Losing the War on Terror One Bushie at a Time

Posted at Washington Monthly:

An anonymous intelligence officer is about to release a book saying that Bush is losing the war on terror:
    Imperial Hubris is the latest in a relentless stream of books attacking the administration in election year. Most of the earlier ones, however, were written by embittered former officials. This one is unprecedented in being the work of a serving official with nearly 20 years experience in counter-terrorism who is still part of the intelligence establishment.

    The fact that he has been allowed to publish, albeit anonymously and without naming which agency he works for, may reflect the increasing frustration of senior intelligence officials at the course the administration has taken.
This is the second book written by this guy, but apparently he takes his criticism of Bush far beyond anything he's published before. Among other things, Anonymous say that (a) we probably aren't close to capturing bin Laden, (b) Bush and Tommy Franks screwed up big time by not going after him with massive firepower at Tora Bora in 2002, and (c) al-Qaeda is probably stronger than ever right now. And then there's this:
    Anonymous, who published an analysis of al-Qaida last year called Through Our Enemies' Eyes, thinks it quite possible that another devastating strike against the US could come during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping the same one in place.

    "I'm very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now," he said.

    "One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president."

Homeland Security: A Joke Held Together by Duct Tape

While this story rarely played outside of DC, an event last week sent all of Capitol Hill running for safety believing that an incoming plane was about to target one of the buildings during Reagan's funeral. People who fell were run over by others.

From yesterday's Washington Post:

The Kentucky State Police aircraft, whose identification transmitter was broken, had properly notified civilian flight controllers of its status throughout its flight. But the FAA's regional control center never relayed the information to a Washington air defense center in Herndon -- formally known as the National Capital Region Coordination Center (NCRCC) -- until after U.S. Capitol Police made the emergency decision at 4:31 p.m. to evacuate the Capitol, according to the "after-action" report.

The order sent hundreds of assembled dignitaries and lawmakers and thousands of staff members running from the Capitol in a frantic exodus...

The episode "raises serious concerns about the government's ability to guard not only the U.S. Capitol but the entire region in the event of another airborne attack," Turner said in a statement yesterday. [Rep. Christopher] Cox [R-CA] said that "we want to protect the capital region and to make sure the procedures in place work to do that."
One of the two major supposed terror targets gets completely out of control because of a Kentucky airplane.

Times Reviewer Says Michael Moore's Film Agrees with Facts

That's what this piece in Editor and Publisher says. Can't wait to read the piece in tomorrow's Times.

Saud Authorities Match Grisly Photos with Grisly Photos

The Saudi government has released some really nasty pictures of their own, supposedly of the four men gunned down in connection with the slaying and perhaps subsequent beheading of American contractor Paul Johnson this past week.

Now, however, we hear Johnson's body has not been retrieved, as we were originally told. They're looking for it. First, though, we heard these men were "caught" disposing of Mr. Johnson.

A Coming Indictment Against Ken Lay of Enron? Really?

That seems to be what these folks are saying. Bush might be desperate enough to allow it, although Lay certainly has some bombshells he may be able to lay before Election Day. Thus, I don't expect too much in this department - perhaps an initial hard line followed perhaps by Ken vacationing... er... doing time in a lush resort in Acapulco for 3-6 months.

Bottom line: Lay could tell us a LOT about the energy initiative developed in secret between Cheney and Big Energy, as well as the fall of Gray Davis in California and the suddent rise of The Arnold, along with just how much time Kenny Boy spent at the White House advising our leader. None of these things would sit well with many Americans who paid prices for the collapse of Enron. So Bush is going to dig a nice large hole for Kenny to let him back out of any prison cell Kenny happens to land in.

Bush Plans to Screen EVERYONE for Mental Illness

This (relayed by a friend) isn't good on so many different levels, despite what happy horseshit he attaches to it:

A sweeping mental health initiative will be unveiled by President George W Bush in July. The plan promises to integrate mentally ill patients fully into the community by providing "services in the community, rather than institutions," according to a March 2004 progress report entitled New Freedom Initiative (www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/newfreedom/toc-2004.html). While some praise the plan's goals, others say it protects the profits of drug companies at the expense of the public.
Do we really want the government screening each and every one of us? The government, who gets so much wrong?

Will the indices look for people who might speak out, who might have leadership qualities that would make them organize others to resist some government policies?

Is this a new pre-emptive strike? Identify, label, and tuck people away? This way, the government can pull out a diagnosis on anyone they don't like, and potentially hide a diagnosis on someone they want to promote.

US Companies Place Blame for Hardships on Iraq War

I missed this story in USA Today, but thankfully, Buzzflash made the link available:

Hundreds of companies blame the Iraq war for poor financial results in 2003, many warning that continued U.S. military involvement there could harm this year's performance.
Sad to say, I think they have it right.

Yes, the Iraq War ultimately has done booming business for some companies, specifically defense contractors and infrastructure firms and oil companies. But I've never been convinced - although I freely admit I'm not an economist or biz analyst - that the kind of situation that makes defense contractors happy is good for the country as a whole.

Sure, WWII helped bring the US out of the still-ravaging effects of the Great Depression. But at what costs?

For defense contractors to flourish, there has to be an atmosphere of fear and conflict. We usually have to be willing to give up a whole part of a generation of our young men - and now women - to the fight. WWII was a clearer war certainly than this fog of "War on Terror." WWII was supposed to end some of the ultimate world strife. Instead, this current war - the larger War on Terror and the specific war in Iraq - is open ended, Bush can call any new country into the fray at will, and he's done everything in his power to squelch criticism, up to and including making it seem like anyone who opposes him is in bed with the terrorists.

I'm not convinced fear and loathing can produce a robust US or world economy. And for America to flourish, the rest of the world cannot starve nor can it leave in fear of us.

We May Have Killed Al Zarqawi...Again!

Depending on the news service you read, we may have killed the "so-called" head of al Qaeda in Iraq, which would amount to the 2nd or 3rd time we've killed him. By the sixth or eighth time, it might even be true. This is CBSNews' account:

U.S. aircraft blasted a residential neighborhood in Fallujah on Saturday, killing at least 16 people and leveling houses there, police and residents said. A U.S. official said the target was a known hideout of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror network.

It was the first significant U.S. military action in the city since Marines ended a bloody three-week siege against insurgents. Since the U.S. forces left, residents have said that extremist influence in the Sunni Muslim city, west of Baghdad, has only grown.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, coalition deputy operations chief, said the United States used "precision weapons" to attack the suspected al-Zarqawi hideout and that the blast caused "multiple secondary explosions" of ammunition and roadside bomb materials stored there. There was no way to confirm the U.S. claim that al-Zarqawi's group used the house.

Kimmitt said "significant intelligence" from multiple sources suggested that "a significant number of people in the Zarqawi network were in this house" at the time of the attack. He would not provide further details of the attack and would not say whether it was carried out by aircraft.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was unknown whether al-Zarqawi was there. They said al-Zarqawi's death would be a significant blow to the insurgency but would not bring it to an end. The officials did not dispute Iraqi casualty figures.

CNN's No Room for News

Lessee: we have BushCo cranking up new places we might strike war upon, we have a beheaded American constractor, more al Qaeda warnings, plummeting health care and a nation of people whose "new" jobs pay significantly less (often with few benefits), but CNN for 2 days - in its #2 story position - has told us alternately that Bill Clinton slept on the couch after the disclosure of the Monica Lewinsky matter or that he was "in the doghouse."

Nothing like a 6-year-old story that wasn't a story to start with.

Hate Group to Run Anti-Clinton Ad on CBS

You know CBS, the network that refuses to run advocacy ads UNLESS they're in favor of the Bushies:

CBS is apparently set to run a new TV advertisement attacking former President Bill Clinton that appears to violate the network's stated prohibition on "advocacy" ads that deal with "controversial issues of public importance." Under the headline "Citizens United Launches New Anti-Clinton Ad Campaign to Air during '60 Minutes' Interview," Citizens United (led by David N. Bossie) announced on its website the new ad is to air during Clinton's June 20 appearance on CBS's news program 60 Minutes. The self-described "advocacy" group explained, "Amidst the hype surrounding the release of former President Clinton's new book, 'My Life', Citizens United sets the record straight by exposing the real legacy President Bill Clinton left for America."

The Citizens United ad claims that Clinton is "responsible" for "leaving us vulnerable to terrorists."

CBS's airing of the Citizens United ad would be noteworthy because the network refused to run ads from MoveOn.org and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) during this year's Super Bowl. At the time, CBS explained that it does not run "advocacy advertising"...
Click here to write CBS and explain that THIS AD is advocacy, too.

DNA Checked to Be Sure They Killed Saud Al Qaeda Head in Death of Paul Johnson

My only problem with this is that now, we're being told these men weren't actually found next to Mr. Johnson's body (for one) and that Saudi scientific findings, like ours, I imagine depend on what the ruling person TELLS them to report.

Bush, Our Spiritual Leader Who Rallied Us After 9/11

Let me join Atrios in choking over this phrase in the WaPo today.

Making the decision to go to war, I imagine, is pretty easy for somebody like Bush, who never fought one, who found his cushy fly-boy assignment too tough to show up for in the late 60s/early 70s. It's trying to achieve your objectives without resorting to cluster bombs, MOABs, and uranium-depleted weaponry that would be difficult.

As for Bush as "spiritual leader", I'm reminded of a Frank Zappa song, originally about Pat Robertson: "Jesus thinks you're a jerk!"

Paul Johnson: Will His Death by Beheading Stop All Questions?

