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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Wussy Democrats allow Republicans to pay them off 

WTF?

The Republican Party of Virginia has tentatively agreed to pay Democratic lawmakers almost $750,000 to settle a federal lawsuit stemming from a 2002 incident in which the party's former executive director eavesdropped on a Democratic conference call, sources familiar with the case said yesterday.

Resolution of the case would end a two-year legal nightmare for the Republican Party. The scandal led to the resignation of several top party officials and threatened to drag the Republicans' likely nominee for the next governor -- Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore -- into a civil trial that was set to begin Thursday in Richmond.
(via WaPo)

So.

Yet another example of Republican lawbreaking. And the Dems are, essentially, letting the Republicans pay them off to make the problem go away. Why? And can't they at least get the award to seven figures? Six figures is so... paltry. Makes a girl look cheap, don't ya know.

Dems to Bush: "Please sir, may I have some more?" 

Good God:

NEW YORK New York area Democrats say they're pleased the city's former police commissioner has been tapped to head the Department of Homeland Security.

But some are still smarting from comments Bernard Kerik made in campaign appearances for President Bush this year. And they say they hope he'll be less partisan in his new role.
(via KESQ)

"Less partisan in his new role...." What was it Garth said? Was it Garth? "When weasels fly out of my butt?"

Kevin Drum made a good start nailing Kerik's slippery little opportunistic butt right here.

When are the Dems going to figure out that the duty of an opposition party is to OPPOSE?

Republicans finally supporting public transportation! 

What a turnabout to see the wingers support something public—besides looting the public purse, of course.

So, there's good news!

[A] bus system will provide free transportation. No cars will be allowed in the city at first ...
(via the once-proudly-mediocre NY Times)

Oh, wait ...

... to prevent car bombs.

It's Fallujah.

Not that every city in the US won't look like Fallujah, after the wingers get through with raining fire from Heaven onto the heads of the ungodly their Fuck-the-Blues policies.

Of course, there's a slower moving front in the same war here in Philly: The Republican legislature is gutting our own much-loved [cough] SEPTA, thereby encouraging their constituents to drive their SUVs into Blue Center City, filling it with deadly fumes, asbestos, rubber particulates, dirty oil, noise, and the odd bloody mess from flattened pedestrians. Can't anyone see that this is not sustainable? What could possibly be the incentive? Oh, of course! Could it be money? The Republicans in the legislature took over the Philadelphia Parking Authority, so now every parking lot in Philadelphia is a cog in the Republican patronage machine. Spreading Santorum indeed. Now it all makes sense. Phew. My faith was shaken there for a minute. Please continue with your Godly activities. Fuckheads.

"The Wild Party" 

Keith at The Invisible Library has an excellent holiday gift idea:
John Halbo suggests that Joseph Moncure March's The Wild Party would make an excellent stocking stuffer. And I agree. Just search inside the book and you'll see (Gads! Now I'm rhyming! Oh what luck, and timing...)


See Twice a Day, In Vaudeville

I agree too. A friend of mine gave me a copy of "The Wild Party" (the lost classic from 1928) several years ago. Illustrated by Spiegelman and released in 1994 here's a couple of snips:
His woman at present was Mae. She was blonde, and slender, and gay: A passionate flirt, So dumb that it hurt, And better for night than for day.


And:
He had two cars. He had been behind bars - For theft, public nuisance, rape: Once extra for trying escape. Too bad? Nonsense! He was fun. A good sport: The only son - Of some un-heard of preacher father - Who had kicked him out as too much bother...[and so on and so on]


Well, you get the idea. Definetly one for Steve Bates to add to his doggerel library. (assuming he doesn't already have a copy on the shelf.)

*

Slow creeping shadows 

The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
But swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread:
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw,
Daily devours apace, and nothing said;
(Milton)

If that last sentence doesn't send a chill down your spine, you're dead. - Charles2 at The Fulcrum

I could never before imagine reading something like this about my country: [continue reading...] Fascism by Degrees


*

"Conyers to Hold Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud" 

Fortunately the "news" theater department at CNN, etc - this very frosty morn - is once more hot on the heels of that Michael Jackson weirdo - whew! While also asking important questions such as: why won't conspiracy theories surounding Princess Di go away? Or something like that, which, of course, has nothing to do CNN's own seemingly endless cavalcade of Princess Di royal family "fairytale" courtship neverland gah-gah story "conspiracy theory" coverage. But, well, you know... its CNN, it doesn't have to make any sense.

Meanwhile....silly "internet conspiracy theory" stories which might interest people over the age of 12, or involve, oh, lets say, flip little matters such as the integrity of national elections in, oh, lets say, the United States of 'Murica, will no doubt be dismissed with a giddy tut-tut and a haughty southern sniff by the playpen "fairytale" wowsers in Atlanta....

So contact C-SPAN for, hopefully, further information...

Via Hungry Blues:
Tell C-SPAN and Your Senators and Representatives They Must Attend!

Democratic Representative John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan, ranking Minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing on Wednesday 08 December 2004 to investigate allegations of vote fraud and irregularities in Ohio during the 2004 Presidential election. The hearing is slated to begin at 10:00 a.m. EST in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC.

[...]

Expert testimony will be offered, and a good deal of data on potential fraud previously unreported to the public will be discussed and examined at length.


EMail C-SPAN: events@c-span.org
Tell em to cover the hearings. More info, including contact numbers, at Hungry Blues link (above).

*

Friday, December 03, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

I hope somebody with good technical skills is trolling the online photo albums for atrocity photos... God knows what else will turn up...

Questions for Inerrant Boy 

The Amazing Froomkin in Salon:

If current workers are allowed to invest some of their Social Security taxes, that amount will have to be made up in some other way, unless the government reduces payments to current or future retirees. So what's it going to be?

How can the government reduce the deficit if it won't increase taxes and it doesn't reduce spending?

If the tax code overhaul is to be revenue neutral, and one goal is to reduce the tax rate on savings, what taxes go up?

If preemptive war against Iraq was justified, what other nations might merit preemptive action?

Not that Bush will answer, of course.

Moral values, 2 






(Thanks to Burnt Orange Report)

Gee, I hope the guy in the hood isn't a voter. But if he is, I bet he's not undecided....

UPDATE More from Robert's soapbox.

Moral values, 1 

A Friday night horror:

THE PHOTOS: Dozens of photos appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, while others appear to show bloodied detainees and the aftermath of commando raids on homes.

WHAT'S NOT KNOWN: The identities of the troops, the detainees and the photographer, and what happened before and after the photos were taken.
(via AP)

More fraternity pranks. Again, don't blame the troops. Blame the chickenhawks who put them where they are.

Of course, this violates Navy regs and the Geneva Convention (which, an international treaty ratified by the Senate, is the law of the land):

John Hutson, a retired rear admiral who served as the Navy's Judge Advocate General from 1997 to 2000, said they suggested possible Geneva Convention violations. Those international laws prohibit souvenir photos of prisoners of war.

"It's pretty obvious that these pictures were taken largely as war trophies," Hutson said. "Once you start allowing that kind of behavior, the next step is to start posing the POWs in order to get even better pictures."

At a minimum, the pictures violate Navy regulations that prohibit photographing prisoners other than for intelligence or administrative purposes, according to Bender, the SEALs spokesman.
(via Kansas City Star)

And the Navy's reaction? Investigate how the photos got out!

"They presented copies of them to us last week and once we were presented with these photos we then launched an investigation as to how the photos got on the Internet and who is responsible," navy Commander Jeff Bender said.
(via ABC News)


Interestingly, the photos predate Abu Ghraib.

