December 19, 2005

god... I've got to do better

The president spoke tonight. A number of FARKers were pissed that he preempted The Family Guy. Just reading comments on it made me want to go get a beer. I can think of a lot of countries I'd swap governments with right now... England... Italy... Poland.

My bandwidth is otherwise occupied at the moment, so not many links.

I can't believe the president confirmed the New York Times story about his illegal wiretaps. Cheney must be rolling in his coffin. On the other hand, as long as we're "winning in Iraq", what do we have to worry about. Once Adam Felbers explains the Iraqi election process you'll understand exactly how much we've gained.

Since we've got the civil liberties taken care of in Iraq and America, I figure it's time to address some real problems. Since Richard Pryor has died, we'll be needing a new Secretary of Education (Gil Scott Heron , The Revolution Will Not Be Televised). Any suggestions?

Is it just me or does Pakistan need some serious help? Earthquakes, weapons, Islamist society, military dictatorship, harboring terrorists, A Q Khan, take your pick. The fact that they are our ally must surely be a case of keeping our friends close and our enemies closer. Like Saudi Arabia.

September 17, 2005

Long Time Gone

I've been moving, and just got my dsl back on. Hello to all new readers. The tirades will resume shortly.

I do want to say a few words that have occurred to me about the hurricane. First, I've heard some of the folks who were sheltering in the convention center say they thought they were being left to die. Because they were poor and black. I don't know if they were right, but what does it say about our country, the state of Louisiana, and the city of New Orleans that they could even think that? It reminded me of some of the rumors coming out of Iraq. Have you heard the one about US soldiers planting a bomb in the back of an old man's vegetable truck. They were trying to make it look like he was a suicide bomber. Also, there were a whole lot of poor white people in Mississippi and Alabama getting ignored too.

Second, I want to welcome the guests at Camp Dawson. Our KKK was more against Catholics than blacks. We've never had enough black people here to merit racism. Instead, the charges of "stealing our jobs" and "criminals" were laid on the Italian, Polish and Eastern European immigrants. One of them is Governor now.

Third, was the delay in the federal government's response to the disaster because Cheney had to give his buddies the (no-bid) "reconstruction" contracts? Did you know that Halliburton got a big piece of those contracts?

And finally, everyone seems to have forgotten what was going on when I last had dsl. Namely, KARL ROVE OUTED A SPY. Ask John Roberts about that.

July 20, 2005

Republican Strategy

The Bush administration is working to increase polarization in America. It isn't tied to party affiliation. The goal is simply to create a strong "us" (moral people) and
"them" (LIBERALS) mentality.

Here's the talking points:

Radical ideas like birth control and global warming don't reflect the beliefs of the "majority of Americans". People who believe such radical ideas must be LIBERALS or they wouldn't want to weaken America with immorality and socialism (especially during a war). Many LIBERALS don't believe in God, which means they have no morals. LIBERALS don't support the President. LIBERALS don't support our troops. All LIBERALS do is delay and debate. The LIBERALS will take away your guns. etc.

Thus we see the LIBERAL joining the terrorists as enemies of America.

Pity the LIBERAL Congressman up for reelection in 06'.

July 19, 2005

Khalid Jarrar in Iraqi custody

I was introduced to this blogging thing by reading Salam Pax in the runup to the war. He introduced me to Riverbend and Raed. They and the Iraqi bloggers they've led me to have provided a much needed counterpoint to the US propaganda machine. Now the "liberated" Iraq has jailed one. Not a radical one, either, an intelligent young man who's family has a history of humanitarian work. If you want to sign the petition to the Iraqi embassy in DC for his release it's at

We the undersigned demand that the security forces that have detained Khalid Jarrar immediately release him, and that a full scale investigation be conducted into how it came to pass that an individual can be held captive for the sole reasoning of expressing their views. It behooves us as American citizens whose troops are occupying Iraq to demand that Iraq be adminstered in a fashion that protects individual rights.

Personally I think this petition (and most others) is a waste of time, but it's cheaper than going over there and getting things straightened out personally. Unfortunately, personal contact is the best way to understand other people's situations.

To honor Khalid and his blog Tell Me A Secret I add a personal confession. Before 9/11, before Election 2000, back when Rush Limbaugh was screaming about Clinton's sex life I knew America was going to attack Iraq. I knew this horrible, wasteful war was coming and I failed to stop it. I warned everyone who would listen. I voted Democrat. I encouraged others to vote. My failure will cost me every day for the rest of my life, both emotionally and financially.

