Saturday, July 31, 2004

'Twas Time For Joy and Laughter 

Meaning no disrespect to our house songwriter MJS, this one from a bard named Sara needs wider distribution. Make up yer own tune, and for bonus points figure out all the poets subtly cited here:

(via a comment thread over at Atrios although I misplaced the link to the precise one.)

The Bush stood on the burning deck,
And said, "Can't take the heat!
I must get out of the kitchen now,
And cool my blistered feet."

When Bush went down beside the sea,
To cool his feet in the brine;
He met the Ancient Mariner,
At the helm of a Swift boat fine.

"I've just returned from the DNC,
The DNC and the sky,
And all I ask," cried John Kerree,
"Is the White House, by and by."

"I've hugged the shore for many a day
With my grumbling, cranky crew,
But now I'm in your waterway,
And I'm gunning, Shrub, for you."

"Your vessel's the Narcissus,
Your crew are falling sick,
You've an Albatross around your neck,
That smells like Big Time Dick."

"You're sailing three sheets in the wind
Straight into a stormy gale;
Your deck’s on fire, your hopes are pinned
On catching the Great White Whale."

"The Hesperus and the Mary Deare
And the Deutschland all were sunk;
And even they had captains, hear--
Who weren't dry stinking drunk."

Said Bush, "Your speech is clever
But you don't understand:
The One who made me Skipper,
Is Lord of sea and land."

"I do not have to read the News,
Or USA Today;
I never base my plans or views
On what dumb pollsters say,"

"I listen to my Heavenly Dad,
I love to hear him talk,
And if he tells me to, I'll steer
Straight into the Inchcape Rock!"

"Twilight and evening bell,
And after that....(smirk, smirk)
I'm Captain here, so go to Hell!"
And he gave the wheel a jerk.

It was Ashcroft, Ashcroft everywhere,
And no sign of the Bill of Rights,
Or Osama bin L. or an end to hell,
And no WMDs in sight.

And then a wave of pure disgust
Rose up with a mighty swell,
It swamped Shrub’s decks, the timbers heaved,
And the public heaved, as well.

They threw God's Skipper in the drink
And his Albatross in after,
And when their grisly crew was gone,
Twas time for joy and laughter.

Our Ship of State is leaking tub,
I pray we may not founder,
At least our captain is not Shrub,
And will make our vessel sounder.

This briny yarn I spin is true,
I saw it with these eyes,
So buy me a round, you cheapskate you,
And I'll tell you a bunch of lies.

Bush AWOL: Bush absent without leave while others went to their deaths 

aWol Payroll Records Jedi Master Paul Lukasiak—the kind of guy who figures out what the holes in the punchcards mean in the AF's 60s-style payroll system—has revised his site, and the introduction is, um, rather pointed. In fact, it's napalm for Sunday morning:

On February 10. 2004, the White House released a number of documents related to George W. Bush’s military service in the Texas Air National Guard. (TXANG). The White House claimed repeatedly (twelve time in fact, see box) that these documents proved that Bush had fulfilled his duty.

On Friday, February 13, 2004, the White House released what it described as all the documents in Bush’s personnel files. Most accurately described as a “document dump” the hundreds of pages were thoroughly disorganized and filled with scores of duplicate pages.

The mainstream press was confronted with this massive amount of information to sift through, and had no expertise with which to evaluate the information contained in the documents. As a result, virtually no real reporting was done on the documents, other than to state that there was “no smoking gun” found, apparently because none of the documents announced in bold type “BUSH WAS AWOL”.

But the records released by the White House contained more than a “smoking gun”. They contained a whole arsenal of documents that, if you know the context in which they were written, establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that “Bush was AWOL.”
(via The aWol Project)

Go read the whole thing. The devil, as always, is in the details. The Bush "document dump" strategy assumes that nobody will read the documents. Of course, the wussy SCLM didn't, but now we have the blogosphere, and Paul Lukasiak did.

And the story is building up a head of steam. The Blue Lemur talked to Reagan administration DOD official Lawrence Korb, and got this response:

Lawrence J. Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Logistics under Ronald Reagan from 1981-1985, confirmed [the] legal analysis of President Bush’s Guard Service in a telephone call Friday afternoon.

Given proof that Bush missed five months of Guard training sessions, he said that Bush would be considered AWOL.

“If you don’t show up, you’re absent without leave, by definition,” Korb said.

No more than ten percent of sessions could be missed without them being made up, he asserted. He added that President Bush should have been mandated to serve active duty if he missed even two months of service in a fiscal year – 24 months of active duty minus the amount of active duty already served.

“You would be put on active duty and sent wherever they needed you,” he said.

At the time Bush was serving in the Texas Air National Guard, Korb himself was serving in the Naval Reserve, the Navy’s equivalent of the National Guard, where he served from 1966 to 1985. He dismisses suggestions that the Guard was being lenient about service at the time.

“At that time they were very strict about fulfilling their obligations – and we don’t like to say it – because this was a way to avoid the draft and going to Vietnam."‘

He was unable to examine Bush’s payroll records at his home on Friday, but is expected to formally confirm that Bush had failed to complete his required duty in 1972, therefore rendering him AWOL, at his office Monday.

Korb currently serves as a Senior Analyst at the Center for Defense Information and a Senior Fellow at the progressive thinktank, the Center for American Progress.
(via The Blue Lemur)

(It shows how extreme the Bush agenda is, and how far the 6 winger billionaire families who control the VRWC (back) have pushed America to the right, that a Reaganite would serve at a liberal think thank.)

And just think! The AP suit to release all the records is still to come. Maybe that microfilm will tell us where the missing DD25[8|6] is. And we know Bush was grounded—pissing away the million bucks or so we paid to train him—for failure to take a medical exam, right after the Air Force initiated mandatory drug training; maybe the AP files will help there as well.

Bottom line, though: Fortunate son Bush was aWol. We have the evidence. All that remains is to make the story mainstream.

It really does come down to a question of character, doesn't it? Surely the nation is entitled to ask whether its "wartime President" was absent without leave while others went to their deaths?

Developing... (Heh)

UPDATE Froomkin (include your name and hometown) might be one person who would like to break this story in the mainstream.

Are You a Card-Carrying Member...? 

...of the American Civil Liberties Union that is?

If so, good for you. Send 'em another double eagle and an "attaboy!" If not, read below. They just threw half a million smackers in Johnny Asscrack's fat fucking face rather than bow down before his current "enemies list."

(via ABCnewswire)
The ACLU withdrew Saturday from a program that allows federal workers and military personnel to contribute to charities because it requires participating nonprofit groups to check their employees' names against a government watch list of suspected terrorists.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the Combined Federal Campaign's policy unconstitutional and said it would reject more than $500,000 in donations from the program rather than submit to the requirement, which was instituted under the Patriot Act, said Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director.

Romero withdrew the ACLU from the program and said the organization plans to sue the government over the policy. The group says the watch list is filled with errors that people listed on them have no way of correcting.

"The Patriot Act and the government war on terror now threatens America's nonprofit organizations," Romero said. "We believe the new requirement violates our fundamental principles as well as the constitutional rights of our employees."

Mara Patermaster, the director of the charity program, told The New York Times in Saturday's editions that charities and nonprofit organizations that did not check their employees' names against the federal terrorist watch list could be permanently excluded from the program.

"We expect that the charities will take affirmative action to make sure they are not supporting terrorist activities," she said. "That would specifically include inspecting the lists."

"Our biggest concern is that these government watch lists are notoriously riddled with errors," Romero said. "And they allow no recourse for individuals on the list to correct those errors."

The ACLU was projected to raise about $500,000 from the program, Romero said.
They currently ask for $20 and have a good secure website to join on. If you don't want your name on a "watch list" for the remaining three months of the BushCoInc administration, send 'em a money order with no return address and pick up your card after the Rapture comes in January.

A man walks into a campaign rally and orders a... 

George W. Bush, on a recent campain stop in Ohio, introduces VP Dick Cheney to the cheering enthusiastic assembly. Earlier Mr. Bush had entertained the gathering with a short folksy story of how he and Mr. Cheney had come to know each other as well as offering an optimistic reminder of the power and value of wishful thinking.

"I was riding my bike around the ranch in Crawford one afternoon and came across a Saudi Genie in a bottle and he granted me three wishes," says Mr. Bush. "My first wish was to be bathed in a vast sea of energy blessings and showered with gifts of entrepreneurial good cheer." (snickers) (audience laughter - whooping and applause) "Next I wished to be rewarded with the presidency of the USA and Dear Leadership of the whole wide world!" (applause) "And, for my third wish, I wished for a big time 12 inch prick ..... and the slippery son-of-a-bitch has been with me ever since!" (laughter) (applause) (whooping and grunting)

Mr. Bush, shouting above the now whooping and grunting crowd, declared of Mr. Cheney: "hes strong, he's steady, and he gets the job done!"

