Saturday, January 10, 2004

aWol serves up another pile of steaming crap 

Yet another Leni Riefenstahl-esque "Triumph of The W"-style photo of Dear Leader, this time, sweet Jeebus, with a halo.

Anyhow, despite my (clearly) non-existent graphics skills, I thought I might as well appropriate the image and bring it a little bit closer to reality with a little gentle parody.

(Original via Reuters.)

SCLM: Again with the clothes?! 

MoDo on Clark's sweaters.

Jeebus. What a farce. It's "earth tones" all over again!

I wonder if Clark tortured small animals as a child, like Bush did. Fitting subject for a snippy column, Maureen? You could even phone it in!

Oh, Senator Santorum? Here's how you can relate to your dog in a healthy way ... 


It has long been said that a dog is a man's best friend, but a Dutch dog trainer is taking the relationship one step further -- offering "doggy dancing" lessons to people wanting a canine dancing partner.

Ten owners and their dogs -- including a border collie and a German shepherd -- have signed up to learn to waltz, tango and boogie with Annette Helder at her training school in the northern Netherlands.

"Dogs love when they get attention from their owners...You teach the dog certain basic moves, like weaving between your legs, circling, walking backwards...rolling over," said Helder, who charges 45 euros ($60) for eight lessons.

Frothy mix, anyone?

Madonna supports Clark 



The Times Here:

The Bush-Cheney 2004 Web site provides a link for sending the letters by e-mail, including the addresses of regional newspapers, plus writing tips ("Be clear and concise") along with pre-written blocks of Mr. Bush's policy positions ("The president understands the necessity to manage forest and rangelands") that a supporter can simply cut and paste into the Web site's e-mail form. Mr. Mehlman said that 37,000 e-mail messages had been sent to newspaper editors, but that he did not know how many had made their way into print.

Hmmm.... Presumably the fact that the email came right from the Bush-Cheney campaign—that is, was just propaganda instead of a personally composed letter to the editor—would be detectable from the mail header... Unless the Republicans have managed to spoof the mail headers to hide the true origins of the BustroTurf?

Republican National Convention Dada 

In the Times, we read:

[Bush] personally made the decision to hold the Republican National Convention in New York City

Let's hope we're smart enough to make this decision look like a really bad idea—I still think forming a human chain around the WTC site to protect it from Republican political exploitation is the way to go...

Maybe we could fingerprint the Republicans as they cross the border into Manhattan?

Cheney to his own daughter: Drop dead! 

Cheny now:

Vice President Dick Cheney, who has said states should handle the issue of gay marriage, now says he would support President Bush if he proposes a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Cheney then:

Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter, said during a debate with Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut during the 2000 campaign that "people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want." He added that the issue should be left to states to decide.

For shame!

Gee, it's great to see the SCML all over Cheney for shifting his position in this, obviously to prepare for 2004. Oh, wait....

Never mind that the Republicans conflate civil unions and marriage .....

Virginia Republicans: Electronic voting machines a disaster 

David Cho of WaPo reports:

New touch-screen voting machines [purchased from Advanced Voting Solutions of Frisco, Tex., for $3.5 million] used in Fairfax County's local elections in November were a "failure," and county electoral officials were unprepared to deal with the equipment's problems, according to a county GOP committee report released yesterday.

In their report, Republican officials urged the county to investigate the "poor performance" of the machines, and they recommended state regulations that would require localities with the new equipment to follow stringent procedures.

"Neither the Fairfax County Electoral Board, nor the new voting machines was ready for Election Day," the report said. "The new touch screen machines were technological and procedural failure."

The Republican report cited dozens of e-mails and letters from precinct workers and voters who described problems such as machines that repeatedly crashed, screens that balked at registering votes and delays in tallying votes.

Why, one wonders, would the national Republicans be willing to spend billions of dollars on this techology?


From the LA Times here:

Friday's Labor Department figures not only surprised experts and disappointed Wall Street but also demonstrated how the political climate can quickly change.

These experts being the MWs of the business press and the stock market "analysts" and the market manipulators and the insiders and the thieves and con artists. Funny how the bad numbers keep "surprising" them, isn't it? I hope all of them, one and all, bet some of their own money on the reports being good, and got stung.

More Bush bait and switch 

Remember how Bush sunsetted the tax cuts? And everyone said the next move would be to make them permament? Well, now of course he's doing just that. Surprise! Either the man is out of his mind, or the Medicare entitlement, and now the trillion-dollar Moondoggle, are just smoke and mirrors. Anyhow:

The choice is clear. Tax relief has got this economy going again, and tax relief will keep it moving forward

It's really bizarre. I'm no economist, but it seems to me that the tax cut was a Keynes-ian stimulus, not a very efficient one, and that it's crazy to think that we can keep cutting taxes whenever we need a stimulus.

Say, has anyone run the numbers how the tax cuts net out for the average American?

Meanwhile, the sometimes mischievious Matt Drudge kinda, sorta lets the cat out of the bag:

Suskind also writes about a White House meeting in which he says the president seems to be wavering about going forward with his second round of tax cuts. "Haven't we already given money to rich people," Suskind says the president uttered, according to a nearly verbatim transcript of an Economic Team meeting he says he obtained from someone at the meeting, "Shouldn't we be giving money to the middle?"

Which probably gives Bush far too much credit. But yes, Drudge is mischievous:

O'Neill, who was asked to resign because of his opposition to the tax cut, says he doesn't think his tell-all account in this book will be attacked by his former employers as sour grapes. "I will be really disappointed if [the White House] reacts that way," he tells Stahl. "I can't imagine that I am going to be attacked for telling the truth."

Matt Drudge has a sense of irony. Who knew?

Following the money for Bush's Moondoggle 

Besides being the kind of stunt Bush likes, and part of the PNAC project to militarize space, the porjecet will help Bush in the battleground state of Florida in 2005. Surprise! William Broad of the Times writes:

When up and running, the spaceport in Florida employs some 14,000 people and each year pumps $1.4 billion into the state's economy.

This is at the end of the article, after all the blather about reaching for the starts, "bold" decisions—whenever you hear the word "bold" you know someone's reading from an RNC fax—and responding to challenges... All from people who would be amply funded if Bush's Moondoggle when through...

Just another funds transfer from the Blue States to the Red States, when the Blue States already send those (anti-big government) Red States $500 per person per year....

Friday, January 09, 2004

Questions they'd like to ask Bush in the heartland 

From Don Williams in the Knoxville News (Tennessee):

  1. Why won't you tell us about those daily briefings you received in the nine months or so leading up to Sept. 11, 2001?

  2. Would you please acknowledge that it was mostly elements in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - not Iraq - who worked with al-Qaida to bring down the World Trade Center?

  3. Why is it taking so long to get to the bottom of the Valerie Plame Wilson affair?

  4. Does some fundamental religious belief - say, that the end of the world is coming soon - influence your policies on the environment and on nuclear weapons?

  5. Does some fundamental religious belief - say, that the end of the world is coming soon - influence your policies on the environment and on nuclear weapons?

Elsewhere in Knoxville on the same day, Bush blew in for NCLB propaganda and collected $1 million from Republican donors. I wonderif any of these questions came up?

Bush scraping the bottom of the winger barrel with latest batch of court nominees 

Yep, Congress is coming back into session. And who can doubt it will be an exceptionally ugly year?

Jack Newfield in the Nation gives the run-down:

Brett Kavanaugh has no judicial experience [but] is the principal author of Ken Starr's prurient final report to Congress on President Clinton.

As the solicitor for the Interior Department, [William] Myers has participated in a series of decisions favorable to cattle, mining and timber interests, and damaging to public lands and Native American tribes. Even before he was nominated, environmentalists had filed an ethics complaint against him, accusing him of violating his recusal agreement by meeting with his former lobbying and legal clients.

Claude Allen ... has supported antichoice statutes and regulations; urged sexual abstinence as the solution to AIDS and teen pregnancy; and opposed expanded health insurance for poor children. ... Allen, who is African-American, was Jesse Helms's press secretary during Helms's racist campaign for re-election in 1984.

Attention, Beltway Dems—Incoming!

Of course, wingers also want to abolish the filibuster, so the lock-step GOP can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, however it wants....

Halliburton serves troops rotting food 

Here (thank God for local journalism).

Why does the Cato Institute hate America? 

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, writes:

"The capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer," declared Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, and denunciations have rained down upon him. But Dean obviously was correct: "The capture of Saddam does not end" the coalition's difficulties in Iraq.

