Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Treason on the Right

While Ann Coulter tries to demonize the left as traitors to America, the nasty fact is and has been for a long time that treason on the right has been both more pervasive and more effective. Orcinus is sinking his teeth into this nastiness, and it's going to be a series worth following. Part One: the vile history of the America First movement and their admiration of all things fascistic.

Lid Continues to Come Off, and Something for the Right to Remember

Hoo boy. Atrios had this first.

And here's a corrective little hint to all the right wingers who are screaming and crying and whining about this "Democratic Witch Hunt:" The person who requested this investigation is not Ted Kennedy or Howard Dean or Gray Davis or Hillary Clinton or whoever. The person who requested this investigation is the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet. Now fasten and scuttle back to your holes.

Shelton Shits on Clark

William Saletan has a useful analysis of retired General Hugh Shelton's nasty comments about his former collegue retired General Wesley Clark's presidential bid. As we all know, Shelton, when asked about Clark, snidely remarked, "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."

Fortunately, Wes Clark doesn't need Shelton's vote. Unfortunately, papers, commentators, and assorted Republican drones immediately leapt on Shelton's words to suggest that Clark has a "character problem" Rrriighttt.

While he's at it, Shelton ought to explain why, if sneaking around your boss to go to the media is a grave character issue, sneaking around your former subordinate to go to the media with an unfalsifiable insinuation about him isn't. Clark says Shelton never came to him directly: "I have never heard anything about these integrity and character issues." Clark also says he has "no idea" what they are. Until Shelton clarifies the charge, Clark can't rebut it. He's presumed guilty of something serious.

Exactly, Hugh. Either come out with something provable, or go the hell away. Hey, and if you want "integrity and character," check out the White House, pal, where something really stinks right now....

Is the Military Still a Solid GOP Constituency?

It would be a good thing if this were to change, because to have the military solidly behind one party - whichever party - is damned dangerous to American democracy (and is another good reason, one of many, to reinstate a universal draft, but I digress). Timothy Noah suggests that some cracks are beginning to appear... check it out.

MORE TREASON AT GITMO!

MSNBC is running a flash that a DOD translator has been arrested. More later!

UPDATE: Here's the scoop; we apparently have another Muslim traitor at Gitmo. Who in the world decided to assign these guys there? Let's cut the crap, get some Arabic translators from Israel if we have to, and prevent this from happening again!

The FBI was called to make the arrest after U.S. immigration officials found a man identified as Ahmed Melhalba carrying CD-ROMs and paper documents allegedly related to the detainees.

Melhalba is the third person arrested in what appears to be a widening investigation of possible espionage at the base where suspected al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are held.

Melhalba is described as a civilian translator, and was arriving at Logan on a flight from Egypt.

Egypt, mind you, the happy home of Mohammed Atta and a hotbed of al Queda. Wonderful.

More: And by the way, I'll bet you're all still feeling really, really safe since the Army canned six gay Arabic translators a year or so ago...can't believe no one else in the Blogsphere has cottoned-on to this yet.

Blow Job = Treason. Blowing Agent's Cover = OK!

The right have been falling all over themselves for the past 24 hours trying to explain away the Valerie Plame case. One conservative friend of mine is convinced that since Bob Novak came out with a frantically backpedaling explanation, everything must be OK (Jesse over at Pandagon takes Novak's "explanation" to pieces here and Kevin Drum rips in here). Ha. If only it were that simple.... Mark Kleiman has a comprehensive update of all the craziness here. As Mark points out, it's worth remembering that Karl Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush campaign for...leaking a story to Robert Novak. Interesting, no?

Nope, this one is not going to just "go away" or be wished away.

Krugman on the Loot-o-rama

Paul Krugman is back from his much-deserved vacation and has a good piece in the NYT this morning about the looting going on in Iraq at the present time, as the pals and buddies of President Stupid and Bunker Boy cash in on Operation Iraqi "Freedom."

One reason Iraq still faces blackouts is that local experts and institutions were excluded from the repair business. Instead, the exclusive contract was given to Bechtel, whose Republican ties are almost as strong as Halliburton's. And if a recent story in The Washington Post is accurate, Bechtel continues to ignore pleas by Iraqi engineers for essential spare parts.

Meanwhile, several companies with close personal ties to top administration officials have begun brazenly offering their services as facilitators for companies seeking Iraqi business. The former law firm of Douglas Feith, the Pentagon under secretary who oversees Iraq reconstruction, has hung out its shingle. So has another company headed by Joe Allbaugh, who ran the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and ran FEMA until a few months ago. And a third entrant is run by Ahmad Chalabi's nephew.

If you still believe that this was a preemptive strike to take out potential terrorists, think again and ask yourself: who benefits? Not you, American taxpayer, but the parasites who are taking your hard earned tax dollars and stuffing them into their already bulging bank accounts, that's who.

Californians Just as Stupid as People in Alabama!

Voters in California appear to be ready to fall for Karl Rove's happy plot to capture the 2004 election by putting his own people into place in California. Let's be honest: the "voter revolt" against Gray Davis is about as genuine as Iraqi WMD. From the beginning this was an egregious attempt to subvert democracy, and Californians are stupidly following the piper down to the river in the wake of a not over-bright, misogynistic bodybuilder who is best known for his acting roles as a robot. Wonderful.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Wes Clark Runs with Plame Scandal

Retired General Wesley Clark's campaign has just issued a press release calling for an independent investigation of the Valerie Plame "outing":

"The Administration should not play politics with this matter. This issue is too important for political gamesmanship or to be managed by the John Ashcroft Justice Department," General Wesley Clark said. "The investigation must be independent of the Justice Department - otherwise the investigation could be influenced by political considerations. That is why President Bush should immediately refer this entire matter to a completely independent body - a body with credibility both in our country and with our allies around the world."

Of course Dubya will be able to resist pleas of this sort, and I believe that this is why:

The "outer" of Valerie Plame most likely is Karl Rove. Every other aide at the White House, every other person in the Administration is expendable, but not Dubya's Dirty Tricksmeister. Bush will do anything to protect Rove. In the next few days, perhaps the next week, some minor nitwit will be importuned into resigning and taking "credit" for the outing - probably with a guarantee of a lucrative job at a Halliburton subsidiary - in hopes of taking the heat off the person who is truly behind this happy piece of treason and shutting down the investigation, whether by the Justice Department or an independent body.

It's only a theory, and only time will tell....

And the Stonewalling Begins

President Incurious George has decided that he won't bother to ask his aides to reveal which one of them blew the cover of an undercover CIA agent:

White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq.

Wake up, Incurious George. You're about to have to find another job as an unsuccessful businessman.

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean said Attorney General John D. Ashcroft should play no role in the investigation and should turn it over to the Justice Department's inspector general, who operates independently of political appointees. "President Bush came into office promising to bring honor and integrity to the White House," Dean said. "It's time for accountability."

Dean is absolutely right. There needs to be an independent investigation of this before Ashcroft and his minions get in there and start burning stuff for cert. My guess is that some minor aide of an aide will soon be sacrificed to protect whoever really was behind this (Karl Rove is my suspect), and the investigation has to be quick and deep to prevent this from happening.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Whew!

Lots of great stuff over at Eschaton today. Start at the top and read down...too much goodness to list.

Kevin Drum is Fuming

Kevin Drum over at Calpundit is, as are the rest of us, deeply disturbed by the implications of the Valerie Plame affair, and puts his thoughts into eloquent words aimed at conservatives who believe they support this Administration:

This episode exposes the viciousness and amorality at the very heart of the Bush administration, and I hope it opens some conservative eyes about the nature of the administration they support. These guys are not who you think they are and they aren't pursuing their policies for the principled reasons you think they are. After all, if they went to war with Iraq because of a genuine commitment to humanitarian relief and Middle East democracy, don't you think they would have paid a little more attention to postwar planning? What does it tell you that they didn't?

Remember: this is not just some run of the mill political dirty trick. It's perilously close to treason. No truly principled conservative administration would do a thing like this, and the fact that they've been trying to dodge it for two months tells you everything you need to know about them

Indeed. It's time for principled conservatives - and we all know that there are many - to wash their hands of Bush and his neocon buddies and help us flush them down the toilet of history. These people are evil and vicious, and to save American democracy for Democrats and Republicans alike, THEY HAVE TO GO.

Bloggers Celebrate!

Many bloggers are, like myself, thrilled that the lid seems to be about to come ripping off the stinking pile of rottenness in Washington, and here are some great comments on the WP's Valerie Plame article:

Kevin Drum at Calpundit: "Holy shit." "...these are radical ideologues who care about nothing except staying in power and will do anything, no matter how craven and malevolent, to get what they want."

Atrios: "HOLY CRAP." "Pass the effing popcorn."

More fun to come, I suspect. Can't wait till Jo Fish over at Democratic Veteran gets his teeth into this one.

UPDATE: Jo Fish suggests Mark Kleiman should get a Pulitzer for keeping this story alive. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Washington Post Wakes Up to Treason Down the Street at 1600

The Washington Post, a member of the SCLM, has finally cottoned on to the Valerie Plame case that could land various members of the Administration in jail and preferably against a wall in front of a firing squad:

The intentional disclosure of a covert operative's identity is a violation of federal law.

