Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Corrente Index 

Heck, here's another one. These guys make it so easy!

What Bush spent looking for WMDs in Iraq after the war. [Source]

Zero (0)
Number of WMDs actually found. [Source]

Readers: Again, any figures you think should be in the Corrente Index? (Be sure to include sources, that's part of the fun!)

The Corrente Index 

What taxpayers spent to train 1st Lt. George W. Bush in a highly complex supersonic aircraft during his Texas Air National Guard (TANG) service. [Source]

Time actually served by 1st Lt. George W. Bush in TANG, expressed as a percentage of time obligated to serve, as shown by documents obtained under FOIA. [Source]

Zero (0)
Chances that Bush will release his complete military records, voluntarily.

Any takers on that last one?

NOTE: The Corrente index was Leah's idea, but I was blogging tonight, so...

Readers: Any figures you think should be in the Corrente Index? (Be sure to include sources, that's part of the fun!)

Bush the deserter 

Good stuff from The Misleader here.

Gimme an A!
Gimme an W!
Gimme an O!
Gimme an L!
What's that spell?
What's that spell?
What's that spell?

Just a little practice for the great Rethuglican in-gathering in Manhattan....


Say, we don't hear much about the flypaper theory anymore, do we? I wonder why.

More proof that we're winning: five killed.

Meet the Times's Newest Whore: Gina Kolata! 

Still-fresh Gina Kolata seems to think that because FDA commisioner Mark McClellan (a) banned ephedra and (b) threatened people who import prescription drugs from Canada with prosecution, he's somehow made "bold" moves that signal a fresh, new activism.
The headline here from the World's Greatest Newspaper (not!):

"Many Surprised by Bold [sic] Moves at the F.DA"

Why are Bush moves always bold and never bold italic?

In fact, this move my McClellan is right out of the Republican playbook: a classic Follow the money maneuver, where THE PROCESS (back) puts $5 in your front pocket, by regulating a not-very-serious herbal remedy, then takes $10 out of your back pocket, by keeping the costs of life-saving and expensive prescription drugs artificially high.

More, McClellan carries Big Pharma's water on both issues, since you can imagine what the corporate types think about competing with herbal remedies.

Then get a load of this beauty:

"McClellan is so personable and comes across as a person of such great integrity that it's hard to find somebody who says something negative," said Wayne Pines, who was the agency's associate commissioner for public affairs under Dr. David A. Kessler, who is now a consultant to companies dealing with the F.D.A.

The same cannot be said of Dr. Kessler, who served under President Bill Clinton and the first President Bush and angered industry officials by halting the sale of silicone breast implants and seeking to regulate tobacco as a drug.

Great stuff, Gina! "Anger[ing] industry officials" somehow equates to "lack of integrity"!

Memes and "The Process" 

Over the past few weeks the Mighty Wurlitzer has been concerned to debunk various memes that have emerged from the Democratic blogosphere:
Four memes

  1. Bush's desertion from his cushy spot in the Texas Air National Guard

  2. The role of the PNAC in preparing America for a state of permanent war, including the militarization of space

  3. The possiblity of an emergent form of home-grown fascism in this country

  4. The fact that electronic voting machines enable large-scale election theft

My nameserver seems to be doing weird things, so this post will be short of links, but I wanted to tie all these things together now, since I think they're remarkable. First I'm going to talk about the memes, then about the reaction to them, and finally suggest what we need to keep doing.

State of play of the four memes
First, none of these memes are new to us. We've been honing them since election 2000. On desertion, we call Bush aWol (appropriating his famous "W") for a very good reason (see the entry in the linked Lexicon entry for citations).[0] We look to the out-in-plain-sight PNAC for a very good reason: it has predictive value. Heck, the guys ruling us wrote it, and now they're applying it. (See here for the PNAC's plan to militarize space, for which the Moon/Mars thing is an obvious cover). On home-grown fascism, we just have to follow the scholarly work of Orcinus to connect the dots. And electronic vote fraud has reached the mainstream, with Democrats introducing bills in Congress, many scientists speaking out, and a nationwide movement at the state and local level.

So that's the state of play for these memes in the Democratic blogosphere, which has, in some ways, served the same argument-honing and rhetoric-testing function for Democrats that funded institutions have for wingers.

"The Process"
And the reaction.... Well, I don't really have the right word for it. Right now, the country is being ruled, though not governed, by a constellation of forces (examples in parentheses), including:

  • the Republican party (Ed, Karl)

  • paid operatives and vendors of the Republican party (pollsters, "fellows" at think tanks, lawyers, and the like)

  • MWs in the SCLM (Brooks, Will, and their editors. The Mighty Wurlitzer; the echo chamber)

  • SIC theocrats (Reed)

  • Winger billionairs who fund the Republicans, their operatives, the MWs, and the theocrats (Scaife, Rushdooney, etc.)[1]

In the aggregate, these guys—the operatives, lawyers, journalists, officials, and funders—devised and executed a slow-moving, media-fuelled right-wing coup. They started with the assault on Clinton, they continued through the impeachment, seized power in Florida 2000 (remember the bourgeois riot?), and now they're are ruling the country.

And we don't have a name for these guys. And without naming them, we can't talk about what they do. I've though of just saying "Bush," since after all he's the front man. I've thought of "Republicans," but although most are complicit, the moderate, truly conservative, and libertarian Republicans tend to retain some integrity. The closest I've seen is the "Bush Gang," which has the right aura of criminality, but it's too restrictive: it doesn't include the billionaire funders, and they're an essential part of the mix. My suggestion:

"THE PROCESS" (yes, in all caps, so it looks like a logo).

remembering Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing Las Vegas: "Kid, you'd have to be crazy to mention The Process in this town."

NOTE: My runner-up was "The Blob". Would that be better?

Reaction from The Process
If you poke THE PROCESS with a sharp stick, it reacts. In fact, a reaction is the only way to know that you've poked it! And the reactions we've gotten are interesting. The RNC fax-blasters gave the SCLM their marching orders by classifying all criticism of THE PROCESS as "hate speech." Which is a good move—and these guys are good—since to some people, anger looks like hate, or they can imagine no other reason to be angry than hatred.

  1. Desertion: Jennings baits Clark

  2. PNAC: Brooks writes "tinfoil hat" column

  3. Home-grown fascism: Miller invokes Godwin's law

  4. Electronic vote fraud: silence

What's remarkable (ha) about these reactions is how shoddy they are. Taking our memes in reverse order: The silence on electronic voting fraud is deafening. It's "the dog that didn't bark in the night." And what THE PROCESS is silent on, it's probably doing. (Bush emplaced all the supplies and most of the troops for the war before Rove marketed it.) Miller distorts the home-grown fascism meme, which at least in some hands (Orcinus) is a serious analytical tool that explains the purposes and techniques of THE PROCESS, into a "Bush is Hitler" straw man. Where, pray tell, was Miller when The Oxycontin Kid was calling the first lady "Hitlery"? Oh well.[2] Brooks uses the same straw man trick as Miller: first distort the analysis (it's a "conspiracy theory"), then debunk the analysts ("tinfoil hat types"). [3]. The Howler nails Jennings on desertion. (Clark issued a sensible and elegant non-denial denial.)

Yes, shoddy reactions, even at the level of pure professional technique. Setting up straw men is the laziest and cheapest kind of argumentation to do. And that's all THE PROCESS is doing, so far. (Though doubtless Rove is buying a witness to deal with the charge of Bush's desertion; he's got $130 million, after all. The electronic vote fraud meme will be harder to defeat, I think, given that 40% of Blue state votes think election 2000 was stolen). Of course, for some reason, the cheapest argument made by THE PROCESS gets picked up by the Mighty Wurlitzer and pounded 'til the echo chamber rings, and the most serious meme introduced by a democrat (small "d" deliberate) is silently dropped. So, we have to make THE PROCESS work harder. What do we do?

