Wednesday, June 30, 2004

When Cultures Collide

US military police raid Iraqi detention centre to stop abuse of prisoners

American military police yesterday raided a building belonging to the Iraqi ministry of the interior where prisoners were allegedly being physically abused by Iraqi interrogators.

The raid appeared to be a violation of the country's new sovereignty, leading to angry scenes inside the ministry between Iraqi policemen and US soldiers.


Nashwan Ali - who said his nickname was Big Man - said: "A US MP asked me this morning what police division I was in. I said I was in criminal intelligence.

"The American asked me why we had beaten the prisoners. I said we beat the prisoners because they are all bad people. But I told him we didn't strip them naked, photograph them or fuck them like you did."


Be Afraid

Be very very afraid.

Voting official seeks process for canceling Election Day over terrorism


Today's NYT has an interesting juxtaposition on its op-ed page today. First the paper's editorial chides the administration for saying it will cooperate with congress on investigating the Abu Ghraib scandal and then, well, not cooperating. Then Nicholas Kristoff's opinion piece right beside it chides the 'left' for calling Bush a liar. Not only that, but he compares calling someone who says something that he knows is untrue at the time he's saying it a 'liar' to the rabid right's calling Clinton a serial killer.

It beggars belief.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I've been busy, okay?

And now I've been working all day and I'm tired. If you really are looking for some reading matter, head on over to the Political Animal's blog at the Washington Monthly; Kevin has just been to see F911 and there's close to 500 comments to his thoughts on the movie. Hit a nerve?

(This is one thing I like about Kevin's blog, btw - the conversations in the comments can be quite full of interesting discussion, and often erudite information.)

Cannons need fodder

Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

The U.S. Army is planning an involuntary mobilization of thousands of reserve troops to maintain adequate force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials said on Monday.

The move -- involving the seldom-tapped Individual Ready Reserve -- represents the latest evidence of the strain being placed on the U.S. military, particularly the Army, by operations in those two countries.

My vote for Most Sensitive:

"Sometimes there's a misperception by some of the individuals ... that 'I've done my obligation, I've been in the Army, thank you very much, and I'm done'. But you're not done," the official said.

Translation: We own your butt. Expect to see Canada gain some high-value skills shortly.

Tell it like it is

Yay for Grand Lake Theater. Go see.

Monday, June 28, 2004

New Design in the Wonkery

Visit the Wonkery here ---> link

Visit the Woo Woo Room here ----> link

Liberals should love Bush!

At least according to Kevin Drum of Political Animal. His reasoning?

In a nutshell, this is the great irony of the Bush Doctrine and the Iraq war. Conceived as a means of finally putting to rest "Vietnam Syndrome," it now looks as though it's going to cement it in place for another few decades.

Liberals everywhere should hail the handiwork of Bush and the neocons. For a relatively small cost, we've gotten rid of a truly odious fascist dictator and assured that the American public is less inclined than ever toward military adventurism. What more could we ask for?

Conservatives, on the other hand, should be somewhat less enthralled with Bush and the neocons....

I would rush to point out that it's a pretty expensive lesson.

Fahrenheit 'incendiary' at box office

From today's WP:

"Fahrenheit 9/11," director Michael Moore's scathing attack on President Bush and the administration's response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was the hottest film in America over the weekend. If early estimates are correct, the movie instantly became the top-grossing documentary in the nation's history.


Initially, Hollywood analysts predicted only a modest $10 million opening for the Moore film. The documentary was dumped by Disney, its distributor, despite winning the top award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. But as the pro and con buzz built, $15 million was the sum bandied about. After the movie had sold-out premieres at two theaters in Manhattan on Wednesday, upward of $20 million was considered likely.


Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate, joined Moore on the conference call. "The film played brilliantly this weekend in the 'red states' and the 'blue states,' and the big towns and the small towns," he said. "We played in Peoria. We literally sold out Peoria, Illinois."


The distributors say they plan to add a couple of hundred theaters this coming weekend, and additional theaters the following weekend. By then the competition will include one of the summer's anticipated blockbusters, "Spider-Man 2." "We look forward to joining with 'Spider-Man' to bringing truth and justice all across America," Moore said.

Josh tantalizes

Back from vacation, Josh Marshall teases us with hints about upcoming revelations. Apparently his big scoop will feature something I was always curious about but didn't think anyone was pursuing... the 'sixteen words' that got into the SOTU speech that caused such a ruckus were based in part on a document known to be a forgery. Who forged it and why has never (yet) emerged. Hopefully we'll find out more about this Curious Incident soon.

Like thieves in the night

US moves up transfer of 'power':

The United States transferred political authority to an interim Iraqi government in a five-minute surprise ceremony on Monday morning that was conducted two days before the planned June 30 handover date because of security concerns.


The formal transfer came at a hastily arranged ceremony, held inside the U.S.-controlled Green Zone in Baghdad. U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer handed over a blue portfolio containing a signed document conveying political authority to the chief judge of Iraq's highest court.


Bremer, who has served as America's viceroy in Iraq, flew out of Baghdad on a military transport plane two hours after the ceremony. The occupation administration he headed for the past 11 months was officially dissolved on Monday and will be replaced by a U.S. embassy.

Has kind of a 'get the hell out of Dodge' feel to it, no?

Sunday, June 27, 2004


Heh. The Fine Folk at Blah3 are running this poll: What will the US hand over to Iraq on June 30?

Full Sovereignty
Sovereignty except for military
Sovereignty minus military and voting
Sovereignty minus military, voting, and currency
Essentially nothing
Two ham sandwiches and a quarter
Go here to vote: link.

Old communes don't die...

... they just incorporate.

LATimes has an interesting article here: The Aging of Aquarius.

NYT Editorial Edition

Well, today (actually yesterday) was our big Solstice music fest at the store; I didn't get home until 2:30 AM... Unwinding with a bit of editorializing from the NYT. Seems they too aren't terribly crazy about someone crowning themselves 'messiah' in the Senate building:

There's surely nothing new about indulging messianic conceits on Capitol Hill. But a dozen or more lawmakers allowed power fantasies to balloon a step too far when they honored invitations to the bizarre self-coronation of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon as Messiah at a Senate reception room last March. News has just leaked of the loony event — one of scores of usually mundane photo-op toadyings that occupy Washington lawmakers. Now the attendees are fleeing the record of the crowning as if it were a burning building. "I had no idea," said one in post-coronation remorse.

Mr. Moon, an eccentric billionaire, convicted tax cheat, conservative publisher and power broker, grandly donned scarlet robes and a golden crown at the Dirksen Office Building. "I am God's ambassador, sent to earth with his full authority," he announced.


So far, as nonbelievers wonder at it all, no lawmaker has dared own up to authorizing use of a Congressional sanctuary for such a ludicrous traducing of self-government.

Meanwhile, also in the NYT, Maureen Dowd asks the wholy rhetorical question, "Are they losing it?":

One thing you've got to say for Dick Cheney: No one will ever again dismiss the vice presidency as a pitcher of warm spit. Mr. Major League Potty Mouth has shown that, with obsequiousness to the president and obtuseness to the facts, a vice president can run the world. Right into the ground.


First Vice chewed out The Times for accurately reporting that the 9/11 commission said there was no collaborative relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Then Paul Wolfowitz called the reporters risking their lives in Iraq craven rumormongers. Then came Mr. Cheney's F-word. (Not Fox, the other one.)

Finally, President Bush got agitated when an Irish TV interviewer said most of the Irish found the world more dangerous now than before the Iraq invasion. "First of all, most of Europe supported the decision in Iraq," Mr. Bush declared. (It's all in how you define "Europe.")


As they used to say about the Soviet Union, the defensive Bush imperialists have to keep expanding because they're encircled. Mr. Cheney's gloomy, scary, contentious world view has fueled a more gloomy, scary, contentious world.

Duh. Yes, Mo, they lost it a long time ago.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

GOP to bring NYC to standstill!

From today's WashPost:

The heart of midtown Manhattan will be closed to cars, taxis, delivery trucks and buses for the four-day-long Republican National Convention beginning in late August. Closer to Madison Square Garden, police will bar even pedestrians.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R) outlined the first detailed security plans for the convention, which will run from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, in his weekly radio address on Friday. "The disruptions will be a little bit annoying but minimal," Bloomberg said, adding that the convention will pump $250 million into the local economy.

