Saturday, June 05, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

And goodbye, Ronnie. Though I wouldn't wish Alzheimer's on my worst enemy.

Funny how Nixon, Reagan, and Bush form points on a death spiral of Constitutional government in the United States.

With Nixon, we had Watergate and the Plumber's Squad—illegal, domestic covert action in support of Nixon's election campaign.

With Reagan, we had Iran-Contra—an "off the shelf" covert action program arguably a lot worse than the Plumbers, since it was meant to circumvent Congressional oversight in matters of war and peace, and to prosecute a war that Congress had legislated against. And although Nixon was impeached for Watergate, Reagan didn't suffer for Iran-Contra at all, as an increasingly toothless Democratic party caved.

With Bush... Well, we don't even have mere episodes like "Watergate" or "Iran-Contra" anymore, since a complete lawlessness and extraconstitutional goverment-by-clusterfuck is their modus operandi, and an every day affair that doesn't even raise an eyebrow.

You might say that Nixon, in retrospect, cracked Constitutional government, Reagan drove a wedge into the crack, and Bush shattered Constitutional government entirely, ruling, in the matters He considers essential, by decree.

A sad legacy for a "conservative" movement, wouldn't you say?

Smarty Jones loses! 


So I'm coming out of the bar, and what do I hear but a woman on her cell saying "Well, it's Philadelphia...."

And it's cold, miserable, and rainy.

"Reagan Dies" 

To paraphrase Dorothy Parker: there, but for a typographical error, is the headline for practically everything that ever came out of Reagan's mouth. Republicans in general for that matter.

Speaking of which, you better lock up your parks, your airports, your stadiums, libraries, and dog pounds from now until Doomsday. None are going to be safe so long as the Reagan Zombie Cult stalks our monuments. (I would let them rename the prisons though. That would be fitting.)

Meanwhile, I give the Bush campaign 48 hours to start feasting on his corpse in its campaign ads. Any takers?

Help Pick Sean Hannity's Lie Berries! 

Sean Hannity would like you to help him reap the bounty of his fible-fable grove. Pick em, can em, and pass em out to friends, relatives, and strange weirdos loafing around in front of your local RNC recruitment outpost. For more information on this exciting charitable event, and unique farm labor opportunity, see:


Also, and ironically: Steve Young (who has taken the Hannity hay ride "challenge" in the past) , writing over at American Politics Journal detects what is possibly a stumble, or a limp, or even perhaps, a flaccid hobble - Gasp! - in Sean's otherwise precision drilled goose-step routine. Read: Sean Hannity Forced To Be Fair & Balanced... 9/11 Commission's Lehman Makes Hannity An Honest Man

So that's about all the time left in the segment. Every point Sean had argued for the past two months was countered by someone he trusted. And the best part -- the surprise -- Sean never questioned Lehman's veracity. He even (sort of) gave the commission's report his stamp of approval because of Lehman's participation and word.

So, there it is.

Sean Hannity taught us who he really is. And he wasn't afraid to show us he could be wrong, wrong, wrong. For that I've got to give it to the man.

Sad, isn't it? Sean 'Hamburger Helper' Hannity may be losing his delicate "balance". Maybe he has an ear infection or something. In any case, go help Sean harvest the fruits of his vast Right-Wing sow job, and then, while you're at it, reach out a helping hand to steady Sean, and lead him, a debouchment if you will, from the thorny tangle of truths that threaten to poke his right eye out.

Ha ha... just kidding about that last part. It'll be more funner watching him thrash about in his sticky homegrown bramble for an hour or two, as noisy blackbirds swoop down and poop on his head, and amused visitors pelt him with bushels of his own rotten vegetable produce lobbed back at him from a distant stand. Now that will make for some titilating FOXNews agriculture disaster video footage won't it? At least I think so.

In any event, Sean's Lie Berry Patch is open for bid'ness; rarin', ripe, and ready for the pluckin'. So do the neighborly thing and help Sean Hannity make a bigger plucking fool of himself than he already is. Afterall, he asked for it.


Digby Rocks 

If you haven't visited Hullabaloo lately you should drop by and read the last couple of days worth of posts. Digby's writing lately reminds me of the way Zorro used to go zip-zip-zip with his sword to carve a "Z" across the tummies of his opponents (only their garments, of course, but usually slashing their waistbands in such a manner as to cause their pants to fall down.) Dig's letter of choice is "W"--and to hell with the pants, he's going for blood.

(via Hullabaloo)
Meme Vaccine

George Tenet is not responsible for the fact that the administration's claims that Saddam's WMD and terrorist ties were bogus --- the president, vice president and secretary of defense are. George Tenet is personally responsible to the extent that he was a good little soldier instead of resigning as he should have when he realized that they were just making shit up. That particular form of integrity seems to be as out of fashion as firing people for incompetence.

Be sure and read the comments underneath. One of them is worth reprinting here. I do not know that this is true, I do not know that "sw" meant it to be believed or intended it as pure sarcasm. But if you happened to see Tenet's hail-and-farewell speech to the CIA ground troops, see if you don't have a mental "click" moment when many things, including otherwise inexplicable timing, suddenly fall into place:

Tenet has been wearing a wire for [US Attorney Peter "Plamegate"] Fitzpatrick. This is the essence of "Chicago Style" prosecution. You get the biggest fish you can find. Then you flip him to get the boss. Tenet was the biggest fish. He wore the wire. That's the way you crack the mob. Once you have the tapes, he is free to resign. Cheney and Bush better lawyer up. Oh yeah...

UPDATE: Of course if I had been paying attention I would have noticed that sw said the same thing in our own comments thread in response to Lambert's earlier link to the John Dean piece. I too must go sit in the Penance Corner now.

Fahrenheit 9/11 

Here (missed it when it came out, sorry) Can't view it myself, alas. Readers, is there anything good there?

UPDATE Apparently, it's "wicked killah." It's been awhile since I've been to Boston, but shouldn't that be "wicked pissah?" Or am I just behind the times?

Abu Ghraib torture: Bush strategy of blaming a few soldiers seems to be working 

The Fog Machine created by deliberately confused chain of command seems to be insulating the higher-ups from real responsibility; the usual Bush strategy of "plausible deniability."

So, can we forget the whole thing after a few show trials of privates and sergeants? Seems to be what's happening: Except some honest Republicans—yes, apparently they exist—are trying to keep the issue alive, as anyone who cares about Constitional government should be doing.

Disparate inquiries into abuses of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan have so far left crucial questions of policy and operations unexamined, according to lawmakers from both parties and outside military experts, who say that the accountability of senior officers and Pentagon officials may remain unanswered as a result.

Senator Lindsay O. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said he was troubled that the only criminal cases brought so far involved seven low-ranking soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company. He said he believed that there was "command failure at many levels that could be criminally culpable."

Senator Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine, said "one of the critical unanswered questions" is at the heart of General Fay's review.

"We really don't have an picture of whether this abuse was the brainchild of a small number of prison guards or whether it was something created or condoned by military intelligence officials," she said.

Representative Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican and former Air Force officer, was unsparing in her assessment of the House's investigative oversight role to date: "We should be doing this directly and bluntly, and in the House we are not. It's been very disappointing to me."

As usual, it's those who really care about the military who are appalled by the Abu Ghraib torture, unlike the chickenhawks, neo-cons, and Republican operatives generally.

Of course, Rummy has set up a commission!

Mr. Rumsfeld, facing criticism over his leadership and calls from some Democrats to resign, last month appointed a four-member panel, led by James R. Schlesinger, a former defense secretary, to assess whether the inquiries are sufficient. The commission plans to begin interviews on June 14 at the Pentagon and by teleconference with officers in Iraq

Though it seems some dishonest Republican commission members have already made up their minds.

One of its members, Tillie K. Fowler, a former Republican congresswoman from Florida, ... made it clear that Mr. Rumsfeld was not a focus. "The secretary is an honest, decent, honorable man, who'd never condone this type of activity. This was not a tone set by the secretary."

So it's starting to look like a YACI—Yet Another Criminal investigation of the Bush regime. And so far, all the YACIs have led to nothing, since the administration is very skilled at this form of warfare, at least.

Mr. Hutson, the former Navy judge advocate, said [that] "I think in a very narrow sense we'll see that justice was done for the seven low-level soldiers, or whatever number it ends of being," he said. "Whether justice is done for the more senior people implicated remains to be seen. I don't hold out great hope that any of these investigations are going to result in that."
(via Times)

Not with a bang of a whimper.

Izvestia on the Hudson—thanks for doing your part. There was a time when a disaster like Abu Ghraib would call for... What's the phrase, it's on the tip of my tongue... Damn... Some investigative reporting, but not at today's Pulitzer-light, demoralized, and increasingly irrelevant Times. They get themselves spoon fed, and then complain about the nutrition.

Thank God for Seymour Hersh, and let's hope he's got something this week.

Plame Affair: What did Bush know and when did he know it? 

