Saturday, December 20, 2003

Why not relegate Safire and Brooks to the Arts Section 

and put Frank Rich on the Op-Ed page, next to Krugman, where he belongs? One of the many gems in Rich's analysis:

A tough new anti-Dean attack ad has been put up on the campaign's own site, where it's a magnet for hundreds of thousands of dollars in new contributions.

Dean could turn Bush's $200 million into a negative, couldn't he? Internet judo!

Oh, why put Safire and Brooks in the Arts section? Well, they exemplify the principles of that classic by Sun Tzu: The Art of Whores...

An amazing statistic treated as a throwaway line 

Adam Nagourney of the Times writes:

38 percent say they do not believe that Mr. Bush was legitimately elected.

Cyncicism? No. Realism. The Romans lost their Republic when they chose Empire. Have we?

Of course, given what we now know about electronic voting technology (back) there will be no reason to regard a "win" by Bush in 2004 as legitimate either. Fool me once ...

Q: How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 

["DIM A: You! Go change that lightbulb!

Of course, there are more such jokes—but there can't be too many. Ridicule is an excellent weapon against tyranny.

From alert reader stradiotto:

Q: How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: None! The failed policy of appeasing the darkness has brought us enough trouble.

From alert reader mjs:

Q: How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: The White House does not release information that may jeopardize the security of the United States.

From alert reader agitpropre (slightly edited)

Q: Mr President, Howard Dean has said lightbulbs burn out, that they can actually cease to provide light. Can you comment?
A: He is entitled to his opinion. But when it comes to lightbulbs, actually changing lightbulbs. I am the one who has to make the tough decisions.

From alert reader NTodd:

Q: How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Scott McClellan: I am not aware of any issue with lightbulbs at this time. I suggest you ask the people in charge of changing the lightbulbs. We have always said the White House will work closely with the lightbulb changers to make sure America is safe and well-lit.

From alert reader Flory:

Q: How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: What difference does it make?

From alert reader bizutti (slightly edited):

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, just how many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Rumsfeld: You see, there are lights that we know don't light, and there are lights that we don't know don't light. What makes you think that we can predict which kind your [waving hand imperiously] so-called hypothetical light bulb is referring to?

From alert reader emal (slightly edited)

Q: How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: At least 3:

1 to give the order
1 to award the non-competitive/no bid government contract
1 to have a financial relationship or connection to the company awarded the contract, such as CEO, past/current president or board member,substantial pension/stock options in said company. This person may also be a former government employee whose family is closely connected with person number 1 or his administration, or may be a large donor to the election campaign of person number 1.

UPDATE: People seem to have having fun with this, so I'm moving it up.
UPDATE: Ditto, ditto.
UPDATE: Ditto, ditto. Thanks to farmer for inspired "dim bulb" graphic! (I missed the "43W" the first time).
UPDATE: Ditto, ditto, ditto. I'm still trying to work out the one that goes, "Republicans don't screw in a lightbulb, they screw in a"—gotta get that parallelism in there, or "Republican's don't screw. They"—but I can't quite get it right.... In any case, all contributions gratefully recieved....

Saddam really captured three months ago and kept on ice? 

David Pratt of the Scottish Sunday Herald writes:

But perhaps the mother of all conspiracy theories, is the one about the pictures distributed by the Americans showing the hideout with a palm tree behind the soldier who uncovered the hole where Saddam was hiding. The palm carried a cluster of pre-ripened yellow dates, which might suggest that Saddam was arrested at least three months earlier, because dates ripen in the summer when they turn into their black or brown colour.

Interesting, if true.

Lots of good detail on Kurdish involvement as well.

Bush endorses Whiney Joe 


When US President George W. Bush visited Canberra in October, he told his friend [Prime Minister] John Howard that the Democratic candidate who, if he won the primaries, would be his most formidable opponent in the 2004 presidential election was Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman," the newspaper reported. "What a fantastic irony it would be if the capture of Saddam Hussein this week led to the derailing of former Vermont governor Howard Dean's anti-war candidacy and Bush had to face the formidable Lieberman in November."

Wow! Honesty is the new irony!

Preventive war in the Cuban missile crisis would have blown us to smithereens 

Those who won't learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Bringing the hammer down 

Krauthammer, that is.

Read Daily Howler's demolition job, and ask yourself why WaPo is still giving this fraud a platform.

The shorter David Brooks 

For workers: Less butter over even less bread.

What a whore.

Why don't they sell all they have and give it to the poor? 


In Prestonwood Baptist Church's retelling, brightly lit angels with fluttering, 12-foot-long organza gowns, shiny headbands and red wigs fly over a sanctuary filled with about 6,500 spectators.

The angels hang six stories up - suspended from harnesses attached to 150-foot long tracks on the sanctuary's ceiling. Fifteen operators with wired headsets control the angels' movement toward the stage, where shepherds with real sheep herald the Messiah's arrival.

There's a word for this. It starts with "i"....



Ideology? No, wait, I've got it:


So, why don't they sell the wigs and the organza gowns, and use the money to feed some poor people who don't know where their next meal is coming from? Because they're SICs (Self-identified Christians), that's why. Woe to you, hypocrites, Pharisees!


As usual, Atrios nails it.

Though the timing is a little odd, isn't it? They work on the deal for nine months, and then, while Saddam's capture is still in the news...

Anyhow, it was sanctions, not the war. The timing is just a little backhander from Qaddafi. WaPo:

Libya's stunning decision yesterday to surrender its weapons of mass destruction followed two decades of international isolation and some of the world's most punishing economic sanctions. In the end, Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gaddafi was under so much pressure that he was forced to seek an end to the economic and political isolation threatening his government -- and his own survival, according to U.S. and British officials and outside experts.

