40 Million Americans Cannot Read

More than 1 in 10.

And this statistic only includes full US citizens. And then, only those who either answered honestly when asked or were judged by some "authority" to be illiterate are counted. Just based on what stats behind stats tell us, you could easily say the real figure's got to be closer to 1 in 5 people.

Take it then to the people who can read but.. hey... it's a challenge or just no fun, and what are we down to? I'd sadly guess that 2 in every 3 Americans do not have the critical skill levels needed (even on a base level) to read through a newspaper or non-fiction article and be able to recognize biases and blatant impossible or highly unlikely facts.

How many of the estimated 25-40 million documented and undocumented non-residents within the U.S. borders can read is a whole new level of question.

[Note to self: You didn't pick writing as a profession. It picked you... clean.]


Historically Speaking

It was this day in 1962 that President John F. Kennedy signed an order that began a naval blockade of Cuba, popularly considered the start of the "Bay of Pigs" fiasco.

American politics were already quite dirty even then.

Our continuing embargo on Cuba is criminal and it should have ended before it started.

Trust me, I am no fan of Castro. However, the only thing that has kept Castro alive and in power after the USSR fell apart - and possibly even before that - was our intervention.

But the original people Castro threw out were largely extremely rich and well connected, who also did not treat their people very well. They simply transplanted mainly to Florida, where they have controlled parts of American government ever since.

American mafia organizations were also proud stockholders in pre-Castro Cuba. They've also had interesting relationships with our own government.



All the News That's Fit to Punt?

Reported by Media Matters (and tsk tsk tsk, Times: was this written by someone who interned under the Goddess of Invisible WMD, Judith Miller?):

In an October 20 article on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's questioning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, The New York Times reported:
    "The hearing was punctuated by a heckler who called for an end to the war, only to be hustled out."
But what one would not know from reading the Times' account was that the "heckler" is a former senior-level U.S. diplomat and former Army colonel. The Washington Post report on the hearing noted:
    As Rice testified, former U.S. diplomat Mary Ann Wright stood up and shouted from the audience, "Stop the killing in Iraq. You and Congress have to be responsible."
Wright, a senior envoy in the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan and Mongolia, resigned in protest in 2003.

As the Associated Press reported on May 25, 2003, Wright was "former deputy chief of mission at U.S. embassies in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and most recently Mongolia" as well as "a former Army colonel," who joined two other diplomats in sending resignation letters to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell because "they found the Bush administration's case for war unconvincing and its approach toward other countries condescending."

You Must. You Must.

Visit ZenComix. I'm really liking his prison theme with the Bushies.

Confessions of a Jersey Goddess

I've mentioned this blog before, but I highly recommend Confessions of a Jersey Goddess, less politically bent (usually), where Nordette Adams writes beautifully and engagingly.

Here, she shares some of her incredible trials. There's a message there about the judge involved and the issue of blogging being treated as some source of great income (HA!). Read carefully.

(Fat) Congress at Work - Meals Paid for by Lobbyists

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would block lawsuits by people who blame fast-food chains for their obesity.
The "cheeseburger bill," as it has been dubbed in Congress, stems from class-action litigation that accused McDonald's of causing obesity in children.

The legislation's backers say matters of personal responsibility don't belong in the courts.
"As one judge put it, if a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of super-sized McDonald's products is unhealthy and could result in weight gain, it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill seeks to thwart class-action obesity lawsuits against food manufacturers and restaurants.
Gee, Mr. Senselessbrenner, you control marijuana and a number of very useful pharmaceuticals EXPRESSLY with the argument being in part that it IS the place of the law to protect people from their own excesses. Ditto the new bankruptcy bill.

Hey, no argument here that people who get fat eating probably have better things to do than go to court.

But this is a self-correcting problem. You wouldn't ever see two juries award for the plaintiff on this and most of them would never be accepted by the courts to start.

So the bill is to protect Pepsico (who does Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and lots of bad snacks), Mickey D's, Burger King, and Wendy's, among others.

Bird Flu BooBoo

Posted by dudlee (gee, that name sounds familiar) in Comments:

The US has purchased 20 million doses of Tamiflu at $100 per dose to "treat" this avian flu ($2 billion).

Roche manufactures Tamiflu, but it was actually developed by a company called Gilead 10 years ago. Gilead gave Roche exclusive rights to market and sell Tamiflu.Donald Rumsfeld was made the chairman of Gilead in 1997 and holds major portions of stock in Gilead.He's gonna make a fortune ... enjoy your Tamiflu boys and girls.

Gee, 20 million doses of flu vaccine goes into a population of nearly 300 million how many times?

And remember what Frist did last year with the shortage of flu vaccine?

He vaccinated even the healthiest members of Congress first to MUCH criticism from the medical and taxpayer groups. Frist answered this criticism by saying, "We're important. You're not."

Our Government

If you asked me before George W. Bush's presidency if our government needed to be dismantled, etc., I would have said no. That's the Grover Norquist deal to kill all taxation and government intrusion while billionaires just treat the rest of us like serfs.

Now, however, I've come to change my mind. But not through a violent overthrow or coup d'etat or any of those "shock and awe" methods.

Instead, we need to dismantle Washington DC brick by brick AFTER a vote by a 2/3rds majority of Americans (and we're not using those Bushie voting machines, tyvm). But also after 1-2 years of every damned American getting off their couch, turning OFF American Idol, and coming together in town halls and auditoriums and parks to discuss what their representative government must be.