Mr. Cheney, aroused by the throbbing vibrating audience, suddenly appeared in Mr. Bush's right hand, mumble grumbled something to the effect that massaging his shiny bald head would go a long way to making fabulous dreams come true and then slumped over and disappeared into Mr. Bush's front pocket. The crowd erupted with orgiastic delight and began chanting "Dick Dick Dick we want Dick! He's our Leader's 12 inch prick!"

When asked if Mr. Cheney would accompany Mr. Bush on any future campaign flesh presser whistle stops in, oh, say Alabama, a spokesperson for the Bu$h camp told reporters: "Mr. Prick's, I mean Dick, I mean Cheney, Mr Cheney's!, schedule is a matter of personal consensual relationships, I mean national security, a matter of national security!, and any details concerning future arousals, I mean appearences!, will remain of an undisclosed private nature unless otherwise stimulated, I mean stated!, until otherwise stated!"

In other news: Republicans in Florida release an Absentee Flyer flyer...


Joan Abbey's dying wish 

A South Florida woman who died this week had an unusual last request. Instead of flower or contributions in her name to a charity, she asked those who loved her to try to make sure President George W. Bush is not re-elected.

Joan Abbey, shown here before her death, wanted most of all to have President George W. Bush lose the November election.
(from WTF via Fort Lauderdale Channel 10)

The Kerry site is here.

Sweet (But Not Private) Home Alabama 

Among the many, many reasons we need President Kerry's inauguration day to arrive quickly is to get some better judges.

(I must admit I sat on this story (um, bad phrasing there) all week so as not to have it get lost in the convention coverage. This allowed Jesus'General and his evil commentors like G. D. Frogsdong and Anntichrist Coulter to get first crack (oh dear, more phrasing problems) at analysis. Shame on them all, the naughty people!)

(via AL AP newsindex)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld a 1998 state law banning the sale of sex toys in Alabama, ruling the Constitution doesn't include a right to sexual privacy.

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state has a right to police the sale of devices including electronic vibrators and other products meant to stimulate the sex organs.

"If the people of Alabama in time decide that a prohibition on sex toys is misguided, or ineffective, or just plain silly, they can repeal the law and be finished with the matter," the court said. "On the other hand, if we today craft a new fundamental right by which to invalidate the law, we would be bound to give that right full force and effect in all future cases including, for example, those involving adult incest, prostitution, obscenity, and the like."

Circuit Judge Rosemary Barkett disagreed, writing that the decision was based on the "erroneous foundation" that adults don't have a right to consensual sexual intimacy and that private acts can be made a crime in the name of promoting "public morality."

"This case is not, as the majority's demeaning and dismissive analysis suggests, about sex or about sexual devices. It is about the tradition of American citizens from the inception of our democracy to value the constitutionally protected right to be left alone in the privacy of their bedrooms and personal relationships," Barkett wrote in her dissent.
So if we let the poor, lonely but moral Widow Smith buy a vibrator it means we have to allow adult incest. Ahh, Alabama, whose state motto should be "Making Tennessee Look Good Since That Scopes Trial Thing."

Race for Security 

Big politicians love small-town newspapers, TV and radio stations. They are supposed to be the conduit to the "little people" who aren't online, don't read the New York Times or the Washington Post every day. They are also supposed to be staffed by "down home folks" who will be SO thrilled to be in the presence of the Great Ones that they ask no embarassing questions like the smartass city boys do.

They are not supposed to get uppity and question their masters, dammit!

(via Arizona Star, via Atrios)
President Bush's re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Star refused to provide the information. Cheney is scheduled to appear at a rally this afternoon at the Pima County Fairgrounds.

A rally organizer for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign asked Teri Hayt, the Star's managing editor, to disclose the journalist's race on Friday. After Hayt refused, the organizer called back and said the journalist probably would be allowed to photograph the vice president.

Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the president's re-election campaign, said the information was needed for security purposes.

Diaz repeated that answer when asked if it is the practice of the White House to ask for racial information or if the photographer, Mamta Popat, was singled out because of her name.

Organizer Christine Walton asked for Popat's race in telephone conversations with two other Star editors before she spoke to Hayt. They also refused to provide the information. Walton told Hayt that Popat's race was necessary to allow the Secret Service to distinguish her from someone else who might have the same name.
Every time I hear a story from Tucson, Arizona I know I will spend the rest of the day with a certain song running through my head: Get back! Get back! Get back to where you once belonged....

The Fog Machine and the Contractors 

Most of us lefty types have been scrupulous about following the rule of "love the soldier, hate the war."

But ever since Kos's superb essay a few months back about mercenaries the subject of contractors has been a touchy one. Do contract workers, from American companies at least, fall into the same category as soldiers for purposes of moral evaluation? We here at corrente have concentrated mostly on following the money trails, figuring out where the loot is winding up. Or trying to track the chains of command at places like Abu Ghraib.

The individual contract workers themselves have not gotten much attention, with the exception of the Mississippi truck driver who was taken hostage. We see no faces, we hear no names, the stories and the obituaries run only in small-town papers across America.

Guess what? These folks are being screwed. We knew that already, but we didn't know just how badly.

(via WaPo)'s Renae Merle
At least 110 contractors working for U.S. firms have died in Iraq, according to industry estimates. Experts say the number of casualties could be far higher, given the tens of thousands of private contractors who have taken over duties for the military. The Pentagon does not keep an official count, and many companies do not announce when their employees in Iraq are killed.

Contractors are paid more than soldiers are, but their life insurance policies are usually not as generous or as ironclad. A dead soldier's family is guaranteed life insurance and death benefits.

And although the military generally transports soldiers' and contractors' bodies together from Iraq to Kuwait, they are treated differently upon arrival. The military aims to fly soldiers' bodies to Dover Port Mortuary in Delaware within three days of their arrival at the Kuwait processing center. Contractors generally have to find a commercial flight to ship the bodies, and that can take time.
This story is grim in the extreme, which is probably why it's being buried in a Saturday edition.

More tongue from the tWins 

No, not Mary Kate and Ashley. Eew! The Bush twins, Babs II and Jenna (back, but not at lunchtime).

Froomkin, in a rare lapse, points us to Their new "blog" (heh) but neglects to tell us that there's no "there" there:

Sadly, the "full archives" are empty. Not that empty full-ness comes as any surprise from the "up is down" maladministration.

Maybe when the tWins discovered that blogging involves lots of work posting, finding a distinctive voice, and proving your worth to your readers, They decided to bail. Or get some operative to ghost for Them. Yeah, that's the ticket...

Say, I wonder if Their blog will enable comments? Maybe alert readers along Their itinerary could let them know where the bars (back) are? I mean, assuming they don't already know...

NOTE As a sign of my respect for The Chosen One, our Dear Leader, I always to capitalize His Name when referring to Him. Therefore, as a mark of similar respect, I capitalize Their names as well—since, if He has been Chosen of God to lead us, must They not be Chosen as well?

Bush to leave the bubble in August? 

The essential Froomkin notes:

[WaPo's Allen"] "Until now, most of Bush's campaign events have been filled with his backers. His staff said that during August, he will make it a point to appear in more impromptu settings."
(via WaPo)

Well, at least citizens won't have to sign the electoral equivalent of a pre-nup (back) to get to see Bush.

On the other hand, Rove and Bush being who and what they are, I can't help but think—assuming that they're telling the truth—that they're hoping for some sort of clumsy Seattle-like demonstration to give the "Bush hating" meme new life. So if anyone breaks through the bubble, I hope they're quiet and respectful, or Billionaires for Bush, and above all telegenic for Democrats.

I don't know boxing terminology at all well, but it strikes me that Kerry has always gone for a single knockout (as with Weld, for example). This election, Bush is hiding behind his jab, and trying to bloody Kerry. But for Bush to appear in an "impromptu setting"—that would mean Bush is dropping his guard, momentarily, hoping that Kerry will.... Readers?

Department of "They Made My Head Explode Again": Bush says "Every vote counts." 

Although not every vote is counted....

Anyhow, Buzzflash has an image of the flyer where Republicans tell their supporters to cast their votes by absentee ballot (back here), because the electronic voting machines can't by trusted.

Sheesh, they're even looting our conspiracy theories! I guess we should find that flattering, in a way....

Digby has a wonderful take on why this flyer is post-modern politics at its best..

Republicans show how much your vote means to them: Nothing! 

Could it be that the Florida Republicans don't care about your vote because they already have the next election wired, using their new electronic voting technology? You'd have to ask them that. Meanwbile, the tragedy of Florida 2000 is repeating itself in 2004, as farce:

Florida's patented electoral circus bounded into the realm of the surreal Friday with a messy airing of gripes and an embarrassing discovery.

