Friday, December 31, 2004

U.S. to Pledge $350 Million for Tsunami Aid

To put this news in proper perspective, this latest amount of aid equals what we are spending in Iraq in just TWO DAYS.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

When is a rule not a rule?

Or a regulation not a regulation? Or 'faith' in rules and regulations not 'faith' in rules and regulations? Well duh, it is when we do it!

It is quite obvious from this article European Laws Place Emphasis On the Driving, Not the Drinking that the U.S. places it's faith in drinking age restrictions whereas Europeans try to remove driving from the equation altogether. But that's not how it is described:

"a fundamental difference between U.S. and European approaches to drunk driving among young people: Americans have raised the drinking age to 21; Europeans keep it low but put faith in stiff rules and regulations."

I guess all those laws probiting anyone younger than 21 -- including members of the armed services, who can die for their country -- from enjoying a brew are really not rules and regulations after all.... I wonder what they are? Supervised suggestions for freedom living?!?

Priorities priorities...

Bush 'stingy' on disaster relief aid?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

the so-called liberal media in action

Libel Suit Takes Aim at Print Reporter's Words on TV:

"...[Judge] Murphy [has] filed suit against the [Boston]Herald and four of its writers for a 'malicious and relentless campaign of libel unprecedented in the history of this Commonwealth.' In court papers, he said the Herald 'set out to sensationalize' a story that never happened. As a result, he said, his life had been threatened, his reputation had been ruined, and two of his daughters had been threatened with rape on a Herald-sponsored chat room. In August of this year, a Boston judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit.

The case, set for trial next month, is significant because it uses the rambunctious exchange on a talk show to try to prove the malicious intent of a newspaper reporter....

It took three weeks before Murphy fought back in print. When the Herald had asked him to comment, the day after Wedge's 'Murphy's Law' story ran, he declined, citing rules on closed judicial discussions. But when a Boston Globe reporter called him in early March 2002, when the case was closed, he talked.

'I deny that I ever said anything critical of, or demeaning about, the victim,' he said. 'Every single quote that has been attributed to me about that has been fabricated out of thin air. The real truth is 180 degrees. I was extremely concerned about the welfare of the victim, and I made that position apparent to everyone.'

Indeed, the prosecutor, David E. Frank, said in a sworn affidavit that during the only conference related to McSweeney's sentencing: 'Murphy expressed concern for the victim. He asked counsel about the defendant's ability to pay for counseling for the victim.' He added: 'I never heard Justice Murphy say 'Tell her to get over it.''

So where did the quote come from?...

[Herald reporter] Wedge said he stands behind what he wrote but acknowledged the quote may not have been exact. 'I know he said the judge said either 'She's got to get over it' or 'Tell her to get over it,'' he said in an interview. Murphy maintains the conversation never occurred.

Two defense lawyers who were present, Anton B. Cruz and Joseph Harrington Jr., said in sworn statements that they did not see a confrontation or hear Murphy say anything about a 14-year-old [statutory] rape victim.

Wedge acknowledged in an affidavit that the 14-year-old girl, who he wrote had 'tearfully' read her 'heart-wrenching' statement in court, in fact never spoke in court nor took the stand. And although his story referred to 'several' courthouse sources, he confirmed in a deposition that he had talked with only one person who had allegedly heard Murphy make the comment.

But for a public figure, simple untruths are not enough to win a libel lawsuit; there must be 'reckless disregard' for the truth. That is one reason it is almost unheard of for a judge to sue over reporting on his official conduct.

But Murphy's attorneys seized on Wedge's comments on 'The O'Reilly Factor' on March 7, 2002. O'Reilly asked Wedge, 'Are you absolutely 100 percent sure that Judge Murphy said that the rape victim should get over it?' Wedge answered, 'Yes. He made this comment to three lawyers. He knows he said it, and everybody else that knows this judge knows that he said it.' Murphy's attorneys contrasted these statements to Wedge's statements under oath, when he repeatedly answered 'I don't know' or 'I don't recall' to questions about the reporting and writing of his story.

Wedge also 'upped the ante' by suggesting that Murphy had made disparaging remarks not only about a victim but 'to victims,' and by telling Fox viewers that Murphy was 'coddling defendants,' they claim in their briefs."

Monday, December 13, 2004

Fatal Attraction

Saw the old (1987) film Fatal Attraction for the first time last night. A first rate thriller, but also one that derived a lot of its social impact at the time because it fed seamlessly into the "red-blue" dichotomy with which we are so familiar now. This aspect of the film was even addressed, albeit glancingly, in a little short included on the DVD entitled "social attraction."

For those of you who haven't seen it due to youth or lack of interest, here's the rough and tumble synopsis. Man married with child in crowded NYC apartment; man goes to business event with wife (who is not too shabby looking) and encounters exotic 'other'--the career woman. It turns out that man must attend weekend meeting where he meets, yet again, the exotic other. They get caught in a downpour and end up sharing a cab, a dinner and then a night of randy romance, since wifey and the kid are visiting her folks in the countryside for the weekend. He considers the one-night stand over, she does not, tells him she's pregnant and then tries to terrorize and eventually kill the family. Mom ends the terror in a brief outburst of traditional righteous violence straight from Shane.

This brief synopsis doesn't alert you to all the subtle not-so-subtle signals that dad is 'whupped': he is thwarted in his half-hearted attempt to romance his wife by the family dog and his daughter (who spends the night in bed with the parents), his umbrella won't open and when it does it is not a very big or effective one, he fails to get a cab on his own, he fails to get the waiter's attention at dinner etc etc etc. He is the male emasculated by the bonds of marriage.

The career woman, on the other hand, at first alluring and exotic, is quickly exposed as deranged and psychotic. The only innocent people are mom-and-baby, who function as a complete unit for the most part. So, although the thriller is deftly executed, the movie derived a lot of its over the top media coverage due to the fact that it fit so well into the 'morality tale' that was being pushed by certain elements in the Reagan administration, a tale that has since been elevated to the status of article of faith in the Dubya coalition.

What are the aspects of this tale? Working women threaten the family. Sexuality is dangerous. Men (or more precisely, male sexuality) needs to be controlled. The city is full of corruption and temptation. The country is the 'heartland of America.' The only innocence is in the bond between mother and child.

Why do these themes resonate... so far so as to drown out the bad news from the economy and the world at large? They play into a dynamic that is particularly strong in the US (we could argue why that is another time) that leads those who are least able to compete in an increasingly difficult work and social environment to cast blame upon those who are perceived successful. But not those who inherited wealth, after all they couldn't help that. I'm not talking about class warfare here, I'm talking about the cultivation by key elites within the GOP establishment of 'cultural' resentment of those have used education and opportunity to make themselves better off--the so-called 'liberals' that are so often the target of unreasoning hate. 'Liberals' are the one who seek to rise above their 'proper station' through education or deferred child-raising -- 'liberals' who opt out of the traditional sexual social compact of containing sex through early marriage and reproduction, and therefore also supporting a stay-at-home mom.

It is not surprising the Glenn Close was dubbed the "most hated woman in America" for her portrayal. Not only was it an excellent portrayal of a seriously mentally ill individual seeking to control others in order to compensate for deep hurts she suffered long ago (however, no longer a victim, no matter what the actors say about it, but a victimizer) but by adoping a severely mentally ill person as her model -- despite the trappings of success -- she was also able to depict the career woman as utterly alien to motherhood and apple pie. And what put the deranged career woman over the top was her inability to have a normal domestic relationship with a man.

You don't have to be Dr. Freud to understand why this resonates with the roughly half of the population who find it more and more difficult to find success in our increasingly cut-throat and insecure economic and social environment. These people, be they stay-at-home moms dependent on a husband or males who lack the qualifications to compete successfully in a constricted labor market, blame those who succeed in school and in business and also succeed in taking advantage of the new opportunities for intimacy without the sexual blackmail afforded by the sexual revolution.

They blame 'liberals' for destroying the traditional values by taking away their job opportunities and their potential spouses, because if they were 'responsible' (i.e., getting married and not striving to get ahead of their proper station in life) there would be more jobs for down and out palookas, there would be fewer temptations in the workplace, and there would be a larger pool of marriageable partners (men and women) for those who hew to traditional values (sexual division of labor and sexual scarcity to secure the bonds between partners).