Why is Bush lawyering himself up? Alert reader Beth (back) pointed us to this article by (yes, that) John Dean:

It is possible that Bush is consulting [DC white collar attorney Jim] Sharp only out of an excess of caution - despite the fact that he knows nothing of the leak [of Valerie Plame's identity], or of any possible coverup of the leak. But that's not likely.

On this subject, I spoke with an experienced former federal prosecutor who works in Washington, specializing in white collar criminal defense (but who does not know Sharp). That attorney told me that he is baffled by Bush's move - unless Bush has knowledge of the leak. "It would not seem that the President needs to consult personal counsel, thereby preserving the attorney-client privilege, if he has no knowledge about the leak", he told me.

What advice might Bush get from a private defense counsel? The lawyer I consulted opined that, "If he does have knowledge about the leak and does not plan to disclose it, the only good legaladvice would be to take the Fifth, rather than lie. The political fallout is a separate issue."

I raised the issue of whether the President might be able to invoke executive privilege as to this information. But the attorney I consulted - who is well versed in this area of law -- opined that "Neither 'outing' Plame, nor covering for the perpetrators would seem to fall within the scope of any executive privilege that I am aware of."

That may not stop Bush from trying to invoke executive privilege, however - or at least from talking to his attorney about the option. As I have discussed in one of my prior columns, Vice President Dick Cheney has tried to avoid invoking it in implausible circumstances - in the case that is now before the U.S .Supreme Court. Rather he claims he is beyond the need for the privilege, and simply cannot be sued.

Suffice it to say that whatever the meaning of Bush's decision to talk with private counsel about the Valerie Plame leak, the matter has taken a more ominous turn with Bush's action. It has only become more portentous because now Dick Cheney has also hired a lawyer for himself, suggesting both men may have known more than they let on. Clearly, the investigation is heading toward a culmination of some sort. And it should be interesting.
(via FindLaw)

Pass the popcorn!

UPDATE It looks like Scooter Libby took "copious notes," according to the Times in Reading A1. Make that popcorn a double.

Department of enforced humility and self-abasement 

It has come to my attention that in several posts I have slipped, and referred to our Dear Leader as "he" rather than "He."

Since He is chosen of God, it's inappropriate for me to refer to Him in other than honorific terms.

Can You ever forgive me?

UPDATE Alert reader John McKay can:

Drop and give me 25 "Hail Cheney"'s Now, go my child and sin no more.

Thanks, Coach! I feel a lot better now .

Kerry, veterans, and "supporting the troops" 

Kerry is focusing on the military; good:

John Hurley, who heads Kerry's national outreach to veterans, announced the campaign had recruited coordinators for that effort in every state. He also said 100,000 veterans had signed up on Kerry's website to support the campaign.

Kerry said he was receiving support not only from veterans, but also from large numbers of current members of the military.

"You would be amazed at the number of active-duty personnel who are coming up at events around the country … and telling me how important it is for us to stand up and fight for those who are not able to speak out for themselves right now, for obvious reasons," [Kerry] said.
(via LA Times)

There's no reason I can see for Democrats to concede inch to Republicans on either national security in general or supporting the troops.

If we can get people to ask this question—"How stupid does Bush think we are?"—it's all over for Bush.

So, Bush says Republicans support the troops?

  1. How stupid does Bush think we are, when he made the case for war on WMDs, and then there weren't any?

  2. How stupid does Bush think we are, when he made the case that Iraq was part of the "war on terror," and Saddam and AQ had no connection at all?

  3. How stupid does Bush think we are, when he says "Mission Accomplished" and then the lack of postwar planning causes thousands of deaths?

  4. How stupid does Bush think we are, when he goes to eat turkey with the same troops he's killing because he didn't get them body armor or armored HumVees?

I could make a longer list, but you get the idea.

Bush blows off the Pope 

President Bush arrived 15 minutes late for his meeting with Pope John Paul II -- unusual for a president who makes no secret of his impatience when others keep him waiting.

Being on time is for otherpeople!

It was a rare breach of protocol in Vatican City, too, and raised eyebrows in the papal delegation.
(via Star Ledger)

Heh. 15 minutes? That's 25% of the time Bush wanted to spend "visiting" with the 9/11 Commission! So by any standard, I would say it's significant ...

Friday, June 04, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Maybe Smarty Jones will win the Triple Crown tomorrow. Please God, if you exist, could you please let Philly win something for once?

Meanwhile, I must—as several alert readers have pointed out—work on my zeroes. Since I'm a former humanities major, arithmetic is hard for me, and the only programming language I really know is Python, so zero is, you know, just one of the three Boolean values...

So maybe if I used Roman numerals, I wouldn't get mixed up with the zeroes. Let's see... A thousand is M, so a billion would be MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM... No, that's way too hard. And we in God's Country have a billion with one number of zeroes (eight, is it?), and the Brits have one with nine or thirteen, whatever, and the Canadians, they're metric, so that's probably another kind of billion entirely, and of course the French Canadians have their own, boullion...

All I know is it's very confusing. And besides, the Arabs invented the zero, along with all those other numerals, so anyone who uses the zero must hate America.

So maybe I could just count on my fingers? But then is my left thumb zero, or one?

I'm going to bed. And not counting sheep. At least I hope.

Ooo-WEE Bubba, Lookee Whuch Ah Fahnd Heyah! 

Now, the name "Diebold" is not mentioned anywhere in this story. However, does it really matter?

(via Birmingham News)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP)...Jefferson County election officials said Wednesday they found 332 extra votes for [Probate Judge Mike] Bolin, who is hoping to avoid a runoff against former Covington County Circuit Judge Jerry E. Stokes [in the Republican contest for Place Three on the Alabama Supreme Court].

Bolin's added votes, and 40 more votes for Stokes, were missed in an initial count because of a technical problem. The race was still too close to call because provisional ballots statewide have not been counted.

Twenty-eight more votes were found for a third candidate in the race, Montgomery County District Judge Peggy Givhan. Houston County Circuit Judge Denny Holloway's total was unchanged.

Jefferson County officials said results in 14 Republican races were not transmitted properly from one machine at the Vestavia Hills Civic Center. The mistake was discovered early Wednesday. Officials investigated and ran the machine's memory card, which they say revealed the correct totals..
As mentioned above, we may tend to get a little too focused on Diebold to the exclusion of the several other companies fighting for the business in this brave new electronic-tally voting world. This was not the best-written story (even before I hacked at it with an ax to get the length down) but nowhere do I see the words "paper trail" mentioned even in the long version. I see "officials" looking at a "memory card."

Oh yes, if anybody wants to get snarky over the headline on this piece: I live in Tennessee, I'm allowed. And if you think THIS is bad, remind me to tell you the "cocoa bird" story some time.

UPDATE: Alert reader Anonymous pointed out that I had the Republican-donating, possibly vote pilfering, Diebold company misspelled as "Diebolt" earlier, at least twice. So I was wrong, but consistently wrong. I blame it on the Bush administration.

Rightwing Penetration Of Mainstream Media - How It Works 

Okay, we all know how it works. I'm just excited because I actually got to see a bit of it in action, mere minutes ago, which would be around 11:20 AM out here on the left coast.

So, I'm sitting at my computer, watching out of the corner of one eye the "Take Back America" conference on C-Span. It's a session from yesterday, Thursday; Hillary Clinton introducing George Soros. Hillary is great, maybe the best I've ever seen her, working without notes, loose and easy, she sets up the framing theme of taking back our country, our America, in specific progressive, but also mainstream terms.

Soros takes the podium, an attractive, unslick, sophisticated European; he speaks with quiet, conversational passion about the disaster of the Bush foreign policy. He draws a connection between 9/11 and the pictures of prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib, but that connection is causal, how did we get from being the victim, to being seen by the world as being a perpetrator, of torture, yet. He doesn't blame America, he blames the administration that had responsibility for guiding this country from 9/11 to a war in Iraq. When he states that the Bush policies have killed more innocents than the number who died on 9/11, I think to myself that though that statement is undoubtedly true, it sets up an easy Republican bullseye, although Soros' point is the loss of American prestige around the world, Republicans will not fail to take their shots.

While this is going on, in my opposite ear, I pick up on my neighbor's TV, clearly tuned to one of cable news networks, the name George Soros. Within 30 seconds I'm tuned to MSNBC where a discussion is going on between the young female anchor and Byron York regarding a George Soros statement, the one from yesterday, drawing a moral equivalence between Abu Graib and 9/11. How had this item been put on the agenda of MSNBC? Why, the RNC Chairman had attacked the statement, on the basis, according to Byron York, of the article he'd written about Soros for National Review. Why that made York the appropriate interlocutor for Gillespie's Republican spin, you'll have to ask MSNBC. Give the young anchoress credit; she did ask why the statement was a news item? Although a tape of Soros' statement had been played, York met no opposition when he rearranged the meaning of Soros' words to suit the RNC spin, indeed one might call it the Nationl Review spin. Give Soros people credit; in the middle of the discussion, the anchor received a communication from them that Soros had made no statement drawing a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, which was true. But York insisted that the audience had just seen him do it.

Here's York's National Review "article," if that's what you can call it.

