Saturday, December 31, 2005

Why will 06 and 08 be different?

The Sideshow links to this Ghosts in the Voting Machines which gives a good account of recent news on the fraudulent elections of 00 and 04.

Kerry, apparently, tells Mark Crispin Miller that he believes the election was stolen and then later Kerry’s staffers deny he did.

If you are hoping for a long shot congressional sweep in 06 to save us from Bush/Cheney then you better hope for candidates, especially in key states, that are prepared to overcome the Rove vote fraud machine. Otherwise you can count on lots of narrow wins contrary to exit polls that continue the Republican majorities in both houses.

Mainstream media and most celebrity bloggers refuse to cover this issue because they are afraid of being ridiculed by Republicans and of losing their treasured, occasional chances to be on TV and celebrity panels. Talking about vote fraud determining the 00 and 04 elections means you will not be taken seriously by the insiders and above all entrance to the serious halls of inside is what so many apparently want above all else.

My guess is that lots of battles, large and small, have been decided by one party or another's fear of embarrassment and marginalization.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The disappearance of ice

The real story of our life times may not be that we stood idly by while our country quietly became a fascist-like state ruled by the fabulously wealthy corporate and media elites, while privileged Democrats sold their souls for a seat in the plutocracy. The real story may be that we all stood idly by while global warming became irreversible, natural ice disappeared, Katrina sized storms became the norm and it became clear that Earth would soon be uninhabitable.

It is on us, all Americans, that we tolerate the Bush regime and do not throw them into the street. We allow them to torture, wage criminal war, and abet the destruction of the habitability of the planet essentially unchallenged. It is not that we don’t know. We do. We all do.

Here’s a few paragraphs from “The Coming Meltdown” in the current New York Review of Books. The article is available in its entirety on line.

Climate change somehow seems unable to emerge on the world stage for what it really is: the single biggest challenge facing the planet, the equal in every way to the nuclear threat that transfixed us during the past half-century and a threat we haven't even begun to deal with. The coverage of Katrina's aftermath, for instance, was scathing in depicting the Bush administration's incompetence and cronyism; but the President —and his predecessors—were spared criticism for their far bigger sin of omission, the failure to do anything at all to stanch the flood of carbon that America, above all other nations, pours into the atmosphere and that is the prime cause of the great heating now underway. Though Bush has been egregious in his ignorance about climate change, the failure to do anything about it has been bipartisan; Bill Clinton and Al Gore were grandly rhetorical about the issue, but nonetheless presided over a 13 percent increase in America's carbon emissions….

… “Scientists are by training and nature conservative and...have probably underestimated our impact. Fifty years from now—I hope I'm wrong—I think you may be living in a world where you don't go outside between one and four in the afternoon.”…

…Every time she corners a scientist —the veteran Oxford environmental researcher Norman Meyers, the great diver and marine biologist Sylvia Earle, the eminent conservationist Russell Mittermeier—she asks, "Are humans a suicidal species?" They mostly dismiss her question with some reassuring words to the effect that we can still make up our minds to do better. But in fact it's a question that in some way or another needs to be near the center of our public debates. It rose for the first time in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; for a while, many people seemed to expect an Armageddon-like nuclear exchange, and then they seemed to discount the possibility. The attacks on New York and Washington at the beginning of this millennium have raised the question of our being a suicidal species again. …

The last paragraph:

…It is hard not to approach this year's oncoming winter in an elegiac mood, with the testimony of Thompson's ice cores and the Arctic sea ice data and Ehrlich's account making the season's natural and lovely darkness seem suddenly somber. We are forced to face the fact that a century's carelessness is now melting away the world's storehouses of ice, a melting whose momentum may be nearing the irreversible. It's as if we were stripping the spectrum of a color, or eradicating one note from every octave. There are almost no words for such a change: it's no wonder that scientists have to struggle to get across the enormity of what is happening.

It's now or never. For another angle on the mysterious bubble of complacency we live in, check out Roshi Bob.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

On the edge

If you are terrified about finances and think you are in that position because of unique personal failures, it is very likely not your fault and you are not alone..

I saw this Harvard Magazine article, “The Middle Class on the Precipice” on 3 Quarks Daily.

Here’s the first paragraphs:
During the past generation, the American middle-class family that once could count on hard work and fair play to keep itself financially secure has been transformed by economic risk and new realities. Now a pink slip, a bad diagnosis, or a disappearing spouse can reduce a family from solidly middle class to newly poor in a few months.

Middle-class families have been threatened on every front. Rocked by rising prices for essentials as men’s wages remained flat, both Dad and Mom have entered the workforce—a strategy that has left them working harder just to try to break even. Even with two paychecks, family finances are stretched so tightly that a very small misstep can leave them in crisis. As tough as life has become for married couples, single-parent families face even more financial obstacles in trying to carve out middle-class lives on a single paycheck. And at the same time that families are facing higher costs and increased risks, the old financial rules of credit have been rewritten by powerful corporate interests that see middle-class families as the spoils of political influence.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Anti labor liberals

I have well educated friends that on most issues are liberal or progressive Democrats, but when it comes to labor and particularly strikes or other job actions, they almost always line up on the anti side. They resent it when workers are able to negotiate favorable contracts from a position of strength instead of accepting gratefully whatever is offered. When it comes to talking about tenured teachers they become apoplectic.

Anti labor liberals resent it when working people without college degrees earn good wages, have good benefits and job security. In truth, they want a compliant working class that oozes gratitude, knows its place, values the leadership of company owners (especially liberal ones), willingly and bravely fight wars that further enrich the rich and never challenge the covert boundaries of class and race.

The very best (and passionate) coverage of the Transit Workers’ Strike came from Steve Gilliard. Go here and root around and you will find clear, bluntly reported truths unavailable anywhere else.

Atrios, today, also takes a big step toward pulling the truth about pensions out of the swampy ignorance that obscures the issues.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Court gesture

Dec 23, 2005 — MILAN (Reuters) - A Milan court has issued a European arrest warrant for 22 CIA agents suspected of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric from the city in 2003, a judicial source said on Friday.

Milan magistrates suspect that a team of 22 CIA agents grabbed Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr off a Milan street and flew him for interrogation to Egypt, where he was reportedly tortured.
This is the entire bulletin, but here is the link.

It’s not likely that we will ever see the 22 lined up in front of the judge. But it’s a nice holiday gesture on the part of the Milan court.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nothing sticks

In case you harbored hopes that being caught illegally spying on us would bring Bush down here's some sobering thoughts on what is likely to happen:

The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his 'resolve' and toughness. Congressional hearings might revive the issue momentarily, and bloggers will hammer away at it, but the initial hype is all the Democrat leadership and the media can muster, and anyway, it's never as juicy the second time around...

Rinse and repeat.

It's a battle of attrition that Bush and his team have mastered. Short of a major Dem initiative to alter the cycle, to throw a wrench into the system, to go after the media institutionally, this cycle will continue for the foreseeable future.
Link via Atrios.

The cycle continues because Americans will swallow anything so long as it comes from the right and the rich.

Will oil shale save the day?

Some of us keep the vague recollection of trillions of tons of oil shale, waiting in Colorado to be exploited, tucked away in our minds as a kind of happy place retreat when the realities of peak oil intrude and frighten us. The truth may be that ounce for ounce coal shale may contain less energy than a pop tart.

Here’s the last three paragraph from this article, “Oil shale may be fool's gold” by Randy Udall and Steve Andrews:

Americans love panaceas. We want thinner thighs in 30 days, a pill to cure baldness, an ultrasonic carburetor that will double our mileage. A magic wand would be nice, because the nation faces serious energy challenges. Since domestic oil production peaked 30 years ago, the need for energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy has been obvious. Instead, like an addict on a binge, we continue to pursue a policy of "strength through exhaustion." Drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before improving our woeful vehicle efficiency is one example of this brain-dead approach.

