Saturday, July 31, 2004


Atrios has two fine examples of the Bush Administration's Dark Underbelly (now that's a visual I wish I could recall...)

First there's this from Albuquerque: Want to see the Veep? First you have to sign the Loyalty Oath.

Some would-be spectators hoping to attend Vice President Dick Cheney's rally in Rio Rancho this weekend walked out of a Republican campaign office miffed and ticketless Thursday after getting this news:

Unless you sign an endorsement for President George W. Bush, you're not getting any passes.


John Sanchez, chairman of the Bush-Cheney '04 re-election effort in the Southwest, said he wasn't aware of the endorsement matter, adding, "I would be surprised" if it was happening. However, he said he works directly for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the rally is a Republican National Committee event.

An endorsement form provided to the Journal by Random says: "I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." It later adds that, "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush."

Then there's this from the Arizona Sun-Star: Bush camp solicits race of Star staffer

President Bush's re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney


A rally organizer for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign asked Teri Hayt, the Star's managing editor, to disclose the journalist's race on Friday. After Hayt refused, the organizer called back and said the journalist probably would be allowed to photograph the vice president


"All the information requested of staff, volunteers and participants for the event has been done so to ensure the safety of all those involved, including the vice president of the United States," he said.

Diaz repeated that answer when asked if it is the practice of the White House to ask for racial information or if the photographer, Mamta Popat, was singled out because of her name. He referred those questions to the U.S. Secret Service, which did not respond to a call from the Star Friday afternoon


Organizer Christine Walton asked for Popat's race in telephone conversations with two other Star editors before she spoke to Hayt. They also refused to provide the information. Walton told Hayt that Popat's race was necessary to allow the Secret Service to distinguish her from someone else who might have the same name.

Yeah, when TWO Mamta Popats show up, they'll know which one to let in. Riiiiiight.

Let's admit it - non-Aryans scare these guys.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Let us bring Democracy to Florida!

Is there any state quite as beleaguered on the democracy front as Florida? First they can't count votes, then they try to disenfranchise as 'felons' a lot of non-felonious but probably-democratic-voting blacks, then they lose archive information from the '03 primary election (more wonders of touch-screen voting), and now they can't decide if touch-screen voting is Safe or Risky.

Check out this from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: GOP apologizes over voting flier; glossy mailer warns against touch-screens

An embarrassed state Republican Party apologized Thursday for a GOP campaign brochure that urged voters to use absentee ballots, undermining efforts by Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Glenda Hood to inspire confidence in new touch-screen voting machines.

Democratic Party officials and several civil rights groups eagerly pounced on the flier as either a laughable foul-up or a sign that maybe Republican leaders also question the reliability of the ATM-like equipment.


The Republican apology stemmed from a glossy mailer paid for by the GOP and sent to Miami voters in a hotly contested state House district primary race between two Republicans. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach are among 15 counties who switched from punch-card ballots to touch-screens after the 2000 presidential recount.

So you see, touchscreens are fine for voting for President and piddly stuff like that, but they're much too risky to consider when voting in important things like Republican primaries... I guess the originator of the flyer has reason to believe that the fix is in for his/her opponent?

If it wasn't so sad, it would be hilarious. You really can NOT make this stuff up.

Roosevelt was right!

Apparently we really do have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Read Study: Fear shapes voters' views

The article describes a study in which volunteers were asked to think about certain topics before they were asked the poll questions. Choice bits:

The volunteers were aged from 18 into their 50s and described themselves as ranging from liberal to deeply conservative. No matter what a person's political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush, Solomon said. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.

"I think this should concern anybody," Solomon said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq."

Read the whole thing for more study parameters and context. Then share it.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Compassionate Conservatism's Finest Hour

Unhappy Workers Should Take Prozac --Bush Campaigner

A campaign worker for President Bush (news - web sites) said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?" said Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.


When told the Prozac comment had been overheard, Sheybani said: "Oh, I was just kidding."

The article ends on this somber note: " Nearly 1.1 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office in January 2001."

Thanks to the Fine Folk at Bartcop's discussion-board for the link, and for the astute observation from SleepingTight that people with GOOD jobs can't afford it, since "Prozak cost around $250 a month, and because its mental health and not "critical" most health insurance providers wont cover it at all, or they only cover a little bit of it."

WalMart versus CostCo

Costco, Wal-Mart duel in political arena

Long story about the two discount chains differing political contributions, the gist of which is that WalMart likes Republicans because they allow them to exploit their workers. Ferinstance:

Kerry, 60, a four-term senator, pledges to induce more employers to insure workers with a $257 billion proposal calling for the government to pay most so-called catastrophic health-care costs -- only for companies that provide comprehensive coverage. He'd raise the minimum wage and make it easier for workers to join unions.

Those policies might benefit Costco and hurt Wal-Mart.

Issaquah-based Costco offers comprehensive health insurance to most of its 78,000 U.S. employees, making it eligible for Kerry's plan, said Kerry's top domestic policy adviser, Sarah Bianchi, 31. That could cut 10 percent, or $35 million, off its annual health care premiums.

Wal-Mart's health plan for its 1.3 million U.S. workers is probably not broad enough to qualify for the savings that Kerry's proposal would bring, since it doesn't cover enough workers, said Jason Furman, 33, the Democrat's chief economic-policy adviser. Fewer than half of Wal-Mart's employees are enrolled in the company health plan, according to figures supplied by the retailer.

Costco wouldn't have to raise salaries with Kerry's proposal to increase the minimum wage to $7 an hour, from $5.15 now. It already pays hot-dog vendors as much as $16 an hour, and the lowest wage it pays is $10 an hour.

That's higher than the $9.96 average wage paid at discount stores bearing the Wal-Mart name. Sam's Club spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart declined to provide wage information for the warehouse unit.

Best quote: "Sinegal makes no apologies for Costco's policies, saying higher wages reduce employee turnover, which lowers training costs. 'I'm not a social engineer,' he said in an interview. 'Paying good wages is simply good business.'"

If you're still shopping at Walmart, why?

This is the guy!

I mentioned in my previous post that I'd heard 'this guy' talking on CSPAN-radio about the impending depletion of the Saudi oil field. Well, here's an article about him and the claims he's making. Sounds legit to me...

Choice bits:

When oil prices have doubled to $80 and a second Great Depression threatens global political stability, our president will assemble a 9/11-style commission to explain the intelligence and policy failures that led to the crisis. The verdict will be familiar: The stunning blow to the world economy brought about by the sudden, unexpected depletion of fossil fuel should have been anticipated and prevented.

When that day comes -- in five years or perhaps 20, who knows -- many of the key exhibits will have been penned by Matthew Simmons, a Houston energy analyst and banker at Simmons & Co. International.

