Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We can rebuild it

This graphic (NY Times) is a bit hard to see here(click on it), but it is a telling portrait of American priorities in the reconstruction, or lack of, in New Orleans. Every metric of recovery shows that there has been little recovery.
  • Functioning homes and businesses: down by half.
  • Public school students: 80% down.
  • Number of open hospitals: 25% of the pre-Katrina number.
  • Restuarants and food stores: again 25% or less of pre-Katrina operations.
There is one activity that is thriving, though; even more so than before the hurricane:

Is this a great country or what?

Smells like ...

Normally not one who likes to slog through waste buckets like the New York Post, I would have missed this altogether except for the brave sacrifice that Billmon made in venturing there. He pointed to an hilarious op-ed by Ralph Peters that, frankly, had me rolling.

But we'll turn this into a fill in the blank exercise and see if we can figure out what country Peters is talking about. A few excerpts should serve the test:
______ doesn't have a government. It has a collection of warlords, demagogues and thieves with official titles.

If ______'s elected leaders won't stop looting their country long enough to pull together and defeat the foreign terrorists, internal insurgents and militias killing Iraqis, we should not ask our troops to defend them.

Above all, societies and cultures that refuse to accept responsibility for their own failures can't build democracies.

______ has behaved as irresponsibly as a drunk who won the lottery, squandering vast wealth and creating nothing beyond a few urban theme parks.

And the piece de resistance:
______ have condemned themselves to strategic incompetence. No society that ... indulges in fantastic hypocrisy, wallows in corruption, undervalues secular learning, reduces its god to a nasty disciplinarian and comforts itself with conspiracy theories will ever compete ....
Go on, take a guess.


I don't get it. Everyone seems to be stumping the "shocking" story today that the US government is funding groups in order to undermine the Chavez government in Venezuela. This is a surprise? US officials like Oliver North, Otto Reich and Elliot Abrams -- all former Iran-Contra shitcakes -- were otherwise involved in the failed coup attempt of Chavez in 2002. So now we learn that USAID is funding groups meant to destablize the leftist government of a South American nation. Hmm, does that sound at all strange?

Hardly. As far as Venezuela goes, we've known the Bush administration has been trying to do this. For years:
Venezuela coup linked to Bush team

The failed coup in Venezuela was closely tied to senior officials in the US government, The Observer has established. They have long histories in the 'dirty wars' of the 1980s, and links to death squads working in Central America at that time.

Washington's involvement in the turbulent events that briefly removed left-wing leader Hugo Chavez from power last weekend resurrects fears about US ambitions in the hemisphere.

It also also deepens doubts about policy in the region being made by appointees to the Bush administration, all of whom owe their careers to serving in the dirty wars under President Reagan.

One of them, Elliot Abrams, who gave a nod to the attempted Venezuelan coup, has a conviction for misleading Congress over the infamous Iran-Contra affair.
But on the larger scale, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), run by the National Security Council and now headed by Abrams, was employed in the 1973 coup in Chile. Furthermore, during the roaring '80s, NED, under Abrams' and North's tutelage,
supplied the sponsorship of regimes and death squads that followed it in Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and ... the Contras' rampage in Nicaragua.
US governments have been funding coups, death squads and brutal military regimes for sometime. No news here.

Please, we're Nazis

The myth of freedom and democracy in America took another hit today, when passengers on the same flight as Raed Jarrar demanded that he remove his offending ... t-shirt. The shirt bore -- in Arabic and English -- the words, We will not be silent, a phrase which, ironically enough, finds it provenance in the White Rose movement that opposed Nazi rule in Germany.

Passengers offended by a statement that opposed nazism were apparently unaware of what their offense implied.

Pony up

A couple of Republicans made the news today, oh boy. But these were not ones screeching about terrorism and how anyone who criticised them were Hitler-lovers. We'll no doubt be hearing much more of that with the elections looming but these were not the fun GOP stories of the day.

The fun began with Bill Frist (R-Tn), who apparently lied on his Tennessee state medical license renewal when he claimed he had fulfilled that state's 40 hr. medical education requirement. Perhaps Frist thought that secret basement cat-torturing exercises would qualify him for license renewal, but it would seem the doctor was wrong to assume this. A Frist spokesman -- just how many spokespeople one senator needs is still unclear -- assured us that Frist was "working to clear up the problem." I guess this is the sort of thing that happens when your accountant fills out papers that the doctor ought to be signing.

Oh, but the fun would not end there.

After being ousted from his position at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for political favouritism, among other transgressions of public office, Kenneth Tomlinson skulked back to his station overseeing the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, where he would continue the good fight by ensuring conservative values would be spread to the world without interference from meddling inspectors general. However, he has not been outside sight of the State Department, which has recently found that he has been using his taxpayer-funded office to conduct his own horse racing ring. Hilariously, one of Tomlinson's ponies was named Karzai, a name that certainly wouldn't lend much comfort to prospective betters; that horse has got to be lame.

I know, it's hard to believe that an upstanding Republican would abuse his government office and Tomlinson has said he has done nothing wrong and that the investigation was "inspired by partisan divisions." These are exactly the same things he said just before he was booted out of the CPB.

Gene pool

I can't believe I had missed this little item but Cernig refreshed this little article about George Bush's ancestry:
The US president's now apparent ancestor, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke - known as Strongbow for his arrow skills - is remembered as a desperate, land-grabbing warlord whose calamitous foreign adventure led to the suffering of generations.
But de Clare is not the worst of it:
The genetic line can also be traced to Dermot MacMurrough, the Gaelic king of Leinster reviled in history books as the man who sold Ireland for personal gain.
The apple, as they say, did not fall far from the tree.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Legal beagles

The Bush administration has argued that a non-declared "war" makes him a war president and that this "state of war" -- despite its undefined nature and lack of congressional decree -- has thus granted him unitary executive power. It is by this mechanism that Bush* would begin invading countries with only a slight nod from Congress, indefinitely imprison "enemy combatants," enact secret programs of extraordinary rendition, torture, warrantless wiretapping, broad-swath telecommunications surveillance, create a network of secret CIA prisons, and, well, who knows what else.

But recent court decisions have begun to pull on the constitutional reigns of a White House that believed that it had been unbridled by declamations of war. At least, the courts are trying to pull on those reigns. But the spate of recent court decisions and the arguments that government lawyers have been using in these cases (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, NSA wiretapping, the Padilla case) are beginning to make me wonder whether the Bush administration has not so completely denuded the Department of Justice of legal competence that there might be no one left there who actually knows anything about the law. In fact, they seem to know as much about the law as George Bush does, which, as anyone might imagine, is probably pretty scant. It would seen that legal competence, as in many other federal departments, has long since left the building.

Recently, a US District Court threw out at least one indictment against Jose Padilla brought by the US Attorney General's office, saying that the government had leveled multiple charges for the same crime.
There can be no question that the government has charged a single conspiracy offense multiple times, in separate counts, when in law and in fact, only one [alleged] crime has been committed.
And that,
The danger raised by a multiplicitous indictment is present in the instant indictment.
For all intents and purposes, it appears that the DoJ simply doesn't understand the basic precepts of the Constitution, proscribing, as that document does, the condition of "double jeopardy."

