Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Molly Ivins -- Fleecing The Family

The proposed Bush rules, which the two Republican bills codify and expand, would:

1 - Exclude previously-protected workers who were entitled to overtime by reclassifying them as managers. Companies are already using this ploy where they can get away with it. Say you're frying burgers on the night shift at McDonald's, making overtime, and suddenly -- congratulations -- you're the assistant night manager, with no raise and no overtime.

2 - Eliminate certain middle-income workers from overtime protections by adding an income limit, above which workers no longer qualify for overtime. You like that? You make too much to earn overtime.

3 - Remove overtime protection from large numbers of workers in aerospace, defense, health care, high tech and other industries.

Pay attention, this one is coming right out of your paycheck.

CNN - Dixie Chicks Come Clean On EW

CNN - Dixie Chicks Coming Clean on EW
Despite the controversy -- or perhaps because of it -- the Chicks remain one of the top draws in all of pop music.

Though the group's song "Travelin' Soldier," which was No. 1 on Billboard's country charts around the time Maines made the remark, fell off the charts, sales of the group's CD, "Home," picked up after an initial dip.

The album has been out since late summer, selling more than 6 million copies. It hit No. 1 on Billboard's album chart and has spent 19 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's country album chart.

Most of the shows on the tour already had sold out before Maines' comments. The band's agent, Rob Light, was unavailable for comment Wednesday but told Billboard this week that of the 59 shows, only six have seats left and those are all 85 percent to 90 percent sold.

Get Down with Dean

First Presidential Candidate with his own Techno-Dance Mix -- "What I Want To Know".

I'll have to remove My Baby Is A Basket Case and add this mp3 to my Peace Record.

Daily Kos has a cool electoral map on the left

Edwards For Prez Release

John Edwards Site -- Zeroing in on the economy in New Hampshire.

"George W. Bush's record is clear: Over 2.6 million lost jobs. $400 billion in lost retirement savings. $4.5 trillion in stock market losses. A $400 billion deficit," said Edwards. "I was a lawyer for nearly twenty years, and I have to tell you, this is the easiest case I've ever had to argue."

Citing the recent case of American Airlines, where management demanded huge concessions from workers after setting up a special $41 million trust to protect CEO pensions in the case of bankruptcy, Edwards offered a new proposal to prohibit companies from slashing workers' pensions and benefits while protecting their CEOs' pensions and perks.

My Hero - Garofalo

Alternet Copies the Progressive Interview with Janeane Garofalo.

Have you lost work for your anti-war position?

Garofalo: I have. And that's irrelevant to me. I actually lost a potentially lucrative job as the voice for a software company. That's OK. It's no big loss in the big picture. Nobody gives a shit whether I'm the voice of it or not. The more I became involved with the anti-war movement, the more it was clear that they were not going to use me. That's fine. That's their choice.

But the point is I'm not sorry for speaking out for my First Amendment rights. I'm not sorry that I have demanded that my news do its job. I'm not sorry about that. This will potentially be one of the worst chapters in American history that will go on for twenty or thirty years, until democracy, in some fashion, is established

Number of Black Children in Deep Poverty Rising

NY Times -- The number of black Americans under 18 years old who live in extreme poverty has risen sharply since 2000 and is now at its highest level since the government began collecting such figures in 1980, according to a study by the Children's Defense Fund, a child welfare advocacy group.

MSNBC's Banfield Slams War Coverage

Alternet -- Her comments sparked a media controversy which reportedly prompted her NBC employers to severely reprimand Banfield.

How can you discuss, how can you solve anything when attacks from a mere radio flak is what America hears on a regular basis, let alone at the government level? I mean, if this kind of attitude is prevailing, forget discussion, forget diplomacy, diplomacy is becoming a bad word.

"Sucessful Empires Must Be Based on Hypocrisy"

The NY Times - Dowd - Hypocrisy & Apple Pie

Great opening line - Richard Perle is at ease with neo-imperial swagger.

Friedman says Bush should take lessons on governing from Saddam

The NY friggin Times baby. Sorry, I must be channeling Austin Powers.

I Am Getting More Disturbed at MSNBC

So is Dan Kennedy at the Boston Phoenix. After Banfield responded to her own network's Michael Savage calling her "a slut on the air, and that's not all, as a porn star and an accessory to the murder of Jewish children," they issued a statement: "Ms. Banfield does not speak for NBC News." Savage is even an embarrassment to right-wing commentators.

They have finally done it, I am blocking MSNBC from my remote.

Wash. Post -- 20 years of school bashing

Blaming public schools for social ills has a long and dishonorable history, of which the 1983 report is only one particularly egregious example. Yet in the international reading study released this month (and ignored by most media), American students finished ninth among 35 nations. White American students outscored top-ranked Sweden 565 to 561. Americans attending schools with less than 10 percent of the students in poverty (13 percent of all students) scored a whopping 589, and only those attending schools with more than 75 percent of the students in poverty (20 percent of all students) scored below the international average.

More Yellow Times -- "Weapons of Mass Deception"

Yellow Times picks up a few statistics on what happened to those WMDs.

Washington Post On March 16, 2003: "Administration officials, in making the case against Iraq, repeatedly have failed to mention the considerable amount of documented weapons destruction that took place in Iraq between 1991 and 1998. … In that period, under U.N. supervision, Iraq destroyed 817 of 819 proscribed medium-range missiles, 14 launchers, 9 trailers and 56 fixed missile-launch sites. It also destroyed 73 of 75 chemical or biological warheads and 163 warheads for conventional explosives. U.N. inspectors also supervised destruction of 88,000 filled and unfilled chemical munitions, more than 600 tons of weaponized and bulk chemical weapons agents, 4,000 tons of precursor chemicals and 980 pieces of equipment considered key to production of such weapons."

The amounts described here and corroborated by the United Nations would seem to constitute a large percentage of Iraq's WMD or, at least, significant disarmament. Yet over the past year, Iraq's noncompliance was one of the Bush administration's key arguments in support of its invasion plans. In fact, President Bush has referred to WMD at least 200 times in public appearances in the last 16 months alone, invariably mentioning Iraq's reticence to cooperate with the United Nations and the United States. On March 17th, addressing the nation, Bush said, "Since then [the Gulf War] … We have sent hundreds of weapons inspectors to oversee the disarmament of Iraq. Our good faith has not been returned. ... Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime have failed again and again -- because we are not dealing with peaceful men." But such powerful words seem to contradict the fact that Iraq has significantly disarmed since the Gulf War, even if it wasn't "completely" in Washington's eyes.

Washington's expert use of the term "weapons of mass destruction," then, has, through exaggeration and manipulation, created a distorted picture of Iraq's military capability, which then created a much-needed pretext for war -- a preemptive war at that -- and has now proven to be disposable as, suddenly, the phrase that used to be on everyone's lips has become the hottest non-topic.

Dubya's Resume

After noting his past jobs and his performance as President it concludes with:

Records and References:

At least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).

AWOL from National Guard and Deserted the military during a time of war.

Refused to take drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.

All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and un-available for public view.

All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and un-available for public view.

All minutes of meetings for any public corporation I served on the board are sealed in secrecy and un-available for public view.

Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and un-available for public review.

For personal references please speak to my daddy or uncle James Baker (They can be reached at their offices of the Carlyle Group for war-profiteering.)

U.S. Results in Afghanistan - Back to #1 in Heroin Production

In the one-and-a-half years since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the initiation of rule under the US-supported administration of Hamad Karzai, the country has once again become the center of the world's poppy cultivation and the focus of associated mafias who have reopened smuggling routes closed by the Taliban.

According to Pakistani narcotics intelligence agents, the world's many international drug cartels have become active in the region, notably those from Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan itself, all of them attracted by the abundance and low price of the cultivated opium.

Khadduri - ''The mirage of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction''

Yellow Times has the latest in a series of articles by a former Iraqi nuclear weapons scientist stating that Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass desstruction program after the first Gulf War and the Bush administration knew it.

Excerpts -- In late August 2002, I listened with trepidation to President Bush's burgeoning false allegations about Iraq's nuclear military capability. Even then, one could discern that the sustained use of misinformation to support the invasion of Iraq showed that the President's claims were not based on any facts.

In addition to the non-existent nuclear weapons program, two developments in the past two months have convinced me that, since 1991-1992, Iraq did not rejuvenate its chemical or biological weapons programs, either.

The first development was a Newsweek story on March 03, 2003 unveiling, after eight years of suppression, the transcript of Hussain Kamel's debriefing by officials from the IAEA and the U.N. inspection team known as UNSCOM; this debriefing took place after Kamel defected to Jordan in 1995. In it, he affirmed that Iraq had indeed destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles after the Gulf War.