I'm not talking a meeting a year. I'm talking a meeting a week. Isn't a well-functioning government that really IS based on what our founders wanted better than this debauchery we have now? Taxes would freefall AT THE SAME TIME we fund very good public education, health care, efficient rebuilding of the infrastructure, etc.

You see, each one of us will be required to dismantle Washington and each one of us will be required to build it back smaller, FAR more efficient, and run on the same kind of budgets we have to keep as individual Americans.

And the job doesn't end there, of course. Then we have to be there watching the budgets, the decisions, and making our elected representatives vote for individual humans. Look at the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence and show me where the word corporation appears.

No, I'm not corporate unfriendly. We need corporations because they are part of business. But we have allowed them to buy and sell our elected officials for far too long.




Yeah, I know, don't all get in line at once. ;)

Saddam Trial - Part III

Now my critique of Saddam himself.

You have to admit, even after nearly two years of confinement and eating American snack food (which I swear kills brain cells), he's a feisty cuss.

But there was also something almost scripted about him yesterday. And it took me three times through the "translation" (and I always question how much to rely on those) before I realized what it was!

Saddam was doing a GREAT imitation of Dr. Seuss! And no, I'm not joking. With only slight rearrangement of what he said, you basically get the classic passage in "Green Eggs and Ham":

Who are you? I did not hire.
Address me please as your sire.
I do not like circus nor ham.
I do not like this, Saddam I am.

Saddam Trial - Part II

There was a lot that bothered me about what I saw and much of it smelled like something the Bushies cooked up as stagecraft.

Oh, there are undoubtedly many, many, many, many reasons to try this man - although I'd argue we should be turned closer to home in examining our own despot-in-chief - for an assortment of crimes. But our fingerprints - and American-made gas-the-Kurds canisters - are fucking all over some of Saddam's worst atrocities, up to and including Bush I getting Iraqis to rise up against Saddam only to hightail and leave those people to pay.

Has our government EVER cared about the Iraqis? FUCK NO. And we SOLD THEM THE GAS to ethnically cleanse the Kurds that we THEN USED AS THE JUSTIFICATION for both Iraqi wars. We BOMBED the hell out of stuff Halliburton and Bechtel (owners of Cheney and Rumsfeld, respectively) could overbill billions to poorly repair while paying slave wages to non-Americans.


A year before Dick Cheney became the VP candidate - he was the head of the selection committee for VP, as you recall; I've always wondered how toughly he interviewed himself - he was standing in the US Senate DEMANDING sanctions against Iraq be ended because Saddam was a defeated man and Halliburton wanted to do (even more than they were doing under cover of darkness) business with them.

So... I ask... do you think Saddam is the only one who belongs on trial?

The Opening to the Greatest Circus in Baghdad... er... Saddam's Trial - Part I

I didn't write about this yesterday because... well, gosh.... um....

Let me add a few notes up front, just to limit the hate mail telling me I'm a Saddam lover (again). Uh, sorry, no. The world would have been better if Saddam - or a Pinochet, Khadafi, an Ariel Sharon of the 60s-70s era, a Kim Jung Il, and oh yes, let's not forget, or George W. Bush - had never gotten closer to power than watching it on TV. These men have caused such death with such lies and evil incarnate (a term I never use lightly because, sadly, I do believe in true evil).

Yet, although I don't really want to give the devil (Saddam) his due, there are actually a couple of areas in which I can say Saddam did have a slight edge up on other evil despots:

---specifically, a mostly secular government (run by a mix, including more than a few Catholics; while our fundamentalists call Iraq a "godless" country, a large number of Iraqis practice Catholicism not to mention many other God-centric religions)
---where women participated (a lot of our fundamentalists aren't too crazy about that one but they won't say a peep because they believe in that old rube: "I can beat my wommin all I want, but you, you cannot beat my wommin").

Spanish Judge Orders 3 US Soldiers Detained

Also from CNN:

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant Wednesday for three U.S. soldiers, charging them with murder in the death of Spanish TV cameraman Jose Couso in Baghdad, Iraq.

Couso, who worked for Spain's Telecinco network, died at the Palestine Hotel on April 8, 2003, as U.S. forces advanced to take control of the city in April 2003.

Investigating magistrate Santiago Pedraz of the National Court will seek the extradition of the soldiers to Spain, a court spokeswoman told CNN.

They are wanted for "murder" and "a crime against the international community," according to the warrant, a copy of which was viewed by CNN partner network CNN+.

The warrant said the soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division and identified them as Sgt. Thomas Gibson, commander of the tank that allegedly fired a projectile at the hotel where Couso was filming; Capt. Philip Wolford, Gibson's superior; and Lt. Colonel Philip D. Camp, the captain's superior, CNN+ reported.

It said the United States provided "no judicial cooperation" in trying to resolve the death of the cameraman.

The judge previously had sought to question the soldiers but received no response from U.S. authorities.
Question remains: why are journalists dying at a much higher per capita rate than soldiers in Iraq?

The Chase Thing

Today, I received my third note asking me why I call this site Cut to the Chase and what the hell the name Chase means anyway besides the obvious definition, as in racing in pursuit.

My blog's named Cut to the Chase because.. uh.. that's my name. It's also my philosophy. I'm (generally) an impatient person (although few who know me well realize this, save for those who live with me).

The term "cut to the chase" was believed to have been coined during early film making, when a scene moved to a climactic moment.

But the name Chase itself has different meanings.

