Monday, February 28, 2005

Rebuilding The Foundation

In the last week or so there has been an ongoing conversation between the ASZ'ers and Public Org Theory about the direction of left blogistan and how to best use the resources, talents and energy to facilitate real change in this country and the Democratic party.

This morning, while visiting one of my favorite stops in left blogistan, I came across something called Blog Call.

BlogCall is a regular conference call hosted by progressive and Democratic "bloggers" do discuss exposes of Republican and rightwing crimes and scandals that deserve national media attention. We invite mainstream journalists to participate fully in each BlogCall.

Each BlogCall features a progressive or Democratic "blogger" who has broken a major expose. The format is a virtual press conference, in which the featured "blogger" will present his/her story for 15 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A about the story.

Brad Friedman of The BradBlog will be talking about the Curtis/Feeney/Yang vote-rigging scandal on March 8 at the next BlogCall. The first BlogCall featured John Aravosis of and the Gannon/Guckert White House 'Ho scandal.

While a vigilant, free and open media plays one part in a healthy democracy, the right to vote and have that vote counted is the cornerstone. With the corporatization of our country the right to a fair and transparent vote has been traded away in exchange for immediacy. Having a secret ballot no longer means being able to cast your ballot without fear of recriminations. A secret ballot has morphed into casting your ballot and not being sure if it is counted or if it is counted as you cast it. Technology and the corporations that have brought it have turned your secret ballot into their secret by claiming "trade secrets" and "proprietary information" when asked to open up the voting machine source code for examination and verification by outside, impartial experts.

Velvet Revolution's "Divestiture for Democracy" is challenging the e-voting companies to do the patriotic thing.

On February 21, 2005 (President's Day), Velvet Revolution sent a letter to each of the nine major American Voting Machine companies -- (Advanced Voting Solutions, Diebold, Danaher-Guardian, Election Systems & Software [ES&S], HartInterCivic, MicroVote, Sequoia Voting Systems, Triad GSI and UniLect Corp) -- asking them to do the right thing for our country!

In short, our letter gives the companies 60 days to take the following patriotic actions: (See the letter we sent them in full and our official statement for more details!)
  • Voluntarily open their hardware and software for independent public inspection and analysis.
  • Provide auditable, voter-verified paper ballots for all votes cast.
  • Assure that there can be no form of networking on their machines.
  • Allow for non-partisan, independent monitors of the vote tabulation process.
  • Institute a corporate policy prohibiting the company and all of its executives from supporting candidates for public office or political action groups.
  • Disclose all data, codes and records from the last three national elections, if requested.
  • Adopt all feasible best practices suggested by a national committee of experts.
  • Do all of the above at no extra cost to their governmental clients with which they work.

If there is any hope in reclaiming/rebuilding a democracy in this country liberating the media and our votes from corporate and party control are battles we can't afford to lose and can't afford to sit out.

USA Next is Going to be Sued

It's all over the place. The gay couple in the USA Next anti-AARP advertisement is thinking of suing USANext. DailyKos started it, according to AmericaBlog, but John Aravosis at AmericaBlog is taking this one to town. The lawyer sent this letter to USANext on behalf of Richard Raymen and Steven Hansen, the couple in the advertisement. Crooksandliars is on the story, and this one is getting ready to explode. I'll bet 30 more blogs will pick up the story in the next couple hours.

The lawyer the Raymen and Hansen have hired is Christopher Wolf of the Proskauer Rose law firm. Big firm and quite the powerful lawyer. I see this as more than just posturing. You don't get a big gun like Wolf just to make USANext back off. They're definitely hunting bigger game.

Lynn Swann, Pennsylvania governor

As a Republican? He's announced the formation of a campaign committee. You can find a biography at, which appears to be the folks who arrange his speaking engagements for upwards of $50,000 per.

Well, first, he's got a woman's name, and that's going to play poorly in the "Alabama" part of the state, where voting for a woman is not something men do well, and those men who do recognize the "Lynn Swann" name as that of a former football star will remember that he's black. Yeah, the "Alabama" part of Pennsylvania is pretty backwards. Second, he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and as Out of Context comments, he'd have to have played for the Eagles to have a real chance.

Finally, Lynn Swann was two years late to witness the immaculate reception. And even that play would be tainted, at least in Republican minds, because it involved both John "Frenchie" Fuqua and Franco Harris. Lynn Swann's relation to these obvious Frenchmen will be his candidacy's demise. Of course, even with that huge name recognition, Swann is trailing Fast Eddie by 16 points.

Hate in America: Can we Blame Republicans

I think this is a bit of a sticky issue. I'm called to it by Pam's House Blend, a blog that describes itself as "American. Female. Lesbian. Ethnically diverse. Opinionated. Proud member of the Reality-Based Community." Yup, Pam's got an agenda, but if she's biased I'll drink that koolaid. She alerts us to Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church's latest "action," where they will protest a speaking engagement by John Edwards by attacking Mr. Edwards dead son. Here's the flier for the event. (Maybe we can raise the traffic over there at Westboro and hurt them by raising their internet bills?)

There is, of course, no question that Phelps and his crew are the scum of the earth and a disgrace even to a Republican that employed hate in attacking gays and lesbians. Phelps and his crew are famous for protesting the death of Matthew Sheppard, for instance, with their insistence on erecting a "memorial." They even protest at other churches, and often, with the most recent such protest yesterday at Reverend Terry Fox's Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita. It seems Fox agreed publicly with something Tiffany Muller, Kansas' only out public official said, and thus he has earned the wrath of Westboro.

The issue here isn't that Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are easily the scummiest and most venal group in America. I'm curious more about what responsibility the Republican Party has in condemning this sick behavior. They certainly were forced to denounce David Duke many, many years ago. This group is easily as sick and destructive to the America as Duke's KKK, so why do we not hear anything from the Republicans about Westboro, which seemingly is doing its dirty work for them (of course, they haven't shrunk from dirty work much in recent years -- is that the real answer to my question?).

Bob Dole is from Kansas. Why doesn't he speak out? Sam Brownback (email form), why don't you speak out against hate so ugly and obvious? Pat Roberts (email form), as Senator you have an opportunity to stand up for true family values, why don't you do so? Is it really so risky to stand up against this filth that these Republicans fear doing it?

Are Republican values so shallow that these guys can't even speak out against such evil in their own state, or do they seriously think, through some sort of electoral calculus, that it would cost them votes to take on Fred Phelps? If the latter is the case, then the Republicans are further out in Right Field with the Right Wing Ding Christian Clerics than I thought.

Is It a Quagmire Yet?

Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 106 110 115 in Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide car bomber blew himself up Monday in a crowd of police and Iraqi National Guard recruits south of Baghdad, killing at least 106 110 115 and wounding 133 148, police and witnesses said.


(Photo Credits: Reuters; click on pictures for story.)

This Is Your Brain on Drugs

What is it about the middle of the night that makes my mind hum? It's a great and seductive mystery to me.

I found these for you. Lights in the darkness. Darkness in the darkness. Enjoy, I think.

Hunter Thompson, The Derby Post 1970.

Informant Society

Indigent Makes Legal Mark

Air Jesus: With The Evangelical Air Force

This Is Your Brain on Drugs.

I'm not kidding. Just "light in my head, and dead on my feet". ;-)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Assclownism as Art

I'm all about a good laugh -- especially when it comes at the expense of no-talent assclowns. Let me correct that. I don't want to paint no-talent assclowns with the same broad brush as James Guckert. Our boy JimmyJeff's escapades transcend assclownism. He has fallen to heretofore unseen assclownish depths, which absolutely assures he rates a unique brand of brush all to himself.

So anyway, I'm doing a bit of freerange blog surfing of the ASZ blogroll, and I run into a posting at Rubber Hose, which in turn directed me to a fabulous parody of JimmyJeff's current journalistic endeavor. For full frontal impact, you need to:

1) Take a look at Guckert's real blog,

2) Then, read the parody site.

I promise, you'll get an evening full of bellylaughs - and that's before you even click through to the parody site.

