Saturday, July 24, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Wow. Looks like the Times is actually covering a real story (Xan).

$300 million would buy an awful lot of whores, wouldn't it?

Republican family values: The values of the Scaife, Bradley, Olin, and Coors familes, that is 

This may be the last election in which you will vote for a Democrat.

Yeah, you read that right. Now pick your jaw up off the floor. Then grab a soothing beverage and get ready for the roller-coaster ride of a lifetime. Folks, this one is big:

(via NYT)
[Rob] Stein read a few reports that liberal research groups had published on the rise of the conservative movement. Then he began poring over tax forms from various conservative nonprofits and aggregating the data about fund-raising and expenditures. He spent hours online every night, between about 9 p.m. and 1 in the morning, reading sites like MediaTransparency.org, which is devoted to tracing the roots of conservative groups and their effect on the media. To call this an obsession somehow seems too mundane; Stein spent much of the spring of 2003 consumed with connecting the dots of what Hillary Clinton famously called the ''vast right-wing conspiracy'' and then translating it into flow charts and bullet points.

The presentation itself, a collection of about 40 slides titled ''The Conservative Message Machine's Money Matrix,'' essentially makes the case that a handful of families -- Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Coors and others -- laid the foundation for a $300 million network of policy centers, advocacy groups and media outlets that now wield great influence over the national agenda. The network, as Stein diagrams it, includes scores of powerful organizations -- most of them with bland names like the State Policy Network and the Leadership Institute -- that he says train young leaders and lawmakers and promote policy ideas on the national and local level. These groups are, in turn, linked to a massive message apparatus, into which Stein lumps everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to Pat Robertson's ''700 Club.'' And all of this, he contends, is underwritten by some 200 ''anchor donors.'' ''This is perhaps the most potent, independent institutionalized apparatus ever assembled in a democracy to promote one belief system,'' he said.

''What you need to understand about me is that I try to be respectful and objective about this,'' Stein went on. ''Not only is it a legitimate exercise in democracy, but I think they came up with some extraordinary ideas.'' The problem, he said, was that conservatives had moved beyond those policy ideas, into the realm of attack and innuendo. And Democrats had to understand that they were overmatched.
So Rob Stein and his Powerpoint presentation went forth and...Oh hell, I can't begin to summarize it here. Go read the whole (11 pages!) thing. Then come back and talk. This will be all over the place tomorrow, and believe me, you'll need a head start to wrap your mind around it. This is--just maybe--the dream we've been waiting for!

Bush AWOL: Advancing the story past the mysteriously missing DD214 

Asked, "Where is the DD214?!" alert reader and AWOL Payroll Records Jedi Master Paul Lukasiak adds in comments:

I'm not certain there is one. The DD214 is called the "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty ."

HOWEVER I JUST saw this...)

on the order which SUPPOSEDLY gives Bush an "honorable discharge", the following words appear...

"DD FORM 258AF will be furnished"

And I just found this in the Code of Federal regulations, 32 CFR 887.7 [PDF]

(d) If (obsolete form) DD Form 258AF, Undesirable Discharge Certificate, has been issued,

Aargh! On "the order" where? Which document? Don't keep us in suspense!

Heh. One more Saturday Night, eh?

I looked up into heaven, lord I saw a mighty sign
Writ in fire across the heaven, plain as black and white
Get prepared, there's gonna be a party tonight

Bunch of bloggers poring over documents, timelines, the US Code, and lots of archives ... I love it!

UPDATE In the previous post, Paul Lukasiak gives the URLs for the documents that mention the DD Form 258AF. There are two, both from USA Today (take that, Pravda on the Potomac and Isvestia on the Hudson). Here they are:

Original here

and here

As Paul notes:

It turns out that there is also a DD Form 256AF, which was used for honorable discharges from the reserves. (this is probably the form that was used under normal circumstances instead of a DD214.)

So, is it a DD258 or a DD256? If the latter, that's the honoranble discharge form. Still, it looks like an "8" to my eye. And, to be fair to Bush, both letters do use the word "honorably" (apparently, you can commit payroll fraud and not show up for a medical exam, and still be discharged honorably. Oh-ka-a-a-a-y....)

Of course, all this could be solved very simply: Bush could simply authorize release of all the files, as he promised (back) he would do, but has not done. I wonder why?

Bush AWOL: The Fraudster-in-Chief pulled a fast one in Alabama 

AWOL Payroll Records Jedi Master Paul Lukasiak reviews the bidding:

An examination of George W. Bush’s payroll records leads to the conclusion that Bush consciously and deliberately defrauded the United States government for pay and “points” to which he was not entitled. The White House probably doesn’t even know that the payroll records include the data necessary to prove fraud---the proof is found in the “incomprehensible” lines of data at the bottom of the payroll records.

But an examination of the payroll records themselves within the context of the laws and policies concerning pay and credit for training shows that up to two thirds of the money and points Bush received [were] fraudulent.

This article will explain what the policies were, what the payroll records reveal, and how it was impossible for Bush to legitimately receive the credit and pay for the “training” he supposed performed. It will also explore the ways in which these payroll records interface both with other documents in the Bush files and with public statements made by individuals who were involved in this controversy, and demonstrate how there is only one conclusion to be drawn from these records.

George W. Bush committed fraud in claiming credit and pay for most of the “training” he supposedly did in his last twelve months as a member of the Air National Guard.
(via The AWOL Project)

Bush? Paid for work he never did? Who knew?

Lest this work be dismissed as "tinfoil hat"-style ravings, our attention was first drawn to Paul's work by Orcinus (here). Paul is the kind of guy who works out what the holes in the 1970s payroll punch cards mean. In short, he's the kind of investigative journalist... Sorry, you ask: What does "investigative journalist" mean? Well, back in the days when we had a free press....

Anyhow, go read it all, master and savor the detail.

UPDATE Alert reader shystee points us to this handy chart by UggaBugga.

Bush AWOL: Busted! [encore presentation] 

NOTE: Paul Lukasiak seems to be the only man on the planet who understands the Bush military records in depth. Let's remember, in all the furor about the "inadvertently destroyed" records that turned up in an "unlabeled binder" (back), that Bush is already busted. The story is written. It just a distribution problem....

Paul Lukasiak—and why our free press hasn't picked up this material, I cannot imagine—has made himself the expert on aWol's military records. He's learned to decipher the punch cards the military's payroll system used back then, for example. His incredibly detailed analysis is here. Go read.

But I'm a bottom line kinda guy, so I asked Paul:

So the bottom line is... Well, can we nail him?

And Paul answered:

Yeah, well, we can prove that he did not "do his duty", we can prove that the Air Force knew about it and dealt with it, and we can prove that he requested and received pay and training credits to which he was not entitled....

So I guess you can call that "nailing" him.

Now all we have to do is push this story forward to the SCLM.

That should be easy, right? Since we have a free press? And it would seem that the actual military service of a "War time President" would be a reasonable issue to bring up in an election year?

Friday, July 23, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Maybe this weekend I'll go see "The Corporation." Since I've been deep in the bowels of one for six months, now, maybe it's time I figured out what was going on...

Really great political scandals develop their own splendid vocabulary. Nixon gave us the "-gate" locution, for example. So it's a very good sign that the ongoing saga of Bush's mysteriously incomplete military records is developing its own, weirdly deadpan, style. Why, just in the last two weeks we've had "inadvertantly destroyed," and today "unlabeled binder." And who can forget that hardy perennial, aWol? Great metaphors, all of them, catchy, and OpEd ready.

And funny, we haven't heard from Jenna in the last few days. I wonder why? Has she been muzzled?

Bush AWOL: More on the records 

Well, well! The maladministration found Bush's "inadvertently destroyed" payroll records after all (Xan, writing for the Department of "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?").

More detail is emerging, and here's the money quote from Reuters:

[Defense Finance and Accounting Service spokesman Bryan Hubbard said] that after the Pentagon announced two weeks ago that the records were lost, officials went back to double check, and found an "unlabeled binder" that led them to the right place.
(via Reuters)

Heh heh heh. An "unlabeled binder".... I wonder how many other "unlabeled binders" there are that Bush is praying never get found?


NOTE The headline on the Reuters piece is "Bush's Military Records Fail to Dispel AWOL Charges." Now that's the kind of balanced coverage I like to see.

Platform Boots 

With the convention coming up shortly, much blather is often written about party platforms. In recent decades these documents, particularly, alas, on the D side of the aisle, have become bland and mushy meanderings, designed to appeal to all, offend none, and stupefy anyone foolish enough to attempt to actually read the thing.

