Saturday, February 05, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Last year, I watched the Eagles get beat in a big hotel lobby downtown with two ladies who lunch in from the 'burbs on SEPTA and a homeless person. A waitress kept coming round asking us all, including the street person, if there was anything she could get us, but this was while I was still unemployed, thanks to the Republicans in Congress, so I had no money, and kept cadging the free peanuts from the bar...

This year I hope it's the same: With at least one exception—oh, wait, let me not jinx them, please Jeebus...

UPDATE Alert reader Matt Davis writes:

Look, Lambert.

The best thing you can do to avoid jinxes is to focus on the Eagles' potential to lose because of last year.

Go Iggles!

And that's what I'm doing, Matt, thanks to your helpful advice. Go Iggles! Right down the crapper, as usual. Fuckin' chokers.

Andy Reid's first day in town 

Philadelphia, that is. From the town where booing fans pelted Santa Claus with snowballs:

When [Andy Reid] finally got to Philadelphia the next day, there were introductions to be made, offices to be arranged, and assistant coaches to consider, along with the countless small details that go with starting a new football regime.

It was late evening when an exhausted Reid started out in search of a meal, along with Butch Buchanico, a team official.

As they finally sat down in a South Philadelphia restaurant, in walked a priest. Recognizing the Eagles' newest hire, he offered Reid his blessings.

As the priest moved on, he was stopped by a large group at a nearby table and asked why he had bestowed his prayers on the large gentleman with the big, bushy mustache.

Informed that man was the new coach of the Eagles, they booed in Reid's direction.
(via LA Times)

See, Philly is a many-splendored thing. There's more to us, much more, than competitive eating!

Massive chickenhawk takedown 

Poor, poor Jonah.

I've got sympathy for him, of course. "Never send a boy to do a man's job," and all.

The man in the grey turtleneck eviscerates poor Jonah—or would have, if Jonah possessed viscera.

Whack: Theocracy rising 

Folks, there's good news tonight!

With religious Shiite parties poised to take power in the new constitutional assembly, leading Shiite clerics are pushing for Islam to be recognized as the guiding principle of the new constitution.

Exactly how Islamic to make the document is the subject of debate.

At the very least, the clerics say, the constitution should ensure that legal measures overseeing personal matters like marriage, divorce and family inheritance fall under Shariah, or Koranic law. For example, daughters would receive half the inheritances of sons under that law.

On other issues, opinion varies, with the more conservative leaders insisting that Shariah be the foundation for all legislation.

Such a constitution would be a sharp departure from the transitional law that the Americans enacted before appointing the interim Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. American officials pressed Iraqi politicians drafting that law in early 2004 to guarantee equal rights for women and minorities. The Americans also persuaded the authors to designate Islam as just "a source" of legislation.

That irked senior Shiite clerics here, who, confident they now have a popular mandate from the elections, are advocating for Islam to be acknowledged as the underpinning of the government. They also insist that the Americans stay away from the writing of the new constitution.
(via Times)

Great news, right? 1000 and counting American dead, 100,000 and counting Iraqi dead, but it's all worth it: The country will be governed by religious law!

Praise Jeebus!

Judge Roy Moore will be proud! Not to mention Fat Tony.

Oh, wait. Wrong religion. And wrong God. After all, our God is bigger than their God ....

Novak: Congressional Republicans to use "nuclear option" 

As I said of the SOTU, "This means war." (back)

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republican leaders have decided to begin their use of the "nuclear option." Associate Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court was one of 16 Bush nominees for U.S. appellate courts whose confirmation was prevented by Democratic filibusters in the last Congress. With Republicans still short of the 60 senators needed to limit debate, the nuclear option will seek to confirm judges with a simple majority vote through parliamentary maneuvers.
(via Town Hall)

And useful idiots like Kristof think the Dems should go first on Social Security to give those moderate Republicans cover?

I don't think so, since the Republicans are clearly going to ram through whatever they have the power to do.

Never mind that it's taxation without representation for half country minus Bush's 100,000 margin in Ohio.

Alpo Accounts: What Bush Believers really think 

From Omaha:

"Moocher!" a Bush supporter yelled [at a privatization protester].
(via Omaha World Herald)

That's what Bush supporters believe in their hearts.

Never mind that I paid into the system to support my mother and father—and yours, and the Bush supporters. That's "mooching."

Fuck 'em.

Alpo Accounts: Those younger workers 

They want Momma on the couch why, exactly?

Radio Boy: How the World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) spiked the story of the Bush Bulge 

The Times had the story that ultimately ran in Salon, but spiked it.

The poor old Times. Morally bankrupt. And they still think they're the good guys.

To refresh your memory.

The Bulgegate story originated when a number of alert viewers of the first presidential debate noticed a peculiar rectangular bulge on the back of Bush’s jacket [back]. That they got to see that portion of his anatomy at all was an accident; the Bush campaign had specifically, and inexplicably, demanded that the Presidential Debate Commission bar pool TV cameras from taking rear shots of the candidates during any debates. Fox TV, the first pool camera for debate one, ignored the rule and put two cameras behind the candidates to provide establishing shots.

Photos depicting the bulge and speculating on just what it might be (a medical device, a radio receiver?) began circulating widely around the Internet, and several special blog sites were established to discuss them. The suspicion that Bush had been getting cues or answers in his ear was bolstered by his strange behavior in that first debate, which included several uncomfortably long pauses before and during his answers. On one occasion, he burst out angrily with "Now let me finish!" at a time when nobody was interrupting him and his warning light was not flashing. Images of visibly bulging backs from earlier Bush appearances began circulating, along with reports of prior incidents that suggested Bush might have been receiving hidden cues (London Guardian, 10/8/04).

Finally, on October 8, this reporter ran an investigative report about the bulge in the online magazine Salon, following up with a second report (10/13/04)—an interview with an executive of a firm that makes wireless cueing devices that link to hidden earpieces—that suggested that Bush was likely to have been improperly receiving secret help during the debates.

At that point, Dr. Robert M. Nelson, a 30-year Jet Propulsion Laboratory veteran who works on photo imaging for NASA’s various space probes and currently is part of a photo enhancement team for the Cassini Saturn space probe, entered the picture. Nelson recounts that after seeing the Salon story on the bulge, professional curiosity prompted him to apply his skills at photo enhancement to a digital image he took from a videotape of the first debate. He says that when he saw the results of his efforts, which clearly revealed a significant T-shaped object in the middle of Bush’s back and a wire running up and over his shoulder, he realized it was an important story.

But the Times spiked the story. John Schwartz, the reporter working the story tells us why in an email to Nelson:

Subject: Re: reanalysis of debate images more convincing than before
Dear Dr. Nelson,
Thanks for sticking with me on this. I don’t know what might convince them—and the bar is raised higher the closer we are to the election, because they don’t want to seem to be springing something at the last moment—but I will bring this up with my bosses.

As usual, (back) "political" means anything that would alter a frame—here, the frame that Bush is plain spoken man of integrity, not a sock puppet taking orders from unseen handlers. "Not political" is whatever does not alter, or reinforces, an existing frame. The term of art at the Times for "not political" is "balanced."

It's easy to see how at the top editors at the Times, having bought into this ideology, can't think or act as a news gathering organization any more: Facts can only be raised as issues when it doesn't matter. You'd think that the most important time to bring up new facts would be during an election, but no, that would be "springing something," "political." One obvious symptom of this was in their recent massively researched multipart series on... Railroad crossing accidents. Social Security? No. The state of the constition? No. Whack? No. Intelligence? No. Loose nukes? No. The environment? No. Railroad crossing accidents. Nope, can't lose your balance writing about that!

Unbelievable? All too believable.

Anybody got any photos of Bush's back at the Alpo Accounts partei rallies?

UPDATE From alert reader Felix: Hmmmm.....

So, given what the Republicans are doing, what's wrong with screaming? 

Just a question for any anti-Dean forces out there.

Alpo Accounts: "Grandma Millie" and the administrative costs of piratization 

Here's the Republican concept of administering a public trust, as shown during electricicty deregulation:

Enron Corp. traders conspired to shut down a healthy power plant as blackouts rolled across California in early 2001, according to documents released Thursday.

In the brash language that has become a familiar coda to the electricity crunch, Enron traders and others were captured discussing in e-mail messages and telephone conversations how they could profit from the state's problems.

That set of tapes, in which traders chanted "burn baby burn" and gloated about inflating costs for "Grandma Millie" in California, inflamed the simmering controversy.
(via LA Times)

Of course, I'm sure this will never happen with Bush's Alpo Accounts—I have complete faith in the integrity of the financial industry and its brokers, and I'm sure that "Grandma Millie" will be in very good hands.

This time.

The Social Security talking point 

From smartone in comments at the Washington Monthly:

The Democrats do have a plan for Social Security: They implemented it 70 years ago and it's still working.

Not bad. Readers?

The city that loves you back 

I love it that Philly hosts a top event in the sport (?) of competitive eating: The Wing Bowl.

A world-class event in a world-class city!

Why, then, is Philadelphia only #2 on the list of the top 25 fattest American cities?!

Fuckin' chokers...

