UN Leader Says World Becoming Increasingly Unequal

Amen to that, Kofi Annan. But I also suspect that's been the express mission of people like George Bush and those who move him, by a large continent of the G8 countries, of the IMF and the World Bank.

These folks don't seek equality of people. They want the rich to become richer, the powerful even moreso, and the poor even less able to affect change.

My evidence? Bush cutting out funds around the world except for "anti-terrorism" (read actions against the poor who rise up) and "oil research" while diminishing the public school system, remaking America into a system of jobs that barely - if at all - pay living wages and permit health care. And that's just the start of a heapload of evidence.

Warning: Personal Ad

    Compassionate but often sadly misunderstood and soon-to-be-divorced radio commentator seeks female (preferably already married, like my last - and third - wife), for serious relationship. No drugs allowed (I don't want you in my stash!) unless I send you out to a parking lot to buy them for me. You should accept me as smart, svelte, funny, God's personal messenger, and very progressive (blacks, Jews, and Latinos can't help it if they're genetically inferior). Also, you should be considerably younger than me and at least 150 lbs lighter, with proof that you're Caucasian and never voted for a commie Demoncrat. Also be willing to sign a considerable non-disclosure agreement and a 450-page prenuptual agreement that entitles you to nothing even if you're my personal doormat for a decade or more. Send photo and bio to the Rush Limbaugh Show, Palm Beach, FL. Trust me, you won't find a better man! Oh yes, and I'm very modest,too.

President Screws 50 Million Consumers to Satisfy Big Donors

From the Misleader:

As president, George W. Bush is charged with protecting consumers from being bilked. But yesterday, the president decided to side with four major campaign contributors against 50 million American consumers in a court case that could force serious increases in phone bills all over the country.

As the New York Times reports, the president sided with four large telecommunications companies in a federal court case about consumer protections. Instead of defending government regulations that prevent price gouging on phone bills, the White House and its Solicitor General, Ted Olson, opted to drop out of the case. The decision by the president "substantially reduces the chances that the Supreme Court will accept the appeal" and rule in consumers' favor. The decision could affect 50 million customers nationwide.

The president and the Solicitor General have a substantial interest in helping the four companies who benefit from their decision. The four companies have given the Bush-Cheney campaign more than $173,000 since 2000: Verizon has contributed more than $85,000 to the Bush campaign, BellSouth more than $44,000, U.S. West/Qwest more than $34,000, and SBC Communications more than $10,000.Meanwhile, Olson was previously a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher - a law firm that represents telecommunications companies.

The Medically Uninsured: A Problem We Cannot Afford to Ignore

This is a draft of a column by former Vermont governor, Howard Dean, who did a great deal for the citizens here in Vermont on this score.

We should listen (so to speak). Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.

Army Investigating Deaths of 127 Iraqi and Afghan Prisoners

The numbers just get worse and worse. We scream loudly and appropriately when our soldiers and contractors are treated badly, while Bush and company play fast and loose with treaties, the Geneva Convention, rhetoric, and the lives of people whom we will never know by name.

Also comes word that despite strict rules to the contrary, we indeed have hired contractors for roles like interrogation. That's not really news. We knew it. But BushCo kept denying it.

The truth is deathly relative with this bunch.

Iraq Situation Deteriorating Faster than Rush Limbaugh's Oxycontin Supply

From AFP via Yahoo:

A Lebanese and two Iraqi employees of a foreign company meanwhile became the latest victims among foreigners working in Iraq and locals employed by foreign firms who have been prime targets.

Insurgents cut the throats of the three employees of a telecommunications firm kidnapped Thursday on a road near Fallujah, a Lebanese diplomat said.

"Hussein Olayyan, from south Lebanon, and two Iraqis working for a telecommunications company disappeared Thursday in the area around Fallujah," said charge d'affaires Hassan Hijazi.

On the other hand, seven Turkish construction workers kidnapped a couple of days ago around the same area were released and were on their way home, the Turkish embassy in Baghdad said.

The Washington Post reported that US Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top US military commander in Iraq, had approved letting senior officials at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison use high-pressure tactics to extract information from detainees.

They included "military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, sensory deprivation and diets of bread and water on detainees whenever they wished," the Post said, citing US government documents.

Feds Warn of Possible Ecoterrorism

Oh wait... this time, they actually don't mean those acts committed by the Bush Administration. Calling Mr. Bush the Environmental president is like saying polycarbons are good for you and that melted lead and plastic makes a lovely snack for your kids.

How Much Trouble Do You Think...

...I'd be in if I sent my copy of Sissela Bok's "Moral Choice in Public and Private Life" to the White House?

I mean, I know there are big words and no pictures, but Condi could read it to him. In fact, she could stand to read it herself and perhaps John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld could sit in.

Death Without the Pageantry or Heraldic Sound Track

From CNN:

An Iraqi deputy minister was gunned down today in a drive-by ambush in front of his Baghdad home. The murder of Bassam Salih Kubba, one of four deputy foreign ministers, comes less than a week after another deputy minister survived an attack at his home.

Also, in Saudi Arabia, another American has been shot dead.

Wouldn't you just love to have to raise your children there? That's a rhetorical question, btw.


Something Seems a Bit Odd Here

[Ed: No, I don't mean just in my office, but that's pretty odd, too.]

Someone posted a link on Max's site, under comments from the link I provided in the previous post, which seems really odd. First, I can't say I've heard of the World Tribune. Second, the site doesn't look highly professional and third, they link the the Sludge Drudge Report and the Washington Times.

When you look at the start of the article there (no byline), it's even stanger:

The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam's missile and WMD program.

The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared.
Somebody put the Twilight Zone theme CD on!

Ed. Update: The only other place (I could locate) besides the odd World Tribune to reference this story like it's a fact from the same God who regularly talks to President Bush (I wonder if he listens to God any better than he does the American people) is Matt Drudge, who simply links you back to the weird little piece at the World Tribune. And we all know how credible Matt in the Hat is (NOT!).

"Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down That Wall (that's already collapsing all on its own without my help)!"

I'll let Max Sawicky have the intelligent last word (distinguishing it from Peggy "Loony" Noonan) on the silly notion that Reagan single handedly ended communism in our lifetimes:

This subject has been well-trampled in all sorts of forums, but I want to throw in my two cents. The claim that Reagan toppled communism makes no sense to me.

If you think communism needed an outside push to fall, you implicitly acknowledge that the system in and of itself was functional. The Right likes to say the system was rotten and it needed a push, both at the same time.

There should be little doubt that the system was functional up to a point, but not functional enough from a comparative standpoint. It did not compare well to the West in terms of material standard of living, among other deficiencies.

The notion that Reagan's defense build-up bankrupted the USSR is hard to demonstrate. You could say the build-up implied an ability to block any expansionist impulses, but the one place where such impulses were expressed in the form of overt military force was Afghanistan, where the defense build-up had little relevance. Financing the forerunners of Osama Bin Ladin was cheap. There was no compelling need for the Soviets to pursue such ventures. Soviet activities in Angola were similarly irrelevant to a defense spending contest.


Oliver Willis sums it up well:

Vladimir Putin is giving Bush campaign advice. The ability to look in people's souls notwithstanding, I don't think having an autocratic, anti-democratic, former KGB, soviet-style leader of Russia vouch for you is the best endorsement one could wish for.

Ya think?

CNN is asking the poll question whether Reagan death coverage was:

    * Too little (3% right now)
    * Too much (64%)
    * Just right (33%)
I suspect tomorrow and Sunday we'll see highlights of the funeral then on Monday, we'll start asking what his death really means.

On a sad but ironic note, NBC news tonight, after spending a good portion of the broadcast on Reagan, decided to play catchup with the names of all the soldiers who had died in the week since we were thrown into this paroxysm of grief over a man few of us have seen in a decade. There were enough names that it took a bit to cover. Compared to the 23 hours a day each day of Reagan coverage, each soldier got not even 23 seconds.

Look Up "Ethics" in the Dictionary, and You Don't See Halliburton's Logo (Really!)

Of course, I'm sure Halliburton just took this ethical slide since they lost the fatherly wonderfulness of Dick (and we do mean Dick) Cheney:

A Halliburton subsidiary is under investigation by the US stock market regulator over allegations it paid bribes for Nigerian gas contracts.

Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) and three other partner firms allegedly paid $180m (£99m) in bribes, the SEC says.

US Vice President Dick Cheney was head of oil services conglomerate Halliburton at the time.

Halliburton says it has become a political target and insists it did nothing wrong.
I always take comfort when someone who works for the president investigates someone else who works for the president. Don't you?

And on That Note

Rush reminded me of something I've been meaning to say all week.

I may have not liked Ronald Reagan or Nancy (except that I admired her loyalty to him in this last difficult decade). But one thing I was always impressed by was that they clearly had a love affair that lasted all these years. There was never any question from their body language, the way their eyes expressed themselves when gazing upon each other, that each thought the other was their soulmate.

Sadly, I don't think this occurs all that frequently. It's not just the divorce rate which is above 50%. Many, after all, fall out of love or never were in love yet remain together.

Mrs. Limbaugh Must Be Celebrating BIG Tonight (I Would)

Rush has announced he's getting a divorce. Perhaps on grounds that his wife wouldn't buy his drugs for him? Who knows.

Ah, those righteous family values.

Apparently Finished with Trying to Ruin Texas

A newly formed group of Christians wants other like-minded people to move to South Carolina, take it over, and secede from the United States. Kinda presumptuous of them, isn't it?

Coalition of the Bullied

Proving once again that President Bush's idea of democracy involves him personally hand picking every leader throughout the globe:

The White House has declared open season on Mark Latham. One by one, from George Bush to Richard Armitage (that's the no-neck bloke built like a brick dunny) and now to Armitage's boss, Colin Powell (or semi-colon, as John Button calls him), the Bush Administration made it obvious this week it does not want Latham as prime minister if he will not adopt John Howard's - i.e., George Bush's - Iraq policies. We know this because the "Reverend" Paul Kelly, at his ecumenical, thundering best, has told us very frankly so in his master's national newspaper, the Murdoch daily, The Australian. Hallelujah, the word cometh!

What that word was appeared in last weekend's edition after Kelly's junior colleague, Steve Lewis, asked, with Howard's help, the question that incited Bush to declare as "disastrous" Latham's pledge to bring home by Christmas Australia's handful of 250 military people actually in Iraq, plus another 210 based outside Iraq's borders, thus leaving US forces of "about 140,000" (according to Howard) to struggle on without them. Intoned Kelly in his analysis: "George W. Bush has put it on the line - Australia's alliance with the US will be compromised with Mark Latham in the Lodge. Bush's declaration was predictable ... but still dramatic. It confirms not just that Bush and Latham cannot co-operate on Iraq but that Latham's policy is viewed with hostility in Washington..."
Six more months of Bush's presidency and the only friend the US will have left is Libyan nutcase Qaddafi.

Oliver North on Why He Didn't Attend Reagan's Funeral

After reading this story in the Sydney Morning Herald, I don't know whether to wipe away a tear or recommend he try some anti-psychotic medication:

Oliver North, the decorated marine who personified the Iran-Contra scandal with his ramrod-straight testimony to Congress, made a final sacrifice for his former boss: He did not attend former president Reagan's funeral.

Recalling words he had on Wednesday with the former national security adviser and Reagan confidant William Clark, North said: "I told him I did not think I should be a distraction at this, and if I went, I would be.

"Every doggone camera in the place would be shooting pictures of me instead of paying attention to what was going on," North said.

The host of the Fox News Channel program War Stories with Oliver North said he was sure the media would have tried to make something out of his presence if he had turned up at the Washington National Cathedral.

"I had the national press corps camped on my front lawn for nine straight months" during Iran-Contra, said North, who was a national security aide in the Reagan White House. "And that's not what this is about."

"I revere Ronald Reagan. I certainly spent plenty of time with him in the past and I know I'll be with him in the future. Those of us who know where we are going, and know why we are going there, have no doubt that he is now in that shining city on a hill."
One thing's clear: Ollie's spending way too much time around Bill (yes, the universe really does revolve around me) O'Reilly.

BTW, that's not violin music you hear in the background. That's the sound of my self-righteous retching.

New Poll, More Links

There is a new poll up on the right side of the screen, as well as some additional links. You'll also see final percentage results from last week's poll.

Thanks to everyone who participated. We're seeing slow but steady growth in readership.

Have a good weekend, and don't forget Dad's Day on Sunday.

And Still They Go

You'd think live coverage of Mr. Reagan's funeral would end when his casket was loaded on the plane and Nancy waved goodbye on the top steps.


For example, NBC/MSNBC now has brought in Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert - greater analytic minds being not hard to find - to rehash the same damned stories we've heard everyday for seven days.

My guess? This is cheaper than covering news.

More Halliburton Tapes and a Look at the Demon DeLay

The ever industrious Skippy brings us two items of note:

    * More Enron tapes, including ones that detail a desire to bankrupt California through energy rates (really, these people had no shame)
    * A note that Bill Moyers on "Now" tonight on PBS will be looking at the Tom DeLay (R-Skank) corruption investigation

What the Press Missed in Woodward's Plan of Attack

From Editor & Publisher magazine:

So what has the media missed in the massive coverage of Bob Woodward's best-selling book "Plan of Attack?"

"National intelligence assets spying on Hans Blix,'' Woodward told the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, referring to the chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq. ''And Bush was getting these reports and felt that there was incongruity between what Blix was saying publicly and what he was actually doing. It makes it very clear we were wiretapping Hans Blix.''

Woodward, of The Washington Post, also charged that the press should have been more "skeptical and inquisitive" about President Bush's rush to war with Iraq and the dubious intelligence he and others used to justify the invasion. He blamed journalists, including himself, for not being aggressive enough in questioning the intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Woodward said one national security source told him the ''the intelligence was skimpy.''


Not only were both Clintons at the Reagan funeral - ones news commentary said it wasn't that the Dems weren't invited, it was just that they were excluded from any real participation - but Fox News is debating whether both Hillary and Bill were asleep. I think they were actually praying, and many do that with their eyes closed (unlike Tom DeLay, who does it with his hands in your pocket).

The amazing thing is that now that the funeral is over, they're still covering everything live. Oops, there's one more amazing thing: Bush the Father's Texas accent is getting more and more pronounced. Why, who knows? Maybe it's what happens when you spend six months a year in Maine. Now they're discussing how Reagan used to bring acorns back from Camp David to feed to the White House squirrels (I'm assuming they mean wildlife and not both the press and WereWolfowitz).

Enough already! There is real news, forgotten for nearly a full week now. Like al Sadr's forces capturing the police station in Najaf.

"Cooking the Books on Terror"

From Joe Conason's column in Salon today:

Did the Bush administration manipulate statistics to exaggerate the president's success in the war on terrorism? For George W. Bush, the public perception that he can protect the nation from terrorists is among his last remaining strengths in recent polls that show him losing the confidence of most voters -- and the White House is naturally determined to preserve that advantage. Now administration officials are admitting that an official government report, which featured data showing a remarkable decline in terror since 2001, is marred by bad numbers and inaccurate conclusions.

Nobody has confessed to massaging the numbers for political gain, and nobody ever will. But under pressure from congressional and academic critics, administration officials announced Thursday that substantial errors marred the accuracy of the State Department's report on terrorist incidents and perpetrators -- and that its hyped conclusions must be substantially revised.

Under a mandate from Congress, the State Department issues an annual report titled "Patterns of Global Terrorism" that is widely regarded as authoritative by diplomats and experts. Although the report's interpretations have always been subject to argument over the past two decades, particularly in its designation of "state sponsors of terrorism," the underlying facts cited in its pages have rarely been disputed.

Army Withholds Chemical Attack Antidote

Can't have those first responders not sacrificed, you know:

Despite the interest of emergency officials, the government is refusing to provide U.S. communities an antidote controlled by the Army and stockpiled by other countries to treat victims of a chemical terror attack.

The product, Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion, was developed by the Canadian military years ago, won Food and Drug Administration approval in 2003 and is sold in other NATO countries for neutralizing sarin, mustard gas and other chemical agents.

It is being tested by the Army. But the companies that make it aren't permitted to sell it or even advertise it to state and local governments in the United States.