Constance Kaplan, director of the largest elections office in the state, spent the day trying to explain why the 2002 election data that [Kaplan] had been telling everyone were irretrievably lost were not lost after all. In fact, the data -- audits of the troubled 2002 governor's primary and general election -- were on a computer disk in a folder among "books and bookcases and old reports" in the conference room next to her office.
(via WaPo)

You know, I have to overcome my essential sense of modesty and give myself a tip of the ol' Corrente Hat on this one. When this story first broke—when the nationwide bellylaugh began— I snarked: "Hey, maybe they'll find the votes in an "unlabelled binder" (back here, just like Bush's also mysteriously missing military records).

And lo and behold! They did! The CD with the votes was in "a folder with the old reports"... (I mean, assuming it wasn't put there as a throw down (back) by the electronic voting machine vendor, who was in the room when the CD was "found." In that case, what's snarking for me is a cover story for the Republicans, which is frightening on so many levels.)

Thank you, Republicans! You not only meet my expecations, you exceed them! Every time!

Thank you, Republicans! I'm so proud that I don't even need to cast my vote any more!

Friday, July 30, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Atrios has very nice poll numbers.

Sweet dreams!

Oh wow! Bush really did suppress the deficit numbers 'til after the Convention 

And of course, the figures are as awful as we expected

This year's federal deficit will soar to a record $445 billion, the White House projected Friday in a report provoking immediate election-season tussling over how well President Bush has handled the economy.

Administration officials hailed the budget figures as a solid improvement over the deficits analysts forecast early this year, and said they were on their way to their goal of halving this year's shortfall in five years.
(via AP)

If you believe, clap your hands!

Hey, at least its nice to know that the Republicans have finally abandoned Keynesianism. I mean, it used to be that with a record deficit you could at least buy some stimulus for the economy, but the economy's tanking too!

Steady leadership right down the tubes....

Oh wow! The economy's tanking, and the economists are wrong again! 

Why can't we outsource the economists, anyhow? They've been wrong on the job market from day 1 of the Wecovery, and now they're wrong on growth.

The U.S. economy slowed dramatically in the spring to an annual growth rate of 3 percent, as consumers, worried about higher gasoline prices, cut back their spending to the weakest pace in three years, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The April-June advance in the gross domestic product, the country's output of goods and services, was below the 3.8 percent increase many economists had expected and was significantly down from a revised 4.5 percent growth rate in the first three months of the year.

The administration, counting on a rebounding economy to bolster President Bush's re-election prospects, insisted the second-quarter slowdown was only temporary and forecast that growth would rebound in the second half of the year.
(via AP)

If you believe, clap your hands!

To a Republican, life is cheap (at least when it's somebody else's) 

What a coincidence! OSHA actually does something, and it just happens to be in Ohio%mdash;a swing state!

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Federal investigators Friday announced $280,000 in fines against the builder of a bridge where four workers were killed when a 1,000-ton crane collapsed.

U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials said at a news conference that St. Louis-based Fru-Con Construction Corp. did not follow instructions for safely operating the crane and violated three othPr federal workplace safety standards.
(via AP)

Do the math: that's $70,000 a life. Sounds like just a cost of doing business to me.

So I think we can have The Department of "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?" handle this one.

Really, if Bush wants to pander to swing state voters, he's going to have to do a lot better than that.

Le plus ca change, c'est plus le meme merde 

Atrios and Marshall are unwarrantedly respectful of the carping about Kerry "stepping on his applause lines" during his acceptance speech, holding out the possibility that the same morons who are wrong about everything else might be right for once. Nonsense. All we have to do is dial back the time machine to 2000. Here's Charlie Cook, one of the few intelligent commentators on the political scene, about reaction to Gore' speech:

Interestingly, many people who were in the Staples Center were not impressed with Gore's speech. They complained that he talked too fast, stepped on his applause lines, and plowed through the cheers of the crowd as if he couldn't hear them or was afraid to stop. As it turned out, the faster speaking style prevented Gore from sounding pedantic and condescending-problems he's yet to fully overcome. ... Breaking through the applause lines, as it turned out, made the speech sound more natural to television viewers, who were not focused on crowd reaction in the hall.

In short, Gore left a strong and positive impression with TV viewers, and he was rewarded with a big poll bounce that carried into September.

Personally I think plowing into applause is effective in an acceptance speech, because the whole point is establish momentum for the months ahead. It's like James Brown playing 'on the one'-- a tension is set up between two opposing forces that is electric and propulsive. Stopping every time your audience applauds, by contrast, merely dissipates the energy.

In any event, to paraphrase Mencken, no one ever went broke underestimating the imbecility of the chattering classes.

Credulity Prices Spike as Supplies Near Exhaustion 

Remember the Amazing Disappearing, Absolutely Positively Gone, Destroyed In Fact and Here's the Details Bush military records? Which less than a week later made a miraculous reappearance to tell us...well, absolutely nothing to speak of, except to cast further doubt, as if it were necessary, on BushCo's credibility?

You're just not gonna believe it, but something very similar has happened again. Remember those records of the Florida primary that were lost, gone beyond recall, guaranteed never to be seen again because of two, count 'em two, horrible computer crashes?

(via AP via NYT)
Miami-Dade County elections officials said Friday they have found detailed electronic voting records from the 2002 gubernatorial primary that were originally believed lost in computer crashes last year.

Seth Kaplan, spokesman for the Elections Supervisor office, said the records were found on a compact disc in the office. ``We are very pleased,'' he said.

When the loss was initially reported earlier this week, state officials had stressed that no votes were lost in the actual election. The record of the votes had been believed lost during the crashes in April and November of 2003, and county officials had said they did not have a backup system in place until December.

The lost records marked the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes involving Florida voting since the turmoil of the 2000 presidential race.

Despite the discovery of the disc, local activists expressed skepticism.
No shit??
``There are now more questions than before,'' said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. ``I certainly want the disc, I certainly wish someone would test the original disc they are now claiming they found and determine when that disc was made, where it came from, whether it's been tampered with and if anyone's opened it.''

A team from the state Division of Elections was sent to Miami earlier this week to work with local officials to see what happened and whether the information was retrievable. Kaplan said officials from the machine vendor, Election Systems & Software Inc., were also in the office, though he said it was Miami-Dade officials who found the disc.

Kaplan said the backup disc was likely lost due to transition in the office within the past year. A new elections supervisor took over in July 2003.
UPDATE: Minor editing done to add a line inadvertently left out of the opening graf by Your Editor hitting "publish" in too big a damn hurry to rush off to watch the "Daily Show" rerun. Hey, it was the Sharpton speech episode, just had to riff on that one again.

Ridge to Quit, Endorse Kerry?  

Now let me say first off that the "endorse Kerry" part of that headline is pure speculation on my part. But suspicion is surely justified after seeing the following:

(via Pittsburg Post-Gazette)
WASHINGTON -- Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is considering stepping down, telling colleagues he needs to earn money in the private sector to put his teenage children through college, officials said.

Ridge, 58, has explained to colleagues that he needs to earn money to comfortably put his two children, Tommy Jr. and Lesley, through college, officials said. Both are now teenagers. Ridge earns $175,700 a year as a Cabinet secretary.

When Ridge left Pennsylvania as governor, where he served from 1995 to 2001, he was earning $138,316 each year.

Ridge owns an $873,000 home in Bethesda, Md....and his most recent financial disclosure reports, filed in early 2003, showed that he owned between $122,000 and $787,000 in stocks and funds, including modest ownership in The Walt Disney Co., General Electric, Nike, Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp.
My God, the poor man! Destitution indeed! A fund drive is certainly in order. I weep into my kerchief at the thought of his plight.

So did I just pull that "Kerry endorsement" stuff out of my ass? Well, yeah, since I am a mere blogger. If I worked at NYT it would be called "It's my trial balloon and I'll float it if I want to, thank you."

But think back to what seemed like a stock line in Kerry's acceptance speech last night, about helping make college more affordable for the downtrodden and hard-pressed. If even a guy making 175 freakin' thou a year needs help to send just two kids through school, is this not proof that Kerry's college aid plan is needed even more than we thought?

Or...is it maybe that Ridge wants out of the cesspool before the honey wagon arrives, and came up with the best excuse he could? We Spin, You Get Dizzy (slogan tm. 2004 correnteco.inc)

A Bouquet of Cactus for Cheney 

That the Emperor has no clothes we have long known. Proof that the Vice-Emperor is similarly sky-clad, and equally undesirous of having this brought to His attention, is noted below. Kudos to alert reader raison de fem who is on the scene of this developing story. Over to you, raison: (via ABQJournal)
Some would-be spectators hoping to attend Vice President Dick Cheney's rally in Rio Rancho this weekend walked out of a Republican campaign office miffed and ticketless Thursday after getting this news:
Unless you sign an endorsement for President George W. Bush, you're not getting any passes.
The Albuquerque Bush-Cheney Victory office in charge of doling out the tickets to Saturday's event was requiring the endorsement forms from people it could not verify as supporters.
Minor BS about an alleged "Democrat operative group" omitted as it is BS.
Yier Shi, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee...said campaign workers got such verification by checking to see whether, among other things, someone has contributed money or volunteered for the campaign.

