Friday, April 30, 2004

Krugman - Too Late

I don't have a plan for Iraq. I strongly suspect, however, that all the plans you hear now are irrelevant. If America's leaders hadn't made so many bad decisions, they might have had a chance to shape Iraq to their liking. But that window closed many months ago.

McCain - Preempting Show Honoring War Dead "Unpatriotic"

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.'s plan to preempt tonight's broadcast of ABC News' "Nightline'' show, on which Ted Koppel is to read the names of all U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, was criticized by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain as "unpatriotic.''

"Every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us,'' McCain, an Arizona Republican, said in a letter to Sinclair Chief Executive Officer David Smith.

Two other lawmakers, Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, and Representative Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat, also criticized Sinclair's decision. McCain, whose committee oversees broadcast policy for the Senate, supported President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq last year.

Sinclair yesterday ordered its ABC affiliates to preempt the "Nightline'' broadcast, saying the program is politically motivated.

Executives of Sinclair are financial supporters of Bush and the Republican Party, and the company's employees give almost exclusively to Republican candidates, according to Federal Election Commission records.

CEO Smith gave $2,000 to Bush in December, the maximum individual contribution allowed. Vice President Frederick Smith gave $25,000, also the legal maximum, to the Republican National Committee in February, according to FEC filings.

In his letter to Smith, McCain called Sinclair's action "a gross disservice to the public and to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic,'' he wrote.

ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., said yesterday the broadcast "is an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country.''

Koppel Defends "The Fallen"

After almost two and a half decades anchoring ABC News' "Nightline," Ted Koppel says he is surprised that anyone could think that his special "The Fallen," scheduled to air Friday night, is a ratings ploy or an attempt to make a political statement.

Another Comment on BuzzFlash

If it's disrespectful to name all those servicemen who have been killed in action, what in the world are we going to do with the Vietnam Memorial?


Ignoring the Dead

I can see only two reasons that the GOP doesn't want to show pictures of coffins from Iraq. Doesn't want to show pictures of dead Americans, Doesn't want to show body bags. Why their officials refuse to attend funerals of the soldiers.

The first reason is political. Acknowledging the deaths brings home the war. They want this to seem a painless occupation. They want to wave the flag and hide the bodies.

The second reason is that they are ashamed. Ashamed they didn't see this coming. Ashamed they hyped the war. Ashamed they cost these young Americans their lives.

I don't think it is the second reason.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Zinni On The Iraq Plan

So you're suggesting the administration came in and said this is what we're going to do, shut up and do it?

Zinni - The worst-kept secret in Washington is that as soon as this administration came in there was talk about taking down Iraq from day one. It's the worst-kept secret in Washington. There were Cabinet meetings where the deputy secretary of defense and others were pushing this. And certainly after 9/11 it was even more intense.

I Digested this from Tbogg

Sex, the final frontier

NASA acts to ensure that astronauts don't follow their urges

"NASA is talking about the chemical sterilisation of astronauts on longer journeys," Dr Armstrong said, in a talk discussing the problems humanity may face in trying to reach the planets and, eventually, the stars.

Scientists such as Professor Powell are concerned that the emotional fallout from having a crew where some are happier than others, or where relationships are made and then fall apart, could be disastrous. He noted the comments of one Russian cosmonaut about time spent cooped up in the Mir space station that "when you have two people locked up in a very small environment for months at a time, all the conditions for murder are met." Mix in sex, and you almost have the script of Othello in space.

Other scientists have suggested that the best way to ensure there is no interplanetary interplay is to crew the mission with astronauts over the age of 50. "The idea is that they won't be worried about having families and concerned about getting exposed to radiation, because they're getting towards the end of their useful working lives," explained Peter Bond, a British expert on space matters.

"Alongside that is the idea that the ideal Mars mission would have - in Star Trek terms - two Mr Scotts and two Mr Spocks, and definitely no Captain Kirks, or Mr Sulus, or Dr McCoys. You need the Scotts to do the engineering stuff, and the Spocks to do the science. You don't need a Kirk because all he does is issue orders - and kiss any woman in sight."

Teresa Heinz Kerry As Secret Weapon

Long Newsweek cover story of someone more real and direct than Kerry and his staff.

Kerry's wife was a registered Republican until last year, muses publicly that she's not reflexively pro-choice and, perhaps most shockingly, when asked a question, generally answers it. Even the wife of the guy running for city council knows to say it's clear her man will win. But Teresa, when asked for her read on how things are going in her husband's race, says: "I can't tell. The only people I see now are Democrats."

On the matter of what Kerry needs to do to win in this closely divided country, she is equally straightforward. "Be himself, be free or be loose, whatever you want to call it. In some settings you see that and in some you don't." On the topic of her own campaign role, she jokes, "You mean the machinations?"

Asked about her party loyalties, Teresa says, "My late husband understood the marketplace and believed it was incumbent on the government to harness the forces of the market" for the public good. "Historically, the Democratic Party has not really partaken of what's afforded in the marketplace," while Republicans, she says, have gone to the other extreme. "Somewhere between the two lies common sense, and John understands that fully well. What really upsets him now is, the deficit's growing too fast."

When she meets up with Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York at a recent fund-raiser, she confesses that Secret Service protection has her slightly freaked out. At this stage of the race, "it's just not as personal" as it was back in Iowa and New Hampshire, where she really enjoyed long chats with voters. "All politics is personal," Maloney tells her, and gets a hug in return. When Maloney asks her what she thought of the president's speech on Iraq, though, Teresa stiffens. "If this is what America wants, then God bless us all," she answers. "I'm sure he's a good guy deep down, but a little thought" would be appreciated, she says, tapping a finger against her temple.

New Iraq poll: US seen as occupier, not liberator

US soldiers are seen as 'uncaring, dangerous and lacking in respect.'

71 percent (and that figure rises to 81 percent if the Kurdish areas in the north are excluded), now see the US-led coalition as an occupying force and not as liberators. USA Today reports that a solid majority, almost 60 percent, want the US and its allies to leave immediately, even if it means the security situation will deteriorate.

US troops also took a hit in the survey. They are seen by most Iraqis as "uncaring, dangerous and lacking in respect for the country's people, religion and traditions."

"One specific Iraqi complaint against US troops is the widespread perception – whether correct or incorrect – that they have been indiscriminate in their use of force when civilians are nearby," said Gallup's director of international polling, Richard Burkholder.

Except for the Kurds in the north, two-thirds of Iraqis say that US troops "make no attempt to keep ordinary Iraqis from being killed or wounded during exchanges of gunfire," while 60 percent say the troops conducted themselves "badly or very badly."

The Guardian reports that one reason that British commanders, for instance, have refrained from sending more troops to Iraq, especially following the withdrawal of troops from Spain, is that they are wary of "getting sucked into operations determined by heavy-handed American tactics."

More than 50 percent of those surveyed in the Gallup poll said attacks on US troops were "justified" or "sometimes justified," while only a quarter said they were never justified.

The Gallup poll also showed that Iraqis remain optimistic about the future, even if they are copncerned about the present. CNN reports that Iraqis signaled a strong desire to have a democracy, and said that they supported the idea of a transition to an elected government of the kind being advocated by UN special envoy Lakdar Barahimi. Sixty-one precent also said getting rid of Saddam Hussein was worth any hardship.

el - Why can't we declare victory, we got rid of Saddam for you, we are going to give you a democratic government, and then we are going home.

Finally, a new poll conducted by CBS News and The New York Times shows that American support for the war in Iraq has "eroded substantially" over the past few months and that Americans increasingly don't like the way President Bush is handling the conflict.

Asked whether the United States had done the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, 47 percent of respondents said it had, down from 58 percent a month earlier and 63 percent in December, just after American forces captured Saddam Hussein. Forty-six percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, up from 37 percent last month and 31 percent in December.

Will Rogers Had Wisdom - G W Bush Has Something Else

Will Rogers was probably the greatest political sage this country has ever

1. Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.