This is why abortion, sex ed, and IVF are such a hot issues in this country. These issues not only offer control over reproduction to women who can then choose to pursue a career, but they also offer an 'out' to the wandering male (tellingly sought by Michael Douglas' character). It represents a means by which those who are a success in the the new economy/new sexual society can have their cake and eat it too.

Many stay-at-home mothers view career women as a threat to holding onto their man and as a threat to their man's livelihood. Traditional males view career women as not only a threat to their livelihood but also as unattainable -- a inversion of nature, where women should be subject to men and all women should be potentially 'available.' Both groups view liberated/educated males as effeminate and yet oversexed; effeminate in keeping with the anti-intellectual tenor of American culture, and yet undeservingly oversexed in part due to their presumed ambiguous sexuality but also due to their presumed willingness to exchange their virility for sex with powerful, promiscuous females.

All in all, the 'traditional critique' of liberalism centers on the lack of control of sex and the presumed corrosive effect this has on the economy and mores of society. This Weltanshauung is the core of the appeal of Dubya's creed for millions of 'red' Americans. In this respect Dubya's visceral appeal is not all that different from Franco's or even Hitler's: it is rooted in the (manufactured) fear of socialists, sexual libertines (including gays and lesbians) and rootless cosmopolitan intellectuals eroding the traditional -- yes, even the kitsch -- forms of life familiar to those who must struggle to survive the raw capitalism unleashed by the GOP over the past 35 years.

PS: Another interesting fact about the film is the difference between the ending originally shot and the ending on the theatrical release. The original ending (Glenn Close commits suicide and in so doing frames Michael Douglas) represented a perfect thriller ending, because it was unanticipated twist without being unrealistic or out of the blue and because it preserves the tension between the characters right to the very end. Yet audiences hated it. Why? for the same reasons that made the film a social phenomenon. Audiences wanted cleansing, righteous violence in defense of the traditional family.

By the end the film was no longer merely a thriller as originally intended, it had become the embodiment a large segment of the population's vision of a modern 'morality play.' The fact that those involved with the film couldn't see this supports their contention that they were not purposefully crafting an ideological film. And I believe them. It was only after preview audiences that they decided to reshoot the ending. However, just because the studio was not intentionally crafting an ideological film does not mean that the film was void of ideological resonance, a la Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry films.

Glenn Close was especially opposed to changing the ending, and it turns out she was correct in her reasoning. She feared that the new ending would reduce her character to a caricature of a knife-wielding psycho -- which it did. But it was a caricature that resonated with sentiments that are now associated with 'red Amurika' -- and the changed ending made the difference between a blockbuster and a cultural event. The actors from Fatal Attraction did not end up on the cover of Time magazine simply because they made a good and profitable movie. They were put there as part of an effort to push an agenda, or at the very least to document the mounting success of that agenda.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Big Bro's little buddy

The surveillence society is being put into place as you read this... trust, freedom? who needs 'em when you have electronic monitoring around the clock?

Once again, Eschaton has the goods: "Retired Gen. Tommy Franks has signed on to be the spokesman for a company that uses global positioning system technology in teens' cell phones to let parents know how fast they're driving...."

America's suppressed secular history

My my, wonder how Scalia and his professed "strict constructionist" beliefs will square with the fact that America was far more secular in certain respects back in the horse and buggy days than it is today?

Eschaton has the goods: "...Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.... In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870."

Big Bro's secret police

...Hard at work protecting us from OSHA?!?:

"May 5, the day that changed Aliakbar and Shahla Afshari's lives, began like most others. They shared coffee, dropped their 12-year-old son off at Cheat Lake Middle School here, then drove to their laboratories at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a federal agency that studies workplace hazards.

But that afternoon, their managers pulled the Afsharis aside and delivered a stunning message: they had failed secret background checks and were being fired. No explanations were offered and no appeals allowed. They were escorted to the door and told not to return."

Friday, December 10, 2004

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ho ho ho | World economy: "...Many American policymakers talk as though it is better to rely entirely on a falling dollar to solve, somehow, all their problems. Conceivably, it could happen--but such a one-sided remedy would most likely be far more painful than they imagine. America's challenge is not just to reduce its current-account deficit to a level which foreigners are happy to finance by buying more dollar assets, but also to persuade existing foreign creditors to hang on to their vast stock of dollar assets, estimated at almost $11 trillion. A fall in the dollar sufficient to close the current-account deficit might destroy its safe-haven status. If the dollar falls by another 30%, as some predict, it would amount to the biggest default in history: not a conventional default on debt service, but default by stealth, wiping trillions off the value of foreigners' dollar assets.

The dollar's loss of reserve-currency status would lead America's creditors to start cashing those cheques--and what an awful lot of cheques there are to cash. As that process gathered pace, the dollar could tumble further and further. American bond yields (long-term interest rates) would soar, quite likely causing a deep recession. Americans who favour a weak dollar should be careful what they wish for. Cutting the budget deficit looks cheap at the price."

What an arrogant....

"Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, which is made up mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the war started.

'Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?' Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense...."

Click here for Rummy's 'answer': Daily Kos :: Rummy feels their pain

More on Galloway

Here's a good take on a story reported earlier, the vindication of former MP George Galloway, who was subject to a smear campaign via forged documents: A Hero for Our Time

The money quote? "And why don't we have any politicians in this country making the same roar?"

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Some badly needed common sense

Inventing a Crisis: "Privatizing Social Security - replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts - won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.

I'll have a lot to say about all this when I return to my regular schedule in January. But right now it seems important to take a break from my break, and debunk the hype about a Social Security crisis....

For Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it."

'Tis never the season...

...for bad ads like this: Farting Elves Promote Pepto Bismol

Holiday cheer: Boston style!

Get Wrapped

Monday, December 06, 2004

Your Xmas bonus is on its way...

That was the caption to one of the funniest holiday cartoons I ever saw. It had Santa sitting on the chimney making a deposit. Too often that is exactly how it feels in the workplace, particularly after the accession of the Chimposter and the resulting implosion of the economy. Employers are now using their 'leverage' to cut benefits unilaterally and to essentially squeeze their employees to fatten their profits. Of course, the squeezing is not simply done at the economic level, as the article below demonstrates:
When the Boss Is a Bully: "Hard times sometimes bring out the best in people, but anxious times can also bring out the bullies lurking in corporate ranks. There are several flavors of bad bosses, but bullies are the ones who misuse their power over others. They verbally abuse you, humiliate you in front of others....

Bully bosses overcontrol, micromanage, and display contempt for others, usually by repeated verbal abuse and sheer exploitation. They look over your shoulder. They constantly put others down, with snide remarks or harsh, repetitive, and unfair criticism. They don't just differ with you, they differ with you contemptuously; they question your adequacy and your commitment. They spew on people in support functions, on competitors, perhaps even their own bosses...."
The best advice in the article? Don't try and psychoanalyze the bully, focus on specific behaviors you would like to see curbed. As if that matters any....

Sunday, December 05, 2004

MiniTruth at work

Army Spun Tale Around Ill-Fated Mission: "...The Army's April 30 press release was just one episode in a broader Army effort to manage the uncomfortable facts of Pat Tillman's death, according to internal records and interviews.

During several weeks of memorials and commemorations that followed Tillman's death, commanders at his 75th Ranger Regiment and their superiors hid the truth about friendly fire from Tillman's brother Kevin, who had fought with Pat in the same platoon, but was not involved in the firing incident and did not know the cause of his brother's death. Commanders also withheld the facts from Tillman's widow, his parents, national politicians and the public, according to records and interviews with sources involved in the case...."

Friday, December 03, 2004

rule of law triumphs

Ukraine court annuls poll result: "Ukraine's Supreme Court has annulled the second round of the presidential election - upholding opposition claims that it was fraudulent."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Galloway wins libel case

"Former Labour MP George Galloway has won his libel action against the Daily Telegraph and been awarded 150,000 [pounds] in damages.

