Saturday, December 11, 2004

Box of rain 

Grateful Dead lyricist and Electronic Frontier Foundation maven John Perry Barlow arrested on a warrantless search, appealing it. (Via Suburban Guerilla)

Box of something, anyhow. And I'm sure they wouldn't put anyone from the EFF on a watchlist, just because they were from the EFF. They would never do that.

Goodnight, moon 

Hey! I just took care of my retirement. Yes, I went out and bought some lottery tickets! And best of all, it really isn't going to cost me anything. I pawned my laptop to get the money for the tickets, and when I win, I'll go get it back!

Sounds loony, doesn't it? Well, that's about what Bush's plan to privatize Social Security boils down to. See Krugman's essential "Borrow, Speculate, and Hope", where Krugman writes:

There is, by the way, a precedent for Bush-style privatization. One major reason for Argentina's rapid debt buildup in the 1990s was a pension reform involving a switch to individual accounts — a switch that President Carlos Menem, like Bush, decided to finance with borrowing rather than taxes. So Bush intends to emulate a plan that helped set the stage for Argentina's economic crisis.

So what's Krugman whining about, anyhow? Argentina escaped their creditors by defaulting; we'll screw China and Japan by defaulting. What's the big deal here? If they were stupid enough to buy our bonds, they deserve whatever happens to them, right?

Now, where have I heard this before? 

Bush says Social Security faces a "looming threat". Yawn. Like the WMDs are an imminent threat?

Honestly. How stupid do they think we are?


Here's a nice soundbyte:

[From] Pay without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation

Aggregate top-five compensation was equal to 10 percent of aggregate corporate earnings in 1998-2002, up from 6 percent of aggregate corporate earnings during 1993-1997.

Got that? A full ten percent of corporate earnings go to the top five people in the company. The. Top. Five.
(via Kevin Drum)

Yep, oligarchy. Tell me again what's so bad about progressive taxation?

Farmer's markets, and blue water as a wedge issue 

Today I went to Reading Terminal in Center City, Philly, and bought steaks and chops from an Amish farmer, potatoes from a certified organic grower, a superb artisanal Brie from Green Valley Dairy, and honey from a local beekeeper. In each case, I was doing three things: (1) Supporting a local small business, (2) not polluting my body (or my mind) with chemical-laden corporate food, and (3) providing tastier food for myself. (I also got a copy of the Philadelphia Independent, so I didn't pollute my mind with corporate media product either).

I was also doing a fourth thing. Read Kid Oakland at Kos, who missed it, and see if you catch it.

It was a mostly idyllic day at the Berkeley farmer's market...

I went with 15 dollars in my pocket and some good friends and came home with a handful of organic brussels sprouts, a world class pear (the kind they serve at Chez Panisse for dessert), an artisanal loaf of bread baked by a friend of mine, an unwaxed apple, a tangerine, three organic yellow onions, a head of the best looking broccoli I've ever seen, and the lingering taste of a bite of vegan chocolate banana cake...mmm...oh, and 7 dollars and change...

Berkeley's farmer's market is a tribute to everything that is great about "Blue" America...

Here I part company with Kid Oakland. I don't see the significance of our purchases as, primarily, a Red/Blue thing at all. (It's probably a purple thing—some red, some blue.)

So, (4)—the fourth thing—by purchasing local produce, I was helping to heal the relationship between the American City and the American Country. (Corporate farming, obviously, can't do that. Not even on their radar.)

A healthy relationship between (blue) cities and (mostly purple and red) country is important for the country, and for Democrats to win. Unfortunately, the political establishments (bluest blue or reddest red) can get in the way of this rapprochement.

Is there a political issue around which local growers in the country and their buyers in the city can coalesce?

I think there is. The issue is water (profound, primal). Recall that one reason the blue states are blue is that they are water states: On the oceans, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi and its tributaries (the famous red/blue maps, though hopelessly polarized, also show this clearly). Blue states can't tolerate polluted water. I don't think local growers can either. But Republican policies, and Red State political establishments, encourage pollution in the name of corporations.

So, can water be a wedge issue? "We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water." (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer). Well, how are the Republicans treating this gift?

Please, please, not Whiney Joe 

I told you Bush's next choice for DHS Fuhrer would be worse than Kerik:

Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who heads the Senate committee that will take up the nomination, said two "terrific choices" would be Asa Hutchinson, the department's undersecretary for border and transportation security, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.
(via AP)

If there's anything that conclusively demonstrates Al Gore's tone-deafness, it was Gore letting Whiney Joe anywhere near a national ticket. After which, of course, Whiney Joe promptly sold Gore out, on national TV, by caving to the Republican thugs on the military vote during the Florida 2000 Republican coup.

Of course, I do like the spectacle of Connecticut's Littlest Senator twisting slowly, slowly in the wind, and then not getting nominated, but even the merest hint of Joementum makes my skin crawl.

Please, God, let the nominee be Hutchison. Otherwise the odor of sanctimonious and deeply fake bi-partisanship will be way too stifling.

And Susan. Why haven't you crossed the aisle, yet? Maine's Blue, and it needs Social Security to work.

Each Little Bite 

Not letting profits get in the way of wiping out genomes and fouling the air and water, Bushco fearlessly plows ahead:

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Friday it will allow developers to complete construction and other projects even after belated discoveries that the work could endanger protected species. Bush OKs Ruling That May Endanger Species

When our grandchildren look at the earth that corporate greed has left them, we’ll all be indicted. Won’t matter what your religion is when we’re all choking to death on corporate effluvia and shooting at each other to protect our share of dwindling non-renewable resources. Remember the Dave Bartholomew song, The Monkey? "Another thing you will never see: a monkey build a fence around a coconut tree. Letting the coconuts go to waste, forbidding all others to come and taste. Why, if I built a fence around this tree, starvation would force you to steal from me. Yes, man descended, the worthless bum, but brothers, from us he did not come. The monkey speaks his mind..."

The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.

Nanny problem my, um, hind foot. 

After reading Sidney Blumenthal's scathing piece a couple of days ago about Kerik's resemblance to Caligula's horse (if you don't get the reference, go here), I knew it was only a matter of time before he'd have to step down. Just the things that Blumenthal recounts were enough to derail his nomination.

But, little did we know, it was going to get a lot better:
And just five years ago he was in financial trouble over a condominium he owned in New Jersey. More serious trouble than anyone realized: NEWSWEEK has discovered that a New Jersey judge in 1998 had issued an arrest warrant as part of a convoluted series of lawsuits relating to unpaid bills on his condo. The magazine faxed documents, including the arrest warrant, over to the White House around 6:00 p.m. Friday, asking for comment. Neither Kerik nor the White House had any immediate response. At 8:30 p.m., Kerik had submitted his letter to the president.
(via MSGOP)
If you read the story closely, this warrant was apparently never withdrawn!

Holy cow, BushCo just nominated a guy for a cabinet post for whom there was an active arrest warrant! And they wanted the guy to be the head of the agency concerned with national security!


That's gotta be a new low for an administration, even for this bottom-feeding administration, don't you think?

Boy the "nanny problem" excuse looks really lame now, doesn't it?

Remember Cuyahoga County? 

The press is still digging. Plain Dealer. Not, of course, that the Times or the Post would dirty their hands.... (via Kos).

NOTE Cuyahoga on 11/2-3 back and back here.

And so this is Christmas 

And speaking of kulturkampf:

McDONOUGH, Ga. (AP) - A 14-year-old boy accused of bringing a pipe bomb to school wanted to sell it to pay for Christmas presents, but several classmates thought his $35 asking price was too high, the principal said.
(via AP)

I love it. "His $35 asking price was too high" ...

So, there's a market in pipe bombs that 14-year-olds know about?

Bill O - Reilly - O - a rumpa bum bum...... 

rumpa bum bum - rumpa bum bum....