An endorsement form provided to the Journal by Random says: "I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States."
I swear to God that is exactly as the Albuquerque paper had it. Any similarity to the swearing-in process used by the dastardly Hedley LaMar in the movie "Blazing Saddles" is entirely in the mind of the reader. To continue:
The John Kerry/John Edwards campaign on Thursday issued a news release that asked, "Shouldn't all New Mexicans have the right to see their VP?"

Ruben Pulido Jr., a spokesman for that campaign, said the Democratic Party has no screening requirements for those interested in seeing Kerry or Edwards.

When Kerry visited Albuquerque earlier this month, a contingent of Bush supporters were in the crowd. The Associated Press has reported that the group chanted "Viva Bush!" during the event. The AP added that Kerry urged the crowd to tolerate the Bush supporters.
Let us devote today's Two-Minute Cheney Love to a prayer: Oh Lord, We appreciate Thy divine restraint which hast kept Thou from smiting this foul slug, which art a boil upon the ass of Thy creation. We humbly beseech that Thou keep it up right through Nov. 2, after which Thou art to feel free to snuff it in any way Thou art comfortable with, and is least likely to get slime on Thy hand. Amen.

The Gang That Couldn't Vote Straight 

So Gov. Bush says the electronic voting machines ARE just fine, dammit, and paper trails are evil and communist if not downright liberal. But then who is this "President" Bush who thinks Republicans should get absentee ballots if they want to make positively, absolutely sure their votes get counted?

(via Palm Beach Post, although every paper in Florida has picked up on this, as well as LA and Billings, Montana):
After spending months blocking Democratic efforts to equip touch-screen voting machines with printers to produce paper ballots, Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday found his position at odds with his own party.
In a mailing to Republicans in a Miami-Dade County state House district, the Republican Party of Florida urged voters to cast absentee ballots, warning that "electronic voting machines do not have a paper ballot to verify your vote in case of a recount."

The argument is identical to the one U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, has made in federal and state courts in hopes a judge will order Secretary of State Glenda Hood, a Bush appointee, to equip touch-screen machines with printers before the Nov. 2 presidential election.

"The Republicans should send that flyer to Gov. Jeb Bush and tell him to get his head out of [the sand] and create a paper trail for all voters so that we can be sure that every vote is counted," Wexler said. "This is an appalling disgrace."
Okay, Wexler really did say "head in the sand", I just put those brackets around it to make you think he really said what I *know* all of you naughty people would have said if it was you.

But let's take a look back at how this whole Flyergate thing came about in the first place. You know who started it? The Indians! For this we consult the
S. FL Sun-Sentinel:
The Republican apology stemmed from a glossy mailer paid for by the GOP [which] featured a smiling President George W. Bush and urged voters not to take a chance with the touch-screen machines.

"The liberal Democrats have already begun their attacks and the new electronic voting machines do not have a paper ballot to verify your vote in case of a recount," the front page of the mailer reads. "Make sure your vote counts, order your absentee ballot today."

The GOP flier was mailed to voters where incumbent Rep. Juan-Carlos Zapata, a Republican, is running in the primary against challenger Frank Artiles.

Zapata downplayed the mailer and insisted that he had no involvement in its distribution.

However, he said it surfaced as a response to an earlier mailer distributed by the Miccosukee Indian tribe that also used the president's image on behalf of the write-in contender.

"The Miccosukee brochures had George Bush all over it, and I think the party, just from a political standpoint, felt uncomfortable with something out there like that that wasn't for a Republican candidate, and they wanted to get something out there," Zapata said.
Maybe Mr. Zapata should spend more time explaining why one of the contenders in a Republican primary isn't a Republican. Any time he has left over he can spend explaining the importance of paper trails to his party leaders.

Avast, Ye Mateys... 

So they mobilized every real cop, rent-a-cop, SWAT team, both remaining members of the Massachusetts National Guard and anybody else they could find with a uniform, to guard agaist the dread forces of Protest expected to descend on Boston, right?

And what did they get? The Dread Pirate Roberts and a guy with a toilet plunger. I love it:

(via Pittsburg Post-Gazette)
BOSTON -- The Revolution officially began at noon yesterday with a Battle of the Bands between the Lyndon LaRouche Youth Movement and a cadre of anarchists dressed as pirates.

The LaRouchies, a weird amalgam of far-right conspiracy theorists, have taken to singing black spirituals and Bach cantatas all over town. They do this in four-part harmony and do it quite well.

The anarchists, who had gathered in Copley Square to prepare to march on the FleetCenter convention site, took offense at the LaRouchies crashing in. They crowded against the intruders, banged on drums, and chanted, "Are you hungry? Eat the rich!"

This went on for about 10 minutes, at which point one of the pirates engaged in a mock duel with a masked guy carrying a toilet plunger. For the record, the pirate won.

Boston has been anticipating trouble for a week now. Under an umbrella group called The Bl(A)ck Tea Society -- the "a" in black is parenthesized to stress anarchism -- an assortment of left groups sent a few hundred marchers to send the message that the only difference they can see between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry is about four inches in height.

Thursday was the day for "decentralized actions," which meant some groups planned to break the law, but wouldn't tell the organizers. One thing these guys learned from the Reagan administration is the importance of plausible deniability.

The first action started around 10 a.m. when a dozen young men on bicycles, led by the chief pirate, whose attitude toward reporters would have done Teresa Heinz Kerry proud, lazily circled the intersection of Boylston and Clarendon.

"Hold the intersection!" the chief pirate yelled. Traffic was blocked for a few minutes, until a woman in an SUV edged her way through and shouted her displeasure.

"We're protesting the DNC!" one bicyclist yelled.

"You need a sign or something, you idiot," she replied. In Boston, dissent is respected, but people demand clear labeling.

Suddenly, a phalanx (and I've been waiting to use that word all week) of police arrived. On bicycle. There was a bicycle chase. The anarchists sped down Clarendon, followed by 30 uniformed Boston policemen pedaling hard. The group made a long circuit around the Copley Square area, then returned.

There were no arrests, motorists were annoyed and, possibly to everyone's amazement, the United States was still a capitalist nation. The Democratic National Committee is invulnerable to bicycle attack.
Oh yeah...almost nobody used the "Free Speech Zone" except reporters doing standups in front of it. These folks are really going to have to try harder in Manhattan if they expect accomplish anything beyond being offered jobs promoting off-Broadway theatrical productions.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

With no TV, I won't know how Kerry's speech was until tomorrow... But I hope he did well.

Science for Republicans 

Squirrels have been recorded using high-pitched ultrasonic "whispers" that are inaudible to the human ear but warn each other of danger.
(via Independent)

It always amazes me when it happens: The Wingers all suddenly start using the same lines, without seeming to communicate....

Now I know how it happens!

Orwell watch: Bush "streamlines" protection of endangered species by eliminating it 

Let's be positive! With Kerry as President, this kind of nonsense will stop:

The Environmental Protection Agency will be free to approve pesticides without consulting wildlife agencies to determine if the chemical might harm plants and animals protected by the Endangered Species Act, according to new Bush administration rules.

The streamlining by the Interior and Commerce departments represents "a more efficient approach to ensure protection of threatened and endangered species," officials with the two agencies, EPA and the Agriculture Department said in a joint statement Thursday.

Under the Endangered Species Act, EPA has been required to consult with Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service and Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service each time it licenses a new pesticide. But that hasn't been happening for some time.

"Because of the complexity of consultations to examine the effects of pest-control products, there have been almost no consultations completed in the past decade," the officials acknowledged in their statement.

The heads of the two wildlife services will presume EPA's review work is adequate in cases where EPA doesn't seek a consultation.

Aaron Colangelo, an [Natural Resources Defense Counsel] staff attorney, said the new rule benefits the pesticide industry at the expense of endangered species.

"The fact that the consultations are so complicated counsels for better protection, not lesser protection," he said. "The solution to ignoring it for decades isn't to rewrite the rule so they can continue to ignore the consultations. The solution is to start complying with the Endangered Species Act."
(via AP)

I love this latest example of Bush depradations. It combines all the best features of Bush policy-making:

1. Selling the EPA off to the pesticide industry

2. Denigrating the scientists at the wildlife agencies

3. Having the people who already know the answers they want (the EPA) deciding when to ask questions

4. Dealing with "complexity" (like nuance) by insisting it doesn't exist

and last but not least

5. Spewing poison wherever they go.

Iraq clusterfuck: RNC/CPA misplaces $1 billion 

A billion here, a billion there—pretty soon, you're talking real money!

Hey, remember those twenty-somethings the RNC/CPA hired because they sent in their resumes to the Heritage Foundation? And only because? Maybe they know where the money is!

U.S. civilian authorities in Baghdad failed to keep good track of nearly $1 billion in Iraqi money spent for reconstruction projects and can't produce records to show whether they got some services and products they paid for, anew audit concludes.

