Saturday, July 03, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Yes, it's been quiet, too quiet. All we've had today is the story that in Florida, they're still stealing Democratic votes, the story that Rummy and Sanchez signed off on torture (sayeth Karpinski), and the story that Bush's military records make a plausible case that he was, indeed, a deserter.

Yawn. Hey, how about them Olsen twins?

Business as usual in Bush's America. As pansypoo says: Operation Bohica summer.

Yawn, snarfle. To bed. Maybe tomorrow I'll watch the fireworks....

Oh, and hey—snark—will someone please tell Tena to close that italics tag?

The Bush batting average 

Wish I'd said this. But Brad DeLong did:

We don't have a sample size of one. We have Bush budget policy: a $#@!-up. We have Bush tax policy: $#@!-up. We have Bush employment policy: a $#@!-up. We have John Di Iulio's report on Bush social policy: a $#@!-up. We have Bush stem-cell policy: a $#@!-up. We have Bush global warming policy as reported to us by Paul O'Neill: a $#@!-up. We have Bush energy policy: a $#@!-up. No matter how hard Gregg Easterbrook tries to convince us that the only reason Bush environmental policy is lousy is because of liberal attacks on Bush, his environmental policy is still what it is: a $#@!-up. We have Bush's behavior on September 11, 2001: a $#@!-up. We have Bush's inability for a week afterwards to say "Pervez Musharraf" reliably (rather than "the leader of Pakistan"): a $#@!-up. We have Bush's decisions on how to fight the War in Afghanistan, ending at Tora Bora: a $#@!-up. We have the postwar reconstruction of Afghanistan: a $#@!-up. We have the Medicare drug benefit: a $#@!-up. We have the run-up to the war in Iraq: a $#@!-up. We have the role played by the INC: a $#@!-up. We have the diplomatic skill used to gather a coalition for the war: a $#@!-up. We have the postwar reconstruction effort: a $#@!-up. We have Abu Ghraib: a $#@!-up. We have claims of presidential powers to imprison never even claimed by Henry VII: a $#@!-up. And we have this week's Cuba policy: a $#@!-up.

By my count, the Bush administration is batting zero-for-twenty. If you are batting zero-for-twenty, it is highly likely that you will not hit a triple the next time you're up at bat.
(via Bradford DeLong)

Go on, Brad! Say what you really feel!

Gee, it seems like Jebbie's still stealing votes for his brother 

After Florida 2000, could they possibly be that crass? That shameless? Silly! This is the Bush family!

Many Floridians have been shocked to find their names on a new state list of nearly 48,000 people identified as felons who may be ineligible to vote, even though they have no criminal record or have been granted clemency.

"Weird. I've never been arrested for felonies," William Miller, 50, of Tampa.

The unemployed mechanic has no criminal record and is a registered voter. He apparently was confused with a man who has the same first and last name, plus the same birthday - but who has a different middle name and a criminal record.

State officials have said there are people on the list who are not felons, and elections workers have flagged more than 300 people listed who might have received clemency. Others on the list had registered to vote before they received clemency and need to register again, election officials said.

The new list, released Thursday, revives memories of the 2000 presidential election, in which many residents discovered at the polls that they weren't allowed to vote. An error-filled list had been produced by an outside company and elections supervisors removed voters without verifying its accuracy.

On Election Day, anyone who feels they have been inadvertently removed from the voter rolls will be allowed to use a provisional ballot that will be examined later to determine eligibility.
(via AP)

Oh, now I feel better. Examined by whom?

Bush AWOL: From drip, drip, drip to splash, splash, splash.... 

From the ever-essential Orcinus, we learn that Paul Lukasiak has issued a draft for feedback on Bush's military records. Lukasiak has examined Bush's military records in extreme detail. Too bad our millionaire MWs can't do this, but then they have BMWs, mortgages, children in private schools to consider....

Anyhow, it seems that Bush's fixers, with the usual mixture of arrogance and sloppiness that a compliant "free" press enables them to have, didn't know what they were released when they released "all" (heh) Bush's military records. Lukasiak's conclusion:

There is no question that Bush understood that he was obligated to continue to serve in the Armed Forces after he quit the Texas Air National Guard. The nature and extent of these responsibilities were part of the training of every Guardsman and Reservists. Bush was a commissioned officer, and pleading ignorance of his obligation would have been (and is) simply unacceptable. Finally, Bush acknowledged that obligation on a document he signed on July 30, 1973.

The Bush documents show that Bush took none of the necessary steps to fulfill those obligations. This leaves us with only two possibilities to consider. The first is that he thought he could get away with ignoring his responsibilities. The second is that he thought he could scam his way into a “Standby Reserve” position that he was not eligible to be in.

(via The AWOL project)

And, oh yeah, it looks like the discharge record has been tampered with—tear marks, and so forth.

Pass the popcorn!

It's quiet—too quiet... 

Anyone else get that feeling? Not just for the Fourth of July weekend, but generally? Have the feeling that something is going to shake loose, but we just don't know what?

NOTE Props to Xan for putting the words to my feeling....

America's Spiritual Leader speaks: 

More bizarre theological ramblings from Inerrant Boy. It's starting to make me wonder if this "United Methodist" thing is just a cover story for whatever bizarre cult He does belong to. Aside from His own cult, that is:

In a magazine interview, President Bush said evil people can become good, but as for al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden, "This guy's soul is so corroded, there's just no way."

"As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing redeemable about him," the president told Ladies' Home Journal in an April interview.
(via AP)

Case closed, huh?

I guess it's good that Bush has given God Her marching orders, eh? Just to make sure there's no lack of moral clarity.

Then again, His reasoning (heh) does seem a little bizarre. I mean, if God's powers are infinite, surely She can redeem even Saddam? But what do I know, I, like Karl Rove, am a lapsed Episcopalian, if that's not a redundant expression....

"Claudia" cheese from Green Valley Dairy at Reading Terminal 



Cheese made from organic raw milk.

Milk from grass-fed cows.

No chemicals, drugs, or hormones.

Absolutely world-class. I can taste the grass and the minerals from le terroir.

Good cheese is really the antithesis of terrorism, isn't it? One can't imagine any of our ideologues, on any of the multifarious sides, settling down to make better soft cheeses than the French.


Bush torture policies: Karpinksi saw documents from Sanchez and Rummy that OKed torture 

Karpinski (as alert reader sid the fish puts it) is "singing like a canary." And isn't this a beautiful sound:

[Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski], the former head of the U.S. prison system in Iraq, told The Signal this week that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally authorized the same types of coercive interrogation methods for detainees at Abu Ghraib that he approved for use on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

The Pentagon denied the assertion Thursday.

[SIGNAL] Are there documents showing Donald Rumsfeld also approved particular interrogation techniques for Abu Ghraib?

[KARPINSKI] I did not see it personally (at the time), but since all of this has come out, I have not only seen, but I've been asked about some of those documents, that he signed and agreed to.

[SIGNAL] About Abu Ghraib?

[KARPINSKI] Yes. About using the same techniques that were successful in Guantanamo Bay, at Abu Ghraib.

[SIGNAL] Those documents have not been released yet?


[SIGNAL] What can you characterize about [documents authorizing special interrogation techniques]?

[KARPINSKI] I know that [Military Intelligence commander] Col. [Thomas M.] Pappas, on three occasions, sent a request to Gen. Sanchez to escalate their interrogations, and that involved using — and he lists them. And in one case he said they wanted to use dogs, and they wanted to increase the length of time that they could be isolated, food deprivation, that kind of — sleep deprivation. And in at least two of those cases, there is a signature of approval from Gen. Sanchez.

[SIGNAL] And you've seen those documents?

[KARPINSKI] Yes I have.

(via, of all places, The Santa Clarita Signal)

Hey, freedom's untidy!

Say, I wonder if Rummy got approval from Bush? And was the approval in writing?

The Wecovery: The tiny-brained folk finally start to get that the labor market is tanking 

Of course, journalism isn't so easy to outsource, so the MWs have been safe. But it looks like the SCLM is finally starting to question the jobs numbers, and what they mean. Sheesh! How long has Atrios been writing that "Lucky Duckies" headline? Over a year, I think. And how long as the Wecovery been a fake and a fraud—for everything except the corporate bottom line? As long as it's been happening. Anyhow, the idea that something might be wrong has finally started to penetrate the tiny brains of reporters at the Times:

Job growth slowed sharply in June, the government reported yesterday, pulling back from a recent period of strong employment gains and casting doubt on the vigor of the nation's economic expansion.

The Labor Department reported that employers added only 112,000 jobs in June, less than half the average monthly increase of the first five months of the year.

The reported increase, which includes adjustments intended to account for normal seasonal variations, was under the 150,000 threshold of jobs needed for employment to keep pace with natural labor force growth. It was also well below the 250,000 forecast on average by Wall Street economists, who have been consistently wrong about jobs for the better part of the last year.

Gee, I wonder why? Do they just want to support Bush, or are is it some form of market manipulation?

