Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dick Cheney Up Close and Personal

Hear him on Larry King tonight? War is going well. The insurgency is in its last throes. We did the right thing to go to war even though all the reasons for going to war were disproved and Iraq was not deemed a national threat. But America will be safer. Recruitment numbers are good.

Maybe he really believes what the says, right?

Woops, no.

One of the reasons he fought so hard, and mostly won, to keep the records of his Energy Task Force secret, from early in his first term, was that they included detailed maps of the oil fields in Iraq.

Get the picture? The Iraq war is part of the Bush/Cheney energy plan.

Can't you see it working as it trickles down to your pump? And army bases are set to close? And schools can't meet their state budgets? Well, at least you had some relief on your taxes. You didn't? Bush and Cheney did.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Bill Moyers Publicly Fights Back

First time since he stepped down from his 40 years of work at the CPB, pushed out really, six months ago because he was so hated for his honest reporting by the Republican pawn Tomlinson who's now overseeing the CPB. Moyers was still doing his old style journalism, the kind that culled facts, drew conclusions and questioned inconsistencies and lies. Not the current journalism which is to give each side equal time to do it's spin, and then shake their hands, say thank you good night!

This his closing address at the National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis, Missouri, last week. He quoted an editorial moment from his show "NOW" which he said inflamed the Right to such a degree that they came after him.
“I wore my flag tonight, first time. Until now I haven’t thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans. Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustain me, whose armed forces protected me and whose ideals inspired me. I offered my heart’s affection in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother’s picture on my lapel to prove her son’s love. Mother knew where I stood. So does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15th. So what’s this doing here? I put it on to take it back. The flag’s been hijacked and turned into a logo, the trademark – the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On most Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it’s the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration’s patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official labels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao’s Little Red Book of orthodoxy on every official’s desk, omnipresent and unread.

”But more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapel while writing books and running web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American. They are people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They’re in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks, even as they call for spending more on war.

”So I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks. or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don’t have to make it, or approve of bribing governments to join the ‘Coalition of the Willing.’ I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us. The flag belongs to the country, not to the government, and it reminds me that it’s not un-American to think that war, except in self defense, is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve and diplomacy. Come to think of it, standing up to your government can mean standing up for your country.”

Reat his full speech, it's dead on.


Martin Luther King Already Said It

In 1968 the reverend was saying how:
"The bombs in Viet Nam explode at home: they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."
Sound familiar?
"While the anti-poverty program is cautiously initiated, zealously supervised and evaluated for immediate results, billions are liberally expended for this ill-considered war. The recently revealed mis-estimate of the war budget amounts to ten billions of dollars for a single year. This error alone is more than five times the amount committed to anti-poverty programs. The security we profess to seek in foreign adventures we will lose in our decaying cities."

Poverty, urban problems and social progress generally are ignored when the guns of war become a national obsession. When it is not our security that is at stake, but questionable and vague commitments to reactionary regimes, values disintegrate into foolish and adolescent slogans."
Great speeches can leave you speechless. But the historic repeat leaves me numb.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Holy Sh*&!

Read this. I won't even waste time with a witty ditty.

"Under the cloak of secrecy imparted by use of military code names, the American administration has been taking a big - and dangerous - step that will lead to the transformation of the nuclear bomb into a legitimate weapon for waging war. - "

Is there no end to their mishandling of power and literally screwing us all? Just when you think they've hit bottom, you learn they were just taking a breather.

Read on. (this link from

My Other Son, and Others

I have, on occasion, mentioned my children in my blog entries and comments. I've mentioned my oldest, the Lieutenant in the Air Force, several times. I've mentioned my young son and daughter in passing.

I have a third son, whom I haven't talked about. But I think it's time.

He's 20 years old. He's an accomplished visual artist. He's an excellent writer, and a very good musician. He has a fantastic sense of humor, and is wonderfully likeable.

In my life I've had friendships with screenwriters, directors, actors, stand-up comedians, cartoonists, and recording artists. He has at least as much talent as any two of them combined.

I made him leave my house at the end of March. He now lives with one of his aunts, who is about to kick him out as well. Because, at 20, he's never had a full-time job, and has never gone to college. He has never used any of his wonderful gifts. For at least the last ten years of his life, whenever he has had a task to do, he would figure out the least amount of work it would take to claim he did the job, and would almost do that much.

My son is an addict. He's addicted to several things, including people. But not if you ask him. He'll deny it. He can't see that someone two years out of high school who has never had a full-time job (or even a part-time job that's lasted longer than six months) has serious problems that need addressing.

There's a woman I know who has three lovely children, a beautiful house in a lovely suburb, nice cars, a good job and a thriving side business selling jelly. Her husband is a manager, owns a building that he is in the process of renovating, and is a partner in the jelly business. He's a very likeable guy. Extremely charming, and very outgoing. On Tuesday, their divorce will be final. He was never home, and even when he was, he would be on the computer. They hadn't been intimate since the birth of their youngest child. She repeatedly expressed her unhappiness in the situation. She found a marraige counselor (he rarely showed up for the sessions). She is handling all the details of the divorce. He'll just sign on the lines when it's time to do so. He couldn't take the time off to do anything more.

He's an addict too. Addicted to work. He couldn't stop working, even at the cost of his marraige.

The accepted, very narrow definition of addiction is uncontrolled, compulsive use despite harm.
Harm applies to both the addict, and those around the addict as well.

The spouse of an addict will suffer every symptom of addiction that the addict does.

And this will continue until one thing happens:

Rock bottom.

Because when you're going down, rock bottom's what you have to hit before coming back up again.

Rock bottom is different for everyone and everything. I hit mine last July. My wife hit hers in August. But for some, rock bottom only comes at death.

For some, rock bottom comes sooner. For some, the realization comes after one too many morning afters. The person will realize the unhealthiness of their behavior, and modify it on their own. God bless them.

Others will lie, cheat, steal, and break every moral code they once held for themselves to continue using.

And they will justify it. Deny, deny, deny.

Interestingly enough, this model of addiction can be applied to organizations as well. Seemingly healthy, thriving businesses and corporations will suddenly crumble, with terrible results.

Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossings, and others. And now, apparently, AIG. The addiction? Money and power. Uncontrolled, compulsive use despite harm.

Apply that same filter to our current government. What conclusions can you draw?

Where will rock bottom be for this country?

My son hasn't hit his yet. His aunt just called me. He was leaving his crappy, part-time job at a video store at 8pm, and was walking home. It's now 1 am, and he's still not there.

He may be hitting rock bottom now. Or he may not.

It's different for everybody.


Saturday, May 28, 2005

Petroleum Reserves Nearing Their Peak

Now even Big Oil can't deny it. The Texas Tea joyride is finally going to hit a brick wall. Just when they finally got someone in the White House who's one of their own! Ironic, isn't it? Now sit back and watch the fun as we slide our toboggan down the perpetual "state of oil shortage" slopes. Think it's time to invest in alternative energies? Disappointed yet in Bush's big Energy Bill and speech on April 27th? in which he promoted great new ideas to turn around our country's dependence on oil by...drilling for more oil and gas at home? Great call, there. 10 years of production money and time in - to retrieve modest amounts from already identified areas (ANWR among them) that won't yield anything significant in terms of our countries massive needs. Hey but there was also re-examining ways to burn coal more cleanly! But leaving the options to the private sector, and not putting any regulation on it!