This was not always the case. Here's my thought: We ought to hack into the party database, list off the tops of our heads the first couple of hundred offenses Bushco has perpetrated against the body politic, and conclude with this, preferably read by the Rev. Al Sharpton:
That all these things have been done with the knowledge, sanction, and procurement of the present National Administration; and that for this high crime against the Constitution, the Union, and humanity, we arraign that Administration, the President, his advisers, agents, supporters, apologists, and accessories, either before or after the fact, before the country and before the world; and that it is our fixed purpose to bring the actual perpetrators of these atrocious outrages and their accomplices to a sure and condign punishment thereafter.
And when the media mavens and spokespersons of the Other Side have been revived with smelling salts from their fainting couches, and start to burble and whine all over themselves about how we are all just a bunch of MEANIES to say such awful things, we can confess where we got the idea:

the platform of the Republican Party, 1856.
(with thanks to Meteor Blades over at dKos)

Surprise! It's Friday Afternoon! 

Whee-doggies, Jethro! Lookee wuch ah found here unner this rock. And with a wrong number on it, dad-nabbit, guess that was why ah couldn't turn it up earlier. Dawg musta buried it here Ah gess...

(via WaPo)
The Pentagon on Friday released payroll records from President Bush's 1972 service in the Alabama National Guard, saying its earlier contention the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight."

The records cover July through September of 1972, when Bush was working as a campaign volunteer in Alabama. The future president had been transferred from the Texas Air National Guard to the Alabama unit so he could stay in Alabama.

The Pentagon had said that the payroll records for that time period had been inadvertently destroyed.

In a letter to The Associated Press Friday, Pentagon freedom of information chief C.Y. Talbot said the records couldn't be found earlier because officials were using the wrong index number.

The Associated Press was evaluating the documents.
The stack of items filed under "How stupid do they think we are, anyway?" has grown to the point it threatens to topple and crush us all. The best line in this one is the last....that means more to come.

The Gang that Couldn't Steal Straight? 

It sounds like a great plan: You install your CEO as vice-president of the United States, and give him a brainless puppet of a president to command. Then you cook up a war and arrange to cut out any competitors, like the French oil-services giant Schlumberger, who might compete with you or your subsidiaries like KBR for a share of the biggest rakeoff from the US Treasury since Teapot Dome.

And you STILL manage to lose money?

(via Chicago Tribune business section)
HOUSTON -- An unexpected charge on a troublesome project off the coast of Brazil pushed Halliburton Co. to a $663 million net loss in the second quarter, the company announced Friday.
Miscellaneous details on revenue-per-share and analysts expectations, blah blah blah, omitted. For details read the Trib story.
Halliburton said the increase in revenues was "largely attributable" to its KBR subsidiary's government contracts in the Middle East.
Um, yeah, we heard about those. But wait! Is there another hint of a dark cloud on the revenue horizons, currently just a faint blur about the size of a man's hand?
Congress is investigating allegations that Halliburton overcharged the government on contracts related to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and the company denies any wrongdoing.

The charge on the Brazil project emerged upon a detailed review that revealed higher cost estimates, schedule delays and other contingencies that Halliburton hadn't anticipated.
Or is it just possible that Halliburton runs its books the way Hollywood studios do, making sure that losses are huge and public while profits are carefully hidden away so that only the insiders get a share of the net?

Just askin'...

Froomkin on the 9/11 report 

Froomkin is such a contrast to Howie the Whore. Here he is on the 9/11 report. Though Bush dodged a bullet, he may not dodge a fast-moving cancer on the Presidency:

Underneath its everyone's-to-blame veneer, the report includes some weighty assertions that are potentially very damaging to the White House.

The report, for instance, criticizes the concept of the "war on terror" that has been the signature issue of Bush's presidency. It concludes that what is required to defeat Islamist terrorism is something more nuanced [Heh.—Ed.] than that. And it does not support the argument that the war on Iraq was either related to or helpful in that quest.

And its activist list of proposals puts Bush in a reactive posture during a campaign season when he wants to convey a sense of steady and strong leadership.
(via WaPo)

The curious incident of the dog in the night.

"[Glenn Kessler] The report argues that the notion of fighting an enemy called 'terrorism' is too diffuse and vague to be effective. Strikingly, the report makes no reference to the invasion of Iraq as being part of the war on terrorism, a frequent assertion of President Bush and his top aides."

Then, of course, there's the biggest of the Bush Big Lies:

[R. Jeffrey Smith] "Although recent polls have shown that more than 40 percent of the American public is still convinced that Iraq collaborated with al Qaeda and had a role in the terrorist attacks, the commission reported finding no evidence of a 'collaborative operational relationship' between the two or an Iraqi role in attacking the United States. .

The shoot-down orders:

[Spencer Hsu and Bradley Graham]: "An order issued by Vice President Cheney to shoot down threatening aircraft over Washington was not passed on to the pilots of two jet fighters scrambled from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, because military commanders 'were unsure how the pilots would, or should, proceed with this guidance,' the report says.

They would have been unsure because Cheney is not in the chain of command and could not, legally, have given that order.

So, lots of material for a drip, drip, drip approach. And perhaps the real debate should focus on what has been done since 9/11 on things like port security.

Bush torture policies: Army study saying "no systemic flaws" cooks the books 

From the Department of "Why Do They Think We Don't Keep Track":

An Army investigation disclosed Thursday that it had reviewed nearly 100 cases involving prisoners in U.S. hands who were abused or died in custody in Iraq and elsewhere, but described the misconduct as "aberrations" committed by a few soldiers — not a systemic failure.

However, the total number of abused prisoners is likely to be considerably higher. The report, for example, counts multiple incidents of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad as a single case.
(via LA Times)

Well, that's one way to keep the numbers down!

And the Army had so much confidence in the report that they released it on the same day that the 9/11 Commission released its report. Though I'm all for transparency in government, that's just a little too transparent for me....

Orwell watch: Ignorance is strength 

Don't you just love the way Bush has renamed the GAO from the "Government Accounting Office" to the "Government Accountability Office"?

Say, wasn't it the GAO that Dick "Dick" Cheney told to go Cheney themselves when they tried to let citizens see the records that Cheney wanted to keep secret? See, we're stronger when we're ignorant...

Oh, wait. Silly me! Accountability is for other people!

Anyhow, Krugman has an ostentatiously unshrill column all about accountability:

Will anyone be held accountable for the mishandling of postwar Iraq?

Almost all of the money spent by the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq until late June, came from Iraqi sources, mainly oil revenues.

But it creates another puzzle: given that the authority was spending Iraq's money, why wasn't it more careful in its accounting?

When a foreign power takes control of an oil-rich nation's resources, it inevitably faces suspicion about its motives. Fairly or not, the locals are all too ready to believe that the invaders came to steal their oil.

As a KPMG audit showed (back) the RNC/CPA didn't even bother to install meters on the loading platforms!

The way to deal with such suspicion is to let in as much sunlight as possible ...

What actually happened was just the opposite. Every important official with responsibility for Iraqi finances was a Bush administration loyalist.

When KPMG auditors hired by an international advisory board finally got to work, they found that no effort had been made to keep an accurate record of oil sales, and that accounting for the $20 billion Development Fund for Iraq consisted of "spreadsheets and pivot tables maintained by a single accountant."

Doubtless by one of the twenty-somethings whose sole qualification for the job was that they submitted their resumes to the Heritage Foundation.

The auditors also faced a lack of cooperation. They were denied access to Iraqi ministries, which were reputed to be the locus of epic corruption on the part of Iraqis with connections to the occupiers. They were also denied access to reports concerning what they delicately describe as "sole-source contracts."

Translation: they were stonewalled when they tried to find out what Halliburton did with $1.4 billion.

And while the U.S. has yet to disburse any significant amount of aid, the Government Accountability Office says that war costs for this fiscal year alone will run $12.3 billion above Pentagon projections.

Will anyone be held accountable?
(Via the only reason to read 'em is Krugman New York Times

Will anyone be held accountable.... Silly boy.... Of course they will! In the election! Assuming we have one, of course....

Now Rove wants Catholic parish directories 

These guys just don't learn, do they?

The Republican National Committee has asked Bush-backing Roman Catholics to provide copies of their parish directories to help register Catholics to vote in the November election, a use of personal information not necessarily condoned by dioceses around the country.

In a story posted Thursday on its Web site, the National Catholic Reporter said a GOP official had urged people who attended a Catholic outreach event in January to provide parish directories and membership lists to the political party.

"Access to these directories is critical as it allows us to identify and contact those Catholics who are likely to be supportive of President Bush's compassionate conservative agenda,'' wrote Martin J. Gillespie, director of Catholic Outreach at the RNC. ``Please forward any directories you are able to collect to my attention.''
(via Salon (Go on, get the Day Pass)

So let me get this straight. I give my name to my parish for the purpose of getting to know my neighbors, helping my church, serving God, etc.

And then, without getting permission from me, or telling me, another Republican parishioner forwards that information to the RNC (and then, doubtless, to whatever "homeland" "security" and hiring denial databases the RNC is developing).

There's a word for that Republican parishioner: informer.

Really, combined with the existing Republican program (back here) to have informers collect information on their neighbors, this program to collect religious affiliations is reminiscent of nothing so much as post-Weimar Germany in the 1930s, where the National Socialist Party "coordinated" all the institutions, and eliminated all the independent ones.