Some of the photos have date stamps suggesting they were taken in May 2003, which could make them the earliest evidence of possible abuse [torture] of prisoners in Iraq. The far more brutal practices photographed in Abu Ghraib prison occurred months later.
(via Strib)


Oh, and how were the photos found? Google:

The images were posted to the Internet site Smugmug.com.

The images were found through the online search engine Google. The same search today leads to the Smugmug.com Web page, which now prompts the user for a password. Nine scenes from the SEAL camp remain in Google's archived version of the page.

Before the site was password protected, the AP purchased reprints for 29 cents each.

Some men in the photos wear patches that identify them as members of Seal Team Five, based in Coronado, and the unit's V-shaped insignia decorates a July Fourth celebration cake.

The photos surfaced amid a case of prisoner abuse involving members of another SEAL team also stationed at Coronado, a city near San Diego.
(via Kansas City Star)

29 cents? Well worth it!

And I can't seem to get the photos out of Google's cache. Readers?

UPDATE Ah, here are some photos (thanks to Memeorandum)


How big? 




(Via CNN)

Sans Culottes, Arise 

Via Thom Hartmann, via Common Dreams, gives another glimpse into the deep historical grasp and razor sharp reasoning skills of Tony Baloney:

Antonin Scalia, the man most likely to be our next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court [G-d forbid!], turned history on its head recently when he attended an Orthodox synagogue in New York and claimed that the Founders intended for their Christianity to play a part in government. Scalia then went so far as to suggest that the reason Hitler was able to initiate the Holocaust was because of German separation of church and state.

The Associated Press reported on November 23, 2004, "In the synagogue that is home to America's oldest Jewish congregation, he [Scalia] noted that in Europe, religion-neutral leaders almost never publicly use the word 'God.'"

"Did it turn out that," Scalia asked rhetorically, "by reason of the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in Europe than they were in the United States of America?" He then answered himself, saying, "I don't think so."

Scalia has an extraordinary way of not letting facts confound his arguments, but this time he's gone completely over the top by suggesting that a separation of church and state facilitated the Holocaust. If his comments had gotten wider coverage (they were only noted in one small AP article, and one in the Jerusalem Post), they may have brought America's largest religious communities - both Christian and Jewish - into the streets. Scalia To Synagogue - Jews Are Safer With Christians In Charge


Myself, I’m beginning to doubt that ANYTHING will bring folks into the streets. Everybody’s outrage-o-meter is clipping red, and there are too many issues to count. This black-robed fool can spout things like this in public, and nobody cares.

I’m thinking that a new Anti-Imperialist League might do the trick. Surely we can all agree that Imperial Power and Ambition is the central problem, the motivation being greed, the tool being fear? Problem is, we don’t have churches to meet in weekly, and I can tell you that house parties—while a lot of fun—don’t match up organizationally. And in the country there ain't no streets to go into.

But good ol’ Dr. Zinn is on target… A few highlights:

The reelected Bush triumphantly announced that he had the approval of the nation to carry out his agenda. There came no sign of opposition from what was supposed to be the opposition party. In short, the members of the club, after a brief skirmish on the campaign trail (costing a total of a billion dollars or so) were back having drinks at the same bar…


Freed from the sordid confines of our undemocratic political process, we can now turn all our energies to do what is discouraged by the voting system--to speak boldly and clearly about what must be done to turn our country around…


…Will the Democratic Party, so craven and unreliable, face a revolt from below which will transform it?

Or will it give way (four years from now? eight years from now?) to a new political movement that honestly declares its adherence to peace and justice?

Sooner or later, profound change will come to this nation tired of war, tired of seeing its wealth squandered, while the basic needs of families are not met. These needs are not hard to describe. Some are very practical, some are requirements of the soul: health care, work, living wages, a sense of dignity, a feeling of being at one with our fellow human beings on this Earth…Harness That Anger Howard Zinn

What existing structures do Lefties have that will serve for organizational purposes? And what issue—like the antiwar issue once did—unites us? Peace and justice too broad? No outrage left? And what do us rural folks do? It’s even harder to organize out in the sticks, especially in the winter (of our discontent). But then, the city-dwellers seem fractured, too. Arrggghhh? Call out the instigators, coz there's something in the air...




Cultureghost - The General - Marines Girl - TBogg, and more... 

Burn a book for Jesus:

Onward and backward. Cultureghost has this item with quotes from Rep. Gerald Allen (Republican) Cottondale, Alabama - on books and literature:
"I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," he said. When asked about Tennessee Williams' southern classic "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," Allen said the play probably couldn't be performed by university theater groups.

More from Cultureghost

And JC Christian writes "Mr. Cottondale" a letter: here

Ya know, "Cottondale" (just east of Tuscaloosa) sounds so, uh, gay. What a sissy name for a town, huh? I say burn the whole cousin fuckin' nest to the ground. Whaddya think? Moving along.....

Hey all you hero worshipping Right Wing little green booger picker 101st Fighting Keyboarders! Listen up! Nows your big chance to hang up your JC Penny Cotton Docker pants and pay your land-lady and kiss your Laura Ingraham calendars goodbye and head off to Iraq! Dreams do come true. Yeah, sure, I'll bet all the cute little Charles Johnson's and Virgin Ben's will be lining up at the induction center well into early 2005. Oh sure.

Via Marines Girl -
Don't be left out in supporting YOUR cause and YOUR party. Dear Leader needs YOU!

If I can just get one Reserve Recon guy of the right rank to go active, maybe mine can be sent home. You think? - help bring a real Marine home


Dick should take up ice fishing... dipping his pole in a hole in a frozen lake and..., oh, no, wait a minute...Via TBogg:
For the past twenty-so odd years, Dick Cheney has successfully avoided .....um...how should I put this? Oh yeah, he has avoided "drilling" in the "frozen tundra" of Lynne Cheney preferring to pass his spare time fly fishing,..."...Rock me like a hurricane."


hehehe...I wish I'd written that - I'm glad TBogg is back...

All added to the blogroll - finally:
Unscrewing the Inscutable
It's My Country, Too (Riggsveda)
inanis et vacua
The Daily Delay (Tom Delay Watch)
Now More Than Ever
Left in the West
Dahr Jamail
Spontaneous Arising
Grannyinsanity
WA State Political Report
Loudocracy
Fierce Planet (Jennifer)

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Is W repeating Truman's mistakes? 

Kevin Drum has a very interesting post up over at his blog. Go read it. I'll wait.

Okay. As a historian, it's always interesting to watch someone else tackle historical topics.

In many ways I think Kevin is onto something very important here. I think Beinart is wrong because it is obvious to anyone who pays attention that Islamic terrorism is not the threat that communism and a nuclear-armed USSR was. Republican policy choices and behavior today prove that they really don't view it as much more than a political issue as Kevin has said.

However, let me be contrary and make a different sort of historical argument. I would contend that Truman OVERSOLD the communist threat in his administration in the middle 1940s by knowingly exaggerating the threat in Greece and Turkey and then spending the next couple of years convincing Americans that monolithic Soviet communism was truly the coming of the anti-Christ. Well, after successfully selling this simplistic good vs. evil view of the world, then several things happened that put Democrats and Truman in a world of hurt. China fell to communism, thus making the Cold War a global struggle. And then, lo and behold, the devil got the bomb. Now Americans were truly scared to death.

And this was exactly what Republicans needed to run the Democrats out of all three branches of government by the early 1950s. The Republicans said "Hey, these guys have screwed it all up, you've got to elect us! We won't screw it up."

In many ways I would contend that Bush may very well have made Truman's mistake. He has oversold the terror threat in such a way that it has won him an eyelash narrow re-election effort -- just like Truman's in 1948. Now the hard part begins. If the terrorists strike again it's going to be hard for him to defend his administration's record. Democrats can make the case that W screwed it up horribly, you've got to elect us -- and they won't need scumbags like Joe McCarthy to make their case for them, it'll just be obvious.

