Watergate Counsel Sam Dash Has Died

Anyone who remembers Watergate remembers the name. He was senior counsel for the Watergate Committee investigating the mess that ultimately led to Richard Nixon's resignation. Dash always struck me as an interesting man.

[Ed: Update: The New York Times is reporting this morning that Archibald Cox, also of Watergate fame, has died as well.]

His death reminds me of something I've been thinking a lot about lately. It's twistedly funny, too. After the past few years of Bush and Company, Watergate is seeming like less of a big deal.

Oh no, don't get me wrong. I don't subscribe to the theory that the worst sin Nixon committed was in getting caught.

But Nixon principally screwed us over, while the current administration is wreaking havoc throughout the world and is placing the entire globe on a course from which I don't think we can easily recover in our lifetime. As much as his taking control of the White House concerned me in late 2000, I would not have believed how much damage could be done in such a relatively short period of time.

The "Fun" Never Stops

Israel has killed yet another Hamas leader this weekend.

It's got to be murder (ah-hem) trying to get life insurance when you place "Hamas leader" under occupation on the application. What's this one anyway...#4 in the past few months?

Can Rumsfeld Even Say "Moral Clarity" Without Giggling?

From Oliver Willis:

Today: Rumsfeld tells grads to rely on 'moral clarity'

Previously: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

GOP Reality TV Concepts

It's time for some fresh ideas for reality television and who better to get on board for great programming than with Mr. Bush's GOP. Take a look at some of these innovative program concepts:

1. Bush's Bee - Each week, the president will vie for the chance to attack another country after successfully spelling and pronouncing 10 tough words correctly. Challenging words might include Condoleeza, Uzbekistan, peace, Geneva conventions,non-proliferation and his own name. This might be the only way possible to keep him from turning the entire world into one big pothole of a Walmart parking lot.

2. Survivor - Put decent hardworking people without a corporate agenda on the staff of the White House and see how long they last.

3. Who Wants to Marry a Bitchy National Security Director? This one's self-explanatory, but contestants will need to sign a release absolving Ms. Rice of legal risk when she bites their balls off when any of them try to come between her and her president.

4. Karl Rove's Apprentice God, that's scary just writing about. Can anyone be that mean-spirited, foul-mouthed, and evil doing? Candidates actually win by being fired, lose by being "hired", thus considered good Rove material. Ick.

5. Drinking and Drugging with the Bush Twins - Each week, a new contestant will try to out drink, out drug, and out embarrass the Secret Service assigned to the Bush Twin security detail. Bonus points are given when anyone ever sees one of the twins doing anything remotely to be considered selfless.

6. Extreme Iraq Beauty Makeover - Assigned to Donald Rumsfeld, contestants will battle one another to make Iraq look like the DoD press releases make Iraq sound. Each week's winner will be determined by who doesn't get shot or blown up crazy gluing flowers in the hands of a widow or child.

The President's Worst Nightmare

No, it's not getting embroiled in a menage a trois sex scandal with Ann Coulter and Laurie Mylroie.

Check out this cartoon on The Gadflyer.

One can only wish that Colin Powell would do something so constructive at this late stage of the game.

Become a Gadfly

If you haven't checked these folks - The Gadflyer - out before, you should.

Yes, they're running a fundraising drive. It's worth it, even if you can only toss a couple of dollars in their direction.

Do Cicadas Like Right Wingers Better?

With all the chatter and photos of cicadas for the past several weeks, I feel almost deprived because I haven't seen a single such creature up here in the so-called People's Republic of Vermont.

Hell,I even saw one hitting the back of President Bush's head (the president's snipers must have been on a coffee break) and I've heard about them as close as New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Now, we're overridden with mosquitoes and black flies, gnats, and horny moose, but no cicadas.

The Politics of Terror - and Smears

David Neiwert (Orcinus) writes:

We knew all along that the Bush campaign would stop at nothing, stooping to even the most outrageous smear, to defeat John Kerry this November. Now it's happening.

It's becoming clearer every day that one of the chief Republican talking points emerging in the campaign is the suggestion that a vote for Kerry is a vote for Al Qaeda -- because, purportedly, the terrorists secretly want Bush defeated, since Kerry is "soft" on the "war on terror." Of course, a cornerstone of this ploy is the belief that the so-called liberal media will gladly transmit this smear.

Atrios recently caught one of the more egregious examples of this meme being broadcast on CNN's Wolf Blitzer program.

Yet, as Matt Stoller observes, what's really Newspeakish in an utterly Bizzarro kind of fashion about this particular instance of the smear is that it turns on its head what at least one purported Al Qaeda faction has actually said, to wit:

    The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom." In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

    "Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."

    "Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

How Bad Will the GOP Convention Get?

Several articles talking to people who always speak under the condition of anonymity say the GOP will end up ruing the day they chose New York City as the site of the GOP nominating convention at the end of August, set so that Bush and Company could take advantage of the approaching third anniversary of 9/11.

Some liken the possibilities to the chaos and violence of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. That seems a bit wild to me, given the fact that any peace demonstrations I've been involved in have been just that: peaceful. My partner, however, attended the 2/15/03 anti-war march in NYC and said the violence and bad attitude was limited to some of the police.

I do rather hope to attend the marches and demonstrations in New York City just because they (the GOP) chose New York. They've done everything possible to profit politically and economically from the awful events of 9/11, and I especially resent them trying to claim Ground Zero as their own, given what we've learned about lies about pollution, cleanup, the deteriorating health of the firefighters and Ground Zero workers, and the way in which Bush did everything possible to avoid any questions about how 9/11 happened.

But the only violence and bad behavior I expect is from people like Tom DeLay and a record number of police officers (10,000 put on for each shift) who don't want a single dissenting voice to spoil the party atmosphere of the fat cat Republicans.

Do as I Order You and Not As I Do Myself"

From CNN:

A state judge was arrested Saturday for alleged drunken driving and possession of a controlled substance after allegedly trying to avoid a police checkpoint, authorities said.

W. John Brennan, 57, chief judge of state district court in Albuquerque, appeared to be "extremely intoxicated" when he was pulled over just after midnight, police spokesman Trish Ahrensfield said.

Officers also found what they believed to be cocaine in his vehicle, she said.

Ahrensfield said officers stopped Brennan after he tried to avoid a driving-while-intoxicated checkpoint.

Based on the fact that his party affiliation was not mentioned, I tend to suspect he's a Republican. There's been a real tendency to note party affiliation with ill-behaving Democrats while getting all quiet when it's a GOPer.

Man Dies After Sex with Chicken, Perhaps No Additional Goals?

From Reuters:

A 50-year-old Zambian man has hanged himself after his wife found him having sex with a hen, police said Friday.

The woman caught him in the act when she rushed into their house to investigate a noise.

"He attempted to kill her but she managed to escape," a police spokesman said.

The man from the town of Chongwe, about 50 km (30 miles) east of Lusaka, killed himself after being admonished by other villagers.