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC: I'm not, of course, saying anything like "Bush is Hitler." Hitler was, after all, a vegetarian. And I'm not, of course, saying anything like "The Republicans are Nazis." What I am saying is that this is one more indication of the totalitarian impulses of the modern Republican party, that we can learn about the operation of those impulses through the study of history, and that the combination of those totalitarian impulses with modern information technology should be deeply troubling to anyone who cares about the Constitution or democracy.

Did God provide Bush with faulty intelligence? 

Well, that headline can be subjected to various interpretions, but, what William Greider is wonderin' on, in this particular case, is as follows:

[snip] Not to risk blasphemy, but shouldn't a special commission look into whether God provided the warrior President with faulty intelligence? Recall that George W. Bush has confided to Bob Woodward that in shaping his plans for invading Iraq he relied on advice from a "higher father," not on Poppy Bush in Texas, the former President. Now we learn from advance news leaks that the 9/11 Commission has concluded from its investigation that it was Iran, not Iraq, that collaborated with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorists before their attack on America. Oops. Have we gone to war against the wrong country? One assumes it was not the Almighty who confused the two nations. Maybe Bush suffered from a fuzzy connection in his prayer circuitry. So close to God, yet so distant from the truth. [snip]

GZS H Kee-Ryst! Is God's own deputy George W Bush scrambling cosmic decrees and communiques from on high? Could it be the Almighty is making a monkey of the maharajah from Midland!? Or, is something more sinister going on? Is it possible, could it be, that the Devil is playing tricks on our easily finessed messiah! Is God AWOL. Has the throne of 43 been led astray by Lucifer! Could it be that Tricky Dick Cheney is himself doing the Devil's bidding? Has Old Scratch, with help from his cunning legions of devilkin confederates, been ladling an ambrosial slurrylike soup of suppositions, conjectures, and cockeyed newt into Prince W's faith based remedy cup? Is it possible, that the entire time George W. Bush was babbling with God, he was for all common sense malefic purposes being duped by the Devil? And didn't even know it. Doh! Someone fetch the holy-shit water!

Hey, suppose the Devil himself, masquerading as God while cloaked as the wolfish Cheney, were feeding our gallant Biblical Innocent a wicked recipe of sulfurous cooked temptations and ultimate damnations. Shouldn't we convene (as Greider suggests) some kind of state sponsored ecclesiastical tribunal to flush the Demon from the wool? Hold an exorcism in some catechistical sub-committee chamber or, better yet, summon forth the inquisitor Lord Ashcroft of the Absolutes to lash both the the cloven Cheney and his bewitched hapless quarry to a post in the public square, heave on the kindling and the gasoline, and light the whole fasces up like the parched skeletal remains of a used Christmas tree?

Ya know, do some brush clearin'.

Plus, it would give the Bush Bible pounder base a chance to hoot and bellow and prance about around a cleansing bonfire on behalf of tough love, redemption through violence, and the greater glory of God. Think of it as a kind of preemptive strike at Satan. Bring your own beer.

Furthermore, what's all this bid'ness now about Iran's synergistic relationship with AQ and the 911 fiends? You mean to tell me - dang nabitt - oh shucks - sorry - that all this time the Iranians were the true doers and shakers behind the evil deedster reign of anti-Judeo Christian terror! Who misread that dispatch from the True Daddy? And how could our archangels of the hierarchia celesti, currently occupying the blessed folds of the House of Bush, have been so brazenly hornswoggled? Well, hell if I know. Unless, of course, it was all the work of the Devil. Is the Devil still holed up somewhere in an "undisclosed location" beneath the West Wing?

And, as an afterthought, where the hell did that provocateur in residence A. Chalabi git off to? Seems to have vanished like some kind of spectral mist. Hmm. Maybe that jumpy endtimer woodchuck celebritas Tim LaHaye can figure all of this out for us. I sure hope so.

In the meantime I'll be out gathering sharp stones and dry kindling with the flock.

His mistake is not a joking matter, of course. It may be the most egregious example of how Bush's pious self-assurance led the United States into an ill-fated war with colossal misrepresentation of the facts.

Read: An Error of Supreme Dimensions by William Greider - The Nation.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Demonic Convergence 

At the current rate of 2.25/day, U.S. combat deaths in Iraq could very well hit 1,000 while Dear Leader is making his acceptance speech. That probably works out to one dead American for every balloon falling from the ceiling.

What a fitting achievement.

Goodnight, moon 

After I get done howling, that is.

And I haven't even had time to get to the 9/11 report yet!

How Bush fakes the numbers on terror 

Feeling safer? No? Well, you're right. The numbers tell the story. So that's why Bush had them faked. Yes, it's an old story, but it bears repeating, because none of the problems have been addressed:

A State Department report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism," provides the most authoritative public information on terrorist activity. This year's report, released in April, was marred by serious errors, including simple mistakes in arithmetic and the wrong cutoff date for the end of the year. It had to be corrected and reissued.

The revised number of people killed or wounded in international terrorist attacks in 2003 was twice what was originally reported, and 56 percent greater than in 2002. The number of "significant" attacks reached its highest level in more than 20 years.

The careless errors ....

Careless? That's being mighty charitable! In future, please refer all stories of Bush "carelessness" to The Department of "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?"

....in this year's report aside, "the big problem with the State data," according to Todd Sandler, an economist at the University of Southern California who studies terrorism, "is the political spin put on the write-up."

For example, an accompanying letter to Congress falsely boasted that "2003 saw the lowest annual level of terrorist attacks since 1969, an indication of the great progress that has been made in fighting terrorism after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001."

Another problem is that critical details, including who prepares the report and decides whether an event is significant, have not been made public. What is more, nonsignificant terrorist events have been tracked less thoroughly in recent years, also rendering trends in the total number of events meaningless.

Although an internal review is pending, the State Department has been slow to act to restore credibility to its report.
(via the sadly demoralized Times)

And it gets better! Asked how to improve the report, the malAdministration's response is to give less information, not more!

No changes in procedures to prevent a repeat of the kinds of errors in this year's terrorism report or the perennial partisanship that accompanies it have been announced. The idea of inviting an independent organization to evaluate the report's methods and procedures was shelved, although an internal review is pending.

In a briefing for Congressional staff members, J. Cofer Black of the State Department and John O. Brennan of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, who accepted responsibility for the errors in the report, floated the idea of dropping the detailed chronology from next year's report. Not only would such a move violate Congress's requirement for "a full and complete report," it would also be counterproductive - more objective information on terrorist attacks is needed, not less.

Indeed, the errors in this year's report could not have been caught had the chronology been excluded.

So here we have Bush running for election using a newly trumped up slogan whose first word is "Safer."

And the numbers show that "Safer" is, well, a lie.

So where does The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) put the story? A1? No. As you might expect, A18? No. They bury it in the business section. Are they in the tank, or what?

Iraq clusterfuck: Transfer of "sovreignty" has no effect on US deaths 

Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

As of yesterday, 47 American troop deaths -- hostile and nonhostile -- had been announced in the three weeks since an interim Iraqi government took power. That was a marked increase from the 26 deaths reported in the three weeks before the handover but less than in May and April.

The death rate since the power transfer has been almost exactly two a day, the same as recorded between January and July. The rate over the entire period since the invasion in March 2003 has been about 1.9 a day.
(via AP)

In the graphic in the print edition, a good statistic:

Do you know how many of the 900 American deaths have occurred after Bush declared "the end of major combat operations"?


Mission accomplished, my Aunt Fanny.

Another Republican writes the regulations to screw you, then sells that expertise to industry 

No, not Medicare. This time, it's the over-time regulations!

[Tammy McCutchen] was the head of the Department's Wage and Hour Division, overseeing the creation of the overtime rules that are scheduled to take effect next month. She testified before Congress on the regulations in late April and left her government job on June 11. The new rules take effect Aug. 23.

"As you may be aware, the firm of Dickstein, Shapiro announced publicly on June 15, 2004, that Ms. McCutchen ... will focus her practice on counseling clients on employment matters, particularly those related to wage and hour issues, including the new FSLA (overtime) regulations," [Rep. George Miller, D-Calif] wrote.
(via AP)

Of course, this is just standard operating procedure for these guys, so move along, people, move along. There's no story here....

I hope they salted the ground before plowing it under 

Former President Nixon's private sanctuary, known as the Winter White House, was razed to make way for a new residence.
(via AP)

Actually, Bush has performed the amazing feat of making me long for the days of Nixon. Things were so much simpler then; and the stakes were lower.

Red Cross Whitewash 

This is descending into "how dumb do they think we are?" territory.

(via AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thirty-nine prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since the fall of 2001 and there have been 94 cases of proven or suspected abuse, the Army said Thursday in a broad new report giving a more precise and higher estimate of the scale of the abuse.