Making The Process work harder
In fact, I have confidence in the good sense of the American people. During the worst of the Clinton impeachment, his polls were never higher, and the numbers transcended the polarization of the country we're seeing today. The American people really aren't stupid. And we have the truth on our side. That's why the Republicans rely on anecdotes, and try to cook the numbers, and we rely on citations, and try to keep statistics apolitical. So what do we have to do?

Hammer our four memes. The fact that THE PROCESS is working on them shows they've got power. The strength of blogging is also its weakness: A blogger's voice speaks in the present. The focus on the writer could mean that we miss opportunities to propagate strong memes: after all, we all know the issues of aWol's desertion, and what writer wants to rehash what his readership already knows? So with the focus on the present: it's easy to react right away, it's harder to show patterns over time, and it's even harder to name those patterns, and show how they work in the present. (That's what I'm trying to do by naming THE PROCESS.) We've worked for years to hone these memes, they've survived a Darwinian process, and now, just when they're making the mainstream, is not the time to stop pushing them.

Propagate new memes. I can think of a few:

  1. Bush the bully and killer (see below)

  2. Do the math (tax cuts, Medicare)

  3. Gays are your children, nieces, nephews and neighbors (Cheney's daughter)

  4. True religion

  5. Constitutional government

  6. Follow the money

On Bush the killer, I've said enough elsewhere. It's important to take away the idea that Bush is a nice guy; he isn't. The candidates can't say anything about this, of course; but there's no reason some of us can't take the low road. (In a nice way, of course, and using the Democratic tools of analysis and citation.) Do the math looks like it might be getting traction. Partly, people (including true conservatives who aren't part of THE PROCESS) are wised up to the fact that THE PROCESS can't handle money—more precisely, their money. And the idea's taking hold that the when Republicans put $5 into your front pocket (through tax cuts) they take $10 out of your back pocket (through higher property and payroll taxes, higher fees, and corporate giveaways, as in Prescription drugs). On gays are your children I really believe that "the wedge edge" here is for the Democrats, if they are clever and ruthless enough (well...). Cheney's daughter, after all, is both a lesbian and his campaign chair. I'm hoping that the last decades of "coming out" have shown enough people the bigotry THE PROCESS is propagating is hurtful to people they love. (And separating "civil union" from "marriage" is a great way to argue for the separation of church and state. Does the country really want the government defining sanctity?) Bringing me to true religion. We really have to get traction on this one, and I can't see why it's not possible. (It's really, really unfortunate that Dean said—assuming I can trust the reporting—that the Book of Job was in the New Testament. Even a recovering Episcopalian like me knows it's in the Old Testament. This was a far greater "gaffe" than the Iowa speech, and its doubtless a card THE PROCESS plans to play later, which is why they're not saying anything about it.) It's possible because any Bible reader knows that THE PROCESS, and its personal representative here on Earth, Bush, is about the farthest thing from being that Christian it's possible to be. The hypocrites and Pharisees of THE PROCESS are exactly the people Jesus threw out of the temple. Ditto the people who use their religion to get votes. “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6: 1 – 18) The Dems should own this issue; why don't they claim it? constitutional government and follow the money I'll leave as exercises for reader.

Thoughts, anyone?

[0]BTW, I like the idea of "defenders" (let's not call them protesters, they're defending democracy") chanting "A-W-O-L" at the Thug in-gathering in Manhattan...
[1]I leave out the big corporations bribing our money into their pockets with campaign contributions. That's much more business as usual. Much like German industrialists in the '30s, who thought they had matters under control.
[2]Of course, everyone knows Bush isn't Hitler: for one thing, Bush has no talent as a graphic artist. The Bush dynasty is comfortable doing business with Nazis, however, as recovering Republican Kevin Philllips points out in his new book).
[3]This was the column in which Brooks also accused anyone who criticized the neo-cons of being anti-Semites. This created a furor, as Brooks surely designed it to do. The Democratic blogosphere focused on the anit-Semitism charge, while ignoring Brook's disinformation on the PNAC. In this way, Brooks introduced the PNAC meme into the mainstream under conditions not favorable to its propagation.

Good luck to Steve Gilliard 


Having a beer with a nut job 

You know, if I had to sit down next to someone and have a beer with them, I'd rather sit down with someone who gets angry at the right things, than some glad-handing creep who blew up frogs with firecrackers as a child like Bush did.

Incidentally, I can't understand (ha) why Kristof's story (as above) on Bush torturing small animals as a child didn't get more traction, or any traction. It seems like one of those "character" issues the SCLM is so fond of. And Kristof is in the heart of the SCLM, and the Times is at the heart of CW. And Kristof goes to a childhood friend of Bush's, who casually mentions in the course of the interview that he and Bush used to blow up frogs with firecrackers. And then the story just dies.

Now, I don't know about you, but if I caught my neighbor's child torturing an animal, I'd try to get help for the child, and I'd really wonder about that child's family, since torturing small animals (like setting fires) is a sign of deep, deep emotional and psychological distress—way beyond anger.

So here we have our SCLM wringing their hands about Dean's temperament, when all the time, right out in the open, printed in their very own pages, we have a good indicator that Bush is... well, crazier than a bedbug, and not in a good way. (See previous posts).

No wonder they're afraid of him...

The taboo on anger 

Naturally the thieving rich and millionaire pundits who massage Bush's base for him aren't angry—why would they be? They're sitting pretty, living large, they've made it and now they're pulling the ladder up after them.

And if you're angry at that, above all, don't express it!

Dean's craziness 

Oh, come on.

The man's a doctor, for heaven's sake. Do his patients think he's crazy?

Can you imagine that if there were anything in his career that suggested Dean was crazy, that the Republicans wouldn't have spread the word by now?

Here's what makes Dean crazy:

  • Universal health insurance
  • Civil unions

  • Calling it right on the war, and saying so

  • Making an endrun round the Beltway Dems

  • Ending his speeches with "You have the power"!

Yep, to the Republicans, the MWs, the Heathers, and the millionaire reporters of the SCLM, all these ideas are "crazy."

Especially the last one.

This reminds me of nothing so much as the state of psychiatry under the Soviet Union, where dissidents were locked up in the psychiatric wards. Anyone who dared to suggest that the Emperor has no clothes: They must be crazy! And so with our own state-run media.


Sorry, I still can't get over the fact that in giving Bush the authority to wage war, Kerry trusted Bush.

How could Kerry possibly do that, after Florida 2000?

Like the rest of the Beltway Dems, Kerry was playing a game, while the Republicans were fighting a war. We saw the evidence—and Republican success—in election 2002.

One of the reasons a Presidential race really is a good proxy for Presidential qualities is that it tests the ability of a candidate (and their team) to think strategically. Like it or not, Bush and Rove have that ability. "The proof is in the pudding," as Marx would say.

Looks to me like the rest of the Beltway Dems, and Kerry, were "miserable failures" strategically. It doesn't do any good to say the right things now; where where you then?

Friday, January 23, 2004

The illegitimate Bush regime 

Krugman really nails it on voting machines. No detail that is new to us, but its good to see it put together in the mainstream, by a commentator as lucid as Krugman.
To combine what we've been saying over the past few days:

So we have a "democracy" where:

  • Large (ie, Blue) states are systematically underrepresented in Congress

  • The census data for redistricting is systematically skewed Red, first through undercounting in cities, and now by associating the census gathering process with civil liberties violations

  • Voting itself, where electronic, is controlled by hard right Republicans, and election problems are not detectable

    • This is true for the military and international voters, as well as domestically

  • We have no recourse in the courts, as Bush v. Gore showed

And let me add another one:

  • The voting roles are systematically scrubbed of likely Democratic voters, as again was shown in Florida 2000

  • Exit polling isn't done any more, so there are no independent checks on the results whatever.

