Send As SMS

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Oliver Willis mentions podcasts.

He could be right. While I hate to sully my rapidly approaching golden years with anything as hip as an iPod, there's an attraction to shaking the dust from my shoes and moving on from the LWRM. Many reporters are honorable, but the institutions themselves? Massive suckitude. Gut them.

What say we get some talk radio of our own going?

That Harvard conference on "Blogging, Journalism, & Credibility" 

"I'm rubber you're glue ..." 

" ... whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you."

Well, here's the sad outcome of the "blogger ethics" controversy fomented by the Republican Noise Machine, using Harvard's blogging [cough] conference as a front—you remember, the one that didn't invite any democratic bloggers (back)— apparently as a distraction from the Armstrong Williams payola story, and maybe yet another Rove-ian black-ops style move to mark Howard Dean up on his way to election as DNC chair. Big yawn.

You can read the sordid details at Kos. Poor old Bob Novak. When will he leave the life?

The saddest part of the story is this:

The Wall Street Journal has long been known for having a true Chinese wall between its Neanderthal editorial page—you remember, the one that hawked anti-Clinton conspiracy theory videos—and its news operation. Which made sense: The WSJ is the newspaper business reads to do business, and it's hard to run a business (at least, the operational side) if you're not at least partially reality-based. So the news side of the operation has long remained relatively sacrosanct.

So, how crazy are the wingers? To smear a couple of bloggers, they broke down the Wall Street Journal's Chinese wall. First, a real-life, actual, hardworking reporter called Kos to see if there was a story. The reporter concluded there wasn't. But the winger powers that be at the Journal decided they didn't like that, so they sent a couple of hacks write the smear that they wanted. Chuck at Kos has these ugly details, which are all sourced to the original Journal reporter.

Well. So much for editorial integrity at the Wall Street Journal. The pillars of American journalism—The Times, The Post, and the Wall Street Journal—have been standing a long time. All have been family-owned business, have not been gobbled up by multinationals, and have stood for at least some level of reality-based integrity in their news operations. The Post (despite Steno Sue and its complicity with the winger coup against Clinton) seems still to stand, though shakily. The Times has been crumbling for a long time, and now they're hopeless. Now the WSJ is beginning to totter as well. It's a shame. Tell me again why we have the First Amendment?

UPDATE A world class takedown from Steve Gilliard.

Crosses banned along coronation parade route 


How about garlic? Silver bullets? Wooden stakes?

These Truths Are Self-Evident (I Wish) 

Y’know, some years ago there was this beautiful cat who put his ass on the line and confronted opposition and paid the ultimate price. Uhh, he was born today. Yeah, okay, it’s old… you’ve read it before…but it’s the blueprint for success. So this stitched-together blockquote is just a reminder:

…Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds…

…In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action….

…We decided to schedule our direct-action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic withdrawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change…

…You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.

Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

Happy Birthday, Brother Martin, wherever you are. As a friend said, “your birthday has my vote to be most likely to be a world holiday.” Friends, do something special today, tomorrow, Monday, and every day to further the cause of peace, justice and equality, me hearties…arrrrghhhhhh!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Glorious appearing! 

Farmer has just discovered that "performers" at the Bush coronation inaugural have been ordered "not to look directly at President Bush" during the Torchlight Parade while passing the reviewing stand.

At first, I didn't see why things had to be that way, but after giving the matter prayerful consideration, I was vouchsafed the answer:

Bush's Godly radiance is such that those who look directly at Him are struck blind.

So, really, they're just trying to protect us.

But it still doesn't seem right. This is a democracy, after all, so it hardly seems fair that citizens can't look at their Leader.

Then it was revealed to me that the very same technology that we have been given to view the sun during solar eclipses without going blind could be used to view The Son safely, too.

For example, a pinhole projector.

Here are the directions for making and using your very own "Solar Viewing Box," or, as we call it, your "Bush Viewing Box"™:

So, even if you can't look at Bush directly without going blind, you can still use your "Bush Viewing Box"™ to look at His projected image in complete safety! Even while you are marching before the reviewing stand!

Just be sure to explain to the security folks that you're bringing a large cardboard box to the inaugural, and how important it is to you. I'm sure they will be happy to give you every assistance. And when you put the box over your head, don't make any sudden moves.

Goodnight, moon 

Man, I thought that hip South Park reference would get a rise out of somebody, but n-o-o-o-o ....

Attention loyal subjects of 'W'dom 

No peeking at the emperor during the circus. Please refrain from gazing directly upon The Leader or extending snappy roman salutes:

Via The Sideshow
Parade performers will have security escorts to the bathroom, and they've been ordered not to look directly at President Bush or make any sudden movements while passing the reviewing stand.

Yeeks, I wonder happens to you if you do...


If you have to ask... 

... you don't know!

And the talent agent, he just sits there for the longest time, and finally he says, "...Jesus, that's a hell of an act. What do you call it?" And the father says, "the Republicans!"

We Got Our Own Poetry Here At Corrente 

The venerable and inimical MJS, who had left a wonderful verse/lyric on "a fundie-bride/corporation-groom/wedding tomb" type of theme in the comments week before this last one, spent a weekend, at my request, seeing if more verses found their way into his head and out to his fingers.

Though they did not, he found himself inspired in a parallel direction and offered Corrente, lucky us, the first publication rights. Herewith:

Rock a bye baby
Your mother in hell
Your father is furtive
There’s blood in the well
The eagles are screaming
The West is on fire
The last of the good guys
Was shot by the choir

(choir’s chorus)
O’ Lord
Come fill our cup
O’ Lord
Let’s shoot ‘em up!
O’ Lord
The price is so steep
O’ Lord
Read ‘em and weep

Zip a dee doo dah
Careless and carefree
A soldier arrives
And cuts down our tree
The General’s bleeding
The South in retreat
The slaves smell the sulphur
The devil is sweet

(devil’s chorus)
O’ pride
We all shall rise
O’ pride
The ties that bind
O’ pride
The serpent’s eyes
O’ pride
Ever alive

Jesus is coming
He has a cell phone
Called him in Denver
Found Him all alone
Got Him a white girl
To heal all His pain
He threw her in prison
And drove her insane

(Priest’s chorus)
O’ Sophie
They buried you
O’ Sophie
The Christian and Jew
O’ Sophie
Let’s hide your face
O’ Sophie
You must learn your place

Whither a nation
That thinks it knows best?
Whither a people
Who ignore the rest?
Whither the future
Sold to the past?
How did the walls
Crumble so fast?

(People’s chorus)
O’ shit
Where is the fan?
O’ shit
Where can we stand?
O’ shit
We are so fucked
O’ shit
Shit out of luck

Rock a bye baby
Your mother in hell
Your father is furtive
There’s blood in the well
The eagles are screaming
The West is on fire
The last of the good guys
Was shot by the choir

(choir’s chorus)
O’ Lord
Come fill our cup
O’ Lord
Let’s shoot ‘em up!
O’ Lord
The price is so steep
O’ Lord
Read ‘em and weep


I notice that MJS penchent for leaving little gems in the Comments has struck again; this time the target is Senator Joe, the guy with Joementum. I can't resist moving it from thence to here.

Last night I dreamed I saw Joe Lieberman
Alive as you or me
His head was made of the rubber
His tail was stuck in a tree

He shook his head and made a scowl
And muttered long and low
A gasbag-putz, a droning stooge
An empty suit, our Joe


Thanks MJS.

Four Farewells And A Happy Birthday 

First, an explanation; gentle and even alert readers may not have noticed, given the splendid efforts of the other 6/7ths of Corrente, but I've been largely absent from regular posting for some weeks now, although I have managed a shadowy presence in the comments. This was due entirely to illness, nothing more, which has now finally begun to recede, in favor of healing and eventually, I hope, my usual robust health.

I was able to continue to pay attention to the world around me and even to make notes; I hope to catch up, but if some of my posts review some familiar territory, I can only hope for your patience.

First, the farewells. Much has been written about Susan Sontag, when she was alive, and in response to her too early death. Yes, she had reached her seventies, but it is hard to imagine a more vibrant public intellect than hers. I knew her only as a reader, in spite of several opportunities to meet her through academic friends. I declined because I couldn't imagine a more intimate relationship than that between admired writer and admiring reader. I was in high school when I read her essay, Notes On Camp" in the Partisan Review, one of many newspapers and magazines that arrived regularly in my home; yes, I was remarkably lucky in the parenting department. I'd never heard the word "camp" used the way Sontag was using it, in fact, I wasn't sure whether her "camp" was a noun or an adjective, (it was both I finally figured out), however the aesthetic and its many paradoxes she was describing I recognized with that special shock reserved for unrevealed revelations at last revealed.

Eric Alterman had a lovely personal remembrance I can't link to because I simply can't figure out how to find those permanent Altercation links I know are there, and which Goggle refuses to offer up. (Any readers who can tell me what I'm doing wrong, please do so in comments) Eric emphasized Sontag's bravery, and he made me understand that beyond her stardom, she was not always an intimidating presence, and that it was her habit to draw out the quietest person in the room in the service of her relentless curiosity; could this quiet person have knowledge Sontag ought to know about.

As touching was this from Tom Englehardt:
On the first day of the New Year, while headlines blazed with news of 140,000 or more deaths around the coastal rim of South Asia, I found myself with a small but solitary task. I removed Susan Sontag's name from the list of those who receive Tomdispatch. She had been an early reader, well before this service gained its own name or a modest Web presence. And when it did, at the beginning of 2003, she allowed me to post a sobering(yet stirring) speech of hers on Israel's "refusniks," on what it means to resist service to your own country, a speech that seems increasingly relevant today; and later, another on the Bush administration's embattled cross-Atlantic relationship with Europe.
Tom includes links to both speeches. Read the Rebecca Solnit article, "Sontag and Tsunami" that Tom's piece introduces.

Listening to NPR I heard that the people of Sarejavo will be naming a street after Sontag, who, in case you don't know, went there in the mid- nineties, when the city was under constant bombardment from Serb artillary, to direct a play, and thereby to stand with the Muslim people of that city by opposing the power of raw force without conscience with the power of art. Whatever one's disagreements with Susan Sontag, and it wasn't possible not to have them with so vivid and authoratative an intellect, God, she was a brave woman. The Guardian also has a lot of good stuff on Sontag; start here and click away.

Robert Matsui gave the lie to all that Republican public disdain for public service. He was what every member of the House of Representatives ought to be, a tribune of the people, by the people, and for the people. I hope many of you were able to see on C-Span the Memorial for him that took place in the Capital. All the speakers were wonderful, especially Nancy Peloisi, whose deep love and sorrow often threatened to overtake her words. President Clinton spoke last, and once again I found myself awed by his deep humanity. His own recent illness has clearly taken its toil; he looks gaunt, and some spark of vitality hasn't yet returned; still, it was an amazing performance, and I do not mean that perjoratively; Mr. Clinton was not pretending anything; he was gathering his energy, his thoughts, his emotions and his words to pay tribute to a friend who was an exemplary citizen, taken from us entirely too soon; only in that sense was it a performance. The ex-president spoke without notes, and before he got to what he wanted to say, he graciously summarized and remarked upon what had been said by those who came before him to that lecturn. His own thoughts were about commonality vs. division, a common theme for Clinton, but one that was completely appropriate for Bob Matsui, a supporter of Nafta, as Clinton pointed out, and yet a man whom the head of the AFL-CIO had also come to mourn.