Whack: One big happy family 

In comments, alert reader Marine's Girl reminds us that our stooge Allawi is a cousin of Judith "Kneepads" Miller's little friend, Chalabi. Here's the link: AP.

They're not exactly kissing cousins, but they were both united in sucking us into Whack by feeding the malAdministration false WMD evidence, Allawi with the false 45 minute claim.

Torte Reform 

Leave no 13,000-square-foot mansion behind. Via NYTimes (no login required):
Top White House Chef Is Leaving

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 - Unlike members of the White House staff who maintain the fiction that resigning was their decision, the executive chef, Walter Scheib 3rd, minced no words Friday in saying he had been fired.

"We've been trying to find a way to satisfy the first lady's stylistic requirements," Mr. Scheib said in a telephone interview, "and it has been difficult. Basically I was not successful in my attempt."

Mr. Scheib sensed a change afoot, he said, when Cathy Fenton was succeeded as White House social secretary last month by Lea Berman, the wife of Wayne Berman, a wealthy contributor to the Republican Party. Mrs. Berman is a well-known Washington hostess who entertains in a 13,000-square-foot Embassy Row mansion.

"Clearly with the new social secretary, there is a new set of eyes and a new vision," said Mr. Scheib, whose imminent departure was first reported Friday by The Washington Post. "She is a very hands-on social secretary, very involved with all aspects of food, flowers and décor. She clearly has a mandate."

Meet the Berman's:
Husband and wife Wayne and Lea Berman are both Bush Pioneers, although Wayne suspended his 2000 Pioneer activities to comply with a federal probe into his ties to ex-Connecticut treasurer Paul Silvester. Silvester, who received major campaign donations from Pioneers Herbert Collins, Thomas Foley, Hank Greenberg and Peter Terpeluk, was convicted in 1999 of taking kickbacks from the private money managers to whom he awarded contracts to invest state pension funds (Pioneer Christopher Burnham was Silvester’s predecessor). Berman, who was one of the first President Bush’s assistant commerce secretaries, snagged a $500,000 “finder’s fee” for helping Pioneer Hank Greenberg’s AIG Capital Partners land a contract to invest $100 million of these pension funds. After Silvester lost a 1998 campaign, he went to work for Park Strategies lobby firm, which Berman started in 1999 with Pioneer Alfonse D’Amato (see also David Albert). Berman lobbied for two other firms that won big investment contracts from Silvester: PaineWebber (see Joseph Grano) and the Carlyle Group (see Robert Grady), which retained the first President Bush as a senior advisor. After the Connecticut scandal, President-Elect George W. Bush appointed Berman to his 2000 Commerce Department transition team. Berman has lobbied for the plaintiff firm Scruggs Millette Lawson Bozeman & Dent, which led state lawsuits against the tobacco industry. Berman also lobbied for Flo-Sun, the sugar company owned by the “First Family of Corporate Welfare.” The Fanjul family (see Jose Fanjul) has such extraordinary political access that President Clinton took a call from Alfonso Fanjul[*see below*] during a tryst with Monica Lewinsky. The Bermans paid $4.5 million in 2000 for the 13,000-square-foot Embassy Row mansion of art collector Paul Mellon. “We’re Anglophiles and we just liked the traditional Georgian nature of the house,” explained Lea Berman. The home boasts eight bedrooms and seven fireplaces.

Name - Mr. & Mrs. Wayne & Lea Berman
Appointed To - Commerce transition
Industry - Lawyers & Lobbyists
Employer - Berman Enterprises, Inc.
Occupation - Owner
Address - Washington, DC 20016
Status for 2000 - Raised at least $100,000
Status for 2004 - Ranger
Info Link

The fabulous family Fanjuls:
A 1998 Time Magazine expose dubbed the Fanjuls "the First Family of Corporate Welfare." The Fanjuls get about $64 million a year from U.S. taxpayers because Tio Sam guarantees U.S. sugar producers a price that is double the world-market price.~ more on the Fanjul's

So take that all you forty two thousand dollar per year pissant public high school home ec. teachers milking the public teat! Aren't ya glad ya voted for plain-spoke reglar' folk like Gee Dubya and the little librarian homemaker misses. Wait till the Berman's and their pals get their hooks into your commie teacher union pension funds! Bwahahahahaha. Enjoy your retirement dinner of diced Nine Lives mackerel etoufee you fucking servile jangle-witted sugar junkie morons!

Oh yeah, go ahead, call meeeee an "elitist". Heh. Indeed.


Bush Schutszstaffel licks toon ass 

Hey, Dobson, what say me and you and Jesus Christ buy us a twelve pack of Coors and round up Marge, that education secretary slut, and drive around lookin' for some fag cartoon charcacter ass to kick? What ya say? Beats sittin' around playin' Moby records backwards or watching those scared little PBS mice shivering in the corner.
What makes this story more insidious still is the glaring reality that the most prominent Republican lesbians in America are Mary Cheney, a former gay and lesbian marketing liaison for Coors beer, and her partner, Heather Poe, who appeared as a couple in public and on TV during the presidential campaign. That Ms. Spellings would gratuitously go after this specific "lifestyle" right after taking office is so provocative it smells like payback specifically pitched at those "pro-family" watchdogs who snarled at the mention of Ms. Cheney's sexual orientation during the campaign whether it was by John Kerry or anyone else. Surely Ms. Spellings doesn't believe in discrimination against nontraditional families: by her own account, she was a single mother who had to park her 13-year-old and 8-year-old children in Austin when she first went to work at the White House. Then again, President Bush went on record last month as saying that "studies have shown that the ideal is where a child is being raised by a man and a woman" (even though, as The New York Times reported, "there is no scientific evidence that children raised by gay couples do any worse").

That our government is now both intimidating PBS and awarding public money to pundits to enforce "moral values" agendas demonizing certain families is the ugliest fallout of the campaign against indecency. That campaign cannot really banish salaciousness from pop culture, a rank impossibility in a market economy where red and blue customers are united in their infatuation with "Desperate Housewives." But it can create public policy that discriminates against anyone on the hit list of moral values zealots. Inane as it may seem that Ms. Spellings is conducting a witch hunt against Buster or that James Dobson has taken aim at SpongeBob SquarePants, there's a method to their seeming idiocy: the cartoon surrogates are deliberately chosen to camouflage the harshness of their assault on nonanimated, flesh-and-blood people.

Frank Rich, making up for Elisabeth Bumiller's pointless tail pipe emissions . Read on: The Year of Living Indecently/NYTimes (no login required)

I know, The Great Cartoon Character Scare of 2005 is getting old. But still, gotta give Frank Rich credit for rubbing their stupid blue noses in it once again.


The things ya see when you don't have a gun 

The New York Times actually pays for this kind of obnoxious ostentatious bullshit?: (No login required)
ELISABETH BUMILLER/NYTimes - February 6, 2005

Oooo, that snotty elitist liberal media.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Dammit, put my fist through the wall again.

SOTU: "Frivolous asbestos lawsuits" 

Could any statement be more revealing of the moral bankruptcy of today's Republican party, and Bush, its leader? (SOTU)

Here's some easily accessible information on asbestos:

Strong concerns about the health hazards associated with asbestos had been described many times over the years. As early as 1898 the Chief Inspector of Factories of the United Kingdom reported to the Parliament in his Annual Report about the "evil effects of asbestos dust". He reported the "sharp, glass like nature of the particles" when allowed to remain in the air in any quantity, "have been found to be injurious, as might have been expected" (Report of the Select Committee 1994). In 1906 a British Parliamentary Commission confirmed the first cases of asbestos deaths in factories in Britain and recommended better ventilation and other safety measures. In 1918 an American insurance company produced a study showing premature deaths in the asbestos industry in the United States and in 1926 the Massachusetts Industrial Accidents Board processed the first successful compensation claim by a sick asbestos worker.

The fine asbestos fibres are easily inhaled, and can cause a number of respiratory complaints, including a potentially serious lung fibrosis called asbestosis. Exposure to asbestos has also been determined to cause a very serious form of cancer, mesothelioma, that occurs in the chest and abdominal cavities. This aggressive disease is not properly referred to as a lung cancer, as the malignant cells are derived from the mesothelium, a tissue found on the inner walls of the chest and abdominal cavities and on the outer surface of the lungs rather than in the lung itself.

Asbestos is carcinogenic. In the United States alone, it is estimated that ten thousand people die each year of asbestos-related diseases

10,000 deaths a year. Mighty frivolous! Whack isn't the real war at all, is it?

such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer. Asbestos has a synergistic effect with tobacco smoking in the causation of lung cancer.
(via Wikipedia)

Here are some of the symptoms of mesothelioma, from the NIH (still allowed to publish scientific information, even now):

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.

Pain; thinning blood; choking; fever: Cancer. Mighty frivolous!

Of course, Dick "Dick" Cheney, in a brilliant business move, had Halliburton purchase Dresser industries, encumbered with asbestos lawsuits at the time. Read what happened next:

Let's talk about Halliburton's well-executed $5 billion escape from its asbestos problems, most of which Cheney created when he orchestrated Halliburton's purchase of Dresser Industries in 1998. Few people connect this problem with Cheney, but they should, given that he was in charge at the time and got a raise as a result of buying Dresser.