So, try to restrain that strut, Pretzel Boy.

And, oh yeah, the oil. Reuters:

Lifting sanctions could allow U.S. oil companies back into Libya, where they once produced more than one million barrels per day (bpd) and where oil facilities could reach two million bpd within five years, the U.S. Energy Department says.

U.S. sanctions dating from 1982 and strengthened in 1986, ban the import of Libyan crude oil, as well as direct trade and commercial contracts, and keep U.S. firms out of Libya. (Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau in Vienna; Heba Kandil in Dubai and Bernard Woodall in New York)

Share your feelings with Ralph 

Should he run in 2004?

At the TLB Showcase 

Apologies to Chris Brown for not posting this link sooner. It's been one of those kinda weeks.

CB, appearing thru the weekend at the TLB Showcase

When Gov. Kindergarten Cop repealed the increased vehicle license fee (or "tax" as the conservatives like to say) it meant fewer money to city governments. Well lo and behold, now the cities want the state to pay the difference on the backs of other essential services, or the cities will have to cuts in local departments, including Police and Fire. Let's do the math here, the Federal government won't raise taxes, the state government won't raise taxes, and the local government won't raise taxes....but as the population grows the need for services grows with it. In addition, our infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc) needs improvement or upkeep. How will we pay for these things?

Read What's so funny about peace, love, and higher taxes
by: Chris "Lefty" Brown

Friday, December 19, 2003

A little Creedence for the boomers 

Long as I remember
The rain been comin' down
Clouds of myst'ry pourin'
Confusion on the ground
Good men through the ages
Tryin' to find the sun
And I wonder
Still I wonder
Who'll stop the wh-i-i-i-i-n-e....

Man. Whiney Joe is getting more and more tiresome... I've always said I'd vote for any Democrat over Bush, but my virtue is being sorely, sorely tested.

Great work, Mr. President! 


President Bush signed legislation Friday that outlaws selling and shipping lions, tigers and other big cats across state lines without the proper permit or accreditation.

Gosh, though—I sure hope Bush checked with Frist before signing any legislation about cats. (What is it with the Republican leadership and torturing small animals, anyhow? Frist, cats; Bush, frogs; even DéLay, bugs).

And how are the Republicans going to get a quorum if shipping weasels across state lines is a crime?

No, but seriously, we get a law like this... We get a sixty-hour straight-to-winger-video filibuster... But what we can't get is, oh, the appropriations bill that would fund the government for FY2004... That's only two months late...

Republican killer to appeal conviction 

Yep, that's Representative Janklow, the serial speeder who ran down Randy Scott in his car. We haven't been hearing much about "the rule of law" from Republicans lately; I wonder why? Isn't it great to see the media all over this one? Oh, wait...

Anyhow, Janklow only killed someone. It's not like he got a blow-job or anything. So, he's appealing (in the judicial sense, I mean). And the beauty part:

On Friday, the official judgment of Janklow's conviction was entered into the court record. He is to be sentenced Jan. 22, two days after his resignation from the U.S. House takes effect.

Janklow's original sentencing date was set for Jan. 20, but a scheduling conflict has delayed his sentencing.

January 20, eh? That's when Congress reconvenes. Could it be that Thug leadership needs prisoner Janklow's vote really bad, either on the energy bill or the budget bill? Dealing with felons doesn't bother this crowd one bit, does it? As long as the job gets done....

Wonder how Randy Scott's family feels about this?

Bush: The Minister of Fear 

So, do you feel safer?

I don't think you do (I don't)—but not for the usual reasons.

First, AQ speaks yet again:

An audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden's deputy in Al Qaeda, aired on Arab television today, warned that the terror group would target Americans "in their homeland" and would drive U.S. forces from bases in the region.

Next, the calculated leak:

A classified Bush administration report has found that the largest counterterrorism exercise conducted by the federal government since the Sept. 11 attacks was marred by communications problems, serious shortages of medical supplies and hospital rooms and confusion over where the residue of a radiological attack would spread, administration officials said on Thursday.

The five-day exercise last May in Chicago and Seattle, known as Topoff 2, tested the response of federal agencies and local governments to nearly simultaneous terrorist attacks using biological agents and a so-called dirty bomb, a crude radiological device.

Look, I can blast the administration on this one: Frankly, Bush's arrogance, incompetence, cynicism, ruthlessness, and lust for power scare me a lot more than AQ.

But I think, with Bush, it's "watch what he does, not what he says" time now. Untangling the lies is good clean fun, but it takes a lot of energy, and the returns are diminishing now anyhow. So in that mode, what's the net result of a new AQ announcement and a leak that Homeland Security still isn't working?


Why do we never hear "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" from Bush?

Can anyone doubt that keeping us fearful is what Bush intends?

Can anyone doubt that Bush intends to keep us in fear because it is in his interest to do so?

Think! Is AQ and terror worse than Vietnam? Worse than Korea? Worse than World War II? Worse than World War I? Worse than the Civil War? No, no, no, no, no, and no.

So why does the war on terror justify the extreme measures Bush has taken to dismantle our civil liberties, militarize the government and the culture, pack the courts, and gut the New Deal?

The answer is, it doesn't. But people don't think straight when they're in fear. Which is why Bush wants to keep us that way.

Diebold voting machine programmer convicted of "tampering with computer files" 

This is almost too rich!

Via Atrios at Wired News (though the site seems quite slow: I wonder why!)

Voter advocate Bev Harris alleged Tuesday that managers of a subsidiary of Diebold Inc., one of the country's largest voting equipment vendors, included a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions and a programmer jailed for falsifying computer records.

