Friday, December 30, 2005

How did we get here?

I thought of a great Talking Heads song today, it's called Once in a Lifetime.
Sort of existential rock & roll:

And you may find yourself living in a shot gun shack.
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful
And you may ask yourself-Well...How did I get here?

I'd like to suggest a parody for the Neocons of this adminstration:

And you may find yourself lying to Americans about weapons of mass destruction.
And you may find yourself neck deep in Iraq.
And you may find yourself trapped behind the wheel of a large Bradley fighting vehicle.
And you may find yourself locked in an endless battle with insurgents.
And you may ask yourself - Well...How did I get here?

Want to know how they got us here? There's an interesting article in the London Guardian
written by Dr. Richard Drayton, a senior lecturer in history at Cambridge University that details how the neocons conned us into this war.
And it's more diabolical than I ever dreamed of. Here are some excerpts:

Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance - a key strategic document published in 1996 - aimed to understand how to destroy the "will to resist before, during and after battle". For Harlan Ullman of the National Defence University, its main author, the perfect example was the atom bomb at Hiroshima. But with or without such a weapon, one could create an illusion of unending strength and ruthlessness. Or one could deprive an enemy of the ability to communicate, observe and interact - a macro version of the sensory deprivation used on individuals - so as to create a "feeling of impotence". And one must always inflict brutal reprisals against those who resist. An alternative was the "decay and default" model, whereby a nation's will to resist collapsed through the "imposition of social breakdown".

All of this came to be applied in Iraq in 2003, and not merely in the March bombardment called "shock and awe". It has been usual to explain the chaos and looting in Baghdad, the destruction of infrastructure, ministries, museums and the national library and archives, as caused by a failure of Rumsfeld's planning. But the evidence is this was at least in part a mask for the destruction of the collective memory and modern state of a key Arab nation, and the manufacture of disorder to create a hunger for the occupier's supervision. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported in May 2003, US troops broke the locks of museums, ministries and universities and told looters: "Go in Ali Baba, it's all yours!

For the American imperial strategists invested deeply in the belief that through spreading terror they could take power. Neoconservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the recently indicted Lewis "Scooter" Libby, learned from Leo Strauss that a strong and wise minority of humans had to rule over the weak majority through deception and fear, rather than persuasion or compromise. They read Le Bon and Freud on the relationship of crowds to authority. But most of all they loved Hobbes's Leviathan. While Hobbes saw authority as free men's chosen solution to the imperfections of anarchy, his 21st century heirs seek to create the fear that led to submission. And technology would make it possible and beautiful.

Being a superpower, however, doesn't always make you super successful:
One small nation can tie down a superpower. Air and space supremacy do not give command on the ground. People can't be terrorised into identification with America. The US has proved able to destroy massively - but not create, or even control. Afghanistan and Iraq lie in ruins, yet the occupiers cower behind concrete mountains.

Proof once more that hubris, agression and arrogance create a mighty stupefying cocktail. I say it's time we cut off this administration and had them sober up.
My New Year's resolution is to fight the lying bastards even harder this year.

Be good and let's hope next year is damn site better than this one...

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Craig Murray is the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He complained too loudly about the repeated human rights violations that the Uzbek government was involved in, such as boiling dissidents alive. He protested vociferously about the use of information gathered by torture in the war on terror. He pointed out that the information gathered was of no use anyhow, that the confessions were from 'dupes' who were signing confessions that made it look like the Uzbeks were fighting the same war as the US and UK. I don't know about you, but if I was made to sit and watch as my children were tortured, I would sign just about anything to get them to stop.

That's one of the techniques that was used by Uzbeks. Torturing children in front of parents.

Hell, at least they weren't boiled alive.

Oops, they do that too.

Well, Craig Murray didn't think that was the right way to fight a war on terror. So he protested. He was removed from office. He said he would publish the memos he had made while Ambassador. Citing the Official Secrets Act, the British Government banned him from doing that. He did it anyway.

That link was working when I looked this afternoon. It's not working now. (UPDATE: It appears to be working again. 9:40 am 12/31/05) Luckily, bloggers picked it up, and are posting it around the world. Here in the US, Kos, among others, have published it.

As I read them, what I notice is that no one is really denying that the UK is using evidence gained by torture. There was even a rather nit-picky memo sent by a legal adviser pointing out that, essentially, not illegal to recieve evidence obtained by torture. The answer, essentially is it's legal as long as it doesn't make it to court.

Here's part of one memo:

1. We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.

2. I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.

3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.

So what's the US position on this? Uzbekistan is given a quarter billion dollars in aid annually, three-fifths of which is military.

In an era when so many jobs are being outsourced to other countries, it's nice to know we do the same thing with our torture.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

ID and Ego

The claim that equity demands balanced treatment of evolutionary theory and special creation in science classrooms reflects a misunderstanding of what science is and how it is conducted. Scientific investigators seek to understand natural phenomena by observation and experimentation. Scientific interpretations of facts and the explanations that account for them therefore must be testable by observation and experimentation.
-Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition, p. 26

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.
To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.
The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

Katzmiller, et al, v. Dover Area School District, et al pp136-137

Last Wednesday, the ever-thoughful Polanco blogged about the decision handed down in Pennsylvania regarding Intelligent Design. The very first comment made was from a woman who wrote: "It's amazing how many evolutionists are scared of alternative theories. "

Hoo boy.

That comment pisses me off no end. I have spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out why it pisses me off. And I discovered that it was because it sums up a whole plethora of misconceptions many have about the whole kerfuffle. Let me count the ways:

First off: The use of the term evolutionist. Webster's defines an evolutionist as "a student of or adherent to a theory of evolution." That's fine, but I'm getting the feeling that this term is being bandied about by those who would like to see Intelligent Design incorporated into high-school science classes in much the same way as others are using terms like 'abortionist' and 'liberal'--in other words, with scorn and disdain. As an exercise, I typed 'evolutionist' in the 'search blogs' window at the top of the screen, and sure enough, the majority of bloggers on the top of the list (first three pages) were supporters of ID. This doesn't suggest that the majority of blogger out there support ID. It does, however, suggest that the majority of bloggers who use the term 'evolutionist' aren't supporters of evolution.

