Thursday, September 30, 2004

Will the last one out turn off the light

Damn Bill Kristol to hell!! Strong words, but follow me, please.

This is the man who, as one of the founders of The Project For The New American Century "think tank" was one of the major supporters, and arguably one of the architects of the idealistic yet clearly insane war in Iraq.

And as Editor of The Weakly Standard, the leading right wing rag read by all right wing Kool-Aid drinkers in D.C., he was able to promote the war from 2 different, and conflicting directions. Not only was he making policy, along with Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney et al, but he was also reporting (cheerleading) on the topic.

Today, in the NYTimes, he has the unbelievable gall to co-opt John Kerry's words spoken before the Senate in 1972:
You have said that we cannot cut and run from Iraq and that we could "realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years." But if you now consider the war to have been a mistake, how could you, as president, "ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake''?
You jerk! You stand there and wring your hands like Igor watching the monster created by Frankenstein with your help, and then criticize the efforts to destroy the monster. At long last, have you no decency? If you did, you'd take the brave way out and commit ritual suicide. Instead, you throw darts at those who would clean up your global dirty diapers.

In a related vein, Jeffrey Dubner notes in The American Prospect that:
It’s time for disgruntled conservatives to decide which is more important: their president or their principles...

“Abysmal.” “Unrealistic.” “Unwise.” Liberals and Democrats who utter these words are derided as “Bush haters.” But when such epithets come from Republicans, including some of the most important conservative figures of the last few decades, a different insult is often appropriate: “hypocrites.” On issue after issue, conservatives have watched this president betray their hopes and, worse, make future progress all the more difficult. Yet few have followed these complaints to their logical conclusion.
Time and time again, we see the right bow to power over principles. John McCain, for example, hates Bush, was deeply hurt by Bush/Rove's attacks in 2000, yet dutifully treads the campaign trail professing unity with Der Leader.

Makes me wonder exactly what their principles are:
  • ProLife means fetuses are safe, yet servicemen are expendable.
  • State's rights are wonderful, except in Florida.
  • Marriage is sacred, except for, you know, people of the same (color)gender.
I could go on, you get the idea. We have a leader and executive team that are totally ideological, and frankly, insane, not connected to reality.

Reminds me of the frog and the scorpion. They met at the riverbank, both needing to get across. The frog, who could swim, was about to take off, when the scorpion asked for a ride.

Frog said "But if I let you ride on my back, you'll sting me."

Scorpion said "No, my friend. I can't swim. If I sting you, I'll drown. I need to get across too, It would be counter-productive for me to hurt you."

So the frog lets the scorpion on his back, and starts off across the river. About halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog, fatally wounding him. As they both sink below the water, the frog asks why. The scorpion, with his last breath, replies: "It's my nature."

It's the nature of the far right to push for power, and to disregard principles. And it's shameful that the moderate Republicans won't stand up against ideas and concepts they clearly don't support.

Top Ten Things Kerry Should Say To Bush At The Debate:

10. Want me to teach you to ride a bike?

9. Can you even spell al Qaeda?

8. How many Iraqi should a man mow down, before they call him a man?

7. Mr. President, you saw the pictures of the atrocities at Abu Ghraib. Do you think the insurgents currently holding hostages will want to treat their "detainees" by the our standards of conduct?

6. You want us to accept you as America's CEO, and believe that you can make good business decisions. Yet you traded Sammy Sosa! What the f**k?

5. Mr. President, you're Methodist, I'm Catholic. Do you know the difference between Wahabi, Sunni, and Shi'ite Muslims?

4. On Sep. 11, 2001, did you take time to finish reading "The Pet Goat?"

3. I knew George H. W. Bush. George H. W. Bush was a friend of mine. And Mr. President, you're no George H. W. Bush.

2. It's pronounced new-klee-ur, you idiot!

1. You're fired!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I know what I like...

This is making its way around the internet (thanks, Mom). I wish I could credit the author, but I'm glad to post it. I also wish it wasn't so true. Funny, yes, but sadly true.
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry. In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his workday. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It's noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification. He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine drinking, cheese eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy...

Lots of news today; let's get to it.

