Saturday, November 20, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

And just think! The Republicans haven't even started to privatize Social Security, fuck the Blue States by eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, or fuck working people everywhere by eliminating the tax break for employer-supplied health insurance! Not to mention invading Iran.

Look! Over there! A tit!

UPDATE I wrote those words... And a picture came into my mind... Poster-sized... A humongous tit, about the size of Mount Rushmore, menacing a tiny male human we know must be a Christian, perhaps even a Pastor, from his pious expression, his only-just-visible repressed hysteria, and the large SUV parked in the background.... With one hand, the tiny Christian is warding off the giant tit by holding up a cross.. With the other, he covers the eyes of two overly winsome little children -- they look kinda like Dick and Jane.... Well, one more Saturday Night, eh?

Wingers caught giving DéLay power to read your tax return 

Unbelievable? All too believable!

Congress debated legislation Saturday giving two committee chairman and their assistants [Why, that would be Tom "Don't call me French!" DéLay, right?] access to income tax returns [Whose returns? Democrats? Perhaps Ronnie Earle's?] without regard to privacy protections, but not before red-faced Republicans said it was all a mistake and would be swiftly repealed.

Right. "Swiftly repealed." Feel free to hold your breath, people...

"This is a serious situation," said Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. He said he was unaware of the provision, inserted into a 3,300-page spending bill covering most federal agencies and programs.

Questioned sharply by fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, Stevens pleaded with the Senate to approve the overall spending bill.

So we're going to pass the bill, and then undo the bad parts later? Nice! God knows what else is in there.

Stevens promised a resolution repealing that provision relating to tax returns. He said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., had agreed to have the resolution passed when the House returns Dec. 6.

In the meantime, he said, President Bush intends to issue a statement declaring that the section of law will be disregarded.

Right. Smooth move. So now it's up to Bush's whim whether the law is regarded or disregarded? That's a great precedent. Remember all that "rule of law" bloviation during the coup against Clinton? WPS, pure and simple. The Democrats nail this one.

But Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said that wasn't good enough. "It becomes the law of the land on the signature of the president of the United States. That's wrong."

Stevens, who repeatedly apologized for the error, took offense at Conrad's statement. In a reference to House Republican leaders, he said it was included in the bill after "a representation was made by one staffer [Um, which staffer, I wonder?] that the front office [that is DéLay] in the other body [that is, the House] wanted it."

Pounding on his desk, Stevens said he had given his word and so had Young that neither would use the authority. "I would hope that the Senate would take my word. I don't think I have ever broken my word to any member of the Senate."

"... Do I have to get down on my knees and beg," he said.

Yep. And do worse than beg, eh? It's DéLay we're talking about, and these people will do anything to hold onto power.

"We weren't born yesterday, we didn't come down with the first snow," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "This isn't poorly thought out, this was very deliberately thought out and it was done in the dead of night."
(via AP)

It's good to see that some Senate Republicans don't have the stomach for Bush's tactics, but at the end of the day, what will they do for us? Nothing.

Meanwhile, the Dems have to do this every day, every bill, all the time. The Republicans don't rest, and neither can the Democrats.

Whither corrente? 

Topic: "Connecting the dots." Discuss.

Talk amongst yourselves.

From the Department of Amplification:

We of Corrente are trying to figure out a way to connect ideas, people, help make a movement, build bridges, and what kind of liberal isn't always looking for a coalition, and that "we" means you guys who come here and read, and leave comments. We 're looking for ways to include all the intelligence and smarts and experience that we see on our comment threads, and in other blogs, too.—Leah A.

Whither Rational Discourse? 

I’ve been holding back on this post, because I’m not sure it should be me making the case. As you will see, I have no answers. But it’s been a topic in comments, and we were talking over coffee this morning and it came up again when the waitress wrote “Jesus Loves You!! (smiley face) on our check. So…

See, the thing is, there are religions that aggressively proselytize and those that don’t. Evangelical Christianity is one that does; so does much of fundie Islam; history is rife with “convert or die” stories that we conveniently forget or throw into the dustbin of history. I could go on, but corrente readers already know this. The view that these religions put out is an absolute “us or them” message. Come around, join us, or die now, or die later and rot in hell, it’s all the same to them. Other sects, while not as aggressive, use the same tactics.

You all know this; you’ve all been approached by these folks with their “message.” Not so much Islam here in America, of course. But you’ve all been accosted by others. You can be sure that this is happening all over the world, as each fundie group tries to win the most converts. It’s a growth industry game, with the end being dominance of the belief market.

Other religions don’t proselytize but do say that “you ain’t one of us,” thus effectively cutting off dialog. Like the old bumper sticker: God said it; I believe it; that settles it.

Well, yeah. That settles it. Rational dialog has just been cut off a-borning.

And that’s the problem. Tolerance of this is tolerance of irrational thought. Tolerance of this is tolerance of intolerance. Tolerance of this approach—this world view—is tolerance of an absolute irrational end game.

Here in my neck of the woods, evangelical Christianity is making a shambles of Native culture—families are torn in two when someone converts, communities are divided. I’ll leave that discussion to someone on the inside. The same happens in all families and communities.

So, what’s to be done?

That’s where this story breaks down. We are stuck in this “us or them” cycle that is directly tied to these opposing world views, one that sees progress toward a sustainable and just future as the work of rational discussion and action, and one that sees progress as aiming toward a religious goal that will usher in a one god utopia.

There are, of course, those trapped in between. A painful place to be. Where we have neighbors and family who are not rational and we look at them like “are you nuts?” and they look at us like “do you want to go to hell?”

One story? The governor of New Mexico—seemingly a rational person—came out and renamed a highway there from the 666 to the 491, in order to “exorcise” it. Since then, 20 people have died on that highway because it’s a two lane, non-express piece of shit that carries major traffic through the largest Native nation in America. Please tell me how that’s rational?

What’s to be done? Are we to stare at each other in sad disbelief until one side or the other is victorious? Or are we a nation built on Enlightenment ideals? Readers? Help me out. I’ve been alive for awhile and am still at a loss. Bear in mind that armed revolution hasn't historically worked too well and I don't endorse it. FTF is a good slogan, but what's to be done?

Oh, and I wrote “Oh, yeah? Well, why doesn’t Jesus ever call, then?” on the check before I paid it. Childish, I know.

And if I don’t respond in comments it’s because the power went out again. Maybe if I pray hard enough it’ll come back on.

Why 2004 stings a lot worse than 2000 

What Ezra said:

All the progressives [proud Democrats ;-)] I know found our newfound unity and clean loss far-and-away the most intolerable aspect of the election. That we could unite behind a single candidate, marginalize Nader, win the debates, run an unheard-of field operation and still lose to bigotry and fear left a much sourer taste in our mouths than 2000, where we lost unjustly but could comfort ourselves with the knowledge that more Americans agreed with the Democrat than the Republican.
(via Pandagon)

After 11/2, everything changed...

Still, in "What have we got that's good" mode, these are no mean accomplishments. Now, if Kerry will continue to lead, Dean gets to be head of the DNC, and we at the grass-roots continue the delicate operation of transplanting a spine into the Beltway Dems... All may not be lost.

NOTE On another note, Xan points out that I've been punk'd by the Hoosier Gazette! On the other hand, isn't it great to have a new parody source? And from the heart of Republican darkness in Indiana, too. Ah well, we know where roses grow best, don't we...

Two Takes on "Whither Religion" 

RDF has clearly been reading my mind, because his Rational Discourse piece asks the same question, basically, as these two items.

These are edited to the point of butchery to get to what seems the core message of each. Note that the first is from a European and the second from a Canadian:

(via LATimes op-ed) Jonathan Sachs is the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Website: www.chiefrabbi.org.
Religion persists at the center of world concerns.

All this is hard for a European, particularly a North European, to understand. The reason is that we are heirs to a highly singular history whose origins lie in more than a century of religious and political warfare between Catholics and Protestants that began with the Reformation in 1517 and the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. [snip, chop, whack]

If, in Europe, modernity meant a retreat from religious passion, the American paradox is that such passion coexists with secular politics. But in other parts of the world there has been a third trajectory, in which religion has emerged as a mass protest against failed secular nationalisms of the kind that Gamal Abdel Nasser introduced into Egypt and Saddam Hussein into Iraq. Here religion functions as a critique of modernity: mass poverty, widespread unemployment, political corruption and human rights abuse.

In such environments, religion alone seems to speak the language of human dignity and hope, and until we understand this, we will utterly fail to comprehend the strength of reaction against regimes that sought to imitate the West.

Religion didn't die. It persists as humanity's oldest, noblest attempt to endow human life with meaning. Secularization turned out to be the exception, not the rule.
There's more, but I cut off here just to make the slightly cynical point that the good rabbi's statement here is just a tad self-serving. If he comes to a different conclusion he has to throw over his job and get work digging ditches or something.

Then the Muslim take. Less history, more personal, and up on the NYT front page for a remarkably short time yesterday before vanishing to the point of taking a good deal of searching to find again:


IRSHAD MANJI Irshad Manji is the author of "The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith.''

