Thursday, April 29, 2004

BuzzFlash, My Morning Read

I have a few others ...,, It's usually 4-5AM ... it is what I do at those early morning twilight times.

This morning I read this interview but didn't post it. But it's worth a read. An interview with Jonathan Bonifaz, author of "Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George W. Bush".

Excerpt: " I wrote the book to ensure that there would be a broader public debate about the illegality of this war."

Have a look if you are so inclined.

What Bush Surge?

I'd really like what other people think about this. I'm not confident in what the "average voter" thinks, since I'm neither average, nor a regular voter. (I'm fond of the None of the Above option on ballots)

Read this and see what you think? Think Again: What Bush Surge?"

Excerpt: "'Fox News' Brit Hume looked at the polling data and announced Bush was "on the rebound." He wasn't alone. "Bad News Just Rolls Off Bush," read a headline for a Kansas City Star column that announced Bush has "become a president with a sheen of Ronald Reagan Teflon." A similar Detroit News column declared, "Pundits bang away at George W. Bush, but he's weathering storm," and added, "The more barbs the president suffers, the more confidence he gains with potential voters. Bush's standing with likely voters improved, and his overall standing with Americans has solidly rebounded."

I'm frankly loathe to understand why the 'Lil Smirk' is still getting popular support. But I know I'm not the normal person who responds to polls.

Read the article, and let me know. I need your take on it.

I Can See the World Tonight

Blumenthal on Bush and the difference between Iraq and a hard place...

Pulp Fictions Triumph over Truth

Excerpt: "Perhaps the most important divide in the presidential campaign is between fact and fiction. There are, of course, other sharp distinctions based on region and religiosity, guns and gays, abstinence and abortion. But were the election to be decided on domestic concerns alone, George Bush would be near certain to join the ranks of one-term presidents - like his father after the aura of the Gulf war evaporated."

And Sir Paul McCartney sings:
"I heard you listening to a secret conversation.
You were crying, you were trying not to let them hear you
I heard you listening in

Never mind what they wanna do
You've got a right to your point of view
It doesn't matter what they say
They're giving the game away - hey - hey.

I can see the world tonight
Look into the future
See it in a different light
I can see the world tonight."

"The World Tonight" is off the "Souvenir" CD.

I've been trying to measure when the politicians started what looked like purposeful "giving the game away". Certainly all the signs were there in the last 30 or 40 years, but the audaciousness only began in 2000, it seems to me. They are obvious and arrogant every step of the way. It's like they're giving a double-dog dare ... "Stop us, or shut up."

My "day off my day job" amblings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

How I came to the Allspinzone

See that link over there on the left that says "Politically Speaking?" It is about the oddest place in cyberspace to find political debate. Some of you will have clicked and found -- SURPRISE! -- it is the Philadelphia Eagles' Message Board. It's a long, long story about how they established a forum for political debate there, but there is some merit to a forum where real debate happens between people with divergent opinions. Also, it is a "members only" place, so unlike America these days, there is at least one common bond between the players in the political brawl that is "Politically Speaking" -- they are all Eagles fans.

Anyway, Richard invited me here because he's witnessed my work sparring with Limbaugh wannabes. The confrontation with folks, mostly men, who believe Sciafe-based propaganda such as that Hillary Clinton is a serial murderer can be lots of fun, and I'm proud that the Bushites on that forum revile me almost as much as they do my good friend Toaster.

Here's a sample. Today a newbie to the forum had the stupidity to react to the L. A. Times hiring of Michael Kinsley to head up the Editorial and Opinion section with this:
Life-long, hardcore liberal, formerly left host of Hardball and former editor of Slate Magazine named to head editorial section of La Times...hmmm...that's fair.
Yeah, some of the conservatives on that forum have no clue about how journalism works. And it is my lot in life to keep them in their places. (Where's a halo when you need one?) Still, I'd like to tout the place. Mostly good people there, except when the rabid Bushies start talking about torturing prisoners being OK, or when the rabid anti-choice people accuse their opponents of wishing to kill all children. I recommend it to those who read this space regularly and are in need of some political sparring.

That's all for today. Just a little glimpse into an oddity of the political part of the web. And now, back to the PEMB. Tallyho!

Monday, April 26, 2004

Back from a little Rest and Relaxation

Kate has certainly filled the role nicely here at the allspinzone while Richard and I were gone. I'm back, but it might take a few moments to get my spinning skills up to speed. As you'll note in the above picture, this liberal commie pinko went incognito while in the Bahamas. I'll leave it to you folks to guess which beach towell is mine.

To be serious, I returned to hear of the death of Pat Tillman on the front lines in Afghanistan, and I cannot express my sadness more. While I may criticize the actions and strategies of the Bush Administration, I cannot bring myself to criticize a man who gave up a lucrative career in order to fight for what he thought was the best for his country.

Former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who gave up a $3.6 million sports contract to join the military's elite special forces, was killed in a sustained firefight involving 15-20 insurgents in Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on April 24. Tillman, shown in June 2003, enlisted with his brother, Kevin, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
There are many kinds of patriotism. I consider myself a patriot, and show that in small ways while lounging, but also in more concrete ways by commenting on the political and war situations brought to us by BushCorp. Pat Tillman demonstrates his patriotism by stepping up to help in the real fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

I'll predict here that Mr. Tillman shows up in a George Bush commercial around the beginning of the NFL season, and the NFL will pitch in with the Bush campaign to trivialize his death by exploiting it. Look for the 40 yard line in stadiums to change in his honor. And, of course, the White House has already weighed in through spokesperson Taylor Gross::
"Pat Tillman was an inspiration both on and off the football field. As with all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror, his family is in the thoughts and prayers of President and Mrs. Bush."
God Bless Pat Tillman. Please Mr. Bush, do not disrespect this man by exploiting him in your campaign.

Monday, Monday
"can't trust that day,
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Monday Monday, how yould cou leave and not take me.

Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time."

It really doesn't matter, I suppose, that so many of us said the invasion and occupation of Iraq was all about oil and other resources to be raped by the corporate reptiles. But, as my baby sister says, "It is what it is. Grab your helmet and strap in."

Here, from Mark LeVine at TomDispatch: Sponsored Chaos

Excerpt of the intro: "Mark LeVine, historian and co-editor of Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation, asks whether incompetence and bad planning really fully cover what's going on in Iraq, whether in fact in various ways "chaos" has both its advantages and its sponsors. He begins what I hope might be a larger debate about Iraq, certainly; but also about the nature and uses of chaos and violence in our world."

It's almost 6 AM. I've been awake since 3:30. Mondays have never been among my favorite days of the week. It's important to read the fine print on Mondays.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Some People Just Do Not Matter: Proud to Be A Murkin, Yes, Indeedy

Crushing Fallujah 2, by David Edwards of Media Lens

Excerpt: "Sniping specialists say of Falluja that there may not have been such a "target rich" battlefield for that kind of killing since the World War II battle for Stalingrad. The Los Angeles Times reports that US snipers have been killing hundreds of insurgents:

"Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies," a Marine corporal said, "then I'll use a second shot." ('For Marine snipers, war is up close and personal', Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2004)

In nearly two weeks of conflict in Falluja, the unnamed corporal has emerged as the top sniper, with 24 confirmed kills. By comparison, the top Marine Corps sniper in Vietnam killed 103 people in 16 months. "I couldn't have asked to be in a better place," the corporal said. "I just got lucky: to be here at the right time and with the right training."
(bold emphasis mine)

Ponder this as the "Dear Leader" decides whether to flatten Fallujah further -- like yeah, right, he's going to opt for diplomacy. I couldn't work up a giggle for that one. Maniacal laughter perhaps but no giggle.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Knarly Saturday Trivia
And she'll have fun, fun, fun 'til her daddy takes the T-bird away.

For the word origin mavens, the word trivia began differently than what we have in common usage. It meant the secret intersection of three roads where the witches and their power were buried. I'm not kidding. Look it up.

But we'll go with a more modern definition,... something not widely known, something esoteric, something known by a few.

The question? Name the author of the following quotation, and the person to whom he refers. See I even gave you a hint ... the author is a male type person.

Quote: "He was like many people: in intellectual matters he was skeptical, but in moral matters he believed implicitly in the maxims that he had imbibed at his mother's knee. That illustrates what the psychoanalysts so much emphasize--the immensely stronger hold upon us that our very early associations have than those of later times."

I'm betting Google won't know this one. ;-)

Friday, April 23, 2004

Just Another Freaky Friday

And Richard left me the keys to the T-bird while he and his family AND the Spin Dentist have a little R & R. So I got to wondering ... how can I take care of said T-bird and still be li'l old me?