Still, the Army report concludes there were no systemic problems that caused or contributed to the abuses. All of the wrongdoing was committed by soldiers who violated Army rules and regulations, at times aided by commanders who either encouraged abuses or looked the other way, said Inspector General Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek.

The acting Army secretary and its top general said they took responsibility for the abuses while insisting that they were not sanctioned by Army leadership.
Frankly I'm going to skip all the parts about what Army personnel did, aside from noting the desperation with which they are still clinging to the "few bad apples" theory, and the fact that this still doesn't jibe with the Red Cross reports on abuse and "ghost prisoners". Procedures exist to track down military misbehavior. The "civilian contractors" though...let's see what this report has to say about them:
- Civilian interrogators working on an Army contract were accused of mistreating prisoners in two separate incidents, including pouring water on the head of a prisoner forced into an uncomfortable "stress position." The interrogators' employer, CACI International Inc., plans to investigate further, spokeswoman Jodi Brown said Thursday. She said that in one incident military interrogators reportedly used the same techniques as the contract workers.

But interrogator training was often incomplete and inconsistent, the report said.

The Army's contract with CACI did not require the civilian contractors to have military interrogation training. Eleven of the 31 CACI interrogators who worked in Iraq did not have military interrogation training, the report said.
I would have a comment at this point except that my brain has momentarily lost the capacity to form rational thoughts. Now that this layer of whitewash has been applied, it's really time for Sy Hersh to blow this open about the torture of children.

Panic Sets In for Republicans 

Josh Marshall suggests that the leaking of the Berger story is just plain old-fashioned panic on the part of the GOP.

This observation makes a fair amount of sense. Pre-eminent poll analyst Ruy Teixeira's got a few posts up about the rather dismal poll numbers the Bush administration is having to come to grips with -- W is apparently falling behind Kerry before the Democratic National Convention and they're facing the fact that he may not be able to climb out afterwards.

Furthermore, polls are now showing Kerry significantly ahead (Kerry 47%, Bush 41%) in the "swing states" which has to be contributing to the recently stampeding of the GOP herd on the Berger story.

If the economy, which has shown considerable signs of weakness of late, backslides further, W and the boys are in even bigger trouble. In that event, one could see a few of the "red" states turn "blue." Heck, apparently Kerry has now drawn even with Bush in, of all places, Arizona.

Folks, if W can't win Arizona, he's in really deep doo-doo.

Therefore, as Republicans have begun to realize over the last few days that their incumbent is in big trouble (incumbents that poll in the forties in June haven't won a presidential race in more than fifty years) they have begun to grasp at anything in a vain attempt to keep their guy in the game.

That's why they're pounding on the Berger thing.

It's about all they've got.

Now, This is Just Strange 

So I click over to Google to do my usual afternoon news sweep, and there I find a headline from Reuters, not JeffDaumerNews or anything, advising as follows:

I Am Not the New Cannibal, Says Armstrong

Neil? Lance? Fine Young? Is "Soldier of Fortune" Magazine recruiting for a reenactment of the Donner Party?

Or...could it be that "Armstrong" is a junior Bush staff member? And they're organizing one of those Outward Bound-type bonding adventures for the Cabinet this weekend, to reinforce solidarity and mutual trust and all that? God knows that backbiting bunch of backstabbing paranoids could use such a break, being dizzy from spinning the 9/11 report into "It's All Clinton's Fault!".

But if that's the case, who was asking about cannibalism?

These things puzzle me. Don't have time to check the matter myself on account of I am, as you can clearly see, supposed to be working.

Republicans: Talking the talk on security but not walking the walk 

Republican words:

The proposal for a director of national intelligence was criticized by Tom Ridge, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. "We don't need more bureaucracy. We need more analysts, we need more Arabic-speaking analysts, and we need a lot more human intelligence," Ridge said on Fox News Channel.
(via USA Today)

Republican actions:

Nine United States Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, have been dismissed from the military because they are gay.
(via Sydney Morning Herald)

Too bad the Republicans let their agenda of hate get in the way of protecting the country.

Oh, wait. Of course. Now I understand. Gay people are traitors by definition, so the Republicans are protecting the country by getting rid of them. Now I understand.

Bush dirty war: So-called vigilantes in Afghanistan embarass the Army 

Thank heavens there's at least one institution under the Bush administration that's still capable of being embarassed:

The U.S. military acknowledged Thursday it held an Afghan man for a month after taking custody of him from a trio of American counterterror vigilantes who have since been arrested on charges of torturing prisoners at a private jail they ran in the Afghan capital.

The American military has tried to distance itself from the group, led by a former American soldier named Jonathan Idema, insisting they were freelancers working outside the law. But spokesman Maj. Jon Siepmann acknowledged that the military had received a detainee from Idema's group at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, on May 3.

Siepmann said officials were looking into whether Idema had other contact with U.S.-led forces here, but insisted he was in Afghanistan "entirely of his own volition."

Officials in Washington have also denied the trio were employed or sponsored by any arm of the U.S. government.

"We did not commission him to go out and look for terrorists," Siepmann said.

Well, who did? Are these guys, like, premature Afhgan War Re-enactors who went over there as some kind of hobby? Who funded them?

The seven defendants went on trial in Kabul on Wednesday, charged with hostage-taking and torture.

Idema, of Fayetteville, N.C., and codefendants Edward Caraballo of New York City and Brett Bennett could be jailed for up to 20 years if convicted. Afghan and U.S. officials have left open whether they will be sent to the United States to face more charges.

The Americans didn't testify. But in court Wednesday, Idema told reporters that the group had tacit support from senior U.S. Defense Department officials and that they once offered to put his team under contract.

Gee, it couldn't be, could it, that Bush is using private contractors in his Middle Eastern dirty war (back) to do jobs that are too dirty for the constitutional chain of command?

Idema said he was in daily telephone and e-mail contact with officials "at the highest level," including in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office.

"The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did. They absolutely supported what we did," Idema said. "We have extensive evidence of that."
(via AP)

Well, then life becomes very simple! Idema releases the emails in open court. Wonder if he'll be able to plea-bargain so Bush can cover this up?

Gee, I wonder if the whole Berger smear could be politically motivated? 


President Bush on Wednesday described the federal inquiry into Clinton White House national security adviser Sandy Berger's mishandling of classified documents as "a very serious matter."

The FBI:

But a government official who asked not to be identified because of the political sensitivity of the matter said that FBI agents did not regard the Berger inquiry as "a front-burner-type of investigation."
(via USA Today)

The fish really does rot from the head, doesn't it?

Bush the Pulpiteer 

Demogenes Aristophanes of the Project for a New American Empire (PNAE) writes:

I spotted something in the Atlantic the other day, an excerpt from David Frum's "The Right Man":

"The Bush staff rose to their feet with a snap that would have impressed a Prussian field marshal. When Bush was in a kidding mood, he direct the staff like an orchestra conductor: He would press his hands palm down to direct them to sit and then, when they had taken their seats, raise his hands palm up to order them to rise again. Only then would they get the final palms down." [see earlier comment thread: HERE]

Sorta' sends a hoary chill up the back of your neck don't it? In any case, Rick Perlstein over at the Village Voice has investigated this kind of eerie idolism/idolatry as it manifests and sustains itself at a grassroots level. So then, if you haven't read Perlstein's "The Church of Bush", you should do so as soon as you can. HERE (July 20th, 2004)

Also, while you're at it (if you havn't already) read: How Can the Democrats Win?, also by Rick Perlstein. This is a long piece which includes a free parable - so you can't go wrong! - but the greater point is focused on the long term investment in not only Dem Party gains, but more importantly, what it will take to invest in, and harvest, the rewards of a long term progessive and populist (in the Jim Hightower populist tradition i hope) liberal movement.

In other words: if Kerry campaign Dems and DLC titty twisters and any number of other think tank bubbles, Beltway baubles, or dull waxed TV "news" media binge drinkers believe that all bloggers and progressive grassroots activists are going to go away after Kerry/Edwards turn Evangelist George W. Bush and his slippery bait fed pod of trained grunting seals back into their holding pool - well, they'd be F%#k!ng WRONG. It's a long term investment in America thang.

I was even gonna write more here on blogging into the future and what that might entail and how i think that might play out post November Tuesday - but - i've decided instead to go outside and throw a Boker Infinity drop point blade at a dumb stump. I know it's only 4 am but i don't care. I enjoy the lonely thutt thutt thutt sound of a knife in a dumb stump. I like the way it reverberates throught the foggy creekbeds and quiet hills in an early morning's night. I like the idea that someone might be laying awake somewhere in a distant hollow listening and wondering "what the hell is that?!" And, "where is it coming from and what does it mean?" Because thats what blogging is kinda like, too, haint it?