First, Dubya is giving a campaign speech press conference right now in Florida, live on CNN. He's mentioning how all the faith based charities are doing such a bang-up job of helping, and he's READING FROM A FREAKING SCRIPT!. He can't even speak extemporaneously about hurricanes! Anyway...

Ezra at Pandagon smacks down that smarmy prick Ralph Reed lying about the 9-11 commission Report on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show last night. Reed is one of the oiliest hypocrites around, he sounds smart but isn't really quite as cool as he thinks he is.

Lew Rockwell has this column from a soldier named Al Lorentz who's on active duty in Iraq, telling Why We Cannot Win.
Here are the specific reasons why we cannot win in Iraq.

First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as "terrorists, criminals and dead-enders."

Kos has the follow-up; he's being brought up on charges by the Army:
The military chain of command is considering charging Al with violation of Article 134 for making a statement with the intent to promote disloyalty or disaffection toward the U.S. by any member of the Armed forces [...]

The military chain of command is also considering charging Al with violation of 1344.10, the conduct of partisan political activity, and violation of Standards of Conduct for unauthorized use of Government assets to create and email stories.

This one is laughable, as active duty members apparently constituted 3% of the delegation at the Republican National Convention only a few weeks ago. Do you think those military members will be accused of violating 1344.10?

Tell the truth, go to jail. Nice.

The American Prospect Online points out more Dubya hypocrisy: He's lying about health care coverage for the National Guard troops serving in Iraq:

During his recent speech at the National Guard Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas, President Bush touted his pride and steadfast support for his erstwhile brothers in arms.


All full-time military personnel are eligible for the military’s TRICARE health plan, as are reservists called up for active duty. After reservists are deactivated, however, they generally lose their TRICARE coverage following a short, transitional grace period. Having the option to buy into the military's the military’s TRICARE coverage would be attractive to many reservists and their families, as it offers comprehensive policies at very low cost.

In 2002, a General Accounting Office report found that as many as one-fifth of the nation’s 1.2 million part-time soldiers lacked health insurance. This startled many lawmakers into action, and, in May 2003, Senators Tom Daschle and Lindsay Graham successfully pushed for an amendment to the Senate’s version of the fiscal year 2004 Defense Authorization bill that would protect reservists from going uninsured by allowing them to buy into TRICARE when not on active duty.

Though the “Graham-Daschle amendment” had overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, the administration sought to scuttle the proposal as it moved to the House.

Guess we can afford transportation to Iraq, but not health care for the soldier's families.

Editor & Publisher tells us that the CIA is so upset about the direction Iraq is going that they're virtually at war with the White House:
Conditions in Iraq appear to be deteriorating so badly that CIA officials are now leaking to reporters left and right, signaling a new dynamic in press coverage of the war. Columnist Robert Novak noted this on Monday in a column titled, "Is CIA at War With Bush?"


"People at the CIA 'are mad at the policy in Iraq because it's a disaster, and they're digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper,' said one former intelligence officer who maintains contact with CIA officials. 'There's no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments.'
Meanwhile, President Smiley Face keeps on spinning like the Energizer Bunny. Oh wait, the Energizer Bunny is actually useful. My bad.

Paul Krugman, in yesterday's NYTimes, really let's loose on the shallowness of the media.:
Let's face it: whatever happens in Thursday's debate, cable news will proclaimPresident Bush the winner. This will reflect the political bias so evident during the party conventions. It will also reflect the undoubted fact that Mr. Bush does a pretty good Clint Eastwood imitation.

Sadly, we will hear about:
  • tans
  • steadfastness
  • body language
  • hair
We probably won't hear about:
  • failure in Iraq
  • more than 1000 soldiers dead
  • corporate welfare
  • North Korea's nukes
  • tax giveaways to millionaires
  • Patriot Act abuses
  • letting al Zarqawi get away
With this so called liberal media (SCLM), who needs Fair and Balanced?

Alterman has reader's questions to Dubya, both yesterday and today. Some samples:
"You have presided over two of the worst intelligence failures in history, your Sec of Defense failed to plan for the occupation of Iraq, your White House staff committed a federal offense in 'outing' a CIA agent, your budget team lied to the US Congress about the cost of your Medicare bill, why, Mr. President, has no one lost their job in your administration?"