With heightened apprehension, I listened to Vice President Dick Cheney's claim on MSNBC that the U.S. does not accept the results of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) extensive inspections nor its failure to find any evidence of a rejuvenated Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The IAEA explicitly exposed the fact that a uranium procurement document provided by British and American intelligence as a piece of evidence proving Iraq's nuclear weapon capability was, in fact, a planted forgery. Cheney provocatively claimed, on the day before Bush's 48 hours ultimatum to invade Iraq, that U.S. intelligence had proof otherwise.

According to John Barry, who broke the story, the CIA and MI6 were told the same account and "a military aide who defected with Kamel ... backed Kamel's assertions about the destruction of WMD stocks."

Iraq, in January 2003, collected and provided access to UNSCOM to more than twenty personnel who actually participated in the events of the above revelation. UNSCOM then carried out further extensive excavations at that site.

Amer Al Saadi, the chemical engineer and a senior scientific consultant to the Iraqi government, was the first prominent personality to surrender to the American forces after his German wife interceded with a German TV station to arrange for his surrender.

In a ten-minute interview with German TV, Al Saadi asserted that: "I was always telling the truth. Iraq does not have chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. I have nothing to hide. Time will bear me out."

Can men be feminists or only pro-feminists?

and other good stuff including a longer and better take on the breast feeding incidents I covered plus one I didn't in Alas, a Blog. I am pro-breast feeding and pro-breasts.

Persistent Conflict for Gays and G.O.P.

The NY Times on some prominent GOPers and Gays.

Eight years ago, Dick Armey, then the House majority leader, referred to Representative Barney Frank, the prominent gay lawmaker, as Barney Fag. Three years later, Senator Trent Lott infuriated gays when he likened them to kleptomaniacs.

Former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina once called homosexuality "sickening." And Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma once compared a gay business executive who had been nominated to an ambassadorship by President Bill Clinton to David Duke, a onetime Ku Klux Klan leader.

The Log Cabin Republicans are holding their convention next month. They are planning to invite Mr. Santorum as a guest speaker.

Nuclear War Risks Grow As States Seek To Pre-Empt Pre-Emption

A conference on nuclear non-proliferation began in Geneva yesterday, in the shadow of North Korea's departure from the global treaty and with the bleakest prospects for progress in the pact's 33-year history.

WMDs Use Risk Grows as No Weapons Found

Brad Delong is hoping the Bush administration was lying all along because the alternative is Iraq's WMDs are on the loose.

How Deep Is the Current Recession -- The Deepest Since WW2 by One Measure

"The current recession is very shallow insofar as production is concerned (in large part because of the rapid underlying productivity growth trend), moderate as far as the unemployment rate is concerned (in part because lots of people have dropped out of the labor force during this recession), and deep as far as private-sector employment is concerned."

I saw a couple Republicans the other day spinning that we weren't even in a recession.

Somewhat related the Nationa Review claims that Krugman was lying in his column on the incredibly expensive job creation effect of the Presiden't tax cut, PLA exposes the lie in the National Reviews argument.

"We find it highly ironic that Luskin would call Krugman a liar for failing to consider the job creation effects of the tax cut after 2004 when Luskin first links to the CEA report and then ignores its findings on that very subject.

Paul Krugman is not the liar here."

Dwight of PLA also does a good job of explaining the Social Security Trust Fund.

Political Discourse at Washington Party from Salon

Al Franken and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz:

Franken: "Clinton's military did pretty well in Iraq, huh?"

Wolfowitz: "Fuck you."

Rolling Back the 20th Century

The real aim of Dubya's policies is to undo everything since the last Great Depression in The Nation.

A Paul Krugman Archive

PKArchive if you missed your rational politics and economics.

The Skeptical Inquirer on Darwinism and Science Education

I am late picking this up but PSICORP weighed in with the bloggers on "can a future doctor be denied recommendation if he doesn't believe in evolution?" I for one would not go to a religious quack but the Bush administration is investigating what they can do in support of quackery on the grounds of religious freedom.

Another Houston Blogger Comments on Libertarians in Kos on Crack

Greg Wyth also goes to River Oaks movies a lot and has a copy of the upcoming Midnight movies.

The Daily Kos on Filibustering Owens

The Moonie Times on Dean

Barry Casselman is the national political correspondent for the Preludium News Service and an occasional poet and critic. He has very strange opinions, if you bother to track them down on the web. I can see some poet writing this half-smashed on expensive brandy.

Bush Administration Seeks To Alter Anti-Tobacco Treaty To Protect US Tobacco Companies

The draft of the treaty, which calls for nations to adopt a wide range of tobacco-control initiatives, was overwhelmingly approved at a Geneva conference in March. Since then, only the United States and the Dominican Republic have objected, WHO officials said.

William Pierce, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the primary concern of U.S. negotiators is that parts of the treaty could prove to be unconstitutional by interfering, for instance, with tobacco companies' free speech rights. In addition, he said, the treaty calls on Congress to approve policy changes it might not accept -- such as changing the size of warning labels.

Gee, isn't it strange that they only ever worry about free speech for large companies who are also large campaign contributors?

Senate Democrats To Be Selective in Their Filibusters

NY Times -- "We probably could have sustained a filibuster on Mr. Sutton," he told reporters. "But we want to be selective. I don't want to abuse the practice of filibusters."

The notion that the Democrats were being sparing in their use of a filibuster infuriated the Republicans.

In an effort to reproach the Republicans, Mr. Daschle proposed that the Senate immediately vote to confirm Judge Edward Prado, who has been nominated to the same appeals court as has Justice Owen.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, said that it was an effort to demonstrate that the Republicans did not want to move Judge Prado's nomination because it would diminish their ability to claim that the opposition to Mr. Estrada involved his Hispanic heritage. The Republicans declined the proposal to vote on Judge Prado.

Bush Fiscal Management -- U.S. Could Face Default

Wash. Post -- The Treasury Department says the United States could face the prospect of not being able to pay its bills in late May unless Congress raises the government's borrowing authority, now capped at $6.4 trillion.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Wall Street Journal was the Mouthpiece Choosen to Counterattack Graham

WSJ -- Is Graham Crackers?
A Democratic candidate runs against a successful war.

Conservatives Joining ACLU and People for the American Way to Fight Ashcroft

A significant development in the movement to resist the Ashcroft-Bush dismembering of the Bill of Rights is the growing coalition between conservative groups and such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way.

Graham Blasts Bush on Afghanistan, War on Terrorism

Graham said should he be elected president, he would restore the antiterror emphasis, which he said Bush has let lapse, by putting pressure back on the anti-American al-Qaeda network and on Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups aimed primarily at Israel.

"I would point out that we have virtually abandoned the war on terrorism; that we have withdrawn military and intelligence capabilities from Afghanistan and, because of that, al-Qaeda has been able to regroup; that we have not taken on the 'A' team of Hezbollah and the others in Syria and Lebanon; that we have allowed our alliances, which are going to be absolutely critical to winning the war on terrorism, to disintegrate," Graham said.

"I don't think that's a very impressive national security record."

Thomas Hart - Trailer Park Pundit - Wants O'Reilly To Spin On This

...So this is what Mrs. Hart's fair-haired boy has to say to Bill O'Really: Get a REAL job, gas-bag. Go get your dainty, manicured hands dirty and calloused and find out what real working class Amurricans think for a change. Then come on down in the trailer park and tell us what you learned on the real streets of this country. Until then: Please, shut up!

What's it feel like to be in a real "no spin zone," Billy-boy?

Web Site Forced Down, Publisher in Hiding Over Bush Allegations

Long Island Press -- When The Associated Press published a report under the headline "CIA Can Kill Citizens Who Aid Al-Qaida: Bush Doesn't Exempt Americans" by John J. Lumpkin, on Dec. 4, 2002, Vox recoiled at the CIA's new powers. He published an article pointing out that by this logic, the Bush family could be worthy of an instant CIA hit themselves. Both Presidents Bush have had business dealings with Salem bin Laden, the now-dead, once-beloved older brother of Osama. They got to know Salem bin Laden through their Texas pal James Bath and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the now-busted Saudi front for buying political power in the United States.

Although Vox's argument about Bush was adequately made in the article, he now admits he might have poked the hornet's nest by publishing it with the sensationalist headline, "By Bush's Own Policy, He Must Be Immediately Terminated: No Trial, No Explanation, No Warning—Just Immediate Obliteration." It's likely that the Secret Service was not interested in the nuances of Vox's argument about Bush, and interpreted his headline as a direct threat on the president's life.

He had also drawn connections to the Bush family and the Hinckley family - "Well, in the early hours after the attempt on Reagan it was revealed that Scott Hinckley, the brother of would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr., was scheduled to dine that evening at the home of Neil Bush, the son of then-Vice President George Bush."

It was further revealed that Papa Bush and Hinckley's father were friends and fellow oilmen in Texas and Colorado. Hinckley claimed to have supported Reagan, so no suspicion there right? Wrong. Not only did that turn out to be a lie, it turns out that he financed Bush's bid for the nomination against Reagan!