The unemployment rate, which essentially has not budged all year, remained unchanged from May at 5.6 percent.

"It's pretty clear the economy downshifted in June," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist of Wells Fargo & Company in Minneapolis.

Now comes the "balance" part:

"It will take more than one weak month to convince us that the economy is struggling," said Henry Willmore, chief United States economist at Barclays Capital.

At the White House, where President Bush spoke before a group of small-business owners, Mr. Bush sought to cast the new job figures in a positive light. "The jobs increased by 112,000 in June, which means we've had a total of 1.5 million new jobs since last August," the president said. "To me, that shows the steady growth."

N. Gregory Mankiw, the White House's chief economic adviser, dismissed the job report as an aberration.
(via the flaccidly written, slow to react, and unevenly edited not-the-Los Angeles Times)

Translation: Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lyin' eyes?

Kristof outdoes himself 

I don't know why I keep reading the Times, I really don't. (Except for Paul Krugman, and Metropolitan Diary.) It's a sort of horrified fascination. It reminds me of that Laurel and Hardy movie, where Stan and Ollie are moving a piano. You want to say, "No! Don't try to move the piano down the fifty-flight stair!" but they do anyhow, and of course they lose control of the piano, and down the hill the piano goes, jangling and pinging and twanging. And disintegrating. Just like the Times. There's been a lot of jangling and pinging and twanging on the Op-Ed pages lately, and Kristof provides a prime example of it today. In an otherwise unexceptional piece about the administration's ignorance of anything Iraqi, Kristof writes:

I'm not a big fan of Al Jazeera, which tends to be emotional and nationalistic.
(via the poor old Pulitzer light and increasingly marginal not-the-Los AngelesTimes)


Maybe Kristof can tell me what, in the run up to the war, the US press was, other than "emotional" and "nationalistic"? And utterly enabling of the Bush agenda for war? Sheesh!

UPDATE Alert reader sid the fish has an excellent desconstruction of the way our "free press" covered the story of pulling down Saddam's statue. Not a pretty sight.

The time for liberals to be polite has long since passed 

And much as I've liked Ellen Goodman's work over the years, I thnk she's yearning for a time long past. Anyhow, she went to see F911 and this was her reaction:

But halfway through "Fahrenheit 9/11," I realized this wasn't an audience, it was a fan club. They weren't watching the movie, they were rooting for it.

If the right is after him, does the choir have to sing the filmmaker's praises as our own cuddly and amusing pit bull?

Michael Moore has been called the left-wing answer to Rush Limbaugh. Rush without the OxyContin. But is it heresy to ask whether the left actually wants its own Rush?

To which my answer is, "Hell yes!" The left doesn't need 10 million listeners? WTF?!

Politics isn't polarized between ideas as much as it is divided between teams in an endless color war. The famous geopolitical map of 2000 painted the states red and blue. Now we have added red and blue talkmeisters, red and blue books, red and blue movies.

Which happened... Well, why, exactly? What Goodman's overly balanced commentary ignores is that the winger authors were funded, by Scaife and the other VWRCers, and given loads of free publicity by media whores in all the major outlets. So, when liberals—surprise!—start using free market mechanisms—like selling books that don't rely on bulk purchases—to redress this unjust imbalance, somehow this is construed as "polarization." I don't buy this little piece of old-time liberal self-flagellation, thanks very much. I still want payback for the Clinton coup, since the people who perpretrated it are still benefitting from it. After we stomp them, then we'll forgive them.

Moore described his movie as an "op-ed piece," not a documentary. Well, I know something about op-ed pieces. Over the long run, you don't get anywhere just whacking your audience upside the head; you try to change the mind within it. You don't just go for the gut. You try, gulp, reason.

Well, politics is the art of the possible, eh? And looking at the record of the Bush administration and the wingers who back it, I don't see a lot of upside potential for reasoning with them. And if we are to reason with them, the first thing we're going to have to do is get their attention. Which Moore (and Stern, for that matter) are doing. More power to them!

I actually agree with P.J. O'Rourke, a conservative who writes in the Atlantic that he tunes out Rush because there's no room for measured debate: "Arguing, in the sense of attempting to convince others, has gone out of fashion with conservatives." But now liberals are trudging purposefully down the same low road.

Sure. After Rush and his ilk take over the airwaves, and after the wingers organize the coup against Clinton, and after the Bush operatives steal the 2000 election, typist O'Rourke wants a measured debate. Measure this, PJ....

In the election between Bush and Anybody But Bush, reason and civility are now designated for wimps. But what happens to the country when the left only meets the right at the American jugular?

The name of Moore's production company, you may recall, is Dog Eat Dog.
(via WaPo)

Your point, Ellen? Beyond a wistful feeling for what might have been?

Liberals didn't start this... But we may have to finish it. And if it's not a pretty sight... So what?

Bush torture policies: Israelis at Abu Ghraib? 

Karpinski fires a warning shot at the higher-ups who want to throw her to the wolves:

The U.S. general who was in charge of Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison said on Saturday she had met an Israeli interrogator in Iraq, a controversial allegation likely to irritate many in the Arab world.

A U.S. military spokesman in Washington said he had no information and an Israeli official denied Israel was involved.

Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski, who was responsible for military police guarding all Iraqi jails at the time prisoners were abused by U.S. troops there, told the BBC she met the Israeli at a Baghdad interrogation center.

"He was clearly from the Middle East and he said: 'Well, I do some of the interrogation here and of course I speak Arabic, but I'm not an Arab. I'm from Israel'," she said.
(via UPI)

Well, well. And the Israelis, who also believe that we lost the Iraqi war a year ago, and have gone to their plan B, whatever it is, are also supporting Kurdish separatists.... It would be nice if the administration came clean on how tight its ties to Israel in the war are, wouldn't it? I won't hold my breath.

Good question... 

Pansypoo tipped me off to the statement below. Which she gleaned from a web comment forum, and was made, apparently, as I understand it, by someone calling into an NPR program during a discussion of electronic voting technology.

"I want to know why banks can put an ATM machine in every sleazy convenience store in the land, have them dispense money, take deposits, give you a valid receipt and do it all in 20 seconds and do it accurately and simply....... and yet when we voters ask for a simple receipt for our vote we get some crap about "It's to complicated".

Yeah, I'd like to know that too. Especially when some boiler room callbank telephone truckle, representing one or another thieving harpy credit card corporation extortion racket, can be on the horn the minute a late payment threatens to undermine the very existence of western "free market" corporate capitalism - and recall every financial transaction you've conducted since Ronald Reagan declared the savings and loan industry a unreined profligate greed grope - remind you what the name of your pet turtle was in 1983 (really, I had a turtle named Shelly!? I'd almost forgotten. Gee.) - and basically do it all from a sweaty Office Tiger bunker half way around the world. Well, ya know, one would think some cluck could at least fashion a way to verify who you voted for five fook-yerself Cheney minutes ago. One would think.

But oh no! Such a complex and expensive transaction would require mystical revelations hurled down upon us by the shiny blinking gods of high technology. Or the mining of some vast complicated wellspring of knowledge not yet tapped by modern humankind! Perhaps even undermining grave national security priorities like trying to colonize Mars with little remote control all terrain vehicles or rolling up criminal networks of twelve year old girls downloading pop ditties from shadowy undisclosed online outposts.

Plus, issuing receipts to voters would require just one more bloated government regulated social prorgam which would no doubt threaten the very existence of western "free market" capitalism as we know it. Yup. Sure it would.


Friday, July 02, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Philadelphia is where many important sites of the Revolution are located. For awhile, I used to use the terminals at the "Independence Branch" of the Philadelphia Free Library—so called, because it is next door to the house, then located in what we would today call the suburbs, being located all of 10 blocks from the riverfront, where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. The house is a national park, the smallest one in the entire country, and it has a national park Ranger all its own.

Of course, Independence Hall is also in Philly.

It, too, is a national park, but here the influence of the Rangers is not nearly so benign. Citing terrorism, they've gradually begun to cut people off from Independence Hall. Now they are channelling people through these incredibly ugly steel barriers, but what they really want to do is hide the entire Hall behind a high wall.

That's crazy. This is building where the Constiution that expresses our liberties was written. It's crazy to cut the people off from it; the same impulse, but more grotesquely, is channellling visitors to the Capitol in DC into an underground, bunker-like, museum, instead of letting them see the real thing.

Yes, it's crazy. A building is just a building. So, the terrorists blow it up. You know what? We'll build another one. The Germans have done that for Dresden. But our liberties, and the Germans know this too, once destroyed, will be far harder to rebuild than any building can be. Night, all.

Cold As Ice 

(via WaPo business section)
A report by an influential consulting firm is exhorting U.S. companies to speed up "offshoring" operations to China and India, including high-powered functions such as research and development.

In blunt terms, the report by the Boston Consulting Group warns American firms that they risk extinction if they hesitate in shifting facilities to countries with low costs. That is partly because the potential savings are so vast, but the report also cites a view among U.S. executives that the quality of American workers is deteriorating.