The big bruhaha about the Dover AFB photos has not left my mind much in the last few days. The media says that the White House and the Pentagon are not amused. The Pentagon says families of KIA G.I.s are unhappy. Those concerned about the restrictions on the First Amendment are hollaring just as loudly. My mind boggles at the low-flying spinners all around. In the end, before each of us hit the pillow tonight or tomorrow or the next or next, each of us thinking, feeling mammals can choose to decide or not. I present some varied links... myriad choices.

Pentagon Families Want Photo Ban

There Is No War. There Are No Dead Americans

From today's NYT, mirrored at TruthOut
Pentagon Ban on Pictures of Dead Troops Is Broken

Pentagon Miffed at the USAF
Photos Released in Error

And just for "fun" (wink, wink):
Students for an Orwellian Society

My Jay and Boo Tribute Quote for the night (my kids, now grown, deciding for themselves) is from Weird Al Yankovic:

Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you thought was just so
Important doesn't matter

Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong

Personal Thoughts on Pat Tillman

Thirty years ago, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Vietnam was winding down, and certainly the image of serving the country had become tarnished by that time in history. But like a lot of rudderless kids from the beginning of time until present, serving in the military was my answer to finding discipline, direction, and purpose. I like to think I gained all three of these attributes during my 7 years of service, and I may never have gained them otherwise.

As you read and hear eulogies for Pat Tillman over the next few days, consider this: Pat Tillman already had all three of the attributes that I sought when he made the decision to forego his NFL career and join the Army. He wasn't a freshfaced, naive kid straight out of highschool. He was a determined walkon that played four years at Arizona State, and then captured a nice NFL contract with the Cardinals. I assume he lived in a nice house, drove nice cars, and ate at the best restraunts - something few of us will ever have the luxury of doing.

Yet, something in him drove him to respond to the tragic events of 9/11. I don't know if it was respect for his brother's decision to serve, or if he felt that he needed to contribute his name and fame to the cause. I doubt it had anything to do with the 'fame' angle. If it did, he would have taken the Elvis route to serving, not the Ted Williams route.

This alone makes his death more tragic. I wonder, knowing what we know today, if Pat Tillman would have made the same life-altering decision with regards to serving his country. And after considering the story of his life, I don't think it would have turned out any differently.

I think it's important that both sides of the political aisle resist the temptation to make Pat Tillman's death a recruiting poster for their causes. Personally, I still need the magnitude of his passing to sink in a bit. And as Americans, we owe it to his friends and family to honor a man who served under the circumstances that he did without passing judgment on the circumstances that put him in harms way.

An NFL piece on Tillman from 2003 sums up the essence of Pat Tillman, and those more unheralded who are just like him, as follows:
The story that comes to mind is one told by Bruce Snyder, Tillman's coach at Arizona State. It seems that Snyder planned to redshirt Tillman as a freshman, extending his eligibility by a season. Of course, that would necessitate Tillman remaining in college for an extra year.

"You can do whatever you want with me," Tillman said, "but in four years I'm gone. I've got things to do with my life."
Lastly, there's a short exchange between two commentors on Atrios' blog that pretty much sums up my feelings:
Man, this story pisses me off. We aren't allowed to see the flag-draped coffins, the hundreds of other kids who have died barely get a mention, but a FOOTBALL PLAYER dies and everyone feels bad and oh, it's awful, so sad, such a sacrifice, what a great guy, hours of play on CNN. Typical of our sports-deifying patriarchal society. If you play sports, you are important, your death matters. Otherwise, you're just one of the nobodies who died in the "war."

Or, more accurately, one of the "nobodies" who didn't die in the war. Because there is no report of deaths, except as unverifiable numbers, there is no reality to it.

I remember Dalton Trumbo's introduction to one edition of his Johnny Got His Gun,, where he mentions reading the body count from Vietnam (a staple of newspaper and evening news reporting during that war). The numbers represented bodies, corpses, human remains. A small mountain of them, at the height of that war. But instead of throwing up, Trumbo said, we reach for the coffee.

Numbers are meaningless. If Tillman's death has any greater value, perhaps it will be in making people aware that real human beings are dieing in Iraq. Not just "numbers" or "soldiers;" but people.
As it is and will always be.

Here's to hoping that we all learn a little through Pat Tillman's story. Rest in peace, Pat.

Pat Tillman Killed in Iraq

I'm a big football fan. I live for Sunday in the fall. A couple of years ago, Pat Tillman of the Arizona Cardinals gave up a big paycheck and the best of his playing days to join his brother in the Rangers - as in, US Army Rangers.

Today comes word that Tillman was killed in Iraq.

Man, that depresses me. Like all wars, this one took one of the best and the brightest.

Update, 10:30EDT: It's now being reported that Tillman was killed in Afghanistan, not Iraq.

At the Risk of Being Repetitive...

When I look back at the past couple of months, it seems that much of the worst insurgent violence in Iraq takes place on Saturday and Sunday. It's not because the insurgent population of Iraq has nothing better to do on the weekends (idle hands, devil's playground, etc. etc.). It's because the Islamic holy day of the week is Friday, not Sunday like in Christian culture. The Islamic weekend is Thursday and Friday.

So, when you read a headline like Shiite Cleric Threatens Suicide Attacks, and you read that the instigating sermon took place on Friday, now you know why you see insurgent reaction on Saturday or Sunday.

But of course, you already knew this, right?

Headlines from Around Bizarro World

Here's a few stories that caught my interest this morning...

Pakistan 'ends al-Qaeda search'

Homecoming for troops who caught Saddam

But, but, but...I thought we were "tightening the noose" along with our Numero Uno ally in the region? And where's the "spring offensive" to catch Bin Laden that we heard so much about back in January? And remember the jingoistic Bush Admin chest-thumping about bringing in the special ops folks that accepted the handover of Saddam from the Kurds? Weren't we supposedly sending those guys back to Afghanistan to yank OBL out of his cave? I'm confused. Anyway, welcome home, guys!

U.S. to Reinstate Some Sacked Iraq Officials

Chalabi Compares U.S. Policy on Baathists with Nazis

Iraqi forces 'turn on coalition'
The new coalition-trained Iraqi police force is being infiltrated by insurgents, a US army general has said.

Maj Gen Martin Dempsey said about 10% of new officers were rebels and a further 40% had left their jobs - but the rest "stood tall and stood firm".
Further proof that we're letting the inmates back into operational positions within the asylum. Jeepers, how in the hell can they spin this? After $150 billion dollars spent getting Saddam and his supporters out, now (at least the Baath Party supporters) are being welcomed back to the fold. After proper vetting, of course (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Speaking of vetting those Baath Party refugees, I hope whoever's doing the background checks on them is perhaps a bit more aggressive about checking references than they were with checking out Iraqi police and military recruits.

All in all, just another day in journalistic paradise. You couldn't make this shit up if you wanted to, and that's what makes it all the more bizarre.

Bring 'em on!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

"Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.
What're we fightin' for?"

That one's easy, eh? We know who they're fighting and dying for ... Halliburton, Bechtel, Chevron, and the rest of U.S., Inc.; and also for their own flag-shrouded coffins, solemn funeral corteges, and silent graveyards.

More photos from the woman recently fired from her job for taking verboten photos: What the Propaganda Masters Don't Want You to See

Addendum: Just nabbed this from a comment at Eschaton ... a large collection of photos at The Memory Hole (some duplicates but also some not making the mainstream press yet)

Casualties from Iraq (FYI --I'm on broadband, and it was a pretty long download -- image heavy)

Hug a Tree Today

There are two days on the calendar that George Bush should consider laying low - Labor Day and Earth Day. Since it's Earth Day today, I'm not going to belabor (pun intended) his job record. I'm incredulous enough about the Bush Administration's environmental record.

Seems that Dubya was up in Maine today, touting his --cough cough-- stewardship of the planet. He presented a wetlands preservation plan, which on the face of it is a good thing. We can chalk that up to his love of bass fishing, I guess. What's not a good thing is that there's no funding for the program. What is even curiouser is that early this month, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that the White House manipulated scientific information to minimize the threat of mercury exposure, in order to roll back some emission rules for coal fired power plants. So, I guess angler George isn't interested in this tidbit from the NRDC:
In several cases, the edits toned down the link between power plants and elevated levels of methylmercury in fish, despite the fact that power plan pollution is the largest unregulated source of mercury air pollution. In fact, high mercury levels prompted fish safety warnings in more than 44 states over the past year.