"But there's more. It was revealed that while George Junior [George W. Bush] was running for Congress in Lubbock, Texas. with his brother Neil as manager, guess who else lived in Lubbock? John Hinckley Junior. When probed as to whether the Bush boys had ever met Hinckley during their Lubbock days, our current president said that it was 'conceivable' that they had met. Do you know what that means? That's politician-speak for 'they met.' What should have been the biggest, most investigated story of the Eighties was wiped clear from the face of history."

I haven't seen any updates on this so I assume Vox is still hiding out.

Texas State Democratic Disarray

At meeting’s end, Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) rose and eloquently implored Democrats to hold together. The need for 100 votes afforded the minority party some leverage. And Dems could still vote for a more palatable version of HJR 3 later. Among those promising to come through were Norma Chavez (D-El Paso), who had told the Mexican American Caucus she would vote against the measure, and Kino Flores (D-Mission), who had even signed a pledge card to that effect.

But as soon as they hit the House floor, the plan fell apart. Fourteen Democrats broke ranks, including Flores and Chavez. HJR 3 sailed through untouched with 102 yeas. Weeks later, Democratic nerves in the House are still raw.

Seven of the 14 who voted for HJR 3 are white Democrats from rural, mostly Republican districts. They need conservative credentials to survive. But Democrats feel particularly betrayed by seven who broke ranks–Chavez, Flores, Mike Villarreal (San Antonio), Roberto Gutierrez (McAllen), Jaime Capelo (Corpus Christi), Timoteo Garza (Eagle Pass), and Helen Giddings (Dallas). The seven are virtually immune to Republican threats, boasting districts voting well over 50 percent Democratic in the last statewide election. If just three of the seven had voted no on HJR 3, it would have stalled. Meanwhile back at home, a number of the Democrats who broke ranks are facing growing anger over their support for a plan that would radically restrict their constituents’ access to the courts.

Texas walks away from breast-feeding case

The state of Texas, in its all-too-finite wisdom, has bowed to eons of mammalian evolution and decided that breast-feeding your child is not a sign of unfit parenting.

This is particularly good news for Jacqueline Mercado and her boyfriend, Johnny Fernandez, who have regained custody of their 1-year-old son Rodrigo. Last week, Dallas Observer staff writer Thomas Korosec reported ("1-Hour Arrest") how Mercado and Fernandez ran afoul of the law for the dastardly act of taking a photo of their boy suckling at Mercado's breast. Last fall, the couple had the photos developed at a local drug store. A clerk there saw the image and called Richardson police. Long story short: Mercado and Fernandez wound up indicted for "sexual performance of a child" (though the case was later dropped by Dallas County prosecutors), and Child Protective Services took away their two children and ordered all sorts of onerous counseling and tests.

One writer from Alabama described it as "jack-booted thuggery." It's a proud moment in Texas history when residents of Alabama are appalled by our heavy-handed government.

Cartoons - Why Go To Daytona Beach for Spring Break When You Can Loot Baghdad?

Slate Has News You Missed While You Were Watching the War

Rising Anti-Americanism - In This Case The Argentina Vote

Democracy And Paranoia from StoutDem

In all nations and in all parties, the key to democracy is the right to vote out the leaders in power and replace them with others. Speaking out for a change of leadership is a right we have proudly earned as Americans. If we don't ever use it, we will surely lose it.

Emperor Rumsfeld?

The New Republic is observing Rumsfeld but I think smirking and bellicosity seems to be a trademark of this administration.

NY Times Op-Ed's

Krugman -- Aren't the leaders of a democratic nation supposed to tell their citizens the truth?

Kristof -- "Military experts said that a war between North Korea and the U.S. will end with the delightful victory of North Korea, a newly emerging military power, in 100 hours. . . . The U.S. [will] be enveloped in flames . . . and the arrogant empire of a devil will breathe its last."

That was issued by the North Korean news agency on Sunday. So I guess we've located the blustery Iraqi information minister — he must have taken refuge in North Korea.

Editorial -- The language sets the record clear: brokerage firms compromised their integrity in an effort to curry favor with their banking clients at the expense of individual investors.

Many Quiting the Labor Force after Months and Years of No Offers.

NY Times -- More than 74.5 million adults were considered outside of the labor force last month, up more than 4 million since March 2001, the Department of Labor says. They are people who fall outside the government's definitions of either employed or unemployed.

So, to get the true jobless rate add 4 million which would be about 9% unemployment instead of 5.8%.

Hillary Clinton Blasts Bush Economic Policies

Wash Post - AP -- In a fiery speech Monday night, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused the Bush administration of having the worst economic policies since Herbert Hoover, with no real plan to end the nation's fiscal troubles.

"Even under Saddam pay was better than this"

UK Times -- The new pay schedules, reported as a sucess in most US papers, has led to a strike in Basra.

"Before I turn 67 — next March — I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like."

NY Times -- A personal ad that worked and led to the book A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance.

From a review -- Surprisingly, it's Juska's accounts of visiting the Berg collection at the New York Public Library, or the stories of her writing classes at a prison, that remain in mind, long after her personals game has faded. Old women looking for sex may not seem a hot topic, but there's something universal in this woman's love affair with the written word.

Report from Venezuela -- ''Uh! Oh! Chavez No Se Va!''

Yellow Times -- "Uh, oh! Chavez won't go!" Class warfare has broken out in Venezuela and the neo-cons want to topple another government with oil.

Who Fund$ the NeoCon$?

Information Clearing House -- The Bradley Foundation made 15 grants totaling nearly $1.9 million to the New Citizenship Project Inc., a group Kristol led and which also created the Project for a New American Century, a key proponent of a more aggressive U.S. foreign policy. The foundation also is a significant funding source for the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank with many neoconservative scholars.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Connecticut Marine buried in rare Buddhist funeral at Arlington

SF Chronicle: Surrounded by Marines in crisp blue uniforms, Buddhist monks in flowing orange robes prayed over the casket of Cpl. Kemaphoom Chanawongse Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Chanawongse, 22, was honored in a rare Buddhist prayer service at the cemetery, a ceremony that celebrated his life and the sacrifice he made in dying last month in a firefight in Iraq.

From the Guardian UK

Iraq - Al-Qaida links still dubious

"We are aware of fleeting contacts [between Baghdad and al-Qaida] in the past, but there were were no long-term official contacts," a well-placed source told the Guardian yesterday. "The [newly discovered] documents do not take things further forward"

The Majority Religious Group in Iraq had Protestors Outside of Government Talks

Street protests by thousands of Iraqis and a boycott by leading Shia Muslims today marred US-sponsored talks on the formation of a new government in Baghdad.

William Gibson may give up blogging for his next novel

"If I expose things that interest or obsess me as I go along, there'd be no need to write the book," Gibson said. "The sinews of narrative would never grow. So I think I'm going to say goodbye to whoever's been following it."

Gibson said he may simply leave the site up, and return to it when he finishes his next novel.

The Dean Weblog

Wired -- The New Cold War

Bruce Sterling in Wired Magazine thinks India and China are picking up where the United States and Russia left off.

More Iraq News

Reuters Iraq Focus has some good stuff.

Iraq News

This was 12 links and commentary longer but my careless hit of a link in an email destroyed it.

Mother Jones is blogging on the new Dreadnought of American military power.

That will be it for now until I get the energy to rebuild the Iraqi news of the moment.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Dean as Attack Dog? Or Old Style Centrist? Or Effective Leader?

MSNBC: Attack-Dog Dean -- This week, Dean pounded Rep. Dick Gephardt, deriding his health insurance proposal as “a pie-in-the sky radical revamping of our health care system that has no chance of ever being passed.”

“What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the president’s unilateral intervention in Iraq!”

“What has Congressman Gephardt in his 25 years in office — along with the other candidates running for President — ever successfully accomplished in all their time in Washington toward solving this (health insurance) problem?”

“I’m the only physician in this campaign, and I’m the only candidate who has actually provided nearly universal health care to the people of my state.”

“I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

Common Dreams -- Howard Dean: An Old-Style Centrist

"I think the country is going in the wrong direction both economically and in terms of foreign policy and I don't think the Democrats are going to be able to beat the President with the equivalent of Bush Lite."

"It's a pathetic thing that I'm the most progressive candidate."

"I want each state to be able to make their own gun laws--as much as they want or as little as they want. We don't have much gun control in Vermont, and we also have the lowest homicide rate in America. So why have a big gun control law? Why not let California and New York make as many gun laws as they want but not have them in Vermont and Wyoming and Montana?"

"I don't think you should run for President unless you're willing to use the military might of the United States to defend ourselves. But I don't think that the President ever made a case that Iraq was a particular danger to the United States. And I think that North Korea is a particular danger. Bush is refusing to negotiate with them. The policy is a policy of bullying and intimidation of both our allies and our enemies."