The Chase side of my family is Anglo Saxon and goes back for centuries. The name was actually spelled "Chaece" before the Chase side of the family began to flee England for the colonies (and Chaeces appeared among the first white residents of Virginia and Plymouth). Leaving England wasn't much of a choice - we're an outspoken crew - because many Chaeces were burned as heretics and witches for disagreeing with Church of England and government policies, to come over here to populate what was then Native American land (also an arm of my extended family).

Today, you almost never see the name spelled as Chaece; it has converted into the modernized Chase.

Chase can mean ornamental work carved into metal, a conduit for some resource, a trench for disposal of waste, the empty areas in a casting mold, or a front-positioned gun.

Yet, like many families among the Anglo-Saxons and others, the family name derived from the work done by those clans. Chaeces hunted, pursuited, sought. Up through my father's generation, they were also mainly secretive freemasons or Masons. My first and only Bible for years was a Masonic one with all that really odd imagery. Don't ask me to explain that part; I can't. The secrecy of the Masons, you see. To my knowledge, there are no women Masons although they can belong to an auxiliary group.

At best, I'd like to think that in my journalism elsewhere and my blog here, I am fulfilling my family destiny of pursuit: pursuit of the truth. But I also see myself as that chase as a conduit.

Some days, I do better than others.

You Can't Buy Everything at Wal-Mart

From CNN:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Elizabeth Paige Laurie's name was on a sports arena when a former University of Southern California roommate alleged the Wal-Mart heiress paid her $20,000 to do her homework. Now it isn't even on a USC diploma.

Laurie, the granddaughter of Wal-Mart co-founder Bud Walton, has returned her degree, nearly a year after Elena Martinez told ABC's "20/20" that she had written term papers and done assignments for Laurie for three-and-a-half years.

"Paige Laurie voluntarily has surrendered her degree and returned her diploma to the university. She is not a graduate of USC," the school said in a statement dated September 30 but not widely disseminated until the school newspaper wrote about it late last week. "This concludes the university's review of the allegations concerning Ms. Laurie."


Bush is the Bestest at the Worstest!

Posted by Karlo at SwerveLeft (and he's got a lot of other good stuff, like a Chicago court ruling against spyware, up so go visit and give my regards):

Lest anyone say that the current administration has failed to take the lead, we should keep in mind that the year 2004 currently ranks number one, according to the comptroller general, among the fiscally most reckless years in U.S. history. (Did one of them free spending libruls sneak into the White House when the president was away chasing ponies on his ranch?)

And while we're cutting corners on our funding of Amtrak and the U.S. infrastructure, we should reflect on the fact that by the year 2050, we're projected to pay out $285,000,000,000 in disability payments. (And if my discussions with Gulf War vets is representative, this money won't even begin to compensate the actually losses sustained by vets.)

Of course, our tax money does do some positive things like aid other countries. (With a whopping 25% of it going to "help" countries by supplying or repairing their weapons.)
And our "aid" to other countries, except remarkable exceptions like Israel (which, if you notice, is fairly self-supporting except for its military that we finance) is a single pee in the Pacific Ocean compared to what Americans are trained to believe we spend.

The US as the most generous country in the world? Only if you count what we ship in bullets and chaos 'round the globe.


Is anyone else getting creeped out by Judy Miller staring out of the banner of my blog?

It's scaring me half to death.

The Pitter Patter of Little Virii Around the Globe

The avian - aka bird - flu has now made it into Russia.

As you may have heard, they're having a little problem with public health there.

Trust me, this is no pool but... how long do you think before it strikes here?

And are you ready to be quarantined forcibly, potentially into concentration camp style locations, with the military (posse comitatus waived because it's just a pesky law) holding M-16s on you while you lie ill? Go back and read two of Bush' speeches in the past month because that's exactly what he told you to expect.

Pharmaceutical companies, rather than trying to work on their own here in the US, are instead simply suing the Swiss for the vaccine copyright so they can produce the Switzerland vaccine here at no cost to them but plenty to you.

Remember: if they started today, there would likely be no vaccination in place by the time the pandemic hits. At its current rate of progression, I don't see how we make it more than a year without a major outbreak. (But forcible occupation of the potentially ill? This will take some constitution twisting.)

And there's that little matter of how our PhRMA (not a typo - this is the pharmaceutical manufacturers' lobbying group) companies everyday choose to keep drugs out of the hands of other countries where people desperately need them.

The Bush Years: a fun time was had by very few... a select very few.

Publishers Go After Google

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, while I report this, I have also been under contract at one time or another (and in two cases - currently) with every publishing unit part of this suit short of Penguin which is a division of a major publisher I have written for.

From CNN:

SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- Five major publishers filed suit against Google Inc. in Manhattan's federal court on Wednesday seeking to block plans to scan copyrighted works without permission.

The complaint lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Google names as plaintiffs McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc., Pearson Plc's Pearson Education and Penguin Group (USA) units, Viacom Inc.'s Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons Inc.

The suit seeks a declaration that the Web search leader commits infringement when it scans entire books covered by copyright without permission of the copyright owner.
As a writer, I have to depend to a degree on the copyright for my survival. I'll also tell you that I have NEVER successfully collected any remedy for copyright infringement because most of mine - to my knowledge - occurs outside the US limits (I'm a hit in some countries where my articles and a short book have appeared under someone else's name without my permission).

Realistically, however, the changes in the Millennium Copyright Act, often sets me as principle creator of a work to have far less rights as an individual than the major media companies enjoy under "individual" status.

Then tack onto that fact that the "rights" of a corporation to be protected as individuals under constitutional law is commonly believed to be a deliberate misinterpretation by a judge's clerk that has stood lo these many, many, corporate profitable, politician-contributing years. Thom Hartmann's a good source on this legal point.