Under the Clinton administration, the EPA recommended that mercury from power plants be strictly regulated under the Clean Air Act's requirements for hazardous air pollutants. However, the Bush administration reversed course last December, much to the delight of coal and utility lobbyists. Recently, 10 state attorneys general and 45 U.S. senators spoke out against the EPA's pollution plan, urging the agency to scrap its proposals and adopt more protective mercury requirements.
This is but one example of why the Sierra Club released a statement today saying "Bush has done his best, in only three years, to break our national compact on environmental progress and turn the clock back -- not years or decades, but a full century."

At least Christie Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, had the good grace to give up her cozy EPA Administrator position after the third or fourth time that her boss backdoored her. As a GOP governor, Whitman always had a strong environmental record - but when she recognized how the Bush cabal was literally gutting environmental laws, regulations, and EPA enforcement, she quietly bailed out.

If you'd like a good year-by-year look at the Bush environmental record, check out the annotated listing provided by NRDC.

There are so many issues with which to slap around the Bush Administration. This is one of them that barely registers with most Americans. But on this day, when we supposedly celebrate our stewardship of the planet, we need to start by changing the stewardship of our government in November.

Now, go hug a tree.

Tami Silicio is my Kind of Hero

She recently took a picture in Kuwait that made it to the Seattle Times, with her permission.

Here are the comments of hers that made it into the Seattle Times:
"The way everyone salutes with such emotion and intensity and respect. The families would be proud to see their sons and daughters saluted like that," says Tami Silicio, a contract employee from the Seattle area who works the night shift at the cargo terminal.

For U.S. troops, April has been the worst month of this war, with at least 94 service members killed by hostile fire.

"So far this month, almost every night we send them home," Silicio said. "... It's tough. Very tough."
Reverent for our war dead, and shaken up as well, Ms. Silicio is the kind of person I'd like taking care of my relatives were they to be coming home from Bush's war in a box. That article is from yesterday, and here's the URL for it:

Silicio article

Today we find that she has been fired. Here's how it is playing in Australia in the headlines:
Sacked for Photo Americans Weren't Meant to SeeAnd here's the leading paragraphs from the Reuters story:
A U.S. contractor and her husband have been fired after her photograph of 20 flag-draped coffins of slain U.S. soldiers going home from Iraq was published in violation of military rules.

"I lost my job and they let my husband go as well," Tami Silicio, who loaded U.S. military cargo at Kuwait International Airport for a U.S. company, told Reuters in an e-mail response to questions.

The Pentagon tightly restricts publication of photographs of coffins with the remains of U.S. soldiers and has forbidden journalists from taking pictures at Dover Air Force Base where the caskets of slain soldiers usually first stop on their return to the United States.

The military says the policy is in place to protect the privacy of families of those killed, but critics have said the rules are aimed at sanitizing the war for the public.
I'm almost sickened beyond comment. There is so much wrong here that it is impossible to enumerate. Is it a wonder so many people support this war when we aren't allowed to see the true cost in lives? Why would you fire someone so visibly moved by her work?

I'm sure there will be conservative spin, and the attack dogs of talk radio will personally attack this woman. Remember, there is no shame anymore. But if I were the relative of one of the fallen, I'd be up in arms about this little escapade.

Maybe this is how Bush creates jobs?

Rip Out a Piece of my Heart

This is surely a sign of the apocalypse. I expect to see it raining huge balls of flame, cats and dogs will be sleeping together, and yes, this portents well for the Cubbies to win the World Serious. (Shameless plug -- SpinDentist will be teaching a themed literature course entitled Baseball and literature in the fall. It is noncredit community ed sorts of stuff, but should be fun as we examine Baseball, the American Dream, immigration and assimilation, the Jewish experience, and a whole lot more. Of course, you'd have to be in Central Florida to take advantage.)

I was in the car this morning and punched the button for the country station, because sometimes a ballad can do a soul good. What do I find? The most elevator-music, softest, silky and TOTALLY inappropriate voice doing a cover of "Piece of My Heart," a song that can only be sung by Janis Joplin, with the exception of those of us who sing along at the tops of our lungs to the car radio when Janice comes on.
And baby deep down in your heart I guess you know that it ain't right
More than that, this is heresy. That anyone could even conceive of a soft country remake of that song says worlds about the state of our culture. Rap remake? I could take that. But Janice is all about edge, and this version had all the edge of a balloon animal.

I can't get the taste out of my mouth! And I'm at work all day. Folks, this is worse than death by Yanni. This is more perverse than Michael Jackson and adolescent monkeys in bed. This is my YOUTH they're playing with!

I'll bet it's George Bush's fault.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Random Thoughts

I've been away from the blog for a bit due to foreseen and unforeseen circumstances, but SD and Kate are carrying on quite nicely in my absence. That's the good news, and I thank them for the support! The bad news is that I feel so out of the loop, when I finally get back on track in a couple of weeks, I fear nothing will have changed in America. I'll still be writing about the same shit on a different day.

First observation...I missed the Bob Woodward interview on 60 Minutes this past Sunday, but I've kind of been following the fallout. While I freely admit I haven't read the book yet (still working on Richard Clarke's, which I'll comment on later), some of the key points are stirring a hornet's nest in the administration. Colin Powell was apparently sitting in the cheap seats when the decision was reached to make war on Saddam (no surprise to me). Your tax dollars, $700 million of them, were misappropriated from the Afghan conflict to support a clandestine runup to Iraq (I'm shocked, shocked...). Dubya apparently has a red phone to God (now that's getting scary...). Then there's the backroom deal with those wonderful folks from the House of Saud (whose country so generously contributed 15 of 19 hijackers on 9/11) to flood the pipeline with oil to drive down gas prices prior to the election. And as I type this, the administration is going full bore on the character assassination route of Woodward (again, I'm shocked). So, we've now got three books from insiders (plus the one from Watergate alum John Dean) who have clearly "left the reservation", with more to come in the next few months. And I'll be completely surprised if even as an aggregate, all the books, the warnings, and the insights into the mind and motivation of George W. Bush will make any difference at all to his core base of supporters.

Second observation...the train wreck that is the middle east is getting worse. The death toll in Iraq continues to mount, and it's moving south. Folks in Fallujah won't give up their guns, and it's just a matter of time before that whole situation boils over again. One of our staunchest allies in the region (King Abdullah of Jordan) disses POTUS by cancelling a meeting. Egypt's Mubarak is getting very antsy about Bush's cowtow to Ariel Sharon. Terrorists have struck once again in Saudi. A Coalition Provisional Authority insider is questioning whether or not Iraq can ever be "democratized". And the Bush administration is still humping hell-bent-for-leather to turn over the asylum to the inmates on June 30th.

Third observation...Nothing matters. Nothing. It's the only way I can rationalize continued support for GWB in the polls. What we need is some good, illicit, pResidential fellatio to focus the electorate on the real issues. The only encouraging note I see is that even though the GOP has outspent the Kerry campaign in advertising by roughly 10:1 over the past two months, all Bush has done is tread water and limited the damage. While I continue to not be the biggest Kerry booster around, folks, he's the only chance we've got. More and more, I really think he needs to make a bold choice for a running mate. There is also one Democratic stalwart that needs to start making some serious policy noise - Bill Clinton. Kerry needs to get Slick Willie front and center in the campaign, and then plug him into a high profile, cabinet-level slot in the Kerry Administration.

Fourth observation...In a few days, I'm heading out of the country for a week of R+R, so I anticipate being even further out of the loop. But I need the time away. I need to step back from the whole political situation in this country, get away from the blogs, papers, and TV, and recharge the batteries. There are times when the macro view of where our country is, and where I think it's heading, moves me into tinfoil hat territory. Folks, I'm worried. The fundamental religious zealotry that's completely overtaken both the domestic and foreign policy agendas of this country should scare the beejesus out of everyone - even the zealots. We're unnecessarily hurrying Armageddon. And the guy with the red phone to God has the noocular button at his disposal.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A Tale of Zero Tolerance at a Lutheran University
Can we talk?

Colleges and universities have long held that they act in loco parentis (in the stead of parents) as far as underage students living on campus are concerned. I don't know about your college experience (if you had one), but something happened to my nineteen year-old niece over last weekend that has my blood boiling (you know, like Georgie Dubya Porgie's blood got to a boil over eeeevil-dewars and terr-ists? ... something like that, but angrier.) I got to thinking about my experience at the very same Lutheran university more than 30 years ago. The tale:

My sister, who is today marking six years since the accidental death of her twelve year-old son, called me last night. She said not only is this the Bad Month, but she got another "incoming" with a call from her ex about my niece, her daughter.