As a young Canadian Muslim who has called for reform in Islam, I've been traveling throughout North America and Europe over the past year. Last week, I toured France and Spain. God help me.

...From Amsterdam to Barcelona to Paris to Berlin, people incredulously ask me one type of question that I'm never asked in the United States and Canada: Why does an independent-minded woman care about God? Why do you need religion at all?

[snip] To a lot of Europeans, still steeped in memories of the Catholic Church's intellectual repression, religion is an irrational force. So women who cover themselves are foolish at best and dangerous otherwise.

But there's something else going on. The mass immigration of Muslims is bringing faith back into the public realm and creating a post-Enlightenment modernity for Western Europe. This return of religion threatens secular humanism, the orthodoxy that has prevailed since the French Revolution.

[long snip] Which brings me back to the question of why I, an independent-minded woman, bother with Islam. Religion supplies a set of values, including discipline, that serve as a counterweight to the materialism of life in the West. I could have become a runaway materialist, a robotic mall rat who resorts to retail therapy in pursuit of fulfillment. I didn't. That's because religion introduces competing claims. It injects a tension that compels me to think and allows me to avoid fundamentalisms of my own.
So these are the only choices she can think of? How sad.

Note that the rabbi makes no mention of Yahweh and the Muslim says not a word about Allah. They both cast their arguments in terms of culture, really. Religion as an alternative to politics or an alternative to shopping.

Both, tragically from my point of view, use the phrase "post-Enlightenment" as if my deepest beliefs were somehow suddenly past their sell-by dates.

I Blame Dick Cheney Myself 

(via Copley News Service)

The Army is reportedly investigating allegations that members of a Springfield National Guard unit shipped contraband back to the United States from Iraq and attempted to sell some of the items on eBay, a popular online auction site.

[snip 90% of story]
Some members of the media were scrutinized in April and May 2003, when they returned with war souvenirs taken from unprotected sites in Iraq.
Hmm, somehow no mention of Dear Leader's "souvenir" of Sadaam's favorite pistol. Or Daring Donny Rumsfeld's "souvenir" crystal globe from the ruins of the World Trade Center. But a bunch of Illinois National Guardsmen are under investigation for trying to help the economy on eBay.

I sure don't understand why one is Just Peachy and the other is a potentially criminal offense. I must be afflicted with that "moral confusion" that comes with being a Democrat.

Cutting-Edge Truths 

This is from a quite long LA Times Magazine piece about the problems faced by the US Forest Service, not to mention the problems faced by forests that need protection from the said Forest Service. However, this quote seemed apropos for such a much wider range of topics:

(via LA Times)
"The hardest part," said one of the sequoia activists at the time, "is for us to tell other people what's happening and watch them disbelieve us instead of the Forest Service. We have to work on each new group, each new person, and they have to learn that lesson themselves."

"And," said another, "they think we're awful people for suggesting that their Forest Service wouldn't tell the truth."
Sound like any conversations you've had lately?

The Truth Will Make You Flee 

Being right has never been a guaranteed route to popularity, but They really seem out to get this guy. Three cheers to Ball State University for standing up to some Thug pressure to get this guy a speaking fee:

(via Muncie IN Star-Press)
MUNCIE - Three years after publication of his book Fast Food Nation, freelance journalist Eric Schlosser remains fearful that McDonald's is going to sue him any day.

And that's not all he's afraid of.

On Thursday afternoon, Schlosser was escorted by linebacker-sized Ball State University police Cpl. Alvin Tank, armed with a 9-mm semi-automatic handgun, into a classroom at Pittenger Student Center for a question-answer session with six students. An officer accompanied the author everywhere he went on campus.

"It's kind of embarrassing that I have to have security," Schlosser told The Star Press. "To me, it's a symptom of what's wrong with this country at the moment. My book has inspired some people to call me a socialist or communist or un-American. We had a Civil War in this country, and when you look at how other countries fly apart, it's because people start being called traitors, un-American, and demonizing one another. That's very, very dangerous."
Read the rest, it's not real long. Look at some of the stunts pulled to keep him from speaking. This is not some random Rand-reading college students getting their uber-individualized kicks, there's some money behind this.

Get One Today 

(via antimagnet.com)

Best Iran Analysis So Far 

(via an Atrios' comment thread)
Anybody remember that Beavis N Butthead episode where Butthead chokes on a chicken nugget? Then Beavis inadvertantly makes Butthead spit out the offending morsel, THEN picks it up, sticks it in his mouth and promptly starts choking . . . immediately repeating history?

The current neo-con blather about Iran reminds me of that.

All this talk about Iran.

De Lay O' De Land 

Sorry for the length here but the Austin paper is registration and this is just all too good to have anyone miss. Make note of the whores, corporate, elective and otherwise, that their names may be besmirched and their products languish unsold.

(via Austin Statesman-American)
WASHINGTON -- House Republican leader Tom DeLay has re-energized his legal defense fund, raising at least $310,300 since summer to combat a Democrat's ethics charges and to monitor a Travis County grand jury investigation that led to indictments against three DeLay aides in September.

Two Austin-area Republican House members got the ball rolling, with U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio writing the fund's first check of the year June 24, followed by Rep. John Carter of Round Rock. Until then, the legal fund had collected no money since last year.

Smith and Carter each donated $5,000, the annual limit, from their campaign funds. They were joined by 29 additional Republicans in Congress, including six others from Texas, providing almost half of DeLay's haul. The rest of the donations came from political action committees, corporations and individuals.

Carter said he was motivated by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's investigation into allegations of campaign finance irregularities in the 2002 Texas elections. Grand jury indictments sought by Earle, a Democrat, allege that corporate money was illegally used to help elect a Republican majority to the Texas House.

"I think we're involved in a political witch hunt here, and I also think Mr. DeLay is innocent," Carter said.

Carter said nobody solicited his contribution.

"I volunteered to give the money," he said. "I think we should show that we are grateful for all the hard work (DeLay) does for the state of Texas."

According to documents that must be filed quarterly with the House ethics committee, DeLay's legal defense fund accepted $185,300 in contributions in July, August and September.

However, the filing does not include $125,000 in checks written or received after the Sept. 30 filing deadline, said Brent Perry, a Houston lawyer and trustee for DeLay's legal fund. Those checks, disclosed in separate filings with the Federal Election Commission, will appear in the fourth-quarter report, Perry said.

In the meantime, the legal fund continues to receive donations, he said.

Legal expense funds are regulated by the House ethics committee, which limits spending to a broad range of issues, including legal expenses connected to a campaign, criminal prosecution of a lawmaker or civil matters "bearing on an individual's reputation or fitness for office." Legal funds also may pay fund-raising costs, if the money is for the legal fund.

The ethics committee requires legal funds to file quarterly reports detailing donations and expenses above $250, though any contribution from a corporation or labor union must be listed. Copies of the reports are available in a basement room of a House office building, difficult to get for most Americans.

"In a world where many things are posted on the Internet . . . these are basically held out of the way and require you to come down to Washington to look them up, so there is really not good disclosure," said Larry Noble, executive director of Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

Disclosure is important because contributions provide another avenue for access to leaders in Congress, Noble said.

"The legal expense funds are strange animals to begin with since they're not part of campaign finance laws, yet they can be used to buy access as much as campaign contributions can be," he said. "They really are just another pocket to put money into and for contributors to fill."

According to DeLay's third-quarter report:

* Kentucky businesses and residents donated almost $113,000, thanks to a summer fund-raiser by Republican Rep. Hal Rogers. Rogers is one of three Republicans vying to become chairman of the high-profile Appropriations Committee, and DeLay holds three votes on the Republican Steering Committee, which will make that decision in the coming weeks.

* $60,000 was paid to Austin defense attorney Bill White, who has monitored the Travis County investigation on DeLay's behalf. The fund also paid $50,000 to Dallas law firm Bracewell & Patterson, whose lawyer Ed Bethune represented DeLay before the House ethics committee.

* Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, donated $5,000 from his campaign fund and $5,000 from his political action committee. Other Texans giving $5,000 were Reps. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, John Culberson of Houston, Sam Johnson of Dallas, Jeb Hensarling of Dallas and Michael Burgess of Irving.

* About $100,000 was donated to DeLay's legal fund after the Sept. 21 indictments of his associates, which was followed by two rebukes of DeLay from the House ethics committee. One rebuke resulted from DeLay's offer to exchange political help for a yes vote on the House floor; the other faulted DeLay for misusing the Federal Aviation Administration and for accepting a contribution that appeared tied to legislative favors.

DeLay's legal fund was established in 2000 after Democrats filed a racketeering lawsuit, which they later dropped, alleging shady practices by DeLay-related fund-raising groups.

By the end of September, the legal fund had spent almost $973,000. Its biggest contributors have been Reliant Energy of Houston, $20,000, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., $17,000.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Our Father Who Art in DC, Hollow Be Thy Win 

Anybody want to hold their breath waiting for this group to be actually, like, punished for this?