2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

3. There are 2 theories to arguing with a woman.........neither works.

4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

5. Always drink upstream from the herd.

6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket.

8. There are three kinds of men:
(a) The ones that learn by reading.
(b) The few who learn by observation.
(c) The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

10. If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.

11. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.

Dubya Is Something Else

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
- Governor George W. Bush

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
- George W. Bush

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
- George W. Bush

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."
- Governor George W. Bush

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."
- Governor George W. Bush

"The future will be better tomorrow."
- Governor George W. Bush

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."
- Governor George W. Bush

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
- Governor George W. Bush

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
- Governor George W. Bush

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."
- Governor George W. Bush

Guns and Peanut Butter

Dowd, I don't always agree with her but she is witty and reflects the conventional wisdom at the New York Times.

So let's see. What's our swell choice here?

A guy who mimed being a fighter pilot on a carrier versus a guy who mimed throwing his medals over a fence?

An incumbent who sticks with the wrong decisions based on the wrong facts versus a challenger who seems unable to stick to one side of any decision, right or wrong?

A Republican who's a world-class optimist, despite making the world more dangerous and virulently anti-American, versus a Democrat who looks like a world-weary loner, even as he pledges to make the world safer and more pro-American?

A president who can't go anywhere without his vice president to give him the answers versus a candidate who can't go anywhere without his campaign butler/buddy to give him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

Bush campaign strategists don't seem worried that every positive development the administration predicted would happen if we invaded Iraq has soured into the opposite.

Bush strategists seem to believe that the worse Mr. Bush makes things, the better off he is, because nervous Americans will cling to the obstinate president they know over the vacillating challenger they don't know.

Senator Kerry's talent for turning a winning proposition into a losing one is disturbingly reminiscent of Al Gore, who somehow managed to lose an election he won. So is Mr. Kerry's sometimes supercilious manner, and his habit of exacerbating a small thing with an answer that is not quite straight.

el - the press is following the GOP lead to spin Kerry as just like Gore.

VP Race

Vilsack, Gephardt, Edwards Undergo Checks for Veep

Several Democratic officials familiar with the selection process said Wednesday that background checks have been under way for several weeks. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said individuals other than Gephardt, Edwards and Vilsack are under consideration, but they would not identify them nor say how many there were.

BarbaraFox - What I Didn't Say

Soldiers wives and families don't have to support this administration's blunders.

The above was a good antidote for the probably fictional A Time To Speak Up by Lori Kimble which is a pro-Bush pro-GOP email meme.

Jayme Has The Solution For Texas School Funding

As long as the GOP wants to pay for schools with sin taxes go all the way - legalize prostitution.

People outside of Texas sometimes ask why our state legislature only convenes once every two years. The answer, of course, is that they do less damage that way. Unless, of course, the governor decides to call a dreaded Special Session, in which case the lege can do all the damage it wants, whenever it wants.

...Legalize Prostitution. The upsides are enormous. Nevada has enjoyed legalized brothels for decades, and it hasn’t hurt them any. Not when you consider that Las Vegas and Reno successfully bill themselves as “family vacation destinations.” And, frankly, Texas has more historical claim to being the prostitution capital of America than Nevada. He could sign the legislation in La Grange at the grand re-opening of the Chicken Ranch. Then his office could foot the bill to treat the winner of the annual Texas A&M/Texas football game to a visit afterwards, just like in the “good old days.” Increased convention bookings from out-of-state groups would be an added benefit.

Each working girl would be licensed, paying a registration fee, of course. Each house of ill repute would be a licensed, fee-paying contributor to our children’s education. At $ 300 a pop (er… so to speak) a 10 percent state surcharge would net a tidy profit at the end of the year, in addition to the afore-mentioned licensing fees. And the marketing slogans practically write themselves: Cathouses for Kids! or Brothels for Books! trip off the tongue. And I’m certain the entrepreneurial spirit and sense of civic responsibility would pay off in handsome ways. Instead of charging students fees to participate in extra-curricular activities, schools could line up sponsorships and fundraisers with area bordellos. Instead of World’s Finest Chocolate and boring magazine subscriptions, kids could now go door-to-door peddling “Boink a Babe for the Band” certificates. Booster clubs could raffle off $10,000 VIP season-passes instead of pickup trucks and Schlitterbahn tickets. Plus, it has the added bonus of being one source of funding that wouldn’t, ah, dry up.

I was also going to suggest that the revenues could be easily doubled by expanding the legislation to include the licensing of men to serve homosexual clientele, but then thought better of it. Promotion of gay prostitution, you know, just wouldn’t be moral.

What The Rest Of The World Thinks Of The Harris County GOP

The UK Guardian Reports On The Most Powerful Political Party In The World Being Bonkers.

To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first understand what is happening in Texas. To understand what is happening there, you should read the resolutions passed at the state's Republican party conventions last month. Take a look, for example, at the decisions made in Harris County, which covers much of Houston.

The delegates began by nodding through a few uncontroversial matters: homosexuality is contrary to the truths ordained by God; "any mechanism to process, license, record, register or monitor the ownership of guns" should be repealed; income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and corporation tax should be abolished; and immigrants should be deterred by electric fences. Thus fortified, they turned to the real issue: the affairs of a small state 7,000 miles away. It was then, according to a participant, that the "screaming and near fist fights" began.

I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was "watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The motion they adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Arab states should be "pressured" to absorb refugees from Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever it wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism. Good to see that the extremists didn't prevail then.

...So here we have a major political constituency - representing much of the current president's core vote - in the most powerful nation on Earth, which is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. Its members see the invasion of Iraq as a warm-up act, as Revelation (9:14-15) maintains that four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates" will be released "to slay the third part of men". They batter down the doors of the White House as soon as its support for Israel wavers: when Bush asked Ariel Sharon to pull his tanks out of Jenin in 2002, he received 100,000 angry emails from Christian fundamentalists, and never mentioned the matter again.

More From The Atlantic - The Coming Christianity

Evangelical, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Conservative Southern United States religious traditions have exploded out into the third world and will reshape the coming decades.

Christians are facing a shrinking population in the liberal West and a growing majority of the traditional Rest. During the past half century the critical centers of the Christian world have moved decisively to Africa, to Latin America, and to Asia. The balance will never shift back.

The growth in Africa has been relentless. In 1900 Africa had just 10 million Christians out of a continental population of 107 million—about nine percent. Today the Christian total stands at 360 million out of 784 million, or 46 percent. And that percentage is likely to continue rising, because Christian African countries have some of the world's most dramatic rates of population growth. Meanwhile, the advanced industrial countries are experiencing a dramatic birth dearth. Within the next twenty-five years the population of the world's Christians is expected to grow to 2.6 billion (making Christianity by far the world's largest faith). By 2025, 50 percent of the Christian population will be in Africa and Latin America, and another 17 percent will be in Asia. Those proportions will grow steadily. By about 2050 the United States will still have the largest single contingent of Christians, but all the other leading nations will be Southern: Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. By then the proportion of non-Latino whites among the world's Christians will have fallen to perhaps one in five.

The population shift is even more marked in the specifically Catholic world, where Euro-Americans are already in the minority. Africa had about 16 million Catholics in the early 1950s; it has 120 million today, and is expected to have 228 million by 2025. The World Christian Encyclopedia suggests that by 2025 almost three quarters of all Catholics will be found in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The most significant transformation of Christianity in the world today is not the liberal Reformation that is so much desired in the North. It is the Counter-Reformation coming from the global South. And it's very likely that in a decade or two neither component of global Christianity will recognize its counterpart as fully or authentically Christian.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Others also Calling for Three Iraqs

Slate - Should we partition Iraq? Not that I am that happy with my company. But then again I am borrowing from the racist Woodrow Wilson's creed of ‘national self determination.’

How The NYT Is Playing The GOP Image Game

Daily Howler - Wilgoren profiles Kerry’s “valet.”