Check out the Business Week summary on his energy plan:

"The new Presidential energy plan seems mainly to be a public-relations stunt aimed at trying to reverse some of the latest polls, which show a growing public discontent with high gas prices -- and the President."

"Sadly, the plan Bush proposed would do little to increase existing supplies of oil, gas, or electricity, or decrease domestic demand for energy -- the two steps that would really make a difference"

If only his energy vision was one thousandth as good and far seeing as he is in his religious-political vision. I mean, changing the rules of government has already been so successful in consolidating power, (and trying to lose the filibuster, to ensure supreme court nominations with 51 votes is brilliant, mind you, to be able to drop in the right wing judges he will choose and permanently change the political landscape of the US.)

So how about a few ideas for a decent energy plan? Oh yeah, real change, political hot potato. Don't go there. You may lose.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Circling The Wagons, Against Their Own Country

Even as the Right has stumbled this past week: Senator Clinton's aide is acquitted, the Bolton nomination is held up in the Senate, the War gets worse, Dems point the spotlight on how Republicans voted against legislation supporting the troops at home, Social Security is now at a 25% approval (and the killer there is that people who have heard the most about his plan like it the least), (Sean Hannity may have to take a valium). It turns out that all along the GOP has been marginalizing power in Congress, changing the rules permanently to limit the voices of dissent, and keep control in a handful of GOP loyalists. Maybe they knew it couldn't last, so they used their moral values, honor and fighting with rule book in hand, and changed the rules so no one could oppose them. Al Franken pointed out recently that all politics is dirty, but Rove politics is the dirtiest. Can we recover? And if we do return to the majority, should the Democrats keep the same rules for the majority that the Republicans have put in place? Will the Righty pundits think that is fair? Of course they will. We should all play by the same rules, right? Isn't that the Americna way? This link from CrooksandLiars.com. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Senator Conyers Sending Bush Another Letter

The Senior Senator sent Bush a letter with 89 congressman asking him to respond to question about the Downing Street Memo. Scott McKlellan waved this away the other day when he said "there's no need to respond". So he's putting together another letter with 100,000 signatures, asking the President to respond to the questions again about the Downing Street Memo. It's not going away. It's the smoking gun. It's Bush's blue dress. See the letter here, or sign on at the link.

Bush Country Getting Smaller and Smaller

This CBS poll from yesterday show that The President is far more out of touch with the country that he's ever been. His approval rating is at 34%, congress is even lower. But I respect that he believes deeply in himself and his ideals. I don't agree with them, but he's a man to himself. And I hope he keeps it up, because his own blind convictions are finally making people wake up and see how often his choices are wrong, and his ideas don't work.

The Washington DC-Bushies!

(sung to the tune of "The Beverly Hillbillies")
(as if I really had to tell you that)

Come and listen to a story 'bout my friends Big Oil;
They care about the dough, and not the lands they spoil.
In the latest legislation of the Bill of Energy
Says that they don't have to clean up spilled MBTE!

(methyl tertiary butyl ether, that is…an additive…carcinogen!)

Now, MBTE is a rather nasty chemical
If it seeps into the water it could kill us one and all
And if your company spills some MBTE
'Safe Harbor' will protect you from liability!

Chuck Schumer sez "This legislation is a giveaway
To oilmen down in Texas (who are cronies of DeLay)
He says "Filibuster is the only way to go
And send the this bill back where the sun don't ever show!"

Y'all come back now,


"We're Not Leaving."

That was what my son, the Lieutenant in the Air Force, told me on the phone the other day. He's currently in the states, but his tour in Iraq starts in September. His observation comes from conversations he's had with service people just back from, or still in Iraq, compounded with the sort of exercises and jobs he's doing right now. All the stuff they're doing is setting up for the long haul.

He pointed out that one problem that's plaguing the 'hand over,' is that there's no one to hand things over to. There are so many factions, and their alliances change daily. Your friend today may be your enemy tomorrow may be your friend again next week. The people shift as much as the sand does.

Yeah he's just a Second Looie, but it's an interesting look at what the folks who are doing the heavy lifting in this operation are thinking.

I've heard arguments about whether or not this is or isn't another Vietnam. I say it isn't, because Vietnam had nothing we wanted.

Thar's oil in them thar hills.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, a nonbinding resolution asking the prez to let congress know what his plans are for the withdrawal of troops was soundly defeated. (A nonbinding resolution means the president doesn't even have to answer. They won't even ask a rhetorical question.) The reason given was that it would be disrespectful to the men and women of the Armed Services to talk about it this close to Memorial Day. You can find the article in the news by clicking the link, and not a goddamned place else. What liberal media?

I've never been in the military, but I can't imagine any person who is serving in a hot, dry, unfriendly place thousands of miles from home, where death can come from anywhere at anytime with almost no opportunity to fight back, would feel disrespected by someone asking pretty please when can they come home?

Just out of curiosity: Does anyone know any place where we can find out how many nationally elected representatives of our country (meaning legislative and judicial branch) have relatives in active service?


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Government As Theater

The big show, lately, isn't in the theaters, raking in the big box office, it's in the White House, raking in the big donations and profit sharing for the corporate office holders. And the current players know that they pretty much have the run of the store, breaking rules, withholding evidence, following private agendas, forgetting about accountability, as long as they act a certain way and perform to the one audience that matters. You. Because they still realize the one and only thing that can upset their apple cart; if the people out there in television land, the people they either count on but treat like idiots (red staters) or despise completely (blue staters), get wind of the fact that there's no longer a government in Washington, but a traveling road show. It looks like government, it sounds like a President, but it's just a show. Nothing that is said is really meant. Answers to questions are empty rhetoric, deceptive, or completely false. There's no attempt at taking responsibility for mistakes, and cleverly worded legislation harms most of the country and helps only the same small cadre loyal to the leader. He's either selling snake oil, knowing the profits go into his or his friends pockets, or he's playing to the camera with righteousness, while behind his back his administration follows his true agenda of greed and control. I don't even have to spin this. It's just the facts. Downing Street Memo is exhibit A in a long list of Exhibits. The war was agreed upon before hand, knowing there was no threat: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Have you heard of the latest Resolution of Inquiry? It appears that our great leader broke the law when he sent the letter to Congress back in 2002 that stated Iraq was a grave threat and danger to America. Because he knew it wasn't. And turns out if a President lies that way, it's a criminal act. The Downing Street Memo proves he was aware that there was no threat. And now Congress is going to be petitioned to submit a resolution of inquiry into what can now be termed a criminal act. Anyone hear or see it on their major news networks? Of course not. Check the blogosphere. Raw Story, et.al. It's in this link. When this story gets air, it will be time for the White House to drop the curtain and answer some real questions. After the movie's over, everyone has to walk back outside into the real world. Time for the President to do the same.