(via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
BELLWOOD, Pa. -- A group advocating the separation of church and state has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a Blair County church that advertised transportation on election day in support of President Bush.

The Bride of Christ Church's 1.25-by-2-inch advertisement in The Altoona Mirror said "In support of President George W. Bush, we are offering transportation to the voting polls" and listed three phone numbers for voters to call for rides.

The Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State said the church violated IRS regulations for tax-exempt organizations by touting Bush.

Don McCaulley, pastor of the 50-member church, said he had no idea that plugging Bush was illegal and that the church made a mistake.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment on the group's complaint but said penalties can include a warning, a requirement to pay taxes on income related to the violation or revocation of tax-exempt status.
Of course ignorance of the law is an excuse! If you say otherwise, you hate Jesus.

Well, how about Route 666? 

Get a load of this:

John Hostettler, the Congressman representing the 8th district of Indiana, has been convinced by local religious groups to introduce legislation in the House that would change the name of an Interstate 69 extension to a more moral sounding number.
(via Hoosier Gazette)

"A more moral-sounding number" ... Oh, the depravity! Hey, how about 1217 (and counting). Is that a moral number?

Actually, the best part of the story is the headline: "Hostettler mounting [snicker] campaign to change the name of Interstate 69." Eesh. How does the campaign feel about that?

Anyhow, sayeth the Congressman: "Naming the road I-63 not only follows numbering guidelines, it doesn’t have the sexual undertones that I-69 has," says Hostettler, "It is a win-win situation."

I-63 no sexual undertones?! Not for long... Check it out, readers... Get creative... Start an entry.... But remember! Verisimilitude counts!

Goodnight, moon 

Quickly, while blogger is still accepting posts. Honestly, a billion dollar corporation that can't manage a server farm. Listening, Wall Street?

Kerry's back. Good. 

In fact, excellent!

Saving Reporter Sites 

"Embedded reporter" Kevin Sites was on MSNBC several times an hour it seemed, and on Brokaw every night, until he took some rather famous pictures in a mosque.

He hasn't been seen since, on TV at least. This caused me concern, so I went to see what I could find.

WNBC TV (New York) says the "network has him under wraps" without specifying exactly where. Sites was working under contract as a freelancer, not as an NBC employee. What that means as to their ability to protect him I don't know.

As to why a reporter, doing his job, following every rule of the US Military and at the scene at the said military's request, might need protection? Did he do something bad, or at least precipitous? Let's look at some background:

The Chicago Tribune reports:

NBC, aware of how potentially damaging the footage of a wounded and possibly unarmed Iraqi being shot by a U.S. Marine could be while troops were still in battle, decided on its own to hold off on airing them for two days.

The footage was recorded Saturday by NBC News freelancer Kevin Sites, who is embedded with Marines in Fallujah. Sites was a pool reporter.

Pool footage usually is distributed via satellite transmissions, which can be intercepted by just about anyone with a satellite dish. Because of the sensitive nature of Sites' footage, NBC decided to send it out to the pool on a slow but secure Internet-based system, meaning it didn't get out until about 3:30 p.m. Chicago time Monday.
Did this restraint, this investigation, this attempt to "put the piece in context," get the network any pats on the back? It did not. We have here two viewpoints on this, which we will call the Centrist and the Right-Wing. Let's look at the calm, balanced Centrist point first:
Slate columnists:
Owen West and Phillip Carter
Updated Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004, at 10:28 AM PT

A Marine shot an unarmed insurgent in a Fallujah mosque on Saturday. We know this because we saw it. The digital video footage of the shooting—recorded by NBC reporter Kevin Sites, who was embedded with the Marines—is running nearly continuously on cable news channels worldwide.

This case would not exist without Mr. Sites.
Bullshit number 1, dear Centrists. "The case" is the shooting of an unarmed, wounded prisoner. That would exist whether Mr. Sites photographed it or not. What you mean is "this embarrassment" only exists because there is tape of it. As my mother was wont to say in difficult moments, "You're not sorry you did it, you're sorry you got caught." But to continue:

That a young soldier deferred to instinct over the rulebook in combat is unsurprising. What was surprising was the near-instant transmission of a battlefield video around the world, allowing us to witness the actions of one American rifleman.
Bullshit number 2. See Tribune quote above. The networks did NOT put this on the satellite and did NOT air it "instantly" but after two days of dithering, mostly waiting for the battle to be largely over.

But now let's look at the Right-Wing View on the unfortunate matter. They, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders as tBogg calls them, have a low opinion of moral ambiguity. They want swift justice, swift punishment of the guilty.

Of course they don't mean the Marine should be punished! They meay Kevin Sites. According to Jesus' General, who has a vastly stronger stomach than I to read this stuff, here's what they think at Free Republic (get yer own link):

Turn Sites over to the terrorist.
No need for anything overt. Unfortunate things happen in combat zones, and if the reporter fails to hear someone yell "Sniper!!", well, c'est la guerre.
The US attorney general may be able to charge him with sedition.
I wish. This guy Sites shouldn't walk away from this unscathed. Red America wants justice.
If the government won't police the press there will come a day when the people will.
It better charge Sites, that treasonous bastard!
He's an effin traitor. He is aiding the enemy. He should be tried and killed.
He sure behaved like a Judas didn't he? He certainly is doing the leg work for our Islamofascist enemies
Kevin Sites is a traitor. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with this
The Constitution was written for the common man and for Christian's sense of Justice. Common law represents God's law. American Justice may seem rough and crude to you, but it is based on godly liberties. Sites is in a WAR ZONE. He has aided the enemy. If he cared about what was going he should have ran back to the brass...not to MSNBC. He's either looking for a pulitzer or he's effin traitor. Either way...he's done.
Love that "Red America" bit, don't you? "Red: It's Not Just For Commies Any More!" Can you imagine the hissy, spitty fit they'd throw if this was a term "we" had come up with to describe "them"?

Snark aside, it's actually the Slate piece that I find more depressing. It boils down to "Well, this was an awful thing, but These Things Happen in War." Hey guys, after you get done parsing how much really, really worse the Terrorists are, could you turn your fine-tuned Moral Analyzer on the folks who brought the Marine, the reporter and the wounded guys together in that mosque that day?

UPDATE Tinfoil hat time. Hmmm, Kevin Sites showed up on a freeper hate site. Say, didn't Nick Berg's dad show up on one of those too? You know, I'd hate to think that "our" government has some sort of death squad operating, that's taking its names from the freepers. And certainly our Ambassador to Iraq, Negroponte, would know nothing, Nothing! of such activities...Anyhow, if Sites shows up in a video in an orange jumpsuit, you read about it here at Corrente first. —Lambert

The Big Dog barks! 

And yet, as always, Clinton stays moderate:

"No other president ever had to endure someone like Ken Starr," Clinton said. "No one ever had to try to save people from ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and people in Haiti from a military dictator that was murdering them, and all the other problems I dealt with, while every day an entire apparatus was devoted to destroying him."

The former president said he would go to his grave at peace that, while he had personal failings, he never lied to the American people about his job as president.

Clinton added that he doesn't care about what his detractors think about him. Jennings then said it seemed to him that Clinton did care.

The former president responded, "You don't want to go here, Peter. You don't want to go here. Not after what you people did and the way you, your network, what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every, little sleazy thing he leaked. No one has any idea what that's like."

"You never had to live in a time when people you knew and cared about were being indicted, carted off to jail, bankrupted, ruined, because they were Democrats and because they would not lie," he said. "So, I think we showed a lot of moral fiber to stand up to that. To stand up to these constant investigations, to this constant bodyguard of lies, this avalanche that was thrown at all of us. And, yes, I failed once. And I sure paid for it. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the American people. And I'm sorry for the embarrassment they performed."

Starr's former chief deputy said Friday he understood the difficulty for Clinton, but added that the bipartisan staff did what they had to do and performed honorably in seeking the truth.
(via San Francisco Chronicle)

"Moderate"? Absolutely. It was a slow-moving media-fueled COUP funded and organized by winger billionaires. So come, Bill. Use the word! "Coup!" Say it!

Grand Canyon a Fraud! Details after Rapture... 

Okay, this has to be a joke, right? No such luck. Leon Jaroff, writing in Time:

…some four million people annually visit Grand Canyon National Park, marveling at the awesome view. In National Park Service (NPS) affiliated bookstores, they can find literature informing them that the great chasm runs for 277 miles along the bed of the Colorado River. It descends more than a mile into the earth, and along one stretch, is some 18 miles wide, its walls displaying impressive layers of limestone, sandstone, shale, schist and granite.

And, oh yes, it was formed about 4,500 years ago, a direct consequence of Noah’s Flood. How’s that? Yes, this is the ill-informed premise of “Grand Canyon, a Different View,” a handsomely-illustrated volume also on sale at the bookstores. It includes the writings of creationists and creation scientists and was compiled by Tom Vail, who with his wife operates Canyon Ministries, conducting creationist-view tours of the canyon. “For years,” Vail explains, “as a Colorado River guide, I told people how the Grand Canyon was formed over the evolutionary time span of millions of years. (Most geologists place the canyon’s age at some six million years). Then I met the Lord. Now I have a different view of the Canyon, which according to a biblical time scale, can’t possibly be more than a few thousand years old.”

