Saturday, April 24, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Tomorrow is Sunday. And Sunday, for me, is just like any other day. It wasn't always like that, of course—once, the Sunday New York Times was published by a newsgathering organization....

Readers, is Sunday just another day for you? Why or why not?

Vatican attempt to intervene in election 2004 backfires 

The attempt; the result:

A spokesman for Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley says the archbishop "does not hold to the practice of publicly refusing Communion to anyone."
(via AP)

That "anyone" would include John Kerry, supporter of Roe v. Wade.

Spong's higher calling 

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppression of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of the day. (Thomas Jefferson)

John Shelby Spong
Episcopal Bishop Emeritus of Newark, New Jersey

John Shelby Spong retired as Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, in February 2000. Raised a fundamentalist in North Carolina at a time when the Bible was quoted to justify segregation, Bishop Spong came to believe that insistence on an inerrant, literal view of the Bible obscures truth and destroys faith. His subsequent challenges to the Church's position on human sexuality, the virgin birth, and the physical nature of Christ' resurrection had made him the target of fundamentalist hostility and fear. At the same time, it has offered hope to countless others who yearn to believe in God but reject premodern literalizations masquerading as faith. Spong |Westar Institute

John S. Spong; A Call for a New Reformation:

The need for a new theological reformation began when Copernicus and Galileo removed this planet from its previous supposed location at the center of the universe, where human life was thought to bask under the constant attention of a humanly defined parental deity. That revolution in thought produced an angle of vision radically different from the one in which the Bible was written and through which the primary theological tenets of the Christian faith were formed.


Martin Luther ignited the Reformation of the 16th century by nailing to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517 the 95 Theses that he wished to debate. I will publish this challenge to Christianity in The Voice. I will post my theses on the Internet and send copies with invitations to debate them to the recognized Christian leaders of the world. My theses are far smaller in number than were those of Martin Luther, but they are far more threatening theologically. The issues to which I now call the Christians of the world to debate are these:

1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
2.Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
6.. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
7.. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

So I set these theses today before the Christian world and I stand ready to debate each of them as we prepare to enter the third millennium.

Excerpts above from A Call for a New Reformation, by John S Spong.

Reference links:
Spong Bio
Spong Profile
Spong online / forums / calendar / library: A New Christianity for a New World


Here We Have Dominion ~ esto perpetua 

Errand in the Wilderness; Bonnie Blue revival gets a fresh jolt of that old time Reconstructionist persuasion.

TheoDixie rising:
"The vision of the Puritan fathers is not dead, but in our generation has revived and is beginning to spread through our land again," - Steven Wilkins (Pastor, Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church, Monroe LA) [Intelligence Report, Spring 2004]

Excerpted material below from the Spring 2004 issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Itelligence Report.

'Overthrowing Secularism'
Wilkins and Wilson have together probably done more than any others to construct the theology now animating much of the neo-Confederate movement. But there is more to their ideology than a defense of the South and slavery.

In his voluminous and often tedious writings, Wilson lays out an array of hard-right beliefs, many of them related to family and sexual matters. Overall, he told congregants last year, his goal is "the overthrow of unbelief and secularism."

The world as Wilson sees it is divided not by race but by religion — biblical Christians versus all others. As he says in one of his books, "[I]f neither parent believes in Jesus Christ, then the children are foul — unclean."

"Government schools" are godless propaganda factories teaching secularism, rationalism, and worse. Wilson's congregants are instructed to send their children to private Christian schools (like the one he started) or to home-school them.

Woman "was created to be dependent and responsive to a man," Wilson writes. Feminists seek "to rob women of their beauty in submission." Women should only be allowed to date or "court" with their father's permission — and then, if they are Christian, only with other Christians.

If a woman is raped, the rapist should pay the father a bride price and then, if the father approves, marry his victim.

Homosexuals, Wilson says, are "sodomites," "people with foul sexual habits." But the biblical punishment for homosexuality is not necessarily death, Wilson says in trying to distance himself from Reconstruction. Exile is another possibility.

Cursing one's parents is "deserving of punishment by death," Wilson adds. "Parental failure is not a defense." And Christian parents, by the way, "need not be afraid to lay it on" when spanking, he says.

Indeed, "godly discipline" would include spanking 2-year-old children for such "sins" as whining.

The high water mark; Wilson's charge.
Good Christians, he said, needed to look for "decisive points" in society, places that are both "strategic and feasible" targets to be "taken." New York City, for instance, is strategic but not feasible — too many godless liberals. Other places are feasible but not strategic — unimportant places in the theological wars that Wilson foresees.

"But," Douglas Wilson added in an upbeat note that day, "small towns with major universities (Moscow and Pullman, say) are both."

Continue reading: Taliban on the Palouse? A religious empire based in Idaho is part of the far-right theological movement fueling neo-Confederate groups - By Mark Potok


"Anti-Christian bigots have assumed that they can act with abandon in their efforts to trash the sacred history of Christian America. We're here to say that this anti-Christian bigotry has no place in this great country," - Roberta Combs, Christian Coalition of America [source: Agape Press, Oct. 2003]

Reference links:
Intelligence Project

Iraqi insurgency: Suicide boat attacks shut down Basra oil terminal 

Thank heavens we're bringing Libya online; this Iraq thing isn't looking so good

Suicide bombers launched three coordinated boat attacks on Iraq's vital southern Basra oil export terminal on Saturday, killing two members of U.S.-led forces.

Officials said there was no damage to the terminal, but Iraq's primary oil outlet -- some 10 km (six miles) offshore -- was closed after the attacks and workers were evacuated. It was not immediately clear how long the closure would last.

Iraq is almost completely dependent on the terminal -- which is in Britain's sector of responsibility in the country -- to export around 1.9 million barrels per day, providing badly needed funding for a country battered by war and violence.
(via Reuters)

Interesting that the attack is in the British sector...

The Toronto Star has a good roundup of the weekends attacks (via Juan Cole).

Wingers: Klan better than Kerry 

You'd have to laugh at the sheer over-the-top looniness of it, if only the statement didn't come from an uber-rich member of the Coors dynasty:

The New York Times inadvertently published a photo of Republican Senate candidate Pete Coors above a story about a KKK member who murdered a black sharecropper. The Times published a correction Saturday.

Cinamon Watson, spokeswoman for Coors, said the error was "so outrageous it's kind of funny. It could have been worse. Pete could have been identified as John Kerry."

Coors, head of the Coors brewing empire, is seeking the Republican nomination to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who is retiring.
(via AP)

Hey, nice to see the Republicans moving to the center at last. Oh, wait...

OK then, religion! 

Frank Herbert wrote in his novel Dune:

When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement becomes headlong---faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to a man in a blind rush until it's too late." --Bene Gesserit proverb


Atrios and The Village Gate certainly have been.

For my part, FTF. On the other hand, I don't regard the FTF'ed Fundamentalists, or Bush for that matter, as Christians. They're trivial and abortive power seekers, plain and simple. And POTL.

On the flag-draped coffins 

So why is it OK for Bush to run a campaign ad of rescue workers taking a flag-draped coffin out of the WTC ruins, and it's not OK for our free press to run a picture of a flag-draped coffin coming back from Iraq?

Just asking.

Talking the talk, and walking the walk 


Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry still carries a piece of shrapnel in his left thigh from a 1969 Vietnam War wound that led to his second Purple Heart, his doctor said on Friday.
(via Reuters)


Um. (back)

The dental records?

The codpiece?

Actually, the Republicans—they even wheeled out the really big gun, Waura—did a really good job spinning the (still incomplete) Bush military records issue.

The issue was not—as they claimed—that serving in the National Guard was somehow, in itself, unpatriotic; the issue was (1) whether Bush did, in fact, fulfill his service obligations (which we still don't know because the "complete" records don't include the DD214, reason for discharge), and (2) whether Bush can run as an uber-patriot having a service record like Bush does. I don 't think so.