Not quite like the beheading of Nicholas (Nick) Berg more than a month ago, I do think there are some questions to be raised and answered about the taking and the subsequent execution of Lockheed-Martin contractor Paul Johnson, whose severed head and body were shown photos on a Web site shortly before three men were shot to death supposedly disposing of him.

No, it's not just the issue of that strangely out of place orange jump suit again. All the other known captive-beheadings have been of Jews (Daniel Perle, Berg, and another contractor in Riyahd who was shot in the back before beheading) as if this fact alone was supposed to press home a point. If Johnson was Jewish, I have not heard that.

Like the Times Says, Show Us the Proof

Also from today's Times:

When the commission studying the 9/11 terrorist attacks refuted the Bush administration's claims of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, we suggested that President Bush apologize for using these claims to help win Americans' support for the invasion of Iraq. We did not really expect that to happen. But we were surprised by the depth and ferocity of the administration's capacity for denial. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have not only brushed aside the panel's findings and questioned its expertise, but they are also trying to rewrite history.[Ed: note, emphasis mine.]

Mr. Bush said the 9/11 panel had actually confirmed his contention that there were "ties" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. He said his administration had never connected Saddam Hussein to 9/11. Both statements are wrong.

Before the war, Mr. Bush spoke of far more than vague "ties" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. He said Iraq had provided Al Qaeda with weapons training, bomb-making expertise and a base in Iraq. On Feb. 8, 2003, Mr. Bush said that "an Al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990's for help in acquiring poisons and gases." The 9/11 panel's report, as well as news articles, indicate that these things never happened.

Mr. Cheney said yesterday that the "evidence is overwhelming" of an Iraq-Qaeda axis and that there had been a "whole series of high-level contacts" between them. The 9/11 panel said a senior Iraqi intelligence officer made three visits to Sudan in the early 1990's, meeting with Osama bin Laden once in 1994. It said Osama bin Laden had asked for "space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded." The panel cited reports of further contacts after Osama bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in 1996, but said there was no working relationship. As far as the public record is concerned, then, Mr. Cheney's "longstanding ties" amount to one confirmed meeting, after which the Iraq government did not help Al Qaeda. By those standards, the United States has longstanding ties to North Korea.

Mr. Bush has also used a terrorist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Mr. Bush used to refer to Mr. Zarqawi as a "senior Al Qaeda terrorist planner" who was in Baghdad working with the Iraqi government. But the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, told the Senate earlier this year that Mr. Zarqawi did not work with the Hussein regime, nor under the direction of Al Qaeda.

When it comes to 9/11, someone in the Bush administration has indeed drawn the connection to Iraq: the vice president. Mr. Cheney has repeatedly referred to reports that Mohamed Atta met in Prague in April 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence agent. He told Tim Russert of NBC on Dec. 9, 2001, that this report has "been pretty well confirmed." If so, no one seems to have informed the C.I.A., the Czech government or the 9/11 commission, which said it did not appear to be true. Yet Mr. Cheney cited it, again, on Thursday night on CNBC.

Mr. Cheney said he had lots of documents to prove his claims. We have heard that before, but Mr. Cheney always seems too pressed for time or too concerned about secrets to share them. Last September, Mr. Cheney's adviser, Mary Matalin, explained to The Washington Post that Mr. Cheney had access to lots of secret stuff. She said he had to "tiptoe through the land mines of what's sayable and not sayable" to the public, but that "his job is to connect the dots."

The message, if we hear it properly, is that when it comes to this critical issue, the vice president is not prepared to offer any evidence beyond the flimsy-to-nonexistent arguments he has used in the past, but he wants us to trust him when he says there's more behind the screen. So far, when it comes to Iraq, blind faith in this administration has been a losing strategy.

Another Bushie-Promulgated Lie Laid to Rest

From today's Times:

The staff of the Sept. 11 commission has put forward what amounts to a major revision of a widely held perception in Washington that top Saudi officials gave money to Al Qaeda.

The new account, based on 19 months of staff work, asserts flatly that there is "no evidence" that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials financed the group, which is led by Osama bin Laden.


Note to Sports Afficianados

Golf is not a sport. Anything that involves stupid clothes, silly little carts, and whacking a ball with a stick once every half hour or so before you go relax at the club with a tall drink is not a sport.

It also does not require such florid prose or the analysis one would normally attach to the great minds of all times. Of course, sportscasters - and ego driven sports players - make it seem like football is this great mental challenge (sometimes, I'd kill to see how many major sports players could even spell "mental challenge" - but it's not.

Nor is golf.

If you want to play it, fine. Just don't pretend it's a sport or that most of the rest of the world could possibly be interested.

No offense, of course, to my neighbors who run a golf course. They're very nice neighbors even if they have a golf course.

The Artist Formerly Known as a Bitchy Pain in the Ass

Madonna wants you to call her Esther to express her new energy.

Madonna? Have you met Prince? If not, you should.

That Dennis Miller Show Actually Smells Badly Right Through the Television

Turning off Keith Olbermann (or rather, turning OFF Joe Scarbrough when he came on as Keith signed off), I happened onto Dennis Miller's CNBC show. They're paying this audience to sit there and the audience still isn't laughing.

Maybe if they got the audience drunk first? I've really got to find something else to watch. A test pattern or the Weather Channel looks good right now.

CT Supreme Court Says Governor John Rowland Must Testify Re: Impeachment Hearings

This is a first, but then, not since the Bushies rolled into Washington DC has there been more avarice and nepotism.

The voters of the state for sometime have said in great majority that the governor cannot be trusted and should be impeached. Strangely, when there was the recall of a Democratic governor, this got a lot of news. But Rowland's impeachment proceedings and corruption disclosures, where Rowland is not only a Republican but a "good friend" of the Bush family, hardly gets any.

Weird, huh? Smile.

Rigged Voting Machines, Diebold Style

From Bill at The Agonist:

And despite warnings from the state's chief elections officer, Diebold continued fielding poorly tested, faulty software and hardware in at least two of California's largest urban counties during the Super Tuesday primary.

"Diebold may suffer from gross incompetence, gross negligence. I don't know whether there's any malevolence involved," said a senior California elections official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I don't know why they've acted the way they've acted and the way they're continuing to act. Notwithstanding their rhetoric, they have not learned any lessons in terms of dealing with this secretary (of state)."
Note: This may actually be an old post at "The Agonist". Either something is screwy in my refresh or they haven't posted there in nearly two months.

Republicans: No Saudi Outrage Over Paul Johnson's Beheading

See? What did I tell you in an earlier post?

While MSNBC for hours has shown Arab people voicing great outrage and pain over the death of the American Lockheed-Martin contractor, Paul Johnson, they have Christopher Shays (R-CT) on Hardball now telling us that if there's any Arab outrage over this, he hasn't seen it. Does the host refute him? Hell, no.

Trust me, I'm not saying the Saudis - especially the ruling family - are the good guys. But our hands are pretty dirty, too, including with Saudi dirt. Just drawing these ridiculous stereotypes each time is really not very useful to the dialogue or helpful in trying to work through issues.

Official: Abuse at Abu Ghraib Occurred After Bushies Ordered Better Results

That's the word from a CBS News story posted at Buzzflash:

An Army intelligence officer claims the abuses at Abu Ghraib took place after interrogators came under pressure from Bush administration officials.

In a sworn statement to Army investigators obtained by USA Today, Army Lt. Col. Steven Jordan, the top military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib when abuses occurred, said he was under intense pressure from the White House, Pentagon and CIA last fall to get better information from detainees.

He also said he had worked out a procedure with CIA interrogators to hide five or six inmates from Red Cross inspectors in October, the newspaper reported in Friday editions.

Jordan's statement said he was reminded of the need to improve intelligence "many, many, many times" and the pressure included a visit to the prison by an aide to White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, the paper reported.
Why the story is posted on today's news page with an April 30th date, however, remains a mystery.

Saudis Kill Those They Think Responsible for Paul Johnson's Murder Just Moments After Release of News

That seems a bit odd to me. They said this fellow, who Bush-Cheney says is the head of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia (uh huh), was killed as he and others were disposing of Johnson's body.

Even if you forget for a moment that Saudi justice is perhaps even more up-down, little-and-extreme than American justice under Bush, this sounds a tad off. Since the man's dead, of course, he can't be interrogated. I know, that's probably fine with some people but sorry, it's not with me. I'd like some independent verification of these facts from more than one source.

Has Karl Rove Taken Over John McCain's Body?

It sure sounds like it as McCain appears on the campaign trail with his "good friend", George Bush, today.

McCain just said, "this president heard that terrible call to attention on 9/11 and responded."

Yes, right after he finished reading for 20 odd minutes to a class of little kids. It was some book about "my pet goat." But before he responded, he rode around in the plane back and forth for 20 hours leaving clearly no one really in charge. By at least the week after 9/11, Bush responded. Principally, by blowing up a country that barely exists after 20 years of warfare between the US and Russia.

Muttering as I stalk off.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ronald Reagan's Funeral

Excerpts from Will Durst:

Q. Isn't there some sort of time limit on these things?
A. You're right, it seemed like about a year. But Reagan-Palooza has wound down, and they finally put the old man in the ground. Reluctantly. I mean, c'mon, JFK only got 4 days.

Q. Is it really over over, or is this just an intermission?
A. Well, if Karl Rove had his way, they'd still be dragging the body back and forth across the country in the bed of a Ford F-150 pickup, stopping at county fairs, right up till the election. He probably approached the widow with a contingency plan to dig up the carcass of conservatism in case Bush's prospects head South later this summer.

...Q. Still, don't you think it was kind of overdone?
A. You think so? I switched on the national news on Thursday and they cut from another unctuous paean to Reagan to a story on the Laci Peterson trial and I actually heard myself mutter out loud, "Thank God."

