Saturday, January 08, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

I'm having a real crisis of conscience about this "weekend" thing. I mean, doesn't it interfere with the freedom of contract between employee and employer?

Vote early and often. And help with the server costs.

The question that begs to be asked: Has Ketchum put any winger bloggers on the payroll? 

You remember Ketchum—the PR firm that the Republicans used as a cutout to funnel winger blowhard Armstrong "I am not a house boy" Williams $250,000 of taxpayer dollars, so he would propagandize for the No Child Left Behind Act while posing as an independent commentator? (Josh Marshall; Chicago Tribune; USA Today) Of course you do.

Not that there's anything remarkable about either the Bush administration using your money for propaganda, or breaking the law (here) to do it. In fact, that's all standard operating procedure for these guys:

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said that the administration's efforts make her "extremely nervous and uneasy."

"At first I thought it was an aberration, but now -- certainly with the Education Department -- it appears to be a pattern and I'm definitely wondering who else is on their payroll," she said.
(Seattle Post Intelligencer)

So are we, Lucy. So are we....

Anyhow, Ketchum is a sharp, forward-thinking outfit, and here are their views on the blogosphere:

What do you consider the next steps that public relations must take to ‘own’ blogs and be able to most effectively use this medium for companies and clients [like the Republican Party]?

Adam Brown: I think there is about to be a shakedown with blogs. Advertising is trying to own blogs the same way it took ownership of the Internet. But the way information is shared on a blog isn’t appropriate for advertising. Advertising is about a call to action. PR is more about information transfer and information sharing. It’s about changing someone’s thoughts, beliefs, emotions and perceptions of a company, product or brand. And that’s what blogs are about. I think we need to take the initiative and demonstrate what blogs are best suited for. Blogs are for information transfer, and PR is about information transfer, and that’s why the two go together.

Nicholas Scibetta: That’s a great point. PR has a snug fit with blogs. And we as practitioners need to embrace blogs wholeheartedly. We need to really dig deep to understand what the mindset of bloggers is and what we can do to foster mutually beneficial relationships with them. We are, as Adam said, different from advertising in terms of the call to action and the straight sell. The truth is you couldn’t have asked for a more organic development of a tool to emerge to suit the objectives of PR.

Um, "mutually beneficial" like $250,O00 worth of beneficial?

So, the question begs to be asked, doesn't it?

Has Ketchum already "taken the initiative," and are they funding anyone in the right-wing blogosphere?

I mean, the very same PR firm the Republicans have hired for a disinformation campaign says they want to "own" some blogs. Maybe we should take them at their word, and ask if they already do?

UPDATE In fact, maybe you'd like to ask Ketchum yourselves! Adam Brown, Nicholas Scibetta, and Ray Kotcher, CEO.

UPDATE Oliver Willis is all over this story.

UPDATE Alert reader Nancy asks:

Do you count paid Trolls in this? I am convinced some sites are targeted.

Nancy: Yes. I always thought the GOP Team Leader points were sufficient to account for troll infestations, but given the Armstrong story it makes sense that the trolls would be bought and paid for.

UPDATE Via ta at Loaded Mouth, Instapundit says he's virtuously declined "substantial amounts" to author OpEds. So, the money's out there. I wonder if all the wingers have been as pure-minded as InstaPundit?

MilBlog Doctor Shut Down 

This is from a couple days ago but I haven't seen anybody else pick it up. Doesn't sound like truth-telling is any more popular with the military than you might expect, but it doesn't sound like the truth-teller gives a whole great lot of a damn either:

(via Philadelphia Inquirer)

A Bucks County military doctor serving in Iraq says he was forced to shut down his Internet war diary last week after Army officials decided his gripping accounts of frontline medicine constituted a breach of Army regulations.

Maj. Michael Cohen, a doctor with the 67th Combat Support Hospital unit, had chronicled the bloody aftermath of the Dec. 21 mess-hall bombing in Mosul that killed 22. That account and 12 months of other postings on his Web log, www.67cshdocs.com, were replaced with a short notice:

"Levels above me have ordered, yes ORDERED, me to shut down this Web site. They cite that the information contained in these pages violates several Army Regulations," Cohen wrote, adding that he disagreed with the ban.

Military blogs have grown numerous since the invasion of Iraq, often providing a closer account of the war than traditional media. But such "milblogs" present a problem for military brass because the diaries are available to anyone with Internet access, including insurgents.

Cohen, 35, grew up in the Council Rock School District. Reached by e-mail yesterday, he said that he had shut down the site after receiving a written warning but that he had not been told how his blog had offended his superiors.

Cohen was chief emergency room doctor when the Mosul bombing happened. His postings chronicled life in a modern MASH unit, treating U.S. Stryker brigade troops and wounded Iraqi insurgents alike, and they were popular. Since the blog went offline last week, Cohen said, he has received 150 e-mails from people urging him to put the site back up.
Hmm, didn't they do a movie about a MASH unit one time? Seems like it was moderately successful, spawned a little TV show too. Dr. Cohen, you got enough material already. Have your people call my people, we'll get the scriptwriters going tomorrow. Everybody loves a sequel baby, you'll be a star.

At least the paper money Bush gave us is still good for something 


Travel, and watch your money melt away before your eyes! Actually, the exchange rate is a lot more fabulous than it used to be: The Euro's only at 1.30 now....

IOKIYAR Hits the Bigtime! 

We were all saddened when Paul Krugman lowered the worth-reading percentage of the New York Times by about 50% (Frank Rich being their other justification for killing trees) when he took off a few months ago "to write a book."

Well, apparently there really is a book. Rumor had it that it was to be a work on economics, but a hint appears that it might be Something Completely Different, as they say. A few snippets....and, oh yeah, please note that a certain Popular Item from the Liberal Lexicon has snuck into the home of the Gray Lady:

(via NYT)
Last but not least, in my bad novel the president, who portrays himself as the defender of good against evil, will preside over the widespread use of torture.

How did we find ourselves living in a bad novel? It was not ever thus. Hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels have always been with us, on both sides of the aisle. But 9/11 created an environment some liberals summarize with the acronym Iokiyar: it's O.K. if you're a Republican.

The public became unwilling to believe bad things about those who claim to be defending the nation against terrorism. And the hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels of the right, empowered by the public's credulity, have come out in unprecedented force.
Go read. Nothing that we (cough) here didn't already know, but a nice summary of facts for those teetering on the brink of tumbling off the Good Ship Bushiepop.

Old Habits Die Hard 

No, this is not the leadup to the old nun joke:

(via AP (via NYT, sorry))

The state's chief elections officer, accused of mishandling the presidential vote in Ohio, sent a fund-raising letter for his own 2006 gubernatorial campaign that was accompanied by a request for illegal contributions.
A pledge card with the letter from Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who co-chaired the Bush-Cheney election campaign in Ohio, said ``corporate & personal checks are welcome.''

Corporate donations are illegal in Ohio.
Of course they blamed it on the printer, and no corporate donations were received, and if they HAD been received they would have been sent back quicker than a box of skunks...hmm, why did the vision of "a box of skunks" pop into my head just now? I must go brood on this, probably with the aid of drink. Blessed be the weekend.

Who Wrote It? OK, I'll Tell You.... 

Bear with me. It's a short read, and as far as I know only Corrente brings you things like this to chew on:

Then There's Only One Thing To (Dann Gibt Es Nur Eins!)

You. Man at the machine and man in the workshop. If they order you tomorrow to stop making water pipes and cook pots - and start making helmets and machine guns, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Girl behind the counter and girl at the office. If they order you tomorrow to fill hand grenades and mount scopes on sniper rifles, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Factory owner. If they order you tomorrow, to sell gun powder instead of talcum powder and cocoa, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Researcher in the laboratory. If they order you tomorrow, to invent a new death to do away with old life, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Poet in your room. If they order you tomorrow not to sing love songs, but songs of hate, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Doctor at the sick bed. If they order you tomorrow to certify men as fit for war, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Minister in the pulpit. If they order you tomorrow to bless murder and praise war as holy, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Captain on the steamer. If they order you tomorrow not to transport wheat - but cannons and tanks, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Pilot at the airfield. If they order you tomorrow to carry bombs and incendiaries over cities, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Tailor at your table. If they order you tomorrow to start sewing uniforms, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Judge in your robe. If they order you tomorrow to report to the military court, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Man at the train station. If tomorrow they order you to give the signal for the ammunition and the troop trains to depart, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Man in the village and man in the city. If they come for you tomorrow and with your induction papers, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO!

You. Mother in Normandy and mother in the Ukraine, you, mother in Frisco and London, you, on the banks of the Huang Ho and the Mississippi, you, mother in Nepal and Hamburg and Cairo and Oslo - mothers in all regions on earth, mothers all over the world, if they order you tomorrow to bear children - nurses for military hospitals and new soldiers for new battles, mothers all over the world, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! Mothers, say NO!