To be fair, Bush's military record is stellar, compared to the chickenhawks who surround him, so maybe by Republican standards he is a hero. Nevertheless, they, and he, remind me of nothing so much as the Duke of Plaza Toro in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers. I was going to quote only a part of it, but heck, it's all relevant so here it is:

In enterprise of martial kind,
When there was any fighting,
He led his regiment from behind
(He found it less exciting).
But when away his regiment ran,
His place was at the fore, O-
That celebrated, Cultivated, Underrated Nobleman,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!
In the first and foremost flight, ha, ha!
You always found that knight, ha, ha!
That celebrated, Cultivated, Underrated Nobleman,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

When, to evade Destruction's hand,
To hide they all proceeded,
No soldier in that gallant band
Hid half as well as he did.
He lay concealed throughout the war,
And so preserved his gore, O!
That unaffected, Undetected, Well connected Warrior,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!
In every doughty deed, ha, ha!
He always took the lead, ha, ha!
That unaffected, Undetected, Well connected Warrior,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

When told that they would all be shot
Unless they left the service,
That hero hesitated not,
So marvellous his nerve is.
He sent his resignation in,
The first of all his corps, O!
That very knowing, Overflowing, Easy-going Paladin,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!
To men of grosser clay, ha, ha!
He always showed the way, ha, ha!
That very knowing, Overflowing, Easy-going Paladin,
The Duke of Plaza-Toroza-Toro
(Gilbert & Sullivan, The Gondoliers)

It's funny how certain types appear throughout history and literature, isn't it?

Poor Bush! While he was participating in his opera bouffe military service in TANG—not to take anything away from those who actually did serve honorably—Kerry was getting shot at. And now Bush, to win, has to smear Kerry as a traitor and a coward. A terrible dilemma for a man of conscience....

Is anyone else still gettting blogger spewage? 

Readers: Are any of you still getting stuff like this? From the current page? From the archives?

This stuff just overpowers my laptop: Can take a half hour to download, disk accessing all the while, and screws up my cache.

I'm using Mozilla 1.6 under linux—if anyone else is experiencing this, please comment and leave your browser and platform too.

Grr! This is eating into my precious weekend blogging time!

UPDATE Readers, if you get this anywhere else, can you give the URL where you're getting it, for the Mozilla people? Thanks.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

"Or does it explode?"


Bush to give go/no go decision on Najaf 

I hope he's on the phone to Sistani.... Anyhow, we're dug in around the holy city of Najaf back):

Senior officers say the order to attack Najaf will be made "at the very highest levels of the U.S. government," an indication that President Bush may have the final word on whether soldiers here fight, or keep on waiting.
(via AP in Fort Wayne News Sentinel from Juan Cole)

So, when Bush says the generals told him to go in, he's lying (as usual). Watch for it...

So who's funding Kerry character assassin Ted Sampley, anyhow? 

Just asking. Readers?

(For more on this Goon Squad member, see back here.)

Show me the money! Bush administration still hiding Medicare cost estimates 

Amazing. No, not amazing. Outrageous.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is refusing to make public or give congressional Democrats the Bush administration's estimates of the cost of last year's Medicare legislation.

In a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a senior HHS official writing on Thompson's behalf said Democrats have no right to review administration estimates that the Medicare overhaul would cost substantially more than what President Bush and Thompson disclosed last year. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter Friday.
(via AP)

My representative doesn't have the right to look at Bush estimates of what my tax dollars will bring me. Shameless.

What Happens To A Dream Deferred? 

Langston Hughes' answer* to that question provided Lorraine Hansberry with the title of her great play in the American realist tradition.

Sue Diaz is the mother of Spc. Roman Diaz, currently a resident in Iraq, courtesy of the 1st Armored Division. Her answer to the question of what happens to hope too long deferred is as eloquent and haunting and as fully in that tradition of American realism.

There are two hopes here: the first is the hope of a twenty-year old soldier that his call to duty in Iraq will mean something good for the people of Iraq. The CSMonitor article, written by his mother, is accompanied by a photograph Spc. Diaz taken on the day Saddam was captured. Here's his mother's description of it:

The photo, full of light, movement, and color, is beautiful. In it, a small group of Iraqi children are skipping, laughing, and running toward the camera on a dusty road near Baghdad. At the center, a boy waves a newspaper high above his head. In the low sun of early evening, the children's long shadows fan out in the direction of the person taking the picture. The photographer, a kid himself not all that long ago, is an American soldier.


Back in December, a few months after his 20th birthday, he snapped this photo from the back of his Army vehicle the day Saddam Hussein was captured. He used a small digital camera he'd brought with him on his deployment to Baghdad last spring - tucked it into a pocket of his uniform so it wouldn't get bumped by the machine gun it has also been his job to carry.

The attached message that arrived with the photo on Sue Diaz's computer said, "It is a time of great hope here in Iraq."

Sue and her son have carried on an online conversation during his Iraqi stint. The mother's hope is that against her intrinsic skepticism about the war, her son's optimism, his hope, would prove to be the more accurate. It hasn't, as the son's emails confirm.

The second hope, that Sue Diaz's son would be returned to her after he's completed his military obligation, is proving as illusory. The scene, as Ms Diaz sketches it, in which they both face this reality is heart-breaking and unforgettable.

You are obligated to read it, whether you were/are for this war, or were not, because it is a scene that is being repeated in the thousands of Americans homes of those who have already been asked to sacrifice too much for their country, while the rest of us have been called on to contribute, other than our tax money, next to nothing.

* If you have not committed to memory this simple to remember poem, here's another opportunity.

And Speaking of Kerry's Military Record, Here's A Good Idea 

From Bob Fertik at Democrats.com, which is a great website, even though I don't agree with their efforts to get Bush impeached, for no other than the strictly practical reason than in terms of getting Kerry elected, I personal feel talk of "impeachment," however well deserved is the discussion, is ultimately unproductive, and possibly counerproductive.

This, on the other hand, I can definitely get behind.

The Boston Globe has abandoned its quest for the truth about Bush's grounding and AWOL during his National Guard duty, and now is attacking John Kerry's military record. In an open letter to Globe reporter Michael Kranish, Bob Fertik documents Dan Bartlett's latest lies. We demand complete and truthful answers to the 2 questions posed by Walter Robinson of the Globe back on Feb. 14: why Bush went AWOL for many months in 1972-73, and why Bush was grounded.

Click here and read Bob Fertik's Open Letter to the Globe's reporter, Michael Kranish. It's masterful, especially in its use of corroborating evidence from other news sources.

Read it, and then join in the fun: send your own letter. And then check out everything at Democrats.com.

Wash Post Rinse 

Ted Sampley is once again running amok in the wheelhouse. And apparently Lois Romano of the Washington Post has scurried aboard for the seasick jag. Which would also explain why Romano has been vomiting a familiar slurpy of old grog all over the salty deck of her own leaky frigate the Washington Post.

Way to go Lois. Some people never learn. Maybe swabbie Jimmy Olson will show up and slap you up side the head with a wet mop. In the meantime readers can write to WaPo's sleepy shore patrol trooper Michael Getler and let him know what you think of this recent hanky waving on behalf of Sampley's boozy ship of CREEPs.

Leah provides the follow-up info in the post below, see EdwardPig, Props To You, so I won't repeat the content found there. But, just for the record, i will repeat the following previous statement from Sen. John McCain as it applies to Ted Sampley and his noisy boatload of clatterous whelps.

"I strongly caution reporters who may be contacted by or are interested in Mr. Ted Sampley and the various organizations he claims to represent, and his opinions on the subject of Senator Kerry, or any subject for that matter, to investigate thoroughly Mr. Sampley's background and history of spreading outrageous slander and other disreputable behavior before inadvertently lending him or his allegations any credibility."

"I am well familiar with Mr. Sampley, and I know him to be one of the most despicable people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. I consider him a fraud who preys on the hopes of family members of missing servicemen for his own profit. He is dishonorable, an enemy of the truth, and despite his claims, he does not speak for or represent the views of all but a few veterans. The many veterans I know would think it a disgrace to be considered a comrade or supporter of Ted Sampley." [source: statement of John McCain]

Heave it overboard Romano. Or report to the dispensary straightaway.


EdwardPig, Props To You 

Neither an insult, nor a character from a fairy tale, that's the name of a blog. If you don't know it, you should.

You should also know that its proprietor is neither a pig, fine four-legged creatures though they be, nor is he an Edward. (I hear tell that he goes by the name of David)

What you should know: two posts worthy of a visit, as is the entire site worthy of a bookmark.

First up, An Open Letter to Wa Po Ombudsman, Michael Getler, regarding Lois Romano's article that seeks to present a balanced summary of the "controversial" aspects of John Kerry's military record, which "David" finds not all that well-balanced.

Second up: This first rate example of follow-up reporting , in this case the on-going deep hypocrisy of the President's campaign in its on-going attempt to use the issue of body-armor for our troops in Iraq against Senator Kerry.

Other good stuff, too, about the Saudis and two nice links to Kos and Kevin Drum's comparisons of two contrasting military records.