Guckert's one of those kind of guys who really should seriously consider quitting while he's giving head ahead. I think he's going to find out who his real friends are now.

From the "Coincidence Files"

Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action.'

--Ian Fleming, Goldfinger (1959) ch. 14

I have two stories to discuss this morning, neither of which is receiving much oxygen from the left. So I'll try to do a bit of CPR.

Last week, the New York Times revealed that a 32 member FDA oversight panel which determined the market fate of Celebrex, Bextra, and Vioxx (Cox-2 class pain relievers for arthritis, linked to heart and stroke problems) was stacked with no less than 10 advisers who had direct links to the pharmaceutical companies which make the drugs. Unsurprisingly, the panel endorsed a return all three drugs to the market. Also unsurprisingly:

...If the 10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market. The 10 advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep Bextra on the market and 9 to 1 for Vioxx's return.

And in more unsurprising news...

NEW YORK, February 21 ( – The share price of Merck & Company (MRK.NYS) closed with a 13% gain on Friday, on the news of a possible re-launch of the company's blockbuster arthritis drug, Vioxx.

A cynic might suggest that if one were able to examine the stock portfolios of the Vioxx 10, said portfolios would contain many shares of Merck and Pfizer (which suffered a similar rebound in stock price...). Here's why the stock rebounded. It had nothing to do with the safety (or not) of these Cox-2 inhibitors, because it's unlikely that either Vioxx or Celebrex will make a splashy return to the market. Some say the stock rebound had everything to do with a defense strategy, articulated in the form of the positive FDA panel ruling, against pending litigation targeted at both companies for ignoring or suppressing trial data.

In still other unsurprising news from the Land of Nod, comes this report on the dumping of stock by ChoicePoint insiders after the breadth of their information loss scandal became clear last year, but before reports of the security breach hit the news this year:

ATLANTA Feb 25, 2005 — ChoicePoint Inc.'s top two executives made a combined $16.6 million in profit from selling company shares in the months after the data warehouser learned that people's personal information may have been compromised and before the breach was made public, regulatory filings show...

Shades of Enron (and a tip of the hat to ASZ reader Uncle $cam for the heads up).

These folks don't even bother to hide the hubris anymore. This is the corporate culture that the Bush administration has embraced since its first days in office. Speaking of Enron, anyone heard from Ken Lay recently?

Just askin'.

Anyway, I'm reading a book right now, Unequal Protection - The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights, by Thom Hartmann, which was so kindly given to me by Eligere from Noblesse Oblog. It's quite eye opening and highly recommended for anyone interested (as we all should be) in the culture of corporate malfeasance and the death of democracy.

The Picture of Dorian Bush

Every now and then, there's an inkling that a columnist truly "gets it". Regarding last week's European leg of the Bamboozlepalooza Tour (™ Josh Marshall), Ed Montini writes this morning in the Arizona Republic:

The important thing is that you shouldn't allow liberals to convince you that Bush's comments to Putin were some kind of unintended and ironic commentary on the United States. The president said, "Democracies always reflect a country's customs and culture." Then he mentioned the stuff about rule of law, protection of minorities, a free press and viable political opposition.

Putin answered him in Russian but I didn't hear the translation. After studying the expression on Putin's face, however, I'm guessing that he said something like, "I'm rubber. You're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you."

The entire column is a devastating head-on collision with reality for TeamBush. Go read it.

Update, 11:15AM - Attaturk @ Rising Hegemon (among others) points to another great column on the same topic, this one by Maureen Dowd. Jeez, who's been pissing in MoDo's Wheaties? That's two outstanding columns from her in the past two weeks.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Gimme That Olde Tyme Kansas Religion!

Cub Scout Leader Arrested in BTK Killings:

Rader, a Cub Scout leader who was active at his Lutheran church, lived with his wife, neighbors said. Public records indicate they have two grown children. Messages left for family members were not returned on Saturday, and no one answered the door at the home of his in-laws.

As someone noted in the comments to a previous thread, there's little doubt on how he voted on November 2, 2004.

Ah, it's always the quiet ones...I'm left to wonder if Rader and JimmyJeff have more than a little in common...

And what did Kansas AG Phill "Ve Vant Ze Records" Kline have to say?

"Victims whose voices were brutally silenced by the evil of one man will now have their voices heard again..."

Good to see ol' Phill is staying 'on message'. Keep clicking them ruby slipper heels together, Phill.

Ok, Here's Some Saturday Nite Fun

Random blogging can be a gas.

...especially when you run into a post like this one at an Okie blog that I had no idea had even blogrolled ASZ.


Drunken Cranium-style blogging coming later tonight...betcha can't wait...

Calling Howard Dean

Many of you have commented on the threads I've started concerning the nature of Left Blogistan and what its "use-value" is and can develop to in the next years. I chose this quotation by Prairie Weather to start a thread today, because it crystalizes some forward-thinking we all need to participate in. Prairie Weather also Blogged about the Howard Dean ascendency to the DNC Chair on Thursday, and that might be a resource we can all use, given that part of the problem we are worrying is how Mr. Dean apprehends the challenges of working with Left Blogistan. PW worked from an article in the Nation that covered the Dean ascendency, so don't miss that either. The problem with that article, though, is that it treated fitting Dean into the "politics-as-usual" Party hierarchy, and our task is much different.

How does Howard Dean ally himself with Left Blogistan to fully employ "politics-as-unusual" into the fray that will surely be shaped and framed, for most Americans, as the same old, same old?

This is a great conversation which is not so much about Dean as it is about us!

Can't tell you how discouraged I got, as a Deanie, trying to participate in the Dean blogs and feeling that everyone was scared to death of (and frequently very tetchy about)any opinions which exhibited diversity, which varied from a kind of party line.

Brad DeLong, in his way, is urging bloggers to vet their links now and then, make sure we aren't locked into group-think (though his context is different). I agree, but I also believe that, just as Dean is going to have to deal with diversity among his followers. That's something he's actually very good at, which is why so many "rednecks" in my area fell in love with him.

The most difficult thing for him will be to detach himself from the establishment -- to keep his cherry --or learn to use them rather than get used by them. If he doesn't, he's a goner (and so are we).

Maybe bloggers should issue invites to Dean, blog by blog, to be an occasional guest-blogger. Just as long as he (or his sidekicks) don't use the privilege to spout the D.C.'s favorite political cliches. No more of that, puh-lease!

It seems that PW's comment is about diversity and how to nurture it in the confines of a rigid DNC machine. And I'd agree with PW that we in Left Blogistan, unlike those on the Wing Ding side, fear falling into lockstep. Still, PW is right to note that there are exclusionary tendencies in any group, as detected in the Dean Blog.

I like also PW's reference to updating blogrolls, for these may be the backbone of any disciplining Left Blogistan has got. Even then, those included on any one blogroll are picked using criteria relatively unique to that Blog. Some are heavy on the news blogs like Kos, Atrios, etc. Others concentrate on special interest blogs, while still others may feature regional blogs, as we do here on ASZ. PW's referencing of Brad DeLong's call for vetting links is interesting in this context. I've noticed some of that out there, but was that merely in response to the Koufax Awards letting folks know about Blogs such as ours?

I'm most interested at this point in a couple things, one of which PW addresses. First, though, I am very cognizant of the need to continue the conversation concerning what Blogs are, how does their organizational and social structure work, what is the extent of cooperation and competition, and how is the formation of ideas enhanced or limited in Left Blogistan.

I am just as intrigued about getting this conversation, and then the strategic conversations, going with the Dean and DNC camps. Let us not kid ourselves: the Dean camp is being lauded over how they worked with Blogs and innovative communications, as referenced in the Nation article (my bolding for emphasis):

Dean's plan to spend at least $11 million annually to beef up state parties will be his most expensive early initiative. But he has a lot of big ideas. "The tools that were pioneered in my [presidential] campaign--like blogs and Meetups and streaming video--are just a start," he says. "We must use all of the power and potential of technology as part of an aggressive outreach to meet and include voters, to work with the state parties, and to influence media coverage."