But the closings he forecast are anything but minimal. Traffic in midtown already moves at less than 4 mph, and the street closures and rerouting -- which will last 13 hours each day -- could bring traffic to a near-standstill. The closures could cost local businesses many thousands of dollars.


Barbara Randall, executive director of the Fashion Center, a nonprofit group that support business improvement in the Garment District, estimates that the security measures will affect nearly 2,000 manufacturing and retail shops in the district, which is centered in midtown. She declined to estimate the cost of the disruptions.

"Deliveries are going to be a problem -- there's no way around it," she said. "When and how these folks are going to take deliveries is going to be a problem for a lot of these small businesses."

City officials have suggested that local businesses reschedule delivery and service visits for after midnight.

Oh, yeah. UPS is glad to schedule post-midnight deliveries. What are these people SMOKING??

Maybe deliverance is in the stars?

Astroworld reads Bush and Cheney's Charts:

Looking at the charts for GW Bush in light of his Solar Return, Progressed Chart and Transits in his Natal Chart, one has to wonder if he is getting ready to sing his swan song, one way or another, hopefully by simply leaving public life and working on his memoirs.

His charts, all of them, do seem to bespeak of his leaving the public stage or at least going through an enormous transition time. Let‘s look at them one by one.

Oh please - we can but hope.

Bush in Ireland

AP reporting:

"I will lead and we'll just let the chips fall where they may," Bush said. "As far as my own personal standing goes, my job is to do my job. I'm going to do it the way I think is necessary. I'm going to set a vision," said the president.
Once again, Bush confuses saying he's a leader with leadership, the claim of setting a vision with actually having a vision.

Then later, same article:

In a reference to the prison abuse scandal involving U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Bush said, "I don't like it when the values of our country are misunderstood because of the actions of some people overseas."
ExCUSE me? Some people overseas? Now the troops he sent to Iraq based on a bunch of bald-faced lies are the equivalent of some random mob of ferriners. And while they were parading prisoners around naked and threatening them with dogs, it wasn't anything that hadn't already been pre-approved at the White House. The gall of the man is enormous (or, an alternate theory, he simply doesn't understand how offensive the remarks his handlers are feeding him are).

I personally don't like it when the values of our country are in danger of being conflated with the values of a tiny cadre of diehard true-believer PNACer neo-cons. But you don't see me bitching to the Irish press, do you?

Jack Ryan: Creepier than I thought

Okay, so you've all heard that Jack Ryan just dropped out of the Illinois senate race over revelations coming out of his divorce to Jeri Ryan. Well, when I heard the tale, I thought he was merely icky, wanting his wife to 'perform' on him in public. Now I find out that the 'incidents in question' took place after she had become famous as the Borg Babe in a Catsuit.

See this WashPost article for details, including this:

It was in the spring of 1998, while Jeri Ryan was still playing Seven of Nine, that her husband took her to some interesting nightspots. Her version of the story emerged in court documents, released Monday, relating to their 1999 divorce and 2000 custody negotiations.


"The clubs in New York and Paris were explicit sex clubs. Respondent had done research. . . . One club I refused to go in. It had mattresses in cubicles. The other club he insisted I go to. . . . It was a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling. Respondent wanted me to have sex with him there, with another couple watching. I refused. Respondent asked me to perform a sexual activity upon him, and he specifically asked other people to watch. I was very upset. We left the club, and Respondent apologized, said that I was right and he would never insist that I go to a club again. He promised it was out of his system.

So it's not exactly a case of 'hey, come on - it's not like anybody here knows us', which, if the partner in question had been willing, I would have been able to say 'oh well, consenting adults'. No, it's a case of 'hey, come on, highly-recognizable actress, do me so everyone will know how hot I am'. Not that I'm saying that these clubs are usually hives of Trekkies or anything, but for an actress on the rise, it certainly doesn't seem to be a great career move (well, depending on 'where' you want your career to go, I guess).

Question for the compu-analysts out there - what are the odds that Jack was having a little bitty issue with his wife's growing fame and wanted to publically re-assert a little manhood on her? Hmmmm?

Meanwhile, Arnold rolls over for pets

I knew Fluffy would win this one...

The hectoring barks of animal lovers convinced Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to reverse himself Friday and keep California's law protecting stray dogs and cats at shelters.

Wow, a politician (and I use the term loosely) who can recognize and back away from a mistake! Do you suppose saner heads in the GOP are wondering if it's not too late to dump Bush and go with Arnold?

Ireland needs tanks to protect Bush?

From the LATimes:

The stopover was Bush's first visit to Ireland, which generally greets U.S. presidents effusively, remembering the generations of Irish who fled famine and poverty to make new lives in the United States. Such visits have usually generated heartwarming photos of presidents visiting ancestral homes or sipping beer with the locals.

But Bush is not expected to be seen in a pub during the trip, and not just because he doesn't drink. The Irish government deployed 2,000 troops and 4,000 police to lock down access to Shannon airport and nearby Dromoland Castle, the medieval fortress and exclusive golf resort in western Ireland where Bush spent the night and will meet today with EU leaders.


Local newspapers ran pictures of long lines of tanks rolling down Irish roads toward Shannon, where Bush touched down at 8 p.m. Friday. News reports described the security operation as the largest in the country's history.

Thousands of protesters set up a camp outside the security cordon around Shannon, with shops donating food and passing vehicles honking in solidarity. Naval vessels patrolled the nearby Shannon estuary, arresting three would-be protesters hoping to make their views known from offshore.

All of that was invisible to Bush.


"The Irish — devotees of Kennedy, skeptical admirers of Reagan, rapturous cheerleaders for Clinton — have fallen out of love with the American presidency," Stefanie Marsh wrote in a Times of London commentary. "In Ireland, an American president has for the first time become an overwhelming figure of hate."

So the Potemkinization continues, with minions going to any lengths to insure that Our Leader doesn't have to see how universally hate he is (and is making the rest of us.)

Friday, June 25, 2004

Embedded Patriots

Thanks to the fine folks at Blah3 for pointing to this article:

A potent guerrilla insurgency has formed in and around the Bush presidency--a revolt of old pros in government who strike from the shadows with devastating effect. They tell the truth. They explode big lies. They provide documentary evidence that undermines popular confidence in the Commander in Chief. They prod the media and the political community to ask penetrating questions of the Bush regime. Doubtless, these anonymous sources act from a mixture of motives--some noble, some self-interested--but in present circumstances one might think of them as "embedded patriots."


We don't need to know the identities to grasp that these and other over-the-transom "communications" provided forceful and well-timed contradictions to the White House line. It is also obvious that these leaks could not have come from the lower depths of the bureaucracy. The material is too sensitive for wide distribution. Not to take anything away from aggressive reporters, but the leakers clearly targeted the Post, Times and Journal to achieve maximum impact on Washington. The messages are not from some office crank at the Xerox machine but had to originate among sophisticated and highly placed officers of government.


Cynical readers may resist this explanation, but the motivations within the permanent government are most likely grounded in principle and patriotism, not narrow partisanship. Among bureaucrats, there is always a current of low-level grumbling about the elected leadership, but career civil servants and military rarely take such provocative countermeasures. In this Administration, the level of disgust and alarm is more palpable because Bush has been willing to trash the accepted norms of behavior and to cross perilous thresholds, unaware of the dangers despite many warnings from the professionals. To people who will be in government long after Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld have departed, the Bush crowd looks like the worst possible combination of qualities--it is both incompetent and ruthless.


The President himself did not express alarm at these revelations. He turned aside questions as casually as his lieutenants dismissed the Constitution. Thus, an ominous warning light is now flashing for the Republic: the potential for criminal charges running far up the military chain of command, and for the lodging of impeachment charges against this President and for an international tribunal to examine American war crimes. The connecting facts are not yet visible to support these accusations, but a plausible outline for how they may be connected is well exposed. These matters, in other words, could lead to a constitutional crisis as momentous as Watergate, maybe more serious because the offenses are far more fundamental.

More, much more at link. Read it, email it, quote it. I mean it.

You just can't make up stuff this good

While seated on the bench, an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist. According to the below complaint filed by the Oklahoma Attorney General, Donald D. Thompson, 57, was caught in the act by a clerk, trial witnesses, and his longtime court reporter...

Can I be the first to say 'ewwww'? See the Smoking Gun for more.