...Q. Is this going to help Bush?
A. What a repugnant suggestion. To sully the death and mourning of a national legend by raising the ugly specter of partisan politics.

Q. Does that mean yes?
A. A 168-hour commercial on the ideals of conservatism? Yeah, you could say this is going to help Bush. You could also say wolverines make lousy crib toys.

Q. What long-term repercussions are expected?
A. Well, if this unfortunate demise and subsequent memorial buoys Bush, and Kerry falls behind in the polls, you know his people are going to have to consider taking out Clinton in October. If they don't need that big of a bounce, Carter.

Remember: Project Apollonia and Books for the Kids of Costa Rica

The link appears on the right. Don't let this great opportunity to help a wonderful cause pass you by.

Final Sendoff to Ray Charles Today

He will be missed.

Saudi Response to Paul Johnson's Death

Before the right wing spins it otherwise, MSNBC (not exactly the voice of the liberal media) is reporting that the Saudi world is taking news of the beheaded contractor's death very badly, cursing those who would do this.

I'm sure, however, that Colin Powell will appear on Sunday talk shows saying the Arab world has not shown enough outrage. My bet is by 12:15 PM EDT Sunday. Set your watches.

Ronald Reagan Jr on Dateline Tonight

NBC - might be worth watching.

Russia Steps Forward to Help Bush and Cheney's Spinning

Put simply, "No, really. Russian intelligence said Saddam Hussein would hit the US again soon after the 9/11 attacks."

Again? Saddam never attacked us.

Here's CNN's spin on the subject:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country warned the United States several times that Saddam Hussein's regime was planning terror attacks on the United States and its overseas interests.

Putin's comments in Kazakhstan came amid a new debate in the United States about the extent of ties between Saddam and the al Qaeda terrorist network triggered by a preliminary report from the commission investigating the September 11 attacks.

"I can confirm that after the events of September 11, 2001, and up to the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services and Russian intelligence several times received ... information that official organs of Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian locations," Putin said.
Turns out that Russian bullshit smells no sweeter than American bullshit.

President's Comments on Beheading of Paul Johnson

You know, while I agree with the president that I think most of us feel our hearts and thoughts go out to Paul Johnson's family, Bush came really close not just invoking "Bring 'em on" again, but I forget how many times our dear leader invoked God's name.

As a person of faith who feels that George Bush doesn't have much faith except in power and money, I do resent his constant playing of the God and prayer card.

FrontPage to Editorial Page Disconnect

Max Sawicky rightly notes the kind of newspaper frontpage to editorial page disconnect at the Washington Post that you normally need to read the Wall Street Journal to find.

The Orange Jumpsuit Again

Looking back at footage of Paul Johnson when he was captured and videotaped, before his execution (whether he was beheaded after the fact or not is not known), we see again the US-style orange jumpsuit.

Just for the heck of it, I went to some overseas search engines trying to find places in Iraq and Saudi Arabia that sell orange jumpsuits. So far, none.

No, I'm not saying the orange jumpsuit is significant except that this isn't standard Saudi or Arab wear. It's sort of an American symbol. Why have at least two of the executed captives been wearing them? Is it a statement about Abu Ghraib, just a coincidence, or something more?

Another American, Captive Contractor Paul Johnson, Beheaded

CNN has the horrific news:

Al Qaeda militants fulfilled their promise to kill their American hostage today, posting on an Islamist Web site three photographs of the head and body of Paul Johnson, who was beheaded. "As we promised, we the mujahedeen from the Falluja Squadron slaughtered the American hostage Paul Johnson after the deadline we gave to the Saudi tyrants," a statement site said.


Senate Cuts Wealthy Tax Cut Rollback

Note too from the story I linked to immediately prior to this the following paragraph:

On another amendment, Senate Republicans defeated a proposal by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., to roll back some of President Bush (news - web sites)'s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to help pay for the Iraq war. A similar proposal by Biden was also rejected last year. The 53-44 vote was largely along party lines.

Incompetence Joins Chaos in Contributing to 911 Deaths

From the tapes heard on the final day of hearings before the 911 commission, we heard not just the chaos and terror that day, but of a government system that simply did not work. And yet, as several people have pointed out, not one single person - not the president or VP, not the secretary of defense or the NSA director and no one lower down the ladder rungs - has received even a slap on the hand.

Imagine what it's like for the families to hear. For example, when someone in air control is trying to get someone at the FAA to make a decision about whether these abducted planes need to be shot down, the FAA person hesitates and then reports that everyone has simply left the room. Or that scrambled fighter jets were sent in the WRONG DIRECTION.

Senate OKs 20,000 More Troops, But Who's Gonna Sign Up?

That's a very legitimate question. Enlistment is low and getting lower, bad enough that older troops are being involuntarily called back to duty and those set to retire are being forced to stay.

Note, too, in this story that the Senate did it AGAINST the president's vehement disapproval. Bush is pushing the troops well past the breaking point because he doesn't want to suffer greater disapproval.

Fahrenheit 911 Rates Positive Review from Fox TV Reviewer


Bill O'Reilly may have walked out of the premiere in self-righteous disgust and Bill's ego double and "spiritual" impersonator, Joe Scarbrough on MSNBC, may be threatening to sue producer Michael Moore, while GOP operatives are trying to encourage theaters not to show the film.

Yet Roger Friedman of Fox News actually gave the movie (which debuts a week from today, June 25th) a very good review:

It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail.

As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, "F9/11" — as we saw last night — is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty — and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice.

...But, really, in the end, not seeing "F9/11" would be like allowing your First Amendment rights to be abrogated, no matter whether you're a Republican or a Democrat.

...The most indelible is Bush's reaction to hearing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, that the first plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Bush was reading to a grade-school class in Florida at that moment. Instead of jumping up and leaving, he instead sat in front of the class, with an unfortunate look of confusion, for nearly 11 minutes.

Moore obtained the footage from a teacher at the school who videotaped the morning program. There Bush sits, with no access to his advisers, while New York is being viciously attacked. I guarantee you that no one who sees this film forgets this episode.

More than even "The Passion of the Christ," "F9/11" is going to be a "see it for yourself" movie when it hits theaters on June 25. It simply cannot be missed, and I predict it will be a huge moneymaker.

Bush and Cheney Insist Connections Between Iraq and Al Qaeda

And they say Michael Jackson lives in a fantasy world!

Bush's comments today were hardly convincing. You expected to see perspiration pop out on his forehead in dramatic little beads of flop sweat. He was fishing and going around in circles trying to name evidence of a connection where there is none.

BTW, Has it Really Been a Full Week Since the Last Reagan Funeral?

I got so sick of the coverage that I turned the TV off and have practically yet to turn it back on. The one time I did, I found every station was doing a "10 year anniversary of the OJ murder case", including footage of the infamous Bronco chase.

In a word, sheesh!

"Who Else Can We Bury?" "Can We Put Them in Dick Cheney's Secret Bunker?"

The cynic in me wonders who, in the wake of the slight bounce in approval Mr.Bush is enjoying after the week-long Reagan love-in, the GOP would like to see die in order to increase Mr. Bush's bounce.

Probably not Poppy, because Poppy isn't that well liked among the American people (still, not enough blame him for giving us George). Besides, they could have rigged his parachute not to open last weekend if they were that desperate.

They can't touch Gerald Ford because few people remember him. I, however, have come to respect former Pres. Ford immensely in recent years. He's a very moderate Republican and a much better mind than the old jokes give him credit for.

Henry Kissinger? Nah. Too tainted.

Ronald Reagan Jr., the GOP, and the Reagan Legacy

Ronald Reagan the younger has always impressed me as an intelligent man who chose a different life for himself than that of his famous father, someone who wrestled with some tough questions to find what was right for him rather than simply riding the old man's coattails.

But although the younger Reagan is certainly not the partisan GOP player his father was, it's also very clear that he respects his father deeply.

So I listened when the younger Reagan spoke at his father's service last Friday and again this week when he said President Bush should run on his own record and ambitions and not that of the Reagan the elder.

Now, if Bush and former Pres. Reagan really were that similar - and they are not - I don't think I would have such an issue with the GOP's decision to link the two almost genetically. The great differences between the two men are far larger and more distinct than their likenesses. Just to name a few: Reagan was a pretty traditional conservative while Bush employs a plan of very radical conservativism (big government growth and intrusion COUPLED with massive tax cuts for the richest); Reagan's military involvement was mostly off the books; and Reagan seemed to bridge as many gaps as he busted while Bush draws line after line in the sand and defies anyone to cross it.

While I did not like the US direction (for the most part) under Reagan, I don't think he was nearly as destructive as just the first four years under Bush 43. The elder Reagan was quite the showboater and (like Bush 43) less a cowboy that the media image liked to portray him, but he also exercised far more diplomacy than the current president. Hell, almost anyone else on the planet (save perhaps for Ariel Sharon, Howard Stern, and Courtney Love) exercises more diplomacy than Shrub.

Of course, what is going to be more interesting is whether Nancy Reagan goes along with the Bush/GOP Reagan legacy election vision. If she does, I have no doubt that Bush will ride it right up to voting day.

But if she doesn't (and the president has already indicated he won't reverse himself on the stem cell issue that seems to mean so much to Mrs. Reagan), there are some in the GOP who will likely balk at the idea of cramming the comparisons down the throat of a gracious, loyal widow. However, I doubt very much that Mrs. Reagan would make a public issue out of any displeasure she might feel over the "Bush as spiritual son of Reagan" (not the least of which is that I don't think Mrs. Reagan would want to claim Georgie as her son); she would more likely address the issue through private channels, well off our radar.

