Hostage Johnson's Beheading Shown on Islamic Web Site(s)

Sadly, I guess this explains the interest in "Voice of Jihad" and dead contractor Paul Johnson today. I'm especially sorry for the man's family.

How Are They Going to Protect Us from Them if They Can't Protect Us from Us?

Los Alamos is basically having a High Noon moment with its own people, meanwhile suspending all work (we'll pay for this, of course, in more ways than just payroll, too).

(Another) Holy War Against the US?

They're getting hard to count! This one's a senior Sunni (Iraqi) cleric and threatening to make Ramadi a "graveyard for American troops". The sigh you hear is mine.

"Vote to Impeach" Ad in Times

Buzzflash brings us a link to the copy. And no, this isn't to impeach the American Idols' judges.


After manually editing 100 posts (grrrrrrrr....), I found the problem and restored the right side of the blog.

Please note there's a fresh poll in place, with results from the last one (only 7% found Mr. Cheney a "good man", and the figure was at 0% for a week).

All the Pious Outrage from the White Party

Xan at Corrente brings us this:

I don't know that I've ever read the Pittsburg Post-Gazette's Tony Norman before, but I am definitely a convert now. I love the smell of smackdown in the morning.
    Let's hope that Democratic Party apparatchiks have more intestinal fortitude than Unilever NV, the Dutch conglomerate that just dropped Whoopi Goldberg as the pitchwoman for its chalky-tasting Slim-Fast diet drink.
    For days, every archconservative with a bully pulpit has weighed in with rabid denunciations of Goldberg, Hollywood liberals and the Kerry-Edwards ticket. The attempt to smear the Democratic challengers as "immoral" because they grinned nervously through Whoopi's performance is a transparently cynical exercise in political hypocrisy.
    How many Republican candidates stomped out of GOP fund-raisers when the Clintons were the butt of vulgar jokes? Rush Limbaugh and his imitators could fill phone books with lascivious jokes about Bill and Monica. That's why their foaming at the mouth over a tasteless stand-up act is pure demagoguery.
    Even so, Slim-Fast dropped Whoopi's endorsement deal faster than the comic dropped pounds as soon as the word "boycott" appeared. The Democrats knew when they recruited her that Whoopi Goldberg wasn't going to go along with the "divine right of kings" mentality that paralyzes so much of the mainstream media.
    Thank goodness Lenny Bruce is dead. Even he would have a hard time dealing with the pornography of false outrage.
You go, Mr. Norman.

Intelligence - or Lack Thereof

With all the headlines about how the 9/11 commission - whose wings were kept so tied that many 9/11 families are right, as we probably all should be, in questioning the full integrity of their findings - is going to recommend a super-intelligence honco to oversee the Pentagon, the FBI, and the CIA, I find myself asking, "WHY NOT JUST ONE AGENCY?"

"Voice of Jihad" Revisited

I notice in looking at stats tonight that many are coming in here looking for the above-referenced topic. Not sure I understand the interest here, since I haven't seen it discussed much in the news of late.
I've also yet to actually find the site itself, though I've seen English version mirrors of what purport to be recent copies of material on the site (if it is "the" site and not a transigent site that goes up and down in different places). Again, if anyone has a legit address for something approaching an English version, I'd like to see it. My Farsi is a bit non-existent (I used to be fairly fluent in Spanish, but I get so little occasion to use it up here in Moose country while my French sucketh toot sweetily).

Iran Bans Two Pro-Reform Newspapers


Iran's judiciary on Saturday ordered two pro-reform newspapers to close temporarily, according to the state-run news agency.

The bans on Jomhuriat and Vaghay-e-Ettefaghieh were to be temporary, but it wasn't clear when exactly they would be allowed to resume publishing. In the past, newspapers generally have not reappeared after temporary bans.

Vaghay-e-Ettefaghieh was ordered closed for publishing propaganda against the state, insulting officials and publishing lies aimed at disturbing public opinion, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. It did not give details.

In the "If I Screwed Up One More Thing, Bush Would Appoint Me to His Cabinet" Dept.

If you're looking for the right side of the blog, where the blogroll and other links are located, it's way, way, way down below.
Something has screwed up the cascading style sheet, and I suspect it's from the new Blogger tools. However, in two hours, I haven't found it yet, so I'm going to go kick a tree.

They're Being Rocked with the Bombs of Freedom

This is just so very bad on so many different levels:

Insurgent fighters launched deadly attacks across Iraq on Saturday, killing a U.S. soldier and at least seven Iraqis in separate attacks.

The bombings took place on the 36th anniversary of the coup that brought the Baath Party, and eventually Saddam Hussein, into power.

The U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in northern Iraq. Five Iraqis died when a government minister's convoy was bombed in Baghdad, and an Iraqi National Guard officer was killed by a suicide bomber at his base in Mahmudiyah.

FBI: Al Qaeda May Recruit Non-Arabs

Gee, who?

The Raging Grannies?

Michael Jackson?

The Dallas Cheerleaders?

Nikki Hilton and that other girl?

Why does all this "information" sound so damned lame all the freaking time?

We now return you to our regularly scheduled chaos and distraction, already in progress.

In the "Bush Wouldn't Verify His Own Name Without a Court Order" Department

From the mighty Skippy (and tell us, Skippy, that you will NOT stop calling them the AssPress):

although it's about four years too late, the asspress is suing to get copies of every piece of awol's military records. the (ironically) asspress reports:
    the associated press asked a federal judge friday to order the pentagon to quickly turn over a full copy of president bush's military service record…

    records released so far do not put to rest questions over whether bush fulfilled his national guard service for a period during the vietnam war, the ap argued in papers filed in federal court in new york.

    those records came from federal records clearinghouses. texas law requires separate record keeping for state national guard service, and those records should exist on microfilm in austin, the ap said…

    there also are allegations that potentially embarrassing material was removed from bush's military file in 1997, when he was running for re-election as texas governor, the ap said…

    the news service asked u.s. district judge harold baer to hear arguments in the case and to direct the pentagon to comply with the foia request within three days…

    the pentagon said in june that military payroll records that could more fully document bush's whereabouts during his service in the texas air national guard were inadvertently destroyed. and microfilm containing the pertinent national guard payroll records was damaged and could not be salvaged, according to the defense department.
thanks, asspress! better (four years) late than never!

Uh Oh - Bush Hasn't Started Yet!

From Arnold P at Demagogue:

From the official White House transcript of George W. Bush's remarks in Michigan on Tuesday:
    The person who sits in the Oval Office will set the course of the war on terror and the direction of our economy. . . . Give me a chance to be your President and America will be safer and stronger and better.
No wonder this administration has been such an unmitigated disaster. They haven't started yet.

Asking Protection from Our Senate

OK, this head scratcher is from Roll Call (which requires you to subscribe to read, although it was posted a few days ago so some other outlet may have picked it up):

The author of a controversial French bestseller that alleges indirect U.S. government complicity in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is asking the Senate Banking Committee for help in fending off possible criminal charges stemming from the book in his native Switzerland.
I know the book in question, although I've just read large passages posted online. From that, I can't say I felt "indirect... complicity" is an accurate description.

While I'm not a conspiracy theorist on this matter, I have to admit that my view has shifted slowly from "absolutely, positively not" on the matter of whether there could have been government complicity to "I just don't think so but... boy, the odds of getting everything so wrong that day that allowed this to happen are astronomical." If there's a second major attack, however, I'm probably going to be more suspicious from the get-go (which could wind me up in Getmo...oh lookie, I made a jokie).

But why, oh why is this man asking for US Senate protection? Does he know who sits in the Senate?

Karl Rove Loves America

See?  He's a real sweetheart.

On a Side Note: Watch Your PC

The past two weeks, I've been hit by different computer problems, many of which eluded my best efforts to overcome them. Everything from browser hijaakings to having my Office installer load everytime I clicked on Email, and around to worse things.

Mind you, I'm a computer professional. I know what to do to reduce risks, and pretty much take all the necessary measures. In nearly 20 years of online work, I've never had a significant virus or hack.

At least, until the last couple of weeks. The problems (there turned out to be about six in all) apparently developed from incomplete updates to my Windows XP network which left the gateway system particularly vulnerable. But even once I discovered this and got fully up to date, the problems remained. Finally, I worked through a series of issues until I got the system fully clean late yesterday.