Why Am I Not Suprised?

Some things that have caught my eye today:

How did the GOP end up with such power? They cheated. And this is only the beginning. Don't be surprised if you start seeing Tommy-boy's name popping up on some of these civil (and criminal!) lawsuits. My favorite part is that the GOP pulls a judge out of retirement to hear this case because they expected him to rule in their favor. That's one of my few hopes for the appointee imbroglio in the Senate: They do tend to vote their own mind, regardless of whether or not it appeals to those that appointed them.

For those of you who think that just because you already have money and power that there's no need to cheat, Eliot Spitzer says that it apparently doesn't matter.

(Hmmm....dirty tricks in Texas politics, fearless crusader in New York government, yet some think that New York's an unholy place. Interesting.)

And the ever-excellent Eric Alterman expounds on how we are becoming an oligarchy. Scroll down to yesterday's entry for an eye-opening look at how we the people are paying for the corporate jet travel of the nations richest men and their families.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The denial Approach, or Playing To A Room Of...Interns?

The "press briefing" that George Bush gave in tandem with Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week, in which he basically told him to go fly a kite when he asked for more control of U.S. troops, and rightly so I thought, but pledged continued support and .... wait, they realized just as they were about to start that the room was basically empty. Why? These "press briefings" are a standard dog and pony show at the White House, photo op with pre-fab content and no access. Have been for years. Bush only ever allows four questions each time, two to the wire services, and two to foreign press. Every time. So the press have finally realized there's no point in going. With a press no-show just as show time was about to start, the press secretary, thinking quickly, raided the white house intern pool and filled the room with young twenty-something gophers who did their best to paper the room. Look at the video, every face is squeaky clean, young, unrefined, and devoid of authority. Just window dressing.

But this is the President's approach. When something doesn't go well, deny it happened. Or don't mention it at all. No press? No problem. Keep pretending everything's fine and just have faith that everyone will come around to your side. Don't work for it, just believe it hard enough and it'll happen. He's the first President who should be wearing ruby red slippers. But I'd hate to break it to him that Dorothy was only able to use them "in a dream."

Unless you live down here with the rest of us on terra firma and have to deal with the laws of physics like we all do, wish fulfillment is still a great idea that no one seems to have registered the patent on yet.

If any one of us lives in denial, we only end up hurting ourselves. As long as Mr. Bush lives in denial, he's only going to hurt every one of us.

This link from the Washington Post has some poignant, and glaring examples.

Are We Better Off?

Crisis averted. Or is the crisis that it was averted? 14 moderate Senators lead by John McCain forged the deal that allows many of George's judges, already voted down once, to now pass through. Should the Democrats have held strong and faced down the Nuclear (nucular - as dubyaspeak.com has catalogued it) Option? Forced the Senate to crack, and potentially lose the filibuster - but in so doing, perhaps regain the Senate in '06? Congressional rating is at a public approval rating of 33%. Polls show people on both sides of the blue/red color bar are displeased with the suddenly invasive, control freaky, power grabbing GOP. Purists who wish for clean black and white battle royals, good guys vs. bad guys (choose your sides) wanted to see the showdown. I thought we were heading into another government shutdown that sent Newt Gingrich packing. Perhaps we still have as the link at the end of this post shows.

The right seems to be cracking, even without the Democrats holding fast like the united soldiers they could be. Let's hope there's no similar compromise on social security. Should we have drawn our swords and fought head to head, taken the bait and had it out - or was it the wise move to sidestep like this, compromise, and let the judicial branch get even more conservative, while holding onto the filibuster tactic for the supreme court? Don't forget, within the agreement is the right to pull the nuclear trigger again if there is a disagreement on the "exceptional circumstances" that would theoretically allow Democrats to engage and use the filibuster.

I'm only bouyed by the rancorus chorus of fury from the right as they label their GOP leaders as sell outs. The extreme Right's own endless hatred of anyone falling out of of line, out of step with their exact beliefs, and their readiness to threaten revenge and attacks, even hurling this now at their "own", shows such a lack of compassion and decency, moral values supposedly we all hold dear in this western Repbulic, that it boggles the mind. Attack your enemies, attack your friends, attack attack attack. That keeps the money coming in, keeps their communities divided, keeps them in power. But watch the control drift away like so much smoke when people tire of the hot air. Like the new Mayor of Redondo, CA. An openly gay Asian American Republican man, who beat his Republican opponent even after the campaign descended into the expected endless divisive insults, gay bashing and "hidden ligeral agenda" fear mongering. He won the office with 61% of the vote, a landlside. People are beginning to tire of the bullshit, don't you think? And the chickens will be coming home to roost and vote out the bullshiters.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I'm still laughing.

I've been involved in a dialogue on The Cranky Yankee's blog regarding Creationism vs. Intelligent Design, and I was thinking about expanding my main comment into a post on this blog. One of the things I wanted to bring up was the Santorum Amendment, showing how far the Religious Wrong (still can't bear to call them Religious Right) will go in this situation.

So, I Googled "Santorum" and got this link.

I was completely taken aback. Nonplussed, even. But greatly amused. Instead of a bio of the Esteemed Junior Senator from the Keystone State, I was greeted with a brown smear on a white background and the following words:
"The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex."

One of the stereotypes of homosexual men is that they possess a biting wit. In this case, that stereotype bears out.

I may still expound on the Evolution/ID debate, but I don't think I'll be able to type Senator Rick's name again without seeing that brown splotch.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...


Sunday, May 22, 2005

A Medium is Rarely Well-Done

I don't know That Dude From Philly. In classic internet style, I came across his blog as a link from a link from a link. But if I met him, I'd probably like him. I certainly like his writing style. His "I'm Back Mofo's" post was a classic minimalist sojourn into the life of a guy with more obligations than time. I doubt there's a Dad out there who can't relate to being too busy to even have time for a good puke.

And I bet he'd probably like me. If we ever met at some backyard barbecue, we'd probably have a great time swapping stories and talking about sports, kids, women, and yes, even politics.

Because in politics we're two different colors: Red and Blue, with very little room for purple.

On his blog, this blog, and others, we've ping-ponged our viewpoints about the state of our country. And, if nothing else, he's forced me to clarify my thinking in order to make or refute various points.

The other day, over at The Cranky Yankee's blog (another guy I wouldn't mind bending elbows with), we were at it again. Follow the thread from Monday, May 16th if you want to read it.

During the match, Dude said the following

...it does go to say something about the media's glee in always believing something evil about America or its military b4 doing any checking.

The assumptions made in that statement astounded and saddened me, because it distilled in a sentence fragment something that a large portion of America believes.

A little bit about me: I'm a media guy. I've got a Master's Degree in it. A fat lot of good it's done me, but I've worked in television my entire adult life. I've worked on both national and local documentaries, educational series, instructional programs, children's programs, game shows, sporting events, directed and produced newscasts, and made commercials. I'd say I'm fairly qualified to talk on this subject.

