6.04.2005

Powerful Words

I was over at TrailingEdge Blog reading Daily Read's powerful material on war rememberances, and happened upon these powerful words on Bush, Impeachment, and how the Media has dumbed us. I've copied some here, but it's very worth your time to go read.

The Downing Street Memo by itself is adequate grounds for Impeachment.It is my fervent belief that George W. Bush has never in his life won a Presidential election (never mind debate). In concert, it is my fervent belief that the election process has become a plaything of the Republican Machine that owns everything having to do with elections and make no bones about it. Many of the Republican Legislators infesting the House and Senate at this moment in time are a direct result of the corrupt voting system and their ability to use it to steal 51% of the vote.

I voted a Republican ticket in 2000 because I was judgmentally injured in the media war I was unaware of at that time. Had it not been for the five knife thrusts into the back of Democracy by members of the Supreme Court, I would undoubtedly have bled to dumb from my media war wounds. As it happened, I found myself glued to the television following the court battle and listening to every word the cable newsmeisters were feeding to their rapidly growing audience. Had I not been so into it, I would have missed discovering for myself that ALL the cable faces are spin doctors…actually, make those bald-faced liars. I watched one of the Democrats make a statement on CSPAN that I thought was well spoken, and when it concluded, I went searching for more news fodder for my dying brain. This brought me to Fox News where I listened to a face give an analysis of the statement I had just witnessed…only he got it wrong…all messed up…completely ass backward from what was actually said. I have since witnessed this spin behavior on all cable news many times.

6.03.2005

Runaway Boob

OK. This is just patently snarky, but did anyone notice that the Runaway Bride - whom we're told was already in hock over a boob job before her quarter of a million dollar wedding she ran out on - has somehow managed to have yet another boob enlargement since her return?

Funny. I can think of several things the Runaway Bride demonstrates she needs - a brain, psychiatric care, a good swift and frequent kick in the ass, taking responsibility, more time for her other crimes so maybe she'd learn a lesson - but bigger boobs wasn't one (er.. two?) of them.

Why Does Tom Friedman Hate People Who Work for a Living?

No, really. Why? The question isn't rhetorical.

Schundler: People Just Love Him

Kos brings us this delightful story.

It seems that the Bret Schundler campaign in Jersey decided they wanted to put up a site showing just how much people get excited over Schundler's leadership and campaign. Except they used pictures from Howard Dean rallies and then edited Dean out and Schundler in.

Morons.

The Federal Election Commission and Blogging

Let me see if I can properly summarize the extreme right's loud position on the topic:

Blogs must be stopped because the little people - including the worst of the worst like non-fundamentalists, people of color, people earning less than $200K a year (who we think are just as bad as people of color), and people who don't worship Reagan's image on an altar in their living room - are able to share their opinions and mobilize like they matter (and they don't).
That about right?

Under Our Watch

So I guess we'll need to toss another $450 billion at the Pentagon to "protect America" from the Pentagon's own actions again?

From Plutonium Page at Daily Kos:

As we all know, by the time the current Iraq war started, there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found. However, the equipment that was used in Iraq's defunct biological and chemical weapons programs remained in storage at various locations around Iraq.
Well, it looks like those sites have been looted. Big surprise:
    U.N. satellite imagery experts have determined that material that could be used to make biological or chemical weapons and banned long-range missiles has been removed from 109 sites in Iraq, U.N. weapons inspectors said in a report obtained Thursday.

    U.N. inspectors have been blocked from returning to Iraq since the U.S.-led war in 2003 so they have been using satellite photos to see what happened to the sites that were subject to U.N. monitoring because their equipment had both civilian and military uses.

    In the report to the U.N. Security Council, acting chief weapons inspector Demetrius Perricos said he's reached no conclusions about who removed the items or where they went. He said it could have been moved elsewhere in Iraq, sold ...
Emphasis mine... and unfucking real.

Lexicon, Indeed

From Xavier at Pibbshow:

Interesting how Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) didn't hesitate to compare Democrats to Hitler on the filibuster issue, yet back in March Santorum criticized Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), who made remarks likening the Republican plan to block filibusters to the Nazi party. Also see how the GOP recently flipped out over Amnesty International's recent report comparing Gitmo to a gulag.

Yes, I do happen to know my history. I realize that millions perished in Stalin's gulags. I also realize that by using a deliberately inflammatory word, Amnesty International is seeking to bring renewed attention to Gitmo.

"The 10 Most Harmful Books"

Right. Books harm. Ideas harm. But innocent little white supremacists who try to kill judges are just misunderstood souls whose lives were ruined by books.

Let me let Karlo take you through this story because it is making me scream just thinking about it.

I suspect, however, that you can guess several of them, including Darwin's two most important books, anthropologist Margaret Mead's "Coming of Age in Samoa" and of course, the Kinsey Report.

Want to hear the top ranking book on my list? The Bible. Because it was written by men with an axe to grind and a hate to express who then passed it off errantly as "God's word". I doubt God had anything more to do with writing the Bible than Jesus sits on Bill Frist's lap during Senate sessions or than Tom DeLay has anything to do with actually feeding underprivileged kids.

If you want to know God, close the Bible and look in your heart and mind: part of His creation far more telling and true than "the good book".

When Good Penguins Go Freeper: The Problem with Recruitment is Parents

From BadTux (OK, who gave him the Koolaid? Was it Karlo, mistaking him for a cat? We all know how Karlo views animal blogging!):

The NERVE of those parents! These activist parents who have no qualms about projecting their own views onto their children should be ASHAMED of themselves. Their unpatriotic notion that parents are responsible for raising their children, not the Department of Defense, is TREASON! I'm just shocked that these parents think they have the right to instill their own values in their children. Why do these parents hate America? It is clear that there is only one thing us good patriotic Americans can do about this situation: Take away the children of those traitor activist parents and have the military raise them!

My IQ was going up again (it got past 85 for a moment there!) so in order to get it back down again I went to see what my fellow Freepers at FreeRepublic.com have to say about this story. Here's some choice quotes:

... these parents are actively interfering with their children's transfer to adulthood.

IMAGINE! The military teaching people how to use weapons! The Humanity!

Liberals think freedom doesn't require the ultimate sacrifice. [ Thus why conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg hasn't signed up, because he obviously believes it does -- as long as it is someone ELSE's sacrifice. -- TAH ]
    Go read the rest and then help convert BadTux back from a Freeper.

    Gay Penguin Pride

    Story - and quite a picture - here.

    And since when did BadTux become a newly-converted Freeper penguin? Do they even allow creatures who are half black become Freepers?

    Amnesty Internation: Right Elsewhere, Wrong Here

    Happened to catch some of Lehrer on (GO)PBS tonight and one part of the discussion fascinated me because it's exactly my reaction.

    One of the Bushie people (I can't call them apologists because the Bushies have a rule: take all credit and refuse to admit they ever did wrong) was on saying all these horrible things about Amnesty International while an AI guy said (quite correctly in my view, and I paraphrase):

    "Funny. Whenever Amnesty International publishes findings that indicate there are serious human rights abuses in Syria, in Cuba, in North Korea, Iran, and China, the Bush Administration points to our organization and says, 'See! No less an august body than Amnesty International agrees these are terrible, terrible people!'

    But when the issue is what human rights abuses the Bush Administration engages in, suddenly, we're pariah, traitors, and 'haters of freedom and goodness and stay-at-home Moms and Snowflake Babies and Apple Pie and McDonald's and cheap toilet paper at Wal-Mart!"
    Exactly. Funny thing is, the Bushies never see any cognitive dissonance. They move in and out of lies like a motorcycle in a 10-mile slowdown and don't even blink.

    And the irony? If irony is the word, that is. That there was absolutely no need for Cheney and Bush and the righties to go on the extreme campaign and attack against Amnesty International except for the little fact that the "gulag" thing is deadly - and that is the word - accurate.

    Never let it be said that the Bushies will ever let a piece of truth get out there.

    Radical Revisionism Passed Off as History

    Just as he promised, Karlo at SwerveLeft presents some intelligent words on the rash.. nah, full-fledged, raging flood of revisionism as experienced this week with the disclosure of Deep Throat's reportedly true identity (yeah, I'm not so into absolutes as I once was). It's a good read (hint, hint: and Karlo keeps his blog cleaner and neater than mine so go read), from which I've excised the last few graphs:

    Some commentary on Fox News has also suggested that Felt is a criminal. I guess the idea is that one should be loyal to the powers-that-be, even when the powerful are gangsters. This idea, incidently, is simply unadorned fascism. And it's the same sort of thinking that formed the basis for monarchies, or for organized criminal operations like the mafia. The fact that conservatives embrace this sort of thinking demonstrates the conservative movement has become morally bankrupt

    .Fortunately, there is at least a little light during these dark times. As Laura says so eloquently on War and Piece, "May these new revelations re-inspire conviction that the forces of political malfeasance, corruption and lying to the public are ultimately vulnerable to the forces of truth -- and the decent people willing to sacrifice something for helping get it out there."