In yet another ruling, a federal judge found that the Bush administration has also violated law by ignoring scientific advice and enacting new rules that would allow harmful pesitcides easier entrance to the market. Reliving a common and oft-heard refrain:
The defeated policies had allowed political appointees and bureaucrats in the federal government to make unilateral decisions that ignored or contradicted research conducted by their own scientists.
This is certainly par for the Bush administration course. Reagan appointee, Judge John Coughenour wrote that, once again, the Bush administration ignored scientific opinion in the matter:
[T]he record does not reflect that the Services' approval, which ran counter to its scientists' consensus, was based on any science-based reason. Indeed . . . they were aware that the foregoing problems with the scope of EPA's inquiry had played a part in the registration of two chemicals known to have highly toxic effects.
But the apparent disregard or disdain for law seems not to be limited to George Bush's coterie of political hacks.

Indeed, it seems that George's little brother, Jeb, and his band of mirthless vote-riggers in Florida might very well have received "advice" from Bush's team of legal beagles in the DoJ, as a 2004 voter registration law also demonstrates that the Constitution is something to be ignored rather than observed. Yet another federal judge threw out the Florida law that would levy hefty fines against third party voter registration groups for the egregious crime of submitting voter registration forms late. In fact, the fines were so severe that voter registration groups had to stop all registration activity, a result that was as intended as it was unconstitutional.

The judge found the law violated free speech and "unconstitutionally discriminates" against third party voter registration groups, which are usually citizen organisation like the League of Women Voters.
If third-party voter registration organizations permanently cease their voter registration efforts, Florida citizens will be stripped of an important means and choice of registering to vote and of associating with one another.
Naturally, the office of the Secretary of Florida Voter Suppression has said they disagree and will appeal the decision.

Perhaps this is not so much legal incompetence as it is legal disinterest. Really, who needs competence in the DoJ when legalities are believed to be irrelevant; 9/11 changed everything. But try as they might, Bush* just hasn't quite figured out away around pesky judges always citing the Constitution whenever some egregious breech of it has spurred a lawsuit. And while unconstitutional programs that are claimed to be in the interests of "national security" have had a strong leg to stand on until recently, the White House still haven't figured out how to employ that tired line in efforts to deny Americans their voting rights and to further befoul the environment at the behest of private industry. But rest assured, they're working on it.

* Here "Bush" is simply shorthand for the neo-con cabal that peppers the Bush administration and is supported by enablers like Gonzales, Rice, Hayden, etc.

Post 911 Blues

This jaunty little riff comes via Suspect Paki.

MC Riz:

About a year ago ...

In remembrance of great leadership during a time of national crisis, an oldie but a goodie:

Air Force One, somewhere over the Mississippi Delta, Aug. 31, 2005 (UnCJ) - In an unusual break from his steadfast vacationing, President Bush had Air Force One fly over New Orleans and, from the comfort of an airborne sofa, immediately pronounced the city "wiped out." Local rescue officials slapped foreheads.

"D'oh! Is that the problem? Wow, without the keen eyes of the president watching over us, we might never have seen this. Thanks, George!"

People stranded on what remains of rooftops waved happily at the presidential aircraft after finally hearing what was wrong. Stricken residents could be overheard saying, "Damn, he's good!"

Much to the president's chagrin, the worst aspect of the disasterous flooding, collapsed buildings, dead bodies and floundering Americans seems to be that an amusement park was utterly destroyed by the hurricane. At one point, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said he thought it was "very sobering to see from the air."

Despite reports of widespread looting with some looters shooting at police -- a Wal-Mart was emptied of all firearms -- McClellan declared that "this is a time when all Americans need to come together and do all we can to support those in the Gulf state region." Whether this meant that the White House intends to deliver of more firearms to the region remains unclear.

True to his calling as a natural born leader, President Bush said that he would return to the nation's capital -- far, far away from the destruction and potentially lethal diseases that are expected -- in order that he can better serve the American people from the comfort of the Oval office.

[some of these facts supplied by CNN]

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stand up stand down

It doesn't appear that Bush's "stand up stand down" policy is working out very well.
A group of Iraqi soldiers refused to go to Baghdad to participate in the effort to restore order in the Iraqi capital....
And this doesn't exactly sound like unit cohesion to me. Brigadier General Dana Pittard says that the Iraqi troops, who are Shiite,
felt ... like they were needed down there in Maysan, in that province.
Chain of command apparently has an entirely different meaning among the Iraqi troops that US forces are training and that now the generals defer to troops based on how they feel about things. Can you imagine US troops telling their superiors what their deployment would be based on feelings and that US generals would say, oh, ok.

But the feeling of these Iraqi troops is entirely understable given that the Shiite militia of Moqtada-al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army, have been fighting Iraqi troops. Baghdad, we have a problem. US ambassador Khalilzad has said that the Iraqi government must move to disband the militias. But Prime Minister Maliki is unlikely to touch the Mahdi Army of al-Sadr because al-Sadr has 30 seats in parliament and close ties to Maliki. Given that Maliki will likely not condemn al-Sadr's militia, others most assuredly will not disband.

And while this seeminly intractable situation remains just that, American troops will continue to slog around Iraq, hoping not to get blown up, because George Bush doesn't want to look like a loser.

Mexico denied reality

Via Mercury Rising comes the grim yet entirely expected outcome that Mexico's electoral court has dismissed all complaints against the panoply of voting irregularities that have so far been evidenced. The court annulled 230,000 ballots from the recounted precincts (9% of the 130,000 precincts in Mexico) but still couldn't or wouldn't recognized the larger implications here.

Don't expect the Mexicans to take this lying down. They haven't so far.

A term of the equation

I wonder what term of the IDF''s dead civilian formula this is factored into:
Israel Defense Forces troops killed a 64-year-old man in Jenin on Sunday, it was released for publication Monday.

Palestinian sources said Monday that Sabri Khalil worked as a night watchman at a local school. After he shined his flashlight on a passing car, soldiers patrolling the city shot him in the chest, killing him.
An investigation is sure to follow. It will show how foolish the night watchman was for carrying a flashlight at night.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Equations of Death

Now that the deadly, bloody fighting of the Lebanese-Israeli conflict seems to have settled down and the criiticisms of the Israeli leadership are coming from the Israelis themselves (thought not for the reasons we'd like to see but rather that the Israeli forces weren't brutal enough), The Washington Post casts a paean to the Israeli leadership in an attempt to depict them as some body of conflicted souls who really, really feel the pain of every civilian death they cause. Or, at least, Blumenfeld paints former military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon as a man of conscience, which he may well be. As for the rest of them, especially head of Shin Bet, Avi Dichter, they come across as mindless in their approach to the conflict.

But I wonder if the Israeli leadership hear how they sound when some of their consideration in the program of "targeted killing" involves this sort of reasoning:
They also asked a mathematician to write a formula to determine acceptable civilian casualties per dead terrorist.
Admittedly, a difficult task that. Determining an acceptable kill ratio is something the Israelis have apparently never quite figured out and, indeed, this is admitted:
How many civilian casualties were acceptable? The mathematician whom the military had enlisted had failed to produce a formula.
I'd like to know who this so-called "mathematician" was, but one thing is clear, he couldn't have been very good. Wasn't this "formula" in eight grade algebra?

I apologise for the facetious tone but how else can one respond to such absurdity? Either the Israeli leadership thinks that engaging such calculus portrays them as empathic or they're simply nuts. Is it not obvious that there is no such fucking formula?

Voting for sin

Ghastly no-hoper Katherine Harris furthered the no-hope status of her dreary run for the US Senate, offering nothing but embarrassment for herself, Florida and the country in general. And she did all that by appealing to what she thought was her "base."

In an interview with Florida Baptist Weekly this past week, Harris is quoted as saying that separation of Church and State in America is a "lie we have been told" (by Thomas Jefferson, I guess) and that "God is the one who chooses our leaders." The logical chasm evident in the conflicting systems of electoral process and divine selection was not reconciled by Harris.