I keep telling myself this isn't a valid scientific process, but then I remind myself that the proponents of ID don't seem to be too keen on valid science, so fuck it.

Then, I went to google and searched 'evolutionist theory,' and found a whole bunch of 'talking point' websites, and almost as many sites 'debating' (as polite a word as I can come up with) the issue.

What I didn't find was a whole bunch of actual evolutionists who had anything to say about the issue. Again, I'm not saying they are silent on the subject; just that I couldn't find any using popular web searches.

My conclusion: Evolutionists really aren't debating this topic.

And why should they? They left this topic years ago. Perhaps a century ago.

This goes to the second part of the sentence--that evolutionists are scared of alternative theories.

As far as I can tell, true evolutionists--scientists who have made the study of evolution their life's work--are no more scared of the 'alternative theory' of Intelligent Design than geologists are scared of the the alternative theories of the Flat Earth Society.

In other words: evolutionists aren't really in this debate at all. Shouldn't that tell us something?

They aren't in this debate because, in my opinion--and in the opinion of the Republican, Bush-appointed judge who handed down this ruling--this debate really isn't about evolution, or Intelligent Design, or anything at all scientific.

So what's it about? It's about free thinking.

Look at it this way: The odds of any one of those ninth-graders in the Dover School District growing up to be an elite research scientist in any field is probably comparable to the odds of any of those kids growing up to be a Major League Baseball player. This isn't a slam on their intelligence any more than it's a slam on their physical prowess. Statistically, there's not a lot of either types in the general population. In fact, twenty-five years from now, those kids will probably know more about baseball than evolutionary theory.

That's because, on the whole, the evolution/ID debate doesn't really matter. It will honestly matter less in their lives than the wins and losses of the Phillies.

What matters--what really is to me the heart and soul of this debate--is that, for those ninth graders, many of them for the first time in their lives, will be asked to think. To conjecture. To come up with conclusions that they will have to factually support.

That's the true importance of high-school science for the overwhelming majority of us. It teaches us to weigh facts. It gives us a structure to reach rational conclusions. It give us a tool to use when deciding what to do. That is the great gift of science. The ability to be dispassionate about something.

By introducing ID into the fray at this point, in the venue of science the message becomes muddied. One of my Dad's favorite cartoons showed two researchers in front of a huge blackboard. The left side of the blackboard was filled with this huge mathematical equation, as was the right side. In the middle, were four words: 'Then a miracle occurs.' And one researcher says to the other: 'I think you might have a problem with step number two.'

Intelligent Design wants you to belive there is no problem with step number two.

Perhaps there isn't. But the debate over that should not ever be in ninth-grade science.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Distinguished Leaders of the Right comment on the President's actions

These are their direct quotes:
Rep. Marge Roukema (R-N.J.):

And we all share in the emotional trauma getting back to our subject of this constitutional crisis in which we are ensnared. But this cup cannot pass us by, we can't avoid it, we took an oath of office, Mr. Speaker, to uphold the Constitution under our democratic system of government, separation of powers, and checks and balances.

And we must fulfill that oath and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial. Now I say personally, and all of you who know me, and a lot of you do, I've been around a long time; I bear no personal animosity towards the president. But we in the House did not seek this constitutional confrontation.

Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.):

How can we expect a Boy Scout to honor his oath if elected officials don't honor theirs? How can we expect a business executive to honor a promise when the chief executive abandons his or hers?

Rep. Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.):

How did this great nation of the 1990s come to be? It all happened Mr. Speaker, because freedom works. . . . But freedom, Mr. Speaker, freedom depends upon something. The rule of law. And that's why this solemn occasion is so important. For today we are here to defend the rule of law. According to the evidence presented by our fine Judiciary Committee, the president of the United States has committed serious transgressions.

Among other things, he took an oath to God, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And then he failed to do so. Not once, but several times. If we ignore this evidence, I believe we undermine the rule of law that is so important that all America is. Mr. Speaker, a nation of laws cannot be ruled by a person who breaks the law. Otherwise, it would be as if we had one set of rules for the leaders and another for the governed. We would have one standard for the powerful, the popular and the wealthy, and another for everyone else.

This would belie our ideal that we have equal justice under the law. That would weaken the rule of law and leave our children and grandchildren with a very poor legacy. I don't know what challenges they will face in their time, but I do know they need to face those challenges with the greatest constitutional security and the soundest rule of fair and equal law available in the history of the world. And I don't want us to risk their losing that....
You knew they were talking about Clinton, right? This and more great nostalgic travels in hypocrisy from Democratic Underground.

Is Fox News our Al Jazeera?

Just asking. I've quoted this before:
But what really separates Fox from the competition is its unabashed use of religion as a divisive weapon. Common sense -- and common courtesy -- have long dictated that personal religious beliefs be kept out of news reporting unless the story at hand involves religion. But on Fox, it’s not uncommon for an anchor to raise the issue of a guest’s religion, or lack thereof, a’ propos of nothing. (more)
John Moody, of course, at the bottom of it. He was there at the start, Under Roger Ailes, who have such a pro-right, religous oriented agenda.
"There is a formula to Fox's news agenda. "A lot of the people we have hired," Fox executive John Moody explained (Inside Media, 12/11/96) when the network was launched, "have come without the preconceptions of must-do news. There are stories we will sometimes forego in order to do stories we think are more significant. The biggest strength that we have is that Roger Ailes has allowed me to do that; to forego stores that would be 'duty' stories in order to focus on other things."
That's code, of course, for religious oriented, divisive programming, conservative biased programming, etc.
Former CBS producer Don Dahler resigned from Fox after executive John Moody ordered him to change a story to play down statistics showing a lack of social progress among blacks. (Moody says the change was journalistically justified--New York, 11/17/97.) According to the Columbia Journalism Review (3-4/98), "several" former Fox employees "complained of 'management sticking their fingers' in the writing and editing of stories to cook the facts to make a story more palatable to right-of-center tastes." Said one: "I've worked at a lot of news organizations and never found that kind of manipulation."
Looks and sounds like a news channel with reporters, interviews and headlines, but has a political and religious agenda. Yeah, I was right. They're our Al Jazeera.