Now there's a secret that should make The Man afraid.

July 15, 2005

I know Karl Rove smells like tasty blood...

... but we really need to stop this feeding frenzy. My inner predator is just as hungry as anyone else's, but we're scaring the silent majority. Let the law take its course and take your angry side over to The Rude Pundit for some fun.
I'm fairly pleased with the special prosecutor so far. He's being careful and methodical, without showboating. Only by remaining as square and level as a Mason can we hope to bring this administration to justice. Now is the time to study the Tao.

As for him who is highest,
The people just know he is there.
His deputy's cherished and praised;
Of the third, they are frightened;
The fourth, they depise and revile.
If you trust people less than enough,
Some of them never trust you.

He is aloof, as if his talk
Were priced beyond the purchasing;
But once his project is contrived,
The folk will want to say of it:
"Of course! We did it by ourselves!"

July 06, 2005

Spontaneous Welcome for President Bush

There's already some good blogging being done on the protest in Morgantown WV yesterday. We neither saw nor heard anything of the President. He was keeping his noble distance. Without further ado, here's my pics. Here's someone else's pics.

Marching to Shibboleth

just getting started

Batman and MAD Men

I really love this sign

and this one

Brazilian bikini wax?

these folks in front here make me proud of my state

oh, look honey, they're protecting us from terrorists

are you sure? maybe they're just making sure that the wrong people don't see the President


a reference to WV Dem. Sen. Robert Byrd, an outspoken opponent of the war up for reelection soon

US World Domination! surely not!

NBC called us unpatriotic

The man with the ponytail on the left was shouting like an Old Testament prophet at passing Republicans. "You're killing your children!"

This Republican didn't seem to agree that dissent is patriotic.

He referred to protesters as "cowards". I took up that cry, saying "blow up the cowards!" and "they might know where Osama is hiding".


Grandma and Aunt Becky hate the president!

July 04, 2005

Are People Really That Stupid?

I recently read something on Faiza's blog A Family In Baghdad that made me laugh. The following describes the current conditions in Afghanistan.

The rebels come from the school, (madrasa), inside Pakistan, which was established since the times of the Soviet Union fighting, when the later used to occupy Afghanistan… these schools were financed by the United States government, and some of the Islamic governments, which helped Bin Laden to go to Afghanistan, making him a religious hero to fight the infidel communists … there was a strong campaign in many Arabic countries, supported by governments, this campaign was led by the clergy in those countries, in cooperation with the governments, they waged the campaign of Jihad (struggle) against the enemy in Afghanistan, brain washing the minds of thousands of Arab young men, pushing them to go there, (at the beginning of the 1980s), paying for the fees of their transports, study, and arms training in camps belonging to those religious schools that teach Jihad.
What is Jihad, according to these schools?
It is fighting the non-Muslim only, training to kill them.
Those young men, whether Afghani or Pakistani Muslims, they do not understand what the Holy Quran says, but read it only, not understanding the meanings, and their teachers instruct them that killing the non-Muslim is your sure way to heaven.
Of course, then the enemy was an infidel communist, who do not admit to religion, so, the story is reasonable; kill your infidel enemy, and not only an infidel, but an occupier…
So, those young men, young in age, experience, knowledge, and education, were exploited, forming an effective weapon to push out the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan…
But the problem is that those schools are still there, giving the same lessons, spreading the same poisons in to the minds of simple people, telling them that Islam is a religion of violence, killing, and terror against all non-Muslims…without understanding the Quran, and what's in it, of a great humanitarian message, of peace, and love.
How come that we, Arab Muslims, have lived since thousands of years with Christians and other religions, in our countries in peace, without violence?
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict isn't religious, but they tried to put it in the guise of religion. (Muhammad was Arabic, living in our land, the books talking about him are many, clear and comprehensible.
The Holy Quran is Arabic, and comprehensible.
Why weren't we terrorists all our lives? Why was a deformed picture of Islam sent there? Why did the American government support manufacturing that deformed picture? Why was that picture used in the Media, so that whenever the word "Islam" comes into the news broadcast, we hear words like "extremist" or "fundamental" with it? As our British teacher…..from South Africa says?
Why weren't we, the Arabs, with the message of Muhammad living among us, implemented in our lives, the sample of Muslims in the Media?
Why was Islam deformed, making it the enemy No.1 after the fall of communism?
Why do we see, since 1990, that most conflicts in the world have an Islamic party? And it wasn't like that before the fall of communism?
Even the war between Iraq and Iran, two Muslim countries, started by the devising and encouragement of the American government to Saddam Hussein.Even the backwards government of Taliban, that deformed Islam, assumed power in Afghanistan by the support of the American government.
Do the people are stupid?? (my emphasis)
When people come to our countries, they find out the amount of peace in the hearts of Muslims, and the amount of mercy. The Arab and Islamic people still honor the guest, respecting and welcoming, even if he was a citizen of a western country whose government is an enemy, and their history is full of injustice against us…
But Al-Zarqawi and Bin Laden are the deforming children of Islam… they are the children of the American government; she produced them, raised them, and then turned them into bombs, planting corruption, destruction, and evil, in the name of Islam….
Islam is innocent of all that….
And one day, the truth shall be revealed to all….

