Thursday, November 30, 2006

We will, we will, rock you

Comment I imagine I overheard leaving tonight's concert:
"Dude! And then they broke into a really slammin' version of the ending of McCartney's 'My Love' like they were Guns 'n' Roses, only the singer was like freakin' Pavorotti! Man!"

Who might that be?

I knew it was going to be a good show. Pam & I were taken to a concert as a Christmas present by the virtual daughter Michaelle and her husband Randy, and the band is a fave of theirs.

We knew it would be a good show. We had heard a lot of the music before, and they sounded really great, creative, polished, but with a sense of humor, so we knew it would be a good show.

I even blogged about their wonderful Christmas album 2 years ago here.

We had no idea. I mean, we had no idea at all it would be the best show we had seen in a long time.

Presenting the Barenaked Ladies.

Look, every band and musician has their own Kool-Aid drinkers, the rabid devotees who jumped on the bandwagon early, likely for good reason: the music spoke to them.

For these guys, I have to confess I thought of them mostly as a novelty band, and certainly they have a wicked sense of humor which they're not afraid to display. But there's more, so much more to these guys than "One Week" and some of the other funny tunes. The word that keeps coming into my mind is "competence".

Pam suggested that that was 'damning with faint praise'. But it's really not. It means they are good at every aspect of what they do. These guys have listened to a lot of music, from '50s through now, and have remembered everything they ever heard. They write hard rocking pieces that might have been written by AC/DC, followed by power ballads that Journey would have written and recorded if they were, you know, actually good.

And the thing is, they do it without irony or ego, just with talent. There's no pompousness or posing, except in fun. Thus, they skewer many of the bands they quote, by doing similar music stylings, but in an earnest manner.

Here's more:

And I had no idea that Steve Page was the actual star of the band. With a voice that could stand up with Freddie Mercury's and soul skills reminiscent of Jackie Wilson, but packed into a body like Drew Carey's, he is pretty special.

Here's more Steve:

But in many years working in the music biz, I don't often say what I'm saying about this band. I've seen many, many acts live, as I've blogged about here before: Beatles, Hendrix, et al. And while I don't put these guys into those lofty categories, still, they are really one of the best bands I've heard in a long time.

As I was discussing with a friend the other night, it's like realizing that you are the last one to know about something.

I wish I'd gotten here earlier. But now, I'll make up for lost time.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What a drag it is, getting old

Conservatarians always babble on about the "Free Market" and how the market fixes everything. And with Milton Friedman's recent death, the discussion raised up a notch.

Well, kids, here's your Free Market at work:
The folks gathered in Apartment 219 never thought they'd be having this conversation. They worked hard for decades, paid their taxes, made modest retirement plans and were able to make the rent.

Until now.

"When the rent goes up 30%, it's a bit of a shock," says Phyllis Brown, a 90-year-old widow who has lived in No. 219 of the Golden Oaks Apartments in South Pasadena for a dozen years.

The problem is that Golden Oaks, the only South Pasadena apartment house exclusively for seniors, changed hands this summer. The new owner — who did not answer requests for an interview — decided to renovate and raise the rates, which sent panic through the halls of the Oaks. As Jeanne Higgins, 73, put it, who needs granite countertops, plasma TVs and other fancy-shmancy accouterments in their retirement years?

Yep. There's a micro-economy driven by supply and demand. Demand for senior housing is going up, and supply is shrinking.
A federal housing program for seniors used to create 25,000 units a year nationwide under President Carter, says Pynoos. Today, that number is down to about 5,000, and the national shortage of senior housing units is in the hundreds of thousands.

Yet still, they babble about the Free Market.

I mean, look how Microsoft has fixed the personal computer market by near total domination. Or how continued mergers in the music and energy market have resulted in more quality product and lower prices from both. Heck, remember the bang-up job Enron did managing energy trades? Here in CA we sure do.

And of course, government intervention is always bad, except when it isn't. So how does writing a new law saying that Paris Hilton will be exempted from a usurious Inheritance Tax isn't government interference. Of course, having a tax on money she did nothing to earn, yet which she will receive, is bad law, but an exemption law is a good law. Kids today.

Seniors on fixed incomes can't respond to market change driven by only profit. So what can they do?
"They double up, they live in garages, and there's a growing number of homeless seniors," says Marvin Schachter, a Pasadena resident and former member of the California Commission on Aging. "They sleep on the couches of friends' houses until they're kicked out or they sleep in the spare bedroom with a teenage niece who's living in a crowded, low-income rental."

Schachter, who also works with the Menorah Housing Foundation, offered an even more startling snapshot of the crisis. When Menorah opens a 100-unit building for seniors, he said, it typically gets 2,000 to 4,000 applications.


By the way, here is a nice graph showing some world opinion about "Free Markets":

The same old lines you heard the night before

I heard the laughable, lamentable, Dennis Miller on Fox News tonight, doing his faux-righteous "I used to be a liberal but then 9/11 changed everything" rant tonight.

Gawd, what sophomoric silly logic! He said (I'm paraphrasing):
"By the most logical metric, GWBush has been successful. There have been no terrorist attacks on the U.S. since 9/11".

Dennis, can I call you Dennis? Here's the thing. By your standard, exactly the opposite conclusion can be made. Follow me, it's pretty complicated:
In the history of the U.S., only one attack on U.S. soil has resulted in the deaths of 3000 Americans. That attack occurred during the Presidency of GWBush.

By your standard, GWBush has been a total failure.

Oh, and what about the PDB: "BinLaden determined to attack inside US"?

Dennis, I have some words of advice:
Go blow yourself.

Friday, November 24, 2006

And all you touch and all you see, Is all your life will ever be.

In the deadliest sectarian attack in Baghdad since the American-led invasion, explosions from five powerful car bombs and a mortar shell tore through crowded intersections and marketplaces in the teeming Shiite district of Sadr City on Thursday afternoon, killing at least 144 people and wounding 206, the police said.

Some have argued that the democratic changes we're seeing in the Middle East are destabilizing the region.

The attacks were the worst in an intensifying series of revenge killings in recent months, in a cycle that has increasingly paralyzed the political process and segregated the capital into Sunni and Shiite enclaves, and threatened to drag Iraq into an all-out civil war.

This argument rests on a false assumption, that the Middle East was stable to begin with.

The authorities seemed intent on avoiding a repeat of the violent fallout that followed the bombing of a major Shiite shrine in Samarra in late February. That attack set off the eruption of sectarian killings, which has gathered momentum during the year and has spun well beyond the control of Iraqi and American security forces.

The reality is that the stability we thought we saw in the Middle East was a mirage. For decades, millions of men and women in the region have been trapped in oppression and hopelessness. And these conditions left a generation disillusioned, and made this region a breeding ground for extremism.

