Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blaming the messenger

Glenn Greewald continues his excellent series on the death of true conservatism with a look at the inability of those who preach personal responsibility to take any for themselves. It's wordy as always but also as usual, he nails the coming theme to expect from the Bush bloggers. Unable to hide behind the "the war is going just fine and anyone who says different is an America-hating leftist liar" ruse to justify their support for a military action we all predicted would fail; they're lining up their scapegoats. Glen notes:
Those who insisted on this war, who started it, who prosecuted it, who controlled every single facet of its operation – they have no blame at all for the failure of this war. Nope. They were right all along about everything. It all would have worked had war critics just kept their mouths shut. The ones who are to blame are the ones who never believed in this war, who control no aspect of the government, who were unable to influence even a single aspect of the war, who were shunned, mocked and ridiculed, and who have been out of power since the war began. They are the ones to blame. They caused this war to fail.
Yeah, everything would have been just ducky if we all hadn't insisted on pointing out the weaknesses in their poorly planned war strategy. If we had all been standing on the sidewalk waving flags and carrying signs saying "We heart Bush" instead, those darned Islamoextremists, and insurgents and other pissed off Iraqis would have been scared right back into their caves and would never have come out again. How much simpler could it be?

I think I'm finally understanding what makes an otherwise perfectly intelligent and probably even decent person, an incomprehensibly blind and loyal Bush supporter. It's a simple psychological or perhaps genetic inability to admit they are wrong -- about anything.
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Sludge from Drudge

Don't read this immediately after eating. Citing the pajamadeen's only real triumph, Rathergate, as an example, Bush cited the value of the "alternative media" that saved his sorry butt from having to explain his imaginary Guard record. Bush seems to think they can fulfil that long held wet dream of repeating such a coup to prop up his failed presidency and pull the GOP's bacon out of the oncoming electoral fire.
“I think what’s healthy is that there’s no monopoly on the news,” Bush said. “There’s competition. There’s competition for the attention of, you know, 290 million people, or whatever it is.
Yeah, and whoever they are, as if our fully insulated president would know. And spare me the disingenous surprise that the trained lap dogs in the media turned it into an indictment of CBS instead of focusing on the real story, which was the White House couldn't and still cannot to this day produce records or even one solitary witness who actually can attest to Bush's "service" to our country.

The "brains" of the Greedy Old Party have a more pragmatic take. You gotta love this line.
“It also, frankly, gave us an opportunity, frequently, when things came out in the media that we didn’t believe or didn’t like, to say, ‘It’s another CBS story,’” said Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who was the president’s campaign manager. “I mean, it gave us a serious response to bad news.”[emphasis added]
Well, serious is debatable but at least it's an all purpose soundbite that plays well with the ill-informed Greek chorus. Rove joins the cheering section for his bloggy excusers but sees the rise of the left's blog power as a threat.
“There is so much ugliness and viciousness and fundamental untruths that the blogosphere transmits,” he lamented. “It also is a vehicle for ugly rumors, for scurrilous personal attacks, an avenue for the creation of urban legends which are deeply corrosive of the political system and of people’s faith in it.”
Right Karl. When they serve your purpose they're an army of self-appointed experts looking over the shoulder of the mainstream media and bringing to bear enormously sophisticated skills to the table. Those that challenge you are riff raff pushing "another CBS story." Anyone who thinks the sudden reaching out by the White House to the pajamadeen is not an attempt to take over the blogland, think again.

Mark my words lefty bloggers and watch your backs. Uncle Karl has us in his sights.
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Make secret deals in haste - repent at leisure

Add the Coast Guard, those would be the guys in charge of port security, to the list of agencies that expressed strong reservations about the Dubai port deal.
[I]n a Dec. 13 intelligence assessment of the company and its owners in the United Arab Emirates, the Coast Guard warned: "There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that preclude" the completion of a thorough threat assessment of the merger.

"The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities," says the document, released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
They have since issued a statement saying the concerns they raised in this preliminary report were sufficiently addressed and they signed off on the deal, but one wonders how such broad questions could have answered satisfactorally in the short time it took the oh so secretive Committee on Foreign Investments to approve it.
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From dictator to disaster - death toll rises in Iraq

This is almost too stunning to comprehend. WaPo reports that 1,300 Iraqi citizens have died in the last week and that's not counting the toll from the bombing of the shrine that started this latest wave of violence.
Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Sadr denies it's his men, calling it a smear campaign but whoever is behind it, how can anyone reasonably deny that this country is in a civil war and it started because we deposed a dictator -- who was no direct threat to us -- that was keeping order there? Saddam was a cruel man but can we honestly say the Iraqis are better off for our having deposed him?

Remarkably, the war hawks (chicken and otherwise) still shill for staying the course, arguing we can't draw down the troops in the face of this chaos. But what good are we doing? It would be political suicide to intervene directly in this intercine warfare, even if we were able to discern who the good guys actually are, which we can't. By all indications, our support is merely facilitating the rampaging militias who exact their retribution under the guise of the "legitimate" government that we're propping up and our mere presence as foreign occupiers provides the only common enemy the Iraqis can agree on.
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Looking forward - Will Cheney go?

All the big kids are linking to this Insight piece that suggests Cheney's departure is a done deal. I tend to believe it myself, and in fact I entered a pool a couple of weeks ago somewhere, predicting he'll step down on April 1, 2007 for "health reasons".

New York magazine however takes a more nuanced view and says it's not necessarily a done deal. They come up with some compelling reasons he might tough it out, his pending indictment in the Plame leak nothwithstanding, the primary one being pure stubborness. The louder the hoi polloi call for his resignation, the more likely he'll dig in his heels out of spite. Perhaps then we should keep beating that drum because I'm not so sure we want to give Bush a chance to pick his own successor.

More interesting though is the notion floated here that Jeb Bush could conceivably run in 08. The article quotes Grover Norquist on the subject.
“If Jeb Bush stepped into the race, I believe it would clear the field; it would be all over,” he says. “He’s the best governor in the country. And the argument against him running is that you can’t have a dynasty. But the one year when Jeb Bush can run and no one can seriously raise that argument is the year we’re running against Hillary Clinton.”
I've been on record for a long time against a Clinton candidacy myself but anybody who still needs a reason to be against an 08 ticket headed by Hillary, might want to hold on to that thought. It's the most compelling argument yet. A Clinton vs. Bush race will do nothing to ease the polarity that divides us now. In fact, it could only exacerbate it and distract us with yet another four years of culture wars at a time when our survival as a species depends on our finding comity as a nation.
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The empire crumbles

Dark days for the GOP. This will be the buzz of the day. "The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high. Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports." The propaganda wears thin when reality sets in. It appears there's no longer enough smoke and mirrors in the world to obscure the imperial arrogance and gross ineptitude of this administration.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

This is not a satire...

...but it should be. Mikevotes makes the catch of the week with this photo of Bush posing with a bronze bust of himself during a ceremony in Washington commemorating his [imaginary] service in the Texas Air National Guard.

As I said at Mike's, too bad we couldn't trade off and get the idiot to sit on the pedestal and let the bronze guy be president.
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Softcore porn for peace in the MiddleEast?

Not safe for work. An idea whose time has -- ahem -- come?
It strikes us at MET that perhaps if there was more of what you see in this movie and less of what you see in the news, the Holy Land would be a far more peaceful place.
Beats the hell out of bombs.

[hat tip Jules Siegel]
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Asking the right questions about 9/11

I got this link via Lil Toni who could hardly be described as either a liberal or a conspiracy theorist. It's long at an hour and 20 minutes and I didn't expect to watch it in one sitting but I couldn't turn it off.

I've seen a lot of these "what really happened" pieces, but this video is probably the best I've seen. It raises all the right questions and they clearly spent a lot of time developing their answers. Really strong narrative and a terrific job of connecting the dots.