Yes, Faiza, many people are idiots. They neither know nor care what anyone else thinks. They're lucky to be able to form an independent thought. In my country they voted for Bush twice. In your country they're blowing things up. It's scary what fear can make people do. President Franklin Roosevelt told the truth when he said "We have nothing to fear except fear itself".

But then again, perhaps we do have something to fear. President Bush will be within sight of my house in little more than three hours. I live in a small town, with well under 30,000 people. He was here during the campaign, but at that time I was sticking to the moral high ground. Now I'm so pissed off I would love to make a big scene.
(for future legal purposes, I have no intention to kill or maim the President)

Having said that, if I could make him slip on a banana peel I would.

Does it seem a little wierd to anyone else that President Bush never goes near Americans who don't already agree with him? No wonder he was so proud of his "mandate". In his mind it was unanimous. Dissent has been ignored. He still implies that Iraq had something to do with 9/11.

More of the Republican Trick. When faced with the truth, stick to your lie. Call the truthteller "unamerican" and/or "liberal" and the stupid people fall for it every time.

July 01, 2005

The Republican Trick

Could it be that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats feel bad when they lie but Republicans have no sense of shame. Democrats are willing to admit that they make mistakes. Republicans get offended if anyone implies they make mistakes.

President Bush will be appearing in my current hometown, Morgantown, WV, on July fifth. I bet they won't let me within half a mile of him.

June 18, 2005

RIP Terry Schiavo

STFU Dr Frist.

''Yes, I would do it over again," the senator told reporters.

However, this does not entitle anyone to an apology. Mob mentality doesn't apologize.

Also, Bob and Mary Schindler, STFU. Don't you remember giving her away at the wedding?

I must say I'm glad the Democrats have a man like Howard Dean in charge. He won't be afraid to use this fiasco against the GOP. Kick 'em when they're down then kick 'em again!

May 12, 2005

I wish I'd said that

Sunday mornings at Casa de Rude Pundit are quiet affairs, generally consisting of the brewing of a large pot of coffee, the disposing of a stray condom or two, the placing of the half-empty Chopin vodka bottle back into the freezer, and the grabbing of a bowl of Cap'N Crunch before jumping onto the couch to catch one damn Sunday morning talk show or another. Yesterday was no different, tuning into Tim "Behold My Glorious Pumpkinhead" Russert and his splendiferous Meet the Press. Still half-asleep, still waiting for the caffeine and processed sugar to kick in, the Rude Pundit heard former CIA agent Gary Schroen say this about the hunt for the 9/11 masterminds: "He did ask that once we got bin Laden and killed him, that we send his head back in a cardboard box on dry ice so that he could take it down and show the president."

reprinted from The Rude Pundit

"I was just going to cross the street but I remembered I should buy the carrots" He spoke rapidly, "So I stopped by that guy who sells vegetables and just as I was buying them- a big BOOM and a car exploded and the one next to it began to burn... If I hadn't stopped for the carrots..." The cousin began waving his arms around in the air and I leaned back to avoid one in the face.
My aunt gasped, stopping in the living room, "The carrots saved you!" She cried out, holding a hand to her heart. My cousin looked at her incredulously and the color slowly began to return to his face. "Carrots." He murmured, throwing himself down on the sofa and grabbing one of the cushions, "Carrots saved me."

reprinted from Riverbend

It all comes down to “proving a negative.” Logically speaking, you can’t. As I’ve noted before, if I asserted that the universe was created by a gigantic, multidimensional lobster, you wouldn’t be able to prove me wrong. Even if you produced a handsomely-bound billion-year-old tome entitled “How I Did It, by God Himself” which featured a dust-jacket photo of the bearded, white-haired Deity in a contemplative pose and several flattering blurbs from other celestial beings (like “This guy really did it - Vishnu,” and “Makes me wish I’d written it - a real page-turner! - Lucifer”), even then I could ask you to prove that this “God” fella wasn’t Himself created by a gigantic multidimensional lobster, and we’d be back to square one.