But if this happened to me, I suspect it's going to happen to some of you. Drop me a note if you want some software recommendations, since virus scanning did nothing to locate these problems or fix them (appropriate since these were not viruses).

Connecticut Sniper Shootings Appear to Be Over

They have suspects in custody.

What's appalling here but, I suppose, unsurprising is that there was no great plan or reason for the shootings. Young men stole a vehicle, found a gun inside, and began shooting (6 victims, one remains in critical condition, 2 others still hospitalized, others either released or never had to go to hospital) just for something to do.

Lance Armstrong Poised to Overtake Tour de France for 6th Win

I'm so excited. (yawn)

Palestinian Shakeups

Yassir Arafat is considering dividing power into three major components in the face of a very bad week. While yes, two different courts affirmed that Israel's building of the security wall, along with involuntary annexation of Palestinian land to do it, a Palestinian police captain was abducted (and later released), there was a suicide bombing (thankfully, it killed few although it injured many), and French nationals were taken in Gaza (I believe all were later released). In light of this, the Palestinian PM offered to resign, but Arafat said no.

Handwriting Analysis Used to Determine Whom to Hire

This is preposterous!


Medical Class Warfare

If you happened to miss it, try to catch Paul Krugman's column so named from today.


Mr. Kerry offers a health care plan that would extend coverage to most of those now uninsured, paid for by rolling back tax cuts for those with incomes over $200,000. President Bush offers a tax credit that would extend coverage to fewer than 5 percent of the uninsured, plus a new tax break for the affluent that would actually increase the number of uninsured. As I said last week, I don't see how Mr. Bush can win this debate.

Karl Rove Smites CBS Pollsters re: Dwindling War Support

From a new CBS poll:

The public continues to grow more critical of the war in Iraq, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll. For the first time, a majority of Americans (51 percent) say the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq. Another 45 percent say going to war was the right thing to do.

In other findings, 56 percent of Americans say the war is going badly for the U.S., up from 36 percent a year ago. And nearly two-third of Americans (62 percent) say the war has not been worth the cost.

The poll also found that 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. should not attack another country unless it attacks first. Thirty-three percent say the U.S. should strike first if it believes another country may attack it.

Y'know, When Saddam Just Shot People Dead, it was a Problem

I guess it's better when our hand-picked CIA slave does it.

This from Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly:

The Sydney Morning Herald reports today that Iraq's new prime minister has an old school view of keeping the peace in Baghdad:
    Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

    ....the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.

    ....The Herald has established the names of three of the prisoners alleged to have been killed....The three names were provided to the Interior Ministry, where senior adviser Sabah Khadum undertook to provide a status report on each. He was asked if they were prisoners, were they alive or had they died in custody.

    But the next day he cut short an interview by hanging up the phone, saying only: "I have no information — I don't want to comment on that specific matter."

At This Rate, Castro Will Be in Power Until 2159

From CNN:

President Bush on Friday accused Fidel Castro of exploiting Cuba's children by encouraging a sex-tourism industry designed to draw cash to the impoverished nation, comments certain to resonate with Cuban-American voters in the swing state.

By September, Mr. Cheney will tell us that intelligence suggests that Osama bin Laden and Castro are lovers plotting America's destruction.

Upgrade Oddities

If you notice my links disappear,  my greens go from forest to spring and back, and my HTML get hummered,  it's because I'm having some problems since they upgraded Blogger on the 13th. 
Oh, they're really trying hard to make it better, but I find that for everytime those fancy new options are available, I open it three more times to find essential tools missing. If I didn't know essential HTML, I wouldn't have been posting.  Unfortunately for you, I do! 

BushCo and Giuliani Complicit in Saying Ground Zero Was Safe?

John at AmericaBlog (and my apologies because links are not working properly here right now so they may be scattered) discusses a story that has gotten us mad before:

What part of this story doesn't scream bloody murder? Bush outright LIED to everyone in NYC about the quality of the air following 9/11. In his zeal to falsely convince everyone that everything was ok, he sent Lord knows how many policemen, firemen, and other emergency workers and volunteers into harm's way, guaranteeing that many will come down with God knows what in 20 years, because Bush wanted everyone to "feel good."

This is also a major indictment of Giuliani. He knew the results of the tests, he knew the EPA was outright LYING about the results, and yet he said nothing. And these guys have the NERVE to hold their convention in NYC? They should be greeted by thousands of protesters wearing gas masks and tuxedos.

From the NY Post:
    An Environmental Protection Agency memo claims city and federal officials concealed data that showed lower Manhattan air was clouded with asbestos after the World Trade Center collapse.

    And officials sat on the alarming information even as they told the public it was safe to return downtown, the internal memo says.

    Testing by the city Department of Environmental Protection showed the air downtown had more than double the level of asbestos considered safe for humans, claimed federal EPA environmental scientist Cate Jenkins, who supplied the memo to The Post.

    The data, which Jenkins says she culled from state records, appear damning.

    On the day after the attack, the memo claims, city test results from the corner of Centre and Chambers streets and from the corner of Spruce and Gold streets showed asbestos concentration at about twice the level considered safe by the EPA.

    The city did not release this information to the public, Jenkins says.

    The next day, Sept. 13, city tests were "overloaded" with asbestos in the air — so much that the lab could not conclude precise amounts — along Church Street.

    Again, the information was withheld, the memo claims.

    When the city published the test results for the weeks following 9/11 on its Web site in February 2002, there were 17 instances where the data was either understated or left blank, Jenkins asserts in her report.

    "New York City could wiggle out of the [claim of] concealment, because they weren't making any explicit statements about data at the time," Jenkins told The Post. "But the EPA can't wiggle out of this. They said the air was safe at the same time they were coordinating data with the city."

Is the Love Affair with Donald Rumsfeld Over?

Oh, say it's so!

From CNN:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, for years the most public face of the Bush administration's war on terrorism, has suddenly become scarce.

Burdened by the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal and constrained by the presidential election campaign, the Pentagon chief who spearheaded the Afghanistan and Iraq wars has been relegated to a less visible role.

Once seemingly in danger of being fired over the prisoner abuse, Rumsfeld appears to have survived. Yet some wonder whether the White House might still conclude he is a political liability and prefer he leave this summer.

"Donald Rumsfeld has gone from being the most popular spokesperson for the Bush administration policies to something of a pariah," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, a think tank.

Help the Victims of Sudan

True Majority has organized a call to action on this nightmare crisis:

Genocide is underway in Sudan. 
The contrast in our government’s response to Sudan and Iraq is striking.  Bush was willing to buck the United Nations and spend $200 billion to invade Iraq (most recently for humanitarian reasons). 

“The Janjuweed arrived and asked me to leave the place. They beat women and small children. They killed a little girl, Sara Bishara. She was two years old. She was knifed in her back.”

  - Aisha Ali,  in North Darfur,  reported by Amnesty International
 Now, for a few hundred million dollars and little risk to our armed forces, we really can stop a government from slaughtering a million of its own people. 
Instead, the Bush administration has ducked the issue by refusing to call it genocide.  Why?  Because the United States is party to a treaty that would force us to take strong action if they did. 
Now a bipartisan push is taking hold in Congress to call this genocide and get our government to act.  The House resolution (H. Con. Res. 467) is moving quickly, and a vote may come as quickly as next week.  In the Senate, Sen. Brownback (R-KS) and Sen. Corzine (D-NJ) have just introduced a resolution (S. Con. Res. 124) that would also call this genocide and require strong action. 
Visit them at True Majority now.

Send Chris Hitchens a Box of Live Rats

Here's an offer from "Chase Me, Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry" that's hard to resist:

Ever read a Christopher Hitchens column and thought, "I would like to send this man a box of live rats"? Well now you can. Just click on the PayPal box below, and all the money raised will be used to buy rats for our generation's Orwell. And remember, the more you give, the more rats we can send him.
I don't, however, dislike rats enough to do this. Still, the idea is appealing at a certain level.

Ken Lay Revisited

From the (Madison) Capital Times:

Few will question the appropriateness of indicting Lay.

Many, however, have questioned why Lay is only now being called to account. Why does it take so long to bring white-collar criminals to justice? Why is it that if a petty thief stole the sign in front of Enron's headquarters he would, in all likelihood, have been arrested, tried and jailed by now, while Lay, who stands accused of stealing the hopes and dreams of Enron employees and stockholders, has only begun to face the consequences of his alleged wrongdoing?