One of the most intriguing measures of the difference between Dean and his DNC predecessors is the excitement his election has generated among people with big ideas about strategy and policy. Internet innovators like Zach Exley and Zephyr Teachout have already made smart proposals for how to push the technological envelope [see Katrina vanden Heuvel's February 13 "Editor's Cut" weblog at]. But where Dean could cause the greatest stir is in championing bold new approaches that will again make the Democrats a party of ideas.

Yes, Dean is already talking about some of the issues we've talked about here and over at But, hell, I'm not even sure of how to get hold of the Dean camp so that they actually will read my email, much less respond. Any suggestions?

As to strategy and idea building in concert with the DNC, I think small-group regional meetings seem good, and the structure of Liberally Drinking might work to support such a move. I would want it similarly casual and non-hierarchical, surely. And then maybe reported on by all bloggers in attendance.

I volunteer. Any other takers?

Well, It's One, Two, Three, What Are We Bloggin' For...

Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
But I'm out of Left Blogistan

(For the day...enjoy thread time. What's in your wallet?)

Friday, February 25, 2005

Regarding the Kansas AG's Witch Hunt

Found this comment on the blog for Ron Reagan Jr. and Monica Crowley's new MS-GOP show, Connected Coast-to-Coast, regarding the Kansas AG's order to turn over abortion records:

Isn't it interesting that when the prosecutor came and seized Rush Limbaugh's records (for taking massive amounts of narcotics), the far right was outraged. Now, it seems to be okay to seize medical records? —BMC

Indeed. Apparently Arizona drug rehab centers don't censor incoming news.

Medicare / Medicaid - The Social Security Bait and Switch

For about the eleventeenth time, I'm going to opine that the "third rail" political nature of Social Security hasn't fundamentally changed. At the end of the day, there may be some tweaks and tuning to the program, but no major phase-out plan posing as "reform" will go forward. George Bush knows it, Bill Frist knows it, Denny Hastert knows it, and I know it. But for all of the good work that Left Blogistan has done in exposing Plan Bush, in the dark of night I start to thinking that maybe we've taken our collective eye off of the bigger picture.

I keep reading stories like this...

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration believes it can improve services for Medicaid beneficiaries and help the program's shaky bottom line by caring for more elderly and disabled patients in their homes or through community-based programs. [Note the lack of the use of the term, "faith based" - Ed.]

...President Bush's 2006 budget proposal seeks $500 million over five years to move some of the disabled out of institutions and into these community programs. For patients who make the switch, the federal government would pay the entire cost of care in the first year and then split the cost with states - anywhere from 50 to 70 percent - in subsequent years...

...and I continue to think that BushCo's real end game is to phase out a true problem child for both state and federal governments - Medicare and Medicaid. Just as a refresher, Medicare provides assistance to (primarily) the disabled and elderly after they've exhausted their own personal assets, and Medicaid provides assistance (primarily) to the poor who had no assets to begin with.

$100 million per year -- I had to chuckle when that number sunk into my non-financially oriented mind. First off, a half billion dollars over five years is a drop in the Medicare sea of red ink, and will do little more than cover the salaries of the bureaucrats who will need to be hired to justify cutting off Medicare payments to the affected constituency. The burden for covering the cost of care for these patients will then shift either to the states, or to the families of the patients.

State governments are already busting their budgets in trying to keep Medicaid programs afloat. I've blogged before that Medicaid is, for obvious reasons, low-hanging political fruit and an easy target for either devastating cuts or total elimination. Medicare is only a branch or two higher on the fruit tree.

In reading the timeframe expressed in the above cited article (one year), I believe BushCo's going to move exceptionally quickly in gutting both programs, using a faux Social Security fight for cover. And why not? The political risk / benefit equation is tilted dramatically in their favor.

Listen, I can't get inside these people's heads to figure out what's really going on, but with every alarming story I read on Medicare / Medicaid, it makes more sense.

From a Medicare perspective, it's made more sense since the advent of Elder Care tax deductible accounts, and the relatively recent offering of long term care insurance products. BushCo wants to shift the risk ("ownership", if you will) of nursing home care from the government to insurance companies, and force as many people as possible into setting up Elder Care accounts for the exact same reason as they want to privatize Social Security - float some more schwag to their investment company sugardaddies.

Medicaid is even easier. The primary consumers of Medicaid are the working poor. The primary consumers of Medicaid simply don't vote in overwhelming numbers. Yes, dramatically cutting or eliminating Medicaid would touch off a social service shitstorm. But let me reiterate - the primary consumers of Medicaid simply don't vote in overwhelming numbers. So tax-cut-and-spend politicians aren't going to really care; in fact, I can see them shifting a portion of Medicare / Medicaid payroll deductions to plug Social Security holes.

The more I hear about the dire straits of Medicare / Medicaid, the more I'm convinced that some variation of the theory I've described is the real strategy behind the Social Security smokescreen.

If this plays out the way I think it might, Left Blogistan is going to have to "rapid respond" as quickly as we have on Social Security. The problem is, there's a whole lot more nuance to Medicare / Medicaid, and any fight to save the intent of either program is going to require exponentially more work. If, as I suspect, there's a fight to be had, we need to think a bit more strategically on the issues. The counter arguments and message have to be fine tuned before the message is needed.

This time, we're not going to have the luxury of "making it up as we go along" as we did with Social Security, because there is no built-in constituency (retirees) or heavyweight advocacy group (AARP) to lean on.

The Medicare / Medicaid fight needs to be battle-planned as if socially responsible progressives in Left Blogistan are going to be the only significant, broad-based organized resistance to the BushBorgs. Because that might indeed be the case.

All Your Airspace Are Belong to Us

You might have missed this - Canada has refused to sign onto the U.S. missile defense shield initiative (Star Wars). And guess what the American ambassador to Canada said to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin?

"Who cares? We'll invade your airspace if we want to." Well, ok, not his exact words but close enough to the official transcripts. Here's a story from The Globe and Mail:

Ottawa — Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday that Canada has to be involved in any U.S. decision to shoot down an enemy missile in Canadian airspace, but the American ambassador said the country had given up its right to be involved in any such decision.

Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador, made the remarks just after Mr. Martin officially announced Canada would not join the controversial missile-defence shield.

“We will deploy,” Mr. Cellucci said. “We will defend North America.

“We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereignty, its seat at the table, to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada.”...

Maybe it's because Canadians perceive the Bush administration as a pack of INTERNATIONAL JACKALS? Ya think? Anyway, Timmy (any relation to Horton?) at Voice in the Wilderness had this to say:

What a fascinating principal the Bush administration is applying. If we don't sign onto their every boondoggle, it is tacit approval for them to invade our sovereignty at whim. If we don't increase port security to their satisfaction, can we expect the U.S.S. Nimitz to be posted outside Halifax Harbour?

Did you miss the memo on Iraq, Tim? The BushCo cabal is getting pretty good at doing whatever the fuck they want, sovereign foreign nations or not. You also may have missed the accountability memo, Tim - as in, they have none. Or at least they don't think they do.

Keep your government honest, Timmy. Gawd knows we didn't.

Update, 7:20 - RossK's got the full snark 411 (from a Canuckistan perspective) on Ambassadors Yin and Yang at Gazetteer.

Rising From the Ashes

And you thought Guckert was a goner. Heh. It's like a George Romero script - just when you think the boogeyman has been vanquished, and a Celine Dion song is hitting a life-affirming creshendo, a hand pokes through a freshly filled grave and grabs the hero by the balls.

Will Bunch @ Attytood (the Philadelphia Daily News' answer to "Bloggermann") brings a couple of stories on the continuing Guckert saga to the table today:

"Jeff Gannon" still wants your money

Comrade Jeff Gannonski and Moscow on the Potomac    (actually, this particular piece is more on the Bush / Putin "free press" dustup yesterday than another screed on Guckert, but it's a good read anyway.)

I am absolutely flabbergasted that James Guckert continues to keep his story alive. Or perhaps more succinctly, that the Rovemasters allow his story (and him) to be kept alive. Maybe he's figured out that's the best way to stay alive -- continue to be an attention whore.