Soros: Abu Ghraib = September 11
The billionaire shares his theories with liberal activists.

Billionaire financier George Soros, the financial power behind a number of anti-Bush movements on the left, today directly compared the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in Iraq with the terrorist attacks of September 11.

"I think that those pictures hit us the same way as the terrorist attack itself," Soros continued, "not quite with the same force, because in the terrorist attack, we were the victims. In the pictures, we were the perpetrators and others were the victims."

"But there is, I'm afraid, a direct connection between those two events, because the way President Bush conducted the war on terror converted us from victims into perpetrators."

There are a few grafs more, but York featured what he considered to be the damning quote. Nowhere is a moral equivalence drawn, nowhere is America blamed for 9/11. But no matter. Close enough for Byron York.

Enter Ed Gillispie.

WASHINGTON, June 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie issued the following statement in response to comments made today by John Kerry supporter George Soros comparing prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison to the terror attacks on 9-11. "Abu Ghraib was bad and the soldiers involved are rightly being punished, but for Democrats to say that the abuse of Iraqi fighters is the moral equivalent of the slaughter of 3,000 innocent Americans is outrageous. Their hatred of the President is fueling a blame America first mentality that is troubling." ------
Paid for by the Republican National Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.

"Troubling." Have you noticed that is the new watchword for this campaign?

Notice how Gillespie doesn't risk actually producing a quote. Notice how he builds on York's distortion, which at least contented itself with misinterpreting the notion of a connection between Abu Ghraib and 9/11, to the outright lie that Soros had said that they were moral equivalents. Nor did Soros 'blame' America for either 9/11 or Abu Ghraib; he blamed the Bush administrations for its response to 9/11, and the way that response prepared the way for what we saw in the photographs of prisoner abuse.

Now let's take a look at the real heart of the current Republican party.

Two stories get posted to Lucianne.com, and the threads that follow tell you all you need to know about what it is that both the RNC and Byron York hope to stimulate in the American electorate. Warning: As one of the commenters admits, it aint' pretty.

The first thread is a response to a posting of the original York article.

The second thread is a response to the posting of a NYPost article about the RNC's plans to harpoon Soros and hang him around Kerry's neck. Think of it as "necklacing."

Read them, and then ask yourself if these sentiments could ever make it onto MSNBC.

The answer? Yes, by the proxys that more and more are being accepted as respectable mainstream journalists. Before you know it, WorldNet will be showing up as sources on CNN.

We've heard a lot about Bush-hating. We'll hear a lot more. Just to help you keep it all in perspective, let me remind you of the kind of civilized discourse to which President Clinton was treated on almost every day of his eight years in office.

This is an editorial from the Orlando Sentinel; I'll give you the URL, but since I'm not sure if it is still available, I'm going to reproduce the whole of it.

An Evil Man, An Evil Decision
by Charley Reese
of The Sentinel Staff
Published in The Orlando Sentinel, Dec 20 1998

In a bizarre way, this past week reminded me of a line from an old Kevin Costner movie in which the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham, in a rage, shouts at one of his aides, "And cancel Christmas!"

Bill Clinton has done his best to do that. In a season in which Christians celebrate the son of God's message of peace and love, Clinton has forced the American military to kill innocent people in Iraq to distract the American public from Clinton's own law-breaking.

Clinton is an evil man. His administration is corrupt from one end to the other and is riddled with liars.

The decision to bomb Iraq was clearly designed to postpone the impeachment vote. It was a put-up job from start to finish.

Note these facts: Iraq did not throw the arms inspectors out. Richard Butler, the little weasel and stooge for Clinton, deliberately set up a confrontation by trying to crash his way into the Ba'ath political party headquarters, knowing that he would be refused.

What, after all, did he expect to find?

A missile in a file cabinet?

Then Butler ordered his minions out of the country on his own, without consulting the United Nations Security Council or the secretary-general, and filed a one-sided report. Clinton then ordered the attack before the Security Council could even finish discussing the report.

In a demonic way, Clinton is sewing the seeds of war, hatred and death. The bombing of Iraq is an act of American terrorism, pure and simple. Unfortunately, innocent Americans will reap the bloody harvest.

Clinton has no policy.

After he decides it is politically expedient to stop the bombing, what then?

More Iraqis will be dead and wounded, more of their country destroyed, but Saddam Hussein will still be in power, the inspections will be history, and more people in the Middle East will sympathize with Iraq and despise the United States.

This low-life, lying draft-dodger who has already gutted and demoralized the American military has the chutzpah to count on the patriotism of the American people to support him because he has committed their sons and daughters to an unconstitutional war for illegitimate reasons.

Iraq has been the victim of a big-lie campaign dating all the way back to the Persian Gulf War.

It's ironic that, time and again, Iraq has been shown to have told the truth while the United States has been shown to have lied.

Butler, for example, came out and denounced the Iraqis for unreasonable behavior at a conference. Then, Iraq released a videotape of the complete conference that proved that Butler had deliberately misrepresented the conversation.

And when is Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state, lying?

Did she lie when she said that the United States would never consent to lifting the sanctions or did she lie when she said we wouldn't have bombed if only Hussein had cooperated?

And this nonsense about "degrading" Iraq's capability to produce weapons of mass destruction is also a lie. You cannot degrade what does not exist. The U.N. nuclear inspectors have publicly stated Iraq has no capability to produce nuclear weapons, but the United States refuses to accept the report. As for biological weapons, those can be made in a kitchen. What's the plan? To bomb every kitchen and hospital lab in Iraq?

More and more America seems surreal. People no longer know right from wrong. Television treats war like just another show ("We'll be right back to tell you more about the killing after these messages.") Ignorance and malice have replaced education and civility. A recent survey showed a huge majority of American high-school students are liars, cheats and thieves.

Absent a religious revival, I wouldn't give you 2 cents for the future of this country.

Merry Christmas.

[Posted 12/19/1998 7:04 PM EST]

(c) 1998 Orlando Sentinel Online

Do any of you find any of the assertions in this op ed "troubling?" Just asking.

Science for Republicans 

Hey, who knew Rush was this old?

Blob-like fossils dating back about 600 million years may indicate that complex life evolved much earlier on our planet than had been thought, scientists say.
(via The Beeb)

But, how can this be? 6,000,000,000 years ago? The earth is only 6,000 years old!

NOTE Alert reader scott points out I dropped a few zeroes... I'm going to help put the OMB next...

Taliban wanted to hand over OBL before 9/11, but deal was botched 

"Not wanted, dead or alive," eh?

U.S. and Taliban officials met secretly in Frankfurt almost a year before the Sept. 11 attacks to discuss terms for Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden, according to a German television documentary.

But no agreement was reached and no further negotiations took place before the suicide hijackings in 2001.

ZDF television quoted Kabir Mohabbat, an Afghan-American businessman, as saying he tried to broker a deal between the Americans and the purist Islamic Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, who were sheltering bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.

He quoted the Taliban foreign minister, Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil, as saying: "You can have him whenever the Americans are ready. Name us a country and we will extradite him."

A German member of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok, confirmed to Reuters that he had helped Mohabbat in 1999 to establish initial contact with the Americans.

"I was told (by Mohabbat) that the Taliban had certain ideas about handing over bin Laden, not to the United States but to a third country or to the Court of Justice in The Hague," Brok said.

"The message was: 'There is willingness to talk about handing over bin Laden', and the aim of the Taliban was clearly to win the recognition of the American government and the lifting of the boycott," he said, referring to the international isolation of the Taliban.

The documentary, broadcast Thursday evening, said the Afghans put forward "several offers" and there was talk of holding further negotiations at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan on where and when bin Laden would be handed over.
(via Reuters)

I still think Bush has OBL on ice for an October surprise. How hard could it have been to track a guy who needs kidney dialysis like OBL does?

UPDATE Sorry guys, I've got too much on my plate right now. Alert readers point out that this is probably a Clenis™-style smear—look at the timing. More evidence, I guess, of the "tectonic shifts" going on the government right now.

Three slaps with a wet noodle for insufficient display of cynicism!

Plame affair: Bush's mouthpiece is an old, old friend of ours 

Yes, from way back in the '80s!

[Jim] Sharp, a low-profile lawyer, was a member of the firm that represented Richard V. Secord in the Iran-contra affair, in which Reagan administration officials were accused [and guilty—Ed.] of arranging secret arms shipments to Nicaraguan rebels and to Iran.
(via WaPo)

Yes, I would say Sharp's profile is very likely kept low for very good reasons...

UPDATE Alert reader Californian says read this, and alert reader Beth says read this. They're right. Man, it's like any rock you lift with these guys has stuff crawling under it. And alert reader raison de femme writes (though with no link):

AMES E. SHARP ACCUSED OF SUBORNING PERJURY: The Progress Report did its own unofficial search in an effort to uncover more details about the lawyer for the president. A search of the DC Bar website lists a James E. Sharp as an active member. A search of court documents shows an attorney named James E. Sharp represented his "good friend" Joe Harry Pegg who was indicted as "one of several individuals who conspired to import marijuana into the United States in 1988 and 1989." During James E. Sharp's representation of Pegg, one of Pegg's alleged co-conspirators said Sharp "helped him concoct a false story to help exculpate Pegg."