Divorce Wars

For a reason which escapes me, I just spent an hour watching "Primetime Live"... or was it "20/20"?... about a high-end couple's bitter, rancid divorce filled with the usual histrionics, the usual cries of "I can't live on a gazillion dollars a month", and a child seemingly all but lost in the process.

I understand that relationships can go bad, but I never understand something like this. If you're unhappy, walk away. Forget about the financial wranglings, who was wrong at any given moment, and who gets the Tiffany serving set.

We've Become One of Those Countries

You know, thosecountries, places where people can disappear without a trace with no accountability. Maybe there's a good reason for holding some people but maybe not - and the system is set up so that nobody speaks out, nobody questions, and maybe such prisoners never get out.

Unfortunately, the U.S. has officially become one of those rogues:

The United States is holding terrorism suspects in more than two dozen detention centers worldwide and about half of these operate in total secrecy, said a human rights report released on Thursday.

Human Rights First, formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said in a report that secrecy surrounding these facilities made "inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely but inevitable."

"The abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib cannot be addressed in isolation," said Deborah Pearlstein, director of the group's U.S. Law and Security program, referring to the U.S. Naval base prison in Cuba and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (news - web sites) where abuses are being investigated.

"This is all about secrecy, accountability and the law," Pearlstein told a news conference.

The report coincided with news that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered military officials to hold a suspect in a prison near Baghdad without telling the Red Cross. Pearlstein said this would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions and Defense Department directives.

Well, That Was Loads of Fun

I breezed through patient check-in, my blood was drawn immediately, my x-rays were almost as fast (by now, I can tell them how I need to be positioned), then came the glorious reality test known as grocery shopping in the Bush economy (I'm not certain which was more expensive: my $120 worth of antibiotics or the milk), and dim sum (not dim son, which would be another Bush reference) on the way home.

I'm not even in a bad mood. However, I also haven't listened to any news about Iraq, Sudan, or the US in three hours which does wonders for one's disposition.

Lies, Bush and the Non-Existent Iraq-Al Qaeda Link

From The Times OpEd page today:

t's hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly yesterday: there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11.

Now President Bush should apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different.

Of all the ways Mr. Bush persuaded Americans to back the invasion of Iraq last year, the most plainly dishonest was his effort to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide. While it's possible that Mr. Bush and his top advisers really believed that there were chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq, they should have known all along that there was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. No serious intelligence analyst believed the connection existed; Richard Clarke, the former antiterrorism chief, wrote in his book that Mr. Bush had been told just that.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration convinced a substantial majority of Americans before the war that Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to 9/11. And since the invasion, administration officials, especially Vice President Dick Cheney, have continued to declare such a connection. Last September, Mr. Bush had to grudgingly correct Mr. Cheney for going too far in spinning a Hussein-bin Laden conspiracy. But the claim has crept back into view as the president has made the war on terror a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

On Monday, Mr. Cheney said Mr. Hussein "had long-established ties with Al Qaeda." Mr. Bush later backed up Mr. Cheney, claiming that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist who may be operating in Baghdad, is "the best evidence" of a Qaeda link. This was particularly astonishing because the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, told the Senate earlier this year that Mr. Zarqawi did not work with the Hussein regime.

The staff report issued by the 9/11 panel says that Sudan's government, which sheltered Osama bin Laden in the early 1990's, tried to hook him up with Mr. Hussein, but that nothing came of it.

This is not just a matter of the president's diminishing credibility, although that's disturbing enough. The war on terror has actually suffered as the conflict in Iraq has diverted military and intelligence resources from places like Afghanistan, where there could really be Qaeda forces, including Mr. bin Laden.

Mr. Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives: either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world.

Postings Probably Will Be Light Today

I get to go spend the afternoon playing around at the hospital. Beware, because I'm apt to return with an even sharper tongue than usual. Grin.

Big, Big Mistake

From CNN:

The Senate rejected a proposal Wednesday to phase out interrogations by civilian contractors at Guantanamo Bay, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

The proposal failed 54 to 43 mostly along party lines. But even opponents of the measure said too many civilians are involved in intelligence gathering.
This should not be in the hands of civilians who operate outside the rules. I'd say it increases chances for problems, increases distrust and outright hatred for Americans, and represents just another of Mr. Rumsfeld's really bad master plans.

At Least 21 Dead

Another car bomb - this one outside an Iraqi recruiting center in Baghdad - has killed nearly two dozen people, and that's just the initial estimate.

Two weeks, one day to handover.


Big Economic Recovery? Where?

Over the past 10 days, I've asked just about everyone I've spoken with the same question, "Do you feel we're having a big economic recovery like the president and media keep telling us?" Without exaggeration, I've probably asked this of more than 200 people.

Now, my audience has not been limited to those geographically close to me. I've put this question over the phone or via e-mail to friends and associates in California, Texas, New Jersey, two in Hawaii, New York, Florida, the Midwest, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Oops, Louisiana, too.

The answers (some of which I'll supply below) have varied a bit in content but each and every one has essentially said NO.


    * "Are you joking? This is the first time in my life I've considered filing bankruptcy."

    * "Well, I was only 25 days late paying my mortgage last month. That's a little better."

    * "It's pretty bad. Only people working around here are military and defense contract employees."

    * "Don't ask when the last time was we went out for dinner, a movie or even a pizza. We cut the extras out over two years ago so we wouldn't dip into savings to get by and now our savings are nearly gone, too. You want frugal? We do our own haircuts, keep the AC off, don't drive anymore than we need to, sold one of the cars, and haven't taken vacation since '98."

    * "I think I missed the recovery."

    * "Even my parents are struggling."

    * "Don't laugh but I'd consider selling porn if I could pay my bills on time."

    * "Absolutely not. My wife and I now work three-and-a-half jobs and earn less than the two jobs we used to have. When the furnace went over the winter, we had to use the kids' college fund."

    * "Gosh, we're back living paycheck to paycheck. One more illness or serious repair would make us tap into the 401Ks. My brother and sister say they're just as strapped. It's really scary."

Nervous Vigil Continues for Captured Contractor

There's no distinct word tonight on the condition of or any efforts to release captured contractor Paul Johnson, Jr. We're more than halfway through the 72 hour deadline before his captors say they will execute him. It's obviously got to be very tough not just for him but his family back home in New Jersey.

The Feds Were Finally Right About a Terrorist Attack

Do you think John Ashcroft is going to charge each of the 9 million angry escaped bees individually or en masse?

Bush Baby's BodyGuards Join in Fistfight, Pull Gun(s)

Doesn't this sound a tad extreme and childish? Do we really need to pull a gun on someone who might (but probably didn't) try to steal Jenna Bush's cell phone?

Oh, the nice part is that our tax dollars pay for this crap. I'm also sure it's going to further endear us to Spain.

BTW. Secret Service? I don't think anyone's likely to steal Jenna either. I mean, would you?

A New Excuse to Bomb the Hell out of Fallujah

An official (oh, that lovely intelligence) says al-Zarqawi may be in residence in Fallujah. Remember how many times we bombed Saddam? We killed lots of other people, but Saddam was never where intelligence said he was.

Bloomberg Refutes Story That NY Plans to "Lose" Homeless for the GOP Convention

This is probably another case where the truth lies somewhere between Bloomberg and homeless advocates. I really can't imagine DeLay - one of the chief architects of the convention - wanting the homeless around the precious GOP or New York wanting to advertise the fact that so few people can afford to live in their city.

However, no self-respecting homeless person would want to get near Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, or Dennis Hastert. Cooties, you know. Self-righteous cooties at that.

For Those Concerned the President Works Too Hard

Skippy points us to a fun picture on DailyKos.

Selective Cheney Secret Bunker Outrage

Atrios sums it up (since I'd read about the bunker at least twice before Time spilled the bunker beans):

So, Time magazine reveals the location of Cheney's secret bunker, which everyone who cared knew anyway, and the White House gets all outraged about it. Of course, last week when the New York Post revealed the location of Cheney's secret bunker, we heard not a peep.

Ah, This Explains the "Cheney Secret Bunker" Interest

See what happens when you choose out of decency and good taste not to read The Drudge Report (remember, it's against my convictions to link to Sludge)?

From Wonkette comes news that Drudge reports the WH is all upset about Time Magazine's outing of Cheney's secret bunker:

Personally, we'd like to stay as far away from Dick Cheney's "secret bunker" as possible, but thanks to Time, anyone with "basic geographical maps" and the inclination to can drop in. Just don't sneak up too fast -- wouldn't want to surprise him.

Drudge reports ("reports"?) that the WH is upset about Time letting the bunker out of the bag: "TIME magazine would have revealed secret the location of Anne Frank, if they knew it." It's a great analogy, because Cheney has also been in hiding from the Nazis -- the "energy policy Nazis," he calls them -- and he's been keeping a diary. Of course, instead of containing things like, "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart," it's just a collection of Halliburton contracts and some doodles of Antonin Scalia shooting ducks.

We expect HarperCollins to be publishing it in October.
I don't think I'd want to go visit anyplace Cheney calls home. Bad energy, you know.

White House Spokesbot Tangos with Press

Josh Marshall has posted one of those telling examples of a press conference where reporters actually try to ask salient questions, only to watch Scott McClellan dance back and forth on one foot or another, tango around Helen Thomas, and generally try not to answer anything definitively on Iraq, Osama and al Qaeda, Geneva Conventions, the outing of Valerie Plame, and that our tax-paid NSA lawyers were used to dig up dirt on Richard Clarke to deflect his criticism of Bush and the WH war machine.

If you like fancy dance steps, it's a lot of fun. If you're looking for honesty and accountability from elected officials, it just makes you ill.

