Saturday, December 18, 2004

Lesson 1: Get ALL the URL's 

(via Chicago Tribune)
A public relations onslaught for [Illinois] Gov. Rod Blagojevich backfired Friday when state school officials mistakenly promoted the wrong Internet site for his new crusade against violent and sexually explicit video games, directing Web users to one that ridiculed the governor.
Compare and contrast:



Oh Lord 

People do weird things when they're bored and lonely...but they do really awful things when they're scared:

(via Raleigh-Durham NC News & Observer)
A North Carolina National Guard member thought to be the first U.S. soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi said he "snapped" and shot the 17-year-old boy after they had consensual sex, according to court-martial records released this week.

Pvt. Federico Daniel Merida, 21, of Biscoe, a tiny town south of Asheboro, pleaded guilty during a court-martial in Iraq to shooting the Iraqi national guard private, whose name the Army withheld. The Los Angeles Times reported shortly after the court-martial that the victim's name was Falah Zaggam

According to the records, Zaggam and Merida were on guard duty May 11 in a tower on the perimeter of an Army camp near Tikrit in northern Iraq. About 10:30 p.m., Merida shot Zaggam repeatedly with his M-4 carbine.

The "gay panic" motive was the third that Merida offered. He first told investigators that Zaggam demanded money at gunpoint. Later, he said he killed Zaggam because the boy forced him to have sex.

Merida was sentenced Sept. 25 to 25 years in prison and reduced in rank. He will be dishonorably discharged. Friends and family members wrote the Army asking for a reduction in Merida's sentence, citing the fact that his son, a toddler, needs him and that his wife speaks little English and relies on him. Merida was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and moved to the United States as a child.

Guten abend 

From an EasyInternetCafé™ near Zoo Station, Berlin:

EasyInternetCafé™ is a great European invention: a coin-operated Internet cafe. Costs only two Euros per hour—sure, that's what, ten American dollars, but still, compare Kinkos! And naturally, where you have access to information, you want acccess to caffeine; as true in in the 21st Century as it was in 18th Century London. In the US, the caffeine that comes with your bytestream generally comes burned, as at Starbucks, or faux European, as everywhere else. And the last time I was in Berlin, it was just the same: Espresso, little pastries... But in 2004, the Europeans have taken globalization to heights undreamed of in America: Every EasyInternetCafé™ now has an on-site Dunkin' Donuts! Tell me it's not a great continent!

Anyhow, I just took the train in from Paris—and it wasn't on time! Rim shot. Thanks, I'll be here all week—or as long as it takes me to learn this German keyboard! As Groucho Marx said: Put it in a box—it'll never get there in brackets. Because I can't *£%T&"*$& find them!

But seriously folks...

I went over to Unter den Linden this afternoon. Past the Stalinist weddingcake architecture of the Russian embassy, past the Hotel Adlon, where Goering and his posse once chilled, through the Brandenburg gate, and down a path into the Tiergarten which, unlike, say, Central Park, is not a park or a lawn, but a forest, and quite a dark one; for a moment, the Tiergarten seemed a small survival, a remnant of the urwald that once covered Europe, but of course it's third or fourth growth: 1945 would have blown down all the trees in its path.

When the path through the Tiergarten opens onto the city again, there is the Reichstag. I waited in a long line to get in, and had plenty of time to contemplate
the Corinthian columns, the metal motto ("Dem Deutchen Volke") across the plinth, and under the plinth, three initials&emdash;FIII,WI, WII. Three emperors, the last ("Wilhelm II") the last of his line, and the last ruler of an empire that no longer exists on any map, and perhaps not even any culture: Prussia. After unification, of course, the Germans hired Norman Foster, the great architect, to make the building fit for democratic uses, which he did,
, by placing a transparent dome over the deliberative chambers. Within the dome, there is a wooden, spiral staircase that leads to a platform at the top. So, the people can climb, figuratively and literally, above the people's house. They can look up at the sky, and look down at, and on, their representatives at work.

I'd hoped to get into the Reichstag again, and climb up to the top of the dome, but the line was too long and it was too cold. So I walked back to the Brandenburg gate, and stopped to read the historical plaque.

Two words jumped out: Massenmord and Katastrophe. Nothing new under the sun.

No political institution is forever, is it? And human evil always endures.
Wansee is not just a stop on the U-Bahn...

So, our Constitution, with its Bill of Rights, its checks and Balances, could be no more permanent than the Prussian Empire—or the Roman Republic. And evil, ever changing and never changing, reproduces by taking the human faces, and the human hosts, appropriate to its time. Leading me to recommend to you, once again, the work of M. Scott Peck: People of the Lie (POTL). In examining evil, Peck comes to three conclusions, which are certainly relevant when thinking about the thirties, and may be relevant today. (1) The evil can be recognized by their pervasive, promiscuous lying. Lying is central to their identity. (2) The evil, like all of us, surround themselves with people who are like them. They cluster. And, not relevant to the thirties, but perhaps relevant today, (3) the evil congregate in churches, as a form of protective coloration. (Not to say that all, or even a significant minority of the churchgoing are evil; indeed, it is because most are good that the evil find protective coloration there.)

And yet I love Berlin...

So, good night...

I live in Bobo's World 

Yeah, folks, I live in Maryville, in Nodaway County, Missouri, the location of this whole sick affair with poor unfortunate Bobbi Jo Stinnett. The best local coverage of it is here. Skidmore is about 12-15 miles from my house.

I'd really like it if my town, Maryville (the county seat), was on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News simultaneously for, um, a different reason. (They played our sheriff's press conference live on all three news networks at 6:00 last night.)


Oh yeah, you're right, Skidmore is that town too.

al-Sabah Doesn't Live Here Anymore 

Manzanar, here we come:

Nearly half of Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.

The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.

Of course they do. This isn't something important, like "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Gotta have priorities, you know.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Skidding In Sideways 

In a cheerful Friday-night, holiday-spirit, channelling Hunter Thompson-ish sort of way, we present, (via a comment thread over at Atrios, posted by one Konopelli)

Holiday warnings!

1. Avoid carrot sticks.
Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit.
In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving stollen and rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare.
In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now.
So drink up!
Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it.
That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk.
If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating.
The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free.
Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do.
This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge.
Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each.
Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake?
Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.
Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by:
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
With all due respect to the "live forever or die trying" crowd, I am more inclined to the "Everything in moderation...including moderation" point of view. We spend way too much time afraid, and not enough doing things to repent about on our deathbeds. Go, shoo, get out of here and do something outrageous. Piss off the fundies by enjoying yourselves at all times.

All Enemies Foreign and Domestic 

I get nervous any time I hear of military people moving into political turf. This time I think these guys are doing their duty, to the Constitution to which they swore an oath:

(via NYT)
Several former high-ranking military lawyers say they are discussing ways to oppose President Bush's nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to be attorney general, asserting that Mr. Gonzales's supervision of legal memorandums that appeared to sanction harsh treatment of detainees, even torture, showed unsound legal judgment.

Hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination are expected to begin next month. While Mr. Gonzales is expected to be confirmed, objections from former generals and admirals would be a setback and an embarrassment for him and the White House.

Mr. Gonzales, as White House counsel, oversaw the drafting of several confidential legal memorandums that critics said sanctioned the torture of terrorism suspects in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and opened the door to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

A memorandum prepared under Mr. Gonzales's supervision by a legal task force concluded that Mr. Bush was not bound either by an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation.

The memorandum also said that executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons, including a belief by interrogators that they were acting on orders from superiors "except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful." Another memorandum said the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Mr. Hutson, who is dean and president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H., said that Mr. Gonzales "was not thinking about the impact of his behavior on U.S. troops in this war and others to come."

"He was not thinking about the United States' history in abiding by international law, especially in the wartime context," he said. "For that reason, some of us think he is a poor choice to be attorney general."

Brig. Gen. James Cullen, retired from the Army, said on Wednesday that he believed that in supervising the memorandums, Mr. Gonzales had purposely ignored the advice of lawyers whose views did not accord with the conclusions he sought, which was that there was some legal justification for illegal behavior.

The memorandums produced largely by lawyers in the Justice Department and other government agencies created great bitterness at the time among military lawyers, who said they were not consulted.

Quite a bit snipped here, but I didn't see this get much play in either the over- or underground media* so thought I would post it.

*Looking for new, short terms for the "mainstream media" and the news-oriented blogosphere. Suggestions welcome.


if one man had designed the Titanic and the Hindenburg, and then was put in charge of the space program.
Jon Chait on conservative economist Martin Feldstein's discredited spiel about taxes at W's lame "economic summit" about the "financial challanges" we face today.

You know it's tragic that these folks don't see the utter moronic idiocy of going down the supply-side economic road once again. If you compare economic growth in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the 90s had the most growth, the 1970s second, and Reagan's 1980s come in a distant third.