Hussein's capture is good news for the Iraqis. But his seizure has not made the world safer.


Nedra Pickler on the 1000 jobs Bush created, nation-wide, in December 

What the critics fail to point out is that Bush has created almost twice the number of jobs as troops he has killed in Iraq.

Anti-gay marriage group suppresses polling results that show civil unions are popular 

They've just kicked off their campaign and already they're lying. AP here:

The leader of a state group that opposes gay marriage acknowledged it did not release portions of a poll that indicated voters are deeply divided on whether to ban same-sex marriage.

Ron Crews of the Massachusetts Family Institute said he regretted downplaying the omitted survey results as irrelevant.

"I want to apologize," Crews said. "I misspoke. I misspoke primarily out of ignorance, but that does not excuse misspeaking. There were other questions, and we are ... going to release those other questions."

At a rally Wednesday, the group touted Zogby poll results that indicated 69 percent of respondents wanted a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

The group also highlighted a question that showed 52 percent said that "only marriage between one man and one woman should be legal," with 42 percent disagreeing.

The group didn't release information that poll respondents opposed the constitutional amendment, by a split of 49-48 percent. It also didn't mention that poll respondents, by a margin of 48-46, did not want lawmakers to prevent marriage licenses from being issued to homosexual couples in May, when the Supreme Judicial Court decision legalizing gay marriage takes effect.

Say, isn't lying a sin or something? Not that you'd know it from Bush....

The Reverse Midas Touch At Work Again 

A Tale of Two Countries:
Poor U.S. Jobs Data Send Dollar Sharply Lower
The dollar plunged to new lows Friday, with fragile sentiment toward the beleaguered currency dealt a further blow by a surprisingly weak U.S. employment report.

The dollar began sinking as soon as the data showing only 1,000 jobs were added to nonfarm payrolls last month hit the wires. Economists had expected a rise of 150,000, with most expecting the balance of risks to the upside...

The main drag for the dollar is the impact a weak labor market has on interest rates because expectations of rates staying low mean the dollar will likely remain weak.

"This is unambiguously bad for the dollar, not just because of the number itself, but because of the implications it has for U.S. interest rates," said Rebecca Patterson, senior currency strategist at JP Morgan in New York
Canadian Economy pumps out jobs
The Canadian economy finished 2003 on a strong note, generating new jobs at more than twice the expected pace in December, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The report — described by analysts as unambiguously strong — was also seen as giving the Bank of Canada licence to take a more moderate approach to interest rates when it makes its next decision on whether to cut borrowing costs later this month.

And remember, Canadians had SARS, mad cow, wildfires and power outages. The world's most powerful economy had Bush. Do the math.

Say, if competition is good, what's wrong with importing Canadian drugs? 

Just asking...

"Mooning Mars" project is the PNAC recommendation to put offensive weapons in space 

Of course aWol's Martian Adventure is a stunt, and of course his motivations are crassly political...

But I wasn't being cynical enough. No matter how hard I try, I can never be cynical enough with Bush

aWol's "Mooning Mars" project is really about laying the groundwork for putting offensive weapons in space— Mars being the God of war, eh?

All we have to do is check out what PNAC says, since that neo-conservative document has served as the blueprint for Bush foreign and military policy. From the PNAC's Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century (PDF):

To ensure America's control of space in the near term, the minimum requirements are to develop a robust capability to transport systems to space, carry on operations once there, and service and recover space systems as needed. As outlined by Space Command, carrying out this program would include a mix of re- useable and expendable launch vehicles and vehicles that can operate within space, including "space tugs to deploy, reconstitute, replenish, refurbish, augment, and sustain" space systems. But, over the longer term, maintaining control of space will inevitably require the application of force both in space and from space, including but not limited to anti- missile defenses and defensive systems capable of protecting U.S. and allied satellites; space control cannot be sustained in any other fashion, with conventional land, sea, or airforce, or by electronic warfare. This eventuality is already recognized by official U.S. national space policy, which states that the "Department of Defense shall maintain a capability to execute the mission areas of space support, force enhancement, space control and force application."

And whaddaya know... Just the other day David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Brooks was calling anyone who wanted to look at the role of the PNAC in American political life a "full mooner [sic!]"... Concidence? You be the judge.

See below for Brook's brilliant disinformational strategy about the PNAC.

Memo to Republicans: Immigrants aren't stupid 

Jennifer Mena of the LA Times went out and actually talked to one:

The day after President Bush proposed a new guest-worker program that would include illegal immigrants, Santa Ana street vendor Alberto Garcia was dishing out more than chicharrones and cut fruit.

"The Bush plan is pure politics," said Garcia, who came to the United States four years ago and earns a wage based on the amount of fruit and snacks he sells near downtown Santa Ana, an immigrant enclave where more people speak Spanish than English. "It's an election year, so I don't believe it will get anywhere. They say they'll get us work visas and give us the right to travel outside the United States and return. I don't believe it. They can't even get us a driver's license to get to work."

Construction worker Arturo Espatia, 36, said the plan falls short of a thank-you because it would grant an undocumented worker like himself only two three-year visas. In six years, he said, "I'd be as illegal as I am now."

"If a boss has to sponsor me, I really wonder if he would," Espatia said. "And if he did, wouldn't he use that to make me work harder? It would be like [the boss] owned me."

Right. For the Bush administration, it's a two-fer: (1) the votes of any Latinos gullible enough to fall for it, and (2) virtual slaves for big business of the plan goes through. Yech.

Iowa Democratic Senator Harkin endorses Dean 

AP via The Times here:

"He's the Harry Truman of our generation," Harkin said in interview with The Associated Press. "Howard Dean is really the kind of plain-spoken Democrat we need."

Harkin's support will give Dean the backing of the state's most durable Democratic politician, and a man whose organization can prove a vital asset on caucus night Jan 19.

The number of jobs created by Bush in December 2003 for the entire US 

Every. Single. One.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 415 416 417 418 419 420 421 422 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 442 443 444 445 446 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 456 457 458 459 460 461 462 463 464 465 466 467 468 469 470 471 472 473 474 475 476 477 478 479 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 494 495 496 497 498 499 500 501 502 503 504 505 506 507 508 509 510 511 512 513 514 515 516 517 518 519 520 521 522 523 524 525 526 527 528 529 530 531 532 533 534 535 536 537 538 539 540 541 542 543 544 545 546 547 548 549 550 551 552 553 554 555 556 557 558 559 560 561 562 563 564 565 566 567 568 569 570 571 572 573 574 575 576 577 578 579 580 581 582 583 584 585 586 587 588 589 590 591 592 593 594 595 596 597 598 599 600 601 602 603 604 605 606 607 608 609 610 611 612 613 614 615 616 617 618 619 620 621 622 623 624 625 626 627 628 629 630 631 632 633 634 635 636 637 638 639 640 641 642 643 644 645 646 647 648 649 650 651 652 653 654 655 656 657 658 659 660 661 662 663 664 665 666 667 668 669 670 671 672 673 674 675 676 677 678 679 680 681 682 683 684 685 686 687 688 689 690 691 692 693 694 695 696 697 698 699 700 701 702 703 704 705 706 707 708 709 710 711 712 713 714 715 716 717 718 719 720 721 722 723 724 725 726 727 728 729 730 731 732 733 734 735 736 737 738 739 740 741 742 743 744 745 746 747 748 749 750 751 752 753 754 755 756 757 758 759 760 761 762 763 764 765 766 767 768 769 770 771 772 773 774 775 776 777 778 779 780 781 782 783 784 785 786 787 788 789 790 791 792 793 794 795 796 797 798 799 800 801 802 803 804 805 806 807 808 809 810 811 812 813 814 815 816 817 818 819 820 821 822 823 824 825 826 827 828 829 830 831 832 833 834 835 836 837 838 839 840 841 842 843 844 845 846 847 848 849 850 851 852 853 854 855 856 857 858 859 860 861 862 863 864 865 866 867 868 869 870 871 872 873 874 875 876 877 878 879 880 881 882 883 884 885 886 887 888 889 890 891 892 893 894 895 896 897 898 899 900 901 902 903 904 905 906 907 908 909 910 911 912 913 914 915 916 917 918 919 920 921 922 923 924 925 926 927 928 929 930 931 932 933 934 935 936 937 938 939 940 941 942 943 944 945 946 947 948 949 950 951 952 953 954 955 956 957 958 959 960 961 962 963 964 965 966 967 968 969 970 971 972 973 974 975 976 977 978 979 980 981 982 983 984 985 986 987 988 989 990 991 992 993 994 995 996 997 998 999 1000

Those tax cuts are sure doing the trick, aren't they? What a miserable failure! (Back for the figures.)