If you recall, back when PimpMyPOTUSgate first broke, Guckert took his Gannon site offline with words to the effect that "the voice has been silenced". Ok. So that would explain why has morphed from its previous incarnation to a blog. And, a blog in which JimmyJeff is now whining for support.

It would be interesting to see how many Freepers step up and click on his PayPal button. Actually, it might even been some sweet justice - Guckert's been fleecing the neocon flock for so long that it's somewhat amusing he's now making it official and making them all pay for the privilage. And keeping his name front and center at the same time. Come to think of it, if it will help him keep his name in the news, maybe I'll go pony up a few bucks myself.

You go, James. With friends like Ann Coulter, you need all the help you can get.

In Case You'd Forgotten, It's the Happy Planet.

The US government via its myrmidons in the Department of Defense continue to poison the planet under the lying umbrella cover of creating freedom and democracy.

Not just in 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, but for decades. Rumsferatu, et al are the party goers that bring the world gifts that keep on giving. And they're using your credit cards and bank accounts and slave wages and your children's college fund and your parents' food budget to do it. And you vote for them. Don't tell me you don't. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, ya know.

Do you DU? (pronounced "dee-you") Of course you do, even though it's easier to think that it's "them" doing it. DU is depleted uranium. It's rained down upon Iraq and Afghanistan and Somali and Kosovo. Yes. There too. And if it weren't for your buck three-eighty, the Strangeloves in the DOD wouldn't be able to kill and maim and mangle today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

And don't tell me we've already done the depleted uranium topic to death. Since the US is still doing it to the "other", I'm thinking we haven't nearly worn the subject out. Some people are still screaming at the top of their lungs about it, but Peter Jennings is doing UFOlogy on network television ... earnestly of course ... and the rest of us aren't feeling too well.

So, before I head off to work, where I will once again drag my share of rocks up the side of the Pharoah's pyramid so I can put food on my family, I thought I'd leave you with a few DU reminders. They're still doing it, and they're using your blood, sweat and tears, and those of your children to rain down death upon people like YOU whenever and wherever they want.

Dr. Helen Caldicott

Poisonous Legacy

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Dennis Kyne

What happened to the test tube paradigm?

Rolling Stone

Life Magazine

Dear Howard Dean:

Can I call you Howard? Thanks.

Man, you are in the news lately. Evidently Liberal groups are keeping an eye on you to make sure you're going to keep your backbone, or so say many newspapers this morning, including Newsday. Perhaps they are secretly afraid you'll becoming absorbed by that polite debating society that is the Democratic Party. Perhaps they are worried you will lose some of the bite that infused your voice during that dynamic campaign you waged last year. Heck, they're worried that you'll forget to break out into the scream, maybe, even that the "scream" was a fake? Holy Conspiracy Theory, Batman! Perhaps those worries are legitimate, but you've got a bigger one.

Remember all that money you raised through harnessing the internet? Well, we're still here, the Bloggers who helped energize your campaign and the Presidential race, and we're just not that easy to understand, and shy of taking the harness to be simply "used" in a campaign. Still, we're contributing daily, often driving the debate. DailyKos and dozens of the writers of Left Blogistan, for instance, have spearheaded the drive against Mr. Bush's Social Security boondoggle, which should be hereafter known as the Wall Street Welfare Act (Kos used a similar term more than two months ago in describing this issue). The Bloggers of Left Blogistan are also responsible for exposing the Republican embarrassment that is Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert and the fake news that is so rampant in far more right wing sources than Talon News, which has evidently shut down.

To borrow phraseology from the radical gay movement, we are here, we are BLOGS, and we aren't going anywhere. But here's the news: you aren't liable to be going anywhere either without starting and vigorously maintaining the discussion with us. Yeah, you need us, both the big Blogs like DailyKos and DemocraticUnderground and Atrios Eschaton and MyDD, and also the less major players, like our own Allspinzone and Blondesense and Jesus' General and Suburban Guerilla, and even specialized or more "literary" Blogs, such as Rittenhouse Review or PublicOrgTheory. And you don't just need these folks because of the hard news they develop. You need us because of our potential to develop and popularize themes, to create groundswell, to raise money, and to raise the energy level of the progressives in this country. But first you have to understand us. And in discussions here and at over the last couple days it has become vitally clear that understanding the morals and motivations and organizational workings of Left Blogistan enough to creatively and productively employ our work to full advantage.

Howard, you need to start the dialogue and participate in it, not necessarily online as a commenter, and certainly not by starting your own blog, or hiring a few good bloggers, but through grass roots connections. You and several of your staffers need to come out and talk to us face-to-face. As such, I recommend you make the Drinking Liberally Tour. And noticing that a huge group of the Blogs I mentioned above are from Philadelphia, I suggest you send some folks to Philly to take the pulse of the Blog world. Of course, you're a Doctor, so you're practiced in taking pulses.

Remember this, though, because you and the Democratic Party run a huge risk of figuring out the dynamism of Left Blogistan through so-called experts who describe us falsely. We are not a pack of wolves, we are not one voice, and we are not a nameless horde. We do not work in our pajamas, often, and we are not disconnected nodes just yammering. We are definitely not sheep, as the Wing Dingers of the Right so often seem to be. We've flexed our power and we've shown you what we can do. It is incumbent upon you to figure us out, because you're going to want us by your side in the next couple years.

Oh, and as a special favor, can you guys give extra attention to helping get rid of Senator Santorum in the '06 election?



Folks, what else do you think Mr. Dean needs to know about Left Blogistan?

The Not-So-Secret War on Choice

An update from the front lines of the culture war:

No battle is or has been more visible than that of abortion rights. Under a cloak of secrecy, the state of Kansas has opened a new front in the battle...

Kansas Attorney General Seeks Late-Term Abortion Records

TOPEKA, Kan. Feb 25, 2005 — The Kansas attorney general, a staunch opponent of abortion, has demanded the medical records of nearly 90 woman and girls who had late-term abortions, saying he needs the material to investigate crimes...

Let me translate from old German: "Ve vant ze records, Fritz."

This whole story is a chilling reminder that, over the next four years, America is going to be jackbooted by the legions of Bushbots™ who lurk in every nook and cranny in the country. The rabid fundie pro-life MEN who are mostly behind this movement will stop at nothing, including raising the specter of wholesale intimidation of an entire class of women by demanding the government be privy to private medical records.

The court situation in Kansas is mixed, so it's hard to predict the chances of success of the Kansas AG's demand. But what is clear is that he's 1) on a campaign of intimidation, and 2) embroiled in a good old fashion witchhunt that he has to inherently know is not going to be decided locally in Kansas. The issue will most certainly land before SCOTUS at some point in the future.

Chip, chip, chip...

Update, 1:30PM - Atrios writes more on the topic.

Update, 9:45PM - Ron Reagan Jr. thought enough of us to cite this post at the blog for the recently launched MS-GOP show, Connected Coast-to-Coast.

Decorum - Republican Style

The party of morals and civility is at it again, this time in Colorado. Now I'll admit that my language can get pretty bad at times, and I'll admit to having told a few people to "Fuck Off" quite a few times. But it's never crossed my mind to say this to someone:
"If you try that again, I'll ram my fist up your ass," Republican Bill Cadman told his Democratic colleague, Val Vigil, at Vigil's desk during the morning session.

What is it about Republican men wanting to shove something up your (or their) ass?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Other Roswell

(Earlier today, I blogged a bit snarkily about an ABC News piece this evening on the UFO phenomena. After watching the show end to end, I have to admit I was enthralled. Peter Jennings devoted most of one segment to the Roswell Incident, of which I'm intimately familiar. Here's my take on the aliens among us, pulled from last year's archives. The sentiment resonates more today than it did when I originally wrote this post 8 months ago.)

Roswell, New Mexico is a small depressed city of about 40,000 people, located 200 miles distant from any other outpost of civilization on planet Earth. The main claim to fame of the community is flying saucers (remember "The Roswell Incident"?).