Oh, this is intersting too: FOX NEWS in rating free fall:

TV Newser cited a CNN press release which gave these totals for Fox's primetime audience in the 25 to 54 age bracket: Oct. 04: 1,074,000; Nov. 04: 891,000; Dec. 04: 568,000; Jan. 05: 564,000; Feb. 05: 520,000; March 05: 498,000; April 05: 445,000. That amounts to a decline of 58 percent, with no sign of leveling off.

Other cable stations' ratings were also down since the election, but CNN's, for example, appeared to have stabilized last month while Fox's continued to drop. (more)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

So This Is Christmas

"War is over, if you want it."

John Lennon - 1971

He's still singing to us.

Happy Christmas.

9/11 and the creep of dictatorship

Bush is fond of saying 9/11 changed everything. He’s right - to a degree. 9/11 and the threat of terrorism definitely made us more vulnerable. Not to terrorists. But to an administration that was willing to play on and exploit our fears thus giving them the cover to do whatever they wanted.

Spy on us. Torture. Render suspects (i.e. kidnap) to foreign countries where they would be brutally tortured. Sic the FBI to spy on peace groups. 9/11 enabled Bush’s administration to push the envelope of legality. And ultimately smash it.

Bush lied and continues to lie about the connection between Al Quaeda and Hussein. We went to war in Iraq based on the ramblings of a prisoner who was being tortured by Egyptians and he told them what they wanted to hear. Cheney’s buddy Achmed Chalabi, Curveball and PR manipulation also greased the skids into battle, as told in the amazing Rolling Stone article. Now, Pentagon anti-terror
investigators are going after gay law school groups.

They lied that the war was over. Mission Accomplished.
They lied about the insurgents being in “the last throws” They lie about how many Iraqis troops are battle ready. They lie about poll figures that actually show the Iraqis are fed up with us being there.
There's other evidence of the United States' increasing unpopularity: Two-thirds now oppose the presence of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, 14 points higher than in February 2004. Nearly six in 10 disapprove of how the United States has operated in Iraq since the war, and most of them disapprove strongly. And nearly half of Iraqis would like to see U.S. forces leave soon.

They plant stories in the Iraqi papers. Nothing in the administration is ever above board or done in the bright light of day. It's always dank, secret and covert.

Condoleeza Rice went to Europe and told them we don’t kidnap and torture people.
Big fat lie. And, they lied when they said the Iraqi elections were fair and accurate.

But probably the most egregious lie of all is when they say they are only trying to protect us. Doing it for our own good. Spare me. Because they are acting, as they always have, in their own self-interest.

Now, Bush is willing to trash the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to protect you and I. He's lying when he says it gives him the power. I would rather he would use it to impeach himself.

These are very dangerous times we are living through. And I'm going to quote a great movie called the Seven Days in May. Check out the original with Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.
It's about how a General Scott, tries to stage a coup on our government because he is so convinced he knows what's best for the country. The President of the U.S. is talking about the General:

He's not the enemy. Scott, the Joint Chiefs, even the very emotional, very illogical lunatic fringe: they're not the enemy. The enemy's an age - a nuclear age. It happens to have killed man's faith in his ability to influence what happens to him. And out of this comes a sickness, and out of sickness a frustration, a feeling of impotence, helplessness, weakness. And from this, this desperation, we look for a champion in red, white, and blue. Every now and then a man on a white horse rides by, and we appoint him to be our personal god for the duration. For some men it was a Senator McCarthy, for others it was a General Walker, and now it's a General Scott.

Change the word "nuclear" to "terrorist" and "Scott" to "Bush" and you have a pretty good description of what's happening now. Bush is not our champion even though he likes to wrap himself in the flag. He is as uninformed about what powers the constitution gives him as he is clueless about everything else in this world. Write or email your congress people and Senators and encourage them to look into this domestic spying. We can't give these people another inch...

Sunday, December 18, 2005


The advantage to having a President who didn't pay much attention in school, isn't exactly sure what the right thing to do in any situation is, doesn't trust himself intellectually and because of that holds on to simplistic black and white concepts because he can understand and defend them, is that he is eventually going to drop the ball, one that he's quite good at carrying by the way as he mis-leads down the field, but drop the ball nonetheless. And he finally did that on Friday when he admitted that he broke the law.

It dropped jaws on both sides of the aisle, because as much as his administration has screwed up under his watch, he himself has never been linked directly to a crime. Until now.

The irony of it is, he still doesn't get it.

After The New York Times reported, and CNN confirmed, a claim that Bush gave the National Security Agency license to eavesdrop on Americans communicating with people overseas, the president said that his actions were permissible, but that leaking the revelation to the media was illegal.

During an unusual live, on-camera version of his weekly radio address, Bush said such authorization is "fully consistent" with his "constitutional responsibilities and authorities." (CNN)

"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Other key bipartisan members of Congress also called on the administration to explain and said a congressional investigation may be necessary. (CNN the next day)

There's something called the fourth ammendment:

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, note that the Constitution's Fourth Amendment prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures" and requires a show of probable cause before warrants are issued. Also, the Communications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Criminal Code have provisions limiting or banning the interception of electronic communications. (USA Today)(the next day)

But being a President who has no interest in his own schooling, traveling, history, or historical context, he couldn't imagine why his own idea that seemed good, isn't good enough. Why doesn't it just trump constitutional context, or legal violation? What's the big deal?

