Women to Be Banned from Combat Units in New Bill

Amanda at Pandagon also brings us this (which just floors me considering how we keep hearing the military is understaffed):

The newest idea from the Republican fantasyland where there's no reason to think there might be serious drawbacks to rolling back the clock to the previous century:
    WASHINGTON -- Women soldiers in the U.S. Army would be barred from serving in combat support units under language added to a defense bill Wednesday. Proponents of the measure said it would affect only a small number of women, while opponents said over time, it would drastically alter the face of the modern army.

True Lies: Lying Their Way into Schools to Lie to Kids

Visit here and tell me if you would want a single one of those "speakers" pictured here near your kids.

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon posted this about them:

The latest news from Feministing doesn't help my paranoia. Apparently, a school in Bozeman, Montana hired a woman from a organization called (I shit you not) True Lies to give a brief presentation and she threatened them with their lives if they dare use contraception.

    Wells demanded the school give equal time to rebut the "misinformation" his son heard: that condoms lead to cancer, that birth control pills are only 20 percent effective, that sexually transmitted diseases are spread by skin contact alone, that third-trimester fetuses can be aborted, that video games lead to homicide, that human papilloma virus can be transferred through condoms and that teens can achieve "second virginity" through abstinence.
I wonder if that second virginity cures the condom-induced cancer.

Abstinence-only educators who actively promote the idea that using contraceptives in and of themselves is harmful to someone's health have crossed the line from wanting to keep kids abstinent until marriage and into the territory of actively discouraging people to use contraception--ever. If condoms cause cancer in unmarried people, they cause it in married people.

To claim you're an organization who wants to end the lies told to children and then perpetrate scientifically egregious lies yourself is preposterous.

The Infamous Lincoln Bedroom

Crooked Timber notes that while USA Today announced that Mr. Bush is actually exceeding the Clinton's much-publicized in the mainstream media practice of extending invitations to big donors to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom (a point that had the GOP peeing all over themselves on page 1 at least one day every week of the administration), they buried it on page 17 when Clinton's always made page 1.

Meanwhile, the crew at Atrios notes that, unlike the Lewinsky scandal with Clinton that was page 1 every day in the press when they weren't discussing the Lincoln Bedroom, the Washington Post put the story of the Downing Street memo, the smoking gun about the cooked war, on page 18, after Marmaduke, the cartoon.

Tom DeLay: Dems Have No Class

Dear God, is this too funny or what?

If Mr. DeLay is an example of class, please... let us all be the antithesis!

And to say that in an audience where people had to pay $250 a ticket AND Jeff Gannon was one of the honored guests. Supposed ol' JD showed Tom a trick or two, including how not to "DeLay"? Or perhaps Jeff was "deep undercover" doing reporting for one of the Faux Snooze "investigative" journalists like Geraldo or... now even more ridiculous, Shepard Smith?

Thank You, Mr. Judd.

I never expected to hear Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and Ms. (please don't make me call her Dr.) Rice wishing me happy birthday.

[Ed. note: No, not until Monday. And she expected more that they would send her to Guantanamo Bay.]

Film Takes on Texas' Abstinence Only Policy

A girls' film made by young women who live the stories you'd find in an area (South Texas) where the teen pregnancy rate is among the highest in the country has won critical praise and has been ordered by schools across the country. The girls want to see contraception taught in schools along with abstinence.

Vermont Health Care

Those looking for a copy of the bill originally passed by the House and now under review by the Senate can be found here. There is some question as to how universal this plan will be; Vermonters can opt out under this plan and there is some concern about how this plan will work if you're covered by Green Mountain Health and you get sick out of state.

I was interested to hear that Governor Jim Douglas dismissed the poll done by WCAX (where a solid majority want universal care) as "inexpensive" and not very scientific. Man, I know a lot of polls that fit that bill. Douglas is perhaps choosing the limits of his vision carefully. His friends in DC will not be happy if Vermont gets universal health care, which is fine by me.

In fact, the WCAX poll reflects numbers seen across the board throughout the nation. While this country has often rejected the idea of universal health care, attitudes appear to be changing. I just read Pew Research polls published at Tapped, for example, that show among both Dems and GOP, there is a majority in all groups except "GOP enterprisers" wanting access to affordable, universal health care. Before, universal care was strictly a "Dem" concept and sometimes, not even a majority of Dems supported it. But as the level of care in the US has changed and costs rose staggeringly, this has changed. Mr. Douglas, in dismissing the WCAX poll, would do well to look at the Pew Research numbers. I've seen similar numbers elsewhere, but Pew's are the latest.

State-Mandated Executions Come to New England

Michael Ross, the convicted killer of several women in the Connecticut area, was put to death early Friday morning by the state of Connecticut. Ross, who acknowledged his guilt, did not want to pursue any more appeals to prolong his life.

I lived in Connecticut when the murders happened and when Connecticut chose to reinstitute the death penalty. I did not support the return of the death penalty, as some of you who know me can well imagine.

I do not believe that the state should be allowed to kill anymore than individuals should kill. In a civilized society, especially one that loves to promote itself as "a culture of life", state executions strike me as an abomination even before we calculate how many cases have involved coerced testimony, faked lab results, a presumption of guilt by many juries (despite the "innocent until proven guilty" language we use), and in which the state - as keepers of the chain of evidence - sometimes have problems with either a) providing a sample for independent DNA analysis or b) keeping the chain of custody pure. DNA is still often more interpretive than conclusive; we're still in our infancy in understanding and saying for sure that "this DNA sample could only match this person."

When John Ashcroft was Attorney General, there were numerous reports of him going after local prosecutors to demand the death penalty be exercised in cases even when there were existing plea bargains or where the evidence seemed flimsy. His reasoning, he said, was that "it is time" for New England and the Northeast as a whole to "get over" its long history of not executing prisoners. If he could execute one person, he seemed to feel, the door was open to execute many more.

Gee, I'm not sure that's a standard that I'm comfortable fulfilling. Ashcroft is gone now, but New England has executed its first person since 1960. I hope we don't make this a habit, as states like Florida and Texas do. I don't think the crimes committed speak well of our society, nor do I feel the imposition of state-sponsored death does so either.

Often enough, we hear from the victim's family, "he (or she) has to be executed to give us some closure". In truth, however, many such survivors - even when they attend the execution and fulfill the "eye for an eye" mandate - report soon thereafter that the execution brought them no closure whatsoever. A state-sponsored death is not going to provide that; closure is an internal process.

Why Uzbekistan Revolts Matter

The press is telling us that countless bodies line the streets in various parts of Uzbekistan, Mr. Bush's so-called "great" ally in the War in Error. The Times reports hundreds dead, and the fight getting worse.

Many of those fighting are fighting because of the brutality of the government. Uzbekistan is not only Mr. Bush's ally, it's where we often send "detainees" to be tortured to elicit confessions, sometimes to crimes they never committed.

I look at the faces of the children and young adults there, and I see desperation and fear. I wonder how we can partner with this country when it treats its own citizens so badly. But Mr. Bush, of course, has no problem with treating his own citizens badly, so he's not going to lose a moment of his vaulted 10 hours of sleep a night worrying about an Uzbek.

Elsewhere, more die every day in Afghanistan's anti-US protests. Remember how we pronounced the "democracy" we had created there? Now we fire on the people who took those words seriously and want the U.S. to leave.

132 U.S. Mayors Go Against Bush to Support Kyoto Treaty

GentleBreezes brings us this story from The Times.

Sometimes, democracy works in spite of our president.

Irony, Thy Name is Wal-Mart

Pretty funny (not ha-ha, no) when you consider that Wal-Mart regularly makes decisions on what books YOU can purchase there. From the WaPo:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said yesterday that it made a "terrible" mistake in approving a recent newspaper advertisement that equated a proposed Arizona zoning ordinance with Nazi book-burning.

The full-page advertisement included a 1933 photo of people throwing books on a pyre at Berlin's Opernplatz. It was run as part of a campaign against a Flagstaff ballot proposal that would restrict Wal-Mart from expanding a local store to include a grocery.

9 Marines Killed in Latest Iraq Offensive

My, it's been more than two years since the president declared an end to all major fighting and "mission accomplished". But here's this.

Brit Film Says US and UK Exaggerate Terror Threats to Get What They Want

From CNN:

A British documentary arguing U.S. neo-conservatives have exaggerated the terror threat is set to rock the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, the way "Fahrenheit 9/11" stirred emotions here a year ago.

"The Power of Nightmares" re-injected politics into the festival that seemed eager to steer clear of controversy this year after American Michael Moore won top honors in 2004 for his film deriding President George W. Bush's response to terror.

