Texas like I was then you probably have little knowledge of the many many true facts which constitute the Reagan Legacy. And that's why I'm here. To help you learn.

NEXT ISSUE: The Contras. So misunderstood, yet sooo optimistic.

End Notes:
Col. Rhett Ralston later went on to be a successful partner in a cat food canning and manufacturing company located near Vail, Colorado. Sadly he was gunned down by a crazy woman from Bradenton, Florida brandishing an assault weapon who claimed she was reduced to eating cat food to survive and ultimately driven mad by the experience. She also claimed to be the illegitimate love child of Mathew Cvetic - but no one believed her. The 'Col. Rhett Ralston III Catamaran Marina' on Catalina Island was so named in his honor.

General Norman Lear and his leftist insurgents were eventually driven from Southern California and forced to retreat to a small island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts where they remain in hiding to this day.

Gene Autrey went on to record many more cowboy songs and appear in movie pictures with his little darlin' Mary Lee.

On August 3, 1959 - Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev debated each other on the set of a model American kitchen during an exhibition in Moscow.

Ace pilot Bob 'Beverly Hills' Dornan went on to crash three military jets, one helicopter, and a 150HP Simplicity ride on lawn mower and was subsequently driven from political office by angry mobs and sold to a crime family in Fairfax county Virginia.

On March 7, 1974 - Ronald Reagan, responding to the Symbionese Liberation Army's ransom request of free food for the poor, remarked: "Its just too bad we can't have an epidemic of botulism" (whatever that means), which further angered the crazy woman from Bradenton, Florida, and made many people at the Ralston Cat Food Company very nervous.

June 2004 - 'Popular Mechanics' magazine was officially renamed 'Popular Reaganics'.

On August 26, 2004 - Andrew Sullivan, following a desperate unsuccessful search for a French costume designer from Sherman Oaks, was devoured by sharks while peeing in the ocean off the coast of Cabo San Lucas.

To this very day you can still purchase red pool noodles for your children to play with in the swimming pool or backyard. Now made of harmless atomic age Styrofoam-like stuff these red pool noodles are a pleasant reminder of a bygone era as well as remarkable facsimiles of the very same red pool noodle assault weapons Ronald Reagan and Col. Rhett Ralston carried onto that beach in Onofre, California those many many years ago.


The Fire Next Time 

Florida Today ran an editorial yesterday. They called it "Defending the Ballot" which is a noble title.

I'm not feeling noble. Nobility is what cost us the theft of Florida last time, failing to protest the purge of voter lists ahead of time, failing to defend the recount, backing down in the face of goons and thugs and mob violence. We knew something crooked was going on, but we let our voices be drowned out by cries of "Let the process work."

Well, drowned was what we got all right, and now we're floating around in this world that none of us would have recognized in that November of 2000. And they're setting up to do it again

There's a line, I suppose it's from an old song. James Baldwin used it to express some of his own rage, but I don't imagine he'd mind if I used it too:

And God gave Noah the rainbow sign:
No more water, but the fire next time

I'm posting nearly the whole thing, but I would encourage readers to click through the link anyway, for one reason: at the bottom of the page is a nice, easy "Comment on this story" link. Go there. Comment. Commend them.

Encourage good behavior, as we say. Let them know that far beyond the shores of Cocoa Beach, thousands of people are watching and remembering and cheering them on.

Defending the ballot

Hiding voter information undermines confidence in the democratic system

Florida and the nation must not endure another presidential election disaster.

With five months to go before the Nov. 2 vote, time is running out to restore trust in the ballot and the confidence of the public in the democratic process.

That's why Gannett newspapers in Florida, including FLORIDA TODAY, are joining CNN, other news organizations, the Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Tallahassee, in a suit seeking public access to state voter lists.

Set for a hearing today, the suit asks a Leon County circuit judge to throw out a 2001 law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature that shuts off public access to lists of voters.

Even more critical, the law refuses public access to a list of those the state says are felons to be removed from the rolls.

Mistakes on the list mean qualified voters would be rejected at the polling place, with no defense against being refused their most basic rights as citizens.
Think it's not a problem?

Before the 2000 election, a private company hired by the state named thousands of people felons, purging them from voter rolls.

