Some Lighter Holiday Weekend Fare - But Not Always

If anyone likes alternative music with a flare for some comedic mixes, I fell in love last winter (platonically) with Gogol Bordello. It's genre? Uh... Gypsy Punk from the Lower East Side of NY. Gets played a lot by some of my favorite programmers on WGDR (Tonio and Nancy for their music choices, to name but a few), Community Radio for Central Vermont, broadcast out of Goddard College. Was pleased to have one of the programmers, Autumn, join us with musician Cody Michaels for Thanksgiving.

But I fell in love with a song I never recall hearing before, but my partner insists I have. "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen; I fell for the Jeff Buckley version played as part of a movie yesterday on TV. [And no, it was not "Titanic" - I only watched that once and then, just the end, to watch Leonardo DiCaprio turn into an ice cube (yeah, I'm not a "chic flick type, as you may have guessed).]

I've got to find some Leonard Cohen CDs around. I understand he wrote perhaps two dozen different verses for "Hallelujah" along with new ones he improvised all the time for live performances depending on what goes on in his life. The song is so moving even before you read any version of the lyrics that I'm fascinated with what other lyrics for "Hallelujah" have floated around.

Wow... The FCC Will Be Peeing Its Pants

Between the "fucker" that got let out last week on Saturday Night Live and the rampant use of uh... not nice words I just heard on the radio (I won't list them all, but trust me when I say that "motherfucker" was the most polite), I'm thinking Safe Harbor doesn't apply on weekends?

And why should it?

I also think it's the height of irony that network TV can show what it does these days, but "shit" is a word about which we go nuts while the media eats itself over Janet Jackson's boob.

But what the fuck do I know? Anything Bush says is more vile, more graphic, more murderous than anything I've heard in hiphop (not that I'm a regular listener but there's an amazing amount of intelligent political and social commentary in hiphop/rap).

Say Hello to...

618 Rants and Raves

(OK, I did not count every single one; have faith, people)

Gee, Will Russia's Putin Give George Bush A Kickback?

I mean, all of the Bush Administration's saber rattling and just-like-Iraq talk toward Iran has to factor into the HUGE, HUGE amounts of weaponry Iran is buying from Russia.

Check out these military bound-for-Iran TOR-M1s just starting to ship.

I wonder what Bush's corporation friends are supplying. I mean, the military industrial complex didn't even have this much reason to thank Ronald Raygun.. Reagan - not with what Bush and the Bush Administration's terribly violent and counterproductive War on Terror has done for the very group Eisenhower warned us about before I was born.


Now I Get It: The Bush-Rumsfeld War On Terror Game Plan is Straight From Ishtar!

My partner came home and promptly tuned in some really awful TV programming after a few days with the set off. We're talking things with Vince Vaughn (wow), and Vince sadly was the highlight.

Then, from out of nowhere, he finds "Ishtar". For the youngest of readers, "Ishtar" was often joked about as a really terrible movie, starring Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty. In it, there is this nutty plan in the Middle East where the U.S. is doing something bad and some "Muslim" types are doing something bad against the U.S. and...

Well, if you ever get the chance to see this, you will understand that whoever wrote the plot for the "overthrow" clearly served as the true architect for Bush and Rumsfeld with the War on Terror, the War on Afghanistan, and the War on Iraq. You know it for certain by the time Beatty informs Hoffman there is NEVER any wind in the dessert and then, of course.... well.

Just watch the fucked up plot in the vaguely amusing movie because I swear, somebody at the White House used "Ishtar" for their game plan.

Of Gratitude And Turkeys

Sorry I didn't post since late Wednesday. At the last moment, I decided to have some new friends over for dinner and a cold country walk and conversation and it took me this long to get back to the PC.

However, I'm grateful for each and every one of you who care enough to think about the direction we as a people and our country - and world - must travel to become something far better than we and it is/are today.

Special congratulations to everyone who stayed out of a damned store yesterday and today. ;)


Greg Mitchell On Accountability And Those Like Richard Cohen Who Insisted War With Iraq Was Right

Regular readers know that I highly respect Editor & Publisher magazine in general and editor Greg Mitchell of the magazine specifically. Greg's series on some of the soldiers who have died has been very good.

But this isn't a "fan" post. Greg earned my (admittedly not always easy to obtain) respect because he has also frequently tackled the issue of the working press' responsibility in times of war, and the fairness and accuracy in reporting of the Bush Administration at a time when the press seemed to take a "whatever the White House says is gold to us" approach.

Before the press corps awoke from its Bush-and-Rumsfeld-induced slumber to finally notice the emperor from Crawford had no clothes and the Iraqi dictator had no WMD, Greg was one of the few consistent voices in demanding that American citizens required more of their journalists than simply repeating whatever 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the Pentagon allowed them to write.

It's with this (mea culpa) long lead-in that I recommend Greg Mitchell's latest column on Richard Cohen, the Washington Post columnist who - like many - insisted the Iraq War was appropriate and now says it's not (while also suggesting readers not hold him responsible for his own opinion). Here's a snip:

For Richard Cohen, the longtime Washington Post columnist sometimes accused of being a "liberal," being fatally wrong on the Iraq war means never having to say you're sorry.

Today he took the occasion of President Bush's visit to Vietnam to offer his thoughts on the parallels between America's two most disastrous foreign adventures. In doing so, he admits -- as John Kerry might have put it -- that he was for them before he was against them. But here's the twist: He argues that in each case he was right to push for war (even if they turned out badly) -- so don't look for any apology.

This from the man who, on Feb. 6, 2003, after Secretary of State Colin Powell's deeply-flawed testimony in New York, famously wrote: "The evidence he presented to the United Nations -- some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail -- had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise."

Now consider his statement from today's column on why he backed the Iraq invasion: "In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic." Ponder that statement as you consider the tens of thousands of lives lost, on all sides, since then.

But the new column is one appalling rationalization after another.Cohen reveals that he turned against Vietnam only after he joined the military and realized he didn't particularly want to die in an "unwinnable" war. Jumping ahead, it was easier for him to support the Iraq invasion because those doing the fighting would be "after all, volunteers. This mattered to me." In other words: It was okay if they died for a mistake -- in a "therapeutic" cause -- because they had signed up for the military, in peacetime.

If Bush Can't Get The Parallels Between Vietnam War and Iraq, American People Do

While Keith Olbermann quite aptly pointed out the (many, constant, conflicting) flaws in Mr. Bush's so-called logic when speaking in Vietnam this week, Americans in a poll "get" the similarities between that war (the one Bush and Cheney ran from) and that being waged in Iraq.

Details at Editor & Publisher. (hi, Greg Mitchell!)

Bush's War On America's Working Class

Unemployment claims are rising real fast.

The Bush Economy is killing anyone who isn't becoming a trillionaire.

Not A Headline You See Everyday: "Woman, 92, Dies In Shootout With Police"

No, really.

Note That This Man Is An American Citizen

From the wires:

An Ethiopian-born man arrested while carrying nearly $79,000 (€61,500) in cash and a computer with information about nuclear materials and cyanide is a flight risk and will not be released on bail, a judge ruled Monday.

District Judge Paul Borman overturned a magistrate's decision ruling Sisayehiticha Dinssa, an unemployed U.S. citizen, could be released on a $20,000 (€15,600) bond. Dinssa was arrested Nov. 14 after a dog caught the scent of narcotics on cash he was carrying, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

At a detention hearing Monday, Magistrate Judge Steven Whalen had ruled Dinssa could be released. He also ordered Whalen to surrender his passport, abide by a curfew and undergo mental health counseling while living with his brother, Adudna Dinssa, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

More Delusions Of Safety: Better Have a Passport Or Else

The Bush Administration still has no plans for checking the cargo going into the belly of our airplanes where real nastiness could be placed but they will make you show a passport when returning from Canada or Mexico. Imbeciles.

Nearly all air travelers entering the U.S. will be required to show passports beginning Jan. 23, including returning Americans and people from Canada and other nations in the Western Hemisphere.

Until now, the department had not set a specific date for instituting the passport requirement for air travelers, though the start had been expected to be around the beginning of the year.

Setting the date on Jan. 23 pushes the start past the holiday season.

The requirement marks a change for Americans, Canadians, Bermudans and some Mexicans.
Currently, U.S. citizens returning from other countries in the hemisphere are not required to present passports but must show other proof of citizenship such as driver's licenses or birth certificates.