Firstly, 'the media,' as a unified entity, is a fiction. There are a large number of TV and radio networks, news services, magazines, newspapers, and webpages. Many are owned by the same few corporations. But, these news organizations all have separate newsrooms, filled with reporters, photographers, editors, researchers, and others. However, with much of the same people from competing news operations reporting on the same item, it's easy to see why there are some that lump the entire group together.

But it's also possible that several different reports on the same activity will have entirely different viewpoints. Because each reporter, editor, editorial board et c., will have a different viewpoint on the issue. Each can be factual, but vastly different.

It's my opinion that some of what is perceived as 'media bias' is in the eye of the beholder. You can have two people look at the same report and, if one's a conservative, he will see a liberal bias, and vice versa. But there is a large number of people and organizations that are doing their best to paint 'the media' as liberal, and doing it for their own gains.

The practice of reporting the news is an incredibly complex process that, when properly followed, does its best to report without bias. It's not perfect, but it does its best.

Unfortunately, there's a large faction of the populace that believes any negative reporting against the military or the government in this post 9/11 world is proof that 'the media' is trying to 'get' someone or something. These opinions of a 'liberal media' are exacerbated in part by 'the media' itself. I'll get to that later.

Here's two newsblurbs about an incident that happened a few days ago:

"The New York Yankees' ten-game winning streak ended, as they fell to the Seattle Mariners, 7-6. Jason Giambi struck out looking with two men on in the ninth."

"The New York Yankees' ten-game winning streak ended, as they fell to the Seattle Mariners, 7-6. Jason Giambi brought in two runs with a single in the sixth."

Both reports are accurate. Giambi DID have a 2 RBI single. Giambi DID strike out looking in the ninth. But which is the better report?

This is the situation reporters and editors are faced with on a daily basis. In any situation, a decision must be made on what to include, and what not to include. Compounding the issue are factors of deadlines and space--column inches for print, time for TV and Radio.

Do you mention that Giambi struck out? There were other factors involved in the loss; the Yankees couldn't hold the lead. Do you mention the RBI? He's been hitting the ball a bit more recently. Do you not mention Giambi at all? He's been a lightning rod for Yankee fans.

All of these quesitons are valid. Any of the reports would be accurate.

But would they show a bias?

And that's just sports. Wins and losses are wins and losses. It's pretty cut-and-dried.

But still, debates rage about players and teams. How many magazines, TV and radio networks are out there that just deal with sports and sports issues? How many sides are there to every story?

In politics and governance, there are much greater shades of grey. Much of the reporting is about issues whose effects may not be felt for years. Rarely is there a piece of legislation that is so cut-and-dried that there is only one way of looking at it.

And 'the media' has to cover it.

Now, add to the equation a government that's fighting two wars: one a blood-and-bullets war in the middle east, and the other, a cultural war at home. This government is well-funded, and single-minded in its goals. At least on the cultural side. This government, and its supporters, are playing 'the media' like a drum.

And every time 'the media' tries to defend itself and its editorial decisions, the culural revolutionaries just see their response as proof of liberal bias.

How did they get so good at this? Because they have been preparing for this war for at least 40 years.

At the 1964 Republican convention, Former President Dwight Eisenhower denounced "sensation seeking columnists and commentators" and nearly caused a riot—the delegates howled and shook their fists at the network anchors' boxes. From Goldwater on, press bashing became a winning issue for Republicans, with every GOP presidential candidate (with the possible exception of Gerald Ford) doing his best to bully reporters or at least neuter them.

(For a great analysis of how long this has been going on, and a freaky-scary prediction from back in the day, check this out.)

And now, they've got it down to an art form. Any report that seems to go against this government's policies is decried by culural revolutionaries as showing a 'liberal bias.' And the media is so cowed by this, that they let them get away with it.

Add to this, they are incredibly media savvy. They are able to take the most onerous public policies, and give them patriotic, positive-sounding two-or-three word phrases--phrases that 'the media' gobble up like candy:

Family values. No Child Left Behind. Patriot Act. Yummy.

Sometimes the buzzwords don't work. Remember when GOP talked about the 'privitization' of Social Security? Didn't play in Peoria. So now it's "Personal Accounts."

Chomp chomp lick goes 'the media.' And any reporting that doesn't fall into line is labeled 'liberal.'

You know, with all his money, maybe Jason Giambi could hire some of these folks for himself, and let them hit the sports talk circuit.

"Giambi's two-run single in the sixth was a shining victory in the flow of the game. Why must you dwell on the negative? He didn't stike out, he just chose the 'non-contact' alternative.

"Why do you hate baseball?"


Homeland Security Can't Take the Heat

After George Galloway gave a spectacular, furious and insightful rebuttal to all the questions and allegations against him, pointing out it was our own Senate and Senators who were using "Oil for Food" as a smoke screen to avoid discussion of other crimes that were laid at the feet of the U.S., (i.e. billions of tax payers dollars lost in Iraq, pumping their oil wells unmetered with no record of where the new oil went, etc.") the Homeland Security Website mysteriously has no transcipt of Galloway's testimony, while it has a full transcipt of every other witness. Find his testimony here and see how fighting back is supposed to look. BBC covers it gleefully here. Juicy parts of the full transcript is here.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Perhaps the Guards Flushed the Wrong Book

NY Times report on prisoner detainee treatment in Afghanistan: "The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days."
"At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling."
"Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time." (emphasis mine)

This information comes from a 2,000 page Army report on detainee abuse that was leaked to the NYT.

This is NOT how we are supposed to act. This is an embarassment to this country. I am sickened by actions like this.

No yeharr this time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

With Snail Like Speed, US Press Prints Brit Memo

Finally, finally after it's appeared just about everywhere shy of the back of a milk carton, the washington post ackowledges the devastating memo proving that Bush's whining complaints of "
"intelligence failure" when things went wrong in Iraq truly will have to shifted to "pre-meditated Intelligence Fabrication" that lead to the whole war in the first place. The link from to excellent site www.tompaine.com

Monday, May 16, 2005

Leave My Child Behind, Please

Did ya hear the one about the law which was supposed to help every boy and girl in America by ensuring tough academic standards? Well, not only does the "No Child Left Behind" law NOT do that, it also allows for military operations so covert that the Navy SEALS should be jealous.

When Bush announced and passed the NCLB law, he said it would help American schoolkids by making sure the $13,300,000,000 the gummint earmarked for education would be spent wisely. On their web page, they state that "Under No Child Left Behind, states and school districts have unprecedented flexibility in how they use federal education funds."

They proceeded to explain, in a one thousand page law, exactly how to do it.

One thousand pages. I just went to my bookshelf and found the thickest book I have (The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, if you must know), and opened it to page 1,000. The pages are ricepaper thin, but still managed to measure 1 7/8" thick. Try finding unprecidented flexibility in that much paper.