...But when Grand Canyon National Park superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block the sale of Vail’s book at canyon bookstores, he was overruled by NPS headquarters, which announced that a high-level policy review of the matter would be launched and a decision made by February, 2004. So far, no official decision has been announced.

Faith-Based Parks?

My bet is the official decision will be that God told them it’s okay to sell it in National Park Service bookstores. Me, I want to go on the creationist-view tour so I can see the exact spot where Noah heaved his cookies when he forgot to take his Dramamine.

Stating the Obvious 

Which has, of course, long been a firing offense for radio commentators, as evidenced by the brief, ignominious careers of Messrs. Limbaugh, Savage and the like:
(via Atlanta/AP)
MILWAUKEE — A radio talk show host drew criticism Thursday after calling Condoleezza Rice an "Aunt Jemima" and saying she isn't competent to be secretary of state.

John Sylvester, the program director and morning personality on WTDY-AM in Madison, said in a phone interview Thursday that he used the term on Wednesday's show to describe Rice and other blacks as having only a subservient role in the Bush administration.

Rice has served as President Bush's national security adviser and was named this week to replace the departing Colin Powell as secretary of state.

Sylvester, who is white, also referred to Powell as an "Uncle Tom" — a contemptuous term for a black whose behavior toward whites is regarded as fawning or servile.

He said Thursday night that he was referring to remarks by singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte that the price of admittance for blacks to the Bush White House was subservience.

As for Rice, "they're using her for an illusion of inclusion," he said, adding that he feels her history as national security adviser showed a lack of competence.

He said he was planning a giveaway on Friday's show of Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup. "I will apologize to Aunt Jemima," he said.
As well he should.

Bush torture policies: Bringing the war back home 

Since Bush—with silence, a wink, and a smirk—decreed that torture is now national policy (shamefully abetted (back) by the gutless, feckless Beltway Dems), it was only a matter of time before people a lot lower in the executive branch got the same idea:

A federal prosecutor in Alexandria made a comment last year suggesting that a Falls Church man held in a Saudi Arabian prison had been tortured, according to a sworn affidavit from a defense lawyer that was recently filed in federal court in Washington.

The alleged remark by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg occurred during a conversation with the lawyer, Salim Ali, in the federal courthouse in Alexandria, according to Ali's affidavit. The document was filed Oct. 12 in connection with a petition by the parents of the detained man, Ahmed Abu Ali, who are seeking his release from Saudi custody.

Ahmed Abu Ali, a student from Falls Church, has been held without charge by Saudis since June 2003.

The lawyer stated in the affidavit that he asked Kromberg about bringing Abu Ali back to the United States to face charges so as "to avoid the torture that goes on in Saudi Arabia."

[Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D.] Kromberg "smirked and stated that 'He's no good for us here, he has no fingernails left,' " Salim Ali wrote in his affidavit, adding: "I did not know how to respond [to] the appalling statement he made, and we subsequently ceased our discussion about Ahmed Abu Ali."
(via WaPo)

Nice, eh?

Oh, and Kromberg did his little bit to help out with the winger coup against Clinton as an Associate Independent Counsel on the Morgan Guananty Trust fiasco. So we already know he has a strong stomach; now strong enough to smirk at acts of torture and make jokes about them.

Of course, it can't happen here. Right? You could ask him, of course, like any citizen:

Gordon D Kromberg
Firm: US Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
Address: 2100 Jamieson Ave, Alexandria, VA 22314-5794
Phone: (703) 299-3700
Fax: (703) 299-2584

I can't find an email address for Kromberg, or his office. Readers?

"Reform Democrats" is good 

"Fighting Democrats" is better. Readers?

iWaq: A roundup of all the good news, and there sure is a lot of it! 

At last, we're taking out the mosques!

Iraqi and U.S. troops raided a major Sunni mosque in the capital after Friday prayers, killing or seizing several people, according to local witnesses. Two people were killed and 14 wounded, hospital sources said after national guards backed by U.S. troops tried to storm the Hanifa mosque. Witnesses said worshippers threw shoes at the troops -- a grave insult in Islam -- and soldiers opened fire.
(via Reuters)

Hospitals too! All I want to know is, What took us so long?

The raid on the Zaharawi hospital in Mosul -- Iraq's third-largest city -- was conducted by Iraqi commandos with the Ministry of the Interior's Special Police Force, backed by U.S. troops.
(via WaPo)

And we found an Al Qaeda headquarters? How do we know? They put a big sign on it!

The U.S. troops came across a large house with a sign in Arabic that said "Al-Qaeda Organization," according to footage from a CNN crew embedded with the U.S. Army.
(via Ibid.)

Not for the cameras, right? Of course not!

And best of all, we're forcing the insurgents to make new friends, and the more new friends they make, they more likely they are to make mistakes!

Sattler, the Marine commander, said the Fallujah offensive had "broken the back of the insurgency" in Iraq, disrupting rebel operations across the country.

"Each and every time we can force these individuals to go to new locations, expand their circle of friends -- if you want to call it that -- to include some that they don't know and they don't trust, they'll bring in rookies, more-junior people that will, in fact, make mistakes," he said. "This is going to make it very hard for them to operate."

More insurgents? That's just more proof that we're winning!

Kill 'em all! That's what great powers do! Let's create our own reality! Freedom's on the march, even if it's untidy! If you're not with us, you're against us! And you know who's against us? Satan! Are you for Satan! You are? Pussy! Und zo weiter ...

UPDATE And there's more good news! The money spigot has finally been turned on!

Of the $18.4 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds allocated by Congress last year, only $1.7 billion has been spent, Hess said, an increase of about $400 million from six weeks ago. He said 873 construction projects have been started, up from 703 six weeks ago. The goal is to have 1,000 started by year's end.

See? We've spent $400 million in six weeks, and we haven't even started rebuilding Fallujah and Mosul! Tell that to your panty-waisted Chablis-swilling so-called liberal friends. Pussies.

UPDATE Plus, we're giving them jobs!

insurgent leaders in the area offer cash bounties for killing certain kinds of people: $1,000 for a Shiite, $2,000 for a member of the Iraqi National Guard and $3,000 for an American.
(USA Today)

$3,000?! To your typical rag-head, that's a fortune!

UPDATE Rereading this post, I see that I have become a little, um, unhinged. Look, I'm only saying what everybody's thinking, OK? Pussies.

All the News That Doesn't Cause Fits 

To follow up on Leah’s post about what’s really going on in iWaq and how we will never really know what’s going on, and links to voices of those who are there… this stinking mess should hang around the neck of Bushco like that Molly Ivins chicken. Here in the hinterlands, people actually believe they know what’s going on with this invasion-occupation because they read the paper or watch teevee, and of course very few listen to public radio, so it’s especially maddening to hear them spew simplistic victory snippets. I guess it’s the same all over, though. Anyway, this bit below is from an interview on Democracy Now with Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist on the scene, kind of shows what’s feeding the SCLM and why we don't hear what's really going on:

Amy Goodman: Which brings up the issue of what kind of news is getting out of there. You have got embedded reporters with the U.S. military, and then the two major Arab satellite networks, Al Arabiya, the reporter detained by the U.S. military, and Al-Jazeera, forbidden to report from Fallujah. Could you explain what's happening and what you know of this Al Arabiya reporter, what has happened to him?

Dahr Jamail: Well, as you mentioned, he did go to Fallujah to try to get inside the city, to report on what was really happening, and he was promptly detained by the military, and he is still being held. That's all the news that we have. He's essentially disappeared at this point, which is the typical case when anyone is detained here. They vanish. There is no contact with them. And so he¹s had - no one has been able to contact him, nor him anyone else. I should add also that as of yesterday, U.S.-backed Prime Minister Allawi made a statement that any Al-Jazeera journalists caught trying to report in Iraq will be detained. So, they remain under the gun, and the media crackdown here has really been beyond belief. They have made announcements prompting media to report, quote-unquote, "accurately," meaning they only want the U.S. military side of the story. And this crackdown on the Arab media has been very pronounced because stations like Al-Jazeera have consistently done a very good job of reporting extremely accurately what is happening here on the ground in Iraq. They do very good war reporting. They do show the graphic images, as they should, because this is a war, and this is what's happening here. This is why they continue to catch so much flack from the United States, particularly Defense Minister Rumsfeld. This is why their office in Baghdad was bombed during the initial invasion of Iraq, even though they specifically gave their coordinates to the Pentagon to avoid that happening. So, it keeps continuing on into the occupation. Of course, when the fighting rages and reports come out that don't play in the best interests of the U.S. military here, or the U.S. government, of course, the hammer gets dropped once again on the media that's doing their job.

His blog: Read Dahr's near daily log from iraq

Inside Ted's Head - Right Wing Specimen Under Glass 

The Mind of Ted. Dissecting a bigot.