"Right now they have no product to decontaminate people other than soap and water," said Phil O'Dell, president of O'Dell Engineering, a Canadian-based company licensed by the Canadian government to sell the lotion. "There is only one FDA-approved. It's the RSDL. These first responders correctly have been trying to buy RSDL since FDA approval."

Conditions Didn't Merit War with Iraq

From the AP via Salon:

    A majority of American registered voters now say conditions in Iraq did not merit war, but most are reluctant to abandon efforts there, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll.

    Voters are increasingly concerned that Iraq is a quagmire America cannot escape, and they are doubtful that a democratic government will be established there, according to the poll published in Friday editions of the Times.

    Fifty-three percent of respondents said the situation in Iraq did not merit war, while 43 percent said war was justified. When the same question was asked for Times polls in March and November, the numbers were precisely reversed.

    But less than 20 percent said America should withdraw its troops within weeks, and 25 percent said the U.S. should set a deadline for pulling out.

Paul Krugman

Paul has another excellent column up today in which he not only does battle with Reagan revisionism (Reagan did do some good things but really, he didn't walk on water), and explains more about the economics of the 1980s.

Bush Going Down? Not Sure on That

Unable to sleep, I have been up since very early reading various papers and blogs around the world, where a message by some (such as Times New Roman in Canada and some of the UK press) indicating that Bush and his administration really are on their way out.

They point to Tony Blair's Labour Party coming in a distinct third in super-Thursday polls yesterday, distinctly hurt by the war in Iraq, to the desperation shown by turning Ronald Reagan into a much greater symbol than he really was (Reagan enjoyed far better poll numbers after he left office) so that Bush can ride his coattails into November, and the failures by the neocons to predict accurately what a mess Iraq could become.

As much as I would like to wave goodbye to Bush and friends, I'm just not certain what we're seeing here is a swan song. I say this first because there are lots of weeks between now and November 2nd. Literally anything could happen and change the results strongly in Bush's favor. Secondary to that, the American people have shown a dazzling capacity to let Mr. Bush off easy on what many of us consider truly to be high crimes and misdemeanors (unlike Clinton and the blue dress).

However, I'm also not stunningly convinced that John Kerry can pull it off. In some respects, he's not wildly different on some issues than Bush himself. Kerry has not distinguished himself today in the way he did post-Vietnam. Name lots of other times when Dems would have even given lip service to having a GOPer like McCain considered as a VP running mate for a Dem candidate.

As someone who right now would prefer to vote for Kerry over Bush, I have difficulty understanding some of Kerry's positions. I get the impression he's being way too careful to appeal to the right side of the aisle that probably won't vote for him anyway. While I don't expect him to embrace the more progressive thoughts I do, I feel sometimes like he's either dead center or slightly to the right of center (although Bush is waaaaay over there on the far right). I'm not jumping up and down with keenness over the top VP choices either.

If I'm having this difficulty, what does that mean for people who might have voted for Bush had he not screwed things up so royally? Can they, will they embrace John Kerry?

I don't know... and it's getting a little close to the general election, and quite far down the wrongheaded path of George Bush it seems, to have such doubts.

Just hoping - even praying - for the best doesn't give me much comfort.


National Day of Mourning

Today, Mr. Bush has chosen to close down all federal offices to pay tribute to Ronald Reagan. Strange, in a way, that he chose to do this today when fed employees based in or near Washington DC will already be too late - should they choose - to pay respects at the Rotunda.

But I don't think Mr. Bush was looking for anything substantive here.

I don't happen to feel that Mr. Reagan requires a day of mourning. He lived a long, good life filled with privilege.

So today, I'll mourn those who have died on both sides of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, those who became accidental war victims like Daniel Pearl and Nicholas (Nick) Berg, and other unwitting victims of some of the policies both Mr. Reagan and especially Mr. Bush put in place during their presidencies.

For example, I'll mourn too for those who died because Mr. Reagan would not admit the AIDS epidemic and those who died because of his policies in Central and South America. I'll mourn for those who died in the anthrax scare while our leaders ran from Washington and hid.

And I'll mourn for those who were not chosen to benefit from the administrations of these two privileged men and those who might have been saved by the stem cell research Mr. Bush quashed in 2001.

Finally, I'll mourn for the ideals America had that have been so badly abused especially in the last four years. Who would have thought that America would sign off on torture, on more unjustified wars, and on allowing our civil liberties to be so curtailed. And I'll mourn for the Democrats who became too afraid to speak up, speak out when partisan politics began to reduce the values of this country. And I'll mourn for God in whose name such shameful actions have been perpetrated. I doubt God, after all, would want much to do with American politics.

Taliban Considered At Fault in Killing of 11 Chinese Workers

The US says the Taliban is guilty for the execution of 11 Chinese workers in Afghanistan this week.

You remember the Taliban, right? The ones "we drove from power" by spending many billions of dollars each week bombing the hell out of a 3rd world country. In fact, Mr. Bush keeps telling us the Taliban was defeated.

Yet do you know most women in Afghanistan fear going to school or work again because of the Taliban? Or that the Taliban controls every part of the country not run by vicious warlords?

You know, those Taliban. The ones who aren't there anymore according to BushCo.


Dems Excluded from State (Taxpayer-Paid) Funeral for Reagan

Via Skippy and a couple of other discussion outlets comes word that former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, along with other distinguished and high-ranking Democrats, are being deliberately excluded from being able to attend Ronald Reagan's funeral tomorrow.

Were the funeral paid for privately, that's all fine and good.

But we the taxpayers are picking up the cost of the most elaborate state funeral ever (security concerns, et al, make this far more expensive, even when comparing '63 prices to '04 prices, than JFK's). That makes it improper and (I believe) illegal to exclude anyone but preferred Republicans.

This is how Washington operates under BushCo.

On the Coattails of a Dead Man

From The Whiskey Bar (Billmon):

Capitol Hill Blue, an interesting little web site that covers politics and government in, and from, Washington, takes a look at the Bush campaign's plans to turn the electronic ghost of Ronald Reagan into the third man on the Republican Party ticket:

    The ads, ordered up by Bush political advisor Karl Rove immediately after Reagan’s death last Saturday, use images of Reagan and excerpts from his speeches in what one angry GOP conservative describes as a “callous attempt to tie George W. Bush to the legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan.”

    One proposed ad even goes so far as to show Reagan saying “George, go out and win one for the Gipper.” The clip comes from Reagan’s speech to the 1988 Republican National Convention where the former President’s request was to Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, in his successful 1988 run for President.
One failed George deserves another, I guess.
However, while Capitol Hill Blues isn't the only source of this information (I've seen it discussed elsewhere, including on TV one evening), Billmon goes on to add that the source for this information may not be a good one, noting:
Fortunately (because I'd like to make it to November without a state of emergency or a nuclear war) the credibility of Capitol Hill Blue founder and editor Doug Thompson - who has the byline on the Bush-is-nuts story - is somewhat suspect.
Is such a thing beyond Rove? In my opinion, sadly, nothing is above or beyond Karl Rove.

Stem Cell Research (again)

Won't it be interesting if Nancy Reagan makes an issue out of stem cell research at a time when even Stepford Laura came out yesterday insisting we couldn't have stem cell research?

I don't think Nancy has any undying love for the Bushies. So we'll have to see whether her desire to see stem cell research proceed can beat out the GOP's desire to use her to elect Bush in November. This could be a pivotal time and this is one time I'd back Nancy whole-heartedly if she drew a line in the sand. Bush could use some sand in his diet anyway.

Evening News Keeps Reshowing Bush at Casket

Such pageantry. Such a pile of bu--shit.

Who Do You Suppose the State Dept Blames for the Wrong Info in Terror Rate Report?

Pick from:

    a. CIA
    b. CIA
    c. CIA
    d. CIA
If you said they blamed the CIA, you're a genius! We're very impressed with your powers of deduction (and know you did not simply choose CIA because BushCo has blamed the CIA for everything else, including Bush's falls off the Segway and the bicycle).

Good night, Ray Charles

Rest in peace and thanks for all the great listening pleasure.

Can the White House Get More Juvenile About Reagan

("It's OUR party," referring to Reagan's funeral. Sheesh.)