Makes more sense than the official story to me, but I've been following the careers of the PNAC crowd since the Reagan administration. I've always thought they would stop at nothing to get what they want. I think it says something that it's making the rounds of right leaning blogs and they aren't discounting it out of hand.

Check it out and pass it on.
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Road trips

Why is the State Dept and DoD inviting governors to take tours of Iraq and how much you suppose that costs in tax dollars?

Oh wait, this might explain it.
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bill Moyers on the big picture

This is the must read of the day. It's so rich I'm not even going to excerpt it. It's long, but it's Sunday so just read it. It's one of the most eloquent summations of the disaster we know as the Bush administration that I've ever seen.
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Come fly away with the USA

Oh the things you can learn from flight manifests.
The American military have been operating flights across Europe using a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use.

Not only is the call sign bogus — according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) — so, it appears, are some of the aircraft details the Americans have filed with the air traffic control authorities.
All signs lead to extraordinary rendition and illegal arms transports to Rwanda. This is why the world hates America. This administration holds itself above every law, national or international.
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You are what you read?

Here's one I missed on the latest terrorist threat, readers of non-fiction.
The latest example of airline security gone insane is provided by rock star and stand-up comedian Henry Rollins, who was recently reported to the Australian government for reading a book on an aeroplane. [...]

"US rocker and writer Henry Rollins was reported to the National Security hotline during his recent Australian tour because of a book he was reading on flight to Brisbane. A furious Rollins was informed he was "nominated as a possible threat" for reading Jihad: The Rise Of Militant Islam In Central Asia."

Rollins then received a letter from the Australian government warning him not to read such books in future.
Rollin's response? That seems to about cover it.
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Little boy red - fascist in training

I would have fisked Ben Shapiro's lame piece but Sadly, No already did such a good job it seems unneccessary. I might add that little Ben looks like a fine strapping young lad who should take his tough talk straight to Baghdad and help out the cause he so fiercely supports. Let him work off that bile by going up against those terrorists up close and personal, instead of trying to create enemies he can fight from the safety of his keyboard out of his fellow Americans at home who hold constitutionally protected dissenting views.
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Saturday, February 25, 2006

A little help for a friend

One of the best news aggregators in the blogdom, Buzz Flash needs cash and needs it fast. These guys put together an incredible product every single day for free. They depend solely on private donations and premium sales to keep afloat. They have a wide assortment of must read books and for sixteen bucks you could get this really cool tote bag.

I couldn't live without their free daily alerts that cull the important and overlooked stories from a multitude of sources all day long. Buzz Flash is an essential resource for every progressive leftie and a treasure trove of content for any blogger. Please help keep it going.
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Level one, two, three -- what are we fighting for...

Today's "good news" from Iraq, the one battalion (700-800 soldiers) of Iraqi forces that has been touted by Bush for weeks as a sign of progress has been downgraded to a level two force, meaning they are incapable of fighting for themselves without US troop support. The rage-based rightwingers are busy spinning this as a boondoggle of the "liberal press" since the article mentions the level two forces have increased to 53 battalions.

What part of "needing US support with logistics, airstrikes, backup fire and medical evac don't they understand? How great, now we have thousands of Iraqi soldiers who can't function unless the US is there holding their hands and doing all the hard work for them. The cheerleaders don't mention how this is going to help us cut our own troop levels. It's like opening a day care center that becomes so successful it has hundreds of kids in it and saying we don't need the teachers anymore because what, the kids can look after each other?

Reality based-blogger, Taylor Marsh, reminds us that the ultimate responsiblilty for what happens next rests with us, the American public. If you're not contacting your Congresscritters to let them know it's time to get out, then you're part of the problem. The Dems in particular are in a need a big shove to get them to stand up for their own more sensible plan for Iraq.

Meanwhile, the ragin' rightwingers are busy hurling their childish epithets against anyone who dares to mention The Imperial President has no clothes, but somehow in this barrage, they fail to notice those of their own kind who have jumped ship. The latest being William Buckley who opens his latest essay saying, "One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed."
Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. [...]

It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats.
Buckley further notes that after years of chaos since the liberation, the one common theme is everyone in Iraq now blames the Americans. While here in the US, in the safety of their homes, the remaining supporters of this occupation "courageously" cheer from the sidelines to continue sending our troops into this tinderbox of discontent, lest it be revealed to their readers that they were wrong all along.
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Cheney holds the key to Plamegate

I love Jason Leopold. The man has been tireless in exposing the malfeasance of the White House and this piece is no exception. It appears "250 pages of lost emails" of Cheney's, related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, that were somehow "improperly archived," (read that as hastily deleted), were "discovered" and are now in the possession of the quiet but deadly Patrick Fitzgerald.
The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.
As is customary in the interviews of the corrupt crony crowd, Cheney was not under oath when he lied to FBI investigators, but the emails "will show that the vice president spearheaded an effort in March 2003 to attack Wilson’s credibility and used the CIA to dig up information on the former ambassador that could be used against him, sources said." This shores up Jeralyn's long held contention.

And this is interesting. Anyone who thought Plamegate was over with the indictment of Scooter Libby can think again.
In another development in the leak case Friday, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said another administration official, who does not work at the White House, also spoke to reporters about Plame Wilson. This individual, according to sources close to the case, works at the National Security Council.

Walton said that Libby’s defense team was not entitled to be told of the individual’s identity because the person is not charged with a crime in the leak. However, the person is said to be one of several people in the administration who is cooperating with the probe.
Who knows if they can convict Cheney for this obvious misuse of his office within the judicial system but one expects he will be found guilty in the court of public opinion. Of course you can also expect the miscreants to continue to dodge and obfuscate in an attempt to prevent the investigation from reaching its conclusion for as long as possible.

The real lesson in this story however, is, nothing is ever really deleted from a computer.
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Friday, February 24, 2006

Who's in charge, What's off base, I Don't Know has the notes

It just reminds me of the classic Abbott and Costello skit. If it was a satire, it would be funny.

In other news of the tragicomedically real, Flordia voting officials and Sequoia have some 'splaining to do. Not that they plan to do anything but deny it.
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Open secrets

For anyone who might have lingering doubts about whether John McCain is just another greasy opportunist who is willing to sell his soul to the highest bidder, this should convince you it's true.

This is good news for the almost 500 prisoners at Gitmo, some of whom have been held for almost four years without being charged. "A federal judge ordered the Pentagon on Thursday to release the identities of hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to The Associated Press, a move which would force the government to break its secrecy and reveal the most comprehensive list yet of those who have been imprisoned there." It's about time. I'll bet some of their families have been wondering all this time whether they're dead.

This seems to me to be a far better answer to the industry's concerns about technology that allows ad skipping. Instead of trying to make the technology illegal and pissing off consumers, KFC is exploiting it by planting a clue that is only visibile when the ad is run in slowmo. The prize is a coupon for a free sandwich, not enough to get me to watch the commericial but then I don't have a TIVO anyway. Nonetheless, one would bet it will be a winning strategy. People love free stuff.

And remember Total Information Awareness? Anyone who says that program was disbanded a couple of years ago is a liar.
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It's for the children

Under the heading turnabout is fair play, this amused me.

Earlier this month, a far-right Republican state lawmaker in Ohio introduced a measure that would prohibit gay adoption. This week, a Dem state senator decided to make a point — but unveiling a proposal barring Republicans from being adoptive parents. [...]

Hagan wrote in his mock proposal that "credible research" shows that adopted children raised in Republican households are more at risk for developing "emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities."

Of course Hagan is joking. Unfortunately, the neanderthal who proposed the anti-gay adoption bill isn't.
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Fire away

Get your six word novels ready. Heretik is publishing the "feel the burn" collection today.
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sea of madness

One more early call so I'm off to bed. I'll try to get here first thing tomorrow but here's my latest thoughts on the UAE port agreement.