Well, when you live in a little bubble I suppose you could decide that torture was okay too, or that dropping the guarantee of a minimum wage to those in a national disaster area desperate for jobs was okay, or that changing social security to a private plan the in NO WAY IMPROVED the senior payment plan and might REDUCE it but would make walls street rich was okay.... and on and on...

Which is not a bad track record for one leader who over and over again proves he is unfit to lead or is unfit for office. But now that he's admitted to breaking the law, there's ground for impeachment.

You know, the oath for the office of President is not particularly long. And except for the extra adjectives and some decorative prepositions basically says: "I promise to uphold, preserve, protect and defend the constitution and the laws of this country."

Period. That's it. You don't even have to take a test and get a license.

So - signing or giving an order that is a violation of the law of this country is grounds for impeachment. It violates the oath of office. That's what Nixon did. Supposedly that's what Clinton did, it's what Starr hung his whole case on "A constitutional officer LIED." (I never slept with that woman). It wasn't the act of sex, it was the LIE.

Well, Bush has that in droves. The great irony here is that his one TRUTH he's proudly splashing across the media and in his TV address is that he broke the law.

And he still doesn't get it.

In 2006, when all the diebold machines are recalled for their security failures, or the company folds because of its SEC violations (two counties already recalled them in Florida), and the votes in this country are really counted, and Democrats win back either the House or the Senate, watch everyone be tired of the Bushit and start the process to Impeach.

Bush is not above the law.

Today on Meet The Press, Condoleeza Rice claimed that Bush was following the rule of law in spying domestically on American citizens. Except, that's a lie. He's not.
To be following the rule of law he would have needed to get a court order either before or immediately after a wire tap. But that's not what was the most fascinating statement she made. She said Bush would do everything he could to protect us and that's why he decided he needed to spy on us, so that he would find out information that would help in protecting us.

If that's really the case, why didn't he heed the intelligence report he got the month prior to the 9/11 attack while he was on vacation in Crawford? The report that was intrigueingly titled: BIN LADEN DETERMINDED TO ATTACK INSIDE THE UNITED STATES BUT, BUSH DID NOTHING ABOUT IT.

There was no domestic follow-up by the Bush administration, no high level meetings, no sense of urgency. No warnings of FBI agents across the country.

We cannot trust this guy to do what is right, what is smart, or what is in our best interest. This is the most incompetent, delusional president we have ever had. He is the least interested, least informed President we've ever had. He works primarily on "gut instincts". I don't trust his gut any more than I trust his brain.
We need to impeach him and his entire administration.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A New Low

A group called the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License wants to put billboards like this up in North Carolina, Wisconsin and New Mexico, and is shocked--shocked--that anyone might consider this to smack of racism.
[North Carolina] Transportation Department spokesman Ernie Seneca called the premise for the ad “flat-out wrong [and] totally inaccurate” and said the ad itself was offensive.
As a person who has lived in North Carolina, I can honestly say that if the Tar Heel State thinks something is racially offensive, then you've got no wiggle room whatsoever in this area.

Now, I don't know if the goals of this group are worthy ones or not. Perhaps they are. I haven't really read anything about this possible loophole in the War on Violence Committed or Threatened by a Group to Intimidate or Coerce a Population. But the fact that they consider a billboard like this to be appropriate speaks volumes about our current social climate.

I remember driving through Indiana in the early '70's with my family, and seeing signs at the borders of some small towns that read "Nigger, don't let the sun set on you here." This sign doesn't match those for gut-level offensiveness; but they're damn close.


Tide is Turning. Tired of the Bushit

This is a big deal:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the USA Patriot Act as infringing too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47. (CNN) (From Raw Story)

It's because of support of the 70% of the country who write in, call, email and let these people know they are not happy with this administration. Period. These aren't leaders just suddenly doing the right thing, these are leaders reflecting a pissed off population who want to keep their jobs.


CNN Dumps Novak

Robert Novak
Robert Novak (AP Photo)

For one outburst of "this is bullshit?" and walking off the set? Not that I'll miss his one-sided shilling. But there's a long history of right-sided reporting here that made a lot of money for him and the network. I wonder if Bob stepped into his own right wing issue of FCC vulgarity violation, or if it's something more at work:

Could it have something to do with his statement: "I'm confident the president knows who the source is. I'd be amazed if he doesn't," Novak said at a Tuesday lunch address to the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh...?

CNN says:
From: Emery, Edie
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 11:09 AM
Subject: CNN statement regarding Mr. Novak

"After 25 years of serving as a CNN commentator and program host, our colleague Bob Novak's tenure on the network will come to a close (effective 12/31). Through the years, Bob has offered incisive analysis for much of CNN's programming, including Crossfire, The Capital Gang, Inside Politics, Evans and Novak, The Novak Zone, and Novak, Hunt and Shields. Bob has also been a valued contributor to CNN's political coverage. We appreciate his many contributions and wish him well in future endeavors," said Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S.

Edie Emery, CNN PR

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Let's do the perp walk again.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about several Republicans who were indicted or about to be. One was James Tobin. Today he was convicted for his part in a plot to jam the Democrats' phones on election day 2002. The federal jury acquitted him of conspiring to violate voters' rights. But they nailed him on telephone harrassment.
That alone could get him up to seven years in the big house and $500,000 in fines.

His crime?
For nearly two hours on Election Day 2002, hundreds of hang-up calls overwhelmed Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks in New Hampshire and a ride-to-the-polls line run by Manchester's firefighters union.