What contribution can oil shale make to energy security? Producing 100,000 barrels per day of shale oil does not violate the laws of physics. But the nation currently consumes that much oil every seven minutes. Improving the efficiency of our automobiles by 2 miles per gallon would save 10 times as much fuel, saving consumers $100 billion at the pump. The National Academy of Sciences has stated that cars, trucks and SUVs that get 30, 40 or 50 miles per gallon are doable. An aggressive national commitment to fuel efficiency is not optional, it's inevitable. In time, a more efficient fleet could save 20 times as much petroleum as oil shale is likely to ever provide.

All hype aside, oil shale is the poorest of the fossil fuels, containing far less energy than crude oil, much less even than hog manure, peat moss or Cap'n Crunch. A meager amount of energy, tightly bound up in an enormous volume of rock, oil shale seems destined to remain an elusive bonanza, the petroleum equivalent of fool's gold.

Bears drowning

Scientists have for the first time found evidence that polar bears are drowning because climate change is melting the Arctic ice shelf.
From 3 Quarks Daily via noutopia.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A brave, small union holds the line alone for all of us

I support the striking New York City transit workers and denounce the unfair coverage of the strike by the mainstream media. I am appalled by some Democrats, including the always politically expedient Hillary Clinton, who have chosen to remain “neutral” instead of courageously supporting the strikers.

Once Democrats were proud to be pro labor.

People who work should be unanimous in their support of this brave and traditionally militant union. They have chosen to hold the line on protecting pensions and healthcare for workers and have refused to cave in and accept a contract that will deliver more profits to a tiny, fantastically privileged minority. Everyone but the ultra rich should recognize that a strong union standing up for wages and benefits protects the well being of all of us; sets a comparative standard that strengthens labor bargaining positions as well as wage standards for those not organized.

In coverage of the strike it is especially disgusting to see billionaire leaders, like Bloomberg, denouncing the “greed” of workers who start at $34,000 a year. Try living in NYC on $34,000.

You can’t find fair coverage of the strike in the New York media. For a refreshing, pro worker view, try this article, “New York City transit workers defy threats and strike” from the World Socialist Web Site. When you've read it draw your own conclusions about which coverage is more credible.

Here are a few paragraphs:
...The walkout represents the biggest class confrontation in the US in a generation. The issues at stake are not peculiar to transport workers or public employees, but reflect the general drive to destroy wages, working conditions and benefits of workers throughout the economy, from the airlines to the auto industry.

This strike was by no means something the union bureaucracy wanted. It has been provoked by the MTA as part of a wider strategy to slash spending on public employee compensation. Within New York’s ruling establishment, a conscious decision has been taken to make an example of the TWU.

On the part of transit workers, however, frustration over declining living standards in what is one of the world’s most expensive cities and anger at systematic disciplinary abuse by the MTA have been joined by a deep-felt resistance to the agency’s attempts to wipe out gains won by workers through decades of struggle.

The key issue that has forced the strike is management’s demand for a roll-back of pension rights, forcing newly hired workers to stay on the job until age 62, instead of the current 55, before collecting a pension. No similar demand for pension givebacks has been made against any other public employee union in the city, and the ultimatum has provoked particular anger among transit workers, whose life expectancy is among the lowest of any section of the workforce.

This confrontation has laid bare the immense class divide in New York City, the center of world finance capital. In the run-up to the walkout, the public has been subjected to the spectacle of various billionaires—from Michael Bloomberg, who bought his way into City Hall, to MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow, a prominent real estate mogul, to Rupert Murdoch, owner of the New York Post—denouncing workers who start at salaries of $34,000 for their “greed.”

Bloomberg demanded that transit workers face a “new world” in which pensions and health care costs are to be paid by the workers themselves, so that the savings can be funneled into the immense profits and incomes of the social class that he personifies....

Personal note: My own union, Local 333, a New York boatmen’s independent affiliate of the International Longshoremen, was brought to its knees by tactics later shown to be illegal, in a strike in 1985. Throughout my career, tugboat men I met in ports everywhere said 333 set the wage standard for all ports and that it was fear of our union that kept their wages, union and non union, higher than they would be without us. The companies knew this and knew how important it was to break us so wages and benefits could be made lower throughout the industry.

If you are inconvenienced by this strike, I urge you to look beyond personal difficulty and support these brave working people.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Setting the stage for 06 vote fraud

Alter has a Newsweek article excerpted below that suggests how important the 2006 congressional elections will be.

Bush’s Snoopgate

The president was so desperate to kill The New York Times’ eavesdropping story, he summoned the paper’s editor and publisher to the Oval Office. But it wasn’t just out of concern about national security...

Then, down near the end of the article there is this paragraph which underscores the importance of the 2006 elections.
...This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.

To ensure there is no impeachment, you can be sure the right wing vote fraud engine will be going full force in key congressional elections throughout the country.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Still king

From Josh Marshall:
According to the original Times article and subsequent reports, the president's authority to override statute law comes from the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing the force to destroy al Qaida.

By that reasoning the president must also be empowered to override the new law banning the use of torture, thus making the McCain Amendment truly a meaningless piece of paper.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Above the law

Our latest belief to be revealed as a delusion is the notion that we live in nation governed by the rule of law. As we all know now, Bush authorized secret, illegal spying on citizens following 9/11. Is anyone surprised at this? Some Senators act as if they are shocked by this but we all know that they know that the Bush war criminals have been doing whatever they damn well please and to hell with law all along.

We also all know in our heart of hearts that the “agreement” between Bush and McCain about rules governing treatment of prisoners is not worth a damn. It too is a charade and Bush and Cheney will allow and encourage torture of whomever whenever it pleases them. That’s what fascists do. They are above the law. Laws, treaties and agreements exist only to advance an agenda, placate the public and provide the complicit media with raw material to build cover.

McCain’s part in the drama is aimed solely at bolstering his presidential gambit, something to conceal the actual nonsense behind his media generated myth of tough guy straight shooter who acts on principle. McCain is only a couple of shades less slimy than Bush and the two together generated as slippery a slime fest as you could find. You can be sure those guys strung up, stretched out, toes barely touching the floor are not going to be spared one single water board session by this agreement. It means nothing.

Since the courts, from the Supremes on down, are being packed with right wing maniacs, confidence that we live in a country that delivers fair due process for everyone is about as valid as belief in the tooth fairy.

Here are some links to check out. Domestic Spying Criminal Penalties and Civil Liability and Did Bush Sell Us a Bill of Goods on Torture?

Update: And be sure to check out these Atrios Posts at Eschaton: This one and this one.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Vote fraud 2004

Here's an article on vote fraud from the same (Project Censored) site linked in the torture post below.

No Paper Trail Left Behind: the Theft of the 2004 Presidential Election*

The article includes a handy list anomalies favoring Bush. Here's the last two:

15) The National Election Pool’s exit polls13 were so far off that since their inception twenty years ago, they have never been this wrong, more wrong than statistical probability indicates is possible.

16) In every single instance where exit polls were wrong the discrepancy favored Bush, even though statistical probability tells us that any survey errors should show up in both directions. Half a century of polling and centuries of mathematics must be wrong.

These paragraphs come from the second half of the article
...An obvious question here is: why haven’t the Democrats been more vigorous in their objections to this fraud? The fact that they haven’t objected more (with a few notable individual exceptions) has been taken by some as definitive evidence that no fraud must have happened because the Democrats have the most to gain from objecting. In part the answer to this puzzle is that the Democrats don’t fully understand what has hit them. ...

...The Democrats’ meek acceptance of other races’ extremely peculiar outcomes prior to the 2004 elections illustrates this point further. As a result of the 2000 Florida debacle, Congress passed the “Help America Vote” Act in October 2002. While this act introduced a number of reasonable reforms, it also resulted in the widespread introduction of paperless electronic voting machines. This meant that there was no way to determine if the votes recorded by these computers were accurate and tamper-free. The GOP majority has blocked efforts subsequently by a few Democratic Congresspeople, led by Michigan Rep. John Conyers, to rectify this and ensure a paper ballot....