I always tell my students that when "good vs. evil" tropes start appearing in our foreign policy, dangerous things happen: disastrous wars are embarked upon, soldiers die, and the world becomes a much more dangerous place.

Was Truman right to resist communism? Absolutely! Was he right to pursue the Marshall Plan and attempt, therefore, to understand what caused communism and put a stop to it? Again, absolutely!

However, Truman's ultimate failure was in overselling a threat and scaring Americans to death. It was then awfully easy for Republicans to make the case that Truman wasn't doing enough to combat the threat and defeat Democrats at the polls.

Now, what implications does this have for the present situation? Are Republicans putting themselves into a similar situation today?

I'm really not quite sure. But I would caution you Kevin that there are dangers in overhyping a threat, in playing the scare-o-matic at too high a volume. Truman did it -- and it cost the Democrats bigtime the following eight years.

I guess my main point is that Truman's approach of trying to ameliorate the conditions that led to communism was certainly the proper one. However, the overhyped threat (and it was overhyped until the Soviets got the bomb in 1949) was what ultimately led to a frustrating decade for the Democrats in the 1950s.

W may have set Republicans up for a similar fall. However, the consequences for the world of W's failure will be doubly disastrous because W and the boys have done absolutely nothing to ameliorate the conditions that led to the rise of Islamic terrorism and fundamentalism in the first place.

Truman paid a political price for his exaggerations in the early Cold War but ultimately did the right things to combat communism in western Europe. In contrast, Bush has done absolutely nothing to deal with the root causes of terrorism and has in many ways made the problems worse.

That means the price for W's mistakes will be more than political. The whole world and the rest of us will be paying for them -- not just with money but with our dearest blood.

Goodnight, moon 

Many great comments, alert readers. Thanks!

The greatest heist of the 21st Century continues 

Get a load of this:

Calling the current system of Social Security benefits unsustainable, a top economic adviser to President Bush on Thursday strongly implied that any overhaul of the system would have to include major cuts in guaranteed benefits for future retirees.

"Let me state clearly that there are no free lunches here," said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, at a conference on tax policy here.
(via NY Times)

Sure there are. For a generation, payroll taxes were raised precisely to keep the system solvent. Those funds were left in general revenues, and then Bush blew them on tax cuts for the super-rich.

That's outright theft.

So, if you're already rich, you do get a free lunch.

In fact, you get my lunch.

NOTE More here.

Another one bites the dust 

Six months in office,and UN ambassador Danforth wants to spend more time with his family. What's up with that?

Does Bush have a nominee for Treasury Secretary yet? 

Because I have someone in mind:

Walter Cavanagh owns 1,497 valid credit cards (he assumes a card is valid until he hears otherwise) with a potential credit line of about $1.7 million.
(via AP)

Love the URL, too—"Plastic Fantastic". Those droll wire services guys!

Walmart not getting it 

WalMart advertising low prices is like Hooters advertising, well... I mean, everybody knows it, so why say it?

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., stung by a lackluster start to the holiday shopping season, said Thursday it is launching a new advertising campaign to remind its customers of its low prices.
(via AP)

Cheap clothes are OK; but as Xan points out (somewhere, sigh), cheap clothes that fall apart because of cheap thread are not OK.

Patronize a local retailer, and you might get satisfaction, and even be able to improve the product line. Walmart? Ha. Besides the fact that Walmart doesn't pay a living wage, and its "associates" need to get welfare in addition to their lousy wages.

2004 Weblog awards 

The wingers are voting for their guys; LGF is #1. Go thou and do likewise.

Delusional 



From WaPo via The Amazing Froomkin, who informs us that the backdrop of FDR and Churchill is "White House" designed.

Say, where's Stalin? Oh....

Great Blazing Cheeks of Mortification! 

And moments of self-righteous moral excellence...





LOUISIANA
The State Baptist Annual, circa 1927:
Decent people no longer find lake and sea-shore a place of rest and relaxation. Modern bathing suits make modest men and women feel like hiding their faces in shame. Again and again I have been told, in different parts of Louisiana, that the present day swimming-pool is a menace to the morals of the young. Mixed bathing must be abolished.

Dance-halls are ticket-offices to Hell. The dance-hall has always been the handmaid of the brothel and the saloon. If we are to have men and women worthy to become parents of the coming generation, we must abolish the dance-hall. It leads to carnality and ought to have been abolished when we abolished the brothel and saloon. I would as soon have my son frequent a saloon as to have my daughter visit dance-halls. The modern dance, with its music, is nothing if not carnal. It leads to carnality, and, when kept up for hours, it leads straight to Hell. Two-thirds of the women of the street fell as the result of the dance-hall. The majority of the men who frequent dance-halls go there with nothing but carnal thoughts in their minds. The youth who goes to the dance-hall looking for clean pleasure is considered lacking in carnal technique. Innocence can not endure dance-halls, where the atmosphere is heavy with sensual music, and men and women seem to be held together with adhesive tape. If girls would dance with girls and men with men the movement against dance-halls would not be necessary.


Well cripes, ya just can't seem to please some folks these days. (bold emphasis above is mine) Theres a duct tape joke somewhere in there - too - so go at it.


"The dance has a secret language.... I would not like to die dancing. Would you?"


IOWA
Des Moines. Leaflet circulated circa 1927:
REASONS WHY I DON'T DANCE
BY EVANGELIST CARL BASSETT
I would not like to die dancing. Would you?
Three-fourths of the fallen girls in America were ruined by the dance, according to the testimony of dancing masters.

Dancing is contrary to the spirit of the whole Bible. The dance originated in a house of prostitution and was never danced outside of a house of prostitution for the first hundred years, and the steps they used then are tame compared to the steps they use now.

There are no soul-winning dancing Christians.
I couldn't pray at a dance. Could you?
I wouldn't enjoy reading my Bible after the dance.
No young man will go through the motions of the dance, hour after hour, without thinking impure thoughts.
I would be miserable if I knew God were watching me while dancing.
A girl who dances cheapens herself in the eyes of the finest men in town.
If a girl heard the ordinary conversation of men between dances, as they discuss her, that girl's cheeks would blaze with mortification and she would run home and never dance again.

The dance has a secret language, by which the man can silently learn if the girl in his arms is pure or not, without one word being uttered.

Dancing has created a condition in the public schools that is almost as bad as the white slave traffic.


I'm confident that CBS and David Brooks and all the rest of our newly recruited SCLM Christian crosslighters will be all over the story. Especially with respect to the "testimony" of them "dancing masters." Don't want to let them buggers slip away without a good goin' over.

I wonder what our "founding fathers" would do?:
"There is nothing that holds the family together like a little family prayer. Our Puritan fathers lived on parched corn, but they talked about God. They shot Indians through the port hole with one eye and taught the Bible to their children with the other."
~ remarks of Pastor Perry C. Hooper, as reported by the Toledo 'Blade', 1927.


Thats what I thought. Thats why them divorce rates is so much lower in Massachusetts. No womenfolk be runnin' off with some tall romantic swarthy savage as long as the port hole is blazin' away. I hope they emphasize this old time moral standard in the revised Red State highschool textbooks. Perhaps a new sticker is in order. As for all that naked carnal spirit dancin' and hooting and whoopin' it up around some pow-wow inferno of pagan lust till all hours of the morning... why, that'll get ya heaved into the Lake of Fire faster than a pair a blazing mortified cheeks at a dusty Ken Mehlman bunkhouse mixer. Serves them crazy chowder-head "Indians" right.

And keep your damned nebular hypothesizing to yerself, hippy!

*

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

DNC—or DeanC? Kos has a nice post here on a Reform Democrat showing the other guys how it's done.

