Saturday, July 17, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Yawn, snarfle. The great thing about having a job is that I have money. The terrible thing is that I don't have time. Oh well.

I sure hope Kerry's speech at the Democratic National Convention is good. I remember nothing about the Clinton video at his first convention, except the feeling it gave me: He's going to make it. I hope Kerry gives me the same feeling.

I also remember the night of Michael Dukakis's defeat. The TV showed Reagan and the Republican Party as national, prepared to rule. The pitifully draped Dukakis stage showed the Dukakis campaign as regional, not prepared to rule. Needless to say, I hope that the Kerry operation gives me that national feeling. Like they're prepared for successs, assuming that they're winners. That they're ready.

There's a lot riding on this election.

I'd also like to see another Seymour Hersh story in the New Yorker real soon now. It's not fair for Hersh to go around the country talking about Abu Ghraib videos of screaming boys being raped. Why tease us? Write the story, already!

Bush dirty war: Fort Huachuca torture manuals prove "bad apples" theory is the crock we knew it was 

Here's another dot to connect. Xan's been writing about how contracts for interrogation in Iraq seem to have been mysteriously let through the Interior Department (!), and at a place called Fort Huachuca. Turns out that General Fast, as well as her subordinate Pappas, and several Abu Ghraib interrogatorps, all got their training at Fort Huachuca, which is the Army's school for interrogation. In fact, the Army considers Fast's work at Abu Ghraib such a success that it's promoting her to head of the school!

A glance at the manuals produced by the school show the "bad apples" theory for the crock that it is. What Fort Huachuca is doing is taking the lessons learned from the Reagan dirty wars and updating them for Bush's new dirty war in the Middle East (back).

In 1996, as part of the campaign to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), activists used the Freedom of Information Act to force the release of training manuals used at the SOA, a notorious counterinsurgency training facility for Latin-American personnel. Those manuals, used at the SOA for many years and distributed in the thousands by the U.S. Army to military, police and intelligence units throughout Latin America, explicitly advocated the use of torture--not just "bending the rules" of interrogation, as some have timidly euphemized the current scandal.

In their investigations, activists discovered that the SOA manuals were adapted from training manuals used by U.S. personnel in Vietnam and translated into Spanish right here in Arizona, at Fort Huachuca.
(via Tucson Weekly)

So much for the "bad apples" theory.

CACI Feelings Hurt, Boo Hoo 

It turns out some people (they may, just possibly, mean us, along with most of the rest of the civilized world) have been saying mean things about CACI just because some of their people torture Iraqis.

(via PRnewswire) (a "news service" for press releases)
CACI International Inc today [June 28 2004] stated that due to the erroneous, inaccurate and false information being widely disseminated and repeated, it has again become necessary to clarify various aspects of its contract arrangements with the U.S. Army to provide interrogator services (an intelligence information gathering function) in Iraq.
Assorted corporate PR omitted for the sake of brevity. But read the following very carefully, looking back to today's other posts for clarification when necessary:
CACI's contract arrangements with the U.S. military have not been fashioned in a manner intended to mislead or to otherwise deceive anyone at any time and any such allegations are totally false. ..

Administration of the [contract] was transferred from the U.S. Army at Fort Huachuca to the Department of Interior at Fort Huachuca on January 14, 2001 as part of a government reorganization that saw the Army contracting office become part of the Department of the Interior when Army operations at Fort Huachuca were substantially reduced.

CACI's Statement of Work..further specifies that the U.S. military will provide readiness training and briefings on rules of engagement and general orders applicable to coalition armed forces, DoD civilians and U.S. contractors, including the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

CACI's contract requires that employees work under the monitoring and supervision of the U.S. military chain-of-command in Iraq. CACI personnel have no responsibility for management, supervisory or command authority over any non-CACI personnel. CACI operates a full-time in-country administrative chain-of-command over all of its employees in Iraq.

As to widely repeated employee misinformation, CACI has never employed Mr. John Israel. Mr. John Israel was incorrectly identified as a CACI employee in the illegally released, "leaked" sections of the classified (SECRET/NO-FOREIGN) report issued by Major General Antonio M. Taguba regarding allegations of abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. Mr. Israel is not now and never has been an employee of CACI.
Hmm. Wonder how Gen. Taguba, who seems to be a very diligent person, ever got such an impression?
CACI employee Steven A. Stefanowicz was the only CACI employee identified in the Taguba report. The report alleges culpable wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Stefanowicz; however, [his mouthpiece denies this--ed.]
Just a couple more interesting items...interesting because CACI felt obliged to make these claims:
CACI is not now and never has been involved in political activist pursuits of any kind for its own individual corporate benefit.

CACI does not now have and never has had a political action committee (PAC). The Company makes no effort whatsoever to influence or interfere with the rights of its officers and employees to participate as they see fit in supporting any candidate for office through a private donation.
Go look at the full version of this at the link; there's about three times as much corporate PR BS as what I included here. An awful lot of denial for a company that didn't do anything wrong, don't you think?

Fog Machine Running On Overtime 

Smokey the Bear funds contractor interrogators. 

(via WaPo)

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 17, 2004; Page E03

The Department of Interior's inspector general found that lax procurement controls in one of the agency's contracting centers allowed information technology contracts to be misused to hire prison interrogators.

CACI International Inc. of Arlington and Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda were hired to provide interrogation support under umbrella contracts designed to give government agencies quick access to the companies' technology products and services.

The inspector general's report, released last night, blamed a "fee-for-service operation, where procurement personnel in their eagerness to enhance organization revenues have found shortcuts to federal procurement procedures."

Lockheed's employees were hired by the Navy for interrogation work at its base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. CACI provided interrogators to the Army in Iraq, and one of its employees was implicated in an Army report on abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

Both contracts were awarded by the General Services Administration and managed by the Interior Department's National Business Center in Fort Huachuca, Ariz. The agency's inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, said a lack of oversight of procurement officials at the center contributed to the improper contracting.

Devaney recommended that the agency end contracts with CACI and Lockheed Martin that fall outside the scope of their intended purpose. He urged Interior to develop new policies and management controls.

Interior spokesman Frank Quimby said this week that Interior is going to "get out of the interrogation business." Calls to Quimby were not returned last night.

A GSA investigation of CACI's contract found that it was awarded improperly but cleared the company to continue doing business with the federal government.

Do we see some dots getting connected here? This contract was originally let in 1997 for perfectly innocuous purposes relating to IT (information technology)  services, which is what CACI does when they're not torturing people. And it's more "cost effective" to put an Interior Department operation into Fort Cucaracha down in Arizona since two can live cheaper than one, right?

And most importantly, who, trying to follow a paper trail of funding for an Army base in Iraq, is going to think to look into the budget of the folks who run the National Park Service?

Keep in mind this is on top of the money stolen out of the budget for Afghanistan and misapplied to the qWagmire.  One can only hope some lonely auditor somewhere is figuring out what ratholes those funds went down too.

Bush torture policies: If you run the torture wing at Abu Ghraib, you get a promotion! 

What's the criterion? Set up the torture system, while avoiding scrutiny. It's the "avoiding scrutiny" part that's really important; since the WhiteWash House is continually inventing cover stories to cover its crimes, old and new, a proven track record for avoiding accountability is key.

From the Baltimore Sun:

Among the handful of Army officers facing scrutiny in the investigation of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast is perhaps the least known, but among the most important.

Fast, 50, the senior intelligence officer in Iraq, was the key conduit for orders and information...

Conduit, eh? We know where the information was coming from; but where was it going to? And was there a channel into the WhiteWash House? Of course there was!

...that related to Abu Ghraib, which she visited frequently, including the infamous cellblocks 1A and 1B, where abuses took place.

A civilian interrogator at the prison wrote that she was involved in CIA access, and Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was the overall commander of military police at the facility, said Fast was aware of a Red Cross report revealing wrongdoing at the prison three months before the scandal broke.

[Fast also installed Pappas and Jordan, who were singled out in the Taguba report, and who ] have been reprimanded. Fast, whose career has ascended rapidly, has been given a plum assignment when she leaves Iraq next month: commander of the Army's intelligence center and school at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where she served a brief tour as assistant commandant.

Well. Apparently the administration considers Abu Ghraib such a success—maybe they do have OBL on ice?—that Fast is going to teach the techniques developed there to others.

"It's very strange. [Fast] was never suspended. And she [will take] command of Fort Huachuca," said Karpinski, who was commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade until she received a letter of admonishment for her alleged leadership failures and was suspended from command. She is trying to get reinstated to her post.

Fast was aware of at least some of the Abu Ghraib activities of CIA personnel, a number of whom are being questioned about the abuses and at least one death, according to the writings of a civilian interrogator at Abu Ghraib, Joe Ryan, who worked for the Virginia-based contractor CACI International.

In a Web diary that is part of a court exhibit filed by Iraqis who claim they were abused at the prison, [Joe] Ryan wrote: "The CIA has proven once again they are incompetent boobs. ... They have General Fast's ire. They cannot set foot on Abu Ghurayb without her expressed permission."