"Mr. President, you've accused John Kerry of being on indecisive on issues. But you yourself have changed your opinion on issues including the establishment of a cabinet level homeland security department, an independent 9/11 commission, steel tariffs, and more. What's the difference between being indecisive, and changing your mind?"

"Mr. President, you have accused John Kerry of not supporting the troops because he did not vote in favor of the funding bill that contained funds for basic soldier gear such as body armor. My question is who sent them into battle without that equipment in the first place?"
Read the rest, add your own, either here or at Altercation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Voting Rights Assault 2004

That the right has no regard for law when dealing with their goals is made ever more clear by the latest from Ohio, where the Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, is using an obscure, and illegal law to block new voter registration. Of course, the new voters are largely Democrats, responding to active GOTV drives all over the country.

MyDD has one of the best takes on this:
Remember that story over the weekend on how Democrats are crushing Republicans in new voter registration in Florida and Ohio? Well, in a move that would make a Mississippi election board from the 1950's proud, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is attempting to block thousands of those new registrations because of paper stock (PDF):

Voters-rights advocates are criticizing two recent decisions by Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell that they say will unfairly limit some people's ability to vote Nov. 2. Blackwell's office has told county boards of elections to follow strictly two provisions in Ohio election law:
  • One requires Ohio voter registration cards be printed on thick, 80-pound stock paper.
  • The other ordered boards to strictly interpret the rules regarding provisional ballots, the ones cast by voters who move before the election but are still registered in Ohio.
The paper-stock issue is frustrating Montgomery County Board of Elections officials, who have a backlog of registrations to complete. If they get an Ohio voter registration card on paper thinner than required, they are mailing a new card out to the voter. But if they still have the backlog by the registration deadline, Oct. 4, voters will not have another chance to get their correct paperwork in, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County board. In Montgomery County there is a backlog of around 4,000 registrations, Harsman said. A few hundred could be affected by this provision, he said.

This is utterly despicable and un-American. This is an obvious, partisan attempt to disenfranchise new voters and deny them their civil rights in a state where new voters tend to be minorities and working class. Notify your local news media about this travesty. Drop Blackwell a line, or ten, as well.

J. Kenneth Blackwell-R
180 E. Broad St., 15th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Atrios details the section of the Voting Rights Act wherein the Ohio law is clearly in violation of Federal law:

Section 1971

Sec. 1971. - Voting rights

No person acting under color of law shall -...


deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election;

ACT (Americans Coming Together) has an even more proactive stance, having started an online petition to said Sec'y of State here:

Desperation and 80 Pound Paper Stock In Ohio

With only a few days left before the registration deadline here in Ohio, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is trying to bar thousands of newly registered voters from the polls.

Citing an arcane ruling that requires voter registration cards be printed on 80 pound stock paper, Blackwell is threatening to void registrations submitted on a lighter weight paper, demanding they re-apply. There is no time to reapply and thousands of voters could be left off the rolls.

This is not only unethical, it’s illegal. The 14th Amendment grants every citizen the right to vote—regardless of race, gender, creed, or paper stock.

Republicans in Ohio are scared—with good reason—ACT’s Get-Out-the-Vote effort is working --in Ohio we’re out-registering Republicans by 10 to 1.

Go there, sign the petition, call his office, and tell friends about this crap.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Patriotic Songs, part 2

My country used to be,
sweet land of liberty,
of this I weep;
Land where the Right has lied,
Land of Neocon pride,
1000 troops have died,
let protest ring!
Any others out there?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

Put a fork in 'em, they're done. CBS, in a bold effort to revive their stricken news bureau, today seemed to decide to NOT present any news critical of the Bush Regime, no matter how well sourced and documented that news may be!
The New York Times reports that CBS has decided not to do a report on the well known forged documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.

Quote the NYTimes:
"We now believe it would be inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election," the spokeswoman, Kelli Edwards, said in a statement."

"According to the Newsweek report, the "60 Minutes" segment was to have detailed how the administration relied on false documents ..."
Well, that ought to show the critics. CBS is still the hard hitting, well researched outfit we have known for many years. Just not when it comes to the AWOL warrior. He must now officially be considered sacrosanct. mustn't ruffle His feathers. He can lie about Iraq, lie about tax cuts, lie about education, but now CBS says "no no no, mustn't touch." In other words, If the Bush lies by using known forged documents, and then the administration commits treason by "outing" a CIA agent, no biggie. If CBS doesn't fully vet their sources about Bush's well documented TANG frolic, then dismantle the entire organization and investigate! Investigate! Investigate!