""My attitude, having tried to do it for twenty years in one way or another, is we ought to try to get everyone in the system and then talk about reform. We've done the opposite the first three times we've tried it under Truman, Carter, and Clinton. The result was that we couldn't get anything done. . . . Every time we have that fight about how to reform first, the losers are the forty-two million people who go on for another ten years with no health insurance."

"Few people would have accused him of being a progressive governor in Vermont," says Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (one of the network of consumer and environmental advocacy groups founded by Ralph Nader). "It was not by accident that a strong progressive party was formed while he was governor here as an alternative to some of the positions he was taking."

Vermont now provides coverage to more people than almost any other state, thanks largely to Dean's efforts. Only 1.9 percent of the state's poor children were uninsured in the years 1996-1998, according to a report by the Vermont Agency of Human Services. This was the lowest rate in the country.

Dean may not have a progressive track record like Wellstone or leftwing candidate Dennis Kucinich, but at least he is raising issues that once constituted the core of the Democratic Party's message. He could act as a healthy corrective to a party that seems to have trouble distinguishing itself from the Republicans, even as the Republicans move further and further to the right.

How Many Times Did The President Say Iraq Had WMD's?

Uggabugga has the list. He also has other good graphical stuff.

The Ramsey Clark History

From The LA Times, the strange and controversial history of Ramsey Clark.

Unbelievable -- If You Are A Foreign National On An Airline "Breast Feeding" Is A Terrorist Act

From the Montreal Gazette -- "Weapons of mass distraction" for American businessmen.

Deborah Wolfe, a Canadian citizen who was just breast-feeding her son and changing his diaper while en route between Houston and Vancouver, says her "subversive" actions led to her being threatened with detainment, RCMP involvement and legal charges for terrorist action against a U.S. citizen in international airspace while on an American flight during a time of war.

Real News, Not Like That TV Stuff

Wash Post -- U.S. Still Cannot Find Powell's Weapons of Mass Destruction

Iraqi Fury at U.S. After More Than 12 Die At An Exploding Ammo Dump U.S. Army Refused to Move

Dixie Chicks Pose Nude For E.W. Link is to Yahoo Launch where I have a radio station (detours through a shorter link).

Bully Bush Derides Tax Cut Critics as Out of Touch

Democrats say Bush tax plan won't help economy

Librarians Looking Up Protest Movement Over Patriot Act

"Going into bookstores, going into libraries, finding out what people are reading is not really going to make us safer from terrorism."

Congressman Says Syria Must Roll Over and Support Israel

Movie or Real Life? - Soldiers Attempt to Steal Saddam Fortune

The Latest "Big Mac Index" is Out - China Cheapest, Swiss Most Expensive

California is the Key State For Democrats to take White House - How Is it Looking? Undecided.

Libertarians Should Vote Democratic - Daily Kos, (Google Cache, his site has been down a lot)

It is obvious that on balance, personal freedoms are better protected by Democrats than Republicans. It's also obvious to me that Republicans have surrendered their claim to the monicker "Party of fiscal responsibility" or to notions of "smaller government".

Here is the Libertarian Post in The Light of Reason That Brought On the Kos Comments. The Light of Reason has been regularly blasting Santorum from the Libertarian perspective

Meanwhile, The Libertarians are coming to Idaho, or Montana, or Alaska, or...

Presidential Road Show To Push Tax Cuts Has Tough Sell

BBC - American TV News Not Professional, US Critics Here and Here Agree.

Unprofessional is my take, "wasn't journalism", "gung-ho", and "warmonger" were some of the words they used.

Embedded super-reporter Judith Miller reveals Raiders won 2003 Super Bowl

Boobie Prize
She’s the journalist who recently “revealed” evidence about Iraqi WMDs — evidence her U.S. minders wouldn’t allow her to see, proclaimed by an alleged Iraqi scientist she was not allowed to interview, concerning a chem or bio agent her minders wouldn’t allow her to name!

The internet seems made for sarcasm - this is concerning the front page New York friggin' Times story that "proves" Iraq had WMD's but destroyed them days before we invaded. It appears she might have been after the Pulitzer prize but instead she and the NY Times gets the Boobie prize.

Why the Republican majority (probably) won't last.

"John Judis and I argued that a Democratic majority was likely by the decade's end. That's still where I'd place my bet. But all the evidence I've laid out here suggests that Bush and the Republicans are vulnerable sooner, if Democrats can exploit those weaknesses."

Fox News would be right to rethink 'fair and balanced'

"I don't know about you, fellow cable television viewers, but I've decided. Watching Fox News Channel is like visiting a cult."

Public Opinion Watch - Bush has peaked at much lower than his father

PDF file from The Century Foundation.

BBC -- SARS Death Rate 8% - 15%

They had been saying 4% - 7%.

UK Guardian - How Blair Was Brought To War

Judge: File-swapping tools are legal

A federal judge in Los Angeles has handed a stunning court victory to file-swapping services Streamcast Networks and Grokster, dismissing much of the record industry and movie studios' lawsuit against the two companies.

In an almost complete reversal of previous victories for the record labels and movie studios, federal court Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that Streamcast--parent of the Morpheus software--and Grokster were not liable for copyright infringements that took place using their software.

The case will certainly be appealed. Because different courts have come to very different conclusions about the law, the issue could go as high as the U.S. Supreme Court, a process that would likely take years.

The two pieces of file-swapping software affected by Friday's ruling remain among the most popular downloads on the Net, although they operate deep in the shadow of market leader Kazaa. Morpheus--once the undisputed leader--has fallen to about 120,000 downloads per week, according to, a software aggregation site operated by publisher CNET Networks. Kazaa, by contrast, was downloaded more than 2.7 million times during the past week.

Biblical Errancy: A Reference Guide


Self defense for non-Christians or even liberal Christians.

Dennis also has published two pamphlets that can be handed to Bible believers, asking pertinent questions of their faith. Handy for people coming to your door.

Online original magazine and Index of Bible verses cited in Errancy Magazine

"On a purely practical societal note, all freethinkers should keep in mind that the right wing political figures as... of such prominent public figures as Newt Gingrich, Jessie Helms, Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, and William F. Buckley, to name only a few, is closely allied to the fundamentalism of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, and James Robison. As one gains adherents, so does the other. As one loses supporters, so does the other. They are two sides of the same coin, essentially Siamese twins, the basic difference being that one operates primarily in the politico-economic realm while the other concentrates on the socio-religious domain. The intolerance and insensitivity of one is mirrored in that of the other, and if you oppose one, the day could come when you will be oppressed by the other."

Teresa Nielsen Hayden on Why Burning the Iraqi Museum was a Disaster.

Why it's a bad idea to burn old libraries -- April 21, 2003

She happens to mention The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles as an old document found in an old library.

That inspires this digression. The document is very interesting church history and has some interesting implications. It is the very first religious instruction manual and many churches today have different practices.

Surprisingly, it also condemns abortion. Jesus, as a rabbi, probably would have believed the soul entered the body with the first breath. Getting an unvarnished greek translation of the Bible is great as most of the language is simple and beautiful and free of centuries of buildup of different meanings. "Spirit" or "soul" in modern Bibles is "breath" in the original Greek, "sin" is "mistake", "heaven" is "sky", etc. The Bible is better unvarnished, not necessarily good, but better.

Why did masturbation, an activity regarded with benign indifference for millennia, provoke sweeping moral and medical panic around 1700?

A New York Times review of "Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation,"


USA Today -- Pataki outlines plan to redevelop WTC -- The 1,776-foot steel spire anchoring the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site will be in place by Sept. 11, 2006, and tenants could move in two years later, Gov. George Pataki said Thursday. Here's the drawing.

Illegal Aliens Can Be Held Indefinitely, Ashcroft Says

This will be overturned but how soon? If current trends hold up it could be years or decades.

Noted Briefly

Uggabugga -- The Bush Regime Playing Cards

ABC News -- Children Being Held In Guantanamo Bay

LA Times -- CNN Got Pentagon OK for All Military Analysts

Internet Alchemy -- Seven Habbits of an Anti-Blogger

CNN -- North Korea Admits Having Nuclear Weapons
I don't think I have mentioned this. Another unfortunate "I told you so" to people several months ago who didn't believe me.

Sisyphus Shrugged -- Florida Overturns Stupid Law After State Lawyers Refuse to Defend It

Wash Post -- After Nuclear Research Laboratory Looted US Still Refuses to Inspect It, Would Rather Risk Nuclear Armed Terrorists Than Cooperate With International Agencies

Wash Post -- White House Defend "Inclusive" Santorum, Army-Enron Crook White Resigns, White House Still Obstructing 9-11 Investigation

Andrew Sullivan - Even a conservative radical, but gay, gets it right on Santorum
I worry that the president means well but just doesn't get it. So let me put it another way: Senator Santorum believes that the vice-president's daughter should be made a criminal for her relationship. A criminal. Now do you see what I mean?