Simmons is now shouting from the rooftops -- writing think-tank white papers, giving speeches and finishing a book set for publication next year -- that the world is quickly running out of affordable oil and gas, and that no amount of Middle Eastern pumping can bail us out.

While much of the so-called "peak oil" story is well known, what's news is Simmons' startling claim, based on personal analysis, that Saudi Arabia's pumping capacity is in decline.


He believes that production at these mature fields has peaked. While that doesn't mean they'll run out tomorrow, they're becoming much harder and more expensive to exploit efficiently. It's like a person getting older and suffering from arterial sclerosis: They slow down and become increasingly less capable. The Saudis are now using intense water-injection techniques to improve production, he says, a technique that can ultimately lead to catastrophic pressure failure. Aramco disputes his claim, but Simmons notes correctly that its principal answer comes down to an Enron-like "Trust me." There's no solid independent data source of Saudi oil production. "A lack of verified data leaves the world in the dark," he told the Hudson Institute.

More, much more at link.

Must read

Barbara Enrenreich has been a guest columnist on the NYTimes Op-Ed page while Friedman is on a bookwriting leave; can I dare hope that she remains, even after his not-very-anticipated return? Today, she has this to say:

The Dems couldn't be more butch if they took to wearing codpieces. Every daily convention theme contains the words "strength" or "strong," and even Hillary has been relegated to the role of wife. The idea, according to the pundits, is that with more than half of the voters still favoring Bush as the guy to beat bin Laden, Kerry needs to show that he's macho enough to whup the terrorists. Of course, everyone knows that the macho approach is notably less effective than pixie dust - otherwise, we wouldn't be holding our political conventions under total lockdowns.

Well, I've been reading bin Ladin - Carmen, that is, not her brother-in-law Osama (she spells the last name with an "i") - and I'd like to present a brand-new approach to terrorism, one that turns out to be a lot more consistent with traditional Democratic values. First, let's stop calling the enemy "terrorism," which is like saying we're fighting "bombings." Terrorism is only a method; the enemy is an extremist Islamic insurgency whose appeal lies in its claim to represent the Muslim masses against a bullying superpower.

But as Carmen bin Ladin urgently reminds us in "Inside the Kingdom," one glaring moral flaw in this insurgency, quite apart from its methods, is that it aims to push one-half of those masses down to a status only slightly above that of domestic animals. While Osama was getting pumped up for jihad, Carmen was getting up her nerve to walk across the street in a residential neighborhood in Jeddah - fully veiled but unescorted by a male, something that is illegal for a woman in Saudi Arabia. Eventually she left the kingdom and got a divorce because she didn't want her daughters to grow up in a place where women are kept "locked in and breeding."

So here in one word is my new counterterrorism strategy for Kerry: feminism. Or, if that's too incendiary, try the phrase "human rights for women." I don't mean just a few opportunistic references to women, like those that accompanied the war on the Taliban and were quietly dropped by the Bush administration when that war was abandoned and Afghan women were locked back into their burkas. I'm talking about a sustained and serious effort.

Remind me again why Saudi Arabia is our 'friend'? Oh yeah - oil reserves. Several weeks ago I was listening to CSpan radio in my car and caught the end of a talk by a guy (didn't get his name) who claims that the Saudi oil fields are actually only good for another 10-15 years, all oil-company estimates not withstanding. Can I be the first to say that I'm sort of looking forward to the crisis that follows, not only because it will force us to get serious about renewable resources, but because it will lessen the power of this anti-democratic regime?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Prez Loony Tunes?

Several bloggers are pointing to this story on Capitol Hill Blue: Bush Using Drugs to Control Depression, Erratic Behavior. Choice excerpts:

President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.

The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Angry Bush walked away from reporter's questions. Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”


One long-time GOP political consultant who – for obvious reasons – asked not to be identified said he is advising his Republican Congressional candidates to keep their distance from Bush.

“We have to face the very real possibility that the President of the United States is loony tunes,” he says sadly. “That’s not good for my candidates, it’s not good for the party and it’s certainly not good for the country.”

Most referrers distance themselves with comments like Kevin Drum's "POSTSCRIPT: I periodically get emails from people who want to know if Capitol Hill Blue is a reliable source. I think this story should give you a clue."

But honestly, is it really that hard to believe? I mean, if I were a Miserable Failure on the level that Bush is, on issues with hugely negative national and global consequences, if I saw my philosophy of life proven in the laboratory of Real Life to be a pile of crap, and my trusted advisors were a bunch of self-serving greedheads, I strongly suspect I would self-medicate too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004



Lee Atwater would be so proud

GOP Aims to Pull a 'Dukakis' on Kerry

Republicans ridiculed Democrat John Kerry's primary campaign contortions about the war on Iraq on Tuesday and handed out pictures of Kerry clad in a hooded blue anti-contamination suit as he climbed out of a NASA space shuttle orbiter.

The GOP effort to pull a "Dukakis" on Kerry is shifting into high gear.

Okay, I'll see your 'kerry in a moon-suit' pic and raise you three Bushes:


Here's the latest justification for the Shrub's possible loss in November, from the Queen of Denial herself, Peggy Noonan:

But let me share a thought I've been having that is not so jolly. It has to do with Mr. Bush's re-election prospects and a worry I have. History has been too dramatic the past 3 1/2 years. It has been too exciting. Economic recession, 9/11, war, Afghanistan, Iraq, fighting with Europe. fighting with the U.N., boys going off to fight, Pat Tillman, beheadings. It has been so exciting. And my general sense of Americans is that we like things to be boring. Or rather we like history to be boring; we like our lives to be exciting. We like history to be like something Calvin Coolidge dreamed: dull, dull. dull. And then we complain about the dullness, and invent excitements that are the kind we really like: moon shots, spaceships, curing diseases. Big tax cuts that encourage big growth that creates lots of jobs for young people just out of school.

No, I am not suggesting all our recent excitement is Mr. Bush's fault. History handed him what it handed him. And no, I am not saying the decisions he took were wrong or right or some degree of either. I'm saying it's all for whatever reasons been more dramatic than Americans in general like history to be.

Here is my fear: that the American people, liking and respecting President Bush, and knowing he's a straight shooter with guts, will still feel a great temptation to turn to the boring and disingenuous John Kerry.

Yeah, that's the ticket. The "People" really like and respect Bush, he's just too 'exciting' for them.

I ought to cease to be amazed at the lengths to which bushites will go to persuade themselves that the Worst. President. Ever. is really a huge success, just Misunderstood. But they continue to exceed my expectations.

Thanks to Josh Marshall for the heads-up.

Who's blogging the convention?

Click here for info on who's behind the blogs and where to find them. Unfortunately incomplete; nothing on Josh Marshall or Atrios under either of his names. Kind of odd, since those two are in the top five blogs in readership and both of them are there. Oversight? Or an attempt to give some of the lesser-known bloggers some shine-time?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Atrios comes out?