...The delicious irony for the GOP is that the Help America Vote Act, precipitated by their theft of the Florida 2000 presidential vote, made GOP theft of elections as in the preceding examples easy and unverifiable except through recourse to indirect analysis such as pre-election polls and exit polls.38 This is the political equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. Or, more precisely: stealing elections, running the country, and aggressively, arrogantly and falsely claiming that “the people” support it.

Link to all of the above where there is much, much more.

Oppose Torture, all the time, everywhere

No matter how finely the Bush regime splits the hairs to cover their criminal activities, torture is torture. We know what it is and we know our government is doing it.

It is our duty to oppose torture, all the time, everywhere.

Here’s an article I saw first in my local newspaper, The Pocono Record, and found on line by googling “Project Censorsed.”

Hard Evidence of US Torturing Prisoners to Death Ignored by Corporate Media
By Peter Phillips

Military autopsy reports provide indisputable proof that detainees are being tortured to death while in US military custody. Yet the US corporate media are covering it with the seriousness of a garage sale for the local Baptist Church.A recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posting of one of forty-four US military autopsy reports reads as follows: "Final Autopsy Report: DOD 003164, (Detainee) Died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation as evidenced by the recently fractured hyoid bone in the neck and soft tissue hemorrhage extending downward to the level of the right thyroid cartilage. Autopsy revealed bone fracture, rib fractures, contusions in mid abdomen, back and buttocks extending to the left flank, abrasions, lateral buttocks. Contusions, back of legs and knees; abrasions on knees, left fingers and encircling to left wrist. Lacerations and superficial cuts, right 4th and 5th fingers. Also, blunt force injuries, predominately recent contusions (bruises) on the torso and lower extremities. Abrasions on left wrist are consistent with use of restraints. No evidence of defense injuries or natural disease. Manner of death is homicide. Whitehorse Detainment Facility, Nasiriyah, Iraq."

The ACLU website further reveals how: "a 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was "undetermined" although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death.

Another Iraqi detainee died on January 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, while being interrogated. He was standing, shackled to the top of a doorframe with a gag in his mouth, at the time he died. The cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force injuries.

So read several of the 44 US military autopsy reports on the ACLU website -evidence of extensive abuse of US detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan 2002 through 2004. Anthony Romero, Executive Director of ACLU stated, "There is no question that US interrogations have resulted in deaths." ACLU attorney Amrit Sing adds, "These documents present irrefutable evidence that US operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogations."...

For the rest of the article follow the Link

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

License to kill

Hunters shot a new state record 4,123 black bears in the state's recently concluded bear season, according to the preliminary reports by the Pennsylvania Game Commission

A 733 pound male was the largest bear killed in Pennsylvania.

New Jersey Bear Hunt Ends With 280 Kills

About 280 bears were killed in New Jersey's six-day hunt aimed at thinning out the burgeoning population, which ended with more than 100 protesters waiting for hunters to emerge from the woods with their kills.

The hunt ended shortly after dusk Saturday with fewer bears killed than the 328 bagged in 2003, according to preliminary figures.

Black bears, once near extinction in the state, are now a common sight, menacing people, scampering through yards and rummaging in trash.

I know reasonable resolution of the conflict between people and wild animals is a complicated issue, but there ought to be a better way than letting people pay for the joy of killing something. Bears come by here regularly. They pass through, going about bear business and agitating the dogs. Once, a bear tore a board off the side of our house. Now and then I’ve had to get up in the night to drag a barking dog out from under a treed bear. But mostly, we stay out of each other’s way.

It would give me no pleasure to kill a bear. 40 years ago I lost the ability to understand killing for pleasure and it still amazes me to see so many that think of it as fun. The way I see it, killing animals to make more room for people ought to be generally considered an odious task, like hauling trash or digging graves, and should require high pay to get someone to do it. But then there’s a huge amount of industry, from boots to guns, dedicated to feeding the illusion of wilderness for pretend woodsman. Truth is, there is no wilderness, only parks; no woodsmen, only dressed up folks from the suburbs; no wild animals, only semi tame deer eating the shrubs and bears looking for a box of donuts.

Election opiate

We don’t stand a chance of getting rid of this neo fascist regime because we still think the president is chosen by an election. This belief in elections is delusional, an opiate the plutocrats, including their tools in the mainstream media, use to tranquilize voters into a malleable wad.

Both election 2000 and 2004 were stolen and it is likely key congressional elections in 2006 will be stolen as well. A right wing coup took place in 2000 and since then the right has tweaked its election fraud engine to near perfection. Until we address that reality we are simple participants in a scripted exercise in make believe that provides an illusion of legitimacy to those who remain in power.

For more, visit The Sideshow here and here

From The Sideshow

Understand that this problem extends right into the liberal blogosphere. At the Daily Kos, it's an official policy that there was no fraud in the ballot-count and you pretty much can't even talk about whether the 2004 election was stolen. DKos is a terrific site for interested Democratic activists (and other aficionados of blogs), but they just won't entertain the possibility that the election was stolen, despite the copious evidence. It's one thing to say that it probably wasn't, but frankly it defies sanity to refuse to consider the possibility, and in this Bai and Kos are in harmony - they'd rather not know.

and visit The Huffington Post here for an interview with Mark Crispin Miller.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Press corpse

Every lefty knows the mainstream media has been largely absorbed into the reigning class of the plutocracy. But it never hurts to be reminded of just how diligently they labor to keep the wad of American voters comfortably deluded and how corrupt they have become.

Here’s a quote from Digby:

The DC press corps has no idea how they look to the rest of the country after more than a decade of running with GOP trumped up scandals, pimping for impeachment, trivializing the effects of an unorthodox presidential election in 2000, and then saluting smartly and following Dick Cheney over the cliff on Iraq. We liberals never thought of the press as particularly partisan. We thought of it as competent or incompetent. But for a lot of reasons, for the last 15 years the DC press corps have far too often aligned themselves with a manipulative GOP political establishment to the point where it's been hard to see where one ends and the other begins. It's not a matter of political preference. It's insiderism. And when you become an insider in a corrupt system, for money, access, fame, fun whatever ... you become corrupt yourself.

Via Atrios

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Something to vote for

Bernie Sanders gave an interview published in The Progressive. Here's one question and response.

Q: So what’s your message to progressives?

Sanders: We have got to change the political culture in America. We need a political revolution. That means we are working on politics not just three weeks before an election but 365 days a year. We have to develop a strong economic message which says every American is entitled to health care through a national health care program. And we’re not going to allow these large corporations to push through trade agreements which allow them to throw Americans out on the street and run to China. We’re not going to give tax breaks to billionaires and then cut back on the needs of our elderly or poor or kids or education. We’re not going to privatize Social Security—in fact, we’re going to strengthen it. We’re going to provide quality education for every kid in America, from preschool through college. We have to take on these corporate leaders who are selling out the American people, whose allegiance is now much more to China than it is to the United States. If we have the courage to take these people on, I think we can overwhelm Bush and his friends.

Here's where the rest is: Link

Via Kos

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sadistic, small minded little prick

Let's not forget then Governor Bush's mocking Karla Faye Tucker shortly before her execution in Texas.

"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

Go read the whole reminisence. It recalls what should never be forgotten, a Bush defining moment. Read also this post on Altercation where I found the link to the Timothy Noah Slate article linked above and here.

Thumbs up; thumbs down


...Clemency has long been intertwined with politics.

Gov. Pat Brown, who in the 1950s and '60s commuted 23 death sentences, more than any California governor, acknowledged that he once let an inmate die in the gas chamber to get a minimum-wage bill through the Legislature.

The issue is never the issue.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Status report

Just to keep things straight, here’s a brief status report.

Rumsfeld and Cheney are crazy. Condi is ambitious and semi smart but thinks mostly of her shoes and loves to travel. Bush is an ill tempered fool who is over his head and shitting his pants terrified the world is going to find out.

We torture prisoners. We invade a country that poses no threat to us and sell the imperialistic quest for control of oil to the public with lies designed to frighten us. We maintain a Gulag of fewer, but more widely scattered prisons than the Soviet archipelago version, perhaps more disturbing because their existence reveals a disdain for our fundamental principles.