“We blame the government for the attacks,” said Said Adel al-Nuri, a representative of the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, echoing the general sentiment of frustration and anger in the working-class district, which has more than two million people. “We have no trust in the government or in the Americans.

My country desires peace. Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror.

American and Sunni Arab officials have argued that a key to peace rests with the aggressive demobilization of the Shiite militias tied to the most powerful Shiite political parties. But Shiite leaders have insisted that the militias remain their final bulwark against the Sunni Arab-led insurgency. And Mr. Maliki, responding to his power base, has chosen a softer, negotiated approach to the militias, frustrating his American partners.

Our goal is to help you build a more tolerant and hopeful society that honors people of all faiths and promote the peace.

The actual combat photos come from a website that has pictures from soldiers. Not the sanitized press pics from the Green Zone, but pictures taken by actual soldiers in pretty horrific conditions.

They are pretty terrible. And they are reality. Reality is not some asshole Neo-Con talking about Democratizing Iraq, reality is people, nice American & Iraqi people, bodies torn apart, invaded, blood spilled, and hearts and minds, both figuratively and literally being strewn across the landscape.

Is it worth it? I don't think so. If you think it's worth it, go enlist and fight. Or shut up and sit down.

If you're brave enough, go to and check out what is really happening to live human beings in Iraq.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

For some Thanksgiving comedy/satire gold, here's Pres. Bartlet's smackdown of a Dr. Laura surrogate on The West Wing:

Say the word I'm thinking of

From the ever watchful Ezra Klein, we have this, in which Xoverboard nails what I have been trying to say for years:

Does that make me crazy

One of the nice things about working in the recording studio biz is that I get to meet musicians.

For me, the technical stuff I do, while wonderfully satisfying and creative, is still just to aid the music. It thrills me to build or repair a studio and its equipment, to then hear the music that's created within.

I've been lucky enough to work with some pretty big folks, most quite nice. And every once in a while I get to see and hear something that I just know is special.

One such project I worked on a few years back was the Andre 3000 side, The Love Below, of the last Outkast album. The first time any of us heard Hey Ya, we knew it was a special song, seriously. And as a side note, what a nice man Andre is, just a really sweet guy.

I got a call today from an engineer, to do some tech work for his boss, Brian Burton. Who is Brian Burton? His nom de music is Danger Mouse, and he's recently known for his album with Cee Lo, under the name Gnarls Barkley.

Like Andre's side of the Outkast album, Gnarls Barkley is truly impressive, as a modern take on old-school R'n'B, with some pretty serious beats and studio skills.

Here's Gnarls Barkley (Burton and Cee Lo) live, doing the wonderful "Crazy":

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Creatures shaped this planet's soil, now their reign has come to an end

Sometimes it just writes itself. The always thoughtful Rick at RightWingNuthouse:
America awoke the day after the election and realized that kicking the GOP out of power was only part of the problem. The other half of the electoral bargain – passing the baton to the Democrats – has so far, proven to be something of a disappointment.


Seeing as the Democrats have what those of us who work in Electronics call "potential". Potential energy is the kind stored in a battery but unused, or like water behind a closed faucet: you know it's there, but until it's connected to something, it exists strictly as potential.

In January the battery will be connected to the iPod; the faucet will be opened. And "current" will begin to flow. And like a tidal wave, all the former GOP Committee chairs will become Ranking Members. Except for James Inhofe (R-Global Warming is a Myth), who, if John Warner has his way, will swept away from his leadership position (yeah, I can't stop laughing either) on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Back to Rick. Unleashing the dreaded "I'm rubber, you're glue" defense, he goes on:
Rarely has a party come to power as the Democrats have with such a paucity of ideas on how to cure what ails us. You can hardly blame them. Their electoral strategy involved keeping their mouths shut while the Republicans self-destructed and events in Iraq played out to their advantage. Not a brilliant battle plan but it worked to perfection – with the help of Mark Foley and the media-savvy insurgents and terrorists who have made Baghdad and its environs a hell on earth.

Unfortunately, now that they are poised to run the legislative branch of government, the lack of specificity about what they intend to do about Iraq, about Iranian nukes, about a slowly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is coming back to haunt them. This has further soured the mood of our fellow citizens and we approach the holiday season with some trepidation and many questions unanswered.


So I guess since we don't support a new "Contract on America" and "Stay the Course", and because we can't set committee agenda until January, and we demand talks with North Korea and Iran, we Dems have no ideas.

Except this: Examine reality. Talk about what's really happening. Own up to it. Stop pretending that just another 6 months will fix everything.

If you keep doing the same thing, but continue to expect different results, how sane is that?

We'll end with this from Rick:
The obvious corollary to an American withdrawal is utter and complete chaos in Iraq with not only Shia slaughtering Sunni but also rival Shia militias – the Mahdi Army and Badr Brigades – slaughtering each other in a quest for power.

The obvious fact is that's what is already happening. The only difference is that if Americans leave, it will continue to happen, without any more Americans getting killed.

Sorry, folks, you can't un-wet this bed. It already smells.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun

I was going to do a bang-up piece last night, tearing apart this idiocy:
The only way to forestall these frightening developments is by the use of force. Not by invading Iran as we did Iraq, but by an air campaign against Tehran's nuclear facilities. We have considerable information about these facilities; by some estimates they comprise about 1,500 targets. If we hit a large fraction of them in a bombing campaign that might last from a few days to a couple of weeks, we would inflict severe damage. This would not end Iran's weapons program, but it would certainly delay it.

In which the writer evokes the usual conflated imagery:
After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917, a single member of Britain's Cabinet, Winston Churchill, appealed for robust military intervention to crush the new regime. His colleagues weighed the costs — the loss of soldiers, international derision, revenge by Lenin — and rejected the idea.

The costs were avoided, and instead the world was subjected to the greatest man-made calamities ever. Communism itself was to claim perhaps 100 million lives, and it also gave rise to fascism and Nazism, leading to World War II. Ahmadinejad wants to be the new Lenin. Force is the only thing that can stop him.

Of course, is compared to Lenin, because, you know, he can't be compared to Hitler because...

Never mind that the population of Russia at the time of the 1917 October Revolution was over 150 million, whereas the current population of Iran is about 68 million.

Oh and never mind what Seymour Hersh said in the New Yorker:
If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put “shorteners” on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way.


But that's not important right now. I was going to go back in history, find lots of quotes by hawks about how we should attack Iraq, and juxtapose them with current hackery demanding we attack Iran, like the tool quoted above.

I went to Andrew Sullivan, who Eric Alterman calls "Little Roy" Cohn, to see what his archives would reveal.

And was shocked, shocked!