Fast arrived in Baghdad late last summer to become intelligence chief for the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. How she ran intelligence operations is among the questions of an Army investigation led by Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, whose equivalent rank allows him to question Sanchez.
(via Baltimore Sun)

So Fast was the "conduit," eh? So did "our" government's video of the shrieking boys being raped pass through her hands? And, if so, who did she pass it to?

Follow the bytes!

NOTE The A1 Project has more on Barbara Fast.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

On the commmute home, I saw a guy come through the station to catch a train, carrying a "John Kerry for President" sign. Maybe there is hope! It's little events like this... This is, in fact, the first time in my life that I've ever seen such a thing, and I've been through a lot of elections. Next thing: "Proud liberal" T-Shirts....

The Last Word in Whoopi 

I don't know that I've ever read the Pittsburg Post-Gazette's Tony Norman before, but I am definitely a convert now. I love the smell of smackdown in the morning.
Let's hope that Democratic Party apparatchiks have more intestinal fortitude than Unilever NV, the Dutch conglomerate that just dropped Whoopi Goldberg as the pitchwoman for its chalky-tasting Slim-Fast diet drink.

For days, every archconservative with a bully pulpit has weighed in with rabid denunciations of Goldberg, Hollywood liberals and the Kerry-Edwards ticket. The attempt to smear the Democratic challengers as "immoral" because they grinned nervously through Whoopi's performance is a transparently cynical exercise in political hypocrisy.

How many Republican candidates stomped out of GOP fund-raisers when the Clintons were the butt of vulgar jokes? Rush Limbaugh and his imitators could fill phone books with lascivious jokes about Bill and Monica.

That's why their foaming at the mouth over a tasteless stand-up act is pure demagoguery. Even so, Slim-Fast dropped Whoopi's endorsement deal faster than the comic dropped pounds as soon as the word "boycott" appeared.

The Democrats knew when they recruited her that Whoopi Goldberg wasn't going to go along with the "divine right of kings" mentality that paralyzes so much of the mainstream media.

Thank goodness Lenny Bruce is dead. Even he would have a hard time dealing with the pornography of false outrage.
You go, Mr. Norman.

Questions I'll never get to ask 

To Dick "Dick" Cheney:

So, Mr. Vice President, who's your favorite Beatle?

The Church of Propane 

I have long since forgotten who first turned me on to Real Live Preacher, probably Melanie over at Bump in the Beltway. You'll find links to the Preach around the more eclectic sites in Left Coast Blogland, run by saner folks than I am who occasionally think about things other than politics.

Just for the hell of it give the guy a read if you need a break sometime. It would also help make sense of this particular clip if you looked at the picture of the billboard he mentions:
We Texans have always had a strange attraction to propane. I've always thought it was perfect that Hank Hill sells it. The folks who created "King of the Hill" know something about Texans.

But until I saw this billboard I had not considered the spiritual value of the compressed, flammable gasses. Comfort for the soul? Perhaps we're witnessing the birth of another major religion. If so, the Propanites are going to be MAJOR competition. I mean, preachers have always been full of hot air, but even my best sermons can't light your grill.

I hope they're at least monotheists. If we're having an interfaith dialogue, I don't think it will be fair if they get extra time to talk about their other gods - butane, methane, and natural gas. I pray they don't wear turbans, cause that's a shootin offense in some rural Texas counties these days.
Preacher is one of those "good Christians" we (sometimes) remember to cite when we've been ranting about the fundie sorts who have hijacked the microphone lately. Not to mention I would give up several body parts to write half as well as he does.

Quiet Friday....Too Quiet Friday 

Remember when the WhiteWashHouse used to dump bad news late on Friday afternoons, in hopes it would be too late for the evening network newscasts, picked up by papers on Saturday which nobody reads, then be Old News by Sunday?

Notice how they have pretty much quit doing that since we let it be known we were onto them? (I would like to claim that this was a Triumph of the Blogotopians but in fact the late lamented Aaron Sorkin-written "West Wing"* used the device in quite a number of episodes.)

But since they've gotten away from the Friday News Dump they're even more devious about putting bad news out in inconspicuous ways. I call it the Sabbath Strategy: from sundown Friday to noon Sunday seem to be the new times to watch.

So any bets on what breaks this weekend? My money's on the screaming boys of Abu Ghraib (see also Sadly,No!'s superb translation link of the original German reports on this atrocity.) This has been out in Europe for a week now, presumably all the American media people currently on vacation over there will hear about it and deign to give us a report any day now.


(*No, Sorkin isn't dead, and "West Wing" isn't either, but it just hasn't been the same since they split up.)

UPDATE: In case any of the links, particularly the ones to "Sadly, No!", don't work, Blogger/Blogspot has recently changed their posting formatting and it is giving me fits.  I have tried fixing them three times now, and if this one doesn't work I am going to crawl through the monitor, squeeze down through the phone lines,  pop back into realspace inside Blogger HQ with a pair of wire cutters and punish the bastards.

Froom II: Not For The Queasy 

Our second installment of today's WhiteHouseBriefing is rude and impolite.

Since the subject of the rudeness is Karl "Grub" Rove we figured (1) you wouldn't mind but still (2) would just as soon not see it pop up in your face without warning.

So go here and look at the picture. Then make up a caption for it and send it to


Froom requests "Please include your full name and your home town, or I won't be able to use your entry."

Of course, if your particular entry is profane enough to be up to our usual standards, such that it would not be suitable for use in a high-class news dispensarium like the Washington Post anyway, skip sending it to Froom and just leave it in comments.

I think our resident farmer could probably have some fun with this too. We'll just have to wait and see...

The Dictionary of Future America 

Today's Froomkin column is so damn good I have to link to its various parts separately. For starters, he generously links to another WaPo writer's story on a soon-to-be-hot book:
If you've never dropped the word "dubyavirus" into casual conversation, urged that an official be "ashcrofted" or commented upon "The Cheney Effect," then you haven't seen the future, at least the future according to McSweeney's.

The ever-expanding genre of anti-Bush books has now entered the reference field. Coming in August from McSweeney's, the publishing house founded by author-activist Dave Eggers, is "The Future Dictionary of America," a Utopian tome set "sometime" beyond the present.

Contributors include Eggers, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Jonathan Franzen, Wendy Wasserstein and more than 100 others. Proceeds will be donated to "groups working for the public good in the 2004 election."

Author T.C. Boyle offers several definitions of "environment," including "a conceptual space, like the airspace over Iraq, which will create a sucking void if not filled to repleteness with high explosives."

Attorney General John Ashcroft inspired novelist Robert Coover to coin "ashcrofted," when one is "removed from or disqualified for public office on grounds of religious delusions."

Joyce Carol Oates presents "dark natter," which she labels "continuous chatter of an ominous sort."

Cartoonist Art Spiegelman contributes "ralphnadir," which is "the lowest point in any process," so low that the process must be changed.

Some examples:

-"The ralphnadir of America's unrepresentative two-party system led to the establishment, in 2012, of our current proportional allnite-party system."
For your ordering convenience (pre-ordering in this case as they still have it as "not released yet") a link to Amazon.com. Yeah, the price is kinda awful but you've got some big names here (Vonnegut, Stephen King, etc.) and it comes with a music CD, so at least there's a fair amount of bang for your bux.

Bush torture policies: Helpless Republicans just can't get investigation done before election 

Now, that's a surprise! (Actually, the real surprise is that the story made page A8 of the World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) instead of A18:

The Congressional investigation into the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison has virtually ground to halt, as a senior Senate Republican said Thursday that no new hearings would be held on the matter until this fall at the earliest.
(via the Fabulous Invalid, the Not-The-Pulitzer-Heavy-Los-Angeles Times)

Gee. I wonder why? The House, as expected, gave The Fog Machine (back) a free pass, leaving matters up to the Senate Armed Services Committee and John Warner. Watch the handwringing:

On Thursday, Mr. Warner said he would hold off calling any more witnesses until several criminal prosecutions and seven pending Pentagon inquiries were completed.

"We're not in a position to try to have an independent investigation at this point," Mr. Warner told reporters after senators received a classified briefing on Thursday on Red Cross reports about detention operations at American-run prisons in Iraq. "There are so many ongoing investigations going on, we cannot in any way jeopardize the right of individuals being investigated."

Other factors also are behind the delay: the calendar, the preferences of some of Mr. Warner's Republican colleagues and the pace of the military investigations, many of which are behind schedule. All seem to be conspiring to thwart his desire to hold hearings on the matter.

And poor old John Warner is helpless in the face of it all. Damn pitiful. Always nice to see Republicans put their hold on power above restoring the honor of the military by cleansing it of torturers. Moral clarity, don't you know.

At the briefing on Thursday, the Pentagon also provided senators with updated figures on investigations of the death or abuse of Iraqi prisoners. The military has opened 41 death investigations; 15 are still pending. Of the 135 inquiries into other abuses, 54 are still pending.