Finally, I have mixed feelings about this Google plan. On the one hand, you might have something of a reconstruction of the Great Library of Alexandria - and let us not forget it was destroyed by Christians threatened by knowledge - that would be fairly difficult to sack. On the other? Where do the lines of ownership, domain, and private work get drawn?


Around the age of 20-22, I realized that the real definition of the word ethics meant doing what you believe in your heart to be the correct, best-for-everyone thing to do in a situation, even if it means it hurts you like hell to do it.

Now, my definition had evolved - half of Kansas, please cover your ears at such language as a word like "evolved" - over the years because a lot of crackpots would tell you that's why they blew up the gynecologist, shot their spouse, or stole their neighbor's lottery ticket.

But rationalizations aside, I found myself today being offered the creme d' la creme of the titles on a publisher's "wish list" (meaning: I'd choose first which title(s) I wanted to write). One title stood out as a no-doubt bestseller.

Seriously. If I wrote this book, even without lots of marketing, I'd make some real money.

And I could use some real money.

But it's also the book I cannot write because if I write the book the way it "should" be written by the publishing world standards of today, I will feel like I ruined the lives of a small percent of people who read it.

A book can't create an addiction, of course; a book can only stimulate those with a predeliction to engage in a specific behavior.

And of course, we hear this again and again in lawsuits like "my teenager committed suicide or killed half the school" because he listened to Ozzie Osbourne (sp?) or watched "Train Spotting". That's bullshit. We can't control the press, the media etc. based on what "could" happen.

Yet it's not lawsuits that are my worry. Or people being angry.

I've taken on a few big players over the years. For a short time (2 years?), I appeared on a Christian right wing hit list for an article I wrote that appeared in Los Angeles. I've been threatened with a loaded gun and had that gun shot past me to follow up a story on a developer's efforts to fake engineering samples to claim he could build far more homes in a protected wetlands than he could. And, since the day I began to really speak out, I've had my income taxes for almost a decade computed and recomputed and such all by the feds. Strange, only happened in the Bush years.

So it's not outside interests that make me afraid to write the book.

But I can't feel good with great royalties twice a year feeling like I've contributed to big problems for people rather than finding solutions for them. I wouldn't be the one to make them do it and yet I would feel culpability in the fact I facilitated.

No, don't pat me on the head and tell me how good I am. That's not my point.

Everyday, we make choices. We all do. We have to weigh our decisions carefully.

Good Night, Soldier. It's Long Past Time You Went Home.

A World War II airman has been located after some 60 years.

From KTVU, Fresno:

Rangers in Kings Canyon National Park and a military recovery expert on Wednesday started excavating a glacier-entombed corpse that is believed to be a World War II airman who died in a 1942 plane crash.

Two ice climbers spotted a frozen head, shoulder and arm while climbing the glacier on the side of 13,710-foot Mount Mendel in the Sierra Nevada on Sunday, park spokeswoman Alex Picavet said. The body was 80 percent encased in ice, and still wearing an Army-issued parachute.

A crew of rangers and specialists are camped on the mountain side, in sub-freezing temperatures, and are ready to stay there during the entire excavation process, which is expected to last for days, Picavet said.

"We're not going to go fast," Picavet said. "We want to preserve him as much as possible. He's pretty intact."
Losing anyone is difficult.

Losing someone and never knowing what happened, where they are is so much worse. Been there, done that more than once. I don't advise anyone buy that t-shirt if they can help it.

Good night, pilot. I'm so sorry that your parents never knew, had no body to bury, cemetery to visit - just tears to shed and a hole rent in their lives that they could not fill.

Wanted: Dead or Alive: Tom DeLay

Thank you, whoever gave me my 2004 birthday wish a little late with the news that Tom must submit for booking and fingerprinting in Texas as an indicted felon (indicted felon, not a convicted one, of course). Not yet anyway.

Now, what about what I wished for in 2003 and 2005?

Is it too much to ask for a perp walk? Pretty please?

And to have Tom wanted in a state that spends the per capita lowest on mental health services, too. If he pleads insanity, they'll hang 'em.


I'll Be Back

I just caught the knuckle of my dominant hand pinkie and it's about the size of a rhino ankle and very blue. ::cough::

Unfortunately, I have to finish writing a whole quarter of a Windows encyclopedia this afternoon and I actually use all my fingers typing so... I better turn my attention there.

More on the Supposed Louisiana Hospital Euthanasia Cases

Wulf, posting in comments, seems to take issue with my post yesterday about the Hurricane Katrina related charges of euthanasia in hospitals. Logically, I can appreciate why people would be upset at the concept. Realistically, every single drug that would be used in this case in a controlled substance drug that must be accounted for everywhere from that hospital all the way to the feds. The doctor in charge of anesthesiology, for example, says the hospital can account for enough drugs and drug records (because they were stored on an upper floor) to show this did not occur. Drug counts occur constantly throughout a hospital day.

But here's what I posted in comments:
The doctor who is making the charges is not only less than credible (a three week temp hire doctor is NOT going to be consulted by the chief medical staff on a procedure like euthanasia), he can no longer be found. The nurse has "disappeared" too.

OK, let's say for the sake of argument that these folks are possibly telling the truth and they've disappeared out of fear. This does happen.

But here's the clincher, at the time when
the "euthanasia" supposedly began, the hospital was filled to overflowing with volunteers and family members (confirmed by more than 100 people so far) who were providing care. Not one volunteer or family member interviewed so far has said anything like this happened. Support staff inside the hospital, far removed from medical services, like the engineers and such who were on floors trying to keep machinery running, also categorically deny it; they say every patient was surrounded by people fanning them, applying cool compresses to their heads, etc. to combat the 107-115 degree heat.