Cost of Reagan's Funeral

People keep asking, so here goes:

    * Cost of riderless horse: $3500
    * Taxpayer cost for Reagan's full funeral: About $40 MILLION
    * Free publicity advantage to the Bush Reelection campaign? Priceless!

No Link Between Al Qaeda and Iraq - None, Nada, Zero

Do you think that will stop Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush from citing the connection again and again? No way!

Do you think even anyone will raise the specter of impeachment for lying to the leadup to war? Hell, no.

Time to Increase Bill Safire's Senility Meds

Safire is back today with another of his imagined columns, "What would Dick Nixon Do?". You know, like someone besides Safire and perhaps Bob Dole still care what Nixon would have done about anything. Hell, I've run into several reasonably intelligent 20-somethings who don't even flicker a hint of recognition at Nixon's name. Oh, the infamy.

This time the subject is Iraq, Bill Clinton, and advice for John Kerry on winning Election 2004. If a dead Nixon can give advice to a Democrat about elections in the Bush era, you might as well spank me and call me Marie Antoinette.

Bill? We might be able to get Peggy Noonan to scoot her bony little ass over on the loon bush so you can sit between her and Krauthammer, if we can get her to stop gushing about Reagan long enough to get her attention. Doubtful. Unfortunately, Krauthammer can't psychoanalyze her because she's not a Democrat and because he only finds pathology in blue state folks.

(I won't share with you my belief that Charles Krauthammer and who knows, maybe even Safire himself, dress up like J. Edgar in drag on weekends. I know Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity must.)


The CIA Ate Their Homework, Too

Also from CNN, the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the run-up to the Iraq War is critizing what it says are CIA efforts to so heavily redact reports that you can barely see propositions and punctuations anymore, let alone content.

The truth may lie somewhere between the CIA and this committee: Pat Roberts who heads the Senate committee and very partisan, and usually defends the President, while the President and company always points to the CIA and says, "It was my little brother, not me!"

Guess that "Buck Stops Here" plaque left Washington, DC loooonnnggg ago.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Someone from the campaign posted a note in Comments that I'm re-posting here so that those interested will be sure to see it:

Did you know that the tobacco industry spends $100,000 PER DAY lobbying Congress? Is it any surprise then that there's a $10 billion sweetheart deal for Big Tobacco hidden in a corporate tax bill called the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) bill?

A few days ago, some powerful Members of Congress attached a tobacco buyout to the FSC bill in the House. This scheme is billed as helping tobacco farmers, but it really benefits tobacco companies by reducing the price of tobacco and increasing their profits. The twist in this proposal is that the taxpayers, not the tobacco companies, will pay $9.6 billion for the buyout - and the tobacco companies will end up with cheaper tobacco!

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is encouraging people to take action and email their Senators at this link:

Just two weeks ago, Surgeon General Richard Carmona released a new report that said smoking is even more deadly than we ever thought. Congress needs to respond to that report by taking action to protect the public health - not Big Tobacco's bottom line.

Laci Peterson, CNN, and Court TV's Nancy Grace

I've managed to avoid the destraction of the trial for Laci Peterson's husband (she was found dead along with her newborn baby last year) but tonight, I got stuck watching Larry King, which reminded me once again that former prosecutor and current cracker (and I don't mean Ritz) CourtTV host Nancy Grace has never met a suspect she didn't know was guilty or a man she doesn't hate.

Just look at the faces she makes as she talks. There is nothing classy about this woman. The only pleasure I take in her is that she's no longer prosecuting cases where there's supposed to be the presumption of innocence. I just wish we weren't exposed to her negativity whenever there's any legal case considered on CNN.

Now, this is no reflection on Scott Peterson or this particular case. I have no idea if he's guilty. But with Nancy, she convicts everyone right out of the gate. Beyond that, she's obnoxious, self-righteous, and just plain crude and mean. Her type of prosecutor is someone who decides immediately that the suspect is guilty then does everything she can to prove it, never letting facts get in the way.

Come to think of it, the so-called "Amazing" Grace is so detestable that Tom DeLay might want to consider marrying her when he follows that great Congressional tradition of dumping the first wife who helped him advance. Before Court TV, the only TV show that would have this woman (and I use the term loosely) as a guest was Geraldo, which tells you something right there.

Has the War on Terror in Afghanistan Been Won? Bush Says YES!

Right now, 85% of CNN's 40K respondents say No.

I'm amazed 135% aren't voting No. Bush really has to touch base with reality occasionally.

Bad Attitude, Bad Hairpiece, Bad Man

This really couldn't happen to a less decent human being, but I have no doubt that he'll slither free of this and even more serious allegations floating about. Snakes have a notorious way of crawling out from under things. From CNN:

A freshman Democrat -- already defeated for re-election -- filed an ethics complaint Tuesday against House Republican leader Tom DeLay.

"It's my opinion Mr. DeLay is the most corrupt politician in America today," Rep. Chris Bell of Texas said after filing the complaint, which stretches to 187 pages, including copies of tax forms, newspaper articles and other supporting material.

Bell's filing ended a seven-year informal ethics truce between the parties, in place since ethics charges destroyed the careers of two sitting speakers -- Democrat Jim Wright and Republican Newt Gingrich...

The complaint is three-pronged. It accuses DeLay of wrongdoing in his dealings with Westar Energy Corp., which contributed money to Republicans, the complaint alleges, in the hopes of getting "a seat at the table" on pending legislation. It also accuses DeLay of illegally funneling corporate contributions to candidates for state offices in Texas. Finally, it alleges DeLay used his influence to get the Federal Aviation Administration to help track a plane carrying Texas Democratic legislators as they fled the state to derail a vote on redistricting.[Ed. note: emphasis mine]

Iraqis Don't Love Us or Our "Freedom"

Aaron Brown on CNN tonight is referring to a poll commissioned by the Coalitional Provisional Authority that shows a majority of Iraqis (more than twice that of a January poll) don't like us, don't trust us, and would feel safer if we went home.

Probably the only relatively large surprise here is that only 29% would like to see al-Sadr made head of the country and that just 30% would like a return to Saddam's rule. Of course, this leaves us wondering what the other 41% want. Combine the 29 and the 30% and you have well over a majority of the country wanting someone to head the country that the U.S. has identified as bad little campers.

I didn't hear any mention of Chalabi in the poll. Cough.

I Gave Up Smoking for This?

It seems like whenever I discover a message on my voice mail late in the evening, the news isn't good. It's never a dear old friend calling out of the blue or hearing (for real), "You've won!"

Tonight, it was my doctor who - although he's a very nice, gentle man - used nasty words like "problematic" and "perhaps not as innocuous as scar tissue" and "surgical intervention." The first step is to try to drain the lung while under fluoroscopy to see if there's a liquid component, but the last time this happened, I developed an often fatal process called "Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome", something that happens so rarely, one really can't anticipate it. Luckily then, I escaped the week or two on a ventilator in induced drug coma required for most to survive.

There's no telling that this would happen again but there's also no certainty that it won't. ARDS usually occurs as a result of lung trauma - sepsis, serious pneumonia, or surgical procedure. This is a bad enough possibility that my mind hasn't even moved past to consider what it means if the huge occlusion in my lung isn't liquid or scar tissue because I'm stuck on the danger inherent in just going further in the diagnostic process.

I'm not even quite sure why I'm sharing this information, to be truthful. But I will tell you I wouldn't wish ARDS on my worst enemy. Grin.

Kidnapped American Contractor

From CNN:

A videotape posted on the Internet Tuesday shows a man who identified himself as Paul Johnson, an American contractor missing in Saudi Arabia. A gunman in the video said Johnson will be killed unless Saudi Arabia frees al Qaeda prisoners and Westerners leave the Arabian peninsula within 72 hours.


Sorry, I don't see John McCain as the answer for the Democrats. While Senator McCain has many strong points and he served his country, he's too much of a loose cannon.

Remember, we're just one pretzel choke or serious bicycle fall away from having Dick Cheney as president now. What happens if Kerry wins, happens to drop dead, and we're left with McCain as top dog.

Sure, there are worse possibilities, but Democrats should be able to find an acceptable candidate from within their own party. Were McCain not a Republican (i.e., an Independent even), I might not have such an issue.

Frankly, however, none of the VP candidates inspire me. Edwards speaks well. Clark has good points. Bill Richardson I'd have some issues with because of the way he headed the DoE. Dick Gephardt's something of a dead horse. But none, when added to Kerry, fire me up for the November election.

Southern Baptists Split from World Alliance

Calling the global association of Baptists leaning too far to the liberals, the Southern Baptive Convention of some 16.4 million has broken ranks with them.

Specifically, the Southern Baptists - addressed personally during their convention for the third straight year by George W. Bush - say that global Baptists believing there is error possible within the Bible and that gays have a right to marry and exist is just unacceptable.

I keep wanting to make a joke here but there's nothing funny about this. Yes, I understand this is a very deep matter: personal faith. But to me, the Southern Baptist position seems to say that to love God, you have to hate just about everything except the Bible. It seems like a huge evolutional step backward.

VP "Dick" Cheney Once Again Links Saddam to al Qaeda

Another reason to browse Wonkette occasionally:

Yesterday, Vice President Dick Cheney repeated the assertion that Saddam Hussein had "long-established ties" with al-Qaida. "He was a patron of terrorism," Cheney told an audience at conservative think-tank in Florida. "He had long established ties with al-Qaida."

Asked to defend his claims -- which have been largely discredited by policy experts and denounced by members of Congress -- Cheney demonstrated the administration's latest approach to intelligence gathering, putting his fingers in his ears and singing, "La-la-la-la-la! I can't hear you!"