The officer's name was disclosed on July 14 in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak, who said his sources were two senior administration officials.

Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

Sources familiar with the conversations said the leakers were seeking to undercut Wilson's credibility. They alleged that Wilson, who was not a CIA employee, was selected for the Niger mission partly because his wife had recommended him. Wilson said in an interview yesterday that a reporter had told him that the leaker said, "The real issue is Wilson and his wife."

A source said reporters quoted a leaker as describing Wilson's wife as "fair game."

"Fair game." Jesus Christ. Read it, and start writing your representatives. It's time to end this.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

The Lid May be About to Come Off

Mark Kleiman has been the source for information on the Valerie Plame Wilson case. If you're not familiar with this story, Valerie Plame is the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. When Wilson expressed doubt about the Adminstration's Iraq WMD claims, in particular the "yellowcake from Nigeria" story, Valerie Plame, who was an undercover CIA agent, was "outed" by someone within the Bush White House - a blatant and stunning act of treason. For months Mark and a few other bloggers have been keeping this story alive. Good news, friends: the CIA has now decided to involve the Justice Department in an attempt to find out who "outed" Valerie Plame. This may result in a phony investigation by Ashcroft et al, but it will certainly interest Congress, several of the Democratic candidates have taken notice, and I suspect the truth may come out and we may be treated to the enlightening sight of various Bushies standing against a wall or however we off traitors these days.

Democratic Attacks on Clark are Just Plain Stupid

Large numbers of Democrats, from the current crop of candidates to assorted pundits and editors, are falling all over themselves to denounce retired General Wesley Clark as "not a true Democrat," whatever the hell that is. They point out that Clark appeared at a Republican fundraiser in early 2001, and that he admits he may have voted for Nixon and Reagan. They argue that Clark is in fact a Republican who is imitating a Democrat in order to run for the presidency, as if any Republican could be so insane as to thus bring upon himself the screeching hatred of the right wing duckspeakers, who have in this case joined the Democrats in their attacks.

Fact: Clark's father was a Democratic activist. Fact: Clark's social views are those of a Democrat, not a Republican. He is pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-tolerance of others. Fact, and I know this drives a lot of Democrats bats: hundreds of thousands of Democrats voted for Nixon (who by today's standards would be a liberal!), hundreds of thousands of Democrats voted for Reagan, and a lot of Democrats at one time or another expressed support for President Bush, including some of the midgets currently running and slagging Clark. Now, get over it, get off your high horses, and get on with choosing someone who can kick President Stupid and Bunker Boy the hell out of office!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Blogger Problems

Blogger is having minor problems accessing blog archives. So if you can't get to an older post, that's what's going on. Evidently the problem is being worked on and hopefully will be fixed Real Soon Now.

Rush Limbaugh is Still a Big Fat Idiot

...and Phil Carter takes the Republican Hindenburg apart in a commentary on Limbaugh's inane attack on General Wesley Clark, and lays into retired General Hugh Shelton for a nightcap. Check it out! The right wing attacks on Clark are pretty over the top and it's important that someone with the experience and detachment of Phil debunk them effectively.

Why Why Why?

More information has come to light regarding the decision by certain idiots within NASA - idiots who are, mind you, still working for NASA since NASA Administrator Sean "Bush Appointed Me to Whack the Budget" O'Keefe refuses to indulge in what he refers to as "witch hunts" and the rest of us refer to as "justice" - to not seek outside imaging aid to try and determine how much damage had been done to Columbia by foam shed by its External Tank during ascent.

They elected one of their number, a soft-spoken NASA engineer, Rodney Rocha, to convey the idea to the shuttle mission managers.

Mr. Rocha said he tried at least half a dozen times to get the space agency to make the requests. There were two similar efforts by other engineers. All were turned aside. Mr. Rocha (pronounced ROE-cha) said a manager told him that he refused to be a "Chicken Little."

The Columbia's flight director, LeRoy Cain, wrote a curt e-mail message that concluded, "I consider it to be a dead issue."

Hmmm. So LeRoy considered it a "dead issue." Can anyone here imagine a REAL flight director, say, Gene Kranz, coming up with this tired excuse for not doing his job?

A feature of the article is a nice profile of Rodney Rocha, who, like many of us, was a believer in space and the space program, who could, understandably, not believe how the brainless Linda Ham and other senior managers treated the debris impact.

Mr. Schomburg insisted that because smaller pieces of foam had broken off and struck shuttles on previous flights without dire consequences, the latest strike would require nothing more than a refurbishment after the Columbia landed. Mr. Rocha maintained that the damage could be severe enough to allow hot gases to burn through the wing on re-entry and threaten the craft.

As their voices rose, Mr. Rocha recalled, Mr. Schomburg thrust out an index finger and said, "Well, if it's that bad, there's not a damn thing we can do about it."

Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and the late Jack Swigert must have been glad that that wasn't Gene Kranz's reaction to their oxygen tank explosion on Apollo 13. But failure had not only become an option at NASA, it had become mandatory.

Emergency plans came out of binders; engineers locked their doors to outsiders and began to store data from the flight for the inevitable investigation. Frank Benz, the Johnson Space Center director of engineering, and his assistant, Laurie Hansen, came in. Mr. Rocha recalled that Ms. Hansen, trying to console him, said, "Oh, Rodney, we lost people, and there's probably nothing we could have done."

For the third time in two weeks, Mr. Rocha raised his voice to a colleague. "I've been hearing that all week," he snapped. "We don't know that."

Get off your dead butt, Sean. Reassigning nitwits like Linda Ham isn't enough. Heads have to roll.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Investigation at Gitmo Continues

The military is carefully watching other suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention center who may be, as Captain Yousef Yee and Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi have been accused of, committing treason against the United States. No surprise that Phil Carter over at Intel Dump is monitoring the situation:

But it will shock me (as CPT Yee and Airman Halabi's arrests did) if we actually find more people who allegedly committed acts of espionage. Such a discovery will shake my faith in the fidelity of my fellow serviceperson, and give me pause to doubt the fidelity of those with whom I might serve alongside in the future. In the military, you rely on your brother (or sister) in the fighting position next to you to do his or her job in combat. Mission accomplishment in the military derives from unit effectiveness; unit effectiveness is built on unit cohesion; unit cohesion is built on trust and shared sacrifice. These traitorous acts, if true, undermine that trust, and as a result, undermine the entire American military.

Powerful stuff from Phil. And I might add, this situation not only may undermine trust in our military, it will certainly undermine trust in Muslim members of the US military - an unfortunate and dangerous situation.

Incurious George II

Tuesday I mentioned Dubya's disinclination to read the news. Today, the NYT editorializes on the same issue:

But it is worrisome when one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House takes pains to insist that he gets his information on what the world is saying only in predigested bits from his appointees.

Mr. Bush thinks of himself as a man of the people, but carefully staged contacts with groups of supporters or small children does not constitute getting in touch with the people. It is in Mr. Bush's interest, as well as the nation's, for him to burst the bubble he has been inhabiting, and take a hard look at the real world.

I wouldn't bet on it. I suspect that whoever wrote this isn't betting on it either.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Nooooooo!

No more Law & Order spinoffs. Please. It's just too horrible....

My sources tell me that Wolf and NBC are planning a fourth "Law & Order" show, this one concerning juries. My guess is they'll call it "Law & Order: Jury Duty." These sources say that Wolf will move at least two existing "Law & Order" stars over to the new show, and that one of them will likely be the company's longest running star, Jerry Orbach

Cripes, what next? Law & Order: Bunco Squad. Law & Order: Meter Maid. Law & Order: Donut Shop.

Electronic Voting = Fraud

Avedon Carol over at The Sideshow has a passel of great links and comments about electronic voting in today's and yesterday's postings. Check 'em out, and oppose, oppose, oppose. I will say it again: electronic voting could be the end of democracy in the United States. I don't think I'm going off the deep end on this one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Archaeology Update

Whew, I'm overdue for one of these. Of course I mentioned the huge rodent a few days ago. Let's see....

An initial exploration by robot has been made of the recently discovered wreck of the steamship Portland, lost with all 192 crewmen and passengers in a storm in 1898. The report is extremely weird, in my opinion; the discovers discount the theory that the ship was lost in a collision because "there wasn't enough damage," but after over 104 years rotting on the sea floor, I would question just how they believe they can tell this from a brief robotic exploration that was obviously made all the more difficult by fish nets draping the wreck. Secondly, the discovers' belief that a theory that the smokestacks were snapped off by a huge wave that tore them and the top two decks off the ship is proved by finding only the bases of the stacks in the wreck is just asinine - stacks and funnels are inevitably made of very light metal and if not swept off during sinking soon rust. Unfortunately these guys don't strike me as being the brightest bulbs in the world of marine archaeology, and it's apparent that a knowledgeable marine archaeologist needs to be put in charge here.