If there was more evidence, I'd say yes, investigate. But those bodies aren't going to produce reliable tox screens now. Lots of patient records have been destroyed both on paper and on computer because of water damage.


But if the drug formulary in the hospital can account for what drugs they had before the flood and what they had after, and there is no questionable difference, ball game's over.

To have Louisiana investigate EVERY hospital death during Katrina is an exercise in.... bureaucracy. The costs for this investigation will end up coming out of direct medical care for the living.

Related to My Cheneyist Post Earlier

MSNBC is now reporting that the focus of the Plame leak probe is directly on Cheney's office and the extremely close relationship with and Libby's loyalty to dear, dear Dick.

So Why Are Cars "Stolen" in the US Turning Up as Suicide Bomb Vehicles in Iraq

From the Aussie press:

The FBI's counterterrorism unit has launched a broad investigation of US-based theft rings after discovering some vehicles used in deadly car bombings in Iraq, including attacks that killed US troops and Iraqi civilians, were probably stolen in the United States, according to senior US Government officials.

The FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, Inspector John Lewis, said the investigation did not prove the vehicles were stolen specifically for car bombings in the Middle East, but there was evidence they were smuggled out of the US by organised criminal networks that included terrorists and insurgents.

Cracking the car-theft rings and tracing the cars could help identify insurgent leaders and shut down one of the means used to attack the US-led coalition and the Iraqi Government, the officials said.

The inquiry began after coalition troops raided a Falluja bomb factory last November and found a Texas-registered four-wheel-drive being prepared for a bombing mission...
I had not heard this before. I'm also not sure how well this will play in Iraq where as much as 60-70% of the population believes that many of these bombings are American military actions being blamed on insurgents.

Funny thing is that right now, I cannot find a HINT of this article appearing in the US media.

Why is Bush and Rice Now Backing Away from Al Qaeda as Primary Target in Original War Effort?

That's the $64 trillion question, isn't it?

Why does the story about why we went in Afghanistan and Iraq constantly change?


American Conservative Magazine: What the [Bleep] Is Bush Doing?

I did tell you that I read the magazine occasionally, so don't fall out in a faint with palpitations.

From ACM:

Billions of dollars have disappeared, gone to bribe Iraqis and line contractors’ pockets.

by Philip Giraldi

The United States invaded Iraq with a high-minded mission: destroy dangerous weapons, bring democracy, and trigger a wave of reform across the Middle East. None of these have happened.
When the final page is written on America’s catastrophic imperial venture, one word will dominate the explanation of U.S. failure—corruption. Large-scale and pervasive corruption meant that available resources could not be used to stabilize and secure Iraq in the early days of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), when it was still possible to do so. Continuing corruption meant that the reconstruction of infrastructure never got underway, giving the Iraqi people little incentive to co-operate with the occupation. Ongoing corruption in arms procurement and defense spending means that Baghdad will never control a viable army while the Shi’ite and Kurdish militias will grow stronger and produce a divided Iraq in which constitutional guarantees will be irrelevant.

The American-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority could well prove to be the most corrupt administration in history, almost certainly surpassing the widespread fraud of the much-maligned UN Oil for Food Program. At least $20 billion that belonged to the Iraqi people has been wasted, together with hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Exactly how many billions of additional dollars were squandered, stolen, given away, or simply lost will never be known because the deliberate decision by the CPA not to meter oil exports means that no one will ever know how much revenue was generated during 2003 and 2004.

Some of the corruption grew out of the misguided neoconservative agenda for Iraq, which meant that a serious reconstruction effort came second to doling out the spoils to the war’s most fervent supporters. The CPA brought in scores of bright, young true believers who were nearly universally unqualified. Many were recruited through the Heritage Foundation website, where they had posted their résumés. They were paid six-figure salaries out of Iraqi funds, and most served in 90-day rotations before returning home with their war stories. One such volunteer was Simone Ledeen, daughter of leading neoconservative Michael Ledeen. Unable to communicate in Arabic and with no relevant experience or appropriate educational training, she nevertheless became a senior advisor for northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad. Another was former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer’s older brother Michael who, though utterly unqualified, was named director of private-sector development for all of Iraq.

The 15-month proconsulship of the CPA disbursed nearly $20 billion, two-thirds of it in cash, most of which came from the Development Fund for Iraq that had replaced the UN Oil for Food Program and from frozen and seized Iraqi assets. Most of the money was flown into Iraq on C-130s in huge plastic shrink-wrapped pallets holding 40 “cashpaks,” each cashpak having $1.6 million in $100 bills. Twelve billion dollars moved that way between May 2003 and June 2004, drawn from accounts administered by the New York Federal Reserve Bank. The $100 bills weighed an estimated 363 tons.

Once in Iraq, there was virtually no accountability over how the money was spent. There was also considerable money “off the books,” including as much as $4 billion from illegal oil exports. The CPA and the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Board, which it controlled, made a deliberate decision not to record or “meter” oil exports, an invitation to wholesale fraud and black marketeering.

Thus the country was awash in unaccountable money.

Bird Flu

Have you SEEN any of those maps that show how much of the world has evidence of bird flu exposure to humans?


Did Hell Just Get a Cold Front Come Through?

Judith Miller just admitted her lie. Note singularity of the noun. There ain't just one, boys and goils.

From the wires:

Judy Miller just admitted her deliberately deceptive role in the White House smear campaign against Joe Wilson.