The hen was slaughtered after the incident.

But why kill the chicken? Did she lure the man into it? Sounds like a fowl move to me.

Chaos and Spin Surrounds Appointment of Iraq P.M.

The only thing clear from this article is that Allawi would probably NOT be the choice of the Iraqi people. In fact, no one seems to have consulted the Iraqi people at all, since the successor was chosen by the same Iraqi Governing Council run by people who have not lived in Iraq for a prolonged period of time and welcome their ties to the US.

Is Jessica Cutler Washington's Answer to Kim Cattrall?

For those living under a rock these past two weeks, Jessica Cutler is the Washington political worker who started a blog - since disappeared - about her exploits in getting paid for having sex with Washington power hitters, including a Republican appointee (as yet unnamed) of Mr. Bush's.

I guess when we were promised a new era with the Bushies, it meant that the GOP would pay underpaid Dem workers for sex, rather than just having them come to the White House and get a scarf for their trouble.

Don't You DARE Tell Middle School Kids About Options Other Than Joining the Military

From The Union newspaper by way of Buzzflash:

A group of anti-war activists plans to soldier on after being told their meeting to discuss options to military service could not be held at the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office last weekend because of safety concerns.

Steve Weiss said he was told by Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer just before the meeting Saturday afternoon to move the group's meeting to another location because the superintendent said there was a potential for violence between Weiss' group and conservative activists.

The meeting was planned, Weiss said, to discuss with concerned parents and the community the presence of military recruiters at the middle- and high school levels and to inform individuals of options outside of military service. Another goal, he said, was "to tell them the truth on military life."

When word spread that a room at the superintendent's office was to be used for the gathering, Republican Central Committee Chairman Tony Gilchrease raised an alarm via e-mail.

"Please note that this Peace Group of Anti-Americans and al Quida (sic) supporters, as far as I'm concerned, are holding their rally and 'training' at the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office," Gilchrease wrote to several dozen area residents the day before the scheduled meeting.

"I suggest that each one of you that feel as outraged as I am about this, call Terry McAteer, a Republican and the Nevada County School Supt. and tell him just how you feel about allowing this traitorous activity to occur on Nevada County school owned property."

Gene Simmons, Talking About Armpits

This is a vile culture and if you think for a second that it's willing to just live in the sands of God's armpit you've got another thing coming," Simmons said during an interview on Melbourne's 3AW radio.

"They want to come and live right where you live and they think that you're evil."

Simmons now insists his remarks were non anti-Muslim and was only speaking of extremists.

This from a man who markets a coffin with a beer refrigerator inside - clearly one of the great minds of our times. Cough.

Gunmen Kill Dozen, Take Hostages

In Saudi.

So how's the War on Terror going to make the world a safer place in which to live, work, and raise the kids, folks? These events have dramatically increased, rather than decreased. Al Qaeda has more recruits than ever.

Is this really what we've kissed off the economy, the environment, our kids' educations, and a basic level of health care to fight? Some of us think that perhaps we're becoming the world's worst enemy, both to ourselves and almost every other country on the globe. At some point, losses move past the acceptable stages.

Pat Tillman Killed by Friendly Fire?

Those are the various reports I've seen today of the football player who gave up a lucrative contract to go fight in President Bush's War on Terror.

Unfortunately, "friendly fire" is almost a natural consequence of combat. When you shoot, you're not always sure who is on the receiving end. Sometimes it's the identified enemy, sometimes it's a colleague, and sometimes, it's a pregnant woman or a child.

"Discipline Takes a Break at the White House"

Posted for tomorrow's Times by David Sanger:

The country may be deeply divided about President Bush, but even his harshest critics used to offer their grudging admiration of one of the greatest talents of this White House: its extraordinary discipline and message control.

No more.

For months now, the same administration whose members once prided themselves on never contradicting one another in public has been riven by conflicting pronouncements. Senior officials keep missing opportunities to keep their signals straight, prompting cases of vicious backbiting that one senior member of Mr. Bush's national security staff said with disgust the other day "make us sound like Democrats.''

Reporters who spent the first two-thirds of Mr. Bush's term looking for any crack between the tight-lipped members of the administration suddenly feel as if they have stepped into an amusement park, with different hawkers openly selling disparate policies, explanations and critiques.

Allawi as Head of Iraq May Be More Our Choice Than That of Iraqi People or UN

Again from The Times, although I think we may need to assess how this plays out in the next few days:

In the choice of Iyad Alawi for prime minister of Iraq, the United Nations found itself appearing shoved aside by the U.S.

A Cabinet Divided

Also from The Times today:

Attorney General John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I., created unease on Wednesday with their vague warning that Al Qaeda is planning an attack in the United States. It wasn't so much the grimly familiar warning. It was the absence of Tom Ridge.

The public understands that warnings are not likely to be specific. But two and a half years after 9/11, bureaucratic turf battles over the nation's security are inexcusable. The 2002 law that established the Department of Homeland Security gave Mr. Ridge the responsibility of coordinating terror-related intelligence analyses and threat assessments. His color-coded terror advisories are often mocked. But at least they signal Washington's best relative estimate of risk.

Last Wednesday, Mr. Ashcroft failed to bring Mr. Ridge with him — and Mr. Ridge had been on television that very morning assuring viewers that there was no new intelligence requiring an increase in the threat level. That left everyone wondering what to make of Mr. Ashcroft's different message. The official explanation, that Mr. Ashcroft just wanted to show pictures of wanted terrorists, deepened the confusion. His comments, and those of other officials, about terrorists perhaps wanting to disrupt the election, presumably to hurt the incumbent, were horribly inappropriate.

At a time when public vigilance is undeniably important, the administration needs to be far more competent and consistent — and apolitical — when it talks about threats.

FBI Issues New Terror Warning Friday, Then Rescinds It

From today's Times:

The F.B.I. issued an urgent bulletin to several cities on Friday that warned of the prospect of an imminent terrorist attack but retracted the alert hours later, after the intelligence proved unfounded, officials said.

The alert went to law enforcement officials in two or three cities to warn of intelligence that indicated the prospect of an attack in the next 24 hours, officials said. Officials would not give the names of the cities.

A federal official in New York City, when asked about the warning, said he was unaware of the city's having received any such notification.

A law enforcement official at another city, who insisted that he and the city not be named, said authorities there had received a call late in the day from the Federal Bureau of Investigation alerting them to the possibility of an "imminent" attack there. Later, however, the FBI called to withdraw the warning.

The official, citing recent questions about the credibility of the terrorist intelligence from the bureau, said, "It's getting harder and harder to defend them."

Timing is Everything

Ever notice that bad news always strikes at the worst possible time? Car breaks down on Christmas Eve, you get hit with a surprise bill just after you've had to spend a great deal of money elsewhere?

Tonight, just as everything was beginning to close for the long holiday weekend, I got a note from my doctor telling me I had to have a CT scan ASAP (next week now, of course) because a lung mass had been seen on recent chest X-rays.

