Saturday, December 25, 2004

Communal Huzzah! 

Esteemed reader riggsveda writes in comments to say “Merry Christnmas, and may your new years be wonderful, RDF, Tom, Xan, Tresy, farmer, Lambert, Leah, and all ye others who inhabit this ether here. I'm so glad to feel a part of your community.”

Back atcha, riggsveda and all others. Hope all of you in this weird and wonderful web commune who celebrate Christmas or Xmas or whatever are having a good one. I am hoisting a toddy in your honor right now as I write this--salud!

[Oops, that makes two toddies. Oh, well. I’m not driving anywhere today, and nobody ever got hurt blogging while intoxicated. I don't think.]

Friday, December 24, 2004

Holiday Eve Action Roundup 

Couldn’t hurt. We got the Reps. We just need ONE senator to contest the vote before aWol puts on the ermine robe and bejeweled crown on Jan. 20. A gentle note of urging to your spawn of Cato might help, or there’s an online route to take if you prefer:


“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” Luke, VI, 36.

“We must take care to indulge only in such generosity as will help our friends and hurt no one; for nothing is generous, if it is not at the same time just.” Cicero

THURSDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDayNews) -- Money problems are the leading cause of holiday stress for Americans, says a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA).

“Holiday” stress, eh? Damned liberals won’t even call it “Christmas” stress. But this psy ops pandering is what gives me hives:

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - The questions from the troops for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were considerably more friendly on his Christmas Eve visit to Iraq than they were on his previous trip to the region a couple of weeks ago.

"How do we win the war in the media?" asked one soldier in Mosul. Another soldier in Tikrit wondered why there is not more coverage of reconstruction efforts going on in the country.
"I guess what's news has to be bad news to get on the press," Rumsfeld responded to the first question — after supposing, with a big grin, "that does not sound like a question that was planted by the press."

No, that sounds more like a question that was planted by a CO and the lapdog media treats it as a “balance” story. Please, contest the vote. And call on the German Federal Prosecutor to INVESTIGATE RUMSFELD and other U.S. officials for war crimes at Abu Ghraib. See if that “big grin” is operative in a courtroom.

And that’s it for the RDF psy ops team today.

Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays, and... 


Thursday, December 23, 2004

I Just WISH I Had Made This Up 

You look a little downhearted.

I am.

But why? The latest report says that consumers are supposed to be “buoyant.” You know, happy. Haven’t you been shopping?

It’s just all of this greed and commercialization. Everybody talks about the “holidays.” Nobody talks about Jesus.

Hey, that’s not true. I hear about Jesus all the time. About how Jesus saves people from going to hell, and gives the president advice, and stuff like that.

Not about the Jesus who said to give your money to the poor. Not about the Jesus who said that one can’t serve both God and Mammon.

Well, come on, Big Fella. That kind of talk is hardly festive. Here, I bought you something.

What’s this?

It’s a Jesus action figure. See, the arms go up like this, and it has little hidden wheels so it can glide on the floor. And, it comes with a little WWJD bracelet, too. (Jesus Action Figure)

Gee, thanks. But you shouldn’t be spending money on me.

Hey, it’s okay—these were on sale at WalMart. I was going to get you a communion gift box, but I don’t have a credit card for online purchases since the bankruptcy. (A & C Relgious Supplies)

You know, I feel a little more buoyant already. I feel like I could go shopping. Maybe I’ll order a whole set of Biblical Action Figures and we can play with them instead of thinking sad thoughts about poor people and stuff. (View Entire Collection)

That’s the spirit! Keep that up and soon we’ll return this nation to its Biblical roots and stimulate the economy at the same time!

Inverted 'W's and strange shadows on the face of the Moon 

When will the wowsers at Time Warner/CNN and GE/MSNBC and elsewhere begin hyperventilating and fainting all over themselves about Our Dear Leader Commander Costume's family support for a messianic quack who insists upon removing a mainstay of Christian symbolism from our collective American doma pastoralis? Huh?

Where's all self righteous "Christian" OUTRAGE! - OH, THE OUTRAGE! - over that?

When will the likes of cheery "Dueling Ban-Joe" Scarborough or Pat "Franco Way" Buchanan or that bloodless falangist sluice carp William Donohue work themselves into a frothy televised dither over Lord Moonie's fierce purge of the Christian rood? Well?

None-time too soon I suspect.

Not with all them roving bands of heathen Debil' saluting libril' Christ-haters uprooting blowmolded platic statues of the Mother Mary and her half buried orchestral bathtub and spiriting them both off to some peaty morass filled with pantheistic toadstool worshipers.

Ooo, it's all that Michael Moore guys fault! Oh yes, by the way, The Great Atheist Nativity Abduction Scare of 2004 continues following this brief commercial message. Stay tuned to CNN and MSNBC and FOXNoise for the latest breaking "news"....and burble burble burble....

Odd, isn't it? John Gorenfeld has more on the Moonie's - and their fellow true-travelers - obsession with removing Christian crosses from churches. Read here via: Gadflyer.

And this isn't just one more kooky religious nut story either. This ain't the same thing as Billy James Hargis boffing the bride and groom in the back of a Coupe DeVille, or whatever, following the cake eating ceremony. That's real traditional 'Murican religious service at it's honky tonkin' best. This cross begone thing is something else entirely and I've never actually been entirely sure what to make of it all. Except to surmise that it fits the pattern of ongoing Unification Church attempts to help fortify support for some kind of hybrid American "Reich Church" exemplar initiated under the leadership of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his flock of radical theo-fascist clerical crazies. Steal the symbol - steal the flag - become king of the shiny city on the hill? Or something to that effect?