He smacks down Hugh Hewitt, giving him a Faux Malkin Award:
Because of this supposed shared concern, Warren is ready to turn over the spiritual mantle to a man who represents the views of Satan at worst or progressive anti-God liberals at best in most of his public positions on the greatest moral tests of our time," - Kevin McCullough on, whose executive editor is Hugh Hewitt.

He speaks of tolerance and acceptance:
I'm just interested in being treated equally under the law, and letting others hate whomever they want to. And I'm interesting in holding leaders of churches to the same rules they apply to others. That's all. Have a great Thanksgiving.

He makes sense on Iraq:
It's hard to disagree with him. I'm afraid that the case for many more troops might have made sense two years ago, but makes much less sense today.

He makes sense on free markets and media responsibility and smacks down Rupert Murdoch:
With free markets comes great freedom but also some responsibility: to publish books worth publishing, to air TV shows actually worth airing, to care about content as well as ratings and sales. Those criteria are distinguishable from what the market will reward. That distinction has been lost in many places. It is not a criticism of the market; it is merely a reminder that markets also require integrity among those who work in them. That point deserves recovering.

Wow. Andy has had his face all over TeeVee lately, and it's a face I'm starting to grow fond of. He's still a conservative, and he still has never issued a personal mea culpa for the hateful attacks and hackery he spread in the run up to Iraq, but clearly he has grown.

Almost makes me fond of him.


Oh, and Joshua Muravchik, writer of the first story quoted above, American Enterprise Institute über wanker?


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ollie North: ...and people call me traitor to my face

Why won't these bastards die, or at least, just go away? (From Greg at Alternet)

The electoral wave that battered Republicans last week rolled well beyond Ohio and Arizona, traveling as far south as Nicaragua, where voters rejected intense U.S. pressure and elected Daniel Ortega president. This was Ortega's third attempt to regain the office since stepping down in 1990, after a decade in power as the head of the revolutionary Sandinista government. And even as George W. Bush was stumping for his candidates in the heartland, Oliver North was traveling down to Managua to urge Nicaraguans to vote for anyone but Ortega.

The ex-Marine colonel told Nicaraguans that they had "suffered enough from the influence of outsiders" -- a remark meant to criticize Hugo Chávez's support for Ortega but that some, considering North's role in running the covert operation that illegally funded the anti-Sandinista Contras in the 1980s, must have mistaken for a confession. In addition to North, Bush's Ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli, threatened that the United States could cut off aid, while congressional Republicans warned that they would pass legislation prohibiting Nicaraguans living in the United States from sending remittances home if Nicaraguans voted the wrong way.

Over the last couple of weeks, with polls predicting that an Ortega win seemed likely, conservative blogs, think tanks, and policy intellectuals whipped themselves up into a near-frenzy at the thought of a Sandinista comeback. The National Review breathlessly warned that a triumphant Ortega would bring the threat of nuclear or biological terrorism to "within walking distance of our undefended border." Over at the Washington Post, the American Enterprise Institute's Roger Noriega predicted that an Ortega victory would push Nicaragua "toward the abyss."

Yeah, that Ollie North:
North became famous due to his participation in the Iran-Contra Affair, in which he was the chief coordinator of the sale of weapons via intermediaries to Iran, with the profits being channeled to the Contras in Nicaragua. He was responsible for the establishment of a covert network used for the purposes of aiding the Contras.

According to the National Security Archive, in an August 23, 1986 email to John Poindexter, Oliver North described a meeting with a representative of Panamanian President Manuel Noriega: "You will recall that over the years Manuel Noriega in Panama and I have developed a fairly good relationship", North writes before explaining Noriega's proposal. If U.S. officials can "help clean up his image" and lift the ban on arms sales to the Panamanian Defense Force, Noriega will "'take care of' the Sandinista leadership for us." North tells Poindexter that Noriega can assist with sabotage against the Sandinistas, and suggests paying Noriega a million dollars – from "Project Democracy" funds raised from the sale of U.S. arms to Iran – for the Panamanian leader's help in destroying Nicaraguan economic installations (see [1]).

In November 1986, North was fired by President Reagan, and in July 1987 he was summoned to testify before televised hearings of a joint Congressional committee formed to investigate Iran-Contra. During the hearings, he admitted that he had lied to Congress, for which he was later charged among other things. He defended his actions by stating that he believed in the goal of aiding the Contras, whom he saw as freedom fighters, and said that he viewed the Iran-Contra scheme as a "neat idea" (see [2]).

He should be in a Federal Prison. Instead, he's acting as an ex-officio ambassador.

With the current administration, nothing defines success like failure.

Read this article for more horrors from this idiot:

Washington D.C., 26 February 2004 - Diaries, e-mail, and memos of Iran-contra figure Oliver North, posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive, directly contradict his criticisms yesterday of Sen. John Kerry's 1988 Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee report on the ways that covert support for the Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s undermined the U.S. war on drugs.

Mr. North claimed to talk show hosts Hannity & Colmes that the Kerry report was "wrong," that Sen. Kerry "makes this stuff up and then he can't justify it," and that "The fact is nobody in the government of the United States, going all the way back to the earliest days of this under Jimmy Carter, ever had anything to do with running drugs to support the Nicaraguan resistance. Nobody in the government of the United States. I will stand on that to my grave."

The Kerry subcommittee did not report that U.S. government officials ran drugs, but rather, that Mr. North, then on the National Security Council staff at the White House, and other senior officials created a privatized contra network that attracted drug traffickers looking for cover for their operations, then turned a blind eye to repeated reports of drug smuggling related to the contras, and actively worked with known drug smugglers such as Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to assist the contras. The report cited former Drug Enforcement Administration head John Lawn testifying that Mr. North himself had prematurely leaked a DEA undercover operation, jeopardizing agents' lives, for political advantage in an upcoming Congressional vote on aid to the contras (p.121).

Guitar, just like ringing a bell

For the average guitar player, awareness of the players who did studio work, you know, movie/TV scores and record dates, grew in the mid '70s. We wanted to know who played the Rockford Files theme, or the solo on the latest Steely Dan record.

FYI, the almost legendary cut "Peg" does indeed have 6 solos on the master 2" tape, played by various session players, as Becker & Fagen searched for exactly the right one. The last, by Jay Graydon, is the one that made the album. But I have heard all the others, as I set up the room at Capitol for Elliot Scheiner to mix the 5.1 version of "Aja" and "Gaucho".

Larry Carlton emerged as an early guitar hero in this context with his signature Gibson ES-335. Young, handsome, friendly and likable, and a wonderful player, he became an icon for many guitarists in the late '70s as the ideal fusing of pop, rock, and jazz ideas. And the growing awareness of the session world helped motivate many young players into learning music theory, rather than buying into the idea that "reading music would stifle them." Clearly, nothing stifled Larry's playing, except for an almost unimaginable tragedy he was able to overcome.