Wash Post -- Weapons and Loot Fills Baghdad Bazaars

NY Times -- Krugman, If American Families Knew What Was Best For Them, Most Would Give Up Tax Cuts For Health Care

NY Times -- The Exiles The Iraqi People Don't Want Will Be Put In Charge

NY Times -- Finally Noticing U.S. Doing Almost Nothing In Afghanistan

Administration Unnamed Sources: "We Lied About Iraq to Try to Make A Case and Get Support For the War"

I think I will be saying I told you so about Iraq for years.

Ok, actually it was: "We were not lying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis."

That is as close to an admission of lying as a politician gets.

Support Salon

They give you politics and music and reviews of Beach Blanket Bimbo movies.

"Yeah, that's it! I only love seeing boys suck tequila out of girls' belly buttons because I can't face the fact that the world is going to hell in a handbasket!

"Is this the sort of delusional thinking Joan Didion referred to in "The White Album" as the stories we tell ourselves "in order to live"? Or are these just the stories we tell ourselves in order to point and jeer and giggle like teenagers?"

50 Steps to Armageddon: How Bush Brought Us to the Brink with North Korea

Political Strategy is a new site for me, the Left is springing up all over.

Christians Support England Against the Colonists?

I always try to research more than one side of an issue, one definition of a liberal, and was looking for the Christian counter-arguments of why America is not a Christian nation. I found this American's Christian History

Almost the entire argument on this site, a radio program that appears to be a sermon, is that the original charters in America were often establishing religions for their territories.

But weren't they overthrown by the rebellion? Oh, not to worry, some of the people leading the revolution would quote scripture!. It seems they knew that kicking out the King would fulfill a prophesy.

I really think the world could be better off without some of this lack of thinking.

Looking further, I see the entire site is actually A Bible Law course! I am not giving the main link.

David Neiwert Pegs Rush As Projecting His Own Fascism Onto Gephardt

His blog Orcinus has that as well as some other great work looking at Fascism and Falangism. As he notes: a jingo is not a patriot. My brother and I have had some recent discusions involving the rise of fascism and any differences between that and what the neocon branch of the Republicans are doing. Orcinus posts are great in exploring fascism which seems a terrible shame we have to know more about now.

Was America founded as a Christian nation?

Short answer - no, the religious fundamentalist would disown many of the founding fathers and less than 10% of families at the time of the Revolution were members of congregations.

The official answer to the question is provided by the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796-1797. "As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen..." This was debated and signed by the Senate with no objection to the clause.

The religious language in the Declaration of Independence is taken from Deism and Freemasonry. Both of these hold to a Supreme Being or Power but do not profess belief in the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus (George Washington never mentions Jesus in any of thousands of letters and speeches), or in Hell.

Many fundamentalist who are not particularly well educated and have a shaky grasp of history and different religions simply take God to refer to the Christian God and their associated concepts. They are mistaken on this.

The word God did not appear on currency until after the Civil War and the first major reference to Christianity in any U.S. government document occurred in 1892 when one Supreme Court Judge declared the United States a Christian nation but specified that was a personal opinion only and was not a legal pronouncement.

The Constitution specifies that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" and "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

The Pledge of Allegiance was not created until 1892 and the phrase "under God" was added in 1954. The pledge is somewhat silly anyway, why are you pledging to a flag? If you pledge to anything, all but one other country doesn't have a pledge, shouldn't it be to the Constitution? Office holders have to swear to uphold the Constitution. Under our system of government you should not swear to any leader.

This page here by Jim Walker has more good information but has an annoying javascript that I couldn't shut off.

Battle of the PR Firms

Most of the opinions you hear expressed on television, radio, and newpaper editorials and letters to the editor are the result of public relations campaigns. Here are details of one of the latest from the conservative Israeli lobby.

An organization that tries to keep track of pr campaigns by companies and political groups is PR Watch. Here they give the history and funding of the Global Climate Coalition. This funds the pr campaign that "there ain't no man-made global warming and even if it is it's a good thing."

Friday, April 25, 2003

Would you believe this article has inflamed O' Reilly and the Freepers?

Salon -- It opens "Liberation day
Even those opposed to the war should celebrate a shining moment in the history of freedom -- the fall of Saddam Hussein." and it ends: "It is bursting with all the fires of hope and suffering, it has the flame of lucid courage and all the glow, not only of liberation, but of tomorrow's liberty."

Let it be so in Iraq -- and let us all work to make it so."

Salon has invited O'Reilly to debate Kamiya, one-on-one, via e-mail after O'Reilly said Kamiya ought to leave the country.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'

I had posted this before but this is one of the best recent speeches.

"Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat."

Seeing The Forest Saw That Thom Hartmann Has a Radio Spot Now

Listen if you have a fast connection.

Updated My Links and Template

It took a few tests before it took, should be working now.

Masturbate for Peace -- Using Self-Love to End Conflict

Joining this movement is simple. Just masturbate in your own way, focusing your thoughts and energy towards love and peace. Encourage others to do the same. Also, please fill out the petition and tell us how you intend to masturbate for peace. We will share the most thoughtful petitions on this site.

As hostilities have begun in Iraq, we encourage you to masturbate for a quick resolution to this conflict with a minimum of casualties on all sides.

Bumper Stickers, Poetry, Guide to Sex Toys, etc.

Blix attacks 'shaky' US and UK intelligence on Iraq weapons

UN secretary general Kofi supports him, recently resigned UK foreign secretary Cook also had sharp criticism of US stories.

Yesterday Mr Cook said he doubted that there was a single figure in the intelligence services who believed that a weapon of mass destruction in working order would be found in Iraq, and he called for Mr Blix to be allowed back to Iraq "on the next plane".

I have no problems with Republicans.

I have no problems with Republicans. In fact, I love Republicans as fellow creatures of God. It is Republican acts I object to. As long as they don't commit Republican acts or support others committing Republican acts they are not sinners. I believe Republican acts are a threat to the American family and all citizens. We need to condemn the sin and praise those who refrain from sinning no matter what they call themselves..

Inspired by Senator Santorum

My Liberal CD songs:

Peace Record

1. Ani Di Franco - Self Evident (9:10)
2. John Mellencamp - To Washington (2:42)
3. Chumbawamba - Jacob's Ladder (Not In My Name) (2:52)
4. Billy Bragg - Price of Oil (4:54)
5. Paula Cole - My Hero, Mr. President! (3:51)
6. Stephan Smith, Pete Seeger, Mary Harris, Dean Ween - The Bell (3:27)
7. Enrique Iglesias - Hero (4:19)
8. Raimundo Sodr M'ban Samba (Brazil) (2:21)
9. Tori Amos - Daniel 032203 (4:56)
10. Luka Bloom - Love is a Place I Dream Of (3:25)
11. Soltero - Communist Love Song (3:24)
12. Shana Morrison - I Spy (3:46)
13. Linda Thompson - All I See (4:38)
14. Blind Faith - Can't Find My Way Home (3:16)
15. Enya - Pilgrim (3:12)
16. Civ3 - Late Peace Civilization (1:01)
17. Zevon - Basketcase (3:38)
18. Corky and the Juice Pigs - I'm the Only Gay Eskimo (2:25)
19. Tenacious D - Tribute (4:08)
20. Tenacious D - Screw Her Gently (2:16)

Philip K. Dick Political Quotes

"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words,you can control the people who must use the words."

Philip K. Dick

"To me, the spectacle of demagogues sending millions of people to their deaths, wrecking the world with holy wars and bloodshed, tearing down nations to put over some religious or political 'truth' is -" He shrugged. "Obscene. Filthy - they're the opinions of absolutist individuals forced on whole continents. And it has nothing to do with the sincerity of the leader. Or the followers. The fact that they believe it makes it even more obscene. The fact that they could kill each other and die voluntarily over meaningless verbalisms..." -- 1956

"The dissatisfaction of the masses is not based on economic deprivation but on a sense of ineffectuality. Not an increased standard of living, but more social power, is their fundamental goal. Because of their emotional orientation, they arise and act when a powerful leader-figure can coordinate them into a functioning unit rather than a chaotic mass of unformed elements." -- 1956

ABCNEWS: Fed Says Economy Remains 'Lackluster'

AP -- The central bank's latest nationwide survey of business conditions depicted an economy still struggling to emerge from a pronounced slowdown that began late last year.

Analysts say if the economy shows no further pick-up by that time, there is a strong likelihood that the central bank will trim interest rates again.

Interest rates are so low that cutting them has only minimal effects.

Quick Links

Register To Vote, Vote, And Change The World - Tom Paine

Undercover Among America's Secret Theocrats - Harper's

The Ones Who Pushed For War Against Iraq Have A Long History Of Going After Syria As Well -- Tom Paine

Pizza Hut and Burger King have set up their first franchises inside war-torn Iraq, even as many aid convoys waited on the borders -- SMH (Aus.)