And that is primarily the legacy of NCLB. The budget really didn't increase all that much; but the paperwork did. More paperwork means more man-hours to ensure that new guidelines are met means more money is spent on administration means that, ultimately, less money is spent on education.

And even though the education budget has doubled since 2001 (to about 10% of what the gummint's spending in Iraq), school districts are still saying that it's not enough to add new programs that would help the students meet the tough new standards.

Because that Federal money has to come from somewhere. And it's not coming from the military budget. And then there's all the interest that needs to be paid to cover the deficit spending. And then there's the tax cut. So, that money comes from other social services programs.

Which simply means the individual states must then rearrange their budgets to make up for the shortfall. And the states aren't getting enough as it is. I haven't done any research on this, but if you can find me a state outside of Alaska (America's oil barrel) where the Governor's said "Yep! We're getting all we need from Washington, thank you," I'll eat a bug.

So: a little more money from the Nation's Capital, a little less money from the state capital. All adds up to one thing: Unfunded Mandate.

Unprecidented flexibility? Try this on for size: A school district in Lincoln, Nebraska cancelled its annual spelling bee because of NCLB. Why? Because in a spelling bee, there's only one winner, which means other children would be left behind.

Perhaps they're just paranoid. But Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is pretty adamant about making sure all school districts strictly follow all the guidelines of the NCLB law.

Including this:

"...each local educational agency receiving assistance under this Act shall provide, on a request made by military recruiters or an institution of higher education, access to secondary school students names, addresses, and telephone listings."

That's the meat of Section 9528, Subpart 2, of NCLB. The nine thousand, five hundred and twenty-eighth section of the law (out of nine thousand, six hundred and one), says that your high school HAS TO provide the names and addresses of all its students upon request.

And the armed services have failed to meet their quotas for the third straight month.

Which means, whether you want him to or not, a guy with shiny medals and a geeky haircut will more than likely be knocking at your door if you're got a kid in high school.

To be fair, there's this provision: "A secondary school student or the parent of the student may request that the student's name, address, and telephone listing described in paragraph (1) not be released without prior written parental consent, and the local educational agency or private school shall notify parents of the option to make a request and shall comply with any request."

Of course, that's kind of hard to do if you don't know about good ol' Section 9528, Subpart 2 in the first place. It's funny how no one in the gummint seemed to mention it at the press conferences.

Some school districts are fighting this. They're initiating 'opt-in' clauses. This would reverse the process: parents and students would be notified of the clause, and unless they give consent to be contacted (opt in), their information would NOT be sent to military recruiters.

This pleases Secretary Spellings not at all. She's threatening to withhold the entirety of the Federal money allocated to these districts if they continue this process. There are several court cases pending on the issue.

Most of the districts that are challenging this issue are fairly affluent, which means less federal money is given to them anyhow. The district that's closest to me that is making an issue of this gets about $3.8 million, which is roughly six percent of their yearly budget. That's a lot, but in the city where I live, federal money accounts for 35% of the yearly budget. Is my city's school district joining in on the fight? Not really. They can't afford to. They meantioned Sec 9528 on page 13 of the 38-page annual school report.

Meaning there's gonna be lots of shiny medals and bad haircuts in my neighborhood.

If you're interested in learning more about what you can do, head over to the Leave My Child Alone website.


Please Don't Bother Him With Bad News

The President sits out another crisis. The non-responsive rogue Cessna that was headed towards the white house and congress, that caused the evacuation of 30,000 government employees - and made our nation look less like a super power and more like whimpering little sissies? He was not briefed on it happening until 45 minutes afterwards. Why? He was jogging. Secret Service didn't want to bother him. And his wife was evacuated from the White House, by the way. She might have been hurt or killed had the White House been a legitimate target, which given the lack of information DC authorities had from this plane, could have been a very real event. But the Secret Service didn't want to tell him that either. Apparently this is standard operating procedure for 43. Do we need more proof that he's really not running things, just really good in a room and with a crowd? He's strict with his beliefs, so people know how to tow party line, but so good at delegating authority, I suppose, that apparently he's left with only jogging, napping and speech making. This story from Raw Story reveals much.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Amazing Letter From A Good Friend

He's been touring the country as a comic for 20 years. He has a unique viewpoint from many cities in all the states. He's made them laugh in the red and the blue, across demographic lines, picket lines and panty lines. He knows something of the day to day across the nation, that most of us never do, as city-centric as we are. He has some advice for us Dems to get back in the White House, and man, he's so right on so many points:

"Replace nastiness and bitterness with irony.

Use well thought out sarcasm instead of nastiness. Be bright and witty but most important be REAL. Smart real - not Larry the Cable Guy real. Don't be elitist - I'm not saying dumb down - but remember you're talking to a country that made NASCAR the number one spectator sport in the world.

"Remember the image of the democrat we grew up with. He was the kind one, the fair one. He worked hard for a living and cared about the little guy, the down trodden and oppressed. He stood out in his yard with his arm around his wife's waist and watched his kids grow up in the front yard. He loved God and country and drove a station wagon. Don't you remember? We were the good guys! Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck. The democratic party has completely lost this image and the feeling is the leftists have taken it over; the Clinton coalition that led them to victory for eight years is broken; most of the few remaining southern Democrats in power are retiring and will not be replaced. The Democrats have been a minority party leading a coalition of minorities and fringe groups; and the rest of the country is turning rightward in one of the most unique cultural struggles in this country's history.

You wanna' be huge? Go back to being the sweet, silly, compassionate - always brilliant Phil I've always known. The country needs that because...

...we are scared shitless. We're afraid its only a matter of time before THEY strike again. We're afraid the administration isn't doing the right thing - but we're more afraid if nothing is done at all!!!! We're afraid the country is going to go broke. We're afraid our kids don't know how to add or read. We're afraid its going to soon cost $100 to fill up our gas tanks. We're afraid China will replace us as the world's super power. The last thing we need is Dems giving us more reasons to be afraid. Terror and paranoia is going to split this country so deep it will make the civil war look like a game of dodge ball.

We are afraid of the country being torn apart again like in Vietnam. Most folks don't remember it, but its been hammered into our heads over the last 20 years that is was a real sucky time. Nation divided, country split, riots in the street, etc.

That's why country music is enjoying overwhelming popularity. Its cool to be a red neck now. Anything grass roots, folksy or smells like apple pie. America wants comfort food!

Separation of church and state?? Are you fucking kidding me? Bad time to harp on that shit!! Do you know what's that's done to the democratic party out here in the real world? This rhetoric only flies in a few large cities on both the coasts. And that's no longer where the electoral votes are concentrated and it's not where America's heart is. Of course there needs to be separation, but do the Dems need to come off like a bunch of atheistic, robotic heathens in the mean time? If I hear one more tirade about what religion our founding fathers really were - I'm going to puke, because its not the point.

"If the republicans go unchecked we're going to lose abortion - oh I mean 'a woman's right to chose'". Half the country is thinking "Don't they love their babies? What's wrong with those people?"