    Ellsberg really bring this point home on Salon, "Felt was one of a dozen people who had access to information that the White House was lying. I'd like each of those people to ask themselves why they weren't Deep Throat, how they justified not sharing that information with the world. We desperately need more Mark Felts right now, and we needed them back in 1964. He played an important part in holding the government accountable, and should receive an honorary Nobel Prize."

    Employment Numbers Bite

    May showed the least number of new jobs added in a long time, well below this administration's "easy to add at least a quarter million jobs" estimates.

    Now, I noticed the media was always very fast to add that unemployment had slipped. However, the drop was minute and we've known for sometime that the Bushies pad these figures (something practiced by many administrations but never with the wild abandon of the Bush II crew) to eliminate anyone who's been on the unemployed list an embarrassing long period of time. Mind you, in the Bush years, many people who are unemployed - perhaps a good percentage of them - aren't counted at all because they are independent contractors, self-employed, etc. folks, including "can't get more than 10 hours at this Wal-Mart and 10 hours across town at Target" types who are deliberately not tracked.

    If these numbers continue, Mr. Bush will be out to discuss another brave, new initiative: only allowing white Christian males to get jobs paying more than minimum wage.

    Don't laugh. I'm serious. Think of how many times you were sure something couldn't be defiled by this crew only to have them exceed all possible worst case scenarios.

    Another Friday Night Admission

    This White House is (in)famous for releasing bad news on Fridays, preferably after 5 PM when they know the nation (not exactly known for its tenacity in political issues) is busy finishing the work week and tearing ass for home.

    Tonight's was Gitmo: yes, apparently our troops and interrogators-for-hire (the latter completely eludes me: out-sourcing essential - at least in theory - national security) DID desecrate the Koran. Yes, maybe one of our officers peed on a detainee.

    Now, when Bush decided he could get mileage for blaming Newsweek's article on the Koran-toilet story, they sure as hell didn't do it Friday after 5. And, of course, Mr. Bush - off on one of his two-three times a month long weekends, the poor overworked dear - wasn't around to say, "Gosh, I guess we were wrong that Newsweek alone makes us hated in Muslim countries!"

    And sure, there are many Americans - and they'd tell you they're fine Christian moralists, too - who love the idea of detainees being tortured and humiliated and their religions book defiled. But very few of these detainees have ever been found to be guilty of anything. We keep them in Gitmo - or Syria or Uzbekistan or Abu Ghraib or any other hellhole of our choosing - for 18 months, two years, four years and feed them food that is against their diet, subject them to hell, ridicule their masculinity, their humanity, their God, deny them any legal representation and then - if those detainees are very, very fortunate, we let 'em go with no more explanation than when they were grabbed. Anytime we wish, we revisit these people and threaten them some more. If we deem necessary, we grab their wives, children and imprison and torture them, too.

    But all of that's fine to our moralist rightwing Christians who would do anything to "protect" the word of God while happy to desecrate anyone else's sacred beliefs. Who whine if their cable TV is out for five minutes but happily accept the idea of detainees being kept under brutal conditions when so few of them are guilty of any charge.

    Read Conyers Letter - Consider Signing it

    Here.

    Loser, Liar

    From The CarpetBagger Report:

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sat down with Rolling Stone for a fairly brief interview, but it generated this gem (via Taegan Goddard):
      RS: You've called Bush a loser.

      Reid: And a liar.

      RS: You apologized for the loser comment.

      Reid: But never for the liar, have I?

    Have I mentioned lately how much I like Harry Reid?
    Agreed, but he never should have apologized for calling Bush a loser.

    Watergate and the Issue of Executive Power

    In some respects, the revelation of "Deep Throat" this week was fortuitous. Sure, the MSM isn't going to discuss this much because they seem fine with having an alpha dog in office, but Watergate was an important turning point for this country.

    In the days of Nixon, there was an incredible amount of executive power that a president could yield. After seeing how Nixon used and abused it (outrageously, but nothing like Bush), steps were taken to reduce the amount of power any one person in government could wield.

    Most of us were fine with that, but one person who has always brewed about this "loss" has been Dick Cheney and men of his ilk. They wanted all the boundless powers not only returned to the White House but far more power packed in.

    How fortunate for them that 9-11 happened, because they were ready with the argument that one man - the president - needed the ability to take action without any oversight. From the Patriot Act to the various antiterrorist measures that again and again aren't being used on a bin Laden or the 911 hijacker types but on regular citizens of this country, we've seen Cheney's vision for unbridled power being amassed in a very few hands come to be.

    If 911 had not happened, I doubt we would be in the mess we are today. It's one of the things that makes it impossible to completely dismiss every conspiracy theory about the attacks due to the incredible failures that occurred on 9-11 and how greatly Cheney and Bush "won" power they would not have had otherwise.

    Indeed, they have taken the reins and run with it. Bush and Cheney feel they have the power to summarily execute the protections and provisions of the New Deal, even when so many have paid greatly into retirement benefits Mr. Bush wants to take away and spend on tax breaks for Ken Lay (and Dick himself), Star Wars (a plan that is just so terribly bad) and "nucular" power.

    If we were smart, we would be telling our elected officials that it is time to take back the powers handed to Bush and Cheney before they can do much more damage. Ah, but our elected officials have become just sheriffs of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney - no longer representing us but the corporations and the billionaires.

    No Surprise on the Watergate Spin

    Josh Marshall, Media Matters, and others are - appropriately - documenting the many ways the devotees of Nixon, including Chuck Colson, G. Gordon Liddy, and others are being invited to appear on numerous programs and berate "Deep Throat" aka W. Mark Felt but without any acknowledgement that these men do not have clean hands. Liddy and Colson, for example, both served prison time for their actions.

    But it's hard for me to work up any surprise there. Revisionism is no longer unusual. For example, we're hearing that Bush was re-elected because of his vision, his desire to make important changes, and this does not relegate him to lame duck status.

    But remember that the big plans for Social Security, et al, were NOT mentioned until after the election. Why should be pretty obvious. Even with cheating voting machines, he would never have gotten the votes needed to stay in had he presented the information on gutting SS, or the base closings largely centered on blue and not-quite-red-enough states, or an Iraq War slated to last now up to his leaving office in 2009.

    Listen, and the anger is getting louder and louder. I've seen some loyal GOP members, who normally won't say a damned thing in opposition, who are saying things like, "his re-election was a terrible mistake" and "if somebody can't change something soon, we'll fall into such a deep pit we won't get out.

    Lots of other bloggers - Corrente and others come to mind - are reporting similar incidents. Likely, you're hearing it, too.

    Apparently Dorothy and Judy Garland Weren't the Only Ones Doing Drugs in Kansas

    A woman named O'Connor is running for the Secretary of State of Kansas.

    Her platform? That women shouldn't vote.

    Well, hopefully, women won't vote for Mrs. O'Connor anyway. ::sigh::mutter::

    Koolaids' Secretest Ingredient?

    RDF at Corrente brings us this (smile):

    From the Department of Disturbing Possibilities:

    Today’s local fishwrapper has an AP (no link, sorry) article that says a Swiss scientist named Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich has discovered a hormone named oxytocin, which, when sprayed on people or ingested, makes them trusting even when they shouldn’t be. Willing to give people money, believe lies, stuff like that. Seems to work 17-45% of the time.

    Perhaps now we know what’s in the Kool-Aid, eh? Could there be an antidote? A hormone that makes people examine facts and evidence?

    Those Swiss—well, at least they gave the world LSD. Maybe they can come up with the antidote, too.

    Whistling

    Downing Street Memo
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    George W Bush
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    Oh, Mr. House of Reps Information Systems Person!

    I notice you've been visiting lately, and I'd hate to have you go away disappointed! The same with the Senate Sergeant at Arms who keeps dropping by my lowly blog.

    So, please, accept these next posted few (dozen) links just from me (and several thousand of my friends and colleagues who believe the time has come for accountability in Washington). None of us are very big on depleted uranium, MoABs, or such, but a little Google blitz among friends is an entirely different matter.

    Impeachable Offenses

    The "I" word is back. In the last week, I've seen it used more often - and not just on so-called lefty sites exclusively - than I have in the 4+ years of Bush II.

    Conyers' petition asking for an accounting into whether there may be impeachable offenses related to the cooking of the Iraq War managed to get nearly 90K signatures in a few days. Originally with a goal of 100,000, he's now decided to go for a quarter million. In fact, he's getting SOOOO much traffic, his servers are being overwhelmed. Now that's a bandwidth issue I like!