Here's Larry playing his signature riff to Steely Dan's "Josie" at the Clapton Crossroads Festival:

He's a loser, and he's not what he appears to be

Losing again, is GWBush:
The weekend after the statue of Saddam Hussein fell, Kenneth Adelman and a couple of other promoters of the Iraq war gathered at Vice President Cheney's residence to celebrate. The invasion had been the "cakewalk" Adelman predicted. Cheney and his guests raised their glasses, toasting President Bush and victory. "It was a euphoric moment," Adelman recalled.

Forty-three months later, the cakewalk looks more like a death march, and Adelman has broken with the Bush team. He had an angry falling-out with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this fall. He and Cheney are no longer on speaking terms. And he believes that "the president is ultimately responsible" for what Adelman now calls "the debacle that was Iraq."

Sadly, it doesn't make me happy to see him fail. Because his failure has meant the deaths of so many Americans, in a war of no real necessity.

(Hat tip Sailor for the title suggestion!)

when the only true messiah rescues us from ourselves it's easy to imagine

From Pam Spaulding over at Pandagon, we find this atrocity about the ever popular Rev. Wildmon's group:

How about a Volkswagen ad promoting the built-in safety features in one of its models? Passengers in a new Passat blurt out "Holy ..." after surviving a crash. Instead of hearing a profanity, viewers hear a voice-over saying "safe happens." VW's general manager for creative content tells USA Today that it was critical in the commercial that both the dialogue and scene be "extremely natural." He contends that "... anyone who's been in an accident, one of the first things you do is curse."

It is unlikely that Bill Johnson, president of the American Decency Association (ADA), would agree with these companies' rationale behind the commercials. Besides pushing the legal and ethical limits, Johnson believes the advertising approach is designed to desensitize the general population.

"This degradation, this desensitization leads to an accommodation and causes an erosion of our ability to recognize the difference between what is pleasing to God and what is not pleasing," says Johnson.

That is why, warns the ADA leader, it is important that Christians strengthen themselves daily through spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, and time with God. "Our nature is being changed and so, therefore, when we are exposed to innuendo and subtleties and deception and seduction, we want to have nothing to do with it," he explains.

So that's what's important to you right now, Mr. Christian? "Bleeps" on TV?

How about:

The numbers are staggering. Today 37 million Americans live in a state of poverty, hunger and hardship. That's more than last year.

Oh wait, it's from Catholics. Never mind.

Health care?
Americans pay more when they get sick than people in other Western nations and get more confused, error-prone treatment, according to the largest survey to compare U.S. health care with other nations.

Oh wait, that's from the WaPo. They're communists. Or something.

  • In 2005, 37 million people (12.6%) were in poverty.
  • In 2005, 7.7 million families were in poverty.
  • In 2005, 20.5 million (11.3%) of people aged 18-64 were in poverty.
  • In 2005, 12.9 million (17.8%) children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
  • In 2005, 3.6 million (10.1%) seniors 65 and older were in poverty, an increase from 3.5 million in 2004. 1
  • In 2004, 3.9 million children lived in low-income households where neither parent worked. 2
Oh wait, that's from Second Harvest. They can't be real Christians.

American soldiers dying in Iraq?
Veterans Against Iraq War is a coalition of American veterans who support our troops but oppose war with Iraq or any other nation that does not pose a clear and present danger to our people and nation.

Until and unless the current U.S. Administration provides evidence which clearly demonstrates that Iraq or any other nation poses a clear, direct and immediate danger to our country, we oppose all of this Administration's pre-emptive and unilateral military activities in Iraq. Furthermore, we cannot support any war that is initiated without a formal Declaration of War by Congress, as our Constitution requires.

Well, they say they're a veterans group, but they sound like traitors.

I guess that about covers it. There are no more pressing issues than whether or not TV commercials bleep out swear words that aren't really there.

Priorities, folk. Gots to have them priorities.

Here's what some real Christians say about the Iraq war, by the way:
Charles Stanley, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, whose weekly sermons are seen by millions of television viewers, led the charge with particular fervor. "We should offer to serve the war effort in any way possible," said Mr. Stanley, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. "God battles with people who oppose him, who fight against him and his followers." In an article carried by the convention's Baptist Press news service, a missionary wrote that "American foreign policy and military might have opened an opportunity for the Gospel in the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

As if working from a slate of evangelical talking points, both Franklin Graham, the evangelist and son of Billy Graham, and Marvin Olasky, the editor of the conservative World magazine and a former advisor to President Bush on faith-based policy, echoed these sentiments, claiming that the American invasion of Iraq would create exciting new prospects for proselytizing Muslims. Tim LaHaye, the co-author of the hugely popular "Left Behind" series, spoke of Iraq as "a focal point of end-time events," whose special role in the earth's final days will become clear after invasion, conquest and reconstruction. For his part, Jerry Falwell boasted that "God is pro-war" in the title of an essay he wrote in 2004.

The war sermons rallied the evangelical congregations behind the invasion of Iraq. An astonishing 87 percent of all white evangelical Christians in the United States supported the president's decision in April 2003. Recent polls indicate that 68 percent of white evangelicals continue to support the war. But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine. Some tried to square the American invasion with Christian "just war" theory, but such efforts could never quite reckon with the criterion that force must only be used as a last resort. As a result, many ministers dismissed the theory as no longer relevant.

Surprised? Not me.

In a handbasket?


Pointed toward Hell?


Thanks, folks. I'm looking forward to your explanation at the Pearly Gates:

"Well, St. Peter, can I call you Peter? No, OK. Well, they were infidels, so we..."

"Yeah, I know what the Commandments said, about thy neighbor, but, I mean, they lived so far away, and..."

"Wait, I mean, it was to spread Democra..."

"I know he, oops, I mean He, sorry, said 'Blessed are the peacemakers', but, I mean, isn't that out of date?"

"No, well, uh, we were spreading the Good News..."

"Um, er, I forgot about that part, about praying in private, and not making a big show about..."

"Oh, yeah, I forgot about the Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword thing. So, we were supposed to take that as, you know, Gospel?"

"What? Did you say 'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.'? Holy crap! No! I mean, sorry. I mean, man..."

"Go sit over here? Um, Ok, but...sorry, yes, Sir, I'll shut up."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose

Meme of the day: Bush as Loser.

Here are the issues on which he has lost:

Loser on Congress:
Nancy Pelosi is about to speak. She will be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, two seats away from the Presidency. How great to not only have a Democrat Speaker of the House and a female Speaker of the House, the first ever, but a true progressive and non-centrist Speaker of the House.

Loser on the Senate:
One week after historic elections that made Democrats the majority in Congress, Nevada Senator Harry Reid was elected as the Majority Leader of the United States Senate.

Loser on Iraq:
Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who was elected Senate majority leader yesterday, said last night that President Bush still has not grasped the urgent need to change course in Iraq.