From Wonkette:

A Wonkette judicial branch operative provides further proof that life on the Hill is like a big elementary school" (this is in addition to the temper tantrums and name-calling):

    I just got word from one of my friends who is a Hill staffer that they will be allowed to cut in line to view Reagan's casket in the Rotunda. The House-wide email says that they'll be allowed to "merge" (i.e., cut) in line with the general masses who've been waiting in line for hours in the D.C. heat.

    When I complained that executive branch workers (i.e., me) should be allowed first dibs on cutting, as Reagan served in my branch, not theirs, I was curtly told, "It's our party, not yours."
And if you don't like it, they'll take their corpse and go home! No, seriously: It's great that the staffers are going to be able to get to the casket quickly, because if they take too long to get there, he might not still be dead.

Report Saying Terrorist Attacks Are Down is WRONG

Just six weeks after releasing a report that said terrorist attacks throughout the world is considerably down since Mr. Bush launched the War on Terror, the same group notes now that the report must be corrected. In fact, terrorist attacks are up significantly - perhaps as much as 20% - since Mr. Bush's "war on terra" began.

(The only thing Mr. Bush ever gets right is the side of his politics.)

"W" Stands for Women? More Bu--shit!

There goes my blood pressure again:

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign just launched a new ad campaign aimed at securing women's votes in the upcoming election called "W Stands for Women".

The hypocrisy of this move is outrageous! While "W" does stand for a lot of things, women's rights is not one of them! George W. Bush has waged an all-out war on women's health and rights ever since he took office nearly four years ago.

Join us in speaking out against this - sign our petition below to Bush's campaign manager, Ken Mehlman.
Thanks to Buzzflash for bringing this to our attention; I had missed this horrible new ad.

"W" Stands for Women? More Bush--it!

There goes my blood pressure again:

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign just launched a new ad campaign aimed at securing women's votes in the upcoming election called "W Stands for Women".

The hypocrisy of this move is outrageous! While "W" does stand for a lot of things, women's rights is not one of them! George W. Bush has waged an all-out war on women's health and rights ever since he took office nearly four years ago.

Join us in speaking out against this - sign our petition below to Bush's campaign manager, Ken Mehlman.
Thanks to Buzzflash for bringing this to our attention; I had missed this horrible new ad.

Now That's a Big Poll Lead for John Kerry

Also via Atrios comes word of the results of a Los Angeles Times poll showing John Kerry ahead of George W. Reagan 54-35%. The link wouldn't open for me but I was wondering if this poll was taken during the time since Reagan's death was announced.

Surprise: Baghdad, Colorado

From Atrios comes this story from The Denver Channel (lucky Denver to have such an honor bestowed upon them by BushCo by total surprise):

Denver officials say the White House prematurely announced that Denver was adopting Baghdad as a sister city.

City officials and members of the Denver Regional Council of Governments were caught off-guard by a news release announcing the partnership Wednesday.

The White House promised that Denver -- which faces a possible $33 million budget shortfall in 2005 -- will give Baghdad "humanitarian assistance" and "other aid initiatives."

But Denver area officials say no vote was taken on the proposal.
Watch out that the White House doesn't nominate your household to take care of Fallujah or Nejaf!

Giving the Hell to Halliburton

Eli Pariser from MoveOn.org is looking for your help with a new ad campaign they are trying to launch:

Revelations regarding Halliburton's unethical and at times illegal behavior continue to pop up at a regular pace. But perhaps more worrisome are indications that the Bush administration isn't just turning a blind eye to Halliburton's corrupt business practices -- it's actively helping the company along. For example, Time Magazine exposed last week that newly disclosed internal Pentagon emails suggest that the office of Vice President Dick Cheney was instrumental in sealing an $18 BILLION no-bid contract for the Vice President's former company (4).

Nor does Halliburton's track record end at fraud. In a Pentagon audit, Halliburton was warned that its food service facilities which serve our troops in Iraq were dangerously unsanitary, with "blood all over the floor" of its kitchens, "dirty pans," and "rotting meats ... and vegetables." (5) As Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) put it, Halliburton is ultimately "a company that arrogantly is overcharging when they can get away with it and not providing the quality of service that they agreed to do." (6)

Vice President Dick Cheney still holds hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of stock options in the company.(7) So it's hardly surprising that the Administration's response has been anemic, even when faced with clear evidence that the company is bilking taxpayers.

That's why we need to get this ad on the air. Can you contribute to make that happen? Go here.

The Reagan Melodrama Continues

For the sixth day straight, almost everything else is on the shelf while the mainstream media does nothing but cover President Reagan's death.

Today, for example, Dep. Defense Secretary (and snake oil salesman chickenhawk) Paul Wolfowitz made sure he was photographed in the rotunda where Mr. Reagan's body lies in state, with a young soldier (missing both forearms) saluting the casket.

It doesn't take a Democrat, a cynic, a critic, or even someone opposed to this administration to notice how all of this is being played like a non-stop campaign commercial for Mr. Bush. But I am beyond outraged that they pulled this wounded soldier out for Mr. Wolfowitz's backdrop.

Look closely at what is going on, then ask yourself, "Is there anything that you can put past these people?" The answer, sadly, is probably not.

G8 Summit, CNN, and Big Assumptions

I happened to turn on the TV while I chowed down on a cup of yogurt for lunch only to catch a rather breathless, excited Gary Tuchman on CNN talking about how demonstrators have managed to get near the site of the summit.

That's cool. At least until I heard him announce that these people were very serious anarchists, angry, and very dangerous. But nothing in the reporting I heard (and granted, I only stuck around for the time it takes to consume 8 ounces of yogurt) indicated he had any basis for announcing these were anarchists, very angry, or dangerous. Not one single fact seemed available to make this statement.

Lots of people every year try to get close enough to these summits to get their voices heard. The people who get hurt (and killed) are usually the demonstrators. More and more, the world's leaders are kept farther and farther away from the peons they purportedly represent. Most of the angry and dangerous people I've seen have been the police forces who have done some outrageous things, resulting in unnecessary deaths.

A Plunge from the Moral Heights

From Richard Cohen in The Washington Post today:

The recent revelations that the Justice Department prepared memos parsing what is and what is not torture brings to mind regimes that, well, I would rather not bring to mind. These are the torturers of the world, although they deny it, and to bolster their lie they produce copious laws against the practice.

Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose Justice Department prepared the memos -- one of them running to 50 pages and signed by Jay S. Bybee, then head of the Office of Legal Counsel -- assured the Senate the other day that the memos are of no consequence. They were only internal Justice Department stuff, the scribblings of lawyers and -- most important -- the president has not "directed or ordered" torture, Ashcroft said. In another administration, such an assurance would be enough for me, but given this one's cavalier approach to civil liberties, I have to note that "directed" or "ordered" is not the same as condoned. That's what I wonder about.

I wonder, too, why the much-pressed Justice Department -- all those news releases to get out extolling Ashcroft -- went to all the trouble of coming up with definitions of torture that might be permissible under U.S. law when no one was supposedly considering torturing al Qaeda prisoners in the first place. A 50-page memo is not an hour's work. It's clear someone had torture in mind. The Defense Department and the CIA were looking for guidance.

In a way, you can understand why. The memos followed -- sometimes by more than a year -- the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. What if the CIA got its hands on a terrorist who it thought might have information about coming attacks? What should it do? What could it do? Could it, say, torture the guy a little bit -- not too much, mind you -- so he would cough up the information? In one of the memos leaked to The Post, the Justice Department said yes, precisely -- torture, but only a bit. "For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture, it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years." This is a very odd -- shall we say "tortured" -- definition.

My dictionary, compiled by lexicographers and not, thank God, by lawyers, knows precisely what torture is. "To bring great physical or mental pain upon another," is one of several definitions. Simple. Had the CIA or the Pentagon turned to a Boy Scout troop or a gathering of Future Farmers of America, they would have said something similar. They also might say that, given human nature, it is as preposterous to talk about a little bit of torture as it is to talk about a little bit pregnant. This sort of stuff isn't possible to contain, and before you know it, a little torture is a lot of torture -- and who's to say at the moment whether the psychological "harm" cited in the memo is going to last a week or a lifetime? A little bit of torture can go a long, long way.