It seems there was a disturbance in her dorm on Saturday night one floor below hers. The university cops were called, and then the county cops. Apparently the powers that be and the cops were not satisfied with merely putting down the disturbance. The county cops then went door to door in the dorm through all the floors, knocking on doors.

As it so happened my niece and her roomate (and a couple friends earlier) were having a few beers in their room. Knock, knock, knock. My niece went to the door. The cops asked her if she was drinking. She said, "yes". Oy. There is no drinking allowed in the dorm. She is nineteen. The cops brought out their handy breathalyzer. (seems she blew .02) The cops took my niece and her roommate out of the dorm -- under arrest -- handcuffed them, and took them to the county lockup.

Anyone who knows me knows what I said to my sister at this point in the story, and the decibel level at which I said it. I said: "HEY!!! The cops were chumming for a bust. No probable cause to knock on the door. Illegal, illegal, illegal!!! Nazis!!!! Fascists!!!!!" (mea culpa -- for the Godwin's law infraction)

Their friends gathered money and bailed them out. The RA at the dorm gave my niece a referral to the university law school for representation... the nerve, probably the same bozo who called in the county mounties. Fascist!

I told my sister to get my niece a decent attorney, and more shall be revealed. My niece was sitting on her bed in her dorm room. Had probably consumed two beers ... quietly, no disturbance, no driving. But illustrious university has a "zero tolerance" policy about drugs and alcohol.

I remember puking on many curbs and lawns at illustrious university more than 30 years ago when every frat house had a kegger every weekend, and drunk frosh girls got raped every other week. Some of the illustrious university's administrators are probably my age, alumni, who plyed frosh coeds with booze in order to get laid.

I'm so incensed I can think of little else. My sister has given me the nod to talk to my niece about the United Police State of America. The only good thing I can see to come of this is that it's better she learn now how things really are.

An old Firesign Theatre skit had the lines: "Ask the cop on the corner ... ask the cop that's knocking at your front door... go ahead, ask him: Mr. Policeman, what makes America great?"

Just when I think the place where I was born can't get any weirder, any more insane and dangerous, something like this happens. And so I can make a completed circle of this rant, here a link to a site on the madness of zero tolerance - their articles index.

End Zero Tolerance

Thanks for your "ears".

"Psychologically Telling?"

I can imagine Chevy Chase reading this as part of his script way back wehn he did Weekend Update on the old, old Saturday Night Live. I caught the link at Buzzflash, and while it has surely been commented on and made fun of all over, I find it amusing.
A pressing issue of dinner-party etiquette is vexing Washington, according to a story now making the D.C. rounds: How should you react when your guest, in this case national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, makes a poignant faux pas? At a recent dinner party hosted by New York Times D.C. bureau chief Philip Taubman and his wife, Times reporter Felicity Barringer, and attended by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Maureen Dowd, Steven Weisman, and Elisabeth Bumiller, Rice was reportedly overheard saying, “As I was telling my husb—” and then stopping herself abruptly, before saying, “As I was telling President Bush.” Jaws dropped, but a guest says the slip by the unmarried politician, who spends weekends with the president and his wife, seemed more psychologically telling than incriminating. Nobody thinks Bush and Rice are actually an item. A National Security Council spokesman laughed and said, “No comment.”New York Metro
There are so many ways to approach this as far as humor goes. But all of them fail, ultimately, because each of them depicts this bright vibrant woman settling for or idolizing the Shrub.

I wanted to post this for fun, but it has made me a bit sad instead.

Gargle with a nice scotch. Don't spit.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Money Magazine Poll on the Economy -- those Commies!

Money magazine did a poll about the Bush tax cuts with surprising results, or at least they will be surprising to the Bush Administration. This poll is hard on the heels of the AP poll that said Americans two to one prefer a balanced budget over the Voodoo tax cuts brought by the Bush Corporation
This can't be good for Bush.

The new poll shows 75% of Americans prefer job creation spending to the tax cut, and almost 60% said they didn't benefit fromt he cuts personally.
NEW YORK, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The April MONEY/ICR Poll has found that three-quarters of Americans say that if they had had a choice between enacting the 2003 tax cuts or spending additional money to create new jobs, they would have picked job creation. The national poll, fielded last week, also found that half of all Americans would also have preferred cutting the deficit over last year's tax cuts. And a majority of Americans-60 percent-said they didn't benefit personally from the tax cuts of 2003. The poll also found that about half of Americans say their federal tax burden is too high and 4 in 10 -- 41% -- say their taxes are about right. MONEY Poll Report
Bush was going to try to use the economy as one of his supposed strong points in this election, but his intelligence on the state of the American voter is about as good as on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. So, if he doesn't get the American voter on the subject of the economy, does he reinvade Iraq to juice things up?

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Holiday Wrap Up

Let's see ... Passover has ended, the leader of Hamas has just been killed ... Easter's in the can, and US Marines are making a ghetto of Fallujah. The Ministry of Truth keeps cranking out the hits. Governmental leaders (religious examples) on parade. Tony and Dubya kneeled and prayed. Such earnest men. It's enough to make this former cradle-born Lutheran lose her lunch eternally.

The Crack-up (Chris Floyd, "Moscow Times")

"And what a sickening spectacle these "leaders" presented last weekend: George W. Bush and Tony Blair piously kneeling in prayer on Easter Sunday, pledging their fealty to Jesus Christ and His teachings of mercy and lovingkindness -- while ordering missile strikes on crowded cities, ..."

The War Prayer (Twain): ""O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen. "

Find the whole Twain fable here: The War Prayer

Drawing Lines in the Sand -- with Bulldozers

Taking a cue from Israel, the US Marines in Fallujah build their own "wall" around the Sunni Triangle city ... just for crowd control, ya see. Yep. That's the ticket, crowd control. And if that is insufficient, there's still heavy air cover, eh?

Firing Up New Weapon in Fallouja

When my kids were still kids we'd spend hours building castles in the sand on Huntington Beach ... Even they "get" that the berm around the Iraq city is not quite the same "fun". But here's a cool prize winner in the beach variety of castle-building. I was going to embed it, but it's big... so go have a look if you like.

Cool Sand Castles
Actually, has many, many wonderful photos. Have fun.

And while I'm doing the Tangential Tango, does anyone remember the name of the builder guys on Jim Henson's show Fraggle Rock? I loved that show. Something else wonderful about all those years with my "kids" (now almost 27 and almost 32). Wow, I just remembered their name!! Tangents are cool. Even when I can't consciously draw the connection, my mind does. So, now it's a contest ... what was the name of the builder guys on Fraggle? No fair Googling or any other search engine. Go.

Time, time, time, see what's become of me?" Tempus fugit! All of this conjures up yet another tangent or two I'll save for another thread.

There's No Good in This

I don't know why this would be unexpected - Israel assassinated the leader of Hezbollah and now they've gone after the leader of Hamas. I'm not even sure that the desire to have these folks wiped off the face of the planet is necessarily a bad thing. What I am thoroughly convinced of, though, is that these actions further serve to inflame the region and are leading the world down a path for which there is no turning back.

The resolution that these actions bring to the Arab world is nothing short of disastrous, in my opinion. Egypt and Saudi Arabia both have maintained an uneasy standoff with Tel Aviv for years. State sponsored assassination can only serve to further inflame the radical elements in moderate Arab states, and ultimately lead to no good ending for any of us.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Sleepwalking to Fallujah
"Golden Slumbers fill your eyes.
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry.
And I will sing a lullabye."

While you're at Online Journal check out the commentary by Joe Bageant. Pleasant dreams...

From the top: "April 14, 2004—Each workday I commute toward Washington, D.C.. along Route 7, where patriotic war slogans are spray painted on the overpasses, and homemade signs jut from the median in support of our "boys in Iraq." Mud-splattered construction trucks rip by with frayed flags popping in the wind, loaded with burly bearded men and looking very much like the footage of Afghanistan or Angola, minus the 50 caliber gun mounts. Yesterday I saw my first stretch Hummer, painted in desert tan and carrying half a dozen soccer mom types, which rather sums up the point I am trying to make here. There is a distinct martial ethos, the tang of steel and the smell of gun oil in the air around Washington these days, I swear it."

Parnoid Shift, or My Life on the Happy Planet

I came across this Michael Hasty piece at Online Journal, (I'll add that I was doing a Googlefest on James J. Angleton at the time ... CIA on my mind). Fortunately I my mental state at the time was not so far gone, I was able to find it again this morning.