Listen to this eerie exchange:
In Monday's video, Bush declared: "I want to salute a man I respect: Wes Pruden," referring to the Times editor, whose paper frequently publicizes Moon projects that most newspapers would ignore. On December 7 he ran a piece by ACLC Rev. Donnie McLeod, who has argued for the removal of the cross in sermons covered by Unification Church publications.

The cross-disposal theologian wrote: "as the president is now free from the election concerns and can never be reelected, he can now build a legacy for America and the world." ACLC leaders, he said, "are ready to see the president as I see him, a man to God who is truly ready to make the sacrifices and commitments to create a legacy of faith and family that will guide our nation for the next 200 years." [Via John Gorenfeld - link above]

Two hundred years huh? I'm assuming they don't expect Commander Skybox Pilot to outlast the twenty second century and therefore have some kind of long term plan for the future of the Republic? Perhaps there is some operational potting shed somewhere full of a thousand little true-fuhrers waiting to bloom in the full glory of the messianic Moonlight?

And perhaps the Rev. Moon knows where the Bush family fetchlings have buried all the bones. I suspect so. I suspect they can identify each and every skull fragment as well. Since I suspect they helped pay to have them dug under. And the Bush klan knows it too.

Moon played an integral role in financing openly resurgent fascist networks in Latin America during the Reagan/Bush sponsored bloodletting, coke smuggling, gun running, and nun raping years... WACL for one, CAUSA...etc. Refresh your memory via Consortium News and Robert Parry's extensive online vault of investigative reporting on the Bush family Moonie relationship.

Remember Carlton Sherwood? The guy who produced the anti-Kerry hit-flick "Stolen Honor," during the last election? [See backstory: "Veteran files suit against producer of anti-Kerry film", via Sid the Fish.

Well, Carlton also penned a nifty book (published in the 1980's) portraying the poor put-upon "True Parent" as the victim of an inquisitional federal witchhunt and investigation into his "illicit financial operations." Cute ain't it, considering the Unification Church, and Christian Right wingeroo, historical fondness for the latest trends in inquisitional pogrom manufacturing, marketing and distribution.

And one can't forget John Kerry's role in congressional investigations into the Contra Cocaine connections.... Apparently that didn't sit well with Carlton Sherwood and the greater circle of heaven sent Maji he moved within. For much much more on Sherwood - Rev. Moon connection etc...see: Kerry Attacker Protected Rev. Moon, By Robert Parry - October 15, 2004.

You won't hear about any of this from the TV "news" media Beltway cocktail party eunuchs or those vacuous cosmetic counter lipstick peddlers in Atlanta so follow along with Parry and John Gorenfeld on this topic.

Again, I'm not sure what the deal is with the cross eradication project unless perhaps it involves replacing those crosses with giant 'W's. Or inverted 'W's. If ya know what I'm sayin'.

On and on it goes. Best keep a telescope aimed at the Moon at all times.

John Gorenfeld's blog: I Approve This Messiah


Crude Nightmares 

Beaumont, Texas - 1901:
"When it poured over the derrick floor they moved back. With each pulsation the flow went a little higher. Finally the momentum was so great that oil shot through the top of the derrick. With it came rocks and sand and shale from the conglomerate formation they had drilled into. It spurted skyward in a sream over 160 feet high - at least twice the height of the derrick. Once the oil was in full flow, there seemed to be no lessening.

After a few minutes, when their excitement had subsided somewhat, they crept closer, getting soaked with a spray of black oil. Their excitement changed to disgust. The machinery was damaged. Mud flowed all over the derrick floor. Strings of drill pipe lay on the ground, twisted and useless. They saw no way to control the power they had unleashed." ~ From: "Gusher At Spindletop" by William A. Owens, 1958. Recounting the famous Beaumont, Texas oil strike of January 1901 and the beginings of the Texas oil boom.

DarkSyde at Unscrewing the Inscrutable uncorks a very dark oily tale of his own. From Pan troglodytes to petro-politics, man, monkey business, and peak production:
In the blink of a cosmic eye, one species of ape came down out of Miocene treetops to forested Pliocene floors, and walked onto Pleistocene plains. They learned to make stone tools, usurp the kills of others, and hunt their own. They domesticated The Flame, overtook their less fortunate bipedal cousins with luck and evolution, eradicated them forever from the planet, and spread all over the globe. They soon turned their swollen brains onto domesticating the flora and fauna and focused their new found wealth on waging their wars to defend it, or steal it. They enlisted their most trusted ally, fire, to melt rocks into metal, pound metal into molds, contrive massive mechanical devices belching black smoke driven by fire's generous sibling, heat, and learned to turn the wheels of industry powered with the fluids and condensates from putrefied bacterial mats. Armed with these inventions, the gibbering self aggrandizing hominids, glibly slaughtered ever-greater numbers as each respective herd proclaimed themselves the pinnacle of creation, unaware or uncaring that the beasts created from their own Id now on the prowl was tracking them all. The newest camouflaged predator padding silently behind them through their metal and concrete rain forests is no mere ice age mega-predator stalking nomadic Paleolithic apes intent on filling it's belly with the tender meat of talking chimpanzees. It is a monster of their own making and one they're nurturing with reckless, unstoppable, abandon.

Consumptus vampirik:
We use oil because it is by far the cheapest and most convenient form of stored energy many times over... and production is peaking while consumption climbs. The consensus among those in the Petrology Community is that global oil production will peak within five years or so, maybe less, while world oil consumption, fueled largely by the insatiable US addiction and the burgeoning economies in Asia-India, continues to grow steadily. Production Vs consumption. Those lines will cross next year. What happens then?

