Although So Much is Going On

Posting is apt to be quite light this weekend as I work on a project from hell.

You're welcome to use the Comments below here to start your own kvetch.

Relational databases, ugh.


First Casualty of GOP Convention: PD Officer Assaulted by Armed Boob?

One of the funniest stories I've heard this week is one the media keeps telling about how they've already had an officer hurt by a group of protestors.

Now, bear in mind these protestors were buck naked. There were just 11. The ones I saw looked slightly out of shape. At most, they held a soft banner.

NY police, OTOH, this week are done up in full commando gear, looking like fat Michelin men with their personal body armor, their guns, and nightsticks, etc.

And no details of how that officer was hurt are ever provided. What happened? Did the buxom woman accidentally slap him in the cheek with an oversized mammary?

As much as I love a good piece of fiction, this just doesn't smell right. It's more propaganda to pump up anti-protestor sentiment.

Then, on Hardball, they had a chubby little fellow named Duberstein who openly talked about how little the president liked New York (what a complete surprise!). And Duberstein, seeing a group of moms with their strollers (Mothers Opposed to Bush) walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with John Kerry t-shirts. He called them the extreme left and laughed about them.

So a mother concerned with her child growing up in a world of constant, US-issued war is a lefty pinko communist? Nice.

Al Qaeda to Attack VA Hospitals (And Other Bullshit)

Now the government is telling us Al Qaeda may strike VA hospitals.

If you don't think that's politically related (on our gov's part), at a time when veterans are up in arms over Kerry-Swift Boat), I've got a lovely, somewhat older bridge in Brooklyn I'd love to sell you.

The most serious danger to VA hospitals - and to soldiers and veterans as a whole - is the Bush Administration. They like to get their picture taken with men (and sometimes women but that upsets the severe right who want women in the kitchen or off birthin' babies) in uniform, but they've done nothing but undercut services while shafting each and every vet they could.

If you DO want an attack on a VA hospital, then I suppose you'll be voting for Mr. Bush in November. (Cough)

Canadian MP: America a Damned Idiot

From Reuters:

Canadian Member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish had said she hated "damned Americans" and called them bastards in the run-up to the Iraq war.

She found a new moniker, idiots, on Wednesday in discussing the planned U.S. missile defense system.

"We are not joining the coalition of the idiots. We are joining the coalition of the wise," the Liberal legislator told a small group of demonstrators.
I know there will be hordes of Americans outraged by this, but we really need to consider that the woman has a point.

Of course, no one likes to be called an idiot. But I think that's actually a kind word for what happened with Iraq. We can't let the American flag turn into a blindfold for its citizens. We need to get back on the road in making America better, rather than simply bullying and going forward with measures to prove our might whether the action is worthy or not. And bullying and big-detonation kick ass have been what the last four years have brought us.

By failing to admit we were very wrong in going into Iraq - not to mention asking hard questions about the people (oh, say, like our president) - who insisted on doing on and then, in the face of reality, have insisted they were right, we're effectively spitting bile into a high-velocity fan. Blowback's a bitch.

Like it or not, too, Canada's proven a very good friend through this period of time. They've jumped into help several times. But, like a very good friend, they've said, "You're making a mistake" when they thought so and refused to be forced into just towing the line when the US tried to force them to do so.

I think we've got a few things to learn from our quiet friend across the border.

When You're a Bush, You Don't Need to Hide Your Dirty Tricks Beneath You

Dick Meyer has an excruciatingly on-target piece this week:

If you had any thought that the first presidential campaign after 9/11 would be especially sober and responsible, give it up.

There are a million angles to the saga of John Kerry and his swift boat enemies and none of them reveal anything virtuous about politics. But one element that is missing from this story is surprise.

Any student of Bush family campaigns could have seen the swift boat shiv shining a mile away. This old family has traditions – horseshoes, fishing, bad syntax and having the help do the dirty work in campaigns as well as the kitchen. And they are very good at getting jobs done without leaving fingerprints, without compromising their patrician image and their alleged character.

Even the audaciousness of this year’s episode is not surprising. Who would have believed that George Bush, with all the trouble over his National Guard service, could get John Kerry in hot water for his combat duty and medals in Vietnam? Well, anyone who saw what George Bush did to former POW John McCain in the 2000 primaries, which was even more outrageous.
The beauty of the Swift Boat Ads is that even though the SBVofT had had their stories poked senseless with holes, the media acts like they must be telling the truth, even when documented evidence says something else. They don't NEED to buy much air time; the media plays their ads over and over and over each day. It's like non-stop Bush advertising, but from the "journalists".