What rings for me about this commentary is the sense of finding a twin sibling of an albeit different mother ... how is it some of us happen to cross the burbling Rubicon never to return. How we (some of us) go on to fully understand that what most people see of the geopolitical landscape on the Happy Planet is iceberg-esque. And since I'm feeling really weighed down by seeing these days Hasty's little essay hit home.

When did you traverse the fateful river Rubicon? Or, if you have not yet, do you think you will? The day ... picture it, when you firmly and resolutely doubt everything fed you by the in-bed media? When the headline "Fallujah Ceasefire Broken" brings a smirk to your face, along with the thought that the damn thing was broken before it got shrink-wrapped?


For your reading pleasure: Paranoid Shift, by Michael Hasty.


"The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth ... No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
John Donne, Meditation XVII

Protests at Kerry speech in Harlem

One retired professor got up and protested loudly Mr. Kerry's support of the war in Iraq and nis not calling for the troops to come home.
During a question-and-answer session with the audience, retired college professor Walter Daum angrily accused Kerry of backing an imperialist policy in Iraq and called on the candidate to demand the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"You voted for this," Daum shouted. As he spoke, a group stood silently and unfurled a large sign that read, "Kerry take a stand: Troops out now."

"You're not listening," an exasperated Kerry said at one point.

Later, speaking with reporters, Kerry dismissed the notion of withdrawing American forces and indicated that if U.S. generals and other senior officials say they need more troops, he would back such a move. Bush at his news conference Tuesday night said he would support an increase in the military presence in Iraq. The whole story on APNews

Is this shocking?

1. Well, certainly the mainstream press doesn't feature Mr. Kerry's views on the war, that he stands for completing it with honor and not abandoning the situation in midstream. This shows Kerry's stance pretty clearly.

2. We have a tendency in this society in recent years to label folks as "those liberals" and "those conservatives." Here we have a liberal Democrat, presumably, taking his own candidate to task. There is a real spread of opinion in the Democratic Party, and we're just not afraid of that diversity. Such criticism, were it to happen in the Republican Party, would make news, I'm sure, as someone there breaking the lockstep is noticed immediately.

3. Of course it wouldn't happen. At a Bush rally the guy would have been arrested.
Another article on the conviction of Brett Bursey I am proud of the way Kerry handles hecklers. I wish my President allowed free speech in this country to come within half a mile of him. Perhaps that's the problem. Sycophants give you what you want to hear, and Shrub has got only sycophants to listen to.

Can I interest you in a 1999 Listerine? Slightly tart to the palate. . . OK, now spit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Hammers and Nails

I've been reading a lot of commentary in the liberal blogosphere lamenting excess use of force by the U.S. Marines in Iraq, latest example being using a helicopter fired missile to take out an Iraqi that was firing at the helicopter - with a slingshot (tip 'o the hat to Billmon, again). Now, I'm not defending any military personnel using excess force to prosecute their dirty little war, but...

What did you expect?? Marines are trained to do two things -- kill and not be killed in the process. Marines are not trained to discriminate between active and nonactive combatants, the truly dangerous enemy and the faux fighter. From the outset of basic training at MCRD San Diego (or Paris Island), it's a "kill'em all and let Allah sort it out" mentality.

And that's exactly why the Marines were not significantly involved in Iraq until recently. It was the Army's tar baby. Except there wasn't enough Army to go around. So they bring in the trained killers to rotate out the Army personnel, and "keep the peace".

The problem is, Marines aren't schooled in the fine art of negotiation. Marines know total capitulation. Again, say it with me, it's a P-O-L-I-C-Y failure that resulted in Marines being in the Fallujah theatre in the first place. Which, in a "peacekeeping mission" is kind of like bringing in a SWAT Team to pacify a jaywalker.

There's an old saw that goes something like, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

What is a Press Conference for?

In my venture into neo-conland this morning I witnessed all sorts of folks not even defending the President's performance last night, but actually praising it. That's a little surprising if you are of the opinion that Press Conferences involve answering questions. Like this Q & A:
QUESTION: Mr. President, before the war, you and members of your administration made several claims about Iraq: that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators with sweets and flowers; that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, we know where they are.

How do you explain to Americans how you got that so wrong? And how do you answer your opponents who say that you took this nation to war on the basis of what have turned out to be a series of false premises?

BUSH: Well, let me step back and review my thinking prior to going into Iraq.

First, the lesson of September the 11th is that when this nation sees a threat, a gathering threat, we got to deal with it. We can no longer hope that oceans protect us from harm. Every threat we must take seriously.

Saddam Hussein was a threat. He was a threat because he had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people. He was a threat because he coddled terrorists. He was a threat because he funded suiciders. He was a threat to the region. He was a threat to the United States.

That's the assessment that I made from the intelligence, the assessment that Congress made from the intelligence. That's the exact same assessment that the United Nations Security Council made with the intelligence.

I went to the U.N., as you might recall, and said, either you take care of him, or we will. Any time an American president says, if you don't, we will, we better be prepared to. And I was prepared to.

Did he answer the question? Not one little bit. To me, it is arrogance to simply fail to answer someone's question then go off on a riff and talk about something else entirely. I would certainly be offended if a boss, a coworker, a student did the same. Why didn't the "liberal press" hold him accountable to answering questions?

Because they are not a liberal press, or maybe they are just bad at their jobs.

Regardless of the press role, Bush shows again his lack of accountability. Or maybe he just didn't understand the question, can't hold a train of thought together long enough to answer the actual question? That's the worrying part. We may have someone in the White House who actually doesn't understand the questions put to him.

Incidently, when they panned to Dick Cheney during the Press Conference I didn't see Dick's lips move once. At least that was impressive.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The Inferno

And since I'm in such a good mood...

Dante's welcoming phrase inscribed on the Gates of Hell:

"Through me the way into the city of woe,
Through me the way to eternal pain,
Through me the way among the lost...
Abandon all hope, you who enter here."

Anybody want to make a board game out of this? We could make a gagillion dollars. ;-) Somebody else who thinks the way I sometimes think is here: abandon all hope

Come on. Cheer me up. Rally round the flag. I double dare you.

While Our Troops Remain on Iraq's Streets There is no Hope

...from Common Dreams and Jonathan Steele:
"One thing is even clearer at the end of the heaviest week of American casualties in Iraq since the invasion was launched. The current combat is nothing to do with Saddam Hussein. His hollow regime did not have the muscle or the loyalty to summon up the urban guerrilla resistance that we have seen over the past seven days. His conscript army split and ran."Tell me again how great it is that the US military did what it did, and the grand and glorious US of A is securing the blessings of liberty in the Middle East.

Addendum (5:52 PM PDT) : I keep thinking about this and thinking about this...

How is it that the world community stands by and watches all this happen in Iraq...? In my little corner of the world we try to fix what doesn't work. How come nobody's fixing this?

Don't answer that. I don't wanna know. My mom used to push the "ignorance is bliss thing". I scoffed for a long time. I'm not so sure any more.

Snakes. I grew up in a place with Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes... I've not outgrown my fear of them, nor the impulse to see them everywhere.


Will Bush Own Up?

From the Washington Post, believe it or not...

Will Bush Own Up?

And of course the answer is, "of course not".

They're not really evil! BS.

I've been tired of it for months and months... years, really. They've said it. We didn't know back then. We didn't even think it, and they are lying. I knew it from day one when I saw the early footage. Condi the reptile confirmed that what I knew I did really know. I'm tired of the lies. I'm also tired of the opponents putting best construction on the lies. They knew. They are lying. We could use a graphic with a snake with forked tongues here.

My tinfoil link: StandDown

At the risk of making this Blog a bit self-reflexive. . . Why Not?

I need to comment about something Richard commented about last night. Of course his comments often inspire me, yadda, yadda, but in this case Richard's words have been running through my head all morning, even while class.
This is exactly what I don't understand. Monkey boy's admin has had multiple opportunities to do mea culpa's -- yet chooses to invoke an aura of righteousness and invicibility. For cripes sake, if we've learned nothing as Americans, it's that we have a capacity to forgive and move on. Ergo, Bill Clinton's success.

I've had many, many years in organizational management and found a relatively easy solution to problems of my own making (even when I didn't really cause the problem). A simple "I'm sorry, I fucked up, I'll learn from it, and try to make ammends" would probably win the election for George W. Bush.

But it will never happen. And you have to ask, "why not?".
Richard Cranium
Well, the "monkeyboy" phrase might be over the top, but the point Richard makes here is strong. The Bush Administration simply will not take blame or even fault unto itself. They profess family values, and one of those values involves instilling conscience in children, and ownership of their actions. They profess religious values, and we're only a couple days past the Passion of the Christ season where being accountable for sin is stressed. So why does the Bush Administration use the strategy of either either denying responsibility or outright attacks on others, as was the case with how they handled Richard Clarke's critique?