A small company in Washingon DC is helping African Americans trace their genetic history through DNA, enabling them to learn what part of Africa their ancestors may have come from. Interestingly, this development was predicted by science fiction writer John Brunner in his novel Stand on Zanzibar.

Australian paleontologists and volunteer helpers are finding the remains of coelurosaurs - small theropod dinosaurs - that previously had been known only from preserved tracks. Claws and teeth are among the remains found at the dig at a remote sheep station in Queensland.

Sullivan Craps on Clark

Andrew Sullivan is one of those cretins who make me vaguely ashamed of being gay. Who would want to be associated in any way with this not over-bright nitwit who doesn't seem to realize that his position is just about as intelligent as, say, Jews for Hitler? But I digress and rant simultaneously. Needless to say, Nitwit Andy has to squat and crap on retired General Wesley Clark:

HOW LOOPY IS CLARK? The answer, I fear, is that he's Ross Perot without the emotional stability. So now his previous remark that he'd be a Republican if Karl Rove had returned his calls is just a metaphor, or a fabrication, or a dream, or something. Or maybe he called Rove on a cell-phone or an email. Will he respond to these discrepancies? He also got oddly chummy with a genocidal war criminal. But, hey, diplomacy is good.

A couple of days ago Russell Crowe suggested that Mel Gibson needs to get off the glue, but Mel is a weird island of sanity next to loopy Andrew.

Second Gitmo Arrest - Coincidence or Plot?

A second man, enlisted airman Ahmad al-Halabi, serving at the detention center at Guatanamo Bay has, after having been detained two weeks ago, been charged with a total of 32 offenses, including espionage and aiding the enemy. These are capital offenses that could and should if proved result in the death penalty. Any relation this may have to the case of Army Captain Yousef Yee is speculative at this point.

Funny how the Ann Coulter brigade have been charging Democrats with being a fifth column. It's not PC but it may be time, at least until this situation is thoroughly understood, to reassign Muslim servicemen currently at Gitmo.

Oh, and al-Halabi was an Arabic translator. Remember how the military protected us from gay Arabic translators a few years ago? I feel so much safer now, and I bet you do too.

Incurious George

According to CNN, Dubya isn't following the Democratic contenders:

"Well, occasionally it blips on my radar screen, but not nearly as much as you would think. I've got a job to do. I'm occupied," Bush said in a taped interview telecast Monday night on the Fox Broadcast Network.

Heh. Rrriiiight. Read on down to this:

Bush said he insulates himself from the "opinions" that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories.

"I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news," the president said. "And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

And here, my friends, is probably the worst of Dubya's many failings. He's incurious. He's getting his news from the ideologues around him, evil people like Karl Rove and the sociopathic Condoleezza "Werwolf" Rice, instead of studying the news on his own. Perhaps if Dubya picked up a newspaper or two in the mornings, like his more intelligent predecessors were wont to do, he wouldn't have been sucked so readily into neocon Iraq schemes. Earth to Dubya: read, for Christ's sake. Read. Form your own opinions.

He won't. Far easier to be the pliant vessel into which Karl Rove pours his poison.

Hackworth Endorses Clark

The iconoclastic Colonel David Hackworth, who has in the past made less than complimentary comments about General Wesley Clark (comments Hackworth now feels were unjust and based on incorrect information), has come out over at Soldiers for the Truth in support of Clark's presidential bid after interviewing Clark for an upcoming issue of Maxim:

I asked Clark why he didn't turn in his bloody soldier suit for Armani and the big civvy dough that was definitely his for the asking.

His response: "I wanted to serve my country."

He says he now wants to lead America out of the darkness, shorten what promises to be the longest and nastiest war in our history and restore our eroding prestige around the world.

---

For sure, he'll be strong on defense. But with his high moral standards and because he knows where and how the game's played, there will probably be zero tolerance for either Pentagon porking or two-bit shenanigans.

But if he wins the election, don't expect an Andrew Jackson field-soldier type. Clark's an intellectual, and his military career is more like Ike's - that of a staff guy and a brilliant high-level commander. Can he make tough decisions? Bet on it. Just like Ike did during his eight hard but prosperous years as president.

Thank you, Colonel. While Maxim is an incredibly egregious magazine, I'm betting Hackworth's interview with Clark will be well worth a read.

Clark's Incredible Momemtum - Can He Seize the Moment?

According to a new CNN poll, retired General Wesley Clark has surged - nay, exploded - to the top of the Democratic list of contenders for the 2004 Presidential election. Clark is supported by 22% of likely Democratic voters in the poll. Second was Howard Dean at 13%. 49% said they would vote for Clark in a presidential race, 46% for Dubya.

Now it's up to Clark to seize this unique moment and run with it. He has to make as few mistakes as possible. It's going to be interesting to watch, and our nation's future may well depend on what Clark does and says in the next few months.

Another Right Wing Cretin Attacks Clark

According to a loony over at "AmericanDaily.com," a flag-waving right wing loony site, Wesley Clark's leadership of the operation to save Kosovo was just a front to preserve and spread Islamic terrorism. Of course! Hilariously, this pro-Serbian nitwit also whines that the war was not approved by Congress under the War Powers Act and hence illegal. Hm. Neither was Iraq I or Iraq II! We don't declare war anymore, dude, we just beat people we don't like the hell up. Where have you been?!

It's a real pile of stinking bullcrap, but again a preview of what the right wingers are going to use against Clark in the coming months and hence should be read.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Right Continues to Repeat Untruths About Clark

As the right wing gets warmed up to treat Wesley Clark to the full Clinton treatment, William Safire has repeated a lie about Clark that George Will invented a few weeks ago:

As a boot-in-mouth politician, however, Clark ranks with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He began by claiming to have been pressured to stop his defeatist wartime CNN commentary by someone "around the White House"; challenged, he morphed that source into a Canadian Middle East think tank, equally fuzzy.

Get the true scoop here.

More Good Stuff at Intel Dump

Phil Carter has more on the Captain Yee situation this morning, and Intel Dump will be a necessary link for Phil's analysis and commentary.


Sunday, September 21, 2003

CLARK TAKES SURPRISE EARLY LEAD!

Less than a week after entering the race, retired General Wesley Clark is already the Democratic frontrunner, according to a Newsweek poll!

CLARK WON SUPPORT from 14 percent registered Democrats and democratic leaners, outpacing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (12 percent), Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (12 percent), Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (10 percent) and Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt (8 percent).

Good news!

Galileo Finishes Triumphant Mission

The NASA Galileo Jupiter probe ended its 14 year mission to the giant planet by plunging into its atmosphere and burning up. NASA chose this end for the probe to prevent a possible eventual crash onto Jupiter's moon Europa, which is widely suspected of being a possible second home for life in our solar system. In this way, potential contamination of the moon was avoided.

In spite of a major technical glitch - the non-deployment of the probe's main antenna - the mission exceeded all of its goals except for the number of expected pictures (picture taking was scaled back due to the lessened bandwidth of the backup antenna) and made several major new discoveries both at Jupiter and en route, when it was able to make the first close photographs of an asteroid.

Jesus!

I think a lot of lefty bloggers are just going insanely off the deep end re Mel Gibson's upcoming film The Passion, which is based on the Gospel According to John. Earth to bloggers: if you don't like the Gospel of John, don't watch this, as the film is apparently a line for line rendering of this particular gospel. Otherwise, shut the hell up, you're making yourselves look like a bunch of ignorant cretins. End of rant.

Besides, Russell Crowe's take is, predictably, a lot funnier than all the ranting.

Muslim Chaplain Should Be Shot

Army reservist and law student Phil Carter has a great analysis over at Intel Dump on the case of US Army Muslim chaplain arrested on charges of sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage, and failing to obey a general order. The penalty is death. This piece of trash should be put up against a wall as quickly as possible pour encourager le autres, as Voltaire said of Admiral Byng.

Let the Looting Begin!

What a surprise that foreign banks will be permitted to come into Iraq and cherrypick Iraqi companies and industries. Perish the thought that Iraqi citizens might obtain financing to buy their own businesses.

A sweeping set of reforms will allow foreigners to take over businesses and industries that were previously state-controlled.

The finance minister in the interim Iraqi administration, Kamel al-Keylani, said the changes were important steps towards the reconstruction of Iraq.

They will allow foreign banks to buy Iraqi financial institutions, while the central bank itself will become independent.

The World Bank said on Saturday that a full assessment of Iraq's long-term economic needs should be ready within two to three weeks.

Yeah, I'll bet it will. The World Bank for years has simply been a way of raping and looting helpless countries without the unpleasant necessity of conquering them by force. For more on this truly sickening institution, read Greg Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, which goes into detail about the World Bank and IMF.


Saturday, September 20, 2003

OSU vs BGSU

This is liable to be a great game. The Falcons have a real chance of upsetting the National Champion Buckeyes. Worth watching!

Early Misstep for Clark Campaign

After announcing that he probably would have voted for the Iraq war resolution had he been a member of Congress, Wesley Clark, probably at the behest of his handlers, has done a quick and unfortunate 180:

Retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark reversed course yesterday on the issue of Iraq, saying that he would "never have voted" for the congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to go to war, just a day after saying that he likely would have voted for it.