Our government comes to power through election fraud. Fraud friendly Republican developed computer voting technology continues proliferate. Leading Democrats still talk about being “bipartisan”. Hillary wants to stop flag burning. The New York Times, that helped us into all of the above, is still referred to as liberal. Lots of people watch O’Reilly. NPR has been taken over by the right.

Go here, to noutopia, read the posts and scroll down to the cartoon.

Condi: torture ok because they're different

Condi justifies torture. ABC story.

Without mentioning any country by name, Rice acknowledged special handling for certain terrorists.

"The captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice, which were designed for different needs. We have had to adapt," Rice said.

This is the ultimate bullshit excuse. One used, in one way or another, by every criminal regime to allow for everything from genocide to torture. Give a name to a group, disenfranchise them, propagandize how they are different, with "different needs" and then, once dehumanized, slaughter them or torture them, or whatever.

You would think Europeans would be too sensitive to this rationalization to fall for it. The Sportsmen for Bush fascist base, of course, are all for it.


Condi says the U.S. does not use torture. What she means by the word "torture" and what the rest of us mean by it are very different.

From Reuters: CIA prisons in Europe closed in November: ABC News

...ABC News cited intelligence officers as saying that Rice could say that because of a presidential finding that approved "enhanced interrogation techniques," which the United States has said are not torture. These include sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

...ABC cited its sources as saying that the al Qaeda suspects being held are regularly subjected to these interrogation techniques.

In the report on the Web site, ABC cited sources as saying that of the suspects held by the CIA, only one, Ramzi bin al-Shaibah, a suspected coordinator of the September 11, 2001 attacks, did not require water boarding before he talked.

The report said al-Shaibah broke down in tears after he was walked past the cell of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the attacks on the United States. The sources were cited as saying a visibly shaken al-Shaibah started to cry and became cooperative.

So, just what kind of shape was Khalid in that simply seeing him reduced al-Shaibah to tears?

War criminals all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

One good man

Condoning torture is all the evidence anyone should need to recognize an outlaw regime. Fortunately there are still some good guys close to the center of power.

Here’s an account of Marine General Peter Pace contradicting war criminal Rumsfeld’s comments on torture. Link

The nation's top military man, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, said American troops in Iraq have a duty to intercede and stop abuse of prisoners by Iraqi security personnel.

When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld contradicted Pace, the general stood firm.

Rumsfeld told the general he believed Pace meant to say the U.S. soldiers had to report the abuse, not stop it.

Pace stuck to his original statement.

"If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it," Pace told his civilian boss.
Pace takes all the ambiguity out of the issue and makes it pretty simple for the troops and anyone else for that matter. Just basic ethics and good sense.

via Kos

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Salvador option.

Basically the Salvador option for Iraq is one that encourages the Shiite dominated, U.S. supported army and irregulars to torture and kill Sunni's, innocent or not. This policy is an American tradition orginally developed for use in Latin America where our boys led and participated in well documented slaughters and torture fests.

Here's a Newsweek article, "The Salvador Option" from January 14, 2005:

...Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras. There is no evidence, however, that Negroponte knew anything about the Salvadoran death squads or the Iran-Contra scandal at the time. The Iraq ambassador, in a phone call to NEWSWEEK on Jan. 10, said he was not involved in military strategy in Iraq. He called the insertion of his name into this report "utterly gratuitous.")

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK. ...

Here's an article from the Covert Action Quartly, Summer 1990: "Death Squads in El Salvador: A Pattern of U.S. Complicity"

First paragraphs:

In 1963, the U.S. government sent 10 Special Forces personnel to El Salvador to help General Jose Alberto Medrano set up the Organizacion Democratica Nacionalista (ORDEN)-the first paramilitary death squad in that country. These Green Berets assisted in the organization and indoctrination of rural "civic" squads which gathered intelligence and carried out political assassinations in coordination with the Salvadoran military.

Now, there is compelling evidence to show that for over 30 years, members of the U.S. military and the CIA have helped organize, train, and fund death squad activity in El Salvador.

In the last eight years, six Salvadoran military deserters have publicly acknowledged their participation in the death squads. Their stories are notable because they not only confirm suspicions that the death squads are made up of members of the Salvadoran military, but also because each one implicates U.S. personnel in death squad activity. ...

From the final paragraphs:

...Carlos Antonio Gomez Montano was a paratrooper stationed at Ilopango Air Force Base. He claimed to have seen eight Green Beret advisers watching two "torture classes" during which a 17-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were tortured. Montano claimed that his unit and the Green Berets were joined by Salvadoran Air Force Commander Rafael Bustillo and other Salvadoran officers during these two sessions in January 1981. A Salvadoran officer told the assembled soldiers, "[watching] will make you feel more like a man.''

Above are the accounts of the death squad deserters. Non military sources have also reported the participation of U.S. personnel. For example, another (highly placed anonymous civilian) source maintained that Armed Forces General Staff Departments 2 and 5 (organized with help from U.S. Army Colonel David Rodriguez, a Cuban-American) used tortures such as beating, burning and electric shock. U.S. involvement has also been asserted in sworn accounts by some victims of torture. Jose Ruben Carrillo Cubas, a student, gave testimony that during his detention by the Long Distance Reconnaissance Patrol (PRAL) in 1986, a U.S. Army Major tortured him by applying electric shocks to his back and ears.

Various sources have reported the use of U.S.-manufactured torture equipment. Rene Hurtado, for example, explained, "There re some very sophisticated methods...of torture..[like the machine] that looks like a radio, like a transformer; it s about 15 centimeters across, with connecting wires. It says General Electric on it...."

Many other documented accounts of brutality by U.S. trained and advised military units exist. Indeed, the elite Atlacatl Battalion has been implicated in several massacres over the past ten years and members of the battalion have been indicted for the November slayings of the six Jesuit priests and two women.

It is widely accepted, in the mainstream media and among human rights organizations, that the Salvadoran government is responsible for most of the 70,000 deaths which are the result of ten years of civil war. The debate, however, has dwelled on whether the death squads are strictly renegade military factions or a part of the larger apparatus. The evidence indicates that the death squads are simply components of the Salvadoran military. And that their activities are not only common knowledge to U.S. agencies, but that U.S. personnel have been integral in organizing these units and continue to support their dally functioning.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

U.S. on the rocks

Here's a thoughtful view of how low the Republican "corporatocracy" has dragged us.

From Jane Smiley's post on the Huffington Post, third paragraph.

We are a country that can no longer pay our bills, no longer wage an effective military action, and no longer protect our citizens from disaster. And it doesn't matter what fiscal responsibility individuals show, what bravery individual soldiers show, or what generosity individual Americans show. As a nation-as a geopolitical entity-we have been stripped of all of our superpowers and many of our powers, and it has been done quickly and efficiently, in the name of blind patriotism, by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and their neocon advisors....

From the second paragraph from the bottom:

...A decent place to live is one where a large employed middle class can most of the time afford to house, feed, educate, and care for their children, who are, in the regular course of events, safe. Canada is a decent place to live. The US is divided largely between those who live in indecent ghost-towns that have been gutted by the evaporation of jobs and those who live in indecent affluent communities that they can barely afford but are terrified to leave. When the corporatocracy paid the Reagan revolutionaries to roll back any and all regulations so that they could do every short-sighted and selfish thing they wanted to, they started us down the road to this. ...

Not only are we busted in the big picture, but locally most of our communities can no longer afford to provide many basic services. Funding schools, largely supported by outrageously high property taxes, is helping to break the back of the middle class, especially senior citizens.

Reagan and the Bushes have managed to wreck the place, top to bottom.

Read Jane Smiley's post.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

They don't count our votes

In case all the latest polls showing Bush's loss of popularity have deluded anyone into thinking we have a chance of wining either or both houses and also a chance of retaking the White House, I remind you that we will win nothing unless we address the issue of vote fraud.