So don't forget to sharpen your focus (or focus your lens) on the infinity range from time to time. Gawd knows there is no shortage of dumb stumps to address.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Don't Be Dissin' da Lawyers Now, George 

George only hates lawyers until they become conservative enough for him to appoint them to the Federal bench. Another such cabal has done what it could to save his sorry ass yet again in Florida:

(via Miami Herald)
A federal appeals court on Tuesday delayed indefinitely a long-awaited Miami trial to decide whether more than 600,000 former felons in Florida could have their voting rights automatically restored.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta agreed to reconsider an earlier appellate panel's order to hold the trial on Florida's 136-year-old law that bars felons from voting.

The decision marked another turning point in the class-action case, which was filed weeks before Florida's divisive 2000 presidential election ended with George W. Bush winning the state -- and the White House -- by only 537 votes over Al Gore.

The ruling also means many ex-felons, who could make the difference in a tight race, will miss out on a chance to vote in another presidential election.

Gov. Jeb Bush's office and lawyers for the state praised the decision as a big boost for their side.

Lawyer Randall Marshall, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, said the length of time it took the appellate court just to decide on the state's request for a rehearing -- seven months -- was not unusually long. But Marshall, who has been a vocal critic of the state's disenfranchisement law, said the governor could end it with the stroke of a pen.

''The governor could have an impact on this tomorrow, because he has the authority under the state Constitution to grant clemency in a much broader and quicker way than he has chosen to do so,'' Marshall said. ``He could restore their voting rights automatically with an executive order without requiring them to go through clemency.''
That's really all it would take. It wouldn't overturn the other restrictions the state of Florida has in its infinite wisdom decided to impose on people who have "paid their debt to society" and must struggle somehow to make a living after being released from prison. It wouldn't entitle them to sell real estate, work as barbers or hairdressers, or practice any of the other occupations which require state licenses, not that I ever really understood why one should have to get a license to cut hair anyway. It would just allow them to vote, dammit.

Nader: Saruman or Denethor?  

So Billmon took on Nader the other day. He is, I think it's safe to say, seriously pissed:

My guess is that in the end Nader's reasons for treachery aren't all that much different from Benedict Arnold's - it's the vanity and resentment of a hero who's seen the laurels of respect and influence he thinks are his due go to lesser mortals instead. Combine that with the towering rage of a prophet ignored, and it's the perfect combination for betrayal.

But there are times when treason can be as blind as love or justice, and this may be one of them. I'm sure Ralph still believes he's one of the good guys - maybe the last good guy. I can imagine him measuring the handle on his moral spoon and finding it more than long enough to sup with the devil. But that's just one of the acrobatic manuevers an agile mind uses to rationalize evil. It may be there's a part of Ralph's brain that understands what's happening, and is helplessly aghast at what the dominant part of his brain is doing. Or maybe not. Maybe there's nothing left but that angry, ravenous ego, obsessed with its revenge.

In the end it doesn't matter. Ralph's motives are immaterial now. The point is that he has joined (to borrow Saruman's phrasing) with the enemy. And so has become the enemy.
Billmon is such a damn good writer that I become bitter and in this fit of envy try to improve upon his work. So he invokes Saruman, eh? I think the Tolkien character Nader most resembles these days is Denethor, Steward of Gondor:
"What then would you have," said Gandalf, "if your will could have its way?"

"I would have things as they were in all the days of my life," answered Denethor, "and in the days of my longfathers before me...But if doom denies this to me, then I will have naught: neither life diminished, nor love halved, nor honor abated."
So who is it, readers? Saruman or Denethor? Benedict Arnold or just Arnold the Pig? Billmon doesn't do comments any more, but we do. Lay on, McDuffs, and curs'd be he who first cries, "Hold! Enough!"

Cheney Love Cheer 

Just for the fun of it.

Stick with Dick
He's your pick
Don't be flip-flop,

Dick Dick Dick
We want Dick!
Not some Base fed
Red State hick!

Dick is slick
He's no tick
Dick for slapstick
funny side-kick!

Bailiwick Bailiwick
Dick Dick Dick

W! W!
Listen quick
Who else gonna paddle
your boat up the crick?

(photo: GWB at Andover - boolah boolah boolah, ha ha ha!)

Two Americas 

Businesspeople, at least so far as their businesses are concerned, can't completely lie to themselves; if they're utterly divorced from reality, the business goes under. (Here contrast the Republican party.) So papers like the Wall Street Journal come as close to the truth as the people who run the country can bear. So the fact that this was the lead story yesterday is interesting:

So far, economic recovery tilts to highest-income Americans
Upper income families, who pay the most in taxes and reaped the largest gains from the tax cuts Bush championed, drove a surge of consumer spending a year ago that helpled rev up the recovery. Wealthier households also have been big beneficiaries of the stronger stock market, higher corporate profits, bigger dividend payments and the boom in housing.

Lower- and middle-income households have benefited from some of these trends, but not nearly so much. For them, paychecks and day-to-day living expenses have a much bigger effect. Many have been squeezedm with wages under pressure and with gasoline and food prices higher. The resulting two-tier recovery is showing up in vivid detail in the way Americans are spending money.

Hotel revenue was up 11% in the first five months of 2004 at luxury and upscale chains, but up just 3% at economy chains. [The luxury Italian company Bulgari's] US revenue was up 22% in the first quarter. Neiman-Marcus...had a 13.5% year-over-year sales rise at stores open at least a year. By contrast, such "same store" sales at Wal-mart were up just 2.2% in June.

"To date, the [recovery's] primary beneficiaries have been upper-income households," concludes Dean Maki, a JP Morgan (and former Federal Reserve) economist.

Weekly earnings, adjusted for inflation, were down 2.6% in June from a year ago. The slip might be transitory, but it was the largest decline since 1991.

Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Orwell watch: "War is peace" 

Bush will only make a public appearance before the kind of crowd that will give him a standing ovation, so he doesn't risk anything with a flip-flop like this one, but will anyone else give any credence to a Bush reinventing himself as a girly-man-style, new age sensitive male? I didn't think so:
"[BUSH]No one wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president," (via USA Today)

Translation: After November, on to Iran!

Oh, and while we're watching Bush fluff the base, here's another cute little statement:

In Iowa, Bush took a series of mostly easy questions from the audience.

One immigrant asked Bush how he could get permanent-residence status. Bush told him there are procedures he must follow and wished him good luck.

Bush added, "I hope you think it is interesting that you get to come as a person newly arrived and ask the president [sic—Ed.] a question. That's our system. It's an open system."

What's "interesting" about it? The guy was let in only after being carefully screened by Republican operatives, he was probably primed with the question, and if he'd been wearing the wrong T-Shirt, Bush would have had him dragged off and jailed. "Open"? Ha.

Jenna gives the media some tongue 

Little Jenna has such a sense of entitlement!


What are the possible side effects of Xanax?

If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking Xanax and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:
  • an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, face, or tongue; or hives)...

(via Drugs.com)

No, but seriously folks—This looks to me like the typical Bush "joking," with the bullying and the contempt just barely under control. Yech.

Of Manly Girls and Girly Men 

Remember when Anne Coulter (the Unity Valkyrie Mitford of the Beltway beerhall set) called Rich Lowry, and his bathtub splashers at the National Review, girlie boys? Remember? That was fun wasn't it?

In typical Ann Coulter style, she then called editor Rick Lowry a "girlie boy."

"Did you really say that?"

"I'd just as soon not relive this," she says, "largely because I do not want to look like I'm still making fun of them. Though they really deserve to be made fun of. But the reason so many conservatives were calling, emailing, sending love notes, after I called em girlie-boys, was because for years, you know, there was no Internet, there was no talk radio. National Review determined who was a good conservative and who wasn't. And like the little boy in the 'Twilight Zone' episode who could wish people into non-existence--have you ever seen that? There are like eight people on Earth left, and it's his birthday every day, and they all change the channels to whatever he wants to watch. That is the way National Review was using its power." ~ Capitol Hill Blue, "A Professional Smartass" - By John Bloom / Aug 11, 2003. cached link

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Well, now, anyway, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - the Jolly Oaf of Hapsburg Lip - has stirred the excitable TVNewsNoise clack valves with stately tone changing denunciations of Golden State Dems as "girlie men" for allegedly pandering to "special interests"; whatever that means. The "girlie men" line, of course, being lifted from the old Saturday Night Live skit featuring two characters named Hanz and Franz. And, because, all the best lines from Schwarzenegger's August '77 Oui magazine interview had been perviously licensed to Jack Ryan for use in his Star Wars "nightclub" act. Like the zinger below where the Governor of California explains why California Democrats can not agree to manly good time Republican Partay state budget courtin' proposals:

just the guys who can fuck in front of other guys. Not everybody can do that. Some think that they don't have a big-enough cock, so they can't get a hard-on. see: Smoking Gun

Stupid stub-dicked special interest pandering "girlie men" Democrats! Sheesh. Is Gov. "Pump Me Up" intimidated by special interest girlies? Never! Is Mr. Olympia '72 afraid of being exploited by up-tight puritanical special interest snivelings! Never never never! Oh big-cock fuck-no never! When asked if he'd ever been exploited by prudish special interest pandering girlies Gov. Schwarzenegger responded:

"No, I'd feel used only if I didn't get something out of it. If a girl comes on strong and says, 'I really dig your body and I want to fuck the shit out of you,' I just decide whether or not I like her. If I do take her home, I try to make sure I get just as much out of it as she does. The word exploited therefore wouldn't apply." [...] "I can look at a chick who's a little out of shape and if she turns me on, I won't hesitate to date her. If she's a good fuck, she can weigh 150 pounds, I don't care." [via: Smokin Gun]

Jeepers. Obviously, the girlies in California's legislature need to work with Gov. Schwarzen-egger by appealing to his better instincts and earlier real world common sense experience. Perhaps they should preface each budget request with the precondition, "I really dig your body and I want to fuck the shit out of you." Why not? The Schwantzenegger does not care if you are a little "out of shape", as long as you are "a good fuck." And, afterall, isn't that what American "free market" enterprise and Declaration of Independence is all about?