I did meet Mr. Matsui; I had gone to Washington, with others, to protest the Reagan and then the Bush administration's refusal to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for his massive mis-treatment of the Iraqi people, and in particular his genocidal actions against the Kurds. Irony of ironies. Representative Matsui not only listened intently, he talked with us about what he could and would do, all of which he did. In the runup to the first Gulf War, Robert Matsui put in a call to each of us who had come to talk with him in his office that day, to ask us about our views on Bush's push toward war, about which we had various attitudes. How terrible that we take such superlative citizens who spend their working lives in public service so much for granted; our democratic republic would not be possible without the likes of Bob Matsui. He made me proud to call myself a Democrat.

Robert Heilbroner was both an academic and a public intellectual. He wrote with clarity and grace about economics, and about the history of economics. No one wrote better prose about that subject, although both Galbraiths, pere and fils, were his equals, and Max Sawicky is no slouch and shares Heibroner's deep wit. Everyone should have a copy on their bookshelf of Heilbroner's great work, "Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers." You can find an excellent more formal obit here.

James Forman died this week. We hear so much talk recently about the "compelling" stories black and hispanic conservatives bring to the offices they are appointed to, as if people like John Lewis, John Conyers, and yes, James Forman somehow had it easy, riding that liberal gravy train to fame and fortune.

From the Washington Post, see if this is a compelling enough life story to stand up to the likes of Armstrong Williams and Clarence Thomas, who never ran for office and never oganized anything beyond their own personal ambitions:
James Forman was born in Chicago on Oct. 4, 1928, and spent his early years living with his grandmother on a farm in Marshall County, Miss. When he was 6, his parents took him back to Chicago, although he often spent summers in Mississippi. Until he was a teenager, he used the surname of his stepfather, John Rufus, a gas station manager, unaware that his real father was a Chicago cabdriver named Jackson Forman.

He graduated with honors from Chicago's Englewood High School in 1947 and served with the Air Force in Okinawa during the Korean War. After his discharge in 1952, he enrolled at the University of Southern California.

Early in his second semester, in 1953, he was falsely arrested, beaten and held for three days by Los Angeles police. The experience prompted a breakdown that briefly put him in a psychiatric hospital. Afterward, he returned to Chicago and enrolled at Roosevelt University.

He graduated in three years, planning to be a writer or journalist. While doing graduate work at Boston University, he wrangled press credentials from the Chicago Defender and took the train to Little Rock, where, in the fall of 1957, court-ordered school integration was being resisted. From there, he filed a few stories and looked for opportunities to organize mass protests in the South.

After working briefly as a substitute elementary school teacher in Chicago, he found that opportunity in Fayette County, Tenn., a few miles from his childhood home. Seven hundred families of sharecroppers had been evicted from their homes for registering to vote. Joining a program sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality, he helped publicize the farmers' plight, distributed food and registered voters.

In the summer of 1961, he was jailed with SNCC-organized Freedom Riders who were protesting segregated facilities in Monroe, N.C. After his sentence was suspended, he went to work full time for SNCC.

One of Mr. Forman's early challenges was to referee an internal dispute between SNCC activists who believed in direct action -- sit-ins, demonstrations and other forms of confrontation -- and those who believed voter registration was the most effective path to political empowerment. Mr. Forman maintained there really was no distinction.

"The brutal Southern sheriffs," he wrote a few years later, "didn't care what kind of 'outside agitator' you were; you were black and making trouble and that was enough for them."

He also wrestled, as did most SNCC members, with the meaning and utility of nonviolence. Unlike his friend and SNCC cohort John Lewis, who considered nonviolence a way of life, Mr. Forman considered it a tactic, nothing more. There were times, he believed, when self-defense -- fighting back -- was absolutely necessary.

Mr. Forman also was often at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1961, for example, Mr. Forman objected to King's involvement in the Albany Movement, a boycott, sit-in and voter registration drive SNCC initiated in Georgia.

"A strong people's movement was in progress, the people were feeling their own strength grow," he wrote some years later. "I knew how much harm could be done by interjecting the Messiah complex -- people would feel that only a particular individual could save them and would not move on their own to fight racism and exploitation."

King came to Albany, spoke and left. SNCC's work in the area continued for the next couple of years.

In the summer of 1964, Mr. Forman's SNCC brought almost a thousand young volunteers, black and white, to register voters, set up "freedom schools," establish community centers and build the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Among those volunteers were Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, the three young men murdered along a muddy road near Philadelphia, Miss., in June 1964. (According to Julian Bond, Mr. Forman was probably not aware in the last days of his life that Edgar Ray Killen, a preacher and sawmill operator, had been recently charged with the murders.)

Later that summer, Mr. Forman journeyed to Atlantic City, where he worked to persuade Democratic Party officials to recognize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention. Despite his efforts and despite the powerful testimony of Fannie Lou Hamer, who told of being fired by her boss and beaten unconscious by the police for her work in support of MFDP, the upstart party failed to supplant the state's party regulars.

"Atlantic City was a powerful lesson, not only for the black people from Mississippi but for all of SNCC and many other people as well," Mr. Forman wrote. "No longer was there any hope, among those who still had it, that the federal government would change the situation in the Deep South."

Despite Mr. Forman's growing militancy, SNCC dumped him and Lewis in 1966, replacing them with Carmichael and Ruby Doris Smith Robinson.

Mr. Forman, who always had been interested in African liberation movements, went to Africa in 1967. In 1969, he helped organize the Black Economic Development Conference in Detroit, where a "Black Manifesto" was adopted. He also founded a nonprofit organization called the Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee.

On a Sunday morning in May 1969, Mr. Forman interrupted services at New York City's Riverside Church to demand $500 million in reparations from white churches to make up for injustices African Americans had suffered over the centuries. Although Riverside's preaching minister, the Rev. Ernest T. Campbell, termed the demands "exorbitant and fanciful," he was in sympathy with the impulse, if not the tactic. Later, the church agreed to donate a fixed percentage of its annual income to anti-poverty efforts.

In the 1970s, Mr. Forman was in graduate school at Cornell University and received a master's degree in African and African American studies in 1980. In 1982, he received a PhD from the Union of Experimental Colleges and Universities.

A writer and pamphleteer, Mr. Forman moved to Washington in 1981 and started a newspaper called the Washington Times, which lasted a short while. He also founded the Black American News Service. He was the author of "Sammy Younge Jr.: The First Black College Student to Die in the Black Liberation Movement" (1969), "The Making of Black Revolutionaries" (1972 and 1997) and "Self Determination: An Examination of the Question and Its Application to the African American People" (1984).


In July, despite being weak from his long struggle with cancer, Mr. Forman took a train from Washington to Boston during the Democratic National Convention. He took part in a "Boston Tea Party," in which members of the D.C. delegation tossed bags of tea into Boston Harbor to protest lack of statehood and no vote in Congress.

"It was said that on his deathbed, Frederick Douglass's last words were, 'Organize! Organize!' That's what Forman did every day of his life," Bond said. "That's what today's civil rights movement has forgotten how to do."
Notice, no cushy internships or associateships at phony think tanks, no stipends, no entrys into journalism by way of rightwing publications, just a long, hard, slog, trying to make this country into the America most Americans imagined, wrongly, it to be. And how do we thank this American hero? Well, too many of us don't. For me, I will honor James Forman by acting upon the message of his life, the message of all those great American lives which informed the sixties in this country, not only James Forman, but James Farmer, and Fannie Lou Hammer, and James Cheney, and Thurgood Marshall, and all the American people they stirred to conscience and action, which included me - "Organize! Organize!"

And now to the birthday. Eric Alterman is forty-five today, so visit Altercation and find out about the noble manner in which he would like those of us who are part of the Altercation community to celebrate in his honor; find out as well about Eric's own successful organizational effort to get The Economist to unslander Susan Sontag. Then let Eric know that you honored the good birthday cause he directs us to by leaving a message in the convenient box right at the end of the current post. It's Slacker Friday so there's also a terrific Charles Pierce letter. I've just finished reading "When President's Lie," and it's first-rate history, the best written of all Eric's book, and you should have it on your bookshelf. So, a well-earned Happy Birthday, Eric.


The Bush Administration is a lot like my large intestine - I don't really know how either works, both are sort of gross to think about, and both are very hard to get a good look at. But the most important similiarity is this: most of what they produce is shit.
(via the inestimable Poorman)

That just about says it all, huh?

The rest of the post is good too.

Go read it.

...Or Maybe a Roach Motel--with Shuttle Service 

Remember the "flypaper" theory? Looks like the warbloggers picked the wrong metaphor. Try "petri dish".

Since the Big Lie technique works, Republicans will continue to use it 

No surprise here:

The campaign [to phase out Social Security] will use Bush's campaign-honed techniques of mass repetition, never deviating from the script and using the politics of fear to build support -- contending that a Social Security financial crisis is imminent when even Republican figures show it is decades away.
(via WaPo)


LRWM in the tank on Social Security 

They'e taking Bush's word as, um, Gospel. The Amazin' Froomkin points out:

It would appear that no reporter asked Bush why his representation of Social Security's long-term financial situation is at odds with the experts. The program's trustees estimate that with no changes, the plan would no longer be able to pay full benefits beginning in 2042 but would still provide significant payments.

And in their reports today, I didn't see reporters clearing this up for their readers, either -- they just quoted the president and left it at that.
(via WaPo)

The Howler is keeping a list, reporter by reporter, of the tank-dwellers....

"Why did you do that for?" 

More disturbing symptoms, via AP:

In the week after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush was asked if he wanted bin Laden, the terrorist leader blamed for the attacks, dead.

"I want justice," Bush said. "And there's an old poster out West, that I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'"

Recalling that remark, Bush told the reporters: "I can remember getting back to the White House, and Laura said, 'Why did you do that for?' I said, 'Well, it was just an expression that came out. I didn't rehearse it'."

"I don't know if you'd call it a regret, but it certainly is a lesson that a president must be mindful of, that the words that you sometimes say. ... I speak plainly sometimes, but you've got to be mindful of the consequences of the words. So put that down. I don't know if you'd call that a confession, a regret, something."

Dear me. Doesn’t even know what a regret or a confession IS. But "put that down" in your notebook anyway, so maybe people will think I have the ability to feel it.

The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy 

I was doing a little light reading in Wikipedia and came across this:

The Texas sharpshooter fallacy is a logical fallacy where a cluster of statistically non-significant data is taken from its context, and therefore thought to have a common cause.

The name comes from a story about a Texan who fires his gun randomly at the side of a barn, then paints a target centered on the largest cluster of hits.
(via WikiPedia)

Hmm... Texas... This is reminding me of something... But what?

Goodnight, moon 

"Reality therapy for Republicans."


Thursday, January 13, 2005

More Disturbing Symptoms 

This is what the Idiot-In-Chief said in an interview yesterday when asked about the new puppy:
Barney has been - Barney, it's an interesting adjustment. The person who brought the dog Beazley over said that it's going to be very soon the female Scottie will dominate the male Scottie. I didn't realize that was going to be the case. Barney hasn't realized it either. [Laughter.] So the little one so far has - we've seen some tendency as to domination. Barney actually is quite cute, monitoring the little person and making sure that she doesn't go wandering off. And he doesn't know what he's in store for, according to the handler. It's going to be a great joy. You learn to accept the simple pleasures of life here as the president. And very few things can break into the cocoon that have lasting permanence and lasting effect, and Beazley is going to be one of them.

I’m speechless, frankly. Fear of domination by females. Referring to the female puppy as “the little person.” Learning to “accept” “simple pleasures here as the president” as opposed to having them shoved down yer throat. Bubble boy. “Very few things can break into the cocoon.”

Ye gods. What other disturbing symptoms did I miss here?