Peril in the Air for Bush: Howard Stern

Ratings are up since about half of his show is now about why not to vote for Bush.

Stern has been at odds with the FCC for years, but these latest proposed fines, and the looming threat of more, have driven Stern to a new level of apoplexy ? and to broadcasting the most pugnacious anti-Bush vitriol anywhere in the mainstream media. In Stern's view, he is the victim of a witch hunt, singled out by an administration in the grip of fundamentalist Christian ideologues bent on morality regulation.

Although Stern's approximately 8.5 million listeners are often dismissed as overgrown frat boys, they might more accurately be called swing voters. They are overwhelmingly white and male, many are well educated and well off, and they vote. And millions of them listen to Stern's show in battleground states ? Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida ? where the election will be decided.

How bad is this hurting stations that dropped Howard - Gary comes into the studio to deliver some incredible ratings news from San Diego. It turns out that the Clear Channel station that dropped Howard?s show went from an 8.9 with Howard to a 0.7 without him.

BBC - Radio DJ Howard Stern has increased listening figures for his controversial US show, despite being dumped by six stations earlier this year.

The Howard Stern Show - website ratings also way up. Now second most popular celebrity site, after Oprah, with eight million visitors in two days.

Oprah herself is believed to favor Kerry and may slant some airtime his way. She is still mad about Karen Hughes and the White House slamming her on an Afghan trip she was too busy to go on and Bush's slopping mugging! ;-)

Stern and others have compared some language he was fined for on his show with some on Oprah's.


Another good current summary

Four documents that would clear the story up are all missing

Moore lists 4 missing documents that would clear Bush's good name once and for all. It's funny that none of them are in the record that the WhiteWash House keeps insisting is complete. And it's also funny that there is no enterprising reporter in the SCLM who has ever followed up on the story.

[1] The mandatory written report about Bush's grounding is mysteriously not in the released file, nor is any other disciplinary evidence. [2] A document showing a "roll-up," or the accumulation of his total retirement points, is also absent, and so are [3] his actual pay stubs. If the president truly wanted to end the conjecture about his time in the Guard, he would allow an examination of his pay stubs and any IRS [4] W-2 forms from his Guard years. These can be pieced together to determine when he was paid and whether he earned enough to have met his sworn obligations.

And Corrente readers know about the 5:00 horror, right? That's when Bush released the "complete" files?that weren't even complete:

When the Bush administration provided White House reporters with the "complete" file in the dead-news zone of a Friday night in early February, there were about 400 pages. Two hundred forty pages, unavailable to us during the presidential campaign, had suddenly been discovered. Nonetheless, the most important documents were still missing. Reporters just didn't know what was absent.

Reporters didn't know where to look, of course, because they hadn't been following the story in the blogosphere, where the work was being done. Oh well!

Where is the record of why Bush was grounded?

A pilot simply did not walk away from all of that training with two years remaining on his tour of duty without a formal explanation as to what happened and why. This narrative report is the document the public has never seen and the Bush White House is unlikely to ever release. Disciplinary action taken against Bush ought to be a part of his personnel record. No such files have ever been disclosed.

Why were the so-called complete records scrubbed twice before being released?

According to two separate sources within the Guard who saw the printout and spoke with me, the microfiche was shipped to the office of Maj. Gen. Danny James, commander of the Air National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va. James' staff printed out all of the documents on the film and then, according to those same sources, James vetted the material. Subsequent to being scrutinized by James (who commanded the Texas Guard and was promoted to Washington by Bush,) the records were then sent to the White House for further scrutiny prior to release to the news media.

Note that McCain, when the Bush campaign smeared him, signed the authorization for all his records to be released. This, Bush has never done.

What does "clean up the files ... and remove any embarassment" mean?

James ordered a cleanup of the Bush Guard files in 1997. Burkett said he was waiting outside James' office when he heard a speakerphone conversation between the commander of the Texas Guard and Joe Allbaugh, Bush's chief of staff in Texas. Recounting the conversation, Burkett said he heard Allbaugh tell James to "clean up the governor's files and remove any embarrassments in case he wants to run for reelection or something higher."

"Karen [Hughes] and Danny [Bartlett] are going to be coming out to take a look at this file," Allbaugh said. "They're going to write a book."

Where is the microfiche that will tell the whole story?

If it had been cleaned up, as Burkett alleged, the only place to find the complete file would be on the microfiche [in the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver and the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis]. This is undoubtedly why the president has not simply ordered the entire file printed out and released without restriction to news media outlets. The paper records, which may explain the grounding and prove the president did not serve sufficient time to meet his legal obligation to the Guard, have likely been removed from the Austin files. But the microfiche has the whole truth, and that's why its dissemination is being controlled.

And note that the microfiches are still available.

The documents given to Washington reporters [in the 5:00 horror release] were printed from one of those two microfiches.

Who gave the order to the National Guard to stonewall?

Especially when it would be very, very simple for Bush to sign the paper to release all the records?just as John McCain did, and just as John Kerry did.

The stonewalling on this is still succeeding. Reporters calling the National Guard offices in Arlington and the Pentagon are being told the staff is no longer authorized to speak about the president and his time in the Guard. One national reporter, who is still trying to get to the bottom of the controversy, told me the White House said they were not going to talk about the Guard matter any further.

Which draws from the Salon article here.

Bush Following Goebbel's 19 Rules of Propaganda

Karen Kwiatkowski sees where Bush's rules are coming from.

"It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion."

17. Propaganda to the home front must diminish the impact of frustration.

a. Inevitable frustrations must be anticipated

b. Inevitable frustrations must be placed in perspective

Karen also writes: It is increasingly evident that many honorable and experienced soldiers gave important advice to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and President Bush in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and during combat operations in Afghanistan.

Just as evidently, Bush's team of imprudent ideologues played magnificently the role of swine offered pearls. The administration's chronic rejection of good advice has already been revealed as the primary cause for the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of Americans in Iraq, not to mention thousands of Iraqis. History will not be kind to Mr. Bush.

Bush Policical Advisor Compare NOW to Terrorists

"I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life. President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life."

Jon Stewart tonight played the entire tape of former Bush aide, and current campaign representative, Karen Hughes comparing pro-choicers to Al-Qaeda terrorists this past Sunday on Wolf Blitzer's TV show on CNN. Blitzer forgot to ask Hughes if that means Colin Powell, Laura Bush and Barbara Bush, Senior are all terrorists too? Has audio clips.

el - You go girl! If we let women have control over their reproduction, the terrorists have won. Is that the new campaign slogan for the Bush campaign?

The Anti-Creationists

Blog - The Panda'a Thumb

Archive of Anti-Creationist Articles

Those who argue against evolution are arguing against science. The spread of creationism is the most direct evidence of the failure of our educational system.

More on the Cheney Case

The Judges Appeared To Be Searching For A Means To Role In Bush's Favor.

Bush/Cheney Want Elected Dictatorship

Krugman - As Linda Greenhouse recently pointed out in The New York Times, the legal arguments the administration is making for the secrecy of the energy task force are "strikingly similar" to those it makes for its right to detain, without trial, anyone it deems an enemy combatant. In both cases, as Ms. Greenhouse puts it, the administration has put forward "a vision of presidential power . . . as far-reaching as any the court has seen."

What Mr. Cheney is defending, in other words, is a doctrine that makes the United States a sort of elected dictatorship: a system in which the president, once in office, can do whatever he likes, and isn't obliged to consult or inform either Congress or the public.

Not long ago I would have thought it inconceivable that the Supreme Court would endorse that doctrine. But I would also have thought it inconceivable that a president would propound such a vision in the first place.

A Family From Falluja

We saw the corpses in the streets Umm Raed. I sight I can’t forget all my life. No, they were not corpses, they were hands and legs scattered, filling the streets, scattered things. Human flesh scattered. Some of it sticking to the walls of houses. Flying flesh and sticking to the walls of houses.