She further buried herself in a steaming heap of Christianist rhetorical dung by admonishing voters who refused to enact the Reconstructionist agenda:
If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin.
Of course, this didn't sit well with the sizeable Jewish community in the state and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) called Harris' comments "disgusting."

Naturally enough, Harris found herself in a hole of her own digging and, in having to "clarify" her comments, offered the excuse the she had been "speaking to a Christian audience," which apparently means that her words of righteousness were not meant for public consumption.

Harris continues to be an embarrassment to Republicans in Florida and more generally, as though the GOP doesn't have enough idiots spouting out bigoted, racist nonsense. Though some in the GOP may actually hold the views espoused by Harris -- may? hell, we know they do -- they have to disown the stupidty of Harris if for only the fact that public statements like this are still recognised as bad form. While the GOP claims to be "the party of America," lately we have been treated to some public exposure of just what kind of America they really mean, despite decorum's approbation of it.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Shakes on a Plane

The unnecessary anxiety that has been created by the UK "liquid bomb plot" certainly manifested itself yesterday, as a host of "security incidents" were raised in a single day. Of course, when one of those incidents involved actually finding a stick of dynamite onboard, tensions seem unlikely to be assuaged anytime soon, which suits Republicans just fine. but that incident bespoke more of the fact that airport security is mostly a sham because the dynamite was not discovered until after the airplane landed in Houston. Fortunately for Howard McFarland Fish, he is a white guy and so authorities believed him when he said he worked in mining, which apparently carries with it a need to carry around sticks of dynamite in luggage. His claim was no doubt also helped by the fact that Fish did not employ the dynamite during the flight. One must pause in thought when considering how a Muslim would have been treated in similar circumstances. Not well, I expect.

As was pointed out earlier, these terror plot annoucements, whether based in fiction or fact, have an overarching effect on the general state of mind. And they have this effect primarily because, while the initial announcement comes with blaring headlines, screaming graphics, bomb-sniffing dogs and days of frantic coverage, the almost inevitable renouncement that the plot was maybe not quite the plot that had been initially claimed or that the "threat" was, in fact, not a threat at all, the follow-up coverage is miniscule, buried in the back pages, if it is covered at all.

Take, for example, the story of Rima Qayyum, the 28 year old pregnant Pakistani woman whose bottle of water and face wash caused airport security to evacuate the Tri-state airport in West Virginia. This "event" was blared across headlines. Naturally, within the realm of the unhinged, guilt before reason prevailed, with some fanatic right wingers immediately pronouncing the woman a terrorist,
Another Terrorist Nabbed ... Looks like another would-be "martyr" got pwned....
Not content with that missive, the diatribe continued in the harshest of terms,
I sincerely hope this f-ing b*tch receives the roughest treatment possible while in custody, and, eventually, the harshest sentence possible (like, death). If it were up to me, I'd have a couple of good ol' boys going to work on her with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch right skippy.
This is from a sight called College Confidential, demonstrating how liberal policies in US universities have really infected college kids these days.

Follow-up of the story has been non-existent after it was soon learned that initial tests of the suspect materials proved negative. At this point, though, the fright had been furthered, the racism escalated.

Shortly after the incident in West Virginia, US air marshalls delivered the next fright in the series when 12 passengers, flying from Amsterdam to Mumbai, viewed by marshalls who determined that these passengers' actions demonstrated "behaviour of concern." The airline crew called in, and two Dutch F-16s escorted the plane back to Schiphol Airport. It is not entirely clear just what the F-16s would do should the putative terrorists have exacted a deadly plot to blow up the plane, but that is not the concern here. The concern is appearance and F-16s always make for a great show.

Once again, the fright had been amped up, the follow-up non-existent, except in news media in Asia. The 12 passengers have been released and returned to Mumbai. Dutch authorities have apologised for the "misunderstanding." Interestingly, while air marhalls had claimed that the passengers refused to buckle their seat belts, it now appears that some of the passengers were merely exchanging seats, not refusing to buckle up. Mohammad Iqbal Batliwala, one of the passengers, was rather gracious, claiming that the misunderstanding caused US air marshalls the jitters:
We were wearing seat belts... but wanted to exchange our seats, which made them jittery.
The Indian government, however, appears to be a little less inclined toward being assuaged by Dutch contrition. The Indian government summoned the Dutch ambassador to protest the incident, saying that it "should never have happened," something that appears to be entirely true. The men had been handcuffed on the plane and kept in solitary cells until released, all for the crime of speaking while being Muslim. Oh, and shifting around the seating arrangements.

The salient media aspect of this incident is the same as all the other ones: since the initial reports in the western media about the Northwest flight being diverted back to Amsterdam, there has been no follow-up story in western media that these "terrorists" had been released, their treatment apologized for. The Asian and Indian press are all over it, of course, but to US media outlets, the only interesting aspect of the story was the initial fright. Indeed, can one even imagine the headline,
12 Indian passengers not terrorists
Not really, unless one happens to be reading The Onion.

The entire incident was manufactured by a fog of fear and while that was trumped up, there was no clearing of that fog. And there never will be. Those of us interested to learn what the final disposition of the liquid bomb plot will be probably expect much of the same, as the investigation drags, producing little or nothing in the way of significant evidence. Though charges have been filed against some of the "plotters," this is nothing that has not happened before, as was seen in the case of the non-existent "Ricin plot."

What we can expect to see is a continued parade of panic attacks by airport security officials, air marshalls and other authorities that will receive klieg light attention by the media, which will then ignore the subsequent and likely unexciting outcome of the initial scare. All of this will nurture and feed racist suspicion and distrust. It will enrage further the maniacal outlook of the extremist right wing, who will continue to advocate torture of pregnant Pakistani women because they brought "explosive liquids" to an airport. Is there anyway to look at this depressing pattern and not see a problem?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Temperature rising

No, it has not quite hit Farhenheit 451 yet, but hotted up security in UK airports now have banned books -- not all books, just certain scary ones -- and will confiscate particular offending materials, as proscribed by ... well, it's not quite certain who exactly is making these insane-based decisions.

Craig Murray has related that someone intending to bring Murray's book, Murder in Samarkand, on his flight had it confiscated by airport security:
“Is that about terrorism?”, asked the lady that examined my onboard luggage. “Humm, well, it contains mentions of that, but it’s about your former ambassador to Uzbekistan and more about diplomacy”, I replied politely. “Does it have al-Qaida in it?” I looked a bit confused. “What?” - “Well, I have to check this with my manager, the rest of your stuff is fine, though.”

The manager then came after a minute or two. “Hello Sir, can you tell me about this book?” “Sure, it is about Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan.” “Where, if I may ask, did you buy this book?” - “Well, it is available at any Waterstones here in Britain. I just bought my copy in the Angel branch yesterday.”

“I am afraid you cannot take this onboard, Sir.”
There is now zero distance between the act of learning about the things our governments are doing and terrorism. I know we have a word for this....

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Once again, with feeling

It appears that the Israel-Lebanon conflict won't be parlayed into a large scale military effort against Syria and Iran. At least it doesn't look that way so far, considering that the Israeli effort was meant as a "dry run" for any Iranian engagement, as it was reported Cheney believed. And with the fruitless neo-con effort of trying to justify attacks on Tehran via the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, it now appears that the PNAC-ers have tacked back onto the Iranian nuclear program as the only go-to option in their desire to raze Tehran.