Der Vaterland

Okay, so I'm driving down Fairfax County Parkway to see a man about a car (long story). And I'm passing the old Defense Mapping Agency building (old in the sense that in the interim it has become part of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, not that the building is old) and got to wondering if NIMA were now under the control of the Department of Homeland Security.

Which train of thought led to this: I want to request that President Kerry make it a point to change the name of that awful amalgam to something less... reeking of brownshirts and book burnings. Perhaps the Department of Domestic Security?

The Terminator takes on Fluffy

Oh, man - Arnold isn't gonna know what hit him...From the LATimes:

In his brief political career, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has challenged powerful state unions, prison guards and wealthy American Indian tribes alike. But now he is up against a group with far greater numbers and a louder voice: animal lovers.

Schwarzenegger wants to repeal California's comprehensive law forcing animal shelters to hold stray cats and dogs up to six days before killing them, a budget-cutting move that has enraged pet adoption groups.


The Schwarzenegger administration said repealing the Hayden Act could save local governments up to $14 million. As proposed, shelters would be allowed to kill dogs and cats after holding them just 72 hours, regardless of whether the shelters are open to the public during those three days.


Schwarzenegger also would eliminate a requirement that people convicted of animal cruelty be prohibited from owning a pet for three years and be forced to pay for medical care for the animals they have mistreated.

Shelters no longer would be required to search for owners who have embedded microchips in their pets that store addresses and phone numbers.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Links for previous story are here and here.

I must admit I like the yahoo/reuters story (second link) better than the CNN version. According to CNN, Cheney 'uttered an obscenity'. Reuters quotes an aide who reports that Cheney 'unloaded the F bomb'.

Who says journalism can't be colorful?

BTW, I'm surely not the only person who thinks it's funny that Ted Olson resigns the same day Bush is questioned over the Plame Outing, am I?

Projection again

Heh - The Bush campaign is now airing an ad that features rants by Gore and Dean, among others, and calling them Kerry's 'Coalition of the Wild-eyed'. - Link

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney was overheard telling Senator Leahy to 'go fuck' himself. Wonkette has the scoop.

Like, that is so mature. (Aren't you glad the GrownUps are in charge?

Fahrenheit Blast

Long report in today's WashPost about F9/11, which opened at the Uptown.

The documentary includes endless shots of Bush golfing, taking vacations and shaking hands with Saudi oil tycoons at fancy hotels. Moore revives the old pre-Iraq war stereotype of Bush as a hapless, inarticulate bungler but with a twist; Bush is portrayed as lazy, a failure of will and not genes.

"It's so easy to say that Bush is an idiot," Moore said in an interview yesterday. "But I don't say it. You just let his own words and his own pictures do it."

and later:
... With his rapid editing, racing from fact to fact, Moore leaves the impression that Bush and his cronies stood to benefit not just from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but from Sept. 11.

Oh, please. You don't have to be a Conspiracy Theorist, or believe that Bush 'knew about the attacks in advance' to be able to see that 9/11 was the best thing that ever happened to the unmandated selectee. If 9/11 had never happened, Bush's approval numbers would have hovered briefly above 50 and then dropped to his 'Bush is the second coming of Christ' True Believers and stayed there. If 9/11 had never happened, BushCo could never have sold their delightful little war to expand their empire to the oil fields of the Middle East. As bad as 9/11 was for the rest of America, it's important to never forget, it was the luckiest day of George Bush's pathetic little life.

Tone Deaf

From the crowd that sees things the way they want them to be rather than the way they are comes this:

U.S. Immunity in Iraq Will Go Beyond June 30

The Bush administration has decided to take the unusual step of bestowing on its own troops and personnel immunity from prosecution by Iraqi courts for killing Iraqis or destroying local property after the occupation ends and political power is transferred to an interim Iraqi government, U.S. officials said.

The administration plans to accomplish that step -- which would bypass the most contentious remaining issue before the transfer of power -- by extending an order that has been in place during the year-long occupation of Iraq. Order 17 gives all foreign personnel in the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority immunity from "local criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction and from any form of arrest or detention other than by persons acting on behalf of their parent states."


The issue of immunity for U.S. troops is among the most contentious in the Islamic world, where it has galvanized public opinion against the United States in the past. A similar grant of immunity to U.S. troops in Iran during the Johnson administration in the 1960s led to the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who used the issue to charge that the shah had sold out the Iranian people.

"Our honor has been trampled underfoot; the dignity of Iran has been destroyed," Khomeini said in a famous 1964 speech that led to his detention and then expulsion from Iran. The measure "reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of an American dog."

Kind of an interesting definition of 'sovereignty'. Man, with the number of behaviors these guys have come up with that don't qualify as 'torture' by their definition, they really do need to start issuing the Official Dictionary so we can communicate.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Big Dog News

... for those of you living under a rock...

Clinton memoir selling at record pace

00,000 copies Tuesday, the first day it was available, according to Knopf Publishing Group, which published the hardcover edition.

Knopf, which originally shipped 1.5 million copies to stores, has ordered a second printing of 725,000 copies.


"This is a record-breaking number for a work of non-fiction," Knopf President Sonny Mehta said in a written statement.

Read the whole story; the gratuitous 'providing balance' sour-grapes-iness of the Republicans quoted near the end is particularly enjoyable.

I thought lying under oath was an issue?

The 9/11 commission is busy writing its final report, but is still investigating critical facts, including the conduct of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. NBC News has learned that the commission has interviewed two FBI officials who contradict sworn testimony by Ashcroft, about whether he brushed off terrorism warnings in the summer of 2001.

In the critical months before Sept. 11, did Ashcroft dismiss threats of an al-Qaida attack in this country?

At issue is a July 5, 2001, meeting between Ashcroft and acting FBI Director Tom Pickard. That month, the threat of an al-Qaida attack was so high, the White House summoned the FBI and domestic agencies, and warned them to be on alert.

Yet, Pickard testified to the 9/11 commission that when he tried to brief Ashcroft just a week later, on July 12, about the terror threat inside the United States, he got the brush-off.

"Mr. Ashcroft told you that he did not want to hear about this anymore," Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste asked on April 13. "Is that correct?"

"That is correct," Pickard replied.

Testifying under oath the same day, Ashcroft categorically denied the allegation, saying, "I did never speak to him saying that I didn't want to hear about terrorism."


NBC News has learned that commission investigators also tracked down another FBI witness at the meeting that day, Ruben Garcia, head of the Criminal Division at that time. Several sources familiar with the investigation say Garcia confirmed to the commission that Ashcroft did indeed dismiss Pickard's warnings about al-Qaida.

"When you get two people coming forth and basically challenging a sworn statement by the attorney general regarding a critical meeting in the history of the 9/11 event, you raise serious questions about the Attorney General's truthfulness," says Paul Light, a government reform expert and New York University professor.

You not only "raise serious questions about the Attorney General's truthfulness", Paul, you raise questions of impeachable offenses. Or is lying under oath only an issue when the lie is about something that has nothing to do with one's official duties?

Must read: Bush flipflopping in the wind

Mark Kleiman gives us a play-by-play of Bush's acrobatics on the Patients-bill-of-rights issue. Long story short:

So having helped kill all state laws that do the thing he says he's for, and having refused to support a federal law that would do the thing he says he's for, or even a lesser law that would allow the states to do the thing he says he's for, the President's spokesman says the President is still for a patient's bill of rights. I think it's hard to call that either a flip-flop, since the President's actual position remains what it has always been, or a new straddle, since the President's rhetorial position also remais what it has always been. It's just that the actual and rhetorical positions are opposite to one another.

So I think this latest move has to be called neither a flip-flop nor a straddle, but simply a lie.

Thanks to Kevin for the link.

Creepy Zombies take over hill

From today's WashPost:

More than a dozen lawmakers attended a congressional reception this year honoring the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in which Moon declared himself the Messiah and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be "reborn as new persons."

At the March 23 ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding an ornate crown that was placed on Moon's head. The Korean-born businessman and religious leader then delivered a long speech saying he was "sent to Earth . . . to save the world's six billion people. . . . Emperors, kings and presidents . . . have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent."


Some Republicans who attended the event, including Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (Md.), said they did so mainly to salute the Washington Times, a conservative-leaning newspaper owned by Moon's organization. "I had no idea what would happen" regarding Moon's coronation and speech, Bartlett said yesterday.