Visit Eschaton and scroll alllll the way to the bottom...

I guess the blue dot was chaffing.

Does this surprise anyone?

Yawning Is Contagious Among Chimpanzees

Conspiracy theorists, check in please


Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin was pushed by the White House in December to submit his resignation without being given any reason, Senate Democrats disclosed last week at a hearing to consider President Bush's nomination of his successor.


Critics have suggested Bush may have wanted a new archivist to help keep his or his father's sensitive presidential records under wraps. Under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, many of President George H.W. Bush's papers are due to become public in January.

More at link.

Theories? Rumors? What you got? I got nothin'.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Long day...

... Slaving over a hot PhotoShop. Okay, so there were a few hours of kareoke tucked in there somewhere...

But here, for your reading pleasure: Bush wins big at Stupidity Awards

MONTREAL — The November elections may still be ahead of him but U.S. President George W. Bush came out a big winner yesterday — at the World Stupidity Awards.

Bush was a dominating presence at the second edition of the awards presented at the Just for Laughs comedy festival.

Host Lewis Black, whose biting satire is a highlight of TV's The Daily Show, took pride in the recognition the United States received at the awards, saying: "we are the gold standard."


"It's easy to fall down a manhole, it's easy to put the candles too close to the drapes, it's easy to launch a military invasion of another country based on a few blurry satellite photos," he observed.

"This year my people, we scaled the Everest of stupidity and we stand upon its peak."

Bush took the Stupidest Man of the Year Award and for the second time in the history of the two-year-old awards won the Stupidity Award for Reckless Endangerment of the Planet.

Friday, July 23, 2004

today's Heh

Special Goddesses

Read Sylvia every day here: link.

Nice to be in August Company

See? The Grey Lady agrees with me.

Saddest headline maybe ever?

Poll: Americans Against Using Torture

Why sad? Because we're actually having to poll on this issue. If you'd told me it would even be a question five years ago, I'd have called you crazy.

First there were records...

... then there were no records, then there were...

The amazing disappearing Bush service records make a surprise reappearance!

Best quote: A Pentagon official said the earlier contention that the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight."

This being less culpable than an intentional oversight? However...

Like records released earlier by the White House, the newly released computerized payroll records show no indication Bush drilled with the Alabama unit during July, August and September of 1972.

How then, to explain this from Russert's Feb 7 interview?

Russert: The Boston Globe and the Associated Press have gone through some of the records and said there’s no evidence that you reported to duty in Alabama during the summer and fall of 1972.

President Bush: Yeah, they’re — they're just wrong. There may be no evidence, but I did report; otherwise, I wouldn't have been honorably discharged. In other words, you don't just say "I did something" without there being verification. Military doesn't work that way. I got an honorable discharge, and I did show up in Alabama.

Are the recently rediscovered records wrong? Or is Bush just 'misremembering'?

Thursday, July 22, 2004


Sandy Berger Pursued by the Cable News Furies:

From Rollcall.

Wet Tee-shirt contest winner

click here for pic

One guy, one laptop, one phoneline

A friend (hi, Ace) asks in email: Why is it that you place such faith in paper ballots as a way to prevent election fraud? Surely you don't believe that all the Chicago elections prior to the invention of computerized voting and mechanical voting machines were "honest". Surely you don't believe that mechanical contraptions can't be "rigged", do you?

It seems to me that honest elections depend on honest election officials. Unfortunately, election officials are usually politicos too. As Willie Shakespeare said, "...there's the rub."

I obviously agree that paper ballots do nothing to ensure an honest election. But let's compare the old Chicago-style election thefts with the potential for election theft from unauditable touchscreen voting machines. In the Good Old Days, to steal an election required the 'disappearing' of armoured cars full of ballot boxes, the scouring of cemetaries and obituaries for names to insert in hardcopy voter registration lists, loyal allies to race from precinct to precinct voting under a variety of names, etc. All easy to do, clearly, but requiring significant manpower, all of whom had to be trusted not to Tell All.

Today, what does it take to steal an election in, say, Georgia, where many new Diebold machines were rolled out for the '02 election (and where the election eve polling differed from the 'actual' vote by as much as sixteen percentage points)? One guy, one laptop, one phoneline. That's all it takes to destroy democracy.

Election officials can be as pure as the driven snow, but if they can't verify that what people are putting into the voting machine is what ultimately gets counted and reported, they can be robbed blind.

One version of the touchscreen voting machines reports its figures to a Microsoft Access Database, one of the least secure DBs available - someone who could gain access to Access can easily alter the contents and alter the 'audit trail' to remove all traces of their activity. Feeling better about the future of democracy yet?

Republicans are amazingly sanguine about the possibility of vote fraud, and with good reason - the Big Three voting machine manufacturers are diehard supporters of the GOP. But they're clearly not thinking this through - nothing in the 'one guy, one laptop' formulation requires that the vote-alterer be a registered Republican. For that matter, since this new technology does not require physical presence, it doesn't even require that the vote-alterer be within the US.

I would like to think that the possibility that the US election could be effected by someone in Singapore, a cave in Afghanistan (if they had a satellite line), or even (gasp) FRANCE, would cause even Republicans to worry about this issue. But so far no sign.

Visit Blackbox Voting for more info.

Also see Krugman here and here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

New bumpersticker

Available in the Woo Woo Room:

Also tees and totes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Berger 'scandal'

Man, all the bloviating... I guess I'd better add to the gas.

I just can't get all worked up over the removal of notes - Berger was getting ready to testify UNDER OATH (something neither Bush nor Cheney has ever done) about what the Clinton administration did on terrorism prior to the millenium. Given the vindictive nature of the current administration, it's not surprising that he wanted to refresh his memory on every iota of minisculia; if he had said, for instance, that a taskforce first met on Tuesday at 1pm when it actually met on Weds at 3pm (the tuesday meeting being the 'pre-meeting to prepare for the meeting', as all good bureaucrats should know), he knew he would have found himself facing a criminal perjury charge for 'lying under oath'. So yeah, he's taking notes.

I'm cracking up at the nuance people are putting on this - a guy takes some notes and shoves them in his pants pocket, and suddenly he's smuggling out documents in his 'pants', with all its 'shoved down the back of his drawers' connotation.

What has clearly emerged from all the hot air is: the FBI visited Berger's house in October and removed some documents that he asked them to come retrieve after the archivists called Bruce Lindsay and said 'we think your guy took some of our docs' (or words to that effect). Since then, he apparently has not been questioned on the matter. This is an ongoing investigation? For eight months?

Bloviators on the right are leaping to the conclusion that Berger was trying to hide something from the 9/11 commission... by removing copies of documents from '99. Say huh?