On a campaign trip to Florida on Thursday, Clark told reporters, after some equivocation, that he "probably" would have supported the Iraq resolution approved by Congress last fall, though he went on to say that he was "against the war as it emerged" and that he did not believe the war should have been launched when it was.

What's important to remember here is that Clark's first comment was probably his true opinion, and the second that of his handlers. While many are attributing the change to inexperience, this is why the change was made: while the first view would have been agreeable to most of the American people and indeed to most Democratic voters, many of whom supported, with or without doubts, the Iraq war, the second is designed to appeal to Democratic primary voters and caucus attenders - who unfortunately tend to be way to the left of most Democratic and independent voters. This frequently cripples Democratic presidential candidates and results in entirely unsuitable candidates like Mondale and Dukakis, and suggests that the Democrats need to somehow take the freaks out of the presidential selection process. That's not very democratic, but it had better become Democratic, or we'll get a candidate like Dean - a good, decent, likable, honest man, who is also unelectable.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Serbian Attacks Clark

Clearly missing the happy days of slaughtering Muslims, a Serbian on a pro-Serbian site has attacked General Wesley Clark as a "mass murderer," which is pretty funny considering the source. I won't quote from the site, but do encourage all of you to read it. Clark's staff should read it as well, because it's very likely the duckspeakers will pick up some of this bullcrap and start flinging it.

Thanks to my friend Gary for pointing out the link!

A Cautious but Hopeful Take on Clark

Bob Herbert, who I always enjoy reading whether I agree with him or not, has a piece in the NYT this morning about Clark which is cautious yet hopeful.

The comparisons of General Clark to a fellow named Eisenhower are as overblown at this point as they are inevitable. But there's a lot that any candidate can learn from the Eisenhower model: the quick and endearing smile, the optimism, the quiet sense of strength, the ability to read and reflect the national mood.

We'll know a lot more about General Clark soon enough. Meanwhile, the Democrats should welcome him not as a savior but as someone with the potential to energize their stagnant field of presidential contenders.

Herbert makes an important point in his conclusion. Many commentators argue that Clark has entered the race too late, but I believe that he's arrived at pretty much the right time because it's obvous that the current frontrunner can't win, and that the rest of the field is indeed stagnant at best.

Letter from an American Soldier

The Guardian printed this morning a letter from a soldier serving in the 101st Airborne in Iraq, Tim Predmore. Dubya and Ronald Dumsfeld aren't going like this:

As soldiers serving in Iraq, we have been told that our purpose is to help the people of Iraq by providing them with the necessary assistance militarily, as well as in humanitarian efforts. Then tell me where the humanity is in the recent account in Stars and Stripes (the newspaper of the US military) of two young children brought to a US military camp by their mother in search of medical care.

The two children had, unknowingly, been playing with explosive ordnance they had found, and as a result they were severely burned. The account tells how, after an hour-long wait, they - two children - were denied care by two US military doctors. A soldier described the incident as one of many "atrocities" on the part of the US military he had witnessed.

Thankfully, I have not personally been a witness to atrocities - unless, of course, you consider, as I do, that this war in Iraq is the ultimate atrocity.

All the way from "shock and awe" to "Apocalypse Now."

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Wacky New Fossil!

Animals just used to be cooler. Check this out:

It would be an exterminator’s worst nightmare: A 1,545-pound rodent with a voracious appetite and big teeth. Resembling a guinea pig grown to the size of a buffalo, the animal lived millions of years ago in a South American swamp and is thought to be history’s biggest rodent

Neat! Imagine buying guinea pig chow for this thing. Whew! More detailed coverage here.

Apollo Redux?

One of the suggested configurations for the "shuttle replacement" - really a misnomer since NASA actually needs a couple of different vehicles to replace the shuttle, one a taxi for the space station and other orbital needs, one a "pickup truck" to carry supplies, like a bigger version of the Russian Progress, and a "big rig" to haul up large loads - is an updated Apollo capsule. While this sounds like a bit of a step back, it has a couple of advantages. For one thing, the ballistic shape is thoroughly understood and design will be pretty straightforward. Although the original Apollos only carried three astronauts, during the Skylab flights a special "rescue Apollo" was available that had five seats, and indeed a design with four or five seats would be more useful. Lastly, and I hadn't thought of it until I read this article, an updated Apollo would, unlike the shuttle, be capable of lunar flights.

The capsule design gained momentum in March from a study headed by astronaut John Young, who has flown in both capsules and shuttles.

Young, as well as Michael Kostelnick, head of NASA's human space flight program, cite the versatility of the capsule, which can move beyond low Earth orbit to the moon or beyond.

Rogacki said the orbital space plane requirements did not demand the vehicle be capable of deep space travel but that NASA will be looking at its ability to support missions beyond the International Space Station.

"There is a great potential for using the orbital space plane system as a basis for future exploration vehicles," Rogacki said.

The thermal tiles and wing panels used on the shuttle today could not withstand the heat and stress of trans-lunar re-entries.

The fact that John Young is involved in this study gives me confidence. Sometimes older is better, and this could be a money-saving solution for NASA.


Dubya: "We Lied!"

Unfortunately President Stupid didn't actually say that, but after Rumsfeld's remarks about no links between Saddam and 9/11, Dubya had to choose either to lie more or tell the truth and hope it gets buried by all the hurricane chatter. Bet you won't hear the duckspeakers talking about this either, since Ann Coulter, Limbaugh, and the rest of the quacking brigrade have been screeching about this for months. Strangely, the SCLM defends Dubya:

The White House has never said Mr. Hussein was part of the Sept. 11 plot, though from the moment of the attacks there was a search to determine whether he was linked. As Mr. Bush has described the Iraq conflict as part of the war on terror, he has drawn a loose connection, saying that after Sept. 11, 2001, the United States could no longer tolerate the kind of threat Mr. Hussein posed or risk that Mr. Hussein's weapons could reach the hands of terrorists.

I don't have the quotes immediately at hand, but I believe that the administration has, since 9/11 itself, been making that connection continually. More on this later.

Saudis Want the Bomb?

So the Saudis are seriously considering acquiring nuclear weapons, i.e. "weapons of mass destruction." Considering that these are the pests most responsible for 9/11, will Dubya turn the troops in Iraq around? This is one I'd be 100% behind.

A strategy paper being considered at the highest levels in Riyadh sets out three options:

· To acquire a nuclear capability as a deterrent;

· To maintain or enter into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection;

· To try to reach a regional agreement on having a nuclear-free Middle East.

We shall see which option they pick.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Where's He Been?

SecDef Ronald Dumsfeld says there's no link between Sodamn Insane and 9/11. Gee, wish he'd share that info with Dubya!

At a Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld was asked about a poll that indicated nearly 70 percent of respondents believed the Iraqi leader probably was personally involved.

"I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that," Rumsfeld said.

He added: "We know he was giving $25,000 a family for anyone who would go out and kill innocent men, women and children. And we know of various other activities. But on that specific one, no, not to my knowledge."

Hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Early Clark Reaction

The blogsphere is beginning to react to the impending announcement of General Clark's candidacy. Mark Kleiman has a good take on it:

I am convinced that he would be the strongest candidate against Bush, and have a weaker but still distinct belief that he might well make the best President as well.

His strength as a candidate comes partly from his resume and partly from his novelty as a politician and the attendant lack of baggage. Partly the resume issue is a pure quality one: Would you rather have, as President, someone who was first in his class at West Point and won a Rhodes Scholarship or one who earned gentleman's C's at Yale? A Silver Star holder or an AWOL? But partly it's his ability, based on his resume, to make the security issue, and the Saudi connection issue, against Bush.

In addition, the combination of being Southern and being military means that Clark will not naturally be seen as a cultural threat by Red-state voters. No non-Southerner has won the White House for the Democrats since JFK in 1960. Graham has the same advantage, but his campaign seems to be going nowhere. Edwards has it to a lesser extent; yes, he's Southern and grew up poor, but he's now a multimillionaire blow-dried Yuppie tort lawyer. Dean, and to an even greater extent Kerry, are going to be pure poison among voters who long for the 1950s; Kerry isn't just a liberal politically, he's a Grateful Dead fan. Well, so am I, but that's not going to sell in North Florida.

Indeed not. Democrats must unite behind a candidate who can win and win convincingly. Face facts, Dean is likeable but is unelectable. Kerry and Edwards might have a chance, but the rest are simply ridiculously out of their depth.

Mark is inviting his readers to join him in donating to General Clark's campaign. I've already donated, but intend to give more. And I'll need to replace my "Draft Clark" bumper sticker!

tompaine.com has a good article as well:

In the end, Bush will have Karl Rove and about $200 million to make sure that security is foremost in the minds of the voters. Rove's team will do its best to create the impression that the Democratic nominee is soft on security. You might call it a process of Dukakisification -- and there is no candidate riper for being Dukakisified than Howard Dean.