The one-star general overseeing reconstruction contracts in Iraq said in response to the audit that the lack of documentation didn't prove the money was wasted.
(via AP)

"Trust me!"—that's Bush=speak for "Fuck you!"

"We believe the contracts awarded with Iraqi funds were for the sole benefit of the Iraqi people, without exception," Army Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Seay wrote to the inspector general.

You "believe"? That's a new one—faith-based accounting!

The investigators reviewed 43 contracts and found 29 had incomplete or missing documentation. For each of the 29, "we were unable to determine if the goods specified in the contract were ever received, the total amount of payments made to the contractor or if the contractor fully complied with the terms of the contract," investigators wrote.

The report said investigators could not track down 52 of 164 randomly selected items in an inventory of more than 20,000 items overseen by KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton. The missing items included two electric generators worth nearly $1 million, 18 trucks or SUVs and six laptop computers.

Looting! After lying, that's what Republicans do best!

Two Problems Cured in One Swell Foop 

Many people are unemployed, right? Around 1.3 million by "official" numbers, although between new people coming into the labor market, those whose benefits ran out but who still don't have work, and the general propensity of Bushco to cook the books on government-issued statistics it's hard to say for sure.

Many people, even if employed, don't have health insurance. True? True. Trust me on this one.

Those people, we hate to tell you, are just lazy whiners. Because the Bush campaign is on top of these problems, dammit! Per Yahoo news
(Reuters) - A campaign worker for President Bush (news - web sites) said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?" said Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.

The comment was apparently directed to a colleague who was transferring a phone call from a reporter asking about job quality, and who overheard the remark.

When told the Prozac comment had been overheard, Sheybani said: "Oh, I was just kidding."
Now we would hate to take a casual comment by a campaign worker, whose experience base appears to consist of working for Dick Armey and winning a low-level beauty pageant, as the official position of Dear Leader. That would be cruel, and class warfare, and all that. Almost as bad as taking a video of a candidate's wife, telling a guy who's been stalking her for a decade to "shove it," and playing it umpty-zillion times without context or background.

So let's look back a little ways, to July 16 or so, during the National Governor's Conference. I posted one rude crack from that event but managed to miss this other item entirely, possibly because it seems to only have appeared in an obscure paper in Olympia, called, logically enough The Olympian:
July 16, 2004--Washington Gov. Gary]Locke said Washington state spends about $1 billion a year paying for services for seniors that Medicare doesn't cover.

Reed Dickens, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said Locke's criticisms were off-target.

Dickens said Bush has proposed different solutions to help the uninsured. He added, "Most Americans who don't have health care don't have health care by choice."
So there you have it. Ambition, willpower and Prozac. Just like Dear Leader himself, and look where he got in life having started out as the son of a lowly turd miner.

Hey, We Beat Somebody in Afghanistan! 

Osama? Opium farmers? Taliban remnants?

Naw, they're doing fine.

We managed to run off Doctor Without Borders. I think this story may have slid under the radar because AP used their actual name:

(via Boston Herald)
Medecins Sans Frontieres became the first major aid agency to quit Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban.

The Nobel prize-winning medical relief group denounced the U.S. military's use of aid to persuade Afghans to snitch on insurgents, saying it risked turning all relief workers into targets.

The withdrawal of Medecins Sans Frontieres, which had 80 international volunteers and 1,400 Afghan staff in the country before the June attack, is the most dramatic example yet of how poor security more than two years after the fall of the Taliban is hampering the delivery of badly needed aid.

MSF, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, has been working in Afghanistan for 24 years - through a decade of Soviet occupation, a brutal civil war and the rise and fall of the repressive Taliban.

Mom Always Liked You Best 

Hey, give it to Mikey! Mikey'll eat anything.

(via DailyNews (NY via LA))

BOSTON -- Conservative radio host Michael Reagan went on TV to criticize his brother's speech here Tuesday and bitterly complain that Nancy Reagan loves him best.

"He is her favorite," Michael Reagan said on Fox News. "Ron can do no wrong. I mean, basically that's it, Ron can do no wrong."
Gee, I wonder why that might be? Poor Mikey. He'd so like to have this portrayed as a Cain and Abel story, and can't figure out that Tom and Dick did it better thirty years ago.

That's Gratitude For You 

A friend stationed in Balad, Iraq, sends the following message from a local policeman:

And, to think, after all those schools we opened for them....

Mailbox Outtakes 

From Judd Legum at the Center for American Progress we are informed:
"The First Family...does not snack...They are very good at respecting meal time hours and do not eat between meals...there is no snacking..." - White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier

What? That sounds down right un-American to me. Afterall, what kind of real American doesn't snack? America is snack happy. Snack snack snack. A yummy snack is America's crack. It's always been that way. As a matter of snack, I mean fact!, I just got done eating a nest of baby wrens that I discovered living in an old rusty coffee can nailed to the side of the house. I don't need some Vichy Frenchman gourmand telling me I can't snack between meals or between other snacks or during hikes in the woods at 2 am! God damn it. And I'm sure Mr. President Bush would agree with me on this.....

"President Bush fainted for a brief time Sunday in the residence of the White House while eating a pretzel and watching a professional football game on television."

See what I mean. Thats what we real Americans call extreme snacking. Although, strictly speaking, I'm not sure quaaludes are considered a "snack". However, eating a bunch of em and choking on pretzels and falling down and thrashing around like a wounded gecko while watching football games on the tv console is pretty cool especially if you happen to be fiddling around with the remote control at the time and accidentally launch a intercontinental ballistic nuclear strike on Australia or Denmark or China or where-ever. Woo-hoo!, "Dead Bug!" Hey, you there, pass the nuts.

2- The Death of Outrage
Remember when that bagman of extreme snacking Bill Bennett wrote that book about how, according to some guy named John J Miller writing over at that Amazon.com place, "The commander in chief sets the moral tone of the nation; a reckless personal life and repeated lying from the bully pulpit call[s] for a heavy sanction." Yes, well, apparently the "heavy sanction" breathing has been called off for the time being. Or something like that. At least thats the plan if you've been following the recent happy talk coming from your local tv console. I'm sure Bill Bennett is hiding under his Victorian moral compass as I write this.

Anyway, riggsveda writes in with a link to a Jonathan Chait column via The New Republic which argues that there ain't nothing wrong with, as riggsveda points out, "calling a fool a fool." I haven't yet read the TNR/Chait article myself but I plan to because I've been thinking some on the subject of vitriol and venom and all that kind of thang. I haven't decided what kind of adjustments I might make to my own manufacture and output of poisonous spew. It does actually become pretty tiresome at times, and I really get sick of listening to myself do it, but, at this point I have no intention of abandoning the spigot altogether. Not as long as there are still Rush Limbaugh's and Ann Coulters and Sean Hannity's and Tom Delay's and Rick Santorum's and on and on and on.... loosed upon the land. Maybe I'll go retrieve my copy of Bill Bennett's The Death of Outrage from the bathroom, and, if there are any pages still left in it, scan the text for whatever little left behind posies of wisdom it might contain. Heh.

3 - AP Plays RNC Foot-C with EC? Hmmm?
I had read the squirrelly Associated Press item, which I suspected amounted to so much statistical nut gathering with respect to Electoral College vote results, and was happy to discover that someone decided to dissect the thing. Stephen Crockett and Al Lawrence, hosts of Democratic Talk Radio, mailed in their results and you can read all about it right here: Faulty Misleading AP Story. Definetly check it out before the morons on your tv console begin repeating the AP fantasy as if it were drilled in granite.

4- T-shirts!!!
Every body loves T-shirts. Especially if you're like me and you hardly ever wear anything that isn't made out of tent canvas. Therefore, you can buy yourself some nice soft 100% cotton T-shirts from Kerry Tshirts.net Made in the USA.

5- Fighting Words Fighting Back
This is the mailbox find finale. From "No Mind" at Fighting Words Comics. Really, turn off the tv console, fix yerself a bowl pretzels and a quaalude tonic and run off to visit FWC. And leave that remote control thing alone! "No Minds" cartoons are funny and well drawn and aren't afraid to call a fool a fool. So go visit the Archives and see for yerself. A couple of my favorites include "Bush's Conversation With God" and "The Rove Plan". There are a lot more than that on the list, so, you know what to do. Thanks for the snacks "No Mind"!

Laissez les bon ton roulette.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Man, the RNC is going to distribute 8 million anti-Kerry videos? Nice to see them taking the high road.....

Department of Unasked Questions: "Scotty, how long has the President been taking medication?" 

Heh (the totalled car).

Heh heh (another biking crash).

Heh heh heh (the doctor's prescription).

Heh heh heh heh (the skipped medical exam. We wonder why?)

OK, OK, we're being positive! We called him "the President," didn't we?