reprinted from Adam Felber's blog Fanatical Apathy

April 12, 2005

Pope John Paul II RIP

If the next Pope isn't Hispanic, the Vatican will slight the MAJORITY of the church. Watch em' elect an Italian.
# of Catholic Italians - vs - # of Catholic Hispanics
or even
# of Catholic Europeans - vs - # of Catholic Hispanics
looks like a "no brainer" to me

March 19, 2005

What atheists should know about religion

Many atheists are very hostile toward religion. They consider it a wicked superstition that is holding society back, and that the world would be much better off without it. I would be the last person to say they are wrong, but none of us can deny that there are a lot more believers than non-believers. That's the reason so many atheists also consider believers stupid. They can't understand why so many people would espouse such damaging ideas.
In response to a statement that "Islam's relentless expansion is wrecking the world" I replied "no more than Christianity did in the last thousand years."
When America was founded, Christian women were required to cover their heads. Many European countries went through a period of torture and mutilation for criminals. The West is trying to "help" Islam skip over several hundred years of injustice, religious and political, never realizing that freedom, unearned, is also oppression.
The freedoms we want to give them are the freedoms we earned after years of fighting. Pushing the Iraqis to include women in politics shows the sanctimoniousness of a new convert. Women in the West have been fighting for hundreds of years and still don't have guaranteed slots on the ballot or in office.
You can't learn someone's lessons for them. Much as we may resent it, Christians wrecked the world and now it's Islam's turn. We didn't get our freedom until we were willing to fight and die for it in the long term. If we really want to help Islam we should shut up and let them get on with it.

March 12, 2005

It's been a while

I've spent the past week building a new case for my computer. I'll post pictures when I'm finished. In the meantime I'll post when I get the time.
In honor of hearing Randy Newman on Prairie Home Companion, here's a special musical feature.

Political Science
by Randy Newman

No one likes us-I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us-so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia's crowded and Europe's too old
Africa is far too hotAnd Canada's too cold
And South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one
There'll be no one left to blame us

We'll save Australia
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo
We'll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin', too

Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono
And there'll be Italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let's drop the big one now
Let's drop the big one now

March 02, 2005

Justice for all

The Senate, done with Cabinet nominees, is taking up the judicial. The President's "mandate" includes renominating 20 people who had been blocked by Democrats last term.
Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said, "His (Bush's) renomination of seven of the 10 circuit court judges that we blocked in the last Congress is a thumb in the eye of bipartisanship."
"There is simply nothing to be gained from the president's unfortunate decision to play a game of judicial chicken," Schumer said.

Senate Democrats are threatening to fillibuster, Republicans (who invented the fillibuster) say they'll change the rules to ban the tactic, Democrats then threaten to retaliate and bring the Senate to a near halt with a variety of other procedural moves.
Could this be more misdirection from the White House? I agree that Democrats need to stand up to the President on some of these unqualified nutjobs. What worries me is our representatives are being cast in the role of obstructionists, or whiners by the administration. By doing the right thing, we are playing fretful granny to their dashing hero. Karl Rove said that you win by using your opponents strengths against him. Looks like it works.

The US Supreme Court decided today that John Ashcroft is a bloodthirsty ashcroft for trying to get Lee Boyd Malvo killed. Executing people for crimes committed while under 18 has been declared "cruel and unusual punishment". Families who say thay are being denied closure are advised to find Jesus as their personal savior. He never said anything about "an eye for an eye".

A federal judge has ordered the administration to either charge or release a man held for 2 1/2 years. Jose Padilla, whose capture allegedly thwarted a "dirty bomb" plot, has been held as an enemy combatant since being taken from an airplane. The judge stated "There were no impediments whatsoever to the government bringing charges against him for any one or all of the array of heinous crimes that he has been effectively accused of committing".
At least we're not living in a police state. If we were, maybe Bush would come liberate us.

Another person finally getting his day in court is Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who allegedly planned to kill the President (I'd settle for Rumsfeld, but I'm not an idealist). The FBI has a confession he claims was tortured out of him in Saudi Arabia. According to some people this guy's whole family is some kind of Islamic Satanic coven bent on the destruction of truth, justice, and the American way. This may get interesting in the future, but for now nobody's proved anything.