Which candidate is least susceptible to such an attack? Gen. Wesley Clark. Indeed, it's difficult to even conceive of how the Bush team could use the security issue against the likes of a West Point grad, Vietnam veteran, four-star general, and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. I imagine the first thing they'd do is mothball the footage taken when Bush played dress-up on the aircraft carrier....

...If Democrats were wise, they'd coalesce around the candidate who not only neutralizes the security issue but may very well capture it -- and the White House -- for the party.

Amen, friend.

General Clark will be making a special pre-announcement webcast to his supporters at 6:30 am EDT tomorrow (hey, he's a military guy! They get up early!) at http://www.draftwesleyclark.com/.

CLARK'S IN!

Retired General Wesley Clark will announce tomorrow his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential nomination! More later.

Shrug

Remember, everyone, if a court steals the presidential election for the Republicans, it's OK. If a court delays the Republican-created California recall election, it's a monstrous invasion of "democracy:"

This afternoon, right-wing radio was cranked up, crackling with accusations of a coup, cronyism and crass political maneuvering.

"Clinton comes to town and a day later two of his appointees on the appellate court decide to nix the election," said Roger Hedgecock, an influential radio personality in San Diego.

"I'm struck by the similarity between California and Venezuela," Mr. Hedgecock said. "Last week there was a recall attempt on Chávez down there. The signatures were turned in and his committee throws them out as invalid. That's what you had today. This is the stuff of a banana republic."

Even in the liberal precincts of San Francisco, the voice of the angry right was heard. The governorship, finally within the Republican grasp after five years in the wilderness, may have been yanked away.

"This is definitely a left-wing conspiracy," said Melanie Morgan, the host of the KSFO rush-hour program in San Francisco. "The court has stolen Californians' right to vote. It's partisan, bald-faced theft. We were so close to having this done. I'm exhausted."

Now now, duckspeakers. What goes around...comes around.

Calpundit Interviews Krugman

Fascinating interview with Paul Krugman over at Calpundit. Here's a little teaser to inspire you:

Take this catastrophe in Alabama just now. It was a dispute about taxes, but what's ultimately at stake is, are they going to do anything to improve that dismal primary education system in Alabama or is it going to get even worse because of the budget crisis? And the answer is, it's going to get even worse.

It's funny, some of the businesses in Alabama were supporting Riley's tax plan because they actually are starting to understand that a decent education level is more important to them than a couple of points off their taxes. But it gets harder to have that sort of enlightened social policy when you have a society that's so radically differentiated. Think of Latin America. The characteristic thing in Latin America is that they have lousy infrastructure and lousy education systems because they're so polarized on income, and in turn that leads to low development and polarized income. You get this kind of downward spiral. And there's something like that happening here.

Read it. There are some thoughtful reader comments at the bottom, too.

It's Happening Here Too

Not much notice in the national press as of yet - not much from the big city press in Ohio either - , but Ohio's dimwitted Republican Secretary of State, the egregious Ken Blackwell, is trying to jumpstart his campaign (here and here too) to become first black governor of Ohio by attempting to push a recall of the emergency 1% sales tax increase that was passed (by the Republican legislature) to drag Ohio out of fiscal crisis. Blackwell believes that this tax is a horrible burden on Ohioans. Earth to Ken: I personally have barely noticed it. I will notice, however, if you repeal it and start slashing necessary programs in the classic Republican fashion. Go away, Ken.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Saving the GOP's Soul

Great piece over at The Right Christians today that asks the vital question, "Does the Republican Party Have a Soul?" I would agree that it currently does not, and by any objective Christian standard is a party that is almost Satanic in its hatred of the poor, treatment of the sick, attacks on countries that have not attacked us, willingness to lie, and its utter and complete contempt for democracy. It is in fact a party whose soul has been stolen by a relatively small group of extremely evil and venal men and women. Is there a man or woman who can save it?

Surely the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Barry Goldwater cannot become the party of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter without a fight from Republicans who still believe in decency and truth. Who might be willing to stand up and offer Republicans the opportunity to vote in their primaries for fiscal responsibility, a foreign policy that seeks to build rather than destroy international consensus, and backing for the troops that have been placed in Iraq and Afghanistan without regard to political expediency?

My choice would be John McCain, a man I greatly admire, but the piece gives several equally viable alternatives. Necessary reading, friends.

Whew!

Thunderbird pilot ejects just in time! Film at eleven? Nope, pretty good film at MSNBC.com! I've seen the Thunderbirds several times, from their F-100D days, through the F-4s, T-38s, and now their F-16s, and they always put on a wonderful show. It's great to hear that the pilot is OK and that no one on the ground was hurt.

More on Taxes

Being on vacation, I missed this great piece by Paul Krugman in the NYT Sunday:

A result of the tax-cut crusade is that there is now a fundamental mismatch between the benefits Americans expect to receive from the government and the revenues government collect. This mismatch is already having profound effects at the state and local levels: teachers and policemen are being laid off and children are being denied health insurance. The federal government can mask its problems for a while, by running huge budget deficits, but it, too, will eventually have to decide whether to cut services or raise taxes. And we are not talking about minor policy adjustments. If taxes stay as low as they are now, government as we know it cannot be maintained. In particular, Social Security will have to become far less generous; Medicare will no longer be able to guarantee comprehensive medical care to older Americans; Medicaid will no longer provide basic medical care to the poor.

It's long, but it's very much worth your time to read.

While on the subject of Krugman, Kevin Drum over at Calpundit will shortly be posting an interview he did with Krugman. Something to watch for, for certain.

Grover Norquist is an Ass

The egregious fool Grover "no taxes r kewl!" Norquist has penned a ridiculous screed in the Washington Post this morning sneering happily about the defeat of the Alabama tax reform measure and informing politicians that they should not even think about new taxes as the US spirals into mass poverty and the rich get richer and richer. Rrrriiight.

The lesson learned at the national level in 1990 and 1992 is now being painfully learned at the state level: A Republican cannot be elected and govern successfully -- that is, in such a way as to make possible reelection or higher office -- without staking out an unequivocal anti-tax-hike position.

I hate to spoil your celebration, Grover, but eventually the American people will wake up to this poison you've been spreading so successfully for years. Taxes are necessary, sometimes it's necessary to raise them, and a society of 10% rich and 90% poor or scrabbling is ripe for bloody revolution - especially in a country awash with guns and where the Army comes almost universally from the poor side of town. If you want that, Grover, fine.

And what a shame that the WP thinks it needs to give "equal time" to this idiot.

And Along Those Lines....

Robert Reich, writing in USAToday believes, correctly, that the wealthy parasites ought to pony up for Dubya's Iraq debacle.

The top income tax rate rose during World War I to 77%. In World War II, it reached more than 90%. In 1953, with the Cold War raging, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower refused to support a Republican move to reduce it. By 1980, it was still way up there, at 70%. Then Ronald Reagan slashed it to 28%, giving us the lowest top tax rate of all modern industrialized nations. Because Reagan kept spending record sums on the military, the federal deficit ballooned. A few years after that, the Berlin Wall came down, ending the Cold War. We congratulated ourselves and then faced the largest budget deficit since World War II.

It seems only fair that the rich should pay proportionately more, especially now that the cost of the war against terrorism is rising. They're the only ones with money to spare. Look at the numbers: In 1979, the top 5% of earners took home 16.4% of total family income, but by 2001, their share had increased to 22.4%. In contrast, in 1979 the bottom 60% of earners took home 31.4% of total income; by 2001 their share had declined to 26.8%.

Besides, the very richest Americans benefit disproportionately from a stable federal government that protects their property and maintains public tranquility.

Viz my comments on bloody revolution above. Remember, repugs, the top rate under that notable socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was 90%, and we still had scads of rich people. We also had a flourishing middle class, which is at this point well on its way to disappearing, and which is the foundation of a stable society.

Pop quiz! Which notable socialist said this:

"The man of great wealth owes a particular obligation to the state because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government."

Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, back in the pre-Norquist days. It's time for the Republicans to purge their party of these sociopaths and return to the fold of true Republicanism as personified by Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Chicago!

I will be in Chicago Friday through Sunday, so probably no updates until I return.

Benny the Moose

Big headline on MSNBC today: BERLUSCONI DEFENDS MUSSOLINI. And this surprises people in what way?

I Become a Parasite for a Day!

I am one of those people who fulminate against the cretins who drive SUVs and giant pickup trucks who don't need them (sorry, soccer mom, you do not need a Lincoln Navigator) and are ensuring that we continue to kowtow to the House of Saud. Well, I took my Ford Focus in for service yesterday, and in lieu of waiting for a part my dealer generously offered me a free loaner. Of course I took it...went over to the Enterprise car rental (they have a car rental on lot - this dealership is so vast it must be seen to be believed) and was told that all they had at the moment was a pickup truck. Fine, we have an S-10 at home...imagine my reaction when I found out that the "pickup truck" was a flame red Dodge Ram crew cab 4x4. This is certainly the biggest thing I've ever driven...thank God there was a handle so I could drag myself into the capacious cockpit. So, for a day, I was the person I fume about, rumbling around town intimidating people (the reaction at Chipotle today at lunch was priceless). An interesting experience...think I'll stick to my Focus.