"Meet Joe Blog"

Time Magazine has a minimally interesting piece up for the June 21st issue on blogging.

My biggest criticism - besides that everyone references Drudge first and always calls him a journalist which is sorta like confusing a disease-ridden prostitute with Mother Teresa - is that it says we're totally biased. It's not that some blogs aren't notably biased (even this one - for example, if you haven't notice, I don't believe Mr. Bush is a very good president or hell, even an especially wonderful biped), but that the media itself is horribly biased while screaming "fair and balanced".

Now I really have to get back to work. Believe it or not, unlike Drudge and Noonan and Will and that miserable Mickey Kaus, nobody pays me to sit here and pontificate.

Odd Note: Cheney's Secret Bunker

While I don't know what would have spurred this, I've noticed that most Web searches in the past 24 hours here are looking for information on a story I ran about someone else's story concerning details about Cheney's secret bunker (details from the press - not something I dug up, tyvm).

This disclosure is tendered here for the sudden influx of Washington, DC-area federal agencies showing up in my web log. Cough. You folks, of course, are welcome here. But please remember that I'm a private citizen exercising her First Amendment rights.

Oh yeah, and I look really awful in leg chains and attached to electrical shock equipment. Grin. However, I survived 12 years of the Reagan-Bush I admin, and 4 years of limp biscuit current installed at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, so I figure I can get through almost anything.

Batter Dipped French Fries = Health Food?

The government has ruled that batter-dipped french fries should be classified as a fresh vegetable.

What's fresh about it? The batter? The oil used to deep fry them?

This is about as bad as when I used to argue that ketchup counted as a daily serving of vegetables. It does but... your body really doesn't see it that way.

We Work Harder; Congress Barely Shows Up

From the American Prospect(thanks to The Hamster for the link):

With the House and Senate shut down on Friday for the funeral of former President Ronald Reagan, lawmakers lost yet more time on the expiring congressional calendar...

This shrinking legislative window wouldn’t be as much of a problem if Congress hadn’t been inactive for so much of this year. As House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer noted last month, House members have worked “bankers’ hours” in 2004; they may put in less face time than in 1998, when representatives reported for work in the nation’s capital just 119 times. (That’s one out of every three days for a year.) It would be merely ironic that lawmakers might spend more time this year trying to hold onto their jobs than actually doing those jobs, if so much important legislation -- the budget for fiscal year 2005 and the six-year transportation reauthorization bill, among other things -- were not sitting idle.

“Republicans have made it clear that ‘doing nothing’ is their campaign strategy,” Hoyer said. “Republican leaders have publicly stated that they don’t intend to do much this year, and plan to coast until the November election.”

But as the clock winds down on the 108th Congress, GOP leaders may be deciding it’s time to get serious. A Republican House staffer told Roll Call this month that lawmakers could soon be working -- gasp! -- “perhaps five-day weeks.” Senators may even have to come back to work after the White House’s congressional barbecue on Tuesday night, the newspaper reported.
Wow, five days a week! Maybe even for a few hours each of those days? And they make a king's ransom, between the $150K base salary and all those special treats and perks and speaking engagements and... and... and...

A Travesty of Justice, Writes Krugman

Paul Krugman is correct, I think: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history, a grave shame since there are so many talented people who could handle the job with far less partisanship, intrusion of personal beliefs and prejudices, and far greater intellectual prowess. The good people serving beneath Ashcroft deserve better, as do the American people.

Here are a few notable highlights from today's column, which I encourage you to read:

For this column, let's just focus on Mr. Ashcroft's role in the fight against terror. Before 9/11 he was aggressively uninterested in the terrorist threat. He didn't even mention counterterrorism in a May 2001 memo outlining strategic priorities for the Justice Department. When the 9/11 commission asked him why, he responded by blaming the Clinton administration, with a personal attack on one of the commission members thrown in for good measure.

We can't tell directly whether Mr. Ashcroft's post-9/11 policies are protecting the United States from terrorist attacks. But a number of pieces of evidence suggest otherwise.

First, there's the absence of any major successful prosecutions. The one set of convictions that seemed fairly significant — that of the "Detroit 3" — appears to be collapsing over accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. (The lead prosecutor has filed a whistle-blower suit against Mr. Ashcroft, accusing him of botching the case. The Justice Department, in turn, has opened investigations against the prosecutor. Payback? I report; you decide.)

Then there is the lack of any major captures. Somewhere, the anthrax terrorist is laughing. But the Justice Department, you'll be happy to know, is trying to determine whether it can file bioterrorism charges against a Buffalo art professor whose work includes harmless bacteria in petri dishes.

Perhaps most telling is the way Mr. Ashcroft responds to criticism of his performance. His first move is always to withhold the evidence. Then he tries to change the subject by making a dramatic announcement of a terrorist threat.

Blood Supply Reaching Summer Lows

If you're physically able to do so, this is a great time to donate blood. Some cities, like New York, are already reporting shortages that usually don't appear until deeper into official summer.

If you were one of the people who wanted to donate after 9/11 and got turned away, consider doing it now. After all, you don't have to wait for a tragedy to help your neighbor.

Bush's Him-Too Strategy

Catch EJ Dionne's column in The Washington Post.

Sharon Dodges Corruption Charges

Israel has announced its dropping the corruption case against Ariel Sharon. I'm certain Bush will phone him later and say, "Yeah, I don't let them get me on anything either. We rule!"

Each New Enron Tape is Worse Than the Last One

California senator Barbara Boxer and others are calling for an inquiry, but the GOP fatcats are staying notably mute on the subject.

However, the tapes seem proof positive that Enron - and Ken Lay had at least one or more meetings with The Arnold during that critical summer - was deliberately trying to self-destruct California and its then governor, Gray Davis.

We can't make the mistake of thinking Enron is unusual either. These are the companies who financed Mr. Bush's election.


Restless with the Relative Peace in Israel in the Past Few Weeks...

Ariel Sharon has decided to turn up the heat:

Israel has expropriated thousands of acres of Palestinian farmland deep in the West Bank for the most controversial segment of its separation barrier, Palestinian officials said Monday.

The military, meanwhile, said it is taking down a few of the roadblocks that have disrupted West Bank life for more than three years -- though the main obstacles to Palestinian travel remain in place.

Israel began building the barrier last year, to keep out Palestinian militants who have killed hundreds of Israelis since the outbreak of fighting in 2000. In some areas, the trenches, walls and fences run near Israel's old frontier with the West Bank, but elsewhere dip deep into the territory claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.

The latest land seizures are part of construction of a barrier segment near the Israeli settlement of Ariel, in the heart of the West Bank.

Turning a Funeral into a Political Party: Evil with Wellstone, Perfect for Reagan

Liberal Oasis tackles a subject that has been rankling me for a few days as I watched the Bushies - along with an all too helpful mainstream media - turn Ronald Reagan's funeral into a week long right-wing campaign rally.

Even before neoconman Bill Kristol said yesterday that President Bush should take advantage of the situation, you were hearing quiet mumblings about this among the right as they got exclusive airtime non-stop last week under the guise of Reagan remembrances. The more to the right of the lunatic fringe the devotees were last week (Bill Bennett, Peggy "Loony" Noonan, Henry "War Criminal" Kissenger, Ed Meese, Oliver North, et al), the more apt their opinion on Reagan was sought.

I still don't think Paul Wellstone's was the great political rally that the right made it out to be. It certainly paled in comparison to went on last week. But Kristol and other invoke Wellstone as justification for taking the politicization to a whole new level with Reagan's death and so-called legacy.

You don't have to be a liberal or a Reagan-hater to find last week's slavish behavior by the media obscene. Several Republican friends and associates have voiced surprise and irritation - and some, were flat out appalled - at the 24/7 constant coverage, the bringing out of Republicans who were completely discredited during the Reagan years (there were a LOT of investigations and a few convictions, as some may recall, over Iran Contra and other issues).

And unlike Wellstone, where the right made it clear they saw him as a loon, Democrats joined last week in the praise of Reagan, most hardly mentioning any of the severe problems with that administration. It was all blind devotion, with the emphasis on blind.

Jennifer Lopez Limbaugh? Rush Limbaugh Lopez?

She's been married for about 10 days now. She's got to be ready for a change.

Now that the big guy is getting a divorce, you have to admit that these two would make a GREAT couple. She could help him in any pursuits he may have to dress up in glamourous women's clothing, and kick the crap out of him, while he could shower her with gifts and introduce her to all the best doctors and pharmacies in Palm Beach.

For each, it would be their fourth marriage. Now there's family values. After all, we need to keep weddings away from gays so respectable, upstanding heterosexuals like these can make a mockery of "til death do us part."

Rough Voting Come November

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Florida has announced that its voting machines have a problem that may very well preclude any kind of manual recount in key counties that drew so much contest and controversy during the 2000 political election.

Now, I'm just absolutely as positive as I can be that this in NO WAY except sheer coincidence has anything to do with the fact that the president's brother is the governor of Florida, that Jeb supposedly was NOT invited to Thanksgiving 2000 dinner with the Bush clan for his fuckup in not delivering Florida in as smooth a steal as the Bush people wanted, or that George's failure in November could spell a harder time for Jeb and his platinum spoon.

Remember, too, Jeb's already ordered another purging of voter roles for anyone who even sounds like the name of a convicted felon. And also remember that Florida is fighting CNN and probably other news agencies who want access to determine exactly who is getting purged.

Finally, Salon reports that the League of Women Voters have withdrawn their support of paperless voting machines. Good for them. I suspect, sadly, however that among fervent Bush supporters, there are more than a few knuckle-draggers who feel that women shouldn't be allowed to vote anyway, who would love to see a return to a system that allowed only white males who owned considerable property to cast votes. Hell, look at the Texas GOP platform and it's practically a throwback to five decades ago.