Loser on the American people:
Bush's own job approval ratings have hit a new low in the aftermath of the elections. Just 32% of Americans approve of Bush's job performance compared with 58% who disapprove.

Loser on Morals:
After years of denials, the CIA has formally acknowledged the existence of two classified documents governing aggressive interrogation and detention policies for terrorism suspects, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

But CIA lawyers say the documents -- memos from President Bush and the Justice Department -- are still so sensitive that no portion can be released to the public.

Loser on judgeships:
The Bush administration, trying to push through judicial nominations before Republicans lose control of the Senate, resubmitted six nominees deemed by Democrats too conservative for the federal bench.

Loser in the Republican Party:
But Tuesday night’s election results may give us a new L-word for the president, one that both camps can agree on: Loser.

Loser as a grownup:
Father's Team
Gates has remained close to former President George H.W. Bush, and is president of Texas A&M University, which hosts the Bush presidential library. In addition to Gates, the current President Bush is turning to another of his father's elder statesmen for help on Iraq: James Baker.
Loser on the entire world:
A sampling of press from around the world should show Americans that their president's foreign policy is a dismal failure. Whether you define the country of origin an "ally" or "foe," the message is the same: President Bush is a complete disaster and his party should be voted out. You'd be hard pressed to find any major media outlet anywhere in the world that has anything positive to say about the Bush administration.

Loser on Rush Limbaugh & Hugh Hewitt
“The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I’m going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don’t think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, ‘Well, why have you been doing it?’ Because the stakes are high! Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country’s than the Democrat Party does and liberalism.”

The good news for Dems is that after January, we have 2 years for him so show what a petulant, pathetic fool he really is. And he will show it, mark my words.

Well, after all that, he still has Barney & Laura. Wait, where are you going?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And I need to wake up now

We went to a special screening of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth last night, sponsored by The Recording Academy (of which I am a member) and the Society of Composers and Lyricists. I realize the entire progressive bloggersphere has already seen it, and we are so dreadfully late to the party, so it comes as no surprise to anyone that the film sits you down, stands you up, slaps you around, and says "Pay attention, dammit!"

Here's another clip:

The film completely disposes of the myths and disinformation being spread by the pro-big business right wingers. Some science can be found here.

Since this was a special screening, there were special guests. A panel discussion and Q&A after was moderated by Grammy Governor Jonathan McHugh, and included film's director Davis Guggenheim, Producer Laurie David, composer Michael Brook, and artist Melissa Etheridge, who wrote the end credit song.

And here's Melissa's video for the song "I Need To Wake Up":

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why do we never get an answer, when we're knocking at the door?

The way this administration has marketed, packaged, sanitized, and tarted up everything they do, but especially the war in Iraq, really, finally, pisses me off.

Here's a reality based lexicon to chew on:

Instead of :
  • IED
  • God Damned bomb
Instead of :
  • Stop-Loss
  • forced conscription
Instead of :
  • Social Security Reform
  • Wealth to Wall St., seniors are screwed
Instead of :
  • Support the troops
Instead of :
  • 11/7 Election was win for centrist Democrats
  • 11/7 Election was smackdown for conservatives
Instead of :
  • McCain says: "We’re either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months."
  • McCain says: anything his handlers tell him to say to appeal to the right-wing base
Instead of :
  • Stay the course
  • Clap harder, Tinkerbell
Instead of :
  • Patriot Act
  • Spy on Americans Act
Instead of :
  • Activist Judge
  • Judge who believes in the Constitution

There's more, much more, but that's it for now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

If you ever change your mind

So Daniel Ortega is President of Nicaragua again. And I guess all that Iran/Contra stuff is just water under the bridge:
The United States and his rivals worry the Sandinista revolutionary in him will resurface, as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro welcome him into a club of leftist leaders fighting American dominance in the region.

But Ortega, who was president in 1985-90, the height of the Contra insurgency, says he has traded war for peace, love and consensus.

His victory speech late Wednesday was tinged with some of his old fire. Raising his arms in victory, he led thousands in a rendition of an old revolutionary song: "The people united will never be divided."

He promoted socialist ideals such as free education and medical care, lambasted U.S. Republicans for the war in Iraq and thanked other leftist Latin American leaders for their support. But most of his speech was dedicated to praising democracy and reaching out to opponents.

"Don't let one criticism slip from your lips against those who didn't vote for us," he warned his supporters. "We have to be humble."

And of course, free education and medical care are socialist ideas, which could never be adopted, or even become popular in the US of A. And he criticised the Iraq invasion, which makes him seriously unhinged.

Who writes this crap?

And remember this part about Iran Contra:

The plan went ahead, and proceeds from the arms sales went to the Contras, a group engaged in an insurgency against the democratically elected leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. The diversion was coordinated by Oliver North of the National Security Council. Supporting the Contras financially was an effort to assist them in their fight against the Nicaraguan government.

Both the sale of weapons to Iran and the funding of the Contras attempted to circumvent stated Administration policy and legislation passed by Congress, known as the "Boland Amendment," enacted over concerns of widespread human rights abuses by the Contras.[15] Administration officials argued that regardless of the Congress restricting the funds for the Contras, or any affair, the President (the administration) could carry on by seeking alternative means of funding such as private entities and foreign governments.[16]

Yep, that Ollie North, who should be languishing in prison rather than on Right-Wing talk radio.


Yours is no disgrace

I swam in the fevered swamps of the Winger blogosphere tonight, and even left a nice comment for (as TBogg calls him) Special Ed, for his fairly balanced response to the Al-Qaeda taunting after Tuesday's election results. You know, taunts like "We applaud the Democrat victory because it means more dead Americans and long live the Caliphate!" And I tried, really tried, to be polite and non-confrontational:

As a deeply committed Democrat who loves his country, wants us to win the war on terrorism, and grieves for every America life lost in Iraq, I thank you for your honesty.

We are not the enemy, contrary to what some on your side of the aisle say. We are not defeatocrats, we are not cut-and-runners. Instead we question the wisdom of leaders that get us into situations that we don't seem to need to be in.

Whether it's Johnson in re: Gulf of Tonkin, or GWBush in re: Iraq, we want the best for our country, and especially for our brave and patriotic service people in harms way.

Thanks for not getting too worked up at the political ravings of Al-Qaeda idiots, who will say and do anything to piss us off and divide us.

You and I may agree or disagree about much, but I think we are both loyal Americans.