Nancy Lopez, the LPGA golfing hall of famer, grew up there. So did I. Nancy and I played more than a few rounds together when we were both learning the game in our early teens. She could outdrive me on the NMMI golf course by 100 yards even back then. She was a 'natural'. I wasn't. (But I still have a better short game than her. Nyah, Nanc.)

It gets hotter than the hinges of hell on the high desert of Roswell during the summer. Dry heat, my arse. 110 is still 110. Similar to the Baghdad blast furnace, in that regard.

The picture to the right? It's the International UFO Museum. Back in my youth, it was the Plains Theatre before UFO's were a hot commodity in Roswell. I saw a lot of movies there - single screen with a balcony for the lovers - and most probably I kissed my first girl in that theatre. Memory conveniently fades...

Anyway, like most communities in that area of the country, anglo surnames such as mine are in short supply. In the phone book for the 88201 zip code, you're much more likely to find a Garcia or a Montoya or Rocha than a Jones or Smith.

If you've followed ASZ for awhile, you'd know that I have an affinity for Hispanic culture, even though I'm definitely anglo. I love Puerto Rico. 'Mehico' is my second country. I've written about Cuba several times on these pages. My first girlfriend back in the raging hormone days was a chicana. It's easy to understand that my affinity for all things hispanic springs from my geographic and economic heritage, not my bloodlines.

Yep, I grew up in Roswell. Graduated high school there. Buried my dad there last year. My mother, who I buried this year (albiet a bit further west), was as enamoured of a well crafted squashblossom as she was of diamonds. In short, I was New Mexican before New Mexico was hip.

So, this one hits a little bit closer to home than most.

Albuquerque Tribune Online:

ROSWELL - The mother of a Marine sergeant from Roswell who was killed during fierce fighting this week in Iraq says she doesn't believe going to war was for a good cause.

'And yes, our heroes have died in vain - and one of them is my son,' Velina Sanchez told KOB-Channel 4 while clutching a photo of Sgt. Moses Daniel Rocha in his dress uniform.

Rocha, 33, was fatally shot during fighting that erupted this week in Najaf, where U.S. helicopter gunships and fighter jets continue to pound Shiite Muslim insurgents."...

Gov. Bill Richardson said he was saddened by the death of Rocha, who leaves behind a young son.

"This is the second death in less than a week for the city of Roswell and again points out the tremendous sacrifice of New Mexicans in defending our nation in the war against terror," he said.
A lot of Lila Lipscomb's are being created out there. Velina Sanchez is just the most recent. In the end, the war moms may be the most powerful voices quietly campaigning for regime change.

And, Bill? Governor Richardson? It's all a lie. One big stinkin', fetid lie. You know that as well as I do. Moses Daniel Rocha didn't die "defending our nation in the war against terror". He died for a stinkin', fetid lie.

RIP, Danny.

The Koufax Award Ceremonies

Susan of Suburban Guerrilla:
The Queen's Night Off

"First of all, they pick you up in the Wampum stretch limo and take you to an undisclosed location somewhere in D.C. Imagine my surprise when they took off the blindfold and I realized it was, yes, John Ashcroft who anointed me with oil during the Koufax coronation ceremony, held in some cathedral or other. The hallucinogens were in full force; he kept moving his hands in the air and mumbling about "holy trails.""

It's good to be the queen. ;-)

Within the Echo Chamber

Ann of the Adam's Apple on how Bloggers Are to Blame... It's too rich. Right out of Kafka, Dostoevsky, and Heller. The whole Gannon affair is the fault of.... US -- the bloggers. Read it here. Just drop your nickel in the slot on the turnstile. After all, Levin of Slate said we were nothing if we weren't making money.

From the top: "Wed Feb 23, 7:58 PM ET Op/Ed - By Ann Coulter

In response to the public disgrace and ruin of New York Times editor Howell Raines, CBS anchor Dan Rather and CNN news director Eason Jordan, liberals are directing their fury at the blogs. Once derided as people sitting around their living rooms in pajamas, now obscure writers for unknown Web sites are coming under more intensive background checks than CIA agents."

I'm not quite in my PJs, but it's my day off, so I'm grubby. Nevertheless, beyond her carnival barker money draw, why do the media outlets still keep this piece of human detritus on the books? This puzzles me, even in sleep. Since we're doing serious sociological and psychological issues here at ASZ of late I thought this would be an important question. Why Ann and why now?

Does Anyone Remember the War in Iraq?

25 More Killed in Iraq Bombings

I suggest that the bombings are getting so routine that we are losing our sense of outrage.

White House Press Corps

Press Corps

Afternoon giggle via AmericaBlog.

A Begging Moment

Please, please, please. Don't go away mad. Just go away. Remember the Alamo, yada yada yada. A Texas separatist movement rebounds...

The separatist Republic of Texas group, which largely dissolved after an abortive uprising in the Davis Mountains left several of its leaders dead or in prison in 1997, has reformed, and is again pushing its message that Texas should be a free and independent nation, 1200 WOAI news reported today.

From a newly established 'capitol' in the east Texas town of Overton, Daniel Miller, President of the Republic of Texas Interim Government, says a desire to be free, combined with ballooning concerns over rising taxes and property rights, will convince more Texans to support a 'referendum' on whether Texas should become an independent nation...

In Search of Intelligent Life

No, we're not talking about a dangerous expedition inside the Washington, DC I-495 Beltway. Will Bunch @ Attytood points us to a two hour ABC News special tonight, UFOs - Seeing Is Believing, hosted by anchor Peter Jennings:

They hover, dart and sometimes float. They shine bright lights; they look like pie plates. Sometimes they're triangular or cigar- shaped. They can be stunningly fast and amazingly silent.

Are they alien spacecraft?

That might be going too far.

But they are unidentified objects that fly.

Cue the spooky music, roll the vintage newsreels, and haul out the illustrations of flying saucers circa 1950.

Tonight, Peter Jennings goes in search of signs of intelligent life in the universe.

As Bunch opines, might not it have been better if Jennings had gone in search of intelligent discussion on, say, Social Security?

Rules of Evidence

We've become so numb.

I just don't get this:

A US marine, captured on film killing a wounded Iraqi at point blank range during November's assault on Fallujah, will not be formally charged because of a lack of evidence, CBS News reported yesterday.

Captured on video pulling the trigger, blowing the guy's brains out, but evidence lacks?

A Marine says: "He's f___ing faking he's dead. He's faking he's f___ing dead." The Marine comes into view with his rifle shouldered. There is a rifle shot. An Iraqi leaning against a wall slumps, leaving a blood stain behind. According to CNN, another Marine says, "Well, he's dead now."

Rapping and Blogrolling: MSM Doesn't Get It

How's that for a little Bling Bling? (For Kate and Joseph Logan, who were led to bed in mid-discussion last night by, well, their cats.)

Joseph Logan from leads off today with a continuation of the conversation that got so very involved here last night (38 responses is BIG for this Blog), but he first brings into it an article from Slate where Josh Levin compares, facilely, bloggers to rappers. To me, this is a fine example of how the Main Stream Media doesn't get it, and any one of you will likely blow Levin's thesis to bits easier than me. They don't know how at all to characterize the blogging phenomenon, expecially Left Blogistan. My comment on that other thread was that it was the DNC's job to figure out how to use Blogs, and I'll extend that now. The Main Stream Media is at a crossroads, and until they figure places like Atrios, Kos, ASZ and the thousands of other Blogs out there, including their place in the world, in politics, in a whole social ethos, they're going to continue with such facile and amatuer productions as Levin produced. Yes, even so "hip" a political space as Slate seems clueless sometimes.

I offer this post as a companion to the Joseph Logan thread at, but there's lots that could be talked about. I don't think we have exhausted discussing metaphors, though Logan seems to have accepted my "verdant rhizome" as a metaphor in progress. If you can't compare Left Blogistan to Rappers, and we ruled out hives and packs yesterday, what group would you compare them to? Are we Freedom Fighters? Are we nomads, able to move with the wind, graze at need, and strike swiftly with little warning?

Of course, Wing Ding BlogWorld is the Borg. That goes without saying. And a stupid Borg as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

An Offer Wead Couldn't Refuse?