So much for the efficacy of tax cuts to spur the economy, eh?

It didn't work the first time and it won't work now.

This would all be great comedy if we weren't all being dragged along for the ride -- and if it wasn't you and me and our children and grandchildren that were going to be paying the bill for this monumental idiocy on the part of W and the Republicans.

Reailty Bites 

Paul Martin comes clean as a member of the reality-based community:

Prime Minister Paul Martin said Tuesday he does not believe the U.S. ballistic missile shield will succeed in shooting down incoming rockets, as he threw up new roadblocks to counter President George W. Bush's strong appeal for Canada to join his continental defence plan.

Zoot alors! No wonder they have a $10B surplus. What next?
In another issue that could cause friction with Bush, Martin said Canada was prepared to accept U.S. citizens who do not want to serve in the war in Iraq.

"In terms of immigration, we are a country of immigrants and we will take immigrants from around the world. I'm not going to discriminate," said Martin, when reminded that former prime minister Pierre Trudeau opened Canada's doors to draft dodgers and deserters during the Vietnam War.

This is really intolerable. If we all don't clap our hands and believe, the terrorists will surely win. What ever happened to our President's recent "charm offensive"?

Guess Canadians got the second part.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

MoDo Reads Corrente! 

How do I know? What are the odds of the name Melanie turning up two days in a row?

(via NYT)
Why should it just be parents of kids in Iraq who send them compasses and Kevlar vests? Everybody wants to support our troops.
If the Olympics can attract top corporate sponsors, why can't Rummy's Global War on Terrorism? Bring it on, Bank One!

Picture this: a truck rumbling across the desert on the evening news, completely armored and emblazoned with golden arches. Or a fleet of Visa Humvees. You know Donald Trump would love to slap his name on a few Chinooks. The 82nd Trumpborne.

And what about product placement? When soldiers give their Christmas greetings on Fox News or MSNBC, they could be holding cans of Pepsi or calling home on Samsung phones. Why merely send their love when they could be writing love letters in the sand on Apple computers?

Like athletes or Nascar drivers, they could sell every inch of their body: STP helmets, Nike boots, Staples "Yeah, we got that" dog tags, Starbucks M.R.E.'s, CamelBak canteens by Camels, Sony laser target designators.

All those old, out-of-shape reservists being dragged back by Rummy would be great pitchmen for arthritis medication. And Celebrex night vision goggles.

The really big corporate sponsors might set up some hospitality yurts dispensing Wellbutrin in the desert. Sure, security's so bad that Rummy was afraid to go any farther than Kuwait last week, but Michael Eisner might want to visit with some Disney imagineers and check out a different kind of Fantasyland: the neocon variety. Mr. Eisner could use some good publicity.

In this day and age, when every sports arena has been hideously renamed for some corporate entity - like Minute Maid Park in Houston, Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and FedEx Field in D.C. - Rummy could easily think big.

So how about Tommy "Stop Writing Books and Finish the War" Franks, Paul "You Disbanded the Iraqi Army, Dummy" Bremer and George "Slam-Dunk" Tenet taking off those preposterous Medals of Freedom and contributing them. Just as Scarlett and Melanie took off their gold wedding rings for the Confederate cause, those medals can be melted down for a little Humvee armor.

With help like that and some corporate support - maybe Levitra could even sponsor his next trip to Iraq - Rummy could get the Army he wants and wishes to have sooner rather than later. Like, while we're actually fighting a war.
I had originally saved her column on The Twelve Days of Rummy from a couple days ago but didn't get time to post it. Just as well, this one is better.

Zealous Prosecution 

Smoking Gun of Election Fraud is in Ken Blackwell’s Hand, says Anthony Wade of OpEdNews:

On Friday, Ken "GOP Whore" Blackwell decided to stop the legal recount being conducted in Greene County Ohio, in mid-count. When the volunteers asked under what authority they were being stopped they were told that Ken Blackwell had determined that “all voter records for the state of Ohio were “locked-down,” and now they are not considered public records.” For those who may have been unaware due to the media lockdown, Ken Blackwell is not only the Ohio Secretary of State, but he was also the State Chair of the Bush reelection campaign.

Conflict of interest anyone? Katherine Harris redux anyone?

Now, here is the kicker. Blackwell not only did not have the authority to take this action, he is actually in violation of the law. Ohio Revised Code Title XXXV Elections, Sec. 3503.26 that requires all election records to be made available for public inspection and copying. ORC Sec. 3599.161 makes it a crime for any employee of the Board of Elections to knowingly prevent or prohibit any person from inspecting the public records filed in the office of the Board of Elections. Lastly, ORC Sec. 3599.42 states: “A violation of any provision of Title XXXV (35) of the Revised Code constitutes a prima facie case of election fraud within the purview of such Title.”

Read the whole enchilada here: www.OpEdNews.com

Glad to see the zealous prosecution here. Where’s Ohio’s Ken Starr? Oh, well. At least the media is all over this, so I'm sure justice will be done and Blackwell will be held accountable. Oh, wait…

Kerik fiasco: The nanny never existed?!?! 

I have to run and catch a plane, but this is just too, too beautiful... Kerik really is the gift that keeps on giving, isn't he?

The Nanny probably doesn't exist.

Wonderful the way these guys just make shit up, isn't it?

Yuletide cheer, Alberto. You vetted the guy.


The "Kinsey" movie is coming out. That means loony Judith Reisman will be haunting every talkshow for the next two solid weeks.

Who's Judith Reisman, you ask?

Read this.

Here's a clip to whet your appetite:
Bill Condon's new movie, "Kinsey" may have reawakened America's interest in the largely forgotten but influential post-War era sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey, but for Judith Reisman, he has been a singular obsession for decades. Reisman has cast herself as the anti-Kinsey, a self-styled moral monger in an existential – and admittedly personal – battle with the forces of cultural decay and sexual permissiveness. In her writings and lectures, Reisman conjures a dark world in which Playboy magazine insidiously pushes kiddie-porn, where homosexuals crusade for the hearts and behinds of America's youth and "erotoxins" as powerful as crack cocaine fill the somatasensory cortexes of porn watchers. From Reisman's writings and lectures, one could get the impression that this world is entirely the creation of Kinsey, the Master of Perverts.

While Reisman's ideas have naturally endeared her to a Who's Who of ornery theocrats and survivalist militia types, in recent years she has found herself kibitzing with the likes of GOP senators and Bush administration officials. Though the "Dr." that precedes her name on her book and her web site is practically cosmetic, earned with a degree in communications, this November she provided expert testimony on Capitol Hill for Republican Sen. Sam Brownback on the scientific perils of pornography. There, she also lobbied for the reintroduction of a bill that would mandate an investigation into her claim that Kinsey sexually abused children during his research. Through friends in the Justice Department, Reisman has helped push for an increased focus on prosecuting porn. And she is a favorite speaker at conferences of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, a federally funded non-profit which provides technical assistance to controversial abstinence-only programs in public schools. As Reisman gathers influence in Republican-dominated Washington, her work is bearing an increasingly apparent mark on the Christian right's political agenda and by extension, on the White House's social policy.
I could tell Reisman was crazy from the stories I read about her in the Bloomington Herald-Times back in the early 90s while I was in grad school at IU. She was on a jihad against Kinsey back then.

And let me tell you the H-T is a truly bad newspaper and I could still tell she was stark-raving mad from their coverage!

These are the loons that the illiterate and incompetent Bush administration are bringing in to help write social policy folks.

Scary, huh?

You there! Your support means a great deal to Tucker Carlson and David Brooks. 

Don't forget to go over to Wampum Blog and nominate us for something or other. It doesn't really matter what. We'll take whatever we can get at this point. Hell, make something up. Best blog post involving a man and a deer and a gun and a series of life and death situations. That'll do.

If you do not choose to praise us I'll be compelled to send Pete Deer and my crazy nervous brother Randy over to Tucker Carlson's house to shoot at his holiday lawn ornaments and strangle him with an outdoor extension cord. So don't press your luck. Go here now: 2004 Koufax Awards

Hey, wait a minute. Forget that! I know what you're thinking: where's the incentive in that? Let em strangle Tucker Carlson with an extension cord. Who the hell cares? Ok, I see your point. Well, suppose I send em over to David Brooks's place to steal his liquor and chop off the tips of his fingers with a brush cutter machete and... uh, oh, wait, no no, forget that too. Ok, look, just forget the whole thing for now until I can work this out.

And by the way: WTF is it with the giant inflatable holiday lawn ornamnet crap now-a-days?

GZS H. Christ. As if it weren't bad enough when this kind of obnoxious shit was only four feet tall. If I lived next door to these idiots I'd call up John McCain's wife Cindy and have her murder the whole family with a hatchet on Christmas Eve.

Hey, that's it! Why didn't I think of that before. If you do choose to vote for us for something or other I will have Randy call up Cindy McCain and "persuade" her pay a visit to...