"...um gay rights...?" Don't ask me not to vote republican because if I do two butt pirates aren't going to be allowed to play tonsil hockey on the steps of City Hall anymore. It's just not as good enough reason for me to risk my kid's school getting blown up by some camel jockey.

You don't want the war over there in I-raq? Fine - then you tell me a better way to make sure those "sand jockeys" don't come over here and blow up our malls and baseball parks. In the meantime, I'm stock piling food and gun powder out in the shed.

"Well, there's no evidence of weapons of mass destruction over...."

"Who give's a shit, Spanky? The whole middle east is a weapon of mass destruction. When you think terrorism - you think Iraq. When a bomb goes off, no one is going, "Those crazy Finish are at it again."

The Dems are never going to win by just trying to get people to hate Bush. DeLay hurt Bush more than Bush hurt Bush. Dems need to start waving the flag, embracing the heart of America. Liberals need to stop blaming and whining. Roll up your sleeves, replace anger with steely determination. Put down the spotted owl and pick up the %40 of Florida kids who are going to have to repeat the 3rd grade again because they don't know their fucking ABC's.

I just don't understand why the Dems aren't the good guys anymore.

Everybody is a Dem at heart, you become a republican when you give up on man and focus on yourself.


I've invited him to join us at BOPD. I hope he does, he has something to offer that we need to hear.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Methinks They Doth Protest Too Much, Part 2

Hi Everyone! This is Dr. W. David Hager, Jesus's OB-GYN.

Oops! That didn't come out right. Of course the Lord doesn't need an OB-GYN--he is, after all, a man. Just like God.

What I am, is a physician who tends to women, in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. I oppose abortion, contraception, and premarital sex. I believe there is not a sense of inherent equality between men and women. Instead, men are expected to act as benevolent authority figures for the women in their lives.

My views are also pleasing to President Bush, as well. As an appointee to the FDA, I helped to defeat the approval of an over-the-counter emergency contraceptive. Because that's just not the way the Lord wants it.

And even though I was divorced from my wife of thirty-two years, it was because I was too busy doing the Lord's work to attend to my family's needs.

It had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I liked to put my pee-pee into her hiney without her consent.

After all, what good is it to be the benevolant protector if you don't get to ram it up her poop chute whenever you want?


Friday, May 13, 2005

The Pampered Drunk, I Mean Born Again President Does It Again

With severe arm twisting, and one can only imagine what threats made behind the scenes, Bolton's nomination, though unable to be reccomended thanks to a blistering reality check by George Voinovich R-Ohio, successfully moves out of the Foreign Relations Committee with a straight party line up and down vote 10-8, but without a reccomendation. Somewhat embarrasing to the GOP. They're pushing their mandate hard, but kudos to the Democrats for fighting back hard and revealing the committee's chairman, Lugar, for being the mindless GOP automaton he is. Now the full Senate gets its vote. And with R to D at 55 to 44, with one I, it doesn't look good. Hopeful standouts: Voinovich, Chaffee. Chaffee by the way, has apparantly intimated he will vote against Bolton when the full Senate votes, as his own constituency is polling at hating the idea of Bolton around 80%. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to think he needs a reminder of no taxation without representation. Did they threaten to pull all his campaign money from the big GOP fund in the next cycle if he didn't vote? And not play with him at recess? Voinovich said he will also vote thumbs down, but that leaves 53 yes to 46 no. They only need 51. Who else will jump ship? Bolton simply can't become the amabassador without making the entire country look even worse than it already does.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Bob Novak: Chickenshit Chickenhawk

Unethical Conservative asskisser Robert Novak has suddenly backed out of a May 25th debate with Eric Alterman on the subject "The American News Media—Liberal or Conservative Bias?" At UC-Santa Barbara.

Novak, as you are probably aware, is the creature who, after getting a phone call from an unnamed White House operative, revealed that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative. This was in retaliation to Wilson's report that there was in fact no yellowcake uranium being sent from Niger to Iraq, thereby negating one of the original reasons for going to war in the first place.

Novak is known to be rude, contemptuous, and insulting to those who disagree with him. It would have been interesting to see how he would have faired in a battle of wits with Alterman. I heard Alterman was only going to use half of his to keep it fair.


Bolton Will Be Sent to Senate Floor

The vote is happening now, and it looks like the GOP has managed to arm twist everyone enough to send it through, but kudos to George Voinovich (R-Ohio) for calling anger-management-poster child Bolton "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be." Refusing to vote, his lack of a "no" vote, however, will still send the nomination to the floor for a full Senate vote where he said he would vote against him. With 55 Republicans to 45 Democrats, who else will jump ship?

GOP Armor Cracks and Conspiracy Shines Through

Tom Ridge, formerly first Homeland Security Chief reveals in this interview in USA Today how the administration periodically put the US on "high security alert" when there was "flimsy evidence to justify raising the level" Ridge now says. Remember when that was? During the Democratic convention? During the fall of the campaign? A carefully crafted element of the "fear" campaign waged by the White House? Ridge regularly disagreed with them, and was out-voted. How surprising. The "high alert" was a key element of the "fear campaign". Scare the beejeezus out of Americans, and then the GOP calmly posits: "Hey, it's simple. Vote for them, you get blowed up?" Remember that? Where is the independent council? Where is the investigation? Where's the Jedi version of Ken Starr when you need him?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Putting BS in PBS

Here's a story to warm the cockles of your heart: Kenneth Tomlinson, Bush's appointee to head the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which both promotes and funds PBS), has made "Eliminating the perception of political bias" his agenda. To that end, he took public money to conduct a survey to see how many Americans percieved a political bias in PBS' programming. The result: Not many. About 20% of Americans thought that PBS was too liberal. Now dig this: 12% thought PBS was too conservative. In other words, 68% of Americans saw no political bias in PBS's programming.

68% said no bias. If a 53% popular vote victory is a "mandate," what should this tell you?

I hope Dude from Philly reads this, then reads the article at Salon. I'd love to hear his slant left rant again...
On another note: It's always great when someone you admire in one area comes up big in another. Jim Lampley is one hell of a sports announcer/commentator. A frequent guest host on the daily sports radio program The Jim Rome Show, Van Smack has dubbed him "one of the two smartest people to ever visit The Jungle." (Non-sports junky translation: Van Smack=Jim Rome; The Jungle=The Jim Rome show).

Now, Lamps has shown up on Arianna Huffington's Boutique Vanity Blog, giving a sportsman's/oddsmaker's/sociologist's take on why, when all the polling numbers pointed to a Kerry win last November, he didn't.

Mandate, my ass.


Maybe they can up-armor their Humvees with Magnetic Stickers

Mark Shields on the shame of the military-industrial complex. I have a nephew who's a Marine in Iraq. This shit ain't funny.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Feeding the Wheel

Ever wonder why so much Conservative bullshit is left unchallenged on the 24-hour news channels? Here's a quick lesson from a guy who used to be a producer at a 24-hour newsroom: There's a concept called 'feeding the wheel.' That's what we called it in our newsroom; I guarantee that every other newsroom has a similar cynical phrase.