Gee. I wonder if any of the investigations feature videos of screaming boys being raped.

One can only hope that some actual news reporting gets done by that feisty weekly, The New Yorker. Mr. Hersh, you've seen the tapes. Why not release them? And say—who in the Bush administration has seen the rape vidoes? Anyone in the WhiteWash House? The RNC/CPA?

Republican looting: Don't follow leaders—watch the parking meters 

Or, in this case, oil meters.

This is one of those WaPo stories that starts out "He said, She said" but has the killer detail in the very last graf. Wait for it:

The Bush administration is withholding information from U.N.-sanctioned auditors examining more than $1 billion in contracts awarded to Halliburton Co. and other companies in Iraq without competitive bidding, the head of the international auditing board said Thursday.

The dispute comes as the board released an initial audit by the accounting firm KPMG on Thursday that sharply criticized the U.S.-led coalition's management of billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenue.

KPMG outlined a series of other shortcomings, including the coalition's failure to install meters on Iraq's Persian Gulf export loading platforms, making it impossible to determine how much oil Iraq was exporting.
(via WaPo)

Wow! Free oil! I wonder where it all went? Hey, freedom's untidy!

Look out, Kid—it's something you did...

BORN TO RIDE! 4000 Miles & 17 States! 

Two guys from the UK sent in an email letting us know that they will be roaring across the Homeland begining Friday July, 16th. Destination: Boston and the Democratic Convention on July 26. See for yourself:

"If anyone told you they were going to get to Boston by flying to San Francisco and driving cross country the 4000 miles through 17 states to get there, you would say they were mad, right?

Well, that's what we are going to do. Over 11 days we will be driving through some of the key battlegrounds of the 2004 Presidential Election, stopping off to ask people what they think of John Kerry and finding out about local level campaigning, US-style."


I think this is a good idea. I like roadtrips myself and have been on an ungodly number of 'em. Although, I gotta tell ya, in this case, at least these days, I'd be a little wary of providing an online pre lift-off route map of the journey. For various reasons. Most of which are scary and dripping with paranoia. But!, hey, anyway, as I recall you can pretty much drive from Winnemucca to Wells without even having to navigate the stupid road. Just put the damned vehicle in cruise control, nod off, and hurdle through the dried up weeds and rocks for 150 miles. Don't worry, no one will notice. Mainly because there isn't anyone out there. But, in the event anyone asks any questions, just tell em you're smuggling jars of freeze dried Central American stimulants into Salt Lake, or delivering handguns and a bundle of mysterious golden plates to a polygamy cult located along the North Fork Virgin River just South of the Dixie National Forest. Or, tell them that you've just escaped from a weird government experiment on the Nellis Air Force Range and are searching for your real parents. Tell them you're the spawn of Pam Dawber! Any of those will get you through Nevada. Utah is another story, especially if your smuggling freeze dried stimulants.

Uhm..., one other suggestion for HD and MD from the UK. Add a comments feature to you're blog. That way an ungodly number of weirdos can stalk you all the way across the country. :-)

Also included at the Kerry Road Trip site is a "list" of "some of the best Road Movies, provided, somewhat weirdly, by the US Department of Transportation." So check that out.

Personally my favorite road trip movie is the raucous cult classic "Smokin' Rubber Dope Run" starring Jonah and Lucianne Goldberg. I've seen it 52 times and I never tire of it. I won't tell you what happens but there is a big shoot em up at a bait shop in Arkansas and a slanderous gang bang and tiki torchlit beach brawl at Anne Coulter's summer house near Port Chester. Fun for the whole family.

So, rent that romantic troubled loner thriller on DVD. And, support these guys from the UK as they careen their way across the American dream. Whatever that is.

This post was made possible in part with contributions from the MJS "Next Miles" Project and Farmtoons Productions.


Thursday, July 15, 2004

Goodnight. moon 

When does the full moon happen, anyhow? Soon? I'm tired of the crazies being so quiet. Action, that's what I want!

Florida Franchise Follies, Part Umptyzillion 

Jeb should have stuck with tubers and trigonometry:

From this morning's Palm Beach Post

TALLAHASSEE -- Denying felons the right to vote, a Civil War-era policy that critics say is rooted in Florida's racist past, could cost taxpayers millions of dollars, especially following a court ruling Wednesday that has civil rights groups cheering.

The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled unanimously that the Florida Department of Corrections was not complying with a law that requires the state to help felons get their civil rights restored when they are about to leave prison.

The ruling essentially means that prison workers will have to offer a single-page application form and individual help to each of the 42,000 inmates who cycle out of state prisons every year.

"I think it could become a workload issue for the Department of Corrections," said Sterling Ivey, department spokesman.

Nash could not say how much the department spent to hire Joseph Klock, a founder of one of the state's most prestigious law firms and an ardent donor to Republican candidates [to argue the state's side of the case]. The bill is believed to exceed $100,000.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Charlie Crist said Wednesday that a long-standing policy prohibits his office from defending the state in open records challenges because his office includes a public records division.
When most people decide to re-fight the Civil War they join a reenactment group and buy an itchy wool uniform. Jeb and his 1st Felonious Fighting Floridians Regiment legislative buddies do it on the state's dime instead, and work in graft for Republican donors to boot. YEEE-haw.

CIA CYA: Groupthink cover story just another case of winger projection 

It looks like there are two parts to the WhiteWash House cover story to protect Bush from being held accountable for the Iraq WMD fiasco.

Part one is that Bush was given bad information: the one page memo (back) that, for some crazy reason, suppressed any evidence Bush didn't want to hear.

Part two supplies the crazy reason: The intelligence agencies that gave Bush his information were engaged in "groupthink." Well, how plausible is part two? Psychologist Robert Jervis of Columbia answers "Not very." Here's his reasoning:

In an unusual foray into psychological diagnostics, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Friday that CIA analysts had succumbed to what it called a "groupthink" dynamic. According to the committee's report, the analysts suffered from a "collective presumption" that Iraq had acquired weapons of mass destruction and they blithely ignored any evidence to the contrary.

But was that indeed what happened? "Groupthink" -- identified in the early 1970s by the late Yale psychologist Irving Janis -- refers to a process by which conformity grows out of deliberations in small groups. It can indeed be quite powerful. The way Janis explained it, groupthink operates when individuals work closely together over a sustained period. It isn't merely that members of the group come to think alike but that they come to overvalue the harmonious functioning of the group. In their eagerness to reach consensus, they become inhibited from questioning established assumptions or from raising questions that might disturb their colleagues and friends.

But although groupthink has played a part in past foreign policy decisions, it does not appear to explain the CIA's current intelligence failures, despite the contention of the Senate committee. First of all, intelligence gathering is work done by individuals, [not groups. And] from what I have seen of them, intelligence analysts tend to be highly individualistic, if not intellectually combative. They have selected the career of an analyst rather than a more public and people-oriented career in part because they like to work on their own.

There are, of course, some larger group meetings where members of the broader intelligence community convene. And as in any such group situations, there will be times when individuals shape the views they bring in anticipation of what they think will appeal to the other attendees.

But these meetings are not likely to be susceptible to groupthink. Many of them are quite large, which precludes the formation of close ties among participants. Indeed, many of the meetings are ad hoc, with different people participating at different times. Although the members probably know one another, the stability required for groupthink is rarely present.

Finally, many intelligence officials these days -- unlike top political leaders -- are on guard against groupthink.

It appears that another dynamic was at work in this case. Intelligence officials, like the rest of us, hesitate to tell their bosses what they do not want to hear -- and may even, on occasion, convince themselves that alternative views are groundless. The Bush administration made it clear early on that it was seeking to prove the existence of WMD in Iraq -- not disprove it. The intelligence community was under pressure to deliver that evidence.

There are lots of ways political psychology can help explain what went wrong and how intelligence could be done better, but groupthink was not the main problem in this case.
(via Dodge City (!) Daily Globe)

Case closed.

Let's look at one portion of Jervis's reasoning again:

[Groupthink is a] process by which conformity grows out of deliberations in small groups. It can indeed be quite powerful. The way Janis explained it, groupthink operates when individuals work closely together over a sustained period. It isn't merely that members of the group come to think alike but that they come to overvalue the harmonious functioning of the group.

As we've seen, the intelligence community isn't a candidate for groupthink. But I can think of one small group that is: Bush, Condi, Rummy, Wolfie, and the rest of the neocons and assorted sycophants.

As usual with Republicans, they project onto others the sins that they themselves commit, in overplus. Winger projection!

CIA CYA: Bush—a one page President? 

So how plausible is the latest cover story? The one that says Bush isn't really responsible for the WMD fiasco because He went to war on the basis of a one-page memo that didn't have any, you know, nuance in it?

On one, level, really plausible. After all, Bush refused clemency to over 57 Texas death-row inmates on the basis of sloppy, one-page memos, and is there really all that much difference between 57 and 800 or so? (And as for the Iraqis, hey, who's counting?)