Here's a post about the Ohio votes very much worth looking closely at:

"Democracy Breakin': Ohio's Electric Boogaloo
More on Ohio's Staggeringly Impossible '05 Results"

Found on Brad Blog, includes some disturbing information on vote count strangeness in Ohio.

Thanks to The Sideshow

Keeping our heads in the sand on this issue will inevitably ensure the Republican vote fraud machine will be left to operate smoothly in future elections.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Murtha takes no shit from Cheney

Here's a part of Murtha's speech you don't want to miss. From the NYT

...Mr. Murtha, a 73-year-old Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam combat, lashed back at Vice President Dick Cheney, who in a speech to a conservative group on Wednesday night condemned critics of the Iraq war. "The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone, but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," Mr. Cheney said in an address to the group, Frontiers of Freedom, in Washington.

Mr. Murtha was disdainful of the vice president's remarks, saying that "people with five deferments" had no right to make such remarks. Mr. Cheney, like millions of other young men of the era, avoided military service during the Vietnam war....

Link to Murtha's web site

The Times just can't print negatives about Cheney without softening the blow. What does this crack -- "like millions of other young men of the era, avoided military service during the Vietnam war.." -- add to the article?

When mentioning Cheney they can't help themselves; they must slide in the obligatory shuffles and bows.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Rumbling blunders

Lately, Cheney is taking a much deserved hammering in the press. One poll has his approval rating at 19%. I thought more Americans would be more enthusiastic about legal torture and that his position as national oracle was secure. Maybe not.

I also always thought there wasn’t much to Cheney. That he was truly an empty suit who had mastered the art of slow talking deeply, thus giving every utterance the weight of bedrock. His success is the triumph of form over content. His product: political lies and gibberish and world domination delusions rumbled down to us as if from Mount Sinai.

Not only is Cheney being revealed as a liar and an advocate of torture as defense policy, but more and more writers are discovering Cheney’s lengthy list of incompetent moves.

Here’s a year old profile, The Curse of Dick Cheney, from the Rolling Stone, which gives a good account of the real rodent squeak behind the contrived rumble of gravitas.

Here's a sample from near the end:

Those who have known him over the years remain astounded by what they describe as his almost autistic indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others. "He has the least interest in human beings of anyone I have ever met," says John Perry Barlow, his former supporter. Cheney's freshman-year roommate, Steve Billings, agrees: "If I could ask Dick one question, I'd ask him how he could be so unempathetic."

Enjoy it all here.

New New Jersey Senator?

In January newly elected New Jersey Governor John Corzine gets to appoint someone to finish his term in the Senate. The list of possible appointees so far circulated is pretty bland. Here's another suggestion.

Jon Corzine needs to appoint Bruce Springsteen to the United States Senate.

Crazy? Not any crazier than a violent action-flick actor from Austria with steroid use and groping allegations who can't even properly pronounce the name of his home state getting elected as its governor (a job with a lot more responsibility than a senator, by the way). Or not any crazier than electing a retired pro wrestler to the statehouse. And not any crazier than another rock star from across the pond coming within an eyelash of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Read the whole article here, Link.

via Atrios

Monday, October 31, 2005

Child molester

All you need to know about Alito is contained in the post below from T Bogg.
Mmmmmmm...strip searches.

Clarence Thomas to be joined by man after his own heart.

In Doe v. Groody, Alito agued that police officers had not violated constitutional rights when they strip searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized only the search of a man and his home. [Doe v. Groody, 2004]

Coupled with his finding that a woman's uterus is something for her husband to have and to hold, I'd say he has some issues when it comes to non-PenisAmericans.

Follow the link to T Bogg to get a link to the case.

via Atrios

Thursday, October 27, 2005

More Cheney

Cheney fans will not want to miss this. Apparently he just can't help himself. He just has to do the wrong thing.

Cheney, Libby Blocked Papers To Senate Intelligence Panel
By Murray Waas, special to National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, Oct. 27, 2005

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources. ...


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion Thursday, the largest in U.S. corporate history, as it raked in a bonanza from soaring oil and gas prices.

Record profits for Big Oil at a time when consumers are paying sky-high prices for gasoline have brought calls for a windfall profits tax or other penalties on oil companies.

Big bonuses for the boys at the top are sure to follow, as are big contributions (another word for kickbacks) to the Bush/Cheney gang who make it all possible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Chairman

Cheney wants to protect the right of the CIA to torture detainees, according to this NYT article,“White House Is Seeking Exception in Detainee Abuse Ban”.

Last weekend I read two reviews of a new Mao biography, Mao: The Unknown Story, one in the NYT book review and a far better one in The New York Review of Books, (You have to buy the issue or buy the article on line). Both reviews presented a Mao who had little real talents beyond a keen sense of which way the wind was blowing and how to change direction to go with it, and an ability to keep his head down and navigate upward through the bureaucracy. He also excelled at sadistic torture and had the willingness to slaughter rivals, real and imagined. The NYB reviewer cited his laziness (He traveled the Long March carried, comfortably reclining) and his apparent complete lack of empathy for others. He was willing to kill millions of his own people to advance his agenda.

While reading the reviews I was reminded of Cheney and to a lesser degree Bush and reminded also of how rare it is for gifted and compassionate individuals to gain political power. Mostly, we are stuck with twisted, Cheney like mediocrities who come to power by avoiding risk, by shuffling minutiae, by scheming in the shadows and by opportunistically attaching to the coattails of rising stars. Once arrived their bitterness (at choosing to eat so much shit to get there) and insecurity cause them to take offense at the smallest slights, and then to work single mindedly, not for the benefit of the governed, but instead to carry out vengeful schemes concocted in the darkness of long nights making lists of enemies. Election victory is about the opportunity to get even.

Damn right Cheney wants torture to be legal and not just for foreigners either.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Subtle curve

Josh Marshall suggests articles, such as the LA Times article I linked in an earlier post, might be part of an overall White House campaign to move Plame blame to Libby as the soldier designated to absorb most of the impact, sparing Rove and possibly Bush and Cheney the worst.

Marshall has a good eye for secret curves, so it’s wise to pay attention.

Friday, October 21, 2005


If you're looking for coverage of the Delay trial, the place to go is Majikthis. She's on the scene with camera.

Suck up or else

In case you didn't know what a vindictive, small minded, obsessive, psycho nutcase operation, the office of the Vice President is, here's a sample from the LA Times, via Talk Left.

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was so angry about the public statements of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a Bush administration critic married to an undercover CIA officer, that he monitored all of Wilson's television appearances and urged the White House to mount an aggressive public campaign against him, former aides say.

The rest of the article gives even more details.

(It's exactly what we imagined it to be.)

Imperial delusions

It has always been clear that the long term Cheney plan was to gain control, by any means, of the world’s energy resources, not for your benefit, or mine, as they would have us believe, but solely for the benefit of the American elites.

As things unravel, details of their imperialistic, delusional schemes come tumbling out.

Here (Billmon) and here (Billmon's source).

Once you grasp the goal, the guiding principle that only they should control vital resources, all the pieces fit smoothly into place.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More Plame

Eric Alterman keeps his eye on the ball.

...don’t forget what this is really about: it’s about a conspiracy to defraud the American public into war and destroy the reputation of a public servant who tried to warn us—even at the cost of endangering the lives of loyal CIA agents. Everyone involved is guilty of that and it’s worse than anything of which Keller and Sulzberger can be even remotely accused....


To keep up with Plame events check The Raw Story

Plame background

This excellent post, "Why revealing a NOC matters" Gilliard's News Blog makes it very clear how serious the outing of Plame was.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Plame and whigs

There’s a lot going on now behind the well reported new grand jury appearances of Judy Miller and Rove. One story is about a rumored split in the White House between the Rove group and another headed by Andrew Card. There is also speculation that the investigation is leading to, or includes, activities of the White House Iraq Group (whig), which marketed the Iraq war to the media and public with a series of knowingly and carefully concocted lies. This group includes all the biggies that the those of us on the left would so like to see publicly disgraced.