The programmer, Jeffrey Dean, wrote and maintained proprietary code used to count hundreds of thousands of votes as senior vice president of Global Election Systems. Diebold purchased GES in January 2002.

According to a public court document released before GES hired him, Dean served time in a Washington state correctional facility for stealing money and tampering with computer files in a scheme that "involved a high degree of sophistication and planning."

Maybe the planning to tamper with computer files was the background check, eh?

Given this new information, and given the statement by Deibold's head of election systems, Wally O'Dell that "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president [Bush] next year," and given what we now know about how Florida purged the electoral rolls of Democrats using technology, I think it's time for us to start questioning the legitimacy of the 2004 elections, wherever electronic voting technology is being used.

After Florida 2000, only a fool would think that the Republicans won't do whatever it takes to hold onto power, and that includes widespread and undetectable vote tampering.

We know the Republicans have the motive, the means, and the opportunity. We know they have a record. Now we see them putting criminals in place to carry out the crime. Why wait to blow the whistle?

Thursday, December 18, 2003

After lying, looting is what Republicans do best! 

Alan Fram of AP writes:

Government watchdog groups criticized Sen. Ted Stevens on Thursday following a newspaper report that the Senate's senior Republican had grown wealthy from investments with people who benefited from legislation he helped write.

Heck, it's not like Stevens got blowjob or anything. In fact, it's business as usual in Bush's America!

Saving Bush's narrow ass on WMDs 

Since David Kelly is bailing.

Now it appears Bush is going to wire Saddam's show trial to solve his WMD woes.

From Haaretz (thanks to alert reader kelley b):
ATHENS - Deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein could be offered a deal in which he would give his captors information on if and how he hid weapons of mass destruction and if he smuggled some of them into Syria. In exchange, he would face life imprisonment and not be executed for war crimes, senior Iraqis attending a conference here on the future of the region have hinted.

On to Syria!

Another lump of coal from Bush 

Adam Geller of AP writes
The chill in year-end bonuses partly reflects companies' continued concerns about the economy and their own earnings, despite a rebound in corporate profits. After several years of limiting salary and wage increases and shifting benefit costs to employees, some companies are now looking to bonuses for cost-savings.

Right. Not to executive salaries, bonuses, stock options, perks ....

But it also is part of a long-term change, pronounced since the mid-1990s, analysts say. More companies are canning the set bonuses they believe workers take for granted in favor of variable "pay-for-performance" plans that pay smaller rewards when times are tight.

Right. So you get less money if you perform better in hard times. Seems to be the reverse for the CEOs, though. I wonder why that is?

I'm so tired of hearing about how "the economy" is doing better, when the jobs picture is still dismal, bonuses are down, Bush is trying to screw us out of overtime, you name it. When are people going to do better, instead of this mythical "economy"?

What did Bush know and when did he know it? 


For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented.

"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen."

Appointed by the Bush administration, Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, is now pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame.

"There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed. They simply failed," Kean said.

Asked whether we should at least know if people sitting in the decision-making spots on that critical day are still in those positions, Kean said, "Yes, the answer is yes. And we will."

I guess if Saddam hadn't been captured, this would be front page news... And it's great to see the Beltway Dem candidates jumping all over this one. Oh, wait...

Beltway Dem candidates just not serious about winning 

It's that circular firing squad again. I mean, Senators are known for thinking they can and should be President (each one of them) but this is getting ridiculous. And it's not Whiney Joe this time ...

I remember an old Russian story:

An angel comes down from heaven, stands before a Russian peasant and grants him a single wish.

The peasant doesn't even hesitate.

"I wish my neighbor's cow was dead."

Remind you of anything? Could it be the behavior of the Beltway Dems and the Stop Dean types? Check out this quote from a senior advisor to the Kerry campaign:

"The fundamental underpinning of [Dean's] campaign is, 'I am the straight shooter who will tell you the truth no matter what. And I have stood up for these principles the entire campaign,' " said the advisor, who asked not to be named. "To the extent that is demonstrated to be fundamentally untrue, he becomes just another politician. And that really hurts him."

Not just "him," you loser! All Democrats! Maybe Kerry's problems have more to do with his choice of advisors, or his message... Could it be?

Bush busily wiring up a show trial for Saddam 

Michael Moran of MSNBC writes:

“There is no way anything that transpires with Saddam will ever be described as a plea agreement,” a U.S. official says, requesting anonymity. “There are ways to make sure a death penalty isn’t imposed, though. I don’t think it will come to that, but if the information is there, there is nothing stopping it”


Two days ago, we were going to have a trial for Saddam that would "withstand international scrutiny."

Yesterday, Bush gave in to his blood lust and said he wanted Saddam dead.

Today, anonymous US officials take plea bargaining off the table, and talk about the inner workings of the trial as if, well, they were in charge ...

What's so tragic and stupid about all of this, and so indicative of Thug behavior generally, is that an actual judicial proceeding, as at the Hague, would be:

  • better for Iraqis, who need to see a system of justice at work where the results aren't pre-ordained by their ruler (now Bush)

  • better for the Arab would, who would see the rule of law in action (not that Bush gives the rule of law anything other than lip service)

  • better for us, since if the Iraqis ended up condemning Saddam themselves, in an open and transparent judicial forum, the bunker-less and Democratic citizens of our great cities would be far less likely to be the target for revenge killings....

You'd almost think Bush wanted chaos to continue, wouldn't you?