Fuhrerprinzip 

"Will the nominee please raise their right arm?"

A steady stream of high-level officials are headed for the exits as President Bush prepares for his second four-year term, and the administration is grabbing the opportunity to exert greater influence over agencies that often act independently - too independently, some say - of White House control.

In selecting replacements, the president appears to be taking a course that differs in a subtle way from the manner in which he chose his first Cabinet. In 2001, he displayed a willingness to tab potential public servants - like Powell and Rumsfeld - even if he had no personal ties to them.

This go-round, to a large extent, Bush is nominating people who are close to him and, hence, establishing "there is only one boss in this administration," according to Richard Skinner, a government instructor at Bowdoin College.
(via Scripps-Howard)

Blest be the ties that bind...

qWagmire: Mission about to be accomplished! 

More proof that we're winning!

The casualty figures are coming in. And the trendlines are not good:

Fueled by fierce fighting in Fallujah and insurgents' counterattacks elsewhere in Iraq, the U.S. military death toll for November is approaching the highest for any month of the war.

At least 134 U.S. troops died in November, according to casualty reports available Tuesday.


On Nov. 8, U.S. forces launched an offensive to retake Fallujah, and they have engaged in tough fighting in other cities since then. More than 50 U.S. troops have been killed in Fallujah since then, although the Pentagon has not provided a casualty count for StalingradFallujah for more than a week.

So 134, the total everyone is reporting, is not the real total, which is higher. Fuzzy math with the troops' lives; disgusting. And I don't know why they're holding the totals back—we already had the election. Maybe they just play politics all the time? Say it isn't so!

From the viewpoint of the United States and Iraqis who are striving to restore stability, the casualty trend since the interim Iraqi government was put in power June 28 has been troubling. Each month's death toll has been higher than the last, with the single exception of October, when it was 63.

Looks like the insurgents wanted Bush re-elected...

The monthly totals grew from 42 in June to 54 in July to 65 in August and to 80 in September.

And another bad trendline:

U.S. forces have put extraordinary effort into countering the IED threat, yet it persists. U.S. troops in Fallujah reported finding nearly as many homemade explosives over the past three weeks as had been uncovered throughout Iraq in the previous four months combined.
(via Mining Journal)

Oh, and guess what? Iraqi civilians are dying in even greater numbers, with nary a mention.

Boy! Aren't you glad "major combat" has ended? I sure am.

Shitheads.

Whither the blogosphere? 

Since Microsoft is a fast follower, I guess this news means the bloom is off the rose:

Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) on Wednesday said it will offer blogging to the online many-headed. Under the rubric MSN Spaces, Bill Gates' colossus will debut the Web journal service in test form on Thursday. It will be specifically geared to Internet "civilians" without vast technical acumen.
(via Forbes)

So, what's next for cutting edge bloggers like Corrente and, alert readers, you? Not more of the same, but what?

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC No anti- or pro-MS ranting, please. Keep the focus on the blogosphere and its direction (if spheres can be said to have a direction).

Hangover, I Hope 

Well, that was depressing. I ran into a brother who’d I’d worked with some on the GOTV efforts while I was out on the road this week. We hit the same café at breakfast. He’s a spontaneous guy, always has a fresh idea.

And he’s just now crawling out of the whiskey bottle he crawled into on November 2nd. I wasn't even sure I wanted to tell his story.

I mean, he looked bad. Not that I look much better, but still…

We ate some eggs and toast and swilled coffee. He said that he wasn’t sure America would survive four more years of Bushco. He said he smelled more wars, more repression, economic collapse, civil liberties boiling away. And he said he couldn’t take it any more.

And so, of course, I said, well, yeah. But what do we do, man? What’s to be done? I ran down all of the possibilities, most of which have already been posted, and he said, yeah, sure, we should do all that.

But, he said, you know what? It isn’t going to do any good, man. These fuckers have thrown so much shit at us at once that we can’t fight back. And the rest of the country won’t fight—they’re brainwashed. Zombies. My friends are all back to their single issue politics, fighting amongst themselves about what to do, what went wrong…

So what, then? I asked. We just give up, go underground, and wait for the shit to hit the fan so hard that there’s a spontaneous uprising, the country wakes up and says No More?

Yeah, I guess. That’s what I’m going to do, anyway. I’m headed underground and root for the underdog until the smoke clears.

And this was the spontaneous guy who always had a fresh idea.

Shit… and then on the way home I hear this on the radio:

"We just had a poll in our country when people decided that the foreign policy of the Bush administration ought to stay in place for four more years," Bush said at a joint news conference with Martin.


Iraq polls show that indeed, the 51ers like the war. And listen to George iWaq Bush preening in public.

Shit. And now one more of the 49ers has gone underground. I hope he was just moping, but he didn't sound like it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Remember 

how Iraq's oil money was essentially given to us to manage by the U.N.

Well, um, we screwed that up big time:

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the United States took control of all of the Iraqi government’s bank accounts, including the income from oil sales. The United Nations approved the financial takeover, and President Bush vowed to spend Iraq’s money wisely. But now critics are raising serious questions about how well the United States handled billions of dollars in Iraqi oil funds.

...

Now, Frank Willis, a former senior American official in Iraq, tells NBC News the United States failed to safeguard the oil money known as the Development Fund for Iraq.

...

In one example of insufficient controls, the United States stored hundreds of millions of oil dollars in a vault in a Baghdad palace. Government auditors found that the key to the vault was kept “unsecured” — in a U.S. official’s backpack.

Iraq’s U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, pledged last year to hire a certified public accounting firm to ensure proper controls. But the United States gave the contract not to an accounting firm but to a tiny consulting company, Northstar — which NBC News found is headquartered at a private home near San Diego.

...

But NBC News has learned that a draft government audit faults the United States for “inadequate stewardship” of up to $8.8 billion in oil money, handed over to Iraq’s ministries but never fully accounted for.
(via MSNBC)
We apparently lost $8.8 B.

Holy cow.

Just who the heck works for North Star Consultants, Inc.? I've googled it and I can't find any info.

Can anybody help me out here?

Goodnigt, moon 

Yawn. Snarfle. To sleep, perchance to dream....

We don't seem to hear so much about a "mandate" these days... 

But maybe that's only because Congress is out of session....

Of course, the "Bush mandate [1] is not a mandate [2]. It's a girly mandate [3].

#1 on Google [1] here, [2] here, and [3] here.

Heh.

"Interface" 

Seems like Neal Stephensen, when he (as "Stephen Bury") wrote Interface, had the 2004 election all figured out. The reviews talk about Election 2000—but it was in 2004 that we saw a candidate running for President with a mysterious square box on this back.... I haven't finished it yet, so, Stephensen being Stephensen, I don't know whether it ends or just stops, but so far it's a gripping read.

Ridge out 

Yawn.

But who will issue the extremely non-political terror alerts? Say, notice we haven't had any since the election? Not even on heavy travel holiday weekends?

NOTE RDF, I just published your post. I don't know which of the many aspects of blogger's massive suckitude prevented your post from showing up.

Your Money or Your Life? 

There’s a lot of talk about strategy lately. But it's so simple... really. Thom Hartmann thinks the key is organizing for 2006, starting like, ummm, yesterday. He notes that the GOPthugs are already organized and have learned well how to control elections...

The next national elections will be held in the United States in 2006, and there's a lesson for us in the 1972 midterm elections.

Although Richard Nixon won a landslide re-election that year, carrying every state except Massachusetts, he was out of office within 18 months because the House and Senate were in Democratic hands and Senator Sam Irvin was able to proceed with an investigation of Nixon's crimes while in office. Opposition control of Congress is about the only way to hold a president accountable: Republican control of Congress led to the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. (And when a President appoints his own attorney as the nation's head prosecutor - Attorney General - it becomes virtually impossible to prosecute the President outside of the House or Senate.)