Via Dr. Atrios, who is, apparently, one of the great mysteries of the natural world - at least if you work at CBS News. But anyway...:
From Big Bad Bill O'Falafel:

"That's why nobody sticks up for Christmas except me. Did Peter Jennings stick up for Christmas last night? I don't believe he did. How about Brian Williams, did he? Did Rather stick up for Christmas? How about Jim Lehrer -- did he? Did Larry King -- hello -- I love Christmas -- did he? No." -- Bill O'Reilly, The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, December 9, 2004

Well well, apparently Yuletide Billy is something of an anti-"founding father" type because the Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritan nuts outlawed the celebration of the Christmas holiday in 1659. Including all that blasphemous liberal Christmas tree hugger bullshit. (unfortunately repealing the law 25 years later) So, Bill, you heretic, you should cease all that liberal pagan idol-worshiping bad craziness if you really know whats good fer ya! If them Puritan founder-like folks had spy'd you snuggling your loofah sponge under a blinking Douglas Fir on a frosty Christmas morn in 1660 they would have lashed you to a post in the public square in your jammies and peed in your bowl of parched corn meal mash and heaved your sorry fried falafel ass into a frozen pit with a toothless witch! For the glory of God and King and corporate colony and the errand in the wilderness and other such sanctified heroic flapdoodlry.

I know all this because I killed the Devil with my bare hands and have been afforded knowledge that most mortals will be never be afforded. Please help me afford this statement by making a donation to the 1-800 number currently flashing on your computer screen. Whether you can afford it or not.


Fundamental fundamentalism; and stuff like that 

I just want to write this quickly because I think it's relevant to the post below. The one titled "Dayton Tennessee...," which includes a newspaper article written by HL Mencken following the Scopes Trial in 1925.

I get the impression some readers believe that this kind of criticism represents a larger criticism of religion in general; or Christianity in general; or the role of religion within society in general. I get this same impression whenever the term "fundamentalism" arrives in the conversation and the battle between Christian "fundamentalism" and "liberalism" is waged.

So I think it might be a good idea to clarify where I'm coming from with respect to this argument and to clarify what "fundamentalism" means to me in this context.

First of all, "fundamentalism" was a term dervived from a series of essays written from between 1910 and 1915 by a group of Protestant religious clerics and scholars and so titled "The Fundamentals." (Type "the fundamentals" and "1910" into a Google search and see for yourself.)

In 1919 "The World's Christian Fundamentals Association" was founded to advance among other doctrines premillenarianism (which is a different animal from postmillenarianism). Thus, Christian "fundamentalism" was for all practical official purposes stamped with approval by certain factions of the Protestant church. But not all. And that's is where the battle between "fundamentalism" and "liberalism" or "modernism" enters the equation.

Today, when people speak of the Christian fundamentalism vs. liberalism argument, they go at it in terms of Christians vs. secular political interests; or in the context of a church vs. state battle. Or religion vs. no religion. Or any number of other similar combinations all pitting Christianity or fundamentalist Christianity against lefties or liberals or secular society and so on.

But that is not what the original battle between fundamentalism and liberalism was about, despite how it has evolved to this day.

The original "fundamentalism" vs. "liberalism" (or modernism) smackdown was an inter-ecclesiastical debate waged within the Protestant church and its denominations. The "liberalism" which conservative fundamentalist factions reacted against in the early 1900s was the mainstream Protestant church's own "liberal" attitudes and policies and willingness to reconcile itself with, and adapt itself to, advances in science and medicine and Darwinian theory and the German "higher criticism." Or any theories which the fundamentalist mob believed undermined Biblical inerrancy or authority.

The original collection of essays titled "The Fundamentals" written in 1910 also cited "Romanism" (The Catholic Papal Beast scare), socialism (the Red Scare), modern philosophy (Enlightenment principles and the higher criticism), atheism (read: Bolshevism), Eddyism (fear of multiple designer ice cream flavors), Mormonism, and spiritualism among the grave dangers awaiting the flock. (I made that one about the ice cream flavors up myself. Just for the record.)

The anti-liberalism crusade amounted ultimately to a defence of what the The General Assembly of the northern Presbyterian Church cited, in 1910, as the five essentials: [1] the innerancy of scripture, [2] the innerancy of the virgin birth, [3] the physical resurrection of Christ, [4] the historical authenticity of the miracles, [5] the Atonement. "The World's Christian Fundamentals Association" noted above would also seek to replace the miracles with the second coming of Christ.

In any case, each of these five (or six) essentials was deemed to be under attack from liberal/modernist quarters within the church. In 1923 Presbyterian J. Gresham Machen published "Christianity and Liberalism" in which he essentially concluded that "liberalism", and all those within the church who advanced the acceptance of such horrors, as they applied to fundamentalist church doctrine, was an outsider trojan horse riding bastard breaching the walls of the true historic Christianity and the big stinkin' shining city on the big stinkin' hill. But not exactly in those exact words. But you get the idea.

And so on and so on evermore this battle raged during the early years of the 20th century, eventually spilling over into politics and into the greater secular society as well. The Scopes trial in Tennessee in 1925 ultimately would become a kind of Waterloo for the noisier and more aggressive elements of the early Christian fundamentalist movement. And the wave rolled back off the beach. At least for a while. Until, as we see today, fundamentalism (especially as it has re-emerged in certain sectors of the evangelical community) has come roaring back with a vengeance. And it's replaced its traditional "liberal/modernist" enemies within its own ranks with "liberal" political ememies and secular enemies as they exist in the current left vs. right - "liberal" vs "conservative" political arena.

So, that said, despite my simplification of a whole lot of historical complexities and such, I'd just like some folks like THB to know that any critical references made here with respect to Christianity as it is advanced by Christian fundamentalist or the Christian Right or Christian Dominionists or any similar fauna has nothing to do with Christianity as such, or even the rules and regulations one denomination or another sics upon its own clubhouse; or religion, in general. I don't much like poison ivy but that doesn't mean I don't like ivy, or plants. Know what I mean?

Anyway, liberal, moderate, and mainstream Christians, (Catholic and Protestant and all others) just remember, the Christian fundamentalist fired across your bow first. Then they began sniping from the belltowers at everyone else. This battle here ain't about religion vs. secular or Christians vs. atheists etc... It's about modern democracy and religious freedom and the rights of secular civil society to all co-exist together on a neutral ground under the umbrella of constitutional government without being hijacked by a narrow agenda of crazies branding their own theocratic clubhouse rules and regulations and so-called pious holier than thou moral fetishes and limitations on everyone else's backsides. That's about it, I think.

Oh yeah. Please, this Christmas, won't you all, in the spirit of the holidays, send a basket of fresh loofah sponges and a box of falafel mix and a bottle of hand lotion, on my behalf, to Bill O'Reilly. Do it for the fundamentalist hell of it.

Update: Uh oh! The cross lighters at CNN (the Cakewalk News Network) are announcing the heroic return of Judge Roy Moore to the public square. So to speak. Just in time to join the Christmas torchlight cable media parade.


Friday, December 10, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Of course, Bush's next nomination will be worse than Kerik...

Bernard "Bumboy" Kerik wusses out, withdraws himself from DHS nomination 

Oops! This couldn't be Inerrant Boy's fault, since He never makes mistakes, so who screwed up?

In a surprise move, former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik abruptly withdrew his nomination as Bush's choice to be homeland security secretary Friday night, saying questions have arisen about the immigration status of a housekeeper and nanny he employed.

"Have arisen," eh? I wonder who dropped a dime?

The decision caught the White House off guard and sent Bush in search of a new candidate to run the sprawling bureacracy of more than 180,000 employes melded together from 22 disparate federal agencies in 2003.

One administration official helping prepare Kerik for Senate confirmation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kerik's unexpected decision shocked senior leaders at the Homeland Security Department.

Weird language. Generally, we think of "officials" in government departments, not "leaders." Of course, under Fuhrerprinzip this may change...

This official said Kerik still had not filled out all his ethics filings — which would detail his sources of income and financial liabilities — and said the FBI background investigation of Kerik was still incomplete.

Meaning this Nanny hoo-ha was just the pretext for Kerik to bail, right?

But the only moderately troubling information uncovered...

By the Bush fluffers in our supine media, that is.

...about Kerik so far was news that Kerik had earned $6.2 million by exercising stock options he received from Taser International, which did lucrative business with the Department of Homeland Security, this official said.
(via AP)

Well. I don't find it troubling at all, not in the slightest, that Kerik is a coward who took only four months to screw up the Iraqi police force, then bailed. Or that he was fined for conflicts of interest. Or that his friends were. Or that he appointed fraudsters to office, screwed up the chain of command, and calls Democrats traitors (back) I mean, all that—especially the fraud part—is standard operating procedure for today's modern Republican!