Because if you don't say NO, if YOU don't say no, mothers, then, then:

In the noisy port cities, hazy with steam, the large groaning ships will grow silent, and like titanic, mammoth corpses, filled with water, they will lethargically totter against the lifeless, lonely, algae-, seaweed-, and shell-covered walls of the docks, the body that previously appeared so gleaming and threatening now reeking like a foul fish cemetery, rotten, sickly and dead—the streetcars will be senselessly bent and dented like dull, glass-eyed birdcages and lie like petals beside the confused, steel skeletons of the wires and tracks, behind rotten sheds with holes in their roofs, in lost, crater-strewn streets—a mud-gray, heavy, leaden silence will roll in, voracious and growing in size, will establish itself in the schools and universities and theaters, on sport fields and children's playgrounds, horrible and greedy and unstoppable—the sunny, juicy grapes will spoil on the neglected slopes, the rice will dry up in the desolate earth, the potatoes will freeze in the plowed fields and the cows will stretch their dead, rigid legs into the sky like upturned milking stools—in the institutions, the ingenious inventions of the great physicians will become sour, rot, mold into fungus—the last sacks of flour, the last jars of strawberries, the pumpkins and the cherry juice will spoil in the kitchens, chambers and cellars, in the cold storage lockers and storage areas - the bread under the upturned tables and on splintered plates will become green and the melted butter will smell like soft soap, the grain on the fields will have bent down to the earth alongside rusty plows like a defeated army, and the smoking, brick chimneys, the food and smokestacks of the stamping factories, covered by eternal grass, will crumble, crumble, crumble—then the last human being, clueless with slashed intestines and polluted lungs, will wander alone under the poisonous, glowing sun and vacillating constellations, wander lonely among immense mass graves and cold idols of the gigantic, concrete-block, deserted cities, the last human being, scrawny, mad, blasphemous, complaining—and his terrible complaint: WHY? will trickle away unheard into the steppe, waft through the burst ruins and die out in the rubble of churches, slap against impenetrable bunkers, fall into pools of blood, unheard, answerless, the last animal-like cry of the last animal human being—all of this will come about, tomorrow, tomorrow perhaps, perhaps already tonight, if— if-if— you don’t say NO.

Yeah, I’ve been reading again. All of the above was written by Wolfgang Borchert, a conscript in the German Army in WWII, who did time twice for speaking his mind, was sent twice to the Eastern Front, and died of war-related illness at a young age shortly after the war was over after only writing for two years.

There’s a lesson in his words somewhere for Free America. As Marcuse was supposed to have said, "Zee only proper response to zee one-dimensional machine of destruction is complete rrrrrefusal!" No?

Moon Shiner tapped as potential US trade rep? 

Via John Gorenfeld:
Moon movement VIP under consideration for top U.S. trade job
The Washington Post reports today that Josette Shiner is among five potential picks to to replace her boss, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, who has been tapped to be Condi Rice's #2 man.

Once described as the most "enigmatic" of the Moon operatives in the Washington Times newsroom, Shiner was appointed by George W. Bush to a lesser U.S. trade ambassador post earlier in his administration, raising eyebrows in D.C., MSNBC reported at the time.

Shiner joined Moon's organization early on, as a college student in 1975, when Moon was much more frank about calling for his followers to take power in the U.S. government, and forge an "automatic theocracy to rule the world."

For further details... see link above


Paulie Jug Ears To Hang On To Life A Little Longer 

Startling life altering confession from Paul Wolfowitz:

Pentagon's Wolfowitz Says He Staying in Bush Team
"I have been asked to stay and have accepted," Wolfowitz told Reuters through a spokesman. "I can't imagine life after Don Rumsfeld," he added, referring to his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Right-o then Wolfie - you - fucking - lunatic!... but, hey, there is no need to torture yourself any longer with such horrific post Rumsfeldian imaginings. Do yourself and all of U.S. a favor:



Wingers will eat their own 

Great news!

Newt Gingrich is taking steps toward a potential presidential bid in 2008.
(via AP)

Um, what about the Bush mandate?

UPDATE Oh, wait, Gingrish is just self-shilling his new book. Why was I imagining it was about anything other than money?

LAND-O-LINKS! ~ LC Blogaround in progress... 

Points of interest: edward pig and Bark Bark Woof Woof each have posted comprehensive Liberal Coalition "Blogaround" listings. Which are brief summaries of individual posts of interest appearing on different Liberal Coalition blogs.

For full details, the contents of each listing, see:
[1] - edward pig's LC Blogaround

[2] - Bark Bark Woof Woof LC Blogaround

For instance: You can visit T Rex's Guide To Life and read along as he fields and responds to recent commenters suggestions, critiques, and general examinations. Such as this dandy observation below:
Kayla said:
You should try to examine whether or not youre using bias in your essays--it it quite obvious that youre liberal, since you use conservatives believe and liberals know.

At Left is Right I learned about P!:
P! = Progressive, Populist, Participatory, Productive

If you believe that we are in a State of Emergency . . . [...] P! will "officially" debut in mid- to late-January, 2005. In some ways, P! will be very much like other "lefty" blogs: analysis, commentary, essays, and so forth. [...]

...If you support the notions and values I've suggested here and can commit to (a) posting thoughtfully at least once each week and (b) participating in consensus management of editorial policy and site content/format, I invite you to consider being a Contributing Editor.

Take a peek at P!

So visit the Blogaround links/listings cited above and learn about all kinds of new and interesting stuff you probably weren't even previously aware of.

For second instance: How many of you knew...
There was Moses, for example, one of the greatest salesman and real estate promoters that ever lived. Read how he conducted the Promised Land project and consider the Israelites.

That's from a publication titled: "Moses, Persuader of Men," by Henry Cragin Walker. Published by the Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company in 1927.

You probably would have never realized to what extent Moses was invested in the real estate development racket unless you had visited Corrente. You also probably never knew that Rudolph Valentino, at least according to his wife Miss Rambova, continued his career long after he was dead. Yup, its true - at least according to Miss Rambova - and who would know better than she. I ask ya.


Make up your own jokes! 

"[BUSH] I know it's hard but it's hard for a reason,"
(via AP)

If this quote doesn't nail Shrum into his coffin, nothing will 

How wrong can one man be?

It was a little after 7 p.m. on election night 2004. The network exit polls showed John Kerry leading George Bush in both Florida and Ohio by three points. ... Bob Shrum, Kerry's friend and close adviser, couldn't resist the moment. "May I be the first to say 'Mr. President'?" said Shrum. The others cringed.
(via Newsweek)

As Aristotle says: "You are what you repeatedly do."

What the millionaire Beltway Dem Consultants like Shrum repeatedly do is LOSE—and then add insult to injury by stashing millions of dollars of our contributions in their bank accounts*. A cozy racket for them. Not so good for us. The Beltway Dem Consultants are the Washington Generals of American politics. It's time to get rid of them. A good way to start would be by tarring and feathering Bob Shrum and riding him out of town on a rail. A good way to follow up would be by joining your local Democratic organization and making some waves, like RDF is doing.

* Especially in 2004, after McCain-Feingold.

Durbin doubtful on Gonzales 

Well, it's nice to see at least one Beltway Dem who doesn't roll over when Bush tickles his belly—or applies the electrodes to his testicles*

From a paper in Dick Durbin's district:

WASHINGTON -- Testimony during a confirmation hearing did little to assuage doubts held by Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin regarding the ability of Alberto Gonzales to serve as U.S. attorney general.

Durbin said Gonzales' role in the policy-making "raises questions about his judgment. You can't really predict how someone is going to be (in the attorney general's position). All you can do is look at a person's record. That's why this is so troubling. He was involved in a decision that turned out to be a monumental blunder."

Gonzales' record in Texas government is also of concern to Durbin, particularly Gonzales' role in some 59 death penalty cases in the state.

"I asked him, point blank, if any American person, either government or military, could legally use torture. He said he'd have to get back to me," Durbin said. "I was stunned by his lack of an immediate answer."
(via Southern Illinoisan)

Of course, what I'd like to hear Durbin say is that he'll vote No. Here's hoping this article is a trial balloon.

You can contact Senator Durbin here.

NOTE Incidentally, there's a fine speech by Senator Durbin here in defense of the MoveOn ad that the Cowardly Broadcasting System censored.

* I know I'm making an assumption here, but bear with me, OK?

DéLay quotes Bible, says tsunami victims died because they weren't Christians 

Crooked Timber has the quote. As they day, there's really no other way to interpret the Bible quotation that DéLay reads.

Pandering to the base while standing on the corpses of thousands—that's our modern Republican party!

Realism for the reality-based 

Tinfoil hat boy asks a good question:

Since you're not voting for a Dem again, does that mean

a) you're not voting
b) you're voting republican
c) you're voting green
d) you're leaving the country
e) something else?

What if Barak Obama is our candidate in 2008 (won't happen, but just pretend): would you vote for him? Would you vote for Tom Harkin from Iowa? ...

After the election for about a week I ended all posts "We're so fucked," and somebody called me on it. It's true, but defeatist. I hear you telling me the Dems are Satan, but offering nothing constructive. We get it about the Dems being the second worst political party ever. Now what?

Now what, indeed?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Finally The "Craze Mass" decorations have been put away for another year, hidden deep in one of the underground bunkers of The Mighty Corrente Building, deeper even than the massive wine cellars and the mushroom farm.

What a weight off my mind, not having to worry about "the holidays" any more!