But is it really plausible that the entire administration—that vast congereries over which Inerrant Boy, The Chosen One, has dominion—didn't do their homework either? Thomas Oliphant doesn't think so:
To absolve Bush of disqualifying responsibility for this true scandal, this is what you have to believe.

You have to believe that in processing all of this, Bush never bothered to look beyond the summary or to inquire in depth whether it was supported. You then have to believe that Condoleezza Rice never had her large national security staff in the White House take a long look at the backup material on Bush's behalf.
You have to believe that in getting ready for a war, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his huge operation never snuck a peek, either.
You have to believe that Vice President Dick Cheney - he of the long resumé and rich experience, not to mention his status as prime mover behind the idea of hasty, nearly unilateral invasion - never bothered to see if his extreme statements about the "threat" from Iraq were supportable. You have to believe that his many personal visits to the CIA were simply to ask questions, not influence answers.
And you have to believe that before he went to the United Nations to make Bush's "case" just before the war - with George Tenet, the director of central intelligence - Secretary of State Colin Powell's own visits to the CIA never once turned up the hedging, contradictory information that the Senate committee found by the bucketful.
(via International Herald Trib)

Well, unless they were all in it together, of course. All the "principals." Kind of like a gang of true believers, know what I mean? Gee, that's not all that hard to believe, is it?

Abu Ghraib torture: Hey, freedom's untidy! 

Much worse is yet to come. Unless, of course, Bush succeeds in stonewalling. Kos via Atrios, Seymour Hersh at the ACLU 2004 conference:

[HERSH] Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about, ok. Videos, there are women there. The women were passing messages saying "Please come and kill me, because of what's happened". Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has.

The video is here.

Gee, I thought Rummy stopped all email communication out of Iraq. How'd this get out, anyhow?

Who would have thought that a President who tortured small animals as a child would grow up to be the Torturer-In-Chief? Tell me it's not a great country....

Time For Our 2-Minute Cheney Love! 

Proving once again how much more attention things get once they are printed in the New York Times, the "Should Bush dump Cheney from the ticket?" talk is bubbling up again like residue from New Jersey landfills after their recent flood problems.

We must counter this, Correntians! Cheney is our friend. As Bush flounders and flails in the swirling waters of rising electoral loathing, Cheney is the anvil we throw to his rescue.

Warm up with a couple of giggles:

(via Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
On C-SPAN [in an interview to be broadcast Sunday], Cheney was asked if he could envision any circumstances in which he would step aside. ``Well, no, I can't. If I thought that were appropriate, I certainly would. But he's made it very clear that he wants me to run again. The way I got here in the first place was that he persuaded me four years ago that I was the man he wanted in that post, not just as a candidate, but as somebody to be part of the governing team. He's been very clear he doesn't want to break up the team.''
Of course we remember the real story on this, right? Not that we would want to make fun of an old, sick man with a history of circulatory problems of the sort that often lead to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss.

At any rate, JFK did his part for the Cheney Love! cause this morning:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said today that if Bush replaces Cheney, it will be the latest in a string of broken promises.

``It will mean that the president's word once again doesn't mean anything, that he himself is the flip-flopper of all flip-floppers because he's been touting how important Dick Cheney is,'' Kerry told broadcaster Don Imus. ``The fact is that George Bush would be declaring an act of desperation, a sudden move that goes contrary to everything he's said.''
While this almost guarantees Cheney will tell Bush that he (Bush) has decided to keep him (Cheney) on the ticket, we must still do our part. I offer this as a starter until MJS gets here with better lyrics and, hopefully, a pitch pipe:

We love you Cheney-poo, we doooo!
We don't love anyone, as much as yooooo!
When you're not near us, we're bluuuuuu!
Mis-Ter Vice-Fuck-Yourself, we luuuuuv yoooooo!

Jebbie's Potatoe Moment 

And remember, this is supposed to be the smarter Bush brother. Jebbie Poo might want to take a page from Georgie Boy's policy noted yesterday of only taking simple, prepared questions from carefully pre-screened audiences:

(via AJC)
ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida school officials hit the books after Gov. Jeb Bush was stumped by a math problem that reportedly was on the state's standardized test for high school students.

Their answer: The question isn't on the test.

Bush was stymied by the problem last week while visiting a high school. A teenager asked the governor a question about triangles that she said was taken from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which Bush has championed.

But a state researcher later determined the question would not be permitted on the exam because the test does not cover trigonometry.

Education Commissioner Jim Horne sent a letter this week to nine Florida newspapers, informing them of the findings.

Officials said the purpose of the efforts wasn't to save face for the governor — but merely to set the record straight on what is on the test.

Bush took the question from 18-year-old Luana Marques, who asked, "What are the angles on a three-four-five triangle?" The numbers refer to the proportions of the sides of such triangles.

Bush, hemming a bit, answered "125, 90, and whatever remains on 180."

Bush and Marques both gave wrong answers. The correct answer was 90 degrees, 53.1 degrees and 36.9 degrees.

The story generated letters to the editor, columns and editorials in the state's newspapers either criticizing the exam or defending Bush for not knowing the answer. Marques later said she meant the question as a joke.

"People reported it inaccurately that it was a question on the test and then it kind of cascades out," the governor told reporters Wednesday in Tallahassee.
"125 plus 90, and whatever remains on 180". Never mind that that works out to negative 35, just contemplate that this is the guy in charge of counting the votes. But that doesn't count, does it, since it's not on the test?

Tom and Dick Smothers really did all this material a lot better, and thirty years ago. Maybe they can sue for plagiarism.

UPDATE: Comments indicate Alert Readers feel I am making fun of Jebbie Poo here for not being able to do trig problems in his head. While always delighted to make fun of any Bush on any grounds whatsoever, in fact this was not my angle (snicker, snort) in THIS particular case.

Rather, I was making fun of Jeb for his dedication to what are apparently deeply ingrained family traits:

(1) a complete inability to utter the phrase "I don't know" even when he doesn't, even when he couldn't reasonably be expected to know it, and would have gained sympathy by admitting he didn't know it;

(2) instead trying to bullshit his way through it

(3) and succeeding only in uttering a wrong answer to a far simpler math problem involving mere addition (125 + 90 is greater than, or less than, 180?)

(4) Then, when caught getting that one wrong too, trying to change the subject by deflecting the question to "whether or not this was actually on the test."

If the original triangle question HAD been on the test, and he was a kid TAKING that test, he wouldn't have gotten a second (or third or fourth) chance like that, now would he? Perhaps we need a No Governor Left Behind exam, and governors who fail it get "helped" by having their funding taken away.

At any rant, er I mean rate, I apologize for lack of clarity in the initial post.

Bill O'Reilly's Mess of Pottage 

David Cole of The Nation visits "The Thin Skin Zone."

[snip] But then I decided to go one step further: "It seems to me like the pot calling the kettle black, Bill, because I just sat here five minutes ago as you re-recorded the introduction to this show to take out a statement from the head of the 9/11 commission stating that there was no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11."

Apparently O'Reilly does not like being called "the pot." He exploded, repeatedly called me an "S.O.B." and assured me that he would cut my accusation from the interview when the show aired. He also said I would "never ever" be on his show again. At this point, I wasn't sure whether to take that as a threat or a promise. LINK [snip]


Somewhere Over the Brownback... 

Sam Brownshirt, I mean Brownback!, oh golly jeepers sorry, of Kansas (the Over the Rainbow State), presented himself for public inspection and scrutiny and general interrogation last evening (July 14). Appearing on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, which, by the way, dear readers and gentle souls, has become the only program CNN still produces that is actually worth watching. At least it is if you really don't give a flying fuck-me-running hot gawd-damned who that Prince what's his fucking name from England went rollerskating with last weekend or what some glassy eyed pampered dullard like Paula Zahn has to say about the Six Pack Twin's upcoming Vanity Fair debutante photo op - slash - dress me up like a Bourbon court princess makeover moment. And other cosmetic counter culture promo-drivel-driven news claptrap.

Anyway. The CNN/Dobb's segment featuring Brownback concerned that afternoon's attempts by certain members of the Republican Senate's Dominionist/Christian Reconstructionist Wing to prevent scary blackamoors from marryin' da white women! Because, you know, the sacred institution of marriage and Christianity and Western Civilization itself would implode straightaway should such horrors and crimes against God and country and capitalism proceed! What will we tell the children!

Oh, no wait, that was another similar crusade some years back. The Brownshirt's (I mean Brownback's) have apparently given up on the anti-miscegenation issue and have since moved on to more fer-tile easily salable bugga-boos. Rather, this time 'round, the scary looming diabolical stranger is the gay marriage interloper. And not even the gay marriage interloper directly, in this specific case, but rather the need for a proper whoopin' of the US Constitution itself; in order to ensure a springboard for future impositions of specific prohibitions and whoopins' on fiendish diabolical interloper schemes which no doubt threaten to manifest themselves, at some point, in some ways, down the wandering back road of the American experiment.