Our CEO president 

CBS via Reuters via WaPo here:

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill likened President Bush at Cabinet meetings to "a blind man in a room full of deaf people," according to excerpts Friday from a CBS interview.

O'Neill, who was fired by Bush in December 2002, also said the president did not ask him a single question during their first one-on-one meeting, which lasted an hour.

"As I recall it was just a monologue," he told CBS' "60 Minutes," which will broadcast the entire interview Sunday.

In making the blind man analogy, O'Neill told CBS his ex-boss did not encourage a free flow of ideas or open debate.

"There is no discernible connection," CBS quoted O'Neill as saying. The president's lack of engagement left his advisers with "little more than hunches about what the president might think," O'Neil said, according to the program.


So Bush either talks, or doesn't listen. Sound familiar? And what's he doing when he's not listening? Praying? Replaying fond memories of torturing small animals? Truly, truly weird ...

The CBS video is here. Interestingly, several articles in the current Atlantic (on the stands, but not yet online) make the same point about the inner workings of the Bush administration: They don't listen. And Howard Dean points out the same thing:

"This administration is ideologically driven, not fact-driven. As a doctor, I know that if you have a theory and you have a fact, and the fact comes along and disproves the theory, you throw the theory out. The problem is these guys throw the fact out."

Yep. "What difference does it make?" "It" being a fact ...

Reading between the lines of Republican disinformation 

I always like it when Republican operatives try to take the high road and give Democrats advice on how to win; it's cute, and it doesn't do any harm as long as you don't take it at face value.

But what's with the LA Times? They give one John Ellis space, and in his bio they mention he's a first cousin of Bush (see American Dynasty), but what they don't mention is that he's the first cousin of Bush who prematurely called Florida for Bush as a FUX commentator in 2000. Here's the page for the LA Times' Reader Representative. (Subscription free; despite this lapse, they do OK.)

Anyhow, here's what operative Ellis has to say:

But the reality is that until the Democrats convince vast swaths of the electorate that they are every bit as serious about fighting terrorism on as many fronts as is required, until they articulate a plan that is every bit as aggressive and ambitious and steadfast as Bush has been, until they make clear to the country that they will not falter or fail in this struggle, they will remain outside the circle of majority consideration.

So, since what Ellis has to say is certainly disinforrmation, Bush must be, in fact, worried about how voters will see the succcesses and failures of his "war on terror." And he has every reason to be. Personally, I think he's vulnerable from the right on this one. Dean/Graham would take care of this, I think. As would Clark/[your favorite here].

Powell: "What difference does it make?" 

Colin, Colin... And we thought you were the one with integrity!

Christopher Marqui of the Times reports:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell conceded Thursday that despite his assertions to the United Nations last year, he had no "smoking gun" proof of a link between the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and terrorists of Al Qaeda.

Mr. Powell's remarks on Thursday were a stark admission that there is no definitive evidence to back up administration statements and insinuations that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda, the acknowledged authors of the Sept. 11 attacks. Although President Bush finally acknowledged in September that there was no known connection between Mr. Hussein and the attacks, the impression of a link in the public mind has become widely accepted — and something administration officials have done little to discourage.

Great use of the passive voice there, Chris—may I call you Chris?—makes it sound like the American people discovered this "impression" under a cabbage leaf... And "little to discourage" is terrific, too. You mean "everything to encourage," don't you, Chris?

Mr. Powell offered a vigorous defense of his Feb. 5 presentation before the Security Council, in which he voiced the administration's most detailed case to date for war with Iraq, [saying] "Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials are simply not credible."

On Thursday, Mr. Powell dismissed second-guessing....

Translation: "What difference does it make?"

In the immortal words of Gregg Allman: "That was then, this is now... Don't ask me to be Mister Clean 'cause babyt I don't know how!"

So if this is a recovery, where are the jobs? 

Leigh Strope of AP writes on the Wecovery:

The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent in December to the lowest level in 14 months, but employers finished the year without many help wanted signs for the holidays, adding just 1,000 new jobs.

0.2 percentage point drop in the jobless rate occurred because fewer people were looking for work, the Labor Department said Friday. More than 300,000 people gave up their search for jobs and dropped out of the pool of available workers.

Amazing way we have of counting unemployment, isn't it? Imagine if we measured how good a party was this way: "Hey, my party's a success since people are leaving!" Sigh....

UPDATE: Via Atrios, an excellent post from MaxSpeak:

[In Novbember 2001] the Establishment Survey showed total employment of 130,900,000 (total non-farm, all employees). At the beginning of 2003, it was 130,356,000. Now here we are wrapping up 2003 – surrounded by Bushist triumphalism – it is 130,124,000. We have fewer jobs now than when the recession ended [in 2001].

Looks like 665,000 lucky duckies. Truly, Bush is a miserable failure on the jobs front. But you feel safer, right?

"Martian Accomplished"? 

Just another campaign stunt. How on earth do we pay for it? With what's left over for social security when these guys are done looting it? It's all so transparent: just a build-up to the SOTU.

Then again:

Just to give these guys a chance:

A serious approach to reinvigorating the space program would use robots, which are both cheaper and more effective. Manned space travel is just a form of tourism; great, but let the private sector do that. That would fit into Republican philosophy, wouldn't it?

So now we have a litmus test for whether this proposal is just a stunt, or not. Robots, serious; astronauts, a stunt. And a stunt is just what it looks like it's going to be.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

We're really winning now 

Bush lies kill nine more.

Laura Bush admits that she lied on "lump in the bed"?!??!? 

Is nothing sacred?

Of course, when you're married to a man who tortured small animals, I guess you'd be willing to say just about anything....

If they can send one Republican to Mars, why can't they send all of them? 

Look! Up in the sky! It must be the flying fuck that I gave!

Yawn ("Bush to Announce Mission to Mars" Or the moon[1]..)

Say, why doesn't someone ask Dear Leader if Mars is 6000 years old, too?

UPDATE Now the headline reads "Bush to Announce Bold New Missions to Send Americans to Mars and the Moon/"

Eeew, that "bold" RNC meme is so stale. Can't they come up with something better?

[1]Moon this Mr. "President"!

Civil Unions in New Jersey 

WWJD? Civil unions, as Dean (and any real Christian) would understand (below).

Memo to RNC: Mexicans aren't stupid 

John Rice of AP reports:

"The November elections are very close and what we hope is that [Bush's immigration "reform"] doesn't only have the objective of attracting the Hispanic vote, but that it really becomes a firm base to start to discuss important themes," said Roberto Madrazo, head of the Institutional Revolutionary, which controlled the presidency for 71 straight years before losing to Fox in 2000.

Say, is it true that Dean speaks fluent Spanish? I wonder how you say "bait and switch" in Spanish?

One pundit's recommendation: Unilateral disarmament for Dems 

I like Walter Shapiro, but c'mon:

If there was an emblematic moment during Tuesday's debate, it came when Dean, the candidate who is supposedly trying to mellow out, defined the political opposition in near-apocalyptic tones. "You cannot accommodate to the right wing led by people like Tom DéLay. Their values are not the values of the American people." Even though DéLay, the House majority leader, is a scorched-earth Republican partisan, there was the sense that Dean tread [sic] on dangerous turf by hinting that DéLay's values were un-American. With the GOP already running TV ads suggesting that the Democrats are soft on terrorism, now might be the time for a moratorium on challenging any political rival's patriotism.


"Scorched earth Republican" is American, then? Or what, Walt—may I call you Walt?—are you saying? Great to hear you calling for the Republicans to stop questioning Dems' patriotism. Oh, wait....

NOTE: In general, I like USA Today. It's truly amazing and courageous that a paper which any American businessman staying in a half-decent hotel finds outside his door in the morning and reads while brushing his teeth takes the stands that it does. That said, on this one, Mr. Shapiro, you're wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

It's just a shell of its former self, which nobody can deny 

The Democratic establishment, that is. Check out the Washington Monthly for an insightful article.

The absence of a true Democratic establishment is the central fact not only of the current presidential contest, but also of the last three years of Beltway politics. Washington Democrats are not wholly without political and strategic assets. But when you put it all together, there's not much to look at.