Then there's the whole 'sock' thing. First reports out on this was that Berger had admitted to removing documents in his 'pants' and 'socks'. Later reports retracted the socks admission, but that certainly hasn't removed it from the blogisphere, where the socks are figuring heavily in people's arguments as to Berger's 'intent'. I suspect the socks will take on a life of their own, and be cited as proof of democratic perfidy as long as Al Gore continues to be accused of 'claiming he invented the internet'. You can't keep a good meme down, I guess.

Kevin Drum, bless his innocent little heart, has this to say:

Oh, and this: despite dark allegations that the investigation into Berger was leaked by Republicans to take attention off the upcoming 9/11 report, I think it must have actually been a Democrat who leaked it. Frankly, if I were a Republican, I would have waited until around the last week of October or so. My guess is that some sharp Democratic operative figured out that this wasn't going to stay a secret forever and decided (correctly) that it was better to get it into the open now rather than later.

Duh, Kevin. The 9/11 report is being released on Thursday. In that report are going to be accounts of things the Clinton administration (led in this by Sandy Berger) did on counter-terrorism leading up to the turn of the century, including some plots thwarted and recommendations made to the incoming Bush administration that they no doubt deep-sixed as bearing the Clinton Taint and thus being unworthy of consideration by their noble, returning-honor-to-the-white-house administration. This is the perfect time for the Rove Machine to poison the well on Sandy Berger. (I just don't know about Kevin any more - when he was CalPundit, he seemed to be less naive... )

What I want to know is: when are the Major Media going to have the epiphany that pimping stories for the current administration isn't going to earn them a lot of chits in the NEXT administration? Anyone?

One down...

How many to go? Bush, CIA at Odds on Iran

How many more Axis of Evil countries does the King think we can conquer and hold?

What happens when you deploy all the national guard overseas?

You run out of cops and firefighters at home, that's what.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Cat blogging

Okay, I've been in photoshop and dreamweaver all day trying to build a new template and everything I touch turns to dross, dross, I tell you... got me a little cranky. So here's some kitties:

The little guy in the back is Ben, a regular-sized cat unless compared to the Mutant Giant Cat in front, Nathan. That's their chair - woe betide the human who wants to sit there.

Movie Rec

If you haven't seen the cult classic 'Being There', from 1979, you really should. Starring Peter Sellers as Chance the gardener, a simple-minded man who lives an entirely sheltered life on a rich man's estate, the movie (and book) chronicle what happens when Chance, whose only contact with the outside world has been television, is catapulted into the Greater World. Misunderstandings cause Chance of no surname to become Chauncey Gardiner, and his simple-minded gardening aphorisms are taken for Zen koan-style wisdom by the glitterati and he's soon being acclaimed a sage.

Watch this movie, and then picture how it would have turned out if, instead of sweet gentle Chance, the Powers That Be had chosen to elevate a frog-exploding, undergraduate-branding, execution-gloating, business-wrecking sociopath. Yes, then you'd have "America, 2001-2004". Sigh.

I include a link to the orignal novel by Jerry Kosinski as well.

Fun Thread

One of Atrios' stand-ins at Eschaton has posted a 'what are you reading?' thread. Lots of interesting recommendations. Take a look.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Minn. GOP Asks Activists to Report on Neighbors' Politics

Take Minnesota. The state Republican Party has developed a Web site that allows its activists to tap into a database of voters whose political allegiances and concerns it would like to know. But it is not just any group of voters -- they are the activists' neighbors.

The project, dubbed WebVoter, gives GOP activists the names and addresses of 25 people who live, in most cases, within a couple of blocks from them. The party has asked 60,000 supporters from across the state to figure out what issues animate their neighbors and where they stand in the political spectrum, and report that information back to the party -- with or, possibly, without their neighbors' permission.

Question for the historians: has the GOP always been this creepy? Advanced question for extra credit: do they honestly not see how creepy they are?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

New Book Recs

Avoid if you don't like mysteries or 'chick lit'.

Two new books to hawk today; first up, 'Sleeping with Schubert', in which normal thirty-something Brooklyn lawyer Liza Durbin is surprised to find herself 'inhabited' by the spirit of Franz Schubert. Suddenly she's a piano virtuoso, and Franz (who died at 31) has a lot more music he needs to release to the universe. Why Liza? Who can she trust with her odd secret? 'Sleeping with Schubert' is Bonnie Marsden's debut novel, and it's filled with likable characters in unusual situations. Bittersweet fun.

Next up, 'We'll Always have Parrots', a Meg Langslow mystery. Meg is a blacksmith, which leads her to unusual venues such as Civil War Re-enactors camps and Renfairs and the like. In this latest outing, she finds herself at a sci-fi con, since her actor boyfriend Michael has become the latest hunk-hero as a recurring character on cult-TV-hit Porfiria, Queen of the Jungle. When the series star proves to be a gold-plated bitch, her demise comes as no huge surprise. But Meg has to find the real killer while the con goes on, complete with Amazonian security guards, fanfic smuggling, filking and masquerades. Anyone who's ever been to a con will recognize the venue.

(I provide links to the other Meg Langslow mysteries at my Reading Room blog.)

One book I read lately I want to DE-recommend (decommend?) is Dean Koontz' latest, 'The Taking'. I had noticed during the late eighties and early nineties, Koontz had seemed to fall in with some anti-government far-right nutcases; at least his books resonated with that kind of Tim McVeigh-paranoia. He seemed to have recovered somewhat, and after the charming 'Odd Thomas', I had rather hoped he had stopped drinking the koolaid. But 'The Taking' finds him right back in Paranoia-land, where Global Warming is a liberal conspiracy and our Corrupt Culture is leading us directly to hell. Read Odd Thomas, but eschew The Taking. I provide links to both so you can read the Amazon reviews.

Good news - No stealing Ohio

Security concerns force paper ballots

Ohio's secretary of state pulled the plug Friday on computer voting machines Trumbull County had hoped to use in the November presidential election.

The machines from Diebold Election Systems were being tested to see if the North Canton company had corrected security flaws detected last year in tests ordered by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell said that preliminary findings detected some of those flaws had not been resolved and stopped deployment of the systems.

''As I made clear last year, I will not place these voting devices before Ohio's voters until identified risks are corrected,'' Blackwell said. ''Diebold Election Systems has successfully addressed many, but not all, of the problems that were identified in our first security review. The lack of comprehensive resolution prevents me from giving county boards of elections a green light for this November.''

More at link.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Bush Loyalty Quiz!

How loyal are you to the Boy King? Take the quiz and find out.

How did I do? "Your score is 0 on a scale of 1 to 10. You hate Bush with a writhing passion. You think he is an idiot, a liar, and a warmonger who has been a miserable failure as president. Nothing would give you greater pleasure than seeing him run out of the White House, except maybe seeing him dragged away in handcuffs." Pretty darned accurate quiz!

Busy around the house today...

Tell you what, why don't you go over and admire this electoral-votes map? I found it enormously cheering.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Ozzy for prez...