Apropos of this, today saw the horrific sight of both The Washington Post and The New York Times once again coddling neo-con war mongering, only this time they were channeling GOP frustration with intelligence agencies about Iran, not Iraq. Seemingly unaware of their own complicity in the Iraq WMD fiasco, when neo-cons both within and without the White House demanded fealty of the intelligence community toward their demand for intelligence that would justify their pre-ordained attack on Baghdad, WaPo and NY Times both laddled up the same tired brew of GOP "frustration" about intelligence regarding Iranian weapons programs.

Despite the fact the IAEA has never found evidence of an Iranian "nuclear weapons program," even after three years of investigation and inspection, the Grey Lady and whatever WaPo is have both deemed that some mid-level Republican staffer report -- a "stinging critique" as WaPo calls it -- worthy of front page news coverage. In fact, the report doesn't seem to be much at all, relying as it does on "publicly available documents," and none who worked on it had even spoken directly intelligence officials.

Calling this a report is probably a misnomer; it has the tone and appearance of a transcribed Republican gripe session about how their latest "casus belli" is not being supported by the intelligence community. Imagine the gall of those intelligence folks after being pounded for not producing Iraq WMD intelligence, and then being blamed for what came mostly out of the Office of Special Plans while their own reports offered caveats, caveats that were summarily ignored, downplayed and even redacted. Why, how can these people not want to go through all that again?

Admittedly, WaPo's article is more subtly circumspective, including as it does lines like,
[the report] chides the intelligence community for not providing enough direct evidence to support that assertion.
Which is the familiar refrain from the last round of WMD scare stories: spare us the facts and give us what we want to hear. But in the Iraq WMD tale, Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon subverted much of the circumspection being offered by other agencies. While the CIA had issued cautions and expressed significant doubts over and over about the White House yellow cake stories and frightful tales of deadly aluminum tubes, and Al Qaeda ties to Baghdad, the White House downplayed these and hype up the speculation. They did this with a redacted form of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2002, a document that had been whipped together in a matter of three months and then only after Congress had requested one.

Annoyingly, both of these stories offer up the traditional White House line that it had been the intelligence agencies that had got Iraq WMD all wrong, when just the opposite was true. It was the White House that got it wrong and they did so because they wanted to get it wrong. The facts were not cooperating and so were discarded, or rather, "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

And now, both The Washington Post and the New York Bloody Times is giving a bullhorn to the same neo-con campaign that lied us into the Iraq war. That these major media outlets would allow themselves to be used, once again, as propaganda outlets for the neo-con war machine is to the shame of both themselves and this country. Have they learned nothing?

Back of the Bus

Sometime ago, "black libertarian" and radio commentator, Larry Elder, aka The Sage from the South, made a rather astonishing claim when he said that "there is no racism in America." He did this on national television. No doubt this came as a surprise to many people, but sage Larry seemed convinced that America had purged itself of its historical bigotry.

Well, I wonder what the Sage from the South thinks about this:
Black students ordered to give up seats to white children

Nine black children attending Red River Elementary School were directed last week to the back of the school bus by a white driver who designated the front seats for white children.
Meanwhile, down in Lousisana, proposals are moving forward considering renaming Red River Parish, to a name more representative of local attitudes.

Flag day afternoon

I'll bet you didn't know that it is illegal to display foreign flags in Colorado public schools. Well, it is, and a grade 7 social studies teacher just found out. The hard way:
A Jefferson County geography teacher was placed on paid administrative on the second day of school for hanging several flags from other countries in his classroom.

Eric Hamlin said the flags were part of a world geography lesson plan at Carmody Middle School and refused to take them down. The school's principal escorted Hamlin out of class Wednesday morning after he refused to remove the flags of China and Mexico.
[via Think Progress]

Armor All

Just when you might have thought Christianist whack-jobs couldn't get any whackier, they always manage a surprise. And so we are greeted with a telling sign of this with Armor of God pajamas for crusading tikes. The "girls set" comes complete with Joan of Arc body cross, Madre de Dios headgear and a puffy, comforting shield of "Faith." The "boys set," while appearing to lack an actual heretic-smiting sword of justice, also come with its own 11th century, crusade-style helmut head sock.

Boys and girls can re-enact their very own Spanish Inquisition or crusade of their choosing, though the Children's crusade is recommended. And remember, nothing says "disturbed childhood" like a pair of Armor of God pjs.*

* Sorry, just google it. I can't bring myself to link to this.

Anger is an energy

Alaskan insurgents have booted Frank Murkowski in his re-election bid for governor. This appears to be the beginning of another voter incumbent purge and that the state seems to have grown tired of the Alaskan political cosa nostra, detailed on these pages awhile ago. Murkowski finished dead last in the GOP primary and all I can say is good riddence, as have Alaskans tired of Murkowski's nepotism, among other political transgressions. One voter indicates that Murkowski has become universally reviled in the state:
I've lived here all my life, and I've been politically active since I was a little kid, and I've never seen outright anger and hostility toward a politician like I've seen against Frank Murkowski.
Keep it coming!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Fog of Terror

DefenseTech links us to an article by Ohio State's John Mueller in the upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs wherein he argues that the terrorist threat within the United States is almost nil.
The massive and expensive homeland security apparatus erected since 9/11 may be persecuting some, spying on many, inconveniencing most, and taxing all to defend the United States against an enemy that scarcely exists.
Mueller's argument appears sound enough but, in our current political climate, this is a reality that neither the White House nor the media want to acknowledge. In fact, it suits their purposes to hype up a near non-existent threat whenever possible, as we've seen with the latest liquid bombs on a plane threat. This is being promulgated by policies we now have that will detain people for looking funny. Of course, the media always loves a good scare; why look, CNN is so committed to keeping Americans scared shitless, they've got a big new scary show called In the Footsteps of bin Laden on tonight.

Ignore the eggheads and don't forget to crap your pants.

Salon, please explain

After telling Salon to screw off awhile back, their shameful editorial position regarding the copius evidence of Republican vote rigging in 2004 simply too much to tolerate anymore, I finally got around to reading the article, Salon's Shameful Six. That the article even exists is a sign that perhaps the editors were swinging toward reality and the tale contained therein is dire indeed.

The documented efforts by Republican-dominated state bureaucracies and legislatures in Indiana, Arizona, California, Missouri, and of course, our old friends in Ohio and Florida, are stunning enough and the common theme throughout has been new legislative requirements in these states of photo-IDs for voter registration. The tale of 79 year old Theresa Clemente serves up a taste of what many voters can expect when trying to obtain a state-sanctioned ID:
Take the never-ending bureaucratic maze Theresa Clemente, a 79-year-old Fort Wayne resident born in Massachusetts, has been forced to navigate. An Indiana resident for 15 years, she'd never had a driver's license when she moved to the state to live near her son. So when she learned that the state required a state-issued photo I.D. to vote, her husband drove her down to the delay-plagued Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get a photo I.D. On her first visit, she brought her Social Security card, her voter registration card, two bills and a credit card, but that wasn't good enough. She had to return three more times, with BMV drones telling her successively she needed a copy of her birth certificate, then a $28 state-certified birth certificate from Massachusetts, and finally a marriage certificate because her birth certificate listed only her maiden name -- although all her various I.D.s carried the married name she has used for 53 years.
Apparently, Americans trying to vote in Indiana will have a far harder time of it than purple-fingered Iraqis ever did. Other tales seem even worse, as veterans with VA medical identification were told that their id cards were insufficient to prove voter eligibility.