    6.02.2005

    Dead-Alive-Dead-Alive-Dea... Oops Wounded... Nope, Dead er... Maybe Not

    I see Stranger at Blah3 is as mystified at the 400 lives and deaths of al Zarqawi as I am:

    This guy has died more times than the Knicks' playoff hopes.
      The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq - died on Friday and his body is in Fallujah's cemetary, an Iraqi Sunni sheikh, Ammar Abdel Rahim Nasir, has told the Saudi on-line newspaper Al-Medina. He claims that gunfights which broke out in Fallujah in the last few days involved militants trying to protect the insurgency leader's tomb from a group of American soldiers patrolling the area.

      During a telephone conversation from the city of Fallujah with the Saudi newspaper, Nasir said al-Zarqawi was taken there after being injured in the city of Ramadi around three weeks ago, and may have been treated by two doctors who had worked with his aides in Baghdad. He said the two doctors had stopped a serious haemorrhage in al-Zarqawi's intestines, but that after his condition worsened last week, the militant died on Friday.
    No exaggeration. I've literally counted 11 reports of Zarqawi's death in a year. He's the new bin Laden - whom we don't mention anymore because darned people noticed we hadn't caught The Tall One yet - and always gets miraculously resurrected when there's something new we want to blame on him.

    Bin Laden was the bogeyman from 2000-2003 when Zarqawi took over. Too bad nothing the president tells us turns out to be accurate because I'd like to believe Zarqawi is the sole perpetrator of everything wrong in Iraq (a single bad guy is easier to get than several hundred or thousands). But ... well, that's open to question.

    More Discrimination, Bushie Style

    John at AmericaBlog points us to a Times piece in which the rules are that "snowflake babies" (unclaimed embryos from in vitro fertilization) must be adopted by white conservative Christians where the mother is, preferably, a "stay at home" mom. Yeesh.

    Only in the Bush years would we see segregation become a national phenomenon again.

    6.01.2005

    Revisionism

    Several times since yesterday's disclosure about W. Mark Felt being Watergate's "Deep Throat", I've heard someone in the media say something along the lines of, "crediting with bringing down the widely popular Richard Nixon."

    Widely popular? Excuse me?

    Short of his appearances on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, usually to say "Sock it to me!", I don't recall Nixon as a widely popular man. My gosh, the man looked so damned uncomfortable in his own skin, let alone in public.

    Granted, I was like 9 when he was first elected, and not all that old when he left office under shame, but I remember Republicans in my town, people who would vote for him, saying things like, "That ass, Nixon." And mind you, back even in the early 70s, you didn't generally hear people speak out about high ranking figures to the degree you do in the last 20.

    But then, hey, they have G. Gordon Liddy - Mr. uber overcompensation (I've got to assume that along with his small stature, his penis is fairly microscopic just based on his personality) - on making him sound like he was a national hero instead of a really creepy spy.

    The Right's Strange Approval of In Vitro Fertilization

    The Carpetbagger Report brings up a subject I've been wrestling with since the president's patently absurd (a word Dubya likes and actually uses correctly) "snowflake babies" speech last week.

    Here's a group that wants to save every embryo ever conceived, and yet they love the idea of medical science creating a big batch of embryos for every client and then deep freezing them at a not unsubstantial cost, with many of those embryos never seeing the light of day or the warmer climes inside of a uterus.

    While the prez would like to see all the "snowflake babies" adopted, there's really no warmth and kindness there. You see, what can and sometimes does happen to those unused embryos is that they're used for stem cell research, something the American public and most of the rest of the world embraces but the extreme right gets hives over. Better those frozen mini life forms remain in deep freeze or even destroyed rather than let someone - except an ill member of the right, of course - benefit from that life. Particularly, the extremists keep saying, "I don't want my tax dollars used to destroy those babies!", code for "I don't want poor people benefiting from something that I should be able to have myself if I want it."

    Ah, but my tax dollars are used to fund lots of programs I don't believe in. Bet you face the same thing. I despise the fact that my tax dollars pay for Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, a "cooked" war or two, for locking up "personal use only" drug users rather than big-time distributors of far more deadly drugs, for imprisoning Martha Stewart but not Kenny Boy Lay, for funding abstience education but not teaching kids who will eventually have sex how to keep themselves safe from STDs and unwanted pregnancies, and on down the list. But apparently, only the extreme right get to pontificate about where their tax dollars should go. The rest of us can go to hell, both literally and metaphorically.

    The hypocrisy is astounding here. For example, the Pope (most of them) regularly criticizes any medical treatment that is based on using other forms of life, like an embryo. But several recent Popes have benefited from the use of such to continue to live as long ago as the Pope before the John Pauls who received monkey gland injections that requires taking the life of a primate closely associated to humans. Oh wait, I guess that life doesn't matter.

    And that whole "this life is important but that one is not" is at the core of a whole slew of the extreme right's convictions. They're really fascinated with embryos while not wanting their tax dollars to fund programs designed to help those embryos once they become fully-cooked babies, and then children, and then young adults. They're fine with frozen embryos staying frozen and wasted, but not if those wasted embryos are used to fund general research to benefit all of humanity. But, if they can benefit from stem cells themselves, they're right there to muscle others out of line.

    I'd like to believe that the general public is ultimately going to get as fed up over this nonsense as many of us already are. But time will tell. Perhaps once the extremists have completely destroyed the public schools, science, health care, etc., the general public will wise up and realize that a small percentage of the population wields undue - and unwise - political influence.

    5.31.2005

    Perhaps the Reasons Why Some of the Bolton Info Isn't Being Released

    Josh Marshall points us to Steve Soto's piece at The Left Coaster tonight on the subject:

    Perhaps we know now why the White House is fighting so furiously to prevent the Senate Intelligence Committee from getting all of the documents wanted by committee Democrats to evaluate the fitness of John Bolton to be our UN ambassador.

    According to Wednesday’s New York Times previewed in the International Herald Tribune, it has been leaked by administration sources that what the White House is refusing to release to the committee are reports that Bolton obtained from the NSA by way of a special request. And what is in those reports?
      The names of American individuals and companies that may have violated export restriction bans on the shipment of dangerous weapons material to China, Libya, and even Iran. And is it too big of a leap to assume that some or all of these firms may prove to be very damaging to the White House, as campaign contributors?

      Some of the information that the White House has refused to provide to Congress for its review of the nomination of John Bolton includes the names of American companies mentioned in intelligence reports on commerce with China and other countries covered by export restrictions, say government officials who have been briefed on the documents.

      The fact that the documents also included the names of American companies, and that the subject had to do with possible violations of American export restrictions, provides a new clue as to why the White House might be rebuffing the congressional requests.

      [snippy snip]

      But Rockefeller questioned whether Bolton might have improperly shared the names with others. Senator Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, cited the administration's refusal to provide the names to Congress in persuading 39 other Democrats and one independent to block until at least next week any vote on Bolton's nomination.
    So which companies are Bush and Dick (Mr. Halliburton Doing Business with Saddam) Cheney trying to protect here, and how many of them are major Bush/Cheney campaign contributors?

    Do you remember the stink that GOP congressman Christopher Cox raised with the allegations that Clinton sold our secrets to the Chinese for campaign contributions? What happens to Bush and the GOP if it turns out that major GOP contributors violated the export ban to China, Iran, Libya, and other countries? And what happens to Bolton if it is found out that he acquired this information and told others about it, possibly even the companies involved, in violation of national security protocols?

    Sit Down, Woman, and Think Again

    I happened on a site tonight called StandupGirl.com (if you want to go there, you can copy it yourself) that is one of those lovely places that tries to make a pregnant young woman feel incredibly guilty about making any other choice but keeping an unexpected pregnancy. You know those places that want to show you video of the baby sitting in the uterus saying, "Oh pweez don't kill me! I wanna go to Bob Jones U when I get old enuf so I can be a real smart man like Bill Fwist! Oh mommy, pweez! I wuv you soooooo!"

    To give you an idea of their honesty level there, click on the Quick Facts about the "Population Boom". According to them, population is going down. Uh huh. That must be why worldwide population has nearly doubled in MY life time (and I'm not exactly Social Security material).

    We're running out of resources: fossil fuels, potable water sources, affordable housing, affordable health care, and land used to produce food is shrinking. Even with those grim facts, no one is advocating that people who choose to get pregnant not do so, but being responsible about it is a good idea.

    What isn't a good idea is lying to scared and desperate young women, trying to horrify and guilt them into keeping a baby that these same "great Christians" will not be willing to help care for is pretty heinous.