The day of resurrection, I told myself all the way. There was fighting around us with missiles, hitting the streets, and people running, people inside trucks. Men and women, running away from hell. Every one of them was just thinking of their own life without thinking of anybody else. The smell of death penetrated every place. I couldn’t believe we were still alive.

Thank God. My children are ok. That’s enough.

My children went after a week to get our IDs and clothes, but the neighbors turned them away. They said that the American forces were in the building and broke the locks and entered. Don’t come close, they will shoot at you.

Baghdad Burning Illustrates What Is Happening In Iraq

I think western news networks are far too tame. They show the Hollywood version of war- strong troops in uniform, hostile Iraqis being captured and made to face "justice" and the White House turkey posing with the Thanksgiving turkey... which is just fine. But what about the destruction that comes with war and occupation? What about the death? I don't mean just the images of dead Iraqis scattered all over, but dead Americans too. People should *have* to see those images. Why is it not ok to show dead Iraqis and American troops in Iraq, but it's fine to show the catastrophe of September 11 over and over again? I wish every person who emails me supporting the war, safe behind their computer, secure in their narrow mind and fixed views, could actually come and experience the war live. I wish they could spend just 24 hours in Baghdad today and hear Mark Kimmett talk about the death of 700 "insurgents" like it was a proud day for Americans everywhere...

Still, when I hear talk about "anti-Americanism" it angers me. Why does American identify itself with its military and government? Why is does being anti-Bush and anti-occupation have to mean that a person is anti-American? We watch American movies, listen to everything from Britney Spears to Nirvana and refer to every single brown, fizzy drink as "Pepsi".

I hate American foreign policy and its constant meddling in the region... I hate American tanks in Baghdad and American soldiers on our streets and in our homes on occasion... why does that mean that I hate America and Americans? Are tanks, troops and violence the only face of America? If the Pentagon, Department of Defense and Condi are "America", then yes- I hate America.

The electrical situation is still quite bad in many areas. We're on a schedule of 3 hours of electricity and then three hours of darkness. While it was tolerable during the cool winter months, the hellish summer months promise to be torture.

I also heard today that the Puppets are changing the flag. It looks nothing like the old one and at first I was angry and upset, but then I realized that it wouldn't make a difference. The Puppets are illegitimate, hence their constitution is null and void and their flag is theirs alone. It is as representative of Iraq as they are- it might as well have "Made in America" stitched along the inside seam. It can be their flag and every time we see it, we'll see Chalabi et al. against its pale white background.

Bloggers are Editors and Filters For The News

The Iraq War Reader: Newspapers have abdicated their duties in getting to the "truth" of a story. [I'd add TV even more so.] Instead, in the name of objectivity, they simply report the he-said, she said on how much some new initiative will cost, as if there were no way to empirically determine the answer. Bloggers rarely link to this kind of story. The most widely-read ones seek out some piece of writing on the web where a person has actually determined the real answer, or gotten an on the record quote, or put forth an question no else has asked, and then they link to it, saying, in effect, 'If you believe me, then you can believe this.'

As blogging spreads, this is where mainstream journalism's cult of objectivity may finally meet its downfall. Because today's professional journalists are trained to avoid expressing an opinion or taking a side in a story, they end up delivering pap when readers want meat. I'm not much of a historian of journalism, but it's my impression that this was not the case a century ago, when newspapers were more openly aligned with different political parties (a situation still prevalent in Europe). I've never worshipped at the shrine of objectivity. That's because I cut my teeth at a journal of opinion (The Nation) and also because I had some great teachers, like Gloria Emerson and Andy Kopkind, who showed me how so-called temples of objectivity like the New York Times were totally political places. The difference between the Times and Pravda was that in the Soviet Union, readers knew they had to read between the lines of Pravda. Here, we have had a more effective myth of objective journalism, at least until recently.

Those Illegal Farm Subsidies

America's lavish handouts to its farmers harvest poverty throughout the developing world. And they are illegal as well. That's the conclusion of a World Trade Organization panel that heard Brazil's challenge to the cotton subsidies that belie this nation's commitment to free and fair trade.

The W.T.O.'s talks on the further liberalization of trade faltered over the subsidy issue at CancĂșn last year, but this week's ruling will vastly strengthen the position of Brazil and others advocating the dismantling of agricultural subsidies that distort trade. The sooner they prevail, the better.

"Have you no sense of decency, sir?"

E. J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post on the GOP smear campaign against John Kerry.

Funny, isn't it? When Bill Clinton was running against Republican war veterans in 1992 and 1996, the most important thing to GOP propagandists and politicians was that Clinton didn't fight in Vietnam. Now that Republican candidates who didn't fight in Vietnam face a Democrat who did -- and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts while he was there -- the Republican machine wants to change the subject.

When Bush faces a Vietnam War hero in an election, a Vietnam veteran perfectly happy to trash his opponent always turns up. In the case of Ted Sampley, the same guy who did Bush's dirty work in going after Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries is doing the job against Kerry this year. Sampley dared compare McCain, who spent five years as a Vietnam POW, with "the Manchurian Candidate." Now, Sampley says that Kerry "is not truthful and is not worthy of the support of U.S. veterans. . . . To us, he is 'Hanoi John.' "

One person who is outraged by the attacks on Kerry is McCain. When I reached the Arizona Republican, I found him deeply troubled over the reopening of wounds from the Vietnam era, "the most divisive time since our Civil War." He called Sampley "one of the most despicable characters I've ever met." McCain said he hoped that in the midst of a war in Iraq, politicians "will confront the challenges facing us now, including the conflict we're presently engaged in, rather than refighting the one we were engaged in more than 30 years ago."

McCain recalled that he had worked with Kerry on "POW/MIA issues and the normalization of relations with Vietnam" and wanted to stand up for his war comrade because "you have to do what's right." Speaking of Kerry, McCain said: "He's my friend. He'll continue to be my friend. I know his service was honorable. If that hurts me politically or with my party, that's a very small price to pay."

Now that McCain has spoken, will Bush have the guts to endorse or condemn the attacks on Kerry's service? Or will he just sit by silently, hoping the assaults do their work while he evades responsibility?

Kerry: Not AWOL

Bush: AWOL. I had a personal communication not to be released from a media analyst that there has been a failure of the media to look into the Bush military record in a serious way and hopefully now that they are examining Kerry's record they may feel compelled to look more closely at Bush's.

Orcinus has the latest roundup from the reporting and press releases that is out there.

"I fear this is becoming another example of my press colleagues' deep-seated corruption."

Incomplete searches of my site for AWOL - Google, Atomz. More, but those are what the free searches find.

US Media, Or Is It The CIA, Stays Over A Year Behind

The United States is preparing to significantly raise its estimate of the number of nuclear weapons held by North Korea, from "possibly two" to at least eight, according to U.S. officials.

Way To Protect America

$5 Billion in Antiterror Aid Is Reported Stuck in Pipeline
More than 80 percent of the money approved by Congress to help cities, counties and states since the Sept. 11 attacks has not yet reached local authorities.

Specter's Victory of the GOP Establishment Over Grassroots

Going to the partisan National Review I see they analyze Pat Toomey's loss as a result of the GOP establishment ignoring principles and grassroots to pile on the pressure. I have the same feeling about Kerry's victory over Dean except it was an even more extreme example.

Since very close to half of Toomey's supporters said they felt they could not vote for Specter in the general election I see a possible Democratic pickup. Dean's loss happened earlier enough and the opposition to Bush is so strong the same feeling won't have much influence on the Presidential election. Although I have noticed some activists now refuse to give to the national Democratic party or work for the Kerry campaign.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Outsourcing - He'll Take Your Job and Ship It

No one doubts it lowers prices, the question is what and where are the new jobs?

The greatest investigative reporter of our time speaks

Utne Web Special Interview with Greg Palast

Graphic Buffy - Angel

Playboy photos - Charisma Carpenter AKA Cordelia.