Nightline: Power Still Not Plenty in Iraq

Nightline has two interesting pieces up tonight, one about a soldier who's believed to have been held hostage for more than two months (since around the time of that convoy attack that created so many fatalities and bedlam) and the issue about how often power is out in Iraq.

Now, around this time of year, Iraq's temps go up above 100 degrees regularly during the height of daylight. Imagine spending hours a day, if not whole days, without the ability to run so much as a ceiling fan, let alone an air conditioner. Consider how that one small issue - and power was FINE in Iraq until we arrived - for a second straight summer could have a profound impact on the level of frustration, violence, and anti-Americanism.

Dave Maresh tells us the biggest problem in Iraq - a country with so many problems - is insecurity in its many forms. One of the few booming businesses there now are private security firms.

Sadly, no one's seen or heard of the captured soldier for nearly as long as he's been held. He's the only one unaccounted for from that period of time.

Ray Charles

Slate has a nice piece on Ray Charles up.

Smarter Look at Bush's Request to the Pope

After I posted my piece a short while ago, I happened over to Talking Points Memo and saw that Josh Marshall discusses the subject far more in depth, including stem cell research which I'd neglected to discuss (but which has to be a major part of the "activism" Bush wants).

I encourage you to stop by Josh's and read it yourself.

Pop Quiz: Who Said This?

"God does not play dice with the universe."

What do you get if you win?

Uh, I was afraid you would ask this.

Er... how about our undying respect? Short of that, I'd be happy to split a bowl of Grape Nuts with you as long as you don't insist on putting sugar on the cereal.

Our Lady of Perpetual Political Meddling Perpetuated by People Who Probably Believe Catholics aren't Christians Anyway

There's been grudging admission from sources in and around Vatican City that President Bush has asked for the Pope's uh... encouragement to get American Catholic bishops to better go along with his policies.

Frankly, this stinks worse than fish left over unrefrigerated from last week's meatless Friday (and before you think I'm just bashing, understand that I spent my first 18 years NOT eating meat on Fridays because of the Catholic tradition).

Lately, there's been quite a bit of meddling on both sides of the supposed Separation of Church and State. Democrats have been targeted by some bishops - and I say targeted because we've heard none of this standard applied to Catholics like Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge, and George Pataki - who say that communion (a most sacred rite) should be withheld from them because they "support" either gay marriage or a woman's right to choose or both. A bishop in Colorado took this a leap further by saying communion should not be given to any Catholic who votes for a candidate who supports choice.

Now, granted, the Pope jumped in a lot during the leadup to the Iraq War, too. However, you do rather expect the Pope or any major religious leader of any faith (hopefully) to appeal against bloodshed and strife. That's a little different from having bishops insert themselves politically in an issue than can affect voting in November since the Pope didn't say, "if you support this war, you can't get communion".

I think we're no longer just on a slippery slope - we're full-fledged hanging on to a skinny branch before we fall irretrievably into the abyss.

As someone who believes in God, I understand to some degree how one's faith affects other issues in one's life. But we've really come to a time now where someone else's faith affects issues in other people's lives, and not always in a wonderfully positive way. Notably:

    * We're having people say that a woman cannot choose control over her own body because their God says it's wrong.

    * The FDA cancelled the sale of "the morning after" pill even after their scientific advisory board approved it due to pressure from religious groups that didn't want it, while at least one pharmacist has refused to provide a woman with a "morning after" pill prescription because it was "immoral".

    * We're watching communities struggle with whether to allow more than 10 percent of the US population have the freedom to marry because some people feel gay marriage is illegal and a crime against their God.

    * There's a huge fight because one judge spirited a huge "10 commandments" sculpture into a state building and then refuses to remove it.

    * A general tells us that our president was appointed by God and not by voters.

    * We have a president who feels God talks to him and tells him what to do (and I don't mean metaphorically either).

    * The Supremes today effectively - through default - sanctions the endorsement of one specific religion (I don't buy this iffy, generic deism crap - we're talking the God of Scalia) in the pledge of allegiance.

And this is merely the public-covered tip of the iceberg.

You Have to Love Wingnuts

    "Doesn't Patti Davis own an iron? She's been wearing wrinkled clothes for days."

    "Patti's over 40. Somebody tell her to cut her hair."

    "Really. The Clintons were both asleep during the Gipper's Funeral! They have no shame."

    "I heard Clinton was getting a blow-job in the back of the cathedral after the funeral."

    "Why was Joan Rivers there? She's a [deleted] Jew with a filty mouth!"

    "They shouldn't have even allowed Ronald Reagan Jr. into the funeral. He's gay, for chrissake!"
These are just some of the intelligent remarks I've heard either through Fox News or read (mostly as user comments) on some wingnut sites in the past week.

I'm sure they'd all tell you they're righteous (with the emphasis on right) Christians, too.

Oops! I forgot one:
    * Chelsea Clinton is such a dog. And notice she doesn't look a thing like Bill.

Coca Cola's New C2 "Thrilling"

I've seen three ads today referring to Coca Cola's new reduced carb drink as "thrilling" and "stimulating."

You know, soda can be many things, including too effervescent, too sweet, too expensive, and too bad for your teeth. But thrilling? Can you imagine how bad your life would have to be to perceive a new soda as thrilling?

I can't, actually, even when the most exciting thing I've done in four days is step on a snake barefoot and work on a tech book proposal. With that, even Larry King seems closer to "thrilling" (with his exclusive array of guests over the age of 70 - and often over 90) than a bottle of overpriced sugar water.

Reagan Spam

Since two days after his death, my mailbox runneth over with Reagan memorabilia... a/k/a Crap. There's the:

    * Reagan commemorative coin
    * The "one more for the Gipper" t-shirt
    * The Reagan bobblehead
    * A "Bedtime for Bonzo" coffee mug
    * A Reagan-style cowboy hat
    * The "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall" plaque
    * Special postcards from "your favorite Ronald Reagan movies" (do we have favorite Reagan movies?)
Personally, I'm waiting for the Reagan urinal, the Reagan-white-and-blue toilet paper, and the "Screw the Hondurans" commemorative soup mug.

Give the Military a Living Wage

With news last week than more than $100 million was lost in unused tickets at the Pentagon (at a time when our soldiers can't get all the way back from Iraq without help because Mr. Rumsfeld won't pay), and what we know already in the huge amounts so that Wolfowitz and others can fly first class, plus the usual economic abuse, I find myself wondering again and again why we can't pay our soldiers a living wage?

Whether I believe in our current wars or not is immaterial. These people join, get ordered wherever the government wants them to go, and they're just too often short-changed both during and after their service. They deserve so much better. They get called in to do what many of us could not or would not do.

Sure, I'm glad there are many good voluntary programs that give soldiers, sailors, marines, et al discounts or assistance, but if we can pay millionaires hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for the top jobs, if we can pay billions for contractors, we can pay our armed forces decent wages.

It's Bush's Economy, Stupid!

That's the word from BushRecall.org:

It's Bush's Economy, Stupid

White House officials can't seem to understand why, despite modestly positive jobs numbers, the American public doesn't support President Bush's economic plan. The answer is simple - recent minor progress doesn't even begin to undo the mess that the Bush team has created. A few shovelfuls of dirt can't possibly fill in a hole that's been growing for three years.

A recent Washington Post-ABC poll revealed that a strong majority - 54 percent - of Americans disapprove of the way that President Bush has handled the economy, and with good reason. Check out these statistics:
    - 8.2 million Americans are unemployed - an increase of 2.2 million people since the beginning of the Bush administration.

    - 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost, and manufacturing employment is at a 53-year low.

    - The average out-of-work American is unemployed for five months - the longest average unemployment length in 20 years.

    - There is a tremendous amount of underemployment - more and more unemployed Americans are turning to part-time jobs to make ends meet.

    - New jobs pay an average of 21 percent less than the jobs we've lost under the Bush administration.

    - Meanwhile, costs are on the rise. Health care costs for families are up almost 50 percent; Gas prices are up nearly 25 percent; College tuition costs have jumped by 35 percent in many cases; Oil prices are at a 23 year high.
This is powerful evidence that the Bush economic plan of massive tax cuts and worrying about it later has not benefited average Americans. After three years of fiscal irresponsibility, we must start worrying about it now.

Take action! Get the word out. Use these statistics in a letter to the editor to your local newspaper. Make sure that your friends, neighbors and co-workers know the real figures, and not the White House's weak talking points.

"And They Call It Puppy Loo-oo-oove..."

This is priceless.
We stole this from Wonkette. We don't know whom she stole it from.

Barbie Clothes for Women

Wow! Mattel is launching a line of clothing just for women.

We can be a nurse, or a fashion model, or a bimbo dressed all in pink!!! Now only if we were all 6'2, with 10 inch waists, and huge, plastic, molded boobs that never sag! Oh wait, I'm sure there's some kind of surgery that allows that.

Supremes Dodge a Bullet; Leave None Happy

The Supreme Court decided to avoid having to say that "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional (and the very dodging makes you think that indeed, that's exactly what they found yet did not want to say). Instead, they ruled that the father did not have the standing to bring the lawsuit.

But if not the father, than whom? Can small children bring a court suit to the Supremes? If the child waits until the age of majority, they'll say the "damage" is too old.


Have We Forgotten About Chalabi?

Since just before Reagan died, we've had virtually no news about Chalabi.

Wouldn't it seem wise - if he really is suspected of doing all these terrible things (and that depends on who is talking, of course) - that we attempt to question him before the turnover of power (right, like that's real) on the 30th?