Heck, why are there nine candidates still standing, if there was such a thing as the Democratic establishment? Gutless, feckless Beltway Dems ...

Since last winter, the 2004 primary campaign has been, for all intents and purposes, a referendum on the Washington establishment, held by the party's grassroots. Rank-and-file Democrats love Dean not so much because he's "taken on" a powerful Washington establishment, but because he has tapped voters' fury and dismay that the establishment seems so powerless--even with half the popular vote behind it. It's because the establishment is pathetic, not powerful, that these people support Dean.

Bingo. The only power these guys have is that they've got their preferences listed in the whore books of the SCLM. Time to clean house...

P.S. Read deep into the article for how Whiney Joe fucked up on Enron. Sigh....

Say, if I can get a receipt from my ATM, why can't I get a receipt from my electronic voting machine? 

Just asking...

Say, if my cell phone number is portable, why isn't my health insurance? 

Just asking...

David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Brooks is playing rope-a-dope with us 

Look. Savaging Brooks is good, clean fun (Atrios; Howler; and we've even done it ourselves) but in some ways, it's misplaced energy.

A new winger meme seems to have rolled out of the RNC fax blaster—it's starting to replace "anger" (didn't take), and "irrational hatred" (didn't take).

The meme is: conspiracy theorist. (An excellent example comes from thug meme-meister and convicted felon Ollie "Shred Me" North. What is with the Republicans overthrowing constitutional government, anyhow?)

In the light of winger meme transmission strategy, the most important sentence in Burbling Brooks's screed is the following:

The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.

The rope-a-dope? Brooks is covering a Big Lie with a Small Lie.

The Small Lie: Brook's shoddy slur that administration critics are anti-semites. We nailed him on this one, but he's gotten us to throw our punches where it doesn't really hurt him.

The Big Lie: That pointing out the role of the neo-conservative PNAC in American political life makes you a "full mooner" [1]. In fact, the role of the PNAC has been well known to us in the blogosphere for some time; UggaBugga provides a typically brilliant diagram of their influence [2]. However, though the Big Lie is old news to us, it's new to the mainstream. When we focus on the Small Lie, because it's new, instead of the Big Lie, because it's old, we miss a teachable moment. In this way, the Small Lie covers up the Big Lie.

So, Brooks has managed to introduce the role of the PNAC into the mainstream of political discourse in a way that marginalizes it as a "conspiracy theory."


I join with the rest of our readership—and his happy client(s)— in wishing Mr. Brooks the most lavish of tips for his most excellent service(s).

[1]Moon this, Dave.
[2]UggaBugga's work reminds me of the link analysis used in wartime intelligence... I wonder why?

Ooop! Bush administration drops the ball on weapons-grade uranium shipment 

AP reports:

A trucking company accidentally sent a shipment of diluted weapons-grade uranium to a North Carolina nuclear plant instead of its intended destination in Kentucky, but the mix-up posed no risk to anyone, officials said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission believes the mistake posed no risk to anyone, a spokesman said Wednesday.

"It was received at a facility authorized to take it," agency spokesman Roger Hannah said.

Right. Not that anyone would ever want to, well, divert and intercept it along the way.... Like, say winger terrorists? Move along, people, move along. There's no story here!

Tell me again why Bush is supposed to be so good on national security?

Clinton endorses Dean 

Well, not exactly. But Jonathon Cohn does quote The Big Dog thus:

"Nobody did a better job on health care than [Dean] did as governor of Vermont."

I can see why the thugs want to divert attention from universal health care to civil unions, faux scandals, anything but the record ...

Lost and found 

A little cultural insight from Norimitsu Onishi, who writes:

TOKYO, Jan. 7 — Anywhere else perhaps, a shiny cellphone fallen on the backseat of a taxi, a nondescript umbrella left leaning against a subway door, a wad of cash dropped on a sidewalk, would be lost forever, the owners resigned to the vicissitudes of big city life.

But here in Tokyo, with 8 million people in the city and 33 million in the metropolitan area, these items and thousands more would probably find their way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Lost and Found Center. In a four-story warehouse, hundreds of thousands of lost objects are meticulously catalogued according to the date and location of discovery, and the information put in a database.

OK, at least we know the WMDs aren't in Tokyo! That narrows it down! And OBL isn't in Tokyo, either!

"I feel uncomfortable holding another person's money," Mr. Hirahaya said "I think many Japanese people feel the same way and hand over something they find. I think among Japanese there's still a sense of community since ancient times."

There's another lesson for the Republicans here, too, isn't there ....


Dean once again talks sense:

"[I]f God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."

Though the hypocrites and Pharisees that run the Republican party will have a hard time understanding this, Jesus would have understood it immediately.

My prayer request: That Bush be impeached for lying on WMD in the SOTU before the 2004 election 

And you can make your own prayer request online!

Flood the zone!

UPDATE from Erasmus:

"I pray that George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted in the Senate before the 2004 election for lying to the citizens of the United States and the world about weapons of mass destruction during the 2003 State of the Union Address, and that those individuals in the Bush Administration who leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, thereby compromising the identity of an agent on the front line of the war against terrorism and WMD proliferation, be indicted for and and convicted of treason."

The New Republic(ans) 

Pandagon has an excellent point-by-point refutation of TNR's endorsement of Whiney Joe.

As Atrios has pointed out, the idea that TNR is a Democratic publication is just Republican disinformation anyhow. As The Howler shows, we're seeing more and more of these faux, Trojan horse Democrats these days. Oh well, $100 million buys any number of whores....

The Bushes and the Nazis 

The recent RNC-inspired flap about the Bushes and the Nazis is of course meant to discourage any real inquiry into the subject. I guess it must be a sore spot for them, judging by the howls of outrage ....

Fortunately, deviser of the southern strategy and recovering Republican Kevin Phillips does the research in American Dynasty (now finally on the shelves, for those who prefer to walk to their local bookstore). No irrational hater, he! The reviews say the book is rather loosely written, and indeed it bears signs of having been a little rushed into print, but the research looks good, and Kevin Phillips is about as mainstream as writers get.
From the preface:

In the United States, as we will see, the twentieth-century rise of the Bush family was built on the five pillars of American global sway: the international reach of U.S. investment banking, the emerging giantism of the military-industrial complex, the ballooning of the CIA and kindred intelligence operations, the drive for U.S. control of global oil supplies, and a close alliance with Britain and the English-speaking community. This century of upward momentum brought a sequence of controversies, albeit ones that never gained critical mass—such as the exposure in 1942 of Prescott Bush's corporate directorship links to wartime Germany, which harked back to overambitious 1920s investment banking; the Bush family's longtime involvement with global armaments and the military-industrial complex; and a web of close connections to the CIA, which began decades before George Bush's brief CIA directorship in 1976. Threads like these may not weigh heavily on individual presidencies; they are many times more troubling when they run through several generations of a dynasty.

We must be cautious here not to transmute commercial relationships into a latter-day conspiracy theory, a transformation that epitomizes what historian Richard Hofstadter years ago called the "paranoid streak" in American politics. (Try a Google Internet search for "George Bush and Hitler," for example.) On the other hand, worries about conspiracy thinking should not inhibit inquiries in a way that blocks sober examination, which often more properly identifies some kind of elite behavior familiar to sociologists and political scientists alike.

Since these people intend to rule us—that's "rule us," not "govern us"—forever, it makes good sense to do some research on them, ne-c'est pas?

The Howler nails David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Broooks 

If you can nail slime, that is.


UPDATE: alert reader pansypoo points out that "to nail slime, you need to chill it." Not quite sure where to go with this...

Political science 

Fingerprinting our guests.... Tragedy turned to farce awfully fast in the war on terra, didn't it?

Fingerprinting the guests to our country, while cargo planes aren't guarded, container ports aren't guarded, loose nukes are still floating around, OBL is still on the loose...

Christopher Alexander has a great concept called the quality without a name. I think that quality, for our country right now, is that what once would have been a joke, and funny, is now reality, and not funny at all. You see this a lot in Dilbert. That quality—would it be irony? Is irony this bitter and hurtful?—is evident in a wonderful song Randy Newman wrote, a long time ago, called "Political Science." I quote in full:

Political Science-
by Randy Newman

No one likes us - I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money, but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us, so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia's crowded, and Europe's too old
Africa is far too hot, and Canada's too cold
And South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one
There'll be no one left to blame us

We'll save Australia, don't wanna hurt no kangaroo
We'll build an All-American amusement park there
They got surfin' too

Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono baby
And there'll be Italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let's drop the big one now
Let's drop the big one now

I guess it plays to the Bush base, though....