High Court judge David Eady said the allegations that he was in the pay of Saddam Hussein were 'seriously defamatory' and said he had no option but to award the Scottish MP, who was one of the most outspoken critics of the war compensation of the upper end of the scale awarded in a non-jury libel action."
Galloway was and is an ardent anti-war politician who was taken out of office by a combination of smear by Conrad Black's Telegraph and party chicanery directed by a vengeful Blair. Nice to see the Telegraph get a little 'pay back;' it will be even nicer when Blair gets his....

dinosaur's demise

Good Night, Tom: "...Brokaw's exit is indeed significant, though probably not for any of the reasons fawning and toadying NBC personalities have stated.

With Dan Rather, anchor of 'The CBS Evening News,' set to follow Brokaw out the door next spring, abdicating a job he once said was the most important at any network, the whole idea of the anchor as a network's top gun and flag-bearer is looking shaky and frail, and perhaps irrelevant. Jennings will be the only veteran in an anchor chair after Rather leaves, and instead of the earth shuddering at that prospect, there's a disheartening aura of 'so what?'..."

Your tax dollars at work

"Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals 'can result in pregnancy,' a congressional staff analysis has found...."

Shinseki Was Right

"...Well, at least we can take comfort in the fact that Rumsfeld is not Secretary of Education. In that Department they demand standards, accountability and results. Unlike the Department of Defense, at Education they are not satisfied by the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Leave no incompetent Secretary of Defense behind."

but big brother is just keeping you safe...

ACLU: FBI spying on religious and protest groups: "In Freedom of Information Act requests filed in 10 states and Washington, D.C., the ACLU sought information about the FBI's use of Joint Terrorism Task Forces and local police for what it called political surveillance.

It pointed to some documented examples of task forces' involvement in the investigation of environmental activists and anti-war protesters."

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Move over, Tiger

Adrants: Golfer Sexes Up Image, Marketers Salivate: The LPGA now has its own Anna Kournikova. Natalie Gulbis has sexed up her image in a recent FHM spread and those in the golfing world don't seem too concerned.... Posted by Hello

AP Wire 12/01/2004

Writer describes dangerous Iraq highway: "The driver barreled down the road from Baghdad International Airport, his eyes darting from side to side for signs of trouble. A few hundred yards ahead, a convoy of U.S. contractors stopped on an overpass. Armed men jumped from the vehicles - weapons at the ready.

Three vehicles from the Iraqi National Guard had been struck by rocket-propelled grenades and the contractors stopped to help. Not so the rest of the cars. Fearing the gunmen may still be around, the driver and dozens of civilian cars and trucks crowded onto an exit road for a quick escape.

It is a scene repeated with alarming frequency along the white-knuckle 10-mile stretch of highway - known to U.S. troops as 'RPG Alley' - which links the center of Baghdad with the airport on the western outskirts of the city...."

DoD News

Department of Defense Announces Troop Extensions for Iraq: "Today the Secretary of Defense approved a request by the Commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF(I)) to extend two Army brigades and a Marine Expeditionary Unit operating in Iraq. The Secretary also approved the Commander's request for two additional infantry battalions to deploy to Iraq."

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

"Today's Washington Post has obtained a copy of a report describing the torture of prisoners all across Iraq and Guantanamo as 'technically illegal.' Torture was widespread and often committed against people who weren't even suspected of being insurgents. This effectively puts an end to the 'a few bad apples' crap that we suspected was false...."

who needs any stinkin' freedom of speech?

"The United Church of Christ (UCC) plans to run a major ad campaign in December to raise public awareness of the denomination. One of the ads is meant, in the words of a UCC press release, to convey the message 'that -- like Jesus -- the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation...' Yet, according to a press release out this evening from the UCC, both CBS and NBC have refused to air the ad because the subject matter is 'too controversial.'..."


"A slow news week really brings out the circle jerk instincts in the press. Not that such an instinct is ever dormant, but usually it's done in private...."

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

More fast food porn

"Surely fast food companies don't really believe that we'd be more likely to consume their unhealthy, cholesterol-laden products just because we've been swayed by some egregious T&A in their advertising campaigns?"

Update: remember this previous effort?
"eat well and exercise often"
 Posted by Hello

funny photo


long but good

putting the lie to the old 'liberal universities' canard: "...There are about 1.1 million post-secondary teachers in the United States. A lot of the ones in the Red States are conservatives, and a lot of the ones in the engineering schools everywhere are. So it simply is not true that 'universities' are bastions of the political left. Moreover, there are almost no leftists in any major economics department in the United States, in contrast to Europe....

That certain professions at certain points in time, skew politically, is demonstrable. For instance, back in the Eisenhower era, the US officer corps was about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Now, only 10 percent of US officers identify themselves as Democrats (a really worrying development). Yet the salaries of the officer corps is probably disproportionately provided by the blue states. Why should this have happened to the officer corps? Should Congress legislate political balance in the upper ranks of the US armed forces?

In immigration studies, there are "push" and "pull" factors. Some people emigrate because of war or poor economies. Some people are perfectly well off but emigrate for even greater opportunities. The former is a push factor. The latter is a pull factor.

The most logical explanation for any political bias in some parts of the professoriate in my view is that the sort of persons with the skills to be in a major academic liberal arts department could also be successful in business, lobbying, law, advertising and other well-paying professions. And it is the corporate world and its lobbying appendages that have the marked bias, to the Right. Someone who has academic skills but is a Republican would just have enormous opportunities and could easily become a multi-millionnaire. In contrast, academics on the Left would not be welcome in corporate boardrooms or at a think tank funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, and wouldn't be comfortable in such a position. (All think tanks hire explicitly by ideology, and 17 of the 19 most influential ones in Washington are deliberately staffed by conservatives, but that doesn't bother Will.)

Exhibit A is William J. Bennet....

So, Mr. Will, it is the "pull" factor that explains your conundrum. Liberal academics aren't viciously excluding conservative intellectuals who apply to teach hundreds of students a week for $45,000 a year (nowaday's entry-level salary at a good liberal arts college), after they paid $100,000 for a Ph.D. in English literature from a top-rate university and spent 8 or 9 years beyond the BA toiling away as graduate students on tiny stipends. Conservative intellectuals don't have to put up with that kind of thing (that is how they think of the privilege of teaching)...."

thought crime in America

: "...The three of us headed off to our car, with Terri and another friend trailing behind. Just as we were walking through the parking lot in front of one of entrances to JCPenny's (but still far from our car), a police van swerved around in front of us and another in back of us. We were surrounded by policemen who told us we were under arrest for failing to obey their orders to leave the mall. We tried to explain that that was what we were trying to do, but they were already putting metal handcuffs on us and warning us not to resist arrest. At the same time, our friend with the video camera, was being arrested by another set of police officers...."

Monday, November 29, 2004

The other side of the story...

The Costs of Staying the Course: "...In World War II there were 1.7 wounded for every fatality, and 2.6 in Vietnam; in Iraq the ratio of wounded to killed is 7.6. This means that if our wounded today had the same chances of survival as their fathers did in Vietnam, we would probably now have more than 3,500 deaths in the Iraq war.

Moreover, we fought those wars with much larger militaries than we currently field. The United States had 12 million active-duty personnel at the end of World War II and 3.5 million at the height of the Vietnam War, compared with just 1.4 million today. Adjusted for the size of the armed forces, the average daily number of killed and wounded was 4.8 times as many in World War II than in Iraq, but it was only 0.25 times greater in Vietnam -- or one-fourth more.

These figures suggest that our forces in Iraq face a far more serious threat than the public, the media and the political establishment typically acknowledge or understand...."

People power triumph

Ukraine president backs new poll: "Ukraine's outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has suggested staging a new poll to end the crisis over the disputed presidential election."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Credible news takes another hit

BBC news in crisis as axe hits 350 staff: "The BBC is to axe around 350 people from its news operation, around 15 per cent of staff, as part of swingeing [sic] cuts to be announced by director general Mark Thompson early next month.

The service, frequently described as being 'at the core' of the publicly-funded organisation, will be cut back as part of a purge of up to 6,000 jobs across all departments...."