"The largest competitive advantage will lie with those companies that move soonest," the report states.

Boston Consulting, which counts among its clients many of the biggest corporations in the United States, admonishes them that they have been too reluctant rather than too eager to outsource production to "LCC's," or low-cost countries.

The report, released in May, has gone almost unnoticed amid generally upbeat news as strong economic growth has begun fueling an increase in jobs, diminishing public debate about offshoring.

Particularly troubling is the report's information about confidential discussions with executives at Boston Consulting's client companies, many of whom conveyed low opinions of their American employees compared with labor available abroad.

The report advises that some products should not be moved overseas, such as those where there is a high risk of stealing patents and copyrights.
OH-kay, who's been getting uppity again? Mr. Legree, the whip please.

July 2, 1863 

In some circles of my life, the events of July 4, 1776 are noted as afterthoughts to the events of July 1-3, 1863.

People sling the term "culture war" around rather casually sometimes. "Civil War" is another one people (and also Robert Novak) like to use to impress others with their knowledge of history as well as the significance of whatever issue they're ranting on.

Such people piss me off. THIS is what Civil War means:

An excerpt from the diary of Sgt Thomas Ware, Co. G, 15th Georgia Infantry
July 2d, Thursday, 1863

We received orders to be ready to march at 7 O'clock. Soon we were in marching order and left for the Scene of action. Passing through Cashtown and marching one hour we came in sight of Gettysburg. Here we rested in an old field until 2 O'clock, at which time we left to Attack the Enemy. After passing through a very heavy shelling for 20 minutes we rested and then formed a line of battle .we charged the enemy, driving them from their position .
At this point the handwriting changes.
Here at the foot of the mountain the engagement became general & fierce & lasted until 8 O'clock at night. And in the third & last charge the fatal blow was struck.My brother: You have offered your life as a sacrifise upon your country's Altar.Today concludes the term of life of my Brother. He now sleeps upon the battle field of Gettysburg

There Brothers, Fathers, small & great,
Partake the same repose
There in peace the ashes mix
Of those who were once foes .

Many of our brother soldiers whose life was made a sacrifise upon our
country's altar. There the weeping willow gently waves over his grave. And there we prayed that God would guard and protect that little mound.

Robert Ware

Thomas Ware was killed in the action on July 2. His younger brother Robert took the diary from Thomas's haversack and continued the daily entries,recording his brother's death in the battle.

It's Jodi Wil-whore-'em on the line! Get me rewrite! 

Probably the world's greatest newspaper will fix it, but Jodi's latest Goring of Kerry ends exactly like this:

Mr. Kerry also occasionally invokes God, either when talking about his own recovery from prostate can-
(via World's Greatest Newspaper (not!))

Yep! Cut off right in in mid-sentence, at a discretionary hyphen.

But isn't it a shame that the editors didn't slash the story just a little higher up—like immediately before the first character... I mean, that wouldn't restore the Time's rapidly vanishing credibility on national campaign coverage, but at least it wouldn't worsen things for them.

The draft: For a moment, the Times joins the proles 

They put on the tinfoil hat! OK!

[T]alk of reinstating the military draft persists around the country, driven by the Internet, high-profile moves by the military to shore up its forces and fears that all those solid reassurances about no need for conscription could quickly melt away if world events took a turn for the worse.

"People think it is some big government conspiracy," said Harald Stavenas, a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee, which gets its share of draft questions as well.
(via NY Times)

Fancy that!

Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, says unease about the prospect of a draft surfaces frequently in his travels around the country. He says unwillingness to accept official reassurances is attributable to public cynicism about the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq.

"I think it is skepticism that we have been misled so many times about this war: weapons of mass destruction, ties to Al Qaeda, a cakewalk," said Mr. Korb, now at the liberal Center for American Progress. "People are clearly worried and figure, `They are just waiting until the election is over to spring the bad news on us.' "

No! They would never do that! (And isn't it a measure of the radicalism of Inerrant Boy's junta that a Reagan defense official is working for a liberal think tank?

He and others said this could appear to those people to be nothing less than logical progression, after the military's resorting to an extension of tours of duty and the recall of former active-duty soldiers.

It's hard to spot any flaws in that logic, isn't it? Seems to me it's another case where people outside the Beltway are smarter than the MWs inside the Beltway...

"Everyone says, `We've got young children, and we don't want them in the draft,' " said Bill Ghent, a spokesman for Senator Thomas R. Carper, Democrat of Delaware.

A telling indicator of the separation between the people and "their" government, eh?

You really must see... 

Fahrenheit 911.

You really should. It makes a very effective argument against Drinky McDumbass's morally corrupt regime. I tend to agree with Krugman's take on the film overall and Moore does push some unfounded conspiracy theories a bit too far but the totality of the argument holds together quite well. The final half an hour or so is quite devastating.

I drove 100 miles and saw it yesterday at 4:45 in Kansas City. The theater was 85% full or so -- and the crowd stood, clapped, and cheered at the end. This is quite a phenomenon folks.

I mean, hell, of course it won't make as much money as such corporate b.s. fare as Spiderman 2 but who really wants it to do that, anyway?

Republicans and Telephones...A Troubling Trend 

Remember Lambert's catch back here the other day about the Republican consultant who thought it was a funny funny joke to jam up the Democrat's phone lines one election day in New Hampshire?

And then remember the slimy little Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee who played a funny funny joke surreptitiously reading Democratic Senators memos on judiciary appointments? (Wonder what ever happened to the Pickle Report? Must check up on that this weekend.)

Anyway, now we have a third incident of funny funny jokes with other people's telecommunications equipment. Like Incident #1 above it involves Republicans in Virginia, but this time it wasn't some "bad apple consultant" but right in the party offices themselves:
(via Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
Virginia Democrats have pulled the state police and a federal prosecutor into their eavesdropping lawsuit against the Republican Party...

The controversy began in 2002 when the Republican Party of Virginia's top staffer secretly listened to and taped a pair of Democratic conference calls.

More than 30 former and current Democratic legislators have filed suit against the RPV, arguing it bears responsibility for its former executive director, Edmund A. Matricardi III of Spotsylvania County, who eavesdropped on the Democratic teleconferences.
Checking between Lambert's story and this one I don't see any overlap of names. And Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania County is halfway to Richmond, meaning it's just an "outer suburb" of DC these days whereas Alexandria is right on the Potomac. I'm sure it's just a case of "great minds think alike" and not an item from a 2002 strategy paper from Karl Rove's office to local officials.

However, that doesn't mean we don't want to hear about it in case YOUR local paper carries an item on this topic that may not make the Major Media Outlets. RoveGrubs are like termites: one is a random stray blown in on the wind. Two means you need to talk to your neighbors. Three means call the exterminator yourself, like yesterday.

The petition to remove Rush Limbaugh from Armed Forces radio 


What I can't figure out is why a drug addict who's been divorced three times would support a Godly man like Our President....

UPDATE Alert reader Hobson asks:

Al Franken said he was going to start a petition to have the O'franken Factor put on Armed Forces Radio to balance the Man with the Golden Arm. But I can't find it on Air America's sight. Anyone know anything?

Now that's a petition I'd sign. Readers?

It's Friday—Are you wearing red? 

Here's a paragraph from an article in Counterpunch titled "Is our president a whack job"?[1]:

Here in the States there is now a trend of wearing red on Fridays in silent protest of the Bush junta. Reportedly, this is modeled after a 1940 practice by citizens of Nazi occupied Norway, though it is hard to imagine why oppressed Norwegians would do anything that might make them stand out to their oppressors. Still, urban legend or not, it's all over the Internet and one would suppose quite a few people on the "left-coast" are sporting red. By now, it's probably old hat out there.
(via CounterPunch)

Interesting idea. Is this "trend" an urban legend, a nascent IndyMedia meme, or are people actually doing it? Readers?

[1]Yes. See "Having a beer with a nut job", some months ago.

Howard Stern on George Bush 


Nothing the blogosphere hasn't seen, but it's nice that Stern's millions of swing voters now have these resources available to them.

There is a nice article by Hunter Thompson on why the heck Bush said he slept through the (Janet-Jackson-nipple-exposing) Superbowl... I wish someone would fund The Good Doctor to write "Fear on Loathing on the Campaign Trail, 2004." We surely need it.

"Death on the Fourth of July" 

Orcinus has a new book: It's on the stands now.. Excellent!

The Wecovery: Jobs tanking again 

A "surprise" to everyone but us:

The Labor Department said the economy created 112,000 jobs in June, less than half the number economists expected. After three months of strong job growth, the latest report was a letdown to many investors, though those worried about inflation may have found some consolation in the data, as less jobs means weaker demand for goods and less pricing pressure.

The nation's unemployment rate remained steady at 5.6 percent, the Labor Department said, though the number of new jobs in the manufacturing sector, a key barometer of economic growth, dropped by 11,000. Average hourly wages climbed by a less-than-expected 0.1 percent.
(via AP)

When will these clowns own up, and admit that high unenployment and stagnant wages are not accidental or mysterious, but the result of Bush policies? (see back "A touch of the overseer's lash") Remember also that we need 140,000 new jobs to stay even with population growth, so our net under Bush just gets worse and worse.