Use of the Dirksen building requires a senator's approval. Dayton said he gave no such permission, and Stallings said the question of who did so is "shrouded in mystery."

Dems and Reps at this event need to answer this question: what are they doing participating in crowning anybody in a Senate building? And reporters need to find out who authorized the meeting. This is simply disgusting.

How pathetic is this?

From today's Talking Points Memo, with guest blogger John Judis:

But this month, as he was about to leave his post, Bremer told Chandrasekaran that "Iraq has been fundamentally changed for the better" by the occupation. He said that "among his biggest accomplishments ... were the lowering of Iraq's tax rate, the liberalization of foreign-investment laws and the reduction of import duties."

Is this daffy? Set aside for a moment the actual condition of the country. If Iraq's streets were safe and lighted, and its pipelines pumping oil to Western Europe, it would still be better off with the kind of managed economic approach that worked in East Asia rather than the kind of economics that Reagan recommended for post-Carter America. But Bremer's schemes weren't even relevant, let alone appropriate, to the country he was supposed to be administering. What does reducing tax rates do in a country that lacks income and profits and is entirely dependent on foreign aid to run its basic institutions? What good does it do to offer up businesses for sale when no foreign company would dream of investing capital in the current Iraq?

Sounds like a case of 'if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail' to me.

Danger bear!

JUNE 22--The FBI has subpoenaed records related to the online sales of a teddy bear carrying the message "Bush Kills Arabs Dead," apparently as part of a probe into who delivered one of the plush toys to the Michigan home of a federal magistrate, The Smoking Gun has learned.

But, TSG has discovered, the Detroit U.S. Attorney's grand jury investigation will find that the teddy bear, pictured at right, wasn't some sort of a terror threat, but rather a gag gift purchased by a friend of Mona Majzoub, the federal magistrate. Last July, a court panel selected Majzoub, a 55-year-old Arab American lawyer from Detroit, to fill an open magistrate's slot.

More at link.

Looks scary, doesn't he?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Misc Readings

(Hey, I've been busy today, okay?)

Ha-HA-HA! Headline on Reuters story: Bush Tries Compassion as He Courts Ohio Voters

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Campaigning in the battleground state of Ohio, President Bush sought to portray his domestic agenda as compassionate and aligned himself with a welfare measure enacted under Democratic President Bill Clinton.
First he tries to be Reagan, now he's trying to snuggle up to Clinton. Ewww.

Finally. AP sues for access to Bush Guard records

It would have been more in keeping with their civic responsibility if they'd actually pursued this story when it mattered, say in '00. Better late than never, I guess.

In case anyone is in danger of forgetting...

... just who the Republican party truly represents, this graphic (which links to an interesting report from the Economic Policy Institute):

Can there be any doubt left in anyone's mind as to who's really calling the shots in this country? (Thanks to Kevin Drum at Political Animal for the link.)

Wee Hours Edition

Quote of the day award goes to Spencer Ackerman, temping for Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo: "Of course, with Iraq lapsing more and more into Hobbesian chaos, Bush's talk about establishing stable democracy there makes me want to ask him for a urine sample."


Krugman gets 'shrill' on Ashcroft again:

In April 2003, John Ashcroft's Justice Department disrupted what appears to have been a horrifying terrorist plot. In the small town of Noonday, Tex., F.B.I. agents discovered a weapons cache containing fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs and a chemical weapon — a cyanide bomb — big enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building.

Strangely, though, the attorney general didn't call a press conference to announce the discovery of the weapons cache, or the arrest of William Krar, its owner. He didn't even issue a press release. This was, to say the least, out of character. Jose Padilla, the accused "dirty bomber," didn't have any bomb-making material or even a plausible way to acquire such material, yet Mr. Ashcroft put him on front pages around the world. Mr. Krar was caught with an actual chemical bomb, yet Mr. Ashcroft acted as if nothing had happened.


In this case, it sounds over the top to accuse Mr. Ashcroft of trying to bury news about terrorists who don't fit his preferred story line. Yet it's hard to believe that William Krar wouldn't have become a household name if he had been a Muslim, or even a leftist. Was Mr. Ashcroft, who once gave an interview with Southern Partisan magazine in which he praised "Southern patriots" like Jefferson Davis, reluctant to publicize the case of a terrorist who happened to be a white supremacist?

More important, is Mr. Ashcroft neglecting real threats to the public because of his ideological biases?


The discovery of the Texas cyanide bomb should have served as a wake-up call: 9/11 has focused our attention on the threat from Islamic radicals, but murderous right-wing fanatics are still out there. The concerns of the Justice Department, however, appear to lie elsewhere. Two weeks ago a representative of the F.B.I. appealed to an industry group for help in combating what, he told the audience, the F.B.I. regards as the country's leading domestic terrorist threat: ecological and animal rights extremists.

Yep, can't publicize the arrest of all those good ol' boys with the Bush/Cheney bumperstickers on the pickup, can we?

Monday, June 21, 2004

More Housekeeping

Okay, I thought the gift-shop was getting a little schizophrenic so I split it into two shops. Henceforth, you can find my political stuff in Prairie Angel's Wonkery, and my Silly Metaphysics stuff in Prairie Angel's Woo Woo Room.

A Wealth of Readings

I've almost given up hoping for it, but it's starting to appear that the US media is finally shaking off the 9/11-stupor and remembering that they have a responsibility to do more than cheerlead for the administration.

First, the Post takes on Rumfeld's ridiculous charge that the newspapers 'implied' that TortureGate was more than 'a few rogues' in the reserves.

... As supporters of the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have been particularly concerned about the ways that the scandal -- and the administration's continuing failure to come to terms with it -- could undermine the chances for success. We also have warned about the uses that might be made of it by captors of Americans. What strikes us as extraordinary is that Mr. Rumsfeld would suggest that this damage would be caused by newspaper editorials rather than by his own actions and decisions and those of other senior administration officials.

What might lead us to describe Mr. Rumsfeld or some other "senior civilian or military official" as "ordering or authorizing or permitting" torture or violation of international treaties and U.S. law? We could start with Mr. Rumsfeld's own admission during the same news conference that he had personally approved the detention of several prisoners in Iraq without registering them with the International Committee of the Red Cross. This creation of "ghost prisoners" was described by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who investigated abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, as "deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine and in violation of international law." Failure to promptly register detainees with the Red Cross is an unambiguous breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention; Mr. Rumsfeld said that he approved such action on several occasions, at the request of another senior official, CIA Director George J. Tenet.

Then the Post thoughtfully provides this interactive graphic, which details how Bush campaign donors have and are influencing his administration's policy.

The Philly Inquirer gives the administration a well-deserved set-down:

A poll of Americans taken in March of this year found that 57 percent of those polled believed that Iraq under Saddam Hussein substantially supported al-Qaeda or was directly involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Where did they get that misguided idea? Why, it was from their president, their vice president, their defense secretary, their national security adviser and other key players in the war on terror, of course.


What matters is that Americans grasp a central point: The multipronged rationale behind this rushed invasion has been revealed as a house of cards.

(Deposing Hussein always was a legitimate strategic goal, given his history as an aggressor and butcher - but not in this reckless way, with these wrongful justifications.)

Consider the house of cards, and two other glaring facts.

First, preparation for the invasion's aftermath was tragically inept. That easily predictable failure has cost many Iraqis, Americans and others their lives.

Second, the prison abuses, which stem from poor planning for occupation and a bid to place U.S. behavior above international law, have lost America the moral high ground it rightfully occupied on Sept. 12, 2001.

Now, ask yourself, along with those 27 American diplomats and warriors: Have the last two years made America more secure, more respected?

The answer is obvious and appalling. The answer is no.

Thanks to Atrios for the link.

Finally, the NYT has a massive article on the Guantanamo detainees. Bottom line - the vast majority of these detainees, characterized by Cheney as ''the worst of a very bad lot,'', are basically a bunch of low-level foot soldiers or even innocent bystanders who happened to get in the way of a sweep. No wonder they don't want any photographers in Gitmo...

Update: something I forgot to highlight in my previous post about Griffin - From the same story linked below: "Griffith, 55, is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association and was the lead counsel for the Senate during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton." So of course he's above the law.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

One set of rules for me and my friends...