Is it because Lay was a "Bush Pioneer" - a top contributor to the 2000 campaign of George W. Bush? Is it because Lay gave so generously to the fund that paid for the Bush-Cheney campaign's fight to prevent a full recount of Florida ballots following the disputed 2000 presidential vote? Is it because Lay and Enron did so much to cover the costs of the 2001 Bush-Cheney inaugural? Is it because of Lay's close personal friendship with Bush and his history of business ties to Cheney?

Martha Stewart

I feel very badly about her sentencing today.
I think she was specifically targeted. I think amazing taxpayer resources were aimed to bring her down (when much greater people have done much worse things and serve the president), probably in no tiny part because she is a woman who supported Democratic causes.
Can Martha survive five months in prison? Sure she can. She's a very strong woman who - while you can make fun of her on many points - has never shied from hard work. But is society served by her going to prison and the losses the government investigation served on her business? Absolutely not.
Martha, do your stuff. You'll get past this.

Presbyterian Church to Stop Investing in Israel?

I heard only part of this on "Democracy Now" - and have some issues going on here that aren't exactly letting me focus.
But the charge seems to be one not totally unheard of: that Israel is behaving towards Palestinians in ways not unlike the apartheid South Africa and it is not ethical to put money there. Of course, Israeli interests are condemning the move.
I am both encouraged and saddened by this. Israel as a whole is not, I believe, desirous of doing to the Palestinians what was done to them in the past. There are, however, groups within Israel who do indeed behave in a way that has nasty similarities to Europe in the 30s and 40s and South Africa not very long ago.
Israel, like America, is rather caught by the actions of extremists and special interest groups. Many terrible things are being committed because of this. And Israel, like America, must wrench control back to the hands of the good people.

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fascists"

Yes, damn it, I know it's the middle of July, but Lambert at Corrente came up with a tidy little ditty sung to the tune of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."  Go, go. Read it.

Another Bush Accomplishment: We're Hitting Debt Ceiling

From Reuters:

The U.S. government will likely reach its federal debt limit in early October, a top Treasury official said in written remarks, giving fresh details on when the politically sensitive ceiling will need to be raised.

The $7.384 trillion debt limit may need attention before the November election, Timothy Bitsberger, Treasury's nominee for assistant secretary for financial markets, said in a document obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
Bravo, George

Young Boys Sodomized at Abu Ghraib

From various sources on the net tonight, including Daily Kos, Oliver Willis, and more:

Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher."
Read Ed Cone's summary.

Egyptian Hostage in Iraq Up Against Deadline

From CNN:

The abductors of an Egyptian hostage in Iraq have given his Saudi employer 48 hours to prove the company has left Iraq, the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera reported Thursday.

The hostage-takers sent a written statement to the network threatening to kill Muhammad al-Gharabawi if the company -- Faisal al-Nahait Transport Company -- does not meet the deadline. It was the second death threat against al-Gharabawi.
It's getting tough to identify the hostages and their countries and their fates without a scorecard. Sigh.


Right Wing Says Federal Marriage Amendment Not Dead

How could it be?
I mean, Rick Santorum lined up Pat Boone and Dean Jones ("Herbie the Love Bug Rides Again") and other huge names in American think tanks to support it.

Ann Coulter and Michael Jackson Should Marry

I'm just tossing this out as an idea. They're both lean, the same age (just because Ann lies about her age doesn't mean I must), and both have had substantial work done to look like what men look like after they have surgery to look like a woman.

Michael could teach Ann to be patient, to love the children, to appreciate beauty in all things (especially if they cost millions and appeal to someone no older than about age 9), to be generous, and to say nice things, while Ann could teach Michael how to be a succubus, who wears the mini-skirts in the family, how to drain the blood from the brains of people, proper uses for a riding crop and taser gun, and teach him profanity.

Plus think of how attractive their children would be. Ann won't let them be named "Blanket" either. She'll insist on good non-treasonous American names like Grover, Scooter, Newt, and Kenny Boy.

Cheney Says He Will Be on Ticket


He's going to be pulling the strings anyway so I'd rather see the king rat at least sometimes forced to the surface to take air. The severe rights would never have tolerated Giuliana anyway, although hating him for the wrong reasons (he's a creep who behaved very well on 9/11 but not most of the rest of the time, and now he's a terrorism profiteer).

Let's keep the rats on the same ship.

Times Discusses Blogging and Party Conventions

Here it is. Nothing to add on my part (they didn't say that much).

Headless Body in Orange Jumpsuit Found in Tigris River

This could be the body of the Bulgarian who was executed more than a day before, but the military says it has not been identified yet.

Speaking of Which, Skippy Works Faster Than Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra Combined

I just noticed that Skippy has soared over his 500,000th blog visitor in the past couple of days and speeding on this way to the 1 millionth click. Hurray Skippy!

What? You Think Bill Bennett Has All the Fun?

From Skippy:

reader and contributor rose sends us a bit of gossip from page six of the nypost:
    president bush gets whipped by dominatrix dita von teese in a new video by racy lingerie line agent provocateur. teese, clad only in a thong and pasties, flogs a jockey shorts-wearing bush lookalike in the video, which debuts in the u.k. on aug. 16. teese, who's engaged to shock rocker marilyn manson, also has her way with british prime minister tony blair in the tape, titled "she's lost control." the promo on the company's web site notes that "bush has lost control" and "gets his just deserts in true agent provocateur style."
what about some presidential nipple clamps?

Maureen Dowd Caught the Bush Girls' Gowns

From her column, which also notes the Bush Twins:

When the British report came out yesterday declaring that Saddam Hussein had no significant W.M.D., or perhaps no W.M.D., Tony Blair accepted "full personal responsibility" for "the way the issue was presented and, therefore, for any errors made."

Mr. Bush, by contrast, took full personal irresponsibility. Still pressing the preposterous case that he has made America safer, even though we are inundated with threats from Al Qaeda, and that he is winning the war against terror, even though there are more terrorist attacks, the president had to go farther afield to find a sufficiently enthusiastic audience. ...

Campaigning at the nuclear lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn. — he finally found nuclear-related capability — Mr. Bush defended the Iraq war: "So I had a choice to make: either take the word of a madman or defend America." He also said of the terrorists, "We will confront them overseas so we do not have to confront them here at home."

That's nonsense. Just because more terrorists are attacking Americans abroad doesn't mean terrorists aren't poised to also attack us at home. And in fact, Bush officials keep warning us that terrorists are planning "something big" here, as the acting C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, said yesterday in a radio interview.

It's just like the president's other false dichotomies: You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists. If we don't stop gays from marrying, it will destroy the institution of marriage.

Allawi to Crush Insurgents

This is related to the new round of violence in Iraq. But wasn't he just offering them amnesty the other day? I'm confused. Perhaps though, so is Allawi after getting all those mixed messages from Washington on how to run his country.

Elizabeth Edwards: The Modest, Impassioned, Anti-Barbie

Sounds GOOD to me. Read it here.


While Your Kids are Fighting and Dying in War

This is the Bush sacrifice.

From Wonkette
They're just so beautiful and smart (cough) that you can understand that all those beautiful Bush minds, as put by matriarch Barbara Sr, can't be wasted on war. Your kids, of course, aren't beautiful and smart and precious, and nobody would give them fancy gowns to wear like they will the twins, Jenna and Barbara Jr.

Duh... Ditka Made the Right Choice

With word tonight that Mike Ditka - not one of the brighest males on the planet - has ruled out a run for Senate in Illinois, I say, "Amen."

I mean, besides not seeming all that bright, hell, besides seeming like a stereotype... the man has hawked every product imaginable, including "male impotence pills" at the same time he was recommending budget hotels (tacky). If he could have taken a check for promoting feminine vaginal itch lotion, Mike would have done it.

I Take it Slim-Fast Didn't Know Whoopi Goldberg

If they did when they hired her, they would have known that she is wickedly fun and sometimes just plain wicked. That she's outspoken, progressive, and does not tolerate fools kindly.

So why Slim-Fast got upset and fired Ms. Goldberg for her Bush jokes seems a tad disingenuous. Too bad. I liked their shakes occasionally since they're basically non-dairy. But I certainly can't buy products from such a shoddy company.