Goodnight, moon 

Still feel like these huge, tectonic shifts are going on, but so far silently. The earth is changing beneath us, but way down deep. Dunno. Who knows what the outcome will be?

And I almost forgot. Dick, Fuck you. Maybe now I'll be able to sleep....

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Kristof's thumbsucker 

Damn pitiful, even for a Times professional. And it looks like "Nick" is vying with "Dave" for the coveted sobriquet "I'm writing as bad as I can"! Read on:

I'm against [tagging Bush with] the "liar" label for two reasons. First, it further polarizes the political cesspool, and this polarization is making America increasingly difficult to govern. Second, insults and rage impede understanding.
(via NY Times)

Let's leave that horrible mixed metaphor—"polarized cesspool"—aside. After all, if running an electric current through a pile of shit accomplished anything, there might be hope for this administration yet.

No, the amazing thing about this piece of typing from Kristof was that he didn't bother to inquire if Bush might actually, well, be a liar.

I Googled the Corrente archives on "Bush lies," and came up with a few old favorites: One is where He said He doesn't read the papers, but His own wife outs Him, and says "of course" He does. And who can forget the time He fell of his bike, and His press secretary said "It's been raining a lot, and the topsoil is loose," wnen it hadn't rained for a week? And, best of all, remember the touching "lump in the bed" poem, which Wuara (again) admits He didn't write, after all?

OK, so Bush only lied on the first one. His flak and His wife lied on the others. But POTL tend to congregate together, eh?

Remember when Kristof went to Thailand and bought two prostitutes, then set them free? Why the heck didn't he try the same gambit in the Times news room? Maybe that would have done some good....

Krugman: Thumbs up for Fahrenheit 911 

A fair and balanced review:

Mr. Moore may not be considered respectable, but his film is a hit because the respectable media haven't been doing their job.

For example, audiences are shocked by the now-famous seven minutes, when George Bush knew the nation was under attack but continued reading "My Pet Goat" with a group of children. Nobody had told them that the tales of Mr. Bush's decisiveness and bravery on that day were pure fiction.

Someday, when the crisis of American democracy is over, I'll probably find myself berating Mr. Moore, who supported Ralph Nader in 2000, for his simplistic antiglobalization views.

But not now. "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a tendentious, flawed movie, but it tells essential truths about leaders who exploited a national tragedy for political gain, and the ordinary Americans who paid the price.
(via NY Times)

Damn. Guess I've got to go see it.

Useful Idiot II 

It actually pains me to call Robert Novak anything as flattering as "idiot," but I bow to Tresey for handing off an easy lead-in headline. This is from Monday, but I get behind on stuff during the week, and I haven't seen this cited anyplace else in the blogosphere so it may not reek of decay yet.

Of course this being Novak it reeks of other things: false piety, unattributed assertions, and a complete reversal of rightness in all forms. But if you reverse the sign, as they say in math, on all the value judgement-laden words, it's interesting:
WASHINGTON -- Before Congress left town Friday for its Fourth of July recess, Rep. Bill Thomas of California pulled off one of his patented legislative assassinations. Washington's most cunning parliamentarian, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Thomas eradicated the Freedom of Speech in Churches Act without openly opposing it. In the process, he fired an early shot in a destructive civil war looming for Republicans.

The bill would stop the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from using existing statutes to muzzle clergymen who talk politics in their churches. That stoppage is pressed by Christian conservatives, who say they have been discriminated against by federal enforcers. While the free speech initiative is supported by Republican leaders, Thomas made short work of it. He transformed the proposal into a hybrid that neither friend nor foe could support.

Thomas has brought into the open internecine warfare posing grave dangers for the Republican Party. A 13-term congressman who is the party boss of Bakersfield, Calif., he represents old-line Republicans who resent Christian conservatives entering their party in 1980 (and giving the GOP parity with Democrats). Efforts to expel these intruders will reach fever pitch next year if George W. Bush is defeated for re-election.
Read the link if you're actually interested in details on this maneuver, or happen to be feeling bulemic. But get a load of the end here:
Thomas is a secularist who in the past jousted with a fellow senior Republican Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, a prominent Catholic layman, over federal aid to Catholic hospitals. A former college professor, Bill Thomas is entitled to his own views, but today's Republican Party relies on support not from secular Americans but from church-goers. Walter Jones, not intimidated by Thomas, told me: "Discretionary enforcement, primarily against conservative churches, of an unenforceable law is wrong and should not stand." That is a battle cry for the coming Republican civil war.
Catch the contrast there? Henry Hyde, "prominent Catholic layman." You can almost hear the heavenly choir open up at the mention of his name. Bill Thomas, "former college professor." Boo hiss! Cross the street to avoid him! Heathen for sure and probably a communist besides! Corrupter of the young! Probably has cooties too!

Bob Novak is a man who knowingly announced the name of an undercover American agent to the public, exposing her and everyone who ever talked to her to possible retribution up to and including death. Just the kinda guy I trust for moral evaluations.

Useful Idiots 

Bob Somerby points us to Richard Cohen's latest contribution to the Liberal Hall of Stupidity, following hard on the heels of Nick Kristof's offering from yesterday. I'm not going to quote either, for fear of causing Blogger to crash with a NULL pointer exception. Suffice it to say that Cohen finds Moore's movie to say nothing new, while simultaneously being full of conspiracy theories, an interesting feat in its own right. Said conspiacies include suggesting that the Administration's stated motives for going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq are at variance with the truth.

Really? Moore implies that the Bush people only attacked the Taliban reluctantly, letting Osama get away in a rush to carry the war to Iraq. How crazy is that?

Relying on little more than the unchallenged testimony of Richard Clarke and the public record, a brief timeline of Bush Administration policy goes something like this: Upon assuming office, the Bush people immediately set about figuring out how to overthrow Saddam Hussein by force; they were unable to make the case publicly at first; 9/11 provided a longed-for pretext. In fact, Rumsfeld and others didn't want to attack Afghanistan at all in the wake of 9/11, preferring Iraq, despite a lack of evidence, because it was "target rich." The ulimate rationale for war, WMDs, was settled upon not because it was proven, but because it was the one that made the easiest sell to the public. Diplomatic overtures were nothing but a pro forma sham. Once Saddam was overthrown, the Administration made no immediate search for WMDs and protected only one Iraq ministry, the oil ministry, while the rest of its public infrastructure was looted. Since then, contracts have gone almost exclusively to Bush cronies and contributors.

Ironically, few if any of these details are in Fahrenheit 9/11, even though they support its account. Apparently for Cohen it's not enough to partially document Bush's lies and evasions about his reasons for going to war, you have to arrive at the approved actual motivations. Basically his outrage takes this form:

Moore: "Bush lied! He took us to war over oil!"
Cohen: "He lied, but you can't say why, since they refuse to tell the truth. You are bad person for arriving at this unwarranted conclusion!"

This sudden scrupulosity is especially rich coming from a "liberal" columnist who credulously repeated endless lies about Clinton and Gore for 8 solid years. Any time Cohen wants to grow a spine and give us the Rosetta stone that decodes the Administration lies of the last 3 1/2 years, he is welcome to do so. But until then, he can go Cheney himself.

Bush AWOL: Heating up, and going more mainstream? 

And about time! WaPo's Froomkin cites Orcinus who points to this:

An examination of the Bush military files within the context of US Statutory Law, Department of Defense regulations, and Air Force policies and procedures of that era lead to a single conclusion: George W. Bush was considered a deserter by the United States Air Force.
(via The AWOL Project)

Guess I've got to stop tagging Bush "Inerrant Boy" (a pun, BTW, on "errand boy") and start with the "aWol" again!

Of course, it will be interesting to know how AP's suit for the microfilm of Bush's military records turns out. Presumably, that record is harder for Bush operatives to fillet. But we won't know 'til we see, eh?

Pass the popcorn!

Republican theft of democracy: A little guy gets thrown to the wolves in New Hampshire 

The Republicans stop at nothing, as we already know from Florida 2000. But they were up to the same dirty tricks in 2002. And one of them got caught. This looks like good news, but look at the detail:

The former head a Republican consulting group pleaded guilty to jamming Democratic telephone lines in several New Hampshire cities during the 2002 general election.

Allen Raymond, former president of the Alexandria, Va.-based GOP Marketplace LLC, waived indictment...

Hmmm... Wonder what they didn't want to come out in court? Of course, if this were a crime family, instead of the Republican party, I'm sure that Raymond would be confident of being well taken care of in exchange for keeping his mouth shut.

... and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Concord on Wednesday. Judge Joseph A. DiClerico Jr. released Raymond on his own recognizance pending sentencing in November.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department, which prosecuted the case, said an investigation into the telephone jamming continues.

According to court papers, Raymond plotted with unidentified co-conspirators...

Well, well. I wonder who?