But an illegal immmigrant for a Nanny? Now that's troubling...

White House punks 

The Amazin' Froomkin quotes a relentlessly on-message Inerrant Boy on Social Security:

[BUSH] "Therefore, the question is, does this country have the will to address the problem. I think it must. I think we have a responsibility to solve problems before they become acute. . . . [W]e must be willing to address this problem. . . . [T]he time is ready for us to solve this problem. . . . I think what's really important in the discussions is to understand the size of the problem. . . . What's important, Steve, is before we begin any discussion is to understand the scope of the problem. And that's why these trustees are vital in helping educate the American people, and Congress, as to the size of the problem. And I will not prejudge any solution. I think it's very important for the first step to be a common understanding of the size of the problem. . . . (via WaPo)

Right. "I will not prejudge any solution." [Cough. Gag. Vomit]

The Sex Pistols:

Too many problems oh why am I here
I don't need to be me
'cos you're all too clear
well and I can see
there's something wrong with you
but what do you expect me to do? ...

That's no problem
problems, problems
the problem is you

what you gonna do with your problem
(what you gonna do problem)

Set you thought you had it all worked out
Bet you thought you knew what I was about
Set you thought
you'd solved all your problems
but you are the problem

Oh what you gonna do with your problem I'll
leave it to you problem the problem is you.
You got a problem Oh what you gonna do
they know a doctor gonna fake you away
they take you away and throw away the key
they don't want you and they don't want me
you got a problem the problem is you
problems what you gonna do... (etc.)
problem... (etc.)
(The Sex Pistols, Problems)

If only Inerrant Boy was half the musician Johnny Rotten was....

Wall Street: We won't make any money if Social Security is privatized 

They've got a study! Issued from The Department of "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?"


Media whores oh-so-anxious to please Bush on Social Security 

Kevin Drum on CBS.

Turns out CBS showed what looked to be a man in the street who was in actuality a Heritage Foundation operative. Cowardly Broadcasting System indeed...

And a nice quote, also from Kevin Druma, on the Chilean experience with Social Security:

The World Bank found that half of the pension contributions of the average Chilean worker who retired in 2000 went to management fees. The brokerage firm CB Capitales...found that the average worker would have done better simply by placing their pension fund contributions in a passbook savings account.

Wow. I wonder which party the people who collect those management fees are from? Looting! After lying and lawbreaking, it's what Republicans do best!

The misdirection on armor for the troops begins 

Sure, Bush is speeding up production—why only now? Did God come to Him in a dream?—of armored HumVees at the (monopoly) supplier:

The Army entered negotiations with an armor manufacturer Friday in an effort to accelerate production of armored versions of the Humvee to get them to the troops more quickly, Army and company officials said.

Why only now? Why did it take a reporter and a soldier working together, and pressure from the Democrats, to get this done?

Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey spoke with officials at Armor Holdings, Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., who told him Friday they could increase production by up to 100 vehicles a month.

How odd. Didn't they know this before? I mean, they have time to make Bush a fancy new uniform with a special embroidered patch for a photo-op, and they don't have time to armor the troops? I don't get it.

Army officials had previously believed the factory was working at capacity until the company told the news media Thursday that it could make more.
(via AP)

Again, how odd. Thank heavens for a free press, eh? At least in Chattanooga.

Meanwhile, of course, alert reader Bryan (back) has already pointed out the misdirection. The Army is talking about a bad program for HumVees, because they have no program for trucks.

And specialist Wilson's question to Rummy was specifically about trucks (back).

The Glitch What Stole Xmas 

"We definitely did not have a glitch-free election," said EAC chairman DeForest Soaries Jr., a Bush appointee.

Doubts persist about U.S. election results

Ya think?

Dayton, Tennessee 1925 >>> Dover, PA 2004 

This train leaves for Scopesville:
Is Dover PA lining up for the honor of hosting the next "monkey trial"?
Runaway train in Dover schools | Everyone who might help stop the intelligent design express is jumping off. Thursday, December 9, 2004

Watching what's going on in the Dover Area School District is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The intelligent design express has gathered momentum and seems unstoppable except in a court of law.

by H.L. Mencken, September 14, 1925
The Baltimore Evening Sun

The Liberals, in their continuing discussion of the late trial of the infidel Scopes at Dayton, Tenn., run true to form. That is to say, they show all their habitual lack of humor and all their customary furtive weakness for the delusions of Homo neanderthalensis. I point to two of their most enlightened organs: the eminent New York World and the gifted New Republic. The World is displeased with Mr. Darrow because, in his appalling cross-examination of the mountebank Bryan, he did some violence to the theological superstitions that millions of Americans cherish. The New Republic denounces him because he addressed himself, not to "the people of Tennessee" but to the whole country, and because he should have permitted "local lawyers" to assume "the most conspicuous position in the trial."

Once more, alas, I find myself unable to follow the best Liberal thought. What the World's contention amounts to, at bottom, is simply the doctrine that a man engaged in combat with superstition should be very polite to superstition. This, I fear, is nonsense. The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame.

True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge. Did Darrow, in the course of his dreadful bombardment of Bryan, drop a few shells, incidentally, into measurably cleaner camps? Then let the garrisons of those camps look to their defenses. They are free to shoot back. But they can't disarm their enemy.

The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is sometimes greatly misapprehended. It is taken to be a sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control but also from public opinion. A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot. Is it to pass unchallenged? If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism. Any fool, once he is admitted to holy orders, becomes infallible. Any half-wit, by the simple device of ascribing his delusions to revelation, takes on an authority that is denied to all the rest of us.

I do not know how many Americans entertain the ideas defended so ineptly by poor Bryan, but probably the number is very large. They are preached once a week in at least a hundred thousand rural churches, and they are heard too in the meaner quarters of the great cities. Nevertheless, though they are thus held to be sound by millions, these ideas remain mere rubbish. Not only are they not supported by the known facts; they are in direct contravention of the known facts. No man whose information is sound and whose mind functions normally can conceiveably credit them. They are the products of ignorance and stupidity, either or both.

What should be a civilized man's attitude toward such superstitions? It seems to me that the only attitude possible to him is one of contempt. If he admits that they have any intellectual dignity whatever, he admits that he himself has none. If he pretends to a respect for those who believe in them, he pretends falsely, and sinks almost to their level. When he is challenged he must answer honestly, regardless of tender feelings. That is what Darrow did at Dayton, and the issue plainly justified the act. Bryan went there in a hero's shining armor, bent deliberately upon a gross crime against sense. He came out a wrecked and preposterous charlatan, his tail between his legs. Few Americans have ever done so much for their country in a whole lifetime as Darrow did in two hours.

That about says it all as far as I'm concerned. Likewise... I fully expect the network and cable "news" culture war wowsers to remain in shut-up mode - with respect to this entire "intelligent design" matter - until they get the green light from their right wing think tank handlers and public relations department fetish conjurors. Once they figure out how to game the issue as some kind big mean liberal atheist vs. helpless gurgling baby Jesus argument - or some other intoxicating brew of semantic hocus pocus and boo-scare lost morality tale drivel - all designed to provoke and titilate the stunted intelligence of the reactionary simians of the land, then, and only then, will the media's "official statement" readers and pundit squawks light up the big cross and begin fanning the smoke around the room. In any event, keep an ear to the tracks for that runaway train.

"Know your creationists" - UTI has profiles and background info.



Andrew Buncombe reports that this is the testimony of a former Marine who’s testifying in, yes, Canada, for the refugee status hearing of Jeremy Hinzman:

A former US Marine has claimed that he saw American troops in Iraq routinely kill unarmed civilians, including women and children. He said he had also witnessed troops killing injured Iraqi insurgents.

Jimmy Massey, 33, a staff sergeant who served in Iraq before being honourably discharged after 12 years' service, said he had seen troops shooting civilians at road blocks and in the street. A code of silence, similar to that found in organised crime gangs, prevented troops from speaking about it.

via The Independent

No wonder they love America. Remind me, which religions tolerate this kind of behavior? God is on whose side?

A “code of silence,” eh? Similar to “organised crime gangs,” huh?

Of course—that’s exactly what we’re dealing with in this administration. As the code of silence is broken, watch back for knife insertion. Tenet has a book coming out...