...well, you know what I mean. It's a win win situation. There are no losers here at Corrente.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Travelling for the holidaze tomorrow, so very light posting.

You'd think the Dems could put together a counter Economic Summit, maybe even with real professional ecnomists instead of serivce providers from the winger think tanks, just to suck a little air out of Bush's coverage, but n-o-o-o-o-o.....

Got Yer New Homeland Security Chief Here, Chief! 

Don't worry about that "vetting" stuff Boss--this guy is a real go-getter, just the sort of young fella who likes you, which is the kind of young fella you like. Yeah, he's had a couple of hard knocks in his past that the damn press likes to pick on people for, that'll blow over in a couple of weeks.

(via Philly InkWire)

By Mark Fazlollah
Inquirer Staff Writer

John "Digger" Dolan, a former president of the Main Line Young Republicans, likes to drive a Mercedes and hobnob with politicians.

Dolan, 44, now of Wilmington, considers himself a soldier in the war on terror. He designs telephone software for that war, and he's offered it to Uncle Sam - with help from a friend.

U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R., Delaware County) has twice asked House committees to allot $5 million for Dolan's software company. In June, Weldon asked the CIA's chief of clandestine services to meet with Dolan.

There's another side to Dolan, though: He drinks and drives. When he's caught, he sometimes drops names: Weldon, Tom Ridge, the Department of Defense.

Dolan faces sentencing today in Delaware County, where in 2002 he drove drunk into a crowd of July 4 revelers in Radnor. Between 1988 and 2003, he had five drunken-driving convictions, resulting in jail terms ranging up to six months.

When Philadelphia police stopped him in March, they say he reeked of alcohol and couldn't recite the alphabet, but managed to tell them to "call Tom Ridge."

Dolan has also used another man's identity. Last month, as an Inquirer reporter looked on, Dolan answered in a Philadelphia courtroom to another man's name. That man says he has tried to get his old ex-friend Dolan to stop using his name.

Dolan, interviewed in jail on Dec. 4 after an arrest in Maryland, said any news article about his driving record would hurt the war on terror. "You're helping the enemy if you write about it," Dolan said at the Cecil County jail, where he was serving 10 days for disorderly conduct.
I suppose it would be hard to prove that every slick-talking scam artist with a taste for drunk driving, name-dropping and sucking at both the public and venture-capitalist teat is a Republican...but let's just go way out on a limb in this case. Go read the rest if you need a laugh.

I Am Shocked, Shocked! I tell you. 

And I'm sure Mr. Leavitt is just so very, very sorry that the people named just MUST be sacrificed to pay for tax cuts for the rich:

(via Clarion-Ledger (I think))
Michael Leavitt, President Bush's choice to be secretary of Health and Human Services, may have to cut billions of dollars from the government's mammoth health programs for the elderly, poor and disabled to pare the budget deficit.

The Medicare and Medicaid programs, consuming nearly $500 billion a year and growing quickly, could be vulnerable in the context of last year's $413 billion budget deficit, the ongoing war in Iraq, costly domestic security commitments and administration plans to revamp Social Security without raising taxes.

Bush selected Leavitt, the Environmental Protection Agency chief, on Monday, filling one of the last two openings in his second-term Cabinet. Bush praised Leavitt as a "fine executive" and "a man of great compassion ... an ideal choice to lead one of the largest departments of the United States government."

Before becoming governor, he was chief operating officer of the Leavitt Group, a family insurance firm in which he maintains an investment worth between $5 million and $25 million, according to a financial disclosure report he filed in 2003.

The company owns 100 independent insurance agencies that sell supplemental Medicare policies, among other insurance products, according to company literature.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, "We're confident that Gov. Leavitt will take the necessary steps to avoid any conflicts of interest." Donna Shalala, a Democrat, called him "a very skillful administrator and manager."

Leavitt shares Bush's enthusiasm for market-based approaches to fixing problems.
I'm also sure Mr. Duffy has had his already-atrophied ethics gland surgically removed in order to be able to make those "conflict of interest" statements with a straight face.

O Loyal Opposition, go forth and oppose this dipshit, okay? And may Donna Shalala be cast as Zell Miller's sidekick on his new Fox TV gig and never cited as a "Democrat" in public again.

Whiney Joe not a total whore! 

Good for him!

Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman has twice in recent days said "no" when approached about the possibility of a major job in the second Bush administration, CNN has learned.
(via CNN)

Of course, I'd prefer that the Dems actually had their own Rove, someone who could have left a horse's head in Whiney Joe's bed....

No, this big! 

Unfazed by being humiliated by Bush, who first wanted to dump him, but then couldn't find anyone reputable to replace him, John Snow compares his package to Rummy's (back).

Militarization of space continues apace 

Guess those Europeans aren't so stupid after all. They may have an informational warfare thing going:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush has ordered plans for temporarily disabling the U.S. network of global positioning satellites during a national crisis to prevent terrorists from using the navigational technology, the White House said Wednesday.
(via AP)

Well, um, read on, and you'll that, as usual, terrorism is just the excuse for something far worse.

The GPS system is vital to commercial aviation and marine shipping.

The president also instructed the Defense Department to develop plans to disable, in certain areas, an enemy's access to the U.S. navigational satellites and to similar systems operated by others. The European Union is developing a $4.8 billion program, called Galileo.

"Also." Right.

The directives to the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department were part of a space policy that Bush signed this month. It designates the GPS network as a critical infrastructure for the U.S. government. Part of the new policy is classified; other parts were disclosed Wednesday.

Gee, I wonder what the classified part is? I wonder if it works at well as Bush's anti-missile fiasco? Or is it just defense contractors at the public tit again? (back)

The White House said the policies were aimed at improving the stability and performance of the U.S. navigation system, which Bush pledged will continue to be made available for free.

Right. Bush "promises," a sure sign it won't be free for long.

Bush also said the government will make the network signals more resistant to deliberate or inadvertent jamming.

Weird. It's not resistant to jamming now? If true, what a total fuckup, given that GPS is a critical part of our infrastructure...

In any case, the militarization of space was recommended by the PNAC (back), the same neo-con cabal that recommended Iraq, so having already had his punch telegraphed, I can't imagine why Bush imagines he can keep militarizing space a secret...

Lizzie "Girl Reporter" Bumiller holds Bush accountable for something! 

And how often does that happen, eh? (Sure, I know it's the Times, but there's such a horrid fascination to this train wreck of a story I can't help looking at it....)

The story of Mr. Kerik's nomination is one of how a normally careful White House faltered because of Mr. Bush's personal enthusiasm for Mr. Kerik, a desire by the administration to quickly fill a critical national security job and an apparent lack of candor from Mr. Kerik himself.
(via the sadly-sadly-dimished New York Times)

Lizzie even writes about the beauty part:

[Kerik's] use of an apartment, donated as a resting spot for police officers at ground zero, where he conducted an affair with [wingerly] book publisher [Judith Regan, 51], according to someone who discussed the relationship with him..

Well, I'd say Kerik was using the apartment as a "resting spot," wouldn't you? What's the issue here? Be reasonable, people! Hey, maybe he was giving her Bible lessons!

And now we come to Department of [cough] Justice nominee, Alberto "Der Fluffmeister" Gonzales:

Mr. Gonzales, who is himself in the middle of a background review as Mr. Bush's nominee for attorney general, spent hours grilling Mr. Kerik, the official said.

Some grilling! Gonzales managed to miss the mob ties, the illegitimate child with the abandoned wife, the outstanding arrest warrant, the conflicts of interest, the quick exit from Iraq... Literally everything, and all material easily available to even our lazy press corps.

Of course, we know that Gonzales is notoriously, indeed lethally, careless (Death Penalty Memos). His only redeeming characteristic is his "loyalty" to Bush (i.e., he's a total suck-up and a yes man).

In fact, you really get the impression that Bush is the kind of boss you can't tell bad news to—because he's vicious, retaliates, won't listen, etc. Far worse than anything in Dilbert:

Throughout the process, the Republican close to the administration said, everyone at the White House knew that Mr. Bush liked Mr. Kerik, placing him in the special category of "this guy's our guy." Mr. Bush admired Mr. Kerik for his service as New York City's police commissioner on Sept. 11, 2001, for his willingness to try to train the police force in Iraq and for campaigning tirelessly for the president's re-election.

Yep, "this guy's our guy." And you can see, with Bush whoring and shilling 9/11 every chance that he got, why a guy who used an apartment donated to the 9/11 first responders for a fuck pad would fit right in!

Unbelievable? All too believable.

Can anyone translate this? 

Radio Boy on Social Security [cough] reform:

Bush refused Wednesday to provide details.

"The great desire for people in Congress is for me to negotiate with myself," he said. "And therefore, I will continue to articulate principles that I think are important and reach out to members of both parties to fashion a plan that solves the problem."
(via San Jose Mercury News)

That's just silly. Since Inerrant Boy speaks with the voice of God, why would He need to negotiate with himself?