$5 billion. From the courts the Republicans have already stacked with wingers. Mighty frivolous!

Now that Halliburton has managed to extract itself from its asbestos liability by paying a ton of cash and stock to trusts that will compensate victims and their lawyers, we can get a handle on how much Dresser's piece of the problem cost Halliburton. It turns out to be almost as much as Halliburton paid for the company.
(via WaPo)

Cheney, through Bush, naturally tried to make Halliburton's asbestos problem go away by using the Republican Congress as a sock puppet:

I give [Halliburton's current management] big credit for dealing with the problem rather than awaiting a miracle [cough] rescue from Congress. Almost from the day it took office, the Bush administration has pushed hard to get Congress to limit asbestos liability. That includes President Bush's visit to Illinois last week to push his "reform" proposals.

Gee, I wonder why that was?

If there is a God, and there is a Hell, I hope Bush and Cheney earn their just reward for "frivolous asbestos lawsuits."

I hope they're sunk deep in the deepest part of the ninth circle, and every stinking cancer-riddled corpse they've caused is hung around their necks.

Jamail: "Iraq's Oil for Guaranteed Political Power" 

Wondering what the resurrection of Ahmed Chalabi was all about? Wondering why anybody atall voted in iWaq? Wondering why the Sunni vote was suppressed and the Shia vote encouraged? And how does all of this fit with Iran? Dahr Jamail has the skinny, puts the pieces together, and now it all begins to make sense. Of course, this means that Bush is not deluded in the usual sense of the word, since presumably he knows what’s going on. It means that this is really about greed and evil. I quote it at length to save you the trouble of going elsewhere, but if you already read Dahr Jamail, skip on down:

Antonia Juhasz, a Foreign Policy in Focus scholar, authored a piece just before the “election” that sheds light on a topic that has lost attention amidst the recent fanfare concerning the polls in Iraq.


I think it’s worth including much of her story here, as it fits well with today’s topic of things most folks aren’t being told by the bringers of democracy to the heart of the Middle East.

On Dec. 22, 2004, Iraqi Finance Minister Abdel Mahdi told a handful of reporters and industry insiders at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. that Iraq wants to issue a new oil law that would open Iraq's national oil company to private foreign investment. As Mahdi explained: "So I think this is very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies."

In other words, Mahdi is proposing to privatize Iraq's oil and put it into American corporate hands.

According to the finance minister, foreigners would gain access both to "downstream" and "maybe even upstream" oil investment. This means foreigners can sell Iraqi oil and own it under the ground — the very thing for which many argue the U.S. went to war in the first place.

As Vice President Dick Cheney's Defense Policy Guidance report explained back in 1992, "Our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the [Middle East] region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region's oil."

While few in the American media other than Emad Mckay of Inter Press Service reported on — or even attended — Mahdi’s press conference, the announcement was made with U.S. Undersecretary of State Alan Larson at Mahdi's side. It was intended to send a message — but to whom?

It turns out that Abdel Mahdi is running in the Jan. 30 elections on the ticket of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIR), the leading Shiite political party. While announcing the selling-off of the resource which provides 95 percent of all Iraqi revenue may not garner Mahdi many Iraqi votes, but it will unquestionably win him tremendous support from the U.S. government and U.S. corporations.

Mahdi's SCIR is far and away the front-runner in the upcoming elections, particularly as it becomes increasingly less possible for Sunnis to vote because the regions where they live are spiraling into deadly chaos. If Bush were to suggest to Iraq’s Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that elections should be called off, Mahdi and the SCIR's ultimate chances of victory will likely decline.

I’ll add that the list of political parties Mahdi’s SCIR belongs to, The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), includes the Iraqi National Council, which is led by an old friend of the Bush Administration who provided the faulty information they needed to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq, none other than Ahmed Chalabi.

It should also be noted that interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi also fed the Bush Administration cooked information used to justify the invasion, but he heads a different Shia list which will most likely be getting nearly as many votes as the UIA list.

And The UIA has the blessing of Iranian born revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Sistani issued a fatwa which instructed his huge number of followers to vote in the election, or they would risk going to hell.

Thus, one might argue that the Bush administration has made a deal with the SCIR: Iraq's oil for guaranteed political power. The Americans are able to put forward such a bargain because Bush still holds the strings in Iraq.Regardless of what happens in the elections, for at least the next year during which the newly elected National Assembly writes a constitution and Iraqis vote for a new government, the Bush administration is going to control the largest pot of money available in Iraq (the $24 billion in U.S. taxpayer money allocated for the reconstruction), the largest military and the rules governing Iraq's economy. Both the money and the rules will, in turn, be overseen by U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector generals who sit in every Iraqi ministry with five-year terms and sweeping authority over contracts and regulations. However, the one thing which the administration has not been unable to confer upon itself is guaranteed access to Iraqi oil — that is, until now.

Continue reading "What They’re Not Telling You About the “Election”"

It all begins to make sense, now. Watch “election” results for confirmation.

Whack: Could it possibly be that the election numbers are not accurate?!??! 

Who knew?!

[O]ne election commision official was "evasive about the turnout, implying it might end up significantly lower than the initial estimate." They quoted this official, Safwat Radhid, exclaiming: "Only God Almighty knows the final turnout now."
(via Editor and Publisher)

Hmmm.... Have we heard stories like this before? Bien sur!

Those with long memories may recall the downward-adjusted turnout numbers that followed violence-plagued elections in South Vietnam in 1967 and in El Salvador in 1984.

In fact, the numbers are so bad, they may undermine the ability of the Iraqis to write their Constitution:

And one thing we now know for sure: the early media blather about a "strong" Sunni turnout has proven false. Adding a dose of reality, The Associated Press on Wednesday cited a Western diplomat who declared that turnout appeared to have been "quite low" in Iraq's vast Anbar province. Meanwhile, Carlos Valenzuela, the chief United Nations elections expert in Iraq, cautioned that forecasts for the Sunni areas were so low to begin with that even a higher-than-expected turnout would remain low.

In a rare reference to an actual vote tabulation, The New York Times on Thursday reports that in the "diverse" city of Mosul, with 60% of the count completed, the overall turnout seems slightly above 10%, or "somewhat more than 50,000 of Mosul's 500,000 estimated eligible voters."

This, of course, is no minor matter: Iraq's leading Sunni Muslim clerics said Wednesday that the country's election lacked legitimacy because large numbers of Sunnis did not participate in the balloting. Sure, many of them are simply sore losers (they lost an entire country) but that doesn't make their reaction any less troublesome for Iraq's future, especially with the cleric-backed Shiite alliance apparently headed for a landslide win.

Dexter Filkins of The New York Times warned Thursday that the widespread Sunni boycott "could even lead to the failure of the constitution; under the rules drafted last year to guide the establishment of a new Iraqi state, a two-thirds 'no' vote in three provinces would send the constitution down to defeat. The Sunnis are a majority in three provinces."

Well, slap my monkey and call me Bonzo—yet again, I just wasn't cynical enough!

Great headlines of our time: "Some Dems nervous as Dean resurges" 

And worst of all, I think it's accurate. Losing to Bush in 2004 doesn't make them nervous. Losing the Senate in 2002 doesn't make them nervous. Bush's appointment in 2000 doesn't make them nervous.

But reform? That makes them nervous. A good story in USA Today:

Trepidation, resignation, cautious optimism and outright enthusiasm are just some of the reactions among Democrats as they contemplate Dean's rise from the ashes of a failed nomination bid.
(via USA Today)

And why trepidation?

There is still some unease about Dean's grass-roots multitudes, whom he mobilized for his DNC bid. "His people tend to be a bit left," Pederson says, adding some DNC members in Arizona were "alarmed" at the avalanche of calls from them.

Being a Democratic official would be so easy, if only it weren't for those pesky Democrats. Heh. Honestly, an "avalanche" of calls from voters is a problem for a party that calls itself "Democratic"?

One definition of insanity is "doing the same thing again and expecting a different result." So, we're going to do the things that make us lose and then win?

Bush's troubling symptoms: Delusional thinking 

Via the Amazin' Froomkin in Wapo, Robert Kaiser, a Washington Post Associate Editor has a very interesting addition to the CW. Of the SOTU, Kaise writes:

Bush often describes a world whose features are all highly debatable, if not simply invented. He proposes 'a comprehensive health care agenda' that will leave perhaps 50 million Americans without health insurance. Is that comprehensive in any meaningful sense? He promises big economic benefits from legal changes, 'tort reform,' that independent economists say cannot have more than a small economic effect even if enacted, which is not likely. He promises to increase the size of Pell Grants, not noting that they have shrunk far below the level he promised when he came into the White House. He proposes to reduce American dependency on foreign supplies of energy, when independent specialists say that as long as we need oil, we will be heavily, and increasingly, dependent on foreign suppliers. Bush spoke of a free and sovereign Iraq as though all was well there, but Iraq is a country in terrible straits, with most uncertain prospects.
(via WaPo)

With apologies to Spinal Tap:

There's such a fine line between faith-based and delusional.