In class while trying with my students to understand what the King Arthur myths meant to people struggling through the dark ages it occurs to me that the entire fall of Camelot came about because of hubris and a lack of recognition of what it was to be human, to sin. The Bush Administration, while it never will be seen as so legendary, takes part in a similar sort of collective hubris in not even recognizing its own failures. The DPB to them really isn't a warning, really is just historical information, because recognition that they make mistakes really does tear apart that illusion of "righteousness and invisibility" Richard correctly points us to.

We little guys have a hand in it all now. We don't have to wait for the Holy Grail, because we electors are it! BushCorp may in fact think they are chosen by God, though I have yet to see someone invoke the Divine Right of Presidents.

As a final word, it was Thomas Hobbes who most vociferously defended the Divine Right of Kings in Leviathan, and Thomas Friedman rightly uses Hobbes' catchphrase "nasty, brutish and short" as the title of yesterday's New York Times Column. Friedman discusses several actions Mr. Bush will have to take to escape the quagmire of Iraq, and probably his historical place as a bumbler. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush is both unable and unwilling to do anything that could be construed as pointing to a mistake he made. I have little faith BushCorp will listen.

Monday, April 12, 2004

The key to the Iraq issue for Kerry

Keep saying we need international support, but say nothing about what happened before 9/11. I think Bush will be able to hang himself there. I especially like the take the New York Times Editorial Board has in today's paper.
Over the last few weeks we have heard lawmakers and officials from two administrations talk about their feelings of responsibility, about how they compulsively re-examine the events leading up to 9/ll, asking themselves whether they could have done anything to avert the terrible disaster that day. It is beginning to seem that the only person free of that kind of self-examination is the man who was chief executive when the attacks occurred.It must be stressed that the Times does not blame the Bush Administration for 9/11, but blames them for lack of earnest self-examination. I suspect many Americans will come to blame the White House for that lack as time goes on and events such as the description of the August 6 memo as "history" continue to pile up.

The Times advice to him is both sound and nonpartisan:
Mr. Bush needs to speak out fully in public, both about 9/11 and about Iraq. He is chief executive of a country that once trusted him to lead in perilous times. The public supported his decision to go to war in the Middle East because most Americans believed his judgment was sound. That kind of faith is not just what he needs to win an election in November. It is what he needs to run the country, and he is in grave danger of losing it. Neither administration officials nor political advisers nor the White House spin team can hold on to the country's ebbing confidence.They clearly hope for a united America, and this cannot happen without the President coming forward and speaking. The thing is, this President has no public presence for those kinds of actions. My own feeling is that the waters are already poisoned for him.

But Kerry should not mention anything about what happened pre-9/11. Let the focus remain on the White House of No Shame.

Parental Control

Let's play a little game. Instead of say, al-Qaeda, let's pretend the 8/6/01 PDB was a note to G.W. Bush, as a parent of two daughters who have been known to, eh, go off the reservation every now and then. Would the PDB (Parent Daily Briefing) have had more of an impact on monkey boy? From Corrente:
Let's play a little word substitution game (original here):

The document, entitled "Drug Dealers Determined to Saturate Crawford" ... said the Texas Rangers had detected "patterns of suspicious activity in Crawford consistent with preparations for dealing Xanax and other prescription drugs, including recent surveillance of clubs and bars in Crawford, Austin, and Waco."

Now, we know about about the proclivities of the Bush twins (a picture should be here, but I can't bring myself to post it).

And so does Bush.

So, faced with this report, what does Bush do? Take a nap, or maybe shake the tree a little? Maybe call the twins in, and ask them about their party plans for the next few evenings? Oh, there's that word... Plan... What was I thinking?
Happy news conference tomorrow, Mr. pResident*.

As April 15th Draws Near...

Here's an interesting tidbit to consider as you sweat the 1040 this week: IRS audits of individuals are up, IRS audits of businesses are down. I'd say I don't understand the logic, but I do...

Sunday, April 11, 2004

New Bush Campaign Manager?

Back in action and fit from all that weight training in his last postion, it looks like this guy is ready to take over the Bush campaign:
David Duke out of prison, at halfway house
The Associated Press
April 9, 2004

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke left a federal prison in Texas and is staying at a halfway house in Baton Rouge, his spokesman said.

He was released from prison in Big Spring, Texas, on Thursday and took a Greyhound bus to a Baton Rouge halfway house, Duke spokesman Roy Armstrong said.
Armstrong said Duke will get a job in the next week. Duke is due for release from the halfway house on May 15, he said.

Duke, a former state representative, turned himself in at Big Spring in April 2003 after he was sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined $10,000 for bilking his supporters and cheating on his taxes. After completing his sentence, Duke was scheduled to have two years of supervised release.

In a plea bargain, Duke pleaded guilty to falsely reporting a gross income of $18,831 in 1998, rather than the actual $65,034, and to bilking supporters.

The mail fraud charge stemmed from what prosecutors described as a six-year scheme between 1993 and 1999 to swindle thousands of followers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through a direct mail campaign.
No comment needed. Running for the dental floss now.

New Action Figure Set for Wal-Mart Debut?

I'm betting the marketing geniuses from Beltonville could rack this next to the GI Joe's and the George Bush Flight Suit Carrier Landing action figures...see if you can pick out what I'm talking about (hint: it's not an action figure of Col. Byrne):
...Kimmitt warned that if talks between city leaders and members of the Iraqi Governing Council failed, the military would consider renewing its assault on Fallujah. Marine commanders were skeptical negotiations would succeed.

"The prospect of some city father walking in and making 'Joe Jihadi' give himself up are pretty slim," said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Batallion, 5th Marine Regiment.

"What is coming is the destruction of anti-coalition forces in Fallujah ... they have two choices: Submit or die," he told reporters.
Think Mattel can get a "Joe Jihadi" line of toys out in time for Sovereignty Day?

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Two Points about the War Today

First there is the New York Times which weighs in with a report about military families of the 101st Airborne and how they are taking the war. A couple excerpts from the full story
NY Times Story move me a bit, and also might be a good sign for Kerry.
But talk to members of military families in the parking lot next door, and the emotions are a good deal more complex. Samie Drown, 28, voted for George W. Bush in 2000, and she was stoic and supportive when her husband, a member of the Army's elite 101st Airborne Division, was secretly shipped off to Iraq with less than a week's notice last year. Mrs. Drown took care of their four young children as the 101st led United States troops into Baghdad.

But now, with the occupation dragging on and casualties mounting week by week, she says she feels her views shifting. And not just about the war, but about the president who sent her husband to Iraq.

"This has completely changed my view of the administration," said Mrs. Drown, wearing an American flag T-shirt and sunglasses. "My husband is a soldier and his job is to fight for freedom. But after so many months and so many deaths, no one has shown us any weapons of mass destruction or given us an explanation.

"So a lot of military wives are now asking: `Why? Why did we go to Iraq?' The administration talked a strong story, but a lot of us are kicking our butts about how we voted last time around. Now we're leaning the other way."
I am not shocked that her focus is WMD, but I'm shocked she spoke about this to a reporter. Around my way the military appears to be all one voice, and all in support of the troops and the war, but we're hearing those related to the troops starting to rebel. For a wife of a soldier to speak out like that has got to be encouraging to Kerry. Around here, the reactions against Bush are more likely to come from more distant relatives, like here:
Brittany Wood, 19, whose stepfather has spent most of the past 18 months in Iraq, said she was a Bush supporter a year ago. Though she still "loves the President, since he's serving his country," she said she would vote for Mr. Kerry this fall.

"I was glad we were doing this because we need to help other countries fight for freedom, but now lots of people feel there's been a cover-up and it is a lie and we were not told the real reasons for being in Iraq," Ms. Wood said. "That is making a lot of soldiers and their families think about voting. And for the first time they're thinking about voting Democratic."

Part of the ambivalence about the war and the election is driven by the personal hardship endured by families here, as parents and spouses are far away. Ms. Wood, a university student, helps her grandmother run an on-base day care center. "Now you have kids growing up without mothers," she said.
Encouraging stuff. I'm sure Bush supporters will be quick to call these family members of servicemen traitors.

Friday, April 09, 2004

The First Casualty of War

One thing that's disturbing me about the situation in Iraq is the almost complete lack of news coming from the country. On Wednesday night, I was watching "Countdown" on MSNBC, and Keith Oberman was talking by phone with a Newsweek reporter in Baghdad. The reporter was extremely tentative speaking with Oberman, obviously distraught, and it was clear she was choosing her words very carefully.