People, the horse is already out of the barn. Elvis has already left the building. The fat lady has already sung. There is simply no reason to accept the electoral legitimacy (absent a landslide) of Bush in 2004.

IOKIYAR: Serial Republican lawbreaker Janklow kills man with impunity 

First the serialbreaking part. Did I mention Janklow was a Republican?

With his own freedom on the line, though, [former Representative] Janklow struck a different note Thursday in a jammed courtroom at the Moody County Courthouse. "While I was governor, I drove fast, really fast," he told the judge in an emotional but meandering declaration. "I drove thousands and thousands of miles, and nobody complained about my driving."

Actually, Janklow's driving habits have become the subject of loud complaints in this state.

Testimony last month demonstrated that local police and state troopers had repeatedly seen the then-governor driving 30 mph or more above the speed limit and let him go without penalty. The current governor, Mike Rounds (R), says he ordered a formal study of police laxity toward Janklow but so far has not made the results public.

From 1986 to 1994, Janklow received at least 12 speeding tickets -- when he was not governor. After winning the governor's seat in 1995, he continued to drive himself everywhere but was never ticketed again until the fatal accident last August.

Now for the impunity part. Did I mention Janklow was a Republican?

A state judge sent him to jail for at least 100 days for causing a fatal traffic accident at a rural intersection last August.

Janklow pleaded for leniency in court: "My political career is wrecked," he said, his voice choking. "I can't be punished ny more than I've punished myself."

Really. I like to see a Republican weeping, but I don't really think feeling bad is the same as jail time. 100 days. Fancy!

Anyhow, with (1) the Plame Affair, (2) Republican theft of Democratic files on the Hill, and (3) now this, all that Republican piffle we heard during the impeachment phase of the Republican coup is starting to wear awful thin, isn't it?

Good thing the SCLM is all over this one, the way they were with Gary Condit. Oh, they aren't?

Say, did I mention that Janklow is a Republican?


Freeway Blogger  

Freeway Blogger has some photo updates.

But, if you have never read FB's Fun With Hate Radio call-in transcripts, you should do so. A must read, as they say.

Here are some brief summaries - Freeway Blogger calls:

1 - The Drudge Report ~ FB calls Drudge to discuss the Bush family.
2 - Fox News Live with Alan Colmes ~ "Just War" - or - just a war? This one really ain't funny a'tal when ya git right down to it.
3 - The Stacy Taylor Show ~ Bald Iggles is snatchin' ours youngn's from their cribs!
4 - The Savage Nation ~ FB drives Michael Savage over the brink.

I've been recently very depressed and had considered moving into a cabin along the Great Rattling Brook near Mt. Cormack in Newfoundland. But the Freeway Blogger cheered me up. And anyone who can live around all those freeways and still maintain a sense of humor and keep their wits about em' has my full support and gratitude. Thanks to the Freeway Blogger I plan to remain where I am, for now, on a small houseboat in the middle of a cranberry bog.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Bush to go ahead with insecure military e-voting 


A group of computer scientists is urging the Defense Department to abandon a plan to let overseas personnel cast absentee ballots over the Internet.

The system, called Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE), will be implemented in time for November's election, said DOD spokesman Glenn Flood.

The analysts include Avi Rubin, the Johns Hopkins University professor who publicized potential security hazards last year in electronic voting machines. They concluded that because SERVE uses Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and standard Internet technologies, there is no way to make it secure.

Although security analysts who studied the system believe it could be vulnerable to hacking and alteration of results, DOD officials do not intend to change their plans.

"We have confidence that it will be safe and secure for the general election in November," he said. "We respect the work the team did, but these are issues we knew about."

Hmm.... "These are issues we knew about."

I'll bet.

After all, Bush needed those military votes in Florida, didn't he? The ones that came in a little late...

Add this to the list of reasons to question the legitimacy of of this or any Bush regime (back).

New language, please! 

-Gate is obsolete, now—used too often and corrupted by MWs.

How about -Thuggery?

FileThuggery ....

PlameThuggery ....

911Thuggery ...

Kinda works for me... If you like it, start spreadin' the news. Thoughts?

And speaking of The Plame Affair, Dems give Bush a deadline 

The Times:

A group of former intelligence officers is pressing Congressional leaders to open an immediate inquiry into the disclosure last summer of the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame.

In a telephone interview, [one of the group, Mr. Larry] Johnson, who described himself as a registered Republican who voted for President Bush, said he and other former intelligence officers had been discussing the idea of a letter for months and decided to go forward with it because of a lack of evidence of progress in the Justice Department investigation.

"For this administration to run on a security platform and allow people in the administration to compromise the security of intelligence assets, I think is unconscionable", Mr. Johnson said.

Ms. Harman, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, said in a separate interview that Justice Department investigators "should be given time to complete their work" and that Congress should "not meddle in the investigation." But she said she would consider joining the call for a Congressional inquiry if the leaker was not identified by next month.

Hope the Dems are keeping the files on this one under lock and key, encrypted, and preferably off-site. Since otherwise the Republicans will steal them.

UPDATE: Oops! Just added the source.

So now there are three criminal investigations involving use and abuse of intelligence data 

1. Republican theft of Democratic files on the Hill;

2. The Plame Affair

3. The 9/11 investigation.

So far, Bush has successfully stonewalled them all, with the help of his MWs and the lapdog media. (Interestingly, Bob Noval central figure in both 1 and 2.

How long will Bush be able to keep the lid on?

That Whole "Angy Liberal" Thing 

Read this post. It's a good one.

Via: Echidne Of The Snakes | Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Liberal Anger

I believe, on balance, that the new liberal anger can be a great opportunity when carefully handled. It isn't even that new, historically speaking. What could be more liberal than the righteous anger one feels when injustices are committed? That, my friends, lies at the very heart of liberalism.

...continue reading

BYL Welcome 

Welcome the Back Yard League. Check this site out. It's really nicely done. And don't miss the Glossary page. I really like the Glossary. I will be spending time there myself. Doing some reading. I'll be the guy in the worn out Carhartt overalls and the baseball hat that says "Kill Ugly Right Wing Radio" across the front. So don't annoy me unless you know what's good for ya. = :-))


Dirty tricks 

Charlie Savage of the Boston Blog writes

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

Many reactions:

1. Yawn. We always knew they were crooks and thieves— and now we really know. Great to see the SCLM all over this one! Oh, wait... The headine is good, too: "Infiltration of files seen as extensive." I like "infiltration" as opposed to "theft." And it's good they don't put "GOP" or "Republican" in the headline, just in the subhead. That shows balance ...

2. I wonder if Karl Rove is going to look like such a good strategist when he doesn't have intelligence of all the Dems moves?

3. Why on earth did the (gutless, feckless) Beltway Dems not assume the Republicans wouldn't steal data from their system? They stole an election, and they're not going to steal some files?

4. I hope all the Democratic candidates are being very, very careful. In particular, I hope they are encrypting all of their email, as well as their files, and their cell phone traffic and wifi. Anything that could be intercepted by Echelon. Meanwhile, the Democrats should consider setting up a secure system off the Hill. Put it in a trailer outside the Capital and surround it with barbed wire. Can't we get a little political theatre going on this one?

Of course, the chances that Bush would abuse the national security apparatus for partisan purposes are admittedly slim... Oh, wait, didn't Rove already do that during Texas redistricting? Use the Department of "Homeland" Security to track down Democratic state legislators?

UPDATE: Alert reader Gabe points out that slashdot has picked up on this one.

Lots of interesting stuff, including the question of whether the Republicans are guilty of violating the DMCA. I mean, isn't it weird that some 15-year-old kid gets sued for downloading a song, and no Republicans get sued for stealing hundreds of memos?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Manchester News 

And Then blogging from Manchester NH, observes the mood of journalism in the Purple Lilac State.