Accounting for Murder and Torture 

Abhinav Aima slaps around those who deserve it…

…As this nation’s newspapers salivate over the possible trial of Pinochet over Operation Condor, no American newspaper listed in the Lexis-Nexis archives has yet published a story this past month that even dares to put the name Nixon in the same story as Pinochet. None. In the last 30 days!

…Why are most American-sponsored foreign leaders usually former salesmen for gas, oil, weapons, drugs or any other commodity thereof? Don’t rely on the Times or the Post to tell you. Not when it was the anti-Sandanista Contras, and certainly not when it is the anti-Taliban Afghans.

Killing Us Softly: The Cowardice of the Mainstream Press in the Face of American Wars

When (if) Pinochet goes on trial, will he rat anybody out? How about when (if) Saddam goes on trial?

For those who don’t remember Pinochet and Nixon’s love affair, try Chile Documentation Project where you will find such things as this:

FBI documents on Operation Condor--the state-sponsored terrorism of the Chilean secret police, DINA. The documents, including summaries of prison letters written by DINA agent Michael Townley, provide evidence on the carbombing assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C., and the murder of Chilean General Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires, among other operations.

These documents, and many thousands of other CIA, NSC, and Defense Department records that are still classified secret, remain relevant to ongoing human rights investigations in Chile, Spain and other countries, and unresolved acts of international terrorism conducted by the Chilean secret police. Eventually, international pressure, and concerted use of the U.S. laws on declassification will force more of the still-buried record into the public domain--providing evidence for future judicial, and historical accountability.

Accountability? Is that possible? With our press? If so, how long will it take to hold Bushco accountable? Another 30 years?

Coming Next: Ten Commandment Tattoos! 

I'm sorry, I know this stuff is serious, part of an unceasing crusade by the American Taliban--but try to read this without picturing Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes sitting on the bench hearing this poor guy's DUI appeal:

(via Alabama news feed)
A south Alabama judge refused to delay a trial Tuesday when an attorney objected to the judge wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered in gold on the front of the garment.

Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan showed up Monday at his Covington County courtroom in Andalusia wearing the robe at the start of a week of jury trials of cases that were being appealed from lower courts — mostly cases like driving under the influence and possession of marijuana.

Attorneys who try cases at the courthouse said they had not seen the judge wearing the robe previously. The commandments were described as being big enough to read on the robe by anyone near the judge, but not like eye-catching slogans on T-shirts.

Andalusia attorney Riley Powell said he was defending a client charged with DUI and filed a motion objecting to the judicial robe and asking that the case be continued. He said McKathan denied both motions.

"I am all for the Ten Commandments for me personally and for my family," Powell said. "But I feel this creates a distraction that affects my client."

McKathan told The Associated Press that he believes the Ten Commandments represent the truth "and you can't divorce the law from the truth."

"The Ten Commandments can help a judge know the difference between right and wrong," McKathan said.

He said he doesn't believe the commandments on his robe would have an adverse effect on jurors.

"I had a choice of several sizes of letters. I purposely chose a size that would not be in anybody's face," McKathan said. He said he does not always wear a robe in court, but plans to wear the Ten Commandments robe on a regular basis.
So let's decide who to blame here. My nominees:

1) CJOTUS Wm. Rehnquist, for those Gilbert & Sullivan-ish sleeve stripes. He should race NASCAR in such an outfit.

2) Morton Haack and John Intlekofer [uncredited]: Costume designers, 1968 version of "Planet of the Apes"

3) Roy Moore, unemployed ex-judge, High Priest of the Sacred Rock Idol ((c) 2003, R. Moore, it sez on the rock)

4) "Judge" McKathan's parents, for naming their son "Ashley" in this day and age. Having a sister named Melanie I realize that there was a whole generation sadly influenced in offspring-naming program related matters by "Gone With the Wind," in which a male named Ashley played a prominent role, but sheesh!

5) Nominee of your choice.

One Way Wanda's "Christian" Jihad 

Earlier last evening, while listening to Pat Buchanan making grunting noises about the outrages of something he called "Christianophobia" - an exciting new buzzword the mob-baiters at MSNBC's Scarborough Country have, apparently (?), invented - I dunno... but anyway, it occured to me that maybe he's right. Maybe Falangist Pat's on to something here. Maybe there is a toxic "Christianophobia" fermenting in the outlands. And maybe this new so called phobia has become more potent and apparent because of stuff like this...

Some rattleskulled village bigot named Wanda lights up a cross for Dear Leader and the greater glory of the Christian Cultural Revolution. Listen to this bullshit:
Christians Are Taking Back America - LINK
by: wanda_for_decent_values (47/F/Des Moines, IA)
12/13/04 10:29 pm

And we are THROUGH kowtowing to muslims, atheists, homosexuals and anti-American "artists" living on our tax dollars!

By the end of President George W Bush's 2nd term:

1) Iraq will be well on the way to being a peaceful Christian country. Once Iraq has gone Christian, the Gospel of Jesus will spread throughout the Middle East. The region will be at peace and millions of Arab souls will be saved through the grace of Jesus Christ.

2) Bush will have appointed at least two USSC Justices and the baby slaughterhouses will finally be closed down forever.

3) Gays will be put back in the closet for good. The sodomy and decency laws will be reinstated and their disgusting disease spreading activities will be outlawed again. Maybe we can’t get rid of them, but we can get them out our children’s view.

4) School vouchers will allow parents to send their kids to decent Christian schools instead of the NEA-infested cesspools that exist now.

5) Worthless liberal social welfare programs will be dismantled and replaced by Christian faith-based government funded programs. People will finally get REAL help through Jesus Christ.

6) Filthy shows like Howard Stern, Jerry Springer and Will & Grace will be off the air and replaced with decent Christian family programming. Families will once again be able to turn on the radio or television and not be embarrassed to listen or watch together.

7) The abominable scourge of Internet pornography will end with the expansion and ENFORCEMENT of the Online Decency Act. Pornographers who expose the public to this sickening material will be behind bars where they belong.

You can be with us or against us, but you had BETTER believe one thing:

Christians are DONE sitting at the back of the bus.

Done finished sitting in the back of the bus huh? Well, good. Lets hope those Christians leave their seats, walk to the front of the bus, grab Wanda by the scruff of her red theofascist-state sponsored neck, bid her adieu, and heave her stupid ass out the door at the next bustling intersection.

"Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain." ~ Iowa State Motto.

And don't you forget it - Wanda.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Welcome back, Xan. Sorry, readers, my posting has been so light. The Holidaze....

Fool me once... 

Yep, the media fix is definitely in on helping Bush gut Social Security.

Remember CBS's "man in the street" interview on Social Security? The one where the man in the street Tad DeHaven just happened—incredible but true—turned out to be a shill for the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute?

Now the straight-out-of-Dawn-of-the-Dead Times does the same thing with "single mother" Sandy Jaques, who is a winger Astroturfer and anti-Social Security activist (via Josh Marshall.

Coincidence? You be the judge!

Funny how they just can't seem to find any real men in the street or single mothers, eh? I wonder why that is?

Pretenders in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 

In the middle of the road
Is my private cul de sac

Listening, Dems?

War Criminal Rumsfeld Builds His Monster 

The following is an exchange between Lawrence R. Velvel, Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law and Scott Horton, Committee on International Law, NYNY. Read entire post/exchange HERE

Dear Colleagues:

The attached e-mail, a response to a blog posting called The Neroes Fiddle While the Humvees Burn, is from the Chairman of the International Law Committee of the prestigious Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The e-mail contains information that I think is shocking.

Scott Horton: Chair, Committee on International Law, ABCNY:
Dear Dean Velvel,

Another good column. Of course, as Joe Conason points out in his piece on salon.com posted this morning, this was the second or third time soldiers in the field had put just this question to Rumsfeld--the story goes back at least to a May 13, 2004 townhall meeting in Baghdad. In my view, Rumsfeld's responses show a callous indifference to the plight of soldiers in the field--a shocking attitude to find in a secretary of defense.

Our group at the Bar here have been studying recently disclosed documents from the CIA, DIA and FBI which relate to the abuse of detainees in Guantanamo (and elsewhere). One thing emerging from these documents is that Donald Rumsfeld personally authorized the abuse or torture of detainees, and that the CIA, DIA and FBI all felt the "extreme" measures he authorized were illegal and unethical. Another thing that we see is that the worst abuses are done by some special ops groups which are being directed straight out of the Office of Secretary of Defense, with Undersecretary Steve Cambone and LTG Jerry Boykin clearly exercising operational control over them. We can now link the Cambone-Boykin special ops groups to at least two cases of apparent torture-murder as to which investigations are mysteriously stagnant.