While I'm on the subject, Kos reprints a stunning description of what action it was on the part of the young, (oh so young, can we please remember how oh so young they were, and still are), John Kerry that won him, I think, the Silver Heart. I'm reproducing it here because in my mind it bears much re-reading.

On Feb. 28, 1969, Kerry's craft and two other boats came under heavy fire from the riverbanks. Kerry ordered his units to turn into the ambush and sent men ashore to charge the enemy. According to the records, an enemy soldier holding a loaded rocket launcher sprang up within 10 feet of Kerry's boat and fled. Kerry leapt ashore, ran down the man and killed him.

My purpose was not to provide a frisson, one of those tiny, illicit thrills derived from the heroism of someone else, though if you experienced that, to be honest, upon first reading, so did I. But no, not that. This: For all of us to think about what it is we were asking of our young men then, and are asking today of both our young men and women "in theatre" to use one of the military's terms of art, not only that they be ready to die, and to live with the awareness of death at any moment, that we ask, too, that they be ready to kill, to take life, and then if that happens, to live with the memory for the rest of their lives.

In "Saving, Private Ryan," (for all its searing brilliance, a film I found to be disappointing) there was a scene that engraves itself on the mind of the viewer and changes forever the meaning of the words, "hand to hand combat." If you saw the film, you'll know to what scene I'm referring.

Can anyone doubt that the experience incapsulated in that single descriptive sentence quoted above changed forever the man that John Kerry would become?

Look! A free press! 

Enjoy it while you can (it was one of the freedoms the troops were fighting for, right?)

I like the contrast between the words and the image....

Horror 24/7 

I've given up calling for the 5:00 Horror because it seems the spewage of horror from the administration now happens all the time.

But who knows, maybe today they'll surprise me!

North Korea calls for international help 

After the explosion and the resulting "sea of fire":

Secretive North Korea, in a rare admission of need, called for international assistance on Friday to deal with the huge explosion at a train station in which at least 150 people died.

The New York-based United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said a "formal request in response to the disaster" was received on Friday afternoon.
(via Reuters)

It's great to see the famously disciplined Bush administration stepping up to the plate with an aid offer that would not only cost us virtually nothing, and be the Christian thing to do, but would be a rare gesture of goodwill (translation: "PR bonanza"). Oh, wait....

More on Tami Silicio, who got fired for taking the photo Bush doesn't want you to see 

Turns out her son is wants to join the Marines.

"I know how she felt about it — she's a mother who has lost a kid," [Will] Taylor, [Tami Silicio's son] said from the Everett home he shares with his mother when she is not working abroad. "I don't know if she meant for things to blow up like it has, though."

The picture hasn't dissuaded Taylor from his plan to join the Marines in September.

"I've been planning to go into the Marines for a long time," he said. "I know she (Silicio) will be proud of me for going in."

Tami Silicio's sister Toni Silicio Prebezac, 52, said Tami sometimes sent e-mails about her experiences working in Kuwait.

"(Tami, 50,) said she would say prayers over the coffins. It was like the airplane was a church," said Prebezac, of Edmonds, as she and her family hurriedly prepared to leave for New York. "It was like she was a mom to these fallen boys."
(via Seattle Times)

Funny how people are just people, isn't it? How they don't necessarily fit into neat categories.

Anyhow, it's wrong for the administration to hide the photos. It's even worse for them to prate about privacy when it's clearly just a PR move. What the Pentagon's PR flacks say:

"Quite frankly, we don't want the remains of our servicemembers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to be the subject of any kind of attention that is unwarranted or undignified," said John Molino, a deputy undersecretary of defense.
(via Seattle Times)

Or "any attention" whatever, eh?

The problem with hiding the photos, beyond the problem that it hides the true costs of the war, is that is somehow implies that the troops are separate and apart from the American people themselves. Molino says "our servicemembers." No, Mr. Molino, they are our servicemembers. Please don't hide them.

The Goon Squad nailed in California 

A small triumph for justice

The campaign manager and fund-raising committee for a California Republican have agreed to pay $84,000 in civil penalties for sending out letters pretending to be Democrats during a 1998 congressional campaign, the Federal Election Commission said.
(via AP)

This is, of course, just business as usual for our party of "the rule of law." How simple it seemed in the days when we were impeaching a President for a consensual blow job, instead of for lying his way into a war and misappropriating $700 million.... We are impeaching him, right? Oh, wait...

Anyhow, to the point at hand:

Republicans masquerading as Democrats, freepers staging bourgeois riots online (back), the theft of Kerry's files, theft of Democratic files in AZ, paramilitaries hired for the RNC convention...,

Gosh, the list is quite a long one already, isn't it?

So, I'm using the term "The Goon Squad" for the operatives in the ultra-Nixonian dirty tricks program that Bush is obviously running, and that doubtless our feckless SCLM will discover, conveniently, after the election.

Terrorist Mail 

John McKay at archy has also posted a warning on a recent spam email making the rounds. This arrival instructs readers to click some link which will whisk them away to bear witness to the capture of Osama bin Laden - "Murderous coward he is". - "God Bless America." As things would have it cowards come in a variety of styles and sizes and trades and the links location, if visited, will download a Trojan to the visitor's computer machine. (No, not the kind of Trojan your little sailor wears when visiting exotic ports of call. The other kind of Trojan.)

So go read This is just evil for additional info.

Extra details on same topic via: PRNewswire


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Good night, moon 

I've already had two beers, and I'm ready for the broom.

Please, Missus Henry, won't you take me to my room?

Yep, Both Diebold and ES&S screwed the pooch 

And in California, their machines are out.

California should ban the use of 15,000 touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems from the Nov. 2 general election, an advisory panel to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley recommended Thursday.

By an 8-0 vote, the state's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel recommended that Shelley cease the use of the machines, saying that Texas-based Diebold has performed poorly in California and its machines malfunctioned in the state's March 2 primary election, turning away many voters in San Diego County.
(via San Diego Union-Tribune from Atrios)

Indiana, too (via Bill at The Agonist):

Marion County, [Indiana] election officials met Thursday to discuss allegations that a voting-equipment company used unapproved software to handle votes in last fall's elections and later tried to cover it up.

Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler said she wouldn't have learned of the error if ES&S's local representative, Wendy Orange, hadn't informed her against the company's instructions.

Thank Heaven for whistlelowers—Diebold must be a far sicker company than ES&S, since it doesn't have any.

Sadler said county officials may decide to end their contract with ES&S or pursue other action against the company.

"Clearly the uncertified software is illegal," Sadler said Thursday. "It has ramifications long-term for our contract. It is a violation of their contract and in fact is a violation of Indiana law."
Five Indiana counties discovered in the past week that Election Systems & Software, a company contracted by 41 Indiana counties, installed a newer version of voting software that has not yet been approved by the State Election Commission.
(via San Diego Union-Tribune)

"Rule of law," and all that....

Of course, the Republicans have probably built a very robust, redundant system to steal the 2004 election, if necessary. Remember that the Florida vote was only close because Jebbie had already disenfranchised thousands of likely Democratic voters. Still, the taste of victory....

The photos Bush doesn't want you to see 

Here (try later, when the server load isn't so bad) at the memory hole:

A Web site published dozens of photographs of American war dead arriving at the nation's largest military mortuary, prompting the Pentagon to order an information clampdown Thursday.

The photographs were released last week to First Amendment activist Russ Kick, who had filed a Freedom of Information Act request to receive the images. Air Force officials initially denied the request but decided to release the photos after Kick appealed their decision.

After Kick posted more than 350 photographs on his Web site, the Defense Department barred the further release of the photographs to media outlets.
(via AP)

The Bush regime fired Tami Silicio for one photo—here's 361 (not 350).

The Pentagon cites "privacy concerns" for not showing photos of the coffins that come into Dover Air Force base from Iraq. What, the names are on the coffins? Somehow, I think they have other issues on their minds.

Oh, and here's one of the 361.

Bush lied, soldiers died. Often, what's obscene is not what you show, but what you hide.

UPDATE Alert reader Justin gives us the mirror.

Have A Happy Day, Earth 

Yes, it's that day again: Le Jour Du Terre.

Jimm, of the excellent blog, Project For A New Century Of Freedom, whose excellent epigraph is "Raising The Twin Towers of Reason and Compassion," has this equally heartening post on "Making Global Warning Personal."

Someone you can always trust to bring you down on the subject of the environment is Gregg Easterbrook, the man who has chosen, as perhaps the central task of his life, to protect the environment from environmentalists. Apparently, one John Stossel isn't enough. Easterbrook & Stossel, almost has a Dickensian ring. I'm glad it's almost; neither are worthy of Dickens. But surely together or separately, they are what the bad fairy promised the earth at its long-ago christening. Easterbrook's Earth Day contribution does not disappoint; its guaranteed to bring you down, by pouring yet more fuel on your outrage overload.