"ted". aka: (Ted) Edward Baiamonte, aka: Ted7000@aol.com, aka: bje1000@aol.com

Author - according to Ted's own weblog banner - of the "classic" American screed "UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICIANS". Presented in all caps. Which makes it that much more of a "classic." Ted also wrote something called "The 91% Factor: why women initiate 91% of divorce", which, as far as I can determine without wasting my time actually reading the damned thing, is essentially some kind of anti-feminist sex obsessed ballyhoo based largely (I suspect) on Ted's own divorce and personal failed matrimonial experience. And therefore amplified (at least in Ted's head) as a (no doubt "classic") standard for all such matters. What has wronged Ted has wronged the world. Or at least 91% of it. Or something like that. See for yourself. - Amazon Books link

Ted wears many masks, at least according to Ted, but if there is one thing Ted definetly is its a kind of grand portmanteaux crammed with all assorment of right-wing squawk radio canards, talking point pop political slogans, buzzphrases, bugaboos, alarmist hot button anti-liberalism causitries, antecdotal historical fantasies, cloud cuckooland economic quackeries, and any number of other looney-tune buzzings scrambling around inside the hollow skull of the Ted like so many little animated bluebirds in a Saturday morning TV cartoon. Ted, you might say, is a kind of Mary Poppins-bag of fantastic right wing props. Or a twittering animated bird brain with baggage issues. Take your pick.

You can wander off and read some of Ted's twitterings at Ted's fabulous weblog "the dumb democrat" HERE. Or take a look at Ted's alternative selection "dumb liberal" HERE. When it comes to birthing clever original names for weblogs Ted is a regular Cagliostro. Likewise, it might be noted that Ted is neither a "liberal" or a "democrat", dumb or not, which brings me back to my earlier contention that Ted is something of a fraud in progress and a liar and a deceptive cad to boot.

Ted the Operator
But make no mistake dear readers, should you engage Ted in conversation, Ted will amuse you with his practiced savoir-faire and seemingly reasonable and friendly-fellow non-confrontational manner. Ted will even shower you with gaudy compliments (as he showered upon me - and for which I genuinely got a big kick out of because I recognize a buttery bullshit artist when I run into one). Ted will maintain this silky posture to the very end. Ted, you see, is one smooth operator. Or at least Ted fancies himself so. Despite the fact that his own half-baked online screechings reveal him to be something of a candidate for the booby hatch, and despite the fact that he refuses to pony up explanations for some of the crank he conjures out of thin air. Ted, you see, is a con man. And like all successfull con men Ted makes his pitch with a howdy-do handshake and a friendly slap on the back while simultaneously drawing a toothy white smile across the face of all things Ted.

For example: Ted, just prior to the election, submitted to Corrente, for our examination, his so titled magnum opus "JOHN KERRY AND THE LEPER COLONY." For greater context you can read the entire diseased ramble HERE.

Within this masterpiece Ted regales the reader with the following little autobiographical slice of traditional family values hokum.
No state is bluer than NY and no place in NY is bluer than NYC. In 1955 my Mom had a very safe domestic policy manifested as follows: when I said, "Mommy what can I do today?" she'd gave me 5 cents and tell me to get a friend and go have an adventure on the subway for the afternoon. Today a mother in NYC would be arrested for the very same domestic policy. What happened?

So I decided to respond to Ted's mailing and ask him how old he was in 1955. Seems like a simple question doesn't it? Well take my word for it... it wasn't. Oh God no! In fact Ted still refuses to provide an answer. And I think I eventually gave it all up after making the request at least a dozen times. Mainly because I already knew how old Ted was. I just wanted to hear him say it himself. (more on that later) Moving along: Ted makes the following observation:
Still, we're all so fortunate to have the cultural elite of Western civilization tucked away safely in their high security NYC buildings where their media, fashion, entertainment publishing, art, social, and political industries and institutions can teach the rest of us farmers how to organize ourselves and get along properly. I just don't understand though why farmers have God and families while a recent US Census lists Manhattan as first in the nation in percentage of single people, followed closely by the Kilauea Leper Colony in Hawaii?

"the rest of us farmers" (?) Hookay. Remember what I said above about Ted being a regular haversack chock full of right wing cliches and canards and so forth? But, despite that, what I also noticed, was that Ted was, according to Ted, apparently, a farmer! Hip hip hooray! I imagined Ted bringing in the Brussels sprouts or standing upon the farm porch, cup of hot freshly brewed farm coffee in hand, squinting steely-eyed, chin forward, eastward into the new day, and wondering what new liberal cultural elitist horror might come galloping out of the rising sun, at any monment, across those amber waves of grain. Ha! Not really. I didn't think of that until now.

You know why? Because I knew that Ted was completely full of crap right up to his ears. I knew that Ted wasn't a farmer (unless he were a BMW farmer from Stamford CT) and I knew that Ted would have been two years old in 1955 when "mommy" supposedly skedaddled little Tedster off to spend the afternoon scrambling around a NYCity subway platform. Which on the face of it would seem to make Ted's "mommy" appear to be something of an irresponsible dolt. Or crazy. Or something like that, since sending a two year old off to play on a subway, even in 1955, strikes me as a tad on the really friggin' stupid side of the third rail. Whatever.

So how did I know that Ted wasn't a farmer and that Ted would have been 2 years old in 1955? Ted said so himself. In the year of our Lord 2000, Ted (aka: bje1000), while apparently in full rut, offered the following biographical information to an online forum:
Anyway, here's a little about myself if I may. I'm 47, in very good shape thanks to many athletic pursuits (recently- skiing, rollerblading, golf, scuba, snow camping, kayaking), very good looking (I hate to say that), MBA, BA, in literature, self-employed with very small businesses in computer software, real-estate, and publishing (just finished writing second book-relationship book- although not an egghead type at all), home owner in Stamford, CT (40 minutes to Grand Central), divorced 8 years after a 20 year marriage. === Ted on Ted

Way to go Ted. See, if Ted were 47 years old in 2000 that means that Ted was born in 1953. Which would make Ted 2 years old in 1955. When I hinted at this possibility in my communications with Ted he refused to deny or confirm his actual age in 1955 and instead did his best to squirm and wiggle and altogether avoid the subject. You know how it goes. Of course Ted could have been lying about his age in the year 2000. Who knows with a guy like Ted.

Ted is also apparently something of a romantic loon (Bill O'Reilly take note!) so don't miss Ted's musings on steamy messages left on bathroom mirrors in the link (Ted on Ted) noted above.

So why am I picking on a pathetic middle aged moon-calf like Ted?
Why am I picking on Ted, tucked away safely up there in his gilded Stamford, CT nest? One of the most culturally elite high security communities in the nation. Because Ted is a hypocrite and a fraud and a liar and a con artist and a noisy right wing busybody bigot windbag. And because I don't like con artists and liars and morally self-righteous busybody bigots one little bit. Call it an occupational hazard which I've had a good deal of experience with in more thrilling times. I can track a road agent like Ted thrashing his way through a thicket and up a holler from a mile or more out. Easily.

Well, anyway, what Ted does is serve up and excitable stew of boing-eyed bogeymen labled "liberals" which he spotlights and amplifies and presents as proof of this or proof of that without actually providing any proof of much of anything.

Hell, Ted won't even clarify how old he is. Ted's rambling excitable gibberish is basically little more than the kind of fear and sneer caterwauling the Ku Klux Klan has engaged in down through the decades. Replace "Jew controled Hollywood" with "liberal controled Hollywood" replace gay marriage equals the collapse of western civilization canard with the old blather all about how western civilization will certainly implode upon itself should the black man be allowed to marry the white woman and blah blah blah blah blah. On and on. Thats basically the entire premise and purpose and scaffolding supporting Ted's seemigly endless feverish old timey ravings.

What Ted Baiamonte cacks up from his little self publishing economic elitist perch in Stamford Connecticut is exactly what David Neiwert describes below:
"... a relentless campaign of hatred and demonization directed at liberals, one specifically geared toward a rural audience." - See: Home is where the hate is

Except of course, Ted, like so many other Ted-bots, really, has no experience at all with rural America. Ted ya see is a perfect example of how the right wing drummer boy operates. Ted is an actual tin soldier in the cause. Marching around banging the hollow drum of skin deep morality and pretending to be something he is not in the hope that it instigates a battle that he can exploit and harvest for his own right wing elitist MBA inspired cheap labor conservative based ideological economic and political gain. For Ted the means justify the ends. As long as Ted wins! As long as Ted and the cult of Ted gets a share of the political party power boodle. For the sake of Ted of course.

No wonder hes divorced.

Ted the pedophile!!!!
CLASSIC TED - latest - hot off the wire - TED citing!!!!! ~ Ted is now pretending to be a gay teenager who looks like a movie star!:
From: Ted (TED7000@aol.com)
Subject: Male/16 Needing Help
This is the only article in this thread
View: Original Format
Newsgroups: alt.personals.gay
Date: 2004-11-05 14:00:03 PST

Hello...My name is Ted and I just got my first computer. I am gay but I have not told anybody and I want to reach out and try to find somebody to talk to. My sister tells me I look like Brad Pitt and I have a computer camera but I need help trying to set it up. I would like to show you what I look like but I don't know how it is done. I just turned 16 and am pretty scared of all this.