UPDATE: thedarkbackward in comments wonders what the American media is doing with stories like this testimony…

Antonia Zerbisias’ column in the Toronto Star reported recently on what the SCLM is doing with this and similar stories. Here’s a taste:

…here's a positive piece of media news from Iraq: Farnaz Fassihi, the Wall Street Journal reporter whose harrowing private e-mail to friends describing the hazards of Baghdad made international news, is back on the war beat after what many suspected was a month-long suspension. She returns despite vicious criticism from the right that she is too "biased" to work there — just because she felt it was a deadly situation.

But then, what would she know?

She's just there, in very real danger of getting killed. Stateside, she's threatened with being shot down, along with other reporters, just for telling the truth.

And you should read Fassihi’s email. Yeeesh.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


In a parallel universe not run by sociopaths
, not so far away...
A federal proposal to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians would be constitutional, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday in a unanimous opinion.

Prime Minister Paul Martin responding by saying that his government would introduce the new legislation "as soon as possible" in the new year. It will be a free vote, except that cabinet ministers will have to support the government position.

"I do believe it will pass the House," Mr. Martin told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, back here in the lunatic asylum, the prisoners are ratting each other out for a pack of cigarettes:
The leadership of the Human Rights Campaign, at a meeting last weekend in Las Vegas, concluded that the group must bow to political reality and moderate its message and its goals. One official said the group would consider supporting President Bush's efforts to privatize Social Security partly in exchange for the right of gay partners to receive benefits under the program.

Earlier, the HRC had considered, then rejected, supporting US attacks on civilians in Iraq in return for extended shopping hours at Crate & Barrel.

Goodnight, moon 

I've got to start decorating my tiny room under the stairs.

But... I... just... can't... stand... it....

The Wecovery: Jobs tanking, again 

And guess what! The economists are surprised again!

U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week in more worrying news for the labor market, government data showed on Thursday, while other indicators offered more positive signals for the economy.

The Labor Department said the new claims for jobless benefits grew unexpectedly last week to 357,000. A Reuters poll of analysts had forecast first-time claims would fall to 335,000 from 349,000 the previous week, which had been shortened by Thanksgiving Day.
(via Reuters)

Um, what was "unexpected" about it?

Can't we outsource the economists? If we got it wrong as often as they do, we'd be fired....

Oh, those pesky reporters! Planting questions for Rummy! 

Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts worked with the soldiers who asked Rummy the famous question. Drudge (via the Poynter Institute) has his email. Here's the question, and Rummy's stammering response:

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We’ve had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we’ve always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us? [Applause]

SEC. RUMSFELD: I missed the first part of your question. And could you repeat it for me?

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We’re digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that’s already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.
(Pentagon transcript)

Now, it turns out a reporter helped the soldier craft the question:

NEW YORK The editor/publisher of the Chattanooga [Tenn.] Times Free Press offered support late Thursday for his embedded reporter who has been criticized for working with a national guardsman to ask Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a controversial question during a visit to Kuwait.

Implying that the emperor has no clothes does tend to be controversial...

"I think he was doing what he felt he was embedded to do: tell the stories of the soldiers of this unit, " said Tom Griscom, editor and publisher of the paper. But he criticized his story about the incident, which did not mention the reporter's onnection to the soldier who ask the question.

The embed, Edward Lee Pitts, sought a response from Rumsfeld about why military units in Iraq are lacking proper armor for many vehicles. A lengthy email that he wrote to a fellow reporter ended up on several Web sites, including Romenesko, the Drudge Report and E & P Online, which Griscom lamented.

"He is there to write stories, not make news himself," Griscom said of Pitts

But since Rummy wouldn't take questions from reporters, the question otherwise might not have gotten asked. Is that what Griscom wants?

Griscom was communications director in the Reagan White House in 1987-1988.

He said Pitts' story on the incident, which ran Thursday, should have included an explanation of how the embed, barred from questioning Rumsfeld himself during an appearance in Kuwait Wednesday, convinced a Tennessee national guardsman to pose the question.
(via Editor and Publisher)

Aren't selective ethics strange? Rummy sends the troops off to war without armor. No ethics problem there. The soldier asks the question—and other soldiers cheer! Is there a problem there? I don't think so. What is the ethics problem? A reporter aggressively organizes a question...

Unbelievable? All too believable.Expect the winger frothing and stamping to begin...

IOYIYAR: Rummy gets a free pass on sending the troops into battle without armor 

Quoting Carl Luna's column almost in its entirety:

Just a passing thought. Back in 1993, following the infamous “Blackhawk Down “ disaster in Somalia, Clinton’s Secretary of Defense Les Aspin resigned amidst allegations that he had failed to provide the troops in Somalia with the armored support they needed to do their mission. House and Senate Republicans, including several who hold majority leadership positions today, were in the forefront calling for Aspin’s ouster.

Why then aren’t these same voices calling for the resignation of Donald “As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Rumsfeld? Aspin’s Somalian botch resulted in the deaths of 18 US servicemen and the wounding of 75. Rumsfeld’s apparent failure to insure proper armor protection for US troops has already, to date, resulted in more lives lost or maimed than happened in Somalia.

Meanwhile Rumsfeld’s off the cuff musings that, "If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up,” has to rank as one of the great non-sequiturs of any modern Defense Secretary. Does this mean you might as well go into combat naked, painted blue with beards tarred like the Celtic warriors of old? I thought the goal was to produce tanks that blew up the other side before they blew up you and armored vehicles that kept soldiers from dying at the hands of low-grade homemade bombs? Rumsfeld’s job is to make sure the troops go into combat with everything they need to minimize loses. That he should have done so and hasn’t is indicative of incompetence, if not outright criminal negligence. That he makes light of it by essentially telling the troops “Life’s not fair – tough cookies—borders on reckless endangerment. For Republican members of Congress not to call for his head, they way they did with Democrat Les Aspin a decade ago, is partisan hypocrisy of the most brazen and dangerous kind.

Support the Troops-- Dump Rumsfeld!
(via Union Tribune)

Well, of course we can't dump Rummy. He Who Does Not Make Mistakes just granted Rummy a second term. Let's be reasonable, here.

Rummy blames "physics" for troops not having armor 

Bush, of course, takes no responsibility at all. Alert reader Julia has the followup story.

The lie:

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday the Army was working as fast as it can and supply is dictated by ``a matter of physics, not a matter of money.''

The Truth:

Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, said it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army.

Leave it to a Republican to blame science—and then screw it up!

But, I thought "we make our own reality?" Can't Bush just pray, and have the armor delivered?

And, um, maybe there's a more earthly problem—not the lack of planning, but the fact that the armor manufacturer is a sole supplier, i.e. a monopolopy? Military industrial complex, anyone? Hey, I thought the free market was supposed to solve what Bush praying didn't...

Insurgent attacks on the vehicles with homemade bombs and rocket-propelled grenades are accounting for as much as half of the more than 1,000 U.S. deaths and 9,000 U.S. wounded in Iraq, according to Congressional estimates.

President George W. Bush said concerns raised by soldiers in questions to Rumsfeld yesterday in Kuwait are being "addressed," Bush said in response to a reporter's question. ``We expect our troops to have the best possible equipment. If I were a soldier overseas wanting to defend my country I'd want to ask the Secretary of Defense the same question, and that is are we getting the best'' equipment, he said. ``They deserve the best.''

No no. They deserved the best—back when the war was being [cough] planned. Of course, they didn't get it.

`Hillbilly Armor'

U.S. troops preparing for deployment to Iraq told Rumsfeld yesterday they are salvaging armor from landfills to install ``hillbilly armor'' on their Humvees. Rumsfeld replied that ``you have to go to war with the Army you have.''
(via Bloomberg)

Right. So, to show his contrition, Rummy's going to ride a bicycle from The Green Zone to the Baghdad Airport—naked. After all, if armor doesn't offer any real protection....

Oh, and it's nice to see the Dem on this one. Oh, wait...

UPDATE Alert reader Bryan distinguishes between HumVees and trucks. Note that Wilson was asking about trucks:

Specialist Thomas Wilson was not asking about Humvees. He couldn't care less about Humvees. If they produced Humvees with more armor than an Abrams tank it would have zero effect on the safety of Specialist Thomas Wilson and the other transportation units in Iraq because they load Humvees on the backs of the trucks they drive.

The Pentagon is talking about Humvees because they are doing something about them. They don't want to talk about trucks, because they have no program for upgrading trucks.