...the Union Leader vs the New Hampshire Gazette

Seriously, you know the newspaper that has pictures of Space Aliens with Bill Clinton? Imagine if it was published by Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, and you have a pretty close estimation of what the Union Leader is. So, congratulations to Joe Lieberman.

"I grew up in New Hampshire, and over the years learned what a ridiculous newspaper the Union Leader is. For example, the late publisher, William Loeb, editorialized in the 1970s that the miniseries "Roots" was part of a communist conspiracy. Similarly, the civil rights movement was also apparently directed from the Kremlin, according to a 1964 editorial. Jim Carville tells this story in the film "The War Room:" They were on the campaign bus in New Hampshire and were driving past a mud puddle with two big hogs wallowing in it. Someone threw a copy of the Union Leader out the window into the mud, and the hogs got up and left." [via: reader comment Turn Left.com]

There's another paper that is much more newsworthy, a sort of anti-Union Leader- a Liberal Libertarian, fiscally conservative, liberty-embracing, hardcore transparent Democracy demanding newspaper run by former Veterans. It's called the New Hampshire Gazette, and it's the oldest newspaper in the country. This weeks front page has this paragraph, written by a guy who used to work for Nixon:

"George HW Bush was the first CIA director to come from the oil industry. He went on and became the first vice president - and then the first president- to have either an oil or a CIA background. This helps explain his persistent bent towards the Middle East [...] In each of the government agencies he held, he encouraged CIA involvement in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries, and he pursued policies that helped make the Middle East into the world's primary destination for arms shipments."


And Speaking Of Numbers And Their Context... 

To deal with the anguish this President has told us more than once he endures at the thought of even a single American who wants to work not being able to find a job, i.e., to advance his bold vision of an America where there is full employment, the President proposed, last night, a program of grants for community colleges to help them develop programs aimed at retraining workers who don't have the skills to get the new jobs that will be replacing their old ones.

One of Atrios' commentators, P. Clodius, had this mordant observation about that: "Whole new career opportunity for people who can teach Hindi."

But let us try and take this President's words seriously, on their face. Let us not be mindlessly partisan. After all, it was one of President Clinton's major themes way back in '92 that the nature of employment had changed; that globilization meant workers would find themselves changing jobs and skill sets twice, and even three times in the course of their working lives. And under President Clinton's aegis, we saw an unprecedented expansion of a variety of programs aimed at expanding educational opportunities across the board to give Americans access to the tools to navigate the implications of globilization. (BTW, I'm not suggesting that Clinton's response to the entire package of issues a globilized economy presents was entirely adequate.)

To show that he means business, President Bush flew today to Ohio, where he acknowledged "there are still troubled times," and spoke at Owens Community College to highlight his "$250 million proposal" for new job-training grants channeled through community colleges. That's a whole lot of money. Isn't it?

Okay, it's not as much as the $200 billion plus earmarked for a missile defense system, which, not having ever successfully shown it can actually hit an incoming missile, will not be subjected to further testing before being deployed. But, what the hell, don't you feel safer already just knowing that we're working on it? And it's probably cheaper than confiscating every set of box cutters that exist anywhere in the world.

Okay, okay, it's not as much as the $l.5 billion the President wants for his promotion of marriage initiative. And yes, one could argue that making sure that jobs are available to the chronically underemployed men who are so often the unmarried fathers whom the marriage initiative seeks to help might be a more efficient way to go about it, but doubtless the Olasky-trained Bush would counter by questioning what's been keeping them from finding a job all along; it's not as if external circumstances could ever explain this persistant pattern of laziness unemployability and indifference to the charms of family life, in contrast to the lure of living large as a "young buck," the term President Reagan once used to describe young bla male misusers of food stamps.

Okay, okay, okay, extending unemployment benefits to workers who've been out of work for over six months would seem to be an indispensable corollary of the President's dreams for an America where everyone marries well, and everyone has a job; unemployment benefits aren't a lot, but they do limit the devastating effects lack of income can have on family life, and not having a job for a long time can have on the employability of even workers with long, active work histories. But acknowledging that point, aren't we left with a vision of an American President willing to see thousands of hard-working Americans disappear into the ranks of those we call "discouraged workers," where they will not show up on unemployment statistics, while with perfect piety he proposes a program claiming to be the answer to the problems of precisely those same workers?

Frankly, I hesitate to go there, not out of either affection for or trust in this President, but, as mentioned below, because that kind of attack is exactly what Bush/Rove & Co want to provoke.

Karl Rove understands that its the really big lies that are the hardest to counter. (See any standard text on the history of 20th century propoganda).

Somtimes, though, even a Rove can over reach, and the Center For American Progress, bless them, has caught the White House's resident political genuis and his pResident right in the act (scroll down to "Job Training Proposal".

In the last three years, Bush has proposed almost $1 billion in cuts to job training and vocational education – meaning the President's "new" proposal really is simply a push to restore a fraction of his own massive cuts.

All the gory details are available here.

I'm left wondering if this President is even aware of this massive contradiction, which some might even be tempted to call a lie.

Why are the "President's" visions always bold and never bold italic? 

Just asking....

In fact, why are they "visions" at all, instead of "proposals" or "schemes" or "really bad ideas"?

I can think of plenty of other four-letter words for lazy headline writers to use ....


It bothered me that the Moonie Times, a winger organ, would break the news that Bush is violating his oath of office again by violating the privacy of census data.

Why would they publicize this instead of trying to hide it? Duh, because it's to their advantage.

Redistricting is based on census data. Who are the people who would tend to no longer respond to Census questions because they fear the direction the Republicans are taking the country? Not the Republican base, that's for sure.

So we have a "democracy" where:

  • Large (ie, Blue) states are systematically underrepresented in Congress

  • The census data for redistricting is systematically skewed Red, first through undercounting in cities, and now by associating the census gathering process with civil liberties violations

  • Voting itself, where electronic, is controlled by hard right Republicans, and election problems are not detectable

  • We have no recourse in the courts, as Bush v. Gore showed

So tell me again why I should regard the Bush regime as a legitimate government? This isn't tinfoil hat stuff—you only have to read the papers to see it all happening.

Doing The Numbers On Bush 

This unsigned piece in the Telegraph asks, "how does Bush's first term add up," and then answers by looking at a series of juxtaposed numbers that don't add up to the same picture the President presented tonight.

232: Number of American combat deaths in Iraq between May 2003 and January 2004

501: Number of American servicemen to die in Iraq from the beginning of the war - so far

0: Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender to the Allies in May 1945

0: Number of coffins of dead soldiers returning home from Iraq that the Bush administration has allowed to be photographed

0: Number of funerals or memorials that President Bush has attended for soldiers killed in Iraq

100: Number of fund-raisers attended by Bush or Vice-President Dick Cheney in 2003


$100 billion: Estimated cost of the war in Iraq to American citizens by the end of 2003

$13 billion: Amount other countries have committed towards rebuilding Iraq (much of it in loans) as of 24 October

36%: Increase in the number of desertions from the US army since 1999

92%: Percentage of Iraq's urban areas that had access to drinkable water a year ago

60%: Percentage of Iraq's urban areas that have access to drinkable water today

32%: Percentage of the bombs dropped on Iraq this year that were not precision-guided

1983: The year in which Donald Rumsfeld gave Saddam Hussein a pair of golden spurs

There's more.

And more numbers to be added. A project well worth underaking. A portrait of Bush, painted by numbers. To be kept in the pocket of everyone who reads left of center blogs and who thinks that four years of this madness has been more than enough. Ready to be shared with fence-sitting friends and relatives.

I'm serious.