Interesting Coincidences 

For a few months now, in between the "regular" Mal-Wart ads with the yellow smiley ball flying around knocking several cents off the price of foreign-made goods you didn't really need in the first place, have been heartwarming tales of hideously sick people, usually children, healed and made happy again because their parents worked at the said Mal-Wart, where everyone is not only insured but so well paid they can afford the premiums and co-pays on said insurance.

That, it seems, was just a warmup. Oh, and note the reward they get for running full-page ads about their own wonderfulness in most of the nation's major papers today: an extra heapin' helpin' of Free Media!

Chicago Trib
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, and its chief executive, Lee Scott, went on the offensive Thursday against critics of its employment policies and the impact its stores have on communities where they are located.

The company took out more than 100 full-page newspaper ads Thursday, outlining the wages and benefits it pays its employees and the good the Bentonville-based company says it brings to communities.

Scott said he wants Wal-Mart overcome its reputation as a company that does not pay well and has minimal full-time workers.

"We want to get those myths off the table, set the record straight," Scott said in a phone interview from New York City where he was making a round of media interviews Thursday.
[major snip]
Scott said he planned meetings with a variety of groups not associated with government to help explain Wal-Mart's employment practices, environment-related policies and how it deals with its suppliers. He would not name the organizations, saying did not want the groups to feel they were being used to garner media attention.
Gee, you start to think. Maybe I have misjudged these wonderful people just because they wreck entire towns, entire industries, and donate heavily to Republicans...

Nope. You didn't misjudge at all. Let's see what might have prompted this schlock-and-drawl campaign....

(via Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch)

It took nearly five years of legal wrangling, but 15 workers in the auto services department at the Wal-Mart supercenter store in New Castle are getting an opportunity to vote on joining a union.

The National Labor Relations Board, in a case that has been pending since 2000, has scheduled an election for Feb. 11 to let employees of the store's Tire & Lube Express department decide whether to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

It is the only pending union-representation election at any Wal-Mart in the United States, according to the UFCW, which for years has unsuccessfully sought to represent Wal-Mart employees in stores across the country.

The New Castle election originally was scheduled for the summer of 2000 after the labor board ruled that the tire department workers were an appropriate voting unit.

Wal-Mart had argued that the vote should include the store's total work force of more than 400.

But the 2000 election was halted when the UFCW's Cleveland-based Local 880 filed unfair labor practice charges against Wal-Mart, alleging the giant retailer interfered with the election. The union alleged Wal-Mart executives from Arkansas descended on the store immediately after the election was scheduled and improved conditions for the auto service department workers.

The company installed new equipment and, the UFCW argued, engaged in surveillance of employees' union activities, interrogated them about their union sympathies and moved various employees in and out of the department to dilute support of the union. The allegations were settled by the board in an unpublished ruling late last year, paving the way for the next month's election.

Wal-Mart, which as part of the settlement was ordered to cease the offending practices and inform employees by posting notices in the store, declined to comment yesterday.
Oh, they commented all right. If you're in the New Castle area stop by and buy something automotive-related, and be sure to tell everybody that you're there because they're going union.

Or if you are of a more cynical bent, get wagers down now as to how long it will take for the lovely, caring Mal-Wart folks to shut down the automotive department of every store in the chain if this organizing effort is successful. It's what they did when the meatcutters in one store organized, and the reason you can only buy crappy pre-packaged meat there anymore.

It's my American Street, too 

I meant to post this much earlier but Slogger was limping around with a flat tire again and wouldn't process my requests. So, better late than never: congrats to Riggsveda at It's My Country, Too; who will be joining the blogger/author honor roll at The American Street:
Finally, and most seriously, a big thank you to Kevin Hayden over at The American Street for finding something he liked in my ravings and giving them a home at his site.

Sounds like a good finding to me, too.


What does Whiney Joe know that the rest of us don't? 

And why does he go on FUX to say so? (Thanks to Tinfoil Hat Boy)

"The fact that we didn't discover large stocks of weapons of mass destruction doesn't mean that Saddam Hussein didn't have them," the Connecticut Senator told the Fox television network.
(via Turkish Press)

Yeah. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence....

UPDATE RDF comments:

THB, you're assuming that Whiney Joe is, in fact, a Democrat. That utterance you quoted shows plainly that he's not, as it's a typical anti-reality GOP statement... as in, "the fact that we didn't find a rhinoceros in this closet doesn't mean there's not a rhinoceros in this closet. It could be, say, invisible, or perhaps it escapes right before we look. Maybe it's in another closet. And we did find a small animal that looks very much like a rhinoceros in poor light. Anyway, we were completely justified in calling in Rhino-B-Gone..."

More on the Consequences of Reality and Denial 

My unindicted co-conspirators sent me this today and I sure hope that ol’ David W. Orr is a prophet. Not really a prophet, mind you—prescient. Making a true argument, and explaining the structure, nature and stench of the chicken that’s tied around the GOP chicken-killin’ dog’s neck. Because if the GOP can deny there's a stinking chicken on their collective neck, they will. It's part of their illness, remember. As good therapists, we must understand the nature of the thing being denied. Here’s a taste; the whole thing is easily accessible at Common Dreams:

Following the election of 2004, much has been made of the weaknesses of the Democratic Party, even its possible end. But it has escaped the notice of our blow-dry television pundits and political observers alike that the Republican Party, in the full blush of triumph in control of all the branches of government and large sections of the media, stands on the edge of certain extinction. The reasons grow daily more evident. Over the past three decades, the moderate, business-oriented party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower was captured by its extreme right-wing thereby becoming a party dominated by ideologues, increasingly divorced from unmovable facts. But no organization, political party, or nation can long survive by ignoring realities of ecology, social justice, law, economics, and true security. Sooner or later, it will step off the proverbial curb into onrushing traffic of events, forces, and trends that it refused to see.

It’s a comforting thought, but a little too passive. I mean, these same forces—“ecology, social justice, law, economics, and true security”—are not idle forces. They are in the hands of the people who are concerned enough about them to take action. So, it’s not a matter of just idly waiting to be a material witness to the GOP stepping off the curb in front of a freedom bus, it’s a matter of giving them a push… he goes on to note the nature of the realities in question being denied (yet another disturbing symptom!) at the peril of the afflicted:

The Republican Party has chosen to deny social, ecological, cultural, religious, and economic realities which are unavoidably complicated, complex, diverse, ironic, and paradoxical. Instead they have chosen to make their own simplistic, ideological, and chauvinistic fantasy world that has little affinity for law, science, a free and independent press, fairness, true security, ecological sustainability, and the accountability that is requisite for genuine democracy.

It is the job of us living in Free America to put a hatpin in this fantasy bubble. For more, visit The Imminent Demise of the Republican Party and while you’re there you might also check out NH WOMAN LOSES INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR HER POLITICAL ACTIVISM, the story of how being a politically active democrat can cost you your coverage. Imagine how easily a wild-eyed socialist could be denied coverage.

Pundits say that the left's positions are too complex, and the right's are popular because they're simple. But the message IS simple: it's a complex world and a complex world demands complex solutions. Like Johnson, when asked how to refute Bishop Berkeley, kicking the curb and replying "thus!" Reality is a hard object. Another disturbing symptom, aside from denial of reality is the inability to tolerate criticism. So, let’s keep pouring on the reality and the criticism of simpleminded greed. It’s a case of tough love for America.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

I think I'm going to buy a parakeet, just so I can put winger billionaire Anschitz's new tabloid on the bottom of the cage.

NOTE Check out the essential Orcinus on the sore loser/anything to win Republicans in Washington. Same old, same old.

My head is exploding again 

That toothless old whore William "Mumbles" Safire types a column titled "Character is Destiny".

Then again, the scum also rises (Salon. Get the pass, read the bullet points. It's worth it.)

As if the Moonie Times wasn't enough 

Billionaire investor Philip Anschutz plans to introduce a free tabloid in Washington, DC:

A media company owned by billionaire investor Philip Anschutz said Wednesday it will launch a free, six-day-a-week newspaper in the Washington, D.C., area on Feb. 1.
(via AP)

Gee, I wonder whether Anschutz is a Democrat or a Republican?

Anschutz has supported socially conservative causes. In 1987, Anschutz's family foundation gave Focus on the Family founder James Dobson an award for his "contributions to the American Family." According to its Web site, the Denver-based group works to "counter the media-saturating message that homosexuality is inborn and unchangeable" and one of its policy experts called legalized abortion an example of when "Satan temporarily succeeds in destroying God's creation."

In 1992, Anschutz contributed $10,000 to a group called Colorado Family Values, to support an amendment to the state constitution that invalidated state and local laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Anschutz's money helped pay for an ad campaign that said such anti-bias laws gave gays and lesbians "special rights." The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the amendment as discriminatory.

Anschutz is an active Republican donor. Since 1996, he, his companies and members of his family have given more than $500,000 in campaign contributions to GOP candidates and committees.
(via WaPo)


WMD vs. Rathergate 

Jeeebofascists on parade 

I've seen these loons outside Reading Terminal Market and in Chinatown, of all places. One of the "preachers" was a boy about eight years old. Sick, or what? In fact, someone should call Child Protective Services and save that boy before it's too late.

Four members of a local Christian group, Repent America, are facing felony charges in connection with their behavior in the fall during the gay and lesbian community's annual Outfest celebration in Center City.

For allegedly trying to disrupt the event with their bullhorn-amplified, Scripture-based denunciations of homosexuality, they have been accused of criminal conspiracy, incitement to riot, and violating the state's law against hate crimes.

Several conservative Christian groups, including the American Family Association and Concerned Women for America, say the "Philadelphia Four" are being prosecuted solely for voicing their religious beliefs.
(via Inkwire)

Well, maybe the bullshithorn has something to do with it.

"This homofascism has come to our doorstep; it's in America," said Ralph Ovadal, head of Wisconsin Christians United, in a recent radio program. "Christians need to wake up and realize how quickly the walls are closing in on their religious liberties, on their religious duties to preach the gospel."

Wow! "Homofascism"... A WPS (Winger Projection Syndrome) two-fer, eh?

"Jim Crow has been resurrected in Philadelphia, and instead of being targeted at African Americans, he is targeting Christians," Joe Murray, a lawyer with the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy, said during a radio program that reminded listeners that Philadelphia is the home of the Abscam scandal and the MOVE bombing.

"If this city were built on a swamp, I'd say it needs to be drained," Murray said, "because it's a dirty city."

Philadelphia dirty?! Film at 11! I mean, I walk through Suburban Station every morning and every night.

But linking gay pride to Abscam?! That's a low blow!

Oh, wait. Now I get it. Homosexuals are dirty.

Seriously, the key is to deny these clowns the martyrdom they so obviously crave. As long as they lose the bullhorn, I say invite them to Outfest. Give them a booth. Give them the love they so obviously need ....

Not knowing what he said, he said it 

Gee, if there's really something to protect Bush from, shouldn't the Alert Level have been increased by now? Oh, wait, the election is over. My bad.

An army of 6,000-plus police officers, more than 2,500 military personnel, and thousands of Secret Service and other agents from 60 agencies will employ the latest high-tech gear and surveillance to protect the 55th inaugural on Jan. 20.

"Security will be the highest levels it has ever been for any inauguration," [lame duck DHS head Tom] Ridge said. "We will have 24/7 surveillance of key inaugural facilities."

While he said he knew of no specific threats targeting President Bush's second swearing-in, Ridge added that a coronation an inauguration was "the most visible manifestation of our democracy."
(via Philly Inkwire)

Funny, I would have thought the most visible manifestation of our democracy would be a citizen exercising their right to vote. But what do I know?