While the specifics of her report two days ago are now pretty much unimportant, given the rapidly changing situation in Iraq, one thing was clear: all "green zone" hotels (where most journalists stay) were locked down. Reporters were not being allowed outside the hotels, and inflow / outflow of information was being closely monitored. The Newsweek reporter was staying at a private residence outside of the green zone, and she did not feel it safe to even venture outside of the residence.

This morning, I was watching Fox News during breakfast, which carried a live feed from one of their reporters in Baghdad. The report was filed from what was obviously a hotel balcony in the "green zone", and the Fox reporter appeared to be a bit tentative and nervous. Toward the end of his report, he did manage to slip in that a U.S. convoy traveling between Baghdad and Fallujah had come under fire, and early reports indicated significant casualties.

A couple of days ago, I lamented the dearth of factual reporting coming from Iraq. In the subsequent few days, the dearth of factual reporting has deteriorated to the point of no reporting at all from domestic U.S. media. Yeah, they're still regurgitating CPA press releases, but that's about it. Here's an example from this morning: a few hours ago, press reports indicated that Proconsul Paul Bremer had suspended military operations in Fallujah. That apparently came as a surprise to his "boots on the ground", Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt:
"There is no brokered agreement for a ceasefire in Falluja," Kimmitt told AFP. "There is no agreement between the rebels and the coalition forces."Then, less than an hour later, apparently Bremer and Kimmitt got on the same page:
"We suspended unilaterally the operation at 12 noon (0800 GMT). My understanding is that the suspension is still in effect," the US general told US-based network CNN on Friday.Read those words: "my understanding...". For chrissakes, this is coming from the CPA's Deputy Director of Operations. He better damn well understand - and should have from the get go! And then, mere moments later, comes this:
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Chaos spread in Iraq (news - web sites) on the first anniversary of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s ouster as US forces resumed their offensive in the besieged town of Fallujah...

"The suspension of offensive operations lasted for 90 minutes but it is over," said Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne, a battalion commander, adding that planned mediation talks with local tribal sheikhs had never happened.

Moments earlier, the coalition's deputy director of military operations, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, had denied that there was any formal ceasefire agreement with the rebels.

Yet the Iraqi Islamic Party said in a statement obtained by AFP that an agreement had been reached with the coalition for a 24-hour ceasefire in Fallujah from midday.
Is it any wonder why Americans are absolutely confused about what's happening in Iraq? At the end of the day, it's all about spin and the re-election campaign of vacationing George W. Bush. During the height of conflict in WWI, in a 1917 address on the Senate floor, Senator Hiram Johnson opined that "the first casualty when war comes is the truth." In the age of instant information, I don't think Sen. Johnson could have realized how right he was, even in his wildest dreams.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Here's someone who has got it right

The Kerry campaign should send Ted Kennedy to all sorts of places where the Democratic core gathers to give this speech time and time again. Let Ted prime the base of the party and allow Kerry to go for the center.

This is the entire text of Kennedy's speech back on April 5, and it trims the shrub to a twig. I particularly like his words on No Child Left Behind:
With this President Bush we quickly agreed to the two key principles that became the basis for the No Child Left Behind Act-- resources and reform. We would use increased resources to carry out reforms that would provide a better education for all of the nation’s students. Resources for reform. At a press conference on January 23rd, 2001, three days after the inauguration, President Bush had said “many of our schools, particularly low-income schools, will need help in the transition to higher standards.”

On February 27th, 2001, in an address to a Joint Session of Congress, the President told the nation that “Funding is important and so is reform. So we must tie funding to higher standards and accountability for results. Schools will be given a reasonable chance to improve and the support to do so.”

Over the course of several months of hearings, markups, debates, and negotiations, we agreed on a series of proven, bipartisan reforms: higher standards for all students, well-trained teachers, smaller class sizes, supplemental services after school, periodic tests to see that all students are making progress, and accountability for results. After long and hard negotiations, we also agreed on the specific level of resources necessary to carry out those reforms.

The country has seen that promise flagrantly broken. In 2002, less than a month after signing the bill into law with great fanfare, President Bush quietly proposed to cut funds for the No Child Left Behind Act by 90 million dollars.

His next education budget, in 2003, cut funding for the reforms by far more – 1.2 billion dollars. Believing his political ticket already had been adequately punched on education, President Bush tried to drop over half a million children from after-school programs.

He eliminated funds for training teachers in technology, for dropout prevention, for gifted and talented children, for school counselors, for rural education, and for additional assistance to small schools. He’s never even proposed a penny for the school improvement program to help low-performing schools turn around.

The most recent Bush education budget leaves over 4.6 million children behind – a number even the Administration cannot dispute.

At the very time the President was breaking his promise to the nation’s public school children, he also tried to divert over 4 billion dollars in education funds to private schools.

The President gave tax breaks to the top one percent of Americans that this year total five times the funds promised but never delivered for the No Child Left Behind Act.
I know that's a heck of a long quotation, but each and every fact is so vital to showing the Bush record of lies and failure to live up to promises.

An, you know, I'm beginning to like Ted again. It's been a long time.

ATTN Mr. Tenet - Clue on Aisle 3!

Think George is paying attention? Or is al-Jazeera network facilitating Osama slipping out the back door in another direction?

Either way, interesting...
Bin Laden attempts to head to Yemen
Al-Jazeera - 08/04/2004 09:45:00 GMT

Osama Bin Laden is attempting to enter the Arabic Gulf state of Yemen by means of a sea vessel which his team hope to board along the coast of Pakistan. Al Jazeera were told by local villagers that two attempts to board vessels have failed due to increased security around the coastal region of Pakistan.

Ongoing Discussion of Condi Rice Testimony...

You can either discuss on this thread, or follow another discussion Here.

I'll try and offer my comments a bit later.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

GOP PAC scandals

Well, that isn't quite right. By PAC rules, there are no rules on what a PAC spends its money on, but when the PAC specifically says what it intends. . .
When Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Tex.) took charge of an independent political fund called American Dream PAC in 1999, he made clear that its mission was "to give significant, direct financial assistance to first-rate minority GOP candidates."Republicans supporting minority candidates? As a Democrat I am sorely tempted to make a crack here, but they've had a few. J. C. Watts is one, and I usually refrain from criticizing former University of Oklahoma quarterbacks. Too bad both he and Jack Mildren turned out to be Republicans, though. But back to the subject at hand. Hardly any money got to GOP minority candidates.
Since then, only $48,750 -- or 8.9 percent -- of the $547,000 the southwest Texas congressman has raised for his political action committee has gone to minority office-seekers while more than $100,000 has been routed to Republican Party organizations or causes, including a GOP redistricting effort in Texas, a legal defense fund for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and Bonilla's reelection campaign. Most of the remainder of the money went to legal fees, fundraisers in Miami and other cities, airline tickets, hotels, catering services, consultants and salaries. The whole shameless storyI love that the funds went into a legal defense fund for Tom DeLay. He's going to need it, what with his charity supposedly benefiting kids that hasn't donated a dime to them yet but has paid for parties for BIG donors to Bushie supporters. DeLay's shameless scheme

These Republicans have been complaining about, yet here we have two scandals that are shameless exploitations of minorities and kids. At least is up front with its politics.

Spit three times and turn in a circle. Rinse.

Deeper into the Mouth of Hell

Senator Robert Byrd made a stunning speech on the floor of the Senate today. Here's a short excerpt:
As I watch events unfold in Iraq, I cannot help but be reminded of another battle at another place and another time that hurtled more than 600 soldiers into the maws of death because of a foolish decision on the part of their commander. The occasion was the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1864, during the Crimean War, a battle that was immortalized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in his poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Tennyson got it right -- someone had blundered. It is time we faced up to the fact that this President and his administration blundered as well when they took the nation into war with Iraq without compelling reason, without broad international or even regional support, and without a plan for dealing with the enormous post-war security and reconstruction challenges posed by Iraq. And it is our soldiers, our own 600 and more, who are paying the price for that blunder.
The entire speech is a masterpiece, and should be required reading, as the price of admission, for all registered voters as they enter the polls this November.


The last 24 hours have been an emotional ride for me. It's no secret that I've opposed the action in Iraq since the Bush administration started publicly beating the war drums back in early 2002. One of my ongoing frustrations is with the notion, put forth by the neocon side of the world wide web, that the liberal cult (to which I apparently belong) secretly does a little dance as the casualty count soars. Ostensibly, we do this little jig because it somehow validates our opposition to the ill-directed bloodbath.