And then I found this in the upstream comments to the same post:

the dems are controlled by the left.

the left will do to the iraqis what they did to the south vietnamese and the contras: abandon them to tyrannical totalistarians.

they will attempt to expand the government and rwise taxes and socialize industries - like healthcare.

they must be fought, not accommodated.

conservatives need to get the gop to stop being a wimpy half-assed version of reaganism and re-embrace the REALL THING.

this starts with electing leaderrshiop which is more like newt than robert michel - which is what you seem to be advocating.


if it wasn't for hastert's and frist's poor handling of jefferson and foley and immigration and judicial nominations WE'D HAVE WON.

we'd have held more house seats and not lost montana or missouri.

it all started to unravel after the leftist succeeded in getting rid of TOM DELAY.

they knew this would happen.

he was the last true believer ionb the CVongressional leadership and had been holding the GOP in the Congress together and he was the reason bush has such a GREAT legislative record the first five years.

we need a man like him or newt and reagan.

not accommodaters.

bush needs to take the congress on - HEAD-ON - and not weasel aropund with them.

if he sucks up to them the GOP will lose.

bush sr LOST reelection.
and cinton and tester and mcgaskill prove that the dems only win when there're THREE candidates on the ballot - and when two SPLIT the right.

we need to UNITE THE RIGHT, not make the right more centrist or more like the left.

all the best!

Dude! First, Spell check is your friend. If you're not literate, don't blog.

Second, . . .

Never mind, you wouldn't understand.

But then, a little further down, we find...sanity:

Terrorism is here to stay, one way or another. How are you ever going to prove convincingly that a certain course of action was right or wrong?

Let's call the two approaches, in so far as they differ, the "military" and the "diplomatic" approach. Each has merits, each has situations to which they are ideally suited, each has weaknesses. And, to knee-jerk critics, they each have automatic arguments against them.

When the Military option is preponderant, every act of terrorism will be decried as the result of radicalizing otherwise neutral individuals. When the Diplomatic option is the normal course of action, every act of terrorism will be decried as the result of appeasing otherwise timid individuals. The question is simply not susceptible to proof either way, so the Cap'n will have plenty of opportunity to assert his faith.

I'm surprised that one thing has not been mentioned: the parallel between Abu Hamza's remarks and the freeing of the Iranian hostages as soon as Carter had left office. Of course the other side is going to take every twist and turn of domestic politics and claim it as a victory. You don't need to be a particularly incisive political analyst to know that. I'll applaud the Cap'n, at the very least, for not rising to that bait.

Now that's someone I could sit down and talk to...well, maybe.

I'm a loser, and I'm not what I appear to be

Over at PowerTools they have 2 polls up, displaying their usual keen wit and sharp insight:

Here's my polls:

Who will emerge as winners?
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Rahm Emmanuel
  • Howard Dean
  • Nancy Pelosi
  • Henry Waxman
  • John Murtha
  • Markos Moulitsas
  • James Webb
  • Jon Tester

Who will emerge as losers?
  • George Allen
  • Rick Santorum
  • Elizabeth Dole
  • Ken Mehlman
  • Michael Steele
  • Donald Rumsfeld
  • Karl Rove
  • GWBush
But hey, I could be wrong.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

His orders come from far away no more

Many fine lefty bloggers have written heartfelt tributes to Veteran's Day, and the people we honor on this day:



Steve Gilliard at FireDogLake .

But something skippy said really stood out to me:
we have often maintained that the military is not the problem; it's the politicians who make the wars. the military are the ones that clean up the mess the politicians make.

please take a moment to think of those who had died fighting for this country. take a moment to think of those who, unless a miracle of miracle happens, will die on the sands of iraq at politician's behest.

I wrote an impassioned Speech Final back in college in '69, at dark point in the Viet Nam War. It was a stark and bloody anti-war statement. I still have the speech somewhere in a box. The teacher, a wonderful lefty queen, marked it "A: nearly completely perfect." In those days pre-internet, when we had to do research the old-fashioned way using the Dewey Decimal System, finding anti-war poems to use was tough.

I had discovered Stephen Crane in High School: "The Red Badge of Courage," and considered him to be an early American pacifist. I used some of Crane's poetry in my speech:

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.

Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky

And the affrighted steed ran on alone,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,

Little souls who thirst for fight,

These men were born to drill and die.

The unexplained glory flies above them,

Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom --

A field where a thousand corpses lie.

Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.

Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,

Raged at his breast, gulped and died,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

Swift blazing flag of the regiment,

Eagle with crest of red and gold,

These men were born to drill and die.

Point for them the virtue of slaughter,

Make plain to them the excellence of killing

And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

Mother whose heart hung humble as a button

On the bright splendid shroud of your son,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

I also used this piece from Sir Herbert Read titled "Bombing Casualties in Spain":
Dolls' faces are rosier but these were children
their eyes not glass but gleaming gristle
dark lenses in whose quicksilvery glances
the sunlight quivered. These blenched lips
were warm once and bright with blood
but blood
held in a moist bleb of flesh
not spilt and spatter'd in touseled hair.

In these shadowy tresses
red petals did not always
thus clot and blacken to a scar.

These are dead faces:
wasps' nests are not more wanly waxen
wood embers not so grely ashen.

They are laid out in ranks
like paper lanterns that have fallen
after a night of riot
extinct in the dry morning air.

Soldiers, civilians, matters little, because after war so many are dead. But the distinction is that the soldiers volunteered, and then were either nobly deployed, or not.

Which is it this time? Not noble at all. Sad, so sad.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Things that are waiting to mess my mind, will just have to wait 'til tomorrow

The Right Wing bloggerworld is in full spin mode. Witness Dean Barnett at Hugh Hewitt's place:

THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE past six years has been the White House’s ongoing inability to express the rationale for the so-called war on terror. For most of you reading this site, the rationale is obvious and well known: There exists an enormous segment of the Muslim world that seeks our destruction. Either we transform our malefactors, or the world’s fate will be unimaginably horrific.

This is a long war, and yet leading Republicans including the one in the White House have yet to articulate why it’s necessary. On the campaign trail, only Rick Santorum embraced the challenges that our country faces. Our other candidates and especially the Liddy Dole-led RSCC weren’t worthy of the era.

In the war of ideas, the White House has also been a disappointment. The president has never clearly acknowledged the stakes or even who our enemy is. At no point has President Bush called for sacrifice, or even encouraged more young people to join the military.

Jeebus. I know life in a bubble can be isolated, even constrained, but where has Dean been the last 4 years?

Bush said if U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq, insurgents would "use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against nonradical Muslim governments."

Bush: Our agenda, in contrast, is freedom and independence, security and prosperity for the Iraqi people. And by removing a source of terrorist violence and instability in the Middle East, we also make our own country more secure.

Invoking the spirit of Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Bush on Tuesday cast the war in Iraq as the modern-day moral equivalent of the struggle against Nazi fascism and Japanese imperialism in World War II, arguing that the United States cannot retreat without disastrous consequences.

President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.