This is an intelligent article worthy of a read

Last Exit Before Gas - by William S. Lind: "...But what are the neocons going to do about Iraq? The insurgency is growing, American casualties are rising, and at some point the American public will demand something better than the nonsense being mouthed by our commanders. (My favorite last week was the American general who claimed Fallujah had 'broken the back' of the insurgency. Insurgencies, like octopi, are invertebrate.)..."

Friday, November 26, 2004

Big brother just wants to make you safer

"The State Department will soon begin issuing passports that carry information about the traveler in a computer chip embedded in the cardboard cover as well as on its printed pages."

Journalism with a conscience

How refreshingly different...

Ukraine state TV in revolt: "Journalists on Ukraine's state-owned channel - which had previously given unswerving support to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych - have joined the opposition, saying they have had enough of 'telling the government's lies.'"

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A supreme court that supports the rule of law

I wonder what that would be like?

"Ukraine's highest court on Thursday blocked the inauguration of the Moscow-backed prime minister as president, putting fresh wind in the sails of his liberal opponent who has led street protests to overturn his election.

The Supreme Court rejected official publication of results that showed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich had beaten Viktor Yushchenko in a run-off election on Sunday. The ruling effectively stopped Yanukovich being sworn in as head of state.

The West-leaning Yushchenko, who says he was robbed of victory by electoral fraud, hailed the ruling as a victory...."

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Verbal smackdown on DeLay

"...There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules. Congress may make its own rules, but the public makes the rule of law, and depends for its peace on the enforcement of the law. Hypocrisy at the highest levels of government is toxic to the moral fiber that holds our communities together.

The open contempt for moral values by our elected officials has a corrosive effect. It is a sad day for law enforcement when Congress offers such poor leadership on moral values and ethical behavior. We are a moral people, and the first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt."

This could be fun

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Green Bay Press-Gazette

Iraq war claims Marine from Green Bay: "As friends and family gathered Tuesday to bury a 20-year-old soldier killed in Iraq, word filtered home that another area man had died as a result of wounds suffered in combat last week.

Family members said U.S. Marine Sgt. Benjamin Edinger, 24, of Green Bay died Tuesday at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He was wounded Nov. 14 in Iraq and evacuated to Germany before being flown to the United States."

An early thanksgiving

...for these folks, courtesy of our aquatic neighbors: Dolphins save swimmers from shark "Move over Rover, let Flipper take over. News from New Zealand suggests man's best friend is in fact the bottlenose dolphin.

It emerged yesterday that four swimmers were saved from a great white shark by a pod of altruistic dolphins, who swam in circles around them until the humans could escape...."

Tom Waits Live

Tom Waits, Hammersmith Apollo, London: "...Most rock fans are familiar with Waits' voice - a deep, phlegmatic bark that manages to effectively convey emotion during a ballad such as November while only keeping a fleeting acquaintance with anything approaching a tune - but there is still something genuinely startling about hearing it in person. Even more startling is his recently acquired habit of providing his own 'vocal percussion' during songs, by grunting, whooping, and making guttural retching noises. Live, amplified to deafening volume, and accompanied by a series of fantastic gesticulations, the effect is alternately hilarious and profoundly distressing.

He introduces the songs with a string of weirdly entrancing non-sequiturs, delivered in the oily whine of a fairground barker...."

The making of the terror myth

Psst... This is what real journalism looks like, challenging thoughts that puncture the pomposity of received myth.

(After 24 years of Dan Rather and his ilk, you can be forgiven for thinking that journalism is instead all about celebrity and patronizing the audience.)

The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear: "...During the three years in which the 'war on terror' has been waged, high-profile challenges to its assumptions have been rare. The sheer number of incidents and warnings connected or attributed to the war has left little room, it seems, for heretical thoughts. In this context, the central theme of The Power of Nightmares is riskily counter-intuitive and provocative. Much of the currently perceived threat from international terrorism, the series argues, 'is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.' The series' explanation for this is even bolder: 'In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power....'"

Translation: the 'War on Terror' = Vice Dick's wet dream.

Thanks to KFL for the link.

PS: Don't hold your breath waiting for any sort of similar public examination of the 'fear factory' here in the US of A... Given the politics of the SCLM and their constant attention to their own self-interest (fear is good for ratings), that would take a miracle and 'the GOP has outlawed miracles.'

Is this a newsflash for anybody?

Military Chiefs: Post-War Plan Lacking: "The Bush Administration did not adequately prepare for the post-war period in Iraq, the nation's top military officers told Congress Wednesday.

The four chiefs of the armed services testified to the House Armed Services Committee that while they had adequately planned for combat operations, as evidenced by the quick advance to Baghdad, the U.S. government as a whole failed to put enough effort into planning for the peace.

The military role is limited, or should be limited, in post-combat periods to security operations, they said. The lion's share of reconstruction and nation building should have been taken up by other agencies in the government."

Thanks to a loyal reader for the link.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

People Power: In Defense of Democracy

Ukraine Opposition Leader Claims Victory : "Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko defiantly claimed Ukraine's presidency Tuesday, taking a symbolic oath of office in parliament, as around 200,000 of his orange-clad supporters massed outside in the frigid streets of Kiev demanding the disputed election be overturned.

Yushchenko warned of 'civil conflict' if he is not recognized as the country's new leader, accusing the government of rigging Sunday's run-off in favor of pro-Kremlin Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

On the parliament floor, after a special session, Yushchenko approached the podium and swore an oath on a 300-year-old Bible as lawmakers who backed him shouted, 'Bravo, Mr. President!'

Outside, throngs of his supporters massed behind metal barriers, holding a giant orange ribbon over their heads. They chanted 'Criminals, go away!' and 'Yushchenko!' Some waved signs reading, 'Today or Never.' Earlier, Yushchenko led the crowds in a march on the building, turning Kiev's narrow, brick streets into a sea of orange - the color of his campaign...."

a small example....

of a much larger problem in our society -- those in power abusing postions of responsibility BYU police vs. student journalists: "...The university agreed Friday to drop charges against Clif Kelly, a reporter at BYU's NewsNet, the student media outlet. Kelly was arrested while recording video of a campus police officer issuing a jaywalking citation to another student, Karley Nelson, also a NewsNet staffer.
Kelly was charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer when he refused to put down his camera and go away as the officer writing the ticket demanded. According to university officials, Kelly interfered with the officer, Carl Whiting, and refused to identify himself.
But the tape tells a different tale...."

Monday, November 22, 2004

a REAL democratic opposition fights fraud

"Officials in several Ukrainian cities have refused to accept the ['official'] outcome of the election, and Mr Yushchenko has told supporters to stage a civil disobedience campaign."

Here is the war photog blog

...of the cameraman who caught the marine summarily executing a wounded, unarmed Iraqi in the Fallujah mosque. VERY gripping reading: Kevin Sites Blog

update: more commentary on killing the messenger here

America, the world's leader

Heck if it can happen here, why not everywhere?

Exit polls be damned... steal the election! Ukraine Thrown in Turmoil After Presidential Election

At least in Ukraine there is a functioning opposition party to protest the election thievery and possibly resist it... not so here, where the Dem 'leadership' is always so ready to 'begin the healing.'

Unser Fuehrer

Clear Channel's Bush "Our Leader" Billboard is REAL

This is entertaining

Michael Powell Exposed! The FCC Chairman Has No Clothes : "[Michael Powell] is an agenda masquerading as a man, the proverbial pompous ass and, worse, a genuine threat to freedom of speech. But on CNBC, he was playing Santa Claus. 'I am still having fun,' he said merrily, as if that were part of the job. 'There are still things that are really significantly important to me to complete. Right now, I just have no plans of going anywhere.'

That's the problem. If he were looking for places to go, I could suggest one in a snap. But it's a four-letter word and, who knows, I might end up in jail."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

we have a saying for this...

It's called 'killing the messenger.'

You could also call it denial or reality-avoidance (or has the GOP outlawed the word "reality" and replaced it with an appropriate 'faith-based' euphamism? Say, like "challenge to faith"?)