So Kaiser does fine up to a point. But then he goes mushy:

Bush didn't invent the rosy scenario approach to politics, of course. There's a lot of tradition behind this kind of wishful rhetoric."

It does look, though, that the consequences of Bush not being in the reality-based commmunity are slowly sinking in to the [cough] great minds in the Beltway who control our discourse. 2005 should be interesting....

MBF Watch: Only Those Who Submit To Dear Leader May Touch The Hem of His Garment 

Bush is still in permanent campaign mode—that would be the campaign to exclude half of America from seeing, hearing, or being near him (back).

Nothing must pop Inerrant Boy's bubble while He's doing shilling for Alpo Accounts!

Not everyone was welcome, apparently, at President Bush's speech in North Dakota yesterday.

The Fargo Forum reported that a city commissioner, a liberal radio producer, a deputy Democratic campaign manager and a number of university professors were among more than 40 area residents who were barred from attending the Bush event. Their names were on a list supplied to workers at two ticket distribution sites.

The White House said the list may have come from volunteers; it did not come from the White House.
(via WaPo)

Faugh. Can't these guys take responsibility for anything? Do you think Bush's advance team is leaving these things to chance? Those "volunteers" are members of Rove's local organization!

And, of course, all Bush has to do is say that He won't exclude any citizen from a Partei rally. Silence speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Hey, I've got an idea! Let's petition Bush for the redress of grievances! Haw.

NOTE The usually not totally unreliable Mike Allen gives Bubble Boy a free pass on this one. Look at this bilge:

... campaign-style appearances ... the mostly partisan crowd ... campaigning, election-style ... At a town hall meeting here that often sounded as much like a late-night comedy show as a policy seminar, Bush repeatedly cracked jokes and teased [read: bullied] attendees ...

Right. We know what "campaign-style" means.... People getting disinvited if they're wearing the "wrong" T-shirt, arrested, dragged away, and jailed, or stomped. And of course, that's after a black list has gotten rid of anyone but the Bush [cough] faithful. No wonder Bush is cracking jokes! Wouldn't you be laughing, too?

You can bring this shameful lack of coverage to the attention of WaPo's reasonably functional ombudsman—functional especially compared to that whiner, Daniel Okrent— here.

C'mon, Mike. Can the hagiography. Worried about being thrown off the bus? If so, get a new job.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Great title for a column: "The daily aneurysm."

Turn about being fair play.... As a response to those giant flipflops Bush's pitifully deluded followers kept wearing at Kerry rallies, I'd like to see people show up at Bush's Social Security rallies wearing frog suits. You know why.

Film at 11: Winger replicants invade the press corps 

I'm shocked! Shocked!

Or not. Move along people, move along, there's no story here. Can it be that Inerrant Boy is so fearful of question, so unable to think on his feet, so terrified that someone will pop his bubble, that He sinks to taking planted questions from ringers at his press [cough] conferences? Say it isn't so!

The Bush administration has provided White House media credentials to a man who has virtually no journalistic background, asks softball questions to the president and his spokesman in the midst of contentious news conferences, and routinely reprints long passages verbatim from official press releases as original news articles on his website.

Jeff Gannon calls himself the White House correspondent for TalonNews.com ... [T]ranscripts of White House briefings indicate that McClellan often calls on Gannon and that the press secretary -- and the president -- have found relief in a question from Gannon after critical lines of questioning from mainstream news organizations.

[Media Matters] quickly discovered two things, he said. First, both Talon and the political organization GOP USA were run by a Texas Republican activist and party delegate named Bobby Eberle. Second, many of the reports Gannon filed for Talon News "appeared to be lifted verbatim from various White House and Republican political committee documents."
(via The Boston Glob)

And how's this for an utterly classic piece of up-is-down-ism?

Gannon declined to comment. He did reply to [Media Matters] on his personal blog: "In many cases I have liberally used the verbiage provided on key aspects of the issue because it is the precise expression of where the White House stands -- free of any 'spin.' It's the ultimate in journalistic honesty -- unvarnished and unfiltered. If only others would be as forthcoming."

'S beautiful. [Sniffs, wipes nose on back of sleeve.] Beautiful... Journalistic honesty is the same as typing RNC talking points—verbatim.

Up is down... Although, come to think of it—

How is what Talon's Gannon says any different from what Judith "Kneepads" Miller has already said, just using fancier words? (back)

"[LA MILLER] [M]y job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal."

I guess I'm getting old—it still strikes me as funny that a reporter at The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) would espouse exactly the same philosophy as a shill for the Texas Republican Partei. I just hope they aren't actually paid for what they do (like the $250,000 the Republicans gave Armstrong Williams as part of their disinformation campaign for No Media Whore Left Behind). I just don't think I could take a revelation like that.

I mean, they can't all be on the take, right? Even if Bush does have the budget for at least 200 talking heads.... ("PR" stands for Paying Republicans, back) ... and so far we only know about 4, some of whom sold themselves for a lot less money than Williams did.

Our CEO President: "You can't manage what you don't measure." 

At least that's what management guru Peter Drucker has famously said.

However, in IraqWhack, we can't measure anything&mdashl;except the casualties, of course—even though it's a war of choice, and we've been there well over a year.

Asked during a news briefing today to list the measurable benchmarks that commanders would use to judge Iraqi troops, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was unable to pinpoint a firm set of measures. Rumsfeld cited ways that Iraqis might improve as soldiers, yet admitted they were "qualitative things as opposed to quantity."

According to Pentagon statistics, there are 136,000 Iraqi soldiers, national guardsmen and policemen equipped and trained -- roughly half of the goal of 271,000. But there is disagreement among senior military officials over what portion of the total is capable of taking on an insurgency that remains a dangerous enemy.

During congressional testimony today, Myers estimated that fewer than one-third of the trained and equipped Iraqi forces were capable of battling insurgents anywhere in Iraq.

"About 40,000 can go anywhere in the country and take on any threat," Myers told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "That does not mean the rest of them aren't useful."
(via LA Times)

Well, sure. Useful for what, exactly?

Now, this is important because Our CEO President has set us a Bold goal in Whack:

"We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned." (back)

But what does "able to defend itself" mean? We do know that half the troop count has been met, and of those, two-thirds are useless. Of the balance, Myer says they can take on any threat, but what does that mean in practice? Again, we don't know, since there's no metric, no way to tell.

Of course, with the Texas Sharpshooter in charge (back), at some point Bush will just declare success. And that will be that! My guess it will be after the permanent bases are built and sufficiently fortified.

Oh, and speaking of not being able to manage things... Remember the $9 billion (back) that the CPA "lost"—probably into a slush fund to finance Bush's dirty war against 1.5 billion Muslims? Funny how that story just.... died, isn't it? I wonder why that happened?

UPDATE $6 billion, $9 billion.... Pretty soon you're talking real money!


Less noticed was a SOTU delivered today by Tex Hall, the President of the National Congress of American Indians—the 2005 State of Indian Nations address. No fire and brimstone, no carping on the freedom and tyranny dichotomy, no “When they came, they made many promises. They kept one. They said they would take our land, and they took it.” or “Are we better off than we were 500 years ago?”

Although those are fine observations. Instead, just a few simple insights and a pretty firm grip on reality, as opposed to the fantasy blather of Captain Deludo. Here’s a taste:

120 years ago, Chief Joseph reminded us – “Treat all men alike. Give them the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.” Those rights mean we have the right to equal health care, equal school facilities, and equal accounting of our trust property…

Americans should know that since World War II, Indians have the highest percentage of military service of any ethnic group of people in our Country.

When I think of the war in Iraq, I am reminded of the basic principle that the United States cannot do good around the world unless we first do good at home. Much of the power that the United States enjoys grows out of the power of our example. We can't tell people to make a more democratic world unless they think we are making opportunity and hope available to every American citizen. That means tribal citizens must be afforded the opportunity to attend safe schools, drink clean water, receive quality heath care, and live and work in a safe community. In other words, the social crisis is not just an Indian problem – it is a world problem. America, you have to do better at home. Tribes want to be and must be engaged on policy issues facing the nation. As the debate on Social Security reform continues, Native Americans cannot be excluded from the discourse.

Social Security is critical to American Indian and Alaska Native communities as a stable source of income. In addition to protecting our elders, tribes are engaged in protecting and preserving the environment. Across the continent, tribes have always depended on the gifts of fish, wildlife, clean air and water, as well as healthy forests and natural vegetation for their culture, sustenance and economies. Future generations deserve a clean environment and abundant natural resources...

I don’t guess anyone was waving purple fingers during this one.

Winger torque on values voting finally debunked 

Important. But one of many factors:

The fourth annual survey, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, covered a representative sample of 2,730 Americans who were contacted in the spring of 2004 and again in the weeks after the November election. It had an error margin of 2.5 points plus or minus.

In the end only 21 percent of voters said their faith was more important than other factors in casting their vote and another 26 percent said it was about as important as anything else in their decision -- a combined total of less than half.
(via Reuters)

Maybe Dems should do a little bit of reframing around the notion of a "higher power." Of course, since Bush never entered a recovery program (obviously) the notion will be meaningless to Him, but it might resonant with millions of others.