Ugly, ugly, ugly. I don't understand why Bush, a good family man, would even consider hiring a lawyer accused of suborning perjury. Curiouser and curiouser.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Free LOVE Park! (Philadelphians, the names of your City Councillor are here).

The News of the Weird recently—Tenet being heaved over the side, the FBI going after Chalabi, Inerrant Boy getting lawyered up over Plame—remind me again of John Marshall's percipient comment that what we're seeing is "the outward signs of deep tectonic shifts within the US government... [T]he struggles that are giving rise to all these leaks and tergiversations of the state are the real story - one that it is difficult to see directly, but possible to glimpse in what we can infer from its effects and repercussions."

We don't know the real story, of course, because "our" embryonic Jeebofascist government is necessarily run in a way that is utterly contemptuous of democratic values. All we proles on the outside can do is practice a species of Kremlinology.


Nice peroration from Josh Marshall:

Now [Tenet]'s the fall-guy for it all, in all likelihood made to take the fall by the true bad-actors.

Having said all that, beside the possibility that the White House's favored Iraqi exile was an Iranian agent, that the spy chief just got canned, that the OSD is wired to polygraphs, and that the president has had to retain outside counsel in the investigation into which members of his staff burned one of the country's own spies, I'd say the place is being run like a pretty well-oiled machine.
(via Talking Points Memo)

Oiled with what, though, we ask?

UPDATE Alert reader Marley answers:

White House Lubricating Cream
secret ingredients: feces, formaldehyde, tocopherols, partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening, enriched with vitamins W, M and D

(That would be well-preserved shit with good spreadability and texture. Nutritious, too.)

You'd think with Republicans controlling all three branches of goverment, they could pass a budget 

But no-o-o-o-o-0.

Last year, these clowns managed to pass a budget in January 2004 that they should have passed in October 2003.

This year, they might not pass a budget at all.

What's that I keep hearing about a responsibility era? What miserable failures these clowns are.

No regrets, no tears goodbye 

The headline: Tenet Resigns as Head of CIA; Bush Voices Regret Over Decision.

I think what we all need now is lyrics from a sensitive singer/songwriter!

[GEORGE TENET] I know [my] leavin's too long overdue
For far too long I've had nothin' new to show to you
Goodbye dry eyes I watched your plane
Fade off west of [Mars]
And it felt so strange to walk away alone

[GEORGE BUSH] No regrets, no tears goodbye
Don't want you back, we'd only cry, again
Say goodbye, again

[GEORGE TENET] The hours that were yours, echo like empty rooms
The thoughts we used to share, I now keep alone
I woke last night and spoke to you,
not thinking you were gone
It felt so strange to lie awake, alone

[GEORGE BUSH] No regrets, no tears goodbye
Don't want you back, we'd only cry, again
Say goodbye, again

[GEORGE TENET] Our friends have tried to turn my nights to day
Strange faces in your place can't keep the ghosts away
Just beyond the darkest hour, just behind the dawn
Still feels so strange to lead my life, alone

[UNISON] I've no regrets, no tears goodbye
Don't want you back, we'd only cry, again
Say goodbye, again
- Tom Rush

Yep, that about covers it. Heh.

Of course, readers, if there are other alterations we should make...

Troops know Bush equation of Iraq, Afghanistan, and "war on terror [sic]" is bogus, demand new medal 

And Bush agrees—but very very quietly:

After pressure from troops who wanted recognition for fighting in Iraq and in Afghanistan -- and not just in one all-encompassing "Global War on Terrorism" -- President Bush quietly signed legislation Friday night establishing separate new medals for their service.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes called the "Global War on Terrorism" medal a "purely political" device. A week before launching the Iraq invasion in March 2003, Bush established a single "Global War on Terrorism" medal that later proved unpopular in the ranks. But before recessing last month, the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation to create Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom medals, giving troops specific recognition for the campaigns in which they served.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), a Vietnam combat vet who was among the bill's original sponsors, called the Global medal a "purely political" device that sought to more closely connect the Iraq war to the fight against al Qaeda. [Reyes] criticized Bush's decision to sign the law without fanfare: "In Texas we would call it chicken[poop]," he told us yesterday. "We call it thumbing his nose at something he doesn't like."
(via WaPo)

Hey, funny thing! "Supporting the troops" includes telling them the truth about when, where, why, and how they are fighting! Who knew?

Top 10 Things George Tenet Will Do Now that He Has Free Time 


Alert reader Ken Ashford:

00. Spend more time with his fam- . . . his famil--

HAR-har-HAR-har!!!! Sorry. Almost did with a straight face

Alert reader raison de fem:

00. Watch back carefully for knife insertion.


One from me:

00. Cut the soles off his shoes, sit in a tree, and learn to play the flute!

From alert reader Vicki:

00. Hire his own lawyer.

00. Return Al Franken's call for an interview.

From alert reader target_acquired:

00. buy bush a year's supply of pretzels

From alert reader Bryan:

00. Return Michael Moore's phone call and have lunch with Seymour Hersh.

One Brick Out of the Wall--Tenet "Resigns" 

(via WaPo)
...Tenet had been under fire for months in connection with intelligence failures related to the U.S.-led war against Iraq, specifically assertions the United States made about Saddam Hussein's purported possession of weapons of mass destruction, and with respect to the threat from the al Qaeda terrorist network.

During his seven years at the CIA, speculation at times has swirled around whether Tenet would retire or be forced out, peaking after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and surging again after the flawed intelligence estimates about Iraq's fighting capability.

Even when his political capital appeared to be tanking, Tenet managed to hang on with what some say was a fierce loyalty to Bush and the CIA personnel. A likable, chummy personality, also helped keep him above water.

Dang those ol' "personal reasons" anyway. Replacement is CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin, which sends us scurrying to Clarke and Woodward for background (updates later).
So what's the Real Deal here? One of the many investigations getting too close for comfort? Book deal? Don't tell me HE was Chalabi's drinking buddy....although that "chummy personality" line makes one wonder.

Go for it, esteemed readers. Keep in mind Occam's Razor and Holmes' Law, but have fun.

UPDATE Admiral Stanfield Turner puts his tinfoil hat on:

Retired Adm. Stansfield Turner said he thought Tenet was pushed out.

"I think the president feels he's in enough trouble that he's got to begin to cast some of the blame for the morass that we are in in Iraq to somebody else, and this was one subtle way to do it," said Turner, himself a former CIA director.

Tenet spoke to CIA personnel at a late-morning gathering at the CIA auditorium. "It was a personal decision, and had only one basis in fact: the well being of my wonderful family, nothing more and nothing less," he said.
(via AP)
- Lambert

UPDATE Was it Chalabi's who gave Tenet the push? Or is Chalabi only kicking Tenet now that he's down?

Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi launched a bitter attack on George Tenet Thursday, saying the outgoing CIA chief was to blame for false information on Saddam Hussein's alleged arsenal of banned weapons.
(via Reuters)

UPDATE And tonight's Tinfoil Hat Trophy goes to alert reader Anonymous:

"This is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. And while Washington and the media will put many different faces on the decision ? it was a personal decision ? and had only one basis in fact the well being of my wonderful family. Nothing more and nothing less."

so was the administration threatening his family?

Maybe Bush was threading to put food on them....

Abu Ghraib torture: All very predictable, given the contractors involved 

I quote the AP story in full, just to give the disgusting details:

Four former state prison officials hired by the Justice Department to help set up Iraq's prison system have backgrounds that should have precluded them from the private contracting jobs, a senator said Wednesday.

Each had lawsuits or other problems linked to their tenures in state government, Sen. Charles Schumer said. He called for the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate the "slipshod" hiring process that allowed them to work as private contractors.

"These are not the four people you would want to run any prison system," said Schumer, D-N.Y.

Three of them visited various Iraqi prisons over a period of about four months in 2003 and worked to get them operating. A fourth was given a supervisory position in the newly reconstituted prison system. The four officials were part of a 25-member team.

One of the four, Terry Stewart, was sued by the Justice Department in 1997, when he ran Arizona's Corrections Department. The lawsuit charged that at least 14 female inmates were repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted and watched by corrections workers as they dressed, showered and used the bathroom.

At the time, officials also charged prison authorities had denied investigators access to staff and prisoners to examine abuse complaints.

After the state agreed to provide more stringent oversight of employees handling female inmates, the suit was dropped. Neither Stewart nor any other state officials admitted any wrongdoing.

Stewart was out of the country Wednesday and could not be reached. A Justice Department spokesman declined comment.

Schumer also cited John Armstrong, who left as Corrections Department chief in Connecticut last year after the agency was sued by female guards who alleged they were sexually harassed. Armstrong denied his departure had anything to do with the lawsuit.

Also named by Schumer:

-O.L. "Lane" McCotter, who resigned under fire as head of the Utah Corrections Department after a mentally ill inmate died after spending 16 hours strapped to a restraining chair.