But despite copious testimony by voting experts and voter rights advocates and overt statements within the article itself that Republicans, desperate in the lead-up to November's election given the poll numbers lately, have passed these laws specifically to disenfranchise voters of traditional Democratic groups, the article still makes one of the single most bizarre statements that I have ever seen regarding the Ohio election. It seems Salon editors just can't appear to shift their position, so solidly have they staked themselves to it:
While the allegation that Blackwell helped "steal" the election from John Kerry is debatable, the view that he intentionally suppressed voting by Democratic-leaning groups is less controversial.
Less controversial. Well, that's a start. Editors seem to allow that Blackwell suppressed the vote in Democratic districts but not that he "helped steal the election." I would like Salon to explain how helping "steal" the election and efforts that "intentionally supressed" the vote are in any way different.

The rest of the article does indeed paint a grim picture for November. And despite various grassroots groups across the country resisting the installation of hackable Diebold et al. machines, the new laws are something that are tough to fight. There are some lawsuits seeking injunctive measures against them but I don't have much hope that these efforts will prevail. This is a multi-front assault on the voting rights of the poor, the dispossessed, and other minority groups.

Remember this when those election totals in November don't quite work out the way the polls are indicating they should. And then, I wonder if Salon will wake up to what is really going on.

World Wide Wiretap

Joe Cannon has a fascinating piece about regarding the recent deaths of two telecom experts, a Greek and an Italian, who had apparently uncovered secretly installed software in cell phones and in the controlling network and that this had apparently been done with full complicity of Vodafone and Ericsson, manufacturer of the phones on which the malware was discovered.

An early snippet should pique your attention to check out the whole piece:
Last month, Italian telecommunications security expert Adamo Bove either lept or was pushed from a freeway overpass; he left no note and had no history of depression. Last year (March, 2005), Greek telecommunications expert Costas Tsalikidis met with a similarly enigmatic end. Both had uncovered American attempts to eavesdrop on government officials, anti-war activists, and private businessmen.
The Vodaphone complicity sounds similar to that of US telecom companies like AT&T, which had allowed the installation of the NSA's own call routing equipment in various AT&T operations centers around the country, as revealed by AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein back in May. Though this effort appeared centered on the server side, i.e. slurping phone calls coming into the hub.

Phone manufacturer Ericsson's position in this appears to be an admission that the code is there, but that they told Vodaphone and that it was their decision whether Vodaphone use it or not. Of course, the question remains: what other companies have this "built-in feature" and are they using it?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cheney's remaining US investment

Firestarter5 asked a question in a previous post about who of the neo-cons has stock in Halliburton. Well, we certainly know that Cheney does. In 2005, his 433,333 stock options soared by 3,281%. Now, Cheney says he has "pledged" the proceeds to charity. Yeah, and did you also know that the insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes"? I hope this so-called "charity" isn't counting on Cheney's word on this. Unless, of course, it is a charity run in the mold of Tom DeLay's "charitable organisations."

Halliburton's government contracting has increased by 600% under the Bush/Cheney administration and was the fastest growing contractor between 2000 and 2005. The stock did drop, although lately it has recovered and leveled out, as this five year plot shows (vertical scale is compressed compared to the Cheney stock options value graph):

No doubt this is due to the fact that Halliburton has raked in about it is going to from US government contracts in Iraq, unless Bush keeps all those troops over there for as long as he can -- and he certainly intends on doing that. KBR will then keep pulling in some change.

As far as other of Cheney's neo-con cohorts, well, not much is readily apparent. I'm certain that any investment in Halliburton by these others is probably well-veiled.

Feeling a bit of a draft

Is there a kinder, gentler way to say, "backdoor draft"?
President George W. Bush authorized the Marine Corps to issue involuntary recall orders to members of the Individual Ready Reserve, part of the non-active force.

The U.S. Marine Corps will start recalling thousands of inactive service members in the coming months to counter a steady decline in the number of non-active troops volunteering for duty.
It seems Bush will be able to keep feeding the meat grinder in Iraq without ever needing to call for an official draft, something the GOP are loathe to do. Given how unpopualr the war is right now, an actual draft would be a political death knell. But Bush has got 35,000 Marines who can be yanked over there at a moments notice; plenty of IED fodder until he's gone. And then the next commander-in-chief will get to deal with that mess. Just like Bush promised.

The behaviour displayed by this administration toward the troops -- -- inadequate armour, VA budget cuts, bureacuratic abuse of the injured upon return, shuttering Walter Reed mostly because its proximity probably made Bush a tad squimish and, of course, the stop-loss orders -- will have some serious long term consequences for the US military. This is not a hard conclusion to come by and many others have already come to it, as both Murtha and Hagel have said the treatment of the soldiers, both directly and as a result of a grinding, undefined mission, is killing the military. Unfortunately, no one wants to really understand what these guys mean by this. But military men are the first ones to understand what this kind of treatment will mean in the long run.

Which is possibly why the Bush administration seems hell bent on creating more poor people. They know that, after dicking over the grunts both on the combat field and over medical treatment back home, they have pretty much sunk any reputation the military might have had as a viable career path option. Think of the Bush policy poverty-inducement programs as another form of "involuntary recall." The beauty of it is that it will have the appearance of looking entirely voluntary.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

And Christmas is coming early for Virginia voters as they continue to enjoy the fruits of George Allen's unruly mouth.

The adage, "words have consequences," is now proving itself to George Allen. Especially when those words include ones like, "macaca":
In an election for the United States Senate in Virginia today, 8/21/06, incumbent Republican George Allen edges Democrat challenger James Webb 48% to 45%, according to an exclusive SurveyUSA poll conducted for W*USA-TV in Washington, DC.

Since an identical SurveyUSA poll released 6/28/06, Allen has lost 8 points and Webb has gained 8 points. Allen's lead has shrunk from 19 points to 3 points.

Interviewing for this poll began 8/18/06, one week after Allen singled out a Webb campaign worker at an Allen rally. Allen has lost support across all demographic groups, but in particular, among younger voters. He has gone from Plus 23 to Minus 17, a swing of 40 points. In Southeastern VA, Allen has gone from a 2:1 lead to a tie, a 31-point swing.
Keep talking, George, just keep talking....

Putting the con in Neocon

Shelter from the Storm (via OpEd News) has an interesting post about how major neocon players are diversifying their interests, i.e. bugging out and buying fancy real estate elsewhere should the whole "benevolent global hegemony" thing not actually work out according to fantasy. And, at this point, it seems fairly obvious that the fantasy will remain just that.

Cheney is buying up European bonds and dumping US dollar investments, Michael Ledeen has a lovely villa in Italy, Douglas "fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth" Feith appears to be not quite so stupid with his business dealings and investments in Europe and the Far East and Richard Perle, after villifying the French over their resistance to the Iraqi invasion, is now looking at a pleasant retirement home in Provence.

Assess these actions with a view to Paul Craig Roberts lastest article about the US economy. It is a grim picture and the neocons know it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hezbollah v. FEMA

Apropos of the upcoming Hurricane Katrina anniversary, there are a couple of notable things on tap. One is Spike Lee's documentary, When the Levees Broke, on HBO Aug. 21-22. And Ted Rall has a great article contrasting the reported efficacy of Hezbollah damage assessment and restoration work now ongoing in Lebanon versus FEMA and the continuing debacle down in New Orleans. To call it embarrassing does not do justice to the national shame that we have allowed this Bush administration to heave upon us.