"The Oppressed Have Power" 

Farmer’s post about an inauguration day sickout and the response to it got me thinking:

The 1929 stock market crash which marked the beginning of the Great Depression ushered in a period of immiseration for virtually the entire working class. By 1932 it was estimated that 75 percent of the population was living in poverty, and fully one-third was unemployed. And in many places, Black unemployment rates were two, three, or even four times those of white workers...

(According to the Census, the official poverty rate in 2003 was 12.5 percent, up from 12.1 percent in 2002. Total Americans below the official poverty thresholds numbered 35.9 million, a figure 1.3 million higher than the 34.6 million in poverty in 2002.)

…But the richest people in society felt no sympathy for the starving masses. They had spent the previous decade slashing wages and breaking unions, with widespread success. By 1929, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) had lost a million members.

With the onset of depression, they banded together as a group to oppose every measure to grant government assistance to feed the hungry or help the homeless. Most employers flatly refused to bargain with any union, and used the economic crisis as an excuse to slash all wages across the board. But in so doing, they unleashed the greatest period of social upheaval that has ever taken place in the United States.

When faced with working-class opposition, the ruling class responded with violence. Police repeatedly fired upon hunger marchers in the early 1930s. In 1932, for example, the Detroit police mowed down a hunger demonstration of several thousand using machine guns. Four demonstrators were killed and more than 60 were injured. Yet afterward a city prosecutor said, "I say I wish they’d killed a few more of those damn rioters."

In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted workers the right to organize into unions in Section 7(a) of the National Recovery Act, and workers rushed to join unions. But everywhere the employers put up violent resistance. In 1934, when 400,000 East Coast textile workers went on strike to win union recognition, the bosses responded with a reign of terror, provoking one of the bitterest and bloodiest strikes in U.S. labor history.

In the South, the ruling class unleashed a torrent of racism and anti-communism, while armed mobs attacked strikers. The Gastonia Daily Gazette ran "Communism in the South. Kill it!" as a front-page headline. Employers distributed anti-union leaflets that read, "Would you belong to a union which opposes White supremacy?"

In Gastonia, North Carolina, National Guardsmen joined by armed strikebreakers, were ordered to "shoot to kill" unarmed strikers: “Without warning came the first shots, followed by many others, and for a few minutes there was bedlam. Striker after striker fell to the ground, with the cries of wounded men sounding over the field and men and women running shrieking from the scene.”

In Burlington, North Carolina, soldiers bayoneted five picketers in a group of 400, all of whom were wearing "peaceful picket" badges. In the North, the battle was no less violent, when National Guard troops occupied mill towns all over New England. Rhode Island’s Democratic governor declared that "there is a communist uprising and not a textile strike in Rhode Island," and called the legislature into special session to declare a state of insurrection and request federal troops.

Although the strikers fought back heroically, they lost the strike. Thousands of strikers lost their jobs; others were forced to sign pledges to leave the union.

From Sharon Smith’s article, “The 1930s: Turning Point for U.S. Labor,” in International Socialist Review Issue 25, September–October 2002

But now, like the frog in the pan, many workers sit by while benefits are slashed, retirement plans abrogated, working days extended (“voluntarily,” of course, like pay cuts)… I guess there’s just not enough widespread misery yet. Perhaps we have to get to 30% unemployment and 75% poverty rates again. Or maybe people will have to work, say, four or five jobs instead of two or three. Or maybe corporate greed will have to get so blatant and widespread that the stench is unbearable. Or maybe the rich will have to start wars to maintain their control of dwindling resources. Oh, wait, on those last three, nevermind. Got that happening. Maybe we can put a stop to it now, before the misery becomes "bad enough"?

Remember, the oppressed have power. As Dr. King said in his autobiography, "We would use this boycott method to give birth to justice and freedom....I came to see that what we were really doing was withdrawing our cooperation from an evil system, rather than merely withdrawing our support from the bus company. The bus company, being an external expression of the system, would naturally suffer, but the basic aim was to refuse to cooperate with evil. We were simply saying to the white community: We can no longer lend our cooperation to an evil system. From that moment on I conceived of our movement as an act of massive non-cooperation."

In what ways am I cooperating with the one-dimensional machine of destruction? In what ways can I stop, and encourage others to do so? Borchert’s list was a start…

First trial ballon to deep-six The Plame Affair 

Following hard on the oh-so-convenient prosecutorial conduct that caused the case against Republican fundraiser and Chinese double-agent Katrina Leung to be thrown out (back), we get this:

Why have so many people rushed to assume that a crime was committed when someone "in the administration" gave columnist Robert D. Novak the name of CIA "operative" Valerie Plame [and blowing her cover]?
(via Victoria Toensing and Bruce W. Sanford in WaPo)

Of course, Bush blew a mole's cover during the campaign (basck) and that darned liberal media didn't turn a hair. As Michael Chertoff wrote another context, "[T]hey chose not to violate the law but to attack the law and its institutions directly."


UPDATE Alert reader Tom Maguire writes:

Your headline is wrong - Sanford, with another co-author, had a nearly identical piece in the WSJ last December.

Mark Kleiman hammered it then (I did too, but you can't be listening to righties, now can you?)

Actually, I listen to the LRWM all the time, eh?

Looting Social Security: Fact checking His narrow ass 

Thank God Froomkin's back:

In addition to making deceptive claims about the system going broke, Bush continued to perpetuate a myth about life expectancy so misleading that the Social Security Administration's own Web site goes to great pains to explain how wrong it is.

Said Bush: "The problem is, is that times have changed since 1935. Then most women did not work outside the house, and the average life expectancy was about 60 years old, which for a guy 58 years old must have been a little discouraging. (LAUGHTER)

"Today, Americans, fortunately, are living longer and longer. I mean, we're living way beyond 60 years old and most women are working outside the house."

In fact, as the Social Security Web site states: "If we look at life expectancy statistics from the 1930s we might naturally come to the conclusion that the Social Security program was designed in such a way that people would work for many years paying in taxes, but would not live long enough to collect benefits. Life expectancy at birth in 1930 was indeed only 58 for men and 62 for women. But life expectancy at birth in the early decades of the 20th century was low due to high infant mortality, and someone who died as a child would never have worked and paid into Social Security. A more appropriate measure is probably life expectancy after attainment of adulthood."

By that standard, average life expectancy has still grown, but not as much as Bush implied.
(via WaPo)

The amazing thing to me—I can't believe I'm still capable of being amazed—is that in seeking to abolish Social Security, the Republicans are well to the right of Otto von Bismarck, who started the first Social Security program in Germany. Yep, Otto von Bismarck, what an extreme liberal...

Jan 20: Coronation Day Declared National Sick Day 

Dr. Victor summarizes the symptoms:
If you are physically and morally nauseated by: rigged/unverifiable elections, corporate-sponsored misinformation and propaganda, torture, imperial war without end, exploitation of fundamentalist religion for political ends, plunder of tax and social security revenues, unrestrained greed and corruption... then you won't be lying to your boss when you call on Jan 20th.


For prognostics and preventative measures see: Shysteeblog immediately!


Do it for the Econ. 101 Fighting Freepi Keyboard Battalion. :-)


OUTRAGE! Kid Rock - the Kool Aide Pimp 

Kid Rock: To be honest I really have no idea who this pop-moron is or what he's all about. I have only a rudimentary familiarity with the brainless caterwaulings of Kid Rock. And I don't have any interest in learning any more about him to be perfectly honest. So please, spare me the effort. Look, I get paid BIG $$$$ to write this kind of shit. I don't care if I know what I'm talking about or not. What the hell do I care. As as long as I deliver the goods and my people is happy... I'm a bid'ness man damnit! Do you here me! A bid'ness man!

But, I must say, if brainless caterwauling is your thing, it seems to me that the best place to feature such noisy outrage would be a Republican inauguration party. Really. What better place to celebrate brainless caterwauling and noisy drivel?

And who better to host such festivities than the next generation Bush geminate brood? I'm sure Laura Ingraham will show up with the blow. Hey, ya know, this ain't gonna be no Melanie concert. These are hard scrabble Texas Republicans with compellin' life stories we is talkin' about here. And you thought Armstrong "Buff Daddy" Williams had the big pimpin' gig. Oh no, that not so. Kid Rock, he da man. He da "pimp of the nation."

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how ya look at it, the fussy scoldpottle gatekeepers of Christian correctitude don't take to such jive nonsense. Well, I'm with em. Hopefully we can overturn that Secret Service inauguration day ban on wooden crosses and I and my new friends from the pro-family faction can swoop down upon the celebrity pervert invite and beat him bloody with the rood of Jesus.

Then me and Bob Knight and Donny Wildmon will scoop the obnoxious little sexualized fucker into the back seat of a Hummer and take him for a ride in the Shenandoah National Park where we'll hand him a carton of cigarettes and twenty dollars and warn him never to return to town lest he knows whats good God-damned good fer him. Then we'll kick him in the nuts and break a couple of his immoral fingers and roll him outta the backseat and into a ditch. Just for the Christian Nation fun of it. What?

Inauguration Youth Event -- Between a Rock and a Red Face?

By Jim Brown and Bill Fancher - January 11, 2005
(AgapePress) - Controversy continues to swirl around an upcoming Bush presidential inauguration event that features a performance by a rapper who refers to himself as the "pimp of the nation." While the White House says the president himself would never endorse the performer's sexualized lyrics, the group heading up the inaugural festivities has pretty much declined comment.

Numerous news organizations have reported that Kid Rock, a controversial rock-and-roller known for his vulgar lyrics and immoral lifestyle, is slated to perform at an inaugural youth concert hosted by First Twins Jenna and Barbara Bush. Pro-family activists have expressed outrage over the rapper's scheduled performance.

Bob Knight - Donald Wildmon:

Both Wildmon and Knight believe Kid Rock needs to be removed from the inaugural program as soon as possible. But can that happen? Knight thinks so.

"I think if they hear enough outrage from the people who elected President Bush, that this is a slap in the to their values, that they'll have to reconsider," Knight says. "He ought to be dis-invited."

WorldNetDaily quotes California pro-family leader Randy Thomasson who says if Kid Rock is allowed to perform at this inauguration event, it will send a clear message to pro-family Americans that the GOP has "taken them for a ride and ditched them in the gutter."

The PIC will neither confirm nor deny whether Kid Rock has been invited. At least one pro-family leader who has attempted to contact the PIC several times in recent days says he does not buy that statement.

"What kind of answer is that?" asks American Family Association chairman Don Wildmon. "All you have to say is yes, he's is going to be here; no, he's not going to be here. But they refuse to do that -- which leads me to think that they have the man signed up [and] ready to come, but they're afraid of the backlash and they're waiting to see what's going to happen."


Conservatives have also taken offense to the revelation that actor Kelsey Grammer will emcee a kickoff inaugural gala honoring the military. Grammer has been arrested for multiple DUI and cocaine possession offenses.

Cocaine and DUI! The OUTRAGE! The sheer nerve of anyone inviting someone with a history of DUI arrests and cocaine possession offenses to a Bush inauguration is - is - is - well, simply an OUTRAGE! I'll have none of it. Hopefully my friends Don Wildmon and Bob Knight will bring an extra twenty dollars and another carton of cigarettes along for the ride.


Cakewalking on Graves ~ Death Squad 'W' and the Shining City on the Hill 

This is the glorious city that dwelt in security: that said in her heart: I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desert, a place for beasts to lie down in? every one that passeth by her, shall hiss, and wag his hand.- Sophonias 2:15 (Douay)

The results of Salvadoran military training are graphically described in the Jesuit journal America by Daniel Santiago, a Catholic priest working in El Salvador. He tells of a peasant woman who returned home one day to find her three children, her mother and her sister sitting around a table, each with its own decapitated head placed carefully on the table in front of the body, the hands arranged on top "as if each body was stroking its own head."