Not with a bang but a whimper 

Douglas Jehl of the New York Times writes:
The Bush administration has quietly withdrawn from Iraq a 400-member military team whose job was to scour the country for military equipment, according to senior government officials.

Yeah, quietly is right.

Good thing the media's all over this one, pointing out the final disintegration of any evidentiary basis for the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war. Oh, wait....

YABL, YABL, YABL.... And "What difference does it make"? Well, Bush lies, soldiers die. In fact, they still are (helicopter); (mortar). We're really winning now!

Fear: good servant, bad master 

A good column from the mainstream LA Times. David Ulin writes:

I spent my winter vacation feeling victimized, terrorized. In other words, I traveled by air. As the Homeland Security alert level rose to orange, the fear level went right up with it — ratcheted by the powers that be, fueled by vague public information, hyped by an apocalypse-loving media. What astonished me was the extent to which I bought into the hysteria, the extent to which I betrayed myself.

Of course, terror is the wild card we live with, the new baseline for reality. We must acknowledge it, prepare as best we can, but to suppose that with enough surveillance and checkpoints we might truly secure ourselves is a pernicious fantasy. If you doubt this, consider Israel. The more we queue up — docile, frightened — the more we let the real terrorists win.

This is, in part, a matter of civic identity. I come down on the side of Benjamin Franklin, who once said, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." Yet even more, it's an issue of how we live every day, of whether we give in or stand up to hysteria. Terror alerts don't make us much safer, they make us more scared. They make us turn our public spaces into no man's lands, where we are always peering over shoulders, staring at one another with suspicion, searching for the next act of devastation even as it unfolds within our hearts.

Danger, after all, is always with us, just below the surface of the everyday. As individuals we can't keep it from occasionally exploding; we can only keep it from taking over our lives. Fear does not protect us, it only generates more fear.

The coward dies a thousand deaths, the hero dies but once.

So why does Bush want to keep us fearful? Why do we never hear "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"? Because it serves his political interests to do so.

Think! Is our "situation" now worse than Vietnam? Korea? World War II? World War I? The Civil War? The Revolutionary War? Of course not! In each case far more lives were lost, and the country was in far greater danger. So why does Bush want to keep us fearful? Again, because it serves his political interests.

NOTE: In writing the paragraph above, I had to use the word "situation" because our language has grown so Orwellian that there's no alternative to writing the "war on terror," which simply buys into the lying. Can anyone suggest a better alternative?

Lucky duckies! 

New claims for unemployment benefits increased last week following three straight weeks of declines, the Labor Department said Thursday.


It's Okay If You're A Republican! Originated by Atrios, here.

IOKIYAR is what allowed Henry Hyde to classify his affair as a "youthful indiscretion," and Clinton's affair as grounds for impeachment.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Let's keep a sense of proportion, shall we? 

I love it that the SCLM is all exercised about a flyer on Clark from the Dean campaign, when Bush has a $99 million war chest...

More proof of success in Iraq 

Thirty-five U.S. soldiers were wounded Wednesday in a mortar attack on a U.S. base west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Myth of the ownership society 

David Callahan of the Christian Science Monitor reports:

At the height of the boom, however, the bottom three-quarters of American households owned less than 15 percent of all stock. Barely a third of households hold more than $5,000 in stock. Most Americans have more debt on their credit cards than money in their mutual funds.

Stock-market gains have reflected the top-heavy ownership patterns. Between 1989 and 1997, the most recent year for which there is good data, 86 percent of stock market gains went to just the top 10 percent of households. Yet when the market tanked, it was often ordinary investors who felt the sharpest pain - pain that many will cope with well into retirement. According to a March survey by Greenwich Associates, major retirement pension plans lost $1 trillion from the beginning of 2000 through beginning of 2003.

Sure! Privatizing Social Security! That's the ticket! If you want campaign contributions from the brokers, anyhow.

Say, when is Saddam's trial going to start? 

The Democrat's Iowa causes? Or will Bush wait 'til New Hampshire, or even Super Tuesday?

Since Bush knows what the verdict should be already, things should go pretty fast, right?

Science for Republicans: A Martian mystery 


The composite image revealed a mysterious substance right at the rover's feet, which scientists described as a "strangely cohesive" clay-like material with alien textures.


Karl Rove's consience?

W's compassion?

Condi's administrative abilities?

The wonders of science...

CW shifts on Dean's "not safer" remark 

First Dean was crazy. Then he was wrong. Now he's just guilty of bad timing. Yawn.

The slightly stale CW of David "Dean" Broder from WaPo:

To argue, as Dean did, on the day after Saddam Hussein's capture by American troops, that jailing the Iraqi dictator left America "no safer" was a classically ill-timed remark. Whatever the ultimate judgment of history, that was a day for celebrating the success of the manhunt for this thoroughly malignant character.

Oh? Says who?

Maybe, Dave—may I call you Dave?— you could explain to us the correct time to reveal that the emperor has no clothes? (back)

Seriously, Bush politicized the war right from the word "go." Why should Dean—or you, Dave?—play along?

Troop morale in the tank 

ABC News reports:

At a checkpoint on the barren plain east of Baqouba, word of a new U.S. Army plan to pay soldiers up to $10,000 to re-enlist evoked laughter from a few bored-looking troopers.

"Man, they can't pay me enough to stay here," said a 23-year-old specialist from the Army's 4th Infantry Division as he manned the checkpoint with Iraqi police outside this city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Funny. There are things that money can't buy.

Not that we expect Bush to understand this, of course.

Whores can't spell! 

That's Atrios, 'owie—you 'ore.

Say, Mr. President, is Mars 6000 years old, too? 

Just asking.

Impunity once more 

And this is from Gerhart's puff piece bio of Laura Bush! WaPo quotes:

That summer of 2001, Jenna sat in a crowded bar and tried to sweet-talk the bartender into breaking the law and serving her, but he lost his nerve when he saw the guys with the earpieces and asked her to leave. Jenna, according to an account in U.S. News & World Report, was furious. She yelled at her agents, then fled down a back alley. They gave chase, said the magazine, and when they caught up with her, she taunted them: "You know if anything happens to me, my dad would have your ass."

Little Jenna has such a sense of entitlement!

Seriously, it's the same attitude as "What difference does it make" from Bush. Bush feels free to lie, having impunity; Jenna feels free to break the law, having impunity. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree ....

Setting up the bait and switch on immigration "reform" 

Much of the detail of president's proposal was to be worked out by Congress in future negotiations with the White House.

For instance, Bush wants to increase the nation's yearly allotment of green cards that allow for permanent U.S. residency, but won't say by how much, the officials said. Approximately 140,000 green cards a year are issued now.

He also wants the workers' first three-year term in the program to be renewable but won't say for how long; he won't set the amount workers should pay to apply for the program....

All good so far—get the political credit for 2004; punt on the problems 'til 2005. Just like Medicare "reform."

But it gets better:

.... and he won't specify how to enforce the requirement that no American worker wants the job the foreign worker is taking, according to administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

So the whole plan is really about driving down wages for US workers! Shameless. How stupid do they think we are?

The double standards of David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Brooks 

Say, why is it that David Brooks cries "anti-semitism" when liberals mention the idea that neo-conservatives might be influencing or even controlling foreign policy (below), but when Grover Norquist compares progressive taxation to the Holocaust, he doesn't say a word?

Just asking ...

"What difference does it make?" 

It certainly made a difference to the troops that got killed for a lie, and their families. Shithead.

And it makes an even bigger difference that our President can lie us into a way with impunity. Say, impunity... I thought that was something that only dictators and their lackeys had.... Boy, was I wrong. (Same concept of impunity in The Plame Affair, come to think of it.

Oh, the headline that prompted this? Iraq's Arsenal Was Only on Paper .

Fool me once ....

Mainstream media finally calls Bush on winger ("domestic") terror 

And not only that, they mention the ever excellent and essential Orcinus! Scott Gold of the LA Times reports:

Starting with a single piece of mail, investigators discovered an enormous cache of weapons in Noonday, in East Texas, including the makings of a sophisticated sodium cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands of people.

Three people: William Krar, a small-time arms dealer with connections to white supremacists; Krar's common-law wife, Judith L. Bruey; and Edward S. Feltus, the man who was supposed to have received the forged documents pleaded guilty in the case in November. They are being held in a Tyler, Texas, detention facility and are scheduled to appear before a federal judge for sentencing next month.