I don't need to lead you through the thickets of distortion, deceit, and self-puffery here. Easterbrook stands alone, the single purveyer of truth and integrity; the left and the Democratic party dissemble constantly about the huge strides they're responsible for making, which extends even to some sort of pathological inability to give the Bush administration the credit it deserves for its own flinty integrity on environmental issues, and the Republicans and conservatives are their own worst enemy, often making record on the environment seem worse than it is.

Here are the two examples of the latter Easterbrook presents for our consideration:

James Watts's bizarre anti-environment crusade of the 1980s made Republicans sound deranged on these issues. Newt Gingrich's bizarre anti-EPA crusade of the 1990s made Republicans sound unhinged on these issues. (Gingrich also bizarrely crusaded against the Clean Water Act; is there one single voter in America who doesn't want clean water?) Tom DeLay's bizarre anti-EPA statements of the present day make Republicans sound possessed on these issues. Bush's 2001 statements dismissing global warming as a concern made him sound callous and poorly informed. Republicans are supposed to be political pros, yet they consistently do a terrible job on environmental communication, almost begging to be denounced by the media and misunderstood by voters.

I leave it to you whose perceptions here are best described as "bizarre" or "deranged."

In the world according to Easterbrook, conservatives play politics with the environment and end up hurting only themselves; environmentalists, the left, and the Democratic Party play politics with that issue, and they hurt all of us, the environment itself, and the whole wide world. And who could be more despicable in this regard than the despicable Senator from Mass., no, not that one, the Junior Senator, who made the mistake of claiming in a recent speech that we were in danger, because of this administration, of handing onto our children a world environment in worse shape than the one in which we found it.

This, like the "current Democratic and media claims that there is some kind of super-sinister campaign in progress to undo environment protection," Easterbrook pronounces to be "preposterous." His proof, an extended discussion of examples of all the actual improvements made in the last decades, as if such improvements mean that no new problems have been discovered, or old ones inadequately dealt with. Nothing about bio-diversity, of course, or global warming, or the state of our oceans, or the amazing acceleration in the loss of the global rain forest.

How is it that this guy is not laughed or booed off the public stage? How is it that George Bush is our President? How is it that Al Gore isn't?

In part, it's because George W. Bush, for all his shortcomings, which are, after all, straightforward, easy to understand and all the more charming for that, is someone our SCLM can respect, whereas Al Gore just isn't.

And maybe you can pick up a clue why not by visiting this website, which keeps track of how our once Vice-President is spending some of his time these days. Silly guy, he, too, seems somewhat concerned about the environment.

Give me a break! Give us all a break, and just once, let an Easterbrook get some small fraction of the disrespect he's rightfully earned. And just in case you think Easterbrook is unaware that there are arguments against his positions not so easy to label "preposterous," watch him duck and cover by actually listing them.

So happy Earth Day. Except for greenhouse gases, today the environment in the Western nations is in the best condition it's been in since the industrial era began. (The environment of the developing world is a different story.) The Earth is doing just fine. The debate about the Earth, on the other hand, exhibits degradation, depletion, and endangerment.

Before you decide whether Easterbrook gets credit for helping the earth towards its greater health today, or he is describing himself in that last sentence, one more observation from another of his posts. This one is about Alaska. Easterbrook opposes drilling in Anwar, but thinks the North Slope pipeline used for natural gas is another matter. He may be right. Kerry has a similar position, but for reasons that remain opaque to me, Easterbrook doesn't take heart. Kerry's still problematic, or maybe it's just that he has political problems because he's got all those PC Democrats loons to deal with. Go figure. (And if you figure out what his point is, let us know)

What caught my eye in this discussion was this construction:

Alaskans by and large can't abide that they coexist with wild nature more than any other modern Americans, then are lectured by wealthy enviros who live in doorman buildings on the Upper East Side.

Aside from this being an observation about as fresh as a petrified fish, it reminded me of another group of hearty outdoor men and women who once voiced the same feelings towards environmentalists. I have friends and family in the Boston area, and several decades ago, I worked on a project there involving the rural poor, which is where I got to know a community of professional fishermen who worked the waters off Cape Cod, and who identified Park Ave. environmentalists as the reason their fishing boats were limited in hours on the water and the catch taken from the sea.

I'd pay big bucks to get Easterbrook in a room with some of these boat owners today to talk about the environment. It would be easy to arrange, because the fishermen have lots of time on their hands. You see, even with all the attempts to find the ecological tipping point, the waters are fished out. Or maybe the fish are all being home schooled these days, and they'll be back. No one is quite sure. But you can find more than a few of these fishermen who'll tell you they wish the government had insisted on earlier and more stringent conservation efforts than the ones that ultimately failed. And it wasn't Park Avenue denizens of doorman buildings, or Greg Easterbrook either, who were the ones who got hurt.

If you're interested in just how wrong-headed progressives can get in their preposterous criticism of Bush on the environment, today's Progress Report has some excellent examples in a post called "Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels."

UPDATE Thanks to alert reader Beth.


So far.

And it's coming out the day after Bush and Cheney "visit" with the 9/11 Commision—that is, on April 30. I wonder how it will rank then?

Planning for the RNC convention in New York 

A nice piece from the Guardian here. Say, why don't I ever see material like this in the World's Greatest Newspaper (not!), the New York Times? Someone asleep at the wheel over there? Anyhow:

The Counter Convention organisers do not tolerate incitements to violence on the site. They are more interested in providing information on coming events and on how to print stickers.

In January, they had a brush with authority that indicates how important the politics of cyberspace have become.

"The secret service rang us up, but we refused to talk to them, except through lawyers, and nothing seems to have come of any investigation," says Etundi.

And, of course, agent provacateurs are already at work.

A day earlier, an unknown blogger had put a posting on their discussion board mentioning the idea of bringing a firearm along to the protest.

The item, along with subsequent posts, such as a "picture of poop", was taken off, but Etundi is convinced that it was the result of a rightwing conspiracy, as an inflammatory article appeared within hours on a Republican-supporting news website.

They now moderate every single post before publication. Emails attacking the site are still sent on a daily basis, he says.

Let's just hope it was a volunteer, as opposed to a paid Republican operative or mercenary,

The team has pulled off one significant victory: "Republican convention", or any other close variation, into the Google search box, and they are top of the results list.


Portrait of Deibold executive not getting it. 

As Monty Python asks: "Are you [sound effect] embarrassed easily?" Apparently Diebold Election Services President Bob Urosevich isn't.

It is an uncommon day when the nation's second-largest provider of voting systems concedes that its flagship products in California have significant security flaws and that [Diebold]supplied hundreds of poorly designed electronic-voting devices that disenfranchised voters in the March presidential primary.

Diebold Election Services Inc. president Bob Urosevich admitted this and more, and apologized "for any embarrassment."

"We were caught. We apologize for that," Urosevich said
of the mass failures of devices needed to call up digital ballots. Poll-workers in Alameda and San Diego counties hadn't been trained on ways around their failure, and San Diego County chose not to supply polls with backup paper ballots, crippling the largest rollout of e-voting in the nation on March 2. Unknown thousands of voters were turned away at the polls.

"We're sorry for the inconvenience of the voters," Urosevich said.

"Weren't they actually disenfranchised?" asked Tony Miller, chief counsel to the state's elections division.

After a moment, Urosevich agreed: "Yes, sir."

Currently, electronic machines offer no independent vote record to recount, rendering recounts useless.

Weeks after Diebold Election Systems Inc. vowed a "new day" of operating excellence in California, the nation's second largest voting systems firm asked state approval for 10 mostly untested changes to its voting software.

Its latest requests were less than a month before the Super Tuesday presidential primary, prompting state officials to demand a backup voting plan for four counties where Diebold had installed its untested, unapproved TSx voting system, which sold for $40 million the previous summer.

Undersecretary of State Mark Kyle blasted Diebold Elections president Bob Urosevich over Diebold's two-page proposal for more than a million hand-counted paper ballots.

"It is apparent from your responses that no such backup plan has been created and that you continue to 'fly by the seat of your pants,'" Kyle wrote on Feb. 8. "In view of the chaos your company has caused, we expected that your company would 'step up to the plate' with an aggressive backup plan. Your failure to do so raises grave questions about your suitability as a voting systems vendor."