-McCotter's predecessor, Gary DeLand, who headed the agency in the late 1980s, when civil rights lawyers charged his department denied appropriate medical care to inmates.

DeLand has denied the charge. A jury awarded nearly half a million dollars to an inmate incarcerated in 1989 when he suffered renal failure.

The jury found DeLand and other officials violated the inmate's constitutional rights be delaying medical care.
(via AP)

Hey, freedom's untidy!

"Mistress Lee" is bouncing on my knee! 

Quarters may not be the only things Bill Bennett is stuffing into a slot.
America's national scoldpottle and flagship human dirigible for all things virtuous, victorian, and, uh, apparently, wearing studded stiletto heels and carrying a horse whip, may turn out to be more fun at a party than an old Velvet Underground record and a handful of poppers.


FROM: "Mistress Lee"
You can't do anything because you're powerless. The right wing editors don't want it told-period. If I were telling tales of bein flat on my back playin' the pleasure unit it would have been in print long ago. How dare she expose this -She got paid to keep her mouth closed is the prevailing sentiment -I would 'EXPOSE' them all in a new york minute but they think they can pimp me out like you're trying to do now-SILLY. -If he had been a dem they would have hailed me as the second coming of Christ. Fondle this HOT LINK for more titilating fun

"second coming of..." Oh boy. There is definetly a big wet multiple coming joke in there somewhere, but please, don't get me any more excited than I am already. Read on.

Michael Kantor of Calicocat.com:
According to my anonymous email source, the media knows a lot more about this story than what I’ve reported on my website. Terry Neal of the Washington Post allegedly has an incriminating audiotape. (I sent an email to Neal that was unanswered.) According to democrats.com, Lloyd Grove of the NY Daily News and Josh Green of the Atlantic also have investigated the story. I am told that someone with detailed firsthand knowledge of their relationship, other than "Mistress Lee," has talked to reporters. And of course there is "Mistress Lee’s" own confirmation that the story is true. I am told that there are casino videotapes of the two of them together, but casino employees won’t talk on the record because they’d lose their jobs for ratting out customers.

I am also told that this story is even bigger than just Bill Bennett. I am told that "Mistress Lee" has other high level clients, including governors, congressmen, and powerful businessmen. Poke This Here

Oh good God, I hope its all for real. Go check it out, really, there is a whole lot more including "Mistress Lee's" email correspondence with Kantor. Which is hilarious in and of itself. See for yerself. "Mistress Lee" obviously fancies herself quite the cocotte tease.

Note: I realize that this "Mistress Lee" story/rumor/whatever it really is, etc,... has been bouncing around online in one state of undress or another for some time. But I don't really care. I still wanna believe that some prayers are answered. Ya know what I mean?



When in doubt... 

ask the RNC what to write:

And do we really want America to be America again when part of the America we are remembering is the one in which terrorists were gathering strength and acting with what amounted to impunity through the decade? Yes, during the transition, the farsighted Sandy Berger wanted the incoming Bush crowd that Al Qaeda was the main threat. But why didn't the Clinton administration see that earlier, and do something about it? If Clintonites are so tight in the Kerry circle—and they are—is that a sign that the terrorism threat will be handled well?

Finally, if we want America to be America again, do we want to revive that part of America that contained Monica Lewinsky? Do we want to remember what happened in the off hours in the Oval Office in those days? Do we want to hear Clinton's explanation for why he shouldn't be blamed for allowing his presidency to be distracted? It wasn't just the "vast right-wing conspiracy" at work; it was Clinton's fault that he gave them the ammo they needed to paralyze the last two years of his time in office. No one's saying Kerry is Clinton, but in the next few months it could be Clinton—and not the nominee—who will be Mr. Democrat.
(via MSNBC)
What an RNC tool you are, Mr. Fineman.

BTW, how much do good copyeditors cost these days?

Berger "wanted" the Bushies about al-Qaeda? How about "warned" instead?

I also can't help but point out that, if you've actually read Richard Clarke's book, it reveals that Bill Clinton didn't ignore al-Qaeda after the 1998 embassy bombings. He launched a missile strike against him that the Heathers in the press corps insisted was an attempt to distract us from the pointless Monica bomb that had engulfed Washington at the time.

And, as we all know, the Bushies didn't do a damn thing for nine entire months to follow up on Sandy Berger's warning about al-Qaeda.

What do you have to say about that, Mr. Fineman?

Liberal media my, uh, hind foot!


Nabil al-Marabh was No. 27 on the FBI's list of terror suspects after Sept. 11. He trained in Afghanistan's militant camps, sent money to a roommate convicted in a foiled plot to bomb a hotel and boasted to an informant about plans to blow up a fuel truck inside a New York tunnel, FBI documents allege. The Bush administration set him free — to Syria — even though prosecutors had sought to bring criminal cases against him and judges openly expressed concerns about possible terrorist ties.

Al-Marabh served an eight-month jail sentence and was sent in January to his native Syria, which is regarded by the United States as a sponsor of terrorism. The quiet disposition of his case stands in stark contrast to the language FBI agents used to describe the man.


"The court finds applicant does present a danger to national security," U.S. Immigration Judge Robert D. Newberry ruled, concluding al-Marabh was "credibly linked to elements of terrorism" and had a "propensity to lie."

Neither the courts nor al-Marabh's attorneys were given access to the most striking allegations provided by the Jordanian informant.

Asked to explain the decision to free al-Marabh, Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra said the government has concerns about many people with suspected terror ties but cannot effectively try them in court without giving away intelligence sources and methods.

"If the government cannot prosecute terrorism charges, another option is to remove the individual from the United States via deportation. After careful review, this was determined to be the best option available under the law to protect our national security," he said.
(via AP)
And just why the hell are we holding all those people at Gitmo who we're not even sure about at the same time we're letting people like this guy get on a plane to terror-sponsoring Syria scot free?

Anybody got a satisfactory answer?

Boy, that Bush administration sure is great at the war on terra, huh?

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Hump day. Over.

Philly! WTF? Please, Mayor Street—do the right thing and re-open LOVE Park to skateboarding! 

Philadelphia Mayor John Street shows us that Republicans have no monopoly—much as they would like one—on arrogance, knuckledragging stupidity, and boneheaded intransigence. Here's the latest on the Love Park scandal:

DC Shoes, a $100 million company based in California, announced yesterday that it will give $1 million over 10 years to pay for future skateboard damage in LOVE Park, if the city reopens the park to skateboarding.

So, you'd think with city services being slashed, that $1 million would be pretty welcome! But n-o-o-o:

But it appears that Mayor Street and Managing Director Phil Goldsmith, who have long objected to skateboarders, pretty much told the shoe executives to shove it. Philadelphia is not about to let the skateboarders back in.

"There's never going to be any skateboarding in LOVE Park, period," Goldsmith said yesterday.

Ken Block, president of DC Shoes, said Goldsmith even called him in California to try to block his company's offer.

"He told me that [Mayor Street] was never going to let skateboarding into LOVE Park no matter what we did," Block said yesterday. "[Mayor Street] said this subject was really just 'a pimple on the ass of an elephant' compared to everything else he was dealing with...

Like the coming Federal indictments?

... and that the way it was being handled didn't seem very professional.


The skateboarders do have some support. John Dougherty, who is the city's Democratic Party treasurer and one of the city's major power brokers, has been converted to the skateboard cause.

"This kind of investment in public resources represents the type of creative thinking and public-private partnership that will push our city forward," Dougherty said in a prepared statement yesterday. "In the end, this means more jobs for our members, more commerce on our streets, and more vitality for our City."

And City Controller Jonathan Saidel, fiscal watchdog for the city, said yesterday that Street would be foolish to pass up this offer.

"Frankly, a million-dollar check is something I could really use right now", Saidel said.

"I looked at the managing director's statement, and read how he wants the park to be used for a chess tournament next week, that's it's soon going wireless, and that these are reasons why we can't have skateboarding," he continued. "Well, how in the world does that conflict with young people skateboarding? It doesn't. Skateboarders wouldn't even be here during those hours. Why not just let them have their time?"

City Council Majority Leader Jannie Blackwell and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown also support the skateboarders, as does the Logan Square Neighbors Association.
(via Daily News)

Philly is supposed to be a city of neighborhoods. I live two blocks away from Love Park. Letting the skateboarders back in will improve my neighborhood. Doing the right thing would bring in a million dollars, make the city look good, and if we get the X games back, bring in millions more.

What is hard about doing the right thing here? Philly! WTF? It's enough to make me vote Republican!

NOTE Readers, if you want to vote for doing the right thing with LOVE Park, do it here. Voting was 85% in favor, last I looked.

Plame Affair: Funny how trial lawyers have their uses, isn't it? 

Bush gets himself lawyered up:

President Bush has consulted an outside lawyer about possibly representing him in the grand jury investigation of who leaked the name of a covert CIA operative last year, White House officials said Wednesday night.
(via NY Times)

Look, this is purely a precautionary measure. Something any honest citizen would do.