Here’s some links to the good stuff: Digby, Josh Marshall and America Blog

And for a vicious portrait of Card go to Billmon. Here’s how it starts:

If Howard Fineman is right, and Andrew Card really is making a move to topple Karl Rove, then this country could be in a heap of trouble. Rove, at least, is smart, even if it is a feral, devious brand of intelligence. Card, on the other hand, is as dense as a truck load of gravel -- a half-full truck load of gravel.

Maybe the plutocrats in the superstar media will have an epiphany and the whole sordid tale will be hung out on the line for all to see. Maybe there will be some indictments of some of the major players. But I’m not counting on it. These guys will waltz it away like they did with Iran Contra and the same players will either return with new titles or continue to engineer things from the Cheney bunker.

You don’t need a History PhD to know that once in power fascists are difficult to dislodge. Neither indictments, nor unrecorded votes will get the job done.

It will take true desperation, lost homes, lost access to healthcare and the sick and dieing children that follow to piss off the working public enough to put enough squeeze on the cowardly Democrats (who will do anything to hang on to their privileges) to throw the Bush gang out; the same level of nothing to lose desperation that fed the early labor movements, for example.

We have a long way down to go and nothing is going to happen until we get there. It would have been a lot easier to deal with the coup in 2000 when the thugs on the ground were a pink cheeked, soft handed, squishy little mob of Delay recruited congressional aides sent down to stop the recount in Miami.

Go read Billmon

Saturday, October 08, 2005


From "A Less Fasionable War"
"...Thirty years ago Gore Vidal noted that “roughly 80% of police work in the United States has to do with the regulation of our private morals…controlling what we drink, eat, smoke, put into our veins…with whom and how we have sex or gamble.” Then there were roughly 250,000 prisoners in the nation. Today there is more than 2 million, with another million in county jails awaiting trial or sentencing, and another roughly 3 million under “correctional supervision” on probation or parole. The total national cost of incarceration then was $4 billion annually; today it’s $64 billion, with another $20 billion in federal money and $22-24 billion in money from state governments earmarked for waging the so-called “War on Drugs.” Nationally, around 60% or more of these prisoners are drug criminals. Yet, throughout all this time and expense there has not been the slightest decrease in either drug use or supply.

And amidst all the talk of race as a factor in the Katrina disaster let us not forget a bigger disaster: One in every 20 black men over the age of 18 is in prison compared to 1 in 180 White men. Despite African Americans comprising only 12% of the total population, in five states, including Illinois, the ratio of Black to White prisoners is 13 to 1. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that Blacks comprise 56.7% of all drug offenders admitted to state prisons while Whites comprise only 23.3% (in my Illinois prison—one of 28 in the State—of the 1,076 inmates, 689 were Black, 251 were White, and 123 were Latino). Based upon these numbers, a full 30% of African-Americans will see time in prison during their life, compared with only 5% of White Americans, even though White drug users outnumber Blacks by a five-to-one margin....

Via 3 Quarks Daily

Friday, October 07, 2005

Plame game

I’ve been quiet for a couple of days because I’ve been transfixed by the latest Plame Gate developments and feeling a little stirring of hope. If I did post, anything I would have to say would boil down to writing "I hope they nail these bastards" over and over again.

Josh Marshall and America Blog are offering the best coverage of the Fitzgerald investigation, in my opinion. Both, compared to me at least, are insiders receiving and passing on information otherwise not available to others. Kos is close behind. So, if you want to keep up with developments as they unfold visit their sites. On this subject, if it hasn’t been posted on their sites, it isn’t happening. When it comes to reliability, Marshall is especially cautious, or responsible and trustworthy, depending on how you look at it. The bolder America Blog might be a step or two ahead of everyone.

As for bird flu, I have joined the stampede and purchased and stashed Tamiflu and have urged my daughter to do the same. It's not a perfect solution, but it is a small edge. My wife got prescriptions for both of us from our family doctor.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bird flu

Deadly 1918 Epidemic Linked to Bird Flu, Scientists Say

Published: October 5, 2005
Two teams of federal and university scientists announced today that they had resurrected the 1918 influenza virus, the cause of one of history's most deadly epidemics, and had found that unlike the viruses that caused more recent flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968, the 1918 virus was actually a bird flu that jumped directly to humans.

From the NYT, Link

What was so special about the 1918 flu epidemic? It killed between 20 and 40 million people.
It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.

For a complete introduction, go here Link

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Fascist dream 2

From the AP: "Bush Considers Military Role in Flu Fight"

...Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and director of its National Center for Disaster Preparedness, called the president's suggestion an "extraordinarily draconian measure" that would be unnecessary if the nation had built the capability for rapid vaccine production, ensured a large supply of anti-virals like Tamiflu, and not allowed the degradation of the public health system.

"The translation of this is martial law in the United States," Redlener said. ...
AP Link


Soldiers everywhere. That's the answer.

A fascist dream

So, what is this shit bag's answer to the threat of avian flu? Is it increase vaccine and treatment reasearch? Is it a committment to do our best to ensure all Americans are protected? Nope. None of those. It's a U.S. military enforced quaratine of part of the country. Who do you think are going to be in the most protected part of the country and who are going to be left to handle their own sickness alone?

Avian bird flu.
Bush said he was considering whether the U.S. military should be used to help quarantine part of the country in the event of a pandemic of Avian bird flu. “I’m not predicting an outbreak,” he said. “I’m just suggesting to you that we need to be thinking about it. ... I think the president should have all ... assets on the table to deal with something this significant.”

From MSNBC, link here.

Not only is this scheme designed to save the rich plutocrats and let the poor die safely, alone somewhere on the other side of the concertina wire, but it is useful cover for other applications. Just think about this and while you are, ask yourself whether you would trust Bush to use this power judiciously and not, say, to make sure an election went the way he wanted it. A military enforced quarantine of Florida or Ohio in the last elections, during vote counting, would have made the process go so much more smoothly.

Not to mention how terrifying it would be to have U.S. troops standing between you and your children and keeping you from reaching them in a time of crisis.

The Bush/Cheney process is an inch by inch strangulation of freedom. This is just another inch.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Why Miers?

Digby's answer is that she is the "machine justice" in place to help ensure continuation of power for the Bush crime family machine and not necessarily to advance any conservative ideological agenda.

Digby's analysis makes perfect sense to me. My first thought was that she was nominated to make sure Bush never went to jail. I was close, but too simple. She's part of the grand neo-corporate-fascist scheme to control the country forever and gain complete control of the world's energy resources. She's a trusted soldier who will be a certain Bush vote on every issue that comes before the court.

Here's a paragraph from Digby:

Harriet Miers is the official machine justice, a made woman, the one whose only committment and loyalty will be to Karl Rove and George Bush. I'm sure they would have preferred Alberto Gonzales but he is too much of a known quantity to easily finesse the varying political requirements within the base. She will do just fine. She is their creature. Her purpose on the court is to assist the Republican party in any way necessary, not to advance conservatism.

So, while Democrats examine Miers's and Roberts's ideologies and are delighted to find they are not quite right wing wackos, it turns out they are looking in the wrong place for the wrong evidence and at the wrong issues. What really matters is that the two, Roberts and Miers are trusted Bush/Cheney insiders, placed on the court to protect the regime.

Bush doesn’t give a shit about ideology and when it suits him he changes positions. The issue is not ideology; it is how best to cement the coup that occurred in 2000.

Digby's got it right, I'm afraid. The only real joy for any of us lefties is in watching the slow dawn of awareness spread over the conservatives, awareness that they have been had, that Bush is not the figurehead of a conservative movement, but of a criminal gang. It's a small joy, but it is worth savoring for the moment.

Go read the rest from Digby here.

Billmon, Miers and the right

Billmon is putting up some entertaining posts on the Miers nomination, including some evidence that many on the right are not pleased.

Check it out here: link

Another Brownie

This quote from right winger David Frum may be all you need to know about Harriet Miers.
In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met.

From here, via Yglesias, via Josh Marshall

(Edit: Atrios reports in "Wanker of the Day" that sometime this morning Frum removed the paragaph from which the above was quoted.)