Corrente and Kevin Drum seem to be first to post about this. Kevin's comment: "If this is the liberal media, conservatives can have it." really sums up the frustration many of us feel about this crap.

Joshua Micah Marshall has been bobbing and weaving about the Italian/Niger connection for quite some time, and has promised explosive revelations. I don't think he's delivered quite yet, so perhaps he can make good on the promise of THE BIG EXPOSE soon, so we can get this back into the news cycle. Meanwhile, he can provide the deepest background that I know of. Here's his latest.

how strange the change from major to minor...

From The Onion (thanks, Rob):
Executives at Atlantic Records announced Monday that multi-platinum recording artist Matchbox Twenty, which set sales records in 2000 for its mega-hit release Mad Season, has finally finished watering down tracks on its long-awaited new album Beige.

"Everyone here at Atlantic is thrilled about what's sure to be the biggest-selling, least-rocking record of the year," Atlantic public-relations spokeswoman Janet Cosgrove said. "It's been a long wait, but the incredibly boring results speak for themselves. Beige is bigger and blander than anything Matchbox Twenty has ever done."
Pure snark, nasty but funny. I've never worked with these guys, don't know them, but the article is pretty dead on re: the mainstream music world today. Record labels run by lawyers, bands who consider themselves 'artistes,' and a public who thinks Avril Levigne plays rock'n'roll.

Thank God for the following:
Loretta Lynn had the balls to work with Jack White;

Elliot Smith gave us some honest music before he left;

Brett Gurewitz released Joe Strummer's final albums;

Iggy Pop is still making music;

Nellie McKay gets some publicity.
Care to give thanks for more? Add some comments.

Edit: A friend sent me a response that made me reflect a bit. I meant, by saying God Bless these people, that I was glad to have some music available that didn't conform to record company convention, not that I considered them divinely inspired (well Elliot perhaps is now.) Van Lear Rose wasn't what I hoped for, and yes, Interscope would release an album of Jack White farting if they thought it would sell units. I don't even own an Iggy album. But I'm still glad these people are doing what they do. And that applies to these folks too:

Thank God for:

Gillian Welch always keeping it real;

Andre 3000 took hip hop into the future, and is a really nice guy;

Brian Wilson hung out with VanDyke Parks and gave us SMile;

Los Lonely Boys remind us how much fun a 3 piece band can be;

Vote For Change has attracted some heavy talent, like Springsteen, Pearl Jam, REM...

All good stuff.

Friday, September 24, 2004

It's The Politics, Stupid!

Kevin Drum has it right:

Before the war, we passed up a chance to take out terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi — for political reasons. We invaded with too few troops — for political reasons. We lowballed the cost of the war — for political reasons. We ignored the UN and then turned around and pleaded for their help — for political reasons. Then we installed Iyad Allawi as president behind the UN's back — for political reasons.

Of course, we've heard this before from John DiIulio. Suskind said:

"There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," says DiIulio. "What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."

All decisions are being made by the political arm of this beast; the policy arm has withered and atrophied. Occasionally it will twitch and jerk, and produce something like the despicable "Middle-Class Tax Cut," somethings for which both parties ought to be ashamed.

Or this little gem, wherein the GOP ruled House has so much spare time that it can deal with such weighty issues. Of course, this keeps them from looking into DeLay's fiscal misadventures in Texas.

Gotta love the 2 party system. 2 Americas, and my America isn't having a party.

My Country 'tis of Thee

I pledge allegiance to the idea
that was the United States of America,
And not to the repression for which it now stands,
one nation, under Bush, divided,
with Liberty and Justice for only some.

Any other versions out there? Let me know...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

One Of These Is Not Like The Others

What do these men all have in common?

Edward John Smith

Max Pruss

Joseph Hazelwood

Ernest M. McSorley

Piero Calamai

George W. Bush

The first five commanded ships that all met with disaster. They either died as a result, or were never offered another command, and rightly so.