Sugar Industry Worse Than Tobacco Lobby to WHO Guidelines for Health - Blackmail, Misrepresentation, and Intimidation -- Guardian, UK

Candidate Financial Funds and Income Taxes

ABC News - Fund Raising and Reserves

Stanley Schlein, a lawyer for the campaign, said Sharpton had raised about $30,000 by the end of March, and around $100,000 total since then. He will provide specific numbers to the FEC on Monday.

According to the most recent filings from the rest of the Democratic field, Sen. John Kerry of Massachussets had $8 million left to spend; Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina $5.7 million; Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, $4.9 million; Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, $2 million; Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, $1.8 million; Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, about $1.1 million; Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, $50,397; and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, $45,005.

Guardian picks up AP on Income Taxes

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and his wife reported a taxable income of $110,141, while North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and his wife estimated theirs was nearly $1 million. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman and his wife reported taxable income of $334,395 for 2002.

Gay Uproar May Not Hurt Senator Santorum

SF Chron -- Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's comments equating homosexuality with adultery and incest this week -- while prompting howls of protest from Democrats and gay groups -- show no signs yet of jeopardizing his spot as the Republican Party's third-ranking senator.

Several conservative organizations released statements supporting Santorum, while GOP leaders in the Senate remained silent, and White House officials declined to rebuke him Tuesday. Strategists from both parties predicted that unlike the Lott controversy, which festered for weeks before leading to his demotion, a slap at the gay community is likely to be viewed as a problem only for a small segment of voters.

NY Times -- Cheapest Wine is Flying Out Stores

Chuck's OK Wine Republicans are driving me to drink. Chuck could make it affordable.

Tales abound of how, as the holidays approached, customers carted off 10 to 15 cases at a time in their S.U.V.'s. They would buy a bottle, them come back for cases, said one manager of a Trader Joe's store in Emeryville, Calif. Sales of Two-Buck Chuck could reach five million cases this year, Mr. Fredrikson said, adding: "It's the fastest-growing table wine in the U.S. wine industry's history. Here in California, they are currently outselling all the Gallo labels combined."

London sex show courts controversy

Show based on de Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom. ITV, BBC and Reuters have stories.

Gephardt Issues Bold Plan on Health Care

Universal Coverage -- Go Democrats.

My Favorite Columnist at The New York Times

Krugman -- The administration's tax-cut obsession is destroying jobs by preventing any rational response to a weak economy.

Dowd at The New York Times on "Chest Banging"

Even as they stifle their Pax Americana impulses in the Middle East, the imperialists swagger with a Pox Americana at home.

Planning Ahead

3/9/2004 7am-7pm (Tuesday)

3/9/2004 7:15 pm (Tuesday)

3/27/2004 (Saturday)

6/18-19/2004 (Friday-Saturday)
Houston: Texas Democratic CONVENTION

7/18-21/2004 (Sunday-Wednesday)
Boston: Democratic National CONVENTION

AlterNet Has Two More Great Articles

The Death of Local News and Noam Chomsky's Golden Rule.

ACLU -- Stop Congress From Roling Back Key Civil Rights Protections

ACLU Action Report on Religious Liberty.

Two from Jim Hightower

Flying the Corporate Colors and The Irrelevant Congress.

Congress is so pitiful that one Democratic leader said with a pout, "Congress is not irrelevant. We are briefed daily." If you have to say you're not irrelevant... you are.

Administration Wary as Iraqi Shiites Grow in Strength

Toronto Sun -- As Shiite demands for a dominant role in Iraq's future mount, US officials say they underestimated the denomination's organizational strength.

Information Clearing House Still Being Hit By Attackers

Information Clearing House from an email to me - There have been three hacking attacks on the website today. This has taken up a lot of my time and I am unable to update the site with new articles. We are working to correct this problem.

If the site should be attacked again you will need to bookmark this IP and the mirror site

Bush Economy Cutting Local Health Options

Pasadena Citizen, TX -- While it's not yet known how a shortage of state funds will affect the Strawberry Health Center, shortening clinic hours to cut costs remains an option.

Harris County Hospital District's Strawberry Health Center on the city's north side is the only Pasadena clinic serving the needs of the uninsured, making any cuts in service highly undesirable.

"If anything, we need to increase hours - we're going in the wrong direction," said Pasadena Mayor John Manlove. "These are very needed services for people who wouldn't get those services otherwise."

TAP - Why Iraq is the new West Germany

Mentions the recent contradictory statements from the administration on how long we will be in Iraq.

Unintended Consequences

Daily Dish Digest -- Wouldn’t it be ironic if it turns out that the Bush administration has deposed the only secular state in the Middle East and turned it into a fundamentalist Islamic state and breeding ground for terrorism?

Also check The Things We Know So Far about Iraq.

Local Houston Blogger on Texas Governor Perry

Off the Kuff -- I never believed that Perry or Dubya really gave a damn about education funding except for the warm and fuzzy photo ops that they afford. When push came to shove and good times dried up, I knew they'd gut education and not lose sleep over it. I can only hope that there's a political price for [Perry] to pay for this, but given that the next election he'll face is in 2006, I'm not holding my breath.

Free Trade?

Yellow Times -- The logic behind free trade is that prices are determined by supply and demand and that the most efficiently produced goods or services will always win out. In reality, subsidies, financing factors, and industrial oligopolies have created conditions that service only the needs of the powerful trans-national corporations. In the United States, just looking at the agricultural sector, the 2002 Farm Bill authorized farm subsidies totaling $248.6 billion, or about 40 percent of the net farm income. Much of that subsidy flows to major agricultural corporations rather than to farmers.

To put this in some perspective, according to the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy (IATP), it cost an average of $3.41 a bushel to produce corn in the United States and it sold internationally for $2.28 a bushel; it cost between $700-$800 an acre to produce rice which then sold internationally for $650 an acre. In economic parlance, this is called "dumping" and although it is supposedly illegal under NAFTA and the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), it is a political expedient within the United States. According to the United Nations Development Program, U.S. farm subsidies cost poor countries around $50 billion annually in lost agricultural exports.

South America Will Be On Washington's Agenda

Yellow Times -- With the recent elections of Lula da Silva in Brazil and Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador, both considered populist in nature and prone to making neoliberals nervous about the state of the South American economy, the U.S.-backed government of Alvaro Uribe in Colombia is feeling a bit isolated.

Because of this coalescing of many key events: the popularity of "leftist" leaders, Chavez, Lula, and Gutierrez, the continuing tension and friction between Washington and Caracas, the emerging involvement of Venezuela, though at this point only alleged, in Colombia's civil war, the admission on Washington's part of both its commitment to Plan Colombia and the significance of FARC as the source of 44 percent of terrorist attacks against U.S. interests, and the increasing importance of South American oil over the next 25 years, the United States will only become more intimately involved in the region.

Latest Dana Milbank -- The Recent Bush Failure on Faith Based Programs

He has achieved the conservative elements of his agenda -- tax cuts and an aggressive military posture -- with a take-no-prisoners legislative approach. These officials say the "compassion" agenda, the heart of which was the faith legislation, has languished because the issues involved required consensus building and flexibility, not hard-nosed politics.

FAIR's CounterSpin has a good show on Chalabi and General Garner and the Iraq Occupation

MP3 Format

Salon Links

Joe Conason thinks Powell should resign.

Nader in 2004?, Some Greens Say It's Time For Desperate Measures, Back to the Democrats

The Shiites Party in Iraq

Food Porn

Salon Has Another Complaint About O'Reilly in Kamiya vs. O'Reilly

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

How Do People Find Out About This Site?

Last 20 Searchengine Queries Unique Visitors --from Extreme Tracking

21 Apr, Mon, 08:05:09 Google: "Affirmations of a Dissenter"
21 Apr, Mon, 10:14:31 Yahoo: liberal news
21 Apr, Mon, 11:40:48 Google: lesbian spank inferno
21 Apr, Mon, 12:47:20 Google: liberal news
21 Apr, Mon, 12:47:22 Yahoo: Bush used Machiavelli's way on policy
21 Apr, Mon, 15:11:25 Google: nude easter girls
22 Apr, Tue, 00:39:47 Google: affirmitive action and universities and california
22 Apr, Tue, 03:22:09 Google: "Iraq Oil Ministry" "Looting"
22 Apr, Tue, 04:50:27 Google: Poindexter jail editorial
22 Apr, Tue, 05:06:16 Yahoo: liberal news
22 Apr, Tue, 05:08:13 Google: liberal news
22 Apr, Tue, 05:41:26 Yahoo: liberal news
22 Apr, Tue, 06:27:47 Google: lemming
22 Apr, Tue, 06:29:27 Google: Who Said, "The means justifies the end."
22 Apr, Tue, 06:57:34 Yahoo: liberal news
22 Apr, Tue, 08:22:08 Google: lemming
22 Apr, Tue, 10:24:18 Google: barabara bodine
22 Apr, Tue, 10:50:32 Google: doonesbury easter
22 Apr, Tue, 11:45:33 Google: powell "running water" Kurd
22 Apr, Tue, 13:00:43 Google: "david bloom" nbc christian

I am number one on Liberal News in Google and Yahoo, number two (for an archive) on Lesbian Spank Inferno, and number one on Lemming for Google and Yahoo. AOL Search does not have me on the first page for liberal news, but heading the second page, I wonder why?