... to jam Democratic Party telephone lines established so voters could call for rides to the polls in Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Claremont. Manchester firefighters' union phone lines also were affected.
(via AP)

I wonder if the DOJ will have a result from their continuing investigation in time for November 2004?

Smoke in the Sanctuary 

Some folks have mobilized to keep an eye on the latest incursions of partisanship into the pulpit. And can we point out to those who claim this is "no different from Democrats working the black churches for votes, nyah nyah nyah so there!" that, well, yes it is.

(via Kansas City Star)
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - A group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state plans to send volunteers to Johnson County church services starting in July to make sure there's no election-year campaigning from the pulpit.

[A] Johnson County-based group called The Mainstream Coalition, headed by Caroline McKnight, is sending letters to more than 400 churches in the county reminding them of the IRS rules on campaigning.

McKnight said Johnson and other ministers need to keep partisan politics out of their sermons.

"His job is to lead his flock by setting an example ... not by bringing the smoke-filled room into his sanctuary," McKnight said.
So these ministers are becoming politically active to promote the teachings of their faith, like help for the poor and opposition to war and humility of spirit? All that Sermon-on-the-Mount-y stuff? Let's check:
Johnston has been distributing a pamphlet with background information on incumbent state legislators and their voting records on the gay marriage amendment and abortion issues.
The ironic thing here is who the target of the minister's outrage is:
Rep. John Ballou, R-Gardner, believes his re-election bid could face the wrath of the congregations, since he voted against the gay marriage amendment.

[Rev.] Johnston said Mainstream Coalition members are welcome at his church, though he added that they won't find the ministers doing anything wrong.

"Are we going to violate the law? Of course not," Johnston said. "We're not rabid, crazy fanatics."
So by targeting what may be the last decent Republican left in Kansas, they can claim this is "non-partisan"? Nice try, but we can hope this gets the message through to the other real Republicans out there that their party has been hijacked by people with another agenda.

Bush campaign using church directories to target voters 

Sheesh. Looks like for Bush and his fellow Jeebofascists, there's no line between campaigning and proselytization:

The Bush-Cheney reelection campaign has sent a detailed plan of action to religious volunteers across the country asking them to turn over church directories to the campaign, distribute issue guides in their churches and persuade their pastors to hold voter registration drives.
(via WaPo)

You know, years ago when I was an Episcopalian, another member of the church used the church directory as a marketing tool for his small business, and started making cold calls using it. The guy was shunned; many experienced his use of their information as a defilement. After all, I gave my name to the church to help the parish, not to help this guy make a profit! So how is what the Republicans are doing any different? Is there anything that they touch that they don't defile? Yech!

Oh, but wait. I forgot. Since He has been chosen of God to be our Leader, it's OK! Now I feel better.

Good Morning Starshine 

So I get here this morning and find nothing new posted. Not even a late-night "Goodnight Moon" like usual. Has Lambert done a TANG and gone AWOL on us? Did he get hit in the head by an illicit flying skateboard in LOVE Park yesterday? Is he caught up in the Philly corruption arrests? Was there an incident of a Weapons of Mass Fireworks Program Related Activities nature?

Beats me. I've got some stuff from hither and yon I'll get up momentarily to keep the news flowing and outrage levels up. Consider this an open thread, although since Lambert's not around feel free to speculate on his current whereabouts. Just keep it clean, we don't want to go all Cheney on his ass.

UPDATE: My great sense of timing strikes again. Hiya Lambert, eh, well, sure glad yer okay, I'll just be puttering around this woodshed out back. I see some brush that needs clearing, heh heh...

The Wecovery: If this is a recovery, where are the jobs? 

Get a load of this. Why do any of these analysts have any credibility any more?

The number of new people signing up for jobless benefits rose slightly last week, although the overall pace of recent applications suggests the labor market remains in recovery mode.
(via AP)

Well, well. I thought the job market was booming? But wait! There's cause for optimism!

Still, when compared to the same week last year, the latest figures clearly showed that the pace of layoffs has moderated considerably.

Now I feel better!

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I (Heart) New York 

Proving once again that the best political coverage in the NYT comes from the business and sports writers, not those soiled doves in the political and foreign-affairs desks:
(via NYT Sports Department:

Maybe the Yankees, so dominant since their last series with the Red Sox, were cowering again. Maybe they would embarrass their principal owner, George Steinbrenner, on a night when he entertained Vice President Dick Cheney, Gov. George E. Pataki and the former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in his private box behind home plate.

Maybe not. By the fourth inning, the fans were cheering an eventual 11-3 Yankees victory. In the seventh inning, during Ronan Tynan's "God Bless America," they booed the sight of Cheney on the right-field video screen.

My hardest decisions during baseball season comes during (boo, hiss) "interleague play" when the Yankees are playing the Mets. Who do I want to lose more? is the challenge.

Not this year. I declare as a die-hard Yankee fan until the day they meet the Cubs in the World Series.

Why George Bush Goes To Bed Early 

Well, besides needing his beauty sleep we mean. Which hasn't been having quite the revivifying effect lately that it used to; he might want to consider adding Oil of Uday, er, we mean Olay, to his skin-care routine. But the REAL reason...(drumroll)...It's so he doesn't have to watch Letterman.

(via Froomkin)

"Top Ten George W. Bush Complaints About 'Fahrenheit 9/11'

"10. That actor who played the president was totally unconvincing.

"9. It oversimplified the way I stole the election.

"8. Too many of them fancy college-boy words

"7. If Michael Moore had waited a few months, he could have included the part where I get him deported.

"6. Didn't have one of them hilarious monkeys who smoke cigarettes and gives people the finger.

"5. Of all Michael Moore's accusations, only 97% are true.

"4. Not sure -- I passed out after a piece of popcorn lodged in my windpipe.

"3. Where the hell was Spiderman?

"2. Couldn't hear most of the movie over Cheney's foul mouth.

"1. I thought this was supposed to be about dodgeball!"

Never Again! 

How often in the last ninety years has that been said collectively by humankind? Maybe if it feels like deja vu all over again that's because it keeps on happening.

At the end of the WW2 , there were a lot of "never agains" sworn to. Despite new institutions like the UN, and new treaties like NATO, the world watched impotently as the Hungarian uprising was crushed by Soviet tanks, as colonialism came to a bloody end in Algeria, and Southeast Asia, and the Congo, as Arab countries attacked Israel, and Israel drove Palestinians into refugee camps, and as Idi Amin completed the post-colonial ethnic cleansing of Ugandan citizens of Indian descent; the world community had few answers for the Vietnamese boat people, or the genocide in Cambodia, or China’s cultural revolution, or the death squads in Latin America, or ethnic cleaning in Ethiopia and Somalia, genocidal civil war in the Sudan, proxy wars fought by child soldiers in Angola and Mozambique, the gassing of the Kurds in Iraq, not once, but twice, and in the last decade of the century, we had ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, complete with mass executions and rape camps, Serbian suppression of the most basic human rights of the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo; in Rwanda, an almost classic example of genocide was ignored until too late; North Korea continued to be its own special kind of horror, and now, in the first decade of a new century, we have the Sudan, again, the Darfur province on the border of Chad...the newest challenge to our many oaths of "never again."

We've done better with the nuclear genie than my cold war generation raised on drop drills and nuclear weapons tests in nearby deserts could have imagined, and much less well dealing with those other horrors we thought we'd left behind in the first half of the twentieth century.

We need to think about why. This is an international conversation we need to have. But not now.

Now, all that matters is that the world community acts to prevent the already mainly completed violent ethnic cleansing of black tribal Sudanese Muslims from their villages in Darfu, accompanied by a scorched earth policy that leaves no sign of human habitation, homes and food supplies destroyed, fields left unfit for tilling, does not turn into another of those horror-filled genocides the reality of which we only seem to grasp after it is too late. It is very nearly too late already. But not quite.

I attempted to unthread some of the confusing complexities of the situation in the Sudan in a previous, briefer post here. A decades-long lethal conflict between the Muslim north and the largely Christian south has only recently begun to be resolved, with a north/south peace agreement, brokered, in part, by the Bush administration, working with the UN, and others within the international human rights community.

Darfur is in the west; it's people are Muslim, but they are also ethnically tribal black Africans. The poorest region in the Sudan, marginalized economically by the central government, in recent years, territorial encroachments by marauding militias of nomadic Arab tribesmen proved to be the last straw. The people of Darfur mounted an armed response to the militias and the newly formed Sudanese Liberation Army, in consort with another group known as JEM (Justice & Equality Movement) demanded from Khartoum the end of Darfur's economic isolation, and protection from the increasingly savage raids by Sudanese Arab militias operating out of the north.

Neither negotiating with the rebels, nor engaging with them militarily, the government, instead, encouraged the Arab militias to step up their attacks on the civilian population, and, as we are beginning to be able to verify, it joined in the attacks. Thousands of civilians have been killed. The rest, largely the elderly, women and children have been driven to the border areas between the Sudan and Chad. There they have neither shelter, nor any means to safely dispose of human waste, nor drinkable water, nor food, nor, of course, medicine. And perhaps the final outrage, the government of Sudan denies everything, claims there is no ethnic cleansing, no militias, and has successfully restricted access into Darfur by both the media and humanitarian NGOs seeking to help the refugees.