Informed Comment

"...I personally agree that there may have been extenuating circumstances regarding the shooting of a wounded Iraqi guerrilla in a mosque by a marine (wounded guerrillas often lure US troops close and then blow them up). But most people aren't good at seeing both sides of the story. If guerrillas had stacked four wounded American Marines up somewhere, and then a second set of guerrillas came in, and a guerrilla shot one of the unarmed, wounded Marines in the head on camera, I guarantee you no one in the American media would be talking about extenuating circumstances. This act would be seen as cowardly and perfidious, with no need for further investigation...."

Increase in Combat Forces Likely in Iraq, Commanders Say

"...To boost the current level, military commanders have considered extending the stay of more troops due to rotate out shortly, or accelerating the deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is scheduled to start in January. But a third option -- drawing all or part of a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division on emergency standby in the United States -- has emerged as increasingly likely...."

Diplomacy, Dubya-style

Here's a bizarre account of Dubya and his unofficial Gestapo (the SS -- Secret Service) needlessly pissing off their hosts in Chile. I ask you, does this guy think he can run the world like a a school yard bully or what?

Priorities priorities

Dubya spending some of his 'mandate' capital?:

The Senate voted 65-30 for the legislation late on Saturday that sets aside funds for a range of priorities including a presidential yacht....

PS: Didn't Saddam have one of these things? First he's got Saddam's gun in the Oval office, now he's got a 'presidential yacht...'

What next? Rape rooms? (whoops, Gitmo's got it covered).

In Falluja, Young Marines Saw the Savagery of an Urban War

"....eight days of combat for this Iraqi city, the most sustained period of street-to-street fighting that Americans have encountered since the Vietnam War. The proximity gave the fighting a hellish intensity, with soldiers often close enough to look their enemies in the eyes.

For a correspondent who has covered a half dozen armed conflicts, including the war in Iraq since its start in March 2003, the fighting seen while traveling with a frontline unit in Falluja was a qualitatively different experience, a leap into a different kind of battle...."

concern for their power trumps concern for your safety

A core of highly conservative Republicans aligned with the Pentagon moved to block a vote on a bill that would have enacted the recommendations of the 9/11 panel.

grand inquisitors

Who won the cold war?

I thought America did... then why is the GOP trying to subject us to Soviet-style government?

A carefully orchestrated climate of fear, the creation of a Gulag (in Cuba no less), imperial wars, and now the 'secret' evisceration of our liberties:

Talking Points Memo, by Joshua Micah Marshall: "...As you've probably heard, the congress is pushing through a big omnibus spending bill this weekend. And at the last minute, Republican leaders tried to slip in a provision that would give certain committee chairman and their staffers unlimited access to any American's tax return, with none of the standard privacy protections applying.

You heard that right.

They could pull anyone's tax return, read it over and do whatever they wanted with the information. Those who would have this power would be the chairs and ranking members of the senate and house appropriations committees and subcommittees and 'their designees.'

The key is that the privacy rights provisions, and criminal and civil penalties that go with them, don't apply for the appropriations committees...."

AP News

"Marine Lance Cpl. Shane Kielion was killed in action in Iraq not knowing that his first child had been born just hours before."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

News: Marine's death clarified: "The Las Vegan who died in Iraq last week was killed during an attack by insurgents, the Marines said Friday.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas H. Anderson was manning a Humvee machine gun turret when an oncoming car tried to ram the military vehicle Nov. 12 about 20 miles south of Baghdad. The Humvee swerved to avoid the car and rolled, killing the 19-year-old, the Marines said.

Within minutes insurgents attacked the rest of the platoon, the Marines said.

The Marines originally called the crash a nonhostile action but changed that designation after interviewing witnesses and learning more details...."

the state of our civil liberties...

What hath Ashcroft wrought?

Has it got to the point where librarians are now studying martial arts in self-defense?

You bet it has... check out The Kung-Fu Librarian.

Friday, November 19, 2004

"more viewers than CNN"

Televangelical tentacles: "The 700 Club has been operating under the radar of traditional journalistic scrutiny for over two decades. Anchored by Pat Robertson, he initially created it as a vehicle to promote his personal political ambitions. After his failed presidential bid in 1988, Robertson founded the Christian Coalition and embarked on an ambitious plan to influence the mainstream political agenda from the inside out.

He used The 700 Club as the marketing and political advocacy tool of this plan. The broadcast's focus is instructing viewers on how they could best lobby elected officials to enact the Christian right's agenda.

Robertson's show regularly has more viewers than CNN. And while the rest of the world wasn't watching he has been phenomenally successful in realising a three part blueprint to essentially take over all branches of the US Government...."

WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio

Ross County Soldier Wounded: "Before the fighting began in Fallujah, Helen and Denny Norris got an email from their son, Joe, serving with the Army in Iraq.

'If you read between the lines you could almost read into it he was saying goodbye just in case,' Helen Norris said.

Army Specialist Joseph Seyford faced a violent battle ahead in Fallujah. And then his parents received a call that Joe had been wounded in action.

'A guy popped up, and Joe said he was five feet from them, and he started firing at them,' his mother described.

Specialist Seyford was shot in the shoulder. He believes the bullet that went through him also killed his commanding officer...."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

What about the rule of law?

You know the GOoPer's answer: "Fuck yourself!"

Rules changed to suit needs of GOP powerful:

"Emboldened by their election success, House Republicans changed their rules yesterday to allow Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) to keep his post even if a grand jury indicts him, and Senate GOP leaders continued to weigh changing long-standing rules governing filibusters to prevent Democrats from blocking President Bush's most conservative judicial nominees."

PS: Josh Marshall has a great idea -- call your local GOP member of congress and ask if they voted to allow DeLay to keep his post even if indicted by a grand jury. All the info you need is here.

Another case of the truth suppressed for political advantage

U.S. Knew Last Year of Flu Vaccine Plant's Woes: "The Food and Drug Administration found serious problems of bacterial contamination at an influenza vaccine plant in England in 2003, 16 months before British regulators effectively closed the site and impounded its flu shots because of fears they were tainted....

The documents, which include FDA inspection reports, letters and e-mails, also revealed that the agency was nine months late in giving Chiron Corp. [of California], the owner of the plant, a detailed report of the problems it found and then rebuffed the company's efforts to learn more about what it could do to fix things. At the same time, FDA managers overruled its inspection team and made its fixes voluntary rather than mandatory.

The new information appears to undercut the agency's assertions that it had no reason to suspect that past safety problems at the plant had persisted and might threaten its huge production capacity...."

You can see once again what a high priority the health and well-being of Americans is for Dubya's regime. But who cares as long as he's a 'winner,' right?

This is a great read

Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich- and Cheat Everyone Else, by David Cay Johnston:

"This book is about the reality of how our tax system actually operates after the politicians pass the laws. The news media do a good job of telling you the official version of events and what politicians in Washington say about taxes. But I spent a lot of my career covering Washington without being there by paying attention to what actually government does, as opposed to what the politicians say that it does. And I show in this book that our tax system is not what most people think."

Thanks to Daily Howler

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Winchester Star

"Brent Knowles' excitement over hearing his son's voice on the phone was short-lived.

'I've got good news and bad news,' Marine Lance Cpl. Zak Knowles told his dad. 'The good news is I might get a Purple Heart, and the bad news is I've got a piece of metal in my arm....'"

An honest voice

"'...The media is a failing institution in this country,' [Howard] Dean said. 'They are not maintaining their responsibility to maintain democracy.'

One of the major problems Dean focused on during the talk is the media's increased focus on entertainment at the expense of investigative journalism.

'The Monica Lewinsky scandal exploded,' Dean said, 'and suddenly the way to get to the top [in media] was salacious gossip and sex scandals. There is no investigative journalism worthy of the name.'

The television networks, especially Fox News, are most to blame for the increased focus in journalism on flash and entertainment, Dean said. Dean said these networks aim to entertain because 'entertainment sells better than news.' The infamous 'scream speech,' often blamed for Dean's loss to Sen. John Kerry '66 in the Democratic primaries, was partially a media fabrication because it was appealing for its entertainment value rather than its newsworthiness, Dean said.

'The media is trained to get the entertainment value and screw the facts,' he said....