Funny how big the Plame Affair—Imagine! A WhiteWash House felon—seemed when the story broke, and how small it seems now, after the Abu Ghraib photos, the shredding of treaties like the Geneva Convention, the unconstitutional diversion of $700,000,000 from Afghanistan to Iraq.... Still, just like Al Capone was brought down for tax evasion, maybe it's one of the little slip-ups that will bring Bush dowm

Chalabi schadenfreude: The conning of the neo-cons 

The chalabi saga, in all its unfolding glory, is almost too rich. It's just more proof that, as the old adage has it, you can't con an honest man. Spiky et al write:

NEWSWEEK has learned that the National Security Agency first uncovered evidence indicating Chalabi’s possible compromises of U.S. intelligence and sent a criminal referral to the FBI requesting an investigation into the alleged leak to Iran. A similar referral was sent to the FBI by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which until recently was responsible for managing Pentagon payments to Chalabi’s group and for supervising its intelligence-collection efforts.

It's like half the government's trying to arrest the other half!

Last week, U.S. intelligence officials requested that NEWSWEEK and several other media organizations refrain from publishing some details about what kind of intelligence information Chalabi and the INC were alleged to have given to the Iranians.

Do they never learn? This is just like getting CBS to hold back on the Abu Ghraib story. Didn't do Bush any good then either, though. We think.

After some details surfaced in print and TV reports earlier this week, however, officials withdrew their requests, leading to a spate of media reports alleging that Chalabi or one of his associates told the Iranians that U.S. intelligence had cracked a secret code system used by the Iranian intelligence service. U.S. political activists close to Chalabi have told reporters in recent days that Chalabi learned about the codebreaking in Baghdad from a drunken U.S. official.
(via Newsweek)

I wonder what the US official was drunk on? Power? And who was the official? And who are the "US political activists"? Somehow, I don't think they're members of ANSWER....

And the story ends with this a little tidbit:

Some officials said that when Iraqi authorities raided Chalabi’s offices, one of the things American officials hoped they would look for was Chalabi’s cache of information he had gathered on Americans.

"Americans" like, perhaps, the neo-cons?

Anyhow, it beggars belief that our neo-cons would get involved with this guy. What was the bond? I mean, does Chalabi lick his comb before passing it through his hair, just like Perle? Does he fuck goats?

NOTE See here for interesting details of "the art of the con." For example, could Iraq be a "big store"? We should, I think, return to this topic. Readers?

UPDATE The essential Atrios catches Bush—incredible as it may seem—lying about his contacts with Chalabi. Of course, there are photos.

UPDATE Alert reader Conrad puts on his tinfoil hat asks this pertinent question: "Now who is the most prominent, supposedly reformed, drunk in the regime?" Maybe Chalabi is sending Bush a message?

Blogging Our Way to Boston 

The good news: the DNC is going to invite bloggers to the Boston K Party! Yaaaay!

The bad news: MY invitation has yet to show up. And there's a kicker at the end, as cleverly foreshadowed by this link....

(via NYCluelessTimes)

Today's pamphleteers -- the "bloggers" who can put every idle thought on the Web -- are being invited to the Democratic National Convention.

"You've been doing it ever since the Revolutionary War," Eric Schnure, a former speech writer for Vice President Al Gore and the official 2004 DNC blogger, wrote in a pitch for the party's Web log, or blog.

"Dumping tea and deleting spam. They're kind of the same, don't you think?''

The DNC, in what its officials believe is a first in the world of politics, is granting convention credentials to a carefully selected group of bloggers. They will join thousands of conventional journalists covering the festivities July 26-29 at Boston's FleetCenter.

These traditionally non-establishment social commentators will be chosen based on their professionalism, the number of readers who check their blog on a regular basis, and how much of their content is original. DNC officials have not determined how many credentials will be issued.

American University broadcasting professor M.J. Bear said the DNC's blogger credentials have caused a buzz on the Internet.

``I think it's being seen as 'Our time has arrived,''' Bear said. ``This is a mainstream acknowledgment that we are an important way to communicate.''

California blogger Mary Spio argues, however, that endorsement by an official entity such as the DNC is not something that many of her colleagues will embrace.

``Bloggers have very little interest in being part of the establishment,'' said Spio, editor of One2One Magazine, which is dedicated to the singles lifestyle.
"The entire 'blogosphere' is founded on the basic distrust of traditional organizations."

Of course it would be SO hard to contact Atrios, or DKoss, or Billmon, or my esteemed colleagues of greater seniority here at Corrente, or ANYBODY with an actual Dem-oriented POLITICAL blog. They have to get a comment from the operator of a "singles lifestyle" site?? Snicker. Snort. Guffaw.

However, they say they want people with "more original content", eh? Not that I'm making notes for future reference or anything.

Q: Why is there butter on his pants? 

White House officials would like you to know that the worst is over and President Bush is on a roll.
(via Froomkin in WaPo)

A: Because he's on a roll...

[Rim shot. Laughter]. Anyhow, Froomkin's on fire today. Here's a good one:

I asked readers last week to e-mail me questions that they had sent to "E-mail the White House" -- but not gotten an answer to.

Here's a couple. Keep 'em coming.

"Since the war in Iraq is deemed to be vital to the war on terror and in our national interest, why aren't the President's daughters serving in the armed forces and on active duty in Iraq? For that matter are children of any member of the president's staff on duty in Iraq?" (Jose Rodriguez, Massachusetts)

"You advocated tax cuts in order to create jobs. In 2003 you and Vice President Cheney together earned more money in 2003 than you did in 2002. However, due mainly to the tax cuts, you paid $129,276 less in federal taxes in 2003 than you did in 2002. How did putting an extra $129,276 in your pockets help U.S. employment? Did you use the windfall to hire anyone? Or maybe, it's as the White House Web site describes, tax cuts are to increase 'consumer spending . . . to boost the economic recovery and create jobs.' So what did you and Cheney buy with the money? Did you buy something that was made in the USA or China?" (Ray Lassing, Grass Valley, Calif.)


Memorial Day Over, Back to Screwing the Troops  

The most famous person to use the word "egress" was P.T. Barnum, who posted a sign in his traveling freak show reading "This Way to the Egress!" The marks, thinking this was yet another wondrous creature, charged through the door only to find out that "egress" means "exit." How times have changed.

via WaPo, with the interesting headline Army to Prevent Troops' Egress

The Army will prevent soldiers in units set to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan from leaving the service at the end of their terms, a top general [Hagenbeck] said Wednesday.
The announcement, an expansion of an Army program called "stop-loss," means that thousands of soldiers who had expected to retire or otherwise leave the military will have to stay on for the duration of their deployment to those combat zones.
In an opinion piece in Wednesday's New York Times, Andrew Exum, a former Army captain who served under Hagenbeck in the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, called the treatment of soldiers under stop-loss programs "shameful."
"Many, if not most, of the soldiers in this latest Iraq-bound wave are already veterans of several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan," he wrote. "They have honorably completed their active duty obligations. But like draftees, they have been conscripted to meet the additional needs in Iraq."

Hagenbeck said the stop-loss move is necessary only because the Army is also undergoing a major reorganization that requires some units to be taken off-line while they are restructured.

Just like we can't stop buying oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve even though it's at the peak of a price cycle, we can't hold off this "reorganization" of miltary units even though it requires screwing some 4000 troops, their family members and communities. But we waved our flags, Rummy says, and made patriotic speeches Monday, Bushco notes, so that PROVES that we support the troops, unlike Democrats, say.

Condi: FTF—but only some of them 

Rice told the CBS's "Early Show" that terrorists "have no political vision for Iraq except to take it back into the 12th century."
(via Defense Link)

Sounds just like the vision of the Rapture folks to me... Except maybe those guys think the 12th century is, like, modern...

So maybe someone can tell me the practical difference between the Caliphate that AQ wants and what the Jeebofascists want. Readers?

So, wealth and power don't make people sane 

Who knew?

From 1 to 5 percent of the populations of most of the countries surveyed had serious mental illness.

For example, about 26 percent of Americans were judged to have mental illness, compared with only 4 percent of the residents of Shanghai and 5 percent of Nigerians.
(via NY Times)

Hey, not me, though! As Samuel Beckett wrote in Waiting for Godot:

Sometimes I think that I'm not in my right mind. Then it passes off and I'm as normal as before."

Wonder what the Republican/Democratic, Red state/Blue State, religious/non-religious breakdown is, here? It would certainly be interesting to know....

The Times story has an interesting graphic that shows that the US has three times the incidence of the next most mentally ill developed country which is, guess... France! Heh.

That stupid Medicare card 

Atrios has a self-explanatory graphic here—from the Hoeffel campaign, no less!

Think of it this way: Each added layer of complexity is a Republican contributor looting the public treasury. Eh?

UPDATE Alert readers point out: "Hoeffel" not "Herseth." Must... drink... more... caffeine....

Herseth wins! 