Logically, I know it's just scar tissue from an illness last year that just had not been documented before now. Emotionally, however, I keep staring down at my chest, thinking about this 65 mm. round mass in my left lower lobe, and driving myself nuts with the loathesome possibilities. It's going to be a L-O-N-G weekend. So forgive me in advance for any extra snarkiness on my part.

This time next week, I'm sure I'll return to my usual cheerful bitchiness, already in progress.


The Real American Idol Winner

Fantasia didn't win the other night.

The American public won because that awful show's over for another season. I'll celebrate this momentous occasion just as I celebrate the end of football season and the passing of a festering skin rash.

I'm saying this because I was just chatting with a friend who's addicted to crap like this and this 40-year-old man actually said to me that it would be very painful for him to have to wait a whole season for both American Idol and Survivor to return. If there isn't a Betty Ford Clinic to help you overcome problems like that, there damned well should be.

I don't watch so-called reality TV shows because I'm an elitist. I don't watch them because they're unabashed crap. Reality? They've got as much to do with reality as a Bush campaign speech.

P.S. And I really hate "Everybody Loves Raymond", too. Now where's the goddamned TV remote so I can turn on a Seinfeld rerun I've seen 400 times?

"Want Cheesy Bread and Handcuffs With That?"

Portsmouth, NH is offering a $50 reward to any pizza delivery people or hotel desk clerks who report illegal drug use or underage drinking witnessed by them.

Why didn't John Ashcroft think of this?

Spammed by Christ

Or at least, a so-called favorite rep, Mel Gibson.

The number of unsolicited offers for breast and penis enlargers, Viagra, morphine, banned CDs, debt elimination kits, and mortgage refinancing offers was actually eclipsed in my mailbox this week by an average 25 spams per day from some outfit selling "The Passion" on DVD.

Mel? God doesn't want you to Spam people. God told Mr. Bush to tell me to tell you that.

How Bogus is the New Terror Threat Summary?

Lisa Myers on NBC News tonight, along with other sources, leave you thinking it's pretty bogus, with most of the information coming from a group that's taken responsibility for everything from Michael Jackson's bad nose jobs to stealing lollipops from children. In other words, Ashcroft's premier source is about as credible as most pathological liars.

WWII Memorial

While I'm glad to hear that a memorial has finally been opened to the millions who fought - and nearly half million who died - in World War II, I can't help but think about the breaking of the social contract through Bush's rampant cuts in veterans' programs, including medical service.

Who Killed Nick Berg?

This is from an Australian paper, talking about various discrepancies vs. "known facts" related to Nicholas Berg's capture and subsequent beheading as depicted in the video.

No More Immunity for Pinochet:

From CNN:

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- A court stripped Gen. Augusto Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution Friday, paving the way for the trial of the former Chilean dictator on human rights charges.

One down, one Kissinger to go.

That'll Be $4,000 Please... Each!"

That's the figure I read somewhere the other day for each American's share of the cost of the Iraq war so far. Unless my math is worse than usual (note that Excel worksheets tremble in my wake), I think that's a very low ball, unbelievably conservative figure.

I just checked my piggy bank and I don't have $4,000. But I'm sure the feds will just keep charging on the interest until I do. Shudder

America's Worst Mother - Next Installment

TBogg is in rare form today with his weekly take-off on Meghan Gurdon's drivvel fest from NRO (don't read Meghan's column - TBogg's is always infinitely better written and a heluva lot funnier):

There is nothing more annoying than hearing an upper-middle class stay-at-home suburban mom whine about how hard it is to raise her children when there are millions of working moms (including single-parent working moms) who daily manage the feat without letting their brood turn into a pack of slavering scavengers. But it reminds us that there are two important lessons to be learned here:

1. Don't have more kids than you can handle. With rare exceptions (the Santorum family comes to mind), human children do not come in litters. There is a reason for that. Birth control is widely available and if you can't avail yourself, practice the rhythm method, but only if you keep a beat. Besides, if you have too many kids too close together you end up looking like this which is nature's way of warning men off.

2. Teach your children well. You're the mommy. You make the rules. Enforce them. You've probably had years of practice with the daddy, and look how well he's turned out. A time-out, a stern word, a threatening glance, or a well-placed burst of pepperspray can turn even the most uncontrollable child into a docile little angel...once the screaming and face-rubbing on the carpet has concluded.

These are proven rules. One need only look at how well I turned out...

Chalabi, Iran Spy or?

From Josh Marshall:

There are a handful of articles out yesterday or today in which various partisans of Ahmed Chalabi claim that top level government officials say that the spying charges against Ahmed Chalabi are not to be taken seriously --- they're merely the product of bureaucratic infighting within the US government, payback from his enemies at State and CIA.

I have sources too. And I hear quite the opposite. From what I'm told, what really cooked Chalabi's goose was that the evidence against him was sufficiently damning that his one-time advocates and protectors inside the government -- folks very high up the ladder -- simply washed their hands of him, wouldn't try to defend him.

Capitol Hill Divided Over Ashcroft Alerts

From Salon:

The FBI and Justice Department insist that warning the public about a possibly devastating terror attack in this country was justified by intelligence and may avert a repeat of the Sept. 11 attacks. But some Bush administration officials and lawmakers aren't so sure.

These officials and members of Congress with access to the same intelligence reports said the announcement by Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller was overblown and caused unnecessary public worry.

Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the Ashcroft-Mueller news conference on Wednesday mistakenly led some to believe the nation's threat level had been increased.

He called it "regrettable'' that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who made a round of television appearances Wednesday, did not join Ashcroft and Mueller.

Atrios on Ashcroft's Grandstand

Atrios points out something that some of us noticed on Wednesday, but that may have been lost in the "fog" of terrorism threat: that Ashcroft is NOT the person who is supposed to deliver such information, Tom Ridge is. In fact, apparently Tom Ridge was completely cut out of the loop by Ashcroft in doing so. Note too that the FBI chief, when he spoke, used far more careful language than Ashcroft.

Hypocrisy in the Name of God

While there are numerous examples of this, I'm referring right now to the Vatican and to the leaders of the Catholic Church.

An OpEd in today's Times, written by Kenneth Woodward, states that the Catholic Church and Democrats are on a collision course, and the temper of the piece makes me sense Mr. Woodward feels the Dems are the guilty party.

Yet that brings us to an excellent example of the hypocrisy. The Catholic Church, as run by a few select men - always men - has specifically singled out Democrats for their pro-choice, pro-gay rights stance. For example, one potentate felt that candidate John Kerry should be denied communion, while a Denver bishop felt that anyone communicant who voted for someone who was pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro stem cell, and heck,pro-humanity, should be kept from partaking of the eucharist.

Again and again, no specific mention is made of denying the symbolic act of communion to Republicans who are pro-death penalty and pro war, for example. And who's going to deny Rudy Giuliani or Tom Ridge, both pro-choice Catholics, from taking communion?