"Tell Wind and Fire where to stop, but don't tell me.":

In March 2002, a presidential commission led by retired Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, the first President Bush's national secuity adviser, recommended that three key Pentagon-financed intelligence agencies- the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency- be placed under the control of the director of the CIA. This was a serious challenge to Rumsfeld's empire. On June 21, 2002, Secretary Rumsfeld responded with what U.S. News & World Report called a "brilliant stealth attack." He quietly inserted in a Senate defense bill the authority to create a new undersecretary of defense for intelligence. "The new undersecretary position is a bureaucratic coup that accomplishes many Pentagon goals in one fell swoop.... [Rumsfeld] is creating another DCI [director of central intelligence] for all practical purposes. The new undersecretary is Rumsfeld's neocon crony Stephen Cambone. He has been given authority over the three nonmilitary intelligence agencies plus the Defense Intelligence Agency. According to Jay Farrar, a former employee in the Defense Department and national Security Council who works with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a conservative think tank, "It's one more step in the Defense Department seeking to consolidate major control over the intelligence apparatus of the United States." ~ from "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic", by Chalmers Johnson; page 127

RELATED Via Common Dreams:
Published on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 by Reuters
Rights Group Puts Rumsfeld on Spot Over Afghan Deaths

KABUL - An international rights group said it knows of more prisoners dying in U.S. military custody in Afghanistan and called on Washington to reveal details of the cases.

In an open letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Human Rights Watch revealed two new cases of deaths in custody and demanded an investigation into a third that took place three months ago.


On the Shoulders of Giants 

Happy Birthday, Daniel De Leon.

With the reactionary and therefore conservative ballot of the capitalist parties, backed by their guns, the oppressing class seeks to conserve its usurped position and continue to enjoy its stolen goods. Biography of Daniel De Leon

Now, remember that quote. A Native friend stopped by this morning to buy some chickens and we ended up drinking coffee and talking, and the conversation came around to this history class he’d taken at the tribal college and the text for the class had a chronological history of events in Native history, and he said he read it every day to see what had happened. He mentioned that his book said that on this day in 1763 was the Conestoga Massacre. He told me what he remembered, and so this led me to the history books at the library, where I had to go to return some books, anyway. And he was right. I paraphrase from several accounts:

A group of men from Paxton Township (Pennsylvania) wanted to destroy the entire tribe of Conestoga Indians, a relatively peaceful tribe who had had good relations with the settlers. On December 14, 1763 the “Paxton Boys” attacked the Conestogas. Only 14 Native American men, women, and children survived. For their own protection, the remaining Conestogas were kept at the Water Street jail in Lancaster. They safely remained there for two weeks. Then on December 27 the murderers came back to town, broke into the jail, and slaughtered the remaining 14 survivors. These were the last of their tribe. After this the “boys” marched on Philadelphia. They were persuaded to return to their homes by a group headed by Benjamin Franklin, who promised the Assembly would authorize paying bounties for Indian scalps.

This foul taste of history led me to a chronological history of socialism, where I found out it was Daniel De Leon’s birthday. And his quote jibed with the account of the slaughter of the Conestogas so well, I just had to post them together.

Now, on to iWaq to continue to enjoy god’s promise of prosperity to his chosen; that is, stolen goods.

Ozymandian - moronic inferno: 

First of all I just want to point out that I am not a Christian. At least I don't think I am. Then again maybe I am. I'm not really sure.

As a small child I was briefly subjected to the rituals and oratorical ravings of the Catholic mass. My mother was a loyal visitor to one Roman Catholic emporium or another and for many years I would accompany her on some of these visitations. I was also present for some pseudo cannibalistic orgy called a first communion. But I recall little of the affair or how exactly I came to earn a place at such an occasion in the first place. What I vividly remember of the event for the most part was being fed an tasteless ash-dry wafer which unfortunately sequestered itself on the roof of my mouth... without me fully understanding why I was being subjected to such cuisine in the first place. Ultimately this experience caused me to begin gagging and cacking and retching.

Panic stricken I reeled up, tongue lolling wildly about in my head, I dropped thrashing to the floor where I dislodged the terrible thing with one of my ten fingers and flung it away from me like someone freeing themselves from the strangling coils of a small python. So concluded my religious training.

My father never showed any interest whatsoever in these sacrosanct junkets and instead spent his Sunday's yelling at lawn mowers or wading a trout stream flinging dry flys into the tangled voracious dry fly eating foliage overhanging shady fishy pools. For which he would then give thanks by offering a few words on behalf of some holy order of deciples called the God Damned Dirty Bastard Sons of Bitches. Whoever they were. Just to acknowledge, one would surmise, God's divine role in the ill conceived placement of tangled voracious overhanging frondescence.

Then he'd thrash his way out into the creek to engage in a hellish battle of wits pitting man v. tangled foliage v. monofilament and leader. Once again unleashing an additional round of firey sermonizing which I will refrain from repeating here but much of which was also preached to the lawn mower on various alternating sabbaths.

Since my dad seemed to spend a good deal more time actually conversing, more or less, directly with the father, the son, and the holy goddamned ghost, it seemed logical to me that I'd probably stand a better chance of actually getting to know the Creator if I were allowed to follow my old man's strict regimen of worship. As opposed to being strangled to death by some hoo-doo shaman with a rosary garrotte, a small smudgepot of smoldering incense and a bag of stale cookies.

In any case, what I'm getting at here, is that aside from the occasional wedding, or funeral, or baptismal dip, I haven't attended a church for any good reason in decades. Which leads me to believe that my original subscription to Catholicism ab ovo usque ad mala may have fully expired. Hoo-boy.

I bring all of this up because I'm satisfied that it qualifies me as some kind of specialist on the subject of theology and religion and other important stuff in general and I just wanted you all to be aware of my flawless credentials. Plus, I have a fancy degree from an art school where I spent several years looking at Italian Renaissance oil paintings and illuminated manuscripts depicting fat naked ladies and Saints and white guys on horses with swords. Not necessarily in that order or all on the same page. If ya know what I mean. I've also read a good deal of Will and Ariel Durant's History of Western Civilization, which I've thouroughly enjoyed and would recommend to anyone. Although, if you're over the age of fifty, and still haven't cracked one of these volumes, I would suggest you hop to it because, assuming you live to be ninety, you might still keel over stone cold dead before you flail your way through forty percent of the material contained therein. Tick-tock. Times a wastin'.

Also, I believe, given my obvious expertise, that I'd make a good religious figure. In fact I'm thinking of becoming one sometime after the new year. It's a lucrative and lively trade and clearly in demand. I'm thinking of something in apocalyptic end time prophecy sales, management, and dispensational accounting. Possibly publishing. But I still think it might just be more fun to buy me a used camper van and a catering tent and hit the road as the Pastor Animus Poole; The Bawl and Jump Hellfire Hotdog! Hally-loo-yah.

Why the hell not? Hey, it's become increasingly evident to me that American Christianity is sinking rapidly to the bottom of the genotypical pond. Sinking like a sack of sash weights. Not to mention drowning aesthetically. Retreating back to some kind of fundamental primordial infantile playpen where it will ultimately, in the end, lay gurgling like an imbecile, batting stupidly at whatever colorful blowmold plastic gee-gaw is dangled before it's worshipful eyes. Religion as teething ring, rattle, and inflatable "terror-eyes yellow balloon."

I offer you privilege and amnesty from tribulation. A secret rapture will be yours alone on the condition of absolute faith in my Word. You will join an Elect, moral, virtuous, purged of original sin, peoples - just like you - sulphur free, and you will return a conqueror. Redeemed. Kind of like a membership to Sam's Club but without the parking congestion. Go forth and multiply. Everything, and I mean everything, you need to know to secure your own salvation and future heroic legacy is available on six easy to use video tapes for three easy payments of $19.95 each. Restrictions may apply. And on and on and on.

A few summer seasons of this kind of hornswoggle and harangue and I could afford to buy myself a small market radio station and and/or a Republican House Rep from xxxxx and then perhaps a gaudy television ministry complete with phone banks with hotline to the fabulous beyond - if ya know what I mean - and a vacation home in the Florida Panhandle... and so on and so on and so on.

On the other hand - I could just go ice fishing with my brother. Imagine that.

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair."


The Sociopathology of the Troll 

Very interesting item yesterday (or maybe the day before? I haven't been on vacation in sunny Guantanamo, just hideously busy which makes my time sense more warped than usual) from our esteemed friend Juan Cole.

It's a slighly different topic from his usual fare but one which he has had cause to look into since he became the target of a very well-organized witchhunt. (Go read back a few days, but the the short version is, the Likudniks are gunning to shut him up from telling inconvenient truths.)

Starting from an item at Martini Republic he discourses as follows:
The phenomenon of blog trolling, and frankly of blog agents provocateurs secretly working for a particular group or goal and deliberately attempting to spread disinformation, is likely to grow in importance. It is a technique made for the well-funded Neoconservatives, for instance, and I have my suspicions about one or two sites out there already.