Workers' paradise

Average number of vacation days in France 39, Germany 27, Netherlands 25, Great Britain 23, Canada 20, U.S. 12. (According to MSN)

We live in a great country as long as we don't consider people who work for wages and the poor.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Bird Flu (there is a vaccine)

There's a lot of discussion this morning about Bird Flu. Sanofi Pasteur says it is producing a vaccine (not developing, but producing) in accord with a $100 million government contract. The contract also is for storing the vaccine.

Lyon, France and Swiftwater, PA (USA) – [September 15, 2005] – Sanofi pasteur, the vaccines business of the sanofi-aventis Group (NYSE: SNY), has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to produce doses of a vaccine to help protect against the H5N1 influenza virus strain, the so-called avian strain. Scientists believe the H5N1 strain could become the cause of a global influenza pandemic.

The contract is another major effort by sanofi pasteur to support efforts in both the U.S. and Europe to prepare the world for the possibility of an influenza pandemic.

The $100 million contract calls for sanofi pasteur to manufacture the vaccine in bulk concentrate form at its U.S. headquarters in Swiftwater, PA from early September through late October. The agreement provides for additional fees to be paid to sanofi pasteur for storage of the vaccine as well as for formulation and filling of the vaccine upon government request.

Here's a link to the complete press release

The real fun of a pandemic will begin when there is not enough vaccine for everyone, but an effective vaccine for the chosen few.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Natural gas

Brace yourself for the winter.

Soon another distinction between us and them will be who has warm houses and who doesn't. Prices for heat and gasoline are going to really hurt the many of us that live close to the margin. The paragraphs below are from The New York Times, "Natural Gas Prices Set Record, Pointing to Costly Winter" Linked here. Via Atrios
Natural gas prices set a new record today, presaging higher heating bills for a majority of Americans this winter as well as soaring costs for industrial manufacturers of such products as plastics and chemicals...

...Americans will pay an average of $400 more for their natural gas this winter than last year, with average bills jumping to $1,130, according to estimates by the Department of Energy. These estimates, however, might prove too low and are likely to get updated when the government issues its winter outlook next month.

Also, take a look at Shakespeare's Sister.

Snookered again

The only way the Democrats are going to find what it takes to resist Bush's nominees, both stealth and overt wingnuts, is if the nominee comes to the hearings in an SS uniform and is led in on a leash by Pat Robertson.

We are going to pay for this appointment for a long time.

Voted against Roberts (all Democrats)

Akaka, Hawaii
Bayh, Ind.
Biden, Del.
Boxer, Calif.
Cantwell, Wash.
Clinton, N.Y.
Corzine, N.J.
Dayton, Minn.
Durbin, Ill.
Feinstein, Calif.
Harkin, Iowa
Inouye, Hawaii
Kennedy, Mass.
Kerry, Mass.
Lautenberg, N.J.
Mikulski, Md.
Obama, Ill.
Reed, R.I.
Reid, Nev.
Sarbanes, Md.
Schumer, N.Y.
Stabenow, Mich.

Voted for Roberts (Democrats only, plus Jeffords)

Baucus, Mont.
Bingaman, N.M.
Byrd, W.Va.
Carper, Del.
Conrad, N.D.
Dodd, Conn.
Dorgan, N.D.
Feingold, Wis.
Johnson, S.D.
Kohl, Wis.
Landrieu, La.
Leahy, Vt.
Levin, Mich.
Lieberman, Conn.
Lincoln, Ark.
Murray, Wash.
Nelson, Fla.
Nelson, Neb.
Pryor, Ark.
Rockefeller, W.Va.
Salazar, Colo.
Wyden, Ore.
Independent: Jeffords, Vt.

Big fishes

Here's a quote from the blog, Talk Left, that gives a little insight into how the insider's operate. Talk Left's Jeralyn Merritt, quoted below, is a TV lawyer and her blog is usually terrific. I visit it every day. But in this case, since her friend is defending Delay, she announces she's going to "stop slamming Delay" because his lawyer is her friend.

Dick (Houston's Dick DeGuerin) has also been a very good friend of mine for 20 years. You may remember him as David Koresh's lawyer in WACO, or Kay Bailey Hutchinson's lawyer, or the lawyer (along with Chip Lewis) who got Robert Durst acquitted of murder even though he admitted hacking up the body.

That means I'll be reporting the news on the case and analyzing it legally, but I won't be slamming DeLay any more. Sorry, folks, but loyalty is loyalty. Just thought I'd be up front about it.
Link to the Talk Left post

This is a completely clear expression of how things work up there in the stratosphere, where principles and a person’s record, even a despicable one, are subordinate to relationships. Take this a few steps farther and you understand what Congress is all about and you gain insight into a major reason why the mainstream media is so gentle on the nutbag righties. At the end of the day, when the TV talk show shouting matches and the Senate debates are over, they all go out for cocktails and back slaps together and eat little pastry fishes in the rich wood tinted gloom of the coolest bar in town.

We need to think long and hard about who “we” are and who “they” are.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cost of gas

Hit by rising gasoline prices, a record percentage of credit-card accounts were delinquent in the second quarter, the American Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

The ABA found that the 4.81 percent of credit-card accounts had payments that were past due by 30 days or more between April and June. That's up from 4.76 percent in the first quarter, which was the previous record. The ABA started tracking delinquencies in 1973.

The ABA also noted an increase in delinquent payments on personal loans, auto loans, home equity loans and lines of credit.
Link, from CNN Money

This is just the first hint of a dust cloud on the horizon, not yet arrived, but we know it is coming.

Adjustable rate mortgages on the rise and higher fuel and heating costs put the vice grips to the working classes, many of whom commute long distances to work in areas where they could not afford to live. The insatiable right wing business leaders must have seen this coming when they, and their acquiescent Democratic allies, rammed through the bankruptcy bill to make sure they would be able to wring every last cent from catastrophically indebted families. Most of these people are worn to the bone already by long commutes and fear of losing their jobs through downsizing, refusing to sleep with the boss, being late because of one too many times caught in stalled traffic, exploding in the face of a vicious and unreasonable supervisor (also afraid for his/her job), and whatever and when you take their credit away and make imminent the threat of losing a home, who knows what can happen.

Take away all the small perks, the credit, the lifelines to security and the dreams of owning, keeping and retiring in a home, in short all the things that generate a vested interest in the status quo, in a stable society, and contrast this drastically reduced sense of well being with the well publicized, ever growing, extraordinary wealth of the bandit plutocrats and you begin to assemble the ingredients for chaos.

You would think these pricks could overcome their greed with a little foresight and recognize that more prosperous, more secure middle and working classes would ensure stability and the longevity of their own privileged positions. You'd think they'd let a little more trickle down so we all could keep a comfortable few steps ahead of the monthly bills.


"Encouraging dissent is a good way of finding out who the traitors are."

New Yorker cartoon caption, October 3, 2005 edition, page 75.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Stick up

The twit Michael Brown was not competent to be head of FEMA. But as a fall guy, he’s a star. There is no shit he will not eat for the boss. He delivers his end, first by resigning and taking some of the heat as the disaster unfolds, thus diverting attention from dysfunctional Bush and the distracted Cheney. Second, he delivers by going before Congress and pinning the failure on the local Democrats and is further rewarded with a consultant’s job. No amount of humiliation is too much for this toady to swallow. He steps right up there, lies and spits out the script as it was written for him.

This is corruption almost too blatant to be believed; almost too obviously stupid to think for a moment they could get away with it. It has the same lack of sophistication as most of Rove’s heavy handed schemes and that is why it works, not totally, but just enough for minimal cover. Rove’s success is largely due to his uncanny or fortuitous ability to never over estimate the idiocy of the American public or the effectiveness of the Democratic Senators by feeding them too complicated a scam. Brown's rebirth (and the NO corporate payoff) is no more complicated than a liquor store stick up.

What a fucking country.