During the discussion, Dean said the media has almost completely lost its objectivity.

'You can't read a piece of newsprint very often in this country without being told what to think,' he said."...

In Texas, 28,000 Students Test an Electronic Eye

All done for their safety, of course:

...a few schools have begun monitoring student arrivals and departures using technology similar to that used to track livestock and pallets of retail shipments....
Isn't it refreshing to finally see our children valued as highly as the valuable commodities contained in retail shipment pallets or heads of cattle? Thank god for Texas!

But it's not just Texas:

Here in a growing middle- and working-class suburb just north of Houston, the effort is undergoing its most ambitious test. The Spring Independent School District is equipping 28,000 students with ID badges containing computer chips that are read when the students get on and off school buses. The information is fed automatically by wireless phone to the police and school administrators.

In a variation on the concept, a Phoenix school district in November is starting a project using fingerprint technology to track when and where students get on and off buses. Last year, a charter school in Buffalo began automating attendance counts with computerized ID badges - one of the earliest examples of what educators said could become a widespread trend....
Imagine how secure you will feel, knowing that your child's badge has been scanned and logged each and every day! Not that this answers an imminent threat, but one can never be too careful:
At the Spring district, where no student has ever been kidnapped, the system is expected to be used for more pedestrian purposes, Chief Bragg said: to reassure frantic parents, for example, calling because their child, rather than coming home as expected, went to a friend's house, an extracurricular activity or a Girl Scout meeting.

When the district unanimously approved the $180,000 system, neither teachers nor parents objected, said the president of the board....
Isn't that the scariest aspect of this entire 'big-brother' trend?

But at least this new school 'routine' will prepare the students for their future workplaces where they will have to use their ID badges to go to the bathroom:
...some companies are even thinking of tracking their employees' day-to-day exercise levels and caloric intake, according to Astro Teller, CEO of BodyMedia Inc., a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer of wearable body-monitoring devices....

"There are companies that limit employees to 15 minutes of restroom time during an eight-hour shift,"....

Although unionized employees, such as the police in Orlando, can fight the monitoring technologies, nonunion personnel have no legal recourse in the U.S., according to James T. Bennett, a professor at George Mason University who studies workplace privacy. "Employers are assumed to own any information that employees create, including information relative to their physical location," he says....
Meet the new boss, much worse than the old boss.

Need more evidence?
...Most people assume that Federal laws protect Americans from being spied upon in the workplace. To the contrary, over the years, Congress has rejected legislation spelling out basic privacy protections for employees. In fact, in many ways, employers have leeway to scrutinize Americans routinely to an extent that even police can't, unless they first go to court and obtain a warrant....
For example:
...using videotapes with no sound to get around the laws restricting wiretaps and eavesdropping. "In terms of videotaping, that's a loophole in our surveillance laws. There are no Federal laws on it. As long as they use video and are not capturing sound, they are not covered by the eavesdropping and wiretaps statutes."...

Isn't this how we got into Iraq?

"Porter J. Goss, the new intelligence chief, has told Central Intelligence Agency employees that their job is to 'support the administration and its policies in our work,'' a copy of an internal memorandum shows...."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Slapping the Other Cheek

"...somehow I'm not getting a peace, charity, tolerance and forgiveness vibe from the conservatives and evangelicals who claim to have put their prodigal son back in office.

I'm getting more the feel of a vengeful mob - revved up by rectitude - running around with torches and hatchets after heathens and pagans and infidels...."

Thanks to Wonkette

This entry almost makes up for Vice Dick:

"This site is about trampling, crushing, and smashing telephones. Our models have no mercy and take proper care of the most hated piece of modern technology. We focus on telephones but will also smash other objects, including balloons and other items. We have hundreds of pictures updated at least once a week. We also offer video files to download. Pictures are high quality, high resolution."

when is a joke not a joke?

"Reputable sources report that Bush has selected Condoleezza Rice to follow Colin Powell as secretary of state. Yes, well. . . Dissent is overrated, anyway. Are we the only ones who think that Bush's ideal cabinet would actually be made up of the Iraqi leadership council? You know: hand-picked, obedient, unfamiliar with the U.S. Constitution. . . "

more of the same dept...

back door draft

This Dubya approved adventure in Iraq just keeps getting better and better...

"The U.S. military has begun an investigation into possible war crimes after a television pool report by NBC showed a Marine shooting dead a wounded and unarmed Iraqi in a Falluja mosque, officials said on Monday."

Well no doubt that action would earn Dubya some red state votes.... but are these types of circumstances really what we want for our troops?

And how do these sort of actions -- committed in a mosque no less!?! -- and the subsequent dissemination of these images throughout the world help us win the 'war on terror'? (And please, no 'the press is to blame' babble... that is what the French said regarding torture in Algeria.)

UPDATE: more info here

Friday, November 12, 2004

why do I have to read about this...

...fear of 'morality' censorship in the US in a British newspaper?

And do you think that perhaps the censorship of the depiction of wartime violence during D-Day may have something to do with what is going on in Fallujah?... You're damn right it does!

"More than 20 American TV stations last night boycotted a Veterans Day screening of war picture Saving Private Ryan because of fears that they would be censured by a newly aggressive television regulator over the movie's violence and graphic language.

Network executives said the rebellion by affiliates of the ABC television network in Dallas, Atlanta, Phoenix and other leading markets was sparked by fears of reprisals from the Federal Communications Commission....

"We're just coming off an election where moral issues were cited as a reason by people voting one way or another and, in my opinion, the commissioners are fearful of the new congress," he said.

After the FCC refused to guarantee stations they could broadcast the film without fear of repercussion, network executives said they were taking no chances...."

American injury toll grows amid fierce resistance

"...Military officials said 18 troops had been killed in the battle for the rebel-held city west of Baghdad, with another 178 injured. Five members of Iraqi security forces have died and 34 have been wounded.

Planeloads of injured soldiers have been flown to the US military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and doctors were bracing for a further influx as the Falluja battle culminates.

Two aircraft carrying 102 injured soldiers arrived yesterday. Another 125 injured arrived earlier in the week and more were expected today...."

A Moveable Feast of Terrorism

"...The president is putting his own counsel, Alberto Gonzales, who wrote the famous memo defending torture, in charge of our civil liberties. Torture Guy, who blithely threw off 75 years of international law and set the stage for the grotesque abuses at Abu Ghraib and dubious detentions at Guantanamo, seems to have a good grasp of what's just. No doubt we'll soon learn what other protections, besides the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution, Mr. Gonzales finds 'quaint' and 'obsolete.'

With the F.B.I. investigating Halliburton and the second-term scandal curse looming, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney want a dependable ally - and former Enron attorney - at Justice...."

comical rant

Fuck the South: "...Take your liberal-bashing, federal-tax-leaching, confederate-flag-waving, holier-than-thou, hypocritical bullshit and shove it up your ass...."



Vice Dick

A thread on Free Republic celebrates the largeness of Dick Cheney's penis and potential evidence thereof. . . Granted, this is arguably the subtext of all Free Republic threads....

more of the same

"The Death of Arafat and the Myth of New Beginnings"

AARP Newspeak

Who does the AARP represent? Apparently not its members: "AARP Newspeak"

rationing healthcare

The GOP always tries to scare voters by saying that any Democratic plan to improve healthcare in this country will result in 'rationing.' Never mind the fact that millions are currently without any healthcare at all... if that's not rationing, what is? Well, here's another instance of rationing:

SPECIAL REPORT: Medicaid threatens to terminate girl's nursing care

You're only hearing about this case because the decision is so extreme, but there are hundreds of similar cases every day... but we don't 'ration' healthcare in this country, do we?

PS thanks to Atrios for the link

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

something to cheer you up least until you find out who their replacements are: Ashcroft, Evans To Leave Cabinet (

wear earphones if at work

Film Strip International

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

some common sense

I agree with Atrios here regarding the question of whether the election was stolen or not: "...A 'smoking gun' may yet appear, but until that time we need to differentiate between legitimate questions and manufactured answers...."

Let's try and remain part of the 'reality-based community' everyone. That's not to say we should bury our heads in the sand, simply that we need facts, not speculation.