Alpo accounts: Bush rallies to be "by invitation only" 

Gee, you'd think that any citizen, Democratic or Republican, would be able to attend these important, informative events, but n-o-o-o-o-o!

Following a visit to Fargo, Bush is set to go to Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas and Florida in a campaign-style tour that features a series of town-hall forums.

Guests at these meetings have been hand-picked by the White House to discuss Social Security and some of them will be allowed to ask Bush questions.
(via Reuters)

Gee, it's just like the Bush campaign! Will attendees be required to sign loyalty oaths? Will people wearing the wrong T-shirts be thrown out? Will protestors be handcuffed, arrested, dragged off, and jailed?

Of course not! This is the land of "liberty"!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

C'mon over. I'm in my tiny room under the stairs in The Mighty Corrente Building.

When the bottles pile up under the bed, we'll just heave 'em out the door!

"Birth tax"—or "birth debt"? 

That's what Reid called the debt Bush has run up, that our children will have to pay, in the Democratic response to Bush's laundry list of winger nostrums.

I like zapping the "death tax" the Winger Torque Machine replaced "estate tax" with.

But Lakoff suggests that reframing means putting one frame within a larger frame. Semantically, it's like Microsoft's embrace and extend strategy.

So, maybe "birth debt" would be better than "birth tax" as a Democratic frame for the Republican's fiscal irresponsibility. Did I say irresponsibility? I mean fecklessness. First, it is a debt. Second, I bet that on examination, American's fear of gonig too deeply into debt is even worse than their fear of taxes. The story "birth debt" would tell is that the Republicans are subjecting every American child to harassing calls from debt collection agencies. Which, on a macro scale, is exactly what's happening.

Gutting Amtrak 

You know, I don't mind subsidizing Bush's red state base with my blue state money—heck, it's one country, right?—but can't they just let me alone, and not trash what I need for my life?

The Bush administration's decision to propose no operating money for Amtrak next year is the starkest signal yet that U.S. transportation planners are serious about dramatically altering or dismantling the troubled rail line, industry experts said on Wednesday.
(via Reuters)

I mean, the entire government is set up to subsidize the automobile, including the military establishment that defends "our" oil. So we can't subsidize Amtrak, and prevent our cities from being choked with more cars? And I don't seem to recall invading any other country in quest of steel rails....

UPDATE Alert reader Elliott Lake corrects my kneejerk blue-state-ness:

Weirder still, it hits red states harder every year--only one place now in all of Idaho to get on the train (Sandpoint, 2 am), and about 3 stops in Montana. As there is no bus service either, it's hitch it or stay for a lot of folks.

OK, so He's fucking the base too. WTF?

SOTU: This means war 

As usual, as soon as Bush gets you down on the ground, he starts kicking harder. People nail him on the WMD-like "Social Security" bankruptcy? Fine. He repeats it twice.

I knew this was coming the minute I heard "frivolous asbestos lawsuits."

1. Comes out in favor of Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment. ("Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges." Talk about frivolous; I really like the idea of judges getting involved in defining what's sacred, don't you?)

2. 2/3 of the payroll tax to Alpo Accounts ("four [of the six] percentage points of their payroll taxes")

3. Tax cuts for the super-rich in place permanently ("makes tax relief [cough]

4. Every judge to be a winger replicant (and if "every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote" that means the nuclear option to stop the Democratic filibuster)

5. No exit strategy from Iraq: "We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned." So, how many years to make that happen?

Of course, it's been war for some time. Eh?

Wanker Of The Moment - Mara Liasson 

She explaining that the administration is banking on the fact that young voters already don't believe they aren't going to get any SS, so they are ripe for the Republican picking. Hmm, can't imagine why they believe that.

Doesn't it ever occur to theses young people the only way they won't get SS is if their own children decide they don't want their parents to get any. Hope the really young voters are prepared to be responsible for the full maintenance of their parents if Bush gets his way. Family values.

SOTU: Well, I've got to give Bush kudos for this one 


Right now, Americans in uniform are serving at posts across the world,
often taking great risks on my orders. We have given them training
and equipment; and they have given us an example of idealism and
character that makes every American proud.
(via Mr. "What embargo?" Black)

And then he went on to issue an executive order thanking the families who bought body armor for their children, and the chambers of commerce who bought armor for the Humvees, and reimbursing them.

Oh, wait a minute. He didn't do that, did he? Sorry. My bad. I take the kudos back.

NOTE And then, to add insult to injury (quite literally so):

Some of our servicemen and women have survived terrible injuries, and this grateful country will do everything we can to help them recover.

When it's the lack of armor that got them injured in the first place....

There really seems to be no limit to this man's self delusion and utter inability to take responsibility for his actions. In the immortal words of Thomas Pynchon, "'Scuse me, got to go vomit now."

SOTU: Bush rips FDR out of context—as how else could it be? 

Bush quotes FDR. Isn't that precious?

But He only quotes one sentence:

[E]ach age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth."
(via The man in the grey sweater's transcript)

Let's not take that sentence out of context, like C Plus Augustus did. Let's look at the whole speech:

Shall we pause now and turn our back upon the road that lies ahead? Shall we call this the promised land? Or, shall we continue on our way? For "each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth."

Let us ask again: Have we reached the goal of our vision of that fourth day of March 1933? Have we found our happy valley?

I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great wealth of natural resources. Its hundred and thirty million people are at peace among themselves; they are making their country a good neighbor among the nations. I see a United States which can demonstrate that, under democratic methods of government, national wealth can be translated into a spreading volume of human comforts hitherto unknown, and the lowest standard of living can be raised far above the level of mere subsistence.

But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens-a substantial part of its whole population-who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.

I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.

I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half a century ago.

I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.

I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions.

I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.

It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope-because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
(via Brittanica

You know, the Pledge of Allegiance ends "... with liberty and justice for all." Funny how Bush always forgets the "justice" part, isn't it?

SOTU: Did He Say "Frivolous Asbestos Lawsuits?" 

Apparently, Lambert heard it that way too.

Okay, all human beings tell lies, all Presidents, being human, tell lies some of the time. But this President is a liar, although I sometimes doubt that he is sufficiently evolved ethically to even know when he is or isn't lying.

From whom and what do we need to save SS? Not a difficult answer: The Republican Party. In 1983, SS was fixed by a bi-partisan commission to take care of the problem of the retirement of the baby boomers. The fix - higher payroll taxes paid by the middle and working class primarily, to build of up reserves. Those reserves were squandered by Reagan, by Bush 1, and most extravagantly, the Bush I'm listening to right this moment by running structural deficits that were made to look smaller by borrowing these SS surpluses. We, the vast majority of Americans have already paid to fix SS; you want to change the structure of the program, Mr. Bush, give us back the increased taxes we paid on our salaries as of 1983. You putz.

Deficits aren't always bad; borrowing makes sense sometimes. Think about this for a moment. What it had taken 200 years 39 other presidents to accumulate as our national debt, in the course of only eights years Ronald Reagan managed to quadruple. Because of tax cuts. Because of a refusal for pay for government.

His special program to give organizations money to make a difference in harsh places; more cars on the Faith Based Gravy Train.

Our friends in the Middle East includes quite a few unelected leaders doesn't it?

Sometimes trying to keep track of this guys sucker punches just makes a girl feel silly.

SOTU: Alpo Accounts: YABL, YABL, YABL 

Bush in the SOTU:

Here is why personal accounts are a better deal. Your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current system can deliver - and your account will provide money for retirement over and above the check you will receive from Social Security. In addition, you'll be able to pass along the money that accumulates in
your personal account, if you wish, to your children or grandchildren. And best of all, the money in the account is yours, and the
government can never take it away.
(via Mr Duncan Black)

The truth:

In other words, to believe in a privatization-friendly rate of return, you have to believe that half a century from now, the average stock will be priced like technology stocks at the height of the Internet bubble - and that stock prices will nonetheless keep on rising.

Social Security privatizers usually defend their bullishness by saying that stock investors earned high returns in the past. But stocks are much more expensive than they used to be, relative to corporate profits; that means lower dividends per dollar of share value. And economic growth is expected to be slower.

Which brings us to the privatizers' Catch-22.

They can rescue their happy vision for stock returns by claiming that the Social Security actuaries are vastly underestimating future economic growth. But in that case, we don't need to worry about Social Security's future: if the economy grows fast enough to generate a rate of return that makes privatization work, it will also yield a bonanza of payroll tax revenue that will keep the current system sound for generations to come.

Alternatively, privatizers can unhappily admit that future stock returns will be much lower than they have been claiming. But without those high returns, the arithmetic of their schemes collapses.
(via Paul Krugman NY Times

Winger delusions.

NOTE Which the great Brad DeLong, on TV, does not hammer home. Dems gotta get their talking points home.

SOTU: H-e-e-e-e-re's W! 

I like it that Bush talks about "liberty" but somehow leaves out "justice." The text is here (via the essential (here)

Does Bush's voice sound a little more slurred than usual, or is it just me?

And speaking of drinking games....

This speech is sounding like a Clintonian laundry list. Where's the soaring rhetoric? It's all about turkee.

"Frivolous asbestos claims?!?!" [Choke, as of withered lung gasping for fair. Sound of heavy object hitting screen. Audio: Sound of baying Republicans.]