Thanks, Ted === HERE

Amazing ain't it? Ted has no shame or moral constitution at all. He's a pathological liar and a hooded creep to boot. A lonely fifty year old+ man attempting to lure gay teenagers into some online conversation so he can do what? Question them about their butt-holes? Well, only Ted knows.

By the way, if you'd like to read Ted's spooky Nazi-like morally vapid justification for genocide you can read it here:
Americans need to get over their squeamishness about bombing so called "innocent people" when there really are no innocent people. If we killed every person in Afghanistan we would have killed Bin Laden and the Taliban and eliminated a great part of our enemy and scared the rest. We hesitate only because the so called "innocent" are in the way." Their very presence obscures and hides and sustains our target. They our the enemies life line; they are the enemy. Yes, perhaps Bin Laden the tumor can be taken out by a Special Forces surgical strike but that does not mean the cancer won't grow back even more experienced and virulently or that it can be done before the anthrax spraying begins, before vaccines are available, and before business can produce other safety equipment. In sum, we need to teach the world and ourselves that there are no innocent people. === HERE

I have captured Ted. So study Ted. He's really a pretty simple specimen. A kind of spoon fed text book example of the right wing carrier pigeon. Pick the yicky bastard apart yourself. One hollow bone at a time and toss the leftovers to the wind when you're done.

If you'd like to more closely examine the specimen Ted (going back several years) simply go to Google, select "Groups" on the tab and type in = "Ted7000" or "bje1000" and follow the evolutionary development of Ted for yourself. Then...

Go knock over Ted's cheap scaffolding and watch Ted cry like the girly mandated pantysniffing attack pussy he truely is.


TED SPAM WARNING: if any of you decide to venture forth and leave a comment in the commnet threads of a Ted weblog -- BE WARNED -- if you leave your email address Ted may spam you with his Tedisms forever and ever. Asking Ted to stop spamming you will be fruitless. Take my word for it.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

girly mandate is propagating.

Try for yourself—it's number one!

Of course, there aren't that many hits... But if maybe if we all pray hard enough....

NOTE Bush mandate is still going strong. I hope lots and lots of wingers are "feeling lucky." And the new cover gives a whole new, um, dimension to the phrase "budget package," doesn't it....

UPDATE Ezra at Pandagon writes:

Most all political magazine writing happens in DC (save Mother Jones in San Francisco and The Nation in New York), and that shared perspective tamps down on distinct voices and eccentric viewpoints. Some of the most dead-on and worthwhile pundits of the past few years (Ivins, Hightower, Frank, Moore) have emerged and found themselves necessary precisely because their vantage point is so far from the DC norm. Meanwhile, the political media in DC used their influence to demand the sort of campaigns that'd appeal to them and their idea of America, and, despite the Kerry campaign making a pretty good effort to do as they were told, woke up on November 3rd and began telling the Kerry campaign that they'd failed to connect with the heartland.

Well, not to turn into a marketing weasel or anything, but I'd like to believe that this kind of "distinct voice" "far from the DC norm" is exactly the kind of writing we do at Corrente. Enjoy DC, Ezra...And be sure to bring your big, big hipboots!

Surprise! Destroying Fallujah didn't save it! 

Especially unofortunate if you think you're fighting Satan. Anyhow:

Senior Marine intelligence officers in Iraq are warning that if American troop levels in the Falluja area are significantly reduced during reconstruction there, as has been planned, insurgents in the region will rebound from their defeat. The rebels could thwart the retraining of Iraqi security forces, intimidate the local population and derail elections set for January, the officers say.

They have further advised that despite taking heavy casualties in the weeklong battle, the insurgents will continue to grow in number, wage guerrilla attacks and try to foment unrest among Falluja's returning residents, emphasizing that expectations for improved conditions have not been met.

The pessimistic analysis is contained in a seven-page classified report prepared by intelligence officers in the First Marine Expeditionary Force, or I MEF, last weekend as the offensive in Falluja was winding down. The assessment was distributed to senior Marine and Army officers in Iraq, where one officer called it "brutally honest."
(via Times)

Brutally honest?!?!? Arrest that man! He has traduced Dear Leader, God's Annointed Representative On This Earth!

Fat Tony takes questions—and gets booed 

So, will Bush nominate this man for Chief Justice?

When he was asked by a member of the audience whether he would like to revisit his decision in 2000 the Al Gore/George W. Bush election dispute, Scalia cut off the questioner, saying, "I'm inclined to say it's been four years and an election. Get over it." That drew loud boos from the crowd.

"The issue is not whether the decision should have been decided in the Florida or U.S. supreme courts, but that the Constitution had been violated. ... The only decision was to put an end to it after three weeks and looking like fools to the rest of the world," Scalia said. "It was too much of a mess. The equal-protection clause had been violated because they were counting votes differently. What did you expect us to do, not take the case because it wasn't important enough?"
(via Detroit News)

"Looking like fools to the rest of the world"... Man, we looked pretty good back in 2000, didn't we? I mean, by comparison to now....

Watching Condi and Bush together, there's only one thing to say: 

"Get a room!"

And how does the lump in the bed feel? Let alone the goat?

Reality-based community fails to connect with the undecided voter 

Remember how we all thought it was amazing that anyone could vote for Bush—but couldn't understand how anyone could possibly be undecided? Well, here's one answer....

[In the New Republic, Chris] Hayes portrays undecided voters as so fatalistic that Bush's manifold failures only confirm their conviction that the world's problems are intractable, a conviction that worked against Kerry's promises to fix things. He paints them as weirdly irrational, possessed of chimerical "facts," and unable to connect politics to material outcomes.

More disturbing still is Hayes' portrayal of the odd lacuna in voters' understanding of what a political issue even is. "As far as I could tell, the problem wasn't the word 'issue'; it was a fundamental lack of understanding of what constituted the broad category of the 'political,' he writes. "The undecideds I spoke to didn't seem to have any intuitive grasp of what kinds of grievances qualify as political grievances. Often, once I would engage undecided voters, they would list concerns, such as the rising cost of health care; but when I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care premiums, they would respond in disbelief -- not in disbelief that he had a plan, but that the cost of health care was a political issue. It was as if you were telling them that Kerry was promising to extend summer into December."

The depressing upshot of this is that Democrats can't make headway by configuring their policies. In the end, Hayes sees only two options: "either abandon 'issues' as the linchpin of political campaigns and adopt the language of values, morals, and character as many have suggested; or begin the long-term and arduous task of rebuilding a popular, accessible political vocabulary -- of convincing undecided voters to believe once again in the importance of issues." In other words, find a demagogue or educate the country -- either way, Democrats have their work cut out for them.
(via Salon)

Hmmm... I'm not sure it's either/or. Clinton could talk both issues and morals, in a vocabulary anyone could understand (one of the many reasons the wingers had to destroy him). And someone like, oh, Barack Obama could too...

Or, for that matter, Howard Dean. His idea that "you have the power" attacks the fatalism directly (one of the many reasons the political class had to destroy him).

Straight down the yellow stripe in the middle of the road 

But Patrick Leahy? From Vermont?? He must actually believe it's possible to do business with the Republicans—or he believes what he's saying. Either way, it's frightening:

"[Senator] Leahy quickly added he didn't consider Gonzales to be a right-wing barbarian and said it was smart for the president not to choose a nominee that would have alarmed Democrats.

" 'Judge Gonzales is no Attila the Hun; he's far from that, and he's a more uniting figure,' Leahy said. 'The president could have picked a polarizing figure; he did not. I applaud him for that.'
(via WaPo)

"Please, sir, I want some more."

A uniting figure? The man who wrote the memos justifying Bush's policy of torture? The man who wrote the memo that said Bush has the "inherent authority" to set aside the law—in secret? Gonzales is, indeed, no Attilla the Hun, since Attilla was no professional. Albert Speer, perhaps?

Way to telegraph that punch, Porter! 

Thank God the CIA is going to get more aggressive! I can hardly wait!

CIA Director Porter Goss told his new chief of spy operations this week to launch a much more aggressive espionage campaign that would use undercover officers to penetrate terrorist groups and hostile governments such as North Korea and Iran, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of Goss' plans.
(via US Today)

Of course, this would be a lot easier if we hadn't fired all the gay translators....

Anyhow, Goss being a Republican, this is probably all disinformation anyhow—a publicity stunt while they gear up for Bush's domestic agenda.

"A Day In The Life of Joe Republican" 

Nice rant:

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.


Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

And the beauty part? It's all true.

Election fraud 2004: "Well, What Do You Expect Coming From Berkeley" 

Anyone like to bet on what will be the response to a report from a "Berkeley Research Team," that there is sufficient warning evidence, (think "smoke alarm"), to justify further inquiry into the Florida vote results?