Democrats did not make this an issue now. Higher-ups in the church did, and pointedly during a tense election year. The Church has interjected itself again and again.

And on this hypocritical note, let me add something I also found in The Times early this morning:

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was forced to resign as leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston after a long and painful sexual abuse scandal involving clergy members, was chosen by Pope John Paul II on Thursday to head a basilica in Rome.

A man who allowed children to be molested again and again over the years is being honored with a post within the Vatican. Apparently to the Pope and other leading Catholics, human life is only precious until it is born. Then, that life can be mistreated again and again by the church's own priests.

If they want to behave this way, I think it's time for the Vatican to lose its seat in the UN, for the Catholic Church and its priests to lose their tax advantages here in the U.S. They aren't above the law, and they certainly do not appear to be above practicing both partisan politics and abuse.

On This Memorial Day Weekend

Besides having fun and keeping you and yours safe this holiday weekend, perhaps try to take a few moments to remember the historical meaning of this holiday: a remembrance of those who have fallen in war.

Has it been worth it? Can we afford to continue on our current path? Have we brought democracy and stability to other parts of the world or death and chaos?

Consider, too, that you're FAR more statistically likely to face an impaired driver this weekend than you are a terrorist. Putting some perspective on the situation can help.


Mr. Bush and the Press

From Paul Krugman's Friday column in The Times:

Amazing things have been happening lately. The usual suspects have tried to silence reporting about prison abuses by accusing critics of undermining the troops — but the reports keep coming. The attorney general has called yet another terror alert — but the press raised questions about why. (At a White House morning briefing, Terry Moran of ABC News actually said what many thought during other conveniently timed alerts: "There is a disturbing possibility that you are manipulating the American public in order to get a message out.")


In the "Gee What a Surprise" Department

Threats and torture used against hundreds of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year yielded very little results in the form of usable intelligence.

But civilian and military intelligence officials, as well as top commanders with access to intelligence reports, now say they learned little about the insurgency from questioning inmates at the prison. Most of the prisoners held in the special cellblock that became the setting for the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib apparently were not linked to the insurgency, they said.

As Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!"

Al Franken Beating the OxyContin-Filled Pants Off Limbaugh

So says ratings for the New York market. Similar ratings are seen in Chicago.

Alas, I don't live anywhere near a city broadcasting Air America and often experience problems trying to run the streaming audio.

Michael Moore: We Have Footage of Nicholas Berg

From ABC News:

Filmmaker Michael Moore, whose incendiary new documentary lambastes President Bush's handling of the war, said Thursday that he has footage unused in the film of Nicholas Berg, the American civilian later beheaded in Iraq.
The footage, of an interview with Berg, "is approximately 20 minutes long. We are not releasing it to the media," Moore said in a statement. "It is not in the film. We are dealing privately with the family."

I'm not sure what the relevance here is supposed to be, or why the subject is being raised now or even why ABC News thought it was noteworthy enough to put on their site. The only possible interest - outside of that of the family, of course - would be if Nick Berg was interviewed related to his incarceration in Iraq in those critical weeks before he was executed.

"Karen is a West Texas girl. Just like me."

Perhaps you can understand what George Bush meant by that comment. I mean, we knew he stuffed his flight suit for that "Mission Accomplished" fly-in stunt, but I didn't think he stuffed it that much.

Nasty Stats

From TalkLeft:

A new report by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics finds that 1 of every 75 men in the U.S. are in prison or jail.

The cause: Mandatory minimums, three-strikes, truth in sentencing laws.

Zarqawi as American Agent?

That appears to be the theory Hesiod at CounterSpin is putting forward, nothing that in the most recent version of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Terrorist list, Zarqawi does not appear, even though the CIA and FBI both insisted he was part of Nick Berg's beheading sometime in late April/early May. They also tried to link him to the head of the head of the IGC only to be disproven.

Writes Hesiod:

That would explain his "letter" to Bin Laden offering an alliance, and complaining about how successful the U.S. was in Iraq.

It would explain why his terrorist camp wasn't bombed before the Iraq war.

It would explain why his name was grafted onto the Nick Berg video, and why other people unaffiliated with Al Qaeda were arrested for the crime. (How did they even know who these people were?)

It explains why, despite his being terrorist bogeyman number one right now, he's not listed on the most wanted list. And it cannot be because he's dead. They still list Mohammed Atef, even though he was supposedly killed in Afghanistan.

I may be crazy, but this smells.

How Much Do You Know?

Take VT Rep Bernie Sanders' current issues quiz and see how you fare (sorry, no "American Idol" questions.

Come on, it's just 10 questions. You can beat my score (9 out of 10 correct - the jobs question is a killer, in more ways than one).

Sign the Petition to Remove Rush Lamehog from Armed Forces Radio


Do it for the troops. They don't deserve this crap (or much of the other crap this administration has slapped on them).

But I'm not even sure I'd willingly inflict Rush on Osama or Saddam.

Ashcroft Rides Again

The Attorney General was back before cameras today to announce some big new federal drug task force created, of course, because we're doing such a bang up job in the war against drugs (right). He proclaims this is an important move for freedom.

Freedom? He'd say the same damned thing if he were opening a bathroom. The man who is known for singing, "Let the Eagles Soar" doesn't seem to appreciate that he's a large, non-flying odd bird. He takes religious zealotry to some level of camp and perhaps fringy mental illness.

Me? As much as I'd like to see heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and such just go away, my tax dollars would be so much better spent educating kids, coming up with programs that would make them have enough self-esteem that drugs would not interest them.

I don't meant those dip-shit DARE programs either. The more you research DARE, the less there is to like. A strong sense of who you are is much more likely to keep you from any type of dependency - from overeating and alcoholism on to serious drug use - than anything like DARE.

But if you worry about kids and drugs, notice sometime just how many prescription drug ads appear on TV during dinner hour. For the last few decades, our advertising sends a powerful message to everyone that there's a pill to treat anything. Blah? Take a Xanax. Sad? Take Zoloft. Need to feel sexy? Here's some Levitra.

Bush Victory = Decreased Education, Security

And not just for the most obvious reasons either. The White House is circulating a memo to departments saying that Bush intends to cut programs he's trying to win the election upon if he's (re)elected this November.

From the Post today:

The White House put government agencies on notice this month that if President Bush is reelected, his budget for 2006 may include spending cuts for virtually all agencies in charge of domestic programs, including education, homeland security and others that the president backed in this campaign year.

"Despite [administration] denials, this memorandum confirms what we suspected all along," said Thomas S. Kahn, Democratic staff director on the House Budget Committee. "Next February, the administration plans to propose spending cuts in key government services to pay for oversized tax cuts."

Post Piece Also Voices Skepticism Over Yesterday's Terror Announcement

From today's Washington Post:

We don't take much at face value here in Washington, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Bush administration's warning of a possible terror attack yesterday was greeted with skepticism in some quarters.