Visitors from most countries in the hemisphere are required to show passports. However, people from Canada, Bermuda — and those from Mexico who enter the U.S. frequently and have special border-crossing cards — have been allowed to use other forms of identification, including driver's licenses.
The only thing that would make me and millions of Americans actually feel safer was if we shitcanned Department of Homeland (In)Security chief Michael Chertoff AND President Bush and the rest of this corrupt, greedy administration.

Need A Laugh?

I (always) recommend Zen Comix.

Are American Soldiers Taunting Iraqi Children Seeking Drinking Water?

A friend of mine just IMed me the link to this YouTube video which purports to be of U.S. soldiers taunting Iraqi children with water that they then refuse to give to the kids.

Your take?

Is There a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy?

Of course there is. It's right here.

Michael Richards' Hecklers Want To Collect Money For "Upset"

OK, this is getting a little over the top. I understand people being upset over Michael Richards' awful racist meltdown at LA's Laugh Factory last Friday. No question there.

But now the two fellows who were "ejected" for heckling Richards which, at least according to news reports, was what touched off the real meltdown by the comedian on-stage, have hired Gloria Allred (who never misses a chance to mouth off on camera anywhere) to try to get them what they deem should be a substantial cash settlement.

Was what Richards said reprehensible? Sure.

But they expressed themselves that night by interrupting Richards' un-funny schtick. If Richards should have to pay them, wouldn't they first have to pay Richards and/or the other audience members whose "enjoyment" of the act was curtailed by the heckle that touched off the vitriolic nastiness by Richards?

I mean, this is a little ridiculous. Few of us get through life - hell, sometimes hardly through a month - when someone, somewhere doesn't say something very unpleasant to us. For example, I've never felt obligated to sue the people who send me very nasty email because they don't like my posts on my blog.

When these two men were interviewed on TV once the potential suit was announced, they hardly made a convincing case for themselves. Rather, they just came off as their lawsuit (not to mention, their choice of attorney) would seem: like opportunists.

Former DoJ Officials, Including Janet Reno, Protest Bush's Plan To Try Terrorist Suspect Outside U.S. Courts

Good for Reno and the others. I think they are correct; the way the Bush Administration is handling these terror detainees/suspects does indeed set a "dangerous precedent."

New Hampshire Plays Yin To Vermont's Yang

Yeah, well, those of us in the best maple syrup state are just very pleased that our red neighbors to the east are getting a tad more purple.

In the meantime, let me welcome Blue Hampshire.

Has a nice ring to it, eh?

Israel and Syria

Ha'aretz reports that more than 50% of Israelis in a poll support Israel renewing talks with Syria.

Also, Avi Primor writes that Israel has much to gain with making peace with Syria.

Say Hello to...

another Vermonter with a blog, Caleb Daniloff, posting at What I Saw Today.

When The U.S. Has No Plan Of Its Own, It Just Pisses On Iraq As Well as Syria And Iran

Ha'aretz (Israeli newspaper) reports on how the U.S. is pissing cold urine all over the summit Iran and Syria have invited Iraq to participate in to try to reduce the violence in the region.

But when have you noticed the Bushies have any plan of their own to reduce the violence?


Israeli Settlers On Privately Owned Palestinian Land

Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly blog takes on a topic of the illegal use of Palestinian land by Israeli settlements I wanted to discuss; I'll let Kevin - who thankfully has avoided the subject of women and blogging of late - tell you:

SETTLEMENTS....Peace Now, an Israeli advocacy group, has released a study saying that 39% of the land used by Israeli settlements in the West Bank is actually private Palestinian property. The report, which is based on data from Israel's Civil Administration, is highly detailed and includes satellite maps (here) showing the provenance of the land in dozens of settlements. On the right, for example, is a satellite map of Ariel, with private Palestinian land shaded in red and "survey land" shaded in yellow. According to the report, 35% of Ariel is private Palestinian property.

Which just goes to show how much I know. I never realized there was even a veneer of legality to the Israeli settlements, but it turns out that Israel has long claimed that the settlements are sited on land that was either purchased legally or was of uncertain ownership. The Peace Now report, however, seems to show pretty conclusively that that's not the case. It says:

The “privately owned land” to which this report refers is:
  1. Land that was registered and recognized as private property before 1968, at a time when the process of land registration was still open and available to Palestinians, or
  2. Cultivated land which is recognized by Israel as private land according to the Ottoman law.
An Israeli government spokesperson said they would comment on the report after they've had a chance to read it. But she added, "even if it turns out only 5 percent is private land, that is something we must take note of." Stay tuned.
And this does not even hint at another truth (besides the fact that this report just scratches the top layer of illegal seizure of Palestinian owned land by Israel, especially under Ariel Sharon and his successor): far more Palestinian land was seized for that idiot security wall Israel erected that keeps Palestinians from tending their crops, going to work, getting urgent medical care, etc.

Oh Boo Frickin Hoo That Poppy Bush Wells Up With Tears That People Don't Like His Son

Brian Williams on NBC News just now all but welled up with tears of his own as he told the American public that George H.W. Bush (Bush I) got very emotional when he appeared before a crowd in the Persian Gulf yesterday and heard that people thought Bush II was a bastard.

Well, boo frickin' hoo.

And Bush I is as much of a liar as his son when he replied that Dubya is "an honest man who works for peace." Even Poppy Bush in his most deluded, medicated moment can't believe either the honesty or the peacemaking claim.

And Bush I has some fucking nerve to tell people directly affected by his son's disastrous attempts to try to play global ruler with the lives of tens of thousands of people that they "have some nerve" to tell him, who has just told them how much his family means to him, that his son is imperfect.

Bush and Barbara ("Oh, don't bother my beautiful mind over the idea of all those young men coming back in body bags from Iraq") created this fucking monster they call, "Sonny Boy."

Yet, unfortunately for us all, we ALL have to deal with the Frankenstein they created. Too bad this clan couldn't just be banished from the planet.

U.N. Reports Yet Higher Civilian Deaths in Bloody Baghdad And Rest Of Iraq

While Mr. Bush merely acts annoyed, as if the Iraqi people are deliberately trying to thwart his idea of a good time (not to mention how he'd like to paint himself as a benevolent tyranter..nude emperor...uh... big honcho), the people of Iraq die in record numbers in our continued occupation - and cakewalk! - of three years, eight months, and five days.

Welcome to the deadliest month ever in Iraq:

The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.

The U.N. tally was more than three times higher than the total The Associated Press had tabulated for the month, and far more than the 2,866 U.S. service members who have died during all of the war.

The report on civilian casualties, handed out at a U.N. news conference in Baghdad, said the influence of militias was growing, and torture continued to be rampant, despite the government's vow to address human rights abuses.

"Hundreds of bodies continued to appear in different areas of Baghdad handcuffed, blindfolded and bearing signs of torture and execution-style killing," the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq report said. "Many witnesses reported that perpetrators wear militia attire and even police or army uniforms."

The report painted a grim picture across the board, from attacks on journalists, judges and lawyers and the worsening situation of women to displacement, violence against religious minorities and the targeting of schools.

Based on figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry, the country's hospitals and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, the report said October's figure was higher than July's previously unprecedented civilian death toll of 3,590.

"I think the type of violence is different in the past few months," Gianni Magazzeni, the UNAMI chief in Baghdad, told the news conference. "There was a great increase in sectarian violence in activities by terrorists and insurgents, but also by militias and criminal gangs."
Over 100 people died just today (recent average of at least 120 dead per day).

And remember, this reflects ONLY those deaths officially counted. We have no idea how many more die on an hourly basis which are never counted for the record books.

More and more women and children, as well as journalists, lawyers, and doctors, not to mention educators are being targeted than ever before.

The Blogger Vs. Journalist Debate

The debate over whether a blogger can be considered a journalist - and sometimes, a question of whether the reverse can be possible as well - is becoming a time-honored as PC vs. Mac, Dem vs. GOP.

As a card-carrying journalist who blogs - but does not use her blog as a journalistic publication but as more frequently a comment on the media that does "report", I was particularly interested in this debate by "Vermonter" at What's The Point (another intelligent Vermont blog). Jon Odum, as some of you know, is the blogger behind Green Mountain Daily, an extension (if you will) of Daily Kos.

A snip here but go see the whole thing yourself:

Darren Allen vs. John Odum?

This argument is sooo 2005.

Darren Allen is a paid political reporter for an award-winning paper. John Odum is a private citizen who uses a particular software platform to do personal publishing.

Journalist vs. blogger? Or just human being vs. human being.