Diebold was not the only vendor to seek last-minute changes to its software. Every vendor selling e-voting systems in the state asked for changes in the two months before the March primary.
(via Tri-Valley Herald

Diebold sounds like a lousy, lousy, software vendor. Of course, "lousy for who" is always a question, with anything the Republicans do....

Woman who took picture of flag-draped Iraq coffin fired, at the demand of the military 

Why does the Bush administration hate freedom?

A cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins bearing the remains of U.S. soldiers was published on a newspaper's front page was fired by the military contractor that employed her.

Tami Silicio, 50, was fired Wednesday by Maytag Aircraft Corp. after military officials raised "very specific concerns" related to the photograph, said William L. Silva, Maytag president. The photo was taken in Kuwait.
(via AP)

Here's the photo Bush doesn't want you to see. I wonder why?

Here's the contact information for Mercury Air Group, the owner of Maytag. Feel free let them know how you feel about a company firing an employee for taking a picture that our free press prints.

And here's their phone number: 310-827-2737 and fax: Fax: 310-827-6528. Hey, maybe someone from Air American can call them, and find out what they have to say about this. ...

RNC/CPA techies loot code for their site from the Brookings Institute 

Heh heh heh. From Josh Marshall.

And that's not the only looting going on at RNC/CPA... From the mind-bogglingly egregious to the petty, the institution is rotten to the core.

Rumsfeld's Mantelpiece 

by MJS

There upon the mantel
Lies the dust of the war dead
Mingling in a golden light
That shines inside my head

I wonder, just like Shakespeare
Where all japes and jests must flow?
I wonder for a second,
Then I pick them up and go

I am The Donald Rumsfeld
God of War and Loot
I reach into disorder
And stash it in my boot

Hey - life is messy, so messy and unkind
I like to think I clean it up
With each bone-chip I find

All hail The Donald Rumsfelds
All hail The Gods of War
Invite them to your house, my friend
But frisk them at the door
Always frisk them at the door...

There upon the mantel
Lies the dust of the war dead
Mingling in a golden light
That shines inside my head

Lyrics: MJS
Illustration: farmtoons
musical inspiration: "Mr. Bad Example", by Warren Zevon

Made possible by a generous contribution from
Mustard Gas Turkee Farm Amber Keepsakes International
(A division of Martin Marietta)

NOTE For more about Rummy looting the 9/11 site for souvenirs, see back here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Pounding on all this war news is hard work. In a way, it's just the same as after Bush hung up the Mission Accomplished banner—Republicans put forward an image, and we responded with FACTS: Back then, it was enough to list the casulties to give the lie to the image. But now the stakes are higher, the game is more complicated, and the facts are harder to gather and less easy to fit into the big picture....

Still, since we have both the facts and right on our side, we should win, eh?

And readers! If you live in Philly, one of America's great papers is on the stands now: The Independent. Its site is here, but a web "presence" is so thin compared to the expansive broadsheet—"Too big to read on the subway." Heck, what good are trees if you can't print newspapers with them? Definitely authentic Philly.

Iraq: A new wall in the making 


(Via The Agonist.)

Anti-immigrant loons fail in attempted takeover of Sierra Club 

That would be, The Sierra Club and its $100 million budget.

Sierra Club leaders have beaten back an effort by anti-immigration forces to gain control of the nation's largest and most influential environmental group.

In elections for the Sierra Club's 15-member board of directors, candidates picked by the leadership won all five open seats in a landslide, according to vote tallies released Wednesday, several hours after voting closed. The bitterly contested election had been conducted by mail and online since March 1.

"It's a stunning rejection of the anti-immigration forces," said Adam Werbach, the club's president from 1996 to 1998. "I think people realized that there's no role for racism or anti-immigrant feelings in the environmental movement."
(via AP)

America, there's good news tonight!

Yes, a Texas-sized thank you 

Words fail me.

President Bush on Wednesday rejected international condemnation of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and said world leaders owed him a "thank you" for his plans for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
(via AP)

Words still fail me. Readers?

Mighty generous, if you ask me! 

The Republicans support the troops....

The House voted unanimously Wednesday to let financially pinched National Guard and Reserve troops tap into retirement savings without penalty, although some Democrats called the effort to support the troops "pathetic" and "rather pitiful."
(via AP)

So, what words other than "pitiful" and "pathetic" should be used?

Homage to Catatonia 

Orwell's heir Christopher Hitchens reports from liberated Iraq:

"I mean all the difference in the world, there were smartly uniformed, well organized policemen directing traffic," he said. "At dinner there were eight different kinds of lamb and five different kinds of scotch."
(via The Standard-Journal)

So this is Hitchens' new notion of freedom: Cops and plenty of booze. Not exactly "from each according to abilities," but then again, 9/11 changed everything, as we know.

Science for Republicans: Minnie has two mommies 


Kerry smear page 


Gee, there are a lot of Republican smears already! $170 million buys a lot, and most bottom feeders come cheap, as we learned during the winger assault on Clinton.

Iraq insurgency: Reports from Fallujah 

Via Lies.com (cute name), and The Nation.

Another report: We targetted ambulances in Fallujah, at least that's what the report says the Iraqi minister of health says.

I sure hope that's not true. That won't play well on TV. Winning hearts and minds, and all that...

Iraq insurgency: Another blast, this one in Najaf as two-day truce ends 

A Bulgarian news agency, but what the heck:

A powerful explosion hit the southern part of the Iraqi holy city of Najaf near the camp of El Salvador troops, according to reports.

No casualties or damages have been reported so far, ITAR-TASS says.

The news broke as the two-day truce in Naja declared by the rebel Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Sunday.
(via Sofia News Agency)

And, of course, fighting began in Fallujah again. Guess they didn't turn in those "heavy weapons" after all.

Iraq War: Bush shows leadership by being scared to put a price tag on the war in an election war 

I guess Der Furor (back, heh) doesn't want to stir people up. Or maybe he doesn't give two shits about Congress's constitionally mandated powers of the purse. Hey, whatever!

On Capitol Hill, two leading lawmakers urged the Bush administration to present Congress with projected price tag of Iraq operations next year, a politically delicate step the White House has said it does not intend to take in an election year.

"They haven't asked for one single penny for next year for Afghanistan and Iraq," said Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. "Give me a break. Give me a break!"

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said he smelled election-year politics.

"The administration would be well served here to come forward now, be honest about this, because the continuity and the confidence in this policy is going to be required to sustain it," Hagel said. "And that means be honest with the Congress, be honest with the American people.

"Every ground squirrel in this country knows that it's going to be $50 billion to $75 billion in additional money required to sustain us in Iraq for this year."
(via AP)


Well, maybe the administration isn't made up of ground squirrels, Chuck. Let's be reasonable!

Maybe they're flying squirrels. But in that case, which one is Rocky? And which one is Bulwinkle? Natasha? Boris Badenov?

Iraq war: Poland to follow Spain? 

Seems like Bush scolding the Spanish Prime Minister for following through on his election promise—What? He took that stuff seriously?—didn't improve matters much.

Poland's outgoing prime minister said Wednesday that Spain's withdrawal of troops from Iraq could not be ignored, a first hint that Poland may be having doubts about its mission there.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that Spain and others are leaving Iraq," Prime Minister Leszek Miller told the Polish news agency PAP.

"We will not make any rash gestures," he said. "The final decision about the pullout will be agreed and thought over, but the problem exists."
(via AP)

Another triumph for Bush diplomacy!

UPDATE Looks like the horse's head got left in incoming Polish Prime Minister's bed, however. And Berlusconi is staying the course, despite the wishes of the Italian people.

UPDATE The Ukraine is getting restive:

- Ukraine, a leading contributor of troops in Iraq, said it wants members of the U.S.-led coalition to have more influence in decisions on nonmilitary issues.
(via AP)

Translation: They want some contracts, too.

UPDATE But the Dominican Republic followed joined Spain and Honduras out the door yesterday (AP).

Sure, these are smallish contributions from smaller countries, but the numbers count just as much now as when Bush was pumping up the size of the "coalition of the willing" when going to war, don't they?

Iraq war: A two-fer from Rummy: Revisionist history and Orwellian language! 

And, oh yeah, Bush gave the Saudis "a two-month heads-up that President Bush had decided to invade Iraq." At least the press is starting to report this stuff. The whores have turned, it seems:

The Pentagon deleted from a public transcript a statement Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made to author Bob Woodward suggesting that the administration gave Saudi Arabia a two-month heads-up that President Bush had decided to invade Iraq.