Already interesting is the lawsuit against Rumsfeld for permitting torture. The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First filed suit in federal district court in Rumsfeld's home state of Illinois on behalf of eight former detainees who said they were severely tortured. All eight were subsequently released without being charged. I know it sounds silly, but they say that since the Pentagon had a bunch of abuse claims, they should have said, once and of all, "No Torture". Pentagon claims that only a few bad apples were involved just shows that the Army can't control its people. Who should be blamed for that?

Riverbend's new post expresses her fears that recent Shia victories in the election may lead to increased oppression of women in what had been a secular country. She used to have a job, she didn't wear a veil, she didn't need to have a male relative accompany her anytime she left the house. Now she does, or feels pressured to. Her view of the election is worth reading. I don't think she feels liberated yet.

from a photoshop contest

February 24, 2005

Project for the New American Century or the Plot for US World Domination

I have mentioned the Project for the New American Century in previous posts, and strongly advise all non-world domination inclined folks to read the evil plot for themselves. To whet your appetite for colonialism, here's some suggestions they offer.

Whatever the respectable motives behind the creation of the International Criminal Court, we should not let those blind us to the fact that the preservation of a decent world order depends chiefly on the exercise of American leadership.
American soldiers under international authority? Never!

Rather than maintain and improve America's nuclear deterrent, the Clinton Administration has put its faith in new arms control measures, most notably by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The treaty proposed a new multilateral regime, consisting of some 150 states, whose principal effect would be to constrain America's unique role in providing the global nuclear umbrella that helps to keep states like Japan and South Korea from developing the weapons that are well within their scientific capability, while doing little to stem nuclear weapons proliferation.
What right do 150 nations have to tell us who we can blow up? The cat's out of the bag. Without total world domination, how can we protect freedom?

The strategic success is the end of the Iraq containment policy that required a large U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 Gulf War. Significant numbers of U.S. forces were tied down in an increasingly hostile country. Their effect, moreover, on Hussein's conduct was dubious. Over the decade, the then-Iraqi leader grew ever more resistant to international demands that he open his country to weapons inspections. The current occupation of Iraq is temporary. By contrast, the containment policy required an endless commitment of forces.
It's important not to get tied down indefinitely in an increasingly hostile country.

Whatever the problems in Iraq, they pale in comparison with the history of Hussein's tyranny.
I wonder if Iraqis agree?

With the January 30 elections in Iraq, the insurgents lost all claims to being a "liberation" movement.
I heard many Iraqis voted because it was the only way to get rid of the Americans.

Islamic activism gained speed throughout the Middle East and has remained--outside of Iraq and now possibly Palestine--the only serious opposition to the vagaries, incompetence, and corruption of princely and dictatorial rule.
Tell it to Iran and Libya.

(It's not at all contradictory for an Egyptian to hope that January 30 will help end President Hosni Mubarak's despised dictatorship and yet feel a bit sickened that it is Shiite Arabs--the black sheep of the Arab Muslim family--who are leading the faithful to a democratic rebirth.) And it is certainly true that the enabling hand of the United States provokes great waves of contradictory passion. It is worthwhile to note that these same emotions are common among the Iraqi Shia: The more religious and nationalistic they are (and the two impulses are quite harmonious among the Shia), the more difficult they find it psychologically to accept their freedom from the Americans. But the Shia have--with the possible exception of the followers of Moktada al-Sadr--gotten over it. So likely will the average non-Iraqi Sunni Arab who wants to see elected leadership in his native land.
Well, we hope they will get over it.

If Ahmad Chalabi gains a position of influence inside the new national assembly, it would be wise for State and the CIA to ensure that any and all officials who were involved in his regular trashings--particularly the trashing of his home--do not serve in Iraq. The Bush administration is going to have a hard time working with and figuring out the Iraqi Shia (it is striking how thin U.S. embassy coverage of the Shia still seems), and it does not need to further antagonize one of the few Iraqis capable of appreciating both the religious and secular sides of the Iraqi Shiite family and who can present his understanding to the Americans in a way they can understand. Ahmad Chalabi may be wrong in his assessments--he has certainly made mistakes in the past--but the Bush administration is doing itself an enormous disservice if it allows the old State-CIA animus against Chalabi to continue any further. Irony is always both bitter and sweet. Tell Langley to live with it before Chalabi has the will and allies to get even.
And how, exactly, would he get that power? Chalabi's a huckster.