A major US city still lies in waste, FEMA dumps millions into Bush-friendly corporations, a crony operation that has been described as "downright criminal," and ignores stuggling local businesses. Meanwhile, within one day of the cease fire, Hezbollah began removing debris, cleaning roads and villages, assessing damage and ... helping residents in the aftermath of the war. This country should be enraged by this White House's criminal negligence and disaster profiteering. The next time Republicans mention that they are the party of "national security," ask them, for whom?

Never mind the boo

So, how's that "terror plot" investigation going? The answer is, it ain't, which is about as well as anyone skeptical of the Bush administration had expected. Via Mercury Rising comes this item:
The Briton alleged to be the "mastermind" behind the airline terror plot could be innocent of any significant involvement, sources close to the investigation claim.

Rashid Rauf, whose detention in Pakistan was the trigger for the arrest of 23 suspects in Britain, has been accused of taking orders from Al Qaeda�s "No3" in Afghanistan and sending money back to the UK to allow the alleged bombers to buy plane tickets.

But after two weeks of interrogation, an inch-by-inch search of his house and analysis of his home computer, officials are now saying that his extradition is "a way down the track" if it happens at all.

It comes amid wider suspicions that the plot may not have been as serious, or as far advanced, as the authorities initially claimed.
Really? Because that hardly ever happens. I'm sure this won't matter to the bedwetters, who seem more than happy to soil themselves every time Bush says boo!

The less-than-imminently threatening appearance of this "plot," which is beginning to take on the same fanciful aura that the Miami "aspirational" connivance demonstrated, is causing airlines now to issue ultimata to the UK government to ease the ridiculous security proceedures put in place for a plot that was never a threat to air travelers. Security officials are refusing to back down from the heightened security and, despite the fact this particular plot was nowhere near any sort of execution phase and that the plot announcement and arrests have resulted in no charges and two released suspects, these officials appear to be do nothing but saving face. In fact, as the "liquid bomb" aspect of the story is beginning to look fanciful, officials also know the timing of the arrests was a convenience and had nothing to do with the progress of the plot itself, the White House having been in argument with British intelligence about when to conduct the arrests. Arrest early, arrest often is now the operating procedure, even if it only leads to a 2% conviction rate -- convictions that are usually unrelated to terrorist activity.

Behaving like this is wholly irresponsible, reprehensible and wastes enormous time. It only stokes the fires of ethnic tension. Craig Murray calls this "harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale." Because once the arrests are announced -- always to great fanfare -- the near inevitable aquittals rarely recieved the same attention. In fact, they don't. All the public hears is about all those Muslims getting arrested.

But the fiction that heightened security in the face of, well, almost nothing, must be maintained. I would think Brits would be getting sick of this nonsense, but, in fact, racial tension, as manufactured by these security scares, has begun to have its expected dire effects as two Asian Muslims were tossed off a plane by an angry "mob" of white people who simply demanded the Muslims be removed. There was no reason for demand other than appearance.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary John Reid continues to apply that balm that police investigation of the plot is "moving forward," and considering that many had begun to wonder why no charges had yet been issued 10 days or more after the arrests, eleven suspects have now been charged. Of course, remember the hoopla about this and then remember the convicton rate.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Israel's unilateralism

Hardly anyone expected the UN cease-fire to last long between Israel and Hezbollah and Israel's blatant violation of the agreement was no surprise. They said they would do what they wanted and they did. The raid's effectivesness, of course, is hardly part of the equation. Accountability, too, is not a feature of Israeli foreign policy, mimicking as it does, Bush's own transgressions against international law. Hezbollah and Lebanon also appears well into violating the agreement, as The Osterely Times has noted. The Lebanese army was supposed to disarm Hezbollah as part of the cease-fire and not only are they refusing to so, but officers are advising Lebanese troops that "support for the resistance" is military doctrine.

But the madness, it seems, is not limited to reigniting the fighting in Lebanon, for Israeli forces have just abducted the Palestinian deputy prime minister, bursting into his home Saturday morning. Nasser Shaer now shares jail cells with eight cabinet ministers and a some 24 members of the Palestinian Authority parliament, along with 10,000 other Palestinians. Palestinians have little recourse in the matter, as Israel stomps about at will with apparently little restraint. The abduction of Shaer, considered to be a moderate and a "pragmatist," will certainly serve to alienate and radicalize him. There are reasons to do this if Israel's goal is to avoid future talks and act unilaterally. At this point, it seems clear that everything Israel is doing is designed for just this purpose.

Since Hamas' election victory, Israel and the US have been trying to undermine the government and Israel's initial raid on Gaza came just as the Fatah party and Hamas were consolidating an inter-party agreement, with Hamas apparently ready to reconsider its long-held position against the state of Israel, as it had been required to do in order to achieve "legitimacy" in the international arena. In the twisted weltanschaaung of the Cheney administration, this sort of agreement was entirely untoward, as a mitigated Hamas position would then actually produce "someone to talk to," which the Israelis have said was lacking with a radical Hamas government. What better way to remove the threat of negotiation than to simply round up the government -- especially the "pragmatists" -- and toss them in the can? Suddenly, and once again, there's "no one to talk to."

Do yer thang

I sure know the difference between wrong and right.
-- Do your thing, Montgomery Gentry
Troy Lee Gentry, of the country singing duo Montgomery Gentry, has been accused of killing a tame black bear that federal officials say he tagged as killed in the wild.

Authorities allege that Gentry purchased the bear from Greenly, a wildlife photographer and hunting guide, then killed it with a bow and arrow in an enclosed pen on Greenly's property in October 2004.

Gentry allegedly paid about $4,650 for the bear, named Cubby. The bear's death was videotaped, and the tape later edited so Gentry appeared to shoot the animal in a "fair chase" hunting situation....

What wingnuts see

The truth, exposed.

Party of one

Party unity has been a trademark of the modern GOP, as embodied by Newt Gingrich's efforts in the Contract with America, an effort long lost amidst the rampant K Street corruption racket headed up by Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff's circle of friends. It was a unity that demanded party loyalty and a singular message. It has been a spectacularly successful strategy on the political front, in spite of an obvious inability, distinterest or, as some would argue, even hostility toward proper governance by Republicans.

Which is why the sight of the GOP deserting their own candidate in favour of backing Joe Lieberman in the upcoming Connecticut Senate race is rather ... curious. It is not at all surprising, but it is curious. And I cannot help but wonder if we're seeing a breakdown of party discipline in the face of overwhelming public disatisfaction with Republican rule. Given that Alan Schlesinger appears to have almost no chance of winning, Republicans were not disposed toward challenging Lieberman, as he had proved himself a reliable a supporter of the Iraq fiasco. But Schlesinger is not at all happy that his own party is poised to fully back Lieberman and abandon him to the spectacle of ignominy that will come from the GOP's support of the "independent" Lieberman.

I have to give Schlesinger credit here. He seems to grasp exactly what is going on:
Washington and the media have attempted to hijack this election and turn it into a referendum on the future of the national Democratic Party. Their interest is not in electing a Republican in Connecticut, or anyone in particular in Connecticut.
Well, that last statement is not quite correct. The GOP want Lieberman, a reliable toady who still has a very good chance of winning in November. To bad for Schlesinger that he is the first victim of a Republican party that is sweating their bad poll numbers and will now choose to back a "centrist" Democrat over their own candidate. This is probably an ill-considered move on the part of the GOP because it will send a rather poor message to other struggling Republican no-hopers: if you're not going to win, we don't know you.