The Bush administration constantly reminds us that there's a war on. That's wrong. There are two. One is being fought by soldiers in combat, and the other is being fought for the hearts and minds of people who are not yet our enemies. However badly the administration has botched the first war -- where, oh where, is Osama bin Laden? -- it has done even worse with the second. It has jutted its chin to the world, appeared pugnacious and unilateralist, permitted the abuse of POWs and others at Abu Ghraib, and now toyed in some fashion with torture. The Bush administration has shamed us all, reducing us to the level of those governments that also have wonderful laws forbidding torture, but condone it anyway.

Venus Chasing Across Sun

Local photographer and amateur astronomer Chip Taylor in Cabot (next door to my little digs) took this picture of Venus crossing over the Sun at 6 AM EDT Tuesday morning (as published in the Times Argus).

Lt. Gen Ricardo Sanchez Asks to Be Recused in Abuse Probe

In what seems like the right thing to to:

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq has asked to be removed from any role in reviewing the results of an investigation into prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez requested that a higher-ranking general be appointed to assume that responsibility, the officials said.

Qaddafi Was "Definitely" Reformed by Bush; You can Tell

Oops, one more thing:

As noted above, you can tell Qaddafi was shown the great light of reform by George Bush when you read the front page of today's New York Times:

While the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was renouncing terrorism and negotiating the lifting of sanctions last year, his intelligence chiefs ordered a covert operation to assassinate the ruler of Saudi Arabia and destabilize the oil-rich kingdom, according to statements by two participants in the conspiracy.
Sounds like just the kind of reform one can expect from King George.

On Becoming Clitorate

You know it's time for bed when Conan O'Brien ends his show with a sex expert (Mamma Gina) who tells everyone she wants to make them "clitorate" and to explore the landscape of the vulva.

O'Brien seemed shocked and awed and would not - at her behest - touch a finger to the vulva puppet mockup.

Alas, I'm destined to go to bed without become clitorate myself. I'm not sure what that would even involve, but it sounds far too breathy for late on a Wednesday night. Grin.

You have a good night, all.

Bush: Trying to Claim Reagan as His Father

I don't always agree with Maureen Dowd of The Times. But her column for today (6-10) makes sense:

Sometimes I feel as if I'm watching a nation mourn. And sometimes I feel as if I'm watching a paternity suit.

At every opportunity, as the extraordinary procession solemnly wended its way from California to the Capitol, W. was peeping out from behind the majestic Reagan mantle, trying to claim the Gipper as his true political father.

Finally, there's a flag-draped coffin and military funeral that President Bush wants to be associated with, and wants us to see. (It's amazing they could find enough soldiers, given Rummy's depletion of the military.)

"His heart belongs to Reagan," Ken Duberstein declared about Mr. Bush on CNN, in a riff on the old Cole Porter ditty "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." W. "is that bold-stroked primary-colors leader that—— somebody who has this big vision and wants to stick to it." (Well, the two presidents do share a middle initial.)

The Bush-Cheney re-election Web site was totally given over to a Reagan tribute, with selected speeches, including "Empire of Ideals" — too bad we didn't just stick to ideals — and "The Boys of Pointe du Hoc," President Reagan's 1984 Normandy speech, played so often last Sunday that it eclipsed W. at Normandy.

Bush hawks were visibly relieved to be on TV answering questions that had nothing to do with prison torture, phantom W.M.D. or our new C.I.A.-operative-turned-prime-minister in Iraq. What a glorious respite to extol a strong, popular, visionary Republican president who spurred democracy in a big backward chunk of the world — even if it isn't W., and it's the Soviet bloc and not the Middle East.

Showing they haven't lost their taste for hype, some Bushies revved up the theme that Son of Bush was really Son of Reagan.

Never mind that back in 1989, the deferential Bush père couldn't wait to escape the Gipper's Brobdingnagian shadow. Though he liked Ronald Reagan, 41 had a secret disdain for 40's White House. He was dismayed by the way media wizards treated the president like a prop and the Oval Office like an M.G.M. set. He and Barbara, who divide the world into peers and "the help," also hated being treated like "the help" by the Reagans, who did not have them upstairs at the residence for dinner and who did not always thank them for presents...

The Bush crowd's attempt to wrap themselves in Reagan could go only so far. While Laura Bush and Donald Rumsfeld shared memories of fathers who had suffered from Alzheimer's, Mrs. Bush said she could not support Mrs. Reagan's plea to remove the absurd and suffocating restrictions on stem cell research.

Whether he was right or wrong, Ronald Reagan was exhilarating. Whether he is right or wrong, George W. Bush is a bummer.


US Accounts for Half the World's Military Spending

Of the nearly $100 billion spent throughout the world for military defense (and offense), almost 50% of that spending comes from just one single country: US.

Keep that in mind. I don't think your immediate reaction should be, "Wow, that's great" either.

From the Mailbag

I received an Email tonight from someone who read the site and took great umbrage at some of the comments about Mr. Reagan. He's dead, the writer said, and deserves far more respect than I'm offering, a poor man who suffered so long with Alzheimer's and is no longer there to defend himself.

I'll buy that his Alzheimer's was a very sad situation, although probably more for his caretakers as well as those who loved him.

But Mr. Reagan chose to run for the highest office in the country, and he chose what policies he supported. We weren't supposed to question him while he was in office, we weren't supposed to question him after he left office, and now,apparently, some would prefer we not bring up unpleasant truths now that he has passed.

As I've said far too many times, patriotism doesn't mean wrapping your brain and mouth in duct tape and just nodding dumbly at what our leaders do. The original patriots did anything but that.

For various reasons, Mr. Reagan was always given a free ride. But accurate history - as opposed to the great myths being perpetrated now - should not be so kind.

The Last Words of Ronald Reagan

A piece of Spam seems to be running about the last couple of days, with a link - but no identifying information - allowing you to read the last words of the former president.

Now, I don't go to sites that don't identify themselves, so I've found myself wondering what his last words may have been (I mean, considering he was 93 and in end-stage Alzheimer's).

Could it be....

    When you finally kick Jr. Bush's butt out of the White House, give 'im one for the Gipper.

    I think I did the right thing ignoring AIDS.

    I supported Saddam when I was president, and I'd still support him today. Noriega, too.

    I know you people all thought I was one of you, but the truth is... heh... heh... I'm richer than God. Oh yeah, and the red hair is still natural.

    The Bushes always were a low-class, whiny bunch. Why do you think we never invited 'em over? I mean, they knew what I did for drugs by starting Nancy's "Just Say No" program, yet Jr. was scoring cocaine during his daddy's inauguration.

    Can't do anything to me now about Iran-Contra, can you? Heh.

    Go away now, Mommy's gonna read to me again.

US Deliberately Tried to Hide News of Abu Ghraib

That's the word from Human Rights Watch.

I know. You're as deeply and profoundly surprised as I am.

Man Gets Three Years for Cuban Cigars

The War on Terrorism must be going great if Mr. Ashcroft has time to go after those who smuggle in Cuban cigars. Mind you, The Arnold smokes them, and any number of rich and important people over the years have pulled them out to impress guests.

A friend twenty years ago was an au pair-sorta for a ranking Republican NYS legislator and while he railed against the evils of bringing pot into the country, this guy supposedly had a special room in which he stored Cuban cigars which he had smuggled in and sold to others as a nice side business. My friend said he used to laugh that he'd lose tens of thousands a year in tax free income if anybody ever actually got Castro out of office.

Just Imagine

For five days, for almost every hour of each day, and for at least two days more, the news has been replaced with nothing but Reagan. And the memories are all the good ones, with little mention about his policies in central America that results in so many deaths, his patronage of Saddam Hussein at a time when Saddam committed some of his worst atrocities (and the very ones BushCo used as an excuse to attack Iraq), his patronage of Noriega, his ignorange of AIDS until it grew into an epidemic... and that's just the start.

But just imagine if the energy being used right now to dig up and repeat this one-sided presentaton had been used to understand the 2000 Election, the real facts behind 9/11, analyzing why BushCo fought so hard to curtail any indepth investigation of it, our attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, and more recently, the torture issue.

We might know a LOT more.

But we don't. Instead, we get this crap.