9/11

None of us will forget where we were or what we were doing when we found out. I was at work. At about 8:55 am I got on MSNBC.com to check the morning news, and at the top of the page was a flash announcement that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Thinking, like everyone else at that point, that it was an accident, I and a couple of coworkers went downstairs to the lunchroom to watch CNN. We hadn't been watching for a minute before the second plane hit. There was a great deal of speculation that something was wrong with the air traffic control system or the weather or something, and CNN kept yapping about it being a "commuter plane," but three things were evident: even if something was wrong with the air traffic control system, the visibility was perfect and no pilot with half a brain (unlike Mohammed Atta and his similarly cretinous followers) was going to fly into something that big and visible. Lastly, it wasn't a "small commuter plane," it was at least the size of a 737 (and turned out to be the somewhat bigger 757). America was at war. The rest of the day was a long nightmare of horror and rumors and trying to work while the world fell apart. And I will also never forget the two days of silence that followed when air traffic was grounded (although I still wonder about the plane I heard departing out of Port Columbus around 5:30 on September 11, which scared the living hell out of me, let me tell you). When the attack on Afghanistan started several weeks later I was able to inform a McDonald's crew of the fact and for the first and last time in my life was the occasion for cheering. And nothing has been the same since.

For the dead of 9/11, the innocent victims and the heroes who died trying to save them, as the British put it:

They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them.


Indeed.

Ridiculous Attack on OSU

Ron Borges has written a screeching commentary on OSU's treatment of the Maurice Clarett problem that is just insanely over the top. Read and shrug.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Someone Should Hang

In spite of happy assurances that the area around Ground Zero was "safe" for rescue and recovery efforts and for people in the area to go back to work and return to their homes, it turns out that the burning ruins, no surprise, really, spewed toxic fumes "like a chemical factory." Not that the sociopaths in the Bush administration cared. After all, they were safe in Washington.

Come on, America, how much more will you take from this crew?

Weird in Alabama

Mark Kleiman, who is reliably interesting, has an analysis of the Alabama tax reform vote over at his blog.

And it's impossible to ignore the racial subtext here: part of the reason the poor white people of Alabama, who would materially have been winners from the plan, voted against it was their disinclination to have the state do anything for Alabama's poor blacks. They're willing to remain poor and ignorant if that's what it takes to keep blacks even poorer and more ignorant. (A quarrel between the black leadership and the governor, plus what is by now the usual round of deceptive ads paid for by conservatives purporting to warn blacks of evil white plots against them, cost the program black votes as well.)

Mark has a valid point, but I wonder if just as important a factor in the poor white vote was the fact that these are the people who are the enthusiastic listeners of the right wing duckspeakers like Rush Limbaugh who have been filling their not tremendously well educated heads (how could they be well educated in Alabama? My God, how does anyone escape from that state?!) with a mixture of hate and lies for years. They really believe the Republican line that all taxes are bad, and a lot of them are firmly convinced - and I've heard this from poor whites - that if the gummint would just get the hell out of their hair, they'd be rich like Bill Gates in an instant. Now of course that's ridiculous, but a lot of people fall for it every day, and it too is a factor in what happened in Alabama.

Don't Let the Door Hit You in the Butt, Maurice

As the egregious Maurice Clarett winds up his somewhat curious career with the OSU Buckeyes, here's a great opinion piece on the topic.

What was Clarett doing driving around town in a car - one equipped with expensive stereo equipment and two televisions - that he got "on loan" from a dealership? Did he receive financial assistance from a booster or sports agent? Why was the freshman allowed to live alone off campus? Did he falsify a police report, or is he lying now to get the NCAA off his tail?

Depending on his mood on a particular day, Clarett either will return to Ohio State, sue the NFL in order to be eligible for the draft before 2005, or transfer to I-AA school Grambling.

It just further illustrates that Clarett is just another athlete so impressed with his own ability that he believes he's entitled to riches and glory - as much as he can gather, as fast as he can get it.

It's the entitlement syndrome, and there is no easy cure. Not when you have a Jim Brown calling a college athletic director "a slave master."

No kidding. And not when Clarett's mother thinks her kid is a meal ticket either. This young man, who had a promising career ahead of him at Ohio State, is well on the road to becoming just another punk. Shame.

Shipping Yourself Update

More on the nitwit who shipped himself to Texas...one wonders if it's just occured to al Queda- remember them? Dubya doesn't - that putting a couple fanatics in a crate with a crowbar and a couple of guns would be a really nifty way to hijack a cargo flight.

Alabama - Really Stupid

Evidently the poor in Alabama are just as stupid as outsiders think they are, and the rich in Alabama are glad that they are, and, for that matter, rich all over America, for they know more than ever that the poor will stupidly vote against their own interests time and time again.

Riley, who was elected in November, said closing Alabama's $675 million deficit primarily with budget cuts would bring about a "catastrophic failure of government" because the state had starved basic services. Alabama has the nation's lowest state and local taxes per capita and ranks near the bottom in tests of public school performance. It also has more than 28,000 inmates in a prison system built for 12,000, and its state police force has only six troopers patrolling 67,500 miles of roadway after midnight. Riley's plan also aimed to shift the tax burden to the wealthiest Alabamians, who pay an effective tax rate of 3 percent, from the poorest, who pay 12 percent.

So, Alabama cretins, when your state sinks even farther down the shithole in the next couple of years, don't come crying to us. Crawl back into your hovels. Go away.

More on this later, I suspect.

Shipping Yourself!

Have you all read about the guy who shipped himself home to save on airfare?! Pretty funny...not so funny if he'd been put in the cold baggage compartment, though. It reminds me of the many times I've suggested FedExing my boss to Atlanta to save on Delta's rapacious airfares.

"Winning" Elections Through the Wonders of Technology

I and others online have fulminated against electronic voting and the probability of fraud. There's a pretty good summing-up of the situation here. Remember - exit polling stopped working a few years ago. Why? Read and think.

Two Republican dominated corporations, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), and Diebold Voting Systems, now control 80% of the vote count in the United States. As this transition has moved forward, a pattern of election upsets which overwhelmingly favor Republican candidates is emerging.

It sure is. Danger danger, as Steve Irwin would say.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

New Safety Culture at NASA has Smashing Debut!

Who in the world was was smoking what when the NOAA-N Prime spacecraft (a new weather satellite for NOAA) was DROPPED AND BROKEN Saturday at Lockheed Martin's Sunnyvale plant:

The mishap was caused because 24 bolts were missing from a fixture in the “turn over cart”. Two errors occurred. First, technicians from another satellite program that uses the same type of “turn over cart” removed the 24 bolts from the NOAA cart on September 4 without proper documentation. Second, the NOAA team working today failed to follow the procedure to verify the configuration of the NOAA “turn over cart” since they had used it a few days earlier.

Good God! Now admittedly this happened at a contractor, not at NASA, but it's pretty endemic of the way the space program, civilian, military, manned and unmanned, is toddling along these days. Note how technicians for one satellite had to cannibilize the bolts from the fixture, probably because there wasn't, as usual, enough money to buy enough for both programs.

Click the link and check out the picture. What a flipping mess.

The Republican Program - Going Great Under Dubya!

Eric Alterman posted a reader letter today that pretty much sums up the successes - yes, successes - of the Dubya regime (Jo Fish over at Democratic Underground today called our President-Appointee Short Bus George, which is a great new nickname for Augustus Jr.).

Is it possible that what we think of as Bush failures, he thinks of as successes? Certainly the enormous budget deficit is deliberate, having been a central Republican tenet since Reaganomics, with the long-term goal being the fiscally forced elimination of Social Security, since the R’s have conceded political-ideological defeat on this issue. Given that they count this apparent failure as a success (and I don’t see how anybody could argue that the deficit is inadvertant), what other obvious failures could be seen as successes by completely unscrupulous villains?

High unemployment: Forces long term wage and benefit concessions, puts unions on their heels. Success.

Increase in homelessness: Increases economic insecurity for the lower classes, making them more likely to docilely accept terrible work situations. Success.

Defeat in the drug war: Gives an excuse to lock up huge percentages of poor people, especially poor people of color, especially poor men of color. Given the historically inarguable “conservative” animus against people of color, especially men of color, I think they’d chalk this up as success too. The addicts not in prison are destroying their lives and severely damaging the lives of people around them. Success.

War on terror and insufficient homeland security: Since the Bush administration OFFICIALLY stated that an invasion of Iraq would likely result in INCREASED terrorism against Americans, I can only imagine that they count the lack of a terrorist sequel of the September 11 Atrocity as a failure. Karl Rove saw Bush’s numbers skyrocket when foreigners murdered thousands of Americans. Given their completely unscrupulous villainy, why should we trust that they don’t deliberately want that to happen again, especially since their actions seem to show it?

Americans have a tremendous capacity for denial. We simply don’t want to believe that our leaders really, really mean to do most of us serious, serious harm.