    I spent 5-10 minutes looking around and saw NOTHING about birth control which also fits the modus operandi of the nutwing. They're happy to "punish" young woman who fail to be abstinent by forcing them to carry a pregnancy while not letting them know how they can avoid both becoming pregnant and contracting an STD (of course, if the nutwing's own daughters get pregnant, well, that's a different matter; they send the kid to a private doctor and the abortion is billed under health insurance as a wholly different procedure - saw it happen many, many times when I worked at a hospital). These are the same folks who lie and say that a condom and the pill are 70-90% ineffective. I also saw little there in the way of real support for women who want to keep the baby - just fear tactics.

    When the best you can do to make your point is to lie, that may be an indication of how strong a case you have (namely, none). Sounds just like a Bushie.

    Watching the Nixon Loyalists Shake with Outrage

    If nothing else, Tuesday was interesting for watching some of the real old faces of Nixon's Washington come out of the woodwork - many are still around, however, like Chuck Colson, now the "great" man of God (hmm) - to call W. Mark Felt a liar, a traitor, and someone who should have done jail time.

    These same men still insist Nixon did nothing wrong. ::yawn::

    Please, Spare Us!

    Poppy Bush wants Jeb to be president in 2008.

    Me? I want an amendment to the Constitution not allowing anyone named Bush anywhere near Washington, DC ever again. Unless it's my friend, Robin, a lovely and very smart lady who shares the last name but thankfully, no blood ties.

    Massachusetts Tells Romney to Stick It on Stem Cell Bill

    Reported by Joe in DC at AmericaBlog:

    The Massachusetts Legislature overrode Mitt Romney's veto of the state's stem cell bill today, AP reports:
      The Legislature on Tuesday overrode Gov. Mitt Romney's veto and approved a bill designed to propel Massachusetts to the forefront of embryonic stem cell research.The bill immediately became law over Romney's objections, after both chambers exceeded the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto. The vote was 112-42 in the House and 35-2 in the Senate.

      Under previous state law, scientists who wanted to conduct embryonic stem cell research in Massachusetts needed the approval of the local district attorney. The new law seeks to expand stem cell research by removing that requirement but giving the state Health Department some regulatory controls.

      The Republican governor vetoed the bill last week because it allows the cloning of human embryos for use in stem cell experiments - a practice Romney said amounts to creating life in order to destroy it.

    That Press Conference Today

    was a hoot and a holler. "Disassemble"? And then he defines it because, you know, we're just not as bright as him.

    What I found ironic - and not in an interesting, witty way - is the fact that CNN had four different headlines with Bush and Cheney calling evidence from Amnesty International that we have indeed done terrible things at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib "baloney" when CNN did little to actually cover the Amnesty International information directly.

    And they used to call it the Clinton News Network? Good God!

    The Bush Twins Unemployment Index

    Wonkette brings us this.

    As I keep saying, send the twins to Iraq!

    Gary Webb and His Legacy

    I happen to be a subscriber to Media Bistro and got a link today to an article in the American Journalism Review about the late Gary Webb.

    You may not remember the name but he's the San Jose Mercury News reporter who brought us the story of how the CIA was involved in bringing crack and other lovelies to inner city black neighborhoods both to turn a profit as well as to wipe out whole generations of black males who might otherwise "rise against the man".

    Remember that post-Vietnam and post inner city riots, blacks - especially black men - were beginning to organize and do more than gripe. Somehow, however, that activism has gotten lost in communities where a high percentage of the young men are now in prison. Coincidinky? Don't think so. You might have noticed that elsewhere in the last couple of days, we're hearing about the CIA's latest deal with "chartered flights" and "extreme rendition."

    Webb's work was attacked by other newspapers who worked very hard to discredit him and insist that the CIA was a very nice, honest, ethical agency (::cough:: right). The Mercury News then dumped him. Webb later died in what was ruled a self-inflicted act of violence, although there have always been some questions about that. I still see and hear people talking about his death and raising those questions. One thing there is not much question about: Webb died of a broken heart although his final wish was that his young son would one day become the kind of journalist he was.

    But, as the piece in AJR states, there was a lot of truth in what Webb wrote. One hundred percent accurate, perhaps not, but far more than many have been left to believe. I was glad to see they went back and looked at Webb's work.

    It's a worthy read, if you're so inclined.

    The President's Bankrupt Political Capitol

    Lambert at Corrente brings us a couple of good tidbits:

    First:

    Even WaPo seems to be catching on:
      Two days after winning reelection last fall, President Bush declared that he had earned plenty of "political capital, and now I intend to spend it." Six months later, according to Republicans and Democrats alike, his bank account has been significantly drained.


    Then there's this, from his tire guy, a Vietnam vet who had a few choice words for our commander-in-disbelief:
    Sheeeeit. If that motherfucker can be president, my goddam dog can be president, and look at the poor fucker--got hit by a car and hasn't been right since. I warned you, didn't I? Oh, that's right. You're a Kerry guy. Well, I tell ya, if you ever chug some bad whiskey and need to puke it up, just watch this bastard talk awhile. That shit'll come right up. And you're talking to a veteran. A real one. 'Course, then you'll want more whiskey.
    I'll raise a toast to that vet and tire man, although it will have to be coffee.

    Thank You, Mr. Felt

    I was a young teenager when Watergate broke. While Bernstein and Woodward drove me - like many - to want to become a journalist, it was "Deep Throat" who told me that there would be people willing to come forward to tell their tale.

    Today - perhaps more than ever - we need our own Deep Throat, our own Woodward and Bernsteins. But then, if we had them, we would need our own Katie Graham's to be willing to go against the establishment to let those stories appear. In today's media climate, there are few if any Katie Grahams, few Woodwards and Bernsteins, and few if any credible Deep Throats.

    Would this were not true. But it is.

    What is going on today - what we know from the Downing Street Memo and more - would make Watergate pale by comparison. This isn't just a breakin of Dem Party HQ but a wholesale destruction of the government, of this country and others, and of the entire fabric of our nation and what we stand for.

    What's worse? That we're allowing it to happen.

    Every person who reads an article and shrugs rather than takes action is culpable.

    I Beat CNN

    On the "Deep Throat" disclosure.

    But only because I sat through Bush's dumb-o press conference on NBC where it was added at the end, after they went to Williams and Russert.

    Supreme Court Unanimously Tosses Out Andersen Accounting Case

    Whoa! From CNN:

    The Supreme Court Tuesday unanimously threw out the conviction of accounting firm Arthur Andersen, a symbolic victory for a nearly defunct company torn apart in a document-shredding case involving the fallen energy giant Enron.

    The ruling is a major defeat for the federal government in its aggressive efforts to fight corporate wrongdoing.

    In a 9-0 opinion, the justices concluded that "jury instructions at issue simply failed to convey the requisite consciousness of wrongdoing." Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote the opinion, saying, "Indeed, it is striking how little culpability the instructions required."

    The opinion came unusually quickly after oral arguments in the case were held April 27, a clear sign the justices found the government's arguments quite unpersuasive. Lawyers for the Justice Department faced tough questioning from the bench during the arguments.

    The ruling threw the case back to lower federal courts to sort out, but it gave no indication whether Andersen would be granted a new trial.

    Andersen officials were convicted in June 2002 of obstructing justice for destroying thousands of documents related to the firm's work for Enron, the energy company that filed for bankruptcy in December 2001 after a huge accounting scandal made it a symbol of the corporate abuse and excess of the late 1990s.
    Hmmm.

    So - considering how very rarely this court ever rules unanimously, is it worth wondering whether Bush's Justice Department - with its many close ties to Andersen companies like Enron and Halliburton - purposely cooked the cake for this result?

    On Becoming a Republican

    Posted at Left is Right and it made me cry and laugh (go there to read the entire thing):

    After a lifetime voting for and working for Democratic candidates and independents, I'm finally going to make the switch and become a Republican. T

    The reasons are many, not the least of which is age. I turned 55 recently and, having lived more than half my life, I can't afford to worry anymore about the other guy. It's time for me.

    As a Republican, I can now proudly -- indeed, defiantly -- pledge to never again vote for anyone who raises taxes for any reason. To hell with roads, bridges, schools, police and fire protection, Medicare, Social Security and regulation of the airwaves.

    President Bush has promised to give me more tax cuts even though our federal government owes trillions of dollars to its creditors. But that's someone else's problem, not mine. Republicans are about the here and now, and I'm here now.

    As a Republican, I can favor exploiting the environment for everything she's got. No need to worry about quaint notions like posterity and natural legacy. There are plenty of resources left for everyone, and if we don't use them, someone else will. I want a party that doesn't worry about things before we have to. Republicans refuse to get hog-tied by theories such as global warming, ozone depletion, fished-out oceans and disappearing wetlands. The real problems -- if there are any -- aren't forecast to take hold for at least 50 years. So what do I care? I'll be dead.