Find out. Continue reading A Midwinter Night's Mare, December 22, 2004. BTW: this post by DS not only contains a whole array of interesting information but it's framed in the context of a apocalyptic nightmare. Which, IMHO, makes for one rollicking good hellborn read.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Bush torture policies: Follow the bytes! 

Oddly (or not) that liberal media is focusing on new revelations of acts of torture, not who's reponsible for them. The lede from Izvestia on the Hudson:

F.B.I. memorandums portray abuse of prisoners by American military personnel in Iraq that included detainees' being beaten and choked and having lit cigarettes placed in their ears, according to newly released government documents.

The lede from Pravda on the Potomac isn't much better:

The Bush administration is facing a wave of new allegations that the abuse of foreign detainees in U.S. military custody was more widespread, varied and grave in the past three years than the Defense Department has long maintained.

But—Surprise!—our liberal media is burying the real story: Bush is directly responsible for authorizing torture. We've always thought so; now we have hard evidence. Here's the paragraph from the memo that nails Bush from the FBI memos released by the ACLU under FOIA:

We [the FBI] are aware that prior to a revision in policy last week [May 22,2004] an executive order signed by President Bush authorized the following interrogation techniques among others: sleep "management," use of MWDs (Military Working Dogs)[back], "stress positions: such as half squats, "environmental manipulation" such as the use of loud music, sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc. We assume the OGC instruction does not include the reporting of these authorized interrogation techniques, and that the use of these techniques does not constitute "abuse."

As stated, there was a revision last week in the military's standard operating procedures based on the Executive Order. I have been told [by whom?] that all interrogation techniques previously authorized by theh Executive Order are still on the table but that certain techniques can only be used if very high-level authority [whose?] is granted.

So, case almost closed, one would think. Either someone in the FBI chain of command saw the Executive Order signed by President Bush, or they didn't. Could that special FBI someone be subpoenaed, perhaps? Just to clear the matter up?

Then again, that process would enable Bush to use The Fog Machine (back) to stonewall some more, so maybe we need a backup plan.

Here's a suggestion: Follow the bytes!

We already know (back) that "some of the information being collected from prisoners [at Abu Ghraib] had been requested by "White House staff." And we also know (back) that photographs of the tortured prisoners were taken as a matter of policy. Back then we asked:

Where were the torture photos stored, what was the chain of custody, and who has them now?

We've may have had an answer to the first and third of this question since August:

[T]he Army has one investigator looking at more than 100,000 documents contained in a secret computer server at Abu Ghraib and that the work would not be finished until December unless more staff workers were assigned to the job.
(via USA Today)

December, eh? I wonder how the investigator is coming along?

The Abu Ghraib photos were digital. Who wants to bet some were stored on the secret server at Abu Ghraib? And we know people in the White House (OK, Bush) keep photos of "terrorists" and put red X's through them when they're, um, no longer a threat (here). And we know the White House really likes to set up parallel institutions that it controls, outside of regular channels. So, who wants to bet that digital photos, taken under torture, made it all the way from the Abu Ghraib server to clients in the White House, and onto Bush's desk? (Maybe through a cut-out at the CPA?) Seems like a no-brainer to me—but it should be easy to find out. Someone should find out who the system administrators for that Abu Ghraib server were, and ask them.

Follow the bytes!

NOTE And what about the videos of screaming boys being raped at Abu Ghraib? They've been seen; when is someone going to leak them?

The Elephant on the Balcony 

Just when you get used, almost, to the breathtaking gall with which the BushCoInc cabal lies, cheats, steals and kills its way around the world, they manage to stun you yet again with the level of pettiness to which they can sink in their determination to rub everyone's nose in the fact that no matter how much we loathe them, they won, they won, they won and don't you for a moment forget it.

This wasn't even some insiders-only Republican event either--it was the annual White House "party" for the print media. Broadcast media, it seems, has a separate (but no doubt equal) gathering so they do not have to soil themselves by breathing ink-stained air:

(via Chicago Trib)
To remind people of the reason for the season, as ministers say, there's the large 18th Century creche in the East Room that's trundled out of White House storage every year, despite risks that someone could file a church-state constitutional challenge.

In the State Dining Room, there's a model of the White House done in gingerbread and chocolate. It's an incredible (and edible) piece of confectionary art, with arresting details, including holiday carolers fashioned from marzipan and a miniature elephant, symbol of Republican triumphalism this year, cavorting on the Truman Balcony.

Nowhere in the scene is there a donkey, the symbol of Democrats. That suggests all you need to know about where bipartisanship stands in the nation's capital these days.

Monkey seen... 

Remember the winger yahoos (ok, "management") who shut down an artshow, because artist Chris Savido used monkeys to form an image of Bush? (Good thing he didn't use sad-eyed clowns! God knows what would have happened!) Anyhow, nothing but good things have happened since:

Animal Magazine, a quarterly arts publication that had organized the month-long show, said anonymous donors had paid for the picture to be posted on a giant digital billboard over the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, used by thousands of commuters traveling between Manhattan and New Jersey.

The original picture will be auctioned on eBay, with part of the proceeds donated to parents of U.S. soldiers wishing to supply their sons and daughters with body armor in Iraq.
(via Reuters)

Nice to see all those frothing and stamping wingers raising money to buy the troops body armor. Oh, wait...

Longer Days Ahead 

Good thing the days are now going to be getting longer, since the to-do list just keeps growing. Readers were wondering how to get the international community rolling on indicting war criminals. Well:

The Center for Constitutional Rights and four Iraqis who were tortured in U.S. custody filed a complaint on November 30 with the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office against high ranking United States civilian and military commanders over the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in Iraq.