My last thought on the subject for the day is there's a certain satisfaction to seeing the "turrist threat" come back and bite the White House in the ass. They got their base all worked up to a post 9/11 frenzy of fear. The people who still believe the found WMDs and that Saddam was involved in 9/11 aren't going to get the finer points of how this deal works. With any luck it'll blow back into a wholesale mutiny.
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Free speech is not mandatory or selective

Another good post by Glen Greenwald on the rightwingers hypocrisy when it comes to the free press. I've been saying the same thing at the DetNews in several posts since the cartoon controversy began. They can't have it both ways. You defend all speech or none is protected and these idiots champions of the First Amendment want to force free speech when they like the content (as in the Muslim cartoons) but prosecute it when they don't (as in the leak that revealed Bush's illegal domestic surveillance).

Postscript: And I can't wait to see these new defenders of free expression fully support the right to dissent at the next anti-war rally.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Choose the news

I've got to get to bed so it's read for yourself night. This is what I would have blogged about if I had more time today.

Nat Parry gives an excellent overview of the state of the nation under Bush.

Molly Ivins makes a good case for public campaign funding.

A good analysis on privatization of port authorities and why they shouldn't left under the control of private corporations at all.

And if none of that inspired you, try the lowdown on the hidden budget in Bush's numbers.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush high on ethanol

This would be funny if it was a parody instead of really describing our president and his empty sloganeering for renewal energy. Two weeks ago, lab workers, including eight researchers, were laid off because of a $28 million budget shortfall. A small problem since Bush was due to speak there.
President Bush, on a three-state trip to promote his energy policy, said Tuesday that a budgeting mix-up was the reason 32 workers at one of the nation's premier renewable energy labs were laid off and then reinstated just before his visit.
And here's another entry for the journal of classic Bushisms.
"Sometimes, decisions made as the result of the appropriations process, the money may not end up where it was supposed to have gone," Bush said.

"My message to those who work here is we want you to know how important your work is. We appreciate what you're doing and we expect you to keep doing it, and we want to help you keep doing it."
Yeah, at least until nobody is looking anymore. Just ask the people who used to live in New Orleans. And one wonders what these researchers will be doing since funding for their projects have been cut. If I were these guys, I would keep my CV current.
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The Corporatocracy

John Perkins, a self described economic hit man, wrote the book on how the US quietly created a global empire using the World Bank and its related agencies, while working under the cover of multinational megacorporations. I recall posting on an earlier interview he did shortly after writing the book, but I can't dig up the link. Nonetheless, Perkins has a lot of new information to share, including some eyeopening background on Saddam and Iraq and an interesting analysis on the current anti-US mood in the Americas.

Well worth reading in full
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Moving up in the charts

So new feature at HuffPo is called the Contagious Festival and apparently, I must have discovered FOLK SONGS OF THE FAR RIGHT WING immediately after it was posted because it's moved up to the number eleven slot on the listings since I posted this.

I guess that's why they call it contagious.
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Fifteen minutes of fame

I don't know how it happened, but for a brief shining moment at midnight last night, The Impolitic was listed on Memeorandum, right up there with all the big guys.
Glenn Greenwald / Unclaimed Territory:
The dying scandal that keeps growing:

Link Search: Google, Bloglines, Technorati, and IceRocket

+Discussion: JustOneMinute, Hullabaloo, The Strata-Sphere, protein wisdom, firedoglake, Booman Tribune, Amygdala, The Heretik, Democrat Taylor Marsh …, Decision '08, PSoTD, The Next Hurrah, Don Surber, The Impolitic, Daily Kos, Obsidian Wings, Middle Earth Journal, New York Times, State of the Day, Bark Bark Woof Woof and The Left Coaster.
I'm so easily thrilled. It must have been a fluke of some kind, but how cool is that?
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Spell check

The inscrutable Mr. Vleep currently posting under News, Weather, Mozart, Sports, Restaurant Guide & Perverted Videogames from Vleeptron, has been determined to get me to take The World's Most Difficult Spelling Test.

I got nine wrong. How embarrassing. I used to be a spelling bee champ in my youth. Cursed spell check has ruined me.
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Monday, February 20, 2006

Picture this...

Sorry folks, I never got back to blogging today because I spent the last six hours taking picture of myself. I don't have the energy to crosspost it, so if you want to know why I've engaged in this orgy of reluctant narcissim, the details are here.
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Blog hopping

Catching up on some reading today, so here's a few links to keep you going until I have some pithy observations to share on the day's news.

Jesus General has the ultimate post on the selling of our public lands and points us to this new suppression of dissent in the next item that I missed earlier in the week.

Bumper stickers are now illegal? A citizen is no longer allowed to park in a lot at a federal building if they have an anti-Bush sticker on their car? Tell me again how troops are dying in the Middle East to keep our country free. Hell, we need to bring them home to fight for us against these overwrought Homeland Security dicks.

Thehim has all the fun. I've been called a lot of names by my critics, but no one has ever called me puppy slop. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough.

Head on over and wish Left of Center a happy 40th birthday. The bathtub story alone is worth the trip.

And it's been way too long since I linked to Freedom Sight. Jed uncovers an interesting bill in Arizona that would direct the state taxpayers to commit federal tax fraud with the state's blessing. Jed also floats an interesting idea on how to tame the beast inside the Beltway.

What if the feds had to depend on their funding, solely from levies from the states? It's a little complicated but it strikes me as a pretty good idea to cut down on the blackmail the feds use to force states to comply with ridiculous legislation they don't support in priniciple.
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White House working hard to derail NSA investigation

The WaPo reports on the latest White House arm twisting to prevent a meaningful investigation into the NSA scandal. I don't know how our system of government is going to survive the next three years when our Congresscreatures use procedural ploys to ensure they get the votes they want, rather than allowing the process to check an administration that's drunk with power and careening off a cliff.

Case in point, the waffling of Pat Roberts. First he calls for an investigation, then after being paid a visit by the White House goons, says we don't need one. Then he says we need to take a vote (because he thinks he has it locked up.) Then he finds out he doesn't have the votes, so he pulls a procedural coup and cancels the vote in order to gain more time for the goons to strongarm their straying party members. Hell of a bad way to run a government if you ask me.

One thing seems clear. If the White House was so bloody certain they were acting within the law and that this investigation would backfire against the Democratic party, it seems rather unlikely they would be working so hard to derail it.
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Sunday, February 19, 2006

What do you think?

I was fooling around at HuffPo and found this new viral meme thing, whatever they call it, contagious media maybe. It's a new button at the top. Like everything there, there's too much to look at it all, but I did check the lowest ranked entry. I don't know why this one only had 37 votes.

The beginning was weak but if you stuck through it, it made me laugh a couple of times. I thought it was well produced and liked it enough to pass on the link. It reminded me of that schtick they do regularly on that Drew Carey improv show, where they make up albums for improbable topics.
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Can't believe those lying eyes

For the first time in living memory, the Great Lakes have not frozen this year. The impact is wide but the conventional thinking is just as mixed. Even where the evidence is more apparent, skeptics will scoff at "global warming."

To quote the legendary Cool Hand Luke, "I think what we have here is a failure to communicate." Maybe it's time to reframe the concept. Every time the temperature drops below 40 dgrees in the south, everyone says, yeah -- tell me about global warming. What they're not getting is when the Great Lakes don't freeze and Florida does, something is out of whack.

It's hard for anyone to get their mind around the urgency of something that will take a century to manifest but perhaps if we begin speaking of it as climate disruption -- and that's really what it is -- it will become more tangible to those unwilling to admit its existence.

[via HuffPo]
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Another brace of quail

The Cheney shooting story just won't go away and although I've formed my theory days ago, I keep reading finding new posts worth a view. Redd has the graphic and her usual impeccable roundup and analysis. I hadn't seen a good shot of poor Harry Whittington until that post. Meanwhile, via The Heretik's own original revue, there's the latest in parodies here and here. They're both good but personally, I liked the Elvis rendition better.
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Daou's challenge goes unanswered

Peter Daou does a follow-up post on his challenge to the right. Apparently he set the bar too high. The normally bellicose defenders of the White House are as silent as the tombs of our war dead. Forced to prove their myth of the liberal media using facts and examples, rather than simply using Bush's time honored approach of repeating the propaganda, apparently leaves them at a complete loss for words.