... a whole other set for everybody else. And that includes you. (link)

Thomas B. Griffith, President Bush's nominee for the federal appeals court in Washington, has been practicing law in Utah without a state law license for the past four years, according to Utah state officials.

Griffith, the general counsel for Brigham Young University since August 2000, had previously failed to renew his law license in Washington for three years while he was a lawyer based in the District. It was a mistake he attributed to an oversight by his law firm's staff. But that lapse in his D.C. license, reported earlier this month by The Washington Post, subsequently prevented Griffith from receiving a law license in Utah when he moved there.

Under Utah law, Griffith's only option for obtaining the state license was to take and pass the state bar exam, an arduous test that lawyers try to take only once. He applied to sit for the exam, but never took it, Utah bar officials confirm.

Utah State Bar rules require all lawyers practicing law in the state to have a Utah law license. There is no general exception for general counsels or corporate counsels. Lawyers who practice only federal law or whose work is solely administrative can avoid the requirement in some cases.


A lawyer who specializes in legal ethics said Griffith's two licensing lapses should disqualify him from a lifetime appointment to one of the nation's most important federal benches, second only to the Supreme Court.

"This moves it for me from the realm of negligence to the realm of willfulness," said Mark Foster, a Zuckerman Spaeder attorney who represents lawyers in ethics matters. "People who thumb their noses at the rules of the bar shouldn't be judges."

No, wait... you're confusing Griffith with one of the little people!

Aw, poor boo-boo

Pity the poor Christian Right - they can't get anyone to care about gay marriage and the downfall of civilization...

Across the country, evangelical Christians are voicing frustration and puzzlement that there has not been more of a political outcry since May 17, when Massachusetts became the first state to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Evangelical leaders had predicted that a chorus of righteous anger would rise up out of churches from coast to coast and overwhelm Congress with letters, e-mails and phone calls in support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

But that has not happened.

"Standing on Capitol Hill listening, you don't hear anything," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, one of the country's most vigorous Christian advocacy groups.

Perkins and other evangelical leaders contend that the outrage is out there. They say it has not been felt in Washington because defenders of traditional marriage are still in shock, or are focused on winning state constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage, or are distracted by the war in Iraq and other issues.

Hey, Gomer - here's another theory. Maybe most people are secure enough in their own relationships and sexuality that they don't feel the need to tell other people how to live. Ever thought of that, hmm?

The Amazing Trent Lott

This is a man who by nature can not learn. Spencer Ackerman, filling in for Josh Marshall at Talking Points, directs us to this NYT piece (questions in italics, Lott's answers in plain-text):

Speaking of Mosul, how do you think the war in Iraq is going?

There are terrorists in Iraq who have been drawn into that part of the world. Every day we eliminate some of them; that's one more that won't be coming here.

What do you mean by eliminate them? Where are the terrorists and insurgents going to go?

Well, they are going to be killed. When they attack our troops, 20 or 30 or 40 at a time are being eliminated.

We can't kill everyone who hates America!

We can kill a lot of them, particularly when they try to kill us.

And you think that will lead to democracy in Iraq?

It's kind of like the song about New York. If it can succeed in Iraq, it can succeed anywhere.

You recently created a stir when you defended the interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib.

Most of the people in Mississippi came up to me and said: ''Thank Goodness. America comes first.'' Interrogation is not a Sunday-school class. You don't get information that will save American lives by withholding pancakes.

But unleashing killer dogs on naked Iraqis is not the same as withholding pancakes.

I was amazed that people reacted like that. Did the dogs bite them? Did the dogs assault them? How are you going to get people to give information that will lead to the saving of lives?

Is there no depth of vileness that would make this man ashamed? (Rhetorical question, I know...)

Fun link - a site featuring:

Engrish can be simply defined as the humorous English mistakes that appear in Japanese advertising and product design.

Most of the Engrish found on is not an attempt to communicate - English is used as a design element in Japanese products and advertising to give them a modern look and feel (or just to "look cool"). There is often no attempt to try to get it right, nor do the vast majority of the Japanese population (= consumers) ever attempt to read the English design element in question (the girl wearing the “Spread Beaver” shirt for example, had no idea what it said until a foreigner pointed it out to her). There is therefore less emphasis on spell checking and grammatical accuracy (note: the same can be said for the addition of Japanese or Chinese characters to hats, shirts and tattoos found in the US or Europe).

An interesting phenomenon; not unlike US manufacturers using Kanji characters to convey a zen-ish asian impression, and heck with the meaning. Or my use of hieroglyphs in several of my giftshop items - if someone out there reads hieroglyphs, you might check in and tell me if I'm saying something... naughty. (Not that I'd necessarily change it; it'd just be nice to know, heh.)

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Okay, one more and then I'll stop

(for now, anyway.)

The Tee:

The bumpersticker:

Both available at my Gift Shop just off the concourse. Let's get metaphysical, metaphysical...

New design in the shop

My new all-purpose motto, on a shirt, a mug or a bumpersticker:

Denial is not just a river in Egypt Edition

Christian dinosaur hunters dig for signs of Biblical dragons

Countless dinosaur bones lie buried in the rocks of South Dakota but the Christians excavating one remote cliff-face were digging not just for reptilian vertebrae but for the hand of God.

With screwdrivers, hammers and shaving brushes for tools, the group was seeking and, as far as it was concerned, unearthed proof that the animals perished not millions of years ago but in Noah's Flood circa 2300 BC.

To these believers in the Bible's literal truth, they are not dinosaurs but "missionary lizards", which are powerful weapons in the battle for young American hearts and minds.

Those certain that God made all living things, dinosaurs included, on Day Six of the Creation, are deploying ever more imaginative tactics in their struggle against schools and universities teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.

Boldest of all is a trend for believers, young and old, to dig for fossils and dinosaur remains as witness to God's handiwork.

Lecturing to a rapt audience of 20 like-minded Christians after a hard day in the field, Russ McGlenn, a self-styled amateur archaeologist and palaeontologist and head of Adventure Safaris, said: "Heavenly Father, we thank You for the evidence of a catastrophic flood event. We thank You for the time to study Your creation. Heavenly Father, we thank You for the evidence of a catastrophic flood event."

More at link - read it and weep.

NYT Edition

Okay, I can no longer ignore it - David Brookes is truly living in an alternate reality from the rest of us. Today he writes:

There's a reason Carter, Reagan and George W. Bush all turned, in different ways, against this approach. They understood that democracy advances security, kowtowing to dictators does not. Most of all, they didn't want to conduct a foreign policy that would make them feel ashamed.
Hello?? Reagan never met a dictator he didn't love, just love - all the pseudo-military gold braid and pomp and circumstances. Bush goes him one better; he not only protects and defends the supreme imperial dictatorship of Saud, he has said over and over that he wants to be a dictator. Sheesh, David, what's going ON in your world??

Meanwhile, the NYT Editorial board finally utters the words they should have started saying two years ago, to wit: "Show Us the Proof"

When the commission studying the 9/11 terrorist attacks refuted the Bush administration's claims of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, we suggested that President Bush apologize for using these claims to help win Americans' support for the invasion of Iraq. We did not really expect that to happen. But we were surprised by the depth and ferocity of the administration's capacity for denial. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have not only brushed aside the panel's findings and questioned its expertise, but they are also trying to rewrite history.

Mr. Bush said the 9/11 panel had actually confirmed his contention that there were "ties" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. He said his administration had never connected Saddam Hussein to 9/11. Both statements are wrong.


When it comes to 9/11, someone in the Bush administration has indeed drawn the connection to Iraq: the vice president. Mr. Cheney has repeatedly referred to reports that Mohamed Atta met in Prague in April 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence agent. He told Tim Russert of NBC on Dec. 9, 2001, that this report has "been pretty well confirmed." If so, no one seems to have informed the C.I.A., the Czech government or the 9/11 commission, which said it did not appear to be true. Yet Mr. Cheney cited it, again, on Thursday night on CNBC.

Mr. Cheney said he had lots of documents to prove his claims. We have heard that before, but Mr. Cheney always seems too pressed for time or too concerned about secrets to share them. Last September, Mr. Cheney's adviser, Mary Matalin, explained to The Washington Post that Mr. Cheney had access to lots of secret stuff. She said he had to "tiptoe through the land mines of what's sayable and not sayable" to the public, but that "his job is to connect the dots."