Also, all this talk about how Gov. Schwarzenegger's "girlie men" comment is homophobic is like totally so-not true. So stop it! Gov. Schwarzenegger is not a homophobic clod. Gov. Schwarzenegger is not "freaked" out by sweaty, glistening, grunting, fag, I mean manly!, bodies, or anything like that. As a matter of fact the Governor has previously released the following statement in defense of fag, I mean gay! - gay stuff:

"Men shouldn't feel like fags just because they want to have nice-looking bodies...Gay people are fighting the same kind of stereotyping that bodybuilders are: People have certain misconceptions about them just as they do about us. Well, I have absolutely no hang-ups about the fag business..." [via: Smooking Gun]

You see. Bodybuilders and girlie men, I mean gay people!, i mean California State Democrat legislators!, have a lot in common. Governor Shcwarzenegger is not some scaly anti-girly men homophobian terminare lizard and he is not against homosexual business. He was just poking a little fun at California Dems who he believes are a little out of shape but wouldn't mind a good fucking anyway. So, everyone just relax, bend over the ab-machine, and let the Governor have his way.

...we had girls backstage giving head, then all of us went out and I won. It didn't bother me at all; in fact, I went out there feeling like King Kong. [via: Smoking Gun]

Thank God for Fay Wray. Without her King Kong would just be another pumped up monkey in a Hollywood hot-tub.

BTW: Wasn't the original Saturday Night Live skit that Mr. Schwarzenegger was aping, the one featuring the two bodybuilders Hanz and Franz, suggesting, well, uh, that both Hanz and Franz might be a tad self-absorbed, vainglorious, and perhaps even, touched by the moron fairy?

Hmmm.... maybe I'm just I being moronophobic. I'll have to work-out on that.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Tonight we got to talking about the first Clinton administration, and how, at that convention (the one with the "Man From Hope" video) we had the sense that things were really moving, that there was momentum, and how we don't feel that this year.

Why the difference?

I think the difference is that this year, unlike 12 years ago, we have to create the movement ourselves.

Have at it!

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy... 

Sure, the Berger fiasco is not only a distraction from the 9/11 Report but insulation against any forthcoming fallout from indicments in the Plame Affair.

And sure, as Tom points out, it's most like an Elfin Eruption engineered by Rovian operatives (for how a Democratic appointee was eased out and the the post politicized by appointing a Republican loyalist, see The Nation).

And now Berger is gone from the Kerry campaign. But for Berger to apologize for being "sloppy"?!

Dammit, we can't afford to be sloppy!

Those classy Republicans! 

Confronted with the truth, drunken Republicans riot:

"[The Las Vegas Aladdin Casino and Resort] decided to remove her from the property after she dedicated a song to Michael Moore. This angered our guests who spilled their drinks and demanded their money back," [a hotel official who declined to be identified] said.

The liberal Ronstadt, 58, a 10-time Grammy Award-winner and an icon of the politically-agitated 1970s, praised Moore as a "great American patriot" who "is spreading the truth."

She also dedicated the song "Desperado" to Moore and urged the audience to go and see "Fahrenheit 9/11," which mercilessly slams Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq and his handling of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

According to local media, members of the 4,500-strong audience stormed out of the concert hall, tore down concert posters and tossed cocktails into the air.

Hotel president Bill Timmins then ordered security guards to escort Ronstadt off the premise, even denying her access to her suite.
(via AFP)

Remind you of anything? Like the "bourgeois riot" in Florida?

We'll be waiting for the editorials about how drunken thuggery and portends the end of civilization as we know it....

And what about that hotel official who declined to be identified? You'd think they'd be anxious to be—upholding the honor of their corporation, and all that. Not to mention the First Amendment...

The Hunt for Red November 

Any Tom Clancy fans reading today? Take a look-see at this little item. A group called Citizens For Legitimate Government has an essay by one Wayne Madsen, described in the credits as "a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He served in the National Security Agency (NSA) during the Reagan administration."

This is long but worth it. He starts out:
You have to give the right-wingers credit. The fear tactics they learned from arch-Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels remain at the front of their political playbook. First, they put out the notion that in the event of a terrorist attack around the time of the November 2 election, a postponement of the vote may be necessary. Second, they start talking about the Federal government’s response to such a scenario. It’s the second item we must all be focused upon.
And then he tells you EXACTLY how they could steal it this time. (As Madsen notes, "Like bin Laden, these people never use the same tactic twice.") I cut to the conclusion:
That is what all this talk about a terrorist attack on Election Day is about. It is to prime the population and allow Bush surrogates at Fox News, CNN, and MS-NBC to begin their perception management campaign that an attack will occur around the election. But there will be no postponement of the election or cancellation – this is simply another plan to manipulate the public through the use of phony threats and fear tactics....

To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s California and the voter turnout, stupid!” Forget about canceling or postponing the election. Keep your eye on a “Red Terrorist Alert” on the West Coast for Election Day. That doesn’t take a constitutional amendment, merely an okay from Bush and his homeland security team. They must be stopped – the future of this nation is at stake!
Go read. Now. Take it as tinfoil-hat raving if you like, or start picking out the cast list for the movie version.

Johnny's Gone For a Soldier 

Johnny Firefighter that is. And Johnny Policeman, and Johnny Prisonguard. And, oh yes, not to forget Johnny DemCandidate, aka Greg Philips, of whom the Philly Inquirer notes:
Greg Philips, 42, of King of Prussia, has been the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Pennsylvania's Seventh District, which includes Delaware County and parts of Chester and Montgomery Counties.

But he is scheduled to announce this morning that he has withdrawn from the race. Lt. Philips has been called to active duty and is to ship out next week for Kuwait.

That leaves the Democrats temporarily without a challenger to U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, the nine-term Republican.
But back to those other Johnnies...it seems the governors who employ these folks are getting more than a little unhappy. Even the Republican ones.

(via NYT)
SEATTLE, July 19 - With tens of thousands of their citizen soldiers now deployed in Iraq, many of the nation's governors complained on Sunday to senior Pentagon officials that they were facing severe manpower shortages in guarding prisoners, fighting wildfires, preparing for hurricanes and floods and policing the streets.

Concern among the governors about the war's impact at home has been rising for months, but it came into sharp focus this weekend as they gathered for their four-day annual conference here and began comparing the problems they faced from the National Guard's largest callup since World War II.

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, a Republican of Idaho and departing chairman of the National Governors Association, also said through a spokesman that he was worried about the deployment of 2,000 members, or 62 percent of his National Guard, who are now training in Texas for a mission in Iraq.

California fire and forestry officials said they were not using National Guard troops to battle wildfires plaguing that state, but they did say that they were using nine Blackhawk helicopters borrowed from the Guard to fight the fires. Some of the helicopters are bound for Iraq in September.

In Arizona, officials say, more than a hundred prison guards are serving overseas, leaving their already crowded prisons badly short-staffed. In Tennessee, officials are worried about rural sheriff's and police departments...

But even during a meeting that featured plenty of partisan sniping, Republicans also sounded worried about whether the deployments would leave them vulnerable in emergencies.

Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg, commander of the Washington State National Guard, who attended the Sunday meeting with Pentagon officials, said in an interview that he heard worries voiced by plenty of Republicans.

"There are absolutely no partisan pattern to the concerns being raised," he said. "They are being articulated by governors of both parties."

Republican Noise / Distraction Machine kicks into high gear 

Anyone else find the Sandy Berger story a bit, um, conveniently timed -- two days before the release of the 9/11 report and the week before the Democratic National Convention?

This sounds like vintage Karl Rove to me -- assisted by his little elves in the National Archives and/or 9/11 Commission of course.

Can't you see the meme developing, boys and girls? Democrats are traitors who don't care about national security -- look at what John Kerry adviser Sandy Berger did, right? He compromised national security to cover the Clinton administration's ass, right?

Give me a break. I guess the scariest thing is that this apparently distorted-beyond-belief story comes straight out of the Republican Noise Machine -- and our press reports it just as the RNC fax they just received told them to.

Now, what about Valerie Plame, guys? Why haven't heard anything about that story in a while?