Let's see; besides the report eminating from Berkeley, generally considered one of the world's top university, but also as a hotbed of mindless liberalism, there's the fact that it is based on statistical analysis of e-voting machines, rather than hardcore evidence, like, say, a paper trail. Here's the logline for the story:
UC Berkeley Research Team Sounds 'Smoke Alarm' for Florida E-Vote Count
Statistical Analysis - the Sole Method for Tracking E-Voting - Shows Irregularities May Have Awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or More Excess Votes to Bush in Florida
Research Team Calls for Investigation

You can find the rest of the story here. Basically it appears to be a university press release, and even more suspicious, it's to be found on CommonDreams, which has the temerity to even call itself "progressive."

Enjoy it while you can, unencombered by the negative spin meant to put such findings in their place, the nearest dumpster, by the "fair and balanced" SCLM.

Over Plain Black Coffee 

To round up the outrages we hollered about over pre-chores coffee today, in no particular order:

So I see in an article by Jonathan Schell that the NYT says that "The offensive also shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants: Falluja General Hospital, with its stream of reports of civilian casualties." “Shut down” as in “Bombed to rubble.” So that “propaganda” about who goes to hospital can’t come out. Bottom line: nobody knows how many were killed, or how many that were killed were “insurgents.” And while we're at it, what’s the difference between an “insurgent” and some pissed off person trying to protect their home—how is that differentiation made? Jonathan Schell puts it this way: “No men of military age were permitted to leave during the attack. Remaining civilians were trapped in their apartments with no electricity or water. No one knows how many of them have been killed, and no official group has any plans to find out.” "Tomgram: Schell, The Battle for Minds (Forget the Hearts)"

Latest news is the UN wants to investigate the possibility of war crimes in Falluja. Might be a good time to drop a line to Danforth and tell him that would be a really good idea, with a cc to Kofi Annan. Oh, and now it’s happening in Mosul, too.

Can we please at least be united in our horror and anger? (And please don’t preach to me about the troops not being responsible for the kidnappings and murders—I understand the concept of cause and effect... see The Star for example…)

On the election fraud front, Greg Palast and Farhad Manjoo are having a tiff about whether or not Kerry actually won Ohio. But it’s a silly argument—they both agree that the election was a mess. Totally FUBAR, er, goshdarned. Their disagreement is whether or not that means Kerry had enough votes to win. A recount will tell that, but only if it’s fair, and it likely won’t be. The real issue is the undisputed fact that election officials in Ohio (and Florida, and elsewhere) botched the election process. And I personally have no doubt that it was deliberate—remember the usefulness of the Fog Machine? Toss enough shit up in the air and it starts to look like, well, golly, there’s so much shit in the air, it’s so complicated to figure out, questioning it’s just one of those silly left-wing crybaby conspiracies. Blackwell, et. al. know that the American public and the SCLM pablum-feeders don’t have time for subtleties. Watch for this same tactic over and over again. New Hampshire will be next. And they aren’t done counting in New Mexico, either.

A girl who busted her ass for Kerry around here, even though she was a Green and thought he was a sellout, just did it to help save her country from Bush, sent me this link, she said it matched her feelings and I don’t know what to think: Now Is Not the Time For National Unity!

Where does this leave us? Hmmm:

Mokhiber: Kofi Annan in September said that the Iraq war is an illegal war. If it is an illegal war, then the 100,000 who have died there – according to the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health – are victims of war crimes. Now, the President is going to Canada later this year. And the largest circulation newspaper in Canada (the Toronto Star) printed a column yesterday titled “Should Canada Indict Bush?” – raising the question of a war crimes prosecution. They have a war crimes law in Canada. And I’m wondering –

Scott McLellan: Do you have a question or is it just a statement of opinion?

Mokhiber: No, this is the question. Has the White House counsel looked at the President’s legal exposure to a war crimes prosecution?

Scott McLellan: It is a ridiculous question that you bring up. You were out on the Nader campaign at the time that this issue came up. It was addressed at that time. And I’m not going to go through it again. more...

Ridiculous, is it?

Scratch One Off 

I'm afraid Josh can scratch one off. My weasely congressman, Sam Graves, voted for the DeLay rule. I called his office and the staff person on the phone admitted it -- rather sheepishly I might add. The staff person tried to argue that the Republican caucus was just "updating" an "outdated" rule from the Contract With (On) America. Right.

I'm sure Sam's vote had nothing to do with the fact that Sam got $30,000 in campaign funds from Tom DeLay's PACs now, would it?

Of course not. Perish the thought.

If you want to know more about the thuggish tactics of weasely Sam Graves, go here.

Yes, yes, Sam's also the genius that got the money to study Goths for the Blue Springs school district -- and there weren't any Goths in Blue Springs.

That's all. Move along.

Back when America's Team wore hot pants. And other chilling "outrages!" 

The multimillion dollar celebrity cable nooze wowsers and their right wing think tank pilot fish are of course whooping up the big wind over the recent airing of some silly assed television commercial for some silly assed television program which depicts some silly assed towel drop and a white huntstress leaping like some ravenous minx into the muscular arms of a blackamoor sports warrior! Oh the outrage! Oh, as Aaron Brown dramatically testified (really, they actually say this kind of shit on cable TV.), on behalf of a sixteen year old: "they are taking our childhood away!"

Whew. Jeepers.

Recall here also the Great Nipple Super Scare of 2004. Oh, the outrage! Oh, the fragile foundations of western civilization itself are quivering under the onslaught of such monstrous deparvity. The mind reels. Not since the white goddess Edwina Booth, mostly almost nekkid and surrounded by mostly almost nekkid pygmies - and plunked in a jungle clearing as drums thunder in the background and the great white hunter Trader Horn is summoned to the rescue and so on and so on... has western civilization balanced on the brink. The outrage.

Oh sure.

Hey, remember back in the good old days when "they were taking our childhood away" that time? Before we had gone "stark raving mad!", as some scoldpottle dolt from the Heritage Foundation explained to Aaron Brown on CNN.

Remember back when spartan hot-pants clad Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders were shaking their sunny southern exposures and bodacious Sunday afternoon super-dupers before our collective boing-eyed TV glazed beamers? Bursting forth with bulging cleavage dazzling enchantment and leggy high kicking Calvinist Cowboy verve? Remember them good ol' days?

And every good ol' boy Baptist-dunked football whoopster from Texarkana to Texico was declaring such gaudy displays of Lone Star red blooded Christian born and hair-sprayed American sideline cheesecake an inspirational spoke in the great wheel of our national cultural life. And by extension a televised celebration of manly virility and Super Bowl victory and the glory of God itself. And every rutting testosterone doped sixteen year old red blooded Gawd-ferrin' young'n worth his salt struck out for the glamourous bright lights of the shiny new shoppin' mall to fantasize about the pantyhosed department store manikins and ultimately lay claim to his very own 24x36 inch full-bleed color poster-photo tribute to the purity of feminine essence and the full bosomed bleach blond champions of "America's Team". Which was proudly tacked like a glossy trophy to the back of a bedroom closet door. Oh the outrage. By God and country and motherhood and the NFL -- oh the outrage.

Remember? (snicker wink snicker) Remember that televised climax of "Red State" patriotic Cowboy Americana? Way back when. Remember that great theft of our "childhood" (oh the outrage!) by the darlings of Dallas? Before we all went "stark raving mad!" Back when boys will be boys and hey...hows a little sporting peek at some smooth glistening milk-fed thigh or silicone ta-ta gonna hurt little junior anyways? Huh? Take a hike whiny liberal feminist political correctness types. Remember all that then? Golly Jesus, almost makes a patriot long for the good old days now don't it?

And how about mommy's disturbingly weird TV soap operas? How about those slutty idiotic yarns? When are the cable TV nooze wowsers and think tank culture war harpies going to swoop down on that bordello of daytime smut? Huh? Soon I hope.

Meanwhile, somewhere on the fringes of forgotten moral reality:

Our warplanes spew fire on the heads of old men, women, and children. We are turning cities into ashes. Meanwhile, what offends us is the Anglo-Saxon word for what people do when they are lonely or in love. - see: Protecting 'Innocent' Ears, Boston Globe - by James Carroll

Well, fuck... who cares about that ugliness? As long as they don't show it on our glowing virtue spewing fully clothed TV screen. Afterall, Aaron Brown, you sniveling cable-hag girly mandated coward, we wouldn't want to rob some sixteen year old of their childhood - now would we? Aaron?

Oh the outrage.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Lots of interesting ideas about connecting in the last day or two. I like RDF's idea about musical house parties. Believe it or not, people used to make their own music in this country. They could sing and play instruments and everything. Now, of course, we have corporations who do that for us.

And Xan's idea of joining the NRA is brilliant. I make this statement totally without irony. Join it, subvert it... And heck, is the skillset they have on offer such a bad thing to have?

And I think a healthy (i.e., a non-corporate) relation between city and country is key. Buying food at farmers' markets is one thing I do. It's a small step—all farms can't grow arugala or organic vegetables or whatever—but it's a real step. There are probably others....