At a screening late on Friday ahead of its gala on Saturday, "The Power of Nightmares" by filmmaker and senior BBC producer Adam Curtis kept an audience of journalists and film buyers glued to their seats and taking notes for a full 2-1/2 hours.

The film, a non-competition entry, argues that the fear of terrorism has come to pervade politics in the United States and Britain even though much of that angst is based on carefully nurtured illusions.

It says Bush and U.S. neo-conservatives, as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are exaggerating the terror threat in a manner similar to the way earlier generations of leaders inflated the danger of communism and the Soviet Union.

And The REAL Reason We Went to Afghanistan

From the Christian Science Monitor:

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Back in the days of the Taliban, Mir Sediq was an engineer for Unocal, working on a pipe dream: bringing natural gas from Turkmenistan down through Afghanistan to Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea.Today, Mr. Sediq is minister for Afghanistan's energy, mining, and industrial sector, and he's confident that the pipeline is coming close to reality.

Driven by a Pakistani economy growing at nearly 7 percent a year and higher energy prices, the pipeline, on paper, is the closest thing to a win-win scenario as one can find in Central Asia. For Pakistan, expected to run out of its own reserves in five years, the pipeline will help sustain growth. For Turkmenistan, it helps to provide a market for its substantial gas reserves. And for Afghanistan, it could mean from $200 million to $350 million per year in transit fees.

Afghanistan in the Wake of Bush Invasion

From the wire:

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN; AND WASHINGTON - The case of an Afghan village police chief, named Inayatullah, is a small example of a much larger problem.

Is Commander Inayatullah a courageous law-and-order crusader responsible for smashing the drug mafia in his hamlet? Or, is he an opium smuggler? Or, as his bosses say, is he both?

It's a question that hangs over more and more public officials here. The post-Taliban boom in opium production means that drug money now permeates every stratum of Afghanistan's society - from the farmers cultivating poppies in the east to those in the highest levels of the central government of Kabul, according to senior Afghan and European officials working here.

Evolution Battles Hits Dover, PA School

From the wire:

On opposite sides of town, two billboards for competing slates of school board candidates illustrate the deep divide here over the teaching of evolution and the origin of life.

One sign shouts, "It's time for a new school board in Dover!" The other describes the seven sitting board members as "the INTELLIGENT choice" — a reference to the board's decision last fall to require the mention of "intelligent design" in class.

In what is believed to be a first in the United States, the school board voted 6-3 in October to require that ninth-grade students be told about intelligent design when they learn about evolution in biology class. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex, it must have been created by some kind of guiding force.

Tuesday's primary election promises to be a battle royal among 18 candidates evenly divided over the intelligent-design mandate in this 3,400-student school system about 20 miles from Harrisburg.

"We would have no interest this year if not for the intelligent-design issue. It is the overriding concern," said school board president Sheila Harkins, who is up for re-election.

The intelligent-policy is being challenged in a federal lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in September. The plaintiffs are eight families who claim that intelligent design is merely biblical creationism disguised in secular language, and has no place in a science classroom.

Schizophrenic Military Policies

What good does the military hope to achieve with its new "15 month" express tour of duty when a court ruled today that the "stop loss" order is perfectly legal as practiced by the military to hold people in WELL PAST the designated end of their tour.

I heard of one case recently where a man who had served either 8 or 12 years already has now been ordered up for what would amount to 37 years of continuous service. I wish I could find the reference. While I doubt the military expressly told him 37 years - and there was some speculation it was a typo or misunderstanding - he was told that was how long they could keep him if they desired.

How does this differ from indentured slavery? No, I'm not joking.

Nor am I joking when I propose that the following people - all of whom supported this bogus war - seem to have PLENTY of time available to serve. Mr. Rumsfeld, please contact the following folks and tell them where to report:

    * Jenna and Barbara Bush (out of school a year, no jobs)
    * Sean Hannity, Shepard Smith, Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson, Fox Snooze
    * Mary Cheney
    * Rush Limbaugh
    * Wolf Blitzer
    * Michael Medved
    * Britney Spears Federline
    * Bruce Willis
    * Bob Dole
    * Newt Gingrich
    * Pat Robertson
    * Jerry Falwell
    * Dr. James Dobson (and his doughy little wife, too)
    * Brent Bozell
    * Geraldo Rivera
    * Joe Scarborough
    * Neal Boortz
Need more names?

Chief Justice Scalia?

The Christian Science Monitor analyzes the possibilities inherent in Antonin Scalia - close, close friend and energy company-funded hunting partner of VP Dick Cheney - assuming the chief justice spot if/when Rehnquist finally calls it quits:

There are also potential strategic considerations. By promoting a chief justice from within the court rather than simply naming a single nominee from outside, the White House would face two confirmation battles, rather than one.

Perhaps Scalia's biggest advantage - and disadvantage - is his extensive public record of nearly two decades of opinions, famous dissents, and law-school speeches. "With Justice Scalia, you know what you are going to get, so there isn't a huge mystery there," says Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at William and Mary School of Law in Williamsburg, Va.

Because he has become such a high-profile target, a Scalia confirmation hearing would quickly transform into a national debate over the role of judges in interpreting the Constitution.

"The nomination of Scalia would ignite a firestorm of debate in this country," says Nan Aron, executive director of Alliance for Justice, a group opposing many Bush judicial nominees. "His views on originalism, abortion, school prayer, and federalism are way out of the mainstream."

Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, which supports Bush's judicial nominees, holds a different view. "The Scalia hearing - should it come - would be an excellent opportunity to put on display the nature of his philosophy, which when explained openly and clearly, we think is convincing," he says. "Sixty percent to 70 percent of the country will be listening and nodding in agreement."

Such agreement could render some Senate Democrats politically vulnerable on election day, Mr. Rushton says.

Others say it will be Republican senators and the White House who will be backpedaling if Americans come to understand the potential impact of Scalia's approach to constitutional law.

"I don't think originalism [as applied by Scalia] is ever going to be consistently applied by the Supreme Court because it is so extreme and leads to such unacceptable results," says Dawn Johnsen, a constitutional law professor at the Indiana University School of Law who headed the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton administration.

Initially, originalism is very appealing because it promises an easy answer to every question, but it is a lie," she says. "It has the affect of freezing constitutional meaning at a time when only white, propertied men were fully protected under the law." Professor Johnsen says the last time the nation engaged in a heated debate over originalism was in the 1980s during the Supreme Court nomination hearing of Robert Bork. The Senate defeated his nomination 58 to 42.

What Frist and the Theocrats Want

Armando at Daily Kos reads it correctly, the way I see it (I especially like the "sock puppet" comparison to Frist:

What is the work that James Dobson sock puppet Senator Frist will do for the extremists in control of the Republican Party? Very simple - they want extremist judges AND Supreme Court Justices who will:

(1) Overturn Roe v. Wade, destroying a women's right to choose. To be followed by a federal law banning all abortions.

(2) Eviscerate the separation of church and state. To be followed by continued attacks on science and the imposition of the teaching of one belief system in the classroom. Creationism as science.

(3) Strip existing legal protections of the environment through judicially activist interpretations of federal law.

(4) Eliminate workers and union rights.

(5) Weaken civil rights protections through outlandish and unfounded readings of the Constitution and federal civil rights laws. End affirmative action, shred employment discrimination laws. Legalize discrimination against gays.

May I Request

OK, I've got a very strange request which goes completely against my grain to ask but... hopefully, it will become apparent why I make this request.

I've put a bid in, of sorts, to help with someone else's blog as an editor. For this, I need letters of recommendation. While I've got tons of professional recommendations in a number of realms as a Web community analyst and manager as well as a writer/editor, it seems appropriate that I ask those who visit this blog how they might characterize the content here (if not always the spelling and missed closing parentheses late at night) and my presentation.

I promise not to hold it against you if you're honest and if you choose not to participate. And yes, good or bad, I'll include these in the summary I prepare.

Thank you in advance.

Is There Anyone Both More Annoying and Less Relevant to Anything...

than Quentin Tarentino?

If so, name them.

CNN Poll on Base Closures

For hours now, the numbers are running like this:

    What do you think is the key factor in deciding which military bases will be earmarked for closure?

    Politics 58%
    Cost 30%
    Security 12%
Koolaid consumption down this week?


Base Closure Announcement Tied to Getting Moderate GOP Support to Defeat the Filibuster?

Stranger at Blah3 connects the dots, and makes a rather compelling argument that, perhaps, Bush timed the announcement of base closures - affecting Northeast states more than anywhere else in the country where most of the moderate GOP Capitol Hill members are based - so that he could twist arms to get the moderates to vote (against the majority of their citizens) to end the filibuster.

The Smoking Gun Web Site


Read it in all its infamy.

Did You Happen to Catch?