I liked this quite a bit, from Now or Never

If I could un-ring certain bells and un-wind time I would, but can’t, so instead, I'll just ride this bucket of bones till the wheels fly off; till ball-joints grind and drop from sockets; till this xylophone of ribs riffs the music of the spheres; until my funny bone tells it's last joke; till my shoulder blades cleave the universe in two and find the nut within; until I'm hipper than both hips and happier; till I'm savvy at last, slicker than elbow grease, and mute as a smart metatarsal; until I'm wiser than a thought-stuffed skull; until I knee-cap my inner sonofabitch to stop his useless jawin' so I can hear one clear day resound off tiny anvils and ride the lyrical looped song of a backyard bird round Lew Welch's ring of bone. Instead…

I'll just splint what needs splinting right here at home.

N. Martancik, Poet/Orthopedist

And I followed the link in the above post and came to this poem by Lew Welch

Ring of Bone

I saw myself
a ring of bone
in the clear stream
of all of it

and vowed
always to be open to it
that all of it
might flow through

and then I heard
"ring of bone" where
ring is what a

bell does

Lew Welch, Ring of Bone, Collected Poems 1950-1971

Saturday, September 24, 2005

If the shoe fits...

You can use other words, but when it comes to what's happening in the U.S. FASCISM works fine for me. Fascists have been here a long time, lurking just beneath the surface of public consciousness, building rage, resentments, taking names and writing lists. Of course fascists don't call themselves fascists. It's one of those names, like Shithead, that people don't give themselves. For many Americans this makes recognizing them difficult because it requires a little thought and application of some historical perspective. Some Americans, like some of the working class "sportsmen for bush" I see around here, don't even know they're wannabe brown shirt thugs, just itching to get even with someone for all their frustrations. For them to get it, you have to spell it out very slowly and even then most Bush fascists are so well programmed to respond to the hot key issues they wander off into anti something hate speech.

Below is a long quote from an article, "International Perspective, by Marshall Auerback" posted on The Prudent Bear that I found on Digby's Hullabaloo via The Sideshow. It clarifies fascism nicely. You can use the list as a crowbar to try and open some minds. You might want to copy the list and pass it around.

Without some guidance, true believers and collaborators, unfortunately, who read the list will likely think it describes a good thing.

The reconstruction of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama provides a fascinating picture of how the Bush administration actually works. His government represents an odd melding of corporatism and cronyism, more in tune with the workings of 1930s Italy or Spain. In fact, if one looks at fascist regimes of the 20th century, it is appears that the Bush administration draws more from these sources than traditional conservatism. Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

(Source: The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism, Dr. Lawrence Britt, Spring 2003, Free Inquiry)

That list about says it, doesn't it? If you want to learn more about fascists in America you can follow the links above and you can visit David Neiwert's Orcinus. He's got the subject well covered.


In case you were wondering where the Blackwater loyalties lie, loyalties beneath the guns for hire agenda, check out this article in the current issue of The Nation. A link is at the bottom.

Blackwater's success in procuring federal contracts could well be explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the GOP. According to election records, Blackwater's CEO and co-founder, billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands to Republicans, including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the month before Bush's victory in 2000. This past June, he gave $2,100 to Senator Rick Santorum's re-election campaign. He has also given to House majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates, including Bush/Cheney in 2004. As a young man, Prince interned with President George H.W. Bush, though he complained at the time that he "saw a lot of things I didn't agree with--homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act, those kind of bills. I think the Administration has been indifferent to a lot of conservative concerns."

Mr. Prince is also described as a staunch, right-wing Christian.

The Nation article also introduces us to blacker water mercenary organizations also at work in New Orleans: Instinctive Shooting International (ISI), described as "veterans of Israeli special task forces", Body Guard and Tactical Security (BATS) and others.

Politics Test

Take the politics test.

I came out lower right in the lower right quadrant, a Socialist, to no one's surprise.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Though in charge, Rove splits

Senator Lautenberg is troubled by Rove, "White House Point Man" on the Katrina disaster, who will be giving a speech to Republicans in North Dakota when Rita is scheduled to hit. (Thanks to America Blog)

Quite a leader Mr. Chubby Bunnypants is, isn't he.

Dear President Bush:

The assignment of your Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl C. Rove, as the lead White House official for disaster coordination and recovery efforts raises troubling questions given his partisan political background.

As all know, Hurricane Rita is bearing down on the Gulf Coast even as the nation reels from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It would be expected that Mr. Rove would be at his post "24/7" during this crisis.

However, as unlikely as it might seem, we have learned that Mr. Rove will be traveling to North Dakota to engage in political fundraising activities. When this fearsome hurricane makes landfall on Saturday, Mr. Rove will be delivering a political speech to the North Dakota Republican Party, and will be featured as a special guest at a fundraising dinner.

I respectfully urge you to remind Mr. Rove of his responsibilities as the coordinator of relief and recovery efforts, and direct him to keep his attention focused on this critical job. There will be plenty of time for fundraising, but for now, putting lives back together and rebuilding communities must take priority over building political war chests.


Frank R. Lautenberg
Link From Senator Lautenberg's web site.

Bush still a drunk

The Sideshow today has this interesting catch from the National Enquirer that says Bush is drinking again. According to the article, Laura caught him throwing down a "Texas-sized shot" of booze to cope with the stress of Katrina.

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Any ex drunk would tell you he's probably been drinking all along. At least that's a more credible explantion than the goofy choked on a pretzel account and would also explain the bike accidents. He may be barely functional, which is probably a good thing.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Gore won, Carter says

Jimmy Carter said Gore won, according to The Raw Story.

We all know this already, except for Republicans and the mainstream media. But it's comforting to hear a real president say it.

Here's the first three paragraphs:

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter delivered a shocker at an American University panel in Washington Monday: RAW STORY has learned he told the crowd he was certain Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election.

There is "no doubt in my mind that Gore won the election," the erstwhile President declared, saying the 2000 election process "failed abysmally."

He also snubbed the Supreme Court for getting involved, saying it was "highly partisan."

Now, if Bill Clinton could tear himself away from his new pal, Bush the first, maybe he could put his two cents in as well.

Plame Bolton

Arianna Huffington says the Plamegate investigation may be moving closer to UN Ambassador Bolton. Arianna gives us a peek into the inner workings of the Cheney sect of administration insiders. She introduces a CIA agent who, wearing two hats, also works for Bolton. The agent, Fred Fleitz, is a direct conduit of information from the CIA to Bolton who, of course, uses it to discredit rivals, settle scores and advance the Cheney agenda. This is, of course, Cheney’s crew and a dirtier bunch you could not find.

Sometimes I wonder how Cheney and his thugs so confidently circumvent the rules, ethics and morality to advance their own crackpot agendas. Are they true believers? Are they simply cynical and greedy? Is the goal really to simply move all the money from the working and middle class to the privileged plutocrats and take control of the world's energy? But then I come to my senses. I stop wondering and start trying to focus on how funny they are this cadre of bitter men simply driven by meanness itself dressed up as a grand scheme.

Cheney is a flabby, squishy muscled veteran of years of shuffling papers and resentfully sucking up to the top. It’s his time now and it is easy to imagine him hidden away with a list of enemies and scores to settle. It is even funny to think that he confuses shooting hundreds of caged pheasants, released on command, with actual hunting and even funnier to imagine his Victorian style safaris, with pal Scalia, to the duck blind. Does someone carry Cheney? Or is he floated along on a little rubber barge?

The whole Cheney trip of telling secrets, undercutting rivals, ghoulishly hiding away in bunkers and blowing caged birds to kingdom come would all be an uproarious riot of pompous silliness if it didn’t involve real lives and the easily anticipated and avoided stumble into the disaster of war.

The goofiest thing is that after all these screw ups the myth of competence is still attached to Cheney and his crew. It must be the deep voice and that sinister hand rubbing thing he does. Or maybe it's the simpler truth: shit rises.

Maybe Fitzgerald will nail Bolton and the despicable Judith Miller and the world will begin to right itself.

Go read Arianna and trust your own suspicions of how close to the truth of the scene she really is.