The manipulation of public information by rightwing think tanks in collusion with corporate media is already well advanced. Kevin Drum points out that supposedly "liberal" CBS News interviewed a think tank author on the need to "privatize" (in other words, get rid of) Social Security, portraying him as an ordinary 28 year old citizen who "doesn't expect the program to be there" when he retires. I guess not, since he is working so hard to destroy it. Journalistic ethics should have required CBS to identify the interviewee as a principal with an axe to grind.

Will the blogging world go the same way? So far, if you look at the top hundred sites at technorati.com with regard to incoming links, what is striking is how above-board they are. Is the collective wisdom of the blogging world such as to reduce the dangers here? Is the blogging world actually less open to manipulation than corporate media? Stay tuned.
There have been some very ominous statements made in DC of late on the "need for regulation of the Internet" in such areas as political fundraising and a widely-quoted remark by ex-CIA chief Tenet on the need for "greater security" on the Net. At the same time we are seeing individual reporters being threatened with, or actually subjected to, jail time for upholding the right to protect sources.

Frankly, folks, I think They are out to get all of us in the news-dissemination business. Shut us up, shut us down, or scare us into self-censorship. I guess I have to take back the rude things I said about Judith "Kneepads" Miller earlier this year and stick up for her too (ack, hack, gag, but oh well.)

CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW...ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS. That's it. If that goes down the Republic goes with it.

Calling Bullshit on "The Social Security Crisis" 

A superb analysis--NOT an op-ed or opinion piece, just actual, factual analysis, with real numbers, in terms anybody can understand--about how the current hysteria over "the looming Social Security crisis" is the biggest bunch of hoo-haw since, oh gee, maybe the hysteria about "the looming crisis of Sadaam Hussein" and how Iraq was going to use their Gliders of Mass Destruction to wipe out YOUR neighborhood any day now.

(via LATimes)
Even before settling on a proposal to privatize part of Social Security, President Bush is mounting an aggressive campaign to convince the public of something that many Democrats and economists say is mistaken: that the massive government retirement system is hurtling toward disaster.

Three times in the past week, Bush has created or used public relations events to promote his view that Social Security is facing a dire financial threat and needs major repairs. Most recently, Bush said in his Saturday radio address that "the system is headed towards bankruptcy down the road. If we do not act soon, Social Security will not be there for our children and grandchildren."

The issue will also be central to a White House conference scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday meant to draw attention to Bush's economic agenda for the next four years.
Having lavished this story with praise I now have to find fault with one thing: they left the whole point, the motivation for this latest batch o' lies, to the very last graf:

Said Grover Norquist, president of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform: "Social Security should be reformed not because the system is going broke but because it's a lousy program."
There, you have it. The hysteria IS a lie, the program is NOT going broke, the Thugs hate it because it's a government program that works and helps average, not-rich people. Repeat this to everybody you see. Don't let the lie take hold this time.

Hey, the letters-to-the-editor editor at the local paper misses you, (s)he really does. You two were so close once, then suddenly you never write any more. Now is the time to get back in touch. This relationship can be saved.

Forgotten But Not Gone: Trent Lott 

The tiresome thing about stomping weasels is how many, many times you have to stomp them before they're actually all the way gone:

(via Jackson MS Clarion-Ledger)
Since losing his job as Senate Republican leader two years ago, Trent Lott has used his encyclopedic knowledge of Congress and deal-making prowess to remain one of the most effective members of the Senate.

"He's regained esteem," said Marty Wiseman, head of the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University, noting that Lott's GOP colleagues consider him a valued adviser.
Now that your morning is ruined and you are thinking of putting Wild Turkey on your cornflakes, I will spare you most of the rest of this very informative piece. Just a few items noted for future reference:
...Lott, 63, says he plans to run for re-election in 2006 and may even try for a leadership post. He had nearly $825,000 in his personal campaign committee as of Sept. 30, and he is raising money for his leadership political action committee so he can donate to other Republicans' campaigns.

...Lott accepted the deal his GOP colleagues offered him — resign as Senate GOP leader and take over the Rules and Administration Committee — and made the most of it.

...Running the rules committee, which determines lawmakers' staffing budgets and allocates office space, is one of the least-sought-after Senate jobs, but Lott has used it to expand his influence.

...Last week he strengthened the GOP's clout in the Senate by deciding that two-thirds of each Senate committee's resources should go to Republicans and one-third should go to Democrats. During the previous Congress, when the Senate was almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, there was a 50-50 split in resources.

...Lott's committee also has approved controversial legislation that would prevent Democrats from holding up Senate confirmation of judges. If President Bush has the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice, Lott would play an important role in pushing the Senate to approve the legislation.
Trent Lott, loathesome as he is in many ways, is at least not (IMHO) an out-and-out wingnut. He's an old-school Southern Senator who sees his first, last and only duty to keep an unceasing flow of Federal money coming to Mississippi. Of course since funding that might move that miserable state out of its perenial last-place status in statistical rankings of education, health care, and other quality-of-life issues might go in part to (gasp!) black people, he makes sure it all goes to military bases.

I had hoped he might serve as a voice of sanity, or as close as you're going to get to it from a Republican, against the outright lunatics--but from the evidence cited here about his games with the Rules Committee to help trash the filibuster, this hope is fading fast.

You Miserable Ingrates 

So I find out over at Eschaton that nominations are now open for The 2004 Koufax Awards.

So I go there to see where we're leading....while it would be immodest to dream of Best Blog (on the other hand, screw that, when did modesty get anybody anywhere??), I wonder only whether we will be sweeping the field in:

--Best Series (for Lambert's unceasing efforts on "The Fog Machine"),
--Best Writing (anything by the farmer, the more so the later at night the item is posted),
--Best Post, wherein "Pete & the farmer Kill the Devil" was my assumption but others are entitled to their own opinions and might prefer RDF's collected work in the Green Sagebrush Campaign (name me one other blogger anywhere who is on record as having donated a sheep to the Kerry GOTV effort, dammit)
--Best Humor

And what do I find? Two, count 'em, two, nominations in Best Group Blog (thanks penny and Kevin, your checks are in the mail) and one for Best Post for something of farmer's from r@d@r.

We are gettin' our butts kicked by fafblog for humor, and Pandagon for Groupers. No category for Best Art, which is rank discrimination against farmtoons productions, dammit. No big surprise that Kos and Atrios are battling it out for overall Best in Show, or Juan Cole for Expert again.

Therefore I am going to assume that our hordes of faithful fans just haven't heard the news yet. Get thee hence and start nominating. For your convenience just right-click on Corrente, Dammit! and click "copy", or "copy shortcut" if that's what's available. Then head over to Wampum and swampum.

Remember: Moderation in pursuit of this effort is no virtue, and extremism in promotion of Corrente is no vice. Just mention our name a lot, that's all we ask.

We wants the precious Koufax, yessss we do.....

Guess the Country! 

A poli-sci quiz for a Tuesday morning: What country is being described here?

(via Don't click here, that's cheating)
Editors say the Propaganda Department has received a fresh mandate to micromanage daily news coverage and to ban coverage of an increasingly long list of sensitive issues, including broad topics like _____________'s growing social inequality.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

I guess I just don't see what's wrong with making a portrait of George Bush out of monkeys.

I mean, would they prefer to make the portrait out of the faces of dead soldiers?

The Chimperor must not be mocked! 

Censorship takes hold:

Artwork in an exhibition that drew thousands to the Chelsea Market for its opening last week was abruptly taken down over the weekend after the market's managers complained about a portrait of President Bush fashioned from tiny images of chimpanzees, according to the show's curator.

Bucky Turco, who organized the show, said that a market director had expressed reservations about the Bush portrait, a small colorful painting by Christopher Savido that from afar appears to be a likeness of the president but viewed up close reveals chimps swimming in a marshy landscape
(via the let's-bury-the-story-in-the-metro-section Times)

Land of the free and home of the brave, my Aunt Fanny. What's free and brave about this?

The artwork is here. Help out a starving artist, eh?


"We had tons of people, like more than 2,000 people show up for the opening on Thursday night," said show organizer Bucky Turco. "Then this manager saw the piece and the guy just kind of flipped out. 'The show is over. Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you,' he said. It's been kind of wild."

Um, arrest her for what? Blasphemy?

What is Jon Corzine thinking? 

I can see Lindsay Graham wanting to eff the Dems, since he's a Republican, but why on earth is Jon Corzine trying to help him?

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator John Corzine -- interviewed on Fox News Sunday -- also both closed ranks behind Lieberman's name.

"They all seem to be good. Senator Lieberman, if he's interested, would be a terrific pick, but there are a lot of good people out there," Graham said.