One of the most difficult rhetorical tasks ahead for all of us is how to deal with President Bush's tenuous relationship with facts without having to call him a liar. And why not just call him that? Because a huge number of Americans, often the very ones we wish to sway to our side, just don't like that kind political rhetoric. But the chasm between what Bush says and what he does, between what he presents as "reality," and what the "reality" factually is, are among his most serious faults as a President. How to broach the subject and yet not turn off the very people we're trying to persuade.

Let the numbers tell the story? Tell us what you think.

UPDATE: alert reader, swarty, points out that I'm actually linking here to a story that appeared in the Independent, and would have been an unlikely candidate for the pages of the rightwing Telegraph. Too true; weirdly I was staring right at the "Independent" website and url even while I typed "Telegraph," and even almost commented on the oddness of the piece appearing there. Apparently, I'd lost my mind while listening to last night's SOTU.

Molly Does The Numbers On The Bush Economy 

I speak of the divine Ms. Ivins, of course.

First she reminds us of this:

When Bush took office, the national debt was $5.7 trillion and his first budget proposed to reduce it by $2 trillion over the next decade. Today, the debt is $7 trillion.

And then this:

Last year, Bush predicted a deficit of $262 billion. According of the CBO, the deficit is currently $480 billion.

Which leads her to ponder, in her typically well-mannered, decidedly non-hate speecifying way, this perfectly reasonable question:

It is unclear to me why anyone would believe anything the president says about our fiscal situation. Keep in mind, this is a man who took three Texas oil companies into bankruptcy.

I anticipate a painful skewing of the statistics on jobs, but there's not much even the finest spinners can do with the basic problem. Under Bill Clinton, the economy gained an average of 236,000 jobs every month. Under George W. Bush, the economy has lost an average of 66,000 jobs a month. Nor is the news getting better. Last month, the economy, supposedly in full recovery, added 1,000 jobs. The economy needs to generate 150,000 jobs a month just to absorb new workers.

This stark picture was part of what I thought was a pretty effective Democratic answer to the President's SOTU address. Molly may be right that these numbers are almost spin proof, but when the transcript from last night's Hardball becomes available, I'll tell you how Chris, and Howard and Peggy found a way to skin that pesky camel inching it's nose under that tented catered Washington party of theirs.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Tonight, I Can Tell You That The State Of Our Union Is..... 

Well, while Lambert will be paying attention to the state of his own sanity, celebrating, with exquisite irony, La Vie Boheme, instead of listening to the roundup of his own achievements by that scrubbrush rangling adopted son of all that's wrong with Texas, some of us will be tuned in to what no one is embarrassed to call Rove's masterplan for the coming campaign; that is what is meant by the "themes the President will touch on," right?

I have no drinking games to offer, but both TomPaine. com and The Center For American Progress have put together nifty score cards for you to use to channel your rage into something more productive than gastric internal bleeding.

Here's where to go to read what the folks at TomPaine have in mind; the scorecard itself is only downloadable in PDF format.

The Center has a whole bunch of stuff for you, a dictionary, a checklist, and to help you feel less alone, links to all kinds of good things to read on specific topics the President is likely to address. Click here and have a ball.

Then, let's discuss. And, yes, there will be a quiz.

"Our" government using private census data in "war" on "terror" 

Calpundit via Atrios here. From the Moonie Times?



my friend Phil is treating me to a fine French dinner at La Boheme, so I won't have to listen to that slippery little scut lie his way SOTU. Better for my digestion and my sanity.

Anyone remember that great old Flannery O'Connor story, Good Country People? The one where the Bible salesman steals a woman's wooden leg? The Machiavellis in the White House remind me of that Bible salesman....

Campaign Track 

Dean: Portsmouth NH, 2AM
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

And Then blogging on the ground in the Granite State, covers Dean's arrival in New Hamshire.

Pease Tradeport is an old Air Force Base. It's still home to Air Force One whenever the Spectacle descends to show his Dad what new country he got that week. The place is designed to deter a ground invasion of any kind, and tonight that included the army of Deaniacs that invaded at 2AM. I got turned away by an official Pease pickup truck with giant Dean signs in the back. I followed the fucking media like any typical American voter and got stuck driving in circles behind a giant satellite dish. There was a convoy of 7 cars or so, driving in circles, hitting dead ends, turning around and guessing which direction to go. But finally, we arrive at our destination, and a guy calling himself Bazooka Joe is shredding his axe to a rock and roll cover of "Play That Funky Music White Boy."

continue reading....


The real winner in Iowa: blogging 

Coverage on the ground by Kos volunteers was far more timely, detailed, and revealing than reportage by major media (not that this would be hard).

The Times print edition summed up the whole sick SCLM thing for me with a big diagram of which MW sat where in some Des Moines steakhouse. I mean, I'm happy for all the business a local enterprise got, but other than than, who gives a shit? Except the MWs themselves, of course.

A little more work, a simdgeon of funding, and there could be real-time, DYI, trustworhty coverage of, say, the Repubican invasion of Manhattan in the fall...

Tears of relief over Iowa from David "I'm writing as Bad as I Can" Brooks. 

Oh man. The latest. At least he isn't shrill, heh heh, this time—calling critics of the neo-cons anti-semites must not have gone over that well with his masters. Anyhow, this time Brooks has adopted a sunny, optimistic tone. The Iowa results have given Dave new confidence that democracy is healthy in America, and he has constructed a typical Democratic voter for us:

If you had to pick a quintessential figure to represent the Iowa Democratic voters who have been showing up at rallies over the past few days, it would be a 55-year-old teacher. She is a moderate, optimistic, progressive educator who wants to believe in politics again. She wants to believe that big changes can still be made in this country, and that big challenges like poverty and the uninsured can still be addressed.

Of course, Brooks winger masters want to destroy this woman's life and everything she's worked for. They want to privatize education and destroy the public schools; they want to hand over her pension to thieves on Wall Street; and they want to destroy the political system she wants to believe in through gerrymandering and tampered election results. I always like it when Republican MWs give the Democrats advice on how to win, or be competitive, or compliment them. It's cute, and it doesn't cause any harm, as long as readers understand it's totally disinformative.

I wish Brooks could figure out from week to week if he wants to be an attack dog or smarmy. It's confusing the readership.

Oh, and Brooks also is relieved to hear that most Democrats are "not haters." They never were, Dave, they never were.

Monday, January 19, 2004

MoDo As Signifier: Part One 

Maureen Dowd is filing from Des Moines, these days, unsurprisingly, being primarily a political columnist, although reading her first two from there, one could be forgiven for being surprised she's chosen to be primarily a political columnist, or that anyone is willing to pay her to write primarily political commentary. Then again, maybe not.

Both columns are vintage MoDo, the same tripe she’s been peddling for years, cunt-ish, clever, and ultimately clueless in its unstated insistence that all political targets are equal because all things political are either substanceless matters of style, or substantive matters so tawdry with compromise, so gooey and gummy from the press of sticky fingers that even her lordly contempt can't redeem them.

Okay, time out. How dare I use a gender-charged cliche like "cunt" to attack a female columnist? Am I really saying that MoDo's "ideas" arise from her vagina? Would I ever use that word in reference to a male columnist, even one who is as corrupted by cynicism as she is?

Quick answers: I dared, despite hesitations, because it was the word that came to mind. But possession of an actual vagina should not be considered causal here. As to male columnists, probably not, though many are as deserving of that epithet as she is. It’s a word with a nasty history, I admit, but it conveys with a certain street authenticity the nastiness that Dowd is about (as a columnist, not as a private person, information about which I have none) that a word like "snarky" doesn’t come anywhere near getting at. Okay, enough "cunt" talk.

So why even bother: haven't we established there’s a good MoDo, and a bad one; isn't it enough she's been willing to attack Dubya, and found herself reviled for it?

No. There is only one MoDo; she's the bad twin and there is no other. Even when she takes on the Bush administration, even when her "take" is well-taken, it's outweighed by her underlying contempt for politics, which is to say, democratic governance.