We have strange ways of reacting when we feel our trust has been breached. If a friend doesn’t repay a loan, we likely won’t offer more cash. If a priest has molested a child, we condemn the entire church. If a spouse strays, it will take time before we trust them again. We’re human, we have feelings, and when those feelings are hurt, we try not to be hurt again.

I know, this doesn’t always seem to be so. Consider the number of abused women who follow the sage advice: “stand by your man.” Or Red Sox fans; they still have hope that they won’t be let down. A popular apocryphal definition of insanity is repeating an action and expecting a different outcome. And clearly, as a people we are ambivalent about being hurt and having our trust betrayed. In some cases we recoil in terror, in other cases we embrace our abusers.

Which brings me to the sixth person above. He has been a Captain of our ship of state. He has led us into a failed and fraudulent “War on Terror” with the resulting deaths of over 1000 American men and women. He has attacked the straw man of Saddam Hussein while ignoring North Korea and Iran. He has started a redistribution of wealth that would make Marie Antoinette proud (and has made Grover Norquist very happy.) He has encouraged his minions to ignore the U.S. Constitution (John Ashcroft, Ted Olson, Alberto Gonzalez.) He has unashamedly favored corporate interests over those of people (Enron, Halliburton, et al.) The list of transgressions is well known to most of us.

Yet, in a display of hubris rarely seen, he asks for another chance. He says that this time, he will not hit us again fix everything. This time he will not molest altar boys fail to take on the terrorists. This time he will pay back the loan offer more tax cuts to his base jump start the economy. And like deluded Red Sox fans, or tragic abused wives, almost half the country wants to give him a chance.

Put another way, would you ask O. J. to give you a shave?

(edited to correct links)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Progress is Our Most Important Product

The message of the day is that it's going to hell in a handbasket in Iraq. Need evidence? Consider this:

from Sidney Blumenthal:

Far Graver Than Viet Nam

Most senior US military officers now believe the war on Iraq has turned into a disaster on an unprecedented scale

'Bring them on!" President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is "winning" in Iraq. "Our strategy is succeeding," he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday.

But, according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

from Associated Press:

Group Offers Bush Bleak Iraq Assessment

The National Intelligence Council presented President Bush (news - web sites) this summer with three pessimistic scenarios regarding the security situation in Iraq (news - web sites), including the possibility of a civil war there before the end of 2005.

In a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate, the council looked at the political, economic and security situation in the wartorn country and determined that — at best — a tenuous stability was possible, a U.S. official said late Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Need more? Well, even the Republicans are starting to go off the reservation, at least some of the ones who still have principles, like Chuck Hagel & Richard Lugar.

From The NYTimes, via The Indianapolis Star:

Senators sound alarm over Iraq

Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday that the Bush administration's request to divert more than $3 billion from reconstruction work in Iraq to security measures was a sign that the American campaign in Iraq is in serious trouble.

The criticism came as the existence of a highly classified -- and pessimistic -- National Intelligence Estimate about the future security and stability of Iraq was revealed

.And now Kofi Annan has finally come out of hiding, although not without some petty criticisms:

Iraq war allies rebuff UN Chief

Key states who joined the US-led invasion of Iraq have rejected claims by the United Nations secretary general that the war was illegal.

Kofi Annan told the BBC the decision to take action in Iraq contravened the UN charter and should have been made by the Security Council, not unilaterally

.So where do we go from here? Well, we could try and find bin Laden again...oh, wait, we're really not trying very hard says The NYTimes:

C.I.A. Unit on bin Laden Is Understaffed, a Senior Official Tells Lawmakers

Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency has fewer experienced case officers assigned to its headquarters unit dealing with Osama bin Laden than it did at the time of the attacks, despite repeated pleas from the unit's leaders for reinforcements, a senior C.I.A. officer with extensive counterterrorism experience has told Congress.
And finally, here's the lovely and talented Paul Krugman:

Taking On The Myth

On Sunday, a celebrating crowd gathered around a burning U.S. armored vehicle. Then a helicopter opened fire; a child and a journalist for an Arabic TV news channel were among those killed. Later, the channel repeatedly showed the journalist doubling over and screaming, "I'm dying; I'm dying."