The assassins, from the Salvadoran National Guard, had found it hard to keep the head of an 18-month-old baby in place, so they nailed the hands onto it. A large plastic bowl filled with blood was tastefully displayed in the center of the table.

What Uncle Sam Really Wants
, by Noam Chomsky, 1992.

The 'Salvador Option', Robert Parry writes::
The strategy is named after the Reagan-Bush administration’s "still-secret strategy" of supporting El Salvador’s right-wing security forces, which operated clandestine "death squads" to eliminate both leftist guerrillas and their civilian sympathizers, Newsweek reported. "Many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success – despite the deaths of innocent civilians," Newsweek wrote.


The insurgencies in El Salvador and Guatemala were crushed through the slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians. In Guatemala, about 200,000 people perished, including what a truth commission later termed a genocide against Mayan Indians in the Guatemalan highlands. In El Salvador, about 70,000 died including massacres of whole villages, such as the slaughter carried out by a U.S.-trained battalion against hundreds of men, women and children in and around the town of El Mozote in 1981.

Perception Management - The PR Machine:
The Reagan-Bush strategy also had a domestic component, the so-called "perception management" operation that employed sophisticated propaganda to manipulate the fears of the American people while hiding the ugly reality of the wars. The Reagan-Bush administration justified its actions in Central America by portraying the popular uprisings as an attempt by the Soviet Union to establish a beachhead in the Americas to threaten the U.S. southern border.

If anyone thinks that Armstrong "Buff Daddy" Williams is some kind of pioneer in this regard, well, think back. The Bush Borg and its well greased Right Wing fleet of killer satellites have been orbiting the earth for years. The entire scope of the covert funding and elaborate propaganda whirlwind which swirled around the Reagan/Bush Latin America adventure in bloodletting during the 1980's is extremely complex. Much to complex for this short blog post. But some of the key operators in this carnival of death included the "Outreach Working Group on Central America" which farmed the assistance of multiple right wing Christian, neoconservative and New Right organizations; including Pat Robertson's Freedom Council, Falwell's Moral Majority, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Heritage Foundation, the Eagel Forum, the Conservative Caucus, Accuracy in Media, and Richard Viguerie's mass mail marketing brigantine, among others.

Each of these slippery operations was responsible for providing the public with a deafening roar of white noise disinformation and misdirection concerning the Bush/Reagan foreign policy in Latin America. In addition to this complex media fog there was added a twisted array of private funding networks -- which also included some of the groups above -- all obligated to conduct fundraising and funnel money and supplies and intel into the 'dirty war' effort in Latin America. One such group was a far Right neofascist and old line Nazi network called the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), which, in 1981, found itself under the leadership of Gen. John Singlaub's Council for World Freedom. WACL would also figure prominently in the Reagan Administration's efforts and support on behalf of the mujahadeen's war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. So, if you're wondering who ultimately helped train Osama bin Laden & company...., uh, well, whats the word, oh yeah... blowback.

One notable funder of WACL was the Unification Church. Moon's groups were also one of the primary funding and supply organs for the Contra resupply network. Another Moon satellite was the Freedom Fund which was originally founded by donations made available by Bo Hi Pak and Jeane Kirkpatrick. The Freedom Fund's board of directors included such lovelies as Midge Decter and Michael Novak. So, if you ever ask yourself what it is that so many on the Right, including the Bush family, find so warm and fuzzy and regal about the Moon crazies; it's simple - the Moonies know where all the bones are buried and who buried them where and when and how much it costs to make sure the corpses stay as dead as possible. Who's afraid of the demons that live in the shadows - I ask ya?

As I said, there's a lot more to this than I can relate in this blog post at this time so I'll move along.

Triggering "death squad" chaos, Iraq and beyond; Parry continues:
Bush appears to be upping the ante by contemplating cross-border raids into countries neighboring Iraq. He also would be potentially expanding the war by having Iraqi Kurds and Shiites kill Sunnis, a prescription for civil war or genocide.

Continue reading Bush's Death Squad's, by Robert Parry, Jan. 11, 2005 ~ via Consortium News.

Also see:
History of Guatemala's 'Death Squads', by Robert Parry - Jan. 11, 2005.

For more on the Bush monarchy adventures in world conquest and 'dirty war' diplomacy you can also read Parry's book Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq

Also noted: Billmon is back, at least temporarily, and has posted a selection of article snips and links to various items relating to events that took place in El Salvador during the 1980s.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

WaPo buries the lede on Chertoff 

All the way at the end, in the final paragraph, we get this little gem:

Since leaving the Justice Department, Chertoff has written and spoken publicly about the need for "creative legal thinking" in Congress and the White House about a new approach for handling suspected terrorists.
(via WaPO)

The last thing I want from the thugs in Inerrant Boy's malAdministration is "creative legal thinking." We've had quite enough "creative thinking" from Gonzales, justifying rule by decree. Let alone the winger establishment impeaching a President over a blowjob. Creative, or what?

How about a little thinking that makes the Constitution something other than a dead letter?

Oh, and Chertoff was chief counsel for Al D'Amato's Whitewater investigation, which was even more clownish and swinish than the [cough] Independent Counsels. Worse and worse.

Goodnight, moon 

Man, I'm glad it's snowing somewhere. It's January, fer cryin' out loud. It ought to be snowing. But here in Philly it's just this dreary mizzly drizzle.

I hope it rains on Bush's parade. Raining fire from heaven would be a little bit much to ask for, though it there were any justice...

Oh, and vote for farmer for best writer. Or Pete the Deer becomes, shall we say, a piece de resistance...

IOKIYAR: Little guys prosecuted for Iraq "souvenirs" while Rummy goes free after looting 9/11 relics 

Is this a great country, or what?

The little guy gets prosecuted

A court-martial was ordered Tuesday for an Air Force officer charged with illegally shipping AK-47 assault rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers and other souvenirs from Iraq to this Florida Panhandle base.
(via AP)

But Rummy goes free:

We know that Rumsfeld (and other high FBI officials)

1. looted 9/11 relics (back here)
2. which is a Federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail (back here)
3. for which ordinary citizens have been indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and punished (back here).
(from deep within the Corrente Time Vault)

Oh, but what am I thinking? Rummy is a High Administration Official! And a Republican! And since we have become a government of men, not laws, that makes everything OK!


Wack: Mel Gibson observes the bandwagon no longer has any wheels 

I must admit I'm much more a fan of the early Mel Gibson—does Inerrant Boy's Excellent Adventure remind you of that tanker filled with sand, or what—but he's talking sense here:

"[GIBSON] What the hell are we doing in Iraq? No one can explain to me in a reasonable manner that I can accept why we're there, why we went there, and why we're still there."
(via read-it-until-they-make-me-pay Times)

Now, that's supporting the troops!

Wack: Moral values at Abu Ghraib 

Winning hearts and minds:

FORT HOOD, Texas (Reuters) - A former inmate at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison forced by U.S. guards to masturbate in public and piled onto a pyramid of naked men said Tuesday even Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not do such things.

"I couldn't believe in the beginning that this could happen, but I wished I could kill myself because no one was there to stop it," Hussein Mutar, who was sent to Abu Ghraib accused of car theft, said in videotaped testimony.
(via Reuters)

Ah, who cares what Iraqi untermenschen think. They're not even Christians....

Readers, here are some simple questions for Ketchum 

We know from public relations and winger money laundering firm Ketchum's own site that they want to "own" blogs, and come to "mutually beneficial" relations with the blogosphere (back here).

Um, "mutually beneficial" like the $250,000-worth of mutual benefit they passed along from the taxpayers to Armstrong "Buff Daddy" Williams?

So, some simple, simple questions would seem to be in order. They've been asked—Ketchum doesn't believe in answering its mail. Strange for a PR firm, eh?

Readers, can you help? Politely?

To Ray Kotcher, CEO, Adam Brown, and Nicholas Scibetta:

Good morning:

Corrente readers would like to know:

1. Have you arranged to fund any bloggers?

2. If so, which bloggers?

3. If so, who were your clients?

4. If so, was the ultimate source of the funding taxpayer dollars?

In addition:

1. Have you arranged for trolls to target any blogs?

2. If so, which blogs?

3. If so, who were your clients?

4. If so, was the ultimate source of the funding taxpayer dollars?

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

An Alert Corrente Reader

The email addresses are in the salutation to the letter. Maybe if there are enough people asking the questions, politely of course, we'll get some answers.

Remember, we already know from Williams that "there are others" (back)

Much To Do About Everything 

Alas, RDF and the phones are recovered—“alas” insofar as now I have no excuse not to get off my ass—and I now find myself and the phone and computer clogged with things demanding action. Of course, it’s still snowing so all action may come to a halt again. Anyway, here’s what I got:

1. Sign the ACLU pre-coronation petition:

the ACLU's "Refuse to Surrender" pledge

2. An forwarded email from a local organizer in a nearby county asking, “any ideas on how to get local Democrats more involved?” Hoo, boy. I’m back to house parties instead of boring meetings in church basements… I guess. Door prizes? I guess shit like this from Online Journal just ain’t enough to motivate folks:

January 7, 2005—Why have exit polls historically matched election results? How about this? It's all made up. It's a scam. A con. A fake. A fraud. Since they first started "projecting" election night winners in 1964, the major news networks have never provided any 'hard' evidence that they actually conducted any exit polls, at all. Researchers and activists who point to the disparity of the early exit polls and the 2004 election results, have failed to consider the obvious—that exit polls never existed to begin with. Did networks fake exit polls, while AP 'accessed' 2,995 mainframe computers?

Imagine then, how embarrassed they must have been by ’04, as the author does. Shiny foil chapeau territory? Well, she names sources…there was a time an allegation like this would make waves. But then, Rove-Goebbels, Inc. sets up CBS all too easily, don’t they? Indy media’s our only hope if we ever want to truly know.

3. Plans for Martin Luther King Day. There’s a rally in a nearby town with speeches and singing and the usual meet-up at the Baptist Church, with more speeching, food and music. But I want more. Ideas on how to make MLK Day not only a day of remembrance but also the anti-inauguration? I don't want to just cry for what could have been... and that recent bust in Mississippi proves MLK's dictum that "the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." So, how to help it bend and little more quickly this coming weekend, in loving memory?

4. Anyone with the means to go to DC for the swearing-at—er, I mean, “in,” might check out Uncle Mike’s Handy Guide: MIKE'S INAUGURATION GUIDE: with links to bunches of resources for them who can go and even them who can’t.

When the snow melts off I will paint the shed blue, Xan. Meanwhile it's back to direct action sans paintbrush. And don’t forget to send a nice letter so’s to find out who the blog-skunks are, as suggested by Lambert, right below…

Give 'em hell, Howard! 

The only politician, Democrat, Republican, or other, to whom I've given money:

Former presidential candidate Howard Dean, once the early front-runner for the Democratic nomination whose candidacy stumbled, has decided to seek the party's chairmanship, several Democrats said Tuesday.
(via AP)

Dean's only sin? Saying the unsayable—the truth!

As opposed to the Scaife-funded, pro-coathanger candidate Roemer, from whom, as with any Republican operative, we can expect nothing but lies.

What were "our" two Beltway Dem "leaders" thinking>

However, the Roll Call newspaper reported U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., want to "jump-start" the debate over finding a new committee chairman and contacted Roemer about running for the position.
(Moonie Times)

Assuming that this isn't just disinformation from one of the winger house organs, of course.