We are asking the German prosecutor to launch an investigation because the U.S. government is unwilling to open an independent investigation into the responsibility of these officials for war crimes and the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court. CCR and the Iraqi victims brought this complaint to Germany as a court of last resort. Several of the defendants are stationed in Germany.

The Pentagon and the U.S. government are taking this suit very seriously. According to the Deutsche Press Agency, Donald Rumsfeld has warned Germany that he will not attend an upcoming security conference in Munich if there is any indication of an investigation going forward, and Chief Pentagon Spokesman Larry Di Rita, calling the complaint “frivolous,” said that he raised the case with the State Department: "State is engaged in this. Obviously, it's something that we're focused on and very concerned with…” Please encourage the German prosecutor not to bow to U.S. pressure.

You can apply pressure here: INVESTIGATE RUMSFELD

Oh, and if you’re still wondering about whether or not the election was fairly conducted, it wasn’t. Of course, the liberal media will stay all over this one, so there’s no need to worry. The system works just fine. Don’t loiter here.

…Too many commentators continue to claim the recount effort is the result of bad losers. Some have even gone so far as to say that if the Republicans lost, there would be no recount—that Republicans “play fair.” In fact, concern about "fairness" is in part what is driving the recount. These commentators overlook the fact that this effort is not only about verifying the outcome of the vote. More importantly, it’s about ensuring accountability of a highly fallible elections process.

As long as any votes are miscounted, misplaced or misdirected, our elections cannot be said to be properly working. And with an electoral system that provides no consistency in how votes are counted—and some election officials hostile to a full accounting— there remains work to be done to restore voters' faith in the system…

…It is shocking that the cherished right to vote, which should be a major issue in this country, has become an invisible one. Even in the Ukraine, there will be a new election because of widespread irregularities in the presidential election. As the Supreme Court stated over a century ago, the right to vote is "a fundamental political right, because preservative of all rights." Now, more than ever, we must fight for this right. via Tom Paine

Well, a Scalia court will soon put a stop to that voting is a "fundamental political right" liberal nonsense. They had a good go at it in 2000, after all.

What's to be done? I dunno. Let's take a vote. A thank you note to Rep. Conyers would be nice. Local votes perhaps do count--the county next door just elected a new local party chair, I hear. A pissed off young woman. One county at a time.

David Broder really is an idiot 

The master purveyor of the slightly stale conventional wisdom has long since passed his Sell-by date. Get a load of this:

Just think what it will mean when Republican Tom DeLay and Democrat Nancy Pelosi walk off the House floor after another marathon roll call, in which Republicans have squeezed out the narrowest of wins. Instead of sulking and scheming revenge, she turns to him and says, "Hey, Tom, let's go to the ballgame. I've got good seats and we can still see six innings!"

That way lies salvation.
(via WaPo)

Oh? Allow me to translate that: Salvation means the Dems are professional losers; it lies in a future where Tom DéLay plays for the Harlem Globetrotters, and Nancy Pelosi plays for the Washington Generals. Permanently.

As Vince Lombardi famously said: Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.

The solution is for Nancy Pelosi, and the Dems, to stop losing, start winning, and whip Tom DéLay back to the hellhole he's made for himself in Texas, before he does any more damage where he is. Now that would be salvation.

Commander Costume's WXmas Pillage 

Reader "MD" (Dr. of Doggerel) sent me a poem parody and we decided to form a duet and perform this holiday number for your enjoyment. So, here ya goes....:

The Fright Before Christmas

Twas the night before WXmas, and all through the home
Not a Wingnut was stirring, no calls on the phone
The stock-holdings were hung by the chimney, each share
In revere of St BushNick and Gawd-blest laissez faire

The children tucked in, prayers guarding their dreads
While visions of Walmart crap danced in their heads
And Mom in her sweatpants and dad in his flannel
Had just tuned in teevee's, FauxNews cable channel.

When out on the lawn there arose such a natter
They sprang from the couch to see what was the clatter!
And away to the window they lunged in a daze
Threw open the curtains, knocked over a vase!

The moon on the breast of the freshly dewed grass
Brought a flicker of romance, or a quick piece of ass
When what to their dumbstruck eyes appeared shapes
Were a bulletproof Hummer and eight tiny man-apes

With a smirking-faced driver just strutting around
They knew ol' St BushNick had arrived in their town
More rabid than missiles his flunkies they came
And he whistled and shouted and called them nicknames

"Now Turd-Blossom! Now Crash! Now Nine Pin! and Stilt!
On Snake Hips! On Goober! On Prophet and Gilt!
Get your asses to work, let's round up my stash
Bring me more, Bring Me More, BRING ME MORE AND MORE CASH!”

As Iraqis that before the exploding bombs run
When they venture outside for a glimpse of the sun
So directly to wallets the flunkies they flew
To loot pension funds for the rich and the few

When suddenly the Wingers saw overhead
The BushFamily banner, greed-green and blood-red
As they covered their eyes and were turning about
Through the back door ol' BushNick appeared with a shout

He was dressed in Armani, his choice of fine suits
A ten gallon hat, and some nice cowboy boots
A bundle of swag he'd flung over his back
And he looked like a guy you just wanted to smack

His eyes they were beady! His lips they were pursed!
His cheeks were all ruddy, but his nose was the worst!
His pinched little face was bent into a grimace
As he said, "Gimme all of your money for WXmas!"

The smell of cheap whiskey came hard off his breath
And fumes swirled around him – like some stovepipe of death
He had a big swagger, and a bit of a reel
As he shook down the Wingers, Oh! what a heel

He was arrogant, rude, an obnoxious absurd
And they shuddered and tried to get in a brief word
But he winked and he told them, "Just shut the hell up!
Fork over the boodle, or boo-hoo in your cup."