Such scenes, which enlarge the ranks of our enemies by making America look both weak and brutal, are inevitable in the guerrilla war President Bush got us into. Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

U.S. news organizations are under constant pressure to report good news from Iraq. In fact, as a Newsweek headline puts it, "It's worse than you think." Attacks on coalition forces are intensifying and getting more effective; no-go zones, which the military prefers to call "insurgent enclaves," are spreading - even in Baghdad. We're losing ground.

Swell. I just can't say more.

Yes I can.

Norman Podhoretz says:

World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win

Now "our entire security as a nation"—including, to a greater extent than in 1947, our physical security—once more depends on whether we are ready and willing to accept and act upon the responsibilities of moral and political leadership that history has yet again so squarely placed upon our shoulders. Are we ready? Are we willing? I think we are, but the jury is still out, and will not return a final verdict until well after the election of 2004.
Cute. We seem to have some disagreements here. One one hand, we have people who actually know what's going on in Iraq. On the other hand, we have people who are blinded by the light of their neo-con fantasies. I don't know, for now, I think I'll stick with, you know, actual generals and such.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Gift That Keeps Giving

Ezra at Pandagon has a new post up here, which links to a Greg Palast post here. Confused? Palast has done more than anyone else to blow the smoke from the Florida 2000 vote count debacle. He comes up with some serious shit, and his sources and data always seem to be well vetted.

But an a related topic, didja ever notice how the message of Ben Barnes' interview on 60 minutes has been totally lost in the fog of proportional spacing, th superscripts, and kerning? Reading some of the "experts" reminds me of a high school nerd's sweaty jerk off version of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, with Beavis and Butthead giggling in the background. Focus, people! Don't get caught up in the chatter, keep your eyes on the target. If Palast's reporting is true, and sadly, even if it's not, it is the most damaging story yet for the crowd from Crawford. And as Ezra says, pass it on to your friends, anyone, including local media. Spread the word.

Here's the first part of Ezra's post; read it all, please.

Tomorrow's Headlines Today

Now, I don't know if Palast's reporting is true, but if it is, then that's it for George. Again, I can't confirm it so you should all go read it yourselves, but here's the outline:

• Barnes, as he now admits, pulled strings to get a young George W. Bush into the Guard.

• Barnes, a former Lt. Governor of Texas, was a corporate lobbyist when Bush ran for governor in 1994.

• Barnes' client, GTech, was accused of corruption (and were being investigated by the FBI for attempting to influence lawmakers) and about to lose its license to run the Texas state lottery.

• Barnes made a deal with Bush, under which he kept silent about Bush's Guard connections if Bush got Gtech the deal again.

• Bush spoke to the head of the lottery commission and the commission reversed itself, giving GTech a no-bid contract.

• Barnes got paid $23 million, Bush took the governor's mansion.

Going For The One

Many writers and bloggers have taken lately to cataloging the errors, missteps, lies and foul acts of the Bush administration.:

Top 10 reasons Bush should not be elected President by corrente,

Altercation by Eric Alterman,

Why Vote For John Kerry, (from Molly Ivins via DailyKos

Why Vote For John Kerry? Part Deux, (Daily Kos)

Why Vote For John Kerry? Part III, (Kos again)

The common thread in all of these, and other commentaries, is that we need to focus on the failures of the Bush folks, and not let them define the debate.

So many people I talk to are still caught up in trivialities: one really bright studio manager I know responds to virtually everything I bring up with "But, but Clinton lied." The logical disconnect, while initially staggering, is indicative of that felt by many "normal" people, who look upon the whole political debate today as being a rational exercise, conducted by worthy opponents who disagree, with respect.

It is critical to keep these points in focus. Each of us should develop our own mantra, and expound on the topics that resonate within us. For some it will be Iraq and the horrific loss of life, tremendous expense, and ultimate futility of "democratically." For others, it will be Homeland Security, underfunded bastard child that it is. For others still it will be 9/11, criminally predictable, and yet under-investigated.

Some may feel particularly incensed by Abu Ghraib, and the total denial of Geneva Convention compliance. Others, perhaps veterans, may be touched by the lack of preparation and equipment sent with the troops to Iraq. And some may even be really pissed off that a manifestly insane idea set forth by the New American Century folks should be used as a proving ground for American hegemony, using young soldiers as raw meat fed to the war machine for a "cause."