World Naked Bike Ride Day

June 12th (contains nudity)

Possible Breakthrough Physics Experiment

Experiment may invalidate both the Many Worlds hypothesis and the standard Copenhagen interpretation model of Quantum physics.

The standard experiment has been if you do a particle measurement photons appear as particles, if you do a two source wave measure they appear as waves.

Afshar has done a variation of the standard two-pin-hole "welcher-Weg" optics experiment, in which he demonstrates that wave interference is present even when one is determining through which pinhole a photon passes. This result is in direct contradiction to Neils Bohr's Principle of Complementarity, which would require in the quantum world that when one is measuring particle properties, all wave interference phenomena must vanish. Afshar's trick is to find the location of the minimum points of wave interference, place one or more wires at these minimum points, and observe how much light is intercepted when one is determining the pinhole through which the photons passed.

The only interpretation remaining appears to be Cramer's Transactional Interpretation, which involves a forward/back in time handshake. A longer Powerpoint presentation given at a science fiction convention that discusses these findings.

el - So no alternate worlds but yes to time travel? John G. Cramer is both a physicist and a writer of both science and science fiction.

Going around the blog world mainly from Kathryn Cramer's, daughter of John G. Cramer, site which is the first link.

Video of Bush uses woman as human Kleenex

How would you feel about a person who thinks it is okay to grab your shirt and use it clean their eyeglasses? That's how arrogant our President is.

During a commercial break on the David Letterman show, producer Maria Pope was on stage and discussing something with Letterman, and while she was standing there in front of Bush, George leaned forward, grabbed the back of her sweater and used it to clean his glasses.

At NASA, Science Sharply Shifts Course

The New York Times - Much of science not related to human space flight delayed or "indefinitely delayed."

Cheney and his boss


Talk about a book club

On Sale at Amazon
Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books

In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color."

Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage, and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. The books were always the primary focus, however, and they became "essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity," she writes.

They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran.

When a radical Islamist in Nafisi’s class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of “the Great Satan,” she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense.

Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran.

el - As a liberal I consider opposing viewpoints and also support literature and freedom. This book is part of an argument in favor of not abandoning Iraq to religious extremists. This is not an argument for making Iraq a colony of the US exploited for oil and military bases. This is an argument in favor of freedom, not in favor of oppression from either side. You can see the value this administration places on democracy and tolerance everyday both in Iraq and here in America. But it is up to us liberals to now find a way to help fix Iraq, prevent a military occupation but also prevent another Iran. We need to also consider our own religious thought police at home as well.

Dissenting view - While I did learn about a different culture and a different life when I read this book, it did not hold my attention for very long. With so much emphasis on the meaning of her literature and not enough in the lives of the people around her, I felt as though I were sitting in a lecture, not reading a memoir. After awhile, it became more of a chore to read it than a pleasure. Hence, it was not my cup of tea, but quite possibly, it could be yours.

Blogger Neal Pollack Has A Lust For Wonder Woman

No, not some symbolic attraction to powerful women. A real fetish for women who transform into super heroes.

Wal-Mart Vs. Costco

What does paying your workers better get you?

Costco, which has about a 20 percent unionization rate, pays workers 40 percent more than Sam's Club and gives them comparatively superior benefits (for example, health care and profit-sharing plans) to Sam's Club.

Costco, surprise, has a lower turnover rate and a far higher rate of productivity: it almost equaled Sam's Club's annual sales last year with one-third fewer employees. Only six percent of Costco's employees leave each year, compared to 21 percent at Sam's. And, by every financial measurement, the company does better. Its operating income was higher than Sam's Club, as was operating profit per hourly employees, sales per square foot and even its labor and overhead costs. Here's a quote to emblazon for corporate America: "Paying your employees well is not only the right thing to do but it makes for good business," says Costco CEO James D. Sinegal.


The authors point out that Costco recently posted a 25 percent profit gain, as well as a 14 percent sales hike. Yet Wall Street punished Costco's stock, driving it down 4 percent. What gives? As the authors report: "One problem for Wall Street is that Costco pays its workers much better than archrival Wal-Mart Stores Inc. does, and analysts worry that Costco's operating expenses could get out of hand. 'At Costco, it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder,' says Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Dreher."

Attacks halt rebuilding of Iraq

Disaster facing power network as contractors pull out

As predicted, battles starting in Najaf, and in Falujah, with bombs in Baghdad and Osama getting new recruits everyday.

Divided America - Part Three

A Liberal Life In the City By the Bay

God, I so much like this life better than Life is Sweet in Sugarland.

First Article - Political Split Is Pervasive

I am in a better mood about the economy

It is probably drugs but it could be the latest issue of Business 2.0.

The shortage of job positions appears likely to break soon. management and analysts are praising companies that respect their employees and see the faults of most current compensation systems. High tech marches on with some cool gadgets due out within a year. My field of store location analysis is getting more advanced and more respectecd. The creative commons license may give more to artists and less to corporations. To me, it seemed an overall recognition that workers have gotten the short end of the stick recently but that could be or at least should be improving.

Nah, it's probably drugs. You may not be able to access the articles without a subscription, which you can get for $7.99. Magazines really run on advertising. There are a number of good deals on magazines for $13.00 or less. OTOH, go to the library, you need to get out more.

Right Wing Terrorist Targets Liberals and Democrats

Illinois police arrest man named Michael J. Breit for plotting the deaths of government officials.
The search turned up several hundred rounds of ammunition, components for pipe bombs, shotguns, more than 700 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, a cannon fuse and a recipe for dynamite.

The search also turned up a list of federal officials, political and public figures with the word "marked," next to the names. Breit told agents it meant "marked to die," because the people were liberal, opposed to gun rights or opposed to the current government.

Police also found a note that reads: "I will die for my cause, for it is just. I won't put my hands up and surrender -- I will not rest till I purge these United States from the treasonist (sic) parasites."

Also unanswered in the Breit case is the lingering question that almost certainly would be raised were we talking about the arrest of a Muslim man: Is there any evidence that his plans to employ 15 other conspirators to gun down Democrats proceeded beyond the mere fantasy stage? As with the Texas cyanide bomb case, there seems to be relatively little concern about the possibility of active and uncaught co-conspirators.

Iraqis Say Flag Won't Fly

The US picks a flag for Iraq, wonders why the flag which looks nothing like Arab flags but a lot like Israel's is unpopular

Monday, April 26, 2004

A Reminder that I live In Bush Country

A year to the month before they pulled Spalding Gray's body from the East River, I saw Spalding Gray die. It happened on a stage in Houston.

Gray began with a few spontaneous remarks about the war. His voice was strangely quiet, even for him. He sounded distant and weary. His words were barely political. Just wondering aloud, which is what he always did. Why is this administration so intent upon doing this? Lots of people are about to die: Why exactly is this happening? Questions a lot of us were asking ourselves at the time. He made a crack about Donald Rumsfeld, who is as easy and pleasurable a comic target as any figure in American political life since Nixon. Just ordinary wondering and musing.

But his audience was not of New York, or Chicago, or Austin, for that matter. This was Bush Country. And many of the good Republican Houstonians in the house began shouting and jeering, defending the war and its president, and objecting to any such talk goddammit during their night out at the theater.

"We're fighting for your freedom!"

"Love it or leave it!"

"We ain't here to listen to this!"

"Shut up and start the show!"

A number of the offended bolted for the exits, spouses and companions in tow.

"Have you been following the war on TV?" he asked his first onstage visitor.

I don't recall the answer.

Gray responded back that he couldn't bear to watch it.

This infuriated some more among the audience.

He wondered aloud again, asking no one at all if war was necessary "just to get one man."

The house Republicans who remained joined the revolt. More jeering, more partisan bickering. People were leaving now in droves. Mike and I, from our vantage point high up and far away, watched in amazement as the seats emptied, the aisles filled, the chaos reigned below us.

el - I will miss watching more of his monologues.