They've got nothing, and as expected, the very few who attempted to rise to the challenge weren't entirely polite either. Hard to believe their side claims the moral ground when they spend all their time obfuscating, equivocating and advocating for rage and revenge, instead of empathy and reason.
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Send in the drones

The future belongs to robots.
Not satisfied with the abilities of its current crop of robots, the Pentagon wants unmanned machines that can operate completely without human controllers. At present, most of these systems are controlled by radio signals or through long wires, known as a "robot-on-a-rope."

"The goal is a fully autonomous system by 2020," said Jeffrey Kotora, the manager of the Joint Robotics Program in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office. Killion called it "a system that has the smarts to operate like a manned system."
I'm not so sure a completely robotic force of military robots that requires no human intervention is such a good idea. Don't these people ever watch sci-fi movies? You make a machine too smart and one day you wake up and no only does it stop listening to you, it turns against you and takes over.
[via The Flight Times]
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Air surveillance

I don't know quite what to make of this.
Police in Russia are taking to the air in zeppelins to track criminals and deal with traffic congestion. Moscow mayor Yuri Lushkov presented five zeppelin airships to local police. He said they would help monitor the city's traffic flow and catch fugitive criminals as well as help control terrorist threats.

If the zeppelins live up to the authorities' expectations, the fleet will be expanded and smaller, two-seated airships will be added to float above the busiest roads and key-points of the Russian capital.
Well they're not as noisy as helicopters anyway, although there's something disturbing to me about airships floating over cities to control civilian populations. It's so WWII-like.

Nonetheless, I can't deny that I always enjoy seeing them fly. For the aeronautically minded who want to learn more about the aircraft, this site as looks pretty comprehensive.
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Careening towards WWIII

Heather Wokusch posts an excellent analysis on the insanity of nuking Iran in the absence of a direct threat. I posted my thoughts on this at DetNews this morning but here's one of the better excerpts.
Consider that many in the US and Iran seek religious salvation through a Middle Eastern blowout. "End times" Christian fundamentalists believe a cataclysmic Armageddon will enable the Messiah to reappear and transport them to heaven, leaving behind Muslims and other non-believers to face plagues and violent death. Iran's new Shia Islam president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, subscribes to a competing version of the messianic comeback, whereby the skies turn to flames and blood flows in a final showdown of good and evil. The Hidden Imam returns, bringing world peace by establishing Islam as the global religion.

Both the US and Iran have presidents who arguably see themselves as divinely chosen and who covet their own country's apocalypse-seeking fundamentalist voters. And into this tinderbox Bush proposes bringing nuclear weapons.
The rage based reverent among us clamor to kill a spider by bombing the entire planet. If we allow this to occur, we'll all be left with no where to live.
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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Life is funny, don't forget to laugh

I don't laugh like I used to because I don't see people much. In my old job I dealt with hundreds of people a week and walked around town a lot so I had lots of conversations. I laugh when I converse. Not so much when I'm alone, especially since I spend all my free time reading the news. But there is a funny side to current events, so here's some items that amused me.

Via Agitprop, the Borowitz Report with Halliburton Wins Contract to Reconstruct Cheney's Reputation.

Mad Kane has delightful Cheney parody songs done to the tune of Waltzing Matilda. Keep scrolling for Don't Hunt with Dick, done to the melody of On Top of Ole Smoky. Two of my favorite childhood songs. Be sure to sing along. I did. It was fun.

Bill Shein shines some light on Cheney's apology.

Tom Toles made me laugh.

And why you might want to buy Vanity Fair this month. That wasn't so funny in the ha ha sense, but the quote from the artist behind the Chilean version made me laugh out loud.
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New proofs on the lies that took us to war

This is hot. Saying it's the first corroboration of an earlier CBS report, Outraged Moderates posts the results of a FOIA request for notes between Rumsfeld and a staffer from the day of 9/11. The notes rather unequivocally prove the Bush administration was intent on going after Iraq long before then and viewed the bombing as a convenient excuse to do it.
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War president needs a war

Blogger has been having issues today so I'm just getting here and I'm already a little burned out. I just posted the latest on the UAE port deal at DetNews with links to some good posts including of all people Malkin, and the generally irritating Anti-idotarian.

I also have one up on Rummy's latest PR games over his Lincoln Group propaganda project. You gotta love this guy. On the same day, he says he didn't know about the project, that he shut it down when he found out about it, (easily refuted by the record), and then at a different event chides the press for negative coverage that undermines the program - the same one he already allegedly disbanded.

I just don't get how the White House supporters can keep reconciling the inconsistencies in their own heads. The administration is obviously at lie saturation point. They've told so many they can't keep them straight, but they've realized that they have that solid 40% that won't hold them accountable, no matter what they say -- so they say anything.

Meanwhile, our soldiers died so Shiite death squads could kill Sunnis in revenge for Hussien's death squads killing them. My thoughts on that at the link.

Mikevotes pointed us to an excellent story about soldiers in Samarra that struck me as sounding more realistic than most of the pap that passes for news.

And I turned up this piece on a couple of studies done at West Point on the structure of al-Qaeda and the best way to fight it. I thought they had some good insights. Now if only if the administration would listen to them, but of course they would only do that if they actually wanted to win the war on terror. It's certainly more useful to Bush to keep it going so he can be the Imperial President forever.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

The Sideshow

If you only read one blog a day, Avedon would be the one you should choose. Nothing gets by her. A small sampling of her current posts.

Robert Scheer has a bone to pick with Condi Rice and her rose-colored predictions on stability in Iraq. Read it all, it's short but the best point.
There is no way to soft-pedal it: The astounding rise of an anti-American firebrand like al-Sadr is an indicator of how wide and complete a political defeat pro-Western forces have suffered in Iraq. Written off by most Western observers as nothing more than a rabble-rousing irritant in the first months of the U.S. occupation, al-Sadr has more than survived his confrontation with the world's only superpower: His faction was the big winner in the recent elections, now entrenched as the largest single force in the dominant Shiite coalition. So it is that the political support of a young radical, who not so long ago was considered a wanted outlaw by the occupiers, has now determined the selection of Iraq's new leader.
I guess Rove's threats against his party members were effective. The Senate Intelligence Committee decided today not to investigate President Bush's domestic surveillance program, at least for the time being. Perhaps they'll get to it when hell freezes over. In the interim they have an "agreement in principle" with the White House. Bah. These people wouldn't know principles if they leapt up and bit them in the ass.

For a little comic relief, The Keyboard Commandos save the day. This is probably funnier if you recognize the commandos but it's still worth a chuckle. And this is why I still love snow even though I don't see it anymore.
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Britain won't give up hacker without assurance of a fair trial

This is interesting. A judge in Britain is refusing to extradite a UK citizen on charges of hacking into the Pentagon's computers unless the US can guarantee he won't be tried as a terrorist. Guess that says it all about what the Brits think of our military tribunal "justice" system.
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Homeland security agents moonlight as porn police

I've always said give a little man a little power and he becomes a big jerk. Exhibit One.
Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers. Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden. [...]