The message, if we hear it properly, is that when it comes to this critical issue, the vice president is not prepared to offer any evidence beyond the flimsy-to-nonexistent arguments he has used in the past, but he wants us to trust him when he says there's more behind the screen. So far, when it comes to Iraq, blind faith in this administration has been a losing strategy.

Nice of them to finally admit it, but wouldn't it have been nice if they'd seen the light back when it might have mattered?

Finally, a Letter to the Editor that's too good not to quote in its entirety:

To the Editor:

Re "Account Recalls Cheney as a Swift and Steady Hand" (news article, June 18):

The country is under attack, and the vice president urges the president not to return to Washington. The vice president issues the order to the military to send attack planes to shoot down civilian aircraft — indeed, directs the whole operation from his bunker under the White House while the president is flying from one place to another, a cellphone call away.

I am trying to picture Bill Clinton letting Al Gore take over; George H. W. Bush letting Dan Quayle take over; Jimmy Carter letting Walter F. Mondale take over; Richard M. Nixon letting Gerald R. Ford or Spiro T. Agnew take over; John F. Kennedy letting Lyndon B. Johnson take over — I go all the way back to Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt and try to imagine any vice president taking over under the same circumstances. I can't.

The whole story reads like "Seven Days in May." America, we have a problem.


Say it, sister.

Get your order in now

I include here for your convenience links to Anonymous' new book and another book on the same topic. Order today.

Early Edition

Expect to see this all over the Blogosphere by close-of-business today: "Al-Qaida may 'reward' American president with strike aimed at keeping him in office, senior intelligence man says"

From the Guardian:

A senior US intelligence official is about to publish a bitter condemnation of America's counter-terrorism policy, arguing that the west is losing the war against al-Qaida and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played into Osama bin Laden's hands.

Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, due out next month, dismisses two of the most frequent boasts of the Bush administration: that Bin Laden and al-Qaida are "on the run" and that the Iraq invasion has made America safer.

In an interview with the Guardian the official, who writes as "Anonymous", described al-Qaida as a much more proficient and focused organisation than it was in 2001, and predicted that it would "inevitably" acquire weapons of mass destruction and try to use them.


Imperial Hubris is the latest in a relentless stream of books attacking the administration in election year. Most of the earlier ones, however, were written by embittered former officials. This one is unprecedented in being the work of a serving official with nearly 20 years experience in counter-terrorism who is still part of the intelligence establishment.

The fact that he has been allowed to publish, albeit anonymously and without naming which agency he works for, may reflect the increasing frustration of senior intelligence officials at the course the administration has taken.


Anonymous, who published an analysis of al-Qaida last year called Through Our Enemies' Eyes, thinks it quite possible that another devastating strike against the US could come during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping the same one in place.

"I'm very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now," he said.

"One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president."

Hmmm. Given that people in intel have to have their publications vetted by their agencies, and given the timeline for publication and so on... well, Tenet's abrupt resignation is starting to look highly conveeeeenient (for Tenet, that is).

Meanwhile, poor Colin Powell just wants to be Secretary of State:

Colin Powell would be willing to continue serving as secretary of state in a second Bush administration if he were able to take a grip on the direction of US foreign policy, a senior official said on Thursday.

According to conventional wisdom in Washington, even if President George W. Bush (news - web sites) should win a second term in the November election, Mr Powell would take the opportunity to leave office after the frustrations of being overruled on important policy decisions by a White House in the thrall of neo-conservative ideology.


The official, who asked not to be named, said there was a possibility that the influential neo-conservatives were "in complete retreat and turning on themselves" after the setbacks in Iraq, and that there would be a "massive exiting". But he also conceded that they could simply be "hunkered down" and might return.


But analysts also strongly suspect that the president would not want the services of Mr Powell any longer.

Mr Bush, one diplomat said, would feel that he had been vindicated and had a mandate "of the American people and the divine spirit" - to take his unilateralist foreign policy further.

Man, is there anything scarier than the prospect of Bush thinking he has a 'mandate from the divine spirit' to keep on keeping on?

Friday, June 18, 2004

What does Cheney bring to the ticket?

Heh. In today's USAToday, Walter Shapiro finds Cheney more of a liability than an asset.

But Cheney's potential political vulnerability goes beyond Halliburton. The Supreme Court will decide this month whether Cheney had the legal right to refuse to release the identities of the executives who served as consultants to the vice president's energy task force in 2001. If the government loses this high-profile case, the press and the Democrats are certain to search for embarrassing connections between the Cheney task force and Republican fundraising.

Then there is the Justice Department's investigation of the Valerie Plame case, in which her identity as an undercover CIA officer was leaked to conservative columnist Robert Novak. This national-security lapse was an apparent effort to discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson, for his discovery that Saddam's purported attempt to buy African uranium was bogus. While the hunt for the leaker is shrouded in secrecy, Cheney has been questioned, and Newsweek recently reported that Libby is a ''key figure'' in the investigation.

Walter, you're so silly... without Cheney feeding him his lines, how will Bush know what to say? The whole world has seen how flummoxed he was on 9/11, thanks to Michael Moore. You think the admin's corporate masters could find another puppet-master between now and the convention?

It's called Projection.

You know that thing where you accuse others of your secret sin?

Vice President Cheney, in an interview yesterday with CNBC's "Capital Report," said "the press has been irresponsible" in reporting on the commission's findings, sometimes for "malicious" reasons. Referring to a New York Times front-page headline, "Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie," he said: "What the New York Times did today was outrageous." Cheney added: "The fact of the matter is, the evidence is overwhelming. The press is, with all due respect, and there are exceptions, oftentimes lazy, oftentimes simply reports what somebody else in the press said without doing their homework."

Translation - they sometimes don't just re-type the current RNC talking points, the bums! How dare they? (see link.)


I've opened up another blog for my book recommendations; they'll still post first here, but it's a handy place to go read all of them without having to slog thru all the politics and news-of-the-day postings.

I've linked it in the sidebar. Check it out.

Book Rec: Resurrection Day, Brendan DuBois (1999)

This novel depicts a world ten years after the Cuban Missile Crisis was the start of an all-out nuclear war between the US and the USSR. Now the USSR is in ruins, the US has lost NYC, DC, Omaha (home of SAC) and suffered various other collateral damage. The US is now an impoverished country dependant on the slightly gleeful charity of our former allies.

While the US makes a pretense of remaining a democracy, it is really a one-party dictatorship under control of the military. Our hero Carl works at the Boston Globe, where all the news that prints is vetted by a military censor in the interests of 'national security'.

Cringing under the necessity of accepting charity from Britain, deeply ashamed of the enormous death-toll of the war, the only thing that keeps American pride intact is our still-existing arsenal of nuclear weapons, which the entire rest of the world wants to see destroyed.

The murder of an old veteran of the Kennedy administration sets Carl on the trail of the true story of the start of the war, putting him at odds with an amazing assortment of factions who do not want the truth to emerge.

When this book was written in '99, it was a far-out can't-happen-here fantasy of alternate-history. Now, in the increasingly Orwellian Ashcroft's America, where the US Vice President can blame the press for his own mistakes with impunity, it becomes a cautionary tale. Read it and weep.

I include a link to another book, ALSO called Resurrection Day, from '01, which I haven't read, but which looks equally interesting. I've added it to my Amazon wishlist; if someone wants to buy it for me, I'll review it as well, heh.

Check these out

Here's a great article in the NYT on a whole bunch of people who are scamming the scammers: link.

Josh Marshall's stand-in, Spencer Ackerman, is really doing a great job over at Talking Points Memo. Go read his lavishly-documented connect-the-dots piece on TortureGate. Then read his earlier piece on Rumfeld blaming the media for every US failure:

Only the media, says the most powerful secretary of defense in history, can lose the war in Iraq. By that logic, a year's worth of mistakes--an insufficient number of troops to provide basic security; an inability or unwillingness to demobilize militias; a preference for wishing deeply-rooted conflicts in Iraqi ethnic and religious politics away instead of providing a civil forum for their arbitration; the installation of pliant Iraqis onto a council subsequently made powerless; torture--are simply wished away.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Brief Notes

Come on, Kevin... tell us how you really feel:

I think I'm going to be sick. In the latest entry in the Bombastic George Bush Mythmaking Contest, Michael Barone compares Bush — seriously! — to Abraham Lincoln. John Kerry is slotted into the McClellan position and the Democratic Party is compared to the 1864 Copperheads who wanted to allow the South to secede and had no beef with slavery.