Climate Change and Mr. Bush

I just got mail from the folks at MoveOn asking me (all of us) to do something to get Bush moving on climate change. However, I have the eerie feeling any such exchange would go like this:
Citizen: Mr. President, we seriously need to do something to address climate change."

Bush: So? Turn the damned air conditioner on high. That's what I do."

Shaking head. Muttering expletives.

But let me give you the gist of it anyway:

The Senate will soon consider a bill sponsored by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman that would commit the United States to taking concrete actions to reduce global warming. You can help by signing our petition supporting the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, at:


The Senate is expected to vote on this bill within the next two weeks, and your Senators need to hear that you care. Our petition carries a powerful message to President Bush and members of Congress -- that we can't wait any longer to take action.

CT Impeachment Hearings Underway

And GOP Governor John Rowland, good friend to the Bush family, refuses to give testimony about his endless string of perks he received.

Remember Cheney's Secret Bunker?

Consider the undisclosed location disclosed.

In the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney hid out at "Site R," an underground bunker seven miles from Camp David, deep beneath Raven Rock Mountain on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, says intelligence expert James Bamford in a new book due out tomorrow.

In "A Pretext for War," Bamford describes Cheney's secure location as "a secret world of five buildings, each three stories tall, computer-filled caverns and a subterranean water reservoir," according to a review in the June 14 issue of Time magazine.

In his 432-page book, Bamford slams the CIA for failing to detect the growing threat from hard-line Islamic fundamentalists in the late 1990s.

Bamford lambastes the agency's slapdash efforts against Osama bin Laden in particular, claiming that the CIA "never once tried to infiltrate" the Saudi terrorist's operation.

He also suggests that senior CIA officials suspected the Bush administration's evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was shaky.

Times: Torture Ordered from the Top Down to the Troops

From today's Op/Ed page:

In response to the outrages at Abu Ghraib, the Bush administration has repeatedly assured Americans that the president and his top officials did not say or do anything that could possibly be seen as approving the abuse or outright torture of prisoners. But disturbing disclosures keep coming. This week it's a legal argument by government lawyers who said the president was not bound by laws or treaties prohibiting torture.

Each new revelation makes it more clear that the inhumanity at Abu Ghraib grew out of a morally dubious culture of legal expediency and a disregard for normal behavior fostered at the top of this administration. It is part of the price the nation must pay for President Bush's decision to take the extraordinary mandate to fight terrorism that he was granted by a grieving nation after 9/11 and apply it without justification to Iraq.

Scientific American: White House Bends Science To Fit Politics

What a surprise!

Rhetorical Question

But how is it that Bush has private reasons for not attending the funeral of even one service person who has died in either of the wars he called, but he can lightning-quick arrange to speak at former President Reagan's funeral?

The only answer to this can be that Bush sees political use in being front and center for Mr. Reagan's seemingly week long funeral, whereas attending the funeral of a fallen soldier would point out something negative.

And shouldn't the families of those who have died be outraged? Without a family member dead in this war, I'm blown away by this.


If Patience is a Virtue, I Fail This Category

After waiting a week for my CT scan to determine the nature of one and possibly two masses in my lung, then close to an additional week to get the results, I learned today that a problem is going to keep me from knowing the actual results for at least an additional week. Ouch!

While I'm sure the actual results will turn out to be nothing, I'm losing the "put a good face on" measure to the test of time. The secondary results so far have been: several holes I've kicked into things, I'm up to a 2 pack of bubblegum a day habit, the dog is getting tired of being brushed every two hours, and I keep staring at the few bottles of alcohol on our bar wishing alcohol didn't make me so depressed (otherwise, there would be no bottles of alcohol on my bar.

The Reagan Rename Game

The formaldehyde hasn't even settled in the late president's body yet, and already there are four different proposals in place on Capitol Hill:

    * Add Reagan's visage to Mount Rushmore
    * Place him on the dime
    * Put him on the $10 bill
    * Put him on the $20 bill
Hey folks, you're thinking too small. Let me suggest more noteworthy honors:
    * Rename Texas as "Reagan"
    * Change the name of the national debt to the "Ronald Reagan Memorial Trickle Down"
    * Add Ronald Reagan JellyBelly jelly beans to the national food group nutrition pyramid
    * Instead of rebuilding a structure at Ground Zero, make it a 110 story likeness of Ronny
    * Make Janet Jackson wear a nipple covering with Ronald Reagan's face stamped upon it; the next slip and everyone will salute and say the pledge
And this is only a start of the possibilities!

Aileen Wuornos and Kim Cattrall Beat Ronald Reagan

Strange but true: an executed Florida female serial killer and an aging sex kitten whose acting range runs from B to B seem to be beating the "ultra popular" former president out in Web searching. Of course, with the media on overload with Reagan, one hardly has to search that hard to find something... unless, of course, you're looking for something more substantive than unadulterated sugar and gush.

Let's face it. Three more days of Reagan coverage and we'll all have Type II diabetes.

Hitchens: "The Stupidity of Ronald Reagan"

Christopher Hitchens is apparently back to mixing antabuse into his jumbo-slurpy sized martinis again. Read his piece in Slate.

Reagan's Death to Give Bush a Jump in Polls

That's what Howie (Newsweek) Fineman and others are saying. Already, the polls are closing rank and reducing the edge Kerry had over Mr. Bush (49-41 before, 44-42 now, with a larger number of undecideds).

In the "I Wouldn't Call Him Gay; I'd Just Say He's Very Happy" Department

America's favorite bush kangaroo quietly (shh!) points us to Baptists Are Saving Homosexuals (BASH) which explores whether Mr. Bush is or isn't.. um.. er.. uh... Aw, read it yourself. There are just so many legitimate reasons to mock Mr. Bush.

1000 Days and Still No Osama

From a note at CounterSpin, we learn that 1,000 days have passed since Bush told us Osama bin Laden would be caught dead or alive.

Unless I've missed something, Osama is still loose. Unfortunately, so is this administration. Both should be considered armed and dangerous.

Ashcroft Follies

Did you catch any of AG Ashcroft's performance before the Senate today? He was shameless in not answering a single question he didn't choose to answer, insisting he wasn't invoking executive privilege yet now responding anyway.

Ted Kennedy's facial expressions as well as Joe Biden's were priceless. As usual, however, the media reduces this so you only see the Dems asking questions.

Kos: The Silliness of Comparing Bush to Reagan

From Daily Kos:

I am quite amused at Republican attempts to brand Bush the "new Reagan". It's clear Bush has been unable to stand on his own as a leader, hence the efforts to transfer some of that Reagan glow to the failed Bush presidency.

But really, I'm not sure why they insist on making Bush/Reagan comparisons. However you look at it, Bush looks so much smaller in relation to Reagan. And it really helps drive home the growing concensus that Bush is, indeed, the worst president ever.

In comparison, Bush makes Reagan look positively god-like.
I agree 100%.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Bobblehead

Wouldn't you like to send one of these to Maria Shriver? This way, she can ask questions like:

    * Arnold, you still believe in a woman's right to choose, yes?
    * Arnold, am I still the most beautiful woman you know?
    * Arnold, promise me you won't campaign for George Bush.
    * Arnold, I hope you appreciate the fact that I'll pull a Lorena Bobbitt if you fondle any more women.

Click here to order one (or more). Proceeds reportedly go to sarcoma research.

Bill Bennett, the Dominatrix, and a Possible Hoax

Wonkette reports that the chap at the Calico Cat now says he thinks the whole "Bill Bennett was getting his jollies spanked by a Nevada dominatrix" story is just a hoax.

Maybe. May be not. His principle gripe is that the Domina was not more forthcoming with him and, having read his site, I'm not sure I would have told the guy much either. As one of the readers pointed out here (I'm paraphrasing), "he seems far more into whining."

If it's true, he would seem a poor choice to "out" the story and if it's a hoax, he also seems like an unsuitable choice. The parts of his Emails to this woman he reprinted sounded less like journalistic inquiry and more like "but the Enquirer pays a lot for tips!"