Ah! Members of Bush's base!

But what is typically the end of a criminal case may be only the beginning in this one. Some government investigators believe other conspirators may be on the loose. And they readily acknowledge that they have no idea what the stash of weapons was for — though they have tantalizing and alarming clues of a "covert operation or plan," according to an FBI affidavit.

Good, I'm glad we caught these guys. Too bad Bush got us bogged down in Iraq and missed out on OBL, but these guys sound at least as dangerous. Not that we'd expect to hear about that from the malAdminstration.

if the defendants in this case had been people with foreign backgrounds or Muslims, U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft himself would have announced the arrests and the guilty pleas.

No shit, Sherlock!

Instead, details of the case were revealed in a half-page press release sent to local media. Officials say the case was at one point included in President Bush's daily security briefings, but it remains virtually unknown outside East Texas — even though, critics point out, it represents an instance in which federal authorities discovered a weapon of mass destruction.

Much of the criticism has come on Internet Web logs, known as "blogs." People who operate the websites, or "bloggers," have seized on the Krar case and what they perceive as the inattention it received from the Bush administration and major media.

The fault, critics say, lies not with law enforcement officers, whom they believe prevented a deadly plot from developing. Instead, they say, the fault lies with an administration that adheres too closely to a script.

"If anyone wanted evidence that the 'war on terror' is primarily a political marketing campaign” in which war itself is mostly a device for garnering support” they need look no further than the startling non-response to domestic terrorism by the Bush Administration," one blog, called Orcinus, said recently.

Robert Jensen, an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas in Austin and director of the College of Communication's honors program, agrees with the criticism. He says that the Bush administration, to promote its efforts overseas, "needs a public that is afraid and sees these wars as justified."

"The primary justification is a fear of people 'out there' who want to come here and get us," he said. "Arrests of foreigners are very effective arrests to publicize. It has a political function. Domestic terrorism may be, in some ways, more of a threat. But there is no reason to publicize it. It doesn't have any political benefit."

Federal officials disagreed ...

"No political benefit" unless you happen to be a liberal, of course. But then Bush isn't really trying to protect all Americans—just his base.

I've always thought that the Republicans left the winger terrorists alone because they figure they might need them as shock troops one day. "Don't worry, we can control them."

Performance anxiety? 

Times fluffer Elizabeth Bumiller here:

"I can't do it with Schroeder," Mr. Bush told Ms. Rice, according to a senior administration official who witnessed the exchange. Ms. Rice, who had not directly suggested that Mr. Bush meet with Mr. Schroeder, rushed to reassure. "No, no, no, we won't make you do it with Schroeder," she said.

Do it?!

Terror follies 

AP here:

Australia's Qantas Airways said Wednesday that U.S. authorities are now banning passengers from gathering near restrooms

I don't know if Bush has thought through the consequences on this one .... Or maybe he has ....

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

34 suicide attempts at Gitmo 

Out of 660 (unconstitutionally and illegally held) "detainees," reports AP.

Not good odds. Thank God my America is a civilized nation, that doesn't condone torture, extra-judicial killing, lettre de cachet, judicial murdur .... Oh, wait...

The world waits breathlessly for the Times ombudsman to actually do something about biased Dean coverage 

After we posted on The Newspaper of Record (not!)'s latest hackjob on Dean, and suggested that newly appointed Times ombudsman Dan Okrent be made to earn his salary by defending it, (back), alert reader Tinfoil Hat Boy did just that, and fired off a letter to the Times ombudsman. Here is Okrent's response:

Dear Mr. [Tinfoil Hat Boy],

You are not alone in your displeasure with The Times's coverage of the Dean campaign.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, as of now I am planning to write about this issue in my next column to be published January 18, 2004.

Thank you for writing.

Dan Okrent
Public Editor

Save the date: January 18. Countdown to ecstasy! Feel share your own polite, well-reasoned, and above all well-documented views with Dan here: public@nytimes.com in the meantime.

Say, does Jeff Gerth still rakin' in the bucks after he butchered the Whitewater story so badly?

At least one bigfoot blesses Dean after Iowa debate 


Probably means Dean's peaked....

Tom "Don't call me French" DéLay gets away with Texas redistricting thuggery 


That's two strikes against the electoral legitimacy of the Bush regime:

  1. Gerrymandering of Red states against Blue states

  2. Electronic voting machines that cannot be audited, whose providers are deeply committed Republicans

Can anyone provide a third strike?

Oh, I meant to say the electoral legitimacy of the Bush regime in 2004. Just to clarify.

It takes Bush two years to think about planning to defend against shoulder-fired missiles 

Of course, after iWaq, we know how strong Bush is on planning... Leilie Miller of AP reports:

The Bush administration said Tuesday it has chosen three companies to develop plans for anti-missile systems to defend U.S. commercial planes against shoulder-fired rockets.

Of course, Bush has Air Force One, so he doesn't, personally, need to worry. I'm happy for him.

Now about those totally unprotected cargo plans, and our totally unprotected ports. Any plans for those?

Explain to me how I should feel safer again, with Saddam in custody? And explain to me again why the Wepublicans are any good on national security at all?

MWs really piling on Dean .... 

Here are some of the words in Karen Tumulty's primal scream in Time:

Dean, who is "quirky," "barks," and "blusters." Paradoxically, he also "whines." ( I haven't heard him do any of those things, and yes, I've seen him speak and spoken to him.) "Like Bush, Dean can no longer make a friend of low expectations." And this is before she gets to "the case against Dean"!

Not that she would have already made up her mind...

A little pre-emptive damage control on Laura Bush? 

Kathy Keliy of USA today reviews the new bio of Laura Bush:

Years before she became the sunny, steadying, widely admired wife who inspired her husband to emerge from his father's shadow and become a successful politician in his own right, Laura Bush, nee Welch, killed a boy. She was 17 when she missed a stop sign outside her hometown of Midland and plowed into a car driven by Michael Douglas, a high school classmate and close friend.

[The author, washington writer Ann] Gerhart, who has been on the beat since Laura Bush assumed her unofficial office in 2001, is an unabashed fan.

Gerhart may be fond of her but is too much of a pro to pull any punches. Among revelations: Gerhart reviewed police files on the fatal accident and came away with pointed questions about how thoroughly the investigation was conducted.

Hillary, of course, never killed anyone... But let's look on the bright side: Laura Bush, unlike her husband, never tortured small animals.

Anyhow, it's interesting that Bush is getting this stuff out now before the campaign begins in earnest. And if Bush runs true to form, the real story is far worse than any of us have imagined, which is why they are doing damage control now. It would be interesting to know, for example, if the young Laura Bush was a serial speeder, like Republican Congressman Janklow ....

New theory on Ashcroft's recusal 

Interesting if true.

What facts would raise a serious questions of the appearance of a conflict of interest here? I'd bet that the investigation is focusing on at least one target whom Ashcroft knows more than casually, or works with regularly. After all, Novak did identify his sources as two "senior Administration officials."

What explains the timing of Ashcroft's removal? Recall that the removal occurred as a result of events occurring in the same week the Post reported that the FBI had told potential witnesses they might have to face a grand jury.

Some of those witnesses very probably hired lawyers as soon as they heard the news. Especially likely to hire a lawyer would be a middle-level person with knowledge of a leak by a higher-up. And such a lawyer would likely have gone immediately to the prosecutors to make a deal.

Who might the lawyer be? It's pure speculation, but former D.C. United States Attorney Joe diGenova, or his wife and law partner, Victoria Toensing, are likely candidates. Toensing, as chief counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence worked on one of the laws that may have been violated -- the law protecting the identities of undercover agents. Who better to defend a leaker who might be subject to a law, than the person who drafted the law?

Moreover, Toensing was quoted in a recent Washington Post story explaining that it is possible that any leak "could be embarrassing but not illegal" -- suggesting that a leaker might have a possible defense. (Unfortunately for the leaker, however, as I noted in an earlier column, more than one law may have been broken.)

When the lawyer -- diGenova, Toensing, or someone else -- went to the government seeking immunity for his or her client, Ashcroft would have heard that the middle-level person was offering to finger the high-level leaker. At that point, he would have realized he himself knew the high-level leaker; and decided to recuse himself from the case, and let Fitzgerald take over.

And since this is 2004, I'm optimistic!

Dollar tanking 

Dow Jones Here:

The relentless dollar selling showed no sign of letting up in New York Tuesday, with the dollar sinking to new lows across the board.