The increasing probability of a Bush loss in November is apparently driving conservatives toward insanity. Bush is Lincoln. Kerry is a secret appeaser. Changing horses now would be more disastrous than in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Vietnam War, or the Cold War.

And all without even a scintilla of evidence that Kerry would be any less forceful in prosecuting a war against actual terrorists than George Bush — aside, of course, from his inexplicable conduct as a candidate for office in actually criticizing Bush. This, in Barone's view, is apparently what makes him unfit for office.

The stench of desperation is everywhere in this piece. I hope that's good news.

Read the comments - some of the best stuff is in there. (And no, I'm not referring to my comment, I'm referring to this one:

Definitely, whenever I think of Bush, the mind immediately thinks of Lincoln. They have so much in common, after all.
They both came from dirt poor familes and worked their way up from frontier logging to prominent rail lawyer.
They both served successfully several terms in various Congresses.
They both don't drink.
They both write their own speeches and read Shakespeare in their spare time to relax.
They both preemptively invaded distant foreign countries.
But only one of them knows he did more for human rights than any president in history. That would be Bush.


John Ashcroft is probably pissing himself with excitement over this advance:

Weapons that can incapacitate crowds of people by sweeping a lightning-like beam of electricity across them are being readied for sale to military and police forces in the US and Europe.

At present, commercial stun guns target one person at a time, and work only at close quarters. The new breed of non-lethal weapons can be used on many people at once and operate over far greater distances.

Why am I having a bad flashback to an old fifties B-movie with aliens taking over the planet and herding all of mankind before them into pens? Did I really see this movie?

Josh promises bombshell...

... then goes on vacation.

From today's Talking Points Memo:

You may have noticed a slight down-tick in the frequency of posts of late. And that’s for a few different reasons. But a principal one is that I and several colleagues have been working on a story that, if and when it comes to fruition --- and I’m confident it shall --- should shuffle the tectonic plates under that capital city where I normally hang my hat. So that’s something to look forward to in the not too distant future.

Speculate amongst yourselves.

Late Edition

Well, I was late getting to the papers today; we were bizzy-bizzy-bizzy at the store all day (which is a good thing). So all the news is stale. But maybe you missed these:

Salon has a lengthy paper on anti-Americanism, from a lecture delivered to intelligence analysts. Full text is here: LINK. The link requires that you be a Salon subscriber or watch an ad to access, but this report is well worth it.

Choice quote:

What we face here is not merely skepticism but also burning rage, a passionate antipathy that, although far from uniform, does seem ubiquitous. Even now, however, America's critics continue to distinguish between the U.S. administration, which they fear and despise, and the American people, with whom they feel sympathy.

But the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison may have finally changed that. If the American electorate, knowing what it knows and, above all, having seen what it has seen, proceeds to reelect George W. Bush in November, the moderating distinction between the American administration and the American people will be eroded or perhaps erased -- with what violent consequences no one can predict.

I'm sure there are some 'who cares what foreigners think about us?' readers out there - read the whole thing to find out why it matters. Also in Salon, an article about three new books psychoanalysing Bush. From a discussion of Frank's book:

Bush's parents dealt with Robin's death by squelching any expression of grief; there was no funeral and they played golf the day after she died. This, according to Frank, is a key example of the family's approach to all such painful emotions, and the result was to distort and cripple the psyche of their firstborn son. Frank provides an elaborate description of how the healthy process of psychological "integration" is supposed to work, some of which is based on such unconvincing Kleinian theories as the "good mother" and the "bad mother." But in general, his thesis is credible: If a child's parents teach him that his feelings of suffering, fear, weakness and rage are so unacceptable that they can't even be acknowledged, he is likely to spend his life projecting those feelings onto other people and punishing them for it. It's one of the ways bullies are minted.

and later:

Now (ostensibly) sober, George W. toes the family line, and when he's not letting off steam geopolitically, he uses the outlets favored by his mother, a less-discussed but probably more significant influence on his character. By most reliable accounts a truly scary piece of work, Barbara Bush is known around the Bush home by the nickname "the Enforcer." (A family friend described her to George W. biographer Bill Minutaglio as "the one who instills fear.") Barbara seems to be the source of George W.'s penchant for teasing, that overtly chummy but covertly hostile technique he especially likes to use on the press, who alarm and intimidate him. The animosity swirling beneath the placid surface of the Bush family keeps leaking out in little puffs of chilly spite disguised as jokes, whether it's George W.'s cracking wise about his mother's cooking, referring to his wife as "the lump in the bed next to me," or telling the press that a daughter recently hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy might join the family for a Florida vacation, but "if not, she can clean her room."

... and you thought your family was dysfunctional...

Finally, Slate has an article on 'torture-lawyer' Gonzales and his strange rulings prior to his WH job.

Curiously, it was in his role as legal counsel to then-Gov. Bush that Gonzales penned yet another memo pertaining to international law, only in that case his advice was designed not to avoid death sentences, but rather to expedite them on Texas' heavily populated death row. On June 16, 1997, Gonzales first showcased his proclivity for torturing international law when he sent a letter to the U.S. State Department in which he argued that, "Since the State of Texas is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, we believe it is inappropriate to ask Texas to determine whether a breach … occurred in connection with the arrest and conviction" of a Mexican national. Or, put another way, he asserted that an international treaty just didn't apply to Texas.

The Republic of Texas, indeed. (If the US signs a treaty, following it becomes the law of the land, in case you missed that point.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Special Edition

I've created a special edition Prairie Angel logo for my new fans:

(I'll have something to say about the news of the day soon for my 'regulars', I promise.)

Morning Must-Reads

The Always-Pithy Gene Lyons. Best quote:

It’s hard to know how to respond to adults who have persuaded themselves that Reagan brought down the U.S.S.R. by uttering the famous words, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," in a 1988 speech. Psychiatrists call such beliefs (like my suspicion that the Cubs might start hitting if I stop watching) "magical thinking."

The Always-Pythony Terry Jones, on interrogating his son.

And the Reagans get downright pissy at the Bushies.

Howdy Fellas

Nyuck nyuck nyuck. I've been putting ads around the blogosphere to advertise my new blog; being the frugal country mouse that I am, I selected blogs with good readership and affordable rates (guys like Atrios being a bit too expensive a date for a cheap chick like me).

Well, one of my advertisees, Transvigor is a blog for those guys who appreciate... um, strong women. I'm pretty sure they mean 'physically strong' from the photos and the lack of essays appreciating the likes of Maggie Thatcher and Ma Walton. Anyway, the Valkyrie-fan who runs the blog just got rough (oooh!) with his readership:

I've been breaking my ass the last eight weeks or so, trying to deliver more and better content to drive up traffic and comments. Yet daily site visitors peaked at about 2000 a little over a month ago, and the number has backed off over the last ten days to about 1600. Don't you people have any friends? This is a referral business!

Worse, the only advertising I've sold is to one flaky delusional chick in flyover country. At this writing, precisely 33 of you have bothered to click on the ad, though it's been there a week. Would you just click on the goddamned ad, already? I have expenses, people! Mouths to feed, etc, etc

So I'm seeing a lot of traffic from muscle-lovers. One commenter (who knows what he likes) puts in this plaintive request:

I know you don't choose the ads, but if you could manage to get one from "The Sweat-Drenched Massive Prairie Amazonian Queen" we'd click it incessantly.

(That's my cousin - she's way shy, sorry. But you might like my Very Blonde friend, Blondesense...)

So visit Transvigor if you want the latest on Hot Muscle Babes. And advertisers, he's really a good buy, cost-per-click-wise, altho' of course not to compare to that Manliest of Men and cheapest date in the blogosphere, Jesus' General, where I averaged a fabulous three-cents-a-click.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Who NEEDS a humvee

I was behind one of these warlike Winnebagos on the drive home tonight and it really pissed me off.

Who needs to spend more money on a car that most families can spend on their housing? Is it the Itty Bitty Penis? or not enough hugs from Dad as a tot? What?

Tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to go out on Craigslist and pick up a bunch of old VW Beetles (the old ones that actually looked like beetles.) I'm going to cover them with hammered gold leaf and encrusted gemstones, and call them Limited Edition VW Scarab Beetles and sell those puppies for half a million a piece.