Or maybe there's just too much we don't want Mr. Chalabi to tell us... at least in a venue where the public can hear. Let's face it: there always was rather an unholy alliance between us (and by us, I really mean extended BushCo) and Chalabi. That whole raid/search of his house still seems like more of a shake-up warning to him than anything else. But was the point to make him shut up, or to get him to flee to Iran where he would be considered more treasonous by the American public so that if he did talk out, we wouldn't listen?

And why, oh why, is this of so little import to anyone now? I mean, it's been two full days since we had another Reagan funeral.

I Have Some Extremely Bad News to Report.

Yes. It's Monday.

The Cicadas Are Gone? What About the Snakes?

Max tells us the cicadas are gone except for carcasses (and you must see his accompanying picture - REALLY).

But what about me? We got no cicadas here.

Instead, I have snakes. Lots and lots and lots of snakes. No, I don't mean wingnuts and Bush's people, I mean the actual kind - different shapes, colors, and level of boldness. Unfortunately, some of them appear to be very pregnant (or they've just eaten Rush Limbaugh). I've gotten so I don't want to walk outside because they're everywhere (though it's certainly curbed my tendency to go outdoors barefoot): on the guest house porch, by the front door, along the path, in the garden, on my shoe...

Seriously, I'll trade you dozens of snakes for a thousand or two cicada. That's a great deal, really. Just send me your mailing address. Short of that, I may send them down to Washington so Bush can help staff his second term cabinet.

Oh wait... if you want the snakes, you'll actually need to come here and pick them up yourselves. And this offer does not apply if you think Rush Limbaugh is a god because I can only imagine where you would place them. I hate to discriminate but sometimes, you just have to be responsible.

Hesiod Rests His Case

I happened to wander past TBogg tonight for my missed installment of "America's Worse Mother" (Meghan Gurdon bites the big one, but TBogg's rendition is always sooo good), when I caught word that Hesiod at Counterspin is hanging up the blogging pen:

LAST POST: Just wanted to let everybody know that my family and I are OK. I'm not locked up in Guantanamo or anything.

I just decided for personal reasons that the time was right for me to stop blogging.
Sure, I can understand his decision. Believe it or not, blogging isn't always fun. For every one of the great, thought-provoking messages you get, there are at least 5-10 in which someone - usually someone who didn't pay much attention in school - calls you names, suggests you die, or offers to help you in that pursuit. Invoke Rush Limbaugh's name in less than glowing terms, for example, and his dittoheads manage to summon up just enough capability to locate your site and let loose. It's also a bit of work.

But Hesiod's been a passionate voice in the blogtopia (didn't Skippy coin that phrase?) for two years. He was one of the first blogs - along with Media Whores Online and Talking Point Memos - that I found and he's been a regular stop in my surfing.

I do hope he'll return. We need every independent voice who's willing to speak.

The Nerve of the Red Cross

Atrios sums it up nicely (and yes, the header is sarcastic):

Drudge is all excited because apparently the Red Cross says we should charge Saddam with something or let him go.

What do they think we are? A nation of laws?
Trust me, it's not out of any sympathy for Saddam (whom Reagan supported, please remember). But we've been playing fast and loo-oo-oo-oo-se with every law imaginable. Remember, too, that while you're cursing the Red Cross for this outrage, they're there protecting our soldiers' and detainees' interests as well.

Today, there was even some hedging on the Sunday talk show circuit as to whether we'd hand Saddam over to the "new" Iraqi government. I understand that the US wants assurances that Saddam won't just be let go, but Saddam's principle ill behavior was against his own people. Shouldn't they try him?

The CIA Ate My Homework

Before, after, and during George Tenet's resignation, the standard explanation for anything this adminstration is caught doing awry is, "It's the CIA's fault."

I have no doubt that - with word out that Colin Powell is very upset over the incorrect report telling us that global terrorism was way down when it was in fact way up (who the hell would have thought it was down?) - the CIA will be charged with supplying the wrong information on the terrorism report, too.

The problem is, however, that while they can keep saying "it's the CIA's fault", these same people always cite - with a straight face - intelligence from the CIA when they want us to believe that Osama bin Laden is here, that we need additional funding there,or that we should be scared shitless over a new terror alert.

It would seem counterintuitive that you can have it both ways: the CIA both incredibly incompetent and yet our most credible source for information.

Now, since I was a kid, I've always been sort of allergic to the whole idea of the NSA and CIA and all the spooks therein. Yet I'm strangely now in the position of feeling a degree of sympathy for the CIA - and Tenet himself - because they're always the fall guy. Always. Condi does nothing wrong. Rummy is brilliant. Ashcroft is astounding. Bush is brilliant. But the CIA, while it can do no wrong, also can do no right.

I find this paradox sort of non-useful. What about you?

If You Understand the Most Recent Fuss about Michael Moore

...perhaps you could explain it to me. I don't seem to grok why any investigation of what public officials do has become treasonous.

Yeah, Blair has indeed been Mr. Bush's lapdog. I think he chose this road because he felt it was in Britain's best interest to align itself with the most powerful empire: the United States. That neither excuses him from responsibility over Iraq nor makes him the worst of the culprits. But I think he's fair game for investigation.

Howard Stern, the FCC, and Attempts to Shut Him Up

This isn't the first time I've written about the hullabaloo concerning Howard Stern and the FCC's attempts to quiet him through massive fines. Again, I'll state that I'm by no means a Howard Stern fan or a connoisseur of the types of shows fascinated with female breast augmentation, anorexic women, or lesbian mud wrestling.

However, I also don't think the FCC exists simply to make the broadcast word sound prettified and nice. In public, you won't hear President Bush say "fuck" or "asshole", but that doesn't completely obscure the negativism and hate for anything he doesn't like. In real life, people sometimes use strong language, bare parts of their anatomy, and say outlandish, bone-headed things.

The FCC's timing of Stern's latest condemnation comes a little too close on the heels upon which Stern began to question the president. Stern, often in the past seeming to sit on the right hand of George Pataki, George Bush, and Christie Todd Whitman as well as The Arnold, suddenly began making noises that he'd read Al Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars..." and had a revelation that Mr. Bush should not be allowed to retain his presidency.

Now, there was also the non-controversy of Janet Jackson's nipple around the same time, which makes it hard to say fairly whether Stern is just being swept up in the "righteousness" of the moment (I was unaware that God personally endorsed the SuperBowl or that the violence of the sport was something parents encouraged their younger children to watch) or really was targeted for his sudden change in personal politics.

What is clear, however, is that because the FCC and the heavy Bush supporter Clear Channel decided to hammer Howard Stern when they did has made him more rather than less vitriolic. Stern now discusses Bush and Ashcroft's rotten politics almost as often as he consults on how big a breast implant a woman needs. Had they not hammered him, Howard may have very quickly gotten off his anti-Bush kick.

But Howard himself is almost incidental. The FCC under Michael Powell has been horrible and political. They've decided the airwaves don't belong to the American people, as was always thought in the past, and are something to be sold outright to the highest bidder, like Clear Channel. They've all but made it impossible for small independent stations to get on the air since they've had a moratorium on assignments for some time. The only voice the FCC seems to want on the airwaves are people like Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, Bill O'Reilly, and others who make a sham of American values and play to fear, hate, and only the merest semblance of decency.

In this respect, Michael Powell's FCC is far more indecent than Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction", Howard's aging adolescent diatribe, and the like. Unfortunately, we seem to be lambs happily led to corporate slaughter these days. It seems increasingly unlike that the public will wake up and take charge. This definitely can't happen if Bush is re-elected, and may not be saved if Kerry is installed either.

Corporations talk with money, and currency has become the most valued "value" of all.

Kerry: Damned if He Does, Damned if He Doesn't

Out of respect for Reagan's death, Kerry's campaign announced last week it was adopting a low profile. If he hadn't, the Republicans would have been all over him even though Bush 43 used the seven-day pageantry as one long campaign rush. And regardless, the media was so completely wrapped up in non-critical, sugar-coated rememberances of Reagan that they wouldn't have noticed Kerry anyway. For example, there was almost no attention that Kerry attended the funeral.

Today, the press is all over Kerry for taking a week off, saying he's lost valuable momentum, did a bone-headed thing, isn't serious... yadda yadda yadda. Of course, these same sources were not at all critical of how Bush 43 behaved.

I don't even like Kerry that much, but it doesn't take an ardent Democrat to notice a completely uneven playing field and totally one-way criticism.

Don't Go in a Huff, Georgie. Just GO.

Gee, these people don't seem to like Bush 43rd. It's hard to imagine! (rolling eyes)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Angered by Bush administration policies they contend endanger national security, 26 retired U.S. diplomats and military officers are urging Americans to vote President Bush out of office in November.

The group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, does not explicitly endorse Democrat John Kerry for president in its campaign, which will start officially Wednesday at a Washington news conference.

The Bush-Cheney campaign said Sunday it would have no response until the group formally issues its statement at the news conference.

Among the group are 20 ambassadors, appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, other former State Department officials and military leaders whose careers span three decades.

No Fool Like An Old, Privileged Fool

Photo from AP
You may not be able to afford to gas your car up for work this week, but Poppy Bush could afford to fly around in a plane for three hours today to do a parachute-jump that eclipsed all other news, like the mess we're continuing to make in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Oh, yes, and we paid for his protective services while he did this. Doesn't matter that the Bushes - like the Reagans - are filthy rich and could afford to pay for all this and more themselves. In fact, they can afford to buy and sell all of us, and often do.

So next time you find yourself saying, "What a big contribution these presidents make", think again.

Marion Barry Rides Again

The Washington Post reports today that the rather infamous Barry is resurfacing in a bid for DC Council.