After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user's choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened, and the two men went into the library's work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

They were officers of the security division of Montgomery County's Homeland Security Department, an unarmed force that patrols about 300 county buildings -- but is not responsible for enforcing obscenity laws.
Judging by the past incompetency of Homeland Security, I would bet these guys couldn't get a night watchman's job at a worm farm, but they get a uniform so they want lord it over the "little people." Good for the librarians for sticking up for the patron's rights. Meanwhile, calling the incident regrettable,
Montgomery plans to train its homeland security officers "so they fully understand library policy and its consistency with residents' First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution," Romer said in his statement.
And the taxpayer is paying 3.6 million in salaries for this? The real tragedy is, if these two were confronted with a terrorist, they would probably shit their britches and run.
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MD Gov calls for verified voting

I'm not a huge fan of Maryland's Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich but he's scored a hearty round of applause from me with his call for a verifiable paper trail for touch screen voting machines.
Ehrlich submitted a long list of questions to Board of Elections Chairman Gilles Burger yesterday about the cost of early voting and any contingency plan if elections officials do not certify the Diebold machines for use in the election.

"I believe that it is time for the board to get aggressive in responding to citizens' concerns over public confidence in the elections system," Ehrlich wrote.
Hear hear.
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Check please...

I've been a fan of George Will for 35 years even though most of the time I want to strangle him with his silly bowtie. Maybe it's because I'm attracted to geeks. I can't explain it, it dates back to my Agronsky and Company days. But this column might shed a little light on why I still hold him dear in spite of my long time liberal progressive creds. A few choice quotes:
...Why would future presidents ask, if the present administration successfully asserts its current doctrine? It is that whenever the nation is at war, the other two branches of government have a radically diminished pertinence to governance, and the president determines what that pertinence shall be. This monarchical doctrine emerges from the administration's stance that warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency targeting American citizens on American soil is a legal exercise of the president's inherent powers as commander in chief, even though it violates the clear language of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was written to regulate wartime surveillance.
Anyway, the argument that the AUMF contained a completely unexpressed congressional intent to empower the president to disregard the FISA regime is risible coming from this administration. It famously opposes those who discover unstated meanings in the Constitution's text and do not strictly construe the language of statutes.
The administration's argument about the legality of the NSA program also has been discordant with its argument about the urgency of extending the USA Patriot Act. Many provisions of that act are superfluous if a president's wartime powers are as far-reaching as today's president says they are.
Besides, terrorism is not the only new danger of this era. Another is the administration's argument that because the president is commander in chief, he is the "sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs." That non sequitur is refuted by the Constitution's plain language, which empowers Congress to ratify treaties, declare war, fund and regulate military forces, and make laws "necessary and proper" for the execution of all presidential powers . Those powers do not include deciding that a law -- FISA, for example -- is somehow exempted from the presidential duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
But 53 months later, Congress should make all necessary actions lawful by authorizing the president to take those actions, with suitable supervision. It should do so with language that does not stigmatize what he has been doing, but that implicitly refutes the doctrine that the authorization is superfluous.
The key phrases being necessary lawful actions and suitable supervision. Mr. Will of course loses me with the do not stigmatize provisio. What Bush has been doing is unacceptable by any standard. Our government should not be datamining its citizens -- period.
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Sorry Virginia, there is no liberal media

I'm still mulling over the demise of common courtesy today and Peter Daou's post, throwing down the gauntlet resonates with me. He has this to say to the wingers who are the blaming the media for Cheney's mess, .
So here's my challenge to rightwing bloggers who assail the media for liberal bias (and to journalists who think it's all a he-said-she-said pissing match): Back up your claims. With concrete examples of bias. And without the tautological crutch that any story critical of the administration is proof of liberal bias.
Peter backs up his thesis that the media in reality is tilted to the right, in spades. Of course he has facts to work with, so he makes his points without taunting or gratuitous mockery. I'll be surprised if he receives the same courtesy in reply.
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Days of rage and raspberries

When Acoutic Dad started his roundtable asking if we could break through our partianship and find common ground with each other on issues that matter, I had just enjoyed a round of civilized discourse with some right wingers and I was feeling pretty positive. However, after having endured the childish taunting and school yard bully tactics that some right wingers try to pass off as reasoned debate, I'm feeling more in tune with Shamanic at the moment.
I used to think that was okay, we're all Americans and we're all neighbors, after all, but it isn't okay. People who support this administration are traitors to the United States. What they really want is a dictator to paint the world in tones of black and white and they want a lot of Americans wiped out with the same broad brush. No more.

If you want a strongman telling you what's good and punishing what's bad, I strongly encourage you to move to Iran. If you want a theocracy that limits the media and punishes the over-the-top and the obscene, move to Iran. If you don't believe in a multiparty state, or believe in it only in name, move to Iran.

And take your president with you.
Amen, and the bloggers who only want an echo chamber filled with the dulcet tones of eager sycophants who scramble to curry their favor, should just be honest and make their blogs membership only, so they can enjoy the Greek chorus without the trouble of having to beat back dissenting opinions.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney's Painful Apology

One of the silliest complaints I've been hearing from the right about the Cheney shooting story is that the press is making too big a deal over it; that it shouldn't have made national news. With due respect to the differences of opinion, are you shitting me? Get off it. One can't fail to wonder what these same complainers would be saying if Cindy Sheehan or John Kerry accidentally shot somebody. That they're still dragging out Chappaquidick and Kennedy, four decades after the fact, as some kind of defense of Cheney's current carelessness shows the paucity of that argument.

The number two man in our government shoots somebody, it's news. That's why they call them public figures. It would have been much smaller a story if he simply issued a statement immediately, didn't allow Matalin to blame the victim, and if Cheney had had the simple courtesy to get on the tube and apologize to the family for the tragic mistake. It wouldn't have made past two news cycles under those terms.

But Cheney had his own plan, going against the advice of his peers in the White House and delayed not only the statement, but waited four days to take responsibility and say he was sorry. No doubt he was waiting for the public opinion analysis before he decided whether he needed to account for his actions or if he could just slip away in the fog of scandals that's always wrapped around this White House.

And of course it was very useful in deflecting attention from his bigger troubles. Now the reporters are asking him about this tragic accident instead of his orders to Scooter Libby to breach national security by disclosing the contents of NIE briefing papers to the press.
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Operation Screw This

An especially good Onion "news" item on a new exit plan for Iraq. One of their better efforts.
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State Department silences speaking tour

This is so typical of this administration but infuriating anyway.
Two Iraqi women whose husbands and children were killed by US troops during the Iraq war have been refused entry into the United States for a speaking tour.
Here's the really galling part.
In a piece of painful irony, the reason given for the rejection was that the women don’t have enough family in Iraq to prove that they’ll return to the country. “It’s appalling that the US military killed these women’s families and then the US government rejects their visas on the grounds that they have no family to return to in Iraq. These women have no desire to stay in the United States. We had a very hard time convincing them to come, but we told them how important it would be for their stories to be heard by Americans,” said Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of both the groups that had invited the women to the US.
More likely, State was afraid Americans would hear what they had to say and turn even more against the occupation. Remember when we were a free
country? [ht Sabin]
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Bush outsources port security to UAE

I don't know how I missed this but Stone Soup has been all over this story, since yesterday. Political appointees of the Bush administration have agreed to outsource our already lame port security to an United Arab Emirates corporation. Yest, that would be the same UAE, as the FBI concluded, was "an important operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks against New York and Washington."

NY Sen. Schumer correctly calls for "a full and public review before this company is allowed to control security up and down the East Coast." Meanwhile, the ultraright Washington Times posts a scathing editorial, finding this decision is all about money, and nothing about national security, a point bolstered by the fine research work of The Cunning Realist, who follows the money straight to John Snow, chair of the from the rubberstamping Committee that approved this deal. Corrupt corporate cronyism at its finest hour, folks. The Times gets it right.
President Bush should overrule the committee to reject this deal. If that doesn't happen, Congress should take action. The country's ports should not be owned by foreign governments; much less governments whose territories are favored by al Qaeda.
Bush is unlikely to do that of course. I'm telling you, such breathtaking, underhanded arrogance is a sure sign he's either going to suspend elections and declare martial law or at the very least believes they have the electronic voting machines "fixed" to the point where the GOP doesn't have to worry about losing at the polls.