Tobin, who at the time was New England chairman of Bush's re-election campaign and a top regional official of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was accused of orchestrating the phone-jamming.

In August, the Republican National Committee acknowledged it had spent more than $722,000 to provide Tobin with lawyers from a high-powered Washington law firm. Party officials who said they ordinarily would not discuss such matters said they underwrote Tobin's defense because he was a longtime supporter and assured them he had committed no crimes. (Ha! That was money well spent!)

Tobin's lawyer declined to comment after the verdict.

The former executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, Chuck McGee, who admitted coming up with the idea, served a seven-month sentence for conspiracy.

As Bush would say, (and probably did) Heck of a job there, Toby! Too f*cking bad you were caught. Tobin is scheduled to be sentenced in March. Let's hope he gets the maximum. But, hey, he won't be lonely for long. Because Abramoff, Libby, and so many others are bound to join him in the Federal Prison System soon.

Come on Iraqis, get out there and vote!

This election needs to be successful.

That way we can set a timetable for withdrawal, I'm mean victory and bring our troops home. Shrubco will have no reason to keep them there. The Neocons will have their middle eastern democracy and the Iraqis will have their Islamic Republic. Win/Win

Three cheers for the purple finger!

ps. Send a care package to our troops who can't be home for xmas this year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Fair and Balanced and Hateful and Divisive

Fox News, headed by Roger Ailes, ex-DC Gop operative and VP John Moody (scholar and devout catholic who frames his religiouis views in good guy-bad guy terms) , uses religious confrontation to foister division and to cut a new swath for cable news:
"From CHARLIE REINA, former Fox News Channel producer: As with many conflicts, particularly the manufactured kind, dishonesty, greed and ignorance are the culprits behind Fox News Channel's so-called “War on Christmas.” - more.
Charlie knows becuase he worked there for six years. See his take on how "fair and blanced" or on how "we report - you decide" is complete hokum.

Point Blank Disgraceful

Heard a fairly shocking story today and you can read more about it here.

The story involves the wealthy maker of bullet proof vests. The continuing recall of about 21,000 of those vests, and blow-out Bat Mitzvah.

David H. Brooks (I assume the H stands for “Hell yes I’m making profits on this war!”) is the CEO of DHB Industries. DHB makes and supplies bulletproof vests for our guys in Iraq. They’re called Point Blank Body Armor. These vests are supposed to stop rounds of ammo, schrapnel, pesky things like that. Funny thing is though, according to an investigation by the Marines Corp Times, these vests can’t stop a 9 millimeter bullet. Which is pretty pathetic considering that the insurgents are using things like AK47s and big car bombs which can do much more damage than a measly 9 millimeter bullet.

Even funnier is, that in spite of the fact that these vests are about as protective as goose-down, the Army keeps giving DHB and Brooks, millions and millions of tax payer dollars in contracts to produce more faulty vests which are then recalled and then they get millions more to make thousands more. See the vicious cycle here?
“On November 21, the Army Times reported, “The Army and Marine Corps are recalling more than 18,000 body armor vests because they failed ballistic requirements when they were manufactured in 1999-2000. Many of those vests may now be in the war zone. The Nov. 16 recall order is the second in six months for the Marines. The Corps recalled more than 5,000 vests in May. All of the vests involved were produced by the same manufacturer, Point Blank Body Armor Inc. of Pompano Beach, Fla., under contract to the Marine Corps.””

So what is Brooks doing about all this? Well, when his daughter turned 13, he threw her a $10 million dollar Bat Mitzvah for 300 of their bestest friends in New York’s elite Rainbow Room. Hosted by Tom Petty, starring Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Kenny G., Aerosmith and 50 Cent. How could he afford a $10 million dollar soiree like that? Well it’s no problem when you’re earning $250 million in income and stock compensation.

Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war veteran and founder of Operation Truth said,
“It is already disturbing that anyone can live the high-life as a result of the booming war business, but it is particularly disheartening to hear about someone having their own private Lollapalooza, in part from the sale of defective equipment that put our troops in harm’s way. America must take a long, hard look at the idea of profit on the battlefield.”

And just as a comparison, the average soldier putting his life on the line over there is lucky if he earns $30, 000 a year.

You know, when you earn $250 million dollars a year on the backs of our soldiers, you probably don’t want the war to end. I wonder how many more military suppliers like the guys who bribed Randy Puke Cunningham feel that way.

Maybe the H stands for Heinous.

More Dead in Ohio

A law that will make democracy all but moot in Ohio is about to pass the state legislature and to be signed by its Republican governor. Despite massive corruption scandals besieging the Ohio GOP, any hope that the Democratic party could win this most crucial swing state in future presidential elections, or carry its pivotal U.S. Senate seat in 2006, are about to end.

HB3's most publicized provision will require positive identification before casting a vote. But it also opens voter registration activists to partisan prosecution, exempts electronic voting machines from public scrutiny, quintuples the cost of citizen-requested statewide recounts and makes it illegal to challenge a presidential vote count or, indeed, any federal election result in Ohio. When added to the recently passed HB1, which allows campaign financing to be dominated by the wealthy and by corporations, and along with a Rovian wish list of GOP attacks on the ballot box, democracy in Ohio could be all but over.

The GOP is ramming similar bills through state legislatures around the U.S., starting with Georgia and Indiana. The ID requirements in particular have provoked widespread opposition from newspapers such as the New York Times. The Times, among others, argues that the ID requirements and the costs associated with them, constitute an unconstitutional discriminatory poll tax.

But despite significant court challenges, the Republicans are forcing changes in long-standing election laws that have allowed citizens to vote based on their signature alone. Across the U.S., GOP Jim Crow laws will eliminate millions of Democratic voters from the registration rolls. In swing states like Ohio, such ballots are almost certain to be crucial.