Meanwhile, building the case is expected to take a long time. I'd say Fine! if I had confidence that the Iraqis were really running the show, but as it is I'm imagining Saddam "finally breaking down" and revealing WMD information on, say, November 9, 2004, with enough time to break the story but not enough time for it to be investigated ....

Sharon tears up "road map" 


Another triumph for Bush diplomacy.

Maybe it brings the Rapture closer? No, apparently not.

Bush Ministry of Truth 

Dana Milbank of WaPo writes:

This is not the first time the administration has done some creative editing of government Web sites. After the insurrection in Iraq proved more stubborn than expected, the White House edited the original headline on its Web site of President Bush's May 1 speech, "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," to insert the word "Major" before combat.

Down the memory hole!

The $110,000 yawn 

Crisco Johnny not only loses to a dead man, he breaks the Federal election law doing it.

It couldn't be clearer: when the Thugs talk about accountability, responsibility, the rule of law, and all that, that applies to you. For themselves, they're grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, any way that they can, and laughing all the way to the bank. But it's great to see our media watchdogs all over this one. Oh, wait...

Media yawns, citizens yawn, even Democrats yawn ...

Business as usual in Bush's America!

Republican National Convention Dada 

Gimme an A! A!

Gimme a W! W!

Gimme an O! O!

GImme an L! L!

What's that spell? aWol!

What's that spell?aWol!

What's that spell? aWol!

And who knows... The story might get covered.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Prayer, or something we don't know about yet? 

An all-time great teaser headline from WaPo's front page:

Bush to Have Tests on Both Knees

Hey, I thought this kind of joke went out with Monica!

Where have we seen this before? 

Our superbly trained troops execute a flawless and well-covered maneuver, with the immediate issuing of lots of video (including dramatic medical data), a huge media frenzy, and a pop for Bush in the polls.

Then, months later, we learn it was a stunt, and everything Bush and the eager SCLM told us, and all the events that we "saw," turn out to be lies.

Jessica Lynch, right? Fool me once ....

Not that Saddam's capture would fall into that category, of course (though see below).

Tresy's right—enough with the Martha Stewart already!


Ken Lay, Ruthless Enron CEO - In Custody!

HOUSTON: Federal law enforcement officials in Houston Texas have confirmed that the man captured early this morning in a remote area of Waller County Texas is in fact the former Enron strongman Kenneth Lay. Lay's capture comes nearly two years after his brutal corpoarate regime of terror collapsed in late 2001.

"The tyrant is a prisoner," shouted Pauline Bremmerman, a former employee of Lay's power corrupt Enronian dictatorship. "My entire family and future were nearly destroyed by this ruthless greedy liar lunatic," Bremmerman remarked. "I'm glad they got the bastard, and I hope they lock him up in a little tiny dank SuperMax hidey-hole, just like the one they noodled him out of."

Law enforcement investigators were tipped off late yesterday to the possibility of Lay's whereabouts when a local waitress reported hearing rumors of a bearded old man trading in weather forecast futures and living beneath a foam rubber mattress pad under the floorboards of an abandoned radiator repair shop near the banks of the Brazos River in western Waller County.

Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials, including a heavily armed division of the Hempstead Jaycees, assembled an advance operational command post just before dawn and by early morning had narrowed their search down to the abandoned radiator shop and a tool storage shed behind Miss Ida Mae Beauregard Hampton's Plastic Illuminated Holiday Lawn Ornament Emporium.

A Special Weapons And Tactics team discovered Lay cowering under the foam rubber mattress pad inside the radiator shop at about 9am when a small dog named Ernie began barking wildly at a debased Brooks Brother sock laying at the rear of the building. A short search of the interior of the vacant garage resulted in Lay's capture.

Lay surrendered peacefully, but was "purty dis-oriented," as sheriff deputy Bobby Wilson Pickett Lee Wilson noted while dunking a fat sorghum-glazed donut into a hot styrofoam cup of fresh coffee. "Shee'it, I ain't seen excitment like this 'round these parts since pastor Eunice Crowley went crazy like a horn-dog and run off to Branson Missouri with the Marshfield twins," concluded Wilson.

In any event, the unshaved and disheveled former Enron despot who emerged from under the radiator shop floorboards was a shaky shadow of the belligerent high profile titan who controlled commodity trading floor rape rooms, accounting book torture chambers, cozy offshore financial partnerships, money laundering terror networks, and hoodwink investor scams designed to bilk his own people out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lay, bearded and tick-bit, and babbling about a dead battery in a stolen golf cart parked beside the building, was led away by law enforcement officials and transported to a hospital facility in Prairie View where he was given a complete medical examination and a haircut. Waller County officials later photographed Lay, mainly for the novelty hell of it, and he was moved to a secure location in Houston for further interrogation and delicing.

Ironically, Kenneth Lay, the once celebrated CEO super-leader-hero of Enron Corporation, was found groveling in a dirty hole only miles from the shimmering glass tower corporate kingdom of fraud that he and his Fastow Party loyalists had built. No more number one patron of a GOP "President". No more limited-liability companies. No more magic balance sheets. No more lap dances in the executive suite. No more palaces in Aspen or summer homes in South Hampton. No more JEDI and Chewco and cute Star Wars characters soaring off to regulate distant cosmic energy universes. Nope. Nothing left but a dead battery a stolen golf cart and a bad jailhouse haircut.

Spokesperson's for the Bush White House refused to comment fully on Lay's capture, saying only that "President Bush is personally unfamiliar with Mr. Lay and his tragic circumstances, but enjoyed his potato chips for many years." Vice President Cheney was unavailable for comment and reportedly swaddled away in a secret undisclosed underground spider-hole location of his own.