As for any right wingers that may happen to wander in here, how do you reconcile the administration's handholding with the Arabs here, with your hatred of all things Muslim on account of the cartoon jihad?
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Like pigs at the trough

Stone Soup catches a call from the GOP for Americans to sacrifice more as a justification for their inhumane budget cutting and the ultimate answer from Working Life. Kathy also finds the defining comment.
Rich Republicans don't believe in personal sacrifice. As one person commented, "Never ever forget that GOP stands for "Grease Our Palms, Grab Our Profits and Give Others Poverty."
I might add Greedy Old Pork-barrelers.
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Promote yourself

If you haven't been reading my Detroit News blog, you missed:

The latest government giveway to the oil industry, as if they didn't already have enough windfall profits.

What's funny and what's not a laughing matter about the Cheney hunting accident.

Why I blogrolled Dennis the Peasant.

Little heard news about just how "well" democracy is doing in Iraq.

What the Katrina report tells us about national security.

The almost ignored revelation that Cheney ordered leaks of national security documents.

Tom DeLay's new job, proving once again that no corrupt crony goes unrewarded for his crimes in this administration.

And why size doesn't matter when it comes to our legislators.
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Alert readers may have noticed I've added a few names to the right wing bloggers and Drunks & Poets on the sidebar. I don't feel like crossposting, so the intros are here. I might note in the interim, I've managed to get into an argument with Hog on Ice and a discussion with Dennis the Peasant. I never learn to keep my mouth shut, but then again if I did, what would be the point of blogging?
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Abramoff File - Jack who?

Poor Jack, his name is Black at the White House, where they just can't seem to recall this Abramoff person who personally raised $100,000 for Bush and had the highest profile lobbying firm on K Street? Please. It defies logic. And somebody send Karl a case of Ginkgo biloba. His memory seems to really be failing under the stress of impending indictment.
The White House said Monday night that Rove remembers meeting Abramoff at a 1990s political meeting and considered the lobbyist a "casual acquaintance" since President Bush took office in 2001.
Right, so that would explain how Rove hired Susan Ralston, (Abramoff's former chief assistant) in 2001, straight out of his office, without ever talking to Abramoff about her references? Surely that conversation would stand out.

Meanwhile, Jack is not going down quietly.
Jack Abramoff said in correspondence made public Thursday that President Bush met him “almost a dozen” times, disputing White House claims Bush did not know the former lobbyist at the center of a corruption scandal.

“The guy saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids. Perhaps he has forgotten everything, who knows,” Abramoff wrote in an e-mail to Kim Eisler, national editor for the Washingtonian magazine.

Abramoff added that Bush also once invited him to his Texas ranch.
It's absurd to think that Rove and Bush don't know who he is. His name is number one on the list of Pioneers and in 2004 there were only 327 of them. Not only that he was organizing other people to join the Pioneers and supporting all sorts of other GOP projects. Politicians don't "not notice" guys who pass out that kind of money.

Not to mention they had friends in common. Tom DeLay and Grover Norquist spring to mind immediately. Jack was an intergral part of the K Street Project. It's an insult to the intelligence of the American public to deny the connection.
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Party hackery axes Hackett campaign

Paul Hackett is out of the Senate race, having been betrayed by the gutless "leaders" of the Democratic party.
"This is an extremely disappointing decision that I feel has been forced on me," said Mr. Hackett, whose announcement comes two days before the state's filing deadline for candidates. He said he was outraged to learn that party leaders were calling his donors and asking them to stop giving and said he would not enter the Second District Congressional race.

"For me, this is a second betrayal," Mr. Hackett said. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me."
Excuse my profanity, but the Democratic Party has become overrun with a bunch of fucking idiots. Here we have a straight talking, adorable, Iraq veteran who could totally stage an upset win and these jerks are playing politics as usual with him? If they wanted him to run for Congress, they should have made it clear before he declared. Now they want him to go back on his word and join the Congressional race because everybody does it? That's the fucking problem. Both parties think they just break their word when it's convenient and the electorate won't remember or won't care.

When are these imbeciles going to get it? Politics as usual are not going to win it for them in 06. The people are sick of both parties. They should be supporting candidates like Hackett, they should be begging them to run and fighting tooth and nail for verifiable paper trail ballots so they stand a chance of winning against technological malfeasance.

I've been predicting for months that this will be a big year for third party candidates and I haven't seen much out of the Dems so far to convince me otherwise. The Dems already shaky base is going to fracture over these sort of obvious party machine machinations and it's going to hand the Congress right back to the GOP in November. What fools.
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Cheney jokes ring hollow when truth leaks out

Apparently the spin on this "incident of inaccurate marksmanship" isn't going to be as easy to control as the Veep thought. I was forced to post on this at the Detroit News blog in response to the other bloggers but I'm not going to cross post because I'm home for a week and there's a lot to catch up on. The links are over there, including some to the best jokes and a funny game that seemed more appropriate when we all thought this was the minor mishap Cheney said it was. Like every other disaster in this administration however, the veneer of plausible deniability chips off rather easily to reveal an ugly truth underneath.

Taylor Marsh has a really good post on the ballistics involved. According to her calculations, Cheny would have had to hit Whittington from a lot closer than 30 yards to have scored with so many pellets. Now, in the news analysis of the latest develpment, that being Whittington's "heart episode" this morning, it appears he has pellet lodged in or near his heart. You don't get that from 30 yards. This also explains why the guy ended up in intensive care for an alleged "peppering" that barely broke the skin. One can only imagine the frantic on the scene medical procedures, attempting to keep Whittington out of the hospital so they could they could just cover it up altogether.

What thugs these people are, that they would endanger their own friend's lives for the "good of the party." How it happened and why raises speculation on Cheney's mental faculties of course. Maybe he was drunk, but considering his health history, which is closely guarded state secret, it could be as simple as the drugs he takes for his various conditions, impair him and maybe he shouldn't be allowed to use a gun.

Joe Gandelman raises a more interesting question though. Is this a prelude to his resignation? With the sword of Fitzgerald's Plame investigation hanging over his head, "health reasons" could be a graceful way to exit and allow Bush to appoint his chosen successor for 08 right now?
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Monday, February 13, 2006

Classic Bushisms

You'll probably be getting these in your email, but they're worth archiving so I'm posting them here. This is your president, allegedly stone cold sober.

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."- George W. Bush

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."- George W. Bush

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."- George W. Bush

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."
- George W. Bush

"The future will be better tomorrow." George W. Bush

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."- George W. Bush

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."- George W. Bush

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe We are a part of Europe."- George W. Bush

"Public speaking is very easy."- George W. Bush

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls." - George W. Bush

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."- George W. Bush

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."- George W. Bush

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."- George W. Bush

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."- George W. Bush

"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."
- George W. Bush

The frightening thing is so many of his blindly loyal supporters, continue to support him because he says stuff like this, not in spite of it.

[ht JZ Souweine]
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All the President's Pundits

I've been trying to put my finger on what bothers me about the blindly loyal Bush supporters but haven't been able to articulate it. Now I guess I don't have to, since Glen Greenwald nails it. Read it all but here's a few choice quotes.
They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to strong authority through a single leader. [...]

And the core emotions driving the Bush extremists are not hard to see. It is a driving rage and hatred – for liberals, for Muslims, for anyone who opposes George Bush. The rage and desire to destroy is palpable. [...]

The rage-based reverence for The President as Commander-in-Chief -- and the creepy, blind faith vested in his goodness -- is not a movement I recognize as being political, conservative or even American.
"Rage based reverence" kind of says it all. These folks keep accusing the left of being hateful, but all the rage-based rhetoric seems to be coming from their side of the fence. When's the last time you saw a lefty express a desire to kill somebody or drop nukess on nations that just happen to have Muslim populations?
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Truth is stranger than fiction

Boston Globe has an unsettling review of Sinclair Lewis' eerily prescient 1945 novel, It Can't Happen Here.