The reporters assigned to the Bush/White House beat have had a bit of edge in their voices.

Oh, no, these great paragons of journalistic virtue aren't upset that the president lied about Iraq, once again engaged in stealing an election last November, or is trying to kill what few programs manage to exist for non-wealthy Americans.

No, the press is mad because it's clear the DC fear thing was a stunt the other day. The president wasn't informed of the incident until it was over. Why? Because they already knew it wasn't a big deal by the time they sent Cheney out to his favorite bunker, the First Lady and Ex-Lady (Bush and Reagan) to a different bunker, and sent people running through the streets around Pennsylvania Avenue. Scott McClennan basically admitted to the same when he answered questions about why the president was clueless for so long about the event.

Oh, trust me, don't expect the press to stay mad long. They live the lollipops and nicknames Mr. Bush hands out too much to get on Karl Rove's bad (wait.. they're all bad).. badder side.

Half of Americans Polled "Don't Trust" the President on Social Security Issue

The Carpetbagger Report tonight cited an interesting Harris interactive poll that not only shows what we've seen, widespread concern about the future of Social Security as Mr. Bush tries to change it, but also reports that 49% of Americans actively distrust his motivations in the reform, believing his efforts are directed as dismantling, rather than "fixing" the program.

So Little Discussion of the Smoking Gun

Smoking guns must not have quite the same grab as mushroom clouds, because in light of the "breaking news" of something many of us knew, that Bush and Blair cooked the Iraq war out of whole cloth just to get it going, it's been mentioned at best parenthetically by the mainstream media this week. So many times this week, I either heard it specifically avoided or mentioned, as I said, parenthetically, as if Americans all knew about it so the media didn't need to tell them about it again.

This seems amazingly strange. Stranger still when the press acts like it's no biggie.

You know, the same media who spent 8-10 hours a day bombarding us with Clinton, Lewinsky, and cigar minutae. But a faked war doesn't need discussion.

The Impending Retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor

That first Monday in October 1980 when Ms. O'Connor was about to put on the robe of a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice for the first time - and the first time a woman had worn it at all - was a day I actually remember.

I was concerned that Ms. O'Connor might be as partisan as some of the men who had come before her (later, I was less worried about the second woman, Bader Ginsburg). As I've mentioned, I've always felt a strange associate with the court simply because one of my ancestors presided, as Chief Justice, over the Court and was part of the first presidential impeachment (Johnson, not Lyndon). While I don't always pay great attention to the Supremes, I do often find myself reading the opinions they tender and looking back at how certain issues have come before the court again and again, while the court's response to these issues have often changed.

But O'Connor, whose politics certainly differ from mine, has often been one of the most thoughtful and overall careful of the current crop of justices. Scalia, Thomas, and Rehnquist seem never able to separate their politics from their vote, but occasionally O'Connor and Kennedy can. You can't always depend on O'Connor for consistency.

Yet, overall, O'Connor has served this court and this country well. I've heard it said that she wants the Chief Justice spot and would stay if she could have it. But Bush has let it be known that the job is his to give, and he'd rather see Scalia or Thomas there. Both were unfortunate choices for the Supreme Court anyway, and both would be worse Chief Justices than Rehnquist. If Bush were smart, he would reconsider but he's not and he won't. O'Connor wasn't partisan enough for him, and not loyal enough to his cause. The same people who would like to see O'Connor punished into retirement are the same people still mad that Bill Clinton won in '92 keeping Ken Starr (the $40-80 million dollars to investigate a blowjob "special persecutor") could sit on the bench. Starr should have recused himself from the start, but he was not good enough to do so.

Ideally, of course, loyalty and party should not matter on the Supreme Court. But this group has been far more partisan than most. Thomas, for example, represents blacks no more than Scalia represents most Catholics or O'Connor or Ginsburg represent most women. Kennedy and O'Connor, like a couple of the Dem appointments, have taken their vows and responsibilities on the court far more seriously while Rehnquist, Thomas, and Scalia sit on the court to feather their own nests and sit in judgment over the rest of the land.

I mention this because the New York PooPost - via gossip meanie Cindy Adams - reports that O'Connor is on the eve of her retirement. It's been widely rumored she would leave if she could not be appointed as Chief and it's now clear that the word has gone down that Bush will appoint Scalia or Thomas (some say Thomas is ahead - much to Scalia's dismay - because Bush likes the idea of pointing to his own "wonderfulness" in naming a black to the post). Sadly, Thomas is no Thurgood Marshall.

"Coffee and Cigarettes"

No, that's NOT what I'm having now, although a fresh cup of Colombian Supreme (the coffee, not the expensive pharmaceutical) is perking away out in the kitchen.

The Sundance Channel is playing this indy film tonight and it appears to be worth the time. Some interesting characters and performances.

So Much for Wishful Thinking

Even knowing better than to do so, I found myself engaged in some wishful thinking that somehow, Friday the 13th would be magical. Oh no, not in the "just won 500 gazillion in the lottery" sense, but that somehow, something really askew would turn around.

Alas, though, Friday the 13th was just a day. A day, however, in which I broke a dozen eggs (by accident) all over the carpeted part of the kitchen, screwed up a phone call, ran late on a chapter, twisted my ankle hiking, managed to get three different results balancing my checkbook, and got really steamed reading about the "nuclear option" and the base closings and hearing about the silliness in DC on Wednesday. In other words, it was just another day.

But hey.. there was no Rapture either. There's one good thing. ::smirk::

Anyone else have any Fri.13 stories to share before it becomes Saturday the 14th?

Blog Banning

Schools (it's unclear whether it's a statewide initiative or not) in Iowa are considering doing what a Rutland, VT school has done: ban blogs from viewing on school computers.

Oh, there are excuses, including that blogs are not always used for the best possible purposes. Blogger/Blogspot, for example, has come under particular fire because there are a number that use the service simply to set up Spam blogs and then push their stuff out to others. There has to be a better way to cope with this other than banning all blogs, or banning all blogs by a particular host. After all, I'm sure at least someone in recorded history has gone to a museum, looked at a nude statue or painting, and masturbated to it (hopefully at home later on). Does this mean you have to ban all nude statues or paintings?

I'm actually a lot more concerned that schools may be using excuses such as this when what they really want to ban is the content: dissident voices, deeper explanations of the sound bytes of network news, people who don't always appreciation Wally Mart, and so on.

No, I would not particularly recommend my blog as good material for school children. I'm not writing for a PG audience. But there are far more blogs than mine, and far more things discussed than politics, current events, and the media (the ostensible focus of this one). In fact, lots of blogs out there are as mindless and mouth-breathing as anything you'd find on TV.

But beyond mine or theirs, some of the blogs I visit offer excellent information on topics from depression and various health issues to art/books/movies to knitting, photography, cooking, and so much more. Many blogs encourage interaction (good) and critical thinking (very good). Those are not unuseful tools for today's kids unless, of course, you're trying to raise sheep for the corporate farm or just-follow-orders soldiers for fictitious wars.

My Answer: No!

Someone who prefers to go nameless sent e-mail today asking if I thought it was purely coincidence that the one part of the country that went against Bush in a big way last November also happens to be the part of the country that is losing the most bases.

No. The Northeast has been punished in many ways, and this is just another example. Texas, Maryland, and a few other states actually INCREASE bases/base positions even though Texas loses one base (yet it's one of the largest states with many bases). Saxby Chambliss - a true bit of stagnant pond scum - was crowing at how well Georgia did in it (not that Saxby has ever gotten too close to anything dirty like a base - and he debased a true military hero, Max Cleland, to get his spot.

Keith Olbermann just showed a map of base closures against the red/blue maps from November. Almost identical.

But one note that seemed silly to me: NBC and several networks showed the mayor of Portsmouth Maine who said this shipyard worker came into her office with his (pregnant?) wife and his SIX kids and asked what she planned to do about it. What job did you ever get to keep because you pleaded that one? Few of us lose jobs unscathed. I've only been let go once in my life, but it was very sad. Crying about it did no good. Perhaps some of us could take up a collection for this worker, however, for contraception. Most today would not feel able to afford a family of so many children. And I have little doubt this man voted for Mr. Bush. You get what you vote for, and this administration - with so many cronies left over from Reagan/Bush I - has closed bases before, again, largely on political boundaries.

Look at the closure list again and you'll also see that reservist/Guard training posts are WAY down in this new plan.

I suspect Rummy and Company will be pushing military privatization (aka, hiring mercenaries) soon enough.

Half-Digested Posts

Since Blogger keeps going down today for "scheduled maintenance" (interestingly, I have never seen this "scheduled"), usually only announced as you try to post a message, I'm not sure how much I'll get up here today. It's already eaten three and I've yet to have the "recover post" feature work. Even more interesting, they disable support for the "recover post" feature whenever they're having problems which is, one might think, when you'd need to do post recovery.