From Whoopi:

"I only wish that the Republican re-election committee would spend as much time working on the economy as they seem to be spending trying to harm my pocketbook."
You go, girl!

What is it with Spam These Days?

I thought the Reagan coins (always with Spam sent by "Barry Goldwater") were tasteless, that the drug ads were dangerous, and that the "make money fast even if you're slow" just wasted bandwidth, but the latest round of popular ads seems to be "rape" centered.

For the last two weeks, my 11 mail addresses have gotten somewhere around 900 with some form of "rape" in the subject. Several seem to have animated images embedded with them. And, as you might imagine, as a woman and a pacifist, rape isn't one of my favorite topics, just as no form of violence would be.

But somebody's got to be buying, right, for all this crap to be sent out? That part is a bit hard to imagine.

I'm not even a prude. Porn, while it's rarely well done or inventive or even appealing, doesn't shock me. I just don't like it. But I don't have problems with others - as in adults - possessing it. [Is porn demeaning to women? Well, I think it's kind of demeaning to everyone. But so is Bush's treatment of women's rights and Fox News' portrayal of America. Both of them continue regardless, so why shouldn't porn? War is pretty obscene, too. Can we stop that?]

This stuff, however, comes unsolicited, and I would imagine it reaches the mailboxes of lots of children. Hopefully, they use some kind of filter (although I use a filter too, and some did get by while most were trapped in my crap folder.

New York to GOP Convention Protestors: Your Free Speech Zone Begins 20 Miles out in the East River

Funny thing is, man-on-the-street interviews tonight showed New Yorkers mystified that the city says protestors can't meet in Central Park or just about anywhere else.

"This is still America, right?" Asked one man interviewed on WNBC's 11 o'clock news.

Tom Ridge Says Security at Dem Convention Will Be Unprecedented

In Ridgespeak, I assume this means he's assigned "two female senior citizen former patrol cops" armed each with pepper spray and 50 rolls of duct tape.

Ridge, of course, would hate anything to interrupt the Democratic National Convention. And for that reason, he's willing to make it completely impossible for anybody to get near Fleet Center, including Kerry and Edwards.

Police Arrest Allegedly Suicidal Airline Passenger

Frankly, if I had an Arabic name and I was trying to fly on US commercial airlines and I was in Minnesota as well, I might feel pretty depressed and hopeless, too. I'm forever hearing nutso stories about whole planes full of people going batso just because "someone who looks vaguely Muslim and/or has a really good summer tan" in onboard.

At this point, I worry far less about Arabic-looking men on flights and more about what the fear of more than one stupid person put together into a confined space can do.

More Iraq Bad News

I know wingnuts get awfully upset when people fail to dwell on all the wonderful, positive things going on in Iraq (like the fact that despite numerous attempts, nobody has actually managed to kill the US puppet PM Allawi yet) but I'm afraid GI, coalition forces, contractors, and civilians are still dying there with some becoming separated from heads.

Yet Bush has been out steadily saying he did all this to keep America safe (from what, a surplus? sanity?), and to free the Iraqis. I don't think most of them want to be freed from their heads. And women are getting tired of being treated like fifth class citizens when under Saddam, they had nearly equal privileges with men. It took America to make women subservient slaves to the fundamentalists. Some are wearing a birka for the first time in their lives, or being shunned from schools and business for the first time.

Oh wait. Maybe Bush means freedom from their oil reserves. That makes far more sense.

Check Them Out

Younger voters especially should see this... and use it.

Question on Orrin Hatch

Oh, trust me, I have more than one about the GOP senator from Utah, but there's one special question right now.

Hatch has been on TV several times the past week. Why has not ONE commentator/reporter asked him about his reading of a statement on the Senate floor last week that women should be subservient and submissive to their men?

I'm sorry. Isn't this news?

How Come Tony Blair Can Take Full Responsibiliy for Flawed Intelligence

... and our leader cannot?

Some Brits are even asking Blair to step down.

FMA is a Wingless Turkey

Congratulations to the 6 Republicans who joined the Democrats in keeping a proposed constitutional amendment of hate from passing in the Senate today.

William F (Elite of the Elite) Buckley Complained about Ron Reagan's Tribute to his Father

That's what the old duck - who seemed a bit too addled to make it through his interview with Chris Matthews tonight - said, copying many people including Nancy Reagan and the president and several others on his complaint letter to Ron Reagan.

Now, if your father dies, and you're asked to deliver words at his funeral, and you do, and you speak honestly from your heart, do you really expect to be on the far end of a chain mail complaint about it? In the words of the great American, Dick Cheney, "Go fuck yourself", Mr Buckley,

If You Missed Tonight's Daily Show

... and you don't TiVo (I don't TiVo either), catch the rerun on Comedy Central tomorrow. The national plan to use the blue states as a non-voting buffer for the red states that could vote if there's a terrorist attack sounds like something from Tom DeLay's dirty playbook.


Bush's Women Earn Less than Bush's Men

What a surprise.

From Bluelemur, in association with Raw Story, comes a point to an article in the Washington Post about a leaked Excel spreadsheet:

The Washington Post acquired a copy of the President’s staff’s salaries, and highlighted the disparity between the income of women and men. President Bush appears to be unable to keep even the salaries of his own staff secret, when most companies (without the assistance of the Secret Service and national intelligence agencies) are able to do so easily.
    With new White House salary figures leaked to The Washington Post and an Excel spreadsheet, crack researcher Margot Williams determined that men in the Bush White House earn an average of $76,624 a year. Women earn $59,917 on average. Bush women earn about 78 percent of what Bush men earn.

    As it happens, that’s almost exactly the national average for the gap in pay between the sexes, although it’s a good bit below the 88 percent for the nearly 1 million professional and administrative employees in the federal workforce.

    At the White House, the gap has nothing to do with wage discrimination: Women and men with similar titles receive similar pay. Rather, it comes from the dominance of men in high-end jobs; of the 17 White House staffers earning $157,000 – the top of the pay scale this year – 12 are men.

    Overall, working in the White House is quite a good living. The average salary, $67,075, is well above the latest available metropolitan Washington average of $48,420, and nearly double the national average of $36,764.

One of Two Bulgarian Hostages In Iraq Killed; Other Has 24 Hours

From CNN: Militants holding two Bulgarians hostage have killed one and given the other 24 hours to live unless female prisoners in Iraq are released, the Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera reports. The broadcaster aired part of a videotape, showing a man in an orange shirt kneeling in front of three masked men dressed in black, but did not broadcast the execution.

Still nothing on the Filipino truck driver.

Faux... er... Fox Mad at The Times For Publishing Fox's Ethically Challenged Memos

All of this relates to film, "Outfoxed", what uses the Murdoch-bought media's own words and some of its former people in a rather shocking indictment of poor journalistic practices.

In a letter sent to E & P Monday night, The New York Times chose not to fire back at Fox News, which earlier in the day had accused the paper of "corrupt" journalistic practices and collaborating in copyright infringement. "We don't get into debates about our news coverage," Toby Usnik, director of public relations for The New York Times Company, wrote.

The charges emerged in Fox's official response to a Times Magazine story on Sunday about the new film, "Outfoxed," which is highly critical of Fox News channel. In that story, the Times printed brief excerpts from internal Fox memos.

"If someone tells us we made a factual error, we will examine the question closely," Usnik wrote, obviously suggesting this was not yet the case in this matter. "Otherwise our coverage speaks for itself."
However, I doubt anyone who makes the choice to watch Fox today and still considers it news programming probably isn't going to watch "Outfoxed" or change their opinion.

Edwards Joins Kerry in Being Concerned with Massive Media Consolidation

From Editor and Publisher Magazine.

Is the US Safer from Terrorists?

No comes with word from two polls in the last two days, including one at CNN where 73% of 160,000 respondents said we aren't safer. Then, in the same breath, other polls suggest Bush is recovering from his poorer showing on terrorism.

He might be, but I doubt the country is.

And trust me, if there's another strike, Bush will disappear again for hours in the same chaos as last time, while our security is left to us. Even Mr. Duct Tape, Tom Ridge, will be down in the bunker practicing his golf putt.

Woman Lies About Swastika Attack

PARIS, France (AP) -- Just days after claiming to be the victim of an attack that stunned France, a young mother confessed to making up the story, authorities said Tuesday.