Scaife-funded bigots to split Episcopal church 


I seem to remember that Jesus would sit down to dinner with just about anyone. These SICs won't ("Woe to you, hypocrites, Pharisees!").

Interesting geography for the "dissident" dioceses though:

Albany; Pittsburgh; San Joaquin in California; South Carolina; Florida, Central Florida, and Southwest Florida; Dallas and Fort Worth; Quincy and Springfield in Illinois; Western Kansas; and Rio Grande, which includes parts of Texas and New Mexico.

Red states, and the red parts of Blue states. I'd say this is a precursor to the 2004 elections, which will be very, very ugly.

Although, in my opinion, civil unions is a wedge issue that works for Democrats. Because of the courage of many thousands coming out, the families (can you say Cheney? Gephardt?) who can deny this obvious civil right are in the minority, and the families who practice the kind of demonization Thugs are so very good at are even more so.

We can hope, anyhow.

Republican National Convention Dada 

Since Bush had the infernal gall to first poison New Yorkers by suppressing EPA reports about Manhattan air quality after 9/11, and then to politicize a national tragedy by holding the Republican National Convention in Manhattan on the anniversary of the tragedy, I think it only fitting that Manhattanites give him the kind of welcome he deserves ....

Presumably, despite disclaimers, plans are afoot to have some some functionary lay the cornerstone at the Twin Towers site during the convention.

I suggest that Manhattanites protect the Twin Towers site from Thug exploitation by joining hands to surround it with a human chain. Would need to happen well before the convention... Food and relief would have to be brought to the links in the chain... People would need to bring many video cameras and lots of cell phones that take photographs...

Big (I sure couldn't organize it!) but do-able, and a great image of what this country is really all about—people joining together.

If Gephardt had eyebrows, would he be able to raise them? 

Since it turns out—and could this be a surprise to him?— that his people financed the attack ad on Dean: a crass, narcissistic, vengeful, and monumentally stupid act doesn't help Gephardt and does help Bush.

I sure hope the Dems can clean house before 2004 ....

So who was the insider who cashed in on knowledge of Saddam's capture before it happened? 

Remember the hullaballo about the Pentagon program to place bets on terrorist events? Turns out that's already privatized, and administration insiders are making money on it!

The odds on U.S. President George W. Bush being re-elected next year posted their biggest daily gain on Monday after the weekend capture of Saddam Hussein, according to an Irish-based online betting exchange.

Tradesports.com said "futures" contracts on Bush's chances of staying in power for a second term rallied more than 7 percent to 70.7 percent.

The Web site gained notoriety during the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam as Iraqi president by offering online gamblers the opportunity to place wagers on how long the conflict would last and whether weapons of mass destruction would be found.

Punters were also able to bet on when Saddam would be captured.

"Interestingly, this contract was bid up yesterday before any public announcement was made", said Tradesports.com Chief Executive John Delaney.

I'll say it's interesting! Not to our SCLM though!

Bush really needs to control his blood lust 

So I'm walking to my WiFi hotspot in Philly when I spot the Inky headline through the window in the newspaper box:

Bush: Hussein deserves to die

Wow! 24 hours ago, Bush was going to try Saddam before a tribunal that would "withstand international scrutiny." Today, he knows not only what the verdict, but the penalty should be.

Why the sudden turnabout? It's obvious that Bush simply can't control his emotions.

Bush wants to kill, and what he wants, he gets (divine guidance and all that).

Think this over the top? In fact, we've always half-known that Bush is a killer—but maybe, because of our all-too-American willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt, we've not faced facts squarely.

Think! What about the photos and bios of terrorists kept in a drawer in the Oval Office? One imagines Bush taking them out, at night, and fantasizing... Something it's not easy to think of Reagan doing, or even Nixon, let alone FDR. What kind of a man is Bush?

Think! What about Alberto Gonzales pimping 56 easy kills for Bush in Texas, detailed in The Texas Clemency Memos? What kind of a man signs a death warrant on the basis of "the most cursory briefings"?

Think! What about Bush mocking condemned Christian prisoner Karla Faye Tucker, pursing his lips while saying "Please don't kill me?" What kind of a man jokes like this to a national reporter?

Think! What would you do if your neighbor's child did things like put "firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up"? (Kristoff, in the Times, now archived behind the green door, quoting childhood Bush friend Terry Throckmorton). You'd try to get that child treatment. Or move away from that family. What kind of a child would do that? What kind of a family would allow him to?

You just have to hear Bush spit "killers" to recognize a classic case of winger projection.

Think! This is the man with whom we have to deal. Beneath the affability, beneath the veneer of "My Utmost to His Highest": a small man, dressed in Floridian "borrow'd robes", desperate to live up to his idolized father, deeply aware that he isn't up to the job and for that very reason all the more vicious to those who oppose him; still at heart the child who likes to "put firecrackers in [living things] and throw them and blow them up," but now the head of the world's most powerful country and licensed to indulge his lust on the grounds of national security... .

Back on Planet Earth 

Yes, we can dream, can't we?

Still, I was snatched from the farmer's delightful reverie by memories of a book I just finished reading, The Informant, by Kurt Eichenwald. A riveting, nearly incredible story of the Archer Daniels Midland price fixing case of the early 90s and the government witness at its center who secretly taped nearly everything, the book is also a window on what really goes on in the back rooms of the world's most powerful corporations. It should be required reading of anyone claiming to know how corporate execs really talk and act. If Hollywood created characters who talked like Dwayne Andreas' son, Mick, or his counterparts at Ajinomoto and other multinational co-conspirators, wingnuts everywhere would sneer at the crude Marxist dialog ("...ADM's motto: Our competitors are our friends, and our customers are our enemies") and the general uninformed hostility it revealed towards the benevolent stewards of the world economy. As one DOJ lawyer puts it, the ADM tapes will be shown in every first-year law school antitrust class for at least a generation. If only The Smoking Gun would post them for the rest of the world to see.