Wow. I bet Tweety was pissed.

Dear Mr. Matthews,

I am so sorry to cancel your show. It was very gracious of you to allow me a chance to share my heart and regrets about recent events. It seems the better part of wisdom for me to forgo television for a time. It would only add to the distraction I have caused to the president’s important and historic work.

Contrary to a statement that I made to the New York Times, I have come to realize that personal relationships are more important than history. I am asking my attorney to direct any future proceeds from the book to charity and to find the best way to vet these tapes and get them back to the president to whom they belong. History can wait.

Thanks for your consideration,

Doug Wead


Tessio: Can you get me off the hook, Tom? For old times' sake?

Tom Hagen: Can't do it, Sally.

Social Security: Seek and Ye Shall Find

Spam makes me grumpy. I received a bulk email this afternoon from Michael Crane, author of "The Political Junkie Handbook".

Dear Blogger:

Excellent, personalized start to a sales pitch.

Pundits have written much about President Bush's Social Security Privatization Proposal. The Democrats' social security calculator (, for example, gives the user a general idea of how they would fare under Bush's plan. Unfortunately, there is lttle information about the calculator. What factors did they consider? Benefits under the Bush plan are a function of time, return on investment and age of retirement. None of their assumptions are listed...

Essentially, I stopped reading the email at this point. Last week, I posted a link to the referenced calculator, and recommended that everyone check it out. And - sonofabitch - I also noted in comments to the original thread that a link to the calculator assumptions was listed at the bottom of the webpage.

So, Mr. Crane, who is hawking a ubiquitously titled book took an immediate credibility shot. My initial impression: at best, Mr. Crane is a poor researcher. At worst, he's a political hack trying to score wingnut points.

To make a long story short, I clicked through to the book website, and noted his contention that his book is nonpartisan, presenting both sides of the major political issues of the day. I reviewed a few pages which were scanned from the book onto his website, then I went back and reread the lead paragraph of his email. Maybe I'm just sensitive, I dunno, but it didn't sound particularly nonpartisan to me. Then I googled "Michael Crane" and came up with a discussion on that's worth reviewing for a chuckle, if nothing else.

Non-partisan. Heh.

I've requested of Mr. Crane that he send a mea culpa to everyone on his original spam list. Like that'll happen.

Welcome Noblesse Oblog

Welcome, Noblesse OBlog to the ASZ Philly Blog Mafioso. I might recommend She Flies With Her Own Wings as well, especially for this photograph.

When We Walked Together

Think this is going to be another post about how "we were one" on 9/11/2001?

Nope. Because we walked together long before that - 25 years ago yesterday.

Were you around when Jim Craig draped the American flag over his shoulders and searched for his dad in the crowd? When Mike Eruzione hoisted a young group of amateur overachievers on his broad shoulders and made us believe?

America walked together on 2/22/1980. You didn't need to be a hockey fan, or liberal, or just needed to believe in miracles. It was a truly joyous occasion to walk together, not a temporary "unity of convenience" in the face of unexpected disaster.

The tears that were spilled came from the unbridled joy of victory over impossible odds, rather than the anguish of national peril.

And no, Dorothy -- no amount of clicking the heels on those ruby-red shoes is going to take you home again.

Gawddam, I'm getting old.

Organizational Theory and Blogging

Our friend Joseph Logan at has been working a while blogging about how to characterize the blogging phenomenon in terms of Organizational Theory, and while I've seen discussions on this topic in the past without being sucked into the discussion, I must admit being sucked in now.

I am not at this stage interested in comparing Right Blog Storm Troopers (Wing Dings?) with those of us in Left Blogistan, as the perjorative labels get in the way of serious analysis. This should be a nonpartisan issue. But we've got lots of readers here with the intellectual cojones and playfulness to take part in a serious conversation, so I thought I'd point to Joseph's link. I'll repeat my comment on his site in our comments section.

Have fun with it, folks!

Santorum and Social Security

Those of us in Pennsylvania know that Mr. Santorum has been conducting town hall meetings concerning the supposed Social Security crisis, many of them on college campuses. In Pennsylvania, with the second highest population of Seniors in the country, folks who vote, he's going out to try to convince the younger part of the electorate. Go figure. And get this, he's doing so on campuses where young people are scared of Santorum's crusading on cultural issues such as gays marriage. This tour seems as poorly planned as the War on Terror, and that's saying a lot.

The New York Times reports on Mr. Santorum's visits, and it appears he will have some tough sledding ahead. One of the folks at Liberally Drinking last night attended the Drexel University meeting, and the Times description of the meeting matches hers. She saw very little support for Santorum or the BushCorp Social Security Agenda.

At Drexel University, for example, Mr. Santorum was greeted by protesters, was heckled during his speech by people declaring their loyalty to Lyndon LaRouche, and was asked several questions by young people on issues that had little to do with Social Security, including same-sex marriage and the global fight against AIDS.

Why is this important? Well, Mr. Santorum is in a leadership position in the Senate, so he must do these meetings, unlike other Republicans, such as Arlen Specter, Michael Fitzpatrick and Charles W. Dent, who are not active promoting Mr. Bush's Social Security agenda.

Arlen Specter, the senior Republican senator from the state, has said he has "an open mind" on the president's plan but wants to hear more details.

A spokesman for Representative Michael Fitzpatrick, a freshman Republican from the Philadelphia suburbs, said Mr. Fitzpatrick "cannot take a position on the president's plan until he sees the details," and he did not plan to hold a town meeting this week. Another freshman Republican from the area, Representative Charles W. Dent, said through a spokesman that he, too, "didn't think there was enough of a plan" from Mr. Bush "to have a position on."

Is Mr. Santorum hanging a losing campaign issue upon himself? Considering that older citizens skew Republican here in Pennsylvania, it would seem so. And his being out there and in front on this issue seems especially risky given that polling is showing that likely Democratic candidate Robert Casey is running ahead of Santorum in the polls.

Beating Santorum in '06 is vitally important, as big a deal as the Daschle defeat this past year (and without the help of shills like Guckert). So I'm here to say that I don't care about Bob Casey's anti-abortion history. Indeed, that history will help him win for the Democratic Party in what James Carville famously called the "Alabama" portions of the state. With Mr. Santorum trying his hardest to cede Seniors to the Democrats, we've got a VERY good chance to unseat Santorum. Hey, and wait until some candidate brings out the bit about him cheating the Penn Hills School District! That story continues to have legs. Santorum's solution to defending his scamming $100,000 worth of services from the district even though he doesn't live there? Change residency requirements. Yup, change the rules especially for him.

I predict we'll see the word "carpetbagger" in that election campaign. And I predict this will be the most exciting campaign in the country in '06.

DHS To Hire Reporters

Newly unemployed JeffyJamesJim D. GannonGuckert may have the experience necessary to apply for this job:
The Bush administration is hiring more reporters. Only this time, it wants them to keep quiet.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week placed a help-wanted listing on, an employment website. The department sought reporters to participate in TOPOFF 3, a biennial exercise directed by Congress that simulates a terrorist attack on the United States.

Ok, so maybe Jeff wouldn't be a good pick, seems he's having a hard time keeping quiet. Ooooo, he kept a journal. Do tell. Yep, good ol' Jeff maybe having money problems - or is looking to cash in on his 15 minutes, it seems he's selling a couple of his domain names.

Back to the point, Homeland Security is looking to hire reporters to cover TOPOFF 3. Rest assured this is nothing like paying pundits, hiring actors to read a script, or having the house ho ask questions. Naaawww, nothing like that at all, it actually sounds worse:

But DHS spokesman Marc Short said the department’s job posting is “nothing like” the earlier controversies. Instead of acting as advocates, the reporters would be prohibited from relaying the results of the exercise outside of the “virtual news network” that is part of the training exercise.

“You must NOT be currently employed by a real news organization and will be required to sign a nondisclosure agreement barring you from writing about this in the future,” the job posting stated.

Short said the department wanted to hire reporters to help department officials better understand how the media would respond to a weapon-of-mass-destruction attack.