I guess we should have let Kerik twist slowly, slowly in the wind 

The new nominee:

From 1994 to 1996, [Michael Chertoff] served as special counsel for the Whitewater Committee, the partisan witchhunt which investigated unusual business dealings involving former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
(via CBC)

"Investigated"... Love that Canadian humor. It's so dry!

NOTE Is Chertoff a member of the Federalist Society? Bien sur!

Poll Watch ~ Get out the VOTE! 

I'm a little concerned about the current poll on the sidebar. At this point it doesn't look good for Newt in 2008. Maybe a Gingrich-Jack Cafferty "get to know ya" dance party would have been a bigger draw?

Maybe Dan Rather should be singing train songs to Kate O'Beirne while she gobbles chili dogs in a halter top and pair of shorty shorts? Would anyone like to watch Kate O'Beirne in a halter top and a pair of shorty shorts eat a sloppy wienerwurst to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain?" I'll bet you'd like that wouldn't you? Damnit. I should of thought of that before.

Could send Santorum to northern Michigan to yank a fish through an ice hole. There's a kind of poetic ecclesiatical justice to that. Not sure how to help Bay Buchanan's island of apathy though. Maybe Donna Brazile could run up and down the beach with a lantern crashing ships onto a reef! Or, hey!, maybe Tucker Carlson and Armstrong Williams could visit the island and share a jacuzzi? Although that scene might put a damper on the the abstinence effort; what with all the slippery buffing and rebuffing and bow ties and hundred dollar bills and wavy locks churning around in the bubbles and all. Eeeks. Come to think of it that would be too horribly real even for horrible reality TV. Producing quality television isn't as easy as you might think.

Anyway... it looks like I'm going to have to build a pen and rent or borrow a death adder at some point very soon. Anyone know what a good death adder rents out for these days?

In the meantime... VOTE for the lame choices ya got. Ain't that always the way?


Monday, January 10, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

What a day. Theocracy. "So-called" really does mean so called liberal media. Media whore Armstrong "Buff Daddy" Williams really is a whore. And the return of Paul Lusasiak.

Way, way too much post-Holiday stimulation.

Oh, and vote for farmer if you ever want to see Pete the Deer alive again.

Kerry's brother (and advisor) on Ohio, New Mexico 

From Truthout via Buzzflash:

It was the issues and suspicions surrounding Triad Systems and their voting machines that motivated Senator Kerry to enter that matter?

[CAM KERRY] Yes. That is one of the things that is highly suspect. Look, Kenneth Blackwell's conduct throughout this election, going back months beforehand and through the recount, has been disgraceful. What people have to recognize is that the election protection effort, with 3,300 Kerry/Edwards lawyers who were there on the ground, plus other lawyers, the voter protection project, and other efforts out there did a lot.

They dealt with this ridiculous business of the paper weight on the voter registration and put a stop to that. The Republican effort to mount challenges, they put a stop to it. The efforts to exclude reporters and exit pollers from the polls, they put a stop to that. The malfunctions in machines in Mahoning County, they put a stop to that. They put a lot of focus on the incredible amounts of time the students at Kent had to wait. There were people there to bring them food, and there were people there who offered those in line paper ballots. They didn't want paper ballots. They wanted to get in there and cast their votes the regular way.

One of the reasons we know about all these things is because there were people there observing and recording, and they prevented a lot of the large problems. Did they prevent everything? No. Were there people who were disenfranchised? Yes. Were there mistakes and irregularities and fraud? Yes. I think this was a closer election than 119,000 votes.

Ohio wasn't the only state where there were problems in this last election. There was also New Mexico.

[CAM KERRY] I think New Mexico is a fascinating case. I think people there are doing a great job putting together data that shows some very convincing anomalies that could change the outcome. I think it's something that needs to go forward because it is really about counting the votes and not ultimately about the outcome of the election as a whole. My understand is essentially that if Governor Richardson gives the go-ahead for a partial recount, they can get started on that. It is a pretty convincing case, with serious anomalies in Native American and Hispanic voting areas.

Are they concerned in New Mexico about how this recount will proceed? I ask because the main problem with the recent Ohio recount was that it was supposed to be a random recount, but representatives from Triad, the company that had their voting machines in 41 Ohio counties, found out ahead of time which 'random' counties would be recounted. They went around to those counties and made sure that the machine count would match the hand count. This basically obviated the basic premise of the recount, that being the selection of random counties. Will the people in New Mexico be keeping an eye on things like this?

What I gather is that people have negotiated in New Mexico, and that Cobb and Badnarik will select the ten percent, something like ten percent or thereabouts, of the precincts to be recounted.
(via TruthOut)

God really is in the details....

I have to say, I wasn't passionate in favor of Kerry, but I grew to like him and respect him the more the campaign proceeded. I hope, over the next four years, that he can shed the tendency toward empty compromises that Senators, and Democrats, have so often felt compelled to make, and speak clearly in his own voice. Cut loose, Senator Kerry, cut loose! We know you can do it!

Oh the OUTRAGES! Wingnut knickers in full twist  

Naked wine and cheese orgies! Dirty sidewalk "chalkings." It's all a sinister plot by clothing challenged cheese eating lefties and queer prom queens to undermine the true diversity of ideas. Because, if the modern hard bitten conservative can't feel comfortable attending a wine and cheese party in full araiment, well, none of us are safe! Freedom and western civilization itself teeter upon the brink. What will we tell the parents!

Via AgapePress: The Fall of Wesleyan Civilization
Columnist Reveals Liberal School's Decadent Decline

John Leo promised his daughter he would not write about Wesleyan University until she graduated. Now that she's out, he has let loose with a column informing readers about the liberalism run amok of a university that has been home to a queer prom, a pornography-for-credit course, obscene sidewalk chalking, and a campus club crudely named for a private part of the female anatomy -- to name just a few of the school's outrages.

Uh.....The Boobie Hatch?


We've always called them media whores... 

...and to our surprise, they turn out to be, well, whores. Armstrong "Buff Daddy" Williams in WaPo today:

Tucson, Ariz.: Why don't you give back the money, and regain your credibility and integrity?

Armstrong Williams: Giving back the money is not about regaining my credibility and integrity. I am a businessman. Ketchum Communications purchased advertising time: two one-minute commercials to promote No Child Left Behind. After the first 16 months it was communicated to us that between 10 and 15 million people visited the No Child Left Behind Web page as a result of our advertising campaign. There were markets initially that we were not in that Ketchum felt it necessary that we run the ads. We had to go out and buy programming time just to have ads on the air in that market.

So therefore, we honor our contract. We delivered on our goals and they delivered on their compensation. That's business: supply and demand.
(via WaPo)

"Not about regaining credibility and integrity"... Well, no. Fortunately, the White House says this is an "isolated incident." Well, that's a relief!

Armstrong "Buff Daddy" Williams has an interview with Bush in the can 

But what are the odds it will air? (Media Matters)

Oh. For "Buff Daddy," see the farmer back here.

CBS "Memogate" Report a Crock of Shit 

Nobody, not in the media, not in the blogosphere, not anywhere has worked harder or longer or more persistently to find out the truth about George W. Bush's "military service" and the decades-long project to cover it up, than Paul Lukasiak. With his permission and encouragement we ran numerous excerpts here from the research at his website called The AWOL Project.

All that time I had no idea he was going by the excellent handle of "bushsux" over at Daily Kos. I find this out today when I click on an item there called "The CBS Memogate Project: An Insider's View."

Guess what? Yer never gonna believe this, but that "report" today? That got those four people fired? It's a whitewash, a load of hooey, a bucket full of horseshit, a prune stew of indigestible foulness. In other words, pretty much what we suspected it would be.

You should go read. Don't let Them tell you "this is an old story," or that "CBS screwed this up so badly we lose all credibility if we bring it up again." It hasn't been brought up yet, is the problem. Like all shit, it needs to get to where the maggots can crawl and the dung beetles help the fresh air and purifying sunshine break it down into its constituent parts.

"bushsux" diary at dKos

Wack: Know your enemy! 

Of course, Bush knows his enemies—the Democrats (and the Consitution). And he's been superb at decapitating the one and subverting the other. Would that He could know his enemy in war, as well as in politics! From, once again, the essential New Yorker, where reporter Dan Baum has actually talked to the troops instead of sitting at his desk, fluffing unnamed administration officials by giving them good phone:

Then came Iraq. Every war is different from the last, with its own special learning curve, but there is a growing sense within the Army that Iraq signals something more significant. In the American Civil War, Army manuals taught Napoleonic tactics, like close-order formations, even though they were suicidal against rifled muskets that could kill accurately at three hundred yards. In the First World War, the French, British, and German troops persisted in attempting to storm trenches before recognizing the defensive supremacy of the machine gun. In Iraq, the Army’s marquee high-tech weapons are often sidelined while the enemy kills and maims Americans with bombs wired to garage-door openers or doorbells. Even more important, the Army is facing an enemy whose motivation it doesn’t understand. “I don’t think there’s one single person in the Army or the intelligence community that can break down the demographics of the enemy we’re facing,” an Airborne captain named Daniel Morgan told me. “You can’t tell whether you’re dealing with a former Baathist, a common criminal, a foreign terrorist, or devout believers.”
(via The New Yorker)

Yep. One of the many surreal aspects of Inerrant Boy's Most Excellent adventure is that the enemy the troops are fighting is never clearly defined. I guess they're "evil" or "hate freedom" but that's a little short of operational intelligence, eh? This truth has been hidden in plain sight, and it takes a New York weekly to reveal it. Sigh.

The Comeback of Christendom 

We may be seeing a ramping up of the new Justification for Eternal War here. While both sources may seem a tad obscure, the influence of the Moonie rag should not be underestimated. And the fact that the second piece ran in no less than nine newspapers in Australia but--as far as I could find--not a single one in the US strikes me as a bit puzzling as well.

Washington (Moonie) Times

William S. Lind
Outside View Contributor

(William S. Lind, we are told, "is expressing his own opinion. He is director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation." Doesn't that sound ever so much better, so more Professional and Well-Informed, than "is a daily resident of the third stool from the end of the bar at Cheers Tavern"?)
Washington, DC, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Was Ukraine's Nov. 21 presidential election stolen? Probably. Was President-elect Viktor Yushchenko legitimately elected as the country's next leader in the Dec. 26 rerun of the vote? Certainly. Would it be nice if Ukraine were a democracy? Sure. Are those the considerations that should drive American policy in the region? No.

The most important factor in U.S. policy toward the countries of the former Soviet Union ought to be our need for a strategic alliance with Russia. Geo-politically, Russia holds Christendom's vast eastern flank, which stretches all the way from the Black Sea to Vladivostok. As the remnants of the Christian world begin to wake up to the reality that Islam has resumed the strategic offensive, that flank takes on renewed importance. It is already under pressure, as events in Chechnya show all too clearly. If it collapses, Christendom will have suffered an epic defeat.
Massive snip of derogatory remarks against BushCo and His foreign policy. Normally this would be enjoyable reading no matter the source, but in this case it does matter because of this nutter's rationale:
The folly of ignoring Russia's vital interests may lead to a worst possible outcome - namely, a renewed civil war within Christendom. Three previous such civil wars in the 20th century -- World War I, World War II, and the Cold War -- have left our culture merely one contender among many, whereas a century ago it dominated the world. A fourth such conflict, in the form of a revived cold war, would truly be a gift from Allah to the warriors of the Prophet. Christendom would spend what little energy it has left fighting itself.
Yeah, I know...ewwww. Didn't "Christendom" as a description of a group of nation-states whose common religion overrode their numerous other differences of interest rather go out of style about the time of the Children's Crusade? Yeah, that's what I thought, until I ran across this today:

(via Sydney AU Herald-Sun)
TRAILBLAZING ideologue Newt Gingrich, who engineered the 1994 Republican takeover of the US House of Representatives, may run for president in 2008, to fight what he calls "an Islamist insurgency against the modern world".