Which I think mostly nails it. And Americans do have a horrible capacity for denial. For the majority of nitwits out there, as long as they have their cable TV, cheap booze, free porn on the web, and a rickety roof over their heads, everything is just nifty-keen. Remember, the average American reads - brace yourself - one book a year, and gets his news from the local TV station, which, if it's anything like the ones here in Columbus, mostly covers "today's murders!" and the occasional photo op by the mayor with a 15 second squib of "national news." Dubya's mystifying approval ratings and the incredible number of people who still believe that Sodamn Insane was responsible for 9/11 rather than our glorious allies the Saudis can be largely accounted for, after allowing for a 20-25% base of Republican fanatics, by the fact that most people just don't care enough to really find out what's going on. Eventually, they will care - when the economy collapses, when their job is shipped to India and the only job they can find is at Wal-Mart, when they have no social security or medicare benefits, or maybe when their kid is shipped home in a body bag from the latest Imperial dust-up, but until then, the vast majority just can't be bothered. And it's part of the responsibility of the Democratic party to start educating the populace about some of this. As Orwell put it, democracy means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear, and it's time to start shouting it from the rooftops: The Republicans are not the party of God, not the party of the flag, not the party of defense. They are dedicated to the proposition that it's best if most Americans are poor and dumb and a few people control 90% of the wealth and all of the political power. The Republicans will send your children to die in foreign wars, but not their own. The Republicans care less if your children have decent schooling because they send theirs elsewhere. The Republicans care less if you have a decent job, a decent home, retirement, health care; that would cut into their fortunes. If you're black or hispanic, the Republicans will dribble a little lip service your way and then screw you any way they can. The Republicans exist only to enrich their central power base and will lie, cheat and steal to feather their own nests. The Republicans will buy large quantities of weapons that do not work in order to funnel money to their contributers. They will wave the flag not because they honor it, but to fool people into thinking they do while in the meantime they ship your job overseas and ship in as many immigrants, legal and elsewise, to force down your wages and benefits and bust your unions. And on, and on, and on, ad infinitum. Yes, this has been a rant, but my God, what I have seen happen to my country in my own lifetime! Dubya ends his speeches with a pious and lying "God bless America." All I can say is, "God save America."

Eric Alterman a Week Early!

Sometime last week Eric Alterman, in his Altercation blog on MSNBC.com, commented that a film about the Iraq craziness could be made only by Leni Riefenstahl "if she were still alive." After I and other readers pointed out that Leni Riefenstahl was still indeed still alive, he changed the remark slightly to acknowledge that fact. Well, Eric was a week early. Leni Riefenstahl, who will always be remembered as the filmographer to Hitler, died yesterday in Germany at the age of 101.

Monday, September 08, 2003

What is Hitchens Smoking?

Christopher "I am the true heir of Eric Blair" Hitchens has written a screed on the upcoming 9/11 anniversary for Slate. Hitchens, who has been drifting steadily from being well to the left of Ho Chi Minh to being well to the right of Mussolini (it must be mindbending to rocket from being the dupe of the left to being the dupe of the right in one short lifetime, by the way), once again feels impelled to roll out the hoary Excuse of the Neocons:

Let me take the strongest objection to my interpretation, which is that the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were exploited by conservatives to settle accounts with Saddam Hussein and that many Americans have been fooled into war by thinking that Iraq was behind the attacks. Leave aside the glaring and germane fact that Saddam was and is in partnership with the forces of jihad

Earth to Orwell Jr.: admittedly Sodamn Insane was giving money to families of Palestinian suicide bombers. That's bad. However, he was not in any documented way involved with Osama bin Laden and al Queda and in fact was diametrically opposed to them, and Bin Laden hated and despised the secular Saddam in his turn. So please, please, stop repeating this. You and Dubya and the other neocons have conned 70% of the American people into thinking of Saddam every time they see the towers fall so they forget that the monster who planned this atrocity is still, conveniently, at large. Go away, Christopher. Go away.

Take a Hike, Dubya

Dubya came last night, hat in hand, to the American people, to once again lie and distort. Claiming that Iraq is the centerpiece of the "war" on terrorism - which it is not and should not be - President Stupid solemnly intoned, trying his best to imitate JFK and failing dismally:

"We will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom, and to make our own nation more secure."

Rrrrrighttt. So far Dubya's record on this line has been horrible, and now he's asking for $87 billion more. Congress, if it had any courage at all and was not infested with borrow and spend Republicans, should tell President Stupid that sure, he can have $87 billion - and it's coming right out of his wealthy parasite tax cuts. As the Washington Post put it this morning:

One set of questions has more to do with America's economic future than with Iraq's. For two years the president has been warning that the war on terror will be long and arduous. He now acknowledges that the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, important components of that war, themselves will cost tens of billions of dollars. And yet he refuses to adjust for that reality in the budgets he proposes. He argues for more and more tax cuts that would prevent the government from paying both for the war and for domestic needs. Congress cannot follow the president's irresponsible lead on this score.

But no. More borrowed money and more American lives - pretty much universally from the poor side of town - will undoubtedly pour down this particular sinkhole, and terrorists will rejoice to see the wonderful recruiting ground that Dubya and the neocons created for them.

This part of Dubya's speech is especially laughable:

"America has done this kind of work before. Following World War II, we lifted up the defeated nations of Japan and Germany, and stood with them as they built representative governments. We committed years and resources to this cause. And that effort has been repaid many times over in three generations of friendship and peace. America today accepts the challenge of helping Iraq in the same spirit, for their sake and our own."

Earth calling Dubya - Iraq isn't Japan or Germany. Japan and Germany realized at the end of World War II that they were defeated nations, and fully cooperated in our efforts to rebuild them, becoming our allies in the process. Iraqis don't feel this way, they won't cooperate, and they want us the hell out. And, unlike Germany and Japan, Iraqis comprise at least three factions that all either want to control a future Iraq or to have their own country. Bush's comparision is almost as ludicrous as the not over-bright former Professor Condoleezza Rice comparing Iraqi resistence to the (nonexistent) German Werwolf organization that was supposed to make life hell for the Allies in a defeated Germany.

And of course now that things are going badly, Dubya wants our erstwhile allies - "Freedom Fries," "cheese eating surrender monkeys," etc. - to pitch in and help. France, Germany, do us a favor - tell this nitwit to hit the road.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Bush Family and the Nazis

Orcinus is running a multipart series on the connections of the Bush family to, no surprise, the Nazis. Part One and Part Two are currently up. Right wing duckspeakers have of late been trying to smear anyone discussing this, but guess what? Unlike most of what Bush spews, it's true.OK, Ann Coulter, who's committing treason? It is a thoroughly damning story: read it and watch for more.

Bill Maher Talks with the General

Someone over at Democratic Underground posted an unofficial transcript of General Wesley Clark's recent interview with Bill Maher. Lots of good stuff there:

Maher: Aren't Republicans supposed to be the ones who are efficient like that? I understood Bill Clinton, he was the guy with the pizza boxes in the dorm room, late for meetings, but how come the efficient Republicans were the ones who said "Oh dude! We forgot the post-war!" (audience applause and laughter) It's a mystery to me.

Clark: I was in the Ford Administration, I know a lot of these guys, and of course I'm friends with the military guys. When I went through there, I asked them, this was a year ago, I said what's going to happen after you get in there? We knew it wasn't going to be much of a fight. They said we really are having a hard time getting a plan because the civilians don't want to ask these questions, they don't want to hear about it. The only thing I can figure is a lot of these civilian leaders, hadn't, they weren't really students of military operations. Because every serious student of warfare understands it's not about smashing the enemy army, it's about getting to the end state. It's the political objective that you're going at. And I think the Republicans got mesmerized about the weapons!

Maher: They all talk about the military, though very few of them served, like mmm-mmm (pointing to Bush doll).

It's a dangerous situation when civilians get a big charge out of weaponry, and it's no coincidence that half the shows on TLC, Discovery, History Channel, etc, are about killing machines, presented the way a new car would be: something cool, neat, fascinating. Not a horrible waste of money, not something designed to kill people, often something that doesn't do the job it's supposed to (Apache Longbow, anyone? There's the biggest flipping waste of money in years). There is something psychologically sick about all of this emphasis on weapons. Unlike the chickenhawks around Bush, Clark has seen dead people - killed in combat. He knows what it means, and I'd rather have someone like that in office instead of some idiot who thinks the Abrams tank is "cool" and M-16s are "neat."

Maher: OK. I'm just wondering, of all the people who have the credentials to say "liberal" is not a bad word, I'm wondering if I could get you to say that.

Clark: Well, I'll say it right now.

Maher: Good for you!

Clark: We live in a liberal democracy. That's what we created in this country. It's in our constitution! We should be very clear on this... this country was founded on the principles of the enlightenment. It was the idea that people could talk, have reasonable dialogue and discuss the issues. It wasn't founded on the idea that someone would get struck by a divine inspiration and know everything, right from wrong. People who founded this country had religion, they had strong beliefs, but they believed in reason, and dialogue, and civil discourse. We can't lose that in this country. We've got to get it back.