I'll let you decide for yourselves just what these clowns are up to. My aluminum chapeau needs a slight readjustment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Pope John Paul on Christian Tolerance

Pope Calls Gay Marriage Part of 'Ideology of Evil'

ROME (Reuters) - Homosexual marriages are part of "a new ideology of evil" that is insidiously threatening society, Pope John Paul says in a new book published Tuesday...

Jumpin' baby Jesus on a pogo stick. Just what the red state bigot brigade needs these days - the Pope feeding Dubya straight lines. No pun intended. Or maybe so. You decide.

Goldwater-Reagan conservative concern for "brownshirt" fascism

Proudly lifted from our friends at BlondeSense, this article from the American Conservative clearly illustrates the fear of the Bush administration growing among real conservatives. These people are NOT liberals or progressives. Pat Buchanan, of all people, is one of the publishers of the magazine.

The article, entitled Hunger for Dictatorship and written by Scott McConnell, expresses his fear that the American "war to export democracy by wreck our own."

McConnell cites other statements from prominent, educated conservatives such as Paul Craig Roberts who compared the Democratic Party to the Nazis following the 2000 election, served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury as an economic advisor for the Reagan administration, served as an editor for the conservative Wall Street Journal, and continues to maintain the highest praise for Reagan (believe he "changed the world").

Paul Craig Roberts in these pages wrote of the “brownshirting” of American conservatism—a word that might not have surprised had it come from Michael Moore or Michael Lerner. But from a Hoover Institution senior fellow, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and one-time Wall Street Journal editor, it was striking.

One of McConnell's colleagues, Justin Raimondo, explains clearly how American conservative bears strong resemblance to fascism.

Several weeks later, Justin Raimondo, editor of the popular website, wrote a column headlined, “Today’s Conservatives are Fascists.” Pointing to the justification of torture by conservative legal theorists, widespread support for a militaristic foreign policy, and a retrospective backing of Japanese internment during World War II, Raimondo raised the prospect of “fascism with a democratic face.”

To put this into perspective, McConnell then points to a shift in conservative ideals, manifested by extremely popular conservative authors and personalities advocating the likes of forced conversions of Muslims surviving American military operations, labelling Arabs as "non-humans" and "bigots", and calling for the American military to target journalists among many other things.

McConnell then closes with the story of Fritz Stern, a German-born professor at Columbia who emigrated to the United States in 1938 and studied Germany's transition from the height of civilization into Nazi barbarism. McConnell describes Stern as follows:

He is not a man of the Left. He would have been on the Right side of the spectrum of the Ivy League professoriat—seriously anticommunist, and an open and courageous opponent of university concessions to the “revolutionary students” of 1968.

McConnell then summarizes a talk that Stern gave to an audience at the Leo Baeck Institute concerning the rise of Hitler to power.

To an audience at the Leo Baeck Institute, on the occasion of receiving a prize from Germany’s foreign minister, Stern noted that Hitler had seen himself as “the instrument of providence” and fused his “racial dogma with Germanic Christianity.” This “pseudo–religious transfiguration of politics … largely ensured his success.”

How much more screaming into the wind is it going to take for our country to wake up?

Spin'Ster on a Mission

Well, she is in Florida with her partner, who I shall name Spin'ster-in-law, and the two spinnerettes, adopted Chinese girls aged 2 and 4. They are there to visit my mother, who is extremely conflicted. You see, on the one hand my mother is of an age where she is squeamish over the concept of lesbianism. And let's make this clear, Spin'Ster and Spin'Ster-in-law are same sex partners. On the other hand, who could possibly avoid complete emotional meltdown when faced with the spinnerettes? They're darling!

So I called last night to see how the first day went, and Mom referred to the Spin-Ster and partner collectively. Mark one for progress. And she was making eye contact with Spin'Ster-in-law, or so I heard. Yes, these are small victories, but they happen every day in this world. And that is all to the better. Prejudice is a learned behavior, after all, and learned behaviors are sometimes unlearned very slowly.

The best part? The bigger spinnerette, Jillian, gave me something like 14 kisses over the phone! I'm in LOVE!

A Victory for Sibel Edmonds

9/11 whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has had a problem for a couple of years now - she can't get the government to acknowledge she even raised concerns in her position as an FBI linguist and interpreter regarding government inaction / complicity in the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The Department of Justice even went as far as to retroactively classify three letters written in 2002 from Senators Leahy and Grassley requesting information into Edmonds complaints.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) sued for release of the Leahy and Grassley letters, claiming that no national security issues would be compromised by the release of the letters. The DOJ has been fighting the release tooth and nail, yet moments before a federal court ruling this morning, DOJ capitulated and agreed to release the letters. Background and a copy of the letters can be found on the POGO website.

In a nutshell, the letters lend a tremendous amount of credibility to Edmonds allegations that the FBI turned a collective blind eye to problems in the transcription process of multiple intelligence documents in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. To the skeptic, it would appear that the FBI was more interested in doing some track covering than actual interpretation of intelligence data.

With the release of the Leahy / Grassley letters, maybe another little chunk of the 9/11 iceberg has finally broken loose. Sibel Edmonds' knowledge, which she is under a court ordered gag not to reveal, will go a long way in helping to understand the post-9/11 dynamics in the U.S. intelligence community.

If she's ever able to tell her story, that is.


POGO Press release - 2/22/05
Links and summary of POGO complaints
DOJ Release Letter, with copies of Leahy / Grassley letters (.pdf file)

Soylent Green is...

... just another synonym for Social Security "reform".

Click on the cartoon for a larger view of Tom Tomorrow's latest "Modern World".

And here a page on Harry Harrison's original novel: Make Room! Make Room!

The Social Security "Sell" - Slime or Merits?

It would appear that Plan Bush is in some serious trouble. The only reason that the administration would be pulling the levers on the new and improved MKII Republican Slime Machine™ would be because BushCo's Ponzi scheme Social Security dismemberment plan has hit rough waters. The 2004 slime machine (MKI, Model SBVFT) has been jiggered and retooled in the form of USANext - kind of like the way NASCAR drivers reinvent their cars every year.

What is USANext? Apparently, the Bizarro World (read: neocon) alternative to AARP. After doing a bit of research, I've come to the conclusion that the bloodsucking vampires at USANext need to have a stake driven through their hearts. I realize that's a strong statement, but really, enough's enough.

Rather than reiterate the entire shitstorm that USANext has caused in the past few days, a link follows that will allow anyone who's been hibernating to catch up. WARNING: Extreme right wing website ahead - but as good an encapsulation of the slime machine antics as I've seen anywhere to this point: Outside the Beltway. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't offend ASZ's readers sensibilities by sending them anywhere near Outside the Beltway, but I want everyone to see that this is not strictly a partisan issue - even wingnut blogs appear (at least momentarily) taken aback by the audacity level of the USANext slime campaign.

Now, don't get me wrong. After AARP bent over for the Medicare drug boondoggle last year, I'm not singing their praises. In fact, after the prescription drug bill passed (with significant AARP support and lobbying), I wrote a letter to AARP telling them they'd see me in hell before I joined. I will never forgive the AARP for what they pinned on seniors with support of the drug bill.

However, USANext's slime attempts against AARP are just flat out wrong - actually, beyond wrong. Like I said before, bloodsucking.

What it comes down to is that when one political party has to use the politics of slime, rather than merit, to advance their legislative agenda, there's something inherently flawed in the agenda. The slime tactic might work in a political race, but it simply won't work in this instance. The whole USANext anti-AARP canard smells like so much desperation.

And the best thing about GOPNow USANext using this tactic? More people are going to pay attention and start noticing. As much as I'm anti-AARP, they represent the geezers. Of all constituencies, a smart politician doesn't fuck with the geezer vote. Expect to see many GOP congresscritters put a lot of daylight between themselves and USANext's slime campaign in the coming days.

Update, 2/23/05, 8AM - I can't point to one article in particular, but take a trip over to TPM and read what Josh Marshall has to say about the entire USANext / United Seniors Association cabal of thieves. And then, go check out Steve Soto's strategy for dealing with the fuckers.