Good news this morning:

According to the Associated Press, the democrats have picked up another seat in Congress. With nearly all precincts reporting, Herseth is holding about a two percent lead over Republican Larry Diedrich. She will fill out the seven months remaining in former Congressman Bill Janklow's term. South Dakota's former Republican governor went to jail for a manslaughter conviction in a fatal highway accident.
(via KELO)

I like that lower case "d" "democrats" in the original story. Not really a typo these days, eh?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

And what's with this Day After Tomorrow but today stuff? This is Philly in June. We should be wilting in particularate-laden and odiferous humidity by now, and what do we get? Cold and drizzle. Bring on the steam! Say, where does Kerry stand on Kyoto, anyway?


Here is a prime example of the fecklessness, mental torpor, petty-mindedness, and tubularity of Philly's deeply entrenched (Democratic) administration, an administration whose motto might as well be "Philadelphia: Ever third rate!" Read this and weep:

Skateboarders have been pining for one of their most cherished public venues - LOVE Park - since its granite ledges, benches and stairs were declared off-limits to them in 2002.

On Tuesday, as dozens of skateboarders cheered, a California shoe company pledged $1 million to return skateboarding to [LOVE] park where many skateboard professionals honed their skills. But the offer got a chilly response from the city.

DC Shoes of Vista, Calif., announced it would donate $100,000 a year for 10 years to maintain the park. The park attracted skateboarders from around the world before Mayor John Street imposed the ban, saying skateboarders were damaging the park.

JFK Plaza is known to locals as LOVE Park because it is home to a well-known Robert Indiana sculpture of the same name.

"Baseball has Wrigley Field. Skateboarding has LOVE Park," said DC Shoes President Ken Block who presented a ceremonial check to the city at a news conference at the park. "It's absolutely irreplaceable."

However, funding depends on the city dropping the skateboarding ban - a prospect very much in doubt.

"We don't support skating in LOVE Park," said Barbara Grant, a spokeswoman for the mayor. "It damages the park, it creates difficulty for other people who use the park for different reasons."
(via AP)

Let's leave aside the millions from the Extreme sports conventions that Philly used to host when LOVE Park had skateboarding, and lost when that idiot, Street, banned it. Heck, it's only money—and Philly has so much we can afford to throw it away.

Let's just use our eyes.

Readers, I've walked past LOVE Park almost every day for three years. When the skateboarders were there, they were entertaining, didn't "create difficulty" for anyone, and kept the park safe in the evening by their presence. (Jane Jacobs, the "eyes on the street" concept.)

And when Street banned the skateboarders, he didn't fix the (alleged damage) and did it on the cheap. Street (a) put these cheesy "improvements" in place to make it hard to skateboard there—these pink stucco-like planters that are already dirty and disintegrating—and (b) didn't fix the stone that the skateboarders supposedly damaged!

Bringing skateboarding back to LOVE Park may not be good for whichever small time "pay to play" grifter got Street to impose the ban.

But it would be good for the city.

It's enough to make me vote for the next Republican candidate for mayor! (As soon as we get Bush out of office, of course).


Circle the date: June 25! 

Wonder if busloads of jeebofascists will come to see this one.

Michael Moore's award-winning documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" has picked up a U.S. distributor and will hit theaters June 25.

The film will be released by a partnership of Lions Gate Films, IFC Films and the Fellowship Adventure Group, which was formed by Harvey and Bob Weinstein specifically to market Moore's film.
(via AP)

Let's all hope it makes a ton of money.

And of course there is no truth to the vile rumor that Moore has footage of Bush fucking a goat.

Tom Frank Update 

Ooops: I just snatched the June 14th issue of The Nation from my bee infested exterior ground-mail collection device and right there on page 50 of the magazine is a review of Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas", (see post below). The review is also posted online, which I hadn't noticed earlier. See: How the Other Half Votes, by George Scialabba.

Ok then, go to it.


What's the matter with America? 

Comment contributor "Merkin", on May 28th (see comments back here) mentioned Thomas Frank's Lie Down for America: How the Republican Party Sows Ruin on the Great Plains, published in the April, 2004 issue of Harpers Magazine.

I couldn't locate the article online at the Harpers website but I did find an excerpt posted at "Rural Womyn.net". Here goes:

..."The villain that did this to my home state wasn't the Supreme Court or Lyndon Johnson, showering dollars on the poor or putting criminals back on the street. The culprit is the conservatives' beloved free-market capitalism, a system that, at it's most unrestrained, has little use for small town merchants or the agricultural system that supported the small towns in the first place. Deregulated capitalism is what has allowed Wal-Marts to crush local businesses across the Midwest and, even more importantly, what has driven agriculture, the region’s raison d’etre, to a state of near-collapse.

People who have never lived in a farm state often think of all agricultural interests as essentially identical: farmers and huge agribusiness conglomerates want the same things, they believe. But in reality the interests of the two are more like those of the chicken and Colonel Sanders of backlash lore. And Colonel Sanders has been on an unbroken winning streak now for twenty-some years, with farm legislation, trade policy, and a regulatory climate all crafted to strengthen the conglomerates while weakening farmers. For shareholders and upper management of companies like Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson the result has been miraculous; for town like Emporia it has been ruinous.

Whereas farmers are naturally disorganized, agribusiness seeks always to merge and acquire and choke off competition. And so, like other industries, it was finally permitted to do these things in the deregulatory climate of the Reagan-Clinton era. In the eighties, according to William Heffernan, a sociologist at the University of Missouri, agriculture experts generally agreed that if four companies controlled more than 40 percent of market share in a given field, it was no longer competitive. Today, Heffernan estimates, the four largest players process 81 percent of the beef, 59 percent of the pork, and 50 percent of the chicken produced in the United States. The same phenomenon is at work in grain: The largest four process 61 percent of American wheat, 80 percent of American soybeans, and either 57 percent or 74 percent of American corn, depending on the method. It is no coincidence that the internal motto of Archer Daniels Midland, the grain processing giant notorious for its political clout and its price-fixing, is reported to be, "The competitor is our friend and the customer is our enemy."

The admirers of farm deregulation – and there are plenty of them, in economics departments as well as in the Bush Administration Department of Agriculture – see in it not some hideous power grab but a heroic "restructuring" of the food industry. Cargill, ADM, and the rest of the giants are bringing order out of chaos; if we finally have to say goodbye to the Jeffersonian fantasy of the family farm – if we have to transform the prosperous farmer into a sharecropper and turn the countryside into an industrialized wasteland and destroy the small towns – maybe it’s all for the best.

One thing unites all these different groups of Kansans, these millionaires and trailer park dwellers, the farmers and thrift-store managers and slaughterhouse workers and utility executives: they are almost all Republicans. Meatpacking Garden City voted for George W. Bush in even greater numbers that did affluent Johnson County.

Not too long ago, Kansans would have responded to the current situation by making the bastards pay. This would have been a political certainty, as predictable as what happens when you touch a match to a puddle of gasoline. When business screwed the farmers and the workers - when it implemented monopoly strategies invasive beyond the Populists' worst imaginings, when it ripped off shareholders and casually tossed thousands out of work – you could be damned sure about what would follow.

Not these days. Out here the gravity of discontent pulls in only one direction: to the right, to the right, further to the right. Strip today’s Kansans of their job security and they head out to become registered Republicans. Push them off their land and the next thing you know they’re protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO and there’s a good chance they’ll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed – unions, antitrust laws, public ownership – and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower.

Let us pause for a moment and gaze across this landscape of dysfunction. A state is spectacularly ill served by the Reagan-Bush stampede of deregulation, privatization, and laissez-faire. It sees its countryside depopulated, its towns disintegrate, its cities stagnate – and its wealthy enclaves sparkle, behind their remote-controlled security gates. The state erupts in revolt, making headlines around the world with its bold defiance of convention. But what do its revolutionaries demand? More of the very measures that have brought ruination on them and their neighbors in the first place.

This is not just the mystery of Kansas: this is the mystery of America, the historical shift that has made it all possible.

In Kansas the shift is more staggering than elsewhere, simply because it has been so decisive, so extreme. The people who were once radical are now reactionary. Although they speak today in the same aggrieved language of victimization and although they face the same array of economic forces as their hard-bitten ancestors, today’s rebels make demands that are precisely the opposite. Tear down the federal farm programs, they cry. Privatize the utilities. Repeal the progressive taxes. All that Kansas asks today is a little help nailing itself to that cross of gold. ………

Excerpts above from ~ Lie Down for America: How the Republican Party Sows Ruin on the Great Plains, by Thomas Frank | Harper’s Magazine April 2004. via: Rural Womyn

Perhaps Harpers will post the entire article online at some point, that would be right marsupial of em', but in any case, what I also wanted to mention is that Frank's latest book titled What's the Matter with Kansas? : How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, published June, 2004 and expanding upon "Lie Down for America" is currently available. COVER image.

With his acclaimed wit and acuity, Thomas Frank turns his eye on what he calls the "thirty-year backlash" - the populist revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment. The high point of that backlash is the Republican Party’s success in building the most unnatural of alliances: between blue-collar Midwesterners and Wall Street business interests, workers and bosses, populists and right-wingers.