It's also—while thinking of non red/blue ways to classify the country, like city/country—amazing how blue the blue states are. Blue as in blue water, that is. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts are blue. The Great Lakes (including, as some do, Lake Champlain) are blue. And the Ohio and the Mississippi are battlegrounds. Seems like taking care of our waters makes the blue citadels stronger—but also benefits the country as a whole, since clean water helps everyone.

Why do the wingers have such problems with the Constitution? 


"I think everyone knows that I have been a supporter of Sen. Specter throughout this process, in his re-election," Santorum said. "I expect him to keep his commitments, to move judges out of committee, and to be an advocate of the president in getting those judges passed."
(via AP)

The Constitution:

[Article II, Section 2, Clause 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Sheesh. It's almost like Santorum thinks a Senator is like Bush's, um, dog or something, isn't it...

It's kind of like donating your body to science... 

And a chance to show some Christmas spirit!

From the other side of the pond:

Bakers of mince pies, Christmas puddings and other traditional British treats have been warned that they might be facing a lard-free Christmas this year.
(via AP)

So, um, Rush? Are you up for it? Helping the Brits out with their shortage?

So, why don't the Republicans want us to know where our food comes from? 

I can't imagine ....

Telling consumers where their meat, fruit and vegetables came from seemed such a good idea to U.S. ranchers and farmers in competition with imports that Congress two years ago ordered the food industry to do it. But meatpackers and food processors fought the law from the start, and newly emboldened Republicans now plan to repeal it before Thanksgiving.

As part of the 2002 farm bill, country-of-origin labeling was supposed to have gone into effect this fall. Congress last year postponed it until 2006. Now, House Republicans are trying to wipe it off the books as part of a spending bill they plan to finish this month.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he expected the Senate to agree to repealing the measure, whose main champion two years ago was Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

"I can't find any real opposition to doing exactly what we want to do here," Blunt said.
(via AP)

Weird. Seems like the Red States elected these guys, then get kicked right in the teeth by the guys they elected. WTF?

I mean, all things considered, wouldn't I really rather help out an American farm by buying American beef?

Reclaiming the Ruralistas 

Interesting discussion down in Comments on Lambert's Goodnight Moon and the link to the Orcinus piece (which I must admit I haven't read yet.) Here's one strategy we might think about, and it even has some points of use in cities:

(via LATimes)
Almost nine months before, I had put down my name and my deposit on the wait list for a hybrid car. Did I say wait? This wasn't a wait, it was a gestation.

Then I got the call: Congratulations, it's a Prius. The night before I picked it up, I did a television news gig. I ran into a friend who works at the station, and I told her how excited I was about the Prius. A Republican political aide, whose boss had been on TV with me, heard us. "Huh," he said sarcastically. "Does it come with a Kerry sticker?"

It made me wonder: When did conserving — saving — gasoline, or anything else, become something those awful liberals do? When did big SUVs and bigger federal deficits redefine "conservative"? When did conservatives start mocking conservation?

The original Mr. Conservation Republican being unavailable, I turned instead to his great-grandson, TRIV — Theodore Roosevelt IV. [snip] When I told him of the politico's snarky remark about my green-mobile, he said: "What an offensive reaction that is: 'I know you're right morally, so I'll sneer at you.' " [snip]

The original meaning of "conservative," he went on, has been dumped like an ashtray emptied out a car window. "It's no longer used even in economic terms. Conservatives are saying 'Have budget deficits, spend money, don't worry about the future,' " and applying " 'conservative' … almost exclusively to family values or social issues."

Blue states could make common cause with greenies in red states by demonstrating that it's about protecting ourselves not just from terrorism but from our own feckless carelessness and a dollar democracy that equates citizenship with throwaway consumerism.
I've heard people suggest that we join the NRA en masse, in part to establish credentials for the future and some implication of "taking over from the inside" in the matter of rational gun control. Not sure I'm on board with that one yet, but let's drag some of these ideas out on the rug and let the cats sniff 'em.

Take a Closer Look 

This just in:

Scientists say running shaped early humans

And the best line in the article?

“If natural selection did not favor running, the scientists believe humans would still look a lot like apes.”

These scientists obviously haven’t gotten a good look at the preznit lately, huh?

Do Canadian Prisons Allow Conjugal Visits? 

Just wondering, since the Toronto Star’s Thomas Walkom asks:

Should Canada Indict Bush?

When U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Ottawa — probably later this year — should he be welcomed? Or should he be charged with war crimes?

It's an interesting question. On the face of it, Bush seems a perfect candidate for prosecution under Canada's Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

This act was passed in 2000 to bring Canada's ineffectual laws in line with the rules of the new International Criminal Court. While never tested, it lays out sweeping categories under which a foreign leader like Bush could face arrest.

In particular, it holds that anyone who commits a war crime, even outside Canada, may be prosecuted by our courts. What is a war crime? According to the statute, it is any conduct defined as such by "customary international law" or by conventions that Canada has adopted.
War crimes also specifically include any breach of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, such as torture, degradation, wilfully depriving prisoners of war of their rights "to a fair and regular trial," launching attacks "in the knowledge that such attacks will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians" and deportation of persons from an area under occupation.

Outside of one well-publicized (and quickly squelched) attempt in Belgium, no one has tried to formally indict Bush. But both Oxfam International and the U.S. group Human Rights Watch have warned that some of the actions undertaken by the U.S. and its allies, particularly in Iraq, may fall under the war crime rubric.

The case for the prosecution looks quite promising. First, there is the fact of the Iraq war itself. After 1945, Allied tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo — in an astonishing precedent — ruled that states no longer had the unfettered right to invade other countries and that leaders who started such conflicts could be tried for waging illegal war...

and there's more at Should Canada Indict Bush?

Ohhhh, me hearties, I know it’ll never happen, but wouldn’t it be too, too great? Picture it: A group of Mounties descends on King George as soon as he disembarks from AF-1, guns drawn, reads the arrest warrant, puts a bag over his head, and claps him in cuffs. Condi looks on in horror and runs after him screaming, “No! Not my husb, er—boss!” and she must be sedated and taken to hospital. Laura, following Condi out, asks for political asylum. The PM refuses to budge—no bail pending trial, but he will allow George to have a lawyer.

More On The Election 

To piggyback off of Tom's post here, I have two links to offer to this discussion.

The first is a discussion in The Nation by James K. Galbraith, not to be confused with his father Kenneth J. Galbraith, since both are distinguished humanist economists who write uncommonly well.

Please note in reading the piece that Galbraith closed up shop, he teaches in Texas and writes for Salon and other publications, to go himself to do grassroots GOTV work in Ohio. He is doubtful that Kerry was robbed, and carefully and respectfully explains why. He doesn't doubt that the way we conduct elections is a national shame. His answer, voting by mail, is one I question, primarily because my earliest awareness of what I have always concieved of as our national civic religion, came from accompanying my parents to the neighborhood polling place, run by lovely women we all knew; walking into a voting booth and the act of voting retains its thrilling power for me. But perhaps Prof. Galbraith is right, and modern technology has moved us beyond the point where it makes sense for voting to remain a public experience. You can find the article here.

My second link is to a DU forum that exhibits a post from Bev Harris herself, providing an update straight from Volusia County, plus a discussion thereof. As you all may know, DU links sometimes disappear; be assured this is a working link as I post it now.

The Ohio Recount moves ahead 

Keith Olbermann continues to write about the Ohio Recount. If you want to read an (overly) optimistic calculation as to whether this recount could change the winner in Ohio, go read this post at DailyKos.

It is amazing how little coverage this is getting in the press. I'm always amazed when our media decides to "protect us" from icky things like the guy who they've projected as winning the election actually didn't win the election.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of all of this. As someone who thinks the time for the Electoral College has passed (waaay back in the election of 1876), I can't get very excited about finding a way to win the presidency when you've already clearly lost the popular vote.

I've tried folks. I really have. I just can't do it.

Guy who set himself on fire outside Bush White House an AQ FBI informant 

In the immortal words of Casey Stengel: "Can't anyone here play this game?"

The attempted suicide Monday outside the White House was that of a Yemeni man who was an FBI informant on terrorism, and it has complicated a federal prosecution in Brooklyn of a suspected financier of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

The informant, identified by defense attorneys as Mohamed Alanssi, 52, set himself on fire after he wrote letters to the news media and the FBI about his growing despondency as a confidential witness.

He is a crucial government witness against Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, both of whom were extradited from Germany in 2003 to stand trial on charges they gave support to terrorist groups al-Qaida and Hamas. Both defendants are being held without bail in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park.
(via Newsday)

The rest of the Newsday story has plenty of information from the defense on issues of the case in which Alanssi was a witness...

But sheesh! FBI informants setting themselves on fire? WTF? There's no possible scenario where this could be the right thing to happen. Start with the idea that it's just barely possible that the FBI may have a little more trouble recruiting informants—at a time when human intelligence is desperately needed.

I'm sure whichever higher-up who let this happen will be held accountable [cough].

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