Fallujah reporting

The reports from Paul Wood are particularly gripping. BBC NEWS Reporters' log: Battle for Falluja

Monday, November 08, 2004

Surprise surprise

U.S. Forces Launch Attack on Fallujah

The real surprise is the story running just beneath the Fallujah carnage on the Website: World After 9/11: Bioterrorism -- U.S. Remains Unprepared

Allow me to clarify, the content of the story is not surprising, that it is being run at all is the surprise.

Hmmm, that's funny, the story headline is different on the article page ('despite progress' is added) from the one on the front page

Get your Christmas gifts early and on-line

Saturday, November 06, 2004

How and why?

When I was a kid, the "how and why" books were among my favorites at the school library. First of all, they were interesting, encompassing many subjects so if one book didn't do it for you very likely another one would. Secondly, they didn't talk down to you, like so many books written for children, but rather spoke plainly but directly on the given topic. Third, well... there really wasn't much competition, given how limited and meager size and breadth of the grade school library collection.

When debating the 'how and why' of the latest election debacle, we should try and remain true to the principles I've identified above. First of all, we should try and take into account the wide range of possible explanations that might explain it. Secondly, we should follow Occam's razor: the simplest, most direct explanation is typically the correct one. And thirdly, we need to take into account the origin and quality of competing explanations.

Sadly, Secular Blasphemy, which can usually be counted on for provocative if not necessarily intelligent takes on issues, fails on all three counts. He fails to address all of the information that is out there, particularly the extensive exit poll data from CNN, in dismissing the importance of 'values voters' and embracing the notion the Bush won due to his on-the-job 'performance,' particularly with regard to terrorism. Secondly, in discarding what our 'lying eyes' tell us regarding the impact of religion and 'values voters,' he discards Occam's razor for an overly intellectualized analysis: in plain English, for a 'rationalization.' Thirdly, he fails to take into account the origin of the revisionist history. Listening to David Brooks is one thing, actually believing that anything he writes is not for the express purpose of pushing the 'Moralist-Leninist' line of God's Official Party (GOP) is quite another. If Brooks is pushing a line of interpretation, then you can be sure the GOP has a reason for his doing so. And in this case the GOP is terrified of the idea that people will realize that the flat-earthers won them the election, because that identifies the GOP with the anti-evolution core of their party, which is not the image they wish to project.

Now, of course, it is true that red-neck fear and loathing of a lesbian planet is what propelled Dubya to victory. But that is not the explanation that comports with the image that the GOP wants reinforced. This should not surprise us, since the same principle is at work in their depiction of the splendid little war in Iraq and the the state of the national finances: truth is sacrificed for the sake of greater good: the good of the GOP, that is.

After all, it is only the cheese-eating, wine-sipping, effete, liberal surrender-monkeys that must be tagged with unflattering stereotypes. And by swallowing--as we say in English: hook, line and sinker--the disinformation being peddled by the usual suspects, Secular Blasphemy has played a small but essential part in legitimizing the machinations of the GOP propaganda machine.

That is the how, now the why.

The usual reward of revisionism is inflated feelings of intellectual superiority. The forbidden pleasure of intellectual sin is the feeling that somehow you have uncovered a 'truth' hidden in plain sight--hence the endless allure of revisionism. This applies even if others have also shared your insight; in fact, these others help 'validate' it--just so long as the revisionist position is controversial and over-intellectualized. Add to that the malicious shadenfreude implicit in the cheap shot taken at Daily Kos for even suggesting that the Dems push back (rather than roll over and play dead) on the 'mandate' spin wars. Intellectual vanity and shadenfreude: we've got a poisonous brew steeping!

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but it is often the vanity of intellectuals that often leads to their own--unknowing--self-prostitution in the service of a far larger lie. The work of Rudyard Kipling comes to mind...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Wouldn't this be so much easier? Posted by Hello

Here's an example...

...of reframing an issue from Juan Cole.

One of the key ways of reframing issues will be to take a libertairian tact with issues involving the government: do you want the same government that you don't trust with your tax dollars...
-- to have the authority to kill people? (death penalty),
-- to dictate your medical care and second-guess your doctor (abortion),
-- to interfere with religion? (marriage)
-- or to tell you who you can love? (civil unions) etc.

Yes, perhaps they sound silly now, but do they sound any sillier than getting the goverment off you back by creating a flat tax did 10 or 20 years ago? Or labeling the estate tax the 'death tax'?

And as Cole notes, you don't have to convince everyone with these arguments, just a few hundred thousand in a few states. Also, oftentimes it isn't the fact that you have a slam dunk argument, but the fact that you have a counter-argument at all that helps folks to vote their conscience.

Meet Bubba: "...a lot of Democrats would like to see gay marriage or at least civil gay unions passed into law. This is a matter of equity, since gay partners can't even get into a hospital to see an ill partner because hospitals limit visits to close family.

This issue scares the bejesus out of the red states.

But if Democrats were sly, there is a way out. The Baptist southern presidential candidate should start a campaign to get the goddamn Federal government out of the marriage business. It has to be framed that way. Marriage should be a faith-based institution and we should turn it over to the churches. If someone doesn't want to be married in a church, then the Federal government can offer them a legal civil contract (this is a better name for it than civil union). That's not a marriage and the candidate could solemnly observe that they are taking their salvation in their own hands if they go that route, but that is their business. But marriage is sacred and the churches should be in charge of it...."

This is an interesting read

"We're all Israelis Now."

No Surrender

Krugman is right, but he doesn't go far enough. Democrats shouldn't become GOP-lite (speaking of which, would Howard Dean ever have asked for a 'time of healing'? - you're damn right he wouldn't!). Democrats need to keep up the intensity and to attack attack attack!

But they also need to create a rival intellectual infrastructure to lend coherence, direction, and a long-term perspective to the attacks. Anything less will continue to be haphazard and rudderless. It doesn't matter how many screw-ups Dubya makes (as we have just seen) if there is no coherent story available to explain why they were not just happenstance but rather natural a outgrowth of his 'Moralist-Leninism.' Only an organized and funded intellectual/broadcast counter-establishment can do that for us.

"Rather than catering to voters who will never support them, the Democrats - who are doing pretty well at getting the votes of moderates and independents - need to become equally effective at mobilizing their own base.

In fact, they have made good strides, showing much more unity and intensity than anyone thought possible a year ago. But for the lingering aura of 9/11, they would have won.

What they need to do now is develop a political program aimed at maintaining and increasing the intensity."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

'The Day the Enlightenment Went Out'

Here's another take, but I think it is incomplete.

Religious belief is not incompatible with enlightenment.

And religious belief is not what carried Bush to victory, although his identification with extremist faiths did serve as a marker of his political identity. As I see it, it is the construction of 'liberal' and 'conservative" that voters connect with, and the GOP has been skillful in crafting 'conservative' as 'religious' and 'liberal' as 'atheist.'

So it is not religion per se, but the successful (from the GOP perspective) coupling of religion to constructed political identities that have given the GOP an advantage. Folks didn't care about Darwin when they voted for FDR. The fact that they do when the vote for W is not a natural outgrowth of holding a religious faith, as Garry Wills would have it, it was engineered by years of work villifying 'liberalism' and extolling 'conservatism' as the ideology of 'ordinary religious folks.'

But then it is so much easier to just throw up your hands and say "who can reason with zealots?" Well, that's called politics, but you can't wait until six months before an election to start attempting to address people's political identities. Facts alone won't do it either. You must present a compelling counter-narrative that explains the world convincingly -- a task that no campaign no matter how large can accomplish given the fleeting nature of campaigns. That is why the Dems need an intellectual infrastructure that mirrors the GOP.

But again, who can afford to 'staff it' if it doesn't allow you to pay rent or eat? That is part of the rationale behind the GOP war on education (although the myth of the liberal universities is just that, a myth... ever speak to an economist, business school prof, or political scientist?) I myself would be glad to be a member of the counter-establishment, but volunteer work doesn't pay off my student loans, my medical bills or my rent. It's time for the Dems to put their money into some long-term investments...