"You voted for me, and I’m what you get,
Not one of you dared, put a stop to my threat."
And he flipped them the bird, as he flapped out the door
And they now understood what the lefties abhor.

He jumped in the Hummer, to his team gave a whistle
And away they all went, as the Wingers did bristle
And they heard him say as he drove down the lane,
"You fools - ho ho! - have each swallowed my bane...

Merry WXmas Merry WXmas Merry WXmas to Me
If it weren't for the Wingers I'd be Unemployed 43".

the end

So Merry Christmas Wingnuts. Enjoy playing on your slag heap for the next four years. I know I will.

Scary WXmas to all, and to all a good smite.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

So Much To Do 

Ahhh, Winter Solstice. I wonder how much evil Bushco can pack into the shortest day of the year? Maybe

--Start another unnecessary war (use tactical nukes?)
--Make the rich even richer and the poor even poorer (tax cuts for rich, cut entitlements, reopen idea of debtor's prison? check w/ Scalia)
--Extend the arms race to outer space (must be kept SECRET!)
--Rationalize the continuing qWagmire in iWaq (blame on U.N.?)
--Sign letters for dead and wounded, attend funerals (sorry, no time for that)
--Authorize, rationalize and defend the use of torture
--Claim that he has a mandate and will outlaw man dates
--Surround self with more sycophants (photo ops…order new codpiece?)
--Rationalize away the health care crisis (maybe blame it on trial lawyers?)
--Reinstate the draft (national emergency?)
--Antagonize some more other countries for no good reason
--Assure more oil and gas profits for his friends (note: call it “energy policy”)
--Rationalize away global warming and other looming environmental disasters (maybe blame them on trees, volcanoes and third world countries?)
--Claim to channel for Jesus (maybe a new revelation? check with Falwell.)
--Deflect public attention from all of the above with a new moral crisis (sodomy’s been done, maybe bestiality?)
--Redact troublesome portions of the U.S. Constitution
--Borrow royal jewels from QE II for the coronation next month (dissolve Congress? check w/ Scalia)
--Declare martial law (must check with Gonzales Re: rationalization)

Well, some of these can be checked off right now. But still, so much to do. Oh, wait--place all media under White House control. No, never mind. No need to do that. How about--?

Abu Ghraib torture: Who let the dogs out? 

Merry Christmas from all those Godly men and women in the White House:


Sherman, set the Wayback machine for May 2004.

Then (here), we pointed out that authorizing the use of military working dogs (as in the picture above) was, like everything else in the Army, subject to the chain of command, and we cited the regulations. Someone has to authorize the use of dogs for any purpose, and that includes torture.

And we asked: Who let the dogs out? And now we have the answer:

Bush did.

A two-page FBI e-mail message refers to "a Presidential Executive Order" and contends President George W. Bush directly authorized interrogation techniques that included sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.," the ACLU said.
(via the have-the-wingers-started-to-eat-their-young Washington Times

Rule by secret decree, setting dogs on prisoners, torture.... Does this sound like a Constitutional government? Does this sound like the rule of law?

Evil, that's what it is.

The memos are here. Thanks, ACLU. And Merry Christmas, Mister President.

UPDATE Nice coverage roundup by Suburban Guerilla.

Bush press conference: Froomkin's "of course" tell still works! 

Remember (back here) how Froomkin found the Bush "tell"—the words "of course"—that shows He's lying? Well, Bush managed to suppress that tendency during the campaign right after Froomkin posted the article, but now He's relaxed and doing it again:

[BUSH] I'll be talking about the budget, of course; there is a lot of concern in the financial markets about our deficits, short-term and long-term deficits. The long-term deficit, of course, is caused by some of the entitlement programs, the unfunded liabilities inherent in our entitlement programs.
(via White House transcript)

And, bien sur, the tax cuts for the superrich had nothing, but nothing, to do with anything.

Bush press conference: Fool me once... 

Radio Boy how on earth he will be able to replace Kerik:

[BUSH] Now, in terms of the NDI -- DNI, I'm going to find someone that knows something about intelligence, and capable and honest and ready to do the job. And I will let you know at the appropriate time when I find such a person.
(via White House transcript)

Kerik, of course, was none of those things. Kerik knew nothing about intelligence, wasn't capable, wasn't honest, and wasn't ready to do the job—although, in a world that wasn't insane, you'd have expected him to be. It's amazing the way Bush can turn the merest, most obvious platitude about reasonable behavior into a lie.

Bush press conference: Bill! Shut up! Now! 

Inerrant Boy, at his latest press conference. Plenty of fodder here, but He starts out, shockingly, by advancing the forces of evil, that is secularization and political correctness:

[BUSH] Good morning, and happy holidays ...
(via White House transcript)

Doesn't He know He's the head of a state religion? WTF?

History repeats itself and people repeat history.  

A few postings ago RDF quoted Arthur Link's observations on the 1920's ~ see: Future Rama Lama.