Could it have been an attempt to change the subject away from the grim news from Iraq and the president's drooping poll numbers?

On CBS's "Early Show" today, Thalia Assuras says: "The question is whether politics played a role. After all, the threat level, despite all the 'credible intelligence chatter' has not been raised. . . .

"We've heard it all for months now: The U.S. is a target for terrorists. So why this latest frenzy?"

...CNN's Dana Bash told Judy Woodruff yesterday: "Judy, as far as their motives go, the Bush team certainly is well aware of the fact that people are questioning their motives and that there's a perception that perhaps that there was a political motive out there.

"As a matter of fact, they understand it is, people think, perhaps to change the subject on Iraq. I talked to an official about Iraq earlier, called the official and started asking questions about that. And sarcastically the official said, 'Why are you calling me about this? Don't you know that we changed the subject?'"

French Open Really a Meeting of Top-Level Al Qaeda Terrorists?

Don't laugh. That's about what some of us are expecting to hear next from Rummy and Ashcroft, especially after France had the "nerve" to question our plans for Iraq post-June 30th.

While we're at it, the author of "Blowback" and "The Sorrow of Empires" warns Americans against visiting the Olympic games in Greece this summer. He doesn't expect Americans will be the focus of terrorist attacks but may have ouzo spat in their faces by Greeks who don't like the kind of gifts Bush's American bears.

Times Article Questions Timing of "Al Qaeda Threat

From today's NY Times:

...But some intelligence officials, terrorism experts - and to some extent even Mr. Ashcroft's own F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III - offered a more tempered assessment, saying, "For the next few weeks we have reason to believe there is a heightened threat to the U.S. interests around the world.'' And some opponents of President Bush, including police and firefighter union leaders aligned with Senator John Kerry, the expected Democratic presidential candidate, said the timing of the announcement appeared intended in part to distract attention from Mr. Bush's sagging poll numbers and problems in Iraq.

The administration did not raise the terrorist threat advisory from its current level of elevated, or yellow, and the White House said Mr. Bush would not alter his schedule because of security concerns.

"There's no real new intelligence, and a lot of this has been out there already," said one administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "There really is no significant change that would require us to change the alert level of the country."

Care for a prediction that doesn't require a call to the Psychic Friends Network?

Whether or not anything happens (and I hope it does not), Bush will continue on his active campaign schedule (leaving no time to be president but then, that's really Cheney's job) and will then take his typical 4-6 weeks off this summer, as will Cheney and company. In the meantime, we'll continue to hear this drumbeat right up to November, trying to scare dissenters from voting against Bush and frighten the general populace into voting for him.

RIP David Dellenger

One of the great protestors of all time, David Dellenger, has died in a Montpelier, VT nursing home just shy of his 90th birthday. I'm listening to Tom Hayden on "Democracy Now!" recounting Dave's participation in the "Chicago 8" trials when he was an "old man" then of about 60.


What if the 7 terrorist suspects Ashcroft cited on Wednesday are just as guilty - not that they've committed any crime yet - as that Muslin attorney who was released of all charges after the FBI wrongly matched his fingerprint to that of the Madrid train bomber?


Nixon "Too Drunk" to Help in '73 Crisis

From CBSNews:

Five days into the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, with the superpowers on the brink of confrontation, President Richard Nixon was too drunk to discuss the crisis with the British prime minister, according to newly released transcripts of tape recordings.

President Bush, upon being read this article by Condi Rice, said, "I'll drink to that! Now that was a great man."

Troops Have to Listen to Rush Limbaugh: Now That's Torture!

Salon makes this point:

American Forces Radio fires a daily barrage of Rush Limbaugh at its million uniformed listeners. So why are liberals kept off the military's airwaves?

BTW, Salon is offering premium subscriptions to all active-duty military personnel.

Text of Gore's Remarks Today

For the 3 1/2 people who might care, here's the text of the speech Al Gore gave today.

If only he had given speeches of this caliber in 2000 - and we'd duct taped Antonin Scalia and his ventriloquist's dummy, Clarence Thomas and hid them in a locked closet.


I just realized that in less than 5 months since I started this, I've posted more than 1,000 entries to this blog. In only I were paid by word... or learned to shut my trap occasionally. ;>

John Can't Cover His Ashcroft on This One

A court has told AG John Ashcroft that he cannot interfere with Oregon's voter-passed assisted suicide program.

Right Wing Raising Issue of Beheading of American Nick Berg Again and Again

In the past 24 hours, when I've had little time to read or watch news, I've still managed to hear the execution of Nicholas Berg invoked more than a dozen times, mostly by people who are working on the Bush-Cheney re-election team.

Considering the men they're trying to re-elect set up the conditions by which Nick went to that country, and responsible for the growth of violence since, I would not employ this as a point in favor of giving Mr. Bush a second term. Beyond that, it's patently indecent. Decency, however, is not that crew's strong suit, all their rhetoric to the contrary aside.

Exclusive: Images of Those 7 Terrorists Who Want to Harm America

If you see these people, RUN right to a voting booth and vote them away from all possible continued association with our good country.

(Photos shamelessly lifted and cropped from Internet Weekly).

Ashcroft and FBI Look for Summer Attack 7

Well, they're specifying 7. Let's hope the names are Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy, et al. Although knowing Ashcroft, he'll change the namesto Doc al Jabar, Grumpy al Jarzawi, and so on.

So they say these guys are in the country already. What happened to our great "net" thrown over America for safety sake?

Register to Vote

You will see me make this plea frequently over the next several months. What you won't see me tell you is how you should register.

Become a Dem, a GOPer, an Indy, a Libertarian, a Naderite, or even a Socialist. It doesn't matter to me. But it will matter to the entire country and forward to the entire planet if you don't register and can't vote. Then do your research and vote based on your conclusions from that research on November 2nd.

Vote like your life depends on it because it will.


Carl Bernstein: Time to Ask the Question About Bush

From Sunday's USA Today:

Thirty years ago, a Republican president, facing impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, was forced to resign because of unprecedented crimes he and his aides committed against the Constitution and people of the United States. Ultimately, Richard Nixon left office voluntarily because courageous leaders of the Republican Party put principle above party and acted with heroism in defense of the Constitution and rule of law.
"What did the president know and when did he know it?" a Republican senator — Howard Baker of Tennessee — famously asked of Nixon 30 springtimes ago.

Today, confronted by the graphic horrors of Abu Ghraib prison, by ginned-up intelligence to justify war, by 652 American deaths since presidential operatives declared "Mission Accomplished," Republican leaders have yet to suggest that George W. Bush be held responsible for the disaster in Iraq and that perhaps he, not just Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is ill-suited for his job.

Having read the report of Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, I expect Baker's question will resound again in another congressional investigation. The equally relevant question is whether Republicans will, Pavlov-like, continue to defend their president with ideological and partisan reflex, or remember the example of principled predecessors who pursued truth at another dark moment.