Later reviews showed more than 1,000 voters were wrongly purged. George W. Bush won by 537 votes.

In Florida, which has a long record of open government under the Sunshine Laws, keeping voting lists virtually secret is absolutely unacceptable.

Even worse, this wrongheaded law does the opposite of what a democracy should do, which is accommodate -- not frustrate -- every possible oversight of voting procedure...

So far, 47,000 voter names are set to be purged, as gathered by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. And already, a review in Leon County shows problems with 10 percent of the records.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood claims allowing public access to voters lists would be "an invasion of privacy."

Tell that to the candidates who bombard voters with campaign mailings matched to voters' parties, neighborhoods, voting records, use of absentee ballots and other information available through databases.

Hiding lists only undermines voter confidence, and Nelson is right when he says the public must have access, "to check and doublecheck" that the lists are not wrongly slamming the door on qualified voters.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

One more day of Reagan, right? It is just one more day? Tell me it's one more day...

Say, I wonder if we could bring some of those embalming experts over from the former Soviet Union, so they could give Reagan the same kind of wax job they gave Lenin...

Kind of a "Reagan under glass" concept, you know? The glass being necessary to protect even the most well-preserved of corpses from the corrosive effects of winger drool.

Or maybe load the casket onto a humongous refrigerated catafalque and just leave it there in the Rotunda as a permanent exhibit...

Or ship the casket to Inerrant Boy's ranch in Hellmouth, TX, and have the TV guys use it for a backdrop instead of that stupid tractor or bale of hay or whatever they're using this week...

Or maybe just drag the casket on over to the WhiteWash House family quarters and dump it in the middle of the Bush double bed—give Him a new kind of lump to crawl over (or not) on His way to the goat He keeps in the closet...

Endless possibilities, eh?

America's had 42 Presidents—but only one King! 

And no, we're not talking about Elvis.

We've been writing (back) that American is in a death spiral of Constitutional Government, started by Nixon, intensified by Reagan, and culminating with Bush. Here's that bad seed, ol' Tricky Dick, stating the case for an American monarchy on David Frost:

[FROST] So what in a sense you're saying is that there are certain situations . . . where the President can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.
[NIXON] Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.
[FROST] By definition.
[NIXON] Exactly.
(quoted the fine blog Balkinization)


Exactly like Bush's so-called "inherent authority to set aside the law" (back).

L'etat, c'est moi!

Rapture index closes down 1 on lack of climate activity 


NOTE Then again.....

Iraq occupation: Long hot summer 

More proof that we're winning.

Saboteurs blew up a key northern oil pipeline Wednesday, forcing a 10 percent cut on the national power grid as demand for electricity rises with the advent of Iraq's broiling summer heat.

The U.S.-run coalition had made its ability to guarantee adequate electricity supplies a benchmark of success in restoring normalcy to Iraq. However, sabotage and frayed infrastructure have impeded efforts to eliminate power outages, especially in the capital.

More than a year after the occupation began, power cuts are common nationwide, in some places topping 16 hours a day. Demand is rising with the advent of summer, with temperatures already topping 100 degrees.
(via AP)

And I thought Philly was bad...

Read it and weep 

A Nation of Enablers 

While it's always gratifying to see the Washington Post finally get a clue, it's less so when it replaces one set of Official Lies with another in the process:

For decades the U.S. government has waged diplomatic campaigns against such outlaw governments -- from the military juntas in Argentina and Chile to the current autocracies in Islamic countries such as Algeria and Uzbekistan -- that claim torture is justified when used to combat terrorism.
(via Eschaton)

One needn't review the sordid history of Nixon Administration's complicity in Pinochet's overthrow of democracy in Chile (9/11/1973, appropriately enough), the Carter Administration's reliance on the Argentinian junta to provide asylum to Somoza and the Nicaraguan National Guard after the Sandinista triumph, or the Reagan Administration's cynical distinction between good "authoritarian" regimes, whose human rights abuses were excusable, and bad "totalitarian" ones.