February 22, 2005

The Buck Stops Here?

In a recent, puckishly titled, article MSNBC states "Rumsfeld plays offense on the Hill". Rumsfeld causes offense on the Hill may be more appropriate. Somehow his testimony before the House and the Senate were scheduled for the same day. The House Armed Services Committee wasn't nearly finished with him yet when he bolted out, across the rotunda, to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Not only was his testimony brief, it was also useless and obstructive.

In his opening statement he implicitly chided Congress for "an increasingly casual regard for the protection of classified documents and information."

Asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, Rumsfeld replied: "I am not going to give you a number."
Actually, they're being polite. The quote about the number of insurgents was really "I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work." Seriously.

Did he care to voice an opinion on efforts by U.S. pilots to seek damages from their imprisonment in Iraq? "I don't."

Could he comment on what basing agreements he might seek in Iraq? "I can't."

How about the widely publicized cuts to programs for veterans? "I'm not familiar with the cuts you're referring to."

How long will the war last? "There's never been a war that was predictable as to length, casualty or cost in the history of mankind."

In Europe last week, Rumsfeld joked that he was no longer the "old Rumsfeld" who disdainfully referred to France and Germany as "Old Europe."

But Wednesday, he made it clear that the new Rumsfeld would not be a softy. When he scolded Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) by saying she incorrectly described his role, Tauscher inquired: "Is that old Rumsfeld talking to me now?"

"I think so," Rumsfeld said, smiling.

"I'd prefer new Rumsfeld," she requested.

"No, you don't," he said.

When I first read about this at Rude Pundit I was just thinking "What a jerk!". After letting it percolate for a couple days (sorry about that) I started seeing it as a symptom of a real systemic problem. Ultimate decision making power rests with the President (as he loves to remind us). People leaving the administration have spoken of George as being enthusiastic for all kinds of things that end up not happening. "Mars and Onward" for one example. Either he's got a short attention span, he's a really good actor, or he's not really in charge of the ship. The money keeps flowing toward the war, everything else is smoke and mirrors.
Why does George keep Rumsfeld around? If you remember Iran-Contra, you remember that everything came down to "Who knew what, when?". El Presidente needs Rumsfeld, and all the other loose cannons, to act independently and keep him from knowing too much. Rumsfeld depends on people like Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski for the same service. Once the buck reaches level of Spc. Charles Graner someone should start asking questions. Luckily, this is the era of personal responsibility. I guess Graner's trial and Bush's election are the same thing; an "accountability moment". People think torture is bad, but failing to prevent torture is perfectly understandable. Lets call it "trickle-up accountability".

February 20, 2005

Hunter Thompson Dead

According to his son, he killed himself. Sad, but I can't say I blame him. He'd seen a lot. This scene must have been a disappointment. Kinda like Hemingway.

February 19, 2005

Tour of the Blogosphere

Foreign Affairs Blog is talking about those few bad apples that keep turning up. From threatening kids with dogs to playing the Meow Mix song for hours on end, our boys and girls in uniform just keep taking matters into their own hands. We've got civilians and foreign governments joining the party too. There sure are a lot of loose cannons rolling around. Someone might get hurt.

The Sorest Loser is also talking torture, but from a more personal position with several different prisoner's experiences related. There's one here about a guy who got shipped to Syria, tortured, found innocent, and released. Oops, sorry. Wrong guy. Have a nice day.

The Progressive Blog Alliance Headquarters has some design changes to propose for American Capitalism. "What if the goods and services offered were examined for their benefits and costs to the individuals and the society alike." What if, indeed. Some interesting suggestions, anyway.

The Barking Dingo has some dirt courtesy of AP. Apparently, when Tom Ridge toured swing states before the election, he did so after consulting with Republican pollsters.
Susan Neely, a former assistant homeland security secretary who attended the May 17 session with Luntz and Ridge... (said) "We asked him his impression of how well we were explaining whatever the issues were of the day..."
See, nothing to do with the election at all.
"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security."

Great minds must think alike, beacuse over at tunafishnews I found a psychological analysis of the red/blue divide.
Mammals have two primary drives, these being the survival instinct (get food and shelter, i.e. money) and the reproductive instinct (get laid).The first drive preserves the individual; the second preserves the species.
Conservatives generally like guns and money and 90-hour workweeks and killing animals. Liberals generally like sex and art and statues of naked women and the Family Leave Act.
Label the reproductive instinct blue, and label the survival instinct red, and you will never be very far wrong.