Hey, ya know, ya just can't keep a good Bible thumper beatin' up on diabolical interloper on a back road when there's a full whole bloomed Constitution out there just askin' for a high holy whoopin'.

So. Senator Brownback of the Cottonwood State appeared on CNN opposite Senator Barbara Boxer (of the Eureka State) and made some grunting noises that sounded exactly like this:

...you're talking about the fundamental institution around which we build families in this country. And you're talking about a fundamental institution that's been under attack for nearly 40 years and in a lot of difficulty. And you're talking about a fundamental institution that you've seen in other countries that have engaged in same sex unions has declined even further.

And so really what you're talking about is the children. Where's the optimal setting? And what can we do to encourage that family and that mother and father bonded together for life in a low conflict union that raises children that will be the next generation?

Children are raised in a lot of different settings nowadays. That's certainly the case. But we know the optimal place. We know the place we want to push for. And I think that's worthy of enshrining in the constitution with a simple statement that marriage in the United States is a union of a man and woman.

Oh my yes, "...bonded together for life in a low conflict union." Apparently Sen. Brownback hadn't read the "low conflict union" report out of Seattle (yesterday), which described a particular flaming enshrinement of fatherly bonding togetherness to mother and child and all next generations or something awful like that. The one where some crazy bastard immolated his wife and children and self in some twisted "optimal place" everlasting. A gasoline soaked celebration of one man one woman matrimony forevermore. Ironic timing wasn't it? Likewise not much mention of the incident was reported by the optimal vibrating tines of CableTVNews-o-tainment. Not when there's a dead Tiger and an angry Tarzan running loose around the water cooler! Heck no. Even Larry King's weird interview with Jeffery Dahmer's spooky Bible thumping Dominionist "optimal" dad and semi-optimal step-mom didn't warrant repeating for the 4, 5, 6, 7th time. Not that Larry King or any one at CNN is picking up the drift here, but, do the rest of you detect a pattern?

And really, how long did it take for Senator Brownback to snatch "the children" from the sideline of his silly argument above, thrust them in front of his "optimal setting", and march 'em around as his ideological hostage. Big tough gas soaked guy that he is.

"Children are raised in a lot of different settings nowadays. That's certainly the case. But we know the optimal place. We know the place we want to push for."

Yeah, I bet you do Brownback. And I'll bet you and your pushy "We" people would douse the US Constitution in gasoline and light it up like a cheap smudgepot faggot if you thought it would get you one foot closer to whatever delusive "optimal place" you've invented for yourself and all the sorry bastards who I'm convinced will one day follow you into the ninth circle of hell.

Ok, everyone relax. I'm just kidding. LOL! I don't really wish for Lucifer to gnaw on Sam Brownbacks frozen skull in the extreme "optimal" outbacks of pandemonium. Not yet anyway. But, I would like to offer Sam some old timey traditional American family value advice from the Great State of Kansas circa 1927. From a Hotel Kansan ("The Pride of Topeka"), guest welcome-flyer:

We may never see you, never get to know you, but just the same, we want you to feel that this is a HUMAN HOUSE, and not a soulless institution.

Human beings care for you here, make the bed and sweep the room, answer your telephone, run your errands, cook and serve your food. We keep a human being at the desk and a human being carries your valise. They are all made of flesh and blood, as you are; they have their interests, likes and dislikes, ambitions, dreams and disappointments, just as you have.

We are not going to intrude upon you, for one of the joys of being in a hotel is that you can be left alone.

May you rest well, "full of sweet sleep and dreams from head to feet!"

May you be healthy under this roof, and no evil befall your body or mind!

May every letter, telegram or telephone call you receive be of a kind to make you happier.

We are all travelers from the port of birth to the port of death, wanderers between the two eternities - for a little space you lodge with us - and we wish to put these good thoughts upon you - so God keep you, stranger, and bring you your heart's desire!

And when you go away, leave for this hotel a bit of a grateful feeling.

Honest, I didn't make that up. Not one word of it. I wish I did. Some anonymous person or persons composing hotel hello welcome handouts wrote that seventy seven years ago (thereabouts) and understood more about living free than a thousand Sam Brownbacks and his high and mighty holy-rolling horsemen of sanctimonious and apocryphal doom-channeling horseshit could ever fathom. Let alone scribble into the margins of the US Constitution. Hey! Who needs revealed religion and all that ornery crap when ya got a good hotel looking after you. Pretty simple if ya ask me.

Viva "The Pride of Topeka!" Whoever and wherever you may now be. "May you rest well, 'full of sweet sleep and dreams from head to feet!'"


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

NYT Finds Voting Problems Persist in Florida! 

Okay, I'll give 'em this: what we have here is a good summary of events. But there is virtually not one single new thing (exception noted below) in this piece which has not been covered, extensively, in detail, and with supporting documentation, in blogs (most emphatically including this one; we've been what some might call obsessive on the issue) for months now.

(via NYT (I bet you already guessed that!))
Three years after Gov. Jeb Bush announced a new voting system that he called "a model for the rest of the nation," Florida is grappling with some of the same problems that threw the 2000 presidential election into chaos, as well as new ones that critics say could cause even more confusion this November.
In fairness (no snickering there!), I will admit there was a mention of one detail I at least had not heard before:
The election reform coalition and other groups have also expressed concerns about a new policy on provisional ballots, used by Floridians if poll workers cannot verify their registration on the spot. The Legislature decided that provisional ballots cast outside a voter's home precinct can be thrown out, which voting-rights groups call unfair.
And just to get snarky again, this is the LAST paragraph of a two-page article. Yo! It's called burying the lead, dimwit NYT editors. Disputes about "home precincts" cause, in my experience, something like 99.9 percent of the problems which would cause provisional ballots to be called for. An honorable system would allow the vote to be cast, the correct precinct to be determined at the courthouse on the basis of the voter's ID, and the vote counted there. But this is Florida we're talking about, so the word "honorable" is hardly applicable.

If Only Republicans Got AIDS 

Back in the day, before Roe v Wade, Florynce Kennedy summed it up well: "If only men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."

It's the day of life and death in the fight against AIDS right now, not that it hasn't been for twenty years, and that line came back to me when reading this. News Flash! BushCo officials think that if you repeat a lie enough times it will somehow come true!

(via Reuters via WaPo)
The United States fought back Wednesday against widespread attacks on its AIDS policies, insisting it is leading the fight against the killer epidemic and spending more money on it than the rest of the world combined.

But it rejected a plea from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to inject $1 billion a year into a global AIDS fund.

"It's not going to happen," U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Randall Tobias told a small group of reporters at the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok.

Tobias, the former chairman and chief executive of U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, said the president's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief would buy safe and effective drugs from the cheapest source of supply.

Critics fear the requirement for FDA approval is a tactic to protect patented drug brands from U.S. pharmaceutical companies from cheap generic competitors.
Ya think??

God these people make me sick.

Stay Fat 

...if the only alternative is losing weight by use of this company's overpriced junk.

(via abcnews.go.com)

July 14, 2004 — NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comedian Whoopi Goldberg will no longer appear in ads for diet aid maker Slim-Fast following her lewd riff on President Bush's name at a fund-raiser last week, the company said on Wednesday.

Florida-based Slim-Fast said it was "disappointed" in Goldberg's remarks at last Thursday's $7.5 million star-studded fund-raiser at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
You know these products are bogus anyway, right? Eat mindfully and move around a little more, yada yada, or just get happy in your body. Send money formerly spent on Slim-Fast to Kerry.

And I don't have a link but a commenter over at Atrios, who claimed to have been at this fundraiser, said (paraphrased) "Whoopie's comments were PG-13 at worst. She didn't use ANY of the "seven dirty words you can't say on TV" unless you consider Bush, of itself, a dirty word."

Goodnight, moon 

Best line of the day:

President Bush should remember that a trial lawyer helped make him president. (back)

Let's hope someone in the Kerry camp reads that and feeds it up the chain to Edwards. I'd love to see him, well, Cheney Cheny.

"Ask the 'President'" 

Just don't ask him anything hard:

Welcome to "Ask the President," the latest wrinkle in Bush's efforts to project himself to voters as he ended a two-day campaign in the upper Midwest.

The format is nothing like the high-pressured, prime-time news conferences in the East Room of the White House. Yet as the relaxed, often jocular give-and-take here showed today, the approach affords Bush ample opportunity to tackle an array of issues — usually by falling back on his familiar talking points, but without fear of being interrupted or subjected to pointed follow-up interrogation.
(via LA Tims)

Isn't the real story here something that could be put a little less gently than this story puts it?

Bush is absolutely unwilling to make a campaign appearance unless he is surrounded, 100%, by supporters.

What does that tell us about the courage of the man?

And what does it tell us about how He would rule for the next four years?

The Wecovery: Hope you weren't planning on OT to pay the bills 

Because Bush is planning to gut OT protection:

The Economic Policy Institute's report estimated that among those who would lose overtime protection were nearly 2 million administrative workers who can be classified as "team leaders" and 920,000 workers who can be reclassified as a "learned professional" even though they do not have college degrees.