    As a Republican, I can swagger and clamor for war -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, wherever -- even though I've never fought in one or even been in the military. I can claim that we're fighting for Democracy, ignoring reports of torture at Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base and Guantanamo Bay, and a spreading gulag of secret detention centers around the world.

    Visit Josh Marshall's TPM Cafe

    Here.

    But don't be surprised if it doesn't open - I suspect the cafe, once it opened its door, got filled immediately to capacity since Josh is one of the most intelligent, focused, and professional voices in the blogosphere.

    If you can't get in at first, try try again.

    Iraq War Will End Before 2009

    Imagine that, from the VP.

    The "cakewalk", the "in-and-out" and "I'd be very surprised if we were still there 3-6 months after we enter Baghdad" war.

    2009.

    Imagine how many more soldiers, humanitarian workers, contractors, and innocent civilians will die there before 2009.

    Vanity Fair Names Watergate Era's "Deep Throat"

    It's 91-year-old Mark Felt, then a leading Washingtonian insider and not one of the top three like Al Haig often speculated as Washington's best kept secret.

    Last Throes of Insurgency? Yeah, Right

    From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

    I was beginning to think the coming and going of the November election had heralded not only the end of episodic national terror alerts but also the monthly ritual of Iraqi up-is-downism from Vice President Cheney.

    Last night on Larry King Live Vice President Cheney said that the Iraqi insurgency was "in its last throes." In this he seemed to be picking up on President Bush's recent claims that the huge upsurge of violence and bombings of late was a sign that the insurgents were on the ropes.
    Then, though, Cheney went on to say something ... well, I'm not sure whether to call it 'curious' or almost candid or what. But he went on to predict that the insurgency would end before the president leaves office, or in other words before January 2009, or in yet other words that the US will be fighting a counter-insurgency in Iraq for no more than six years.

    And if that means it's in its 'last throes', well ...
    We've been hearing "a few dead-enders" and "last throes" for two years now. And wow, only nearly four more years to go.

    Today Isn't the Day That Will Live in Infamy, But it Hopefully Will Be Remembered

    Beginning today, you'll be seeing a concerted effort throughout the progressive blogosphere both to call attention to the evidence that has come forth about the "cooked" Iraq War and to get people motivated to call for.. no... DEMAND a complete investigation. By complete, none of us means one of those cute little commissions Mr. Bush creates and then appoints his friends to lead.

    While I'm sure Kissinger (Bush's first choice for the 9-11 commission head) would just love sitting on his ass drinking espresso for nine months before he says Mr. Bush was perfect and there was no "cooking", let's not invite him to do so.

    If the war was not a fiction, then no one should worry.

    But if - as the evidence strongly suggests - there was a plan in place to attack Iraq that had nothing to do with yellow cake, aluminum tubes, Saddam, etc., we as Americans have the patriotic responsibility of finding this out, having it duly reported, and weigh what else must be done.

    We do not have the luxury of choosing to ignore what is finally coming to the surface. The rest of the world knows about this and they hold us - the people who allowed Mr. Bush to return to a second term as president - responsible.

    Click here to visit Downing Street Memo.

    Click here to visit the After Downing Street Coalition.

    Click here to sign the petition demanding an explanation.

    Contact your state reps.

    How can you help? First, talk about it. Read up on it and share what you learn. Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper.

    Second, help us not let this be swept under the rug.

    The Big No in France

    WaPo has one of the better pieces I've seen although it's centered around "the failure" of Chirac to lead:

    France's stunning rejection Sunday of a new European constitution was, most of all, a noisy protest against the disruptive, leveling force of economic globalization. You could see that in television images of the "no" voters as the result was announced -- burly arms raised in the air, fists cocked -- as if by rejecting a set of technical amendments to European rules they could hold back a threatening future.

    And you could see the result on the faces of the losers -- glum establishment politicians being interviewed after the vote, trying to put a brave spin on a devastating defeat. For this no vote had been opposed by nearly all the luminaries of the French political class in both the socialist and conservative parties.

    It was a no that resonated on many levels: a rejection of the document and the wider Europe it came to symbolize, a rejection of a market-driven way of life that's taken for granted in America, and above all a rejection of President Jacques Chirac, who tried to trick and cajole France into embracing the realities of the global economy, rather than forthrightly explaining them.
    Fear of the future is always a powerful political force, and one that often has unfortunate consequences. And it's hard in this case to see much positive coming out of the French no. Europe will go on as before, but European politicians will be tempted to waste even more time soft-pedaling the fact of global competition rather than helping their people adapt and change.
    I'm still struggling to understand the real ramifications of the "No on EU" vote.

    5.30.2005

    What Bush is Really Saying

    Not that this is a complete reference (I find his boners are actually very telling), but hey, it's a start.

    Nod to Shakespeare's Sister for the link.

    Backlash Tsunami: A Race Against Time

    Story

    Remember

    That's the title of a very effective, very moving photo collection posted at Jesus' General today to remind us that this day is not about barbecues, parades, or getting the paid day off from work.

    Thank you, General.

    Thank you to the soldiers and their families. I just wish that those who made such sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan had not been used and abused so badly.

    Stay Tuned Tomorrow

    Note that the Big Brass Alliance logo now appears at the right.

    After soul-searching and even knowing that getting involved in this will not help some other issues in which I'm painfully involved, I've decided that the truth - and America's future - matters more than my own comfort.

    Starting tomorrow, this blog and others will be providing vital information related to what we need to do related to what we know about the lies and actions that led to the Iraq War, the deaths of just shy of 2,000 American soldiers, many coalition partner forces, and tens if not hundreds of thousands of civilians.

    I encourage you as citizens on this Memorial Day to support our troops by supporting the truth tellers and the efforts necessary to push for a full (and non-cooked) investigation. If our soldiers must go to war and face the ultimate sacrifice, then we must be sure they go to war for the "right" reasons.

    More and more, it is obvious that Iraq was not only not a just action, but a network of people and interests came together to force our troops into Iraq - at our troops' peril - for reasons that had nothing to do with U.S. national security or the much heralded "freedom" of the Iraqi people.

    It is time, my friends, to cross the rubicon, to stop muttering and griping and take effective action.

    Stay tuned.

    Stem Cell Research Vs. "Snowflake Babies" Wrapped Up in Unbridled Hypocrisy

    From CNN:

    Sen. Arlen Specter said Sunday he believes the Senate has enough votes to override a threatened presidential veto of legislation easing restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

    Fellow Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, however, vowed to keep the bill from reaching the Senate floor. Both appeared on ABC's "This Week."

    "I've been taught a lot of lessons from the Democrats lately, so I've got some ideas on how one can get this done," Brownback said. "And I think it's important that we move forward."

    The bill would allow researchers to use some 400,000 embryos that were created for in vitro fertilization and would likely otherwise be discarded.

    President Bush opposes that and held a news conference last week to promote adopting the embryos, which he called "snowflake babies".
    Good for Specter if he's committed to something that won't kill the measure.

    The president's "snowflake babies" speech last week was completely off the wall. Besides behaving as if he's completely "la-la land", Mr. Bush basically once again went on record as saying that tiny embryos that cannot live outside the body - or the lab - are more important than any fully-cooked human life. He made certain stem cell research couldn't go forward easily with his 2001 ruling that flies in the face of what the public at large feels is right. All he wants to do is be sure that he makes the extreme nutwing happy.

    But here's the thing. This is blatant hypocrisy.

    If Mr. Bush were ill, or his family, there is every reason to believe he would be more than happy to have treatments that involved the "destruction" of other forms of life.

    I wish I could remember the fellow's name, but in 2003 or 2004, an old-time legislator from one of the Western states, a real advocate of the nutwing who opposed abortions, opposed stem cell research, opposed women's right to choice, died after a long and debilitating illness. In reading the article about his death - which may have even been on CNN - it was noted this old fart had undergone aggressive treatment that indeed used something similar to embryonic stem cells. No one but me seemed to blink at the article, which basically tells us that when these "culture of lifers" face a medical emergency, they're going to use everything in their capacity to stay alive by whatever means possible. I think we can all understand that, right?

    The difference with that man, and with the Bushes, is that they want to kill any ability for the public at large to benefit from stem cell research by not only ending the right of a woman to choose but also killing any real federal research projects that would benefit everyone. Instead, because they're covered by federal insurance coverage, and because they're people with money, they can quietly go to a private hospital and use those same fetuses, those same stem cells they will not allow for the public.

    Even if you end abortion, there will always be a certain quanty of embryos and fetuses developed each year that cannot or will not be brought through a successful pregnancy (through miscarriages, emergency measures, in vitro fertilization, etc.).