Oh, and as Xan says, vote early and often. We're still here, we're still as bleeding edge as ever, and this year we've brought on fine new writers. I honestly think we have the tightest, most truthful, most fearless, bitterest, most deeply pissed off, and oftentimes the funniest writing in the blogosphere today. Plus, we're the ones who Google-bombed Bush Mandate. Did that meme die fast, or what? And the secret sauce: FarmerToons™. I couldn't be prouder of all our work, and I expect great things in 2005. And FTF.

Not to Beg, Plead or Grovel or Anything... 

But the second round cutting for the 2004 Kouvax Awards is in progress over at Wampum.

Make George Bush cry. Make Jebbie realize he'll have to take his wife's name if he ever wants to be Preznit. Make Al "Abu" Gonzalez-Ghraib get a phantom pain in his genitals every time the word "torture" is spoken in his presence.

Or if you can't do any of those things, just go vote for us. Symbolic gestures count too.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Little Danny Okrent's overlord sets the new baseline for chutzpah 

After 11/2, everything changed, and I decided to stop paying the Times Tax by purchasing the paper edition. And despite an occasional slip, I've succeeded, and the Times is poorer by $60 (the dailies) and $40 (the Sunday). Looks like there are others like me, since the The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) is feeling a "troubling" revenue pinch:

"We are reviewing the [New York Times] site to see whether or not there would be any areas where we should change the business model [to subscription]," said the paper's spokeswoman, Catherine Mathis, according to a Reuters report.

The upcoming issue of BusinessWeek, which features a cover story on The New York Times Co., says there's been an internal debate on the question of subscriptions. "It gets to the question of how comfortable are we training a generation of readers to get quality information for free," Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the paper's publisher, is quoted as saying in the article. "That is troubling."
(via Times)

Oh my. That's almost too rich: "quality information." Is that chutzpah, or what? Say, does Judy "Kneepads" Miller still have a job? Thought so. Talk to me, Arthur, when she doesn't.

Oh, and:

The Times site had about 18.5 million unique visitors in November, according to the Reuters report.

Interesting. That puts Kos in the same order of magnitude; about a quarter the size, but in striking distance, and rising fast in the league tables.

Like we said: Disintermediation (back).

Part of me hates to see The Times go into a death spiral, but at least I won't have to listen to Little Danny Okrent whine about how everything would be lovely if it weren't for those pesky readers (back).

ISO Conservative Commentator (No Pros Please!) 

Hey, it looks like Jebbie's got no problems hiring his fluffers, so why can't his Big Brother get His act together?

NEW YORK Just days after Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fired a top official over sexual-harassment allegations, Bush's office confirmed it has hired Lloyd Brown, former editorial-page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, who resigned from the paper in November following public allegations of sexual harassment and plagiarism.

Well, it just shows that Republicans can always forgive and forget—other Republicans!

Brown, 65, quit the paper on Nov. 2 after a former editorial writer there, Billee Bussard, wrote an article in the local Folio Weekly that asserted that Brown watched Internet pornography in the paper's office and also conducted sexual conversations on the telephone while viewing the sexual material.

Any loofah involved? But let's be reasonable: What's a little pr0n, when the guy is open to fresh, new conservative thinking?

Brown generated national attention and staff protests in 2000, after writing an editorial that called the era of slavery in the U.S. "merely a small and shrinking part of the human condition." His paper ran a clarification, apologizing for any impressions that the editorial was "insensitive or demeaning."
(via Editor and Publisher)

"Small and shrinking," eh? That explains a lot. Poor guy...

Hey, I wonder if Brown was a small-time Armstrong Williams? On the VRWC take at the Florida Times-Union? Maybe that explains why Jebbie just had to hire him, now of all times....

Republican lawlessness: Feckless Beltway Dems let Gonzales off the hook on "Rule by Decree" 

Evil, and illegal, as torture is, what's worse is that the President can issue an executive "over-ride" to immunize lawbreakers against prosecution. Once it starts, where does it end? With the end of the rule of law, the overthrow of the Constitution, and Presidential rule by decree, that's where.

And the feckless Beltway Dems let Gonzales float like a butterfly and sting like a bee on this one. They can't even put him near the ropes, let alone on them. Read the whole sorry mess in Slate:

Remember what Dick Cheney said to Sen. Patrick Leahy this past June on the Senate floor? Think of Alberto Gonzales' testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Leahy is the ranking Democrat, as the Bush administration's logical follow-up: "And your mother."

for most of Thursday's nearly nine-hour hearing the committee's Democrats wanted an answer to just one question: Does Gonzales think the president has the power to authorize torture by immunizing American personnel from prosecution for it?

During the hearing, Leahy called this idea, which comes from the August 2002 document dubbed the "Bybee memo," "the commander-in-chief override." And by hearing's end it was clear that Gonzales believed in it. (Otherwise, why not simply answer, "No"?)

Then comes the question of the day: "Now, as attorney general, would you believe the president has the authority to exercise a commander-in-chief override and immunize acts of torture?" Leahy asks. That's "a hypothetical that's never going to occur," Gonzales says, because we don't torture people. He continues, "This president has said we're not going to engage in torture under any circumstances, and therefore that portion of the opinion was unnecessary and was the reason that we asked that that portion be withdrawn." Translation: Yes, I think the president has the legal authority to immunize acts of torture, but he doesn't want to, so I'm not going to bother with defending the idea.

Finally, Harold Hongju Koh, a Yale professor of international law (and dean of the Yale Law School), solves the riddle—about the "commander-in-chief override" not the mysterious nanny—by proposing a simple question for Gonzales. He tells the Judiciary Committee, "A simple question you could have asked today was, 'Is the anti-torture statute constitutional?" If Gonzales answers yes, then he does not believe the president can override the statute. Mystery solved. Only one problem with this professorial inquiry: By the time Koh testified, Gonzales was already gone.
(via Slate)

Future Supreme Court nominee Gonzales says the President is now above the law. What the Republicans have always wanted under Nixon (Watergate), Reagan (Ira-Contra), now they have: Absolute power. (And, in a classic example of winger projection, "the rule of law" was what the whole $70-million-for-a-blowjob farce was supposed to be about).

Kiss the Constitution goodbye, folks...

A couple of things 

Appreciate this. Understand that the people killing us in Iraq aren't motivated by Gore Vidal or inspired by Susan Sontag or organized by Michael Moore or in cahoots in any way with any of the right's celebrity piñatas - not literally, not metaphorically, not if you look at it in a certain way, not to any infinitesimal degree, not in any sense, not in any way at all. They do not lead a clandestine international conspiracy of Evil which has corrupted everything in every foreign country plus everything in America not owned by loyal Bush Republican apparatchiks; nor are they members of such a conspiracy; nor does a conspiracy remotely matching that description exist. To think otherwise is, literally and to a very great degree, insanity. It is insane.

And if you really want to help the American war effort, you can join the fucking armed forces and go to Iraq like thousands of others have, and then you can do the best job you can to show them that Americans care about them and want, above all else, for all of our futures to be better and more peaceful than the past, and get paid shit. You will then be my personal hero, really, and I hope you don't get killed or maimed or see or do something that makes you hate everything for the rest of your life, which is a very real possibility. If you, like me, are too much of a coward to risk your life and health on a mission like that, then you can donate to charities which help soldiers (although it is worth looking into where and what kind of help is needed – some places don’t need it as much as others). But the easiest thing you can do is influence the politicians who create the policies – and in some cases the military strategies - which are being carried out in Iraq, but to do this in a useful way you first have to make some contact with reality. Reality is that the situation in Iraq is horrible, the outlook for any lasting peace is grim, and that this has nothing to do with a nebulous, malignant, all-powerful “Left”, and everything to do with the people in power who make bad and stupid policies. You can pull your head out of your ass, stop dreaming up stupid conspiracy theories about how everyone around the world you don’t like is working together to destroy Freedom, and tell them that they need to do a better job. And if they won’t do a better job, the solution is not to get upset at people who aren’t waving their pom-poms or denouncing Saddam single-mindedly enough for you, it is to fire the fuck-ups so we can maybe have some chance at salvaging something from this fiasco.

…And, before you ask: no, I have no clue about how we can improve things in Iraq. I don’t have a single idea for how we can un-shit the bed, and I don’t hold out much hope that this whole bed-shitting episode is ever going to be brought to a lemony-fresh conclusion. I do, however, know who shit the bed, and have some sense of how frequently he shits there. Let’s stop shitting for a start.
(compliments of the Poorman)


I've been meaning to link to that post by the Poorman for a couple of days now but have been distracted by this pesky job of mine.

I'm thinking I may have to open my first Constitutional History class on Monday night with a little discussion of the Gonzales nomination. Is it my imagination or do Bush's folks just not seem to understand that it doesn't matter whether the president has the authority to do such things it's that the president shouldn't do these things.

The important thing is that every human being has certain inalienable rights and that torture violates them. It's really quite simple. What's astonishing to me is that the folks in the "moral values" crowd are the ones arguing that it's really okay because the president has the authority.

You might say I've been writing about this for quite some time -- if you want to read a post of mine from January of 2002 on the subject, go here.

Whiney Joe to help Bush phase out Social Security? 

Josh Marshall has been all over this one.