"I think we need to move forward with a strong Homeland Security director. I hope that Joe Lieberman concept flies," Corzine added.
(via AP)

Can anyone imagine that Whiney Joe will have any real power at all at DHS? No, the only thing he's good for is putting a veneer of bipartisanship on the Republican's ruthless drive to destroy the Democratic party and all its good works. Why is Corzine helping them?

Oh, and if Lieberman gets appointed to the DHS, the Republican Governor of Connecticut will certainly appoint a Republican Senator, bringing the Democrats one more step closer to total irrelevance in the only branch of the Federal government over which they have any control.


You can share your feelings with feckless Senator Corzine here:

One Gateway Center, 11th Floor
Newark, New Jersey 07102
(973) 645-3030
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U.S. Senator Jon S. Corzine
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or email him here.

Those Crazy Radicals. Such Ideas! 

What the Sierra Club said to the nomination of Bodman to Energy:

There's a better way [than Bodman]. The Bush Administration should promote a visionary energy policy by:

--Increasing average automobile fuel economy to 40 miles per gallon

--Producing 20 percent of America's electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by the year 2020

--Increasing energy efficiency to reduce our energy usage by two percent every year for the next ten years

--Eliminating distorting energy subsidies that promote bad energy policies

--Improving and increasing mass transit systems

Sierra Club Reaction to Nomination of Samuel Bodman for Energy Secretary

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! 

Alert reader shystee writes:

Soldiers liberate some spare parts = dishonorable discharge (back.

Coalition Provisional Authority makes millions "disappear" = no charges

It's the same thing back home:

Guy steals a Lion King video = 25 years to life (third strike law)

Enron steals millions from taxpayers and stockholders = nobody goes to jail

The list goes on but the pattern is the same.

You know, this pattern was all covered in Matthew, chapter 23:

1: Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples,

2: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat;

3: so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.

Limbaugh. Bennett. Swaggart. Bush AWOL. And so on, and on, and on.

4: They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.

Shifting those risks, eh?

5: They do all their deeds to be seen by men...

6: and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues,

Sounds like the RNC. And the coming inaugural.

11: He who is greatest among you shall be your servant;

12: whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13: "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.

15: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
(via the Bible, Revised Standard Edition)

All too familiar. The Republican "leaders" are exactly the people Jesus preached against.

Minstrel Rumsfeld's posy trinkets... 

Kevin Hayden at American Street has a poetry contest up and running: Details Here

MJS, Steve Bates -- the call for entries has been sounded.


Fundamentalism's fundamentals followup... 

Responding to an earlier post of mine titled: "Fundamental fundamentalism; and stuff like that" | Saturday, December 11, 2004 - back here: Link - or scroll down page a couple of days...

John McKay - archy and American Street - writes a followup to my post and clarifies some points that I made (or tried to make) better than I did, I think, and emphasizes a couple of important details that I did not hit upon. For instance:
During the Progressive era, the dissidents in American Protestantism also objected to the social gospel of secular good works. Mainstream Protestantism, in those days, was involved in actively promoting secular liberal social programs.

This emphasis on faith over works not only agrravated tensions between the Protestant Fundamentalist faithful and the more liberal mainstream Protestant denominations but helped fan the flames of anti-Catholicism as well. The Fundamentalists wing contending that any stray from a strict inerrant reading of Biblical text (as defined by Fundamental doctrine) and the doctrine of salvation through "faith" alone, the Redeemer , "truth in the absolute truthfulness of every statement that comes from God, (divinely inspired and recorded in the Bible) amounted to apostasy on the part of those embracing liberalization or modernization within the church, and, ultimately, povided a useful cultural and political wedge when applied to issues and arguments taking place within society as a whole.

John concludes the post with what I was attempting to get at in my earlier post. Although I think he sums it up a little more neatly than I did:
I think this is the problem the liberal/Democratic/blogger left has with religion. It's not that we are anti-religious or anti-Christian; it's that the right has succeeded in portraying everything we say as such. [...] This is a painful indicator of how successful the right has been in fragmenting the left over the last 30 years.

OK, thats all for now on this subject. Go read archy for the full context.


What's That Noise? Rumbling? 

Mel Giles at Michael Moore’s site reframes the “victimization” theme in a way that I find moving…

…We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 57 million strong. We are building from the bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in small groups, and right now, we are crying, because we are trying to break free and we don't know how.

Any battered woman in America, any oppressed person around the globe who has defied her oppressor will tell you this: There is nothing wrong with you. You are in good company. You are safe. You are not alone. You are strong. You must change only one thing: Stop responding to the abuser.

Don't let him dictate the terms or frame the debate (he'll win, not because he's right, but because force works). Sure, we can build a better grassroots campaign, cultivate and raise up better leaders, reform the election system to make it fail-proof, stick to our message, learn from the strategy of the other side. But we absolutely must dispense with the notion that we are weak, godless, cowardly, disorganized, crazy, too liberal, naive, amoral, "loose,” irrelevant, outmoded, stupid and soon to be extinct. We have the mandate of the world to back us, and the legacy of oppressed people throughout history.

Even if you do everything right, they'll hit you anyway. Look at the poor souls who voted for this nonsense. They are working for six dollars an hour if they are working at all, their children are dying overseas and suffering from lack of health care and a depleted environment and a shoddy education…
Read on...

There’s victims and then there’s people who refuse to be victims, and stand as an example to us all. The DLC should take a page, here… or better yet, just roll over and shrivel up, because we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it any more. The Democratic wing of the Democratic Party (which right now in my county means all the Greens, too) is taking over. The woman who was responsible for taking time off from work to watch the canvassing and who raised hell about irregularities when nobody else would has officially been nominated to succeed our current local party chair (who is a fine candidate for the DLC and oblivion). Word is, he’s isn’t going to fight it or put up a name, and nobody else accepted the nomination. It should be all done by the end of the month. Then, we’ll be ready to pick delegates to the state convention—and you bet they’re going to be young and full of piss and vinegar. And, we’re going to have a New Year’s party, too. Yeeaaaaaarrrrrrrgghhh!

Story: Was at the trading post Saturday and a guy saw my Kerry-Edwards and Dump Bush and aWol and More Trees/Less Bush and etc. stickers and pointed and said: “Might as well scrape those off. You lost.” I said, “No, we all lost, and when Bushco pushes the flush handle, I want it to be clear where I stood. They’re staying on until we win in ‘06 and ‘08.” I could have added that, along with baling wire and duct tape, they hold the truck together, but he was already laughing like I was delusional.

We’ll see who’s delusional.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

It's not a full moon, so what accounts for the craziness? In fact, what The Good Doctor, Hunter Thompson, would call "bad craziness"? Maybe reality is finally giving the members of the "Unreality-based Community" some therapy?

We can but hope...

I'm going to light my tiny candle in the room under the stairs....

Republicans for Fiscal Sanity 

It's a new organization. But it doesn't have very many members. But here's what one of them has to say about Social Security transition costs:

"I think it's irresponsible to borrow the whole trillion dollars," [U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina] told FUX News [cough] Sunday [Hey, should these guys even be working on the Sabbath?]
(via Reuters)

Savor that, for a moment.... "Irresponsible to borrow the whole trillion dollars"... Don't you love it?

Army sends 70-year-old reservist to Afghanistan 

Um, undermanning, anyone?

Dr. John Caulfield thought it had to be a mistake when the Army asked him to return to active duty. After all, he's 70 years old and had already retired - twice. He left the Army in 1980 and private practice two years ago.

"My first reaction was disbelief," Caulfield said. "It never occurred to me that they would call a 70-year-old."

In fact, he was so sure it was an error that he ignored the postcards and telephone messages asking if he would be willing to volunteer for active duty to "backfill" somewhere on the East Coast, Europe or Hawaii. That would be OK, he thought. It would release active duty oral surgeons from those areas to go to combat zones in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But then the orders came for him to go to Afghanistan.
(via Marion, Ohio Star)

Hey, look on the bright side! Now the guy has no Social Security worries!

Reservists court-martialled for midnight requestions 

Way to support the troops, guys. It would be nice to see Radio Boy step in with an exective order granting these guys clemency. When weasels fly out of my butt!

The shameful story:

Six reservists, including two veteran officers who had received Bronze Stars, were court-martialed for what soldiers have been doing as long as there have been wars--scrounging to get what their outfit needed to do its job in Iraq.

Darrell Birt, one of those court-martialed for theft, destruction of Army property and conspiracy to cover up the crimes, had been decorated for his "initiative and courage" for leading his unit's delivery of fuel over the perilous roads of Iraq in the war's first months.

Now, Birt, 45, who was a chief warrant officer with 656th Transportation Company, based in Springfield, Ohio, and his commanding officer find themselves felons, dishonorably discharged and stripped of all military benefits.