I mean, sure, it must be a little frustrating for hard-working professionals to see uncredentialed citizens slowly cutting into their audience and somewhat rarefied status. I get that, but, c’mon, it’s time to move on.

Just last night on Charlie Rose, before discussing how he enjoys the process of blogging, Brian Williams couldn’t help making what seems to be the contractual obligation to slam blogging (and YouTube) as somehow cutting into some cherished part of a disappearing American water cooler culture. His bosses made him do it, he said.

Had a similar feel to Darren Allen’s recent backhanded article on local blogging. One choice quote: "Yes, it’s a small audience, but it’s an influential one. As anyone who’s part of it will tell you."

Essentially, according to Allen, blogs are pretty much irrelevant, but his is the most popular one.
Now, I don’t know Darren Allen or Brian Williams. They may be very nice guys. But, I’m afraid that Messrs. Allen and Williams need to accept that the cat is now yowling way outside of the bag.

The media landscape has changed. And likely for the better.

Maureen Dowd: "Lost In The Desert" Or "Goldilocks Meets Guernica"

Sorry, I couldn't resist one line of Dowd's latest column which you can read here, although I give you an appetizer down there:

Iraq now evokes that old Jimmy Durante song that goes, “Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go and still have the feeling that you wanted to stay?”

It’s hard to remember when America has been so stuck. We can’t win and we can’t leave.

The good news is that the election finished what Katrina started. It dismantled the president’s fake reality about Iraq, causing opinions to come gushing forth from all quarters about where to go from here.

The bad news is that no one, and I mean no one, really knows where to go from here. The White House and the Pentagon are ready to shift to Plan B. But Plan B is their empty term for miraculous salvation.

(Dick Cheney and his wormy aides, of course, are still babbling about total victory and completing the mission by raising the stakes and knocking off the mullahs in Tehran. His tombstone will probably say, “Here lies Dick Cheney, still winning.”)

Even Henry Kissinger has defected from the Plan A gang. Once he thought the war could work, but now he thinks military victory is out of the question. When he turns against a war, you know the war’s in trouble. He also believes leaving quickly would risk a civil war so big it could destabilize the Middle East.

Kofi Annan, who thought the war was crazy, now says that the United States is “trapped in Iraq” and can’t leave until the Iraqis can create a “secure environment” — even though the Iraqis evince not the slightest interest in a secure environment. (The death squads even assassinated a popular comedian this week.)

The retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, who thought Mr. Bush’s crusade to depose Saddam was foolish and did not want to send in any troops, now thinks we may have to send in more troops so we can eventually get out.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, whose soldiers pulled Saddam out of his spider hole and who is returning to Iraq to take charge of the day-to-day fight, has given up talking about a Jeffersonian democracy and now wishes only for a government in Iraq that’s viewed as legitimate. He has gone from “can do” to “don’t know.” He talked to The Times’s Thom Shanker about his curtailed goals of reducing sectarian violence and restoring civil authority, acknowledging: “Will we attain those? I don’t know.”

At a Senate hearing last week, Gen. John Abizaid sounded like Goldilocks meets Guernica, asserting two propositions about the war that are logically at war with each other. He said we can’t have fewer troops because the Iraqis need us, but we can’t have more because we don’t want the Iraqis to become dependent on us.

He contended that increasing the number of our troops would make the Iraqi government mad, but also asserted that decreasing the number would intensify sectarian violence.

Muslims Outraged About U.S. Airways' Decision To Block Imams

Hey, I'm not Muslim but I'm pretty angry about this completely arbitrary and rather discriminatory decision to keep Imams off U.S. Airways' planes.

I've been on flights where I had to sit through Christian proselytizing, Christian prayer during a very bad storm in which a big deal was made that everyone in the cabin had to join hands and pray to Christ, and a few other celebrated incidents where I paid my money to get on a plane and then got forced to actually participate in someone else's religious view of what should go on. I can't remember insisting that such Christians be kept off the flights.

Tough shit that passengers got nervous that men were praying. They were not disrupting anyone except those who chose to get upset by it.

When does this nonsense STOP? When did it become all right for that asshole Glenn Beck to ask a newly-elected Congressman from Minnesota to prove he wasn't a terrorist because he chose to convert to Islam?

Say Hello to...

Collective Heartburn in general and to Jonathan's pitch to NBC specifically (hint: think Mel Gibson and Michael Richards).

Just What We (Don't) Need At The Pentagon: More Slanted Intelligence

I have been sure even before this posted by Kevin Drum that Gates to come in after the dismissed Rumsfeld (he says resigned but hey... he says a lot of things) at the Department of Defense would not be an improvement. But this clinches it - well, this and the fact that we know he is already a great Bush loyalist:

SLANTED INTELLIGENCE....Is Robert Gates going to usher in a new era of truth-telling and independent analysis at the Pentagon? Jennifer Glaudemans, who worked as a CIA analyst during the Iran-Contra fiasco, says that Gates sure didn't fit this bill back when he was the agency's deputy director for intelligence:
    When we received the draft NIE, we were shocked to find that our contribution on Soviet relations with Iran had been completely reversed. Rather than stating that the prospects for improved Soviet-Iranian relations were negligible, the document indicated that Moscow assessed those prospects as quite good....No one in my office believed this Cold War hyperbole. There was simply no evidence to support the notion that Moscow was optimistic about its prospects for improved relations with Iran.
    ....Despite overwhelming evidence, our analysis was suppressed. At a coordinating meeting, we were told that Gates wanted the language to stay in as it was, presumably to help justify "improving" our strained relations with Tehran through the Iran-Contra weapons sales.
    ....It was well known among analysts at the time that we would have a hard time getting Gates to sign off on analyses that did not fit his ideological preconceptions. All one had to do was look at his margin comments on controversial papers to know what was going on. Fortunately for him, classification and layers of bureaucracy kept those comments from public view. Today, however, many cases of politicized intelligence are a matter of public record. The National Security Archive, a not-for-profit organization, has posted many documents on its website that tell the story.
Read the whole thing for more. Glaudemans suggests that Gates had a consistent history of slanting intelligence to fit both his own views and that of his political masters.
And to make bad news worse, the Democrats are NOT expected to block Gates' appointment.

Gee, will the Dems continue to just sit there saying what they won't do to bother Bush? If so, it sort of defeats the effort voters put forth on November 7th. No?

OK, To Be Fair On The Issue of Blogger

While this certainly does not explain all - or hell, even most - of the recent Blogger problems, I should admit (in the interest of fairness) that my Blogger logon problems seemed at least partially due to the fact that Blogger and my IE7 beta version did not like one another. I finally upgraded to the full release of IE7 last night and - surprise - I can now logon to the blog without 15-25 attempts.

Keith Olberman: Special Comment - "Lessons From The Vietnam War"

Rats, I forgot to post Countdown with Keith Olbermann's special comment on Monday night re: Bush's trip to Vietnam and entitled, "Lessons From The Vietnam War". You can find the entire text here, with the video here. However, I offer this biggy sniplet:

It is a shame and it is embarrassing to us all when President Bush travels 8,000 miles only to wind up avoiding reality again.

And it is pathetic to listen to a man talk unrealistically about Vietnam, who permitted the “Swift-Boating” of not one but two American heroes of that war, in consecutive presidential campaigns.

But most importantly — important beyond measure — his avoidance of reality is going to wind up killing more Americans.

And that is indefensible and fatal.

Asked if there were lessons about Iraq to be found in our experience in Vietnam, Mr. Bush said that there were, and he immediately proved he had no clue what they were.

“One lesson is,” he said, “that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while.”

“We’ll succeed,” the president concluded, “unless we quit.”

If that’s the lesson about Iraq that Mr. Bush sees in Vietnam, then he needs a tutor.

Or we need somebody else making the decisions about Iraq.

Mr. Bush, there are a dozen central, essential lessons to be derived from our nightmare in Vietnam, but “we’ll succeed unless we quit,” is not one of them.

The primary one — which should be as obvious to you as the latest opinion poll showing that only 31 percent of this country agrees with your tragic Iraq policy — is that if you try to pursue a war for which the nation has lost its stomach, you and it are finished. Ask Lyndon Johnson....

"Kill Bill - Neutering Bush's Torture Law"

Bob Geiger has a long but very good post up about the steps being taken to rescind many of the sweeping and terrible changes the Bushies have installed that allow torture, take away all oversight, and destroy little pleasantries like habeas corpus (yes, that was sarcastic), to name but a few.