They'll get GREAT gas mileage, be easier to park on the street, and they'll say the exact same thing about you that a Hummer does, to wit: Hey, Look at ME! I'm neeeeeeedy!

Not THAT kind of Republican

Now it appears that the US isn't planning to leave the 'Republican Palace' any time soon, sovereignty or no sovereignty.

Commenting on another of the touchy issues, Yawar asserted that the United States will not be allowed to keep Hussein's main palace as part of the future U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Since the war that toppled Hussein, the ornate building has been used as headquarters for much of the Coalition Provisional Authority under U.S. administrator for Iraq L. Paul Bremer and part of the U.S. military command. With good office space at a premium in Baghdad, U.S. officials have expressed a desire to continue using it as an annex to the embassy.

"There is no talk of inviting the United States to keep the Republican Palace as an embassy supplement," Yawar told reporters. "We have asked that the Republican Palace be vacated at the fastest opportunity for us to use it as Iraqis, as a Republican Palace or a museum. Whatever we do with it is a matter for Iraqi sovereignty. It is a symbol of Iraqi sovereignty."

The US, meanwhile, continues to act like the tenants of a rent-controlled apartment.

Good... good... and you?

Heh. The WashPost's Dana Milbank (not to be confused with Dana Priest) offers an example of 'unfiltered news'.


With his underlings giving him such uniformly favorable reviews, Bush, who has said his aides are the "most objective sources" of news, has begun to anticipate good news even before it occurs. Greeting the Algerian president last week, he remarked: "That was a good meeting yesterday. We'll have a good meeting today."

Monday, June 14, 2004

Late Report

(or very early report, depending on how you look at it.)

Co-opting the Gipper may meet with some resistance.

Turns out the Gipper's family finds the Bush regime distasteful.

The Reagans and Bushes, who have had famously strained relations throughout the years, may be an exception, as Nancy Reagan and her children guard Ronald Reagan's legacy, fending off efforts by both the right and left to trade on it for political gain.

"I think Nancy would not want that," said Barbara Kellerman, a Harvard expert on leadership who has written a book on first families. "She is not mad about the Bush family, and the last thing she intends is for W. to inherit her beloved and sanctified husband's mantle."

Ron Reagan, a television commentator who has frequently been critical of Mr. Bush, has already said as much. In 2000, he fired a shot at Mr. Bush in Philadelphia during the Republican convention, which featured a tribute to his father. "What's his accomplishment?" Mr. Reagan asked then. "That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?"

Last year, in an interview with the online magazine Salon, Mr. Reagan renewed his critique, making clear his distaste for the Bush administration.

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now," Mr. Reagan said then. "Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the 80's. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's - these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."

Neither do we, Ron. Neither do we. (More at link.)

Krugman. Must Read.

Choice bits:

No question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.

For this column, let's just focus on Mr. Ashcroft's role in the fight against terror. Before 9/11 he was aggressively uninterested in the terrorist threat. He didn't even mention counterterrorism in a May 2001 memo outlining strategic priorities for the Justice Department. When the 9/11 commission asked him why, he responded by blaming the Clinton administration, with a personal attack on one of the commission members thrown in for good measure.


Then there is the lack of any major captures. Somewhere, the anthrax terrorist is laughing. But the Justice Department, you'll be happy to know, is trying to determine whether it can file bioterrorism charges against a Buffalo art professor whose work includes harmless bacteria in petri dishes.

Perhaps most telling is the way Mr. Ashcroft responds to criticism of his performance. His first move is always to withhold the evidence. Then he tries to change the subject by making a dramatic announcement of a terrorist threat.


For an example of changing the subject, consider the origins of the Jose Padilla case. There was no publicity when Mr. Padilla was arrested in May 2002. But on June 6, 2002, Coleen Rowley gave devastating Congressional testimony about failures at the F.B.I. (which reports to Mr. Ashcroft) before 9/11. Four days later, Mr. Ashcroft held a dramatic press conference and announced that Mr. Padilla was involved in a terrifying plot. Instead of featuring Ms. Rowley, news magazine covers ended up featuring the "dirty bomber" who Mr. Ashcroft said was plotting to kill thousands with deadly radiation.

Since then Mr. Padilla has been held as an "enemy combatant" with no legal rights. But Newsweek reports that "administration officials now concede that the principal claim they have been making about Padilla ever since his detention — that he was dispatched to the United States for the specific purpose of setting off a radiological "dirty bomb" — has turned out to be wrong and most likely can never be used in court."

Read the whole thing.

I still maintain that the FBI knows precisely who the anthrax mailer is, but they can't arrest him until his Bush/Cheney bumpersticker completely weathers off his car.

Finally... League Sees the Light

League of Women Voters drops paperless vote support

(Link requires you to be a subscriber, or to watch a commercial to access content.)

The League of Women Voters rescinded its support of paperless voting machines on Monday after hundreds of angry members voiced concern that paper ballots were the only way to safeguard elections from fraud, hackers or computer malfunctions.

About 800 delegates who attended the nonpartisan league's biennial convention in Washington voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that supports "voting systems and procedures that are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible."

That relatively neutral stance was a sharp change from last year, when league leaders endorsed paperless terminals as reliable alternatives to antiquated punch card and lever systems. About 30 percent of the electorate will use touchscreen voting machines in the November election, and hardly any of the machines provide paper records that could be used in case of a contested election.

Last year's endorsement infuriated members from chapters around the country -- particularly in Silicon Valley and other technology-savvy enclaves, where computer scientists say the systems jeopardize elections. Legitimate recounts are impossible without paper records of every vote cast, they say.


From today's WashPost:

BAGHDAD, June 13 -- In an early test of its imminent sovereignty, Iraq's new government has been resisting a U.S. demand that thousands of foreign contractors here be granted immunity from Iraqi law, in the same way as U.S. military forces are now immune, according to Iraqi sources.

The U.S. proposal, although not widely known, has touched a nerve with some nationalist-minded Iraqis already chafing under the 14-month-old U.S.-led occupation. If accepted by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, it would put the highly visible U.S. foreign contractors into a special legal category, not subject to military justice and beyond the reach of Iraq's justice system.

More at link.

Fun with Photoshop

New Tee in the shop:

To coin a phrase, heh.

What he said

Heh. Kevin Drum:

Who knew that when George Bush famously said, "the nice thing about being president is that I don't have to answer to anyone," he was dead serious? Too bad that the legal machinery of the government seems to feel it's their duty to justify his megalomania.


Sunday, June 13, 2004

Diagnosis: Nutcase

Here's a book that appears to confirm everything we knew all along:

We can assure you nobody will be caught perusing this book in the White House. "Bush on the Couch," authored by a longtime Washington psychiatrist who has never met or treated the president, offers "an exploration of Bush's psyche" that delves into such touchy topics as his baby sister's death, his relationship with his mother and father and his drinking history.

In the book, to be released Tuesday, Justin A. Frank, a clinical professor at George Washington University Medical Center, claims President Bush exhibits "sadistic tendencies" and suffers from "character pathology," including "grandiosity" and "megalomania" -- viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable. Frank told us yesterday that his opinions are based on publicly available materials, adding, "I've never met the president or any members of his family."

A Democrat who once headed the Washington chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Frank concludes in the book: "Our sole treatment option -- for his benefit and for ours -- is to remove President Bush from office . . . before it is too late."

Frank, who has practiced for 35 years, told us he began noting Bush's mannerisms in the fall of 2002. "I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote, and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed." In the book, he writes that Bush "fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated."

Yeah, yeah, the old Dry Drunk thing; I remain to be convinced that Bush's drinking has been 'arrested'... I think it skipped town and forfeited the bail.

BTW, someone needs to alert Charles Krauthammer that this guy is infringing on his copyrighted technique of Remote Psychiatry...

Highest Levels

Interrogation abuses were 'approved at highest levels'

New evidence that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorised at the top of the Bush administration will emerge in Washington this week, adding further to pressure on the White House.

The Telegraph understands that four confidential Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public shortly.

According to lawyers familiar with the Red Cross reports, they will contradict previous testimony by senior Pentagon officials who have claimed that the abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated incident.

"There are some extremely damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses," said Scott Horton, the former chairman of the New York Bar Association, who has been advising Pentagon lawyers unhappy at the administration's approach. "The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped."

More, much more, at link.