What it means is that for every hour or half-hour, you need to have something fresh to talk about.

A week or so ago, The Daily Show aired a clip from CNN with these two 'experts' talking about the Texas bill barring homosexual couples from being foster parents. The wingnut talking head spouts off about a study that shows that homosexual couples are likely to abuse their foster kids. The other guy, who works in the field, says there's no such study. The kicker is that the chick in the newsroom wraps it without following through with any sort of question to the wingnut asking for validity.

Here's why: The anchor chick in the newsroom had no fucking clue about any of it. I would bet that her entire research for the segment was watching the story that the field reporter submitted and a meeting with the producer that probably lasted no more than ten minutes, where they went over the topic and the questions that should be asked.

Now the chick, maybe she's got good reporter instincts; but I'm guessing she doesn't. Journalistic acumen is not a requirement for her job, and in fact would most likely get in the way. The primary skills needed for the job (apart from being able to read the teleprompter) are:
1) Time management
2) Look nice
That's it. Ask guest #1 a question. Monitor length of response. Ask guest #2 a question, or allow guest #2 response. Monitor length of response. Break in if necessary. The producer is in her ear, backtiming to the 'out' time. Continue in this fashion 'til it's time for happy talk and cue to break, where they talk about the next segment, and whether that segment is about Social Security or controlling flatulence in your pet pooch, she will be just as uninformed as she was in this segment.

So, you see, even if she did want to call bullshit on the wingnut, she wouldn't have had time to do it, because she had to feed the wheel.

This is the system in which we on this side of the television get our information, because like it or not, it's how the majority of America gets it. Not only that, but it's how they like it.

The GOP knows this. They recognized early on that they could use it to their advantage, because they can spout any sort of bullshit rhetoric, and no one will call them on it, because the person directing the debate doesn't know if it's bullshit or not, and usually has no time to do anything about it.

What this means is that those of us in the reality-based community have to fight a war on two sides: The GOP, and the newswheel.

Problem is, it's hard to fight this war without sinking to their level. As catchy as it is, when was the last time you heard "Take Back America" on any news show?

I'm sorry to say I have no answers. Only questions.


Look Behind The Issue Once Again to Find the Agenda

Why all the fuss about liberal judges who must pay for their unconscionable acts of independent thought as they support the law? I'm not sure. Aren't the personal politics of the judges in our country overwhelmingly conservative? The judge in the Terri Schiavo case, Judge George Greer, was appointed by Bush Senior (Sure he was kicked out of his church, but this week he's being awarded a Special Justice Award this week from the West Pasco Bar Association for his professionalism. Talk about a separation of Church and State!) And didn't the already conservative Supreme Court vote to stop the election counting back in 2000 that supported this administration and started this whole mess? Remember this is an Agenda driven administration, starting from the top down, with a religious President bent on forcing politics to conform to his religious beliefs. Why did he call in from Europe yesterday and say he demanded an up and down vote on the same conservative, anti-choice judges he sent up last term who were denied? Because it will force a vote on the filibuster first, and terminate it. Why terminate the filibuster? Because the most powerful court in the land is poised for a change. And with the filibuster gone, watch Bush insert an extremely conservative judge into the Supreme Court, anti-choice, pro-corporate, etc. with a quick up and down vote. It's not about any of the regional judges. It's about the top dogs who set national policy and who are supposed to be the guardians of the Constitution. Now they may be its ghost writers. That's the Agenda. So watch Frist trigger the Nuclear Option next week and destroy the filibuster so the kindly President and the good folks at the GOP can just get a plain and fair "up and down" vote on their judges, so that these pesky individual rights will be obliterated and religious Marshall law can be invoked. It's not about checks and balances anymore. They're inconvenient for Mr. Bush. That's why he's strip mining the Executive Branch. Of course Congress didn't permit the same for Clinton's judges, they shot him down regularly as this link from Raw Story shows. But in the end, he didn't have a faith based, anti-rights, pro-corporate donor agenda that let the money pour in, and had some dispensed to your campaign if you shut up and got with the program, did he?

Methinks They Doth Protest Too Much

Putting the same old record on the victrola: Republican bashes gays. Republican gets power. Republican is revealed to be pedarast and closet queer.

Sometimes comfortable lies hide very uncomfortable truths, indeed.


And I Thought I Was Too Paranoid

The incredible Memo is here, in its entirety, because you won't find it in the American media, which kow tow to their masters collective conservative voices, wipe their asses and turn over rocks looking for bugs that will make REVE-NEWS. Runaway Bride? Page One! Bush and Blaire cook up plan to invade Iraq and agree to fake data to promote their desire? Independent Counsel? Impeachment? No - just dead air, blankness, flatline from the brain dead media. It doesn't think for itself anymore, just does what it's told. Liberal media my ass. The only liberal left in our media is in the huge portions of conservative dogma they serve daily to the numbed masses.

From The Times in London:
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell
Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:
(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:
(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.
(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.
(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.
(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.
(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.
(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)
MATTHEW RYCROFT (Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Painful Truths about Comfortable Lies

There's been some things sticking in the old Balloon Pirate's craw the past week or so. It's hard to put my finger on it, but it's about hard truths and comfortable lies.

Joan (not her real name) is an old family friend. Her youngest daughter and I went to high school together. She's a very thoughtful and kind person, educated and well-read. What she is not is a spittle-spewing, bible-thumping, hateful and spiteful person.

The other day, she forwarded an email to me. It was a very pretty email full of pictures of our founding fathers, flags, and various images from Our Nations' Capital. It was fairly long, but here's the line that stuck out the most…

Did you know.......

James Madison, the fourth president, known as "The Father of Our Constitution" made the following statement "We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

There was a lot more, talking about all the times the Ten Commandments were included in, on, and around the Supreme Court, but I'm not reprinting it here. This email raised a few flags--the red kind, not the patriotic sort. I'm not by any means a scholar, or even a big history buff, but I do remember from my 10th grade social studies, that Madison was one of the biggest proponents of the separation of church and state. Also, my oldest son went to college in Arlington, so close to DC that we could see the Mall from his campus. I've been to the Supreme Court. I've seen the friezes that were discussed. So, I took a break from looting and plundering and did a bit of research. I could go into detail but suffice it to say that this pseudo-patriotic screed was at best misleading, but mostly out-and-out bullshit. (Frinstance: the Madison quote came from a right-wing revisionist historian who was forced to admit he made it up when confronted by Madison scholars.)I sent Joan a point-by-point rebuttal to the email, and requested she send the rebuttal back to whomever sent it to her in the first place. (to read the entire email, and get a detailed rebuttal far better than I could ever do, go here)

The second thing that got me thinking was Geov Parrish's interview with Al Franken on the website of the Seattle Weekly :

It wasn't the best interview Al's ever done, but one Q and A caught my eye:

Parrish: What do you think the differences are between you and Limbaugh?