The woman claimed to have been robbed Friday by a knife-wielding gang that mistook her for a Jew and scrawled swastikas on her body.

But police, finding no clues and no witnesses, brought the woman in for questioning Tuesday, police officials said on condition of anonymity.

No details were immediately available to explain her motives for claiming to have been attacked.

Reports of the attack in a suburban Paris train outraged France, drawing fierce condemnation from politicians and Jewish groups.
The piece goes on to say that this woman has a history of making complaints about violence that "never pan out".

The worst of this, of course, is that Europe is seeing horrible acts of antisemitism and here we have a woman who lies about one, which will be used to "prove" that the real events are exaggerated, too. Sad.

France: US Engaged in HIV Meds Blackmail

This is not a minor charge or a little tiff. If true, it's horrendous. From the piece:

France accused the United States of "blackmail" tactics to pressure poor countries into ceding rights to make cheap generic HIV drugs, while the AIDS Conference issued a stirring call Monday to get more medicine to millions of needy in the developing world.

"A vicious terrorist is out there. It is not Osama bin Laden, it is AIDS," Hollywood actor Richard Gere told the conference. "The biggest threat to our livelihood, our happiness is AIDS."

A U.S. official denied the French allegation as "nonsense," while conference delegates lamented World Health Organization figures that show only about 7 percent of the 6 million people in poor countries who need antiretroviral treatment are getting it.

No Word on Fate of Filipino Hostage

As his countrymen march and protest, and their government agrees with demands to remove their small (50) contingent of troops sooner, there is no word from the 46-yr-old captive truck driver who had been threatened with beheading by his abductors.

"Close" Osama Associate Surrenders

CNN has this as breaking news:

Close associate of Osama bin Laden, Khaled al-Harbi, surrenders to Saudi security officials in Tehran, Saudi official says.
Something about this rings a bit hollow.

I remember reading small bits about this man, but nothing to imply (that I recall) he was like this with Osama. But whether his status is being exaggerated now, I cannot say.

However, why surrender, and why surrender in Tehran?

The Foster Affair (And We Don't Mean Vince)

The New York Times gets it right in this editorial on the atrocious lying before the big Medicare vote last year:

If subverting informed decision-making were illegal, Thomas Scully, the Bush administration's former top Medicare official, would be in trouble. The Health and Human Services Department reported last week that before the vote on the huge Medicare reform bill last November, Mr. Scully threatened to fire the agency's chief actuary, Richard Foster, if he released estimates to Congress showing that the bill could cost as much as 50 percent more than the White House had let on.

But the report said that Mr. Scully had broken no law. Moreover, because he is no longer with Medicare — he now lobbies for drug companies — he faces no disciplinary action.

The Bush administration would no doubt love to have the issue end there. But Congress should not allow that. Ordinary citizens and their representatives have a right to be informed about public policy. The White House cannot continue to get away with treating Congress as some pesky organization with which it needn't share information.

Netanyahu Defends Israeli Wall

It's only what you would expect. Netanyahu is as much of a peacemaker as Sharon, but without the war credentials.


That NY Post Headline ("Kerry-Gephardt") Last Week

Unless you've been living under a rock - or in Iraq - you have likely heard of the NY Post gaffe last Tuesday that resulted in the Post erroneously naming Dick Gephardt as the Dem's VP choice. Since then, we've heard a lot more about it, including rumors that the tip came straight from Post owner Rupert Murdoch and that he insisted they use it (as he has other material in the past) without any independent verification.

Now, I've said before that William Randolph Heart, the father of the bastard called yellow journalism, would die of envy if he could only see what has happened to the media in the last several years.

But as it happens, this is also the week when a project is released (sorry, I can't remember if it's a book or movie and my net connection sucks too severely to check it in this lifetime) that talks about how this situation with Murdoch and the controlling of the headlines by the corporate owners is leading to situations where corps control even more of what you think, but this time wrapped under the cover of "fair and balanced" reporting.

When MSNBC was still just a glimmer in somebody's less than visionary eye, there was intense debate about Microsoft becoming a co-owner of the company, since how would Microsoft report on itself. But General Electric, a company that profits mightily on both war and power (the kilowatt kind as well as the unbridled type), also co-owns MSNBC and I don't recall the debate.

Think about that, kiddies. NBC is owned by a frat sister of Halliburton's. Would you pick up a Halliburton-written newspaper to learn how the war in Iraq is going?

Ken Lay on Larry King

The broadcast doesn't have its usual "Live" label but it's also not listing a previously recorded date.

Of interest, Lay says that when he appeared before the Senate commerce committee in Spring of 2002, he and his attorney were ready to share information regarding his meetings in the spring of the previous year (2001) with Cheney's Energy Task Force. The rest of his comment made it seem like he wasn't asked for such.

I can't recall now whether Lay just took the Fifth or not.

A Mess You'll Love to Hate

Now comes word today that Courtney Love missed her court day Friday (resulting in a bench warrant for her arrest being issued) because she had had a miscarriage and was on 72-hour suicide watch.

Boy, the best thing to do when you're 40 years old, running around between different court cases on both coasts, getting arrested everywhere with sleeping pills and painkillers and assorted other lovelies, when your life is chaotic enough that your current child is living with someone else, and your daily narrative is starting to make Michael Jackson look borderline well adjusted is to get pregnant.

Get help, Courtney. You have talent (if not musically or with keeping legal appointments). The recreation is interfering with the respiration.

The First Gay Divorcee

Well, so to speak. A same sex couple together for ten years before tying the knot a few months ago in California has called it quits.

Now, before the right jumps in to laugh at this, Britney Spears is heterosexual (in as much as oversweet bubblegum can have a gender) and her first marriage lasted 55 hours. Newt Gingrich, George S. Will, and Rush Limbaugh have how many divorces under their belt?

The View on Terror Attacks and the Election

Keith Olbermann did a great analysis of this topic tonight on MSNBC's Countdown, and pointed out something the media hasn't been noticing:

    * that the extreme right feels - or at least says it fears - that an attack would have as its goal to bring down the Bush Administration, happily implying (sometimes with a hammer) that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for Osama, while

    * the left questions whether a terrorist attack could be used as an excuse to prolong the current administration, and the talk of possible temporary suspension of voting the last few days has fueled the fire
Keith was also the first in the media to point out that the 2001 election in NY city was definitely affected by the change in election date, helping to tip the city to newly-minted Republican Mike Bloomberg.

I Repeat My Snake Offer

[Ed. note: This is NOT for Bush campaign literature.]

I repeat my offer to anyone who would like some snakes. We're having a bumper crop. It's like Karl Rove-style GOP convention is being held around my office (I've even named a few... waving to Tom DeLay slithering by on a nearby rock).

Today, one was trying to get into my front vestibule, and going around to avoid that one ended up with me running between two more.

Here's an interesting fact I did not know. Milk snakes, unlike rattlers who usually try to avoid you as much as you try to avoid them, are rather aggressive. They will strike, although they'll often start about 10 feet back and fall short, a miserable reality if you're a milk snake (so named by farmers who thought such snakes actually stole milk from their cows). While they're not very venomous, some people feel a little sick if they're bitten.

Now, I don't just have milk snakes, but it sure made me treat them differently these days. But all of these snakes tend to be rather aggressive. They often do not take pains to hide under normal circumstances (some have taken to seeming to nap on top of a large broad bush next to my office, in plain sight), and they've come to basically ignore the dogs (mine and all his friends) as they move about. These snakes even pretty much stay in the high traffic areas, too. In part, this is because there is stonework present, but there are other areas with stonework with lesser traffic and almost no snakes.

America's Undistinguished Record of Nation Building

Max Sawicky speaks:

What seems to me an underplayed, important article in the weekend Outlook section of the Post, the undistinguished U.S. record of nation-building. This is the sort of thing that should have been front and center for all the liberal supporters of the Iraqi mission, among others, but moral imperatives seemed to hold sway instead. 'We have to' trumps 'we can do.'

The other side of the coin is the excerpt by "Anonymous," the CIA analyst oddly celebrated by some left-of-center commentators. Libs like A's demolition of the rationales and performance of the Bushies, but his solution is pretty scary and not convincing. Basically he seems to recommend unprecedented, indiscriminate destruction of Muslim populations that harbor terrorists. It's clash of civilizations stuff, with the ideological scruple that we are not really against Muslim civilization, just violent anti-American Muslims who happen to be randomly scattered throughout Muslim civilization.