Keep One Thing in Mind Re: The GOP Convention in NY

Leslie Kagan and others have worked very hard to stage a legal, coordinated, and peaceful - although passionate - protest against the Republican platform. NYC and the feds, on the other hand, have worked every way possible to demonize protestors (in a way, you'll note, that did not occur with protestors at the DNC in Boston last month) and to force them into areas, and into possible acts of civil disobedience (BIG difference from cruel anarchy), that will make the public hate the protestors.

Fox News in NY, for example, has head headlines for days that "protestors are taking their hate for Bush out on this fine city". Bullshit.

We'll see a few people who do misbehave. But the people who are really sacrificing to be in NY to protest are people who will not cause harm, want peaceful solutions, and respect one another as well as the citizens of New York. They don't want to stop the GOP Convention, they just want to be heard, noticed, and not considered (as by Mr. Bush) "just a focus group of unhappy people".

I've met too many of these people since late 2001 to think 99.7% of people attending plan to do anything but hold peaceful demonstrations. This ain't 1968.

Happy Women's Equality Day!

I'm waiting for Mr. Bush to add any woman who wants equality and decision-making capabilities over her own body to the terrorist watch list.


Sorry, No Sale by Mr. Cheney on "Kinder" Gay Platform

While Mr. Cheney did indeed come out yesterday and, perhaps for the first time in this election cycle, acknowledged that he has a gay daughter (and his wife writes gay fiction - you don't suppose the men in their lives have disappointed them, do you? (cough)), I did not buy for a minute that he was making a real statement about his views that "sounded" like a gentle departure from the rabid anti-gay (sad that "pro-family" is the euphemism they attached to pure hatred and fear) GOP platform this year.

Funny thing is, I'd like to think someone like Dick Cheney could entertain the possibility of a platform that recognizes all Americans, and not simply those who are (evangelical) Christian, in nuclear families, white, rich, etc. I listened (and then read) his words over and over again trying to decide if I believed what he said. But I couldn't even be sure that he believed what he said.

Indeed, I'm afraid it was just a "soft" touch laying the ground for a GOP convention whose speakers and overall media voice (where almost all of the main speakers are so-called moderates when the platform this year is anything but moderate), thus covering for America any perception of the reality: that the rabid nutcases have usurped the Republican party.

Dole Gets More Pompous

I saw a preview (trust me, my stomach and sanity won't permit me watching the whole thing) of Joe Scarbrough's show on MSNBC tonight where Bob Dole responds to charges that he was improperly critical ("hey, your wound didn't bleed") comments about John Kerry on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday.

What little I saw showed classic Dole: mean, little, snide, arrogant (but with his also classic obvious insecurity underlying the bravado), and far more critical of Kerry. This seems strange considering there remains, all these decades later, some critics of Mr. Dole's self-reported bravery in an earlier war.

This seemed so strange to watch after just hearing about the Marine soldier's father in Florida who, upon getting the news of his first born son's death in Iraq, set a military van on fire and climbed in, being wrestled out by the military folks who came to give him the horrible news.

Is someone like Mr. Dole going to come out later and question this young man's heroism in Iraq as Mr. Dole has Mr. Kerry, the entire GOP did with Max Cleland? Before you insist, "Of course not", think again. Are you sure? If it's for Mr. Bush's political gain, I think it is certainly possible this could happen. Nothing, after all, matters as much to the right as Mr. Bush's re-(s)election.

Already, the right is respinning the focus saying that Kerry is telling any veteran who doesn't support him to shut up. That's hardly the case. But the right is very good at what they do: defining a debate (even if there is no truth to that definition), and the press AND the Democratic machine allowing them to do so.


Dole Supposedly Has Refused to Take Back His Comments

This, even though we're told he's been informed of the documented facts in the case, documents under the control of Donny-Boy Rumsfeld who could simply choose to loose them.

It's a shame that in his later years, Dole has become nothing but a whore. A whore for Pepsi, a whore for Viagra, and now just a whore.

Speaking of the Non-Coincidental

Word out tonight that Bush's campaign lawyer is also the lawyer for the Swift Boats group.

Frankly, however, the GOP has dug itself in too deeply on this one, and taken much of the mainstream media with it. If they found a check from Karl Rove, specifically underwritten by George Bush with OUR tax money, with the memo section saying, "FOR ANTI-KERRY SWIFT BOAT ADS", you'd still have Wolfie Blitzer and half of MSNBC reciting the lies like they're truth.