I can only speak for myself. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a veteran, I cringe with each click of the casualty meter, because I feel in my heart that this country was misled into the entire Iraq experience. Each groundpounder killed or wounded in Iraq represents a young adult life that was just taking flight. While it is true that (to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld) war is an untidy business, an illegitimate war that continues to send scores of young Americans home in "transfer tubes" or hopelessly maimed is simply criminal. The bottom line is that I don't need the unnecessary deaths of young men and women as some morbid vindication of my personal viewpoints.

Two points of frustration continue to nag at me:
  1. The absolute and total capitulation of the mainstream U.S. media to the hammerlock control of information being imposed by the military and Coalition Provisional Authority.

    There is simply too wide of a discrepancy between what the CPA releases / media reports than what the "back doors" to in-country information provide us. By "back doors", what I mean are reports from overseas media, direct input from folks actually blogging in Iraq, beltway insider leaks to selected websites, and other communication means. The disparity between the media reports and the back door information is so wide that it's almost unbelievable. I like to think I'm a discerning reader, and that I can separate the wheat from the chaff on both sides, but it's getting harder and harder. However, it's clear that I can no longer take CPA press releases plastered with happy face stickers as indicative of any sense of reality in Iraq.

  2. The pandering nature of neocon talk radio and the brainless morons that participate in the maelstrom of bloodlust for vengence.

    Yesterday evening, I was sitting in my car waiting for my wife to finish supporting the rebounding economy, and was flipping around the radio dial. I stopped on a station that was carrying Michael Savage's show. Now, I realize that Savage is somewhat to the right of Rush Limbaugh, but for chrissakes I just wanted to punch through the dashboard of my car listening to the simplistic shit that was spewing out of his and his listener's mouths. I swear that there was a collective IQ in single digits being displayed.

    Conservative talk radio has morphed the mercenaries in Fallujah into servicemen, and then whipped the frothing masses into even more froth (if that's possible). They're making a theologically impossible linkage between al-Sadr and the Sunni uprisings. And instead of being taken aback by the river of blood that's developed, they want more blood to flow - as long as it's only brown blood, of course.

    Listening to Savage, I came away with the distinct impression that there's an eye-for-an-eye (or probably more correctly, thousand-eyes-for-an-eye) culture that's developed in America which is downright scary in its intensity. At some point, the ringmasters (Savage, Hannity, Limbaugh) have to be held accountable and take responsibility for their very real complicity in this mess.

If the fog of war has muddied the waters of understanding developments in Iraq (as would probably be expected), the countermeasures of re-election propaganda have rendered a true understanding all but impossible. I'm not even sure that historians will be able to sort through the tanglement of conflicting information and make any sense of it fifty years from now.

To close the circle, then, I can assure you that absolutely no American I know "celebrates" the needless death of GI's in Iraq. On the contrary, we mourn them as some mother's son / daughter rather than as so much collateral damage in an untidy war.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Let's Recruit Gay Workers

In a column today in the Orlando Sentinel, Mike Thomas talks about the value of respecting diversity, particularly gays. Mike Thomas's column (needs registration) Orlando is in the bidding war for a new office of EA Entertainment, the makers of all those cool cutting edge video games. We're talking 775 jobs at $80,000 per year, and any city would want to have that. Thomas spelling out the irony of Orlando embracing gay culture:
If Electronics Arts moves here and finds the area is a successful lure for the creative workers it covets, then other companies that also rely on these workers will take notice. How ironic it would be if the gay presence here, despised by so many from "Old Orlando," led the transformation to a "New Orlando."

Electronics Arts holds the promise of 775 jobs paying $80,000 a year. Imagine if that's just the beginning.
The irony he points to is the furor over the years that springs from this relatively conservative town when events like Pride Week at Disney happen, or the public outrage at gay-friendly employers like the resort hotels and the theme parks and airlines. The economy has changed the attitudes of Floridians over the years at least around Orlando, to the point where this area is likely to be a big battleground in the coming election. It is encouraging to see that other industries besides travel and tourism are almost demanding localities that encourage diversity, even of sexual oreientation.

Thomas notes the research of Richard Florida of Carnegie Mellon, who has identified a segment of the population he calls the "creative class." Washington Monthly article about the Creative Class or Creative class dot org It all makes for fascinating reading. This Democrat, for one, is happy to see that the market for workers might be the most promising way to influence people on this issue than any number of protests.

I'm even more pleased because this is what I view as a trend, and the haters of the Republican right may be on their way out towards marginalization if this trend continues. Give it ten years.

Credibility Gap

I don't normally steal ideas or stories from other blogs, but this keeper from Atrios was too good to pass up. Ted Kennedy may be the best friend John Kerry can find. What's the over/under on Rove, Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of BushCo) kicking up some Chappaquidick spray?

In a takeoff on the theme shown at the top of this blog, from Reuters:
...He also accused the administration of having knowingly sold an unsound tax-cutting economic plan that resulted in the loss of millions of jobs, a faulty Medicare prescription drug law that will cost far more than it acknowledged when the measure won final congressional passage late last year and an education program that Kennedy said Bush has refused to adequately fund.

..."They repeatedly invent 'facts' to support their preconceived agenda -- facts which administration officials knew or should have known were not true," Kennedy said.

..."Iraq. Jobs. Medicare. Schools," Kennedy said. "Issue after issue. Mislead. Deceive. Make up the needed facts. Smear the character of any critic."

..."It is undermining our national security, undermining our economy, undermining our health care ... undermining our very democracy," Kennedy said. "We need change. November can't come soon enough."
Teddy to monkey boy: "I just calls 'em as I sees 'em. Now, pour me another single malt, neat."

If Kerry ascends the mountain, it will be because Ted Kennedy carried him at least part of the way over the roughest terrain.

This Just In from Bizzaro World...

From everything I've read and heard, General Pervez Musharraf's tenuous hold on Pakistan is just that - tenuous. A tinder here, a spark there, and Pakistan is a firecoup waiting to happen. The last thing in the world the world needs right now is a Taliban supporting, fundamentalist overthrow of the Pakistani government.

And Pakistani government opposition has indicated that's just what will happen if Musharraf allows U.S. troops to roam inside of Pakistan's borders searching for Osama. So, now the Bush Administration is getting bellicose with Pakistan again - basically, laying down the gauntlet.

Maybe it's just me, but I think we have enough gauntlets in the fire right now, if you know what I mean (so sue me - I felt like mixing my metaphors).

From Voice of America:
Pakistan officials are angrily rejecting criticism by the US ambassador to Afghanistan about Islamabad's anti-terror efforts reports from the Pakistani capital.

US ambassador to Kabul, Zalmay Khalizad, charges that members of the ousted Taleban government and other "hostile groups" are using sanctuaries in Pakistan to create instability in Afghanistan.

In speech in Washington on Monday, he warned that Islamabad must eliminate these forces or the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition might send its troops to destroy them...
Update: God, what a pack of weasels...
"Factually, it's true that Pakistan has made a good effort in Waziristan. And as I said before, we applaud them for that, and because Pakistani soldiers died in that operation. So that's positive. But the job is not finished yet, and I don't think the Pakistanis will say the job is done," he said.

Stop Loss

At some point last year, concerned about losing armed forces personnel (active and reserve) as enlistments lapsed, Donald Rumsfeld issued a "stop loss" order. What this did, in effect, was prevent those enlistments from ending as scheduled. Servicemen and women couldn't leave the service if they wanted to. I've been there - it's called "extended at and for the convenience of the government".

Late developments will most certainly not help retention rates going forward:
Pentagon delays U.S. troops' trip home
By Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A decision by the Pentagon to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is a reversal of its plan to steadily reduce the U.S. force level there.

Since the war began a year ago, senior military leaders have given frequent assurances to troops and their families that Iraq duty would be no longer than a year.

Now, those assurances have met the reality of Iraq, where military leaders are planning for the possibility that anti-U.S. violence will spread. U.S. troops are stretched thin around the world, and the Pentagon has few options to increase the force in Iraq if necessary.

On Monday, a senior official with U.S. Central Command said that the return home of about 24,000 U.S. troops who were scheduled to leave in the next few weeks would be delayed as their replacements arrive. Central Command's responsibility includes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With the 24,000 remaining and others who have arrived as intended replacements, there are 134,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

The senior official spoke to reporters at the Pentagon by phone from Central Command in Tampa. He gave the briefing on the condition that he not be identified.
No one in the service is going to be happy about this development. I certainly wouldn't want to be either a military recruiter or retention officer whose next personnel evaluation, bonus, or raise rested on my ability to fill my quotas over the next few years.