Anyway, despite the relatively successful, if clumsy prosecution of the case by the Clinton Administration, Eichenwald can't help but observe:

Eventually about thirty different grand juies investigated price-fixing in almost every corner of the food and beverage industry; by 1999, the government had obtained more than $1 billion in fines. In the wake of Harvest King, it has become apparent that price-fixing was a workaday endeavor around the globe, involving scores of corporations and executives.

And yet.

The only person to step forward and reveal these crimes--despite his bizarre reasons for doing so--was Mark Whiteacre. It took someone as deeply troubled as he--a man so reckless he would steal millions of dollars while working for the FBI--to tip the first domino in what has emerged as a multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise.

And that was before the "era of personal responsibility." Something tells me Ken Lay isn't sweating too hard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Troll prophylactic 

A ritual disclaimer issued by a blogger in the hope of preventing comments from being infested by trolls, the irony-free, and the clueless.

Usage example: "Troll prophylactic: Saddam is a really bad person." See also here.

Say, if competition is good, what's wrong with buying prescription drugs from Canada? 

Lolita Baldor of AP writes:

Federal regulators are hoping to persuade Boston and New Hampshire officials to abandon plans to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

The FDA has repeatedly argued that buying drugs from Canada is illegal and risky because it cannot guarantee the safety and dosages of imported products or Internet sales.

Gosh, those Canadians are dropping like flies, aren't they?

Tells you all you need to know about Bush's phony Medicare bill.

Right out of the box, what happens when the bill is passed? Corporate welfare for Big Pharma, while US citizens who want to get more value for their prescription drugs are turned into outlaws.

Give 'em hell, Joe... 


"If I can't be the one to run for Pwesident, then nobody can!"

Except for the once and future holder of that office, if current trends among the Dems continue....

As Frank Zappa sang 

"It can't happen here."

Anyhow, let's hope, with the invaluable Orcinus, that it's only "incompetence" that leads Bush to downplay domestic, winger terrorism.

It may seem that one of the real reasons for alarm about the Tyler, Texas cyanide bombers is the sheer size of the arsenal uncovered by FBI agents: 100 explosives, including 60 fully functional pipe bombs, as well as briefcase bombs, land mine components, detonation cord, trip wire, and binary explosives; machine guns and other illegal weapons; some 500,000 rounds of ammunition; a stockpile of chemical agents, including a large quantity of sodium cyanide and acids such as hydrochloric, nitric and acetic acids; and racist, anti-Semitic and antigovernment literature, including William Pierce's Hunter and The Turner Diaries.

The thing is, by right-wing extremist standards, this arsenal may not even be the most impressive ever.

What's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable 

More Bushit.

Evelyn Iritani of the LA Times writes:

Incensed that foreign countries were playing favorites in doling out billions of dollars to build airports, roads and dams, the U.S. became a prime cheerleader for a global agreement on government procurement.

Now, the U.S. stands accused of violating the very pact it worked so hard to create.

The Pentagon said last week that companies from France, Canada and other countries that didn't contribute militarily to the Iraq war would be barred from bidding on $18.6 billion in U.S.-funded reconstruction contracts.

But, but—What about the rule of law?

And what about competition? I thought competition was always good, especially if it might save the taxpayers money?

Takes one to know one 

President Bush, at a news conference Monday, called Saddam "the kind of person that is untrustworthy, and I'd be very cautious about relying upon his word in any way, shape or form."

Projection, anyone?

I'm with Tresy on this one.... Let's forget the Martha Stewart stuff. And the Miss Manners stuff, too!

Alabama judges run for cover 

Exit, pursued by monument loons.

The real qWagmire 



Who knew? Besides you, me, and the troops, I mean.

Yvette Walters, the wife of a Fort Stewart soldier, took a different approach, filing a class-action suit against Heritage Bank after taking out cash advances at annual interest rates of 340 to 592 percent. The bank settled last year by agreeing to pay $1.9 million to more than 11,500 people, many of them military.

What're the odds that this class action is exactly the kind of "frivolous" lawsuit Bush would like to outlaw?

This on top of not getting the troops the kevlar vests that would protect them.

So how deep does the financial rot go, anyhow? 

Jim Wasserman of AP writes:

[CALPERS], the nation's largest public pension fund announced Tuesday it is suing the New York Stock Exchange and seven trading firms, alleging fraudulent practices cost it millions of dollars.

And these guys want to privatize Social Security... Why, I wonder.

(One thing you can be sure of: Whoever rippped off the pension money donated a chunk of it to Bush.)

Not to prejudge the outcome of Saddam's trial, or anything 


"I think he ought to receive the ultimate penalty ... for what he has done to his people," the president said. "I mean, he is a torturer, a murderer, they had rape rooms. This is a disgusting tyrant who deserves justice, the ultimate justice. But that will be decided not by the president of the United States but by the citizens of Iraq in one form or another."

More Bushit: "Freedom to do what you need is the freedom to do what I demand."

And yet more Bushit: "Withstanding international scrutiny means withstanding the scrutiny of the only nation that matters: Us."

Sigh... Heck, it took Bush a single news cycle to trash any pretense of a real trial.

This guy can piss away any sense of being fair and high-minded—well, as fast as the Big Dog can unzip... And which'd you rather?