Responding to that post reader Kyle Lanclos wrote in with the following on the topic:
A quote from Edward Chancellor's "Devil Take the Hindmost" (no, this is not my typical idea of light, pleasant reading), in sort of a Mad Libs format to show how history can repeat itself:

As [president] famously expressed it, "the business of America is business." His Treasury Secretary, the wealthy Philadelphia banker [banker], agreed. In his opinion, government existed mainly to facilitate business, indeed it was no more than a business itself. [Banker] set about improving the conditions by reducing the top rate of income tax from [high percent] to [low percent] percent, cutting corporation taxes to 2 1/2 percent, and slashing capital gains taxes. As a result of these tax cuts, the rich had more money to invest in stocks, companies reported higher after-tax earnings, and more of the profits of speculation could be retained by the players. While the rich became richer during the [decade], unions were weak and workers were unable to enjoy the benefits of their improved productivity. At his Baton Rouge plant, [car maker] employed armed thugs to terrorise his employees against collective action. Unable to maintain their share of the economic surplus, workers experienced a decline in real wages during the decade, and corporate profits rose as a percentage of national income. Capitalism, however, requires consumers as much as savers and demand was maintained by the massive expansion of consumer credit, then called "instalment purchases." [...] There was a decidedly speculative element in the growth of instalment credit: present consumption was being financed with anticipated earnings. Put another way, in their appetite for gratification, the consumers of the [decade] were devouring their future. When the future eventually arrived, they found the cupboard bare. At the time, however, instalment purchases were seen as yet another beneficial new era development. Credit and consumption, it was argued, formed a virtuous circle since from the immediate increase in prosperity would come the ability to pay off debt.

With a few judicious snips, it sounds a lot like the present. But when you fill in the blanks:

president: Coolidge
banker: Andrew Mellon
high percent: 65
low percent: 32
decade: 1920's

...we're leading up to the great depression. From reading the book, bouts of speculation come and go (often at the peril of the unexperienced speculator), but it takes a more widespread impact for it to affect the economy at large.

How about massively over-extended consumer credit, and a helping-the-big-guy government, while said consumers reap none of the economic benefits? Sounds disturbingly similar to our present economy. When the next speculation bubble bursts, will it take the consumers with it? To a large degree, consumer spending helped ease the pain of our most recent recession, but those mortgages and credit cards have not been paid off.

One added note here with respect to the post WW1 speculation of the 1920's - which did have a huge and widespread impact especially with respect to industrial workers and communities (the cotton mill towns as one example) - was the combination of a largely clueless and vapid mainstream media bewitched by the bells and baubles of faith based investing and a political cheerleading environment which was seemigly without a clue when it came to the gravity of the situation at hand. These were the days of Arthur Brisbane and great promises of two chickens in every pot. A rollercoaster ride of wild boons and busts. Wage cuts due to a surplus of labor returning from post war Europe, over production and dumping and slowdowns, and race to the bottom pricing. Everyone for themselves. A kind of dotcom bubble Jesus shouting laissez faire freebooter Klansman on bad-acid world gone insane.

(Kind of like Scarborough Country meets Kudlow and Cramer meets WalMart.)

And the Great Depression was its great ultimate hangover. Of course all of it was all the fault of the poor little flapper with a hole in her stocking, and theories of evolution, and bobbed hair, and lazy IWW ingrates and the ultimate evildoer, the bootlegger, each of which were no doubt trying to destroy Christmas.

The heroic cleansing neo-falangist mumbo jumbo of Pat Buchanan and William Donohue, well, they mosey into the picture a little later. As you might have noticed lately.

Hey. You can't go home again.


Yes Virginia, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity ARE full of boozey egg-nog 

From Francis Volpe at The Sentinel, (PA), Dec., 20, 2004:
Now you guys went and upset Virginia

Don't worry, Virginia. Christmas is in no danger of disappearing.

I can understand the consternation you and your friends must feel at the notion that this beloved holiday might cease to be. At your age, it is important to believe what adults say, so it pains me to tell you that some adults are abusing their position of trust on this matter.

I'd like to say that the host of Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" really believes that Christmas is in danger of being rubbed out by, pick any three, atheists, liberals, Christian-haters, Kwanzaa celebrants, Islamofascists, secular humanists, leftist documentary filmmakers, communistic billionaires, gay decorators who are sick of all the red and green, and Jews who didn't vote for George W. Bush.

But he doesn't, really. And neither do Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, John Leo, Cal Thomas or those radical clerics Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. By exaggerating the significance of a few odd stories from around the country, and throwing in untrue interpretations of others, they are exacerbating the skepticism of a skeptical age.

They are doing this to encourage their followers to think the worst of fellow Americans who have done nothing to them except to hold different opinions on a handful of political issues. If this is how they celebrate a holiday founded on peace and brotherhood, Virginia, you might want to hide in the basement when these guys party down for Guy Fawkes Day.

They love to tell how a performance of "A Christmas Carol" banned at a school in Kirkland, Wash., because Tiny Tim says "God bless us every one." Apparently they didn't talk to the school principal, who explains the play was banned because the non-scholastic organization putting it on intended to charge students admission -- a violation of the school's policy on outside building use.

But the first version fits the fake story line better, so that's the one you hear repeated more often than "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." ~ [...more..finish reading Now you guys went and upset Virginia]

Well, gee I dunno... scaring girls with "odd" creepy "holiday" stories - that doesn't sound like the Bill O'Reilly I've come to love.


Monday, December 20, 2004

That Stable is Looking Better All the Time 

Wouldn't it be nice if Bill O'Liely and his pet fundies would get their knickers in a twist over stories like this, rather than how Us Liberals 'n' Secularists, personified oddly enough by sales clerks at Macy's, are "trying to ruin Christmas" for "real" Americans?

Yeah, I'm holding my breath too.....

(via The (Columbia SC) State)

Most Americans who rely on just a full-time job earning the federal minimum wage cannot afford the rent and utilities on a one- or two-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.

For a two-bedroom rental alone, the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour - nearly three times the federal minimum wage, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual "Out of Reach" report.
Just to rant for a moment, everybody talks about "lifting people out of poverty" by getting them edumacation and training so they can get "better jobs."

But the problem is that somebody still has to do a lot of those "not-better" jobs. Take motel maids. You can get the maids currently working some training so they can do something that pays better...but back at the motel somebody still has to change those sheets, scrub out the toilets, fill those mangers (yeah, catch me in a sly attempt to tie in the Christmas angle just like the fundies want) , every damn day.