Not the Usual Faces of the Faithful

While unfortunately, a faithful American has now come to mean Jerry Falwell and others who espouse hatred and limits in the name of God, Ben Cohen and True Majority are looking for assistance in putting together another type of faithful American, one which may better represent the majority of Americans who believe. Here's the letter from Ben:

Every great social justice movement in American history - abolition, labor rights, civil rights - has had progressive people of faith right up front. That’s why we’ve been working with the faith community to help launch a new online group called Faithful America. Their first major project is a great way for the people of America to speak directly to the people of the Middle East. I’ve endorsed the ad discussed below and hope you will too. Please share this with your friends.
    Dear Faithful American,

    The torture scandal continues to grow, and with it the outrage of the Arab world. As our leaders continue to blame a few rogue soldiers, a cycle of mutual suspicion and dehumanization between the Arab world and the United States deepens.

    We need to send a message directly from the people of the United States , to the people of Iraq and the Arab world, telling them that, as Americans, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in demanding justice for these sinful abuses committed in our name.

    To do this, we’ve filmed a television ad with Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders to be broadcast on Arabic-language television in the Middle East. You can view the ad using the link below. If you feel the message expresses what is in your heart, let the world know by endorsing the ad. You can even donate to help put it on the air.


    As the number of endorsers grows, we will add that figure to the end of the ad. The more people who endorse the message, the more effective it will be. Please send this e-mail to anyone you think might want to get involved.

    The FaithfulAmerica.org Team

    P.S. Thanks to Medea Benjamin and Michael Schellenberger for bringing us this powerful idea.

For More on the Dominatrix, Who Looks Like She Could Whoop Ass...

See In Search of Utopia, where David Anderson has committed the lady's tale to pixelated print in case her site goes down.

True or not, it's a hoot.

Let's Give George a Collective Spanking.

Pass the Hat: Take Up a Collection to Send Bill Bennett's Dominatrix to GW to Spank Him

What can I say?

I think this is a perfect idea. If only Mom and Pop Bush had smacked the kid's butt a few times we might not have the problem we have today.


Postponements All Over the Place

As Atrios notes, the release of the film, The Hunting of the President (which details the nearly decade spent by the right wing trying to destroy Bill Clinton), has been postponed. Elsewhere, other Democratic functions, including Kerry's appearance at a fundraiser led by Barbra Streisand, have been postponed or cancelled out of respect for Reagan's death.

Bush is shutting down all Fed agencies on Friday (no mail delivery either), for which I presume we'll foot the bill.

But were Clinton or Carter to die unexpectedly, the Repugs would be there to dance on their coffins while announcing their next undemocratic moves.

300,000 Deaths Foretold

Tell me, have you heard much about what's going on in Sudan? It's horrific.

THE EARLY PREPARATION for the genocide in Darfur, Sudan's vast western province, played out behind a veil of ignorance: Almost no foreign aid workers operated in the region, and the world failed to realize what was happening. Stage two of the genocide, the one we are now in, is more acutely shameful: A succession of reports from relief agencies, human rights groups and journalists informs us that hundreds of thousands of people are likely to perish, yet outsiders still cannot muster the will to save them. Unless that changes, we are fated to live through the genocide's third stage. There will be speeches, commissions of inquiry and sundry retrospectives, just as there were after Cambodia and Rwanda. Never again, we will be told.

Basic Human Rules Never Apply to Bush

Lovely. Just lovely. Now tell me again the abuse in Iraq is limited to a few "bad apples":

A team of administration lawyers concluded in a March 2003 legal memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security.

The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also said that any executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons.

One reason, the lawyers said, would be if military personnel believed that they were acting on orders from superiors "except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful."

"In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign," the lawyers wrote in the 56-page confidential memorandum, the prohibition against torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogation undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority."

Senior Pentagon officials on Monday sought to minimize the significance of the March memo...

The Wrong Proliferation Message

Also from The Times' editorial page:

As the world's strongest nuclear and conventional power, America should want to freeze weapons development and halt nuclear proliferation. Yet the Bush administration's proposed military budget moves in a different and more dangerous direction by seeking a sharp increase in the funds for research on two new kinds of nuclear bombs. The Senate should halt this reckless folly by voting next week for an amendment sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein.

One of the new nuclear weapons is a reduced-yield explosive, less than half as powerful as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Proponents call these low-yield bombs more "usable" than today's versions. That means easing the taboo that has kept nuclear weapons sheathed since 1945 on behalf of a bomb that could still expose hundreds of thousands of people to death or radiation sickness. With nine countries now believed to have nuclear weapons, including North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel, the world does not need America's encouraging the idea of more usable bombs.

The administration also wants money to study much more powerful nuclear explosives for use against suspected underground bunkers containing biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. Just imagine launching nuclear bunker busters based on weapons intelligence as unreliable as that circulating before the Iraq war. Even if underground sites were accurately identified, the resulting nuclear explosions could spread the blast, radiation and toxins over populated areas. The proposed research money ought to be going into better weapons intelligence and improved conventional methods for putting these sites out of commission, like blocking air intakes and external energy sources.

The only research involving nuclear weapons should involve finding ways to discourage their spread. It's mind-boggling that the administration seems more interested in finding new uses for them.
This is not just frightening stuff, it's totally ass backwards. While Mr. Bush apparently has never heard of a weapons program he did not want to toss tax dollars toward, this is a huge global issue and one that should be stopped even more assuredly and swiftly than his Star Wars plan.

Paul Krugman's "The Great Taxer"

From his Times column for Tuesday:

Over the course of this week we'll be hearing a lot about Ronald Reagan, much of it false. A number of news sources have already proclaimed Mr. Reagan the most popular president of modern times. In fact, though Mr. Reagan was very popular in 1984 and 1985, he spent the latter part of his presidency under the shadow of the Iran-Contra scandal. Bill Clinton had a slightly higher average Gallup approval rating, and a much higher rating during his last two years in office.

We're also sure to hear that Mr. Reagan presided over an unmatched economic boom. Again, not true: the economy grew slightly faster under President Clinton, and, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the after-tax income of a typical family, adjusted for inflation, rose more than twice as much from 1992 to 2000 as it did from 1980 to 1988.

New al Qaeda Threat?

The news is so skewed toward Reagan's death that we've heard almost nothing about the supposed new threat from al Qaeda for another attack. I've half expected John Ashcroft to come out announcing he knows OBL will attack during Reagan's state funeral on Friday.

Stem Cell Research

Since BushCo is doing everything it can to make political hay out of the passing of Ronald Reagan, I have a suggestion that would be far more meaningful and long-lasting than having Reagan's image replace FDR's on the dime (an idea I've heard bandied about again and again the last few days, after Nancy said no to it last time).

Let Bush reverse his draconian decision on stem cell research. No, it wouldn't have benefited Reagan even if Bush had approved it in 2001. But there are many people - present and future - it could aid. Some of the conservatives so opposed to most Americans benefiting from it have, in fact, taken advantage of it in private. So let's allow federal funding to go to such research so that mere mortals can benefit, too.

Dirty Dozen #1: Ways to Increase MSNBC Viewership

With MSNBC struggling in its ratings, here are my dirty dozen suggestions for them to get a better audience share:

    1. Don't start your morning programming with 3 hours of "Imus". I like Don Imus as much as the next person - especially since he suggested Rick Santorum would be better to torture in an Iraqi person than innocent Iraqi civilians - but he's sort of too much of an extreme measure going against Katie ("Aren't I adorable?") Couric.
    2. Remember when NBC had Couric get a colonoscopy on air? I'd suggest you do this for Chris Matthews. People would pay to see this, especially if you administered no anesthesia.
    3. More Keith Olbermann (he's your only hope).
    4. Administer a penetrating electrical shock to Joe Scarbrough every time he lies. That should be about 300 shocks per hour.
    5. Stop hiring credibility-challenged people like Jesse Ventura, Michael Savage, and Fred what's his name. Hiring professional clowns would be better.
    6. More Keith Olbermann.
    7. More truthfulness. For example, Alex Witt should be renamed to Alex Witless.
    8. Instead of showing hours of "Headliners and Legends" each weekend, run Bush gaffes. They're a lot funnier and would make it seem like you're less desperate.
    9. More Keith Olbermann.
    10. Hire someone to repeatedly bitch-slap your "political analyst" Peggy Noonan until she can no longer gush. This also would prove to be a major ratings grabber.
    11. Just dress Dan Abrams up as Geraldo and be done with it.
    12. Did we mention show more Keith Olbermann?