A comment at the end of the piece writes: "I almost wish this wasn't so well-written."

I agree.

And the noose tightens, and rich white men rejoice.


Monday, December 12, 2005

We Welcome the Cranky Yankee

Who joins us as a contributor to this site, and will post as his busy schedule permits.

Okay, maybe he won't and it's just a vanity plate.

I'm just saying.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddle Masses, and Let Me Really Screw Them

You all know that's from a poem of course (except the last bit), but do you remember where it's engraved? On the pedastal of the Statue of Liberty, the symbol of welcome and opened armed protection to those in need to come here to America, for care.

The poor from Katrina's devastation continue to suffer, continue to be forgotten, as if the GOP who are controlling the funds are just hoping they will GO AWAY.
"When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans it was the city's poor - almost exclusively African Americans - who were left to fend for themselves as the city drowned in a lake of toxic sludge. Now, three months on, the same people have been abandoned once again by a reconstruction effort that seems determined to prevent them from returning. They are the victims of a devastating combination of forced evictions, a failure to reopen the city's public house projects, rent gouging and - as in the case of Mildred - a decision to write off whole neighbourhoods."

From the Observer Article.
Problem is, they're people, who are poor, and sick, so they don't evaporate. Of course they tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic. And I know the GOP are hoping that if you go down their moral values check list, they will find a box entitled IGNORE next to those "in need".

Problem is, if you are the government when you take your pledge, you have a sworn oath to uphold the duties of your office. Last time I checked it didn't include ignoring catastrophic destruction brought to entire cities by natural disasters. That is, unless you're handing out contracts to your corporate buddies for whatever rebuild you deem neccessary and not the locals who need them. They've got that problem covered.

It's unfortunate for the poor that the huddled masses referred to in the poem are from everywhere but here. The poem could have a footnote: "If you start here and you're poor, why don't you just drop dead?" But I'm not sure that rhymes.

But the poor can't get anyone's ear as they can't plunk down the $1000 a dinner plate for a Bush fundraiser.

Footnote: (Poverty has increased in every year of the George Bush administration).

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Run on Fear, Run in Fear

Really, is he just this scared of ex-President Clinton? Bush is the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, right? What's he afraid of? That he's not as popular? That Clinton will just tell the truth, which really throws Bush off his game?

"Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on to the Kyoto global-warming protocol would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal, according to a source involved with the negotiations who spoke to New York Magazine on condition of anonymity.

Bush officials informed organizers of their intention to pull out of the new Kyoto deal late Thursday afternoon, soon after news leaked that Clinton was scheduled to speak, the source said..." More.


Out of the Mouths of Babes in Arms

Sometimes the big picture is best seen by what it's made up of, lots of little pictures. The way a television picture is really the assemblage of thousands of dots of color. If those colors all shift in one direction, the big picture sways in that direction as well, it can't help it, it's inexorably linked.

Seems like the Bush Administration is trying to insist that the big picture is green, when all the little dots are really reporting red.

But lying is BOP (basic operating procedure). Of course debunking the lie is BOPD (Burned Out Paranoid Democrat).

"Before I begin, let me state that I am a soldier currently deployed in Iraq, I am not an armchair quarterback. Nor am I some politically idealistic and naïve young soldier, I am an old and seasoned Non-Commissioned Officer with nearly 20 years under my belt. Additionally, I am not just a soldier with a muds-eye view of the war, I am in Civil Affairs and as such, it is my job to be aware of all the events occurring in this country and specifically in my region.

I have come to the conclusion that we cannot win here for a number of reasons. Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality..." More.

Also from
"Stop Loss is devastating to troop morale. Many Soldiers affected by Stop Loss have already served one or even two tours of combat duty, only to be extended when they were expecting to be finished with their service. Besides damaging troop morale, Stop Loss could possibly lead to a drop in recruitment and reenlistment rates, thus weakening our Armed Forces..." More.
How about some thoughts from an an expert on Capital Hill who's not afraid to say the truth.
"Most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth," Rep. John Murtha told a civic group."

"Murtha, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, expressed pessimism about Iraq's stability and said the Iraqis know who the insurgents are, but don't always share that information with U.S. troops. He said a civil war is likely because of ongoing factionalism among Sunni Arabs, and Kurds and Shiites. He also said he was wrong to vote to support the war." More.
Unlike the White House, Right Wing pundits, or psuedo professionals called in to be talking heads on Fox News, Murtha gets all his information from only one place: The Military. He knows what he's talking about regardless of Bush's need to tarnish any enemy.

And to show how fair and balanced we can be, some thoughts from soldiers with a positive attitude. What's heartbreaking is hearing how they're trying to bring in a bit of Home town back yard into their hell.
"Well not much going on here. It is much colder at night and in the morning. Very much like home. There is a lot of talk about leave and it seems like every day I am taking someone to go on leave. Being shorthanded is tough being a small company but we are doing okay with it. We are still waiting for the much anticipated rainy season that so far has only given us 2 days worth not lasting more then 20 min each. When the roads get wet the vehicles like to slide as if we are on ice and that will make for some interesting challenges in the future. We are just about complete on improving our unit area. The other day we had a cookout that was nice we also invited the former B TRP guys, it was good to see a lot of them again..." More.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Arnold and the taint of ill-gotten campaign funds.

Do you smell that? Smells like something rotten. You know like bad eggs or a dead skunk. Yep. That's the smell of tainted money. And as much as politicians love
to receive it. The minute the media finds out the donations are illegal or immoral, the politicians can't wait to get rid of it.
Except it seems, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger.

Apparently Brent Wilkes, the one that bestowed all the ill-gotten bribes on Randy
"Puke" Cunningham, also donated $73,000 to Arnold. And in a complete coincidence I'm sure, Arnold appointed Wilkes to two board seats. One to the Del Mar Fair Board and the other to the State Race Track Leasing Commission. On November 29th, the Governator, asked Wilkes to resign. That's great. But what about the $73,000?
according to today's LA Times article Arnold says: "at the present time" the money would not be returned.