Whatever the issue, keep it in focus. Don't be distracted by Times New Roman superscripts, or Swift Boat hankers, or Cheney's guttural rumbling of doom. The real issue is the total utter failure of the Bush gang to do anything good for the USA.

If I trusted a parental figure to guide me to safety and comfort, and instead I was abused, lied to, malnourished, and beaten, I would NEVER want to trust that person again. How then, should we trust Bush et al with another chance at surrogate parenthood? They have failed the test. And we need to keep reminding people.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Agony And The Irony

Sunday night was boring re: TV, so my wife and I watched The Perfect Storm, where, sadly, people die as a result of a hurricane. Tonight she commented that it was at best ironic, and at worst insensitive, that programmers went with this film, while, you know, real people are dying because of hurricanes. Was it sweeps week, or was someone at the network just being thick?

Failure's No Success At All

Eric Alterman is really mad. See, he thinks that things in this country have been going badly for some time, and yet somehow, a lot of people don't seem to notice how reality conflicts with the nightly news. And as usual, he does his best to educate us.

Is it the SCLM?

Is it the administration?

Is it just apathy among the populace?

Actually, the correct answer is D: All The Above. Here's part of what he says:

...America’s president, its vice-president and their advisers would be capable of the following:

  • Bush and company specifically ignored multiple warnings of just such an attack.

  • Bush and company lied to the heroes of 9/11 about the health and safety implications of breathing the air down at Ground Zero—my own family included.

  • Bush and company immediately sought to manipulate the grief and anger of the attacks to launch an unnecessary and counterproductive war against Iraq which has resulted in over a thousand needless American military deaths and U.S. soldiers turning into occupiers and in some case torturers.

  • Bush and company lied to the nation about the responsibility for the attack, trying to pin it on Saddam Hussein who had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

  • Bush and company allowed its friends in the Saudi royal family to hide its relationship to the killers.

  • Bush and company made only a lackluster effort to capture the killers, allowing many to escape at Tora Bora and pulling agents and resources out of Afghanistan to feed its obsession with Iraq.

  • Bush and company did everything they could to prevent and later, undermine an investigation of why 9/11 was allowed to happen.

  • Bush and company continue to ignore their responsibility to protect the nation from another attack, failing to protect its ports, nuclear and chemical plants, and its most vulnerable urban targets and instead, have actually gone out of their way to inspire more such attacks, despite intelligence warnings on this very topic.

  • Bush and company have destroyed the sympathy our nation enjoyed (and deserved) in the immediate aftermath of the attack and have instead turned that sympathy into global hatred and disgust, further endangering our citizens.

  • Bush and company have repeatedly manipulated the powerful imagery of the attacks for their own partisan political purposes.

  • Bush and company have repeatedly cowed the media into ignoring, and when that’s impossible, apologizing for, much of the above.

For all of the above, the men and women who people this administration deserved not merely to be repudiated politically but held accountable both morally and legally. Instead it is they who attack and impugn patriots like lifetime public servants Richard Clarke and Anthony Zinni, whose only crimes were to call them honestly to account for their catastrophic dishonesty, incompetence, and ideological fanaticism. Since September 11, President Bush and company have accomplished what the terrorists could not; they have divided us against ourselves. That so much of the mainstream media have proven ineffective-or worse—cooperative with their deceptive efforts give one cause for an even deeper pessimism. One’s only solace, I suppose, is that we have, as a nation, been through worse—though never, it must be added, under quite such feckless leadership.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Yours Is No Disgrace

From the NYTimes:

Seymour Hersh, in his forthcoming book, says:

"the roots of the Abu Ghraib scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in the reliance of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on secret operations and the use of coercion - and eye-for-eye retribution - in fighting terrorism."

also from the NYTimes:

The first American military intelligence specialist to stand trial in connection with the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison pleaded guilty here on Saturday to abusing prisoners.

The Nuremburg Defense won't work this time. The perpetrators, at the lowest level, will be made to pay. No longer can they claim "My Commanding Officer made me do it." Everyone responsible, from the lowest enlisted person, to the next lowest enlisted person, will be tried, and convicted. This time they can't blame it on their bosses. Their steely eyed civilian bosses, who had lawyers write memos defining torture as "pain associated with organ failure." These civilian bosses, who, at the highest levels, "were repeatedly warned by subordinates in 2002 and 2003 that prisoners in military custody were being abused."