What the heck is Bush on?!

Shome have shuggested limiting benefitsh for wealthy retireesh.

Weird. Thick tongue from the Xanax.

Uh, thanks, but I think I'll try the salad 

Woodchuck Wednesday; Great moments in headline writing:
Church's Ground Hog Dinner Wednesday
The 13th annual Community Ground Hog Dinner will be Wednesday in the fellowship hall of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 1625 N. Broadway in Shawnee.


"domestic tranquility" and "The Great Leap Backward" 

Get out there - lather em' up with the ol' soft soap - and SELL! SELL! SELL!
Bush met privately yesterday with congressional Republicans at a retreat in West Virginia to discuss Social Security and other issues.

Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., said that Bush's Social Security plans were generally well received. However, Dreier said that Republicans must emphasize the positivein trying to sell the idea to the country.

Republican sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that in the private portion of the discussion, Bush invoked his twin 22-year-old daughters, Jenna and Barbara, as examples of the need to pass Social Security legislation. ~ LINK

Should the poor dears find themselves unable to secure lucrative high paying "domestic tranquility" as personal retirement asset fund managers, well, I just can't bear to entertain such monstrous notions.

This is about the future. The future of our na-tion. And the fu-ture, the future - of the own-er-ship so-ciety. And the future of...
"The Great Leap Backward"

Economic Policy
1. Welcome to the ownership society. If you have not been assigned an owner yet, please report to Iran for duty.

And don't forget to bring along your big floppy foam rubber purple finger of freedom glove.


New buddies share recipes for freedom 

Posing for moral leadership

"Because of the US help, Karimov is getting richer and stronger.":
Independent human rights groups estimate that there are more than 600 politically motivated arrests a year in Uzbekistan, and 6,500 political prisoners, some tortured to death. According to a forensic report commissioned by the British embassy, in August two prisoners were even boiled to death.

The US condemned this repression for many years. But since September 11 rewrote America's strategic interests in central Asia, the government of President Islam Karimov has become Washington's new best friend in the region.

The US is funding those it once condemned. Last year Washington gave Uzbekistan $500m (£300m) in aid. The police and intelligence services - which the state department's website says use "torture as a routine investigation technique" received $79m of this sum.

Mr Karimov was President Bush's guest in Washington in March last year. They signed a "declaration" which gave Uzbekistan security guarantees and promised to strengthen "the material and technical base of [their] law enforcement agencies". ~Guardian UK, May 2003

More, including photos, via the Memory Hole: Senior US Officials Cozy up to Dictator Who Boils People Alive

Maybe he'll boil David Brooks alive if we throw in a lobster and a bushel of clams as a gesture of good faith. Is that doable? Alberto?

On topic - Corrente backtrack: Outposts of Empire...

By May 2002, a thousand American soldiers from the Tenth Mountain Division and a squadron of F-15E fighter jets were deployed there. Russian sources claim that Uzbekistan has leased the base to the United states for twenty-five years. The Pentagon denies this but refuses to say how long the lease actually is. [...] The Pentagon has given Vice President Cheney's old company, the Kellogg Brown & Root subdivision of Halliburton, an open-ended contract to provide logistics for the Khanadad base-... [source: Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson; pp 184]

1- Uzbekistan: Pentagon's Foriegn Military Financing (FMF) fund provides money for weapons and training to countries such as Israel, Jordon, Colombia, India, Pakistan Turkey among others. Appropriations for such outlays are in the billions of dollars. Pentagon requested Over 4 billion in 2003. Uzbekistan received 8.75 million from this 2003 budget. (and 1.2 million from the State Departments International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. [source: Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson; pp 137]


Whatever Gets You Through the SOTU 

Remove all heavy objects from room. Stock a supply of rolled-up socks, feather pillows, fluffy cat toys (NOT the fluffy cats themselves, it would be inhumane), wadded up sheets of newspaper (great kindling for afterwards for those with fireplaces) and suchlike objects which can be hurled at the televisor screen as needed.

And if you have time and a means of doing so, we recomment a computer hookup in the televisor room so that every time there's one of those "applause pause" moments (entirely spontaneous, we know) you can hit play on some appropriately inspirational music.

*Note: Completely non-obscene but probably not work-safe due to raucousness and potential to upset surly supervisors with on-the-job laughter. Those so unfortunate as to be trying to get through these times without resort to alcohol should maybe skip it too.

The Nukes Rise Again from a Shallow Grave 

I wonder if the delusional deserter will mention THIS in the SOTU?

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has asked for the restoration of a research program designed to create a new type of nuclear weapons capable of destroying hardened underground targets, a Pentagon official said.

The request came in a letter Rumsfeld sent to then-Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham on January 10, in which he insisted that funds for studying the feasibility of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator be restored. via Rumsfeld seeks nuke 'bunker buster' plan

This is truly frightening. Watch as this develops, verrrrry closely.

Holy Shit 

Sometimes, only your basic Anglo-Saxon four letter word will do. No offense meant to religious compatriots.

John Avallos at AmericaBlog brings to our attention evidence that the hostility of the religious right to homosexuals might not only be a response to having been forced to deal with, lo, these many years, the seepage of that notorious homosexual agenda into mainstream media.

The evidence comes from "The Center For Reclaiming America," which is associated with the Rev. James Kennedy, whose frequent appearances in all venues of the SCLM, especially MSNBC, you may be familiar with. If not, let me assure you that Rev. Kennedy is always presented as a mainstream, non-ideological, non-extremist, evangelical Christian who just wants to be heard above the secular humanist din.

From the Center's news blog, "THE INSIDE TRACK, NEWS You Won't Hear On The News:"
Move over Fox and Friends. A new morning news program is entering the already-crowded market. It’s name -- Good morning Gay America! The show is an offering from Q Television, a gay pay cable network which caters to “gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and the curious.”


Fortunately, the program, which purports to “feature news from every national gay event across the country,” is only available in select cities. Unfortunately, systems are being added in other cities, according to a Q spokesman.

Take Action!

Contact your local, state, and national representatives and tell them you are tired of the glorification of the homosexual lifestyle. Ask them to prohibit the Q network from infiltrating your town.
A pay cable channel you can't see unless you plunk down your ready cash, a channel that is explicitly aimed at a gay audience, which includes those of us heteros who consider gays part of our world, who are related to gays, or number gays among our friends, and this bunch of hooligans has no compunctions about pressuring cable systems not to allow them into the marketplace. Wasn't the marketplacce suppposed to be sacred to these free-market religionists?

I suppopse I could have called this post "Unholy Shit," but the truth is that it is this version of evangelical Christianity, in particular, which refuses to recognize the fundamental humanity of gay people. And they ought to be called on it at every turn.

I often wonder if an outfit like Kennedy's, or any of the others like it, just haven't noticed that on Home & Garden Television, as well as on the Food Network, one finds a daily, total acceptance of gay humanity. Gay couples are presented as just that, with no pretense that the two men or women who are showing you the house they renovated are anything but what they are, partners who share both their lives, their love and their home with one another, and sometimes with their adopted children. And are presented in exactly the same way as are heterosexual couples, who are not always married.. Or, are all those Concerned Centers for American Religious Reclamation just too chicken to take on the Discovery Network, which is sufficiently big to push back, hard. They're right to be afraid. There's nothing like actual human contact to undermine bigotry.

If Gay partnership is good enough for the large audience that buys her books and watches Debbie Travis, who does makeovers regularly on "The Painted House" for and with gay couples, (one, called the "black" dining room, which was actually deep purple with a green ceiling, I often dream about), can the rest of America be far behind?

Where's that Dem war room when we need it 

Can you believe that this is the Dem talking point in Gonzales, the guy who tried to make torture legal and justify Executive rule by decree?

Democratic opposition to Gonzales derives "from the nominee's"

... [drone] ...

involvement in the formulation

... [drone]...

of a number of policies

... [drone]...

that have tarnished our country's moral leadership in the world

... [drone]...

and put American soldiers and American citizens at greater risk," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said during Senate debate Tuesday.
(via AP)

Those are words that burn themselves right into the memory, aren't they?

Great that Leahy has seen the light on the issue—but can't the Dems learn a little from how the Republicans work, and make their talking points just a little snappier?

After the triumphalism: The details on the Iraqi election are already coming out 

And God is in the details, right?

First, the Sunnis don't think so highly of the results:

(AP) - Iraq's leading Sunni Muslim clerics said Wednesday the country's landmark elections lacked legitimacy because large numbers of Sunnis did not participate in the balloting, which the religious leaders had asked them to boycott.
(via AP)

And speaking of legitimacy, it almost looks like the election officials were taking lessons from the Republicans in Florida and Ohio:

Iraqi officials have acknowledged voting problems, including a ballot shortage in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul, which have substantial Sunni populations and which also may have contributed to a low Sunni turnout.

Interesting, yes? Ballot shortages in big cities.... That might vote the "wrong" way...

Please refer all responses containing the words "tinfoil hat" to The Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC This takes nothing away from the courage of the Iraqis in voting, just as the votes stolen in Ohio and Florida take nothing away from the people who waited in lines for hours and hours to cast them.