It's worth your while. Go read.

How Do Iraqis Feel About U.S. Troop Withdrawal?

Turns out, they want us gone (what a shocker!). From Think Progress:

In a September 19 speech to the United Nations, President Bush had a message for the Iraqi people:
    To the people of Iraq: Nearly 12 million of you braved the car bombers and assassins last December to vote in free elections. The world saw you hold up purple ink-stained fingers, and your courage filled us with admiration. You’ve stood firm in the face of horrendous acts of terror and sectarian violence — and we will not abandon you in your struggle to build a free nation.
In a recent poll by WorldOpinion.org, the Iraqi people had a message for President Bush — they’d like to be abandoned and fairly quickly:

Progressives/Liberals Win Against Rush Limbaugh

Here's one I bet you never expected:

Rush’s red state blues.

A new Democracy Corps poll finds that, in conservative-held congressional districts nationwide, “liberals” and “progressives” are viewed more favorably than Rush Limbaugh. On a scale of warm (100) to cold (0), here was the breakdown: progressives 45.0; liberals 40.1; Rush Limbaugh 33.0.

Uh... Orgasms For Peace?

It's supposed to take place on December 22nd.

And no, I don't really have anything intelligent - or even sarcastic! - to say about it.

UCLA Cop Who Tasered Student Has A History Of Violence On The Job

Why am I (sadly) not surprised? I also wonder how much the cop thought "His name sounds Arab" or "they're saying he's Iranian" may have factored in. From John at Crooks & Liars:

It appears that our happy go lucky UCLA taser man has a history.
    The UCLA police officer videotaped last week using a Taser gun on a student also shot a homeless man at a campus study hall room three years ago and was earlier recommended for dismissal in connection with an alleged assault on fraternity row, authorities said…. In May 1990, he was accused of using his nightstick to choke someone who was hanging out on a Saturday in front of a UCLA fraternity.
UCLA also has a policy that okays the use of tasers against passive demonstrators. Silence at Dkos has more.

Our Prayers and Blessings Go Out to Andy Ostroy

I happened to drop by The Ostroy Report tonight - being one of the blogs I've only started visiting in the last few months - and I was shocked to learn that Andy Ostroy's wife was brutally murdered in NYC on November 1st.

I never made the connection when, on perhaps November 2nd, I was watching NBC TV New York on satellite where they were covering the murder of the extremely talented Adrienne Shelly who I had just seen in a rerun of one of her films from the 1990s.

Now I am horrified to learn that Adrienne Shelly is Andy's wife; it is her death he mourns.

Andy, our best wishes go out to you. Adrienne was quite remarkable on-screen.

Good Night, Robert Altman

You will be greatly missed.

Yet we have the good fortune to have your work to enjoy as we toast you and your remarkable talent.

Say Hello to...

The Anarchist Rabbi.


"Same Old Party" - Thomas B Edsall Gets Blunt About Roy Blount

Roy Blount sucketh mightily, but thankfully, you have a much more articulate analysis of yet another corrupt GOP Hair Club for Men wannabe that owes his lucrative corporate payola checks to Hot Tub Tom Delay:

Last Friday, the Republicans gave the Democrats a gift that will keep on giving: Roy Blunt of Missouri.

After an election repudiating the politics of Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, Republicans elevated Blunt from the number three spot in the leadership to number two.

Roy Blunt embodies the insidious, half-legal corruption that has permeated the G.O.P. majority since 1995. Blunt’s election as minority whip, by a 137-to-57 margin, was a defiant Republican rejection of calls to clean up their act. Warnings by Blunt’s challenger, John Shadegg of Arizona — “We ceded our reform-minded principles in exchange for a ...tighter grip on power” — went unheeded.In 1998, DeLay put Blunt on the leadership ladder, making him chief deputy whip.

Blunt modeled himself on DeLay, creating an identical network of state and federal political committees that raised money from the same lobbyists, corporations and trade associations that financed what became known as DeLay Inc.

If one political operation captured the essence of DeLay’s leadership, it was the Republican takeover of Washington’s influence-peddling industry. This industry, grossing $2.36 billion last year alone, eagerly accommodated DeLay’s demands to replace Democratic lobbyists and association executives with Republicans. In a mutually rewarding relationship, lobbyists who financed DeLay Inc. wrote amendments and bills, while DeLay received a flood of cash to build a multimillion-dollar network of PACs. These committees lavished contributions, corporate jets and year-round entertainment on Republican House members, ensuring their loyalty, and channeled cash into local political parties, helping to win control of state legislatures that, in turn, gerrymandered districts to implement a long-term strategy of larger G.O.P. Congressional majorities.

...In 2004, Blunt turned his lobbyist team loose to win passage of a bill eliminating a $50 billion corporate tax break that the World Trade Organization had ruled in violation of international agreements. These lobbyists inserted $143 billion worth of new corporate tax breaks, turning the bill into a Fortune 500 Christmas tree.

Blunt is not the easy target DeLay was. DeLay, a born-again Southern Baptist, by his own account had battled demon rum and the playboy life. Once he started down the path of righteousness, moralizing and sermonizing, he made enemies, painting a bull’s-eye on his back.

Blunt, by contrast, is bland, unctuous and adept at keeping a low profile. But there is plenty to see. After divorcing his wife of 35 years to marry a tobacco lobbyist, Abigail Perlman, he cleared his second marriage with the House Ethics Committee to get “a waiver of the limitations of the gift rule to allow me to accept gifts in connection with my wedding.”

Blunt unblushingly told the Heritage Foundation this month that Republicans “have allowed our efforts to defend traditional values to be defined as little more than a politically driven effort to appease ‘family groups.’ ”

For Blunt, the blurring of boundaries is a family tradition. His son Matt is the governor of Missouri. Another son, Andrew, is one of the state’s top lobbyists. Almost all Altria subsidiaries — Kraft, Miller Brewing, Philip Morris (remember Abigail Perlman) — hired Andy Blunt, along with other financial backers of Roy Blunt.

In Blunt, House Republicans have kept on display a top official reminding voters why they cast ballots for Democrats on Nov. 7. After winning the post of minority whip last week, Blunt declared that the Republicans had “come together ... frankly, to get rid of the bad habits that we may have developed in 12 years in the majority.” This is precisely the opposite of what they actually did, which was to affirm their bad habits. The burden on the Democrats will be to make the elusive Blunt a nationally recognized figure.
Read the rest here.

Bob Herbert: Women of Atlanta "Bought and Sold"

This column by Bob Herbert is both touching and informative (the two sadly often mutually exclusive among columnists), and covers how female children are often exploited.

Family Of The Late Melinda Duckette Sue CNN Host And Uber Bitch, Nancy Grace

While no one can be said to be fully responsible for someone else's death by suicide, I suspect the family of Melinda Duckette - the young mother and blogger whose son, Calvin, disappeared and has still not been found - has a fairly decent case against CNN Headline News host, Nancy Grace.

Grace, a former prosecutor and now a high paid persecutor and bitch, went after Duckette using interrogation tactics that were obscene. While some have argued Duckette (who committed suicide soon after the interview) did not have to go on Grace's show, we've learned that Grace's show resorted to extremely high pressure tactics to get her to do so. At one point, they supposedly told the distraught woman that she would be responsible for her son's death if she did not go on air.

Even after the suicide, Grace kept the heat on Duckette, making her sound like she was very likely the killer of her young boy. Except now, police say it is extremely likely Melinda Duckette had NO involvement in his disappearance and possible death.

American jurisprudence is based upon the notion that you are innocent until proven guilty. But Grace has never seen a suspect she wasn't sure was guilty even if there was no evidence to support her views.

I don't care if CNN Headline News fires her, although I'd love it if they do. I do want her disbarred so she can never so much as claim she's a lawyer ever again. And then I'd like to see her undergo the same nastiness with which she subjected Melinda Duckette.

With Duckette alive, perhaps police would have more easily located her little boy, Calvin. With her death (aided by Grace), he may never be found. And for that, I most assuredly hold Grace accountable.

Bush's Disastrous War On Terror: $500 Billion And Climbing And All We've Done Is Make More Enemies

When the Christian Science Monitor tells you the price tag of the War on Terror is $500 Billion and climbing, you need to understand that this half a trillion (almost real money, right?) is just the start. Most agencies and news organizations say that Rumsfeld's Pentagon isn't really tracking costs on the War on Terror, so we have no real idea what it costs except that we've committed $500 Billion where they DO count. For example, the cost of the Iraq War is already at over $350 Billion alone. See that war cost counter down on the right side of this blog.