Theocracy Rising: Fritz Stern issues a warning 

Warning From a Student of Democracy's Collapse
By Chris Hedges - Jan 6, 2005 [NYTimes - link requires log-in]

FRITZ STERN, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a leading scholar of European history, startled several of his listeners when he warned in a speech about the danger posed in this country by the rise of the Christian right. In his address in November, just after he received a prize presented by the German foreign minister, he told his audience that Hitler saw himself as "the instrument of providence" and fused his "racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity."

Adolph Hitler: "The greatness of every powerful organization as the incorporation of an idea in this world is rooted in the religious fanaticism with which it intolerably enforces itself against everything else, fanatically convinced of its own right. If an idea is right in itself, and if thus armed it embarks on the struggle in this world, it is invincible and every persecution will lead to its inner strengthening.

The greatness of Christianity was not rooted in its attempted negotiations of compromise with perhaps similarly constructed philosphical opinions of the old world, but in the inexorably fanatical preaching and representation of its own doctrine. ~ Mein Kampf, chapter XII "Development of the NSGWP", pages 486-487.

"Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics," he said of prewar Germany, "but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."


...Dr. Stern, 78, the author of books like "The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology" and university professor emeritus at Columbia University, has devoted a lifetime to analyzing how the Nazi barbarity became possible. He stops short of calling the Christian right fascist but his decision to draw parallels, especially in the uses of propaganda, was controversial.


"When I saw the speech my eyes lit up," said John R. MacArthur, whose book "Second Front" examines wartime propaganda. "The comparison between the propagandistic manipulation and uses of Christianity, then and now, is hidden in plain sight. No one will talk about it. No one wants to look at it."

Dr. Stern was a schoolboy in 1933 when Hitler was appointed the German chancellor.


"There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented," he said. "There was a longing for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although also significant differences."

HE warns of the danger in an open society of "mass manipulation of public opinion, often mixed with mendacity and forms of intimidation." He is a passionate defender of liberalism as "manifested in the spirit of the Enlightenment and the early years of the American republic."

"The radical right and the radical left see liberalism's appeal to reason and tolerance as the denial of their uniform ideology," he said. "Every democracy needs a liberal fundament, a Bill of Rights enshrined in law and spirit, for this alone gives democracy the chance for self-correction and reform. Without it, the survival of democracy is at risk. Every genuine conservative knows this."

...for Americans to be ignorant of what is going on in their country's churches is dangerous. Had we been more knowledgeable about this subject, none of us would have been surprised by the rise of the Religious Right. Had we been more knowledgeable, we would have a better understanding of what made this rise possible, of how we should feel about this rise, and what can and must be done about it.


...the category of religion to which twentieth-century Americans have found their way in increasing numbers - a religion whose public faces today include those of Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell - is not a setting in which intelligent, serious people can expect to work out meaningful and responsible answers to ultimate questions. Nor is it something that the earliest followers of Jesus would have recognized as Christianity. I don't think it's an exaggeration, in fact, to suggest that if the first Christians were exposed to the rhetoric of Robertson, Reed, Dobson, Falwell, and company, they might well ask, in astonishment, "How did these vicious people manage to steal the name of Jesus?" ~ Bruce Bawer, Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity; 1997; pages 27-28.

One Nation Under Biblical Law:
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after.

World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less... Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. ~ George Grant, former Executive Director of Coral Ridge Ministries, The Changing of the Guard, Biblical Principles for Political Action; pages 50-51.

Further Resource Link | Expert blog:
FREDERICK CLARKSON, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Read Theocracy vs. Democracy in America - Friday, December 31, 2004.


Bush comes out against voter intimidation! 

What courage! Oh, wait, it's in Iraq:

"[BUSH]And it's exciting times for the Iraqi people. And it's so exciting there are some who are trying to intimidate people from going to the polls."
(via WaPo)

"Exciting..." I love it.

I don't even know what to say about the war anymore, it's so obviously hosed. Read the latest in The Atlantic, Especially William Langewiesche on real life in Baghdad today.

My gut take, FWIW, is that Iraq really will disintegrate, into the Shiite south, the Kurdish north (which already Israel is working toward, back), and the Sunni "heartland."

Maybe that would have been the right thing all along, since Iraq is really just a motley collection of provinces sintered together by the British Foreign Office on a bad day (back)
... But the real question is whether such an outcome would be in the interests of the US or not. It's hard to see how.

Here, Beltway Dem! Here, boy! Fetch! Heel! 


House Republican leaders, already unhappy with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) -- who they say blindsided them in 2003 on an important tax bill -- were grumbling anew about him yesterday when Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) seconded a House Democratic move to debate Ohio's electoral vote, thus requiring hours of pointless debate before the Republicans prevailed.

Democratic leaders apparently had tried to head Boxer off. House Republicans felt that Frist, off visiting countries battered by the tsunami, should have been around at least to try to help out "when we're trying to get the president elected," said one well-placed source in the House leadership.
(via Al Kamen in WaPo)

Oh? Which "leaders," plural—leading what and where pray tell?—would that have been?

Beltway Dems to Gonzales: I wanna be your dog 

What Bill Schorr said.

NOTE: With serious, serious apologies to Iggy Pop.

Armstrong Williams, propagandist - media man-whore... 

bought and paid for.

Your tax dollars at work. Because... Iokiyar!

White House paid commentator to promote law
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY
Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

The top Democrat on the House Education Committee, Rep. George Miller of California, called the contract "a very questionable use of taxpayers' money" that is "probably illegal." He said he will ask his Republican counterpart to join him in requesting an investigation.


The contract, detailed in documents obtained by USA TODAY through a Freedom of Information Act request, also shows that the Education Department, through the Ketchum public relations firm, arranged with Williams to use contacts with America's Black Forum, a group of black broadcast journalists, "to encourage the producers to periodically address" NCLB.


The contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited propaganda," or any sort of lobbying for programs funded by the government, said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "And it's propaganda."


Williams' contract was part of a $1 million deal with Ketchum that produced "video news releases" designed to look like news reports. The Bush administration used similar releases last year to promote its Medicare prescription drug plan, prompting a scolding from the Government Accountability Office, which called them an illegal use of taxpayers' dollars.

Ah the old VNR's once again. I'm sure the cheery LRWM truckles at CNNMSGOPFOXNoise etc...etc..etc... will be "outraged", I tell you!, positively "outraged!". Oh sure they will be. And a Democratic Party sponsored "investigation" to boot! --- Oooo, those things are sooo scary.


UPDATE A useful letter from Media Matters.

Roll over and snivel like a good little Democrat 

Dick Myer at CBS throws some cold water on the leg humpers:
...Against the Grain commentary.

I am shocked (not “shocked, shocked” but sincerely shocked) that Gonzales will get a single Democratic vote, much a relatively less easy confirmation. And I would have expected that some Republicans -- the ones who profess deep belief in the American mission of fostering Arab democracy, the ones who have renounced Secretary Rumsfeld, like McCain, Hagel, Lugar – would be struggling with their votes, too. But no.

If the Democrats in Congress are willing to stand for anything, it seems to me, they ought to be standing against the Gonzales nomination. “Fight” was the favorite verb of the past two democratic presidential candidates: fight for the little guy, the patient, the pensioner and fight against the rich, mighty and powerful.

Here’s a fight worth having and the Democrats are settling for aggressively-intoned hearing questions and hand-wring aye votes.

The Gonzales hearing was a kabuki hazing. The most revealing and thus absurd moment came when Sen. Joe Biden harangued Gonzales for sidestepping tough questions, "This is not about your intelligence, this hearing is not about your competence, it's not about your integrity - it's about your judgment and your candor," he said. "We're looking for candor, old buddy. I love you, but you're not very candid so far."


The fact that Gonzales is a Latino with a compelling life story is clearly putting handcuffs on the hapless Democrats. And what an irony it is that the Republicans are benefiting from a policy Republicans so routinely berate – essentially, it’s affirmative action.


Four years ago, the Democrats rolled over on the Ashcroft nomination. Then they rolled over on the Bush tax cuts, the authority to invade Iraq, the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind and the Medicare reforms. None of that did them one lick of good in November.

If the Democrats have the gumption to fight about anything, it ought to be about this nomination. But it appears they don’t.

Ah, the old look, over there!, a "compelling life story" trick... where have I heard that one before? Oh yeah, now I remember


Temple Thieves in the Holy Land 

The Christian Right's Freakshow of Prophecy Quacks

"The Jews are returning to their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Saviour." - Jerry Falwell

Goodbye Palestine (VII): Prophecy and The Crusade Against Evil, by Jim Miles:
Previously I examined the Israeli right, the Likud, the Haredim, and the Gush Emunim and their impact on Palestine, followed by the support given by the Christian Right's prophetic views. Below, the discussion continues first with a look at Jewish reluctance or outright opposition to those views before returning to the American prophecies.