Consider instead a more proximate nexus between today's national disgrace and yesterday's conveniently forgotten crimes. Writing last month in Online Journal, Chilean activist Tito Tricot notes that the U.S. was using many of the same people in Abu Ghraib that tortured his people under Pinochet:

Allow me ... to express my scepticism regarding Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt`s statement saying he was "horrified" at the abuse committed by his troops on Iraqi prisoners of war. Because the use of torture is nothing new for US troops, in fact, back in 1996 it was discovered that the School of the Americas, that had then been moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, included torture manuals in their academic syllabus. These manuals recommended the utilization of intimidation, executions, beatings and kidnappings, among other torture techniques, to obtain information from the enemy.

Therefore, what happened at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad cannot come as a surprise....

There is another frightening connection between Chile and Iraq, for the United States' partial privatisation of the war has reached our continent too. The US Blackwater Security firm has recruited at least 135 Chilean mercenaries to travel to Iraq to perform security duties. Needless to say they hired former members of the dictatorship's repressive apparatus and Special Forces. They were trained at a company installation in Moyock, North Carolina, but they also underwent training on Chilean soil. Indeed, at a secret location in El Arrayan, eastern Santiago, they organised their own paramilitary training camp. This, of course, is prohibited under Chilean law, but for some unknown and strange reason, Chilean authorities seemed to have turned a blind eye to the activities of "Red Tactica" Consulting Group, the local subsidiary of Blackwater. Thus, the first hundred of an expected total of 800 Chilean mercenaries left for Iraq.

Many would like to think that the unfolding disaster that is the Bush Administration is something sui generis in our country's history, but it's not. The difference is quantitative, not qualitative. Our national culture has been dysfunctional for decades, at nearly every level. And as any student of dysfunctional relationships knows, an essential component is self-deceit. The groundwork for the current Administration's usurpation was laid by years of complacent, self-regarding crap like this from the media, punctuated only by brief spasms of fake self-scrutiny when the official lies can no longer be sustained.

Daddy doesn't get like this because he's had a bad day, or because Mommy did something wrong. Daddy is like this because he's sick, and has been for a long, long time. Moreover, he acts like this because we let him. The rest of the family needs to confront this truth, if it's to put a stop once and for all to its long, sad, downward slide.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

NOBODY expects the Texas Inquistion!

Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to [Dear Leader].... Our four...no... Amongst our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.
(via Here)

Except it isn't really funny, is it?

Isn't it time to admit that the religious fanaticism of the Republican base, and the Bush administration's willingness to use torture against non-Christians, are one and the same thing?

That is, JeeboFascism? FTF...

Republican lawlessness: House to give churches a "mulligan" on campaign violations 

Though it would be interesting to see if this was applied to any churches that gave Democrats money:

Republicans in the House of Representatives have quietly introduced a measure to make it easier for churches to support political candidates, just days after the Bush campaign came under fire from liberal groups for inviting church members to distribute campaign information at their houses of worship.

As usual, when the Republicans are caught, they just intensify their wrong-doing.

The provision, called Safe Harbor for Churches...

Love the Orwellian language!

would allow religious organizations a limited number of violations of the existing rules against political endorsements without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status. The bill, now proceeding on a fast track, is scheduled to move from committee to presentation on the House floor next week. I

Just in time lawmaking! And here comes the best part!

It would greatly reduce the tax penalties for either one or two deliberate political endorsements in a calendar year and would also allow a church to make as many as three "unintentional" political endorsements in a calendar year without penalty. It does not define "unintentional.''
(via NY Times)

Wow! What a novel theory of law enforcement!

STATE TO CHURCH: You broke the law by giving the Republicans money!

CHURCH TO STATE: But I didn't mean to! It was unintentional!

STATE TO CHURCH: Oh, OK. [strike 1]

STATE TO CHURCH: You broke the law by giving the Republicans money!

CHURCH TO STATE: But I didn't mean to! It was unintentional!

STATE TO CHURCH: Oh, OK. [strike 2]

STATE TO CHURCH: You broke the law by giving the Republicans money!

CHURCH TO STATE: But I didn't mean to! It was unintentional!

STATE TO CHURCH: Oh, OK. [strike 3]

Can you imagine any greater incentive for nudge-nudge-wink-wink lawbreaking than what these supposedly conservative Republicans have built into this bill?

After lying and looting, lawbreaking is what Republicans do best!