From The Monitor:

Whether troop levels increase in coming months, or decrease, or stay the same, one aspect of the US military effort in Iraq is unlikely to change: It will be expensive.

The cost of combat in Iraq has now surpassed $300 billion, according to government estimates. Add in activities in Afghanistan, and the total price of the global war on terror is about $500 billion, making it one of the most monetarily costly conflicts in which the nation has ever engaged.

Now the Department of Defense is in the process of drawing up its follow-on request for the remainder of FY 2007. Reports indicate that the Pentagon could ask for $120 billion to $160 billion, which would be its largest funding request yet for the global war on terror.

After they take control of Congress next year, Democrats will almost certainly investigate both the rate of Iraq spending and the manner in which it has been appropriated. Much of the war has been funded through supplementals, so-called emergency bills whose use in this case has become increasingly controversial in Congress.

"We're now at $507 billion for the global war on terror and counting, and almost all of that has been pushed through a process that doesn't give proper scrutiny to the budget. Are we spending it wisely?" says Gordon Adams, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center who was the senior White House official for national security budgets under President Clinton.

Last month, Congress approved $70 billion in spending intended to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through the first six months of fiscal 2007, which began Oct. 1 for the US government.

The size of the request under discussion reflects both the continued nature of the mission and past wear-and-tear. Both the Army and the Air Force need billions to replace expensive hardware worn out by the pace of warfare in Iraq.

Before the invasion of Iraq, the White House estimated that combat operations there would cost about $50 billion. That forecast, however, was based on a quick end to the war and a rapid drawdown of US troops.
Remember how Bush and Congress keep telling us we can't have universal health care because it's too expensive?

Well, I tell you, for just the $500 Billion we've already spent (and remember, this is just part of what we've spent or committed to so far), we could have developed, implemented, and funded for the next several years a very comprehensive, everyone-included universal health care system. And this would have SAVED lives rather than cost so many (again, the number of deaths from our wars are also not counted) and not created the tons of enemies the Bushies have.

Ask yourself why.

Whatever Newt Gingrich - Who Says We Need World War III For a Big GOP Win - Is Smoking, Do Not Ask For Any

Newt Gingrich - the serial philanderer and adulterer who once served a wife with divorce papers as she returned from the operating room where cancer was removed, the man who said "it's a proven fact that women get infections in fox holes so can't be soldiers" and "we need to create a World War III because then everybody will vote Republican" - is back smoking something pretty weird again.

This from Think Progress:

Newt has plan to become president ‘almost by magic.’

“I am not ‘running’ for president,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) tells Fortune.

“I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen.”
If he offers you a toke from whatever it is he puts in his glass pipe, say No very loudly and then run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

Blaming Atheism For Most Mass Murders Is A Bit Simplistic

Happened to catch Dinesh D'Souza's latest column at the Christian Science Monitor in which he purports that atheism - rather than, he implies, the much-maligned Christianity with its huge number of deaths during the Crusades, and other religious brands - should be blamed for mass murders.

I find his reasoning pretty simplistic here. Historically, I don't know that you can fault a lack of faith, as with atheism, as being much more responsible for wide-spread death, as compared with the damage done by those who purport to work in the name of their god or his "savior".

It's my belief that religion - which separates a human from a direct relationship with his or her god and/or savior - contributes to the movements that have often led to large scale death and destruction.

But read his column and decide for yourself.

Daily Kos: "Sparking Blogs From Vermont"

As I've indicated here many times, Vermont - for such a small and sparsely populated state - boasts a ton of smart people and some very smart blogs as well, including the Daily Kos' Vermont extension, Green Mountain Daily, the brilliant Vermont Daily Briefing, as well as top drawer The Carpetbagger Report.

Salvo tackles the start of a listing of Vermont blogs in his Daily Kos diary here.

"Bringing A Female Voice To Islamic Law"

From the Christian Science Monitor:

A proposed all-female fatwa council, the first of its kind, would ensure that women's perspectives on Islamic law be deliberated in the Muslim world.
I'm both encouraged as well as dubious. I'm already wondering, "Separate but equal?"

One More Note on The Michael Richards Debacle At The Laugh Factory

As John H notes in comments here, one striking part of the Michael Richards' apology aired last night on David Letterman when Jerry Seinfeld was the guest is that Richards never used the tired excuse of alcohol or drugs to conveniently attempt to limit his personal responsibility. You can see YouTube video of the ugly racial epithets here, my post of Richards' apology last night, and visit John's blog - Salem's Lots - here which includes links to other blogs discussing the nasty spot at last Friday's Laugh Factory.

Yet More Surveillance On Peaceful Protests

As The New York Times reports, the Pentagon (once told NOT to do this) is back spying on and collecting personal information about those who attend peaceful protests.

I'm sure they aren't doing this to discourage more middle-ground types from participating.

But man! With all the mess they've caused in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond, you would think Rumsfeld's Defense Department would be better served putting their time and other resources to more productive pursuits.

But I also still believe in the Great Pumpkin from Halloween.

Latest Iraq Casualty: A Man Who Helped Make Iraqis Laugh In A Country of Bloodshed

Buzzflash points us to the story of Walid Hassan, an Iraqi comedian who was killed there. That he could lighten the load for these people at such a grave time is remarkable; that he is gone too soon is tragic of its own.

Bush In Vietnam

Former intelligence person Randy Johnson has just one request: Someone needs to tell Bush we lost the Vietnam War.

Apparently, Bush was too whacked on cocaine and liquor to notice when it happened.

The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act

Read here, brought to you by My Strange Mind:

The pentagon is building the true teeth of the newly signed Military Commissions Act of 2006 offshore, at gitmo. Just think about what it would be like to get carted by the thought police, with a black bag over your head, and brought to gitmo, where you will have no civil rights whatsoever.

The pentagon's new 125 Million Dollar city is designated purely for processing American Citizens all into, what is likely to become, the largest and most in-humane concentration camps ever created, in order to help usher in the North American Union and its Commu-Fascist agenda.

Shouldn't we stop them?

...Write letters to senators and congressman demanding that they sign a bill that will effectively curtail the legal amnesty, given to the torture masters at gitmo and in the Eastern European countries. That bill is the Effective Terrists [sic] Prosecution Act, it is Senator Chris Dodd's (D-CT) bill.The Bill does the following:
  • Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
  • Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants
  • Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials
  • Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence the deem to be unreliable
    Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions
  • Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight
  • Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisionsWe need to demand decency in our civilization.
We have to stop the organizations involved in this before this gets out of hand, or before you know it they'll be encouraging us to turn in our neighbors for whatever they define to be terroristic behavior; that's sure to change into, whatever the hell they want to drag you off to the courts for.


Michael Richards: I Believe His Pain Is Quite Real

I'm not here to apologize for what Michael Richards ("Kramer" on the old Seinfeld series) did at the Laugh Factory last Friday where the N word was abused and worse.

But, watching him on David Letterman just now, I very much believe his pain is real and that he's very much trying to figure out how something so ugly came out when he said he does not believe he is a racist. When he said he really needs to explore what came from him, I found myself believing he will.

I do not believe Mel Gibson was ever contrite; only that he got caught.

Richards, however, sounds like a shattered man. To speak tonight as he did by satellite on Letterman, I think anyone who saw it as well cannot question his veracity. This isn't - like the old sad joke which my mother used to invoke when talking about the only woman of color she ever worked with - the old joke about, "Some of my best friends are black."

Those of color who feel hurt or angered about the incident (and I was as not a person of color) will have to reach their own conclusions.

Uh... Er... The Britney Spears & Kevin Federline Sex Tape?

You know, I can forgive (and even thank!) Minor Ripper for telling us how Bush only spent 15 minutes outside a hotel suite while in Vietnam and I appreciate his posting of how Tony Blair got caught telling the truth (Iraq's a disaster... pass it on!).

But when it comes to posting the YouTube version of the Britney Spears and Kevin Federline sex tape... gosh... um... ick.

Now excuse me; even though I did not watch it (not even under threat of death!), I need to take a shower. After that, I will be scrubbing my browser with lye.

(Scarier still, Spears and Federline were allowed to breed. Twice!)

"Military Victory No Longer Possible In Iraq"

And this from War criminal Henry Kissinger who helped design the war in Vietnam! Chuck at BushMerika2 tells you about the current wave of violence around Bush's Baghdad.