In morning trading, the euro was at $1.2794, up from $1.2664 late Monday in New York. The dollar was at 106.17 yen, up a little from 106.07 yen late Monday, only thanks to aggressive dollar bids from Japanese banks on behalf of Japanese monetary authorities, dealers said. Against the Swiss franc, the dollar was at 1.2256, down from 1.2337, while sterling was trading up at $1.8260 from $1.8060.

If anything, the dollar's slide was accelerating along with the increase in trading volume as investors return to the market after the holiday period. With very little to convince them otherwise, certainly not official rhetoric from U.S. or euro-zone policymakers, they're simply putting on fresh short dollar positions, en masse.

Argentina, anyone?

As Paul Krugman pointed out earlier today (below), such a catastrophe is not completely implausible with the Bush gang at the helm. The financial markets have Bush's number, even if the MWs and the Beltway crowd don't.

Bush himself, and his gang, will of course be able to get out in time, and scuttle away with sacks of cash over their shoulders. Leaving the rest of us holding the bag, crying all the way to the bank.... Enron a failure? For these guys, it's a blueprint!

Halliburton still at it 


The Army has allowed Halliburton to increase the supplies of fuel delivered to Iraq without giving the usual data to justify its cost, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Halliburton to taxpayers: We can do it, so we will do it. Fuck you.

So, is The Matrix anti-semitic? 

David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Brooks seems to think so:

... con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish" ...

If "think" is the word that I want....

More on his latest astonishing screed below.

Say, has anyone reserved www.fuckedcountry.com? 

Krugman points out that Robert Rubin has joined the coalition of the shrill:

"Substantial ongoing deficits," [Rubin and his co-authors] warn, "may severely and adversely affect expectations and confidence, which in turn can generate a self-reinforcing negative cycle among the underlying fiscal deficit, financial markets, and the real economy. . . . The potential costs and fallout from such fiscal and financial disarray provide perhaps the strongest motivation for avoiding substantial, ongoing budget deficits." In other words, do cry for us, Argentina: we may be heading down the same road.

Lest readers think that the most celebrated Treasury secretary since Alexander Hamilton has flipped his lid, the paper rather mischievously quotes at length from an earlier paper by Laurence Ball and N. Gregory Mankiw, who make a similar point. Mr. Mankiw is now the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, a job that requires him to support his boss's policies, and reassure the public that the budget deficit produced by those policies is manageable and not really a problem.

But here's what he wrote back in 1995, at a time when the federal deficit was much smaller than it is today, and headed down, not up: the risk of a crisis of confidence "may be the most important reason for seeking to reduce budget deficits. . . . As countries increase their debt, they wander into unfamiliar territory in which hard landings may lurk. If policymakers are prudent, they will not take the chance of learning what hard landings in [advanced] countries are really like."

The point made by Mr. Rubin now, and by Mr. Mankiw when he was a free agent, is that the traditional immunity of advanced countries like America to third-world-style financial crises isn't a birthright. Financial markets give us the benefit of the doubt only because they believe in our political maturity — in the willingness of our leaders to do what is necessary to rein in deficits, paying a political cost if necessary. And in the past that belief has been justified. Even Ronald Reagan raised taxes when the budget deficit soared.

But do we still have that kind of maturity? Here's the opening sentence of a recent New York Times article on the administration's budget plans: "Facing a record budget deficit, Bush administration officials say they have drafted an election-year budget that will rein in the growth of domestic spending without alienating politically influential constituencies." Needless to say, the proposed spending cuts — focused only on the powerless — are both cruel and trivial.

Naah. It can't happen here... At least when the Brits ran their empire, others were in debt to them. With Bush, it's the other way round....

Damn furriners 

Yeah, let's fingerprint them.

While leaving the ports unprotected, our cargo planes vulnerable, and making matters worse in Iraq.

Say, maybe we could fingerprint all the Republicans when they cross the border into Manhattan for their convention this September!

Verdict first, evidence afterwards: Alice in Wonderland at The Newspaper of Record (not!) 

You'd think the Times would be wary of trying to do scandal reporting, after they butchered Whitewater so horribly, but I guess they want Dean out of the race so badly that they just can't help themselves. It's sad to see a once-great newspaper sink so low.

Anyhow, the headline of the "story" reads: "Vermont Auditors Faulted Dean Aide on '92 Contract." And then, all the way at the end of the story, we find this:

Under Vermont law, the review should have made public after 30 days. That never happened, said Elizabeth Costle, who was head of the Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, the agency that was being audited.

"It just fell through the cracks," said Ms. Costle, who has since left Vermont government and moved to Northern Virginia. "They tried to make a big deal out of it, but the truth is that the governor had nothing to do with that. The person who dropped the ball was me."

"To make any argument that he was trying to protect them," Mr. Carson said, "is laughable."

So in the headline, we have the accusation. At the end of the story, we have the evidence against the accusation. Which information do you think will spread faster? Apparently, FUX isn't the only "fair and balanced" "news" organization out there...

Make that new Times ombudsman at public@nytimes.com earn his salary defending this hatchet job ....

UPDATE: See Mark Kleiman for more.

How do I nominate David "Burbling" Brooks for whore of the year? 

And here I thought David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Brooks was going to be the quiet, calm one, in contrast to the utterly compromised operative Safire. After all, wasn't Brooks the author of the moderate-sounding article in The Atlantic that argued that there weren't any real differences between Red States and Blue States?[1]

Boy, was I wrong. Get a load of Brooks's latest hissy fit:

Do you ever get the sense the whole world is becoming unhinged from reality? I started feeling that way awhile ago, when I was still working for The Weekly Standard and all these articles began appearing about how Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and a bunch of "neoconservatives" at the magazine had taken over U.S. foreign policy. ... Theories about the tightly knit neocon cabal came in waves. ... The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century ...
We'd sit around the magazine guffawing at the ludicrous stories .... In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish") travel in widely different circles and don't actually have much contact with one another. ....

Travel in different circles?! Don't have much contact?!?! Has Brooks never heard of email? Or air travel? Move along people, move along! There's no story here! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! And, Dave? May I call you Dave? Moon this ....

Anyhow, in the extract from Brook's screed above, I left out all the "analytical" material—the veiled accusation that criticism of the neo-cons is based on anti-semitism, the Uriah Heep-like sanctimony that electornic media allow people to live "unburdened by ambiguity" (people like Bush), and so on, and on, and on.

Because the interesting part of the column is that, on internal evidence, it refutes itself. Brooks is concerned to show that control of American foreign policy has not been seized by a winger cabal. It would appear that he is, himself, part of at least one cabal, since he guffaws with like-minded people about it, seems to know who travels with whom, and who has contact with whom. How did he acquire all this detail, anyhow, without being part of the same social network he is at pains to argue doesn't exist?

UPDATE The ever-essential Daily Howler has more. As do Oliver Willis, tbogg, Tom Tomorrow, and Josh Marshall.

UPDATE Brooks is already nominated. Cast your vote here.

[1]Of course, the Blue States do send, on average, $500 person to the Blue States, if that makes any difference....

Poor Kerry. Poor, poor Kerry 


At a news conference in Iowa yesterday, Kerry said Dean had been "duplicitous" on his opposition to the war in Iraq and said the Bush administration will "exploit to a fare-thee-well" Dean's "lack of straight talk" if Dean should win the nomination.

What a falling off is here...

To start, who's the real liar on the war? BUSH, Kerry you moron! [Of course Kerry can't say that, because to say that is to admit that Kerry was decieved by Bush—after Bush stole the election in 2002; not very Presidential....] Anyhow, Kerry would probably pick up a lot more votes in Iowa if he said what is only the truth, and called Bush a liar. (Say, have we found those WMDs yet?)

Meanwhile, USA Today's Walter Shapiro makes the argument that the Dem circular firing squad doesn't really matter. The Bush campaign is going to be so vicious, so dirty, so underhanded, and so ruthless that nothing the Dems could say could make it worse than it's gong to be. I'm inclined to agree with him, counter to CW though it is.

Again, media misses the story on Dean 

Jim VanDeHei of WaPo writes:

In recent days, he has been dismissive when other Democrats go after him, sending staff members -- or even a nurse from a local hospital -- to rebut the attacks so he can stay away from the bickering. In Sunday's debate, Dean was uncharacteristically calm as he brushed off criticism about his record as governor and his penchant for making controversial or contradictory statements. "As you know, I have a reputation for saying exactly what I think. And while the words may not be precise, the meaning is not hard to figure out," he said.