Oh. I guess the RNC hasn't sent you a fax on that one recently, huh?

UPDATE: I see that Josh Marshall agrees with me that this is a malicious leak to distract us all from the looming 9/11 report.

You can't help but wonder what's in it now, can you?

What are they trying to distract us from?

Russian Troops - Deploy To Iraq? 

One to keep an eye on:

From Stratfor.com's Geopolitical Diary: Tuesday, July 20, 2004.

Russia: Putin Considers Sending Troops to Iraq


Moscow is considering a request by the Bush administration to send Russian troops to Iraq or Afghanistan this fall, just before the U.S. presidential election. The move would be of enormous benefit to U.S. President George W. Bush and a risky venture for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces his own Islamist insurgency in Chechnya and public opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq. Torn between his desire to support Bush and his need to address domestic concerns, Putin will delay his final decision to the eleventh hour.


Moscow and Washington are quietly negotiating a request by the Bush administration to send Russian troops to Iraq or Afghanistan this fall, Russian government sources tell Stratfor. The talks are intense, our contacts close to the U.S. State Department say, and the timing is not insignificant. A Russian troop lift to either country before the U.S. presidential election would give U.S. President George W. Bush a powerful boost in the campaign.

Sources close to Russia's Security Council tell Stratfor that Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to the request "in principle" and has directed the Russian General Staff to work up a plan by the end of the month. Before making a decision, however, Putin wants to make sure all logistical and international legal questions are resolved -- perhaps with United Nations involvement -- and he will not move without a formal U.S. request. It is a tough decision for Putin, who will carefully weigh the risks and rewards and likely make his decision at the last possible moment.

More via: The Agonist


River of Painted Birds 

Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country. ~ George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 5, 2004

I doubt very much that George W. Bush recognized the ironic idiocy contained within his own statement above. Nuance, afterall, is not his thang. Not that I'm surprised. The existence of the entire Bush diktat seems to rely soley upon ironic ideological idiocies and the kindness of some collective disengagement from tangible reality. All frosted over with romanticized Pollyannaesque notions of our national self as a flawless example of eternal goodness and light and liberty for one and for all and for evermore. As if we as Americans were some kind of grande luxe preternatural marvel. Some boundless corpus sanctum hovering above an enormous swamp. America as divinity. All despite our own frequent complicity in tangible substratum historical imbecilities, cruelties, thieving, and national folly.

Our mainstream broadcast media certainly feeds these ongoing Panglossian fantasies. The bogus rationale for war in Iraq and the disclosure of the realities inside Abu Ghraib prison brought forth no end to the lofty pronouncements that Americans are not really like that and America's governing princes would never knowingly sanction such torturous horrors or march the nation to war across a slippery rope-bridge of braided lies and so much woven fribble. Oh no, of course not. But, even if we did, forget it, lets look on the bright side and put all that uncomfortable naysayer negativity behind us. Hey, let's go shopping for designer pharmecuticals!

Which brings me back round to Xan and Lambert's earlier compares to "schools" for "interrogation", torture, cruelties, denials, lies, reality disconnects, and past US state sponsored handicraft south of the border. All of which reminded me of the following:

On August 29, 1970 in Richmond, Indiana Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis held a benefit concert "for the family of", and as a tribute to, an American named Dan Mitrione.

Dan Mitrione was a policeman in Richmond, Indiana from 1945 to 1957. In 1959 he would join the FBI. Eleven years later, in August of 1970, Mitrione was kidnapped, held for ransom, and eventually executed by Tupamaros guerrillas (Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional) in Uruguay; sparking an international incident. News organizations in the US made the most of Mitrione's death and funeral, which was attended by David Eisenhower and Nixon Administration Secretary of State William Rogers, all who bewailed the terrible murder of a man the Nixon White House characterized as a "defenseless human being." Ron Ziegler (then Nixon White House spokesperson) praised Mitrione by declaring: "Mr. Mitrione's devoted service to the cause of peaceful progress in an orderly world will remain as an example for free men everywhere.'' [1]

What most American's learned in the late summer of August 1970 was that Dan Mitrione was a "public safety" officer, and, as his daughter Linda exclaimed, "a great humanitarian." For surely, Dan Mitrione was abducted by ruthless evil doers in Uruguay and murdered in cold blood while perfoming an honest days work on behalf of, well, you know, "peaceful progress in an orderly world." After all, character matters.

What most American's didn't know at that time, and their government and media were not exactly falling over themselves to tell them, was that Dan Mitrione, when he was living large, was a walking breathing nightmare factory. A sadistic homicidal missionary of precision pain crafted aloft upon a terrible black state sponsored operational wind. An abattoir butcher. A modern day star spangled battue Diabolous. The madman of Montevideo.

..... post continued


Due to the length of this post I've spilled it over here: Farm Runoff.

So if you'd like to read on click the link and off ya go.


Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite 

Lambert's on the road again, but somehow it doesn't seem right not to have an evening signoff. Probably not an inspirational comment but it's what my beloved grandmother always said when tucking us in at night.

I had actually thought in my younger days that bedbugs were some entirely mythological creature Grandma invoked to get us to go to sleep so she could relax with a glass of something enjoyable. Then I read not long ago that they're not only real, they're making a comeback. I should have figured this fact out the first time I heard Rush Limpopo, all set about with fever trees.

Monday, July 19, 2004

One is a Fluke, Two is a Trend 

Was it just yesterday I posted "Grandpa Got Run Over By A Draft Board" thinking it would probably turn out to be a mistake of the sort bureaucracies often make? Silly me:

via AP via abcnews.com)
DECATUR, Ala. July 19, 2004 — At 68, many people are slowing down. Not John Wicks: He's going to Iraq. Wicks, a psychiatrist, has been called out of military retirement by the Army to fill a shortage of mental health experts needed to help soldiers cope with combat. He could be gone as long as a year.

The Army hasn't told Wicks what his exact assignment in Iraq is, or where in the country it will send him.

"I believe that the morale in general is not that good since the scandal at that prison," he said, referring to the allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. "When morale is high, you have fewer of these kinds of problems. And when morale is low you have more."

Wicks said recruiters initially hinted he could go to Europe or a stateside base to relieve a younger psychiatrist who would go to Iraq. The Army even gave him three choices should that scenario play out, and Dr. Wicks chose Italy, Germany and England.

"Well, I now wonder if this was just to get me hooked. Because there's no way I'm going to Italy or any of these places," he said. "I'm going to Iraq."
Back in comments to "Grandpa" (which noted that another category besides "psychiatrist" that was in great demand was "truck drivers") esteemed reader WallyCoxLives had an observation:

My father is 82 years old and a veteran of World War II. He was a mechanic during the war and afterwards until he retired about twenty years ago. He also drove trucks. I wonder if they will be calling him up? He's nearly blind in one eye and losing the vision of his other eye, but that shouldn't stop them.

Wally, I hate to say it, but you and Pops might want to be checking the shortest route to the Canadian line.

Field of Screams 

"If you build it, they will come," the movie said. You thought they meant heartwarming nostalgia for baseball? Nope, they meant field-testing a policy of classifying damn near anything they like as "terrorism" for the purposes of the criminal justice system.

(via Des Moines Register)

Federal prosecutors say they built 35 terrorism-related cases in Iowa in the two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But a Des Moines Sunday Register analysis of the cases found that most defendants had questionable links to violent extremism. Those defendants who could be identified by the newspaper were, in most cases, charged with fraud or theft and served just a few months in jail.

The number of terrorism-related cases even took one court official by surprise.

"If there have been terrorism-related arrests in Iowa, I haven't heard about them," said U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt.

Ironically, Pratt presided over courtroom proceedings in at least six of the criminal cases that federal prosecutors had cataloged as terrorist in nature.

Included among the 35 cases were:

•Five Mexican citizens who stole cans of baby formula from store shelves throughout Iowa and sold them to a man of Arab descent for later resale.

•Two Pakistani men who entered into or solicited sham marriages so that they and their friends could
OMG! So they could take flight lessons? Set up terrorist training camps in Oskaloosa? Negotiate an alliance with radicals at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi University in Fairfield?
continue to live in the Waterloo area and work at convenience stores there.
Okay, so what's the real motive here? You guessed it...
The Iowa arrests were part of a national compilation of statistics cited by the U.S. Department of Justice in requests to Congress for $400 million this year for federal anti-terrorism efforts. The department's figures were again cited last week when Attorney General John Ashcroft lobbied lawmakers for continued support of the controversial U.S.A. Patriot Act, which gives law-enforcement officials greater authority to surveil and search foreigners and U.S. citizens.

Skeptics of the Bush administration's response to the terrorist threat said that lumping minor crimes under the terrorism label could wrongly heighten public anxiety and provide a questionable rationale for more anti-terror resources.

"When people read that they're doctoring the numbers, aren't they going to have less confidence in the Justice Department and the war on terror?" asked U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Ia. "You can't say that somebody's a terrorist when he isn't a terrorist."
Pay particular notice to this: "The Iowa arrests were part of a national compilation of statistics.." That means there is a similar list in YOUR state.