But, as Karlo points out, it's free. Oh wait, now there's new foolishness. I have to verify each post. Are the Bushies helping Google out in Blogger Admin these days? ::shudder::

Lies, Confusion, and Then More Lies

When I first posted the note from over at Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo (TPM) about the rather ridiculous, nearly hysterical outburst by rabid rightie talk show host, Michael Medved, some of you might have said, “Yeah? So what? Where’s the novelty in a right-wing radio host getting it wrong and calling someone a liar?”

True enough, this isn’t new. But here’s why it’s becoming clearer and clear, at least to me, why this situation does matter.

The situation with Medved, as you may recall, had to do with a guest who said that Bush and others in Congress were pushing a plan to privatize Social Security accounts. Medved went ballistic, saying that was NOT true. Then he challenged the guest to name at least ONE person who had ever said, “let’s privatize” so the guest named Chris Cholola, who started talking about privatization back in 2000, long before Bush grabbed the third rail and declared it his own. Medved, ever more hysterical, began to insist that this JUST WASN’T TRUE and called the guest a liar, saying he had made up the name Chocola (aka The Count, but yes, a real House Reprehensible). To learn more, read TPM here, Media Matters here, and Rock the Vote there.

Sure enough, the Bushies keep changing the terminology of their gutting of Social Security. One week it’s “private accounts”, another it’s “privatization”, the next it’s “ownership accounts”. Strangely, however, each time they coin a new phrase, they pretend that the other phrases THEY used never existed and accuse the press and others of lying about them to make them sound bad. This has happened time and time again for the last few months.

But the only lies being told here are that

a) SS is in some big new crisis (it’s not)

b) SS is in need of reform (instead, it needs an order of protection (aka restraining order) to keep the GOP and Bushies from looting its trust fund as they’ve done)

c) FDR and the Social Security founders did not anticipate a time when people would live so long (wrong again – go back and look and you’ll see how very close the original SS formula comes to today’s life expectancy)

d) Bush is trying to “help SS” when all he wants is to kill it and the rest of the New Deal

e) That everyone but the Bushies are lying even when people are merely using the Bushies’ own terms that keep changing

The Bushies depend on the confusion to fool people into believing there is a crisis and Bush’s plan “fixes” the crisis. Like I’ve said before, you can call the shade of lipstick on a pig anything you like, but it’s still porcine cosmetic application.

So we – all of us – need to challenge these assertions, especially with the Koolaid Quotient like Medved get hysterical when confronted with their own lies.

These Base Closings

This isn't the first time there have been wide-scale base closings. While the right loves to look to Bill Clinton and say, "This man destroyed all those bases", they always fail to note that Clinton closed those bases that Dick Cheney under Bush I and Reagan targeted for closure.

So guess who's to blame this time, as well?

Now, I'm not just offering a blanket condemnation of base closures. There are circumstances under which certain bases should be closed. Nor do I think you can just keep a base open simply "because the local economy will die". The latter has happened before and amounts to another form of welfare (which the Reps hate when it's applied to starving children but love-love-loves when it comes to corporations and their pals in the military industrial complex).

My bigger concern is:
1) whether these bases are the right ones to close
2) what happens to these bases then?

Military bases, according to the feds, account for some of the worst "toxic waste" sites in the country. We've got a slew of closed bases that have not been cleaned up since the last round of closures (and before).

If the military - run by the feds - contaminate the land all around those bases, the local economy should not be forced to pay for their cleanup. It's as simple as that.


Border (In)security

From CNN:

FBI agents posing as cocaine traffickers in Arizona caught 16 current and former U.S. soldiers and law enforcement personnel who took about $220,000 in bribes to help move the drugs through checkpoints, Justice Department officials said Thursday.

Those charged include a former Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector, a former Army sergeant, a former federal prison guard, current and former members of the Arizona Army National Guard and the state corrections department, and a Nogales police officer, officials said.

"Many individuals charged were sworn personnel having the task of protecting society and securing America's borders. The importance of these tasks cannot be overstated and we cannot tolerate, nor can the American people afford, this type of corruption," FBI agent Jana D. Monroe, who directs the bureau's operations in Arizona, said during a news conference in Tucson.

Pryor Goes Forward for Full Senate Vote

From CNN:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10 to 8 Thursday to send the nomination of former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, Jr. to the Senate floor.

The vote adds Pryor's name to the list of four other judicial nominations passed out of the committee -- all on the same party-line vote -- and brings the Senate ever closer to a showdown over the Democrats' use of filibusters to block President Bush's nominations.

Several Republican senators -- including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist -- have at the least intimated that Democrats are applying a "religious" test to the president's nominees, rejecting them for their personal views.

Sorry to hear this; Pryor stinks. At least four of the previously rejected Bush candidates reek they're so rotten.

But there's more. Bush already pushed Pryor in during a recess appointment that is normally considered too heavy-handed to do.

Another issue - a large one - is that the GOP's new favored whine is "you're against people of faith", like the comment here about using religion as a litmus test. But the GOP does the same. They're constantly pointing at Dems and saying "Godless heathen" (also a litmus test). And then, of course, the great, pious, moralizing sleazebags go home and bang their girlfriend - or with some of these GOP - much younger boyfriend - before heading back to the spouse.

I can't wait until we hear what a good Christian Newt is. Like the time he served one wife with divorce papers just as she was coming out of surgery having her breast removed. Since then, he had that affair with an intern (that didn't get NEARLY as much play in the so-called liberal media as when Clinton did it), and divorced at least one additional wife. Yes, he and Rudy have said, "I do" more often than most of those Godless heathen Dems.

Ike Was Prophetic

And no, I'm not talking about the warning about the evils of the military industrial complex, although that was sage as well.

No, I'm referring to this quote David Sirota dug up:

    "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
    - President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54
Notably, an article in the WSJ today cites some concern (delight?) that Rick "Man on Dog sex" Santorum (GOP, Putz, Senate) may be a casualty of Mr. Bush's Social Security "reform". Really, it couldn't happen to a bigger creep.


Friday the 13th is tomorrow. TGI13!

The Elder Bushes "New" Son

You know, this new "buddy-buddy" thing between George the Elder and Bill Clinton is creeping me out more than thinking what the Passover seder dinner must be like around the Lucianne-Jonah Goldberg home.

The only part of it that gives me any solace is that it must bother Dubya far, far more. And, of course, many of his "disciples".

All of them must have choked on their Cuban cigars and joints when they heard Babs call Bill "son".

Bolton ::cough:: Lets His Mustache Down

"At Plato's Retreat, my penis was THIS big!"

Some Feel Yesterday's DC Air Stunt Yesterday Was Staged

Funny, I heard this for the first time standing in line at the village store, someone insisting the whole teeny aircraft stunt yesterday was staged. Since then, I've seen or read it several times, some - like this comment over at MyDD - nothing that both pilots are Reps and Bush supporters. Not all the folks saying this are Dem conspiracy theorists either. Saw it on a couple of hardly-centrist and definitely not left blogs (mainly in comments), including the creeper freeper contingent.

To me, it just looked like dipshits - you know, the people who would vote for Bush twice.

Now, it's not that you can put anything past the Bushies - they'll fake anything and hang their noses head regardless of how much they themselves reek. But yesterday just looked damned stupid from both the air and the ground. The hysteria was way off the scale for the circumstances (that little plane weighed about a third of an average sized car, for heaven's sake).
If someone staged it, they ought to be ashamed, if not on a moral level, then on an execution basis.

Funny thing is, I've been in NY and DC since the attacks, and even when the city ISN'T in high orange alert status, Washington always acts like an 98-year-old virgin spinster who's just seen her first penis (and it was both very large and hairy). NY underwent a FAR worse attack and they keep on keeping on; DC however is just pathetic. Or maybe they realize they're a target because they do such nasty stuff there.

My Nigerian-born American History professor in college liked to say, "Guilty minds fear accusation." Appropriate for DC.

Were the Feds Closed Today?

It's a rare day I don't have metro-DC crawling all over the blog.

More Vermont Listings Up

Way down there at the right under all the other stuff.

Yeah, I know.

The Fall of PBS

Democracy Now devoted much of its show today to the efforts by the Bushies to nullify PBS and destroy its underpinnings. Recent studies show that Americans, by and large, are quite pleased with PBS' regular programming, seeing it neither as "too liberal" nor "too pro corporate', despite how many ads now appear at the beginning of shows like Lehrer's News Hour.