Republican lawlessness: Crisco Johnny stiffs Congress, Constitution on torture memoes 

Since Bush is a Godly man, who are we, mere citizens, to question His ways? Get a load of this transcript from Knight Ridder:

Attorney General John Ashcroft flatly refused requests from Congressional Democrats on Tuesday to turn over memos that reportedly justified the use of torture in some instances against terrorists.

"This administration rejects torture," Ashcroft told lawmakers.

Then there should be no problem turning over the memos, right? Since the paper trail would, naturally, support Ashcroft's assertion.

He said Tuesday that President Bush never violated international treaties or U.S. law governing the treatment of prisoners but refused to provide the memos written to the CIA and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"No, I will not, Ashcroft responded when Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., asked him to provide the documents. Ashcroft explained that the Justice Department's legal guidance to the executive branch and the president must remain confidential.

Then Ashcroft should assert executive privilege—but, see below, he won't do that either.

He also said that Bush has not given blanket immunity to any U.S. agent interrogating al-Qaida captives.

Great! Then release the memos, since, naturally, the paper trail would support this assertion

"Let me completely reject the notion that anything this president has done or the Justice Department has done has directly resulted in the kinds of atrocities which were cited," [Ashcroft]said.

Naturally the memos, were Ashcroft to release them, would support this assertion. So it's curious that Ashcroft won't release them. And the memo WhiteWash Counsel Gonsalez wrote calling the Geneva Convention "quaint"—when it is an international treaty, ratified by the Senate, with the force of law—would have had no effect whatever. Uh huh.

"You are not allowed under the Constitution to not answer our questions," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. "You all better come up with a good rationale because otherwise it's contempt of Congress."

Well, do it then!

Asked by Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch. R-Utah, whether the memos were classified, Ashcroft conferred for a long moment with an aide sitting behind him.

"Some of these memos may be classified in some ways for some purposes," he began.

Ashcroft doesn't answer the question.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., interrupted him.

"Mr. Attorney General, with all due respect that is a complete evasion," Durbin said. Durbin said the president either had to invoke executive privilege or Ashcroft had to cite a statutory provision allowing him to withhold the memos.

And Ashcroft still doesn't answer the question.

Ashcroft steadfastly refused to do either Tuesday.

"I am refusing to disclose these memos because I believe it is essential to the operation of the executive branch that the president have the opportunity to get information from his attorney general that is confidential," he said.

And still Ashcroft doesn't answer the question, since if he "believes" that is true, that would be the claim of executive privilege he refuses to make.

Republicans on the committee largely ignored the torture issue.

Since all good Christians are for torture?

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee suggest that the Bush administration is secretly reinterpreting U.S. law and the Geneva Convention.

No! They would never do that!

A tight-lipped Ashcroft ...

Just the lips?

.... refused to discuss the memo or even confirm its existence. He said to reveal information about the U.S. interrogation techniques could help members of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

Well, uh, the terrorists can't read the newspapers? Or talk to innocents, later released, who have been tortured? WTF?

Biden persisted.

"If such a memo existed, do you believe that is good law? Do you think that torture might be justified?" he asked.

"I condemn torture," Ashcroft responded. "I don't think it's productive, let alone justified."
(via Kansas City Star)

And yet again, Ashcroft still doesn't answer the question "is it good law?" Isn't an Attorney General supposed to be able to render that sort of judgement? Or have we gotten to the point where the law itself it secret, a mark of all tyrannies?

The executive branch is careening out of all Constitutional control. Does anyone on the Hill recognize this? Is anyone going to call them on it?

After lying and looting, lawbreaking is what Republicans do best!

Catastrophe au Vin 

I hate to steal entire posts, especially from another blog, but this is one of those kinds of things you just can't not.
(via Juan Cole)

Professor Cole says: "A friend in Baghdad sent me this. It is to laugh, it is to weep."
Why Did the Chicken cross the Road?

Coalition Provisional Authority:

The fact that the Iraqi chicken crossed the road affirmatively demonstrates that decision-making authority has been transferred to the chicken well in advance of the scheduled June 30th transition of power. From now on the chicken is responsible for its own decisions.


We were asked to help the chicken cross the road. Given the inherent risk of road crossing and the rarity of chickens, this operation will only cost the US government $326,004.