It's honest work, it's hard work, it's often unsavory work. So shouldn't the people who do that work be entitled to enough pay to afford a decent room of their own to live and sleep in? If rooms have to go up five bucks a night to pay for it, would it pinch the traveling public all that hard?

Just wonderin', I guess. Must be that time of year thing.

Faces of Evil, Part Deux 

This rather scholarly perspective on evil comes from Professor Edward Hinchman of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, passed on by a friend of mine:

Being good – at least, avoiding evil – therefore begins in the thought that you must sometimes give others’ perspectives on you normative standing as such; you mustn’t view them solely through the lens of your rationalizations. What we might call proto-evil lies in the conviction that you can avoid evil without ever thus being normatively receptive to the wills of critical others. It is a most general refusal of empathy. As Hume saw, it is not enough to sympathize merely with potential victims; you must sympathize with potential critics –themselves perhaps in sympathy with the victims – to get a motive sufficient to forgo the tempting bad act. I’ve defined evil from the perspective of its victims, but an evil agent will prove just as incapable of resonating to the perspectives of critics. The problem is not that the criticism can’t reach him but that he won’t let it. He isn’t deaf but inwardly shouting it down. The insensitivities to victim and critic are two sides of a single deliberative disposition. A secular analysis of evil [PDF file]

The article itself glosses over some important practical aspects of the problem of evil, methinks. But it's worth a visit. What’s of particular interest to me, following on Lambert’s post referent to POTL, is that 1) it’s a secular analysis flowing from a logical axiom, 2) it posits that seeing the world solely through the lens of rationalization precludes avoiding evil, and 3) it points out that a willful aversion to criticism is a logical aspect of “proto-evil,” that, taken to an isolationist extreme, can only produce willful harm.

In other words, Bubble Boy meets OBL, Rumsfeld meets Saddam, meets... it fits the fundie framework perfectly.

Makes Viktor Frankl’s work on responding to evil worth another look, maybe. I mean, if we’re grappling for frames of the problem and of a rational response to it. Or Frankl answering Fromm—“If I am what I have, and what I have is taken from me, what then am I?”

Of course all of this requires critical thinking, something that’s increasingly hard to do in a world where the norm is to accept as doctrine that which is spoken by authority. Critical thinkers may soon be forced to wear special clothing and ring a bell when they come to town…

UPDATE Alert reader Mr. Jones cites an interesting article about Frankl here. Would take a historian to dope this out, though.

You go to war with the signature machines you have 

There's a pleasing mini-firestorm building over unindicted felon (back) Donald Rumseld's nasty habit of using a signature machine to rubberstamp the letters of condolence to the families of troops who were killed in Bush's war of choice in Iraq.

Personally, I think the controversy is a little overblown and off-point—heck, is Rummy busy? All the time! Doing manly/Godly stuff? You bet!—and in any case, the story broke way, way back in November.

Of course, the really interesting thing about the original November story is that not only do the families say that Rummy's signature looks rubberstamped, they say that Radio Boy's looks rubberstamped too.

Funny, nobody's raising that issue. I wonder why?

One take on Christmas, from a very pragmatic society 

China, and Chinese street vendors:

"Did you do Christmas shopping when you were in China before 1997?" I did some, but it would be hard to call it Christmas shopping when you compare it to the hundreds and thousands of shopping bags that block the London streets. I was already too old for Christmas shopping, which in most Chinese eyes was considered a western romantic bit of fun for the young.

In fact, the first Christmas things after "open policy" was introduced came not from those big department stores where staff were trying to change their manner from very officious to more encouraging and commercial; nor from "the foreigners' friendship shops", which sold only to foreign diplomats and top officials, who paid in dollars. At that time most Christmas things were sold in the markets full of "xiao shang, xiao faner" - hucksters shouting "the best from western Craze Mass".

I once asked a market trader in Nanjing, a woman in her 60s wearing a red beret, "What is Christmas? What's it for?"

"That is the date for USA God! You see my hat, this is their Craze Mass hat, westerners like the colour red ... I did wonder if that was true after everybody said capitalists like black; but as you know, those rich capitalists are very colourful. Money and wealth bring colour to human lives ... come on, buy one, forget your age ... we have missed out on a lot." I bought my first ever Christmas tree from her. It was made from paper, was no bigger than my hand and had sesame seed-size stars.
(via Guardian)

"Craze Mass" ... Through the magic of the Chinese market, they know us better than we know ourselves...

And when is the US edition of the Guardian going to happen, anyhow? I am so, so ready for it...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

This Story Has It All! 

I should retire from blogging after posting this one. It has, I swear to you, everything that a story should have.

SUV's. Those godawful ribbon stickers. "Support" for the "military." Shameless astroturfing. Country music. The military (well, sorta...you'll see.) So far I have seen no mention of hound dogs, one's mother, or prison, but I keep cracking up before I can get all the way through it. I would suspect the Tennessean of making this up, it is so good, but as it is well known that Gannett editors have no detectable sense of humor that is impossible. Go, read the whole thing:

(via Nashville Tennessean)
Country singer Chely Wright said yesterday she was dismissing the head of her fan club and shutting down a team of volunteers after The Tennessean learned that some of them posed as members of the military or their families to promote her latest song.

Seventeen members of a handpicked team of fans contacted radio stations around the country asking for more airplay for Wright's pro-military ballad, The Bumper of My SUV. It was all part of an organized campaign by leaders of the fan club who encouraged the team to do such things as ''tell 'em your husband is a marine — whatever it takes.''