I would say it's past time to ask these questions. But I heartily agree they must be asked. Thank you, Carl. I was wondering where you've been recently.

Major Terror Attack Planned This Summer?

Besides the number of times we've heard this before, and the talk around for some time now that we'd definitely have one just before the election, I really question the legitimacy here even if you discount how often the terror alert level has been raised whenever the president started being questioned.

Let me go against the grain here and say that if Americans are smart and a terrorist attack of some kind is attempted or perpetrated, I don't think it will necessarily translate well for Bush. Keep in mind that under very conservative estimates, we've spent more than $3 in Iraq for every dollar spent on so-called homeland security. We've killed far more civilian Iraqis than died on 9/11 when there's not one shred of evidence that Iraq or Hussein had any connection to 9/11 at all.

Remember, too, that for most of us, Tom Ridge's huge homeland security budget means huge funds to protect corporations, while we're told to go buy duct tape and bottled water. Ports and the like get protected on the municipality's tax dollar. They've cried wolf so often that cities and states, having rosen to non occasions frequently, are cutting back on the number of days children attend school. Homeland security's been a windfall for companies that donated to Bush's campaign, while I doubt many Americans feel any safer.

So if we get hit, let's not just bow and scrape and wave the flag. Let's ask some real questions about how this was allowed to happen again. We don't even have a lot of troops onhand to help. Many of the men and women like the national guard and the reserves who would be called out are sitting over in Iraq being used for target practice.

The president has squandered so very much. I'll guarantee you that if terrorists strike, he'll be safe and fine. But we can't afford to have him at the helm much longer. He's become the symbolic target drawn on America.

Argh. This post is not saying what I'd like. But I want us all to be prepared to hold them to a standard we didn't hold them to on 9/11. And remember how hard this president fought against into any real investigation of 9/11.

Your Opinion on Iraq

Wes Boyd at MoveOn.org is looking for your opinion on the situation as it relates to Iraq. Go here to register it.

Comment System Upgrade

Just a note to let the few of you who have noticed and mentioned the 1,000 comment character limit that I've upgraded the account to permit posts 3x as long.

This should take effect sometime today according to the good folks at HaloScan.

MaxSpeak on GOP Outsourcing Donation Calls

Max has a post today about the outsourcing issue:

The Republican National Committee is quoted in the Post dismissing the story about GOP out-sourcing of fund-raising to Indian call centers as an "urban legend." The SCLM Post evidently did not find it necessary to acknowledge a contrary story from India, even though it was written in English.

The HindustanTimes.com site has a detailed story to the effect that in fact the subcontractors doing the actual calling for the Republicans were indeed working out of India (Noida and Gurgaon if you're interested in specifics).

Historical Filmmaker Ken Burns

[Ed note: Sometimes, I think that all the huge security presence that travels around the Bushies is done as much to keep dissent in check as to protect a man who has never seen a serious threat.]

NEW HAVEN -- Ken Burns had sober advice for the class of 2004, students who came of age after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and now leave Yale as war rages in Iraq.

"Insist that we fight the right wars," he said. "Steel yourselves. Your generation will have to repair this damage. And it will not be easy."

Burns addressed Yale's 1,300 seniors Sunday. He called his remarks a "valentine" to his oldest daughter, Sarah, who graduates today. But the speech was also a sharp commentary on President Bush and the war in Iraq.

President Bush and his daughter Barbara, who also graduates from Yale today, did not attend Class Day, held on Old Campus, or Sunday's baccalaureate services. But security helicopters rumbled overhead as Burns spoke.

Bush Trumped By "Fear Factor" and "A Beautiful Mind"

It's bad when you get a really bad review from a pro war paper's TV reviewer:

Old Blue Tie was back, but not exactly in top form. The official topic of George W. Bush's speech last night was his grand plan for rebuilding Iraq, but the address may have been prompted more by a political crisis than by foreign policy: A new poll showed Bush receiving his lowest public approval rating ever for his handling of the war he started.

Bill Cosby: Drawing Fire

I'm not sure I fully understand the ire and outrage Bill Cosby is drawing for his recent remarks to parents. Perhaps it's a cultural divide or the fact that I don't have teens, but what I heard him say (and I've just read and heard a string of separate remarks, to be fair) sounded like common sense advice to parents regardless of the color.

"I Knight Thee"

Sir Tommy Franks? Excuse me?

Who Has a Better Plan for America?

That's the CNN poll since last night, just before the president's speech. Even with the speech, the president is faring just slightly better than the "neither" category:

    Kerry 39%

    Bush 33%

    Neither 28%

Update: At 1 PM ET, although Kerry has a 2,000 vote advantage, he and Bush are both neck-and-neck at 36%. I picture Karl Rove running feverishly from computer to computer at the WH, voting for his man. Man, this is close enough for the Supremes to decide. Heh.

"Terror" on the Train (Wheeze)

Just how much do you think this happy horseshit cost us in tax dollars and man hours?

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) -- A motion sensor found on Philadelphia rail tracks that raised concern about possible terrorism was planted by an employee hoping to be warned of approaching bosses while he slept on the job, officials said Monday.

The War on Terror: this administration's way of being sure we never see the forest for the trees. Always look for the bogeyman, and not the real people threatening America.

Look At This Picture

Printed in Salon, taken right after the conclusion, and tell me how well you think even Bush believed he did following his address tonight:

Salon puts it as staying the course and "marching right off the cliff."

Dean: Give Us a Paper Trail on Votes

From Howard Dean Email tonight:

Today we call on Congress and the states to require any electronic voting machine used in this election to produce a paper trail -- one that allows voters to verify their choices and officials to conduct recounts. Add your name to the call for accountability:

[Go here to sign.]

We will deliver the petition to Congress and the secretaries of state of every state planning to use electronic voting machines.


"Exception to the Rulers"

My partner had the opportunity to see Amy Goodman, long-time Pacifica radio host and now host of Democracy Now!, and her brother, David, who have authored, "Exception to the Rulers", when they appeared at Vermont College Saturday night. Alas, work kept me from attending but he picked up a copy of the book which I started in bed last night.

Already, I would recommend people buy a copy (at worst, borrow a copy from a library that has one). It's very well written (although the picture of George, Dick, and Rummy on the cover gave me unfortunate nightmares featuring Rudy Giuliani) and Amy's views on journalism are priceless.

When my partner got a chance to speak with Amy after the talk, he asked her if she would consider not having Alan Dershowitz as a guest again on the show, given his pro-torture rhetoric. To his surprise, she said, "You know, we were just discussing that."

Now, as much as I've come to disrespect Dershowitz given his support of a national ID card and torture since 9/11, I can't say that's a request I would have made. It's not even because I used to respect Dershowitz for the work he did pro bono on indigent cases.