So, the SOTU 

Do you think Bush will read from the actual stone tablets, or will He have his fluffers copy His words off them onto the teleprompter?

"Bush mandate" meme successfully propagates into mainstream! 

And just in time for the SOTU!

You read it here first, bien sur!

(Saw Bill Schorr's cartoon in amNewYork this morning—bringing great joy to my commute.)

Delusion and Recovery: Prognosis 

Building on what Tom has in his post below (thanks!), Antonio Castaneda of AP found some historians making the point that I was sure was lurking in the history of iWaq (and yes, I’ll spell it that way from here on out just so it’s absolutely goddam clear who’s war this is). The British tried not one, but several elections during their “stay” in iWaq from 1919 to 1958. The Iraqis have a long memory.

See Historians See Similarities Between Iraqi Vote Today, Elections Held Under British Rule - from TBO.com where you will read that

Sunday's vote has been painted as Iraq's introduction to democracy, but elections were held under British control, too. Some older Iraqis may have even participated in the 1954 elections, considered relatively free by some historians.

But the majority of Iraq's old parliamentary elections would not pass today's Western standards, and regardless of how fair the polls were, there was no hope for a true representative democracy in a country controlled by Britain.

"The historical memory (Iraqis) have of democracy is of weak governments that were beholden to the British," said Vali Nasr, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.
"Once there were elections, the British tried to get the governments that they would like," said Nasr. "That ended up completely destroying democracy in Iraq."

Gosh, how short historical memory is. I’m sure aWol will mention that in the SOTU. So, we have similarities between current imperial American actions and past imperial American actions (Vietnam), a new puppet government in Afghanistan that really can’t move much outside of Kabul, OBL still on the loose, and historical precedents to what’s happening in iWaq today with a previous imperial power (Britain). Tom mentions El Salvador, below, as a parallel. I won’t even bother with the Philippines War, but shit, folks…the signs of disaster are everywhere in history and all we get from the media shills and the gummint is butterflies and rainbows. But Social Security? That’s a crisis!

Bushco’s Middle East fantasy goes beyond denial and wishful thinking. This is delusional thinking. See First-person accounts of delusions -- Stanton and David 24 (9): 333 -- Psychiatric Bulletin, where we read that

Reality-testing was not usually part of the process of the development of delusions. It seems that people usually feel no need to question their developing beliefs, and that evidence which might disconfirm them is ignored.

Recovery from delusions is almost always a gradual process, during which the individual passes through an intermediate stage of willingness to question delusions or duality of belief and disbelief. Reality-testing and other strategies to combat delusional thinking may play an important part in promoting and maintaining recovery…

Recovery? Prognosis?

More Inaccurate Right Wing Historical Revisionism -- this time it's El Salvador 

RDF asked about historic parallels in an earlier post and I answered her tentatively in this post. Interestingly enough, the Bush people want you to think that El Salvador is a great parallel. God, I should hope not! 15 years of bloody war? You've got to be kidding me!

Eric Alterman talked about this on Monday. (Read on further and you'll get to read Charles Pierce's excellent rant about how the Bushies don't own the Iraqi people's courage.)

Here's a good article by Mark Engler from December analyzing what's wrong with trying to use El Salvador as a model for Iraq.

Engler shreds this analogy pretty effectively:
In drawing a parallel to Iraq, the secretary echoed the comments of Cheney in his Oct. 5 debate with John Edwards. The vice president argued that in 1980s El Salvador "a guerilla insurgency controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead. And we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress. ... And as the terrorists would come in and shoot up polling places as soon as they left, the voters would come back and get in line and would not be denied their right to vote. And today El Salvador is ... a lot better because we held free elections."

There is a serious problem with this story. The 75,000 people Cheney mentioned were indeed killed by terrorists, but not by the rebel FMLN forces that he intended to condemn. Rather, they were under assault from the very Salvadoran government that the Reagan administration was supporting and from its paramilitary death squads. With a list of opposition politicians having already been executed or exiled, the 1984 elections were little more than a farce designed to give democratic respectability to a regime that was perpetuating some of the worst human rights abuses in the hemisphere.

Before peace accords ended the civil war in 1992, the United States would provide the bloody-handed Salvadoran government more than $6 billion in aid.

The facts of Salvadoran history were definitively established by a UN-sponsored truth commission in 1993. It concluded that 90 percent of the atrocities in the conflict were committed by the army and its surrogates, with the rebels responsible for 5 percent and the remaining 5 percent undetermined.

"The army, security forces, and death squads linked to them committed massacres, sometimes of hundreds of people at a time," the truth commission reported. Among the crimes that the Reagan administration had attempted to obscure or deny were the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, the slaughter of hundreds of villagers and the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Even if U.S. involvement in the country did not present a damning cautionary tale, it is uncertain what lessons the current administration would like to draw from the conflict for the present. While El Salvador experienced a conventional civil war with clearly defined adversaries, the invasion of Iraq has created a broad and varied resistance. It has placed U.S. soldiers in a type of guerrilla war that even many counter-insurgency experts consider impossible to win.

Of course, "winning" on President George W. Bush's terms may not be desirable, especially if it means using Iraq as a long-term base from which to project military power. In El Salvador, it was only after the Cold War ended and the United States relented on its anti-Communist obsession that the UN and other international mediators were able to help facilitate a transition to democracy - something the FMLN had long desired, and that the Iraqi people may long be denied.
So these Iraqi elections may be like the ridiculous farcical "show elections" in El Salvador in 1984, huh? That's what all the hub-bub's about? Great.

Engler contends that this analogy may work with regard to one thing: democracy may not truly happen in Iraq until we get out.

I'm wary of these elections. As I said earlier, I expect them to suspiciously turn out exactly like we want them -- just like they did in 1984 in El Salvador.

David Brooks Thinks He Owns Their Courage 

The mild-mannered, good conservative faction is heard from on the Iraqi election, and provides some measure of just how up-side-down our American political discourse has become when an intelligent centrist like The Moose, if I read his satire correctly, insists that Howard Dean is too extreme and too left to lead the Democratic Party, while David Brooks gets away with portraying himself as anything but a right-wing propagandist.

Unless you've heard elsewhere, I'm guessing you'll be surprised when I tell you Mr. Brooks, while watching those TV images of Iraqis voting, couldn't help his thoughts from turning to....wait for it...Whitaker Chambers.

So densly packed are the absurdities in this particular column, I'm not even going to deal with his take on Chambers and why Chambers' post-communist life was lived in a kind of hell. The connection between Chambers and Iraqis?
These Iraqis are people who, like Chambers, have spent their lives in hell and cannot have been unaffected by it. They have touched pitch and witnessed or participated in man's capacity for violence and treachery. They must be both damaged and toughened.
Bathed in condescension, the rest of the column is a revisionist history of the American occupation of Iraq in which the damaged people of not-quite-ready-for-primetime-democracy Iraq are subtly given primary responsibility for most of the problems they've encountered while occupied. No Soviet apparatchik could do it better. (One trait the radical right shares with communism, both are never wrong because their ideas are so correct, so pure, so, well, so idealistic; it's why both are so bad at history)

And after the "dense evil of Saddam," these poor damaged Iraqis were thrust into an occupation in which they had to endure "haphazard" violence from both foreign terrorists and stubborn Baathists. Gee, I wonder how that could've happened? Who was it again, in the Summer of 2003, who said "Bring 'em on."? Which occupying army pretended it wasn't an occupier and in the march to Baghdad left stores of arms unsecured?

As for the chaos into which Iraq was plunged immediately upon our entrance into Baghdad?
When Saddam was first toppled, liberty turned immediately into anarchy. But as Michael Rubin, who has spent much of the past two years in Iraq, observed yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, gradually the habits of moderation have begun to develop - the habits of self-regulating liberty, compromise, tolerance and power-sharing.
Like Dick Cheney was saying the othe day, we underestimated the damage Saddam had wrecked upon the Iraqi psyche. But thank-God we were patient with the poor dears, because the bright light of compromise, tolerance and power-sharing shone so brightly from the oval office that it has begun to heal the oh-so-damaged-just-back-from-hell Iraqi people.

Here's the simple truth that is uncontradicted by anyone who is able to recite a straightforward narrative of Mr. Bush's Iraqi policy. Liberty turned into anarchy because the American power that overthrew the civil authority and infrastructure under which the 25 million people of Iraq lived, was unprepared to to offer any immediate substitute, although they had been warned again and again that they had better damn well be prepared to. They didn't even offer martial law, allowing weeks of looting, which literally destroyed civilian life in Iraq.

Something that is too often missed in these discussions of Iraq's readiness for democracy. Iraqis were not passive in the early days of the occupation; in fact, they did something better than throw flowers and dance in the street; within days of Saddam's overthrow, they began organizaing political parties, they began printing newspapers, and perhaps most remarkable of all, the Shia reinstituted a religious pilgrimage by thousands of Iraqis to Karbala, previously banned by Saddam, and carried it off, providing water and all other necessary facilities, without a single hitch. Iraqis also made immediate plans for local elections, of which General Garner approved, which may be why he was replaced in favor of Mr. Bremer of the many first names, who promptly cancelled all elections. The only people I'm aware of who were saying, by both their words and their actions, that Iraqis weren't ready for democracy were in the Bush administration.