At issue was a passage in Woodward's "Plan of Attack," an account published this week of Bush's decision making about the war, quoting Rumsfeld as telling Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, in January 2003 that he could "take that to the bank" that the invasion would happen.

The comment came in a key moment in the run-up to the war, when Rumsfeld and other officials were briefing Bandar on a military plan to attack and invade Iraq, and pointing to a top-secret map that showed how the war plan would unfold. The book reports that the meeting with Bandar was held on Jan. 11, 2003, in Vice President Cheney's West Wing office. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attended.

Pentagon officials omitted the discussion of the meeting from a transcript of the Woodward interview that they posted on the Defense Department's Web site Monday. Rumsfeld told reporters at a briefing yesterday that he may have used the phrase "take that to the bank" but that no final decision had been made to go to war.
(via WaPo)

Hmmm.... Does "take it to the bank" imply a final decision? Certainly the fundamentalist Promise Keepers think so. Heh.

But Rummy, like everyone else in the maladministration, lives in a world like Humpty Dumpy in Alice in Wonderland: "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." "The question is", said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is", said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."


Iraq insurgency: Bombs in Basra, nothing from Fallujah 

More proof that we're winning:

BASRA, Iraq (AP) - Wednesday's explosions tore into three police stations in Basra and the academy in the suburb of Zubair nearly simultanously after 7 a.m., as many residents were headed to markets, jobs or school. An hour later, another blast targeted the same police academy.

Forty-five people were killed [among them, children] in the station blasts and 10 were killed in the police academy explosions, officials and witnesses said. At least 238 people were wounded.

Meanwhile, an agreement aimed at bringing peace to Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, met troubles only a day after its implementation began. A heavy battle broke out Wednesday morning on the city's north side, where up to 40 insurgents attacked Marine positions, commanders said. Nine insurgents were killed, and three Marines were wounded, a spokesman said.

As of noon, no guerrillas had turned in any heavy weapons, the most crucial tenet of the agreement in U.S. eyes, said Marine Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne. The U.S. military has warned it may resume its assault on Fallujah if the agreement falls through.
(via AP)

UPDATE And now bombs in Riyadh.

God Love That FreewayBlogger (All Possible Gods, That Is) 

We have received a communication from that elusive Scarlet known as Pimpernel, explaining the origin of his/her latest addition to our public, writ large, discourse:

I was up the other night painting signs that said "Impeach" to put on the freeways, as is my patriotic duty, when I noticed two of them fallen together to make the word "Chimpeach". After laughing a bit, I wondered if I was the first to come up with it, and if it's promotion would ultimately help or hinder the fight against the Unelected One. Then I thought what the hell, painted it in three foot tall letters and stuck it over the Santa Monica Freeway. You can see it here:

And with a click of your mouse, so can you.

Scarlet P adds that a Goggle search for Chimpeach produced a reference at a non-freeway blog; someone got there first, but surely "P" is the first to blog the word on a FreewayBlog. I'll quote the final words of the Scarlet's message because they are so cheering:

I think we can do better than that. (only two websites) Bumperstickermakers: Go Wild.

Looking Forward to Sweet Victory in November,

And so should we all.

Brainless in Casa Blanco  

Pansypoo Reports; Jokes from the Underground:

Modern Medicine! (posted by "nedlogg")

An Israeli doctor says "Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man, put it in another, and have him looking for work in six weeks."

A German doctor says "That is nothing, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks."

A Russian doctor says "In my country, medicine is so advanced that we can take half a heart out of one person, put it in another, and have them both looking for work in two weeks."

The Texas doctor, not to be outdone, says "You guys are way behind, we recently took a man with no brain out of Texas, put him in the White House, and now half the country is looking for work."

Legacy! Ya can lead a brainless horse's ass to water but ya can't teach it how to tap a spigot "placed in the bunghole of a cask". (that's what it says in the dictionary) Or something like that. It's a nuance thing. Or whatever. Please help a horse's ass with no brain or nuance spigot - find a new bunghole to tap - in Texas - in early 2005. (and I think ya know who I mean) It'd be the Christian thing to do. Y'all.


That Old Time Inferno 


Some object to the Bible because it recounts how that women and innocent children were slaughtered in the wars led by God's chosen leaders, and how can God be a just and loving God and permit such as that? The answer is that the wicked people destroyed in those wars received just punishment for their crimes and the innocent ones who died in the wars were taken home to Heaven and certainly it could be no cruel thing to take a good person or an innocent child to Heaven. It is a certainty that we must all die sometime anyway, and what is wrong in God, Who gave us life, allowing us to die in a conflict such as the cruel wars mentioned in the Bible? ~ Rev. Ben M. Bogard / editor of the Baptist and Commoner, Antioch Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, circa 1930.

There ya have it. History's zombies hissing at us - again. A holy-rollin' Bible thumpin' free fire zone blessing. A vortex of rabid religious apocalyptic glory. A fuzzy-think worldwide-fundamentalist religious errand in the global wilderness mission statement. A fanciful battle plan for Dominion on behalf of a Kingdom of endtimer idiots worldwide. And all of us are just so much kindling for the hellfire furnace maw.

While I'm at it; more posthumous pearls of wisdom from the celebrated prophet of 100% God-fearin' patriotic Christian Americanistan (Americanus moronicus) circa 1930 - the Rev. Ben M. Bogard:

If the worst comes to the worst, we had better let our children suffer from disease and even die from neglect than to instill into their impressionable hearts the idea that the Bible is false.

Sound familiar?
Uh huh...yeah well, while we're at it, some idear's for impressionable minds:

Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion -- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven… The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste." ~ Mark Twain, The Lowest Animal essay, 1897


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

How can Bush say that his enemies have no souls? 

I've been thinking about this one all day, and the more I think about it, the stranger it gets. From a WhiteWash House transcript via WhoPundit via Atrios. WhoPundit makes a joke about it, but I think it's remarkable and deadly serious:

[BUSH] We must continue to stay on the offense when it comes to chasing these killers down and bringing them to justice -- and we will. We've got to be strong and resolute and determined. We will never show weakness in the face of these people who have no soul, who have no conscience, who care less about the life of a man or a woman or a child. We've got to do everything we can here at home. And there's no doubt in my mind that, with the Almighty's blessings and hard work, that we will succeed in our mission. [end quote]

There's a lot of remarkable material here.

To begin with, it's a campaign speech; here, we have a candidate openly and explicitly running for President on the basis of his religious views; indeed, because he was sent to do the work of the Almighty. This is mind-boggling. When John Mitchell—of blessed memory; how I wish we had a President like Nixon today—said "the country is going so far to the right that you won't recognize it," he was correct, but I don't think anyone could have imagined, well, the airplane of "Christian" fundamentalism flying into the building of the Republic. FTF, indeed.

Then, all the talk about "killers" is a classic case of winger projection, since if there's one thing we do know about Bush, it's that he himself has discovered a taste for killing. Over the top? Look at the evidence, and think (back). But that's not what's remarkable.

The most remarkable statement of all is that "these people have no soul." Here again, let's take the Republicans at their word; let's accept that when Bush says this, he means it.

Even at my most snarky, it never occured to me to say that Bush had no soul. When I listened, finally, to the audio of his press conference last night (back) my bottom line was that Bush was much like Shakespeare's Macbeth in his moral predicament, and also in the evil that he did. (The lies are the tip-off: Bush is a fully paid up member of the POTL.) In fact, I came away feeling the tragic emotions of pity and terror: Pity for the pain I could hear in Bush's voice, which I felt did come from his soul; and terror for what he was doing to himself, the country, and the world.

What kind of person has the worldview that there are beings, clothed in human form, who walk the earth yet have no souls?

Can someone with more knowledge of theology than I have answer this question?

So far as I know, even demons and devils have souls (though evil ones). Vampires don't have souls, but I think a Christian would regard vampires as fictional. Animals might be considered to have no souls.

Remember that Bush believes that "you're either with us or against us." Do all who oppose Bush have no souls? Are all who oppose like vampires or animals? If we talk Bush at his word, must we believe he believes this? Am I alone in seeing the obvious connection to eliminationist rhetoric?

Can someone more versed in Protestant and Fundamentalist theology than I am help me out here? Is this idea even Christian? Where does it come from? What on earth is going on?

As you all can see, I found this statement by Bush deeply disturbing. Help!

No "Goodnight, moon" after this, I am afraid.

UPDATE Some readers have said that perhaps Bush is using the word "soul" carelessly. Here it is again:

"If you don't have the aspirations of the people firmly embedded in your soul, it's hard to take a gamble for peace," Bush said.
(via Reuters)

So, I think we have to take Bush at his word. When he says his enemies have no soul, that is what he means. Eeesh.