Muqtada al-Sadr:

The chicken was a tool of the evil Coalition and will be killed.

US Army Military Police:

We were directed to prepare the chicken to cross the road. As part of these preparations, individual soldiers ran over the chicken repeatedly and then plucked the chicken. We deeply regret the occurrence of any chicken rights violations.

Peshmerga [the Kurdish militia]:

The chicken crossed the road, and will continue to cross the road, to show its independence and to transport the weapons it needs to defend itself. However, in future, to avoid problems, the chicken will be called a duck, and will wear a plastic bill.

1st Cav:

The chicken was not authorized to cross the road without displaying two forms of picture identification. Thus, the chicken was appropriately
detained and searched in accordance with current SOP's. We apologize for any embarrassment to the chicken. As a result of this unfortunate incident, the command has instituted a gender sensitivity training program and all future chicken searches will be conducted by female soldiers.

Al Jazeera:

The chicken was forced to cross the road multiple times at gunpoint by a large group of occupation soldiers, according to eye-witnesses. The chicken was then fired upon intentionally, in yet another example of the abuse of innocent Iraqi chickens.


We cannot confirm any involvement in the chicken-road-crossing incident.


Chicken he cross street because bad she tangle regulation. Future chicken table against my request.

U.S. Marine Corps:

The chicken is dead

UPDATE: The Teeming Masses (so far represented only by Ken Ashford and Pansypoo, but we note it is early yet) have come up with some further expressions of revolutionary solidarity with the beleaguered chickens of New Iraq (tm):

Don Rumsfeld

There are known chickens and unknown chickens and known roads and unknown roads . . .

Robert Novak:

The chicken is an undercover CIA operative.


Pssst, Ayatollah! I have it on very high authority that the chicken crossed the road. [*Wink*]

[Chickenhawk in Chief George] Bush:

The chickren, uh, chicken . . . uh . . it . . it crossed the road. [*smiles like a toddler in a Pampers Pull-ups commercial*] Because the road is evil, you know?


. . . and yet the liberal media hasn't mentioned a word about the chicken crossing the road.


Recently discovered documents, revealed to us here at Newsmax, confirm that, indeed, at least twelve chickens have crossed the road.

Crawl on Fox News:

Thousands Mourn Reagan . . . Reagan Beloved by Millions . . . Reagan Responsible For Fall of Soviet Union . . . Chicken Crosses Road . . . Nancy Said To Be "Doing Fine" . . . Reagan Known as "The Great Communicator" and "The Gipper" . . . Thousands Mourn Reagan . . .

[Consiglieri General John] Asscroft:

The chicken was a bad chicken. It was involved in pornography, so therefore I found it neccessary to annoint said chicken in Crisco [tm] and then it was executed by frying and then it was a GOOD chicken.

Phony as a ten dollar bill 

Yes, the boing-eyed wingers are going to try to put Reagan's portrait on the $10 bill, replacing Alexander Hamilton:

"Hamilton was a nice guy and everything, but he wasn't president," says Grover Norquist, who heads the [Reagan] legacy project. But Hamilton was also a Revolutionary War hero, George Washington's chief of staff, an author of the Federalist Papers and a Treasury secretary who created many of the financial and economic systems that survive today.
(via USA Today)

Yes, it's completely in character for the wingers busily tearing up our Constitution in favor of a Presidential rule by decree (back would try to stuff an author of The Federalist Papers down the memory hole. Let's look at Hamilton's chapter, "The Real Power of the Executive," to see how far down the road to what Hamilton called tyranny we've come under the Nixon-Reagan-Bush death spiral of the Constitution:

The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for four years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and hereditary prince. The one would be amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable. The one would have a qualified negative upon the acts of the legislative body; the other has an absolute negative [if the President has the "inherent power" (back to set aside the law, that's an "absolute negative" and Bush is indeed a monarch]. The one would have a right to command the military and naval forces of the nation; the other, in addition to this right, possesses that of declaring war, and of raising and regulating fleets and armies by his own authority [In practice, whether through lies or a fait accompli, Bush has this power of a monarch as well]. The one would have a concurrent power with a branch of the legislature in the formation of treaties; the other is the sole possessor of the power of making treaties. [Bush, by abrogating the Geneva Convention, rules as a monarch here as well. Status of Forces agreements, made by the executive, could also be considered as important as treaties.] The one would have a like concurrent authority in appointing to offices; the other is the sole author of all appointments. [In National Security, then, Bush rules as a monarch.] The one can confer no privileges whatever; the other can make denizens of aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the rights incident to corporate bodies. [Bush, by declaring that he can take citizenship away from US citizens, rules here as a monarch as well.] The one can prescribe no rules concerning the commerce or currency of the nation; the other is in several respects the arbiter of commerce, and in this capacity can establish markets and fairs, can regulate weights and measures, can lay embargoes for a limited time, can coin money, can authorize or prohibit the circulation of foreign coin. The one has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and governor of the national church [As Bush, who often tells us he is a Godly man, would like to do.]!
(via The Federalist Papers)

Yes, it's no wonder the wingers and the Reagan hagiographers would like you to forget Hamilton. And reading Hamilton's words remind me of the ripe irony that the wingers organized the coup against Clinton in part using the "elves" of the (so-called) Federalist Society.

One obvious remedy to this winger hoo-ha would be to boycott the Reagan $10 bill. One easy way to stand up to all this winger nonsense.

Mourning in America 

Ronald Reagan rides the great woolly mammoth off into the sunset and America mourns. Yes fair subjects of the monarchy, it's mourning in America again.

Mourning for the man who made the heroic leadership personality cult, once more, a salable suckers sinkhole of maudlin sentimentalist claptrap, gaudy romanticized westward-ho the wagons bromide, and the simple minded pretext that what you don't know won't hurt ya.

Catchalls of a more innocent bygone era where a right thinking lad could get by on a half gallon of A&P ketchup and a smooch from a pretty girl on the run from the red actor menace.

Ronnie W. Reagan, White Knight of the Golden Poppy State. Our national prom king. A good natured merry-andrew who could deliver a cheesy stand-up yuck at the drop of a social services program. -- I'm so old Thomas Jefferson kept a photo of me on his mantel piece! - Big deficit, I think the deficit is big enough to look out for itself! -- (Bwahahaha...applause applause... oh god stop, yer killin' me!), to enraptured throngs of fluttering Beltway press corp porchlight moths, bewitched voodoo economics worshiping Wackford Squeerians, Jesus shoutin' Elmer Gantry's, military industrial complex pickpockets, Wall Street junk bond thieves, banana republic bagmen, flat-taxer legerdemains, card carrying culture war canardians, Hollywood cowboy boot-polishers, boing-eyed Birchers sniffing a commie crouched behind each and every schoolhouse door, and any other number of besotted blue nosers, Babbitts, and backwash bigots formerly lost to the four winds of progressive civil rights change like so many autumn leaves set adrift in a November squall.

Yup Ronnie, you was a reg'lar shelter in the storm ya was. A cheery good natured quipster with a quick step for the camera, a hardy handshake, and a way out there in the blue glint in the eye. A drug store truck divin' man. A real backlot he-row. Mayor of the Shining Zenith City on the hill.

So goodbye Mr. former President. And if ya don't mind I'd like to sing you out with a couple of stanzas from an old Jean Ritchie song. So here goes. Ahem:
In the coming of springtime we planted our corn. In the ending of springtime we buried our son. In the summer come a nice man saying everything's fine, my employer just requires a way to his mine. Then they tore down my mountain and covered my corn. Now the grave on the hillside 's a mile deeper down and the man stands a talking with his hat in his hand, while the poison black waters rise over my land.

Well I ain't got no money, not much of a home. I own my own land, but my land's not my own. But, if I had ten million, somewheres thereabout, well, I'd buy Perry county and throw them all out - and just sit down on the banks with my bait and my can, and watch the clear waters run down through my land.

Well, wouldn't that be just like the old promised land? Black waters, black waters - no more in my land.

OK, thats it. You da man Ronnie. The man who stood a talkin' with his hat in his hand - and a twinkle in his eye. Off ya go now. Bye! Thanks for the memories. Don't forget to say howdy to Ferdinand Marcos and the Daughters of the American Revolution for me.


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~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
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