American Prophecy and The Crusade Against Evil (Continued):

From the Christian point of view "while Christian dispensationalists place Israel as the most important nation in all the world, they do not respect or even like Jews – as Jews." It should occur to most Jewish people to be circumspect in any dealings with the Christian Right, as the relationship is surely a marriage of convenience in which both sides are seeking opportunities with the assistance of, but ultimately at the expense of, the other partner. That is not the spin presented in the media: that spin is the war on terror and their common enemy the 'evil' Satanists known as Islam. The Israeli right seeks a unified, strong and possibly ethnically cleansed state that will lead the world in peace and prosperity. Christianity sees the establishment of a unified Israel as one step in a much bigger picture involving the second coming and the Apocalypse. There is in the Israeli side, people who recognize this clearly – while other Israeli’s may also see it, they are not, at least not yet, ready to break the illusion of harmonious coexistence.

At that point the argument becomes point-counterpoint but not in harmony. Kay Arthur, leader of a Christian organization called Precept Ministries, which takes thousand of pilgrims to the Holy Land argues, "the Jews need conversion, they need to know the Messiah is coming." Further she states that Rabin was assassinated because Israel was "going against the word of God." In rebuttal Yossis Alfer a former Mossad employee, sees the lie in both points of view because "when you see what these people are encouraging Israel and the U.S. to do, that is, ignore the Palestinians, if not worse, if not kick them out, expand the settlements to the greatest extent possible, they are leading us into a scenario of out and out disaster."


-Jim Miles is a Canadian educator who has regularly contributed a series of book reviews to the Palestine Chronicle (www.palestinechronicle.com) under the general rubric of the American Empire. His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization of the global community by the American government.

Long article - continue reading via link above.


Bad novel ideas 

1- Paul Krugman spoons a few from the stew and serves em up for you. [For NYTimes links below: registration/sign-in not required]:

Worse Than Fiction - by PAUL KRUGMAN - Jan 7, 2005
I've been thinking of writing a political novel. It will be a bad novel because there won't be any nuance: the villains won't just espouse an ideology I disagree with - they'll be hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels. [...] In my bad novel, a famous moralist who demanded national outrage over an affair and writes best-selling books about virtue will turn out to be hiding an expensive gambling habit. A talk radio host who advocates harsh penalties for drug violators will turn out to be hiding his own drug addiction.


2- Bob Herbert pokes Alberto Gonzales in the forehead and tells him to get the fuck lost. Which, unfortunately, the wilting dotards of the Democratic Party are too frightened to do themselves. Promoting Torture's Promoter, by Bob Herbert -Jan 7, 2004
Alberto Gonzales, the nominee for United States attorney general, has already shamed us.



Thursday, January 06, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Not such a bad start for the new Congress.

We just have to increase the pressure by one or two orders of magnitude. "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." Eh?

And what Steve Gilliard said.

Ohio challenge: Republican versus Democratic framing 


"If they were willing to stand in polls for countless hours in the rain, as many did in Ohio, than I can surely stand up for them here in the halls of Congress," Tubbs Jones said.
(via San Francisco Chronicle)


"There's a wise saying we've used in Florida the past four years that the other side would be wise to learn: Get over it," said Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla.

Translation: Lay back and enjoy it.

At least for now, I think we won the framing on the Ohio challenge by standing on principle. Against the expectations of some even in the reality-based blogosphere though—blush—never Corrente.

As the Nation puts it:

The decision of US Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, to sign on to the objection raised Thursday by US Rep. John Conyers Jr. and other House Democrats to the counting of Ohio's electoral votes from the 2004 presidential election sent a powerful signal that at least some -- though certainly not most -- Washington Democrats are listening to the grassroots of the party.
(via Nation)

Nice to see that new Senatorial War Room coordinating the attack on Gonzales and the Ohio Challenge and connecting the dots: Both are symptons of Republican lawlessness and quest for total power at any cost. Oh, wait...

Funny how there haven't been any terror alerts since 11/2 

I guess after 11/2, everything changed.

Or not.

Winger projection syndrome 

This takes the biscuit. I just can't read any more! Make up your own jokes!

GONZALES: This is simply people who were morally bankrupt having fun. And I condemn that.
(via WaPo)

But the inaugural isn't for another two weeks!

Oh, and note the handwriting of The Fog Machine (back). Rule 4: "Subordinates are sacrificed to protect superiors." After all, superiors [cough] are never morally bankrupt!

So, does the fish rot from the head, or not? 

Gonzales says No:

GONZALES: [Bush] has also made clear that America stands against and will not tolerate torture under any circumstances.
(via WaPo)

But the FBI has already said Yes (back):

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."

I wonder when our LRWM is going to clarify this descrepancy? Maybe some whistlenblower will release a copy of the Executive order?

Silly, silly Beltway Dems 

Leahy again at the Gonzales hearings:

LEAHY: How about this way: Do you think that other world leaders would have authority to authorize the torture of U.S. citizens if they deemed it necessary for their national security?

GONZALES: Senator, I don't know what laws other world leaders would be bound by. And I think it would -- I'm not in a position to answer that question.
(via WaPO)

Obviously, the real question is whether US leaders (not "other world leaders") would have "authority to authorize the torture of U.S. citizens"... Oh, wait, it can't happen here...

Silly, silly Beltway Dems! That anthrax scare after 9/11 must have put them in a permanent fetal position!

What on earth were the Dems thinking, to let Salazar fluff Gonzales like this? 

Salazar's introduction is quite simply appalling. Is the concept to win, or not? And if the concept is to win, how does this loser-consultant ethnic-checklist-style drivel help any voter understand why its The Right Thing to vote Democratic? When will the Democrats understand that whenever they are, whatever they do, they have to stand for something?

Read it and weep. Or scream.

It is also an honor and privilege for me to appear before you this morning to make an introduction of [Torturer and] Judge Alberto Gonzales[,author of of the memos that argue for Presidential rule of decree (back)].

I do so at the invitation of Judge Gonzales. He and I come from very similar backgrounds. We both understand the struggles of people as they try to build better lives for themselves and for their families in America.

[Unfortunately, he and I took very different paths. I defended our Constitutiion. Judge Gonzales worked to overthrow it. Oh, wait...]

From those humble beginnings, Judge Gonzales has excelled academically and professionally. In my view, Judge Gonzales is better qualified than many recent attorneys general. He served as a member of the Texas Supreme Court, secretary of state for the state of Texas, chief counsel to the governor of Texas and for the last four years as counsel to the president.

I have known Judge Gonzales from my days as Colorado's attorney general. In addition, over the last several weeks I have met and had several discussions with Judge Gonzales about his nomination to serve as this nation's attorney general.

I believe his decision to reach out to me, someone who is from a different political party, is an indication of his interest in working with all of us in making our homeland more secure and at the same time protecting our citizens' rights and liberties.
(via WaPo hearing transcript)

Oh please. All Gonzales wants from you, Senator Salazar, is political cover. And you gave it to him. That never works with Bush. Remember Max Cleland? He tried bipartisanship, and got royally fucked. So will you. So remember, and rue, this day, when Gonzales is before this same committee as a nominee for the Supreme Court. Will you be able to say anything against him then? Of course not. You've nailed yourself into a box, all on your own.

Now, to be fair to Senator Salazar, he is very new, and he may assume that because Democratic and Republican officials can work together at the state level (well, not in Texas, of course), the same can happen at the national level. It's not so. But why didn't someone, anyone, disabuse Senator Salazar of the naive notion that when a Democrat fluffs Bush, it's always a losing proposition?

UPDATE More fluffing, from Leahy:

LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And, first off, I wanted to thank both Senator Salazar and Senator Cornyn for their introduction. Senator Salazar, a Democrat who is showing bipartisanship here, similar to, I remember, Senator Carnahan coming to introduce Attorney General John Ashcroft even though he is the man who'd run against her husband.

Leahy is from the bluest of blue states, Vermont. So he doesn't have to say this. The only possible conclusion is that he believes it! What a farce.

Freep This Puppy 

CNN Poll

"Should Congress investigate voting irregularities in Ohio?" (or words to that effect.)

Circa 5 p.m. CST, "yes" is leading 61-39% on 17k votes. Stand with Boxer and Jones. Go vote.

The Personality Cult lifts itself up by the hokum 

"This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores, some people call you the elites; I call you my base." ~ George W. Bush - Alfred E. Smith memorial dinner, New York City, Oct. 19, 2000

USA Today folklorist Richard Benedetto bounds up and on down the red carpet tossing out flowery petals of laudatory praise before the modest upstarts of the incoming Bush Cabinet:
President Bush finds a lot to admire in people who came up the hard way. Rather than follow the traditional path of populating his Cabinet with academics, Washington insiders and CEOs, Bush has assembled a Cabinet that is not only diverse in gender and ethnicity but also an American mosaic in background.

"In America, with education and hard work, it really does not matter where you come from; it matters only where you are going." ~ Condoleezza Rice

Unless those "where you come from" stories make for useful PR.

And of course all of Bush's appointments (including Bush himself) are former CEO's, academics, lawyers, think tank critters, and people who have long histories living and working inside the Beltway and inside government and corporate bureaucracies. But, forget that, for certainly we create our own realities, and the delighted Richard Benedetto is all-aboard the fabulous coronation choo-choo train. Yoo-hoo!, squeals sir Richard, as he continues waving a fluttering hanky at the storied promenade:
In November, when Bush named African-American Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser, to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of State, he said people who come up the hard way bring qualities to their jobs that those who had an easier time might not.