Gay marriage legalized in Oregon 

Good for them.

A judge told Multnomah County to stop issuing gay marriage licenses Tuesday, but he handed gay couples a historic victory by ordering Oregon to recognize the 3,000 licenses already granted in the county.

[Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank Bearden] told the county to cease issuing same-sex licenses until the Oregon Legislature has a chance to fashion a new law, perhaps allowing Vermont-style civil unions.

He gave the Oregon Legislature 90 days from the start of its next session to come up with the new law. If that doesn't happen, Multnomah County can resume issuing marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.
(via AP)

I wonder how long before the wingers take the law into their own hands on this one? I'd hate to see Frank Bearden become the next Barnett Slepian.


Can Ben Nelson learn from the example of Max Cleland? 

Max Cleland voted with the Republicans on tax cuts, and then the Republicans ran ads that called him a traitor—when he became a triple amputee in service to his country. So what on earth is Ben Nelson thinking?

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said in an interview Tuesday that he might support a GOP-written $2.4 trillion budget for next year containing compromise restrictions on future tax cuts. His vote, should he provide it, could be decisive because some moderate Republicans in the narrowly divided Senate are expected to oppose the plan.
(via AP)

And he's going to screw over the moderate Republicans if he does... Unbelievable.

Here's Nelson's email page.

SCLM, heal thyself 

AP "reports" the resignation, in disgrace, of USA Today editor Karen Jurgensen over faked stories by reporter Jack Kelley—without, somehow, ever mentioning that Kelley got a free pass on implausible stories for so long because he was a SIC. (The ever essential Atrios made the connection for us.)

You know, I can think of other cases where people's very strongly held beliefs lead them to, well, "tell stories." Readers?

Kerry On Meet The Press, Kerry On Meet The Press,

I thought he did well, minus his comments on Bush/Sharon/Israel (more to come on this admittedly big one). I thought the media whores would have a hard time dissing Kerry's performance, especially compared with the President's solo hour with Tim.

Silly me. If there is one circumstance can prod one of those sedentary Washington heathers to put out a concerted effort, it's an opportunity to dis a Dem. (see post immediately below)

So, it was with some relief that I started to pick up approving notices from around blogovia. Here's Pandagon, and check out the comments.

Then again, what the hell do we know? We're only ordinary citizens, and voters. We're among those throngs of the wrong-headed who actually enjoyed those long Clinton SOTUs, the idea of the President addressing we, the people, at such length and specificity, to the angry frustration of the impatient, easily bored Commentariat.

Last night on MSNBC, on Keith Olberman's Countdown, I saw something that years of exposure to the unseriousness of our major media did not prepare me for. I hesitated posting about it, but now I see that you can see the tape yourself on the Countdown website and judge for yourselves what the point was, besides making Kerry look like an ass.

Here's the piece as transcribed.

OLBERMANN: If you go, by the way, to COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com, you can read excerpts of Bob Woodward‘s book, “Plan of Attack.”

And this programming note: Chris Matthews, special guest Wednesday night on “HARDBALL”: Bob Woodward. Be there, aloha.

And one more thing before we leave the No. 5 story: Politics and presidents. It‘s all been Mr. Bush so far tonight, to be fair, something about Senator Kerry. If you missed him on “Meet the Press” yesterday, we have boiled down his 60 minutes with Tim Russert to the most important 45 seconds. Well the most important 45 seconds based on the news judgment of a show that‘s obsessed with numbers, like ours.


TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”: Senator Kerry, welcome.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Glad to be here. Thank you, Tim.

First of all, No. 1...No. 2...No. 1...No. 2, then No. 3, we need a president who understands No. 4. Guess what, Tim? Eight million...ten million.

Guess what, Tim? Eleven million.

RUSSERT: Senator...

KERRY: Let me just finish...think of the year 2000...2004...the year 2020...2029...I think we can do better...2037.

Let me be very clear to you. You and I earn a lot of money.

$6 trillion in the last six-five-four years, that‘s what you said, but that said, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4...and here‘s the bottom line: No. 1.


OLBERMANN: And that‘s 30 for today. Thus the fifth story, Woodward and Bush, Kerry and the COUNTDOWN‘s completed. Yes, we will show that again later in the show.

And he did. To see it yourself, click here, and then scroll down and click on the "Launch".

Let me know if there is something there I'm missing.

About Those Polls 

To piggyback on Lambert's post below, everyone should take a deep breath, sit back, relax, and then start to think, preferably with clarity.

FACT: Two influential current polls, sponsored by major media players, CNN-Gallup, Washington Post/ABC released yesterday show improvement in the President's poll numbers against Kerry, interpreted by the polls as slippage for Kerry, this after two weeks of what one would assume to have been incredibly bad news for the current administration.

I won't repeat what Kos and Marshall have to say, but go read them, including the bit about the Zogby poll's rather different results. (links here).

No one can be entirely sure what the polls really mean; much of the result can be the result of statistical drift, as well as what questions are asked. Billmon, who, thankfully, has reopened the Whiskey Bar, has some fun juxtaposing (in his hands a technique that is fast becoming an art form) a few of the self-cancelling internal contradictions to be found among the answers to some of the WaPo poll questions:

Q: Please tell me whether the following statement applies to George W. Bush or not: He is honest and trustworthy.
Yes: 55%
No: 44%
Don't Know: 1%

Q:Please tell me whether the following statement applies to George W. Bush or not: He's always truthful in explaining his policies.

Yes: 46%
No: 53%
Don't Know: 2%

Check out Billmon's personal favorite here.

And you can enlighten yourself on the structure of polls by checking out the internals of the WaPo/ABC poll for yourself, question by question, here.

FACT: Such polls do have an impact on opinion makers, who can influence public perceptions of Bush's strengths, and Kerry's weaknesses.

FACT: Whatever the reality behind these polls, already we see the Washington establishment ramping up to interpret the results as a decided minus for Kerry.

BLITZER: How the Clinton the Bush White House handled warnings of al Qaeda activity prior to the 9/11 attacks. How President Bush is doing on the job. These are questions all asked in a brand new CNN/"USA TODAY"/Gallup poll. Here to look at the numbers as he always does, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. Take a look at the first number. A head to head match-up between the president and John Kerry look at this, Bush 51 percent, John Kerry 46 percent.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's remarkable given the fact the last few weeks have been bad weeks for the president. There's been losses in Iraq, 9/11 Commission revelations, gasoline prices, what many regarded as an unconvincing performance in the president's prime time press conference. What Americans seem to be doing is rallying to the president in the time of international crisis. His ratings went up. That lead is a little higher than it was couple of weeks ago, because Americans instinctively support the president. You mention troops in Iraq, support for sending more troops in Iraq has actually gone up.

BLITZER: Clearly this is the first major poll done since his nationally televised news conference. Who is doing a better job, who would do a better job as far as handling Iraq is concerned. Bush 55 percent, Kerry 41 percent. What do you make of this? SCHNEIDER: Despite the losses, what Americans think two words, bush in Iraq, they remember something the United States won. They went in with overwhelming force, they got rid of Saddam Hussein regime and Saddam Hussein is now in captivity. So, the view is if you want someone that can handling a situation like that, a man of strength and decisiveness and resolve, Bush is your man.

BLITZER: Now as far as handling terrorism, similar result, even better for the president. Would do a good job handling terrorism, yes, Bush 64 percent, 43 percent for Kerry. That's more than a 20 point slip.

SCHNEIDER: It's a huge advantage for Bush, and this is the issue he wants to run on. He said this election will be on the following question, which one of us can better win the war on terror?

He said that because it's his strong suit.

BLITZER: All right, there's a weak suit he has as well. That's the economy. Look at this. Would do a good job handling the economy, 49 percent say the president, a 55 percent give a better mark to John Kerry.

SCHNEIDER: This is his weak issue. The Democrats would like to make a referendum on the economy. They are hoping it would be like '92 was for father. Remember the economy (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the referendum no the economy. But there's a difference, the difference is 9/11. And for the reasons we just saw, the president's determined not to let this simply be a referendum on the economy, and the figures show why.

All that's missing are the pompom girls. Note the talking point about Democrats/Kerry wanting to run only on the "economy," you'll hear it often in the coming weeks. It makes it seem as if there are no real arguments to be mounted against the Bush administrations handling of foreign policy, post 9/11.

Those facts notwithstanding, the worst thing any of us who want to see Kerry elected the next president is to let ourselves be influenced by the spin around these polls.