In the world's richest nation 

From the LA Times:

The nation's largest homeless district, skid row spans 50 square blocks of downtown Los Angeles. To enter here is to confront a society that is raw, scavenging, extraordinarily complex.

At least 11,000 people bed down here every night, most in some 60 single-room-occupancy hotels established just to house them.

The rest inhabit the sidewalks and the undersides of bridges spanning the Los Angeles River. Their skid row operates 24 hours; its cycles are tied to county checks and busy shelter kitchens.

I'm reminded of Frank Herbert's dictum in Dune (quoting from memory):

Guilt starts as a feeling of failure. The wise ruler provides many opportunities for failure for his populace.

Black is white.

Ignorance is strength.

Brutality is compassion (thanks to alert reader zenjohn for filling in the blank, and alert reader Rash Nussel for the parallel construction).

So what else do Thomas Jefferson and Strom Thurmond have in common? 

Hard to think of anything, isn't it?

Thinking laterally 

Personally, my solution for both OBL and Saddam would be to give 'em both talk shows and let 'em both sink slowly into the muck, handling "long time listeners, first time callers" as they go. Ridicule is an excellent antidote to tyranny, eh?

Where there's a smokescreen .... 

Some Israeli analysts think Saddam was already a captive.

The hole had only one opening. It was not only camouflaged with mud and bricks – it was blocked. He could not have climbed out without someone on the outside removing the covering.

Interesting, if true.

Also interesting is the hysterical winger reaction to (Democrat) Rep.Jim McDermott's comment on Saddam's capture—essentially, "How conv-e-e-e-nient"— while ignoring (Republican) Rep. LaHood's comment in early December that "I know something you don't" on Saddam's capture...

Let's remember—before going all Martha Stewart on this, as Tresy remarks—that Bush and his people truly are people of the lie. Their behavior has been consistent throughout. There's no reason to think they have changed in this instance.

UPDATE: McDermott, says alert reader 537 votes. Mea culpa, the blood is only now returning to the frozen capillaries of my brain...

Johnny Cash 

Gives me hope.

What an astonishing, what an astonishing American musician.

Un-Made in the USA 

To read liberal blogs over the last few days you'd think Martha Stewart had been guest blogging. Why do we feel compelled to say, over and over, that "it's a good thing" Saddam was captured? After the umpteenth profession of joy, this mantric incantation starts to sound, um, a little forced, notwithstanding the obvious truth of the underlying statement.

If a zoo turns a marauding animal loose on the community, then only belatedly hunts it down after countless unnecessary attacks, everyone would be relieved, but few would think highly of the zookeeper. Certainly the sight of the zoo staff praising the zookeeper for his wisdom and courage would be a matter of no small embarrassment to normal people.

The fact of the matter is that, like Noriega before him, Saddam was a creature of the very people who now have him in custody, a psychopath whose depredations were long of no concern at all. Our many jingoes tell us, when confronted with this fact, that that's a cynical interpretation, that a new-found moral clarity underlies this sudden turnaround, that we're not replacing one pliant kleptocrat with another, but rather correcting an injustice. Fine: then what is called for now is not triumphalism and gloating, but an abject apology. I'm pretty sure the Bible would agree with me. Perhaps Bush, who professes to be a disciple of Christ, can find the relevant passage.

Meanwhile, excuse me if I don't join the hosannas about Saddam's capture. Like loyalty oaths, the fact that we are expected to utter them drains much of the meaning from the act, while simultaneously serving a larger, quite antithetical agenda. If freedom means anything, it means not having to kiss the ruler's ring. This is the example that democratic people have to share with Iraqis. Media-orchestrated cults of personality and shameless historical revisionism, they already know about.

Is there no end to the self-destructiveness of Beltway Dems? 

Jodi Wilgoren and Randal Archibald of The Times write:

At the same time, a group of Democrats known informally as a "stop Dean" coalition began running a television advertisement in New Hampshire and South Carolina that shows a photograph of Osama bin Laden with the warning, "It's time for Democrats to start thinking about Dean's inexperience."

From Thugs, we expect this. Well, uh, ....

Techno Post 2 

Update: Ran the Corrente page through HTML Tidy's online tool as Lambert suggested via comments in the First Techno post below.

[ HTML Tidy (online version): enter a blog URL and the page will list all errors on that page. see: http://infohound.net/tidy/ ]

There were 900 "warnings" for the page but most were minor, unclosed tags etc...while some I still don't understand. But if anyone wants to try out HTML Tidy, its a handy tool.

So I made some changes, fixes, and hopefully things will work better. Still some more to do, but currently, the page loads properly in my IE5 browser. So, if anyone continues to have problems... if things look worse, and so on, please continue to let me know. I'll keep running it through the washing machine till I get it cleaned up right.

And thanks to everyone for all the helpful input.

Monday, December 15, 2003

If the people lead, the leaders will follow 

At least one hopes so at the AARP:

AARP, already under fire from within its over-50 membership for endorsing the new Medicare law, is backing out of Social Security forums it agreed to sponsor with the Bush administration and from a group advocating a system overhaul to allow stock market investing. ...

The nation's largest advocacy group for older Americans already faces a backlash from some members for endorsing the Republicans' Medicare legislation. ...

Seniors have been ripping up or burning their AARP membership cards and flooding the group with complaints in what has been characterized as the largest revolt in its ranks in decades.

So. Where's OBL? 

I mean, the guy who actually killed US citizens?

This way for the gas, ladies and gentleman 

Safire's peroration on Saddam's forthcoming trial:

But so will the ghosts of poison-gassed Halabja and Iraqi children forced to clear minefields in Iran. The meticulous presentation of his offenses against humanity will demonstrate again that all that would have been necessary for the triumph of evil was for good people to do nothing.