Missing Female Orgasms in Cleveland

"Remember that the most erogenous part of the body is the mind. If you arouse her mind, then you can do fabulous things with the rest of her."

But when a woman is having trouble, what is a man supposed to do? Sometimes, the answer is nothing. "Dynamite won't even work.

"Sex with a woman is a big project," she admits. "Men have my sympathy."

Kerry condemns firings over coffin photos

Democrat John Kerry on Sunday criticized the firing of two cargo workers who photographed flag-draped coffins of U.S. soldiers, saying such images shouldn't be hidden from the public.

"I believe that keeping faith with those who served also requires us to understand the sacrifice they're making and to honor it when they come home to the fullest measure," the Massachusetts senator said during a rally for his presidential campaign.

"We shouldn't hide that from America," Kerry said to loud applause from his supporters. "If they are good enough to go and fight and die, they're good enough to be received home with full honors in America."

Kerry said the country needs a president who will restore America's influence and respect around the world. "You can't do it just by bluster and swagger," he said.

Holy Site Razed in Iran, Baha'is Say

Government authorities in Iran have destroyed a Baha'i holy site, the Baha'i International Community has learned.

The gravesite of Quddus, a prominent figure in early Baha'i history, has been razed to the ground, despite protests from Baha'is at the local, national, and international levels. "The destruction and desecration of this holy place was carried out with the knowledge of the national government to which appeals had been made beforehand," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

link from Amy

Galbraith - How to get out of Iraq

Give Iraq the Yugoslav solution - a confederation of three states.

el - I believe he is half right. Considering the history of Yugoslavia I believe we should split Iraq in three seperate countries now. The Kurds would love us, and it may mean that or civil war for the rest.


President Bush has promised to listen to military commanders and give the troops whatever they need to defend themselves in Iraq. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said last week that the "the President looks to the commanders in the theater to make the determinations of what is needed for our troops" . Yet the President continues to withhold funding that military officials say is desperately needed to plug shortfalls in armor and protection equipment. And, according to a new study, those shortfalls have meant 25% more American casualties in Iraq.

The White House has "dramatically reduced the number of Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles in Iraq" -- even as the fighting intensified, leaving troops to "ride in lightly protected Humvees, trucks and troop carriers" that are much more vulnerable to attack. - Daily Misleader

White supremacist guilty of murder plot

White supremacist leader Matthew Hale, whose gospel of "racial holy war" was linked to a follower's deadly shooting rampage five years ago, was found guilty Monday of trying to have a federal judge killed.

The defense argued that Hale never asked anyone to kill the judge and that the FBI used an informant to draw him into a murder plot.

During the trial, jurors heard more than a dozen tapes of Hale using racial slurs, including one in which he laughs about the 1999 shooting rampage by one of his followers, Benjamin Smith. Smith targeted minorities and killed two people, including former Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong.

el - I am glad he is behind bars but did the FBI set him up? The only evidence I've seen is an FBI informant offering to kill the judge and Hale's replies: "Well, whatever you want to do, basically. My position has always been that, you know, I'm going to fight within the law and, but, ah, that information's been provided if you wish to, ah, do anything, yourself, you can. So that makes it clear."

In Iraq The Worst Is Yet To Come

It is bad enough that this second Bush war in Iraq has yielded nothing of what was promised by George and his merry crew.

There are no weapons of mass destruction, there was no connection between the deposed Hussein regime and al Qaeda, there was no connection between Hussein and September 11, there will be no democracy for Iraq, and the Iraqi people have most definitely not welcomed us with open arms.

Instead, Bush has mobilized anti-American sentiment to such a staggering degree that Shi'ite and Sunni, enemies for generations past counting, have united to fight us. The invasion and occupation has spurred an al Qaeda recruitment drive that has swelled the ranks of that organization. A lot of people are dead, American and British and Spanish and Polish and Iraqi alike. Nine Americans and 28 Iraqis were killed this weekend alone. The light at the end of this tunnel is an oncoming freight train.

That's not the worst part, however. The worst part is yet to come, in two cities called Falluja and Najaf.

Do the math.

American forces attack Falluja, and become ensconced in a brutal street-to-street fight within the confines of that maze-like city. 300,000 civilians will be caught in the crossfire, and the resulting carnage will enflame the Iraqi people to a degree not yet seen. American forces will absorb brutal casualties. If the U.S. decides to avoid troop casualties by bombing Falluja in a repeat of Shock and Awe, the loss of civilian life will be beyond severe.

Simultaneously, American forces attack Najaf, a holy city central to the spiritual lives of millions of Shi'ites around the world. An explosion of rage will engulf the Middle East. Iran, which has something resembling a real army, could very well drive across the border to engage American forces that are already stretched. This war, already a ridiculous mess, will become an unmitigated catastrophe.

Anyone who thinks Iraq is a bad situation now should reserve judgment until the end of this week. George W. Bush and his crew have clearly forgotten the First Law of Holes: When you find yourself deep in a hole, stop digging.

Molly Ivins Agrees With Maureen Dowd

Bush is living in fantasy land.

Over One Million March For Abortion Rights

Organizers of the March for Women's Lives said they had drawn 1.15 million people, which would make it the largest abortion rights gathering in history.

"This has been the largest march for reproductive rights, the largest march for women's rights and the largest march of any kind in this country," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.

Police would not issue an official estimate, but some veteran commanders said the crowd was at least the biggest since the 1995 Million Man March, which independent researchers put at 870,000 people. D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey would say only that he thought the march had met and perhaps exceeded its organizers' expectations. Their march permit was for as many as 750,000.

Celebrities, from entertainers to politicians to activists, lent their shine to the event. Actors Cybill Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg attended, as did singers Ani DiFranco and Moby. Feminist icons Patricia Ireland and Gloria Steinem were there, and so were former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Billionaire Ted Turner was there. So was NAACP Chairman Julian Bond.

"If all we do is march today," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) told the crowd, "that will not change the direction this country is headed under this administration."

Several blocks away, on Pennsylvania Avenue, Jay Rhodes of Alexandria held a sign equating abortion with the Holocaust. He shouted sarcastically, "Keep murder legal" when marchers challenged his views. "It's very hostile," said Rhodes, 52, who said he came on his own to join counter-protesters who lined part of the march route. "There's a lot of anger on both sides."

Comedy Monday

"Republican Senator Chuck Hagel says it may be time to reinstate the draft. When President Bush heard about that, he said, 'Uh oh, does that mean I have to go back to Alabama?" Jay Leno

"John Kerry has three Purple Hearts for his war wounds and Dick Cheney has one Purple Heart from deep dish pizza." Jay Leno

"Our old friend independent candidate Ralph Nader says he thinks the draft is coming back. ... But then again, Ralph thinks he's coming back." Jay Leno

President Bush used an Associated Press luncheon to address a recent poll showing two-thirds of Americans believe another terrorist attack is 'somewhat likely' before the November elections.

Reassure us, Mr. President!

(Bush footage:) 'Our intelligence is good. It's just never perfect, that's the problem. We're disrupting cells here in America. We're chasing people down. But we've got a big country.'

There you have it. Vote Bush in '04. Because if this were Luxembourg, he could keep us safe." Jon Stewart

"Quite frankly, I think it's a good law. I was going to get an abortion the other day. I totally wanted an abortion.... And it turns out I was just thirsty." on 24-hour abortion waiting periods." - Sarah Silverman

More from The Hamster.

How the Other Half Lives

For a Conservative, Life Is Sweet in Sugar Land, Tex

Political Split Is Pervasive

Veteran political analyst Ben Wattenberg said the crucial question in any election is, "Do the voters think the candidates are people like them?" This year, that question will be asked by two very different sorts of people, by a political system intent on pushing them apart.

el - America is split by politics and geography.

Dowd Has Had It With Bush

It's Bush's reality. We just live and die in it.

In Bushworld, our troops go to war and get killed, but you never see the bodies coming home.

In Bushworld, flag-draped remains of the fallen are important to revere and show the nation, but only in political ads hawking the president's leadership against terror.