Her New York Times “personal account” explains that her articles usually referred to Libby as a “senior administration official,” since it’s the truth. But when Libby gave her information about Wilson, the truth wouldn’t cut it.

So at Libby’s request, she agreed to deliberately deceive her readers by describing him as a “former Hill staffer.” The scheme was absurdly misleading, as Arianna explained. It helped Libby trash Wilson without implicating the White House. In Miller’s words, “Mr. Libby did not want the White House to be seen as attacking Mr. Wilson.”

This misleading sourcing violates the New York Times official guidelines, a key fact the Times article ignored. The newspaper requires reporters explain anonymous sourcing arrangements without being “coy,” and “especially when we can shed light on the source’s reasons” (emphasis added). Can you imagine how that might read?

“A former Hill staffer, who insisted on anonymity because he did not want attacks to be heard from the White House, where he currently works, said that Ambassador Wilson has credibility issues.”

Of course, Miller’s misleading sourcing was not just an office violation. It leveraged the credibility of the New York Times to advance the White House’s smear campaign to anonymously trash Joe Wilson for exposing the Bush Administration’s prewar lies.

For Vermont Visitors

October 28th marks a special day for the Second Vermont Republic, a movement gaining in momentum and consideration, that is investigating whether it is time for Vermont to go it alone, to return to a time when Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys fought off forceable attempts to make us join what was passing for America at the time.

When I first heard the idea, I dismissed it as a crackpot idea. But the more I talk with neighbors, look at what we get from Washington vs. what we lose to it, how we're treated, the direction in which America is headed, etc.... I listen.

No one's proposing the leap tomorrow. Instead, they're trying to find ways to make it work if enough Vermonters choose to make a lot of map printers happy by reducing the country by a state.

Listen. Tell them what you would want as part of the move. Make your own decisions. I'll be glad to post links to it if anyone is interested.

They Must Have Sent the Bushie Election Crews

Iraq is turning up with more votes than eligible voters in several voting regions.

And Bush through Rice keeps telling us the constitution passed even though the official count is still not prepared.

Remember the old days when they did the outrageous thing of actually counting the votes before deciding the election results? I miss those days.

Chicago White Sox

I really wish I could muster the requisite enthusiasm but I... uh.. well...

Congratulations, White Sox fans. As a (former - they no longer need me) Red Sox fan (and only out of underdog sympathy), I know what it's like to finally have the impossible happen.

But after watching 5 minutes of Nascar the other night, I'm really far more worried about what goes on in red states. You can't be fascinated with cars racing around a track 581 times (and mind you, I went to high school next to Lime Rock Racetrack where my brother worked the pits back when Paul Newman raced and you'd get all these celebrities) and not lose brain cells.

Please, red state enthusiasts: they're fucking with your minds. Stand up and don't let them do it anymore. The brain cells you save will be your own.

Border Minutemen: If You Speak Out Against Us, You're Terrorists!

From my neck of the woods, the Burlington Free Press. Yes, this story talks about MY border, with Canada... that other little border we have. We've never had this kind of crap up here.

Fifty miles south of the border, not far from me, people have been stopped on a regular basis to prove they're American citizens. Did you get a paper on that when you were born? I did not. I have a birth certificate but I don't fucking well carry it around in my car.

Think their first cousins married? You've seen what inbreeding has done to the British royal family.

Louisiana's Investigation into Sick Patient "Euthanasia"

I really question stories about widespread euthanasia in hospitals during Hurricane Katrina. I've worked in hospitals for more than five years and any doctor's who's spending an emergency IN that hospital isn't doing anything but trying to keep people stable.

This investigation is going to open more pain, put more pressures on medical staffs and families already pushed beyond what most of us could withstand, and amount to money and effort better spent on the living. After all, Louisiana's last charity hospital just closed. LAST.

When Jesus' General is Away, the Subs Will Play

Desi posting at Jesus' General shares this:

Exclusive first look at the letter sent moments ago from Rep. Conyer's office to Donald Rumsfeld.

"Who's That Knockin at the Door? Who's that Ringin' the Bell?"

Dick Cheney?

Why don't you open the door and let them in. :) They're from the government and we're holding out the slim, negligible possibility that they're there to help us by kicking your ass to the best federal facility your budget has paid for.

GOP-Led Washington Dismantling Public University Education

Posted by Rob at AmericaBlog:

How much damage can Republicans do in five years dismantling the very foundations of what makes our country strong? More than you can imagine. From the New York Times we learn that, with the neglect since Republicans took control of two branches of government, public university education has been struggling:
    Taxpayer support for public universities, measured per student, has plunged more precipitously since 2001 than at any time in two decades, and several university presidents are calling the decline a de facto privatization of the institutions that played a crucial role in the creation of the American middle class.
    At an academic forum last month, John D. Wiley, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that during the years after World War II, America built the world's greatest system of public higher education.

    "We're now in the process of dismantling all that," Dr. Wiley said.
Creates a wider, wider divide between the haves and have-nots, sorta like the new bankruptcy law, the new Medicare plan, "No Child Left Behind" Act, et al.

Firefighter's Wife Details Nightmare of FEMA Ineptitude in NOLA

From the Columbia Tribune (Oct 4th):

When former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown started pointing the fingers of blame for mishandling the Hurricane Katrina response, he surely was right about one thing.

FEMA was not alone in bungling its portion of relief efforts.