Two Russian Planes Down

Both are roughly the same model, both have crashed within a short time of each other, and both departed within minutes of one another some distance before they went down. Unless they somehow ran into each other down the line, it doesn't sound like much of a concidence.

Putin's called out the anti-terrorism people, but I'd say they might be a little late. About 94 people (so far) too late.

The Fog of Cable"

Alessandra Stanley has a quite nearly wonderful piece today in The Times about the fog of cable news in the Swift Boat nastiness, repeating lies with more frequency than the facts and allowing people to say things against documented evidence while not challenging them on it.

There is the fog of war and then there is the fog of cable.

Over the last few weeks, 24-hour news networks have done little to find out what John Kerry did in Vietnam, but they have provided a different kind of public service: their examination of his war record in Vietnam illustrates once again just how perfunctory and confusing cable news coverage can be. Facts, half-truths and passionately tendentious opinions get tumbled together on screen like laundry in an industrial dryer - without the softeners of fact-checking or reflection.

Somehow, on all-cable news stations - CNN as well as Fox News - a story that rises or falls on basic and mostly verifiable facts blurs into just another developing news sensation alongside the latest Utah kidnapping or the Scott Peterson murder trial. (It is particularly confusing on Fox News, where so many of its blond female anchors look like Amber Frey.)
Well, I'd disagree with at least some of that last part. I suspect the Fox women have the morals of Amber but almost all of them are significantly older and probably slept on the first date with better men. (Cough)

Laurie Dhue, for example, has been looking like the starving ingenue across three networks for years, looking like mud nor a doughnut ever came close to her silk-suited body. Rita Crosby strikes me as one of Rupert Murdoch's cheap dates.

But Fox and women seem like a strange mix anyway. All of the women - and many of the men - behave as if they have "slaves of Rupert" tattooed on their liposuctioned little butts. Others, like O'Reilly, just play the audience for complete fools (and O'Reilly has a lot to work with in that department). (Cough, cough)

The SnotFest Lives On

Actually, no, I'm not talking about the Swift Boat Vets ads. (Cough)

If you notice a certain sense of rushing here recently, or just empty-headedness, I plead guilty. I'm about to start my fifth straight week of miserable respiratory infection gone amok and my brain, apparently slogged with snot, refuses to function.

Ironically enough, the more stupid I get, the more work I have to do. I've been blessed by a tsunami of assignments, all of them huge, all of them do yesterday, all of them detailed as hell. But you know you've been sick too long when you craft a database backed by data on facial tissues and decongestant tablets. (Achoo!)

So you'll just have to bear with me. If you don't, I'll be forced to hunt you down and breathe upon you. And you don't want that. Not with my breath. Not that I can smell my breath, of course. I lost my hearing and sense of smell some time ago. (Lord love a duck.)

Chloroseptic, anyone? It goes great with cheese.

Top Brass Shares Responsibility for Prison Abuse

Wow, what a surprise. (sarcasm mode OFF)

From the AP:

The Pentagon's most senior civilian and military officials share a portion of blame for creating conditions that led to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, according to a new report. The report, by a commission appointed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was briefing Rumsfeld on its findings and recommendations Tuesday in advance of a Pentagon news conference to release the details. The commission was headed by James Schlesinger, a former secretary of defense.
I find it difficult to summon much pity for some of the enlisted men and women being charged in all of this. I, however, have never walked in their shoes. They have been through situations I never have, and hope never to experience.

But please, let's stop pretending this was just a few rogue individuals getting sadistic jollies with prisoners. It's clear that the rush to indict and try these military people at the south end of the Pentagon ladder is based upon trying to shield those at the top. We sent these young men and women into Iraq, and we have to take responsibility for what they did. If indeed - as it seems - they were effectively ordered into the abuse, we cannot simply punish them.

This is the "freedom" we brought to Iraq, which smells a lot like the "freedom" we brought to Afghanistan.

Nothing makes me more ill than to listen to that new Bush campaign ad where he takes credit for turning Iraq and Afghanistan into glorious democracies. These countries are neither glorious nor democracies. We have NOT improved their quality of life. We've devastated their countries and left them in worse shape than before.

On Donkey's Mind

Welcome to Donkey2004.

Speaking of Distinguished Service Medals

Perhaps someone could check here and explain why Mr. Bush kept being photographed wearing a medal there is no documentation he earned. There's not even a sales receipt from Dad buying it for him.

You Can Sleep Safe Tonight!

That's because Pakistan has caught the big one in our engineered War on Terror!