"This election confirms the brilliance of Karl Rove as a political strategist. He calculated that the religious conservatives, if they could be turned out, would be the deciding factor. The success of the plan was registered not only in the presidential results but also in all 11 of the state votes to ban same-sex marriage. Mr. Rove understands what surveys have shown, that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution...."

A good first step...

...recognizing the problem:

For too long Democrats have allowed the GOP to dominate the definition of large concepts like 'liberal' or 'conservative.'

'Conservatism' today is nothing more than a form of identity politics, as exemplified by the bogus musings of David Brooks. We must fight back on the front of ideas and the framing of concepts... but alas, how can the left do so when we don't even support our own think tanks or foundations? Where are our young intellectuals supposed to come from if they cannot raise a family or afford rent as an adjunct professor or a $16/hour editor?

"Our activism kicked ass. Our ability to appeal to the center kicked ass. Our problem is that we are in the minority. Our mistake would be to start blaming individuals and creating scapegoats.

Instead of either individuals or the way we run campaigns, our problem is conservatism itself. "

This neatly sums up the GOP

Here's what one reader sent to a friend who is a member of the GOP:
Subject: Congrats

Your boy W won. Next stop world domination hooah!

I'm a straight white male I should be happy, fuck the fags, fuck the minorities, fuck the poor and fuck every country but the US.

Wow, that was liberating. much better.


your swing voter

In short, the GOP's message to everyone else (in the words of Vice Dick):


Get ready for a lot more of the same.

A day late and a dollar short

Here is some honest talk from the SCLM about Bush and Cheney... too late to do any good, of course.

I am not a fan of Maureen Dowd. She is a poster child for media whoredom, trivializing the serious and seriously misinforming those who seek infotainment rather than information. Don't forget how she led the pack during the impeachment and the media pillorying of Al Gore (earth tones, inventing the Internet, pathological liar etc).

Reading this you might be forgiven for thinking that she may be showing remorse (but no, there is a dig at Hillary Clinton at the end... leopards don't change their spots). I doubt she realizes what her past fellow-traveling with the Moralist-Leninists has helped contribute to.

It is still bracing reading nonetheless -- and she is dead right, there is no 'healing' with these gangsters -- but it comes too late to help. Where were these common sense observation from the rest of the 'so-called liberal media' while BushCo was committing all these atrocities?

With the Democratic Party splattered at his feet in little blue puddles, John Kerry told the crushed crowd at Faneuil Hall in Boston about his concession call to President Bush.

"We had a good conversation," the senator said. "And we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need, the desperate need, for unity, for finding the common ground, coming together. Today I hope that we can begin the healing."

Democrat: Heal thyself.

W. doesn't see division as a danger. He sees it as a wingman.

The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule. He doesn't want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel.

W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq - drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or "values voters," as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

Mr. Bush, whose administration drummed up fake evidence to trick us into war with Iraq, sticking our troops in an immoral position with no exit strategy, won on "moral issues."

The president says he's "humbled" and wants to reach out to the whole country. What humbug. The Bushes are always gracious until they don't get their way. If W. didn't reach out after the last election, which he barely grabbed, why would he reach out now that he has what Dick Cheney calls a "broad, nationwide victory"?

While Mr. Bush was making his little speech about reaching out, Republicans said they had "the green light" to pursue their conservative agenda, like drilling in Alaska's wilderness and rewriting the tax code.

"He'll be a lot more aggressive in Iraq now," one Bush insider predicts. "He'll raze Falluja if he has to. He feels that the election results endorsed his version of the war." Never mind that the more insurgents American troops kill, the more they create.

Just listen to Dick (Oh, lordy, is this cuckoo clock still vice president?) Cheney, introducing the Man for his victory speech: "This has been a consequential presidency which has revitalized our economy and reasserted a confident American role in the world." Well, it has revitalized the Halliburton segment of the economy, anyhow. And "confident" is not the first word that comes to mind for the foreign policy of a country that has alienated everyone except Fiji.

Vice continued, "Now we move forward to serve and to guard the country we love." Only Dick Cheney can make "to serve and to guard" sound like "to rape and to pillage."

He's creating the sort of "democracy" he likes. One party controls all power in the country. One network serves as state TV. One nation dominates the world as a hyperpower. One firm controls contracts in Iraq....

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


"The people who voted George Bush and the Republicans into office this year didn't do so because they were conned by a right wing asshole posing as a compassionate centrist. They did so precisely because he is a right wing asshole. Yes, the modern Republican party consists of nasty bigots and liars and the media rarely bothers to point out just how nasty they are (all the talking heads talking about the role of 'moral values' in the election know that what that really means is 'fag hating,' but they won't say it). But, don't be fooled - people know what they voted for."

On the other hand... can't win unless you fight.

What is wrong with the Dem leadership? Why are they so eager to accept defeat?

"Let the healing begin"?!?

You don't say that when you've been spit upon, had your rights trampled, and ideals desecrated.

LET THE 'CULTURE WAR' BEGIN! The other side has had a long head start so it's time we fought back -- for a change.

Ohio holds fate of presidency

There is a reason Bush is trying to claim 'victory'... Right now, whoever wins Ohio wins -- period.

And our odds for winning Ohio are not bad. If prior historical patterns hold, then Kerry will be president:
Bush is currently leading in Ohio by 136,221

If there are 250,000 provisional ballots outstanding. The highest number I've seen.

And 90% of those ballots are good, as they were in 2000. That leaves 225,000 votes.

If 85% of those ballots prove to be for Kerry, about the number that Gore got in 2000. That leaves us with 191,250, giving us a lead of 55,029.

If there are only 200,000 provisionals, following the same calculation would leave us with a lead of 16,779....
I am actually a lot more hopeful now then when I went to bed earlier this morning. Looks like we have a good shot at returning the favor from 2000 -- an electoral college win despite a loss in the popular vote. Hence, Bush's hastiness in trying to claim victory. It didn't work in Iraq in 2003, and it ain't gonna work in America in 2004.

But it will take time to count all the provisional ballots. I think the GOP Ohio Sec of State said they would not even start for another ten days. The Bush election strategy from 2000 continues: delay results and deny votes.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Democracy Starts at Home

Exercise your right to vote!

And vote for the party that values Democracy, both overseas and at HOME!

all you ever wanted to know...

...about exit polls

Friday, October 29, 2004

October surprise?

Only if you haven't been paying attention the last three years... after all, he never was caught, dead or alive...

"The Other Shoe Drops: Bin Laden Weighs in":

"Bin Laden suggested Bush was slow to react to the Sept. 11 attacks, giving the hijackers more time than they expected. At the time of the attacks, the president was listening to schoolchildren in Florida reading a book.

'It never occurred to us that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his citizens in the two towers to face these horrors alone,' he said, referring to the number of people who worked at the World Trade Center.

`It appeared to him (Bush) that a little girl's talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers. That gave us three times the required time to carry out the operations, thank God,' he said."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Did Bush botched hunt for Osama?

Is there even a question?

"Look at the lede of this Washington Post article from April 17, 2002 ...
The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.

That really says it all."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004



How the media betray us

Sad but true, but Kerry at least has wised up in a way Gore never did, that the only way to 'level the playing field' with the bogus media that sets the discourse in this country is to start making shit up:

How to Make Bush Play Defense: "Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry appears to have finally embraced one of the more sordid truths of modern political campaigning: The best way to control the message of the day is to force your opponent to respond to a basically groundless attack.

The Bush campaign and its allies have arguably done this on and off since March. Consider, for instance, that Kerry lost most of August responding to Swift-Boat allegations...."

What the...?

I've heard of battle chess, but LoveChess?!?

Monday, October 18, 2004

faith or foolishness

another selection from "Without a Doubt":
"'Faith can cut in so many ways,' he said. 'If you're penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves. That can be a powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it's designed to certify our righteousness -- that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There's no reflection.'

'Where people often get lost is on this very point,' he said after a moment of thought. 'Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not -- not ever -- to the thing we as humans so very much want.'

And what is that?

'Easy certainty.'"

question of the day

Are you reality-based or faith-based?:

"In the summer of 2002, after I [Ron Suskind] had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"