Top 12 telling parallels between Ozzy Osbourne and George W. Bush

My fave: 5. Ozzy classics: "Don't Blame Me", "Denial", "War Pigs", "Demon Alcohol", Secret Loser", " Thank God For the Bomb," Bush: 'nuff said.

Hopeful signs?

Could the Must-Support-Our-War-President Zombies be stirring to independent life?

Bush support softens in middle

The dozen independent-minded voters sitting around the table here Tuesday night are the face of trouble for President Bush.

Seven of them voted for him in 2000; all 12 are middle-of-the-road folks who sometimes back Republicans, sometimes Democrats. But as the president campaigns for re-election, only four say they are leaning in his direction. None describe their support as rock-solid.

An improving economy? They don't feel it. Talk of new jobs finally being created? "240,000 new jobs at Taco Bell, and our manufacturing is draining away to Indonesia and China," snorts Deborah Harris, 53, a homemaker who voted for Bush four years ago and is undecided now.


If Kerry lived next door, Cheryl Maggard, 48, a retired school-bus driver, says he would be someone "I'd wave at but never get to know." Jody Blair, 33, a homemaker and former teacher, says she could see herself outside Kerry's house, "watching the party through the window."

But they agree that Kerry "looks presidential." They can envision him in the Oval Office, though they want to know more about what he would do before they'll put him there. Two of the voters say they support Kerry now; three more are leaning his way.

If the problem with Kerry is that they don't know him well enough, they seem to feel they know Bush too well.

Yeah, that can be a problem for a candidate - to know him is to feel kind of repulsed contempt for him...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

US supremacy

Kevin Drum shows us that the US leads the civilized world in health care... costs.

Signs, signs, everywhere signs...

Protest signs seen in Duluth.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

More on PFC Hammer

From the Colorado Springs Gazette, Saving Private Hammer. This article has a very handsome pic of Hammer in his new home.

From Alley Cat Allies site, Saving Private Hammer. I suppose the title was too obvious not to use. This article is from the point-of-view of the organization who was called on to help get Hammer to the US. Lots of pics and a link to donate to Alley Cat Allies.

What can I say? I'm a cat-groupie.

Haw story

Making the rounds of the internet:

How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a light bulb?

The Answer is SEVEN:

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be replaced.

2. One to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the light bulb.

3. One to blame the previous administration for the need of a new light bulb.

4. One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs.

5. One to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton Industries one million dollars for a light bulb.

6. One to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the light bulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag.

7. And one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

Aww Story

... as opposed to Awe (as in 'Shock and..')

Tabby gets military rank after Iraq tour

COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) — Fort Carson Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team had a mission: Saving Pvt. Hammer.

Pfc. Hammer is an Iraqi tabby cat the unit adopted after he was born last fall at a base in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.

When Bousfield found out his unit was leaving Iraq in March, he decided he couldn't leave a member of his team behind.


Pfc. Hammer got his name from the unit that adopted him, Team Hammer. Soldiers would tuck Hammer in their body armor during artillery attacks, and in return, Hammer chased mice in the mess hall.

"He was a stress therapist," Bousfield said. "The guys would come back in tired and stressed. Hammer would come back and bug the heck out of you. He wiped away some worries."

Hammer is now home in Colorado.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Bug Man Go-eth?

Oh please, oh please...

DeLay's Corporate Fundraising Investigated

In May 2001, Enron's top lobbyists in Washington advised the company chairman that then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was pressing for a $100,000 contribution to his political action committee, in addition to the $250,000 the company had already pledged to the Republican Party that year.


DeLay declined to comment for this article. Stuart Roy, his spokesman, said: "DeLay is doing everything moral, legal and ethical to increase the Republican majority and advance conservative ideas. He raised legal campaign money for effective political activity and that makes his critics enraged. Unfortunately, some Democrats are making an attempt to criminalize politics."

Cristen D. Feldman, the Texas lawyer who filed the suit, said in response, "I guess DeLay and his team forgot they were from Texas . . . [where] the prohibition against clandestine corporate cash is 100 years old."

I like that 'clandestine corporate cash'... shades of Korrupt Krony Kapitalism.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Must read!

The single greatest event of my life.

So I went to protest Dubya today, as he was visiting my humble little burg of East Lampeter, PA.

I'm not going to ruin the punchline - go read it.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

help! I'm being held hostage...

... in the Dealers Room at the Hunt Valley Marriott!

Seriously, though... going to be a low-posting weekend while I enjoy wheeling and dealing with Vulcans, troubadors and assorted monsters at ShoreLeave sci-fi con. If you're anywhere near Hunt Valley, Maryland, drop in to the Garden Room and say 'hay'.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Sing it, sister

Atrios has left some guest bloggers in charge at Eschaton while he's off doing other things (day job?) and I wanted to give kudos to Athenae for this:

The stuff that's blatantly insane aside, this screed lays out pretty clearly a picture of an anti-gay movement that is deeply dismayed at having totally lost the public relations war, and perplexed at the lack of fire and brimstone that has greeted the spectacle of loving people pledging their lives to one another.

To which I say, what exactly did you expect? You stand in front of a crowd of celebrating couples, some with children, some who have been together their entire lives and bothered no one, some who sang the Star Spangled Banner on the steps of the Boston courthouse, and the only thing you could say in repsonse is that those people were damned to hell? If you really wanted to suit up and do battle against gay marriage, you had to realize you were putting on a pretty ugly uniform.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Photo quiz

Alert readers of DailyKos are asking in the comments... what exactly does Dubya have shoved down the back of his pants in this photo?

There they go again...

... to coin a phrase.

Thwarted by the public in its efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, the Bush administration and the oil companies are now quietly turning their attention to the balance of the Arctic region of Alaska, all the way west to the Chukchi Sea, within sight of Siberia. In advance of its efforts, the administration has jettisoned environmental safeguards and is now threatening the traditional-use rights of the Alaska Natives who have hunted caribou and waterfowl along the Arctic slope for thousands of years.

This plan was announced in Anchorage just as Congress recessed for the Reagan funeral.

More at link.

I guess they decided the most appropriate thing they could do in Reagan's memory is find some wilderness to pillage.

Running with bulls

NYTimes story here: link.

I mean, I guess it's something to do... siphons off the excess testosterone or something. But the point? I mean, you run, the bulls run... you're not chasing them, they're not chasing you. It's ... Jogging with the Bulls.

Veepstakes part II

Kevin Drum points to this WashTimes commentary about the ongoing scuttlebutt about scuttling FoulMouth from the GOP ticket. From the Times:

Thinking along the same lines, Arnold Beichman of Stanford's Hoover Institution made a strong case for Mr. Bush to replace Mr. Cheney with National Security Adviser Condeleezza Rice in these pages of The Washington Times on July 1.