And I almost forgot—one of Bush's Major Accomplishments is the passage of a prescription drugs bill. Hmmmm... Maybe He can identify?

Electronic voting: Florida officials, after losing votes, deny need for an audit 

I wonder why?

Following a disclosure that a computer crash erased records from Miami-Dade County's first widespread use of touchscreen voting machines, election reform groups want an audit in more than a dozen counties during Florida's Aug. 31 primary.

State officials Wednesday insisted auditing wasn't necessary because all touchscreen votes were counted during the 2002 gubernatorial primary election, even though records of the votes were lost during computer crashes last year. Some records of other elections also were believed lost.

A coalition of election groups contend the problem, however, could be indicative of further problems with the machines — and the only way to know for certain that votes are cast, tabulated and reported accurately is if an audit is done during a live election. They want the state to audit touchscreen voting machines in 15 counties.
(via AP)

Hey, maybe they'll find the votes in an "unlabelled binder" (back).

Oh, wait, the votes are electronic...

Well, heck! We all know computers never lose anything! Mine certainly doesn't....

Commander QWuaalude's Hilarious Parking mis-Adventure 

Well, after reading Tom's post below - see Can This Be True? - I can more fully appreciate the hilarity value of this charming little bit of Bush family lore.

From the Jay Leno Show - May 12, 2004:

MRS. BUSH: Sure. Sure. (Laughter.)

Actually, when he was running for Congress the very first time, his mother told me -- Barbara Bush said, never criticize George's speeches. So I really took her advice to heart and never criticized any of his speeches.

I knew there were plenty of other critics without me being one of them. Until one night, we were driving into our driveway and he said, tell me truth, how was my speech. And I said, well, it wasn't that good. (Laughter.) And with that, he drove into the driveway, drove into the garage wall. (Laughter and applause.)

[Leno] Q Wow.

MRS. BUSH: That's really true.

[Leno] Q I can see why she didn't want you to that. (Laughter.)

All right. More with the First Lady right after this. (Applause.)

Interview of First Lady Laura Bush on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nbc Studios Burbank, California | May 19, 2004 ~ transcript - White House.gov

Well, now we know what "Altoid Boy" is really carting around in his little tin box of "mints". Oooo, what do the pretty red ones do!


Another Preemptive Excuse 

Are we seeing a trend here?

This is an op-ed piece by a couple of guys from The Economist, hardly a lefty rag but not a Republican mouthpiece by any means.
(via LATimes)
BOSTON — One of the secrets of conservative America is how often it has welcomed Republican defeats.. In November 1992, George H.W. Bush's defeat provoked celebrations not just in Little Rock, where the Clintonites danced around to Fleetwood Mac, but also in some corners of conservative America.

"Oh yeah, man, it was fabulous," recalled Tom DeLay, the hard-line congressman from Sugar Land, Texas, who had feared another "four years of misery" fighting the urge to cross his party's too-liberal leader. At the Heritage Foundation, a group of right-wingers called the Third Generation conducted a bizarre rite involving a plastic head of the deposed president on a platter decorated with blood-red crepe paper...

[A] few conservatives might welcome a November Bush-bashing: the certain belief that they will be back, better than ever, in 2008... In four years, many conservatives believe, President Kerry could limp to destruction at the hands of somebody like Colorado Gov. Bill Owens.
I find the historical analysis here weak [go read details for yourself, we can always argue in comments] and the conclusions even more so. The groups that are so far hanging on to the "conservative movement" barely managed to eke out enough votes to steal connive their way into the White House last time. Who else are they going to cut out for being "too liberal"?

I smell grapes turning sour in the Texas sun.

Go Gas Up The Car 

George had better dig up a new crucifix or other knicknack to give to his dear pal, Gospodin "I Looked in His Eyes And Saw Into His Soul" Vladimir. If you haven't been following the story of the YUKOS Oil Co. in Russia I don't know exactly how to explain it, but Putin is engaged in a war-to-the-knife power struggle with the owner of the company. Today a court ordered that the company stop pumping oil. They haven't even done this yet and prices in the futures market are spiking badly. The guy at your local Hess station is probably out changing the numbers on the pumps even as we speak:

(via NYT)
U.S. light crude futures rose 52 cents to $42.36 a barrel,[prices as of story circa 10 this morning-Ed.] nine cents below June's 21-year high. ``We're going up on the back of the YUKOS news,'' one dealer said.

YUKOS pumps around 20 percent of the crude supply in Russia, the world's second-biggest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, and if its sales stop, the company could fold quickly
When Bushco and Prince Bandar were rigging their little ploy to run the gas prices up in the summer then drop them for election time, I think they forgot a bear in the corner.

UPDATE 4 p.m. EST: (via Xinhua)

Light sweet crude for delivery in September soared 1.21 dollars to 43.05 dollars a barrel, the highest recorded for the contract since it was launched in 1983.

Could this be true? 

President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.

The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”
(via Capitol Hill Blue)
I think someone should ask Scotty about this, how about you?

And this years Best Actor award goes to... 

"Fahrenheit 9/11" nominations: George W. Bush ~ best actor in a tragedy/comedy action adventure thriller:

IFC Films is distributing the movie with Lions Gate and they will all determine the best strategy for the upcoming Oscar campaign. But, Zap2it has learned that Moore may want to launch a campaign urging Academy voters to also consider George Bush as best actor.

Moore has said that Bush is "a great comedian" in his movie and garners a lot of laughs. The ad campaign idea could be a joke, but the Academy has issued a warning that Oscar ads should not be negative, or in bad taste. - LINK - U.Entertainment.com

I'd like to thank Uncle Dick and Paulie Jug Ears and Rummy and Condi and Colin and our great Director Ahmad Chalabi and Judith Miller and all the fabulous nooze media script writers and Pentagon embed production people at CNNMSNBC/FX studios and, uhmm, uhmm, and..... now watch this drive!


Halliburton - mismanaging your property since.... 

So, the "adults are in charge" are they?

Millions in U.S. property lost in Iraq, report says - (via Bloomberg News)

Halliburton Co. has lost $18.6 million of government property in Iraq, about a third of the items it was given to manage, including trucks, computers and office furniture, government auditors claim.

The auditors couldn't account for 6,975 of 20,531 items on the ledgers of Halliburton's KBR unit, according to a report by Stuart Bowen, auditor for the coalition provisional authority inspector general.

Halliburton is providing services to U.S. troops under a contract that has generated $3.2 billion in revenue so far. LINK

Gives an all new meaning to the term "losers" doesn't it.

Update: WallyCox Lives (see comments) makes a good point:
"Just because it is on an inventory sheet doesn't mean it was actually purchased or there. Next step is to get them to prove they ever actually had it, because I'll bet you we got charged for it, as well as the cost of moving it over there."

Good point, especially since Hal-Burton and Co. are all part of the crew that spends a lot of time claiming to have things that aren't really there in the first place (WMDs, tangible evidence, competence, integrity, a hotline to God, etc...).
Should be no surprise if it turns out that the office furniture they claim to also possess does not actually exist. They're still "losers" though, no matter how ya look at it.


What Edwards Ought to Say Tonight 

The rafters are ringing with applause, whistles, shrieks of joy. The band is playing a jazzed-up version of James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind." The candidate releases his wife from the post-introductory hug and steps to the podium.

He waves, then makes the sit-down gesture to the throng. As the tumult begins to quiet he reaches conspicuously into his pocket for a sheaf of notes. Into the relative quiet he begins to read....
"I thank you more than words can say for the support that has led to my being here tonight.

It is therefore with a heavy heart that I must tell you I cannot accept your nomination for the Vice Presidency of the United States. Recent health problems have arisen which..."
Into the absolute dead silence which has filled the hall his next words ring out clearly:
"How the heck did Dick Cheney's notes get mixed in here??"
Okay, there would be some logistical problems as paramedics would have to be summoned for many delegates, and hotel laundry services would be overloaded with the number of people who soiled their own or other peoples' garments with involuntary spitting of beverages, but I really think it could work.

Consider this your Dick "Dick" Cheney Two-Minute Love for today.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

No TV.

How did it go?

23,000,000 visitors and a dime will buy you a cup of coffee 

And what story is the SCLM botching now? Atrios, of course

The Man in the Grey Turtleneck—now I can say it—Duncan Black is #8 on Technorati (measured by links) and #5 on the TTLB ecosystem (ditto), has had over 23,000,000 visitors since 2002, is first in our hearts, and does he get any fawning media coverage? Any media coverage? N-o-o-o-o!

Let's look:

The LA Times? N-o-o-o-o-o! Even though they mention Technorati and TTLB!

Pravda on the Potomac? N-o-o-o-o-o!

US A Today? N-o-o-o-o-o!

But surely Atrios's local paper—Philadelphia, home of The Mighty Eschaton Building—will cover the story? You think? N-o-o-o-o-o!