But Bush pushed in a new head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting whose first act was to push out Moyers and programming like Moyers' excellent "Now" in favor of dribble (and yes, I mean dribble, as in drool) like Tavis Smiley and FTucker Carlson which offer very little. There was also that silliness about banning a cartoon bunny show because - heaven forbid - they showed a family with two moms.

The new CPB head wants ads - lots of ads - and more "mainstream" (read: Tavis and FTucker) shows that put corporations in a more positive light. God forbid we have one venue where WalMart can't run ads telling us how wonderful it is.

GOP Senator Voinovich: Bolton "Poster Child" of Bad UN Choice

From CNN:

"It is my opinion that John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be," Voinovich said.

The former Ohio governor appeared to suggest that Bolton's nomination would not be approved by the full Senate membership, and said he would encourage other senators not to approve it. Republicans have a 55-45 majority in the chamber.

"I have every faith in my colleagues," Voinovich said. "No one's really excited about him going to the United Nations."

Bush Nominees: Downright Scary on So Many Different Levels

(And speaking of sodomy, related to the last post ::cough::)

The guest crew at Atrios points us to this fairly disturbing story that becomes even more bewildering when you realize what post Dr. Hager is up for. Story from The Nation (and emphasis mine, but try to stay through the whole thing):

Late last October Dr. W. David Hager, a prominent obstetrician-gynecologist and Bush Administration appointee to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), took to the pulpit as the featured speaker at a morning service. He stood in the campus chapel at Asbury College, a small evangelical Christian school nestled among picturesque horse farms in the small town of Wilmore in Kentucky's bluegrass region. Hager is an Asburian nabob; his elderly father is a past president of the college, and Hager himself currently sits on his alma mater's board of trustees. Even the school's administrative building, Hager Hall, bears the family name.

That day, a mostly friendly audience of 1,500 students and faculty packed into the seats in front of him. With the autumn sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows, Hager opened his Bible to the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel and looked out into the audience. "I want to share with you some information about how...God has called me to stand in the gap," he declared. "Not only for others, but regarding ethical and moral issues in our country."

For Hager, those moral and ethical issues all appear to revolve around sex: In both his medical practice and his advisory role at the FDA, his ardent evangelical piety anchors his staunch opposition to emergency contraception, abortion and premarital sex. Through his six books--which include such titles as Stress and the Woman's Body and As Jesus Cared for Women, self-help tomes that interweave syrupy Christian spirituality with paternalistic advice on women's health and relationships--he has established himself as a leading conservative Christian voice on women's health and sexuality.

And because of his warm relationship with the Bush Administration, Hager has had the opportunity to see his ideas influence federal policy. In December 2003 the FDA advisory committee of which he is a member was asked to consider whether emergency contraception, known as Plan B, should be made available over the counter. Over Hager's dissent, the committee voted overwhelmingly to approve the change. But the FDA rejected its recommendation, a highly unusual and controversial decision in which Hager, The Nation has learned, played a key role. Hager's reappointment to the committee, which does not require Congressional approval, is expected this June, but Bush's nomination of Dr. Lester Crawford as FDA director has been bogged down in controversy over the issue of emergency contraception. Crawford was acting director throughout the Plan B debacle, and Senate Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray, are holding up his nomination until the agency revisits its decision about going over the counter with the pill.

When Hager's nomination to the FDA was announced in the fall of 2002, his conservative Christian beliefs drew sharp criticism from Democrats and prochoice groups. David Limbaugh, the lesser light in the Limbaugh family and author of Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging Political War Against Christianity, said the left had subjected Hager to an "anti-Christian litmus test." Hager's valor in the face of this "religious profiling" earned him the praise and lasting support of evangelical Christians, including such luminaries as Charles Colson, Dr. James Dobson and Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham.

Back at Asbury, Hager cast himself as a victim of religious persecution in his sermon. "You see...there is a war going on in this country," he said gravely. "And I'm not speaking about the war in Iraq. It's a war being waged against Christians, particularly evangelical Christians. It wasn't my scientific record that came under scrutiny [at the FDA]. It was my faith.... By making myself available, God has used me to stand in the breach.... Just as he has used me, he can use you."

Up on the dais, several men seated behind Hager nodded solemnly in agreement. But out in the audience, Linda Carruth Davis--co-author with Hager of Stress and the Woman's Body, and, more saliently, his former wife of thirty-two years--was enraged. "It was the most disgusting thing I've ever heard," she recalled months later, through clenched teeth.

According to Davis, Hager's public moralizing on sexual matters clashed with his deplorable treatment of her during their marriage. Davis alleges that between 1995 and their divorce in 2002, Hager repeatedly sodomized her without her consent. Several sources on and off the record confirmed that she had told them it was the sexual and emotional abuse within their marriage that eventually forced her out. "I probably wouldn't have objected so much, or felt it was so abusive if he had just wanted normal [vaginal] sex all the time," she explained to me. "But it was the painful, invasive, totally nonconsensual nature of the [anal] sex that was so horrible."

So God used him to rape his wife anally on a regular basis while she was unconscious from bouts of narcolepsy?

So I guess I must not be a good Christian because I've never raped anyone, anally or otherwise. Nor would I deem to feel I have the right to tell others how to live, or tell a woman, who owns a uterus, what to do with it as Dr. Hager does.

I am frankly mortified and speechless. The people who hold themselves up as the great moral scions like John "Plato's Retreat" Bolton and Dr. (God uses me as his vessel) Hager do these really egregious, hurtful things and yet, again and again, we're supposed to treat them as some anointed beings.

Asian House?

Or uh... um...

Posted by Xavier at Pibbshow.

...from the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil. Courtesy MSNBC's Clicked column today, which pointed me to BoingBoing.

Fish for Dinner?

bushfish.jpgNotice that God comes in much smaller print, beneath Bush?

Klein: Hillary Would be a Disastrous Choice for 2008

I agree, as I've stated (not because she's a polarizing figure for the extreme right, because she's not a uniting figure for anyone left of Arnold Schwarzenegger):

I also think that a Clinton presidential candidacy in 2008 would be a disaster on many levels.

It would doubtless be a circus, a revisitation of the carnival ugliness that infested public life in the 1990s. Already there are blogs, websites and fund-raising campaigns dedicated to denigrating her. According to the New York Observer last week, these sites aren't getting much traffic—yet. But they will. I remember several conversations with Senator Clinton after her health-care plan was killed 10 years ago, and she was clearly pained—nonplussed by the quality of anger, the sheer hatred, directed against her. That experience would be a walk in the park compared to the vitriol if she ran for President. And while I'd love to see someone confront, and defeat, the free-range haters on the right, the last thing we need is a campaign that would polarize the nation even more. Indeed, we could use the exact opposite—a candidate who would inspire America's centrist majority to rise up against the extreme special interests in both parties.

Polio's Back and On the March Around the World

Time has the story here.

Polio represents a grave human health crisis. But if it hits the U.S. while Bush is in office, his idea of proaction will be to request that the "faith-based" charities pray. And no, that is not hyperbole.

As a few might recall from the likes of FDR, polio really doesn't care about your income level or education level, nor is it susceptible to pray. So Bush and Company will be vaccinated, so will the likes of Kenny Lay and whoever heads Halliburton in name while Cheney's destroying the country. But you, dear reader... oh my.

Michael Medved Meltdown (Not That the Temp Has to Be Too High For That)

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Privatization Bamboozle Michael Medved Meltdown.

And the reality is even weirder than that convoluted phrase. See this post for the details.

The Count even gets dragged into the action.

(ed.note: Believe me, you won't want to miss this one.)

Vote on Bolton for U.N. Expected Today

The Times offers this background article while Babbling (David) Brooks says "the tide has turned on him" and that Bolton's position has gotten nothing but stronger under scrutiny.

Which certainly does not describe what happens when you scrutinize David's columns.

OK, yes, I expect Bolton to be confirmed. But not because he's a good choice; instead, because he's an extremely poor candidate, which is what Bush and Cheney want at the U.N.

GOP Blocked Attempts to Make Companies More Responsible in Bankruptcy; the Result was United Airlines' Pension Default

I am raging mad about this. Posted by Ezra Klein:

John Cole's got more on United's liquidation of its pensions. The story, amazingly, gets worse. While the Bankruptcy Bill was steamrolling through Congress, Dick Durbin offered an amendment that would've "protect[ed] employees and retirees from the common corporate practice of discharging liability for retirement plans, retained earnings and matching funds when businesses file Chapter 11." This is really, if you think about it, quite amazing. The Bankruptcy Bill made it harder for individuals to declare and survive bankruptcy. Durbin offered an amendment that would've forced corporations, when they were declaring bankruptcy, to fulfill their stated financial obligations to their employees. These financial obligations are retirement plans, matching funds, and so forth. They are, in other words, the exact same long-term assets that are supposed to keep hard-working Americans out of bankruptcy court!