Unlike corporate media, good journalism requires hearing from all sides, even the ones you don't like. But I certainly understand my partner's displeasure with Dershowitz and the sentiment is one I've heard voiced by others.

General Zinni on Iraq

As one of our readers noted, Gen. Anthony Zinni has had some strong words against this administration's handling of Iraq, both before this and on last night's 60 Minutes.

Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly posts Zinni's major points:

TOP TEN IRAQ MISTAKES....General Anthony Zinni lists the ten biggest mistakes we made in Iraq:

The first mistake [was] the belief that containment as a policy doesn't work....

The second mistake I think history will record is that the strategy was flawed....

The third mistake, I think was one we repeated from Vietnam, we had to create a false rationale for going in to get public support....

We failed in number four, to internationalize the effort....

I think the fifth mistake was that we underestimated the task....

The sixth mistake, and maybe the biggest one, was propping up and trusting the exiles....

The seventh problem has been the lack of planning....

The eighth problem was the insufficiency of military forces on the ground....

The ninth problem has been the ad hoc organization we threw in there....

The tenth mistake [has been] a series of bad decisions on the ground....

In Honor of the Speech Tonight

Get yours at MoveOn.

We're Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Robin Wright is on Hardass Hardball tonight saying that at the Brookings Institute today, the message was that America is part of the problem and not part of the solution in Iraq.

I'm, however, about to turn it off because Chris has Joe ("What dead intern in my office that the press never noticed?") Scarbrough on for clear ::cough:: objective ::choke choke:: commentary.

Bulldoze and Forget

NBC is reporting that we've decided to bulldoze Abu Ghraib prison. See no evil, remember no evil?

The abuse isn't limited to Abu Ghraib so what do you do? Use Trent Lott's advice (God help us) and bulldoze all of Iraq? According to a survey today, more than half of Americans believe (and probably very rightly so) that orders for abuse came from all those men at the top who are denying responsibility right now, and did not originate with the soldiers.

They (the president and the DOD/top military) took 'em to war, and if they manage not to get shot long enough to have an abuse charge leveled against them, the government and military completely disavows the GIs as "real" Americans. Abuse occurs on so many different levels.

President Bush and the Veritable Lightbulb

From a joke circulating and posted on Kos today:

How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a lightbulb?
The Answer is SEVEN:

one to deny that a lightbulb needs to be replaced

one to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the lightbulb,

one to blame the previous administration for the need of a new lightbulb,

one to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of lightbulbs,

one to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton Industries one million dollars for a lightbulb,

one to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the lightbulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag,

and finally one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a lightbulb and screwing the country.

Top Searches are Nick Berg, Beheading, and Islamic Militant Web Site


Bush Down to 41% Approval

I like how Skippy captured this moment:

awol's poll numbers are falling faster than bill bennett's pants in front of a las vegas dominatrix.

Go Skippy!

Vermont and WalMart

The National Historical Preservation group has placed the entire state of Vermont on a watch list because of plans by WalMart to saturate the state with superstores. Ewww!

While I usually agree with Ezra Klein - as well as Jesse Taylor - at Pandagon, I'm afraid I part ways with Ezra over this post, where I replied in comments. There is a huge difference between Costco, which offers real benefits to its employees, and WalMart, where many employees make little enough to get health insurance or even shop at their own discount store.

No, I can't go shopping easily up here, but when I do, I never go to WalMart. Strangely enough, I've managed to survive even if I pay 20 cents more a roll for toilet paper. Heh.

The Price Unpaid for the Rafah Devastation

Gideon Levy has a thoughtful, excellent piece in Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, which begins:

On a day when bodies of children were being stuffed into a big refrigerator used to store potatoes, and when thousands of homeless people were fleeing for their lives (some of them refugees rendered homeless for the second or third time), life in Israel went on as usual, as though what was happening in Rafah was not being done in the name of the country's citizens. Such apathy renders all of us responsible - and yet there are some who bear a heavier burden of responsibility. In a climate less lax than the one which has gripped Israel in recent years, they would be ostracized.

Still No Main Coverage of Wedding Bombing

CNN and other members of the mainstream media are very quiet on the Associated Press report that there really was a wedding taking place when we bombed the hell out of them last week.

Vermont Legalizes Medical Use Defense

Congratulations to the Vermont legislature, which approved a plan last week to allow those with cancer, AIDS, and other debilitating illnesses to use medical use as a defense against marijuana possession and use charges. Governor Jim Douglas, though opposed to the plan, says he will allow it to pass into law without his signature. Good for him.

During the hearings last year and earlier, a number of eloquent people spoke about how marijuana is helping them do battle against their illnesses. It's nice to see a positive result. It's also good to see that the state is adopting a new attitude toward drugs, with more of an emphasis on treatment for addicts rather than stiff sentencing.

Of course, however, US AG John Ashcroft will target the state for prosecution of cases on the federal level as they have elsewhere. But I'm still proud of my chosen state for recognizing the social implications and acting upon them.

We Broke It, You Fix It

That seems to sum up Mr. Bush's new Iraqi plan, which would hand Iraq basically over to the UN - which didn't want us to charge into Iraq to start with. Gee, most of us, if we charge forward on a ruinous path, would be stuck with the results of the damage we wrought. Not Mr. Bush.

Oh sure, we'll continue troop forces there and the violence certainly won't end on June 30th. Halliburton, WorldCom, and others will continue to wildly profit from the efforts there and big chunks of those profits will be funneled back to Mr. Bush's re-election campaign.

Remember, too, that Mr. Bush's new idea includes not handing over Iraqi finances to Iraq but to John Negroponte, a man some of us would not allow to manage an ant farm.

CNN: No Room for Wedding Bombing Story

Strange: CNN has room on its page to discuss the death of a circus performer and the death of a child on an amusement park ride and THREE different mentions of Bush's upcoming Iraq speech (yawn), but nowhere is there any mention of the AP story with apparent proof that we indeed bombed a wedding party and then lied, lied, lied, and lied about it.


Chalabi's Iran Connection?

Reports are now that Chalabi's #2 man is now in resident in Tehran. But Mr. Chalabi himself was extolling Mr. Bush's virtues today on the Sunday gab shows.

The Wedding That Wasn't But Was

Last week, the military rushed to insist that the 45 people or so killed in the bombing of what the Iraqis called a wedding party was really a meeting of senior Iraqi resistance leaders.

But the AP has video of the wedding taking place just before everyone was blown to bits. Funny, I heard not one damned thing about this in all the news programming I watched, listened to, and read today until I saw the AP piece tonight.

Of course, as Rush Lamehog would say, "Nothing worse than what you'd find at a Brittney Spears concert or a frat party." Senator Inhofe would be outraged at the Iraqi survivor outrage.

Full Retreat from America's Core Values

From editorial/columnist Cynthia Tucker:

We've become a bit confused.

As Americans, we're supposed to have a deep respect for dissent, to value honest and open government, to believe in truth and justice. Those are among the core values that distinguish us from much of the rest of the world, where tyranny has free rein.