    No one is talking about creating a situation where women can get pregnant and then financially benefit from donating their embryos to a program doing stem cell research. Just think of the incredible changes in a woman's body that result from even early stage pregnancy, and you realize that few women would ever agree to this even if corporate America sought it.

    Do these embryos just go in dumpsters? Or can they be put to use? That's what we're really talking about here: using embryos that would otherwise be lost to life anyway.

    5.29.2005

    Ah, the Rewards of Cooked Intelligence

    From WaPo:

    Two Army analysts whose work has been cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq — the claim that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were probably meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets — have received job performance awards in each of the past three years, officials said.

    The civilian analysts, former military men considered experts on foreign and U.S. weaponry, work at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), one of three U.S. agencies singled out for particular criticism by President Bush's commission that investigated U.S. intelligence.

    The Army analysts concluded that it was highly unlikely that the tubes were for use in Iraq's rocket arsenal, a finding that bolstered a CIA contention that they were destined for nuclear centrifuges, which was in turn cited by the Bush administration as proof that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

    The problem, according to the commission, which cited the two analysts' work, is that they did not seek or obtain information available from the Energy Department and elsewhere showing that the tubes were indeed the type used for years as rocket-motor cases by Iraq's military. The panel said the finding represented a "a serious lapse in analytic tradecraft" because the center's personnel "could and should have conducted a more exhaustive examination of the question."

    Goodbye Gitmo?

    Reading James Wolcott tonight made me do that which I rarely do anymore: read a Tom Friedman column.

    Before 9-11 and perhaps for awhile thereafter, I used to read Friedman fairly regularly, thinking I was being educated by someone who travels in the Middle East, etc. But then I got a little more educated on the subject elsewhere and realized Friedman isn't great on the subject.

    Then, in the leadup to the Iraq War, I saw his hand-wringing, his flip-floppiness and read his arguments to go to war and decided it wasn't just the Middle East Tom didn't know all that much about for a supposed "expert". I'm actually angry with myself at my naivete for so long, reading various publications and assuming that the writers were always so knowledgeable. Oh well.

    Really, this is the long way around presenting Friedman's latest opinion - which Wolcott points out he had first: namely, the dismantling of Guantanamo Bay. From Friday's Times:


    Shut it down. Just shut it down.

    I am talking about the war-on-terrorism P.O.W. camp at Guantánamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under. It has become worse than an embarrassment. I am convinced that more Americans are dying and will die if we keep the Gitmo prison open than if we shut it down. So, please, Mr. President, just shut it down.

    If you want to appreciate how corrosive Guantánamo has become for America's standing abroad, don't read the Arab press. Don't read the Pakistani press. Don't read the Afghan press. Hop over here to London or go online and just read the British press! See what our closest allies are saying about Gitmo. And when you get done with that, read the Australian press and the Canadian press and the German press.

    Oh, Tommy Boy, I DO read them.

    I know exactly what is said, and the opinion isn't new. It predates our first published stories of torture and abuse from Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and similar facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq and our "outsourching" to known brutal countries like Syria of our political prisoners.

    In a way, I support the dismantling of Gitmo. But like the early idea of tearing Abu Ghraib down and pretending it never existed, it WON'T change people's minds about what America is and has become. Destroy the symbol and you won't destroy what the symbol meant.

    Only here in the U.S. are memories so short that Mr. Bush doesn't believe Americans will recall that he had like 5 or 6, ever changing reasons for going to war. Only here in the US did we forget that on the morning of 9/11, Bush just sat there while planes hit four separate times and then re-elected him because we "liked" the way he handled that day on which, when he finally stopped reading "My Pet Goat", then hid away on Air Force One, flying all around the country.

    Separate from what Gitmo is today, it's always been just a place where we sat thumbing our noses at Castro. Just as we thumb our nose - and look down our nose at the same time - to the rest of the world.

    By all means, close Gitmo. But only if you change the system and don't just move Gitmo to somewhere else and do the same thing. We certainly didn't learn from Abu Ghraib. Now we're blaming Newsweek for the Arab world hating us (ha!).

    I don't know what the hell's wrong with us, but I know it's never going to get any better until the current administration is not only removed, but possibly stands charges for war crimes and beyond. There is considerable evidence of their culpability, but America has become a place of short term memory. No one seems to remember any bad news they heard the day before.

    But the rest of the world? They'll remember. They'll remember long after the Bushies are gone. We planted one hell of a toxic crop four years ago. It didn't only poison everything now.. but the effects will be seen for generations to come. The sooner we stop sowing the same damn poisonous seed, the sooner perhaps we can recover. But it won't be overnight.

    Who Is Your Political Hero?

    The Carpetbagger asks this question in its Sunday discussion. Go here to join in or feel free to post a comment here chiming in. At this point, I'd be hard pressed to identify one. Politicians routinely amaze me one moment and sadly disappoint me the next.

    Ah, but political hero doesn't have to be a politician, methinks.

    At times, I would label Howard Dean, Colleen Rowley (the FBI whistleblower), Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, and even Scott Ritter political heroes. There are more, of course.

    More Encounters with Consumers of Gas-Guzzling Behemoth Vehicles with "Support Our Troops" Decals

    I see I'm not the only one having these encounters (except, as you'll recall with mine, I had to open my very small yet still capacious mouth - I just saw the driver of the Hummer again yesterday, and he's still looking at me like he can and will kill me as soon as possible).

    This episode is shared by TCF from ThatColoredFella'sWeblog:

    So, as I’m crossing the parking lot, I notice a nearly new, khaki green GM gas-guzzling, behemoth of an SUV (the make escapes me). It had two ‘Support The Troops’ ribbon decals, one yellow, and the other employing a US flag design. On the tinted rearview window above, an oversized American flag decal that was not see-through.

    Shaking my head with disgust, I continued inside and took my place behind a short line of customers already waiting. To my right, sitting on the other side of the long, oval counter sat a woman eating and reading the paper, who can only (and accurately) be described as obese. Oblivious to all those around her, the bespectacled, dark pink shirted customer clearly was enjoying the strawberry-filled donut in hand, a large sack of treats and milk (low-fat 2%) beside her as back-up.

    After completing my purchase, TCF turned to leave just in time to watch ‘Big Pink’ laboriously, and with a slow waddle, exit the premises. Needing to cross a very busy thoroughfare during peak morning rush hour, TCF stood at the curb in front of the Dunkin Donuts long enough to notice the aforementioned, mileage-challenged ‘bucket’ pull to the DD exit – with ‘Big Pink’ at the wheel!

    Oh, and by the way, hanging from her rear view mirror was one of those blue handicap parking permit passes.

    After Downing Street Memo

    Reality-based bloggers are urged to join the effort, being organized by Shakespeare's Sister, to get the word out and take this beyond more than blog discussion.

    See also After Downing Street.

    This isn't a stained blue dress. This is a cooked war, with more going on the stove all the time.

    Awareness Is Painful

    Another blog I just discovered and will be visiting regularly (wherever will I find the time with five books going?).

    The Uncompromising Mr. Bush and the Last Filibuster Compromise He Ignored

    This is a good piece in the WaPo by Carl M. Cannon. To me, the issue isn't the labeling of Dems as obstructionist, but a president who has never conceded on anything.

    Big tax breaks for the rich don't work? Well, keep doing em, he insists. War in Iraq going bad? Don't change a thing, he says. Majority of Americans saying they want more scrutiny exercised on his judicial nominees? Tough, says Bush, I'll appoint you I want and fuck anybody in Congress who asks 'em a question.

    Before good-government types go all weak in the knees about the Great Filibuster Compromise of 2005, they might do well to recall the Great Filibuster Compromise of 2004.

    Don't remember that one? That's understandable: It didn't change anything.

    That deal, which was reached last May, guaranteed up-or-down votes on 25 Bush judicial nominees in exchange for a promise that the White House wouldn't bypass the Senate by making any more of those dastardly recess appointments to the bench. Those 25 judges were confirmed, bringing President Bush's total to nearly 200, in line with other recent presidents. According to a 2003 report from the Congressional Research Service, Ronald Reagan had 163 judges confirmed in his first term, Bill Clinton had 200 and Bush's father, in his only term, won approval for 191 of his judicial nominees.

    But the compromise had no real effect at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Bush simply pressed ahead last year with his intention to put his stamp on the federal judiciary, naming the same kinds of conservatives after the 2004 deal -- and after his re-election -- as he had before. Sometimes he renominated the very same people who had been turned down earlier, reviving antagonisms with Democrats.

    If anything, Bush redoubled his efforts, spurred on by the election campaign and the fight over gay marriage. "This difficult debate was forced upon our country by a few activist judges . . . who have taken it on themselves to change the meaning of marriage," he declared in his weekly radio address last July 11. Then he went off to a wedding -- of the very traditional kind -- in Georgetown. During that same week, he journeyed to Michigan to publicize the fact that all four of his nominees to the appellate courts from that state had been waiting two years for a vote; three were still awaiting action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    What's to stop Bush from following the same course this year? Not much.