That's pretty much what he told the state of Ohio when it was discovered the unscrupulous and now indicted Tom Noe, he of the multi-million dollar Coingate scandal that drained the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Fund of money, donated 10 Grand to Arnold. It wasn't until Ohio State Senator Marc Dann put the screws to Arnold to give up the money, that Arnold coughed up it up. But you know what he did? He didn't donate it to charity. He gave it back to Tom Noe! According to a Toledo Blade article (which has done a fabulous job uncovering that scandal.)

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could have cleared his campaign coffers of Tom Noe’s $10,000 in contributions by donating the money to a charity or the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, but instead he sent the cash back to the embattled coin dealer.

Marty Wilson, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s spokesman, said yesterday the governor was not aware there were other options for disposing of the money contributed by Mr. Noe, who is facing accusations that he stole millions of dollars from a $50 million rare-coin fund he managed for the bureau. A long line of Republicans, including President Bush, has already sent the coin dealer’s contributions to charities or the bureau.

“Had we known about the other options, we may have made a different choice, but that’s hindsight,” said Mr. Wilson, adding the money was returned in early June. “The fact is the money has gone out."

“It’s money that clearly wasn’t his money to begin with and Governor Schwarzenegger knew it,” said state Sen. Marc Dann, a Democrat from suburban Youngstown. “I think he ought to give another $10,000 back to the bureau.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger. One stupid and smelly politican.

Remember Karen Kwiatkowski?

She was the Lieutenant Colonel who as 'volunteered' to work at the NESA during the run-up to the war. She published her frustrations with the politicization of the intelligence-gathering process first anonymously, then publicly on in March of 2004.

Here's two quotes from that article:

" I asked John [Trigilio, a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst] who was feeding the president all the bull about Saddam and the threat he posed us in terms of WMD delivery and his links to terrorists, as none of this was in secret intelligence I had seen in the past years. John insisted that it wasn't an exaggeration, but when pressed to say which actual intelligence reports made these claims, he would only say, "Karen, we have sources that you don't have access to." It was widely felt by those of us in the office not in the neoconservatives' inner circle that these "sources" related to the chummy relationship that Ahmad Chalabi had with both the Office of Special Plans and the office of the vice president."

"I witnessed neoconservative agenda bearers within OSP usurp measured and carefully considered assessments, and through suppression and distortion of intelligence analysis promulgate what were in fact falsehoods to both Congress and the executive office of the president.

The Office of Special Plans is the unit created by Donald Rumsfeld and led by Douglas Feith, created to deal with intelligence on Iraq. OSP was described by Kwiatkowski as "a censorship and disinformation organism controlling the NESA," and by former CIA officer Larry Johnson as "dangerous for US national security and a threat to world peace. [The OSP] lied and manipulated intelligence to further its agenda of removing Saddam. It's a group of ideologues with pre-determined notions of truth and reality. They take bits of intelligence to support their agenda and ignore anything contrary."

In light of the current imbrolgio regarding Democratic legislators who now oppose the war, and are calling for a timetable, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the article.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Smoke & Mirrors & Web Sites

By now, you’ve probably heard the sobbing mea culpas of a former Viet Nam Hero turned
Shill as Randy “Duke” Cunningham admitted to taking 2.4 million in bribes from military contractors. You’ve probably heard about all the antiques, rugs, houses and boats given to him. You probably even heard about the massive amounts of cash he just deposited right into his bank accounts.

What you may not have heard about is all the phony companies set up by one guy, Brent Wilkes, to appear to be legit military contractors who all got government contracts thanks to “Duke”, who all shared the same address and who all donated money to various Republicans including Cunningham. And, they shared something else. They all had bogus websites.

The blog Cannonfire does a masterful job researching it:

The invisible empire. I still have yet to discover any evidence that the other "defense-related" enterprises operating under the Wilkes umbrella were genuine businesses.

"Group W Media," the advertising agency with no discernable clients, was a front for something -- I don't yet know what. "Group W Transportation" amounted to a time-share arrangement involving a Lear jet. "Al Dust Properties" and "Group W Holdings" supposedly owned properties -- but I can't trace any holdings beyond the impressive building which the Wilkes Corporation called home. (It's now up for auction, by the way.) MailSafe Inc. supposedly offers "mail decontamination, digital capture, and electronic distribution to government and commercial entities." But the web site has disappeared, and the company seems to have left zero imprint on corporate America. Where is the evidence that it actually provided any services to clients?

"PerfectWave Technologies" has (or had) what seems, at first, to be an impressive web page advertising speech recognition devices for the military. (That page is really little more than a ghost, since the official Wilkes Corp. site no longer points to it.) Look closer: The site does not specify any PerfectWave products. Neither do we encounter any named personnel or development teams. No order information. If this company makes battlefield-ready high-tech equipment, why doesn't the the web site mention any departments, managers or employees? All we get is a single phone number and a fax number. Now conduct a Google search: Aside from channeling funds to politicians, PerfectWave hasn't done anything to warrant a mention.

Just for contrast, I checked out Boeing’s website. When you do that, it’s easy to see who’s legit and who’s just a sham.
What's more, I build web sites for a living. When you just do a front page as in Group W Media and some of the other sites listed here, you realize "there is no there, there."

"Pure Aqua Technologies" another Wilkes operation, seems to be pure snake oil. No address, no telephone number, no nothing -- except this stupid web page, which is a joke. Nevertheless, "Aqua" managed to pass some green around Washington.

Ghost locations. Supposedly, Wilkes has an office building in Honolulu, which is the home of yet another subsidiary: AkamaiInfoTech. They once had a nifty web page, which has disappeared. But what actually goes on there?