Thus, the first key to returning America to multiparty rule and re-opening the political process will be in electing progressive Democrats (and Independents like Vermont's Bernie Sanders) to the US House and Senate in 2006.

But first we must prepare to take on a Republican machine that has already corrupted the electoral process in the past three elections, and knows how to "pull a Ukraine" in any state at any time with single a phone call to Jim Baker or Tom DeLay. How To Take Back A Stolen Election


Which I agree with, except he doesn’t explain how to take them on. Sure, we’ve got to fight electoral fraud with lawsuits and recounts and letters, but it seems to me that the real key is to organize for the 2006 election. How about this? Get real progressives, anti-war, anti-corporation, pro-justice people into positions of power in the local Dem parties, county by county, and begin mobilizing GOTV efforts around solid anti-Bush local candidates, from county commissioners up to senatorial candidates. Can we do this in time for 2006? Yeah, if everybody starts NOW. The GOTV needs to be built around these candidates by the end of 2005, no later. And prior to that, identifying the real liberals and getting them nominated and raising money. Ahhh, and money…

Kathy Kelly thinks we should stop supporting war and neo-imperialism by refusing to give them money…

Politically, progressives were defeated by a majority of Democrat voters even before the majority of American voters ratified imperialism. We're having limited results from time-honored ways of influencing our government - getting out and protesting, the signs, the candles, the education and legislative work that is still crucially important.

Bush promised that he would spend money for the amount of troops that he needs to recruit for ongoing wars. Most of us are not targeted by the recruiters. We're not listened to by our government, nor, in sufficient numbers, the American people. From most of us, what is required is not our bodies and not our consent - it's our money. This is what we have power over. What We Can Control


And again, I agree. She goes on to recommend not paying taxes. But not paying taxes would give them a great excuse to put a lot of folks in jail and most of us don’t have Emerson-types to bail us out. Better to just refuse to support the mega-corporations and their ilk. Buy local, and buy only what you need. Know where your money goes. And, as she rightly points out, the real liberals were defeated before the campaign even began. So again, I say it’s time NOW to organize locally, time to engage in “time-honored ways of influencing our government”—if in 2006 we want slates of real, fire-breathing Liberal candidates. This then would be a fine pool for 2008 and 2010, no matter what the mainstream Dems do. And it would make the spineless wake up and understand that the real liberals are taking over. I mean, what’s the other choice aside from taking over politically?

So I guess I’d better make time to get to the next Dem meeting—the topic will be candidates and funding. I have a couple of people in mind I’d like to talk to about accepting a nomination to run for local chair. And that happens in January, I’m told.

Monday, November 29, 2004

So why doesn't Google fix blogger first instead of writing more software that sucks? 

Here's the latest on their Google Desktop Search (GDS):

Google's tool downloads and installs itself in no time at all, and lets you generally select the types of files you want to include. GDS then sets out to build an index of your entire electronic existence.

GDS stores its painfully complete index in one convenient location on your hard drive with no encryption or password protection--a hacker's and worm writer's dream come true.

"[GDS] puts the index of your data in a well-known place on your hard drive," says Stephen Green, principal investigator of the Advanced Search Technologies Group at Sun Microsystems. "It's only a matter of time before there is a spyware application or a worm that sends your Google index to a site somewhere."
(via PC World)

I've got to use IE, so I'm already living one security nightmare. I certainly don't need another. What were these guys thinking. Were they thinking?

Dean for DNC chair: "He's not a wuss" 

Nice slogan, eh? One that reform Democrats, as opposed to the gutless, feckless Beltway variety, would do well to adopt. Matt Singer is a Democrat from Montana and, believe it or not, Democrats can win there. Read his hopeful words:

Something that the DNC (and by DNC, I mean every person stuck in the Beltway mindset) needs to get through its head is that Dean was never running as a left-winger. He was never even running as a hardcore liberal. He was running as a centrist outraged over what was being done to his country.

And for a damn good reason, what is happening to our country is outrageous.

And the Democratic Party gets ready to act out its own death on stage again. We are a party of hypochondriacs. Every time we lose, we’re convinced we’re deathly ill. In Montana, in 2000, Democrats lost three big statewide offices. They lost the Governor’s race, the US House race, and a US Senate race. They thought the world had ended. We just bucked up and kept working. And in 2002, we won a US Senate race, more seats in the legislature, and control of the Public Service Commission.

This year, we took back the damn Governor’s office. And we didn’t do it with a namby-pamby-roll-over-and-keep-your-mouth-shut style. We did it by running a candidate with clear contrasts with the Republicans and by pointing out how we would make the state a better place.

And it is high damn time we did that for America. We can’t expect the press to show how we differ from the Republicans or even why one would want to differ from the Republicans. The press typically knows how to do its job about as well as the 15-year-old-with-acne flipping burgers at McDonald’s. The difference between the media and McDonald’s? The latter contains essential vitamins and minerals. The only way something worthwhile ends up in the paper is if we get it in there. The only way people find out the truth about the Bush White House is when people bring the truth up.

You’re actually going to have to work. You’re going to have to draw distinctions. You’re going to have to have a message. A clear message. A concise message (no rants like this one). A damn compelling message.

And if you can’t do that with a sandtrap in one hemisphere and a looming economic collapse in another, well, maybe you aren’t cut out for this line of work. And so when the usual suspect DC press corps types start portraying Howard Dean as “bash-Bush, man-the-barricades liberalism mixed with the latest in Internet-fueled fund-raising and organizing” I get a bit upset. Frankly, we can bash Bush. The man is not very popular. Bashing him is at least a strategy. And that seems to be more than anyone else has.

Dean was never that liberal. He was willing to get out there and fight. We need a fighter. The Democratic Party keeps expecting the referee to protect us and hit back for us. That isn’t going to happen. It is time to “declare the state of affairs unacceptable.” It is time to stand up for ourselves. It is time to fight. It is time to reform the Democratic Party and then to reform
America.

Draft Howard.
(via Matt Singer)

What Matt said.

After the pillaging, come the rapes 

A little over the top, maybe. But what other way is there to read this?

With the three Cabinet replacements Bush has announced so far for his second term, he kept his circle tight by dispatching White House staff members to take over the State, Justice and Education departments. Aides said many other such moves will be announced, because Bush and senior adviser Karl Rove are determined to "implant their DNA throughout the government," as one official put it.
(via WaPo)

Eew!

And worse. I mean, who do these guys think they are? Interahamwe?

The Unending Bummer Continues 

And no amount of thorazine will stop this trip. Molly Ivins notes that

…Mental health experts say we face a crisis because one in six returning soldiers from Iraq is suffering from post-traumatic stress, and the number is expected to grow rapidly. You will not be amazed to learn that the Pentagon did not anticipate the problem, since it has yet to anticipate anything about Iraq correctly.

A study by the Walter Reed Army Institute found 15.6 percent of Marines and 17.1 percent of soldiers surveyed after tours in Iraq suffer from major depression, generalized anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can cause flashbacks, sleep disorders, violent outbursts, panic attacks, acute anxiety and emotional numbness. The numbers are expected to be higher among reservists than among career soldiers… via…Gee... thanks


And an astute student of cause and effect relationships would have no trouble understanding why PTSD might be a-coming again after reading Evan Wright’s piece in the Village Voice. A few highlights:

…In fact, commanders in the Marine Corps during the period I was embedded with them in the spring of 2003 repeatedly emphasized that the men's actions would not be questioned. As one of the officers in the unit I followed used to tell his men, "You will be held accountable for the facts not as they are in hindsight but as they appeared to you at the time. If, in your mind, you fire to protect yourself or your men, you are doing the right thing. It doesn't matter if later on we find out you wiped out a family of unarmed civilians."