The most authoritative and up-to-date commentary on the situation I've yet come across was broadcast two weeks ago on Bill Moyers' NOW on PBS. David Branccacio interviewed a British reporter named Julie Flint, who had just returned from an amazingly brave, clandestine trip that took her into the ethnically cleansed portions of Darfur, accompanied by members of the rebel army. What she documents is overwhelming evidence that the government of Sudan is allied with the militias in a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing, and that to cover their tracks, they are committed to a genocidal policy of refusing to allow humanitarian supplies to reach the refugees stranded in these border areas.

BRANCACCIO: You have been covering atrocities, war zones for 30 years. Where do you place Sudan, the current situation in the Darfur region in terms of the things you've seen in your career?

FLINT: It's as bad as anything I've ever seen. There's no doubt about that. I expected it to be bad when I went there, because of the very sporadic, scattered reports we were getting.

Information was still quite thin when I went in. But to my astonishment, I found a land which had no human life. It was completely empty. And that, in a way is as bad, it's a land which is full of blood and war, it was just an empty land. All human life had been removed. And I found that profoundly shocking.



BRANCACCIO: In Chad, Julie Flint interviewed scores of refugees. One after one, they testified to the abuses they had witnessed and experienced.

Twelve-year-old Hussein fled with his family from Sudan after 27 of their fellow villagers were killed in Darfur. He reported that when he and some other kids saw soldiers, they hid behind a tree. The soldiers found them. Hussein was shot three times at close range, in the face, then in the arm, and then his leg. He says soldiers killed three of his friends, and wounded six others.

This man is an imam, a Muslim holy man. He confirms that armed gunmen have been swarming to villages and killing imams, destroying mosques, including his own, and burning copies of the Koran.

And who is attacking the black Sudanese Muslims? Arab Sudanese Muslims, allied with the Arab-dominated government. The government has inflicted harsh treatment for years on the blacks of Darfur, whom it considers inferior.

Last year, some — calling themselves the Sudanese Liberation Army — responded with a rag-tag rebellion, government forces attacked ruthlessly, and the attacks continues to this day. They are accompanied by fearsome allies: an armed Arab militia known as the Janjaweed has been terrorizing villages: swooping in like a murderous, medieval warrior horde.

BRANCACCIO: The Janjaweed, these are Arab raiders, often on horseback, sometimes on camel who are...

FLINT: I wouldn't call them raiders anymore.

BRANCACCIO: What would you call them?

FLINT: Well, the word, "Janjaweed," has been used for a long time. And basically, it referred to a sort of a motley bunch of different groups, camel herders, encroaching on the farming lands of settled, African tribes.

And it was largely economic conflict.

But in the last few years, the Islamist government have harnessed these militias, who they know have pre-existing disputes with the settled, African farmers, and have used them, especially since the rebellion began, as counter insurgency militias. And what I found of which I'm absolutely certain is that the vast majority of these lethal attacks are done by government forces, and the so called Janjaweed forces, working together. These are no longer hit and run attacks by Arab nomads. They're systematic attacks by the government and the militia, often with air support.

BRANCACCIO: So, you saw evidence, and from your interviews, that the government of the Sudan is working in concert with these Janjaweed?

FLINT: Yes. That was the most striking thing. I interviewed scores and scores of people, civilians, as well as rebels of course, and documented 14 instances of large scale killings in a six month period. Those weren't the only instances of large scale killings. But they were the only ones I corroborated in the time I had.

BRANCACCIO: How many people

FLINT: Almost 800 people died that I know of. There will be more. And in all but two of those instances, the Janjaweed and the government attacked together.

And the civilians said, "They're partners now." And I said to the chief of one village, the headman, "Why do you say they're partners?" And he said, he looked surprised that I even asked. And said, "They arrived together. They fight together. And they leave together."


BRANCACCIO: If you take a look at more of your film here, we have what are we looking at?

FLINT: You're looking at rebels of the Sudan Liberation. The vast majority of the rebels I met were people who had been burned out of their homes. Men of 30, 40 even 50, plus members of the Sudan Army and police. For example, I met a lovely man, an African, who had been in the Sudanese Army for 22 years. He'd stayed in the Army despite the fact that his Arab colleagues were promoted, got pay raises. He didn't. He stayed as a bog standard soldier, while the Arabs were promoted.

But when the Army came, burned his village, killed a number of people including his brother, he left, and he joined the rebels. Similarly, I found policemen in the same situation. My translator was a lawyer, who had lived in Khartoum, who lost nine members of his family, dead and wounded when the government bombed the town. I met a doctor, whose clinic had been burnt by the government. It was an interesting group of people.

BRANCACCIO: And these members of the Sudan Liberation Army served as your entree into this area?

FLINT: They did. I had no other way to get in. And also, because civilians often know a very small part of the overall picture, and because many civilians would go and meet the commander of the SLA simply to tell him what had been happening in his area, because past possibly, their sons, their relatives would... having been burnt out, were now in the Army. He had a good, overall picture. The rebels had a good, overall picture.

I then verified that picture by going without armed men, to speak to the civilians in Chad. But the civilians in Chad could give me very small pictures. I wanted to try to get the big picture, which I'm sure I got. I have no doubt.

BRANCACCIO: One term being used here is ethnic cleansing. From what you've seen, is that accurate?

FLINT: Oh, definitely. The countryside is empty. There's nobody there. It has been ethnically cleansed.

There’s lots more. I urge anyone who reads this to read the Flint material at NOW. You can find out about Flint with links to video and other of her materialshere, and the transcript of the NOW interview here, scroll down to just about the half way point.

Except for a very few journalists, among whom Nicholas Kristoff deserves credit and gratitude for his insistent reporting from and about Darfur, governments and media around the world have ignored what was happening there; the institutions that have been in the forefront of raising the alarm have been the humanitarian and human rights NGOs, and those same agencies within the UN. Some of the silence about Darfur was due to the fear that focusing efforts there would derail the north/south peace accords. The Bush administration deserves credit for having engaged diplomatically in the Sudan. Secretary Powell is there now. Thus far, however, the administration has refused to called what is happening there "genocide." Some critics have faulted them for that. Personally, I think such criticism regarding labels is likely to be a fairly fruitless path. This is one of the few foreign policy issues, maybe the only one, around which Democrats and Republicans can close ranks. I think we ought to try and do that, although I’m well aware the favor will not be returned.

MoveOn.org has taken note of Darfur and is asking members to call their Senators and Representatives to ask that they lobby the administration to declare the Sudan is engaged in genocide; they also have an online petition to be signed. Take a moment to check it out.

We know from much analysis of what happened in Rwanda a decade ago that it wouldn't have taken that much to stop the genocide in its tracks; a minor military presence, and most of all, an insistent, world-wide gaze trained on what was happening there. Instead, every country pulled out their nationals, including this country, and even the UN looked the other way. The Sudanese government hasn't even pretended to be telling the truth. The leaders in Khartoum know the world is leery of upsetting the peace accords, and they’ve noticed that the world is not noticing. When people around the world insist that their governments start noticing, when people and governments around the world make clear to the Sudanese government that we're watching what they’re doing, that we will remember, by name, who does what to whom and that crimes against humanity will be prosecuted, at that point and that point only, will the dynamic of genocide begin to be thwarted. It is not hopeless, it is not undoable, we have only to marshal the will to start paying attention. A weblog whose sole purpose is to help you do that is called "Sudan, The Passion of the Present," and you can find it here.

Josh Marshall gets all snarky 

Target: that toothless old whore William Safire:

There's a body of sociological literature which shows that when the world does not come to an end on the day prescribed by this or that messianic cult, the cult usually does not fall apart. Rather, their belief only tends to intensify to still greater levels. Safire seems to be an example of the same phenomenon only applied to Iraqi WMD cult.
(via Talking Points Memo)

I wonder, as soon as the new Iraqi President imposes martial law and throws out the foreign press, whether we'll start "finding" more stuff?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

And there's good news tonight!

The Canadians rejected their right wing loons. Thank God there's at least one country in North America that hasn't lost its collective marbles.

And a passle of Dems were charged with corruption in Philly today. Excellent. I wouldn't have voted in a Republican under any circumstances, but now that's out of the way, maybe we can clean house and do something about the relentless and petty mediocrity of our city government, by throwing the chisellers out.

Oh, and the sk8ters have taken to skating round the fountains and sidewalks of City Hall. I hope right under Mayor Street's window. Heh.

And speaking of the Republican convention 

Here's an excellent article on KoolAid from the Rittenhouse Review: "Are your kids getting enough sugar?".

And speaking of Republicans, their convention, and sweets for the sweet....

Vote Fraud: It's Not Just From Diebold Any More 

We have been banging the drum of danger, ringing the bell of alarm, and generally advocating taking the hammer of outrage to electronic voting machines, on numerous grounds that regular readers know well.