The EPI study also said 1.4 million workers who, because of the rules changes, can be reclassified as executives will lose overtime pay, as will an estimated 130,000 chefs and cooks, 160,000 financial service workers and 117,000 teachers and computer programmers.
(via AP)

"Learned professionals" but without a degree. Remind you of anything? Like "ketchup is a vegetable"?

Of course, the Republicans really think they've got a winner on their hands with this one—somuch so that they won't take it up 'til after the Democratic convention.

Lyrical nook: "They're beginning to look a lot like Fascists" 

A touch of sentiment from Lambert...

To the tune of, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas."

They're beginning to look a lot like Fascists
Ev'rywhere you go
Take a look in the Pentagon,
infested with neocons
With culture wars and media whores aglow

They're beginning to look a lot like Fascists
Toys for ev'ry war
But the prettiest sight to see
is the brownshirt that will be
At your own front door

A pair of hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Rummy and Dick
Pols that will talk but not walk the walk
Are the hope of Rove and the SICs
While Jebbie wires up Florida for the fix

They're beginning to look a lot like Fascists
Soon the guns will start
And the thing that will make them shoot
Is the stamp of the Bush jackboot
Right within your heart

Of course, there are many more verses. Readers?

NOTE Alert reader MJS, if you want to perfect this, by all means, take it away!

Drip, Drip, Drip 

The Atlanta paper has a very popular section known as "The Vent" which consists of what are essentially micro-letters to the editor. They can be sent by email but the person who picks them (known as "The Vent Guy," anonymity being important in this job for the sake of avoiding death threats) selects for local relevance along with humor when possible. These are from today's edition, with a few on non-political topics (HMO's, traffic and insect problems) omitted. Okay, one driving-related item left in because it's funny:

(via Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The Republicans don't want the FBI to know whether I buy assault weapons, but they do want them to know which books I check out of the library. I guess the pen is still mightier than the sword.

Life Lesson No. 5,622: When a law enforcement officer says to you, "No one goes through mah town that fast," don't respond with "Sherman did."

Forget winning the Cold War. Ronald Reagan's real legacy was that he took the guilt out of being affluent. No one had to worry about sharing anymore.

John Kerry thinks that by picking a Southerner for VP, he will automatically pick up part of the South. But being a Southerner does not cancel out Edwards being one of the top five liberal senators.

If many more of President Bush's buddies become convicted felons who can't vote, it could make the difference in a very close election.

OK, I finally thought of one accomplishment by Dubya. He's made his dad look like a great president and world leader.

Kerry and Edwards kind of remind me of Batman and Robin. Bush and Cheney remind me of Pinky and the Brain.

President Bush should remember that a trial lawyer helped make him president.
See? I left in one anti-Edwards comment too. Just to prove we're fair and balanced here. But even that one is pretty weak, particularly compared to the last item. Bush is in more trouble than he knows in the South.

Bush vs. Constitution: The right of the people peacably to assemble 

Gee, Bush just keeps having people arrested for thought-crime, doesn't he? (back and here and here)

Here's the latest:

It was a tightly controlled event staffed by dozens of volunteers with laminated badges. The Secret Service set up metal detectors and had mug shots of local anti-Bush activists Joel Kilgour and Joel Sipress.

He was briefly heckled by one man, who shouted "Shame on you" and was quickly led away by police.
(via the Duluth Tribune)

Why does Bush hate our freedoms?

NOTE The text of the first amendment is here.

"Oh Lord, Thy Lawyer Art On Line 3" 

Now I am not claiming God's copyright attorney is named Art. But the Almighty might want, in reverse of the usual order of things, to take a tip from BushCo folks and lawyer up. I think He's got a hell of a case v. a certain ex-judge:

(via the Alabama news summary)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Former Chief Justice Roy Moore told Justice Gorman Houston that Houston was damned to hell for "covering God" when Houston removed Moore's Ten Commandments monument from public display in Alabama's judicial building, Houston said.

Moore denied making the comment.
That's not even the fun part, although St. Roy might want to take a break from Ten-Commandmenting long enough to read the line about "judgement is mine, sayeth the Lord." However, just in case you thought damning somebody to eternal torment was a tad presumptuous, getta loada THIS:
Speaking to a civic club Tuesday, Houston said he last talked to Moore at 6:54 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2003, when Houston was in his office and Moore was at home.

"Roy told me in that four-minute conversation that I was damned to hell, that there was nothing I could ever do to change that, because I was covering God," said Houston. "I was speechless."

When he last talked to Moore, Houston said, the only thing he could think about was the time two years earlier, on Aug. 1, 2001, when the court building's manager took him to see Moore's monument before it had been unveiled. He said the monument was covered with a cloth and tied with a cord.

"I did not remove the cloth. However, I held up the bottom of the cloth and the first thing I saw, carved into the monument, was `Copyright, 2001, Roy S. Moore,'" Houston said.
I will give serious thought to abandoning my lifelong agnosticism as soon as "Judge" Moore is smitten with lightning, or boils, or some other suitably Old Testamentish affliction, preferably in as public a venue as possible. Reader suggestions on additional punishments--preferably with a Biblical connection--cordially invited.

Bush twin watch: All the respect they deserve 

Little Babs was such a sense of impunity! A Manhattan hostess writes:

Fifteen minutes later, I step outside to make sure the entrance is swept, and there I see Barbara [Bush] bent over, hands on her knees, out on the sidewalk. "Are you all right?" I ask. Please, I think, don't let me see her throw up.

She spits on the pavement. "Yeah, I just needed some fresh air," she says. She stands and I see her forehead is damp with sweat. It must be 20 degrees out, and windy. I want to go back into the warm restaurant, but I stay with her.

I massage her back for a moment. Finally she lets out a loud burp, mumbles, "Excuse me" and returns inside.
(via NY Times)

Frankly, at this point, I think the whole country needs a little fresh air.

And maybe an "Excuse me" or two, as well.

"Excuse me" for the WMD lies....

"Excuse me" for trampling on the Bill of Rights....

"Excuse me" for pushing a Constitutional Amendment just to fluff the base....

The list could go on.

"Burp", indeed.

"He's the joking-around-to-the-point-where-he-scares-the-heck-out-of-them type." 


So if I'm safer, how come the Republicans keep warning me about terror attacks? 

Just asking.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Don't you love the Republicans? I do. They dream the impossible dream!

First, we have Dick "Dick" Cheney dreaming an impossible anatomical dream: "Go fuck yourself!"

And today, we have Tom "Don't call me Frenchy!" DéLay's media rent-boy dreaming an impossible conceptual dream—"caricature assassination"...

How does one assassinate a caricature? I can't quite get it straight in my mind...

I like to think the Republicans aren't tracking too well right now because... Well, because when they dream they wake up screaming....

Night, all ...

Our CEO President: One page memo trips Inerrant Boy up yet again 

It's always the coverup that kills you, right? Only one day, and the Republican CYA CIA strategy of blaming the Iraq WMD fiasco 100% on the CIA, and 0% on Inerrant Boy is starting to fall apart:

The White House and the Central Intelligence Agency have refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee a one-page summary of prewar intelligence in Iraq prepared for President Bush that contains few of the qualifiers and none of the dissents spelled out in longer intelligence reviews, according to Congressional officials.

So, they gave Him the black and white, "don't do nuance" view that they knew He wanted to hear, right?

Senate Democrats claim that the document could help clear up exactly what intelligence agencies told Mr. Bush about Iraq's illicit weapons. The administration and the C.I.A. say the White House is protected by executive privilege, and Republicans on the committee dismissed the Democrats' argument that the summary was significant

They would. Gee, it's funny how everything that makes Bush look good is disclosed, and everything that makes Him look like what He is is suppressed, isn't it?

The review, prepared for President Bush in October 2002, summarized the findings of a classified, 90-page National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's illicit weapons. Congressional officials said that notes taken by Senate staffers who were permitted to review the document show that it eliminated references to dissent within the government about the National Intelligence Estimate's conclusions.
(via Times)

Oh, and the "yet again" part?

Bush has a habit of making life-and-death decisions based on sloppy one-page memos written by his fluffers. As we wrote back in December:

Think! What about [current WhiteWash House Counsel and torture apologist] Alberto Gonzales pimping 56 easy kills for Bush in Texas, detailed in The Texas Clemency Memos? What kind of a man [Bush] signs a death warrant on the basis of "the most cursory briefings"?

It really is a question of character, isn't it? Fool me once....

"Gay Marriage Ban Divides Senate Republicans; Aim Now to Salvage Respectable Defeat" 

Now that's the kind of headline I like to see!

Story here.

Of course, the question is what "respectable" means to a Republican, these days. Shameless?

I wonder what the problem could have been? Inadequate funding?