Santorum Angers Gay Rights Groups, Compares Homosexuality to Bigamy, Polygamy, Incest and Adultery.

What do you think should be legal betweeen consenting adults? Is there anything that should be illegal? Should consenting adults be the criteria or religious based moral codes?

Some Officials Urging Speedy Exit From Iraq

The Onion -- Area Man Supports Troops, except for the assholes he went to high school with.

From Eric Alterman's Altercation, which has other interesting things to say.

Earth Day in Houston

Rice University had a small Earth Day celebration Saturday. I managed to get both a new KPFT sticker and signed up to put Dean on the ballot in the primary. I don't know if I'll vote for him, I'll vote for whoever can kick Bush's ass. I also picked up voter's registration cards for friends who aren't registered. You can do more good by getting people to vote than marching.

A couple of Democratic groups, Green Party, a number of electric vehicles from a club in Houston, a fair number of nature connected booths, a League of Women Voters booth. No Republican or Libertarian booths.

Entertainment for kids and a comedy troupe, polynesian dancers, greek dancers, singer-songwriters, and others for adults. Went to Butera's for dinner later. Great salads, sandwiches are hit-or-miss. Polynesian chicken sandwich sounded much better than it tasted. Very quiet and large, would be a great place for a Houston inner loop book group meeting.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Funny Politics

Bob Hope: "You can't fool all of the people all the time. That's why we have two political parties.

"Today, President Bush announced he's been mispronouncing the name of Iraq all along. He said it's actually pronounced Syria." —Jay Leno

"Hey, today we got the four of clubs. A guy named Samir al-Aziz, a Ba'ath party bad guy. And we now have the four of clubs, the five of clubs, the five of spades and the seven of diamonds. I don't know what game they're playing at the White House, but today, when it was confirmed that we had the four of clubs, Condoleezza Rice had to take off her blouse." —Bill Maher

"Bush cancelled the Easter Egg hunt on the lawn of the White House. His people were afraid that, like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, the Easter Eggs would turn out to be something else that Bush can't find." —Bill Maher

"The Pentagon said this week that the war in Iraq has cost $20 billion so far. The breakdown is operations: $10 billion; personnel: $6 billion; getting Bush re-elected: priceless." —Bill Maher

"Now there are reports from Baghdad that officials are taking bribes for favors, giving jobs to their relatives, taking money under the table from contractors. You know what this means? The war is less than a week old, and already they have an American-style democracy." —Jay Leno

"The Iraqis sat down for talks on how to put together a post-war government. They would have sat down yesterday, but somebody stole all their couches." —Jay Leno

"Now President Bush is saying Syria has weapons of mass destruction. Gee, I wonder where he is headed with this." —David Letterman

"The press keeps asking President Bush when will this war end? I think the war will end officially the day after the 2004 elections. If President Bush learned anything from his father it was don't end a war too soon." —Jay Leno

"All over Baghdad, Iraqi looters have been breaking into banks and walking out with millions of dollars in Iraqi money. As a result, they now qualify for President Bush's tax cut." —Conan O'Brien

"And now the really difficult part: We have to rebuild Iraq into a strong and independent nation that will one day hate the United States." —David Letterman

All but the first from Daniel Kurtzman.

The Nation also has a column on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart which included some great news: more people (4 million) tune in to The Daily Show in a given week than watched Fox news at the height of the war (3.3 million).

Catching Up On The News

I am house and pet sitting at my sister's and have less internet access - AOL at under 30K, double ugh!! - so here are short takes.

MSNBC -- A South Africa private company was offering bioweapons for sale.

UK Independent -- "Liberal" Hollywood revives McCarthyist climate by silencing and sacking war critics.

Wash Post -- Citizen Groups and Local Officials Rise Up to Defy The Patriot Act

UK Independent -- Growing Evidence of White Hall and White House Lies On WMDs.

Wash Post -- Early, Early Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate Coming on ABC.

More on South African BioWeapons.

UK Guardian -- The Greatest Gulf, words like "self", "community," "brotherhood" and "nation" do not mean the same for Muslims - what is the prospect for democracy?

Wash Post -- The War at Home - Who Controls Foreign Policy? Gingrich to urge overhaul of State Department.

CNN -- Right Wing Smear Campaigns against the Left include Fake Emails.

Novak -- The GOP is tired of the Judicial Filibusters.

Liberal Quick Takes.

BBC News -- 10 Unanswered Iraq Questions - Errors or US Propaganda?

NY Times - Dowd -- The Pentagon's Deep Cultural Sensitivity.

CSM -- Venezuela's New Populist Oil Company.

CSM -- Iraqi Christians Worry About Democracy Considering Their Islamic Neighbors.

CSM -- US Companies Worry About World BackLash.

NY Times -- WAR! What Is It Good For? Bechtel Knows.

BuzzFlash notes a West Virginia Paper Calling For Cheney To Resign

NY Times -- Big Upcoming Supreme Court Case - Free Speech for Multinational Corporations?

Chicago Trib -- The "Islam is very evil and wicked" Evangelist Preached at the Pentagon Good Friday.

LATimes -- Art Looted From Iraq Showing Up Elsewhere.

LA Times -- Shiites Get Their Shot at Power, Iraq Minorities Wary.

Dean On Bush -- It's Not Just His Doctrine That's Wrong!

Wired -- Talk About Peace, We'll Pull Your Important Government Contract.

Common Dreams -- Rumsfeld Calls For Regime Change in North Korea in Secret Memo.

Digby's Blog -- What’s Wrong With The Democratic Party?

The Ranter In San Francisco Imagines What The Universe Should Say To Shrub Right Now.

Seeing The Forest -- Creating A Democratic Media Machine - An Amplifier Of Our Own, also in Digby.

LA Times -- Bush is a uniter not a divider - he unified all of the Iraqi neighboring states to issue a warning to us.

Official Transcript - Edward Kennedy -- The Bush / Republican Budget Disaster

The budget that passed the Senate two weeks ago was not a good one. The budget which returned from Conference today is much, much worse.

Meanwhile, 42% of American's don't use the internet and most don't want to. They only have the American mass media for news. Aren't you lucky to find alternative sources?

DallasNews -- Political leaders can no longer ignore religion

Al-Qaeda's basic manual begins its lessons to terrorists by recalling "the fall of our orthodox Caliphates on March 3, 1924." Their explicit grievance is the collapse 80 years ago of the Islamic world in the face of "Christendom," a collapse that can be explained only by Muslims' apostasy from "real" Islam and only be reversed by returning to al-Qaeda's extreme version of Islam.

Hence al-Qaeda and its allies from Algeria to the Philippines fight to impose their version of Islam on Muslims and the rest of the world. The Taliban wanted extremist Muslim rule in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan's Islamic movement in Central Asia, the Philippines' Abu Sayyaf and Indonesia's Jamaah Islamiyah in southeast Asia. Al-Qaeda wants it for the whole world.

Yet we ignore these explicit religious goals and instead interpret their acts through a grid of secular Western nostrums about alienation, economics, or the Middle East. We are told that al-Qaeda's primary grievance is America, or "the West," or freedom, or the plight of the Palestinians. But none of these is primary in their videos and their writings.

Refusing to take religion seriously also undercuts the Bush administration's expressed goal of encouraging democracy in the Islamic world.

Meanwhile, the December meeting of Iraqi opposition groups produced a statement that deviates from Iraq's moderate Muslim traditions and proclaims "Islamic faith is one of the fundamental characteristics of the Iraqi state" and that the "rulings of the Islamic sharia (law) are a key source for legislation." Similarly, the new draft of Palestinian constitution says, "Islam will be the official religion" and "the sharia will be the primary source of legislation."

In each case, there is a marked shift away from moderate Islam toward a more extreme version, a shift the administration has not noticed, or whose dangers it underplays.

I have large excerpts from this because it is going to be important. How to handle the religious differences now that we have whacked the hornet's next and tossed ourselves into the briar patch will be key to our getting out unscratched, unstung, and with a safer world.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Daily Kos Points Out We Are Losing The Peace in Iraq

The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) sounds great on paper. But when faced with a real country, with real problems, the lack of international support is allowing an armed opposition to form under our noses.

James, the Brother of Jesus

It is the riveting contemplation of one of these vessels, an ossuary, a Jewish bone box from antiquity, that drives the hour-long "James: Brother of Jesus," which airs Easter Sunday at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel. This well-paced documentary tackles the question: Could this box, with its 20-letter Aramaic inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," have held the remains of the biblical figure who came to be known as "James the Just"? Is the inscription a forgery, or could the box be the first hard archaeology, the first carved-in-stone proof of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth?