We've often heard that the Democrats might be in danger of breaking up into two factions, those "centrists" who are happy with the status quo and those who are actually Democrats (some would argue that the Dems already are busted up and that they just don't it). But this political blunder could convey some serious repercussions for the GOP, who cannot now been seen as a party of all for one and one for all. GOP fractionation is entirely conceivable now, something that would have unheard of until only recently.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sweet Dreams are made of these

An ardent George Bush supporter cranks up a GE M134 Vulcan Minigun,
capable of pumping out 4,000 - 6,000 rounds of hot lead per minute.

"When I go to sleep tonight, I'll dream of towel heads splattering all over the place."

David Holthouse has a fascinating -- in that car crash kind of way -- terrifying story about a visit to Kentucky's Knob Creek machine gun shoot fest, an event that it fast demanding attendance for a burgeoning population of righteous neo-nazis. The only question for them seems to be who to start "splattering" first: blacks, Mexicans, Arabs or Jews.

Not so Young after all

When civil rights leader, trade union advocate and former UN ambassador Andrew Young stepped in to become a high-paid shill for Wal-mart, it was obvious that his once-lofty status as a statesman plunged to an everyday low. Or so it seemed until Young uttered some rather bigoted and inflammatory remarks that even Wal-mart recognised as offensive. When answering a question about whether Wal-mart forced "mom and pop" stores out of business, he not only acknowledged it but praised the effect on racial grounds:
Well, I think they should; they ran the 'mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood.

But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores.
Well, howling was sure to follow. And it did. Young was subsequently pummeled by outraged groups and the Wal-mart advocacy group he worked for, who were stunned by such overt bigotry from a man whom one might think a little more atuned to "saying the right thing." And now he is gone, having just resigned amidst a cloud of uproar about the bigotry of a man who should know better.

This is clearly not the kind of "image-building" Wal-mart was looking for: people already know they're bigoted. Young was hired to help change that image, not reinforce it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I was born a poor black child

Speaking of George Bush impressionism, one of the more callous and manipulative impressions has always been what a regular guy Dub is. This impression was mostly attained through his Texas drawl and a notable inability to speak well. This, we would be told, appealed to regular folk; no high falutin' talk 'round these parts.

Bush was a man's man, beer buddy, brush humper, a real ropin' and ridin' 'Merkan. He was everything middle America could love and nothing like those ghastly, elitist Washinton bubble people with their smarmy, latte-slurpin', New York Times-readin' accents. And he became just such a beacon for an upstanding, wholesome middle America, of course, by growing up with Yale sweater clinging to his pudgy little torso.

Dumbing down

Psychotic Patriot supplied this graphic ... uh, graphic to accompany one of assrocket's more infamous statements of yore:
It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.
Indeed, Bush appears to be nothing but a political impresssionist, relying as he has on image rather than ability. But there Israeli/Lebanon conflict has caused some ire in the fetid swamps of what now appears to be a moribund right wing blogostan. There is now some definite conflict within Powerline's power structure as paly Paul Mirengoff has this to offer regarding the UN cease-fire:
Over at NRO's corner, John Podhoretz contends that this would mean the end of the Olmert government. I'm tempted to suggest that our government, having seemingly lost its will to oppose (or even to let others oppose) our deadliest enemies, deserves the same fate.
From genius to chump in just a few short months. How does that happen? Maybe George has been hiding in the basement of the West Wing, gulping buckets of lead paint, his brilliance now all but washed away. What a shame.

Shelling continues apace

Let's see, Iraq is ablaze with sectarian violence, Lebanon is a shambles, Gaza is still under assault, US and Israeli sabres continue to rattle over Iran and now:
Turkey and Iran have dispatched tanks, artillery and thousands of troops to their frontiers with Iraq during the past few weeks in what appears to be a coordinated effort to disrupt the activities of Kurdish rebel bases.

Scores of Kurds have fled their homes in the northern frontier region after four days of shelling by the Iranian army. Local officials said Turkey had also fired a number of shells into Iraqi territory.

But, by all means, we must stay the course.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Paul Hipp strikes protest gold with an updated version of a Dylan classic. Must see teevee:
Sub-Iraqian Homesick Blues.

Snakes + Plane

The highly-hyped Snakes on a Plane begins tomorrow. Who knows if it will be any good, but the lead up has certainly been interesting. This is probably the first movie whose popularity has been huge and growing as a direct result of internet swarming, despite the lack of an actual movie. The popularity of the non-existent movie has been based mostly on it name, a name so obviously lacking in imagination it actually took on the aura of double-feint. A dumb, clunky name that has been embraced for its very dumb clunkiness. Sort of like the way George Bush became president.

Organic movement or a clever Hollywood publicity ploy? We'll probably never know.

On the heavier side of the NSA ruling

My earlier post regarding the NSA program ruling was certainly lacking the gravitas that the ruling surely deserved. But I also knew that competent legal minds could lend seriousness to the subject. And if you want some of that, Glenn Grenwald delivers those goods as only he can. Greenwald sees the ruling as necessarily good and yet another smackdown of the lawless Bush administration.

Meanwhile, right whingers are clamouring about the ruling and calling for the judge to be drowned. Well, that's one I hadn't thought of.

Sweetest sound

Bloomberg sucks! or words to that effect.

Bronx locals are protesting the ground-breaking for a new 51,000 seat, $1.2 billion Yankee Stadium. That's $23,520 per seat. That's gotta be a sweet ride.

Last month, we were all witness to Michael Bloomberg's outrage over the cut in Homeland Security funding, but here he has managed to find $400 million in public funds to supplement the already detested project, which, while sucking up precious public money, will also wipe two parks in the local neighbourhood. That is is what is known as a win-win to developers.

The ultimate argument in favour of the stadium project, which will disrupt local residents for the next three years, was leveled by US Represetative, José E. Serrano, whose unassailable position wilted opposition:
You could have moved to Jersey, or you could have moved to Manhattan, but let’s face it: the Jersey or the West Side Bombers just doesn’t sound right. The Bronx Bombers — that’s the sweetest sound you’ll ever here.[sic]
I just don't see how anyone can have a problem with the stadium now.

The Judge does not agree ...

and she tells them so, oh, oh, oh.

In the lawsuit brought against the NSA warrantless wiretapping program, government lawyers argued that the program is "an essential tool for the intelligence community in the war on terror." Such a position revealed to all that they had no actual legal argument in case, essentially basing it on, of all things, an appeal to fear. Imagine, the Bush administration appealing to fear. Say it ain't so!

Federal district court judge, Ann Diggs Taylor, an obviously-named liberal-leaning, terrorist patsy if ever there was one, noted the non-legalistic argument and ruled that the maligned NSA wiretapping program is illegal and unconstitutional. Taylor said,
Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution,
apparently unaware that George Bush doesn't give a rat's ass about the Constitution, and who has cleverly noted that the Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper." Which is true. It is. Well, I don't know that God has actually damned the Constitution, but we know of a group who probably thinks she did (they'd also be pissed about that pronoun, too).

I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what Ann Coulter will recommend as a means of dealing with this particular "activist judge." Hanging? poison? Oh, the anticipation is fierce.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Real Macaca

Wow, someone is on top of things.

An enterpising fellow by the name of Mr. Macaca kindly stopped by to offer what must surely be newly popular wares. Check out all the goods, t-shirts (men, women and junior sizes), mugs, bumper stickers, the works. I especially like the "The Real Macaca" slogan. Have a visit as some proceeds will go to JIm Webb, racist idiot Allen's opponent in November.

Looks like the Aryans are going to have find a new code word.

Nothing less and nothing more

So, I was plowing around looking for some connection between George Allen and some known Aryan Nation organisations and outlets. A previous story had once led me to the National Vanguard (you're going to have to go there yourself) and, I must confess, that stuff is just plain addictive. Some of the statements a visitor will find -- right on the front freaking page -- are just so damned hilarious, one is compelled to keep looking. It is the car crash syndrome: it's horrible, but you can't look away.