If you want to know who our government is working for, you need look no further than this. Republicans rammed through a bill that made declaring bankruptcy harder on individuals while rejecting amendments that would've helped ensure Americans employed by struggling firms don't lose their financial base and thus have to declare bankruptcy. So the bill made it harder for individuals to declare bankruptcy, but easier for corporations to drive them to that point. Brilliant.

Now the FDA Paid Journalists, Too?

Joe in DC posting at AmericaBlog brings us this:

USA Today has another story about the Bush Administration's foibles today. Add the Department of Agriculture to the list of Bush agencies which paid for good press. When the government does that, it's called propaganda. These people are shameless and apparently there are no repercussions:

A third federal agency has admitted it paid a journalist to write favorable stories about its work. Documents released by the Agriculture Department show it paid a freelance writer $9,375 in 2003 to "research and write articles for hunting and fishing magazines describing the benefits of NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) programs."

Three articles by the writer, Dave Smith, appeared late last year in two magazines aimed at hunting and fishing enthusiasts: Outdoor Oklahoma, published by that state's Department of Wildlife Conservation, and Washington-Oregon Game & Fish, published by Primedia.


2008 Prez Contest Looks to Be One Hell of a Loser

Seriously, stop to consider the candidates we've heard about just so far:

Condi Rice - only Condi, the president's favorite black woman after Aunt Jemima, would consider a record of never-ending failure as a qualification for president; the only interesting part of this will be when Lucianne Goldberg and the Freepers start showing their overt racism and Bush actually comes out to tell us Condi isn't gay but she sure is merry.

Newt Gingrich - clearly the result of what happens when a brother and sister already missing some chromosomes AND suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome have unprotected sex; the best thing that can be said of Newt is that he's not quite the same right-wing extremist as some of them but is that any endorsement to run the free world?

Hilary Clinton - someday, someone is going to out Hilary for what she is; no, not gay, a just-to-the-right of centrist Republican (pro death penalty, willing to let women's rights die for the sake of her political career, feels entitled). Do not confuse her with Bill. She is NOT Bill. She is NOT presidential material. But she probably IS the GOP's favored Dem choice which gives us all the more reason not to let her get close.

John Kerry - not content to lose just once... Do not let this man anywhere near an election ever again.

Bill Frist - I've seen fleas and black flies with more ethics, and movie stars with less ego; he would literally be one of the worst choices possible. Send this brain-challenged doc back to Tennessee.

Jeb Bush - oh yes, the world just needs more Bush. Perhaps his drug addict daughter can get a cushy government job while Jeb races to disconnect the life supports of the poor and blacks so he can keep special cases alive for 15-30 years after their brains stop registering any electrical activity. His favorite phrase lately is, "What else can I do?" Inspiring choice.

John Edwards - pretty, smart, but not enough.

Joe Lieberman - who can possibly forget Joementum? ::yawn:: If the Democrats have any soul whatsoever, they will laugh publicly if Joe even opens his mouth, and then they should show again and again that video of Bush giving Joe a big fat kiss.

Mitt Romney - this one is such an embarrassment I can't even bring myself to give him a full thought.

John McCain - Bush's American-born bitch (to keep him from being confused with Tony Blair); a man who once occasionally stood for something has now proven he really didn't. Retire, John.

Rudy Giuliani - it will be hard for him to schedule the campaign in between his philandering, divorces, and self-back patting; I think most of America was tired of him even before the Bernie Kerik debacle. Rudy was always schizophrenic but now he's just a whore. Do not let him near the election.

Who am I missing? There are soooo many bad choices.

On a Strange Side Note

Priscilla Presley really has to stop trying to look 18 now that she's 60. The effect on Letterman is outright creepy.

Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Rapture in Life

Cookie Jill at Skippy International brings us this "the end is coming!" update:

if y'all are looking for signs of the rapture...y'all might want to take note.

longtime political foes newt gingrich and hillary rodham clinton joined cheerfully wednesday to promote legislation on health care changes, joking that some might view it as a sign of a soon-to-come doomsday.

the senator joked that their joint effort has raised plenty of eyebrows since they began working together behind closed doors on a panel examining ways to improve military effectiveness. "at our first meeting when we were agreeing so much with each other i think people thought: "the end is near,'" she said. -
i'm thinking.

More Inspiration Not to Eat: Reports that John Bolton is a Devotee of "Kink"

Hmmmm, so much for eating tonight after reading this, from Raw Story:

Corroborated allegations that Mr. Bolton’s first wife, Christina Bolton, was forced to engage in group sex have not been refuted by the State Department despite inquires posed by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt concerning the allegations. Mr. Flynt has obtained information from numerous sources that Mr. Bolton participated in paid visits to Plato’s Retreat, the popular swingers club that operated in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“The first Mrs. Bolton’s conduct raises the presumption that she fled out of fear for her safety or, at a minimum, it demonstrates that Mr. Bolton’s established inability to communicate or work respectfully with others extended to his intimate family relations,” said Mr. Flynt. “The court records alone provide sufficient basis for further investigation of nominee Bolton by the Senate.” These court records are enclosed here as an attachment. Mr. Flynt continued, “The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations must be free of any potential source of disrepute or blackmail.”

Mr. Flynt has contacted the State Department asking that they confirm or deny the allegations of Mr. Bolton’s prior conduct concerning his wife and the alleged paid visits to Plato’s Retreat. He has also called upon the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to conduct an inquiry into the very serious evidence concerning his first wife’s fear of him.

When I was still very young, you'd hear this really wild stories about Plato's Retreat, making it sound like a much racier Sodom and Gomorrah.

But several years ago, I happened to meet someone who worked at Plato's before it closed. Her job there was sort of a liaison for "important" people, she said. She claims the place was more reputation and imagination than anything else. Even the amount of drug use there, she said, was highly over-rated. In other words, it was the club scene in NY in the late '70s.

I went with someone to Studio 54 in the late 1970s when I wasn't out of college yet and, since I wasn't terribly interested in cocaine or Quaaludes, the experience was lost on me. The same with Elaine's. See what you miss out on by being straight?

On the Bolton situation, however, I'm much more concerned with more of this stuff that goes against the policy of not having anyone in a sensitive position who is open to blackmail. Bolton has many skeletons even without these reported sexual peccadilloes; he seems vulnerable in a way that would not suit us.

Why Are the Great Voices Quiet on the Call for Military Recruits

I see that Kos and I were having similar thoughts, at least the last few days. This post mirrors some of my own thinking:

Where is Rush Limbaugh's plea to his listeners to enlist? How about Sean Hannity? Bill O'Reilly? Nevermind they passed on serving their nation when they had a chance. Why aren't they using their influence to encourage military service?

How about President Bush? Where is he in this important issue? Joe Lieberman? Bill Frist? Tom DeLay? Sure, they shirked their duty given the chance. But since they're cheering the quagmire in the Gulf, shouldn't they be working balls-out to ensure we have the resources to fight their war?

Cowards, the lot of them. Mouthing "support" for the troops means nothing unless those troops have the manpower and equipment to fight the war effectively.

Yet they do no such thing. Why? It doesn't hurt that the draf-dodging lot of them have no credibility asking others to sacrifice when they themselves couldn't lift a finger in service to their nation when their nation needed them most.
Well, I don't think the issue is the latter part. Yes, DeLay, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Bush, Lieberman, Frist, and company all avoided military service. But since when do they care that they tell others to do something they're unwilling to do themselves?

I have wondered why they're silent on the issue of recruitment. For myself, in their position (God forbid), I could not ask anyone to serve in a war I thought was unjust. Iraq had nothing to do with the security of Mom and Pop America and everything to do with profits for Halliburton, the securement of oil for Bush family friends, and Junior's desire for swagger. Afghanistan just wasn't enough for him. Watch him: he really gets off on the Commander in Chief shit.

I've wondered if their quiet is because:

    * they fear the backlash if/when America wakes up from its 9/11 coma
    * they figure there will always be enough poor lads to go
    * they know that if they fire the draft bullet, they can spin it around to be a good thing
In truth, I don't know if any of those hit the mark. None seem right.

Yet neither does their silence in appealing for recruits.

Tom DeLay's Bake Sale

The General is writing letters again, this one to Mr. Virtues (aka Tom DeLay):

Dear Majority Leader DeLay,

Things haven't been easy for you lately. You're being attacked on every quarter by those who wish to destroy you. These days, it seems that your name cannot be spoken or written without words like "corrupt," "unethical," "vile," or "toad-faced-graft-maggot" being attached to it. I think that I can help you change that. All we need to do is soften your image. I have a plan to do just that.