In Bushworld, there's no irony that so many who did so much to avoid the Vietnam draft have now strained the military so much that lawmakers are talking about bringing back the draft.

In Bushworld, we're making progress in the war on terror by fighting a war that creates terrorists.

In Bushworld, you pride yourself on the fact that your administration does not leak to the press, while you flood the best-known journalist in Washington with inside information.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Vice president's war costly to Americans

Long before 9/11, the vice president had been strangely obsessed with Iraq. Of all the world's many despots and tyrants, Saddam Hussein was singled out as the most imminent threat to the security of the United States.

There's a loon in North Korea with nuclear weapons, and fanatics in Iran who are getting close. Instead we go after Saddam who, it turned out, barely had the firepower to lob a SCUD missile across the Kuwaiti border.

But Dick Cheney had gotten the war he wanted.

One year later, it's costing us a staggering $4.7 billion a month, or about $157 million per day.

A hefty chunk of that is being spent on support services provided in Iraq by Halliburton, the Texas company that Cheney ran before joining the Bush ticket in 2000.

Latest Recomended Reading

Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species

From a review: There are six profiles and a couple of bonus chapters. The profiles are of Rice, Hughes, Chao, Ann Veneman, Gale Norton and Chrisine Todd Whitman. There is also a chapter on Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney, and an excellent introductory chapter that sets forth Flanders' spot-on theory: That if the media took women seriously, its members would long ago have exposed the vicious, unethical, unprincipled, extremist behaviors of the women in question. Instead, even the most prestigious and "liberal" media outlets talked about the women's clothes, jewelry and family lives, while devoting almost no space or time to their political agendas. The White House and the media have once again colluded--through their shared disdain of women--to pull the wool over the eyes of a public that doesn't want to see the truth.

You may think you already know a lot about the Bushwomen--I did--but you will be surprised by some ugly revelations. From Norton's lifelong quest to abolish the environmental movement, to Chao's similar ambition to quash fair labor standards, to Whitman's enormous financial conflicts of interest while she was a governor, to Hughes' one-woman poison campaign against Governor Ann Richards--Flanders' book shows the White House for what it is.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Iraq - Chaos Kills Dozens

Situation getting worse.

Two Wise Men, One Quasi-Idiot

Krugman - What went wrong in Iraq? Early major errors and a chain of blunders by an administration which had a "pattern of conquest followed by malign neglect." Instead of bringing democracy Iraqis see Bush as bringing corruption and cronyism. This is as administration that refuses to admit and will not learn from mistakes.

Herbert - Sargant Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps, a shining example of liberal muscular idealism.

Kristof - Liberals should hug and be tolerant of intolerant bigots.

New Polls show Kerry ahead on electoral vote

An analysis of statewide presidential polls published Friday by The Hotline shows Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., ahead in the electoral college.

The Hotline's study of reputable statewide polls conducted since January 1, 2004, has Kerry holding an overall lead in 13 states containing 204 electoral votes. President George W. Bush is currently leading in 16 states and has a total of 174 electoral votes out of the 270 necessary for election.

Veterans Jumping Parties to Join Democrats

Wall Street Journal - A Marine Jumps Party Lines to Join Democrats in Trenches

Bush campaign learned from Howard Dean.

American Prospect Online - When I met with George W. Bush’s campaign spokesman, Terry Holt, in January, he couldn’t stop talking about the importance of grass-roots organizing and running a person-to-person campaign that focused on getting people talking to people in their neighborhoods. I thought this sounded a lot like the sort of thing that Howard Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi, was wont to say, and I told Holt this. Replied Holt, “He’s right.”

At a mid-March George Washington University conference on the politics and the Internet, Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman was effusive about the Deanies. “Joe Trippi and Mathew Gross provided an incredible example and an incredible lesson for everyone watching,” said Mehlman in a keynote address. “Give them both a round of applause.” It was one of the odder minor moments of the political season.

On April 29, Bush volunteers will stage another one. That night, the Bush campaign will sponsor a nationwide “Party for the President” that functionally reproduces the Dean campaign’s September 29 “largest conference call in the world,” as Trippi described it at the time. It will be a night of house parties, aka low-dollar fund-raisers that gin up the base. Not only will the Bush backers party at home like the Deaniacs, they’ll get a conference call, too.

Garance Franke-Ruta continues on with how Bush is like Dean and thinks Kerry may beat Bush the same way he beat Dean.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Kerry - War Hero -- Bush - Evaded Duty, Punished

Kerry: Rassman nominated Kerry for the Silver Star -- and to this day, he is perplexed that it was downgraded to the Bronze. "I figure I was dead, because so many people were shooting at me," Rassman said. "He came right up to the bow of the boat and pulled me in. That was stupid."

Bush: The evidence of a disciplinary hearing is mounting. At least two documents now show that Bush's tour of duty was extended by six months. There is a record of Bush and his commander both signing a document that breach of obligations can result in more time being added to length of service. Now it is suspected that the code for him being assigned to the Obligated Reserve Service (subject to immediate active duty call-up if needed) may be a punishment code.

Evidence both of a scrubbing and a disciplinary hearing are the direct disobedience of four written orders: to report back to Ellington after his first transfer was denied, to take his annual physical, and to report to the approved Alabama location on two sets of dates - neither attended. As Guard generals have pointed out, the failure to take the flight physical alone should result in a hearing that is not in the records.

The logical conclusion is that Bush was punished and his followers thought this was embarrassing and cleaned his records.

Many of my entries on this story.

Osama Capured? NO!

Spam Onslaught Leads to Trojan

A persistent new spam campaign that purports to show recipients pictures of Osama bin Laden being captured is in fact a ruse that could lead victims to download a malicious Trojan.

The e-mails have been flooding inboxes all over the Internet since Thursday, carrying a subject line that reads: "Osama bin Laden Captured." The sending address is spoofed, and the messages often appear in tightly grouped batches of eight or 10 e-mails at a time. The text of the message is as follows:

Just got this from CNN Osama Bin Laden has just been captured! A video and some pictures have been released. Go to the link below for pictures, I will update the page with the video as soon as I can: God Bless America!"

Users who click on the URL in the message are taken to what looks like an ad for Viagra. But the Web page also attempts to exploit a vulnerability in Internet Exlorer to download a file named Exploit.exe, which contains a Trojan called Small.B, according to an analysis of the threat by Panda Software, based in Glendale, Calif.

Bush Breaks Heath Care Promise For Retirees

Commission to Allow Insurance Cuts for Retired Employees

In a move that will likely "create anxiety for many of the 12 million Medicare beneficiaries who also receive health benefits from their former employers," the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission voted yesterday to "allow employers to reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they become eligible for Medicare at age 65.

" This comes on the heels of a year which saw "10 percent of firms eliminating coverage for future retirees and 71 percent increasing retirees' contributions for their coverage." Although President Bush claimed that no Medicare bill signed by him would lead corporations "to what they call dump retirees," the bill he did sign allows corporations to do just that. The AARP, which represents millions of Americans over 50 and has been a prominent supporter of the Medicare bill signed by the president, has "strenuously objected" to the EEOC measure, which "creates an explicit exemption to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967."

- Progress Report

"About half of all companies halt medical coverage when retirees reach age 65. Most that continue coverage beyond age 65 provide only supplemental, or secondary coverage behind Medicare. Darling said that trend began in the late `80s and continues today because of rising medical and prescription drug costs.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Negroponte: a Rogue for all Seasons

Negroponte pressed Powell to pressure Chile’s and Mexico’s weak-willed leaders to discharge their U.N. ambassadors over Iraq votes.

· Negroponte has sordid human rights record in Honduras.

· A Cruel Joke: Negroponte, the arch authoritarian, teaching democracy to the Iraqis.

· Senate Foreign Relations Committee unlikely to closely scrutinize Negroponte nomination.

· Life under Saddam should prepare Iraqis for the Negroponte era.