Spinal Column 

The little guy everyone made fun of is right. Dennis Kucinich:

…In the wake of the attack on Iraq, questions have been made regarding the responsibility of members of the Administration and their contractors, for authorizing torture, for the destruction and appropriation of property, unlawful confinement, attacks on civilians, attacks on civilian objects, exacting excessive incidental death, injury or damage, destroying or seizing the enemy's property, employing poisoned weapons, and outrages upon personal dignity, all of which constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity under the International Criminal Court statute, which entered into force on July 1, 2002.

Given the public record of its conduct in Iraq, is it any wonder that the Administration, in order to avoid accountability under the ICC for the results of its own directives, would go to extraordinary efforts to weaken and even destroy the ICC, and to threaten nations which support it with economic reprisals?

The Administration has told the American people that it refuses to participate in the ICC in order to protect our troops from being brought to the Hague. One might ask should troops be held accountable and those who sent them not be accountable? In fact, all troops are protected because there is a specific provision in the ICC in which all military personnel have the right to be returned to their home country for trial. The ICC gets involved only if a suspect is being "shielded from criminal responsibility."

It is more likely that those whose protection the administrators seek wear not the uniform of our nation, but the business suits of top civilian government officials who wrap themselves in the flag and hide behind the troops while insisting upon impunity for the deadly consequences of their own political decisions…

…The power of human unity is as inexorable as the power of human love. No matter how challenging things may seem in the moment, with compassion and patience we will create the world we seek, and those who today stand at the periphery of that world must continue to be welcomed inside, without fear...

The US Administration and The ICC

There are a few spines in the Congress.

Antiimperialist Platform, 1898 

How about this for for a frame? On June 15, 1898, the Anti-imperialist league was formed in response to the “war” in the Philippines. Their platform read, in part:

We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty and tends toward militarism, an evil from which it has been our glory to be free. We regret that it has become necessary in the land of Washington and Lincoln to reaffirm that all men, of whatever race or color, are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We maintain that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. We insist that the subjugation of any people is "criminal aggression" and open disloyalty to the distinctive principles of our government.

We earnestly condemn the policy of the present national administration in the Philippines. It seeks to extinguish the spirit of 1776 in those islands. We deplore the sacrifice of our soldiers and sailors, whose bravery deserves admiration even in an unjust war. We denounce the slaughter of the Filipinos as a needless horror. We protest against the extension of American sovereignty by Spanish methods.

We demand the immediate cessation of the war against liberty, begun by Spain and continued by us. We urge that Congress be promptly convened to announce to the Filipinos our purpose to concede to them the independence for which they have so long fought and which of right is theirs.

The United States have always protested against the doctrine of international law which permits the subjugation of the weak by the strong. A self-governing state cannot accept sovereignty over an unwilling people. The United States cannot act upon the ancient heresy that might makes right.

Imperialists assume that with the destruction of self-government in the Philippines by American hands, all opposition here will cease. This is a grievous error. Much as we abhor the war of "criminal aggression" in the Philippines, greatly as we regret that the blood of the Filipinos is on American hands, we more deeply resent the betrayal of American institutions at home. The real firing line is not in the suburbs of Manila. The foe is of our own household. The attempt of 1861 was to divide the country. That of 1899 is to destroy its fundamental principles and noblest ideals.

We deny that the obligation of all citizens to support their government in times of grave national peril applies to the present situation. If an administration may with impunity ignore the issues upon which it was chosen, deliberately create a condition of war anywhere on the face of the globe, debauch the civil service for spoils to promote the adventure, organize a truth-suppressing censorship, and demand of all citizens a suspension of judgement and their unanimous support while it chooses to continue the fighting, representative government itself is imperiled…

We propose to contribute to the defeat of any person or party that stands for the forcible subjugation of any people. We shall oppose for re-election all who in the white house or in congress betray American liberty in pursuit of un-American ends. We still hope that both of our great political parties will support and defend the declaration of independence in the closing campaign of the century.

Change a few dates and countries around, and voila! Found my online copy here:

Anti-Imperialist League - Platform of the American Anti-Imperialist League

UPDATE: Mark Twain, who was head of the Anti-Imperialist League for awhile, said this stunningly 2004 bit: "I thought we should act as their protector -- not try to get them under our heel.... But now -- why, we have got into a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of extrication immensely greater."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Kevin Drum finally realizes that the Republicans are out to wreck the Federal government.

Except for the parts of the Federal government that they can (a) loot or (b) corrupt to help them find and kill destroy their political enemies, Kevin might have added, but didn't.

Those bastards still can't get the troops armor 

And the troops know it. I wonder what they think about Rummy still having his job?

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (AP) - In a rare public airing of grievances, disgruntled soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday about long deployments and a lack of armored vehicles and other equipment.

"You go to war with the Army you have," Rumsfeld replied, "not the Army you might want or wish to have."

Heh. Right. "You [the troops] go," alright. None of the chickenhawks went, and none of their children go, either. "You go." Unbelievable.

Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked the defense secretary, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Shouts of approval and applause arose from the estimated 2,300 soldiers who had assembled to see Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., concluded after asking again.

Wilson, an airplane mechanic whose unit, the 278th Regimental Combat Team of the Tennessee Army National Guard, is about to drive north into Iraq for a one-year tour of duty, put his finger on a problem that has bedeviled the Pentagon for more than a year. Rarely, though, is it put so bluntly in a public forum.

Rumsfeld said the Army was sparing no expense or effort to acquire as many Humvees and other vehicles with extra armor as it can. What is more, he said, armor is not the savior some think it is.

"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can (still) be blown up," he said.

Right again. "You [the troops] can." Not the chickenhawks or their kids. But you know, Rummy's right! Why are we armoring anything? It's useless! I say, sell all the armor for scrap and go naked!

The deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Kuwait, Maj. Gen. AlbertGary Speer, said in an interview at Camp Buehring that as far as he knew, every vehicle deploying to Iraq from Kuwait had at least "Level 3" armor protection. That means it had locally fabricated armor for its side panels, but not bulletproof windows or reinforced floorboards.

Speer said he was unaware that soldiers were searching landfills for scrap metal and discarded glass.

Well, he should start paying attention. But of course, he's lying.

However, Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett, the adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard, disputed Speer's remarks. "I know that members of his staff were aware and assisted the 278th in obtaining these materials," he said.
(via AP)

But it is great that Bush issued that Executive Order thanking all the parents who sent their children body armor, and thanking all the Chambers of Commerce that put together armor kits for the Humvees, and not only thanking them, but reimbursing them.

Oh, wait.

That would imply that it was possible for Bush, who is, after all, The Chosen of God To Be Leader, could make a mistake. What was I thinking?

SCLM: A dinosaur with a brain the size of a walnut tries to stomp out the mammals 

Honestly, what is there to say about nonsense like this?

“[The question is] whether blogs are analogous to a sole person campaigning or whether they are very much a media publication, which is essentially akin to an online newspaper,” said [Goldberg, who is the legal counsel to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

“Ultimately, I think, the decision will have to come down to whether the public will be allowed to decide whether bloggers are credible or whether some regulation needs to occur.”
(via CBS)

Odd. Why wouldn't the public be allowed to decide? Odder still: Why would the industry in which Judith "Kneepads" Miller still has a job imagine that it has an iota of credibility?

But wait! There's more! Now these clowns are going for Atrios!

“The question is: What are the appropriate regulations on the Internet?" asked Kathleen Jamieson, an expert on political communication and dean of the Annenberg School for Communications. “It’s evolved into an area that we need to do more thinking about it.

Funny how nobody raised need to do "more thinking" when Matt Drudge was pimping leakes from the VWRC elves in their plot to overthrow Clinton.

And it's funny, too, how the SCLM just can't seem to get its facts straight:

The author of the popular liberal blog Atrios, Black wrote under a pseudonym.

Just like James Madison writing the Federalist Papers. What's the problem?

All the while, he was a senior fellow at a liberal media watchdog group, Media Matters for America.

"All the while"? Not so, as many of us know from personal knowledge (see Atrios).

“People are pretty smart in assuming that if a blog is making a case on one side that it’s partisan,” Jamieson said. “The problem is when a blog pretends to hold neutrality but is actually partisan.”

Somebody thought Atrios was pretending to be neutral? You could have fooled me!