…I was standing next to a 22-year-old Marine from the Humvee I rode in when he fired his machine gun prematurely at a civilian car approaching a roadblock, striking the driver, an unarmed man, in the eye. The unit was subsequently ordered to drive past the car without rendering aid. I sat next to the gunner as we crept past, listening to the dying man gasp for breath. The gunner didn't talk for the next three days. A few days earlier, the youngest Marine on the team had shot a 12-year-old boy four times in the chest with his machine gun, mistakenly thinking a stick the boy had been carrying was a weapon. When the mother and grandmother of the boy later dragged him to the Marines' lines seeking medical aid, the sergeant who led the team dropped down in front of the mother and cried.

…The Marines constantly debated the morality of what they were engaged in. A sergeant in the platoon told me he had consulted with his priest about killing. The priest had told him it was all right to kill for his government so long as he didn't enjoy it. By the time the unit reached the outskirts of Baghdad, this sergeant was certain he had already killed at least four men. When his battalion commander praised the unit for "slaying dragons" on the way to Baghdad, the sergeant later told his men, "If we did half the shit back home we've done here, we'd be in prison." By then, the sergeant told me, he'd reconsidered what his priest had told him about killing. "Where the fuck did Jesus say it's OK to kill people for your government? Any priest who tells me that has got no credibility."

He and several other Marines recently returned from Iraq (many from their second tours) whom I've talked to about the Falluja shooting say they are not sure they would have dead-checked the wounded man in the mosque had they been in the same position. Most say they probably would have, even though the mosque had already been cleared once. "What does the American public think happens when they tell us to assault a city?" one of them said. "Marines don't shoot rainbows out of our asses. We fucking kill people."

Another Marine in the unit I followed—a Democrat's dream, he returned home from fighting in Falluja in time to vote for Kerry—added, "Americans celebrate war in their movies. We like to see visions of evil being defeated by good. When the people at home glimpse the reality of war, that it's a bloodbath, they freak out. We are a subculture they created and programmed to fight their wars. You have to become a psycho to kill like we do. To most Marines that guy in the mosque was just someone who didn't get hit in the right place the first time we shot him. I probably would have put a bullet in his brain if I'd been there. If the American public doesn't like the violence of war, maybe before they start the next war they shouldn't rush so much." via Dead-check in Falluja


Read the whole thing. Then weep. For the Iraqis, for the soldiers, for the senseless slaughter, for the fact that the 51ers elected that smirking fool to four more years and we 49ers have to fight these demons all over again, and again, and again. For the fact that these people were lied into a war that need never have happened. For the lies yet to come. God-DAMN-it!

The Devil is Dead. Me and Pete Killed the Devil.  

Rejoice citizen. I have killed the Devil. I just wanted all of you to be the first to hear that. The Devil is dead. Dead as a doormat. No more Devil. Pass it on.

On Friday afternoon, November 26th, in the year of our Great Dithering Godhead, I the farmer do hereby solemnly swear before man and beast and the four winds and the sixed winged Seraphim and the genii's from the fire - and whatever the hell else you'd like to invite to the occasion - that I smote the impish archfiend Old Scratch and thats the end of that. Hokay.

I have photos too. On Friday afternoon, the day after Thanksgiving, I went walking in the vast tangle of virgin forest near my home with my old trusty friend Pete the Deer. Many of you will fondly remember Pete and his girlfriend Kitty Deer from some of my earlier blog posts dating back ten or fifteen years. Or at least it seems like ten or fifteen years. Yes. But just in case you've forgotten about Pete (shame on you) here is a picture of Pete catching a frisbee at last summer's Reindeer games. Before I killed the Devil. Well actually both Pete and I killed the Devil but since Pete can't read I'm pretty much gonna take most of the credit myself.





Anyway, me and Pete were walking down a trail in the woods, looking for some sticks to poke at stuff with, when we came across the Devil himself, just a sitting on a rotten stump in a small clearing, sucking the bubbling marrow from a charred femur bone. The final remains of Reed Irvine. We watched and waited till he had finished. We didn't want to interrupt that effort. He finally finished lapping up the filling and tossed the whole nasty brittle thing into his mouth and chewed it up and washed it all back with a big crunchy grin and a gulp of hot steaming mucous.

Pete and I just looked at each other in silence. Then the Devil suddenly turned and looked straight in our direction and pointed right at us and started laughing a ghastly hellish devil laugh. Plus his breath stunk of rotten eggs which was very unpleasant as you might imagine.

He was big too. Over nine feet tall I'd estimate. Had big black wings that jutted from between his shoulder blades and folded close to his back as he hunched on his rotten stump perch glaring in our direction. His skin was sickly pale, almost translucent, and glistened like a wet maggot. He smelled like rotten eggs and maggots. His eyes were, well, gone. The Devil had no eyes at all, only empty sockets where eyes should be, yet he was staring straight at us. Each of us at the same time. It was no fun.

And then he spoke to Pete and said "come to daddy my little furry Bambi." Well that fuckin' did it. Pete hates it when anyone calls him Bambi and I could tell all hell was about to break loose from his thicket. This is rutting season and Pete's balls are in an uproar as it is. This little furry Bambi crap was like waving a bloody hanky around in a lagoon full of piranah.

Next thing I know Pete comes roaring from the underbrush, head down, all eight points of grillwork lowered for the joust, snorting like a fat man on a mountain bike, a trail of snot streaming from his flaring nostrils, hairs along his spine bristling, standing on end, and every muscle in his body rippling to the charge. Scared the shit out of the Devil too. And the next thing I knew Pete had impaled his rack square into the chest of Satan himself.

I stood there at first, stunned, and slapped myself on the forehead and said to myself, Oh Holy Shit.

And then came the most unholy screech I have ever heard in my life. It sounded like a thousand cats fucking. The howl of human history's tortured and wronged lives. The sobbing of generations of innocents. But the spookiest thing of all was that it didn't make a sound. Not a sound in the usual sense anyway. But rather a vibration of sorts. A great soundless agonized echo. It was the loudest thing I've ever heard in my life. And all the leaves that were left on the trees shook and the birds went screaming from the branches.

It was eerie.

But then the Devil attempted to stand and when he did he lifted Pete's front legs off the ground as well because Pete was still impaled in his bosom and his great black wings opened - the Devil wanted to fly! - and the roots from the forest floor began to swirl up around them in a cyclonic whirlwind and the leaves on the trees shook even more violently in the quake and the birds screamed higher into the firmament and I decided right then and there that I would never never never ever call Pete a Bambi during the rutting season as long as I lived. No way.

Uh, oh yeah!, and then I jumped to my feet and drew my 14 inch Jim Bowie sawmill steel blade - ground on a water cooled wheel - Enlightenment Homeland defense knife from its handmade scabbard and I rushed at the miserable Devil bastard myself. I leaped onto the foul things back between those wildly flapping black wings that stunk like maggots and sulphur and gagging ignorance itself and held on for everything I was worth. It was like wrestling a giant demon turkey. Which I kind of chuckled about at the time because it was like the day after Thanksgiving and kinda ironic and well, never mind....

I held on as that horrible thing thrashed and snarled and tried to shake free and its neck snaked up and down twisting like a viper and finally I took my knife and with all my strenght I jabbed the blade deep into the beasts throat and with all my body weight I leaned into the torque and tore with all my might through skin and bone and grissle and the thick dead scales of ages old mythology until that godamned marrow sucking knob dropped off and landed in a stinking stupid hissing heap right next to its own flapping headless winged body.