Anyway, a post by a one Henry Makow, just had me howling:
I believe the world has for the last hundred years or more been in the grips of a conspiracy by an ultra rich elite whose goal is nothing less than the destruction of civilization.
Hmm, that's odd. It is entirely unclear why the "ultra rich elite," who seem to rather enjoy all the wonderful things that "civilization" has provided them, would want to do such thing, but I am sure there must some reason I have not yet gleened from the fine pages at the National Vanguard. Of course, this item followed another post bemoaning the crass power grab of ... what was it ... oh, yeah, "homofascist agitators" who blocked the "marriage protection" amendment. But why are they worried about "marriage protection" if the power-mad and diabolical ultra rich elite are going to destroy civilisation anyway? Its all very confusing.

But things really start pegging the laugh-o-meter and I hit funny-bone pay dirt:
Whenever I bring up the issue of race with my currently unawakened friends, they always tell me, “Well they’re not all bad, some are a lot like us.” These friends would rather treat non-Whites on a case-by-case basis, partially because White people are genetically predisposed to being nice....
No one could make up this shit.

And no word yet on George Allen. Obviously, I got rather distracted.

Four more years!

Who knew what that really meant back in 2004? besides the Bush administration, that is.

Via News from Underground comes another typically lashing story from Tom Lassiter about that boring old subject of Iraq:
As security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of governments in Baghdad and Washington, with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.

Their worst fear, one that some American soldiers share, is that top officials don't really understand what's happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq's violence has increased steadily during the past three years.
Mahmoud Othamn, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament offers this brutal assessment:
The American policy has failed both in terms of politics and security, but the big problem is that they will not confess or admit that. They are telling the American public that the situation in Iraq will be improved, they want to encourage positive public opinion (in the U.S.), but the Iraqi citizens are seeing something different. They know the real situation.
Which even some US intelligence officers cannot dispute:
I have had the chance to move around Baghdad on mounted and dismounted patrols and see the city and violence from the ground. I think that the greatest problem that we deal (besides the insurgents and militia) with is that our leadership has no real comprehension of the ground truth. I wish that I could offer a solution, but I can't. When I have briefed General Officers, I have given them my perspective and assessment of the situation. Many have been surprised at what I have to say, but I suspect that in the end nothing will or has changed.
So, our "strategy" is too ignore what is actually happening and continue to grind the troops into the ground, poison them with depleted uranium and send them home, only to jack them back to the war. But this isn't a war anymore, if it ever really was. It is a bogged-down occupation that is simply destroying the military. "Four more years" has taken on an entirely new meaning for US troops. That's quite a plan, George, quite a plan.

Ya see, what we have here is uh ... uh ... uh plan fer victury.

White people power

George Allen has stirred up quite a pot of ugly with his recent remarks calling S.R. Sidarth, a campaigner working for Jim Webb, a "macaca." As the only non-white in sight, the remark clearly had racial overtones, even though Allen claims he had no idea what the word meant.
I don't know what it means.
Because Allen uses words he doesn't know all the time, often repeatedly. He also claimed that he "just made it up." Well, which is it, George? Is it a word you don't know or one that you just "made up"?

Yeah, right:
Macaca (also spelled Macaque) is a dismissive epithet used by Francophone colonials in Africa for native populations of North and Subsaharan Africans. Macaca is also a code word used in the White Power Movement to refer to people of African descent.

Wind and Rain

Insurance companies have two primary functions: selling insurance policies and denying coverage under those policies when at all possible. The cross-correlated damage caused by Hurricane Katrina provided an excellent opportunity for insurance companies to engage the latter function and they jumped at it, denying that flooding was covered by hurricane insurance. Thousands of lawsuits poured into the courts.

In a big smooch to insurance companies, a Mississippi federal judge has ruled that insurance companies are not liable for flooding in hurricane policies, though they will have to cover wind damage. The reasoning is obvious: hurricanes are just wind. They don't cause flooding.

Hey, I'm not making this up. Expected future ruling: insurance doesn't actually cover anything. Pay up and shut up.

This decision, while understandable in strict legal reasoning, is another nail in New Orleans' nearly hammered shut coffin. A year later, the FEMA bungling and contract abuse that has seen billions squandered while New Orleans remains mostly unrefurbished was enough to show us all the government was not going to get that job done. There was really only one way that the city would be rebuilt and it was going to be up to the residents to do it. Insurance company refusal to support policy holders in this dire hour and this decision have mostly closed the last remaining avenue by which New Orleans might be restored. At least before Disney moves in and turns it into a theme park.

[via News Dissector]

Everyday low ...

You just gotta know it's campaign season. That knowledge can stem from the obvious, but when Wal*mart comes out swinging at Democrats who criticise the company's long-standing practices of feeding off the public trough, you know it is time for an election soon. And that is true because Wal*mart is clearly worried that Dems might take a majority in Congress and might even hold Wal*mart accountable for their odious business practices. The company has already been thumped by Maryland's Democrat-led state legislature, so I guess they're thinking actions like the "Wal*mart law" could become vogue.

These are perilous times for Wal*mart, uncertain that mere campaign contributions will stem the tide of public action against them. Perhaps they would do well to actually behave like a responsible citizen in American society. Imagine how that would cut down on the criticism.

Karma Chameleon

One could go on about the contemptible state of what we laughingly call "the media"; how it manufactures celebrity where none should exist, only to then feed off that celebrity, especially when said celebrity goes "off the rails." Indeed, I already have.

But no essay need accompany the sight of Boy George, his community service and the paparazzi who cluck and muddle, feeding on the scene. They look like pigeons. Boy George, the bread crumb:

Do we really need to wonder why Americans have no idea what their government is up to? why 50% of the American public think that US forces found WMD in Iraq? why George Bush is still president?

[pic via FIRESTARTER5]

Nexus Plexus

Thanks to Hot Potato Mash for insisting on watching Keith Olbermann's The Nexus of Politics and Terror (courtesy of C&L). This is simply a stunning compilation of event/terror warning coincidences. We've known of this for awhile, of course, after Tom Ridge admitted that many of these terror threats were simply not. But watching the compressed timeline is sure to evoke some loud and cynical guffaws. Which is about the only thing the Bush administration has delivered to those Americans not benefitting from his tax cut/corporate welfare agenda.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Purity Insecurity

We have some grand news in this New American Century, which is starting to look a lot like the old American century. Way old.

It appears that girls living within the central hotbed of Dobsonian religiosity, Ohio, are not comporting themselves properly under the "abstinence only" philosophy:
CANTON, Ohio -- An Ohio school board is expanding sex education following the revelation that 13 percent of one high school's female students were pregnant last year.There were 490 female students at Timken High School in 2005, and 65 were pregnant....

The new Canton school board program promotes abstinence but also will teach students who decide to have sex how to do so responsibly, bringing the city school district's health curriculum in line with national standards.

According to the Canton Health Department, statistics through July 2005 showed that 104 of the 586 babies born to Canton residents in Aultman Hospital and Mercy Medical Center had mothers between the ages of 11 and 19.
Eleven. Nice. I'm guessing the trickle-down effects of those lovely Purity Balls haven't quite "kicked in" yet. And, of course, not selling condoms in Ohio's own United Dairy Farmers stores will surely send the right message. Soon. After all, Ohio is still overcoming decades of liberalism. It'll take awhile before everything gets right.