That is not a legal problem, however, but an ethical one. Black eventually claimed credit for his blog and fellow bloggers heavily publicized his political connections. But he is still blogging.

"Eventually"?? "But he is still blogging?"??? Unbelievable?! All too believable!

And now the sting in the tail of the story:

Beginning next year, the F.E.C. will institute new rules on the restricted uses of the Internet as it relates to political speech.

Does this mean we won't be able to call them whores any more?

Let 'em try.

As always, the Internet will interpret censorship as damage and route around it....

Has Bush already militarized space? 

Yet another lunatic scheme...

Congress' new blueprint for U.S. intelligence spending includes a mysterious and expensive spy program that drew extraordinary criticism from leading Democrats, with one saying the highly classified project is a threat to national security.

In an unusual rebuke, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, complained Wednesday that the spy project was "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security." He called the program "stunningly expensive."

Rockefeller and three other Democratic senators - Richard Durbin of Illinois, Carl Levin of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon - refused to sign the congressional compromise negotiated by others in the House and Senate that provides for future U.S. intelligence activities.

The compromise noted that the four senators believed the mystery program was unnecessary and its cost unjustified and that "they believe that the funds for this item should be expended on other intelligence programs that will make a surer and greater contribution to national security."

Each senator - and more than two dozen current and former U.S. officials contacted by The Associated Press - declined to further describe or identify the disputed program, citing its classified nature. Thirteen other senators on the Intelligence Committee and all their counterparts in the House approved the compromise.

Despite objections from some in the Senate, Congress has approved the program for the last two years, Rockefeller said.

The rare criticisms of a highly secretive project in such a public forum intrigued outside intelligence experts, who said the program was almost certainly a spy satellite system, perhaps with technology to destroy potential attackers. They cited tantalizing hints in Rockefeller's remarks, such as the program's enormous expense and its alleged danger to national security.

A U.S. panel in 2001 described American defense and spy satellites as frighteningly vulnerable, saying technology to launch attacks in space was widely available internationally. The study, by a commission whose members included Donald H. Rumsfeld prior to his appointment as defense secretary for President Bush, concluded that the United States was "an attractive candidate for a Space Pearl Harbor."

Sending even defensive satellite weapons into orbit could start an arms race in space, warned John Pike, a defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, who has studied anti-satellite weapons for more than three decades. Pike said other countries would inevitably demand proof that any weapons were only defensive.

"It would present just absolutely insurmountable verification problems because we are not going to let anybody look at our spy satellites," Pike said. "It is just not going to happen."

Rockefeller's description of the spy project as a "major funding acquisition program" suggests a price tag in the range of billions of dollars, intelligence experts said. But even expensive imagery or eavesdropping satellites - so long as they're unarmed - are rarely criticized as a danger to U.S. security, they noted.

"From the price, it's almost certainly a satellite program," said James Bamford, author of two books about the National Security Agency. "In the intelligence community, it's so hard to get a handle on what's going on, particularly with the satellite programs."

Another expert agreed. "It's hard to think of most any satellite program, at least the standard ones, as dangerous to national security," said Jeffrey T. Richelson, who wrote a highly regarded book about CIA technology in 2001.
(via AP)

That Bush would militarize space comes as no surprise to Corrente readers; just like Iraq, militarizing space is part of the PNAC's plan (back here)


What with all the Dem-bashing lately, it’s time to reward good behavior… Dr. Dean:

Our challenge today is not to re-hash what has happened, but to look forward, to make the Democratic Party a 50-state party again, and, most importantly, to win.
To win the White House and a majority in Congress, yes. But also to do the real work that will make these victories possible -- to put Democratic ideas and Democratic candidates in every office -- whether it be Secretary of State, supervisor of elections, county commissioner or school board member.

If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.

It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate.

We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes.

We have to set the agenda.

We should not hesitate to call for reform -- reform in elections, reform in health care and education, reforms that promote ethical business practices. And, yes, we need to talk about some internal reform in the Democratic Party as well, and I'll be discussing that more specifically in the days ahead. via The Future of the Democratic Party

Yes, one county at a time, one precinct at a time… and then there’s Feingold remarking on Condoliezza:

The administration's record of the past four years suggests a foreign policy careening out of control, driven by ideologues who want to test their theories in the laboratory of the Middle East one minute, by domestic political considerations the next, and by spiteful attempts to punish those who disagree with their methods the next.

Where is this going? Who is in charge? Who knows? No one ever seems to be held accountable for the blunders, the failures, the wildly inaccurate presentations and projections or the painfully ineffective initiatives. Congress cannot simply accept more of the same, keep our heads down and hope that somehow we will muddle through. The stakes are far too high. Our national security, the stability of the world that our children will inherit, our troops - even our country's honor - are on the line. Congress has an obligation, not to oppose every administration effort, but to reassert our role in helping to steer the ship of state wisely rather than recklessly. I look at our foreign policy over the past four years, and I know that America is so much better than this. via "America Is So Much Betterthan This"

I sent ‘em each a nice thank you email.

Dead Kids Slip Under the Radar 

Look, you whining do-gooders, there’s a WAR on. We’ve got better things to do with our money…

LONDON, England (AP) -- The amount of aid rich countries give to poorer nations has fallen by half since the 1960s, risking the lives of millions of children, a leading development charity said in a report released Monday.

As a proportion of rich countries' income, aid has fallen from an average 0.48 percent in 1960-65 to 0.24 percent in 2003, Oxfam said. The United Nations has set a target of allocating 0.7 percent of national income to aid.

Oxfam said wealthy nations need to give more aid to help meet the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals, which include cutting poverty in half, reducing child mortality and improving education by 2015.

"As rich countries get richer, they're giving less and less. This is a scandal that must stop," Oxfam Director Barbara Stocking said. "The world's poorest children are paying for rich countries' policies on aid and debt with their lives."

Oxfam calculated that 45 million more children will die in developing countries between now and 2015 than if the world were on track to meet the U.N.'s goals. via CNN

45 million dead kids, a scandal? Oh, please, Barbara. Gay marriage, now THAT’S a scandal!
I am, yes, a believer in redistributing wealth. Instead of distributing bullets and bombs and spewing corporate pollution.

How best to achieve that? The UN?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

I's so glad the holiday season isn't stressful. Otherwise, I might feel tired and irritated.

What an asshole 

Patronizing, or what?

BUSH: Thank you very much, good job.


BUSH: We'll answer a couple of questions in the spirit of democracy.
(via White House transcript)


Florida vote-rigging: the programmer speaks 

A followup to farmer's post here, via Blue Lemur. One comment on what programmer Curtis says, posted there:

“If you inspect the code, you will see it,” [programmer Curtis] states. I understand this point.

“Once the vote is flipped, you will not.” What the hell does this mean?

We need to be as clear as possible when reporting on this issue and press on Mr.Curtis for further details. We don’t need another Karl Rove worm to spoil the hard work of ALL our net community members.


Thankyou for your bravery in these cowardly times but please provide more details.

Alert reader bobo mentions a thread on Slashdot: Hre it is. One good quote on the "you will not see it" after the vote issue:

Some of what hes said isn't entirely true - you could certainly find any rigging from looking at the binary, it might take allot of work but it would always be possible. What you really need is to have the program stored on a memory card in the machine, you could then design it to write over the incriminating parts of itself after the election. You would need two versions of the source code - one would be the dirty original which you would want to keep secret and the other would be the 'public' version which would compile to the identical binary that was in the machine after it had over-written itself, obviously you would have to prevent inspection of the binary in the machines until after the election and the whole thing would be very difficult to design, but do-able. Come to think of it, the diebold machines stored their programs on flash didnt they?

I dunno.

Alert readers stress the tinfoil hat stories that have later been shown to be true ("Killing Castro with an exploding cigar? Pshaw!"). Alert readers here, as did those at Blue Lemur, also stress the possibility of Dan Rather-style disinformation, where a discredited version of real events ended up obliterating the entire story. (Funny how it happens when we get close...).

It would be nice if Curtis kept a backup of the code, so we could test it and inspect it. That might, at least, answer some of the technical questions....


Not all churchgoers are evil. In fact, most churchgoers are good—and that's why The Evil tend to seek out churches and join them. Like many parasites, The Evil find the protective coloration provided by their lies useful. (The theology comes from M. Scott Peck.)