The 656th played a crucial role in maintaining the gasoline supply that fueled everything from Black Hawk helicopters to Bradley Fighting Vehicles between Balad Airfield and Tikrit. The reservists in the company proudly boast that their fuel was in the vehicles driven by the 4th Infantry Division soldiers who found Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole last year.

But when Birt's unit was ordered to head into Iraq in the heat of battle in April 2003 from its base in Kuwait, Birt said the company didn't have enough vehicles to haul the equipment it would need to do the job.

So, Birt explained, he and other reservists grabbed two tractors and two trailers left in Kuwait by other U.S. units that had already moved into Iraq.

Several weeks later, Birt and other reservists scrounged a third vehicle, an abandoned 5-ton cargo truck, and stripped it for parts they needed for repair of their trucks.

"We could have gone with what we had, but we would not have been able to complete our mission," said Birt, who was released from the brig on Oct. 17 and is petitioning for clemency in hope that he can return to the reserves.

"I admit that what we did was technically against the rules, but it wasn't for our own personal gain. It was so we could do our jobs."

The severity of the punishments was surprising to many members of the company, who regularly saw off-the-books trading and thefts of military property in Iraq by troops in other units.

Theft of military equipment is legendary among American war veterans, and the act has its own lexicon. In past wars some called it "scrounging," while others called it "midnight requisitions" and "liberating supplies," said writer and Vietnam War veteran Robert Vaughan.

The problems for the 656th started days before the company was to move into Iraq. The company had only two cargo trucks to haul six containers filled with tools, spare parts, ammunition, biological-chemical protective wear and other supplies.

In the first several months of the Iraq war, the supply line moved at a glacial pace. Obtaining even basic parts to repair vehicles took as long as six weeks, said Robert Chalmers, who had been a sergeant with the 656th. He received a court-martial for stripping the cargo truck for spare parts and disposing of its frame.

Sitting in his kitchen in Greenville, Ohio, Chalmers recalled the rocket attacks, bomb explosions and small-arms fire his company faced on the road between Tikrit and Balad.

The situation has left Chalmers in debt and bitter. His wife, Tina, said she had to borrow against her retirement savings to pay his $20,000 in legal fees.

"We were sent to Iraq without what we needed," said Chalmers, who has spent 15 years on active or reserve duty.. "If they don't make that decision to get the vehicles we needed, we are worse off and can't do our mission. If we don't do our mission, those tanks at the front stand still."

For Birt and Kaus, the court-martial and confinements are a devastating end to long and successful military careers. Both are holding onto a thin thread of hope that they will be granted clemency by Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, so their benefits will be reinstated and they will have a chance to continue their military careers.

Birt and Kaus were dishonorably discharged, and unless they receive clemency, they lose all military benefits, including the right to have the U.S. flag draped on their coffins.

This month, Birt received a certified letter from the trucking company he worked for as a shop foreman, telling him that it could no longer employ him because of his felony conviction. Kaus said her employer, sporting goods manufacturer Huffy Corp., has informed her that it is unlikely she will be allowed to come back to work because of her conviction.

(via Chicago Tribune)

So, aWol is honorably discharged, while not doing his job, and these guys are courtmartialled, for doing their jobs—in a war of choice that aWol set in motion, but didn't give these guys the tools for.

Life's little ironies, eh?

NOTE Thanks to alert reader Nancy.

So, how do Bush, Rove feel about Gonzales making them look like idiots? 

Wait! There's more! Forget about (0) Kerik's Nanny cover story. Forget (1) about Kerik's mob ties (back). Forget (2) about the outstanding arrest warrant (back). Heck, forget (3) about Kerik bugging out from Iraq and the farcically bad job he did "training" [cough] the Iraqi police force on the CPA tit (back).

Let's even forget (4) that Kerik's being sued for trying to ruin a subordinate's career after the subordinate reprimanded Kerik's girlfriend (Newsday)

The real issue is this: Gonzales, who vetted Kerik (back), made Rove and Inerrant Boy look bad. All the information in points (1)-(4) above was really, really easy to get. That's why it all came out the hours and days after Kerik was nominated. (Oddly, the only information that was hard to get, because known only to Kerik, is point (0), the Nanny cover story. She's left the country, by the way (here). Um, was she just a nanny?)

So, since the information was so easy to get, why didn't Gonzales get it?

Seems like Rove and Radio Boy were the last to know about Kerik's flameout: From the same Newsday story, here's how the famously disciplined Bush team was operating right until Kerik crashed and burned:

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said the White House seemed to have been caught off guard.

He said that as late as 7 p.m. Friday, just 90 minutes before Kerik telephoned President George W. Bush and withdrew, the White House faxed King talking points defending the nomination for his use during a TV appearance.

King said he talked with Bush and White House political strategist Karl Rove on Monday about Kerik during a White House Christmas party. He said both spoke enthusiastically about the nomination and showed no concern about its fate.

Later that same night, King said, he ran into Kerik at a Washington restaurant. King said Kerik indicated he was aware that questions would be raised about his background but showed no hesitancy about answering them.

In the end, however, Kerik, a proud protege of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, withdrew his nomination with the disclosure that he failed to pay taxes on a housekeeper and nanny who may have been undocumented.

So, Gonzales blew something that should have been really simple. Blew it really, really badly (just like the Texas clemency memos if it comes to that.) And now, he's already the Justice [cough] nominee. Sweet!

Pass the popcorn!

NOTE Of course, there's another area where Radio Boy, Gonzales, and Rove all have a set of interests in common: the Plame Affair which, oddly, hasn't been in the news lately. I wonder who owns who on that one?

Say no more, Rudy! 

Great Quotations of Our Time. Here's Saint Rudy on Bernard "Bumboy" Kerik, shamelessly still pushing the Nanny cover story:

[SAINT RUDY] "Everything seemed pretty normal, at least by Washington or New York standards," his mentor and boss, former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, told TIME.
(via Time)

Hey, where's Fran Drescher when we need her? I'd like to hear her deliver that line. "... pretty normal...."

So, Rudy, were the mob ties "normal" too? Not just in New York—that we expect, though not from nominees to head the DHS—but in Washington? Hmmm.....

Kerik's mob ties 

This Kerik story is the gift that keeps on giving!

However, The News probe calls into question his conduct while holding two of the city's most important public offices.

The probe revealed that for many years, one of Kerik's main benefactors was Lawrence Ray, the best man at Kerik's 1998 wedding, according to Ray, other sources and checks shown by Ray to The News.

Ray and another Kerik pal, restaurant owner Carmen Cabell, helped bankroll Kerik's 1998 wedding reception, contributing nearly 10,000.

Ray also gave Kerik nearly $2,000 to buy a bejeweled Tiffany badge that Kerik coveted when he was Correction commissioner.

And Ray said he gave Kerik $4,300 more to buy high-end Bellini furniture when Kerik allegedly griped that he couldn't afford to furnish a bedroom for a soon-to-be born daughter.

The city's Conflicts of Interest Board requires officials to report any gifts of $1,000 or more.

The board's definition of gifts includes cash, free travel, and wedding presents not given by relatives.

Intentionally failing to report gifts is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000. The board also can impose civil fines of up to $10,000. The News has examined Kerik's disclosure forms and there is no record of any of the gifts for the period concerned.

At the time of the gifts, Ray was working for Interstate Industrial, then a major city contractor. City ethics rules bar officials from accepting gifts worth more than $50 from anyone doing business with the city. The company hired Ray based on a recommendation from Kerik, according to a sworn deposition by Interstate's owner Frank DiTomasso. New Jersey gaming regulators said Kerik had confirmed to them that he had vouched for Ray.

A week after Kerik's daughter was born, Ray and 18 other men were indicted in a $40 million, mob-run, pump-and-dump stock swindle. Kerik repeatedly spoke to Ray's criminal defense attorney before the indictment, but he dropped his longtime benefactor when the case became public.
(New York Daiy News via No More Mister Nice Blog)

And No More Mister Nice Blog goes on to ask, and answer, Who is Lawrence Ray?

The Federal investigation of the DiTommaso brothers concerned their purchase of a Staten Island waste station controlled by Edward Garafola. who is married to the sister of former Gambino Family Underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano. Garafola was indicted in March 2000 along with Lawrence Ray, an executive of the DiTommaso brothers’ Interstate Industrial Corporation, and Daniel Persico, nephew of Colombo Family Godfather Carmine "The Snake" Persico, on Federal charges involving a $40 million stock ‘pump and dump’ scam. Interstate Industrial Corporation was also denied a contract by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 2000 to perform work on an Atlantic City gambling casino.

This stuff is really, really obvious. It's all there in plain sight, which is why the reporters are having such an easy, gleeful time digging it up.

So at this point, the question has to be asked: Were Kerik's mob ties in fact his qualifications? (Like JFK, the CIA, and the mob, eh?) And has the Bush team gotten so arrogant they just thought nobody would call them on it?

UPDATE More from The Daily News.

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