Ask yourself what this column is about. Then tell me. Please. Topics are certainly mentioned, Bush, the moon, Iraq, the Clinton’s transcendentally wacky marriage, but the flow of words and ideas resists being about anything, which, as Larry David has taught us, isn't the same thing as being about nothing. Dowd has no interest in the political quotidian; she abhors the nit and the grit, the nuts and the bolts of a working democracy. Nor is she an astute social observer, except in the sense that she has an unerring eye for what clichés are au courant, and what clichés can be dusted off and made new again.

The first hard evidence most people had that Howard Dean was actually married came with a startling picture of his wife on the front page of Tuesday's Times, accompanying a Jodi Wilgoren profile.

In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled and unconcerned about not being at her husband's side — the anti-Laura. You could easily imagine the din of Rush Limbaugh and Co. demonizing her as a counterculture fem-lib role model for the blue states.

Uh, I don't know, Mo; shouldn't Howard's many verbal references to "his wife," to one "Judith," and sometimes to a "Judy," (oh dear, hope that doesn't indicate a possible identity crises on the part of either Dean) rate as fairly hard evidence? What’s the issue here; that Howard Dean may have invented a fantasy wife who doesn’t exist, like that wacky, fearful-of-Virginia Wolfe couple, Martha & George with their imaginary child? If so, surely there have been other telltale indications that Judith Steinberg Dean is real; other Vermonters who remember meeting her, like her patients, or her children, or her children's friends and their parents; Vermont must have newspapers; surely their archives could have provided evidence that the Governor’s doctor wife exists? And there's always the AMA.

Crunchy Vermont hippie? A slight refreshening of the utterly stale granola reference; really slight. But in what alternate universe does "hippie" call to mind "worn jeans and old sneakers," "unadorned, unstyled"? Hippies were all about style; their jeans and sneakers were festooned with adornment, not to mention their impulse to use their bodies as a canvas.

I’ll give this to Dowd; her rhetorical sloppiness is of a very high order. And if the very notion of a Doctor who takes seriously the Hippocratic oath she swore to uphold is, as MoDo asserts, easily imaginable fodder for the Limbaugh demonizing machine, does that tell us more about Limbaugh, the lady doctor, or Maureen Dowd, to whom it would never occur to ask such a question?

Bubbling below the surface of this particular brew-haha is this never quite stated gossipy question: since as those in the know (variously referred to as "some women," "many political analyists," "even some who admired," and "one political reporter here,") agree, Howard Dean could use his wife’s help about now, to add "warmth" to his "heat," to vouch for his possession of core values, or just to share his "wild political ride," under which category it is appropriate to include, in the world according to Dowd, "the repatriation ceremony of his brother's remains in Hawaii," which, in fairness MoDo does call "poignant," isn’t there something weirder than weird about his wife's absence, and maybe about the marriage itself?

If Dr. Dean, the wife, has so little passion to see Dr. Dean, the presidential candidate, succeed, shouldn’t voters be asking why?

Perhaps Dowd is as unclear as she is about what she’s really getting at because Tim Noah already beat her to this particular sucker punch.

And if Dr. Dean, the wife, does show up in Iowa, as one would imagine she might for the last couple of days, be assured, the trap is ready to snap shut.

It will be interesting to see, if her husband falters, whether the exigencies of politics will require her to make a house call on his campaign. (emphasis mine)

What Maureen Dowd can be trusted always to report straightforwardly, and with a generous respect, is what's being said at the lunchtable where all the cool kids eat.

Since the frugal, no-frills couple does not subscribe to cable TV, she has not even seen much of the virtual campaign, and has to go into his Vermont campaign headquarters if she wants to watch a debate.

"What will she tell their grandkids?" wondered one political reporter here. "Yeah, Grandpa was once a front-runner for president with crowds all over America cheering him but I was too busy to go see it?"

Only the cool kids could think that keeping track of your husband's campaign by watching C-Span at home on your own cable TV is somehow more real and involving than a wife going down to her husband's campaign office to do so, or that frugality is the only reason for not having "cable." The stunningly silly crack about the grandkids is beneath comment.

For those of you who have come this far with me, I can almost feel your unease at this heavy expenditure of time and energy on someone who could as well be ignored. I wish. I'd like to think I'm wrong. But I don't. I think Maureen Dowd shapes the landscape of our political discourse a lot more than we voters do.

In Part Two, I propose to widen this discussion to include two much better writers, Frank Rich and Michael Chabon, who, nonetheless, sup at that same cool kids lunchtable; my hoped for purpose, to initiate a discussion of what we can actually do about adding a few more landscape shapers to the democratic (small "d," please note) equation, and what self-exmination we may need to submit our own attitutdes toward "politics," and "politicians" to be successful in such an endeavor.


Perhaps taking a cue from the fundie zealots running this country, many Israeli leaders are applauding the country's ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, for the vandalization of a Swedish artwork. The installation, "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," consists of a white boat floating in a pool of red liquid. The sail depicts a female suicide bomber, Hanadi Jaradat, who killed 21 Israelis in Haifa on October 4. The installation, Israeli critics claim, is another manifestation of the vaunted recrudescence of anti-Semitism in Europe.

The problem for Israel's apolgists is that the artist, Dror Feiler, is an expatriate Israeli and former paratrooper in the IDF. That hasn't stopped them from denouncing the exhibit, however, or using it as a pretext for broadbrushing all criticism of Israel's policies in the Territories as little more than race hate. Sample reactions here, here, and here.

Questions of artistic merit aside, it's pretty clear that the work's symbolic obscurity invites a multiplicity of interpretations, which, in a political context almost guarantees that the crudest ones will prevail. (A Palestinian reaction, though laudatory, is even more thick-headed.) To its credit, Ha'aretz actually provides a link to the accompanying text for the installation, which Feiler claims his critics ignore. Hopefully it's less flat-footed sounding in the original Swedish, but it does refute Israel's core complaint. (Ha'aretz also manages the admirable feat of courageously defending Feiler's right to free expression without issuing a ritual denunciation of the work itself.)

This story seems to be attracting little attention here, outside of warbloggers with their usual pet obsessions. And perhaps for good reason.
Moshe Zimmermann, a European history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that while Muslims in Europe have adopted some anti-Semitic slogans, "there is no big anti-Semitic wave among the Europeans."

Mr. Zimmermann said complaints about anti-Semitism were meant to cover for "the destructive actions of Israel" in the West Bank and Gaza. "If everyone's an anti-Semite, you don't need to debate them."
Still, one cannot help but imagine the hue and cry here if the roles had been reversed, with an Arab diplomat acting like Ambassdor Mazel.

In any event, if you're going to hurl accusations of anti-Semitism, it helps not to do so while employing a signature brownshirt tactic.

It's All Jane Goodall's Fault 

Remember back when they used to just smoke cigars and ride around on tricycles?

Last Week in the End Times 

Sharia. Where sharing is fundamentalist. I've always thought of Sharia as kind of like having to go through life with a little screeching Louis Sheldon (or some gawd-awful thing like that) tied around your neck. I don't think the Sharia story got that much play in the TV Cable Junk-News media. If any. Several bloggers posted about it, but I don't remember any greater SCLM mention of it. Of course, who really cares? Afterall, I, like many Americans, were pretty busy paying close attention to such grave threats to our democracy and humanity as Howard "the bottle rocket" Dean's weird trajectory through Iowas's midnight sky. Or his snub of Maureen Dowd. How dare he! There should be a televised duel. And, thanks to Insight Magazine, Gen. Wes Clarks ruthless hellborn whiskey soaked slaughter of the Branch Davidians at Waco. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that robotic swimming pool cleaner that they unleashed on Mars and Larry King's big interview with Tom Cruise, in which Tom explained to all America how Scientology can make them fabulously wealthy investing in real estate. And then of course there was all the oooling and more oooling and even more oooling and omnipresent cacaphony of excitable clack valve TV media nooze concerning Michael Jackson. Whoever he is. And on and on. And, oh yeah, there was football too, where a bunch of Volvo driving latte chugging elitists from the Northeast Liberal Occupation Zone beat up on some pantyhose wearing sissy team from the heartland. Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts, I think. It is 1968 again, ain't it?