In asking "what's the matter with Kansas?" - how a place famous for its radicalism became one of the most conservative states in the union - [...] The questions are urgent as well as provocative. Frank answers them by examining pop conservatism - the bestsellers, the radio talk shows, the vicious political combat - and showing how our long culture wars have left us with an electorate far more concerned with their leaders' "values" and down-home qualities than with their stands on hard questions of policy.

A brilliant analysis - and funny to boot - What’s the Matter with Kansas? presents a critical assessment of who we are, while telling a remarkable story of how a group of frat boys, lawyers, and CEOs came to convince a nation that they spoke on behalf of the People. ~ Book description via: Amazon.com

I think (I'm hopoefuller): Some of the popular reactionary attitudes that Frank highlights may be slowly a-changin', shifting away from some of the more poisionous trends Frank notes. Especially in light of the Bush administration's incompetent, dishonest, and even criminal stewardship. But uprooting the diseased stump that has taken hold in the motherland, which has been throwing up new sucker shoots for thirty some years now, isn't going to be accomplished easily or anytime soon or simply by shaking loose the nuts in the upper branches. That will require a lot more work. There will be a lot of digging and pick-axe swingin' left to do after John Kerry becomes the next elected President of the United States. So.....

Diggers, sharpen your shovels. (and buy a book by Tom Frank)


False Witness 

Just heard Bush on the radio, claiming that he knew Ahmed Chalabi only barely, mostly as someone "on the ropeline" at fundraisers. So far no story on Google.

I'm surprised he didn't try to make Chalabi into John Kerry's best friend. Or at least Ann Richards'.

I guess it depends on what your definition of "rope line" is:

I'm not a professing Christian, but I could swear there is something in the Bible about not bearing false witness. But since no professing evangelical Christians seem bothered about Bush's loyalty towards his friends, I guess I must be mistaken.

Must just be my moral relativism flaring up again.

Iraq clusterfuck: Bush losing the military 

From our own Knight-Ridder, non-Beltway Inky:

Mildred McHugh had never attended a political protest until a few months ago. Now she's a regular at antiwar demonstrations, carrying a sign that reads, "Bring my son home."

"I feel so outraged about the way we were misled about the war," said McHugh, 44, of Pennington, N.J., whose soldier son, Steve, is stationed in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. "I need to be out here and feel like at least I'm doing something... . If it doesn't save my son, it might save someone else's."

A member of Military Families Speak Out, McHugh is the newest of recruits to an increasingly energized peace movement.

One of the most surprising developments, though, has been the growing number of military members and their families who are joining peace activists to protest the war.

"We military families have a direct stake in this," said Charlie Richardson, cofounder of Military Families Speak Out, which supports an immediate troop pullout. "Our sons and husbands and wives were sent into a war based on lies, and we think speaking out is the most supportive thing we can do for the troops."

The group has grown from two families to more than 1,500 in little more than a year, said Richardson, whose son is with the Marines in Iraq. "Our numbers go up every time troops are extended or redeployed."

Lansdowne's Pat Gunn was inspired to join after her son Jason, who had been severely wounded in Iraq, was redeployed by the Army - against a doctor's orders, she said. "It's not working," Gunn said of the U.S. occupation. "It's time to put something else in place."

[Ex-Marine Michael] Hoffman said those questions persist. He recalled a protest where he spoke in March in Fayetteville, N.C., that attracted soldiers from nearby Fort Bragg.

"They weren't in uniform but I could tell by their haircuts they were military," he said. "They told me, 'We can't get up and make a speech, but you need to keep doing what you're doing.' "
(via Inquirer)

Way to support the troops, Michael!

And now for the balance:

Even these passionate new allies, though, may not be enough to help the peace movement affect events in Iraq, some observers say.

"These movements are enormously important in reflecting the divisions of the nation," said James Jay Carafano, a former Army lieutenant colonel and a scholar of military affairs at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "But I don't think history has proved they are terribly important in influencing popular opinion or shaping public policy."

What a whore... What greater "heritage" is there than the lives of our sons and daughters?

Iraq clusterfuck: The opportunity costs 

Besides dropping the ball on AQ, that is.

Congress and President Bush have so far provided $119.4 billion for the war in Iraq. Here are examples of what else that money could buy.

If the $119.4 billion were divided evenly among Iraq's estimated 25 million residents, each would get $4,776. That would be eight times the country's $600 per capita income, an estimate an official of the United Nations Development Program made last November.
(via AP)

I love this. Why not just give them the money? Have we know confidence in the Iraqi people? Heh.

Nick Berg atrocity: Unanswered questions about the video 

A nice summing up, from a mainstream source: the Sydney Morning Herald. (Thank God all the newspapers written in English aren't American!) Some of the major discrepancies listed:

In the next scene, Berg is sitting on the floor with five masked figures standing behind him. Among the many curiosities raised on the web about the fanatical five are:

  • They are well-fed, fidgety, and reveal glimpses of white skin.

  • Their Arabic is heavily accented (Russian, Jordanian, Egyptian).

  • An aside in Russian had been translated as "do it quickly".

  • One character wears wears bulky white tennis shoes.

  • The man on the far left stands in the familiar "at ease" military posture.

  • The men's scarves are worn and tied by people who "haven't a clue", says conspiracy theorist Hector Carreon, like actors in Hollywood movies.

(via Sydney Morning Herald)

Interestingly, the SMH cites one Nick Possum's blog. Nick makes this very plausible point:

I believe that footage showing Berg in the white plastic chair, unrestrained and calmly giving his name and family details, was shot as routine investigative documentation by CIA and/or FBI interrogators while Berg was imprisoned -- either at a US run facility or perhaps by the Iraqis, depending on who’s story you believe -- after he was picked up by Iraqi police in Mosul.

The footage looks so routine because it was routine. Berg was arrested, his clothes were taken away, he was given the jumpsuit and then questioned. Quite probably he was asked a series of questions during the three “interviews” we know took place, and his responses were videotaped in much the same way as police interrogations are audio and/or videotaped in most countries.

In fact, Nick Possum has worked out a reasonable alternative scenario for the entire video. Go read. And remember: These guys will do anything.

UPDATE Alert reader Half-caste points out that I consistently type "Sidney" instead of "Sydney," when writing of the Australian city. My apologies to Mr. Greenstreet, too.

Jeebofascists at the public trough 

Thank God for The New Yorker! Hendrik Hertzberg writes:

This project goes beyond the frequent use of evangelical code words in [Bush's] speeches; beyond the shocking and impious suggestion, more than once voiced in the President’s approving presence, that [H]e was chosen for [H]is position by God Himself; beyond the insistence on appointing judges of extreme Christian-right views to the federal bench; beyond the religiously motivated push to chip away wherever possible at the reproductive freedom of women. It also includes money, in the millions and billions. The money is both withheld and disbursed: withheld from international family-planning efforts, from domestic contraceptive education, and from scientific research deemed inconsistent with religious fundamentalism; disbursed to “abstinence-based” sex-education programs, to church-run “marriage initiatives,” and, via vouchers, to drug-treatment and other social-service programs based on religion. Though Congress has declined to enact the bulk of the President’s “faith-based initiatives,” the Administration has found a way,, via executive orders and through bureaucratic novelties like the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Compassion Capital Fund. “The federal government now allows faith-based groups to compete for billions of dollars in social-service funding, without being forced to change their identity and their mission,” [Bush] boasted a couple of weeks ago, in a commencement address at a Lutheran college in Mequon, Wisconsin. He did not mention that “their identity and their mission”—their principal purpose, their raison d’être—is often religious proselytization.
(via The New Yorker)

So, Hendrick, what's your point?

One can only hope that the poisoned chalice of Federal funding, filled with your and my billions, will cause the Jeebofascists who drink from it to become as corrupt and Godless as the rest of us. Uh, what's that you say?

UPDATE Here's a vivid description of Inerrant Boy pandering to the theocrats:

"But I do believe that groups should be allowed to access social service grants so long as they don't proselytize or exclude somebody simply because they don't share a certain faith," he said. "In other words, there's a way to accomplish the separation of church and state and at the same time accomplish the social objective of having America become a hopeful place and loving place," Bush said to loud applause and shouts of "Amen."
(via WaPo)

So, these guys where shouting "Amen" for our Constitutional system? No. They recognized Bush's pious nod to "the separation of church and state" for what it was: hypocrisy. What do they care about? The money. When they have it, they'll be able to proselytize all they want.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Or is it good morning, midnight?

Back to Philly, grilled out.

Hope your weekend was good, too!

And from the Happiness is a Warm Gun Department, this by alert reader scaramouche:

On November 3rd, George W is very depressed having just lost the election.

To console himself he visits his trophy room. Then in a moment of doubt and despair over whether he had made all the wrong choices by listening to the Vice-President, he sees his favorite gift from the troops: Saddam’s pistol.

He takes the gun and points it to his head…

Just then Cheney enters the room and yells, "No, George, don't do it!!"

"Shut up Dick," he says, "You're next."

[Rim shot. Laughter. Applause.]

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