He also spoke today about a need to centre US society around religious values formulated by "our Creator".

The mid-sized tome promotes what is being described as Mr Gingrich's vision of America's greatness in the 21st century, including his plan for winning the war on terror, re-establishing God in American public life, reforming the underfunded Social Security pension system, restoring patriotism and making US health care more accessible...[snip]

According to the former speaker, between 39 million and 52 million young men - out of a total of 1.3 billion Muslims around the world - could become available to Islamist recruiters as the war on terror grinds on.

Because of that, he predicts, the fight could continue for the next 20-25 years at best, or drag on for several centuries, as did the Catholic-Protestant wars during the Reformation and Counter Reformation.

The common assumption was that Newt could not mount a comeback in the modern Republican party because of such minor moral lapses as serial adultery, serial divorce, and the charming incident of him serving one previous wife with divorce papers while she lay in a hospital bed recovering from cancer surgery. But, as Dear Leader has proved, With A Carefully Timed Religious Conversion All Things Are Possible. And a heapin' helpin' of pompous pious platitudes don't hurt none neither.

Chemical Allan: Leave No Bad Idea Behind 

Hey, what's that stink?
Pollutant from Poppy Bush's old swine lagoon seeps back into the stream.

Jan 10, 2005:
Bush Names Allan Hubbard as Top Economic Adviser
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Monday named Allan Hubbard, an Indiana businessman and major Bush fund-raiser, to serve as his top economic adviser, the White House announced.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Hubbard will serve as assistant to the president for economic policy and as director of the White House National Economic Council, replacing Stephen Friedman, who stepped down late last year.

Hubbard, a long-time Bush friend, is president of privately held E & A Industries, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana, which owns several chemical companies.

Records show Hubbard ranked as a top fund-raiser for Bush during his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns.

He once served as deputy chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle.

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." - J. Danforth Quayle, former Vice-President

Flashback: The Quayle Council
OMD Watch - Dec. 24, 1992
Undoing Quayle Council Damage
Cases of Quayle Council Interference
In the two years Vice President Dan Quayle chaired the Council on Competitiveness, the Council interfered in, stalled, or killed dozens of regulatory programs and issued sweeping policy reports with both legislative and regulatory proposals on issues such as biotechnology and product liability.


There were reports of conflict of interest on the Council as well. Press accounts revealed that Allan Hubbard, the executive director of the Quayle Council on Competitiveness, was half-owner of an Indiana chemical company, and consequently may have had a conflict of interest in carrying out his public role. According to a report released by OMB Watch and Public Citizen, Hubbard also owned stock in an electric utility company, another industry subject to new Clean Air Act requirements. In response to these conflict of interest charges the White House has held up a waiver from conflict of interest laws that Quayle granted Hubbard in June 1991.

Flashback: House of Representatives - April 29, 1992
HON. LES AUCOIN: The next item on the Quayle council's hit list is Clean Air Act, a bill Bush himself once hailed as a major achievement. The President is currently pondering whether to allow industrial polluters to contaminate our environment even more than the law allows--without public hearings or Environmental Protection Agency review.

Hidden behind the veil of executive privilege, the council is not subject to the public accountability laws that govern other agencies. No public record of its communications or decisions is required. As Dan Quayle is fond of boasting cynically, the council `leaves no fingerprints,' just the wreckage of laws weakened by new loopholes and exemptions for corporate fat cats and polluters.

The Quayle council operates primarily for Dan Quayle's big business golfing buddies who, having failed in public debate in Congress, use the council as a secret back door to undermine health, safety, and environmental laws.

It's no coincidence that as the council pushes for a regulation to prevent the public or the EPA from stopping Clean Air Act violations, its staff director was forced to step aside for being a part owner of a chemical company that would profit from the new rule. This star chamber is by definition a conflict of interest.

Well, enough is enough. Today I'm introducing legislation to rip open the curtains and let the light of public scrutiny into this Chamber. This bill, in conjunction with legislation already introduced in the Senate by John Glenn, will require the Quayle council to conform with the procedures and openness that governs all other government rulemaking agencies.

Specifically, my bill will require the Quayle council to provide public access to all its written communications, provide summaries of oral communications, and explain the reasons for its intervention in the normal rulemaking process.

No longer will the public be shut out. No longer will big business have another chance to change laws that no one else has. It's time to shed some sunlight on George Bush and Dan Quayle's secret dealings. Let's make sure the public has the last laugh.

[source: Congressional Record]

Crocodile Tears:
The Quayle Council keeps no public records of who it talks to for advice, but Vice-President Quayle says he consults most often with business leaders who can tell him better than economists "how the clock is ticking." Allan Hubbard, executive director of the Quayle Council, says, "When they feel like they are being treated unfairly, [industry groups] come to us." ~ September 18, 1991- Environmental Research Foundation, Annapolis, MD.

Allan Hubbard - additional business/background info:
Allan B Hubbard - Director; Wellpoint Inc. (Anthem, Inc.) Link; Wellpoint Inc. mission and values


Crimes and misdemeanors 

Just in case anyone doubted the rules of the game, CBS has eliminated the ambiguity:

Four CBS News staffers were fired Monday following the release of an independent investigation that said a “myopic zeal” led to the airing of a discredited “60 Minutes Wednesday” story about President Bush's military service.

The panel's 224-page report detailed dozens of missteps, including the reliance on documents that were allegedly forged to a circle-the-wagons mentality that compounded the damage.

CBS fired Mary Mapes, producer of the Sept. 8 report; Josh Howard, executive producer of “60 Minutes Wednesday” and his top deputy Mary Murphy; and senior vice president Betsy West.
(via Globe and Mail)

For those keeping score, the rules go like this: Rely on phony documents that bolster an independently proven story against Republican President, lose your job. Doctor evidence to frame a Democratic President and his wife, live long and prosper.
[UPDATE: fixed broken link.]

So, who are the other conservative [cough] "commentators" taking payola? 

David Corn talked to Armstrong Williams (via Kos):

Then Williams violated a PR rule: he got off-point. "This happens all the time," he told me. "There are others." Really? I said. Other conservative commentators accept money from the Bush administration? I asked Williams for names. "I'm not going to defend myself that way," he said. The issue right now, he explained, was his own mistake. Well, I said, what if I call you up in a few weeks, after this blows over, and then ask you? No, he said.

Does Williams really know something about other rightwing pundits? Or was he only trying to minimize his own screw-up with a momentary embrace of a trumped-up everybody-does-it defense? I could not tell. But if the IG at the Department of Education or any other official questions Williams, I suggest he or she ask what Williams meant by this comment. And if Williams is really sorry for this act of "bad judgment" and for besmirching the profession of rightwing punditry, shouldn't he do what he can to guarantee that those who watch pundits on the cable news networks and read political columnists receive conservative views that are independent and untainted by payoffs from the Bush administration or other political outfits?

Armstrong, please, help us all protect the independence of the conservative commentariat. If you are not alone, tell us who else has yielded to bad judgment.
(via Nation)

Um, could it be all of them? Why not?

And, as we asked before, Are any winger bloggers on the payroll?

Wack: More signs of desperation 


Gunmen on Monday assassinated Baghdad's deputy police chief and his son, police said, while a huge roadside bomb in southwestern Baghdad destroyed a U.S. armored vehicle and killed two American soldiers, the military said.

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is one of the more heavily armored U.S. military vehicles, suggesting that the roadside bomb was more powerful than those typically used in recent months. The Defense Department said last week that insurgents were increasing the size and power of the bombs they plant as they escalate their attacks before the Jan. 30 election.
(via AP)

Hey, I wonder where the "more powerful" explosives came from. More stuff Rummy didn't secure because there was no plan?

The unreality-based community 

Marc Danner has a fascinating and horrifying account, "How Bush Really Won," of the Bush rallies during campaign 2004 in that other New York publication besides the The Yorker that actually does reporting, The New York Review of Books:

Many of the Bush supporters I spoke to were educated, well-informed people. They watched the news and took pleasure in debating politics. And yet they clung to views about important matters of fact that were demonstrably wrong. Steven Kull, the public opinion expert at the University of Maryland who authored the study from which these numbers are drawn, acknowledges that although one reason they "cling so tightly to beliefs that have been so visibly that they continue to hear the Bush administration confirming these beliefs," the prevalence, and persistence, of these misperceptions is "probably not due to a simple failure to pay attention to the news." Rather, Kull writes, "Bush supporters cling to these beliefs because they are necessary for their support for the decision to go to war with Iraq":

Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58 percent of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61 percent assume that in this case the president would not have. To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions is difficult to bear, especially in light of the continuing costs in terms of lives and money. Apparently, to avoid this cognitive dissonance, Bush supporters suppress awareness of unsettling information. [See Steven Kull et al., The Separate Reality of Bush and Kerry Supporters (PIPA/Knowledge Networks, October 21, 2004), p. 13.]

This analysis suggests the difficulties Kerry faced in pressing home his highly "fact-dependent" argument that the Iraq war was separate from the war on terror and thus a mistaken distraction from it. Not only did accepting the point require a good deal of sophistication and knowledge, not only did it seem to contradict the evidence on Americans' television screens each night, which often showed vivid depictions of terrorism in Iraq; it also seemed to imply to some voters that they should take what must have seemed an unpatriotic position. For if they accepted the false pretenses on which the war had been based, how could they go on supporting it, as Kerry, somewhat illogically and even dishonestly, seemed to be asking them to do?

Those running the Bush campaign clearly counted on the talent and influence of impressive propagandists like Limbaugh, and the help they received from an often acquiescent mainstream press. More, they counted on the President's reputation for forthrightness, together with the political folk wisdom that many people, particularly "during wartime," believe "the man, not the fact." When Bush, in full rhetorical flower in Tinker Field, declared to his delirious audience that "Americans need a president who doesn't think terrorism is 'a nuisance,'" my neighbor Ms. Richardson-Pinto nudged me with her elbow and shouted over the laughter and cheers, "Do you believe Kerry said that?" Actually, I shouted into her ear, Kerry hadn't said that, and then I paraphrased for her the actual quotation:

We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution... [and] illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.[8]

Hardly exceptional; indeed, Bush himself had only weeks before said something very similar. Ms. Richardson-Pinto, a well-educated, worldly woman —a doctor, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist in women's softball— listened to me intently, nodded politely, began to form a question, and then, thinking better of it, looked at me for a moment longer before turning back to the President. She'd had a choice what—or rather whom—to believe; and she'd made it.
(via New York Review of Books)

How to get Bush voters to unmake their choices? Could it be that the cognitive dissonance is simply too great?

Dem consultants rising to the level of their incompetence 

Armstrong Williams: Flight of the Payola Gay 

I'm too sexy for my politics...

"...My advice to him would be to get a boyfriend and leave his employees alone.'’

Via Blue Lemur:
In 1997, Williams was sued in a massive $200,000 50-charge sexual harassment suit for repeatedly kissing his once male trainer Stephen Gregory who he had promoted repeatedly into his talk-show staff. Gregory claimed Williams had also grabbed his buttocks and genitals and climbed into bed with him on business trips. After rebuffing him, Gregory alleged, the pundit retaliated by reducing his pay and subsequently firing him.


The columnist settled the case out of court in early 1999.

Define "rebuffing."