As usual, the Beltway Press focuses on style: Dean is moderating his tone, etc. Yawn.

The real story is that an "ordinary" citizen (the nurse) was willing to go on record and serve on Dean's behalf, and that the Dean campaign was smart enough—and trusting enough—to allow her to do so. This is a great indicator of what the Dean campaign could be about—"ordinary" citizens doing politics (gasp). Who wants to bet that the nurse joined the Dean campaign through a meetup or a house party?

The nice thing about this model (if it is a model) is that it scales. It leverages the new style of organization that the Dean campaign has created. Wars can still be won by troops on the ground, regardless of the multi-million dollar air war Bush is about to unleash on TV.

Science for Repulicans 

News flash!!!!!!!

[T]he sun is around 6 billion years old. (AP)

Not 6,000 years.

6,000,000,000 years.

Just for future reference ...

Monday, January 05, 2004

Can't we just change the name from Labor Department to Boss's Department?  

Leigh Strope of AP reports:

A proposed Labor Department rule suggests ways employers can avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible this year.

The department's advice comes even as it touts the $895 million in increased wages that it says those workers would be guaranteed from the reforms.

Among the options for employers: cut workers' hourly wages and add the overtime to equal the original salary, or raise salaries to the new $22,100 annual threshold, making them ineligible.

The department says it is merely listing well-known choices available to employers, even under current law.

"We're not saying anybody should do any of this," said Labor Department spokesman Ed Frank.


White House continues to stonewall The Plame Affair 


Deb Riechmann of AP reports:

President Bush wants his staff to cooperate with investigators trying to find out whether a Bush administration official leaked a CIA operative's name, but the White House won't say whether he'll ask staffers to release reporters from confidentiality agreements.

Right. Bush wants it, he just doesn't want to do anything to make it happen.

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die...

The boy in the bubble 

James Bovard of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on how authorities cooperate with Bush by setting up "free speech zones" for those visibly opposed to Bush policies, while allowing supporters free access (and, of course, RNC-compliant photo ops). He gives examples from Pittsburgh, St. Petersburgh, St. Louis, Columbia, SC and many cities in the good old US of A.

Here's the Secret Services reasoning:

The feds have offered some bizarre rationales for hog-tying protesters. Secret Service agent Brian Marr explained to National Public Radio, "These individuals may be so involved with trying to shout their support or nonsupport that inadvertently they may walk out into the motorcade route and be injured. And that is really the reason why we set these places up, so we can make sure that they have the right of free speech, but, two, we want to be sure that they are able to go home at the end of the evening and not be injured in any way."

Isn't that precious? And really stupid, too.

The Secret Service is duty-bound to protect the president. But it is ludicrous to presume that would-be terrorists are lunkheaded enough to carry anti-Bush signs when carrying pro-Bush signs would give them much closer access. And even a policy of removing all people carrying signs -- as has happened in some demonstrations -- is pointless because potential attackers would simply avoid carrying signs.

Secret service to terrorists: Be sure to wear a suit! And carry a Bible! [FBI chimes in: But not an almanac!]

Every day, a new depth of stupid.

Why Saddam will never be tried in a court Bush doesn't control 

Missed this one in the run-up to New Year's (i.e., moving) Day. From The Nation:

The work of the National Security Archive, a dogged organization fighting for government transparency, has cast light on the trove of documents that depict in damning detail how the United States, working with US corporations including Bechtel, cynically and secretly allied itself with Hussein's dictatorship. ...

The documents make it clear that were the trial of Hussein to be held by an impartial world court, it would prove an embarrassing two-edged sword for the White House... If there were a complete investigation into those who aided and abetted Hussein's crimes against humanity, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State George Shultz would probably end up as material witnesses.

It was Rumsfeld and Shultz who told Hussein and his emissaries that US statements generally condemning the use of chemical weapons would not interfere with relations between secular Iraq and the Reagan Administration, which took Iraq off the terrorist-nations list and embraced Hussein as a bulwark against fundamentalist Iran. Ironically, the United States supported Iraq when it possessed and used weapons of mass destruction and invaded it when it didn't.

Two words: Jack Ruby. No doubt we are nurturing an outraged Iraqi vigilante right now...

The documents referred to are in the National Security Archive here.

You can lead a whore to water, but you can't make her think 

Rachel Marsden, via Atrios.

Why doesn't someone ask Bush if he believes the earth is 6000 years old? 

Just asking.

Another winner of the Darwin Award 

Here's a story that takes a little [reading between the lines]. From AP here:

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- A 7-year-old boy [Bush] had to be rescued with the help of a locksmith Saturday after crawling into a supermarket's stuffed animal game machine [the war in Iraq] while his father [Bush pere? Cheney?] talked on the telephone.

[Shift Commander Mark Zittel of the Sheboygan Fire Department] said that the boy, whose name was not released because he is a minor [yep, it's George], crawled through about an 8-inch-by-10-inch opening to get into the glass enclosure via a chute where the toys come out, but when he tried to get back out his way was blocked [poor planning!].

The stuffed animals are prizes [oil] that can be hooked by players with a crane-like device [the military].

"His dad was three feet away at a pay [Yep, Cheney. Calling Hallliburton.] phone," Zittel said. "He was talking on the phone and he said the next thing he turned around and the kid was in the thing."

He said the boy stayed calm and didn't panic [Really? See below] as firefighters responded to the Piggly Wiggly store and then moved the game machine to the back of the store and got a locksmith to open the main loading door. The process took about an hour."

The boy was not injured or traumatized but desperately had to go to the bathroom, he said.

George Bush omorashi!

But who will be shift commander Mark Zittel? And who will be the locksmith? Who will rescue George from his embarassing predicament?

NOTE: See Darwin Awards here.

UPDATE: Alert reader Pete reminds us that The Darwin Awards honor those who improve our gene pool... by removing themselves from it. Of necessity, this honor is bestowed posthumously" (from the cite). But I think the really, really stupid are deserving of this honor as well. After all, they Truly Dense also have, or will have, a hard time passing on their genes, through inability to figure out what to do, who to do it with, when and where to do it, etc.

Yet Another winner of the Darwin Award 

The San Jose Mercury News reports:

Kern County sheriff's deputies said they've never seen a less cagey suspect.

James Paul Egan allegedly robbed a 7-Eleven at gunpoint, taking care to conceal his identity by covering his face with a blue bandanna, and wearing a knit hat and gloves.

Then he ran into the backyard of a nearby house, and threw out all the allegedly incriminating articles: the bandanna, the gloves, the hat, a .357-caliber Magnum handgun, and the jacket he'd been wearing - with his county jail property identification card in the pocket.

The card had his photograph, date of birth and jail booking number.

Of course, if the criminal had left his ID with Bob Novak, he'd be on the loose today!

Say, isn't it great that Ashcroft recused himself from The Plame Affair—after giving the White House a 24 hour heads-up so they could shred the evidence, after Bush said (i.e., dictated) that the criminal would never be caught, and after the investigators started at the top, presumably to get their marching orders... Rule of law, my Aunt Fanny.

Speak loudly and carry a teensy stick 

Does anyone think that if Bush really had any control over AQ and company that we'd be hearing about elevated threat levels, F16s accompanying civil aircraft, and all the rest of it? It's all so transparent... First Bush targets Air France, since it's always good to blame the French, but the French aren't having any of it, so suddenly he targets the far more compliant British Air...

Meanwhile, cargo is entirely unprotected, as are the ports. But heck, the ports are all Blue! Fuck 'em. But keep shopping, folks!

The emperor's new clothes 

Here's the conclusion of the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Emperor's New Clothes:

So now the Emperor walked under his high canopy in the midst of the procession, through the streets of his capital; and all the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, "Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor's new clothes! What a magnificent train there is to the mantle; and how gracefully the scarf hangs!" in short, no one would allow that he could not see these much-admired clothes; because, in doing so, he would have declared himself either a simpleton or unfit for his office. Certainly, none of the Emperor's various suits, had ever made so great an impression, as these invisible ones.

"But the Emperor has nothing at all on!" said a little child.

"Listen to the voice of innocence!" exclaimed his father; and what the child had said was whispered from one to another.

"But he has nothing at all on!" at last cried out all the people. The Emperor was vexed, for he knew that the people were right; but he thought the procession must go on now! And the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.


What does this remind you of? Hmm....

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