    Lovely Weather

    Yesterday, we finally got some warmup here, although the weather kept moving in and out of "the wrath of God is upon you!" colors in the sky. Today, trying to escape work briefly for some exercise, I decided to go hiking about while the rest of the family was off elsewhere. My timing was.. to say the least... interesting.

    Can you get a concussion from hail? My head took such a pounding from not quite golf ball size hail that, in the time it took me to get home, my ears are still doing the "ringing in tin" thing, I've got a stereoscopic headache, and my scalp feels like it was tenderized by a hammer with nails.

    Probably by the time I start the grill for dinner, I'll get hit with ball lightning. I've already had one experience with the stuff and I don't care for another.

    I'm a very lucky person. But my particular brand of luck tends to fall into the "only one person in a hundred thousand ever gets this kind of life-threatening illness" and "WTF?!?!" and "did you do something in a past life to deserve this and if so, what, because the rest of us need to avoid it" variety.

    The Non-Christian Factor

    [I know, I know. I said I was going but...]

    From Max at MaxSpeaks:

    Jewish and Muslim fundies show more sense than some Christians.

    The so-called Culture of Life reaches endless depths of absurdity (text) on the sex-only-for-procreation and the every-embryo-is-sacred fronts.

    The rabbis, not to mention Judaism in general, are criticized on National Review Online by Eric Cohen, who seems to lack credentials in both theology and science.
    I was reading about this issue earlier this week, as orthodox Jews came out in support of stem cell research, while Iraqi Christians opposed efforts by the teams of American Christian evangelists streaming into Iraq to "convert" Iraqi Christians. Convert?

    But this also reminds me of a larger issue that I've written about, in fragments, before. A recent study of Muslims and Muslim countries shows a very misguided, skewed view of Jews in American media and politics. While only one of the six biggest US newspapers is owned by a Jew, many in Arab countries believe the American media is owned and run exclusively by Jews. Likewise, while there are relatively few Jews serving in elected national posts, these folks believe Jews "run" American politics.

    That may not be surprising to some, but the odd thing here is that among American evangelicals, you see the very same misconceptions: Jews run our politics and our media, with the implicit idea that "Jews are trying to ruin the Christian family."

    As I've indicated, I grew up in a family and a town of extreme prejudice. I heard the "Jews run" line almost daily. While - at first blush - you might think things have changed because so many Christian evangelicals "side" with Israel these days, things have not changed at all.

    Christian evangelicals are taught that Israel - and the support of the Jews - is necessary because for the "Rapture" and end times theology to play out, Jews must be in place and in power in Israel. Hence, we see the "support". But before you relax, understand that they're only using Jews. In fact, their ideology requires that - for their end times to play out - those Jews must convert to Christianity. Any Jews who don't won't be saved.

    There is no Christian evangelical love for Jews if Jews are only servants in the evangelical game plan. Jews aren't even supposed to be Jews anymore if radical Christian ideology plays out.

    But here I am at this stage of my life just appalled at all of this. Despite my upbringing, I've again and again been the recipient of help, care, support, education, mentoring by Jews. Jews have helped me not only stay alive and be a thinking person, but they have helped me be a better person and even yes, a better Christian. I do not for the life of me understand the hate, fear, and misunderstanding of Christian evangelicals and Muslin fundamentalists about Jews. I don't even see how you can claim to be a Christian or a Muslim, with the specific teachings of Christ and Mohammed, and foster the kind of hatred and fear of Jews that is indemic to fundamentalism.

    I just don't understand. If someone else does, please please explain it to me.

    OK, I'm Outta Here

    For the afternoon. I've got to get six chapters redone on one book, revamp the proposed Table of Contents on another, revise a writing sample on a third, finish up four chapters on a fourth, and look for a job because my 130 hours of work a week aren't paying the bills. Sad, but true.

    SurREAL ID Card

    Also from the Vermont Guardian, regarding this atrocious national ID card bill snuck into another, totally unrelated piece of legislation and passed:


    The end result will be that getting a driver’s license anywhere — especially in rural areas like Vermont— will become increasingly difficult. Worse, soon we will be scanned, tracked, and identified electronically from birth to death. How many times we cross state borders, get caught for speeding, buy beer, a gun, or anything else requiring identification may be stored in one handy place.

    Alliances of the right and left are developing in an attempt to stave off the ID card legislation before it takes effect. The list of groups that oppose Real ID numbers more than 600. Gun Owners of America believes it will make it easier to track gun purchases nationally, and organizations like the Cato Institute and the National Conference of State Legislatures see it as a huge, unfunded mandate and a blatant violation of states’ rights.

    As the old saying goes, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck. In this case, the legislation in question is truly foul.
    And yet again, proponents insist it's needed, stirring up great fears surrounding 9/11.

    But the DHS - worried more about Michael Jackson and bootleg copies of Lucas' "Revenge of the Sith than about ports of entry - won't be using this to protect us from terrorists. They'll use it only to watch us.

    US Ranks Surprisingly Low on List of "Free Press" Countries

    Even I was surprised when I read this in the Vermont Guardian:

    A survey by Freedom House has concluded that the United States ranked 24th last year for freedom of the press, tying with Barbados, Canada, Dominica, Estonia, and Latvia. The disappointing rank is due to “a number of legal cases in which prosecutors sought to compel journalists to reveal sources or turn over notes or other material they had gathered in the course of investigations,” Freedom House explained.

    The survey, Freedom of the Press 2005: A Global Survey of Media Independence, was produced by asking journalists, researchers, and legal experts 50 questions. It is the 15th annual survey by Freedom House to assess the degree of freedom enjoyed by print, broadcast, and digital media.

    Concerning the United States, a summary noted, “Doubts concerning official influence over media content emerged with the disclosures that several political commentators received grants from federal agencies, and that the Bush administration had significantly increased the practice of distributing government-produced news segments.”

    Just 17 percent of people in the world live in countries that enjoy a free press, while 45 percent live where the press is not free, an increase of 2 percent in the past year, Freedom House said. Another 38 percent of the world population lives in countries with a “partly free” press, the organization said.

    The freest nations in 2004 were Finland, Iceland, and Sweden. North Korea, Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, and Turkmenistan were at the bottom of the list.

    From E&P: Why Isn't the Press Trying to Learn Why the Public Now is Opposed to Iraq?

    It's an excellent question and high time someone asked it (you know, besides bloggers and those who read them).

    From Editor and Publisher's usually great Greg Mitchell:

    The latest poll from Gallup shows that 57% of Americans do not believe the Iraq war is "worth it," yet there is little public protest. No matter where you stand on the war, you've got to wonder: What's going on here at home? Yet few in the press have set out to explore this gap between what appears to be wide public anger and apathy.

    There is a strange disconnect in America at the moment, with the press partly to blame but in the position to do something about it, or at least explain it. You may be surprised to learn that nearly 6 in 10 Americans feel the Iraq war is "not worth it," according to a recent Gallup poll. Exactly 50% feel that President Bush "deliberately misled" them on the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and virtually the same number call the war an out-and-out "mistake."

    More than 56% now say the war is going badly for the United States. Gallup also recently found that 46% of those polled say we should start withdrawing troops. Yet there are few marches in the streets (or anywhere else), and even fewer editorials in major newspapers calling for a phased pullout or setting a deadline for withdrawal. But that's not my main concern here. No matter where you stand on the Iraq war, you've got to wonder: What's going on here at home?

    Yet few in the press have set out to explore this gap between what appears to be wide public anger and apathy: the enormous number of Americans who support our troops while, at least indirectly, devaluing their service by claiming this is a war not worth fighting. For months, E&P Online has tracked various Gallup polls on this subject, and watched the numbers rise and fall. After the Iraqi elections in January, public opinion briefly shifted in a more positive direction, but that was quickly reversed with a return of wide violence and a rising American death toll this spring. Yet despite all the front-page coverage and punditry in the papers, it still seems that the war, and any deep feelings about it, are stuck in slow motion, or in quicksand.
    There's more. I encourage you to read it.

    Editor and Publisher

    I've frequently cited articles there, as I'm just about to do.

    I mention them again now because I think E&P - a publication I have read on and off since college when it was required reading in my journalism program - has become a terribly important resource at looking beyond what the MSM is NOT covering. Insiders might read it, but so too should many people - the general public, non-journos - who find the MSM lacking and want to know the story behind the "no story".

    More Evidence of a Cooked War: US and Brits Tried to Engage Saddam in 2002

    Brought to us by Attaturk at Atrios:

    "Well, sure it's a war crime...but this is just rehashing old news" So sayeth the lords of the American Media, but at least the Times cares:
      THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown. The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive. The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make “regime change” in Iraq legal.