Why bother with Brooks? Because you will hear these same lies and distortions spread through the SCLM. What to do to counteract it? You tell me. Maybe start writing to elected Democrats who have some chance of getting in front of a camera somewhere to ask them to start to take on a column like this.

Jon Stewart is not the problem 

The Daily Show usually manages to convey that things actually do matter, even though media coverage of those things is quite absurd. It's an episode of Hardball or Inside Politics which tells you to dismiss the world as absurd.
(via the inestimable Atrios)
Amen, brother!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Nice to know a Republican isn't running for head of the DNC anymore 

Frost drops out.

All together now: Awwwwwww!

Goodnight, moon 

Could it possibly be that no Dem will support Bush's Alpo Accounts? Maybe that spinal transplant is working after all...

I'd like to see no applause whatever from any Democrat for Bush tomorrow, no matter what he says. What do they have to gain by it?

Even better would be the infamous "slow clap" ....

Rapture index closes up 1 on debt and trade 


And the people who believe this—and are working to bring it about—are running the country! More explicitly:

The U.S. federal and trade deficit both hit new highs.

And that brings the rapture closer, so it's good.

Ever wonder why Bush isn't worried about the deficit or the tanking dollar? He isn't worried, because he's a loon, along with the rest of the rapture loons.

Feeling safer?

When Did A Free Press Become The Enemy? 

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow points us to this Wa Po essay by Paul Farhi, a reporter for the paper's style section, who describes in stunning detail the ever-finer honing of the Bush notion of press freedom - that a free press is free to grovel at the feet of government power, but watch out if it chooses any other path.
Reporters who cover the White House are accustomed to being spun by administration officials. The modern presidential toolbox includes carefully rationed press conferences, say-nothing spokesmen, dead-of-night releases of unfavorable news, and phony "town hall" meetings composed solely of sycophantic supporters. More recently, government agencies have issued fake-news videos and secretly contracted with two pundits to promote the administration's policies on education and marriage.

But now the art of press handling has evolved into actual manhandling.
Read the rest. And then consider the possibility that some of the readiness of the SCLM to grovel, to accept this president strictly on the terms he dictates is a response akin to what happens to wives who are locked into abusive marital relationships. Even Mr. Farhi finds it necessary to talk about "the modern Presidential toolbox," as if there is nothing all that special about phony "town hall" meetings where attendees are screened for correct levels of sycophancy.

Something else that's new: significant numbers of journalists who are as ready to limit press freedom as the administration. Kevin Drum comments on an astonishing statement by Fred Barnes, writing in The Weekly Standard, that exhorts the President to produce "stronger countermeasures" to deal with Democratic obstructionism, including "a clear delineation of what's permissible and what's out of bounds in dissent on Iraq."

I don't know about you, but I'm getting so tired of keeping track of these atrocities against the first amendment. I mentioned two yesterday from the NYPost; here's Podhoretz-fils for whom the Iraqi elections the day before meant one thing and one thing only:
WHEN you heard about the stunning success of the Iraqi elections, were you thrilled? Did you see it as a triumph for democracy and for the armed forces of the United States that have sacrificed and suffered and fought so valiantly over the past 18 months to get Iraq to this moment?

Or did you momentarily feel an onrush of disappointment because you knew, you just knew, that this was going to redound to the credit of George W. Bush? This means you, Michael Moore. I'm talking to you, Teddy Kennedy.

And not just to the two of you, but to all those who follow in your train.

There are literally millions of Americans who are unhappy today because millions of Iraqis went to the polls yesterday. And why? Because this isn't just a success for Bush. It's a huge win. It's a colossal vindication.

It's a big fat gigantic winning vindication of the guy that the Moores and Kennedys and millions of others still can't believe anybody voted for.

And they know it.

And it's killing them.

Were Mr. Podhoretz's first thoughts about the Iraqi election that it was a thrilling vindication of the Iraqi people, or even that it was a thrilling vindication of democracy? Not from the evidence displayed in this column. Even while he accuses his political opponents of bad faith of a particularly ugly sort, with that total lack of embarrassment so typical of right-wing pundits, he displays exactly the attitude he's criticising. What matters most for the Pod? That Bush has won a colossal vindication, and better yet, it's killing the people whom the Pod hates. All that stuff about the American military and their sacrifices is for the purpose of suggesting that anyone who disagrees with his point of view is un-American. And that includes John Kerry whose interview on Sunday's Meet The Press, Podhoretz promptly mangles until it's unrecognizable. One tiny sample: After accusing Kerry of under-hyping the election by answering Russert's question about legitimacy by saying the election had "a kind of legitimacy," to which Podhoretz adds an "only," he then tries to make fun of Kerry's claim that he was for the elections going on as scheduled:
At the worst possible time to express pessimistic skepticism, Kerry did just that. The election only had a "kind of legitimacy," he said. He said he "was for the election taking place" (how big of him!), but then said that "it's gone as expected.

"Hey, wait a second. If it went as Kerry "expected," how could he have been "for the election taking place" — since the election only had, in his view, a "kind of legitimacy"?

I mean, who would want an election with only a "kind of legitimacy"?

Is Kerry perhaps saying he was for the election before he was against it?

If the only election possible, one being demanded by Ali-Sistanni, the most influential Shite in Iraq, is an election with a kind of legitimacy, one might well be for it. Now then, that wasn't hard, was it? Check out what Kerry actually says, and tell me if you think any fair-minded person would conclude that Kerry was either unclear or evasive in his answers.

Deborah Orin takes a slightly different tack in her column, published yesterday in the Post. She starts with much praise for the Iraqi people and their bravery; unlike everyone else in the entire world, Deborah and President Bush weren't surprised by anything.

Iraqis, after all, lived through decades when Saddam Hussein fed people to Doberman Pinschers and plastic shredders and murdered hundreds of thousands who were buried in mass graves.
The contempt contained in that description for the actual history of the Iraqi people under Saddam could not be any starker. The freshest of those mass graves contain the bodies of Shia who rose up at the urgent invitation of George Bush's father, only to find themselves left to their fate, insurrectionary rifles versus Saddam's helicopter gunships, which we allowed him to use, then looked the other way, though we had an army in the neighboring desert, and at least one Senator, one Albert Gore, went to the floor of the Senate to insist that we should not stand by and watch this massacre.

Here's the real subject of the column - an attack on that ever-lovin' liberal media, and on Democrats.

The fact that Iraq's election triumph came as a surprise to so many Americans shows how badly they have been served by most press and TV coverage, which told mostly of deaths and trouble and ignored the first glimmerings of new hope.


After Iraqis showed their yearning for freedom, do Democrats really want Dean as their new national chairman? Are they proud of lionizing "Fahrenheit 9/11" film-maker Michael Moore for painting Iraq's terror thugs as heroes and "Minutemen"?

All the Iraqis dancing with their flags yesterday were a reason for Americans to be proud of the war that toppled Saddam Hussein and opened the door to freedom — suddenly Bush's second inaugural speech just 10 days before sounded prophetic. "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors," Bush said then. "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."
In this rightwing version of America, the Iraqis and Iraq are props, the real drama is the vanquishing of all Americans who have a different vision of their country.

If the insides of your teeth are beginning to hurt about now, here's Charles Pierce's inspired answer to all this Bush triumphalism from yesterdays Altercation: it's so good I'm just going to go ahead and quote the whole damn thing, after thanking Eric, whose essential generosity has made his MSNBC blog one of the few media addresses where all-American voices like Pierce's are allowed to ring:
You do not own their courage.

The people who stood in line Sunday did not stand in line to make Americans feel good about themselves.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify lies about Saddam and al-Qaeda, so you don't own their courage, Stephen Hayes. They did not stand in line to justify lies about weapons of mass destruction, or to justify the artful dodginess of Ahmad Chalabi, so you don't own their courage, Judith Miller. They did not stand in line to provide pretty pictures for vapid suits to fawn over, so you don't own their courage, Howard Fineman, and neither do you, Chris Matthews.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line in order to justify the dereliction of a kept press. They did not stand in line to make right the wrongs born out of laziness, cowardice, and the easy acceptance of casual lying. They did not stand in line for anyone's grand designs. They did not stand in line to play pawns in anyone's great game, so you don't own their courage, you guys in the PNAC gallery.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to provide American dilettantes with easy rhetorical weapons, so you don't own their courage, Glenn Reynolds, with your cornpone McCarran act out of the bowels of a great university that deserves a helluva lot better than your sorry hide. They did not stand in line to be the instruments of tawdry vilification and triumphal hooting from bloghound commandos. They did not stand in line to become useful cudgels for cheap American political thuggery, so you don't own their courage, Freeper Nation.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify a thousand mistakes that have led to more than a thousand American bodies. They did not stand in line for the purpose of being a national hypnotic for a nation not even their own. They did not stand in line for being the last casus belli standing. They did not stand in line on behalf of people's book deals, TV spots, honorarium checks, or tinpot celebrity. They did not stand in line to be anyone's talking points.

You do not own their courage.

We all should remember that.

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