Ok, so either it does matter where ya came from or it doesn't. Whatever. What's important here, at least at this point, so long as it makes for good public relations copy, is to envision the entire Bush administration as some kind of jumble of Joad family Okies that rolled into Washington in the back of a prairie schooner. Pushed ashore on the beachhead of our nation's capitol by an amber wave of grain and and a prayer and nuttin' but true grit itself.

And certainly Condoleeza Rice can't be considered an academic. No sir. Why heck, Miss Condi is the hard scrabble daughter of the Reverend John Rice. Did I mention he was a Reverend!? Yes, ok...she would one day be noticed by a dashing young hard scrabble action hero fighter pilot named George W. Bush while she was employed as a humble piano playing schoolma'am in some western outpost called the Stanford Boarding House located somewhere northeast of Coyote Lake in the great state of Californy. Yup. Damn straight. Next thing ya know the pilot fella who seems nice and talks like a regular goober is askin her to come back east with him and play piano at his family's whorehouse, I mean White House!, his family's big humble family White House. So, off she goes on a big humble bus headed all the ways to Warshington D.C. with nuttin' but a phone number in her pocket and a dogeared copy of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in her tattered satchel of humble beginnings. Who would have thought that one day the daughter of a Reverend from the segregated South would become the second wife, I mean second secretary of State!, for the pReznit of the USA and his administration of hard scrabble former small family farmer dairy operators and former breakfast cereal salesman and former Chinese boat people and other orphans and penniless castaways and so forth.

Certainly not Mr. Trent Lott's mosaic of old time Civil Rights activist friends. It's a good thing they ain't around no more to bother nobody.

Benedetto continues with some florid musings from some poly-sci academic named Shirley Anne Warshaw:
Shirley Anne Warshaw, a Gettysburg College political scientist who wrote The Keys to Power and other books on presidential management, says Bush's penchant for people with modest backgrounds is part of the evolution of the Republican Party from country clubs and Wall Street to middle America.

"It is moving from being the party of the wealthy and elite to the party of the common man, the NASCAR dad," she says. "Bill Clinton set out to create a Cabinet that looked like America. Bush set out to create a Cabinet that looks like the America that voted for him."

Uh huh. Hey, surely you all remember Elaine Chao's victory in last years Nextel Cup Championship! Roaring to victory as Rod Paige rolled over and burned on the infield during the final checkered lap. Yes indeed.

Anyway... Miss Condi is clearly at home among this collection of shunned mis-fits and former drunken awol sons of one room New England prep schools who each in turn raised up their own traditional families in humble common-man sod-roofed hovels far from the siren song ching-a-ling of wealthy leftist Wall Street. Just regular mainstreet moms and pops, ever-one of em, who have managed to claw their way out the sweaty boiler-rooms of noisy low wage think tanks or flee the cold unheated chambers of ruthless commerce to mount the marble steps of destiny and rise to the pinnacles of power. Swatting aside cynical journalists and scheming Beltway insiders and frivolous bloodsucking ACLU lawyers and wealthy despotic public school teacher union elitists and nosy background checks on the immigration status of their domestic helper-friends and the snickering smirks of snotty book larned big word spittin' liberal star chamber academics of all stripes. Arriving at long last at the top. To revel at last in the power and the glory of our great nation and ultimately bask in the humble spotlight of Jesus Christ almighty himself! Freedom on the march! Leave no sons of Poppy behind! Not that it matters where you come from or anything like that.

You can gaze upon more of these kinds of woosie awestruck wooings via Richard Benedetto and the USA Toaday right HERE.

Where was I? Oh yeah -- while on the topic of Miss Condi's journey from daughter of the segregated South to compassionate globe trotting bombs away NASCAR yokel -- it might be interesting to note that Condi's father, the Dean John Rice, was in fact one of those annoying academic sorts hisself. Once upon a time. One of those same kind of academic peacenik naysayer America hating sorts so vigorously avoided and outsmarted today by Condi's current associates and those peasant types being courted as potential BushCo Cabinet workers of America; each single one selected to serve tirelessly and loyally on behalf of the common every-man Bush family White House and therefore on behalf of the nation and Jesus Christ hisself.

Listen to this bidness here:
When I hear Condoleezza Rice defending the war in Iraq I think of her father denouncing the war in Vietnam. Condi's dad was a Dean in the college of liberal arts at the University of Denver in the early 1970s when I was editor of the student newspaper, the Clarion. His name was John Rice, but no student dared call him that. He was an imposing figure, and we all called him "Dean" Rice.

In her book Bushwomen, Laura Flanders traces how Condi Rice was recruited by right-wing Republicans. Flanders recounts how Ms. Rice, speaking at the GOP convention in Philadelphia, said that her father "was the first Republican I knew," and claimed "In America, with education and hard work, it really does not matter where you come from; it matters only where you are going."

That's not what I learned from Dean Rice. I took his class "The Black Experience in America," and continued to attend the seminars with his encouragement. The seminar was built around a series of invited speakers who lectured in a public form followed by classroom discussions.


The seminar speakers invited by Dean Rice included a wide range of perspectives--from members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, to exiled South African poet Dennis Brutus, to Louis Farrakhan explaining the teachings of Black Muslim Elijah Mohammed, to Lee Evans and John Carlos who were organizing Black athletes to resist racism. It was Carlos and a teammate gave the black power salute after winning medals at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. I still have a tape of the lecture by Andrew Young who was then a leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It was long ago, but I think I remember Condi as a teenager all dressed up playing the classical piano introduction to Young's speech. Condi was so smart and talented she was a bit scary. We all knew she was being groomed to go far, but we never suspected she would end up painting a public picture of her father that many of us would not recognize.


Dean Rice had high standards for all of us; and as his students we respected him enough to ask him to speak in May of 1971 at a campus memorial service for the students slain at Kent and Jackson State the previous year. Dean Rice eulogized the dead students as "young people who gave their lives for the cause of freedom and for the cause of eliminating useless war." He read the names of those from the university community who had died in Vietnam. He spoke of the atrocities. Then he challenged us all: "When tomorrow comes will you be the perpetuators of war or of peace? Are you the generation to bring to America a lasting peace? Or did your brothers and sisters at Kent and Jackson State die in vain?"


More than thirty years later I leaf through old issues of the University of Denver Clarion and old letters from Dean Rice. On the television I hear the Bush Administration justifications and rationalizations for the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism, the endless wars. And I know that what I taught my child, and what I teach others, is shaped by the question asked by John Rice in 1971: "When tomorrow comes will you be the perpetuators of war or of peace?"

Poets! Peace rallies! Kent State! Oh fer Christ's sake alive. No wonder Condi done gone and run off with that beady eyed keg rolling born again diddler from Texas or Andover or Kennebunkport or wherever the hell he was from. Well, anyway, where you come from isn't important and where you're going is confidential. Or maybe not. Who can say for sure exactly. What's really important, especially if you're a member of the Bush administration or a potential memeber of the Bush administration, is that no-one really knows what the hell you're up to right now. Did I mention that Condi's dad was Reverend?

You can read more about Dean John Rice here: Condi's Dad and the Lessons of War, by Chip Berlet - October 27th, 2004.


I Got a Serious Jones On 

(via NYT, sorry)

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., signed a challenge mounted by House Democrats to Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which put Bush over the top. By law, a protest signed by members of the House and Senate requires both chambers to meet separately for up to two hours to consider it. Lawmakers are allowed to speak for no more than five minutes each.

``I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election,'' Boxer wrote in a letter to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a leader of the Democratic effort.

Entering the second hour or so as I write this, listening to C-Span. Very educational to note the voices saying "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, shut up, move on, nothing to see here."

They (very nearly) all say that this whole objection is based on "conspiracy theories." And that it is "frivolous" because "it won't change the outcome."

They (very nearly) all cite some county election official (who invariably things the whole thing went just swell) and manage to mention the fact that this official is African-American.

And they always note that this disgraceful spectacle is being perpetrated by the "Democrat" party. We all know what that means, right?

Give 'em hell Rep. Tubb-Jones. You go on giving them hell.

Justice Comes Slowly to Philadelphia 

Justice deferred is justice denied, they say....but it's not quite too late in this case. This was the atrocity depicted in the film "Mississippi Burning":

(via Jackson MS Clarion-Ledger)

At the Neshoba County courthouse this morning, history inched forward — 40 years after the fact — as a grand jury began hearing evidence involving the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers.

For the first time, a state grand jury is having the opportunity to consider murder charges in the June 21, 1964, killings of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney. Attorney General Jim Hood, seen at the courthouse this morning along with attorneys from his staff, would not comment.

Eight of those accused in the case are still alive. Authorities have said reported Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen — identified in testimony in a 1967 federal conspiracy trial as having coordinated the killings — is the prime target. Killen has denied any involvement in the killings.

Boxer Signs On 

Remember what may have been the most agonizing scene in "Fahrenheit 9/11" where the House members brought the protest of the Florida electoral vote count to the Senate? And came to the podium, one after the other, imploring, demanding, nearly begging a Senator, any Senator, just one Senator, to stand with them so the outrage could at least be exposed if not overturned?