A Family in Baghdad

Most services, garbage and phone for example, now look like they require bribes if you want something done.

Losing Our Edge

el - More than 80% of the time I dislike Friedman with a passion. Today, he has one of his few good ones.

Several executives explained to me that they were opening new plants in Asia — not because of cheaper labor. Labor is a small component now in an automated high-tech manufacturing plant. It is because governments in these countries are so eager for employment and the transfer of technology to their young populations that they are offering huge tax holidays for U.S. manufacturers who will set up shop. Because most of these countries also offer some form of national health insurance, U.S. companies shed that huge open liability as well.

Other executives complained bitterly that the Department of Homeland Security is making it so hard for legitimate foreigners to get visas to study or work in America that many have given up the age-old dream of coming here. Instead, they are studying in England and other Western European nations, and even China.

So many of the plutocrats there know that the Bush fiscal policy is a long-term disaster. They know it — but they won't say a word because they are too greedy or too gutless.

We have got to get our focus back in balance, not to mention our budget. We can't wage war on income taxes and terrorism and a war for innovation at the same time.

Panel Recommends Scrapping Video Screen Voting

Panel member Marc Carrel, an assistant secretary of state, said he was "disgusted" by Diebold, which has "been jerking us around." The company, he said, has disenfranchised voters in California and undermined confidence in the new and developing technology of touch-screen voting.

California should ban the use of 15,000 touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems from the Nov. 2 general election, an advisory panel to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley recommended Thursday.

By an 8-0 vote, the state's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel recommended that Shelley cease the use of the machines, saying that Texas-based Diebold has performed poorly in California and its machines malfunctioned in the state's March 2 primary election, turning away many voters in San Diego County.

The recommendation affects 15,000 Diebold touch-screen machines in San Diego, Solano, Kern and San Joaquin counties.

California panel members, however, disagreed. They cited a litany of alleged problems with Diebold in recent months, including its sale of machines to the four counties without federal and state certification, last-minute software fixes before the March election, installing uncertified software in voting machines in 17 counties and still lacking federal approval for its newest voting machines for the November election. They also expressed fears the systems are vulnerable to security breaches.

"In my view we need a clean slate with this vendor," said panel member John Mott-Smith, chief of the state's elections division. "Most of the big problems in the March election came with Diebold equipment. People did not get to vote because these things did not function and that's not acceptable."

The secretary of state's investigative report of the March 2 elections found that 573 of 1,038 polling places in San Diego County failed to open on time because Diebold voting machines malfunctioned. Voters were told to come back later or try voting at the county's elections headquarters.

Diebold Admits Disenfranchising Voters, Faces Decertification

Diebold apologizes for device flaws

The nation's second-largest provider of voting systems concedes that its flagship products in California have significant security flaws and that it supplied hundreds of poorly designed electronic-voting devices that disenfranchised voters in the March presidential primary.

Diebold Election Services Inc. president Bob Urosevich admitted this and more, and apologized "for any embarrassment."

"We were caught. We apologize for that," Urosevich said of the mass failures of devices needed to call up digital ballots. Poll-workers in Alameda and San Diego counties hadn't been trained on ways around their failure, and San Diego County chose not to supply polls with backup paper ballots, crippling the largest rollout of e-voting in the nation on March 2. Unknown thousands of voters were turned away at the polls.

"We're sorry for the inconvenience of the voters," Urosevich said.

"Weren't they actually disenfranchised?" asked Tony Miller, chief counsel to the state's elections division.
After a moment, Urosevich agreed: "Yes, sir."

Seattle journalist and leader Bev Harris took a microphone two feet in front of Urosevich and said, "What we have is a company that lies. Yes, I'll say it -- lies."

California elections regulators expect to make a recommendation today to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley on whether to disallow or "decertify" some or all of Diebold's voting machines -- or electronic voting altogether -- for the November elections.

State officials and other voting industry experts said they expected California's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel, at a minimum, to decertify Diebold's latest TSx touchscreen voting system, purchased by four counties for more than $40 million.

Such a move would send San Diego, Solano, San Joaquin and Kern counties scrambling for a new voting system, and it would mark a first: No other state has decertified a modern, electronic-voting machine since the race to embrace e-voting after Florida's chad-filled difficulties of 2000.

State elections officials hinted they were leaning toward some form of decertification in two reports that took a critical first look at the nation's largest rollout of electronic voting in a presidential primary and Diebold's actions beforehand.

In one report on the March 2 primary, elections analysts and consultants for Shelley's office found "numerous problems and concerns" that suggested that touchscreen voting "may not yet be stable, reliable and secure enough to use in the absence of an accessible, voter-verified, paper audit trail."

State elections officials were dismayed to find that Diebold had sold and installed thousands of its new TSx machines in the state without getting them tested, nationally qualified and even before applying for state certification.

'House of Bush, House of Saud,' Interview with Author

Liberal Oasis - In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, rather than wage a real war on terrorism, [Bush] was very accommodating to the Saudis.

And I focus specifically on what I call “The Great Escape”, this massive operation in which eight airplanes stop in 12 American cities and took 140 Saudis out of the United States, when I believe we should have been interrogating them and seeing what role they would have played…

…You have a time in which no one in the United States can fly. Our skies are completely shut down.

You have Prince Bandar meeting with President Bush on the Truman Balcony in the White House on September 13. And then suddenly all these planes start flying…

…And on the passenger lists, I think the most important name I found was Prince Ahmed bin Salman who…is alleged to have ties to Al Qaeda and advance knowledge of 9/11.

…I’d love to see the 9/11 Commission investigate why and how…those planes left the country. How did they get White House authorization?

The Bush Administration denies that these flights took place.

I got the passenger list. I got photos of the interiors. I believe they did.

I don’t like to speculate as a rule, but all I can suggest is that…Prince Bandar’s been a friend of the family for 30 years. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that they could be complicit, even inadvertently, with terrorism.

The Saudis clearly made this request and they acceded without thinking about it.

House of Bush, House of Saud : The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties

Perle, Still Pimping For Chalabi

He complained that the State Department and the CIA had not created a private army for Chalabi and had not cooperated with him. Perle did not mention Chalabi's name, but it was clear that was who he was talking about (State and CIA famously dropped Chalabi in the mid-1990s when they asked him to account for the millions they had given him, and he could not).

In fact, Perle kept talking about "the Iraqis" when it was clear he meant Chalabi. He said the US should have turned power over to "the Iraqis" long before now.

But here's an interesting contradiction. I said at one point that I thought Bremer should have acquiesced in Grand Ayatollah Sistani's request for open elections to be held this spring, and that if they had been, it might have forestalled the recent blow-up.

Perle became alarmed and said that scheduling early elections would not have prevented the "flare-up" because the people who mounted it were enemies of freedom and uninterested in elections. Perle has this bizarre black and white view of the world and demonizes people right and left.

What struck me was the contradiction between Perle's insistence that the US should have handed power over to Iraqis months ago, and his simultaneous opposition to free and fair elections. The only conclusion I can draw is that he wants power handed to Chalabi, who would then be a kind of dictator and would not go to the polls any time soon.

Link from Suburban Guerrilla

Incomes Dropping, Census Refuses To Release Data

As first reported by the Phoenix last fall, the bureau used erroneous marginal tax rates in calculating 2001 data. As a result, the reports released last September falsely claimed that median after-tax household income remained stable in 2002, when in fact it dropped significantly — probably about 1.5 percent. The Census Bureau conceded the error and promised to redo the figures.

Since then, the words "Available Soon!" have adorned the Web page where the after-tax figures should be. Meanwhile, the original report, containing incorrect data, is still available from the bureau’s main page — as are the September press release and briefing documents that tout the false numbers as evidence that things are not so bad. The bureau has known that this is not true for six months, and has had the corrected data in hand for at least three.

This would hardly be the first time that, given a choice between an upbeat falsehood and a dour truth, the Bush administration embraced the comfortable lie.