If you read the document from that last link, you'll see is involved.
What's great is they didn't do such a great job hiding all the affiliations. This should be a relatively easy case to prosecute. If Cannonblog can turn up this stuff just by using Google, this should be a cakewalk for our Justice Department.

The following is a list of all the companies URLs. Check them out.

We should really be angry this happened. That phony companies bribed a congressman to get our tax payer dollars. Some of which was supposed to be used in Iraq. That they then turned around and used that money donate money to more Republicans.

So which candidates got chunks of that taxpayer money earmarked for "defense"?

Henry Bonilla, Roy Brown, Rick Clayburgh, Duke Cunningham (of course!), John T. Doolittle, Maria Guadalupe Garcia, George W. Gekas, Lindsay Graham, Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa, Samuel Johnson, Thaddeus G. McCotter, Constance Morella, Devin Nune, Steve Pearce, Bill Van de Weghe Jr., Jerry Weller.

All Republicans, of course. As the scandal unfolds, the pundits will try to convince us that "both sides do it." That simply is not true.

The donations amounted only to $5000 or so. But ADCS Pac was hardly the only mechanism by which Wilkes could distribute the Christmas candy. Remember, Perfect Wave Technologies, Pure Aqua Technologies, Group W. Advisors and other "subsidiaries" were also used as funding mechanisms.

By keeping the donations small, and by maintaining the illusion that the donors are numerous, the conspirators could line many a pocket with relative safety. Clever, eh?

Other recipients of Wilkes' largesse: President Bush, Katherine Harris, Tom Delay, Virgil Goode Jr. and Elizabeth Dole -- whose husband, as you may recall from yesterday's post, lent his name to Reverend Moon's "stamp out the cross" crusade. Talk about being on the Dole!

I thought DeLay was Bad. I thought Abramoff was shocking. But this, this is about as disgusting as it can get. Is this business as usual in our Republican

Monday, December 05, 2005

The White House. Home of the Whopper.

Another lie exposed.

Bush, in his last speech, claimed that training of Iraqi troops was moving right along, resulting in more professional troops. But that may not be the case. Is anyone surprised?

According to an AP article this morning, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer disputes that, saying:

“that most recently trained Iraqi forces focus on settling scores and other political goals rather than maintaining security. In particular, armed Shiite militias in the south might try to incite war if U.S.-led coalition forces leave…”

Recent allegations that Interior Ministry security forces — dominated by Shiites — have tortured Sunni detainees were evidence that many forces are increasingly politicized and sectarian, he said. According to him, the army which is dominated by Shiites — is conducting raids against villages and towns in Sunni and mixed areas of Iraq, rather than targeting specific insurgents — a tactic he said reminded many Sunnis of Saddam Hussein-era raids.

"Saddam used to raid villages," using security forces, he said. "This is not the way to do it."

According to the article:

Al-Yawer also expressed grave concern that Iraqi army units might use intimidation to try to keep Sunni voters from the polls during the country's crucial Dec. 15 general election.

American officials — and Sunni moderates like al-Yawer — are trying to persuade Sunnis to go to the polls, hoping that if they gain a sizable chunk of parliament, Sunnis will abandon support for the insurgency.

Al-Yawer said many Sunnis want to vote. But he noted that both intimidation and voter fraud occurred during the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum, and complaints to the Iraqi Electoral Commission and U.N. voting advisers went nowhere, he said.

His supporters have made a series of requests to ensure a fair vote this time, including changes to the electoral commission and adequate numbers of polling stations and ballots in Sunni areas, he said. Most importantly, they have asked that U.S.-led coalition forces, and not Iraqi army troops, guard polling stations, he said.

Many outside experts have expressed concern that Iraqi security forces will actually increase tensions if they guard Sunni areas, rather than keep order. Al-Yawer did not specifically say that Shiites make up too much of the army, but said he would like to see more political and sectarian balance — especially among the officer corps.

Again more PR from Bush and very little honesty.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

This year, let’s all take a holiday from Christmas.

Apparently, Christian conservatives have recruited a record 1,550 attorneys to pursue any attempts to substitute "Christmas" with "Holiday," or any other inclusive or nonsectarian terms. It’s just their way of "putting the Christ back in Christmas."

They’re boycotting Target, because the company used the term “Holiday” in their advertising. (Um…that is until the day before Christmas and the tree is looking a little…empty.)

They successfully forced Lowes to change their “Holiday Trees” back to Christmas trees. It is kind of silly to call a Christmas tree a holiday tree but honestly, aren’t their more important things in the world to worry about? Why don’t they boycott Walmart for paying their employees so little they can only afford to shop at Walmart!

Don’t they know that Christmas trees started out as pagan symbols? According to the History Channel:
Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

But sadly, not the extreme right conservative Christians…

So what’s next? Cops who bust you for tree flocking? Sanctions against Santa? Jail time for spelling it XMAS? Are they that insecure about their beliefs? Or are they truly sickened by the crass commercialism?

According to an ABC news report:
Christian conservatives say retailers should proudly play up Christmas even if some non-Christian customers are alienated.

Ok, then it’s not the crass commercialism…
Donald Wildmon, Chairman of the American Family Association put it this way:
‘Tough Luck. This is an overwhelmingly Christian country."

How incredibly Christian of him to say it just that way. In other words, “My religion, like it or lump it.” I just question how you can view yourself as a majority religion and still feel so victimized?

Why didn’t they recruit a record 1550 attorneys to find homes for the people displaced by Katrina? Why aren’t they more concerned about feeding the poor over the holidays? Why aren’t they actively doing something about the travesty in the Sudan?

So what do you think Jesus would do? Do you think he’d be spamming Target and picketing Lowes? Or do you think he’d do something totally selfless, generous, and loving in such a way as to not draw attention to himself…just wondering.