This ain't a-gonna happen this time. First of all it's Ohio this time--and more importantly, we've got ourself a Senator with some backbone. Yeah, I would have said "A Senator with some balls" but by damn, it's Barbara Boxer:

(via AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A small group of Democrats agreed Thursday to force House and Senate debates on Election Day problems in Ohio before letting Congress certify President Bush's win over Sen. John Kerry in November.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., signed a challenge mounted by House Democrats to Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which put Bush over the top. By law, a challenge signed by members of the House and Senate requires both chambers to meet separately for up to two hours to consider it. Lawmakers are allowed to speak for no more than five minutes each.

While Bush's victory is not in jeopardy, the Democratic challenge will force Congress to interrupt tallying the Electoral College vote, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST Thursday. It would be only the second time since 1877 that the House and Senate were forced into separate meetings to consider electoral votes.

"I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election," Boxer wrote in a letter to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a leader of the Democratic effort.

The action seems certain to leave Bush's victory intact because both Republican-controlled chambers would have to uphold the challenge for Ohio's votes to be invalidated. But supporters of the drive hope their move will shine a national spotlight on the Ohio voting problems.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Guess I'll have to start saving my pennies, now that the Republicans are phasing out Social Security. But my tiny mattress in the room under the stairs in The Mighty Corrente Building is pretty thin, and I'm afraid the pennies will make it very uncomfortable....


OK, I read the Times. Sue me. Get a load of this:

Members of both parties in the Senate say they expect Mr. Gonzales to win confirmation. But in a sign that the White House is seeking to solidify its support in the face of the new attacks, Mr. Gonzales has asked a Democrat - Ken Salazar, a newly elected senator from Colorado - to help introduce him at his hearing on Thursday.
(Not the LA Times)

Sheesh. Introducing a torturer.... Couldn't some Beltway Dem have taken newly elected Senator Salazar aside and explained to him that giving Bush the benefit of the doubt never, never pays?!?!?! WTF?

The duty of an opposition party is to OPPOSE! Do they want Gonzales on the Supreme Court? Then one very good approach is to give him his "Get out of jail free" card now, since the Republicans will surely argue that if Gonzales is fit to be AG, he's fit to be on the high court.

Bush continues to successfully simulate a conscience 

Yes, he gave $10,000 of "his own money" to tsunami victims. Of course, He'll write it off, so its really $10,000 of our money, but hey, it's going to a good cause.

My take is that Karen Hughes is taking over from Unka Karl. After that brutal start, with Bush only giving $15 million and staying on vacation (surprise!), the White House must have realized how brutal a beating Bush was taking in public relations. Since then, things have been smooth. Seems like a Karen Hughers operation, to me. Very bad news for 2005. I'd prefer that Bush keeps on with Rove pounding on the wedge issues, since I think a backlash on that has to come. But if Hughes steps up, that won't happen. We'll see a lot more date rape bi-partisanship, and so on...

Winger operatives start harassing Conyers 

Here. Gosh, I wonder why? More beer coolers for the Gaulieters?

Still, it's nice to see the Beltway Dems showing some spine on this one. After all, it's just about making sure all the votes are counted. In a democracy, how could that be wrong? Oh, wait....

Gonzales nomination turns into farce (though nobody's laughing...) 

Promises, promises:

Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel criticized for calling parts of the Geneva Conventions on prisoner treatment "obsolete," will promise to live by anti-torture treaties if he is confirmed as attorney general, according to a statement obtained on Wednesday.

Treaties, of course, being the law of the land, so "promising" to "live by" them isn't really an option for the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, now is it?

Gonzales said he was "deeply committed to the rule of law," in a statement for delivery at Senate confirmation hearings on Thursday.
(via WaPo)

Savor it—it's just too delicious. We have the spectacle of an Attorney General promising he's committed to the rule of law! Kind of like Nixon saying "I am not a crook," eh? I mean, if the Pope issued a press release saying he was deeply committed to Catholicism.... Would that make you think twice?

Savor it—But not for too long. We already know Republican promises are worthless. Remember Goss promising he wouldn't politicize his job as head of the CIA, and then filling all the top slots with staffers from the house? A Republican promise is on the order of "Honey, I won't————."

Fortunately, Gonzales won't be able to do too much damage as AG—after all, Bush is only parking him there 'til a slot on the Supreme Court opens up. So, why worry?

UPDATE Note also that WaPo finally didn't bury the lede. It's the rule of law that's paramount, not the torture (bad as that is). Maybe some enterprising Democrat should ask Gonzales about how he feels about "the rule of law" in relation to unindicted felon Donald Rumsfeld.

Counting all the votes in Ohio 

I've never understood why the Republicans are against counting all the votes in Ohio; after all, the Fourteenth Amendment—remember the Constitution? Democrats, at least? I'm sure you do—says that when you don't, there are consequences:

Section. 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
(via FindLaw)

So, the only real question is, was the right of citizens (um, sorry about that "male" wording) to vote "in any way abridged" in Ohio? Of course. We all know about the long lines in Democratic precincts, and we remember reading about the mysterious lockdown of Cuyahoga election headquarters—and that's just for starters.

Will the craven and disgraceful scene on the Senate floor after Florida 2000 be repeated in 2004? Or will a Senator step up and give John Conyers, and the disenfranchisd, a vote?

FOX Nooze ~ where lying is worth a million bucks! 

The foundations of this Jane Akre vs the FOXNoise Lie Machine goes back a few years --- ["The Fox, the Hounds, and the Sacred Cows" from "Into The Buzzsaw" by Kristina Borjesson, 2002] --- but Patrick O'Heffernan has an update. And this time it's good news for FOX "News" because the court has ruled that intentionally broadcasting false news reports is not a crime. Which is good news for FOX "News" because if it weren't for false news FOX"News" wouldn't have much news to broadcast. Now would they.
TV Spy’s ShopTalk reported Monday that two TV journalists have challenged the license renewal of WTVT Fox-13, charging that it deliberately broadcast false news reports about Monsanto’s secret use of potentially cancer-causing growth hormones in milk. Reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson filed the petition Monday against Fox’s Tampa station after a Florida Appeals Court overturned a $425,000 jury award to them and then ordered them to pay Fox’s $1 million legal bill for defending itself against their Whistleblower lawsuit. The court said broadcasting false news reports is not a crime, striking grounds for their suit. The journalists are appealing.

Continue reading..."Journalists challenge Fox, get $1 million legal bill", by patrick o'heffernan at Seeing the Forest


The Pinochet Plan  

There should be a car magnet or sumpin'. Hey, maybe the excitable easily amused wide-eyed wowsers in the MSMCP (mainstream media clown posse) will begin calling the Bu$h Falangista's Social Security privatization designs the Chilean Heroes of Social Security Privatization Plan. Or CHSSPP! Woo-hoo!, that has a nice crisp he-roic ring to it.

Oh wait, damn it, I didn't really think all that up myself (what will we tell the children), but rather I gotted the idea from this guy here:
The Chilean Heroes of Social Security Privatizers, by Dan Restrepo | December 10, 2004

As President Bush and his right-wing congressional allies attempt to destroy the bedrock of retirement security for this and future generations, they will undoubtedly point to the 1981 privatization of Chile's public pension system as a shining example of the possible as President Bush did late last month in a visit to Chile.

Restrepo is no doubt some bitter Shining Path guerrilla wannabe hiding out in the Pine Barrens with the UN Occupation Forces or sleeping on a rollout in Eric Alterman's lefty spy nest hideout in Sea Isle City New Jersey.

Where was I, oh yes...:
President Bush is not the only one on the right wing to hail Chilean reform. In fact, the intellectual authors of social security privatization at the CATO Institute, whose ranks include Jose Piñera, an architect of the Chilean reform, regularly tout the Chilean experience to paint a rosy picture of what "reform" would mean here at home. In last week's New York Times, for example, Piñera extolled the virtues of the Chilean model to argue the United States would be foolhardy not to follow Chile's lead.

The CATO Institute. Yes, the CATO Institute is of course composed of some of America's finest examples of everyday working class heroes. Thirty five year old pouty-lipped bow-tied Weekly Standard editor sniffling types who slaved away day in and day out filing legal challenges to make sure that the largesse of grand daddy's fabulous Rhode Island estate would not be frittered away on Aunt Gurdy's pet poverty prevention project or donated to some do-gooder lefty foundation for the appreciation of the fine arts. Or some other cruel "blue state" elitist anti-country-club Dartmouth Review rich kid whiner cause d'horror like that.

Restrepo continues:
It is telling that these privatization advocates embrace a reform carried out by one of the most morally bankrupt regimes – that of General Augusto Pinochet – in the history of the Western Hemisphere and ignore what preceded the Chilean privatization experience and made it possible.

Yeah, it's telling alright. It's called Ssshhhut the fuck up! Be-cuzz ---- this is what the "official statement" readers at the Time Warner Cellphone-sales News Network (CNN), and the shiny object cosmetic counter trinket worshipers at the General Electric Misinformation Babble Channel (GE/MSNBC), and the professional bald faced liars at the FOXNoise GOP propaganda Newzi Network, and the French cuff-link cowboys at the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, and the goggle-eyed pocket protector nerds at such bastions of bullshit message management as Forbes Magazine don't want ya to know about. But again, it's "telling.":
Social Security Privatization in Chile: A Case for Caution | By Steve Idemoto, September 29, 2000

In order to pay for the transition to a fully privatized system, Chile had to drastically cut public spending, raise taxes, lower benefits, sell government assets, and issue bonds.