As you may have heard, an Oklahoma house committee approved a bill, yesterday, to create a specialty license plate to raise money to buy body armor for Oklahomans serving in combat. You could do something similar to help soldiers from the other 49 states.

Don't worry. I'm not requesting any legislation from you. You've already made it clear through your lack of action that you don't think it's proper for the government to provide body armor for the troops. Instead, I think you ought to organize a bake sale.
You know, I don't think I'd enjoy Tom's cupcakes and especially not his nut brownies. But I, of course, defer to the General as he is a great, French-defiling patriot.

The Bush Economy Weight Loss Diet: A Smashing Success

I noted here that recently, I've gone from my usual grazing to eating almost nothing.

Monday night, I finally stumbled onto a scale and realized why all my clothes seem so damned oversized: I'd lost 23 pounds in less than three weeks. Probably a little extreme. Even with trying to staunch the rapid body dump by forcing myself to eat a tiny meal a day, I've taken off another 2-3 since Monday.

While I could joke and say it's from all the Michael Jackson masturbation tales that air on MSNBC around dinner time, the truth is that my success - far better than you'd get on Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, or on any diet I've ever pretended to follow - lies in the Bush Economy.

With companies paying notoriously slow, I find I have a spreadsheet rich with how much money I've earned and a bank account that is far more anemic than my physical self since only 1 1/2 companies have bothered to actually cut those checks in the last three months. So I sit and worry and beg creditors for another week while losing anything approaching an appetite. I have a real aversion to owing people anything, let alone being late in paying. Nor do I take any comfort in knowing how many Americans - and others in the world - are now in a similar position because of Bush's ruinous leadership.

No no. Please do not send cans of soup. There is food in the house. In fact, I made home made vanilla ice cream last night (since I don't eat ice cream, I can easily make it for my family and not worry about temptation) and a quiche tonight that I hear was pure delight.

I just have no desire to eat food. Thankfully, I've still got a "cushion" of weight before I start looking like Calista Flockheart. Until my boobs deflate, I'm OK. But I'll definitely be skeletal before Mr. Bush is through the first 200 days of his second Bamboozlepalooza term.

I don't suppose there's any chance that if I dress youthfully, I could chronicle my weight loss with a Web appeal that says, "Save this starving child - impeach Bush"? Nah, didn't think so.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find something to hold my skirt up since I've run out of notches on my belt.

However, if you're a publisher who wants a REALLY wickedly FUNNY book on how the president can be used as a bang-up weight loss plan, please contact me e-mediately. You could have the finished text in days. But like, plan to pay me upfront since I'm tiring of being the only being to live up to the contracts I sign. And no, you may NOT pay me in United Pension funds or Social Security IOUs. ::cough::

Another Reason to Love Friday the 13th

Well, actually, you may not adore such Fridays, but I do. My luck - which normally runs to the ultra-extreme end of bad - is so terrible that I have this mistaken notion that on a day in which some fools are sure they're about to get clobbered, I'll somehow fare better. Realistically, however, I can't tell you of one damned good thing to happen to be on Friday the 13th.

At least.. until now.

Stranger at Blah3 tells us that this Friday, the life support tube that has been Dennis Miller's career will be pulled.

Hal-le-lu-jah! Blessed be to God. And Dennis, please... let the door hit you a few hundred times on your way out, OK? Break at least two legs and take some wooden nickels while you're at it.

On a side note, the one time I've been riled with Jon Stewart was when he had Dim Dennis on his show a few weeks back and nicely behaved as if Miller were a) funny, b) relevant and c) not a turd floating in a stinky bowl. Perhaps Stewart is just kinder than I am these days.

Ending the Lie of "Liberal Media Bias"

One of my brethren passed along this, which I'm posting in full because I think these studies - put forth by conservative groups - really do put an end to the lie. Oh, we'll still hear the lie spoken (just like Mr. Bush "cares" about Social Security" and that homeland security is there to protect you), but...

Two recent "studies" by the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group, shine a bright light on the questionable techniques and absurd assumptions that guide the MRC's attempts to "prove" its claim that "liberal bias" is rampant in the U.S. news media. Looking through a funhouse mirror that renders everything -- even the facts themselves -- as manifestations of insidious bias, the MRC had no trouble finding what it was looking for.

MRC research director Rich Noyes summarized a May 9 "study," titled " Extreme Conservatives vs. Unlabeled Liberals," as follows:

In the six months since November's elections, network reporters have zeroed in on "conservatives" -- especially "religious conservatives" -- as an energized and unwelcome force in American politics. As TV told it, George W. Bush won re-election because of strong support from "social conservatives" and would pack the courts with "conservative" judges. It was "conservatives" who pushed Terri Schiavo's right-to-life case, and "conservatives" like Tom DeLay and John Bolton were embroiled in controversy.

It's true conservatives have been making a lot of headlines, but even as the networks painted the right side of the spectrum as ideological, and even a tad fanatical, reporters rarely used ideological terms to define liberals. Since Election Day, network reporters branded politicians or groups as "conservative" 395 times, compared to 59 "liberal" labels, a greater than six-to-one disparity.

The basic premise of this "study" -- that if there are more mentions of the word "conservative" than the word "liberal" in a given period, then the news must be "biased" against conservatives -- is so ridiculous that a fourth-grader could pierce its logic.

If precisely the same number of actual conservatives and liberals had been discussed in the news, and conservatives had been identified as such while liberals hadn't, the MRC might have a legitimate gripe (though even this criticism would presume, as the MRC seems to, that "conservative" and "liberal" are inherently derogatory terms). But the real reason there are more mentions of "conservatives" than "liberals" is obvious: there has been more news about conservatives. In the wake of the Republican electoral victories, conservatives both in and out of government are wielding influence and getting more attention. One can't help suspecting that if the results of the MRC's Nexis searches had turned out the opposite of what they did, the MRC would be alleging that the greater repetitions of the word "liberal" showed that conservatives were outnumbered in the media.

Indeed, as Media Matters for America has documented, the news media have granted conservatives more opportunities than liberals to speak in a wide variety of network news forums. On NBC, Meet the Press consistently features imbalanced panels that favor conservatives; interviews on the Today show in April featured three times as many conservatives as liberals; and 19 Chris Matthews Show panels skewed right in 2004, while only 7 skewed left. In the 15 weeks following the 2004 presidential election, the CBS Evening News featured 65 clips of Democratic officials or commentators representing progressive organizations and 83 clips of Republican officials or commentators representing conservative organizations, not including President Bush; and on January 19, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer acknowledged that CBS' Face the Nation hosted more Republican than Democrat guests since the presidential election. Media Matters has noted imbalances in cable news coverage of political events as well, including the 2004 presidential debates and the inauguration.

The MRC highlighted a few examples of imbalanced labeling, presumably those that it considered most egregious, but even these examples show how faulty its logic is. To demonstrate the "imbalanced approach," Noyes wrote: "On the April 26 Today, Katie Couric introduced a debate segment by branding just one side: 'Dee Dee Myers was President Clinton's first White House press secretary, and Tucker Carlson is a conservative commentator and host for MSNBC.' Were we supposed to believe Myers is non-ideological?" Apparently, the MRC believes that by labeling Myers by her affiliation with the Clinton administration, NBC was trying to keep Myers's ideology a secret. Of course, former officials of both Republican and Democratic administrations appear on television all the time, and are nearly always identified with the administration they served in, not as "conservatives" or "liberals."

The MRC was also angry that the lobbying group USA Next was identified as conservative, while the AARP was not identified as liberal. As Media Matters has noted, USA Next is little more than a Republican front group funded by the pharmaceutical industry to attack Democrats and press Republican causes. The AARP, on the other hand, represents tens of millions of seniors on a wide variety of issues, in addition to offering services like health and life insurance. Its CEO worked on President Nixon's re-election campaign, and the organization endorsed the Bush Medicare prescription drug plan; calling the AARP a "liberal" group would hardly be accurate.

If it's not Republican spin, it must be liberal bias

The MRC's April 27 "study" on coverage of the Social Security debate, "Biased Accounts: Networks Guarantee Liberal View of Social Security " -- under the auspices of the MRC's Free Market Project, whose mission is "devoted solely to analyzing and exposing the anti-free enterprise culture of the media" -- shows the same pattern one usually finds in MRC's attempts to document its endless claims of liberal bias. No matter what the facts are, the MRC can design a study with the scales weighted to show "liberal bias":

This study of 125 news stories on Social Security between Nov. 15, 2004, and March 15, 2005, found four out of the five major networks biased toward liberal talking points. CBS and CNN had almost three times as many liberal stories as conservative. Overall, liberal talking points outweighed conservative ones by a margin of 2 to 1. Reporters favored extreme examples that made liberal points, while failing to explain key economic terms and concepts that would inform the debate.