There's something creepy about the NSA creating a cast of cartoon characters targeting kids in order to make spying feel all warmly patriotic and friendly.

A bizarre insurgent's recruitment video allegedly made by the Baghdad sniper.

And from an American, War is Hell - Illustrated.

First genuine picture of Bush and Abramoff is published since the White House photo purge began. Bush's pulls the Sargent Schultz defense -- I know nothing!
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Sunday, February 12, 2006

What's a little gunshot among friends?

Cheney accidentally shot his companion while quail hunting on a ranch in Texas this weekend. The guy he shot is okay, although he was peppered with shotgun pellets over his cheek, neck and chest. These things happen but here's the scary part.
[E]mergency personnel traveling with Cheney tended to Whittington, holding his face and cleaning up the blood.

"Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."
Think about that. The number two man in our government travels with an ambulance. Hard to believe anybody ever seriously considers him as a contender in 08.
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Welcome back

Blogging is kind of like that song, The Hotel California -- you can quit a blog but few can really stop blogging. So say hello to an old friend returning to the blogdom, who will be now known as The Mayor of Simpleton.

[ht to the ever alert Kathy at Stone Soup]
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Links in unexpected places

I'm blogging through this nasal fog and in idly checking my referrals I find that somehow I ended up on the linkfest at Basil's Blog. Quite a surprise but I'm glad for the exposure on that side of the fence.

Whoever's responsible, thanks for the encouragement.
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Bloggers in the crosshairs of Bush administration

This can't be good.
The government concluded its "Cyber Storm" wargame Friday, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.
Yes, that's right - it says bloggers and it gets worse.
Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events.
Might it also include deliberate campaigns to expose government misinformation? Meanwhile, this diary at Kos connects the dots on what suggests a campaign to cast bloggers as a threat of some kind to national security.

Me, I'm thinking about those "emergency detention camps" the Bush administration just contracted out. Wouldn't you say that talk of a pending police state has lost its tinfoil sheen and is starting to look pretty damn credible?

[ht to Jules Siegel]
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Puzzling developments at the border

I don't what to make of this. After insisting on several occassions that the last incident was a simply a drug deal gone bad, the "Mexican cops" are sighted again in the same place, but no drugs. What on earth could they be thinking? I can't believe the Mexicans actually think they can invade us, so why all this visibility at the border?

I don't want to tell you my new theory is it's some sort of US black-ops to drum up anger at Mexico but it makes more sense than Fox deliberately taunting us with his army. Considering the conflicting versions of the response from Mexican officials, I guess I'll wait to see what develops before I make any further guesses.

[ht to Sabin]
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Why don't we fly away....

Here's something else I didn't know via James van Etten's excellent weekly Flight Times newsletter. The US has closed the US/Mexico border to private aircraft for a year.
General aviation groups are concerned about a year-long temporary flight restriction (TFR) that came into effect along the US border with Mexico on 24 January to prevent collisions with unmanned air vehicles on surveillance missions.

The 550km (300nm)-long, 30km-wide corridor along the US-Mexico border in Arizona and New Mexico is associated with use of the General Atomics Predator B unmanned aircraft by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The agency took delivery of its first Predator in September and has exercised an option for a second to be delivered by mid-year.
Think about that folks. We've got Predator aircraft patrolling US civilian airspace. Thinking back to the armed patrols in NOLA last September, obstensibly for security from looters but who were confiscating civilian firearms, it's beginning to look more like Baghdad here everyday isn't it?

They're calling it a temporary measure, but it's expected to be renewed at expiration. The rub is, if they call it temporary, they don't need to have a public comment period to enact it, as they would if they admitted it was meant to be permanent. I'm all for border security but this goes a too far, especially as it's being done, behind our backs so to speak.
Use of a “temporary” large-scale flight restriction for year-long UAV operations is “not appropriate”, says the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “It’s unacceptable to cordon off large areas of civilian airspace just because a UAV can’t detect and avoid other aircraft,” says Andy Cebula, executive vice-president of government affairs.
Amen. It's just one more way to control the civilian population.
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Airport checklists yanked by feds

I feel just gross. I've already half filled my wastebasket with soggy kleenex and I haven't read the news in two days so maybe this is old, but I find it a good sign that the useless Secure Flight name checking program is being sent back to the drawing board. It's always struck as a particularly inefficient and ineffective way to screen out terrorists. I mean don't you think someone wanting to blow the plane would just change their name a lot? As far as I can see, this was always a collosal waste of time and tax dollars designed solely to give the illusion of added security.

And this is something I wasn't aware of, but does give pause.
Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley did not say whether any security breaches had been discovered. An agency spokeswoman, Amy von Valter, told reporters, "We don't believe any passenger information has been compromised." [...]

According to the GAO testimony, Secure Flight was given formal authority to go live in September, but a government team found that the system software and hardware had 82 security vulnerabilities.
Great. So not only does it not enhance security, it's one more avenue for identity thieves to collect information. Never mind the drawing board, they should send this program to the scrap heap instead of spending another cent on it.
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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sick day

Damn. I've come down with a head cold. I having some chicken soup and going to bed. I'm off tomorrow. I'll be back. I've got a couple of new posts at the DetNews. That's the best I can do tonight.
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

What would Martin Luther King have done?

The Bush supporters seem to have worked themselves up into a frenzy of righteous indignation over Coretta Scott King's funeral. Please. Spare me the hue and outcry from the same people who last September were mocking the impoverished and largely black population of New Orleans for being too dumb or too lazy to get out of harm's way in the wake of Katrina. Deliver me from the people like Jonah Goldberg who make jokes about people drowning in the Superdome and the legions of like minded cretins who condemned desperate people as savages and looters for trying to survive. The same people that are against affirmative action and for the elimination of "entitlement programs" like Medicare and food stamps.

And I don't want to hear about manners either. Via Cadillac Tight, this piece from Mary Mitchell, whom Donnie says is an African-American columnist who is no friend to President Bush. The last line reads,
"If politicians and civil rights leaders wanted to call Bush out, they should have called him at the White House."
Therein lies the problem. Sure it was bad manners, but Jack Grant is right, there is no other forum. We've been calling at the White House, and no one answers. They just listen in on what we say to each other. The media won't play it straight. CNN edited out the standing ovation for Lowrey, for instance.

I think if Martin Luther King had lived to make that eulogy, he would done the same at the funeral as a tribute to her work. I think Coretta would have been proud that he did. Both their lives were dedicated to fighting for their people, for the civil rights that the man on the stage is trampling daily.

I remember MLK making the I Have a Dream speech. I remember his assassination. Had he lived I think he would have been horrified to see what has happened to his dream under this administration and would have fought against it in any way he could.

The Kings were politically driven people. They would have wanted their message to be heard. And frankly. I'll be more impressed by this new found interest in proper decorum at an African-American activist's funeral when the rightwingers start standing up against Bush's proposed budget cuts and other policies that hurt this population of Americans the most. That's what Martin Luther King would have been doing and that's what Coretta cared about as well.
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cartoons and the politics of fear

It's been another long day. I'm tired and I'm hellish cranky. I haven't been able to post all day but I did a lot of reading, so I'm finally going to weigh in on the cartoon controversy. I don't in any any way condone the violence but I don't think it wouldn't have come to violence if the hordes of war mongering, Sheehan bashing, Bush supporters hadn't all of sudden found an adamant affection for the First Amendment. These champions of free speech, who can't wait to exercise their right to post cartoons mocking some else's religion beliefs, are the same ones who hold an irrational hate against Cindy for exercising hers. The whole bloody thing would have died down in a day with the first protest, except it became the new Natalie Holloway moment in the media and the blogland.