Proponents of Social Security privatization often trumpet the Chilean “success story.” Right wing economists (and the finance industry-funded think tanks that sponsor them) spin fabulous yarns about the way the free market transformed Chile’s pension system. In doing so, however, they leave out crucial parts of the plot. Privatization advocates paper over very serious problems with Chile’s social security program.


Pinochet’s Privatization Scheme
In 1981, the Chilean government under military dictator Augusto Pinochet took the radical step of phasing out the country’s troubled publicly funded social security program and mandating participation in a system of privately managed individual accounts. Under this program, workers must contribute 10 percent of their wages, up to a specified ceiling, to a government-approved investment fund. Workers are required to pay another 3 percent to cover term life and disability insurance. Participation is not mandatory for self-employed workers, but they may voluntarily set up accounts with the same basic features.

Individual account contributions are managed by private investment firms (called Administradoa de Fondos de Pensiones, or AFPs). Once a worker signs on with an AFP, he or she must stay with the investment firm for at least four months before switching. Contributions, including voluntary contributions of up to an additional 10 percent, are tax deductible. Upon retirement, workers have two withdrawal options: they may purchase an annuity or withdraw money based on a government-determined schedule. At the time of withdrawal, pension benefits are taxable as income.[6]

The Consequences of Social Security Reform
The Chilean experience with social security privatization gives much reason for pause. Major concerns include: the high cost of transition to a privatized system, exorbitant pension fund management fees, non-participation in the scheme, the effects on low/middle-income workers and women, and the vulnerability of workers to market risk. These concerns are examined more closely in the following sections.

High Cost of Transition
Transition from a pay-as-you-go social security system to a privatized system entails substantial costs. Under a pay-as-you-go system, the contributions of today’s workers fund the benefits of today’s retirees. Under a newly privatized system, where workers’ contributions are diverted into individual accounts, cash must be found to fund the benefits of retirees and workers nearing retirement (who paid into the old system but didn’t have a chance to save up an adequate nest egg under the privatized system).

Chile funded its transition to a privatized system in five ways: drastically cutting public spending, raising taxes, reducing benefits, selling government assets, and issuing debt.

Cutting public spending. The Chilean government has cut social expenditures, including health and education spending, to help pay the pensions of retired and retiring workers.[7] Raising taxes. Chile introduced a value-added tax in 1975 in order to raise revenue for the anticipated transition.[8]

Reducing lifetime benefits. In order to cut costs, the Chilean government raised the retirement age for beneficiaries. Prior to reform, retirement ages varied—ranging from 44 to 65. In order to cut costs, the Pinochet regime standardized retirement at 65 for men and 60 for women. The dictatorship also eliminated special pensions based on years of service.[9] Selling government assets. Transition to a privatized system was partially subsidized through the sale of state-owned enterprises to the private sector.

Issuing debt. Government bonds finance approximately 40 percent of the annual costs of transition. These bonds are sold to AFPs and will be gradually redeemed by the government using general revenue.[10]

Analysts project that costs from the transition to a privatized system will be completely paid by 2050, at which point there should no longer be any beneficiaries in the old system.[11]

Exorbitant Management Fees
At first glance, returns on individual account investments in Chile appear quite respectable. After factoring in management fees—which currently range from 16 to 20 percent of annual contributions—the situation can look much different.

Over certain periods, management expenses dragged rates of return to nearly negligible levels. For example, although the average rate of return on individual accounts from 1982 to 1986 was 15.9%, the real return after commissions was just 0.3%. Returns between 1991 and 1995 averaged 12.9%, but management fees lowered the return to 2.1%.[12] For a new worker enrolling in 1996, the 3.5% gross yield actually amounted to a –6.8% return after taking management fees into account.[13] These adjusted returns, moreover, do not include the cost of annuitizing retirement accounts, which in Chile entails a fee equivalent to 8 to 9 percent of total retirement assets.[14]


Advocates of Social Security privatization continually crow about Chile’s high returns under individual accounts. In concentrating on returns, however, they miss crucial parts of the story. They ignore the fact that Chile has cut social spending, raised taxes, and cut benefits in order to pay transition costs—transition costs that the government will continue to pay until 2050. They ignore exorbitant management fees that have, over a number of periods, cut these much-vaunted returns to nearly zero. Advocates also fail to mention that these individual accounts have increased economic inequality and left workers vulnerable to market downturns. Moreover, privatized systems must either require retirees to convert a substantial portion of their account into an annuity – which means that the account can't be passed on to heirs other than the spouse – or accept a high percentage of the very elderly outliving their account and falling into dire poverty. Once these factors are taken into account, the case for privatization becomes much shakier.

Well fuck me runnin'! ---- Does any of that sound familiar? Remember when Jeanne Kirkpatrick was running around Latin America during the Bush-Reagan 80's lifting her skirt for every neo-fascist dictator who wanted to stick a wet finger in her slot and wiggle it around! Remember? Well, Jeanne's orgasmic screams are finally coming back to haunt us after ricocheting around the soccer stadium torture chambers for a couple of decades. Now that's forward thinkin' deal makin' diplomacy!

And don't forget to embrace the glory of the Flat Tax!
U.S. Administrator Imposes Flat Tax System on Iraq | By Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus | Washington Post Staff Writers | Sunday, November 2, 2003; Page A09

The flat tax, long a dream of economic conservatives, is finally getting its day -- not in the United States, but in Iraq.

It took L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Baghdad, no more than a stroke of the pen Sept. 15 to accomplish what eluded the likes of publisher Steve Forbes, Reps. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) and Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.), and Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) over the course of a decade and two presidential campaigns.

That "reform" will no doubt be coming to America soon! Little Green Footlickers and Freeper bump monkeys and Ayn Randian mooncalves and goosestepping Dittoheads everywhere need to stock up on Fritos and Diet Pepsi and Passion of the Christ DVDs, and so on, so as to wage the great ideological battle soon to appear upon the glorious ideological blogging battlefield! The cheery metrosexual wavy-haired pep-boys at Time Magazine need to be alerted to the coming "leading blogger" crusade on behalf of the flat tax wonder-luxe! God save stupidity! And because those company store yes-men toadies at Time magazine are too stupid to come up with an orginal story idea on their own.

SO! Leave no idiotic notion behind! The flat tax that is! The cousin fuckers at the Hoover Institute just love the flat tax moonshine! And the scotch sipping limo-commandoes at the Heritage Foundation have even declared the flat tax a Russian "miracle." And ya know, when it comes to rootin' up economic "miracles" of any kind, Russia is always the first place that comes to mind.

Wasn't Ayn Rand vomited onto our shores from Russia? And didn't Commander GW Sky Box Bu$h look into Pooty-Poot's roosky KGB soul and see an unfolding miracle or something unfolding like that in there? Oh yes, as I recall, I think that it was indeed something like that. Or something else. Or something. Heh.

I'm sure Kate O'Beirne, that snaggletoothed sea-hag from the National Review, can explain it all to you:
Focus the fight on poverty | Ajay Goyal | 20 Jun 2003 - (The Russia Journal)

What has been called Russian ‘reform’ is really no such thing

The economies of poor nations work differently from those of prosperous ones. The Russian population does not have a social-security net, savings, real healthcare or pensions, access to lending or venture capital – and yet their government behaves as though it really deserves a seat among the world’s most powerful countries. It is an irony that the Russian president should participate in discussions among rich nations where the size of one pension fund could equal the Russian GDP.

Somehow, the world has come to expect that, when talking of Russia and its economy, the key word is "reform." Implicit in that is the message it is a rich malfunctioning economy that needs to be reformed to work efficiently. Ever since former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev gave the world words like "glasnost" and "perestroika," the public perception has been that Russia is going through a perpetual reform of its institutions, government, constitution and public life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All the talk of "reform" is really a great deception. It shifts the focus away from the real tragedy of Russian economy – the abject poverty of a great many of its citizens and the lack of any hope that they can get out of it soon.

Successive Russian politicians have placed their personal enrichment and interests above those of the country, and there have been bitter turf fights among the ruling elite for control of the nation’s vast resources. Real Russian reform started and ended with Yegor Gaidar’s freeing of prices in 1992 – governments since then have merely been privatizing national assets and stuffing their own pockets with the proceeds. That is the sum total of Russian "reform."

Hey, that blockquote wasn't a snaggletoothed Kate O'Beirne sea-hag explanation. Well, anyway, better luck next time. I have to go now and do something else weird with my free time but don't forget that the military dictator Augusto Pinochet, [Chilean Court Upholds Pinochet Indictment ] the crazy sadistic unapologetic Chilean fascist, is one of America's newest founding fathers! Praise Jesus and predatory investment management fees. Thank the American Neo-Republican Falangista and our vapid airhead mainstream country-club television "news" media for reporting all "miracles" as they roll off the free-market assembly line of free-market miracles or are like totally bestowed upon our nation by the miracle workers in the miraculously appointed Bu$h White House.

And thank God Dick Cheney now has his own DINA, I mean CIA, I mean National Security State Intelligence Apparatus. Why it's all just one big miracle in motion.


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