Indeed. Truth, justice, and the American way.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

New Rules

Bill Maher has some New Rules, and thus enters the No Bullshit Zone.

...New Rule: You can't run on a mistake. Franklin Roosevelt didn't run for re-election claiming Pearl Harbor was his finest hour. Abe Lincoln was a great president, but the high point of his second term wasn't theater security. 9/11 wasn't a triumph of the human spirit. It was a fuck-up by a guy on vacation.

Now, don't get me wrong, Mr. President. I'm not blaming you for 9/11. We have blue-ribbon commissions to do that. And I'm not saying there was anything improper about your immediate response to the attacks. Someone had to stay in that classroom and protect those kids from Chechen rebels.

But by the looks of your convention, you'd think that the worst thing that ever happened to us was the best thing that ever happened to you. You just can't keep celebrating the deadliest attack ever as if it's your personal rendezvous with greatness. You don't see old men who were shot down during World War II jumping out of a plane every year. I mean, other than your dad.

Again, don't get sucked in by the So-Called Liberal Media(SCLM) getting all verklempt about Kerry's Purple Heart was forged using Microsoft Word. Focus! Keep your eye on the ball. This administration is vulnerable on real issues.

Rent To Own

Daniel Gross, in Slate's Money Box column, here, thoroughly deconstructs the Bush "Ownership" mantra. Read to find out exactly how much the rebounding economy sucks.

Here are a few tidbits:

Total debt: $22.8 trillion (up from $18.1 trillion during Bush's tenure)

Federal debt: $4.15 trillion (up 22%)

Total household debt: $9.5 trillion (up 36%)

Mortgage debt outstanding: up 43%

Consumer credit: up 20%

State & local government debt: up 33%

Slacktivist also does a very complete takedown of the owe-nership idea. You'll wonder where the money went...


Let's get right to it. This blog is to help the undecided; friends who don't have the time, or inclination, to read as much as I do can hopefully find some new and helpful information here. Author William Rivers Pitt at deserves today's Cut To The Chase award. To paraphrase, forget the SwiftBoatLiars, forget the CBS TANG documents, focus on the forest, not the trees. Here's an excerpt:

Issues we are not hearing about because we have spent so much time talking about television advertisements:

  • Millions of jobs lost in the last four years;
  • Unbearably expensive health care;
  • A total loss of confidence within the international community in our moral leadership;
  • The underfunded farce that is the Department of Homeland Security;
  • The underfunded farce that is the No Child Left Behind bill;
  • The fact that military assault weapons will soon be making a perfectly legal return to a neighborhood near you;
  • The deeply illegal outing of a deep-cover CIA agent by Bush administration officials, who did it because they wanted to silence a critic;
  • The rape and torture of men, women and children in the Abu Ghraib prison, horrors that were sanctioned in writing by Bush's own lawyer and the Secretary of Defense;
  • The allegation by Senator Bob Graham of Florida that Bush torpedoed any aspect of the 9/11 investigation that came within spitting distance of his friends in the Saudi royal family;
  • The allegations by several generals that Bush's people started stripping necessary troops and resources from Afghanistan to bolster their ill-conceived charge into Iraq;
  • The myriad accusations by a dozen insiders that Bush and his people ignored the terror threat until the Towers fell, and then used the attacks to scare the American people into an unnecessary war in Iraq and a mammoth payday for their friends in the weapons and oil business;
  • The fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq;
  • The fact that no connections between Hussein, bin Laden and 9/11 have been established beyond the bloviating hyperbole of a few senior Bush officials who haven't yet gotten the memo;
  • Does anyone even remember Enron?

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of September 11th. We deserve better than this.

Yesterday, we ran a feature article that carried a photograph of every soldier who has died in Iraq. The article read, "The men and women whose faces fill the page below were not told this. They were, in fact, told the exact opposite. They raised their hands and took the oath, they donned their uniform and picked up their weapon, they boarded a plane and flew far from home, and they died. They were doing their duty, and they believed their President."

Look into the eyes of those 1,000 lost faces and tell me they don't deserve better than this stupid election and its stupid public debate.

Read the whole thing.