Yes, indeed, boys and girls: this is a huge catch. Guaranteed to turn the corner in this fight to the death. Sure to make us all vote for George Bush (just in case Diebold forgets to cheat everywhere).

Drum roll, please! They have, in custody, bin Laden's former personal chef.

OK, why does all this seem like a bad joke? The man hasn't even worked for bin Laden since around the time of 9-11.

What's next? His former governess? A wet nurse from infancy? Third grade math teacher? First woman with whom he reached premature ejaculation?

Hell, maybe we'll find out that Osama is the ONE person who can testify for certain that Mr. Bush served out his time in the National Guard. God only knows that Gary Trudeau's $10,000 reward didn't net anyone who could attest to it.

And Since This is an All-Volunteer Army

I've got a few people I'd like to volunteer to get into the nitty-gritty and fight (a real war, too, and not what they wage in the media):

    * Michelle Malkin
    * Karl Rove
    * Tom DeLay
    * Dick Cheney and his puppet, "W" McCarthy
    * Ann Coulter
    * Dennis Miller (there's a stink bomb!)
    * Sean Hannity
    * Rush Lamehog (silly me!) Limbaugh

"Folly in the West Bank"

I hate to say "I told you so" but I did.

The Bush administration is driving American credibility as a Middle East peacemaker to a new low with its support for a major expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. While designed to provide a short-term boost to Israel's embattled prime minister, Ariel Sharon, this cynical change in administration policy will have important long-term costs. It will further demoralize Israeli and Palestinian moderates, frustrate Washington's closest European and Middle Eastern allies, and undermine the American-backed road map peace plan, which, though a long shot, is the only current peaceful political alternative.
On November 3rd, Mr. Bush and company will be back to saying cute things like, "I knew a Jew. Once."

Krugman is on Fire

Figuratively, that is... and I like the glow!

Almost a year ago, on the second anniversary of 9/11, I predicted "an ugly, bitter campaign - probably the nastiest of modern American history." The reasons I gave then still apply. President Bush has no positive achievements to run on. Yet his inner circle cannot afford to see him lose: if he does, the shroud of secrecy will be lifted, and the public will learn the truth about cooked intelligence, profiteering, politicization of homeland security and more.

But recent attacks on John Kerry have surpassed even my expectations. There's no mystery why. Mr. Kerry isn't just a Democrat who might win: his life story challenges Mr. Bush's attempts to confuse tough-guy poses with heroism, and bombast with patriotism.

One of the wonders of recent American politics has been the ability of Mr. Bush and his supporters to wrap their partisanship in the flag. Through innuendo and direct attacks by surrogates, men who assiduously avoided service in Vietnam, like Dick Cheney (five deferments), John Ashcroft (seven deferments) and George Bush (a comfy spot in the National Guard, and a mysterious gap in his records), have questioned the patriotism of men who risked their lives and suffered for their country: John McCain, Max Cleland and now John Kerry.

How have they been able to get away with it? The answer is that we have been living in what Roger Ebert calls "an age of Rambo patriotism." As the carnage and moral ambiguities of Vietnam faded from memory, many started to believe in the comforting clichés of action movies, in which the tough-talking hero is always virtuous and the hand-wringing types who see complexities and urge the hero to think before acting are always wrong, if not villains.

After 9/11, Mr. Bush had a choice: he could deal with real threats, or he could play Rambo. He chose Rambo. Not for him the difficult, frustrating task of tracking down elusive terrorists, or the unglamorous work of protecting ports and chemical plants from possible attack: he wanted a dramatic shootout with the bad guy. And if you asked why we were going after this particular bad guy, who hadn't attacked America and wasn't building nuclear weapons - or if you warned that real wars involve costs you never see in the movies - you were being unpatriotic.

Everything is Secret But Your Vote

From the AP:

The three companies that certify the nation's voting technologies operate in secrecy, and refuse to discuss flaws in the ATM-like machines to be used by nearly one in three voters in November.

Despite concerns over whether the so-called touchscreen machines can be trusted, the testing companies won't say publicly if they have encountered shoddy workmanship.

They say they are committed to secrecy in their contracts with the voting machines' makers -- even though tax money ultimately buys or leases the machines.

"I find it grotesque that an organization charged with such a heavy responsibility feels no obligation to explain to anyone what it is doing," Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist and electronic voting expert, told lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

The system for "testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent," Shamos added.
Gosh, I feel sooooo much better now (not).


"Mighty Mouse!"

Donald Rumsfeld: read here for your next generation "army on the cheap".