    Christ in the Curriculum

    I heart the General - General JC Christian, that is. He brings us this (and you should read the entire thing):

    The public school system is responsible for introducing the twin evils of science and tolerance into our culture. If we don't act to stop it soon, our great nation, like Sodom and Gomorrah before it, will be destroyed in an rain of fire. We must each do all we can to change society's current course. The best way to do that is to remove our children from the godless educational system. Why trust professional educators with our children's learning when we can do much better at home. That's especially true now that we have teaching tools like these:

    Anyone Else Noticed the Iraq War Cost Counter?

    I keep it at the right side of the blog, and I've noticed that it's going FASTER. Meaning, we're spending more and more.

    Schapelle Corby: 20 Year Sentence for Pot

    Karlo at SwerveLeft covers the story.

    I agree: it's heinous and extreme. But right here at home, we have someone - is it Sensenbrenner? a man whose name should not have "sense" in it - proposing a "pass the joint" law that would give a mandatory minimum of 5-15 years if you're even in the same room with someone smoking pot.

    Now, I'm somebody pretty unhappy with how many of my fellow Americans cannot get through the day without pot, pills, alcohol, or something. Oh, I'm not being pious here. There was a time when I wanted it too - I was just "lucky" enough to realize before I went too deeply down any road that there was no "fix"; you have to learn to deal with yourself.

    We're raised here to believe there's a drug for every ill - mental or physical - and to go looking for it on our own if our doctors won't prescribe it. But huge sentences and filling up prisons with nickel-and-dime drug consumers while we're letting seriously violent cases out after a couple of years to make room for guys who grow 3 pot plants in their backyard is just madness. Considering how bad our system is, it's hard for me to work up the moral outrage at another country.

    So I feel terrible for this woman. But I feel terrible for those here who are serving life sentences for absolute stupidity. The more we try to punish those - and then, only a certain segment of those, while others use "sanctioned" methods to get stoned with inpunity - who use chemicals to survive, the worse it all becomes. Since 9/11, drug use of almost every type - alcohol, antidepressants, sleeping pills, sedatives, plus "street" drugs - are way, way up. So are the costs inherent in same. No legislation is going to stop that.

    Liberal vs. Conservative

    I happened to find this link today in linkages to me: Unpartisan.

    It's a blog news aggregator service that boasts "no human editor". My half hour or so on the site, I liked it (well, considering we're mid-way through a holiday weekend when the media is trying hard not to cover anything substantive).

    I did note with some chagrin that a few of my postings were the only "liberal" (not a badge I wear comfortably or uniformly) posts against news stories also covered by the likes of nutso conservo-idealogues Michelle Malkin and Frank Gaffney where I could not be considered the flip-side of people so war hungry, so desperate to make a fortune off the misery of others.

    The only thing I'm uncomfortable with in any large part - and this is hardly the sole blame of this site - is that the world in general nor the world of bloggers specifically cannot solely be assigned just one of these two labels: conservatives and liberals. It's a trap the far right uses, in fact, and the rest of the media has picked up (because no one defines everyone like the right!): meet our test or you're branded a liberal. In that regard, anyone to the right of Ronald Reagan now would be branded a liberal. I've heard McCain, for example, called a lefty liberal in the last few days.

    I would not brand myself strictly a liberal blogger nor do I identify myself as liberal. I'm progressive on most points, conservative on a few, centrist on many others.

    But it goes way beyond me: most people in America, for example, don't brand themselves as liberal or conservative. They're tired of the "two sizes fit all" landscape. In fact, in demographics, there's a saying that many people are conservative in thought but more progressive in daily life.

    Enough!

    I'm going to curl up in bed with Carl Sagan (his book, not his mortal remains).

    This is what James Dobson and George Bush have driven me to: a deeper appreciation of science.

    On This Memorial Day, The Time Has Come for an Accounting

    From Jim Hoagland in WaPo:

    American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve the nation's thanks and respect this Memorial Day. But they deserve more. They deserve a clearer, more realistic explanation from President Bush of their strategic mission, and they deserve directives that show them precisely how to accomplish it. The American public also needs explanations and, yes, directives. The White House seems to underestimate the fraying of national support that is occurring for the U.S. military presence in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan. Freedom may be on the march, but Americans need to be told more specifically and persuasively how U.S. and allied combat deaths abroad advance that march now, not years from now.

    A similar initiative is needed on homeland defense. Confusion and drift mark public understanding of how individuals, communities and the nation as a whole should respond to terrorist strikes on U.S. soil. Citizens can learn more about how cities would be evacuated or other responses to a future Sept. 11-type event from watching doomsday television dramas such as "24" than from the administration.
    ::applause::

    Egg-cellent Op Art

    in Today's Times (look for West Point).

      Democracy is not a present you give to people by bombing them.

    How They Say Thank You to the Forces on Memorial Day

    Abominable, abyssmal, assinine, atrocious (any awful As I missed?):

    Showing bad timing as well as bad judgment, House Republicans chose the days before this weekend's patriotic holiday to deny needed health services to women serving the nation in the military.

    On Tuesday, Republican leaders had the Rules Committee block the House from voting on two modest amendments to the military authorization bill that were intended to remove ideological barriers to providing decent care to military women who are victims of sexual assault. One amendment, offered by Representative Michael Michaud, a Maine Democrat, would have ensured that so-called morning-after emergency contraception, which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex, was made available to sexual assault victims at military bases. The other, sponsored by Representatives Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Democrat of Florida, would have carved out a narrow exception to the ban on federal financing of abortions, for military women who have suffered rape or incest.

    We understand why G.O.P. leaders wanted to prevent the House from voting on these measures: that would have required Republicans to go on record in favor of ill-treating female service members to placate their influential extreme-right wing.

    On Wednesday, House members did vote on a perennial proposal, offered this time by three California Democrats, Representatives Susan Davis, Jane Harman and Loretta Sanchez, to permit American troops overseas and their relatives to obtain abortions at military hospitals and clinics if they pay the bills. Military doctors currently may perform abortions only in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is endangered. Even in cases of rape and incest, the women must pay. While women stationed in the United States who seek an abortion can at least go to public or private hospitals or clinics off the grounds of military bases, those options may not be available to many of the more than 100,000 American women living on overseas bases, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Anyone Besides 6 of Us Following the Ohio Republican-"Rare Coin" Retirement Account Scandal?

    Here, for one.

    US Sales to Non-Democratic Countries Rose Sharply After 9-11

    Gee.

    The sale of military weapons to other countries, including many that were once barred from making such purchases, has increased sharply since the attacks on Sept. 11, according to a study by a New York research group.

    As the United States is trying to secure new allies in its fight against terrorism, the study by the World Policy Institute - a research group based at the New School University - says that the nation has expanded the sales of weapons to countries that were once prohibited from receiving American-made goods because of their poor human rights records.

    Among the countries are Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as Algeria and Uzbekistan. Some two dozen countries have either become first-time recipients since Sept. 11 or have been readmitted to the program after long absences.

    The study found that the largest aid program, Foreign Military Financing, increased 68 percent from 2001 to 2003, to reach $6 billion - a peak amount - before trending back to a current $4.5 billion.

    More than half of the top 25 recipients in 2003, either through the commercial sales program or through foreign military sales, were countries that the State Department has defined as undemocratic.
    Why does the American government hate America - not to mention the rest of the world?

    Recalling the Recall Winner

    Hint: those huge and ever-swelling crowds around Arnold Schwarzenegger are NOT fans. It's getting so commonplace, so large, no nasty that even the MSM is mentioning it occasionally.

    Dick Cheney: Unauthorized Biography

    Hollywood Oz points us to this Canadian-made documentary about Cheney. Go look.

    Paul Krugman Returns Fire on "Omnibudsman" Okrent "Parting Shot"

    From Armando posting at DailyKos:

    Paul Krugman wants an explanation:
      In Daniel Okrent's parting shot as public editor of The New York Times, he levied a harsh charge against me: he said that I have "a disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults."

      He offered no examples of my "disturbing habit," and maybe I should stop there: surely it's inappropriate for the public editor to attack the ethics of one of the paper's writers without providing any supporting evidence. He responded to my request for examples with criticisms of specific columns. Those criticisms were simply wrong: in each of those columns I played entirely fair with my readers, using the standard data in the standard way.

      That should be the end of the story.

      I want to go back to doing what I have been doing all along: using economic data to inform my readers.

      PAUL KRUGMANPrinceton, N.J., May 24, 2005
    Well why the hell did Okrent not provide us with examples? Why did he not respond to Krugman's letter here?

    Exactly.