Pete pulled free and I slid from the back of the Devil and we both just stood there all sweaty and a lookin' at each other. Even Pete was sweaty. And Petes a deer. Hey, you try killing Satan and see if you don't sweat. But nevertheless we had killed the Devil and the leaves on the trees stopped shaking and we were really exhausted but in a manly action kind of ehausted way. Like after a full day of skiing or hours spent drowning Grover Norguist in a toilet bowl of his own vomit or something physically and spiritually envigorating like that.

So anyway, to make a long story longer, the Devil was still twitching around and gurgling and acting weird there on the ground so I went back to the house and got a chainsaw and some gasoline and some matches and a weedeater and some big plastic leaf bags and I came back and cut and hacked and mutilated the Devil up into little tiny deviled egg sized pieces and me and Pete piled em up and I poured the gasoline over the things and lit the whole stinkin' mess on fire.

And we watched Hell burn. Sitting right there in the piney woods on a sunny autumn afternoon, with the birds twittering in the trees, me and a frisbee catching deer named Pete watched Hell itself go up in smoke. Who woulda thunk it huh? Think about it. It's was a humbling experience.

And who would have thought killing the Devil would be so easy. All things considered that is. Afterall the guy did have quite a reputation. Well, anyway, me and Pete were impressed with ourselves.

I told Pete: Pete, I said, after we get done spreading these burnt remains around the parking lot at the WalMart I'm gonna call Jesus and tell him what we done.

Pete liked that idea because Pete hates the WalMart parking lot as much as I do and even though Pete is a Druid and still belives that story about Santa Claus and the flying reindeers and all that nonsense and doesn't even know who Jesus is Pete was all for callin' up Jesus and indicated that I should tell everyone else I knew about how we killed the Devil. Especially those morons who publish deer hunting magazines. Pete had an agenda. And I didn't blame him.

So later that night I called Jesus and I said Jesus, I killed the fucking Devil! Then I said sorry, I didn't mean to say 'fucking'. And Jesus said don't worry about it farmer, I've had guys hammer nails through my hands for Christ sake, do you really think 'fucking' bothers me?

I could see his point of course. Jesus is not some limped dicked oped-columnist from TownHall.com or the National Review or one of those fainting rooms - afterall. Then Jesus asked me to tell him all about how we killed the Devil. And so I told him all about how me and Pete killed the Devil and he said, good job mates!, thanked us for saving America and western civilization and Kansas and some other places too and then he told me that becaus of what Pete and I had done he could get back to some regular yard work.

Whatever that means.

Finally Jesus asked me if there was anything he could do to repay Pete and I for taking the Devil off his hands. So I asked him if he would visit D. James Kennedy at the Coral Ridge Ministry in Fort Lauderdale Florida and kick the little jerk in the nuts for us. Just for the hell of it. And Jesus laughed and said he'd been meaning to get around to kicking that jerk in the nuts for a long time but would certainly take additional pleasure in the chore now that me and Pete had killed the Devil. Ha, that Jesus, what a cut-up!

He even told me he'd make Jerry Falwell's penis shrivel up like a little dried mealy worm and poison Tim LaHayes food with polio but then I cut him off, although I was grateful, these Biblical guys can go on and on with the horrors, ya know, and because I also wanted to ask Jesus if he could make reindeers fly over my house at least once this Winter on Petes behalf. He told me Pete could count on it because he knew many Druids personally and the next time he had dinner on the heathered moors during the solstice festivus he'd make sure Pete got his honorary flyover.

I thanked Jesus and hung up before he finished telling me all the horible things he had in mind for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

In any case. The Devil is dead. Ok. So all the fundamentalist Christians can relax and just knock off the hysterical bullshit. You no longer have a monsters lap to heave your bogeymen into. The end times have been terminated. There isn't going to be an end times any more you stupid assholes because the Devil is dead. Ha ha. Dead! Hell has been liberated and Heaven reserved for scary Jewish comedians and blah blah blah.... And Jesus has been notified and the real Enlightenment is back on schedule. Unless you're fat Jerry Falwell's tiny twitching dried up penis in which case, uh, oh well... you got what was a comin' to ya. Heh heh, amen.

And thats my story. So decreed by the newly appointed honorary Seraphim of the first circle of the heavenly heirarchy "the farmer" and "Pete the Deer".

So don't press your luck Jeebofascists. Me and Pete killed the Devil. We can take you out like a cheap lightbulb.

pro bono publico

*

Signs of Thunder, Signs of Hope 

This woman is a patriot, a heroine who loves her country and the truth. And she is braver than I would be if I lived to be a thousand.


(via NYT)
Last Thursday morning, Natalia Dimitruk, an interpreter for the deaf on the Ukraine's official state UT-1 television, disregarded the anchor's report on Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich's "victory" and, in her small inset on the screen, began to sign something else altogether.

"The results announced by the Central Electoral Commission are rigged," she said in the sign language used in the former Soviet states. "Do not believe them."

She went on to declare that Viktor A. Yushchenko, the opposition leader, was the country's new president. "I am very disappointed by the fact that I had to interpret lies," she went on. "I will not do it any more. I do not know if you will see me again."

Ms. Dimitruk's act of defiance, which she described in an interview on Sunday as an agonized one, became part of a growing revolt by a source of [President Leonid D.] Kuchma's political power as important as any other: state television.

In Ukraine, as in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, state ownership or control over the media, especially television, exerts immense control over political debate, shoring up public attitudes not only about the state, but also about the opposition. The state's manipulation of coverage was among the reasons that observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called the Nov. 21 vote fundamentally unfair.
More than 200 journalists at UT-1 went on strike Thursday to demand the right to present an objective account of the extraordinary events that have unfolded since the vote, forcing the channel to broadcast a feed from another network before capitulating. Ms. Dimitruk walked out of the studio and joined them, protesting coverage that was skewed almost entirely on behalf of Mr. Yanukovich's campaign before and after the runoff election.
Any of this sound at all familiar? Especially that part about "control over the media" and "public attitudes"?

Remember Natalia Dimitruk's name. Cite it every time you write some representative of the sniveling excuse for a media we have in this country, who whine that they dare not ask impolite questions or tell the truths they know "because they might deny us access, and then we couldn't do our jobs boo hoo, boo hoo."

You ain't doing your jobs NOW, you blow-dried, sparkle-toothed, award-festooned, party-going, co-opted bunch of hacks!


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

After a long, long day of travel—time to slide the suitcase under my tiny bed in the room under the stairs at The Mighty Corrente Building; I'll deal with unpacking, and the laundry that comes from unpacking, later. Like maybe just before my next trip....

And tomorrow I'll catch up, I swear. Especially on the vegetables thing.

Stomp the Weasels (Pt. 1) 

Down in comments on the story about the Pope Foundation and its ilk and UNC, I mentioned that I was keeping a little list of the circle-jerk which is the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. This caused Esteemed Reader Granny Insanity to ask:
Xan, is your list of groups posted anywhere? It would be very useful to know.

I know that Dave Johnson has a lot of info on the right posted at his site, but we need a site that just identifies everyone and their financial connections.

I have only been at this for a couple of years, and although I stumble upon things from time to time, I don't know how to do the footwork on my own.

How about giving a tutorial, or mentoring those of us that want to do more but just don't know how? Please?
grannyinsanity
Us grannies have to stick together, so by gum, let's start with the list. It was compiled by the scientific method, viz, every time I saw an Expert on TV, whose expertitude was established by his or her connection to a particular institution, and the said Expert used the air time to justify, support, or lend credence to the Bush Administration--a note would be made. It is in no particular order after the first Note of Ignominy:

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI). I mean, duh--the Fountainhead of Fog, is it not? At least some media are starting to identify them as "the conservative-leaning" AEI, which is like saying "the slightly moist Pacific Ocean."