The Kurds

Word has it that the Kurds are making noises about not joining with the new Iraqi government.

Who can blame them? They've been shafted so many different times by so many different groups (including us, more than once), and more traditional Iraqi groups do not look kindly upon them. I've heard very little about anyone being sure the Kurds would be properly represented.

What the break-off of the Kurds would means remains to be seen. I think there's precious little doubt that even with this new interium government in place, the US will remain as in charge as ever, which means continuing violence, continuing game playing, and continuing lack of freedom and independence for most Iraqis. I doubt we'll gladly let the Kurds create their own government or carve out a bit of Iraq for themselves.

Another US Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Unfortunately, this soldier's death did not rate the front page of CNN where it might have bounced one of 12 different references to Mr. Reagan or two for JLo's third marriage.


I couldn't resist that last post. All this "Reagan saved the world and probably the universe, too" shit is making me cranky.

Wonkette has a wry statement about this weekend's news, as well:

If you're wondering why we haven't posted anything about the weekend's big news, well: We're still sort of in shock. What does this mean for the country? What can we learn from it? And while the media is already forging a revisionist history that erases the public's memory of past mistakes. . . We all know J-Lo's just going to get divorced again.
This is why Wonkette makes for sometimes great reading.

Bill Bennett, the Dominatrix, and VirtueCratGate

From Wonkette:

Wonderful news: Someone claiming to be Bill Bennett's dominatrix has posted her story on the web. It makes for entertaining reading, though surprisingly (and disappointingly) low on spank material. The naughtiest bits come from paraphrases of reporter's inquiries:

    They asked me the most absurd questions, they behave as if he was a rock star and I am some teenage groupie. They asked me for cum-stained sheets, bloody or hash stained underwear, whips or paddles with his DNA still attached. . . [One reporter] would send me endless sexually explicit e-mails detailing his fantasies (very professional, right?) his 'lustful utterances' as it were. He thought he was going to 'work' me for my story using this angle, the logic escapes me.
Some may find it hard to believe that a reputable journalist would approach a source this way, but remember: One of the magazines looking into this story was the Washington Monthly. And you know what kinky freaks they are.

Third Day of No News

Try to find any news around the Reagan coverage. I dare you.

Look at CNN, and at times today, you wouldn't think we're even at war. There's no mention of it. Or the economic crisis. Or the employment slump we're hardly out of.

NBC keeps running Special Reports updates. What are they going to say?

    President Ronald Reagan is still dead.

There is something very wrong here. As I said, I understand paying tribute. I would understand it better if the sitting president somehow died. But turning this into a total media blitz is unfounded.

Note, too, that Bush will attend Reagan's funeral, which he had not done for any GI killed in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

"Special Reports" on Ronald Reagan's Death

ABC is promising live updates and special reports throughout the day each day this week leading up to Ronald Reagan's funeral (finally!) on Friday.

It's nice to know that if Ronny comes back to life or somehow gives us one last one-liner, ABC will be there to capture it for us.

This is almost as monumentally stupid as Tom Brokaw practically wiping a tear from his eye as he told us the great symbolism of Reagan's passing on the anniversary of D-Day. Tommy? Ronald Reagan did NOT serve in WWII. Maybe, just maybe, he was near the movie set of a WWII film once. But that's about it.

So let's not dishonor the memory of those who served and died by acting like Ronny chose D-Day to go home to his maker out of some great brotherhood with the veterans. S'ok?


Yes, But How Do You Really Feel About the President?

I'm sure there's a reason this picture appears on Wonkette but... you know, it's late Sunday, I'm tired, and I'm really not into pesky details.

Project Apollonia - A Very Good Cause

David Anderson at In Search of Utopia would love your assistance in meeting the goals of a project aimed at bringing 10,000 books to the school children of Costa Rica: Project Apollonia.

Now, as a writer and someone who credits reading and books with her evolution, I'd love to see this one fly. They've even arranged an ultra-convenient Florida mailing address so US contributors don't have to muck around with international mailing.

Note, too, that they're looking for English language books.

Imagine also what books mean to you... and imagine their special meaning to poor children who may be able to use them as a ticket out of economic and educational poverty. As an added incentive, it's the EXACT thing someone like BushCo would not like since they see anyone outside of Texas and the Bible Belt as their own personal poverty-level labor force.

What a beautiful idea!

The Reagan Manufactured Myth

From Atrios:

Max catches the Washington Post just making stuff up.

The occasion of a man's death is not the time to pile on him, but nor is it the time to let the mythmakers get away with manufacturing reality.

Reagan was not the most popular president in modern history - that honor goes to Bill Clinton.

Reagan did pass what was, at the time, the largest tax cut in history. That was quickly followed up with what still holds the record for the largest tax increase in history.

The number of nondefense federal employees grew under Reagan, as they did under the first Bush. The number shrunk when Clinton was in office.

The economy under Reagan grew at an average rate of 3.5%, a healthy clip matched by the economy under Bill Clinton. The unemployment rate averaged 7.3%.

We all know what happened to deficits and the federal debt.

I have plenty of my own reasons for disliking the politics of the Reagan administration, but unless the only thing of importance to conservatives is the top marginal tax rate, judged by their own criteria there was not much to cheer about during that time.

IRS Inanity

[Ed. Note: let’s see if these links work this time.]

Max gives us some insight into (gee what a surprise) unsettling IRS practices. If that link doesn't work, try this.

Ray Bradbury Vs Michael Moore

Skippy tells us that Ray Bradbury is massively pissed that Moore used the basis of one of his titles, "Fahrenheit 451", in coming up with Moore's upcoming bushomentary entitled "Fahrenheit 911", due out June 25th.

In a word? Dumb. I like Bradbury but this is petty, and the story was only picked up by right-wing press organs. Similar titles are common place. For example, I've seen probably about 5-6 plays, movies, and books with the title, "Catch Me if You Can." It's about as assinine as Microsoft getting a patent on double-clicking.

Anti-semitism, a Washington Times employee, and Fox News

Max has the goods on Tony Blankley's shameless, pointed anti-semitism under the guise of trying to crucify George Soros while appearing on the Hannity and Colmes show on Faux.

Then Max takes a kinder tone to Reagan's death than I did.

Update: For some reason, the Trackback links are not working. Gremlins? Ineptitude? Who knows. Go to Max here and find the appropriate articles (I know, I know, making you work on a Sunday). He's got more interesting stuff up today.

OR just use the new links I added above. What can I say? I'm kind... and Max is too good to miss due to a technical problem.

Vermont and WalMart (Again)

I've posted here before about the National Historic Trust's placing of the entire state of Vermont on its endangered list because of plans by WalMart to open seven (7) superstores here in the supposedly near future.

Art Woolf, a UVM professor, has an op-ed piece in The Times today sneering at concerns on the part of many of us here about the WalMart invasion. I authored a rather pointed reply in a letter to The Times editor (I doubt they'll publish it) in response.

But here are some stats I dug up. Do you know that the average income for a WalMart clerk is a whopping $14,000 a year? Or that studies show that for every just-over minimum wage job created by WalMart in a community, three (3) livable wage jobs are lost? Livable wage probably means 2-3 times what WalMart pays for that one job, too. Or that states often have to pick up the burden of providing health care to at least the children of WalMart employees? In Georgia, WalMart kids account for the largest population on their children welfare list?

I've been in a WalMart store anywhere all of once in my lifetime. I do not expect to ever shop there again. I'm hardly an elitist. While I've made very good money in my career, right now I'm scraping. But so are lots of my friends and neighbors here in Vermont. And we still choose not to shop at WalMart, even when in this region, WalMart's only general merchandise competitor went out of business nearly two years ago.

Two Soldiers' Deaths Tonight Go Unnoted in the Reagan Uber-Anguish

From AP:

A roadside bomb killed two American soldiers and wounded two in a series of attacks Saturday against occupation forces and their Iraqi allies, while tensions eased in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Kufa just weeks ahead of the transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi government.
Mr. Reagan nor his supposed acolyte, Mr. Bush, served in war time which explains (not much) why the latter two get all the press tonight and these soldiers get a secretive trip back to Dover where the press is not allowed to take pictures of their flag-draped coffins.