This sort of world view -- a more sophisticated, heretical view of the "root causes" -- coupled with maniacal policy recommendations could emerge if there is another successful, horrendous attack. Something to not look forward to.
Now that second article cited is interesting for several reasons, including this passage:
One of the greatest dangers for Americans in deciding how to confront the Islamist threat lies in continuing to believe -- at the urging of senior U.S. leaders -- that Muslims hate us and attack us for what we are and what we think, rather than for what we do. The Islamic world is not so offended by our democratic system of politics, guarantees of personal rights and civil liberties, and separation of church and state that it is willing to wage war against overwhelming odds to stop Americans from voting, speaking freely, and praying, or not, as they wish. With due respect for those who have concluded that we are hated for what we are, think and represent, I beg to disagree and contend that your conclusion is errant and potentially fatal nonsense.

The Emotional Effects of Iraq

NBC news tonight had a piece about the extreme post traumatic stress syndrome seen in the returning soldiers. The closer they are to battle, of course, the higher the incidence of PTSS seems to be. They mentioned that many returning soldiers are reticent to get counseling because any kind of mental health checkup is considered bad for any plans for a continuing military career and goes in a record that other employers could obtain.

Why Does "States' Rights" Always....

Why does the very term "states' rights" put my teeth on edge, with vague, nefarious imagery like that of dirty old men lusting after kittens (the four-legged kind...oh look, there's Bill Frist!), good ole boy employers paying "our darkies" a living wage of at least .50 cents less an hour than whites, and CCC (the new face of the KKK) barbecues with Harley Barbour?

I mean, states' rights DO NOT just amount to that. Some state issues are incredibly important. But I'm not certain why the same wing-nuts screaming for a constitutional amendment disallowing gays from marriage also calling this a states' rights issue? They clearly DO NOT want states to decide this, hence a constitutional amendment with the intent of keeping states from letting gays marry.

I dunno. Since the first gays married with legal recognition, I haven't felt my heterosexuality challenged once. I hold the issue of marriage in the same level of respect I did before (cagily not stating what that position is, mind you, but it's the exact same level as before, really).

The People Vs. Diebold Over Electronic Voting

Critics of electronic voting are suing Diebold Inc. under a whistle-blower law, alleging that the company's shoddy balloting equipment exposed California elections to hackers and software bugs.
Read the entire story here.

As you may remember, the head of Diebold has been active in fund-raising for President Bush and made some rather controversial public comments in which he promised to deliver the votes needed to re-elect Bush 43. With friends like this...

Death by Antifreeze?

So some lady in New Jersey apparently (and allegedly) offed her better-off brother-in-law by giving him a fruit smoothie laced with auto antifreeze. And both the prosecutor and defense attorney agree the crime was based on pure greed (she supposedly wanted to make her brother-in-law sick so he would have to move in with her and her husband so she could control his finances).

Well, I've been poor more than once in my life, but I can't say I begin to understand this one. How does a person even conceive of it?

She's claiming mental illness and is being held on a demand for half a million in cash bail. Well, at least she wasn't ill enough to come up with the plan.

"Good Night, Weezie"

Isabel Sanford, former actress on "All in the Family" and its spin-off, "The Jeffersons", has died at age 86.

She always struck me as so sweet and funny. For a kid growing up in an all-white town, in a nearly all-white state who watched the breakthrough show of "All in the Family" as Archie Bunker had to come to terms with having a black family move next door, her gentle, often smart character of Louise Jefferson made me want to have her for a neighbor, always made me smile. I learned my sharpness of tongue from women like her, the character of "Maude", and others.

While I might often lament that we're still discussing race so frequently in the new millennium, I look back and think that when I was very small, African American characters were still relatively new in TV shows except for playing support roles (with rare exceptions: Julia with "Diahann Carroll" as well as Bill Cosby in "I Spy").

For me, from my all-white background and growing up in a time when many of the adults around me blamed blacks for busing, for forcing integration, for cities having riots, et al, having characters like Louise - strange as it sounds - allowed me to transcend some of my limited social experience.

Hmm... I'm not quite saying what I want to say here, so let's just leave it with my sincere thanks to Ms. Sanford for all the laughs, the smiles, and the enjoyment.

Bush on Offensive Over Iraq War? Indeed

The "offensive" wording keeps coming from the mainstream media today, and if you heard any of his campaign stops (God, his career as prez amounts to three major events: a) waging war b)campaigning c)vacationing, each continuously), you'd understand.

That's one thing about Mr. Bush. Whenever word comes out (and it has MANY times) that he may have been wrong (or, as some thing, purposely so) about an issue, Mr. Bush just insists louder and louder that he was right, let the critics be damned. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a book for psych pros) has a listing for this illness, but a practical grandmother would say, "He can never admit he's wrong."

Worry About Iraq, Economy and Not Gay Marriage

Bob Schieffer has a better than average editorial up on CBS on this topic, called "The Purpose of Government", beginning with:

Call me old-fashioned, but I still hold with the ancient Greeks who said government has only one purpose, to improve the lives of citizens. If it doesn't, there is no reason for it, no reason at all, which is why I was a little surprised that with the nation at war, our intelligence services in a complete mess, as we just heard, the deficit soaring and jobs going overseas, the Senate decided the most important thing it needed to do was debate a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The House will soon follow.

Full disclosure here. I am for civil unions, but I'm not sure that gay marriage is any of the government's business one way or the other. What irritates me as a taxpayer is that the Senate is debating this knowing full well the amendment has no chance of passing. Approval requires two-thirds of the House and Senate, and neither house can count a simple majority in favor. Still, they press on because an advocate says voters want people to be on the record on this. Well, who says?

Lynndie England

Her case is going forward today in military court (although the actual court martial proceedings do not have a date yet). The defense plans to try to call VP Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defensiveness Donald Rumsfeld, and major generals. Good luck!

Discriminatory Marriage Vote Comes Up Wednesday

People who should not be exercising so much control over small aspects of life are at it again, with that dreadful, discriminatory constitutional amendment insisting marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.

If you feel strongly against turning the Constitution into a rough draft, please read this note from Peter Schurman of MoveOn:

In less than 48 hours, Congress will vote on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would permanently deny marriage equality to same-sex couples. This is unprecedented -- never before has our Constitution been amended to take away anyone's rights. We've got to fight back.

Please sign on to our emergency petition to Congress to stop this divisive amendment.

New Blasts Heard in Baghdad Today

No word on what it means, if there is specific meaning.

Military Refusing to Pay for/Perform Abortions on Raped Women

I heard this as I caught a few minutes of Democracy Now, and occurs with women soldiers who have been raped. Charming.

Bush and the fat white men of Washington own women's bodies. But I don't recall them paying the pink slips and I don't remember giving them ownership.

Should a Terror Attack Change Election Day?

That's the CNN poll just up and while 80% are saying no, I'm amazed that 20% would say yes.

Are we really going to let Osama bin Laden or anyone stop us from casting a vote?

The odds of our being the victim of a terror attack, even in this terrible climate, is exceptionally low. And we know that throughout the world, people risk their lives all the time just to go vote. Sometimes, they have to travels dozens if not hundreds of miles to do so.

If we're willing to put the election on hold, then maybe we don't deserve the picture we have of ourselves as a brave, can-do democracy.

Fox: Wall Street is Next Al Qaeda Target

That's what the NY Fox affiliate keeps heralding this morning.

All I can say is, uh huh.

And add that if there IS another terrorist attack, I hope to hell we investigate it far more thoroughly and hold officials far more accountable, than we did for 9/11.

I also wish I put it past Tom DeLay to push up the talk of terror attacks on New York to a) lower the price to GOP conventioneers in August b) to improve election results.

With Release of New Tape, Filipino Hostage's Fate Remains in Doubt

A new tape from the truck driver's supposed captors has surfaced which gives the Philippines government 11 days to withdraw its troops from Iraq or threatens the man will be executed/beheaded. But there's no date on the tape, and it's just adding more confusion.

Lebanese-American Marine Tells Military He was Abducted

That's Wassef Hassoun's story to the military and I'm inclined to believe him. I hope the military fully checks it out, given the fact that they jumped early (while the man may have remained captive) to the story his abduction was faked.