Was It Right For UCLA Cops To Taser Someone Non-Violent? Apparently Yes

I might not like it. And you (hopefully) do not like it. But after last week's debacle of several UCLA cops using a taser multiple times against an Iranian UCLA student who was extremely passive and simply could not produce his ID is perfectly swell with UCLA.

AmericaBlog has the rules for taser use at UCLA and it includes their use on passive demonstrators. Yet I don't think the student was involved in a demonstration. He was trying to do schoolwork.. in a frickin' library to which he'd paid a pricy tuition.

Writes AmericaBlog:

Someone needs to be fired at UCLA, and it needs to be very high up in the police department and the university. UCLA has a written policy authorizing the use of a 50,000 volt taser against students who are offering passive resistance. That means, sitting down and not moving as a form of protest can get you tasered repeatedly. It also means the cops who repeatedly tasered a student who refused to show them an ID may have actually been following official campus policy. It is UCLA campus policy to taser students who offer passive resistance. This is sickening.

Someone very high up at UCLA needs to lose their job, now.
Actually, I not only think it's appropriate for at least someone to lose their job, I think every damned person who signed off on this frickin' policy ought to be subjected to multiple taser hits so they understand what it is they approved.

Michael Richards Is No Lenny Bruce (Though He Sounds A Little Like Mel Gibson When Drinking)

Stranger at Blah3 is correct: Michael Richards isn't Lenny Bruce (and no, rampant, angry use of the N word probably has nothing to do with the so-called Seinfeld Curse:

No doubt you've heard about or seen Michael Richards' meltdown on video, where he resorts to repeatedly calling a heckler a 'nigger' for daring to interrupt him. Stupid, stupid, stupid. (YouTube video is here, and it's painful to watch.)

I have serious doubts if anyone will come forward to defend this outburst - it is indefensible, and not the least bit funny, and you can hear in Richards' voice that he said what he said to be as hurtful as he could be - but if a hypothetical person came forward to defend Richards, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the name of Lenny Bruce was invoked.
I wonder if Mel Gibson has called him yet so he and Ted Haggard can drop by and talk about tolerance (and how to use drugs without getting caught). ::cough::

Speaking Of Fuel Costs...

Is Vermont alone in the sudden swift rise of gas prices?

The day before the election, the best price I saw was $2.15. Over the weekend, I saw as high as $3.44 and no lower than $2.38.

Analysts did tell us to expect a big jump, which simply means the Bushies and their Arab friends once again played with both price and availability so Americans wouldn't blame the GOP led by all those Texas oil types.

Need Help With Fuel Costs? Well, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez Wants to Help

From Blah3 (some of you may remember that for some time, we have purchased gas pretty much exclusively through Citgo - say what you want about Chavez, but he's taken far more interest and effort in addressing poor and moderate earners' concerns for high fuel costs than "our" president, Bush):


Venzuelan-owned Citgo just ran an ad on MSNBC inviting those in desperate need of affordable heating oil to call Joe Kennedy (who sure looked like a Kennedy) for oil at 40% off.
Joe is of those Kennedys, active in various energy related programs.

Tommy Thompson For President In '08? Gag Me With A Thermometer!

If you're asking Tommy who, he was Bush's Health and Human Services secretary (although he had zero expertise then and even less now that he's running as some major mucky-much health consultantant for major corps). Tommy did every lame thing possible, including all but suggest American citizens close their mouths and hold their noses to keep from catching anthrax during the big U.S. mail scare of 2001 which remains unsolved to this day.

Doug at All Things Democrat notifies us that Tommy Thompson thinks he's such hot stuff he should be president.

President of what should be your next question. ::snurfle::

The GOP Makes One Thing Abundantly Clear: When Another Country Tortures Americans, It's a Crime Against Humanity..

YET... when agents for the U.S. torture anyone, it's just smart "business" practice.

This seems to be the message from Mel Martinez, the Florida Bushie (he was part of the Administration until there was an open seat in Florida and they wanted him in there to cement their bases), as he rants and raves about Vietnam's inhumane abuse and "torture" of an American citizen, a woman named Coc Foshee. Glenn Greenwald details the case and Martinez' reaction on his blog.

Oh, I'm with Martinez, inhumane treatment of anyone, regardless of their guilt or innocence, should NOT be tolerated. But this has to work across the board; America doesn't have carte blanche to do it while everyone else in the world is held to a different standard.

As Glenn aptly notes, we have people here, including American citizen Jose Padilla, who are subjected to at least as inhumane and torturous techniques as Martinez reports; but he applauds the U.S. while trying to end trade relations with Vietnam for what the government there did with Foshee.

More Bird Flu Boo-Boo

Researchers are warning Great Britain (who I believe is partnered with the U.S. on an avian flu vaccine) that the bird flu can mutate very quickly which means that any attempt to stockpile a large amount of vaccine would fail because the vaccine would be based on the flu "now" vs. the way the flu behaves "later".

Never Time For The Palestinians

Xinhua (China) says a special report indicates plans to go forward with a Palestinian government are pretty much kaput.

No one seems to "get" the fact that until the Palestinians are given their own land and gotten out from under the thumb of Israel - and the political bullying of the U.S. - there will be no peace in the Middle East.

Not now. Not ever.

Leaders of Iraq, Iran, and Syria To Meet To Establish Diplomatic Relations

NBC reported this earlier today, with a long-time Iraq correspondent saying that the U.S., which has steadfastly refused efforts by Iran and Syria to establish diplomatic relations with Iraq, was shooting itself in the foot by steering clear of such a meeting.

I suspect the correspondent's right. Every country where we've had a "do not say hello" policy has ended up with Bush saber rattling and adopting a "make war, not love" strategy.

Ready For The Big Debate Between President Bush And Iran's President?

Well, Iran's state run radio says it's very, very ready for a live debate broadcast between the two leaders.

But somehow, I don't think George Bush will ever debate Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if for no other reason that he could never even begin to pronounce Iran, much less the other president's name. ::wheeze::

It's Deja Vu All Over Again: White House Says Report Iran Not Nuke Ready Is Wrong

Yes, indeed, as the great Yogi told us, it's deja vu all over again as the Bush White House insists that a "secret" report from the CIA, one that assesses Iran's nuclear program and says there is no conclusive evidence Iran is ready to use nukes, is wrong.

Is it just me, or have we heard this several times before? Like that we'd get Osama bin Laden after just five minutes in Afghanistan and we'd uncover millions of WMD in Iraq.

More On Charlie Rangel And The Question Of The Draft

Just as when he first uttered the word "draft" before Bush-Cheny-neocons lied us into the Iraq War, Charlie Rangel's statement this past weekend about reinstituting the draft has drawn incredible fire. See my previous post with link.

However, let's step back from the incendiary reaction to the concept of the draft (and trust me, I understand this: I was furious with Jimmy Carter made it sound like a good idea back when I was in college).

What Rangel says makes sense if you look at thel reasons he gives for its consideration:

1. Right now, the all volunteer military draws all but a small percentage of its troops from the lowest income brackets and minorities.
2. The Pentagon targets high school students with high pressure recruitment efforts, again zeroing in on schools with a large population of lower income and minority families. This does not seem right.
3. When we have a draft in place, we are much less likely to go to war on less than solid reasons.
4. We would NOT have gone into Iraq if a draft had been in place before we did.

Why shouldn't military service be extended to the rich and upper middle class? To the George Bushes and Dick Cheneys of the world? Both Bush and Cheney effectively refused to serve when their country was at war in the 60s. But they're sure happy enough to send the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers of the poor, the unemployed, and the minorities into combat.

No Surprise: Is a Draft In Store?

Could be, but it's no surprise. Charlie Rangel talked at least two years ago of needing a military draft if we have a warlord (Bush) in office. Now Charlie has some influence on whether this happens with the selective service.

Broder Asks, "How Will King Boy George Fare In This Last Quarter of His Tyranny Presidency?"

[Ed. note: Hey, tyranny is more like it!]

David S. Broder writes about this fourth and last phase of Bush II's term (napping) in office and the new tests before Boy King George.

I just hope it's bloody short (sadly, we already know it certainly will be bloody).

Maureen Dowd: "Squeaker Of The House"

In the "not sure I agree but I guess we can agree to disagree department. You know where to go to get it all.

Ted Olson, the former solicitor general and eloquent Republican lawyer who argued the Bush v. Gore case before the Supreme Court, was warming up the rabidly conservative Federalist Society crowd for John McCain with a few sexist cracks about Botox.