Go read the whole story, particularly the sidebars. This goes a long way to explain why Dear Leader doesn't seem to want to mention what his goals are for his (increasingly hypothetical) "second" term.

UPDATE: Link fixed thanks to alert reader woid. One durn "?" left out and the whole durn thing don't work, durn it.

Howdy howdy, friends and neighbors!, part 2 

And just in case you didn't think the Minnesota Republican Party's effort to have informers collect information about the political affiliations of their neighbors (back) wasn't really all about intimidation, here are some comments from the designer of the system, Larry Colson:

[Minnesota Republicans realize] that with Minnesota now "in play", the Cowards will be forced to spend time and money in a state that they formerly took for granted. ...

Larry Colson
Minnesota eCampaign Chair
(via CheneyBush.com)

Nice, huh? For "coward," of course, read "traitor."

Nice words from the party whose candidate can't prove He did his duty in the military (even though He did collect a paycheck).

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

My Mom, who has a TV, says Kerry's windsurfing on Nantucket.

Well, that shows a pleasing level of insouciance. I hope. Readers?

Howdy howdy, friends and neighbors! 

The Republicans are easing Americans into the idea that it's OK to report their neighbors political beliefs to a central authority.

But don't worry! The central authority is only the Republican Party! Phew! For a minute there, I was worried!

The party has asked 60,000 supporters from across [Minnesota] to figure out what issues animate their neighbors and where they stand in the political spectrum, and report that information back to the party -- with or, possibly, without their neighbors' permission.

The site and the party's reliance on neighborly connections, [Larry Colson, a Minnesota entrepreneur who helped develop the site] said, are ways of filling those gaps. "You're more likely to tell your neighbor what your party preference is when they ask than you are to some stranger on the phone," he said.

Those who seem persuadable will receive campaign literature from Republican candidates -- including President Bush -- with whom the party plans to share its data. Those deemed incorrigible Democrats will be struck from the list.
(via WaPo)

I can think of another name for the GOP "Team Leaders" who will be populating the Republican database with their neighbors's names and affiliations: informer.

Of course, the real nightmare scenario would be a national Republican "enemies list," constructed by winger activists. I mean, who really believes "incorrigible Democrats" will be "struck from the list"? After all, when the time comes to round up the traitors, the list of "incorrgible Democrats" will be a very good starting point. And please refer all comments containing the words "tinfoil hat" to the Department of "No! They would never to that!"

So, what's wrong with a little class warfare, part 3 

If the Wecovery is so all fired hot, why are more and more suburbanites showing up at food banks?

Appropriately, the Catholic Charities food bank here is tucked in the corner of a shopping mall. Its clients come from generally affluent suburbs; many felt disbelief when hard times compelled them, for the first time, to seek help.

"Of course I'd never gone to any of these things - I didn't even know they existed," said Norma Bacino, who resorted to the food bank after her husband left, leaving four preteen sons in her care.

"You're down and out, you're apprehensive," Bacino said. "Even though you realize you're not the only one, it's culture shock."

Bacino, 44, is part of a phenomenon occurring at urban, rural and suburban food banks nationwide - a surge of first-time clients who never before considered themselves needy but suddenly, because of a layoff or other challenge, cannot pay their rent or living costs.

"Our affiliates all tell us, 'We've never seen so many people come in who we've never seen before, who say they need help just this one time,'" said Kevin Seggelke, CEO of the Denver-based Food Bank of the Rockies.
(via AP)

I blame gay marriage.

Is there no end to the cell phone plague? 

Coming to cruise ships near you.

"Hi, I'm on the boat. Can you hear me?"


Stern and the swing voter 

Of course, Stern is way ahead of Limbaugh in the "values" department—not a pill popper, faithfully married, never even needed rehab, and not being investigated by prosecutors for doctor shopping. So naturally Stern is a Democrat:

The first surprise, according to Penn: nationwide, 17 percent of all likely voters polled listen to Stern. The second: Stern fans are just as likely as non-fans to attend religious services daily or weekly; just as likely to be highly educated; more likely than non-fans to have young children at home; and more likely than non-fans to own a gun. In other words, average Americans. And Stern fans in 18 battleground states said that they now prefer Kerry over Bush by 59 percent to 37 percent.

Simon Rosenberg, who directs the New Democratic Network, the group that sponsored the poll, says: "Democrats have been hammered on conservative talk radio for years, and now we have a glimmer of hope. I've seen this guy's impact, first-hand. It's incredible. I went on his show [June 29] to talk about the poll, and right after that, 25,000 people downloaded the poll from our Web site."

It's still possible, of course, that there is no such thing as a shock-jock voting bloc, and that the politicized fans who are messaging Stern's Web site are aberrations ("I just love you so much! I've never registered to vote until recently and I will vote for Kerry... . Some jerks at work don't like you, but I tell them to know their role and shut their holes.").

But maybe the Sterniacs are for real, as even some Republicans suspect. As party strategist Mike Murphy told conservative columnist Andrew Ferguson the other day, "Stern listeners should be Bush voters... . He is a symptom that something's going wrong."

Or, as radio industry expert Harrison says: "In a close race, everything counts. Any slight, insult, remark or incident can count. That's when Howard would count."
(via our own Philadelphia Inky)

I like it when Repubublicans say "something's going wrong." Just as long as they don't do anything about it, and go down to defeat.

So, what's wrong with a little class warfare, part 2 

The lead story (amazingly enough) in today's New York Times:

The amount of money workers receive in their paychecks is failing to keep up with inflation. Though wages should recover if businesses continue to hire, three years of job losses have left a large worker surplus.

"There's too much slack in the labor market to generate any pressure on wage growth,'' said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research institution based in Washington. "We are going to need a much lower unemployment rate.'' He noted that at 5.6 percent, the national unemployment rate is still back at the same level as at the end of the recession in November 2001.

Even though the economy has been adding hundreds of thousands of jobs almost every month this year, stagnant wages could put a dent in the prospects for economic growth, some economists say. If incomes continue to lag behind the increase in prices, it may hinder the ability of ordinary workers to spend money at a healthy clip, undermining one of the pillars of the expansion so far.
(via NY Times)

It's funny how the news is always how "the economy" is recovering. But the economy is not my personal economy—or yours.

Are you better off than you were four years ago? I'm not. Corporate profits are booming, but I'm falling behind. Why is that?

UPDATE And, whaddaya know, Edwards took advantage of this right away:

Turning to the economy, Edwards referred to a story in Sunday editions of The New York Times that said hourly wages are not keeping pace with inflation. "Is that a news bulletin to you?" Edwards asked the congregants.

"No!" many responded in unison.

"I am here to tell you hope is on the way," Edwards said.
(via CNN)


Grandpa Got Run Over By A Draft Board 

NYT has a story today about how many old farts (which they unkindly classify as anyone 50 and older) are serving and dying in the qWagmire. Apparently so many are being used up that the Army is looking to replenish the supply...although if you look at the last graph you will see they might want to give this geezer some Attitude Adjustment sessions:

(via Columbia (SC) State)
Seven years ago, Lexington psychiatrist Charles Ham retired from the Army. Or at least he thought so.

Then, the other day, he got a call telling him to report to Fort Jackson for a physical examination.

“You know, I’m 67 years old. Why do you need me?” Ham asked.

The caller explained the Army needed psychiatrists to counsel troops.

A recent study found the suicide rate of soldiers serving in Iraq is higher than for other GIs. The suicide rate in Iraq was 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers compared with 12.8 for the Army overall.

To help remedy the problem, the study recommended the Army send more mental health specialists to combat zones.

Psychiatrists, though, are not among the most-needed troops from the Individual Ready Reserve being called up to bolster the Army, which has been stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and on terrorism.

The Army ranks truck drivers as its top need, followed by logistical specialists who track the flow of supplies on a computer, Humvee mechanics, administrative specialists and combat engineers.

Ham, who retired as a colonel, is subject to being recalled because he’s an officer, Army spokeswoman Andrea Wales said.

There is no age limit for officers to serve, she said...The maximum age on the Army’s physical fitness charts is 62 and over.

Ham said he will have a choice of either serving three months in a combat zone or spending a year at a military hospital in the United States.

Charles Ham still is amazed the Army tracked him down after seven years of retirement.

“You’d think if they can find me in my office, they sure could find Osama bin Laden,” he said.

A compelling argument for atheism 

On the campaign trail, Inerrant Boy lets the cat out of the bag:

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job."

-- President Bush, quoted in the Lancaster New Era, during a private meeting with an Amish group.
(via Political Wire via Pandagon)

Many interesting assumptions, there, eh?

Interestingly, Political Wire's original source for this story, the Lancaster New Era, is down.

Someone in the blogosphere and/or the Kerry campaign should really be tracking the interviews that Bush gives with these small papers. There's probably much good material there.

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