Reading the blogs and the comments I see the war mongers want to send a few well placed nukes to eliminate the Islamic holy places, to send "those people" a message -- as if a few thousand demonstrators represented the entirety of the Muslim population. And the media that plays these demonstrations as they did, are the same "reporters" who saw millions of people around the globe demonstrating against the invasion of Iraq and ignored it. The same "journalists" who saw 400,000 Americans demonstrate just last year in Washington DC against the occupation and gave a collective yawn. They made every attempt to obscure and marginalize its message.

The same people who say Cindy Sheehan doesn't speak for them so she should just shut up; who mock the ACLU for fighting to perserve that right for all Americans; now hold the First Amendment near and dear to their hearts. They can't have it both ways folks. If the First Amendment protects their right to vent their hate against Islam and a mother who is petitioning our government for peace, it protects her and every war dissenter's right to do plead their case in their own way.

As for holding the entire Muslim nation accountable for this violence, if Cindy doesn't speak for you, how can they hold around a billion people responsible for the violence of a few? Muslims comprise the second largest religion in the world. If it was really a religion of hate, don't you think they would have done more damage by now?

This new righteous indignation from the right over free speech looks from here like a transparent attempt to manufacture an international state of polarized outrage. It worked. The unbalanced outcry incited violence and drew attention away from the administration's current attack on Americans, namely the Bush budget and its GOP counterparts. For instance, Bush snuck his own privatization proposals into his proposed budget. Those being the ones Congress voted down.

Meanwhile, what this? A message from Karl Rove to the Judiciary Committee about their investigation into Bush's illegal surveillance?

[crossposted to DetNews]
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hot Buzz Flashes

It's been a long day and I have another early call tomorrow so it's do your own reading.

Michael Winship in an op-ed at BuzzFlash has some enlightening thoughts on truthiness. Best line. "What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?"

Arianna makes a killer catch of a editorial at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, owned by the Big Daddy of the ultra-right, Richard Mellon Scaife. He's done a 360 and endorsed Murtha's plan for withdrawal. I've been saying for weeks unto months that this is a civil war. Glad to see the mainstream catch on.
"We didn't agree with Jack Murtha in November when he called for an immediate withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq. The timing wasn't right. But times have changed... This is not retreat. This is not cut-and-run. This is a recognition of the reality in Iraq -- one that has evolved into an Iraqi problem that only the Iraqis now can solve."
Look for more mutinys.

Maureen Farrell rocks the house with conspiracy theories that come true. I can't read this tonight, it's too well sourced and I don't have time, but I'll be getting back to this one.

Why does the Pentagon hate soldiers? What kind of lamebrained bureaucracy charges a permanently wounded soldier for body armor lost on the field of battle? This kind of stuff so pisses me off. Where are the Influential PJ Media on these issues? They've got Malkin screeching about brain dead girls and cartoons instead.

Buzz Flash is hot on the case of Al Gonzales not testifying under oath. What's with that crapola? The editorial is spot on - the Dems should have walked out then and there in protest. Between that and Rove browbeating the GOPers, the hearings instantly became a sham.

And don't get me started on Bush's budget proposal. Not to mention Ralphie Reed refuses to withdraw despite demands from his party. I'm telling you, these guys are so arrogant, because they think they have the voting system rigged and they can't lose.
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Monday, February 06, 2006

All along the watchtower

ExPat Brian blogging from Singapore takes us back to the 60s and tells of his own encounters of the military surveillance kind while serving during the Vietnam War and even after he returned home.

Interestingly, although he openly smoked a lot of marijuana, as did most of the soldiers there, there wasn't a war on marijuana then. He was under investigation for listening to such subversive music as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Unsurprisingly, when he obtained the file under a FOIA request, many years later, it contained 200 pages of mostly lies.

Interesting story and a good reminder that we fought this fascist mindset under Nixon and won. We can beat back this White House too.
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KBR awarded contract for US concentration camp construction

Here's a bit of under-reported news that's sure to cause some insomnia for those who still cherish our civil rights. The federal government has awarded a $385 million contract for the construction of "temporary detention facilities" to KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, for use in an "immigration emergency." One U.S. Immigration official notes such an "emergency might be "an upheaval in another country that would cause mass migration." Yeah, I bet that's what Hitler said when he built the concentration camps. It's not much of a stretch to imagine how handy these camps would be to "house" political enemies in the event of the declaration of martial law.

They already have thousands of berths across the U.S. for the purpose of interring illegal immigrants and if they need more prison space, they could release the hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders currently incarcerated our largest gulag in the world, into treatment programs. A strategy that has recently been proven to save money and contribute to the public safety.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a bad feeling about this. I think the SOB in the White House could be planning to suspend the 08 elections under his "war powers" and clap the dissenters into these camps. Let's face it, we're all "enemies" of Bush's state.
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Superbowl stunk

I'm not a big football fan but I usually try to watch the Superbowl and I made the effort this year but I gave up pretty early on and watched Monk reruns instead. Is it me or was that the most boring game in the history of the series? Not to mention that since the holy rollers scared the bejebus out of the advertisers, the commercials aren't even fun anymore.

As for the half time show, I'm a life long fan of the Stones but while Mick's energy level is still pretty impressive, his voice is gone and he has flappy underarms. It struck me as a rather pathetic performance except that I think his cute little butt is still pretty sexy when he swings his hips like a ten dollar whore.
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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Oh, just another little war power

How comforting.
In the latest twist in the debate over presidential powers, a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States.
Emphasis mine. Suspects!?! They don't even qualify it as only for known terrorists. They're always talking about how they're killing suspected insurgents in Iraq. Half the time they turn out to be innocent families. Doesn't that just make you feel safer?

And what a convenient way to dispatch your political enemies. Oh well -- ya see -- I suspected he was a terrorist because he was bad mouthing the preznit, so I had to 'ssassinate him... Boggles the mind.
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Brokeback to the Future

For you recut trailers fans. I really like this one.
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Man with a plan

Murtha's got one, Bush doesn't. Must read of the day. This should have been the Democrats rebuttal to the SOTU. Just read it but here's one quote.
But the thing that worries me is, every time we make a substantive recommendation like redeployment of the troops to the periphery, so that our troops are out of danger, and do it as quickly as possible, we get rhetoric of defeatism.

I mean, when he says “a plan for victory”—what is the plan? We‘ve got to give the Iraqis an incentive to take over. They‘ve had their election, they‘ve got a democratic government there. The Sunnis are not too happy about it, it‘s going to be very difficult. But they‘ve got to fight for it themselves, just like we had to fight for our own democracy in the United States.
And ironically, Americans are now left fighting to keep the freedoms at home from being trampled in the name of "war powers" necessary to bring "freedom" abroad.
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Rock the vote

Well, Blogger has been very quirky and it went out all together last night so here's a post I didn't get up yesterday.

First I've heard of this suit. Freelance journalist Lynn Landes filed the first legal challenge to the widespread use of nontransparent voting systems. She couldn't find a civil rights organization to back her, so she's going it alone. It's about to be considered by SCOTUS. If they agree to hear it, it should be interesting.

Speaking of voting fraud. The first vote taken in the GOP's House Leadershop vote to replace indicted felon Tom DeLay, showed more votes than they were members present. That says about says it all about the integrity of our electoral system.

Finally, a Democrat who gets it. Potential 08 candidate Evan Bayh urges his fellow Dems to take a page out of the GOP playbook and rise to Karl Rove's challenge. National Security is an issue that they can win on if they only stop allowing Rove to set their agenda. I mean duh, if Rove says its a loser, don't you think it's really because they could hammer the GOP with it?

The Democrats need to wake up and realize that they're not going to win votes by allowing Karl Rove to dictate their strategy.
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Saturday, February 04, 2006

May I have a blogroll please...

The glacially slow updating of our blogroll continues. Say hey to fellow Koufax nominee Michael Stickings at The Reaction. You may be more familiar with his work as a guest poster at The Moderate Voice but his own blog is worthy of much more recognition than it currently gets. For instance, try this post on for size.

Click on over and check out his stuff.
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