Ron Reagan to Speak at Dem Convention

As something of a fan (bad word, but I really respect the youngest Reagan because he's charted his own course when going along with his parents' crowd would have given him the world) of Ron Reagan, I'm pleased to hear this.

But I don't hold out any beliefs that this will attract swing voters (those attracted by Reagan's name are still not likely to vote Kerry-Edwards).

What it will provide is an articulate man who came to his own conclusions, has lived life his way, and who respects his mother and his late father even if he doesn't buy into their politics. The Dems could do far worse.

Fair and Impartial or Justice DeLay-ed?

So 80% of the Republicans researching allegations of corruption on behalf of House majority leader Tom DeLay have received contributions from DeLay's group? Justice bought and sold to the highest bidder with the lowest morals.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Four of the five Republicans investigating an ethics complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have received campaign contributions from DeLay's political action committee, records show.

The contributions -- $28,504 split among the four during the past seven years -- were all delivered before the ethics committee received the DeLay complaint June 15. But it is an example of awkward situations spawned by the U.S. House's decision to police itself on ethics.

"I think all the members hate" serving on the committee, said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan government watchdog.

"You're put in the position of either doing nothing -- which is what they generally do -- in which case you are fairly criticized for not taking your job seriously. On the other hand, you can try to enforce the rules and get all the other members angry at you," Noble told today's Austin American-Statesman.


Enough Already

I'm aggravated with the right's take on Edwards, but I'm almost as annoyed at Kerry-Edwards acting like they are starring in the feel good movie of the summer. They're smiling, they're touching, their laughing at each other's jokes.

But, speaking for a few Americans, there's a war on, a lot of people are out of meaningful work, most of us are exhausted from paying bills just by sheer imagination, and we're genuinely scared of what another four years of Bush will do.

Kerry and Edwards don't have to love each other, and love each other's families, and each other's puppies to affect a meaningful change.

Sharon and the Wall

With the remote control bombing that killed one and injured many others in Tel Aviv today, Israeli PM Ariel Sharon announced that he would ignore a court's ruling to stop building the security fence.

But if anyone believes that Ariel Sharon had any intention of stopping construction, I have swamp land in Florida and WMDs in Baghdad to sell you. Sharon says he's stopped settlements, and hammering is heard throughout the land each and every day as new settlements in seized areas commence construction.

Israel deserves better than this man as PM. However, that's a conclusion they need to come to for themselves. This "man of peace" - as Bush calls him, and Bush wouldn't know what a man of peace looked like - is a man whose return to power has probably been responsible for more bloodshed in the region than just about any other person or collective of persons put together.

For the world's sake, I hope this year spells the end to both Bush's and Sharon's power. Maybe then, the world can get back to trying to help in bring the Middle East slowly to peace.

What They'll Do About Election Day

From CNN:

U.S. officials have discussed the idea of postponing Election Day in the event of a terrorist attack on or about that day, a Homeland Security Department spokesman said Sunday. He added the discussions were sparked by intelligence indicating al Qaeda wants to "disrupt our democratic process." In March, there was a series of train bombings in Madrid, Spain, three days before the country's general election.
Again, I understand why these considerations need to be made, but I better not be the only person concerned about what it means if we allow the Bush crew to screw around (again, in a brand spanking new way) with the election.

Today, I kept hearing people cite, "Well, you know, New York did this when they had 9/11". But if you go back and look at NY history, the mayoral race changed quite a bit because of that decision. Some say the Republican, Bloomberg, who I don't think is the worst jerk but who has an overall approving rating circling the bowl, would not have won. The delay bought Bloomberg time to expend HUGE amounts of money which was considered what got him the job.

Remember, also, that Rudy Giuliani toyed with the idea of trying to retain his seat past the day when a new mayor had to be in place.

Power corrupts and absolute power... well, you know.

Senate Intelligence Report: Errors, Lies, Exaggerations

I was about to post about the Newsweek take on this matter (called "The Dots Never Existed") related to the CIA's intelligence and the Bush-Cheney push to war when I found that Lambert of Corrente summed it up so nicely:

Somehow—could it be that it's an election year?—the Republican Senate Intelligence committee released a report on the flawed intelligence the administration used to sell the Iraq war without mentioning that Bush didn't care whether the intelligence was flawed or not, as long it supported the conclusion he wanted. Michael Isikoff takes a more fair and balanced approach:
    [There are] many wince-inducing moments to be found in the 500-page Senate report, which lays out how the U.S. intelligence community utterly failed to accurately assess the state of Saddam Hussein's programs for weapons of mass destruction—and how White House and Pentagon officials, intent on taking the country to war, unquestioningly embraced the flawed conclusions.

    Taken together, the facts in the report show that virtually every major claim President George W. Bush used to justify the invasion of Iraq—from Saddam's growing nuclear program to his close ties with Al Qaeda—was either wrong or exaggerated.
    (via Newsweek)
When even a whore like Isikoff—so instrumental in the slow-moving, media-fuelled Repubublican coup against Clinton—isn't buying, you know the administration is in "deep doo doo."

The report did offer the administration one consolation: the investigators said they found no overt evidence that intelligence-community officials were directly pressured to distort their findings.

Except, as usual, as soon as you look at the detail, the Bush cover story falls apart:
    Some U.S. intelligence analysts complained to the CIA ombudsman that "the constant questions and requests to reexamine the issue of Iraq's links to terrorism [were] unreasonable and took away from their valuable analytic time." When the CIA reached a measured and ambiguous view of the connection—"Iraq and Al-Qaeda: Interpreting a Murky Relationship" was the title of one June 2002 report—a team of Pentagon hard-liners under the direction of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith strongly challenged the agency's conclusions. An August 2002 briefing that the Pentagon team gave to the then CIA Director George Tenet pushed evidence that Iraq might have been involved in the 9/11 attack. Their prime piece of evidence: alleged meetings in Prague between lead hijacker Muhammad Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent. In fact, the committee found that the meetings likely never occurred.
I wonder if Dick "Dick" Cheney keeps pushing the Atta "connection" because that one would be the easiest to fake, as a little surprise?

Too Many Sad Moments These Days

We received word tonight that my partner's uncle just died, and his son, a senior member of the Army Ranger, is being allowed the opportunity to hurry home, take part in his father's funeral, and then hurry back to Iraq. The Ranger also has very young children, and it's unclear whether the kids will get to see their dad (who comes into the other side of the country for the funeral) during this trip or not. I hope so, of course, because with war - just as it is with life - you never know when or if you will get another opportunity.

I also find myself thinking of the uncle, and how tough it must have been for him to face his last days worried about his son on the battlefield. It's a difficult thing in any situation, but on one's death bed coming to the end of life while only being able to hope and pray that your son - or daughter - will get to live out the rest of his or her time? It's not something easy to imagine in its complexity and pain.

Obviously, I hope the Ranger - and all the other soldiers from all the countries, along with the support workers - get to come home safely and soon. It is also my wish that Iraqi and Afghan families would be able to return to some semblance of normalcy. There has been enoug grief, and too many children have lost parents to this war.

I'll Be Enjoying Tom Friedman More the Next Few Months

That's because he's on sabbatical from his Times column until October.

Seems like odd timing, considering it's one of the most heated election years in probably any recent writing career. But I'm not about to question my - and my blood pressure's - good fortune.

Two Other Good Reads from The Times

First, there's this editorial on states like Florida who refuse voting privileges to those who have finished jail sentences:

About 4.7 million Americans, more than 2 percent of the adult population, are barred from voting because of a felony conviction. Denying the vote to ex-offenders is antidemocratic, and undermines the nation's commitment to rehabilitating people who have paid their debt to society. Felon disenfranchisement laws also have a sizable racial impact: 13 percent of black men have had their votes taken away, seven times the national average. But even if it were acceptable as policy, denying felons the vote has been a disaster because of the chaotic and partisan way it has been carried out.

Thirty-five states prohibit at least some people from voting after they have been released from prison. The rules about which felonies are covered and when the right to vote is restored vary widely from state to state, and often defy logic. In four states, including New York, felons on parole cannot vote, but felons on probation can. In some states, felons must formally apply for restoration of their voting rights, which state officials can grant or deny on the most arbitrary of grounds."
There is also this one on the Israeli security wall:
Two very different courts issued two very different judgments recently on the separation barrier Israel is building through the West Bank. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that Israel had the right to build a security barrier on occupied territory, but that certain sections posed an undue hardship on Palestinians and had to be rerouted. The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled on Friday that all of the barrier built on occupied territory was unlawful.