The fact of the matter is that there was vote fraud LONG before electrons came along. The late great saint Mike Royko was ranting decades ago about boxes of ballots turning up in the Calumet Sag Canal in the days after elections in Chicago.

Florida wasn't lost in 2000 because of electronic voting. It was lost in large part because of shenannigans with voter registration rolls, conducted months before election day itself. They have a mess going on in Nashville right now because they haven't updated the registration lists in ten years fer cryin' out loud. People who don't read the paper much may very well show up on Nov. 2 and be turned away because they moved three years ago and never updated their paperwork.

(via Nashville Tennessean)
[County Election Commissioner Lynn] Greer, who told the commission last week he found inaccuracies...There are safeguards, but the situation could give someone a greater chance to fraudulently swing a local election, he said. Some of those races can be decided by a few votes. The issue of the rolls' accuracy could come up if a close election were challenged in court, he said.

''I don't think you could do a massive fraud, but I think you could do enough to sway one of these little legislative elections,'' said Greer, one of two Republicans on the five-member commission. ''I don't think you could sway the presidential election in Tennessee.''
First of all, I think this Greer person is doing a little "move along, nothing to see here folks" routine. I live in Tennessee and I don't care what happened last time, I think this state is in play. The reasons Gore lost it are complex but most of them don't really affect Kerry if he handles it right. (A sprinkle of Clinton here and there and gallons and gallons of Edwards, in case a DNC worker is reading.)

More importantly, no matter where you live, sometime this summer or fall swing by your county courthouse or whatever place the voting registrar's office is. Make sure your registration card is in there, and that the address thereon is the place you're going to be living on Election Day.

As long as you're going anyway, drag along a friend or relative or two. If you get carried away and volunteer for a poll-workers job, you might just save your country while you're at it.

What Sharp Teeth You Have, Grandma Gillespie 

So the chairman of the RNC is worried about preserving voters' rights, and the honesty of elections. Wonderful, we say! What a saint!

Yeah right. When a Bushkevite says he wants to do something "in the public good," remember that's the same thing you told your tomcat before the operation.

(via Kansas City Star (scroll down aways, both stories are on today's page)

The chairman of the Republican National Committee on Monday called for a bipartisan effort to safeguard polling locations in Missouri and other presidential battleground states against voter fraud.

Gillespie ...outlined a “transparent bipartisan solution” that would involve listing, with Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, precincts in presidential battleground states where problems might surface.

But a group helping Democrat John Kerry's campaign called the proposal as a “very cynical attempt” to suppress black voter turnout in the state by undermining groups that are working to increase black registration.

While visiting Kansas City, Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie cited allegations that groups such as America Coming Together were turning in inaccurate voter registration forms and using convicted felons to go door to door. A spokeswoman for the group called both accusations insignificant.
What Gillespie is boo-hooing about is a GOTV program that gave work to a small number of people just out of prison, who, in case he hasn't noticed, often have problems finding honest jobs. Given who he works for, perhaps he should have more empathy for those in this situation.

At any rate, looking down the page, we see a completely separate story which gives us the REAL reason why Grandma was over at Little Red Riding Hood's house that day:
Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie met with more than 300 GOP Catholic "team leaders" in nearby St. Charles and in Kansas City. He said the Republican Party has enlisted 75,000 Catholic "team leaders" to seek out more Catholic support for Bush.

Monday was the launch of the Republican Party's Catholic Outreach Week, one of several it's holding throughout the year, Gillespie said.

In St. Charles, Gillespie cited Bush's opposition to most abortions and to gay marriage. Kerry supports abortion rights, opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions.

"We are working to build a culture that respects life, where family and faith are the cornerstones of our civil society," Gillespie said.
Wadda chutzpenik. (My new Word for the Day. I recommend it for those with higher standards of language, or at least better taste in vulgarities, than the Vice President displays.)

Whiskey Bar eliminating comments? 

Say it isn't so!.

What Oliver Willis said 


3. Said government has no real power in Iraq, and while Paul Bremer is hightailing it out of Dodge (read this article, as opposed to White House press releases, as to why Bremer's reign was so messy). In effect, we still run things -- only it's John Negroponte and the largest American embassy in the world who are in real control of Iraq

Well put.

Nice shot! 

From Dana Milbank in WaPo

Didn't Get the Memo?

"The country's culture is changing from one that has said, 'If it feels good, do it.' "

-- President Bush, May 14.

"I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it."

-- Vice President Cheney, on his bracing Senate-floor language, June 25.
(via WaPo)

Hey, let me try! "Dick," Fuck you!

Wow! He's right! I do feel better! (So, use the Cheney Google Bomb for medicinal purposes only....

Psst! Powell Thinks Kerry's Going to Win 

No, no, not the neocon-enabling Powell named after a body part. His kid, the one who wants to write telecom law to to protect us from Janet Jackson's body parts and if bloated media companies happen to metastasize all over our free speech rights in the process, so be it.

Michael Powell is floating balloons via the business section of the Chicago Tribune while of course officially denying everything. This is of interest to telecom wonks primarily, but keep in mind that it's agencies like the FCC that work in quiet anonymity their wonders to inflict on us.
WASHINGTON — Convinced that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael K. Powell will step down this winter, lobbyists for media and telecommunications companies are rushing to put their pet issues on the agency's agenda.

The 41-year-old Powell denied that he had any immediate plans to leave. But the former Army officer and antitrust lawyer recently prepared a six-month strategy for resolving the controversial media ownership, indecency and telephone competition issues that have become hallmarks of his tenure.

FCC Chief of Staff Bryan Tramont said Powell "has no plans to leave after the president's reelection," disputing that the chairman would want to depart after a Bush victory. Tramont acknowledged, though, that Powell had done some thinking about wrapping things up in the event of a win by the presumed Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

Abu Ghraib torture: Lindsey Graham, honest Republican? Who knew? 

Just to show that there are still ways to surprise us:

While many Republicans would like to see the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal go away during this election year, [South Carolina Republican Lindsey] Graham is among those who have pushed to keep the congressional investigation going. Otherwise, he argues, everything good that the United States has done in Iraq could be jeopardized.

"What are we fighting for?" he asked at a recent hearing. "To be like Saddam Hussein?"

[Graham] called the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal "the biggest breakdown of command I've ever seen in my 20 years as a military lawyer."

Graham is one of several Republicans on the committee who have pressed for Congress to aggressively investigate the scandal — or, as Graham calls it,
a "nest of criminal misconduct."

Graham makes no apologies for his aggressive pursuit of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, even if it has brought criticism from conservative friends.

"The people who want this fixed the most are the men and women in uniform," he said. "It's their honor that's been stained."
(via not the poor old New York, but the LA Times)

Iraq clusterfuck: "Let freedom reign," My Aunt Fanny 

Wasn't that precious? Condi passing notes to Inerrant Boy, and somehow it all ends up in the papers! "Let freedom reign"... I love it...

The ironies are flowing thicker than crude oil in Iraq these days.

First, the United States surreptitiously turns over nominal control of the country to a government appointed by outsiders while leaving real power in the hands of U.S. military commanders and calls it an exercise in democracy.

And although [Prime Minister Iyad Allawi,] the interim prime minister is a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who later conducted anti-Hussein terrorist operations on behalf of the CIA — operations in which innocent Iraqi civilians may have been killed — his anointment as leader of a "free Iraq" is being hailed by President Bush as a great victory in the war on terror.

According to several former intelligence officials interviewed by the New York Times this month, the political group run by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in the 1990s, but financed by the CIA, "used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Iraq" in an attempt to sabotage and destabilize Hussein's regime.

With such a record, it is perhaps not strange then that Allawi, who built his exile organization with defecting Iraqi military officers, is already proclaiming the need to delay elections scheduled for January and impose martial law. On Monday Bush said coalition forces would support such a call for martial law, presumably enforced by U.S. troops.

In 1996, one of Allawi's top officers and his group's self-proclaimed chief bomb maker detailed the mechanics behind Allawi's murderous actions in a videotape subsequently obtained by a British newspaper, the Independent. On the tape he even expresses annoyance that the CIA had shortchanged him on one job, a car bombing, allegedly paying only half the agreed-upon amount.
(via LA Times)

Meet the new boss....

Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!

Krugman in the morning 

Who lost Iraq?

Let's say the obvious. By making Iraq a playground for right-wing economic theorists, an employment agency for friends and family, and a source of lucrative contracts for corporate donors, the administration did terrorist recruiters a very big favor.
(via Paul Krugman, really the only reason to read the New York Times)

What he said.

And a nice pre-emptive strike against the "stab in the back" theory the wingers and their MWs will doubtless propagate over the summer. You know, traitors like Democrats and liberals, etc. Just more winger projection, but some people still believe it....

Monday, June 28, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Philly blog headlines here! And Corrente is there. Must be all that coverage of the sk8ters and Love Park....

Like nailing Jello to the wall 

And when I say Jello, think Limbaugh.