Whatever. 4 on Sharia in Iraq. From the last week.

1 - From: Thursday, January 15, 2004
Riverbend | Baghdad Burning

Shari'a and Family Law...
On Wednesday our darling Iraqi Puppet Council decided that secular Iraqi family law would no longer be secular- it is now going to be according to Islamic Shari'a. Shari'a is Islamic law, whether from the Quran or quotes of the Prophet or interpretations of modern Islamic law by clerics and people who have dedicated their lives to studying Islam.

The news has barely been covered by Western or even Arab media and Iraqi media certainly aren't covering it. It is too much to ask of Al-Iraqiya to debate or cover a topic like this one- it would obviously conflict with the Egyptian soap operas and songs. This latest decision is going to be catastrophic for females- we're going backwards.

Don't get me wrong- pure Islamic law according to the Quran and the Prophet gives women certain unalterable, nonnegotiable rights. The problem arises when certain clerics decide to do their own interpretations of these laws (and just about *anyone* can make themselves a cleric these days). The bigger problem is that Shari'a may be drastically different from one cleric to another. There are actually fundamental differences in Shari'a between the different Islamic factions or 'methahib'. Even in the same methahib, there are dozens of different clerics who may have opposing opinions. This is going to mean more chaos than we already have to deal with. We've come to expect chaos in the streets… but chaos in the courts and judicial system too?!

2 - Healing Iraq Sharia to replace civil marriage and inheritance laws

I'm so happy about this, now I can marry and divorce in any way I like. Yay! I'm at the moment gathering family members to go to the local cleric so I can divorce my fourth wife which I don't really like anymore, and get myself an 11 year-old virgin. All the other small details will be settled within the family and with the blessings of the Sayid.

Now seriously, this GC decision has created a firestorm and is the most talked about news in Baghdad. There were Iraqi women groups demonstrations lead by Nisrin Barawari, the minister of public works, on Tuesday at Fardus square protesting against this discriminating decision.

So much for secularism. I guess my fears are now warranted especially with thousands of Shi'ites marching yesterday in Basrah shouting "Yes to Sistani" and "Death to America". Who is going to protect and enforce womens rights now? I'm pretty sure our good ole Godfather Sistani is now clapping his hands in glee. There is no way he wasn't involved in this decision.

3 - Via: Juan Cole

So, the response of the Bush administration to the September 11 attack on the United States by a group of radical Islamist extremists has been to abolish secular law for Iraqi women and impose a fundamentalist reading of Islamic law on them. Yes, it all makes perfect sense.

4 - Max Sawicky Oh You Make My Motor Run, My Sharia

This has been trampled over pretty thoroughly, but most people have missed the point. In a similar vein, we would like to remind you of the U.S. Occupation's upholding of Saddamist labor law.

The concession to Islamic supremacy over secularism is not some short-term slip out of pragmatism. It is fundamental to U.S. hegemony in the Middle East, and always has been. Theocracy is one of the U.S.-aligned Oil Cartel's weapons against secularism, nationalism, and democracy. The other one is expansionist Zionism.

Theocracy is synonymous with privatization of oil, for the sake of putting international markets (=foreign customers) first, and Arab national interests last. That's why the U.S. backed Osama and the mujaheddin against the Soviet-friendly Afghani government, why it upholds compliant monarchies, why Israel attacked the PLO before Hamas. It's why the corporatist Right inveighs against people like Saddam Hussein and before him, Nasser, and ignores equally horrendous crimes against human rights in other places.


Bush successfully stonewalls 9/11 Commission 

Dan Eggin of WaPo writes:

A growing number of commission members had concluded that the panel needs more time to prepare a thorough and credible accounting of missteps leading to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the White House and leading Republicans have informed the panel that they oppose any delay, which raises the possibility that Sept. 11-related controversies could emerge during the

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said, "The administration has given them an unprecedented amount of cooperation . . . and we expect they will be able to meet that deadline."

John Feehery, a spokesman for Hastert, said there is little support for a delay in the Republican-controlled Congress. "I can't imagine a situation where they get an extension," Feehery said. "I don't sense a lot of enthusiasm for considering that."

Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed at the World Trade Center, said the interviews underscore a conflict-of-interest problem at the commission and cast serious doubts on the panel's credibility.

"We've had it," said Breitweiser, who met with several commission leaders last week. "It is such a slap in the face of the families of victims. They are dishonoring the dead with their irresponsible behavior."

No surprise. When has the uniquely vicious and irresponsible malAdministration ever exhibited a sense of honor? Anyhow, I like the part best where the White House mouthpiece says Bush's cooperation has been "unprecedented"—which doesn't say, does it, how much cooperation they actually gave ....

And the Post doesn't even put this on the front page?! The Post's ombudsman is here.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Bush, Hastert to stiff 9/11 Commission? 

Drudge (!). (Via Oliver).


A city mourns... 

Oh Philly, Philly.

Just an old-fashioned beating.

Which I witnessed, again in the Marriott lounge, in the company of three gracious ladies from West Philly, who had taken the train in specially, and a street person with a terrible case of laryngitis. Until next year!

The Sunday Papers 

See below for farmer's coverage of the Sunday blogosphere. And GO IGGLES!!!!!


Indeed, what about Dick? Remarkably, or not, one Marc Liebowitz manages to doublethink his way into writing this sentence—"[Cheney] will never be called a sycophant, schmoozer or self-promoter—and then this one—"George W. Bush asked Cheney to vet prospective running mates in 2000, only to wind up asking . . . what about Dick? `It's the most Machiavellian [expletive] thing I've ever seen,' says Stuart Spencer, a Republican consultant and old friend of Cheney's"—in the very same article. Heading up a task force to select a VP, and selecting yourself, as did Cheney, looks like the essence of self-promotion to me. Strange how revealing the "friends" of Republicans can be, isn't it? Even stranger is what these friends laugh off; Kristof's report of Bush torturing and killing frogs as a child was corroborated by a childhood friend of Bush. Issues with Liebowitz's soft coverage of Cheney will doubtless land on the desk of overworked Post ombudsman Michael Getler (mail), whose column today quotes a good deal of well-reasoned, i.e., liberal criticism of WaPo's role in the state-run media. (Some honorable reporters still haven't gotten the memo on this one, fortunately for us and our democracy). Keep up the good work, folks!
The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!)