That being said, there are plenty of firefighters across the country clamoring for FEMA to point the finger directly at itself. Part of the emergency agency’s response to the disaster included calling up 1,000 professional firefighters from all over the nation to serve as community service representatives going from town to town in devastated areas representing FEMA. Firefighters were quick to respond to such a request. It’s what they do. It’s why they got into the business. They’re not heroes, and most of them don’t like that word. They’re paid to do a job that on most days involves helping people.

The problem is, many of the firefighters who were sent to the Gulf Coast - this is a program separate from the FEMA search-and-rescue teams such as Missouri Task Force 1 - never got an opportunity to do the one thing they wanted to do: a real job.

So say many of the firefighters who wanted FEMA to put them to work and instead feel like they wasted taxpayers’ money. One of them, a Missouri firefighter who used to ply his trade in Boone County, kept his wife informed of his exploits, and she kept a diary of his so-called work. It ought to be required reading for every federal official, bureaucrat or politician who becomes involved in the business of studying what went wrong with Hurricane Katrina. Mostly, it’s a diary showing the frustration of a citizen whose government got in the way of his job.
Nods to Buzzflash for the link.

Young Chickenhawks: Mouths Don't Match Their Actions

With a point from Buzzflash, this from CBS News

The cheeky website buzzflash.com recently posted a petition calling for Jenna and Barbara Bush to serve in Iraq. But the famously private Bush twins have never disclosed their views on the war; they may even be opposed. So calling for them to serve might not be fair. But there are young and prominent Bush-backers who deserve to be targets of such a petition: The assorted leaders of the College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) are cheerleaders for a war they are unwilling to fight.

Both YAF and College Republicans have staged prowar demonstrations on college campuses across the country. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the College Republican National Committee released a statement proclaiming, "As our troops prepare for battle, the College Republican National Committee and its 100,000 members are prepared to show the world that the majority of students support the efforts of the president and our troops to liberate the people of Iraq and to rid the world of this murderous dictator and his weapons of mass destruction."

The CRNC's website praises George W. Bush for "defending the peace by taking the fight to the terrorists." The even more zealous YAFers have made it clear that they not only support the war but are openly hostile to those who oppose it. Their rowdy prowar rallies have attracted plenty of press. In March 2003, CBS News reported on a YAF event held in Minnesota at which the chapter's executive director Chris Hill had strong words for antiwar activists: "The top of the antiwar movement is led by communists, and I will call them that," he said. "Unlike these communists, we have truth on our side.... We say to those who oppose this war, Go to France."

Hill's YAF chapter has also publicly denigrated antiwar demonstrators as "cowards." All of this raises the question: If opponents of the war should go to France, shouldn't Hill — and other members of YAF and College Republicans — go to Iraq? In response to a query by The Nation about whether any leaders have volunteered to fight the war in Iraq, Shauna Moser, the chairman of Penn State YAF, said only that information on YAF officials could be found with a simple "search in a search engine."

Republicans Don't Like Bush Either

From the Chicago Trib:

Pessimism over the war in Iraq and skepticism about the economy at home have cost President Bush support among the most reliable segments of Illinois Republicans, a Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows, and now nearly 6 out of 10 voters statewide disapprove of his job performance.

The government's tepid response to Hurricane Katrina and a summer-long spike in gasoline prices also have helped drive Bush's job-approval rating down to 33 percent in the state, the lowest point among Illinois surveys involving his administration. A similar poll in May showed Bush's approval rating at 41 percent.

Support for Bush has dropped 14 points in the last year among Republicans, and GOP officials fear that could complicate their efforts in next year's races for Congress and governor. For the first time in his presidency, half the voters in Chicago's Republican-rich collar counties disapprove of Bush's job performance, a departure from last fall when he carried all five suburban counties.

Fire the Bum!

From Greg Mitchell (good writer and analyst):

It’s not enough that Judith Miller, we learned Saturday, is taking some time off and “hopes” to return to the New York Times newsroom.

As the newspaper’s devastating account of her Plame games -- and her own first-person sidebar -- make clear, she should be promptly dismissed for crimes against journalism, and her own newspaper. And Bill Keller, executive editor, who let her get away with it, owes readers, at the minimum, an apology instead of merely hailing his paper’s long-delayed analysis and saying that readers can make of it what they will.

Let’s put aside for the moment Miller's exhibiting the same selective memory favored by her former friends and sources in the White House, in claiming that for the life of her she cannot recall how the name of “Valerie Flame” got into the reporter’s notebook she took to her interview with Libby; how she learned about the CIA operative from other sources (whom she can’t name or even recall when it happened).

Bad enough, but let’s stick to the journalism issues. Saturday's Times article, without calling for Miller’s dismissal, or Keller’s apology, made the case for both actions in this pithy, frank, and brutal assessment: "The Times incurred millions of dollars in legal fees in Ms. Miller's case. It limited its own ability to cover aspects of one of the biggest scandals of the day. Even as the paper asked for the public's support, it was unable to answer its questions." It followed that paragraph with Keller's view: "It's too early to judge." Like Keller says, make of it what you will.

My view: Miller did far more damage to her newspaper than did Jayson Blair, and that’s not even counting her WMD reporting, which hurt and embarrassed the paper in other ways. The Times should let Miller, like Blair, go off to write a book, with no return ticket. We all know how well that worked out for Blair.

Miller should be fired if for nothing more than this: After her paper promised a full accounting, and her full cooperation, in its probe, it reported Saturday, “Miller generally would not discuss her interactions with editors, elaborate on the written account of her grand jury testimony or allow reporters to review her notes.”


Rove Cancelling Engagements, While Undergoing Pressure

Good old New England stoning isn't good enough for him, but I digress.