Thank you, General. It's Job One.

Electronic Voting = Vote Stealing

I'm completely opposed to electronic voting because it's an obvious way for the Republicans to permanently slant the vote everywhere in their favor. It may already be happening. Has anyone else noticed that exit polling, for years an accurate predictor of the vote, simply stopped working a few years ago, so much so that at least one company that had specialized in it gave up and went out of business? Hmm? Anyway, Jeanne d'Arc over at Body and Soul has a very interesting first-person account of what happened in her town when electronic voting reared its exceptionally ugly head:

The machines are made by Diebold, which looks about as fair and balanced as Fox News, but there's a paper trail -- boxes of scantron cards that anybody could look at if there were any suspicions of fraud, or even honest error. What could go wrong?

Plenty. In the March 2002 primary election, the vote counts from our absentee and mail-in ballots showed up on Diebold's Web site in the middle of the afternoon -- four and a half hours before the polls closed.

What the hell was Diebold doing looking at our vote counts in the middle of election day? And how did they get those votes?

Unfortunately, our local paper misses the point by focusing on whether the information was "in the public domain on election day" and whether Diebold having the information affected the final vote. The central point really is that it was illegal for Diebold to have that information before the polls were closed, and whether or not the vote count was manipulated in this election (and there's no evidence that it was), this breach shows that Diebold clearly has the ability to manipulate an election.

Exactly. And Diebold is the finalist to bring their vote warping junk here to Ohio. This is a very important issue. It could mean the effective end of democracy in the United States. Please keep an eye on the coming of electronic voting to your own areas, and do all you can to oppose it and monitor it.

Malden Mills

Many of us have been inspired by the story of Aaron Feuerstein who, after his factory was destroyed by fire, vowed to rebuild and reemploy his workers instead of shipping their jobs overseas. To me, Feuerstein was proof that capitalism could have a human face, concerned with both profits and the good of its workers. It's worth remembering that the American economic miracle of the 20th century really began when Henry Ford (far from the most humanistic of men, of course) realized that he could increase his profits by paying his workers a wage high enough to afford the product they made - the Model T Ford. Today, of course, our glorious business leaders feather their beds by shipping working class jobs overseas to places where workers can hardly afford a bowl of rice after a day's work and live in hovels, and to hell with their American ex-employees, who are told to "retrain" for junk jobs in the service sector that may pay a third of what their factory job did, with fewer or, more often, no benefits. It's sad to report that now Aaron Feuerstein's dream is about to come to an end and thousands of American workers will lose their jobs because, no surprise, of the greed and blindness of a bank, as David Broder reports:

But now Malden Mills and its state-of-the-art factory face a new crisis -- a pending decision by the three-member board of the federal Export-Import Bank that is crucial to its escaping from the post-fire bankruptcy. At stake are 1,200 good factory jobs held by residents of Massachusetts and New Hampshire that otherwise are likely to be transferred to China.

Creditors, who have announced plans to move production overseas if they take control of the company, have given Feuerstein and his family until Sept. 10 to complete the financing of his plan to buy back the company his grandfather founded early in the 1900s -- a company that says it has turned in $1 billion worth of export sales in the past decade.

Ex-Im has made a tentative commitment of a $20 million loan guarantee, but the company says it needs at least $35 million to make the financing work. Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, the two Republican senators from New Hampshire and the Democratic delegation from Massachusetts, led by Sen. Ted Kennedy, all have urged Ex-Im Chairman Philip Merrill to help the company and save the jobs.

At a time when growing national attention -- symbolized by a Labor Day speech by President Bush -- has focused on the loss of manufacturing jobs, this would seem a no-brainer. But so far, Ex-Im and Chairman Merrill are balking.

Of course they are. Here's what the Chairman of the Ex-Im Bank has to say:

"Our policy has been to finance exports -- the movement of goods and services -- not factories."

Rrriiiight. One would think that a FEDERAL bank would be answerable to the people, but of course not. Perish the thought.

New 9/11 Video Surfaces

A new video of the events of 9/11 in New York has just been released almost two years after the tragedy. Made as a "video postcard" by an immigrant Czech worker to send home to his family, the tape is the second known to have captured the the first plane impacting Tower One and may provide some new insights into that event. Indeed, Federal investigators are eager to obtain the tape. The tape also shows the second impact, and is the only tape to have captured both. The story of how the tape was made, and more or less overlooked for two years, is very interesting and worth a read.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

And Just How Surprised Would Everyone Be?

Sometime in the week before September 11, 2001, someone decided that on September 11 the President and much of the cabinet would be out of Washington "reading to children." Whilst he was doing so, President Bush was informed that the second World Trade Center tower had been attacked and that the US was now clearly at war. What did Dubya do? Look unsurprised and keep reading. Now a British Labour MP, Michael Meacher, who was a minister in the Blair government from 1997 to last June suggests what a lot of people have quietly suspected for some time:

First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation (Daily Telegraph, September 16 2001). The list they provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom was arrested.

It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that "al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House".

Indeed, and President Stupid apparently slept through a briefing during one of his egregious month-long vacations at his ranch in August 2001 on just this topic.

Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up. French Moroccan flight student Zacarias Moussaoui (now thought to be the 20th hijacker) was arrested in August 2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious interest in learning how to steer large airliners. When US agents learned from French intelligence he had radical Islamist ties, they sought a warrant to search his computer, which contained clues to the September 11 mission (Times, November 3 2001). But they were turned down by the FBI. One agent wrote, a month before 9/11, that Moussaoui might be planning to crash into the Twin Towers (Newsweek, May 20 2002).

All of this makes it all the more astonishing - on the war on terrorism perspective - that there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.

Also true. Most of you will remember that when golfer Payne Stewart's private jet went off course, F-16s were sent to intercept it and, if necessary, shoot it down.

There's a lot more there, some of it true, some rumor, some who knows. Read it and judge for yourself. I suspect myself that there is a lot about 9/11 that remains to be learned, and much of it will damn Dubya and the neocons.

Alabama Residents - Just as Dumb as Their Reputation

On Tuesday, citizens in Alabama will have the unique chance to reform their state taxation system to lower taxes on the poor and increase taxes on wealthy parasites and undertaxed business interests, the funds going to improve the states' worst-in-the-US schools and worst-in-the-US infrastructure. So what do the citizens in Alabama say? According to polls, these cretins are going to throw away this once-in-a-lifetime chance and continue living in the shittiest state in the union.

The latest poll, taken by the University of South Alabama, shows 26 percent in favor of the referendum, 57 percent against.

What is especially ironic is that Governor Bob Riley, a Republican and dedicated conservative, is probably throwing away his political career over this, as his own party have turned on him like the junkyard dogs they are:

Indeed, national conservative groups are crossing their fingers that the Alabama measure goes down in flames to teach a lesson: Jettison a core element of Republican orthodoxy — tax cuts — and you are history.

"I want the whole Republican Party to watch this guy fall on his face," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington. "He lied to his voters. He's been a disaster. He'll never be elected to anything again in his life."

Of course what I really want to see is people like Grover getting tarred and feathered when the American people wake up and realize that Republican tax cuts have in reality been the biggest fiscal giveaway to well off parasites in the history of the world and were intended as a secondary effect to bankrupt the federal government. We'll see how people react when they realize there's no money for their favorite programs, like social security and medicare, thanks to these "tax cutting" pests.

Bob Riley, as a Christian, expects to find his reward in heaven, but he must be suspecting that his own state is Hell. And the not over-bright people who live there apparently want it to stay that way.

Smoking Dope at the NYT

The inane idiots in the NYT editorial office are whining this morning that the Constitution should be changed to permit non-American born citizens to become President. This is an idea that needs to be slapped down as quickly and as firmly as possible. They refer to it as a "lingering wrong." I think it's a great idea. We're already flooded with immigrants; can you imagine what an immigrant president might do? This is not a right wing or left wing issue: this is a defend America issue, and this one is worth writing your congressmen about, friends.

Gray Davis Panders Away

Just as Californians thought that Gray Davis couldn't get more disgusting, he panders to the state's mobs of illegal immigrants and signs a bill giving them the right to get California driver's licenses. What next? Send out the Welcome Wagon to the border?

"The only purpose of it is to place valid state identification documents in the hands of illegal immigrants, undermining enforcement of immigration laws," he said.

The Bush administration's homeland security officials have not spoken out on the law, but some terrorism experts have said that making licenses available to people who are in the country illegally could aid potential terrorists. A driver's license is the most indispensable piece of plastic in America -- making it possible to open bank accounts, cash checks, rent cars and hotel rooms and fly on airplanes.

While a dozen other states make it possible for illegal immigrants to obtain a license, the large number of undocumented workers in California makes the law here a significant policy change in the contentious debate over how to treat the estimated 8 million people who live in the nation without valid visas and permits.

Some of the 9/11 murderers were helped by obtaining, illegally in their case, legal Virginia driver's licenses. California may as well put a sign out: TERRORISTS WELCOME!

Will someone - anyone - defend our borders and rid us of this continuing job stealing and potentially terroristic pestilence?