One of the latest examples: Mike Hintz (via Atrios).. Mike Hintz: Bush supporter, Assembly of God youth minister, family man—and child molester.

Yeah, I'd say that's evil.

Hintz certainly goes beyond the Pharasaical hypocrisy exemplified by other Republican idols like Bill Bennett, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Rush Limbaugh. (via Kos).

The falling dollar and reality therapy for the empire 

Remember this one? From the senior advisor to Bush?

"We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. "
(Ron Suskind in the Times here)

When the sun never set on the British empire, Britain was a creditor nation. The whole world owed them money.

But nobody has ever explained how the US can be an empire as a debtor nation. Presumably, if we're an empire, we need a strong military. And we buy our oil for our tanks, the metal for our armor, the chips for our avionics from other countries. If the dollar collapses, how are we going to continue to do that? Nobody has explained, least of all the Republicans.

Here's a frightening article on the dollar from the UK's Economist (via Josh Marshall here)

The dollar has been the leading international currency for as long as most people can remember. But its dominant role can no longer be taken for granted. If America keeps on spending and borrowing at its present pace, the dollar will eventually lose its mighty status in international finance. And that would hurt: the privilege of being able to print the world's reserve currency, a privilege which is now at risk, allows America to borrow cheaply, and thus to spend much more than it earns, on far better terms than are available to others. Imagine you could write cheques that were accepted as payment but never cashed. That is what it amounts to. If you had been granted that ability, you might take care to hang on to it. America is taking no such care, and may come to regret it.

The dollar is not what it used to be. Over the past three years [the dollar] has fallen by 35% against the euro and by 24% against the yen. ... [C]an a currency that has been sliding against the world's next two biggest currencies for 30 years be regard

A fall in the dollar sufficient to close the current-account deficit might destroy its safe-haven status. If the dollar falls by another 30%, as some predict, it would amount to the biggest default in history: not a conventional default on debt service, but default by stealth, wiping trillions off the value of foreigners' dollar assets.

The dollar's loss of reserve-currency status would lead America's creditors to start cashing those cheques—and what an awful lot of cheques there are to cash. As that process gathered pace, the dollar could tumble further and further. American bond yields (long-term interest rates) would soar, quite likely causing a deep recession. Americans who favour a weak dollar should be careful what they wish for. Cutting the budget deficit looks cheap at the price.

Not, of course, that we would ever claw back any of the money we gave the super-rich for the tax cuts they don't need, and which haven't stimulated jobs...

Can Bush believe that the US is "too big to fail?" I certainly hope we don't get the chance to test his theory.

Maybe without an empire we can be a Republic again... But it sounds like the collapse of the dollar is a very heavy price to pay for that. But then, reality therapy is often painful

Florida vote-rigging; election "steroid" use Republican style 

Pump me up mister programmer...

Via Blue Lemur
In sworn affidavit, programmer says he developed vote-rigging prototype for Florida congressman; Congressman’s office silent. [corrente ed note: Republican Tom Feeney's office]

In a sworn affidavit (pdf file) Monday, a former programmer for a NASA contractor said that he developed a vote-rigging prototype at the request of a then-Florida state representative who is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

RAW STORY acquired the affidavit from The Brad Blog, which has been in contact with the programmer in Washington.


The programmer, Clinton Curtis, said that he was told the program needed to be "touch-screen capable, the user should be able to trigger the program without any additional equipment, [and that] the programming was to remain hidden even if the source code was inspected."

In the vote fraud prototype that I created things are not what they seem. Hidden on the screen are invisible buttons. A person with knowledge of the locations of those invisible buttons can then use them to alter the votes of everyone before them. By clicking the correct order of invisible buttons the candidate selected by the user is compared to other candidates within that same race. If the candidate they selected is leading the race nothing happens. If the other candidate is leading the race the vote totals are altered so that the selected candidate is now leading the race with 51% of the vote. The other candidates then share the remaining 49% in exact proportion to the totals they had previously. In the prototype supplied to Feeney the vote totals show on the screen. In an actual application the user would receive no visible clues to the fraud that had just occurred. Since the vote is applied by race, any single race or multiple races can be altered. The supervisors or any other voter would never notice this fraud since no visible sign would appear. Additionally, the procedure could be repeated as many times as was necessary to achieve the desired results. No amount of testing or simulations would expose the fraud as its activation and process is completely invisible to everyone except the person programming the vote fraud routine.

The same procedure could be automated to activate without any user intervention whenever the machine detects a certain pattern of voting. The algorithm could also be altered from hidden keys or triggers that would allow the fraudulent user to manipulate both the margins and percentages of any particular race. In most national elections it is not necessary to win every area. - Clinton Curtis

Thanks to The Dark Backward for the heads up on this story.

UPDATE: More details from Wayne Madsen

UPDATE2: Yang family $$$ contributions to Feeney campaign - 2004:

[1] Yang, Tyng Lin Yang Enterprises Inc./president 1,250 06/23/2003 Merritt Island FL 32952

[2] Yang, Li-Woan Yang Enterprises Inc./ceo 2,000 03/23/2004 Merritt Island FL 32952

[3] Yang, Li-Woan Yang Enterprises Inc./ceo 2,000 09/05/2003 Merritt Island FL 32952


One Nation Driving Under the Influence... 

Easter Sunday, April 16, 1933:
A state that once again rules in God's name can count not only on our applause but also on enthusiastic and active cooperation from the church. With joy and thanks we see how this new state rejects blasphemy, attacks immorality, promotes discipline and order with a firm hand, demands awe before God, works to keep marriage sacred and our youth spiritually instructed, brings honor back to fathers of families, ensures that love of people and fatherland is no longer mocked, but burns in a thousand hearts.... We can only plead with our fellow worshipers to do all they can to help these new productive forces in our land reach a complete and unimpeded victory. ~ Official blessing of Nazism - endorsed and delivered by Bavarian Protestant pastors - Germany, 1933.


Aiming for a Frame--Help. 

Via AP:
Speaking on the 63rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Bush was to express appreciation for the troops' service and their families' sacrifice, especially during the holiday season. He also was to suggest ways Americans can actively support the troops.

Several options include a Defense Department program called "America Supports You," designed to showcase support for the military from individuals, businesses and groups as a way of encouraging others to do the same.

Media control. Support our troops. Danger all around us. Be afraid. Wait! Look, a nurse handing out condoms to teenagers!

...Let me begin by counter-posing two different conceptions of democracy. One conception of democracy has it that a democratic society is one in which the public has the means to participate in some meaningful way in the management of their own affairs and the means of information are open and free....

An alternative conception of democracy is that the public must be barred from managing of their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled. That may sound like an odd conception of democracy, but it's important to understand that it is the prevailing conception....

Duh! I read this from Chomsky ten years ago. How could I forget?

The bewildered herd is a problem. We've got to prevent their rage and trampling. We've got to distract them. They should be watching the Superbowl or sitcoms or violent movies. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like "Support our troops." You've got to keep them pretty scared, because unless they're properly scared and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous, because they're not competent to think. Therefore it's important to distract them and marginalize them.

When you have total control over the media and the educational system and scholarship is conformist, you can get that across... The picture of the world that's presented to the public has only the remotest relation to reality. The truth of the matter is buried under edifice after edifice of lies. It's all been a marvelous success from this point of view in deterring the threat of democracy, achieved under conditions of freedom, which is extremely interesting. It's not like a totalitarian state, where it's done by force. These achievements are under conditions of freedom. If we want to understand our own society, we'll have to think about these facts. They are important facts, important for those who care about what kind of society they live in. Media Control

Wow--there's a lot in there. This is the model of democracy we are exporting under the gun. Support the troops—nevermind the policy. Look, over there—it’s a (insert scare du jour). But as malleable as this “democracy” is to the regime, aWol himself said that a dictatorship is easier.

Maybe someone smarter than me and less academic than Chomsky can frame this in a more useful way.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Funny how AQ blowing up the American embassy in Saudi Arabia is just another yawner now that the election is over, isn't it?


Digby. Go read.

OPEC slowly easing out of the dollar, into the Euro 

Thanks, George!

ember nations of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have cut the proportion of their deposits denominated in dollars by more than 13 percentage points in the past three years, mainly to the advantage of the euro, the Bank for International Settlements said Sunday.
(via Times)

Let's hope the dollar just keeps sliding, and doesn't crash, eh? After all, that would leave millions of Japanese and Chinese widows, whose governments bought our bonds, holding the bag!