A look at the supporting evidence shows the presumption that drives this "study" is the same that underlies virtually all of the MRC's work: Any news story not dominated by unadulterated Republican spin is, by definition, a case of "liberal bias."

If this is your starting point, it is not hard to find examples that support your pre-determined conclusion. If its "study" of Social Security coverage is any indication, the MRC apparently believes that even any fact that does not coincide with Republican spin constitutes a "liberal talking point" and proof of "bias."

For instance, in the study, MRC coded any mention of the transition costs of President Bush's plan for private investment accounts as a "liberal talking point." The flip side of this contention is that, according to the MRC, when a news organization fails to report Republican spin as fact, it has shown bias. For instance, the report cited the following as an alleged example of bias: "On Feb. 12's 'Evening News,' CBS's Russ Mitchell said, 'Mr. Bush said he's open to any good idea to fix a system he claims is heading for bankruptcy' (emphasis added)." CBS' attribution of the bankruptcy argument as a claim of Bush's and not as simple fact, according to the MRC, shows CBS' bias. Of course, the idea that Social Security will be "bankrupt" is not merely a point of contention, it is highly misleading -- even under the pessimistic projections of the Social Security trustees, the system will not go broke (it will be able to pay, at a minimum, between 70 and 80 percent of promised benefits, even if nothing is done to change it). Anything less than uncritical Republican spin, even when that spin is clearly misleading, constitutes "liberal bias" as far as the MRC is concerned.

The MRC looked for conservative arguments in favor of Social Security privatization, then claimed that the absence of those arguments from news reports constitutes bias. The study quoted conservative activist Stephen Moore, an advocate of privatization, to contend that "personal accounts would reduce the burden on the government and eventually create surpluses rather than more debt. But in unbalanced stories, this point was absent." In fact, even the Bush administration has declined to endorse this claim; the administration has admitted that private accounts will do nothing to address Social Security's long-term solvency. Moore is apparently assuming spectacular future stock market gains to make his prediction. But even if you agree with Moore, his is a highly contested, speculative argument. The MRC's claim that not including it in a news report makes that report "unbalanced" exposes the assumptions that make its "study" so absurd.

The MRC has not posted complete data for the Social Security "study" on its website, so it's impossible to know what criteria the group used to classify statements in news stories it examined to arrive at its conclusions. Nor does it provide a list of guests, sources, institutions, or ideas that were unfairly labeled "conservative," or a similar list of guests, sources, institutions, or ideas that ought to have been labeled "liberal" but were not.

But the absence of data has not prevented conservative media from citing MRC "research" as though it said anything meaningful. Free Market Project chairman Herman Cain summarized the Social Security coverage "study" in a May 10 National Review Online article. And on the "Political Grapevine" segment of the May 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Fox News Washington managing editor Hume reported the "results" of MRC's "study" of the number of times media labeled conservatives versus liberals.

The MRC is certainly free to cry "liberal bias" at every news report it sees. But when it labels something a "study," it is presenting its analysis as more objective, and should thus be held to a higher standard. Using coding rules that people who disagree with the MRC would accept as objective, and publicly releasing the data on which it bases its conclusions, would be two good places to start. But again and again, the MRC comes back to the same point: Any fact, observation, or argument that does not precisely coincide with the Republican viewpoint constitutes "liberal bias."

One Day Break in Military Recruiting

So the military has said it will stand down for one day in trying to recruit young men and women into the endless round of senseless Bush wars.

In truth, though, they might as well hang up the "Gone Fishing Permanently" signs.

No Child Left Behind was used, in part, as a way for recruiters to demand information from schools on which kids they could target.

There are countless stories now of recruiters lying and showing how to get candidates to lie to get these kids signed up.

Even with the economy so bad and college admission way up, kids aren't biting. They know the score. They know these aren't wars for any purpose other than the Bush-Halliburton-oil company profits and driving up fear to derail all other spending into the military industrial complex.

At some point, the Admin will go ahead and push the draft, but they'll make sure that protections are in place so the children of the well-heeled - as the prez did himself in Vietnam - don't have to go or even meet the basic obligations of their alternative service. The draft, while designed to "equalize" the playing field, will still largely target minorities and the poor.

And at some other point, we may need a military for a real concern, and we won't have much of one because we've spent four years now fighting senseless fights only to the benefit of the Bush cronies.


54 killed (so far) in 6 bombs in Iraq today, and four dead in Afghanistan in anti-US protests.

And it's not Thursday yet in either land.

Watch DC Run!

Not getting to sleep until dawn had me awaking this morning to D.C. "running for their lives" because - with CNN's excited hyperbole - a tiny, single engine plane was "threatening America".

As I watched, pretty unconcerned I must add, I kept thinking: these people will have reason to run if America as a whole ever decides to hold them to account for what they've done against the "freedom" and "democracy" and the "dreams of the American people" they so often cite in their lofty speeches. God help them if the day of reckoning comes.

And no, I don't mean because Americans take to pint-size planes and buzz the Capitol dome. I mean because Americans arrive in D.C. en masse and tell them to get the hell out of their buildings and that the police will be there to take these players to jail awaiting prosecution.

Journalist Urges Americans to Search for Truth on Iraq

The folks at Atrios point us to this op/ed piece in the (Louisville) Kentucky Courier-Journal that really is a must-read on Iraq and the U.S. role there and specifically, why newspapers and the media as a whole are giving us little perspective. Nationalistic bullshit just doesn't do anything except allow the Bushies to lie more (and they don't need help finding opportunities to do that).

If you read nothing else today, take the time to read this.

Sanders - National Dem Support but Vermont Dems Say Wait a Sec

The Carpetbagger Report also tells us something of which I don't think I was fully aware: specifically:

A fairly serious “difference of opinion” between national Dems and Vermont Dems has emerged over how best to deal with Bernie Sanders’ Senate campaign. National Dems, anxious to keep Jim Jeffords’ seat in the caucus’ hands, quickly and publicly embraced Sanders, despite the fact that he’s running as an independent. Vermont Dems, however, are emphasizing the fact that Sanders isn’t a Dem, and before the state party backs him, he should at least agree to work with Dems statewide — including support for other Dem candidates. (Vermont has an active “Progressive” party that helps elect Republicans by splitting the left in a Nader-like fashion.) For what it’s worth DNC Chairman Howard Dean isn’t helping his Vermont friends’ position — he keeps endorsing Sanders.
OK, so where's the great Dem rival for Sanders in this?

So far, I haven't always been impressed with the Vermont Dem Party. For example, I've tried to contact them a few times with ideas and gotten no response. But that's just one point.

Vermont's GOP may worry me mightily, but at least they seem to be on the same page with many things, and probably nowhere near as scary as say, the Texas GOP.

Oh, and on a sidenote, The CBR also tells us Bill O'Reilly is hemorrhaging viewers (ha!) and that Rick Santorum, as an incumbent Senate candidate in PA in 2006, is doing pretty poorly in polls. Can't happen to two worse fellows.

Former Homeland Security Chief Admits Bushies Played with the Terror Alert Levels

Even though I knew this was happening, to read this felt like a sucker punch.

From The Carpetbagger Report:

It seems like quite a coincidence. The Bush White House, anxious for a second term and intent on making the election about national security, would intermittently announce new terror-alert warnings to the public, each time leading to a bump in the president’s approval rating. Sure enough, the president won and we haven’t heard another terror-alert warning since. Interesting fluke, right?

And in case we didn’t have enough reason to be cynical, Tom Ridge now insists many of those election-season warnings weren’t necessary.

    The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

    Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or “high” risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.

His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation’s homeland security apparatus.
No shame. No apologies. No stopping the Bushies.

We're just puppets with strings to pull to them.

Documented Shifts in Gulf Stream Pattern

While Mr. Bush and the Flat Earth Contingent ("The Rapture will take us before we have to turn off the ol' AC") tell us science is bad and that global warming is a theory:

One outcome of global warming could be a dramatic cooling of Britain and northern Europe.

Scientists now have evidence that changes are occurring in the Gulf Stream, the warm and powerful ocean current that tempers the western European climate.

Without the influence of the Gulf Stream and its two northern branches, the North Atlantic Drift and the Canary Current, the weather in Britain could be more like that of Siberia, which shares the same latitude.

Cambridge University ocean physics professor Peter Wadhams points to changes in the waters of the Greenland Sea. Historically, large columns of very cold, dense water in the Greenland Sea, known as "chimneys," sink from the surface of the ocean to about 9,000 feet below to the seabed. As that water sinks, it interacts with the warm Gulf Stream current flowing from the south.