Atrios nails him.

And again.

Not a pretty sight.

So, did Bremer scuttle away with a bag over his shoulder? 

A bag stuffed with money?

It seems that $20 billion is missing:

A new Christian Aid report says the US-controlled coalition in Baghdad is handing over power to an Iraqi government without having properly accounted for what it has done with some $20 billion of Iraq's own money.

'For the entire year that the CPA has been in power in Iraq, it has been impossible to tell with any accuracy what the CPA has been doing with Iraq's money,' said Helen Collinson, head of policy at Christian Aid.

Resolution 1483 of May 2003 said that Iraq's oil revenues should be paid into the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), that this money should be spent in the interests of the Iraqi people, and be independently audited. But it took until April 2004 to appoint an auditor - leaving only a matter of weeks to go through the books.

Early reports of the audit indicate strong criticisms of the CPA's handling of Iraq's money. But the CPA is not going to be around to be held accountable.
(via Christian Aid)

The full report is here.

But—but—How is this possible?! A bunch of 20-somethings from the Heritage Foundation were in charge!

From the people who brought you Enron...

A song for Paul Bremer, who was outta there before the ink on the handover agreement was dryUPD 

Paul Bremer is John Denver, and he's singing to the Iraqis:

I hate to wake you up to say goodbye.
But the dawn is breaking, it's early morn.
The taxi's waiting, he's blowing his horn,
Already I'm so lonesome I could cry.

So kiss me and smile for me,
Tell me that you'll wait for me,
Hold me like you'll never let me go.
'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again -
Oh Babe, I hate to go.

There's so many times I've let you down,
So many times I've played around,
I tell you now, they don't mean a thing.
Every place I go, I'll think of you,
Every song I sing, I'll sing for you,
When I come back, I'll wear your wedding ring.


Now the time has come to leave you,
One more time let me kiss you,
Then close your eyes, I'll be on my way.
Dream about the days to come.
When I won't have to leave alone,
About the times I won't have to say ...

Dunno about that "wedding ring" line. Everything else seems to be spot on, though. Readers?

UPDATE Alert reader Eric comments:

Somebody *has* to make a music video or flash with this music and video of Bremer....

Well? Readers?

The WhiteWash House under seige: Pass the popcorn! 

The Bush junta seems to be feeling the heat. Joe Klein has a nice summary in Time, which also includes new information on The Plame Affair:

The [1] torture investigation is one of four major defensive battles the Administration is facing. In the weeks to come, the White House will also have to deal with the [2] 9/11 commission's final report, the [3] congressional investigations into the CIA's bungled assessment of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and a [4] special prosecutor's hunt for the White House leakers who blew the cover of CIA secret operative Valerie Plame.

And that's not all:

Two other serious, surreptitious—and quite possibly unprecedented—battles are going on: [1] the intelligence community is at war with the White House, and [2]the uniformed military is at war with the civilian leadership of the Pentagon,. The first conflict went public last week with news of the impending publication of Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terrorism, a book by an anonymous author who is known to be a senior CIA official and former chief of the agency's Osama bin Laden station. The invasion of Iraq was "an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat," the author writes. "There is nothing that bin Laden could have hoped for more than the American invasion and occupation of Iraq."

Michael Moore couldn't have said it any better—and this book was vetted by CIA censors. In fact, the views of Anonymous are an accurate reflection of the opinions I've heard from multiple intelligence sources. The spooks seem to believe that outgoing CIA Director George Tenet was strong-armed by Cheney and Rumsfeld into overassessing Iraq's WMD capacity. This may or may not be true, but it is the conventional wisdom in the intelligence community. Furthermore, there is intense anger over the White House's revealing the identity of Plame, who may have been active in a sting operation involving the trafficking of WMD components.

NOTE: This "sting operation" is new information on Plame. Interesting!

Plame was outed in a White House attempt to discredit the finding of her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, that there was no evidence that Iraq tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. "Only a very high-ranking official could have had access to the knowledge that Plame was on the payroll" of the CIA, an intelligence source told me.

The military has made no secret of its fury with Rumsfeld and his coterie of neoconservatives at the Pentagon. Rumsfeld has been faulted for committing too few troops and too little planning to postwar Iraq. Returning National Guard leaders have been telling their congressional representatives about chaos in the field.

NOTE: If our Army was entirely professional (i.e., a sort of Praetorian Guard), the citizens in the National Guard wouldn't be bringing democratic checks and balances into play, as they are.

There is also some rustling among the brass about General Tommy Franks' memoir, to be published in August. Bob Woodward reported that Franks once called Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, who was charged with postwar planning, "the [Cheney expletive] stupidest guy on the face of the earth," and some defense experts are wondering if Franks, who has a reputation for candor, will elaborate on that.
(via Time)

Pass the popcorn!

Oh, and "Dick"? Fuck you! There. I feel better already! (back)

Are you better off today than you were four years ago? 

Unless you are very, very wealthy, the answer is going to be No. That's because Clinton, unlike Bush, focussed on bringing economic benefits to all Americans. Ron Brownstein of the LA Times runs the numbers:

[T]he Clinton years produced extraordinary gains in the communities that needed help most.

The benefits of the Clinton boom were dispersed far more broadly than the gains under Ronald Reagan, in part because Clinton systematically implemented policies that encouraged and rewarded work for those on the economy's bottom rungs.

Consider the scorecard. During Clinton's two terms, the median income for American families increased by a solid 15% after inflation, according to Census Bureau figures. But it rose even faster for African Americans (33%) and Hispanics (24%) than it did for whites (14%).

The growth was so widely shared that from 1993 through 1999, families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution saw their incomes increase faster than those in the top 5%. By comparison, under President Reagan in the 1980s, those in the top 5% increased their income more than five times faster than the bottom 20%.

Likewise, the poverty rate under Clinton fell 25%, the biggest eight-year decline since the 1960s. It fell even faster for particularly vulnerable groups like blacks, Hispanics and children. Again the contrast with Reagan is striking. During Reagan's two terms, the number of Americans in poverty fell by just 77,000. During Clinton's two terms, the number of Americans in poverty plummeted by 8.1 million. The number of children in poverty fell by 50,000 under Reagan. Under Clinton the number was 4.1 million. That's a ratio of 80 to 1.

Welfare reform pushed more low-income families into the job market, where they could benefit from the rising tide. Then Clinton made work more rewarding with increases in the minimum wage and the earned-income tax credit, the creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program (to cover the children of working-poor families), and expanded funding for day care. He eliminated the deficit while cutting taxes for average families.

And while delivering all these benefits for traditionally Democratic constituencies, Clinton extended the party's appeal up the income ladder.
(via LA Times)

Ever wonder why the wingers hate (yes, hate, not "hate") Clinton so much? And why the want you to hate him as well? Because it's the old Republican shell game, that's why. They want to tear down the good that he did. They don't want you to think of your own interests, that's why.

Again, are you better off today than you were four years ago?

F911: Reaction from honest Republicans 

Seems to be favorable. Maybe, just maybe, there are honest Republicans who want to cleanse their party. Let's hope!

During the screening at the Uptown Theatre, I sat next to a newspaper reporter who was raised in an activist Republican party family, whose sister worked previously for the Bush White House and who considers herself moderate. She cried through the second half of the movie, which featured graphic images of injured and killed Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers and focused on the U.S. military's efforts to recruit minorities and poor whites.

She and others who don't hew to Moore's hardcore lefty vision of the world gave him credit for, if nothing else, presenting an incredibly cohesive and emotionally stirring piece of work.

"There's no way people are not going to come out of this hating Bush," she said. Which, of course, is exactly what the GOP fears. Conservative opposition is not based on the belief that this is just some commie-pinko rant that'll be ignored by the masses.
(via Terry Neal in WaPo)

Except the feeling isn't, and shouldn't be, "hate". It's outrage (back).

The idea that we "hate" Bush, instead of being outraged by his actions, is one of the great, and almost unnoticed, triumphs of winger meme propagation. Let's not fall for it!

Iraq clusterfuck: "Sovreignty" hand-off today, two days early. WTF? 

Sounds inspiring!

The United States transferred political authority to an interim Iraqi government in a five-minute surprise ceremony on Monday morning that was conducted two days before the planned June 30 handover date because of security concerns.

The formal transfer came at a hastily arranged ceremony,, held inside the U.S.-controlled Green Zone in Baghdad. U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer handed over a blue portfolio containing a signed document conveying political authority to the chief judge of Iraq's highest court.

Several hours later, members of Iraq's new government took oaths of office, with each stepping forward to place a hand on the Koran.
(via WaPo)

The Iraqis don't seem to think much of it:

There was no noticeable celebratory gunfire, which often occurs at commemorative moments in Iraq.

I wonder how long it will take our puppet government to clamp down on press coverage?

And here's a choice piece of Bushit:

"The Iraqi people have their country back," President Bush declared in Istanbul, where he is attending the NATO summit. "We have kept our word."

Now, if only we could have our country back, eh?

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