I think Kos is right to point out that Kerry has been spending his time raising money and done one hell of a job, but he's been an absent presence, while Bush, during the last two weeks, has spent less time campaigning, more time in a Presidential mode, even if that's meant explaining why his foreign policy is such a mess.

UNHAPPY FACT AND MAJOR KERRY CHALLENGE: Foreign policy almost always rebounds to the advantage of an incumbent, even when things are going wrong. Lambert's exactly right about the subject most in need of addressing is how we, bloggers, readers, activists, radio hosts, any and all of us who are determined to end the Bush Presidency next November rather than four Novembers from then, can help Kerry and the Democrats meet this challenge. My contribution, coming soon, a discussion of how we can change Kerry's mind about the position he's thus far etched out on the Bush administration's too tight embrace of Sharon's policy of "withdrawal - not."

UNHAPPY FACT AND MAJOR KERRY CHALLENGE: It's becoming increasingly clear courtesty of Bob Somerby, that the Washington "heathers" don't like Kerry in the same way they didn't like Al Gore. Examples are everywhere. Here's a snippet from Lou Dobbs CNN show yesterday, Roger Simon, Karen Tumilty, and Ron Brownsein doing the color commentary.

DOBBS: Well, last week, we were able to talk here about how well or not so well the president did in his press conference. We now have that opportunity to discuss Senator Kerry on "Meet the Press." Is "Meet the Press" a forum that is losing its -- well, its attractiveness for candidates? How do you think Senator Kerry did, Roger?

SIMON: I think he had mixed results. I think "Meet the Press" continues to be one of those rites of passage that candidates have to -- candidates and incumbent presidents have to appear on if they want to be elected or reelected.

I thought Kerry did fine when he was attacking George Bush. He's got that down. I think he did less than fine when he was defending his own record. I thought that the clip that Tim Russert showed of Kerry in 1971 talking about how he had committed, sort of, atrocities in Vietnam led to a very poor response by Kerry. He joked about, you know, how he had dark hair back then. And it was also a missed opportunity, as Karen said on the...

DOBBS: I'm sorry to interrupt you, Roger, we got about 15 seconds. Karen.

TUMULTY: Well, I just think he's got to come up with a better explanation on that $87 billion vote that -- the amendment that he voted against.

BROWNSTEIN: Lou, the appearance may have been most valuable as a reminder for the people that John Kerry is running for president, because it's been awful hard to tell that the last few weeks.

DOBBS: OK. Ron, Karen, Roger, thank you very much for being here.

Something of a relief that they ran out of time. The reasons for this antipithy are complicated, as are the implications, a subject I'll also address in another post, but this time we have no excuse for not being ready.

Let's all keep calm about the polls, shall we? 

So saieth Josh Marshall and Kos. So Bush's $50 million bucks (of $185 million) this month didn't buy a whole lot.

Then again, as Atrios points out, if Kerry can't show Bush's "war President" shtick for what it is, Bush's slight but measurable lead might continue all the way through election (or, Heaven forfend, "election") day.

House to house, door to door, this is the conversation we need to be having. Since, after all, we've been right so far.

UPDATE Pandagon weighs in:

So the thing we should take from these polls isn't a climb for Bush or a drop from Kerry, it's a hardened electorate registering no change. Gallup and Zogby are clearly using sampling/weighting methods leading them to different numbers, one favoring Bush and one favoring Kerry, and since both are respected firms with reasonable track records the only thing to do is look at the trend lines. Of which there aren't any. Which that Bush's press conference did him absolutely no good and the edlectorate is exactly as divided as before it. Shock! Awe! Peculiar!

Definitely, we need more bake sales (immediately below), and no, I'm not being ironic

The MoveOn bake sales on the weekend—How did they go? 

Back here.

Readers? Any reports from the field?

UPDATE Alert reader Phillip comments from New York :

i believe [there were] something like 30 sales in the city total.

i really think the value of the sales was in having people on the streets talking to their neighbors, passersby, the curious, kids, grandmas, everyone. i really think move on should do this every month from now until november. so should kerry.

What Phillip said.

MORE UPDATES: From alert reader "BudMan," this moving eye witness account from Colorado:

Dateline Colorado Springs - From deep in the heart of enemy territory (1 elected Dem in the whole county) we had a great turnout. Plenty of goods, supporters, and money raised. Lots of thumbs up and honks of support. The most heartening, and heartbreaking, thing was the military support: 2 MP's just back from Iraq pledged to continue to support Kerry and helped staff the sale; 1 soldier just back with his wife and 3 young kids - the wife was beside herself with nerves. They hung around the event all day; And one more soldier who is waiting to ship out, and knows it's a "clusterfuck of major proportions."
(his quote)

And this is something the polls can't pick up: the determination of all of us to make a difference, the large number of military and conservatives who are slowly changing their minds, and the weakness of support for Bush. We had 1 person come to our booth claiming to be Republican, and criticizing our effort. HA, I LAUGH IN THEIR FACES!

Thanks to all the readers who left reports in comments; any reader who attended any sale and hasn't yet left a description, again we invite you to.
Thanks BudMan.

Rapture Index closes down 1 on earthquakes 


"The earthquake in Bam is causing Iran to be inwardly focused on its own domestic affairs." Oh?

UPDATE And apparently 33% of Republican voters belief this nonsense. What is to be done?

Iraq: Yes, the "10:00AM alarm story" is a doozy. "Clusterfuck", anyone? 

Go read. Makes the RNC/CPA effort look like amateur hour that it is.

More in a bit.


But according to a closely held Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) memo written in early March, the reality isn't so rosy. Iraq's chances of seeing democracy succeed, according to the memo's author -- a U.S. government official detailed to the CPA, who wrote this summation of observations he'd made in the field for a senior CPA director -- have been severely imperiled by a year's worth of serious errors on the part of the Pentagon and the CPA, the U.S.-led multinational agency administering Iraq. Far from facilitating democracy and security, the memo's author fears, U.S. efforts have created an environment rife with corruption and sectarianism likely to result in civil war.

Signs of the author's continuing support for the U.S. invasion and occupation are all over the memo, which was written to a superior in Baghdad and circulated among other CPA officials.

Yet the memo is gloomy in most other respects, portraying a country mired in dysfunction and corruption, overseen by a CPA that "handle(s) an issue like 6-year-olds play soccer: Someone kicks the ball and 100 people chase after it hoping to be noticed, without a care as to what happens on the field."

Hey, it works for the SCLM, so why not for the Iraqis?

In the broadest sense, according to the memo's author, the CPA's bunker-in-Baghdad mentality has contributed to the potential for civil war all over the country. "[CPA Administrator L. Paul] Bremer has encouraged re-centralization in Iraq because it is easier to control a Governing Council less than a kilometer away from the Palace, rather than 18 different provincial councils who would otherwise have budgetary authority," he says. The net effect, the memo's author continues, has been a "desperation to dominate Baghdad, and an absolutism born of regional isolation."

The memo also describes the CPA as "handicapped by [its] security bubble," and derides the U.S. government for spending "millions importing sport utility vehicles which are used exclusively to drive the kilometer and a half" between CPA and Governing Council headquarters when "we would have been much better off with a small fleet of used cars and a bicycle for every Green Zone resident."

The memo also notes that while Iraqi police "remain too fearful to enforce regulations," they are making a pretty penny as small-arms dealers, with the CPA as an unwitting partner. "CPA is ironically driving the weapons market," it reveals. "Iraqi police sell their U.S.-supplied weapons on the black market; they are promptly re-supplied. Interior ministry weapons buy-backs keep the price of arms high."

According to a Washington, DC-based senior military official whose responsibilities include Iraq, CPA now estimates there are at least 30 separate militias active in Iraq,, and "essentially [CPA] doesn't know what to do with regard to them -- which is frightening, because CPA's authority essentially ends on June 30, and any Iraqi incentive to get rid of the militias is likely to go away after that date, as sending U.S. troops around Iraq against Iraqis isn't likely to endear the new Iraqi government to its citizens."

"Baghdadis have an uneasy sense that they are heading towards civil war," it says. "Sunnis, Shias and Kurd professionals say that they themselves, friends and associates are buying weapons fearing for the future."

The memo goes on to argue that "the trigger for a civil war" is not likely to be an isolated incident of violence, but the result of "deeper conflicts that revolve around patronage and absolutism" reaching a flashpoint.

This is the background against which the uprisings and subsequent negotiations—between whom and for what, really, we can now ask&mdashl; in Falllujah and Najaf took place.

Eesh. Well, it's a messy process.

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