The new Congress could amuse itself, he said, by “searching for any sign of movement in Speaker Pelosi’s forehead.” The Senate, he added, would be entertained by “the expressionless, Pelosi-like forehead of Senator Clinton.”It reminded you of just how idiotic Republicans can act sometimes. The only thing worse than hearing the first female speaker of the House filleted in such a lame way was seeing the first female speaker of the House flail around in her first big week in such a lame way. It reminded you of just how idiotic Democrats can act sometimes.

Nancy Pelosi’s first move, after the Democratic triumph, was to throw like a girl. Women get criticized in the office for acting on relationships and past slights rather than strategy, so Madame Speaker wasted no time making her first move based on relationships and past slights rather than strategy.

Instead of counting votes behind closed doors or even just choosing the best person for majority leader, Ms. Pelosi offered an argument along the lines of: John Murtha’s my friend. He’s been nice to me. I don’t like Steny. He did something a long time ago that was really, really bad that I’m never, ever going to tell you. And I’m the boss of you. So vote for John.

As the adage goes, if you shoot at the king, you’d better kill him. And if you’re the queen and you shoot at your knight, you’d better kill him too, or you end up looking like a weak sister.

Democratic lawmakers, who should have been basking, were left baffled as Nancy, spanked by her flock, strained to make nice with Steny.“I just wish Mom and Dad would get along so I don’t have to split my weekends,” moaned one.

Barney Frank Wants To Make a Grand Bargain With Corporate America

The Carpetbagger Report gives a decent short summary; basically, Frank suggests that government work with business to give corporations some of what they want (and have bought from politicians, mostly Republicans in recent years) in exchange for better deals for workers.

Interesting idea.

Plea Deals Suddenly Appear For Marines Facing Possible Death Penalty in Kidnap and Killing of Iraqi Man

What's unusual here (sadly, kidnapping and murder is not unusual in Iraq, not even for the Americans bringing "freedom") is that the military courts are arranging plea deals. I can't help but wonder why unless it's because the Bush-Rumsfeld Pentagon might be afraid of how far up the food chain some questions might go.

From AP via New York Daily News:

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) -- In the beginning, there were eight. A squad of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman charged with kidnapping and murdering an Iraqi man, a crime described by a prosecutor as especially brutal.

They faced military trials; the death penalty was possible.

And now there are four. In the six months the men have been held at the Camp Pendleton brig, the profile of the Hamdania cases has changed dramatically. The death penalty is off the table and four of the defendants have struck plea bargains.

Some observers of the military justice system find the developments mystifying.

Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches law of war at Georgetown University Law Center, said he was surprised by the number of plea agreements in this case.
We shouldn't let this drop without FAR more questions being asked and suitably answered.

Draft Grand Jury Indictment Against House Speaker (to Be) Nancy Pelosi?

It's quite long and involved. Read the draft indictment at Constant's Pations but here is a bit:

The danger of the House, in failing to review unconstitutional Presidential conduct, is the failure of the House to recognize similar unconstitutional conduct within its own chamber: The illegal assertion of non-delegated power; and a culture of intimidation to dissuade independent review of unlawful abuse of non-delegated, unconstitutional powers.

1. Illegal usurpation of powers expressly delegated to the House, not to any single legislative officer or individual;
2. Illegal presumption of authority and review power not expressly delegated to the Speaker of the House or judicial officers;
3. Illegal amendment to the Constitution without going through the Article V process;
4. Threats, promises, and inducements to other Members of the House to comply with her illegal interpretation of the Constitution;
5. Illegal prevention of the House of Representative to make decisions about the impeachment clauses in the Constitution;
6. Conduct in violation of 5 USC 3331, failing to preserve the Constitution;
7. Unlawful conspiracy to abrogate the US Constitution, dissuade enforcement of the document, and other alleged criminal conduct related to fraud and other implied threats to induce other Members of Congress not to comply with the Constitution; and
8. Incorporation by reference all relevant information contained in Draft Disbarment Investigation: John Conyers.

How Unpopular And Corrupt Is The U.S. Seen In The Rest Of The World?

Well, here's a clue: A Pakistani cleric and schoolteacher has been beheaded because he was suspected of being a spy for America. [Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.]

Yup, they love us to death. And we're losing our heads over them, too. ::sigh::

"America's Mayor": Grand Transformation? No, Just Pandering To Those Stupid Enough to Buy His Schtick

Steve at The Carpetbagger Report offers some of the most intelligent - and brief - commentary on Rudy Giuliani's great ambition to become America's next right wingnut president based on a platform that is entirely fictional as well as atrocious for U.S. citizens. From today's TCR:

Speaking of the Republicans’ top-tier presidential candidates (see below), former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is — get this — pitching himself as “in sync” with the views of the GOP’s base.
    In interviews, several of [Giuliani’s financial backers] said the former mayor had discussed his potential liabilities in a Republican primary — perhaps the greatest being his liberal views on social issues like abortion and gay rights.

    “Certainly one of the first questions that was asked was how his views on things like gun control and pro-choice and gay marriage would affect the views of the party in terms of nominating him,” Mr. Immergut said.

    “He talked specifically about what his views on those issues were, and he said that his own view was that when he was able to engage in conversations with party members who were more on the right, they could understand that his views were not as black and white as they had been painted.”

    Mr. Immergut added, “He said that for many important issues, his views would be right in sync with the huge majority of Republicans.”
To be sure, this isn’t entirely new. Giuliani campaigned a few months ago with Rick Santorum. Asked about the fact that Giuliani and Santorum appear to disagree on practically every social issue in the senator’s book, Giuliani said Santorum had “taken many positions. Most of them I agree with.”

No one, not even the most sycophantic far-right GOP true believer, is gullible enough to believe any of this.
I truly, truly hope Steve is correct in his statement about no one being stupid enough to believe Rudy.

WaPo: "Embittered Insiders Turn Against Bush"

Ever wonder why it is that an administration the Mainstream Media tells us every 3.2 seconds is "intensely loyal" goes after its own, ripping out the throats of anyone the Bushies have already turned against, driving the insiders to go outside the flock?

Well, with the neocons, I think they're just trying to cover their own asses. As soon as the MSM started saying the "age of the neocons" was no more, Adelman, Perle and other neocons began to come out to blame the Bushies. It's not that the neocons have gotten smarter or no longer want such outrageous things (leveling Iran and the Palestinians for Israel's sake, for example); no, they just don't want to be seen as powerless. So it's better to attack the Bushies than be seen any longer as the problem on which Bush's failed wars (plural) were based.

The weekend after the statue of Saddam Hussein fell, Kenneth Adelman and a couple of other promoters of the Iraq war gathered at Vice President Cheney's residence to celebrate. The invasion had been the "cakewalk" Adelman predicted. Cheney and his guests raised their glasses, toasting President Bush and victory. "It was a euphoric moment," Adelman recalled.

Forty-three months later, the cakewalk looks more like a death march, and Adelman has broken with the Bush team. He had an angry falling-out with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this fall. He and Cheney are no longer on speaking terms. And he believes that "the president is ultimately responsible" for what Adelman now calls "the debacle that was Iraq."

Adelman, a former Reagan administration official and onetime member of the Iraq war brain trust, is only the latest voice from inside the Bush circle to speak out against the president or his policies. Heading into the final chapter of his presidency, fresh from the sting of a midterm election defeat, Bush finds himself with fewer and fewer friends. Some of the strongest supporters of the war have grown disenchanted, former insiders are registering public dissent and Republicans on Capitol Hill blame him for losing Congress.

A certain weary crankiness sets in with any administration after six years. By this point in Bill Clinton's tenure, bitter Democrats were competing to denounce his behavior with an intern even as they were trying to fight off his impeachment. Ronald Reagan was deep in the throes of the Iran-contra scandal. But Bush's strained relations with erstwhile friends and allies take on an extra edge of bitterness amid the dashed hopes of the Iraq venture.

"There are a lot of lives that are lost," Adelman said in an interview last week. "A country's at stake. A region's at stake. This is a gigantic situation. . . . This didn't have to be managed this bad. It's just awful."

Finally Someone Writes The Truth! Frank Rich: "It's Not The Democrats Who Are Divided"

[Ed. note: Editor & Publisher tackles Rich's column about "the fictional story line" here.]

As I and every blogger to the left of Jesse Helms (which, as it turns out, happens to be most of the Republican bloggers as well!), the Mainstream Media is back on its late-1990s message of "Dems are divided", not bothering to notice that the right wing insists everyone be on the same "message" and that they often eat themselves anyway.