You know, Atrios is the only blogger ever to have helped bring down a major politician: Republican Senator and Strom Thormond adulator Trent Lott, when Krugman plugged the Eschaton blog in the Times.

Yet the media don't mention Atrios at all.

I wonder why?

Summing up the 911 report: One word—AWOL 

Robert Scheer opines:

Without dissent, five prominent Republicans joined an equal number of their Democratic Party peers in stating unequivocally that the Bush administration got it wrong.

As early as May 2001, the FBI was receiving tips that Bin Laden supporters were planning attacks in the U.S., possibly including the hijacking of planes. On May 29, White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke wrote national security advisor Condoleezza Rice that "when these attacks [on Israeli or U.S. facilities] occur, as they likely will, we will wonder what more we could have done to stop them." At the end of June, the commission wrote, "the intelligence reporting consistently described the upcoming attacks as occurring on a calamitous level." In early July, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft was told "that preparations for multiple attacks [by Al Qaeda] were in late stages or already complete and that little additional warning could be expected." By [late July], "the system was blinking red" and could not "get any worse," then-CIA Director George Tenet told the 9/11 commission.

It was at this point, of course, that George W. Bush began the longest presidential vacation in 32 years. On the very first day of his visit to his Texas ranch, Aug. 6, Bush received the now-infamous two-page intelligence alert titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the United States". Yet instead of returning to the capital to mobilize an energetic defensive posture, he spent an additional 27 days away as the government languished in summer mode, in deep denial.

"In sum," said the 9/11 commission report, "the domestic agencies never mobilized in response to the threat. They did not have the direction, and did not have a plan to institute. The borders were not hardened. Transportation systems were not fortified. Electronic surveillance was not targeted against a domestic threat. State and local law enforcement were not marshaled to augment the FBI's efforts. The public was not warned."

In her public testimony to the commission, Rice argued that the Aug. 6 briefing concerned vague "historical information based on old reporting," adding that "there was no new threat information." When the commission forced the White House to release the document, however, this was exposed as a lie: The document included explicit FBI warnings of "suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." Furthermore, this briefing was only one of 40 [briefings] on the threat of Bin Laden that the president received between Jan. 20 and Sept. 11, 2001.

And to top it all off:

Bush, the commission report also makes clear, compounded U.S. vulnerability by totally misleading Americans about the need to invade Iraq as a part of the "war on terror."
(via the Puliter-heavy Los Angeles Times)

Wow! I now I feel really safe!

Krugman on electronic voting machines and fraud 

Every word a polished gem:

It's election night, and early returns suggest trouble for the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the challenger's campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at computers with access to the vote-tabulating software.

When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records.

This isn't a paranoid fantasy. It's a true account of a recent election in Riverside County, Calif., reported by Andrew Gumbel of the British newspaper The Independent.

[In] Florida, which may well decide the presidential race ... last month state officials rejected a request to allow independent audits of the machines' integrity.

Let's not be coy. Jeb Bush says he won't allow an independent examination of voting machines because he has "every confidence" in his handpicked election officials. Yet those officials have a history of slipshod performance on other matters related to voting and somehow their errors always end up favoring Republicans. Why should anyone trust their verdict on the integrity of voting machines, when another convenient mistake could deliver a Republican victory in a high-stakes national election?

(via slow-footed, slow-witted, only reason to read 'em is Krugman* New York Times)

I just hate it when Krugman is coy. Don't you?

* OK, Matt Bai too, back)

Meanwhile, Inerrant Boy falls off his bike again 

Though the AP packages it very, very gently:

Bush charged up punishing climbs and down steep dirt paths on his high-performance bike Monday, at one point sailing over the handlebars and landing flat on his back.

[H]e rides with abandon. He takes on dangerous sections that would give veterans pause.
(via the San FranciscoChronicle)

Sounds like compulsive risk-taking behavior, to me.

Bush has suffered a few spills. On May 22, he lost traction on a dirt road, scraping his chin, upper lip, nose, right hand and both knees.

But does the story mention that Bush's spokesman claimed the fall was because of recent rains, when it hadn't rained in two weeks? N-o-o-o-o (back)

And now the good part:

Monday's ride brings his entourage past the new office that contractors are close to finishing, a 2,500-square-foot structure with a stone facade and lots of windows where he says he will probably practice his convention speech next month. He slips at first, saying he will practice his inauguration speech there.

A slip, eh? Sounds like trademark arrogance, to me.

A question the SCLM won't ask: "Is the President taking any painkillers for his injuries?"

Skippy The Bush Kangaroo gets a little more famous too 

Bloggers are talking about Atrios's disquise coming off, but, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo got em talkin' at CNN. Check out this exchange below. Daryn Kagan speaking with someone named Regina Lewis (whoever that is), an "AOL Online Adviser" (whatever that means).

KAGAN: And here's a blogging angle for you, Regina, you might know about. The bloggers are actually watching this show, and they watched your segment yesterday.

LEWIS: Oh, absolutely.

KAGAN: I received an e-mail from a blogger named "skippy the Bush kangaroo." Not really sure where that comes from. But he or she, whatever Skippy is, took offense at our discussion of perhaps that bloggers are not putting complete truth out there, and he said, "Aren't mistakes sometimes made in journalism as well?" Skippy, point taken. And we appreciate you watching.

LEWIS: Yes, and I think what you're seeing is -- yes, I'm glad to hear that. The lines are blurring, too. You know, there's the opinion pieces, and a lot of the bloggers are also linking to resources like the Associated Press and talking about what they see on CNN. So it's kind of the merging of the best of both worlds, if you're mindful of what you're reading and where it's coming from.

"Skippy.... took offense at our discussion of perhaps that bloggers are not putting complete truth out there" (?) Ok, apparently the ironic details contained within Skippy's actual email escaped Kagan. What Skippy reminded her of, which she obviously forgot to mention (oh sure), was her own less than stellar performance when it comes to "putting the truth out there." For a full explanation of what Kagan forgot to mention read Skippy's reminder here

And, to advance the cause of irony even further, Kagan and Lewis eventually got around to plugging Matt Drudge's little rumor mill. Great waterwheel of "complete truth" and accuracy in reporting that he is.
LEWIS: Yes, it's the "Earth to Kerry" shot that appeared on Drudge yesterday,...

Well, so much for being, "mindful of what you're reading and where it's coming from."

Moving along. Some of the Kagan / Lewis conversation about bloggers consisted, for the most part, of often incomphrehensible jabber like this:

KAGAN: We talked about the television ratings, which on the broadcast networks were not fantastic. Is there a way how of monitoring how the bloggers, how many people are making hits on there?

LEWIS: There is. The online numbers were pretty consistent. You see big polling numbers, a lot of interest in specific issues. Also, you know, the rumor mill. That's what people are really after. So these circulated things mean yesterday, a blogger account, we talked about they want to get into the parties, well, here's why maybe they wanted to keep them out. Someone went up to Hillary Clinton's handler and asked her a question that you and I have asked a lot of people, "Who are you wearing?" Apparently, they were told, look, you're wearing a black shirt, she's wearing a white blazer, get over it.

Also, you know, Terry McAuliffe was spotted. I guess young girls tend to flock to him when he walks in places. Note to everybody here: Cell phone cameras, they are everywhere. So that's the kind of stuff that seems to be getting a lot of traffic. It's more the gossip than the substance, for better or worse.

Huh?, Yeah, well, you can try to figure that one out if you like. It certainly does a fine job of answering the question. Is there a way how of monitoring how the bloggers, how many people are making hits on there? Jeezis.

The next question should be: is there a way how of monitoring how... many viewers are throwing furniture at their friggin' tv sets every time CNN beams this kind of convoluted cacaphony into their living rooms?

Because, one way how or another, I might like to blog about that.

Maybe it all made more sense if you were listening to the exchange instead of reading the transcript as I did. I dunno.

In any case, a little free advertising never hurts and it was nice to see Skippy the Bush Kangaroo get a mention from the SCLM, who have, until now, largely gone out of their way to pretend that the bloggers - aside from Andrew Sullivan - don't exist.

CNN transcript of the exchange.

UPDATE: RESOURCE LINKS. Thanks to Skippy for leaving the links and descriptive summaries below in the comments thread.::

1st Post about the subject, with our email to ms. kagan en toto...

2nd Post delighting in the mention we got on cnn...

3rd Post with links to the actual transcript which not only completely misquoted us, but also proved our point about pots, kettles, and the color black vis a vis fact-checking in various media.


Stupid White Mental Patients 

Because "Nach Hitler, Uns" was such a brilliant strategy the first time around:

One useful way of estimating how little separates the Democratic and Republican parties, and particularly their presidential nominees, is to tot up the issues on which there is tacit agreement either as a matter of principle or with an expedient nod-and-wink that these are not matters suitable to be discussed in any public forum, beyond pro forma sloganeering: the role of the Federal Reserve, trade policy, economic redistribution, the role and budget of the CIA and other intelligence agencies (almost all military), nuclear disarmament, allocation of military procurement, reduction of the military budget [how many more synonyms for 'military spending' can you pad this list with, kids? --TK], the roles and policies of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and kindred multilateral agencies, crime, punishment and the prison explosion, the war on drugs [ditto...], corporate welfare, energy policy, forest policy, the destruction of small farmers and ranchers, Israel, the corruption of the political system.