And speaking of ombudsmen, Times "public editor" Daniel Okrent keeps his promise (back) to cover the Times's coverage of Dean. Okrent sums up: "Memo to Dean supporters: If you think it's rough when The Times has you under observation, be prepared to strap on your seat belts if he wins the nomination." (I certainly hope that's not a threat!) The only problem with Okrent's statement: The Times has already issued itself a get-out-of-jail-free card (here) for its fawning "coverage" of Bush in the 2000 campaign, and Whitewater too, if it comes to that. [See the Howler here, and here. Honestly, Mr. Okrent, do you think we don't keep careful records?] So, fool me once (Whitewater), shame on you. Fool me twice ("election" 2000), shame on me. Does Mr. Okrent (mail) give us a reason to reset the Time's lack-of-credibility counter to zero? I don't think so. Third time's not the charm. Mr. Okrent has bravely published his phone number: (212) 556-7652. Meanwhile, the Times does have some actual reportage on Walmart creatively abusing its workers, Microsoft's impunity, and the Bush trashing science in the National Park Service. (Why should my tax dollars go to place a book that claims the Grand Canyon is 6000 years old?)
The Los Angeles Times

Alisa Rubin has an interesting story on the difficulties Bush will have triangulating the Shiites, the Kurds, and the Sunnis in time for the Republican Guard's Manhattan in-gathering. Chalmers Johnson has an excellent article on the United States miltary footprint at home and abroad. "According to the American Enterprise Institute, the idea is to create "a global cavalry" that can ride in from "frontier stockades" and shoot up the "bad guys" as soon as we get some intelligence on them." And, on the same platform with Wesley Clark, Michael Moore successfully transmitted the aWol meme into the mainstream media. "Asked later if he shared Moore's view that Bush was a deserter, Clark said: "I've heard those charges. I don't know whether they're established or not. He was never prosecuted for it." How true. It will be interesting to compare and contrast SCLM coverage of Clark's artful non-denial denial with Dean's mere mention of the "Bush knew about 9/11" theories. Anyhow, with $130 million, Unka Karl shouldn't have too much trouble making this one go away. After all, Rove only has to produce one witness showing that Bush did do his service, even though the paperwork seems to be missing. P.S. Please, Korean parents: Don't multilate the tongues of your children so they can speak English without an accent.


Laura Bush raises $5 million for Bush's election.

Judith Steinberg heals the sick.


Maureen? (back)

Sunday Driving 

Liberal Coalition blog-a-round

1 - Steve Gillard is back from vacation, I mean, "the hospital!". Some excerpts:

Saturday, January 17, 2004
I'm back from the hospital, after a week of bad food and having blood drawn daily. [...] A bad drug interaction on top of a viral infection. [...] My face is sunburned, I had to shave off all my facial hair and my lips are now bee-stung. It ain't pretty. [...] ...you will deal with a lot of women. If you like little brunettes, go... [...] It makes my brain hurt to think of the possibilities. Three, be nice. Be nice to the staff because if they hate you, your life there will suck,... [...] Four, the food may suck, but grin and bear it.

Hospital! Sounds to me like SG spent the week at a motel on the outskirts of Ensenada. But so what, really, when ya think about it, whats the difference? Welcome back SG.

2 - Speedkill has a post up (mirroring Juan Cole's post) regarding the growing lucrative kidnapping service industry in Iraq.
Colonel Feisal Ali, a veteran Baghdad policeman, said: "Criminals who used to steal gold and jewellery now specialise in kidnapping because it is easier and more profitable. Some actually maintain their own private prisons."

3 - Keith at the Invisible Library comments on New Zealanders impressions of the US. Also, you can read some of Keith's original fiction here --> The Tragic Circus or Here

4 - edwardpig has a good post up with regards to the: Five Things You Won't Hear in the State of the Union Address.
The group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity has given Bush more helpful advice. Specifically, they have some suggestions for topics to include in his upcoming State of the Union Address:

5 - Jesse at Gotham City 13 makes the following observation with respect to national security pre 9/11.
Bill Clinton was well out of office and Bush had plenty of time to implement any new security measures that he needed to. Yet the same people, who can somehow blame Clinton for 9/11, overlook the fact that Bush did nothing to prevent the attack, either. If Clinton's approach was so awful, how come Bush didn't change it? [continue reading Keep Turning That Tide at link above]

6 - Trish Wilson gives us a heads up on the publication of her article in the women's news journal Off Our Backs
I have just received word that "off our backs" will be publishing my article about the use of specious medical syndromes against women in custody cases in the Jan/Feb '04 issue. One "syndrome" I discuss at length is Parental Alienation Syndrome.

7 - Oh No! ~ Stradiotto, who knows how to ride even with an arrow through his head, has revealed a top secret confidential DoD photo that I missed! Evil Stradiotto!

He also been working on a biographical photo montage celebrating the life and times of Henry Kissinger. Sneak peak here --> Dr. Henry sacrifices the personal little things in life, to better serve his country's diplomacy.

EXTRA! Thank God and Old Glory The General understands me.

8 Chris "Lefty" Brown gets my vote in the "snappy answers to stupid comments" awards category. See for yerself.

9 LISTEN: Alex at Sooner Thought is an actual real journalist. Or was an actual real journalist, but now does something different. And a real political campaign consultant too. Or was. In any case, hes not some yo-yo out here venting so much viscious blather like myself. Although I do have a real journalist in my family (and no, I'm not going to tell who it is) because then some idiots might send them mean stupid email messages. And I think we all know how charming that can be.

Anyway, for a real journalist, who writes like one..... this is what I'm talking about. Read: Heartless Marriage Plans
Ooops Update: Proof that I'm a yo-yo. Alex didn't write "Heartless Marriage Plans". I missed the NYTimes credit at the bottom of the article. But go read "Heartless Marriage Plans" anyway and then browse around and read some more at Sooner Thought.

10 BlogAmy spends two cents wisely and fairly with respect to the gun ownership debate. And as a side-note to this issue, I also grew up with guns; hunting critters, and so forth. I don't hunt any more but I still own a gun and I know how to use it. Likewise, others in my family still hunt and have been doing so for a long time. Venison really is some good eatin'. But, I don't know anyone who takes hunting seriously (from an eat what you kill perspective) who belongs to the NRA. Not one. All of the hunters I know consider the NRA crowd a group of yahoos. Even worse, the GOA! (Gun Owners of America) The crazies who are/were headed up by that Falangist kook Larry Pratt. Urrggh. Don't get me going on Larry Pratt.

Similarly, the "canned hunt" is considered nothing more than shooting fish in a barrel. And more often than not nothing more than some salable outing for some drip who doesn't want to sit in a tree stand for ten hours in ten degree weather waiting for the object of the hunt to appear, or not. "Canned hunts" are for phonies and posers and dandy boys. If you want to hunt game, learn how to do it. If you want some hot man action story to tell the doods at the office learn how to sharpen chainsaws or go jump off a bridge with a bungee cord coiled around your friggin' ankle. In any case, I'm sure that there are responsible hunters out there who are also NRA members. However, the yahoos that drive the NRA chuckwagon have a different ideological and political agenda which they are driving forward at the expense of those who hunt responsibly and take environmental and wildlife management issues seriously.

Owning a 50mm canon, just so you can destroy a small tool shed during your annual Fourth of July backyard ride-on lawnmower race doesn't have anything to do with hunting, or "freedom," or "patriotism," or the Constitution, or hot manly action, or much of anything else for that matter. It just simply means that you are a jerk who is going to have to buy a new tool shed before the next heavy summer rain rolls over the horizon.

Anyway. In my opinion, the whole gun ownership debate has been hijacked by absolutists from both left and right over the years. And unfortunately the absolutist right, by ricochet, has managed to ring more bells in the "public square"; at the expense of those who take responsible gun ownership issues and legislation seriously.

And finally, this weeks NZ Bear Showcase entry endorsement goes to c h a n d r a s u t r a for the following:
You're soaking in it - One of the most terrifying things I've seen on television in recent months are those ads for disposable cleaning products. I watch in horror as manic, Khaki-pants wearing housewives rush in a state of housebound frenzy, jamming flimsy plastic faux mops into the nooks and crannies of their gigantic and spotless homes. Aside from the obvious Freudian readings, the commercials feature toxic attidues not only towards women (retro 50s values, etc) but to all aspects of our mental and environmental health.

I agree completely. Buy a cotton dish towel, and/or a real mop and bucket, and learn how to use it. Otherwise, learn to live with some dirt. It ain't gonna kill ya. As a matter of fact it's good for you. Most of your food grows in it. So knock off the clean freak routine. Take off your muddy shoes, in the living room, and stay a while.

CODA That's it. I apologize to those LC members who I didn't get to list this round. Just too many for one post, all at one time. All visitors take a gander at the blogroll. LC members are indicated by one of these thingies - } - Go read what they have to say. Go. You won't be sorry.


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