Sunday, January 09, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

As Sunday, sigh, inevitably turns into Monday....

We're here to ask for your vote! And to help with Wampum's server costs.

And especially Farmer for best writer.

Vote for farmer or we'll shoot Pete the Deer!

Hey, a conference on blog credibility without any bloggers! 

Here (via the Mighty Atrios).

Maybe it's faith-based?

UPDATE Oh, wait, they've got Powerline (back). Say, I wonder if Powerline is on Ketchum's winger payroll? Speaking of "credibility," and all...


The New Yorker—you remember them, the New York piblication with an actual reporter, Seymour Hersh—has a review of Jared Diamond's newest and most excellent book Collapse. Here the reviewer describes how the Norwegian colonists of Greenland starved to death, though surrounded by oceans teeming with fish:

There are no fish bones in Norse archeological remains, Diamond concludes, for the simple reason that the Norse didn’t eat fish. For one reason or another, they had a cultural taboo against it. ... When archeologists looked through the ruins of the Western Settlement, they found plenty of the big wooden objects that were so valuable in Greenland—crucifixes, bowls, furniture, doors, roof timbers—which meant that the end came too quickly for anyone to do any scavenging. And, when the archeologists looked at the animal bones left in the debris, they found the bones of newborn calves, meaning that the Norse, in that final winter, had given up on the future. They found toe bones from cows, equal to the number of cow spaces in the barn, meaning that the Norse ate their cattle down to the hoofs, and they found the bones of dogs covered with knife marks, meaning that, in the end, they had to eat their pets. But not fish bones, of course. Right up until they starved to death, the Norse never lost sight of what they stood for.
(via New Yorker)

"They never lost sight of what they stood for." Ponder that.

When I read this passage, I was irresistibly reminded of the latest grand projet of the Republican governor of Texas, Richard "Good Hair" Perry:

[Texas] has embarked on an audacious project to build superhighways so big and so complex that they will make ordinary interstates look like cow paths.

The Trans-Texas Corridor project, as first envisioned by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2002, would be a 4,000-mile transportation network costing $175 billion over 50 years, financed mostly if not entirely with private money. The builders then would charge motorists tolls.

But these would not be mere highways. Proving anew that everything's big in Texas, they would be megahighways — corridors up to a quarter-mile across, consisting of as many as six lanes for cars and four for trucks, plus railroad tracks, oil and gas pipelines, water and other utility lines, and broadband transmission cables.
Moonie Times

Yes, "They never lost sight of what they stood for." Thank God oil is going to be cheap for the forseeable future! Oh, wait...

And Now for Something Completely Different 

Or maybe not. We all Fight The Power in our own way after all.

(via Chicago Trib)

MUSCATINE, IOWA -- A Wal-Mart greeter was sacked for apparently showing too much of his friendly side to customers.

Dean Wooten, 65, was accused of greeting customers with a computer-generated photo in which he appeared to be naked--except for a carefully placed Wal-Mart bag--and of telling them that Wal-Mart was cutting costs and the sack was the company's new uniform.

A supervisor at the Muscatine store where Wooten had worked for seven years told him to stop after customers complained. He was fired five days later, in September, after he displayed the photo again.

Wooten's application for unemployment compensation was rejected by an administrative law judge, who said "a reasonable person would know the act of showing a naked body wearing a Wal-Mart sack would not be good for the employer's business."
Heh heh heh. Let us raise our Sunday evening toast to Mr. Wooten, in hopes that, having pretty well washed up on his day job, he gets a nice raise at the comedy club in Iowa City where he clearly deserves to be a star.

The important historical question 

Better yet, my dear readers, let me ask the big question for a historian about the "Salvadoran Option": Are the folks at the Pentagon now admitting that we were BEHIND THE DEATHSQUADS in El Salvador in the 1980s? This article in Newsweek seems to suggest as much.

Ronnie and the criminals in his administration (still the leading administration by a longshot for the number of folks who were sent to jail for a plethora scandals) always said that they knew nothing about who was behind the deathsquads and who these folks were. If Reagan had admitted this in the middle 1980s it's not too crazy to suggest this might've led to Reagan's impeachment (although probably not his conviction by the Senate).

Were we behind the deathsquads in El Salvador? Did we train them? Did we coordinate them?

Kevin, certainly don't pay any attention to the idiotic stuff Insty's prattling on about. Of course the Iran-Contra scandal grew out of the mess in El Salvador. As usual, Glenn's just trying to obfuscate and distract you from the potentially bigger issue here.

Have we just discovered that St. Ron was an even bigger monster than we all thought?

Now that my friends is a newsflash, isn't it?

If anyone out there has anything they can pass on my way about these questions, feel free to do so.

Say, has anyone noticed that Bush has decided to fight a dirty war against 1.5 billion Muslims? [encore presentation] 

We were right back in July. Say, how come people who get paid to be journalists didn't connect the dots back then? Newsweek:

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

[Originally posted July 17, 2004]

Just asking....

Bush has taken Ollie North's "covert, off-the-shelf" operations capability off the shelf, and He's using it to run a dirty war in the Middle East. Let's connect a few dots:

(1) dirty war kingpin Negroponte being appointed ambassador to the current Iraqi state,

(2) CIA creature Allawi shooting six insurgents in the head, immediately following his appointment the estimable Mr. Caulfield is all over this one; and Orcinus), whereupon Negroponte does a superb Sergeant Schulz imitation,

(3) the general who ran the torture wing at Abu Ghaib being put in charge of intelligence training (back here)

(4) an extra-constitutional chain of command ("Decoding the handwriting of The Fog Machine"

(5) spending that is not controlled by Congressional authority.

Doesn't this start to look exactly like the Latin American dirty wars that "our" government fought in the Reagan era? Sure looks like it to me. The same players, the same extra-constitutional techniques, the same goals.

Leaving aside the question of whether the nature of this dirty war was discussed with the American people, the basic question is this:

Will the strategy of dirty war that Bush has chosen scale to the Islamic world?

That is, assuming for a moment that the Reaganite dirty wars in Latin America can be considered a success, can we expect a successful replay in the (so-called) war on terror in the Middle East? The answer is almost certainly No.

1. Latin and Central American were in our own hemisphere. The Middle East is not. When fighting a dirty war in the Middle East, logistics, cultural and language issues, intelligence issues, are all orders of magnitude more difficult. And, although Negroponte has obviously been ordered to produce a client state, we have no client states in the Middle East, as we did in our own sphere of influence. (Even Israel, despite the billions we pay them, has a will of its own).

2. No other powers had vital interests in Latin America. Not so in the Middle East. The Middle East, unlike Latin American, is awash in the world's most addictive fluid: oil. We could fight our dirty wars in our own hemisphere without taking into account the needs, actions, or addictions of anyone but ourselves, our clients, and our opponents. In the Middle East, by contrast, the vital interests of Europe, Russia, China, and through Pakistan, India, are all involved. Here again, the balance of forces is an order of magnitude more difficult to manage than in our own backyard.

3. Latin American had no nukes. The Middle East does. Not only is Israel a nuclear power, Iran seeks to be. Worse, in nuclear Pakistan Musharraf could either be (a) is overthrown by the Islamic fundamentalists, or (b) play both ends against the middle by making common cause with them. Even worse, the Middle East has loose nukes everywhere, either as bombs from the former USSR or as dirty-bomb-suitable material (much from Iraq itself, which Rummy inexplicaby failed to secure). Here again, the risks of a dirty war in the Middle East are orders of magnitude greater than they were in Latin America.

4. For the Latin American dirty war, the Constitution could be bent. For the Middle Eastern dirty war, it must be broken. Reagan bypassed Congress's Constitutional funding authority for millions, for a limited objective, for a few years (an impeachable offense, though the Democrats, even then, didn't have the stones to call him on it). Bush is doing the same thing, for billions, for unlimited objectives, with no end in sight. Civil liberties are important, but the way to protect them is to control the funding of the executive. (Remember how Bush hagiographer Woodward reported that Bush blithely reallocated $700 million that Congress appropriated for Afghanistan to Iraq, without telling anyone?) A supposed constitutional republic that cannot control how the executive branch spends money is no longer either constitutional or a republic, but a dictatorship with a referendum every four years. Here again, the stakes of the Middle East are orders of magnitude higher than in Latin America.

5. The Latin American dirty war could be hidden from the average American. Not so in the Middle East. In Reagan's wars, minimal involvement by the average US citizen soldier was required; mercenaries could be used throughout. Not so in the Middle East; the scale is so great that ordinary citizens must become involved. In fact, it's the collision between the tactics and expectations of the dirty war fighters, on the one hand, with the tactics, expectations—and principles—of the citizen soldiers on the other, that has caused Bush so much trouble. The whistleblowers of Abu Ghraib are one example of the power that can be wielded by an outraged citizen soldier acting from principle. For Bush to put an end to this problem, He will have to redefine, for the entire country and for its citizen soldiers, what the United States is about: That we are a nation of torturers; that it is OK to set dogs on naked men; that it is OK to rape shrieking boys. Bush is performing The Stanford Experiment on a national scale; if He succeeds, he will have put in place the essential cultural underpinnings for an American version of the fascist state (Orcinus). Here again, the stakes are immeasurably greater in the Middle East than in Latin America.

6. In Latin America, the risk of blowback was minimal. Not so in the Middle East. In Latin America, what were the Sandinistas going to do? Invade Miami? In the Middle East, the stakes are greater, and the Bush administration has raised the stakes with a fundamentally unserious approach to the problem (For Bush's unseriousness on loose nukes, see "Reckless indifference the nightmare scenario").

Blowback from the Middle East will probably take the form of the loss of an American city to a loose nuke [or a dirty bomb] in the hands of a fundamentalist. However, since most target cities (even Washington, DC) are not part of the base—that is, not SIC, more likely to be gay, more likely to be immigrant, less likely to be white, and much more likely to vote Democratic—they are almost certainly regarded by the Bush administration as expendable. (The rhetoric of "cleansing fire" was already prepared in the aftermath of 9/11. Please refer all comments involving the words "tinfoil hat" to the Department of "No! They would never do that!")

So, yes, the stakes are great in November. Bush—on no authority but His own—has initiated a dirty war in the Middle East that we are almost certain to lose, because a strategy built for Latin America isn't going to scale to the Middle East. In prosecuting this dirty war, which will involve not only "terrorists" but Europe, Russia, and the rest of the Middle East, the United States is going to lose its character as a constitutional republic, plant the cultural seeds of fascism, and lose a city or two to nuclear weapons through blowback.

If you want that, vote for Bush in November. Sigh.

addendum: (by 'the farmer') On topic; not to forget Dan 'The Madman of Montevideo' Mitrione:

"The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect." ~ Dan Mitrione

Dan Mitrione did not introduce the practice of torturing political prisoners to Uruguay. It had been perpetrated by the police at times from at least the early 1960s. However, in surprising interview given to a leading Brazilian newspaper in 1970, the former Uruguayan Chief of Police Intelligence, Alejandro Otero, declared that US advisers, and in particular Mitrione, had instituted torture as a more routine measure; to the means of inflicting pain they had added scientific refinement; and to that a psychology to create despair, such as playing a tape in the next room of women and children screaming and telling the prisoners that it was his family being tortured. ~ William Blum, author of Killing Hope

Read more about Dan Mitrione back here - via 'farmrunoff' -- Tuesday, July 20, 2004: River of Painted Birds


"Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" - former first lady Barbara Bush - "Good Morning America" March 18, 2003


The Lexicon of
Liberal Invective

News & Resource




copyright 2003-2005

  • Site Meter

  • Weblog Commenting by

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?