Franken: I'm glad you asked me that. I use this example a lot. A few months ago, Rush was talking about the minimum wage. Conservatives like to portray it that no one has to raise a family on the minimum wage—the only people who get the minimum wage are teenagers who want to buy an iPod. So Rush says, "Seventy-five percent of all Americans on the minimum wage, my friends, are teenagers on their first job." And one of the researchers brings this to me, with a smile, and I say, "Well, can you look it up?" And they look it up. The researcher goes to something called the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sixty percent of Americans on minimum wage are 20 and above. Forty percent, then, are either teenagers or below 12 [laughs]. I had several jobs as a teenager, so you figure, what, 13 percent might be teenagers in their first job. Not 75 percent. So where did Rush get his statistic? Well, he got it directly from his butt. It went out his butt, into his mouth, out the microphone, into the air, into the brains of dittoheads. And they believe this stuff.

So we get our labor statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He gets his from the Bureau of Rush's Butt.

Misstatements. Half-truths. Lies. These are the tools used by the opponents of a just and equitable society. I know this is old news; hell, Franken wrote a best-seller about it. That explains Limbaugh. But what about Joan?

Why would a nice, thoughtful and (for her generation) open-minded person blindly pass on an email like that? She's not malicious; the worst thing she's probably ever done is something like complimenting a friend on a godawful haircut.

It's because the lies are more comforting than the truth.

I'm no genius. I'm not an intellectual. I have long ago disabused my self of the notion that I will ever be the smartest person in a room-unless I'm the only one in it. I don't frequent salons where people, as Joni Mitchell put it, 'throw French phrases 'round the room.' Hell, I don't think there's a place like that within driving distance of my house. But I do have one thing going for me: If something I thought was true is proven to be false, I stop believing it's true.

Sometimes that can be a painful thing. And many people can't handle that.

For many people's vision of America is the one they learned from their sixth grade teacher. The one where we were always the good guys. The one where Pilgrims brought civilization to the savage Indians. The one where the cavalry always rode to the rescue. The one where Henry Ford modernized mass production of cars, making them affordable for everyone. The one where hard work will get you ahead, no matter who you are.

And there's truth in all those statements. But not the whole truth. They don't want to know about the America where we were sometimes the greedy, awful bastards. The one where the Pilgrims actively sought to destroy native cultures. The one where the cavalry knowingly sold smallpox-infested blankets to the Indians. The one where Henry Ford was a vicious union-buster and rabid anti-Semite. The one where no matter how hard some people work, they will find it nearly impossible to earn a living wage.

Painful truths. Ones that make people ask questions about their country. Difficult questions. And many don't want to do that.

So, with the help of spinmeisters, revisionist historians, and other nameless, faceless people, comfortable lies are created, and circulated. The internet gives them lives of their own. Fat, drug-addled radio personalities throw them out. They sound plausible, reasonable. And, they sound like the America their sixth-grade teacher told them about.



There really were WMD's in Iraq: Comfortable lie. The judges who ruled in favor of Michael Schaivo were activist judges: Comfortable lie. We're one nation under God, and that God is the traditional Judeo-Christian God: Comfortable lie. Homosexuality is a choice: Comfortable lie.

And right now, the comfortable lie is being used to bring about sweeping changes to our society. Changes that threaten to roll back most, if not all of the progress that has been made to make ours a just, equitable, and tolerant society.

Oh, and I got a response from Joan. She thanked me for giving her something to think about, and that I was so much smarter than she was.

Maybe she'll stop and wonder the next time she hears that gay couples are far more likely to abuse foster children. Maybe she'll stop and think about why there was widespread abuse in Iraqi prisons, yet none of the blame went to the officers who were in charge of those prisons.

Maybe. But the smart money's still on the comfortable lie.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Welcome to the Balloon Pirate

Who will now be posting regularly on this site and will be keeping us all thinking a little bit harder. Welcome!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Faith Based Agenda Reveals Itself Again

Getting future campaign donations from yet another industry, Bush lifts the ban on roads, logging and development of 58 million acres of protected land. The "faith based agenda" reveals itself again. It has very little to do with faith, with religion, or with the word of God which seemed to involve something akin to "helping the poor and healing the sick," didn't it? I missed the part about "keep getting the cash in, keep shoring up your support from every powerful industry." Shatter the environment? Raze the earth and step on the poor if they're in your way? No problem, they're not powerful, can't support the opposition and you still win. Score: Moral Values: 0. Ethics: 0.

Is There In Truth No Beauty? Wait, There is!

This just in: There is no mandate. Ah, sweet reality hits home at least to the mainstream media in this Washington Post article. Not expecting the tinted glass at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which is mirrored on the inside, to let in this little tidbit of news, but the rest of us out here can't deny that the polls are crashing down around the GOP like the walls of Jericho. Bush is polling slightly below the remains of the titanic at 44% approval, but wait - the GOP lead Congress is actually polling lower at 38%, way to go DeLay/Frist! In general the latest public affairs works by the GOP, social security, Terri Schiavo, hell even Tom DeLay's ethics issues and otter little things like the war, the environment and the deficit are beginning to register on the national radar. The "faith based" administration, running on a cocktail of ideology and a priori knowledge that won't be led astray by the facts or good intuition, may hit a nasty wall in 2006 and 2008 as the majority of voters begin to realize that the big tax break they counted on and voted Bush in for, boils down to a measly $600 a piece, while the vastly wealthy Bush Inc. friends and donors will be receiving a yearly break of $54,ooo a piece. Nice. The message: vote for fire and brimstone, and you will get burned.

God Hates Democratic Baptists!

My good friend BOPDemocrat has graciously allowed me to post on his wonderful blog. Many thanks, Phil!

I'll occasionally drop in and post a rant or two. I'm working on a big one now. But this article caught my eye, so I thought I'd share it.

Now, we pirates are known to be a scurrilous, scruffy bunch, who care for naught but the next plunder, but I must admit that I'm a very spiritual man. I have a God that helps me every day, keeps me sane, and reminds me to keep doing the next right thing. The God of my understanding could really not give two holy shits about who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, #10 Downnig Street, or who occupies the basalt throne of the undiscovered Ululu tribe. The God of my understanding cares about compassion, about spiritual growth, and about honesty and integrity.

That being said, I'll bet my God can kick Chan Chandler's God's ass.


Sunday, May 01, 2005

Hard To Keep Up With The Bad News

The new Energy Bill so eagerly signed by the president and pushed through by the GOP is rife with anti consumer, anti environment, anti economy perqs for Big Oil. One of the most unpleasant is the protection from lawsuits against MBTE, the deadly additive in gasoline. Lawsuits against Big Gas have been locked up in the courts for years while they dump millions at congress through lobbyists to protect their asses. Today, they win. "This doesn't slap them on the wrist, it pats them on the back" says Pelosi, Dem leader. More of Corporate America the Beautiful as George Bush's salt-the-earth-campaign continues against anyone who can't pony up the $2000 a dinner plate at any conveniently located pre-screened campaign donation dinner event near you.