Oh, but wait! Paying for our SUVs and our wars with funny money! That's a cute trick! What will those Republicans think of next?

Reid on Social Security 

This I like. Guess I went nucl-ee-ar on Reid too soon. Typical Lambert. Sorry, guys. Good message here:

MR. RUSSERT: Private accounts for Social Security--the president has made that a priority of his domestic agenda. Will you work with him in privatizing part of Social Security?

SEN. REID: Tim, I can remember as a little boy my widowed grandmother with eight children. She lived alone, but she felt independent because she got every month her old age pension check. That's what this is all about. The most successful social program in the history of the world is being hijacked by Wall Street. Yes, Social Security is a good program. And if the president has some ideas about trying to improve it, I'll talk to him, and we as Democrats will, but we are not going to let Wall Street hijack Social Security. It won't happen. They are trying to destroy Social Security.

MR. RUSSERT: No private accounts?

SEN. REID: They are trying to destroy Social Security by giving this money to the fat cats on Wall Street, and I think it's wrong.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, there are now 40 million people on Social Security. In the next 20 years, there's going to be 80 million. Life expectancy used to be 65 years old. It's approaching 80. If you have twice as many people on these programs for 15 years, you've got to restructure them in some way, shape, or form. What is your solution?


MR. RUSSERT: What is your alternative?

SEN. REID: Tim, all experts say that Social Security beneficiaries will receive every penny of their benefits that they're entitled to--100 percent of them--until the year 2055. After that, if we still do nothing, they'll draw 80 percent of their benefits. I want those beneficiaries after year 2055 to draw 100 percent of their benefits. But this does not require dismantling the program. For heaven's sakes, they're crying wolf a little too regularly here. There is not an emergency on Social Security. We can do this. The president should not try to jam this private accounts in an effort to destroy Social Security.
(via MSNBC)

One idea that is implicit in what Reid is here is that the Republicans have a very narrow notion of family values. Never mind the gay marriage stuff—the wingers don't have a notion of an extended family that can stretch across several generations, which is what Social Security does. Reid made me think about something that I never thought of before: That since Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program, I've been paying for my Mother's retirement, in the expectation that I too, would be taken care of. And now that I think about it, I'm proud to have given my Mother that money. Certainly it was better to give her a guarantee too, which is what the payroll tax does, or would do if the Republicans weren't trying to steal it.

So, ownership society? Screw that! I'm taking care of my Mom.

UPDATE The Howler has more.

Reid on Scalia, the full transcript 

OK, I was wrong (here) to trash Reid. The material AP left out of the story is underlined:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to judicial nominations. Again, Harry Reid on National Public Radio, November 19: "If they"--the Bush White House--"for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong. If they give us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his opinions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind."

Could you support Antonin Scalia to be chief justice of the Supreme Court?

SEN. REID: If [SCalia] can overcome the ethics problems that have arisen since he was selected as a justice of the Supreme Court. And those ethics problems--you've talked about them; every people talk--every reporter's talked about them in town--where he took trips that were probably not in keeping with the code of judicial ethics. So we have to get over this. I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy. And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute. So...
(via MTP)

OK. So it was part of a "clever plan" Crafty Reid is setting up the counterpunch. Too bad he thinks the SCLM still reports the news....

So, has the DLC really been infiltrated by Republican moles? 

Just asking.

So, um, why hasn't someone bootlegged the famous Rob Stein Powerpoint? 

You know. The one that details the VWRC and its funding sources (Kos, today, and back)

Just asking.

I mean, maybe ordinary Democrats should be able to see it?

Just When I Thought It Couldn't Get Worse... 

Welcome to Thieresenstadt. Form a line over here, please, to enter the "model city…"

Returning Fallujans will face clampdown

By Anne Barnard / Boston Globe

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of this battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find that the measures make Fallujah look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised.
Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.

Badges, huh? I guess armbands and patches would be so, well, you know… I mean, it’s been done. Oh, and in case you were wondering why… I mean, the overall strategy:

"You have to say, 'Here are the rules,' and you are firm and fair. That radiates stability," said Lieutenant Colonel Dave Bellon, intelligence officer for the First Regimental Combat Team, the Marine regiment that took the western half of Fallujah during the US assault and expects to be based downtown for some time.

Bellon asserted that previous attempts to win trust from Iraqis suspicious of US intentions had telegraphed weakness by asking, " 'What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah [stuff]," he said. "They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.' We need to be the benevolent, dominant tribe.

"They're never going to like us," he added, echoing other Marine commanders who cautioned against raising hopes that Fallujans would warmly welcome troops when they return to ruined houses and rubble-strewn streets. The goal, Bellon said, is "mutual respect."

See, you just have to understand how these people THINK. For the record, I am not a member of your “benevolent, dominant tribe.” Although I suspect that this may just be a dress rehearsal for when they come after me with the retina scanners and benevolent cavity searches, and so forth… for non-compliance, of course. Failing to understand my own best interests. No! They would never do that!

One big happy family! 

Oh, that liberal media!

Clear Channel Communications Inc., the nation's largest radio station operator, has picked FUX News Radio to be the primary source of national news for most of its news and talk stations, officials announced Monday.
(via AP)

Prophets of lunacy... 

Doyle Davidson - 'Muriken Kook
Pastor Decried After Child's Arms Severed
Sun Dec 5, 5:49 PM ET U.S. National - AP
By LISA FALKENBERG, Associated Press Writer

PLANO, Texas - Long before Dena Schlosser took a blade to her baby's arms, her parents had begun to worry. In the years after she moved to Texas with her husband and children, their gentle, dependent daughter had become increasingly isolated. And, according to her stepfather, she was dangerously consumed by a self-described prophet and his church.

Dena's stepfather, Mick Macaulay, said that although he blames mental illness for Schlosser severing the arms of 10-month-old daughter Margaret and leaving her to die, he believes the teachings of Doyle Davidson also played a role.

"I don't think there's any question that what we saw happen here is postpartum psychosis," Macaulay said in a telephone interview. "But that doesn't mean there aren't dynamics in force to push the person toward the psychotic break."

Schlosser was charged with capital murder after police found the 35-year-old mother on Nov. 22 covered in blood in her living room, still holding a knife.


Schlosser received psychiatric treatment for postpartum depression and the agency determined she was stable in August.

By then, though, Schlosser's association with Davidson's church had intensified, Macaulay said.

He said Davidson used violent imagery and told women they possessed a rebellious "Jezebel" spirit, and that they should submit to their husbands, he said.

"I'm not saying that anybody suggested 'Go cut your baby's arms off,'" said Macaulay, a mental health counselor who lives with Schlosser's mother, Connie, in Canada. "This diminishing of women, this diminishing of women's powers, women's importance, referring to women as jezebels, I think, further undermines an already fragile ego state that Dena's experiencing."

That's absurd, the 72-year-old minister said.

"I'm an apostle and I'm a prophet," Davidson said. "I only teach what's in the Bible and that's what makes them mad."

Davidson, a former veterinarian, said God told him to start Water of Life Ministries in suburban Dallas in the early 1980s. His sermons, based on literal interpretations of the Bible, are available on his Web site and broadcast on TV and radio in several states.

He refers to Methodist, Catholic and Baptist denominations as cults and believes the Ten Commandments apply only to the disobedient, not the righteous.

Davidson doesn't deny his teachings are unconventional. He said he avoids violent imagery, but he does teach that women are weaker and should submit to their husbands.

He also said he isn't well-liked by much of the religious community, and he was removed from the Daystar Television Network, a major Christian broadcaster, after his sermons offended top officials.

In September, Davidson was arrested on a public intoxication charge after a couple, longtime members of his church, called 911, alleging the minister attacked them at their home. Davidson said he was only trying to cast the devil out of the wife, who had become rebellious and rejected his teachings. He said he entered the home with the permission of her husband.

The couple told police Davidson choked the woman. The couple declined to press assault charges and several calls by the AP to their home went unanswered.

Davidson said he believes the incident was a "setup of Satan himself to try and destroy my ministry."

Davidson claimed he's had little interaction with Dena since the Schlossers began attending his roughly 200-member church in 2002.

Look, over there, a lesbian!


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