Wadda Revoltin' Development 

So I get to the Blogger Main Screen to Post Stuff On and see this little notice:
Scheduled Downtime
We are planning to have 2 hours of downtime tomorrow night, July 13, between 8p-10p (Pacific Time). Blogging should resume as normal after 10p.
Do please note that this is Blogger doing this, not Corrente. Whether this means the pages will be down completely, or whether it just means we won't be able to put up new and scintillating (or even stale and boring) material during this blackout is not specified. You know all that we do.

So if you come here during those hours and we're not home, don't be overly concerned. It's not Ashcroft's doing.


And oh yeah, keep in mind that a lot of the sites you are accustomed to visiting also use Blogger: Atrios, Digby's Hullabaloo, Orcinus, Hoffmania, et numerous cetera, so they'll be in the same boat. Take this opportunity to expand your reading around the blogosphere. Just remember to come back afterwards!

Bush AWOL: There are two sets of microfilm, not one 

Froomkin clarifies (and rocks).

The microfilm that was "inadvertently destroyed" is not the same as the microfilm that AP is suing to have released:

The microfilm that the Pentagon reported destroyed was housed at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Denver and consisted only of a few months of payroll records -- albeit some of them from during the hotly contested third quarter of 1972.

The Associated Press lawsuit that Tomlin filed is for the microfilm of Bush's entire personnel file from the Texas Air National Guard. Those records are in Austin.

Gee, I thought that "all" the Bush service records had already been released? That's what Bush promised, so it must have happened, right?

Classics in winger projection, part 1,000,000 

Tom "Don't call me Frenchy!" DéLay flak Jonathan Grella says:

"The last sign of a defeated and intellectually bankrupt party is a hate-filled strategy of caricature assassination,"
(via AP)


Monday, July 12, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

I still can't believe that battle has finally been joined. And we've all been working so hard for a year... Hey farmer, what's hardest to spread? Memes, or fertilizer? And make up your own jokes.

Anyhow, I keep reading little snide comments on Kerry's lackluster campaign, blah blah blah. Seems to me he's keeping his head down pretty successfully, and so far has avoided being Gored. He might not get more than one really good shot at Bush, and so he's maneuvering carefully.

On the one really big decision Kerry has had to make: Edwards. Hard to quarrel with that.

Uniform Code 

Ever wonder why Dear Leader is so often photographed in front of military people who are in full uniform, while JFK's veteran friends have to appear in scruffy old camo jackets? We have all noted Dear Leader's terrified petulance at the prospect of appearing before any audience thought likely to be less than properly reverential (like the NAACP for instance), and the corresponding fondness for "speeches" to groups in uniform. Turns out there are rules for such things.

(via defenselink.mil (note the ".mil" there, this is official):

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 12, 2004 -- With election activity steadily picking up, defense officials remind members of the military and Defense Department civilians that they're subject to rules regulating their involvement in political activities....

Steve Epstein, director of the DoD General Counsel's Standards of Conduct Office said two sets of rules help protect the integrity of the political process: a DoD directive for active-duty service members and the Hatch Act for federal civilians. These rules keep the military out of partisan politics and ensure that the workplace remains politically neutral, he said....

Of all DoD employees, the men and women in uniform have the most restrictions regarding political activity, he explained.

For example, service members as well as government civilians can attend political meetings or rallies. Military members can attend only as spectators and not in uniform. They're not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups, or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions.

While the dos and don'ts concerning political activity may vary, Epstein said the basic rules hold true for all DoD workers. They can't use their position to influence or interfere with an election. And they can never engage in political activity on the job, in a government vehicle, or while wearing an official uniform.
Of course these rules don't apply to an "official presidential address," just to a "campaign speech." Since the Dear Leader's words are virtually identical at both, and the SCLM is not scrupulous about clarifying to viewers whether speeches are "official" or "political," some people might get the impression that uniformed service people love Dear Leader.

"I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that." 

And speaking of the sanctity of marriage, heh heh heh ....

WARNING: Click on that link only if you enjoy sleazy British tabloids.

Jeebofascist watch: Over time, we win 

The numbers tell the story:

Americans who attend church one or more times a week indeed favored George W. Bush in 2000. But the Americans who don't — a clear majority — favored Al Gore. The vaunted "Christian right" is, demographically speaking, a stagnant pool: 17% of voters in 1996 and shrinking. The really dynamic voting bloc is made up of those who darken a church's doorstep once a year or less. In 1972, they were 18% of voters; in 1998, 30%. And they don't like Bush.
(via LA Times)

That's why they're so desperate, and willing to do anything.


How the Chimps Stole the Election! 

A long-overdue front page appearance for MJS, Poet Laureate of Regime Change in America:

(via back here in comments from "Naw, They'd Never Do THAT!")
How the Chimps Stole the Election!

Every Blue down in Blueville
Liked elections, somewhat
But the Chimps who lived rightward of Blueville

The chimps hated elections
The whole voting season
We all know why this is:
voters might use their reason!


If the good residents of Whoville could not be deterred from celebrating a traditional holiday--though a great injustice had been done to them--what are we to tell our children: that Democracy turns tail and runs when attacked, that free elections cower and hide?

Is that what we'll tell little Cindy Lou Who, who was not more than two?

MEDDLING EDITOR'S NOTE: I took the liberty of fiddling with the scansion in Lines 3 and 7. Purists and compilers of Collected Works of MJS should click the link above, or scroll down about 2 posts to comments and get the original.

Wingers crawfishing on wording of anti-gay marriage amendment 

And we all thought they had put so much thought into it! Who knew?

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said there was "great interest" among Republicans for a simpler approach that would add only one line to the U.S. Constitution: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman."

Democrats rejected Frist's request to hold votes on both it and the original version that included another sentence: "Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any state, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidence thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."

Proponents of the amendment said they included the second sentence to clarify that state legislatures - but not courts - could still establish laws recognizing civil unions and domestic partnerships between two people of the same sex.

No, proponents of the bill included that line to make sure gay marrieds couldn't get work benefits, or hospital visitation, or visitation rights, or adopt children. For heaven's sake.

Beware of Republicans bearing clarifications...

Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay political organization, said the last-minute effort to get votes on two different versions reflected a lack of care in drafting the amendment.

"I think it is outrageous and frankly surreal that at the 11th hour in this debate, they are literally rewriting the Constitution on the back of a napkin," she said.
(via AP)

Good shot, Cheryl! But with Bush all in a muck sweat to fluff a few more thousand votes out of the base, what's a little ol' thing like our Constitution matter?

Is This What They Meant By "Sacred Honor"?  

So it looks like I'm finally going to a Democratic Meetup tomorrow night since enough people finally signed up this month. (Davis-Kidd Bookstore cafe, Jackson Tennessee if yer in the vicinity.)

Listed on the agenda was a discussion of Michael's Pledge, Mr. Moore's suggestions for GOTV efforts. Most are the usual...carry a stack of registration forms around and sign people up, volunteer at Dem HQ for whatever scutwork needs doing, cut work or school on election day to drive people around, you know the routine.

Then we get to THIS little item:
Or get more creative. Offer a six-pack to anyone in the office who votes (make sure you're not working in cubicles full of Republicans!). Promise to have sex with a nonvoter - whatever it takes!
Now we're going to ignore the phrasing here--I am sure Michael means "have sex with somebody who doesn't usually vote as long as they DO vote on this occasion." Mike's a filmmaker, not an English teacher.

But to the question: Would you, to save your country, have sex with somebody to get them to vote?

Caveats: Those in committed relationships, pretend for the sake of discussion that you're not. Or that your partner(s) would love and admire you all the more for your willingness to make this sacrifice for your nation.

And oh yeah, this hypothetical person should be one with whom you would NOT just as soon have sex anyway, with or without electoral consequences. This is supposed to be a serious moral question, not an excuse for you to excercise your lascivious imagination. You can do that on your own time.


Light a Little Candle  

Dam' gummint ennyway, innerferin' wit' ar rats. Oops, this isn't from some hick town in the South, it's from Cedar Freakin' Rapids Iowa. How depressing is that?

(via Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- A church's plan for an old-fashioned book-burning has been thwarted by city and county fire codes.

Preachers and congregations throughout American history have built bonfires and tossed in books and other materials they believed offended God. The Rev. Scott Breedlove, pastor of The Jesus Church, wanted to rekindle that tradition in a July 28 ceremony where books, CDs, videos and clothing would have been thrown into the flames.

Not so fast, city officials said.

``We don't want a situation where people are burning rubbish as a recreational fire,'' said Brad Brenneman, the fire department's district chief.

Linn County won't go for a fire outside city limits, either. Officials said the county's air quality division prohibits the transporting of materials from the city to the county for burning.

Breedlove said a city fire inspector suggested shredding the offending material, but Breedlove said that wouldn't seem biblical.

The new plan calls for members of the church to throw materials into garbage cans and then light candles to symbolically ``burn'' the material.
How about we nominate Rev. Breedlove as Official Pastor of the Bush Administration, just so he can remind them as often as necessary of the "unbibilical" nature of paper-shredding? The Cedar Rapids Fire Department might chip in on his moving expenses too.