I guess Dean must have been absent those days, as well as the 1400 or so other days that we've been in Iraq.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

How does it feel to be on your own, with no direction home

Gawd, it just writes itself. RightWingNuthouse Rick Moran takes GWBushCo to task:
Was it out and out hubris that kept the President from firing Rumsfeld before the election? Wouldn’t firing him have signaled a “change in course” and knocked the chocks from underneath the Democratic critique of “stay the course?” Did the President’s stubbornness and overweening pride prevent him from appearing to give in to his political opponents before an election?

I may be very tired and not reading this correctly but what this says to me is that Bush cared more about his personal standing than he did the party. The fact that he said a week ago that Rumsfeld would be his Secretary of Defense till the end of his term probably played a role in waiting until after the election. But firing Rumsfeld now rather than last week (or last month for that matter) just doesn’t make any sense to me.

No, of course it wouldn't. Because it would be totally impossible for Bush to care about THE FREAKIN' COUNTRY instead of either the Party or his standing.

And yet, somehow, Rick seems to be based, at least this time, in reality:

One could go on and on asking questions about the disastrous decisions Rumsfeld has made in the three plus years of this war. But it was his relentless, upbeat, assessments of “progress” in Iraq that called into question the man’s ultimate fitness for the office. Admitting no mistakes. Allowing for no bad news. The constant “glass is half full” press briefings got so wearing that I simply stopped watching and listening when he came on.

I am not calling into question his integrity. I am criticizing his competence. And given the situation in Iraq and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, his failures are there for the whole world to see.

Gates, a CIA vet and card carrying member of the military industrial complex (a joke my friends. He’s a Washington defense/foreign policy insider) is a fair choice but I would have preferred a Sam Nunn or some other old, wise man who could have ridden herd on both the Generals and the bureaucracy by virtue of their reputation. And naming a Democrat would not have been a bad move by the President following the election results yesterday.

We’ll see. In the meantime, Iraq continues to bleed. Our soldiers continue to die. And whatever would constitute a “victory” in Iraq seems to be slipping away.

Thing is, dude, this is again, full strength, your war. The one you wanted, prayed for, burned incense and waved a dead chicken for:

You said you'd never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And ask him do you want to make a deal?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Beyond the sea

Little known fact: Bobby Darin's two best known songs were foreign hits first. "Mack The Knife" is from Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weill's Three Penny Opera.

And his most popular (arguably) hit "Beyond The Sea", is an English lyric by Jack Lawrence (wikipedia entry) of a song originally written by French singer/songwriter Charles Trenet, in the '40s.

Recorded over 400 times, Darin's is the most popular. But in an effort to find obscure music and promote it, here's English pop legend Cliff Richard singing "La Mer":

Here's Darin singing "Beyond The Sea" Live, toward the end of his short career. Don't be a snob, there's nothing uncool about this. This song swings, dammit!

Here's a version much closer to the original "Mackie Messer" by Italian singer Mina, from '74:

And for those who made it this far, the real treat: German band SLUT doing their version. (They have recorded 5 songs from the Three Penny Opera)

Let it be said, I got your freakin' obscure YouTube right here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel

Wading through the muck that is the Right Wing blogtopia (y!sctp!), I was struck by the usual spin. You know, "The Dems didn't win the entire House, so it's really a loss for them."

But at Hugh Hewitt's place (no link, I'm protecting you from his wankery), we see the most frightening prediction of all:
. . .Senator Santorum is now available for a seat on the SCOTUS should one become available.

Ewww. That's this Sen. Santorum:

Oh. My. Gawd. Can you imagine Little Ricky on the Supreme Court?

Note: Poster clearly borrowed from All Hat No Cattle.

You'll see perpetual change

Election Day reminder: our friend Brad Friedman from BradBlog and Velvet Revolution will be broadcasting and live streaming tomorrow, Tuesday, 11/7, from 3:00 PST.

Brad's the smartest guy in the room regarding e-voting, Diebold, and Republican voter suppression. Give him a listen.

Spread the news and help the world go 'round

From Drinking Liberally, L.A. Chapter:

Keep It Simple Smart Voter Democracy

1) Vote on Tuesday, November 7th. Find your polling place at
2) Get your friends and family to vote.
3) Celebrate at the Biltmore in Downtown LA, or other place of your choosing.
4) COME TO Drinking Liberally the next day.

Wednesday, November 8th
7pm to 10pm

Molly Malone's Irish Pub
575 South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles 90036
near corner of 6th avenue

Monday, November 06, 2006

What in the world's come over you

Conventional wisdom says that Schwartzenegger has rehabilitated himself, that he's really a social moderate and not a hard-ass Republican.

Well, rubes, you been had. He's nothing more or less than a he-man has-been.

We've got it all from him:

Contributions and Cronyism:
In the last two days of reported contributions, we find several of the usual suspects, belatedly giving the maximum of $22,300 to Arnold's campaign. It's in their corporate interest to go with the winner. But who's this humble self-described housewife, Paulette Delgado, also forking over $22,300?

It takes a little digging, but a cross-check of addresses indicates she's Paulette Delgado Matich, wife of Stephen Matich, president of the family-owned Matich construction and development corporation. It's one of the companies that stands to profit handsomely from the governor's multi-billion-dollar package of transportation, water and housing bonds on Tuesday's ballot. Arnold also named Mr. Matich this year to the state Contractor's License Board.
Big Contributions Hypocrisy:
The special interest cash keeps rolling in to Arnold's campaign committees... He has now taken $103,994,221, which is part of the reason more than half of Californians believe, according to Wednesday's Field Poll, that the Gov has not reduced special interest influence in the Capitol. Remember this Arnold quote from his Recall campaign?

"Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something."

Millions of entertainment industry dollars are flowing in from Hollywood ($6 million total and over $150K in the last two weeks), and the financial industry ($12.5 million), and the construction, real estate & development industries (over $16 million combined) continue to lavish Arnold with cash. No doubt they all want the Gov to lavish them with fat infrastructure bond contracts in return for their political investment.

And, as if the almost $104 million in special interest money that Arnold has acknowledged accepting wasn't enough, the LA Times and Sacramento Bee report that there is still more corporate cash coming in under the radar through the Gov's affiliated nonprofit groups.

Health Care Hackery:
(State Senator Sheila Kuehl:) The reasoning behind the Governor’s opposition to universal health care is truly innacurate, which is no surprise considering he has refused to meet to discuss the issue. If the Governor took a thoughtful look at SB 840 he would see that delivery of health care would remain exactly as it now is, public or private. The main difference is that under SB 840 every Californian would have been able to choose their own doctors and hospitals and there would have been no unreimbursed care.

Anti-Gay Rights:
Today, the National Stonewall Democrats (NSD) condemned Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his decision to veto California Assembly Bill 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

The Office of the Governor issued a statement detailing the Governor’s planned veto. Schwarzenegger becomes the first Governor in American history to veto equal rights legislation that would have granted marriage equality to same-sex couples.