(Alexander Cockburn, "Why the Democrats Deserve Nader")

Oh, but why stop there? They also have similar or the same retrograde positions on the liquidation of the ruling class, anarcho-syndicalist worker councils, left-wing deviationism and the Kronstadt rebellion. St. Ralph, meanwhile, has politcally correct answers for all of these issues, which he'll be happy to tell you about when he isn't accepting money from the same forces denounced in the paragraph above.

Girly Man vs. Girly Boy ~ USA Today Smackdown Bout! 

Via the USA Today, a Gannett production (the WalMart of small town newspapers.)

Posted 7/26/2004 11:38 PM | Updated 7/27/2004 12:05 AM

Coulter column canceled after editing dispute
By Mark Memmott, USA TODAY

BOSTON — USA TODAY's plan to have conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter write a daily opinion column from the Democratic convention was scrapped Monday after a dispute involving the first piece she submitted. Coulter was replaced by Jonah Goldberg, another conservative columnist and frequent CNN commentator.


Brian Gallagher, editor of USA TODAY's editorial page, said of Coulter: "We had a disagreement over editing. We worked diligently to resolve the differences and couldn't, so we decided to part ways." He said the column had "basic weaknesses in clarity and readability that we found unacceptable." LINK

"basic weaknesses in clarity and readability..." Hahahaha! No SHIT Brian! Golly dood, when did ya figger than one out! Jesus Christ, great revelations in journalism ay?

Some folks sure is late risers.


Black's Army of the Eschaton 


Pictured: Tom Tomorrow (aka: Dan Perkins), who - judging from the crazed look in his eyes is apparently receiving mild electrical charges from that wire thing in his pocket - standing with Atrios (aka: Duncan Black) and a couple of other people I can't identify.
See entire photo for full details. Link provided above.

If it weren't for Atrios (aka: Duncan Black) this weblog wouldn't exist - period. End of story. Small peeper in the blog pond it may be. Lambert, Leah, Tresy and the farmer would have never have been heaped together in a common cause to be later joined by Tom and Xan. And thats the stark god damned orphan train truth.

Neither apparently would drinkie winkies exist - (Jeebus!), whatever those are, and I'm not sure I want to know what they are unless they involve a Radcliffe College social club and screwing in a cornfield. (where you can lose more than your coat.)

In any case, heres to you Duncan Black (aka: Atrios), accidental father of Corrente. Yours in revolution. The summer spawn of 2003 and all future bastard children of the Eschaton thank you.

Photo linked above is from last evenings Dem National Convention which featured a fiddler named Jason______, Ugg, I forgot, playing the crowd out to what I recall was a short take of John Hartford's Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farwell." - (?) - Which, if you ask me, should be played in it's full glory at the conclusion of ceremonies. Ya know, at sunset, a finale, in a cornfield beside a lake, with enough drinkie winkies to float a great hippy battleshippy and ultimately drown an entire flotilla of kinky Right Wingee Kool Aid dingies.

If ya know what I mean. And I think you do.

Corrections to above: Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farwell" - thanks to N. from Seattle for the slap in the head on that one. Also, the tune played apparently was NOT the Ashokan Farwell but rather Amazing Grace, which I usually associate with, uh, funerals. So, for the most part, please just forget this post ever happened.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Is this Atrios? 

I think I've found Atrios. Go here (scroll down to the bio of Duncan B. Black).

Of course this could just be another pseudonym but this "Duncan B. Black" has worked at Bryn Mawr which is in the Philly area.

Furthermore, Atrios has always said he has lived in Europe and California -- and those are two other places that are listed as places where this "Duncan B. Black" has taught economics.

It's interesting. I have a colleague who taught at Louvain too.

I think I've got it folks.

Goodnight, moon 

Apparently the "Goodnight, Moon" meme is spreading... And may all our memes do likewise!

In some ways, Kerry damping down the snark is a good thing. Forces us to say what we're for. I don't think that's a bad thing.

Then again, we do what we're good at...

And now the wingnuts are refusing to use Heinz ketchup. Happened in Newark.

So a bunch of working stiffs have to wait in line at the hot dog cart so some Jeebofascist blowhard can hammer his Big Important Point home to the guy sweating behind the grill... What a farce

Great Tongues of Fire! 

Backlash Report | dateline Boston, 07-26-2004.

The big news today, rocking the very foundations of the Republic and which will no doubt become the primary topic of discussion for the klaxon horns of cable TV news noise, concerns Theresa H. Kerry's verbal swipe at one of Richard Mellon Scaife's congregate gnats. You know what I'm talking about so any further detailed explanation is only redundant.

The expression "shove it", as many of you know, being a variant strain of the more traditional family friendly "conservative values" treatment of a similar command, "go fuck yourself", made it's firey debut in Boston on this summer day in history, Monday, July 26, 2004. News of the shocking and ferocious display of visceral spleen venting rage burned across the land like a windswept prairie fire. Children were rushed to safer ground as innocence itself withered in the hot whirlwind! "Shove it?" asked Millie McGill, a twenty four year old sexual abstinence advocate and GOP team leader from Cincinnati. "Shove what? Shove it where? Oh my, what can it mean," she begged, before raising the back of her pale delicate wrist to her fevered vestal brow and fainting politely upon the steps of the courthouse in a dramatic yet poised manner befitting her station.

From coast to coast concerned news organizations and Republican Party emergency management salvage teams were rushed to the scene of the conflagration to help squelch the hot flames of "hate speech" and provide what comfort they could to a shocked and confused citizenry clamouring for leadership in the public square. MSNBC's Fox News branch office manager Joe Scarborough told viewers that this "verbal scorching" marked some kind of sinister new trend in sordid discourse which won't play well with God fearin' beer drinking NASCAR crash enthusiasts and genteel pickup-truck driving assault weapons owners in America's heartland.

"Scarborough country is in mourning for our nation," he declared. "These kinds of terroristic verbal assaults leaping from the blast furnace of freedom hating liberalism embodied in the Democratic Party are cremating our Christian heritage, incinerating the sanctity and institutions of capitalism, marriage, and property rights... burning down the very fortifications of western civilization itself!"


Elsewhere, soft spoken Right Wing radio talk show behemoth Rush Limbaugh was rushed to a local hospital following an apparent "substance" overdose. Sources close to the investigation indicated that the normally sedate celebrity was so distressed by reports of the heated exchange in Beantown that he suspended his usual programing, drove to a nearby park, and proceeded to quell his inner pain by consuming an entire Ricotta cheesecake, six deep lard-fried ham fritters, one supersized Banana's Vince Foster and a potentially fatal hot shot of Wildnil (TM). A team of veterinarians from SeaWorld, a character lawyer, and a traditional family values public relations detoxification unit were quickly deployed to the location and are currently monitoring Mr. Limbaugh's critical bodily functions.

A spokesperson for Mr. Limbaugh, when asked by reporters to comment on the possibility that the conservative host might be backsliding into the jaws of ravenous gluttony and the hollow folds of narcotic dependency, responded: "Rush is a real patriot and a gentleman, you are a left wing media character assasin socialist and a terrorist coddling traitor! You should move to Cuba or Madison Wisconsin. Take your liberal anti-Christian baby killing homosexual loving un-American agenda and and and... stick it up your wazoo!"

In other news...


Do you like to watch? 

I don't have a TV, so I can't. How's the convention going?

Sweetness and Light 

As our party leaders (and delegates, and entirely undeserving bloggers such as Kos and Atrios and Billmon) gather in Boston, the word has gone forth that we are to avoid "Bush-bashing" and speak only of positive matters.

I hear and obey. I obey so thoroughly I implore all readers to seek inspiration in the words of Dear Leader his ownself, which I received in an email recently. Since the party who sent it to me also appears to have sent it to about 300 of his other closest friends, you've probably already seen these, but what the hey:

The first three years...
can the English language survive?

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
- George W. Bush

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
- George W. Bush

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."
- George W. Bush

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments
in the future."
- George W. Bush

"The future will be better tomorrow."
- George W. Bush

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the
- George W. Bush

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
- George W. Bush

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a
firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
- George W. Bush

"Public speaking is very easy."
- George W. Bush

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the
- George W. Bush

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."
- George W. Bush

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."
- George W. Bush

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our
- George W. Bush

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the
impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
- George W. Bush

"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."
- George W. Bush
Feel free to print out this list and clip each Deep Thought message separately. Paste them on your bathroom mirror, edge of computer monitor, or the heinie of someone at work you dislike, that you may receive their inspirational benefits constantly.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

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