The Heritage Foundation. They fund and publish Townhall, need I say more? Not to be confused with the National Heritage Foundation which is an admirable group which tries to preserve old buildings and such. In fact a Google of their name is not much help because there are so damn many other groups with "Heritage" in their names. This is, btw, the common theme you will see through these groups: their names always sound bland, vanilla, pro-fuzzy-puppies, and generally Virtuous. Be not fooled.

Club For Growth. Not sure whether they should be confused with THIS Club For Growth (the first is a .org and the second is a .com) but from what Google shows they're either one and the same or a bicephalic circus freak. (No offense to real circus freaks intended, the carnie life is a clean and honorable one compared to these folks.) Google has more.

The Claremont Institute. Don't know much about these flakes except they have the attitude towards war that I have towards chocolate: Ain't No Such Thing As Too Much. Here's what Google says.

The Federalist Society. These guys really baffle me, they are judges and other legalistas who do for the rights of an independent, strong judiciary what Phyllis Schlafley does for women's equality: undercut and oppose it at every turn. Bush loves these judges and they love him back. The google on their name will give you more.

The Future of Freedom Foundation. They claim to be so libertarian they think Ayn Rand was a suspicious character, but somehow every time one of their people gets on TV he loves everything Bush is doing. (Um, guys, you want to rethink that "limited government" idea and get back to me?) Smells like a front group IMHO. But Google for yourself to decide.

Competitive Enterprise Institute. Per the Google, it seems these guys are trying to do for the environmental movement what the Federalist Society does for the judiciary: cut its guts out and leave them steaming on the asphalt. "Called "the best environmental think tank in the country" by The Wall Street Journal" which should tell you something.

The Free Market Foundation does things like " Free Market Foundation Co-Sponsored a Conference to Stop Misuse of International
Law in US Courts 27 Oct 2004". As this Google indicates there is another organization with the same name, based in--you ready?--South Africa. Permission for eye-rolling granted.

***

This is a very preliminary gathering. I am far from the first person to have this idea, and those who have been at it longer include MediaTransparency.org, the Disinfopedia wiki on the subject, and any number of others.

What I would like folks to do is look for outfits like the Pope Foundation. These weasels have dens all OVER the damn place and it is our mission to find and mark them.

I am not advocating that these establishments be put out of business, persecuted, boycotted, repressed, depressed, suppressed, or anything else. I just want them identified for the right-wing nutsos that they are. NOT as unbiased, objective commentators, whatever the issue and whatever the medium in which they are given a forum to speak.

Should any of our readers know the arcane art of grant-proposal-writing, or have connections with the MacArthur Foundation folks who hand out the Genius Grants, or a knack for picking good lottery tickets for that matter, let's see what we can do to start our Progressive organizations to match each and every one of them.

If you run across a Weasel-y appearing group in your reading, or know of one in your area, or that has tried to meddle in your school, your church, your college, your business, your profession, hell, your bowling league:--drop a note in "Comments." When this one scrolls out of range just note it "OT" (off topic) and drop in any thread.

Just please don't use the "email us" box on this page if you can help it, that goes to a Yahoo address that nobody checks but Farmer 'cuz none of the rest of us can remember the passwords.

One Tentacle of the Octopus 

Not everybody who wants to give you money is your friend.

(via NC News&Observer)
CHAPEL HILL -- "Canine Cultural Studies" at UNC-Chapel Hill was named Course of the Month, but that was no great honor.

The freshman seminar got the title -- and a public skewering -- this year on the Web site of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Professor Alice Kuzniar was shocked to be lampooned by the conservative think tank.

"I feel it's such an incredible misrepresentation of what we're doing in the classroom," she said. "We're reading Virginia Woolf. We're reading Franz Kafka."

Emotions are so strong that some want the university to refuse a potential multimillion-dollar grant by the related John William Pope Foundation.

The money would finance a minor in Western culture studies. The plan was developed by a faculty committee after the university approached the Pope family for a large donation. The foundation gave $25,000 to plan the program.

The Popes, of Raleigh, are one of the Triangle's richest families, and they've given generously to conservative causes and universities. Their foundation is named for John Pope, a former UNC-CH trustee. It is run by his son, Art Pope, a UNC-CH alumnus and former Republican state legislator.

Some faculty members and students fear the proposed UNC-CH program could threaten academic freedom and usurp the faculty's authority to set curriculum. A graduate student association has opposed it, professors spoke against it last week, and the undergraduate Student Congress could take up a resolution against it in January.

Art Pope said the foundation would decide on the grant in December or January. The program would cost $600,000 or $700,000 a year for five years, after which the foundation would decide whether to set up a permanent endowment. That would be about $12 million.

"A protest by a few is not going to prevent us from funding programs available to all students at Chapel Hill," he said.

The Pope Foundation has supported a number of schools. This year, it gave N.C. State University $511,500 to develop courses that explore relationships between economics and politics in free societies.

The foundation also supports conservative groups, including giving more than $26,000 to the Committee for a Better Carolina. That UNC-CH student group bought newspaper ads last year criticizing the university's freshman reading assignment, "Nickel and Dimed," as a liberal rant.

The center was founded in 1996 as a branch of the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank. Besides the Course of the Month selections on its Web site, the center conducts policy studies on issues such as affirmative action, faculty salaries, tuition and higher education financing.

THE JOHN WILLIAM POPE FOUNDATION

The foundation is named for John William Pope, a former UNC-Chapel Hill trustee. His son, Art Pope, a former state legislator, is president of the family philanthropic organization. The Popes made a fortune from the family business, Variety Wholesalers Inc. of Raleigh, which operates more than 500 stores in 14 states, including chains such as Roses, Maxway, Super 10 and Bargain Town.

The foundation is the major backer behind the John Locke Foundation, the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law. It also gave the state Republican Party $500,000 for its Raleigh headquarters, which is named for the Popes.

THE JOHN WILLIAM POPE CENTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION POLICY

Founded in 1996 as a project of the John Locke Foundation. It is now an independent organization with six employees and offices in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. It is primarily financed by the John William Pope Foundation. Art Pope serves on the board of directors.

The center issues policy reports and hires consultants to conduct studies of curriculum, college rankings, higher education spending, affirmative action and faculty compensation. It is currently looking into women's studies programs at UNC-CH, NCSU, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte and East Carolina University.
This is how the VRWC works. One "foundation" spins off another "center" and pretty soon you're into "policy" and CNN producers know your people are reliable talking heads available at a moment's notice to analyze things.

I've started keeping a list of these groups. It isn't all funded by Scaife and it goes way beyond AEI. When a university starts talking about turning down a $12 million "donation" you know they know what these guys are really up to: no good.

Damn Those Radical Girl Scouts 

An answer for which there just is no question:

(via Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Trisha Conlin doesn't hesitate to call herself "the mouth of the South" when it comes to telling people about American Heritage Girls. However, she also says the organization pretty much sells itself.

AHG was begun in 1995 by a group of parents unhappy with changes being made in the Girl Scouts of America. AHG national director Patti Garibay had been a Girl Scout leader for 13 years and became concerned in 1993 when the organization changed the Girl Scout promise to make God optional in the oath.

Aside from not requiring a belief in God, the organization also refused to take a stand on the issue of alternative lifestyles. These were strong concerns for some Christians in the organization.

"The final straw as a Christian and as a [Girl Scout] leader was when I was told that my troop couldn't sing Christmas carols," Garibay said. "If I can't share my Christian witness any longer in the Girl Scouts, what good was I doing?"
Well, duh! If a bunch of silly rules about "acceptance" means you can't explain to a growing girl that God makes lesbians just so He can send them to Hell, what's the point of much of anything? It all comes of allowing that "free thinking" shit, dag nabbit. Next thing you know some girl will be thinking she's the next Thomas Jefferson or something, we can't have that.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

corrente.blogspot.com
~ Since 2003 ~


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