Tribute to Philly Bloggers, Part Deux

The Rittenhouse Review: This place doesn't write enough entries! I love what they do, and have been reading their work for a long, long time now. Hey, and now I live on Rittenhouse Square, so maybe I can get some of the ruminations a little bit better. I like the humor at Rittenhouse Review. Sometimes it is subtle, and sometimes it comes on like a sledgehammer.

slacktivist: Slacktivist also doesn't publish often enough, but the most recent entry on their reason for being is good enough for a look. Certainly an interesting use of the Reaganite metaphor of a "City on a Hill."

Suburban Guerilla: I read Suburban Guerilla for the first time yesterday. OK, so I'm slow! I wrote her a letter immediately, as well. I like the mixture of hard news blogging and introspection at Suburban Guerilla, and I wish myself that I could write more of the personal/political.

Tattered Coat: This one is new to me, and while I am not particularly attracted by blog entries on Hip Hop, I am always willing to be educated. His politics section is certainly well worth it. I LOVE the E. A. Poe/Gannon bit.

Upyernoz: Enough said -- this morning he leads off by promoting Drinking Liberally! I'll be there, upyernoz!

Whiskey Bar: Certainly a winner. Richard and Kate from here at ASZ were regulars in Billmon's hey day, so perhaps they should comment on his Blog. He's active again, and is gathering his following back. I am particularly taken with the Steadman portrait of Hunter Thompson he decorated his tribute with.

There we are, folks, a tribute to a concentration of Bloggers in Philly that can stand up to anyone!

A Tribute to Philly Bloggers: Part 1

Richard Cranium has put in a new category on the Blogroll on the left there -- a list of the "Philly Blog Mafia." So this morning I thought I'd do an introduction to them. (Of course, some are relatively new to me.)

Corrente: This is a group Blog that leads off with a snarky snippet about our mayor, the Honorable John Street, and his misplaced priorities. Street is a Democrat. No, we Philly Bloggers are not blindly partisan. I particularly like their poll on the right side of the page, where it asks you to fill in the blank: "If Jeff JD Gannon Guckert were a bird he would be a:" Very entertaining!

Eschaton: Needs no introduction, and Atrios deserves a daily visit by us all. As of now it is Joe Lieberman Day at Eschaton, but we all know from experience that more fun tidbits will follow on all sorts of subjects.

Mithras: I am compelled to note that Mithras is named after a cult very popular among the Roman military. Today's entry is about Bloggers in Iran who have been jailed, and clearly a just cause backed by Mithras. That's the Philly skyline at the top of the Mithras Blog.

MyDD: I'm pretty sure Richard Cranium and I have both quoted MyDD in the past, and I'll likely do so in the future. Their focus this morning is on the GOP using gay bashing to try to take down AARP. Yup, they are going after old people specifically in order to scare people about the Social Security situation, but then, none of us are surprised at how low the Bushies will stoop!

Out of Context: They seem to want to bring some context to the Gannon/Guckert issue, pointing us to some important pieces on the issue. Hey, and look, they're going to be at Liberal Drinking tonight in Philly at Ten Stone (6-9 on Tuesdays)!

Philly Future: They lead off with a couple week old headline about how well Philly Bloggers did in the Koufax Award Nominations. I guess I'm not the only one who wants to promote Philly Bloggers. These guys REALLY keep track of the Philly Blog scene, and even the real estate! Check out the left side of their page for Philly Blogging headlines!

To be continued. . . .

Iraq - Chalabi Withdraws

This is curious. BushCo's golden boy and Judy Miller's disinformation sugar daddy has withdrawn his name from consideration as Iraq's new Prime Minister. I expected him to fight to the death for this position, though I found it interesting that a crook, spy, and convicted felon would even be considered in the first place.

So, what promises were made? Dropping investigations? Cancelling of warrants? Cash? Ahmed Chalabi is nothing if not all about the cash.

Chalabi Withdraws Bid to Be Next Iraqi PM

Monday, February 21, 2005

In the Beginning...

It is written that on September 11, in the Year of Our Leader 2001, great tragedy befell the Homeland, and lo, the PNAC's vision of a defining event such as Pearl Harbor was realized. And verily, Maximum Leader spake unto his minions, "Find the connection to the evildoer Saddam." When the minions prevailed upon Maximum Leader that Saddam had no part in the bringing of the Day That Everything Changed, he was displeased.

"Redo your work," Maximum Leader implored.

And yea, though they strove to complete the connection, alas, there was none. Yet that bothered not the Leader and his warlords. "We shall fulfill the vision," decreed the Leader. "The prophecy of PNAC has been borne by fire and death and photo ops. And so shall Halliburton bear the fruit of the evildoer's misdeeds."

Still, darkness reigned over the land, and yea, the "unwashed" caste petitioned their Leader for Old Testament blood vengeance. "An eye!" the mob screamed in one resolute voice. "Justice and Osama's head on a stick!" Yet the leader would not be swayed from his intentions.

And so the Minister of State came to prevail upon his king: "Sire, we need a warmup act. Does the NFL do battle without a preseason? Do the Rolling Stones take the stage before REO Speedwagon? I implore of you sire - we must dress the window with the scalp of the Taliban and Osama for the sake of the state and the ruse."

It came to pass that the Great PNAC War was launched in a far away land called "Afghanistan". The terrain was rugged, yet the local warlords were willing to sit at Maximum Leader's table while gifts and promises were exchanged. "We shall empower you," assured the Leader's minions. "Freedom shall be on the march." The Afghan warlords acknowledged each other with a wink and a nod, while secretly bidding their minions to work the cell phones and check the price on opium futures.

Lo, the Battle of the 25 Square Kilometers of Kabul was joined. Taliban leaders were rousted from their beds in the center of Kabul, and relocated 50 kilometers down the road. Maximum Leader received reports of the movement with great joy, and bade his scribes to proclaim victory throughout the land. "But, sire," protested the scribes, "Osama still lives."

"HERESY," screamed Maximum Leader. "I don't worry about Osama!"

Suitably cowed, the scribes withdrew and trumpeted the great victory...

UN: Afghanistan Could Become Terror Haven

Haven't We Been Here Before?

Short answer: Yes.

Ecstasy trials for combat stress

American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.

The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder...

Odd that this "experiment" is being offered to young soldiers at the same time that military recruiting has gone into the pits. A new Army recruiting pitch literally writes itself:

("Psst. Hey, kid, wanna join the Army? The X is free and legal. Ya get great vid games, too. And you get to watch babes mudwrestle.")

Be all that you can be. An Army of One (stoner).

Bush Takes US Heroes to Court

In the Gulf War in the early 90's some of our soldiers were captured and tortured by the Iraqis. They have since sued for compensation, but the Bush Administration is still blocking that compensation. This is the telling part:
Many of the pilots were tortured in the same Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, where American soldiers abused Iraqis 15 months ago. Those Iraqi victims, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said, deserve compensation from the United States.

But the American victims of Iraqi torturers are not entitled to similar payments from Iraq, the U.S. government says.

"It seems so strange to have our own country fighting us on this," said retired Air Force Col. David W. Eberly, the senior officer among the former POWs.

As my friend Jerome says, this is not surprising, disgusting as it is. The Bush Administration has inured us to expressions of shock.

Finally, an Honest McClellan

Here he is with his new policy about credentiallying the press, and I must say the policy is stunning in its honesty. Look, there's Bill O'Reilly from
And isn't that Sean Hannity, who worked with Jim Guckert over at, bringing him on his own show frequently? (I must admit, I don't want to even SEE that green room!)

Mr. McLellan deserves our applause in stepping forth and handling this, so now we can let this scandal die a slow and messy death.

Thanks to our favorite conservative, The General, for pointing me to Scott McClellan's actions, and also to that simply horrid photoshopping!

Edit: 11:37 Boy, Mr. O'Reilly's people must really be at it this morning. Likely threatened a lawsuit. You see, his picture was in that one up above not 15 minutes ago, and now it has "disappeared!" I'm headed out -- someone let me know when Hannity's disappears!

Oh, that's funny!