Rove, the mastermind of Bush's political career, who is considered the leading architect of White House political and policy plans, has emerged as a central figure in the investigation. In addition to his four trips to the grand jury, he spoke with investigators several times early in the probe.

His story has changed from the earliest days, when he told reporters he had nothing to do with the leak of Plame's name. Since then, Rove has testified that he discussed Plame in passing with two reporters, including Robert D. Novak, whose July 14, 2003, syndicated column first publicly identified Plame as a CIA operative married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

US Ad Chief: US Government Does Nothing to Combat Anti-Americanism and it Costs Us All

From the Times-Dispatch:

WILLIAMSBURG -- A surge of hostility toward Americans in other countries will hurt U.S. businesses unless they act to reverse the trend, an advertising executive told Virginia business and government leaders yesterday.

"Sooner or later, anti-Americanism is bad for business," said Keith Reinhard, chairman of the New York advertising firm DDB Worldwide. Reinhard also is the founder and president of Business for Diplomatic Action, which is organizing U.S. companies in a private-sector initiative to improve America's image in the world.
Meanwhile, the push to de-fund public schools and take real science out of the curriculum is turning out college grads who don't know the basics of science or virtually anything else. Nice work, Bushies!

Josh Marshall Talks Judy Judy Judy too

From Talking Points Memo:

I could spin out numerous hypotheticals. And this is probably already more information than most folks want. But in this case it certainly seems as though the tacit bargain between Miller and Libby was that Libby would provide Miller with information in exchange for her assistance in deceiving her readers. And that violates the rule or principle that amounts to the Occam's Razor of journalistic ethics -- fundamental honesty with your readers.

Wait! California's in Financial Trouble and...

Maria Shriver, Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, lets tax payers pay a half million a year just for her assistants?

Gee, if Ah-nold's the reform candidate, I'd hate to see the normal one.

Hidden Scandal in Judith Miller Case and Reporting on WMD

Great additional piece in Ed and Publisher:

There is one enormous journalism scandal hidden in Judith Miller's Oct. 16th first person article about the (perhaps lesser) CIA leak scandal. And that is Ms. Miller's revelation that she was granted a DoD security clearance while embedded with the WMD search team in Iraq in 2003.This is as close as one can get to government licensing of journalists and the New York Times (if it knew) should never have allowed her to become so compromised. It is all the more puzzling that a reporter who as a matter of principle would sacrifice 85 days of her freedom to protect a source would so willingly agree to be officially muzzled and thereby deny potentially valuable information to the readers whose right to be informed she claims to value so highly.
Yes, boys and girls, this is a HUGE issue.

Judith Miller - and if the Times knew about it, they too - compromised everything that journalism is supposed to be to go on her little "I see WMD everywhere" mission to support the Bushies. SPJ should take back its goddamn journalism award they just handed her and shove it up her ass.

Ed & Pub: Dissecting The Times' Article on the Judith Miller/Plamegate Case

My assumption from this is the Times' grade is not too good - definitively not Ivy League scoring unless you're a legacy candidate like Dubya.

Financial Times: White House Prepares for Indictments

Story here.

Can't we indict Bush, too, for gross neglect, treason, and a multitude of other things?

I mean, the outing of Valerie Plame is awful. But we're not exactly prosecuting the WORST of the Bushie crimes now, are we?

Whom Am I to Quibble with The New Republic?

Well.... within reason; they have some imperfections.

But they're really hawking a piece by Andrew ("Oh, my glorious butt cheeks! Let me massage them on camera on national TV as I have already done before!") Sullivan on the "death" of the gay culture.

Were it not written by a man who enjoys self-hatred so much, I'd feel better about the piece.

Before people jump me, I do not believe all gays are self-hating. Nor do I think all women, Jews, and other groups traditionally associated with the label of "self hating" practice this dogma. Of course, it's easy to peg a few - no one hates women more than Lynne Cheney (read her body of work, from interviews, to lesbian fiction to her work with "lower" education) and no one hated Jews and homosexuals more than the Jewish and gay Roy ("I love the smell of electrocuted Rosenbergs in the morning") Cohn who enabled Joe McCarthy.

AND - for the show stopper, I don't think Andrew just self hates because he's a gay man in a conservative Republican nightmare. I think we see - not directly, but around the other side - an incredible influence of self-hating Christian moralists, self-hating right nutwing idealogues, and so on.

Actually, no, that's not the showstopper. This is: Bush HATES himself. Oh, not for the reasons we do. But he knows, he knows he shouldn't be commanding the free world. That's why he tells us all the time he should. Churchill and Roosevelt never had to prove their manhood, their stripes like this.

Before I Get into the Nasty Stuff

I highly recommend the 70s flick Amazon Women of the Moon.

I'm sure it's even more fun stoned but it was pretty good even with just a bad sinus headache. Think Kentucky Fried Movie and Flesh Gordon but more the former than the latter.

My nod to "Andrew J Borden" who posts here with whom I used to go see some outrageous films. Not all the films were intended as camp either. Jaws III, for example and just about every 70s scifi, superhero, or similar genre.

A Point of Clarification

By smart pig referenced in the previous post, I am definitively NOT speaking about Karl Rove, Noni Scalia, Clarence Thomas, or Dick Cheney.

Thank you.

What we loosely call "management" here

Oh Great...

I finally get to post and the lights are flickering.

Sometimes, I feel like "Green Acres" except that I am definitely NOT the wealthy NY lawyer Oliver whatever his name was. Only thing missing is Arnold the smart pig.

I could use a smart pig.