President: Too Busy for the GOP

The President, it turns out, will only spend fleeting hours at the GOP convention next week, basically walking in, picking up his nomination ("I earned it, y'know"), and then heading off again. Probably needs another vacation since hours will have elapsed since his last one.

It's tough to be ruler of the world, appointed by God. It interferes with nap time and Condi letting him ride horsy on her knee while the twins are off to the gay marriage or funeral of their personal eyebrow waxer (I kid you not - I didn't even know anyone would have a personal eyebrow waxer).

How Dare Bob Dole Question Kerry's Wounds

I was fuming watching Mr. Viagra on CNN with Wolf today, and my ire was reawakened by this post from Josh Marshall:

Today Bob Dole suggested that one or more of John Kerry's Purple Hearts may have been fraudulent in some way because they were for "superficial wounds."

Dole knows better.

In a 1988 campaign-trail autobiography, here's how Dole described the incident that earned him his first Purple Heart: "As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch (remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them). In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg--the sort of injury the Army patched up with Mercurochrome and a Purple Heart."

Halliburton (Dick Cheney's Company) Contracts Skyrocket

The windfalls of non-stop war throughout the world waged on "our" behalf, indeed.

From the Center for Public Integrity:

The oil services company Halliburton, largely through its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, has received more revenue from government contracts in the last year than from 1998 through 2002. In 2003, when the company had record revenue of $16.3 billion, Halliburton received contracts from the Department of Defense worth $4.3 billion, while in the previous five years it obtained less than $2.5 billion from the military, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

Although figures are not yet available for 2004, government revenue is bound to increase as a result of the contracts the company has won for work in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq, which so far potentially totals $11.4 billion. Some of that work was actually awarded earlier; many of the company's contracts extend for multiple years.

In 1998, Halliburton's total revenue was $14.5 billion; that year, the company got contracts from the Pentagon worth $284 million. Two years later, revenue had dropped to just under $12 billion while work under DoD contracts more than doubled. In 2002, DoD awarded Halliburton tasks worth $485 million while the company's revenue was $12.6 billion.

Of the more than 150 American companies that together have received U.S. government contracts potentially worth more than $51 billion for postwar work in Afghanistan and Iraq, Halliburton is by far the largest recipient of contracts awarded in the two countries.

I'd Congratulate Mr. Bush on the New Overtime Rules, But I'd Be in Overtime and It Wouldn't Be Paid


Condolences to the many of you about to be formally screwed under the Bush Administration's new (no) overtime law as it goes into effect. Mr. Bush, having never made it to the south end of a 40-hour (or a 30- or a 20- perhaps) work week, doesn't believe overtime is necessary. Remember, he says he doesn't understand how poor people think, so he didn't have to worry about how the overtime law would hurt them.


Hostage Journalist Alive, Well, and Out of Bonds

Micah Garen is free now, and he says his captors treated him well.

Thank you to Moqtada al Sadr for appealing twice on this man's behalf. I hope Garen's translator is also alive and free (but apparently, since he's not American, the media here doesn't care).

The GOP Convention Drinking Game

Roger Ailes proposes a drinking game for the GOP convention. While I'm not into alcohol, let me promise to have a shot if Nancy Reagan appears (knowing there's no way in hell she'll stand up for doofus).

What if it Had Been Dole's Service Attacked?

The Boston Globe asks a good question in an editorial entitled, "Big Lies for Bush".

IMAGINE IF supporters of Bill Clinton had tried in 1996 to besmirch the military record of his opponent, Bob Dole. After all, Dole was given a Purple Heart for a leg scratch probably caused, according to one biographer, when a hand grenade thrown by one of his own men bounced off a tree. And while the serious injuries Dole sustained later surely came from German fire, did the episode demonstrate heroism on Dole's part or a reckless move that ended up killing his radioman and endangering the sergeant who dragged Dole off the field?


The truth, according to many accounts, is that Dole fought with exceptional bravery and deserves the nation's gratitude. No one in 1996 questioned that record. Any such attack on behalf of Clinton, an admitted Vietnam draft dodger, would have been preposterous.

Yet amazingly, something quite similar is happening today as supporters of President Bush attack the Vietnam record of Senator John Kerry.

The situations are not completely parallel. Bush was not a draft dodger, but he certainly was a Vietnam avoider, having joined the Texas Air National Guard rather than serving in the regular military.

Kerry, on the other hand, may have done more than Dole to qualify as a genuine war hero. Although his tour in Vietnam was short, on at least two occasions he acted decisively and with great daring in combat, saving at least one man's life and earning both a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. That's not our account or Kerry's; it is drawn from eyewitnesses and the military citations themselves.