Now Frank Rich speaks (er.. writes?) out; go here for the whole delicious word meal:

...Right now the capital is entranced by a fictional story line about the Democrats. As this narrative goes, the party’s sweep of Congress was more or less an accident. The victory had little to do with the Democrats’ actual beliefs and was instead solely the result of President Bush’s unpopularity and a cunning backroom stunt by the campaign Machiavellis, Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel, to enlist a smattering of “conservative” candidates to run in red states. In this retelling of the 2006 election, the signature race took place in Montana, where the victor was a gun-toting farmer with a flattop haircut: i.e., a Democrat in Republican drag. And now the party is deeply divided as its old liberals and new conservatives converge on Capitol Hill to slug it out.

The only problem with this version of events is that it’s not true. The overwhelming majority of the Democratic winners, including Jon Tester of Montana, are to the left of most Republicans, whether on economic policy or abortion. For all of the hyperventilation devoted to the Steny Hoyer-John Murtha bout for the House leadership, the final count was lopsided next to the one-vote margin in the G.O.P. Senate intramural that yielded that paragon of “unity,” Trent Lott. But the most telling barometer is the election’s defining issue: there is far more unanimity among Democrats about Iraq than there is among Republicans. Disengaging America from that war is what the country voted for overwhelmingly on Nov. 7, and that’s what the Democrats almost uniformly promised to speed up, whatever their vague, often inchoate notions about how to do it.

Even before they officially take over, the Democrats are trying to deliver on this pledge. Carl Levin and Joe Biden, among the party’s leaders in thinking through a new Iraq policy, are gravitating toward a long-gestating centrist exit strategy: a phased withdrawal starting in four to six months; a loosely federal Iraqi government that would ratify the de facto separation of the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds and fairly allocate the oil spoils; and diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy to engage Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran and Syria, in securing some kind of peace.

...Everyone outside of the Bush bunker knows that’s where we’re heading. As the retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey told Keith Olbermann last week, “The American people have walked away from the war.” The general predicted, as many in Washington have, that the Baker commission, serving as a surrogate Papa Bush, would give the White House the “intellectual orchestration” to label the withdrawal “getting out with honor.” But might this Beltway story line, too, be wrong? Everything in the president’s behavior since the election, including his remarkably naïve pronouncements in Vietnam, suggests that he will refuse to catch the political lifeline that Mr. Baker might toss him. Mr. Bush seems more likely instead to use American blood and money to double down on his quixotic notion of “victory” to the end. Not for nothing has he been communing with Henry Kissinger.

...Even if the Democrats self-destructively descend into their own Abramoff-style scandals — Mr. Murtha referred to House ethics reforms as “total crap” — that may not be enough to save the Republicans if they’re still staring down the bloody barrel of their Iraq fiasco in 2008.

But most of all, disengagement from Iraq is the patriotic thing to do. Diverting as “divided Democrats” has been, it’s escapist entertainment. The Washington story that will matter most going forward is the fate of the divided Republicans. Only if they heroically come together can the country be saved from a president who, for all his professed pipe dreams about democracy in the Middle East, refuses to surrender to democracy’s verdict at home.

And I Would Like A Constitional Ban on McCain And Any Other Candidate Willing to Wipe The Rightwing's Ass With The Constitution

Wow. A constitutional ban on abortion. Another prescient piece of legislation written by, for, and of the people (meaning fat, affluent white men).

Just call ol' John McCain a pander bear [not that the far right will support his '08 presidential ambitions regardless how many uteruses (hmm... uteri?) he must climb atop to be seen].

From Majikthise:

John McCain now says he supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion.
    STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask one question about abortion. Then I want to turn to Iraq. You're for a constitutional amendment banning abortion, with some exceptions for life and rape and incest.

    MCCAIN: Rape, incest and the life of the mother. Yes. [ABC]
McCain used to say that Roe should be overturned and the issue of abortion "returned to the states"--which would be functionally equivalent to an abortion ban for most women. Now he says he favors a South Dakota-style abortion ban for the entire country.

John McCain is not principled and not moderate. He's a power-grubbing old man who sees his last chance to be president slipping away.
Now when do I and other women get to decide what men will do with their penises? Hmm?

Is The Bush Administration More Or Less Likely To Attack Iran?

Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker tackles the question of whether the Bush Administration, partially neutered in the November 7th mid-term elections, is more apt to go after Iran to "prove" they can. Here's a bit:

Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term, told me that he believed the Democratic election victory, followed by Rumsfeld’s dismissal, meant that the Administration “has backed off,” in terms of the pace of its planning for a military campaign against Iran. Gates and other decision-makers would now have more time to push for a diplomatic solution in Iran and deal with other, arguably more immediate issues. “Iraq is as bad as it looks, and Afghanistan is worse than it looks,” Armitage said. “A year ago, the Taliban were fighting us in units of eight to twelve, and now they’re sometimes in company-size, and even larger.” Bombing Iran and expecting the Iranian public “to rise up” and overthrow the government, as some in the White House believe, Armitage added, “is a fool’s errand.”

Iraq is the disaster we have to get rid of, and Iran is the disaster we have to avoid,” Joseph Cirincione, the vice-president for national security at the liberal Center for American Progress, said. “Gates will be in favor of talking to Iran and listening to the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the neoconservatives are still there”—in the White House—“and still believe that chaos would be a small price for getting rid of the threat. The danger is that Gates could be the new Colin Powell—the one who opposes the policy but ends up briefing the Congress and publicly supporting it.”
My take? Well, as I noted Sunday evening, it's not only almost impossible but exponentially foolhardly to assume there is any line the Bushies won't cross in the pursuit of power, bragging rights, wealth, cronyism, corruption, and dismantling of the United States of America as you and I knew it, from their U.S. Constitution toilet paper to their habeas corpus handi-wipes.

Should we go into Iran, I think we will find it an even greater mistake than in Iraq. But that certainly doesn't mean Bush wouldn't do it. After all, it's not like he's sending his military age kids.


Indonesia In A State of Crisis Over Bush's Visit There

[Ed. note: In addition to Indonesia and Iran, it's also abundantly clear that, through the disastrous Bush occupation of Iraq, we have turned this nation from the only country in that realm that was not run by Islamic fundamentalism into one that is no longer secular (or reasonably stable, for that matter). Nice work, Bushies and neocons!]

If you've seen any TV news this weekend - which, sadly, seemed to spend an insane amount of time on Tom(cat) Cruise's marriage to Katie Holmes aboard the mothership (cleverly disguised as a castle) in Italy - you may have seen footage of the very violent protests going on in Indonesia over Bush's visit there.

The news drones made a big deal of the fact that Indonesia has the largest percentage of Muslim citizens of any other nation and implied that these people were just badly behaved for not wanting King George.

Yet, let me inject a bit of history. You may recall that less than two weeks ago, I noted that the man who taught me journalism, Arnold C. Brackman (who authored the book, "The Last Emperor" on which the Bertolucci film was made"), wrote extensively about how the U.S. (with the CIA) and Great Britain conspired to overturn the secularly-run government there which in turn led to - you guessed it - the rise of very fundamentalist-based Islamism.

We did the same basic thing in Iran with the help of Teddy Roosevelt's descendant, Kermit, installing and propping up the shah (not exactly democratic) which then led to rise of extreme Islamic rule. Hell, we've done the same thing any number of times in a number of what were secular and/or democratic countries in just the last century.

So if you ever find yourself inclined to ask, how did extreme Islamic rule become so entrenched, thank Uncle Sam! We created "the enemy" we now fight. Funny thing, that.

Bush Declares War on Vietnam

OK, OK, no, this isn't for real. At least, not yet.

This was the intro to Saturday Night Live last night (Bush is now portrayed by Bill Hader - I believe - who did a great job, rather than Will Forte who has been doing the Bush appearances the last year or two following Chris Parnell who wasn't very good at it and Will Farrell who seemed "too smart").

The funny thing about it was that when I heard the bit, I suddenly got a little nervous. I mean, the Bush Administration does so many things that are so damned extreme that I found myself worried something actually had gone on during King George's visit in the last few days (besides his assinine, "We'll succeed in Iraq unless we quit" and the Bushies displaying the WRONG flag for Vietnam).

I got nervous enough that I was compelled to get online and be sure Boy George really had not declared war there. Doesn't look like, anytway.

It's truly bad when you just can't put anything past your president except the delusion he will sound intelligent and diplomatic.