Said Mr. Beichman, "It is now time to open a new dramatic episode in American history, one that would show the world what our democracy means: the choice of an extraordinarily talented African-American woman to run for president of the United States on the Republican ticket, the party of Abraham Lincoln."

My main reservation against Miss Rice is that she is untested electorally, having spent most of her career as a Stanford political science professor. Also, we know nothing about her views on issues outside her area of expertise, foreign policy. What is her position on abortion, tax cuts or Medicare? Even she may not know since she may never have had any reason to think about these or the thousand other issues on which presidential candidates must have positions.

What no one's saying, of course, is that not only is a sovietologist's foreign policy 'experience' rather worthless in a post-soviet world and she hasn't exactly seemed to be learning on the job, but that putting Condi on the ticket might revive talk of her 'my husb... I mean, President Bush' oopsie reported here.

No one denies that she's probably as good at nannying the incumbent as Unca Dick.

Neanderthal Edition

Study Finds Craftsmen Might Be Neanderthal

For decades, evidence from ancient caves suggested that the world's first works of art were created by modern humans when they arrived in Europe about 40,000 years ago, but new research has revived the possibility that the early craftsmen may have been Neanderthals.

Archaeologists using modern dating techniques showed that the supposedly ancient remains of modern humans found buried in a cave in Vogelherd, in southwest Germany, were only between 3,900 and 5,000 years old, far younger than the lovely figurines that someone carved inside the cave more than 30,000 years ago.

Meanwhile, Bush Questions Edwards's Qualifications for Top Job

President Bush on Wednesday questioned the fitness of Sen. John Edwards to assume the presidency, lashing out at the North Carolinian on his home turf just 25 hours after he joined Sen. John F. Kerry's ticket.

Bush had cordially welcomed the freshman senator to the race hours after Kerry announced his choice of running mate, but when asked here how Edwards would stack up against Vice President Cheney, he snapped: "Dick Cheney can be president. Next?"

Um, George, we know that... the question is, can you?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ack, naoo, Captain.

'Scotty' Has Alzheimer's, Agent Says

James M. Doohan, the actor who played Scotty on the '60s "Star Trek" TV series, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, his agent confirmed Tuesday.

Doohan, 84, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's "within the last couple months," agent Steven Stevens told The Associated Press.

He said Doohan is in the beginning stages of the disease, a progressive neurological disorder that afflicted former President Ronald Reagan, who died June 5.

Doohan, who lives in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, also has suffered for some time with Parkinson's disease, diabetes and fibrosis, the latter due to chemical exposure during World War II when he was a soldier in the Canadian military, Stevens said.

Time waits for no man, sigh.

Shrinking reservation

Maybe with any luck, by the time the September Republican convention rolls around, only Bush and Cheney will remain.

First, Blair half-renounces his poodle-hood: "Guantanamo Bay is an anomaly that has at some point got to be brought to an end," Blair told a committee of lawmakers."

Then D'Amato advises Bush to dump Cheney:

President Bush should consider dumping Vice President Dick Cheney from the Republican ticket this year, an influential former GOP senator said Wednesday.

Alfonse D’Amato said Bush should consider putting Secretary of State Colin Powell or Sen. John McCain of Arizona on the GOP ticket.


“Let me note that Vice President Cheney is a decent, honorable, and patriotic American, a man of great intellect, who has served the president and the nation with dedication,” D’Amato said in a statement released by his office. “But we should make no mistake, we are a nation at war with a vicious terrorist foe, and in war hard decisions must be made.”

“As an observer of politics, I believe the president can guarantee his essential re-election by looking to several other notable individuals who would add a great dimension to his ticket as a running mate,” the New York Republican added.

Placing Powell “first and foremost” on his wish list to replace Cheney, D’Amato said the retired general “would help galvanize the nation and offer a truly historic opportunity for American unity and pride.”

D'Amato ends with the maggot-gagging “The president deserves more than simple re-election, he deserves a mandate to continue to lead this nation to peace and prosperity.”

Continue to lead? When's he gonna start?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

My sister explains it to me

Heh. On the subject of the Right's demonizing 'millionaires', my sister says:

What you're seeing is Republican 'values' in action. It's simple once you understand those values. Observe --

Marrying a woman who inherited a fortune gained through the harmless manufacture of condiments - bad.

Inheriting a fortune that your grandaddy made doing business with the Nazis in violation of the Trading With The Enemy Act - good.

Becoming rich through your own efforts as a trial lawyer taking on corporations that maim children - bad.

Becoming rich through your own efforts doing business with state sponsors of terrorism Iran, Iraq, and Libya - good.

See how easy it is?

Well, yeah, once it's explained...

Prepare to repel attacks

Someone over at Bartcop posted a link to this three-year-old article on John Edwards from the Washington Monthly, which details his "Atticus Finch-like" resume of taking on Corporate Evil-doers on behalf of injured widows and orphans. Use it to repel Repub attacks on 'elite millionaire lawyers'.

Dance with those that brung ya

Well, you can't say the Reps are not grateful...

Senate Republicans will target huge legal fees in class-action lawsuits this week as they try to salvage at least one key element of their "tort reform" agenda to revamp the nation's civil litigation system.

More at link.

Heaven forbid those poor helpless corporations find themselves at the mercy of employees or consumers.

the Two Johns

Okay, the pundits are pundicizing and the spinsters are spinning on the subject of John Edwards. Focusing on trivia, as is my wont sometimes, I think John Edwards should volunteer to be called 'Jack'. Because if Kerry does, the Repubs will go apeshit about JFKs etc.

There's nothing more annoying, btw, than Hired Flacks for entitlement-baby Bush taking about the 'millionaires' ticket. To the best of my knowledge, Edwards at least earned his millions, rather than being given them by grateful friends of daddy's.

And while we're at it, can we get people to Shut the Fuck UP about 'no foreign policy experience? Hello, our current leader had hardly ever been out of North America before the Supreme Court selected HIM to 'reign'.

Okay, bad example - current administration's lack of previous foreign policy experience is actually a good indicator that you might actually want a seasoned hand on the job...

Monday, July 05, 2004

Jury Nullification?

One thing I'm wondering about lately and I'm not hearing anyone addressing it...

So we've turned Iraq back over to Iraqis, right? They're in charge of the show, right? (Slight sarcasm.) And one of the tasks we've offloaded to them is trying Saddam Hussein.

So I'm thinking... what if, when all's said and done, they try him and oops, decide he's innocent? (I'm not saying he IS innocent, I hope you realize - I'm talking about the process of 'jury nullification', whereby the impanelled jury decides to ignore the law and the evidence for their own reasons.)

What happens then? Do we say BEEEP, wrong answer, try again? and prove Iraqi sovereignty is a sham? Do we say 'not our problem anymore' and let the Monster of the Middle East walk?