...How can we expect Iraqis to adopt a democracy like ours and live by its principles when so many of us seem unwilling to live by those same values?

It may be that democracy, U.S.-style, is a tough creed to live by. Unlike authoritarian rule, where dictators tell you what to do and how to think, Jeffersonian democracy, with its emphasis on individual liberty, requires each citizen to think for himself.

And Jeffersonian democracy endorses a free press, which frequently portrays a nation not quite as perfect as its founding myths suggest. That means that thinking citizens will often be confronted with the premise that their beloved country is sometimes unjust, sometimes greedy, sometimes brutal.

Shorter Congressional Hearings on Prison Abuse

    "We're all in charge. We've all got impressive titles. We take ALL the responsibility for every success you can name but we take ABSOLUTELY NO responsibility whatsoever for knowing nothing about nothing about anyone under our command."

Got it? Sure you do.

Freedom Fries to Fallwell

TChris at TalkLeft reprinted today something received from a friend that's funny enough to share:

New York, NY

6:00 PM Opening Prayer led by the Reverend Jerry Fallwell

6:30 PM Pledge of Allegiance

6:35 PM Burning of Bill of Rights (excluding 2nd amendment)

6:45 PM Salute to the Coalition of the Willing [Ed. note: that shouldn't take too long]

6:46 PM Seminar #1: Iraq Stratergies-Voodoo/DooDoo WMD

7:30 PM First Presidential Beer Bong

7:35 PM Serve Freedom Fries

7:40 PM EPA Address #1: Mercury-It's what's for dinner!

8:00 PM Vote on which country to invade next

8:10 PM Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh

8:15 PM John Ashcroft Lecture: The Homos are after your Children!!

Likening Rafah to the Holocaust

An Israeli cabinet member is drawing fire for likening the Israeli Army actions against Palestinians in Gaza to what he remembers of the devastation of the Holocaust in his own childhood.

Yet it's not the first time I have heard such. While still a college student, I had the pleasure of knowing this lovely older non-trad student, a woman named Molly, Jewish herself and with a daughter at the time living in a kibbutz. Molly had visited Israel several times, and whenever the topic of the Israel-Palestine issue would come up, her face would turn sad. A few times she spoke of what she saw as a comparison between the treatment of Jews in parts of Europe in the 30s and 40s to what some hawkish Jews like the then-younger Sharon were doing.

I remember clearly her telling us, "It wasn't right then. It's not right now. Of all people, we know that descrimination, bloodshed, and hatred only begets something worse."

Yes, those words have framed some of my thinking since then and Molly's sage words have come back to me several times since I learned of the more than 17,000 Palestinian homes destroyed recently, the terror in Rafah last week when guns opened fire on Palestinian protestors who were largely children and bore no arms.

Both sides need to recognize the right of each to exist and both sides must stop killing one another. Too many innocent lives have been taken, too much blood shed.

So forgive me if I don't join the chorus jumping on the bandwagon to shout down this cabinet minister. Based on what Molly said, I think his words may be apt. What's more, considering sentiment right now in parts of the US and Israel, I think the man was both wise and brave.

Andy Kaufman, Another Hoax?

On Wednesday, a press release - rather than a news story - appeared on Yahoo, which begins like this:

New York City, NY (PRWEB) May 19, 2004 -- Twenty years ago, on May 16, 1984, most of the world believed that we had lost a comedic legend forever. This has turned out to be what will inevitably be known as the greatest comic prank ever conceived. Andy Kaufman, by all accounts, is alive and well at age 55 and is now living in New York City on the upper west side. To his loyal supporters and fans, Andy says "sorry about faking my death," in a recent interview with ABC News at his apartment. In order to reach legendary comic status and seal his place in the history of performance art, he said it was "necessary to go away for twenty years."

Andy Kaufman's official site has been launched at Andy Kaufman Returns blog.

True or not, who the hell knows? I'm not even sure how many care anymore.

I was one of the ones who sorta liked Andy Kaufman. I was very young and I saw him trying to push the envelope into a wild elephant. But as he made me increasingly uncomfortable, and to be fair, that was distinctly part of Andy's schtick, I watched less and less. I began to pity him, and that's a hell of an indictment.

But if he is indeed alive, the press release is probably right in summing up that his purported death made him more of an historical figure in his craft than his continued presence on the performance scene would have. That's sad, too.

Iran Admits "Dialogue" with Chalabi

That's the breaking news on MSNBC right now.

Great job, Dick, George, Rummy, Wolfie (Wolfowitz, not Blitzer, although I have some strong opinions on that Wolfie, too). Your Asix of "Whoever We Don't Like Right Now is EEEE-ville is an unbelievable success.

Fahrenheit 911

Frank Rich is at his best - well, at least as good as taking on Mel Gibson - in his piece in today's Times. Here's a bit:

But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? And watch him suffer."
— Barbara Bush on "Good Morning America,"

March 18, 2003

SHE needn't have worried. Her son wasn't suffering. In one of the several pieces of startling video exhibited for the first time in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," we catch a candid glimpse of President Bush some 36 hours after his mother's breakfast TV interview — minutes before he makes his own prime-time TV address to take the nation to war in Iraq. He is sitting at his desk in the Oval Office. A makeup woman is doing his face. And Mr. Bush is having a high old time. He darts his eyes about and grins, as if he were playing a peek-a-boo game with someone just off-camera. He could be a teenager goofing with his buds to relieve the passing tedium of a haircut.

A Bid for Universal Health Care

The other day, I had to go to the local hospital out here 50 miles north of the boonies, and I was surprised to learn that I had to produce a picture ID and health insurance card just to check in for blood tests and X-rays. Because of the new procedure, it was taking 10 minutes or more to process each person rather than the usual 1-2 minutes (because they scan all your documentation into the system to prove to the insurance company you're covered).

Now, let me add that up here, that's not typical. I've (unfortunately) had to go to the hospital for tests numerous times over the past year and this was the first time this process was in place. When I finally (half an hour into it) got called to register, I asked the clerk why the new procedure. She explained that the insurance companies were requiring them now to prove that the person with an insurance card actually was the person insured. In these desperate times, apparently, insurance fraud is way up.

While I happen to live in a state where - at least in part thanks to former Governor Howard Dean - about 93-94% of the residents have some form of health insurance (a much higher percentage than many states), it made me think yet again of the dire need for America, (one of) the last civilized country without such a program, to have universal health care.

Can we really afford to spend more than $500 BILLION - and that's a conservative estimate since so much more gets funneled to them - on the Defense Department and yet health care is really going to break the bank?

No, of course, universal health care isn't a panacea for everything. But folks, it makes sense! Especially at a time when a record number of Americans are now without it. Fuck Tom Delay who doesn't want it; we after all pay for his extraordinary care from our taxpayer dollars. In fact, most of the people who tell us we can't have it are people for whom we PAY to cover.