Uh, Bill—who sold Saddam the gas? Bad people doing something, I guess....

What tribunal should try Saddam? 

The Times opines:

While every effort should be made to maximize Iraqi involvement, Iraq's judicial institutions are too weak to handle the case. Although last week's creation of an Iraqi war crimes tribunal was a promising step, we would suggest this trial be conducted in Iraq under United Nations auspices by international and Iraqi judges. A tribunal picked by Americans would lack legitimacy.

What they said...

Incidentally, it's a little weird that the Iraqi tribunal was set up only last week, especially since the "Governing" Council finds it difficult to agree on anything.

Did the Council (and Bremer, and Bush) know something we didn't?

Can anyone decode this language from Dear Leader? 

From Bush's recent press conference:

I believe, firmly believe -- and you've heard me say this a lot, and I say it a lot, because I truly believe it -- that freedom is the almighty God's gift to every person -- every man and woman who lives this in this world. That's what I believe.


"Justice was being delivered to a man who defied that gift from the Almighty to the people of Iraq. And justice will be delivered to him in a way that is transparent and for the world to see."

Can someone who knows the lingo Bush's base uses decode this for me?

Leaving aside the issue of whether "gift from God" is the same as "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights" (I don't think so...):

What does "justice was being delivered" mean? Is justice a pizza?

What does "defied that gift" mean? How on earth do you defy a gift?

Sign me, Puzzled.

Techno Post 

I've had some people point out that this page may be displaying wrongly at times. Sidebar links not loading correctly or completely. Sidebar links appearing on the left hand side of the page. Yikes! And other strange aberrations that can only be described in hushed conversation.

The thing is I don't see any of this in my browser. It all looks normal to me. Posts on the left. Sidebar on the right, the whole page loads normally. The colors look ok and the type size looks normal to me. Maybe I'm adnormal? Who's can say for sure?

So please, if you have trouble viewing this page, or reading it, or it fails to load correctly, or does anything weird at all, aside from allowing me to post to it, let me know whats wrong with it in the comments thread so I can perhaps figure out why it's doing what I don't think it's doing.

Does that make sense?

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Saddam captured 

Reuters; WaPo (with multimedia presentation); aWol's speech; and its analyis (he "furrowed" his brow); Dean; Clark.

Now the Bush administration has a chance to gain legitimacy for the war by bringing him before the Hague Tribunal (Herald Trib; Clark) for crimes against humanity (Or an Iraqi one? Depends on whether it's a second Gitmo, or not, doesn't it?) It would be encouraging if we didn't botch this one like we botched the capture of Saddam's sons.

And the questions become:

Will Saddam's capture halt the insurgency? Probably not. Since Saddam didn't have a phone with him in his hidey-hole...

What about the WMDs? In Syria? Where? Maybe now we can start planting those weapons... And get Saddam to regurgitate at a show trial... Yeah, that's the ticket...

Where is Saddam now? An "unknown location," says CBS. Although apparently with Iraqi Governing Council visited him before he left.

Who will be the first winger to say that "those who opposed the war were wrong"? (Respectful of Otters)

And what about OBL? (Daily Kos)

And who's the enemy now? (the base needs one!, says Atrios)

For the sake of all those who sold Saddam his weapons, where's Jack Ruby when we need him? (stranger, via Atrios).

Now that we've captured the bad guy, can we go?

Who authored the keen name for the operation, Operation Red Dawn?

And, oh yeah, what about the 2004 election? (Reuters) Given that a week is a long time in politics (Newsweek), what about it? Lieberman seems to think capturing Saddam has made the world a "less dangerous place." Huh? Meanwhile, Clark is testifying in the Milosevic trial—rule of law, anyone?

Oh, the bottom line: From aWol's speech, it's "The Forever War":

The war on terror is a different kind of war, waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory.

Meanwhile, Bush calls it "an enchanting day." Well, I suppose "enchanting" is an improvement on "fabulous."

May I Introduce You To... 

It's Crapatistic, whose moving report of a death and a funeral is espcially poignant to consider this morning. If you've read it already, go read it again. And no, I don't mean that the loss Clonecone memorializes here cheapens the arrest of Saddam Hussein. That is the one event, in this wretched mess, that is an unalloyed good. And as much as Andrew Sullivan will have begun to imagine, immediately upon hearing the news of this capture, on the unclean thoughts running through the minds of decadent leftwing critics of Bush's Iraq policy, he will have been wrong, but will be unable to see that the unclean thoughts are all his own.

And Rivka of "Respectful of Otters," and isn't that a wonderful title for a blog. Actually, I'm just adding my two cents of approval to that of Tresy's below in regards to her wonderful analysis of why, in addition to all the other reasons that the new Medicare bill is a certifiable disaster for seniors, for health in general, for the cause of affordable prescription medicine, for the future of Medicare, it is also a disaster, it turns out, for AIDS patients. And from the many other interesting posts already up there, one gets the impression that Rivka is something of an otter (belongs on the list of everyone's favorite animals) herself.

And Peter at "Kick The Leftist," whose insight about "big music," previously liinked to by Digby, is the kind of original, previously unnoticed-but-waiting-to-be-noticed observation about a much discussed topic that are the real joy of reading blogs. Peter does a similarly excellent job on the peculiar idiocy of Gregg Easterbrook, and has a delightful answer to a WorldNetDaily letter about the possible consequences had there been an abortion clinic somewhere in Bethlehem, and had Mary and Joseph been pro-choice.

One Less Boogey Man 

We're all "objectively pro-Communist" now.

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