. . .

In March of 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger promised Californians that he would enact legislation granting marriage equality to same-sex couples if it was passed by the California legislature.

One of these contributors, according to an investigation conducted by the FTCR is Roland Arnall, co-chair of the board at Ameriquest Capital Corporation, a company that is being investigated for a range of corporate crimes from fraud to bait-and-switch sales tactics in 25 states. Arnall and his company, says FTCR, have alone given over $1.2 million.

For now, California law enforcement officials are still deciding whether or not to investigate Arnall and Ameriquest "for predatory lending practices." Ameriquest also donated $250,000 to President Bush's inaugural celebrations fund.

Another major individual contributor to Arnold's campaign is real estate and development mogul, David Murdock, who is owner of Castle & Cook and CEO of Dole Foods. Together, Murdock and his companies have handed over $352,000 to the governor hoping to get him to block changes to state property tax rules that would require corporate landowners to pay their fair share of property taxes.

Consumer advocates estimate that closing such corporate property tax loopholes could add an estimated $5 billion to a state treasury overburdened by deficits.

More Broken Campaign Promises:
Meanwhile, supporters of Proposition 89, the campaign-finance initiative on the November ballot, attempted to capitalize on the situation by purchasing advertising time during the show. They have produced a 30-second ad that suggests that Schwarzenegger broke his promise to clean out special interests from Sacramento, and scheduled it to run in Monterey, Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara during the show.

Schwarzenegger is setting two dangerous precedents for education in California. He struck a deal with the California Teacher's Association (CTA) to suspend constitutionally guaranteed K--12 school funding. And he proposed suspending the promise, for the first time in forty years, that every eligible California high school graduate would have a place at the University of California or a California State University. This from the governor who pledged to "work to expand the dream of college."
And here's a Slate article from '05:
But with his defiantly immoderate State of the State speech in early January, when he proposed to drastically cut back education and social services in lieu of taxing the rich, Schwarzenegger blindsided liberal Californians with his nakedly Republican agenda.

'Nuff said. He's a world class ego parading in a steroid ravaged body, posing as a moderate Republican politician, who wants to become President.

Not in this lifetime, buddy.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death: You're the devil in disguise

So says the NYTimes, and all cable news just minutes ago:
Saddam Hussein and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim were sentenced Sunday to death by hanging for war crimes in the 1982 killings of 148 people in the town of Dujail.
So this is the culmination of the Iraq War: death to the dreaded Saddam.

Many will find this just, and while I firmly oppose the death penalty, for Saddam or anyone else, it's hard not to feel some justification for this verdict.

Except for this: ever heard of Dujail? It's not near the gassed Kurdish town of Halabjah, or any major city in Iraq. It's not in Kuwait, where Saddam invaded August 2nd, 1992.

So what's the outrage about Dujail? Here's what the deal is:

Dujail was the site of an unsuccessful assassination attempt against then Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, on July 8, 1982. The town was a stronghold of the Shiite Daawa party, a group strongly opposed to Saddam Hussein and his war with Iran. Saddam Hussein was visiting the town to make a speech praising those who had served Iraq in the fight against Iran. While driving through the village centre, his motorcade was attacked by one or more members of the Daawa party. The president was unharmed in the three hour firefight which ensued.

Saddam Hussein allegedly ordered his special security and military forces to carry out a reprisal attack against the town. His orders were obeyed. A total 150 of the town's men were killed in the attack or executed later, a number of which were boys 13 years of age. 1,500 people were also incarcerated and tortured, while other residents, many of them women and children, were sent to desert camps. Saddam's regime destroyed the town and then rebuilt it shortly after. In addition to these punishments, 1,000 square kilometres (250,000 acres) of farmland was destroyed; replanting was only permitted 10 years later.

A resident of Dujail recalled the incident at Hussein's trial in December 2005, stating that he had witnessed Baathist torture and murder in the government reprisal, including the murders of 7 of his 10 brothers.

Sounds pretty bad, right? Surely there was international outrage about this incident:

The U.S. and its allies preferred to turn a blind eye and use Saddam's "services" against Iran, which became a bitter rival in 1979, under Khomeini's regime. The Americans even claimed that the Shiite Daawa people were agents of the Iranian intelligence, and accused them of bombing the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait a year after the Dujail massacre.

Right. And consider this history:

In 1976, Saddam rose to the position of general in the Iraqi armed forces. He rapidly became the strongman of the government. At the time Saddam was considered an enemy of communism and radical Islamism. Saddam was integral to U.S. policy in the region, a policy which sought to weaken the influence of Iran and the Soviet Union. As Iraq's weak and elderly President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became increasingly unable to execute his duties, Saddam took on an increasingly prominent role as the face of the government both internally and externally. He soon became the architect of Iraq's foreign policy and represented the nation in all diplomatic situations. He was the de facto ruler of Iraq some years before he formally came to power in 1979. He slowly began to consolidate his power over Iraq's government and the Ba'ath party. Relationships with fellow party members were carefully cultivated, and Saddam soon gained a powerful circle of support within the party.

And this bit of history:

Iraq invaded Iran by attacking Mehrabad Airport of Tehran and entering the oil-rich Iranian land of Khuzestan, which also has a sizeable Arab minority, on September 22, 1980 and declared it a new province of Iraq. The United Nations and the United States supported him with artillery and medical supplies during this time due to the enmity and distrust caused by the Iran hostage crisis.

Don't get me wrong, the Dujail massacre was horrible thing. But is this the event which led to this rhetoric:

In the past few years, I have written often about whether the figure of Saddam Hussein is—or was—a model taken from Hitler, from Stalin, or from some combination of the two. It has occurred to me recently that it can all be put more simply. He is—or was—a reincarnation of Jeffrey Dahmer. Look in his kitchen drawer, and you will find instruments of torture. Look in his bathroom cabinet, and you will find poisons. Look under his floorboards, and you will find bones and skulls. Look in his flowerbed, and you will stumble over body parts. Look in the rest of the garden, and you will find a substantial piece of a nuclear centrifuge, employed to make weapons of mass destruction.

Or this:

Former CIA Director James Woolsey warns that Saddam Hussein "poses the same kind of threat to the United States that Hitler posed in Germany in the mid 1930s when the British and the French kept postponing dealing with him in the way that some people are advocating dealing with Saddam how."

Interviewed on the CBS News Early Show, Woolsey added that Saddam is "working hard" to obtain nuclear weapons to go along with Iraq's chemical stockpiles.

Wow. Such evil. And yet the best we can come up with to charge him (let's face it, the trial was a wholly owned subsidiary of the U.S. puppet Iraqi government) is killing 150 people back in 1982.

For this crime, we sent the country into chaos, civil war, and caused the deaths of 3000+ American soldiers? I want a refund.