The Talking Dog also has something to add to that discussion. In response to President Bush saying he has not ruled out raising taxes on those who earn more than $90,000 a year to help bolster Social Security's finances, the Dog suggests that Democrats take him up on it.
Once the fortress of tax cuts for the rich solitude starts to break down, its time to sneak in other things-- ok, Mr. President, we can fully fund Halliburton/Bechtel, BUT-- we'll have to roll back the dividend and estate tax deductions... YES-- we'll let you drill in the Arctic-- BUT-- SUV tax credits and mileage requirement exemptions will have to be adjusted, other measures for conservation and green technologies will have to be stepped up INCLUDING PASSAGE OF THE KYOTO TREATY.
We can learn to compromise, or we can tear our government apart.

Last but not least, some interesting billboards have been appearing in Arizona.

Posted by Hello

February 16, 2005

Friends of America

In light of earlier comments about the cost of the war I present this article. It states that the Pentagon is spending more per soldier than ever before. It also offers this quote from Loren B. Thompson, a military expert with the Lexington Institute.
''The bottom-line problem with the all-volunteer force is you have to convince middle-class people to risk their lives for middle-class pay, so of course the price for each soldier keeps going up,''

Personally, I'm outraged by the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative. I hope Robert Novak goes to prison for it. I also think that whatever administration figures are involved should also go to prison. What any of this has to do with two virtuous reporters who refused to spread the story going to prison I have no idea. I understand the judge already knows the identity of the administration figure, he just wants to ask the reporters some questions about the approach. On the one hand, if journalists don't have confidentiality no one will tell them secrets. On the other hand, this really smells like treason to me. George isn't the only one who's heard of national security. We need to get to the bottom of this. All you eager Gannon snipers get busy.

Way down at the bottom of this article from Rolling Stone comes this startling claim.
David Qualls, who joined the Arkansas National Guard for a year, is one of 40,000 troops in Iraq who have been informed that their enlistment has been extended until December 24th, 2031.
That's no typo. He's suing the government for breach of contract over it. This must be that "backdoor draft" I keep hearing about. "Backdoor draft", "hillbilly armor", it sounds kinda folksy. Next thing you know we'll have "double-wide economics". Living on credit cards.

John Kerry really needs to shut up. A Reuters headline about his backing the president's new "supplemental" spending request for the wars only serves to remind me what a lame candidate he was in the first place.

In one of those stories that make me glad to be a blogger, the US government has actually denied court ordered compensation to US soldiers who were tortured in Gulf War I. That's right. No money for tortured vets. You see, it would have to come from Iraq, and Iraq's our friend now, so they need that money more than some POW types. Not that there's any chance of the nearly $1 billion providing food, water, electricity or anything other than a bulge in some rich man's pocket.

CBS reports that some states are considering doing away with their gas taxes. This move is in response to the wiliness of some people driving unfairly fuel efficient cars. If you don't buy enough gas, the state road improvement fund runs dry. The gas tax would be replaced by a "tax by the mile" system that would require every car to have a gps locator to keep track of mileage. What could possibly go wrong??

Tonight on NPR's Fresh Air, Terry Gross was interviewing Boyden Gray, chairman and founder of the group Committee for Justice, which was formed to promote conservative judicial nominees. I can't get a transcript yet so I will paraphrase the very last exchange of the interview (audio link). Terry asked this guy if, since Bush didn't win the election by much, and he's been saying he wants to be a uniter not a divider, why not stop nominating the type of conservative justices the Democrats always fight. The guy answered that Bush won the election, the Republicans control the Congress, and he didn't see why they should offer concessions to the enemy. That's the word I want to talk about. Enemy.
Who is the enemy? When Boyden Gray talks about enemies, he probably means liberals, maybe Democrats in general. The President talks about enemies a lot. Anyone who isn't with him is against him, remember, so he may have plenty. This is all an extension of the basic human division between rural and urban. Nature rewards respect for tradition, so rural people are more traditional. City life rewards tolerance and the willingness to take risks, so urban people welcome new ideas. It's the basic compromise at the heart of our Constitution.
The Constitution says that no matter where you live, in Montana or in Massachusetts, you are an American. Republican or Democrat, Socialist or Libertarian, we are all working for a better America. Some people may have different ideas about what the problems are or how to fix them, that's ok. As the internet is proving, diversity of ideas is a good thing. The problem is this "enemy" thing. You don't seek compromise with an enemy. There's no point in discussing anything with "them", all "they" believe is a bunch of lies.
Doesn't America have enough enemies right now without making more?