Say we do the latter. Then what happens if Saddam runs -again- for President of Sovereign Iraq? What happens if he wins? (Think Mayor Berry.) Do we invade again? Or do we say, 'clean slate, just keep those rape rooms closed and the WMDs non-existant'?

Is anyone in charge somewhere thinking about these things?

Okay, now I'm scaring myself...

Kind of unappetizing, but mugs and bumperstickers are available for the strong of stomach in the Wonkery.

I crack me up

Mugs, tees and bumperstickers in the Woo Woo Room.

The Truth is Out There

From today's WP; cars' keyless remotes fail, government interference suspected.

Cheney: Pain or Gain

Today's WashPost has an analysis of Dick "If it Feels Good, Do It" Cheney. Best quote:

At a time when Republicans are unified on nearly every other question, a number of well-known party members continue to talk privately about the possibility that Cheney will be replaced before the party's convention at the end of August. White House officials said there was no possibility that would occur. But one GOP official, exasperated with Cheney's continued talk about Iraq's supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, compared him to the Japanese guerrillas who filtered out of the jungle in the 1950s, not realizing World War II was over.

Personally, I think the buzz on the ticket dropping Mr. Charm is wishful thinking on the part of certain wistful Republicans who still haven't noticed the puppet-strings attached to Bush's clothing.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Cats are hiding under the bed

Sterling, Virginia sounds like one great big fat Iraqi wedding right now.

I've been slaving over a hot Photoshop all day. Go visit the Woo Woo Room and admire my new designs and I'll come up with some great new admin-outrages tomorrow.

Better version, Jesus Saves

Tees, mugs, mousepads (so appropriate) in the Woo Woo Room.

George III, George II

Great op-ed in today's NYT from Barbara Ehrenreich, making some pointed comparisons between 1776 and 2004:

George III is accused, for example, of "depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury." Our own George II has imprisoned two U.S. citizens — Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi — since 2002, without benefit of trials, legal counsel or any opportunity to challenge the evidence against them. Even die-hard Tories Scalia and Rehnquist recently judged such executive hauteur intolerable.

It would be silly, of course, to overstate the parallels between 1776 and 2004. The signers of the declaration were colonial subjects of a man they had come to see as a foreign king. One of their major grievances had to do with the tax burden imposed on them to support the king's wars. In contrast, our taxes have been reduced — especially for those who need the money least — and the huge costs of war sloughed off to our children and grandchildren. Nor would it be tactful to press the analogy between our George II and their George III, of whom the British historian John Richard Green wrote: "He had a smaller mind than any English king before him save James II."


The signers further indicted their erstwhile monarch for "taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments." The administration has been trying its best to establish a modern equivalent to the divine right of kings, with legal memorandums asserting that George II's "inherent" powers allow him to ignore federal laws prohibiting torture and war crimes.


By signing Jefferson's text, the signers of the declaration were putting their lives on the line. England was then the world's greatest military power, against which a bunch of provincial farmers had little chance of prevailing. Benjamin Franklin wasn't kidding around with his quip about hanging together or hanging separately. If the rebel American militias were beaten on the battlefield, their ringleaders could expect to be hanged as traitors.

They signed anyway, thereby stating to the world that there is something worth more than life, and that is liberty. Thanks to their courage, we do not have to risk death to preserve the liberties they bequeathed us. All we have to do is vote.

I'd add one thing to Barbara's closing sentence: Make sure your polling place either does not use Diebold machines, or if they do, plan now to vote absentee.

The Force is strong in this one

From Michael Moore's website:

Where do I begin? This past week has knocked me for a loop. "Fahrenheit 9/11," the #1 movie in the country, the largest grossing documentary ever. My head is spinning. Didn't we just lose our distributor 8 weeks ago? Did Karl Rove really fail to stop this? Is Bush packing?

Each day this week I was given a new piece of information from the press that covers Hollywood, and I barely had time to recover from the last tidbit before the next one smacked me upside the head:

** More people saw "Fahrenheit 9/11" in one weekend than all the people who saw "Bowling for Columbine" in 9 months.

** "Fahrenheit 9/11" broke "Rocky III’s" record for the biggest box office opening weekend ever for any film that opened in less than a thousand theaters.

** "Fahrenheit 9/11" beat the opening weekend of "Return of the Jedi."

Now I'm picturing Karl Rove with those weird head-things wrapped around his neck muttering "he's no Jedi" to Georgie the Hutt. Brrr!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

New Design in the Woo Woo Room

I 'overheard' this comment in the recent conversations on the DOJ not being able to access their data and thought it deserved illustration.

Tees available in the Woo Woo Room.

(I do hope the General doesn't take offense...)

The Left Doesn't Need a Limbaugh?

Ellen Goodman sees F911:

There were a few too many cheap shots among the direct hits, conspiracy theories among the solid facts, and tidbits of propaganda in the documentary. Going for the jugular, he sometimes went over the top.

The simple fact that George Bush the First called Moore a "slimeball" makes me itch to call him a "genius." But that's the problem. If the right is after him, does the choir have to sing the filmmaker's praises as our own cuddly and amusing pit bull?

Michael Moore has been called the left-wing answer to Rush Limbaugh. Rush without the OxyContin. But is it heresy to ask whether the left actually wants its own Rush?

Sorry, Ellen, but you're making the wrong analogy. There were a LOT of things in F911 that the majority of Americans didn't know - the Bush-Saud connection, the President sitting like a deactivated android while America was under attack - that they would have known if the press had been doing its job for the past three years. The fact that it takes a film-maker to bring out this stuff is disgraceful, but the disgrace doesn't redound to Michael Moore, but to the AWOL-presscorps, and to a certain degree, to the American public for willing to be so misled.

We may not need a Lefty Limbaugh, but we sure need more Moores.

Learning from example

Fear of Hidden Agenda Swung Canadian Vote :

Political analysts said the unexpected, though minor, victory on Monday by the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Paul Martin was a result of fears that the Conservative Party had a hidden agenda. The analysts said the Liberals played up the Conservative agenda -- and voters listened. Some voters, the analysts said, feared the Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, would cut taxes, repeal same-sex marriage rights, abandon environmental treaties, change immigration policies and move the country closer to the United States.

More at link. It's at least nice to know that at least other people are learning from our recent history.

More phony-baloney from Iraq

Army Stage-Managed Fall of Hussein Statue

The Army's internal study of the war in Iraq criticizes some efforts by its own psychological operations units, but one spur-of-the-moment effort last year produced the most memorable image of the invasion.

As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel — not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images — who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking.

After the colonel — who was not named in the report — selected the statue as a "target of opportunity," the psychological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, according to an account by a unit member.

Has there been one genuine moment in this whole charade? Other than the genuinely dead, I mean.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Back to quills and clerks in eyeshades!

Justice Department says it can't share lobbying data because computer system will crash

The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.

"Implementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating," wrote Thomas J. McIntyre, chief in the Justice Department's office for information requests.

Advocates for open government said the government's assertion that it could not copy data from its computers was unprecedented but representative of generally negative responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.

"This was a new one on us. We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them," Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity said Tuesday. The watchdog group in Washington made the request in January. He said the group expects to appeal the Justice Department's decision.


"It sounds like incredible negligence for an agency that is keeping public records to keep them in such a precarious condition," said Stephen Doig, interim director at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. "I've never heard the excuse that making the equivalent of a backup copy would somehow cause steam to rise out of the computer."

The government said an overhaul of the system should be finished by December and copies should be available then.

Copies available in December? How Conveeeeeeenient.

Thanks to Political Animal Kevin (grrrr!) for the link.

The Good Old Days

Whatever else you can say about the Bush Administration, it's certainly true that they've brought back the Good Old Days...

First they regained that lost legacy deeply mourned, the Divine Right of the rulers to set aside any laws they choose. Then they rediscovered the glorious ability to incarcerate anyone indefinately on their own say-so. Soon they had progressed to the quaint old art of torturing those thus incarcerated. Yesterday, we learned that denouncing of heretics is making a comeback. Whatever next, you may ask?

Why, serfdom, of course. Read it and weep.

..."I cursed my fate -- not having a feeling my life was secure, knowing I could not go back, and being treated like a kind of animal," said Ajayakumar, who worked for less than $7 a day.

Working alongside Americans trying to rebuild Iraq are an estimated tens of thousands of foreign contractors without whom the reconstruction could not function. Many toil for wages that are one-tenth -- or less -- of what U.S. workers might demand, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.


One evening soon afterward, when they were handed a dinner of beef curry that hadn't been fully cooked, several dozen of them went to their manager, who worked for Gulf Catering, to complain. According to the workers, the man told them they would not get any more food. "We bought you," he reportedly said.

A question that needs to be asked is why are Halliburton et al importing what are essentially slaves to do the work when unemployment in Iraq approachs 80%? Oh, of course... Iraqis might object to eating spoiled food and being paid pennies by their imperial overlords.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

What country are we living in again? What century did you say this was? First we have people writing legal briefs justifying torture, and spelling out the Divine Right of the President to hold people in dungeons vile for as long as he chooses. Now this:

" A Catholic lawyer has filed heresy charges against Sen. John Kerry with the Archdiocese of Boston". More at link (warning, link takes you to the Moonie Times.)

Man, I miss the Twentieth Century already...

Early signs of sociopathology

From the Tulsa SPCA:

Another dog, who recently had a litter of puppies, is also at the SPCA. This dog, about a year and a half old heeler mix, has been named Amaya. She’s frightened and traumatized. When the neighbor found her Monday morning, she was laying with her six dead puppies. The neighbor said six small puppies were dead at the same location where the two surviving dogs were rescued. All dead puppies had fireworks in their mouths and their mouths were partially blown off. Neighbors called police Sunday night and reported three teenage boys walking through the neighborhood with lighter fluid and randomly shooting fireworks rockets. Police are investigating.

Then from their front page:

Animal cruelty is not limited to periodic fireworks at the Fourth of July. It happens year around. The Tulsa SPCA emphasizes that animal abuse is people abuse, the beginning of a pattern in people who seek power and control by making other living beings suffer. This kind of cruelty does not remain isolated only to small animals. Abusers of animals graduate to abuse children, spouses and the elderly. It covers a wide range of behavior against animals from neglect to malicious killing. The burning and killing of these dogs was intentional. There are many studies linking animal and people abuse and the FBI has recognized the connection since the 1970s, when bureau analysis of the lives of imprisoned serial killers suggested that as children they had killed or tortured animals.

I find this interesting if taken in context with this report, from '00, in which NYT columnist Kristof writes of George Bush's younger years (the report has aged into NYT's paid archives, but was preserved here):

In addition to church groups, various civic organizations were also active, and one of the local rituals for children was the meetings with cookies and milk at the home of a nice old lady who represented the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The cookies were digested more thoroughly than the teachings.
''We were terrible to animals,'' recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out.
''Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them,'' Mr. Throckmorton said. ''Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up.''
When he was not blowing up frogs, young George -- always restless and something of a natural leader -- would lead neighborhood children on daredevil expeditions around town, seeing how close they could come to breaking their necks.

I find the boys-will-be-boys jocularity of the reporting to be particularly repulsive, in light of what is now known (and was known in '00) about children who display these behaviors. Fortunately, George apparently found socially 'acceptable' outlets for his tendencies, gloating over condemned prisoners as governor of Texas and giving his surrogates in Iraq legal cover to torment hapless Iraqis in their care.

All for Show

William Saletan has a great article in Slate about the abuse of the language being perpetrated by both parties - to wit, the phrase "show leadership".

"9/11: A leader showed strength and compassion," begins the narrator of this ad. "President Bush. He held us together." Indeed he did. As evidence, the screen displays image after image of Bush hugging people. First he's hugging a firefighter. Then he's gazing compassionately into the eyes of a man in a red, white, and blue cap. Then he's hugging another firefighter. Then he's sitting next to Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld while someone, somewhere, is hunting down terrorist killers. "But what if Bush wasn't there?" the narrator asks. "Could John Kerry have shown this leadership?"

Show, show, show. This is what passes for leadership in the age of television. Leadership used to be the noun form of a verb. A leader was someone who led. Now a leader is someone who "shows leadership." Politicians don't lead. They show.


This ad is a shining example. Cut through the hugs and gazes, and what's left of Bush's leadership? The ad's only substantial claim is that Bush "began to hunt down terrorist killers." Indeed he did, if you give him credit for everything done by U.S. troops and agents during his administration. And what's the upshot? A week ago, the State Department was forced to concede that, contrary to its initial assertions, terrorism increased sharply last year, producing the highest number of fatal terrorist shootings and bombings since 1998 and the highest number of significant terrorist incidents in at least 20 years. What does the ad say about this? Nothing. "President Bush will win this war on terror," it insists. As evidence, it shows Bush pointing his hand with decisive confidence.

Saletan goes on to quote Kerry also abusing the verb 'show'.

Still, I'd like to point out minor differences; Kerry seems to be using the verb as a synonym for 'demonstrate' as in 'demonstrate leadership' - why this construct is preferred over the active verb 'lead' I couldn't tell you.

Bush, on the other hand, seems to mean 'play-act' as in 'put on a show of leadership', rather like his campaign's website, where 'compassion' seems to mean 'appearing for photo-ops with many ethnic people'.

I should point out that one is only a leader if one has followers who actually, well, you know - follow one's example. Can Bush point to an upsurge in the number of firemen receiving larger numbers of hugs? Are more rich white people having their photos taken with poor black people? If not, it's safe to say that Bush is really only play-acting leadership, rather than demonstrating it.