Department of "No! They would never do that!" Postponing the November election 

Funny how all that heavy sarcasm about "we're the government and we're here to help you" melts away as soon as the Republicans start consolidating their hold on power, isn't it? From USA today (funny how Pravda on the Potomac and Isvestia on the Hudson aren't following up on this):

Counterterrorism officials are looking into the possibility of postponing the November presidential election if there is a terrorist attack at election time, Newsweek reported Sunday.

Newsweek said DeForest Soaries, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, wants Ridge to ask Congress to pass legislation giving the government power to cancel or reschedule a federal election. Soaries said New York suspended primary elections on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, but the federal government does not appear to have that authority.
(via USA Today)

Tom brought us up to date on this one; and I thought I was paranoid back in March: "Wingers laying the groundwork for postponing November elections". Not!

Seems to me, that in a democracy, we would want legislation to make sure that elections were held no matter what. Since otherwise, the terrorists have won, right?

Wouldn't it be a shame if election 2000 turned out to be our last free election, eh?

NOTE: Despite the spreading winger meme that the Spanish caved to AQ after the Madrid bombing, we saw that one coming and thoroughly debunked it at the time. NTodd has some typically fine analysis.

Health care: Not only do the Republicans oppose universal health insurance for us, they want to destroy if for other! 

Of course, worrying about importing cheap prescription drugs from countries with national health insurance is just tinkering round the edges, since it's the market clout of the single payer that keeps the prices low. Of course, Bush wants drugs to be expensive here and everywhere:

Congress is poised to approve an international trade agreement that could have the effect of thwarting a goal pursued by many lawmakers of both parties: the import of inexpensive prescription drugs to help millions of Americans without health insurance.

The agreement, negotiated with Australia by the Bush administration, would allow pharmaceutical companies to prevent imports of drugs to the United States and also to challenge decisions by Australia about what drugs should be covered by the country's health plan, the prices paid for them and how they can be used.
(via NY Times)

And after the Australians joined the coalition of the willling. That's Bush gratitude for you!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Ding, Dong, DeLay's Done Gone 

There's a moment in every movie: Dorothy throws the bucket of water on the Wicked Witch. Michael Moore reads from "1984." Darth Vader's ship goes spinning away as the Death Star explodes in the skies over Yavin 4*. You know, the moment when the bad guy gets his comeuppance?

Via WaPo towards whom I am feeling very kindly at the moment):

In May 2001, Enron's top lobbyists in Washington advised the company chairman that then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was pressing for a $100,000 contribution to his political action committee, in addition to the $250,000 the company had already pledged to the Republican Party that year.

DeLay requested that the new donation come from "a combination of corporate and personal money from Enron's executives," with the understanding that it would be partly spent on "the redistricting effort in Texas," said the e-mail to Kenneth L. Lay from lobbyists Rick Shapiro and Linda Robertson.

The e-mail, which surfaced in a subsequent federal probe of Houston-based Enron, is one of at least a dozen documents obtained by The Washington Post that show DeLay and his associates directed money from corporations and Washington lobbyists to Republican campaign coffers in Texas in 2001 and 2002 as part of a plan to redraw the state's congressional districts.

Texas law bars corporate financing of state legislature campaigns, and a Texas criminal prosecutor is in the 20th month of digging through records of the fundraising, looking at possible violations of at least three statutes.

Documents unearthed in the probe make clear that DeLay was central to creating and overseeing the fundraising.
Go read the rest when you get time. But from the looks of this, Gollum has just toppled into the Cracks of Doom, and Sauron's about to bite the big one.

UPDATE: *Thanks to alert reader Salvage who caught me putting two scenes together from two different movies where Darth Vader gets his comeuppance.

And to other alert readers who question the immediate significance of this story to the central issue of bringing down the Imperial stormtroopers...er, I mean the BushCo administration, this is an indirect strike. Tom DeLay used Enron and other illegal corporate money to hijack the redistricting of Texas. Getting that overturned is huge in itself. Getting rid of him personally is just a side benefit, albeit a particularly satisfying one because he is such a self-satisfied sanctimonius little creep.

Goodnight, moon 

Hey, my Mom notices that Jenna's out on the campaign trail, and she isn't impressed. Being a good liberal, I won't repeat her size-ist remarks...

From drip, drip, drip to splash, splash, splash.... 

The 911 Commission report is coming out next week:

Working in secret, the Sept. 11 commission is finishing a final report that several members believe will be done by week's end and have unanimous support.
(via AP)

Pass the popcorn!

Election 2004: Whistleblowers sue Deibold, could win millions 

Heh. More power to them. Tell me it's not a great country!

Critics of electronic voting are suing Diebold Inc. under a whistleblower law, alleging that the company's shoddy balloting equipment exposed California elections to hackers and software bugs.

California's attorney general unsealed the lawsuit Friday. It was filed in November but sealed under a provision that keeps such actions secret until the government decides whether to join the plaintiffs.

Lawmakers from Maryland to California are expressing doubts about the integrity of paperless voting terminals made by several large manufacturers, which up to 50 million Americans will use in November.

The California lawsuit was filed in state court by computer programmer Jim March and activist Bev Harris, who are seeking full reimbursement for Diebold equipment purchased in California.

Issues cited by the case include Diebold's use of uncertified hardware and software, and modems that may have allowed election results to be published online before polls closed.

They are asking California to join the lawsuit against Diebold. The state has not yet made a decision.

State election officials have spent at least $8 million on paperless touchscreen machines. Alameda County, for one, has spent at least $11 million.

Under the whistleblower statute, March and Harris could collect up to 30 percent of any reimbursement.

"This is about money now - a case of the capitalist system at work," said March, of Sacramento. "The laws on voting products and processes are unfortunately unclear. But the law on defrauding the government is really, really clear. Going after the money trail is cleaner than going after proper procedures."
(via AP)

Well. Surely Deibold's equipment is up to spec, and so this lawsuit should be easy to dismiss. Right?

Of course, all this assumes that we will, in fact, have an election...

CIA CYA: Even Spiky isn't buying the cover story 

Somehow—could it be that it's an election year?—the Republican Senate Intelligence committee released a report on the flawed intelligence the administration used to sell the Iraq war without mentioning that Bush didn't care whether the intelligence was flawed or not, as long it supported the conclusion he wanted. Michael Isikoff takes a more fair and balanced approach:

[There are] many wince-inducing moments to be found in the 500-page Senate report, which lays out how the U.S. intelligence community utterly failed to accurately assess the state of Saddam Hussein's programs for weapons of mass destruction—and how White House and Pentagon officials, intent on taking the country to war, unquestioningly embraced the flawed conclusions.

Taken together, the facts in the report show that virtually every major claim President George W. Bush used to justify the invasion of Iraq—from Saddam's growing nuclear program to his close ties with Al Qaeda—was either wrong or exaggerated.
(via Newsweek)

When even a whore like Isikoff—so instrumental in the slow-moving, media-fuelled Repubublican coup against Clinton—isn't buying, you know the administration is in "deep doo doo."

The report did offer the administration one consolation: the investigators said they found no overt evidence that intelligence-
community officials were directly pressured to distort their findings.

Except, as usual, as soon as you look at the detail, the Bush cover story falls apart:

Some U.S. intelligence analysts complained to the CIA ombudsman that "the constant questions and requests to reexamine the issue of Iraq's links to terrorism [were] unreasonable and took away from their valuable analytic time." When the CIA reached a measured and ambiguous view of the connection—"Iraq and Al-Qaeda: Interpreting a Murky Relationship" was the title of one June 2002 report—a team of Pentagon hard-liners under the direction of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith strongly challenged the agency's conclusions. An August 2002 briefing that the Pentagon team gave to the then CIA Director George Tenet pushed evidence that Iraq might have been involved in the 9/11 attack. Their prime piece of evidence: alleged meetings in Prague between lead hijacker Muhammad Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent. In fact, the committee found that the meetings likely never occurred.

I wonder if Dick "Dick" Cheney keeps pushing the Atta "connection" because that one would be the easiest to fake, as a little surprise?

The Pentagon team brandished a photo of a supposed October 1999 meeting between Atta and the Iraqi agent that turned out to be bogus. The Qaeda terrorist was actually in Egypt visiting his family when the rendezvous supposedly took place. Tenet "didn't think much of" the briefing, he told committee investigators, so the Pentagon team took its case to Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Stephen Hadley, the deputy national-security adviser. There they found a much more receptive audience. Libby asked for follow-up, including "a chronology of Atta's travels."

If you know anything about DC, "pressure" is exactly what Feith, Libby, Hadley, and Cheney are applying here. Essentially, they're saying "Wrong answer." No government worker, not even a civil-service protected analyst, can be unaware of the career-destroying consequences of continuing to come up with "the wrong answer." Especially for an administration with a well-earned reputation for ruthlessness and intimidation.

CIA CYA (back). That's all it is.

And the Boy Emperor's naked ass is still hanging out there, for all to see. Even a little child like Spiky.

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