February 15, 2005

Today is a good day

For those of you who enjoy those funny animations about the president, here's a site with a bunch of original ones. This parody of Monty Python's Quest For The Holy Grail is my favorite.

There's a followup on the Dubai Shopping Festival. The big prize, 100 kg of gold, was won by a 9 year old Indian girl. Her father works as a timekeeper at a local construction company. The family says the gold won't change anything.

The Talking Dog offers an insiders view of bankruptcy reform.
As regular readers know, one of my prior incarnations was as a consumer bankruptcy lawyer, at one time, working for a variety of lawyers that had me probably involved in more consumer bankruptcy cases than anyone in the New York area.
And in hundreds upon hundreds of cases, the grim scenarios were always the same: a job loss (sometimes, even just the loss of a part time second job), an illness or death of a breadwinner, divorce and its attendant after effects, or sometimes, just accumulation of debts from rising interest rates and flat incomes and rising living expenses.

Bankruptcy "reform" is simply a classic case of redistributive risk: from those most able to bear it, to those least. It's not merely bad, its downright evil.

As I mentioned before, Iraq is missing somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 billion dollars. That's the money that was supposed to rebuild the country. Now it becomes obvious why everything's still a mess. Someone went to the Dubai Shopping Festival. I guess if they won anything, they didn't put it back in the kitty. Now tell me again how there didn't need to be bidding on Iraq reconstruction contracts because Halliburton was the only company that could do the job. Did we really pay Halliburton $1.9 million to guarantee that? I guess since it's not our schools, hospitals, roads, phones, electricity, gasoline, etc. that didn't get paid for, why should we care. Oh, wait, they were overcharging the military for fuel, food, and laundry. Did I mention they get paid way more than the soldiers. That's ok, though, because privatization is the wave of the future. How else can we achieve Rumsfeld's vision of a lighter, faster military? Outsourcing? And isn't it pretty cool, in a gangsta sort of way, to hear about people getting to carry $2 million in wrapped bricks of hundreds. I guess inflation has struck the price of freedom. Surely it didn't used to cost $3.9 billion a month.

We apologise for the technical difficulties

Blogger doesn't seem to want to post my stuff right now. I'll just hope it shows up.

February 14, 2005

The Republican agenda: open and hidden

Most Americans believe in some form of creationism, according to a CBS poll conducted ahead of last November's election. 55% of Americans believed God created humans in their present form and a further 27% believed humans evolved, but God guided the process.
65% of all Americans favoured schools teaching creationism and evolution while 37% wanted creationism taught instead of evolution.
The poll found greater support for teaching creationism among Republican voters - 71% of Bush voters favoured teaching creationism alongside evolution.
Remember the headline asking how so many Americans could be stupid enough to reelect Bush? Here's part of the answer. The punch line is, the administration's plate is full with Iraq, Iran, Europe, Russia, you get the idea. Not in the homeland. The courts will rule on this and that will be the end of it. Bush won't get involved now that the election's over.

Speaking of other concerns, I would like to bring up some old news. Remember when G.W. was running the first time and we all said "He's going to be a puppet for someone, probably his daddy." Well, the real puppet master is called The Project For The New American Century.
Some of the signatories of the official Statement of Principles include William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Steve Forbes, I. Lewis Libby, Dan Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. It reads, in part:
we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles

If you think this sounds harmless, read further. A document titled Rebuilding America's Defences (pdf)
describes peace-keeping missions as 'demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations';
reveals worries in the administration that Europe could rival the USA;
says 'even should Saddam pass from the scene' bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently -- despite domestic opposition in the Gulf regimes to the stationing of US troops -- as 'Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has';
spotlights China for 'regime change' saying 'it is time to increase the presence of American forces in southeast Asia'. This, it says, may lead to 'American and allied power providing the spur to the process of democratisation in China';
calls for the creation of 'US Space Forces', to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent 'enemies' using the internet against the US;
hints that, despite threatening war against Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction, the US may consider developing biological weapons -- which the nation has banned -- in decades to come. It says: 'New methods of attack -- electronic, 'non-lethal', biological -- will be more widely available ... combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace, and perhaps the world of microbes ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool';
and pinpoints North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes and says their existence justifies the creation of a 'world-wide command-and-control system'.
There's all sorts of evil plans over at the PNAC website. If you want to get paranoid, you should check it out.

Here's some fine political cartoons from Cagle