The Palestinians will fashion the nonbinding ruling from The Hague into a political battering ram, but their greatest victory may lie in the similarities between the international and Israeli rulings. In his opinion, Aharon Barak, the Israeli chief justice, agreed that Israel holds the West Bank "in belligerent occupation" and is therefore subject to international law. The court accepted, moreover, that Israel cannot build barriers on occupied land if their purpose is political or "motivated by the desire to annex territory." It held that Zionist ideology is not an acceptable justification for seizing occupied lands.
The emphasis on the last part is mine, something I'd like desperately to point out to some wing-nut jerks here at home.

Let Them Eat Wedding Cake

That's the title of this piece in The Times today by a guest contributor regarding the half-assed plan by Bush to promote marriage (good normal heterosexual, once a month whether the wife wants it or not) at whatever cost.

Commitment isn't easy for guys — we all know that — but the Bush administration is taking the traditional male ambivalence about marriage to giddy new heights. On the one hand, it wants to ban gays from marrying, through a constitutional amendment that the Senate will vote on this week. On the other hand, it's been avidly promoting marriage among poor women — the straight ones anyway.

Opponents of gay marriage claim that there is some consistency here, in that gay marriages must be stopped before they undermine the straight ones. How the married gays will go about wrecking heterosexual marriages is not entirely clear: by moving in next door, inviting themselves over and doing a devastating critique of the interior decorating?

It is equally unclear how marriage will cure poor women's No. 1 problem, which is poverty — unless, of course, the plan is to draft C.E.O.'s to marry recipients of T.A.N.F. (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). Left to themselves, most women end up marrying men of the same social class as their own, meaning — in the case of poverty-stricken women — blue-collar men. But that demographic group has seen a tragic decline in earnings in the last couple of decades. So I have been endeavoring to calculate just how many blue-collar men a T.A.N.F. recipient needs to marry to lift her family out of poverty.

The answer turns out to be approximately 2.3, which is, strangely enough, illegal...

Another of Our (Cough) Success Stories

A bomb in a police station (of which this poor country must have oh, at least 7) has killed five.

BTW, on that Anthrax Building Cleanup....

Who else is handling the cleanup but a firm run by Rudy Giuliani, who's made a FORTUNE post-911 starting up all these leadership and anti-terrorism, and "beating Americans into submissiveness out of fear" businesses. His father would be REAL proud (points if you know about Giuliana's papa).

Some of this stuff surpasses incest for obscenity.

I remember thinking our real loss of national innocence began in my high school years, when Nixon and CREEP came to light. I had no idea how much worse was in store just 30 years later.

Keep Dick Cheney as GOP VP Choice

Republicans may be arguing and otherwise debating whether to leave Dick Cheney on the Bush ticket, but anyone else with a lick of sense knows that just removing Dick's name from the ticket will NOT remove him from making all the decisions.

If Rudy Giuliani (a sentimental rather than a sane choice) or John ("Do I seem a little disingenuous to you because even I'm having trouble keeping up with my mood changes?") McCain or whoever is named instead, Dick will STILL manage all the strings. That's a no brainer. The GOP would be happy to sell the Cheney name down the river because they continue to keep Cheney, the wizard behind the curtain of secrecy.

Thus, I would think it would be in everyone's best interest to leave Cheney visible. He's spent enough time in that secret bunker, no? And the viper you can see is better that the one lurking in the shadows you can't.

Believe it or not, I am not simply saying this because Cheney seems almost universally disliked and distrusted, even among many Republicans. I don't want anyone pulling strings out of sight, regardless of their political affiliation. While it seems too much to ask for anyone in Washington to be held accountable, let's at least try to keep the names on the table.

Lame and Lamer: They are STILL Trying to Disinfect the Building

Nearly three years since the anthrax attacks hit in post 9/11 America, the government is YET AGAIN trying to disinfect the tabloid press building where the first case was spotted. A couple of the post offices have never been put back online either.

What gives?

Filipino Hostage's Life Hangs in Balance

The Philippines has rejected an additional demand from insurgents saying they hold - and may behead - a 46-yr-old truck driver to remove all their troops from Iraq by July 20th. The government did agree two days ago to bring back their troops, although not as soon as the newly-requested 7/20 deadline.

About the Meek and Humble Mr. Bush

Oliver Willis posts this item contributed by a poster at Live Journal:

Just another example of the Bush regime's contempt for its citizens.

    Sean had to go back to work (he snuck out to join in the fun), so we drove him back to my place where his car was, then me, Adam, and Brendan went to another spot along the highway that we had spied earlier. A friendly Kerry supporter named Mr. Shenk let us use his front yard to display our banners. Now comes the good part. After waiting around for about 45 minutes, the motorcade passed by us again. A few police cars, followed by a van or two, drove by. Then, a Bush/Cheney bus passed, followed by a second one going slower. At the front of this second bus was The W himself, waving cheerily at his supporters on the other side of the highway. Adam, Brendan, and I rose our banner (the More Trees, Less Bush one) and he turned to wave to our side of the road. His smile faded, and he raised his left arm in our direction. And then, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States of America, extended his middle finger.
Read that last sentence again.
I got flipped off by George W. Bush.

Question: Which of Christ's Beatitudes Applies to Bush?

I happened to see Tom Schaller's post ("God Squad") at Daily Kos, and as he reminded me of the eight beatitudes of Jesus, the very first thing that struck me was how they applied (or did not) to our president. Here they are:


    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
    Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
    Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
    Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
    Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Gospel of Matthew 5:3-10)

Let's take these one by one:


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Nope. Doesn't fit Bush at all. He may be poor of mind but not spirit, and he's certainly not poor of wallet although he's not exactly philanthropic.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Mourn? Name a service person's funeral he's attended. None. One rumor persists, although he denies the coke charge completely and says he stopped all drinking and drugging more than a quarter century ago, that he bought coke at his father's inauguration and was stoned for his paternal grandmother's funeral. And no, I don't mean coke as in "I've rather have a Pepsi."

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Meek? In the words of Bush - far from the front lines - "bring 'em on."

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Bush does not hunger or thirst for anything. He has everything and damn does he feel entitled to his largesse, too.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Remember how he joked to fellow conservative Tucker Carlson, mocking Karla Fay Tucker's conversion to Christ, as she was about to be executed in Texas under his watch? And that's just one small example.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

I'm sorry but I see nothing pure in the president's heart or mind.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Bush and his cronies call him a peacemaker, but he's anything but. If he could find a way to drop MOABs on blue states, he'd do it. And at least twice.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Gospel of Matthew 5:3-10)

How can he be persecuted? Mr. Bush never takes responsibility for any of his errors.

Beautifully Said

Ted at Crooked Timber points us to a final posting by blogger Katherine of Obsidian Wings talking about human rights and our treatment of people we even weakly suspect may be terrorists. Go read.

And on a side note, you have to see the kitty sniper.

Wolf's VP Poll

This is hilarious. Wolf Blitzer had Lynne Cheney on "Late Edition" and really pushed his VP poll ("Who would make the best VP? Cheney or Edwards?). Even with all of Lynne's spinning and Wolf reminding us that Edwards is a trial lawyer with little government experience, here are the results right now:

    * Cheney: 16%
    * Edwards: 84%

Lynne Cheney, Complete Megalomaniac Madwoman

I made the mistake of fixing a nice brunch and then sitting down to Wolf Blitzer where Lynne Cheney was featured. Words escape me.

There were moments like "Well, Mr. Kerry had no reason to use the F word but Mr. Cheney used the F word on behalf of American democracy in a private place (who knew the floor of the Senate which we pay for was a freaking private place?) to an evil man (Pat Leahy, uh huh). She kept spinning around the issue of why the American people do not like or trust Mr. Cheney (and of the two - Lynne and Dick - Dick may be the least maniacal).

Funny thing is during Clinton, everyone was so worried Hillary might get some power. But if Dick runs the country, Lynne runs Dick, which means she has her thick, nasty thumb in everything.

Bus Explosion in Tel Aviv Injured 12 Israelis

Right now, that's all the detail. One assumes the explosion is a bomb and if so, it would be unusual to have just injuries rather than deaths (although the bomber, not Israeli, would certainly die).