I happen to believe Eisenman, one of the most eminent researchers of early Christianity, who produced a study of the historical milieu at the time of Jesus and came to the conclusion that James, rather than Peter, was heir to his teachings. He also came to the conclusion that some of the Dead Seas Scrolls refer to the battle for the future of Christianity between the original followers of Jesus and the usurper Paul.

New York Times Magazine

An Army With Few Men

Shooting the Enemy - All of Them

Denying Lawyers is Part of The Imperial Presidency

And the Winner Is Bechtel

NY Times -- Awarding the first major contract for reconstruction in Iraq to a politically connected American company under restricted bidding procedures sends a deplorable message to a skeptical world.

Noticing Jon Stewart

NY Times -- On the day of Baghdad's liberation, Mr. Stewart told his viewers that "if you are incapable of feeling at least a tiny amount of joy at watching ordinary Iraqis celebrate this, you are lost to the ideological left." Then he added: "If you are incapable of feeling badly that we even had to use force in the first place, you are ideologically lost to the right." He implored "both of those groups to leave the room now." That would still leave a vast audience.

"One thing is certain: If Saddam is dead, it greatly reduces his ability to control Iraq." But wouldn't his death end his control entirely? asked Mr. Stewart. Not necessarily, argued Mr. Colbert: "When this man appears in public no one is sure it's actually him, and yet he's held an iron grip on power since 1979 — 24 years of brutal dictatorship, all while only maybe existing. The point is we can kill Saddam Hussein but we won't win the war until we kill the idea of Saddam Hussein. So what we need to do is develop bombs that kill ideas."

"It's so interesting to me that people talk about late-night comedy being cynical," Mr. Stewart says. "What's more cynical than forming an ideological news network like Fox and calling it `fair and balanced'? What we do, I almost think, is adorable in its idealism. It's quaint."

New York Times Editorial -- Bush Domestic Policy A Disaster

NY Times -- The key to Mr. Bush's domestic vision has been massive tax cuts, which Republican ideologues see both as a reward to the well-heeled, and a key to starving the government of money that might be spent on programs like health care or housing. Conservatives once viewed deficits as the height of bad fiscal policy. Now, they embrace them. There is no danger that a government swimming in red ink will come up with new programs to protect the environment, to extend health care for the poor or provide affordable housing to the homeless. No matter how much the president says he wants to improve education, the deficit is an all-purpose excuse to avoid helping public school districts overcome crippling cuts imposed by local governments that are teetering on insolvency.

If the pain of millions of newly unemployed workers was the real point, Mr. Bush would have paid at least some attention to a recent report by the Republicans' hand-picked head of the Congressional Budget Office. Using the administration's own tax-cut-friendly method of analysis, he concluded that further tax reductions would have no notable impact on the economy. Yet, the president presses on for another $550 billion in cuts over 10 years.

The one key credential linking all the Bush nominees to the federal bench has been a strong record in opposition to abortion. While as a candidate Mr. Bush barely mentioned abortion, opposition to reproductive rights has been one of the strongest underlying themes of his presidency. Even the much-touted AIDS money for Africa is caught up in the far right's opposition to effective birth control and AIDS prevention strategies.

The president makes a good political general. One of his canniest strategies has been to raise the bar so high that even the smallest of compromises seems like moderation.

We hope that he's successful in the fight against terrorism, and that he brings about a more stable Mideast and a democratic Iraq. But on the domestic front, almost [his] every success cripples the nation's ability to move toward a happy, prosperous future. This is one war we hope he loses.

The New York Times has awakened on the domestic front.

Was Saddam still alive as statue toppled?

UK Guardian News

No role for UN in weapons hunt
The UN is to be cut out of any involvement in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq 'for the foreseeable future'.

Arabs flee revenge of the Kurds
For decades, Saddam 'Arabised' northern Iraq. Now his ethnic cleansing is being reversed, with bloody results.

More on the Army Ignoring Warnings to Protect Museum

Tim Robbins on the Threat to Free Speech in America

"Our voices are lost in tide of intolerance"

A unified American public has grown bitterly divided and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state.

A relative tells me that a history teacher tells his 11-year-old son, my nephew, that Susan Sarandon is endangering the troops by her opposition to the war. Another relative tells me of a school board decision to cancel a civics event that was proposing to have a moment of silence for those who have died in the war, because the students were including dead Iraqi civilians in their silent prayer. A teacher in another nephew's school is fired for wearing a T-shirt with a peace sign on it. A friend of the family tells of listening to the radio down South as the talk show host calls for the murder of a prominent anti-war activist.

A famous middle-aged rock'n'roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to tell me he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel.

Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the [White House press briefing] room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantánamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.

A chill wind is blowing in this nation... In the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition?

Oh, So It Was About The Oil For Israel

Plans to build a pipeline to siphon oil from newly conquered Iraq to Israel are being discussed between Washington, Tel Aviv and potential future government figures in Baghdad.

The plan envisages the reconstruction of an old pipeline, inactive since the end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1948, when the flow from Iraq's northern oilfields to Palestine was re-directed to Syria.

Neocons can get a twofer, punish Syria and help Israel. Link is to Guardian, UK.

100 Iraqi Clerics Denounce US, Call for Muslim State

The NY Times: "We don't want a formal democracy that will give Iraqis the right to say what they want but the government will do what it wants," Sheik Muhammad Fartousi told the gathering at the El Hekmah Mosque in the heart of Baghdad's vast Shiite slum formerly known as Saddam City.

"We are all against the coalition because they are infidels," said Sheik Abbas al-Zubaidi, one of the Shiite clerics who have taken control of several Baghdad hospitals. "We are demanding an Islamic state."

"We will have an Islamic state here that mainly orders good and prevents evil," Mr. Zubaidi said. He added in the state he envisions, "Televisions are not allowed, dominoes are not allowed, women wearing makeup are not allowed, dubbed foreign films are not allowed."

"It will be a state whose laws are written in the Koran," he said.

Real good for building democracy.

Friday, April 18, 2003

The Theft of History

Amy Smith thinks this BuzzFlash article is interesting:

When a People are Deprived of Their History, It is Much Easier to Write a New One for Them. Isn't It?

This devastation of loss to mankind merited barely a word of acknowledgment in the daily Don Rumsfeld disinformation briefings. Instead, he ridiculed coverage of the destruction by dismissively claiming that the television stations were showing the same young man carrying the same vase over and over again.

After all, erasing history -- Iraqi or American -- is what the Bush administration does day in and day out. So what better way to conquer a nation than by allowing its history to be destroyed by looters?

For the Bush Cartel, their truth and lies barely last through the next news hour, before their stories and excuses evolve to meet changing needs. Due to the lack of any meaningful Democratic opposition, they have become emboldened with lying and are almost giddy with weaving increasingly transparent tales of deception.

We have a media machine that rewrites history every news cycle in America. We have a media machine that increasingly relies on the manipulation of symbol and image over meaning, history and experience.

In Iraq, a heinous crime was committed when antiquities and books, our collective heritage as a people of the earth, was destroyed in a few hours of wanton looting, while the Bush Cartel protected the ministry building overseeing oil production in Iraq. It was a win-win situation for the Bush administration. The oil concession for American and British companies was seized and protected. The history of Iraq's rich culture was destroyed.

When a people are deprived of their history, it is much easier to write a new one for them. Isn't it?

Seeing the Forest blogs about several reports that suggest the looting was planned and coordinated with Bush officials. Someone knew to take glass cutters not found in Iraq and had keys to vaults.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal manages to point the finger of suspicion at Saddam.and his family.

"I would personally suggest it was done by Saddam's circle, and my prime suspect would by Uday," says Con Coughlin, author of "Saddam: King of Terror," in an interview. "Saddam and his family are basically cultural vandals. When he left Kuwait he trashed the place. So it makes sense that when he leaves Iraq he took the most valuable items." Saddam's family is essentially "a Mafia family, and Barzan [Saddam's half-brother], the guy arrested Thursday, was basically the bagman."

Saddam had been busy looting the museum long before the war began. A decade ago, Iraq Opposition Radio alleged that "several antiquity collections have found their way outside Iraq and been sold for the benefit of Saddam's family and his cronies." And in October the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported that Saddam had started moving--to a remote town in northwestern Iraq--several truckloads of "gold bars and artworks from museums in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul."

Or, if not Saddam, it was patriotic acts by the Iraqi people: Iraqis laid waste to the museum in Baghdad because it had become the symbol of a hated regime. And little wonder. Saddam stole his country's treasures, hauling off truckloads for his enrichment. But he also misappropriated Iraq's history by making it a tool of his personality cult.

In time some of those objects may find their way back to Baghdad. But with Saddam now gone, their past is once again their own.