After Wright learned that The Tennessean intended to publish an article about the campaign in today's newspaper, she issued a statement saying that she had dismissed Chuck Walter, a longtime friend who has headed her fan club since 1996.

Wright said she was ''shocked, saddened and deeply upset by this unethical behavior.'' She said Walter was ''an unpaid volunteer who acted without my knowledge or direction.''

In an interview a day earlier, Wright had described Walter as ''my best friend. We talk all the time, about everything.''
Wadda ya wanna bet she's invited to perform at the ReCoronation?

Dignity? It's Just Not for Poor People Any More 

If you are ever tempted to think that maybe the winger's hatred of an individual's right to control their own body doesn't really apply to you, remember this guy. And if you think this one too is inapplicable because you aren't on welfare and can't imagine you ever could be, remember the saying about "First they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up..."

(via Mnpls. Star-Tribune)
State Rep. Marty Seifert, a conservative with a knack for inflammatory proposals, wants to mandate testing to determine whether welfare clients smoke cigarettes. He'd reduce their benefits if they do.

And he said his proposal, which he plans to introduce in the Legislature next month, could be extended to others who are subsidized by taxpayers, such as college students on state grants.

"I only wish I could somehow test and comply for alcohol and gambling, too, since there shouldn't be taxpayer subsidization of any of these unnecessary vices," Seifert said.
Not being quite desperate enough for welfare yet, I intend to go smoke a couple of the leaves of my choice and meditate on just what this pompous asshold would consider to be a necessary vice. My guess is he's got a few of them.....

Future Rama Lama 

The war goes on. The madness continues. Our Sunday paper has sixteen ounces of lurid greedmongering advertising and two ounces of tepid news. The historian Arthur Link said, referring to the 1920’s, that they were “an era when great traditions and ideals were repudiated or forgotten, when the American people, propelled by a crass materialism in their scramble for wealth, uttered a curse on…years of reform endeavor.” That during this time “political representatives of big business and Wall Street executed a relentless and successful campaign in state and nation to subvert the regulatory structure that had been built at the cost of so much toil and sweat…to restore a Hanna-like reign of special privilege to benefit business, industry and finance… to engulf the land in fear of communism…manifested in suppression of civil liberties, revival of nativism and in the triumph of racism and prejudice in immigration legislation.” Days of intense research in the RDF labs have concluded that history is repeating itself. The future is ours to envision. Marge Piercy’s Luciente in Woman on the Edge of Time said it well to the traveler from our time:

”Can I give you tactics?” Bee turned her chin back toward him. “There’s always a thing you can deny your oppressor, if only your allegiance. Your belief. Your co-oping. Often, even with vastly unequal power, you can find or force an opening to fight back. In your time many without power found ways to fight. Till that became a power.”

“But you’re still fighting. It isn’t over yet!”

“How is it ever over?” Luciente waved a hand. “In time the sun goes nova. Big bang. What else? We renew, regenerate. Or die.”

“But you don’t seem to believe really in more—not more people, more things, or even more money.”

Luciente leaned against a pine, her fingers playing with the ridged bark. “Someday the gross repair will be done. The oceans will be balanced, the rivers flow clean, the wetlands and forests flourish. There’ll be no more enemies. No Them and Us. We can quarrel joyously with each other about important matters of idea and art. The vestiges of the old ways will fade. I can’t know that time—any more than you can ultimately know us. We can only know what we can truly imagine. Finally what we see comes from ourselves.”

Happy holidays, if you get any. Know that the idealists of the '20's could envision us today, fighting the same powers. We are hunkering down in the middle of the wintertime web at RDF, making sure to have funeral clothing for the January 20th temporary interment of American Idealism, but while we sit shiva in sackcloth and ashes for peace and justice, at the same time we mourn, we will be lifting a glass or three of fine whiskey with an eye to a better future and in memory of those progressives that came before us. Salud! The Democratic Party is ours to take back. The past is ours to embrace and the future is ours to envision.

Rummy finally gets his arm out of the sling! 

So now, unindicted felon (back) Rumsfeld can actually sign the condolence letters to the soldiers he and his boss killed in their war of choice:

In a statement provided to Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper, Rumsfeld said: "I wrote and approved the now more than 1,000 letters sent to family members and next of kin of each of the servicemen and women killed in military action. While I have not individually signed each one, in the interest of ensuring expeditious contact with grieving family members, I have directed that in the future I sign each letter."

"Expeditious contact with grieving family members..." I love it! And call me crazy, but it seems to me one way to really expedite the process would be not to have so many letters to sign.... So get off the pot and get these guys the armor they keep asking for, Rummy!

The controversy arose when soldier-turned-writer David H. Hackworth penned a column on Nov. 22 reporting that two Pentagon-based colonels told him that Rumsfeld "has relinquished this sacred duty to a signature device rather than signing the sad documents himself." After checking with various families of the dead, Hackworth wrote that "one father bitterly commented that he thought it was a shame that the SecDef could keep his squash schedule but not find the time to sign his dead son's letter."

Hackworth wrote that a Pentagon spokesman, Jim Turner, dutifully told him that "Rumsfeld signs the letters himself." Now, that assertion turns out to be inoperative.

Film at 11...

Stars and Stripes quoted families of the dead saying they were insulted that Rumsfeld did not sign the letters himself. They also said they were suspicious about the signature on similar letters they received from President Bush, but a White House spokesman said Bush does put pen to paper himself.
(via WaPo)

Right. And a White House statement becomes inoperative when Hell freezes over. Poor Rummy. He's starting to look expendable. I wonder if he has a nanny?

Blue, blue Christmas 

BuyBlue.org and ChooseTheBlue.org (via WaPo)

Why give your money to people who are trying to screw you by contributing to the Republicans? you?

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